In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Les chalets d'arbois

    Historic ski chalets re-open as luxury hotel

    about 1 month ago

    A group of ski chalets developed by the Rothschild family was scheduled has re-opened as a five star Four Seasons hotel. Les Chalets du Mont d’Arbois in the French resort of Megève have undergone extensive renovations costing more than €10 million, The development has begun in 1926 by Baroness Noemie de Rothschild, who had founded the resort just after the First World War as a French rival to St, Moritz – at a time when the word chalet meant an alpine shepherd’s hut. The property’s 41 refurbished rooms and suites are in three chalets 100 metres from each other. It incorporates a Michelin starred restaurant, an upgraded indoor-outdoor pool, a sauna, hammam and a hot tub.

  • Silver skier

    Silver skier - image by Roger Bray

    Insurer scraps age cap for skiers

    about 1 month ago

    Could this be an early sign that the insurance industry is at last responding to the increasing fitness of silver travellers? Staysure has removed the upper age limit from its ski cover. Previously the limit was 71. As this is a company specialising in travel insurance for the over 50s, this had seemed absurdly young. A spokeswoman agreed. “At Staysure we believe that age should not be a barrier to travel and we are constantly looking at ways to improve our cover and services for our customers. We know that many people over the age of 70 continue to enjoy the slopes and many other active holidays, so it’s important that they can come to a specialist such as Staysure for their cover and feel confident in their purchase.” In the interest if fairness it should be noted that Haslemere based MPI Brokers raised its upper age limit for wintersports insurance to 100 some years ago.

  • Albania

    Dhermi Beach, Albania. Image by Linda Saitos from Pixabay

    EasyJet to launch Albania flights

    about 1 month ago

    Budget airline Easyjet is to fly to Albania next summer. It will also return to Tunisia after an absence of five years following the 2015 massacre at Sousse in which 38 people were murdered. The carrier will fly three times a week frolm Gatwick to the Albanian capital, Tirana, starting on 1 May. Tirana is about 40 minutes by road from country’s Adriatic beaches. It will operate twice a week – also from Gatwick – to the Enfidha- Hammamet Airport in Tunisia. Other new routes for next summer include Liverpool to Antalya in Turkey and Edinburgh to Gibraltar. Meanwhile British Airways is to operate a clutch of new routes next summer. It will fly to Pristina and Podgorica respectively capitals of Kosovo and Montenegro, with departures on Saturdays between 4 July and 29 August. The airline will operate to the Italian city of Perugia, in Umbria on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays between 2 July and 31 August. And it will operate to Rhodes from Heathrow on Saturdays from 4 July – 29 August and twice a week from Gatwick to Corfu from 1 May – 23 October.

  • Flanders art min

    Image copyright Hugo Maertens, Art in Flanders vzw

    Van Eyck masterpiece heads home

    about 1 month ago

    The Ghent Altarpiece, created by Jan van Eyck in collaboration with his brother Hubert in 1432 and restored to its former glory, will return to its original home in the city’s St Bavo’s Cathedral next October. Meanwhile its renovated outer panels will go on view at a major exhibition which will bring together nearly half of the 20 or so surviving works by Jan van Eyck. Otherwise known as the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, and painted on 18 oak panels, the altarpiece will be on dis-play in a new visitor centre to be opened at the cathedral. In 1934, two panels were stolen, One, the John the Baptist panel, was re-turned anonymously, but The Just Judges. which is still missing, was replaced by a reproduction. The exhibition “Van Eyck. An Optical Revolution”, will run from 1 February – 30 April at the city’s Museum of Fine Arts and will include loans from around the world.

  • Mumbai dhabawalla%281%29

    Spend a day with Mumbai’s dhabawallas

    about 1 month ago

    A day with Mumbai’s Dhabawallas, who deliver lunches to the city’s workers, is on offer from menu of immersive “experiences” from tour operator Transindus. It is estimated there are up to 5000 dhabawallas, whose life was depicted in The Lunchbox, a 2013 film written and directed by Ritesh Batra. They handle as many as 175,000 – 200,000 lunches a day, usually carrying them in cylindrical tin or aluminium containers and typically travelling by bicycle or train. Other possibilities available from the firm’s new programme of tailor made holidays to the Indian sub continent include trying the competitive kite flying sport of patang with locals in Amritsar and riding a Marwari horse, a popular breed in Rajasthan, through the Thar Desert on the Indo-Pakistan border. The programme also covers travel to Sri Lanka, Nepal – and Bhutan, where customers can hear an astrological reading from a resident Buddhist monk at a 16th century monastery or take an archery class in the Bumthang Valley.

  • Trieaste hotel

    Palazzo opens as Trieste hotel

    about 1 month ago

    A palazzo from Europe’s eclectic architectural period in the early 20th century has been converted into a hotel in the Italian city of Trieste. The Doubletree by Hilton preserves elements such as stained glass windows, mosaics and restored fireplaces. The property has 100 rooms and 25 suites, a restaurant and a “coffee tea and cocktail bar”. The city of Trieste was an important port for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Around the time that the palazzo was constructed it became a magnet for the likes of James Joyce, who completed Dubliners and started writing Ulysses there, and Sigmund Freud. It was annexed by Italy after the First World War. It became an independent city state in 1947 and rejoined Italy seven years later.

  • Jungfraujoch railway min%281%29

    Junfraujoch railway - image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

    First stage of massive mountain lift project set to open

    about 1 month ago

    The first a huge Alpine lift upgrade is set to open in the Swiss Alps thia week. When completed late next year at a total cost of some £330m, the “V-Cableway” project will roughly halve to 45 minutes the current journey time from the Bernese Oberland town of Grindelwald to the Jungfraujoch at 11,332ft, connecting a new aerial gondola to the existing narrow gauge railway that runs almost entirely through tunnels built into the Eiger and Munch mountains. Before that the first arm of the V in the project name – another state-of-the-art gondola – is scheduled to open on 14 December. It will cut travel time between the same new lift terminal and the ski slopes of Mann lichen from 30 to 19 minutes. With cabins for up to ten people the lift will double capacity on the route to 1800 skiers, snowboarders, or other mountain visitors, and will replace the existing cable car, which will close next spring.

  • Lisbon

    Image by Frank Nurnberger from Pixabay

    New budget Lisbon flights to take off

    about 1 month ago

    Lisbon is the latest destination to be added by Jet2 and its tour operating arm. The low cost airline will start flying to the Portuguese capital from Manchester and Birmingham on April 20. Flights will depart twice a week, on Fridays and Mondays, opening the way for long weekends there. The airline flies to over 70 European destinations from nine UK airports. The other seven are East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Stansted, Belfast International and Newcastle.

  • Fontevraud abbey

    June opening for Loire abbey art museum

    about 1 month ago

    A new modern art museum is now scheduled to open next June at Fontevraud l’Abbaye, near Chinon in the Loire Valley. Its collection will comprise major 19th and 20th century works by Corot, Dubuffet, Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec, Derain and Delaunay. The museum, which had been expected to open later this year, will be housed in the for-mer stables. It has been funded to the tune of €8.6m by the Pays de la Loire region. Fontevraud is the largest complex of monastic buildings in France. It is original burial place of monarchs including England’s Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son King Richard the Lionheart. Though their remains may have been removed during the French Revolution, their reclining effigies may be seen in the Abbey church. After the Revolution and the dispersal of its monks and nuns it became a prison, among whose inmates was the writer Jean Genet. Now restored, the complex incorporates a hotel and a Michelin starred restaurant.

  • Cox and kings

    Takeover deal for UK’s oldest travel firm deal

    about 2 months ago

    Britain’s oldest travel firm, Cox & Kings has been acquired by rival luxury holiday operator Abercrombie & Kent for an undisclosed sum. The company, which was founded in the 18th century and arranged travel for the British administration of India, had been looking for fresh investment after its Mumbai based parent company ran into financial difficulties. Abercrombie & Kent, which was founded by Geoffrey Kent in 1962 with the motto “off the beaten track safaris”, has said it will safeguard all current and future bookings. It believes the two brands will complement each other. The company’s portfolio includes Sanctuary Retreats, a collection of camps, lodges and riverboats across Africa, Egypt, China and Myanmar. Mr Kent, who is co-chairman, said: “Cox & Kings’ heritage, service and brand align well with A&K. The company’s product portfolio is complementary to our own and increases A&K’s presence in the luxury travel sphere. This is an exciting time for A&K and the first iteration of growth plans globally.” A Cox & Kings spokesperson said: “"Joining the A&K family is an exciting new venture that will witness two heritage brands come together and offer an even greater breadth of holiday experiences. Cox & Kings UK will continue to operate as it always has done, offering the same award-winning service and attention to detail."

  • Baracks hotel

    Artillery barracks to become hotel

    about 2 months ago

    Barracks with a chequered history are set to open as a hotel in Singa-pore next week. Once a British artillery base the converted buildings will now house the Barracks Hotel Sentosa, a property with 40 rooms and suites. It will have a pool with bar and deck, a spa and a gym and restaurants including one in which diners will be able to watch sharks and other sea creatures in an aquarium beyond huge windows. All far removed from the Second World War and its aftermath, when the bar-racks first housed British POWs, who suffered deprivation and brutali-ty, and later Japanese prisoners. Blakang Mati Artillery Barrack had been built in 1904 on the island now known as Sentosa, which has be-come a major centre of leisure activities, with beaches and attractions such as a waterpark and animal shows.

  • Zurich trams by markus krebs via pixabay

    Image by Markus Krebs from Pixabay

    London lags in European transport comparison

    about 2 months ago

    Zurich has emerged with the highest overall score in a comparison of transport options in 30 major European cities. Despite its underground system, London lags behind at 26h, partly because of the price of tax-is. The survey comes from Berlin based Omio, a travel app and plat-form that allows customers to book trains, buses and flights across Eu-rope. Zurich’s score was boosted by its dense tramline network and the fact that it has most taxis as a proportion of its population. Lon-don was clearly not helped by the weakness of the £ since the Brexit referendum. The survey was not designed with only tourists in mind, but has elements relevant to them. It rates cities for the cost of public transport, with Warsaw emerging as cheapest, followed by Madrid, Lisbon and Milan. And it compares other means of getting around, ranging from taxis to city wide bike rental and scooter schemes. Berlin comes top in this category with Vienna, Paris and Milan next highest scorers. Lisbon and Porto have the lowest taxi fares. Bratislava has the cheapest single tickets on public transport. Manchester, which comes 16th overall, has the densest bus network. Porto has eight different e-scooter services and Berlin has the most shared bike providers.

  • Norwegian 787 pixabay

    Image by David Charles Peacock via Wikimedia Creative Commons

    Norwegian expected to launch transatlantic flights

    about 2 months ago

    Low cost airline Norwegian is expected to launch transatlantic flights from Heathrow for the first time after securing take off and landing slots at the airport. It has yet to reveal the destination it will use them top serve. But reports suggest it may operate three round trips a week to Orlando from next summer. Previously Norwegian has concentrated its UK operation at Gatwick. The airline issued a statement confirming it had been granted six slots – three each for take offs and landing. “We have a strong track record of disrupting incumbent carriers and alliances by offering low fares and award winning service on specific routes and destinations that were previously operated as monopolies. Our strategy benefits both consumers and businesses boosting local economies and employment. We continuously adjust our network in response to demand and we will announce any further changes as and when it is appropriate to do so.” Norwegian raised fresh capital recently after a period of financial turbulence caused partly by the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. But its Transatlantic network has been boosted by and interline deal, starting next summer, with US budget carrier JetBlue, which will provide a wide range of connections for passengers based on both sides of the Atlantic.

  • Air pax

    Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

    Agreement to tackle unruly airline passengers

    about 2 months ago

    An international agreement that promises to make the prosecution of unruly air passengers on international flights much easier will come into force on 1 January. Under the current Tokyo Convention, jurisdiction is limited to the country where the aircraft is registered. This causes problems when disruptive passengers are handed over to for the police after touch down. Under the Montreal Protocol 2014 the authorities in the country where the flight arrives will be able to en-force action. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents most of the world’s leading carriers, cites incidents including physical assault, harassment, smoking or failing to follow crew instruction, which may compromise flight safety, cause significant delays and operational disruption and adversely impact the travel experience and work environment for passengers and crew. So far 22 nations have ratified the Montreal Protocol. IATA’s Director General and CEO Alex-andre de Juniac says: "Everybody on board is entitled to enjoy a journey free from abusive or other unacceptable behaviour. But the deterrent to unruly behaviour is weak. About 60% of offences go unpunished be-cause of jurisdictional issues.” He called on more Governments to ratify the Protocol “so that unruly passengers can be prosecuted according to uniform global guidelines”.

  • Sydney min%281%29

    Image by Anna Mustermann from Pixabay

    Sydney’s trams set to start running

    about 2 months ago

    Visitors to Sydney should be able to ride delay plagued light rail system by early next month. Built at a cost of around £1.4bn its trams are expected to start carrying passengers from Randwick to Circular Quay, with a branch line to Kingsford opening next year. Attractions close to Circular Quay include the Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Other tram stops will include the Queen Victoria Building and Chinatown. Randwick is close to beaches, natural saltwater swimming pools including Wylie’s Bath and the Fred Hollows nature reserve.

  • Hotel mil8

    Pool with a view at new French ski hotel

    about 2 months ago

    Avoriaz, the traffic free French ski resort purpose built at 1,800 metres in the Alps, will have a new hotel this winter. Hotel MiL8 – the name reflects its altitude – is scheduled to open next month. It will incorporate a glass fronted “wellness centre” and infinity pool with views of nearby buildings and the surrounding peaks. With a silver grey latch exterior designed to blend with the wooden tiles that characterise Avoriaz the property will have 42 rooms and suites with balconies also looking out on the mountains and two restaurants – one for lunch at piste level. Daily rates start at €250 per room for bed and breakfast.

  • Andalucia walk

    Cordoba to Granada on foot – new tour launched

    about 2 months ago

    Off the beaten track in Andalucia, a new self guided walking tour from Cordoba to Granada has been launched for next year by tour operator Pura Aventura. Following paths taken by olive harvesters and shepherds, the route takes in the region’s characteristic white villages, passing through the rugged Sierras Subbeticas natural park, home to southern Spain’s largest breeding colonies of griffon vultures and a huge variety of other bird species, including Bonelli’s and short toed eagles. Luggage is transferred between rural inns so walkers need carry only day packs. Prices start at £1695 for each of two sharing. That covers nine nights’ b&b accommodation, some dinners and lunches, walking notes, maps, use of a GPS device, an olive oil tasting and a flamenco ticket and guided tours of Cordoba and Granada– but not flights. The operator has also launched a new inn-to-inn walking holiday of similar length through the Minho, in north Portugal.

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    Paris: new food, shopping and art centre

    about 2 months ago

    Seen all the main attractions of Paris but thinking of another visit? A major new shopping, dining and cultural complex, claimed to be one of the largest of its kind in Europe, was set to officially open its retail and food operation today. The centre is on the outskirts of the city in Romainville, an industrial quarter near the Camal do l’Ourcq. Accessible by Metro to Bobigny-Pontin station, it is partly housed in former factories and partly in a renovated building that once served as sta-bles for horses that drew the city’s omnibuses. Paddock Paris will have ten restaurants, from European to Asian, and an 800 square metre food court. Among its 75 shops will be outlets for brands such as Addidas and Delsey and an offshoot of the upmarket Department store Galeries Lafayette. The already part open cultural element has been developed by the Fondation Fiminco, which will offer the public the chance to see art in the process of creation by its artists in residence. includes five contemporary art galleries, space for temporary exhibi-tions.

  • 800 juneyaoairboeing787 9withchinesepetallivery 584650

    Manchester to get Shanghai flights

    about 2 months ago

    Flights between Manchester and Shanghai are scheduled to take off at the end of March. Chinese carrier Juneayao Air is to launch its first UK service, operating three round trips a week by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with economy and business cabins. Flights will operate initially via Helsinki. Arriving in Manchester at 8.30am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and departing for Shanghai at 10pm on the same days. Though its name is perhaps unfamiliar in Britain, Juneyao is one of China’s leading privately owned airlines, with a fleet of 72 Aircraft and over 160 domestic and international routes.

  • Kaprun

    Image copyright Kitzsteinhorn

    Key new ski lift to boost Austrian resort

    about 2 months ago

    A major new ski lift scheduled to open at the end of November prom-ises to propel Austria’s Kaprun into the premier league of European resorts. Part of a massive €81.5 million investment, the gondola will enable skiers and snowboarders to reach the Kitzsteinhorn glacier at 3029 metres directly from the resort centre. It will run from the Mais-kogel at 1570 metres to Langwied, just over 400 metre higher, form-ing the last link in a string of six lifts running for 12 kilometres, claimed to be the longest of its kind in the eastern Alps and covering the greatest change in altitude. The gondola, constructed by Austrian manufacturer Doppelmayr, will comprise 32 cabins, each carrying 32 passengers some four kilometres in nine minutes. Access to the Kitz-steinhorn, with its summer glacier skiing, has been possible only by us-ing a lift system starting a five kilometre drive or bus ride from the vil-lage.