{' '} {' '}
Limited time offer
SAVE % on your upgrade.

Page 1

A S H D O W N T R AV E L W I NT E R 2 0 1 4 / 1 5

LATEST NEWS * INDO-CHINA * BURMA NEW OPENINGS * ALTERNATIVE LAPLAND WINTER ACTIVITIES * TEAM TRIP


A S H D OW N

A S H D OW N

W I NT E R 2 0 1 4 / 1 5

N EW S

Welcome to our latest newsletter! I do hope you have all had a wonderful festive period and we would like to wish all of our customers a happy and healthy 2015. I do hope you enjoy our latest newsletter, packed with some wonderful holiday ideas and inspiration, and that it will encourage you to get your passport out and get ready to travel. Our destination feature this time around is the wonderful region of Indochina and Burma. You will read about the fascinating countries of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma and how each one has a unique history and culture worthwhile visiting in their own right or as part of a multi-centre tailor-made trip. Abigail and Linda know this region well and would be delighted to help you plan your trip to the mysterious East. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts are regarded as one of the market leaders in luxury travel and any new hotel openings are always highly anticipated. This year has seen two new leisure openings, one at Walt Disney World in Orlando and the other on Jumeirah Beach in Dubai. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you that Ashdown Travel are privileged to be one of only a handful of Preferred Partners for Four Seasons in the UK which means that our clients take advantage of special extras like complimentary breakfasts, food and beverage credits and also space available room upgrades. We have seen a large increase in the number of enquiries for winter activity holidays. This

isn’t just skiing but things like the Icehotel and searching for the Northern Lights, and as a result of this we have run a feature on some of the new openings and alternative properties in the area. I do hope that you enjoy the newsletter and the team and myself look forward to being of service to you in 2015. Kind regards, Nick Samuels, Director nick@ashdowntravel.co.uk

A S H D O W N T R A V E L 24-26 Station Road East, Oxted

AM resorts have recently opened the Zoetry Villa Rolandi Isla Mujeres in Mexico, an all-inclusive resort situated on a secluded beach eight minutes from downtown Isla Mujeres and 30 minutes from Cancun. The hotel has 35 ocean front suites all with jacuzzi terraces, a Thalasso Spa and gourmet restaurant offering a la carte dining. Also new and nearby is the Secrets Playa Mujeres golf and spa resort, an adult only, all inclusive, all suite resort with complimentary green fees at the Playa Mujeres Golf Course. Master suites feature private plunge pools and direct beach access. For music lovers, Andrea Bocelli returns to his native Tuscany for a summer evening of al fresco music on 2nd August 2015. Situated near to the village of Lajatico, just 45 minutes from Florence, the Teatro del Silencio is an open air theatre in the rolling Tuscan countryside. A special holiday combining a 3 night break in Florence with tickets to the concert and shuttle transfers between the city and the Teatro has been tailored to depart from Gatwick on 1st August with a selection of hotels from 3 star superior to 5 star deluxe. British Airways has announced new routes for 2015, Heathrow departures between May and September include Corfu four times a week, Kos twice a week, Olbia in Sardinia twice a week and Split twice a week. Also as from 27th May British Airways will recommence a daily overnight service Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur. Gatwick services are five times a week to Seville and twice a week to Gran Canaria both commencing 29th March and a three times weekly flight to Funchal from 11th May 2015.


A S H D OW N

A S H D OW N

INDO CHINA : VIETNAM

Hanoi Hanoi is often known as the ‘Paris of the Orient’ for its French colonial architecture and plenty of tree lined boulevards and lakes. City tours take you to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature

built in 1070 as the first university in the country, and Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city and the hub for evening walks and social gatherings.We love the old style colonial feel of the Sofitel Metropole.

Halong Bay This UNESCO World Heritage site, 170km northeast of Hanoi, is an awe-inspiring bay with nearly 2000 limestone karst islands scattered over a 1500 sq km area in the South China Sea. The best way to see it is by overnight Junk, our favourite being the Paradise Cruises.

you the iconic Japanese Bridge and the ancient streets of this old Chinese trading port dating back to the 16th Century. Streets are traffic free and there are hundreds of little shophouses trading their wares so it’s great for souvenir shopping of lacquer-ware, ceramics and made-to-measure tailored clothes. The town itself, set on the riverside, is just a few kilometres inland from some glorious stretches of beach so it works well as a place to stay and flop for a few days! The Victoria works really well for location but our favourite is the ultra-luxurious Nam Hai a bit further out of town.

Hui This city on the banks of the Perfume River was the Imperial capital and the main sights are the Imperial Tombs and the Thien Mu Pagoda followed by a sunset cruise on the river.

Hoi An One of our favourite places in Vietnam is the charming town of Hoi An. A walking tour will show

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) This enormous bustling capital city retains a colonial flavour in some of its architecture and

Photo © www.fredwissink.com

Lying in the eastern part of Indo-China, Vietnam is a long thin country with a huge variety of landscapes with mountainous regions in the north, river deltas in the south and miles of beaches in between to enjoy! But it also means huge changes in weather patterns; to get the optimum time to go we suggest that February to April is as good as it gets! Vietnam’s charm is partly its ancient culture, lively traditions, stunning scenery, delicious food but undoubtedly its incredibly friendly people. Here are some of our favourite destinations:

INDO CHINA : VIETNAM

public buildings but there is no doubt with the huge Chinatown area and buzzing streets that you are in the heart of Asia. We recommend the Park Hyatt overlooking the Opera House as the best place to stay in the city.

Mekong Delta The Mekong River flows all the way from China, through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia before reaching Vietnam and splitting into tributaries that meet the sea. Here the land is lush, fertile, and life revolves around the river with floating markets and homes over-water. It can be reached as a day trip from Saigon or if you have time, stay in Can Tho and Chau Doc to get more of a flavour for this fascinating area.


A S H D OW N

I N D O C H I N A : CA M B O D I A Cambodia is a fascinating country with some completely unique sights making it a ‘must-see’ on any Indo-China itinerary. The capital of Phnom Penh is a friendly city with a French Colonial flavour and some impressive sights such as the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda and the city’s namesake, the temple of Wat Phnom. The absolute jewels in the crown of Cambodia are the magnificent Temples of Angkor. There are literally hundreds of temples to visit but the main sites are: Angkor Thom (literally means Big City), with the majestic faces of the Bayon shrine;

A S H D OW N

I N D O C H I N A : L AO S

Ta Prohm, popularised by Tomb Raider, this is the temple with the tree roots growing in and around the temple walls making it particularly atmospheric; and Angkor Wat, a vast complex 1500m from east to west, best seen later in the day for an iconic photo of the structure silhouetted by the setting sun. The gateway is Siem Reap and this rapidly expanding city heaves with cafes, restaurants, markets and new hotel openings all the time. Our favourites are Belmond La Residence d’Angkor, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and Shinti Mani Club.

The land-locked country of Laos is still a paradise for people wanting to get ‘off the beaten’ track as it remains largely untouched by tourism and is steeped in history and culture. The capital of Vientiane is home to the Victory Monument at the heart of the city and numerous Buddhist Temples. Further north, close to the border of Thailand, is the beautifully preserved UNESCO World

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

Heritage city of Luang Prabang. This charming, sleepy place sits at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan Rivers and is a delightful place to relax, enjoy a boat trip on the Mekong, watch the novice monks go about their business, and pick up a few souvenirs in the numerous craft shops lining the streets. We love the Luang Say Residence and the Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao.


A S H D OW N BU R M A After being isolated politically for many years, Burma (Myanmar) has now opened its doors to visitors and it is fast becoming one of South East Asia’s hottest destinations. Fortunately it has managed to retain its culture, spirituality and old world charm. It is the home to the largest collection of Buddhist temples in the world with over 2000 religious shrines dating back as far as the 11th Century, as well as traditional villages, incredible scenery and beaches in the south. The best and most popular time to visit is usually late October through to the end of April. During the late spring and summer months you have heavier monsoon rains which can occasionally disrupt travelling. We have found that demand outstrips supply during the peak times so we recommend booking early to avoid disappointment. Yangon is the former colonial capital. It still remains a capital of business, culture, and markets and is an ideal place to explore on foot and view the enormous timer mansions. It is home to some of the most impressive temples including the majestic 325-foot Shwedagon Pagoda, a 2,500 year old gleaming golden stupa that dominates the landscape. Mandalay is strongly influenced by the British Empire in its design but the skyline has been

updated with modern high rise buildings as well. It is the last royal capital of the Burmese monarch and as a former royal city it is rich in palaces and pagodas and is the main centre of Buddhism. In recent years, it has also attracted many Chinese immigrants, which is evident in the cuisine and lively markets. One of the major attractions is Kuthodaw Pagoda, which houses ‘the world’s largest book’ as many of the pages are written on individual stupas. Bagan is located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, a city with over 2,000 shrines and ruins which are now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bagan is one of the most incredible archaeological sites in Asia. The explorer Marco Polo once described Bagan as a gilded city alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sound of monk’s robes. The city is fascinating and easy to explore and it is probably the most popular, and photographed, area within the country. Inle lake is a large freshwater lake, home to floating market gardens and many local fishermen who live in stilt houses that fringe the water’s edge. The water links all village life, and is used as the main transport for visiting the surrounding towns. The lake is serene, with wonderful Pagodas dotting the shoreline.

Cruising Burma is home to two great rivers, the Irrawaddy (or Ayeryarwady) River and the Chindwin. It’s a fantastic way to see the country unfold from the comforts of a luxury river cruiser with no long drives or early starts for long days of touring. The main two we use are Belmond Road to Mandalay and the new kid on the block, Belmond Orcaella. Belmond Road to Mandalay has some shorter 3 or 4 night itineraries from Mandalay to Bagan that fit extremely well into a longer touring trip and give you the opportunity to see some rural villages, local culture and handicrafts, and time to explore the awe-inspiring plain of temples at Bagan – all whilst staying in the comfort of your luxurious cabin. There is a pool on-board for a refreshing swim after a day’s sightseeing and your dinner is

served in the elegant restaurant with mainly Asian specialities on the menu. Belmond Orcaella was launched to give a more in-depth experience and is for the little more adventurous traveller with authentic remote rural destinations on the itinerary. It cruises both the Chindwin and the Irrawaddy and the expert guides take you on excursions to see sights such as hilltop villages, rural schools, and an initiation ceremony at a local monastery. Choose from 7 to 12 night trips between either Mandalay and Bagan or Yangon and Bagan and like its sister boat, cabins are extremely comfortable, all with picture windows, with a restaurant, lounge bar and sun deck all on-board.

A S H D O W N T R AV E L

01883 714312


A S H D OW N

A S H D OW N

FOUR SEASONS ORLANDO

F O U R S E A S O N S D U BA I

We are delighted that we can now offer a truly deluxe hotel in Orlando with the opening of a new Four Seasons. Set amid lush Florida woodlands, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort is a lakeside resort unlike any other. The resort’s luxurious accommodations include 443 guestrooms and 68 suites, each with a furnished balcony. Guestrooms offer the largest square footage in Orlando and feature 5-piece marble baths with TVs in mirror. The resort amenities include a sumptuous Spa; Tom Fazio golf at the 18-hole Tranquilo Golf Club; three Har-Tru tennis courts; a 24-hour lake view fitness centre; and acres upon acres of recreational pursuits. Five dining options present global flavours, ranging from the Italian

restaurant, Ravello; PB&G, the poolside Southern rotisserie; Lickety Split, a fast-casual grab-and-go spot with light fare, gourmet coffees and gelato; Plancha, Cuban-American at the golf clubhouse; and Capa, the signature rooftop steakhouse with views of the nightly fireworks. Adults can relax in the tranquility of the adult-only pool, while the young (and young at heart!) can experience the five-acre Explorer Island waterpark, complete with lazy river, two waterslides and an interactive splash zone. Located in Buena Vista, the hotel offers free transportation to the main Disney parks to its guests and even standard rooms can accommodate 2 adults and 2 children. Anne is our in-house Orlando expert and she would be delighted to help you plan your trip!

The New Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach is a green oasis perfectly located just minutes from all the pleasures and key business hubs of this open, modern city in the Arabian Gulf. Everything you would expect from Four Seasons is right here – warm and elegant service, an astonishing array of dining temptations, a truly luxurious pool and beach experience and beautiful spaces to do business or celebrate

special occasions. Add in an indulgent spa that is a destination unto itself, and a superb choice of luxurious guest rooms and suites that offer views of the Arabian Gulf on one side and Burj Khalifa and the downtown skyline on the other. As with most Four Seasons the ‘Kids for all seasons’ program is available for children from ages 5 to 12 and will ensure all members of the family have a true Four Seasons experience.


A S H D OW N

A S H D OW N

A LT E R N AT I V E L A P L A N D

A LT E R N AT I V E L A P L A N D

Treehotel, Swedish Lapland In the depths of rural Sweden is one of the most unique hotels we’ve come across and certainly one to add to the bucket list ... staying in a treeroom in the heart of the forest with views across to the Lule River. Each room, 4-6 m above the forest floor, is unique, not only in the exterior architecture but also in its furniture, lighting and fabrics all in a contemporary style. The room choice reads like an extraordinary imaginary world with a very minimalist Mirror Cube, covered in reflective glass and camouflaged amongst the trees; the Cabin with a roof terrace; a 2bed Blue Cone cabin, albeit red in colour; a 2-bed Birds Nest with retractable stairs to reach it; and a UFO sleeping 5! Not only that but they have a tree sauna experience and a forest spa with an outdoor wood fired bathtub for 2 in the middle of the forest. The hotel is located in Harads, near the Lule River, about 100 kms from Luleå airport. It can be reached by flight from London via Stockholm but it also works well to twin with the Icehotel, a 3 hour train ride away. When you arrive at Treehotel, you check in at Britta’s Pensionat. Then it’s just a short stroll through the forest to your treeroom. Meals are served back at the Pensionat by your hosts Kent and Britta in a genuine 1930’s-1950’s setting. Winter transforms the landscape into a sea of white, with short days and temperatures sinking to minus 30°C. Explore the area on a pair of snowshoes or cross country skis, or perhaps go on an action-packed trip with dog sleds on the frozen Lule River! The hotel can also arrange cultural walks through a local village, dog sledding, snowmobile safaris, northern light hunting and a horse-drawn sled ride tucked under warm fleece blankets.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finnish Lapland Famous for its log cabins and glass igloos, the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is definitely one to consider for an alternative trip to Lapland. It still has Santa’s Home: an idyllic red cabin (pictured on front cover) with visits to Santa possible yearround, but also it has some other fantastic winter activities that can be arranged. On offer are husky safari’s, reindeer safaris hosted by local Sami herders, and snowmobile safaris for an adrenaline ride through the snow filled forest enjoying some of the best scenery the region has to offer. They can also arrange horse-riding and sleigh

rides with the sound of tinkling bells for a truly festive feel; or search for the magnificent natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights on an Aurora hunt. There is also ski-ing and a ski school, great for cross-country ski-ing right from the resort, with downhill ski-ing options not far away. Accommodation can be arranged in rustic log cabins warmed by roaring log fires, or their unique glass or snow igloos. The glass igloos are perfect for a night under the stars tucked up in the warmth of room temperature. If you are lucky you may even see the Aurora Borealis from your bed! The resort is reached by flight from London via Helsinki and can also be a summer destination with hiking and horse-riding available nearby.


A S H D OW N

A S H D OW N

WINTER ACTIVITIES

WINTER SKI

Iceland may be best known in recent memory as the country that brought the biggest closure of European airspace in history, but the island of fire and ice is still a huge tourist draw. The capital Reykjavik is a cosmopolitan city which is reached by a direct flight from a number of UK airports. It has a large choice of excellent restaurants, a great choice of art galleries and culture and superb nightlife which together makes a lovely city break. But this is just the start... There are trips out to explore the famous Blue Lagoon and you can explore by land and air the volcanoes that make

this island so unique. If that is not enough you can go out into the countryside where at certain times of the year it is possible to see the Aurora Borealis more frequently known as the Northern Lights. There are activities such as snowmobiling, 4-wheel drive safaris and trips along deserted beaches; for a short break this action-packed island really does have a lot to offer. We work very closely with specialist suppliers that offer tailor made trips to suit your plans and your budget and if this is something you would like to consider then please give us a call.

A S H D O W N T R A V E L 24-26 Station Road East, Oxted

For the last few years most of Europe and North America have enjoyed fabulous snow and this year the early indications are much of the same. If you are an expert skier or planning your first ever trip there are so many options that are available to suit every taste and budget. If you are after the uber glamorous resorts there are new and exciting hotel options like L’Apogée Courchevel and the W hotel Verbier and for families Club Med have opened a new village in Pragelato in Italy. Skiing really is a fantastically sociable sport and lends itself well for a group of friends or families

to travel together and a perfect way to enjoy this is to have a chalet. We work very closely with the Alpine Club who are based in the lovely Savoyard resort of St Martin De Belleville which connects through to the vast Trois Vallees ski circuit. These two world class chalets are consistently voted among the best in Europe and offer outstanding comfort with a food and dining experience that is up with the very best you will experience anywhere in the Alps. Nick is our skiing expert and would be delighted to help you put together your perfect trip ‘On the Piste’.

A S H D O W N T R AV E L

01883 714312


A S H D OW N T EA M T R I P S Dubai and Abu Dhabi by Anne Knight My last visit to Dubai had been 14 years ago, so I jumped at the chance to refresh my knowledge with a trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in September. Driving from the airport to The Palm I caught glimpses of places I recognised but they were few and far between, and I marvelled at the speed and change of development in this incredible Emirate. The common goal is for all visitors to be wowed and have a fabulous trip, and service levels are very high across the whole of the UAE. Without doubt an absolute must see in Dubai is a visit to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower. The highspeed lift to the 124th floor is a thrill in itself, let alone the stunning views! Try to catch one of the Fountain Shows at the Dubai Mall, the lighting at dusk makes this a great time of day to go. And no trip to Dubai would be complete without a trip out to the desert, whether it be a camel ride, sandboarding, a falconry experience or off roading through the sand dunes it will be an experience you never forget! There is a wealth of accommodation choices in Dubai. I particularly liked the Arabian Court at One & Only Royal Mirage for its understated luxury in

unmistakable Arabian style. The boutique resort of One & Only The Palm was also a wonderful retreat for couples. For families the Jumeirah Beach Hotel continues to offer everything you could wish for with 19 restaurants, a renowned children’s club and Wild Wadi waterpark next door. Atlantis also won me over with its sheer range of facilities, wellappointed rooms, fabulous food and incredible setting at the head of the Palm! On the surface, Abu Dhabi has a calmer feel to it than Dubai. But don’t be fooled, the city has just hosted its 6th Grand Prix on Yas Island which is also home to Ferrari World and the world’s fastest rollercoaster, the Yas Waterworld and in 2015 a vast shopping mall with cinema complex will also open. Great hotels are located on either side of the creek as well as out at the beach of Saadiyat Island where hawksbill turtles nest each year. The grandeur of the public spaces at Emirates Palace is amazing to be seen, yet the rooms are discreetly luxurious, a perfect combination! The centrally located Shangri La has a very relaxed feel to it, with great views across the creek towards the incredible Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. With a large pool area on the opposite side of the creek, the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal offers stylish rooms and great individual restaurants already impacting on the local restaurant scene.

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

Profile for Net Effect

Ashdown winter14 web  

Ashdown winter14 web  

Profile for neteffect
Advertisement