In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • News 409

    Exeter Cathedral roof

    New hotel and cathedral roof tours in Exeter

    about 8 years ago

    A new hotel is scheduled to open close to Exeter Cathedral* on June 25. The 59 room Magdalen Chapter is a converted 19th century building which formerly housed the West of England Eye Hospital. Near the shops of Gandy Street and the quayside, the property promises free wi fi, iPad 2s in every room, complimehtary minibars, a spa. a fitness room  and an "inside out" pool which will allow guests to swim out into the fresh air – and back again. Rates will start at £150 for a double with breakfast.

    *Meanwhile the cathedral is now running guided tours of its roof. Visitors can walk above the longest continuous medieval vault in the world and finish on top of the North Tower which gives incredible views across the city. You'll need to be fit enough to climn 251 steps, mind. The tours run until September on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2pm and Saturdays at 11am. Adults pay £10 – or £8.75 for over 60s. ([email protected])

  • News 408

    Mary Dullforce

    Mother of five wins stay at Combermere Abbey Cottages

    about 8 years ago

    Mother of five and resident of Monmouth in South Wales, Mary Dullforce, has won a mid-week 3 night stay at Combermere Abbey Cottages in Shropshire with Silver Travel Advisor.

    Mary is originally from Ohio in North America, and enjoys travelling. She is an enthusiastic artist, writer and public speaker currently undertaking Ministry studies.

    Debbie Marshall, who heads up the Silver Travel Advisor team, said “We’re delighted for Mary, as she clearly enjoys her travels. She will be enjoying a mid-week stay in one of the stunning five-star eco-friendly Combermere Abbey Cottages with her family, and we very much look forward to reading Mary’s review at”.

  • News 407

    Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel and Spa

    Italian monastery becomes luxury hotel

    about 8 years ago

    A hotel created by converting a 17th century monastery is due to open next month on Italy's stunning Amalfi coast. The Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel and Spa is perched high over the Bay of Salerno, near the fishing village of Conca dei Marini and not far from Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. It has 20 guest rooms and suites – all with sea views – a restaurant, a heated infinity pool, and tiered, landscaped gardens on five levels.

  • Earthquake simulator to open in California

    about 8 years ago

    Does the earth still move for you? It will at a new exhibit scheduled to open on May 26  at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Called Earthquake, it will incorporate a simulator, resembling a Victorian house with simulated views of the city skyline. A sudden but sustained tremour, followed by a quick aftershock, will give visitors and idea of what it was like to be in the West Coast city during the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989. Then, in a second simulation, the clock will turn back to 1906, and a quake some 32 times stronger. The exhibit will also incorporate a walk through model of the earth,  showing how the shifting of tectonic plates originates and a digital show which simulates flight over the San Andreas fault and covers major seismic events atound the world – including the Japanese tsunami.

  • News 405

    Trujillo, Spain

    Art and cooking lessons in Trujillo

    about 8 years ago

    Courses combining tuition in art and cookery off the beaten track in Spain are on offer in the Extremadura town of Trujillo. Participants will be based at Villa Piedras Albas, a 16th century Renaissance palace with Florentine style arched loggia. The property overlooks the main square, the Plaza Mayor, with its grand statue of Trujillo's most famous son, Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of Peru. The one week courses, which will run in June, September and October (Trujillo can be searingly hot in high summer) are offered by Trujillo Villas Espana ( They include two days each of art lessons, with the opportunity to sketch local scenes, and instruction in cooking regional dishes with ingredients brought back by Trujillo's conquistadors from the New World – such as such as chocolate and peppers. The cost is £980 per person (flights extra).

  • Get under the volcano's skin

    about 8 years ago

    Guided tours inside one of  Iceland's volcanoes will be available for six weeks this summer. Visitors will descent 120 metres by cable from the surface of Thrihnukagigur, to enter its huge magma chamber. The volcano has been dormant for over 4000 years and remains one of the few which are safe to explore inside. The tours will run from 15 June to 31 July.

  • News 404

    Changbaishan, China

    Luxury on the piste - in China

    about 8 years ago

    Ski in – ski out is the most convenient way of spending a holiday on the slopes. But in China? Speaking volumes about that country's economic rise, the Starwood hotel group will open a new accommodation complex in August by the pistes at Changbaishan in northern China's Jilin province. In cooperation the Dalian Wanda Group it will operate under the group's Westin and Sheraton brands, with comforts including spa facilities and swimming pools.  Changbaishan's ski area is reported to be on the brink of a major expansion, with two  gondolas. three other high speed lifts and some 20 runs scheduled to open in time for next season. If you're headed for China in winter it could make a lively dinner party opener.

  • News 402

    Palais Namaskar, Morocco

    New luxury hotel opens in Morocco

    about 8 years ago

    Guests at a new upscale hotel which has just opened in Morocco will be able to stay in grand "palaces" with private gardens, their own pools and butler service. The five star Palais Namaskar is located between the Djebilet Hills and the Atlas Mountains, about 30 minutes by road from Marrakech airport. Set in "Balinese inspired" gardens with waterrfalls and lakes, it has 39 suites and villas, two "palaces" -  and a spa. The hotel, part of the German based Oetker Collection, offers extras such as hot air ballooning or helicopter trips to the desert. Rates start from €390 based on two people sharing a double room and including breakfast.

  • News 401

    Lima, Peru

    Big increase in flights to Peru

    about 8 years ago

    More flights from London to Peru are available following a sharp increase in the frequency of Air Europa's services between Madrid and Lima. The Spanish airline, which offers connections from Gatwick, has just upped the number of flights it operates to the Peruvian capital from two a week to five – and will move to a daily operation from 26 June.

  • News 400

    African Queen

    African Queen to carry tourists again

    about 8 years ago

    The African Queen, the 100 year old vessel used in John Huston's 1951 film of the same name, is to set sail again – carrying tourists visiting the Florida Keys. Following a £45,000 restoration, she will start work operating cruises around Key Largo later this month. Built in 1912 at England's Lytham  yard. and originally named the Livingstone, she served the British East Africa Rail Company until 1968 shuttling cargo, hunting parties and mercenaries on the Ruki River,  in the north west of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was there that director Huston saw her, borrowing her for his classic adaptation of CS Forester's novel, starring Humphrey Bogart as her the hard drinking, rough tongued skipper Charlie Allnut and Katharine Hepburn as Rose, the prim sister of a Methodist missionary to East Africa. It's not the first time that the African Queen has been used for tourist trips. She carried passengers on gthe Deschutes River in Oregon in the early 1970s and a decade or so after that the late attorney and Bogart buff Jim Hendricks Snr began offering visitors rides after he he rescued her from obscure retirement in a Florida horse pasture. Later she was brought to Britain for the late Queen Mother's 90 birthday celebrations and the 50t anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation. Last year Captain Lance Holmquist and Suzanne Holmquist signed a long-term lease with Jim Hendricks' son to restore and operate the vessel again. The Holmquists have overseen repairs and have taken pains to restore the African Queen to its appearance in the film, replacing steel in the hull, replacing the boiler and oiling the black African mahogany to condition the wood. "We wanted it to look beat up, like it appeared in World War I," said Suzanne. "It's starting to get its sheen back, and its authentic look."

    To book, call the US: 001 305-451-8080. Further information will be available soon on

  • Stay in Croatian lighthouses

    about 8 years ago

    Two Istrian lighthouses are being refurbished as holiday self catering  accommodation on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. They can sleep 6-8 people and will both be available for this summer. One, on Marlera island about 6 kilometres from Liznan, can  booked via The other, on the island of Verudica, south of Pula, was not yet available for booking at the time of writing.

  • Re-vamped First World War museum set to open

    about 8 years ago

    A re-vamped and greatly expanded First World War museum is scheduled to reopen in the Belgian town of Ypres on June 11. Employing the latest technology it will be at least half as big again as its predecessor. Visitors to the In Flanders Fields Museum will be able to follow personal accounts of individuals caught up in the fighting and look out over the Ypres Salient, where some 220,000 – 240,000 British and Empire troops alone list their lives, from a new look-out platform in the Belfry Tower of the medieval Cloth Hall which houses the exhibition.

  • Extra leg room to Hong Kong

    about 8 years ago

    Cathay Pacific passengers will be able to fly in the airline's new new premium economy cabins on some London – Hong Kong flights starting next month. Seats will provide six inches more leg room than those in the airline's current economy class. They will also be wider, allow passengers to recline further and will be equiped power outlets and 10.6in entertainment screens. British Airways,Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand, which also operate on the route, already offer premium economy.

  • Bus routes expand in LA.

    about 8 years ago

    A new shuttle bus service has been launched in Los Angeles, linking hotels on Century Boulevard with Fisherman's Village in Marina del Rey, with its restaurants, outdoor music performances, sea lions and pelicans. Once there, passengers will be able to join buses on another new route which takes in stops including Venice Canals and Beach. The hop on, hop off services – by open top double deckers – are an extension of the already wide ranging network operated by Starline Tours ( which picks up at over 250 hotels in we LA area. Tickets cost $40 or $55 per adult for unlimited travel over 24hrs or 48hrs respectively. They come with cut price entry to many attractions and – if bought on line – free admission to Madame Tussaud's in Hollywood.

  • News 396

    Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

    Edinburgh gets new Turkey flights.

    about 8 years ago

    Scottish travellers will get a new direct link with Istanbul when Turkish Airlines starts flying there from Edinburgh on July 16. The carrier will operate four times a week, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It's offering an introductory return fare of £109, valid for travel until the end of August.

  • News 394

    Bungle-Bungles, Australia

    Comfort camping in the Bungle Bungles.

    about 8 years ago

    For explorers of Western Australia's rugged Kimberly region, the curious, coloufully striped domes of the Bungle Bungle range are an unforgettable  highlight. When Purnululu National Park – to give the area its proper name – opened in 1987 visitors wanting to stay on site had to take tents or sleeping bags. Now new faclities are to open next month in the foothills. Ten semi-permanent tents, a dining deck promsing panoramic views and eco-friendly hot showers will be available at the Kurrajong camp site. The project is the first created under the “Naturebank” programme, which has been set up by the Western Australian government to develop sustainable tourism operations in environmentally sensitive parks and natures reserves across the state. The camp hasd been developed and is is being run by a local operator Kimberley Wild Expeditions.

  • News 393

    Kiev chucrh domes, Ukraine

    New Luxury hotel in Kiev.

    about 8 years ago

    Kiev, capital of Ukraine, has a new luxury hotel. Guests at the 258 room  Fairmont have views of Podil Square and the Dnipro river. The property is close to many of the city's landmarks, which include the Golden Gate, Kyiv Pecherska Lavra (an ensemble of churches and cave monastery first built in 1051), and St. Sophia Cathedral. Open in time for this summer's UEFA European football champpionship – the final will take place in Kiev's Olympic Stadium – the hotel has a 6900 sq ft spa with six treament rooms, a fitness centre plus access to indoor and outdoor tennis courts.

  • Fly non stop to Trinidad.

    about 8 years ago

    Non stop flights to Trinidad will take off from Gatwick on 14 June. Caribbean Airlines will launch services to Port of Spain, operating four round trips a week –  on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays – by Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with lie-flat seats in business class. The airline will also fly there three time a week via Barbados.

  • Holiday rentals may be harder to find.

    about 8 years ago

    Is the supply of self  catering holiday accommodation – notably in France and Spain – about to dwindle. Hard on the heels of research suggesting small, family run hotels in France have been closing at an alarming rate comes a report that some two thirds (65%) of British second home owners are considering or would like to sell their properties. It's not difficult to see why. Sixty per cent say their boltholes have plunged in value since they bought them, and 37% say they have become financial millstones. The report comes from major letting agency which lists over 300,000 properties in 135 countries. It says  most owners were encouraged to buy – either abroad or elsewhere in Britain – by the rocketing UK house prices. Despite the resulting increase in equity in their main homes 44% still took out mortgages, with an average loan to value ratio of just over 25%. The agency's rationale for this research, of course, is to persuade more owners that their second homes would be less of a burden if they let them to holidaymakers. It says 24% currently cover the whole of their outgoings this way – but 20% pay the bills from income, pensions or savings.

  • Virgin returns to Mumbai.

    about 8 years ago

    Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will start flying from Heathrow to Mumbai on 28 October 2012. Since it last flew to the Indian commercial capital in 2009, traffic on the route has grown by 9%. That makes it Heathrow's 12th busiest. The airline will fly daily using Airbus A339 aircraft with 33 Upper Class seats, 48 in Premium Economy and 185 in economy.