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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Blue Train safari trips re-jigged3 months ago
South Africa’s famous Blue Train is to operate new safari trips next year. The aim is the solve the problem of finding accommodation at Sands or Greater Kruger Lodges for a trainload of 70 – 80 passengers following a one way journey from Pretoria to Hoedspruit. From next year, safari journeys will operate as round trips, leaving Pretoria at 11am and arriving at Kruger National Park at 5am next morning. Guides and vehicles will be be waiting to take travellers on a sunrise game drive followed by a bush breakfast. After lunch there will be another drive, before dinner under the stars at Nkambeni Safari Camp. The train will depart for the capital again at 10pm. Prices start at around £2050 depending on the exchange rate. Initially only two 2020 departures are planned – on 18 June and 30 July.
Stratford upon Avon - nearby hotel opens4 months ago
Visitors to Stratford upon Avon have a new place to stay. The Baraset Barn Hotel is only three miles away in the Warwickshire village of Alveston, once home to J.B. Priestley. A barn conversion, as the name suggests, it has been developed alongside it’s owner’s previously existing restaurant. The property has 16 rooms with floor to ceiling windows, wi fi, and prices starting at £100 a night.
Saga ship heads for Greenland4 months ago
Greenland seems to be the flavour of the season. Saga has now announced a cruise there next year from Dover. The Spirit of Discovery will visit the capital, Nuk, Ummannaq, and the small settlement of Kangilnnguit, founded by the US Navy to protect an important mineral quarry. The ship will also cruise through Prince Christian Sound, Eternity Fjord and Disko Bay, home to bowhead, humpback, pilot and killer whales, and the narwhal. Dr Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre, is scheduled to speak. There will also be speakers on Inuit culture and history. The 21 night cruise, which includes en route calls in Dublin and Reykjavik, departs on 21 June and costs from £5671 per person.
Manchester gets new Channel Islands flights4 months ago
Low cost airline easyJet is to launch new year round flights between Manchester and Jersey. From 1 July it will operate two rounds trips a week using an Airbus A320 aircraft. The airline has also announced its flights between Bristol and Lyon which have largely served the ski market, will now operate in summer. Also starting on 1 July, they will depart on Mondays and Fridays until the end of September.
Lighthouse museum to open4 months ago
A new maritime museum in a lighthouse was set to open in Formentera this month. The La Mole lighthouse opened to the public in February. Now a permanent exhibition was expected to open there telling the story of the Balearic island’s relationship with the sea, associated migratory movements and the fishing industry. The building will also house temporary exhibitions and cultural events such as concerts and poetry recitals. And the island was also expected to get its first five star hotel in May. The Five Flowers Hotel will be a short walk from the beach at Es Pujols. It will have a spa, gym, free wi fi and a view from its glass walled Jacuzzi described as one of the best in Formentera
High Atlas climb on new short break4 months ago
A long weekend hiking up Morocco’s Mount Toukbal has been launched for next year by Ramblers Walking Holidays. The trek starts before dawn, which breaks as you approach the peak. Though the operator describes the route as ‘challenging’ and it includes stretches of scree it Is mostly on mule paths and does not demand technical skills. However, you might be provided with crampons in winter. But you will need to cope with reduced oxygen levels towards the summit which, at 4167 metres, is North Africa’s highest. And you must be prepared for 8 -9 hours on the hike. Prices of the four night trip start at £749. That covers return British Airways flights from Gatwick, guiding, accommodation including two nights in Marrakech and transfers.
New flights from East Midlands Airport announced4 months ago
Scottish regional airline Loganair is to start passenger services from East Midlands Airport, with flights to Brussels and Inverness. From 2 September it will operate two round trips to the Belgian capital from Monday to Thursday, with one afternoon service on Fridays and Sundays. It will fly six times a week to Inverness, where passengers will be able to connect with the airline’s flights to Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles. The Brussels route was previously served by now defunct Flybmi. Loganair already operates freight services from the airport.
Airport trials app to aid passengers with sight problems4 months ago
Gatwick has followed Heathrow by testing a smart phone app that provides round the clock help for passengers with sight. The Aira app connects trained agents with the phone’s camera as the traveller uses its video function. This enable them to guide blind and visually impaired travellers through the airport, help them find boarding gates, for example, read documents of flight information, shop, or even find their luggage on the carousel. The free service undergoing a six month trial.
London Hard Rock hotel opens4 months ago
The first Hard Rock hotel in the UK was scheduled to open today, in a building once a haunt of Jimi Hendrix. With 900 rooms and suites it will be one of the biggest hotels in the capital. Emerging from the transformation of the former Cumberland Hotel at Marble Arch it will incorporate a 370 seat Hard Rock Cafe and a ‘Rock Shop’ selling related merchandise. Memorabilia displays will celebrate other stars who frequented the old hotel, among them Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Bob Dylan. Guests will be able to order Fender guitars from their rooms and work on their skills using in-room tutorials.
New transatlantic premium economy takes off4 months ago
United Airlines is the latest airline to launch a Transatlantic premium economy service from London. The service will make its westbound debut tomorrow aboard Boeing 777-300ER from Heathrow to San Francisco. Called Premium Plus, it comes with increased legroom as part of generally more spacious seats that recline further, upgraded meals – served on china – bigger seatback entertainment screens and noise cancelling headphones. The airline says “the odd flight” has already operated from Heathrow with the new seats on the Heathrow route. But the service, which is now available daily on some departures to San Francisco. hasn’t been bookable on flights departing before this week. Other advantages over normal economy include special check in access and priority boarding. This comes at a premium price, of course. Lead in return fares with one checked bag in normal economy start at £1,607.72 compared with £424.72 in normal economy. Premium Plus will be extended to other UK routes later.
Sri Lanka: holiday travel ban4 months ago
Britons with holidays planned in Sri Lanka have been plunged into confusion following the Government’s decision to ban all but essential travel there. Tour operators have begun scrambling to arrange alternatives for customers, though at the time of writing they had no idea how long the ban would last. Besides switching to other destinations, travellers will now have the option of postponing trips or receving full refunds. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We will keep this decision under close and constant review. My first priority will always be the security of British citizens living and travelling abroad. In its revised advice to travellers the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.” Though the extent of any further threat was unclear, security had been stepped up across the island. “A State of Emergency and night-time curfew remain in place. The Sri Lankan authorities have made a number of arrests in relation to the attacks, and security operations are ongoing, including controlled explosions of suspicious packages and vehicles, and temporary evacuations of buildings.”
Hotel where young Victoria stayed to get facelift4 months ago
Llangollen’s Royal Hotel, which once played host to Princess – later Queen – Victoria, is to close next January for a major upgrade. The plan is re-open it later as a luxury property with a spa and, subject to planning permission, a rooftop terrace with 360 degree views of the glorious countryside surrounding the North Wales town. The hotel has been bought by a local hospitality group which has already revived the local Three Eagles Restaurant and turned nearby Tyn Dwr Hall into a luxury wedding venue. The group has joined forces with a Wrexham businessman to create what owner Matt Wells sees as “a destination hotel” adding a new touch of quality to the town’s accommodation options. The Royal, which stands on a bank of the River Dee, is perhaps Llangollen’s most recognisable building. Under its former name, the King’s Head, it was listed in a 1752 commercial directory. The young Victoria stayed there with her mother, the Duchess of Kent and Strathearn, in 1832.
Opening date set for Lakes airport4 months ago
Carlisle Lake District Airport will welcome its first scheduled passengers for 25 years when it opens on 4 July. After an eleven month delay Scottish Airline Loganair will launch flights between the airport and Southend, Belfast City and Dublin. It will operate four times a week to and from Southend and five on the Irish routes. Besides serving the Lakes, the airport will provide a gateway to south west Scotland and the Pennines.
Warning on illegal holiday booking small print4 months ago
Beware the booking conditions set by travel firms based outside the EU. Their small print may be may be illegal. That was the warning from Noel Josephides, on behalf of AITO (The Specialist Travel Association). The warning came as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urged UK holiday and travel businesses to ensure their terms and conditions were fair and that they were “up front and clear” with travellers about charges, especially when customers cancel. Mr Josephides is a director of AITO and chairman of ABTA. Both are among the trade bodies partnering with the CMA in its campaign. He said there were “far too many companies attempting to market illegally to UK consumers from outside the EU and we must fight back”. Many of these firms had clauses in their small print absolving them of any responsibility for the behaviour of their suppliers, such as coach transfer operators. The CMA was particularly concerned about legally unfair terms that allowed operators to retain large deposits or impose cancellation fees that far exceeded the cost of a cancellation to them.
Isle of Man gets direct Heathrow link4 months ago
Direct flights between Heathrow and the Isle of Man have taken off for the first time in 17 years. Regional airline Flybe has launched daily services using 78 seat Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft. The move follows the re-opening of Flybe’s base on the island. Southbound flights depart at 1.50pm, arriving at 3.10pm. Northbound services leave at 5.05pm, arriving at 6.25pm. The airline’s summer schedule also includes flights linking the Isle of Man with Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.
Kubrick exhibition to open4 months ago
Film buffs will know that a disused gasworks in London’s Docklands became the shattered Vietnamese city of Hue for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. On Sunday 28 April an exhibition celebrating the celebrated American director’s work opens at the capital’s Design Museum. It will delve into his creative process through objects, projections and interviews and explore his relationship with Britain. He spent much of his life here and used locations including a Wandsworth underpass in A Clockwork Orange, for example, and a whole range of other UK backdrops, among them Blenheim Palace and Petworth House, in the ravishing 18th century adventure Barry Lyndon. Dr Strangelove was shot at Shepperton and scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey were filmed there and at the former Borehamwood Studios.
Wine pageant to be staged for first time in two decades4 months ago
The Fête des Vignerons, a spectacular theatrical celebration of wine last performed 20 years ago, will be staged in the Swiss town of Vevey this summer. With its origins in the Middle Ages and with a cast of local actors and musicians, the pageant will take place in a temporary arena on Lake Geneva with seating for 20,000. At the end of the 18th century, what had begun as a parade became an official ceremony to reward the best growers and labourers. On two occasions the score was composed by Gustave Doret. The event’s organisers are the Confrérie des Vignerons (Brotherhood of Winegrowers). They decide how often it takes place, but it is not more than five times in a century. Away from the show, Vevey’s streets will be full of live music, food stalls and open wine cellars, with particular emphasis on the local Chasselas wine. The event runs from 18 July until 11 August.
Remote tropical escape hotel opens4 months ago
A new hotel has opened on little known Sumba Island in the Indonesian archipelago. The Lelewatu Resort Sumba stands on a cliff, overlooking a private lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Its 27 villas, set in ten hectares of land with jungle beyond, have wooden interiors designed in local style, hand woven ikat fabrics, marble baths and private pools. There are nine beaches close to the property, which has two restaurants, a spa, and activities on offer include yoga, horse riding and hiking. The island is about a one hour flight east of Bali. Reservations may be made through Preferred Hotels and Resorts. Prices per villa start at £710 per night – including breakfast, lunch, dinner and a complimentary minibar.
Website describes Vilnius walks4 months ago
Vilnius Details of 23 walking routes in and around the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, have been posted online by the city’s development agency. Designed for independent travellers, they range from explorations of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its Baroque architecture, to a hike along the banks of the River Neris. Walkable Vilnius provides descriptions of sights along the way and allows users to filter routes by time, from 1hr to 4hrs plus. And for those wedded to their Fitbits and other fitness devices, it even includes the number of steps you can expect to make on each walk.
German walking routes4 months ago
A 22 kilometre hiking route taking in seven modest summits has been officially re-opened in the northern Black Forest. The 7-Berge-Weg is one of ten new walks, ranging from three to 25kms, recently certified by the German Ramblers Association. Best walked between April and October its altitude range from 394m to 583m. It starts in the village of Nagold, northeast of Stuttgart. Among the other walks is the 25km circular Niesetalweg in eastern Wesphalia, which starts at Marienmunster Abbey and the Rundweg Bussard (Buzzard), an 8km regional foodie route in the Bavarian Forest National Park.