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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Hotel launches shipping container villas28 days ago
As if ‘glamping’ and ‘staycations’ weren’t enough to have language conservatives spluttering into their morning coffees, how about ‘glamtainers’? An Australian hotel has opened four villas in converted shipping containers, with waterfall and rock pool views through glass floors and infinity day beds overhanging a spectacular precipice. The hotel – Clifftop at Hepburn – is 90 minutes northwest of Melbourne in Hepburn Springs, a resort town surrounded by the country’s biggest concentration of mineral springs.
Brexit threat to flights recedes29 days ago
The threat that flights could be disrupted in the event of a no deal Brexit appears to have receded. The European Commission said it had adopted two measures that will avoid full interruption of air traffic between the UK and the EU. It published a proposed regulation that would maintain certain air services between the UK and the EU for 12 months. It also proposes to extend the validity of certain aviation safety licences for nine months. In a statement it said: “These measures will only ensure basic connectivity and in no means replicate the significant advantages of membership of the Single European Sky.” That is thought to mean UK based airlines will not have the right to fly between airports in other EU countries, a problem which some carriers have moved avoid by setting up separate operations in the 27. The contingency plan also depends on the UK giving EU airlines equivalent rights and ensuring conditions of fair competition. The announcement follows a Sunday Times front page story claiming the Government had a contingency plan to warn travellers they should not book flights that might be affected by a cliff edge Brexit. The report provoked howls of protest from the travel industry and was quickly dismissed as ‘categorially untrue’ by the Government.
Spain - new winter flights to take off29 days ago
New fights to Lleida in northeast Spain are set to take off from Stansted on Sunday 2 December. Jet2 will operate there once a week on Sundays through the winter. Lleida is one of the oldest cities in Catalonia, It has an impressive, late Romanesque, early Gothic cathedral and is a jumping off point for ski slopes in the Pyrenees, notably those of Baqueira Beret, which is about 2hrs 30mins away.
Miro’s Mallorca studio opensabout 1 month ago
Joan Miro’s workshop in Palma, Mallorca is open to the public again after ten months of painstaking renovations. Designed the Catalan artist’s friend, Josep Lluis Sert, it was the studio where he created most of his work from 1956 until his death in 1983. Formerly the workshop – known as the Taller Sert – contained original paintings and sculptures from the collection of Mallorca’s Fundacio Miro (Miro Foundation). Because of concerns about conservation, these have been replaced by 65 replicas. During the renovation work the Foundation examined photographs, videos, artefacts and personal items in an effort to reflect exactly the way Miro thought and worked.
New departure lounge opened at Luton Airportabout 1 month ago
Luton Airport’s re-vamped departure lounge has been opened officially by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. The move follow a three year, £160 million redevelopment – the biggest project in the airport’s 80 years history. Over 30 new shops have opened, including those of an Iberian ham specialist and luxury brands Hugo Boss and Chanel. A premium wine bar – specialising in sparkling wines – and a French inspired brasserie have been added. The security area has been expanded and a new boarding pier added. While criticisms of some aspects of access look likely to linger, it has been improved by a new dual carriageway, bus terminus and multi-storey car park. And the current shuttle bus service to an from Luton Airport Parkway station is scheduled to be replaced in 2021 by a light rail link.
Ludlow’s Feathers Hotel to rise againabout 1 month ago
The 17th century Feathers Hotel in Ludlow, Shropshire, forced into administration last year following a fatal outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease in 2017, is expected to re-open next spring. The 40 bedroom, half timbered property, which will be 400 years old next year, has been acquired by Birmingham based group Crest Hotels. A 69 years old Merseyside woman died of a stroke as a result of the disease after saying there with her husband. The Feathers will now undergo a £500,000, root and branch refurbishment, including the replacement of its plumbing system, in which legionella bacteria were found. Though the hotel had re-opened after being cleared by Shropshire Council and Public Health England, elevated levels of the bacteria were again found earlier this year and the hotel went into administration in August.
Skis to spare your kneesabout 1 month ago
Still in the market for new skis? US website seniorsskiing .com has drawn up its latest list of those most likely to spare those aging knees. Most of the skis suggested have a fairly soft flex, making them relatively easily to turn. The list includes recommendations for men and women and differentiates those that are best for groomed pistes and skis that work equally well on or off piste. One caveat though – check the models online to ensure they sell under the same names in the UK. Register at www.seniorsskiing.com
Historic Gulf fort opens to visitorsabout 1 month ago
Abu Dhabi’s oldest fort, Qasr Al Hosn, has opened to the public. Its inner defences were built around 1795, to protect what was then a recently established island community reliant on fishing and pearling. Built on the site of an earlier watchtower that defended the island’s only freshwater well, they became the Emir’s palace and seat of government, remaining so until 1966. Films, Interactive displays, oral histories, artefacts and historical treasures combine to bring its story to life.
EU staff shortage hits Highlands hotelsabout 1 month ago
Brexit threatens a staffing crisis for hotels in the Scottish Highlands as job applications from the EU slow to a trickle. That is the warning from the Inverness Hotels Association, which fears that despite booming tourism to the region, some properties may even be forced to close if no action is taken. Chairman Emanuel Moine said, “Poles, for example, were worried they would be asked to go home. There is also the problem of the exchange rate. They would now rather go to Ireland, which uses the euro.” The problem was particularly acute for smaller, independent properties and those in remote areas. “I think they are relying even more on staff coming from Europe. There was a need to build a domestic workforce but local people don’t see hospitality as a career in the way those from countries such as Poland and Hungary do”. The problem clearly represents an opportunity for private bed and breakfast owners and those renting through Airbnb. The Highlands are unlikely to be alone. The irony is that just as a weaker £ promises to attract more tourists to the UK, a slide in service levels may deter them from booking again.
BA to launch new summer flightsabout 1 month ago
New flights to Ljubljana and Montpellier are scheduled to take off from Heathrow next summer. British Airways will fly to the Slovenian capital and the French city – which is close to the Mediterranean coast between Narbonne and Marseille – from 15 July to 2 September. Services to the former will operate on Mondays and Fridays. Those to southwest France will depart four times a week, on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Meanwhile China Eastern has begun flying from London to Shanghai. The airline is operating three round trips a week between Gatwick and Pudong Airport, using Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Non-stop flights, taking 11hrs 40minutes, depart from London at 11.50am, 12.10pm or noon, on Fridays, Sundays or Tuesdays respectively. They are scheduled to arrive at 7.30am next morning. Westbound services will depart at 1.45am on the same days, reaching Gatwick at 6.30am.
Butterfly migration package launchedabout 1 month ago
The extraordinary 3000 mile migration of Monarch butterflies from North America to Mexico is the focal point of a holiday launched by newly formed tour firm Awesome Experiences. The best time to see them is in January and February, when customers will be taken to the fir forests near Angangueo in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, some 60 miles northwest of Mexico City, where thousands of the large, vividly coloured butterflies – their wingspan can stretch to over four inches – cover the branches. Most of the wintering Monarchs from eastern North America are found there. The package, which also includes a hot air balloon ride over the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán, costs from £2,415 a head. That doesn’t include international flights.
Pyrenees on snowshoe – new holidaysabout 1 month ago
A range of new snowshoeing holidays have been launched by specialist tour operator Purely Pyrenees. Likely to appeal to silver skiers tired of Europe’s often busy pistes, they take guests off the beaten track on to silent valleys, often on virgin snow. There are four options, all at low levels of difficult and starting with lessons for those who haven’t experienced walking on snowshoes. Daily excursions will be led by qualified guides and the company says groups will not exceed 15. Further details at www.purelypyrenees.com.
CAA takes compensation action against Ryanairabout 1 month ago
The UK civil Aviation Authority has launched legal action against Ryanair following the airline’s decision that EU rules do not oblige it to compensate passengers hit when its staff went on strike in the summer. Disruption cause the cancellation of hundreds of flights. After passengers’ claims were rejected by Ryanair, they were able to take resolve disputes. But, said the Authority, the airline had pulled out of its agreement with AviationADR. Ryanair’s argument is that it was exempted from paying compensation because the strikes represented ‘extraordinary circumstances’ beyond its control. The CAA contends that they did not, and that the airline should pay up. It advised passengers with strike related claims that they would not have to wait for the result of its enforcement action.
New Aussie luxury train bookings openabout 1 month ago
Bookings have opened for travel on Australia’s latest luxury train journey. Great Southern Rail’s new service will run between Adelaide and Brisbane. It joins the operator’s established journeys, between Adelaide and Darwin on The Ghan and Sydney-Perth aboard the Indian Pacific. There will be 16 departures during its inaugural season, which will start on 6 December next year and finish on 17 January 2020. On the two night, three day trip to Brisbane here will be en route opportunities to visit Grampians National Park, the capital Canberra, and he northern New South Wales coast. On the four-day southwest bound journey passengers will be able to spend an immersive day in the wine growing Hunter Valley and take in Victoria’s Twelve Apostles. Two locomotives will haul 28 coaches accommodating up to 214 passengers. Fares. Including meals and drinks on board and excursions, start at AU$1649 (about £930 at the current exchange rate) for a single traveller and $1,829 for two (about £1,033).
Gatwick to get budget Brazil flightsabout 1 month ago
Budget flights from Gatwick to Brazil are scheduled to take off next spring. Starting on 31 March, low cost airline Norwegian will operate four round trips a week to Rio de Janeiro by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, with fares starting at £239 one way – or £549 in Premium. Flights will depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Outbound services will depart at noon, arriving at 7.25pm. London bound flights will leave a 10.15pm, arriving at 1.35pm next day. On the same date the airline will change the destinations of two existing services from Gatwick. Flights to Oakland will land in San Francisco and Fort Lauderdale services will operate to Miami. Norwegian says the switch will bring in more business traffic and cargo revenue.
Heathrow launches app for visually impairedabout 2 months ago
Visually impaired passengers using Heathrow can now download a free app which connects them directly to a trained agent who will help them find locations in the terminals. Advice will include how to get to gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants. It will also provide news of any problems affecting their trips. The app is called Aira. It can also be used to pre-booked special assistance from their airline.
Cambodian jungle trek launchedabout 2 months ago
Hikers will sleep in jungle hammocks on a new small group hiking holiday in the Cambodia launched for next year by specialist tour operator Walks Worldwide. The route, described as of moderate difficulty, runs though Virachey National Park, in the northeast of the country, a mixture of semi evergreen lowlands, bamboo thickets, cloud forest and savannah. Guided by an indigenous forest ranger. Walkers will trek deep into the jungle, sometimes on unmade paths cut by machete and are promise a swim in a natural pool. The itinerary includes a visit to the temple complex at Angkor Wat and a boat trip to see endangered Mekong dolphins. There will be three departures, in March, October and November. The ten night trip costs £2,100 including B&B, some meals and return flights to Phnom Penh.
Silver Travel Advisor wins top awardabout 2 months ago
The team at Silver Travel Advisor are thrilled to have won Gold at the British Travel Awards for Best Travel Review/Ratings Website. MD Debbie Marshall said, “What’s so important to us is that these awards are voted for by the general public. We are so pleased that our website is offering a service that clearly resonates with its readers. And a big thank you to all who voted”. In the past, Silver Travel Advisor has won Bronze and Silver in this category at the British Travel Awards.
No deal Brexit threatens ports disruption, MPs warnabout 2 months ago
Ferry passengers including cross Channel travellers, face a risk of disruption at ports if the UK leaves the EU in March without a deal, MPs have warned. And the threat deepens as time runs out to deliver want is needed, says the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee in its latest report. “There is a real risk of major disruption at our ports. The slow progress and poor communication around work to avoid this through schemes such as Operation Brock concerns us.” Operation Brock is a contingency plan to create giant lorry park by introducing a contraflow system on a 13 mile section of the M20 between junction eight near Maidstone and junction nine near Ashford in Kent. The committee says: “With only months to go, it is extremely worrying that we are seeing these same concerns again and again with little progress being made. Even if a deal is agreed, the Department faces a challenging workload during the proposed transition period.”
Cruise ship to offer glamping at seaabout 2 months ago
Cruise passengers on a new ship designed for trips to the Galapagos Islands will be able to camp on deck. Celebrity Cruises claims it’s the first ever glamping experience at sea. Subject to an extra charge, two pairs of travellers on the Celebrity Flora will be able to book well separated cabanas. Each will get one for sleeping, the other for eating dinner and a full bed-side breakfast. They’ll have the services of a naturalist who’ll help them identify stars and constellations. The Flora will make her debut sailing in late May next year.