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SELLING TRAVEL • MARCH 2018

MARCH 2018 • SELLINGTRAVEL.CO.UK

TRAVEL TRADE PUBLICATION OF THE YEAR 2015 & 2016

Aboriginal Australia • Flights to Asia • Namibia • Malta • St. Kitts • Spanish Cities • Seychelles • Las Vegas • River Cruising • Bahrain • Serbia

STATE OF ORIGIN Why Australia's Aboriginal culture is integral to any 'experiential' trip down under

how to sell...

Malta Serbia Seychelles Flights to Asia Spanish Cities River Cruising and more...

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PRESENTS

YOUR WINDOW INTO ALL THINGS CALIFORNIA

SIGN UP BEFORE JULY 30TH AND BE IN WITH A CHANCE OF WINNING ONE OF 20 SUPER-SOFT HOODIES OR A PAIR OF RETURN TICKETS TO CALIFORNIA!* Visit California STAR Training Programme & Sales Companion ★★ Discover California through a series of inspiring, thematic modules ★ Enjoy all-new chapters on San Francisco, Greater Palm Springs and Monterey ★ Download and share any images, videos or other content to help inspire your clients ★ More content for Anaheim, LA, High Sierra, Santa Monica and Napa Valley coming soon

*Terms & Conditions apply

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contents

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this issue FEATURES 08 Aboriginal Experiences: 20 29 43 64

Tap into the world's oldest living culture Malta: Music, history and gastronomy define this culture capital Flights to Asia: A guide to airline services to Northeast Aisa Seychelles: New direct flights make the islands more accessible Serbia: Why this off-beat country is on the rise

68 78 77 64

48 59 50 62

29

20 52

26

43 18

8

QUICK READS 18 Country profile: Namibia 26 Six of the best: St. Kitts 37 Spotlight on: Vivid, NSW, Australia

40 Six of the best: New Business Class cabins 48 Hidden gems: Las Vegas 50 Visit USA: Member news 52 Introducing: Bahrain 62 Introducing: Tennessee 68 48 hours in: Oslo

RIVER CRUISING 71 Youth cruising: How to

ABORIGINAL AUSTRALIA

MALTA

08

20 FLIGHTS TO ASIA

29

target a younger crowd 77 Six of the best: Rhine 78 Focus on: Seine 80 River cruising directory

SEYCHELLES

43

THE REVIEW 53 Top news stories plus show reports from ATF and Go West

TALKING SHOP 13 News, comps, Alberta

RIVER CRUISING

69

fam, Barbara Charlton

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 www.sellingtravel.net

SERBIA

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welcome

4

Travel Trade Publication of the Year

Travel Trade Publication of the Year

Proudly published by BMI Publishing Ltd 2018 © 2018.

Suffolk House, George St, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1SR, UK T 020 8649 7233 | F 020 8649 7234 enquiries@bmipublishing.co.uk bmipublishing.co.uk sellingtravel.co.uk Publishers: Steve Thompson & Sally Parker Commercial Director: David Clare Editorial Director: Steve Hartridge Deputy Editor: Laura Gelder Staff Journalists: Ben Coren & Jessica Pooke 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 Lead Designers: Louisa Horton & Monica Notarnicola Designers: 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: images.australia.com

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE! sellingtravel.co.uk/subscribe

welcome I

was watching football on Sky TV one Sunday late last month when, during an advertising break, a promo on the Australian state of Tasmania caught my eye. The gist of the ad, from what I could gather, was that although the island state sits at the foot of Australia what it has to offer tourists, in terms of its beaches, winelands, scenery, wildlife, waterfalls, hiking trails and more, could just as well be another world away from the mainland. Tasmania is billing itself - imaginatively I thought – as "the island at the bottom of an island, a land under down under not like any Australia you have ever seen”. Running until March 4 and with Flight Centre the operator partner, Steve Hartridge the ad urges visitors to "uncover the hidden gem of Australia and EDITOR discover the nation’s best-kept secret". Coincidentally, in Tasmania itself a TV advertising campaign that was produced in a long-lost but revived Aboriginal tongue - an Australian first – is also running until the first week of March. Tasmanians are hearing palawa kani spoken (and seeing it subtitled) on breakfast TV and during prime-time during the build-up to the state election on March 3. Like all of Australia’s states, Tasmania is rich in Aboriginal heritage: across the 'Apple Isle' there are several areas that have been set aside for protection and careful management. For example, as Debbie Ward writes in our feature on Aboriginal Australian experiences (starting on page 8), visitors can take to the Wukalina Walk, on a three-night, four-day Aboriginal owned and operated guided walk based around a magnificent natural landscape that is the traditional cultural homeland of the Palawa. They will also sleep in domed huts, as once used by the Palawa people. Enjoy our Aboriginal Australian feature and the rest of an issue that covers destinations as diverse as Serbia, St. Kitts and Seychelles.

Industry comments... “Part of our strategy is to show that the Seychelles has never been more accessible and affordable. Though it’s renowned for being the perfect choice for honeymooners, we’re also very much a family-friendly destination with activities for children of all ages."

“Namibia is a prime destination to sell in 2018. From the family-friendly Skeleton Lodge to Damaraland’s luxurious Sorris Sorris Lodge, agents will have more accommodation options to offer their clients in 2018, whatever their budget or travel style.”

Christine Vel, Director, Seychelles Tourist Office – UK & Ireland

Samuel Hancock, Senior Account Director of the Namibia

See feature, page 43

Tourism Board UK. See feature, page 18

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Discover Thailand

Win a VIP FAM trip to Thailand with Gold Medal

Gold Medal, Tourism Thailand and Qatar Airways are giving you the chance to ‘Discover Thailand’ and experience the country like never before on an extraordinary new VIP FAM trip! Simply book Thailand packages flying with Qatar Airways between 01 January and 31 March 2018 and the top TEN sellers will win a place. Bookings will be automatically entered.

The winning agents of this VIP FAM trip will:

More chances

to win... Head to Facebook!

Celebrate in style in Thailand

Experience an animal encounter

Head to idyllic beach retreats

Embrace some of the best spas in Thailand

Fly with Qatar Airways

Indulge in local food and wine

Help the community

Enjoy the thrills of Muay Thai

See the floating markets

Check out the Gold Medal Facebook page @goldmedalagents between January and March for your chance to instantly win prizes, including Thai restaurant vouchers, spa days and Thai cooking classes!

Monthly giveaway! The top seller of Thailand and Qatar Airways packages for Gold Medal each month in 2018 will WIN £50 Farebank Rewards! Bookings will be automatically entered.

Terms and conditions: Thailand package bookings flying Qatar Airways made with Gold Medal during incentive period 01 Jan – 31 Mar 2018 will automatically qualify. The ten agents with the highest revenue sales during the incentive period will win a place on the Gold Medal VIP FAM trip. Winners will be announced at the end of the incentive. Exact dates and itinerary of the trip will be confirmed closer to the date of travel. Prize will be rewarded at an agency level, individual winning agent will be at the discretion of the agency manager. Experiences are illustrative only at this stage and will be confirmed closer to the time of travel. Gold Medal reserves the right to withdraw this incentive or change trip details at any time. Facebook competition will be live at random times throughout January and March – there are three prizes available. Monthly giveaway of £50 will be awarded to the top seller of Thailand and Qatar Airways holidays based on revenue, January through to December 2018. Love2shop vouchers will be awarded to agents who do not qualify for Farebank Rewards. Prizes are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative available. Holidays operated by Gold Medal Travel PLC, ATOL protected 2916, ABTA V6805.

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EXCITING & ENTICING ESCORTED TOURS WITH RIVIERA TRAVEL

NEW FOR 2018 Joseph

Darren

Tamzin

• See Monteverde Cloud Forest from above on superb hanging bridges

Mia

YOUR FRIENDLY AGENCY SALES TEAM

• Take a zip line through the rainforest • Tour the sacred valley of the Incas • Explore extraordinary Machu Picchu

SOUTH AMERICA HIGHLIGHTS 11 days from £2,399pp Departures from September to November 2018

SOUTH AMERICA HIGHLIGHTS PLUS PERU 16 days from £3,499pp Departures from September to November 2018

PERU 14 days from £2,569pp

PERU WITH AMAZON 16 days from £2,899pp Departures from August to October 2018 and April to October 2019

COSTA RICA – FROM THE CARIBBEAN TO THE PACIFIC

• Marvel at the breathtaking Iguazu Falls from both Argentinian and Brazilian sides

13 days from £2,599pp Departures from September to November 2018

• View the iconic panorama of Rio de Janeiro from the foot of Christ the Redeemer

To book, call: 01283 744370 Visit us online at www.rivieratravel.co.uk/agents For agency sales support, email: agencysales@rivieratravel.co.uk Riviera Travel booking terms and conditions apply. Prices correct at time of print.

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the big picture

7

Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria, Germany

Fairytales in action 2018 marks 100 years of the Free State of Bavaria – the most independent-minded of Germany’s 16 states. This land of turreted castles, medieval villages, dark forests and flowery meadows is straight from the pages of a fairytale and home to many of the best German stereotypes – Lederhosen and steins of foaming beer included! With events statewide, now’s the time to experience a little Gemütlichkeit (that’s Bavarian for ‘good cheer’). bavaria.by

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aboriginal australia

Picnic on Mount Borradaile, Arnhemland, Northern Territory

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aboriginal australia

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dreamtime land of

Australia is home to the world’s oldest living culture and, though it might not always be the lead reason to fly down under, Aboriginal customs can be central to an ‘experiential-based itinerary’, says Debbie Ward

A

lone domino sits on a rock shelf inside this cave in the sprawling bush of the Arnhem Land. This incongruous object isn’t a bizarre piece of tourist litter –it was most likely received by Aboriginal people in a trade with Indonesian sailors. I took a jeep and scrambled over boulders to get here, travelling from Davidson’s Arnhemland Safaris’ lodge, one of the few accredited sites within this Aboriginal-owned land in the Northern Territory. Besides some flustered bats, my guide and I are the only ones here, gazing on a site of huge historical and cultural importance unmarked by museum signs and ropes. Covering a rocky outcrop are hundreds of overlapping ochre silhouettes, created by blowing powdery earth around overstretched hands. They were left by generations of Aboriginal people who cooked, played and slept here.

Images of animals and fish show the ancient community’s food sources. There’s evidence of European contact: paintings depicting men with oversized hats and pipes – the artists having exaggerated what was strange to them. Protruding from a rock ledge are skeletons balanced on shelves of spears. Some of the bones are wrapped in paper bark, some in traded denim – it was perhaps as recently as the 1940s before the burial site was abandoned.

Indigenous immersion Aboriginal culture dates back over 60,000 years and travellers should not miss the opportunity to learn more about its customs and significance. Though the Northern Territory is most associated with Aboriginal sites, the culture can be encountered throughout Australia. Tourism Australia’s Aussie Specialist training

scheme has a dedicated Discover Aboriginal Experiences module that’s a good place to start. It also promotes quality indigenous tours, activities and accommodation under the Discover Aboriginal Experiences collective. “From experience, customers don’t tend to focus and build their Australian holiday solely around indigenous experiences, but it’s certainly something they want to include as a part of their time Down Under,” says Travel 2 Assistant Product Manager for Oceania, Will McQuade. The operator offers culture-related day tours; Jellurgal Journey and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast is popular this year. For a more immersive experience, McQuade recommends tailormade adventures including Kakadu. Local interaction and giving back is part of G Adventures’ ethos: “Unique experiences,

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aboriginal australia

along with the knowledge that these projects generate a positive impact for the local communities is a big draw for our travellers,” says Oceania Product Coordinator Scott Fuller. Options include a visit to Café Chloe in Tully, Queensland, where travellers can paint with traditional Jirrbal artists. Premier Holidays offers two popular Aboriginal experiences – an Uluru base walk and a visit to Tjapukai Cultural Park in Northern Queensland where age-old ceremonies are brought to life. Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia is owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC) and all profits from its tourism projects and resorts, like the exclusive Longitude 131° near Uluru, are reinvested into indigenous training and development across Australia.

ALL IMAGES ARE COURTESY OF TOURISM AUSTRALIA

Perfect ten Bike it: In New South Wales take a quad bike or hummer cultural tour of the dunes operated by the Worimi Local Aboriginal Land Council (worimi.org.au). Walk the ranges: Stay at Wilpena Pound Resort (wilpenapound.com.au), in South Australia’s Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park and take an Aboriginal-guided walk. Learn to spear fish: Remote Kooljaman Camp (kooljaman.com.au) in Cape Leveque, WA, is run by the Bardi Jawi Communities. Spear fish, go mud crabbing, or bird/whale spotting. Try bush tucker: Taste foods like kangaroo and crocodile during a three-course bush dinner at Uluru on Great Rail’s Australia & The Ghan tour (greatrail.com). Get behind the city: Take an Aboriginal Heritage Tour of The Rocks, Sydney, and learn about its pre-urban significance with Dreamtime Southern X (dreamtimesouthernx.com.au). Take a sacred-site safari: Discover rock art, billabongs and rainforest at Mt Borradile sacred site with Davidson’s Arnhemland safaris (arnhemland-safaris.com). Walk on the wild side: Spend four days on the Wukalina Walk (wukalinawalk.com.au) in Tasmania, sleeping in domed huts like those

once used by the Palawa people. Stage set: See how Aboriginal and British ways of life collided in the 19th century with dramatic reconstructions from Spirits Red Sand, Queensland (piritsredsand.com). Herbal high: Discover traditional uses for plants on an Aboriginal Heritage Walk at Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens (rbg.vic.gov.au). Meditate to music: Take part in didgeridoo campfire meditation and meal on a camping tour with Wula Gura Nyinda Eco Adventures at Shark’s Bay, WA (wulagura.com.au).

What’s new  Events: The Commonwealth Games come to the Gold Coast (gc2018.com) in April. Major infrastructure projects include a Cultural Precinct, which will host festivals, concerts and more. The Tjungu Festival returns to Ayers Rock Resort (ayersrockresort.com.au) on April 26-29 with indigenous music, dance, fashion, food, sport and more. Nearby, vast art installation Field of Light Uluru by Bruce Munro (brucemunro.co.uk) has been extended until December 31 2020.  New product: North Queensland newcomers Kinrara Expeditions (kinraraexpeditions.com.au) operate in the national park of the same name, with tailored five-day tours from MacEacherns Camp cattle station. Great Rail Journey’s Australia & the Ghan tour is 25 years old. The 23-day adventure includes the Great Barrier Reef, Blue Mountains and Uluru. Inspiring Journeys’ (trafalgar.com/uk) new Victoria’s Hidden Gems tour includes indigenous experiences in the Grampians. Premier’s (premierholidays.co.uk) new three-night tour Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road also takes in Philip Island. New excursions include a Whitsunday Crocodile Safari with bush barbecue.  Airlines: The historic non-stop Perth flight from Qantas (qantas.com) starts in March. Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com) will resume direct flights between Kuala Lumpur and Brisbane from June 6.  Accommodation: New luxury lodge Mount

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Mulligan Station (mountmulligan.com) can host up to Experiences campaign, which captures the diversity 24 guests in outback North Queensland while of Aboriginal activities, tours and accommodation in Freycinet Lodge (freycinetlodge.com.au), Tasmania, every state and territory in a single online resource. unveils new luxury pavilions this month with “Aboriginal Australia is comprised of hundreds of an environmentallyseparate, independent conscious design. Aboriginal nations, A 312-room W Hotel distinguished by 250 “Aboriginal Australia is (starwoodhotels.com) will open language groups and comprised of hundreds in Brisbane in March. more than 700 different of separate nations, Churchill Island, dialects, meaning that connectced to Philip meaning that the diversity the diversity of Aboriginal Island, (penguins.org.au) has experiences available to of experiences available introduced family-friendly travellers is truly endless.” to travellers is truly glamping weekends. Denise von Wald, Tourism Australia Regional endless” Tourism talk General Manager, UK/ “Connecting Northern Europe with indigenous culture is increasingly Where to book it important for UK travellers and is a vital  G ADVENTURES – 0344 272 2060 part of any truly authentic Australian experience. In The Best of the Red Centre and Eastern 2017, around 20% of Brits included an Indigenous Australia 25-day tour starts from £4,799pp experience in their Australian trip, which was a (excluding flights). Travelling Melbourne to jump of more than 10% over 2016. It’s is especially Sydney, indigenous experiences include painting important to first-time visitors, with 30% adding an with Jirrbal artists and an interpretive walk Indigenous experience. through Daintree Rainforest. gadventures.co.uk  “We’ve launched our new Discover Aboriginal

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PREMIER HOLIDAYS

aboriginal australia

Clockwise from bottom, opposite page: A cultural tour on Adjahdura Land, South Australia; the Red Centre; painting at Uluru, Northern Territory; Echidna, Taronga Zoo, Sydney; traditional food; quad biking with the Worimi, New South Wales; Yirrganydji people play music in Queensland

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SAY G'DAY TO SYDNEY & NEW SOUTH WALES AT THE DESTINATION NSW

UK & Europe ROADSHOW 2018

MANCHESTER: 6pm on 10 May 2018 LONDON: 6pm on 14 May 2018 Meet top suppliers from the region at this fun and informative event and be in with a chance to win great prizes on the night DON’T MISS OUT – REGISTER NOW! sellingtravel.co.uk/dnswroadshow

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

TRAVEL ALBERTA / SABRINA HILL

Road tripping in . ta the Rockies, Alberge 17 pa Find out more on

VIP in Thailand GOLD MEDAL has teamed up with Thailand Tourism and Qatar Airways to offer 10 agents a place on a VIP fam trip to Thailand in June. Agents need to make a new package booking to Thailand before March 31 that includes Qatar Airways flights. The top 10 sellers overall will grab a place on the fam. In addition, the top seller of Thailand and Qatar Airways packages each month will nab ÂŁ50 Farebank Rewards. goldmedal.co.uk

Live For Travel with Global THE GLOBAL TRAVEL GROUP is running its Live For Travel campaign until the end of March. The campaign gives agents access to branded pointof-sales materials and personalised marketing tools. The operator reports a 20% growth for summer 2018 bookings and 70% for winter 2018/19. globaltravelgroup.com

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BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

New Orleans turns 300 May 10 & 14 SELLING TRAVEL DIALOUGE WITH NEW SOUTH WALES Selling Travel is planning two events - in Manchester (May 10) and London (May 14). Discover more about New South Wales, Australia, over nibbles and drinks. Some great prizes will be up for grabs too! Register online at sellingtravel.co.uk

16

NEWMARKET HOLIDAYS has partnered with the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau to celebrate the city turning 300. Agents can save ÂŁ100pp on featured tours. newmarketholidays.co.uk BARBARA CHARLTON

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BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

14

Tra i n i n g , e v e n t s a n d f a m t r i p s

Out & about with Newport Beach, BRIGHT, Wendy Wu woos trade with Latin moves ASIA specialist tour operator Wendy Wu held a party in London to officially launch its new Latin America product to the trade. The evening featured South American-themed food and drinks and live salsa dancing from a pair of fast-moving Strictly Come Dancing professionals. Agents sipped Margaritas and munched on empanadas as they listened to Product Manager Gareth Mason introduce highlights of the new programme, which incorporates nine tours as well as tailor-made product in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru, plus extensions in Uruguay and the Galapagos. Pictured is Wendy Wu with dancer. wendywutours.co.uk/agents

Macerich winner TRAVEL Counsellor Nadia Morris was the lucky winner of a £300 gift voucher, to spend at any of The Ivy Collection. The competition was run by Macerich Shopping Centers & Fashion Outlets. macerichtourism.com

A BRIGHT start to 2018

We help agents to sell destinations which are more remote, mysterious and difficult – and we are good at it!

BRIGHT (Bringing Real Information & Guaranteed High Quality Training) held two workshops in Guildford and London. Nearly 100 travel agents from 68 agencies as well as home workers attended. Pictured is Russell Wheldon, representing the Alentejo Region of Portugal and sponsor of the BRIGHT evening, with Denise Fuller and Philippa James from Not Just Travel. BRIGHT's next two events take place in Harrogate on March 6 and Birmingham on March 7. "We started the new year with an excellent turn-out from our agent colleagues," said Said Hisham Mahmoud, chairman of BRIGHT.

Wendy Wu, Founder, Wendy Wu Tours

brightconsortia.com

The Far East Luxury deal

Amazing Thailand 10nts Private Tour

Bangkok - Chiang Mai - Krabi

fr

BTDT.indd 14

£1099

pp

0208 585 4020

holidays@travelpack.com

Bali Classic Culture 9nts Private Tour

Ubud - Candidasa Lovina & more

fr

£999

pp

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BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

15

Tra i n i n g , e v e n t s a n d f a m t r i p s

Macerich, Super Break and Wendy Wu Newport Beach sales in style NEWPORT BEACH was out in force during a UK sales mission, which included the team's annual pre-BAFTA party. The California team kicked off its mission in London, with a trade event at the Mclaren showroom for around 40 trade guests. The grand finale took place at the Rosewood London where Newport Beach and the Newport Beach Film Festival hosted their annual awards show in partnership with Variety. Guests from both the entertainment and the travel industries were in attendance for the star-studded event which celebrates the best of UK talent from film, television and music. visitnewportbeach.com

Over the (honey)moon

INFINITY Travel took home the Honeymoon Planner of the Year Award at the 2018 Welsh Wedding Awards. Emma Casburn (pictured) says: "Thank you to each and every one of you who has supported Infinite Travel. We are extremely proud of this achievement being a small and independent business. This award shows that hard work along with a friendly, professional and truly personal service really do go a long way. Please send any engaged couples this way." The award was the only travel-related award given on the night. Infinitetravel.co.uk

Africa 7nts South Africa

Kruger & the Kingdoms Johannesburg - Kruger National Park - Zululand & more

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BTDT.indd 15

ÂŁ1599

pp

Super training

BOOK IN STYLE in Formby received a visit from Super Break and a training session on the operator's products. The Formby store opened at the beginning of February and is the second Book in Style store after the first opened in Southport last year. Pictured are Scott Tyrer, manager (left) and Freya McCann, Sales Executive at Super Break. The short break specialist offers regular training sessions to industry colleagues. superbreak.com

Have you enjoyed an interesting trade event or been on a trip or fam that you would like to see featured on this page? Email editorial@bmipublishing.co.uk

0208 585 4020

holidays@travelpack.com

5nts East Africa Highlights of Kenya Nairobi - Aderdares - Lake Nakuru- Masai Mara

fr

ÂŁ1899

pp

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FACE TO FACE w i t h B a r b a ra C h a r l t o n

Standing tall on the high street With a few odd ‘quietish’ days in February, we managed to get a bit of a breather. I love this time of year though, because we get all the interesting tailor-made long haul enquiries that give us the chance to really shine and stand out from the internet. Rarely is any request the same and we can all learn a bit from our research. Even if the routes are similar, the passenger will be different and that is when we can draw on our personal experiences of different properties. Being a good and experienced agent doesn’t mean that you’ve visited every hotel in the world, it means knowing exactly who to ask if you haven’t been yourself! Being an independent will always have advantages over the multiples who will struggle to get such advice, simply because they cannot use the destination specialist operators that really know their stuff.

Just as doctors make the worst patients, agents make the worst holiday customers!

So󰇻t󰇬 A󰈆ri󰈛󰇧 󰈩󰈜d!

After January’s Canada bonanza, we're getting lots of bookings for South Africa. One of the reasons we love the country so much is that it is an easy sell! Every client that has visited in the last two months has been so enthralled that they want to go back. South Africa is too big and diverse to see everything in one or even two trips, so once you have a client hooked you'll have them for years. I've chatted to agents who have had cancellations due to the water restrictions in Cape Town but I have had only a couple of concerned calls. Once we advised them they were more than happy to go, assured that they would be helping not hindering the locals, since the damage done by lost tourist rands is greater than clients having a shower. And as most people only tend to stay in the affected areas for an average of three nights, the idea of not having new towels every day and a threeminute quick shower instead of a long soak in the bath is hardly a hardship! I've just booked

South Africa myself – plus Mozambique – for my husband and I in September. It will be my fourth trip to South Africa but his first, so I'm excited to be showing him what he's been missing.

Se󰇪k 󰈜󰇳󰈨 ye 󰇷󰇭󰇧l󰇰 fi󰈡d

There are so many different experiences to be had that the only places I'm repeating are Cape Town and Franschhoek. Mozambique, however, will be a first for both of us, but I'm keen to explore the islands as a beach extension for South Africa guests as well as a stand-alone beach destination. I've only ever sold a few holidays to Mozambique so it's time to up my game! Meanwhile, Tanya can’t make her mind up where to go for some winter sunshine and has been jumping all over, from Dubai to Cyprus to the Caribbean! Just as doctors make the worst patients, travel agents surely make the worst holiday customers.

Eve󰇳󰇺 h󰈢󰇶󰇯󰈄on

 Barbara@Thesussextravelcompany.co.uk  01403 276684

Thanks to the many niche destinations, airlines and cruise companies that gave their time and expertise to support our first Travel Show. It was tricky to stage an event during our busy period, but well worthwhile! It's so important to reach out to the public and build on the success we've had in the two years since we opened. If you want to raise your business profile locally it's worth considering an event. I'm sure that it'll bring more business in and it certainly raises your profile so why not – give it a go! Happy Selling!

Bar󰇨󰇧󰈦󰈜 Cha󰇶󰇱t󰈢󰇳

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ON LOCATION

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Alberta, Canada

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"Craft beer is all the rage in Canada and Medicine Hat is a funky little town where Medicine Hat Brewing Co. is producing some tasty ales and lagers. The town's ALBERTA café culture is also blooming – my favourite caffeine fix is a gluten-free brownie at the Station Coffee Co. "On this loop a stop at Dinosaur Provincial Park is a must. This unique landscape, known as the Badlands, is home to the largest dinosaur fossil site in the world. There are options for RVs and campers. You can become a palaeontologist or just enjoy tramping the walking trails and gazing up at starry nights. "A highlight is Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. It has UNESCO status as one of the oldest and best-preserved sites of its kind. The fascinating museum built into the hill brings this ancient hunting method to life, showing how thundreds of beasts were driven over the cliff for their meat, fur and bones. "On your way back to Calgary stop into the Eau Claire Distillery for a G&T. "There really is more to Alberta than you think!"

CH

Adam Hanmer of Destination Canada UK enjoyed a Rockies road trip fam that took him away from the honeypot sights of Alberta to experience the attractions of the province’s southern regions. Here's his account of this trip: "When you say 'Canada' a lot of people instantly think of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. "They'll probably name-drop places like Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper – and no wonder because they are stunning. But the Rockies stretch more than 3,000 miles from the north of British Columbia to New Mexico in the U.S.A. and even within Alberta there is plenty to explore beyond the obvious. So instead of heading west from Calgary I went south and followed these mesmerising mountains to Southern Alberta and the Beautiful Waterton Lakes National Park. "If you want a room with a view you must stay in the truly historic Prince of Wales Hotel, which sits at the top of the lake with panoramic views. A lake cruise is a must here and I would highly recommend the Red Rock Canyon Hike which offers up stunning views of Blakiston Falls. "But there is more to Southern Alberta than Waterton, as I found out. Heading East there are two smaller parks you should check out. Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park is set in a sacred landscape that contains the largest concentration of First Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (rock paintings) on the Great Plains. "Further east, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park sits on the border with Saskatchewan, and Elkwater Lake Lodge and Resort is the perfect base to explore the mountain bike and hiking trails. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.

Main picture: Mount Vimy and Waterton Lake. Inset, from top: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology; Adam in Waterton; hiking in Waterton; craft beers in Medicine Hat; exploring the Badlands

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country profile

Namibia Namibia is a Southern African country with a difference: from its game reserves and safari lodges, to its rare wild black rhino population and a dramatic coastline and desert, says Alex Wright Top stops Fish River Canyon Second in size only to the Grand Canyon, this hiker’s paradise has an 85km route along a sandy riverbed, from Hobas to Ai-Ais. It passes rock formations and ephemeral pools. Etosha National Park Spanning 20,000-square km, this is one of Africa’s best places to see wildlife out on safari – expect lions, elephants, springboks, gemsboks and many others. Sossusvlei This vast, white salt and clay pan is set amid giant red sand dunes towering up to 325m above the valley floor. Climb these vast red waves at sunset for spectacular views with dramatic natural light. Swakopmund Sandwiched between the South Atlantic and the Namib Desert this town has old-style German architecture and a dramatic coastline which is Namibia’s unofficial adrenaline capital. Twyfelfontein Dating back to the early Stone Age, this site’s impressive rock engravings are believed to be the work of ancient San hunters and depict intricate animal tracks and geometric designs.

I feel like I’ve arrived on Mars. Unfolding as far as the eye can see is a massive red sea of sand. I have been walking for what seems like hours in this searing 35C heat, the sweat running off my forehead, but I’m still no nearer the top. Namibia’s Sossusvlei Valley is home to hundreds of towering red sand dunes swept in from the Kalahari Desert millions of years ago. Clambering up the face of one of these constantly moving giants, I feel my feet sink deeper – it is as if I’m running through treacle. But it’s all worth it when I finally reach the top, just in time to see the sun set on this magnificent landscape.

The details Although it no longer has direct flights from the UK, Namibia has established a foothold as one of Southern Africa’s most popular destinations, with UK arrivals increasing by more than 10% year on year. The average length of stay is on the rise too, currently at more than 17 nights, says the Namibia Tourism Board. As the go-to destination for wildlife and landscapes, Namibia is perfect for a self-drive or escorted group tour holiday. And Namibia’s spectacular coastline and deserts are some of the most photographed in the world. Claiming to have one quarter of the world’s cheetahs and one of the last wild black rhino populations, as well as a host of parks and safari lodges to explore, it’s a great suggestion for nature lovers. Samuel Hancock, Senior Account Director of

CHEETAH

STARK SOSSUSVLEI

the Namibia Tourism Board UK, says: “Namibia is the prime destination to sell in 2018 and offers some of the best-value wildlife watching experiences, even in popular Etosha National Park, a superlative safari destination. “Furthermore, Namibia has invested in more high-quality tourism infrastructure. From the family-friendly Skeleton Lodge to Damaraland’s luxurious Sorris Sorris Lodge, agents will have more accommodation options to offer their clients in 2018, whatever their budget or travel style.” Looking to maintain this impressive growth, the tourism board will this year launch a major incentive to promote its online training programme for agents (namibiaknowitall.com).

Dates for the diary Namibia’s biggest cultural event of the year is the Windhoek Carnival (popularly known as WIKA) in April. The big annual bash features dance and music, street parades and the crowning of the carnival prince and princess. Namibia celebrates its Independence Day on March 21, marking the day the country took back control from South Africa in 1990. Namibians take to the streets to mark the occasion with colourful parades and sports events countrywide. Beer lovers should note Windhoek’s annual Oktoberfest, held at the end of October. Participants can enjoy German traditions, games, bratwurst and large quantities of beer. For the more sporty, the Desert Ultra Marathon in November entails a gruelling 250-kilometre race. International athletes go

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head-to-head running through the harsh Namib Desert in mid-30-degree heat.

Eating Given its Germanic roots and influence, apple strudel and Black Forest cake are always high on the menu in Namibia. Game meat is another favourite, with choice cuts of eland and oryx served in some lodges. Other common dishes include ‘oshiwambo’, a spinach and beef combination, and ‘mealie pap’, a porridge. On the coast, fresh kingklip, kabeljou and shellfish are the order of the day. Most are best washed down with a bottle of refreshing, ‘naturally brewed’ Windhoek Lager. For the more adventurous, there is ‘oshikundu’, a millet based beer, or ‘mataku’, a watermelon wine.

Things to do For fabulous big game wildlife, head to Etosha National Park, which is one of Africa’s leading game reserves. Then move on to the colonial outpost of Swakopmund on the eerie Skeleton Coast. Extending 300 miles from Walvis Bay to the Kunene River and the Angola border, this bleak, fog-bound coast is scattered with shipwrecks washed up by the South Atlantic. No trip to Namibia would be complete without a visit to the sand dunes of Sossusvlei in the Namib-Naukluft Park. The more adventurous should try the mountainous deserts of Damaraland and Kaokoveld, home to the indigenous Himba people. The ghost town of Kolmanskop in the far south, abandoned after diamond-mining operations ceased half a century ago, and the 160-mile Fish River Canyon, one of Africa’s best hiking trails, are other must-visits.

New product Experience the wine, wildlife and sights of Namibia and South Africa with Great Rail

DRAMATIC ROCK FORMATIONS

Journeys (greatrail.com). Starting from £6,995pp, the 16-day Namibia & Pride of Africa tour includes six nights on the Pride of Africa visiting Kimberley and the Big Hole, Voortrekker Monument, Pretoria, Swakopmund and Windhoek. The tour departs on April 10 2018 and April 9 2019. Julian Appleyard, Commercial Director at Great Rail Journeys, said: “Namibia is a must-see destination. There is so much in this country. Deserts are often overlooked due to their harsh environments but I feel the Namib desert has so much to offer. “My favourite destination on this trip is the Sossusvlei. It is Namibia’s most famous landmark and the included desert drive and bush dinner really lets guests get a feel for this harsh environment.” Newcomer Discover the World (discover-theworld.co.uk) is offering the chance to get behind the wheel and explore the real Namibia. The 12-day Essential Namibia SelfDrive, which starts at £1,300pp, includes accommodation and car hire. 

“There’s never been a better time to climb the highest sand dunes in the world, descend to the floor of the deepest canyon in Africa, meet the nomadic Himba people and explore the oldest desert in the world” Samuel Hancock, Senior Account Director, Namibia Tourism Board UK

BOOK IT WITH TRAVEL 2

HIMBA GIRL

From £2,319pp, Namibia Highlights includes nine nights’ accommodation, eight breakfasts, a shared tour by air-conditioned vehicle, English-speaking guide, transfers, sightseeing and game drives. The route includes Windhoek, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland and Etosha National Park. Travel on May 21 2018. travel2.com; 0800 0224 182

THE SKELETON COAST

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malta

cache cultural

Malta has never been so diverse in its outlook and is now attracting a mixed crowd of youthful festivalgoers and older culture aficionados. Kathryn Liston finds out more

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malta

21

T

he ochre ramparts of the ‘Silent City’ glow before us as my rental car makes its steep ascent. Located high on a hill in the centre of the island, the romantic city of Mdina is a place I never tire of. When you pass through the impressive Baroque Mdina Gate you step back 4,000 years to a time when medieval knights patrolled the narrow streets of Malta’s first capital. The lamp-lit labyrinth is even more magical at night. I weave my way through winding streets admiring beautifully-coloured Murano glass decorating shop windows on the way to St Paul’s Cathedral, whose cool interior offers respite from the scorching summer sun. Outside there are palazzos to explore, including 13th-century Palazzo Falson which houses an impressive art and antiques collection. My final stop is always the Fontanella Tea Garden, located high atop the city walls, where stuffed ftira flatbreads and slabs of gooey gateau are as ginormous as the views over the Malta plains towards the sea.

climate provide an ideal city break location. Peter Vella, Director UK & Ireland, Malta All eyes this year are on Malta’s Tourism Authority, says Valletta now stands capital Valletta, as it celebrates 2018 alongside cities such as Prague as a fantastic as European Capital of Culture. city break destination. Its success in winter But it’s not only 2016/17 led to a culture that is expected 40% and 20% rise in “Malta is great for the youth three- and five-night to drive visitor numbers. New luxury market, particularly around bookings respectively, hotels, a gastronomy we expect a St Julian’s. The Isle of MTV “and trail and flights from similar trend this festival in June will welcome year,” he says. Belfast, Manchester and UK regional Super Break has performers like Clean airports are tapping launched three- and Bandit and Wiz Khalifa” into new markets. four-night charter Lauren Ross, Simply Luxury by Travel 2 It’s for good breaks in May and reason that June from six regional Lonely Planet has also included Malta in airports without direct Malta flights. They are its top 10 destinations to visit in 2018. Humberside, Norwich, Durham Tees Valley, A €48 million programme of 400-plus Bournemouth, Exeter and Cardiff. Prices start concerts, cultural events and exhibitions will from £549 for three nights (£599 four nights) take place throughout the year in Valletta, and include flights, accommodation, luggage, whose historic sights and warm year-round transfers and excursions to Gozo and Mdina. Julie Pinkney, Customer Experience Director, says: “We have handpicked airports where we can bring direct flights to destinations that are not currently available. This gives agents something unique to sell.” Peter Cox, Purchasing Manager, Classic Collection Holidays, says hotels in Valletta are selling well. The operator features the Excelsior Grand, The Phoenicia, which reopened last year after a two-year refurbishment, and the newly-opened St John Boutique Hotel. The Holiday Place tips Malta as the next hot place for young travellers thanks to its music festivals. Annie Mac’s Lost & Found dance and music festival returns on May 3-6 with

City spotlight

Main picture: a doorway in the ancient city of Mdina. This page, clockwise from top: Mdina seen from a distance; a retro bus; the Blue Lagoon on Camino Island

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malta

includes a trip to The Malta Experience, welcome drink, gift and shuttle service to and from Valletta. It costs €120 a night. Holiday Inn Express has opened in St Julian’s with wifi and breakfast included in the rates which start from €55.29 a night.  Car hire: Green Motion (greenmotion.com) has opened a desk at Malta International Airport following steady growth over the last three years. It operates in 30 countries.  Awards: Malta has been voted the second best diving destination in the world for the second consecutive year by Diver Magazine.

Tourism talk “We are proud to be a welcoming, inclusive destination for all. The past two years have seen Malta top the European Rainbow Index for its commitment to LGBTQ rights and gay marriage was legalised last year. With our capital Valletta being the European Capital of Culture 2018, we expect to see more people visit the city for a long weekend to American DJ Diplo and musician Jamie xx, experience Maltese culture. New flight routes from night-long castle raves and boat parties. Tickets Belfast and Manchester launch this summer, cost from £119. Alternative music festival, Rock making Malta even more accessible.” the South, will take Peter Vella, Director place April 21-22. UK & Ireland, Malta “The island’s appeal is Malta’s new Gastro Tourism Authority Trail is the first of widening: culture, history, a series of themed maritime, walking, cuisine Where to trails. It features and nightlife – Paceville is book it restaurants, bars,  MERCURY farms and wineries one of the most popular HOLIDAYS – across Malta and Gozo, club scenes in Europe” 0800 781 4893 including the San Peter Cox, Classic Collection Holidays A three-night break Cremona Olive Estate, at the five-star The which is reintroducing Phoenicia, Valletta, B&B costs from £340pp indigenous olives to Malta, and the Ta’ with flights from London Luton and transfers. Rikardu cheese-making experience.

What’s new

Clockwise from top: the port of Marsaxlokk at sunset; Valletta, European Capital of Culture 2018

 Flights: jet2.com will operate flights from Belfast International Airport to Malta this summer. The weekly service starts on April 5 with fares from £66 one-way. Ryanair (ryanair. com) started Belfast-Malta flights last October. Air Malta (airmalta.com) will reintroduce weekly flights from Manchester to Malta this summer.  Hotels: The luxury all-suite Cugó Gran Macina Grand Harbour (cugogranmalta.com)boutique hotel has opened in a 16th century building in Senglea (Three Cities) with views over Valletta’s Grand Harbour. Rooms from €215 a night. The Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa (maritim. com) Mellieha, has been totally refurbished and a two-floor 50-room extension added. The spa has a new sauna and a rooftop terrace provides sea views. Corinthia Palace Hotel (corinthia.com) has launched a European Capital of Culture package which

mercuryholidays.co.uk

 THE HOLIDAY PLACE – 080 7644 1770 Seven nights at the Westin Dragonara Resort, St Julians, costs from £689pp and includes B&B accommodation and flights. holidayplace.co.uk 

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GDS | TRAINING | REWARDS

Training, competitions, events March 2018

THIS MONTH'S TOP STORIES

Hot Jumeirah hotel NEWS

Quick Quiz Are you an Ontario Expert?

1. Ontario is home to two capitals. One is federal and the other provincial. TRUE / FALSE

JUMEIRAH GROUP will open Zabeel House by Jumeirah Al Seef this spring. Located on the banks of Dubai's historic Dubai Creek, it's the first of Jumeirah’s ‘Upscale-Casual’ collection. It has design-led spaces, which it describes as 'moderately-priced but comfortable rooms with just enough added extras, and welcoming but unobtrusive staff – basics done brilliantly.' A smaller version, Zabeel House MIN, is due to open next door. jumeirahbeacon.com

Hot Incentive

Sell and visit Jamaica!

2. Ontario is bigger than France and Spain combined at over 1 million km2. TRUE / FALSE

Jamaica Travel Specialist I Modules: 2

jamaicatravelspecialist.co.uk

ROADSHOW

THE AMAZING Thailand Road Show will be dropping by six UK cities in 2018. These exciting evenings will include delicious Thai food, Thai beers and the opportunity to win an allexpenses paid fam trip, amongst other prizes. The events quickly book out, so confirm your place as soon as possible by emailing marketing@tourismthailand.co.uk.

The show will visit York on March 13, Sheffield (March 14), Cardiff (March 24), Bristol (April 25), Jersey (September 4 )and Guernsey (September 5). training.tourismthailand.co.uk discoverontarioagent.com

Answers: 1: True 2: True

THE JAMAICA Tourist Board (JTB) has kicked off its 'Sell It & See It' campaign, offering travel agents the chance to win one of 50 spaces on educational trips to the island in 2018. To be in with a chance of winning agents need to verify they are active on the MyBookingRewards system by sending the word 'Message' through Jamaica Rewards with updated contact details by March 29. Verified agents will put themselves in the frame to win rewards and to be a top-selling agent for 2018, in the process qualifying for the annual Jamaica White Affair and educational trips. The tourist board is also offering each agent £1 for every 20 points earned to date.

Thailand on the road

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Training courses to help travel agents and advisers sell more!

Viva Las Vegas

COURSE LIST

NEWS

LAS VEGAS is, as always, forever adding brand-new shows and performances. One of its latest offerings is The Voice: Neon Dreams live concert, due to open in June at a new venue located at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The show is the live concert event marking the next step in the musical journey of the artists featured in the TV programme. A cast of Voice stars will deliver performances featuring chart toppers from the world of rock, pop and country. The show will also include an interactive pre-show experience. lasvegasvirtuoso.com

New Deals

Travel 2 boosts luxury offering

Travel 2 Academy I T2 Rewards

Save on Switzerland OFFER

NEWMARKET Holidays has a 'buy one, get one half-price' offer on a selection of Rhine cruises aboard its ship MS Olympia. Agents need to book before March 15 for the summer southbound Romantic Rhine Cruise to Switzerland (nine days from £1,509) and north-bound Stunning Switzerland & the Majestic Rhine (nine days from £1,529), both taking in the Rhine Gorge and the chance to join an excursion to Lucerne. Agents can claim on bookings made between February 15 and March 15, quoting the promotion code ‘FEBRCS’. training.newmarketholidays.co.uk

Working in partnership

TRAVEL 2 has expanded the European offering of its Simply Luxury Brand which features new destinations and a wider choice of holidays. Coverage of Greece and Turkey has been enhanced, with properties in Corfu, Crete, Halkidiki and the Antalya region. Highlights include the Ikos Dassia in Corfu. Switzerland and Montenegro are new for 2018, as is the Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel in Boko Bay, Giardino Ascona in Lake Maggiore and the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Hotel in Montreux. Simply Luxury has also responded to demand for city-break options with new hotels in Valencia, Seville, Bruges and more. Travel agents making any Simply Luxury bookings can earn up to £50 in rewards. t2academy.co.uk

A-Z of available courses ABTA Alaska Amtrak Vacations Anguilla Antigua & Barbuda Aruba Beaches Resorts Boucan Hotel Chocolat Bourne Leisure Butlins Caribbean Tourism Centara Hotels & Resorts Cirque de Soleile Corsican | Sardinian Places Cruise Adviser Elegant Hotels Essential Detail Flanders Florida Fort Myers & Sanibel Gambia Goa Experience GDS Haven Hotels Hawaii Heritage Resort Insider Journeys Jerusalem Jewel Resorts Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts Kenya Las Vegas Macao Malaysia New York Namibia Newmarket Holidays Ontario Qatar Railbookers SAGA Saint Lucia Sandals Resorts Serenity Holidays Seychelles Simon Malls Solus St Kitts Tenerife Thailand TIPTO Travel 2 Turks & Caicos US Airtours Veranda Resorts Virgin Limited Edition Voyages SNCF Warner Leisure Hotels Windjammer Landing Hotel Your Car Hire traveluni.com

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six of the best

what’s hot in 2018

2

St. Kitts

ST. KIT TS

4 3 6

5 1

With some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, a lush interior and restaurants with views to ‘die for’ St. Kitts is on a roll, says Steve Hartridge

Park Hyatt St. Kitts

Restaurant Week

Christophe Harbour

This new hotel has brought its brand of five-star luxury to the Christophe Harbour development on Banana Bay, on a still-pristine part of the island. 126 guest rooms, including 48 suites, some with individual rooftop swimming pools, look down on one of the island’s picture-postcard beaches. Facilities include three restaurants, a spa, watersports and the Island Fort by Camp Hyatt, which offers activities for those aged between three and 12.

The fourth annual St. Kitts & Nevis Restaurant Week, which this year takes place between July 20-29, sees restaurants on both islands offering special fixed price dinner menus and lunchtime specials. The reduced-price offers showcase the best and most creative cuisines. The participating restaurants are a diverse mix and include The Verandah at Ocean Terrace Inn, Marshall’s and Spice Mill, as well as Sunshines Beach Bar and Grill in Nevis.

Hand-crafted cocktails, island delicacies and the best sunsets on the island are the draw cards at SALT Plage, one of the Caribbean’s top beach bars. Barefoot sophistication and relaxation are on offer at this venue on Whitehouse Bay, with guests invited to enjoy their drinks in a couch on the pier or recharge on hammocks hung over the water. New for this year is the Sunday Sunset Buffet, which features food, live music and a Mojito bar.

parkhyattstkitts.com

restaurantweek.kn

christopheharbour.com

Helicopter Adventures

St. Kitts Music Festival

Cricket Lovely Cricket

The 22nd staging of the island’s biggest musical event takes place June 28-30. The festival, which acts as a showcase for Kittitian talent and to expose local performers to visiting artists, promoters and tourists, has dedicated theme nights devoted to Soca/Calypso, Reggae, R&B and Gospel. Top artists lined up to perform this year include headliners Patti La Belle and Lauryn Hill.

Cricket is just as synonymous with the Caribbean as reggae and rum cocktails. The St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots play in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) T20, with home matches taking place at Warner Park Stadium in Basseterre. Last year the Patriots reached the final and anticipation is building for this year’s tournament, which runs from August 8 to September 16.

heliskb.com

stkittsmusicfestival.net

cplT20.com

ST. KIT TS TOURISM AUTHORITY

St. Kitts’ natural beauty, with its rainforested mountains and beaches of white, gray and black sands, is most evident when seen from above. Helicopter tours – lasting from 10 (for the City Tour) to 40 minutes (Twin Volcano Tour) – take in highlights such as Brimstone Hill Fortress, Mount Liamuiga, Basseterre, Frigate Bay and Cockleshell Beach. Prices range from US$99pp for the shortest tour to US$399 for the longest.

FIND OUT MORE AT: stkittstourism.kn

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Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour is a new luxurious beachfront resort, situated in the most natural and untouched region of this beautiful Caribbean island. The resort features 126 well-appointed accommodations facing towards the beach and Caribbean Sea as well as the Miraval Life in Balance Spa and three signature restaurants. Book before March 31 and receive four nights for the price of three, complimentary breakfast and a room upgrade. Subject to availability, terms and conditions apply. Book via your preferred tour operator.

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flights to northeast asia

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T eastern

delights Connectivity to Northeast Asia, with the neon pinboard of urban China at its heart, is on the rise, and also acting as a link to Southeast Asia and Down Under. Ben Lerwill explains

hey may be half a world away on the map but the key Northeast Asia air hubs aren’t hard to reach. From Beijing to Tokyo and from Hong Kong to Seoul, the region’s big-name cities are all served by multiple direct flight options from the UK, many of them operating several times a day. This level of connectivity is likely only to increase. Recent route launches such as China Airlines’ Gatwick-Taipei service have been complemented by an overall rise in Northeast Asia’s popularity as a travel destination. “More Brits are travelling to the region, as evidenced by our own sales and official statistics,” says John Warr, Global Sales Director of Wendy Wu Tours. “It’s becoming more accessible and flight costs are in keeping with the the distance flown – more expensive than Europe but less than Australia!” The CEO of Norwegian Air, Bjorn Kjos, recently announced he wanted to expand his airline’s non-stop offering from the UK to include Tokyo and Beijing, while Finnair has also unveiled ambitious plans to drive the number of its flights between Europe and Asia, having lately increased the frequency of several of its services to the region. And in the view of Matt Spiller, Agent Sales manager of InsideAsia Tours, the demand is very much there, with Japan being indicative of a wider trend. “Japan has seen a huge increase in popularity, and demand from the trade has also kept on trend,” he says. “2017 saw close to a 40% increase in sales on 2016 for us, and January 2018 is already 40% up on the same month in 2017.” Turn over for a map of direct flights from the UK and a run-down of the region’s hubs, with the best of the in-direct flights and regional carriers too.

The bamboo forest, Kyoto. Above: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

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Beijing • • • •

Chongqing •

Air China twice daily from Heathrow Virgin Atlantic twice daily from Heathrow (flown by Air China) British Airways daily from Heathrow Hainan Airlines four times a week from Manchester

CHINA

Tianjin Airlines twice weekly from Gatwick

Chongqing

Qingdao •

Guangzhou •

Beijing Capital Airlines twice weekly from Heathrow

China Southern daily from Heathrow

Wuhan •

China Southern Airlines three times weekly from Heathrow (Service begins May 30, 2018)

Hong Kong •

• •

Cathay Pacific 35 times a week from Heathrow, daily from Gatwick, daily from Manchester British Airways twice daily from Heathrow Virgin Atlantic daily from Heathrow

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Beijing

31

Incheon (for Seoul) • • •

Korean Air daily from Heathrow Asiana Airlines daily from Heathrow British Airways daily from Heathrow

JAPAN

Seoul

Tokyo Qingdao

Shanghai

SOUTH KOREA Tokyo •

Shanghai • • • •

British Airways ten times weekly from Heathrow China Eastern daily from Heathrow Virgin Atlantic daily from Heathrow Air China daily from Heathrow (flown by Virgin Atlantic)

Japan Airlines four times daily from Heathrow (including two flown by British Airways) British Airways four times daily from Heathrow (including two flown by Japan Airlines) ANA daily from Heathrow

Taipei Guangzhou

Hong Kong

TAIWAN

Taipei •

China Airlines four times weekly (five times weekly from 25 March) from Gatwick

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flights to northeast asia

China

Above, clockwise from top left: The Great Wall of China near Beijing; Qingdao Bay; the Portuguese-style architecture of Macao; Hong Kong’s Big Buddha; shopping in Shanghai

There will soon be six cities in mainland China serviced by regular direct flights from the UK: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Qingdao and Wuhan. All services depart from Heathrow, with the exception of Tianjin Airlines’ (tianjinairlines.co.uk) Gatwick-Chongqing route and Hainan Airlines’ (hainanairlines.com) Manchester-Beijing route. Flights typically take between 10 and 11½ hours. The newest, China Southern Airline’s (global.csair.com) Heathrow-Wuhan service, takes off on May 30. British Airways stopped its non-stop LondonChengdu service last year, but the overall outlook for UK-China flights is a positive one. Authorities agreed a fresh deal in December to increase the number of permitted passenger flights between the two countries by 50%, to 150 per week. The existing routes all hold appeal for corporate travellers, but leisure travel is also on the up. Beijing and Shanghai in particular – one full of magnificent imperial treasures, the other buzzing with old-meetsnew dynamism – are magnets for cultural tourists, as well as being established gateways to attractions elsewhere in the country. A number of lesser-known airlines fly between Britain and China too. On their respective UK-China routes, China Eastern (uk.ceair.com)

operates a three-class service on Boeing 737s (and offer onboard wifi), China Southern (csair. com) operates a three-class service on Boeing 787s, while Tianjin Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines (intl.jdair.net) all operate a two-class service on Airbus 330s. All provide meals and seatback entertainment as standard. Indirect flights: One-stop options include Beijing via Abu Dhabi with Etihad, Shanghai via Amsterdam with KLM, Shanghai via Dubai with Emirates or Beijing via Kazakhstan with Air Astana, which will offer daily, non-stop flights from London to Astana from June 1 and has an innovative Economy Sleeper option, giving passengers a full row to lie out with a mattress on plus Business Class privileges like lounge access. Finnair will soon offer services via Helsinki to Nanjing, Xian and more.

Hong Kong A flight time of around 11½ hours links the UK with the super-sized neon jungle that is Hong Kong. Full of street-level atmosphere and bold modern architecture, it’s a city packed with diverting activities, good food and cultural sights. There’s ample choice of direct flights from the UK, with Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific. com) alone offering 49 services a week. Demand looks likely to continue too, with Gatwick recently announcing a 42.4% year-on-year increase in passengers to Hong Kong.

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The presence of a number of multinational companies in Hong Kong sees it draw large numbers of both business travellers and leisure visitors. And in addition to the existing services, it’s also been reported that the fast-expanding Hong Kong Airlines – based in the city – will be introducing non-stop flights to London later this year, as well as to New York and San Francisco. Indirect flights: One-stop options from the UK are numerous, including via Mumbai with Jet Airways, via Helsinki with Finnair, via Emirates with Dubai and via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines. Two-stop options exist with Air Astana.

Macao There are no direct flights between the UK and Macao – a situation which is unlikely to change anytime soon – but the Portuguese colony is still simple to visit. Access via neighbouring Hong Kong is the most obvious way of getting there, with two companies running regular ferry services across the Pearl River Estuary. The journey takes as little as 55 minutes. This year is due to see the completion of the multibillion-dollar Hong Kong-ZhuhaiMacao Bridge, which will provide a direct road link between Hong Kong Airport and Macao. The destination itself is famous for its rich cultural mix of Chinese and European influences, as well as its Vegas-style casinos. Indirect flights: Macao has its own international airport so there are plenty of one-stop options for Brits wishing to arrive by air. Hubs such as Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Bangkok all connect tp Macao.

Korea Seoul’s Incheon International Airport unveiled a new second terminal in January to coincide with the Winter Olympics. The airport currently handles direct daily flights from Heathrow with three different airlines, including both countries’ respective national carriers and the Korea-based Star Alliance member Air Asiana (flyasiana.com). Flight time from the UK is around 11 hours. Seoul itself is an economic powerhouse and immersive destination, full of sharp technology, teeming markets and colourful festivals. Indirect flights: Plenty of European airlines offer flights to Seoul: via Paris with Air France, via Warsaw with LOT, via Moscow with Aeroflot and via Helsinki with Finnair.

Japan Japan Airlines (jal.com) is investing $10 million into developing a new-generation supersonic aircraft – there’s talk of it entering service in the mid-2020s. This sense of ambition and futurism sums up what makes Japan such a special travel proposition. There’s arguably nowhere on the planet quite so as hyper-modern as Tokyo, but the country also clings tightly to its timehonoured traditions. It all makes for a thrilling place to visit. Japan Airlines, British Airways and ANA (ana.co.jp) all offer direct services from Heathrow to Tokyo – some flights arrive into Tokyo Narita Airport, while others arrive into Tokyo Haneda Airport. The former is larger, the latter is closer to the city. Indirect services: Various options exist for British travellers looking to save money (or otherwise benefit) by taking a one-stop service to Tokyo. These include via Rome or Milan with Alitalia, via Istanbul with Turkish Airlines and via Moscow with Aeroflot.

Mongolia This adventure-packed, under-visited and hauntingly beautiful country made it onto Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel list for 2017, partly thanks to the work taking place on a major

Clockwise from top left: a Chinese Buddhist temple in Macao; Japan’s Mount Fuji; Taiwanese bao buns; Mongolian national costume; Beijing’s fabulous Forbidden City

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new international airport for capital city Ulaanbataar. The facility recently announced a scheduled opening date of 2019 – although whether it results in any direct flights from the UK remains to be seen. Indirect services: Brits wanting to experience Mongolia’s vast landscapes and nomadic cultures can reach the country without much problem. One-stop services include via Moscow with Aeroflot, via Seoul with Korean Air and via Beijing with Air China.

Taiwan

Above: The mountain town of Jiufen, Taiwan. Right: Guangzhou Opera House, China

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China Airlines launched a direct Gatwick-Taipei route in December 2017, initially flying four times a week into the Taiwanese capital but increasing to five times weekly in March. It’s a positive move for the destination, which welcomed more than 60,000 British holidaymakers for the first time last year. People tend to visit

for the natural scenery of the countryside, the urban buzz of Taipei, the excellent food and a cultural offering – from hot-spring resorts to aboriginal festivals. Indirect services: EVA Air serves Taipei from Heathrow with a stopover in Bangkok. It’s also possible for Brits to reach Taiwan via Hanoi with Vietnam Airlines, via Dubai with Emirates and via Amsterdam with KLM.

Regional services Northeast Asia is well served by regional flights, with China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan all home to multiple regional airlines, making it simple to get from one hub to another, or to travel domestically. Key regional carriers include Juneyao Airlinesand China Express Airlines in China, Cathay Dragon and Hong Kong Airlines in Hong Kong, ANA Wings in Japan and UNI Air in Taiwan. 

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Talking...

Vivid Sydney Q

MES D E S T I N AT I O N N S W / J A

HOR

AN

In conversation with... Sandra Chipchase, CEO Destination New South Wales and Executive Producer of Vivid Sydney

What’s the history of Vivid Sydney ? A: The event (May 25-June 16, 2018) is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW. It transforms the Harbour City with its large-scale light installations and projections, live music, creative ideas, discussion and debate. It was established in 2009 with the aim of attracting more visitors to Sydney during the traditionally quieter winter. In its first year Vivid welcomed 225,000 attendees and has continued to grow, with 2.33 million from Australia and across the world in 2017. Travel packaging continues to increase visitation to the festival and on to regional NSW. In 2017, 592 Vivid Sydney travel packages were sold to UK visitors.

Q

How and why should agents persuade their clients to visit during Vivid Sydney? A: This year is Vivid’s tenth anniversary and promises to be the biggest festival to date. Sydney’s winter is generally mild so visitors can explore the city by day in the sunshine, enjoying cultural events, arts exhibitions and world-class galleries, sporting matches, luxury shopping and the world’s best sightseeing and attractions – there’s never a shortage of things to do! By night, they can roam the city comfortably while experiencing the spectacle of the festival. Regional NSW is so easily accessible from Sydney, whether it’s a visit to the breathtaking Blue Mountains, wine tasting in the Hunter Valley or a coastal road trip to Byron Bay, there’s plenty across the state to cater for every desire.

Q

How does Vivid Sydney change the city’s atmosphere? A: Sydney is amazing year round but throughout Vivid Sydney it’s truly magical, inspiring and colourful! Amazing art installations and creative projections transform Sydney’s architecture and open spaces along the Harbour foreshore, painting the Harbour City in a canvas of light. The contemporary music programme features collaborations and performances from local and international acts in Sydney’s best music venues, and Vivid Ideas provides a forum for creative discussion, inviting industries to collaborate, foster business connections and showcase new ideas. There is a real sense of inspiration and creativity in the air.

“Vivid Sydney showcases the city’s incredible built and natural environment to a global audience, placing it on the world stage. It’s Australia’s biggest event and the largest festival of its kind in the world”

Q

How can visitors get the most out of Vivid W Sydney? NS N IO AT N I A: Every year, Vivid Sydney T DES continues to grow bigger and brighter. There’s always something new and exciting to explore: the Vivid Light Walk footprint stretches across the iconic Sydney Harbour to Taronga Zoo, our music venues pulsate with live performances, and creative leaders and innovators share their visions at seminars, workshops and conferences all over the city. Visitors will never be able to see and experience everything in one night – so we encourage guests to start planning their trip early and take the time to explore different precincts over several nights, and soak up the magic and excitement of the festival. 

BOOK IT WITH TRAVEL 2 A 10-day Vivid Sydney and Vineyards self-drive includes flights with Qantas, six nights at the fourstar Vibe Hotel Sydney, Vivid Sydney at Taronga Zoo, Vivid BridgeClimb and Captain Cook Vivid Cruise and a four-day self-drive with ATS and Avis to the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains. Priced from £1649pp, flights are from London. travel2.com

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top ten

spanish cities

Bored with Barcelona? Seen enough of Seville? Meh about Madrid? Laura Gelder looks at some alternative Spanish city breaks

Toledo: Once dubbed ‘the city of three cultures’, this dramatically-poised city curves around the steep sides of the Tagus River. It was, legend has it, a Middle Ages utopia where Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities peacefully coexisted. Explore Gothic churches, ornately carved synagogues, arched mosques and the Alcázar palace. Murcia: On the banks of the Segura River, this unassuming university city is known for its excellent local produce, especially its vegetables. The plazas and courtyards of the old town are filled with orange and lemon trees and the city’s tapas is celebrated. Main tourist attractions include the Castle of Montegudo, an 11th century Arab Fortress. Zaragoza: Ninety minutes from Madrid and three from Barcelona, lying in a desert valley beneath the Pyrenees, Zaragoza has stunning architecture (not least the onion-domed Pilar Basilica but also Roman ruins and a Moorish castle), oodles of art

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(Francisco de Goya was born close by) and a great tapas scene. Girona: Look north from Barcelona to this 14th century walled city, pleasantly slower-paced and conveniently compact. Instagrammers will love snapping the rainbow-coloured houses reflecting into the Onyar River and Game of Thrones fans can spot film locations including Girona Cathedral. A highlight is the Dalí Museum, with its wacky pink studded walls and egg-topped roof. San Sebastian: This Atlantic seaside resort is the Basque Country’s culinary capital and boasts multiple Michelin stars amongst its huge selection of cheap and cheerful pintxos bars which patrons hop happily between, sampling the bite-size snacks. Elegant Belle Époque and Art Noveau architecture dominates the town, which is spread around two crescent smiles of golden sand backed by green hills. Surfers ply the waves while others just watch and sip the local cider.

Cadiz: This crumbling, salt-dashed Atlantic port city is the oldest in western Europe. Its ancient walls hug medieval churches, Arabic forts, watchtowers, palaces, bodegas and fish restaurants. With 300 days of sunshine a year on the Costa de la Luz, heat-hungry Brits won’t be disappointed. And with its palm-tree lined port and distressed waterfront castles it’s no wonder Cadiz stood in for Havana in the Bond film Die Another Day. Leon: Crowned Gastronomic Capital of Spain 2018, León is one of those Spanish cities where many bars still offer a free tapa with your drink. The city serves a great variety of local dishes like suckling pig, roast lamb, Valderón cheese and botillo (meat-stuffed pork intestine). The picturesque old quarter, Barrio Húmedo, is alive with revelry at night. Salamanca: Besieged by Hannibal then ruled by Rome, University city Salamanca is like the Oxford of Spain, but its own dreaming sandstone spires are bathed in the region’s

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ubiquitous warm sunlight by day and magical lamp light by night. The whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its Plaza Major is often voted Spain’s most magnificent. Palma: Tourists flock to Majorca for its sun-soaked rocky bays and its twisting inland roads, which are a favourite of cyclists, but the capital somehow flies under the radar. The huge Gothic cathedral stands out over this honey-hued city, which is packed with luxury boutique hotels, trendy bars and restaurants and art and craft galleries. The ancient passages of the old town lead to seafront promenades and one of the Med’s most flashy marinas. Granada: Famous for its Moorish palace, the Alhambra, Grenada is often overshadowed by its more polished neighbour Seville. But visitors who linger longer in this gritty white-washed hillside city will find atmospheric streets, flamenco bars and surreal street art. The looming Sierra Nevada mountains tempt hikers in summer and skiiers in winter. 

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six of the best

new

Business cabins

Airlines are upping their game in Business Class and implementing ever-more tempting upgrades. Andy Hoskins looks at developments when turning left Delta Air Lines Delta claimed it was "redefining Business Class travel" when it launched Delta One suites last year. The product includes sliding privacy doors and 18-inch TV screens. It is currently onboard some A350 aircraft on selected routes but will also be introduced on Delta’s B777s. delta.com

Lufthansa Lufthansa’s new Business Class takes to the skies in 2020 when it rolls-out its B7779 aircraft. Seats will be in a 1-2-1 and 1-1-1 configuration, giving passengers a choice of longer beds or seats with double desk space. The convertible middle seat has a thronestyle layout with two surfaces either side. lufthansa.com

Qatar Airways Qsuites enable four passengers travelling together to open up their pairs of aft and forwardfacing seats to dine or work together in a ‘quad’. Pairs of central seats also convert into double beds. Media panels have power ports with USB, HDMI and NFC capabilities. The product debuted on a B777 London-Doha flight last summer. qatarairways.com

Singapore Airlines The airline has spent four years and $850million developing new cabins for its fleet of Airbus A380s. Dividing panels that lower to form a double bed across the central seats is ‘comfortably’ the most notable development but there’s also an 18-inch HD touchscreen monitor with noisecancelling headphones. singaporeair.com

United Airlines The roll-out of United’s Polaris seats is gathering pace with the product now onboard various B777-300ER and B767-300ER aircraft. It joins perks such as enhanced dining and Saks Fifth Avenue bedding that were introduced after the summer 2016 launch of Polaris. united.com

South African Airways The new Airbus A330-300 will operate from London to Johannesburg from March 25 and the Business cabin will incorporate 23-inch wide forwardfacing flat beds with a 45-inch seat pitch in a 1-2-1 configuration, ensuring direct aisle access for all. Expect a mattress and 15-inch widescreen TV. flysaa.com

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seychelles

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time air

The Indian Ocean’s smallest and most exclusive paradise destination is getting a boost with new direct flights from the UK. Sarah Gilbert details what else is new

W

Indian with its own distinct inflections. “Manze (eat),” he exclaims, urging me to use my hands. I round off with a shot of potent local rum before I freewheel back down the hillside by the light of the full moon, to the cry of “Bonswar – until we meet again”

Desert islands This archipelago of 115 islands – many of them uninhabited – is the archetypal tropical paradise and is now more accessible than ever thanks to British Airways’ launch on March 24 of twice-weekly non-stop flights from London Heathrow to Mahé. With a flight time of just over 10 hours, it will cut around three hours off the current journey time. “This year is such an exciting time to travel to the Seychelles. There’s not only the new BA flights but also the new Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island, reached via twice-daily flights from Mahé to Desroches,” says Christine Kimbrell, Director of Sales & Marketing at SeyExclusive. Its stunning beaches are legendary but there’s plenty more on offer: diving and snorkelling, sailing, hiking, wildlife watching – even golf at the Constance Lemuria on Praslin, with

SIX SENSES

ith no airport and virtually no cars – just brightly painted ox carts to ferry visitors around – bicycle is the easiest way to explore diminutive La Digue. The sandy streets of this smallest of the Seychelles’ islands are just a 15-minute ferry ride from Praslin and well worth a diversion. I am cycling through the village of La Passe, passing shop signs that read ‘Open Some Days, Closed Others’, street stalls groaning under the weight of exotic fruits and a man carrying just-caught fish on his handlebars, on my way to the L’Union Estate’s historic coconut plantation. The palm-shaded path leads to one of the world’s most photographed beaches, Anse Source D’Argent, which is just one in a line of breathtakingly beautiful bays, flanked by enormous, smooth granite boulders that spill into the turquoise water. Later, I cycle around the northern tip of the island to Anse Banane and Chez Jules. There’s no menu to speak of but large platters of delicious Seychellois dishes just keep emerging from his simple kitchen: octopus in a delicate, coconutmilk curry, fish fillet in a rich Creole sauce. While I eat, Jules teaches me some Creole in his lilting accent, a hybrid of French, English and West

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FOUR SEASON

southwest of Mahé. A new marketing brand, called Blue Safari, has been created to spread the word about the four islands: Alphonse, Astove, Cosmelodo and the Amirantes. Under the tag: “Where Experiences Are our Luxury” the concept will focus on exploring the lesser-known islands. Guests will be encouraged to partake in various conservation efforts to preserve the fragile atolls. Alphonse Island offers fun for all the family with Kids Haven operating a programme of activities that encourages the little ones to interact with nature and get involved in activities such as diving, snorkelling and fishing. Amanda Lang, Marketing Manager for Alphonse Island, said: “With miles of unblemished shorelines, lagoons and sea flats Alphonse is the Seychelles at its most authentic. “It is a destination for the traveller who craves exclusivity. Our accommodation is luxurious but the focus is very much on the surrounding natural beauty. We also cater for guests who would like to get involved in our Island Conservation Programme, which includes marine and land-based projects.”

Perfect ten

Sarah Gatt, Product and Purchasing Executive, Kuoni

Previous page: Sunset from Koko Bar, Six Senses Zil Pasyon. This page, clockwise from top left: a Coco de Mer nut, endemic to the Seychelles; meeting a giant tortoise; advocado hair mask at Six Senses; Anse Source d’Argent beach, La Digue

SIX SENSES

“The Seychelles is perfect for island hopping. Every island has something different to offer, from white sandy beaches to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve”

increasingly varied accommodation to match. And while visitors used to fly-and-flop, island-hopping holidays are becoming increasingly popular, combining one or more of the three main islands – Mahé, Praslin and La Digue – with a private island resort. The key to up-selling this kind of multi-centre is getting across that each island has its own character and that visitors can have two or three very different experiences on one trip. “It’s worth making the effort to experience the islands’ diversity,” says Iain Raeper, If Only…’s Indian Ocean Product Manager. “Perhaps an escape-from-it-all beach resort like Constance Ephélia on Mahé, then taking a short flight or ferry to one of the other islands. Bird Island, for example, is an ornithologist’s dream that offers a superb back-to-nature experience with untouched habitats for many species of wildlife and unparalleled opportunities for sailing, fishing and diving in places where few have gone before.” While couples and honeymooners are still the main market (Prince William and Kate chose the exclusive, private island resort of North Island for their honeymoon in 2011 and the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island is offering a babymoon package) operators are seeing a growth in the family market, with accommodation to suit everyone, from multigenerational families to groups of friends. The Alphonse Group belong to the Outer Islands of the Seychelles, around 250 miles

Beach bumming: Postcard-perfect beaches include Anse Lazio in Praslin and Anse Source d’Argent in La Digue – both appear regularly on the world’s best beaches lists. Barefoot luxury: The Seychelles has some of the world’s most luxurious private island resorts, where conservation projects mean you don’t have to sacrifice style to go green. Tropical paradise: Just a few degrees south of the Equator, the archipelago is a year-round destination, with temperatures hovering around 25 degrees Celsius. Island hopping: Explore its many diverse islands by boat, from inter-island ferries, to day tours on a catamaran and more extended cruises. Wildlife watching: The archipelago’s flora and fauna includes more than

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Sechell


Image: © Mr Torsten Dickmann

Seychelles Tourist Office - UK & Ireland · Ground Floor, 130-132 Buckingham Palace Road SW1W 9SA Tel: +44 (0) 207 730 0700 · seychelles@uksto.co.uk www.seychelles.travel

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seychelles

French group Club Med (clubmed.co.uk) has taken over the Sainte Anne Beachcomber resort. Redevelopment is expected to continue until the end of 2019. Infrastructure: The reconstruction and expansion of Seychelles International Airport and the domestic terminal is underway and expected to be completed in 2019. Tourist office: The UK tourist office will run a six-person fam trip in the second half of this year. It is also taking its ‘Seychelles Discovered’ road show to Winchester, Buckinghamshire and Norwich from March 13-16, with the chance to win a trip to the Seychelles (more UK destinations will be visited later in the year).

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“Encourage clients to fly between Mahé and Praslin. The connection between international and domestic flights is easy, the views from the plane are spectacular and it’s more comfortable than the ferry” Zoe Saunders, Senior Product and Marketing Manager, Indian Ocean, ITC Travel Group

Tourism talk

200 species of birds – Cousin Island alone, just one-kilometre in diametre, supports more than 300,000 nesting seabirds. Natural wonders: It’s home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Praslin’s Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve and the remote Aldabra Atoll, with the world’s largest population of giant tortoises. Marine life: Have close encounters with gentle giants like whale sharks, dolphins and hawksbill turtles. Get active: Take to the water by kayaking, kite surfing, windsurfing and wakeboarding, or take on the big game fish. On dry land, hike the trails in its national parks. Village life: Make time to see the sights of Victoria on Mahé, one of the world’s smallest capitals, including the exotic produce in the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market. Foodie fun: Seychellois cuisine is a flavourful fusion of African, French, Chinese and Indian influences, and Mahé’s Le Jardin du Roi is a taste of its spice-trading past.

“The UK is one of our fastest-growing markets, ending 2017 with a 16% increase in visitors. The direct flights from British Airways, the only non-stop route from the UK, is sure to give the market a boost. “Part of our strategy is to show that the Seychelles has never been more accessible and affordable. Though it’s renowned for being the perfect choice for honeymooners, we’re also very much a family-friendly destination with activities for children of all ages. “Few destinations are able to offer a holiday experience so inextricably linked to the easy rhythms of island life and to the culinary traditions and vibrant customs of its people. “This is a place to do as little or as much as you like – enjoy a sun, sea, sand and spa holiday, or indulge in some world-class diving, sailing, sport fishing, hiking, horse riding and golf.” Christine Vel, Director, Seychelles Tourist Office – UK & Ireland

Where to book it  IF ONLY… – 0141 955 4000 Seven nights in a Junior Suite at the Constance Ephelia in Mahé starts from £2,349pp half-board, with British Airways flights from Heathrow, private transfers and airport taxes. ifonly.net 

What’s new

FOUR SEASON

Clockwise from top left: The new Four Seasons Desroches; a Hindu temple in the capital, Victoria; aquatic wonders; yoga with a view on Mahe Island

 Flights: British Airways (ba.com) launches the only non-stop service from the UK on March 24, departing Heathrow Terminal 5 on Wednesdays and Saturdays, returning on Thursdays and Sundays.  Hotels: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroches Island (fourseasons.com) opens on March 1 2018. It is the only resort on the island.

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las vegas

Las Vegas ex󰇴󰇪󰈦󰇯en󰈛󰇪󰈤

Away from the casinos, nightclubs and grandiose hotels, there are several other sides to Las Vegas and no shortage of activities, as Benjamin Coren discovers

FlightLinez Bootleg Canyon Nearby Boulder City was established as a home for the workers of Hoover Dam. Today visitors can explore its historical district. Bootleg Canyon, located just outside town, is a great spot to take in the views and whizz through the air on a FlightLinez zip line tour. Book out a morning and reach speeds of up to 60mph through the arid mountains. The whole experience lasts around three hours, with some hiking. flightlinezbootleg.com

Vegas Glass Kayaks Forty minutes outside of Las Vegas, take a guided tour of The Black Canyon in a glass-bottom kayak. Vegas Glass Kayaks offer the chance to explore the river, see the region’s unique wildlife or just enjoy the calm, picturesque canyon. From novices to experienced paddlers, anyone can take the tour. There is a tremendous amount of history and visitors can explore the Emerald Cave, view ancient petroglyphs or visit the site where the gauger used to measure water levels pre-Hoover Dam. vegasglasskayaks.com

Grand Canyon tours No trip to Las Vegas is complete without a visit to the Grand Canyon. A natural wonder of the world, there are plenty of viewing options: visit by car, light airplane or helicopter. Both Sundance Helicopters and Maverick Aviation offer air tours to the canyon. I took a morning tour with Sundance Helicopters, flying to the Grand Canyon, landing in its basin for a spot of breakfast before a flight back and a quick air tour of the glittering strip. Various packages are available to different parts of the canyon. sundancehelicopters.com

Neon Museum You’ll need to book in advance to get a spot on this popular tour, which takes you round a collection of old neon signs which once graced downtown Las Vegas and The Strip. The non-profit Neon Museum collects and preserves the iconic signs and its outdoor exhibition space, known as the Neon Boneyard, is home to a growing number of restored pieces. Discover the history behind the growth of Las Vegas and hear some great stories on its glamorous past from very knowledgeable guides. neonmuseum.org

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours I’d recommend kicking off your visit with one of these. Available both Downtown and on The Strip, you’ll sample at least five of Vegas’ best restaurants and receive an introduction to the city. Pictured is a quadruple dessert from celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s Cucina, which included fried Italian donut with caramel sauce and tiramisu with espresso-soaked chiffon and mascarpone cream. Agents can earn 12% commission on bookings made with Lip Smacking Foodie Tours. vegasfoodietour.com

Art from the heart Many of the city’s major hotels have seasonal art installations. The Bellagio is a good starting point since it has its own gallery and rotating displays in its conservatory. Head downtown and see the wall murals gracing the hotels and public buildings, all commissioned as part of the area’s regeneration. Follow Interstate 15 south out of town to see Seven Magic Mountains, a colourful public sculpture in the desert, on display until May 2018.

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Visit the

Grand Canyon Seeing is Believing!

Spa treatments There are plenty of opportunities to relax, rejuvenate and escape from the busy streets and bright lights. I enjoyed a treatment at the Canyon Ranch spa club located in The Venetian Hotel and The Palazzo on the Las Vegas strip. The spa offers a vast variety of treatments and there are relaxation rooms alongside scented showers, ice rooms, steam rooms and saunas. canyonranch.com

Shop ‘til you drop There are plenty of places to indulge in retail therapy in Las Vegas. The Grand Canal Shoppes in The Venetian Hotel have plenty of designer outlets, as does The Shops at Crystals. Miracle Mile Shops is actually over a mile long and has over 170 stores. Simon Malls’ Las Vegas North Premium Outlets features 175 designer and namebrand stores and offers massive daily discounts for shoppers.

Take in a show The line-up of shows in Las Vegas is constantly changing and it seems almost every hotel has a theatre. Cirque du Soleil currently has six shows in various residencies. You can book tickets online or from the hotels’ box offices. Currently showing is Mystére, O, Zumanity, KÀ, The Beatles LOVE and Michael Jackson ONE. Major music acts are also attracted to Las Vegas, with the new T-Mobile Arena a popular venue. cirquedusoleil.com

Grand Canyon National Park • Hoover Dam • Indian Country Grand Canyon West • Grand Canyon Overnight Packages • Group Services and Charters • Grand Canyon Overnight with the Grand Canyon Railway www.grandcanyontourandtravel.com inquiries@gctco.com

SUNBUGGY

THE MOST FUN DRIVING ADVENTURES ANYWHERE!

The High Roller Take to the sky on the world’s tallest Ferris wheel, the High Roller, which soars 550 feet above Sin City and provides excellent views of the Las Vegas Valley and The Strip. Stop at the bar before you board or, better still, upgrade your ride and purchase a Happy Half Hour ticket which includes an in-cabin open bar and obliging bartender for the ride. Alternatively, enjoy a morning yoga experience on the High Roller. caesars.com/linq/high-roller 

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AMAZING GROUP EVENTS FOR UP TO 1,000 PEOPLE! FREE SHUTTLE

866.728.4443

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March 2018

VISIT USA NEWS T H IS M O N T H ' S TO P S TOR I ES FROM V I SI T U SA' S MEMBERS • V I SI T U SA. O RG.UK

Illinois's big 200

ILLINOIS is celebrating its 200th birthday in 2018 with a statewide programme of events that will run through the year. The focus

Trade e ven

t

Visit USA reunited in London THE popular Unite Visit USA event takes place this month (March 15) at The Mermaid London in Blackfriars, London. The event provides the opportunity for operators to set up face-to-face conversations with key U.S. product suppliers to discuss business opportunities for 2018 and beyond. Commented Tracey Spuyman, CEO, Visit USA (UK): “Our annual Unite Visit USA event continues to be very popular since it is a very efficient way of doing business while networking with key players in the USA travel and tourism community. "The list of those attending is now almost full but we can find space for some last-minute additions if buyers register now.” Contact: debbie.flannagan@unitepromotions.co.uk

“Unite Visit USA goes from strength to strength and I am delighted we will have a record line-up of both suppliers and buyers this year"

will be on the destination's contribution to the worlds of art, literature, agriculture, technology and innovation, history and transportation.

enjoyillinois.co.uk

The Colorado loop

COLORADO has created a 720-mile Historic Hot

Springs Loop that introduces visitors to the best of the state's many natural hot springs. These range from intimate private baths to the world's largest mineral hot springs pool,

Debbie Flanagan

Glenwood Hot Springs, which has one

Unite Promotions

million gallons of 32C spring water.

colorado.com

D.C. first for Hilton NORTH America’s first

Canopy by Hilton Hotel has opened as part of Washinton D.C.’s new waterfront development, The Wharf. The hotel offers panoramic views of the Potomac River from its penthouse rooftop bar, Bistro & Bar. Rooms from $169/£120 per night.

canopy3.hilton.com

THE USA in brief... THE 2018 GUIDES Official Tennessee Vacation Guide spotlights Civil Rights sites across the state. Other highlights include the new Anakeesta Aerial Adventure Park in Gatlinburg and the 2018 opening of the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville. The guide also profiles Tennessee’s musical heritage. tnvacation.com/guide

LOEWS Hotel 100 has wrapped up a multimilliondollar overhaul of its 120 guest rooms and public spaces. The changes include new dining options (such as a seafood and oyster bar) that take guests on a culinary tour of the Pacific Northwest. The hotel is located in Seattle’s business and arts district. loewshotels.com HOTELS

KIMPTON La Peer Hotel is the latest property to open in West Hollywood. In the heart of the city’s lively Design District, the 150-room hotel features a pool with Gaudi tiles, shady olive trees and a vertical garden wall. Yoga mats are provided in every room and the hotel offers onsite fitness classes. kimptonhotels.com; visitwesthollywood.com HOTELS

Look out for our Visit USA Association online Travel Update for the pick of members' news

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MEMBERS SPOTLIGHT HOTELS BOOST FOR SARASOTA SARASOTA County on Florida’s Gulf Coast will welcome four new hotels this year. Opening this month is The Art Ovation – A luxury Marriott Autograph property with 160 rooms, curated art exhibitions and a rooftop pool. The 100room Carlisle Inn will be the next to open, in April. visitsarasota.com

DEEP SOUTH FOR PREMIER HOLIDAYS PREMIER Holidays firstquarter Deep South campaign highlighted holidays to Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. Options include a 12-night Southern States self-drive from £1,799p, stopping in New Orleans, Lafayette, Natchez, Memphis and Louisville. trade. premierholidays. co.uk

introducing...

Langham Hotels SARAH HARRISON Director of Sales When did Langham Hotels join Visit USA? We joined in August 2017.

Airline s

Icelandair's U.S. hat-trick

ICELANDAIR will introduce a new service to Kansas City in May and recommence flights to San Francisco and Baltimore. The airline will take off with a three-times-weekly service between Reykjavik and Kansas City International Airport, Missouri, on May 25. Four-times-weekly flights to Baltimore, Maryland, will begin on May 28 and to San Francisco on June 1. It has been over a decade since Icelandair ceased operations to both destinations. UK travellers can connect with the new services on Icelandair flights from six UK airports. “The time is right for Icelandair to return to Baltimore and San Francisco,” says Icelandair CEO Björgólfur Jóhannsson. The airline now serves 23 North American destinations. icelandair.co.uk

Chicago's record number CHICAGO welcomed 55.2 million visitors in 2017, up 2.5%, and surpassed its target of 55 million arrivals two years ahead of schedule. Five new hotels opened in the city last year and another eight are scheduled to open in 2018. The Windy City will also benefit from a new Norwegian daily flight from Gatwick, which starts flying on March 25 enjoyillinois.com

SF has the beat

‘HEAD Over Heels’, a new musical featuring the songs of 1980s band the Go Go’s, will run for a month in San Francisco from April 24. Staged at The Curran, the show features songs like We Got the Beat and Heaven is a Place on Earth. The show will move to Broadway for the 2018/2019 season. sftravel.com

What are the main benefits of membership? It offers us invaluable exposure for our hotels in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago. Visit USA's interactive website allows us to showcase our product and offers the trade easy access to our hotel offers. Tell us more about Langham's U.S. properties Each is characterised by their distinctive design, which captures the essence of the hotel’s architecture and location. Last year Conde Nast Traveller’s Choice Awards recognized The Langham, Chicago, as number two in the U.S. and The Langham, New York, as the number one hotel in New York City. What makes the hotels stand out? Each Langham property embraces Sincere Service, Innovation, Captivation of the Senses and Exceptional Design, all of which originate from our legacy at The Langham, London, which has been open since 1865. What's in the pipeline? Two U.S. properties open in Wade Park, Texas, in 2020 and San Francisco in 2021. langhamhotels.com

Subscribe to the Visit USA Association online Travel Update at visitusa.org.uk

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Bahrain This historic and culture-rich region was once the beating heart of the pearling trade. Like its world-famous oysters, Bahrain may just surprise you with some hidden gems, says Jessica Pook Bahrain is an archipelago made up of 33 islands nestled in the Arabian Gulf just off the coast of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Its historic monuments and religious temples, some of which date back to 692AD, have survived the transition into the 21st century and now share the desert landscape with one of the most modern Formula One racetracks in the world. This year will see Muhurraq Island, Bahrain’s second largest, crowned the Islamic Cultural Capital 2018. The city has been recognised for its conservation work, particularly on the UNESCO World Heritage Pearling Trail whic is due for completion later this year, along with its efforts to preserve Arabic and Islamic culture both locally and internationally. Tourism is steadily growing, with UK arrival figures increasing by 10% in 2017, while its easy lifestyle and cultural diversity saw Bahrain crowned as the number one place for expats to relocate to.

Pearls of wisdom Bahrain translates as 'Two Seas' in Arabic and was once the centre of the world’s pearl trade. Today visitors are invited to search for their own pearl (Bahrain pearls are considered the finest in the world), with the promise that if they find one it's theirs to keep. There is a choice of four diving sites, each promising a wealth of oysters, and divers are able to collect as many as 60 from the seabed. All departures for pearl diving start at Ras

Rayyah, the northern tip of Maharraq Island, with dives available for all levels. Official diving companies Delma Marine (pearldiving.bh) and Scuba Life Bahrain (scubalife.bh) run two-hour sessions from £74pp, with Scuba Life offering separate PADI courses for those looking to gain their qualification.

Life in the fast lane Enjoy a coffee break Bahrani-style, elegantly poured from a highly-decorated tea pot into a small cup; take in the aroma of spices at the Bab Al Bahrain Souq; or walk through the historic Qalat al-Bahrain fort, a registered UNESCO World Heritage site. For those that are after something a little more fast-paced, the Sakhir Desert will host the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix for the fifth successive year from April 6-8 this year and is home to five track layouts, more than anywhere else in the world. From top left, clockwise: Financial Harbour overlooking the Bahrain World trade Centre; skyview of Marassi Al Bahrain’s two-kilometre beach; Bahrain is known for pearl fishing; Isa Bin Ali, a traditional house

Where to stay With a portfolio of over 190 hotels and resorts and 15 new openings scheduled by 2020,

there's plenty of rooms and some big names, such as the Ritz Carlton and The Four Seasons. The Jumeirah Royal Saray is due to open this year in a premium beachfront location, an ideal sanctuary from the heat of the summer months when days average around 37-40C. 

THE DETAILS TIME ZONE: Arabia Standard Time (GMT +3) C U R R E N CY: £1.00 = 0.53 Bahrani Dinar V I S A S: British passport holders are able to receive visas upon arrival. They are also eligible to apply for visas electronically ahead of arrival. CA P I TA L: Manama LA N GU AGE S: Arabic and English C L I M AT E: April –

October, 37C-40C. November - March, 10C – 20C U SEF UL INF O: bahrain.com

GET TING THERE: emirates.com, etihad.com

B OO K IT: Travelpack offers a five-night stay in the Mercure Grand Hotel Seef, including return flights, from £979. travelpack.com

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O N LY T H E T R AV E L N E W S T H AT R E AL LY M AT T E R S

S A I L A W AY : G ADVENTURES BACK IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

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NICARAGUA NEW MARKETING ANGLE

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AT F S H O W R E P O RT LOCAL THAI FLAVOURS

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CHECKING OUT COSTA RICA & USA

GET ONLINE – R E A D A L L O U R M A G A Z I N E S A N D C H E C K O U T O U R D A I LY S E L L I N G T I P S AT S E L L I N G T RAV E L.C O.U K

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Tourism Update

Omega’s new Euro trips

CAROL HAY UK Manager Caribbean Tourism Organization

THERE’S just two months now until the Caribbean Tourism Organization holds its first 2018 Caribbean UK and Irish Roadshows. From May 8-10 we will be visiting Dublin, Galway and Cork, so come and meet with a great selection of Caribbean trade partners, all offering the latest news, updates and information on their destinations and products. If you’re interested in attending please contact Florian Devillers on 020 8948 0057 or email devillersf@ caribtourism.com

Don’t forget to continue logging your bookings, to be entered into the CTO’s monthly prize draw. In January, Leah Vooght of Thomas Cook won a £50 Love2Shop voucher for completing the Caribbean Travel Guru (CTG) training programme (caribbeantravelguru.com) and Lindsey Hayes at British Airways won £100 of Amazon Vouchers for making and logging the most Caribbean January bookings on CTG. For February, Nicki Tennant at British Airways won a lovely rum and chocolate Hamper for making the most Caribbean bookings. The March prize is lots more Love2Shop Vouchers for and two luxury Easter Eggs for the two agents who complete the most quizzes and exams on CTG. If you have any questions or queries regarding the programme, please contact Ann-Marie Brooks on 020 8948 0057 or email abrooks@caribtourism.com

Caribbean Tourism Organization Suites 52A & 53, 5th Floor AMP House, Dingwall Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 2LX Tel: 0208 948 0057 caribbean.co.uk

BY LAURA GELDER

OMEGA Holidays has nine new trips in its Europe 2018 brochure and has agent discounts for bookings made before March 31. New trips include Majorca for the Single Traveller, The Royal Capitals of Scandinavia, Little Trains of Austria, Cruising the Romantic Rhine and Magical Moselle, Icelandic Adventure by Air and several tours of Italy taking in popular cities like Rome and Florence as well as regions like the Dolomites and Tuscany. Agents can save their customers £50pp by quoting ‘Omega Special’ at the time of booking. The discount can also be used on

established tours like Andalusian Capitals and Sorrento, Pompeii and The Isle of Capri. A unique new tour is Tyrolean Tradition: See the Cows Come Home, which offers the chance witness the Alpine tradition of Almabtrieb, which sses the cows return from their mountain pastures to their home valleys, parading through the streets. The five-night trip departs September 20, from three airports, and is priced £750pp, based on two sharing, including return flights and transfers, dinner, B&B in a fourstar hotel, various excursions and tours.

Rosewood to open in Antigua ROSEWOOD HOTELS will open a luxury 132-acre resort on the Caribbean beachfront of Half Moon Bay by 2021. The Rosewood Half Moon Bay will feature 47 pavillion-style suites as well as a three-bedroom presidential suite. Each will include private infinity plunge pools, hammocks, open-air baths and showers and live decorative floral walls in the bathroom. The Rosewood Spa, Sense, will offer signature treatments in its six rooms along with state of the art fitness centre and two swimming pools. An on-site organic farm and vegetable garden will provide fresh, seasonal produce. Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said: “Half Moon Bay is one of the most beautiful spots on island and we are confident that Rosewood and Replay will develop a world-class hotel with this contemporary five-star property”. visitantiguabarbuda.com

omega-holidays.com

GRJ helps agents sell bespoke rail trips GRJ Independent, the tailor-made arm of Great Rail Journeys, has launched a brochure to help agents sell bespoke train holidays. It includess suggested itineraries from around the world, from the VeniceSimplon Orient Express in Europe to

the Pride of Africa. Agents can request a brochure by emailing rebekahamos@ greatrail.com. GRJ are on call seven days a week and work with agents to custom-build independent itineraries. greatrail.com

Alton Towers assists the trade in pushing its new Wicker Man ride MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS is working with the trade to promote its newest attraction, The Wicker Man, the UK’s first wooden rollercoaster in 21 years, writes Ben Coren. The company, representing attractions such as Thorpe Park, Legoland and Madame Tussauds, is working closely with the trade with training days and fam trips to promote Alton Tower’s latest addition, (open this spring) along with its other brands. Kelly Grainger, Head of Trade Sales, said: “The trade is very important to us which is

why we have a dedicated trade sales team providing support and marketing materials and ensure that the partners are kept up to date with the latest attractions. “We offer agent training days across the year, providing one-to-one training on the products and packages we offer. We also host an ‘unlock the magic’ day once a year, where we invite the trade to spend the day and familiarise themselves with the attractions along with revealing any exclusive news on upcoming events.” merlinentertainments.biz

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Personal cruises CELEBRITY CRUISES has introduced its new Celebrity Discovery Collection, offering in-depth tours for small groups throughout Europe. The first tours in the collection will explore the Western Mediterranean, with more tours being added globally throughout 2018. Designed with seasoned cruisers and newbies in mind, the tours range from off-the-beaten-path adventures to the must-see locales of every port. Each tour accommodates a maximum of 24 guests, offering more time at each location, individual interaction with guides and a more personal travel experience. Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises, said she was inspired to launch the new personalised tours after visiting the region herself. celebritycruises.co.uk

ATM back to Dubai RESPONSIBLE tourism and sustainable travel trends will be the key themes of the Arabian Travel Market 2018 (ATM), taking place in Dubai from April 22-25. Run by Reed Travel Exhibitions, this will be the 25th year ATM has been held in the emirate. The largest travel and tourism event in the Middle East, it attracts exhibitors such as national tourism boards, accommodation and venue providers, airlines, cruise companies, medical tourism representatives, tourist attractions and travel technology companies. ATM 2017 was the biggest yet, attracting almost 40,000 professionals, agreeing deals worth $2.5bn with over 2,500 exhibiting companies

South Africa’s trade focus

BY STEVE HARTRIDGE

SOUTH AFRICA Tourism invested more than ever in UK and Irish travel trade in 2017, training a record-breaking 900 agents. The tourism body’s travel trade programme included training, roadshows, workshops and fam trips – with 36 agents hosted in South Africa on six separate trips, visiting Cape Town, the Garden Route, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. And last November saw the third year of SATSchool, a ‘one-stop shop’ training platform aimed at equipping agents with unique selling points, the latest news, and how to answer customer questions. The roadshow took place in Cork, Manchester,

Birmingham and London, with partners including British Airways, local tourist boards and attractions and experiences. Tolene Van der Merwe, Hub Head UK & Ireland for South African Tourism, said: “Following an incredibly successful 2017 we’ll be continuing to work closely with members of the UK and Irish travel trade s through training workshops, takeover days, fam trips and our fourth year of SATSchool to help us achieve our global goal of five million more tourists in the next five years.” The tourist board will also launch tradededicated social media channels this year.

Nicaragua gets real THE NICARAGUAN Tourism Board (INTUR) has a new marketing campaign fronted by the slogan, “I like you just as you are”. Designed to encourage tourists to get to know the country’s ‘authentic side’, the strategy is in response to travellers wanting to know how locals live, what they eat, their daily activities and the places they visit. It focuses on three central facets: culture, natural scenery and the country’s people, incorporating the promotion of beaches, adventure- ecoand community-tourism, gastronomy, culture and nature, as well as business travel, health and wellness, cruises and sailing holidays. The campaign also features videos, posters, billboards and other promotional collateral like t-shirts, and calendars. Press trips are also planned. visitnicaragua.us

southafrica.net

Western & Oriental adds Philippines

WESTERN & ORIENTAL has introduced a selection of tailor-made beach, multi-centre and touring holidays in the Philippines. “The country has great potential but

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right now it’s still quite off the radar for British holidaymakers, particularly compared to destinations like Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia,” comments Erica Moore, Far East Product Manager at Western & Oriental. “Our specialists will help to craft a journey that’s as relaxing, intrepid or farreaching as the client wants.” The 12-night Highlights of the Philippines tour takes in Manila, Lake Taal, Bohol, Boracay and Palawan. Prices start from £2,699pp, based on two adults sharing, on a B&B basis, international and domestic flights, ferry tickets and private transfers. westernoriental.com

arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com

New Rovos rail option LUXURY African rail operator Rovos Rail starts a new 15-day trip across Tanzania, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola, in July 2019. The inaugural trip leaves Dar es Salaam on July 16 and includes a visit to the Selous Reserve, a fly-in two-night safari in South Luangwa National Park (Zambia) and a city tour of Lubumbashi (DRC). It then joins the Benguela line for walking tours on Angola’s recent history. The voyage is available in reverse departing Lobito (Angola) on August 2. Rates are from $12,820pp, minus flights. “To be able to introduce a new adventure after 29 years in operation is both exciting and a refreshing operational challenge,” says Rohan Vos, Owner and CEO. rovos.com

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Newport Beach refresh EXCLUSIVE OFFERS SIX SENSES LAAMU

Fantastic Family Offer: Up to 2 Kids Stay and Dine FREE PLUS Complimentary Upgrade BB to HB – Free Nights Stay 7 Pay 6 AND 10% OFF Rates Stays between 06 Apr – 30 Sept 18

BY JESSICA POOK

VIVANTA BY TAJ

Wonderful Premium All Inclusive Top 5 House Reef in Maldives Stay 6 Nights and receive Complimentary Return Transfers Valid for stays now – 05 Jan 19 2019 Rates NOW AVAILABLE

ANANTARA DHIGU MALDIVES

Stay a minimum of 7 nights and receive Up to 35% Off Room Rates! PLUS Complimentary Upgrade BB to HB AND Discounts available For Honeymoon bookings! Valid for stays between now – 08 Jan 19

NEWPORT BEACH, California, will debut its latest four-star hotel, the Lido House, in early April. The property, which is part of the Autograph Collection, will feature 130-guest rooms, including one presidential suite, several executive suites and five custom design threestorey cottages. Located amongst the city’s marina, beach and retail hub on Balboa Island Peninsula, the retreat will feature the only rooftop bar in the area along with a saltwater pool, spa and private cabanas. Visit Newport Beach President and CEO Gary Sherwin said: “Newport Beach is a great place to get away from the craziness of Los Angeles and

experience the elite lifestyle. The new Lido hotel will offer the ideal sanctuary for visitors, particularly over the busy Film Festival period in April.” The annual Newport Beach Film Festival is to return for its 19th year, running from April 26 to May 3. An audience of over 54,000 descend on Newport Centre Drive to celebrate independent and studio films from around the globe. Tickets are available at newportbeachfilmfest.com/passes. Thirty per cent of hotels will undergo renovations prior to the festival, with the Renaissance Newport Beach pegged to open early spring after rebranding from Duke Hotel Newport Beach. visitnewportbeach.com

FUN ISLAND MALDIVES

SUMMER OFFER ! Up to 20% OFF Room Rates! Great Resort for Watersports with a beautiful lagoon Valid from now – 31 Oct 18

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OVER 200 HOTELS AND A SELECTION OF TOURS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE MALDIVES – SRI LANKA – MAURITIUS – SEYCHELLES INDIA – UAE – CARIBBEAN – GREECE – NEW CRUISING AND SAILING. INCLUDING EXCLUSIVE OFFERS FOR WINTER 2017 SUMMER 2018 AND WINTER 2018/19 RATES ARE NOW ONLINE

TRADE - FRIENDLY wholesaler Osborne & Ebel has a deal for Paradise Island Resort, Maldives. Five nights start from £159pp on on a full-board basis, including return speedboat transfers for travel between May 1 and July 31 2018. The resort is set in North Male Atoll with a fantastic beach and vast selection of water and land activities. For details contact: sales@osborneandebel.com osborneandebel.com

osborneandebel.com All above offers are subject to availability.

Terms & Conditions Apply

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Cyprus on the up THE CYPRUS Tourism Organisation is celebrating a record-breaking 2017 for arrivals with global visitors up 14.6% in 2017 and UK arrivals up 8.3% year on year. Of the year’s 3,652,073 arrivals, the UK accounted for 1,253,839 of them, joining Greece as the main sources of tourism for the island. July was last year’s best month for arrivals (176,880), but August was the biggest month for UK visitors (185,831 arrivals). “We’re proud of achieving another record-breaking year for Cyprus tourism”, said Orestis Rossides, UK Director of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. “Our beautiful island has so much to offer every type of traveller – stunning mountain ranges, 64 stunning Blue Flag beaches and a rich cultural heritage.” visitcyprus.com

Taj opens in the Andamans

G ADVENTURES became one of the first tour operators to return to the British Virgin Islands (BVIs) when it relaunched sailing tours on February 3.

CA UG HT ON T H E H OP MARC MULCAHY Trade Development Consultant, UK and Ireland, Tourism New Zealand What does your job involve? My role is to work with the UK trade to motivate, connect and enable them to work more closely with our industry back in New Zealand. I try to support and inspire agents and operators to sell more of the country.

BY STEVE HARTRIDGE

TAJ EXOTICA Resort & Spa has opened in the Andaman Islands, a destination billing itself as India’s newest beach destination. Located on the crescent-shaped Radhanagar Beach in the Havelock Islands, the resort’s 72 villas are scattered among 46 acres of forest and mangroves and built in the style of the indigenous Jarawa tribe’s pitch-roof stilted huts. Facilities include three restaurants – with ‘Shoreline’ featuring coastal curries – and a 50-metre infinity pool. Guest activities include snorkelling, scuba diving and night kayaking through the mangroves. In line with its responsible tourism ethos,

Taj has set up an onsite bottling plant eliminating the use of plastic bottles, a waste disposal system converting wet waste to gas and compost and a sanitation treatment plant to limit its carbon footprint. The Andamans have been tipped to become one of this year’s top travel destinations. Relatively undiscovered Havelock Island is reached by air and a 150-minute ferry ride followed by a 30-minute drive. An expanded network of flights from Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad make it accessible from key cities across India. tajhotels.com

G Adventures first to sail back to the British Virgin Islands

BY STEVE HARTRIDGE

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The small-group adventure operator suspended trips to the Caribbean islands following Hurricane Irma last year. Designed for travellers with all levels of sailing experience, the tour sails round-trip from Tortola on a 47ft catamaran and sees travellers snorkelling in caves, swimming with turtles and exploring by bike. Stops include Guana Island, with its white-sand beaches and tropical forest; Jost Van Dyke, one of the least populated islands; and Cooper Island, one of the Caribbean’s top turtle snorkelling spots. G Adventures claim the tour will take advantage of the low tourist numbers in

the BVIs by encouraging travellers to get to know locals, dine at their restaurants, visit their businesses and enjoy a ‘truly authentic island experience’. Said Vince Donnelly, Global Sailing Manager, G Adventures: “This tour has a Chief Experience Officer (CEO) who knows the BVIs like the back of his hand, meaning travellers get to see the hidden haunts and hotspots from across this sunny stretch of islands,” The seven-day Sailing the British Virgin Islands tour takes up to eight travellers on each departure, with prices starting from £1,049pp. gadventures.co.uk

What are your own favourite experiences in New Zealand? I love all of New Zealand but there is an area in the South island called The Catlins. Located on the Southern Scenic Route, South of Dunedin and near Invercargill, it is a quiet area, a little off the beaten track. I went with friends to a place called Curio Bay. We stayed in a batch, which is like a Kiwi holiday home, right on the beach. One morning I had a surfing lesson. The instructor guaranteed I would catch a wave by the end of the day. I stood up, trying to ride a wave, and all of a sudden I saw a fin in the water. I got the biggest shock ever and thought it was a shark. But it turned out to be just a curious dolphin, swimming along beside me. Later that evening we went down to a petrified forest, which dates from the Jurassic period. The area is home to a yellow-eyed penguin colony, which is a rare species native to New Zealand. We watched the penguins coming in out of the water to nest for the night. That was a special day all round. What’s left on your New Zealand wish list? No matter how many times I visit New Zealand my wish list always gets longer. Right at the top at the moment is the The Whanganui river journey. In North island, it is one of our great walks: a four- to five-day walk and boat trip down the river. Also, I want to climb Mount Taranaki, near New Plymouth on the west coast of North Island. newzealand.com

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 CHIANG MAI, THAILAND – JANUARY 22-16 2018

Northern highlights Steve Thompson rounds up the show news from Thailand’s second city

New destination resort for Malaysia

TAT encourages ‘go local’

BRUCE HAXTON of the The Tuk Tuk Company reveals why his company offers the best way to see northern Thailand – local-style.

MALAYSIA is anticipating the opening of its latest premium resort, Desaru Coast, this June. The resort will include a themed water park with the region’s largest wave pool and first water-coaster, plus Westin and Hard Rock hotels along a 17Km beach. It will complement the existing leisure and retail offerings at Desaru Coast Riverside.

What does Tuk Tuk offer? We have one- five- and 11-day selfdrive tours in a traditional Thai tuk tuk, but we also work with agents to create private and bespoke tours.

desarucoast.com

Bali on the up CONFIDENCE in Bali is returning after the eruption of Mount Agung last November, with traveller numbers up and many hoteliers recording increased occupancy rates, especially over the Christmas and New Year period (for some, January 2018 bookings were similar to that of January 2017). UK buyers attending ATF were expecting a pick-up in demand from their customers as some airlines offered good deals in early 2018. Tourism officials reported that activity at Mount Agung has slowed and visitors are picking up the message that the volcano is 50 miles away from Kuta and the main tourist hubs and largely unaffects holidaymakers. indonesia.travel

I N T ERVI EW

THE 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum took place in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with nearly 300 organisations attending the showcase of southeast Asia’s tourism products. Thailand’s second city, in its rural north, was the perfect venue for the Tourism Authority of Thailand to announce that its new marketing strategy for 2018/19 is ‘Go local’. Tourism ministers gathered at ATF explained that new tax deductions recently introduced will help drive tourism into around 55 ‘secondary provinces’ by letting visitors claim money back off certain hotels and tours.

Tanes Petsuwan, Deputy Governor of TAT, believes that the scheme, which is initially open to domestic travellers before later being extended to international arrivals, will help to encourage tourists to visit lesserknown regions’ by “extending their trips to Lampang province after visiting the ever popular Chiang Mai, for example”. Last year 994,468 UK travellers visited Thailand. New campaigns such as ‘Go Local’ are designed to tempt visitors to return to see parts of Thailand that they may not have previously considered. tourismthailand.org

Bangkok Airways’ Thai-Vietnam link is a hit BANGKOK AIRWAYS is adding an extra weekly flight on its new Bangkok to Phu Quoc route between February 3 and March 24, taking frequency to the island from four to five flights per day. The airline has also opened its new international passenger lounge at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK). bangkokair.com

Why travel by tuk tuk? Driving theirown tuk tuk enables clients to visit interesting rural temples and communities and get a taste of the ‘real’ Thailand, well away from the crowds. Longer trips are always blessed by monks and the accommodation is locally-owned, unique and of a high standard. Who does it appeal to? Everyone! We’ve had clients from 18 years old up to 75, and families and groups of friends celebrating birthdays. It’s a perfect tour to suggest to those looking to get off the tourist trail. How can agents reassure nervous clients? It’s a fairly adventurous thing to do but you don’t have to be a hardened backpacker or a wacky explorer! We take training seriously and have an off-road area where drivers learn and complete their test prior to heading out. We are a registered travel company and have a TAT license and all the insurance policies required to operate. How can agents book? Diethelm (diethelmtravel.com) gives agents around 17% commission and also offers a great net rate. All dates are guaranteed departures to make it easy for both travellers and agents to plan the holidays with confidence.

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 SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH, USA – JANUARY 16-19, 2018

Where the skies are blue From Alaska to Texas there’s plenty on offer out west, reports Sally Parker

On the Oregon trail THIS year sees the 175th anniversary of the Historic Oregon Trail, the famous wagon route spanning 2,170 miles that saw the largest migration in U.S. history. Several events are scheduled at various locations throughout 2018. The film Paint Your Wagon, which starred Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin and was filmed just outside Baker City in the Wallowa Mountains, is also celebrating its 50th anniversary. The mountains are one of the seven Wonders of Oregon, which also include Columbia River Gorge, Crater Lake, Mt Hood, Painted Hills, Oregon Coast and Smith Rock. Delta’s Heathrow to Portland flight, which relaunches in May, will make Oregon even more accessible. traveloregon.com

Boise ready for 2019 BOISE, Idaho, is looking forward to welcoming Go West delegates next year after successfully hosting the event in 2011. Nancy Richardson, Senior International Tourism Specialist for Idaho State Tourism, said: “Idaho, Southwest Idaho and the city of Boise are extremely excited to be staging the 2019 Go West Summit!” “We have hosted this fantastic group once before….but when the Go West team recently visited for a site inspection it could hardly recognize Boise. Since they were last here seven years ago Boise has blossomed, but remains a very friendly small city. “There are new hotels, shops and experiences, but it remains a very walkable city,” Richardson added. Go West 2019 will be held from February 24-28. visitidaho.org

Salt Lake City puts on a show

G O W E ST SH ORT S RETAIL giant Macerich is offering agents 20% commission for every package they book. These include its Shop and Spa offer at the recentlyexpanded Scottsdale Fashion Square, Arizona. The $82 package includes a tote bag, passport cover, concierge service, valet parking, 15-minute Nordstrum massage and a make-up consultation by Sephora. macerich.coms.

LAKE POWELL, UTAH

THE 30th annual Go West Summit, the annual trade showcase of the 16 westernmost states of the USA, brought together 337 destinations and tourism suppliers and 189 buyers and media from 19 countries. From an opening event held at the Natural History Museum of Utah to a closing night that included a special performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Temple Square, attendees were invited to explore Salt Lake City and discover the ‘American West’. Mary Motsenbocker, Go West President said: “The busy trade floor schedule included 10,964 official appointments. Our partners are tourism offices, CVBs, hotels, transportation, lodging and attractions along with international tour operators

and media. We look forward to continuing to work with our committed partners for many years to come and invite international visitors to discover all that is so amazing in the western staes of the USA”. Richard Wimms, Managing Director of Vacations to America, was among the delegation of UK tour operators in Salt Lake City and told Selling Travel: “Go West was a successful show for us. We are currently expanding our programmes in all areas of the west so it was a very opportune time for us to attend.” Vacations to America offer a 14-day American Rockies Explorer option, which includes Salt Lake City. Prices start from £2,855pp, including flights and car hire.

A RC of Dreams, a massive stainless steel sculpture spanning the Big Sioux River in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will be completed this year. A 15-foot gap at the centre of the sculpture will tower 70 feet above the river and represent “the leap of faith visionaries take to make their dreams come true”. travelsouthdakota.com

THOMAS Cook Airlines is to launch a twice-weekly direct seasonal service between Manchester and Seattle-Tacoma from May 27. thomascookairlines.

SEAT TLE’S Space Needle is undergoing a $100-million renovation to its Observation Deck spaceneedle.com

gowestsummit.com; vacationstoamerica.com

Texas destination resort gets major facelift HORSESHOE Bay Resort in Texas will complete a $60-million renovation by the end of the year. New features include a sports bar, seafood restaurant and two club houses to complement its three golf courses, gym, tennis courts and spa. Set by a lake with its own beach, the 400unit resort is an hour west of Austin. hsbresort.com

“Together with our partners we have worked hard to create growth in international visitors to the westernmost states of the USA” Mary Motsenbocker, Go West President

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the review: checking out

Checking out...

HOTELS / RESORTS / TRAIN JOURNEYS / CRUISES / AIRPORT REVIEWS

AN DA Z C O S TA R IC A – Peninsula Papagayo BY JULIE BAXTER

THE BACKGROUND: A Hyatt property, this luxury resort has been designed to capture the native spirit of Costa Rica with low-impact eco-architecture and distinctive ‘Pura Vida’ (pure life) philosophy and many local touches. THE LOCATION: A 25-minute drive from Liberia Airport, the 153-room resort is set within the immaculate grounds of the purpose-built resort peninsula. Every room has stunning views of the ocean across a calm, expansive bay. THE ROOM: Bright and contemporary, the highlight of my room was the balcony complete with sofa, ceiling fan and fabulous view. The floor-to-ceiling fold-back doors extend to the bathroom so the walk-in rainforest shower can be open to the view too. Complimentary extras include flip-flops and sunhat, wi-fi, snacks and soft drinks minibar (refreshed daily) and top-end toiletries. KEY FACILITIES: There are two pool areas (one for adults only which is regularly visited by wild white-faced monkeys) and two private

T H E V E R D I CT This property’s stylish contemporary reception welcomes guests with a wow factor and its location – fringing the bay – ensures spectacular views throughout. Somewhat away from the nearest town, there are local touches embedded across the operation and local flavours dominate in the

beaches with complimentary watersports. A 15-minute shuttle ride connects to a further beach and the Beach House restaurant, sun loungers (with waiter service) and watersports. There is also a kids’ club, laundry service and the beautiful Onda spa, plus a range of daily activities from mixology or cerviche classes to guided hikes and kayak tours. RESTAURANTS/BARS: The three

restaurants each have a Latin vibe and include the open-air Rio Bhongo, serving lavish breakfasts and international cuisine all day; Chao Pescao serving local tapas; and the high-end Ostra, where seafood and the local cerviche are the speciality.

restaurants. The staff are

Address: Peninsula Papagoya Guanacaste, Costa Rica;

around £400 a night for a

 andazpapagayo.com;  +506 2690 1234;

double-bed room.

excellent, friendly and efficient and nothing is too much trouble. RATES: Prices start from

 gscenter.papagayo@andaz.com

R ADI S S ON BL U M AL L OF AM E R IC A – Bloomington, Minnesota, USA BY PETER ELLEGARD

THE BACKGROUND: Bookending the sprawling Mall of America in Bloomington (the JW Marriott is at the other end), this uber-chic hotel opened in 2013. It offers stylish luxury from its public areas – with the rug by the lobby fireplace centrepiece a map of Minnesota’s lakes, the white wall of the lobby

inspired by shopping bag tissue paper and a cloakroom painted by a local graffiti artist – to its 500 fashion-inspired rooms. THE LOCATION: Minutes from Minneapolis/ St Paul International Airport, there are excellent road connections to the Twin Cities and beyond. The Mall of America light rail metro station is adjacent and links directly

to the airport and downtown Minneapolis. A Skybridge connects the hotel to the mall. THE ROOM: My business-floor Mansion Room featured a comfy, king-size bed. The bathroom featured a walk-in shower. There was a large, wall-mounted flat-screen HD TV, a desk and chair, a winged armchair and footstool, a side table and a black cabinet housing a fridge with a Cuisinart coffee maker. Free high-speed wi-fi is available throughout the hotel and my room gave me access to the top-floor hospitality lounge. RESTAURANTS/BARS: The FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar has a cabin feel thanks to the wood used on the ceiling and walls, which was recycled from Minnesota barns. The Minnesota-inspired fare uses local ingredients. FACILITIES: There’s an indoor saline pool, a 24-hour fitness centre, a spa and salon and a Blu Kids Club.

T H E V E R D I CT Designer Jim Hamilton had fun with this hotel and striking elements such as teardrop-shaped hanging wicker chairs and walls resembling crumpled tissue paper in the lobby are guaranteed to make guests smile. One of the biggest hotels in Bloomington, it has a cosy and intimate feel. Best of all, it is steps away from America’s biggest entertainment and shopping mall (with tax-free shopping on clothes and shoes).

2100 Killebrew Drive, Bloomington, Minnesota,

RATES: From £105.92 a

USA, 55425;  radissonblu.com/en/hotel-mall-

night in an entry-level room.

of-america;  +1 952 881 5258

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Exuding European grandeur and urban glamour, discover a space that mirrors your sense of style and live the iconic Versace lifestyle in a cosmopolitan city that echoes the charms of tradition. Explore our family, business, honeymoon and other stay offers at www.palazzoversace.ae/en/specialoffers

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introducing

Tennessee The launch this spring of non-stop transatlantic flights will open up Tennessee to UK visitors like never before. Peter Ellegard explores the Volunteer State's appeal Tennessee is set to enjoy a huge boost from British Airways’ new flights from London to Nashville. The service, which will operate from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 five days a week using a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, coincides with the Brand USA 2018 MegaFam. The fam will see 100 UK and Irish agents come together in Nashville for the finale event after travelling across the U.S. on seven different itineraries. The agents will then fly back on the inaugural eastbound flight on May 4. Prior to that, a Tennessee UK sales mission will include three receptions for agents, in Glasgow (April 24), Manchester (April 25) and London (April 26). The UK is already Nashville’s biggest overseas market and the new non-stop service is expected to boost UK visitor numbers by 36% this year and a further 18% in 2019, with the total predicted to double that of 2016 by 2025 – providing a fillip for the rest of the state as well.

DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE

Musical roots Music is the main attraction for many UK visitors to Tennessee. The state rocks from its western border with Arkansas, formed by the meandering Mississippi, to the Appalachian Mountains bordering North Carolina in the east. Take your pick from blues to country and a host of other music genres. Nashville sits in the middle and its famous music joints include the Grand Ole Opry (opry.com), featuring up to eight acts in each performance, and the Ryman Auditorium (ryman.com), known as the ‘Mother Church of Country Music’ and regarded as the birthplace of bluegrass. The city’s Music Row district also incorporates the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and Nashville’s new Plaza

BEALE STREET, MEMPHIS

Mariachi Music City (plazamariachi.com), 10 minutes from downtown, features shops, eateries and Latin-infused entertainment and culture. Memphis, in the far south-western corner of Tennessee, has Beale Street (bealestreet.com) for music lovers. Designated the ‘Home of Blues’ by an Act of Congress, this historic district encompasses more than two dozen clubs, cafes and restaurants along the famous stretch and adjacent roads, with live music mostly licensed until 03.00 but it can stay open as late as 05.00.

THE DETAILS TIME ZONE: GMT -6 (Western Tennessee); GMT -5 (Eastern Tennessee) STATE NICKNAME: The Volunteer State HOW TO GET THERE: British Airways begins direct flights from London Heathrow to Nashville on May 4. Popular gateways for

indirect services include Atlanta, Newark, Houston and Chicago. FLIGHT TIME: Nine hours direct (from May); from around 11.5 hours indirect. USEFUL CONTACTS: Tennessee Office of Tourism: deep-south-usa. com/tennessee; email tennessee@ deep-south-usa.com

TOUR OPERATORS: Luxury Gold (insightluxurygold.com) Vacations to America (vacationstoamerica.com), Travel 2 (travel2.com), Titan Travel (titanagents.co.uk), Great Rail Journeys (greatrail.com). America As You Like It (americaasyoulikeit.com)

THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS

Elvis Presley’s Graceland (graceland.com) mansion in Memphis remains a strong draw for his global legion of fans, who can stay at the 450-room Guest House at Graceland (guesthousegraceland.com), which features themed suites and a live performance theatre. In eastern Tennessee, subterranean concert series Bluegrass Underground has a new home in The Caverns (thecaverns.com), within the base of Monteagle Mountain and 45 minutes from Chattanooga.

“The exciting news for Nashville is the new British Airways service. We are thrilled to be hosting the Brand USA MegaFam finale - agents can expect lots of live music!” Laurel Bennett, Tourism Sales VP, Nashville CVC

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New trails This summer will see the launch of Tennessee Music Pathway, an initiative that will link many music-centred attractions, both in small towns and big cities, throughout the state. It follows on from the successful Tennessee Whiskey Trail (tnwhiskeytrail.com), spanning 30 distilleries state-wide and launched last June, and the Tennessee Civil War Trails, with routes linking sites and events highlighted by interpretive markers. Tennessee landmarks also feature on the new US Civil Rights Trail that launched in January across 14 states. They include the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated and the National Civil Rights Museum, both in Memphis.

Track record There’s plenty more for visitors to enjoy in Tennessee – whether it is more entertainment they crave, discovering nature’s wonders in America’s most-visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or exploring roads less travelled to find hidden charms. Rail buffs can get steamed up by staying at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel (choochoo.com), with its Victorian Train Car hotel rooms in downtown Chattanooga, while the Lookout Mountain Incline Railway (lookoutmountain.com) is one of America’s most spectacular rail trips. Great Rail Journeys (greatrail.com) has a new, 14-day Tracks of the Deep South tour priced from £3,295pp that includes several Tennessee highlights, among them Chattanooga’s railroads, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg and Graceland. And for those who want to get away from it all, a drive along the Top Secret Trail takes in the stunning scenery of eastern Tennessee from Knoxville into the Upper Cumberland Plateau and Appalachian foothills, experiencing the area’s culture and sampling home cooking. Or they can lose themselves in the vast Great Smoky Mountains park, accessed via Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

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Where to book it Insight Vacations sister brand Luxury Gold’s nine-day Southern Grace itinerary, taking clients from Nashville to New Orleans, costs from £3,895pp and includes return flights from London, luxury accommodation, breakfasts and some other meals. Guests will enjoy an after-hours tour of Graceland hosted by George Klein, a long-time friend of Elvis, followed by a Southern buffet served amidst the King’s car collection. insightluxurygold.com 

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serbia

southern star

With its medieval fortresses, Roman relics, UNESCO sites, traditional towns and villages and wine-growing region, offbeat and upbeat Serbia offers a European city break like no other, says Stuart Forster

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M

y eyes quickly adapt to the low light of (klm.com) flights via Amsterdam are an option the mild, musty-smelling wine cellar. from regional UK airports while Ryanair (ryanair. com) and easyJet (easyjet.com) also connect. Wooden barrels, some more than 100 Niš Constantine the Great Airport, years old, stand on palettes below a brickwork named after another Serbian-born Roman arch. ‘Probus 12’ is scrawled in chalk on the emperor, is a gateway to the south-east. barrel to my right, denoting a grape varietal Serbia retains an air of mystique, explains named after one of the 16 Roman emperors born Simon Grove, Head of Product at Explore. on the territory that is now Serbia — and vintage. “It’s one of those destinations that people This is the Živanović Winery on the edge have heard of but know little about. of Sremski Karlovci, a town whose ochre “Serbia has some stunning parks. Tara National Patriarch’s Palace is typical of the grand Park is possibly the most beautiful and can be buildings erected during Habsburg rule. combined with traditional towns and villages, Sweet, spiced Bermet wine, made in this fantastic food and a hospitable welcome.” region, was a favourite at the empire’s court. Says David McGuinness, Founding Director of Realising that I’m British, a member of the Travel The Unknown: “Serbia is arguably one Živanović family welcomes me into the compact of Europe’s last hidden gems, with its ancient onsite museum and shows documents proving Neolithic sites, medieval fortresses, Roman that its wine was stocked aboard The Titanic. sites, UNESCO heritage monasteries and quirky The private museum’s focus, however, is festivals…word is starting to spread but it is still beekeeping. I wander over to a novelty hive, very much a niche, unexplored destination.” designed to look like an orthodox church: it Excavations of reminds me of the the Roman city of monasteries I visited “We’re seeing this rapid Viminacium, 90 earlier today in the growth because we offer a miles south-east of rolling hills of Fruška Gora National Park. range of year-round, quality Belgrade, are among the highlights likely Frescoes at Krušedol products: city breaks, to appeal to history Monastery, painted cultural tours, winter sports aficionados and around 500 years old, can be packaged to impressed me with and activity holidays, river to culturally their vibrant hues. cruising, health tourism and appeal aware travellers. Checking my watch, festivals are reasons to visit” Health tourism I realise it’s almost is one sector that time to head on to Russell Stenhouse, UK PR and Marketing Representative, MPR Network (Serbia Tourism UK) is booming – Novi Sad, whose vast dental treatments Petrovaradin Fortress are available for a fraction of UK prices. For doubles as the venue for the raucous EXIT music example, Atomska Spa (atomskabanjagornjatrepca. festival. Perhaps I’ll buy a bottle of Bermet. rs/en) at Gornja Trepca offers diagnostics and New horizons therapeutic treatments for various ailments. As offbeat as much as it is upbeat, Serbia is Popular summer festivals include the Belgrade on the rise. Regent Holidays (regent-holidays.co.uk) Beer Festival (belgradebeerfest.com/en), Nišville Jazz offers a day trip to Novi Sad and Fruška Gora Festival (nisville.com/en), EXIT (exitfest.org/en) and in its new five-day Belgrade Short Break trip, the four-day Guca Trumpet Festival (guca.rs/en). Explore (explore.co.uk) offers an 11-day Serbian priced from £765pp. This can be tailor-made Summer Festivals tour priced from £1,545pp. with three- to five-star accommodation and Many Brits who attended the first EXIT in 2000 includes a half-day walking tour of Belgrade. are returning to explore Serbia with their families. Year on year UK visitor numbers were up 13% in 2017 and the National Tourism Organisation Perfect ten of Serbia has announced double-digit visitor Climb castle walls: Enjoy impressive growth in each of the last five years. views over the confluence of the Danube Valued at €1.2 billion last year, Serbia’s tourism and Sava rivers and insights into Serbian history industry is expected to be worth €1.9 billion by at Belgrade’s Kalemegdan Fortress. next year. Predictions suggest at least a 40% Dark tourism: It’s hard not to shudder rise in visitor numbers over the coming three when viewing the macabre Skull Tower at years, partly down to plans for a television Niš, built with rebel skulls after the First Serbian marketing campaign and Novi Sad being Uprising of 1809. declared European Capital of Culture for 2021. Wine routes: Sample Serbian viniculture Connections from the UK are good. Air Serbia (airserbia.com) flies to Belgrade nine times a week and regional produce by following a wine from Heathrow. From Luton, Wizz Air (wizzair.com) route. A highlight is the 1903 Čoka Cellar at has three direct flights a week to Belgrade. KLM Subotica, by the Hungarian border.

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Culture

Action & Adve

nture

Serbia:

s l a v i t s Fe

the place to be National Tourism Organisation of Serbia

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River dance: Party into the not-so-small hours at one of several clubs on barges docked by Belgrade’s riverbanks. Serbia rocks: Visit Devil’s Town to see eroded columns of rock up to 20 metres tall on the slopes of Mount Radan. Designer goods: Browse chic kitchenware, clothing and gifts by up-and-coming Serbian designers at Belgrade’s Supermarket concept store. Winter fun: Ski 55km of pistes at Serbia’s most popular winter resort, Kapaonik, nicknamed ‘The Mountain of the Sun’. Beach bumming: Serbia may be landlocked but you can still relax on the beach at Belgrade’s Aga Ciganlija, an island in the River Sava. Dining out: Enjoy moderately priced quality meals in Serbia’s restaurants. Čevapčići — platters of grilled meats, bread and dips — are great to share after a day’s walking. On your bike: Visit sites of cultural interest on the Danube while following Eurovélo 6, one of Serbia’s many cycling routes.

What’s new

tour of eastern Serbia is now offered by ibikebelgrade (ibikebelgrade.com), priced from €490pp (£440). The cycling starts from Golubac and continues via Bor to Viliki Buk on 21-gear trekking bikes. E-bikes are also available. Taratours’ (taratours.rs) Magic Tourist Ring day trip starts from Mokra Gora in western Serbia. It includes a ride on the Šargan Eight steam railway to Višegrad and a journey on the River Drina (in Bosnia and Herzegovina). Regular departures are available in July and August, priced from £26pp.  Transport: In January VINCI Airports’ bid was selected for a 25-year concession contract encompassing the operation and maintenance of the recently refurbished Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. In 2017 5.3 million passengers arrived at the airport, 11 miles from the city centre.  Attractions: Belgrade’s Museum for Contemporary Art (eng.msub.org.rs), housed in a striking Modernist building, has reopened following lengthy restorations.

“To truly get a feel for Serbia visit one of the summer festivals such as the Guča Trumpet Festival. Join over half-a-million revellers at an amazingly colourful, loud event that began in 1961” Simon Grove, Head of Product, Explore

Where to book it  GREAT RAIL JOURNEYS – 01904 527 181 Bespoke tours are available. A fournight twin city break combining two nights in Belgrade’s fourstar Belgrade Art Hotel and two nights in Budapest (Hungary) is priced from £535pp, including breakfasts, international economy class flights with checked baggage and standard class rail travel. greatrail.com/grj-independent

 TRAVEL THE UNKNOWN – 01904 527 181 The eight-day Archaeology of Serbia tour comes as a private tour or one of four group departures in May and September. Visits to Belgrade, Novi Sad, Sirmium, Viminacium, Niš and Felix Romuliana are included. Priced from £1,945pp, including flights, transfers, site fees and guides. traveltheunknown.com 

D.BOSNIC

 Hotels: The Sheraton Novi Sad (starwoodhotels. com/Sheraton) is planned to open March 1. The 150-room hotel will feature 10 suites and the top-floor wellness centre has a gym, treatment spa and sauna with city views. There’s also a March opening scheduled for the four-star Mama Shelter Belgrade (accorhotels. com). Packaged as an affordable design hotel, the 125-room property has two bars and a restaurant with a terrace on Knez Mihailova, the Serbian capital’s premier shopping street. The openings of the 242-room Hilton Belgrade (hilton.com) and 120-room Viceroy Kapaonik Serbia (viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) are also planned this year. In the country’s south, the Viceroy will have ski-in, ski-out access, a spa and four dining venues, including an après-ski lounge with mountain views.  Tour operators: A six-day guided cycling

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Opening page: Both the Danube and the Sava flow through Belgrade. This page, clockwise from top left: a Serbian picnic spread; the lofty vistas of Tara National Park; Belgrade’s castle; folk dancers

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48hours in

Oslo Norway's cool capital combines achingly hip bars and clubs with a plethora of great museums, galleries, culture and cuisine. But be warned: It doesn't come cheap, says Adam Coulter Day 1: Vikings and views

From the top: Oslo's futuristic Opera House overlooks the harbour and has a walkable roof; the Damstredet district of central Olso has cobbled streets and old wooden houses dating back to the 1700s; Akershus Castle from the sea

peek’) tower 54 metres up for stunning city and bay views. Oslo’s nightlife is expensive but if you fancy a late night drink head back to the centre to Magic Ice (magicice.no), where everything from the bar to the furniture is carved from ice. Alternatively try the rooftop bar at the Radisson Blu Summit Bar (radissonblu.com) for cocktails and a hipcrowd.

Morning: Oslo is set in a large circular bay dotted with islands and inlets and the easiest way to get a feel for it is to jump on a tourist boat from the main harbour. The boats hop across to Bygdoy, a peninsula which is home to a number of museums. The Viking Ship Museum (khm.uio.no) has full-scale recreations of the original longships Day 2: Brekkie & battlements as well as artefacts and historical films; the Morning: Start your day the Kon Tiki Museum (kon-tiki.no) tells the story of explorer Thor Heydryal, who set out to prove Norwegian way with smoked salmon it was possible to travel from South America and a hard-boiled egg. If you want to to Polynesia by wooden craft – and succeeded; venture out of your hotel then Kaffe Brenneriet (kaffebrenneriet.no) is in a prime spot overlooking the Fram Museum (frammuseum.no) pays moving tribute to Norway's Polar explorers; and the the harbourfront. From here it's a short walk to Norwegian Maritime Museum (marmuseum.no) the Akershus Castle complex – it's free to honours the country's wander around the shipbuilding, fishing outside, to a pond, and marine history. “Thief Island was once rife plenty of battlements Each costs 100KR and grassy areas for with robbers but today is (around £10), but there kids to run around. packed with independently- The site incorporates are discounted tickets for multiple entries the Norwegian owned cafes and bars, or buy an Oslo Pass Resistance Museum restaurants, galleries and an (forsvaretsmuseer.no), an for 395/595KR (24/48 outdoor bathing area” exhibition detailing hours) for free entry the Nazi occupation. to 30 museums, free Those with time on public transport and their hands shold head to the Munch Museum discounts in shops and restaurants. (munchmuseet.no), showcasing the work of the city's Lunch/afternoon: There’s a lovely lunch spot where the Kon Tiki, Fram most famous artist. Afternoon: A 35-minute walk takes and Maritime museums are you to Oslo's trendiest clustered, with a large grassy area with benches neighbourhood, Grünerløkka, a former for picnics and a beach. If it’s warm, grab a few industrial area popular with artists and packed provisions from a local supermarket, or you'll with boutique shops selling original clothes find kiosks outside the museums selling from young Norwegian designers, vintage good-quality fast food such as hotdogs. clobber, jewellery, ceramics and art. Check out Alternatively, restaurant Lille Herbern (lilleherbern. no) is in a stunning setting overlooking the bay Mathallen (mathallenoslo.no), a large indoor food and specialises in local seafood dishes. The market which showcases independent food return boat leaves from here. producers. Grab a snack and enjoy it in Evening: Start in the city's newlyBirkelunden Park or along the river bank.  developed waterfront area – Tjuvholmen, or 'Thief Island' – so BOOK IT WITH SUPERBREAK called because it was once rife with robbers and A three-night stay at the three-star Best Western drug-dealers. Today you'll find it packed with Karl Johnan Hotel, on a B&B basis with return flights one-off cafes and bars, restaurants, galleries and from London Stansted, is from £360pp (based on two an outdoor bathing area. There’s even a cool sharing and a mid-June departure). hotel named after the area (thethief.com). superbreak.com – 01904 717 362 Clients visiting in the summer should take the glass lift up the Tjuvholmen (literally ‘the sneak

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River Cruising

Contents • 71 Youth Cruising • 77 Six of the best: Rhine ports • 78 Focus on the Seine • 80 At a Glance sellingtravel.co.uk

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SELLING TRAVEL A4 advert.qxp_Layout 1 24/02/2018 14:44 Page 1

EXPLORE THE MIGHTY RIVERS OF SOUTH EAST ASIA Founded in 1995 Pandaw is the oldest river expedition company in South-East Asia and continue to this day to pioneer new rivers and routes in six countries with its fleet of seventeen beautiful colonial-style ships.

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go with the

glow

2018 is set to be a watershed year for river cruising as the sector kicks up its heels and shows its youthful side. Sara Macefield looks at a growing range of product for 21- to 45-year-olds

U

by Uniworld is the innovative hip brand that sets sail this April offering a different take on exploring Europe’s rivers. This established river cruise brand has taken two of its vessels, painted them matt black and renamed them The A and The B. Forget cosy and traditional, U by Uniworld is big on immersive, fun and adventurous travel and the cool onboard vibe is matched by on-trend shore adventurous ranging from

bar crawls to bike rides to street art tours. Uniworld has admitted it is something of an experiment but UK Managing Director Chris Townson is confident there is a market for a more youthful river cruise product and claims sales are starting to “kick in”. “The response to U by Uniworld, both from the trade and consumers, has been phenomenal and it’s a really exciting time to be involved in the river cruise industry,” he added. “There are key points of difference that set U by Uniworld apart . . . and referencing these will help travel agents to showcase how U by Uniworld cruises are light years away from a ‘traditional’ river cruise. “It’s an effortless, multi-destination city break, crammed full of luxurious, adventurous and fun inclusions,” he concluded. Townson urges agents to reach younger customers on social media channels including Instagram, adding: “We appreciate this may be new territory for some, so are offering all the tools they need to help tap into this exciting new revenue stream.” Having started to make inroads into the UK market, helped by a ‘kids sail free’

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youth cruising

offer which applies to under-15s on all departures, German line A-Rosa has extended its product range this year. “In 2017, we carried 2,000 children and we expect this figure to continue growing as we focus more on this segment of the market,” said Lucia Rowe, A-Rosa’s UK & Ireland Head. She claims demand for family river cruises is rising and it is vital for lines and agents to work together to change perceptions of the product and promote its child-friendly credentials. “I would urge agents to highlight the key USPs that rivers can offer in the family sector as, on our ships, the relaxed atmosphere on-board and informal dining options are perfect for accommodating family members of all ages,” she added. Other established family-friendly river cruise lines such as Tauck and Uniworld offer dedicated family sailings, while G Adventures and Aqua Expeditions also cater for children. Meanwhile, Avalon Waterways is reporting a marked increase in younger and young-atheart travellers after launching Active Discovery sailings on the Danube last year which offered biking and running tours along with novel activities such as archery lessons and learning how to conduct an orchestra. This year, it has expanded the concept to Rhine cruises.

Perfect ten Go wild: Take a walk through the jungle on Amazon cruises to spot monkeys leaping through the trees and flocks of

brightly-coloured parrots soaring through the sky. Ride ‘em cowboy: Watch the ranchers of the Camargue show off their horsemanship skills on Rhone cruises during rodeo shows in the heart of France’s ‘wild west’. Burmese days: Take off on hot air balloon rides above the temples of Bagan, ride tuk tuks across the tropical terrain and ring one of the world’s largest bells at Mingun on voyages along Burma’s Irrawaddy River. Getting shipshape: Sample onboard cookery classes, children’s movie nights and even visit the captain on the bridge on selected European family river sailings. Venetian glories: Float along Venice’s canals in a gondola and try your hand at mask-making and glass-blowing classes. Going underground: Plunge into the tunnels beneath Nuremburg on Main sailings; originally built to store beer, but then used as shelters during World War II. Parisian pursuits: Cycle along the Seine, tuck into a Parisian-style picnic in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower and join a scavenger hunt in the Louvre. Clogs and canals: Hop on and off Amsterdam’s canal boats to explore the Dutch city on a Rhine cruise, with attractions ranging from the house of Anne Frank to a Carlsbery brewery. Temples and trinkets: Take a Mekong cruise to watch Buddhist monks

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“Avalon Waterways is seeing a marked increase in younger and young-at-heart travellers after launching active discovery cruises on the Danube, offering running and biking tours along with novel activities like archery”

Opening page: A family explores Avignon; U by Uniworld’s funky decor. This page, clockwise from top left: A-Rosa’s Stella; breakfast with G Adventures; burgers on U by Uniworld; kayaking on an Avalon Active Discovery cruise

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families with its newest vessel, American Duchess, which sails through the heartlands of the U.S. along the Mississippi and its tributaries, offering music-themed sailings, among others, that call at New Orleans and Nashville. The 166-passenger vessel also has family suites with an open veranda and private sitting area. American Queen is also promoting soft adventure activities on sister paddlewheeler American Empress during sailings along the Colombia and Snake rivers, where kayaking and ziplining are offered.  New product: Uniworld offers familyfriendly sailings under its Generations tag, featuring activities specifically tailored to younger cruisers, and has bolstered the range with a new Remarkable Rhine sailing between Basle and Amsterdam. A-Rosa has extended its kids’ clubs this year by adding more school holiday dates and a new children’s club on Seine sailings.

Tourism talk

“We’re already seeing new groups discover river cruising, including millennials, multigenerational family groups and solo travellers – and this looks set to continue” Andy Harmer, CLIA

conduct a traditional blessing ceremony and dive into colourful local markets. Stretch your legs: Stride out on Bavaria’s forested slopes for ranger-led hikes or mountain biking during a Rhine cruise.

What’s new  Special offers: Asia specialist Pandaw River Expeditions is offering free places for five to 18-year-olds to encourage more families. The boutique line is giving up to two youngsters a free cabin when travelling with two fullfare paying adults on selected school holiday departures along the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia and on Burma’s Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers. The sailings also include youth-orientated activities such as movie nights, cultural evenings and use of mountain bikes. �New New ships: While not marketing itself specifically to families, AmaWaterways is seeing more inter-generational groups and is increasingly catering for them with its newer vessels which have more inter-connecting cabins. Its newest craft, AmaLea AmaLea, launching this month, will have six inter-connecting cabins and 12 cabins that come with a third bed for families. The American Queen Steamboat Company is targeting

“River cruising is undergoing something of a renaissance, with new ships, itineraries and younger guests than ever before. The main key to its growing success is the industry’s hard work in changing perceptions of river cruising. Fabulous new ships boasting balconies, interconnecting cabins (which are ideal for families of all ages), swimming pools, spas and cinemas, plus new exciting shore excursions mean there has never been a greater choice for river guests – and this is vital in helping to attract younger customers. “We’re already seeing new groups discovering river cruising, including millennials, multigenerational family groups, and solo travellers, and this looks set to continue.” Andy Harmer, Senior VP and UK & Ireland Director, Cruise Lines International Association

Where to book it  PANDAW – 020 8326 5620 Family-friendly one-week sailings from Bagan to Mandalay on Burma’s Irrawaddy take place on July 28, September 29 and October 20. One or two under-18s travel free in their own cabin when accompanied by two full-fare paying adults. Prices are from £1,160pp ($1,611), including excursions, selected drinks and gratuities. pandaw.com  TAUCK – 0800 810 8020 Blue Danube family cruises from Vilshofen or Regensburg to Budapest depart on July 7 and July 28, with prices from £2,985 per adult. Children aged 12 and under qualify for a £340 saving. Price includes flights, shore excursions, gratuities and selected drinks. tauck.co.uk  Clockwise from top left: Family bike ride in Austria with Tauck; chocolate tasting with Avalon; face painting on a Uniworld cruise; G Adventures in the Amazon

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WINNER OF 15 AWARDS

Ocean and River Cruise brochures

OUT NOW!

Unique cruise holidays worldwide, always with added value and Titan extras!

All cruises include VIP door-to-door travel service PLUS FREE connecting regional flights*

For more details please visit www.titanagents.co.uk *

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RIVER REWARDS Earn luxury prizes with every booking

2019

Cruises at 2018 Prices Plus

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FREE Private Door-to-Door Chauffeur Transfers^ Worth up to £330 per couple

With Scenic, it’s all included

E X T R A O R D I NA RY a d ve n t u re s a w ai t

Scenic set the standard for river cruising in Europe and our truly all-inclusive promise ensures everything your customers could need is included in the price. From fine-dining and premium branded beverages, to spacious suites, a butler service, award-winning included excursions and return flights, our attention to detail is second-to-none.

o Flights from a choice of up to 15 UK airports, or a NO FLY option via Eurostar o Unlimited premium branded drinks and in-suite mini bar* o Fine dining in a choice of up to six on board venues o Private invitation to Portobellos or L’Amour – fine-dining with wine pairing o Award-winning complimentary shore excursions o Once-in-a-lifetime Scenic Enrich events and experiences o The largest suites on Europe’s rivers o Exclusive cocktail receptions in majestic locations o Exclusive GPS tailor-made devices for self-guided touring and use of our e-bikes o Butler and laundry service for all guests o Complimentary WiFi internet o All tipping, transfers and taxes *All drinks are included on-board except for a very small number of rare, fine and vintage wines, champagnes and spirits.

All from £1,595 per person

Call reservations on: 0808 115 0463 | Email: agencysales@scenic.co.uk | Or contact your local Sales Manager Terms and conditions: Offers are valid for new 2019 bookings, made only between 8th February and 30th April 2018. Private door-to-door transfers are complimentary within a 75 mile radius and are subject to availability. For guests who live outside of this 75 mile radius, an additional supplement of £2.00 per mile will be charged thereafter, UK mainland only. Offers can be withdrawn at any time. For full terms and conditions please visit www.scenic.co.uk.

ONE GREAT COMPANY, TWO GREAT BRANDS RIVER REWARDS Earn luxury prizes with every booking

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Save a guaranteed £1,000 per couple Enjoy €250 per cabin to spend on-board

Exceptional EmeraldVALUE - It’s all included in the price

Discover the wonders of Europe on an award-winning river cruise For a classic river cruise with a contemporary twist, it has to be Emerald Waterways. Our award-winning fleet of state-of-the-art Star-Ships bring the highlights of ocean cruising to the intimacy of Europe’s rivers. Your customers can pick from a wide selection of meticulously planned itineraries on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Douro or Rhône rivers and enjoy a wealth of tantalising inclusions on every cruise, including delicious and diverse dining, a unique selection of unforgettable onshore experiences and spacious accommodation aboard our innovative fleet.

Return flights from a choice of up to 15 UK airports Spacious on-board accommodation All on-board meals in Reflections Restaurant Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner Free tea & coffee on-board Onshore excursions and guided tours Extra-special EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE experiences Earn EmeraldEXPLORER points Complimentary Wi-Fi on-board Complimentary on-board bicycles First-class service from an English speaking crew All port charges and taxes PLUS all on-board tips saving up to £440 per couple

From £1,245 per person † Please note:the Emerald Radiance Star-Ship on the River Douro does not have bicycles or an indoor heated pool/cinema instead, there is a Serenity Pool on the Sun Deck.

Call reservations on: 0808 115 0469 | Email: agencysales@emeraldwaterways.co.uk | Or contact your local Sales Manager Terms and conditions: The 2019 cruises at 2018 prices promotion is based on the same cruise departing at a similar time year on year. The £1,000 per couple saving is based on the full brochure price and the €250 on-board spend is per cabin, based on two people sharing. The €250 on-board spend will be deducted from the final bill upon departure. All offers are valid until 18th May 2018. We reserve the right to withdraw our offers at any time. For full terms and conditions please visit emeraldwaterways.co.uk.

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six of the best

NETHERLANDS GERMANY

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Europe’s longest and most important river rises in Switzerland and passes through some of Europe’s most vibrant cities and scenic towns. Laura Gelder sets sail Basel

At the crossroads of Germany and France, this rich Swiss city has head and heart, being home to two pharma giants as well as ART Basel, the world’s most famous contemporary art show. Top sights include the Marktplatz, dominated by the 500-year-old red town hall and surrounded by narrow streets filled with quirky shops, the botanical gardens and Kunstmusuem, the largest art collection in the country. The cultural mix means a diverse food scene and a must-taste is Basler Leckerli , a local spiced cookie made of kirsch, nuts and candied fruit.

Cologne The city’s twin-towered cathedral, or ‘dom’ is one of Europe’s largest churches and presides over the picturesque streets of coloured houses. Indulgence is the order of the day in Cologne, with visitors usually spending their time in the city sampling the local beers sold in the kellers of the pretty Old Town and visiting the Chocolate Museum to taste another of the city’s specialities. The annual Carnival takes place in February/ March and is legendary, with over one million people joining the celebrations each year.

Koblenz Sitting at the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle, Koblenz was a Roman military post. Forests, vineyards and four converging mountain ranges form the backdrop and the best views of the Baroque Old Town are from the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, a huge Prussian construction which is the largest preserved fortress in Europe and fascinates historians. Also close by is the romantic Stolzenfels Castle. Every August the town holds Rhein in Flammen, three days of music and entertainment cumminating in fireworks.

Mainz The enormous sixtowered Cathedral of St. Martin, founded in 975 AD, dominates Mainz, but just south of it lies a quaint medieval Old Town and many more Baroque and Gothic churches as well as the remains of a Roman aqueduct. Small shops, boutiques and cafés surround pretty Kirschgarten square, with its postcardperfect timber-framed houses and tinkling fountain. One of the main attractions is the local wine, which can be enjoyed in cosy bars and taverns with pious names like Collection Box and Confessional.

Strasbourg Cobbled streets, crooked timbered medieval houses, cosy taverns, twisting alleyways and meandering canals characterise this fairytale capital of Alsace. The city houses the European Parliament and its myriad bureaucrats as well as a huge student population to balance out the grey suits. The city’s impressive Romanesque-Gothic Cathédrale de Notre-Dame has views of the Black Forest and Vosges mountains and the baroque Rohan Palace has a fascinating history and a former guest list including Marie Antoinette.

Rudesheim Gateway to the Rhine Gorge, this charming wine-making town is perhaps the Rhine’s most picturesque. At its heart is Drosselgasse, a cobbled street filled with historic buildings, restaurants, bars and shops and a magical atmosphere – filled with fairy lights and steaming gluhwein in the winter and flowery hanging baskets and pavement cafes in the summer. Rüdesheim’s Cable Car transports visitors up to the Germania monument and offers a panorama over the vineyards. A chairlift takes visitors to Niederwald Castle.

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Seine A watery artery flowing through the heart of Paris, the Seine winds its way towards the English Channel passing medieval market towns and postcard rural scenes on every bend, says Jessica Pook Top attractions Rouen Paved with cobbled streets and halftimbered houses, Rouen is where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake for heresy and Richard the Lionheart was crowned Duke of Normandy. Paris Home to the Eifel Tower, Sacre-Coeur, Champs Elysees and so much more, it’s hard not to fall for the city of love – especially when the Seine provides the perfect backdrop. Vernon Visit Monet’s garden and you’ll recognise the Japanese bridge seen in his Nympheas paintings. Some of his original works are inside the Musée Alphonse-Georges Poulain in Vernon.

A-ROSA CRUISES

With every twist of the Seine there’s a story waiting to be told. It hugs some of the countries famous landmarks, brings to life Monet’s most renowned paintings and transports you back in time to cobbled streets once stomped by Richard the Lion Heart. The river begins its journey in a village named Source-Seine, before coiling northwest for 483 miles through Normandy and filtering out into the Channel. Cruisers are spoilt for choice with Shearings, Riviera, Crystal, Scenic and Newmarket Holidays all offering anything from threenight weekenders to luxury 11-day trips.

When to go Spring is the time to fully experience France’s impressive flora in full bloom. Monet’s garden in Giverny is a true representation of the muchloved painting and the gardens of Versailles really come to life. Customers cruising in the summer months will find the river is the perfect way to enjoy the generous sunshine while providing some relief from the heat. August is peak time for visitors but Parisians tend to skip town when it gets too hot, giving the city time to breath. And although the Seine may struggle

to compete with the Rhine in Germany when it comes to Christmas markets, the low season still provides plenty of festive cheer. Agents should be aware that heavy rain flow at this time of year can prevent access into Paris from the Seine.

What to expect Although river cruises are typically popular with the 60-plus bracket, operators such as A-ROSA are attempting to make river cruising more appealing to families with offerings including ‘all children under 15 cruise for free’. The orchards, lavender fields and vineyards that dot the riverscapes will spoil nature lovers, along with the sandy beaches and rugged cliffs of Normandy. Shoppers need no introduction to the fashion capital of the world with cafes and culture aplenty in Paris while historians can trace the steps taken by Joan of Arc before she met her fiery end in Rouen.

How to sell A-ROSA reports an 80% growth in UK passengers during the last 12 months with passengers especially eager to see D-Day Normandy Beaches and the Bayeux Tapestry. 

Normandy This region of France is known for its produce of cheese and ciders. The dramatic coastline is bursting with history, from the D-Day Landing beaches to the Norman invasion.

BOOK IT WITH SHEARINGS Shearings’ Paris & Versailles cruise is priced from £559pp including return coach transfer. This four-night all-inclusive cruise departs November 27 or December 5, 2018 and includes two excursions plus overnight stay on the outbound journey with en-route excursion to Amiens. shearings.com

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Our 2019 River Cruises now on sale

New five-star ships for 2019 Riviera Travel will be introducing two five-star ships to its magnificent fleet in 2019. The MS Dylan Thomas

The MS George Eliot

The all-suite MS Dylan Thomas is the sister ship of the muchadmired MS Emily Brontë. Measuring 135 metres in length, it is Swiss-operated, carries up to 167 guests and offers the intimate ambience and service of a boutique hotel.

The Swiss-operated MS George Eliot measures 110 metres in length, carries up to 132 guests and offers the convivial ambience and personal service of a boutique hotel.

Book early to secure your clients’ first choice for their 2019 river cruise, safe in the knowledge that they won’t see a cheaper price later - we never discount. Limited number of lower deck cabins available on all ships with no sole occupancy supplement. Once they’re gone, they’re gone! Superb value for your solo customers. Bulk supplies of the new 2018/19 agent River Cruise brochure will be sent to you automatically by Trade-Gate W/C 5th March 2018.

Joseph

Darren

Tamzin

Mia

YOUR FRIENDLY AGENCY SALES TEAM

To book, call: 01283 744370 Visit us online at www.rivieratravel.co.uk/agents For agency sales support, email: agencysales@rivieratravel.co.uk Riviera Travel booking terms and conditions apply.

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DUTCH Waterways

FRENCH Waterways

A-ROSA River Cruises

020 3290 5713 arosa-cruises.com

£999pp, 7-night Danube Classic cruise, incl. meals, drinks, and a 15% spa discount

AmaWaterways

0800 520 2252 amawaterways.co.uk

£1,778, 7-night Melodies of the Danube, incl. all meals with wine & beer plus excursions

APT River Cruisesw

0800 012 6686 aptouring.co.uk

£1,195pp, 8-day Reflections of the Rhine & Main incl flights, meals, excursions, transfers

Avalon Waterways

0800 668 1843 avaloncruises.co.uk

£2,289pp, 8-day Taste of the Danube cruise, Vienna to Budapest, incl. UK transfers with VIP pick-up & flights

Belmond

0845 077 2222 belmond.com

£990pp, 2-night cruise on Road to Mandalay with transfers, meals with wine & excursions

CroisiEurope

020 8328 1281 croisieurope.co.uk

£325pp for a four-day short break in Paris

  

Crystal River Cruises

020 7399 7604 crystalcruises.co.uk

£1,910, 7-night cruise Budapest to Vienna incl. meals, drinks, overseas transfers & excursions

Emerald Waterways

0808 115 0469 emeraldwaterways.co.uk

£1,245pp, 8-day Secrets of the Douro cruise, incl. flights, excursions and meals onboard

European Waterways

01753 598 555 europeanwaterways.com

£2,590pp, 6-night all-inclusive hotel barge cruises in UK, France, Italy, Holland & Ireland

 

Far Horizon Tours & Cruises

01252 714 477 perlrivercruises.com

£1,579pp, 7-night Brahmaputra cruise. Cruiseonly incl. excursions & international transfers

Fred.\River Cruises

0808 159 5256 fredrivercruises.co.uk

£599pp, 7-day (no-fly) Dutch Towns & Spring Gardens, full-board incl. return coach transfers

Great Rail Journeys & Rail Discoveries

0800 240 4470 greatrail.com/raildiscoveries.com

£795, 5-day The Path of the Seine, Paris to Normandy including rail, 11 meals and drinks

Insider Journeys

01865 268 944 insiderjourneys.co.uk

£3,093, 16-day Mekong & Beyond small group journey. (7 nights’ cruise, 8 nights’ hotel)

Mekong Prestige River Cruise

0808 168 1458 ewaterways.co.uk

£1,149pp, 8 night cruise only between Saigon and Siem Reap, full-board including drinks

Mekong River Cruises

01252 714 477 perlrivercruises.com

£650pp, 5-night Luang Prabang roundtrip cruise incl. excursions and transfers

Newmarket Holidays

0330 160 7999 newmarketholidays.co.uk

£269pp, 4-day Rhine Christmas Markets Cruise

Pandaw

020 8326 5620 pandaw.com

US$1,796pp 7-nights Mandaly to Bagan

Riviera Travel

01283 744 370 / 744 390 rivieratravel.co.uk/agents

£699pp for the Amsterdam & Dutch Bulbfields cruise

Saga

0800 074 8021 saga.co.uk/rivercruises

£699pp, 6 night Jazz on the Dutch Waterways cruise, full-board with return coach travel

Sanctuary Retreats

+44 (0)1242 546609 sanctuaryretreats.com

£714pp, 3-night cruise from Bagan to Mandalay in 2016, based on two people

Scenic

0808 115 0463 scenic.co.uk

£1,595pp, 8-day Iconic Danube cruise, incl. flights, excursions, meals & drinks

Shearings Holidays

0344 556 0888 shearings.com/rivercruises

From £444, 4-night Scenic Rhine New Year full-board cruise with return coach travel

Tauck River Cruises

0800 810 8020 tauck.co.uk

£2,645pp, 8-day ‘Holland & Belgium in the Spring’ incl. flights & category one cabin

Titan

0800 988 5800 titanagents.co.uk

£999pp, 8-day Riverside Cities of Holland & Germany incl. meals, flights and VIP transfers

The River Cruise Line

01858 438 311 rivercruiseline.co.uk

£995pp, 10-day Danube, Vienna & Budapest full-board cruise on the four-star Serenity

Uniworld

0808 168 9231 uniworld.com/uk

£2,089, 8 day all-inclusive Castles Along the Rhine cruise from Basel to Amsterdam

Viking

020 8780 7985 vikingcruises.co.uk

£1545pp, 8-day Romantic Danube incl. wifi, meals with wine and beer & daily excursions

Wendy Wu Tours

0800 902 0888 wendywutours.co.uk

£2,690pp, 14-day fully-inclusive Majestic Yangtze tour with flights and guided touring

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CHOBE, Botswana

RHINE, Switzerland to the Netherlands

PO, Italy

MOSELLE, France, Lux, Germany

£1149pp, 7 night Paris, Normandy & the River Seine incl. flights, non UK transfers & port charges

LEAD-IN CRITERIA

ELBE, Czech Republic to Germany

0800 035 6411 amadeus-rivercruises.co.uk

RESERVATIONS

DOURO, Portugal

Amadeus River Cruises

CRUISE LINE

DANUBE, Central Europe

MAIN DANUBE CANAL, Germany

At a glance

MEKONG, Cambodia,

river cruising directory

RUSSIAN Waterways

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WI-FI INCLUDED

ALL INCLUSIVE OPTION

UK TRANSFERS

AMAZON

MURRAY RIVER, Australia

MISSISSIPPI, USA

YANGTZE, China

NILE, Egypt

IRRAWADDY/ CHINDWIN, Burma

INDIAN Waterways

MEKONG, Cambodia, Laos, and/or Vietnam

CHOBE, Botswana

 

 

Selected cruises

Selected Luxury Cruises

Pre-paid drink packages

 

 

Upgrade onboard

Selected cruises

Selected cruises

Selected cruises

Rail - local station only

RIVER CRUISES Think

 

 

✓ Cruise the Dutch Waterways, Rhine, Moselle and Danube

Selected cruises

Pre-paid drink packages

Pre-paid drink packages

Selected dates

Selected cruises

Pre-paid drink packages

Selected cruises

Selected cruises

Coach/ Air/Rail

Selected cruises

Selected cruises

Selected cruises

Selected cruises

In Europe

Selected cruises

✓ Flexible travel options by Coach, Rail & Air ✓ Cruise only options – Dynamically package for your clients

 

✓ Full board – all meals included ✓ Buy One, Get One Half Price on cruises to Switzerland+ or save £50pp* on selected 2018 cruises along the Rhine, Danube & Dutch waterways

Bestseller Romantic Rhine Cruise to Switzerland on board Olympia 9–day river cruise starts at

Coach/ Air/Rail

 

 

26

14 Gold ★ 9 Silver ★ 3 Bronze

Call: 0330 160 7999 | www.newmarketholidays.co.uk Online Training: www.training.newmarketholidays.co.uk Enquiries: travelagents@newmarketholidays.co.uk

 

£1,509pp

*+ Book by 15th Mar 2018. Save £50 and BOGOHP offers subject to availability on selected cruises and may be withdrawn at any time.

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the final word

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the quirky side of travel Holy cow! Frequent flyers were not amoosed to find that they are allocated less space on an aircraft than cattle in transit, according to a study by train booking operator Loco2. By law, a medium sized calf weighing 75kg (the average weight of an adult) is entitled to 0.5m squared, whereas most passengers flying are squashed into a space of just 0.35m squared – and that's not including the struggle for the armrest! Out of 544 flyers questioned, 100% thought it udderly ridiculous to travel in a smaller space than that of our farmyard friends – and have to pay for the privilege. The survey confirmed that 60% would opt for transport that provided them with more personal space such as a train or even a bus before making the same mi-steak again.

TOP 6… Special occasion travel

loco2.com

In plane sight Flight attendants on an Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle really did see it all when a passenger barricaded himself in the bathroom, stripped and refused to come out. The pilot decided to return to Anchorage, where the passenger was hauled off the plane causing a five-hour delay. "There was a subject on the aircraft that had locked himself in the bathroom" said Sgt. Darcey Perry, "Flight attendants did find that he was naked." alaskaair.com

The top six life events most likely to be celebrated with a travel experience – according to Kuoni

Honeymoons

Birthday

Renewal of vows

Empty nesters' bucket list

Family gatherings

Engagement trips to propose

Global etiquette Following accepted cultural norms can be difficult. Is it one kiss, two? Left cheek? Right cheek? Or should you even kiss at all? Expedia's new etiquette guide answers many such do's and don'ts. For example, in Mexico it is considered rude to arrive on time – you should instead aim to be up to 30 minutes late. In Argentina, Thailand and Egypt it is polite to leave some food on your plate, while tipping in Japan is a big no no! expedia.co.uk

THE APRIL 2018 ISSUE OF SELLING TRAVEL WILL FEATURE: • Natural Florida • Theme Parks Worldwide • Hong Kong & Macao • Maldives Mediterranean cruising • India • Chile • Qatar • Indonesia • The Carolinas, USA • CONTACT US sales@bmipublishing.co.uk; editorial@bmipublishing.co.uk PLUS ONLINE Daily Selling Tips • Destination Guides • Photo Galleries • Travel Uni

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JAMAICA

SAINT LUCIA

ANTIGUA

BAHAMAS

G R E N A DA

BARBADOS

TURKS & CAICOS

19 RESORTS 8 ISLANDS 7 COUNTRIES NASSAU, THE BAHAMAS

GREAT EXUMA, THE BAHAMAS TURKS & CAICOS

ANTIGUA

JAMAICA SAINT LUCIA

BARBADOS GRENADA

£10 PER BOOKING

£15 PER BOOKING

£20 PER BOOKING

FOR EVERY LUXURY ROOM

FOR EVERY CLUB LEVEL /CONCIERGE ROOM OR SUITE

FOR EVERY BUTLER ELITE SUITE

EARN DOUBLE FOR EVERY WEDDING BOOKING

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE WORLD’S LEADING ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS Call Agency Sales 020 7590 0210 | Email agencysales@sandals.co.uk | Visit sellingsandals.co.uk 2017

22 Years Running

OR TO BOOK Call 0808 164 3459 | Visit sandals.co.uk/agents or beaches.co.uk/agents

2017

20 Years Running

Incentive valid for new bookings made 01 Feb – 15 Mar ‘18. Applicable to both Sandals and Beaches Luxury Included package holidays with a minimum stay of 7 nights. Please note: In order to earn double, new bookings must include a wedding. You must have also attended a Wedding Webinar in Feb ‘18. Bookings will be counted w/c 19 Mar ’18 and with the cash amount being distributed via your Head Office/ Consortia. Further terms and conditions may apply. ®

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Selling Travel March 2018  
New