In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Next year's Olympic weeks could be a great time to visit Britain's tourist honeypots.almost 9 years ago
Next year's Olympic weeks could be a great time to visit Britain's tourist honeypots. Attractions usually busy with overseas visitors may be much quieter than usual. Leading inbound tour operators are reporting an average downturn of 95% in bookings for travel to London during the August games, according to the European Tour Operators Association. Even in the July and August weeks before and after the Games, bookings are down by 60%. With many visitors travelling from the capital to other parts of the UK, there's bound to be a knock on effect beyond London. Tom Jenkins, the association's executive director, says: “The expectations of visitor numbers currently circulating within the hotel industry are hugely inflated. If UK businesses are basing their plans on data in some prominent visitor forecasts, London will suffer financially, as has been experienced by previous host cities.”
Spanish low cost airline Vueling is ti start flying between cardiff and Barcelona on 27 March 2012.almost 9 years ago
Spanish low cost airline Vueling is to start flying between Cardiff and Barcelona on 27 March 2012. Initially it will operate three round trips a week, by Airbus A320 aircraft, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Meanwhile another budget carrier, Wizz air, is reported to be planning to operate a new twice weekly service between Liverpoool and the Lithuanian capital, Vilnious, from May 2012.
Ancient mummies ans shimmering salt flats compelling enough reasons to visit Chile's fascinating Atacama Desert,...almost 9 years ago
Ancient mummies ans shimmering salt flats compelling enough reasons to visit Chile's fascinating Atacama Desert, reckoned to be the driest place on earth. Stargazing is a bonus. Following the opening of the major Atacama Large Millimetre Array radio telescope facility, a hotel near San Pedro has installed its own observatory. The region's clear Southern Hemisphere skies make it one of the world's best places to enjoy the night skies. The Alto Atacama Lodge (www.altoatacama.com) has added an observatory platform with a Meade Lightbridge 16in telescope.
Shanghai has a new luxury hotel with the opening of the first property in Asia under Hyatt's Andaz brand.almost 9 years ago
Shanghai has a new luxury hotel with the opening of the first property in Asia under Hyatt's Andaz brand. The 28 storey, "boutique inspired", 307 room hotel is in Xiantiandi, and entertainment area in the heart of the city full of restaurants and bars and noted for restored houses in Shikumen style, a sort of architectural cross between oriental and European which were home to Chinese people in the western quarters. Rooms have views over the city. It has a spa and fitness centre with an indoor pool, and eateries with cooking ranging from contemporary Shanghai to french bistro.
The Pipe and Glass Inn, in South Dalton, near Beverley in East Yorkshire has been named Pub of the Year by Michelinalmost 9 years ago
The Pipe and Glass Inn, in South Dalton, near Beverley in East Yorkshire has been named Pub of the Year by Michelin. The award is given to the pub which best combines factors such as character and the friendliness of staff as well as the food. The Pipe and Glass Inn is run by James and Kate Mackenzie. In 2006 they took over what was the the shell of a building dating from the 17th century and they continue to upgrade it. Rebecca Burr, editor of the Michelin Eating Out in Pubs Guide describes it as “a wonderfully warm pub and nothing is ever too much trouble for the owners.” Michelin's verdict is that “James’s cooking has developed markedly over the years. He is a great advocate of local suppliers and also uses produce from his own garden. His cooking may display elements of refinement as well as some original touches, but it comes with an inherent and satisfying heartiness because, above all, James never forgets that this is a pub, not a restaurant”.
A house in the grounds of Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn, is now on offer from CV Travel.almost 9 years ago
A house in the grounds of Hever Castle, childhood home of Anne Boleyn, is now on offer from CV Travel. Customers renting Tudor House, which was added too the Kent castle complex by William Waldorf Astor in 1903, will get access to much of the gardens, lake and and parkland at times when they are closed to the public. The house, which has four bedrooms and sleeps up to seven people, is one of a number of new properties added by the company, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. It has a terrace with views of the double moated castle and its gardens. And the cost: from £1000 for a two night stay.
Viking River Cruises win ‘Best River Cruise Line’ at the British Travel Awards.almost 9 years ago
Viking River Cruises picked up their latest accolade as they were awarded ‘Best River Cruise Line’ at the British Travel Awards 2011 for the third year running. More than 700,000 customers voted for the awards since July 2011 and the winners were announced at a Gala Dinner in Battersea on Wednesday 2nd November.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have won Best River Cruise Line for the third year running and what’s so fantastic about this award is that it is voted for by customers” said Wendy Atkin-Smith, Managing Director Viking River Cruises UK Limited. “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do as a company so to pick up this award again is a great honour.”
Viking River Cruises have already won a number of awards this year including ‘River Cruise Line of the Year’ at the Cruise International Awards and ‘River Cruise Specialist’ at the Travel Bulletin Awards.
The British Travel Awards have categories spanning 100 types of holiday experience including transport, destination, cruise, customer service, holiday extras and accommodation.
Viking River Cruises
NZ's Southern Lakes Named one of the World's Must-visit Destinations for 2012.almost 9 years ago
Influential travel authority, Lonely Planet, has chosen New Zealand's Southern Lakes region as one of the world's Top 10 Regions to visit in 2012.
The Southern Lakes region of Queenstown, Lake Wanaka and Fiordland is the only New Zealand region to feature in the new book, Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2012 – the best trends, destinations, journeys and experiences for the upcoming year.
Queenstown and Southern Lakes is ranked eighth in the book's list of Top 10 Regions for its year-round activities and spectacular scenery. An excerpt from the book reads, "There isn't a bad time to turn up in the world's top adventure playground. There're nonstop outdoor activities year-round in the resort towns of Queenstown, Wanaka and Te Anau, as well as the surrounding mountains, lakes and parks… Where else can you ski in the morning and golf or water ski in the afternoon? Add excellent wineries and superb restaurants and what more is there to say?"
The Southern Lakes region is renowned as one of the most diverse and spectacular regions in the world, encompassing the tranquil beauty of Lake Wanaka, the international four-season resort of Queenstown and Fiordland's dramatic landscapes, all surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.
Lonely Planet New Zealand spokesperson Sarah Bennett said, "This news is hardly the shock of the century. Anyone who lives in or has visited the Queenstown region will back up this accolade. Words like breathtaking, jaw-dropping, exhilarating and stunning are grossly overused in the tourism industry but the Southern Lakes region has a right to them all."
Cadogan Holidays, which has been operating for over 64 years, has confirmed it will take no more bookings after 31 October 2011.almost 9 years ago
Cadogan Holidays, which has been operating for over 64 years, has confirmed it will take no more bookings after 31 October 2011. The firm has not gone bust or entered administration. All customers who have already booked have been promised they will get their holidays as planned. The operator has been faced not just with long term changes in the way consumers book holidays but by the economic downturn and by upheavals in North Africa during the Arab Spring. It specialised in travel to Gibraltar, Egypt. Madeira, Morocco and Tunisia. Managing director Neil Chapman says: “This is a very sad day. It was a very hard decision to take. The way people book holidays now is very, very different from when we started and we could not see a viable model for the brand going forward. Other parts of our business, including our flight only operation, will keep going, however. I need to stress that Cadogan Holidays has not failed nor have we gone ‘bust’ but instead we have taken what we feel is a responsible and purely voluntary decision to stop taking bookings. Additionally I would like to offer my thanks not just to the millions of customers who enjoyed their holidays with us but also to the many suppliers and partners who worked with us to build and maintain a reputation which has lasted for over six decades.”
Cox & Kings scoops runner-up prize at Telegraph Travel Awards for 2011.almost 9 years ago
Silver Travel Advisor partner company, Cox & Kings, is delighted to have been voted as a runner-up Favourite Specialist Independent Tour Operator in the 2011 Telegraph Travel Awards. The Telegraph polled 23,000 readers about their favourite travel companies and this award is testament to the consistently high quality service and attention to detail that Cox & Kings prides itself on. The awards were made during a ceremony at London’s St. Pancras Renaissance hotel last week.
Cox & KIngs
Royal Caribbean International announces winter 2012/2013 deployment for Independence of the Seas.almost 9 years ago
Royal Caribbean International has announced that Independence of Seas will be based in the Caribbean for the 2012-13 winter season and return to the UK for the summer season in April 2013.
Independence of the Seas will depart on its trans-Atlantic voyage from Southampton on 22 November 2012, and arrive at Port Everglades on 5 December 2012. The hugely popular ship is re-locating to the Caribbean for the winter season, offering UK & Irish guests six and eight night sailings in Eastern and Western Caribbean. Since its launch in April 2008, Independence of the Seas remains the largest and most innovative cruise ship in Europe and is a real game-changer for the industry.
Dominic Paul, vice president and group managing director, UK, Ireland and Northern Europe, Royal Caribbean International explains:
"Our guests are passionate about Independence of the Seas and the winter deployment presents a great opportunity to introduce sailings on Independence of the Seas in the Caribbean to our loyal guests and introduce new guests to the ship.”
The sailing vessel Star Flyer will operate cruises in the Baltic for the first time next year.almost 9 years ago
The sailing vessel Star Flyer will operate cruises in the Baltic for the first time in 2012. Itineraries will include ten or 11 night voyages from Stockholm with an overnight in St. Petersburg. One of three ships operated by Star Clippers, the elegant 170 passenger, square rigged barquentine is a recreation of the elegant clippers which dominated the world's international trade routes in the 19th century. (www.starclippers.co.uk)
Travellers heading for the Florida Keys can now get advice online from a local professional using a “live chat” tool.almost 9 years ago
Travellers heading for the Florida Keys can now get advice online from a local professional using a “live chat” tool. Launched by the Florida Keys & Key West tourism council it is available at www.fla-keys.co.uk between 9am and 5pm UK time. Prospective visitors can enter a specific area they want information about, or just make a general inquiry.
Libya may soon be back on the tourist map.almost 9 years ago
Libya may soon be back on the tourist map. Following the country's liberation celebrations at least one UK travel firm is planning to offer tours there again, taking in sights including the magnificent Roman ruins of Leptis Magna. Ted Wake, sales and marketing director of London based Kirker Holidays says: “We are confident that we will be able to restore our programme there quite quickly. We operated there for about five years until just before the trouble broke out earlier this year and we think we might be able to start again in March. We know there is pent up demand. The infrastructure is there, including hotels and with demand from business passengers with oil industry connections, for example airlines will be quick to start operating there again. One carrier, Qatar Airways, has already announced it will start flying four times a week from November 1 between its Doha base to Benghazi.
A UK cottage specialist says it is freezing the most of next year's prices at this years levels.almost 9 years ago
A UK cottage specialist says it is freezing the most of next year's prices at this years levels. Toad Hall Cottages, which manages over 500 properties in Somerset, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and another 100 in the New Forest, says bookings were up 4.5% this year and advance reservations for 2012 and encouraging. So why not up prices rather than hold them steady? To lure in customers earlier. Director David Hamer says that “a bleak economic outlook and uncertainty about jobs” means many of them are leaving booking to the last minute.
Nobody remotely interested in ancient history should pass up the opportunity to explore the tombs and temples of Luxor and Karnak.almost 9 years ago
Nobody remotely interested in ancient history should pass up the opportunity to explore the tombs and temples of Luxor and Karnak. In the wake of the Arab spring upheavals, tempting deals continue to emerge. Discover Egypt (www.discoveregypt.co.uk) is currently offering 50% discounts for the second of two travelling together. That means a couple booking a seven night Nile cruise on the five star Viking Princess, with flights from Gatwick on December 5 or 12 2011, pay a total of £1048.50.
Take note of a big reshuffle by British Airways at Heathrow.almost 9 years ago
Take note of a big reshuffle by British Airways at Heathrow. The airline will switch its Barcelona and Madrid flights from from Heathrow’s Terminal 3 to Terminal 5 at the start of the winter season on Sunday 30 October 2011. It operates 13 round trips a week to the two Spanish cities. Simultaneously BA will shift services to five other European destinations – Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Bucharest and Larnaca – to Terminal 3.
Monarch's New Flights To Barcelona Take To The Skies.almost 9 years ago
Scheduled leisure airline, Monarch's new flight to Barcelona takes to the sky on 21 October 2011, linking London with Spain's most cosmopolitan city. Flights start from £35 one way including all taxes and charges (£54 return), and are available to book via www.monarch.co.uk.
Monarch's new scheduled flights between London Gatwick and Barcelona operate daily from 21 October, increasing to 11 flights per week from 30 October 2011, bringing the total number of scheduled destinations served by the airline from Gatwick to 13.
Commenting on the launch of this new route, Managing Director of Monarch Airlines, Kevin George said, "Barcelona is one of the UK's most popular short break destinations and we are delighted to be adding this to our route network from London Gatwick in addition to our existing flights from Manchester.
"Barcelona attracts a broad mix of visitors for business, city breaks and leisure and we have been delighted by our customer's reaction to the new service and the demand for the route. In addition to the frequency of flights, customers travelling on the route will benefit from Monarch's fantastic value fares and innovative 'build your own class' service, which offers the ability to tailor the flight package to their exact requirements including extra legroom seating and pre-ordered meals."
Also commenting on the new route launch, Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial Officer at Gatwick Airport said, "It is welcome news that Monarch has chosen to grow at Gatwick by adding another route to its long list of popular destinations already served by the airport. It is by working together that we are helping it realise its own goals for growth in London and continue to serve popular destinations for our passengers of which Barcelona is one."
Monarch's scheduled flights are available to book until October 2012. Customers now booking flights will also benefit from zero debit card charge fees and a fixed fee for all credit card bookings, regardless of the transaction value or number of people travelling.
Silver travellers are increasingly taking peak season holidays during peak seasons because they are stuck at home looking after their grandchildren during school terms.almost 9 years ago
Silver travellers are increasingly taking peak season holidays during peak seasons because they are stuck at home looking after their grandchildren during school terms. Shearings, which specialises in escorted tours for the over 55s, says it has seen a 15 per cent rise in bookings for this autumn's half term break alone. Commercial director Caroline Brown says: “Over 55s have traditionally been able to enjoy the freedom of being able to travel when they want, often benefiting from the quieter off-peak seasons. Now, we are seeing a new generation of over 55s who are so heavily involved in their grandchildren’s lives, often taking on full time child care duties, that they are being forced to wait until the school break to be able to enjoy their own holidays.” Sue Stewart, of the Grandparents Association, said: “As parents struggle to manage work and finances, many grandparents are now taking on significant duties both looking after grandchildren and helping around the house. The figures from Shearings are further evidence of this growing trend.” A recent study found that around half of all UK grandparents now look after their grandchildren and help around the house while mums and dads work.
Scotland’s premier snowsports resort eagerly awaits start of 50th anniversary season.almost 9 years ago
The excitement surrounding last week’s flurry of snow which briefly turned the upper parts of Cairn Gorm white has whetted the appetites of Scotland’s skiers for the start of the resort’s 50th season. Half a century ago the first mechanized uplift – the White Lady chairlift – opened for customers, on 23rd December 1961. The chairlift is no longer there but the famous red run which gave the piste its name still provides a popular challenge for skiers and snowboarders. They access it now using the funicular railway which was built 12 years ago and which takes them from the car park to the top station in only six minutes.
The anniversary is to be marked by a number of events including the publication of a book of photographs from the last 50 years, a photographic competition and exhibition, the bottling of a special limited edition of White Lady beer, ski patrollers wearing period tweed costume to perform their duties and a gathering to reminiscence of some of the resort’s super seniors (some 90 skiers aged 75 or over who are still skiing at Cairn Gorm).
Commenting on the prospects for the 2011-12 season, CairnGorm Mountain Marketing Manager Colin Kirkwood said ‘Judging by the number of season ticket applications we have received, skiers and boarders are looking forward to coming to CairnGorm as eagerly as ever, buoyed by the recollection of the last two great seasons when snowsports enthusiasts got great value from their season tickets. The extent and duration of the snow then also brought skiing in Scotland to the attention of visitors from further afield many of whom discovered its delights and challenges for the first time. We hope to welcome them back too to join in our celebrations of 50 years of skiing at CairnGorm using mechanized uplift.’