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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Hong Kong gets new waterfront hotel2 days ago
A new hotel has opened on Hong Kong’s Kowloon waterfront. More than half of its 546 rooms and suites have views of busy Victoria Harbour. The property is the first to be opened in Hong Kong by the locally based Shangri La group under its Kerry Hotels brand. It has a 24-hour fitness centre and an outside swimming pool and jogging track. Hung Hom ferry pier, the Whampoa MTR station and he Tsim Sha Tsui East shopping district are close at hand.
Budget Singapore flights planned2 days ago
The relentless rise of Norwegian continues with the announcement that the low cost airline will launch flights between Gatwick and Singapore later this year. From 28 September it will operate four round trips a week on the route, increasing to five in winter, using Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. One way fares will start at £179 in economy and £699 in the premium cabin. The announcement comes hard on the heels of news that Norwegian will launch services to Seattle and Denver – also in September.
India allows longer stays3 days ago
Tempted by the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to spend a long sojourn in India? New e-visa rules allow you to spend up to two months there. The period the visa is valid after issue has also been extended from 30 days to 120 days. And the rules now permit double entry – meaning you may visit a neighbouring country and return to India. Travellers have been able to apply for visas online since August 2015.
US e-device searches up but few affected4 days ago
The number of international travellers whose electronic devices are searched on arrival in the United States has increased sharply. But the latest statistics from US Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) show that in the six months to the end of March only one in about 12,600 passengers was affected. The figures are particularly interesting in the light of unnerving reports that officials may demand passwords and other information from devices including tablets and smart phones. The number of passengers whose devices were searched during the six months totalled just under 15,000. That significantly higher than the 8383 in the six months to March last year but represented only 0.008 per cent of the 189.6m arriving international travellers. And despite the uproar over President Trump’s thwarted ban on passengers from some mainly Muslim countries, there was no significant jump in searches since he took office.
New cruises from Poole and Portsmouth unveiled5 days ago
The cruise ship Astoria is to sail from Poole and Portsmouth in autumn next year. It will be the first time that operator Cruise & Maritime Voyages has offered holidays from the ports. Itineraries will vary depending on which departure point passengers choose, but will include cruises around the British Isles and to the Norwegian fjords.
Museum of American Revolution set to open6 days ago
America’s road to independence will be the sweeping theme of a major new museum scheduled to open in Philadelphia on Wednesday 19 April. With recreated historical scenes and ‘immersive gallery experiences’ the museum is in the city centre, across the street from Carpenter’s Hall, where the Continental Congress – a convention of delegates from the colonies – first met. Exhibits will include British, French and American arms, art works and diaries and General George Washington’s headquarters tent which survived the Civil War after being passed down to his great granddaughter, Mary Custis Lee, who married the Confederate general Robert E Lee.
Cheltenham hotel re-opens after facelift9 days ago
The former Cheltenham Park Hotel has re-opened under Hilton’s Doubletree banner following a £5 million refurbishment. The Grade II listed property is two miles from the Gloucestershire town centre and three miles from the racecourse. Surrounded by parkland and built originally as a manor house it underwent several transformations, around 1700 and was reconstructed in its present Regency style, in 1833. The building became a hotel in 1922. The facelift covered all 147 bedrooms, the spa and the addition of new gym equipment.
Holiday cyclists to get satnav voice directions10 days ago
Customers on cycling holidays with Headwater are being offered GPS voice navigation technology for the first time on 22 of its itineraries. Once downloaded to their smart phones or other relevant devices the software can be used offline to save fiddling with paper maps. The walking and cycling specialist tour operator says "there will be much less need to stop and start while pedalling, giving more freedom just to soak up your surroundings and enjoy the ride”. Conventional notes and maps will still be available for those more comfortable with them. Destinations where the RidewithGPS option is available include Alsace, Burgundy, the Algarve, Catalunya and Umbria.
Val d’Isere plans underground lift access11 days ago
The French ski resort of Val d’Isere, whose slopes are among the world’s finest, is to build an underground moving walkway linking planned new accommodation with its main mountain access lifts. The walkway will form part of a huge re-development of the resort centre, scheduled to start this autumn. Guests will be able to ski back to their doors. At a cost of some £170m the five year project – to be called Le Coin de Val – will add two major new hotels, and many chalets, shops, restaurants and other services. Buildings in traditional stone and wood will include a visitor arrival centre, an enclosed bus station and a child care facility. They will have smart systems to limit energy consumption. Hotel rooms and apartments will be heated using geothermal sources.
BA launches biometric boarding12 days ago
British Airways has started introducing biometric boarding gates at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Passengers scan their boarding passes and the technology matches the traveller with a facial image captured earlier as they pass through security. So far the technology is available only at a handful of domestic flights gates. BA says it will open three more at each domestic departure stand until mid-June with a view to roll out the scheme on international flights in the future.
New budget US flights planned13 days ago
Fast expending airline Norwegian is to launch flights from London to Denver and Seattle. From mid-September the low cost carrier will operate two round trips a week to the former – on Tuesdays and Saturdays – proving a little competition for British Airways, which flies there non stop daily from Heathrow. It will add Thursday departures in winter, when the service promises to be a budget option for skiers and snowboarders heading for the Rocky Mountains. It will fly four times a week to the north western city of Seattle, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Rome grande dame hotel to re-open16 days ago
Rome’s Hotel Eden, whose Golden Book has been signed by guests from King Alfonso XIII of Spain to Rommel and – on the same page – Montgomery – is scheduled to re-open on 1 April after an extensive 18 month refurbishment. The number of rooms and suites has been cut from 121 to 98 and a new spa has been added. The hotel, which opened for the first time in October 1889 is part of the Dorchester Collection. It is a short walk from the Spanish Steps. Diners at its top floor La Terrazza restaurant will provide sweeping views of a cityscape including dome of the St Peter’s.
Luxury stays on Aussie cattle station17 days ago
An Australian working cattle station once managed by a man who sailed with Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle has been converted to luxury accommodation. Goonoo Goonoo Station, 25kms south of Tamworth, New South Wales, comprises seven luxury cottages with WiFi, a heated pool, tennis court and a restaurant serving local produce. It dates from the mid 19th century when sheep were farmed there. Accommodation includes the former Jackaroos’ (young station workers) quarters and the five bedroom, Palladian style Homestead, originally home to Philip King, grandson of New South Wales’ third governor who befriended Darwin and moved there after serving as a midshipman on the Beagle.
Cranach blockbuster to open18 days ago
Dusseldorf is set to stage a major exhibition of the works of Lucan Cranach the Elder. The exhibition, scheduled to open on Saturday 8 April, will be one of many events in Germany marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and the role of the artist’s close friend, Martin Luther. Some 250 of his paintings, drawings and prints will be brought together from international galleries and collections, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. Among them will be the Prague Altarpiece, whose widely scattered component parts will be united for the first time for the duration of the exhibition. Work by other artists of the period, such as Durer and Hans Holbein the Younger, will also be on show. So will some illustrating Cranach’s lingering impact on the likes of Picasso, Otto Dix and Andy Warhol. The exhibition, which runs until 30 July, looks set to enhance the appeal of Dusseldorf as a excellent, if under recognised, short break destination.
Amazon eco-tourism centre to open19 days ago
A new rainforest eco-tourism centre is scheduled to open this June in the Peruvian Amazon. It will have a canopy walkway taking guests along a series of seven hanging bridges 1129ft above he jungle floor. Visitors will be able to take part in various conservation projects, overseen by a Peruvian NGO, the Inkaterra Asociacion (ITA). Accommodation will be in four cabanas with double beds, bathrooms and terraces and two pavilions with eight rooms sleeping four people. The restaurant will serve only local ingredients from the region. Pisco sours will be on offer in the bar. The centre was designed originally as a research station for ITA. The property will have a canopy walkway. Guests will be able to join ‘wildlife focused’ excursions, ranging from trips of a few hours to five day itineraries. Inquiries to email@example.com.
Gatwick to get new Rwanda flights20 days ago
Flights between Gatwick and Rwanda are set to start next month. RwandAir has confirmed it will operate three round trips a week to Kigali from 26 May. It is expected it will use new Airbus A330 aircraft. The airline is reported to be planning departures on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Depending on the day, flights will leave the Rwandan capital between 12pm and 1pm, arriving in London between 8pm and 8.30pm. The will depart for Kigali and hour or so later, arriving between 7.10am and 7.30am next morning.
Rolling, rolling, rolling ...23 days ago
Wannabe cowhands will be able to rope, throw and brand ‘em in Colorado this summer. Ranchlands’ tented camp at Chico Basin is clinic in July at which guests will learn techniques such as calf wrestling and roping from horseback. It’s not clear whether trying to understand ’em will be part of the curriculum but at a separate clinic at the company’s Zapata Ranch better communication and “deep connection” with horses is certainly on the agenda. Guests will also be able to ride with the 2000 strong resident bison herd and explore the Great Sand Dunes National Park from the saddle. The two clinics run from 2-9 July and 9-16 July respectively.
St Ives gallery set to re-open24 days ago
Tate St Ives will re-open on Friday 31 March after a major refurbishment and the addition of a new gallery extension that has doubled its exhibition space. The opening will be marked with two exhibitions under the title The Studio and the Sea. One will feature specially commissioned work by Jessica Warboys. The other will examine tradition and experiments by of artists working in ceramics studios since 1920.
Cruise line introduces resident historians25 days ago
Viking Cruises has introduced resident historians on three of its ships. Sailing on the Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, they provide customers with background on ports of call. They lecture, for example, on the Roman and Ottoman Empires, the Hanseatic League and Imperial Russia. Their role also includes conducting history themed dinner discussions and one on one time with passengers. The first three to be recruited are Dr Mark Callaghan, a specialist in European art and culture, Lt Colonel Tony Coutts-Britton, an expert on social and political aspects of European military history, and Dr Fenella Bazin, who specialises in the aged of the Vikings and modern Norway. The programme was developed by Dr Charles Doherty, the line’s chief resident historian, who has lectured in over 60 countries for institutions including the Royal Geographic Society and will continue tio do so on some cruises. A video on the initiative can be found at www.vikingcruises.co.uk.
Brexit could cause flights chaos – warning25 days ago
Ryanair has warned the UK government of a distinct possibility that flights to Europe could be disrupted unless acts urgently to strike a new bilateral aviation deal with the EU. Kenny Jacobs, the low cost airline’s chief marketing officer, expressed concern that the Government seems to have no plan B to maintain Britain’s liberalised air links with Europe, if Brexit forced Britain to withdraw from the EU’s open skies agreement.
“On the day that Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50” he said, there was "a distinct possibility that there may be no flights between the UK and Europe for a period of time after March 2019. The best we can hope for is a new bilateral agreement between the UK and EU. However, we worry that Britain may not be able to negotiate such a bilateral in time for the release by airlines of summer 2019 schedules in mid-2018.
Ryanair, like all airlines, plans its flights 12 months in advance, so there are just 12 months to go until we finalise our summer 2019 schedule, which could see deep cuts to our flights both to, from and within the UK from March 2019 onwards. The UK Government must respond to the airlines and our customers, and put aviation at the top of its agenda when it negotiates its Brexit deal with Brussels. Britain’s airlines, airports and holidaymakers need a real and early solution for aviation, or risk Britain being cut off from Europe in March 2019.”