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Combine Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland for a trip filled with history, culture, scenery - and fun!

how to sell...

Oman Korea Thailand The Maldives Ecuador & Galapagos Mediterranean cruising and more...



this issue - we travel further to bring you more FEATURES 10 Cruising: The best of the

29 35 41 48 64 67 74 78

QUICK READS 8 Introducing: Antarctica 23 Alberta: Mountains and 32 44 52 72

Dinosaurs Looking at: Kentucky, the Bluegrass State Visit USA News: Stories from the Association Introducing: Scottsdale, Arizona My Journey: From Okinawa to Tokyo

23 48

road shows and more

67 41 74




Ben Coren

Steve Hartridge

is joining the Kenya Mega Fam and visiting the Maasai Mara, Nairobi National Park and beach resorts in Diani Beach

Laura Gelder

will visit sunny California to check out the latest attractions in Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

is setting off on an epic journey to the islands of French Polynesia, visiting Tahiti, Moorea and Rangiroa.

E C U A D O R & G A LA P A G O S


L U X U R Y A L L- I N C L U S I V E S




THE REVIEW 55 News and hotel reviews TALKING SHOP 13 Comp, incentives fams,

32 52

U S A : C A P I TA L R E G I O N






Meditteranean Luxury All-Inclusives: the upmarket options Solo Travel: Going it alone Ecuador & Galapagos: South America's natural choices Oman: Tourism investment plots the way USA: Capital Region: Wsahington D.C., Virginia & Maryland Lands of the Midnight Sun: late-night Scandinavia Korea: Full of contrasts and ready for golden days Thailand: Days out in and around Bangkok Maldives: Fit for families and solo travellers




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



Travel Trade Publication of the Year

Travel Trade Publication of the Year

– dedicated to those who love selling travel – Proudly published by BMI Publishing Ltd 2017 © 2017.

Suffolk House, George St, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1SR, UK T 020 8649 7233 | F 020 8649 7234 Publishers: Steve Thompson & Sally Parker Commercial Director: David Clare Editorial Director: Steve Hartridge Deputy Editor: Laura Gelder Staff Journalists: Ben Coren & Cameron Roberts Contributing Journalist: Jo Austin Group Editor: Andy Hoskins Contributing Editor: Julie Baxter Business Development Manager: Craig McQuinn Advertisement Manager: Lisa Merrigan Creative Director: Matt Bonner Designers: Louisa Horton, Monica Notarnicola, Ross Clifford, Zoë Tarrant Production Manager: Clare Hunter Managing Director: Martin Steady We are members of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Visit USA Association, LATA, PATA, MENATA, SATOA, the Foreign Airlines Association and the Institute of Travel & Tourism. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, BMI Publishing cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. ISSN: 2056-9319. Cover image:



he season of trade shows is upon us and over the next few weeks our staff writers and commissioned freelancers will be travelling the world, to destinations as diverse as Cuba and Thailand, to discover all the latest tourism news and trends. We attend as many of these shows as we can because, as with fam trips and educationals, nothing beats hearing all about a destination whilst you are actually experiencing that destination. Thus, over our next couple of issues, you’ll be able to read all about tourism developments in the Arabian countries, Canada, South Africa, the USA, Thailand and Cuba, to name just a few. The new angles, selling tips and range of helpful hints we pick up will be compiled into news stories and filtered into our features over the coming issues – with the Steve Hartridge expectation that all this new information will help you sell more of those EDITOR key destinations. For example, this year’s IPW, the leading travel industry show in the USA, will be held early next month in Washington DC. The city has long been planning a fabulous few days for delegates, with events planned at some of its leading tourism attractions such as one of the Smithsonian institutions and Newseum. The latter really is a must-see facility that, over several floors, chronicles the history of reported news and pays tribute to the journalists who brought their stories and photos - and sometimes gave their lives – to the world. Perhaps nothing better represents 'freedom of expression' and the five freedoms of the First Amendment to the country’s Constitution than this fabulous facility. You can read all about DC, and the reasons for suggesting your clients travel beyond the nation’s capital to see Virginia and Maryland – the three are known collectively as the Capital Region – in Lauren Jarvis’s evocative feature, starting on page 48. We also have other great American touring destinations covered, such as Savannah, Georgia (page 46), Scottsdale, Arizona (page 52) and the Bluegrass state of Kentucky (page 32). Elsewhere we'll 'take you' to Ecuador and the Galapagos, the Maldives, Japan, Korea and Oman – to name just a few. Enjoy this issue!

LOOK OUT FOR... OUR NAMIBIA SUPPLEMENT Southern Africa's special place... This rugged, arid and ancient land Namibia is a destination like no other. A sense of space and remoteness is one of Namibia’s chief draws, but it is also home to quirky, German-influenced towns; the lush Zambezi panhandle; coastal wilderness; the red sands of the TRAVEL GUIDE 2017-2018

Kalahari; wildlife-filled Etosha National Park; the giant sand dunes of Sossusvlei; and Fish River Canyon, Africa's largest canyon. In short, enough attractions and scenic wonders to fill several holidays. That's why planning that first or repeat trip is so important – and this guide offers you a host of tips to do just that.


events & festivals

reasons for seasons - events and experiences to shape a booking -

Heiva I Tahiti Tahiti’s 136th Heiva I Tahiti takes place this year between July 7-23. It will showcase a variety of the destination’s traditional dances and rituals. Sports, games and singing contests are hugely popular among locals and visitors are welcome to watch the proceedings.

Rath Yatra On June 25 the Hindu festival of Rath Yatra will see thousands of pilgrims and tourists congregating around three 45-foot chariots in Puri, eastern India. The chariots represent three Hindu deities: Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra.

Berlin Beer Week

Zagreb Folk Fest

Germany is rightly famed for its brews and from July 21-30 the destination’s capital shows showcases its best. The event is described as '10 days of craft beer culture and community' and is held across multiple venues. Clients should 'hoppe' to it to experience Berlin’s quality beer culture.

Celebrating classical Croatian arts, music and performances, the Zagreb Folk Fest will run from July 19-23. Visitors to Zagreb around this time can also learn cultural history through a series of workshops. Should clients want to dance (and even dress) like a traditional Croat, this is the place to be!

Tenjin Matsuri Osaka’s 1,000-year-old boat festival is a lively occasion which atttracts thousands of participants from the region. It includes a parade in which shrines weighing nearly a tonne are carried through the streets by locals. Taking place on July 24-25 the event is capped off with a boat procession and fireworks display.



A Discovery Cove Ultimate Package is like 2 holidays in 1. Scream for pulse-racing coasters, exhilarating water rides and new thrills like Mako at SeaWorld and Cobra’s Curse at Busch Gardens. There’s also the chance to make new friends with amazing animal encounters, and then relax on white sand beaches, lazy rivers and more. It’s Florida like you’ve never experienced before. Experience all four parks with the Discovery Cove Ultimate Package. Includes an all-inclusive day at Discovery Cove (dolphin swim or non-dolphin swim), 14 days unlimited admission to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica. Free unlimited parking too!

For more information contact your preferred ticket provider or visit Package includes one all inclusive day at Discovery Cove and unlimited admission to SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens for 14 consecutive days from first use. Guests must be at least 6 years of age to swim with the dolphins. Guests aged 6-12 must be accompanied by a paying adult who is also participating in the dolphin swim experience. Children aged 3-5 must purchase the non-dolphin swim package. Free bus transportation is available to Busch Gardens on the Busch Gardens Shuttle Express. Unlimited free parking at SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens is only valid for the duration of the ticket. This offer can be withdrawn or changed at any time. © 2017 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Antarctica – The last great wilderness –


reathtaking landscapes, unique wildlife encounters and a remote solitude you’ll find only at the end of the earth. A voyage to Antarctica may be a ‘once-in-alifetime' trip but the experience will stay with you forever, says Lauren Jarvis Recognised as one of the most stunning regions on the planet, Antarctica is still considered to be out of reach for most, both geographically and financially. But probably the planet’s last remaining wilderness is closer than you think. More expedition ships are on the way and with options to combine a visit to the ‘White Continent’ with stopovers in exciting South American destinations like Argentina and Chile, Antarctica is making it onto an increasing number of adventurous travellers’ bucket lists. Antarctica belongs to no single nation but is governed by the Antarctic Treaty, signed by 48 countries who share a ‘say’ in its future. The coldest, driest and windiest continent has a resident population of exactly zero: the only ‘native Antarcticans’ are the millions of penguins and other wildlife species that call this distant land home. Yes, it’s far away, but it is accessible, welcomimg 38,478 tourists in 2015/16, a rise of 4.6% from the previous season. Most visitors choose a live-aboard ship. ’Expedition cruising’ started here in the 1960s when explorer Lars-Eric Lindblad led the

first tourist trip to the continent which was formerly a playground for whalers, scientists and polar pioneers such as Shackleton and Scott. Lindblad created the blueprint for Antarctic cruises, combining comfort and adventure with ecological education programmes. Today, around 40 vessels ply Antarctic waters, with tourism regulated by the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (, which aims to minimise environmental impact and uphold safety standards in this challenging region. Only ships carrying 500 passengers or fewer are permitted to land, with 100 people at a time allowed on shore. Itineraries are coordinated so that double docking is rare. Aftr all, who wants a crowd at the end of the world? Idyllic days are spent cruising past mountains and glaciers, or crunching though pack ice; zipping ashore in Zodiac boats and exploring among the penguins; photographing whales, seals and orcas from the deck; kayaking amidst brilliant blue icebergs; visiting scientific research stations; and listening to talks from Antarctic experts. There’s fantastic food and drink to be had too, plus spas, saunas and gyms onboard. But the real magic here will always be the wilderness outside your window.

HOW TO GET THERE Expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula depart from one of South America’s gateway ports such as Punta Arenas (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina) or Montevideo (Uruguay), and occasionally from Cape Town or Port Elizabeth (South Africa). Some itineraries include South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. Cruises to the Ross Sea region depart from Hobart (Australia) or Lyttelton and Bluff (New Zealand). Antarctica’s tourist season runs from late October or early November through to late March or early April. 


STEPPES TRAVEL – 01285 601 050

Lindblad’s 14-day Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent costs from £11,665pp. It includes all-inclusive accommodation on the National Geographic Explorer (148 guests) or National Geographic Orion (102 guests); an overnight in Buenos Aires (Explorer) or Santiago (Orion); shore excursions and an all-weather Lindblad expedition jacket. Steppes pay agent commission of 10%.


med cruising

fits all one sea

The Mediterranean continues to be UK holidaymakers’ most popular cruise destination. Jo Austin goes in search of the best in the Med

med cruising


ith cruise lines adding even more choice when it comes to experiences available in those impressive European ports of call, the popularity of Mediterranean cruises shows no sign of slowing down,” says Andy Harmer, SVP Membership & Director, CLIA UK & Ireland. This great watery basin bordered by Europe, Asia and Africa stretches some 4000km from west to east and to this day retains some of the world’s most outstanding relics of past civilisations and empires. The Mediterranean is also home to some of Europe’s most vibrant cities and, of course, some of its very best beaches. It really is a cruise region where one sea fits all as more ships grace the region to cater for all budgets, tastes and ages. Perhaps reflecting the gradual changes in weather patterns or simply meeting demand, the traditional Med season is extending beyond the classic summer months, with several cruise lines now offering sailings from October to March. Another move to meet demand is the increasing number of ex-UK cruises to the Mediterranean. Said Justin Stanton, Sales and Marketing Director for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: “I would advise your clients on early decision-making for ex-UK 2018 Mediterranean cruises as they are selling fast.”

Perfect ten History afloat: Viking Cruises has rolled out its Viking Resident Historians programme, featuring a faculty of historians to provide guests with a high-level historical and cultural education that is specific to their Mediterranean sailing itinerary. Opera at sea: Silversea features a 12-day opera cruise from Athens to Rome on July

15 2017 on board its new flagship Silver Muse, featuring two private concerts from the Academia Teatro alla Scala. Funchal fireworks: Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral leaves Southampton on December 21 2017 for an 18-night Christmas and New Year cruise to the Canaries and Madeira, costing from £1,999pp. Wellness: Oceania Cruises has a series of exclusive excursions focused on wellness and healthy living. Tours will be offered onshore in France, Spain, Italy and Greece in partnership with Canyon Ranch which has a SpaClub on board every Oceania Cruises ship. Crowd-free: Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ all-suite luxury ship Explorer will be sailing the Mediterranean in November on a 12-night Plazas and Cathedrals all-inclusive cruise from Rome to Lisbon. From £6,069pp the ship will visit Barcelona, Palma, Málaga and Portofino, with an overnight stay in Cádiz. Art at sea: Hapag Lloyd is featuring a 10-day art2sea cruise from Palma Mallorca to Monte Carlo, June 24 to July 4 2018. Art experts will provide insights into their specialist field. From £4,845pp. Maiden voyage: Seabourn Ovation, which debuts in spring 2018, will have its inaugural 11-day luxury cruise on May 5 2018, sailing from Venice to Barcelona and visiting Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Malta, Italy, France and Spain. Additional Med itineraries are scheduled in May, October and November. Seabourn Quest, Encore and Odyssey will also be sailing in the Mediterranean in 2018. Golf and tapas: An eight-night Azamara Iberian Adventure cruise from Barcelona to Lisbon, departing April 20 2018, will include



med cruising

“The move to bring TUI Discovery to cities in both the north and south of the UK gives our customers the chance to sail from a region close to home. Regional flights are also available” RICHARD SOFER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, THOMSON

the option to buy a golf package to include play at Valderrama in Spain and top-class courses in Valencia, Majorca and the Algarve. Cruise-only from £1679 pp. Body beautiful: Regent Seven Seas has introduced an holistic wellbeing programme with Canyon Ranch SpaClub. Debuting on the Med aboard Seven Seas Voyager, guests will be able to choose from more than 10 land-based wellness excursions. Adults only: Thomson Celebration will move to Dubrovnik for summer 2018. It will operate an adults-only programme, ‘Venetian Vistas’, which offers customers the chance to wake up in a new destination each day.

What’s new  Cruising: MSC’s new MSC Meraviglia (msccruises. will sail the Mediterranean through the

Opening page: Santorini in Greece. This page (clockwise from top left; Italy’s Amalfi Coast; Fred Olsen’s Balmoral; a couple enjoying the Pan-Asian restaurant Pacific Rim on Regent Seven Seas’ Explorer

winter from October 17 2017 to March 18 2018, out of Genoa, visiting Naples, Messina, Valletta, Barcelona and Marseille. Prices start at £599pp for cruise only and £829 for a fly-cruise. Next year, the 2,700-guest Sapphire Princess ( will sail round-trip from Southampton to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Although the ship has been in the fleet since 2004, this will be Sapphire Princess’ maiden visit to Europe. There will be seven Mediterranean itineraries available from April - October, ranging from 10 to 14 nights. Thomson’s TUI Discovery will be based in the UK for the first time in 2018, sailing out

of Newcastle and Southampton and calling at 12 new ports including Monaco, Ancona and Skiathos on 12 new itineraries. Making its debut in Corfu Town in summer 2018, TUI Discovery 2 will sail four itineraries in the Eastern Mediterranean, while Thomson Dream will be based in Palma, Majorca. Holland America Line ( has announced a ‘ReadySetSail’ event giving guests the opportunity to save and spend via onboard spending money of up to $500. On a 12-night Mediterranean cruise on ms Westerdam, departing June 4 2017, guests will receive between $100 and $300 per stateroom onboard spend, plus pre-paid gratuities worth $325 per stateroom. Book by June 1 2017. Star Clippers ( has a new minicruise around the Greek islands, departing August 30 2017 from Athens and visiting Mykonos and Hydra. The five-night land-cruise holiday includes two nights post-cruise in Athens, with accommodation at the four-star St. George Lycabettus. The price of £999pp includes return UK flights, transfers in Athens, three nights on board Star Flyer and two nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast. MSC Meraviglia will be the first ship to be fully enabled with ‘MSC for Me’ technology, a digital multichannel experience available on smart phone, tablet app, interactive cabin TV screen or public interactive screens which allows passengers to be connected to the ship and its crew. Hapag Lloyd ( is featuring Alghero in Sardinia as a new port of call in 2018 and five Med cruises in 2018. Southampton will be the home port for Celebrity Silhouette ( for the first time, starting Summer 2018.

Where to book it  NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES – 0800 640 9737 An 11-day Eastern Mediterranean Fly and Cruise out of Rome on Norwegian Spirit sailing to Iraklion (Crete); Rhodes; Athens; Mykonos; Santorini; Valletta (Malta); Messina (Sicily); Naples and then back to Rome is priced from £1,269pp. It departs the UK on October 22 2017.

 PRINCESS CRUISES – 0843 374 2401 The 14-night Mediterranean Adventurer sails May 12 2018 from Southampton to Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Genoa, Marseille and Gibraltar and back. From £1,498pp.

 STAR CLIPPERS – 0808 231 4798 A three-night full-board mini-cruise around the Greek islands on board Star Flyer, including two nights’ hotel accommodation post-cruise, with breakfast, costs £999pp, including return UK flights and transfers. 


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-INSPIRED BY YOUThe stuff that happens when agents get involved...

Kenya Airways UK awards SPOTLIGHT ON...

KENYA Airways UK held its annual travel awards at Simpson's in the Strand, London. The evening also commemorated the 40th birthday of the carrier and welcomed over 75 guests including H.E Lazarus Amayo, High Commissioner for Kenya, and leading tour operators, travel agents, travel management companies and online retailers. Award winners included Kuoni, Exodus, Expedia, Southall Travel, HRG, Flight Centre, Action Challenge UK and Diversity. The Agents Loyalty Award for '40 years Service' went to Somak Holidays.

Contents 16 On Location: Namibia 18 California On the road 19 Selling Travel Dialogues: Botswana & New South Wales

Win with Silversea VIP FAM TRIP PLACES

THE Silversea Advocates recognition programme is offering agents the chance to win monthly prizes and a VIP fam trip at the end of the year. Each month, winning agents will be chosen from a shortlist. The 10 most nominated agents will win a place on a Silversea VIP fam trip.

Prestige Holidays

e Singapore incentiv SINGAPORE Airlines is offering agents the chance to win a place on one of three upcoming fam trips to Asia. But agents will have to act fast: they must book a Singapore Airlines ticket to any destination on the carrier's network before May 12 to win a place on one of the trips departing on either June 6 or 7.

inner Canada w

Each winner will be off to either Da Nang (Vietnam), Phuket (Thailand) or Luang Prabang (Laos) and will also spend three nights in Singapore itself. To enter, agents should email, with ticket numbers, along with their travel agency contact details (including a phone number).

KATY WALTON, reservation agent from 1st Class Holidays, was the winner of a bottle of Inniskillin ice wine and two Riedel wine glasses. The prize was awarded as part of an incentive run by Ontario Tourism and Air Canada. Agents who entered the competition had to answer two questions about Ontario and Air Canada. Inniskillin is an estate winery in Niagara-onthe-Lake.


Bookings made from April 10 are eligible for the competition. The winner will be announced on May 19. The Thailand trip will depart on June 6, returning on June 15, and both the Vietnam and Laos trips head out on June 7, returning on June 15.

PRESTIGE HOLIDAYS and Atlantic Canada Travel Partnership (ACTP) are giving agents the chance to win Love2Shop vouchers for completing Atlantic Canada training. Agents who complete the programme by June 30 will be entered into a draw. onlinetraveltraining.


Keep in mind...




- 15 May THE ADVANTAGE CONFERENCE 2017 Taking place at Club Med Opio, Provence, this year's conference will look at how a combination of technology and human service can enhance travel. The programme features a mix of keynote speeches, seminars, and masterclasses, along with networking opportunities.

- 14 June SELLING TRAVEL DIALOGUE Join Riviera Travel in either Brighton or Birmingham at a Selling Travel Dialogue. Discover more about the escorted tour specialist over nibbles and drinks. Some great prizes will be up for grabs over the two evenings including Love2shop vouchers and mystery goodies.

More online at



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Barbara Charlton

  01403 276684

It's a revolving door right now! “No sooner was I back from Cyprus than it was time to repack for South Africa”

It's been a ‘one inone out’ kind of month at The Sussex Travel Company! No sooner had I got back from Cordoba than Tanya set off for Thailand with her husband. She stayed in Bangkok's crazy Chinatown, at the beautiful Shanghai Mansion. This opulent and romantic property is now on our recommendation list for those seeking great service and ambience. After Bangkok Tanya moved on to the beach at Koh Samet, staying five nights at Paradee, a property I experienced on a 2015 fam. After the hustle and bustle of Thailand's capital, a villa with a private pool on an idyllic beach is perfect to fully recharge. I was happy to hear that Paradee is still perfect!

CYPRUS SURPRISE The day Tanya got back was my last day in the office before I whisked my husband Paul off on a surprise

trip. He had no idea he was going anywhere until he came home from work the day before to find a suitcase by the front door with a note saying ‘pack me!’ Well, it was his 60th! I actually got him onto the plane with no clue where the destination was – but then the pilot said it so loadly he heard it through his earphones! We were bound for the annual Constantinou Brothers Hotels agent and partners event at the fantastic five-star Asimina Suites, on the outskirts of Paphos. Our VIP treatment started on touchdown. We’d had four glasses of Moet & Chandon before we'd even got on the coach! And in the room was a welcome bottle of wine, note and birthday cake for Paul. This all-suite, adult-only property is set around a great pool by the beach and the seafront promenade is perfect for a sunset stroll. All the suites offer plenty of space and the

service really impressed us all; from the GM down to the gardeners, everyone was friendly and just couldn’t do enough.

e's phrodit a at A Barbar aphos, Cypus Rock, P

Geraldine from Azure, Mark from Seadream, Aaron from Trafalgar, Joe from Shamwari, Sophie from Planet, Kath from Uniworld, Christina from Elysium, Craig from Funway and Andy from Clubmed. Thanks guys – we are always happy to support those who take the time to come and see us! Tanya and I attended an ABTA

DIFFERENT VIEW Our final day was spent in the Troudos Mountains, via Aphrodite's Rock to the pretty village of Omodos. Here, all 60 of us were treated to a mountain meze lunch in the courtyard restaurant, Stou Kir Yianni. I recommend this for those wanting “Shanghai Mansion will to see Cyprus show you a different side to beyond the beach. Thanks to the Thailand’s vibrant capital” UK team, Alex, Mark and Ellis as well as the full team at Asimina Suites for such regional meeting a great stay! I already have a lovely at Gatwick, sponsored by couple booked to go in a few weeks Alentejo Tourism. This lovely-looking to celebrate their 40th anniversary! Portuguese region is now very much NICE TO SEE YOU! on my radar for a self drive. It has been great to welcome tour But next stop, South Africa! I flew operator reps to the office to find out there on April 22, so more about the their latest offers and updates. And, Rainbow Nation next month. of course, the odd Easter egg Happy selling! never goes Asimina Suites, amiss! a top-quality adult April saw -only property visits from



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Agents view the best of Namibia THE HOSTS Talking Stick Marketing, Sense of Africa (ground handler) and Legacy Hotels, along with a representative from the Namibia Tourism Board. THE TRIP Nine travel agents and tour operators visited Namibia on a 10-day trip that introduced them to some of the Southern African country's top attractions and hotels. An itinerary that started with a South African WHAT: FAM TRIP TO NAMIBIA Airways flight included the otherWHEN: 16-27 MARCH 2017 wordly DeadVlei and Sesriem Canyon, WHO: NAMIBIA TOURISM BOARD, dolphin spotting on a catamaran SENSE OF AFRICA, LEGACY cruise and a game drive in Etosha HOTELS, TALKING STICK National Park. Site visits featured WHY: A CHANCE TO VISIT SOME Sossusvlei, Desert Camp & Desert OF THE COUNTRY'S SITES AND Quiver Camp, Etosha Safari Lodge and LUXURY HOTELS Windhoek Country Club & Resort.

THE VERDICT Karis Masham, Marketing Manager at Namibia Tourism Board UK, said: “Namibia is a truly mesmerising destination and our Namibia Highlights tour with Sense of Africa showcased the best places to visit for a first-time visitor to the country.”

What they said... “From start to finish the trip was just amazing. Namibia is so diverse and has something for everyone, from wildlife in the national parks to coastal areas with vibrant restaurants and beaches to the spectacularly impressive sand dunes. I cannot recommend this country enough.” Michael Smith, Manager, Visions of Africa “Namibia was so much more exciting than I could have imagined and Sense of Africa really showed the country off at its best. The

SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK/COMPETITIONS highlight. The Living Museum in Damaraland

catamaran cruise from Walvis Bay was such a was also a fascinating glimpse into local culture but nothing can beat the view from Sorris Sorris Lodge over Mount Brandberg.” Milly Barratt, Ground Product Consultant Travel Nation



To celebrate the launch of its new trade training programme, Travel Alberta is giving away a 10-night ski holiday to the Rockies and flights with British Airways

Ÿ An overview of Alberta Ÿ Insights into the province’s urban centres Ÿ An exploration of the Canadian Rockies Ÿ Sales tips on niche and specialty experiences



Ÿ Future fam trips Ÿ Special invites to Alberta events Ÿ Access to incentives Ÿ Access deals from industry partners

The Alberta Specialist Programme is an interactive, on-demand, multi-platform learning tool that aims to engage and entertain you as you learn.



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done that

Texas out in force in the UK


TRAVEL agents and Québec Original partners enjoyed a day of training and an evening of cookery and partner presentations at The Mandeville Hotel, London. Pictured from left is Québec Original’s Caroline Mancient, André Martel and Jacinthe Doucet from Québec Authentique.

Trade and media missions REPRESENTATIVES from Texas Tourism and a number of its regional partners have been in the UK on a sales and media mission. In addition to desk-side meetings and training sessions in London, they held a trade event in Manchester to promote Singapore Airline’s new Manchester to Houston route. Pictured from left: Joseph Talbot, Singapore Airlines; Louise Petter, Singapore Airlines; Martin Friend, Singapore Airlines; Julie Greenhill, Texas Tourism; Anna Watt, Texas Tourism; Anja Puschmann, Houston CVB; Tommy Woods, Texas Tourism; James Bailey, MD, Texas Tourism; Jody Hanson, Texas Tourism; Leigh Lyons, Grapevine. A

Cooking with



Party in the Big Easy BRITISH AIRWAYS and New Orleans CVB treated their best-performing travel trade partners to the ultimate New Orleans experience to promote the launch of BA's new direct service to the city. The ‘Party in the Sky’ departed from Heathrow on March 24 to coincide with the Mardi Gras celebrations. C A TAP Portugal and Manchester Airport partnered to organise a trade-networking event in The Fazenda restaurant, Manchester. The event celebrated TAP’s double-daily flights from Manchester to Lisbon. Pictured are Gold Medal’s Naomi Rutherford, Rachael Wilson, Leanne Walsh and Lesley Smith. B EVA Air and the Tourism Authority of Thailand hosted eight UK agents on a trip to Thailand. Pictured from left: Shruti Shah, EVA Air; Camilla Hallinan, Premier Holidays; Neha Raithatha, Travelpack; Sarah Gilmore, Bangkok Airways; Karan Malhotra, Travelbag; Alpa Shah,

Citibond; Lina Lameiro, Emerald Travel; Asmita Patel, Colletts Travel; Kannika Mac, Tourism Authority of Thailand; Daniel Marsden, Flight Centre; and Lucy Bello, Kuoni. C HOLLIE Leighton (pictured right) from Spa Travel in Wetherby won Osprey Holidays' Ultimate Icelandic Experience. After completing an Osprey Holidays booking, Hollie won flights with Icelandair, two nights' accommodation in Reykjavik, a trip to the Blue Lagoon, and a number of tour options. She is pictured here with Osprey Holidays’ Nicole Graham.



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Visit California's road trip meets the STARS THE BIG TRIP The Visit California STAR team hit the road in a specially-branded car to meet, over two weeks, with as many UK agents and tour operators as they could. Along the way it handed out some brilliant prizes to some lucky competition winners. The California STAR Training Programme and Sales Companion is designed to help agents sell California either on their desktop or mobile device. The training course features regularly updated content and there are plans for completion incentives – so either finish the course now or keep an eye out for them later. Those who’ve already completed the training qualify for prizes. Visit for further information. THE STOPPING POINTS During the fortnight the team, in its eye-catching Blue Chevy Camaro, visited offices and high street shops including the headquarters of Audley Travel in Witney, Virgin Holidays and Hayes & Jarvis in Crawley and Thomas Cook in Peterborough. The road trip kicked off in Chiswick, with America as You Like It, before travelling to Beaconsfield, High Wycombe and Oxford to meet with the teams at Turquoise Holidays, Kuoni and Trailfinders.Travelling further west, the Visit California STAR team visited Cheltenham, Swansea, Cardiff and Bristol.


Week two saw the road trip venture north, to the Midlands and Scotland, where the Visit California STAR team visited no less than 13 cities and towns including Nottingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow. There were two exclusive evening events, for Bon Voyage in Southampton and for Abercrombie & Kent in Cheltenham. A third, at the Botanist in Chester, was attended by staff from Flight Centre, American Road Trip Company and Elegant Resorts.

PRIZE WINNERS Sarah Maguire from Kuoni Travel in Newcastle-uponTyne was the big winner of a guaranteed place on the 10th Anniversary California SuperFAM. Daniel Corbitch (North America Travel Service), Angel Smith (Travel 2), Gemma Wells (G Adventures) and Lucy Boardman (Carrier) each won an iPad Mini.



From top: the team at Thomas Cook with the California Star Chevy; San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge; stopping in historic Oxford; Travel 2's Angel Smith won an iPad; Santa Monica; sunset on the California coast; The team at Flight Centre HQ


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Botswana woos Bristol agents


West country agents gathered in Bristol for the latest of Botswana Tourism's Selling Travel Dialogues. The evening proved fun and educational for agents, and gave representatives from the Southern African destination the chance to interact with the trade. Botswana is renowned for the abundance of its wildlife but, as agents discovered, there’s more to the country than its safari options.

THE EVENT Dawn Wilson, UK Representative at Botswana Tourism, presented an in-depth overview of the country's key regions and adventure activities. THE DETAILS Botswana's leading wildlife viewing areas include safari hot spots the Okavango Delta - which becomes a lush animal habitat during the seasonal floods – Chobe National Park and the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Activities on offer away from beating around the bush include cultural visits to local villages and cycling and horseback riding. Dawn Wilson also highlighted the ease of arranging a beach and safari combination, by twinning Botswana and South Africa for a two-centre holiday. Most travellers heading to Botswana will connect through South Africa. THE REWARDS Throughout the evening agents were asked to answer spot


questions – and the top performers walked away with prizes that included three Hotel Chocolat gift boxes, four bottles of wine and various other goodies.

What did they think? “The great thing about Botswana is travellers can take several trips to the destination, as there’s so much to do. It should do well for repeat business.” Vikki Coe, Travel Counsellor “Now that I know a little more about the destination I’d definitely use it as a twincentre, probably with South Africa. I think my clients will be especially interested in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans.” Tim Worrell, C The World “The wildlife in Botswana is something I’ll definitely be focussing on, as well as the eco-angle and the fact it is very lightly populated. The twin-centre option is appealing, particularly the classic beach and safari combination."

THE CONCLUSION The evening concluded with a Q&A session that saw agents picking up various 'insider tips' on how to sell Bostwana. These included domestic travel advice, safety instructions for clients out in the bush, the best months for travel, details on luxury lodges and more.

Caroline Bowler, Travel Counsellor “I came to this event to broaden my knowledge and learn about lesser-known areas in Botswana. I want to try different ways to sell it and be able to recommend fresh activities or accommodation options to new clients as well as repeat visitors.” Claire Rosser, C The World


talking shop

S E L L I N G T R AV E L D IA L O G U E New South Wales

From Sydney's lights to bush and beach




New South Wales is best known for its iconic capital, Sydney. But what’s beyond the city? Did you know it has rainforest, outback and snowy mountains as well as beaches and cities?


We teamed up with Destination New South Wales on two Selling Travel Dialogues this April, in Glasgow and Leeds, reviewing the icons and revealing the hidden gems of this vast and varied state.

SYDNEY Australia’s most well-known city and the starting point for many, Sydney’s attractions are world-famous – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House for starters. Other popular activities in the city include a Sydney Harbour cruise, a visit to Taronga Zoo for Aussie wildlife and elevated city views and exploring bustling Darling Harbour’s shops, bars, restaurant and museums, like the Maritime Museum. Sydney’s islands are a popular

itinerary stop – suggest ex-convict colony Cockatoo Island for a taste of Sydney’s rich history, or Shark Island for its relaxing beaches. A network of ferries takes visitors to the islands and beaches – with Bondi and Manly top sandy spots. Sydney’s renowned shopping ranges from international high street brands in places like the Pitt Street Mall and Westfield to the designer boutiques in the Queen Victoria Building. Its ever- growing dining scene takes in high-end spots like Bennelong at the Sydney Opera House to street food at Central Park’s Spice Alley to barbies by the beach. Top events include Sydney’s flamboyant but family-friendly Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras on the first weekend of March; the outdoor Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, which is set on a spectacular floating stage; and Vivid Sydney which each

May/June turns the city into an art canvas with light installations joining live music and public talks from creative types.

THE BLUE MOUNTAINS Just a 90-minute drive from Sydney, this beautiful region offers bush walking trails with self-guided options as well as kayaking, rock climbing, 4WD excursions and biking. Visitors short on time can stop at Scenic World, a visitor centre which offers multiple ways to see the Blue Mountains, including via cable car and railway. The most famous sight is the Three Sisters, a rock formation at Echo Point, Katoomba. HUNTER VALLEY Comprising over 120 wineries, this region is most famous for its Semillon grapes. Visitors can taste wines at the cellar door along with


talking shop


New South Wales



Top NSW tips


The Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb offers different packages ranging from a 'sampler' 1.5 hour climb, up to the 3.5 hour full climb. Darling Harbour hosts free fireworks every Saturday evening. Taronga Zoo’s Roar and Snore programme allows visitors to sleepover, enjoy dinner, a


night safari and go behind the scenes. There are 70 beaches within an hour of Sydney’s CBD. Walk the Bondi to Coogee track to see the famous seawater pools. Book early for New Year’s Eve! Harbour view rooms sell quickly but boat spaces sell slower. See NETWORKING IN GLASGOW

plenty of other local produce ranging from olives to cheese. There are a host of gastronomic experiences which agents can book in advance. along with scenic hot air balloon flights and even vineyard touring by helicopter.

THE LEGENDARY PACIFIC COAST DRIVE This 930km coastal driving route runs between Sydney and Brisbane. Year-round, well signposted and fully accessible, it’s great for beach and nature lovers. Port Stephens is two and a half hours north from Sydney and offers no less than 26 golden beaches, cruising, kayaking and swimming with dolphins from Nelson Bay and sand boarding, quad biking and even camel riding at Stockton Sand Dunes. A further three hours north is Port Macquarie, a port famous for


whale watching between May and November as well as coastal walks and the world’s first koala hospital. Coffs Harbour is another two hours' north and offers pristine nature, with superior diving and snorkelling at Solitary Islands Marine Reserve and rainforest walks at the inland Dorrigo National Park. Wild kangaroos can also be seen at Emerald Beach. A further three hours on is the popular town of Byron Bay, famous for its arty and hippy vibe and artisan markets. It’s a popular spot for whale watching, surfing and kayaking and coastal walks.

GRAND PACIFIC DRIVE Taking in the state’s south coast, this 140km scenic drive starts in the New South Wales’ Royal National Park (the country’s oldest), less than an hour south of Sydney’s CBD. The lesser-known route has a

wealth of activities ranging from whale watching to exploring coastal towns: stop off to enjoy surf town Wollongong’s buzzing bar scene, Kiama’s dramatic blowholes and Shoalhaven’s wineries and restaurants.

LORD HOWE ISLAND Lying 630km east of the Australian mainland and a two-hour flight from Sydney, this exclusive, World Heritage-listed paradise offers pristine reefs and lush forests. It’s home to the world’s most southerly coral reef and is a top scuba diving, fishing and bird watching destination. SY DN EY HA



The Blue Mountains' Jenolan Caves offer the chance to spot platypus. Top walks at Byron Bay include the Cape Byron Lighthouse and Mount Wollumbin, the first place in Australia to see the sunrise. Grand Pacific Drive highlights include swimming with fur seals at Montague Island, the whitest sands in the world in Jervis Bay and luxury bush camps. Lord Howe Island takes just 400 visitors at a time.




six of the best







Think New South Wales is all about sun and sea? Think again! Here are six unique experiences you 6 won’t find elsewhere in Australia, says Laura Gelder



Sydney Harbour is dotted with small islands, each offering a different experience – whether that’s just fish and chips and a great view or an insight into the city’s Aboriginal past. Cockatoo Island is the largest and a fascinating former prison; Fort Denison is a former defence facility with top-notch views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from its popular restaurant, while Shark Island is visited for its picnic-perfect views. TOP TIP: Some of the best spots for a New Year’s Eve celebration can be found on Sydney’s islands, but they often need to be booked in advance.



Royal National Park was established in 1879 and is the second-oldest in the world. It’s located about an hour’s drive from both Sydney’s CBD and Wollongong. This heritage-listed park spans 16,000 hectares from the coastline to the Hacking River and is perfect for bushwalking, cycling, surfing, picnicking or whale watching. The terrain ranges from beach to rainforest and cottages and camping grounds are available. DID YOU KNOW: The park is affectionately known to locals as the ‘Nasho’ or just ‘the Royal’.


BE THE FIRST 3 TO SEE THE AUSSIE SUNSHINE Mount Wollumbin (or Mount Warning) is officially the first place that sees the sunrise on the Australian mainland. The 8.8 km, five-hour return walk through the rainforest, culminates in breathtaking 360-degree views around the ancient caldera, with coastal views stretching from The Gold Coast to Byron Bay. The track passes subtropical and temperate rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and heath shrubland. TOP TIP: At the foot of the mountain is Mount Warning Rainforest Park, home to cosy mountain villages, lush rainforests, waterfalls, golden beaches, funky craft markets and art galleries.



Scenic World in the Blue Mountains is home to this unique passenger train, which rides a dizzying 52-degree incline track through ancient rainforest. Passengers can relax inside the glass-roofed carriages and enjoy expansive views of the rainforest and spectacular Jamison Valley. DID YOU KNOW: Custom-designed carriages allow passengers to adjust their seated position up to 20 degrees. Choose an adventurous ‘Cliffhanger’ ride at a steep 64degree incline – if you dare.


Otherwordly Mungo National Park is 800km west of Sydney and couldn’t be more removed from modern life. Here, in this landscape of ancient dried-up lake beds and sand dunes, the remains of Mungo Man, the oldest human skeleton discovered in Australia, and Mungo Woman, the oldest ritually-cremated remains ever found, were both uncovered. Find out more at the visitor centre or stay overnight in old shearer’s quarters. TOP TIP: Take a guided tour of the Walls of China, an area where thousands of years of erosion has sculpted sand and clay into an unforgettable landscape of ridges and dramatic pinnacles.


Lord Howe Island, a two-hour flight east from the New South Wales mainland, is home to many unique natural features. It’s one of Australia’s premier birdwatching destinations, with 130 permanent and migratory bird species and its dramatic volcanic peaks offer fantastic hiking and the chance to see 64 species of flowering plants. Under the sea are 90 coral varieties and 500 types of fish. Explore the basalt caves and reefs below the world’s tallest sea-stack, Ball’s Pyramid. DID YOU KNOW: Your customers will be one of just 400 guests when they visit this heritage-listed island – the numbers are restricted to protect its beauty.

travel alberta


∩ Dinosaurs and mountains - Looking for itinerary inspiration? This tour links Edmonton and Calgary in style Clients looking for the ultimate Canadian experience will love this drive from Edmonton to Calgary, mixing modern cities with fine food and the best in outdoor living.


SUPER CITY DAY ONE & TWO: Visitors embarking on a classic road trip through the Rocky Mountains are already thinking big. And there’s no better place to begin than the bright lights of Edmonton. They can get the retail therapy done first at the famous West Edmonton Mall with more than 800 stores or in the independent boutiques in historic Old Strathcona. Head out to Elk Island National Park which is home to bison, deer and moose, while a Segway tour of the North Saskatchewan River is a modern take on a trail ride.


D AY O N E & T W O :




D AY S E V E N & E I G H T : LA K E LO U I S E

GRANDE DESIGNS DAY THREE & FOUR: Canada’s wide open spaces are revealed in the six-hour drive to Grande Prairie. On the way visitors marvel at Rochfort Bridge – one of the continent’s longest train trestle bridges, while a stop at Fort Assiniboine Friendship Museum sheds light on the area’s frontier past. In town there are craft beers to taste on a tour of GP Brewing Company. Nighthawk Adventure Park and the Phillip J Currie Dinosaur Museum are great for all ages. They can try summertime ski jumping at the former, and get hands-on with fossils at the latter. History buffs will love Sexsmith, a town packed with buildings from the 1920s and 1930s.


PRECIOUS JASPER DAY FIVE & SIX: The pretty mountain town of Jasper is a leisurely four-five hour drive away, welcoming guests with rustic cabins and luxury lodges. Head for the Jasper SkyTram, Canada’s longest and highest cable car, and your clients will get breathtaking views and can then look even higher at the Jasper Planetarium and Telescope Stargazing Experience. Travel down the Icefields Parkway leaving plenty of time to ride the explorer bus to the Athabasca Glacier and experience the incredible glass-floored Glacier Skywalk.



MOUNTAIN HIGHS DAY SEVEN & EIGHT: On through Jasper National Park they’ll find Lake Louise, where the Lake Louise Gondola rises to 2,088 metres for brilliant views and grizzly bear spotting. They can stroll or hike around Lake Louise, or rent a canoe and paddle to the Victoria Glacier. Nestled in the heart of Banff National Park, Banff is a rugged treat. Top attractions are the Banff Gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain; a relaxing soak in the restorative waters of Banff Hot Springs; plus horseriding, barbecue cook-outs and some serious shopping for local crafts.

CATTLE DRIVE DAY NINE & TEN: Home of the famous Calgary Stampede each July, this modern city has plenty on offer year-round. For authentic tastes, suggest the Calgary Food Tour or Farmers Market where rows of colourful fresh produce make for tasty treats and great



D AY N I N E & T E N :

photos. The Calgary Craft Beer tour explores brewing in the city, while a drive along the scenic Cowboy Trail to the Eau Clare distillery ends offers locally produced gin and vodka. Outside of town in the heart of the Canadian Badlands lies Drumheller and the UNESCOprotected Dinosaur Provincial Park for the best of fossil-hunting. The Royal Tyrrell Museum here has a superb dinosaur display and the Hoodoo Trail (Highway 10) is dotted with famous prehistoric sandstone pillars.

luxury all-inclusives


money a run for one’s

Careful consumers love allinclusive holidays, where they know exactly what they are getting. Kathryn Liston looks at some upmarket options


t’s not every day that I’m handed an apron after I check into a five-star hotel. But at the Aldemar Royal Mare, Crete, I’m going to learn how to cook healthy Cretan food – just one of many experiences on offer to guests. I chop and dice peppers, aubergines, herbs and spring onions for the salad, stirring, seasoning and tasting as the hotel’s head chef, George Chatzopoulos, demonstrates. A splash of truffle oil here, a dash of sesame seeds there, all provide a professional finishing touch.

Next up, a surprisingly easy prawn kritharada, using orzo pasta. It is a fun and educational two hours and I get to eat my own dishes – a taste of Crete on a plate. Thankfully, during the rest of my stay, I get to sample other chefs’ food too. And the exquisite food served in the resort’s Asian and Mediterranean a la carte restaurants is superb. I watch exquisite creations of sushi and sashimi take shape in the open kitchen at the Royal Palm restaurant – and it tastes as good as it looks.

I’m so impressed with this, and all the other dishes, that I go back a couple of times more. The Mediterranean Candia restaurant also excels: sautéed lobster, chicken loin stuffed with halloumi cheese and Metaxa and melting chocolate soufflé. To work off the calories, I swim every morning in the pool right outside my room –it’s shared with other houses that cluster around it (the resort is built like a Cretan village), but it feels very private - what better way to start the day?


luxury all-inclusives

Afterwards, I wander through cobbled streets to the peaceful VIP El Greco restaurant, where yellow-yoked eggs and orange juice are freshly laid and made. What next? A massage at the Thalassotherapy spa, tennis? Ah, the dilemma of the all-inclusive guest.

Clockwise from top left: A Junior Suite in Calabash, Grenada; Sandals South Coast Jamaica; entertainment at St. James’s Club Morgan Bay Saint Lucia; high-end all-inclusives are all about exquisite dining – and no buffets!

Fiona Greenhaigh, Head of Product, says: “We do regard all-inclusives as part of the luxury market, but we choose the hotels carefully. In recent years, some have started to introduce the all-inclusive option, for example Carlisle Bay, Antigua, and Constance Halaveli, Maldives.” Ioannis Tsichlis, Grecotel Marketing Director, Control the purse strings says there has been increased demand for all Uncertainty over Brexit and currency fluctuations the company’s all-inclusive properties: “We have have fuelled a demand for luxury all-inclusive found that people who experience luxury allholidays. Customers who are reluctant to trade inclusive hotels and resorts tend to come back or down in terms of quality but want to budget for look for similar experiences in other locations.” their holiday are turning to the growing number Gourmet dining, quality wines, activities and of options available. exemplary service feature All-inclusive holidays strongly at luxury allaccount for almost a third “We see clients looking for a inclusives; some include of Kuoni’s worldwide spa treatments and dine wide choice of gourmet a la around. At Ikos Olivia bookings and 75% of carte restaurant dining at all- in Halkidiki, Greece, its Caribbean holidays. inclusive hotels. AMResorts in Michelin-starred chefs Aldemar Resorts, which operates hotels in Mexico are particularly strong oversee menus and a Greece, says 71% of dine out programme on this selling point” early bookings through which means guests MALCOLM DAVIES, DESTINATION PRODUCT UK tour operators are can visit local tavernas MANAGER, FUNWAY HOLIDAYS for all-inclusive stays at no extra cost. - up 33% on last year. Malcolm Davies, All-inclusives have undergone a Destination Product Manager at Funway renaissance in recent years with many Holidays, said: “We see clients looking for a wide five-star resorts in Europe, choice of gourmet a la carte restaurant dining the Indian Ocean, Asia at all-inclusive hotels. AMResorts in Mexico and the Caribbean are particularly strong on this selling point.” now embracing the The All Inclusive Plus package at new Maldives model and investing resort Hurawalhi Island Resort includes unlimited in new restaurants, food and drink but not a la carte dining. And spas and experiences. at $940 (£754) per night for a Beach Villa, it’s Luxury tour operator a great commission earner for travel agents. Carrierhas seen high demand The good news for destinations is that for them in the Maldives, all-inclusive guests are spending more in with sales to Constance local restaurants. A Post Office All Inclusive Moofushi tripling year-onreport found that two-thirds of families year. Most of its Antigua hotels in Europe spend an average of £254 and safari lodges and camps (+9%) and long-haul holidaymakers even in Africa are also all-inclusive. more at £288 - up 44% on a year ago. Popular options in the Caribbean “Almost half (44%) of holidaymakers now include Calabash in Grenada and the view all-inclusive resorts as a base from BodyHoliday and East Winds in Saint Lucia. which to venture out for meals and drinks in

luxury all-inclusives

local bars and restaurants,” said the report. Resorts are also becoming more ethically aware. Turtle Beach, Barbados, encourages guests to help with turtle hatching; Adler Mountain Lodge in the Dolomites, Italy, was built from local wood by local craftsmen and has converted its petrol people carrier to electric. All-inclusives are not confined to big hotels either. Tiamo Resort on South Andros in The Bahamas, has 10 villas and Zanzibar Collection’s boutique Zawadi and The Palms, both adult-only, have only six villas. Luxury Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas are also all-inclusive, as are Great Rail Journeys’ itineraries which include sightseeing tours.

Perfect ten

Wildlife encounters: Go in search of black bears and whales at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, Vancouver Island, British Colombia, or take a hike on the wild side. Sip and savour: AMResorts dine-around programme allows guests to experience its nearby resorts in Cancun, Cozumel and Riviera Maya, Mexico, at no extra cost. Jungle japes: rappel on rock walls or explore waterways and historic sites in the Mayan jungle at The Explorean Kohunlich in Chetumal, southern Mexico.. Community spirit: 80% of staff at the Zanzibar Collection’s boutique allinclusive properties come from local villages with 60 staff for just six villas at adult-only Zawadi and The Palms.

Fish supper: “Almost half (44%) of seafood is on the What’s new holidaymakers now view all-  New Hotels: Zoetry menu at OZEN by Montego Bay (zoetryresorts. Atmosphere’s M6m inclusive resorts as a base gourmet underwater from which to venture out for com), which opened in restaurant in the meals and drinks in local bars Jamaica last December, features 46 luxury Maldives - the only one and restaurants” suites and an Endless of its kind in the South POST OFFICE ALL INCLUSIVE REPORT Privileges package Male Atoll. Stars in your which includes gourmet eyes: boutique Adler Mountain Lodge, dining, unlimited drinks, sparkling wine and fruit Italy, offers guided star-gazing with a local daily and a 20-minute wellness experience. astronomer. UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya is a Walk on water: Ever performed burpees, new, aspirational, adults-only, all-inclusive lunges or squats on floating Aquadbase hotel that has been designed with a heavy mats? You can at Elite Island Resorts’ hotels in influence from the property’s location, heritage Barbados thanks to the Caribbean’s first and local culture. It aims to redefinine the floatfit®CARIBBEAN aquabase® classes. traditional all-inclusive concept by being totally Whats-Up? You don’t even need to run immersive. Says Tracey Dyson, UK Regional your own bath at the White Palace, Crete; Sales Director, RCH Hotels: “The resort offers just call a butler via WhatsApp to request a high class dining, experimental mixology, bubble bath or a candlelit dinner at the beach. stunning interior design and super luxurious Ocean views: say your I dos with surroundings – and there are no hidden costs. 360-degree ocean views at Sandals’ From high class gastronomy to spa treatments South Coast Resort’s new over-the-water and authentic activities, everything is included.” wedding chapel with glass-floor aisle. The adults-only Warwick Paradise Island Michelin stars: Enjoy gourmet cuisine ( is new at the Ikos Olivia resort, Halkidiki, Greece, to Nassau/Paradise Island. The 250-room, where Michelin-starred chefs oversee menus. all-inclusive hotel features a huge harbour

Clockwise from top left: Grecotel’s White Palace, Crete; Sandals South Coast beach; sunset riding at The Club Barbados Resort & Spa; Pineapple Beach Club Antigua; Galley Bay Resort & Spa Antigua



luxury all-inclusives

( have launched The Caribbean Colour Me Calm Club which includes ‘Ink and drink’ sunset sessions and a colouring book created by Puffin illustrator Adam Stower and Existential psychotherapist Dr. Nicole Gehl.

Tourism talk

terrace with freshwater free-form pool.  Packages: The BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia ( is holding its

annual yoga retreat in October with guest instructors and yogi food. A new ‘all-in Elements’ package at the five-star Aldemar Royal Mare (aldemarhotels. com), Crete, includes spa treatments at the Thalasso centre, fine dining, branded alcoholic drinks, yoga, pilates, fitness programmes, water-sports, tennis and squash. Grecotel ( has introduced the LUX ME all-inclusive experience at the White Palace resort, Crete which includes butler service. Facilities/experiences: The all-inclusive Suite Hotel Atlantis Fuerteventura Resort ( has refurbished its 383 suites and introduced an adults-only Premium Club, which features a Balinese beds and new La Scala restaurant. Sandals Resorts ( will open nine over-the-water bungalows at the Sandals Grande St Lucian in May with butler service. Three over-water additions at Sandals South Coast resort in Jamaica include a floating, ocean swim-up bar, over-the-water bar with hammocks and over-the-water wedding chapel. Guests at Turtle Beach (eleganthotels. com), Barbados, can tuck into pumpkin fritters, flying fish cutters and other local delicacies at the Bajan pop-up bar. Elite Island Resorts’ eight Caribbean hotels

“Many destinations have overcome the negative perceptions of all-inclusive’s by ensuring that local crafts people, entertainers, communities have access to resorts. Dining out is strongly recommended, and guests are encouraged to participate in the carnivals, music festivals and sporting activities. CTO’s Year of Adventure in 2017 will encourage visitors to try new experiences. “For travel agents, it’s all down to knowing the Caribbean product and matching the right destination to the needs of their clients. Not all all-inclusives are the same: larger resorts are great for families, smaller properties work well for couples and honeymooners. All-inclusive’s don’t necessarily mean budget conscious either, as hotels and resorts become more creative and competitive in the choices available to guests.” Carol Hay, Director of Marketing UK & Europe, Caribbean Tourism Organization

Where to book it  CLASSIC COLLECTION HOLIDAYS – 0800 294 9323

Seven nights at the Hillside Beach Club, in Fethiye, Turkey, start from £1046pp in May on a full-board plus basis, including return flights from Gatwick and private transfers. � SANDALS – 0800 597 0002

A seven-night stay in the new Over the Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian is from £6,129pp, all-inclusive, with Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick, Butler Elite Service, 24-hour room service and private transfers. Valid May 15 to October 22. 

Clockwise from top left: A Sandals wedding in Jamaica; Palm Island Resort in the Grenadines; a family at Long Bay Beach Club in the British Virgin Islands


Solo Travel - Going it alone -


nce the preserve of soul-searching backpackers and lonely hearts, solo travel has mushroomed in recent years to firmly establish itself on the tourist map as one of the fastest growing trends in travel, says Clare Walsh

ABTA dedicated a section of its Holiday Habits Report 2016 to ‘The emergence of the solo traveller,’ stating that more than one in 10 of us (13%) now choose to go it alone. With a raft of similar studies supporting these findings, it’s clearly a trend to be taken seriously. But why the shift? Millennials are one group that may partly hold the answer. As a generation that waits longer to undertake life stages, such as buying a house or getting married, they have very different goals to their predecessors, valuing travel experiences over possessions. Not surprisingly, 90% of 25 to 34-year-olds interviewed in the report gave the reason behind travelling as ‘the opportunity to do what I want.’ Far from being a last resort, solo travel is now the hottest ticket to independence and self-empowerment. Friendship Travel caters for this market and offer a variety of solo trips for 25-plus with no single supplement. With the aim of its holidays

stated clearly in the name, tour operators are trying to shift perceptions that solo trips are aimed at singles looking for love. Managing Director Colum McLornan says it is important for agents not to generalise this evergrowing sector: “Sun, sea and sand may sound obvious, but most holidays marketed at single travellers are escorted coach tours or special interest holidays. However, the reality is that single people want a ‘normal’ holiday relaxing by the pool or the beach.” With this in mind, the company has added two new Greek options to its summer 2017 programme, including hosted holidays on Skiathos and a floating houseparty on board a gullet boat.

HARNESSING THE TREND Solo travel operators are trying to shift the perception that its holidays are aimd at singles looking for love and capture millennials looking for self-empowerment and friendship

Resorts traditionally aimed at couples and families are also responding to demand. For example, Mirihi Island in the Maldives is introducing solo packages for this summer.




Günther Kofler, Resident Manager at the resort commented: “We were getting more and more enquiries from guests wanting to book a solo holiday and so decided that it was time to open up the Maldives and introduce our solo package from May 20 to August 30 2017.” Single supplements have been removed for this period and a half-board upgrade option and daily yoga sessions have been introduced. That’s not to say special interest holidays aren’t a good reason to opt to take a trip alone. Tour operators catering to solo travellers can enable travellers to tick off epic bucket list destinations or lifelong goals – but in the reassuring presence of a group fronted by a tour guide. With solo travellers now making up around 18% of departures from the UK Asia travel specialist Wendy Wu Tours has removed single supplements on selected tour dates for departures in 2017. 'In Pursuit of Pandas' enables travellers to take in some of China’s most iconic sights, while 'Vietnam at a Glance' takes travellers from Saigon to Hanoi. “We’ve seen an increasing demand from solo travellers who are looking to travel to far-flung destinations and experience what could be clled authentic travel,” said Ben Briggs, Head of Marketing at Wendy Wu Tours. “We have seen a rise in particular amongst mature single female travellers looking to push their own boundaries…often at the cost of leaving their partners at home!”

Single supplements are no longer something that solo travellers are expected to absorb

NEW DESTINATIONS The ABTA report showed that those over the age of 65 are the most likely to holiday alone (18%) and for them ‘travelling to a new destination’ is a key driving force. More than a fifth of Saga customers choose to travel this way and the company has announced that its first new-build cruise ship will have a higher proportion of solo cabins (20%). HF Holidays place the focus of their holidays on social interaction and don’t charge a single supplement. For clients wanting to holiday on home soil, a guided walking trip at Alnmouth, Northumberland costs from £249 for three nights, while a walking holiday in Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight starts at £309. Other reasons for clients wanting to go it alone included ‘taking time out’ – a key motivator for families with older children. The ABTA report suggested that this is a possible reflection of the pressures of a common lifestage of this group, that is caught between bringing up children as well as looking after elderly parents and working full-time. Those wanting to tag some holiday time on to a business trip are further potential solo clients, as are individuals wanting to seek out solace by heading to a yoga retreat or spa. Whatever the reason, the landscape is changing and agents need to be ready and waiting with a raft of suggestions to cater for this demand. 

“We have seen a rise amongst mature single female travellers, many of whom are looking to push their own boundaries often at the cost of leaving their partners at home!” BEN BRIGGS, HEAD OF MARKETING WENDY WU TOURS


RIVIERA TRAVEL – 01283 888 928

Riviera’s Vietnam & Cambodia for Solo Travellers starts from £2,379pp. Over the 15 days the tour travels to Hanoi, Saigon and Angkor, taking in many of Vietnam and Cambodia's iconic sites. The price includes all flights and taxes, transfers, accommodation in four-and fivestar hotels on a B&B basis, some meals and excursions.

For the 2018 season Riviera Travel will be operating a fleet of 12 five-star and 1 four-star superior ships along the iconic rivers of Europe. Our river cruise programme goes from strength to strength with more passengers from the UK now choosing Riviera Travel’s European river cruises than any of our competitors. We are committed to expanding our fleet and our horizons and are delighted to announce the introduction of another brand new five-star ship for 2018, the MS Robert Burns. We will also be taking passengers on a brand new exciting journey from Budapest to the Black Sea.

New for 2018: • Another brand new five-star ship, the MS Robert Burns • Brand new 14 night itinerary - Budapest to the Black Sea - from just £2,599pp • Optional drinks package Included with lunch and dinner: Red, white and rose house wine and the wine recommendations from the menu, draught beer, non-alcoholic beer, soft drinks and juices.

4 nights - £59

7 nights - £99

14 nights - £199

Bulk supplies of our BRAND NEW Cruise Collection brochure are currently being delivered to all independent agents. In addition to our new 2018 River Cruise itineraries it includes for the first time, our entire cruise portfolio for both River and Ocean.

Call our friendly Agency Sales team on:

01283 744307

or visit: Riviera Travel, New Manor, 328 Wetmore Road, Burton on Trent, Staffs, DE14 1SP. ABTA V4744 and ATOL 3430 protected. Prices are based on two people sharing a twin cabin. Additional entrance costs may apply. Prices correct as of 13.04.17. *Drinks included with lunch and dinner: Red, white and rose house wine and the wine recommendations from the menu, draught beer, non-alcoholic beer, soft drinks and juices. Riviera Travel booking terms and conditions apply.


USA: Kentucky


anniversary gems

Known as the Bluegrass State, Kentucky marks 225 years of statehood in 2017 – and it has plenty of experiences to tempt visitors, says Neal Baldwin

Going underground Geology doesn’t get much sexier than at Mammoth Cave National Park. Head underground and explore this vast labyrinth of caverns, intricately decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and eerie crystalline shapes. Guided tours explain the fascinating creation of the caves, while up top visitors can enjoy the lush countryside of Green River Valley, with its sundappled hills and languid waterways.

affair is at its most intense and enduring among the 450 horse farms and stables scattered around Lexington. Set in verdant rolling fields and edged with picturesque white-picket fences, many farms offer pre-bookable tours during which visitors get the chance to see what is involved in breeding the very best thoroughbred racers. The famous Kentucky Derby meeting takes place at Churchill Downs, Louisville, in early May, while near Lexington the beautiful Keeneland Race Course – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – hosts April and October meetings for up-and-coming horses. Families, meanwhile, will love the 1,200-acre Kentucky Horse Park and Dream Chase Farm near Georgetown, where past Kentucky Derby winners take it easy in retirement.

process. The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown provides a fascinating look at America’s whiskey business dating from pre-Colonial days. Exhibits include a confiscated copper still that once belonged to George Washington and various Prohibition-era ‘prescriptions’ made from ‘medicinal spirits’. Each September Bardstown hosts the six-day Kentucky Bourbon Festival, which features sell-out signature tasting events, concerts and lectures.;;

Muhammad Ali: simply the best

A true taste of the state

Horse play a Kentucky tradition A kingdom for a horse? Yes, that kingdom is most likely Kentucky! America’s equestrian love

A staggering 95% of the world’s bourbon is made in the Bluegrass State, so it’s only right that visitors show their respect and visit a distillery or two! Stop off in Bardstown, Lawrenceburg or Lebanon, where there are ample opportunities to tour the distilleries. At the Jim Beam Stillhouse you can even bottle your own, while at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in downtown Louisville characters in period dress explain the making

Legendary heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali was born and raised in Louisville and, as you’d expect, the great man’s legacy is something Kentucky is fiercely proud of. The Muhammad Ali Center lays out his life and achievements as a fighter and humanitarian through exhibits, videos and boxing memorabilia. Alternatively, the Muhammad Ali Childhood Home and Museum offers a glimpse into the boxer’s formative years. This year Louisville will celebrate its most famous son with the ‘I am Ali’ festival, which opens on June 3 – on the one-year anniversary of his death. Spread over six weeks the festival, which is expected to become an annual event, will feature performances from local arts groups and sporting tournaments.;

USA: Kentucky


can enjoy the Shakers traditional way of life with a stay at the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill. The town features the country’s largest private collection of 19th Century buildings, including an inn with authentic Shaker furnishings. Stays offer the chance to enjoy home-cooked Shaker cuisine, get involved in life on the farm, take a guided horseback tour of the countryside, learn about Shaker philosophy or sail the Kentucky River Palisades on a paddlesteamer.

Criminal not to visit Newport

Characterful small towns

Hollywood might have created the impression that America’s mob villains have always operated out of Las Vegas, but Kentucky knows better. The northern outpost town of Newport was the country’s original gambling Mecca – and with it came the inevitable underworld characters, crime and nightspots. Delving back into this dubious world is made fun thanks to a two-hour Gangster Tour – join the wise-guy guides to see the places where the mob made millions, gamblers lost their shirts (and often their lives) and the little town of Newport gave birth to the country’s modern-day gaming industry.

Wherever you go in Kentucky you’re never far from one of its charming and characterful towns. Paducah is one of the finest, having recently been designated the world’s seventh City of Crafts and Folk Art thanks to its long tradition of quilt making. Founded by famous explorer William Clark in 1827, Paducah’s riverfront location has long drawn creative talent and is now home to the national Quilt Museum and a vibrant arts culture. Paducah’s downtown district is packed with artisans including painters, leather workers, jewellery makers and bookbinders. The small town of Berea is similarly artistic. Founded by abolitionists before the American Civil War, Berea's liberal traditions saw it become one of the South's first racial integrated towns, and it was at the heart of the American Arts and Crafts movement.;

Hit all the right notes Western Kentucky is known as the birthplace of bluegrass music. The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro will have a new $16-million home in spring 2018 while nearby Rosine is the birthplace of the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe. For great Country Music tunes, travel US23 – otherwise known as the ‘Kentucky Country Music Highway’ – which wends its way 144 miles in Eastern Kentucky, through towns that gave the world stars like Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle and Billy Ray Cyrus. Stops include the Country Music Highway Museum in Paintsville and the Country Music Hall of Fame in Renfro Valley.

The great outdoors writ large The USA’s great outdoors doesn’t get any greater than in Kentucky: the state has more than 12,000 miles of trails for hikers and bikers, meaning visitors never run out of space to roam. In all, Kentucky has 50 state parks, more than any other U.S. state, covering sites of historical interest, mountains, lakeland and wildlife-packed forests. Standout attractions include Cumberland Falls, otherwise known as the ‘Niagara of the South’. Here, visitors can experience a moonbow, where lunar light sometimes forms a bright white arc at the foot of the falls on a clear night. Red River Gorge is a breathtaking geological treat that is great for camping, hiking and climbing. Anglers will love Dale Hollow State Park, which offers the chance to catch bass, catfish, trout, carp and bream, while the Land Between The Lakes Recreational Area covers over 170,000 acres of forest that’s packed with family-friendly recreational activities. 

Visit a Shaker ‘community’ Back in 1805 a small group of Shakers established the village of Pleasant Hill and their simple farming community thrived. Just over 100 years later the group had died out and its buildings and property passed into private hands. However, these founding father Shakers have not been forgotten. In 1961 an educational trust began restoring the settlement and today visitors


USAIRTOURS – 020 7593 1899

The operator has an eight-night ‘Kentucky Taster’ deal that takes in Lexington, Louisville and Bowling Green as well as Nashville. It includes breakfast at Keeneland racetrack, bourbon tastings and the Muhammed Ali Centre. Prices from £1449pp.

ecuador & galapagos

bounty nature’s

Ecuador’s main draw is the Galapagos Islands, but the South American country’s capital, Quito, its rainforest and national parks are also gaining traction, says Adam Coulter


he Galapagos’ unique appeal is the sometimes unsettling fact that animals seem completely indifferent to our presence. For example, minutes after joining our group for a cruise round the islands on Metropolitan Touring’s Santa Cruz II, I am crouching down, filming a baby sea lion that is not more than three metres away. I crawl over her mother, trying to get her attention, as blue-footed boobies whirl overhead. I can get even closer; I could probably

sit beside both of them even, but there’s a rule that you keep a respectful distance. Our next stop is the island of Fernandina, where marine iguanas are endemic. Just like in a David Attenborough documentary, they are piled high on top of each other on the rocks, sun-bathing and sneezing out sea water onto one another. I sit on a rock with my camera, waiting for one to return to the sea. I catch the whole sequence: the iguana battles against the waves as it


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Latin America closer than ever.


Fly from London Gatwick to Caracas, Bogota, San Pedro Sula, Guayaquil, Salvador de Bahia, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Sao Paulo, Lima, Asuncion, Cordoba, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.










All flights are via Madrid. Cordoba is via Madrid and Asuncion For more information visit us at: or call: 08714230717

ecuador & galapagos

it swims against the current, before making landfall and then crawling onto other iguanas. Wildlife in the Galapagos is all around you at all times, and it’s not just confined to the unpopulated islands. Walking along the main street of Santa Cruz, the capital, I see herons and sea lions at the fish market, the latter stealing scraps of discarded fish, the former begging like dogs for off-cuts. I side-step a family of marine iguanas sunning themselves on the pavement and, as I wait for my panga (small boat) to my hotel, a pelican swoops down and sits on the railing beside me, seemingly totally indifferent to my presence.

Perfectly formed Ecuador is tiny compared to its giant South American neighbours, nestled into the upper left of the continent, below Colombia and beside Peru, with around 2,200 kilometres of largely unspoilt Pacific coastline. Its capital, Quito, is relatively small, with a population of just 1.4 million inhabitants, and manageable for visitors (unlike many South American cities, which can be overwhelming). Quito is a fascinating capital, full of colonial architecture and grand squares; its centre is regarded as the best-preserved historic centre in all of South America and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. But be warned: if you walk any distance you’ll

soon get out of breath – Quito is officially the highest capital city in the world, and it takes a day or two to get acclimatised. It’s also on the Equator, and it’s fun to stand on the northern and the southern hemispheres simultaneously. Ecuador may be small but there’s lot to do: think of it as South America in miniature: beaches, the Amazon, colonial cities, volcanoes and even a ‘cloud forest’ – one of the rarest kinds on earth. The country can be divided into three main areas: the coast, which includes the country’s largest city, Guayaquil and, further north, what remains of Ecuador’s cloud forest. To the east of the capital lies Ecuador’s slice of the Amazon rainforest; and 200 miles south of Quito you’ll find the ‘Avenue of the Volcanoes’, a breathtaking landscape of seven peaks rising to more than 17,000 ft. Further south still is the whitewashed university city of Cuenca, a lovely place to wander at leisure for a couple of days. But it is The Galapagos Islands which draw most people to Ecuador. Lying some 1,000 kms off the coast, the Galapagos are about a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Quito. They are are a true natural wonder of the world, the only place where animals have no fear of humans. The only way to see them is by boat and it’s essential to book ahead as visitor numbers are strictly limited.


“Napo Wildlife Center Eco-lodge in Yasuni National Park combines the lush rainforest landscape with its new panoramic suites from where you can spot snapping caimans, hoatzins (aka stinkbirds) fluttering around, and sometimes even hungry giant otters looking for piranhas or “paiche” in the lagoon” MANUEL PATINO, LATIN TRAILS

Clockwise from top left: Diving with turtles in the Galapagos; Quilotoa lake Ecuador; swimming at Las Grietas on Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos


ecuador & galapagos

Perfect ten

Clockwise from top left: Colonial Quito; begging sea lions in Galapagos; Mashpi Lodge in Ecuador’s cloud forest; Galapagos is home to many unique bird species

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Bright colours: Don’t miss a stopover in Otavalo to enjoy the indigenous market which sells traditional handicrafts and brightly coloured hand-woven textiles. Face to face: Dive with hammerhead sharks off the Galapagos islands of Wolf and Darwin. Crossing the divide: Straddle two hemispheres at once in Quito. Postcards from the edge: Post a letter or a postcard from Post Office Island – and hope it gets delivered to you by hand one day from another traveller. Cloud nine: Take a Gondola through the cloud forest at Mashpi Lodge, three hours from Quito and encompassing 1,200 hectares of the Choco bio-region. Hat trick Visit Cuenca, a colonial gem and the second biggest city in Ecuador, for museums, restaurants and stunning architecture – as well as the iconic Panama hat.

On track: Take a train through the highlands and the Avenue of the Volcanoes to admire spectacular views of valleys and mountains in Machalilla National Park. Shell suit: Take a selfie with a tortoise in the Darwin Scientific Research Park. Night walker: Take a night walk through the cloud forest at Mashpi Lodge – and spot tarantulas. See the locals: Jump in and swim with sea lions in Galapagos.

What’s new  Hotels: Mashpi Lodge ( recently launched a canopy gondola, The Dragonfly, allowing a bird’s eye view of the rainforest. Over the next few months the hotel will also be launching a new spa area, including an outdoor jacuzzi amid the cloud t5forest, as well as a dedicated lab where guests can see resident biologists Carlos and Andrea at work. The hotel is also planning a series of experiences that will see guests getting involved in the scientific research going on at the lodge. Quito has a number of new hotels opening this year including the 146-room Wyndham Grand

19/04/2017 09:11

ecuador & galapagos

Condor (, the first hotel to open at Quito Airport; the 133-room Accor Ibis (, based in the city centre; and the Holiday Inn Quito Airport (, 1.5 kms away from the Mariscal Sucre Airport. The hotel will have 130 rooms, pool, restaurant and a gym.  Cruising: Metropolitan Touring ( has launched a new Choose Wisely brochure, created as a tool for the trade to help their clients when choosing between larger and smaller vessels in the Galapagos Islands.  Operators: Chimu Adventures (chimuadventures. com) has a new tour encompassing the highlights of mainland Ecuador. The 14-day trip starts in Quito and includes Cotopaxi National Park, to hike around the Cotopaxi volcano and visit the Amazonian Rainforest, before ending in the colonial city of Cuenca. It is is priced from £4,640pp, excluding international flights. Tren Crucero ( is launching a new Gold Class, available for booking from September. Gold pass engers will share the same itinerary as The Luxury Experience but enrich their experience in signature accommodation every night along the rails. Each historical property offers a unique insight into the history of Ecuador, from Quito’s colonial, UNESCO World Heritage main square, to historical

haciendas and restored public buildings dating from the cocoa boom in 19th century Guayaquil, all carefully selected for their singular character, attention to detail and excellence in service.

Tourism talk “In 2016, Ecuador increased its efforts to become a leading tourist destination by increasing the number of flights to major cities such as Quito and Guayaquil, developing new tourism infrastructure and promoting the country’s diverse landscape and cultural offering in the UK. “AirEuropa launched a new direct flight from Madrid to Guayaquil in December, joining airlines such


“It’s not all about the Galapagos – suggest your clients explore the interior of the country too: Quito, Cuenca, the cloud forest and the Amazon are all highlights” ADAM COULTER, TRAVEL WRITER

Above: the volcanic beaches and peaks of Bartolomé in the Galapagos archipelago. Left: Ecuadorian colours

For travelers looking for a deeper cultural experience, we are pleased to introduce our newest option: The Gold Class. Enrich every night in signature accommodations along the rails. Located in historical properties: from Quito’s colonial, UNESCO World Heritage main square, to historical haciendas and restored public buildings dating from the cocoa boom in the Guayaquil of XIXth century. For more information about Gold Class, visit us at Untitled-5.indd 1

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ecuador & galapagos

areas and vibrant culture of Ecuador’s mainland such as its exciting capital Quito, Guayaquil, the Mindo Rainforest and the Avenida de los Volcanes.” Tony Mason, CEO, Latin American Travel Association (LATA)

Where to book it  KUONI – 01306 747008 A 10-night Ecuador itinerary, with two nights at Casa Gangotena in Quito, three nights in a Wayra-room at Mashpi Lodge, Mashpi Rainforest Reserve on full board, four nights on the Santa Cruz II on full board and one night at the Hilton, Colon Guayaquil, is from £9666pp, in May 2017, based on two sharing. It includes KLM flights from London to Quito via Amsterdam and transfers.

� JOURNEY LATIN AMERICA – 020 8600 1881 The 10-day Signature Galapagos: Island Hopping is from £4,450pp, including two nights at Casa Gangotena in Quito, three nights at Scalesia Lodge on Isabela Island and four nights at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz Island, domestic and interisland flights, excursions and daily breakfast. International flights priced separately.  LATIN TRAILS – +593 2286 7832

Clockwise from left: the colourful streets of Guayaquil; the blue domes of the cathedral in Cuenca; a giant tortoise

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as LATAM, which operates a number of daily services to Quito and Guayaquil (via Madrid). “The economic situation in Europe combined with the drop of the pound against the dollar and price hikes in countries like Spain has also encouraged travellers to look further afield for their holidays. Google Travel reports a 10% increase in long haul travel this year, a positive sign for Ecuador and the Latin American region as a whole. “Ecuador’s star attraction remains the Galapagos Islands, but travellers are also taking the time to discover the volcanic landscapes, diverse ecological

The six-day/five-night Sea Star Journey departs from San Cristobal. The cruise includes stops at Española Island for relaxing, snorkelling, kayaking and observing sharks, sea lions and seabirds; the historic Post Office Bay on Floreana; Santa Fe Island to meet endemic species such as the Galapagos hawk; Islas Plazas for its unique iguanas and birdlife; and the volcanic North Seymour Island to observe blue-footed boobies. From $7,410pp, based on double occupancy, including flights to and from Quito, all meals, entrance/park fees and meals. 

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country profile

Oman - pristine beauty & preserved culture Famous Forts Oman is known for its forts – you’ll find them all over the country. One of the most recognisable is Nizwa Fort, which has a unique round shape. It is said to date from the 17th century. Arabian Nights Head to the aptly-named Empty Quarter, the world’s largest desert. It lies south of Salalah and captured the imaginations of legendary explorers Lawrence of Arabia and Wilfred Thesiger. Go diving in Musandam Experience some of the best scuba diving in the world at this enclave in the far north of Oman. The 2,000-foot mountains fall into the sea; you could see pristine corals and sharks. Take a hike A three-hour drive from Muscat is the Al Hajar Mountain range, where you can trek through mountain passes, clamber over boulders, cool off in rock pools and swim across cooling rivers. Egg-citing Sea turtles migrate annually from the shores of the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea and Somalia to lay their eggs on Oman’s shores from July to October. See them nesting on the beaches of Ras Al Hadd.


ore than 10,000 kilometres of near pristine coastline, year-round sunshine and just over seven hours’ from the UK, Oman is a great sell, says Adam Coulter The Sultanate of Oman is investing significantly in its tourist offering, with a number of exciting new projects planned. This diverse country, with mountains, canyons, vast deserts and a long – and largely undeveloped – coastline of more than 10,000 kilometres has a lot to offer. It’s the second-largest nation in the region, second to Saudi Arabia and about the size as the UK but with 16 times fewer people. Oman has a long history, evident in its culture and architecture, as well as a strong maritime tradition that it preserves today. For visitors more used to the excesses of its neighbours (Dubai and the UAE lie to the north), Oman provides a refreshing contrast. The Sultanate places a premium on natural pursuits – there is an almost unlimited number of land and sea activities on offer – rather than man-made activities. So, if your clients are looking for some outdoors action, whether that’s dune- or wadi-bashing, trekking, hiking, rock climbing, golf, birding, or water-based activities such as sailing, snorkelling or diving, Oman has it. Tourism projects in the pipeline include a massive theme park complex in Barka in northern Oman, which will include a wildlife attraction, waterpark, equestrian centre and ‘edutainment’ centre. A new waterpark in Salalah, Majarat Oman, is currently being


built in Al Sawadi Beach Resort. With six types of water rides it will be the Sultanate’s biggest indoor theme park; a soft opening is scheduled for later this year. The Sultanate’s first ‘real snow park’, part of the Palm Mall Muscat project, will be a winter-themed amusement park spread over 5,400sqm, pegged to open by the winter. “During 2016, Oman received 137,170 UK visitors and figures for the first quarter of 2017 were very encouraging with arrivals up by 6.5%. We expect this to increase further with the introduction of the new Oman Air flight from Manchester to Muscat on May 1,” said HE Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary for the Ministry of Tourism.


“Oman has a long and deep history, evident in its culture and architecture, as well as a strong maritime tradition that it preserves today” JEBEL AKHDAR

Muscat, the capital, is where your clients will fly or cruise into and likely spend at least a night or two. It’s a modern, bustling city, home to some 800,000 people, but the feel you get is more akin to a North African city, with souks, winding streets and old buildings, especially in Old Muscat. Encourage your client to walk around (Oman is virtually crime-free), in particular along Muttrah Corniche, where they’ll find Muttrah Souq (the old souq), one of the oldest in Oman, dating back around 200



country profile

years. The souk is characterised by its winding alleyways, wooden roofs and the constant and unmistakable smell of frankincense, which grows wild in the south of the country. Elsewhere, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a must-visit along with the National Museum of Oman and the Royal Opera House, which is designed in a traditional style, with wind towers, pointed arch windows and a fort-like appearance.

BEYOND MUSCAT If your client is in Oman for more than a few days, then it’s well worth them venturing beyond Muscat. The must-do excursion is an overnight in the desert. A’Sharqiyah Sands, which is regarded

as one of the most beautiful camping areas in the Sultanate, lies two-and-a-half hours away and has two high-end accommodation options: 1000 Nights Camp and Desert Nights Camp. Further afield, Salalah in the south has a different feel entirely. From June to December the khareef monsoon winds blow in heavy rains that cover the mountains in lush green vegetation. Frankincense trees grow and the area is dotted with ancient villages and trading posts. Some cruise lines also call here. By contrast, the enclave of Musandam – one of the top dive spots in the world – is at the very northern tip of the country and shares a culture and a language more similar to Iran. Fishing is still the main trade, including pearl fishing. 


SCOTT DUNN – 0208 682 5055

The seven-night ‘Family Adventure’ to Oman is from £2,400pp, based on two adults and two kids, with four nights at Shangri-La Barr al Jissah, and one each at Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve, Desert Nights Camp and Alila Jabal Akhdar. Flights and private transfers are included.


IMMERSE YOURSELF IN OMANI HERITAGE AND BEACHFRONT LUXURY. Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara offers refreshing luxury and a gateway to Oman’s cultural treasures. Experience a beachfront oasis that is the first luxury pool villa resort of its kind in Salalah, featuring 40 premier and deluxe rooms, 96 villas, 88 of which have individual pools, three exquisite dining outlets, and Salalah’s first hammam with rasul facilities. Enjoy active fun with court and water sports or delve into authentic local life with desert excursions and activities.


10/04/2017 08:33

Visit usa NeWs maY 2017

T H I S M O N T H ' S T O P S T O R I E S F R O M V I S I T U S A ' S M E M B E R S • V I S I T U S A .O R G .U K Cities

Sarasota has best beach "The 2.4-mile Riverwalk (below) is a great way to get to know Tampa's attractions – it showcases art, culture, dining and adventures" Airlines 3

Norwegian grows u.S. cities

Patrick Harrrison Chief Marketing Officer Visit Tampa Bay

NORWEGIAN'S transatlantic expansion will continue when the airline launches two new routes from Gatwick in September. A service to Denver (pictured), which starts on September 16, will run year-round, operating twice-weekly (on Tuesday and Saturday) during the summer season but increasing to a three-times-weekly operation over the winter, with an additional Thursday departure. From September 17, the low-cost carrier will commence a year-round service to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Four weekly flights will operate, on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Fares for both routes start from £199 and will be serviced by a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which has 344 seats in two cabins, economy and Premium. Norwegian, which also operates out of edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester, flies to Boston, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Los Angeles, New York (JFK) and Oakland.

SIESTA Key Beach, part of Sarasota County on Florida's Gulf Coast, has been named the number one beach in the U.S. by TripAdvisor members. The white-sand beaches are made of 99% quartz crystal – which makes them cooler under foot. hotels

Sheraton miami's all fresh THE Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel has completed a $10 million renovation affecting all 405 guestrooms, lobby, outdoor pool, entryway and the porte cochere. The hotel says it offers a modern tropical resort-like experience. states

Bold brews in Carolina CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, welcomes a new brewery this month. Aside from its craft beers, Bold Miss Brewery will also celebrate 'bold' women throughout history, such as the first female astronaut, Sally Ride, and slavery abolitionist, Harriett Tubman.

THE USA in brief... attraCtioNs


UNIVERSAL Orlando’s third theme park, Volcano Bay, is set to open on May 25. The new water theme park will span 30 ‘immersive’ acres and feature a variety of experiences ranging from 'daring' to 'serene'. Attractions will include a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides and slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below.

MIAMI'S new Museum Park, home to the new Perez Art Museum, Miami Science Museum, and the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science, will open on May 8. The state-of-the-art facility will include an aquarium and a planetarium. Meanwhile Miami Beach’s Bass Museum of Art is scheduled to open in the autumn following a $12 million expansion

airliNes VIRGIN Atlantic has launched the first flights from Manchester to San Francisco, as part of a raft of expanded services from the airport this summer. In addition to the new three-timesweekly San Francisco service, a new route from Manchester to Boston also launched on April 29 and services to New York JFK commence this month (May). Virgin has also taken over joint venture partner Delta's services between Heathrow and Seattle.

Look out for our Visit USA Association online travel update for the pick of members' news

members spotlight introducing...

LAS Vegas-based Maverick Helicopters has a new tour that combines a top culinary experience with a flight over The Strip. The Savory Bites & Neon Lights tour offers guests an exclusive tasting at five prominent Las Vegas restaurants followed by a night flight. The five-hour experience begins at ARIA Resort & Casino and includes up to four signature dishes at each restaurant. After dining guests are transported to Maverick Helicopters’ private terminal for the 15-minute flight. 

SINGAPORE Airlines is operating a fivetimes-weekly service between Singapore and Manchester that continues on to Houston, Texas. The route is operated by an A350 Airbus. The outbound flight departs Singapore at 02.35 and arrives in Manchester at 09.00, before departing at 10.10. It arrives in Houston at 15.30. The return flight departs Houston at 20.15 and arrives in Manchester at 10.05 the following morning.

Grand Canyon Tour and Travel kevin Streit


Heroes line up at Kennedy VISITORS to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida can now relive the stories of NASA’s pioneering astronauts at the new Heroes & Legends attraction. The experience sees them embark on a journey that begins with an exhibit designed to spark thought and discussion about how society defines ‘a hero’. Then, through cutting-edge technology, interactive elements and exhibits, visitors get to know the men and women of America’s fledgling space programme. There's a 4D multisensory theatre while actual artifacts include a Redstone rocket suspended overhead along with the Sigma 7 capsule and a close-up look at the Gemini 9 capsule. The keynote exhibit of Heroes & Legends is the Astronaut Hall of Fame® presented by Boeing, which uses interactive technology to connect guests to each of the nearly 100 astronaut inductees. Located east of Orlando, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is designed to appeal to all age groups.

New W puts more wow into las vegas

tour operators

Seattle as you like it AMERICA As You Like It has a five-night trip to Seattle, priced from £1169pp. The deal includes flights on Virgin, car hire, three nights in Seattle and two nights at the Salish Lodge and Spa. The hotel features in the new Twin Peaks series that is due to return to Sky in May after a 21-year absence. In the series it is called The Great Northern Hotel.

THE W Las Vegas is looking to establish itself as the leading ‘lifestyle hotel’ in Las Vegas after its grand opening. Evoking a sense of past Vegas glamour, the Living Room bar was inspired by casino gaming tables, while intimate seating nooks nod to the hotel’s original mid-century incarnation as ‘The Sahara’ hotel. The hotel features Phillipe Starckdesigned guestrooms.

When did you become a Visit USA member? The company has been a member for 10 years or so. What do you see as the main membership benefits? Networking with fellow partners in the U.S. travel industry, both suppliers and buyers, is the main benefit. Do you get involved in Visit USA's UK activities? We take a table at the Visit USA Ball and support the annual Visit USA Travelplanner. The UK is our number one market and I am over here probably five or six times a year. I am based in Las Vegas but I travel between 175 and 220 days a year. Tell us about Grand Canyon Tour and Travel. Formed 25 years ago by a couple working from their kitchen table, the company now does over $20 million in sales a year. It has its own fleet of buses and 'sprinters'. Last year it moved 150,000 people to the Grand Canyon. We are growing in the UK and other markets such as Australia, China and India. What tours do they offer? The company is best known for its guaranteed departures to both the Grand Canyon's South Rim and West Rim. The South Rim has the national park and the West Wing features the Skywalk, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. Other popular tours include to Red Rock Canyon and the Valley of Fire. The tours are now sold by several UK tour operators.

Subscribe to the Visit USA Association online Travel Update at



Savannah sizzling

Hip, historic and a little eccentric, Savannah’s timeless Southern charm makes it a city with a unique ‘personality’


avannah oozes Southern charm; a city whose quirkiness materializes through its art, period architecture and trendy boutiques; a place where ghost stories are set under a veil of Spanish moss and where local cuisine comes straight from the coast. Ranked one of the ‘World’s 30 Friendliest Cities’ by Condé Nast Traveler readers, this one-off town has a world-class reputation for hospitality and grace.

A city of culture Pleasantly warm temperatures are the backdrop to a range of activities by day and

revelry by night. From music festivals to art exhibits to paddleboarding and kayaking or evenings on the town, there’s plenty to explore in Savannah and the surrounding region. Cath Pusey, Product Director for America As You Like says Savannah is proving increasingly popular with clients looking for a true Southern experience. “They love the history and architecture and one-of-a-kind shops. It is a lively, vibrant city with a great restaurant scene and good nightlife, and is a great place to stroll and just see what’s around the next corner or in the next beautiful square. With its no-rush Southern lifestyle, Savannah it is a very relaxing place to visit.”



“Savannah is an absolute peach of a hip and historic city and the jewel in Georgia’s crown. With streets lined with Oaks draped in Spanish Moss, boutique hotels, an eclectic array of fantastic independent restaurants, breweries and rooftop bars, it really is a city like no other” JO PIANI – DIRECTOR UK & IRELAND VISIT SAVANNAH

Take a step back in time Take a tour through a pre-Civil War era mansion at the Mercer-Williams House, discover the history of railroad manufacturing at the Georgia State Railroad Museum and visit the birthplace of the Girl Scouts of America at the Juliette Gordon Low House. The newly-opened American Prohibition Museum is the first museum in the U.S. dedicated to the story of Prohibition and even features its own speakeasy, serving up traditional Prohibition-era cocktails. Then test your nerve on a haunted ghost tour through Savannah, which has been called ‘America’s most haunted city,’ or take a movie tour to learn about feature films produced around Savannah and nearby Tybee Island. These include the upcoming Baywatch movie starring Zac Efron and The Rock.. Savannah is also famously the setting for John Berendt’s classic, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and visitors can take a tour around the sites detailed in the book and film of the same name.

Discover old-world charm on River Street, bordering the thriving river port. The nineblock brick concourse is home to more than 75 boutiques, galleries, artists’ studios, restaurants and pubs, all housed in one-time cotton warehouses that have been loving restored.

Foodie heaven A batch of new restaurants in Savannah offer a trendy take on classic cuisine. Hot spots like The Grey, The Florence, Cotton & Rye, The Collins Quarter, Pacci Italian Kitchen + Bar and The Wyld Dock Bar focus on fresh, locally sourced, coastal dishes with a refreshingly modern Southern spin. Or combine history and dining at The Olde Pink House, built by one of the city’s founding families in the 1700s, before strolling across one of the city’s many squares for an ice cream and original 1930s décor at Leopold’s Ice Cream. Relaxed and laid back Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the 30-acre Forsyth Park. The cast-iron Forsyth

Park Fountain was built to resemble the grand fountain in Paris at the Place de la Concorde. The park also has monuments to the Confederate Soldier, the Marine Corps Monument and the Fragrant Garden for the Blind.

Boutique and hip hotels Savannah has an accommodation option to fit any preference. Book a beach bungalow or a vacation rental loft overlooking Broughton Street. Modern, boutique hotels and classic inns are plentiful, while the retro-style Thunderbird Inn, converted from a 1960s roadside motel, is perhaps the hippest hotel in town. Bucket list city Jo Piani, Director UK & Ireland, Visit Savannah said: “Visitors are never short of things to do thanks to Savannah’s cool art scene, an abundance of festivals and historic attractions. It really is a one-of-a-kind ‘bucket list’ city where you will experience good old-fashioned Southern hospitality and a laid back vibe.” Plan your trip at today!


usa: capital region

venture capital


Hip cities, dazzling beaches, stunning wilderness and a whole lotta history: the Capital Region U.S.A. delivers a holiday clients will never forget, says Lauren Jarvis

usa: capital region


Enjoy the journey While mountains with a blueish hue and bears are top draws for me, there’s plenty more to explore in the Capital Region U.S.A., with the diverse states of Maryland and Virginia stretching along the shores of Chesapeake Bay and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., sitting elegantly at its heart. And getting there is often just as much fun as the destination. “The journeys are all part of the experience in the Capital Region,” says Cath Pusey, Product Director at U.S. holiday specialist, America As You Like It. “It’s perfect for a fly-drive, but also great for an RV holiday or motorcycle tour, with plenty of backroads and National Scenic Byways. You can also travel by train, or combine Washington and Baltimore with


ountry roads, take me home, to the other east-coast cities such as Philadelphia, place I beloooooong!” There’s something New York and Boston, either by rail or air.” about driving in the U.S. that cries out Many kick off their trip in the now-hip city for a soundtrack, no matter how brief or distant of Baltimore, or fly straight to Washington the journey. This one is 105 miles long – and to discover iconic monuments like the White likely feels lengthier for my wingman, gallantly House and Michelin-star restaurants (last year suffering my mangling of this country classic, D.C. became the fourth city in the U.S. to be as we wind our way along the Skyline Drive given a Michelin Guide, joining San Francisco, in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. Chicago and New York), and the prestigious But it has to be done. Since I was a kid, the Smithsonian Institution, home to some of the Blue Ridge Mountains have risen majestically in best museums and galleries in the world. my imagination, above the mystical Shenandoah “The neighbouring states of Maryland and River, calling me to them in 1970s songs Virginia have just as much charm and heritage from John Denver to Dolly Parton, until – as the capital,” says Tim Greathead, U.S.A. sometime in my forties – I finally arrive here. Product Executive at Premier Holidays, which And how perfectly blue they are. As the sun offers tailor-made holidays in the Capital Region. rises to spin its gold over the chestnut, maple “Fascinating Civil War trails and and red-oak forests that cover the ridge, the historic towns like Jamestown and legendary mountains emerge in a haze of indigo Williamsburg in Virginia are a must.” waves, rolling timelessly out to the horizon. Both states also boast miles of beautiful sandy The Cherokee referred to their mountain beaches, and exciting opportunities for outdoor homeland as ‘Shaconage’, or ‘Land of the Blue adventures, with national parks to hike and Smoke’, poetically bike, plus the mighty capturing the scientific Shenandoah, Po-tomac “With 41 hop-on, hop-off stops and James rivers effect of hydrocarbons being released from the on its All Loops Tour, the two- which offer a range of trees, cloaking them in day City Sights bus pass is a pursuits, from standtheir mazarine mist. great way to see Washington’s up paddle-boarding to Driving the Skyline whitewater kayaking. major landmarks and we stop to stomp the “The food and wine monuments” Appalachian Trail, are a big highlight for climb cascading me, too,” says Cath Pusey. ROSS SINCLAIR, SENIOR PRODUCT MANAGER, USA, CARIBBEAN AND CANADA, TRAVEL 2 waterfalls, picnic in “From excellent farmthe fores, and gaze to-table restaurants, to amazed at berry-munching black bears. cool pop-up eateries and roadside diners, there’s At night, we sink sundowners at Skyland certainly plenty to fuel your holiday activities!” Lodge and head to the wide-open space of Perfect ten Big Meadows, where we’re awed and humbled On a roll: Join a Bike And Roll Monuments by Shenandoah’s vast, sparkling skies. @ Night Bike Tour and pedal around Back in the bar, a musician softly Washington’s most famous monuments, stunningly sings a familiar song about country lit after dark ( roads, rivers and mountains, and Shenandoah begins to feel like home.

Main picture: Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Above: road tripping down the Blue Ridge Parkway



usa: capital region

Hit the trail: The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests stretch along Virginia’s wildly beautiful Appalachian Mountains, offering hiking, horse-riding, biking and camping adventures ( Say cheers: Explore Maryland via one of the state’s seven wine trails – from Civil War sites in the Antietam Highlands, to beautiful beaches on the Eastern Shore (

What’s new


 Washington, D.C: Phase One of The Wharf (, a $2-billion development, opens

From top: Washington D.C’s Capitol Building; Mimslyn Inn’s White Oak Cottage, Virginia; Luray Caverns, Virginia

along the Southwest Waterfront in October. It includes The Wharf InterContinental, Canopy by Hilton and Hyatt House hotels; 15-plus eateries and two new music venues: the 6,000-capacity Anthem and 300-person Pearl Street Warehouse. The 226-room Darcy Washington D.C., Curio Collection by Hilton (curiocollection3.hilton. com) opened in April near Dupont Circle. Located in a converted neoclassical church in Adam’s Morgan, newly opened The Line ( offers 220 boutique rooms, Drift away: Nothing beats a gentle three eclectic restaurants and two cool bars. canoe, kayak, raft or tube ride along Fairmont Washington, D.C. ( Washington) in Georgetown unveiled the results Virginia’s stunning Shenandoah River. Stop for a of a $27-million renovation in January. cooling dip along the way ( Stars and stripes: Travel back into U.S. The Smithsonian Institution’s ( Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian art will history at Maryland’s Fort McHenry, the coastal garrison that inspired the immortal lines reopen after refurbishment in October. May 29 marks what would have been the of The Star-Spangled Banner ( Go deep: Explore the magical 100th birthday of President John F. Kennedy, underground world of Virginia’s Luray and Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for Caverns to see towering the Performing Arts ( will stone columns, cathedral-sized caves, “Encourage visitors to venture be commerating with a series of events. crystal pools and even a away from the region’s The Smithsonian musical ‘Stalac-pipe culture-rich colonial cities American Art Museum Organ’ ( to discover the solitude of Eternal flame: ( will also Walk the host a special exhibition, Shenandoah National Park immaculate grounds and American Visionary: and natural beauty of pay your respects to the John F. Kennedy’s Chesapeake Bay” fallen, including U.S. Life and Times. TIM GREATHEAD, USA PRODUCT EXECUTIVE, President John F. The Smithsonian PREMIER HOLIDAYS Kennedy, at Arlington National Museum of National Cemetery near African American History Washington ( and Culture ( opened last September. Going on a bear hunt: Take the  Virginia: The Autograph Collection’s newly 105-mile Skyline Drive through Virginia’s renovated Cavalier Hotel ( in Virginia has 85 luxury rooms and suites. Shenandoah National Park and look for black Creative Boutique Hotels and Cornerstone bears, bobcats and deer ( Stop press: D.C.’s interactive Newseum Hospitality ( will allows visitors to delve into the big news open two new historic boutique properties stories of the past and explore the importance in 2017: The Sessions Hotel in Bristol and of upholding press freedoms today ( the Western Front Hotel in St. Paul. Hip Baltimore: Wander Baltimore’s Virginia Tourism Corporation (virginia. org/lgbt) has launched a new section on historic-yet-hip Fell’s Point waterfront its web-site for LGBT travellers. district to see 18th- and 19th-century homes Simon Shopping Destinations ( and indulge in contemporary Chesapeake Bay will open the new Norfolk Premium Outlets cuisine (


retail centre in Norfolk in June 2017. Where to book it Special events are taking place throughout 2017  AMERICA AS YOU LIKE IT – 020 8742 8299 to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the influential Stay two nights at the Kimpton Mason & Rook Hotel, Washington; two nights at the Hotel RL, Bristol Sessions recordings in the ‘Birthplace Baltimore; one night at the Skyland Resort, of Country Music’ ( Dirty Dancing is 30 in August.Filmed on location Shenandoah National Park; and two nights at Mountain Lake Lodge ( in the Blue at the Mimslyn Inn, Luray, from £1,379pp, Ridge Mountains, the resort is offering themed including return flights from Heathrow to weekends, including a tour of ‘Baby’s cabin’. Washington with United Airlines and car hire.  Maryland: Luxury boutique Sagamore hotel  TITAN TRAVEL – 0800 988 5800 The Pendry ( opened in early 2017 on the historic Fell’s Point Recreational Pier. It has The 14-day Visions of Virginia escorted tour visits Shenandoah National Park and 128 guest rooms, a harbour-view pool and spa. Washington and costs from £2,499p, including The 150-room Delta Hotel by Marriott ( recently opened in a historic 1904 Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow to building at Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Washington, 12 nights’ accommodation Clarksburg Premium Outlets (premiumoutlets. and Titan’s VIP Home Departure Service. com) has opened in Montgomery County, 50  NORTH AMERICA miles west of Baltimore, TRAVEL SERVICE with over 90 stores and “Start your holiday in – 0333 323 9033 daily retail savings. With three nights at Charm City Helicopters Washington, D.C. or ( now offer Baltimore and collect your Hotel Rouge, Washington, tours of Baltimore, Fort car when you leave the city two nights at Skyland McHenry and Oriole Resort, Shenandoah to save on rental and Park from the air, plus National Park and two parking costs” special celebration flights nights at Hotel Monaco, MAGGI SMIT, MANAGING DIRECTOR, on New Year’s Eve. Baltimore, this fly-drive AMERICA AS YOU LIKE IT costs from £1,325pp, Tourism talk with British Airways “Around 275,000 UK visitors head to the flights and Alamo Gold car hire. Capital Region U.S.A. each year, staying  GREAT RAIL JOURNEYS – 0800 240 4470 for an average of eight nights. It’s too Book before June 2 and save £200pp on early to tell how Brexit and the so-called ‘Trump 2018 departures of the America’s Founding Slump’ will affect 2017 visitor numbers, but we’re History journey. The 12-day tour, with prices hopeful that the region’s appeal will remain from £3,095pp, includes guided tours of strong. Gettysburg and Washington. “From the iconic monuments and museums  TRAVEL 2 – 0800 0224 302 of Washington, D.C., to the small-town Book a Colonial America self-drive from treasures, historical sites, beautiful beaches £1,179pp and enjoy nine nights’ accommodation, and majestic mountains of Virginia and return flights from London to Washington Maryland, the region really does have with United Airlines and car hire.  something to offer every type of traveller. “Fly drives are the most popular form of holiday here, with most choosing to start in D.C. before heading out to Shenandoah National Park, Charlottesville, Richmond, Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and then up through Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Annapolis and Baltimore. “This year we’ll continue our commitment to assisting the travel trade in developing product and conducting training, as they’re the most valuable partner in our future growth.” Lisa Chamberlain, Director, UK & Left, from top: Baltimore; Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington Ireland, Capital D.C; The White House; Abraham Lincoln statue. Above: StandRegion U.S.A. up paddleboarding is popular across the region CAPITAL REGION USA




usa: capital region



Scottsdale – Arizona's desert jewel –


peeding through McDowell Mountain Regional Park, the tyres on my high-performance mountain bike spin through pockets of loose sand before reconnecting with the hardpack trail, writes Steve Hartridge. It is a crystal-clear December morning, the sun burning my eyes as a series of inclines start to sting my lungs. I had assumed that deserts are flat, but as we climb higher the wondrous views make the thigh-burn worthwhile: miles of desert brush dominated by giant saguaros, that signature cactus of many a Spaghetti Western, and random piles of chromatic-grey ancient rocks and boulders stretch to the horizon. Attempting to keep up with my guide from Arizona Outback Adventures, I recklessly shift through the gears, just staying in control as I zip past barrel cactus and prickly pears. Up ahead, a jackrabbit scurries off the single track and disappears into a blaze of Mexican gold poppies. If I lived in Scottsdale I would be up here every weekend, mountain biking, hiking or just strolling in a desert that sprawls over 100,000 square miles, through Arizona, California and northern Mexico. This unique outdoor playground, which begins where the city limits of Scottsdale end, is one of four major deserts of North America, but the lushest, supporting over 3,500 species of plants.

Top: Sanctuary Camelback Mountain, a four-star resort located in a breathtaking setting; above: a stop from cycling in front of a giant saguaro, a signature cactus found only in the Sonoran Desert

OLD AND NEW SCOTTSDALE Although its city borders merge seamlessly with those of neighbouring Phoenix and blend into others like Mesa, Carefree and Paradise Valley, Scottsdale has carved a niche for itself as a city with a ready identity of its own. Surrounded by desert and mountains, it has become known for its five-star resorts that often come with a luxury spa and a championship golf course. Book a visit in the broiling summer months (June-August) and you’ll get these topnotch accommodations and facilities for a snip. However, once you step beyond resorts like The Phoenician, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and the Four Seasons, Scottsdale is full of surprises. Start by wandering around Old Town Scottsdale, a few Western-tinged blocks with 1920s buildings and 19th-century olive trees. This is the place for shopping – everything from fine artworks to rattlesnake-skin cowboy boots to $2.99 fridge magnets – dining, gastropubs, art galleries and nightlife. Then walk the new downtown wine-tasting route that showcases the state’s blossoming wine-making industry. After a slow start, Arizona’s wines are now picking up awards at major international

wine shows and visitors can sample some of these at four wine-tasting rooms. At LDV Winery we enjoy Rhone-varietal wines and a crisp Voignier grown in the estate’s vineyard in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. A short walk takes us to Carlson Creek Tasting Room, housed in a former art gallery, for glasses of its signature Riesling, Grenache and Pinot Noirs. Later we try some of the inventive new bars that have sprung up in Scottsdale in recent times. At Counter Intuitive, only open on Friday and Saturday nights, we are served an array of what can only be described as experimental cocktails – although oddly they all taste the same to me. Those who prefer a more traditional pub, serving familiar beers, craft ales and live music in the afternoon, will prefer the popular Rusty Spur Saloon or Craft 64, with its selection of local craft beers and wood-fired pizzas. Scottsdale has assumed the tag of the Foodie capital of the Southwest, winning a host of accolades from the likes of Wine the James Beard Esquire, Food & Wine, Foundation and AAA. Trend-setting eateries include The Mission, Cowboy Ciao, Malee’s Thai Bistro, AZ88, Su Vino Winery and many others. Or for chicken tortilla soup, Brussels sprout nachos and coconut lemongrass ceviche, try Diego Pops in Old Town. Suggest to foodies that they sign up to an Arizona Food Tour (




Scottsdale’s Museum of the West  Hotels: Hyatt’s Andaz Scottsdale Resort & ( opened in 2015 and quickly Spa ( opened earlier this became a certified Smithsonian Affiliate museum. year, a short distance from Old Town Scottsdale. Bright and breezy, it celebrates the history, art Its 201 guestrooms and suites are overlooked by and culture of this area of the American West, as Camelback Mountain. The bright colours, folk art well as the stories – many tragic – of some of the and cultural patterns incorporated into the resort’s individuals who helped shape that history. Learn architecture and design pay homage to modern also about the conflicts of the American West and art movement artists like Frank Lloyd Wright and the extinction of the American bison. Paolo Soleri, who famously took inspiration from The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art the desert landscape. ( is one of the southwest USA’s most The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch ( is progressive modern art now looking to attract museums. It features five international visitors after galleries of revolving “British Airways is increasing completing a $10-million exhibitions with works its summer service to Arizona transformation. First by local, national and international artists, and in 2017, adding a second flight opened 40 years ago as Scottsdale's first resort, an outdoor sculpture three days a week between the property is now a AAA garden. Heathrow and Phoenix Sky Four Diamond resort with There are numerous Harbor International Airport” revamped guestrooms, hiking options in two new restaurants, a the Scottsdale area, new lobby bar, a new pool including Camelback and two championship golf courses. Mountain and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. �Golf: Scottsdale and its neighbours are Or sign up for a hot-air balloon flight, horsehardly short of great golf courses. Home of the riding or a desert jeep tour. You can even head out into the desert to learn how to shoot a pistol annual professional tournament, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, favourites among or high-powered rifle. UK golfers include Troon North, Greyhawk, Before that evening flight back to the UK, Boulders and Sunridge Canyon. enjoy brunch at the Sanctuary at Camelback Scottsdale's newest course, Mountain Shadows Mountain ( a AAA Four (, opened earlier this year in Diamond resort that sits in the foothills of Paradise Valley. The reshaped 18-hole course Camelback Mountain. is now comprised entirely of par-three holes. It hopes to appeal to golfers with limited time on their hands – you can race round in around two hours. Green fees start at $75. The course is part of the new 183-room Marriott Mountain Shadows resort, which has emerged on the site of a resort that first opened in 1959 and attracted guests such as Bob Hope, Liz Taylor and John Wayne.  Attractions: The desert might not seem the obvious place to see marine life but the OdySea Aquarium, which was opened last September by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, introduces visitors to over 30,000 sea creatures through floor-to-ceiling windows and underwater acrylic tunnels. SeaTREK is an underwater programme that sees guests descend in the water to meet marine life face-to-face. The aquarium is situated in the OdySea in the Desert complex, Top: Old Town Scottsdale retains an historic Western feel; opposite: Mountain Shadows is a newly-opened golf course home to other family-friendly attractions like consisting of 18 par 3 holes; above: the new Hyatt Andaz Resort and Spa Butterfly Wonderland. 


PREMIER HOLIDAYS – 08444 937 666

A seven-night holiday to Scottsdale starts from £1,8999pp, with accommodation at the four-star Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa. The resort features 27 holes of golf. The deal, based on two sharing, includes flights from H eathrow and car hire and is valid for dates in June 2017.


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D E S T I N A T I O N C A N A D A I N B R I G H T O N : Agents enjoy a fun, informative night


P R E M I E R’S N E W L U X U RY CO L L E CT I O N New cruise-and-stay options GET ONLINE


W I N A C O O K I N G C LA S S With Luxury Gold


CHECKING OUT Casa Del Mar, Langkawi




the review

Tourism Update

Premier’s luxury cruises

Longitude 131° shut

TravelMedia ( to

LUXURY Australian resort Longitude 131° is closed until August 1 as it completes a multi-million-dollar upgrade programme. New developments will include a premium suite called the Dune Pavilion, positioned discreetly away from the existing pavilions. With expansive glass walls, exterior decks, separate living and sleeping areas and a private plunge pool, the pavilion will be the first to offer views of both Uluru and nearby Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) There will also be a new dune-top bar offering sweeping views of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and the surrounding Northern Territory desert landscape.

book your place.

CAROL HAY UK Manager, Caribbean Tourism Organization

WE ARE OUT & ABOUT WATCH out because the Caribbean Tourism Organization will soon be hitting the road on its tour around the UK & Ireland! And our Caribbean Roadshows, sponsored by Selling Travel, could be coming to a city near you! Come and meet and network with Caribbean destinations and suppliers and enjoy some warm Caribbean hospitality. Our first stop is Ireland, from May 9-11, visiting Belfast, Dublin and Cork. If you still haven’t registered, then what are you waiting for? Please contact Michelle Ryan,

Next up is Scotland, from May 22-23. The CTO and its partners will hold Caribbean Roadshows at the following locations: The


Principal Edinburgh, 19-21 George Street

PREMIER Holidays has introduced cruising itineraries to its programme of top-end holidays. The 2017 Luxury Collection brochure showcases a selection of upmarket properties in spectacular locations and features four cruiseand-stay packages, with Silversea Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, that offer clients the opportunity to stay in a destination both before and after a cruise. Itineraries include a seven-night Singapore to Bali cruise, with two nights at the Shangri-La Singapore before the voyage, followed by five nights at the Grand Hyatt Bali postcruise. It is priced from £3,399pp. A number of new hotels also feature in the collection including two in Thailand: the beachfront

(May 22) and Glasgow’s Grand Central Hotel, 99 Gordon Street (May 23). The places are filling up so if you haven’t registered yet go onto: html or RSVP at,

for more on these events. WHO’S FEELING LUCKY? The Caribbean Tourism Organization is offering a ticket to its popular Caribbean Ball for two lucky agents. This event will take place on Thursday June 29 at the Royal Garden Hotel, London, and will include a cocktail reception, threecourse meal and dancing. To be in with a chance of joining us on the night you must make and log your Caribbean bookings on before Sunday June 4 2017. Terms and Conditions apply.

Melati Beach Resort and Spa in Koh Samui and the JW Marriott in Khao Lak. In the Indian Ocean, the operator has added the five-star deluxe Constance Lemuria, which has suites and villas hugging the lush hillside of the Seychelles’ Anse Kerlan, with prices from £2,199pp for a sevennight holiday in a junior suite including breakfast, plus return flights and private transfers. Also new for 2017 is the Taj Exotica Resort and Spa in the Maldives, the Fusion Maia Da Nang in Vietnam and the stylish Chedi Muscat in Oman. Travel agents can benefit from Premier Holidays’ agent incentive, earning £25-£150 for every inclusive luxury booking made, dependent on the booking value.

Celebrity has edge A DEDICATED training hub for Celebrity Cruise’s upcoming ship Celebrity Edge has been added to the Cruising for Excellence Online agent e-learning resource. The new Celebrity Edge Hub includes a training module dedicated to the new ship’s innovations, with video content agents can share with customers, along with practical selling tips and other information. Celebrity’s trade sales team will be supporting agents on sales visits and promoting new content on Facebook.

Further details can be found at or by contacting




abrooks@ Or call 020 8948 0057.

Caribbean Tourism Organization 22 The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 1BP Tel: 020 8948 0057 Fax: 020 8948 0067

NEWS TO USE IN BRIEF New Intaterra property: Located in

Canada wants agents: Destination

Cook Vietnamese. Luxury Gold, by

Tampobata National Reserve in the

Canada is seeking 60 UK travel agents

Insight Vacations, is giving agents the

Peruvian Amazon, the Inkaterra Guides

to join its Mega Fam this autumn.

chance to win a Vietnamese street food

Field Station has a restaurant serving

Eleven separte trips will fan out across

class with the Jamie Oliver Cookery

local delicacies and an Eco Centre

the country before all the agents will

School. To enter, agents must book one

educating on flora and fauna. Guests can

gather in Toronto for a party finale. To

of its Luxury Gold Indochina trips

explore the rainforest and participate in

be eligible, agents must complete the

(which currently come with free flights)

conservation projects such as working

revamped Canada Specialist online

before May 31 and email the details to

with local communities at the Gamitana

training and;

Model Farm.

before June 30.

register for the fam









the review

Ferrari Land drives into Barcelona FERRARI Land has opened at Port Aventura, Barcelona. Designed to recreate the ‘true excitement of the Ferrari legend’, the 100-million-euro 70,000 sq. metre theme park includes 11 attractions aimed at the family. These include Europe’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster, Red Force, which sees riders accelerating from 0 to 112 mph in five seconds and reaching a height of 112 meters, plus a racetrack designed specifically for children. Red Force is emblazoned with Ferrari’s iconic Prancing Horse Logo, and the 55-metre freefall Thrill Towers now dominates the surrounding skyline. Elsewhere in Ferrari Land, wheel change challenges and semi-professional simulators are designed to put visitors close to the heart of the Formula One experience.

Agents explore Canada

ABTA’s Brexit aims ABTA has released a report setting out the travel industry’s priorities for Brexit negotiations. Making a Success of Brexit for Travel and Tourism asks the Government to focus on five central points during the Brexit negotiations: maintaining our ability to travel freely within Europe and beyond; keeping visa-free travel between the UK and the EU; protecting consumer rights; giving UK businesses operational stability; and seizing all opportunities for growth.

Global helps agents


OV E R 100 agents attended Destination Canada’s Keep Exploring Quiz at the Sussex Country Cricket Ground in Brighton in late April. The event gave agents the chance to meet with 18 destination partners, network with industry peers and take part in a fun Canada quiz – with a trip to Canada the top prize. Ottawa Tourism’s Luisa Uruena said: “This event is a great opportunity to talk to so many agents under the same roof.” Adam Hanmer, Travel Trade Manager, Destination Canada said: “It’s great to come out en masse as Team Canada with our destination partners to meet with

so many agents a chance and also have a fun night.” Beth Judson, Manager of Flight Centre, Western Road branch Brighton, added: “We received a lot of really useful, relevant information that we will definitely use. It’s good to learn about new and lesserknown destinations for second- and third-time visitors to Canada.” The night’s top prize was won by Roseanne Buckler from Trailfinders. It included Business Class flights with British Airways, four nights in Vancouver with Fairmont Hotels, Gold Leaf on the Rocky Mountaineer and four nights with Fairmont in the Canadian Rockies.

GLOBAL Travel Group has expanded its range of member services to help agents. The travel consortium is now allowing agents to brand every page of its quarterly travel/ lifestyle magazine, Beyond, with their name, logo and website and add personalised calls to action. A newly-launched online branch directory, linked to from all offers posted across The Global Travel Group’s social media channels, will also give agents greater visibility and agents can also access a new online member forum, The Horizon. Intended for seeking advice and accessing information, it includes a private messaging system.


Florida is going for gold

Weekly updates straight to your inbox! BY LAURA GELDER

Subscribe to Selling Travel Digital today and receive your weekly quick read features, news round-up, incentives and more!

w Ne eb w si te

GOLD Medal’s 2018 Florida brochure was launched earlier than previously to allow agents to book further ahead than the usual 11-month window. Agents booking with Gold Medal are also able to guarantee prices for their customers on Florida packages flying with Virgin Atlantic from Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow, including peak booking periods and school holidays. The 68-page brochure includes two ‘new’ destinations, Palm Beach and New Smyrna Beach, as well as popular spots from Orlando to the Florida Keys. The launch coincides with Walt Disney World Resort’s ‘Free Disney Dining’ promotion, meaning guests staying in certain resort hotels with pre-booked park tickets dine for free throughout their stay.

The trade-only specialist has created a pack of supporting sales materials for its ‘Funshine Florida’ campaign. These include window posters, e-shots, social media offers and point-of-sale collateral plus a 24-page mini-brochure which showcases all the tactical promotions, from free nights and room upgrades to reduced rates. Agents can enter a draw to win a holiday for two by booking a Florida package including flights and at least three nights’ accommodation, between April 6 and June 30, and emailing the booking reference to The prize includes return flights, car hire, Walt Disney World Resort and SeaWorld Park and Attractions tickets, and £1,200 towards accommodation.

NEWS TO USE IN BRIEF Inghams Academy now live. The ski operator’s


Indian Ocean on rise for BA. British


Airways is to increase the frequency

portal covers its ski, lakes and

of its flights from Gatwick to

mountains and tailor-made Italy

Mauritius for winter 2017-18 season,

products. It builds knowledge via

adding two extra weekly flights to

video and interactive courses. Agents

bring the total to five a week. The

who complete the three modules in

flights will operate on Mondays,

the first six months enter a monthly

Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays

prize draw to win a holiday to Austria,

and Sundays .

an iPad and more. /subscribe

the review

Walk Corsican places CO R S I CA N Places has expanded its walking holidays to include a seven-night tour of the villages of la Balagne. The tour is centred around the north-west corner of Corsica, encompassing Calvi, L’Ile Rousse (pictured) and the region’s smaller villages. Flights are from Stansted or Manchester into Calvi. The trip includes a train ride to Algajola, a walk from L’Ile Rousse to Santa Reperata and Monticello and various other circular walks. The week, which ends in Calvi, is priced from £1049pp (May departure), and includes B&B at three- or four-starhotels, flights and transfers. Training on Corsican places is available via Equator Learning.;


, Tour Operator Update

Norwegian’s new level

RICHARD FORDE, Head of Trade Sales, Newmarket Holidays

SOUTH Sea Cruises, a Fijibased company offering day cruises and island resort transfers, has announced the launch of a new island day retreat – Malamala Beach Club. Scheduled to welcome its first guests in mid-2017, Fiji’s first island beach club is accessible by private jetty and offers contemporary style, fine cuisine, a bar and a large infinity-edge pool. Activities available to guests include snorkelling on the surrounding reef, complimentary non-motorised water sports or just chilling in one of the private cabanas.

WHAT’S new at Newmarket? We are an established company of 34 years’ standing, but things are still constantly changing. We moved to new bigger offices last year and this summer will welcome a new website, back-office system and more user-friendly agent site. What is your best-selling product at the moment? For short haul it is resortbased stays at Lake Garda while for long haul it is our Elvis Presley’s Memphis and New Orleans tour. Are there any up-andcoming destinations, tours or product agents should watch out for? Lapland continues to grow from being a niche product to a must do. Sales now happen all year round not just in the autumn and winter. Why should agents use Newmarket? We have a huge range of holidays, all at great value, which makes us a onestop shop for all touring, sporting events, concerts and river cruising. The fact we fly from 29 regional airports, from Inverness to Newquay, and have nearly 400 coach pickups nationwide, means everyone is covered. Also, we only ever sell at one price, so we have price parity across all our distribution channels. How can agents learn more about/sell more Newmarket? Three ways: ask one of our fivestrong field sales team to pay them a visit (they might even bring cookies); complete our online training at (and win prizes!); and follow Newmarket on Facebook to find out about all our latest incentives, offers and best sellers.




during meals, a free bottle of water per

passengers can now experience the

person per day in staterooms and

extra benefits of a Premium All


Inclusive cruise – which gives agents




the chance to earn more commission. Premium




Inclusive, several

already European




Additional benefits and privileges are available for guests staying in Suites and in The Haven by Norwegian.

markets, is available across the line’s

Nick Wilson, the line’s Senior Director

14 ships and guests booking the new

and General Manager, Northern Europe

level of service benefit from a selection

& MEA, said: The launch of Premium All

of extras included in the price, including

Inclusive is a game-changer and offers

premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic

a wealth of opportunity for travel

drinks, Lavazza coffee specialities




UK TRAVEL AGENT ROADSHOWS 2017 ROADSHOW LOCATIONS 22nd May - Edinburgh Venue: The Principal Edinburgh 19-21 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2PB 23rd May - Glasgow Venue: The Grand Central Hotel 99 Gordon Street, Glasgow, G1 3SF 14th June - London 15th June - Bristol 13th September - Manchester 14th September - Peterborough Join the Caribbean Tourism Organization and partners for an informative evening of networking, fun and a chance to win some great prizes. We kick off the events at 6.00pm and close at 9.30pm.

FOR FURTHER DETAILS AND RSVP Email: Call: 020 8948 0057 Or register now at: MEDIA SPONSOR: PARTNERS:

the review

Checking out...


S T A Y : C A SA DE L M AR – Langkawi, Malaysia T H E V E R D I CT


THE BACKGROUND: The Casa del Mar

is a four-star Mediterranean-style hotel which has a nice homely feel to it. The 34-room/suite terracotta-coloured property is perfect for those wanting to relax and be thoroughly taken care of. THE LOCATION: Perfectly positioned at the quieter end of the beautiful Pentai Cenang Beach and just a 10-minute car trip from Langkawi International Airport. THE ROOM: We stayed in Seaview Studio Suite, which had a two-metrewide bed, 42” wide-screen TV, iPod docking station and a Nespresso coffee machine, plus the expected mini-bar, in-room safe, etc. The décor was very neutral with splashes of deep rich blues for the couch and soft furnishings. We also had a small private garden with a comfortable seating area which overlooked the inviting outdoor pool and stunning beach. KEY FACILITIES: A visit to the Satkara Spa is a must if you want to be

A little bit of paradise that deserves to be rated fivestar! Small touches such as jugs of iced water, fresh fruit lollies and cold flannels brought to your sun lounger throughout the day are just a few of the things that make you feel thoroughly spoilt by the ever-attentive staff. If you want to relax in a

pampered but do book in advance as it’s one of the best on the island! The hotel can organise kayaking tours of the mangroves, private island-hopping boat cruises and other sports like jet skiing and banana boating along Pentai Cenang Beach. RESTAURANTS/BARS: The La Sal Restaurant and bar has a mouth-watering selection of modern Western and Asian cuisine plus an endless cocktail menu!

It offers a patio or weather-dependent beach dining experience. Food lovers may want to take advantage of La Luna’s fine-dining seven-course meal option in a beach setting, while those looking for a romantic atmosphere can book a castaway picnic.

beautiful beach setting

Jalan Pantai Cenang Mukim Kedawang 07000

1,131 (£200 per night incl.

Langkawi Kedah Darul Aman Malaysia

of breakfast).

with uninterrupted views of the calming ocean then this is the place to stay. RATES: Casa Seaview Studio Suite from MYR

  +60 4 955 2388 


THE BACKGROUND: Designed with

traditional local materials like red tiles and limestone, this ocean-side hotel is a homage to the ancient Ryukyu kingdom which once ruled the island. THE LOCATION: Overlooking the Pacific, a 35-minute drive from Naha Airport. THE ROOM: My Western-style Executive

Suite was 68 sq ms in size with a balcony overlooking the beach and the tiny limestone outcrops which characterise this coast. The decor uses neutral and warm tones with lots of wood. There are two sumptuous double beds as well as a sitting area. The bathroom has a shower and a large spa bath tub looking out to sea.

KEY FACILITIES: All guests can book one of the six ‘houjouan’ or hermitages free of charge. These rooftop dwellings are entered through a low door and include a tatami mat area for relaxing or stretching and an open-air stone bath and lounge chairs looking out to sea. It was raining during my visit so instead I enjoyed a relaxing massage in one of the indoor treatment rooms. There is also a zen room and library. RESTAURANTS/BARS: The restaurant serves high-end Japanese cuisine. Dinner is a formal affair, staged in the sparse but cosy restaurant and consisting of at least eight (I lost count) beautifully-presented and creative dishes, including Okinawan fermented tofu with local Awamori liquor and wagyu beef. Breakfast is also a multi-course affair, featuring both Western and Japanese fare. 1299-1 Hyakuna Yamashitahara, Tamagusuku-Aza, Nanjo City, Okinawa, Japan. 


T H E V E R D I CT As soon as I arrived here a sense of calm rolled over me, with the sea breeze. The redtiled buildings seem at one with nature thanks to the twisted banyan trees that grow in-between its wooden walkways. And everything is wood or glass – meaning the Pacific is never far from view. If your clients want a Japanese experience this is the place; they can dine in the black pyjamas provided and mediate next to the hotel’s seven-metre stone Buddha. All is calm. RATES: Executive suite JPY 50,000pp for two

Working in partnership


Training, competitions, events May 2017


It's a jungle out there NEWS

Quick Quiz Are you a Jamaica travel specialist?

1. Jamaica was named the ‘world's most romantic destination 2012’ TRUE / FALSE


Caribbean spice for UK agents

2. To rent a car in Jamaica drivers must be 30 years of age TRUE / FALSE

Caribbean Travel Guru


Answers: 1: True 2: False

THE CaribbeanTourism Organization has released the dates and locations of its annual UK Travel Agent Roadshows 2017. They are: May 22, Edinburgh; May 23, Glasgow; June 14, London; June 15, Bristol; September 13, Manchester; and September 14, Peterborough. Each event will start at 18.00 and end around 21.30. The evenings will provide an opportunity for agents in the host cities to network with suppliers and tourism boards to learn about the multi-island destination. Lucky agents could also win a selection of amazing prizes!

MIAMI'S Jungle Island, a zoological park located between downtown and South Beach, will see some major renovations in the next two years. Zip lines, children's activities, water slides and a massive lagoon will be added to the attraction. It will also see a restaurant upgrade as well as a new banquet area. The park has housed exotic animals for tourists to view since 1936 and aims to draw more visitors with these additions.

Are you selling the Cayman Islands? EVENT

THE Cayman Islands' National Pirates Week festival celebrates its 40th year in 2017. So what better reason to send clients to the destination? Taking place November 9-13, the festival commemorates the islands' nautical history. It's also a great chance for families to get involved in all sorts of pirate-theamed events. To learn more about the festival and how to sell The Cayman Islands, sign up to train today at:

Training courses to help travel agents and advisers sell more!



Boosted rewards for St.Kitts agents INCENTIVE

AGENTS signed up to the  St.Kitts rewards programme on My Booking Rewards can earn up to £20 on their St. Kitts bookings this year. The Sugar Bay Club and Ocean Terrace Inn properties have joined the rewards programme and agents now collect £10 for each seven-night booking that includes the properties. They must register their qualifying bookings on to claim their rewards. For training on this unique Caribbean destination, visit

New Programme

Revamp for Macao Specialist

Macao Specialist I Modules: 4

New heights for Qatar NEWS

QATAR is set to welcome four new properties by the end of this year. They are: the Mondrian Doha, the first Mondrian in the Middle East; the Mandarin Oriental Doha, which will include two pools and a spa; the Centara Grand Hotel, being built above Doha's West Bay; and the 307-room Holiday Inn Doha. This year the National Museum of Qatar will also open. It will combine historic objects and contemporary influences. For more information on Qatar please visit:;

MACAO is one of the Far East's fastest growing and most exciting destinations. Just 40 miles from Hong Kong it makes a perfect two- or three-night addition to a Far East holiday, or maybe a stopover destination for clients headed Down Under. Now agents can learn more about this fascinating destination through the revamped Macao Specialist training programme. The programme has been updated with new content, exams, and videos highlighting Macao's unique charms as well as its stunning beauty. Sign up and train today at:

A-Z of available courses Alaska Anguilla Antigua & Barbuda Aruba Beachcomber Tours Beaches Resorts Botswana Boucan Butlins California Caribbean Cayman Islands Centara Hotels & Resorts Cirque du Soleil Elegant Hotels of Barbados Flanders Florida Fort Myers & Sanibel GDS Gambia Haven Hawaii Heritage Resorts Hoseasons Insider Journeys Jamaica Jerusalem Jewel Resorts Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts Kenya Macao Las Vegas Malta Miami New York City New York State Namibia Newmarket Holidays Norway PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Puerto Rico Qatar SAGA Saint Lucia Sandals Resorts Serenity Holidays Seychelles Sri Lanka St Kitts Trinidad and Tobago Tenerife Thailand Travel 2 Turks & Caicos US Airtours Veranda Resorts Virgin Limited Edition Voyages SNCF Warner Leisure Hotels Windjammer Landing Hotel Your Car Hire powered by


ten of the best

lands of the

midnight Do you have clients who want to make the most of the long summer daylight hours in the lands of the Midnight Sun? Jeannine Williamson suggest ten ways how



Norway Take a hike: Stavanger, a former European Capital of Culture with an old town filled with white-boarded homes, is a top spot to savour Norway’s summer. Daily ferries cross the scenic Lysefjord to Oanes, with onward coach travel included in the fare to the start of the rugged walk to Norway’s landmark Pulpit Rock, 60m above the fjord. The two-hour climb is worth the amazing views from the top. Tuck in: Enjoy the fruits of the Norwegian summertime with the many blueberry dishes that appear on restaurant menus when the berries ripen. These include pancakes, pies and, more unusually, soup. Another popular summer dish is freshly-caught mackerel, with sour cream, fresh potatoes and cucumber salad. Join locals in ‘utepils’, literally ‘outdoor beer’, as bar tables spill out onto pavements and gardens to mark the eagerly awaited arrival of sunny days.



ten of the best




Swim in the city: Built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges, the Swedish capital is often described as the Venice of the North. The waterways are so clean and clear you can take a dip right in the middle of town. Alternatively, rent a kayak or canoe and paddle your way from island to island. And look out for the free outdoor Stockholm International Film Festival in August. Set sail: The 190km Gota Canal leads from the River Gota in Gothenburg to the Baltic Sea in Stockholm, negotiating eight lakes and 66 locks and travelling through some of Sweden’s most picturesque landscapes. There are hotel boats as well as vessels offering shorter sightseeing cruises along the waterway lined with walking and cycling routes. Sunvil’s seven-night itinerary combines a cruise combining stays in Stockholm and Gothenburg, a creative city of cobbled streets and canals.

Twilight tee time: Although golf is not typically associated with Finland a growing number of Midnight Sun golf tournaments provide a novel attraction for golfing clients. Oulu Golf Club, on the western coast, is the world’s northernmost 36-hole course, where golfers often play throughout the night during the midsummer months when the sun rarely dips below the horizon. Bears have even been spotted during midnight games! Paint the town red: The Helsinki Festival, from August 17 to September 3, is Finland’s largest arts event. Aimed at making art accessible for all, many events are free. The programme line-up features classical and world music, theatre, dance, circus and visual arts as well as a range of urban events. And you can always round off your cultural day or night the Finnish way – with a trip to the sauna and a swim in the Baltic.

Prepare to party: Join Copenhageners who spend the summer enjoying open-air events and festivals throughout the city. Tivoli Gardens’ Friday Rock will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year with weekly concerts through to September showcasing new talents and international stars. Throughout the summer there are two free concerts every Sunday in the hippy Christiania district, and in July the Copenhagen Jazz Festival is one of the biggest in Europe. Pretty as a picture: Skagen, on Denmark’s northern tip, is famous for the beautiful natural light that has inspired painters for centuries. Visitors can stroll through small seaside streets of yellow houses to the harbour to order the catch of the day in one of the many fish restaurants, and sit on white-sand beaches to watch the crashing waves which appear at the point where the North Sea meets the Baltic.


ten of the best

Iceland Hit the high road: Iceland’s rugged interior is only open to traffic in the summer. The dramatic Highlands scenery includes eerie lunar landscapes, craters, glaciers and hot springs such as the geothermal crater lake Viti in the northeast. Fun ways to explore include jeep safaris and treks on sturdy Icelandic horses. For outdoor-loving clients, Exodus has a walking and camping holiday to wilderness areas that can only be reached on foot. Have a whale of a time: Icelandic waters are home to 23 different types of whale, including minke and humpback, and the best time of year to go whale watching is between May and September. Trips leave from Reykjavik’s old harbour three times daily and also provide the opportunity to see other marine wildlife including white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and various sea birds including puffins.

Where to book it  TRAFALGAR – 0800 533 5619 The operator has a 20-day immersive exploration of the northernmost parts of Scandinavia that

comes complete with tales of ancient Viking kings and Lapland’s Sami people. Guests travel through fjord and glacial landscapes, view the world’s northernmost university and meet Santa in Rovaniemi. The trip takes in the Scandinavian capitals and the North Cape Visitor Centre to witness the midnight sun. Prices start from £3,075pp and include accommodation; ‘Be My Guest’ experiences, local specialists and transport. 

south korea

going for

the gold


South Korea might be small but it’s a nation of many contrasts – and with it hosting the Winter Olympics in less than a year now is the time to sell it, says Anna Maria Espsäter


t is early morning in Busan, Korea’s second largest city, and the smells surrounding me are, quite frankly, enough to put anyone off. But the pungent aromas are not going to stop me exploring Jagalchi fish market, one of Busan’s leading attractions. You should advise clients to get there as early as they can: it is barely eight in the morning and the place is heaving, or should I say crawling, as many of the fish, seafood and various molluscs are actually alive and swimming in large vats or multi-coloured plastic containers of all sizes. Fresh oysters, giant mussels, tentacled squid, striped prawns and frisky crabs, as well as

numerous sea creatures I’ve not seen nor heard of before, jostle for space in what is the largest fish market in the country, situated right on the waterfront in the Nampo-dong district of South Korea’s second city. Perhaps surprisingly, most of the vendors appear to be quite elderly women, deftly sorting through the fish. There is a brisk trade going on all around me as I amble the vast area of stalls, both indoors and outdoors. Several of them are selling dishes ready to eat – call me unadventurous but I am drawing the line at raw fish before nine in the morning.



south korea

Winning streak

Opening page: The traditional Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul. This page, from top: Bongeunsa Buddhist Temple in Seoul; Big Buddha Monument of Sinheungsa Temple in Seoraksan National Park, Sokcho; Korean seafood noodles

Perfect ten

On the very cutting-edge of technology, Go back in time: South Korea’s history but simultaneously historic and suffused stretches back over 5,000 years. Don’t with ancient and deep-rooted traditions, miss the Royal palaces, Buddhist temples and South Korea (often called simply ‘Korea’) ancient fortresses dotted across the country. Celebrate winter sports: The is slowly but surely carving a name for Pyeongchang Winter Olympics itself as a first-class tourism destination. Promotion Hall in Gangneung is a good place to Around 135,000 UK travellers visit annually start and the whole of Gangwon-do Province is and there has been a steady year-on-year growth of 5-8% in visitor numbers, as awareness currently gearing up for 2018. Country intro: Get to grips with all of the country as a leisure destination increases. things Korean at K-Style hub in Seoul, a This year is a great time to be promoting and high-tech info centre offering everything from selling South Korea, with the Winter Olympics ticket reservations to at Pyeongchang cooking classes. upcoming. A county Heritage in in Gangwon Province “South Korea is a destination abundance: in the northeast, that makes an interesting The ‘Haenyeo’ Pyeongchang is known contrast to China, being a few (freediving ladies) for Odaesan National steps along in terms of gaining UNESCO status Park and its trails that in late 2016 adds to an criss-cross the Taebaek development. It’s also a good already impressive list Mountains. The event stopover destination” of cultural and natural takes place in February CARL MEADOWS, SOUTH KOREA SPECIALIST, heritage. 2018, putting agents REGENT HOLIDAYS Make for the in the perfect position markets: to recommend their Markets are some of the best places to clients go beyond the classic tour and start experience day-to-day life. Try Jagalchi fish looking at Gangwon as another ‘must see’ area. market in Busan, the country’s largest, for an The Olympics aside, there is a whole host of other reasons to visit. The capital Seoul recently authentic experience. Seoul stopover: Hip and trendy, ancient made it onto the Lonely Planet Best in Travel and modern, capital Seoul is a perfect list, in the Top 10 Cities category for 2017. The stopover city and a good introduction to Korean country also boasts numerous UNESCO World culture, history and gastronomy. Heritage Sites and there are over 20 national Munch, scoff and nibble: Korean food parks scattered across the mountainous territory. Then there is Korean food, now a globally is tasty, healthy, varied and to top it off, it recognised cuisine, and the looks good too. Sample everything from market modern cultural concept fare to royal cuisine. known as ‘hallyu’, a trendy Ride the rivers: The Four Rivers Project phenomenon that is attracting allows you to cycle along pristine cycle fans across the globe. paths along four of the country’s main rivers – Add to that little lot an excellent exercise after all the food. immaculate and efficient Explore little-known Gangwon-do: The northeast is home to Ojukheon, one infrastructure, of the oldest preserved houses in the country, accommodation including Hasila Art World, Terarosa coffee factory, and, of everything from course, several ski resorts. traditional temple Airport adventures: Incheon airport is stays and hanoks much more than a transport hub: it (traditional houses) to introduces travellers to Korean culture with its super-deluxe properties, Culture Museum, Traditional Culture Experience a four-seasons climate Zone and Traditional Craft Gallery. with spectacular springtime cherry-blossom, amazing What’s new autumn colours and, as you  Marketing and events: The authorised would expect from a Winter Olympics ticket reseller for the 2018 Olympics in host, excellent skiing and you have all the Pyeongchang is the STH Group ( composite attributes of a winning destination. The Korea Tourism Organisation ( plans to run regular fam trips to Pyeongchang Finally, the KTO’s current marketing and the Gangwon-do Province throughout 2017. partnerships with China and Japan There will also be a European-wide road show also means added opportunities to to promote Pyeongchang 2018. sell twin- or three-centre holidays.









south korea



“Food experts predict that South Korean will be the next Asian cuisine to go mainstream. A food-focused trip gives foodies the chance to stay ahead of the trend and get an authentic taste of traditional and home-cooked Korean cooking” ERICA KRITIKIDES, FOOD BRAND MANAGER, INTREPID TRAVEL

The KTO is working closely with its Chinese and Japanese counterparts to promote the ‘Visit East Asia’ brand, a recent initiative.  Tour operators: Six tour operators are launching new tours to South Korea in 2017: Kuoni (, through its Journeys brand; Original Travel (; Titan Travel (; Voyages Jules Verne (vjv. com); Saville Row Travel (; and Intrepid Travel (  Infrastructure: A high-speed rail link (KTX) between Seoul and Gangwon-do Province is scheduled to open this autumn. Korean Telecommunications Company KT and rival SK Telecoms intend to launch ‘5G’technology – the latest wireless mobile technology – during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.  Attractions: South Korea’s ‘Haenyeo’ (freediving ladies), from the southern island of Jeju, were recently listed as a UNESCO ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’. With the high-speed rail link from Seoul to Gangwon-do set to open later in the year, the sights of this province, including national parks, coastline and excellent ski slopes, will become more easily accessible.

Tourism talk

Clockwise from top left: Pyeongchang Snow Festival; the Haenyeo, or freediving ladies, are now recognised by UNESCO; Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan

“Our key focus in 2017 is looking towards the Winter Olympics Pyeongchang 2018. “This will be another great opportunity to raise awareness of Korea in the UK. Korea is already a sports tourism hub for active adventure in

Asia and we will use the legacy of the Winter Olympics to make Gangwon-do Province a place for both summer and winter activities. “We will continue to strongly sell Seoul as an ideal stopover to rival other major Asian capitals and our ‘Special Interest Tours’ include ‘hallyu’ (Korean pop culture) and other popular cultural tours, UNESCO heritage sites, cuisine, taekwondo and sports tourism, all of which are key segments for tour operators creating programmes.” Seunghyun Hwang, Director of the KTO, UK

Where to book it  REGENT HOLIDAYS – 020 7666 1244 Regent has an eight-day Highlights of South Korea Tour, priced from £1,315pp, including accommodation, arrival transfers and Englishspeaking guides. Flights and departure transfers are excluded. It is available on various dates between May and December.

 INTREPID TRAVEL – 0808 274 5111 The operator has a cross-country eight-day Real Food Adventure priced from £1,480pp, including accommodation, local transport and selected meals (international flights not included). Departures are in June, September and October.

 ACE CULTURAL TOURS – 01223 841 055 A 17-day South Korea & Western Japan tour leads in at £4,950pp, including return flights from Heathrow, all accommodation and local transport, breakfast and most dinners, excursions and admissions. Departure is May 12 2017. 

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my journey

My Japan journey...

oceans apart but e ar a aw in Ok l ca pi ro Tokyo and subt ty High-rise, high-octane Japan’s split personali of e pl am ex t ec rf pe e two a Laura Gelder finds th


’ve travelled thousands of miles but the cosy fug of Cafe Garamanjyaku is a home-fromhome. A tabby cat pads silently across the tatami mat floor as the stone kettle bubbles cheerily on the glowing coal hearth at the centre of our table, the witchy-looking herbs sprouting out of the top giving off a calming aroma.

Kiyoko Yamashiro and her son are preparing our lunch in what she calls ‘Grandma’s kitchen’. Sitting cross-legged is harder than it looks but it’s impossible not to feel comfortable in this little wooden house, looking out to the damp, green garden. When the meal arrives I feel healthier Shibuya crossing just looking at it: a banana leaf is dotted with delicious clusters of food – grated orange carrot, juicy yellow star fruit, mauve fried taro, brown mushrooms, green beans, herb-flecked tofu and a ball of sticky white rice speckled with peas – all Okinawan vegetables and medicinal herbs. Being an octogenarian in Okinawa isn’t that remarkable and it seems it’s all down to ‘nuchi gusto’. The phrase translates as ‘food is medicine’ and it must work because the women here have the best longevity in the world, living an average 87 years. Life expectancy for men’s is pretty decent too, at 77, but lower “because they drink more sake and do less work”, says our guide, with a straight face. The sake is not to be sniffed at either – down here it’s called awamori and it’s quite a lot stronger than the stuff on the mainland because it’s Information I flew to distilled rather than brewed – Japan with All Nippon from Lon 30-40% proof instead of a paltry Airways (A don Heath N row to T A) then on okyo Hane to Naha, 15%. We tour the Sakiyama da and Okinawa hours an - a flight d 35 min time of tw Distillery to learn how it’s made, ut e s. Conventio Thanks to o n & Visito the Okinaw using long grain Thai rice not rs Bureau a and Inside (who arra nged our Japan short grain Japanese. CONTACT Tokyo tour S: s). ; insidejap They do things differently in this an princehot;; h; southernmost prefecture of Japan. yakunagar Okinawa only became part of the

rom view f icho with a Kio Coffee llery Tokyo Ga Prince

country in 1879 and its capital, Naha, is closer to Taiwan than to Tokyo. The prefecture stretches 1,000km and incorporates the Ryuku Islands, an ancient kingdom which traded goods and ideas with many regional powers – notably China – and developed its own unique culture during a time when Japan was closed to the world. It’s only when you visit Shuri Castle in the capital that you get a sense of how powerful the Ryuku Kingdom was and how ‘un-Japanese’ it is. The Seiden, where the king lived, has a scarlet façade topped with gold dragons which looks closer to China’s Forbidden City than the muted majesty of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace. It was the seat of the kingdom from 1429 up to 1879 and recieved trade envoys from both China and Japan in the adjacant halls. Okinawa’s more recent history is less amicable and more tragic. During World War Two the island was invaded by U.S. troops in the region’s bloodiest battle. Nearly half the population died or committed suicide after 82 days of bombardment known locally as the ‘rain of steel’.

“Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa stretches 1,000km and its capital is closer to Taiwan than to Tokyo”

White sands and whales

U.S. troops are still stationed in Okinawa and leave their cultural influence too - the endless stalls of tourist tat along Naha’s Kokusai Street peddle Hawaiian shirts along with dried fish snacks and kimonos. You can see why people might compare Okinawa with Hawaii if you get away from the urban drag. We take a boat to the Kerama Islands and spy humpback whales dancing in the blue before exploring Nagannu Island. White shells and pink coral crunch underfoot and a chilly wind blows through the paths lined with tropical screw pine, but I can see how popular it would be in summer. We spend a night in the beautifully-manicured Ritz Carlton but it could be anywhere. Hyakuna Garan,

Cafe Garamanjyaku

my journey

You will neve r buy sushi from Tesco again once you’ve tasted it in Japan!

A plate of lon gevity, Okinawa-style

however, could only be in Japan. We arrive at the hotel in the dark and follow the soft light of the floor lamps along a wooden deck, hearing the sea swirl somewhere below as we round a twisted banyan tree and into the reception area, where we’re given hibiscus tea. Later, we dine in the sparse restaurant, eating beautifully-presented sushi wearing the black pyjamas suits provided.


barre ls Shint at Toyo’s Mieiji o shr ine

Bright lights, big city

Fast-forward 24-hours and I’m checked into the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, hermetically sealed into a glass tower, looking down at this frenetic city’s sparkling lights laid tantaslisingly before me, from my window. Tokyo is a different world with its own contradictions. For dinner, we leave our high-tech haven to dine under the railway tracks near Yurakucho station. This dense alleyway is stuffed with izakaya (cheap foodie pubs) and smells of smoke and chicken from the yakatori stalls, but each place has its own speciality. Soon our beer crate table is overflowing with glasses of beer, Shōchū cocktails and bowls of edamame beans. The waiters reach through the plastic hangings from the alleyway to add finely-sliced rare beef before we move next door for seafood - a place packed with hungry Tokyo marathon runners and circling fish in tanks awaiting their fate. The next day we catch the tail-end of Tsukiji Fish Market - by 10.00 empty polystyrene boxes, wet concrete, a few bloody knives, tired looking people and some boxes of alien-looking sea cucumbers are all that’s left. We walk under buds of cherry blossom in the serene Hama Rikyu Gardens before jostling with the masses at the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing in Shibuya. After sating our appetites with steaming bowls of ramen we visit Senso-ji, Tokyo’s oldest Buddhist temple and the Meiji Shinto Shrine. The Japanese follow both faiths, the latter mostly for matters of death since Shinto doesn’t acknowledge an afterlife. There’s no conflict or embarrassment at this dual faith system - Senso-ji even has helpful signs reminding patrons that clapping is for Shinto and bowing is sufficient in Buddhism. It’s a bit like the whole country really - a conflict of interests which sounds awkward but isn’t, like the overload of technology which seeps into every corner of life (including the toilet!) but comes with a steadfast refusal to forget tradition or the past, evident in everything from low-bowing shop assistants to teenagers taking peace sign selfies. Japan’s is an ancient culture rooted in ancient rituals but leading the way into a futuristic world of robots.



nu Is land

Tsukiji Fish Market

the Walking into ist dh ud B i Senso-J yo temple, Tok

Shuri Castle in Naha


bangkok and beyond



and about

Using Bangkok as a base, holidaymakers can experience an enormous variety of culture and heritage without changing hotels or taking an internal flight, says Lucy Grewcock

angkok is waking up as my driver collects me from my hotel. As we tour out of the capital, the city’s gilded temples glint in the morning sun and the Grand Palace seems unusually free of crowds. Two hours later, I am rattling through the jungle on a restored section of the ‘Death Railway’ in Kanchanaburi – a beautiful province with a harrowing history. More than 100,000 prisoners of war and Asian labourers perished here during World War Two, when they built the railway to Burma under Japanese command. Thick foliage scrapes at the metal carriages as we forge through the forest, the smell of sweet jasmine and damp leaves wafting through the windows. Having crossed the Bridge over the River Kwai, we chug through dark tunnels and crawl along teetering trestle bridges that cling to the cliffs. That afternoon, I hike through the Hellfire Pass, where 70 years ago enslaved men dressed in little more than loincloths cut a route through the rock using hammers and dynamite. You can still see their broken drill bits in the sheer rock walls. As we leave Kanchanaburi, the sun starts to sink behind the knuckle-shaped mountains. I doze off as we hit the highway and wake an hour later to the bright lights of Bangkok.

Experiencing more “It’s incredible how much you can pack into a day when you’re based in Bangkok,” says Michael Priest, Far East Product Manager at The Holiday Place. “The city has everything you could want and a thousand things you never knew existed, while the treasures of Central Thailand lie just outside the city.” Ever popular as a holiday destination, UK visitor numbers to Thailand passed the one million milestone in 2016, and Bangkok was named as the world’s most visited city in the Mastercard Global

Left: Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) in Bangkok. Above: Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

bangkok and beyond

Destinations Cities Index 2016. But while many tourists dip into Bangkok to tick off its sights before flying south to a beach or north to the hill tribes, the city’s potential as a touring base is often overlooked. However, those who stay for an extra night or two can really get under the capital’s skin, and experience a host of nearby highlights. For example, just an hour or so from Bangkok by car are the Unesco-listed ruins of Ayutthaya and the floating markets at Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak. A little further afield are the wild elephants of Khao Yai National Park and the World War Two memorials in Kanchanaburi. Returning to Bangkok each night, visitors can delve into a 24-hour city where the world’s tallest alfresco eatery sits among a forest of sky bars; where shopping malls stay open until late and the backstreets are filled with street markets; and where bike tours or river cruises are all the more magical at night. Appreciating this wealth of cultural heritage is a focus for the Tourism Authority’s 2017 Unique Thai Local Experiences campaign, which encourages visitors to appreciate Thailand’s authentic culture and diverse appeal. Bangkok is bursting with opportunities to exploit this, while easy access to Central Thailand makes it easy to experience several provinces and attractions in just a few days.

Perfect ten City sights: First-timers will want to see Bangkok’s top attractions like The

Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha and the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), independently or via guided tour. River life: An evening dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River gives a whole new perspective of the capital, with riverside temples illuminated after dark. Sky high: Experiencing one of Bangkok’s many sky bars or rooftop eateries is a must. A highlight is Sirocco, the world’s highest alfresco restaurant.

“An itinerary can be adapted to suit any budget or traveller type. Choose between topend suites or affordable rooms in Bangkok and leisurely sightseeing or challenging treks in Central Thailand” LUCY GREWCOCK, TRAVEL WRITER

On yer bike: Cycle tours are a great way to explore Bangkok and the Unescolisted sites in Central Thailand. Spice Roads ( have a good range of options. Night shopping: The legendary Chatachak weekend market stays open until 23.00, and shopping malls stay open until 22.00 most evenings. Ride through history: The Death Railway in Kanchanaburi makes for one of Bangkok’s most poignant day trips. Visitors


can cross the ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, along with cemeteries, museums, and memorials. Ayutthaya anniversary: Siam’s ancient capital was razed to the ground in 1767. Once one of the world’s wealthiest cities, the ruins are best explored by bicycle or tuk-tuk tour. Jungle safari: Khao Yai, Thailand’s oldest National Park, is three hours from Bangkok but the early start is well worth it. It is home to gibbons, wild elephants and an extensive network of hiking trails. Authentic Amphawa: A 90-minute drive from the capital the weekend markets in Ampahwa village give a fascinating taste of local life, and traditional Thailand in Memorial Park. Escape the city: A beach retreat makes for the ideal complement to Bangkok and Central Thailand. Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui are a one-hour flight away. Or go north to Chiang Mai.

What’s new  Accommodation: The 222-room Park Hyatt Bangkok ( opens this year, with bookings now being taken for May onwards. Located in Bangkok’s iconic Central Embassy building, the hotel is connected to a luxury shopping mall and entertainment centre. 137 Pillars Suites and Residences Bangkok ( opened in February in the upscale EmQuartier and Emporium Mall shopping area in Thonglor district.

This page, clockwise from top left: Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River at night; the River Kwai; Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam


bangkok and beyond

Above: The bright lights of Chinatown in Bangkok. Right: The lakeside walking path in Benjakitti Park, Downtown Bangkok

With 34 luxurious suites, guests have the option of private spa facilities, in-suite dining, personal shopping and butler services. Scheduled to open in April, the four-star Mercure Bangkok Makkasan ( has 180 rooms, a swimming pool and all-day dining restaurant, with easy access to MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit) services and malls.  Transport: Bangkok’s Skytrain and MRT services are continually evolving and expanding. The MRT’s new Purple Line opened last summer and on-going developments are in progress. This winter, TUI ( will operate an additional fortnightly flight from Gatwick to Phuket, and a new fortnightly flight from Birmingham to Phuket. This equates to an additional 9,000 seats.  Operators: Gold Medal ( has added the Shanghai Mansion to its 2017 Asia brochure. Located on Yarowat Road in Chinatown, the boutique hotel and spa is themed with 1930s Shanghai decor. Gold Medal has also launched a new Gems of Siam tour, an eight-day round trip from Bangkok that includes sightseeing in the capital followed by a tour through Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai and Sukhothai.

Tourism talk “Bangkok is not only a great city it also makes a fantastic touring centre. It has a great infrastructure to carry you around the city with excellent underground and monorail systems. The rest of Central Thailand is accessible beyond – from the ancient capital of Ayutthaya and the ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ at Kanchanaburi to the markets at Amphawa.

bangkok and beyond

“Most attractions are accessible by public transport but private tours are popular and more convenient. Despite the pound dropping in value, the average spend by UK visitors was up by 2.85% per person in 2016. This suggests that they value quality and are likely to consider higher-end options for the best experience. “Flight capacity has never been stronger, with 32 scheduled airlines linking Thailand with the UK. To help tour operators sell effectively, we re-launched our online training platform in December 2016. This has more than doubled the number of agents we now work with.” Chris Lee, Head of Marketing, Tourism Authority of Thailand

Where to book it

Street food in Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, located about 100km southwest of Bangkok

 THE HOLIDAY PLACE – 020 7644 1700 A 13-night Bangkok and Phuket holiday starts at £999pp. The itinerary includes two nights in Bangkok with day trips to Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi. Guests then fly to Phuket, staying 11 nights at the four-star Kantary Bay Hotel. The deal includes flights, accommodation, day trips and transfers. Fully tailored itineraries

are also available. Valid for travel May to October 2017.

 WENDYWUTOURS – 0800 902 0888 The three-night Bangkok Stopover starts at £380pp. Guests can enjoy free time in Bangkok, a guided sightseeing tour, a boat ride on Chao Phraya River, and an evening in a theatre restaurant, plus a day trip to Kanchanaburi. Price includes accommodation, daytrips, transfers and some meals. Flights on request. wendywutours. 




horizons new

Resorts in the Maldives are targeting families and solo travellers. Clare Walsh goes it alone to find out how


he scented night air is warm and still. Barefoot on the beach, I stand gazing in awe at the Indian Ocean, which is ablaze with glistening neon blue lights. A slight breeze blows, sending a ripple through the palm trees. It is the only reminder that I am not trapped in a postcard. Seeing the ‘Sea of Stars’ on Vaadhoo island in the Maldives had long been on my bucket list. Now I am here I felt like I have been transported into a surreal Hollywood film. The ‘firefly effect’ caused by bioluminescent plankton is draped at my feet like a sparkling carpet and looks so effortlessly beautiful. Nature has cast her spell, creating otherworldly experiences such as this on these serene floating wonderlands – and for me it is sights like this that sum up the Maldives. But even the most achingly beautiful destinations have to evolve to meet changing expectations, and my trip here isn’t as

one of those starry-eyed honeymooners that the islands have become so adept in serving. Rather, I am a solo traveller.

New arrivals The abundance of sophisticated and luxury resorts has created the impression the Maldives is off-limits for independent and backpacking travellers. But a budget market on ‘inhabited’ islands has sprung up in recent years and locals have been allowed to open up their homes as guesthouses. However, luxury resorts are also harnessing the growing trend of solo travel. Tiny Mirihi Island, for example, is offering a three-month period (May 20 to August 30) dedicated to the solo traveller. Supplements that often sting this group will be removed and an upgrade to halfboard will appeal to those looking to manage their budget. Complimentary yoga and


cinema nights are on offer with excursions available for clients who want to socialise. Families are also increasingly seeing the Maldives as an attractive option for a oncein-a-lifetime getaway and resorts are now competing to offer the best facilities. Choosing an all-inclusive option enables families to manage their budget and the high standard of resorts means they are guaranteed excellent facilities. Kandima Maldives opened in February 2017 and is promoting its offering as a resort that delivers ‘more than a beach holiday’. It features an art studio, photo studio, marine biology school and kids’ club. Meanwhile, Kuramathi Maldives offers nature walks and treasure hunts for little ones. Wellness and spa offerings are also part of the appeal of a holiday in the Maldives and resorts regularly seek to update their options for clients who want to indulge in the ultimate R&R. Luxury resort One&Only Reethi Rah has partnered with personal trainer and health and fitness expert Harry Jameson to create three retreats for 2017. The retreat is said to combine science, fitness and diet to deliver a personalised programme. Of course, the Maldives will always retain its picture-perfect appeal for loved-up couples. The islands have a supreme offering for weddings, honeymoons and romantic getaways. excess baggage or choosing a resort Wedding planners in several resorts that can be reached by speedboat.” organise bespoke itineraries that include Marine life is also a major part of not just the basics of the day such as any extended stay in the Maldives and the ceremony, photography and music, many resorts have their own house but often include extras such as couples reefs and run water-based activities. massages and romantic beach dinners. “The marine life, exceptional snorkelling Luxury resort Gili Lankanfushi goes one and diving are a great selling point of the step further, offering guests a ‘Secret Wedding Maldives,” says Nina Torosyan, Sales and Marketing Manager at Experience.’ After the ceremony, they are Hurawalhi Resort. “The ocean’s conditions treated to a bespoke “A budget market on dinner surrounded by ‘inhabited’ islands has sprung are ideal for diving, 1,000 candles before and professional up in recent years and locals conservation and sailing off into the have opened up their homes exploration societies sunset for ‘canapés and as guesthouses. Luxury cruising’ on a dhoni such as the Manta boat. They then return resorts are also harnessing Trust are investing to sleep under the and collaborating the trend of solo travel” stars where a bed on with Maldivian the rooftop of their resorts to make accommodation has been set up. this a sustainable way to enjoy Many resorts can only be reached by its underwater offerings.” seaplane, which is all part of the Maldivian Perfect ten experience. However, Zoe Saunders of ITC Riding high: Surf enthusiasts Luxury Travel urges agents to make their can now ride the waves at clients aware of baggage policies. previously unreachable locations after the “This differs from what’s permitted on recent introduction of ‘seaplane surfing’ at Gili international flights. Generally, seaplanes Lankanfushi resort. This sees guests being taken will allow a combined luggage weight of by seaplane to top surfing spots in the Indian 25kg, so if the clients want to take more, Ocean isles. speak to your tour operator about booking

Opposite page: A dreamy Maldives sunset. This page (clockwise from top left): Spectacular diving; going solo is a growing trend in the Maldives; spa pool in Velassaru Maldives; warm welcome at Dusit Thani Maldives



ULTIMATE GETAWAY OFFER FREE NIGHTS Stay 4 Pay 3 OR 7 Pay 5 PLUS Complimentary Half Board PLUS Complimentary Boat Transfers Valid for all stays between 23 Apr – 17 Dec 17

SAFARI ISLAND MALDIVES SUMMER OFFER 20% Reduction on Room Rates 20% Reduction on Half Board Plus and All Inclusive Supplement Valid for All Room categories and all stays between 01 May – 31 Oct 17


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Mirihi Island Resort

Dine in the sky: NEST is the tree-house restaurant at Per Aquum resort in Niyama. Clients dine in treetop pods connected by jungle bridges and bamboo rails. Eco-friendly: Eco-conscious Hurwalhi Island Resort opened in December. On site-marine biologists run workshops and escorted trips into the surrounding waters that are known as ‘The Aquarium’, with over 2,000 species of sea life. Romantic moments: Voted the World’s Most Romantic Resort at the World Travel Awards 2016, Baros Maldives sits on a small island ringed by a living house reef. It is renowned for its discreet and personalised service and is an ideal honeymoon destination. Dive deep: Hideaway Beach Resort and Spa has recently launched PADI free-diving classes where guests can learn the art of moving underwater in one single breath. This enables the stunning reef system to be explored without heavy equipment. Tune in: Maldives Hadahaa has introduced ‘singing bowl meditation’ for guests. This is believed to invoke a deep sense of relaxation and assist clients into meditation. Sultans of swing: Revert to your childhood as you climb onto the wooden swing that sways over the sea 90 metres from the shoreline at Taj Exotica. Flower power: Throughout 2017, Devarana Spa Maldives is inviting guests to mark the Year of the Rooster with a series of special treatments featuring the healing properties of flowers. Sole food: One of the few fine-dining restaurants in the world that encourages its guests to dine barefoot, the newly opened Ba’theli at Milaidhoo Island serves up classic Maldivian cuisine. Underwater haven: Those wanting to explore the stunning underwater world of the Maldives but who don’t fancy taking the

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plunge need not despair – there’s an underwater restaurant, underwater nightclub and underwater spa in the Maldives!

What’s new

Clockwise from top left: Waterskiing at Kandima Maldives; Mirihi Island Resort’s beach dining; yoga on a sandbank at Baros Maldives; weddings and honeymoons are still big business in the Maldives; spa treatment at Dusit Deverana; scuba diving on a colourful reef

 Resorts: Scheduled to open in October 2017, Banglioni Resort Maldives (banglionihotels. com) will feature 96 villas and a ‘jungle spa.’ Located on the island of Magaau in Dhaalu Atoll, it’s a 40-minute hop by seaplane from the capital, Malé. The world’s first private island in a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve is now open. Four Seasons at Voavah, Baa Atoll ( is set on five acres with seven bedrooms, a beach house, dive school and 62ft yacht. Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa ( has unveiled its new water-villa accommodations. Completely renovated and refurbished, each villa has its own private infinity pool. New for spring 2017, Velassaru Maldives ( is to open a deluxe pool villa located on the beach. Situated on the quiet South Male Atoll, it features an open-air bathroom and private garden courtyard with an oversized plunge pool.  Transport: A new Trans Maldivian Airways seaplane base (transmaldivian. com) has been created at the recently renovated Gan International Airport. Luxury private resort Amari Havodda Maldives ( now offers a direct seaplane connection that enables guests to reach the island without the need for a speedboat transfer.  Venues: The Small Maldives Island Co. ( has partnered with hospitality group Butter Group to launch 10AK Beach Club at Finolhu Blhu, which will treat guests to nightly performances from acrobats, mermaids and stilt walkers. It will also feature retro-pool parties and monthly tribal sandbank events.


Tourism talk “We’re very pleased to see an increase in visitors from the UK – which shows that the Maldives is still one of the UK’s favourite holiday destinations. We are continuing to update our tourism infrastructure with a number of new developments taking place, including an ambitious $50-million redevelopment project that was completed at Gan International Airport last November. The airport’s renovation enables long-haul operations and direct connectivity via seaplane transfers to the southern regional resort network, hopefully welcoming even more UK tourists in 2017.” Haris Mohamed, Acting Managing Director, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC)

Where to book it  ITC LUXURY TRAVEL– 01244 355527 Receive 50% off accommodation rates, one bottle of Champagne, a fruit basket, one romantic dinner and one 40-minute couples massage at OZEN by Atmosphere. Prices start from £3,699pp based on two adults sharing a junior suite for seven nights on a half-board basis including return economy flights and private transfers, valid for travel by December 22, 2017.  TRAVEL 2 – 0800 0224 182

Seven nights at the newly opened five-star adults-only Hurawalhi Island Resort, Maldives costs from £2,059pp. Valid for departures April 24–May 29 2017. The deal includes return economy flights with Emirates from Gatwick and seaplane transfers. 


the final word

the quirky side of travel – Scotland's Ambassadog. The Hoff. British Airways –


he Principal Edinburgh Hotel marked becoming Scotland’s latest petfriendly hotel with a visit from VisitScotland’s very own 'Ambassadog'. The four-legged V.I.P ('Very Important Pooch') evidently enjoyed its experience sampling the four-star property’s dog-welcoming facilities, which includes a personally-labelled canine bed, ceramic pet bowls and a luxury hamper full of proven doggy favourites. Andreas Maszczyk, General Manager at Principal Edinburgh, said: “We know that dogs are an important part of the family and this is reflected in the experience they will receive when they stay with us . “We believe we offer the best experience for guests visiting Edinburgh and this is something that should be extended to pets as well. “

MEET THE HOFF ON COSTA Passengers onboard the Costa Favolosa later this year will get the chance to attend a performance by, and then meet, ex-Baywatchstar and singer David Hasselhoff. The Costa Cruises ship will depart from Savona, Italy, on November 4, returning on


TOP 6… Most Cultural Cities Which cities have the most history, art, music, theatre, and dining options? See

November 9. During the six-day cruise there will be a concert, a 'get together', autograph session and an up- close-and-personal opportunity for cruisers and Hoff fans alike to meet the buff actor-singer. In the words of the man himself: “Come party Hoff style! Rock 'n roll on the sea with me and my team!” But hurry, tickets are selling fast. •










New York



BA does special loop of the British Isles This might look like the crazy routing of a plane suffering a serious radar malfunction but is in fact the deliberate path plotted by the pilot of a one-off British Airways charter last month. After taking off from Gatwick, the A787-9 (Dreamliner) headed north, flying over Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Aberdeen before doing a couple of loops above Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It then turned south, headed for Carlise and, three hours after leaving London, landed at Heathrow. The Dreamliner carried the media and various corporates who were invited to hear about the airline's planned £400-million investment in its Club World product. They also sampled some of the new dishes coming to the premium cabin from September.

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