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Latest News * Cuba * Family Hotels Foodie Heaven * UK Holidays Team Trips: St.Petersburg, Maldives & Anguilla


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LAT E ST N EW S

Welcome to our latest newsletter!

Happy New Year to you all and our very best wishes for a healthy & prosperous 2017! In all of our newsletters we try to give you as much holiday inspiration as possible and our latest is certainly packed full of this! Our destination feature this time is on the Caribbean island of Cuba. This wonderful island has suddenly seen huge demand fuelled massively by the fact that their borders with the USA are in the process of being relaxed. As well as the dreamy Caribbean beaches that you would expect, Cuba has so much more to offer as you will read! A few of the Ashdown Travel team have been and have loved it so will be happy to put a trip together for you. Early bookings are essential especially over peak dates as flights seats and hotel beds are not plentiful and are in big demand A number of clients have previously asked us to show more UK content for our newsletters and certainly with the Volatility in exchange rates having a holiday on home shores may be more appealing to some. We have a feature on some of

our favourite UK breaks and on many occasions have access to special rates and added value extras so if you are planning a UK holiday please give us a call. With exchange rates fluctuating, I thought it would be a good opportunity to remind people of the benefits of booking through Ashdown Travel. As well as holding ABTA, IATA and ATOL licenses ensuring your full financial protection, most of our preferred wholesale partners quote us a guaranteed sterling price and regardless of what happens to exchange rates this will not change. If you book directly with a hotel in a foreign currency and haven’t prepaid, then there could be a significant difference between what you may have originally calculated the bill to be and the actual amount you will need to pay when checking out. You are then in most cases covered by the package travel regulations 1992 which means that you have so much more consumer protection which is not included when booking all your arrangements independently. Since the success of our cyclists in the Olympics, this has become a hugely popular passtime for many people, to the extent of specialist holiday companies arranging holidays on two wheels. Yes there are some for keen enthusiasts trying to recreate the footsteps of the professionals in the Alps; however the majority are leisurely flat terrains where it is just as much about a nice hotel with good food and wine as the ride inbetween.You will read about some options in this newsletter but please call us for more suggestions. I do hope that you enjoy the newsletter and the team and I look forward to being of service to you in 2017. Kind regards, Nick Samuels, Director nick@ashdowntravel.co.uk

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Belmond the purveyor of many luxury hotels and Train Journeys also operate some exclusive luxury barge holidays in France. New for 2017 are the Belmond Lilas which will feature itineraries through the beautiful Alsace region of France and Belmond Pivoine which will meander slowly through the Champagne regions of France. These two new arrivals can be taken for exclusive use or you can rent cabins on an individual basis and will promise you an outstanding quality break with superb food and wine to match.

Calling all Star Wars fans, you must visit Disneyland Paris between the 14th January and the 26th March 2017 as Walt Disney StudiosÂŽ Park awakens with the Season of the Force. Buckle up and blast off to a galaxy far, far away, where breathtaking shows exploding with special effects and live Star Wars Characters propel you into the age-old battle between light and dark, you must choose. But be sure to pick wisely, as the fearful First Order flexes its might before your very eyes and Stormtroopers search for rebels. This is your chance to live the Star Wars saga in all its intergalactic wonder. May the Force be with you!

The name Jet2holidays may not be well known in the South of England; however for many years they have been offering great value package holidays and flights from many local airports in the North of the Country. Starting in summer 2017 they will have their first Southern base using London Stansted airport. Whilst most of our clients currently prefer the locality of Gatwick or the route network from Heathrow, early indications are that the prices are going to be exceptionally competitive and may be worth a little extra journey time. Ashdown Travel work closely with Jet2holidays so for brochures, quotes or checking a great value package holiday please give us a call.

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Very few cities in the world can compare with the haunting beauty of Havana. Iconic sights and sounds await at every turn, from classic American cars jostling for position, to colonial architecture where colourful facades have long since faded but still show the city’s rich heritage of bygone days. The city’s famous promenade, the majestic Malecón, is where lovers and friends meet under the stars. It stretches along the harbour entrance offering an opportunity to feel the romance of the city and the chance to listen to impromptu music from local musicians filling the night air. Grand houses, once home to the elite of Cuban society, are now stunning hotels rich in history and a haunt for modern day celebrities such as Beyoncé and Madonna. The five star

Saratoga Hotel sits in the heart of old Havana and has hosted pop stars and sporting idols in equal measure.The famous bar at the luxurious Nacional Hotel has been frequented by distinguished patrons including past Presidents, Heads of State and famous musicians and its walls are adorned with pictures of their visits there. Old Havana is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s easy to see why. Its cobbled streets lead to a number of impressive squares where local artists and booksellers sell their wares, and lovingly restored churches and grand colonial buildings are just waiting to be explored. And after a day’s sightseeing why not head to the Floridita, a bar that was a favourite haunt of Ernest Hemmingway for a strawberry daiquiri or two. Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and offers so much to see and do, so taking part in an organised tour is the best way to use your time effectively. The long distances involved can be tiring, so many 7-10 night tours will focus on either the West or Eastern parts of the island, whilst longer tours will allow you to explore the island fully. All options will enable you to see what makes this enchanting island such a memorable place to visit.

Away from Havana there are many jewels in Cuba’s crown that rival the capital for sheer beauty and historical importance. Viñales is just two hours from Havana with spectacular “Mojotes”, or sandstone rock formations, rising from the lush valley floor coated in tobacco plantations. Its stunning scenery is home to an abundance of wildlife, some species indigenous to the Viñales Valley.


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Trinidad is another one of Cuba’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Founded in 1514, its cobbled streets weave around the former mansions of wealthy sugar plantation owners, and cowboys still ride their horses through the main streets. Colourful houses painted in every hue and colour give a truly Caribbean feel. Exploring Trinidad is like stepping back in time 500 years. Cienfuegos is situated in the fertile agricultural region of Southern Central Cuba.The town’s square is surrounded by historical buildings with a Spanish style of architecture, and is a great place to sit under the shade of a tree and listen to live music playing from the town’s band stand. Santa Clara is the fifth largest city in Cuba and here you will find the Che Guevara Mausoleum, one of the founding fathers of the revolution.

The tomb has an adjoining museum with Che’s personal artefacts and tells the story of his time in Cuba, and how he joined Fidel Castro in the revolution after their chance meeting. Further East on the island, lies Santiago de Cuba, the second largest city in Cuba and is some 870Km from the country’s capital Havana. Due to its proximity to Jamaica the city has a different personality to anywhere else in Cuba and this is reflected in its music, food and its way of life. Self-drive holidays are also a possibility, but having a basic grasp of Spanish is a must. While the main roads are in a reasonable state with minimal traffic, pot holes and other distractions like livestock wandering into the road all give a truly memorable driving experience.

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If strolling along white sandy beaches and witnessing dramatic sunsets are your thing then Cuba will not disappoint. One of the most popular areas in Cuba for sun worshipping is the Varadero peninsula. Its beaches have been voted some of the best in the world by Conde Nast magazine, and here you will find five star, all-inclusive resorts with fantastic service. The stunning Cayo’s of Coco, Santa Maria and Largo can be found off Cuba’s Northern coastline and offer a quieter and maybe less commercialised beach stay thanVaradero, with plenty of quality hotels to choose from. Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria are linked to the mainland by a causeway 17km in length, and apart from its stunning beaches it is also home to spectacular bird life such as flamingos that live amongst the mangrove trees.

Cayo Largo is a small island that offers stunning beaches and a smaller range of accommodation options but will not fail to impress with its dramatic views across the ocean. Guardalavaca with its stunning white beaches bathed in glorious sunshine was once described by Christopher Columbus as the most beautiful land that he had ever seen, and it’s easy to see why. Dramatic hills covered in lush vegetation provide the perfect backdrop for the beach and the crystal emerald waters of the Caribbean. Water-sports aplenty give you the chance to enjoy a wide range of activities on both land and sea. Cuba’s beaches are famed for their beauty and gentle shelving slopes and offer an amazing place to relax and unwind.


East Winds has been a popular hotel for our clients and our sales team for many years and with the excellent team they have in place, you can be assured to expect a truly exceptional holiday in Saint Lucia. Over the past 2 years this beautiful hotel has been upgraded throughout. The oceanfront rooms have undergone the most recent refurbishment, following the upgrade of all the deluxe rooms earlier in the summer. Not only do the oceanfront rooms and the fabulous suite offer an inviting position overlooking the beach and sea, but guests can now also enjoy the upgraded interiors with Molton Brown amenities and exclusive handcrafted artwork by local Saint Lucian artist Michelle Elliott. The food is delicious. A different mouthwatering 4 course gourmet menu is served 6 nights a week, accompanied by a choice of quality wines.The ambience is relaxed and the staff are so friendly that you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.

This all-inclusive hotel offers all meals, branded drinks and wine, non-motorised water sports and a huge list of ‘exclusive experiences’. Guests can enjoy morning yoga and Pilates, Cocktail Making, Island Cooking Classes, Guided Walks, Rum Tasting, Sunset Cruise, Boat trip to the Pitons and more. Under private ownership the hotel is committed to maintaining the wonderful qualities now expected at this superb boutique hotel and guests can be assured of a perfect holiday retreat. Ashdown exclusive Added Value: Book by 28 February 2017 and stay a minimum of 7 nights at East Winds, St Lucia and receive a complimentary Sunset Cruise per couple. Valid for travel completed by 16 December 2017, and combinable with all offers. This is subject to weather conditions on the day. Note the trip is taken on a Thursday night.

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Ikos Olivia Summer 2015 saw the opening of this deluxe all inclusive resort set on the Halkidiki peninsula in Greece, and with two successful seasons behind them, the resort has already become popular with families and adults alike. With 6 bars, plus four a la carte restaurants, mostly overseen by Michelin star chefs and one main buffet restaurant, dining will never be dull! Children are well catered for with the Heroes’ Kids Club, so why not treat yourself at the luxurious spa whilst they are busy having fun! Rooms and suites have a contemporary, elegant feel whilst retaining the blue and white hues traditionally associated with Greece. Sandy beaches, indoor and outdoor pools and a myriad of sporting activities on offer daily complete this stunning resort! Ikos really is a fabulous addition to the Greek hotel scene and Ashdown Travel clients have loved it!

Rooms and suites are located either in the main building called the Citadel, or in the gardens, and many interconnect. They also have an area of rooms in the gardens, the Tagor Villas, for exclusive use by adults complete with their own pool. Throughout the property the grounds are well tended with clouds of hibiscus framing tucked away corners creating little oasis’s of calm, and the sunset views over the Atlantic towards La Gomera are just beautiful. Families are very well catered for with children’s pools, a mini-club, creche and early dining, if required. But adults will equally enjoy the spa, the golf, and the dining, all of which we can happily pre-book. The resort boasts 13 bars and restaurants including 2 Michelin starred restaurants called MB and Kabuki; an excellent fish restaurant, El Mirador;Verona is their traditional Italian; Pampa is their excellent steakhouse; delicious Spanish tapas are found at Txoko as well as other beach and pool restaurants open during the day. With an abundance of flight choices from Gatwick, the Ritz-Carlton, Abama makes a perfect destination for a long weekend away as well as longer stays and is a firm Ashdown favourite. Linda, Nick, Sue and Anne have all stayed here, so please do ask for more details.

Ritz-Carlton Abama The Ritz-Carlton, Abama is located on the southwest coast of Tenerife, in a quiet area called Guia de Isora, approximately 40 minutes from the airport. The resort is situated in 160 hectares of grounds, staggered down the hillside to the sea, and benefits from its own little micro-climate with an average annual temperature of 23 degrees.

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tennis coaching at the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy and exciting kids’ clubs in school holidays. With a great selection of restaurants and bars, Pine Cliffs makes a great choice for your next family holiday.

Princesa Yaiza

The Algarve, Portugal The Pine Cliffs Hotel, and Pine Cliffs Residence, both A Luxury Collection Resort, offer between them a great selection of styles of accommodation for a perfect family holiday. The spectacular cliff top setting with views down to the gorgeous sandy beach gives a great backdrop to this spacious property and its extensive grounds. In the main hotel there are a variety rooms and suites all with terrace or balcony and then neighbouring the hotel, around the golf course and pine forests, there is a choice of self catering accommodation to meet all requirements. The resort’s luxury villas are four-bedrooms each with a private pool and barbecue, allowing you to enjoy an intimate and relaxed atmosphere with the family, away from the excitement and distractions of a busy hotel. There are also luxury residence apartments if you still prefer the privacy and convenience of your own kitchen without the need for your own 4-bed villa! The Residences have two, three or four bedrooms so you can find one to suit the size of your family and have a dedicated check-in, shared pool, restaurant and mini-market onsite as well as access to all the hotel facilities. There are also Pine Cliffs Townhouses, Golf Suites and new in 2016 were 1 or 2 bedroom seafront Pine Cliffs Ocean Suites. The resort itself has excellent facilities for moments when you do fancy exploring the area, including a 9-hole golf course and a Golf Academy, a state of the art Fitness & Wellness Centre plus beautiful new Spa,

One of our most consistent top-selling hotels in Europe is the Princesa Yaiza located in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. With a great choice of bars and restaurants, the hotel service here is friendly and efficient and their staff are always on hand for advice and assistance. Beauty and health treatments are available at the super Thalasso Centre, and there is also great selection of classes such as Spin, Zumba and aerobics. The hotel runs its own children’s clubs at Kikoland, from age 3 upwards; and at an additional charge there is now a crèche for young ones aged 4-35 months at Baby Kikoland. Very few hotels offer this option so this additional service will undoubtedly increase Yaiza’s appeal. Rooms and suites in the main hotel building are spacious and have garden, pool or side-sea views whilst the separate family wing is host to the attractive 2 bedroom suites and more luxurious Royal Kiko Family Suite. Deservedly popular with couples and families alike, this hotel also benefits from an ideal location with shops, bars and local restaurants and the marina all within a 10 minute walk of the hotel. Anne and Sue both know this hotel personally, so please do ask for more details.


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FA M I LY A DV E N T U R E : TAU C K

Alpine Adventure Exodus has over 40 years of experience in organising worldwide adventure and cultural tours and more specifically family tours since 2005.With outstanding staff, award winning leaders on the ground and a dedicated team of experts you can be confident that they really know what makes a perfect family holiday. Exodus believe that family adventures should be more than just lying on a beach! There are so many fascinating places, cultures and experiences out there which can provide kids (and parents!) with an appreciation of the world around them and encourage them to discover more for themselves. Most importantly though, they know that family holidays should be about fun! They offer a range of wildlife holidays as part of their family adventure holiday programme.

In Africa enjoy the big cats of Tanzania or the elephants of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. In Asia delight in the fantastic spectacle of tiger watching in India or the orang-utans and wildlife of Borneo. In the Americas listen to the calls of Costa Rica’s howler monkeys. There is so much to see and experience. Trips in this category may be wholly wildlife focused, or contain an element of wildlife viewing within a less specific itinerary.

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Enjoying the world with your family is an incredible way to spend time together – for kids, teens, parents and grandparents. On Tauck Bridges trips just for families, you see and do amazing things together. You will share the fun with other families and make memories for a lifetime. Very few places on Earth offer as much breathtaking beauty – and outdoor adventure – as the Alps! Come along with Tauck Bridges on a weeklong family activity holiday Alps style, filled with discovery and family fun... from Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus in Switzerland... across the mountains aboard the Glacier Express to famous St. Moritz... into the Austrian Alps and Innsbruck...

and on to the Bavarian magic of Linderhof Palace and Munich! Go whitewater rafting, mountain bicycling, rock and rope climbing... enjoy a look at Neolithic life and traditional Tyrolean fun and games... ride cable cars and the world’s steepest cog railway at Mount Pilatus, more than 125 years in operation.... watch an exciting ski-jump demonstration and more! Alpine Adventure is an 8 day tour beginning in Zurich and finishing in Munich. Departures in June, July & August 2017 cost £2,990 per person for triple occupancy or £3,090 per person for twin occupancy. International flights are an additional cost and quad rooms are available on request.

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Linda’s dog-friendly family holiday in the Lake District If you’re looking for dog friendly accommodation in the outstanding beauty of the Lake District, then look no further than Hoseasons Brockwood Hall Lodge. The Scandinavian style lodges are comfortably furnished with a good size kitchen and an outdoor hot tub where you can relax after exploring all the natural woodlands and beach nearby. On-site there’s a small indoor heated pool and children’s play area to keep the little ones busy. For the

adults, relax in the La Vita wellness spa with over 30 treatments to choose from. The causal Pesto bar offers a pub menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also dine at Clara’s, which offers fine dining with the best, locally sourced ingredients. Hoseasons feature many more dog-friendly lodges throughout the UK so if you’re looking to taking your 4 legged friends away with you this year, then give us a call.

The Fish Set in 400 acres of the Farncombe Estate, The Fish is a village-style retreat in the heart of a parkland estate. With a host of activities to try (from shooting to Segway safaris), and all the glories of the Cotswolds within easy reach, The Fish is your back-to-nature bolt-hole with a little touch of luxury. Around the property is a picturesque patchwork of field and woodland which sprawls in every direction and promises limitless possibilities for adventure. From sedate country strolls to more hard core hiking and biking, here you will find open-air pursuits to suit every taste and level of fitness. The games room in The Lodge makes a great rainy-day destination and offers pool, darts or just relax into a beanbag and watch a film – with the bar next door on hand to keep the drinks and snacks flowing. There is a dedicated activity team, who can keep you entertained during your stay and with 67 contemporary country bedrooms spread across three buildings you will have nice comfortable rooms to relax after your day’s activities! The Fish makes a great short break and long stay break so call us for more details and prices.

Four Seasons Hampshire Set amid 500 acres of Hampshire parkland, yet only 1 hour from central London, Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is the perfect English-country escape. Centred on a historic Georgian Manor House, rooms feature English-style interiors with spacious en-suite marble bathrooms. On the grounds, guests can enjoy an array of country pursuits, including horse riding and clay pigeon shooting, and outdoor activities such as tennis and cycling.The luxury Spa, situated in the renovated stable block, features a conservatory-style infinity pool and outdoor vitality pool, and a tree top challenge, the Highwire Adventure, is situated in the estate’s woodland. Seasons restaurant offers traditional British classics with a modern twist, made with the finest locally sourced ingredients. Adjacent to the restaurant, Bar 1086 serves a range of seasonal cocktails and the Hotel’s very own craft ale, the ‘1086’. Guests can delight in Afternoon Tea in the Library, overlooking the rolling Hampshire hills. .


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Good food on holiday is an essential ingredient of any great trip, however for some the experience of eating in a world class restaurant is the pinnacle of their trip! Whilst food is always a subjective subject we do regularly get asked for restaurant recommendations and have decided to do a feature on some of our recommended restaurants. These aren’t necessarily all 3 Michelin star restaurants but very highly regarded for their food and offer unique experiences and settings. We are a well-travelled team and in many occasions have good first-hand knowledge of restaurants and will be happy to share these

with you. Many of these restaurants are essential to pre-book and we will advise of this at the time. Terrazza Restaurant at the Danieli Hotel in Venice The Danieli hotel, overlooking the lagoon in Venice is one of the landmark buildings in the city. The city probably needs no introduction, however being surrounded by water, it truly is a magical and unique destination. There are many good restaurants, however the Terrazza restaurant promises a memorable meal whether it be lunch or dinner. Featuring a modern Italian cuisine and an a la carte or tasting menu the ambiance and view is truly stunning.

Gambrinus – Lisbon Lisbon is a stunning city in Portugal and lends itself to a perfect short break. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean and its stunning coastline it is a lovely city with a lovely blend of old and new.The Avenida da Liberdade is the main street, very reminiscent of the Champs Elysees in Paris and just off the main strip is the restaurant of Gambrinus. Featuring some of the best seafood options in the city, Gambrinus is synonymous with ocean cuisine and while there are meat dishes on the menu (particularly game) it’s the fish and seafood that continues to reel in an appreciative clientele.

Uma – Barcelona Barcelona is a truly outstanding city and with a stunning beach and lots of gothic architecture reflecting the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, it is easy to see why it has become one of our top selling short break destinations. Like any big city there are a huge array of restaurants, however UMA in the Sants district is currently rated number 1 of 7578 restaurants on Trip Advisor. Based on a similar theme to Heston Blumenthal’s ‘Fat Duck’ its style of scientific fusion cuisine has had high acclaim for the world over. Again early booking is essential.

Noma – Copenhagen The beautiful city of Copenhagen makes a great short break with excellent museums a sophisticated nightlife (with great jazz bars), gabled houses, narrow streets, colourful markets, ancient harbours and the wonderful Tivoli Gardens. It is also blessed with many top class restaurants, no more so than Noma. Having been consistently voted one of the best restaurants in the world. Situated right on the waterfront and with stunning views the signature tasting menu blends Scandinavian cuisine with a modern twist. This restaurant can book up to 3 months ahead so planning in advance is essential.

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CYCLING

CYCLING

For over 40 years Exodus have been crafting and developing the widest range of cycling holidays across the globe. From relaxing cycling holidays to France to cycling the highest roads over the Himalaya, nothing compares to the freedom of two wheels. A bike lets you travel at your own pace, has minimal environmental impact and best of all, helps you finish your trip with a massive sense of achievement, and perhaps a little more fitness than when you started. Exodus has a team of dedicated cycling experts who help Ashdown Travel design the perfect adventures by bike. They are passionate about seeing the world, but they understand that different people want different things from a cycling holiday.

Choosing your Cycling holiday is easy as they offer different categories as shown below:

Road cycling holidays: Amble through the vineyards of Chianti, ride to one of the forgotten temples at Angkor, or conquer no less than six 5000m passes in Tibet.

Off-road cycling holidays: Carve your way down technical Slovenian singletrack, conquer a high mountain pass in the Moroccan desert, or ride with the Masai in Tanzania’s Rift Valley.

Drop bars: Ever wanted to join the peloton? Now’s your chance to move up a gear from your normal cycle commute and follow the same historic roads as the pros.

Non-Group/Self-guided cycling holidays: If you’d prefer to travel alone or with your own friends, you’ll enjoy the extra independence and flexibility of a self-guided holiday.

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Silversea is a world apart from other luxury holidays, delivering the ultimate all-inclusive travel experience. Owned and operated by one family, Silversea is committed to offering superlative service and an exceptional onboard experience, with large-ship amenities aboard intimate, beautifully appointed vessels. With an accent on space and privacy, the atmosphere is one of unhurried elegance. All-suite, ocean-facing accommodation comes with butler service and superior extras, from designer cosmetics to a bar stocked according to preference. Exquisite à la carte dining is served in association with Relais & Châteaux; Silversea’s preferred culinary partner, and complimentary champagne, fine wines and spirits are served throughout the ships. All on-board gratuities are also included. With unique itineraries, including expeditions to some of the most remote places on

earth, Silversea reaches all seven continents and sails to more destinations than any other cruise line. So with unique levels of choice, exquisite inclusions and outstanding service, Silversea truly offers the ultimate experience in luxury cruising. To complement the current fleet, Silversea has announced the construction of its brand new flagship, Silver Muse, which will set sail in April 2017. The new ultra-luxury ship, with just 286 suites and a maximum capacity of 596 guests, will make its maiden voyage from Monte Carlo to Nice at the start of an exciting 2017 season. It represents an exciting evolution of the Silver Spirit, enhancing the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience. She will boast the highest number of large suites in our fleet, the most flexibility in accommodations, and crucially more dining options than any other ultra-luxury ship at sea — with eight venues including an exclusive Relais & Chateaux® restaurant. With inspired

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design, quality craftsmanship and technology, Silver Muse will be the highest expression of Silversea excellence.The newly announced transition of one of Silversea’s original vessels Silver Cloud into the expedition fleet is hot news During 2018 she will travel over 70,500 nautical miles, visit almost 190 destinations, with over 380 ports of call, and make more than 30 maiden visits. She will embark on 11 Antarctic and eight Arctic voyages; sail under London’s Tower Bridge; discover the history and culture of the British Isles; explore the Norwegian Fjords; transit the Panama Canal; enjoy culinary

discoveries in Europe and South America and spend Christmas in the Falkland Islands. The ship will feature 18 new zodiacs, enabling ship-wide simultaneous explorations in groups of no more than 14 people. Silver Cloud will also have a team of up to 19 dedicated experts on hand to ensure guests leave with the best experiences from their voyages, whether they be the sights, the sounds, the history or the stories. Daily presentations and lectures by experts in the state-of-the-art theatre will also be streamed live to all suites.

For more information give us a call.

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TEAM TRIP

TEAM TRIP

St Petersburg with Kirker Holidays by Linda It takes just over a short 3 hour flight with British Airways to fly direct to St Petersburg which makes it such an easily accessible, beautiful and historic city to visit. My trip included a stay at the famous and glorious Rocco Forte Astoria Hotel which has one of the finest locations in the city. Situated opposite St Isaac’s Cathedral, it’s within walking distance of the famous Hermitage Museum in the Old Winter Palace which was founded by Catherine the Great. Also not far is the Mariinsky Theatre – famous for its ballet and opera performances since it’s opening in 1860. Well worth a visit and just 30 kms south of St Petersburg are the beautiful summer palaces of

the Tsars, including Catherine’s Palace at Pushkin. Whilst you are there you will have chance to visit one of Russia’s most famous traditional restaurants ‘Podvorie’. Back in the city and there’s a lot still to see – most within walking distance as St Petersburg is a small compact city. If you’re worried about visiting Russia because of obtaining a visa then this is when Kirker Holidays really makes things easy for you. They will arrange all the paper-work and payment beforehand and you only need to visit the consulate once for your finger-prints to be taken. It’s all so easy and I am confident you will have a fantastic time! .

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Maldives by Sue I was absolutely thrilled to be invited by ITC on a luxury trip to the Maldives and even more delighted to learn that I would be one of the first guests staying at the brand new Milaidhoo Island in the Baa Atoll, following a stay on the beautiful Island of Soneva Fushi. Flying direct on the overnight flight from Gatwick to Male with British Airways, arriving at Male early the following morning, we were met by the Team from Soneva Fushi and transferred to their lounge to await our 30 minute seaplane transfer. Soneva Fushi is one of the largest islands in the Baa Atoll which is home to some of the richest crystal clear waters in the Maldives. The island’s unusually rich vegetation offers a unique natural experience and the utmost care is given to the environment. Offering the ultimate in barefoot sophistication ( I took my shoes off on arrival and put them on when I left!), Soneva Fushi with its casual dress code has a charming rustic feel. 57 villas open onto their very own stretch of white sand, many also include their own pool and all villas have a Man Friday on call 24 hours a day. Facilities include a Six Senses Spa, Dive centre,

open air cinema, an Observatory , bicycles, fitness centre, tennis, Yoga and Tai Chi. The Children’s Den, a playground of fun, is by far the most imaginative children’s club I have ever seen. Milaidhoo Island is a brand new 5 star resort, opened in November 2016. A luxury boutique resort in the Baa Atoll, a 35 minute sea plane transfer from Male. This small island was uninhabited; however divers and snorkelers have been visiting the Islands surrounding waters to enjoy the abundance of coral and sea life for many years. With just 50 villas the resort is stunning; Water villas and beach villas all have a large pool, huge deck area and amazing views. The resort has an overwater spa, 3 restaurants and 2 bars offering fabulous dining in wonderful informal settings. The resident marine biologist will accompany you on snorkelling trips to the house reef, one of the most prolific in the Maldives. A deep sea fishing trip, was followed by sunset cocktails and our catch was barbequed all on a sandbank in the middle of the Indian Ocean, such a wonderful unique experience. Milaidhoo, “Story of a small Island” is a real hideaway for couples and honeymooners, children over 9 years are welcome too.


A S H D OW N T EA M T R I P Anguilla by Nick Over many years I have been fortunate enough to travel to many parts of the Caribbean and in April this year I made by first visit to Anguilla and it was absolutely amazing! Getting to this little gem of an island involves either flying to Antigua and then on selected dates getting a CHL Airlines scheduled flight directly to Anguilla or a domestic internal flight to St Maarten and then a short boat journey. The alternative is to fly to St Maarten via Paris and then a short boat. That seems an awful lot of travelling I hear you say, however I can absolutely guarantee it is 100% worthwhile. The beaches all over the Caribbean have swaying palm trees and golden sandy beaches, however on Anguilla the sand is even more powder soft and the water is even more azure blue than I have ever seen.

Accommodation consists of range of private resort villas which can be rented with full house staff, small boutique hotels right the way through to top luxury international resorts. Four Seasons has just opened in Barnes Bay, however Malliouhana by Auberge Resorts is an absolute gem. Recently refurbished the 44 rooms and suites offer classic Caribbean style with a contemporary twist and food and service of the highest level. There is a vibrant restaurant scene with everything from fine dining to casual beach barbeques and for night owls there is more than enough to keep you occupied. For a stand-alone holiday or a combination with another island, Anguilla really is an amazing island experience. .

A S H D O W N T R A V E L w w w. a s h d o w n t r a v e l . c o . u k

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