In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • New York's Algonquin re-opens

    about 8 years ago

    The Algonquin Hotel in New York, which hosted the literary "Round Table" between the wars, has reopened after a major refurbishment. Most prominent, perhaps of the group that made it famous, was Dorothy Parker. But others who gathered there to exchange ideas, views and often cutting wit, included Robert Benchley and Edna Ferber. The £10 revamp covered public areas such as the Blue Bar and the hotel's 181 rooms. Accordig to the New York Post the Algonquin is hoping to rekindle some of that old literary spirit with a number of events during the city's imminent Book Week. However, plans to end supper club nights in the Oak Room, where the likes of Diana Krall, Harry Conick Jnr and Jack Jones have sung, have sparked an on line protest petition.

  • Sonny Rollins to star in Perugia

    about 8 years ago

    The great, enduring Sonny Rollins and guitarist Pat Metheny will be part of a glittering line up at this summer's Umbria Jazz Festival  which takes place in the lovel city of Perugia from July, 6 – 15. 2012. Other stars will including Al Jarreau and Sting. Essential Italy ( has a number of accommodation options available close to the city.

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    Loire Valley cycle route

    New Loire cycle route completed

    about 8 years ago

    For those with no ambition to be King of the Mountains the Loire Valley is a great place for cycling holidays. New months sees the completion of of the 500-mile/800 km Loire à Vélo route. It runs from in the Cher in the Département of Cher – in the centre of France -  to Saint-Brevin-les-Pins, on the coast of Loire-Atlantique and it's part of Eurovéloroute 6, which links the Black Sea and the Atlantic and also follows two other major rivers, the Rhine and the Danube.

  • Cotswold gardens open for first time in years

    about 8 years ago

    The gardens of Russell House and Court Farm, in the Cotswold village of Boadway, will be open to the public for the first time in decades next month. They were created by the 19th century British artist and garden designer Alfred Parsons. He was a leading light in the Broadway Colony,  a group of otherwise predominantly American artists, writers, actors and musicians who made homes in the village between 1885 and 1914. The openings are part of this year's Brodway Arts Festival which runs from June 9 – 17. The gardens contain hallmarks of Parsons' approach, such as eccentric topiary and buildings in Arts and Crafts style.

  • New South Australia hiking tours

    about 8 years ago

    Still fit enough to hike 21 kilometres a day? New walking tours have been launched in South Australia's Flinders Ranges. Travellers stay at Rawnsley Park Station, about a 4hrs 30mins drive north from Adelaide and the walks are led by its ownerm Tony Smith and Kym Tilbrook a writer on bushwalking. They include a climn of Ranwsley Bluff with a 4.30am start. Three or five days packages cost AUD$1150 or $1875 respectively with breakfast – served in guests' cabins – and dinner.

  • Don't get caught without a breathalyzer in France

    about 8 years ago

    Travellers driving to France this summer are reminded that from July 1 they will be required by law to carry breathlyzers. They will enable drivers to discover whether they are below the French limit of 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, which is already 30mg lower than the UK's. However it could be risky checking immnediately after emerging from the restaurant or bar. At least one expert has warned alcohol levels can be higher around 45 minutes later than immediately after downing your last glass of wine. According to the AA the new regulation will not be enforced until November 1, when you'll be fined €11 if you're caught without at least one unused breathalyser carrying the French NHF certification mark. It will have to be valid within a date range. Single use breathalyzers are usually valid for a maximum of 12 months, through you can spend more and buy a multi-use digital version. The AA is selling the former in packs of two at its shops at the port of Dover and the Ashford Channel Tunnel terminal.

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    Artist impression of Sea Life Tower, Weymouth

    Get a bird's eye view of the Dorset Coast

    about 8 years ago

    A seagull's eye view of the Dorset Coast will be on offer in Weymouth this summer when the 53 metre high, revolving Sea Life observation tower opens on June 22 at the corner of the resort's pier. On clear days visitors will be able to see Portland and Chesil Beach – and as far as Durdle Door  in one direction and on another. the tower will also provide a vantage point over the Olympic/Paralypic sailing arena, but demand during the races is likely to be very high. Tickets cost from 7.20 on line at


  • News 433

    Orient Express

    Scandinavia on the Orient Express

    about 8 years ago

    The Orient Express is heading to Scandinavia. For the first time in April next year the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express – to give the art deco train its full title – will carry passengers from Venice to Copenhagen and Stockholm. The route will cross Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Trips will also be available in the reverse direction. Passengers will be able to book between Venice and the Danish capital – and vice versa – and separately between Copenhagen and Stockholm. The Venice-Copenhagen-Stockholm trip departs from Venice on April 8 and departs on the return leg four days later. A five day package, including a one way journey, a night at the Copenhagen Marriott and two nights at the start or finish in Venice's Hotel Cipriani costs €4550. A single journey between Venice and Copenhagen costs €3400.

  • New Luton - Slovenia flights

    about 8 years ago

    Budget airline Wizz Air is to launch flights between Luton and Ljubljiana. It wil fly three round trips a week to the Slovenian capital, starting on  October 30, with one way fares starting at £23.99, including taxes.

  • Literary stars descend on Winchester

    about 8 years ago

    Clare Tomalin will talk about her superb biography of Charles Dickens, Martin Jarvis will give two of his brilliant Just William readings, PD James and Ruth Rendell will offer insights into crime writing, Martin Bell, Michael Grade and others will argue that British broadcasting is the world's best – and Dame Judi Dench will discuss her films. These are just some of the 40-plus events which make up Winchester's Best of British Festival.

    Festival dates: May 25 – July 26

    Places to stay are listed at

  • Two Christchurch hotels to re-open

    about 8 years ago

    Plans have been announced to re-open two hotels closed by the earthquake which struck the New Zeland city of Christchurch early last year. The Ibis and Novotel – both part of the Accor group – are scheduled to be welcoming guests again from September and April next year respectively. Accor's regional manager says that, effectively, they will be new hotels. Both were relatively new. The Ibis was built in 2007 and the Novotel as recently at 2010. "So they were built to very exacting standards and their strucrures received only minor damage during the earthquakes. The main problems were internal and erequired a complete re-fit so when they re-open they will have a v efry fresh and new feel."

  • Arab Spring depresses hotel prices - but not everywhere

    about 8 years ago

    The Arab Spring accelerated a drop in hotel prices in parts of the Middle East according to industry research organisation HVS. Average room rates in Hurghada on the Red Sea in Egypt, plunged by 26% last year compared with 2010 while those in Sharm el Sheikh fell by 15%. Some destinations were unaffected, however. Average room prices in Cairo increased by 6% despite the unrest there while those in Dubai and the Oman capital Muscat shot up by 14% and 17% respectively.

  • News 428


    Follow the transhumance in France

    about 8 years ago

    For a fascinating glimpse of French rural life, travellers are being invited to follow the transhumance of sheep from the Lot to the upland pastures of Cantal next month. It's the first time this has taken place between the two départements – partly because moving the animals by lorry has become too expensive and partly because some ski resorts, including Lioran where this transhumance finishes, are now obliged to maintain part ot their terrain by grazing sheep.You could accompany the flock for a single stage or the whole 15 days, walking with the sheep and catching a bus back to the starts (go to – it's in French). Or you could take a package over the weekend of June 16 and 17, starting at Madailles Saint Julien, spending the night a buron – a stone cheesemakers' building – and continuing next day with the flock to the pastures around Lioran. It costs €100 per person (minimum group size 5 people, maximum 12) with a shuttle back to the start.

    Further information at

  • Faroes flights move to Gatwick

    about 8 years ago

    Flights to the Faroe Islands by Atlantic Airways are switching  from Stansted to Gatwick this summer. Starting on May 31 the service will operate on Mondays and Thursdays until September 17. The islands, midway between Shetland and Iceland, are a dramatically beautiful destination, particularly for walkers and bird watchers. Particularly stunning is the island of Mykines, home to huge numbers of puffins, gannets snd other seabirds. Flight time is a little over 2hrs and fares The airline is working with touroperator Sunvil Discovery, which is offering a range of packages. Meanwhile Channel Islands based airline Blue Islands has started flying every Saturday between Cambridge airport and Jersey. The service will run until mid September.

  • News 426

    Keith Wright

    Ninety-five - the new 18?

    over 8 years ago

    Most silver travellers eventually reach a stage when they prefer comfort and pampering to no frills holidays. Been there, done that. Not Keith Wright. At least, not any time soon- and he's already 95.

    Australian Keith, a World War II veteran from Burleigh Heads, Queensland, is about to take off on another inedpendent jaunt around Europe. He'll be on and off trains and sleeping in hostels – occasionally even in dormitories with under 30s.

    Later this month he's travelling for two months to Madrid, San Sebastian, Paris, Munich and Vienna – with a side trip to London and Royal Ascot, to see an Aussie horse called Black Caviar run.

    He made his first solo trip at 85, after his wife Barbara died, making a bus journey through Turkey. He says:  "I've had itchy feet all my life and I'd always wanted to go to Gallipoli on Anzac Day, so I decided to sell our house and put the extra money towards a holiday. I've seen things most tourists haven't seen, because I walk the backstreets and take trains or buses to nearby towns for the day. Whereve I go I wear my Australia cap, so it gets me a lot of attention from the locals.

    "My belief is that if you are fit and able to travel independently, it's the best way to see as much of the world as you want."

    Keith used to work for Ansett Airways and Pioneer Coach Travel, which may have helped fire his enthusiasmfor travel. He booked this trip through an Austrial sister company of British based Round the World Experts. Paul Bondsfield, of  the UK firm, says: "We put together plenty of complex round the world air fares for the over 50s – people who have retired and decided to travel the world. Keith is the oldest we have come across."

    Though he may ne the world's oldest backpacker, Keith is reported to have made one concession to luxury on this trip – an upgrade to business class on the long haul to Europe.

  • Vivaldi’s Bath Olympics

    over 8 years ago

    A rare performance of Vivaldi's opera L'Olimpiade will kick off this year's Bath Festival on May 30. Telling the story of Olympic champion Megacle and his passion for Princess Aristea and with a cast including Louise Poole, Stephen Gadd and Rachel Lloyd, this is its UK stage premiere. It will take place in Bath Abbey. Other stars at the festival include trumpeter Alison Balsom, who will play with the European Union Chamber Orchestra on June 2, and on the same day – jazz virtuoso Courtney Pine. There will also be three performances of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

    Details at
    You can find accommodation at

  • First new luxury hotel for a century to open in Gstaad

    over 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.

  • News 423

    Gatwick Express scanner

    E-ticket scanners for Gatwick passengers

    over 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

  • Airline rush to replace bmibaby flights

    over 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.

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    New UK walks launched by Ramblers Holidays

    over 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.