Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Hunter Boot Ltd launches foldable wellington boot

With summer already upon us, Hunter Boot are proud to announce the launch of a new boot specially designed for travelling. The Original Tour boot combines the iconic Hunter silhouette with a flexible rubber leg, allowing it to be quickly rolled up and packed into even the smallest of spaces, making it ideal for packing in the car, in a suitcase, or even in a backpack.

“We believe that our new Original Tour boot will the perfect wellington boot for people of all ages and interests this summer as its design makes it so versatile and it's also a lot more lightweight, compared with our other boots. We designed these boots with travel in mind, considering destinations such as summer festivals and countries with unpredictable weather. Hunter wanted to create a travelling boot that our customers would love,” a spokesperson for Hunter Boot comments.

The Original Tour boot weighs 50 grams less than the Original Tall, making the style much easier to carry around for long periods of time compared to Hunter's existing range. While the boots have been designed respecting Hunter's high standards of practicality and comfort, they are also very stylish, as the style comes complete with a leg cuff to retain the shape of the much loved classic wellington boot.

The spokesperson for Hunter continues: “We would like to stress that while the Original Tour boot has been designed with some very specific needs in mind, it still meets our very high standards in terms of fashion. The Original Tour boot has a comfortable cuff top and a Hunter buckle on the side, and so we're confident that the Tour maintains its classic good looks, as well as its functionality, wherever you're travelling to. From Cuba to Cleethorpes, these boots will turn heads.”
This functional yet fashionable boot is available in Hunter’s traditional colours of red, green, navy and black and is available in sizes 3 – 12. RRP £79.

What's on this summer - Acclaimed Oxfordshire Maize Maze

Millets Farm Centre near Abingdon in Oxfordshire has officially invited children to ‘get lost’ with their a-maiz-ing Maize Maze which opened on July 28th - the 15th year of this much anticipated annual event.

Open 10am-6pm seven days a week from 28th July to 4th September, then weekends until 16th September, there’s plenty of opportunity to sample this hugely popular attraction in Oxfordshire with free parking and many other attractions on site.

They’re under starters orders and are ready for families everywhere to come and celebrate the Olympics and their farming roots in style by getting lost in this year’s “Animal Games” themed Maze.

Millets Farm is famous for holding the World Record in growing the first Maize Maze back in 1997, with the crop creating nearly four miles of pathway and covering eight acres – some visitors took four hours to complete it! Previous designs include a windmill, dragon, pirate ship, clowns and the White Rabbit for last years’ Alice in Wonderland theme.

This year, ‘The Animal Games’ promises to be just as challenging and exciting for children and adults alike. The shape of the maze was not unveiled until the opening on July 28th - a rowing boat tribute to this year's games and the Great British team.

Split into three individual mazes, families can expect to spend approximately 2 hours to complete them all - however with a wristband which allows them to come and go as they please throughout the day, it’s a great day of fun and excitement for the whole family to enjoy.

And the fun doesn’t end after completing the Maize Mazes – other activities available include the nautical zone, featuring a wooden fort maze (not made of Maize!), pedal go-karts and woodland hunt. While parents enjoy a refreshing drink and some well-deserved food in the courtyard area, children can enjoy the bouncy castle, trampolines, hay bales, table football, table tennis and a whole host of other games.

Planted in April, the maze got off to a slow start and was the smallest in its history until just a few weeks ago because of the wet weather. But this tropical crop has been boosted by the warm sunshine of recent weeks.

“We are hoping this interesting mixture of weather conditions will give our Maize Maze the growing power it needs to be one of the tallest and best mazes in the country” said Millets Farm Events Manager Helen Bloomfield.

Families can bring their picnics into the Maize Maze area and why not pick a punnet of succulent strawberries or raspberries from the Pick Your Own Fields to accompany, or maybe some indulgent cakes or pastries from the farm shop.

Tackle the maze by moonlight on one of Millets Farm’s Torchlight Evenings where families can enter the mazes and test their navigational skills by night…just don’t forget to bring your torch! These take place on selected summer evenings from the end of August until the end of the maze season.

The Maize Maze also has an area which can be booked for private birthday parties with a marquee suitable for up to 15 children making it a unique yet brilliant place to host any party.

“Last year we had over 20,000 visitors to the Maze and this year we are hoping for even more. As one of the top attractions in Oxfordshire, the Maize Maze is a brilliant experience and a fantastic family day out in the countryside,” added Helen.

Check out Millets Farm’s website for more details about the Maize Maze including the latest new activities – you can also purchase tickets online via their website.

Sit&GO, the ideal solution for any outdoor event

Celebrate the summer with Sit&GO
Celebrate the summer with Sit&GO
Whether away at a festival, mooching on the beach or just shopping around town, it’s a must have with a strong flip-down seat, large umbrella and insulated cool bag.

2012 has already been a great year for a number of reasons and it’s about to get a whole lot better for holidaymakers, festival and beach goers, fisherman, make-up artists, harassed parents, new mums, and well, just about anyone.

If you’ve ever been to a summer festival then you’ll know the pain of trudging along for what seems like miles in the sun and rain with all your kit. To make matters worse you normally have to do it with lukewarm drinks and food for comfort.

Well worry no more. The new Sit&GO from Direct to Your Door Ltd aims to solve all that by being the ideal travelling companion for any outdoor event. Whether you’re away at a festival, mooching on the beach or just shopping around town, it’s a must have. With a strong flip-down seat, large umbrella and insulated cool bag holding up to 20Kg, food stays hot or cold all day long while you take in the view.

This means when the going gets tough you can put your worries to one side and your feet up safe in the knowledge that the contents of your Sit&GO are cool.

With its steel frame and sturdy design, Sit&GO comes fully safety tested for peace of mind with a seat holding up to 15st in weight, while those robust large wheels ensure Sit&GO is just as happy transporting your shopping around town as it is carrying your picnic or bait and tackle down to the river.

Sit&GO is also great for new mums normally weighed down with shopping, changing bags and nowhere to sit down and feed their baby or even give their feet a rest. Similarly it’s just as useful for harassed parents watching children play in sports tournaments and trailing from pitch to pitch. The handle height of 89cm means you won’t be hunched over pulling Sit&GO around either.

To celebrate what looks like being a great British summer the ‘Celebration’ edition of Sit&GO is emblazoned with the Union Jack and comes complete with its own parasol/umbrella.

Available in three different colours including camouflage (khaki), black and red, and black, Sit&GO is out now.


• Fully Safety tested for added peace of mind
• Steel Frame
• Seat holds up to 15st
• Seat height 45.5cm (17.8 inches)
• Insulated cool bag, holds up to 20Kg
• Versatile seated trolley for any occasion
• Strong adult size fold away seat
• Fully insulated cool bag keeps snacks and drinks cool all day
• Large Wheels

Guoman's Cumberland Hotel to showcase Goldie exhibition

Guoman Hotels is to host 'Athleticizm', a new painting exhibition from urban artist Goldie, featuring painting of twelve of the UK's leading athletes.

The athletes include such household names as cycling gold medallist Victoria Pendleton 2009 World Champion triple-jumper Phillips Idowu MBE, European and 2009 World Heptathlon Champion Jessica Ennis MBE, three-time World Champion track cyclist Shanaze Reade, leading field athlete and nine-time National Champion Goldie Sayers, Commonwealth bronze medallist weightlifter Zoe Smith and high-jump hopeful Tom Parsons. The works will be on show at a special London exhibition until the 12th August at Guoman's The Cumberland hotel in London. The exhibition is open from 7-10pm and admission is free.

'Athleticizm' brings street art together with the world of sport in a unique way for the first time and the energy and power of these sporting greats is perfectly complimented by the colour, vitality and edge of Goldie's art.  His skilfully composed street-art style marks and departure from the traditional portrayal of national sporting stars, the exhibition celebrates the new generation of athletic hopes and depicts the 'rawness of their talent' Goldie said, 'in a light in which they are rarely seen.'

As a pioneering force on the UK urban art scene in the early eighties, at a time when graffiti was far from the widely regarded art form it is today, Goldie forced the boundaries of public approval. He made his name as an exceptionally skilled graffiti artist, turning his hand to a variety of art forms before becoming one of the most famous DJs in the world as founder of ground-breaking UK drum 'n bass collective Metalheadz. A finalist on the successful BBC series Maestro, he can currently be seen scouting musical talent across the country on BBC Two’s Goldie’s Band: By Royal Appointment, which sees his specifically chosen group of disadvantaged kids perform at Buckingham Palace, in the presence of guest of honour, Prince Harry, as the grand finale of his mentoring programme.

The Cumberland hotel is one of five Guoman hotels in London and is fast becoming a must-use venue for showcasing contemporary art. The hotel's foyer perfectly lends itself to a pop-up gallery space, and has already featured a street art exhibition with the likes of Banksy and Shepherd Fairey.

For further information please visit www.guoman.com/athleticizm.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Malmaison refurbishing Dundee listed landmark to create new hotel

Malmaison has announced that it aims to refurbish the vacant Tay Hotel, a listed city centre landmark constructed in 1889 in the Scottish coastal town of Dundee.

Interserve, the international support services and construction group, has been appointed as main contractor on a refurbishment project to create the new Dundee Malmaison hotel. Works commenced in June and completion is scheduled for twelve months later.

The project forms part of the £1 billion Dundee Central Waterfront Development, an integral phase in the city's multi-billion pound regeneration of its historic waterfront, which will include the new £45 million Victoria & Albert museum. Around 150 full and part time construction jobs have been created thanks to the £15 million development, with a further 120 new jobs to be made available once the hotel opens.

In keeping with the prestigious Malmaison brand, the structure is being redeveloped to create an international standard lifestyle boutique hotel. It will comprise a bar/lounge area with whisky snug and wine cellar, a restaurant with a private dining room and wine tasting and 91 bedrooms and suites.

As part of the conservation project, Interserve will replace sash and casement windows and timber shutters, repair a feature lead dome on the building’s roof, make good stonework, refurbish a feature staircase and cupola located on the stairs' landing and replace or redress Scottish slates on the building's mansard roof. In addition, the existing structures and fire escape staircase in the atrium were rotten and had collapsed. The company is required to rebuild these.

Scott Harper, Brand Directory, Malmaison said: "We are proud to be bringing Malmaison to Dundee, a city with a great heritage and an exciting future with the Waterfront Development and the V&A museum. Working with our partners Interserve we are looking forward to restoring the former Tay Hotel to its former glory with of course a contemporary Mal twist."

Malmaison's new hotel in Dundee is due to open in May 2013.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

From the Golden Triangle to the tropical Keralan backwaters - Exotic group holidays to India

From the palm fringed beaches of Kerala to the mighty Rajasthani forts and ancient temples, India is a melting pot of intriguing attractions. Its abundant beauty makes India a terrific destination for a fun-filled group holiday with friends, or to celebrate a special occasion with loved ones. With a variety of tours on offer choosing what to do in India can be troublesome, even for the most organised traveller! Without reaching for the guidebook luxury group holidays experts, Cox & Kings, highlight some of the best tours in India so you can get the most out of your holiday.

Situated in the northern state of Rajasthan, the Golden Triangle is one of the most fascinating areas in India. Boasting some of India’s greatest cities, Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, the Golden Triangle explores India’s cultural relics and imperialistic past. Marvel at Rajpath in Delhi, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and admire the exquisite beauty of the Taj Mahal in Agra, one of India’s most iconic buildings. Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1632 in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the white marbled mausoleum was constructed as a symbol of his everlasting love . West of Agra lays Jaipur; nicknamed the ‘pink city’, which was painted pink in 1853 to welcome the Prince of Wales . From Jaipur head to the ancient Amber Fort, the former home for Rajput royalty. Don’t forget to visit the City Palace with its range of ancient royal costumes and Indian weapons . For shopaholics, Jaipur has a multitude of bazaars and boutiques to purchase gorgeous gifts for family and friends back home.

If cultural relics, monuments and cities leave you exhausted, a tour to Kerala in southern India might be the perfect way to recharge your batteries. Stretched along the coastline of Arabian Sea, the state of Kerala is a tropical paradise with its luscious landscapes and Kochi backwaters. The Western Ghats to Thekkady boasts a variety of tea gardens, rubber estates and coffee and pepper plantations. Visit a spice garden to see how some of the exotic spices are grown or take a romantic boat trip along Lake Vembanad at sunset. While away the holiday sipping cocktails, eating delicious dosas and sunbathing at the picture perfect Kovalam beach.

Cox & Kings, the luxury holidays specialist, was established in 1758 and is built on high quality service and attention to detail that enables the company to continue to flourish as an independent tour operator, with operations in London, the US, Japan, Australia and throughout India. Cox & Kings organises tours to India, Latin America, the Middle East, the Far East, Africa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific and the Caribbean.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Top Tips for Olympic Travel from GEM

With the start of the London 2012 Olympic games just days away, road safety organisation and breakdown cover company, GEM Motoring Assist has some smart travel tips for those affected this summer.

With thousands of people descending upon the capital, planned road closures, public transport delays, and overcrowding; the majority of journeys in and around London will be impacted throughout July and August. So, for an easy way into the Games take GEM’s useful travel advice:

1. Free pass – all those lucky enough to have tickets to the Olympic Games this summer receive a free travel card for zones 1-9 to get to and from the event.

2. Try two wheels – take advantage of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and get from A to B quickly and easily, leaving your bike at one of the hundreds of docking stations. Check tfl.gov.uk before you travel to find out about closures.

3. Fuel efficiency – lift sharing is a great way of saving petrol and reducing the number of cars on the road, whenever you can, share a journey with family or friends.

4. Private parking – people all over London are renting out their drives and parking spaces so secure your spot rather than queuing for public car parks. Try parkatmyhouse.co.uk or rentduringthegames.co.uk for details.

5. Head in the clouds – steer clear of busy roads and travel on the new Emirates Air Line cable cars, which runs from Greenwich to the Royal Docks.

6. Cruise control – take to the water and get into the Games via a river taxi on the Thames. Visit thamesclippers.com or citycruises.com for schedules and prices.

7. Stay in lane – look out for the dedicated Games lanes for officials and athletes driving to events. Using these lanes, which have started opening now, could result in a fine.

8. Trouble on the tube – check the getaheadofthegames.com website for tube closures and up-to-the-minute travel updates during the Games.

David Williams MBE, CEO of GEM Motoring Assist, comments: “This summer is an extremely exciting time for the whole nation; however, our transport systems are going to be under a huge amount of pressure. Planning your journey fully before you set off will ensure you see the very best bits of London during the Games whilst avoiding unnecessary hardship.”

Brits head for British coast as UK summer breaks boom according to latest study

According to statistics released today by Owners Direct, breaks at the British seaside are becoming increasingly popular among British holidaymakers. Despite April to June this year being the wettest on record, it seems Brits aren’t put off from holidaying at home!

Based on an analysis of top enquiries to the holiday home rental site and fastest growth areas, they have seen sharp increases in tourist hot spots both at home and abroad.

Families are heading for popular UK beach destinations such as St. Ives and Newquay in Cornwall which have both seen a big rise in enquiries. In the lead up to the summer, Owners Direct has also seen a significant increase in the number of enquiries for holidays in the Peak District.

Top Five Destinations 2012 YTD
1. Tenerife
2. Mallorca
3. Lanzarote
4. Barcelona
5. Ibiza Town

Top 5 increase in enquiries 2012 YTD
1. Brighton
2. Newquay
3. St Ives
4. Morzine
5. Dubrovnik

Top destination abroad is Tenerife with the most the most popular property advertised on the listing site being a group of quiet Tenerife apartments within a few minutes’ walk of the beach from £250 week.
With Tenerife offering year round sun, families are opting to holiday out of peak season to benefit from savings on flights and accommodation.

The family destination of Mallorca comes a close second with Lanzarote the third most popular by enquiry level. The vibrant Spanish city of Barcelona comes in at fourth place. Some central Barcelona apartments close to the famous landmark, the Sagrada Familia costing from less than £50 a night are one of the most popular listings on the site.

"We have always had a great deal of interest in Barcelona year round and summer holiday hotspot trends always tend to lean towards the Canaries and Balearics. However we haven’t seen such as sharp increase in enquiries for UK beach breaks before. It seems the UK weather hasn’t dampened anyone’s enthusiasm for a traditional British summer break,” commented Owners Direct Marketing Manager Angela Southall.

Most popular properties
Data collected 16th July 2012.

Owners Direct specialises in advertising privately owned holiday accommodation direct from the owner. They have advertised holiday properties since 1997 and on their web site you will find over 40,000 villas, apartments, chalets, farmhouses and cottages. From Fincas in Spain to traditional Riads in Morocco and beach villas in Koh Samui, Owners Direct offer all types of holiday accommodation in a diverse selection countries throughout the world.

In August 2007 Owners Direct became part of HomeAway Inc. which owns some of the largest rentals websites in the US and Europe. They continue to operate as a separate brand from their offices in London.

Hi-Tec Encourages Brits To Be Inspired By Life On A Walking Holiday This Summer

On the first week of the summer holidays, and with plenty of last-minute bargains still to be snapped up as travel firms compete for bookings, leading walking boots manufacturer Hi-Tec recommends Europe’s top five destinations for a family walking holiday.

The award-winning outdoor brand truly lives by its strapline ‘Inspired by Life’ and is therefore urging British families to venture out, abroad or at home, and witness the natural beauty on offer in some of the continent’s finest holiday destinations.

The top five list comprises Ardeche in France, Umbria in Italy, Lindos on Rhodes, Mayrhofen in Austria and Cornwall, England. The five destinations offer a real mix of holiday-types but all have stunning walking routes in common. Trips can be booked via HF Holidays; Hi-Tec’s walking holidays partner.

Ardeche, in France, is perfect for leisurely family walks; while adults can appreciate the rolling Ardechois hills and views of the Rhône Valley, children are sure to love the unique experience of walking with a friendly donkey companion alongside! The region is dotted with charming guesthouses to rest up in and is renowned for its wine production, which is sure to keep adults smiling after a day trekking.

For those looking for more of a traditional-holiday feel, Umbria in Italy could be the perfect destination. As well as mouth-watering cuisine, warm sunshine and plenty of history to explore, the rolling foothills of the Appenines can be found close-by, offering a range of family-friendly walking routes, as well as more challenging ones.

Extreme sun-seekers should consider Lindos, on the Greek island of Rhodes. A week’s holiday can incorporate stunning beaches, Greek history and delicious food as well as off-the-beaten-track walks on unspoilt mountains and through traditional villages.

For those less tempted by the heat, Austria’s Mayrhofen is a resort jam-packed with active options for energetic families. Guided walks will take families through the Zillertal Alps, with cable-cars and chairlifts ensuring that everyone gets fantastic Alpine views. Other activities on offer in the region include abseiling, tubing and rafting.

Last but, of course, not least is Cornwall, England. The south-west corner of England has a plethora of beautiful sights to discover and the Cornish coastline is not to be missed. Families can spend days trekking along breath-taking cliffs and beaches, and evenings relaxing in traditional seaside towns such as St Ives.

Helen Durant, UK Marketing Manager at Hi-Tec, says: “We’re so fortunate in England; there are lots of beautiful walking destinations on our doorstep, and even more just a short journey away in Europe.

“We’d really encourage families to get out there this summer and take in some of the sights on offer. It’s the perfect way to get active!”

For those needing some walking inspiration in the UK, Hi-Tec is collating stunning photos, captured on walks in the UK, in its Inspiring Walks gallery. Visit www.hi-tec.com/inspiring-uk-walks to add your own or draw some inspiration.

Monday, 23 July 2012

British Airways launches cashback campaign

British Airways will be rewarding customers who stay in the UK to cheer on Team GB and Paralympics GB. The cashback rewards on holidays are for travel after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and in line with specific athlete wins.

British Airways will feature a new offer based on a chosen athlete, valid for a limited period and in line with their schedule in the London 2012 Games. Each offer will also have a money back incentive dependent on the performance of the athlete.

Customers can book an offer via the dedicated campaign page on ba.com and later if the featured athlete wins a medal, cashback will be given on the booking in relation to the medal won. A maximum cashback reward is given based on the highest medal won.  

For a Gold medal the cashback will be £100 per booking, for a Silver medal £75 per booking and for a Bronze medal £50 per booking.

The airline is currently supporting Jessica Ennis, World and European heptathlon gold medalist and if customers book an all-inclusive Caribbean holiday for seven nights they can win cashback on their holiday if she wins a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal.

Twenty-five favourite all-inclusive Caribbean holidays are on offer with flights plus seven nights all-inclusive accommodation.

Holidays in Cancun including flights and seven night's all-inclusive accommodation are included for travel on selected dates between September 10 and October 14, 2012 (travel dates vary by offer).

Many other destinations are also on offer including Dominican Republic, St Lucia, Antigua, Barbados, Tobago and Grenada

The Caribbean holiday deals are available to book until July 24, 2012.

Visit ba.com/winningdeals for more information.

Twitter takes to skies: Thomson Airways is world’s first airline to name Dreamliner via crowd sourcing

Thomson reveals #nameourplane campaign, giving the public the chance to name the state-of-the-art aircraft and win a flight on board

Thomson Airways has announced it will become the world’s first airline to give the public the chance to name one of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners using Twitter.

Holidaymakers should keep their eyes peeled as Thomson Airways has added #nameourplane onto the side of one of their 737 aircrafts so that consumers can tweet an image or the location of where they spotted the hashtag, along with their reasons why they should get to name the new 787 Dreamliner. Those who don’t get a glimpse of the hashtagged 737 can still tweet their suggested name.

Chris Browne, Managing Director of Thomson Airways, comments: “The arrival of the 787 Dreamliners will be an exciting time for Thomson Airways and our customers. It was only fitting to name one of these revolutionary aircraft in an equally innovative way.

We’re delighted to be the first UK airline to fly the 787 Dreamliner. We feel that this is the perfect way to give something back to our customers and make one of them a part of our history as we celebrate our 50th anniversary.

Not only will the winner choose the name of our state-of-the-art aircraft, but they will also win a flight on-board where they can enjoy a host of ground-breaking features designed to make their in-flight experience more enjoyable.”

Entrants will have just 140 characters (including the hashtag) to make their case with any original twitpics of the tagged plane given special consideration. The winning applicant will be chosen by a panel of judges including: Chris Browne, Managing Director of Thomson Airways, Todd Nelp, Vice President of Sales for Europe, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Captain Stuart Gruber, Thomson Airways' Head of Training and the 787 test pilot.

Thomson Airways will operate the Dreamliner from four regional airports from 1st May 2013 – Manchester, London Gatwick, Glasgow and East Midlands, giving holiday makers across the UK the chance to experience the health and well-being benefits the aircraft has to offer. Beginning with long-haul routes to Mexico and Florida, plans are in development to take advantage of the potential reach of the aircraft in the future.

Airberlin's frequent flyers earn extra miles with Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels Europe, the company behind the Comfort, Quality and Clarion brands in Europe and part of Choice Hotels International, one of the largest and most successful lodging franchisors in the world, has launched a promotion enabling members of topbonus, airberlin's worldwide frequent flyer programme, to earn double miles when they stay at participating Choice Hotels properties.

Until September 19, 2012, topbonus members who present their topbonus card when checking-in will earn double topbonus award miles with every qualifying stay at all participating Choice Hotels properties in Europe, the U.S., Canada, Middle East, Mexico, Central America, South America, Australasia and the Caribbean*. 

Choice-brand hotels participating in the promotion include Quality Hotel Menton Mediterranee in France, Comfort Hotel Frankfurt City Centre in Germany, Clarion Suites Lisbon in Portugal and the Comfort Inn St Pancras-Kings Cross in London.

"We are delighted to work with airberlin and offer their topbonus members extra rewards when they stay at participating Choice Hotels properties," said Duncan Berry, UK CEO, Choice Hotels Europe.

Choice Hotels International recently announced that Choice Privileges, its own award-winning rewards programme, has now surpassed the 15 million-member threshold worldwide.

Originally launched in 1998 by Choice Hotels International, the Choice Privileges rewards programme has been available in Europe since 2008. To become a Choice Privileges member travellers can log on to www.ChoicePrivileges.eu or sign-up when checking in to a Choice-brand hotel. Members can earn points or miles at 5,500 locations around the world and also enjoy express check-in, extended check-out, and the opportunity to redeem points for free nights at thousands of properties throughout Europe, including Birmingham hotels, hotels in Kings Cross London and the Comfort Inn Vauxhall, as well as the Middle East, Australasia, North America, Canada, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Members can also redeem points at luxury partner hotels, such as Preferred Hotel Group and Barceló Hotels & Resorts, through airline partners including airberlin, American Airlines, Qantas, Delta, and Czech Airlines, and for free car hires from Avis and Budget.

*Available to members of the topbonus rewards program for airberlin airlines; for full terms and conditions visit www.choicehotels.com/en/choice-privileges/ce/airlinemiles

Admiral says the great summer getaway is getting us hot under the collar

Admiral recently questioned 2,000 motorists planning to go on car trips this summer and found that one in seven feel agitated about their upcoming trip. But what most stresses people out about car journeys?

At the top of the car insurance specialist's list was traffic jams, with almost half (46%) the respondents saying they find them stressful, followed by other road users (29%), getting lost (25%) and the sheer volume of traffic (20%). Rounding out the top five was taking the kids (17%). The other road users they said stress them out most were caravans (39%), lorries (36%) and motorbikes (21%).

As well as getting stressed, the survey showed a lack of planning on the part of many motorists, with almost one in five (18%) admitting they don’t plan their route beforehand at all and almost a third (29%) admitting they don’t check traffic reports before they head off.

A quarter forget to buy something and have to do it en route, therefore extending their journey. Almost one in ten (9%) miscalculate the time it takes to get ready to leave, meaning they head off later than expected, hitting all the traffic.

And the time people leave home could have an impact on how busy the roads get. The most popular time for planning to leave was between 8am and 10am with almost two in five (38%) choosing this time.

Dave Halliday, Admiral managing director, said: "The key to minimising stress on your car journey this summer is effective planning. Plan your route thoroughly and allow more than enough time for the journey. Be strict about it. Make sure you leave at the time you planned to and remember to factor in potential traffic jams and breaks. Also, with most people leaving around the same time, why not set off a little earlier or later.

"Worryingly, our survey showed that more than 2 in 5 motorists admit they don’t take sufficient breaks on driving tips. However much you want to reach your destination, it's not worth taking a risk. It’s better to get there slightly later than not at all."

Busy lives have an impact on people's planning as one in five say they don't plan because they have too much to juggle with life in general. Almost one in five (18%) say they prefer to be spontaneous, while a similar number say they are just too lazy to plan their journey properly.

Dave added: "It's also vital that people remember to put as much effort into planning their trip home as they do their trip away. The last thing you want to do is get rid of all that holiday relaxation by getting stressed on your return journey."

Admiral has created a video to help take the stress out of the great summer getaway. It features tips on how to beat the top 5 stress causing factors on summer journeys and expert advice from the Highways Agency on planning properly for your trip. The video can be viewed at: www.admiral.com/greatsummergetaway

Sunday, 22 July 2012

British Airways launch campaign to celebrate new Gatwick to Las Vegas flights

British Airways are offering special deals on three night stays at the top hotels on the Las Vegas strip for holidays booked by July 25, 2012 to celebrate the launch of the new London Gatwick to Las Vegas flights which begin on October 29,

British Airways are including a range of hotels in the offer to suit all budgets including the three-star Riviera Hotel and Casino which has just completed a multi-million dollar renovation and added a brand new ultra casino.

Four star hotels include The New Tropicana Las Vegas including which has opened a new beach club, nightclub and Mandara Spa this year and is also hosting the Dancing with the Stars: Live in Las Vegas from the popular US show.

Many famous five star hotels are also included in BA's range of holidays in Las Vegas, such as the Wynn Resort Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan, and The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino including flights and three night's room only accommodation. The five-star Encore and the famous Bellagio hotels are also in offer. The Bellagio, which has been made famous by films such as 'Ocean's Eleven' is in a great location on the strip and hosts the spectacular 'O' Cirque du Soleil show.

British Airways will be flying three times a week to Las Vegas bringing the total flights a week from London to ten, including the flights offered from Heathrow, which is more than any other carrier.

The three-times-a-week service will be operated by a three-cabin Boeing 777 offering a premium Club World cabin with fully flat beds.

Last month, the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas unveiled its brand new multi-billion dollar Terminal 3 which replaced the tired looking Terminal 2. The state-of-the-art international terminal took five years to build at a cost of $2.4 billion. The building is nearly two million square feet, and will offer the latest technology at check-in, creature comforts for passengers including a spa and several dining options, and almost 300 slot machines.

The offers must be booked by July 25, 2012 and are based on two sharing, including return British Airways flights from London Gatwick based on Wednesday departures in November and January, accommodation on a room only basis and all UK taxes. All holiday packages are ATOL protected.

Kuoni launches new iPad app

Kuoni has announced the launch of a new iPad app which allows users to enjoy fast and easy access to Kuoni’s range of brochures, videos, travel article feed and website with Kuoni’s new app. The free app is available to download now from Apple's App Store.

The app is automatically kept up to date with Kuoni's full range of brochures, which once downloaded can be read anytime, even when the user is not connected to the internet. Updates to previously downloaded brochures are flagged for the customer's convenience and, in addition, the app checks for new brochures each time it is started.

Developed by digital publishing specialists inbro, the app has already been downloaded and installed by hundreds of users, to whom it has delivered thousands of brochures. Users also have easy access to the Kuoni website directly from within the app.

Matt Gillam, inbro Director said: "The app's purpose is to provide the user with the convenience of a single point of contact with the Kuoni brand on their personal device, which is why it offers one-stop access to news, video and an easy to use website link as well as Kuoni's entire brochure content. We want the Kuoni brand to go to the customer rather than vice versa."

Matt Rooke, Ebusiness and Publishing Vice President at Kuoni added: "We want to make Kuoni as accessible as possible to all its customers and provide effective and efficient methods that feed the current demand. The app self-updates so we can rest assured that customers are getting the best quality of information on a daily basis, in a format that suits them. Also, iPad is a fast growing channel and we particularly like the way an app gives Kuoni a branded presence on our customers' devices."

For more information about the Kuoni app visit: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/kuoni-uk-brochures/id52008558....


Malmaison launches new summer menu

Malmaison, the luxury boutique hotel brand in the UK, has announced the launch of a new Summer Menu at its brassieres.

The menus have been created by Head Chef John Woodward and his team, who have added some seasonal delights and exciting new dishes, including a seared yellow fin tuna salad nicoise, Greek salad with grilled halloumi and watermelon and, in the mains, guests can enjoy Cajun swordfish, delectable grilled polenta and more.

In addition to the new dishes, the Malmaison hotel restaurants still include Malmaison's heartily portioned favourite Mal dishes, including the Mal's prawn cocktail, 'from the shore' smoked salmon blini, crème fraiche and caviar, the legendary Mal Burger and the delicious Cornish Crab fritters with avocado, as well as six different choices from the grill. In keeping with the overall quality of the menu, all of the beef on offer is naturally reared, grass-fed and dry aged on the bone for a minimum of twenty eight days.

The new dessert menu includes a fresh summer berry pavlova, raspberry 'Charlotte Royale', an array of delicious ice cream sundaes and an artisan cheese slate with crackers and chutney. An iced fresh fruit plate is also available for those looking for something a bit lighter.

Guests at the brasseries can choose from a range of liqueurs and rich ports to enjoy with their desserts. Also paired well with dessert is the Irish coffee, the French coffee and the Espresso Martini.

The new Summer Cocktail Menu offers fresh and summery treats, including a 'Brazilian Apple Blossom' , 'Coconut & Passion fruit Batidas', 'The Bees Knees' and the 'Rising Sun', made with Plata Tequila, Midori Lime, Tabasco and Sauvignon Blanc.

Malmaison offers twelve boutique hotels in the UK, all featuring super slinky rooms and suites, with super-fast broadband. Guests can enjoy visiting the high-octane bars - including bars in Oxford - stocked with cocktails and bubbly within the hotels and can dine on the best local produce in restaurants in Leeds, restaurants in Manchester and across the UK,

Etihad Airways adds Vietnam to global flight network

Etihad Airways will launch daily flights to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's commercial capital and most populous city, in October 2013.

It will be Etihad Airways' sixth online destination within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, joining Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and Singapore.

In conjunction with its partner airlines, the new Ho Chi Minh City service extends Etihad Airways' total flight network reach to 21 ASEAN destinations.

The new air services to Ho Chi Minh City are set to meet growing demand from Vietnam's rapidly expanding economy and will support the country's increasing commercial ties with the United Arab Emirates, and in particular Abu Dhabi.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways' President and Chief Executive Officer, said: "We are delighted to announce the introduction of Ho Chi Minh City to the Etihad Airways' global flight network. Like our home-base of Abu Dhabi, it is a vibrant, culturally rich and expanding city popular with business and leisure travellers.

"The route will be ideal to carry passengers and cargo point to point from the United Arab Emirates, as well as from Etihad Airways destinations across the Middle East, Europe, and North and South America."

The new flight services will further support joint UAE and Vietnam government ventures in areas of energy, infrastructure, tourism, and civil construction. UAE investment in Vietnam now stands at more than US $3 billion and two-way trade revenue approximately US $1.3 billion.

Mr Hogan added: "Etihad Airways has a strong South East Asian network and the addition of daily services to Ho Chi Minh City underlines our commitment to this region that continues to experience strong commercial growth across many industries, especially tourism, manufacturing and technology."

HE Tran Ngoc Thach, Ambassador of Vietnam to the UAE, said: "I believe that Etihad's direct flights to Vietnam will contribute to improving understanding between the two peoples of Viet Nam and the UAE. More and more tourists will come to Viet Nam and a greater number of tourists will come to the UAE. They will also help to increase trade and tourism between our two countries for the benefit of the people and countries."

Flights between Abu Dhabi and Ho Chi Minh City will begin on 1 October 2013 and will be served by a two class A330-200 aircraft. The aircraft will have 22 Pearl Business Class seats and 240 Coral Economy Class seats - a total 3,668 seats per week.

Etihad Airways codeshare with Vietnam Airlines already provides Etihad Airways passengers with daily connections through Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur to both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

Already in 2012 Etihad Airways has announced the launch of non-stop flights to Sao Paulo, Washington, D.C., Lagos, Addis Ababa and Ahmedabad.

These cities are part of the airline’s 10-year network growth plan which will see Etihad Airways fly to up to 100 destinations with a fleet of more than 150 aircraft by 2020.


Saturday, 21 July 2012

Endsleigh’s guide to travel insurance policies

With the holiday season just around the corner, Endsleigh is reminding people to take care when choosing travel insurance and advising them to ask more questions before buying their policy.

Everyone loves a bargain, and in the current economic climate it’s quite easy to find some fantastic holiday deals. It’s also easy to find cut-price travel insurance policies, however it’s vital that people know the implications of some of these policies and that it’s more important to get the right cover - not just opt for the cheapest price.

There are many aspects of travel insurance - ranging from limits on baggage, to loss of money, to delays - which cheaper policies may not cover.
It is also essential that the insurance policy covers the policy holder’s individual needs; otherwise it is effectively a waste of money.

Endsleigh Insurance has put together a guide to help you buy the right travel insurance policy:

Does the policy cover emergency medical treatment, hospitalisation and repatriation (being returned to the UK)?

Endsleigh recommends that a policy should provide around £2 million of emergency medical cover for European travel and £5 million for worldwide travel

If a policy doesn’t have the correct medical cover, then policy holders may well be expected to pay bills amounting to thousands of pounds. It’s particularly important that the policy covers return to the UK in the case of a medical emergency

Policy holders should remember to declare any medical conditions that they currently have, or the insurance policy could be treated as invalid and will not pay out

Does it cover scheduled airline failure?

It’s important to note that not all policies automatically cover the failure of scheduled airlines. Generally speaking, if policy holders are booked on a package holiday then this isn’t something they need to worry about. However, if they have booked a holiday and flight separately, then they should make sure they are covered for the collapse of the airline company

Does the policy cover personal liability?

It is important that the policy should include personal liability cover. In the event of someone being injured by the policy holder or if the policy holder accidentally damages someone else’s property, the injured party may make take action against you

Does it contain holiday cancellation cover?

Most policies will provide cover for cancellation in the event of being called for Jury service or being made redundant, or if there is an illness or a death in the family. However it is really important to know exactly what is covered and how much can potentially be claimed back

In the event of a family illness, policy holders should declare this to their insurer before going away. Some insurance companies will not cover cancellation fees if the cancellation is associated to something policy holders were already aware of when they took out the policy

Does it cover replacement of my personal possessions?

The maximum most insurers will pay out for an individual item is between £200 and £500, so if planning to travel with expensive items it is best to insure them separately. However, it is worth first checking household insurance policies as some will already provide coverage

It is important to bear in mind a realistic value for possessions included in travel plans

What excess do I pay if I need to make a claim?

Some cheap insurance policies carry an extortionate excesses figure
Excesses can range from zero to £500

The lower your excess the better for the policy holder in the event of a claim

If a policy is cheaper but has a high excess it doesn’t make it better value for money as it means it will cost you more to make a claim

Endsleigh Insurance offers a range of competitive travel insurance policies to suit individual needs. Policies can be tailored to provide cover whilst studying or to include certain more adventurous activities.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Relax in the capital with London spa days from I Need Pampering

I Need Pampering understands that the hustle and bustle of London can be draining. The large crowds and fast lifestyle mean that you may need to recharge your batteries once in a while. I Need Pampering has a selection of spa days in London, which offer an oasis of calm in an otherwise hectic capital city.

London spa days give you a chance to indulge in a luxury treatment or two. Many packages offer a selection of services so that you can pick and choose pamper sessions, allowing you to tailor make your perfect spa experience. Whether you choose a massage, facial, body scrub or wrap, the high-end treatments use the finest products and techniques so that you are left feeling rested and rejuvenated, ready to face city life once again.

Along with luxury treatments, London spa day packages also give you free rein of the facilities. You can choose to spend a few hours in the relaxation areas where the steam room, sauna and jacuzzi help you to relax and unwind. Many establishments also have gyms and exercise classes, which are perfect for those looking to blow away the cobwebs.

To make sure that your day is spent in utter indulgence, I Need Pampering displays only the very best London spa days. These are housed in 5* hotels and high-end spas in such upmarket locations as Central London, Knightsbridge and Mayfair. There are also spa packages available on the outskirts of the capital, ideal for those looking to escape the city.

Along with the London spa days, I Need Pampering also has a selection of packages across the UK. Wherever you live, you can treat yourself to a day of indulgence in a luxury retreat. There are also pamper days - a perfect gift idea - as well as spa breaks for couples, which are ideal for those looking to spend quality time with someone special.

Website: www.ineedpampering.com/


I Need Pampering was first established in 2005, displaying gift experiences from 5* spas and globally renowned hotels.

At I Need Pampering, expect to find spa days, short breaks and beauty treatments from upmarket luxury establishments alongside driving days, gift ideas and action experiences.

The continually growing team aim to provide customers with the best packages and products available, while also delivering top customer service.

Monday, 16 July 2012

New Experiential Harvest Adventures Tap the Undiscovered Andalusia

Building on an already extensive list of luxurious services and gastronomic offerings, private rental estate Cortijo El Carligto establishes itself as the premier luxury, culinary destination in La Axarquia, Malaga Province, with their new harvest holiday package and private supper club.

The little known Andalusian region of La Axarquia is a major agricultural producer, including olive oil and wine production established millennia ago. Cortijo El Carligto, a luxuriously renovated farmstead available for exclusive use rentals, sits hilltop with views over much of this agricultural land with vineyards and harvestable gardens of its own. The owners have developed inside contacts with local chefs, winemakers, farmers and olive millers to offer experiential opportunities for clients to engage in the harvest and learn about the unique history and traditions of Spanish wine and oil production.

The harvest package includes wine tastings at local bodegas, in-house harvest meals at the estate using fresh seasonal produce grown by the chef and the hosts, and guides to the many local harvest fiestas for a truly Spanish take on the harvest. The owners offer further opportunities for exploration in the area by tapping into the rich cultural and culinary history of the area with such things as a Three Cultures tasting menu and tapas tours, and guides to local gastronomic routes, museums and historic food markets.

Many of the hands on wine harvest activities are scheduled for between mid-August and early September, but the Carligto hosts can cater to interested parties outside of these times as well; the olive harvest can last from October all the way through February.

Until now, only private guests had access to the top rate chef service at El Carligto, but Carligto Chef David Palacios has begun organising a pop-up restaurant with service at the private estate for occasional supper club gatherings by invitation. Presenting these new culinary offerings, Carligto owner and General Manager Alan Hazel asserts, “There’s really no other rental property or business in the entire region doing what we do here at Cortijo El Carligto.”

NEW Air Flight Gel eases leg aches, pains and travel worries

Sitting for a long time on long haul flights or lengthy coach and car journeys can play havoc with your blood and lymph circulation systems. This leads to aching and swollen feet, ankles and legs. More worrying, such journeys can leave some people at risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) where blood clots occur in the deep veins of the thigh or leg.

Help is at hand for travellers this summer in the form of Air Flight Gel which has been specially formulated to help aid circulation, prevent swollen legs and ankles and reduce aches and pains caused by sitting for long periods on long haul flights and coach journeys where movement is restricted.

Air Flight Gel formulation is able to penetrate deep into the skin for long-lasting periods. It comprises a synergistic blend of pure essential oils selected for their properties: together they work more effectively than they would individually.

• Lemon essential oil is used for its ability to thin the blood. It is a great tonic for the circulation and is helpful in reducing the risk of thrombosis.
• Lavender can enhance and boost the lymphatic system thus easing aches and pains.
• Cypress and Patchouli both help to boost and improve poor circulation.
• Juniper oil helps reduce fluid retention and oedema (swelling) in the legs and ankles
• Orange is known for its anti-coagulant properties (meaning it may help avoid blood clots forming) and is also helpful in combatting swelling and fluid retention.

“Swollen, aching legs, ankles and feet are the bane of travellers’ lives but these symptoms can be minimised by boosting the circulation and encouraging drainage of the lymphatic system,” says Elizabeth Somapala, creator of the Air Flight Gel. “The Air Flight Gel has taken 12 years to research and develop,” she continues. “A number of my clients who are frequent travellers have given me excellent feedback that the Gel has brought them relief from their travel troubles.”

How to apply
Apply a small amount on the palm of your hands and stroke it onto your legs in an upward movement. Apply straight onto skin or over tights. Use it both before and during your journey continuing for a few days after you arrive at your destination.

Where to buy
Air Flight Gel is available from www.esskincare.co.uk. It costs £22.95 for 75ml.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Citadel 5 Family Tent Stands Firm for 6 Months In Wild Country Weather Trial

Withstanding nine months of extreme weather conditions – the Citadel 5 Family Tent from Wild Country has proved itself a master in the art of endurance.

Erected in October 2011, the tent has survived some of nature’s most vicious attempts to tear it down, including winds of up to 65 mph, heavy snow, deep frosts and the deluge of rain in spring.

Situated in a field in the Peak District near the Manifold Valley, the Citadel 5 Tent which was designed for strength and stability, undertook an ‘all weather trial,’ to see how it would withstand the harsh weather the exposed location could throw at it.

Still standing more than half a year later, the five person family tent has endured temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius, more than eight inches of snowfall in one day, gale force winds and the wettest April on record for over a century – without maintenance.

Some of the extreme weather is featured in a video of the Wild Country’s Citadel 5 tent’s all weather trail, at http://bit.ly/LnvarC

Wild Country is a sister brand of world-renowned tent manufacturer Terra Nova, whose products are trusted in the most extreme environments, including Mount Everest.

Carolyn Budding, a director of Wild Country Tents, said: “It’s an incredible achievement for this family tent and we are really pleased it has lived up to its maximum potential and stood the test of time.

“The Citadel 5 Tent has proved it offers a best in class service and when pitched correctly can survive the worst the British weather can throw at it, offering a family tent that will stand the test of time.”

Simple to pitch, the Citadel 5 has a large spacious interior, and works well as a strong family tent, suitable for use from spring through to autumn.

The tent has been designed to offer maximum strength and stability. High quality specially treated steel poles offer superior performance in poor weather conditions and reinforced corner sections provide maximum wind resistance.

Four reinforced corner peg points, stitched with Kevlar for increased strength and durability, and 'jumbo' pegs offer a secure anchor to help increase pitching performance. The numerous guylines are securely attached to the tent with Hypalon fabric - the fabric used in expedition river rafts.

A large front entry gives the main entrance a double duty, acting as a shield against rain or a canopy to protect against sun rays.

There are plenty of ventilation points around the tent. All doors have full mesh screen to provide both extra ventilation and keep bugs at bay and there is also a side entry door, which can be used for extra ventilation or as a wet weather entrance.

As well as the all weather trial, viewers can see a range of videos, including pitching guides at Wild Country’s You Tube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/WildCountryTents

Priced at £500, the Citadel 5 Tent is available to buy direct from Terra Nova Equipment at http://bit.ly/JN8eqq or for local stockists see www.terra-nova.co.uk

Tel: 01773 837373 to find out more or see the full Wild Country range at http://www.wild-country.co.uk

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Escape The Rain With a Holiday in Borneo

Freedom Asia suggests the lush tropical forests and pristine white sand beaches of Borneo as a paradise-like escape from Britain’s rainy summer.

After the wettest June on record, it comes as no surprise that millions of Britons are heading overseas this summer to escape the downpours. According to Abta, as many as 13 million Britons are heading abroad in July and August after travel companies saw a 20% surge in holiday searches in June.

Although many holidays will be taken close to home in southern Europe, Freedom Asia advises holidaymakers seeking a slice of pure paradise to look further a field to the Malaysian island of Borneo.

Borneo holidays offer something for everyone. Nature enthusiasts will love admiring orang-utans careering through the jungle or glimpsing baby turtles hatch on the beach; romantics will adore evening strolls on sunset-lit Castaway-style beaches; adventure seekers can trek through rainforests, hike up Mount Kinabalu or scuba dive with reef sharks, turtles and thousands of tropical fish.

Holidays in Borneo don’t have to cost a fortune. Freedom Asia offers tours from just £259 per person through to £1015 and accommodation from £34 to £66 per person, per night thus catering to all budgets.

The two states of Sabah and Sarawak receive far fewer overseas visitors than mainland Malaysia. Therefore the landscape remains untouched, wild and natural. Beaches offer a slice of paradise, rainforests are filled with flora and fauna unique to Borneo and traditions and cultures remain unchanged and continue as they have done for thousands of years.

Freedom Asia tours take travellers right into the heart of Borneo and into this unique landscape and culture. Tours include swimming in hot springs surrounded by tropical forests, travelling along winding rivers via longboat, exploring giant caves, walking high up through the rainforest canopy, trips to turtle island, visits to traditional temples and meeting orang-utans face-to-face.

The best time to visit Borneo is from March to October when temperatures hover around 30°c and the rainy season is nowhere to be seen.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Treyn Launches Exciting New Rail & Stay Brochure For Independent Travellers

Rail holiday specialist Treyn has launched its new unescorted rail holiday product, known as Rail & Stay. The programme, which has a dedicated 24-page brochure, has been designed for travellers who want an independent rail holiday without a group or Tour Manager, but with the same value and confidence that all the hotel accommodation and rail travel has been checked and approved by Treyn.

Key Facts:

9 European city break destinations

Ideal for travellers who prefer unescorted short breaks

The Treyn brand value, and confidence when travelling

Lead-in price of £195 per person with inclusive rail travel and accommodation

Treyn’s new Rail & Stay programme offers great value European city breaks by rail to nine destinations: Paris, Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam, Berlin, Venice, Rome, Cologne and Nice. Each holiday includes rail travel from St Pancras International in London - although rail travel from the traveller's local destination can also be arranged - and hotel accommodation.

The brochure leads in at £195 per person for a two-night city break to Brussels including bed-and-breakfast accommodation at the three-star Park Inn Brussels Midi hotel, which has a city-centre location, and return Eurostar rail travel from St Pancras International.

“This is a fantastic value product which will appeal to those who are looking for a simple, convenient and cost effective way to enjoy a rail holiday to a European city destination. It also appeals to those who trust the Treyn brand and who wish to experience Europe with us, but who are looking for the flexibility of traveling unescorted. We hope agents will really get behind this great new product,” said Tony Byrne, National Sales Manager at Great Rail Journeys and Treyn.

For bookings and further information on Treyn please call 01904 734 940, or visit www.railholidays.com

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

That's Travel: Leeds-Bradford, London and Birmingham Amongst Most...

That's Travel: Leeds-Bradford, London and Birmingham Amongst Most...: Drivers in Yorkshire face the most clogged rush-hour roads, according to a new report published today. A study into traffic times across E...

Leeds-Bradford, London and Birmingham Amongst Most Congested Cities in Europe

Drivers in Yorkshire face the most clogged rush-hour roads, according to a new report published today. A study into traffic times across Europe by satellite navigation firm TomTom found the Leeds-Bradford area is the most congested in Britain.

Drivers in the Yorkshire conurbation spend an astonishing 86 hours a year stuck in traffic jams. They endure journey times up to 63 per cent longer than normal in morning peak periods and 60 per cent longer in the evening rush-hour.

Overall, congestion in the Leeds-Bradford area slows journey times down by an average of 28 per cent.

That's longer than in London, where traffic jams delay journeys by an average of 27 per cent and up to 50 per cent in the evening rush-hour. Drivers in the capital spend 74 hours a year stuck in traffic jams.

The TomTom Congestion Index looked at 31 cities across Europe with populations of more than 800,000. The report can be downloaded here:


The two Yorkshire areas have suffered a five per cent increase in congestion since last year, the biggest of anywhere in Europe. Drivers there face a delay of 36 minutes for every hour they drive in peak periods.

Leeds-Bradford has risen to seventh in a table of most traffic clogged cities across Europe, up from 19th in 2011.

Drivers in Birmingham spend 73 hours a year stuck in traffic jams. Traffic in the West Midlands city is delayed by an average of 21 per cent because of congestion with delays of up to 28 minutes per hour during peak periods.

Birmingham has risen from 23rd in the TomTom congestion ranking last year to 19th in 2012.

The worst days for congestion are Tuesday and Thursday in Leeds-Bradford and Birmingham, while Mondays and Thursdays are worst in London.

Warsaw in Poland was named the most congested city in Europe with journey times up to 89 per cent longer in morning rush-hour and an average of 42 per cent longer at all times.

The index is based on real travel times data captured by vehicles driving the entire European road network and compiled from five trillion anonymous data measurements on TomTom's servers.

The overall congestion level for all cities analysed in Europe is 24 per cent - meaning peak journeys are a quarter slower than when traffic is flowing freely.

Nick Cohn, TomTom's Head of Congestion Research said: "It is amazing that Leeds-Bradford has overtaken London in our congestion ranking, with journeys in the area taking up to 63 per cent longer in the morning rush-hour.

"It shows that congestion is not limited to the capital, but is rapidly spreading around the UK's regional cities."

Harold Goddijn, chief executive officer of TomTom, added: “Over the years, with the help of our customers, we have built the largest and most accurate database of travel times in the world.

“When we combine this travel database with our detailed real-time traffic information and routing technology, we can pin point congestion, but also guide drivers away from congested areas onto faster routes.

“Even when only a percentage of drivers use a different and faster route, the available capacity on the entire road network increases, which benefits all drivers”.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Time for a holiday?

Thomson sees web searches soar as Brits look to escape the wettest ever June

While it didn’t take a genius to work out that the period from April to June has been the wettest ever, the meteorologists confirmed it last weekend, and hits on the Thomson website surged. With the long term forecast still looking bleak, it looks as if sun lovers will need to go abroad if they want to soak up any rays.

Thomson saw another very strong weekend in terms of bookings, to top off a month of high demand. Holiday searches for the month of June were up nearly 20% on the same period last year, showing that people are desperate to leave the rain in the UK behind and head off to warmer climates.

“The constant rain is driving all of us around the bend, so it’s no wonder that so many people are looking to head off to get some sunshine”, says Nathan Timmins Head of Online Marketing Thomson.

“As the Mediterranean enjoys temperatures in the late 20s and early 30s we’ve barely seen any sunshine this summer. Over the last month the Balearics, Spain, Greece, Tunisia and Morocco have proved popular as Brits look to escape to sandy beaches, beautiful weather and resorts that they know and love. With rain forecast for the rest of the week we imagine that the website will keep attracting more users, as people look to research and book their holidays or just get some inspiration and take their mind off the rain!”

Customers looking for holidays in destinations where rain is practically unheard of should head to Cyprus, Tunisia, the Costa del Sol or Egypt all of which have less than 3mm average rainfall for July.

Victoria Bacon ABTA Head of Communication said: “The UK is a beautiful country with exceptional holiday appeal but the weather this year has been setting records for all the wrong reasons and it is no surprise that millions of us are looking to head off overseas for more reliable weather and high temperatures. British holidaymakers will also get a pleasant surprise in their favourite Eurozone destinations with the pound 10% stronger than last year. It’s important that people book sooner rather than later as late offers are proving popular.”

National Trust opens new Giant's Causeway visitors centre

A giant transformation awaits visitors to Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site with the opening of a new state-of-the-art visitor centre at the Giant's Causeway.

With panoramic rooftop views of the coastline available for the first time, the award-winning building is part of an £18.5 million investment - financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the National Trust - to offer a new gateway to this iconic site.

The new visitor centre was designed by Dublin based architects heneghan peng.

Inspired by the site's 40,000 hexagonal basalt stones and the stories of legendary giants Finn McCool and Benandonner, the main feature of the centre is its 186 basalt columns made from locally quarried stone. 

The centre has also been designed to sit seamlessly within the landscape without impacting the view from the stones.

Already achieving the BREEAM 'excellent' standard, the centre has been built using the latest thinking in sustainable design and materials.

It is also jammed full of the latest technologies to enhance visitors' enjoyment of this very special place.

The roof of the building is planted with local grasses grown from seed collected from the surrounding area so that the centre integrates with the landscape and offers a haven for local wildlife.

Trails and pathways throughout the site have also been upgraded to offer improved access and views of the spectacular scenery.

Exhibitions, audio guides, trails and cliff top walks, are all part of the project to showcase the stories and science of the remarkable basalt columns to people of all ages. 

New interactive displays and activities inside the visitor centre include an animation of the legend of Finn McCool and an innovative hand-held audio guide.

Visitors can also discover the science behind how the site was created and read the engaging stories of local people connected to the site.

John McKay, aged 96, worked as a 'flag' boy on the tram that used to bring visitors to Giant's Causeway.

He said:  "I have lived all my life only a stone's throw away from the Giant's Causeway. You could say it has always been in my blood. 

"There is something very special about this place that just has a hold over you. 

"I am honoured and privileged to have my story told at the new centre and to see my great grandson dressed as I was as a flag boy will be a cherished memory."

Heather Thompson, National Trust Director for Northern Ireland, said: "It was extremely important for us to create visitor facilities worthy of this unique, legendary visitor attraction. 

"As well as looking the part, we wanted to ensure the building was sustainably built using the latest technologies wherever possible.

"Currently 600,000 people visit the stones each year, and the new centre will enable us to increase capacity by 30 per cent. 

"This will not only provide a major boost to the regional economy, but we will now employ 150 local people and 30 volunteers.

"This is a significant milestone for the National Trust in Northern Ireland and is the culmination of years of working in partnership with stakeholders in the community, the business sector, the government and political arenas." 

The £18.5 million project has taken two years to complete. 

The National Trust looks after over 250,000 hectares of countryside, 720 miles of coastline and hundreds of historic places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For more information on the charity's conservation work and ideas for things to do in Northern Ireland go to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk

Rezidor announces the Park Inn by Radisson Odintsovo

Rezidor, one of the fastest growing hotel companies worldwide and a member of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, announces the Park Inn by Radisson Odintsovo Greater Moscow. The property, featuring 122 rooms, is scheduled to open in Q3 2012.

"Russia and its capital city Moscow are a key development market for our dynamic mid-market brand Park Inn by Radisson. Our brand portfolio in the country now comprises 25 hotels with 6,300 rooms in operation or under development, and we are looking forward to further strengthening our Park Inn by Radisson footprint in Russia," said Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor.

The Park Inn by Radisson Odintovo in Greater Moscow will be located seven kilometres west of Moscow's outer ring road in 'Russia's Silicon Valley', Skolkovo, adjacent to the planned high technology business innovation centre in the already active city of Odintsovo. The location is in the centre of the city, which is the municipal capital of the Odintsovo District.

Besides 122 comfortable and colourful rooms, the hotel will offer an all-day dining restaurant, a lobby bar and meeting facilities, a gym and enclosed parking bays. The hotel is currently the closest international property to Moscow's Vnukovo International Airport just eight kilometres to the south. Vnukovo Airport is a growing airport handling more than ten million passengers per year and with direct flights to Europe on major airlines such as Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.

The Skolkovo Innovation Centre, scheduled to start coming online in 2014, will be an ultramodern commercial and educational complex created to encourage science and technology based companies, focused in fields such as information communication, biomedicine, space, nuclear, and energy efficiency technologies. Adjacent to the hotel is also Sberbank's National Corporate University. Professionals, corporate business travellers, teams developing and engaging with the Skolkovo innovation centre and airport passengers will form the primary client mix of the hotel.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Etihad Airways kicks off flights to Nigeria with Manchester City FC aircraft

Etihad Airways' has started its six flights a week service between the airline’s Abu Dhabi home-base and the Nigerian city, Lagos.

To celebrate the new service, and Nigeria's love of football, Etihad Airways has operated its iconic sky-blue A330-200 aircraft, painted in Manchester City Football Club's famous colours, for the launch flight.

An Etihad Airways delegation, led by Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Baumgartner, will be met at Murtalla Muhammed International Airport by H.E. Ibrahim Auwalu, Nigerian Ambassador to the UAE; H.E. Rashed Naser Musabbah Al Dhaheri, the UAE Ambassador to Nigeria; and senior officials from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

Mr Baumgartner said: "We are delighted to launch Etihad Airways flights to Lagos and our first passenger destination in West Africa. This is a momentous occasion in Etihad Airways history as we expand our flight network in Africa and increase ties between the UAE and Nigeria."

During the visit to Lagos senior Etihad Airways executives will meet government officials and local tourism representatives as well as host an evening reception to celebrate the new flights.

The six flights per week to Lagos will be operated by an A330-200 aircraft, configured to carry 22 passengers in Pearl Business class and 240 passengers Coral Economy class.

The service builds on the airline’s existing flights to Cairo, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Khartoum, Nairobi and Tripoli.

Etihad Airways is lead sponsor of Manchester City Football Club. The "Blue Moon Rising" aircraft was unveiled in 2011 and is one of the many elements of Etihad Airways’ sponsorship of the English Premier League club.

The Etihad Airways logo has been on the Manchester City shirt since 2009 and the airline became naming sponsor of the club's Etihad Stadium and Campus in August 2011.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Breathalyser warning for French tourists

Drivers heading to France have sent sales of breathalyser kits soaring - as they seek to avoid falling foul of new motoring laws.

Halfords has sold double its annual sales target in just one week and is selling one kit every minute of the day. The leading car accessory retailer has rushed extra stock into stores to cope with the unprecedented demand.
The new legislation came into force on Sunday July 1st and will affect anyone intending to drive in France this summer.

Halfords last week launched a campaign to make drivers aware of the new laws as a survey revealed a worrying six out of ten (59%) Brits travelling to France, weren’t aware that they now had to carry two NF approved breathalysers at all times. Failure to do so results in an on the spot 11 Euro fine.

French Police have warned they will be carrying out random checks on drivers crossing into France via ferries and through the Channel Tunnel to enforce the new rules.

The Breathalyser is the latest in a long and growing list of items that drivers are legally required to carry when travelling abroad. The list includes high visibility jackets, warning triangles, spare bulb kits, headlight converters and GB stickers - all incur on the spot penalties if motorists are discovered to be without them.

The survey showed a widespread lack of knowledge of foreign driving laws. One in five (20%) drivers hadn't fitted headlamp convertors. Whilst over a quarter (26%) of motorists who wear glasses to drive, didn't have a spare pair with them, which is a legal requirement in Spain.

One in ten (9%) of us wrongly presume the alcohol limit for drivers in Europe will be higher than at home, when it’s actually considerably lower in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

With a third of Britons saying they would allow a 17 year old to driver their car unaware that they’d be breaking the law because the legal age for driving in France is 18.

AlcoSense NF Single Use Breathalyser (Twin Pack) Retail Price: £5.99

Halfords’ Guide to Driving Abroad is a pocket size guide which provides handy hints on continental driving and guidelines to road rules in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The free guides are available to download from www.halfords.com

The French drink-driving limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, substantially less than the UK limit of 80mg. Motorists found with a level of between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol in their blood can be fined 135 euros (£112) and lose six out of 12 points on their driving licence. A driver who is over the limit in France also risks a