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T R A V E L FROM THE EDITOR

HOME OR AWAY? elcome to the s u m m e r- t i m e issue of The Travel & Leisure Magazine. Traditionally, it is when we Brits make our annual pilgrimage to soak up the sun on distant beaches. But, according to several surveys, more of us are choosing to stay in the UK this year – either to cut down on the expense of going abroad, or to enjoy the “barbeque summer” promised by the Met Office. Wherever you head, we hope you will take this issue with you. As ever, it is packed full of ideas for holidays, both overseas and at home. And with an eye on the weather, we look at London’s glorious parks and see what’s going on during the summer beyond the capital. We head to Thailand, a perennial favourite for its beaches and good-value shopping, and sing the praises of music city Salzburg. We also go on the buses to see how coach holidays have changed. The Channel Islands are the focus for our look at holidays on your doorstep. Keeping the theme close to home we highlight cruises from UK ports, which are growing in popularity. And we tee it up in Spain’s Murcia region for our golf spotlight. Sit back, enjoy the read – and catch those rays while they last.

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Peter Ellegard

GETTING TO KNOW Thailand bling and buy TRAVEL UPDATE Travel news

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ESCAPE TO Salzburg – city of music

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ALL ABOARD Cruising from UK ports + News

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OFF THE BEATEN TRACK KwaZulu-Natal

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LET’S TRY Escorted coach holidays

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PACK YOUR CLUBS Spain’s Murcia region + News

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ON YOUR DOORSTEP The Channel Islands

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IN YOUR FLIGHT BAG

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WIN – A stylish Travelwrap worth over £200

IN YOUR SUITCASE

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PLUS – 5 Yale Travel Safes to give away

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L E I S U R E

OUT & ABOUT What’s on outside London

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COMING NEXT What’s in store in the next issue

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LONDON REVIEW London’s parks + London news

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FREE BOOKS for new subscribers – see page 59

We want to hear from you. Let us have your  thoughts on The Travel & Leisure WIN Magazine’s new look, or WIN on any topic. The best letter will win a STAR PRIZE. Email us at letters@tlmags.com MAY/JUNE 2009

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EDITORIAL TEAM Editor Peter Ellegard Writers Peter Ellegard, Keeley Gordon, Sara Macefield, Dave Richardson, Debbie Ward and Frank Partridge Design Nick Blaxill Advertising Team Jeannette Cumbers, Beverley Sennett & Elaine Smith Admin/Accounts Wendy Barfoot Production Keeley Gordon, Loretta Prince Publisher Terry Stafford Digital Publisher Peter Lewsey Published bi-monthly by Travel & Leisure Magazines Ltd First Floor, 103 Cranbrook Road, Ilford, Essex, IG1 4PU Tel: 020 8477 1529 Fax: 020 8514 4536 Email: info@tlmags.com Printed by Wyndeham Heron © Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited 2009 The publishers cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Whilst every care is taken, all material submitted to Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited is done so at its owner’s risk and neither Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited nor its agents can accept any liability for loss or damage. Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited is a completely independent company and can hold no responsibility for the actions of outside agents. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without prior written consent. All private advertisers are totally responsible for their own wording within their advertisement, and Travel & Leisure Magazines Limited can therefore take no responsibility as to their content. Please seek legal advice and thereafter verify all the details of your purchase in writing before proceeding. Front cover photo: Bournemouth Tourism

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Karst away in bling and buy paradise

here’s the bigheaded ghost” said my guide, flashing the beam of her torch into the upper reaches of the cave. I could make out a striped snake-like creature with a bulge and an eye at one end. I did what any tourist would do, I took a photo. As I was wearing flip flops and my only means of escape was a kayak it’s just as well this was no malevolent monster but a 2,000 year-old cave painting, given its nickname by Thai fishermen. My brush with ancient spirits came on a

“T

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paddle tour of scenic rock climbing; there’s a mangroves at Thailand’s cultural side – if you join southerly resort of the monks (and the Krabi. My small monkeys) at the nearby kayaking party not Tiger Cave Temple; only took in the “bigand, of course, there’s headed ghost cave” but some of the world’s most also tunnels hung with gorgeous beaches to lie stalactites and leafy corriyour towel upon. Low-key Krabi may not be dors where brightly-coloured ■ Wat Pho Buddha Thailand’s most popular resort (it crabs crawled up exposed tree lags in that respect behind Phuket and roots. Krabi could be considered a small-scale Koh Samui) but if your mental image of the showcase of the tourist appeal of whole of country is craggy limestone karst islands and Thailand. There’s adventure – with kayak- long-tail boats decorated with ribbons in a ing, jungle hikes to hot springs and even turquoise sea, this is where the photos you’re

July/August 2009

Main photo and inset:Tourism Authority of Thailand

From its gorgeous beaches and craggy karst islands to golden palaces, jungles and great shopping, it is hardly surprising Thailand is such a popular holiday spot. Debbie Ward is a Thai dyed-in-the-wool fan…


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getting to KNOW THAILAND

recalling were mostly likely taken. The iconic karst islands were made famous when one was used as a location for the villain Scaramanga’s hideout in the 1974 Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Now popularly known as James Bond Island, Koh Tapu (translating as Nail island as it is virtually vertical) is in Phang Nga Bay and can be reached on a day trip from Krabi or Phuket.

■ Long-tail boats and karst island off Krabi

Krabi’s main strip, Ao Nang, has something of a waterborne rush hour each morning as long-tails start their noisy outboard motors to whisk day-tripping tourists into karststudded Phang Nga Bay. My partner and I joined one of the island-hopping excursions for a lazy day of sunbathing and snorkelling on and around five beaches of increasing loveliness. Some of the places we stopped at were nothing more than sandbars but enterprising Thais had turned their longtails into floating cafes serving milkshakes, sandwiches and fruit.

July/August 2009

Debbie Ward

Island hopping

By night we enjoyed browsing the restaurants at the quieter eastern end of Ao Nang, checking out the catch of the day displayed on iced trays before tucking our legs under a bamboo table and tucking in to three or four colourful stir-fry or curry dishes for under £10. Afterwards we’d head for a cocktail at a bar converted from an old VW campervan.

By day, when we weren’t on excursions we made shorter hops, using the long-tails as a ferry service to the attractive neighbouring beaches of Railay and, my personal favourite Thai beach, Phra Nang. Here, at one end of the cliff-framed white sand strip, I found another surprise waiting in a cave – rows of brightly-painted wooden phalluses.

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While it may be a giggle for tourists, some locals believe this cave contains the spirit of a drowned princess – and I kept a respectful distance from the devotees offering prayers before the unusual shrine.

■ Relxation, Thai style

On my visit I had my own lie down for a very affordable kneading at the massage school in Wat Pho’s grounds. Bangkok’s other must-sees, the pottery studded temple of dawn – Wat Arun – and the small Royal Barges Museum are close by and reached on a river boat tour. Just beware of locals telling you the attraction you seek is closed for lunch, flooded or otherwise unavailable and helpfully suggesting alternative sights. They’re invariably drumming up business for a mate with a tuk-tuk! Out of Bangkok but within day-trip dis-

Cultural tips ● It is considered rude to point your feet at people in Thailand and especially at images of Buddha.Take care to tuck your feet behind you when sitting on the floor, particularly in temples. ● It’s also taboo to touch someone’s head, or to touch monks.

tance are the Bridge over the River Kwai, the so-called Death Railway built by WWII prisoners of war, and Ayutthaya, the site of Thailand’s former royal capital. At the second of these I was charmed to discover the odd crumbling stone Buddha statue respectfully clothed with saffron robes or patched with gold leaf among the restored temples and atmospheric ruins. Most people arrive at Ayutthaya by road but it’s possible to make a romantic two-night, three-day journey aboard a converted rice barge (www.manohracruises.com).

● When visiting Bangkok’s Royal Palace wear enclosed shoes or sandals with straps around the heels to save queuing to hire appropriate footwear. ● Be prepared to cover your shoulders and remove shoes inside temples. ● The Thai royal family is highly-revered, so derogatory comments about them and disrespectful treatment of Baht notes bearing the king’s image will not be appreciated.

■ The Royal Palace, Bangkok

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July/August 2009

Tourism Authority of Thailand

Thailand’s predominantly-Buddhist spirituality is part of what makes it so famously friendly. Thais consider it a loss of face to resort to argument and you’ll rarely hear raised voices. The short-lived violence at the government protests of late last year was out of character in this usually-peaceful country. Buddhism also gives Thailand some of its most colourful sights, such as gold bell-shaped temple stupas and saffron-robed monks. My beach shrine was a far cry from the country’s more glitzy places of worship, the most revered of which lies within Bangkok’s key tourist attraction, the Grand Palace. You haven’t seen bling until you’ve wandered this sprawling complex of gold leafcovered, jewel-encrusted buildings set beside the city’s Chao Phraya River. Despite the crowds it’s a peaceful place to be, with Thais making incense and lotus blossom offerings and kneeling before the precious statue that’s the focal point of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Next door to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho is home to a giant, reclining Buddha with feet inlaid with mother of pearl.

Tourism Authority of Thailand

Friendly people


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Thai massage

■ Traditional Thai massage. Below left: Thai massage ingredients

Thailand’s unique and effective form of massage combines stretches with reflexology-like stimulation of pressure points. Much attention is focused on the feet but the masseur will also pull your pyjama-clad limbs into slightly scary but ultimately muscle-easing positions, which is why this technique is sometimes called “passive yoga”. If you’re nervous, start with a foot massage or the more gentle Thai treatments involving warm herbal poultices.Whatever you choose, your relaxation will be aided by the low cost.While you’d commonly pay £1 a minute for a massage at home, £4 an hour is more typical in Thailand’s clean street or beachside centres (look out for the reflexology charts outside) and as little as £30 in a plush hotel spa with a range of international treatments.

All photos:Tourism Authority of Thailand

Cycling tour On another visit to Bangkok, I made my escape from the city on one of the capital’s new cycling tours. Thankfully this didn’t route me through Bangkok’s traffic-choked streets; instead, our small group was led by the guide along quiet paths through nearby farming areas, creating our own refreshing breeze as we went. During an enlightening day, we stopped to ask farmers the secrets of the famously-stinky durian fruit and called in at a local infant school to watch an English lesson in progress. Flinging our mountain bikes into a boat for a short ride up river, we ended up at Koh Kret, an island known for its pottery making and where we watched freshly-moulded incense burners being loaded into kilns. While the big sights of Bangkok are about history, one of its other key attractions – its nightlife – is bang up to date. Among the most famous venues is Bed Supper Club (www.bedsupperclub.com), where you can dance, or recline to eat and sip cocktails

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inside what looks like the belly of a bright white space ship. Glamorous skyscraper-top bars such as Sirocco Sky Bar (www.thedomebkk.com) at State Tower or Vertigo Grill & Moon Bar (www.banyantree.com) atop the Banyan Tree offer a different perspective with city views that stretch to the horizon. Bangkok’s hotels also pack that wow factor and nowadays size isn’t everything. I’ve been lucky enough to stay in several plush marble-lobbied giants on the riverfront over the years but, on my last trip, I chose to down■ Shop for size to Reflections Rooms local crafts (www.reflections-thai.com), a bizarre and very affordable establishment where a host of artists have been given free reign with the decor. I found myself crunching my way across my room on silver bubble wrap flooring, sitting on a sofa made

from recycled animal feed sacks and eating dinner under a chandelier hung with Barbie dolls. While not everyone will love the quirkiness of this place there are several boutique hotels in the capital where the style is more traditional, meaning you no longer have to go large for a bit of city chic.

Bargain shopping I recommend hitting Bangkok last if you can. Not only will you have shed your jetlag in a more relaxed environment but you’ll have got to grips with haggling and the exchange rate before you hit the capital’s shopping highlights. Most tourists beat a path to the rather seedy streets around Patpong for the ever-popular night

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to see Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat temples is another great combination. Here’s a regional round-up of Thailand’s key resorts:

Andaman Sea Krabi and Phuket both front the spectacular island-studded Phang Nga Bay, a scenic playground of beautiful beaches, caves and cliffs for lazing, kayaking and snorkelling. Phuket, Thailand’s most popular resort, is by far the liveliest of the two. This is the place to come for big resort facilities, party action and international fast-food favourites. The large island, linked to the mainland by road bridge, has also gained some peaceful and stylish retreats in recent years, particularly on it’s east and north-west coasts. For divers, Phuket is the gateway to Thailand’s world-class sites of the Similan Islands, Surin Islands and Burma Banks. Quieter Khao Lak, on the mainland just above Phuket, is even closer. Classy resorts have sprung up on some of the islands in Phang Nga Bay, including Koh Lanta, Koh Racha and day-trip favourite the Phi Phi islands – famous as the filming site for The Beach.

Gulf of Thailand

■ Elephant riding in northern Thailand

market. While I’ve had fun singing along to Tom Jones impersonators at Radio City bar and snapping up a few bargains here in my time, for serious browsing I head to Chatuchak. This colossal weekend market (also known as JJs), beside the northern SkyTrain stop of Mo Chit, boasts over 15,000 stalls. You’ll find bargain silk scarves, handmade candles, wood carvings and ornate cutlery sets but half the fun is the spectacle. This is where Thais shop for anything from furniture to pets to plastic fruit. I once even spotted a monk choosing a hamster! If you prefer the air-conditioned comfort of a mall, you’re spoilt for choice with giant shopping centres catering for trendy teens to the well-heeled clustered around Siam Square and surrounding streets. The great thing about buying anything in Thailand is that it’s very affordable. This is one of the few places in the world I can enjoy my favourite indulgences, cocktails and spa treatments, on a daily basis. While mosquito

July/August 2009

bites put paid to the massage marathon I had planned on my last visit, I still got to make like a celebrity by having a Bangkok tailor (most are concentrated around Sukhumvit Road and top hotels) run me up silk skirts and blouses to my own designs. The classic Thailand holiday combines Bangkok with a beach and sometimes a third stop in the green and cultural North. The country is also often linked with its neighbours on tours of South East Asia. A Thailand holiday with a side trip

While most of Thailand is best visited in the winter months, sheltered Koh Samui to the south of the Gulf of Thailand has an opposite season. It’s a honeymoon favourite so there’s plenty of romantic accommodation while family attractions like a training centre for coconut-picking monkeys are strung along the island’s loop road. Offshore, you can tour around Angthong National Marine Park or linger on neighbouring islands Koh Pha Ngan – famous for its full moon parties – and Koh Tao, a top spot for beginner divers. Just around an hour’s drive from Bangkok, brash Pattaya is a party resort with big-name facilities. Its seedier side has been somewhat cleaned up in recent years and it’s a well-established favourite with families who stay at quieter Jontiem beach and enjoy nearby attractions such as water parks, go-karting, an Elephant Village and Sriracha Tiger Zoo. Golfers flock to Pattaya, too, as there are several quality courses nearby. Hua Hin and Cha Am, also within driving distance of Bangkok, are quiet neighbouring resorts favoured by the Thai royal family, while

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Chic & boutique In recent years,Thailand’s decorative cultural traditions have been given a twist and the country has become something of a hotspot for chic contemporary design – not least in its accommodation, with attractive new boutique hotels making a particular splash. Just some of the stylish offerings include: ● The funky Dusit D2 brand hotels at Chiang Mai, Pattaya and, soon, Koh Samui (www.dusit.com). ● Philippe Starck-designed The Yamu, opening on Phuket this year with a chocolate room and a recording studio (www.theyamu.com). ● Back-to-nature and spa-focused Soneva Kiri by Six Senses, on the island of Koh Kood in the gulf of Thailand (www.sixsenses.com). ● Minimalist The Racha on Koh Racha, off Phuket (www.theracha.com). ● And the cheery, oriental chintz-themed Shanghai Mansion, in Bangkok’s Chinatown (www.shanghaimansion.com).

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■ The funky Dusit D2 hotel at Pattaya

Dusit D2

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the large, up-and-coming island of Koh Chang offers a mountainous interior and day-trip possibilities around its 50-plus neighbouring islands.

When to go: Koh Samui is best from June to September and the rest of Thailand November to March. Visa: UK passport holders do not need a visa for stays up to 30 days. Getting there: Thai Airways (www.thaiairways.co.uk), EVA Air (www.evaair.com), British Airways (www.ba.com) and Qantas (www.qantas.com) fly direct. You can also go direct to major resorts on charter flights. Tour operators: UK operators featuring Thailand include: Kuoni (www.kuoni.co.uk),Travel 2 (www.travel2.com), Funway Holidays (www.funwayholidays.co.uk), Jasmine Travel (www.jasmineholidays.co.uk), Premier Holidays, (www.premierholidays.co.uk) and Silverbird (www.silverbird.co.uk). Getting around: Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) and Thai Airways (www.thaiairways.co.uk) have extensive domestic flight networks. Beat the gridlocked daytime traffic in Bangkok by taking the SkyTrain, underground, or river ferries. Iconic three-wheeled tuk-tuks are fun for short trips (haggle the price beforehand) but metered taxis (check the meter is on) are safer and more affordable.Take the less-congested toll expressways in Bangkok. Cycling tours are offered by Bike & Travel (www.cyclingthailand.com) and Spice Roads (www.spiceroads.com). Ferry services and cheap long-tail boat taxis operate to the islands. Tourist information: Tourism Authority of Thailand: call 0870 900 2007 or visit www.tourismthailand.co.uk

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Tourism Authority of Thailand

Thailand facts

Thailand’s North Not everything worth seeing in Thailand comes with a sea view. The country’s lush and mountainous North is packed full of adventure and culture. Thailand’s second city, Chiang Mai, is the gateway to the North and is famed for its night market, handicraft villages and sanctuaries for elephants that once worked in the logging industry. Farther north, Chiang Rai is a smaller hub and close to the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos and Burma meet in scenic splendour around the Mekong River. You can trek to visit hill tribes in the North though the tourist path is pretty wellworn these days. Soft-adventure experiences like mountain biking and white-water rafting are also centred in the region as are some good golf courses. To head North in style, take the Eastern & Oriental Express (www.orient-express.com) from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, or, if you’d rather chill-out somewhere up-and coming, consider the laid back retreat of Pai in Mae Hong Song province. TL A travel journalist for over a decade, Debbie Ward writes for numerous publications. She has a wardrobe full of Thai clothing from her many Thailand visits.

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TRAVEL update

Does my tum look BIG in this?

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hen it comes to shopping, women are the natural champions. After all, a girl can never have too many shoes. Or dresses. Or handbags. And that lovely, sparkly jewellery is just perfect for those new outfits... Yet it seems the tables are turned when we go on holiday to the USA. New research shows that men outshop the girls once they cross the Atlantic, and by some considerable margin, too. The International Shopping Traveller Study shows that for almost 50% of British visitors shopping is either the key reason for the trip or is a factor in their choice of destinations – with men representing 56% of British shoppers, compared with just 44% for women. The survey, unveiled at the recent Pow Wow international travel trade marketplace show in Miami, was commissioned by the Shop America Alliance and shopping mall

■ Step aside, girls: men are the biggest bargain hunters

company Taubman Centres in partnership with the US Department of Commerce Office of Travel & Tourism Industries. It

Flagging up Britain’s best beaches

Ferry good value – and Fido can go, too

July/August 2009

Valerie Cameron

A

record 184 awards have been given to UK coastal areas in recognition of high quality under the Blue Flag beach award scheme – which is good news for the five million Britons planning to holiday in the UK this year. Although this year’s 72 Blue Flags is down by 10 on 2008, mainly due to flooding, it is still a huge increase from the 45 awarded in 2002. A total of 113 Quality Coast Awards were also made to British beaches. Top areas, with a total of 14 each, were the Isle of Wight (two Blue Flags and 12 QCAs) and Torbay (five and nine

■ Thanet’s Blue Flagwinning Minnis beach

respectively), followed by Thanet on 11 (seven/ four) and, both with 10, Southend (three/seven) and Scarborough (two/ eight). Bournemouth and neighbouring Poole each have four Blue Flag beaches. Visit www.blueflag.org/uk for a list of all awardwinning UK beaches.

● The Greek island of Rhodes has more Blue Flag beaches than any other European island, at 33. Greece is second in the world rankings, with 424 Blue Flag beaches, behind Spain (493). In all, 3,300 beaches around the world have the prestigious accolade.

highlights the trends in the USA’s top five inbound markets: Canada, Germany, Japan and Mexico plus the UK. Most British shopping travellers are repeat visitors, it reveals, and good value and variety are the most important elements of their shopping experience. New York City is the top destination for British shoppers, at 39%, followed by Orlando (20%) and Las Vegas (14%). Shopping accounts for 25% of British visitors’ spending on US trips, averaging $968 out of a total trip spend of $3,845. ● Chelsea Premium Outlets opens its Cincinnati Premium Outlets in August and has just completed The Promenade extension to Camarillo Premium Outlets, near Los Angeles. Extra discounts on labels such as Hugo Boss, Diesel and Brooks Brothers as well as boys toys favourites Sony and Bose are available by visiting www.premiumoutlets.com and joining the VIP club.

Take an Irish Ferries cruise from Holyhead to Dublin or Pembroke to Rosslare in July and August and enjoy a free night and three-course dinner at Wexford hotel Carlton Millrace and Kildare hotel Carlton Abbey. Prices, from £214 per person, include three nights with breakfast and return Sunday-Thursday ferry crossings. See www.irishferries.com If the dog needs a holiday too, DFDS Seaways (www.dfds.co.uk) now offers the DEFRA Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) on both its Newcastle-Amsterdam and Harwich-Esbjerg routes, with pet travel from £19 each way. Pets, which can include rabbits, mice and rats, must be booked in advance and fulfil the DEFRA scheme criteria. Call 0871 882 0885. EARLY BIRDS: Early-bird offers in Funway Holidays’ expanded 2010 Far East brochure include a 14-night Thailand tour from £969 per person this autumn, with three nights in Bangkok and a free city tour, three nights in Chiang Mai and eight in Phuket, with flights, for bookings by September 30. New for 2010 are Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. www.funwayholidays.co.uk

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TRAVEL update

Maldives specials T

he perfect ideal of sun, sand and sea, the Maldives are now even more accessible – and affordable – with a new three-timesa-week winter flight series from British Airways and special offers from some of the islands’ top resorts. Book a beach villa at the 52acre Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort & Spa private island before August 17 to travel before August 31 and take advantage of its two-for-one offer; prices start from just $129

(approximately £78) per villa per night including breakfast. www.hilton.co.uk/maldivesirufushi Nineteen individual houses make up the stylish and exclusive Naladhu resort, visited by celebrities such as Wimbledon champion Roger Federer. On its own private island and equipped with antique furnishings and a personal butler service, you can get 25% off if you book 60 days in advance. Prices start from $989 per room per night. www.naladhu.com Soneva by Six Senses

■ Save on stays at stylish Naladhu

(www.sonevaresorts.com) is offering 14 extra nights free on top of a two-week stay, in return for four days of community work at the Soneva Fushi and Soneva Gili resorts. Up to December 22, guests can help by doing things including teaching at local schools or hospital volunteer work. Elegant Resorts (01244 897517, www.elegantresorts.co.uk)

offers 28 nights in a Soneva Gili Villa suite from £6,675 per person, including flights and transfers – saving £5,800 per person. ● British Airways also has new winter services from Heathrow to Las Vegas and from Gatwick to Montego Bay (Jamaica), Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) and Innsbruck (Austria).

Anyone for tennis?

■ Atlantis, The Palm

I

Dubai kids don’t need to buy For a family holiday with a difference this year, take advantage of the Kids Go Free campaign in Dubai. From now until September 20, Emirates is offering a free return flight to Dubai for one child under 16 travelling with both parents, and 75 top hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton, Grosvenor House and One&Only Royal Mirage, are offering three nights’ free stays for one child

with two paying parents. Many restaurants also have free kids’ meals. Dubai attractions are also offering free entry to children under 16, among them Sega Republic, Dubai Aquarium and Under Water Zoo and Dubai Ice Rink; while Atlantis, The Palm is offering free entry to its attractions and children can eat free at any Atlantis restaurant when dining with an adult.

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nspired by this year’s Wimbledon championships? Retallack Resort and Spa, Cornwall’s five-star selfcatering resort, is offering budding tennis stars the opportunity to hone their game on holiday. A new tennis coaching programme provided by experienced Lawn Tennis Associationlicensed coaches costs from £4.50 per person for a group lesson or £37 per person per hour for private lessons. Prices start from £600 a week for a two-bedroom lodge. Visit www.retallackresort.com ■ Flying Boat Club cottages ■ Tresco bedroom for more details. Tennis is also on beach-front houses on offer at the stylish new the site of the old Royal Flying Boat Club on Naval Air Station. the island of Tresco, in Guests have use of the the Scilly Isles. Prestige indoor swimming pool, Holidays is offering a gym, steam room and three-night package there free tennis on the Astroturf this autumn from £315 per courts as well as free golf on person, including return helicopter the nine-hole St Mary’s course. flights from Penzance to Tresco and For more information contact heliport transfers. Prestige Holidays on 01425 480600 or You can rent one of the 12 luxurious visit www.prestigegrouptravel.co.uk

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City of

■ Mozart Dinner Concert in St Peter’s Cellar

From Mozart to the von Trapps, there’s no escaping Salzburg’s musical heritage. With its beautifully-preserved centre and lots to see beyond it, you don’t have to be music mad to enjoy a visit – but it helps. Peter Ellegard sings its praises ing different genres during the year. Hence its soubriquet, the Festival City. And even if you’re not a particular fan, there are plenty of other things to do and see which make the city a great escape for a long weekend. There’s far more to Salzburg than Mozart, of course, but the two are inextricably intertwined, as visitors soon discover. The imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress, which stands guard on a clifftop high above the ancient rooftops and church spires, may be the city’s most visited attraction, but the next most popular sites are the two museums set in Mozart’s homes. And even in the fortress you can’t escape the maestro.

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whole city itself. For Salzburg is not only where much of The Sound of Music was set and filmed, but it is also where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born, in 1756. The whole city went Mozart mad three years ago to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of its favourite son, with a yearlong series of concerts, operas, exhibitions and other events. But even though the celebrations are long gone, the city is still one of the best places to go if you love music. Salzburg has more than 4,000 music and theatre events cover-

18 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

Quaint alleys

■ Old Town, Salzburg

Peter Ellegard

Mozart’s Birthplace, where he lived for 26 years, is in the heart of the old city on its historic, narrow main street, Getreidegasse

Peter Ellegard

■ Hallstatt village

– a traffic-free pedestrian precinct apart from early-morning deliveries. Tour groups swarm in front of the building like bees round a honeypot, and the rest of the street also throngs with visitors day and night with its ancient buildings, quaint alleys and hidden courtyards full of cafes and restaurants. The cramped building houses numerous exhibits including his original instruments, letters and family portraits. Mozart’s Residence, the family home from 1773, is a more spacious affair in Markplatz and was where he wrote a number of his works. It has also been preserved as a museum to him. For those with a real appetite for the great man’s music, you can choose from several themed dinner concerts during the summer tourist season. The Mozart Dinner Concert offers a three-course dinner prepared from

Peter Ellegard

isit the pretty Austrian alpine city of Salzburg and you will find it isn’t just the surrounding hills that are alive with the sound of music, it is the

■ Salzburg Cathedral

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ESCAPE to… SALZBURG

city. Many of its magnificent architectural landmarks were used, and you can take a Sound of Music Tour to visit outlying villages, lakes and mountains where other familiar scenes were shot. Whether you are a fan of the musical or not – and I must admit I am not – it is well worth a visit to nearby Hellbrunn Palace, one of the settings used in the movie. Its ornate palace and beautiful gardens are a delight for all ages, notably for the ubiquitous fountains which spring many surprises for the unwary. I won’t spoil the surprise, other than to advise not wearing your Sunday best and to visit on a warm day when clothes will quickly dry. We made the mistake of visiting on a rainy day…

recipes of the 17th and 18th centuries, served in the Stiftskeller St Peter (St Peter’s Cellar) – the oldest restaurant in Central Europe, first mentioned during Charlemagne’s visit in 803 – during the intervals of a recital by musicians in period costume.

High on Mozart

Salzburg Tourist Office

My wife and I opted for an alternative dinner and concert in the 930-year-old Hohensalzburg Fortress, dining on high with stunning views across fields and hamlets to the nearby mountains, followed by a Mozart performance in the elegant State Rooms overlooking the city. A magical experience, made even more special by the glorious setting sun lighting up the rooftops, cupolas and towers with streaks of gold. Salzburg’s more recent

■ Mirabell Palace

July/August 2009

claim to fame revolves around The Sound of Music. A whole new generation of fans has been created by the latest stage production of the musical, currently touring Britain, and the successful BBC series, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, which made Connie Fisher an overnight success, reprising the role originally made famous by Julie Andrews. Based on pre-war events which happened to the local von Trapp family, the movie was filmed in and around the

Salzburg can be visited any time of year and the experience will be just as enjoyable. Key attractions are open year-round and there are events in all seasons. In winter, the rooftops twinkle with fresh snow – a taster of what lies in store at the many ski resorts less than two hours away – and the 500-year-old Christmas Market (Salzburger Christkindlmarkt) livens up the Cathedral Square (Domplatz) in the heart of the Old Town from late November with craft stalls, choirs, gluhwein and roast chestnuts and almonds. The annual 10-day Mozart Week music festival (www.mozarteum.at) takes place each January, featuring many international artists. Spring brings crisp days, flowers galore and

■ Salzburg and the Salzach River

The Travel & Leisure Magazine

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Salzburg Tourist Office

Year-round appeal

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Sound of Music country Fans of The Sound of Music can tour some of the locations in the countryside beyond Salzburg used in the film, which was based on the real-life story of the singing von Trapp family. You can even sing along to the music as the original soundtrack is played during the four-hour tour, which visits the beautiful Salzkammergut lake district. Highlights include: Leopoldskron Palace, the front exterior of which was used as the von Trapp family home; Hellbrunn Palace, notable for its trick fountains; Fuschlsee lake, featured in the film’s opening sequence; the pretty village of Gilgen on the shores of Wolfgangsee lake; and Mondsee Cathedral, where the wedding scene was filmed. Longer tours also visit the World Cultural Heritage Site village of Hallstatt, by the shores of Hallstattsee

Salzburg Tourist Office

lake, as well as the villages of Gosau,Abtenau and Golling, and the 9,855-foot summit of Mount Dachstein, Styria’s highest mountain. Salzburg was founded on the fortunes of salt, first mined in the nearby mountains by the ancient Celts.The 450-year-old Salzwelten Salzburg salt mines at Bad Durrnberg are open year-round and a guided tour features a raft ride on a subterranean salt lake.

trees bursting with blossom in and around the city. And more music, of course. The Salzburg Easter Festival (www.osterfestspielesalzburg.at) is an annual celebration of classical music and opera. Summers are usually long and warm, with the odd rainy day. Plus the avantgarde dance festival, SommerSzene (www.sommerszene.net), over 14 days in June and July, which also features theatre, films and visual arts as well as music. That is followed by the Salzburg Festival (www.salzburgerfestspiele.at), the city’s long-established music and drama festival in July and August which includes a concert broadcast on an open-air screen in the city’s Kapitelplatz. Autumn hints at the winter to come with its cooler days (although October is the driest month) and chilly nights, the

20 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

A day trip into Germany’s Bavarian Alps can include a boat trip on Konigsee lake to St Bartholoma chapel and a visit to pretty mountain town Berchtesgaden with views to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest mountain-top fortress retreat. A village north of Salzburg has another musical claim to fame.The boatmen’s church of St Nicholas in the village of Oberndorf was where Christmas carol Silent Night was first sung in 1818.The town was later moved upstream after a devastating flood, but a Silent Night Memorial Chapel was built on the site of the original church in 1937.A four-hour tour takes in the chapel and Silent Night Museum in nearby Arnsdorf. Zell am See is another popular excursion.A fivehour trip visits the lakeside town and 11th century Hohenwerfen Castle, with a cable car ride up to the Schmittenhoehe mountain summit.

vivid reds and yellows of trees adding splashes of colour to the city’s majestic architecture. The Salzburger Kulturtage (www.kulturvereinigung.org), a more intimate version of the main Salzburg Festival featuring a series of concerts, opera and theatre, takes place in October.

Easy to explore Salzburg is easy to explore, both on foot or by bus – and the good-value SalzburgerLand Card gives free entry to all the city’s major attractions as well as free travel on the city’s buses and the Hohensalzburg Fortress cable railway. The Salzach River cuts the city into two halves and is spanned by bridges including the pedestrian-only Mozart, Makart and Mulln footbridges. The left bank comprises the older part of the city where a Roman set-

Peter Ellegard

SalzburgTLjul0v1pp18-21:T&L

tlement once stood. Allow plenty of time to explore the wonderful Old Town area in the heart of Salzburg, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Most of it is a trafficfree pedestrian precinct. I have spent hours wandering through the labyrinth of streets, alleyways and squares as well as venturing into some of the many stately buildings which grace the skyline. Besides the Getreidegasse, other lovely old streets to amble along, window shop or gaze up at facades include Judengasse, Goldgasse, Kaigasse, Linzergasse and Steingasse. Their buildings cover the Middle Ages, Romanesque, Baroque and Renaissance periods, as well as elegant and classical monarchy-era burghers’ houses. You can also take in the Old Town sights on a traditional fiaker horse and buggy.

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Salzburg facts

Peter Ellegard

When to go Any time of year is good to visit Salzburg, with festivals and events throughout the calendar. Be prepared for all weathers and pack a brolly, sweater and warm jacket. Getting there British Airways (www.ba.com) and EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) fly direct to Salzburg from Gatwick during the summer. Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flies from Stansted. Winter charter flights operate for skiers ■ Ornate rooftops heading to nearby resorts.You can also fly to nearby Munich, with services operated by BA, EasyJet, Lufthansa (www.lufthansa.com) and Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com) from London area airports.

Tour operators Many operators offer short breaks to ■ Residence Square Salzburg, including Kirker Holidays (www.kirkerholidays.com), Inghams (www.inghams.co.uk), Crystal (www.crystallakes.co.uk), First Choice (www.firstchoice.co.uk) and Fregata Travel (www.fregatatravel.co.uk).

Peter Ellegard

Accommodation There are a number of hotels in the old part of Salzburg and across the Salzach River.The Blaue Gans boutique art-hotel (www.blauegans.at) makes an excellent base.The oldest inn on the historic Getreidegasse street, this stylish 74-room design hotel is set in one of the city’s oldest houses.

■ Salzburg has many fine, old buildings

Squares include Residence Square (Residenzplatz) with its ornate equine fountain, Old Market Square (Alter Markt), University Square (Universitatsplatz) and Mozart Square (Mozartplatz), which has a memorial to the musical maestro and a tourist information office. Then of course there are its grand edifices. Besides the Cathedral (Salzburger Dom) and Hohensalzburg Fortress, must-sees include the Residence Palace (Residenz), St. Peter’s Abbey (Stift St Peter) and its fascinating cemetery, and Mirabell Palace (Schloss Mirabell) with its romantic gardens on the right bank of the Salzach. This is one of the city’s most popular places for taking pictures. But perhaps best of all is to relax with a coffee or beer in a street-side café/bar or beer garden and just let the world go by as you gaze out across one of the world’s most beautiful cities. TL July/August 2009

Peter Ellegard

Grand edifices

■ Hellbrunn Palace

Getting around/attractions Salzburg is walkable, but it is worth investing in a SalzburgerLand Card. It combines free entry to 190 sights and attractions in the city and neighbouring SalzburgerLand region, with free use of city buses and discounts off car rental, tours and cultural events. A six-day card costs 43 euros for adults and 21.50 euros for children, with 12-day cards costing 52 and 26 euros respectively. Buy it online at www.salzburgerlandcard.com, or from local information centres and some hotels.

Tourist information Salzburg Tourist Office (Salzburg city): www.salzburg.info SalzburgerLand Tourist Office (Salzburg region): www.salzburgerland.com Austrian National Tourist Office: 0845 101 1818, www.austria.info

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all ABOARD CRUISING FROM THE UK

Home waters Forget the hassles of flying off for the start of your cruise holiday and join the growing numbers of passengers setting sail from Britain. The choice of departure ports and cruise itineraries is surprisingly large, as Sara Macefield explains

■ Queen Victoria at Southampton

ow do you fancy starting your next holiday from Southampton, Dover, Harwich or even Tower Bridge? Not only will you miss out on the stress and hassles of flying and battling through airport security queues, but you’ll be joining the growing band of British holidaymakers who have discovered the benefits of taking a cruise from the UK. After all, what could be easier than loading up the car, driving to, say, Southampton and simply stepping aboard? It really is as simple as that. All you need to do is drive up to the port terminal, hand over the car keys to a parking attendant and check in. Don’t worry about struggling on with suitcases as they get sent to the cabin separately, leaving passengers free to go aboard, settle in and explore. The holiday starts immediately, and there’s

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no escaping the buzz and anticipation as the departure time nears and the ship’s band strikes up for the traditional “sailaway” party on deck. The excitement grows as the funnel blasts and the ship starts to move away from the quayside. Passengers waving flags and drinking brightly-coloured cocktails add to the party atmosphere as they celebrate the start of a journey which, in some cases, will take them from UK shores around the world.

Where can you go? There’s never been a bigger choice of cruises from the UK. Holidaymakers who don’t want to fly can now choose from a huge variety of different cruise lines and sailings that start at various points around the country. These can range from a two-night minicruise to Bruges or Amsterdam right up to a three-month world cruise or a transatlantic crossing to New York. But the most popular sailings are to the

Cruise tips ● You can take as much luggage as you want on ex-UK sailings because there’s no baggage limit, but remember that it’s got to fit in your cabin. ● Beware the Bay of Biscay. Cruises from the UK to the Mediterranean have to pass through this, so if you’re at all prone to sea-sickness, take precautions. ● On Med cruises, pick a ship which has plenty of onboard facilities so you won’t get bored on the sea days spent sailing to and from the UK. ● If you’re sailing south to the sun, remember to take some warm clothes as it can still be chilly in the English Channel.

Cunard

July/August 2009

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Ex-UK cruise facts Sample ex-UK cruises: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (01473 746175, www.fredolsencruises.com) is offering a one-week Norwegian Vistas sailing from Newcastle on September 12 from £647 on its ship Boudicca. It calls at several ports in Norway including Alesund, Olden, Flam and Bergen. Specialist website Sail From UK (0808 202 6104, www.sailfromuk.com) which only sells cruises that sail from UK shores, features a 12-night sailing to Europe with P&O Cruises on October 5.The voyage, on Oceana, departs Southampton and sails to the Canary Islands with calls including Madeira, Gran Canaria, Lisbon and Vigo. Prices start at £1,099 and include a £50 onboard credit. Other useful cruise contacts: Celebrity Cruises (0845 456 1520, www.celebritycruises.co.uk) Cunard Line (0845 678 0013, www.cunard.co.uk) Crystal Cruises (020 7287 9040, www.crystalcruises.co.uk) Holland America Line (0845 351 0557, www.hollandamerica.co.uk) Hebridean Island Cruises (01756 704700, www.hebridean.co.uk) Hurtigruten (0845 225 6640, www.hurtigruten.co.uk) MSC Cruises (0844 561 7412, www.msccruises.co.uk) Norwegian Cruise Line (0845 658 8010, www.ncl.co.uk) Oceania Cruises (01344 772344, www.oceaniacruises.co.uk) P&O Cruises (0845 678 0014, www.pocruises.com) Princess Cruises (0845 3555 800, www.princess.com) Royal Caribbean International (0844 493 4005, www.royalcaribbean.co.uk) Swan Hellenic (0845 246 9700, www.swanhellenic.com) Silversea Cruises (0844 770 9030, www.silversea.com) St Helena Line (020 7575 6480, www.rms-st-helena.com) Thomson Cruises (0871 231 4691, www.thomson.co.uk/cruise) Transocean Tours (0845 430 0274, www.transoceancruises.co.uk) Voyages of Discovery (0845 018 1808, www.voyagesofdiscovery.co.uk) Make sure you check out the website of the Passenger Shipping Association, which represents all the main cruise lines, at www.discover-cruises.co.uk

Fred Olsen

Mediterranean or around northern Europe. Voyages that go south to the Mediterranean generally last for at least 12 days – they have to as they need to include the two days it takes to sail between Britain and the Med at both ends of the cruise. Most cruises tend to be for 14 nights and concentrate on the western Mediterranean as time simply doesn’t allow for the ships to sail any farther east. Thus ships will generally get as far as Italy, calling at ports

24 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

such as Civitavecchia (for Rome) or Naples before having to turn back. Cruises of 16 nights have time to go a little farther east, and will sail as far as Greece. Other popular ports of call that pop up on itineraries include Malaga, Alicante, Cannes, Marseilles and Barcelona. Some ships stay in northern Europe and sail northwards to the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, sometimes continuing on to St Petersburg. Alternative destinations include Iceland, Norway and its spectacular fjords and Spitsbergen in the Arctic Circle, famous for spotting polar bears. These more northerly ports are particularly popular around midsummer when the long daylight hours lend themselves to Land of the Midnight Sun cruises. Some ships stay closer to home, offering sailings around northern Europe that stop along the northern coast at Spanish ports

■ Deck quoits is a fun way to pass the time

Fred Olsen

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■ Artemis in the fjords

■ Hebridean Princess in London

such as La Coruna or Bilbao, or French towns including St Malo, the pretty town of Honfleur and the port town of Le Havre. In Germany, stops include Hamburg or Bremerhaven, while the Dutch ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam are popular ports. Scandinavian cities such as Copenhagen or Bergen also feature in cruise itineraries, as do the Shetland Isles, and the Channel Islands in the south. In the west, Irish ports such as Cork and Dublin add plenty of craic. Then there’s good old Blighty itself, where ships may call at Tilbury, Greenwich or (if the ship is small enough to get right up the Thames) Tower Bridge for London. Liverpool and Newcastle also feature on cruise ship itineraries. Cruise passengers wanting to go farther afield can take their pick from the regular six-day transatlantic crossings by Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 or, if they want to escape for longer, round-the-world voyages offered by P&O Cruises and Cunard.

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Hebridean Island Cruises

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UK cruise departure ports and cruise lines (2009)

Fred Olsen

Peter Ellegard

■ Norwegian Gem at Dover

■ Boudicca at Valletta, Malta

As several ships are based in the UK for the summer, there’s always the chance to jump aboard when they reposition themselves to the Caribbean or elsewhere across the Atlantic for the winter – as long as you don’t mind having to fly back. Cruisers looking for a different experience altogether can cruise on the RMS St Helena, the last working Royal Mail Ship that offers trips from Portland in Dorset to the Atlantic island of St Helena, Namibia and South Africa. Some cruise lines offer British-focused itineraries. The small, upmarket company, Hebridean Island Cruises, operates a South Coast cruise with calls including Cowes on the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Dover, while Cunard’s QM2 is sailing a special Round Britain voyage this autumn, calling at ports such as Greenock and Liverpool. During winter, the number of cruises sailing from the UK drops rapidly, leaving Cunard and P&O Cruises offering round-the-world

July/August 2009

sailings or long voyages; and Fred Olsen, which offers Christmas markets sailings and northern Europe and Canary Island sailings.

Southampton – Cunard Line, Celebrity Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International,Thomson Cruises Dover – Crystal Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Swan Hellenic. Harwich – Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Thomson Cruises,Voyages of Discovery London (Tower Bridge) – Silversea Cruises, Hurtigruten London (Tilbury) – Transocean Tours London (Greenwich) – Holland America Line Portland – St Helena Line, Hebridean Island Cruises Portsmouth – Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Port of Tyne (Newcastle) – Fred Olsen Cruise Lines,Thomson Cruises Liverpool – Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Greenock – Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Rosyth – Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Oban – Hebridean Island Cruises Scrabster – Hebridean Island Cruises

ports to appear this year is Portsmouth, which is being offered by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

Who are the main cruise lines? Where can you cruise from? Southampton is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to cruising from the UK. The South Coast port is easily the most established and the biggest and this is where most cruise ships are based during the year; some are here year-round. This is where most Mediterranean cruises depart from, along with transatlantic voyages. Dover is the second-most popular, having grown rapidly over the last few years, and it’s from here that lines tend to depart for northern Europe, Baltic and Arctic sailings. Harwich is probably the third-busiest, with a mix of cruises offered from here. Some ports are served by just one cruise line which may only depart on a handful of occasions during the year. One of the new

Riding the waves of the ex-UK cruise market is P&O Cruises, which has six ships that are all based at Southampton, while Cunard Lines has two ships – the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria – based there. Several American cruise lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises, also have ships in Southampton during the summer. The biggest ship in the world, Independence of the Seas, owned by American line Royal Caribbean International, is based at Southampton. Other major players offering several voyages from UK ports include Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Thomson Cruises, MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Voyages of Discovery and Hebridean Island Cruises. TL The Travel & Leisure Magazine

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CRUISE news 20/7/09

NCL

Have you ever fancied going behind the scenes to see how cruise ships function? Princess Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines are now offering special ship tours that

Research in Motion

promise to take passengers to areas normally off-limits, such as back-stage in the theatre, the galley (kitchen), engine control room, the bridge, medical centre and even the funnel. Prices start at $55 for a two-hour tour with NCL and $150 for a three-hour tour with Princess. Crystal Cruises has come up with the perfect solution for people who are bamboozled by the latest hitech gadgets. It is introducing “technology concierges” on its ships to train and educate guests on everything from Apple iPods and BlackBerry smart phones to wireless devices and navigational aides.

Bargain-hunters looking for a last-minute deal should go to MSC Cruises’ website at www.msccruises.co.uk where it has launched a Deal of the Day offering special offers on specific voyages.

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UK cruises make a

splash

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ruises from the UK have never been so popular. The latest market figures show that more British cruisers than ever before are taking voyages which sail from local ports. According to industry body, the Passenger Shipping Association, the number of passengers opting for a cruise that starts from the UK increased by 23% last year compared with 2007. This means that four out of every 10 cruises now booked by Brits sails from a UK port. A record number of cruise lines, ships and passengers also visited UK ports last year, calling at points such as Dover, Tower Bridge and Newcastle as part of longer sailings around northern Europe. The popularity of cruising holidays generally seems unstoppable with nearly 1.5 million travellers opting to spend their holidays on a cruise ship last year. Overall, one in every 12 foreign package holidays booked in the UK is now a cruise – 10 years ago this figure was just one in every 26. The Mediterranean remains the favourite cruise destination, but voyages to northern Europe and the western edge of Europe have become more popular and risen to second place, overtaking the Caribbean. The good news is that the credit crunch and fierce competition between cruise lines means

Peter Ellegard

CRUISE CLIPS

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■ CL’s Norwegian Gem at Dover

prices have also fallen. More than one-third of all cruises cost less than £1,000 in 2008 and this year there were expected to be more cheap deals. “The inclusive nature of cruises with meals, accommodation, entertainment and, of course, multiple destinations, means they are great value,” said PSA director Bill Gibbons.

Scottish launch for Cosmos

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oliday company Cosmos Tourama is dipping its toe into unfamiliar waters with the launch of its first-ever UK cruise to meet demand from customers wanting to stay closer to home this summer. It is offering four-night Autumn in the Scottish Highlands sailings this October on the MV Lord of the Glens, a vessel built in the style of a classic, luxury yacht. It will sail between Fort Augustus and Oban in the heart of Argyllshire, travelling past the dramatic loch landscapes of the Great Glen and the picturesque coast of the Isle of Mull. Cruise highlights include Loch

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Cosmos Tourama

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■ MV Lord of the Glens

Ness, Loch Linhe, Tobermory and Neptune’s Staircase, an eightstage ship lock. The cruise costs from £609 and includes full board and refreshments plus transfers to

and from Glasgow Central Station. For more information contact Cosmos Tourama on 0871 423 8695 or visit the website: www.cosmostourama.co.uk

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ZULU dawns

From its moving Zulu and Boer War battlefield sites, to superlative wildlife parks, stunning beaches and magnificent scenery, South Africa’s Zulu Kingdom is a world-class destination, which will soon be welcoming the world. Peter Ellegard reports t was one of the most moving moments I can ever recall. We were sat on chairs on a hillside plateau, overlooking a sweeping plain dominated by a craggy hill directly in front of us and with a long escarpment in the distance. Small, white stone cairns dotted the landscape all around us, the highest concentration around the base of the crag, where there were also several larger monuments. There was a chill in the December air despite it being summer in the Southern Hemisphere, but it was nothing compared to the chill I felt in my spine as the tragic events of that desolate

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place 130 years ago were vividly brought to life by our guide, using his baton for effect as he reconstructed that infamous day in breathtaking detail. A few hundred yards away another group was equally fixated as their guide regaled the same desperate tale. For we were on the battlefield of one of the worst defeats ever inflicted on the British Empire – Isandlwana. An entire garrison comprising over 1,000 of the British Army’s finest had been overwhelmed and wiped out by 20,000 Zulu warriors, and the white-painted stones marked where they had all fallen. Few other than historians would recognise the name of that bloody episode today, shock-

ing though it was at the time for the nation. Never before had a native army taken on and annihilated such a powerful, well-armed and trained fighting force. Yet, another battle fought later that day, January 22, 1879, less than 10 miles away has gone down in legend.

Victoria Cross That battle was Rorke’s Drift, celebrated for the fact that 139 British soldiers holed up in a tiny, fortified mission camp held off thousands of Zulu attackers for 12 hours until reinforcements arrived. Eleven Victoria Cross medals were awarded to the valiant defenders, more than for any other single battle in history. And it inspired the iconic 1964 blockbuster film, Zulu, which starred a young Michael Caine. Whereas Isandlwana, where three VCs were won, was depicted in the follow-up flop, Zulu Dawn. So captivating was the recounting, it almost felt as though we were witnessing the battle itself. But then much of it had been passed down by word of mouth from Zulus

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off the beaten TRACK

Roger de la Harpe

KWAZULU-NATAL

■ Zulu dancers

who had actually fought there. The near eyewitness accounts had been collected by historian David Rattray, who spent many hours sitting overlooking the battlefield as we did, talking to an elderly Zulu chief. Tragically, the man locals called the “white Zulu” was killed in a robbery at the Fugitives’ Drift lodge he ran with his wife Nicky and three sons, near Rorke’s Drift, in early 2007. We had lunch at the lodge later, and met Nicky. I was sorry I didn’t get to meet her husband, especially having listened to his spellbinding narration from a recorded radio series while en route to Isandlwana on the bus. On the way to the lodge we had spent an all-too-brief 20 minutes at Rorke’s Drift. Having listened to David’s graphic recorded portrayal of events there, the graveyard and museum were just as emotional an experience, even if the original buildings no longer survive. Perhaps the most poignant sight was the bronze Zulu memorial, consisting of a leopard resting on a stack of warrior shields.

July/August 2009

Zulu battlefields The Anglo-Zulu War battlefields were among the highlights I had been looking forward to seeing on my trip to South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, otherwise known as the Zulu Kingdom. They more than lived up to my expectations and I would highly recommend anyone thinking about visiting there to include them on a tour itinerary. Months later, I did just that when I was in a pub in the middle of nowhere in Scotland’s Trossachs region and overheard the people on the next table being told about the Battle of Isandlwana by an enthusiastic member of their party, an off-

■ Rorke’s Drift

Peter Ellegard

■ Isandlwana battlefield site

Roger de la Harpe

Peter Ellegard

■ Rorke's Drift memorial

duty soldier and keen amateur historian. There are many Zulu and Boer War battlefield sites you can visit, particularly around Ladysmith (famous for its siege in 1899) and Dundee, the nearest city to Rorke’s Drift. Provincial capital Durban is respectively 235km and 173km from them, about three hours or so by road. With Durban one of the host cities

Roger de la Harpe

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Roger de la Harpe

■ Superb beaches

Action and adventure

30 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

Toruism KwaZulu-Natal

Sharks

Peter Ellegard

The Zulu Kingdom is heaven for adrenalin junkies. It offers some of the best diving in the world, notably for encounters with sharks. Protea Banks and Aliwal Shoals, respectively 90 and 45 minutes south of Durban, are the prime shark-diving areas off KwaZulu-Natal. Divers can encounter species such as non-aggressive raggedtooths, known affectionately as Raggies, which go to Protea Banks in spring (August/September) to mate and congregate in schools of up to 60 at Aliwal from July to October, as well as Zambezis, great whites and hammerheads.You can even free dive with dangerous tiger sharks at Aliwal, where operators “chum” the water with bait to attract them. Sodwana Bay is Africa’s most southerly coral reef, and also marks the southernmost area where giant whale sharks are found, their range extending up to Mozambique. Another incredible spectacle is the annual Sardine Run between May and July, when huge shoals up to 15km long migrate up the KwaZuluNatal coast. The former Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, now iSimangaliso, has boat safaris to see hippos and many different bird species. On land, it is the Big Five animals and other

for the 2010 football World Cup, this southeastern part of South Africa is likely to see a lot of interest and increasing visitor numbers in the next year or so. Durban itself is undergoing a huge renaissance, with many new facilities being added (including a superb new stadium to stage the World Cup games) and major investment in its infrastructure. The beaches in the city and along the neighbouring coastline are some of the best in the world and they enjoy the warmest sea temperatures in South Africa, reaching up to 28ºC. Its hotels are second to none, too. Few places pamper you as much as the beachfront Suncoast Hotel & Towers. Sadly, my group’s timing could have been better. We played golf nearby the day we checked in – and our late arrival meant we just missed the poolside swimsuit parade at the hotel for the Miss World contestants, who were in Durban at the same time as us.

wildlife which provide the thrills. Besides Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, other game reserves where you can see them include Phinda, Thanda and the Tembe Elephant Park. And if you want sports action, there is golf of the highest calibre on courses including Princes Grant (www.princesgrant.co.za), Durban Country Club (www.dcclub.co.za), Selborne (www.selborne.com) and Champagne Sports Resort (www.champagnesportsresort.com).

That night, we dined alongside a giant aquarium full of menacing sharks in one of the most unique dining environments I have encountered, set in an imaginative “rusting” ship’s hulk at the uShaka Marine World park (www.ushakamarineworld.co.za). This coastline is famous for its sharks. The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (www.shark.co.za) has been protecting the beaches off Durban for swimmers and surfers for over 40 years with netting. It is the only organisation of its kind in the world, and you can visit its HQ in Umhlanga Rocks to learn about sharks with an audio-visual demonstration followed by a live dissection, after which you can view lifelike replicas of sharks, fish and rays, including that of a 892kg great white shark. KZN (as the province is often shortened to) is known for other wildlife too, and we got the chance to see some of its most noted inhabitants on water and game safaris. We took a boat tour of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the new name for UNESCO World Heritage Site the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, and got some fantastic close-up views of hippos wallowing in the shallows. A short drive took us to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, one KZN’s most celebrated game reserves and one of several where you can see the Big Five. Once the hunting grounds for Zulu kings, they introduced the first conservation laws there, in 1895. It was in the reserve that the white

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When to go The Zulu Kingdom enjoys a sub-tropical climate with yearround sunshine, and rain generally in November and March. Game viewing is best in winter (June and July). Sea temperatures averaging 22ºC make it a great family destination. Getting there Durban is a one-hour flight or easy six-hour drive from Johannesburg, which is served by direct flights from London by South African Airways (www.flysaa.com), British Airways (www.ba.com) and Virgin Atlantic Airways (www.virgin-atlantic.com). Flight time: 11 hours. Getting around KwaZulu-Natal is easy to get around, with excellent roads. Most attractions are within a three or four-hour drive of Durban and each other. Car rental companies include Avis (www.avis.co.uk). Accommodation You can find top-quality accommodation throughout the province. Among South African hotel groups with properties are Southern Sun (www.southernsun.com),Three Cities (www.threecities.co.za) and Protea Hotels (www.proteahotels.com).There are also lodges including Fugitives’ Drift (www.fugitives-drift-lodge.com) and resorts such as Champagne Sports Resort (www.champagnesportsresort.com) and Selborne Hotel, Spa & Golf Estate (www.selborne.com). Tour operators A number of tour operators feature KZN, including Virgin Holidays (www.virginholidays.co.uk), Somak Holidays (www.somak.com), Jetset Holidays (www.jetset-holidays.co.uk), Premier Holidays (www.premierholidays.co.uk),Tropical Sky (www.tropicalsky.co.uk), Kuoni (www.kuoni.co.uk) and Audley Travel (www.audleytravel.com). Local tour operator Thompsons Africa (www.thompsonsafrica.com) has an extensive programme of KZN tours. Tourist information Visit the Zulu Kingdom’s website on www.zulu.org.za

32 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

Peter Ellegard

KwaZulu-Natal facts

Peter Ellegard

■ Elephant encounter

Roger de la Harpe

■ Zulu woman

rhino was saved from extinction, in the 1960s. The weather was so cold as we clambered aboard our open-sided safari trucks that we needed blankets over our legs to keep warm. But we were rewarded with the immediate sight of an elephant as we entered the gates. And as we were driven around the reserve we were lucky enough to see another one almost within touching distance, but so busy eating juicy leaves we were scarcely noticed. We also spotted lots of antelope and zebra, some water buffalo, warthogs, giraffes and a pride of resting lions with playful cubs.

Rich culture Arriving for our overnight stay at our nearby hotel, the Protea Umfolozi, we were treated to an energetic display of traditional dancing by local Zulu boys. You can see dancing and other Zulu culture throughout the province, visiting a rural Zulu village or enjoying organised cultural experiences such as Shakaland or Duma Zulu. Besides its battlefields, wildlife and rich culture, KwaZulu-Natal is rich in natural beauty. Nowhere is that more evident than in the spectacular Drakensberg Mountains, where you can go hiking, mountain biking or horse-riding. We were there for another activity – golf. Staying at the Champagne Sports Resort, the mountains reared up dramatically just beyond the course and behind our chalets. With an elevated clubhouse deck giving sweeping vistas, few golf resorts can enjoy such glorious surroundings. All too soon, our week-long stay in KwaZulu-Natal was over. It was a truly mesmerising destination, yet one I feel I have barely scratched the surface of. One thing’s for sure – I will definitely be back. TL July/August 2009


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■ Cosmos Tourama’s Platinum Explorer in Europe

Holidays

on the buses

Coach tours have something of an unwarranted, old-fashioned image – but things are very different these days with vehicles bristling with the latest creature comforts. Dave Richardson tells it like it really is … e were told it would be a long day of travelling, with only a couple of stops and not to expect dinner until 9.30pm – over 12 hours away. I was already crossing my legs, although there was a toilet on board. It was day two of a nine-day Leger Holidays coach tour called Verona Opera Experience, which we had joined near our home town in Oxford. Two nights would be spent on the way (the first was near

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34 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

Brussels); four nights at Lake Garda, near Verona; and two nights taking a different route back. Day two was to be the killer, a slog along Germany’s autobahns and over the Austrian border to a village near Innsbruck. It was boring, but there were three stops and we arrived in good time for dinner at 8pm. That’s when I realised our two coach drivers were good at psychology – make it seem bad, and if it’s better then you’re happy. I was in my mid-40s but I felt young, with all the other passengers over 50 and many well over 60. But we gelled well as a

group, and plenty of names and addresses were exchanged on the return ferry trip across the Channel.

Old-fashioned image Many people would never think of joining a coach tour, but I enjoyed it even though I haven’t yet repeated the experience. Coach tours are stuck with an old-fashioned image, just like holiday “camps” – especially among people who have never been. A modern coach can cost up to £250,000 with all the latest comforts, and advanced safety and fuel-efficiency measures. Coach tour market leader Shearings has bought 45 new Setra coaches this year of the same type used for the England football team – no wonder it’s saying “Bus it like Beckham”! The hotels used are generally much improved too, and you may well stay at chain hotels such as Holiday Inn rather than

July/August 2009

Cosmos Tourama

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let’s TRY…

Leger Holidays

ESCORTED COACH TOURS

McGrotty’s – especially in cities. There are still plenty of seaside hotels in Britain where the floors creak as badly as their guests’ joints, but most have been smartened up and make a genuine effort to please amid the faded grandeur. The entertainment seems to belong to another age, but as the Baby Boomer generation hits 60 you are more likely to hear The Beatles in the ballroom rather than the Joe Loss Orchestra. The most popular destinations are the scenic countries of Europe – especially Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Some of the larger tour operators, including Cosmos Tourama, can also fly you out to join the coach abroad – cutting out some tiring travelling, but with airport hassle and luggage restrictions to be factored in. Eurostar is an increasingly-popular option, with highspeed rail travel as far as Paris or Brussels.

Shearings

■ A Grand UK tour manager and client

hotel for most of the holiday with the coach operating excursions. But there’s still a place for the grand tour, and with operators such as Cosmos, Insight Vacations and Trafalgar, that can be a very cosmopolitan experience with passengers from many parts of the world trying to “do Europe”. Leger is also seeing increased demand for “Grand Explorer” tours like Arctic Circle and The Land of

Grand UK

■ Shearings has invested in new coachess

Shearings

■ Coach holidays are relaxing

Shearings

■ The Burlington Hotel, Eastbourne

■ Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock

Faraway tours Some people who wouldn’t be seen dead on a coach tour are happy to take an escorted tour somewhere exotic – where most of the travel is likely to be by coach. The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are particularly popular, while South Africa, Japan and China are on the up. In larger countries you will probably fly over long distances before picking up a coach again, but you could also use trains and river boats. Cosmos Tourama is operating more holidays to special events, such as the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the Harbin Snow and Ice Festival in China. Costa Rica, India/Bhutan and Mexico have also been added. The credit crunch doesn’t seem to be affecting escorted tours, according to another large operator,Travelsphere. It describes its customers as “debt-free, thrill-hungry culture vultures”, and operates over 700 holidays in 80 countries.

Easy-going trend There’s also a trend towards more easy-going itineraries, which Cosmos calls Leisurely. Rather than packing and unpacking every day, you will be based at one

■ Fall guys: a Cosmos Tourama Platinum Explorer coach in New England Cosmos Tourama

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■ Leger Holidays’ Silver Service

Some of the biggest coach operators offer premium coaches on some departures, for a reasonable supplement. They are generally used on longer European or North American tours, but could turn up closer to home. Shearings has the Grand Tourer (previously operated by its rival Wallace Arnold, which it took over) and Euro Tourer. Cosmos Tourama operates the Platinum Tourer and Leger the Silver Service coach. The basic premise is the same – remove one or more rows of seats and everyone has more leg-room. A standard coach usually seats between 48 and 56 passengers, whereas Shearings seats 42 in a Euro Tourer and only 36 in the Grand Tourer. Premium coaches usually have a lounge area at the back where people can meet, onboard drinks and snacks, and entertainment including DVD player and sat nav display.

Cosmos Tourama

Luxury coaches ■ A Cosmos Platinum Explorer coach in Europe

the Midnight Sun – once in a lifetime experiences that people want to take despite the credit crunch. Many tours nowadays are themed, especially short breaks which are a good way of seeing if a coach tour is for you. Gardens, steam railways, castles, photography, painting and spas are examples, plus visiting places made popular by TV series such as Heartbeat or Last of the Summer Wine. Leger is a leading operator of tours to the World War 1 and 2 European battlefields, with an expert guide to visit places such as Flanders, the Somme and Normandy (for the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings this year). Interest in battlefield tours is still increasing, but Leger

has launched a website to encourage younger people to explore family history (www.keepthememoriesalive.co.uk).

Going for a song Shorter and more-themed tours tend to attract a slightly younger age group, but within the UK most coach customers are still 60-plus. It’s no coincidence that Shearings customers have voted Cliff Richard’s hit, Summer Holiday (1963), as their favourite holiday song, and Shearings is making this and other holiday hits available as a download on online music store iTunes. Shearings expects a lot of people to switch to a UK holiday this year, and has 49 of its own hotels which you can travel to independently rather

Leger Holidays

■ St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

Grand UK

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Tips

Dave Richardson started taking day trips by coach at the age of 12 and was soon taking overnight trips to various parts of the country. He went on to try his first coach tour to Europe and is planning an escorted tour of the US in 2010.

38 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

Coach tour facts Most coach tour operators are small and local, with only a handful of national names.The Coach Tourism Council (0870 850 2839, www.coachtourismcouncil.co.uk) is a good way of finding them as it has nearly 150 operator members, both large and small. Wallace Arnold Worldchoice (0845 365 6747) is an agency specialising in coach holidays and operates a bookable website at www.coachholidays.com

Cosmos Tourama

than taking a coach tour. Grand UK Holidays has nine of its own hotels, in popular resorts such as Torquay, Skegness, Blackpool and Llandudno. Grand UK operates exclusively for the over-55s and has a high volume of single travellers, with no single-room supplements payable on most holidays and a dedicated Solos programme so like-minded people can travel together. It offers a complete luggage handling service, taking this element of worry out of a holiday, and also offers tours of Europe including river cruise combinations. Grand UK offers Ruby and Golden wedding anniversary holidays for couples to renew their vows, and more than 500 couples have taken them so far. As I journeyed back from Italy I wondered what kind of holidays I might fancy in 30 or 40 years’ time, and I was reminded of a distant relative who remarried at the age of 90 after meeting his new “gal” on a coach. The psychology was still going strong as we left the party, waved off by our cheery drivers who still had another 300 miles to go. “If you had a good week, we’re Roy and Ian,” they said. “If you didn’t, we’re Bill and Ben.” I did, thanks partly to Roy and Ian. I’ll be TL back on the road some day.

Grand UK

● You don’t need to join in everything, but if you’re not a sociable person, a coach tour probably isn’t for you. ● You will generally eat as well as travel as a group, but some more pricey tours give you an a la carte allowance. ● Some tours keep down headline prices by limiting the number of excursions included, so consider what you might want to do as it might be more expensive to buy on the spot. ● If you don’t fancy a long road trip, join a tour that starts with a flight or rail journey. ● Some operators make big efforts to attract single travellers. Romance might even bloom…

Major operators include: Shearings (01942 824824, www.shearings.com) Leger (0844 504 6342, www.best-of-europe-withleger.co.uk) Cosmos Tourama (0871 423 8647, www.cosmostourama.co.uk) Grand UK (01603 619933, www.grandukholidays.com) Travelsphere (0800 567 7372, www.travelsphere.co.uk)

Sample prices: Leger’s D-Day Landings in Normandy tour costs from £199 bed and breakfast for four days. A five-day tour from £299 is by luxury Silver Service coach, available on selected dates. Best of Western Canada is a 14-day holiday by Cosmos Tourama, costing from £2,015 including return flights.Visiting Vancouver and the Rockies, it includes many excursions plus rail and cruise trips, but not meals. Grand UK’s North Wales Coast holiday is based at its own Grand Ash Hotel in Llandudno, costing £269 for five days with half-board, including two full-day excursions.

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pack your CLUBS MURCIA, SPAIN

Peter Ellegard

Golf with star

appeal

■ La Manga Club hotel

Spanish region Murcia is synonymous with Brits favourite La Manga but, thanks to an explosion of golf facilities, it is now Spain’s fastest-growing golf destination. Peter Ellegard recently returned to where it all began… ith my golf bag slung over one shoulder and my other arm clutching golf shoes, the lift buttons were tricky to reach. Thankfully, another hotel guest who got in behind me spared my contortions, asking which floor I wanted and pressing the button. Recognising the voice, I looked round and suddenly realised who my lift partner was – just managing to avoid blurting out something stupid, like “aren’t you Glenn Hoddle?” It was just after Hoddle’s tenure as England football manager some 10 years ago and we were at La Manga Club, in Spain’s Murcia region. But star-spotting is nothing new there. For more than 35 years, the sprawling leisure complex has not only been a byword for holidaying Brits, but has also been a magnet for celebrities. Many have bought luxury villas alongside its golf courses. A frequent La Manga visitor, I have previously spotted actress Patsy Palmer – Bianca from Eastenders – sunning herself poolside and seen former F1 world champion Nigel Mansell, a villa owner, setting off in a golf buggy for a leisurely round. Other regulars include David Coulthard, Kenny Dalglish, Sir Cliff Richard and Alan Hansen.

July/August 2009

Peter Ellegard

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■ Driving off on La Manga’s North Course

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The home-from-home feel is hardly surprising; it was owned and run by British institution P&O for a quarter of a century until late 2004. To many, La Manga was and is Murcia, and vice versa. But La Manga no longer has a monopoly. Murcia’s golf facilities have expanded rapidly in recent years. Now Spain’s fastest-growing golf destination, it has 17 courses with more under construction or planned. Newcomers have dramatically enhanced Murcia’s golf resort scene. They include the 27hole Mosa Trajectum resort and resort operator Polaris World, which has linked with golf legend Jack Nicklaus to create the Nicklaus Golf Trail – a circuit currently comprising four courses and which will eventually boast nine. Other Murcia courses have designs by the likes of Dave Thomas and Spain’s own Seve Ballesteros. All of which is bringing more golfing visitors to this south-eastern corner of Spain, tucked between the provinces of Alicante and Almeria. Most courses are along the coastal strip, known as the Costa Calida. Visitors arrive via Alicante or Murcia’s tiny San Javier airport, just 20 minutes from La Manga. The sleepy little airport I recall from early visits now bursts at the seams at peak times. A brand new airport opens next year at Corovera, 20 minutes from the provincial capital, the city of Murcia, to cope with the influx.

Polaris World

Home from home

■ Nicklaus Golf Trail course El Valle

emies, several villa complexes all with their own pools, over 20 bars and restaurants, shops, banks, a pharmacy and even its own petrol station. A private beach in a rocky cove overlooked by a restaurant is accessed by a road blasted through the towering sea cliffs. Top football clubs use its extensive training facilities and many sports stars take part in charity golf tournaments. La Manga’s three courses are both a joy and a challenge. Easy resort golf it isn’t. Originally designed in 1971 and remodelled in 1992 by Arnold Palmer, the championship South Course features wide, palmfringed fairways and water hazards on 15 of the 18 holes, including some new ones added in a multi-million renovation that I discovered, quite literally, on my recent visit. The more aesthetically-pleasing but shorter North Course is partly laid out on higher elevations, with challenges provided by palm trees, lakes and barrancas – natural storm gul-

lies also found on its siblings – and large greens with wicked slopes. The West Course is the prettiest, snaking through a more rural setting of hills and pine trees, to finish with a towering 18th tee giving grandstand views of La Manga and the Med. With numerous blind shots, it demands targetgolf precision.

Nicklaus Golf Trail

Created by Polaris World with golf legend Jack Nicklaus, the Nicklaus Golf Trail is a unique circuit of courses bearing the stamp of the Golden Bear. Of the four courses already open, three are 18-hole layouts. Two more courses are under construction and work will soon start on the other three. The trail courses open so far are: La Torre Best Golf: a short 18-hole, par 68 Return to La Manga course with wide fairways, suitable for interA recent return to La Manga gave me the mediate or high handicappers. chance to see it for the first time since it came El Valle Best Golf: a desert-style, 18-hole, under Spanish ownership, and since the hacienpar 71 course featuring lakes, waterfalls and da-style former Hyatt Regency hotel became clusters of bunkers set amid rocks and abunthe independently-operated La Manga Club dant native vegetation. Principe Felipe earlier this year. Hacienda Riquelme Best Golf: this larger I was heartened to see the resort was than average 18-hole, par 72 course enjoys little changed from my last visit, a Murcia’s coastal stretch, the Costa Calida, offers a Mediterranean setting surrounded by decade ago; if anything, it was better. olive trees with several large lakes. unspoilt white sandy beaches, picturesque towns, fishing The hotels rooms were betterMar Menor Best Golf: a nine-hole ports where you can dine on tasty local catches, natural appointed than I remembered, and beauty spots, and two seas offering water sports galore – the course currently being extended to 18 holes, its wide fairways and new facilities had been added. Mediterranean and the enclosed Mar Menor, protected by a long large bunkers are ideal for beginAmong them an impressive spa finger of land edged by beaches.This is La Manga strip, a favourite overlooking the vast resort, from holiday spot for the Spanish with hotels, apartments, shops, bars and ners and learners. Trail courses still to open where you can truly appreciate La restaurants. Manga Club’s scale. The city of Murcia, the regional capital, claims to have more festivals include: the 18-hole, par 72 Las Terrazas de La Torre, a desert-style Three times the size of Monaco, than any other Spanish city. September’s Moors and Christians course with dunes encasing greens; it encompasses three 18-hole golf parade sees an effigy of the Virgin Mary carried to a mountain courses, a golf academy, an 18-hole the Condado de Alhama, a signature shrine and bull fights in the city arena.While Roman Par 47 pitch and putt course, 28 tennis course designed by Jack Nicklaus himstronghold Cartegena – where Hannibal grew up – courts, football centre with eight pitches, self with sharp elevations; and the Bear’s holds a 10-day Carthaginians and Romans Festival two cricket pitches, rugby and Gaelic football Best I and II 18-hole duo, with differing each September, with camps, battle refacilities, a Junior Club and junior sports acadstyles reminiscent of Florida and the Arizona enactments and chariot races.

Off course

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■ La Manga’s South Course

Peter Ellegard

Murcia GOLF facts Tourist information For information about Murcia and its golf courses, visit the Murcia Tourist Board website, www.murciaturistica.es/PORTAL/

Three nine-hole layouts (Stone, Olive and Pine) giving three 18-hole combinations are on offer at Mosa Trajectum Golf – Murcia. Each nine is different in character. The resort also has a nine-hole, par 3 Challenge Course. Mosa Trajectum claims to be Spain’s first completely-ecological golf course, with a drainage system which collects all rain and waste water and diverts it to the resort’s own purification plant. Of Murcia’s other courses, Dave Thomas designed Roda Golf Course, part of the De Vere Hotels-managed Roda Golf and Beach Resort where a hotel opens in 2010, the semiprivate Altorreal set on hills above Murcia city, and Hacienda del Alamo. Surrounded by citrus, olive and almond groves, a second course is planned there. Wildlife is a key feature of Seve Ballesterosdesigned Peraleja, which opened in 2007. More than 60% of the resort’s 780-acre area is protected, with resident bird species including Bonelli eagles, red kites and eagle owls. A fivestar hotel and spa opens soon. Future openings feature several big-name golf designers. Among them are: two Greg Normandesigned courses at the 3 Molinos Golf Resort; the Jose Maria Olazabal-designed Corvera Golf & Country Club course opening in 2010, which will become the winter HQ and overseas base for the PGAs of Europe; and Novo Carthago, a resort alongside the Mar Menor featuring two Robert Trent Jones Jr courses. One thing is certain; I won’t leave it another 10 years before I go back to Murcia. TL July/August 2009

■ Wildlife abounds at Peraleja

Courses La Manga Club www.lamangaclub.com Nicklaus Golf Trail www.nicklausgolftrail.es Mosa Trajectum Golf – Murcia www.thekey.es

■ The Nicklaus Trail will have nine courses

Polaris World

Eco-golf

Golf packages Tour operators offering Murcia golf packages include Your Golf Travel (0800 043, 6644, www.yourgolftravel.com). La Manga prices start at £295 per person for three nights’ bed and breakfast at the Hotel La Manga Club Principe Felipe, with three rounds of golf, or £229 on the same basis at the Las Lomas Village apartments or townhouses.Three nights’ self-catering at Polaris World with three rounds of golf on the Nicklaus Golf Trail cost from £130 per person. Prices exclude flights.

Roda Golf & Beach Resort www.rodagolf.com Hacienda del Alamo www.clubdegolfhda.com Altorreal Golf www.golfaltorreal.es

Peraleja Golf www.peralejagolf.com Peter Ellegard

desert but both featuring replica holes from some of the 240 Nicklaus Design courses. Polaris World offers extensive self-catering accommodation as well as two five-star InterContinental hotels, overlooking the Mar Menor and La Torre courses.

Getting there Many flights by charter airlines, scheduled airlines and low-cost carriers go to Murcia’s San Javier airport and nearby Alicante. Monarch (www.monarch.co.uk) serves both, with flights to Alicante from airports including Gatwick and Luton, and flights to Murcia from Gatwick and other regional airports. Fares start from £46.50 one-way (£76.99 return) to Alicante and £52.99 (£88.50) to Murcia.

Peraleja Golf

■ Hacienda del Alamo

Hacienda del Alamo

Weather Murcia’s semi-arid, sub-tropical climate is ideal for golf year-round, with an average temperature of 21ºC and more than 300 sunny days a year.

Hotels Hotel La Manga Club Principe Felipe www.lamangaclub.com Hotel Intercontinental Mar Menor Golf Resort www.intercontinental.com/marmenor Hotel InterContinental La Torre Golf Resort Murcia www.intercontinental.com/latorre

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golf NEWS

First brochure

GOLF CLIPS The K Club, Ireland’s 2006 Ryder Cup host resort, is celebrating its 18th birthday with some special offers.They include bed and breakfast in a superior room for £180, with 18 holes of golf or 180 minutes of spa treatments. The offer is valid all year. Call 00 353 1 601 7200 or visit www.kclub.com

Golf Digest. Designed by Karl Litten and opened in 1988, the course is part of the Emirates Golf Club and hosts the PGA European Toursanctioned Dubai Desert Classic, won this year by Rory McIlroy. www.dubaigolf.com

fourth floor of the hotel and guests can enjoy a drink or meal while looking out over the Old Course,West Sands and Firth of Forth. www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk

Join the club W

Kohler Co

A new rooftop deck has been added at the Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in St Andrews.The terrace completes the luxurious

■ The Old Course Hotel’s rooftop deck

tured are China’s Mission Hills, the world’s biggest golf complex with 12 courses, Players Championship venue Sawgrass in Florida, 2010 Ryder Cup host Celtic Manor in Wales and 2014 host Gleneagles in Scotland. UK breaks start at £36 per person for one night’s bed and

breakfast with two rounds of golf at Belmont Lodge Hotel & Golf Club in Hereford. Overseas holidays cost from £115 per person for three nights in an apartment on Portugal’s Algarve, with three rounds. Your Golf Travel managing director Andrew Harding said: “We wanted to build on the phenomenal growth the company has enjoyed since its inception in 2005 and launching this brochure is the best way to do that.” For a copy of the brochure, call 0800 043 6644, and for more information, visit the website (www.yourgolftravel.com), which has over 1,500 venues.

ith Florida property prices at their lowest for years and the dollar still good value, British golfers might not have a better opportunity to buy a home there with top-notch courses on the doorstep. One of south-west Florida’s most prestigious country clubs is aiming to attract more overseas members, particularly from the UK. Grey Oaks Country Club, in Naples, already has several British members. Director of membership Ann Marie Ashline believes its beautiful setting, home-away-from-home atmosphere and extensive facilities – which include three golf courses, one by top architect Bob Cupp – particularly appeal to the British. Other facilities include two clubhouses, two driving ranges, tennis, social events and a fitness centre. Many members have homes

44 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

Peter Ellegard

■ 8th hole on the Majlis

Dubai Golf

Dubai’s Majlis Course has been voted the top golf course in the Middle East by leading US golf publication

■ Your Golf Travel offers Celtic Manor breaks

Peter Ellegard

E

urope’s fastest-growing golf travel company has launched its first brochure. More than 180 resorts, hotels and golf courses in 19 destinations around the world are featured in the inaugural 2009 brochure from Your Golf Travel, which was previously online only. As well as UK and Ireland breaks, the brochure offers holidays in European golfing hotspots France, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Cyprus. Further afield, it offers South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mauritius, the Caribbean, the US and China. Among notable courses fea-

■ Grey Oaks’ Palm Course

at Grey Oaks, where three-bedroom villas sell from around $800,000, but it also offers equity golf membership for non-residents. That costs $175,000 (Grey Oaks property owners pay $150,000) plus annual dues of $11,400, giving full use of all

facilities. Members get 80% of the current equity value back if they resign. Interested British golfers are welcome to try out Grey Oaks’ golf as guests. Call 00 1 239 262 5550. More information: www.greyoakscc.com

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CHANNEL ISLANDS

tranquillity

Fortresses of

Depending on your viewpoint, they’re a little piece of France that will remain forever English, or an extension of the Normandy coast that are French in all but name. The fact is, writes Frank Partridge, the Channel Islands have a character and style all of their own

■ Fort Grey, Guernsey

was enjoying a round of golf on the island of Alderney, third largest of the Channel Islands and so close to France that you can make out the traffic on the coast road of the Cherbourg Peninsula, when I was faced with a tricky “blind” shot to the green. “No problem,” said my local companion, “just aim for that gun emplacement up on the high ground there, just left of the observation tower.” These aren’t the sort of landmarks that come into play on a golf course in, say, Surrey or Hertfordshire, but in Alderney they define the landscape, nearly 70 years after Hitler’s occupying forces fortified the island in readiness for an Allied attack that never came. I took aim, sliced my shot into thick bracken, and spent five minutes looking for my ball and considering the accidents of geography and history that make the Channel Islands unique. Stuck between two great powers who were forever warring with

Visit Guernsey

I

Jersey Tourism

■ A painter on Jersey’s north coast

each other, and coveted by the Third Reich as stepping stones towards European domination, Alderney and its two bigger sisters, Jersey and Guernsey, have been floating fortresses for centuries. Now, at last, peace reigns in this lovely corner of Europe. Tourists can clamber safely over the military relics as they’re gently reclaimed by nature – and (good) golfers can use them to sharpen their aim.

Bygone traditions Peace and quiet – of a kind southern Britain hasn’t experienced since the 1950s – is the special quality of Sark and Herm, the fourth and fifth islands of the group. Spectacularly beautiful Sark jealously preserves its bygone traditions and unhurried pace of life. Cars are banned in this dreamy place of hidden coves and beaches, luxuriant vegetation, tea and craft shops. It would have been the perfect location for an Enid Blyton novel, and is best explored on bike or foot. Sark’s most striking feature is the narrow,

Main picture: Visit Guernsey

July/August 2009

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Visit Guernsey

■ Horse and cart transport in Sark

■ Jersey’s Battle of Flowers

■ The Durrell Wildlife Centre

Festivals & events

Jersey Tourism

Battle of Flowers

■ Floral Guernsey

Alderney Week 130 events and entertainment for all ages in the island’s annual carnival, from August 1-9. www.alderneyweek.net Visit Guernsey

Jersey Tourism/Stuart Abraham

natural causeway that links the two halves of the island, running nearly 300 feet above the waves on either side. There are sturdy hand-rails, but it’s no place to go if you suffer from vertigo. Herm is less than two miles long and a mile wide, with a population of less than 100 that swells twenty-fold in the summer months. Some are content to stay within the luxurious confines of the island’s only hotel, but the day-trippers make a bee-line for two of the finest beaches in the British Isles: Belvoir Bay and Shell Beach. The latter’s brilliant white surface is a beachcomber’s delight, with an unending supply of shells deposited on the island by the Gulf Stream. Everything

Both Jersey and Guernsey celebrate their main export with spectacular floral processions, when locals compete to build the best mobile float. Jersey’s carnival (www.battleofflowers.com) is from August 13-14; Guernsey’s (www.visitguernsey.com) is August 26-27.

Sark Celebration of the Sea Seafood, music, family entertainment and fireworks from noon to midnight on September 12.

on Herm, including some shops, holiday cottages, a school and a post office, is run as a business by a tenant family, who ensure that litter and noise are kept to a minimum, and that everyone without a permit to stay overnight is safely on the last ferry back to Guernsey, 20 minutes away. Outside July and August, this is the ultimate get-away-from-it-all retreat.

Independence Herm, Sark and Alderney all belong to the Bailiwick of

Guernsey, which means they’re effectively governed from the island’s capital, St Peter Port. Jersey is also a bailiwick (derived from an old French word meaning an area of jurisdiction) and the two big islands have a remarkable degree of independence. Each has its own constitution, parliament, tax system, currency, stamps and excise duty. The UK is responsible only for their defence, as depend■ Dancers at Jersey’s Battle of Flowers parade encies of the British Crown. Jersey Tourism

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■ Children rock pooling on Jersey

Jersey Tourism

■ A German coastal artillery observation tower at St Brelade

Jersey Tourism

Did you know?

It didn’t feel like that in 1940, when the Nazis earmarked the Channel Islands as a key brick in their defensive Atlantic Wall, that stretched from Norway to Spain. Britain, at the height of the Blitz, was in no position to help, and the islands were abandoned to the enemy without a shot being fired. The Germans brought in slave labour from Eastern Europe to shore up their defences; Alderney was virtually cleared of people to make way for four concentration camps. Churchill was advised that recapturing Alderney alone might cost a quarter of a million Allied lives, and the “dear Channel Isles”, as he called them, were left to fend for themselves.

July/August 2009

Occupation reminders On the golf course, and pretty much everywhere else, you’re reminded of the four years and 10 months of occupation, when food ran so short that the German soldiers were reduced to eating domestic cats and dogs. Alderney is an easy-going place now, with its notably relaxed attitude to the licensing laws giving rise to the saying that it’s “two thousand drunks clinging to a rock”, but it was a grim place in the war years, and the period is superbly captured in the island’s museum in St Anne, the quaint, cobbled capital. Guernsey has plenty of evocative war memorabilia too, including an underground

● The island that became world-famous for its “Guernsey Toms” built its first giant greenhouses in 1792 - for the production of grapes.Tomatoes weren’t introduced until the 1860s. ● Assuming victory in World War II, Adolf Hitler planned to turn Jersey into a giant holiday camp, as part of the Third Reich’s “Strength through Joy” programme. ● Herm has a unique set of regulations. Visitors are forbidden to pick flowers, own a house, play loud music on the beach, or wash their clothes between noon and midnight – to save electricity, which the island generates itself. ● Alderney has the only working railway in the Channel Islands, and one of the oldest in the British Isles. A diesel locomotive pulls two former London Underground carriages, which celebrate their 50th birthday this year.

military museum and hospital, and an Occupation Museum depicting the day-today grind of island life in those desperate times. Emerging into daylight, they make the elegant, quaint streets and alleys of St Peter Port look all the more beautiful, although Guernsey has nothing quite to match Elizabeth and Mont Orgueil castles on Jersey – the two most imposing buildings of the Channel Islands, dramatically floodlit at night.

Gallic influence Jersey is the biggest, wealthiest and most populous of the islands, and although its capital, St Helier, lacks the charm of the

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Channel Island facts

“French yachtsmen sail over for lunch at French-owned restaurants” Jersey is just 14 miles from mainland France, so it’s no surprise to find a strong Gallic influence in its cuisine, dialect and place names. French yachtsmen sail over for lunch at French-owned restaurants. The most celebrated incomer to the islands was the French Romantic writer, Victor Hugo, whose exotically-decorated house in Guernsey is open to the public. But don’t be misled. In a dozen visits to the islands, I’ve seen a forest of Union flags and scarcely a single French tricolour. The Channel Islands might feel like abroad, but their heart will always be close to home. TL Frank Partridge writes and broadcasts about travel and will happily visit any country with a golf course and a vineyard within easy reach. He frequently misses planes and knows certain airports – especially Luton – like the back of his hand.

50 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

Jersey Tourism

Condor Ferries (www.condorferries.com) operates a fast car ferry service year-round from Poole and Weymouth to Jersey via Guernsey, and a direct service from Poole to Jersey in summer. A traditional ferry sails from Portsmouth to Jersey, with a journey time of 10 hours 30 minutes.

Accommodation and information All the islands have a wide range of accommodation, from luxury hotels to self-catering cottages and well-appointed campsites.The islands’ tourist information websites have details of current vacancies and deals, as well as online search facilities and email booking services. Jersey: www.jersey.com Guernsey: www.visitguernsey.com Alderney: www.visitalderney.com Sark: www.sark.info Herm: www.herm-island.com

Jersey Tourism

other main towns, there are plenty of beauty spots within easy reach. Nearly half the island’s 50-mile coastline is sandy beach, and 350 miles of narrow, hedgerow-fringed roads make it seem much larger than it is. There’s a speed limit of 20mph most of the way, but the byways are so mazy and diverting that you’ll be pushed to exceed it. Rainy-day highlights are the Jersey Museum in St Helier, where the star attraction is Lillie Langtry, the island-born socialite who scandalised London in the late 19th century, and the world-famous zoo, founded 50 years ago by Gerald Durrell, who was a generation ahead of his time in realising that exotic wildlife must be preserved, and not merely caged.

There are at least 12 flights per day to Jersey and Guernsey from London. Aurigny Air Services (www.aurigny.com) flies to both Jersey and Guernsey from Gatwick and Stansted, and to Alderney from Southampton, and operates between the three main islands. Flybe (www.flybe.com) flies to Jersey and Guernsey from Gatwick and Southampton, with additional services to Jersey from Luton and Southend. Blue Islands (www.blueislands.com) flies from Southampton to Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, plus inter-island services. New weekly Air Southwest (www.airsouthwest.com) flights serve Jersey from Oxford.

Health insurance Because the Channel Islands are not part of the EU, visitors are not covered by the European Health Insurance card and need to ensure they have adequate personal insurance in case they need health treatment.

Attractions Jersey ● Jersey Zoo (www.durrell.org) celebrated its 50th birthday on July 12. ● Jersey Museum & Art Gallery (www.jerseyheritage.org) – a quarter of a million years of history and some fine Surrealist art under one roof. ● Mont Orgueil Castle, Jersey (www.jerseyheritage.org) – stunning views and 600 years of history at the island’s most photographed site.

Guernsey ● Hauteville House, St Peter Port (www.victorhugo.gg) – Victor Hugo’s Guernsey home from 1856-70 features an astonishing display of eccentric furnishings, and is preserved by the City of Paris. ● German Military Underground Hospital (www.visitguernsey.com) – an eerie reminder of the wartime occupation, the Channel Islands’ largest construction was hewn out of the rock by thousands of slave workers.

Jersey Tourism

■ St Peter Port, Guernsey

Visit Guernsey

Getting there

Alderney ● Wartime memorabilia helps tell the island's story at the Alderney Society Museum (www.alderneysociety.org)

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in your FLIGHT BAG

Ultra hip with a Flip

T

he Flip Ultra is the world’s first point-and-shoot camcorder and a hit with celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Stella McCartney. You can record 60 minutes of footage, connect directly to your computer via the flip-out USB arm and upload to YouTube, MySpace etc. The Flip Ultra comes in black, silver, orange or pink and retails at £99.99. Available from Amazon.co.uk, Carphone Warehouse, Play.com, Currys, PC World, Firebox.com and iwantoneofthose.com For further information go to www.flipvideo.co.uk

Freshen up your gums

F

eel fresh onboard aircraft with this oral health travel kit from Sunstar. Featuring top quality dentally recommended products, the transparent, waterproof wash kit contains: the GUM travel brush, coated with an anti-bacterial protection; a mini spool containing 10m of GUM expanding dental floss; and a tube of the latest GUM

Gingidex toothpaste with antibacterial agents and aloe vera, a natural ingredient well known for its hydrating properties, to help protect and maintain healthy gums. The GUM Travel Kit is available from selected pharmacies and online from www.dentalshop.co.uk or by calling 01677 424 446. For details of all the GUM products go to www.sunstargum.co.uk

Beautiful, stylish – and eco-friendly!

E

nvirosax eco-totes come with a small price tag of just £5.99 and are ideal for keeping in your flight bag to carry your duty free, jackets and snacks. They come in an array of designs from the feminine florals of the Botanica range to the bold and funky black and purple hues of the new Candy series; there is one to suit every fashion taste. Envirosax bags can cope with up to 20kg of shopping per bag; they have wide straps so they can be comfortably slung

July/August 2009

over your shoulder, yet are tiny when folded away. Envirosax graphics bags are 100% waterproof and washable and will match just about any outfit. For further information and stockists go to www.envirosax.com

For the man who has everything The Travelwrap for him is so luxurious it will make even the hardest person to buy for feel special. The classic look and sharp colours will never go out of fashion and the quality and finish of the Scottish cashmere will make everyone feel at home wearing it.The Travelwrap for him is available in plain shades of charcoal, oatmeal, silver, black and an eclectic choice of charcoal/silver stripe and makes the perfect travel accessory to take onboard a flight, cruise or simply for relaxing at home or in the garden. Travelwrap for him is the deluxe wardrobe investment for the discerning man and will soon make it to the top of his list of favourite travel items, along with the comfy T-shirt, the linen trousers and the vintage leather wash bag. The Travelwrap costs from £191 and comes with a protective linen bag beautifully wrapped in the signature Travelwrap Company box – a gorgeous gift for someone special. Or maybe you would like to treat yourself – Travelwrap is also available for women and children. Go to www.thetravelwrapcompany.com for further details or phone 0844 800 1296.

WIN a stylish Travelwrap We have teamed up with The Travelwrap Company to offer one lucky reader the chance to win this gorgeous Tree of Life Travelwrap from the Eclectic Collection, worth £221.To enter, go to www.choicetravelinfo.com and click on competitions & giveaways.Terms & conditions apply. Closing date August 31, 2009.

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in your SUITCASE Smokin’ look – with minimum make-up Impress with less with the new Smokin’ Eyes Kit from Benefit, which is beautifully compact and includes everything you need for the sexiest smoky eyes and beautiful brows. The kit contains: ● Three smokin’ shadows: pink highlight shadow, pewter base shadow, deep charcoal shadow ● Smokin’ liner, dark black pencil ● Brow zings, shaping wax ● Eye bright, cream eye brightener ● Fluff shadow/hard angle brush ● Tiny tweezers for discreet touch-ups ● A lesson to talk you through each step So don’t waste your luggage allowance on lots of heavy make-up, when all you need is Smokin’ Eyes! Smokin’ Eyes is priced £26.50. For stockists go to: www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk

Keep your valuables safe on your travels The security experts at Yale have introduced a handy new portable Travel Safe that can be attached to any fixed objects in your hotel room or while you’re out and about to keep your belongings safe. Available in black or white, the slim-line safe can hold your passport, spending money and mobile phone, and comes with a steel cable, which can be securely locked around a wardrobe rail, parasol or even a restaurant table. Designed to fit in your handbag or travel bag, the safe comes with a four-digit combination lock and has a strengthened casing for further protection against attack and theft. The Travel Safe retails at £9.99 and is available from www.argos.co.uk ● We have five Yale Travel Safes to give away.To enter, go to www.choicetravelinfo.com and click on competitions & giveaways.Terms & conditions apply. Closing date August 31, 2009.

54 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

Ergo sums it up to take a weight off your mind

B

eing overweight can be costly – at least with your luggage. If your suitcase is just one kilo over the airline’s weight allowance, it could cost you, on average, an extra £5 at the check-in desk. But now the Balanazza Ergo helps you take control before you fly. The Balanzza Ergo digital luggage scales can help avoid excess weight surcharges, by enabling you to weigh luggage before heading to the airport. Simply attach the strap securely to the lug-

gage item and lift it off the ground to get an accurate reading (within 0.1kg). You can then arrange your souvenirs and gifts in the comfort of your hotel room rather than in front of strangers at the airport! Weighing just 229g and measuring a small

13x7x2.5cm, the Ergo is perfect to pop into your suitcase to be there when you really need it.

The Balanzza Ergo is available online at www.balanzza.co.uk, priced £19.99.

Head to Boots for those holiday necessities

B

oots is great for holiday essentials, whether you’re camping in Cornwall or cruising in the Caribbean. The Soltan mini sunscreen is ideal for keeping in your bag throughout the summer months. It won’t take up much space in your suitcase and, with UVA & UVB filters to reduce the sun’s burning effect on the skin, it could be your most treasured handbag item. Other vanity case must-haves from Boots include: No7 Quick Thinking 4-in-1 Wipes (30 wipes) £6.90; Boots

Smile Totalcare Mouthwash Coolmint, 75ml 79p; Botanics Cooling Foot & Leg Spray, 150ml £3.99; Extracts Mini Body Butters, 50ml £2.45; and Extracts Mini Body Washes, 75ml £2.45.

Most of them are miniatures so that you don’t have to take a month’s worth of product for a one-week holiday – and they fit perfectly in your luggage or in your beach bag. www.boots.com

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Out about

&

What’s on... and where

Hamilton launches Mercedes Driving Academy for youngsters

B

ritish Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has opened the world’s first Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy at Mercedes-Benz World, in Weybridge, Surrey. With young drivers among the most vulnerable on the roads, the academy promises to coach its students to become good drivers, not to just pass their test. Young people from the age of 12 (with a minimum height of 1.5 metres) can now learn to drive on the handling circuits at Mercedes-Benz World, following a curriculum-based programme which is built on recommendations from a series of EU road safety research projects. It also includes peer group discussion sessions, real-life scenario role play on the track and psychological evaluation. The Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy offers three main modules: pre-road module (age 12-17), provisional licence module (age 17+) and post-test module (for those who have already passed their test). Prices start at £40 for a half-hour session on the track.

■ Lewis Hamilton with young drivers at Mercedes-Benz World

For further information on the MercedesBenz Driving Academy, go to www.mbdrivingacademy.com Mercedes-Benz World offers the perfect day out for the family aside from the driving experience. You can have lunch in the Gullwing Restaurant overlooking the circuit, get hands-on with the latest models,

take a walk around the exhibitions and get up close to the famous Gullwing and Maybach. In the cinema, you can learn about the history of the Mercedes-Benz brand and in the simulator you’ll be transported down a production line. To plan your day, go to www.mercedes-benzworld.co.uk

Tickets for LaplandUK 2009 are on sale now LaplandUK, Kent’s awardwinning, magical Christmas experience for families, will open for the second year running next November. The magic begins when children receive a personalised letter from Father Christmas requesting their help to make toys with the elves in the snowy, “Arctic” landscape of LaplandUK, at Bewl Water

56 The Travel & Leisure Magazine

■ Santa returns to Kent this year

Estate, in Kent. Children can decorate

gingerbread in Mother Christmas’s kitchen, go iceskating, meet husky dogs, see reindeer, send a postcard from the North Pole Post Office, work with the elves in the toy factory and visit the mystical Sami for traditional Nordic storytelling at their woodland encampment. A personal visit to Father Christmas himself in his snowy

forest home completes the day and because parents or guardians have already provided Father Christmas with all the information he needs (via the website), he “magically” knows everything about his little guests. LaplandUK is open from November 14 until Christmas Eve and tickets are priced from £57.50. Bookings must be made in advance, either online at www.laplanduk.co.uk or by calling 0871 221 9627.

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out and ABOUT

Battle of the airshows

■ Is it a bird? No, it's a birdman

V

isitors to the world’s biggest free seafront airshow will have four chances to see crowd favourites the Red Arrows as the famous fast jets zoom through the Eastbourne skies on every day of the town’s Airbourne event. Not to be outdone, Bournemouth, with three appearances from the Red Arrows, is the region’s premier event for this year’s Fly Navy 100 celebrations for naval aviation’s centenary. This is how they line up: Airbourne: Eastbourne International Airshow, August 13-16 Eastbourne is keen to uphold its reputation as the biggest international seafront airshow with displays from the F16 US fighter – known as the Fighting Falcon – plus the Eurofighter Typhoon, making it a truly international event. For more information go to www.eastbourneairshow.co.uk

Flying high! ■ Eastbourne Airbourne 2008

More Bus Bournemouth Air Festival, August 20-23 Bournemouth’s fun will continue into the evening with Night Air. Taking place in the Lower Gardens, this will include a hot-air balloon show accompanied by a laser show on Friday and Saturday night, displays by the Royal Marines Combat Display Team and fireworks on Saturday night. For more information visit www.bournemouthair.co.uk

Kids go free in August at RHS gardens

F

or the second year running, the Royal Horticultural Society is offering children aged 16 and under the chance to discover the fun of frolicking in the garden free of charge. From pirate fun and treasure trails to teddy bear picnics and storytelling, there are plenty of free activities to keep children entertained at RHS gardens throughout August. Plant Hunting and Pirate Spectacular: RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey, Bank Holiday Weekend, August 29-31. Visiting families will get a treasure map to follow a trail of great Victorian plant explorers, finding clues and battling pirates, leading to their plant treasure. Adult admission: £8.50. www.rhs.org.uk/whatson/ gardens/wisley/index.asp Pirate Day: RHS Garden Harlow

July/August 2009

■ Pirates and pansies at the RHS

Carr, Harrogate, August 29. If you are heading to Yorkshire, kids can dress up as a pirate on Pirate Day as part of the Family Fortnight, from August 16-31. Adult admission: £7. www.rhs.org.uk/whatson/gardens/ harlowcarr/index.asp Teddy Bears Picnic: RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex, August 23. Bring your teddy bear for a picnic with storytelling, garden games and a special teddy bear’s hospital. Adults: £5.50. www.rhs.org.uk/whatson/gardens/ hydehall/index.asp

Spectators can watch in amazement and horror as 48 humanpowered flying machines throw themselves from a specially-constructed platform on Worthing Pier – many of them attempting to fly over 100 metres with the possibility of winning the jackpot of £30,000.

Taking place over the weekend of August 22/23, the Worthing International Birdman event attracts over 25,000 people to the seafront and it is free for spectators. To find out more about the Birdman event and to meet Wilde the Birdman mascot, go to www.worthingbirdman.co.uk

Posh picnics Relax this summer with a classic English picnic concert at Kenwood House, London and Audley End, Saffron Walden. Arrive at the English Heritage venues from 2.30pm and 5.30pm to enjoy the grounds and gather friends for a picnic on the lawn. Artists include Russell Watson, Simply Red, Jools Holland and Will Young, while the Last Night of the Audley End Proms on Sunday, August 2, is headlined by Katherine Jenkins and features a thrilling Spitfire display. All concerts at Audley End conclude with a stunning fireworks finale.The

Last Night of the Kenwood Proms features one of Britain’s top tenors,Alfie Boe. It takes place on August 22 and also concludes with a spectacular fireworks display. Advance tickets are available through The Times box office on 0844 209 1922, through See Tickets on 0844 412 2706 or via Ticketmaster on 0844 847 1637.You can also visit www.picnicconcerts.com for tickets and more information.

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Park Life ondon is the greenest city in the world – thanks to its open spaces, heaths, commons and greens, with eight Royal Parks leading the way. You can actually walk from the Houses of Parliament to Kensington Palace, a distance of about three miles, just through Royal Parks. Start in St James’s Park, London’s oldest Royal Park and surrounded by three palaces – Westminster (the Houses of Parliament), St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace, where you can catch the daily Changing the Guard ceremony in spring and summer. Next is a royal favourite, Green Park. King Charles II acquired land between Hyde Park and St James’s so he could travel between them without leaving royal soil, put a brick wall around it and called it Upper St James’s Park. Today, the park is a peaceful refuge from the blur and bustle of modern London and is popular with walkers and joggers. Cross to Hyde Park, the people’s

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park, with something for everyone. It has 350 acres of historic landscape, over 4,000 trees, a lake, a meadow, horse rides, a playground, an education centre and a range of catering outlets. Acquired by Henry VIII from the monks of Westminster Abbey in 1536, Hyde Park was a private hunting ground until James I permitted limited access. Charles I opened it to the general public, in 1637. Before reaching Kensington Palace, savour the delights of Kensington Gardens, once part of Hyde Park. Queen Caroline, wife of George II, created the Serpentine and the Long Water from a stream in 1728, resulting in the gardens’ present form. A well-loved feature is the bronze statue of Peter Pan standing on a pedestal covered with climbing squirrels, rabbits and mice. The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground and seven-mile Memorial Walk were both opened in 2000.

London’s Royal Parks There are eight Royal Parks in London and one cemetery that is looked after by the Royal Parks agency (www.royalparks.org.uk). They are:

Open: All day, yearround. Event/activity: Guided Walk – Mansions of Green Park, August 24, 1-2pm. Limited places; book through the park office on 020 7930 1793.

St James’s Park

Tube: St. James’s Park (District/Circle Line). Open: 5am-midnight, year-round. Event/activity: Feeding the pelicans. Wildlife officers feed the park’s pelicans daily at 2.30pm.

Hyde Park Tube: Lancaster Gate & Marble Arch (Central Line), Hyde Park Corner & Knightsbridge (Piccadilly Line). Open: 5am-midnight, year-round Event/activity: Punch and Judy, August 17-21, 11am, 1pm, 3pm. Free with admission to the Lido (£4 adult, £1 child age 3+, £3 concessions and £9 per family). visitlondonimages/britainonview

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Escape the blur and enjoy green days

■ Strolling by the Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park

Green Park Tube: Green Park (Jubilee, Victoria & Piccadilly Lines), Hyde Park Corner (Piccadilly Line).

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LONDON Review PARKS

● In 1665, many London citizens fled the city to camp at Hyde Park, to escape the Great Plague. ● The chapel on the Fulham Road side of Brompton Cemetery was used in GoldenEye (1995), Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond movie. ● Richmond Park is London’s largest Royal Park, covering 2,500 acres, and is home to 650 freeroaming deer. From its heights there is an uninterrupted view of St Paul’s Cathedral, 12 miles away.

Richmond Park Tube/Rail: Richmond Station (Rail or District Line), then 371 or 65 bus. Open: From 7am in summer and 7.30am in winter, until dusk. Event/activity: Caters to sports including cycling, orienteering, cross-country running, rugby, horse-riding, golf, fishing and power kiting. Greenwich Park Tube/Rail: North Greenwich (Jubilee Line) then 188 bus, Greenwich (Rail or Docklands Light Railway), Cutty Sark (DLR)

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Fresco, August 9, beginner classes 1-2pm, social dancing 2-6pm, The Broadwalk. £10 for class and social dancing. www.tangoalfresco.com visitlondonimages/britainonview

Kensington Gardens Tube: Lancaster Gate & Queensway (Central Line), Bayswater (District Line), High Street Kensington (Circle & District Lines). Open: 6am-dusk, yearround Event/activity: The Serpentine Gallery, featuring modern and contemporary art, has a permanent display dedicated to its former Patron, Diana, Princess of Wales. Open daily during exhibitions, 10am-6pm. Free.

● Royal Parks hosting London 2012 Olympics events are: Greenwich Park (Olympic & Paralympic equestrian events; modern pentathlon elements), Horse Guards Parade (beach volleyball), Hyde Park (triathlon; open water swimming) and Regent’s Park (road cycling). ● King Charles II introduced the game of Pelle Melle, with players using a mallet to hit a ball through a hoop, from France. The courts in St James’s Park gave their names to present-day Pall Mall and The Mall.

Open: 6am for pedestrians, 7am for traffic. Closing times vary. Event/activity: Heatwave – a family cultural feast from noon6pm on July 26, The Bandstand. Take a blanket and picnic. Regent’s Park Tube: Regent’s Park (Bakerloo Line), Great Portland Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle & Metropolitan Lines), Baker Street (Hammersmith & City, Circle, Jubilee, Metropolitan & Bakerloo lines), St John’s Wood (Jubilee Line), Camden Town (Northern line). Open: 5am-dusk, yearround. Event/activity: Tango al

Bushy Park Train: From Waterloo to Teddington/Hampton Wick/Hampton Court, then a short walk. Open: 24 hours for pedestrians (8am10:30pm September & November). Vehicle access 6:30am-dusk, 7pm in winter. Event/activity: The park has a distinct rural character. Spot wildlife including red and fallow deer, sandpipers, herons, woodpeckers, warblers and finches. Brompton Cemetery Tube: West Brompton (District Line). Open: 8am-8pm summer, 8am-4pm winter. Info: The only Crown Cemetery covers 16.5 hectares in the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Among those buried in this haven of peace and beauty are 13 holders of the Victoria Cross.

Garden squares Garden squares are a great way for city workers to enjoy London’s open space and are perfect for lunchtime escapes. Lincoln’s Inn Field, the largest public square in London, is a short walk from Covent Garden and is a popular picnic spot for office workers. Postman’s Park is a small memorial garden created in 1880, near St Paul’s. A wall in the park has 47 handpainted tiles paying tribute to everyday people who sacrificed their lives helping others and was featured in the movie, Closer. www.visitlondon.com

Heaths and commons The rugged landscapes of London’s heaths and commons offer a less formal way to enjoy the outdoors. Originally an agricultural resource, they are now a haven for wildlife and perfect for lazy sunny afternoons and energetic mornings. All offer different qualities and facilities, from outdoor swimming at Hampstead Heath or Tooting Common to the pretty village, shops and pubs that surround Blackheath. www.visitlondon.com

Large parks

visitlondonimages/britainonview

Did you know?

London has plenty of large parks worthy of a wholeday visit.They include: ● Hampton Court Palace Gardens, East Molesey, Surrey (Train: Hampton Court). www.hrp.org.uk ● Eltham Palace, Greenwich (Train: Eltham & Mottingham). www.elthampalace.org.uk ● Syon House and Gardens, Brentford, Middlesex (Train: from Waterloo to Kew Bridge then bus. Tube: District Line to Gunnersbury then bus) www.syonpark.co.uk ● Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Richmond (Train: Kew Bridge.Tube: Kew Gardens). www.kew.org

Picnic spots Family fun: Dulwich Park, SE21. Open: 9am-6pm. www.southwark.gov.uk Hidden secrets: Battersea Park, SW11. Open: 8am-dusk. www.batterseapark.org Sunday farmers market: Alexandra Palace Park, N22. Open: All day. www.alexandrapalace.com Fountains and sunken garden: Thames Barrier Park, E16. Open: From 7am. Closing times vary. www.thamesbarrierpark.org.uk Open-air theatre: Holland Park,W8. Open: Dawn-dusk. www.rbkc.gov.uk

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NEWS & WHAT'S ON

New Covent Garden walking tour

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self-guided tour of the UK’s first-ever public square, dating back to 1630, has been launched in collaboration with worldrenowned historian and novelist, Peter Ackroyd. The Covent Garden Walking Tour highlights the area’s fascinating heritage and breathtaking architecture and details enthralling events witnessed throughout its history.

Visitors will be guided past historical sites such as the café where legendary author Charles Dickens wrote his weekly magazines, the eerie site of the first plague victim’s burial and the Lamb & Flag pub where ferocious bare knuckle boxing once took place. The Walking Tour can be downloaded from www.coventgardenlondonuk.com or you can pick up a copy from the Market Building.

Anyone for Cricket?

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ondoners are being bowled over this summer with outdoor screenings of the Ashes battle between England and Australia. Part of a Great British Summer themed programme of events taking place across three of London’s shopping and entertainment destinations, it is completely free – just turn up, pull up a deckchair and enjoy the atmosphere. For daily screening times check the websites of the three locations: ● Cardinal Place, Victoria Street, SW1. www.cardinalplace.co.uk ● New Street Square, New Fetter Lane, EC4. www.newstreetsquare.co.uk ● Bankside Mix, Southwark Street, SE1. www.banksidemix.co.uk After England scraped a draw in the first Test Match, the remaining dates are: Second: July 16-20; Third: July 30-Aug 3; Fourth: Aug 7-11; and Fifth: Aug 20-24.

Kids go FREE to top London shows

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ow in its 12th year, Kids Week offers children the opportunity to experience the magic of London theatre for FREE! From August 14-28, head to London’s West End for a fortnight of theatre fun and

■ The first capsule being replaced by the dummy pod

Eye pod shuffle A £12.5 million upgrade is underway for the London Eye, with the first of the attraction’s 32 capsules replaced by a sheathed, non-operational one. Each of the capsules will be removed and refurbished in turn over the next three years, being floated down the Thames to Tilbury for the cross-country journey to the Worcester workshop and replaced by the dummy capsule.

see hit shows such as Wicked, Hairspray and the brand new musical in town, Sister Act. The ticket deal is simple – one child aged five to 16 will be able to go free to any participating show when accompanied by a full paying adult, and another two children can go for half price. Go to www.kidsweek.co.uk and sign up to the Family Bulletin to find out all the latest Kids Week news and booking information. Booking lines are now open.

Flutter by the jungle in London

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iscover the secrets of the rainforest with a visit to the Butterfly Jungle at the Natural History Museum.

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Travel from the dark depths of the forest floor to the heady heights of the tree canopy and experience the magic and beauty of live butterflies and other rainforest creatures. Tickets to this exciting new exhibition are now on sale. For more information go to: www.nhm.ac.uk/butterfly-jungle When: Daily until September 27, 2009, 10am-6pm. Admission: Adult £5.40, child £3.50, senior £3.50.

Th e a t r e r e v i e w I believe in fairies JM Barrie’s Peter Pan Kensington Gardens Until August 30 Stars: Ciaran Kellgren, Abby Ford and Jonathan Hyde Fly through the air as the magic of Neverland comes alive in this new production of Peter Pan, taking place in a state-of-theart theatre pavilion, constructed in Kensington Gardens. Be amazed by the breathtaking 360-degree projected scenery as you fly over London with Peter, Wendy, Michael, John and, of course, the fiery Tinkerbell, who is possibly the scariest little fairy I have ever seen! The show is fairly long at just over two hours (including interval) and I think it would be best seen with children (over five) but if you believe in fairies you will love it anyway – and the flying scene definitely has a wow factor. The theatre seats 1,100 people and it’s 100% rainproof. Restaurant, bar and picnic facilities open two hours before the show for you to enjoy. Keeley Gordon When: Tues-Sat 7.30pm; Tues,Thurs & Sat matinees 2pm; Sun 3pm Tube: Lancaster Gate (Central Line) Ticket prices: £47.50; £42.50; £32.50; £22.50. Under-16s get 25% off all ticket prices, except Sat Tickets: www.visitlondon.com/peterpan or See Tickets, on 0871 386 1122

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BEST for…

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★★★ ★

HOTELS

The spa’s the star

HOTEL NEWS

Checking out: The Quay Hotel & Spa, Conwy or a truly indulgent break, a stay at The Quay Hotel & Spa is a must. From the moment you enter the hotel you are immersed in luxury, style and quality. Set on the idyllic Conwy peninsula, there are breathtaking views of the magnificent North Wales scenery and it is in easy reach of Snowdonia National Park. It is easily accessible from Chester and the North West. With ESPA as its partner you can be guaranteed a truly relaxing, luxurious experience in the spa, with a large range of highquality treatments on offer, including relaxing facials and massages. The adjacent swimming pool and Quay gym offer activities to suit all levels of fitness and motivation, for the more energetic. Each of the well-designed bedrooms offers sumptuous furnishings combined with the latest technology, including interactive TV and wi-fi access, with many offering views of the peninsula. The well-appointed bathrooms offer a range of complimentary luxurious toiletries to use during your stay. The Vue restaurant offers a wide range of award-winning culinary treats against background views of the dramatic, UNESCO heritage site of Conwy Castle and the Isle of Anglesey. The delicious food is complemented by the extensive wine list and combined with excellent service offers a memorable dining experience. Peter Lewsey

■ How rooms at the Park Plaza

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Westminster Bridge will look

London’s biggest new hotel in 40 years will soon welcome guests with stunning views over the Thames to the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.The Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London opens in early 2010 on the South Bank, just minutes from the London Eye, National Theatre and Royal Festival Hall. It will offer 1,021 rooms, including 54 suites and penthouses.Amenities will include six restaurants and bars, a spa and fitness centre, with a 15-metre pool. www.parkplaza.com

■ View from The Vue restaurant

■ Spa treatment room

■ Fritton House

factbox The Quay Hotel & Spa Deganwy Quay Deganwy, Conwy North Wales Ll31 9DJ Tel: 01492 564100 www.quayhotel.com Best for ● Stunning views ● Relaxing spa break ● Delicious food Could do better ● The room key system could be improved

■ Hydrotherapy pool

Suffolk brewer Adnams has taken over Fritton House, a 16th century former coach house near Lowestoft which reopened as a “restaurant with rooms” in July.There are seven double rooms and one suite. Double rooms cost from £120 mid-week. In the centre of Fritton Country Park, the lake and acres of woodland and parkland offer plenty of activities including rowing, cycling and horseriding. More information at www.adnams.co.uk

■ Hotel exterior

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Travel and Leisure Directory Cornwall

Essex

Hampshire

Devon

Kent

Norfolk

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West Wales

Highlands & Islands

Glenurquhart Lodges Situated between Loch Ness and Glen Affric in a spectacular setting ideal for walking, touring or just relaxing in this tranquil location. Four spacious chalets all fully equipped for six people set in wooded grounds. Owner’s hotel adjacent where guests are most welcome in the restaurant and bar. Near Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6TJ Tel: 01456 476234 Email: carol@glenurquhartlodges.co.uk

www.glenurquhart-lodges.co.uk

Sussex

South Wales

Channel Islands ALDERNEY, CHANNEL ISLANDS

L’HARAS GUEST HOUSE Newtown Road,Alderney Channel Islands GY9 3XP

All rooms have CH, H&C water, tea/coffee-making facilities and colour TV; most are en suite.Contact Mrs Jansen. Tel/Fax: 01481 823174 lharas@internet.alderney.gg www.lharas.internet.alderney.gg

Canary Islands

Channel Islands

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Florida

Cyprus

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Portugal

North Cyprus

Spain

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Caravan & Camping

PRIMROSE COTTAGE CARAVAN PARK Golden Hill, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3AR 01227 273694 campbell_brian@btconnect.com

Small, quiet site with views of the sea. Superstore, chemist and cafe close by, coach/bus stop walking distance. Pitches for tents and touring caravans with electric hook up points, level site. Pets welcome.Toilets, showers, chemical disposal unit. Tourist information. Agent for Calor Gas.

PLUS! 6/7 berth static caravans for hire

July/August 2009

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Travel Accessories

Museums & Days Out Budget Accommodation

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