Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Etihad Airways set to expand in South America

Etihad Airways is keen to expand its footprint in South America, said President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan.

Mr Hogan said that the airline is currently in discussions with South American-based carriers about potential commercial partnerships.

Etihad Airways currently has 38 codeshare partnerships with airlines around the globe, resulting in a combined network of 323 destinations, more than any other Middle Eastern airline.

Beyond its own organic growth, codeshare partnerships and equity stakes are a significant and growing part of the airline’s expansion strategy. Etihad Airways holds a 30 per cent stake of airberlin, 40 per cent of Air Seychelles, 3 per cent of Aer Lingus and 10 per cent of Virgin Australia.

The airline will launch its first route in South America on June 1, 2013, with daily non-stop flights between Sao Paulo, Brazil and its home base of Abu Dhabi, the capitol of the United Arab Emirates.

Etihad Airways' service will also provide seamless connections from Brazil to the airline's global network, offering connectivity over Abu Dhabi to markets in the Gulf Co-operation Council, the Indian Subcontinent and Asia.

Mr Hogan spoke of the significance of the new route, in particular the economic impact. "Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, now ranking as the sixth largest since overtaking the UK in 2011. Bi-lateral trade between Brazil and the UAE is valued at nearly US$3 billion annually, with authorities aiming to lift this to US$10 billion within five years.

"There are 25 major Brazilian companies with offices in Abu Dhabi. Mubadala, the development company of the Government of Abu Dhabi, last year signalled its intent to begin investments in Brazil, valued at up to US$13 billion.

"According to the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Brazil trade volumes with the Arab world grew by 28 per cent in 2011 to reach US$25 billion. This is forecasted to grow by a further 10-15% this year.

"In addition to supporting the growing ties between Brazil and the Middle East, this new route complements Etihad Airways' recent expansion in North Asia, including the recent introduction of services to Chengdu and Shanghai and the upcoming increase to daily Tokyo services with connections to Nagoya from April 2013.

"With some of the fastest connecting flight times to China and Japan, Brazil's largest and fifth largest trade partner, respectively, Etihad Airways is providing vital air links between the world's major emerging markets."

Mr Hogan was in Sao Paulo late last week to meet prominent local diplomats, travel industry executives, media and corporate representatives.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, began operations in 2003, and in 2011 carried 8.3 million passengers. From its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport, Etihad Airways serves 86 passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Australia and North America and Asia, including Japan flights. The airline has a fleet of 67 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and 100 aircraft on order, including 10 Airbus A380s, the world's largest passenger aircraft. Etihad Airways also holds equity investments in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus. For more information, please visit:

Europcar's lost property reveals the secret life of its hire cars

Europcar the leader in car hire services in Europe for business and leisure users, hires out thousands of vehicles every day. But the variety of weird and wonderful items left by customers never fails to puzzle Europcar staff.

Unsurprisingly, sunglasses, CDs and loose change are the most common items left in Europcar vehicles. However, some customers carry more intriguing cargo when they travel, as Europcar’s lost property department has recently reported. Some of the more unusual items found in Europcar vehicles include 30 plants, two 6x10 ft. oil paintings, a live mouse in a cage, hedge trimmer and ashes in an urn.

The urn of ashes was found when a vehicle was returned by a car hire at Belfast airport customer. The ashes of the customer's mother had been brought over from South Africa and the customer was relieved to have them back so that she could scatter them at her mother's birth place.

And all the glasses that go unclaimed are recycled as part of Europcar's 'Go Green' pledge.

Perhaps the best item was left behind by a car hire in Blackpool customer. It was a life-size dummy, dressed as an old lady and left in the boot of a Ford Focus. The Europcar driver had the fright of his life when he thought he’d found a body.

"Judging from our lost property, our vehicles have a tale to tell," said Ken McCall, Managing Director, Europcar UK Group. "But our staff always go out of their way to reunite our customers with their forgotten items, no matter how bizarre."

Europcar is the leader in car rental services in Europe. Present in 140 countries, the company provides customers with access to the world's largest vehicle rental network through its own operations, franchisees and partnerships. With 6,500 employees committed to delivering customer satisfaction and an average fleet of 190,000 vehicles, Europcar is conscious of its corporate citizenship responsibilities. Winner of the first World Travel Award recognizing the World's Leading Green Transport Solutions Company, Europcar also was honoured with the Award in 2010 and 2011. Europcar is owned by Eurazeo.

For more information:

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER (UK) Photography Competition 2013 launch

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLER (UK) — Photography Competition 2013 launch

LONDON (18 September 2012) —A year after National Geographic Traveller launched its inaugural photography competition, it's back on the lookout for the next generation of travel photographers.

As a leader in breathtaking and you-are-there photography from across the world, National Geographic Traveller is inviting UK photographers to send in their vision of the world.

In association with the Utah Office of Tourism, Delta Air Lines and Fujifilm, this new talent search is inviting entrants to submit their best digital photographs in six categories: Action, Colour, Faces, Rural, Urban, and Wildlife.

The winner will receive a photographic commission for two to Utah in an eight-night fly-drive, taking in Zion National Park, the Park City region and Monument Valley, courtesy of The Utah Office of Tourism and Delta Air Lines.

The winner will also receive a Fujifilm X-Pro-1 camera and 35mm lens worth nearly £2,000.
Six runners up — the category winners — will receive a Fujifilm X-S1. RRP: £599.

Winning images will also be showcased in National Geographic Traveller (UK) and at The Active Travel Show (17-20 January 2013).

The judging panel consists of Carol Enquist, National Geographic’s photo editor; Jonathan Briggs, editor of the British Institute of Professional Photography’s (BIPP) The Photographer magazine; Fujifilm; and Chris Hudson, National Geographic Traveller's art editor.

Chris Hudson said: “Last year's photography competition was a resounding success and set the standard with thousands of professional and amateur photographers entering from across the UK and Ireland. If I was to give one bit of advice, I'd ask entrants to ensure their submitted image accurately reflects the captured moment. I can't wait to see what our readers will submit this year.”

The closing date is the 7 December 2012 at 17:00 GMT.

Find us on Facebook:
And Twitter:

National Geographic Traveller (UK) is published under license by Absolute Publishing Ltd (APL), from the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. It became the 15th local-language edition when it was launched in December 2010. The magazine is also available in China, Spain, Russia, the Netherlands, Israel, Poland, Latin America, Armenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Indonesia, Romania and South Africa. The 180-page travel and lifestyle magazine is packed full of you-are-there photography, authentic travel experiences and inspiring narratives, all focused on the brand’s theme “All Travel, All the Time.”

National Geographic Traveler (USA) is the world’s most widely read travel magazine, created in 1984. It championed sustainable travel before it was cool and, eight times annually, celebrates journeys that are about place, experience, culture, authenticity, living like the locals and great photography. It makes a distinction between tourism and travel and stresses inquisitive, not acquisitive, trips. It employs storytelling and outstanding photography to inspire readers to pick up and go, eschewing fashion and fluff in favour of articles that offer a strong sense of place, inspiring narratives that make readers take trips, and solid service information to help them plan those trips.

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organisations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society’s mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. National Geographic reflects the world through its magazines, television programs, films, music and radio, books, DVDs, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, interactive media and merchandise.

National Geographic magazine, the Society’s official journal, published in English and 33 local-language editions, is read by more than 40 million people each month. The National Geographic Channel reaches 370 million households in 34 languages in 168 countries. National Geographic Digital Media receives more than 15 million visitors a month. National Geographic has funded more than 9,600 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geography literacy. For more information, visit

Premier Inn reports rise of virtual vacations

Premier Inn has revealed the results of a new report which suggests that by the year 2050, the nation will be able to feel, taste and smell their holiday whilst sitting at their desks. Brits will have drinks served by robots and will holiday with their great-great grandparents, according to the report by the UK’s best value* hotel chain, which also indicates the ultimate demise of the two-week package holiday.

Premier Inn has explored a range of emerging trends, developments and advancements in technology to understand the future of UK travel, with some radical changes being forecast. 

Key concepts of the 'Holiday of the Future' report include:

- 'Try-before-you-buy' will become a new consumer experience for travellers, thanks to a fully immersive, multi-sensory 3D version of the internet. Brits will be able to sample every aspect of their get-away, from the beach to the bar.

- Extreme holiday patterns will become commonplace as the duration of holidays become more fluid. An increase in part-time careers and variable working hours will result Brits taking anything from three day to three months breaks.

- Advancements in technology will see robots in regular use across the travel and service industries.

- Digital wallpaper and flexible, digitally-controlled interiors including movable walls will be added to the hotel rooms.

- Global travel will become regulated as a preventive measure to global warming, leading to an increase in UK holidays as the nation aims to keep within their quota.

- Multi-generational holidays will increase as people live longer, have children younger and become a part of super-extended families.

- Niche trips with like-minded people from across the country will replace the traditional beach holiday as the growth of social media will enable special interest groups to not only meet online, but holiday together.

Claire Haigh, Premier Inn spokeswoman, commented: "Holidays are an important part of our lives and something we all look forward to, so it's pleasing to see that they will still exist as a form of leisure activity in 2050. We are always keen to look forward to see what our guests will want in the future and the idea of being able to try out our holidays before we travel is a fascinating way to ensure we have the best possible breaks."

Rohit Talwar, Founder and CEO of Fast Future, who compiled the research said: "We explored a range of concepts that could shape the future of UK travel and focused in particular on how technology might be used to transform every part of the experience - from booking through to personalisation of the in-room experience.

"While technology will make it possible to experience the world from our living rooms, we believe this will only increase our desire to go out and experience the world first-hand - using technology to help us make the most appropriate choices."

Monday, 17 September 2012

Jumeirah Beach Hotel announces official launch date of 360 Lounge and Club

Jumeirah, the luxury global hospitality group and member of Dubai Holding, has announced details of the new-look 360 Lounge and Club ahead of its official launch on 11 October 2012.

World-renowned superstar DJ Hernan Cattatneo will be headlining the launch, followed by Danny Daze and The Revenge, brought by Audio Tonic on Friday 12 October.

Dubai's most famous nightlife venue will now occupy two levels of indoor and outdoor space with added bar areas, tables and seating as well as an elevated DJ console on the first floor. The new stylish and minimalistic design concept incorporates a contemporary colour scheme, chic furnishings and a state-of-the-art lighting concept. An integrated music system enables two DJs to perform at the same time on each level while first floor restrooms and a glass staircase suspended above the water have also been added.

A new cocktail list inspired by a musical theme includes drinks such as Nu Funk, Sunshine Soul and Unforgettably Retro, whilst a Pan-Asian menu is also on offer.

360's prime location, at the end of its very own pier, makes it the perfect spot for sundowners and stargazing while overlooking the city’s ever changing skyline. The name of the venue comes from its 360 views of Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the Arabian Gulf and Dubai's city centre.

Each night features different acts from Resident DJ Tristain Bain, AudioTonic, Infusion, Restrospect and Must Have Soul.

One In Four People Don’t Know Where Malta Is

Do you know where Malta is? Recent findings from highlighted that one in four people don't know where to find the Mediterranean island, and despite 1900 people in the UK searching Google for "Where is Malta?" every month, the nation is not learning. Incorrect answers from the research included the Red Sea, Atlantic Sea, the Baltic Sea and simply “I don't know”.

Find out exactly where Malta is with the ‘Where is Malta?’ infographic from here.

The Malta Survey looked at how the general public perceives Malta as a tourist destination. Other surprising findings include nearly 8% of people thinking Malta isn’t its own country, 19% believing Malta uses the old Lira instead of the Euro and a third didn’t recognise any names of the major Maltese tourist resorts.

With its Mediterranean climate, stunning coastline and rich history, Malta is one of the hottest destinations for Brits to holiday. In fact, visitors from the UK make up the largest part of the tourism market in Malta. As such, you’d expect us to know a bit more than we do about the country!

Lawrence Hunt, COO of says “At the moment we are the UK’s No. 1 tour operator for Malta and it’s astonishing to learn that so many people lack a basic understanding of this exciting destination.”

Despite poor geography knowledge, there were top marks in sociology. Most participants correctly assumed it is couples who primarily holiday in Malta, and one in three people knew Malta is a great place for scuba diving. Nearly half of the participants recognised Malta’s important military history with 75% saying they would consider it for a cultural holiday.

But some elements of Malta, such as its popular nightlife scene, remain a mystery to most. Over 80% of people had never heard of Isle of MTV, a free, 50,000 capacity concert held in Malta since 2007, with headline acts from Will.I.Am to Lady Gaga. Participants were also unfamiliar with Paceville, the clubbing area of Malta. To improve their knowledge, has created a Malta Nightlife guide.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Aer Lingus to sponsor Ulster Rugby Club

Ulster Rugby's flying start to the season has been given a turbo charged boost with the signing of a major new sponsorship deal with Aer Lingus.

Details of the two-year support package were unveiled at a signing ceremony held at Ravenhill.

As part of the new relationship, Aer Lingus will provide Ulster Rugby with air travel as well as supporting the development of travel and accommodation packages for Ulster supporters to away matches.

Declan Kearney, Aer Lingus Director of Communications said the link-up with Ulster Rugby represented a significant sporting first for the company: "As the official airline of Ulster Rugby we are absolutely delighted to have the responsibility of providing transport from George Best Belfast City Airport and Dublin Airport for the playing squad, the support team and fans, throughout our extensive UK and European network.

"The broadening of our sponsorship horizons through this exciting new Ulster Rugby deal reflects a continued commitment by Aer Lingus to the local community and complements our other community support such as sponsorship of the Dublin GAA team and of the Galway Hurlers supporters club.

"We look forward to welcoming Ulster’s players, support team and fans on board our flights over the coming season and future years."

Phillip Polack, Ulster Rugby Business Development Director said: "The reputation of Aer Lingus as a proactive organisation fits superbly with our ambitions at Ulster Rugby and we look forward to cementing a long-lasting partnership."

Aer Lingus will start flying from George Best Belfast City Airport on Sunday 28th October 2012.

Southampton Airport launches App

Southampton Airport phone appThis week sees the launch of Southampton Airport’s iphone and Android smartphone App.
The free App is packed with planning tools, terminal information, special offers, news and more.

Neil Garwood, Head of Customer Service, commented, “Good information is the key to good passenger experiences, so it’s great to be able to deliver this information in a format that appeals to those passengers looking for info on the move.”

The airport’s Ambassadors will spend the week in the terminal explaining the App’s features to passengers and showing them how to download it to their smartphones.

With the Southampton Airport App you can:
• Keep a track of your upcoming trips
• Take a photo of your car to remind you where you parked
• Book car parking easily on your phone
• Check the weather in your destination
• View tourist guides on all of our destinations

Southampton Airport has over 1.7million passengers per year travelling for business and pleasure to destinations across Europe, including 15 French destinations, and new for 2012 Barcelona with Vueling, and Ibiza with Thomas Cook. You can now travel to 100s of worldwide destinations from Southampton Airport with KLM via Amsterdam.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

New back pack hotel in Barcelona

Tuesday, 11 September 2012
The first guests check in.St Christopher’s Inns and Home Hostels have opened a new backpacker hostel on Carrer de Bergara, in Barcelona. The 415 bed hostel is located opposite the airport shuttle drop off station on Placa de Catalunya - seconds away from La Rambla on foot.
Officially launched as St Christopher’s Inn, Barcelona, the new hostel offers a mix of private en-suite rooms with balconies and shared mixed sex, and single sex dormitories. (w)

Keith Knowles, Managing Director of St Christopher’s Inns said: “This is the best St Christopher’s Inns hostel yet with the most modern conveniences, for the modern day backpacker. It’s easy to get to and welcomes all. I couldn’t be prouder of the new site and the team behind it.”

All dormitories are equipped with the latest generation of pod beds and each individual sleeping compartment has a privacy curtain, power socket reading light, and luggage locker.

Spread over six-floors in a fully renovated building, St Christopher’s Inns, Barcelona also includes an on-site cinema, Belushi’s bar, mezzanine garden, outdoor eating areas, a large common room and solar panels on the roof, which harness the sun and contribute to the hostel’s daily power needs

St Christopher’s Inns are part of Beds and Bars Ltd, a leading operator of tourist accommodation and entertainment venues in Europe, with 26 backpacker hostels, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants in eight countries.

The next Beds and Bars site to open will be a second St Christopher’s Inns hostel and Belushi’s bar in Paris, in May 2013. Located directly opposite the Eurostar platforms at Gare du Nord, the £36 million property will be the biggest unit yet with 600 beds.

Beds and Bars will also expand to North America in the near future. Negotiations are currently on course with New York’s City Hall with regard to acquiring a suitable property and operating a backpacker hostel in the city.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Staffordshire’s Halloween Fright-fest!

Alton Towers Resort Scarefest 2012
In the deep, dark heart of the country, Staffordshire plays host to some of Halloween’s most horrifying events... From woodland walks to ghoulish ghost tours, there’s something to strike fear in to even the bravest of souls. Visit – if you dare…

For those who are serious about their scares, Alton Towers Resort’s 2012 ‘Scarefest’ from 13th - 14th and 19th - 31st October promises more high-octane horrors than ever, with rip-roaring rides, weird and wonderful costumed characters, blockbusting attractions, and amazing live shows – and the park will be open until 9:00pm!

New for this year is the ‘Zombies Scare Zone’, where an abandoned road becomes a post-apocalyptic nightmare that only the bravest of visitors will escape alive… From Friday 19th to Wednesday 31st October you can also visit the theme park for just £31.50 as an adult (12+) or for £25.20 as a child (4-11), upon presentation of the Staffordshire Enjoy Card. And kids under the age of 4 can enter free! Visit for more information.

To keep little monkeys entertained all through October half term, Trentham Monkey Forest has a whole host of spooky entertainment! Entertainment includes terrifying treasure hunts, frightful face painting, and scary story-time all in 60 acres of woodland.

Have an evening of freaky fun with Halloween Hi-Jinx! at Consall Nature Park on Wednesday 31st October . With activities for all the family including apple bobbing, pumpkin carving, face painting and bone-chilling woodland walks, followed by a BBQ and toffee apples.

Prepare to be spooked at the Halloween Hands on Horror event at Stafford Castle and Visitor Centre, where kids can ‘drop in’ for pumpkin carving workshops and deadly delicious refreshments from 11am – 4pm on Wednesday 31st October.

Lower Drayton Farm’s annual ‘Fright Night’ will return this year on Saturday 3rd November from 3pm ‘til late, and promises to be bigger and better than ever before. A joint Halloween ‘Spooktacular’ and bonfire night celebration, there will be something for the whole family to enjoy!

Children will love the fairground rides, while older kids and the young-at-heart will relish the challenge of taking on the Maize Maze in the dark – dodging zombies and other spooky characters, all culminating with a magnificent fireworks display. Tickets cost £8 for adults and £5 for children and OAPs, with under 3s going free. Advance tickets available from at reduced rates.

Experience the hidden history of Lichfield with its Gruesome and Ghostly Tours on the 23rd and 31st October - an evening to make your blood curdle and your spine tingle! Discover the deep, dark secrets of the city with a professional guide, followed by a visit to the local pub for a glass of mulled wine and a sausage roll.

Get set for some heritage horror at Weston Park on 28th October - board the Phantom Express or the Haunted Hayride for a one way train ride through the wild woods, then follow the Pumpkin Lantern Trail back to the house if you dare… A bewitching array of Halloween activities including children’s craft-making sessions and a devilish disco will keep everyone entertained and delicious sausage sizzlers and homemade pumpkin soup are on hand to feed the famished! Pre-booking is essential.

For information about all of these grisly goings-on visit or the Enjoy Staffs Facebook fan page, or follow them on Twitter @enjoystaffs.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Seve Ballesteros Legends Tournament European launch event

Seve Ballesteros Legends Tournament to take place at Pebble Beach from 29th November – 1st December 2012 with European launch event at The May Fair Hotel, London on 18th September 2012.

Superstar Sports are proud to announce the launch of the inaugural Seve Ballesteros Legends Tournament taking place at Pebble Beach from 29th November – 1st December 2012.

The tournament will celebrate Ballesteros’s life and raise money for the Seve Ballesteros Foundation with a par-3 tournament on Pebble Beach’s Peter Hay Golf Course. Seve Ballesteros set up the foundation, in partnership with Cancer Research UK, in 2009 to raise money for research into brain tumours. Seve was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2008 and it took his life less than three years later.

The event will bring together teams of amateur golfers playing for the Legends Trophy in a Ryder Cup-like format, with each team captained by a well-known celebrity or golfing legend. Play will take place amid a festive environment with live music and DJs, fine food and wine, TV screens broadcasting from around the course and more attractions.

Confirmed celebrity captains include the following, with more celebrities and golfing legends to be announced in the ensuing weeks:

• Piers Morgan, journalist and host of CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight”
• Jodie Kidd, fashion model and TV personality;
• Len Goodman, judge on “Strictly Come Dancing”;
• Dennis Haysbert, American film and TV actor - “24”, “The Unit”;
• Peter Weller, American film/stage actor and director - “Robocop”, “Star Trek”;
• George Lopez, American film and TV actor, standup comedian;
• Chris Noth, American TV actor - “Sex and the City”, “The Good Wife”;
• Cheech Marin, American comedian and actor - “Cheech & Chong”, “Desperado”;
• Jason Isaacs, film, TV and stage actor – “Harry Potter”, “Brotherhood”;
• Ioan Gruffudd, film and TV actor – “Fantastic Four”, “Amazing Grace”.

The Seve Ballesteros Legends Tournament will be launched in London at The Penthouse of The May Fair Hotel on Tuesday 18th September 2012. Invited guests will enjoy cocktails and canap├ęs and to compete for some great golfing prizes on London’s highest putting green.

Teams of two and four are available for The Seve Ballesteros Legends Tournament and all amateur golfers are invited to participate, with each team member to receive:

• Ground transportation between Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) and Pebble Beach
• Invitation to Opening Night Reception (Wednesday, Nov. 28)
• Four nights lodging (double occupancy) at The Inn at Spanish Bay in Pebble Beach
• Participation in the Legends Tournament, including food and beverages throughout the event
• Post-tournament Champagne Reception and Gala Dinner with live entertainment, prizes and charity auction at the exclusive Beach & Tennis Club in Pebble Beach (Thursday, Nov. 29)
• One round of golf at The Links at Spanish Bay (Friday, Nov. 30)
• One round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links (Saturday, Dec. 1)
• Official team golf shirt and luxury goodie bag
• Invitation to Closing Reception (following golf on Dec. 1)

Registration per team of four is £20,000 +vat, with fundraising from the Legends Tournament going to the Seve Ballesteros Foundation.

“I am very happy that Seve’s Foundation will benefit from the Seve Ballesteros Legends Tournament at Pebble Beach this year,” said Ivan Ballesteros, Vice-President of the Seve Ballesteros Foundation. “Seve played at Pebble Beach many times throughout his career and loved its challenges, so it is fitting that a tournament is played there to honor him. Thank you to all the players and celebrities who will come together to make this event a success, helping us raise money and awareness for the foundation in the U.S.”

To participate in the Seve Ballesteros Legends Tournament e-mail  Or call: UK: 0845-177-1617, USA: 1-800-761-2932.

Midcounties Consortium is Good Match for Wedding TV Travel

An overseas wedding and honeymoon business which said ‘I Do’ to a partnership with The Midcounties Co-op Travel’s new consortium says the match is proving a successful one.

Wedding TV Travel was formed to meet the demand of viewers who were inspired by features on its specialist wedding television channel and needed help to realise their dreams of marrying in exotic locations.

Head of Media Sales, Nick Tiday said: “We joined the consortium to give us the benefits and strengths from a unified group of independent agents. We were impressed by Midcounties’ approach and its commitment to working together for the good of all.

“The business has got off to a great start since we formed in June. We believe we have chosen the right partner to help it to continue to flourish and grow.”

Wedding TV on Sky Channel 266 focuses on everything connected with weddings from fashion and beauty to wedding venues. Travel for weddings abroad and honeymoons feature heavily. It prompted the setting up of the travel business with specialists to put packages together for couples, families and friends. The Caribbean and Indian Ocean are particularly popular destinations.

Midcounties’ Alistair Rowland, Group General Manager of Travel Services, said: “As an independent co-operative consortium we can deliver real benefits to our members. We are delighted that Wedding TV Travel is seeing the positive results. We are ready to welcome other agents with the right quality of business who share our vision and we are in talks with a number of potential new members.”

The consortium will retain principal ATOL status for each of its members.

Midcounties has embarked on a strategy of rapid growth as it aims to become one of the best independent travel retailers in the country, with co-operative values at its core.


Sunday, 2 September 2012

Holiday safety concern for youngsters

Group Holidays Guide has today released worrying data on the habits of 16-24 year olds whilst on group holidays. Data reveals nearly a third (28%) of young holidaymakers did not take out insurance on their last group holiday, whilst 44% claimed their biggest holiday expenditure is alcohol when away with friends. Worryingly a further 24% claimed that their attitude towards safe sex would be more relaxed on a group holiday.
In light of the data and a summer season of negative stories on young holidaymakers, has collaborated with the FCO’s Know Before You Go campaign on a project on group holidays safety. This project provides timely advice for parents and young holidaymakers preparing to go on holiday to celebrate school results and the closing of the summer season in popular holiday resorts.

“Group holidays should be about having fun with mates. We would encourage all young people going on holiday this summer to take out comprehensive travel insurance and make sure you have your EHIC card with you if travelling in Europe. Reading up on local laws and customs and knowing your alcohol limit can also help you to avoid running into trouble with the law abroad.” Khalida Cox, Campaigns Officer, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

A guide detailing the holiday habits of 16-24 year olds has been produced to distribute amongst parents and young adults going on group holidays, providing information on key topics that affect safety. has also produced a resource on general safety practice on group holidays, with the aim of placing this information directly in front of the consumer.

View and Share Group Holiday Guide

Furthermore, the FCO’s own British Behaviour Abroad Report revealed that there has been a 132% increase in Britons hospitalised in Majorca over the last two years. have moved to produce an informative resource for those travelling to the Balearic Island. “Majorca is one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, especially for group holidays. It’s important as a provider of these holidays that we give our consumers essential safety advice when researching or booking a holiday.” Lawrence Hunt, Chief Operating Officer at and FCO’s Majorca Safety Advice

Sort your battery before holidaying abroad: CTEK

To avoid a costly and undesirable breakdown during a holiday abroad, drivers should ensure that their vehicle’s battery is fully charged and as healthy as possible before setting off, advises CTEK, leading brand of smart battery chargers.

Battery failure is widely acknowledged as the number one cause for vehicle breakdowns. As a result, motorists are faced with unexpected call-out charges, huge inconvenience and, in some cases, the cost of expensive, replacement batteries; all of which, of course, is made much more stressful when in a foreign country. Travellers who do not speak the local language could potentially have great difficulty in finding a breakdown service or a garage, and costs of such assistance may spiral out of control; a ruined holiday due to a flat battery or failure could easily be avoided through simple battery protection and maintenance.

With the increasing demands that sophisticated technology places on vehicles, battery charging has become a vital part of car maintenance and should be considered as important as checking tyre pressures and oil levels. Smart chargers present a safe and efficient way of maintaining and prolonging a battery’s life.

Jan-Ulf Soderberg, head of brand and marketing at CTEK, advises: “A CTEK smart battery charger makes the process of caring for a vehicle’s battery easy, straightforward and effective, and such a simple maintenance routine could be the difference between a fantastic driving holiday or a spoiled, stressful and costly one.

“Smart chargers consistently monitor and communicate with the battery, charging only to its direct needs. This ensures that the battery is also conditioned, which will extend its life significantly. Furthermore, holidaymakers can take their CTEK charger with them; their compact designs allow them to be easily packed in the boot or glove box so drivers have peace of mind when far from home.”

All of CTEK’s chargers, including its 12V battery charger range that is suitable for most cars, are fully automatic and do not require any specialist knowledge to use. For details on CTEK’s range of chargers, visit

European Choice Privileges members can earn a free night after just two stays

Choice Hotels Europe, the company behind the Comfort, Quality and Clarion brands in Europe and part of Choice Hotels International, Inc., one of the largest lodging franchisors in the world, has launched a promotion enabling European members of Choice Privileges, Choice Hotels International’s award-winning rewards programme, to earn a free night at over 250 participating hotels in Europe.

After a member completes two separate stays with arrival between 30 August and 14 November 2012, they will receive enough Choice Privileges points to redeem them for a free night at a participating hotel in Europe between 16 September and 30 November 2012. Hotels taking part in the promotion include the newly refurbished Comfort Inn Victoria in London, Comfort Hotel Diana in Venice, Clarion Hotel Dublin City, Comfort Hotel Frankfurt City Centre and Quality Hotel Centre del Mon in Perpignan, France. Qualifying stays must be booked online at or by calling 800.800.44.800.

"We are delighted to offer Choice Privileges members in Europe the opportunity to now earn a free night's stay when they travel either on business or holiday," said Duncan Berry, CEO UK, Choice Hotels Europe. "This promotion will reward our most loyal customers and help them earn a free night faster."

Originally launched in 1998, the Choice Privileges rewards programme has been available in Europe since 2008 and is one of the fastest growing travel industry rewards programmes with membership tripling over five years and now standing at 15 million members worldwide. At the recent travel loyalty industry Freddie Awards, over 1.3 million frequent travellers scored Choice Privileges as the second best programme overall.

To become a Choice Privileges member, travellers can log on to or sign-up when checking into 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, 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 Barcel├│ Hotels & Resorts, through airline partners including airberlin, American Airlines, Qantas, Delta, and Czech Airlines, and for free car hires from Avis and Budget.

(Terms & Conditions apply, see for full details.)

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers announces opening of 'Tori No Su' Japanese Restaurant

Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, a member of the global luxury hotel group Jumeirah, officially opened Abu Dhabi's and the hotel's latest gourmet venue: Tori No Su, a sleek Japanese destination of style and taste offering traditional Japanese cuisine along with contemporary creations based on classic elements by Chef Ando. Combining an authentic modern Japanese ambience with superb dining and lively urban interaction, Tori No Su features live Teppanyaki and Robatayaki counters, a Sushi bar, a beverage bar as well general seating areas.

A native of Japan, Chef Ando applies decades of mastery and skill as a kaiseki-trained chef, and like a traditional Japanese poem, at all times pays homage to the season, ensuring freshness and connectedness to what is served. The cuisine served within each corner of the restaurant has been specially designed in consideration of its own unique environment so that the overall dining experience can be enhanced, a philosophy reflected through the "hito kuchi" or "bite-sized" gourmet elements offered at the bar, through to the skewered culinary creations at the Robatayaki counter, or more intricate creations served at regular table dining areas. The freshest of the day's catch is served either as sashimi or sushi depending on personal preference, and in traditional Japanese style, guests could try not looking at the menu and request an "omakase" course whereby Chef Ando and his team will provide a line of dishes inspired by the moment. Here, at the Abu Dhabi hotel, the true sense of Japanese culinary skill and hospitality is experienced.

A contemporary reflection of modern Japan, Tori No Su, meaning "bird's nest" in Japanese, is located opposite the Lobby’s main entrance and is contemporary in design but with a heart that reflects a strong connection to its cultural, homely traditions. The importance of freshness is immediately recognised with the restaurant’s living grass walls, and the soul of modern Japanese tradition comes clearly through Restaurant Manager Hosoda-san and his team’s deep desire to impart not only a dining experience to be remembered, but also one that helps provide a little light and illumination on Japanese culture, cuisine and service. 

The perfect scene for casual drinks after work amongst an eclectic crowd, Tori No Su mixes style with taste, infusing traditional Japanese beverages with modern accents. Not to be missed is the house signature mocktail known as 'Tei-en' or 'Japanese Garden' which is a delicious mix of fresh kiwi, cucumber and apple juice garnished with a traditional Shiso leaf.

Located on Podium Level 3, opposite the hotel’s main lobby entrance and with its own private outdoor entrance, Tori No Su is open for lunch from 12:00 - 15:30 and for dinner from 19:00 - 23:30.