In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
The Office of Fair Trading is to investigate charges imposed by banks and other currency exchanges for changing money abroad.almost 9 years ago
The Office of Fair Trading is to investigate charges imposed by banks and other currency exchanges for changing money abroad. The move follows a “super complaint” from watchdog Consumer Focus, which believes a mix of complex fees and poor or misleading information means travellers are paying too much. It says charges for using debit or credit cards overseas are unnecessarily confusing for consumers. They vary significantly and make it difficult for people to establish the full costs and shop around for better deals. Cash withdrawal fees imposed by banks and credit card providers on customers using plastic to buy travel money in the UK do not reflect costs. Consumer Focus says debit and credit card payments cost an average 9p and 37p respectively to process but typical charges to customers are 1.5% – 2% of the amount withdrawn, up to a ceiling of £4.50. And offers of “0 per cent commission” can be misleading as the rate m ay include a mark up to reflect the supposed saving. Mike O'Connor, Consumer Focus's chief executive says: “Almost half of us travel abroad every year and we face a confusing array of often hidden charges every time we buy currency. Converting £500 into euros can cost from under £10 to over £30 depending on where you switch your money. This is a huge difference for essentially providing the same service and typically banks offer the worst deals.”
Woking council employee wins 5* trip to Prague.almost 9 years ago
Retired Surrey County Council administrator, Jennifer Lunn of Horsell, Woking, Surrey, was so delighted with news she’d won a 5* luxury Regent Holidays trip to Prague, she immediately woke her husband Andrew to share the good news.
Mrs. Lunn still puts in the occasional day for Surrey County Council and has six grandchildren, aged from 9 months to 17 years, but since retiring she indulges in her passion for travel as often as she can. She won the 5* three day trip to Prague when her name was the first out of the hat among those from the website’s membership of thousands of over fifty year old travellers posting travel reviews on www.silvertraveladvisor.com during August 2011.
She says “I now have time to enjoy travelling as often as time and money permits, so I decided to join Silver Travel Advisor to post some of my holiday tips and experiences. I enjoy the site, it’s a good community for mature travellers and because it’s written by older people, for older people, the travel reviews and advice it carries are more relevant than other travel websites”.
She continued “I have just enrolled on a course in French conversation in order to keep up my knowledge of the language. The furthest I have travelled is Sydney, Australia but there’s so much of Europe still to discover that winning this wonderful trip to Prague will enable me to discover this intriguing city”.
Debbie Marshall from Silver Travel Advisor, said “Jennifer told us that she woke up to find our e-mail notifying her of her win and was clearly delighted. Her prize is a three night stay at Prague’s 5* Corinthia Hotel, travelling with Regent Holidays, and we look forward to reading all about it when she posts her review”.
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has completed a root and branch revamp of its international Departure Lounge 3.almost 9 years ago
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has completed a root and branch revamp of its international Departure Lounge 3. Its 26 retail outlets include a flower shop behind a simulated, glass, canals side facade and - for those readers still young enough at heart – what is claimed to be Europe's first branch of Victoria's Secret. Many UK travellers use Schiphol not just for flights to and from the Netherlands but when flying with KLM and its partners to onward long haul destinations. The departure lounge, which handles some 5.3 million passengers a year, also offer free WiFi.
Brits have been doing up their homes and gardens this summer rather than taking holidays.almost 9 years ago
Brits have been doing up their homes and gardens this summer rather than taking holidays, new figures suggest. Spending on travel increased by a slender 1%, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, while consumer spending in the home and garden retail sector surged ahead with a 40% increase on August 2010.
After some new ideas for cooking fish?almost 9 years ago
After some new ideas for cooking fish? Head for the Falmouth Oyster Festival, which takes place between 13 -16 October 2011. The event, which celebrates the start of the oyster dredging season, will be opened by innovative Masterchef winner Tim Anderson. There will be plenty of cookery demonstrations by local chef, marquees full of Cornish produce, a working boat race and an oyster shucking contest. Cornish Cottages has properties to rent in and around the town – and there is, of course, an R in the month.
Vienna's modern art museum, the Museum Modern Kunst Ludwig Stiftung (MUMOK) has re-opened after extensive renovations.almost 9 years ago
Vienna's modern art museum, the Museum Modern Kunst Ludwig Stiftung (MUMOK) has re-opened after extensive renovations. Pieces selected from its collections are now on show in a new exhibition entitled Museum of Wishes. The museum contains around 9000 paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, graphic works, photos, videos, architectural models and furniture, invluding works by Picasso. Mondrian, Klee, Ernst, Magritte, Franci Bacon and Giacometti.
Las Vegas is to have a new kind of high roller.almost 9 years ago
Las Vegas is to have a new kind of high roller. The company that operates Caesar's Palace plans to install a 550ft Ferris wheel on a new outdoor promenade running along the city's famous Strip linking its casinos with its restaurannts ad bars. At the same time Caesar's Palace has reached an agreement with Nobu to open the world's first hotel under the Japanese restaurant brand. Designed as a 180 room boutique property it is scheduled to open summer 2012. And it goes without saying that with it will come another of Nobu's celebrated restaurants.
Passengers flying from Stansted can now buy fast track passage through security.almost 9 years ago
Passengers flying from Stansted can now buy fast track passage through security. No.1 Traveller, the airport hospitality specialist, has signed a deal with Stansted to try out “Premium Departures”. It costs £5 – or £4 if bought online in advance. That also includes provision of a clear plastic bag in which to carry liquids through checks. Travellers can buy it at www.No1Traveller.com, at www.stanstedairport.com of at a specially designated desk . No 1 Travellers also operates lounges at Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick. At Stansted you can combine “Premium Departures” with lounge access for £15.
We'll always have Phoenix.almost 9 years ago
We'll always have Phoenix. One of the city's first resort hotels, the Arizona Biltmore, built in 1929 under consulting archtect Frank Lloyd Wright, is offering couple a “Casablanca Package”. It includes a champagne and chocolate truffle greeting, after which they can settle down and hum along with Dooley Wilson at a viewing of the movie in the Ocatilla Screening Room – complete with “gourmet” popcorn and soda. After a “Parisian” breakfast you may think your troubles don't amount to a hill of beans. Rates start at $279 with valet parking thrown in.
Track the elusive snow leopard in the Himalayas.almost 9 years ago
Track the elusive snow leopard in the Himalayas. Tour operator PlanetWildlife.com is offering a 13 day trip, departing from Delhi on November 3 and starting in earnest in Leh, which was capital of the fomrer kingdom of Ladakh. Next stop is Husing Camp in the Hemis National Park. Customers will then trek the high regions of Rumbak and the Tarbung Valley – areas famous for their snow leopard population, as well as Great Tibetan sheep, Tibetan wolf, Eurasian brown bear, and bird life including the golden Eagle. Further treks will follow the Indus River to Ulley village and back to Leh. The tour costs £1,325 including all meals, accommodation and park entry fees – but not international flights.
A swish new place to stay in the photogenic Austrian resort of Kitzbuhel...almost 9 years ago
A swish new place to stay in the photogenic Austrian resort of Kitzbuhel will open in time for the coming ski season. The five star Kempinski promises 148 rooms and suites with views of the surrounding landscape. It will have a large “wellness centre” with indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Formerly known as the Royal Spa, the hotel is offering an early season deal, available from December 7, 2011 – at €25 a night B&B. www.kempinski.com/tirol
Scotland based Loganair has stepped in to secure the future of Glasgow's air link with Cornwall.almost 9 years ago
Scotland based Loganair has stepped in to secure the future of Glasgow's air link with Cornwall. On April 5, 2012 it will launch non-stop services from Glasgow to Newquay. The move follows the closure of Air Southwest, which will continue to operate the route until September 28, 2011. Loganair will fly up to five times a week. The flights takes 40 minutes and fares will start at £64.00 one way. Tickets will be on sale from September 28 at www.flybe.com. The airline operates under a franchise agreement with Flybe.
Big Celebration Holidays, Kentucky Style!almost 9 years ago
Discover the advantages of heading to Kentucky for a big celebration holiday. Home of the famous Kentucky Derby, the birthplace of bourbon and an adventure lovers dream, Kentucky has got it all.
Planning visit in May? Secure tickets to the famous Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby where visitors can enjoy the renowned Mint Julep cocktails whilst rubbing shoulders with celebrities which flock to the races every year.
Looking for a place to stay? Try the 21C Museum Hotel in Downtown Louisville, located on Main Street. The boutique hotel has been voted best hotel in America two years running. It’s just a baseball-throw away from the historic Slugger Museum and a short walk from boxing legend Muhammad Ali’s award-winning museum.
Like bourbon? Try the unmissable Urban Bourbon Trail, a set route taking in various high-class bars across Louisville offering bourbon tastings. Louisville also offers some of the most inventive American cuisine using tasty, locally sourced produce.
Looking for some more action? Try kayaking on the amazing Red River Gorge, visit the “Niagara of the South” Cumberland Falls or zip-line your way across Mammoth Cave, the world’s longest underground cave system.
Finally take a trip to Bowling Green where visitors will be blown away by a visit to the National Corvette Museum, America’s number one sports car.
For information on Kentucky visit www.kentuckytourism.com/.
Air travellers are still being charged over £265,000 a day to book with debit cards.almost 9 years ago
Air travellers are still being charged over £265,000 a day to book with debit cards despite a ruling that they should stop, according to research by Which? The consumer publication submitted a “super complaint” to the Office of Fair Trading in March, asking the regulator to look into credit and debit card charges. In June the OFT said debit card fees should be banned via a simple amendment to the Treasury's Payment Services Regulations. The Government has not acted yet and consumers are still forking out. Which? Says that “unbelievably” two airliners – - Swiss and Lufthansa – have actually started charging for credit and debit card bookings since the ruling was made.
Latest Silver Travel Advisor prize winners will be sailing up the Danube.almost 9 years ago
Liz and Malcom Bryant from Maidstone will soon be sailing up the Danube to the strains of Mozart, courtesy of Noble Caledonia and Silver Travel Advisor.
Malcolm (aged 69) and Liz (60) won first prize in our July draw, giving them a week's Mozart themed Danube cruise on board Noble Caledonia's m/s Johann Straus.
Keen travellers Malcolm and Liz said:
"We are of retirement age but both still working full time. We love to travel and we enjoy many different types of holidays from safaris in Kenya, to snorkelling in the Maldives, to cruises, to visiting our family in Wales.
We also love our family holiday each summer and have just returned from a week in Italy with four generations of our family – from our 1 year old grand daughter to my 90 year old father!
We are thrilled to win such a fantastic prize and are very much looking forward to the cruise on the Danube, an area we have never visited before".
Silver Travel Advisor's Debbie Marshall added "we are delighted for Malcolm and Liz and are sure that they will have a fabulous time.
Silver Travel Advisor was created just for people like them, as active travellers who are keen to exchange experiences and information with other like-minded mature travellers. We very much look forward to reading their review of the Mozart cruise".
Legs and lungs still in good working order?almost 9 years ago
Legs and lungs still in good working order? The Adventure Company is offering the opportunity to climb Mount Kilimanjaro at a £100 discount. Routews up vary in difficulty but although you wonj't need any technical mountaineering expertise you'll need to be fairly fit to complete anyj of them. The operator is offering departures on September 16 and October 22 with prices ranging from £1992 for 10 days taking the straightforward Manarangu route to £2449 on the less trodden Lemosho route, with two extra days to allow altitude acclimatisation.
Ryanair is to launch flights from London's Stansted Airport to Leipzig later this year.almost 9 years ago
Ryanair is to launch flights from London's Stansted Airport to Leipzig later this year. The former East German industrial city may not leap to mind as a short break destination but it has much to offer. It was home to Johann Sebastian Bach, who was its musical director and master of the St Thomas Church Choir, which is over 800 years old. Mendelssohn lived and died there there, His former house is open to visitors. Goethe studied there – and set a scene from Faust in Auerbach's Cellar, a restaurant since 1525. And there is the grimly fascinating STASI museum, housed in the former headquarters of the notorious East German secret police , whose permanent exhibition is titled “STASI – Power and Banality”.
The Romanian capital Bucharest has a new luxury hotel.almost 9 years ago
The Romanian capital Bucharest has a new luxury hotel. Hilton has opened an 88 room property there under its Doubletree brand. The hotel is on Unrili Square, close to the old Lipscari district. It has a spa and fitness centre, free high speed internet access and the Avantgarde restaurant on the top floor – its name recalling the French influence which earned Bucharest the soubriquet “Paris of the East” – has views over the city.
Controversy raged about who got there first...almost 9 years ago
Controversy raged about who got there first – but now British tourists are being offered the chance to plant their feet at the North Pole. Tour operator Frontier Canada is running a trip there, departing from Ottawa on April 9 next year. Particpants will fly to Resolute Bay in Nunavut, where they'll spend the night. Next day they will travel further north to the Canadian government weather station at Eureka. On day three or four, depending on the weather, they will fly on to Discovery Bay and beyond, refuelling before for the final leg, 276 miles to the Pole where – if conditions permit – they will land. The return journey will take in time in Greenland at Qaanaq and Grise Fjord on Ellesmere Island. The price of the nine night trip, which includes flights from the UK and a night in Ottawa at either end, is a cool £33,000.
The Palm Springs Art Museum is to mount an exhibition celebrating the swimming pool in Southern California.almost 9 years ago
Conjuring images of countless sequences in Hollywood movies, the Palm Springs Art Museum (www.psmuseum.org) is to mount an exhibition celebrating the swimming pool in Southern California. Photographs, film clips and “selected ephemera” will cover the tears from the end of the Second World War to 1982. The Museum promises snapshots of stars, “often in private and candid moments,” relaxing in their own "backyard oases". Among them will be photographs of Rock Hudson, Marilyn Monroe, Alan Ladd, Esther Williams, Olivia de Havilland and Liberace – who had a pool shaped like a grand piano. At the deeper end, the exhibition will look at the swimming pool as a symbol of the ideals and aspirations of post war life in America. It wll run from January 21 – May 27 2012.