Wednesday, 30 September 2015

United's NY route from Newcastle to return next summer

SUMMER seasonal United Airlines’ flight between Newcastle and #NewYork will return next summer. The carrier is to run six flights a week to Newark Liberty airport between May 26 and September 6. 

United’s UK and Ireland managing director sales, Bob Schumacher, said: ‘As the first airline to offer a scheduled non-stop service to the US from North-East England, we are excited to return to Newcastle next year. Our flights offer business and leisure travellers not only convenient access to New York but also connections to hundreds of other destinations across the Americas.’

Newcastle airport chief executive, David Laws, added: ‘As well as connecting the region to New York, United’s Newark hub provides access to a huge range of key cities, including Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orlando in the United States, and Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver in Canada.’


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34639903@N03/3439647651">Signs of Times Square in HDR</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)

Outdoor shows in Blackpool’s LightPool extravaganza

BLACKPOOL’S ‘Brilliance’ arches will play host to a month of outdoor performances and live music throughout October as part of Blackpool Illuminations’ LightPool programme. The arches, based on Birley Street in the town centre, become the centrepiece of 11 different shows over five weekends during the month.  
Throughout October, every Friday and Saturday evening will see a different performance taking place underneath the arches. An outdoor dance performance on bikes, Strictly Night Cycling, will start the events on October 2 and 3.

On October 8, poets will read their literary works out over the arches’ speaker system, as part of National Poetry Day. Aerial acrobatics will returns to #Blackpool on October 9 and 10, with the Wired Aerial Theatre group.

Circus acts and street artists will perform on October 16 and 17, and illuminated umbrella parades will lead people from the Promenade in to Birley Street on October 23 and 24.

The festival of acts will finish with two live music sessions on October 30 and 31.

All of the events will be #free.

Artistic Director of LeftCoast, Michael Trainor, said: ‘What we’re doing is bringing the Illuminations to life, giving people something that is live and happening all around them. We’ve managed to attract some exciting and talented artists to take part – but let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to star in #BlackpoolIlluminations.’

www.visitblackpool.com/lightpool
www.visitblackpool.com/illuminations


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Picture Credit: www.visitblackpool.com

Jordan hopes to attract Brits with six-month campaign ‘There is nothing to worry about in Jordan’ – Tourism chief

JORDAN’S tourist board is planning a six-month campaign intended to combat what it believes are ‘misconceptions’ about the destination and to attract Brits to the country. 

The board is investing a six-figure sum in the campaign, which will run major UK cities including London and Manchester. 
More than 40 taxis branded with Jordan's campaign messages will be on London’s streets, as well as 100 buses, digital panels and LCD screens in underground and train stations. 

Much of the campaign will be linked to Hollywood movie #TheMartian, which was filmed in Wadi Rum in #Jordan.

Adel Amin, director of marketing at the tourist board, said the campaign aimed to highlight the differences between Jordan and other nations. He said problems in Syria and Egypt had caused a negative effect, with tourism numbers slipping.

Amin said the campaign would ‘destroy any misconceptions’ people had about Jordan. ‘They will show the variety of holiday types available in Jordan and that it's business as usual … there is nothing to worry about in Jordan,’ he said.

The UK is Jordan's biggest source market in Europe and second biggest worldwide after the US.

Mr Amin added: ‘The campaign is designed to show Brits what the country has to offer, and inspire them to visit, as well as extend support to you, our trade partners. The campaign will highlight areas such as Petra, The Dead Sea, Wadi Rum and Aqaba. Our objective was to create desire and intrigue through a combination of thought-provoking headlines and stunning visuals.

‘With so many beautiful locations, we decided to create separate creative treatments, enabling us to really do justice to each stunning location within Jordan.’


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Picture Credit: Jordan tourist board

Alton Towers coaster crash hits Merlin’s revenues and visitor numbers

THE owner of Alton Towers has reported an 11.4% slump in revenues at its theme parks over the summer following the June rollercoaster tragedy. Merlin Entertainments said numbers visiting Alton Towers were ‘significantly reduced’ after the accident on June 2. Other UK parks were also affected. 

‘As anticipated, this has continued over the summer peak season, exacerbated by relatively poor weather in the UK in August, resulting in like-for-like revenues in the Resort Theme Parks operating group declining by 11.4% year on year,’ the company said in a trading update for the 36 weeks to September 5.
The group’s other divisions performed better, with Legoland Parks revenue growing by 6.7% and its Midway Attractions by 2.6%.

Chief executive Nick Varney, said: ‘The performance of our Legoland Parks operating group has remained strong, with very positive guest satisfaction. However, this has been offset by the impact of reduced visitation across the Resort Theme Parks operating group, primarily at Alton Towers Resort, and euro weakness impacting visitation at our London attractions.’


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Picture Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/84806883@N00/10598723563">SAM_1783</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Castle views

MENAI HOLIDAY COTTAGES has added five luxury apartments in historic Harlech, #North Wales, to its portfolio. The accommodation has been developed at the site of a former hotel close to Harlech Castle’s 13th century twin-towered gatehouse. 

The one-bedroom apartments have windows allowing views of Edward I's medieval masterpiece, and Snowdonia's mountains and coast.  One of the apartments is fully-wheelchair accessible, complete with wet-room bathroom.

Guests at the #HarlechCastle apartments will be entitled to a three-day complimentary Explorer Pass, giving them access to some of Wales's most popular heritage sites. 

www.menaiholidays.co.uk




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Picture Credit: www.menaiholidays.co.uk, http://www.flickr.com/photos/28792061@N05/10577752764">Snowdonia mountain railway</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)

We’ve all been on a summer holiday!

HOTEL BOOKERS LateRooms.com has looked at how #Britain has holidayed at home and abroad this year – from city breaks to exploring some of the UK’s lesser-visited coastal and rural spots, as well as favourite European destinations. 

Brits are sticking to old habits when taking #UKcitybreaks. London, Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh sit pretty on top of a 10 strong list of destinations that has remained virtually static for the last five years.
Of these top ten most popular UK destinations this July and August, six are northern towns or cities, with summer events such as the Edinburgh Fringe and Manchester Pride being the big attractions.

Larger coastal resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton, and Bournemouth have continued to enjoy a rise in visitor numbers. Blackpool, in particular, has been part of a retro revival that has seen other traditional resorts including Southend-on-Sea, Margate, and Skegness also witness a boom in bookings.

Old favourite Weston-super-Mare has returned to rude health following the fire that wrecked the Grand Pier’s pavilion in 2008, jumping 13 places since 2011 to the UK’s 10th most popular overnight coastal resort. With visitors expected to have ploughed an extra £7 million into the local economy this past summer alone, hoteliers have seen booking numbers jump as many look to visit Banksy’s acclaimed Dismaland exhibition on the sea-front.


But for every classic comeback there has been an up-and-coming seaside resort making waves: amongst some of the coastal villages that boomed this summer were Burry Port in Carmarthenshire, Anstruther on Scotland’s Fife coast, Anglesey’s Treaddur Bay, and South Hayling in Hampshire. 

And away from the coast, a number of smaller towns and villages have seen spikes in booking as exploratory Brits opt for lesser-known destinations on an increasing basis.  Amongst them, Castle Cary in Somerset saw bookings up 126% this summer compared to last year. Cumbria’s Cartmel on the outskirts of the Lake District proved another popular bolt hole with visitors. Shipston-on-Stour, one of the Cotswolds’ lesser-known towns, saw bookings go up by 95% and Cheshire’s footballer-friendly Alderley Edge saw a 58% increase in bookings through the LateRooms.com site since last year.

Andrea Tarpey, spokesperson for LateRooms.com said: ‘What a summer it’s been … despite the indifferent weather people have been travelling the length and breadth of the UK to enjoy some of the gems we have on offer here.’

The most popular #Europeandestination this summer was Amsterdam, with Paris, Rome, and Barcelona proving favourites once again.

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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34876760@N08/3232896282">Piper</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license), http://www.flickr.com/photos/67196253@N00/128526737">Amsterdam</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license), David Kernick

Home in on the Algarve


OPENING in July next year at the Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve, #Portugal, will be 76 two- and three-bedroom luxury apartments for purchase and holiday lets.

Overlooking #Albufeira, the development features an Italian restaurant, a spa, a boutique shopping mall, and secure underground parking. Guests staying in the apartments will have access to Pine Cliffs Resort’s leisure and sports facilities, including the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy, a nine-hole clifftop golf course, swimming pools, gym, and restaurants and bars.

Managed by Starwood Hotels’ Luxury Collection brand, Pine Cliffs has a wide range of accommodation and investment opportunities, including freehold properties and holiday ownership options.

www.pinecliffsoceansuites.com/en


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Ski school on the Scottish slopes 

NATURAL RETREATS #CAIRNGORM MOUNTAIN is starting its own in-house snow school for the 2015/2016 #skiseason. By bringing the ski school in-house, booking lessons will be integrated with on-site ski hire and ticketing systems. 

Other changes have been implemented for the season, including: new fencing to catch more snow; a beginner’s ski-tow; mechanical reliability improvements to many of the existing ski-tows; and a ‘grab-and-go’ Storehouse Express for snacks on the slopes. 

Early Bird season passes cost £315 for adults and £76 for 6-16-year-olds.

One day of lessons at the ski school, including ski pass and ski hire, costs £99 for adults, £75 for children and seniors, and £57 for under 5’s.

www.cairngormmountain.org


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Monday, 28 September 2015

Stargaze on Sark

THE Dark Sky Island of #Sark is to open its first #observatory on October 10.  
The small Channel Island was designated as the world's first Dark Sky Island in 2011 by the International Dark-Sky Association and is now only one of two in the world. The award was in recognition of the exceptional blackness of the night sky which makes for spectacular stargazing on the island. The opening of the observatory aims to facilitate astro-tourism on Sark, and make it tangible for first timers as well as experienced stargazers.   

Sark's dark skies can be attributed to its isolated location in the English Channel, its complete lack of public street lighting (and very few outdoor lights on buildings), and low pollution levels. Motorized vehicles, with the exception of a few tractors, are banned on the island.

The observatory will be located in the middle of the island, which is the darkest area, and will be a two-room structure with a sliding roof. One room will house the telescope and the other will be a 'warm room' with a screen linked to the telescope.

The observatory will be opened on October 10 by Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at Greenwich Royal Observatory.

The opening of the observatory will tie in with a Sark Trek weekend (October 9-11) designed to make the most of the island's night skies. Hosted by two astronomers, it will involve 14 hours of learning and stargazing activities.

www.sastros.sark.gg
www.sark.co.uk


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The other side of Tuscany




TRAME DI LUNIGIANA, a non-profit making platform for booking #tours and cultural experiences in Tuscany's north-western Lunigiana region, has launched in the UK, enabling first time visitors to sign up for off-the-beaten track experiences through one central website.

Lunigiana is a less well known region in #Tuscany, stretching from the coastal town of Lerici to the Renaissance village of Fivizzano in the Apennine Mountains. The mountain scenery, more than 100 medieval castles, and the 12-mile coastline can now be explored by visitors with ease.

Central to the platform are experiences that enable guests to take in the highlights of the region on horseback, by foot, cycle, or Vespa tour. These can all be booked directly on the website.

www.tramedilunigiana.it/en


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Just the spot for a picnic

THE Rough Guide to Accessible Britain has highlighted recommended parks for summer and autumn picnics on its Family #DaysOut website.

It features reviews of accessible picnic-worthy green spaces around the country, including the Family Fun Zone in Carnfunnock Country Park, which has a walled garden and a maze designed in the shape of Northern Ireland.

The Rough Guide to #AccessibleBritain and the Family Days Out website have been developed in association with Motability Operations, the company that operates the Motability Car Scheme for disabled people. The website also has a Days Out blog, written by #disability experts, tourism professionals, and Rough Guide to Accessible Britain fans.
www.accessibleguide.co.uk/familydaysout

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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28040596@N08/2623926019">4th of July Picnic</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)

Holiday booking trends revealed





#HOLIDAY company Sykes Cottages has published the results of a UK study of #bookingtrends, which found that the majority of holidaymakers book more than one UK break a year, 34% book two, 22% book three, and 20% book four or more.

The research found that most people tend to book early for longer breaks (five nights or more). One in five people book three months in advance; more than a third book six months or more ahead; and half of solo travellers book their UK breaks three months ahead.

Miles Hill, chief executive of Sykes Cottages, said: ‘As disposable incomes rise, we will see more frequent holidays, with more short breaks outside of the main holiday periods. Customers are becoming more comfortable booking and paying for holidays online, and are increasingly using mobile devices to do so as 4G coverage becomes more widespread.’

The money holidaymakers are prepared to spend on accommodation remains consistent and decisive across the board. Eighty percent of holidaymakers would expect to pay between £250 and £749 for their accommodation, suggesting that domestic holidaymakers have a clear idea of what they are prepared to pay, and that value for money remains pivotal.

The results also named most visited counties in the UK: Yorkshire; Cumbria;
Cornwall; Devon; and Northumberland.


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Sunday, 27 September 2015

easyJet launches emergency fund for Syrian refugees

AN EMERGENCY collection to support UNICEF’s work for refugee and migrant children affected by the emergency in Syria and neighbouring regions has been started by easyJet.

Passengers on easyJet flights can donate on board, in any currency, to help the UN agency provide supplies such as clean water and medicine for children in Syria and the surrounding region.

The airline has given £10,000 to start the collection.


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See Lisbon from the river

THINKING about a break in #Lisbon? The River Tagus, says the city’s #tourism office, gives visitors the opportunity to see a different side of #Portugal’s capital. 

Amphibious tours promise a fun experience, especially when stepping from land into the water – on the same vehicle. The 90-minute tours plunge into the river for visitors to see monuments such as the Belém Tower (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, among many others, from the ‘other side’. www.hippotrip.com

A colony of bottlenose dolphins made the Sado Estuary Nature Reserve their permanent home a few years ago. Visitors can spot up to 30 dolphins, which live in the warm waters of the estuary and its adjacent coastline, the coast of Tróia and Arrábida. Dolphin watching tours depart daily from these two locations, which are easily linked to the Portuguese capital via public transport. www.vertigemazul.com /www.sadoarrabida.pt

Visitors to Lisbon can put their sailing skills to the test by taking a sailing lesson in the river’s calm waters. No previous experience is needed, as a team of sailors will teach essential sailing terms and manoeuvres, including hoisting the sails, tacking and docking the boat. www.lisbonbyboat.com /www.palmayachts.pt /www.lisbonbysail.com.pt


Adrenaline lovers looking to see Lisbon's landmarks at full speed can board one of the speed boats which race across the Lisbon coast. A raincoat is highly recommended! www.lisbonbyboat.com / www.veltagus.com

Birthdays, anniversaries, family re-unions, christenings and weddings can be more memorable if celebrated while sailing along the river. On board a schooner and with beautiful views of Lisbon, visitors can enjoy special occasions with an on-board catering service and music.  www.leaoholandes.com /www.lisbonbysail.com / www.lisbonbyboat.com / www.vertigemazul.com /www.seaventy.pt   

A traditional sightseeing tour along the river is recommended to see the very best of Lisbon with no traffic involved, from Praça do Comercio and Cais do Sodré to the Christ the King Statue and Parque das Nações, characterized by its futuristic buildings. There are also dinner cruises, day-long as well as longer options for visitors who wish to explore not only the Portuguese capital but also places further afield. www.transtejo.pt / www.lisbonbyboat.com / www.dreamboats.com /www.taguscruises.com /www.sailingwithnigel.com  

Direct flights to Lisbon operate from London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Bristol with TAP Portugal, British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair.

www.visitlisboa.com



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Picture Credit: Panoramic view - Lisboa by Filipe Rocha,user:sacavem (pt) , Sacavem1 11:49, 16 November 2007 (UTC) - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Climbers tackle the chalkface


THE world’s best ice climbers will take on the challenge of ascending sheer cliffs of chalk – one of the most difficult surfaces to climb – when the second #RedBullWhiteCliffs competition returns to The Needles, #Isle of Wight (October 2-4).

Overlooking the iconic Needles, the 377ft overhanging cliff at Scratchell’s Bay will push the climbers to their limits, testing their skills ahead of the winter climbing season.

The UK is the only country where chalk cliffs can be climbed, and the unique competition format and environment will challenge the climbers’ stamina, endurance, and skill.


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Picture Credit: Isleofwight

The world in a book

NEW from The Lonely Planet publishing people is the Kids Travel Book, which covers every country on the planet with facts on sports, wildlife, how people live, food, and quirky insight, plus high calibre photographs and illustrations. 

UK £14.99/AUD $29.99/ USD $20.00

www.lonelyplanet.com/kids/books


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Saturday, 26 September 2015

Advance fares offer from Heathrow Express

HEATHROW EXPRESS has introduced a £6.99 single fare for bookings made between three and six months in advance.

The bargain ticket comes in as part of a new range of advanced purchase ticket fares, which can now be booked 24 weeks in advance – double the current booking period.

The ticket pricing structure starts with a 25% saving off the Express Saver and Business First fares for tickets booked up to seven days in advance, and then steps up to 50% off for bookings made up to 30 days in advance, and 66% for tickets booked for between 90 days and six months before travel.

#HeathrowExpress is the fastest route from central London to the airport; its non-stop service between Paddington station and Heathrow takes 15 minutes.

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Peak attractions




JUNGFRAU RAILWAYS in #Switzerland has created three summit attractions on its adventure mountain above Grindelwald and facing the Eiger – a suspension bridge, a cliff walkway, and an observation platform.

Known as the First Cliff Walk by Tissot (the Swiss watch brand), the circular summit trail features a 130ft single-rope suspension bridge built alongside the steep rock face on the western side of the summit.

Open without restriction throughout the year to walkers and hikers, it enables the geologically interesting, stratified cliff face to be seen up close, and makes risk-free vistas across the Alpine pastures and waterfalls below possible. A winding staircase takes visitors up to a sun terrace and an observation platform that seemingly puts the mountainscape with its 13,000ft-high peaks within palpable reach.

The Swatch Group is supporting the attraction with its Tissot watch brand.

www.jungfrau.ch


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Picture Credit: www.jungfrau.ch

Lagoon luxury

GILI LANKANFUSHI, named the Best Hotel in the World by TripAdvisor in the Traveller's Choice Awards 2015, has upgraded its Private Reserve – the world’s largest overwater villa – with the addition of a freshwater swimming pool, a library, and a study. 

Standing alone in lagoon, 540 yards from the #Maldives resort and accessible from the hotel only by boat, the three-bedroom villa guarantees maximum #luxury, privacy and seclusion.

It also has a spa with sauna and steam room, a cinema, a water slide from the top deck into the lagoon, a personal chef, and a wine cellar and bar.

The Private Reserve re-opens on November 15, when rental rates per night will range from US$11,000 to $23,630 (£7,100-£15,300) plus local government taxes … so start saving – very seriously – now!

www.gili-lankanfushi.com


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National Express: free tickets for disadvantaged families

NATIONAL EXPRESS is turning the wheels on a new charity partnership to help families across the UK. It has teamed up with the Family Holiday Association (FHA) to give hundreds of coach tickets to families that cannot afford a break. 

Commenting on the initiative, National Express UK Coach managing director Tom Stables said: ‘National Express is committed to supporting local communities and building strong families is a building block in that process.

‘That is why we have joined forces with the FHA to give families who can’t normally afford to do so the chance to take a break, relax, bond, and build happy memories.’

FHA director John McDonald said: ‘We are delighted to have teamed up with National Express and be able to help more families access an often vital break away from home. We know through our work, backed by extensive academic research, that spending quality together as a family results in stronger, healthier, and happier families and communities.’


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94418464@N08/9301493506">The National Express logo.</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)

Friday, 25 September 2015

Italian villa specialist to close

ITALIAN villa specialist Cottages to Castles is to close due to ‘increasingly difficult trading conditions’. The company, which has sold villa and apartment rentals in #Italy for more than 30 years, will close for business on September 30. 

In a statement, director Claudio Magoni said: ‘This is due to the increasingly difficult trading conditions we have experienced in recent years.’

The operator moved to re-assure agents with clients travelling this year that holidays would not be affected by the closure.


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Myths & legends at Birdland


VISITORS will be able to let their imagination loose at #BirdlandPark, Bourton-on-the-Water, during the October half term holidays with a #Halloween themed Myths & Legends week (October 24-November 1) and the Jurassic Journey Trail.

There will be talks which will explain why owls are thought to be wise, where the legend of the phoenix came from, and why the Roman believed the call of a certain bird meant imminent death … plus quiz trails, close encounter sessions, and feeding displays.

On the Jurassic Journey Trail, explorers will be armed with dinosaur tracker kits for a roam across a land that was home to more than 30 different dinosaurs.

Birdland – in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire – opens daily from 10am.


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Picture Credit: www.birdland.co.uk

Light relief . . . .


It's the weekend . . . which means . . .  take-away!



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Island escape


THERE’S
more to Spain’s Canary Islands than Tenerife and Lanzarote. Described as a boutique isle – at 142 square miles, it’s the second-smallest in the Canaries chain – #LaGomera has black sand beaches, bars, and shops, but it also majors on peace and quiet, plus hiking, diving, snorkelling, whale- and dolphin-watching, biking, and craft activities such as pottery and weaving.

An almost circular island, it has a large national park, plus 16 protected natural areas including volcanic mountains criss-crossed with hiking trails, and forests. Accommodation choices include hotels, apartments, and farmhouses.

It could be just the spot for a stress-free, out-of-season break.

Getting there: Flights from the UK to Tenerife South, from where visitors take a 50-minute ferry ride to the island. Alternatively, fly to Tenerife North, and get a 30-minute connecting flight.

www.lagomera.travel/canary-islands/la-gomera/en


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Picture Credit: www.lagomera.travel

Westjet to launch Canada services from Gatwick

LOW-COST carrier Westjet is to serve multiple destinations in #Canada with the launch of services from Gatwick next spring. The airline confirmed non-stop flights to six cities in Canada including the only direct connection between London and Winnipeg. The airline will also serve Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and St John’s. 

As many as four flights a day have been scheduled across the new transatlantic network as the Canadian leisure carrier makes its debut in Gatwick.
Introductory fares from Canada lead in at C$249 (£122) one-way from Toronto to Gatwick with flights starting on May 6, 2016. UK fare levels have yet to be announced.  
The airline’s executive vice president, commercial, Bob Cummings, said: ‘Canadians have been paying far too much to fly to Europe for far too long and today, as we have throughout our history, we're going to fix that.

‘With the addition of our 767 aircraft, we will now bring our low fares and fun, friendly, people-driven service to England, where we know many Canadians have relatives. This new service will also help to connect family and friends on both sides of the Atlantic.’


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34128007@N04/8203518806">Rainbow Bridge</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Take a dip on Aruba


#ARUBA is making a splash with its natural pool voted among the world's best. 

In a global TripAdvisor poll, the island’s conchi – the local word in the Dutch Caribbean island for its shell-shaped natural pool – was voted one of the 12 best locations in the world for #naturalswimming.

The pool is at the base of shore cliffs within the #ArikokNationalPark. Visitors reach it by crossing rocky ravines on foot or horseback.

www.aruba.com


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Surge in demand for long-haul currencies

THE surge in the value of sterling this year has fueled demand from travellers for #currency for long-haul destinations, notably New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, according to Post Office #TravelMoney. 

The New Zealand dollar saw year-on-year sales growth of 56% in the June to August quarter, just at a time when the currency had weakened by more than 20% against the pound. The same applied to the Australian dollar, which also weakened by a similar amount in recent months, with sales up by 39%.

The weak Japanese yen resulted in a 52% increase in summer sales of the currency, coinciding with a 34% year-on-year rise in visitors reported by the country’s tourist office in July.

The Costa Rican colon tops the list of the Post Office fastest-growing currencies for 2015 to date with sales growth of 46% year-on-year ahead of Thomson launching Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights to the country this winter.

Currency sales rose by almost a third for the Indonesian rupiah, suggesting a buoyant time ahead for its most popular resort, Bali. Dubai has gained further ground against Middle East competitor Egypt, and sales of its currency, the UAE dirham, have strengthened by 22%.

Closer to home, city break destinations such as the Czech Republic and Hungary also appear to have attracted more visitors.

Turkey suffered another disappointing summer. The lira has now fallen to its lowest rate against sterling in over a decade, which means UK tourists visiting Turkey can expect to get more than 30% more local currency for their pounds than a year ago.

Andrew Brown, of Post Office Travel Money, said: ‘The surge in sales we have seen for the Australian and New Zealand dollars is a clear indication holidaymakers are becoming increasingly astute and doing their homework to see when exchange rates are in their favour. These may not be the cheapest places to visit, but they are among the world’s most aspirational destinations and the power of the pound provides a great incentive to make this the year to visit.

‘Over the past five years, sterling has strengthened by almost 50% against the Japanese yen, and the extra cash in tourists’ pockets means that Japan should no longer be regarded only as a luxury destination. Better still, our latest barometer research reveals that local prices in Tokyo are down 25%.

‘The Russian ruble has collapsed in value this year and is currently worth around 70% less than last September, so Moscow and St. Petersburg could also prove popular with adventurous holidaymakers.’


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/21313845@N04/2397388906">Tons of money</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)

Spring has sprung in New Zealand

WANT to say goodbye to autumn – or fall – up here in the northern half of the planet? #NewZealand is saying hello to spring. Tourism NZ flags up some of the best the country has to offer: 

Okarito – On the west coast of the South Island, Okarito is a remote region with shallow, open lagoons and tidal flats waiting to be explored. It is surrounded by rainforests and overlooks snowcapped mountains. It is the best time to spot one of the 70 bird species in the region, including the Kotuku, a bird sacred to Maori people.

Hamilton – On the banks of the Waikato River, Hamilton is known for scenic diversity. The region offers options for visitors keen on walking, hiking, cycling, and casual strolls. For Hobbit fans, head to the live film set of Hobbiton, where queues are a quarter of the size found in the busy summer season.

Golden Bay – The journey to Golden Bay is as picturesque as the destination itself. Visitors enjoy driving the quiet roads of Takaka Hill, known as Marble Mountain before reaching the sand dune formations and Te Waikoropupu Springs of Golden Bay. 

 Best spring activities

Whale watching in Kaikoura – Kaikoura is the whale watching capital of New Zealand, offering guests the chance to get up close and personal with sea life. As well as whales, guests will encounter fur seals, pods of dusky dolphins, and the endangered wandering albatross. At the beginning of spring when the air is cooler, humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales are frequent visitors. For those travelling towards the end of spring, October is the best time to spot the orca, the world’s largest dolphin.

Tour of Milford Road – The road journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic experiences in the country, hitting the heart of Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area.

Hiking – With plenty of sunshine and cool breezes, spring is the best time for visitors to enjoy New Zealand’s nine Great walks. The days are longer, the flowers are in bloom, and it is the best time of year for wildlife spotting. Choose from the thousands of miles of walking trails including Stewart Island’s lesser-known Rakiura Track, or the famous day walk, Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Spring events

Food and Wine Classic, November 6-15 – It’s a series of out-of-the-box food and wine events in locations throughout Hawke's Bay, and an opportunity to meet chefs and food producers, wine makers. Seventy events are scheduled.

Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, November 28 – Thousands of cyclists, both locals and internationals, will pedal their way around the shores of Lake Taupo, taking part in one of the world's premier cycle events.

www.newzealand.com 

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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/94418464@N08/9442799744">Rear of National Express liveried LSK 510.</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">(license)

Hit the road on the IoW





THE Isle of Wight #Cycling Festival (September 5-27) gives cyclists the opportunity to get #offthebeatentrack and experience the island’s unspoilt countryside. The festival includes rides with options for riders of all levels.

With its miles of dramatic and breath-taking coastline, picturesque countryside, and more than 200 miles of well-maintained and signposted cycle tracks, by-ways, bridleways, and trails.

Sponsored by Red Funnel, Wightlink, and Visit #IsleofWight, the event includes more than 80 rides, with a range of family events. Additions to the programme this year include a yoga for cyclists ride, mountain bike coaching courses at the Isle of Wight Mountain Bike Centre, the Around the Wight Triathlon, and the MTB Slammer – a mountain bike event taking in some of the island’s best trails.

www.isleofwightcyclingfestival.co.uk



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Wednesday, 23 September 2015

They’re winners!

WINNERS in the 2015 Food and Travel magazine reader awards were: 

Tour operator: Abercrombie & Kent 

Short-haul airline: easyJet 

Long-haul airline: Emirates 

Cruise line, small ship/adventure: Oceania 

Cruise line, ocean: Celebrity Cruises 

Cruise line, overall winner: UniWorld 

City: Edinburgh 

Destination: Italy 

Breakthrough chef: Tomos Parry, Kitty Fisher's, London 

Chef: Tom Kerridge 

Restaurant, overall winner: Le Gavroche, London


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Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/69460501@N04/7516872422">Rom - San Pietro  - Blick von aus Laterne über den Petersplatz</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)