Selling Travel February 2020

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Ajman • Argentina • Boston • Bulgaria • China • Florida • India • Indian Ocean • Indochina • Luxury Cruising • Malaysia • Weddings & Honeymoons

PERFECT MATCH Agents who sell weddings and honeymoons could find clients that last a lifetime

how to sell...

India Florida Luxury cruising and more...

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YOU'RE INVITED Say g'day to Sydney & New South Wales at the


UK & Europe ROADSHOW 2020

London, The Refinery Citypoint: 24 March 2020 Manchester, The Anthologist: 25 March 2020 Glasgow, Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel: 26 March 2020 all events 18:00 - 22:00

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contents /


this issue WE TRAVEL FURTHER TO BRING YOU MORE FEATURES 08 Florida: Beyond the theme parks lies a natural allure 29 Luxury cruising: Exclusive experiences and five-star service on the seas 39 India: Lesser-known wildlife parks







43 39 68

QUICK READS 14 Six of the best: Activities in Portugal


80 36



25 Destination Profile: Okinawa

26 How to sell: Boston 36 My Journey: Malaysia 43 How to sell: Ajman 44 Six of the best: Hikes in China 46 Introducing: Kitzbühl 54 Celebrity interview: Dom Joly 58 How to sell: Argentina 59 Six of the best: Places to visit in Bulgaria 60 My Journey: Kansas City





TALKING SHOP 15 Agent opinion, incentives,



trade news and more



WEDDINGS & HONEYMOONS 64 What's trending 68 African luxury lodges 70 Indian Ocean 78 Ideas for romantic holidays

80 Indochina INTERVIEW

54 Please note that Selling Travel, owned and published by BMI Publishing Ltd., is not connected in any way to Selling Travel e-magazine published by SMP Training Co. and based in British Columbia, Canada. The latter online publication focuses exclusively on sales skills and all aspects of professional selling within the travel and tourism sectors. To benefit from this travel industry sales training resource visit



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4 / welcome


JOURNALISTS Jessica Pook, Sasha Wood & April Waterston

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Andy Hoskins & Julie Baxter


PUBLISHING PUBLISHERS Steve Thompson Sally Parker




CEO Martin Steady


A love letter


o matter what facet of the travel industry we peer into lately it seems there is always a common theme: people are getting more adventurous. Apparently, staring into your lover's eyes over a plate of seafood linguine is not enough these days - 2020's honeymooners have probably been diving for the clams and hand-made the pasta with a local chef. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but our section on weddings & honeymoons (page 63) shows that the average couple desires more than a beach and a bottle of Bollinger. They say love works in mysterious ways but for agents it's Laura Gelder EDITOR quite straightforward. Work your magic with a wedding or honeymoon and you'll reap the rewards - high commission, certainly, but also likely is a huge amount of trust, future bookings and referrals. All this talk of love got me thinking, does everyone have a destination that made them fall in love with travel? Mine was the Isle of Wight, which was as exotic as it got until I ventured to Yugoslavia, aged six. My first destination outside Europe was India and like any great love it wasn't a walk in the park (more like a run to the nearest toilet). However, during that trip I found an enduring love for wildlife - see page 39 for more on this. It's been utterly heartbreaking to see the unique wildlife of Australia devastated by the recent bush fires. And while it's easy to feel helpless in the face of this apocalyptic evidence of climate change, the travel trade can help wildlife and people by promoting responsible travel that supports communities. If you haven't signed up to the Destination New South Wales Roadshow next month, please do ( We need to show NSW, and all of Australia, all the love and support we can.

DESIGNERS Ross Clifford, Caitlan Francis & Zoe Tarrant



(PRINT) ISSN 2056-9319. © BMI PUBLISHING LTD 2019.


With this issue

recycled coated, recycled paper grades that are FSC® Recycled certified and Carbon Balanced.

Mauritius 2020

Your Guide to the Caribbean

Find out what's new in this Indian Ocean paradise. We've got it covered - golf, spas, culture, cuisine and more.

Covering every aspect of the colourful Caribbean you can think of, from its zingy food to its dreamy beaches and unique wildlife.


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£20 Lifestyle voucher for long haul holidays £10 Lifestyle voucher for short haul holidays


For every booking in January and February you can claim a voucher! Email within 7 days of making a booking.

The more bookings you make, the more chances to win! For more details visit All bookings made from 27 December 2019 – 29 February 2020 will be automatically entered and the winner will be picked at random and notified by Friday 8th March. Winner must be a UK travel agent plus one companion. Prize can be any Titan tour of your choice up to value of £4,000 subject to availability, but must be taken in 2020. No cash alternatives and no refunds. Agents responsible for their own tax implications.

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Australia Needs our help

Fight fire with bookings On Christmas Day Australia launched its biggest tourism campaign in over 10 years. Since then, bush fires have raged across the country and the world has watched helplessly as communities have battled to save homes, lives and animals. At the time of going to press, 32 human lives had been lost and an estimated billion animals had been affected. How can agents help? By sharing the message that huge areas of Australia are unaffected and open for business.


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8 / florida


to the Sunshine State The thrills and spills of Orlando may be Florida’s main attraction, but journey beyond the theme parks and you’ll discover adventures of the natural and cultural kind, says Lauren Jarvis

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If any band knows how to capture sunshine in a song, it’s The Beach Boys. “Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo… That’s where you want to go to get away from it all…” And if ever there was a song to sing along to, as you drive south from Miami on the Overseas Highway to Key West, Kokomo is it. An iconic drive need an iconic car, and mine’s a convertible Chevrolet Camaro from the Hertz American Collection. Add suncream, shades and an open road, stretching over the ocean and into the blue, and within minutes of leaving Miami International, and I’m living the American Dream. Kokomo may not be real, but the chain of islands that form the Keys at the southernmost point of mainland USA hold as many delights as the fictional isle. At Playa Largo Resort & Spa, I sink tropical sundowners on the sand beyond its opulent pool; Marathon’s Isla Bella Beach Resort greets me with laidback luxury and manatees swimming offshore, and in Key West, Margaritaville Resort & Marina offers stylish suites, a skip from the famous sunset-watching spot of Mallory Square. I almost forget I’m in the world’s theme park capital, as I kayak through mangroves around Big Pine Key, snorkel the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park to see turtles and rays, and catch a boat to search for wild dolphins in Key West.


Fitting it all in “Road trips that include theme parks, beaches, cities and nature are hugely popular with our visitors,” says Dana Young, President & CEO at Visit Florida. “The Sunshine State continues to be the most popular long-haul destination for Brits, and while Orlando’s theme parks are still a huge draw, we’re seeing a rise in visits to Florida’s smaller towns, national and state parks and monuments.” Pairing time at the theme parks with a beach is easy, with miles of beautiful shoreline to choose from. Idyllic barrier islands like Sanibel and Anna Maria, and mainland resorts like Panama City Beach, Siesta Key, St. Pete and Naples, offer long stretches of white sand along the Gulf of Mexico. On the Atlantic Coast, unspoiled beaches await around St Augustine and Palm Coast, while Daytona Beach offers fun for families, New Smyrna Beach is a magnet for surfers and nature lovers, and Amelia Island offers tranquil, golden sands and luxury resorts. “Visitors are looking to journey beyond the city gateways and typical tourist attractions to get to know the destination on a deeper level,” says Young. “We’re seeing all types of travellers choose twin or multi-centre holidays.” Florida welcomed a record 127 million visitors in 2019, and Visit Florida recognises that with this milestone comes a responsibility to promote sustainable travel.

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amelia island

Going green A new hub on highlights green travel tips plus eco-friendly accommodation, attractions, dining and activities, and includes a section on ‘voluntourism’, another growing travel trend. Across the state, over 370 hotels and resorts are designated Florida Green Lodging properties The new Florida Keys & Key West Travel App promotes safe driving and recommends eco-friendly attractions along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway. Meanwhile, the New Smyrna Beach Area Visitors Bureau is implementing ecofriendly measures in partnership with local hotels and restaurants, and programmes to protect the regions’ wild attractions,

daytona beach

including the Indian River Lagoon. “While consumer confidence was down in 2019, demand for Florida showed no signs of waning”, says Young. “New capacity with TUI and Virgin Atlantic will fill some of the lost capacity from Thomas Cook, and January bookings are looking very positive.” “There is strong interest in Florida, particularly in the family market,” agrees Malcolm Davies, Product Destination Manager at Funway Holidays. “Orlando is outpacing other destinations, with villa stays proving very popular, but Daytona Beach, St Pete/Clearwater and Naples are growing in popularity.” With the second-highest number of hotel rooms in the USA after Las Vegas, and 2019 and 2020 seeing its biggest hotel expansion

siesta bay

in over two decades, Orlando looks set to be Florida’s flagship destination for years to come. But encourage your customers to venture beyond Disney - there’s plenty more more magic in the Sunshine State.

Top experiences Step back in time: The precious wetlands of Everglades National Park is home to wonderful wildlife including bobcats, white-tailed deer, black bears, elusive Florida panthers and, of course, the state’s infamous alligators. Explore on guided walks, buggy tours through ancient cypress swamps, kayaking amidst the mangroves, or zooming across the ‘River of Grass’ on an airboat.




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photo opportunity at a street mural in st. pete

Underwater Florida keys

Swim with giants: The warm springs of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge on Florida’s western Nature Coast provide a refuge for hundreds of West Indian manatees who come to escape cool temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s one of the only places in the world where you can swim and snorkel with wild manatees. Hold on tight: Orlando’s amusement parks deliver year-round thrills and spills, with Walt Disney World, Universal, Legoland and SeaWorld each offering their own themed accommodation and no end of dining and entertainment options. Outside of the parks, Orlando has a great range of family-friendly hotels to suit all budgets, or choose a luxe, self-catering villa with a pool in Kissimmee to escape the crowds.


Make a splash: The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 2,900 nautical square miles of marine habitat. The Florida Keys’ ‘Become a Reef Explorer’ programme encourages divers and snorkellers of all ages to explore five reefs between Key Largo and Key West, with a complimentary reef guide and souvenir journal to log their underwater adventures. Paint the town: Florida’s art and design districts are thriving, with everything from boutique galleries to world-class museums. Visitors can wander Miami’s historic Design District with its Institute of Contemporary Art, striking architecture and vibrant street murals; visit The Sarasota Art Museum for contemporary exhibitions; or join the free ‘First Friday

Gallery Hop’ around the studios, galleries and shops in Tallahassee’s Railroad Square.

What’s new

Accommodation: The luxury, adults-only Little Palm Island Resort & Spa will reopen in April in the Lower Keys. Universal’s Endless Summer Resort: Dockside Inn and Suites opens in March while LEGOLAND Florida also opens its new Pirate Island Hotel in April. JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa opens this month (February) with a Spa, followed by a JW Marriott near the Tampa Riverwalk in the autumn. Marriott Autograph Collection Hotels will open the Luminary Hotel & Co. in downtown Fort Myers in 2020 and a124-room

The MANTA RAY INN, a Boutique Hotel, is your home away from home! With one- and two-bedroom oceanfront apartments, this charming inn offers panoramic views of South Florida's best sandy beach. Recommended by Fodor’s - winner of the acclaimed White Glove Award and Number one on TripAdvisor. 1715 S. SURF RD, HOLLYWOOD, FL 33019 T: 001 954 921 9666 | F: 001 954 929 8220 | E: INFO@MANTARAYINN.COM

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Kissimmee’s Monster Bulls rodeo

kayaking through mangroves

Towne Place Suites by Marriott will open in Panama City Beach in 2020. Compass by Margaritaville will open at One Particular Harbour in Bradenton in 2020. Everglades National Park’s Flamingo region in the Florida Keys, now offers 20 new eco-tents. Boutique Hotel Haya opens in spring 2020 in the Latin Quarter of historic Ybor City, Tampa. The Hacienda Hotel reopens after 90 years this autumn on Florida’s Sports Coast. Opening in November 2020, Banyan Cay Resort & Golf in West Palm Beach boasts Jack Nicklaus’ 300th Signature Golf Course. The Florida Keys’ only all-inclusive resort, the adults-only Bungalows Key Largo, has reopened after extensive renovation. Homes2 Suites by Hilton opened near the Daytona International Speedway at ONE Daytona in December 2019,

sunset at mallory square

JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort

with an oceanfront Home2 Suites by Hilton opening in early 2020. Hotel Effie Sandestin opens in Miramar Beach on the Emerald Coast in summer 2020. Attractions: The Bourne Stuntacular, a live-action stunt show based on the Jason Bourne films, debuts in spring 2020 at Universal Studios. Epcot is undergoing a major transformation with new attractions planned for 2020, including Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Legoland will offer PirateFest Weekends throughout April and May and a new Pirate Water Ski Show Adventure. Greater Fort Lauderdale will host the first ever Pride of the Americas LGBT festival from April 21-26 2020 with parades, concerts, conferences and fashion shows. Orlando’s ICON Park opens the world’s tallest slingshot ride, The Orlando Slingshot, and the world’s tallest free-standing drop tower, The Orlando Gyro Drop Tower, in 2020. Old Town Kissimmee is completing its final expansion phase with new shops, restaurants and a spa in the reimagined Front Plaza. Pointe Orlando shopping mall will have a $32 million makeover by summer 2020. Travel: Hertz has added a limited-edition custom 2020 Camaro ZL1 and 2020 Camaro SS to its US rental fleet. Norwegian Air increases its London to Tampa service to three

new smyrna beach

“Demand for Florida showed no signs of waning in 2019 and January bookings are looking very positive. New capacity with TUI and Virgin Atlantic will fill some of the lost capacity from Thomas Cook” Dana Young, President & CEO, Visit Florida

times a week this summer. Celebrity Cruises, Holland America and MSC will join Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line with sailings to and from Port Tampa Bay in 2020.

Where to book it AMERICA AS YOU LIKE IT – 020 8742 8299 A 14-night Florida road trip includes three nights B&B at the Residence Inn Miami Beach Surfside, two nights at Playa Largo in Key Largo, two nights at the Isla Bella in Marathon, two nights at Margaritaville in Key West, two nights at the Port of the Islands Adventure Resort in the Everglades, three nights at Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages on Sanibel Island, plus return flights from Gatwick to Miami on Norwegian Airlines and Mustang car rental with Hertz. •

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DISCOVER YOUR RHYTHM. Escape the every day and indulge yourself in a truly extraordinary getaway with limitless possibilities. Now Open | | #DiscoverYourRhythm

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Activities in

Portugal Portugal’s tempting warm climate lends itself to sports and outdoor activities, but it also has a rich food and wine culture to discover. Richard Williams picks out some top activities


The Algarve has 40-plus courses but Quinta do Lago is a good place to start, with two fine 18-hole layouts and San Lorenzo and Pinheiros Altos nearby. Around Lisbon is the excellent Praia d’el Rey course near Obidos; the Seve Ballasterosdesigned track at the Royal Obidos Golf Spa & Resort; the spectacular Penha Longa Golf Club, among pine forests north of Cascais, and the Robert Trent Jones-designed Quinta da Marinha closer to Cascais.


Warm and sunny Portugal is an ideal place to improve your game, particularly the Algarve, which also has some of the best beaches to cool off at! Jonathan Markson Tennis at Baia da Luz near Lagos has self-catering apartments and courses for kids and adults. The Vale do Lobo Tennis Academy is one of the largest in Portugal, with hard courts, simulated grass courts, a paddle tennis court and a mini-court for children.


Portugal’s long Atlantic coastline has plenty to offer surfers and Lisbon is a great base. Ericeira, to the northwest of the capital, is the only World Surfing Reserve in Europe. Carcavelos beach is just 10 minutes’ drive from the city centre, with consistent waves year-round for all ability levels and many surf schools. Peniche, an hour north of the city, is perfect for intermediate to expert surfers October to March and novices in summer.


In the cool green north of Portugal, you can follow three routes to trace the footsteps of the pilgrims to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela across the border in Spain. The rocky western Algarve coast has spectacular clifftop trails, or you can try the Via Algarviana, a walking trail from Cabo de Sao Vicente, the most southwestern point in Europe, to Alcoutim near the Spanish border. It’s 300km long but divided into 14 vilage-to-village sections.

Port tour

Take a tour of the ancient cellars of Porto across the river from the historic city centre. First you will learn about the origins of port wine, then the history of the house you are visiting, and then taste the various styles. Caves Ferreira is the only large house that has stayed in Portuguese hands since its foundation in 1751. British company Taylor’s haas 300-year-old cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia with a modern museum and restaurant.

Tasting Portuguese cuisine

Traditional Portuguese cookery is mostly based around seafood and meat dishes, often in stews and casseroles, and rich and sweet desserts. Taste Porto’s Vintage Food Tour is a journey through time, from the rebirth of speciality food shops to a batch of trendy new restaurants adopting old ways. Cooking Lisbon offers classes covering gourmet and vegetarian cooking and pastry and baking.


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Talking Shop INSPIRED BY YOU The inside track on travel

Rocky Mountaineer incentive To celebrate 30 years of service, Rocky Mountaineer and Air Canada are giving away two GoldLeaf seats onboard Rocky Mountaineer, plus flights. To win, agents need to book any Rocky Mountaineer rail journey with accompanying return flights to Canada with Air Canada or Air Canada Rouge before March 31 and complete the TRACKS training. rockymountaineer/tracks

Agents take orneka to G Adventures tlost City Colombia's Therity for cha

Train to win afternoon tea Agents that train with TIPTO could win two tickets for the View from The Shard experience and a luxury afternoon tea at a choice of five London locations. To win, agents need to complete all supplier training modules, including the revamped one from Shearings, before February 27.

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Fam trip Gold March 18 & 19 Join our Selling Travel Dialogue - Escorted Touring events in London on March 18 and Leeds on March 19. Meet some of the industry's top suppliers selling everything from small group tours to special interest journeys – you might even win some super prizes!

Agents can to win a space on Gold Medal's twincentre Mega Fam trip. To be considered, email before Feruary 29 to say how the trip will help you sell more Gold Medal.





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Our columnists

February is the month of romance so we thought this a good time to ask our columnists how they go about creating itineraries for lovers...

South Africa is selling well for romantics, says Sandy

Anneka went to Romeo & Juliet's Verona for her honeymoon

Couples are looking for more adventurous honeymoons IN MY nine years at Southern Cross Travel I have only booked a handful of honeymoons (including a few for my friends!). We don’t tend to book the ‘typical’ honeymoon and I think couples are moving away from the idea of this as they look for more adventurous trips or unique destinations. The most recent honeymoons we have arranged were Victoria Falls and Botswana, a safari and beach break in Tanzania and a self-drive in British Columbia with a sky dive. My own honeymoon was in Italy, where we explored Verona, spent time in Lake Garda and then hired a car to escape the crowds. We found an apartment on a much smaller lake, surrounded by mountains and with canoe hire and a local pizzeria – it was our little bit of paradise, but not luxurious at all. I've never booked a wedding – apart from my own, which was stressful enough! There are niche companies and agents who cover this market brilliantly, and they exist for a reason. It's often a large group booking and expectations are so high that there is a lot of pressure! Peaks has been great so far, with lots of varied and decent enquiries (a little bit too much price-matching for my liking though). We've been delighted to see so many clients returning to book early, as well as new clients, despite Middle East tensions and the devastating bushfires in Australia. I've been working six-day weeks so maybe another lakeside retreat is due… I must drop some hints to the husband!

I TEND to leave weddings to those that have much more experience – and probably patience and persistence – than me. However, in my little niche of the cruise world, river cruising can be a great option both for romance and indeed for honeymoons. Admittedly, river cruising honeymooners do tend to be either the mature first-imers or those setting out on a second (or even third) lifetime together. In my opinion, nothing beats the top deck of a ship under a starry sky for a newlywed couple, and a river cruise ship can be as romantic as any ocean vessel. Many river cruise destinations are synonymous with romance, with hot spots including Paris, Avignon, Venice and Vienna.

Nothing beats the top deck of a ship under a starry sky for newlyweds They make an ideal suggestion for a forty-plus couple looking for a special week. By far the largest percentage of bookings are couples travelling together and the most commonly asked question before booking is whether they can dine as a pair. The answer is of course, yes. There's always a free table to enjoy a private dinner at, but the option is there should you wish to dine with friends you've made during the cruise. Practising what I preach, I spent New Year on the Danube, enjoying Strauss and Klimt in Vienna, the delights of Bavaria, including bratwurst of course, and the wonderful Austrian wines of the Wachau Valley.



Southern Cross Travel, East Sussex

Go Cruise, Cruise specialist, Worcestershire

Anneka Desrosiers

James Hill


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Our columnists

It's on-trend to have a minimoon before the main honeymoon IN JANUARY we held our Holiday Show, which was supported by 15 tour operators and attended by nearly 200 customers. It was a great event and well worth all the time and effort that went into planning it! January has been a busy month and its amazing how every day brings new and interesting – sometimes challenging – but always varied enquiries. I write this having just checked in a group of 30 heading for a wedding in Mexico – I hope the hurricane bypasses Cancun! I'm wondering if love is in the air because we’ve had a few honeymoon enquiries this week, then yesterday a man called in looking for a romantic hideaway cottage with a hot tub in the Scottish Highlands for Valentines weekend. He was followed by a customer enquiring about a complicated USA itinerary, a lovely surprise for his wife. We are finding a lot of couples are looking beyond the traditional beach holiday for their honeymoon. It seems on-trend to have a mini-moon, a short break straight after their wedding, and then a more adventurous honeymoon a few months later. However, today I had an enquiry from a young couple for a river cruise. I did feel a bit ageist but felt I should point out that in their mid-20s they would probably be the youngest on the boat. They appreciated my honesty and are still looking at a Russian itinerary in August, which looks amazing. I guess it just goes to show, you never know where romance can blossom!

WITH ROMANCE in the air, weddings and honeymoons seem high on the agenda. When I had my shop in Normanton, before I became a homeworker, we found that couples would come in and chat about the different options when booking a wedding or honeymoon - it's certainly not a quick sell. Back then, Cyprus was the place to say 'I do'. It was perfect for people who wanted to get married abroad but not travel too far, especially if they had a lot of family attending. Nowadays couples have their sights set on more exotic destinations. I was speaking to Jonathan Tighe at Oakwood Travel in Leeds and he sited Mauritius and South Africa as top draws for weddings and honeymoons. Beachcomber has special offers for stay seven days and pay for five and give free wedding package deals when booked before March 2020. Meanwhile, Cape Town is popular because the rand offers good value. If you have any wedding-related shops nearby, there's no harm in asking if you can leave some business cards there. A bridal dress shop across the street from me even gave me a noticeboard to put special offers on once! Attending wedding fairs, is of course, crucial if you want to sell weddings. One of the best enquiries I've heard was from Tony Mann at Idle Travel in Bradford, who booked a couple to have their wedding blessed and vows renewed by Elvis in a helicopter over the Las Vegas strip. Beat that! I hope this year is full of love for the travel industry. "Love is like wildflowers, it’s often found in the most unlikely places."

Befriend wedding shops and leave your cards there



The Travel Team, Brampton, Cumbria

Sandy's Travel Escapes, Leeds

Sandy Murray

Liz Beaty

Elvis still has some wedding clients 'all shook up'

Nothin romanceg says river cruliiske a according e, t James o

Next month our columnists talk about: Family holidays - how to keep the kids happy and the parents sane


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Selling Travel listens

This month #agentstalk about... Get social with us:



TRAVEL AGENT RANTS & RAVES This month's debate: "Should schools fine parents up to £1,000 for taking them on holiday during term times?" “It's so unfair! Family time is equally as important as education and some families simply cannot afford school holiday prices."

"Travel is an education too... I can't believe a week or two would affect them that much." "I know many teachers that support the fine. For every week a child misses it adds up to

Agents overheard "My client has a tight budget so he's thinking Raffles in Singapore, then Bali"

“Teachers have to holiday in school holidays so why should the pupils get that privilege!" "The prices are astronomically high in school holidays, which is unfair! Why should children and families alike miss out because they can’t afford the 50% hike in costs? And what about parents who can't get time off in school holidays due to their jobs?"


“Client asked if they could take a pot noodle in their hand luggage” something like a month of lost education and parents would be the first to complain if they failed exams."

the UK like we had to as kids! There are cheaper alternatives in Europe."

"I wouldn't mind as much if the school your child attended got the money but they don't, it goes to the council."

"I agree that staggered holidays would be great but tour operators would cotton on and the prices would soon rise from June to September."

"If you can’t afford to go in school holidays then holiday in

"Schools shouldn't be able to dictate to parents like this."

"Can anyone please explain to me what half a hill is? My client doesnt want to be located on a hill, but would be ok with half a hill..." "Disappointed client today when I told him his dream vacation isle of Fernando's was a fictional place"

Your monthly dose of Insta envy

@greatgramsofgary is a cool cat who loves winter in Alberta.

Selling Travel's @gaddinggelder loves Helsinki's libraries.

Agent @sibella_thompson spots a mermaid in Copenhagen

@sellingtravel's Sasha Wood visits the Norwegian fjords.


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with Sally & Alice Travel Co.

Agency has adventure at heart Jessica Pook talks to Alice Callander of Sally & Alice Travel Co. about swapping her rural life in Australia to open a travel agency in West London – and about the many adventures she's had along the way. "If you had told me at school that I would be running my own travel company in the UK I would have laughed out loud. Growing up on a remote farm in Australia I developed a real love of the bush, so coming to London to work in finance was a real shock to the system. I remember using travel as a way to escape grey city life - I would jet off to Europe at every opportunity, something that was an alien concept in Australia. "The eureka moment came when I took some time out to work at a safari lodge in Zambia. Back in a place with wide spaces and big skies, I felt an almost spiritual connection and realised that my passion lay in travel. On my return I swapped my highly paid job for an unpaid internship at Black Tomato and this move eventually led to me setting up my own company, Sally & Alice Travel Co.

Starting out

communities, something that wouldn't have been considered when I first started this job. Multi-generational groups, especially those with children, want to visit a local village or have a cultural experience to give them a broader understanding of the destination.

A changing world

be very organised. "You also learn a lot on the job, such as how to manage a crisis in the event of a terrorism attack or a natural disaster. On a more human level you’re dealing with multiple relationships and managing expectations, which can be complex. "What sets Sally & Alice apart is the fact that we are such a small business with a maximum of three people working at any one time. We live and breathe the trips we arrange and discuss every decision made between us. Because it's my own company I feel very invested in every booking and consider a lot of clients my friends, which can make it personal.

"As travel agents we see first-hand how bookings are influenced by topical events. Certain parts of Australia, for example, are expected to take a hit as a result of the devastation caused by the bushfires. When I was growing up, bushfires were an annual occurrence and considered part of the regeneration process, but it's the scale of these fires and loss of wildlife that has shocked the world. However, Australia is a resilient country and It won't take long for it to bounce back. It has so much to offer and

We live and breathe the trips we arrange

"In the early days I felt the weight of owning a business. The sense of responsibility is huge and there's no one to turn to if a client is being difficult or if you make a mistake. But detail is key in this industry – there’s so many moving parts that you have to

Planning ahead

"Peaks has been especially busy this year, I’m convinced people spent Christmas at their in-laws plotting their escape! One thing I’ve noticed is that people seem to be booking further in advance as opposed to last minute. For example, I’m already taking bookings for Christmas next year! "We’re getting a lot of enquiries for milestone birthday trips. Instead of a big party people seem to be saving the money and putting it towards a bucket list trip. "As a rule we try to encourage sustainable travel. We’re members of The Long Run, a membership club for lodges and hotels that have sustainable credentials, and we will book lodges that we know invest in conservation projects. We are seeing clients express an interest in engaging with local

will always have a special place in my heart. "A defining moment in my career in travel was travelling around Syria when I was Head of Middle East at Black Tomato. I arrived in 2006 with some prejudice and little knowledge of Syria. What I found was a hugely progressive country in terms of its art and culture and I was also surprised with the number of boutique hotels opening up. It was the real darling of the travel industry at that time and as a solo, fair-haired female tourist I couldn't have felt safer walking around Damascus. It will always be a special memory, especially now that so much of it has been destroyed and there’s a war raging. I hope that it will one day return to the hidden gem it once was."


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BEEN THERE, DONE THAT Training, events and fam trips

Caribtours celebrates in Barbados To mark Caribtours’ 40th anniversary, the luxury tour operator celebrated in style, with boss Paul Cleary taking the whole company to Barbados for the weekend. The team stayed at the five-star resort, Saint Peter’s Bay Luxury Resort & Residences, and enjoyed a beach party where individuals from the Caribtours team were recognised for the years they’ve spent with the company. There was just enough time to sail along the coast and swim with turtles before heading home… not bad for a work do!

AITO all stars gather

Why Tahiti’s worth it

Members of AITO were celebrated at the Annual All Stars and Excellence Programme Awards Ceremony at AITO’s Kickstart Weekend in Leicestershire last month. Agents engaged in workshops aimed to improve their confidence and communication skills as well as focusing on how to maximise AITO partnerships and how to sell to the ‘grey market’, which is considered a huge growth area for AITO’s independent agents. It was also announced that the Malta Tourism Authority would host the first AITO Agents Famference, from June 12 to 14, 2020.

Xin chào Vietnam!

Language lessons (the above means 'hello') and cooking classes were just some of the ways agents embraced Vietnamese culture on a recent fam trip with Inspiring Travel Company. During the three-night stay the group were able to admire the rebranded Sailing Club Mui Ne Resort whilst participating in a treasure hunt, leaving just enough time to visit the area's famous sand dunes and enjoy a coffee making class before flying back to the UK with trip partner Vietnam Airlines.

The tropics of Tahiti were a welcome sight for nine agents after a 21-hour flight from London. The week-long trip hosted by Tahiti Tourisme UK showcased the iconic French Polynesian islands of Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, as well as the lesser visited island of Tikehau. During a visit to a cultural centre in Moorea, the group learnt how to weave traditional Tahitian bags and make the traditional Tahiti dish, poisson cru.

Have you enjoyed an interesting trade event or been on a trip or fam that you would like to see featured on this page? Email


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talking shop /


Volcano hike

Meet... JASMINE MURPHY Travel Specialist, ITC Travel


The call of the Cook Islands

Banishing a dreary December for island life, a group of nine agents visited the islands of Rarotonga and Aitutaki on a fam hosted by The Cook Islands Tourism Corporation. A lagoon trip in Aitutaki rewarded agents with Instagram-worthy white sands and clear turquoise water while a cycle tour across Rarotonga showcased volcanic peaks and rainforest. They also visited a number of properties, including Etu Moana Beach Villas, Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Little Polynesian and Royal Takitumu.

Luxury living in the Caribbean

The Dominican Republic delivered blue skies, white sand and turquoise waters on a trip hosted by Palladium Hotels. A group of 19 agents spent two nights in the adult-only TRS Cap Cana Hotel, enjoying front-row views of the marina, before spending one night in Dominican Fiesta Hotel and then four nights in Grand Palladium Punta Cana. Whilst on the island they were treated to a tour of the historic capital Santo Domingo, wowed by a Las Vegas-style show at legendary night spot Coco Bongo and whisked across to the diving hotspot Catalina Island by speed boat.

I'm handed a leaf known locally as Cattle Tongue and encouraged to smell it. Gingerly I inhale and I'm hit with the familiar menthol smell of Vicks Vaporub. "Have it as a tea and it will cure any cough or cold," I'm told by our local guide, who seems to know every leaf and twig by name. We've managed to make it to the second of three stages on the three-hour round-volcano hike, and as the path gets steeper, the views only get more impressive. We pass prehistoric-looking trees, climb over (and under) roots and are stopped in our tracks by what looks like a meerkat - It turns out to be a rather curious brown mongoose! As we climb further, the peak of Mount Liamuiga starts to edge closer. We push forward towards the summit, motivating each other through each final step until we reach the top. Stood at 1,156 metres above sea level, overlooking the volcanic crater, I feel like I've conquered the world!

NATURE'S REMEDY After enjoying a well deserved rest we start our descent, only stopping as we pass locals who are harvesting medicinal plants to take back to the village. I take the opportunity to collect some myself, just in case, and before long we're back on flat ground. That afternoon we share our experience with our hosts at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. It's only then that they tell us that only the fittest reach the top - I suspect it's just flattery but I'm certainly not going to argue!

g u book St. Kitts. Lo Earn ÂŁ50 when yo details at stkittsrew SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

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Charity trek to The Lost City BY LAUREN ROBERJOT-CLARKE, NOT JUST TRAVEL With only the essentials in our backpacks, we headed off in search of The Lost City of Colombia as part of a charity challenge with G Adventures, blissfully unaware of the expedition ahead of us. It took two-and-a-half days of navigating mud slides in the torrential rain, battling waist-deep rivers and bunking down in the jungle – bugspray at the ready – before we arrived at the 1,200 narrow and uneven steps that separated us from the Lost City. After catching our breath, we were invited by our local indigenous guides to take part in a ritual, welcoming us to leave our negative thoughts behind and cleanse ourselves before we explored the once-forgotten city. Even today it is estimated that just 10% of the site has been discovered. We were told stories of its origins from our local guides and had the chance to meet the spiritual leaders, Mamos and Saga, who keep an eye on the local tribes in the area. We then had time to enjoy the spectacular views of the terraced city and reflect on the journey and ourselves. That afternoon we headed back to Wiwa camp with our walking poles saving us from stumbling. In the evening the playing cards came out as we sat down and relived our

highlights of The Lost City. It didn't matter that we had to battle prehistoric-sized spiders to have a cold shower, we had made it to the top and that filled everyone with a sense of achievement. And being off the grid with no phone signal for five days had allowed us to appreciate it fully through every sense. On our last evening we settled into our bunk beds for one final time, a time we had grown to appreciate. The following morning was bittersweet as we enjoyed our final Colombian coffee, taking in the last of the sunrise views. A pancake breakfast was prepared and we bid farewell to our cooks, who had joined us for the whole trip, before heading off for one final trek. It was a leisurely stroll compared to previous day’s battles, with the majority being downhill. We laughed and sang along to our 'Jungle Playlist' cheering everyone along the way as we crept closer to a hot shower and a clean change of clothes! Once back at base, we had a farewell lunch and met a new group who had arrived eager and ready to take on their own trek. While memories and life-long friendships were made on this trip, the icing on the cake was the sum of money we had individually raised for our chosen charities, a thought we had held onto with every step.


From top, clockwise: A picture-perfect moment from the group of agents with G Adventures; agents faced a steep decent from The Lost City; rivers proved no obstacle; time for a selfie at the top


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TRAVEL PEOPLE on the move

MEET... ‘Whiskey Jean’ Michalak Heaven Hill Distillery

Kentucky means...




TO: Director of Sales & Marketing, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah and Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel

Paula will ramp up sales and marketing efforts for the re-opening of The Carlton Tower Jumeirah in London this spring. She will also need to recruit and train a dynamic team ahead of the re-opening.

TO: Head of Marketing, Global Travel Group

Stephanie will be responsible for leading Global Travel Group’s marketing team and driving strategies and campaigns. She will work alongside existing member agents and enable them to grow their brands and sales, as well as supporting new members.

Why is Kentucky famous for its Bourbon? It’s simple, 95% of the world’s Bourbon supply comes from Kentucky, so you could say we know what we’re talking about! Kentucky’s corn, limestone water, weather and charred oak barrel aging process all work in harmony to create the distinctive taste we’re famous for. And with 8.1 million barrels of Bourbon aging in the state right now, we’re not stopping anytime soon!

Describe the ‘Bourbon experience’? Guests can visit the Heaven Hill Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown to see where it all started. Here they’ll enjoy a guided tour through one of the barrel aging warehouses, and tastings of award-winning Bourbons. Or, head to the Heaven Hill Distillery in Louisville to explore the history of ‘Whiskey Row’ and learn about Kentucky’s first distiller, Evan Williams. But, of course, these are just two of the 18 stops on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®.



TO: Head of Marketing Transformation, APT

TO: Audley Travel, Trade Sales Manager

As former Head of Marketing for Thomas Cook, Katie is well versed in leading successful marketing campaigns which will prove useful as she reviews, develops and implements a new marketing strategy to drive APT’s UK business forward.

Audley Travel is increasing its focus on the trade with the appointment of the operator’s first Trade Sales Manager. Greg will build relationships with a network of travel agents and support them in selling Audley trips to their clients.

What if you don’t like Bourbon? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Bourbon connoisseur or if it’s not to your taste, once people hear our story they fall in love with what we represent. It embodies our local agriculture, history, craftmanship, and heritage and gives us a chance to showcase our true southern hospitality. For those that don’t like it straight, our Bourbon-based cocktails will win you over!

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Harriet will work across the commercial and product function for retail brand – Co-Operative Travel, the consortium brand – Co-op Travel Consortium, and the homeworking brand – The Personal Travel Agents.

Mark’s appointment will focus growing its digital community platform that supports and empowers Travel Counsellors’ business owners. In 2019 the company invested up to £7 million in technology, developing its dedicated app for agents.


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destination profile /


Okinawa With its white-sand beaches it’s easy to see why this subtropical prefecture in the East China Sea is known as the Caribbean of Asia, says Adam Coulter Don’t miss Peace Memorial In 1945 the Allied forces launched the biggest and bloodiest offensive in the Pacific. 82 days later, and an estimated 160,000 lives lost, the Americans secured the islands. The Peace Memorial Park is a tranquil spot with stone monuments engraved with the names of those who died. Watersports Kayaking and paddle boarding through the mangroves that fringe the islands to empty beaches are both popular pastimes. Below the water, although corals have been bleached in some spots (Ishigaki), you can still spot marine life including the famous manta rays. Karate Karate originated here, when the Samurai of the Ryukyu Kingdom developed the martial art as a form of self defence. This year it will be represented as an official sport at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Visit the Karate Kaikan for demos, workshops and exhibitions.

As I wandered around the Ishigaki Seaside Hotel – a lone building sitting on a broad crescent of white sand – I couldn’t help but feel I’d walked into the set of an Elvis movie, specifically Blue Hawaii. Everywhere I went the muzak followed me, all jangling guitars and swaying palm trees. Not that Hawaii is anywhere near Ishigaki - it’s one of 250 islands at the southernmost point of the Japanese archipelago - but it is on the same latitude (as Florida and the Bahamas, too) and enjoys a similar balmy, subtropical climate. Having spent a week in hectic Tokyo, just two-and-a-half hours north by plane, this island could not be more of a contrast. Long stretches of white sand, lapped by crystal-clear waters and fringed by coral reefs, are the hallmark of Ishigaki. You can walk undisturbed, save the odd fisherman, for miles around here, exploring tiny coves, forested hills and mangrove bays.

Expect the unexpected Formerly run as an independent state known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, the islands have developed a distinct culture, cuisine, crafts and dialect from the rest of Japan. Okinawa is the best known of the islands because of the part it played in the Second World War (see the ‘Don’t Miss’ column), but there are many other islands worth exploring that offer a glimpse into a Japan few would expect - and with no crowds. These islands would appeal to

Cherry Blossoms Japan is synonymous with cherry blossom festivals in late April/May – but you can beat the crowds (and the costs) with a visit to Okinawa, where the blossoms appear as early as January. The varieties are also different from the rest of the country, including a deep pink colour.


honeymooners looking for somewhere completely different; a young family wanting a sun and beach combination with a twist and anyone keen on marine sports. Here you can try windsurfing, jet-skiing, paddle-boarding, snorkelling and scuba diving, with highlights including the largest single coral in Japan (known as ‘the potato’) and manta rays, which congregate off the coast year-round.

Resorts & connections There are plans to build a second pier at Okinawa’s largest city, Naha, as well as developing a cruise resort complex with hotels, restaurants and shopping malls. The aim is to attract two million cruise passengers by 2021. The ultra-cute Hello Kitty-themed Hotel Okinawa opened last year in Naha. Other recent additions include the 360-room, Hawaiian-style luxury resort Halekulani Okinana on the main island and, on Miyaki Island, the 160-room Hotel Shigira Mirage with a golf course, private beach and an ultra-luxury boutique hotel, The Rescape. Numerous domestic flights connect Okinawa to Tokyo, Taiwan (just 110 kms away), China, Hong Kong and Bangkok. • Book it with... Inside Japan InsideJapan has a nine-night package from £2,161pp. It includes five nights of B&B at the Ishigaki Seaside Hotel, airport transfers, car hire on Ishigaki, a day-trip to nearby Taketomi


Island and two dives.


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Boston Boston is a cracking city break destination, says Richard Williams, filled with exciting historical, cultural, sporting and culinary experiences Why sell it? Many travellers use Boston as a jumping-off point to explore America’s northeast coast. Trips up through New Hampshire and Maine are popular, as are tours of Cape Cod and its islands and the quaint coastal ports of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Agents who can create a package including a Boston citybreak, car hire, and a tour itinerary with accommodation and interesting experiences can expect to benefit.

Who to sell to Boston can be sold to travellers wanting something less complicated, large and brash than New York or L.A. It is a walkable city, with parks and museums, and appeals to the older generation – those with time to stroll and browse. It is also good for families and has the fifth largest LGBT population in the U.S.

What to sell Boston is strongly identified with the anti-colonial struggles of the American Revolution: it is the site of the Boston Tea Party and the Battle of Bunker Hill. A visit to the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum is an informative and fun recreation of the event aboard a period vessel, with actors in full costume playing up the radical views and righteous anger of the colonists. The 4km-long Freedom Trail walking tour


includes 16 historical landmarks that tell the story of Boston. It starts in smart Beacon Hill, with its rows of redbrick houses set on steep, cobbled streets. Former residents include writers Henry James, Robert Frost and Louisa May Alcott. The Freedom Trail includes North End, a neighbourhood settled in 1630. The small groceries and family-run restaurants have an appealing Italian flavour. Here too is the Paul Revere House, a fine example of 17thcentury wooden architecture. The retail centre of Boston is the relatively new Back Bay area, home to the city’s most exclusive mall, Copley Place, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. After all that culture, visitors can enjoy one of the friendly Irish bars along Boylston Street, or tuck into the local lobster or clam chowder.

When to sell it


Spring is the start of the baseball season, and you might catch a game at the legendary Red Sox home stadium, Fenway Park. The city alsohosts the Boston Marathon in April.

Summer sees temperatures around 30C while autumn brings crowds of ‘leafpeepers’ for the spectacular reds and golds of the New England fall. October sees the Head of the Charles Regatta rowing race, and the start of the whale-watching season.

What's new The Time Out Market Boston food hall, with 15 restaurants, two bars and a shop, opened in Fenway in October with local and international cuisine and communal dining tables in an Art Deco space. On May 22 Delta is launching new flights from Gatwick and Manchester to Boston. Delta’s summer seasonal Edinburgh-Boston flight also restarts on May 22, while Virgin Atlantic and Delta fly daily year-round to Boston from Heathrow. • Book it with... America As You Like It The eight-night Highlights & Gardens of Massachusetts is priced from £1,215pp and includes three nights in Boston plus visits to Salem, the Berkshires and Cape Cod.


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Beantown knocks it out of the park for work and relaxation You can choose your own adventure when it comes to Boston. Whether you’re there for business or pleasure, this town was made for soaking up the sports, exploring brownstone basement boutiques and engaging with its rich history. With convenient daily flights with Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air LinesŽ from Edinburgh*, Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester* airport. Boston is an amazing gateway into the United States, as well as a legendary location for anyone who walks its cobbled streets. Head to to book your flight to Boston today.

*Edinburgh and Manchester operate a seasonal daily service between May 22 and September 8 2020.

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Crystal_OC_SellingTravel_Ad_Jan20.qxp_Crystal_OC_SellingTravel_Ad_Jan20 17/01/2020 15:48 Page 1




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luxury cruising /


Subtle but


sanctuary retreats, Egypt

Creating a moving five-star hotel is the name of the game for luxury cruise lines and while space and service is key, exclusive access is most precious, says Jane Archer

saint Vincent and the grenadines


he entertainment team is at the door greeting us as we enter the theatre. “Can I get you a drink?” a voice asks quietly. Moments later a perfectly chilled glass of fizz appears. Luxury indeed! I’m on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Explorer. The décor is classic American with Art Deco touches, there’s oodles of space for the few hundred of us onboard and my suite is lovely. I’ve got a balcony, a walk-in wardrobe and a spacious bathroom, and a bottle of fizz is waiting for me when I embark in Stockholm. I’m already impressed, and things just get better. Crew who uncannily know when I’m in need of a tipple, delicious dinners everywhere I eat – a tough call but Chartreuse, a glamorous French restaurant, is my favourite – and nothing to pay for any of it. The ‘nothing to pay’ theme continues on port days, because with Regent loads of excursions are included in the price. I choose a tour of the Hermitage and Faberge Museums in St Petersburg, learn all about amber in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda and meet a rabbi in Riga, Latvia. Sadly, all good things come to an end and after 10 days of being wined, dined and

spoilt beyond belief, I have to disembark. But not before one last hurrah. My final bill is zero. That’s the kind of all-inclusive luxury that has you coming back for more.

Upping the ante The number of new luxury ships, yachts and river craft being built these days is extraordinary. This year alone, January had barely started before Uniworld River Cruises launched new vessels on the Mekong River and the Nile. As February dawns, eyes are on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ new ship Seven Seas Splendor, which Regent was touting as ‘luxury perfected’ before it was even built. The luxury ball keeps rolling with new ships and itineraries from Silversea, Crystal Cruises, Aqua Expeditions and Ritz Carlton. “With more ships and destinations than ever, there’s a great opportunity for agents to convert luxury land clients to cruise by matching their passions with the right product,” says Lynn Narraway, UK Managing Director, Seabourn. One of the things driving the growth of ultra-luxury cruising is destination, according to Peter Shanks, Managing Director UK, Silversea, with small ships that dominate the sector accessing exclusive

seabourn at sunset

uniworld guests in the amazon

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T Scenic Eclipse’s helicopter


s S m a t o

A crystal endeavor’s library

ports that large vessels have to pass. “We are seeing regular cruisers upgrade from a big ship premium cruise line to true luxury and the more inclusive experience that the likes of Silversea can provide,” he says. Getting to grips with the cruise industry’s concept of premium and ultra-luxury can be confusing. For the former, it’s lines such as Celebrity Cruises, Cunard and Oceania Cruises, which offer an upscale product but have bigger ships and less-inclusive fares. Ultra-luxury means lines with ships that hold just a few hundred passengers and fares that include drinks and tips. Often flights are also included. Defining luxury on the rivers is no easier, with barely a hair’s breadth between the quality of ships, cuisine and service offered on top-end lines such as Crystal Cruises, Uniworld River Cruises, Scenic and AmaWaterways. Elaine Gillard, Crystal’s UK Marketing Director, admits staying ahead of the luxury cruiser is not easy. “They want to explore new places, experience new cultures, try new cuisines. Whether it be

ocean, river or expedition cruising, they are looking for something different.” There are identifiable trends though. CLIA UK & Ireland Director Andy Harmer says: “We are seeing an increased focus on health and well-being as lines introduce new plant-based menus and healthy dining options and extend their onboard fitness programmes to include classes such as thai chi and yoga.” Regent’s free and unlimited shore excursions are a big selling point, but the line is also spicing up its paid-for options to offer more exclusive experiences. Paul Beale , Senior Sales Director UK, says: “Seven Seas Splendor is offering a host of shore excursions during its inaugural season in Europe that have been curated with local operators and cannot be experienced with any other cruise line.”

What’s new Ships: Silversea’s new Silver Origin is a sleek yacht designed for island-hopping in the Galapagos Islands. It has just 50 suites, all attended by butlers, with almost as many staff as passengers.

a signature yachts shore excursion

Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor is a luxurious new 200-passenger discovery yacht with all-suite accommodation, butlers and a restaurant and sushi bar created by chef Nobu Matsuhisa. Aqua Expeditions is bringing luxury to the Amazon with the Aqua Nera. It will have décor inspired by Portuguese, Spanish and Peruvian styles, and serve cuisine created by leading Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. In April, Celebrity Cruises will launch the new Celebrity Apex with a mini-season of cruises from Southampton. Tauck’s new river ship, The Andorinha, has Balinese day beds, an infinity pool and pop-up restaurant on its sun deck. The vessel will be cruising the Douro in Northern Portugal from April. Itineraries: Sanctuary Retreats’ luxurious Nile Adventurer has gone on sale through Fred River Cruises. An eight-night package pairing a cruise with a stay in Cairo is from £2,400pp. Michel Roux, chef patron of the Michelinstarred Le Gavroche, is the special guest on a food-themed transatlantic crossing

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T s o p o r G b

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For more information call 0161 288 1970 or email Terms and conditions: Terms and conditions: Prices and availability correct at time of going to print (22 January 2020). Offers are valid for new bookings only made by 29 February 2020 on selected itineraries on selected dates. Earlybird Fares are strictly limited. 10% Earlybird discount is on the cruise only-price for new bookings only. *Free Business Class Flight Upgrade is subject to availability on qualifying flights, valid one way only on selected Americas cruises from our 2020-2022 Collection and selected Antarctica cruises departing in 2020. Supplements may apply if travelling on non-specified routes and from regional departure points. Upgrades are non-transferable and no cash or credit alternative will be offered. The promotion has no cash value and is not combinable with any other offers. Private door-to-door transfers are complimentary within a 75 mile radius and are subject to availability. For guests who live outside of this 75 mile radius, an additional supplement of £2.00 per mile will be charged thereafter, UK mainland only. No cash alternative. Helicopters are unable to operate in South Georgia. Helicopter and submarine activities are weather permitting, subject to availability and regulatory approvals and incur additional costs. All drinks on board are included except for a very small number of rare, fine and vintage wines, champagnes and spirits. Offers can be withdrawn at any time.

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to New York on Queen Mary 2 from June 7-14. From £1,249pp with flights. APT Ambassador and celebrity chef Luke Nguyen will be hosting a tour of old Saigon and cooking up a treat on APT’s 15-day Vietnam and Cambodia Highlights cruiseand-stay holiday departing November 16. From £5,995pp including flights.

Luxury experiences The Adriatic with Silversea: A 10-day voyage round-trip from Venice on Silver Moon in October is from £6,480pp including flights. Highlights include hiking around the Kamacnik Canyon from Rijeka in Croatia and kayaking in Kotor. The Douro with Uniworld River Cruises: A seven-day voyage from Porto on Sao Gabriel is from £4,099pp in April including flights. Highlights include dining at traditional Portuguese quintas and a day in the Spanish city of Salamanca. Caribbean island-hopping with Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection: A sevennight cruise from Barbados on Evrima in November is from £3,918pp. Highlights include exploring the spice island of Grenada and beaches in Bequia. South America with Scenic: The 17-day Chilean Fjords & Cape Horn itinerary aboard Scenic Eclipse links Santiago to Buenos Aires, with highlights including the dramatic Chilean coastline, the remote Island of Chiloe, and the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego. Wine-tasting with SeaDream Yacht Club: A seven-day cruise from Barcelona on SeaDream I in October is from £3,712pp. Highlights include vineyard visits and a Champagne tasting and degustation dinner hosted by Hatt et Söner House Director Kristofer Ruscon. The Red Sea with Oceania Cruises: A 20-day voyage from Istanbul on Sirena is from £4,259pp including

“We are seeing an increased focus on health and wellbeing as lines introduce new plant-based menus and healthy dining options and extend their onboard fitness programmes to include thai chi and yoga” Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland Director

Ritz Carlton Yacht Collection

flights. Highlights include two days in Israel, optional tours of ancient Greek city Ephesus and a transit of the Suez Canal. The Danube with AmaWaterways: A seven-night voyage from Budapest on AmaMagna in August is from £3,028pp cruise-only. Highlights include Vienna and Salzburg, and a hike to Richard the Lionheart’s erstwhile prison in Dürnstein.

silversea in the arctic

Where to book it CRYSTAL CRUISES - 020 7399 7601 Crystal Symphony is offering an 11-night voyage from Dover to Amsterdam in August with two days in Edinburgh during the Royal Military Tattoo. Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, Bergen and a night in Amsterdam complete the itinerary. It is priced from £4,532pp cruise-only. SEABOURN – 0344 338 8615 Seabourn Ovation is island-hopping around the Caribbean on a series of cruises round-trip from Barbados this winter. From £2,500pp cruise-only for a week calling into Saint Lucia and Antigua departing November 21. •

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DISCOVER Ancient history, style and sophistication on the Nile

Gliding down the world’s longest waterway there is an ancient past still alive in majestic monuments and relics, threaded along the river banks of the Nile. This captivating backdrop is mirrored in Sanctuary Retreats’ four ultra-luxurious river cruise boats, each elegantly designed to ensure a distinct sense of being in storied Egypt. Your river cruise adventure awaits.




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America's west, as you like it

LA room boost

Los Angeles will see a flurry of new hotel openings this year, particularly in Hollywood with the Godfrey Hotel, The Pendry,


Thompson and Tommie Hotel. Other 2020 openings in the city will include Fairmont Century Plaza, the W Los Angeles Downtown, The Cambria

Coachella, in Greater Palm Springs, will see its first luxury resort this year. Hotel Indigo will be designed with visitors to the nearby Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in mind, with casita-style rooms, an oversized pool, fashion runway with DJ stage, spa and yoga studio. The festival takes place in Indio, 10 minutes from the hotel. visitgreater

Hotel Los Angeles (Downtown), and Citizen M Los Angeles Downtown.

Busch Gardens ride

Due to open in the spring at Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay, Iron Gwazi is being described as the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid coaster. Also North America’s tallest,

the wood and steel hybrid coaster will

Suggest the Rocky Mountain states to second- or third-time clients to the US looking for a taste of America beyond tourist crowds. "Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Idaho epitomise a region packed with adventure opportunities, cultural rides into the heart of cowboy-land and historical trips discovering the silent battlefields of Cowboys and Native Indians," said Maggi Smit, Managing Director of America as You Like it. The operator has a 15-day tour that takes in fabulous scenery, mountains, lakes, prairies and waterfalls. Starting and ending in Denver, highlights include Cheyenne, Rapid City (where day trips can include Mount Rushmore, the still-in-progress Crazy Horse mountain carving and Badlands National Park), Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park and many others. Prices start from £1,805pp, with flights, accommodation and car rental.

plunge riders from a 206 foot-tall peak into a 91-degree drop, reaching top speeds of 76 miles per hour.

Aer Lingus record

Aer Lingus carried a record

two-and-a-half million guests between Ireland and North America in 2019. The Irish flag carrier flies to 14 North American destinations and last year its top five most popular destinations were New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Florida.

BLOG February is the month of Fat

Tuesday and Mardi Gras Parades. The best-known celebrations take place in New Orleans, but the oldest Mardi Gras is still held in Mobile, Alabama. Other cities to celebrate Mardi Gras in style include St. Louis, Galveston, San Diego and Pensacola. For more great festivals see....... More Blog content at Look out for our Visit USA (UK) online Travel Update for the pick of members' news

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SAN FRANCISCO'S GOLDEN GATE PARK IS MARKING ITS 150TH ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR BY ADDING AN ILLUMINATED 150-FOOT OBSERVATION WHEEL. OPERATING FROM APRIL 4 2020 UNTIL MARCH 1, 2021 IT WILL PROVIDE RIDERS WITH VIEWS THAT STRETCH FROM THE OCEAN TO DOWNTOWN FLY HIGH WITH THESE AIRLINES AND AIRPORTS Check out our Visit USA UK members • Aer Lingus Ltd • American Airlines • Bradley International Airport (BDL), Hartford, Connecticut • British Airways • Delta Airlines • Hawaiian Airlines • Icelandair • Norwegian • United Airlines Virgin Atlantic/ Delta

Reasons for Texas scramble There are plenty of fresh reasons to add Dallas to a Texas or southwestern touring itinerary in 2020. Virgin Hotels has opened a 200-room hotel in Dallas’ hip and growing Design District, the fourth planned Virgin ‘lifestyle hotel’ in the U.S. Also new is Hall Arts Hotel, with art the cornerstone of the boutique hotel’s design and interiors featuring contemporary works from local and international artists. Opening later this year the seven-story Pittman Hotel will see 164 luxury guestrooms, a pool, an outdoor and indoor restaurant and bar. Also new to the city is the AT&T Discovery District, a $100-million downtown project with shopping, dining, entertainment, a beer garden and more than 300 scheduled annual events. Dallas's strong line-up of tourist attractions include the Dallas Museum of Art, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the Dallas World Aquarium and Reunion Tower.

When did West Virginia join Visit USA and why? We have been a member since August 2019. It gives us a great platform from which to share with the travel trade and consumers the best of what the Mountain State has to offer. Tell us a few 'must sell' West Virginia highlights. There are mountains and there is adventure! The Gauley River, with over 100 rapids, is recognised by rafting enthusiasts as one of the best white-water destinations in North America. West Virginia is also home to the HatfieldMcCoy Trail Systems, with over 700 miles of off-road trail networks; Harpers Ferry National Historic Park; and Snowshoe Mountain, which hosted a Mountain Bike World Cup last year and offers great skiing from November to March. How does the state fit into a Southern USA itinerary? West Virginia is easily accessible from Washington DC, which is just an hour's drive from Shepherdstown, a town with American Civil War history. The Appalachian Mountains form a spine through the state and point a trail to America’s South, into Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

Subscribe to the Visit USA (UK) online Travel Update at

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36 / my journey

Getting back to nature in

Langkawi Martin Steady experiences an intriguing mix of opulent pampering and breathtaking action in Malaysia – with a little help from Mother Nature


t’s just a platform,” I tell myself. But there are no steps, no escalator and no obvious way of making an exit – except for what they call ‘controlled free fall’. As I inch myself to the edge of the abyss my bravado leaves me. I can no longer pretend that I was just being polite by allowing others to go first. This is where it ends. I’ve been zipping through the canopy of towering trees in Langkawi’s glorious rainforest at the Machinchang Geopark. There are 12 ziplines up to 200 metres long and three bridges and we’ve soared over the Seven Wells waterfall and enjoyed spectacular views of the ocean. But the final zipline ends here and I must now zip straight down. You’d think this would be enough adrenaline for one trip, but no. Only two minutes away is the famous Langkawi SkyCab – the steepest cable car ride on earth – and the record-breakingly-long SkyBridge. My adventure had begun at Pantai Kok’s Oriental Village, a themed outdoor complex complete with a 6D cinemotion experience and the option to ride a Segway. Onboard the Langkawi Skycab we’re lifted 2.2 kilometres high above

the dense virgin rainforest canopy of Gunung Machinchang. This majestic mountain rises to 708m above sea level and on clear days you can see not only the Andaman Sea but the southern Thailand coastline beyond. We rise to the Top Station for a 15-minute trip in one of the glass-bottomed gondolas over the ancient treetops.

Star quality The contrast between my thrill-seeking day out and our hotel couldn’t be more stark. As soon we pull up outside The Danna Langkawi ( I know we are in for some extraordinary hospitality. If you want to be treated like royalty, this five-star resort is a safe bet. Over a cocktail making presentation and tasting evening we persuade the GM, Mr Aamir Khan, to divulge some of the celebrity names that have stayed here – it’s a who’s who of international stars and politicians I am not at liberty to share but it gives me an idea of the level of service you can expect here. My Princess Villa is a refined living at its best, with a luxuriously upholstered bedroom and sitting areas wrapped in luxury décor, surrounded by vegetation, making for total privacy when I take a dip in my private pool overlooking the Andaman Sea. I feel as if I’m on a movie set as I stroll along the quay towards our luxury yacht. I seriously doubt this ‘yacht’ has ever unfurled its sails but what does unfold is an evening of great food and drink,

my journey /

We await a ride on the Langkawi SkyCab - the steepest cable car ride on earth! hysterical laughter, thumping live DJ music, dancing and beautiful sunset views as we glide along past tropical scenery. The following day we embark on a short drive (nowhere is far in Langkawi) and are ushered into boats for a tour of the mangroves. Soon, stillness descends and the only soundtrack is animal squeaks, snorts and rustles as various creatures scramble away - snakes, lizards, wild dogs and many other stealthy inhabitants. At Langkawi’s famed bat caves (Gua Kelawar) we admire and recoil in equal measure at these bizarre flying mammals suspended from the roof.

Ethnic charm Our next home is the Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort ( I am mourning the Danna but it doesn’t take me long to be won over by this awardwinning Asian hospitality brand. Its 355 wooden chalets are inspired by traditional Malay village architecture and all have private balconies and views of the sea and surrounding tropical landscape. The choice of activities is impressive and I struggle to keep tabs on all the pools, bars, restaurants, fitness and wellness facilities, sports options, and shopping opportunities. The white sandy beach of Cenang is one kilometre long and offers plenty of room for sun seekers and the chance to try out various cocktails whilst lounging on the massive bean bags. If you bore of pampering and relaxation there’s plenty of action to be had and I am lured away from the beach with

the promise of a Megawatersports Jetski Safari. Following our leader in a ‘v’ formation, onward we plough, visiting several of the area’s idyllic islands and gradually getting used to these machines, until, fancying ourselves action-heroes, we charge home at full throttle. As my time in Langkawi ebbs away, I jump at the chance to visit a remarkable resort. Ambong Ambong Villas (ambongpoolvillas. com) comprises individual naturesensitive accommodations built to exquisite standards amidst the lush rainforest with infinity pools and BBQ areas, all in perfect harmony with nature. I leave Malaysia convinced that Langkawi offers the ultimate in manmade luxury and human-engineered adrenaline. But what really makes it stand out is how nature is entwined in every experience – from the zip lining to the villa chilling – mother nature is always involved and most importantly always respected. • Where to book it... Premier Holidays ( has seven nights at the Meritus Pelangi Beach & Spa resort, from £1199pp including travel. Kenwood Travel (kenwoodtravel. has seven nights at The Danna Langkawi from £1171pp with flights. The author flew with Qatar Airways (


38 / 48 hours in

Waterton Just three hours from Calgary in the southwest corner of Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park is considered the ‘hidden gem’ of the Canadian Rockies Day 1: Chasing waterfalls

Day 2: Fuel the adventure

08.00: Start the morning by fuelling 10.00: After breakfast at one of up at Pearls Café, which serves up Waterton's local eateries, a range of hearty breakfasts, saddle up and take a guided including its signature French toast, for horseback ride from the Alpine Stables on a hungry hikers. western adventure for the whole family. 09.30: An early start is recommended Experience a variety of wildlife, alpine habitat to cover as much ground as possible. and wildflowers as you meander through Waterton Lakes National Park has 120 Aspen forests towards scenic outlooks. miles of trails, ranging from easy strolls to Learn local history and hopefully get a strenuous hikes, but a recommended glimpse of elk, big horn sheep, coyotes and starting point is the Bear’s Hump trail up maybe a black bear along the way. Riders Mount Crandell. Conveniently located off the from as young as five years old can choose Visitor Information Centre’s car park, it’s a from a one-, two-, three-hour, or half-day short (2.8km) but steep workout that pays trip, regardless of experience. off in an unparalleled view of Upper 12.30: After lunch at one of the Waterton Lake, with Waterton town nestled lakeside restaurants, why not below. Or for a gentler pace, take a short explore the park on one of the meander along the Bertha Lake Trail, a RAD eBikes from Pat’s, a Waterton 5.2km round-trip to Lower Bertha Falls, institution. The assisted pedal power will which offers splendid help you get up those views of Upper hills with ease. “Take a scenic drive to Red Waterton Lake from 14.00: Or, Rock Canyon to see its Bertha Point. to truly 11.30: Next, experience striking red-and-green in keeping where the mountains bedrock layers and learn with the meet the prairies, about the native waterfall theme, visit why not take the Cameron Falls, which scenic 16km Red civilisations” is easily accessible by Rock Parkway to Red foot or car, and located right in the Rock Canyon, walking a short loop to see its middle of town. This waterfall can be striking red-and-green bedrock layers. It’s a viewed directly from the street, or for a photographer’s paradise. Walk another 1km different perspective follow a short but steep to Blakiston Falls to get an impressive trail to a viewing platform birds-eye view of the waterfall over the deepoverlooking the falls. red rocks. Or, if you’re up for a bigger 13.30: Take afternoon tea at the challenge, walk to Goat Lake. At seven iconic Prince of Wales Hotel. kilometres, with a steeper ascent, it certainly Perched on a bluff high above the gets the heart rate up, but it’s one of the best lake, this recognisable landmark was places in the park to see mountain goats. constructed in 1927 and is grand survivor of 16.30: Finish the day with an ice-cream the golden age of railways. The panoramic from Moose Lick Ice Cream Parlour view from the dining room goes perfectly while strolling the Lakeshore pathway, with tea and cake. watching the sun set across the lake. • 16.00: Enjoy a two-nation vacation with a two-and--a-half hour Book it with... First Class Holidays round-trip tour aboard the First Class Holidays offers a 10-day Alberta historic ship M.V. International. Cruise along Adventure self-drive trip from £2,229pp, the shoreline of the deepest lake in the including flights. The trip starts in Calgary and Canadian Rockies, Upper Waterton Lake, features two nights in Waterton, plus stops in crossing the International border to Goat Banff and Drumheller. Haunt, Montana.





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hidden gems /



Wildlife parks It’s one of the most densely populated countries on earth but India still has room for wildlife. Laura Gelder looks at some of the country’s lesser-known parks

Sasan-Gir Wildlife Sanctuary

The only place where you can see wild lions outside of Africa, Gujarat’s Sasan-Gir is a land of rugged hills with high ridges, densely forested valleys of teak and evergreen and savannah-like grassland. Along with the endangered Asiatic lion, which differs from its African cousin thanks to a fold of skin on its belly, the park is also home to leopards, pointy-eared jungle cats, the shy desert cat and the tiny rusted spotted cat. Plus jackals, striped hyenas, mongoose and wild boars. Resident reptiles include marsh crocodiles, Indian rock pythons and monitor lizards.

Nagarahole National Park

Backed by the hills of the Western Ghats, this Karnataka park is filled with fragrant sandalwood and teak trees, thick groves of bamboo and winding streams. Tigers are, of course, the star but sloth bears, leopards, wild dogs, sambar, spotted and barking deer, four-horned antelopes, elephant and wild boars are also easily spotted. Visitors can take a jeep safari or drift down meandering streams in a coracle (a small round boat) along the Kabini River where aquatic birds, crocodiles and Indian elephants could appear.

Hemis National Park

High in the snow-cloaked peaks of the Himalayas in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, this is home to one of the planet’s most elusive cats, the snow leopard. Amongst this stark landscape, punctuated by colourful fluttering prayer flags, there are also hardy wild sheep, ibex, goats and the endangered Tibetan wild ass, which cling to the rocky habitat, while wolves and foxes stalk rotund marmots. Bird life includes the golden eagle, several species of vulture and rare birds like the Tibetan snow finch. On the site of the ancient silk route, Hemis is also home to a 400-year-old monastery.


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40 / hidden gems

Kaziranga National Park

Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985, Kaziranga in Assam is one of the last areas in eastern India largely untouched by humans. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s population of endangered greater one-horned rhinos live among the park’s dense jungle. On the floodplains of the Brahmaputra River, the reserve hides tigers amid elephant grass meadows and closely-knit forests of Indian gooseberry, cotton, and elephant Apple trees. It is also a breeding ground for elephants, wild water buffalo, and swamp deer.

Satpura National Park

Periyar National Park

Khangchendzonga National Park

This West Bengal park is home to the largest mangrove forest in the world and also the largest population of Royal Bengal tigers, many of which can often be seen swimming. The park’s meandering rivers, springs, creeks and estuaries, which connect to neighbouring Bangledesh, are also home to saltwater crocodiles and Ganges River dolphins.

The least-known tiger reserve in central India, Satpura in Madhya Pradesh offers safaris by jeep, motorboat, kayak and on foot. Note though, it’s not the best place to see tigers because the terrain is rugged, though beautiful. Sandstone peaks, green forests, narrow gorges, slot canyons and ravines conceal temples and waterfalls. It’s a good place to see the sloth bear and is home to many deer and antelope species, including diminutive Indian muntjacs, long-limbed spotted chital and antlered sambars and blackbucks.

Situated in the Cardamom Hills in Kerala, this green area is home to much rare flora and fauna as well as tribal settlements. Visitors can take a boat safari on Thekkady lake to see herds of Indian bison, deer, wild boar, elephants and perhaps the playful smooth Indian otter. Egrets and kingfishers are frequently seen perched on trees in the lake.

Sundarbans National Park

Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park There are 15 islands of mangrove creeks and tropical rainforest in this Andaman Islands reserve, only two of which are open to the public. The islands are surrounded by rich coral reefs and home to indigenous tribes. Visitors can enjoy trekking, camping, snorkelling and diving to see myriad tropical fish, manta rays and turtles. However, saltwater crocodiles also lurk off the postcard-worthy beaches.

Famous for the red panda, Tibetan antelopes and snow leopards, this park gets its name from a mountain, the third highest peak in the world. Like the mountain, the western boundary of the park is shared with the border of Nepal. Home to nearly half of India’s bird diversity, wild trees, orchids and rhododendrons, the landscape provides a critical refuge for species like the clouded leopard, golden cat, large Indian Civet and flying squirrel.

Book it with... Wild Frontiers The 13-day Tigers of Central India trip includes a walking safari and evening boat ride on Satpura National Park’s River Denwa, plus owl watching, and three other parks famous for tiger safaris. From £3,570pp, land-only.


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One of the oldest civilisations in the world, India is a mosaic of multicultural experiences

Head to the mountains, enjoy a beach retreat or cruise through the golden Thar, India has options galore for all


Indiatourism London High Commission of India, India House, Aldwych London WC2B4NA, United Kingdom Tel: 44 20 7437 3677,

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42 / sponsored content

Spotlight on...

Heritage Resorts

In conversation with Caroline Tjia and Amy Woodward-Witt, Senior Sales and Marketing Account Executives at Heritage Resorts


What is the ethos of Heritage

A: (Caroline Tjia) Heritage is about escaping the ordinary and stepping into the extraordinary. It’s about indulging in things you long for: from calm moments to thrilling escapades. It’s about Mauritian indulgence.


What is your USP?

A: (Amy Woodward-Witt) Set on a 2,500-hectare domain on the most preserved coast of Mauritius, Heritage Resorts can be labelled as a holistic hospitality and leisure destination within a destination! Guests can explore the many facets our island has to offer: lush tropical nature, a warm and translucent lagoon, meaningful and enriching encounters with locals, and the most peaceful and preserved environment for memorable, transformational holidays aimed at families, honeymooners, golfers, wellness seekers, foodies, or conscious travellers.


Tell us about your properties.

A: (CT) Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Wellness Resort is an all-suite (60 sqm-plus), all-butler hotel offering a unique ‘gourmet

bliss’ dining passport and holistic wellness experience matched with access to the award-wining Heritage Golf Club. Heritage Awali Golf & Spa Resort perfects the warm, welcoming and vibrant Mauritian character with the best all-inclusive five-star offering on the island. Last but not least, Heritage The Villas boasts fully-equipped luxury properties for the ultimate intimacy and peace, also with access to the Heritage Golf Course and fivestar resort services.

Qagents book Why should

with Heritage?

A: (CT) Our UK sales team is fun, friendly, helpful and committed to delivering an exceptional service to our trade partners, covering the UK’s north and south and Ireland.


Do you have a sustainability policy?

A: (AW) Sustainable development is at the heart of our business and employees are what drives it. Our resorts have both been Green Key labelled for the last three years. Energy and water consumption measures have been implemented; we use ecofriendly washing and cleaning products and favour natural fertilizers; we are committed to the mantra of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’;

we source locally for our resort shops and foster community engagement thanks to the Yellow Submarine programme, which sees locals learn about how to preserve their ecosystem and beach and village clean-ups. We also work with Foodwise, a local social enterprise fighting food waste and giving kids in need a decent meal.


What’s planned for 2020?

A: (CT) Many thrilling events, such as the second edition of our Mauritius Wellness Festival, hosted at the newly refurbished Heritage C Beach Club from May 22-24. It will feature ‘mind-body practice’ such as yoga, Pilates and meditation led by experts; nature connection like forest bathing; inspirational talks on holistic health covering nutrition and stress management; personal development; artistic expression ranging from singing to painting; and spirituality and how to find your life philosophy.

Qholiday destination?

What makes Mauritius the perfect

A: (AW) The warm tropical weather, friendly and smiling locals, healthy and positive atmosphere, safe environment and stunning nature. But above all the outstanding hospitality portfolio – all a direct flight away from London. •

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how to sell /


Ajman A tranquil enclave with the UAE’s best beaches, Ajman is an Arabian haven for holidaymakers as well as wildlife, says Sasha Wood Why sell it? This peaceful little Arabian oasis bisected by lagoons and mangrove forests, and fringed by natural sandy beaches, seems a world away from the glittering artifice of Dubai but it’s only a half-hour drive from Dubai International Airport. Blessed with some of the UAE’s best beaches and a clutch of small luxury beach hotels that are quieter and more affordable than Dubai, the emirate is a haven for holidaymakers as well as wildlife, including resident flamingos that frequent the lagoon.

Who to sell to For travellers in search of affordable winter sun within easy reach of the UK, Ajman is ideal. A mid-haul destination half-way between Europe and Asia, flight times are under seven hours and the range of direct flight options from the UK to nearby Dubai keep prices very reasonable. Ajman also offers excellent value for money, where even rates at the exclusive Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah are comparatively inexpensive. Family-friendly hotels opening out onto safe stretches of sand also make it a great family beach holiday destination, while nature lovers will revel in the unspolit Al Zorah Nature Reserve.

What to sell Ajman is a very nature-driven destination with perhaps the most unexpected sight in



the UAE – the vast green coastal forests of Al Zorah – and pristine beaches just as nature intended. The protected Al Zorah wetlands act as a nursery for marine species, and provide a sanctuary for more than 60 bird species including greater spotted eagles, and greater flamingos. Visitors can explore with guided kayak tours of the mangroves, creeks and lagoons. A pocket of authentic Arabia, the emirate is also a great place to sample the real UAE, with laid-back Souq Saleh sheltering colourful shops under its palm-frond covered roof, and Ajman Dhow Yard still building traditional wooden boats and offering a portal into the Arabia of old. Visitors can take a dhow cruise up the creek, or get a history fix at the Ajman Museum, housed inside an 18th-century fortress at the centre of the restored heritage district. Recently reopened, the Ajman Pearl Tour takes visitors on an journey through the region's pearling trade. For those who want to explore the highlights of neighbouring Emirates, Desert Adventures offers fun days out from Ajman such as the Heritage Desert Safari to Dubai’s Desert Conservation Reserve in a fleet of

classic 1950s Land Cruisers and dawn hot air balloon rides over the desert.

When to sell it The sun shines on Ajman year-round, and daytime temperatures rarely drop below the mid-twenties. From October to April, the climate is just right for a beach break.

How to sell it Just 12 miles from Dubai Airport, Ajman can be a great switch-sell for customers interested in a fly-and-flop to Dubai. For a quiet beachside retreat away from the crowds, it’s an oasis of calm with a strong Arabian heritage. With most hotels providing a shuttle service between Ajman and Dubai, its famous neighbour is never far away. • Book it with... Kuoni Kuoni offers seven nights in Ajman, staying at the Ajman Saray, a Luxury Collection Resort. Direct flights from Gatwick are with Emirates. The deal is priced from £749pp.


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44 / six of the best

Hikes in

China If your China itinerary is heavy on culture but your clients like to stay active, Laura Gelder has six ideas agents can suggest for exploring China’s great outdoors on foot The Yellow Mountain

Named Huangshan in Chinese, this range in Anhui province is famous for the mists which cloak the pines clinging to the steep rock, making for an ethereal atmosphere that has inspired many Chinese paintings and poems. There are various routes, taking from two to four hours, which pass whimsically named rock formations like ‘monkey watching the sea’ and ‘immortal pointing the way’.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Located in Hunan province, this was the first national forest park in China and is now a UNESCO Global Geopark. The area famously inspired the floating forest in the fantasy film Avatar. Its chimney-like sandstone pillars can be up to 350 metres tall but a popular hike is to Golden Whip Stream – a famous scene of tranquil water surrounded by verdant forest and rock spires.

The Great Wall of China

This iconic hike is tackled in sections which vary in difficulty due to the changing topography and the condition of the wall itself. Badaling is the best known, most visited and most restored section of the Great Wall but attracts crowds of coach tourists. Jiankou is more secluded, with broken sections and towers sprouting native plants, and Jinshanling is famous for its 31 watchtowers and beautiful views.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

On the way from Lijiang to Shangri-La in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, this is one of China’s most famous hikes and links Yulong Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain. There is a huge stone in the centre of the river which is where a tiger is said to have leapt Although it sounds strenuous, it’s considered a fairly easy hike aside from the initial series of switchbacks near the entrance to the gorge.


This region of southern China is packed with iconic hikes and sights, including the Li River and Longji Rice Terraces. Visitors can escape the crowds if they hike from Yangdi to Xingping. It’s about 25km and takes at least five hours but offers lovely views of the Li River and the surrounding karst mountains. From Xingping is the Laozhai Mountain hike, a short but steep climb with the same beautful views, best at sunrise or sunset.

Mount Hua

Arenaline junkies visiting Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors should take a side trip for this sacred, slightly scary hike. Each of Huashan’s five peaks are topped with a temple but this serene scene comes at a price. The hike ascends over 1,800 metres over six hours. Hair-raising moments include a narrow set of stairs on a steep ridge with sheer drop-offs either side and the ‘plank in the sky’, a narrow wood platform along the side of a cliff.


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46 / introducing

Kitzbühel, Austria One of Europe's best-known ski destinations is promoting its impressive line-up of fair weather activities like golf, hiking, mountain biking and more, says Steve Hartridge Sitting pretty in Austria's Tyrol region, Kitzbühel has long been well known for its fabulous alpine skiing – anyone who has watched BBC's Ski Sunday over the years will be familiar with the legendary Streif run on Hahnenkamm mountain, considered the hairiest downhill race on the professional ski circuit. But the town, an attractive mix of alpine chic, Medieval architecture, church towers, cobbled streets, boutique shops and one-off eateries, is making moves to attract more Brits in the warmer months – and has plenty to tempt hikers, cyclists, golfers and anyone else in search of some of the prettiest scenery and freshest air imaginable. Runs which in winter tempt skiers are in summer incorporated into 1,000km of marked walking trails that challenge casual walkers and serious hikers alike. High above the valley floor they are surrounded in all directions by soaring peaks and meadows ablaze with yellow cowslips. For cyclists there are more than 800km of off-road routes – and e-bikes make getting up to the highest vantage points easy. On the edge of town, Schwarzsee Lake, set in a natural woodland setting, attracts daytrippers for its swimming, sunbathing, row boats and paddleboards.

Swing high and low

Golfers should put Kitzbühel on their play list. Three very different golf courses, all close to town, have enough quality and points of difference to attract both dedicated golf groups and clients wanting to play a round or two on holiday. On the outskirts of Kitzbühel, GC Eichenheim is rated as one of Austria’s finest. The first hole, which requires a nerve-



shredding second shot through a narrow gorge to the green, gives a taste of the challenge in store. On some holes you seem to be playing up or down the foothills of a mountain, with views of the town far below, on others you are hitting along the bottom of a valley surrounded by meadows. With views of the Wilder Kaiser and Hohe Tauern mountains, the course is surrounded by cliffs and deciduous woodland and natural streams – so bring plenty of balls. GC Kitzbühel-Schwarzsee-Reith is an equally highly-rated course that opens as a flat parkland lay-out, albeit with some imposing water traps, before climbing above the town for a series of spectacular holes featuring undulating fairways and

THE DETAILS HOW TO GET THERE Flights to Munich (100 miles from Kitzbühel) are available with Lufthansa. The town has its own rail station and express services stop there. ACCOMMODATION PICK Tennerhof Gourmet & Spa de

Charme Hotel is one of the town's last properties before the mountain foothills begin. A Relais & Chateaux property, it combines luxury with a traditional alpine chalet feel. If you notice a '007 sign' on one of the room doors it's

because James Bond author Ian Fleming was a resident there when it was a guest house, allegedly whilst besotted by a local woman. CONTACTS; tennerhof. com;


panoramic views. The third ‘must play’ course is the downtown GC Kitzbühel, next to the A-ROSA Kitzbühel hotel. The immaculate and challenging nine holes include the par-3 ninth, with an island green and spouting water feature. It feels like a top American resort course – until you glance up at those mountains and colourful alpine houses with hanging flower baskets. All three courses have superb dining options, with hearty local fare and sun terraces for views of those peaks.

Festivals and events

Set in a broad valley basin surrounded by the Kitzbüheler Alps, Kitzbühel town is mostly car-free. There's a good choice of restaurants (with staff in Lederhosen and traditional full dress) and bars - including an English pub, The Londoner. Various festivals, concerts and open-air events take place in the summer. Kitz on Wheels in July attracts Harley Davidson riders from around the world while Kitzbühel Culinary Hiking Week in September features guided gourmet hikes from the Kitzbüheler Horn to the Südberge Mountains and the Hahnenkamm, with stops at Tyrolean huts to sample local cheese and meats. •


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N EW S: Tour operators join climate emergency campaign


C AR I B B E AN N EW S Save 60% with Royal Caribbean



C R U I S E N EW S More choice from Shearings


S HOW R E P OR T Matka Nordic Travel Fair


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48 / the review

Just You launches early bird offer on solo holidays To celebrate its new worldwide 2021 holidays programme, Just You is offering agents up to £500 off when they book a solo guided tour before March 2. Included in the offer is America’s Western Wonders, an 18-day tour of the west coast of the USA from £4,399. Priced from £2,699pp, the Spirit of India tour is a 13-day journey in northern India taking in the Taj Mahal, Varanasi and searching for tigers in Ranthambore National Park. Agents get a £35 cash reward for each booking made before March 2, 2020. Alastair Campbell, Just You’s Managing Director, said: “Our Just You customers like to book their holidays early, so we are rewarding their loyalty and early commitment.”

Climate emergency at the focus


Adventure travel specialist Explore and Exodus Travels are among the first 29 founding signatories of the new Tourism Declares Climate Emergency campaign. The global initiative has gained the backing of travel businesses, organisations and industry professionals who believe the sector should declare a ‘climate emergency’ and take purposeful and immediate action to reduce its carbon emissions. While acknowledging the importance of tourism – which accounts for more than 319 million jobs worldwide – the campaign is pushing for concerted efforts to drive sustainability, promote the industry’s positives, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Signatories are committed to cutting emissions per client by half by 2030. Exodus, for example, has promised to make proactive change in the next 12 months to measure and mitigate emissions, develop rail options for customers travelling in Europe and contribute to projects that protect biodiversity and capture carbon. While Explore has committed to carbon offsetting all trips, including flights, accommodation and transport, effective now. All trips are now priced to include the cost of offsetting, which, it states, equates to less than £10pp. Other operators signed up to the campaign include Exodus Travels’ sister brand Headwater, Steppes Travel and Responsible Travel.

EasyJet returns to Sharm el Sheikh EasyJet is to resume flights to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt in time for summer. The decision follows the recent lifting of government restrictions on UK flights to Sharm el Sheikh and will be the first time the airline has operated flights to the Red Sea destination since November 2015. The twice-weekly flights start from £99.99 and will commence on June 7 from Manchester and September 30 from Gatwick. The airline is also upping its winter flights from Manchester to Hurghada in Egypt to three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays, with the first flight departing on June 1. All the new flights will operate year-round.

ABTA highlights plastic problems

Sponsored content - OSBORNE & EBEL FEBRUARY AGENT VOUCHERS Make five bookings and receive £50 in Love2Shop Vouchers. Make 10 bookings to receive five FREE NIGHTS in the Maldives. Make 15 bookings for 10 FREE NIGHTS. Book by February 29 for travel between May and October 2020. Free nights based on four-star hotel for two. T&Cs apply. Contact:

ABTA has joined a new worldwide effort from the tourism industry to tackle plastics pollution. The Global Tourism Plastics Initiative aims to stop harmful plastics ending up in the environment, as well as cutting the amount of new plastic being produced. Backers include the World Tourism Organisation, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.


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the review /


Virgin packages for trade

MILAIDHOO MALDIVES Fabulous Summer Offers available now Book by 29 Feb 20 and receive: Up to 48% OFF Room Rates + Reduced Transfer Rates AND Complimentary Full Board! Valid for stays between 01 May – 31 Oct 20


Virgin Voyages has partnered with Virgin Atlantic Flightstore to offer commissionable packages for trade bookings. Agents are now able to use trade booking portal Virgin Atlantic Flightstore to book clients on a Virgin Voyages cruise, with the option to add flights at competitive rates. By booking through Virgin Atlantic Flightstore, agents will earn 10% commission on anything they sell and can tailor each booking to include flights, a cruise and other additional perks. Bookings can also be combined with pre- and postvoyage accommodation in preferred partner hotels. For example, agents have the option of packaging a cruise

onboard the Scarlet Lady, which will set sail on its Maiden Voyage this April from Miami. The cruise can be paired with daily flights from Heathrow. Sara Andell, Head of Consumer Sales at Virgin Atlantic, said: “This is an exciting trade opportunity for our bookers to use Virgin Atlantic Flightstore to now book Virgin Voyages and demonstrates the very best in partnering, to make the most of this one of a kind travel experience. “We know that passengers will love the option to experience even more of the signature Virgin customer experience by being able to fly Virgin Atlantic before joining up with fellow sailors onboard Virgin Voyages.”

KANUHURA MALDIVES SPECIAL ALL INCLUSIVE PROMOTION EXTENDED Book by 29 Feb 20 and receive: Heavily Reduced Room Rates based on All Inclusive – Savings up to 80% Now valid for stays from now up to 26 Dec 20!

Newmarket incentivises A-ROSA bookings To support its new premium inclusive A-ROSA river cruise brochure, featuring 44 sailings across 13 itineraries, Newmarket Holidays is offering a £25 reward for each A-ROSA booking made before February 29. As an added incentive, agents who make an A-ROSA booking will also be entered into a prize draw to win a place on a fivenight Danube River fam trip .


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‘Perks for Peaks’ from Sandals Sandals and Beaches Resorts is giving away prizes each week as part of its ‘Perks to Peaks’ agent incentive. The winning agents will enjoy a spa escape for two, dinner for two at Prezzo, a Sandals-branded suitcase, a case of Prosecco or three complimentary Sell and Go Nights in a Butler Elite Room or Suite at a Sandals or Beaches resort. To qualify for the prize, agents must book a ‘Luxury Included’ holiday between now and the end of February 2020 to any Sandals or Beaches resort in a Butler Elite room category. All bookings must be registered at To encourage bookings, the Perks for Peaks incentive coincides with the Sandals and Beaches Resorts Big Sale.

‘Feel Real’ with Topdeck


Group travel operator Topdeck Travel is shaking up its business to better target millennial and Generation Z clients. The youth specialist says its new ‘Feel Real’ branding aims to inspire potential clients by focusing on more ‘authentic and enriching’ experiences and the benefits of group touring. A new-look website, brochures and digital marketing campaign are supporting the new strategy, along with changes to trip operations and a series of new products. “Travel that feels real is at the heart of our brand and operations approach. We know that our customers desire deep

culture, meaningful connections and to be able to not just see, but really feel a destination, as well as take in everything the journey has to offer along the way,” said Topdeck Global General Manager Charles Knowlton. “Travel should offer people the chance to escape the mundane of day-to-day life, meet new life-long friends, gain new perspectives and broaden their horizons. Group travel has an image problem that we aim to overcome. Already well-established in its Australian home market, Topdeck Travel offers worldwide adventure tours and is seeking to grow in the UK and U.S.

Cyplon encourages tailormade travel Cyplon Holidays has released its 2020 Summer Brochure, reintroducing Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt. The programme includes high-end beach breaks, allinclusive family holidays, island-hopping and cruise holidays, with a selection of hotels in newly-added destinations in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Cyplon has increased its Guided Tours and Cruise Programme and added island-hopping holidays and multi-centre trips. Designed to inspire tailormade travel in 2020, the operator has suggested itineraries for island-hopping in Greece, Malta, Italy and the Canaries. There are also two new Morocco tours: Medinas of Morocco and Dunes and Kasbahs.

Tourism New Zealand says ‘Good Morning World’ in latest campaign Agents could win two tickets to New Zealand as part of the tourist board’s latest campaign ‘Good Morning World’. As part of the campaign, a hub highlights regional product via an interactive map. Agents can click on a point of interest and watch footage ranging from helicopter flights taking in Fiordland National Park, parasailing over the Bay of Islands and wine tasting in Te Whare Ra. Each video is presented

by a local guide and includes key selling tips for agents. To mark the campaign, Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand are offering one agent and a friend a trip to New Zealand with flights and a choice of ten activities currently featured on the hub. To win, agents need to watch two of the short videos and answer the subsequent questions. Pip Casey, Tourism New Zealand’s Regional Manager UK &

Europe, said: “Our ‘Good Morning World’ campaign introduces agents to incredible products, the friendly people behind them and what makes New Zealand special for their clients. “The winner will be lucky enough to meet some of the local guides from the ‘Good Morning World’ videos, while building their dream trip with ten of the experiences also featured.”


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Cruise update

Shearings sets sail

CRUISE NEWS IN BRIEF JTA Travel has partnered with A-ROSA Crusies to offer the operator’s entire 2020 and 2021 programme of international sailings. Cruises are available to a variety of European destinations, will be packaged up with flights and transfers and offer cruisers full ATOL protection.

ANDY HARMER, CLIA UK & Ireland Director

As the demand for adventure travel continues to rise, cruisers are choosing itineraries based on destinations and the more unusual, the better. Often guests want to fully experience the destinations they visit through interactions with local people and culture. As such, cruise lines have responded by creating new itineraries and shore excursions that provide experiences unique to the destination. Lines are also keeping their ships in port for longer, giving guests more time to immerse themselves in the local culture. A recent study conducted by CLIA found that the majority of travellers find cruises a great way to sample multiple destinations, and almost two thirds of respondents said they have returned to a destination that they first visited on a cruise. There is also a growing trend for ‘cruise and stays’, where guests extend their time in their port of embarkation or debarkation. Findings from the consumer survey found that 64% of cruisers spend a few extra days in destination pre- or post-cruise. Following on from the study, CLIA has released its top ten must-visit cruise destinations for 2020. Available to view at:



Shearings Holidays has grown its ocean cruise programme with the introduction of Fred Olsen Cruises and CroisiEurope. The expanded portfolio now includes 18 no-fly cruise and 15 flycruise options across nine ships. Partnering with Fred Olsen for the first time, Shearings is offering 13 cruises on three ships – MS Balmoral, MS Braemar and MS Boudicca. Prices start from £1,254pp for the nine-day Into the Heart of Spain and Bordeaux cruise. A range of long-haul options are available including a Classic Caribbean and Havana Highlights cruise, an Authentic India cruise and a 29-day Japan, Vietnam Hong Kong and Singapore cruise.

This is the first time the operator has featured any of CroisiEurope’s ocean products. Six cruise itineraries are on sale, onboard CroisiEurope’s new ship MS La Belle des Oceans, which will sail around the Mediterranean in spring 2020. An eight-day Charms of Corsica cruise is priced from £2,999pp and a 10-day Jordan, Egypt & the Holy Land cruise departing from Aqaba is priced from £3,999pp. A range of solo cabins are also available to cater for the growing demand in the solo travel market. Jane Atkins, Shearings’ Managing Director said: “We are looking into creating a full, stand-alone Ocean Cruise brochure in the coming months, so watch this space!”

Aurora Expeditions has launched its 2021/22 programme aboard its ships the Greg Mortimer, and the Sylvia Earle. New sailings cover Antarctica, the South Sandwich Islands, Ireland and Costa Rica. Agents can save up to 30% on new voyages if booked and deposited by March 31. Poseidon Expeditions has introduced its new 2021 Arctic and 2021-22 Antarctic seasonal adventure cruises aboard the 114-passenger Sea Spirit. Agents can take advantage of booking discounts of 10 to 15% on reservations made from now through to October 31, 2020, on the newly published programmes.

CroisiEurope announces new trade focus for 2020 CroisiEurope’s trade campaign will offer more fams, online training and expanded long-haul product. The campaign follows a 20% yearon-year growth in trade bookings and aims to encourage and reward agents for bookings made. Agents can expect an increased presence at roadshows throughout the UK, the introduction of an online training programme, due to launch in the second half of 2020 and an expanded long-haul

product offer with a second ship in Africa, a summer season in Canada for La Belle des Oceans and new itineraries on the Nile and Ganges. CroisiEurope is also aiming for 150 agents to join its fam trips this year, up from 80 in 2019. John Fair, UK Sales Director, comments: “I’m confident that the further increase in trade activity will have a huge impact on our 2020 sales and beyond.”


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Visitors to Saint Lucia will be required to pay a nightly accommodation fee when staying on the island, it has been announced. As of April 1, 2020 all accommodation providers will collect US$3.00 per night on rates below US$120 and US$6.00 for rates above. The tourist accommodation fee will be used to finance destination marketing activities undertaken by the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA).

Escape Marketing


WHAT are the benefits of being a CTO member? As a small organisation with limited budgets, it’s great to be a member of an active organisation that assists us in promoting our properties and gaining maximum reach to key markets.


WHAT CTO activities is Escape Marketing involved in? We have been a member since our company started eight years ago. The CTO markets to different audiences so we participate in trade-focused activities such as their regular e-newsletter to agents, Meet the Media and TravMedia days to meet new PR contacts.


WHAT don’t readers know about Escape? We currently represent a lovely selection of hotels in Barbados. Our website – is a useful source to help the trade sell our properties.


WHAT’S your top Caribbean tip? To see as many islands as possible as each has its own unique identity, history, culture and gastronomy. Also, try and go where the locals go.

Family-friendly cruises are more affordable than ever

Save 60% with Royal Caribbean


Royal Caribbean is offering 60% off selected 2020 and FROM SANDALS 2021 sailings when booked before March 31, 2020. Sandals Royal The deal allows clients to holiday on any one of Royal Caribbean Resort & Private Caribbean’s 26 ships, including a sailing to Perfect Day at Island in Montego Bay, Jamaica, CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in The has expanded its five-star Bahamas, which opened in May. dining offering with newly Here, families can enjoy the Thrill Waterpark, complete opened restaurants: Spices and with the tallest waterslide in North America; the largest Bombay Club. Spices offers an wave pool in the Caribbean with an underwater sound authentic island restaurant system and swim-up bar; and Up, Up & Away, a helium experience with Pan-Caribbean balloon that takes guests up to 450 feet in the air, the favourites, while Bombay Club highest vantage point in The Bahamas. is the brand’s exclusive Indian To encourage family bookings, Royal restaurant. The new eateries Caribbean is also offering children’s means guests have the cruise fares from £99 on all ships, choice of 20 restaurants ning i including new ship Odyssey of the between Sandals’ two a r rs T ull, btou in Solih ire, i Seas which launches November Montego Bay resorts. r a C s hesh ning 2020. Eve ry 25; C and rua 26; ry a Feb bruary u r eb Fe te, F oga 020 r r a 2 H NEWLY ROSEWOOD Little 27, opened The Dix Bay in the Sands British Virgin Barbados is the Islands has latest hotel reopened addition to the following a fourSouth Coast of the year renovation. island. With a The resort’s 80 The sizable pool overlooks the sea Little Dix has a new luxury look beachfront rooms and suites location, the hotel features 153 rooms with a all have sea rooms and the majority are pool overlooking the sea. Guests can take digital-free. New features include ocean advantage of the spa, a gym, two restaurants, arrival from Tortola aboard a catamaran, a two bars and non-motorised sports. The dedicated butler service for all guests and a resort is bookable with TUI from £1,374pp for ‘Soap Butler’, offering local artisanal soaps seven nights. from EC Soap Co.




miss Sign up to the CTO’s training programme at

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the review: trade show report /



MATKA Nordic Travel Fair Sustainability was top of the agenda with talks on flygskam (flight guilt) and exhibitors shouting about their green attractions, says Laura Gelder Denmark for families This year sees two high-profile children’s attractions open in Denmark’s Jutland region. The original Legoland at Billund will open The Lego Movie World and Scandinavia’s first Flying Theatre this Spring. Joined by characters from the movie, visitors will enjoy an action-packed ride with lots of wild effects in Emmet’s Flying Adventure - Masters of Flight and can take on a mission to fight the DUPLO® invasion from outer space in the interactive ride Apocalypseburg Sky Riders. Visitors to the Billund area will also be able to experience WOW Park when it opens in May 2020. Located in a 28-acre forest, the activity park aims to help children of all ages reconnect with nature by exploring tree houses and hidden huts, moving through the forest on giant walkways. Billund has a range of family-friendly attractions, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Viking monuments of Jelling and Wadden Sea National Park also recognised by UNESCO.

Sustainable Finland

Visit Finland has launched Sustainable Travel Finland, a new programme which recognises organisations committed to sustainability. The tourism board says the new initiative was requested by the travel trade and will provide companies and destinations with a sustainable development process covering ecological, social, economic and cultural dimensions. It will also assist agents in creating sustainable holidays. Liisa Kokkarinen, Manager Regional Partnerships, Business

Finland, said: “We want to encourage all tourism providers to reduce their impact on the environment in order to preserve the pristine Finnish countryside.” The programme has been at the pilot stage since March last year, with many regional tourism boards currently testing the development path. Finland was named the happiest country in the world in the World 2019 Happiness Report; Finns mainly attribute their happiness to their close connection with nature.

Estonia’s Saaremaa take green award Estonian tourist board Visit Saaremaa was the winner of the first-ever Sustainable Travel Competition, held at MATKA Nordic Travel Fair. The biggest island in Estonia is famous for its medieval fortress, meteorite craters and windmills as well as its forests, juniper trees and pristine coast.

JANUARY 22-24 2020

SHOW SHORTS With the ambition of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2035, Helsinki is making sustainable choices easier for its visitors with a new app called Think Sustainably. There are now 120 businesses, ranging from restaurants to shops, signed up. Helsinki is home to Flow Festival, a carbon neutral music festival and Cafe Nolla, the Nordic region’s first zero-waste restaurant. en/think-sustainably Arctic Bath is a new floating spa hotel located on the Lule River in Swedish Lapland. Built in a circular shape on the water, Arctic Bath floats during the summer and freezes into ice during the winter. Offering a yearround Arctic wellness experience, it has a giant ice bath at its centre, ringed with three saunas, a spa treatment room and hot baths. A museum dedicated to artist Edvard Munch will open in Olso this spring. it will be one of the world’s largest dedicated to a single artist, with three permanent exhibitions showcasing 28,000 works, plus temporary shows by international artists.


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54 / celebrity interview

Dom Joly: “The Congo was hair-raising, Syria is beautiful and North Korea is like another planet” The comedian, columnist and travel writer tells Angela Sara West about braving the Congo, deserts and celebrity-filled jungles.


ulling pranks on unsuspecting celebrities and members of the public on his pioneering Trigger Happy TV show, screened in over 80 countries, means boundary-pushing funnyman Dom Joly hears his globallyfamous catchphrases worldwide. “I get ‘HELLO!’ shouted at me in more languages than you'd think possible,” he tells me. “And I still don’t have a comeback!” His edgy exploits as a serial globe-trotter, seeking dangerous travel spots in places most people avoid, has seen him hit some of the most hostile environments on earth: North Korea, Syria, Chernobyl. “I’m addicted to wanderlust. There is no bigger thrill for me than the first moments in a new destination, trying to work the place out and get a feel for it. I then embark on an adventure that allows my books to write themselves,” he says. Joly is also drawn to destinations with a dark past, and adores sharing stories of his amazing off-the-beaten-track adventures in his books and travelogues, aiming to challenge people’s perceptions of places often misrepresented and misunderstood. In his quest to visit the world's most unlikely tourist spots, he has skied the segregated slopes of Iran and taken in Chernobyl “before it became trendy”. Beirut-born Joly grew up in a warzone, with shells landing literally on his back doorstep, and went to the same school as Osama Bin Laden. His war-torn childhood

and subsequent travels are both a source of inspiration for his comedy TV material, along with his books, which captivatingly recount some of the scariest, strangest and most downright dangerous places he's encountered on his travels. With a distinct taste for deserts, he’s visited the Sahara, Mojave and Gobi deserts and the legendary Empty Quarter. The appeal? “I find deserts enormously relaxing,” he explains. “They’re the only places where I unwind. They're definitely my happy place.” Fearless Joly believes everyone should get out of their comfort zone and ‘lose themselves’ for a month. “Head to Morocco if you’re a lightweight; Algeria, if you’re serious about it,” he advises. The explorer describes his latest book, The Hezbollah Hiking Club, recounting tales from his epic hike with two pals trekking the Lebanese Mountain Trail from the Israeli border to the Syrian border, as a “love letter” to Lebanon. The highlights of reconnecting with the country so close to his heart? “I loved visiting the Hezbollah Resistance Museum, a kind of alternative Disneyland, and the Qadisha Valley, the jewel in Lebanon’s Crown.” He encourages readers to visit his homeland, but why should it be on our travel radar? “Lebanon, at its best, is a combination of the South of France, California and Switzerland. Think pine forests, beaches, skiing, Roman ruins and the food… oh God, the food!”

He’s felt most frightened while ‘monster hunting’ in the Congo, trekking through forests to a machete-wielding tribe whose permission he needed to reach a lake which is home to a mythical monster. It was no laughing matter when they got drunk on “jungle gin” and, after one attacked him, a petrified Joly escaped by canoe. “I’m most uneasy when I feel a complete loss of control. The Congo was hair-raising and very difficult to travel through alone.” Cambodia, Syria and North Korea are among his favourite destinations, despite once being forced at gunpoint to go for tea after rejecting an invitation from a lorryload of Syrian Bedouin! “Mainly because there aren’t many other tourists about, although Cambodia is getting there. Syria is a staggeringly beautiful country and North Korea is like visiting another planet.” Joly’s experience on ‘The Island’ off Panama with Bear Grylls is the hardest thing he’s ever done. “The biggest high was just surviving. I didn’t eat a thing for two weeks and lost two and a half stone, which was a bonus. By day ten, I had lost all energy and was pretty useless, plus things weren’t helped by being eaten alive by sandflies.” And how was his experience down under, on ‘I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here’? “Compared to the ‘The Island’ it was like an exotic spa holiday. It was the ultimate technology and social detox. I didn’t have to worry about anything for 21 days – except spiders and Gillian McKeith!” •

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celebrity interview /



PROFILE Dom Joly’s book, The Hezbollah Hiking Club: A Short Walk Across The Lebanon, is out now (£20, from His tour, Holiday Snaps: Travel and Comedy In The Danger Zone, visits 52 venues this spring starting in Kent on February 14.


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Training, competitions, events February 2020


Oman tunes in NEWS

Quick Quiz Are you a Simon Malls Expert?

1. Of the 30 Simon Malls across the USA, eight are located in Florida. TRUE / FALSE

Hot Incentive

New brochure for Newmarket

2. Shopping is the number one activity when visiting the U.S. TRUE / FALSE

Newmarket Holidays specialist I Modules: 6


Cirque goes 'Bazzar' ROADSHOW

GUESTS staying at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic have the opportunity to see Cirque du Soleil's 'Bazzar' at the resort until Febuary 23, 2020. The show sees acrobats, dancers and musicians come together for a circus performance inspired by a traditional market bazaar. Guests can also check out the resorts' Music Lab to learn stage training, perform a concert infront of a live audience or try their hand at DJing with the latest tools and software.

Answers: 1: True 2: True

NEWMARKET HOLIDAYS is offering agents £25 for every A-ROSA booking made this month. The incentive is in celebration of its new Premium Inclusive European River Cruise 2020 brochure, which features 44 sailings across 13 itineraries aboard the fleet of A-ROSA vessels. As well as traditional river cruises, the brochure also highlights several ‘multigenerational’ cruises designed for families, as well as a selection of 2020 Festive Season sailings. Agents will recieve £25 on all Premium Inclusive A-ROSA bookings made before February 29. Agents will also be entered into a prize draw to win a five-night fam trip on the Danube River.

OMAN'S latest sports lounge has opened in Muscat's Kempinski Hotel. The outlet has been designed to accommodate 260 people and offers state-of-the-art projectors and multiple widescreen TVs as well as an outdoor terrace and views overlooking the sea. Clients can also opt to stay in one of the hotels' 310 rooms or 77 beachfront apartments and villas with rates starting from £170 per night.

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Training courses to help travel agents and advisers sell more!

Bourne gets social

Working in partnership



A-Z of available courses

BOURNE LEISURE has added a new social media feature to its agent-friendly website. The tool allows agents to easily download social media ready content such as imagery and offers to use on their own feeds. All collateral is up to date and offers the most pertinent deals relating to season and price point across Bourne Leisure's three brands: Butlin's, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels. The feature also allows agents to download other collateral for use in store such as empty belly posters, seasonal posters, pricing grids and the latest Warner Leisure Hotels and Haven brochures.

ABTA Alaska Aruba Amtrak Vacations Beaches Resorts Bourne Leisure Butlins Centara Hotels & Resorts Cirque de Soleil Costa Rica Elegant Hotels Essential Detail Fiji Finland Flanders Fort Myers & Sanibel Haven Hotels Hawaii Heritage Resort Jerusalem Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts Journey Beyond

New Deals

Book St. Kitts to earn £50

Las Vegas Macao Melia Hotels & Resorts New York state Newmarket Holidays Oman

St. Kitts Specialist I Modules: 4

Saga's late deals OFFER

MALTA: Heart of the Mediterranean and Juan de la Cosa Hotel, Cantabria, in Spain are highlights in Saga's late holiday deals. Agents can book a 10-night trip to Malta and Gozo to visit UNESCO-listed temples and tour historic Valetta. The trip departs from Gatwick on March 19 and costs £999, a saving of £300. Alternativly. a seven-night stay at Saga-exclusive Juan de la Cosa Hotel in Spain's Cantabria region has been reduced from £889pp to £719pp for April 1 departures from Stansted. The all-inclusive package features half-day excursions to Santona, Laredo and to Lierganes, as well as guided walks and live entertainment.

ST. KITTS is offering a Peaks booking incentive of £50 for each new package booking logged before March 31, 2020. To qualify for the reward, agents must join the St. Kitts Agent Reward Programme and log a booking which include flights and a mimimum stay of seven nights at a St. Kitts hotel. Agents will recieve £10 on approval of every booking plus the additional £40 when booked before the March deadline. In addition, a bonus £10 will be offered for bookings made to the following four hotels: Ocean Terrace Inn, Sugar Bay Club, Park Hyatt St. Kitts and Belle Mont Farm. Learn more about how to sell St. Kitts from the four modules on its specialist training programme.

Ontario Qatar SAGA Saint Lucia Sandals Resorts Seychelles Simon Malls St Kitts Thailand TIPTO US Airtours Veranda Resorts Windjammer Landing Hotel Yas Island powered by

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58 / how to sell

Argentina Its capital rivals Paris for elegant architecture and steak dinners and it has everything from arid desert to icy glaciers - Argentina is ready to eclipse the competition, says Steph Dyson Why sell it now? A full solar eclipse will fall across a flurry of villages in the north of Argentina's Río Negro province on December 14 (summer). Also, the recent collapse of the Argentine peso has made the country something of a bargain destination for Brits.

Who to sell to Argentina is a well-established destination for oenophiles thanks to the robust, high-altitude wines of Cafayate and the fresh malbecs of Mendoza. Capital Buenos Aires is a red meat Mecca, with steakhouse Don Juilo ranking in the world’s top 50 restaurants. Adventurers will find Patagonia never disappoints, with its glut of vast national parks packed with hiking trails, crystal clear lakes and glacier-strung mountains. Those wishing to combine history with the outdoors can explore remote estancias (ranches) across the country that promise tantalisingly traditional experiences of backcountry gaucho life. Wildlife tourism is also a huge draw, with Ushuaia the departure point for Antarctica cruises and Patagonia home to flamingos, condor, penguins, whales and guanaco – a cousin of the llama.

What to sell Cosmopolitan Buenos Aires charms with neoclassical architecture, tango milongas



and an abundance of five-star boutique hotels. A short flight links it with Mendoza and the award-winning and avant-garde vineyards of the Uco Valley. Iguazú Falls is the star of the northeast, with 275 individual cascades propelling a thunderous crush of water into one of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls. Close by, the wetlands of the new Iberá National Park are set to become a star attraction, tempting visitors with sightings of capybara, giant river otters and jaguar. The picturesque colonial city of Salta feels more Bolivian than Argentine, but is a great spot for appreciating traditional Andean music or venturing into the rust-coloured landscapes of nearby national parks. The south offers a veritable feast of adventure. The lake-specked landscapes and hiking trails of Swiss-inspired Bariloche transform into wind-blasted steppe and mighty glaciers further south, with Perito Moreno ranking as one of South America’s most accessible and most magnificent. Remote and empty Tierra del Fuego marks the end of Argentina and the continent itself and is a go-to place for history buffs to learn about the region’s early British pioneers.

When to sell it Patagonia is best visited between November and April, outside of which snowfall and piercing cold can disrupt transport. The north, including Buenos Aires, is a yearround destination, although January to March sees hotel prices soar. The ski season runs from June to mid-October, while the vendimia (wine harvest) is in March.

How to sell it Comprising a territory a third of the size of the U.S., Argentina lends itself to flight-based itineraries. However, fly-drive holidays grant access to the scenic Ruta 40 highway, with stretches that cross the plains of southern Patagonia or the alpine scenery of the Argentine Lakes District. • Book it with... Journey Latin America The 14-day Self-drive Argentina: Highlights of the Hidden Northwest is £2,109pp. A round-trip from Buenos Aires, it takes in Iguazú Falls, Salta, the wine region around Cafayate and the northern canyons.


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59 / six of the best

six of the best /


Places to visit in

Bulgaria Bulgaria offers everything from lively coastal and ski resorts to an untouched mountainous interior. Ben West suggests six itinerary musts Hike Vitosha mountain

Most of the mountain is protected as a natural park but organised tours and miles of marked paths make it easy to explore the waterfalls, charming villages and panoramic view points. Walking to the top takes about five hours or you can take the chair lift to conserve energy and walk along the plateau. It’s a perfect picnic spot away from the heat in summer and there’s skiing in winter.

Be charmed by Plovdiv

Plovdiv is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, dating back to 6000BC. The compact, mostly car-free old town is built around seven hills, with Roman buildings including a stadium and amphitheatre, Ottoman mosques, Bulgarian, Greek and Armenian merchants’ houses, Bauhaus architecture and communist-era street mosaics. The Kapana creative quarter has a pretty park and trendy bars and cafes.

Discover Communist Sofia

As well as visiting a host of churches, museums and cultural attractions in Bulgaria’s capital, you can jump in a traditional Trabant car for a tour learning about life during the communist era. It covers landmarks such as the former Communist Party HQ and the Central Department Store. There are also walking tours and a pub crawl of the city’s hidden bars, unearthing the stories behind them.

Explore Rila’s seven lakes

Rila National Park has seven lakes at altitudes of 2,100 to 2,500 metres. You can climb from one to the next by foot, chair lift or SUV/4WD car. This unique, beautiful hike increases in difficulty but when you reach the last one you can see all seven lakes in harmony with the mountain. Rila also has one of Bulgaria’s most important cultural and architectural monuments, the 10th century Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila.

Visit a Thracian tomb

The ancient Thracians – including Gladiator Spartacus – lived in Bulgaria and their tombs are still there. One of the best to visit is a replica of the 4th century BC Kazanlak tomb, containing impressive frescoes depicting feasting and hunting. There are lesserknown, original tombs in the vicinity and Kazanlak sits at the centre of the Bulgarian Rose Valley, home of huge rose plantations and rose-oil processing facilities.

Get a seaside fix in Sozopol

You don’t have to choose between beach and culture at the ancient Black Sea resort of Sozopol. It boasts superb beaches with plenty of leisure activity options, such as renting a yacht, diving and boat cruises. But for contrast you can also hit the old town and its cobbled streets, attractive wooden houses, churches and museums. In summer there are numerous events including free concerts.


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60 / my journey

Kansas City



The Missouri city has a host of attractions that offer visitors the chance to delve into its rich and colourful history, says Steve Hartridge



ansas City was built by concrete – lots and lots of concrete,” says our guide, who calls himself Tommy Holiday. “In the 1920s and 1930s Kansas City was controlled by an unelected political boss called Tom Pendergast, an Irish immigrant. He effectively ran the city and his associates included gangsters, municipal officials and police chiefs,” says Tommy. “He also owned a concrete company and ‘won’ all the important construction contracts – which is why the walls of City Hall and the County Courthouse are sixfeet wide and the runway at the airport was laid on concrete 35 feet deep!” I am on a Kansas City Gangster Tour and Tommy, dressed in a grey and black pinstripe suit, wearing a bowler hat and ‘puffing’ a wooden cigar, is telling us all about a period when the city was a metaphor for mob killings, underworld rackets, illegal gambling dens and had over 300 brothels. As our tour moves through the city's neighbourhoods, we see historic hotels, grand suburban houses and mansions and drive by some of the city's 200-plus fountains ('KC' has the second most of these in the world, after Rome).

Union Station Our gangster tour had started at Union Station, a striking limestone and granite building with rose-brown marble floors that is on the National Register of Historic Places. Look closely and you can still see the bullet holes from the night in 1933

when four unarmed FBI agents were gunned down by gang members. Today it is the second-largest working train station in the country after Union Station in New York City. Inside the station we enjoy fine dining at Pierpont’s, a classy restaurant known for its perfectly-aged steaks and seafood. Come Sunday morning we are back, this time at Harvey’s for a gargantuan brunch buffet featuring oysters, fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, shrimp cocktail, waffles, cinnamon pancakes, fruit, eggs and more. Across the terminal's Grand Hall, families are heading to Science City, an interactive attraction that will open a new Children’s Museum this spring, and a Genghis Khan exhibition featuring at the Bank of America Gallery. There's also a five-story ‘Extreme Screen theatre and a Planetarium. Union Station was also where, due to its central location, U.S. troops gathered before heading off to fight two World Wars (heading west for the grim battlefields of Europe, or east for the horror of the jungles of Japan and the Pacific). It’s fitting then that just across the street is the National WW1 Museum and Memorial. The 217-foot-tall Liberty Tower is a deliberately stark affair, perhaps something you would expect to see in Kazakhstan rather than America's Midwest. Inside the museum is a moving series of exhibitions on the war, its devastation and ultimate consequences. The museum is also the best place to see views of the city, which spreads out below all the way to the state line with Kansas.

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Kansas City has over 200 fountains – more than any other city bar Rome 1. Historic Union Station from the National WW1 Museum and Memorial 2. Live jazz at The Phoenix 3. Tommy Holiday on the Gangster Tour 4. The dry rub flavours of Kansas City barbecue 5. Neon sign, American Jazz Museum 6. The Boulevard Brewing Company 7. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum 8. One of 200 fountains in Kansas City 9. J. Rieger and Co. distillery reopened in 2014 – 95 years after the original company shut in the Prohibition era.


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of Prohibition, when federal agents toured the country, closing down bars and smashing up distilleries and beer barrels. Between 1920 and 1933 alcohol consumption was literally driven underground - but not in Kansas City, where Irish Tom owned several breweries and distilleries and where there were more underground bars – or 'speakeasies' – than anywhere else in the U.S. Today the Prohibition era is kept alive on Main Street where we sip bourbon-based Old Fashioned cocktails in Manifesto, a modern speakeasy housed in a building that dates from 1915. On the wall above one of the urinals in the gents is a plaque which says: “Al Capone pissed here”.

All that Jazz Close to the Missouri River, in an area called East Bottoms, one of many city neighbourhoods being regenerated, we sip whisky at J. Rieger and Co. Before Prohibition this was the largest mail order whisky house in the U.S. and the area was called 'the wettest block in the world'. In 2014 it was brought back as Missouri’s first new distillery in almost 100 years. We watch a video about the history of both the city and the building and see how the spirit goes ‘from grain to bottle’. Kansas City trumpets its jazz heritage and in clubs like The Phoenix, close to downtown, we listen to the J. Love Band



playing a mix of jazz, blues and soul. We visit the American Jazz Museum in the 18th and Vine Historic District. Here, underneath a collection of original neon signs that lit up this part of the city in the 1940s and 1950s, we learn all about legends of the genre like Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others. In the same building the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum tells the story of how, between 1920 and 1955, black Americans had to play the nation's 'favourite pastime' in a league of their own as they were excluded from the all-white pro teams. Along with jazz, Kansas City is also known for its barbecued meats – called BBQ. Jack Stack, housed in a converted building that was once a freight warehouse, is one of over 130 BBQ restaurants in the city. Over a bottle of Boulevard beer, brewed a few blocks away (tours and tastings are available) Jack Stack's owner tells me how Kansas City barbecue is all about the dry rub with spices, and smoking the meat over a variety of woods for up to 18 hours before it is smothered with a thick tomato-based sauce. • Book it with... Vacations to America A three-night break in Kansas City, with British Airways flights (via Chicago), accommodation at the Fontaine Hotel and a free Segway tour, is priced at £1,159pp, based on two adults travelling on August 6. 01582 469881;


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62 / the final word

the light side of travel Do you have the oomph?

Neilson Active Holidays has a new job you might just fancy... The search is on to find Neilson’s Active Ambassador for 2020, or Chief Oomph Officer (COO). The salary is a modest £15,000 but the perks are worth up to £50,000 a year! The yearlong contract allows you to choose when you want to work and work around your day job; includes two holidays for you and up to three family members; gives you all the gear you need - a new bike, a paddle board, tennis racquet, ski gear and active wear courtesy of its partners; and free tuition such as a one-to-one sailing lesson with an Olympian or a ski or snowboard lesson at The Snow Centre. If you reckon you can inspire people to get active, apply here:

Fur-friendly check-ins surveyed Booking. com to find out which countries have the most hotels that accept pets. At the top was Italy, with 18,176, followed by Russia (10,831), Poland (8,521), Croatia (7,794) and Spain (6,945). But if your pooch is the pampered kind, it's worth knowing that France has the most five-star pet-friendly hotels (217) followed by the UK (167), Italy (157), Croatia (120) and Finland (112).

Top 5... most instagrammed forests of the world has compiled this pointless list of forests with the largest number of hashtags! 1 2 3 4

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Single and ready to mingle


101 Holidays conducted a survey of 10 UK-based solo tour operators whih showed that solo bookings are growing by 10% every year – with 68% of solo travellers reportedly female and 78% aged 50 or over. The most popular destinations for solo trippers were Italy, Vietnam, Egypt, India and Greece, but fast-growing destinations included Peru, Japan, Lebanon and Georgia.


The Black Forest, Germany Amazon Rainforest, Brazil Sherwood Forest, England Arashiyama Bamboo Forest/ Sagano Bamboo Forest, Japan Mossy Forest, Malaysia Atlantic Forest, Brazil Jiuzhaigou Valley, China Sequoia Forest, U.S.

THE MARCH 2020 ISSUE OF SELLING TRAVEL WILL FEATURE: Cyprus • Fiji • Israel • Jamaica • Seychelles • USA - Las Vegas • Cycling Holidays • Family Holidays, including Jersey, theme parks, Dubai • CONTACT US; PLUS ONLINE: Features library • Destination Guides • Reviews • Blogs


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Be inspired by...


Trends in romantic holidays • African lodges made for lovers • Intimate Indian Ocean holidays for two • New product for couples • Idyllic Indochina retreats

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weddings & honeymoons

Heart of the matter Romance is far from dead and weddings and honeymoons remain a lucrative niche with lots of opportunities to upsell, says Debbie Ward


n many cases, a destination wedding and/or honeym0on is the longest and most expensive trip a couple will ever take. Clients tend to want to do more and spend more on a special holiday, so it’s easy to upsell and add experiences.

Twins are trending Multi-centres are still very much on trend for honeymoons, so suggesting compatible destinations is an easy way for agents to maximise sales. A once-in-a-lifetime safari followed by a relaxing beach break is the twin-centre of choice for many of Premier Holidays’ honeymoon clients. John Parker, Product Manager for South Africa, says Mauritius works well for the beach section of the holiday. He adds: “South Africa has some great locations for the honeymoon experience, such as Eagle’s Crag at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, which has an upper deck with viewing pods and panoramic views of the reserve.” Kuoni suggests the unforgettable experience of a hot-air balloon safari after a wedding ceremony at the luxury tented

Governors’ Camp in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Or clients can have their wedding ceremony on the plains, the riverbank or on the deck at sister camp Loldia House in Naivasha, complete with Maasai dancers. You don’t have to look long haul for great destination combinations, says Georgia Edwards, who as Personalised Travel Team Leader looks after weddings for Classic Collection Holidays. “We are getting a lot of multi-centre requests. It seems to be that clients are after something more original than a simple fly-and-flop honeymoon.” She adds: “They tend to be a shorter city break-style trip where we can include experiences and then a longer relaxing beach or island retreat part of the holiday.” The Croatian island of Hvar is trending for Sovereign Luxury Holidays and combines well with Dubrovnik’s medieval architecture and Montenegro’s mountains, villages and beaches for twin- or triple-centres. “Hvar is perfect for honeymooners who want to sample the nightlife or enjoy romantic fine dining,” says Shusma Knight, Sovereign's Destination Manager for the Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Balkans.

In Greece, Sovereign suggests twinning perennial wedding favourite Santorini with Mykonos and Crete. Another good combination is Venice (currently trending for weddings and honeymoons) with the Italian Lakes. “Upsell by linking with Lake Garda or Lake Como for relaxation – it’s easy to make it a twin- or triple-centre by train,” explains Knight.

Adult-only and blessings Classic Collection finds that adult-only all-inclusive resorts are always popular requests for honeymoons, although this can be a challenging combination in short-haul destinations. Swot up on these options and it could help you to attract prospective romance clients through wedding fairs. You may have to book well ahead for the Greek romance hotspots, Olympic Holidays warns, with Paphos almost sold out for 2021 already. An increase in same-sex ceremonies in the Cypriot resort is partly the reason for the boom, the operator notes. Olympic is also seeing a rise in requests for Greek island blessings since civil partnerships for heterosexual couples

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weddings & honeymoons


Clockwise from top left: Accor Raffles, Maldives; Governors' Camp, Kenya; Royal Beachcomber, Mauritius; Sovereign says Santorini is a wedding favourite

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weddings & honeymoons

Outdoor wedding at One&Only Wolgan Valley, Australia

have come into law in the UK. “Now that the minimum stay in Rhodes has been reduced we’ve seen an increase in weddings too,” says Head of Marketing and Communications, Carl Catterall.

Mini-moons It doesn't have to be an epic trip. “More couples are looking for ‘mini-moons’, which don’t entail a long-haul flight,” says Kirker Holidays' Joint Managing Director Ted Wake. “This is especially true for older couples celebrating a milestone anniversary, or perhaps a second wedding.” Experienced travellers often enjoy exploring classic cities, booking tickets and restaurant tables in advance. This is another upsell opportunity, stresses Wake. "They can enjoy an art exhibition, a walking tour with a local expert, opera, ballet or a concert, not to mention excellent local restaurants – and the Kirker Concierge is at their disposal to help with all these details.”

Wake recommends Lecce in southern Puglia, Italy for such a trip. Often referred to as the ‘Florence of the South’.

Something new ‘Something new’ is not just for the wedding ceremony; it can be an enticing sell to honeymooners, particularly for the Instagram generation who are tempted by images of new resorts with 'wow factor'. Kuoni is expecting big interest in the newly re-launched Maafushivaru in the Maldives with refurbished villas. Lovebirds can also take off to miniature white sand isle Lonubo, just off shore, where there’s a romantic private beach villa for two. Two new resorts from One & Only for this year are also bound to make a splash. One & Only Portonovi in Boka Bay, Montenegro, will be the brand’s first European resort. Due to open in June, it will feature 140 rooms, villas and private residences, a stand-out spa and a restaurant headed up by a Michelin-starred chef.

This spring, One & Only Desaru Coast will open on Malaysia’s southeastern coast, with rainforest and ocean suites with plunge pools and butler service, and the fourbedroom Villa One with its 27-metre pool (perfect for ‘house party’ style weddings).

The personal touch An overseas wedding or honeymoon is one booking that many are often reluctant to trust to the web. Showing off your bespoke skills should keep couples coming back for future trips, particularly with the trend for experiential travel. Operators advise building around special activities. “Always find out about the client’s interests and use these to help create a very personal experience which they can’t buy online," says Wake. Classic Collection’s Edwards advises: “Provide a really unique experience and build a two, or multi-centre itinerary around the stand-out must-do item on the client’s bucket list.”

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Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts offer our guests an exquisite array of holistic services and amenities complemented by unrivalled oceanfront luxury. Endless Privileges® — where everything is included — features traditional and organic gourmet fare and unique cultural experiences in ultra-romantic seaside settings.






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LUXURY AFRICAN LODGES Oering wild encounters in romantic locations ranging from secluded islands to starlit plains, Africa is the ultimate destination for that wedding or honeymoon wow factor, says Jessica Pook


Surrounded by mangroves in the heart of the Makasutu Forest is Madina's floating lodges. Accessed by wooden walkways, or a canoe for the scenic route, the stilted and floating lodges feature luxurious interiors with high beamed ceilings and a roofless bathroom. Guests can spend the day in search of monkeys on the forest floor, exploring the River Gambia by canoe or relaxing on a day bed by the pool.


Guests that stay at the Fathala Wildlife Reserve could spot the endangered Lord Derby Elan, the world's biggest antelope. Situated just across the Gambian border, the luxury tents at Fathala Wildlife Reserve are prefect for couples that want the excitement of a safari but with the amenities of a five-star resort... think private Jacuzzi, a sunset mangrove cruise and nights spent around the fire pit.


Offer clients a 'Robinson Crusoe' experience at Fanjove Island in Southern Tanzania. Apart from the odd friendly green turtle, clients will have the island to themselves. Six eco-friendly private bandas have been built along the shoreline, each designed to minimise its environmental footprint. After a day exploring the island or snorkelling the coral reef, an open-air restaurant is the ideal place from which to stargaze.


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FOUR SEASONS SAFARI LODGE SERENGETI... TANZANIA Imagine starting married life overlooking a waterhole visited by the Big Five, and whilst enjoying a candlelit dinner in the heart of the Serengeti. This experience is offered as part of a Four Seasons Honeymoon Package and includes a Waterhole View room, a poolside dinner and a massage for the bride when booking a couple’s spa treatment.




Ever feel like you're being watched? Located on the popular Garden Route, this pool with a really wild view is at Gondwana Game Reserve. Gondwana offers year-round game viewing of elephants, lions, hippos, and rare Cape Mountain Zebras. Your clients will stay in traditional Kwena Huts complete with skylights and get treated to surprise bush breakfasts, romantic picnics and scenic sundowners.

Sir Richard Branson knows all about luxury and his 12-tented luxury safari camp in Kenya proves it. Located in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy in the Maasai Mara ecosystem, it's perfectly placed to witness the annual migration. Romantic touches include a private picnic lunch, a starlit dinner with a butler and a turndown with rose petals, bubble bath, sparkling wine and a cosy corner on the deck.

Santorini Mozambique offers the familiar whitewashed villas and azure sea views associated with Instagram's favourite Greek isle, but within a rugged African landsape. The resort is situated on the red cliffs of Kingfisher Bay overlooking the coral-rich Bazaruto Archipelago. Brides can enjoy 50% off a stay plus romantic extras. Activities include a horseback safari, scuba diving or a helicopter ride over the reef.


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Exploring Mauritius' cultural attractions

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HAPPY EVER AFTER Stunning locations, sunshine and stylish, secluded resorts make the Indian Ocean perfect for a wedding, honeymoon or romantic escape, says Lauren Jarvis


ith the likelihood of a downpour putting a dampener on a UK wedding day – even in the height of summer – it's perhaps no surprise that so many couples decide to head to the sun to get married, escape for their honeymoon, or return to renew vows and celebrate anniversaries. If any destination conjures up an image of perfect, sun-kissed romance, it’s the Indian Ocean, with its paradise isles, turquoise waters, white-sand beaches and Instagrammable resorts. The islands of Mauritius, Réunion, the Seychelles, the Maldives and Sri Lanka all offer a range of diverse wedding and honeymoon experiences in postcardworthy locations. “The islands of the Indian Ocean remain very much in vogue, topping the holiday hot lists year after year,” says James Bell, Managing Director of Turquoise Holidays. "The Maldives continues to lead from the front, and with new openings and relaunches, plus product developments ranging from underwater restaurants to the world’s first overwater observatory, the destination is constantly evolving and rediscovering itself.” Honeymoons that blend that traditional romantic luxury with more active pursuits are also in demand. “Sri Lanka combined with the Maldives is more popular than ever for honeymooners,” says Melissa Nicholas, Product Director for Experience Travel Group. “Many couples now travel together before marriage,

so there’s a growing trend towards honeymoons which offer the immersive experiences you’ll find in Sri Lanka, with a pinch of the traditional beach luxury you can expect from the Maldives.” Meanwhile, Mauritius offers a bit of both – couples can relax in style at one of the island’s luxury spa resorts, enjoy diverse culinary treats, hike and bike through beautiful forests and trails or explore the ocean and coral reefs with diving, snorkelling and watersports. “Mauritius and nearby Réunion offer incredible luxury and fabulous pricing,” adds Bell. "And both islands are easily twinned with South Africa, allowing for a ‘boots and bikini’ safari and beach itineraries, too.” After the reintroduction of British Airways’ direct flight from London to the Seychelles, Turquoise Holidays has seen bookings to the islands grow 20% year on year, says Bell. “The unspoilt natural beauty and

Ocean front pool villa, Six Senses Zil Pasyon Seychelles

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A sunset cruise at Baros Maldives; a couple enjoy the clear waters of the Maldives

uniqueness of the Seychelles has made it a popular wedding and honeymoon destination,” adds Eloise Vidot, Marketing Executive for the UK and Ireland at the Seychelles Tourist Office. “Couples are making the most of the Seychelles' amazing island-hopping opportunities, getting married on one island and honeymooning on another.”

Mauritius & Réunion “Mauritius offers a wide range of exciting activities for honeymooners, from classic romantic experiences to more adventurous pursuits,” says Ria Smith of Beachcomber Resorts & Hotels, which has eight properties throughout the island. “Our Beachcomber Experiences allow guests on honeymoon or celebrating a fifthyear anniversary to enjoy a complimentary experience during their stay, with options such as a sunset boat cruise, scuba diving,

Haritha Villas, Sri Lanka

parasailing, a golf lesson, photo-shoot experience, mountain hiking at Le Morne, or convertible car hire to explore the island at their leisure.” Beachcomber’s diverse offerings reflect the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority’s ‘post-wedding holiday’ concept, ‘Honey & The Moon’, which highlights how the island caters for honeymooners with ‘The Honey’, representing pampering, cocktails and sunset fine-dining, and ‘The Moon’, entailing adventure, exploring the outdoors and culture. Neighbouring island, Réunion, also offers an unspoilt haven for couples in search of an active honeymoon, with hiking and mountain biking on offer in its rugged, volcanic interior. Did you know? SALT of Palmar provides wedding experiences which benefit local communities and the environment,

including tree-planting ceremonies and donations to a local school. Veranda Resorts’ intimate ceremonies include a sunrise wedding on Veranda Palmar’s beach or a barefoot sunset wedding at Veranda Pointe Aux Biches. Heritage Resorts has post-colonial-style weddings in the grounds of Heritage Le Chateau, along with beach ceremonies and honeymoon and anniversary packages. Réunion’s only five-star hotel, LUX* Saint Gilles, offers a bottle of sparkling wine and a romantic beachside dinner for honeymooners booking half-board, plus a voucher for their boutique.

Seychelles “The Seychelles has always reigned supreme when it comes to the pictureperfect wedding and honeymoon destination,” says Jordyn Mackenzie, Marketing Manager at Blue Safari Seychelles. “Crystal-blue waters and dazzling, white-sand beaches, combined with glorious weather, create the perfect atmosphere for newly-weds. “Alphonse Island, 250 miles from Mahé, has seen a significant rise in honeymooners and we’ve had great interest in our brandnew wedding package. We pride ourselves on providing marine and land experiences like no other, such as swimming with sailfish and manta rays, as well as our famous ‘sand flat lunches’, where guests

Relaxing in Mauritius, Heritage Resorts-style

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We help people to celebrate life by delivering a different kind of luxury that is lighter, brighter. LUX* stages exceptional experiences – on the beach, in the city or in nature – by being simple, fresh and sensory. At LUX* every moment matters and our guests are always indulged, whether its our locally-roasted, ethically-sourced coffee or an impromptu on-the-beach film screening - we turn ordinary into extraordinary…



A luxury resort for off-grid retreats. Whether you're seeking a peaceful hideaway or an active adventure, the island of Dhidhoofinolhu is home to LUX* South Ari Atoll, a luxury resort where your desert island fantasy can come true. There are 193 private villas, dotted at the water’s edge along two miles of powder fine beaches and perched on stilts above a crystal lagoon. On land or above water, these spacious rooms and suites bring an original vibe of coastal, beach house chic to the Maldives.

An exclusive luxury resort of dazzling water villas – a penthouse paradise retreat! Introducing a new level in stand-out luxury, LUX* North Male Atoll sweeps away the thatched-roofed Maldivian footprint of old and replaces it with a dazzling paradise of penthouse villas and spectacularly designed spaces to play, relax and retreat. It's a visual feast of nautical forms and tones and the 67 double-storey residences feature a private pool blending super yacht panache with a vibrant South Beach pulse.


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Uga Escapes, Chena Huts, Sri Lanla

can dine on a sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean – the perfect romantic escape in paradise.”

including arrival from Mahé by helicopter and a ceremony on the beach or in a private residence with an infinity pool.

Did you know? Banyan Tree Seychelles on the island of Mahé gifts honeymooners with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean from its luxurious hillside pool villas. Activities for couples including cookery classes, rum-tasting tours, day trips to Praslin and La Digue and local treatments from ancient recipes provided in the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa. Six Senses Zil Pasyon on the private island of Félicité offers a luxe wedding experience,


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“The Maldives’ private island resorts make for the perfect environment for couples, with secluded accommodation options such as overwater villas and underwater suites,” says Mr. Thoyyib Mohamed, Managing Director of Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC). “Many high-end properties offer bespoke packages for couples looking to celebrate in a luxury setting, including private picnics

on sandbanks and rejuvenating honeymoon treatments in overwater spas.” Did you know? Baros Maldives has just been named the World’s Most Romantic Resort for the seventh year running at the World Travel Awards. Designed for couples, the secluded retreat offers wedding vow renewal ceremonies on the beach, a sandbank, the Piano Deck or on a traditional sailing dhoni, while their Romantic Moments package includes a private candlelit beach dinner, a couples massage and a sunset cruise. Raffles Maldives Meradhoo offers

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Clockwise from left: A sand bank dinner at Baros Maldives; trekking in Mauritius; wedding, Banyan Tree Seychelles

couples the chance to enjoy a lavish beach wedding before heading to a turquoise lagoon for an underwater ceremony and photo shoot. The Divers’ Wedding Package includes a candlelit dinner. Taj Exotica Resort and Spa in the Maldives has an ‘ultimate wedding experience’ at its ocean pavilion. The ceremony will be surrounded by the turquoise lagoon reached on a decorated motorboat. The couple also have a wedding cake, Moet & Chandon Champagne for the toast and sparkling wine and canapés for the up to eight guests. Their villa is decorated for the wedding night, with romantic music and a floral bath, and the package includes a private sunset cruise on a traditional Dhoni plus a sand dugout seafood dinner.

Sri Lanka “Sri Lanka is an idyllic destination for a wedding celebration,” says Hashan Cooray, Marketing Director of sustainable travel specialists, Jetwing Hotels, which operates nearly 40 hotels on the island. “From misty mountains to beautiful beaches, the island provides a multitude of backdrops for any romantic occasion." Cooray says Sri Lanka is seeing a growing demand for tailor-made boutique destination weddings, particularly intimate gatherings in picturesque locations. “For those visiting on their honeymoon, Sri Lanka offers plenty of unique experiences, from visiting cultural heritage sites to hiking in the highlands and unparalleled wildlife experiences.”

Did you know? Uga Escapes has five properties in Sri Lanka and can offer guests a romantic journey that takes in all of them - a trip with a difference that should appeal to adventurous honeymoons. Couples will visit Ulagalla in Anuradhapura, Jungle Beach at Trincomalee, Uga Bay near Batticaloa, Chena near Yala National Park and Residence in Colombo. The new, adults-only Haritha Villas & Spa, near Hikkaduwa beach in southern Sri Lanka has a Romantic Getaway package, including a villa with private plunge pool, sparkling wine on arrival, a couples’ treatment in the Ayurvedic Jungle Spa and a candlelit dinner for two. Planet Kitesurf Holidays combines luxurious hotels with kitesurfing at Kalpitiya and various cultural experiences around the island which are a great suggestion for honeymooners.

Book it with... Beachcomber Tours Beachcomber Tours offers seven nights of full-board in a Junior Suite at Dinarobin Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa, Mauritius. From £1,570pp, including economy flights with Emirates and a honeymoon experience. Wedding pavillion, Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives

Romantic picnic, Grand Anse Beach, Seychelles

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BE ALONE WITH NATURE JA Enchanted Island Resort in the Seychelles has an Enchanting Romantic Getaway Package featuring a three-course private dinner, a couples massage at the Serene Spa and kayaking to Mysterious Moyenne Island.

Bamboo Travel can maroon couples on Krakai island for a night, with a gourmet picnic, an ice box of drinks and a stove for coffee – there's no electricity in its cottage, just candles. A speedboat back to Kura Kura Resort is a phone call away!

LIVE LIKE ROYALS Emerald Maldives has a new honeymoon package which adds a lagoon-side dinner and couple’s massage to its deluxe-all-inclusive offering that includes unlimited à la carte dining, watersports and mini-bar access.

CELEBRATE LOVE IN ANTIGUA Carlisle Bay's new Celebrate Love Wedding Package comes free with a seven-night stay. It takes care of all the paperwork and includes a bridal bouquet, cake, tropical flower archway and a Champagne toast.

MARRY IN A CANYON Tour and activity provider Civitatis can pick couples up in Las Vegas in a luxury limousine and whisk them to the LA Heliport for a private helicopter ride over the Arizona desert and Hoover Dam to their Grand Canyon wedding.


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STAY IN A FAIRYTALE CASTLE Carrier has a new high-end winter itinerary in the Canadian Rockies. Options for both skiers and nonskiers include four nights at Fairmont Banff Springs, a heli-tour over the ice bubbles of Abraham Lake and a Lake Louise Sleigh Ride.

WED WITH A WARRIOR The Cook Islands claims it's the ultimate romantic destination. There you can marry in a limestone church with a Polynesian choir, on a beach under an archway of frangipani, with the bride arriving on a canoe paddled by a warrior through the turquoise lagoon, or even underwater!

GET A ZULU BLESSING There's a new honeymoon package at South Africa’s Thanda Safari private game reserve offering couples rosescattered turndowns, a moonlit dinner in a private boma, bath tubs for two and a Zulu blessing from an elder under a Marula tree.

PROPOSE UNDERWATER Heritance Aarah, Maldives, has a proposal package for water lovers which includes a customised ‘Will You Marry Me?’ sign hidden amidst the coral reef, a photo shoot and drone video.


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ROMANTIC INDOCHINA From teak-decked colonial mansions to island paradise resorts, Indochina has plenty of romantic and luxurious places to stay, says Laura Gelder CAMBODIA It might be a tad rougher around the edges than Thailand and less established on people's bucket lists than Vietnam, but Cambodia has the former's whitesand beaches and the latter's French colonial charm - plus one of the world's most famous 'lost' cities. Lovers looking to explore Angkor Wat can stay at Amansara in Siem Reap, ten minutes from the UNESCO site. Once a residence for guests of the Cambodian king, the resort's 1960s New Khmer architecture sports monochrome minimalism and a tranquil atmosphere. For the beach break after the culture, Song Saa Private Island off Sihanoukville is Maldives-esque with its powdery white sand and villas reached by floating pontoons across the reef. Interiors are all floaty white linen, polished dark wood floors and driftwood decor. Alternatively, adventurous couples can check into the eco-friendly 4 Rivers Floating Lodge on the Tatai River in the Cardamom rainforest. Song Saa Private Island

LAOS Landlocked Laos has the kind of romantic landscapes that poets dream of, with misty limstones karsts rising out of paddy fields, shining golden temples and distressed shuttered mansions. The capital Luang Prabang has to be the world's calmest – the busiest it gets is when its saffron-robed monks collect alms at sunrise – and it has the lion's share of luxury accommodation, mostly boutique hotels. There's Satri House, set in a former Lao prince’s childhood villa lined with fine art and boasting a spa set around an ornamental lily pond; Rosewood Luang Prabang, hidden on a hillside outside the city with riverside suites, waterfall villas or hilltop tents, all sporting French colonial furniture set against bold colours; and Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, set in tropical gardens bursting with frangipani, mango and hibiscus, boasting views of Mount Phousi and with stylish teak- and wicker-decorated shadowy interiors. In Champasak, southern Laos, Kingfisher Ecolodge is a more rustic option, nestled in the tranquil Mekong meadowlands, with buffalo grazing by its bungalows. Rosewood Luang Prabang


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VIETNAM Long and skinny Vietnam is loved for its combination of chaotic cities thrumming with mopeds; the iconic scattered isles of emerald-hued Halong Bay, beach destinations ranging from lively Nha Trang to the serene islands of Phu Quoc and mountains accessed by winding roads or hardy treks through hill tribe territory. When it comes to luxury there's an established repetoire including big brands – like the zen-like Four Seasons Nam Hoi near historic Hoi An. Here, a threetiered pool leads down to one of the country's best beaches and villas are tucked away in tropical gardens or on the beach, with canopied beds and sunken baths. The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi is a city landmark steeped in history and dripping in colonial opulence. Located in the French Quarter by the Opera House, it's a destination in itself for atmosphere and cuisine. Six Senses Con Dao is named after this group of green islands. Designed like a fishing village, it has 50 pool villas built from sustainable materials like reclaimed teakwood. Couples can explore deserted beaches, kayak mangroves or hike through an old fruit plantation. Six Senses Con Dao

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DINNER AT DUSK Whether you're a hopeless romantic or think Valentines Day is just commercial exploitation, this table for two at Castello Di Reschio in Italy is bound to melt your heart. Scattered in Umbria's Reschino hills, these ten ancient farmhouses embody the current trend for 'dispersed hotels', which aim to create a micro-community for guests and locals. It's due to open in July.


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Book online at: Call: 0844 414 6161 Agency Sales: 0844 414 6140 Brochures: Subject to availability. Book by 31st March 2020. Terms & conditions apply. +Applies to sales achieved over £5k for 2019/20.Offered for sale in the UK by South Quay Travel & Leisure Ltd trading as Cruise & Maritime Voyages. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your telephone comany’s access charge. ABTA V9945. ATOL 4619. 5696

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Most Romantic Resort 7 YEARS IN A ROW

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AT THE WORLD TRAVEL AWARDS CARIBBEAN GALA CEREMONY 2020 The exotic Caribbean and sophisticated Mediterranean come together at this grand resort on Antigua’s best and most famous beach, Dickenson Bay – providing your clients with two extraordinary holidays in one. Here they can explore the Caribbean Grove, a charming seaside garden oasis graced by meandering pathways, majestic palms and cooling trade winds. Then step into a realm of chic sophistication where European grandeur unfolds from the hillside to villas-by-the-sea at the all-suite Mediterranean Village. Two perfect worlds. One grand resort. All included.

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