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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
New budget flights announcedabout 2 months ago
Continuing uncertainty over the impact of Brexit has not deterred low cost airline Wizz Air from announcing the launch of new services from UK airports to Krakow and Budapest. From 4 April the central and eastern European operator will fly twice daily to the Polish city from Luton. And from 2 May it will operate three round rips a week there from Doncaster Sheffield Airport, with departures on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Meanwhile, starting on 31 March, the airline will fly daily between Gatwick and Budapest.
TUI passengers to get streaming serviceabout 2 months ago
Holidaymakers on some TUI jets will be able to stream movies and other entertainment from their electronic devices this winter. The operator is launching a trial of the free service, called Navigate, aboard its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which are due to join the TUI Airways UK fleet starting this week. Streaming, via an inflight server, will be available on short to medium haul flights to destinations including Croatia and the Canary Islands. Passengers will also be able to browse and book excursions from their seats TUI says 79% of customers on such flights say a selection of films is an important part of their enjoyment.
Moroccan hotel offers gentle hikesabout 2 months ago
A Moroccan hotel is offering guided half-day walks in the Atlas Mountains – a region better known for lengthier treks. Hikes from the hilltop Kasbah Angour are designed for guests who want moderate walking. Led by a multilingual guide they start and finish at the property and last from 2hrs 30mins to 4 hours. There’s a choice of itineraries that are undemanding on limbs, taking in Berber villages. The hotel, in the foothills of the Atlas range, has 25 rooms and a pool with a view of the mountains. It also offers more strenuous full-day walks and other activities such as a two-day ascent of Mount Toukbal and 4X4 excursions, Rates start at £108 a night (B&B) and half-day walks cost around £24 per person. More information
Vineyard hotel plannedabout 2 months ago
As the reputation of English wines continues to grow, the country’s largest vineyard has unveiled plans to open a hotel. As part of a £4m investment programme, Denbies Wine Estate, near Dorking in Surrey, will convert its existing B&B into a new property with 17 bedrooms a bar and a restaurant. Guests will be able to taste the full range of Denbies’ wines from a dispensing machine linked to their room key cards. The hotel is expected to open in time for next summer. The estate, which attracts some 350,000 visitors a year, also plans to quadruple its sparkling wine production by the end of next year and introduce six new varietals, plante over four acres, to expand its range of still wines.
Specialist operator launches new Peru toursabout 2 months ago
Tailor-made tours to Northern Peru have been launched by Tucan Travel, which specialises in the country. Available as private trips with variable hotels and activities according to customers’ preferences, they take in an area of Peru ignored by many travellers, whose attractions include Kuelap, an site older than Machu Picchu, which can now be reached by cable car. Kuelap was founded by the Chachapoyas. Known as the Warriors of the Clouds, who were conquered by the Incas not long before the arrival of the Spanish. Hattie Seal, who specialises in personalised travel at Tucan, says “Kuelap is a fantastic alternative for people which have already visited Machu Picchu or who want to see a quieter region of Peru.” Holidays start and finish in Lima. They last eleven days. Prices start at £1,689 for each of two sharing, including some meals, internal flights and other transport, a visit to Kuelap, hikes and various other tours, including one of Lima.
New Club Med resort in Dominican Republic plannedabout 2 months ago
Club Med is to open a new resort in the Dominican Republic in December next year. The oceanfront property will comprise four ‘boutique villages’, two for adults only. The 93 acre Club Miches Playa Esmeralda will be part of Club Med’s Exclusive Collection. The company claims it will be the first resort on the Miches region, about 1hr 30min north of the well established Punta Cana holiday area. Local attractions include Laguna Limon, a nature reserve with waterfalls, and Samana Bay, known for whale watching. Club Med say it has worked with government agencies to ensure a minimal environmental footprint and has planted trees to replace every one removed. Bookings are schedule to open in January.
Senior skiers risking injury costs warns ABTAabout 2 months ago
Britain’s leading travel trade organisation claims more than a quarter of silver skiers and snowboarders have hit the slopes without checking they are covered by insurance. ABTA says its research shows 22% of Brits have taken a wintersports holiday have failed to confirm they have appropriate cover against accidents, a figure rising to £28% among over 55s. It has issued the warning as part of general wintersports travel advice in conjunction with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. But while it constitutes a worthwhile reminder the figures are likely to raise eyebrows in the ski holiday business. Silver Travel Advisor readers, for example, are unlikely to have missed the huge volume of publicity about the sometimes enormous cost of evacuation and treatment after accidents on the snow. And ski holiday operators such as Crystal and Inghams insist in their terms and conditions that customers have insurance.
Cycling through South Tyrol – new tour2 months ago
A new leisurely cycling tour of South Tyrol has been launched by specialist tour operator Freedom Treks. Starting in Bolzano and pedalling 25 – 45 kilometres a day, customers follow the Adige river past vineyards through land and townscapes shaped first by Austrian, then Italian influences. The route runs through he city of Trento, formerly part of Austria-Hungary an annexed by Italy after the First World War, with its medieval and Renaissance centre, alpine botanical garden and science museum design by Renzo Pianos, and finishes on Lake Garda. The tour is self guided and costs from £555 or each of two sharing. Departures start on 6 April. That includes six nights’ B&B accommodation, luggage transfer between hotels, maps and information. Bike hire (£74), helmets, flights and transfers and tourist tax are extra.
New Bauhaus Museum set to open2 months ago
Weimar’s Bauhaus Museum will move to a new and more spacious building next spring. Marking 100 years since the foundation by Walter Gropius of Bauhaus School later closed down by the Nazis, it will house a much bigger permanent collection of works than has been possible in the more cramped confines of the German town’s former museum of art. Exhibits will range from artwork to furniture. Notable pieces will include Marcel Breuer’s lattice chair, the teapot by Marianne Brandt, ceramics by Theodor Bogler, as well as works by Paul Klee, Peter Keler and Lászlo Moholy-Nagy. The museum promises ‘sensual experiences’ for visitors, such as bookbinding in the Bauhaus period. Scheduled to open on 6 April, the new five level building will feature a minimalist glass cube, illuminated at night, on a concrete base. With the Neues Museum and – from 2020 – a Buchenwald Memorial Exhibition on forced labour it will form part of a new cultural quarter.
Snowmass to get new hotel2 months ago
Colorado’s Snowmass, among world’s finest resorts for over 50s skiers content to cruise on wide, uncrowded an unthreatening pistes, is to get a new hotel for the coming season. The 99 room, ski in – ski out Limelight is scheduled to open in late December. Room amenities will include high speed wireless internet access, 55 inch flat screen televisions (or larger) that guests can stream entertainment to from their own devices, coffee makers and bars with microwaves and SMEG fridges. Snowmass is covered be the same lift pass as neighbouring Aspen, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, which are linked by a frequent bus service.
Mental health travel insurance warning2 months ago
Older travellers could be putting their travel insurance cover at risk by failing to declare mental health problems such as depression. That’s the warning from specialist medical insurance provider AllClear. The company’s records show they are much more reluctant to admit mental health relate conditions than under 55s. Only 2% of its customers over 75, 5% of those aged 65-74 and 10% of 55-64 year olds declared compared with 17% of young people. AllClear did not provide Silver Travel Advisor with statistics to show how many claims have been affected by failures to make such declarations. However, it is thought that a significant proportion result from the forced cancellation of trips.
New Hebrides flights planned2 months ago
Edinburgh is to get its first scheduled link with Islay in the Inner Hebrides. Scotland’s Loganair will operate there from 25 March, using a 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft. The airline points to increasing tourism to the island, already known as a centre of malt whisky distilling, with the opening of new places to stay such as the Machrie Hotel and Golf Links on Laggan Bay. The Islay route is one of four to be launched by Loganair from Edinburgh next spring. From early May it will fly year round to the Norwegian cities of Bergen and Stavanger. Flights to the former – jumping off point for the fjords – will depart on Tuesdays, Thursdays an Saturdays. Those to the latter will depart four times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays an Sundays. And from 11 May to 14 September it will operate a Saturday service to Guernsey. Meanwhile starting on 31 March British Airways will up the frequency of its summer flights between Heathrow and Inverness from 10 to 16. That will be followed by a doubling of its winter services on the route – two round trips a day.
Gluhwein on the Rhine2 months ago
Rhine cruises taking in traditional Christmas markets have been launched by French line CroisiEurope. The 180-passenger MS l’Europe will operate three five-day itineraries on 2, 6 and 10 December, providing opportunities to visit markets en route in Rudesheim and Mainz, and in Strasbourg, where the cruises will start and finish. Besides tasting Wihnachts Bredele (seasonal Alsace biscuits) at festive market stalls, passengers will be able to learn to make them on board. Prices start at £662 including all meals and drinks on board.
High end travel to Rwanda on the rise2 months ago
Rwanda is going upmarket, says a leading authority on African tourism. "There’s a generous sprinkling of luxury properties opening, causing a marked change in the kind of trips we’re arranging there”, says Chris McIntyre, managing director of tour operator Expert Africa. “Until 2017 the accommodation options were fairly basic but comfortable. Then, when gorilla permits doubled in cost to $1500 per person, a number of sophisticated lodges opened and now we’re mostly putting together high end trips to luxury camps”. Noting than demand has been fuelled by the introduction of direct flights to Kigali from Gatwick, he cites Bisate Lodge, in the Virunga Mountains area of western Rwanda, were his company offers a six day ‘Volcanoes Gorilla Safari’, including flights, full board, a private guide, vehicle and gorilla and golden monkey tracking, from £8111 a head.
Glasgow’s beer heritage celebrated at new attraction2 months ago
The history of Scotland’s oldest brewery will be the theme of a new attraction schedule to open in Glasgow on November 22. The Tennent’s Story promises an ‘immersive experience’ spanning several centuries of the Wellpark Brewery, in the city’s East End. It will centre on Hugh Tennent, great, great grandson of one of the founders, and he first brew of the eponymous lager in 1885, The decision to launch the beer was described in the press as a ‘madman’s dream’. Visitors will learn about the lager’s origins and even how to pour the perfect pint before embarking on the brewery tour and finishing with what’s described as a ‘revamped tasting experience’.
Silver travellers most inclined to splash cash – survey2 months ago
The over 55s are showing greater willingness than younger people to spend more on holidays overseas in the next 12 months, according to new research. While more people are planning breaks abroad there was overall resistance among consumers to paying more for their trips or to increase their spending in resorts. The annual Holiday Intention Index based on research by YouGov in September and published in partnership with the Institute of Travel & Tourism. Though the proportion planning holidays in the Eurozone dropped by two percentage points compared with the September 2017, the survey suggested a general resilience in the face of Brexit uncertainty. Significantly, there was no increase among those questioned about exchange rates, with the overall proportion even showing a slight fall. Sterling’s weakness was least likely to deter the over 55s. with only 13% saying the weaker £ had affected their holiday decisions, compared with 20% of 18-24 year olds.
New budget Florida flights take off2 months ago
Norwegian has launched new flights from Gatwick to Florida. The low cost airline now operates twice a week to Tampa International Airport on the Gulf Coast. As winter services take off it has also upped the frequency of its flights to two previously introduced destinations in the Sunshine State. It now flies daily from Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale – up from three a week – and five times a week to Orlando. Flights from the airport to Buenos Aires and Boston now depart daily – up from four and five a week respectively, and those to Las Vegas have doubled to four a week.
Cocktails on Connie again3 months ago
A 60 years old Lockheed Constellation is to house a cocktail lounge at New York’s JFK Airport. The newly restored airliner will sit outside the 512 room hotel, scheduled to open next spring, which is being developed in the airport’s former TWA terminal. Both the ‘Connie’ and the terminal will be remembered or their distinctive, elegant lines. The former resulted from a request by Howard Hughes, the major TWA stockholder, for a 40-passenger, transcontinental airliner with a 3500 mile range. One of the fleet served as Airforce One for President Eisenhower. The aircraft where Manhattans and Martinis will now be poured again, having been rendered obsolete by the advent of jets, was abandoned by drug runners in Honduras during the 1980s. The terminal, with its wing shaped roof, was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, whose other work included the St. Louis Gateway Arch. It opened at what was then Idlewild Airport in 1962 and closed in 2001, when TWA was acquired by American Airlines. The building was added to the American National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
New beach hotel encourages guests to swap skills with locals3 months ago
The first hotel under a new brand claiming to connect guests to locals and their way of life is schedule to open in Mauritius this week. The 59 room SALT of Palmar is on the island’s east coast. Arguing that there’s more to a holiday in Mauritius than lying on a beach, its locally based developers invite guests to learn skills from their suppliers, such as early morning fishing, basket weaving or pottery. Its chef will be available to teach how to cook Mauritian dishes such as fish vindaye. Through a programme called Skill Swap, they will also be able to teach local their own skills. The hotel, which has a spa, pool and is located on a beach, has a pesticide free farm growing fruits and vegetables hydroponically. Part of the farm has been given over to a non profit organisation training Mauritians needing help in agricultural skills.
Tour company sees big rise in solo travel3 months ago
Evidence of a rise in solo travel continues to grow. Cox & Kings, Britain’s oldest travel company, says it has seen a 37% increase since last year in the number of customers booking from its programme of tour specifically designed for such travellers. This follows a 50% jump in the year to last autumn. It says the average age of its solo customers is 58. The company has added four new destinations to its solo programme of small group tours– including Madagascar. As an operator at the high quality end of the spectrum its numbers are too small to be extrapolated with any confidence to the market as a whole. However, its experience appears to indicate a quickening trend. One possible explanation is that as silver travellers become fitter and more adventurous, couples may be more inclined to take separate holidays, one going skiing, say, while the other takes a cultural trip.