In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • News 540

    Ibis Christchurch

    Christchurch hotel re-opens

    almost 8 years ago

    Ibis Christchurch has opened again. Parent group Accor saysit is the first hotel to receive guests again following the earthquake which hit the New Zealand city in February last year. The property, which was four years old when the disaster struck, suffered relatively minor damage but has undergone a significant refurbishment covereing all 155 rooms and public areas. The hotel, which is on Hereford Street, just off Cathedral Square, has also been strengthened to comply with the city's new building code,

  • News 539


    Cruising a priority for retiring Brits

    almost 8 years ago

    Nearly half of all Britons aged between 45 and 60 intend to take a cruise when they retire, according to a new survey. A poll published before the start of the current National Cruise Week found that a holiday afloat figured in the plans of 41%, coming second on their wish list to buying a villa abroad (52%). Third came "getting involved with a local charity (38%) just ahead of starting a vegetable garden (35%). Twenty nine per cent said they planned to volunteer abroad. Next came learning to play a musical instrument (21%), tutoring students (17%), taking dance lessons (13%), learning a language (11% – and making a sky dive (7%). The poll was conducted  by on line cruise agency

  • Walking guides needed

    almost 8 years ago

    Walking holiday organisation HF Holidays is looking for new volunteer leaders. It needs experienced walkers to guide groups of all abilities on walks of between four and 15 miles. HF Holidays is run as a cooperative society, operating walking holidays for the benefit of shareholders and associate members. Cat Altounyan, who is its head of walking leader operations, said the organisation had added three new country house bases in the past year and was looking for like minded volunteers to join its team – "people who are as passionate about walking as we are". Leaders are provided with travel expenses and accommodation at country houses in locations in Britain – including Glen Coe in Scotland and Dovedale in Derbyshire – and major walking areas in other countries.

  • News 536

    Dumpling Festival, St Johann, Austria

    Dumplings by the thousand

    almost 8 years ago

    They may be made with cheese, mushroom, smoked bacon and garlic  or chocolate and marzipan. You may think them as heavy as hand grenades – but the best Austrian dumplings are really quite light. The cream of them will be available at St Johann in Tirol’s annual Knödelfest (Dumpling Festival) on September 22. It promises "the largest display of dumplings the world has ever seen" -  25,000 of them in 23 different varieties from traditional to contemporary, sweet to savoury will be served up on a 300m long table which will stretch through the town from the Marktplatz to Speckerbachstrasse. Take care though. They may not be as leaden as you imagine – but you don't want to wind up looking like one. Crystal Summer has packages there that week from £427, including flights from Manchester.

  • News 537

    Trujillo tour - Dominican Republic

    Trujillo tour launched

    almost 8 years ago

    Follow the footsteps of the Goat. A new tour launched in the Dominican Republic takes in sites indelibly associated with the 30 year dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, the president widely regarded as one of the Caribbean's most ruthless. The tour is called "The Path of the Goat" in reference to his nickname. To heighten the period atmosphere, visitors taking tours at the weekend ride in 1950s and 1960s vintage cars. Points of interest include the site of his presidential palace, the monument on the spot where he was shot and killed – an event which forms the basis opt Mario Vargas Llosa's riveting novel La Fiesta del Chiove (The Year of the Goat) – and the Museum of Dominican Resistance, which features a historical overview. Tours are on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am to 12pm, and from 2pm to 5pm. They start at on the “Avenida del Puerto,” the seaside avenue on Santo Domingo’s colonial city. 

    For further information visit (check locally for information on cheaper weekday tours by minibus).

  • News 535


    Cool sounds and Burgundy wine

    almost 8 years ago

    Pianist  Mulgrew Miller will star at the Beaune Jazz Festival later this month. He'll appear on the second evening, with Ivan Taylor on bass and Rodney Green on drums. Loosen up for the sessions with a wine tasting at the Chapelle Saint Etienne. The festival take place on September 16 and 17.

  • Prohibition - new exhibition to open

    almost 8 years ago

    Slip into a re-created speakeasy and – assuming you're still energetic enough – learn how to dance the Charleston at forthcoming new exhibition in Philadelphia. American Spirits: the Rise and Fall of Prohibition, will run from October 19 until April 28 at the National Constitution Centre. It will explain how the temperance movement led to the 18th Amendment – the only amendment to the Constitution ever to be repealed. Exhibits evoking the 1929s will include temperance propaganda, flapper "duds" and authentic home brew equipment. The joint will be jumping. Meanwhile Philadelphia's 106 year old Lafayette Building has been converted into a hotel. The ten storey property is scheduled to open next month as the four star Hotel Monaco. The building is on Independence Mall, close to the Liberty Bell, which was rung, according to legend, to mark the vote for independence in 1776, Operated by the Kimpton group, the hotel will have 268 rooms, 17 luxury suites, and will incorporate a rooftop lounge.

  • News 533

    Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh

    Caledonian facelift completed

    almost 8 years ago

    Edinburgh's grande dame Caledonian Hotel on Princes Street, whose glittering guest list has included Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor and Bing Crosby, will emerges from a multi million pound refurbishment as a Waldorf Astoria next week. Among the new additions will be two news restaurants launched by the Michelin starred Galvin brothers. A new spa will open later this year. The Caley, as it is known locally, opened originally as a railway hotel in 1903. With 241 room s and suites will still be part of the Hilton stable but from September 15 it will be operated under the groups' Waldorf  Astoria brand.

  • Narwhals and pumas

    almost 8 years ago

    Trips to seek out the narwhals of Canada's Baffin Island and the pumas of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile are among the new offerings for next year from wildlife specialist Naturetrek ( The former includes daily expeditions by Inuit sleds. It departs on June 2 with prices from £8995. There are two departures dates for the latter – March 14 and April 4, They cost from £3995. New holidays closer to home include a week's bird watching in Sicily, departing on May one, from £1295. All these prices include international flights.

  • News 531

    Glencoe House

    Historic house becomes Highlands hotel

    almost 8 years ago

    A grand Scottish house built as an expression of love from a self made millionaire to his wife has opened as a luxury hotel in the Highlands of Scotland. Glencoe House, overlooking Loch Leven has three suites, two with private terraces. A further four will open by next Easter. The hotel, which is set in ten acres of grounds, is close to Oban and Fort William. The house was designed by leading Scottish architect Sir Robert Rowland Anderson, just before the dawn of the last century. It was built for Donald Alexander Smith who made a fortune in Canada. He was a director of, and principal shareholder in, the syndicate which built the Trans-Canada railway. It was Smith who drove in the "golden spike" that joined the track laid from the east with that built from Vancouver. Smith became Canadian High Commissioner in London. His enduring love for Isabella is recalled by their separate initials on the building – separate as a demonstration of respect for  her individuality. Between 1950 and 2008 the house was a hospital for the elderly. A one bedroom suite for two  with breakfast, coffees and teas costs from £250. A two bedroom suite for four sharing costs from £300.

  • News 530

    Congo gorilla

    Gorilla tracking camps open in Congo

    almost 8 years ago

    Two new base camps for gorilla tracking has opened in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). The camps, in the rain forest of Odzala-Kokoua National Park, have been set up by Wilderness Safaris (, which claims to be the first company to introduce eco tourism to the country. Lango Camp is on the edge of the savannah, with access to the Lekoli and Mamili Rivers and Ngaga Camp is in the heart of a marantaceae forest. Each consists of six guests rooms, inspired by the designs of the local B'Aka pygmy groups and making extensive use of locally sourced materials such as sustainably harvester hardwoods, bamboo and raffia palm matting. The same materials have been used to build the hides from which guests view wildlife. Besides tracking habituated groups among Africa's densest population of western lowland gorillas, they offer river trips by pirogue and game drives in the savannah. UK based Rainbow Tours ( ) is offering six night packages, including international and domestic flights, three nights at each camp plus guided walks, game drives, river trips and gorilla tracking, from £4695 per person. It's worth checking the latest Foreign Office advice on visiting the Republic but note that this is not the Democratic Republic of Congo, to which the FCO (at the time of writing) advises against all but essential travel.

  • A taste of homemade honey

    almost 8 years ago

    The honey for tea at St. Ermin's this month has been produced by the hotel's residents. Some 200,000 of them, at a rough estimate. Thankfully for the staff they don't require the nightly turn down. These residents are Buckfast bees and they live on two different sections of roof at the hotel, which is a stone's throw from St James Park station. This is the first full harvest from their six hives. The bees, which are said to be very good tempered, have access to some pretty rarefied pollen, as they are able to pop into the gardens of nearby Buckingham Palace. Apart from appearing at tea and in lunch and dinner dishes, cocktails infused with honey will be on offer.

  • Bales launches voluntary work packages

    almost 8 years ago

    Want to make a difference when you travel? Tour operator Bales has launched holidays incorporating a a taste of of volunteer for work in communities overseas.  Customers can lend a hand developing water supply and sanitation in northern Thailand, for example, help build a school in Kenya or carry out various tasks such as building or teaching village children in the Peruvian Andes. They can also help monitor leopard and elephant populations on a reserve in Namibia or work with scientists gathering data on the Arabian oryx, Gordon's wildcat and Macqueen's bustard in the Dubai Desert Conservation reserve. Bales' move follows a report – posted in Silver Travel Advisor news in May – of an explosion of interest among the over 50s in voluntary working holidays.

  • Operator offers more holidays without single supplement

    almost 8 years ago

    Silver travellers adjusting to travelling alone will welcome a move by tour operator tour operator Voyages Jules Verne ( to expand its range of holidays which carry no single supplement. Its latest programme, which runs from next month to December 2013, includes nine more tours free to the charge. Among them are a Danube music tour, a trip to the edge of the Arctic Circle, a package incorporating a Nile cruise and a stay at the Pyramids and an "Indian adventure" taking customers to the Golden Temple and volunteer kitchens of Amritsar, as well as to the former summer capitals of the British at Shimla and Dharamsala. The operator says availability of rooms without the supplement is limited, making early booking advisable.

  • Star Clippers add Cuba

    almost 8 years ago

    Tall ship operator Star Clippers ( will sail to Cuba for the first time in 2014. Its vessel Star Flyer will make eight voyages there in February and March. They will include a two week itinerary starting in Costa Rica and travelling through the Panama Canal, a one week cruise which will also take in the Cayman Islands – and a voyage from Cuba to St. Maarten, visiting Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands en route.

  • All change at All Leisure

    almost 8 years ago

    Passengers who have booked holidays for next year on All Leisure's cruise ship  Discovery are being offered alternative holidays following a joint venture tie up between its operator and Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Discovery, which will emerge from a major refurbishment next February, will then be part of the CMV fleet, whose flagship is the Marco Polo. Passengers who don't want to switch to the new brand will have three choices: they may switch to another All Leisure ship, Voyager, which is scheduled to start operating in December. They may take an alternative cruise with Swan Hellenic, which is also part of the All Leisure stable – or they may opt for refunds.  CMV says its customers who have already booked holidays next year on Ocean Countess would be transferred to Discovery. Ocean Countess will shortly return to its owner. Discovery will sail from UK ports including Liverpool, Harwich, Hull, Bristol and the Port of Tyne and operate fly cruises from Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

  • Rodent virus sparks Yosemite alert

    almost 8 years ago

    Tourists in California's Yosemite National Park are being warned to take special precautions after the death of two visitors from Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, a rare disease carried by rodents. The Park Service has advised anyone who stayed in Curry Village between June 10 and August 24 to seek urgent medical attention if they develop fever, aches, and flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can appear from one to six weeks after exposure to the disease. It is increasing rodent-proofing and trapping measures in tent cabins and buildings throughout the park. The disease is caused by a virus that individuals get through contact with the urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents, primarily deer mice. are being warned to keep food in tightly sealed containers, take care not to stir up dust, minimise storage of luggage and other materials on floors, avoid touching live rodents – and to contact housekeeping if there are signs of rodent droppings or urine in their cabins or rooms.

    For further information visit

  • News 523

    Brecon electric car

    Car hire goes electric in the Brecon Beacons

    almost 8 years ago

    Electric cars are now available to hire in the Brecon Beacons National Park. A fleet of Renault Twizys, which can reach 50mph and travel around 50 miles between charges, has been paid for from the park authority's sustainable development fund. They can be rented and several holiday properties, including the Angel Hotel and Brecon Beacon Holiday Cottages in Abergavenny and Old Radnor Barn in Talgarth. Over 20 charging points have been set up at pubs, cafés and visitor attractions.

  • News 522

    Sri Lanka

    BA returns to Sri Lanka

    almost 8 years ago

    British Airways is to fly to Sri Lanka again. Starting on March 31 the airlime will operate three round trips a week to Colombo from Gatwick by Boeing 777. The aircraft will be split into three cabins – Club World with flat beds, World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller, with return fares starting at £2244, £1316 and £595 respectively. Flights will operate via Male in the Maldives – outbound on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, back on Saturdays, Mondays and Thursdays. BA last flew to Sri Lanka in 1998. The civil war between Government and Tamil Tiger forces formally ended in 2009.

    The latest Foreign Office advice is at

  • Free WiFi at Los Angeles Airport

    almost 8 years ago

    Complimentary WiFi access is now available in the terminals at Los Angeles International Airport. Connections are possible in most public areas. Passengers needing a higher speed service can pay a premium of $4.95 for one hour or $7.95 for 24 hours (though we hope you won't be stuck there that long). Other airports please copy.