In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • UK bookings open for Italy's new high speed trains

    over 8 years ago

    Need a rail booking in Italy? The country's new, privately run high speed train services can now be booked through Rail Europe in the UK. The Italo trains began operating in competition with Trenitalia on April 30. Initially they run between Milan and Naples, calling at Bologna, Florence and Rome, but services will be extended to more routes later in the year, with the addition of destinations including Venice, Turin and Salerno, gateway to the Amalfi Coast. Trains will wi fi connections and are completely ticketless. Travellers  simply need a reference provided at the time of booking and train staff will be able to retrieve all their details from a mobile PDA device. One small snag. For the time being, at least, reservations in the UK have to be made at least 60 days in advance.

  • Rural retreat to open in Algarve

    over 8 years ago

    A hotel created through the renovation of a Portuguese country house  is scheduled to open this summer in the eastern Algarve. Fazenda Nova (, not far from the coastal town of Tavira and 25 minutes from Faro airport. Formerly a family home and farm it sits in ten hectares of grounds with an orchard and vegetable and herb gardens. It has ten suites, two apartments and a penthouse, most of which have private gardens or terraces. The property will have a restaurant – and guests will be offered home baked bread from a 200 year old oven. B&b rates for two sharing a garden suite range from €150 for a garden suite in winter to €240 this July, August or September.

  • BA slashes business and first class fares

    over 8 years ago

    British Airways ( is lopping 50% or more off some business class and first class fares in a sale starting June 7. Round trip prices in business from Heathrow to Toronto and Montreal start at £1019 – down by up to 64%, for example and those to Rio de Janeiro and Los Angeles, which start at £1729 and £1589 respectively, have been cut by up to half. Other big discounts in business class include: Gatwick to Barbados, St. Kitts and Tobago from £1599 (down by up to 33%) and Heathrow – Dubai from £1300, saving up to 39%. Deals in first class include a £2187 return from Heathrow to Vancouver – down £70 on the normal fare. These deals are valid on selected flights from July 21 – September 2, a period when business travel slackens off, and must be booked by June 14.

  • News 447

    How new luxury Verbir hotel will look

    Luxury hotel planned in Verbier

    over 8 years ago

    The Swiss resort of Verbier will get a new luxury, ski in – ski out hotel next winter. Scheduled to open in December, the Cordée des Alpes has been designed with much use of local materials, including old wood and stone for the roof. will have 34 rooms and suites, a spa, swimming pool and fitness centre.

  • News 448

    Carnival Breeze

    Carnival Cruise Lines, has added a new cruise ship to its portfolio

    over 8 years ago

    Carnival Cruise Lines, a US-based cruise line, has added a new cruise ship, the 130,000-ton Carnival Breeze, to its portfolio.
    The new ship can carry around 3,690 passengers and will be departing on its inaugural cruise on June 3, 2012, from Venice, Italy, on a special 12-day Mediterranean cruise ending in Barcelona on 15 June 2012.

    The new Carnival Breeze is the 24th vessel to join the cruise line’s fleet and features several entertainment options. It is the line’s first ship to feature a multi-dimensional special effects experience, the Thrill Theater; theme water park, WaterWorks with water slides and a 300-gallon drenching bucket, and a large recreation area with a miniature golf course, and an outdoor fitness area, which is known as the SportSquare. The cruise ship also has multiple dining venues, as well as numerous staterooms, facilities for children, and a Cloud 9 Spa.

  • Kempinski goes on safari

    over 8 years ago

    The luxury Kempinski group is to manage a new hotel and a safari camp in Kenya. The hotel, which will have 200 rooms and suites and is scheduled to open later this year is under construction on the Uhuru Highway in the Westlands area of Nairobi. It will have a spa and fitness centre and three restaurants. The Olare Tented Camp, which has 12 tents, is in the Olare Orok Conservancy, on the edge of the Masai Mara game reserve.

  • News 445

    Hong Kong

    Hong Kong's new walks app

    over 8 years ago

    Readers who’ve caught up with the blizzard of mobile phone apps which still ranges can now download one to guide them around historical sites in Hong Kong. The Heritage walks app covers four routes off the beaten track. They are headed: “Three Religions and a Den of Ill Repute” – Wong Tai Sin & Kowloon City; “A Community Bound by the Sea” – Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong Island; “Windows into Clan Life” – Yuen Long, New Territories, and “In the Footsteps of the Tong Clan” – Fanling, New Territories.

  • News 444

    Sir Viv Richards and Roger Macdonald

    Antigua bats on against the Air Passenger Duty

    over 8 years ago

    Like other parts of the Caribbean, Antigua finds the UK Aviation Passenger Duty (APD) highly discriminatory.For a family of four, APD demands a surcharge of nearly £250 to fly to Antigua, which the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority believes is money that would otherwise be spent in the islands for the benefit of the 80,000 local inhabitants.

    The campaign against APD brought a concession in the Budget, when a pre-announced 10% increase was postponed by a year. It has spurred Antigua to renewing its campaign against the tax, by enlisting the island’s most famous inhabitant, cricketer Sir Viv Richards.

    Richards, now 61, terrorised English bowling in his heyday in the West Indies team and has been voted by his peers worldwide as the third greatest cricketer of all time. Antigua has high hopes that Sir Viv can knock the Chancellor of the Exchequer for six.

  • New family water ride at Center Parcs

    over 8 years ago

    Center Parcs is set to make even bigger waves this year as a new, unique family water ride takes shape at Elveden Forest.

    This will be the first of its kind to be created anywhere in the world, costing approximately £4m to build. A sneak preview of this exciting ride can now be viewed at

  • Search launched for UK's oldest traveller

    over 8 years ago

    Who is the UK's oldest traveller? Gatwick Airport's management would like to know. If you think you might fit the description email your date of birth with a photo and a line about your favourite travel experience to [email protected].

    The same applies if you want to nominate someone else. Gatwick search comes as it publishes new research into travel by the over-70s. It says their confidence n travelling is at an all time high, with 30% saying they feel more comfortable travelling now than they did when they were younger. The airport management has launched a search for the UK's oldest traveller. Its reseach found 88% of over-70s took at least one holiday a year ans some as many as three. Though 82% took a break in Britain, Spain (41%), France (35%) and the US (22%) were the most population overseas destinations. City breaks (53%) and beach holidays (51%) were the most popular choices. Contrary, perhaps, to expectations, less than a third (27%) preferred a cruise. Thirteen per cent said they were most often alone when they set out. Asked what they needed when negotiating airports, 66% wanted assistance throughout, 55% wanted dedicated seating areas, 39% wanted help through security and mobility scooters and wheelchairs (38%) emerged as the most useful added extras.

  • News 441

    New Romance at Burj Al Arab

    Burj Al Arab, a luxury hotel in Dubai UAE, has a new website to showcase its range of Romance packages

    over 8 years ago

    The Jumeirah Group, a UAE-based luxury hospitality company, operates the hotel, which is the fourth tallest in the world. The Burl Al Arab has recently added, a new website that claims to offer couples the ultimate romantic experience in a luxurious ambience. The website features a video series of four mini-episodes that provide an insight into the facilities that the hotel has to offer guests. The site claims to allow visitors to create a unique and personalised experience for themselves and their loved ones.

    The Burj Al Arab is designed to look like a ship’s sail, and stands at a height of 321 metres. The hotel offers amenities that include in-suite check-in and checkout, reception desks on every floor of the hotel, private butler service, and access to the hotel’s own Rolls-Royce fleet and private beach.

  • New York's Algonquin re-opens

    over 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

    over 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.

  • News 438

    Loire Valley cycle route

    New Loire cycle route completed

    over 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

    over 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

    over 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

    over 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.

  • News 434

    Artist impression of Sea Life Tower, Weymouth

    Get a bird's eye view of the Dorset Coast

    over 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

    over 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

    over 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.