In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Holiday currency may be cheaper on linealmost 8 years ago
Buying foreign currency on line could be significantly cheaper than doing so at the airport, a survey by consumer watchdog magazine Which? Travel suggests. Its researchers received €43 more when chaging £500 via Thomas Cook via the internet than at one Heathrow exchange outlet and $69 more for the same amound of sterling when changing the same amount at a different counter at the same airport. The message is to shop around, however, On line rates, warns the magazine, are not always better. And there's a risk attached to buying holiday fundson line, it notes. Currency exchange is not regulated by the Financial Services Authority or covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, so if the supplier goes bust before completing your order, your money may be at risk.
BA flies to Belfast againalmost 8 years ago
British Airways started flying to Northern Ireland again today after a gap of eleven years. The airline is operating between Heathrow and Belfast City Airport. The move follows its acquisition of bmi (British Midland). BA will maintain bmi's summer schedule of six return flights a day but will add an extra round trip when it switches to its winter timetable on October 28.
Cuzco gets new luxury hotelalmost 8 years ago
A new luxury hotel opened this week in the Peruvian city of Cuzco. Palacio Nazarenas is a few steps from the Plaza das Armas with its cathedral and Jesuit church of La Campania, close to other attractions including the Barrio de San Blas, a mix of cafés craft shops and traditional houses – and about 20 minutes' drive from the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman. Part of the Orient-Express group, the hotel has 55 suites – all equipped with oxygen as a safeguard against the effects of high altitude. It also has a spa and what is claimed to be the city's first outdoor pool.
Free Wi-Fi at hotels under pressurealmost 8 years ago
Hotels that offer free Wi-Fi may be forced to charge extra for high speed connections, according to a report in USA Today. Two tier systems have been introduced already at some properties in America and more may follow. Why? When guests started using the internet it was mainly for email and text. Now, partly because of the huge popularity of iPads and other tablets, they are increasingly downloading movies, and sending and receiving graphics and photos. This is soaking up bandwidth. Hotels have been buying more and are having to decide whether to continue to offer completely free access, charge customers for more than an allotted free period – or make them pay for speed.
Hurtigruten drops some single chargesalmost 8 years ago
Norwegian coastal cruise operator Hurtigruten has dropped its single supplement on some departures planned for next winter, The move applies to cruises to see the Northern lights on some dates between October and December and will save passengers up to £484 off the brochure price. www.hurtigruten.co.uk
Strong flavours of Sicily at new hotelalmost 8 years ago
A new hotel has opened at the foot of Mount Etna. Monaci delle Terre Nere is a converted Sicilian villa with six rooms, overlooking the Mediterranean and set on an organic farm. Traces of the building's heritage have been preserved in the shape of an old wine press – the owner produces his own wine – and ceiling frescos. Fruit, vegetables and herbs are grown in the farm. Stays there, including special introductory packages in July, can be booked via www.welcomebeyond.com.
More over 55s taking weekend breaksalmost 8 years ago
Grandparents are increasingly taking weekend breaks, according to over travel company Shearings. The firm, which specialises in holidays for the over 55s, says it has seen a 43% rise in such bookings over the past five years, with particularly popular destinations including Whitby, Llandudno and Torquay. It believes this is partly because people are retiring later and because they need to fit trips around caring for grandchildren. Commercial director Caroline Brown says: "We've seen the proportion of weekend bookings increase steadily over the past five years, with many of our customers choosing convenient self drive breaks to some of our best hotels across the UK. It's a trend we expect to continue as grandparents look to juggle child care, work and leisure time while keeping costs affordable."
Docklands to the Balearics - in winteralmost 8 years ago
British Airways will fly from London City Airport to the Balearic Islands in winter. The airline has decided to extend its services to Palma, Mallorca and Ibiza, which were originally conceived as as a summer only operation. It will fly twice a week to both islands – on Thursdays and Sundays.
Glacier exbition centre opensalmost 8 years ago
A new exhibition centre designed to explain the creation and evolution of glaciers has opened at the Montenvers Mer de Glace in Chamonix. The centre, which employs is an initiative from the Compagnie du Mont Blanc. which operates the century old rack railway and more recently built cable car to the famous glacier above the French alpine resort. It says it has responded to requests from visitors.
Cheaper holidays if Eurozone breaks up says reportalmost 8 years ago
The price of holidays would tumble if the Eurozone fell apart, according to new research by Euromonitor International. In the ensuing chaos the number of travellers arriving in the affected countries would plummet by 11% and spending would drop by over 17% and weakened demand forced the tourist industry to respond with price cuts. Even if Greece alone dropped out the region would see a fall of 2.8% in tourism and 4.4% in spending, according to the research. However, logic suggests that a return to the drachma, which would mean devaluation against the euro, would lead to a a revival in tourism to Greece itself. Whatever happens, says Euromonitor, current economic uncertainty will mean bargain hunting will remain popular among consumers. "European hotels may start to discount prices heavily during the summer season if bookings appear too weak. Aggressive offers, such as spa credits and free nights, are expected to continue.
Serengeti gets new safari accommodationalmost 8 years ago
Two new places to stay while on safari in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park will open soon. At the end of next month guests are due to start arriving at Serengeti House, which will have access to a huge private reserve. In September a solar powered tented camp is scheduled to open on the banks of the Mara River. Both will be operated by South Africa based Singita www.singita.com). The lodge is in the Singina Grumeti Reserves and overlooks the Serengeti plains. It will accommodate up to eight guests in four suites. two of which will have private outdoor showers and terraces, and will have a pool. The Singita Mara River camp, which will have six tents, is in the Lamai Triangle, in the park's northernmost tip. The Mara River is well known for the much photographed wildebeest crossing, and has large populations of crocodiles and hippos. Singita has several game lodges and a camp in South Africa. It already has two lodges and another tented camp in Tanzania and has expanded to Zimbabwe. The company's stated intent is to balance hospitality with the environment and respect for local communities. In Zimbabwe, for example, where it has opened the Pamushana Lodge in the Malilangwe reserve, it is supporting the Grunmeti community and wildlife conservation, including a project to relocate the endangered black rhino.
Silver travellers Britain's most prolific finds reportalmost 8 years ago
Britain's silver travellers have defied the economic gloom, according to a new report. Long haul travel in the 55-64 age category increased between 2008 and 2010 while the overall holiday market slumped by 9%. The over 65s are Britain's most prolific holidaymakers, with 28% of those going abroad doing so twice or more each year compared with 19% of all holidaymakers. The research was commissioned by tour operator Travelsphere from Mintel. Surprisingly, it says the over 55s are more likely to book their whole trip on line than those under 45. Two thirds of them book via the internet. "What is clear from the research is that while current economic hardships have impacted harder on the holidaying habits of the under 45s, those over 45 still consider holidays essential. Two thirds of over 55s see holidays as necessary spend, compared to only half of 45-54 year olds and 45% of under 45s." Ian Smith, group CEO, or Travelsphere's parent company, the Page & Moy Travel Group, said: “Many of today’s older travellers have time, money and the internet at their fingertips to entice and enable. The UK’s older population is growing at the fastest rate, accounting for 17% of our population today, but is expected to rise to 23% by 2035, so older travellers will continue to dominate the tourism offering at home and abroad”.
Peak summer ferry fares cutalmost 8 years ago
Brittany Ferries has slashed fares in August by up to 35%. Two people in a standard length car can cross for £199 return. The deals must be booked by midnight in Monday (June 25) and travellers may stay in France for a maximum of eight days. They apply to sailings between Portsmouth and Caen or St Malo and between Plymouth and Roscoff.
Live TV planned n long haul flightsalmost 8 years ago
Keeping up with sporting events such as the current Euro finals should soon be possible on Air France and KLM flights. The airline partners are to launch a trial of the relevant technology early next year in partnership with Panasonic Avionics. The aim is to provide passengers with internet connections and eventually live TV reception. The trial will be conducted on two Boeing 777-300 aircraft, one from each airline. Travellers in all cabins will be able to access the internet via wi-fi enabled smart phones, laptops or tablets for a fixed charge. They will be asked what they expect from such a service and for suggestions on improving it when it is introduced more widely.
Birmingham - Stockholm flights plannedalmost 8 years ago
SAS is to launch flights between Birmingham and Stockholm from October. The Scandinavian airline will operate every day except Saturday, with one way fares starting at £104. It already flies direct to the Swedish capital from Heathrow, Manchester and – in summer – from Edinburgh.
Sheraton opens new Madrid hotelalmost 8 years ago
Madrid has a new Sheraton hotel and spa. Though it is five kilometres or so from the Plaza Mayor in the city centre in the in the quiet suburb of Mirasierra the property is witin easy reach by metro of attractions such as the, Prado, the superb Thyssen Museum and the Reina Sofia gallery, which houses Picasso's Guernica. Close to Real Madrid's Bernabeu stadium, it has 182 rooms and suites, indoor and outdoor pools and a fitness centre.
Ski holiday sale!almost 8 years ago
We've barely had a summer and here comes a ski holiday sale. London based operator Ski Solutions has lopped more than £1000 off the price of some packages – but you have to be prepared to forget about escaping the rain and book by Friday. Silver Travel Advisor particularly likes the look of a £1555 deal for a week's B&B at the Sebastian Hotel and Residence Club in Vail, Colorado – down by more than £1100 from the usual price says the operator – and ten days (also B&B) at the Fairmon Banff Springs in Canada for £1370, a saving over over £435. Prices include flights.
Sweden's new crime novel toursalmost 8 years ago
Hooked on Camilla Låckberg's crime thrillers? New guided tours have been launched in Fjållbacka, about a 90 minute sdrive north of Gothenburg, where her novels are set. Among other spots which figure in her plotsthey take in the Kungsklyftan Gorge, where the bodies of three of her fictional murder victims were found. The tours take 1hr 30mins and cost 150SEK or about £13. The author also writes cookbooks – with childhood friend Christian Hellberg, herad chef at the Bryggan Fjållbacka hotel and restaurant. You could stay there from £129 half board.
New flights to Boliviaalmost 8 years ago
Flights between London and the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz will start on November 29. Spanish carrier Air Europa will operate two round trips a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays via Madrid. Santa Cruz de la Sierra, to give the city its full name, is in the eastern part of Bolivia. Lopmas de Arena de El Palmar, an area of dunes and fresh water lagoons, is a short drive to the south. Another 70 miles or so in the same direction are the Inca ruins of El Fuerte de Samaipata. Across the Rio Grande to the East are Jesuit missions, founded in the 17th and 16th centuries, and sone 275 miles north east is the Noel Kempff Mercado national park, an area of rain forest with spectaculat waterfalls and wildlife from alligators ro spider monkeys. Outbound services will depart from Gatwick at 5.05pm and from Madrid at 11.55pm, arriving next morning at 6.35am in Santa Cruz. Homeward flights wil leave Bolivia at 12.50pm, arriving in London the following morning at 9.10am.
Nile cruises from Cairo to Aswan to re-startalmost 8 years ago
Cruising the whole 600 miles between Cairo and Aswan is to become an option again. Tour company Bales Worldwide is taking advantage of the Egyptian government's decision to open this whole stretch of the Nile again after 15 years of part closure. It will start operating cruises in Autumn this year using Dahabiyya sailboats, which carry 12 passengers. Each cruise will be accompanied by an Egyptologist. Customers will be able to explore some of Egupt's less familiar sites, such as the rock tombs of Beni Hassan Tell el-Amarna and Abydos.
Full details of the cruises have yet to be worked out. At this stage the operator is inviting customers to pre-register their interest.