Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Now! There's a boost in the availability of cheap holidays!

Everyone loves a bargain. And there's something exceptionally satisfying about getting a bargain holiday break. But now there's an even bigger and better array of holiday bargains available via Packyourbags.com.

Why? Because Packyourbags.com are specialists in selling cheap holidays. But that wasn't enough for them!

They wanted to offer more and better bargain holidays. So they decided to overhaul their website to offer new dynamic functions.

Packyourbags.com is one of the UK’s top online travel agents and they sell thousands of package holidays to destinations throughout the Mediterranean and further afield.

In an effort to continuously boost and improve its online offering, Packyourbags.com is overhauling its website with an upgrade to its online search and booking technology.

The booking engine will obviously still include traditional package holidays, but the new interface will also search the site for the best individual deals on hotels and flights to then marry these together to produce potentially better deals than purchasing a traditional package holiday.

Once a user has entered their preferred search criteria, the Packyourbags.com booking engine will perform a quick and simple search to compare prices of traditional package holidays versus Packyourbags.com’s new dynamic packages to then display the cheapest deals available.

Creating this new packaging facility means that Packyourbags.com will dramatically increase the inventory available to consumers by tens of thousands overnight!

Mark Kempster, Packyourbags.com Managing Director said: “By packaging hotels and flights using our own deals not only provides customers with a wider choice of cheap holidays to book, but it will also increase the potential for customers to make greater savings on the holidays they purchase.

“This is fantastic news given cheap holidays is our specialism. In addition, all holidays sold online will still offer consumers the same level of protection whether they buy a traditional package or a dynamically packaged holiday”.

Previously Packyourbags.com could only offer this facility through its call centre, but through significant investment in its website, the new booking technology will be launched by the end of this month, June 2011.

Packyourbags.com is also a great resource for finding last minute holiday offers, as it has access to thousands of last minute deals on holidays in Italy, Spain and Turkey, where this year there’s an even greater number of cheap holidays to Turkey to be had as it is outside the Euro zone.

For the latest offers visit www.Packyourbags.com or call them on 0800 652 5986.

Thistle Hotels wins five golds

Thistle hotels has struck gold by receiving five accolades at The Scottish Hotel Awards 2011. The prestigious ceremony, dubbed 'The Scottish Hotel Oscars', was held in Thistle Glasgow's ornate Grand Ballroom, the perfect setting for the evening as it was awarded the prize of Function Venue of the Year.

It was an extremely successful night for Thistle, as its Aberdeen Altens hotel won a gold medal in the Business Performance Award, while Thistle Aberdeen Airport scooped the Events and Parties Award in the medium venue category.

The awards didn't stop there, however! For Thistle's Aberdeen properties, as individual gold medals were also awarded in the manager category to Alison Christie from Aberdeen Airport and Stephen Gow from Aberdeen Altens.

The Scottish Hotel Awards event is held annually, not only to celebrate and encourage excellence in the hotel industry but also to raise funds for Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT) Scotland. Each year, the judging panel of the awards receive thousands of nominations from both industry professionals and members of the public, and all honours are independently researched ahead of the big night.

Ewing Stewart, Thistle's regional operations director for Scotland Hotels said: "I'm absolutely thrilled with the success of our Scottish team, not just for the group and individual awards won but also for the fantastic effort made to host the ceremony. It was an enjoyable evening held in the best of spirits and we were very pleased to be able to support both the awards team and HIT Scotland. I'm extremely proud of all our winners and would like to congratulate everyone involved."


Rezidor announces Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel

The Rezidor Hotel Group, a fast growing hotel group, has expanded its network to 64 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa and announced the Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, Freetown in Sierra Leone. Formerly known as "Mammy Yoko Hotel", the property featuring 171 rooms and will be re-branded later this year.

"We are delighted to enter a further country in West Africa - the region is one of our focus markets for future business development, and this hotel perfectly complements other current and upcoming projects in Dakar, Bamako, Lagos, Accra, and Abuja", said Kurt Ritter, president & CEO of Rezidor.

Sierra Leone continues to emerge from the aftermath of the civil war, democracy has been re-established in the country, and the IMF has completed a poverty reduction and growth facility programme which has improved economic growth and reduced inflation levels. Stability has also led to a revival of key economic activities, such as mining.

The original Mammy Yoko Hotel operated for about three decades. Business was interrupted in 1997 as a result of the civil war and the building was heavily damaged in the fighting.

The property is now undergoing a complete overhaul and will re-emerge in late 2011 as a premier hotel aimed at aid agency staff, diplomats and business travellers. Besides 171 rooms, the hotel will comprise of a restaurant with outdoor terrace, several bars, and meeting rooms. An outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts, duty free shopping and a gym will also be available.

The hotel's name derivates from Mammy Yoko, the "Queen of Senehun" who brought the whole Kpaa Mende region (now comprising 14 separate chiefdoms) under her control through coalitions, warfare and her alliance with the British. She established a famous Sande bush in Senehun where she trained girls from throughout the area. Queen Victoria of England presented Mammy Yoko with a medal for her loyalty and her works.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Thinking about buying a holiday home? Consider the secondary costs say delivery firm Parcels

As the economic climate for holiday homes looks brighter, European delivery company Parcels Please is offering a note of caution to holidaymakers to consider the likely additional costs.

Despite the many dreary reports on the UK housing market, it seems there's one sector that is growing. According to estate agents Knight Frank, the second home market grew again last year, showing a modest increase when compared against 2009.

With 245,750 homes across England already bought as holiday homes or homes to let, and many people looking towards Europe for a second home out of the UK, it seems financing a second home is still possible even during the current economic uncertainties.

But it has been suggested that while lenders are willing to lend money to help purchase a second home, it is likely they are specifically targeting the more affluent buyers. Putting it simply, this means that if you are able to afford a second home, then banks and other financial institutions are far more likely to be willing to do business with you.

And whilst this might well be a boon for many people who are looking for an alternative to taking holidays in hotels, parcel delivery experts Parcels Please are offering a note of caution to those people who are tempted to look at buying a second home in Europe.

Why? A spokesman for the company explained their thinking in this subject: “When people first consider a holiday home, they don’t often really think about the nitty gritty of the situation.

"Deciding where to buy your home is a crucial factor. If you choose a property abroad, it is necessary to factor many additional costs in to your budget – from the price of your groceries while you're there to the cost of keeping the house in a liveable condition all year round."

The warning also follows news that British holiday homeowners in France are to be hit by a new tax, which could cost thousands of pounds a year. The new levy could hit up to 200,000 British holiday homeowners, but this is only one of the expenses they could find themselves subject to.

Taxes like these are unlikely to deter those who are determined to enjoy a home away from home, and the benefits of owning a second property abroad are multi-fold.

There are a number of financing options open to people who hope to enjoy a second home abroad, including re-mortgaging UK properties, taking a second mortgage in the second country or buying into a lease back deal in a tourist development.

European parcel delivery experts Parcels Please said those who can afford it should also look into ways to improve their holiday home. "Making sure you get as much benefit out of your holiday home as possible means furnishing and stocking it with everything you need. You could find that if some of your favourite creature comforts are not available in your chosen destination, you end up spending a lot of money couriering items backwards and forwards.

"Choose the location for your second home wisely as a way to minimise your costs, leaving you plenty of money to send postcards and parcels to the folks you’ve left back home."

(EDITOR: As well as paying extra taxes -so much for the European Union!- you could end up in the ridiculous situation of becoming a law breaker by having -for example- to smuggle Marmite or Vegimite in to Denmark)

FACTFILE:
You can contact Parcels Please at www.ccl-logistics.com

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Find a Knight and you could win £11,000!

Langley Castle, Northumberland, is offering a reward of up to £11,000 to find the ‘Wanted Knights of Langley.’

To celebrate 25 year as a hotel, Langley Castle is placing five “Langley Knights” around Britain in public parks, each assigned a unique code. There is a £1000 reward for the first to find each knight, with a bonus for finding more than one. You are encouraged to organise a team of your friends and family from throughout the country to help you and share in the reward.

Three of the knights will be “real knights” that you will find and meet in the actual parks to get their code number. Two of the knights will be “cyber knights,” that is photos that you must find on Google Maps or Google Earth to determine their code number.

Teams can register on-line starting from NOW and the competition will start on Saturday, 2 July, at 9am when photos of all the knights will be released, and continue until all the knights are found or Monday, 4 July at 9pm.

Teams will be encouraged to use social media to recruit team members to find a knight quicker than opposing teams. Clues will be fed through their social media network after each day if knights remain undiscovered. The hotel points out that it is encouraging charities and their members to take part.

The person who first finds a knight receives £1,000, the person who recruited him receives £500, etc. (See attached diagram to illustrate the default reward process – teams are allowed to select alternative reward schemes, such as donating some or all the funds to a charity.)

The purpose of this competition is to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Langley Castle being opened as a hotel, most recently winning the gold award for “Best Small Hotel in the North” and winning the silver award in the national “Best Small Hotel in England,” and the opening of the new Langley Crystal Pavilion.

The castle will be celebrating these events on 6th July 2011 at Langley. At that time, they will announce the winning teams of this “Find the Langley Knights” competition and present them with their prize.

Ready to start? You can register yourself and your team either via www.LangleyCastle.com or directly at www.LangleyKnights.com (answers to many of your questions can also be found there.)

(EDITOR: This sounds like a lot of fun! Get registered and get seeking, folks! Oh, yes! And good luck to readers of That's Holiday!)

Door2Tour nominated for Coach Tourism Awards but miss out on the night

Door2Tour.com may not have won on the night but congratulations should still be sent to the team for making it to the final. The Coach Tourism Awards 2011 took place at the Holiday Inn in Stratford-upon-Avon where over 350 coach tourism professionals gathered to celebrate excellence across the industry from coach tour operators to suppliers, coach-friendly destinations and attractions.

Door2Tour.com was nominated in the category for Coach Tour Operator Website of the Year but Lucketts Travel was the overall winner. Door2Tour.com provides coach operators with a commission-based extra marketing facility to further promote its products and increase holiday bookings.

The company uses the Internet to attract new customers to the coach tourism industry and thereby deliver the 'next generation' of coach tour passengers. Coach holidays operators only pay when a customer books a commissionable holiday and the commission is not collected until after the tour has travelled, no commission is payable on tours that cancel. Other finalists in this category were: Eddie Brown Tours, Interchoice Holidays and Shearings Holidays.

The Awards are the only scheme in the UK that specifically focuses on the coach tourism community and are organised by leading industry magazine, Coach Monthly. The event was hosted by Coach Monthly's editor Stuart Render and Kay Alexander from BBC Midlands Today. The Coach Tourism Awards are an extremely popular event and one that regularly attracts support and sponsorship from some of the UK's leading tourism organisations such as VisitEngland, the Coach Tourism Council and the Confederation of Passenger Transport.

A Coach Tourism Workshop took place in the afternoon before the Awards Ceremony and this allowed for coach tour operators from across the UK to take the opportunity to meet up with other representatives to discuss business opportunities for 2013 and beyond.

Adam Handy, general manager, Door2Tour.com said: "Although we didn't win, to be nominated for our third award in as many months is absolutely fantastic and the entire team is thrilled. It's great to be recognised within our industry and is a real reflection of all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. We're looking forward to building on the success of last year."

FACTFILE:
Door2Tour.com is a consolidation of national and regional tour operators creating a diverse choice of UK, European and worldwide touring holidays including New Year breaks and Christmas breaks, Blackpool Illuminations, coach holidays, Floriade 2012, day trips, river cruises and holidays by air to many exciting destinations. All have live availability and offer the customer the opportunity to book online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Door2Tour.com features over 35 operators, including Cosmos holidays, and Leger Holidays (coming soon).

www.door2tour.com

(EDITOR: That's Holiday would like to say 'well done' for getting to the finals! And better luck next year!')

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bid for your holiday and change a life

You can combine booking a top holiday AND donating to worthwhile causes, and it is all down to www.holidaylettings.co.uk! Bid4holidays enables you to have a holiday and help change lives.

Bid4holidays launches on 31 May at 9pm. It's an online auction of the type you are probably already familiar with. You’ll be able to bid for a week’s stay at one of more than 180 holiday homes and all the proceeds will go to charity.

Every day during June a stay in up to six homes will be auctioned off. All homes in the auction are advertised on Holiday Lettings and the weeks have been kindly donated by the home owners. Auctions will run for 24 hours, starting and finishing at 9pm. All funds will be split equally between Cancer Research UK and Helen & Douglas House, the company’s two charities of choice.

The auction demonstrates Holiday Lettings’ dedication to its charities of choice with the target for the initiative an incredible £100,000. An ambitious but also highly achievable goal says Kate-Stinchcombe-Gillies, spokesperson for holidaylettings.co.uk: “This is a terribly exciting initiative. Cancer Research UK and Helen & Douglas House are fantastic charities to work with and we are thrilled to have found a way that our every day offering can be used to raise significant funds for their causes.

“The principle behind Bid4holidays is very simple but packs a punch; by bidding for the holiday you want, you could help change someone’s life. Our advertisers have been incredibly generous offering their homes for the cause and we simply hope that people will get behind this campaign while securing a wonderful holiday at the same time.”

Claire Rowney, head of corporate partnerships for Cancer Research UK, said: “We're delighted that Holiday Lettings has launched the Bid4holidays auction to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Sadly more than one in three of us will develop cancer at some point in our lives and Cancer Research UK’s work is critical to ensuring more people beat the disease. Survival rates have doubled in the past forty years and our doctors, scientists and nurses have been at the heart of this progress. We thank Holiday Lettings for helping us to continue our life-saving research and supporting our fight to beat cancer.”

Vanessa Fay, corporate fundraising manager for Helen & Douglas House, said: “This is a wonderful idea and we can’t thank Holiday Lettings and their advertisers enough for their support. When people take part in the auction they will not only have the chance to bid for a stay at a fabulous holiday home, they will be helping us give young people with life-shortening conditions the opportunity to live their life to the full.”

The auction starts on 31 May. In the meantime, people can sign up for alerts to receive a nudge when the auction launches and to hear each morning what’s up for auction that day.

Get ready to start bidding and change a life with your next holiday!

Kuoni and World Market Travel celebrate new relationship

Top luxury holiday brand
Kuoni, has revealed that it's now represented by World Market Travel, a leading Independent travel agency in Bath.

The new relationship was officially announced at the launch event held recently at the elegant Roman Baths, where guests were treated to a tour of the museum followed by drinks, canap├ęs, and music from a string quartet.

Nearly 200 guests attended the event including Joanna Edmunds, Kuoni UK Managing Director, Derek Jones, Kuoni UK Distribution Director, and Tim and Peter Giles, who are joint owners of the World Market Travel store.

A guest at the event commented: "I would like to express our thanks and appreciation for a most splendid and enjoyable evening.

"The choice of venue was absolutely superb and you could not have chosen a better setting to mark this very special occasion. It was a pleasure to mix with other clients of World Market Travel and to learn from their travel experiences and in particular to appreciate the high regard they have for the store and staff."

Sponsors of the event included Hilton Worldwide, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Canada Tourist Board, YTL Hotels, AAT Kings, Orion Cruises and Qantas.

With World Market Travel representing the tour operator, Kuoni has given the store a face lift. The store has a brand new chic interior, offering a comfortable and relaxing environment for customers to browse the range of holidays on offer, which include Antigua holidays and Barbados holidays.

World Market Travel is the first independent travel agency that Kuoni will partner this year, creating dual-branded shops in locations where the operator does not have high street shops.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Ash cloud advice from Saga

With the prospect of volcanic ash disrupting flights into and out of the UK Saga is offering advice to travellers on the steps to take to ensure they are not left stranded or left out of pocket.

If you have booked your trip through a Tour Operator and are delayed or unable to travel either to or from your holiday destination, the tour operator/ travel agent will organise alternative arrangements for you.

It is important in these circumstances to notify your insurance company if your holiday dates change or are extended as a result, to ensure you are covered throughout your entire trip. Saga Travel Insurance will automatically extend cover in these circumstances unlike some other insurers, who don't do this.

Independent travellers should check with their insurance company that they are covered should their travel plans be affected.  Despite the confusion caused following the last closure or disruption to UK airspace, not all insurers have amended their policies to provide this additional cover, so some consumers will find themselves playing the waiting game to find out if they're covered.  In fact some travellers are still waiting to hear if their insurer will be paying their claims from the disruption from almost a year ago!

Saga automatically provide cover within its standard policy at no extra premium for irrecoverable costs as a result of disruption or cancellation caused by Volcanic Ash.  Also, Saga Travel Insurance provides up to £200 should the customer need to purchase additional medication for a pre- existing condition if they're stranded abroad due to airspace closure.  

For further advice and information visit : www.saga.co.uk/insurance/travel-insurance

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Carrentals.co.uk wants you to be 'appy! Launches new Hire Car Search App with Facebook

Carrentals.co.uk has announced the launch of a new Facebook page with its own Facebook application that allows customers to compare car hire deals in well over 15,000 locations all over the world.

The app was developed by the site's in-house developers and enables customers using the currencies – GB£, US$, AUS$ and Euros, to find prices, availability and vehicles in their specified location.

The application pre-fills the fields with customer details like country of origin, age and email address, so making easier and more convenient. But the details can be amended to create a unique search, if required.

“With Facebook being the most popular social media site, our Facebook app was a natural progression for us,” pointed out Gareth Robinson of Carrentals.co.uk. “We wanted to ensure our customers would have a pleasant experience when using it and as people use Facebook to find out where they next want to holiday, it seemed a really good idea.

“Our research and development of the app makes certain it works perfectly and the response from our customers so far has been excellent. They stay on the Facebook page too, so their online experience isn't disrupted and it means they can benefit from finding the latest deals more easily.”

Using www.facebook.com/Carrentals.co.uk?sk=app_116510695090377 customers can join the Carrentals.co.uk Facebook application and taken to the hire car comparison site only once they are ready to go through with their booking.

The car hire comparison site, Carrentals.co.uk, searches 50 suppliers in well over 15,000 locations around the world. The hire car suppliers include leading car hire providers Sixt, Auto Europe, Holiday Autos, Budget and Alamo. To find out more visit them at www.carrentals.co.uk.

Passengers get chance to have their say on rail services

Train operating company First TransPennine Express (FTPE) will be holding a ‘Meet the Manager’ session at Manchester Airport Railway Station.

The event will be held on Monday 23rd May and is intended at giving local passengers the chance to offer any feedback regarding their train service.

Customers and interested parties are invited to come along and meet Station Manager, Paul Jackson, who is responsible for the operation of the station and the service provided to customers by FTPE at Manchester Airport.

A number of senior representatives from FTPE will be on hand to answer any questions between 17:00 and 18:30 hrs. Customers will be able to discuss all elements of the train service they receive from FTPE, including station facilities, punctuality and reliability of services and the overall experience whilst on board an FTPE train.

Paul Jackson, FTPE Station Manager for Manchester Airport, said; “This is a great opportunity for our customers to come in and let us know how we’re doing.

“We are committed to improving the services available for passengers and think they will appreciate the chance to meet and discuss their experiences while travelling with FTPE.”



Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Car Hire Problems – Carrentals.co.uk tells You How to Avoid Them

With summer on the doorstep and many people booking their holidays in the sun, Carrentals.co.uk, reputedly the UK's top car rental comparative site, has put together a list of the ten most common faults people run into when booking a hire car.

Said Carrentals.co.uk's MD, Gareth Robinson: “For travellers hiring a car on holiday for their added convenience, it's surprising how many fall foul of easily avoided mishaps, like documentation, credit card limits and understand insurance policies.

“We have created a list of the ten most common mistakes renters can make, which will hopefully help people understand what not to do when renting a car, and so have a safer and more enjoyable trip.”

The Top 10 car rental problems by Carrentals.co.uk

1. Cheap Rentals – Opting for the cheapest car is not always good value for money. If you struggle to fit your holidaymaker friends and family in it, there isn't much point in renting it. By booking early you can a larger range of cars to choose from, such as SUVs and people carriers.

2. Insurance Policy Mishaps – Total Damage Excess Waiver is one such insurance policy that covers you for the windscreen, excesses, roof, the underside and tyres. Many people aren't covered for the wheels or windscreen, he two things that are most likely to be damaged.

3. Record any damage – Before leaving the rental car park, check the car for damage and have a representative record the damage. If new damage is found and you haven't checked it, you could well be liable for it.

4. Don't forget the extras – If you're travelling to a cold country then opt for snow tyres or snow chains. One of the most common mistakes is not to add a sat nav or child seat into the car, which are sometimes not available on the day of pick up.

5. Limited credit card – Always check what the damage excess is from the hire company before handing over your credit card. If you haven't got the funds available if you have an accident the hire car company could refuse to rent you the car.

6. Book early to avoid disappointment – The cost of car rental can rise the longer you leave it. It's best to book ahead to take advantage of offers and to ensure the car of your choice will be available.

7. Take the insurance – If you're offered insurance when you collect the car, make sure you're already covered at the time of when your bought the policy. In some cases if you take additional cover you might find you're covered twice.

8. Documentation check – In some countries you must show the return flight ticket, and usually credit card, passport and full driving license (both parts), before a renter will allow you to take the car. In some cases, people forget these vital documentation and are refused rental.

9. Rules of the road – Not all road rules are the same as in the UK, so it's important to read up about driving in that particular country before setting off. For example, roundabouts in Turkey give way to those joining it, not the other way around.

10. Fuelling the hire car – some rental car companies prefer you to leave a full tank of fuel or for it to remain empty on its return. Make sure you understand which one as you could find yourself being overcharged. Also, make sure you know if it takes petrol or diesel as getting these two mixed up can have catastrophic affects on the engine.

www.carrentals.co.uk.

(EDITOR: Information for this article was kindly supplied by carrentals.co.uk)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Thomson launches summer 2012 holidays

Top UK-based tour operator Thomson has launched three new May Edition Summer '12 brochures; Summer Collection, Faraway Shores and Florida. Following on from sister-brand First Choice's move to 100% all-inclusive from next summer, Thomson will continue to offer holidays across all boards, from room only in Florida, to all inclusive at its exclusive Sensatori properties.

Due to First Choice’s re-branding, all Florida properties will now be available through Thomson, and to reflect this, the new Florida brochure contains all the top International-drive hotels, villas and Theme Park hotels.

The new Florida brochure will feature top properties, like the popular Coco Key Hotel with its on-site waterpark, and Lake Buena Vista Resort, which both join Thomson Platinum. The brochure will also include the same amount of Disney coverage as First Choice, so customers will have the same amount of choice as before.

Flying from Edinburgh for the first time and re-introducing the East Midlands route places Thomson, flying on Thomson Airways, as market leading tour operator based on number of departure airports you can fly directly from to Florida.

Thomson is continuing to add to its exclusive differentiated product offering, Thomson Couples adding six more properties, bringing the grand total of Couples hotels to 25. These contemporary adult-only properties are all rated 4T or above. 

All hotels are in great locations across short, mid and long haul destinations, and are ideal for couples looking for a child-free, quality break. New additions to the range from May 2012 will include the 5T Pioneer Beach in Paphos, Cyprus and the 5T Secret St James in Montego Bay, Jamaica with Junior Suite Ocean View rooms as standard. You’ll find the other new Thomson Couples properties in Kos, Madeira, Ibiza and Lanzarote.

Following the launch of Thomson Family Resorts this summer, the concept is being added to with the opening of three new hotels for summer 2012. These exclusive hotels are perfect for young families, with a minimum rating of 4T, and come with large family rooms, creches, extensive childcare facilities and entertainment from Thomson Kids’ Clubs, plus extras like pre-bookable Mothercare equipment. The new additions are the 5T CS Salgados in Algarve, the 4T Golden Avenida Suites in Costa Dorada, and the 5T Atlantica Aegean Blue in Rhodes, bringing the total number in the range to 18.

Thomson has also introduced 12 new regional flying routes from next summer, to increase flexibility and choice for customers. These include new routes from Manchester to exclusive destination, Porto Santo and Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba, and Birmingham to Boa Vista in Cape Verde.

These extra flights to Boa Vista mean Thomson Airways will be stepping up and offering six flights per week to Cape Verde. Customers in Scotland will also be able to fly directly to Cancun and Florida from Edinburgh, bringing the total number of UK long haul departure airports to eight - more than any other UK airline, offering customers increased choice and flexibility.

For details visit www.thomson.co.uk

Monday, 16 May 2011

Travelling to the Far East? Then take Bioflu

Bioflu immune booster with shikimic acid
Thai health ministry officials have confirmed that two cases of the bird flu virus, HN51, have been reported in separate hospitals in Thailand. (EDITOR: And whilst it is only a couple of cases, why take the risk?)

The Health Ministry officials confirmed tests on patients in the Suphanburi and Kanchanaburi provinces had been carried out and returned positive with the HN51 virus.

The news arrived a few days after Japan suspended chicken imports from Thailand, which has a huge and lucrative poultry industry.

Top economic and health ministers had held an urgent meeting to map out strategies to cope with the economic and health impact should the laboratory results prove that bird flu has leaped to humans, as it has in Vietnam.

If your intending to travel to Thailand soon then the one of the better ways to avoid and combat the threat of the bird flu virus is to take shikimic acid, an extract of star anise. This extract is currently being used extensively in a well known anti viral medication but with great demand and lack of ingredient, levels are currently running very low.

Luckily there is a product available that contains a concentrated star anise and is one way to help help oneself one from this virus. Bioflu has been developed with the aim of combating viruses. Bioflu contains anti-viral properties in the form of a synergistic blend of star anise, Siberian ginseng and black elderberry extracts that work together to strengthen the immune system and improve your recovery times. Double blind university medical school human trials showed the ingredients in Bioflu to be effective in greatly reducing the severity and duration of the symptoms of influenza viruses.

And to make ensure you are properly covered for your travels, Biotivia are offering two bottles of Bioflu for the price of one all through May 2011.

To qualify for the offer, just visit the site and enter the voucher code “FREEFLU” at the check out

To learn more about Bioflu visit http://www.biotivia.co.uk/company/news/travelling-to-the-far...

The National Trust hits £500,000 mark for Llyndy Isaf, Snowdonia, appeal

The National Trust has announced that over half a million Pounds (£500,000) has been donated only one month after it launched an appeal to secure the future of one of Snowdonia's most precious landscapes.

The campaign to raise £1 million to secure Llyndy Isaf was given an extra boost as Welsh Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta Jones declared her emphatic support for the appeal. She said: "The National Trust plays a key role in protecting and managing the Welsh countryside, the beauty and landscape of Snowdonia is truly unique and we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to protect Llyndy Isaf in this stunning part of Wales for future generations. If we don't act now the threat of commercial development could spoil the tranquillity of this special part of Snowdonia. Please support the campaign."

Just over one month ago another Welsh actor, Matthew Rhys, called on the people of Wales and beyond to help the National Trust raise the money to buy Llyndy Isaf, a 600 acre (248ha) upland farm on the shores of Llyn Dinas lake in Snowdonia, making it the National Trust's biggest countryside appeal in the UK in over ten years.

"We're absolutely delighted with the response we've had from the public," said Richard Neale, the National Trust's general manager in Snowdonia. "We're well on our way to raising the £1 million needed to secure the future of Llyndy Isaf, thanks to the generosity of individuals who have made donations by post and online.

"When we launched the appeal I started a blog and I've been amazed by the response. People have been asking me questions about the place, what the threats to it are and how they can donate, it all goes to show how much people care about protecting special places like Llyndy Isaf for the future. I know we're half way there but we can't rest, we still need another £500,000 to enable us to buy the farm and undertake immediate and essential environmental improvements."

Llyndy Isaf lies in the beautiful Nant Gwynant valley, near Beddgelert. It is one of the most well-known and environmentally important stretches of countryside in Snowdonia, untouched by intensive farming and home to many threatened wildlife species of international importance (such as kingfishers, otters and the chough). Without public support the farm and valley could be at risk of commercial development and the tranquillity destroyed.

The appeal to buy Llyndy Isaf is launched under the umbrella of the National Trust's Snowdonia Appeal. In 1998 with support from its president at the time, Welsh actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, it raised £4 million to buy the 4118 acre Hafod y Llan estate on the southern flank of Snowdon.

To find out more please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sue moves from Wendy Wu to Journeys of Distinction

To spearhead luxury escorted touring specialist Journeys of Distinction’s move into agency sales for the first time, the company has appointed former Wendy Wu Tours’ Business Development Manager Sue Copper in the new role of Agency Sales Manager.

Sue Copper’s experience in the travel industry covers over thirty years and includes sales roles with Britannia Airways, Eurolines and Wallace Arnold, before taking on her former role with Wendy Wu Tours, with whom she worked for the past six years.

Karen Gee, Journeys of Distinction’s MD, said “We’re very pleased to have Sue on board. She has exceptional understanding of the travel industry and first hand experience of long haul travel and escorted touring holidays. She’s going to be a real asset for us as we move into trade sales for the first time”.

Sue will be responsible for developing new relationships with the travel trade and launching Journeys of Distinction’s high quality, escorted touring holidays to travel agents for the first time since the company was established in 1976.

Sue said “I’m delighted to have this exciting opportunity of launching Journeys of Distinction’s fabulous touring holidays to the travel trade. This is a major milestone for the company and one that I’m very pleased to be a part of”.

To learn more visit www.jod.uk.com 

Cruise Ship Passengers Remove 1700 Lbs Of Rubbish In Beach Clean-Up

Cruise goers from niche market tall ship operator Star Clippers have removed an amazing 1,700 pounds of rubbish from North Friar’s Beach and Keys Beach in the island of St. Kitts in a beach clean-op operation organised by the ship's own on-board marine biologist, Mariano Peruzzo. This is the third time Star Clippers guests have take part in beach clean-ups, on this occasion joining volunteers from a local charity to rid the island’s beaches of plastics and other litter.

The marine biology team on board the flag-ship five-masted Royal Clipper have been resident for two years, carrying out research in the marine environments of the Mediterranean and Caribbean as well as leading dives, beach walks and conservation efforts and giving talks to guests.

This is the latest initiative of an ongoing eco-awareness programme operated by Star Clippers, one of the world’s leading niche cruise operators, owned and operated by passionate environmentalist Mikael Krafft, who commented: “As cruise ships get bigger and their impact on the environment is increasingly under scrutiny, we are increasingly concerned that Star Clippers’ three full-rigged, tall ships continue to offer a cleaner, greener way to sail – not least because their principle source of propulsion is wind power”.
 
Star Clippers’ vessels operate under wind power for up to 70% of the time. All ships use very pure, high-quality low-sulphur gas oil, for which Star Clippers has earned the International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate.

And all three ships’ crews operate on a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ policy, while only eco-friendly, biodegradable products are used for cleaning on board the three ships.
 
More recently, the company has added a programme of guest lecturers and volunteering activities, which allow its guests to learn first-hand about the environment in and even play their part in protecting it.

Mikael Krafft says: "We at Star Clippers are passionately committed to preserving the environment and by offering more opportunities for our guests to learn and get involved, we hope to pass on our enthusiasm.”
Other eco-initiatives include the recent appointment of a qualified naturalist/marine biologist to accompany all cruises on the 170-passenger square rigger, Star Flyer, in its winter sailings in Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, providing passengers with first-hand information about the incredible diversity of flora and fauna in the region, as well as the volcanoes and cloud forests.

Indeed later this year, on 11th December one of Britain’s most renowned and respected authors, environmental campaigners, broadcasters and botanists, Dr. David Bellamy, will be on board Star Flyer in Central America to share with passengers the magnificent experience of cruising under sail, to host a shore excursion, to mingle with guests and to give presentations about the environment.

Including an additional three days land stay, the 10 night Central America holiday costs from £2239pp, with return flights from London, transfers, 3 nights’ hotel accommodation and the seven night cruise with David Bellamy, including all meals on board.

Star Flyer also carries a highly qualified dive master who will give talks on board on invertebrates, crustaceans, fish and marine mammals.

The company even has its `own’ dolphin, called `Clipper’, adopted through the Sardinia-based Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute’s (BDRI), which works to study and protect the wild bottlenose dolphins that frequent Sardinia’s Emerald Coast.

For details please call Star Clippers 0845 200 6145 or visit www.starclippers.co.uk.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cruises fit for a Princess

Best At Cruises releases a series of new offers to celebrate the re-launch of Princess cruises Grand Princess.

Princess Cruises’ ship, the Grand Princess has just undergone the most extensive drydock refurbishment in the company’s history, but to call this a refurbishment is a massive understatement.

The ship has been totally transformed from top to bottom, including the removal of Skywalkers night club from the ship’s stern and the complete demolition and rebuilding of the atrium to create the magnificent Piazza. Other modifications have seen a complete re-build of the ship’s casino, which has also enabled the creation of seven new window suites. The new Piazza atrium includes several new eateries including Alfredo’s Pizzeria and the Crown Grill, plus the cruise line’s new tea lounge called Leaves, which offers over 250 different types of teas for passengers to choose from. (EDITOR: My wife would love that!)

Further enhancements were made to the ship’s boutiques, art gallery, lotus spa and wedding chapel, and the addition of Crooner’s Martini lounge. The Skywalkers nightclub has now been replaced with the ultra cool, The One5.

As the refurbishment was such a gigantic task, Princess Cruises filmed a unique video diary of the entire event, which took place in just 24 days with over 1,400 contractors working around the clock to meet the deadline; the ship had to set sail again on the 6th May 2011 from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The ship is now on route to its summer homeport of Southampton, England, where it will sail a season of European itineraries, including Mediterranean cruises and a number of shorter Interlude voyages.

Best At Cruises have numerous offers available to book on the new Grand Princess for varying cabin types and departures, with 14 or 17 night Med cruises starting from only £999.

Best At Cruises is a leading UK cruise specialist with over 20 years experience offering cruises suiting all budgets and tastes, from the ever popular Transatlantic cruises onboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, to sailing around the Med on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas.

If you’re after something a little different, Best At Cruises have some excellent Caribbean cruise deals with the deluxe cruise line Azamara Cruises, alternatively Dubai cruises with Costa cruises are worth exploring.

For more information about any of these cruise holidays call Best At Cruises on 0207 849 4150.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Stena Line celebrates National Ferry Fortnight with discounts

Ferry operator Stena Line has announced that it is to offer 15 per cent discounts on bookings made between 14 and 28 May 2011, for travel completed by 8 January 2012 to mark the Passenger Shipping Association's third annual National Ferry Fortnight.

The offer is valid for all vehicle types, "dutchflyer" (rail and sail) and foot passenger bookings, as well as all elements of booking from cabins to pre-booked meals and Stena Plus lounge access.

The 15% discount on travel to Holland offer means a family of four (two adults, two children aged four to 15) can save £24.90 on the lead-in price for a return crossing to Holland with their car and includes unlimited luggage allowance.

The same family would save £35.10 for a return to take Stena Line's "dutchflyer" (rail and sail) option, which includes rail travel from any National Express East Anglia station to any NS rail station within the Netherlands.

The offer includes travel on the two largest Superferries in the world, the Stena Hollandica and Stena Britannica, which launched in May and October respectively last year. Departing twice daily, crossings with Stena Line from Harwich to the Hook of Holland take approximately 6.5 hours with a choice of day or night sailings in each direction.

National Ferry Fortnight has been arranged by the Passenger Shipping Association to help consumers learn about the investments that ferry companies make in order to improve the travelling services for passengers. It also celebrates the benefits of traveling by ferry, highlighting the unlimited luggage allowance, onboard space and facilities and absence of surcharges, lengthy pre-departure check-in times, taxes and queues. The fortnight runs from 14th May till the 28th of May 2011.



Monday, 9 May 2011

Friday on your mind? Then go batting!

Scudamore’s Punting Company launch a new chauffeur tour with a wildlife theme from this Friday. Aimed at adults and children alike, the 90 minute excursion will provide a thorough introduction to one of nature’s most amazing and often misunderstood creatures – the humble, or not-so-humble, bat.

To coincide with the International Year of the Bat, Scudamore's will be running weekly bat safaris towards Cambridgeshire's Grantchester Meadows. in special partnership with the local Wildlife Trust. The trips are to be led by a wildlife expert and will include the use of special bat detecting equipment.

Beginning at the end of May and running until the middle of September, these unique tours will depart shortly after dusk each Friday night. Expert guides will outline the notable characteristics and habitats of bats likely to be encountered on the trip and give tuition on how to use the detectors.

The hand-held detectors convert the bats’ biological sonar signals into audible frequencies. Different species of bats operate at different frequencies and the ear can be trained to recognise specific calls. With the help of experts people will be able to identify exactly what bats are flying close by the punts.

Despite there being nearly 1,100 different species of bats, few people appreciate the vital ecological role that these fascinating creatures play in sustaining our world. Whether it is pollinating flowers or dispersing fruit seeds, bats are at the forefront of many important natural processes.

Rod Ingersent, Scudamores' MD said: "As well as identifying specific bats, our experts will give an overview of the most common species of bat and how they interact with their habitat and the environment in general. We hope people will come away with a greater understanding of these important mammals".

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Garmin to the Garden! National Trust announces partnership with Garmin

The National Trust is offering visitors an exciting new way to explore its great outdoor places by partnering with GPS experts Garmin this summer.

Geocaching, a family-friendly 'digital' treasure hunt, will be taking place at over 40 National Trust places across the country. Visitors can borrow a Garmin handheld GPS device to guide them to treasure 'caches' hidden in the countryside and coastland of National Trust sites.

These modern-day treasure-hunts are a fun way for visitors to get out and really experience the outdoors with the National Trust.

Andrew Silver, wh is the senior product manager for fitness and outdoor at Garmin said: "Geocaching is a great way for families and people of all ages to get outdoors and discover hidden places using a Garmin GPS and opencaching.com.

“At National Trust places this summer, you can have fun and get rewards, but also learn useful techniques such as how to read maps and co-ordinates. Garmin is really pleased to be able to offer this new activity to people who love to experience beautiful National Trust places."

The partnership between the National Trust and Garmin is part of the Trust's vision to encourage more people to enjoy the outdoors.

Over the forthcoming months, Garmin will be hosting taster sessions at National Trust places, so visitors from across England, Wales and Northern Ireland can become 21st century treasure hunters.

FACTFILE:
The National Trust is a charity with a statutory duty to preserve places and countryside across England, Wales and Northern Ireland 'of historic interest and natural beauty for the benefit of the nation'.

As Europe's largest conservation charity it protects over 350 historic houses, 160 gardens, 1,100 kilometres of coastline, 254,000 hectares of land of outstanding natural beauty, six World Heritage Sites, 28 castles and 60 pubs, including coastal walks and family days out.

The global leader in satellite navigation, Garmin Ltd. and its subsidiaries have designed, manufactured, marketed and sold navigation, communication and information devices and applications since 1989 – most of which are enabled by GPS technology.

In partnership with Garmin, the National Trust will be creating new geocaches at over 40 of its estates, gardens and countryside locations during 2011. Visitors can already enjoy the challenge of geocaching at a number of Trust locations.


City Hotel Brand Mint Hotel Encouraged By Scottish Hotels Performance In Recent Report

Recently, temperatures in Scotland ranked as the highest in the UK, with Aberdeen reaching 23 degrees Celsius on the mercury. It seems however Scotland not only tops the climatic charts, but also the hospitality performance rankings, too.

In a survey undertaken by a top UK accountancy firm, figures show Scottish hotels recorded the most consistent room yield levels of the UK hotel industry over the past five years.

Whilst falls of over 2% have dogged the British hotel industry over the past five years, Scottish room yields fell by only an average of 0.2%.

City hotel brand Mint Hotel welcomed news some areas actually experienced improved revenue, with rooms in Aberdeen and Glasgow recording yield increases of 2.4% and 0.5% respectively. A spokesperson for Mint Hotel is quoted as having said: “The figures come as an encouraging sign for hoteliers in Scotland, including ourselves. The knowledge that the country's popularity as a tourist destination has not faltered under the stretched economic conditions will encourage further investment throughout Scotland, which can only be good news for the country's tourism industry as a whole.”

Edinburgh was an exception to these figures with a 1.2% drop. But even so, room yield in the Scottish capital was consistently higher than both Aberdeen's and Glasgow's for the duration of the five year period.

However, such positive performance is not expected to remain an exclusive aspect of the Scottish hotel industry for longer, with the nearing of the Olympic Games in London.

For Mint Hotel, whose portfolio of city centre hotels stretches from Glasgow to London (and now into the continent with the recently opened Amsterdam hotel), such an exciting programme of events herald sure signs of growth, with thousands of additional visitors flocking to various locations throughout Britain. The spokesman added: “With the upcoming series of global events taking place in London and throughout the UK, including the Royal Wedding, the Olympic Games, and the Champion's League Final, it is hoped such encouraging industry figures will not be confined to north of the border.”

The report, Hotel Britain 2011, surveyed 549 hotels, with data referring to the period between 2006 – 2010. 133 of these hotels are located in London, with the remaining 416 situated throughout the rest of the UK. The total number of rooms accounted for by the 549 hotels was 92,117.

FACTFILE:

Mint Hotel, previously known as City Inn, is an established, award-winning independent hotel brand with city centre hotels in London Westminster, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

LEA Warns Olympic Fans To Book Flights Early For London 2012

If you want the most convenient travel to and from the London Olympics next summer, chartering a business jet is the natural choice – but early booking will be essential.

Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, chief executive of London Executive Aviation (LEA), one of Europe’s largest executive aircraft charter operators, says heavy demand for airline seats and airspace restrictions surrounding the Olympic Park will limit last-minute travel decisions.

Margetson-Rushmore says: “From July 13 to September 12 2012, there will be an inner prohibited airspace zone and an outer restricted zone, about 60 nautical miles across, centred on the Olympic Park. Business jet passengers, who ordinarily expect to be able to charter a flight at very short notice, should be warned that such flexibility may not be possible in these exceptional circumstances. If customers are serious about chartering next summer, we are urging them to book early to ensure an aircraft is available and that there is time to have the flight approved.”

Only aircraft operating commercial services and meeting strict security requirements, such as LEA’s diverse charter fleet of 25 jets, will normally be permitted to fly in the prohibited zone. Even aircraft operating in the wider restricted zone will need to satisfy certain requirements to ensure clear identification and monitoring by air traffic control.

Margetson-Rushmore continues: “For an operator like LEA, we must understand the consequences of the airspace restrictions and then communicate those consequences to customers. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), air traffic control provider NATS, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Department for Transport (DfT) are among the many bodies with whom we will be liaising to ensure we operate safely and efficiently within the restrictions.”

LEA operates seven bases around London, so Margetson-Rushmore says: “Despite the challenges, if somebody suddenly needs to travel to – or especially from – the Games, LEA will be able to offer a far better and faster option than a fully-booked scheduled airline or a business jet operator based in mainland Europe.”

Langley Castle, Hexham, it's no ordinary hotel, no ordinary holiday

This unique castle, built in 1350, during the reign of Edward III, has retained its architectural integrity and is regarded as one of the very few medieval fortified Castle Hotels in England.

Set in its own tranquil woodland estates, the Castle's 7 feet thick walls provide a peaceful refuge in which to escape from today's hustle and bustle to a bygone age, making it the perfect destination for that special break.

All bedrooms are individual and unique with private facilities, many with four-poster beds and feature bathrooms.

Langley Castle provides the perfect romantic Wedding venue, with its beautiful and historic chapel high on the ramparts, with stunning views to the north of Hadrian’s Wall.

The Castle is the ideal venue for private functions, exclusive use, exceptional dining, or just a weekend getaway in gorgeous Northumberland. The Castle is the ideal centre from which to explore the north of England’s wild and beautiful countryside and history, or just shop in either Carlisle or Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Langley Castle is no ordinary Hotel... It is an experience and an inspiration!
www.langleycastle.com.

Langley Castle Hotel, Langley-on-Tyne, Hexham, Northumberland NE47 5LU

Swanage, Dorset, in the global spotlight in its bid for the World Dive Attempt


As holiday makers drift back to their jobs and children return to school after the summer break, the beautiful sandy beach at Swanage Bay on Dorset’s stunning World Heritage Jurassic Coast usually reverts to peace and tranquillity for those taking a stroll or dog walk… This September however will see the town alive with activity, as the worlds diving community congregate in Swanage to take part in a World Record Dive Attempt.

Swanage Resident, Jason Haiselden has been an avid diver for some ten years, having done most of his diving in the Far East, mainly in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines as well as Truk Lagoon, and Australia. Jason settled in Swanage on Dorset’s stunning World Heritage Jurassic Coast 8 years back, when he took up diving in the cooler waters of the UK.

It's Jason’s vision and determination that has led to this ambitious attempt to break the World Record for the number of divers in the water, simultaneously. Having organised trips for divers to exotic locations the world over, Jason is now looking to entice 3000 diver’s to Swanage in Dorset to shatter the world record.

Swanage has some of the most interesting dives just around the picturesque Bay with great wrecks, including the Kyarra, and drift dives. Jason said “I hadn't done very much UK diving until I moved here, as I love colourful reefs and marine life. However I completely appreciate just how good the diving is here in Swanage, it has a great reputation in the UK with the dive community. The environment of the Jurassic Coast and Purbeck in particular, is just a dream, on a clear summer’s day; you feel you could be on a Greek Island. ”

Jason's new company ScubaClick (an online Liveaboard booking system) have decided to stage a Guinness World Record™ attempt for the ‘most people scuba diving’. The current record was set in August 2009 when the Indonesian Navy organised 2.486 divers to dive simultaneously. Until now the record has only been held overseas in warm water.

To make an attempt on any world record requires immense planning, support and money. Jason has spent many months putting together risk assessments, having numerous meetings with safety advisory groups and the local Swanage Town council who, whilst initially somewhat cautious, have all been very supportive and have given their full approval and backing for the event. Throughout this process Jason has worked closely with the Swanage & Purbeck Hospitality Association who represent many local businesses in the area and see this attempt as another great way to showcase the beauty of Swanage & Purbeck to a wide audience.

The event is primarily aimed at raising money for local and national charities. Such as the Swanage Heroes Haven, a registered local charity raising money to purchase, equip and run a specially adapted log cabin for the use of disabled service personnel and their families on a local holiday park in Swanage. The RNLI essential for beach and sea safety is a natural choice, in appreciation of the brave work that the RNLI do.
The Scuba Trust also aim to assist by arranging training and obtaining funding to subsidise applicants, who due to disability, encounter difficulty in finding suitable instruction and who may face a greater outlay for training and recreational diving after certification.

The Guinness World Record™ attempt will take place on Saturday the 24th September 2011 with Sunday the 25th being reserved should the weather not be favourable on the Saturday. Divers will be asked to pay £10 to take part in the event and to raise further money through personal sponsorship. The event could raise over £150,000 for charitable causes.

There will be a number of diving related exhibitors and a prize draw for all those that take part, on the grass field known as Sand Pit Field, which overlooks Swanage Bay. There will be a Guinness World Record™ adjudicator present and the announcement if the record has been broken should be made around 5.30pm. After which there will be live music and a bar for all to celebrate and enjoy having taken part in such a historic event.

For details about The Swanage World Dive Attempt go to: www.gwr.scubaclick.com