In the News this Week...

brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
  • Hakuba japan

    Hakuba Valley, Japan

    Five day ski packages on Japanese slopes

    about 2 months ago

    Ski and mountain specialist Inghams has launched five night packages to Japan for next winter. Customers will ski on the slopes of the Hakuba Valley, which comprises ten different areas, all on one lift pass. They will stay in Happo-one, on Mount Karamatsu in the northern Japanese Alps, which is about 1hr by road from Nagano and was one of the venues for the 1998 Winter Olympics. The area offers “superb off piste opportunities”, says Inghams. Visitors may relax post ski muscles in water from hot springs in traditional bath houses called onsens. Sample price of the package (for departures on 14 December, 29 February and 7 and 14 March) is £1,869 for each of two sharing. That covers flights from Heathrow, transfers, b&b and lift pass. But the duration of the holiday is also flexible, with add ons possible.

  • Toulouse airport hotel

    Hampton by Hilton Toulouse Airport

    New hotel opens at Toulouse airport

    about 2 months ago

    Early flight home from Toulouse? A new hotel has opened at the airport with a free shuttle to the terminal. The Hampton by Hilton is about 600 metres from check in. It has 126 rooms, a fitness centre and free wi fi. A hot breakfast is included in the room price. For travellers using satnav, the property is at 92 rue de Bordebasse, Blagnac.

  • Luxembourg 2648046 pixabay

    Luxembourg

    Luxembourg tops accessible cities table

    about 2 months ago

    Europe’s most accessible city for visitors is Luxembourg, according to a league table assembled by comparethemarket.com. It has the highest proportion of accommodation suitable for wheelchair users and ranks in the top three for wheelchair accessible attractions. Berlin comes second, followed by Stockholm and Oslo. Among the biggest destination cities, Paris is sixth, Vienna and Madrid are ninth and tenth, London and Amsterdam 11th and 12th. Dublin and Rome are next at 13th and 14th but Prague is down at 24th, Lisbon 29th and Athens is at 32nd.

  • Montenegro village 843220 pixabay

    Montenegro

    Tourism to Montenegro rockets

    about 2 months ago

    Montenegro, not so long ago a little trodden destination, saw international visits soar by 50% during the year to May, according to the European Travel Commission. Turkey (+12%) was the only other country to have posted double digit growth. Though sterling continued to be weakened by Brexit uncertainty, the UK suffered a small decline. And for the first time in nearly a decade Romania and Iceland saw visits fall, the latter thought to have been hit by the demise of low cost airline WOW. Among the countries benefitting from a strong dollar was Greece, which was up 8% overall but within that figure enjoyed a 47.4 increase in visits from the US. The Commission’s latest report notes growth rate for Europe as a whole is predicted at 3.6%, which is broadly in line with the average over ten years to 2018 but lower than last year’s 6.1%.

  • Hakuba 002

    Hakuba, Japan

    Five day ski packages on Japanese slopes

    about 2 months ago

    Ski and mountain specialist Inghams has launched five night packages to Japan for next winter. Customers will ski on the slopes of the Hakuba Valley, which comprises ten different areas, all on one lift pass. They will stay in Happo-one, on Mount Karamatsu in the northern Japanese Alps, which is about 1hr by road from Nagano and was one of the venues for the 1998 Winter Olympics. The area offers “superb off piste opportunities”, says Inghams. Visitors may relax post ski muscles in water from hot springs in traditional bath houses called onsens. Sample price of the package (for departures on 14 December, 29 February and 7 and 14 March) is £1869 for each of two sharing. That covers flights from Heathrow, transfers, B&B and lift pass. But the duration of the holiday is also flexible, with add-ons possible.

  • Bear wood wild place project bristol

    Brown bears roam new woodland attraction

    about 2 months ago

    Bristol’s Bear Wood, home to four European brown bears five wolves, two Eurasian lynx and two wolverines, will open on Thursday (July 25). Visitors will view the animals from a raised wooden walkway at a height of several metres. The 7.5 acre exhibit is part of the multi million pound Wild Place Project, just off junction 17 on the M5, opened in 2013 by the Bristol Zoological Society, which also operates Bristol Zoo. It incorporates a bear viewing den with 180 degree, floor to ceiling windows. Rangers will be on hand to help visitors spot the wildlife, while den cameras and monitors will offer further insights. The aim of the exhibit is to take visitors back into Britain’s ancient woodland with the species that once inhabited it. Similar woods covered the UK thousands of years ago but now only cover some 2% of it. “Ancient woodland is one of the richest habitats for wildlife in the UK, providing a home for hundreds of species of animals and plants,” explained Dr Christoph Schwitzer, chief zoological officer at the Zoological Society. “In order to protect what remains, we need to inspire the next generation about the importance of this unique habitat. We believe that the best way to do this is to immerse people in these woods and show them the amazing diversity that is at stake.”

  • Ramblers story

    Grazing reindeer in Longyearbyen

    On foot across Arctic tundra: new cruise and walk package

    about 2 months ago

    Hikes across the Arctic tundra are part of a new package for next year unveiled by Ramblers Cruise & Walk Holidays. Customers will sail up the Norwegian coast to Spitsbergen Island, in the Svalbard archipelago, 800 miles from the North Pole. There they will walk to the Russian ghost town of Pyramiden – an abandoned coal mining settlement – and to Longyearbyen, in search of grazing reindeer, Arctic foxes and maybe even polar bears. On the Norwegian mainland there will be wilderness hikes around the towns of Honningsvag, Kristiansund and Harsted. And from the final anchorage in Bodo there will be a walk in the Hidden Valley, which Ramblers describes as “a pristine enclave of mountains, glacier carved rock and crystal clear running water”. The 16-night journey to Spitsbergen, in collaboration with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, departs on 25 June and costs from £3099 per person.

  • Delta premium economy

    Delta Premium Economy

    Delta sets launch date for new cabins on UK routes

    2 months ago

    Major US airline Delta has set dates for the introduction of its new, extra legroom premium economy on UK routes. The separate cabins will make their debuts on flights from Heathrow to Atlanta on 13 November, to New York’s JFK airport four days later and to Boston on 21 November. At the same time the airline will introduce its re-vamped Delta One first class and its main cabins. Premium Economy will have 20 seats in a 2×2×2 layout. They will have 13.3in entertainment screens and travellers will be provided with noise cancelling headphones. Wider seats are promised in the back cabin. By next summer the new cabins will be available on flights from Heathrow to Detroit, Minneapolis and Portland (Oregon).

  • Fcalogo

    Watchdog plans help for travellers with medical conditions

    2 months ago

    Just over one in ten (11%) travellers are heading abroad with insurance that doesn’t cover their pre-existing medical conditions, according to the UK’s financial regulator. Consumers who are denied cover, offered policies with such conditions excluded or with high premiums can persuade them it is impossible to get travel insurance, says the Financial Conduct Authority. The Authority has launched a consultation on new plans, which include improving the wording in medical screenings, which are sometimes criticised for failing to account for variations in the risk posed by customers with the same problem but widely differing overall health conditions. To reduce the number of people paying higher than necessary premiums it is also proposing a new ‘signposting’ rule requiring firms, in certain circumstances, “to give consumers details of a directory of travel insurance firms that have the appetite and capability to cover consumers with more serious re-existing conditions”. It is intended that the directory will be developed by the FCA and hosted by the Money and Pensions Service (MAPS). “We are proposing that all consumers with an additional loading to their premium are notified of the directory”. The Authority estimates between 12.6m and 14.1m consumers a year with pre-existing conditions look to buy travel insurance. Only a tiny proportion (07%) are declined. It says it is unable to calculate the number who find more affordable cover by shopping around.

  • Caa 2 min

    Accessibility report: airports must do better

    2 months ago

    Passngers with disabilities or health problems continue to cite examples of poor customer service, long waits and lack of awareness of their needs at UK airports despite the Civil Aviation Authority’s drive to make travelling easier for them. Its latest annual accessibility report shows 14 airports were classified as “very good” – down from 16 in 2017-18 and 16 as good. Manchester raised its performance from “poor” by providing speedier help for arriving passengers, it says, but still “needs improvement”. However, problems with a switch to a new service provider had stalled this progress. “We have told senior management we expect immediate and effective action to reverse this recent decline in performance”. The report covers 31 airports which assisted a total of 3-7m passengers. Those rated “very good” include Glasgow and Edinburgh, Southampton, Doncaster Sheffield and Belfast City. Al London area airports, including Southend, received “good” ratings, along with Belfast International, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands, Inverness, Leeds Bradford, Liverpool and Newcastle. But all the UK’s airports will now face tougher targets, including stricter waiting times and thje number of tiomes equipment is handing over between airport staff so passengers enjoy a more seam free journey.

  • Ponte scaligero.wiki

    Ponte Scaligero, Verona by Jakub Hałun [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

    Manchester to get new budget flights

    2 months ago

    EasyJet is to launch three new routes from Manchester next winter. The budget airline will fly to Verona in Italy, the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Hurghada and Roveneimi in Finnish Lapland. Flights to the Italian city will start on 28 October, operating on Mondays and Fridays. Departures to Hurghada will begin two days later, operating on Wednesdays and Saturdays. And services to Roveneimi will start on 21 November, with departures on Mondays and Thursdays. The airline will also fly twice a week to Tenerife South from Liverpool this winter.

  • Loisaba

    Elewana Loisaba Lodo Springs

    Luxury safari camp opens in Kenya

    2 months ago

    A new luxury safari camp has opened in Kenya. Elewana Loisaba Lodo Springs is set in the Loisaba Conservancy where a black panther mother was filmed this year with her cubs. It also claims one of the country’s most stable lion populations and sites on a vital elephant corridor. The camp is set on an escarpment in northern Kenya, with extensive views. It comprises eight tents with dedicated safari vehicles and drivers. Besides game drives, activities include bush walks and – for experienced riders – horse and camel excursions.

  • La petraia

    Villa La Petraia

    Medici anniversary tour launched

    2 months ago

    A tour to mark five centuries since the birth of the influential Medicis, Catherine and Cosime I, has been launched by Italian holiday specialist Sardatur. Customers will follow their trail, from Pisa to Florence and Rome, and stay in two hotels housed in buildings created for the family. One of the hotels is the villa La Fernanda, on the Artimino Estate in the Tuscan countryside. It was built in 1596 by Fernando I di Medici and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Leonardo da Vinci once spent time there. This other is the Fonteverde Tuscan Resort and Spa, a palace built by the family in the 17th century. The tour includes visits other Medici residences, their tombs in the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence. It ends in Rome, where they will visit the Villa Medici, at the foot of the Spanish Steps. The five night package costs from £2710 per person, with flights, bed and breakfast accommodation, private airport transfers and guided tours, and two lunches with wine tasting.

  • Radisson blu prague

    Radisson Blu Hotel, Prague

    Prague gets new hotel

    2 months ago

    Housed in a 19th century art nouveau building, a hotel in Prague has reopened under the Radisson Blu brand. With panoramic views, taking inf Prague Castle, from its rooftop terrace, the property has 160 rooms. It is between the Czech capital’s Old and New towns, a short distance from Wenceslas Square and within walking distance of the Charles Bridge.

  • Van gogh expertience %28chadi abou sariya%29

    Van Gogh Experience by Chadi Abou Sariya

    Van Gogh paintings brought to life

    2 months ago

    Huge projections of Van Gogh paintings, with digital animation enabling visitors to immerse themselves in the places he depicted, are part of an exhibition just opened in York city centre. Over 200 of his works are featured, with what is described as ‘an emotive soundtrack’. Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is at York St Mary’s on Castlegate until 5 January next year. Visitors are promised they will see the painter’s subjects as though through his eyes in a 35 minute 360 degree presentation. It costs £13 for adults, £11 for concessions and £9 for children. Further information at www.vangoghexpo.co.uk

  • Seabourn cruise submarine

    Seabourn Cruise Submarine

    Submarines for cruise passengers unveiled

    2 months ago

    Travellers on Seabourn Cruises’ two, yet to be launched expedition ships will be able to experience the ocean life and geography at depths down to 300 metres in specially designed submarines. The subs will carry six passengers in clear, acrylic spheres. on either side of the pilot’s station. The three seats in each will be mounted on rotating platforms, designed to allow optimum views. The first of the two expedition ships, Seabourn Venture, is scheduled for launch in June 2021, with planned itineraries including the Arctic and Antarctic. A sister vessel, still to be named, will follow just under a year later. The subs will have LED flood and spotlights and manipulator arms capable of lifting up to 32 kilos. They will be fitted with external and internal video systems, the latter capturing imagery of guests. Footage will be downloaded and projected on big screens during lectures back on the surface. And for those unable to resist raising a glass here will even be champagne chillers on board

  • Easter island %28courtesy hf holidays%29

    Easter Island walking trips

    2 months ago

    Guided walks on Easter Island are part of a new tour for next year launched by long established operator HF Holidays. Customers will explore the treeless, volcanic landscape and see the extraordinary figures called moai, created between the 13th and 16th centuries. The visit is part of a package taking in Chile’s Atacama Desert, with its salt flats and flamingos, and the colourful buildings and cobbled alleys of Valparaiso – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the so called Jewel of the Pacific – which lies about 75 miles northwest of Santiago. The 12 day trip costs from £5399, including flights.

  • Saint  peter's  %28%c2%a9 jebulon via wikimedia commons%29%29

    Rome boutique hotel re-opens

    2 months ago

    Sofitel’s Rome Villa Borghese, a boutique hotel housed in a seven storey 19th century palazzo, has re-opened following a near year long renovation. With 78 rooms and suites, the property is on a quiet street within walking distance of well known sights including the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. From its new rooftop restaurant and lounge, guests will be able to see St. Peter’s Basilica. The re-vamp has also seen the addition of a new fitness centre.

  • Luton airport

    Luton gets new airport lounge

    3 months ago

    Passengers will be able to escape from the holiday crowds at a new lounge opening at Luton Airport. A la carte food, and drinks, will be included in the price of entry. It’s the latest venture from No 1 Lounges, which has already opened at Gatwick’s North and South Terminals, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Heathrow Terminal 3 and 4. Unless their flight ticket gets them access, travellers can book online, with or without a membership card, Or they may turn up on the day and get in if there’s space.

  • Easyjet

    New budget summer flights from Bristol

    3 months ago

    easyJet launches two new summer services from Bristol this week. Starting today and tomorrow (2 and 3 July) respectively – until the end of September – it will operate to Biarritz on the south west cost of France and the Italian Adriatic port of Brindisi. Meanwhile the low cost airline also began operating year round flights this week between Bristol and Milan’s Malpensa airport.