In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
First new luxury hotel for a century to open in Gstaadabout 8 years ago
The Swiss ski resort of Gstaad is to get what is claimed to be its first new luxury hotel for 100 years. Called the Alpina Gstaad and scheduled to open in December it will be set on a hill top in Oberort, about five minutes from the resort centre. With 56 rooms and suites it will have three restaurants. including a branch of the Japanese MEGU and a Swiss Stübli. It will also have indoor and outdoor pools, a spa and fitness centre.
E-ticket scanners for Gatwick passengersabout 8 years ago
Gatwick Express has installed bar code ticket scanners at Victoria and Gatwick airport stations. They are designed to speed up access to the platforms for travellers who print their e-tickets or have them tickets sent to their UK mobile phone after booking online at www.gatwickexpress.com.
Airline rush to replace bmibaby flightsabout 8 years ago
Airlines have wasted no time filling the vacuum threatened at East Midlands by the planned wind down of operations by British Midlands' low cost arm bmibaby. Jet2 will launch eight new services, starting with flights to two ski destinations (Chambery and Geneva) this winter, and adding Dubrovnik, Menorca, Nice, Ibiza, Larnaca and Gran Canaria for summer 2013. Monarch Airlines will establish a new base at East Midlands, launching new scheduled flights in late summer to major Mediterranean leisure destinations including Malaga, Alicante, Palma (Mallorca) and Faro in the Portuguese Algarve. Meanwhile Flybe will introduce five new winter routes from late October – to Amsterdam, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Jersey. The airline, which already operates from East Midlands to Belfast City, is still finalising schedules in discussions with the airport management. It notes that the Paris and Amsterdam services will enable passengers living in the area to connect with a network of long haul routes without passing through Heathrow. Following the acquisition of British Midland by the International Airlines Group – and as plans stand at present – bmibaby will cease operations. Its routes will be axed on various dates, with some operating until early September.
New UK walks launched by Ramblers Holidaysabout 8 years ago
Guided walks in Shropshire one of England's loveliest counties, are among a clutch of new UK itineraries on offer from Ramblers Holidays. Available for 3, 4, 5 or 7 nights they take in landmarks such as the Long Mynd and Wenlock Edge, cost from £299 and run from September 7. Also new to the operator's programme are a week long walk along Offa's Dyke and itineraries in Lancashire – the Vale of Lune – and Northern Ireland – The Sperrins and the Mountains of Mourne.
Four Seasons to open in Torontoabout 8 years ago
Toronto will get a new luxury hotel later this year. The Four Seasons – housed in a 55 storey building at the corner of Bay Street and Yorkville Avenue – is currently accepting bookings for stays from October 1. It will have a spa with 17 treament rooms, taking up two floors, a pool and fitness centre. The hotel will have 259 rooms, including 42 suites, which will come with tablet computers.
Long distance hiking route opensabout 8 years ago
Walking all 690 or so kilometres may be a bit of a tall order but the newly opened Alpe Adria long distance footpath looks to offer intriguing shorter options. It runs from Austria's highest mountain, the Grossglockner, to the Adriatic coast, in 380 stages of around 17 kms (just over 10 miles) each. The route crosses the Austrian region of Carinthia and Italy's Friuli – Venezia Giulia, finishing at Muggia, south of Trieste in Slovenia. One less ambitious option is a circular version, which takes in all three countries over 123 kilometres.
Heavy Heartsabout 8 years ago
The municipal authorities in Paris have decided to purge the Pont des Arts of love padlocks each winter, amidst growing concern that their weight is destabilising the railings if not the bridge itself.
Some 2,000 padlocks are attached every year by lovers who then throw the keys into the Seine as a symbol of their undying devotion to one another. It seems however that the growing trend to choose heavy locks of solid steel is weakening the metal sides of this pedestrian bridge as well as making their annual removal a major undertaking.
See the Belgian coast through local eyesabout 8 years ago
Free insights into the history and culture of Belgium's seaside towns are on offer following the launch of an initiative developed with support from the European Regional Dvelopment Fund. Belgian Coastal Greeters are volunteer enthusiasts who live locally and will lead 2-4hr tours on the coaste between Knokke-Heist and De Panne. The tours are for a maximum of 6 people and can be tailored to reflect visitors' interests. That could be anything from the history of fishing or gastronomy to nature reserves and sand dunes or architecture. Disabled travellers are welcome. You need to book about a fortnight before departure.
BA launches Heathrow - Bologna serviceabout 8 years ago
British Airways this week launched daily flights to Bologna from Heathrow. Return fares start at £147.95. The airline already operates 20 round trips a week to the Italian city from Gatwick. And BA also resumed services to Tripoli this week, flying three times a week to the Libyan capital from Heathrow, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Beefed up holiday protection rules take effectabout 8 years ago
New rules increasing protection for holidaymakers when travel firms go bust came into force this week. Essentially they extend cover under the exisiting ATOL (air travel organisers licence) scheme to anyone making separate booking requests for a flight and accommmodation, car hire or some other element vital to the trip – such as football tickets. To qualify for protection under the so called "Flight Plus" system you must book the second element by the end of the day after you booked the first. It doesn't matter whether you book the flight first or second, or whether the booking is by phone, at a High Street travel agency, or on line. If you're pevented from travelling because of the collapse of one or more of the companies the travel organiser books you with you'll get your money back. If it happens while you are abroad, you'll be brought home – usually after fininshing your holiday.
Incheon named world's best airportabout 8 years ago
Korea's Incheon has been named the world's best airport in this year's awards organised by Skytrax, the major air travel review website. The results are based on 12 million passenger surveys in which travellers rate various aspects of the airport experience. Travellers from over 160 countries took part. The rest of the top ten, in order were: Singapore's Changi, Hong Kong, Amsterdam Schiphol, Beijing Capital International, Munich, Zurich, Kuala Lumpur, Vancouver and Central Japan International. Among the regional winners were Lima's Jorge Chavez (best in South America) and Moscow's Domobedovo (best in East Europe).
Spain's latest Parador to open in Juneabout 8 years ago
Spain will have a new Parador in June. The Parador de Lorca is in the south eastern region of Murcia, inland to the west of Cartagena. Though the hotel is newly constructed it is connected directly with Lorca Castle, which dates from the 13th century and overlooks the town of the same name. The castle was once held by the Moors but was later captured by Castile, becoming a key defensive point in the Christian reconquista of Spain. The Parador will have 67 double rooms, including two with disabled access, nine suites with sitting rooms, a spa, fitness facility and an outdoor pool.
Silver Travel Advisor is spreading its wingsabout 8 years ago
In a new and exciting development we will now provide editorial and holiday offers to the website of Age UK, which attracts 5.5 million visitors a year. Age UK, which is dedicated to improving life for older people, was created by combining Age Concern and Help the Aged. Silver Travel Advisor's team of veteran professionals will provide editorial content and expertise to the Travel and Lifestyle section of its site. And visitors to Age UK will be able to link to the collection of Silver Travel Advisor reviews and contribute their own experiences. Tom Wright CBE, Age UK's Group Chief Executive, said; “This is an exciting venture for Age UK and I’m sure our website users who are looking to enjoy travelling in later life will find the new content really informative. By bringing in the expertise of Silver Travel Advisor, we feel we’ll really enhance the quality and value of the Travel & Lifestyle offering of our website.”
Hire car fuel charges under fireabout 8 years ago
The fuel policies imposed by car rental companies has come under the spotlight in a new report by Which? Travel. The magazine says its subscribers have been complaining that some firms insist they buy a tankful at exhorbitant prices when they pick up their vehicles and return with the tank empty – refusing any refind for unused fuel. Its researchers rented from several operators in Spain and found that this "full empty" policy could bump up the initial price significantly. And it argues the impact of these charges should be shown upfront at the time the booking is made so consumers can make the right choice and compare prices easily. Silvert Travel Advisor agrees but meanwhile it's sensible to check the rental conditions when booking. The firm's fuel policy will probably be shown in the small print. If it isn't – ring up and ask before committing yourself.
easyJet to launch Tel Aviv flights from Manchesterabout 8 years ago
Flights from Manchester to Tel Aviv and from Southend to Venice and Geneva are amoung ten new services which will be operated by easyJet from the start of its winter schedules in October. The other six routes are: Gatwick to Luxembourg, Tallin, Turin and the Isle of Man, Bristol to Copenhagen, Belfast to Birmingham and Newcastle to Amsterdam.
New hotel and cathedral roof tours in Exeterabout 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. www.chapterhotels.com.
*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])
Mother of five wins stay at Combermere Abbey Cottagesabout 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 www.silvertraveladvisor.com”.
Italian monastery becomes luxury hotelabout 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 Californiaabout 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.
Art and cooking lessons in Trujilloabout 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 (www.trujillovillasespana.com). 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).