In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Travel insurance premiums increase for the over 65s.over 8 years ago
Over 65s are facing huge increases in trave insurance premiums, according to a report today. Some insurers have jacked up their prices by more than 100%, it claims. The increases were unearthed during an investgation by the Daily Mail's Money team. Younger people are also being asked to pay more, it says, but typical increases for them are running at around 9%. The demands follow a costly period for travel insurers, who have been hit by natrual catatrophes, such as last year's ash cloud, and the effects of polictica upheavals in the Middle East. But Silver Traveller would like to know this: can such higher premiums for its subscribers be justified in terms of risk? And how long will the travel industry stand back and watch a growing slice of its market being deterred by this kind of discrimination before it starts to exert its own presure on insurers.
New tours of Parliament lanuched.over 8 years ago
Two new art and architecture tours of the Houses of Parliament wil be on offer this year. One, titled “ Royalty and Splendour in the House of Lords” will concetrate on the frescoes, portraits, furniture and fixtures such as statues and fireplaces which were comissoned by Fine Arts Commission, headed by Prince Albert, when the House was rebuild in the mid 19th century. The other wil look at contemporary portraits in Portcullis House. Which houses MPs' offices and opened in 2001. The tours wil run in spring and summer. Tickets for the former cost £30 and include a glass of champagne. The Portcullis House tour costs £15. A joint ticket for both tours costs £40. To get details of times and make reservations visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk/housesofparliament.
New flights from Oxford.over 8 years ago
Oxford will get new links with Jersey and the Isle of Man when Manx2.com starts operating there on May 8. The airline will fly daily, year round to the two islands from London Oxford Airport – to use its full title - with fares starting at £49.95 one way. It operates a fleet of Dornuier 228 turboprop aircraft with either 17 or 19 seats. Flights will depart at 12.25pm to Jersey and 3.15pm for Ronaldsway Airport, the airline's base on the Isle of Man, except on Sundays, when they will leave at 3.30pm and 6.20pm respectively. www.manx2.com
Short breaks and free iPads to lure skiers.over 8 years ago
Luxury short breaks and free iPads are now being dangled by chalet operators as carrots to tempt wavering skiers to the slopes. VIP Ski, which has chalets in Alpe d’Huez, Meribel, Val d’Isère, La Plagne, Les Gets, Morzine, Zermatt and Verbier, will offer breaks of three or four days for the first time. At lunchtime on Thursdays for the rest of the season, it will publicise online (www.vip-chalets.com) a range of rooms and whole chalets available for short breaks the following week. Prices will be £149 per person per night for fully catered chalet board. Meanwhile Powder White will give away iPad 2s with some whole chalets on behalf of groups in March in Val d'Isere, Courchevel, Verbier, Meribel or St Anton. The customer making the booking will get one.
Post Office becomes Gothenburg hotel.over 8 years ago
Gothenburg has a new hotel – in a former post office. The Clarion Hotel Post is due to open this week on Drottningtorget. It has been extended with a new structure incorporating 500 rooms, a spa and – for warmer times than this – a rooftop sun terrace and pool. It is partly housed in a building which houses it dates from the 1920s and has been listed by the Swedish government as one of historical interest. Half of the façade will be covered with slate and the other half with copper – the same materials used in the original post office. www.clarionpost.com
Bournemouth Silver Traveller wins a Greek island villa holiday.over 8 years ago
50 year old video production manager Freya Boyesen from Bournemouth, Dorset, has won a week’s stay at a luxury villa on the Greek island of Paxos courtesy of villa specialist, CV Travel.
Freya’s name was first out of the hat in the Silver Travel Advisor December prize draw.
When asked about her win Freya commented, ‘’ I enjoy the lesser frenetic beach destinations; clear water, fine sand, decent wine and a good book being all I need to really relax. We are looking forward to visiting Paxos and Anti-Paxos, both of which I visited in my early twenties. I remember the little fishing boat going to Anti Paxos, the silence of the island and the shady peace of the olive groves, heaven!’’
Debbie Marshall from Silver Travel Advisor said “we were delighted to bring Freya and her partner Bob (who is an keen fisherman) news of their win, and we look forward to reading about their holiday in Paxos, when she posts her review.
BA to fly to Libya again.over 8 years ago
British Airways is to resume flights to Libya on May 1 – just over a year after they were suspended. The move follows a security review involving the UK Government and rthe Libyan authorities. The airline will operate three round trips a week from Heathrow to Tripoli, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Free wireless internet at Munich Airport.over 8 years ago
Munich Airport has joined the growing wave of travel industry companies offering free wi-fi. Passengers in both terminals can now access the internet for up to 30 minutes. With more and more hotel operators now accepting the inevitable – that travellers will expect free wireless access wherever they – go we think it's high time all airports followed suit.
New luxury hotel with direct access to St.Moritz slopes.over 8 years ago
St. Moritz has a new ski in – ski out hotel. Nira Alpina, which overlooks Lake Silvaplana in Surlej, about 10 minutes be road from the centre of the up market Seiss resort, is connected to the Corvatsch cable car station via a private walkway. Roomns and shuites have granite bathrooms with waterfall showers, large terraces or balconies, flat screen TVs showing 97 channels, iPod docking stations and free wi-fi. The hnotel also has a spa and – shouod you still need it after skiing – an exercise room. Being where it is it doesn't come at bargain basement rates, of course. They start (based on the current value of the £ against the Swiss franc) at roughly £300 a night for bed, breakfast and access to the spa, inclduing service and VAT.
Drop off to sleep in a shop.over 8 years ago
Sleep in a disused shop. That's the latest unusual hotel idea in Vienna. Empty retail stores mostly around 240 square feet, are being converted to rooms. Guests can decide how much they want to see out – or appear in the shop window – by using a system of blinds. Guests staying in a cluster of properties in the same area make use of the same local services – the nearby coffee shop may provide breakfast, for example, a hamam opposite could double as the spa, the bar could be around the corner. Two bicycles are provided with each room. The concept comes from a company called Urbanauts (www.urbanauts.at). The first of these unconventional places to stay, which are designed by artists working in the immediate locality, is a former tailor's shop which opened last year near the city's fashionable Freihausviertel. It costs £120 a night but there's a three nights for the price of two deal until next month.
More comfort, souped up entertainment for BA customers.over 8 years ago
British Airways has introduced the first of its Boeing 777-200 jets to be fitted with more confortable seats, refurbished interiors and an upgraded in flight entertainement system with bigger screens. Passengers to New York's Newark airport at the weekend were first to experience the changes. New seats in World Traveller Plus and economy have power sockets. Seventy movies, 230 TV programmes and 400 CDs are available on the Thales entertainment system. Another 17 aircraft will be similarly retro-fitted.
Cardiff gets new low cost flights to Spain.over 8 years ago
Spanish budget airline Vueling will launch new services from Cardiff to this summer Alicante and Palma, Mallorca. Starting on June 22 it will opertate three round trips a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, using 150-seat Airbus A319 aircraft. The move folows Vueling's earlier announcement that it would start flying three times a week to Barcelona from Cardiff, Southampton and Edinburgh to Barcelona. Flights from Wales start on March 27. The other two services will operate from June 22.
Jumbo Jet Hotelover 8 years ago
Isn’t it annoying when you have to trudge through first class, bypassing those smug passengers adjusting the settings on their fold out squashy beds, lazily flicking through the channels on their personal flat screen TV’s and leisurely reading through the menu to decide exactly which exotic tropically inspired dish they would like during their flight. Whilst sipping on an elegant flute of champagne. Then you reach your own designated seat at the rear of the aircraft; home of howling babies, restricted leg room and a simple choice of fish or chicken.
However, thanks to the one of a kind hostel in Stockholm, everyone can enjoy the first class experience at a fraction of the price. A disused 747 jumbo jet has been converted into the world’s first hotel, which remains stationary on an abandoned runway. Gone are the days where a donut pillow is a necessity to get any kind of shut eye on-board an aircraft, as the hostel titled ‘Jumbo Stay’ promises the best night sleep you will ever get on a plane, as turbulence is no longer an issue.
The transformed aircraft is home to several en-suite rooms, a 24 hour café, Wi-Fi access, numerous flat screen televisions with more expansion to come. The owner and creator of this ingenious idea is Oscar Dios, who intends to take full advantage of all available space. The cock-pit is a double bedroom and the wings are scheduled to be converted into a relaxation deck with a glass shelter for guests to stroll along and unwind. The twin engines too, are to be adapted into capsule double bedrooms, aptly to be titled ‘the engine rooms’.
In terms of décor, ‘Jumbo Stay’ does not leave much to the imagination. Exit signs, passenger notices, hygiene rules and safety posters still adorn the walls of the aircraft to emphasise the hostel’s unique theme. The cock-pit is the most popular room to reserve as the pilots original controls (deactivated obviously) remain; a dream come true for any fan of ‘Thunderbirds’.
Proud inventor Oscar Dios was quoted: ‘I saw this plane and I instantly knew it would be perfect for a hotel. It had been in service for Pan Am, and many others. I knew I could give it a new lease of life’.
Two nights at the Jumbo Stay hostel cost £189 per person, a reasonable price for such a very distinctive experience. As this new idea is only just taking off, it looks the mile high club may be gaining quite a few extra members now thanks to Jumbo Stay…
America's Civil War Trails featured in new brochure and website.over 8 years ago
The American Civil War Trails are now documented in a new brochure which features routes through six states, including West Virginia, to attract and guide history buffs to the region and experience the history found in this area. There is also a dedicated website: www.civilwartrails.org
As part of the Civil War Trails, there are a number of museums, historic small towns, plantations, and military cemeteries that can be visited. All of these attractions, including the battlefields, offer informative tours that appeal to tourists with little knowledge of the history.
The trails which run through these states all include interactive stops, as well as self-guided audio tours. Tours by Segway and bus to the areas most affected by the war are also included. West Virginia is said to be the home of the start of the Civil War. In Harpers Ferry, abolitionist John Brown began a raid, which many consider to be the beginning of the war. Being the origin of the war, West Virginia is rife with history and events pertaining to the Civil War.
The town, which is on the Appalachian Trail, is full of historic buildings. West Virginia is also the only state to be born as a direct result of the Civil War, after it split with Virginia because of its political differences. The state plans several celebrations and remembrance ceremonies beginning this year and lasting for the next few years.
Air Asia X is to suspend its service from Gatwick to Kuala Lumpur from the end of March.over 8 years ago
It blamed high fuel prices, weak European economies and the impact of APD (air passenger duty) and the emissions trading scheme for its decision. The airline's last flight from London will be on March 31. It says it will offer passengers booked to fly after that full refunds or flights on alternative airlines at no extra cost. Air Asia X, which recently shifted its London operation to Gatwick from Stansted, will also suspend flights to Paris, Mumbai and Delhi from its Kuala Lumpur base. In response to the news Gatwick's management said: “As a founding member of the Fair Tax on Flying Alliance, Gatwick is campaigning for the cost of the Emissions Trading Scheme to be offset against those of the Air Passenger Duty in the March 2012 Budget. We believe the Treasury must pay far closer attention to the impact of this issue as the decision by AirAsia X is clear evidence that the burden of additional taxation in all its forms is a material consideration for long haul airlines flying to the UK.”
Paint the town pink in Washington, D.C. this spring.over 8 years ago
Blossoming flowers, bright colours and lighter evenings. If you are a fan of spring and already looking forward to the end of winter then a trip to Washington, D.C. may be the ideal spring break. Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the capitals famous cherry blossom trees at the Centennial National Cherry Blossom Festival with an epic five-week celebration between the 20th of March and the 27th of April.
Experience the blossoming of more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees given to D.C. by Japan in 1912 and witness an array of colour, performances from renowned international and U.S. artists, musical and stage performances, spectacular parades and a broad selection of tantalising Japanese cuisine. The 100th National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. has something for everyone.
The Opening Ceremony – Musical performances and contemporary performances will take centre stage at the Washington Convention Centre on the 25th of March. Experience performances depicting the giving of the famous Cherry Blossom trees by Tokyo and discover how they developed into the nation?s greatest springtime celebration.
Blossom Kite Festival – what better way to celebrate the coming of spring than to watch the sky above the Washington Monument become awash with pinks and vivid colours? Discover this truly unique event on 31st March, learn more about different types of kites, and even make your own.
Waterfront Fireworks Festival – Discover a spectacular array of fireworks that will light up the night sky on the Washington Channel on the 7th of April. Experience an abundance of water-related activities and sample some delicious cherry-inspired food and beverages.
The Festival Parade – Lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and performers will light up the capitals grand Constitution Avenue. On the 14th of April, watch Washington D.C. become awash with colour and experience a number of energetic and entertaining performances.
Japanese Street Festival - Witness the largest Japanese culture festival in the U.S. on the 14th of April in the heart of the capital. Enjoy Japanese performances, tantalising cuisine, martial art demonstrations and an array of arts and culture demonstrations.
To find out more about Washington, D.C. and the Capital Region USA, visit www.CapitalRegionUSA.co.uk
Dartmoor set to becomeover 8 years ago
The iconic beauty of Dartmoor in Devon will be a must see destination in 2012 for fans of the Michael Morpurgo classic "War Horse" which is the subject of the much anticipated new Steven Spielberg movie released in the UK on 13 January. www.visitdevon.co.uk www.dartmoor.co.uk
The acclaimed filmmaker spent many weeks filming on Dartmoor last year while making War Horse, the moving story of a Devon farm boy who joins the army to search for his horse Joey after he is sold into the cavalry and shipped to France during the First World War.
Haytor, Combestone Tor and Farm, Ringmore Down, Venford Reservoir, Nattor, Bonehill, Hexworthy Bridge, Cadover Bridge and Brisworthy as well as the village of Meavy and Ditsworthy Warren House were some of the inspiring locations on Dartmoor where the Hollywood director and crew filmed. *
Spielberg praised the beauty of Dartmoor landscape when he was recently interviewed by the Independent newspaper; "I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor."
Following the release of the film dedicated fans are expected to discover the delights of Devon and especially Dartmoor when they visit the many film locations and places where cast and crew stayed during filming of this much loved story. Dartmoor has long been famous for its wild beauty and windswept moors and it is popular with walkers, riders and nature lovers who seek out the tranquillity and natural beauty of its wilderness.
Princess Diana exhibition at Minnesota shopping mall.over 8 years ago
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota is to host a large exhibition, show-casing Princess Diana, at the mall from 4 February to 10 June 2012. The exhibition is part of the celebrations that will be held throughout next year to mark the 20th anniversary of the mall opening its doors in 1992.
Amongst the exhibits will be Diana's iconic dress from her fairy tale wedding to Prince Charles in 1981 and 28 of her other stunning designer dresses. Also included are a number of family heirlooms, personal mementos, items connected to her extensive charity work, paintings and rare home movies and photos.
The original text of Earl Spencer's moving tribute to his sister at her funeral in 1997 in Westminster Abbey and books of condolences left by people throughout the world can also be viewed. There are 150 objects in total which will be displayed in nine galleries on Level 4 of the mall. They are all on loan from Althorp Estate, the Spencer family's ancestral home.
With more than 520 stores, there is a wealth of choice for shoppers of all tastes and budgets at the Mall of America. Whether browsing in one of the four department stores – Macy's, Bloomingdales, Sears or Nordstrom – or visiting upmarket South Avenue, it is easy to while away the hours in this shopping paradise. For post shopping refreshment, the Mall of America offers an abundance of restaurants and bars.
The mall also boasts an aquarium, cinema and, for the younger at heart, Nickelodeon Universe®, at it's centre. The seven acre Nickleodeon themed amusement park comes equipped with roller coasters and the chance to meet your favourite Nickelodeon characters! If visitors fancy making a splash, join the underwater adventure, as the Minnesota SEA LIFE™ Aquarium brings visitors closer than ever before to over 10,000 sea creatures!
I Spy Camping selects five pet-friendly campsites in France.over 8 years ago
Dog-loving families will find it easier to take their furry friends on holiday abroad following a change to rules for travelling with pets.
The UK Pet Passport scheme was revamped on 1 January to bring it into line with the rest of Europe. Now dogs can travel just 21 days after having a rabies vaccination rather than wait for six months and they don't need a blood test, saving around £100.
I Spy Camping (www.ispycamping.com), the website that compares holidays at more than 650 campsites across Europe, has an easy option to search by pet-friendly campsites that welcome dogs.
Cut price motorhomes in New Zealand.over 8 years ago
Dithering over a late decision to visit New Zealand this winter? Maui Motorhomes is offering discounts of up to 35% and 30% respectively on two and six berth vehicles to travellers booking by the end of this month. The deal applies to customers hiring for a week or more and travelling by March 31. Prices for a motorhome sleeping two start at NZ$212 a day (around £106) while those for the larger vehicles run from $236 a day.