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Home & Away with Robert Walshe HOTELDEALSIRELAND.IE was surprised to discover from its site visitor data that users are still opting for comfort when it comes to hotels. According to Martina Skelly, owner of, the web is increasingly being used to get deals on high-end hotels. “It seems that the Irish got a taste of the high life during the Celtic Tiger years and we are reluctant to completely forego it now,” she says. “Consumers are still prepared to spend but these days they demand the utmost in value for money and expect added extras. The website also found that women make up the majority of people who book online and that 63 per cent of their users are from Dublin “which has helped us increase our bookings by focusing on accommodation offers outside Dublin”.

Holiday Hotspot

Liberal, relaxed and bohemian, Sitges retains its 19th and 20th century charm. Its also well known for its white washed walls, cobbled streets and sandy beaches, museums, small secret streets and the beautiful 3kilometre promenade which stretches over 9 beaches Twenty miles from Barcelona this unspoilt seaside town, with its style, and culture instantly stands out from other overdeveloped resorts along the Costa Dorado. Wellto-do Barcelonans, artists and an international gay community have all made Sitges what it is today - a cosmopolitan and stylish seaside resort with chic boutiques, antique shops, art galleries and first- class restaurants. Spring and autumn are the best times of year weather wise to visit, with Sitges’s microclimate provided by the Garraf mountain range making sunbathing a possibility even in March or October. Unlike other Spanish destinations which exist merely as resorts, Sitges does not close down over the winter and is inhabited by Spaniards year round. A former fishing village with wending streets, a compact old town and a mellow vibe, it has a population of 25,000, which swells to more than 100,000 in summer. Home to some of the country’s ritziest real estate, it earns its tag as the St Tropez of Spain. Sitges’s wealth originated from several entrepreneurial families who set up in the West Indies, particularly in Cuba, during the 19th century. Styles vary from Neoclassical to Modernist to downright kitsch. Stroll the streets


of Sitges to explore its artistic heritage - the modernism movement was founded here - and take a visit to the three museums in town, home to many important works from artists such as Picasso and El Greco. See the 17th century church on the waterfront, and wander ■ Stiges beac around the charmh. ing old town, with its in. Spa es Sitg nti tel Ale Ho r erio Ext ■ maze of tiny streets and Catalan architecture. Wine tasting: opportunities inland of Morzine, Méribel or from Sitges include the vast Penedes wine belt whose capital, Val d’Isère and enjoy Villafranca, houses hundreds of wine great accommodation, producers. The biggest of these, and an excellent level of servthe most well known worldwide, is the ice and delicious food Torres winery; a little further on to- throughout your holiwards Barcelona are the rolling vine- day. The Highlife season yards of San Sadurni d’Anoia, famed runs from December 5th for the production of cava, made in 2010 to April 17th 2011 exactly the same way as champagne. and the award-winning The accommodation in Sitges is a lot ski holidays are avail■ Hotel Alenti bedroom Sitges Spain. of rather tired-looking 1970s hotels. able from €805 for an There are also some newer, top-qual- adult and €658 for a child ity ones and leading the charge the 4 under 12. Prices include star Hotel Alenti offers luxury beach minibus transfers to and accommodation within easy reach of from your chalet, great the town’s major tourist attractions, accommodation with facilities includtrendy fashion stores, cute coffee ing saunas, hot tubs and log fires, A leading wedding insurshops, leading restaurants and trendy delicious food, good wines and a comance provider has reported nightlife venues. Sitges beach is liter- plimentary bar, Highlife Ski Guiding, a substantial increase in the ally around the corner. The train sta- and an excellent level of service www. number of brides now seeking tion is conveniently situated within This Christmas at Seaham cover for their big day. walking distance or a short taxi ride Hall and The Serenity Spa, guests can Couples are now more confrom the hotel. Designed by the world relax and dine with the two night fesscious regarding the costs infamous architect Carlos Ferrater Lam- tive package where they can relax in volved with a wedding and are barri, this first-class boutique prop- pure luxury. The festive package inseeking peace of mind for their erty offers luxury furnished guest cludes a three course dinner in The big day. rooms in a white minimal style. www. Ozone restaurant in The Serenity Spa Should an unfortunate Sitges has some fan- with a cocktail on arrival on Christation arise, it is extremely tastic culinary venues for holidaymak- mas Eve This special two night break important to have adequate ers to enjoy the most popular of which is available from the 24th December insurance in place. Unforeseen are Mezzanine & Al Fresco. The main 2010 to the 26th December 2010, with problems such as businesses low cost carriers all fly to Barcelona prices starting at £696 per room, based going into liquidation resultand the best way to travel to Sitges is on two people sharing. The rates are ing in the loss of deposits or a inclusive of accommodation, meals, via train. photographer or supplier not drinks and entertainment as detailed Weekly Best Buy showing up, all leads to addiin the Christmas programme. www. Highlife is gearing up for a ninth tional costs incurred by the year of fantastic skiing with the new bride and groom. 10/11 Ski & Snowboard brochure and Now more than ever is it vital Robert Walshe is a freelance cona pocket-friendly price freeze. Stay in tributor / broadcaster and is guest to protect your financial outone of Highlife’s ten centrally located travel writer for River Media newspalay. More seriously, if a close chalets in the popular French resorts per titles across the island of Ireland relative becomes seriously

Pet’s Corner...

Home and Away Extra injured or dies resulting in the cancellation of the entire wedding then couples need to be prepared for the costs involved. A new iPhone app providing tourist information was launched in recent weeks by It allows users to find restaurants, pubs, hotels, BBs and hostels in every county. The app also offers entertainment listings for every county, including cinema, music and gigs, arts and culture, and comedy listings in over 6,000 venues. It’s free and is available for download in the app store. The website attracts a domestic and international audience of around 380,000 users a month.

with Kathleen Murray

Noise sensitive dogs with Kathleen Murray: Animal Behavioural Therapist

NOISE in itself is nothing to be scared of ...unless it is ear-piercing. Dogs have much more sensitive hearing than us so, for some dogs, loud noises can be very upsetting. For a start it will hurt their ears and in the second place, if it is very sudden, then they can get a terrible fright, just like us. Our instincts are to freeze on the spot, run or fight when we get a fright. Our hearts start thumping and pulsing in our throats and sometimes our mouth goes dry. This is how is for dogs as well. If they get scared by

a sudden noise then they can either shut down, run or bite out of fear. The more often a dog is scared the more it affects it. If it is not treated then it can eventually lead to a heart attack. Collies are incredibly sensitive dogs They can become very scared of those machines that go off like a shot from a gun to scare away birds from crops (also from a car backfiring etc.) Some gun dogs are “gun shy”. Again the sudden, loud sound of gunfire can make them very scared and they often try to run but unfortu-

nately they are often being held by a lead at the time, and this can intensify the fear if not dealt with properly. Fireworks are one of a dog biggest problems in life. They need to be taught from an early age how to accept them as part of life. If they become more scared every year and this is not treated then it can eventually kill them. Fireworks causes a lot of barking in dogs. These dogs are scared, they are alerting their owners to “an intruder” and they need to be taken in and made to

chill out with you while you’re watching TV. You could also put them in a shed with a radio playing to give them something else to listen to as well. Leave a toy or a few treats so they don’t see it as a punishment. The dogs that run under tables or ditches and hide are under more pressure. They are the ones that suffer the most. These dogs need to be desensitised to noises slowly but surely. It needs to start off in a very controlled way with the dog’s response being taken into consideration.

This makes the fear worse because touching a dog, looking at a dog or talking to a dog increases what the dog is feeling at that moment. If a dog is excited and you do any of the above things the dog will become more excited. If the dog is scared then you will make it more scared. Fear needs to be handled in a certain way and it is not the same for all

dogs. Fear needs to be overcome and confidence needs to be restored. That’s what will save the dog’s life. The owner needs to be committed to helping the dog by often going against their own instincts so that the dog can recover. Other animals suffer from these fears also so please watch out for them from now until Halloween. They can’t help themselves.

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