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SHOW Saturday 21st April 2018

10.30AM - 3.30PM




W I NT E R 2 0 1 7 / 1 8

W I NT E R 2 0 1 7 / 1 8

Welcome to our latest newsletter! Happy New Year and our very best wishes for a Happy and Prosperous 2018! In our previous newsletters we have always tried to give you as much choice and inspiration as we possibly can. This edition is going to be slightly different as we will be holding our first Holiday Show where we have handpicked many of our favourite Travel Partners to come and give you, in person, a much more personal understanding of the fabulous products that they offer. The Ashdown Travel Holiday Show is going to be held on Saturday 21st April at the Oxted Community Hall, Church Lane, Oxted and will run from 10.30 until 15.30. Please do read the section to see some of the fantastic suppliers and destinations that will be covered during the day and the presentations that will take place throughout the show for which a ticket in advance will need to be obtained. The internet is a fantastic source for finding out information, however in my opinion there is no substitute for first-hand knowledge. I may sound biased; however, I believe we have one of the most knowledgeable, helpful and passionate teams you will find in any High Street Travel Agent in the United Kingdom.With over 300 years combined experience there are very few parts of the world where we do not have first-hand knowledge. Many are ‘Destination Specialists’ with official accreditations from Tourist Boards so they can really talk to you honestly and passionately which you won’t receive online. Please do have a look at our website where you will see a lot more about our fantastic team. You will also get the chance in this newsletter to read about some of the staff ’s favourite destinations that they have personally visited along with some of their recent familiarisation visits. We at Ashdown commit a huge amount of time and resource

sending our team away so they really can understand destinations and hotels. This is vital as it ensures that we never put square pegs in round holes! As well as our retail shop, Ashdown Travel also has a corporate travel division based on our First Floor. James Metcalf our Business Travel Manager is hugely experienced and for over 30 years has been sending corporate travellers all around the globe. We have many high-profile clients in the Medical and Hair and Beauty industries as well as smaller local companies that want the hassle of their travel arrangements taken away from them. We use state of the art airline technology and with electronic ticketing as standard we can email you your tickets within minutes of your reservation taking place. We can book all Low-Cost airline options where appropriate, to ensure we keep to any travel budgets you may be working to. Relationships in any industry are vitally important, however in Travel even more so. Over the last 20 years we have made a huge investment into building relationships with key Tour Operators and hotel chains. We have preferred status with many hotel chains and this ensures that Ashdown Travel clients are always extremely well looked after.We have preferred status with Four Seasons, Starwood & Marriott, Workham Hotels, Peninsula, Belmond to name but a few. For example, these privilege connections have meant that on previous occasions we have managed to secure rooms in hotels on key dates when other agents haven’t been able to get availability. Our Facebook and Twitter pages are regularly updated with lots of holiday inspiration and special offers and if you don’t already like or follow us then please do so. When travelling it is always reassuring to know that if you run into any difficulties that you are not alone. For that reason, on top of any Tour Operator local support, Ashdown Travel operate a 24-hour

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

emergency number which is manned by a senior member of our team. Rather than outsource this service we keep it in house which means that you will always talk to someone that will have a full history of your booking and the skills and knowhow to assist you whatever issue you may have.This service comes free of charge to all clients that have an existing booking with us and customers that have used this service over the years have said how comforting this has been. Nobody likes to see any company go into receivership and it was a huge shame to see Monarch fail after nearly 50 years of trading. Consumer confidence is so important and for that reason we hold ABTA, ATOL and IATA memberships. This means that booking through us your money is financially protected at all times.When the news came through of their sad demise we swiftly identified all bookings that were affected and all passengers were re-protected onto alternative flights or holidays. Unlike many online travel companies, we are with you from the very start of your enquiry until you have returned home.

On the 25th May 2018, a reform to the data protection laws takes place. This means a lot of changes; however, Ashdown Travel have always been exceptionally secure with all data we hold. What this does require is that for us to be able to keep on sending you the very latest news and offers either by email or hard copy we need your authority to do so. I do sincerely hope that you will want to keep hearing from us and for that reason if you would like to continue receiving correspondence from us, would you either kindly complete the slip on the final page of the newsletter and return to us or email marketing@ashdowntravel.co.uk and put in the subject box “Marketing preferences” and then in the body of the email, tell us your marketing preferences, and your name and address. I do sincerely hope that you enjoy our newsletter and that you will be able to join us on the 21st April for our holiday show, it will be a great day for sure! Kindest regards Nick Samuels, Director


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N E R JA - by S u e

M E N O R CA - by A l e x & Jo

Set at the foot of the Almijara National Park, Nerja is a small typically Spanish town on the Costa Del Sol, famous for the amazing Balcon De Europe, a promenade extending out into the Mediterranean Sea and home to the small family owned hotel of the same name. In the evening the Balcon is a great place to sit, enjoy an ice cream or simply watch the world go by! I first visited Nerja when my children were young, over thirty years ago when my parents in law spent the winter months here. Enjoying a year-round mild and sunny climate, Nerja has not changed in all those years. It still retains its Spanish feel and is very popular with Spanish families from cities such as Seville and Barcelona during the summer months, some of whom we still meet. The smell of bougainvillea is intoxicating in the narrow, cobbled streets that take you to the five beaches, the largest being Burriana Beach where family friendly restaurants offer an extensive

choice of menus including many choices of fresh fish caught early in the morning by the local fishermen and barbequed over open fires. Slightly inland, known as the best kept Andalucian village is Frigiliana, a visit here is a must whilst staying in Nerja, but be prepared for climbing steep cobbled streets. The local ladies still sit outside their village houses crocheting and selling their garden produce. At the top of the village the restaurants offer amazing views right down to the coast. A drive to Granada to visit the Alhambra Palace and the General Life Gardens is very easy from Nerja due to the new road network, however, nothing is better or more picturesque than driving over the Sierra Nevada, which at all times of the year has snow-capped peaks. The Hotel Balcon De Europe in Nerja is featured by Classic Collection Holidays, come and see them at our Holiday Show on 21st April.

Menorca is the most tranquil and untouched of the Balearic Islands and the peaceful and natural beauty is the perfect backdrop to a selection of superb hotels & villas. Alex says… Menorca has one of the best reputations for beaches and travelling with a 1 year old, it was the soft sand and shallow safe waters that attracted me to the island.We opted for the resort of Punta Prima which was only 30 minutes from the airport and the capital Mahon. We stayed at the Insotel Punta Prima Resort, located on the seafront with all the facilities that a family could need including a kid’s pool, kid’s club, various sporting activities and evening entertainment including a “minidisco” that my toddler adored. The family apartments either on the ground or 1st floor are spacious enough and being an all-inclusive resort, excellent value for money. The local town of Punta Prima is a 2-minute walk away and has a selection of shops, restaurants and even a little playground for the children.

Jo says… We used to go to Menorca on family holidays as a child and this was my first visit back there in about 10 years so I was keen to see if it had changed much - it didn’t disappoint! We also stayed in the resort of Punta Prima and chose a villa with private pool as we like the freedom of having our own space. We hired a car for the duration of our trip and managed to tear ourselves away from the pool for a couple of days to explore some of the island. In Santo Tomas the long beach is fantastic and has shallow waters for younger children to paddle while older children can enjoy the watersports on offer, with a handful of restaurants in the resort. Cala Galdana is one of the most beautiful resorts on the island, with high cliffs, aromatic pine trees and spectacular views around its shell shaped cove with turquoise blue shallow waters. Wherever you are on the island, you will have a fantastic holiday! Classic Collection Holidays feature Menorca – come and talk to them at our Holiday Show on 21st April!



F I S K A R D O, K E FA L O N I A - by A n n e

C O S TA N AVA R I N O, P E L O P O N N E S E - by A l e x

What is it about islands? I love islands, and always think an island makes a good holiday destination! Kefalonia is one of the Ionian islands to the west of mainland Greece, and is served by regular direct flights from Gatwick throughout the summer season. My husband and I first discovered Fiskardo, a village in the north of Kefalonia, some 20 odd years ago and we have been delighted to re-acquaint ourselves with the area several times in the last few years and it certainly still has the magic ‘something’ for special holidays. Fiskardo was one of the few places untouched by the 1955 earthquake, so many of the original Victorian buildings remain, and the surrounding hills are green with cypress trees. Local planning laws have prevented any large-scale developments, and whilst the village has grown around the bay, it has not become over developed, and has kept an air of relaxed refinement. Pretty pastel coloured buildings tumble down the hillsides to the natural harbour with its plethora of bars and restaurants forming ringside seats to the fascinating coming and goings on the water, as the flotilla yachts, local fishing boats and gin palaces jockey for quayside position and provide

If you are looking for an authentic Greek holiday, away from the crowds but offering the ultimate family experience - Costa Navarino may be just what you are looking for. Costa Navarino is in the Messina region of the Peloponnese, surrounded by green hills, sheer valleys, vineyards and olive groves that slope down to the crystal-clear blue and turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea. The transfer from Kalamata airport takes approximately 50 minutes and takes you through countryside, lovely little traditional villages and winding hills. I was immediately blown away with how unspoilt and undiscovered this area really is. The resort comprises 2 hotels, the 5* Westin Resort, and the exclusive Romanos, a Luxury Collection resort. Both hotels have a wide range of dining options and facilities onsite including a selection of swimming pools, bars, recreational and sporting facilities including rock climbing, mountain biking, Scuba diving and hiking. The beach stretches over 1km with golden sand, where you can watch sea turtles come and lay their eggs. You can also take part in a local cooking lesson, hire a car for the day to visit one

hours of people watching pleasure! You are spoilt for choice for dining, with traditional and contemporary Greek food available in the many tavernas. The views from Fiskardo harbour are across the strait to the island of Ithaca which often lights up pink at sunset. The water is crystal clear, and there are little shingly bays to snorkel and swim from, and you can hire your own little boat to explore the coastline. There is also a PADI accredited dive school, and various boat excursions to take, or you can sail with Captain Aristides, the ferry service to Vassiliki on the tip of Lefkas. A favourite lunch spot of ours is the unique village of Assos, with its clifftop fortress and sheltered cove easily reached by car from Fiskardo. Nearby Assos is the famous beach of Myrtos, with a crescent of white sand backed by high cliffs, go early to see it in the best light. Fiskardo - for a week or two of escapism, I can’t think of many better places to be! Sunvil and their sister company Greek Island Club have villas and apartments near Fiskardo – come and see them at our Holiday Show on 21st April!

of the many archaeological sites nearby or learn about the local flora and fauna at the interactive Navarino Natura Hall exhibition centre. One of the areas which particularly impressed me was the children’s club. Costa Navarino has two bases for childcare; Cocoon for the little ones and Sandcastle for the older children, and these are not your average hotel kids clubs, the teams will keep children entertained for hours with golf, tennis, art and crafts, swimming, treasure hunts, bowling and more! There is also an adventure playground, impressive children’s pools and waterslides. One of my favourite activities is to rent a bike and do the 5km cycle through the olive groves and villages to the stunning beach of Voidokilia (otherwise known as circle beach). Soft sand, crystal clear, shallow turquoise waters, ideal for young families. Pack a picnic and take your swim things, you’ll want to stay there all day! Classic Collection Holidays feature both properties – come and see them at our Holiday Show on the 21st April to find out more!



H A L K I D I K I , G R E E C E - by Jo

R I V E R C RU I S E - by L i n d a

This three-fingered peninsula juts out into the Aegean Sea from the north of the Greek mainland. It’s not as well-known as many of the other Greek holiday destinations, but that is its appeal. The region offers visitors a go-slow atmosphere and some of the best scenery in the country – both along the coast and further inland. There are a range of hotels to choose from, and I have visited them all, so I am very happy to advise on which one would suit you best. The sophisticated resort of Sani, is a familyowned ecological reserve stretching across 1,000 acres, with endless golden beaches enchantingly framed by the crystal clear waters of the Aegean and the magnificent pine forests of the Kassandra peninsula. There are 5 hotels in the resort to choose from – Porto Sani, Sani Asterias, Sani Club, Sani Dunes and Sani Beach. They also have the Piazza and Sani Marina, with different restaurants and bars and fun shopping in their chic boutiques. The beautiful Danai Beach Resort & Spa is a member of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’

and it is a luxury hideaway set in lush gardens with a range of suites and villas all unique in style and design. It offers a choice of 3 amazing restaurants along with plenty of watersports, with even the option of hiring a private yacht to take you out for the day, a truly memorable experience! IKOS Oceania & IKOS Olivia are two of the newest openings in the region and both all-inclusive hotels have a relaxed atmosphere yet still with the concept of a 5* luxury resort. There are 4 à la carte restaurants to choose from, most with menus from a Michelin Star Chef or you even get the option to dine at a local Greek restaurant with no extra charge. Beautiful landscaped gardens entice you away from the hotel, through the pool areas and down to the private beach. Children are well looked after with the clubs provided while adults can relax in the hotels’ amazing spa. Classic Collection Holidays feature these hotels in Halkidiki – come and learn more from them at our Holiday Show on 21st April.

Such is my enjoyment of river cruising that I have, for the last couple of years, spent a week of my annual holiday on a European river cruise. Not only are you allocated an extremely comfortable cabin, it also includes full board fine dining with local wines and beers, on-board entertainment, sightseeing excursions, and even gratuities with most companies. Once you are unpacked, everything is catered for. Staff are on-hand 24/7 and daily information sheets will keep you up-to-date with all the latest news and choice of the sightseeing excursions for you to choose from. For the more active you can sign up for a bike tour, perhaps try out mountain climbing, or a hike through vineyards. As river boats have fewer guests than other cruises, the restaurant staff will try and seat couples on a larger table to give them all an opportunity to get to know their fellow passengers. They are usually like-minded people and often emails and contact details are exchanged between new found friends by the end of the cruise. The wonderful thing is that there are so many

rivers that can be explored, and now, you can also experience long haul destinations such as Vietnam & Cambodia, Myanmar, China, and India. So, if you’re looking for something new this year, try a river cruise and experience 5* service, gourmet meals, and a very friendly and relaxing experience. Tauck are one of the companies we highly recommend for river cruising – come and talk to them at our Holiday Show on 21st April!




H O L I DAY S H OW On the 21st April, we will be hosting our very first Holiday Show where a collection of our favourite suppliers will be on hand to tell you a lot more about their amazing products and destinations.

Nick Samuels - Managing Director Nick has been with Ashdown since 1997 and has held various roles and is now Managing Director. During this period, he has made and maintained key relationships with suppliers and hotels and these have been so important in the growth of the company.

Currently the following suppliers have committed to attend:

James Metcalf - Business Travel Manager Running the corporate side of Ashdown since 2001, James is the go to person for any business travel enquiry. From multi sector trips to a straight forward return ticket, James is the man to take your corporate travel headaches away.

Anne Knight – Sales Consultant Anne joined Ashdown in 2005 and has held a long career in travel before joining the company. With official specialisation for Canada and Bermuda, Anne also loves islands - yet conversely has an incredible knowledge of Florida and knows all the major theme parks back to front.

Jo Wolfe – Sales Consultant Jo is Ashdown’s longest serving staff member having been with the company for over 20 years. With a passion for Italy and Greece, Jo is a key member of the retail team and as Mum to two children, Jo knows what is required to make the perfect family holiday.

Laura Carter – Sales Consultant Laura joined us in December 2016 and was previously working for tour operators but is now loving the varied nature of retail. Laura is our Scandinavia specialist, she has even been inside a live volcano.

Sue Mercer – Sales Consultant Sue has been with Ashdown since 2009 and has become an integral part of the retail team having travelled widely around the globe. Sue has a passion for the Caribbean, and is also our cruise specialist having cruised on both the Ocean and River.

Alex Howell - Sales Consultant Alex is another Ashdown Travel new starter having been with the company for 9 months, however brings a wealth of experience in the industry. Having also worked as a dive instructor in the Red Sea, Alex knows all about the best dive spots in the world.

Africa and Beyond

If Only – Australasia

Beachcomber – Mauritius, the Seychelles, Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Kirker Holidays – Cities and shortbreak holidays

Belmond – Luxury hotels, train journeys, river cruises and safaris

Latin Routes – South America

Best Served Scandinavia

Prestige Holidays – Canada

Caribtours – Caribbean

Silversea Cruises – Small, luxury, all-inclusive cruises

Classic Collection Holidays – Winter and summer sun holidays

Sunvil Holidays & GIC – Greece Specialist

Exodus Travels – Adventure and Activity Holidays

Tauck – River cruise

Funway Holidays – USA including Florida

Titan Travel – Touring holidays Western & Oriental - India

During the day, there will be five presentations as follows. There will be 25 tickets available for each one and will be allocated on a first come first served basis. To book your space please email marketing@ashdowntravel.co.uk, or telephone us.

Linda Shotter – Sales Consultant Linda has held roles within Retail and Corporate travel and ran the Bales Travel Club for many years. Extensively travelled and with a passion for adventure, Linda loves walking on glaciers and trekking in the Amazon.

11.00 am – Dan Jackson – Exodus Travels

Michelle Warner - Accounts Manager

2.00 pm – Donatella Valzasina – Silversea Cruises

For all things accounts, Michelle is your go to person. Having joined the Ashdown Team in 2016 Michelle has settled in well and will be your point of contact for accounts payable or accounts receivable.

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11.45 am – Manisha Rathod – Belmond Luxury Travel Experiences 12.30 pm – Jessica Bain - Latin Routes (All things South America) 1.15 pm – Rebecca Burgess – Caribtours - The wonderful world of the Caribbean

Refreshments will be available during the day and a prize draw will be on offer for all attendees. I do sincerely hope you will be able to join us on the 21st April and should you have any questions then please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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A S H D OW N B E L M O N D C I P R I A N I & B E L M O N D O R I E N T E X P R E S S by S u e In April, I was invited to join Belmond and Kirker Holidays on a very exclusive trip to Venice returning on the iconic Orient Express. We met early morning for our flight to Venice, on arrival we were transferred by private water taxi to join a Kirker private walking tour and visit to the Doges Palace, which is a good way to get your bearings before exploring Venice on your own. After boarding the private launch, we crossed over to Guidecca Island where the most famous hotel in Venice the Belmond Cipriani is located, a beautiful hotel swamped in tradition and incredible surroundings. My suite with a double balcony overlooking the lagoon was huge and encompassed everything that luxury offers. The Cipriani is unique in Venice with its extensive immaculate gardens and terraces surrounding a huge outdoor heated pool. The ambience is so peaceful and serene it was hard to believe that the bustling centre of Venice was just across the water. Our return to London began from Venice rail station, where the Belmond Orient Express was waiting for us. The train is beautiful and a truly

impressive sight! The impeccably dressed and happy staff all lined up to greet passengers, cabins are very traditional and cosy, each cabin will sleep two people in a lower and upper bunk, made up into beds whilst you eat dinner, and every cabin houses a washbasin neatly tucked away in the corner. Toilets are located at the end of each carriage, bathrobes and slippers are provided. The food is wonderful and there is plenty of it, so no diets on this trip! You will have the opportunity to eat in all three of the restaurant carriages. A short stop in Paris gave us the opportunity to stretch our legs and watch the lobsters being loaded for Brunch to be served on our onward journey. On arrival in Calais we disembarked the train and boarded luxury coaches for the journey through the tunnel to Folkestone where the British Pullman was waiting for our final journey to London Victoria. Belmond Orient Express and the Belmond Hotel Cipriani are featured by Kirker Holidays, both Belmond and Kirker Holidays will be represented at our Holiday Show on 21st April, come along and talk to them about this wonderful trip.

A S H D OW N NEVIS by Anne IIf was recently by the Nevis in Tourism you’re lookinginvited for wildlife locations South Authority to join group of agents America, then whya small not try stopping off to in discover island of Nevis,Here one you of the Ecuador’sthe Amazon region. canjewels find of Leeward Islands Caribbean. Easily thethe most amazing arrayinofthe tropical birds; herons, accessible 15-minute water to taxi from St kingfishers,by spoonbills and ospreys name a few. Kitts, or a short hop onward from Antigua, St Walk along raised boardwalks through the Barth’s or Puerto Rico, the island offers genuine dense flooded palm forest and very often you’ll Caribbean hospitality in ofa monkeys relaxing scenic spot, get to see various species showing off and remains skills! unscathed by the recent theirfortunately dare devil jumping hurricane activity. Take a dugout canoe across the lakes and along An island of rainforests, reefs, and historic the canals that stretch out all around the lodges ruins, Nevis has something for everyone. where you will find all sorts of insects and spiders, Dominating the centre of the island is Mount and lazy lizards watching you, as you slowly Nevis, the dormant volcano perpetually cloaked paddle by.named by Columbus when he first in mist, When visitserene comesand to natural an end discoveredyour it inrainforest 1493. The then what would be the better thanbackdrop an onward beauty of Nevis, forms perfect for trip to thethe Galapagos Perhaps a 7 night exploring remains Islands. of historic churches and marvellous old sugar plantations on the Nevis Heritage Trail. Beaches are long and beautiful, whilst the waters around the island are home to

4 species of turtle options cruise where you with won’tgood havesnorkelling to keep packing justunpacking offshore and and you diving around wrecks or can completely relax and naturalthe reefs. It’s easy affordable hiresoa enjoy wildlife. The and yachts travel attonight car tohave explore, or of why not to join a Funky Monkey you plenty time visit the numerous tour off-roading on hillside trails, for some islands during the day. spectacular coastal Look out for theviews! basking marine iguanas, the Accommodation historic waved albatrosses, giantranges tortoises,from the Galapagos plantation inns to mountainside villas or penguins and so much more. Take time even out toa luxury Four Darwin Seasons resort. Dining is oftoa visit the5-star Charles Research Station high standard throughout the island, not only in learn about the conservation efforts of this unique hotels but also with independent restaurants, and environment. some inter-change dining arrangements have also been encouraged and developed between some venues. Nevis really does tick all the boxes for a memorable holiday on a stand alone basis or as part of an island hopping or twin centre itinerary. Caribtours offer a range of hotels here – come and talk to them at our Holiday Show on 21st April!





Jamaica is the real Caribbean, an island with a unique vibrant culture that sits beside magnificent natural beauty. As the flight approaches Jamaica, it gives you a real insight into the diverse landscapes, from the mountain regions to the dense green forests, all bordered by the beautiful turquoise Caribbean Sea with reefs full of marine life. The music of Bob Marley and the friendly, always smiling Jamaican people make up the wonderful spirit of the Island. It is the most welcoming and hospitable place you could ever visit. Ian Fleming wrote his first novel, Casino Royale at his Golden Eye estate in 1952, now a luxury hotel on the North Coast. Jamaica was also the location for the scene in Doctor No, where Ursula Andress emerged from the sea. Negril offers Jamaica’s finest beach, 7 miles of soft white sand with a great selection of boutique hotels, cliff top restaurants and the most incredible sunsets. Lush gardens are abundant with colourful

tropical flowers and local humming birds and when the sun goes down the singing frogs take over and give that unforgettable magical Caribbean sound. In energetic Ocho Rios swim with the dolphins, take an aerial rainforest canopy ride, enjoy an exhilarating ride on Mystic Mountain inspired by the Jamaican Bobsled team or climb the famous Dunn’s River Falls. Take a visit to the coffee plantations in the blue mountains and taste the famous rum at the Appleton Estate. Treat yourself to a local red Stripe beer complimented by Jerk chicken, fresh lobster, smoked marlin and fresh snapper enjoyed al fresco next to the beautiful blue ocean. 20 visits and Jamaica always calls me, it never fails to deliver and holds a very special place in my heart which urges me to return year after year! Caribtours feature Negril, Ocho Rios and Golden Eye in Jamaica, come and see them at our Holiday Show on 21st April.


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2018 If you’re marks looking 25 years for wildlife since Ilocations first experienced in South Orlando, boy have seen some changes over America,and then why I not try stopping offthat in time! But Amazon it remainsregion. one of Here my favourite holiday Ecuador’s you can find destinations for fun array and relaxation, andbirds; as my visits the most amazing of tropical herons, are well intospoonbills double figures do feeltovery confident kingfishers, and Iospreys name a few. to be able along to advise you how to get thethrough most outthe of Walk raised boardwalks this popular destination. dense flooded palm forest and very often you’ll Resort, with its 4 theme get Walt to seeDisney variousWorld species of monkeys showing off parks, 2 waterparks, mini golf and shopping, dining their dare devil jumping skills! andTake entertainment complex called Springs is, a dugout canoe across theDisney lakes and along of course, a huge draw. Add to that Universals two the canals that stretch out all around the lodges theme parks, waterpark and entertainment complex where you will find all sorts of insects and spiders, plus Seaworld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica; Busch and lazy lizards watching you, as you slowly Gardens, Legoland and Kennedy Space Center and paddle by. start to feel overwhelmed. That’s before you might When your rainforest visit comes to area an end we talk about all that the International Drive has then what would be better than an onward to offer as well as fantastic golfing opportunities. The trip to Islands. Perhaps everything a 7 night truth is, the you Galapagos won’t be able to experience in one trip, but you will have an amazing time! Unsurprisingly, there is also a wealth of accommodation options from budget to deluxe in Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista or I-Drive areas. We like to stay at a condominium complex called Bahama Bay Resort – with attractive landscaping, 4 swimming pools, tennis courts, bar, restaurant and children’s play areas – located in a quiet area close to

cruise the westwhere end ofyou US192; won’t there have aretoalsokeep several packing gated andunpacking non-gated and villa you communities in this residential or can completely relax and area. There is a great variety of travel restaurants within enjoy the wildlife. The yachts at night so 10minutes drive – of youtime musttotryvisit Cracker Barrel for you have plenty the numerous breakfastduring and Longhorn islands the day. Steakhouse for dinner! Plus, Walmart, Publix aremarine right on hand too. Look out for and the Target basking iguanas, the Yet a mere 15minutes drive brings you into the heart waved albatrosses, giant tortoises, the Galapagos of Disney, with Universal away.out to penguins and so much only more.30minutes Take time Depending on the age groups in your party visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to there about may be to efforts stayingofatthis anunique onsite learn theadvantages conservation hotel either at Disney or Universal, and for nonenvironment. drivers staying on International Drive remains a good option with its frequent trolley service. I can advise on all these options. Away from the major theme parks, you might be surprised at what else you can access. Last December we had a beautiful wildlife experience, kayaking on St Johns River and saw many types of birds including wild turkeys and eagles, sunbathing alligators and manatees. There is good hiking and fishing in this area too. We’ve also gone flying in an old bi-plane and had days out at the beach, with either coastline reached in under 2 hours. Funway Holidays are one of the operators we work with for holidays to Orlando – come and talk to them at our Holiday Show on 21st April.

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This amazing hotel is each year crafted using ice from the frozen River Torne, it is transformed into a work of art by the world’s leading ice sculptors. You will be mesmerised by hallways lit by sparkling chandeliers of ice, while the Art Suites must be seen to be believed. Some of the designs this year include a Space Room, Fabergé Egg, a Snail World and in recent years they have had a life size Elephants’ head, as well as three life size Polar Bears. The Icehotel 365 offers a year-round ice-stay experience, blending seamlessly during winter with the seasonal Icehotel, which melts back into the river each spring. A private husky transfer has got to be the most unusual way to leave the airport. Your luggage is taken from you and transferred separately to the Icehotel, you are then introduced to these amazing animals who will be your means of transport for the next hour and a half. You will be introduced to the dogs and can feed

and pet them then after being provided with ski suits, boots, balaclava and mittens you are settled into the sleigh - the huskies are so excited and do make a lot of noise as they can’t wait to get going! Underway, the dogs suddenly become completely silent as they lead you through the snowy landscape, through forests and onto a frozen lake.What a beautiful sight and quite surreal, it was at this point I knew this was going to be the start of a fantastic experience. The Icehotel Restaurant was ranked the top restaurant in Kiruna and is in the top three in Swedish Lapland in White Guide 2016 & 2017. Sourcing ingredients from the local area, they serve delicacies like reindeer, moose, Arctic char and bramble berries, the chef has put a cosmopolitan twist to the ingredients. The Old Homestead Restaurant is more rustic in style and on the menu you will find the dishes of a typical simple

steakhouse. After dinner take a trip to one of the bar areas. Visiting the Icebar is something you should do at least once in your life! Sip on a delicious cocktail or have a glass of champagne. The glasses are made entirely out of ice. Like the rest of Icehotel, the Icebar takes on a new guise every year – no bar like the previous one! And so to bed and sleeping on ice! You are provided with a sleeping bag, and the advice that is given to keeping warm in the constant -5⁰C temperature is, less is more. Therefore, the less you have on under your sleeping bag the better, as it is your body heat that will keep you warm! After a surprisingly good night’s sleep you are woken with hot lingon berry juice and you will be provided with a certificate to show you have survived the night sleeping on ice. On my trip the second and third nights were

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in one of the lovely Nordic Chalets. There are various excursions you can choose from including a wilderness dinner, reindeer encounters, ice sculpting, horseback riding, husky mushing as well as Nordic skiing, you can make the trip as busy or as quiet as you want it to be. I was lucky enough to experience the Northern Lights snowmobiling trip where you head out in the evening in search of the lights. Stopping along the way, the guide will tell you about the lights and how they appear and the best conditions to see them and then it is down to Mother Nature on the night! You will feel totally indulged and spoilt after this trip, I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a touch of luxury in a beautiful winter wonderland location. Best Served Scandinavia feature this amazing location, come and see them at our Holiday Show on 21st April!

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A R G E N T I N A - by L i n d a

O M A N - by N i c k

Somewhere that has always been on my bucket list was to travel to Patagonia, and I was extremely lucky to do just that this year! Our trip began in Buenos Aires, home to over one-third of Argentina’s population and to the wonderful Tango dance. A city tour is the best way to make sure you take in all the many sights on offer in this beautiful city. A visit to the La Recoleta Cemetery is especially recommended where Argentina’s wealthy and powerful lie in grand mausoleums, including the most beloved and controversial first lady – Eva (Evita) Peron. Our next stop was a 2.5hr flight to Bariloche in North-West Patagonia. This is the Lake region of Argentina and the base for a vast choice of activities in the surrounding unspoilt countryside including hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, classic car touring, and so much more. We were also very lucky to experience the unique luxury hotel, the Llao Llao Resort & Spa, nestled between Lake Moreno and Lake Nahuel Huapi and built in the style of a grand Canadian mountain lodge.

Last up, El Calafate in Southern Patagonia, home to some of the most dramatic glaciers anywhere in the world. The two most easily accessed glaciers are Perito Mereno, the world’s only advancing glacier, and Upsala, the longest glacier in South America. A perfect way to experience Upsala is on a full day tour to Estancia Christina, founded in 1941 by the English settler Joseph Percival Masters. You sail among the icebergs to see the stunning scenery overlooking the western front of the Upsala glacier. On arrival at the Estancia, a 4x4 will take you on a steep climb to the viewing point over the Upsala Glacier and there’s also the opportunity to experience a two and half hour hike to the waterfall of Cascada de los Perros. Having now experienced a small part of this beautiful country, exploring the rest of Argentina is now on my bucket list! Latin Routes offer tailor made trips to Argentina and other South American countries – come and talk to them directly at our Holiday Show on 21st April.

Having been to Dubai on many occasions I was intrigued to see the differences when I was invited for my first time to Oman in October this year. My initial reactions when leaving the airport was that there were no high-rise buildings and a calmer, serene atmosphere. Heading to the Shangri La Barr Al Jissah resort for our first 2 nights, this beautiful resort is 3 hotels within 1 resort. The Al Waha predominately caters for families with pool and lazy rivers, The Al Bandar caters for everyone and the Al Husn is a 6-star world class resort that is adult only. All three are immaculately managed and sit on a stunning stretch of coastline. Moving into the mountains our home for the next two nights was the multi award winning Anantara Jabal al Akhdar resort. This fantastic resort is a 2-and-a-half-hour transfer from Muscat and is perched at over 2000 metres

above sea level. Combining contemporary accommodation with stunning views and a cooler climate than the coast, this makes a great addition to a beach stay. Our final stop was back in Muscat at the uber cool Chedi Hotel. The hotel is perfect for business and leisure travellers alike with 6 exquisite dining options, 3 swimming pools, one of which is the longest pool in the Middle East, a Balinese spa and 700-square-metre health club. We dined in the aptly named “The Restaurant” for our last supper. There are 4 open show kitchens offering Western, Asian, Middle Eastern and Indian fare, complemented by an awardwinning wine list. All in all, Oman surpassed my expectations and I would certainly go back. If you applied an analogy to cars, Dubai is fast and furious like a Ferrari, whereas Oman is very refined and classy like a Rolls Royce.

A S H D O W N T R AV E L H O L I D AY S H O W Saturday 21st Apr il 2018 Oxted Community Hall, Church Lane, Oxted 10.30AM – 3.30PM To gain free entrance to our holiday show please complete the following details and hand to a member of Ashdown Travel staff on arrival. All attendees will be entered into a prize draw. If you would like to book seats for the individual presentations (details on the middle pages) please call us in advance on 01883 714312 or email marketing@ashdowntravel.co.uk. Name Address

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