In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Iceland flights mushroom.

    about 8 years ago

    Options for travel to Iceland are multiplying. In October Icelandair will start flying to Reykjavik from Gatwick as well as Heathrow. The aim is partly to provide connections with onward flights to North America and partly to attract weekenders – including Britons wanting to see the Northern Lights. Services will depart on Thursdays and Sundays between 18 October and 7 April.  Hjorvar Saeberg Hognason, Icelandair's General Manager – UK said " Over the past few years we have seen a surge in demand for winter travel to Iceland due to the popularity of the Northern Lights and events like Iceland Airwaves*. The fact that we have scheduled them on the two most popular travel dates of the week make them ideal for winter weekend city breaks." Meanwhile EasyJet  starts flying to Reykjavik from Luton next week (from March 27). Another low cost airline, Iceland Express, will  reinstate flights to Iceland's capital from Stansted and Edinburgh in June. And a new Icelandic airline WOW Air,  plans to fly from Stansted to Keflavik from June 1.
    *Music festival – see

  • News 388

    Dartmoor walks

    Nature walks launched on Dartmoor.

    about 8 years ago

    Hooked on nature programmes such Springwatch? The Prince Hall Hotel on Dartmoor has launched new walks which allow guests to look at changing nature themselves. Led by a local expert they include an introduction to the landscape and wildlife of the moor and open the possibility of sighting otters, kingfishers and dippers along the West Dart river. Guests will also learn how to recognise bird song. They walks won't be limited to spring but will be available year round – and will be tailored to the season. From May to July, for example, there will be dusk excursions to seek out snipe and nightjars. Half day guided walks cost from £30 for up to four people and rooms at the Prince Hall Hotel start at £115 per person per night for bed and breakfast. A weekend “Wildlife Watch” package costs from £245 per person for two nights including dinner, bed and breakfast and a guided walk.

  • News 387

    Halong Bay, Vietnam

    New cruise ships to sail on Halong Bay.

    about 8 years ago

    Two new small, luxury cruise ships are scheduled to start sailing in Vietnam's spectacular Halong Bay this month.  Au Co Cruises is offering three day, two night explorations deep into the bay from US$932 per twin cabin (about £590)  That will include meals , drinks and excursions, including a visit to a fishing village, kayaking and bike rides on Cat Ba Island. A Unesco World  Heritage Site, the bay has over 1600, mainly limestone  karsts and islets which have evolved in a fascinating variety of shapes over some 500 milion years. It is on the north east coast, close to China. Each of the two vessels will carry 66 passengers in 32 cabins, all with private balconies, Restaurants will offer international and Vietnamese cooking.

  • Kip in the quarry.

    about 8 years ago

    Tree houses will not be the only new unusual accommodation option in France this year, In Mayenne – part of the Pays de la Loire region – travellers will be able to spend the night in floating bedrooms on the waters of old quarries in Louverne. They are part of a project called Echologia, scheduled to open this spring, which aims to create an eco friendly natural space for leisure activities while preserving elelments of the site's industrial heritage. It covers some 70 hectares and will incoporate a nature trail and a swimming area. Visitors will also be able to sleep in cliffside units or tepees.

  • News 385

    Champagne Route, France

    Bedrooms in the branches.

    about 8 years ago

    Offbeat accommodation opening near Reims in May give the bed with a canopy a whole new meaning. The so called “Perching Pads” for two people have been built in the trees in a forest adventure park (le Parc Arboxygene) about 20 minutes from Epernay. Details are a little thin as yet but they will be sleek and contemporary in style, with views of the foliage and neighbouring vineyard – and are expected to have glass floors. Could be a little disorienting if you indulge in too much bubbly (maybe the local Louis de Sacy or Pehu-Simonet) at the Perching Champagne Bar, which opened last year.

  • News 384

    American Airlines

    More legroom on American Airlines.

    about 8 years ago

    American Airlines is the latest to offer extra space in economy to passengers prepared to pay a premium and members of its frequent flyer scheme. Customers booking “Main Cabin Extra” from this spring will get between four and six inches more legroom than those in standard seats. They will also get priority boarding. The carrier, which is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy while it sorts out its finances, says it will offer the seats eventually on the vast majority of its aircraft. That will include the new extended range Boeing 777-300s which are scheduled to start appearing in its fleet later this year.

  • News 383

    Quiet beaches, Greece

    Greece promises quiet summer beaches.

    about 8 years ago

    The beaches of Greece will be less crowded this summer. Taverna owners will greet you with even wider smiles than usual. There may even be the odd drink on the house. Germans, anxious that they may face hostility over Berlin's tough stance on efforts to prop up the ailing Greek economy, look like staying away in droves. One major tour operator says bookings from Germany have plummeted by around one third. Athens officials are warning Greece could face a drop of ovr 4% in earnings from tourism, which accounts for about 15% of its GDP and employs about on in five of its workforce. Opportunities for Greek tourism officials to launch promotional counter offensives are limited. The country is  reported to have run up huge unpaid bills for marketing in northern Europe as it is, without incurring more expense. It's open to question whether all this will mean cheaper holidays on the mainland or islands, though hotels are reported to have been cutting rates and tour operators may be forced to offer deals. Hopes linger for a rush of last minute bookings. They need you – and it could be a great year to go.

  • New Attractions opening in Florida.

    about 8 years ago

    Orlando Balloon Rides has launched the tallest hot air balloon in the United States. The brand new balloon carries 24 passengers, is over 11 storeys high and takes 425,000 cubic feet of hot air to launch. Weather permitting, Orlando Balloon Rides flies every day from several locations around Kissimmee. Each ride ends in a champagne toast and full buffet breakfast, as well as a souvenir flight certificate.

    Two new visitor attractions will open this year. The Nature Centre on U.S. Highway 192 will be staffed with guides who are knowledgeable about Kissimmee’s history and cowboy heritage and will be able to direct visitors to natural wonders found throughout the area.

    A new Museum of Military History will feature educational exhibits from conflicts dating back to the Civil War and including current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Florida Eco-Safaris at Forever Florida, a 4,700-acre working cattle ranch and nature preserve, now boasts the longest Zipline Safari, the only ride of its kind in the U.S. The Zipline Safari elevates you 55 feet above the ground for a tree-top nature tour. Enjoy the sensation of flight as you zipline over natural streams, wetlands and an ancient cypress forest at speeds of up to 20 miles an hour.

    Fantasy World Resort, home to the popular Fantasy Surf indoor surf centre, has added a new pool area that includes a lazy river, two 5-storey water slides, a kiddie splash zone and two hot tubs.

    Gatorland, one of Florida’s oldest attractions, has built the world’s tallest and fastest zipline attraction to race high above giant alligators and crocodiles. Riders embark on a breathtaking journey on ‘Screamin’ Gator’, gliding along 1,200 feet of high-flying adventure at speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour, reaching heights of up to 56 feet. The zipline soars over the ‘jumping’ Cuban Crocodiles and the Alligator Breeding Marsh.

  • Royal Caribbean International doubles ship presence in Southampton for 2013.

    about 8 years ago

    Royal Caribbean International is celebrating an addition to its spring and summer UK deployment – in May 2013 the 3,114-guest Adventure of the Seas will offer cruises from Southampton alongside the 3,634-guest Independence of the Seas, based in Southampton for its fifth season. Dominic Paul, vice president and group managing director, Royal Caribbean International, EMEA, explains:

    “The UK cruise market has long been a success story for Royal Caribbean International and doubling the number of ships sailing from Southampton is another great milestone. Royal Caribbean International is fiercely proud to have changed the face of UK cruising with the introduction of activity-packed ships offering rock climbing, ice skating, surfing and much more. Not only does having both Adventure of the Seas and Independence of the Seas sailing from Southampton mean we can offer a greater variety of cruise holidays from the convenience of a UK port, but it also means we continue to demonstrate our commitment to the UK market, and the port of Southampton.”

    Royal Caribbean International first based a ship in Southampton in 2005 with the 2,435-guest Legend of the Seas and this has since steadily increased with larger and larger ships calling the cruise city home. 2013 is the first year that two Royal Caribbean International cruise ships will be based from Southampton.

    In 2008 the world’s largest cruise ship at the time – Independence of the Seas – launched from Southampton and has remained based from the port during the spring and summer months of the year ever since. The addition of Adventure of the Seas to Royal Caribbean International’s UK deployment sees the cruise line offer more Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Iceland, Baltics and Canary Island cruises than ever before.

  • New look Tea Party museum set to open.

    about 8 years ago

    Get the facts about the Tea Party in Boston. Not the right wing Republican movement, that is, but the original 1773 protest against taxation without representation. In late June a completely revamped, interactive museum dedicated to one of history's pivotal events will reopen in the Massachusetts capital. There will be two replicas of the ships involved ( the Eleanor and Beaver) with a third (the Dartmouth) to follow next year. Among the exhibits on view will be be of the original tea chests. The museum, close to the city centre at Congress Street Bridge, will have a restaurant with an outdoor terrace from which visiors will be able to watch reenactments.

  • News 379

    Matterhorn - Pennine Alps

    Pioneer climber celebrated in Zermatt exhibition.

    about 8 years ago

    A special exhbition on mountaineering pioneer Walter Bonatti will provide an added incentice to visit Zermatt's Alpine Museum this year. The museum already boasts  huge draw in the shape of the rope that broke during Whymper's controversial first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, causing the death of four other climbers*. A century later Bonatti, who died last year, was first to climb the mountain's north face alone. It took him six days. Objects from his mountaineering life during that period will be on show. The exhibition will run from spring until the end of theyear.

    *The controversy was laid to rest In 2007 when it was found that, contrary to dark rumour, the rope was not cut for self survival. An investigation commissioned by the museum, using a  rope which replicated the original,  proved tit could hold no more than 300 kilograms, and was therefore too thin to save the lives of the four men who fell.

  • News 378

    South Luangwa National Park

    Travel the length of Africa overland.

    about 8 years ago

    Cross Africa from north to south. A guided drive through the full length of Africa is on offer from tour operator World Expeditions. The journey, from Egypt to South Africa, will take 112 days and cost £13,990 a head, without international flights. Starting from Cairo on November 1, travellers will cross Sudan's Nubian Desert, continue through Ethiopia, Kenya's Great Rift Valley and Lakes Naivasha and Nakuru, break off to visit Zanzibar, take in Zambia's game rich South Luangwa National Park and Victoria Falls. Next will come two more national parks Chobe in Botswana and Namibia's Etosha, followed by the great dunes oSossisvlei – further south in Namibia – and finally Cape Town.

  • News 376

    Rural France

    Small French hotels vanishing.

    about 8 years ago

    Worrying news for Francophiles. Modestly price one and two star hotels are disappeaing in alarming numbers. According to market research company MKG Hospitality no fewer than an 634 with a total of 12,300 rooms have closed in the past year alone. Some are obsolete, some maybe just too far gone to be worth upgrading. It is also likely that some children of families which have run small hotels for generations are deciding there's n ot enough money in it. The void is being filled only partly by chains, says MKG. Though there has been growth in the three, four and five star sectors. The consultants warn that overall shrinkage in France's cacity to accommodate foreigners means that international clients may relocate to other countries with better supply

  • News 377

    Hotel Lincoln, Chicago, USA

    Boutique hotel to open in Chicago.

    about 8 years ago

    A new boutique hotel is set to open in Chicago this week. The Hotel Lincoln is the city's North Side, across the street from Lincoln Park and the zoo, with Lake Michigan and the so called Magnificent Mile a short distance away. It is also close to the Chicago History Museum and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. The hotel's operator, the San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre group, says 60%  of its 184 rooms wil have direct views of the lake. The property has been developed on the site of a hotel with more or less the same name where David Mamet, the Pulizter Prize winning playwright, weas once resident.

  • News 375

    Delhi Red Fort

    Delhi to get new luxury hotel.

    over 8 years ago

    A new luxury hotel under the Kempinski Ambience banner is schedued to open in spring or early summer in New Delhi. The five star property will have 480 rooms  and suites, four restaurants, a spa, fitness centre, saua, hammam and two swimming pools. It will be set in an office and conference complex in gthe east of the Indian capital, about 45 minutes by road from the airport..

  • Learn Spanish in the vineyards.

    over 8 years ago

    Spanish lessons in the Rioja vineyards are on offer this summer at the Parador de Argomaniz. The two week courses start at £1500 per person and classes run for three hours a day frolm Monday – Thursday, leaving ample time to explore the area – and practice what you've assimilated. The Parador is a concerted renaissance palace from which guests look out on to the Plains of Alva. Courses are available in July and August. Contact the UK agent for the Government owned Paradores de Turismo, email [email protected]  (020 7953 3020).

  • News 374

    Reykjavik, Iceland

    Iceland Express resumes flights from Edinburgh and Stansted.

    over 8 years ago

    Budget airline Iceland Express is to reinstate flights to Reykjavík from Stansted and Edinburgh in June. It axed services from Scotland last year but says demand has persuaded it to start operating the route again. Though it has been flying from Gatwick the carrier has not operated regular scheduled flights from Stansted to the Icelandic capital since 2009. It will fly two round trips a week on both routes.

  • News 372

    Monte Rosa, Switzerland

    Free lift passes at Italian ski resorts.

    over 8 years ago

    Contemplating a late decision to go skiing this winter? Stay three nights or more on in the Italian resorts of Gressoney or Champoluc this spring and you'll get a free lift pass. The deal applies to holidays between March 25 and April 15. Skiers or snowboarders staying in hotels on half board will get a pass each. Self caterers will get one per apartment. The resorts – about 1hr 30mins from Turin airport – are part of the impressive Monterosa Ski region, which encompasses some 200 kilometres of pistes.

  • Delta axes Gatwick – Atlanta flights.

    over 8 years ago

    US giant Delta Air Lines is to drop its daily service from Gatwick to Atlanta and operate the route from Heathrow. The move means that from April 18 it will fly there twice a day from London's busiest airport, rather than once as at present. It is also further evidence of the difficulties faced by the capital's other airports when it comes to building up major long haul networks. When a new UK-US air agreement opened Heathrow to more American carriers five years agao several others shifted flights there from Gatwick. Delta's move will come shortly before the opening of a new international terminal at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

  • Take off for Heathrow – Guangzhou flights.

    over 8 years ago

    Flights between London and Guangzhou, China's third largest city, will take off in June. China Southern Airlines will operate three round trips a week to and from Heathrow's Terminal 4. The service might have been launched earlier. Heathrow's owner BAA began talking to China Southern eight years ago. But pressure on take off  and landing slots forced the airline to wait until suitable arrival and departure times became available.