Towel wars over? Thomas Cook offers sunbed booking for £22

Is this the end of the battle for the sunbed? Thomas Cook is offering holidaymakers the chance to pre-book sun loungers, eliminating the need for the dawn dash to the pool to bag one with a towel.

For €25, customers will be able to book a specific sun lounger for their entire holiday. The Anglo-German company says it is the UK’s first package holiday firm to offer this service, which it is trialling at three hotels in Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura from the end of February.

Customers will receive an email six days before departure asking if they would like to choose their sunbed in advance. They will be able to choose their preferred spot on a pool plan featuring a compass to help them work out what time of the day areas will be in the sun or shade.

It means families can pick several sunbeds together, although the cost will rise as the €25 fee is per lounger.

Thomas Cook plans to offer pre-bookable sunbed at 30 hotels this summer. Between 10% and 20% of a hotel’s sunbeds will be bookable to ensure there are enough available for those who don’t want to book.

The Thomas Cook UK managing director, Chris Mottershead, said: “Traditional package holidays are a thing of the past. Holidaymakers today want to personalise their package, mixing and matching the elements that best fit their needs and lifestyle.”

Travel firms receive numerous complaints from customers unable to use hotel sunbeds because many are reserved by people leaving towels, books and other belongings on them.

A separate service allowing customers to select their hotel room before the start of their trip attracted more than 10,000 bookings during a trial phase last year, Thomas Cook said. It will be available in 300 hotels this summer and cost €30 per room.