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Over the top The best theme parks in the UK and Europe

WONDERS OF WALES Firm favourites and off the beaten track

NEWS...

● Theatre Reviews – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Twelve Angry Men ● Skiing home & abroad

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Britain’s famous fortifications

PLUS

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TURRETS & TOWERS

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EDITOR’S LETTER

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EDITORIAL Managing Editor: Gareth Evans T: 01733 293243 E: gareth.evans@grouptravelworld.com Production Editor: James Day E: james.day@grouptravelworld.com Art Director: Ian Blaza E: raspberryjamcreative@gmail.com Features Writer: Amy Moore E: amy.moore@grouptravelworld.com Features E: features@grouptravelworld.com

The Swarm at Thorpe Park – thrill seekers will love this ride with or without summer heat and blue skies

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Bad weather? Who cares

H

aving paid a visit to Flamingo Land last week, I have to say the off-season for theme parks is not something to be afraid of. It was a very grey day, spitting with rain at times and not particularly warm. It absolutely threw it down with rain just as we left, which was rather well timed. However, the rides remained open all day while we were there, the shows still ran and the queues were non-existent. We walked straight onto every single ride and apart from a bit of face-stinging rain on Velocity (which shoots out of the station at 60mph) the weather really wasn’t worth worrying about. Despite only being at the park for four hours, we could have ridden each ride 10 times if we’d wanted to, right at the start of the Easter holidays. If it’s like that during poor weather at what must surely be a peak time, what must it be like during the off season? It wasn’t all positive. Flamingo Land is half theme park, half zoo, like a lot of parks in the UK. The weather made many of the animals prefer to stay indoors and out of sight. However, one of keepers did say that ‘we always give our animals a choice,’ which means this could happen during any kind of weather.

Turning to the theme park, the water rides were obviously not something people wanted to go anywhere near, a lot of the shops, restaurants and game stands were shut and the sheer lack of visitors made the park feel much smaller than it was. But being a huge fan of rollercoasters, I will take that every time over 70-minute queues for 90-second rides. Schools are in a fantastic position to take advantage of this. The majority of the parks I looked at this month offered excellent rates for schools with as much as 80% off. Why not take your school trip in April, October or November? Many others will shy away from the poorer weather, leaving your group free to get far more out of the facilities than would usually be possible. My advice to groups would be to not worry about the weather and take your trip at the edge of the theme park season. European theme parks have to cope with poor weather thanks to the European climate, so it will need to be seriously poor before the park will go on lockdown. James Day — Production Editor April 2014 ● Group Travel World

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IN THIS ISSUE

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NEWS

The latest travel and tourism stories and current affairs

TEAM ON TOUR

Liverpool’s ibis Styles hotel and Anfield stadium

WALES

Famous attractions and fresh ideas from all over the principality

Group Travel World ● April 2014

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24 30 32

CASTLES

Some of Britian’s great fortifications on the coast and inland

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THEATRE NEWS

The latest theatre news and stories

THEATRE REVIEWS

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Twelve Angry Men reviewed

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THEATRE LISTINGS

Up to date details of current West End shows and regional theatre

TICKETMASTER

Romeo & Juliet at English National Ballet and Disney on Ice

COURSES

Options for group learning experiences

www.grouptravelworld.com

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CONTRIBUTORS Amy Moore is a third year university student studying Journalism at University of Winchester. She is also the part-time features writer at Group Travel World Magazine. Her passion for Journalism is reflected in her past experiences as editor/ contributor to a number of university based magazines.

Amy Moore

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SKIING FOR GROUPS

The best places to enjoy the winter weather

THEME PARKS

Towering rides and attractions across the UK and abroad

SPARKLING SHOPPING

Various group-friendly shopping destinations across the country

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Amy O’ Donovan

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Amy O’Donovan is the marketing & events executive for UKinbound and will be contributing their monthly page to Group Travel World magazine. She previously worked for Tourism Ireland in Madrid and is fluent in Spanish. Her hobbies include travel, history, culture and sport.

COACH TOURISM COUNCIL

The association’s recent news and stories

LONDON & PARTNERS

News about the latest tourism developments in the capital

UKINBOUND

Diary of UKinbound’s latest activities

Sam Noble

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Sam is the manager of the subscription and circulation team for Group Travel World and its sister title Coach & Bus Week. Regularly attending trade functions and events she enjoys networking and sharing knowledge with an interesting cross section of the travel industry.

GTO GRAPEVINE

Five of the best portable power chargers; The UK Coach Awards

COVER PICTURE: The Silver Star at Europa Park in Germany CONTENTS: Conwy -Tu Hwnt I’r Bont, a former courthouse, and the 17th century Pont Fawr stone bridge on the river Conwy. Sunset, dusk. ©VISITBRITAIN/ LEE BEEL

April 2014 ● Group Travel World

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NEWS

Travels... London Transport Museu m Tidbit ●

A structure resembling an ‘alien space pod’ designed by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic will be at the Serpentine Galleries’ Pavilion this year, the BBC has reported. The translucent, shell-like structure resting on boulders will be placed on the lawn of the London gallery from June 26 to October 19. The building will house a cafe and also be the venue for the Serpentine’s annual Park Nights series of events. According to the Serpentine, the annual attraction has drawn some 300,000 visitors every year.

The car/coach park and toilets at the Welsh Highland Railway’s Pont Croesor station are closed for 2014. However, the Glaslyn Wildlife Project has announced funding is now in place to redevelop the site and it is planned to be fully open again for the 2015 season. During 2014 it is proposed to open the Viewing Hide during most of the Bank Holiday weekends and some other weekends from Easter onwards while the ospreys are with us. For more details, visit www. glaslynwildlife.co.uk.

The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia is to present John Virtue – The Sea, an exhibition featuring a spectacular new body of work by the renowned British painter. The nine canvases, 25 paintings on paper and 70 sketchbooks, all executed in the last three years, will be displayed in two galleries from April 26 – August 24. The exhibition is also supported by Marlborough Fine Art, London, where the second part of the exhibition will be shown from April 30 to May 31, 2014.

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A catalogue of events throughout 2014 will detail the colourful history of the iconic London bus

The London Transport Museum is very much involved in Transport for London’s Year of the Bus programme The museum is restoring a B-type ‘Battle Bus’ which will journey to Northern France and Belgium in September The London Transport Museum is celebrating one of London’s greatest icons with a programme of events for Transport for London’s Year of the Bus in 2014. The events include illustrated talks, guided tours and a major new exhibition – Goodbye Piccadilly – from Home Front to Western Front. Much loved as a symbol of London, but taken for granted in terms of its importance and contribution to the Capital, the London bus carries more than 2.3 billion passengers a year equating to half of all the bus journeys made in England. Around 6.5 million bus journeys are made on a weekday and there are approximately 24,500 bus drivers operating services in London. Some of the Year of the Bus events are as follows:

Exhibition: Goodbye Piccadilly – from Home Front to Western Front May 16, 2014 to March 8, 2015 This major exhibition will commemorate and explore the contribution of London’s motor buses and their drivers in the First World War and the lives of people living and working on the Home Front in London. The exhibition will present London Transport Museum’s unique perspective on the First World War, exploring how the conflict accelerated social change, how it impacted on the lives of Londoners, particularly women and the essential role made by bus service staff and buses to the war effort, both at home and abroad. It will also look at the impact of aerial bombardment on life at home and sheltering on the Tube, as well as rationing – both of which were introduced for the first time in the First World War. Routemaster bus tours: A Busman’s Holiday June 2014 Joe Kerr, Head of Critical and Historical Studies at the Royal College of Art and Oliver Green, Research Fellow at London Transport Museum, will travel on one of the museum’s own Routemaster buses for a tour of

a selection of iconic London bus garages and stations. The tours will include visits to the modernist Stockwell Bus Garage, described by writer Will Self as ‘London’s most important building,’ Canada Water Bus Station and West Ham Bus Garage, one of the largest garages in Europe.

Fred. Olsen releases new brochure Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has launched a new ‘Fly-Cruises Worldwide 2014/2015’ brochure. This new 2014/2015 fly-cruise brochure includes; two-week cruises around the Caribbean, departing from Bridgetown, Barbados; nine to 14-night cruises from Santa Cruz, Tenerife around the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and West Africa; and two to three-week escapes to many destinations, including Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, China, Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile. The brochure also

incorporates holiday extensions on selected cruises, giving guests the chance to add either a pre- or post-cruise stay and gain a greater insight into the city in which they start, or end, their cruise. With city breaks in Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore, as well as escorted tours of the Iguazu Falls and Machu Picchu, there is ample opportunity for guests to make the most of their experience. Groups are welcome on all Fred. Olsen’s cruises and, depending on the size of the group, they may be eligible for a choice of benefits, including:

● Group leaders receive a free cruise place when they achieve their group passenger target, of 20 guests; ● Free ‘Welcome aboard’ drinks party, with wine, sherry,

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eu m supports Year of the Bus

The museum is very much involved in Transport for London’s Year of the Bus programme

Symposium: The social history and cultural significance of the London bus October 18, 2014 - 1000 to 1600hrs A one day conference for Year of the Bus, in which prominent speakers look at the iconic nature of London’s red double-decker buses, their

soft drinks and cold canapés; l Funding towards coach transfers to and from the port or airport; l Funding towards car parking at the port or airport; l Free supporting promotional material provided; and l Assistance with group promotional events. There are no limits on the free places which larger groups can earn. There are many extras that can also be arranged, such as group private traditional afternoon tea, group dining plans, private use of public rooms on board for group activities, private group shore tours and priority disembarkation for groups travelling by coach.

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social history, economic impact and cultural significance. Tickets include entrance to the Museum galleries on the day and are priced at £40.00 (£35.00 concessions) and £20.00 for students. B-type ‘Battle Bus’ on tour Various dates

Central to London Transport Museum’s Year of the Bus programme will be the restoration of one of the last surviving B-type buses, No. B2737, into working condition and wartime livery. Over 1,000 London General Omnibus Company vehicles went on war service, most to France and Belgium, with some travelling as far afield as Egypt. They transported troops to and from the Front Line and were also used as ambulances, wireless equipment vehicles and mobile pigeon lofts. The restoration is being made possible with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Friends of London Transport Museum and public donations. Once restored, the public will see the ‘Battle Bus’ at various events during the year prior to its journey to the former battlefields of Northern France and Belgium in September 2014. Bus Garage Open Days Various dates There will be special open days with tours, displays and entertainment at selected London bus garages. Further information about all events can be found at www.ltmuseum.co.uk

Tax breaks for the arts New tax breaks have been announced for plays, musicals, operas, ballets and dance productions in the 2014 annual budget. The move is aimed at encouraging more touring productions such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert, West Side Story and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, all of which have visited or originated in regional theatres. Chancellor George Osborne announced that touring productions would get 25% tax relief and other productions would get 20%. Julian Bird, Chief Executive Officer of the Society of London Theatre, said: “It’s a massive vote of confidence from the

government for one of our major industries and puts theatre on a par in tax terms with the film industry.” National Theatre Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner said: “I believe the government has realised the theatre industry is a golden egg. “The tax breaks, which apply much more to commercial theatre than subsidised theatre, are unequivocally a good thing. “They are an imaginative and considered response to the challenges of theatre production.” The tax credit will be available to both commercial and subsidised theatres, and the government predicts it will be worth £15m in 2015/16. April 2014 l Group Travel World

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NEWS

Blair Castle marks World War One centenary

Blair Castle was heavily involved in the First World War, making it an ideal venue to mark the centenary

Blair Castle in Perthshire, Scotland has marked its seasonal opening with a commemoration of the Castle’s role in the First World War. With more than a nod to the centenary of World War One, as well as Scotland’s year of Homecoming, Blair Castle has developed a new exhibition for visitors to the Castle which illustrate the impact of the First World War on the family who lived there. The seventh Duke of Atholl’s three sons were all heavily involved in military operations during the war. Lord Tullibardine, later the eighth Duke of Atholl, commanded the Scottish Horse Regiment which subsequently merged with the Black Watch while his brother, 8

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Lord George, was lost during the Battle of the Aisne in September 1914. Lord James of the Cameron Highlanders, the third brother, was injured early on in battle, returned to the front after recuperation, only to be captured and spend the remainder of the war in various prison camps across Germany. Back at home, in Blair Atholl, the Castle also underwent significant transformation as a Red Cross hospital for the returning wounded. Jane Anderson, who has brought together the material for the new exhibition, commented: “It’s simply touching how one family was affected in so many ways by this War. From the ladies of the family working in the Red Cross Hospital at the

Castle, to the men fighting at the front. It took over Castle life for many years and, even on return, the eighth Duke took on the responsibility of fundraising and building the National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle, as well as similar memorials in Blair Atholl, Logierait, Dunkeld and Bankfoot. “Much of what we still do today to remember those who served in the First World War, we

do because of the Duke’s efforts to remember his brothers and his fellow comrades.” The castle is a group-friendly attraction, with parking space for 20 coaches. Special offers are available for groups of 12 or more. For more information visit www.blair-castle. co.uk www.grouptravelworld.com

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Shakespeare’s England welcomes Chinese visitors Shakespeare’s England has become one of the first 100 companies across the UK to be awarded a new Chartermark declaring it is fit to welcome Chinese visitors. The GREAT China Welcome Charter is a new initiative from VisitBritain to make Britain the destination of choice for the rapidly-growing Chinese market. Visitors from China have doubled in the last five years and could treble again by 2020. The new Charter helps Chinese visitors easily identify hotels, attractions, retailers and tour operators that are making themselves ‘China-ready’ by providing information in Chinese and adapting their products for the market. Shakespeare’s England qualified as one of the first Charter members because it works closely with tourism businesses in the area, such as

Shakespeare’s England has worked closely with a number of attractions to encourage Chinese visitors

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Royal Shakespeare Company, Warwick Castle, Birmingham Airport and Bicester Village, to attract more Chinese visitors. The Shakespeare’s England website also contains a number of itineraries translated into Chinese and attends many

trade shows throughout China to promote their partners and the wider Shakespeare’s England area. Robin Tjolle, Destination Manager for Shakespeare’s England said: “We have a number of attractions in our area which are very appealing to the Chinese market, and we are delighted to be part of this programme. It will certainly help us and our partners to encourage more Chinese visitors to the area over the upcoming years. Birmingham Airport has also announced a new charter route from Beijing to Birmingham and this will further build on our opportunities in the Chinese market.” For more information about Shakespeare’s England visit – www. shakespeares-england.co.uk or call 01789 260677

Anoifmtheal

Month

A rescued ring tailed lemur has given birth to twins at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park. The twins, yet to be named, are making the most of the mild spring weather as they enjoy a spot of sunbathing with mum Hasina. Hasina and dad Julien are part of a troop of the playful Madagascan primates which live in a walkthrough enclosure at the Wiltshire safari park. Both were rescued as youngsters from unsuitable living conditions and given a new home at the park, although they still bear the scars of their ill treatment – Hasina has some of her fingertips missing and Julien only has half a tail. The name lemur itself derives from the Latin word ‘lemures’ which means ghost and probably came from their nocturnal habits, ghost-like appearance and mournful-sounding cries. Keeper Beverley Evans said: “Ring-tailed lemurs are at risk

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Travels... Tidbit ●

Tourism Ireland and VisitBritain have announced a new agreement to boost tourist numbers from long-haul markets such as China and India. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland, and Sandie Dawe, CEO of VisitBritain. Under the agreement, Tourism Ireland and VisitBritain will work more closely together – particularly in long-haul markets outside of Europe and North America – to promote Ireland and Great Britain as destinations to be visited as part of a single holiday.

The Washington Monument in Washington DC, USA, will re-open on May 12 after being closed for three years following damages sustained during a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in 2011. A total of $15m has been spent on repairing the damage.

Silversea Cruises launches simplified group offers

in the wild due to a combination of habitat loss, degradation and hunting. “Hasina is a very laid back mum and this is her third pregnancy. She seems to have taken the whole birth very much in her stride and is an extremely attentive mother,” she added. In the mornings the ringtailed lemurs sunbathe to warm themselves. They face the sun sitting in what is frequently described as a “sunworshipping” posture or lotus position.

Sunning is often a group activity, particularly during the cold mornings. At night, troops will split into sleeping parties huddling closely together to keep warm The spacious Lemur Walkthrough enclosure is home to both ring tailed and brown lemurs and features extensive rope-swings and wooden walkways which provide the lemurs with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate their extraordinary agility and climbing skills.

Silversea Cruises has introduced Silver Simplicity, a new simplified sales programme for groups. Silver Simplicity is available for new group bookings for cruise holidays on all future 2014 and 2015 voyages, replacing the Group Amenity Point (GAP) programme. With the Standard Group Programme, requiring a minimum booking of five full fare suites: Group travel organisers travel free with their groups, starting from parties of nine or more. $200 on-board spending credit is offered per suite for voyages of up to nine days. $300 on-board spending credit per suite for voyages. April 2014 ● Group Travel World

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NEWS

Wicksteed Park to open zipwire attraction in May The £200k attraction also features a climbing wall and a ‘leap of faith’ One of the UK’s tallest and longest zip wires – called RUSH – is to be unveiled at Wicksteed Park, Kettering. The £200,000 development will have a top speed of 40mph and be as high as a six-storey building and 310 metres long. The park has recently undergone a major £2m lake restoration project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with developments such a paddling area for toddlers, a beach and a 90 metre pontoon. RUSH, which is due to open at the end of May, will be part of an activity tower and will comprise of three zip wires to

An artist’s impression of the new tower

allow families and friends to take the plunge together, with helmet cameras to record the descent for a souvenir video. It will also include a Leap of Faith, allowing people to dive from a 10 metre high platform with only a support harness to break their fall, and a 14m climbing wall. Wicksteed Park Managing Director Alasdair McNee said: “RUSH is a perfect example of the type of innovative, adventurous play and excitement we want to encourage at the park. “Charles Wicksteed was an innovator and, although the park has rollercoasters and rides, we want to encourage children and families to use their imagination and have fun in different ways too.”

Wobern Abbey opens Valiant Hearts exhibition

Three of the world’s rarest tigers have been born at ZSL London Zoo. The triplets were born in February to a five-yearold Sumatran tigress Melati, after a 106-day are remaining in their special cubbing pregnancy. While the cubs dens for the time being, with their mother only venturing away from them occasionally for food, visitors can still see father Jae Jae in the tiger territory. Footage of the cubs is being uploaded on the zoo’s YouTube channel, at http://www.youtube.com/user/ZSLvideo

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Woburn Abbey is marking the centenary of The Great War with a new exhibition, demonstrating the roles played by the 11th Duke and Duchess, the Abbey itself and the people from the Estate and surrounding villages during the conflict. ‘Valiant Hearts: World War I – Woburn and its Stories’ presents a number of unique narratives, giving visitors an insight into what life was like for people connected to the Woburn Estate during the war. Within the exhibition, visitors can explore a recreation of the training garrison established and paid for by the 11th Duke, and read some of the poignant letters from commanding officers that meant he could follow the progress of each of these local soldiers throughout the war. The exhibition also explains how the 11th Duchess

converted parts of Woburn Abbey in order to create one of the most advanced hospitals of the time. Visitors can find out how she, and hundreds of other women, put their nursing training to good use in treating wounded soldiers returning from the front. ‘Valiant Hearts’ has taken its name from a hymn inscribed on a war memorial, in the nearby town of Ampthill, that is dedicated to all the soldiers who were trained at the Duke’s garrison and who subsequently lost their lives during the war. The exhibition is now open and runs until September 28, 2014. Groups of 12 or more visitors can get discounted entry when booking in advance. Find out more at www. woburnabbey.co.uk

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Crich Tramway celebrates 50th anniversary Crich Tramway Village is marking 50 years of running electric trams at the National Tramway Museum, near Matlock, Derbyshire. To celebrate, a minimum of three cars will be in service every day. Appropriately, a new temporary exhibition ‘The making of Crich’ will be opened next to the ‘Survive and Thrive the Electric Era’ exhibition in the Derby Assembly Rooms. The exhibition will display pictures of the sites gradual development and will hopefully answer that common question ‘Why is there a Tram Museum in Crich?’ The children’s indoor soft play area is being refurbished with an exciting new design. Also, visitors will finally be able to alight the tram at Glory Mine and walk up to Crich Memorial Stand, or enjoy the breathtaking views.

Crich: a journey into the past New for 2014, guided tours and talks are being offered every day, so visitors will be able to find out even more about the site, its history, restorations projects and the trams. The catering department has introduced some new menu ideas, which are sure to entice visitors. Rita’s Tearoom will have daily specials and an alternating menu, so be sure to check out what is new on your next visit. ‘The Poulson Room’ will be open daily for pie and peas and afternoon tea. ‘Bluebells Ice Cream Parlour’ will also be open daily for locally sourced ice cream and hot drinks. Call 01773 854 321. Visit www.tramway.co.uk www.grouptravelworld.com

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The first visitors have entered ‘Coronation Street The Tour’ at Quay Street studios in Manchester. A group of 30 became the first to go where no member of the public has ever been before, through the door to Sound Stage One which houses the Green Room, the stars dressing rooms and selected interior sets. Coronation Street and TV fans alike have been waiting for the grand opening of Coronation Street The Tour since planning permission was submitted last year. Tickets can be booked at www. ticketmaster.co.uk/coronationstreet.

Bank of England museum reopens The Bank of England Museum has reopened after a threemonth period of closure, during which brand new displays and features have been introduced to the permanent galleries. As well as the new features, free exhibitions and special events will be on offer throughout the year in the museum. To mark the re-opening, the museum unveiled the new exhibition ‘Curiosities from the

vaults: A Bank miscellany’ (until July 11) featuring some of the more unusual items from the Bank’s vast collections, illustrating the scope and diversity of historic objects gathered by the Bank since its foundation in 1694. Later in the year, from July 21 to December 31, the exhibition ‘The First World War’ and the Bank of England will mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, focusing on the

impact the war had on the economy and its effects on the Bank and its staff. A variety of free talks and presentations are available throughout the year to groups of between 15 and 50 people (booking essential). For more information, visit www.bankofengland. co.uk/museum or email education@bankofengland. co.uk.

Windfarms could damage Welsh tourism Pylons and windfarms planned for Shropshire and Mid Wales would have a negative effect on the region’s tourism industry, the Shropshire Star reported. A report looked at other countries where turbines had been erected in areas popular with visitors. It said tourist numbers had fallen significantly - and warned that any development in Shropshire and Mid Wales could have a similar impact. The report was commissioned

by the Welsh assembly’s environment and sustainability committee amid concerns about plans currently being considered for windfarms in Wales, with extensive pylons coming across the border into Shropshire. The report looked at the economic impact of windfarms and electricity infrastructure on the tourism industry. It said “tourism displacement, which has happened in other countries, is likely to be the case in Wales.” The report stated that while

there were few local case studies, there was anecdotal evidence that showed visitors had stayed away because of windfarms. It also highlighted that certain locations in Wales are more sensitive to windfarm development on account of their outstanding landscapes, types of visitor, limited product diversity and proximity to windfarms and that the more rural parts Powys would fall into this category. April 2014 l Group Travel World

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NEWS

Travels... Tidbit ●

Bristol is again hosting two major festivals this summer. The Bristol Harbour Festival takes place from July 18-20. The Harbour Festival is one of the UK’s largest public events and a chance for the city to showcase its rich musical and performance roots. Over 250,000 festival fans head down to the historic waterfront for a mix of live music, dance, street theatre performance and daring, acrobatic displays which take place over a two mile stretch of the harbourside. Bristol will also play host to the International Balloon Fiesta, Europe’s largest ballooning event, which has returned for the 36th year to Ashton Court Estate. Over 150 hot air balloons will be taking to the skies, creating an amazing spectacle. The event is free to enter.

The Roald Dahl museum has won its fight over a wrong tax payment. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, said tax paid on its £500,000 revamp had been incorrectly classified. A tax tribunal dismissed claims about several payments but said VAT on money spent creating a book about Dahl’s writing hut was wrongly categorised.

A rarely seen love letter written by famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas will be displayed in his hometown of Swansea for the first time. The short but sweet note from Dylan Thomas to wife Caitlin, scribbled on the back of a bank stub, will be returned to Swansea thanks to £935,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Dylan Thomas Centre is also being expanded so more treasures can be seen.

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Leicester Summer Food and Drink Festival celebrates fifth year Leicester’s Summer Food and Drink Festival enters its fifth year on Sunday, May 25. To celebrate the fifth anniversary, Festival organizers have lined up some excellent entertainment. This year, TV chef Andy Bates will be the special guest performing cooking demonstrations from his popular Food Network series, ‘Andy Bates Brazilian Street Feasts.’ Also at the event will be the up and coming local band, By the Rivers, playing an acoustic set. The Brit Reggae band, tipped as one of the ‘five future stars of the Pyramid Stage’ by BBC Glastonbury, will be playing a unique mix of music which is a perfect fit for a summer sunny day. The Hot Dinners, a nationally known walkabout band, will make a return performance after appearing at Leicester’s Winter Food Festival in November. The day’s entertainment will be rounded out with cooking demonstrations from local restaurants, as well as live music

The festival offers a wide variety of produce from the area

and entertainment. In addition, there will be a licensed Drinks Zone sponsored by Everard’s Brewery, where people can sample a variety of local beers, wines and freshly made cocktails. Leicester Market’s brand new bespoke food hall will be open on the day selling fresh meat, fish, cheese and deli items from the longstanding regular traders on the market. The striking new glass and timber pavilion is part

of larger market redevelopment scheme due to finish in 2015 with a public square. Adam Piotrowski, the event organizer, said: “We are extremely excited for this year’s event. We are expecting 20,000 people to attend and are certain they will be treated to a great day out, with excellent food, drink and entertainment as well as being able to see our beautiful New Food Hall which will open just two days before.”

Free admission for all Formula E pre-season tests The FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s first fully-electric race series, has confirmed that all of its official pre-season tests will be held at Donington Park circuit in the UK, with free admission. Beginning on July 3, the 10 Formula E teams will be given five full test days with every one open to the public free of charge, allowing fans who pre-register via the Donington Park website unprecedented access to see and hear the 200kw (270bhp) Spark-Renault SRT_01E single-seaters in action. The remaining tests at the Leicestershire circuit will take place on July 4, 9 and 10 with the final session on August 19 – three weeks before the season opener in Beijing on September 13. In addition to hosting all test days, Donington Park will soon become the new home for Formula E and its teams as

construction work on its bespoke 44,000ft² premises nears completion. Spectators will need to pre-register their attendance in order to gain access to testing, although no fee will be charged. The racing calendar begins on September 13 2014 in Beijing The first Formula E race in the

UK takes place in London on June 27, 2015 Further details on attending the Formula E test days will be available via the Formula E (www. fiaformulae.com) and Donington Park (www. donington-park.co.uk) websites.

Formula E is the new fully-electric racing series, which begins in September

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NEWS

Golfers boost Welsh tourism industry The Welsh Government has revealed that Wales is enjoying a golf tourism boom The value of visiting golfers to the Welsh economy grew by 14% last year, bolstered in part by the effect of Wales hosting the Ryder Cup in 2010 at the Celtic Manor. The total value of golf tourism Wales in 2013 was £38m, an increase of £4.7m from the previous year. To capitalise, the Welsh Government’s tourism arm Visit Wales is funding an advert on Sky Sports during the first major tournament of the year in Augusta. Edwina Hart, Minister for Tourism, said the figures show the importance of golf tourism to the Welsh economy. “Hosting the Ryder Cup, as well as looking forward to hosting Wales’ first Major with The Senior Open Championship in Royal Porthcawl this July,

Commonwealth Games – an opportunity Thousands of new visitors are expected in Glasgow this summer for the Commonwealth Games. According to Games chiefs, thousands of people who have never been to Glasgow before, and know very little about the city will visit over the summer. Tourism body VisitScotland said it meant they had the chance to encourage people to explore the city’s attractions, and venture further afield. Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, said: “The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games offers an unprecedented opportunity for tourism. It is Glasgow and Scotland’s chance to shine on the world stage like never before. Glasgow 2014 conducted a study that found a fifth of people with tickets for the Games have never visited Glasgow, while 54% know little or nothing about the city. One in 10 intend to combine their visit to Glasgow with a longer trip to explore Scotland. 14

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The Celtic Manor resort hosted the 2010 Ryder Cup. Ihourahane on Flickr

have played an important part in raising the profile of Wales as a golfing destination,” she added. The Golf Tourism Monitor began in 2004. Between then

and 2013, there has been a net increase of 41% in the number of golf visitors to Wales, and the related expenditure has soared by 65%.

In total, golf tourism has brought £313m to the Welsh economy, 2004-2013, with a total of 1.72 million golf visits. According to the figures, the number of golf visitors to Wales in 2013 was close to the record figure of 200,000 achieved in the Ryder Cup year 2010. A spokesperson from the Celtic Manor in Newport, which hosted the Ryder Cup, said: “We are delighted the figures show the whole of Wales continues to benefit from the golf tourism legacy brought by the successful staging of the 2010 Ryder Cup. “This year’s tournaments, which include the Celebrity Cup and ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor, as well as the Senior Open Championship at Royal Porthcawl, should ensure sustained interest in Wales as a golf destination and even more visitors enjoying our many wonderful golf courses.”

New British Airways flights for skiers New short-haul routes to top ski resorts from Gatwick are starting for the next ski season. During the winter 2014 season, British Airways will fly twice weekly, from December 20, to Friedrichshafen in Germany and Grenoble in France, using a mix of Airbus A319s and 320s. The new routes come after the airline announced the start of its biggest ever summer schedule, offering 37,000 more

seats a week compared to summer 2013, with big frequency increases at Gatwick to top destinations. Colm Lacy, British Airways’ head of commercial at Gatwick, said: “Skiing is a major must for many of our customers, so we couldn’t be happier to give them even more destinations to choose from to hit the slopes. “These two new services to Friedrichshafen and Grenoble,

added to our existing flights to ski resorts in Geneva, Turin and Innsbruck, will boost our already impressive leisure schedule from Gatwick, offering our customers further choice between winter sun or Alpine sports.” British Airways customers can check-in their skis for free, as part of their complimentary 23kg luggage allowance, while travelling short-haul in Euro Traveller.

The new BA routes come into effect from December 20. WO_ST_01/WIKIPEDIA

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Dropping-off

and picking-up by coach couldn’t be easier in Norwich

norfolk.gov.uk/coaches


TEAM ON TOUR Samantha Noble is Subsciptions & Circulation Manager

Luxurious time in Liverpool

W

ith its unrivalled musical heritage and the largest collection of museums and galleries anywhere outside of London, Liverpool has always been one place to guarantee something different to do each time I have visited. Recently opened, we stayed at the first ibis Styles hotel in the North West – Liverpool Dale Street Hotel. Located in the centre of the commercial district and just a few minutes walk from key attractions that include Albert Dock, Liverpool ONE and the Liverpool Echo Arena, it makes the hotel a great base for anyone wanting to explore this friendly city. Upon arrival, we were greeted with a warm and cheery welcome from all staff, which made check-in to the boutiquestyled hotel a hassle-free and pleasant experience. The hotel has 123 rooms, all designed with their own unique feature, representative of Liverpool itself. We found our own rooms to be modern, bright and quirky, which summed up the personality of the hotel perfectly. The Ibis brand also boasts a new generation of beds, designed by doctors and researchers, which I have to say contributed to a really comfortable stay. Every room also has free WiFi and a flat screen TV. A well-priced, well positioned venue full of personality and staff who are more than happy to help, the Liverpool Dale Street Hotel is a great addition to the city. Room rates start from £38 for a standard double, which also includes an all-you-can-eat buffet-style continental breakfast.

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The ibis is conveniently located on Dale Street Whether you’re a fan of the Red side of town or a supporter of another club entirely, Liverpool football club’s Anfield ground is a ‘must see’ experience for any visitor to the region. In the morning we joined one of the award-winning tours that thousands of visitors flock to experience every year, giving us exclusive access to this fabulous Victorian stadium. Steeped in history, we listened to stories from behind the scenes told by two members of the tour team, as we were shown around the ground, taking in the press room which used to be home to the old ‘Boot Room.’ We also visited the home team changing rooms, taking full advantage of the photo opportunity to sit next to a player’s shirt. One of the highlights of the tour was jumping to touch the famous ‘This is Anfield’ sign before we walked through the players’ tunnel and out to face the pitch where you can appreciate just what the atmosphere must be like on match days. Soaking up the view and more of the tour guides’ stories, we took a seat in the manager’s dug out before ending our tour in the iconic ‘Kop End’ of the stadium. Our guides then directed us to the interactive LFC Museum, where state-ofthe-art technology allows you to explore

the Liverpool FC story at your own pace with your own multimedia handset. This includes a personalised commentary by former fan, player, captain, assistant manager and manager Phil Thompson. For the kids (big and small alike) there are interactive games and activities including the chance to take a penalty at the European Cup Final! After taking in so much history we decided to take advantage of a well-earned tea break in the centenary club before heading over to the Albert Dock. The legendary ‘Ferry Cross the Mersey’ is one visitor attraction I have yet to hear anyone say they have never heard of, just as people associate London with its black cabs or famous architecture. Thousands of people take the opportunity to hop on the ferry so they are able to see the iconic waterfront from each side of the water. Running every hour this 50-minute experience is something for all ages.n www.ibis.com/ibis_styles 0151 243 1720 www.liverpoolfc.com 0151 260 6677 www.merseyferries.co.uk 0151 330 1444

Specially designed beds contribute to a good night’s sleep www.grouptravelworld.com

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WA L E S The Snowdonian scenery is breath-taking

Wales

Wonderful Gareth Evans, GTW’s resident Welshman gives an overview of what his homeland has to offer coach groups – along with some ideas you may not have thought about previously

I

t may look small on the map but Wales offers a rich variety of interesting destinations for groups and coach tour operators to explore. Every corner brings a different view, and each town has its own differing accent. Contrary to popular belief, the stereotypical Ruth Madoc ‘Hi-de-hi’ accent is not universal – the southerners sound very different to the northerners, who in turn differ from those in Mid and West Wales. What is consistent however, is the ability of the Welsh to talk – they certainly live up to that particular stereotype. Like England and Scotland, Wales boasts its own distinct regions – and cuisine. As a fellow Welsh exile, Hayley Crane of ‘Door2Tour.com’ says: “When visiting Wales, make sure you try the Welsh cakes (a biscuit-sized fruit cake), Bara Brith (fruit

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loaf) and for the more adventurous, Laver Bread (seaweed).” While Wales is of course a popular part of the UK to visit – with firm favourites including Snowdonia and South West Wales – it’s also nice to discover somewhere different – hence our off the beaten track suggestions.

NORTH WEST With its lovely beaches, long Victorian pier and interesting shops, Llandudno is rightly a popular, thriving resort. The beautiful Victorian seaside resort is uniquely situated between the Great and Little Ormes with wonderful beaches for people to explore. Wales’ largest seaside resort has plenty to keep visitors of all ages entertained. Don’t forget to enjoy a trip on the Great Orme Tramway or

perhaps an open top bus ride – or go by vintage Alpine Travel coach if you prefer. While Llandudno is without doubt the coach holiday capital of North Wales, Criccieth and Mold are also home to coach-friendly hotels. Llandudno and Criccieth in particular are perfect for exploring Snowdonia, lending themselves to circular tours. ‘Must do’ attractions include the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, Bodnant Garden and the unique Italianate village of Portmeirion. Other places worthy of exploration include Porthmadog and Betws y Coed which are ideal for coffee or lunch stops – and Beddgelert, which is home to a not to be missed ice cream parlour. Home to the famous castle, Caernarfon offers an opportunity to stretch one’s legs and is also the northern terminus of the www.grouptravelworld.com

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Welsh Highland Railway. Llanberis and its well-known pass, which must be driven with care, is another pleasant place to visit, if a little busy during the peak summer school holidays. While the Snowdon Mountain Railway is undoubtedly its most popular attraction, across the road is the friendly Llanberis Lake Railway, which offers delightful views of the water after which it is named and Mount Snowdon. The free-to-enter National Slate Museum allows one to learn about the traditional Welsh slate industry and it is also conveniently located alongside the lake railway and the coach park. Not to be forgotten is the Isle of Anglesey, which offers an entirely different set of scenery to that on the mainland. A popular stop-off is the Edinburgh Wollen Mill at Llanfair PG – better known as ‘that place with the long name.’

Insight

NORTH EAST With its tea rooms and souvenir shops, and the river Dee flowing through its heart, Llangollen is a popular place to visit throughout the year. Coaches can conveniently be parked in the central coach park, which also has toilets alongside. The Llangollen Railway allows one to enjoy the river valley from a decidedly different angle to that from a coach traversing the A5. A new development this season is the opening of the extension from Carrog to Corwen. A boat trip with a difference can be enjoyed on a horse-drawn barge from Llangollen Wharf. An alternative canal cruise is that which traverses Thomas Telford’s mighty Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the UK’s biggest navigable aqueduct which towers an impressive 126ft above the river Dee. Refreshments can also be served on board.

Brecon Cathedral is an easily overlooked gem

Off the beaten track: Tanat & Vyrnwy Gems

Despite being conveniently located across the border from Shrewsbury, the Northern tip of Powys is not normally on the radar for coach groups. Yet this corner of the principality offers a host of undiscovered gems – and thus provides something different for your itineraries. There is a Welsh phrase used in mid-Wales that sums it up: ‘Mwynder Maldwyn’ – the gentleness of Montgomeryshire. A network of B roads allows full-size coaches to access the scenic Tanat, Cain and Vyrnwy Valleys – routes which are normally the preserve of the natives and those who can read maps. Undoubtedly the jewel in the crown is Pistyll Rhaeadr, which is literally translated as ‘spring of the waterfall.’ Located in the Berwyn Mountains, north of the village of Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant, near Oswestry, the waterfall is formed by the Afon Disgynfa’s falling, in three stages, over a 240-foot (73m) drop, after which the river is known as the Afon Rhaeadr. The fall is composed of two drops, the water flowing through a natural rock arch in the middle between the two. The waterfall is often cited as the tallest single drop in the UK, although this is subject to debate. For those of us old enough to remember the Timotei hair shampoo adverts of the late 1980s, this is where they were filmed. It was also the location of Reichenbach falls in Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock Holmes. Set in the area too was the 1995 film ‘The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.’ The C-class road is suitable only for a minicoach. However, local operator Tanat Valley Coaches (TVC) offers the opportunity for groups to be transported

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Lake Vyrnwy dam to the breath-taking waterfall in a 29-seater Sitar Beluga minicoach – a full-size coach can be safely parked at the firm’s garage on the edge of the village. Call TVC on 01691 780212 or visit www.tanat. co.uk. In a similar vain, another hidden gem is the delightful nearby Penant Melangell church. A place of pilgrimage, parts of the Grade 1-listed structure date back to the twelfth century. It rightly proclaims to be one of the loveliest small churches in Britain – and undoubtedly one of the most remote. Its famous shrine attracts many visitors, but not enough to disturb its tranquillity. Prior arrangements must be made with the Centre Director so that groups can be comfortably accommodated – call 01691 860408 or visit www.st-melangell.org. uk. Again, it is accessed via a C-class road, which meanders its way up a side valley from Llangynog and is suitable only for a minicoach – but can be accessed using TVC’s smaller vehicles. For itinerary purposes, afternoon tea or morning coffee can be served either at

the café the waterfall or in the two village pubs in Llangynog – the New Inn or the Tanat Valley Inn. An attraction which is accessible for full-size coaches however, is Lake Vyrnwy. Built in the 1880s to supply Liverpool with fresh water, the spectacular dam is 144ft (44m) high from the bottom of the valley, and 128ft 39m) thick at the base. It is 1,171ft (357m) long and has a road running along the top. It is decorated with over 25 arches and two small towers (each with four corner turrets) rising above the road surface. The Victorian reservoir has a circumference of 11.5 miles. The nature reserve and the area around it are jointly managed by the RSPB and Severn Trent water. A popular retreat for visitors from the West Midlands and North West of England, it also attracts ornithologists, cyclists, and hikers. The reserve is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. A tea room, souvenir shop and bird hide provide added interest at the lake. If in the area on a weekend, the Cambrian Heritage Railway offers the choice of two short train rides in Oswestry and at Llynclys, four miles south of the market town at the throat of the Tanat Valley. Call 01691 688763 or visit http:// cambrianrailways.com . While larger group-friendly hotels are at a premium in this part of the world, the Premier Inn at Oswestry includes a welcoming bar and restaurant, minutes away from the main A5. Coaches are no strangers to the hotel. Other attractions in the area, albeit a little further away include Llangollen, Chirk Castle, the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway and Powis Castle.

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WA L E S

The Welsh Highland Railway is a ‘must do’ journey through the heart of Snowdonia

MID WALES As Powys’ county town, Llandrindod Wells is the capital of Mid Wales in more ways than one. The Victorian spa town is the ideal place to base your tour, being easily accessible by road and rail – and home to coach-friendly hotels. Places to explore in the area include the so-called Red Kite Country, the Black Mountains and the Elan Valley, a complex of Victorian reservoirs which supply the West Midlands with water. Porthmadog is ideal for a coffee or lunch stop

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Further south is the delightful town of Brecon. While a canal boat trip can be enjoyed from alongside the coach park, easily overlooked is Brecon Cathedral.

WEST WALES Undoubtedly one of Wales’ most picturesque harbour towns, Tenby is popular with locals and visitors alike. The cliff-top seaside resort has cobbled streets featuring shops, cafes and restaurants. For an experience with a difference, enjoy a peaceful escape by boat over to Caldey Island, home to the monks of the Cistercian Order. Medieval churches can be explored, along with a walk up to the lighthouse – or just relax on the beach. With its rugged limestone cliffs and golden sands, explore the picturesque scenery of the Gower Peninsula, which lies to the west of Swansea. Welsh Cream Tea can be enjoyed at the Gower Heritage Centre. Swansea itself includes the Welsh National Waterfront Museum, formerly known as the selfexplanatory industrial and maritime museum. In addition to the famous market which sells Laver Bread, there is also the Dylan Thomas Centre and Castle. A little further afield is the superb National Botanic Garden – a Welsh Eden project. The centrepiece of this Millennium project is the Norman Fosterdesigned Great Glasshouse, partially built below ground level, housing plants from Chile, Australia, South Africa and the Mediterranean.

St Fagan’s, the Welsh Museum of Life

THE SOUTH The Welsh capital is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with lots to see and do. Visit the medieval Cardiff Castle, with over 2,000 years of history which can be found in the heart of the city – a stones throw from the shops. In addition to the capital and St David’s shopping centres, don’t forget to visit the traditional indoor market, particularly the stall which sells an array of different twists on Welsh Cakes. A must do attraction on the outskirts of the city is St Fagan’s, The Welsh Museum of Life. Something of a Welsh Beamish, it is highly recommended – consisting of reconstructed buildings from all across Wales. It is highly recommended Enjoy a ride on the scenic Brecon Mountain Railway, which despite its name, is located near Merthyr Tydfil. Interestingly, it has just extended the length of its running line and opened a new steam museum. A convenient stop-off for those travelling along the M4 is McArthurGlen’s Designer Outlet village at Bridgend. ■ www.grouptravelworld.com

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DOVER CASTLE

A captain’s log of English Heritage coastal castles Built as mighty defenders, the role of England’s coastal castles are often intertwined with the extraordinary lives of kings and queens, explorers, sailors, military leaders – as well as ordinary men and women. From historic fact to popular legend, there is a wealth of stories to be uncovered at English Heritage historic sites around the country’s coastline.

GUARDIAN ON THE WHITE CLIFFS For over 2,000 years the site of Dover Castle on its famous location atop the white cliffs has stood as a guardian of the shores of southern England. From early Roman times when a lighthouse was built on the highest point of the site to guide ships safely to land, to the 12th century when Henry II built his magnificent palace, the natural vantage point has been put to good strategic use. The castle played a role in the two world wars of the twentieth century. The Fire Command Post on the cliff edge controlled all the guns around the harbour, while from the Port War Signal Station above, the Royal Navy directed shipping in and out of the port. The castle’s Secret World War II Tunnels are a highlight of any group visit. Running deep beneath the famous White Cliffs, they housed the nerve-centre of operations for Winston Churchill and Vice Admiral Ramsay as they masterminded the evacuation of 338,000 British and French troops from Dunkirk during Operation Dynamo in 1940. They also secretly housed 700 servicemen and women who carried out the vital business of manning telephone exchanges, plotting the progress of ships and aircraft, and even operating on wounded troops. A gripping visitor experience set in the tunnels takes visitors back to those dark days of 1940, revealing the countdown to war and the lightning strike of the German army across Western Europe. It vividly retells how the British Army were trapped on the open beaches and around the shattered town of Dunkirk, and the miraculous rescue of the stranded troops

Scarborough Castle, iconic landmark overlooking Scarborough Bay

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Magical Tintagel Castle in Cornwall

from French shores. Dover Castle provides a complete introduction to the whole of English history - other essential viewing includes Henry II’s stunningly colourful Medieval Great Tower as well as the Roman lighthouse; Anglo-Saxon church of StMary-in-Castro; Battlements Walks and the spooky Medieval Underground Works. Further information: Email dover. castle@english-heritage.org.uk or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/ dovercastle

WALMER CASTLE & GARDENS STATELY FORTRESS TO STATELY HOME

Walmer Castle & Gardens, not far from Dover Castle, was built to guard against attack from France and Spain after Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church. Since 1708, it has been home to the Lords Warden of the Cinque Ports including many illustrious names from history – from Prime Ministers Pitt the Younger to Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington and more recently, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Groups can take a look inside rooms once used by the HM The Queen Mother during her regular visits and those of the first Duke of Wellington, who lived at Walmer for 23 years and died at the castle. His campaign bed, along with a pair of his original ‘Wellington boots’ and other personal effects are on display. The gardens surrounding the house include a beautiful garden to mark the 95th birthday of the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, with lily pond and varieties of flowers she loved best.

A birds eye view of mighty Dover Castle

Further information: Email walmercastlegroupbookings@ english-heritage.org.uk or visit www. english-heritage.org.uk/walmercastle

SCARBOROUGH CASTLE

PROTECTOR ON THE HEADLAND For centuries, Scarborough Castle defended the shoreline from the prominent headland over Scarborough Bay and the now ruined walls of the 12th-century fortress have seen a turbulent history from the Bronze Age up until World War II. An interactive exhibition explores key historical moments and houses archaeological finds unearthed at the site. Groups can also enjoy wonderful coastal views, much admired by King Richard III, who is rumoured to still walk the battlements to this day! Further information: Email scarborough.castle@englishheritage.org.uk or visit www.englishheritage.org.uk/scarboroughcastle

PENDENNIS CASTLE

MIGHTY MILITARY FORTRESS Any trip to the ‘Riviera’ resort of Falmouth should include a stop off at Pendennis Castle which stands proudly overlooking its picturesque harbour and the Fal estuary. Built in the 1540s by King Henry VIII, Pendennis Castle has stood for five centuries protecting the British mainland from foreign invaders, including playing a vital role in Cornwall’s defences during both World Wars. NEW FOR 2014: A new exhibition highlights the important role of Pendennis and the fortress of Falmouth during The First World War. It will focus on the people who worked or trained here, and what individual parts they played in the war at home and abroad. There is also a First World War Guard House and a small museum including a display of weapons and ammunition and tell more about the 450-year history of the castle. Groups can explore the castle’s Second World War secret underground www.grouptravelworld.com

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defences which include period guns and ammunition magazines, with special effects re-creating the drama of an air raid. A re-constructed Battery Observation Post displays range-finding equipment, guns and of course superb views. The 16th-century keep - the oldest part of the site – is home to a recreated working gun-deck, enhanced by sound effects. Further information: Email pendennis.castle@english-heritage. org.uk or visit www.english-heritage.org. uk/pendennis.

TINTAGEL CASTLE

LEGENDARY MYSTICAL STRONGHOLD Thousands of group visitors and tourists flock to the mystical and dramatic site reputed to be the birthplace of legendary King Arthur - Tintagel Castle – perhaps the most atmospheric of all English Heritage sites. Groups can explore the gaunt and dramatic remains of the castle, now divided in two by a deep rocky chasm, and walk the narrow and rugged trail across the wild and windswept Tintagel Island for spectacular views. An introductory video ‘Searching for King Arthur’ recreates the story of the castle and its inhabitants over the ages. Further information: Email tintagel. castle@english-heritage.org.uk or visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/ tintagel Groups of 11 or more people receive a 15% discount at English Heritage properties (10% at Stonehenge). A tour leader and coach driver are admitted free with each group. Free familiarisation visits can be arranged for the travel trade. Special themed tours are available for pre-booked groups at many properties. To discuss opportunities for group visits, or to order a complimentary copy of the 2014/15 Group Visits Guide, call 020 7973 3529 or email traveltrade@english-heritage.org.uk. April 2014 l Group Travel World

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CASTLES cclaiming the title of one of the largest inhabited castles in the country, Bamburgh Castle resides as home to the Kings of Northumbria, spanning nine acres of land and steeped in over two thousand years of history. Those visiting are privileged enough to walk amongst its volcanic foundations, consisting of whinstone – so-called due to the sound it makes after being hit by a stonemason’s hammer. Fourteen areas are open for public viewing including ‘The Keep’ which stands directly adjacent to ‘The Medieval Kitchen,’ stocked with an array of classic confectionery. ‘The Battery Gate’ provides a perfectly accessible route, winding down the Northumbrian coastline stationed 150 feet below. Previously, this would have stood as the main entrance, welcoming horse drawn carts and carriages into the castle. Home cooked food and refreshments are available to purchase at the ‘Clock Tower Tea Rooms.’ Discounted rates are available for groups upon entry and driver facilities are convenient. Those carrying young ones could choose to hire a ‘hippy chick,’ inviting the perfect opportunity to access all areas. The venue itself stands witness as the ideal destination for weddings in particular and has a solid reputation as one of the most important Anglo Saxon

Why not inject some abstract coastal scenery to accompany a trip to some of the hottest cultural and historical destinations dotted in and around the UK? Amy Moore provides just a handful of these iconic structures suitable for small or larger groups. archaeological sites to date; supported by the Bamburgh Research Project. T: 01668 214515 E: administrator@ bamburghcastle.com W: www.bamburghcastle.com Groups drawn to a persuasively realistic experience should look no further than Bodiam Castle. Situated directly opposite the river Rother, its convenient location offers the ideal opportunity for people to get stuck in. Although to this day some of it remains in ruins, the grounds play host to a range of seasonal events throughout the year, as well as reputable re-enactments from a group of enthusiastic volunteers. Visitors are guaranteed to be enthralled by the medieval castle’s striking exterior, with almost every inch surrounded by moat – yet the interior preserves a wealth of

fourteenth century antiquity and heritage. Maintained by the National Trust, a romantically picturesque castle welcomes those lucky enough to visit, situated amongst the historical settings of the late ninth century countryside. The venue can be approached by a seasonal steam train on the Kent & East Sussex Railway to Bodiam station, which is a half-mile walk away. Limited coach parking is available at the castle – prebooking is advisable. If prebooked, coach parking is free – a £5 fee is otherwise payable. The coach drop-off point is located a five to 10-minute walk from the entrance but a mobility buggy service is available. A passenger ferry runs from April through to September and is available to embark at Newenden Bridge. Once arrived, groups of all sizes can be accommodated on

picnic benches, which are also on hand for those looking to tuck into their packed lunches whilst taking the time to enjoy the stunning scenery this venue has to offer. Facilities for children include a specialised guide freely available upon entry at the ticket office. T: 01580 830196 E: bodiamcastle@ nationaltrust.org.uk W: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ bodiam-castle Those visiting will find it fascinating to discover the derivation behind Dartmouth Castle, renowned for its prominent ‘Gun Tower,’ constructed to carry canon as a defence by the townsmen of the time. Access to the top of the tower denotes breathtaking scenery from the estuary and beyond. Further remodelling to suit a Victorianesque house style, means the

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Bamburgh Castle - ROGER WARD

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‘Visitors are guaranteed to be enthralled by the medieval castle’s striking exterior, with almost every inch surrounded by moat’ - Bodiam Castle

CASTLES

pedigree Jersey Cows nearby. The castle itself is only open to the public between April and September, so those looking to explore shouldn’t hesitate. T: 01531 633160 E: enquiries@ eastnorcastle.com W: www.eastnorcastle.com

Bodiam Castle - MATTHEW HARTLEY popular English Heritage site now stands as a faux fortress, located on the brink of the Dart estuary for over 600 years. Those lucky enough to walk its grounds are guaranteed to experience a particular attention to detail, beautifully maintained amidst the sublime setting of the south west coast. Groups can be assured that there is plenty to explore, including a network of hidden passages which invite the possibility of an adventurous day out. Transport to the venue includes a luxury boat trip across the river alongside, boasting direct access to the castle itself. A discounted overseas visitor’s pass is available upon request and paying members can enjoy free access to the most intimate parts of the structure. Groups of 11 people or more can look forward to a discount of up to 15% and a group booking form is available on the castle’s website. Coaches can park in Dartmouth town centre – the castle being a mile’s walk. Alternatively, a ferry service runs from the embankment to the castle every 10 – 15 minutes. The castle is a 200-yard walk from the embarkation point. The ferry costs £2 each way for adults and £1 for children. T: 01803 833588/839618 E: customers@englishheritage.org.uk W: www.english-heritage. org.uk/daysout/properties/ dartmouth-castle A symmetrically hedged 26

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walkway invites those visiting to walk in the footsteps of royalty, with Eastnor Castle having been ranked third out of the 13 leading attractions in Ledbury on TripAdvisor. Awarded a Certificate of Excellence in 2013, this tranquil estate surrounds itself with a lush woodland meadow, accompanied by trees that are rumoured to have been planted towards the second half of the 19th century. A neighbouring lake does well to further expand the estate’s horizons. ‘The Knights Maze’ is a definite must see, labelled as the sites most popular attraction since its plantation in 1994. Installed in 2005, a rustic tower marks the centre of the maze; an additional assault course injecting a certain element of fun for children in particular. Those looking to wind down could choose to visit the ‘Castle Tea Room’ located in the former kitchen; offering a range of homemade snacks manufactured from locally sourced produce. Hot and cold beverages are available to take away for those eager to explore the grounds. For a self-guided tour, groups can visit on normal public opening days. Dedicated guided tours for groups are available on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the year – except between July 21 and August 22, when they must be pre-booked. Group organisers are admitted free of charge. The ‘Ice Cream Parlour’ provides the ideal spot in the summer, selling delicious ice cream made fresh from the

An historical destination equipped with a distinctly warming familiarity, Herstmonceux Castle currently stands as an extension of Queens University. Its name is a derivative of the family who once inhabited it - although at the time, it was renowned as one of the largest private homes in England, uniquely so because it was built out of brick born from French influence. Those visiting can get a glimpse of how the castle stood all those years ago, with homely fireplaces installed into the walls and a bay window constructed which overlooks the moat, inclusive of the stunning Elizabethan

arboretum. A surge of tourism around the 19th century soon made it a popular tourist attraction to those who found themselves embroiled in the enriching surroundings of the South Coast. Although the site is not freely open to the public, it specialises in guided group tours which are available to book from April onwards. It is recommended that larger groups book at least two weeks in advance. ‘Chestnuts Tea Room’ can accommodate parties of up to 30 people upon request, with a host of sample menus to choose from. Printed postcards also provide a perfect souvenir opportunity for anyone visiting. Perhaps take a trip to the ‘Observatory Science Centre’ which GTW highly recommends in light of the highly interactive educational experience provided. A brief trip to view the dalek-like telescopes used for star gazing is a definite highlight. On site accommodation is provided through a 1950s-style B&B

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CASTLES conveniently located 500 metres from the castle itself. T: For group bookings contact Caroline Harber on 01323 834457 E: Or alternatively email at c_harber@bisc.queensu.ac.uk W: www.herstmonceux-castle. com Former home of the prestigious Boleyn family, Hever Castle and Gardens paints the picture of a grand Tudor superstructure, with distinctive ivy patterned across its dominating exterior; visible on approach along the medieval drawbridge provided. Groups looking to tour historical properties could choose to embrace the castle’s authentic ‘Gatehouse,’ housing an array of antique weaponry and relics from the past. The archaic prayer books displayed elsewhere are a nice personal touch, inscribed by Queen Anne Boleyn herself. Meticulously laid out over four years, a splendid garden setting is what makes this destination so paramount. The ‘Italian Gardens’ invite a rather renaissance quality, displaying an array of sculptures of international affluence. The 38-acre lake spanning the estate is also marked a redeeming feature, with rowing boats available to hire on a seasonal basis for those wishing to cross. Proposed garden trails are accessible to download via the castle’s website, with an additional ‘Tudor History Trail’ tailored to group leaders in particular. Award-winning restaurants welcome reservations from

groups of all sizes, with an option to serve coffee, lunch or afternoon tea if required. Guided tours can be arranged out of visiting hours, allowing for a more intimate viewing experience. A collection of international audio tours are also available to purchase upon entry. Download the ‘Group Tour Brochure’ online for more information. T: Contact the Group Visits Co-ordinator on 01732 861701 E: Or alternatively email at bookings@hevercastle.co.uk W: www.hevercastle.co.uk On the brink of a cliff side overlooking Christchurch Bay, Hycliffe Castle’s growing importance as a remnant of the romanticist era is presented through its dominating exterior, combined with the pretty patterned garden opposite. The ‘gothic revival’ mansion currently stands under the watchful eye of Christchurch Borough Council and has since been labelled one of the most popular wedding venues in Dorset and Hampshire. The ‘Heritage Centre’ especially aims to inform and describe, accompanied by keen volunteers who are on hand to answer any queries. Exhibitions have been set up displaying the work of local artists, with a nice personal touch inclusive of black and white photographs detailing what the castle would have looked like in all its splendour. Those desiring to find out more could choose to visit the ‘Castle Staterooms’ which

Herstmonceux Castle - CREDIT: DAVEBLOGGS007 28

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Eastnor Castle - ROSE DAVIES play host to educational talks, practical workshops and evening concerts. Group discounts are available for parties of more than 10 people. Alternatively, guided tours provide an affordable luxury, with an exclusive glimpse into areas that aren’t open to the public. Castle information sheets are available upon entry and have been translated into a multitude of languages including French, Spanish and German. The ground floor of the structure is fully accessible to wheelchair users and those that require it will find they are available upon request. Why not pop down to Hycliffe Village? With a uniquely tailored trail that invites guests to witness the grave of Gordon Selfridge, former inhabitant and owner of the extravagant London store. T: For a Group Booking Form call 01425 278807 E: a.burgess@christchurch. gov.uk W: www.highcliffecastle.co.uk Over 1,000 years of history is confined within the Tower of London, directly accessible by riverboat which can depart from Westminster; crossing along the River Thames. To accommodate larger groups in particular, coach parking is available on Lower Thames Street; a mere two-minute walk from the tower entrance. ‘The White Tower’ stands iconic as the most original aspect of the tower itself, initially constructed to enforce fear upon the citizens of London. ‘Yeoman Warders’ more commonly known as ‘Beefeaters’ stand guard in

characteristic dress, hired to perform detailed guided tours of the building specifically. Once entered, memorable highlights include first hand observation of ‘The Crown Jewels.’ A choice of itinerary is available online for those seeking longer or shorter stays, detailing some of the top things to see and do. Discounted group passes are available to pre-book online or over the phone, by travel traders looking to embark on a specialised group tour in particular. Passes are valid for two years after purchase, allowing groups plenty of time to plan their expedition around the tower. ‘New Armouries Restaurant’ serves up cooked meals and light snacks inspired by the history of British food. For example, inspirational chefs choose something fitting from the season to inspire each dish served to customers. Meal vouchers are available for groups to book in advance, with a generous range of options to choose from. Additional cafés and bars are situated in the vicinity for those who perhaps fancy a taste of something different. A working drawbridge has been opened more recently – recorded as the first time in a generation. It is said to have welcomed around 193,000 group visitors over the past year. T: 020 3166 6311 E: For Group Passes contact groupsandtraveltrade. hrp.org.uk. For Meal Vouchers contact TOL@ ampersandcatering.co.uk. W: www.hrp.org.uk/ TowerOfLondon www.grouptravelworld.com

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Theatre

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T H E AT R E // N E W S

Casting announced for Regent’s Park 2014 open air season

The 2013 season at Regent’s Park saw productions of The Sound of Music and Pride and Prejudice

A number of experienced and well-known actors and actresses join the cast of three plays Casting for Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’s 2014 production of All My Sons has been announced, with further casting confirmed for Hobson’s Choice and the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. The season opens on May 15. In All My Sons, Tom Mannion and Brid Brennan will play Joe and Kate Keller along with Charles Aitken who will play their son, Chris. Amy Nuttall will play the role of Ann Deever. The production runs from May 15 to June 7. Tom Mannion is a distinguished theatre actor with recent stage roles including Victor in Arthur Miller’s The Price (UK Tour), Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls (UK Tour) and Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe). Tom has previously appeared at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in Two Gentlemen of Verona, Bartholomew Fair, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing. Brid Brennan is a Tony Award-winning Irish actress who has appeared in Dancing at Lughnasa (Broadway) for which she won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Karl Davies will play Willy 30

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Mossop in Hobson’s Choice alongside the previously announced cast which features Mark Benton as Henry Hobson. Karl Davies is best known for his long-running television roles as Robert Sugden in Emmerdale and Lyle Anderson in Kingdom. Karl has appeared on stage in The Great Game (Tricycle Theatre) and Propeller’s The Winter’s Tale and Henry V directed by Edward Hall. Mark Benton is well-known for his television roles in Early Doors, Northern Lights and Waterloo Road. In September 2013, Mark was a popular contestant on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing. Hobson’s Choice will run from June 12 to July 12. In the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, Jade Ewen will play Clara, Cedric Neal will play Sportin’ Life, Golda Rosheuvel will play Serena and Leon Lopez will play Jake, alongside the previously announced cast Rufus Bonds Jr and Nicola Hughes who will play the title roles. Jade Ewen has previously appeared in Disney’s The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. Jade is also a former member of Sugababes and in 2009 represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest performing It’s My Time written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Cedric Neal is an American

actor who appeared in the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess on Broadway. Cedric played the role of Kennard Royce in the television series Friday Night Lights. Leon Lopez is a British actor whose stage credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK tour), Rent (Duke of York’s), Tick, Tick… BOOM! (Duchess Theatre) and Piaf (Donmar Warehouse). Leon also played the long-running role of Jerome Johnson in Brookside. Golda Rosheuvel has performed on stage in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (National Theatre), South Pacific (National Theatre), Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Globe) and You Can’t Take it With You (Royal Exchange, Manchester). Celebrated as a landmark piece of American theatre, the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess will run from July 17 to August 23. Further casting for Twelfth Night re-imagined for ages six and over and To Kill a Mockingbird (August 28 – September 13, 2014) was yet to be announced when GTW went to press. Groups visiting the theatre can get £5.00-off entry. Tickets must be purchased in the same transaction and for the same performance. For further information visit www. openairtheatre.com

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH will play William Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre from August 5, 2015 to October 31, 2015. It is expected bookings will be open in May 2014. The play is directed by Lyndsey Turner and produced by Sonia Friedman Productions. Benedict Cumberbatch’s many London theatre credits include Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein at the Olivier, NT in 2011; After the Dance at the Lyttelton, NT; The City at the Royal Court in 2008; Oh What a Lovely War and As You Like It at the Open Air Regent’s Park in 2002; A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Love’s Labour’s Lost at the Open Air Regent’s Park in 2001. His TV credits include his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the BBC drama, Hawking in 2004; TV adaptation of Small Island in 2009. However it is his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series Sherlock that he is best known. His film credits include Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, and film version of War Horse. THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY (RSC) will present a ‘relaxed performance’ of Matilda the Musical on June 15, 2014 at the Cambridge Theatre. The National Autistic Society is working closely with RSC to offer full access to the theatre for people with learning disabilities and autism. The performance will provide a relaxed environment, with elements of the production adapted to reduce anxiety or stress, along with adjusted lighted and sound levels. It builds on a programme of relaxed performance which RSC has been running in Stratfordupon-Avon since 2013.

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pening this month at the Savoy Theatre, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is based on the 1988 film of the same name which starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin. It follows the story of two con men who try to settle their rivalry by being the first to swindle $50,000 (or €50,000, in the case of the theatre production) from a rich heiress. Adapted to a stage musical, the production stars Robert Lindsay (known from the BBC’s My Family) and comedian Rufus Hound, as conmen Lawrence Jameson and Freddy Benson. Samantha Bond is also an easily recognisable cast member, having appeared in several Bond films and Downton Abbey. The Savoy Theatre itself was a great venue. We’d been given seats high up in the dress circle, which felt quite far away, although there were binoculars for hire if necessary. There were one or two occasions which had us and nearby audience members leaning forward to see what was happening at the front of the stage, though. The seating was reasonably comfortable. The chairs had quite high backs and there was a fair amount of legroom – quite adequate for a show of this length with an intermission in the middle. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is certainly unusual. I don’t know why I expected different from a production with such a title, but there is quite a bit of profanity and even more innuendo, much more so than in the film it is based on. It doesn’t feel inappropriate though and the show is much more witty than it is crude. It hasn’t lost its comedic value in the transition from film to stage – it’s possibly even funnier. What I feel suffered slightly though is pacing. The production seems to take a long time to get going in the opening act and a long time to finish in the closing one after the final plot twist has been revealed (though revealed very well, I should add). The drawback of musical comedy is that the lyrics, funny as they may be, can easily be drowned out by an orchestra. The setting is good 32

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Not a nasty piece of work

JAMES DAY

for musical, involving sophisticated swindlers and top-class millionaire victims, and the production is very slick when combined with the orchestra, dancing and song, but the film itself is only 110 minutes long. I felt like the musical numbers at times seemed to just add length to something which would otherwise not be long enough to warrant two acts. Having said that, I’m not a particularly big fan of musicals generally, and I

probably enjoyed this more than any musical I’ve ever seen, so perhaps I’m being unfair. The addition of a side story between one of Lawrence’s victims and his accomplice is another diversion, although it is an entertaining one. This additional story and the added length from musical numbers does result in a loss of some of the finer details in the film, but all of the deviations from the source material are very natural.

The play certainly doesn’t take unacceptable liberties. The musical numbers aren’t excessive and what I really did enjoy was the amount of fourth-wall breaking using the conductor himself. Fourth wall breaking in my opinion is one of the absolute best sources of comedy and is brilliant if done well and not used excessively. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels gets the balance just right – it is self-aware but doesn’t make itself look stupid. My favourite example of this was when Lawrence asks the conductor whether they had missed a scene after one of his victims is unusually forward about marriage. The scene transitions are flawless. The stage is transformed so quickly and effortlessly it’s often hard to notice it happening, even though it’s rare for the lights to go down. A staircase opens up to reveal a bedroom, a train carriage window becomes a balcony from which a character sings and characters travel from place to place without leaving the stage as the setting changes around them. It’s quite impressive and results in little downtime. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is an exceptionally well produced and unusual musical. It is great for those looking for a laugh and something with a bit more maturity (or lack of it) out of the West End. n

(L-R) Rufus Hound, Katherine Kingsley, Robert Lindsay, Samantha Bond and John Marquez

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14/04/2014 09:44


T H E AT R E // R E V I E W

Twelve Angry Men – the leading courtroom drama

T

JAMES DAY

welve Angry Men is a character study, which revolves around a jury in a New York court deliberating over what appears to be an open-andshut murder case involving a teenager stabbing his father. While 11 of the jurors start off sure of his guilt, one man wishes to talk it out, gradually persuading more and more jurors to change their mind as the case unravels. I went to see the production with my father, since he is a fan of the film version, although Twelve Angry Men has enjoyed theatre showings since 1964. The play is currently showing at the Garrick Theatre, which is probably one of the best theatres I’ve visited. We sat in the stalls and had a very good view of the stage, along with so much legroom that we didn’t need to stand up to let people pass. The venue also has a dress circle and a grand circle, along with six private boxes. Despite its size, the theatre was either at or close to capacity when the production started. Twelve Angry Men is well suited to the stage. The entire story takes place in a room where the jury deliberates over whether to give a verdict of guilty or not guilty. There is no need for fancy scene transitions, choreography or

Robert Vaughn is a famous face, after his roles in 60s TV series Man from U.N.C.L.E and the BBC’s Hustle

any effects beyond the sounds of the street outside. All that remains is the raw performance of the actors on the stage. It’s perfect for dramatic theatre. Having since watched the film, I have discovered that the play is very faithful to its source material. The script is an almost word-for-word reproduction of the highly acclaimed 1957 film starring Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb, with some slightly stronger language and a few small changes where the limited props used would be too small to see. With that in mind, you

Jeff Fahey plays the fierce Juror #3 perfectly

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have to ask, why watch the play instead? Well, the production really did put the angry in Twelve Angry Men. The intensity of the acting on the stage is far greater than can be brought through the screen. The cast put across their characters’ prejudices and opinions far more forcefully than in the film, which doesn’t exactly have weak characters itself. All of the actors performed their roles excellently, with many English actors speaking in perfect New York accents. While no transitions are necessary beyond changes to lighting to highlight where in the room or the adjacent bathroom that conversations are taking place, there is one small, constant effect which is barely noticeable. This is the fact that for the duration of the play, the table at which the men sit unperceivably rotates. This gives you a good view of all of the jurors when they are seated. You’re rarely listening to a character speaking and only able to see the back of his head. The biggest difference

between the film and the production is the actors themselves. Tom Conti played the dissenting Juror #8 as a much more reserved individual, contrasting more heavily with the men he is trying to persuade. William Gaminara, known for his role in the BBC’s Silent Witness, pulls off a Brooklyn accent perfectly as he made the highly prejudiced Juror #10 into an even less likable character. Jeff Fahey was excellent as the fierce and emotional Juror #3 and the instantly recognisable Robert Vaughn (Hustle) weaved some great humour into the role of the senior Juror #9, a frail man with a bright and sceptical mind. While the production may have been around for 50 years, the reactions of many members of the audience would imply that they were unfamiliar with the story. Having known little about it before seeing it myself, I have to say it really is a must see, and the intensity of the on stage drama is well worth experiencing. About as good of a courtroom drama as you will find. n April 2014 l Group Travel World

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T H E AT R E L I S T I N G S

Theatre Listings On these three pages lists the major UK shows currently open, or about to open on the West End and beyond. Always check the details before making any arrangements

Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1500 Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM

LONDON OPENING THIS MONTH: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Fatal Attraction, Handbagged, I Can’t Sing!, Let the Right One In Duchess

Catherine Street, WC2

BAKERSFIELD MIST

Booking to: August 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1500 Length: TBC (Opens May 27) Booking Codes: AM EN GL SE TM Victoria Palace

Victoria Street SW1

BILLY ELIOT – THE MUSICAL

Booking to: May 2015 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 3hrs Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM Gielgud

Shaftesbury Avenue W1D

BLITHE SPIRIT

Booking to: June 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AM AP EN GL TM Prince of Wales

Coventry Street W1

THE BOOK OF MORMON

Booking to: June 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 20mins Booking Codes: AM AP EN GL TM

Aldwych Theatre

Booking to: September 2014 Times: 1930hrs on selected days Length: 3hrs 5mins Booking Codes: GL

Strand WC2

THE BODYGUARD

Booking to: August 2014 34

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034_036_GTW_April14 Theatre Listings.indd 34

Drury Lane WC2

CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY

Booking to: May 2015 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1500 Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AM AP EN GL SE TM Palace

Shaftesbury Avenue W1

THE COMMITMENTS

Booking to: September 2014 Times: Tue-Fri 1930, Sat & Sun 1500 & 1900 Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM Gielgud

Main House

Booking to: February 2015 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 45 mins Booking Codes: EN GL SE TM

Booking to: September 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu 1500, Sat 1600 Length: 2hrs 00mins Booking Codes: EN

Booking to: November 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1500

Palladium

Argyll Street W1

I CAN’T SING!

Booking to: October 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 20mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM Harold Pinter

Theatre Royal

FATAL ATTRACTION

Panton Street, SW1

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST

Haymarket, SW1

Booking to: June 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AM EN GL SE TM

Booking to: October 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: TBC (Opens July 17) Booking Codes: AM EN GL

Noel Coward

Duke of York’s

St. Martin’s Lane WC2

THE FULL MONTY

Booking to: June 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AM AP DY GL SE TM Arts Theatre

Booking to: August 2014 Times: Tue-Sat 2000, Sat 1700, Sun 1600 & 1900 Length: 1hr 20mins Booking Codes: AM GL TM Vaudeville

St Martin’s Lane WC2

JEEVES AND WOOSTER IN PERFECT NONSENSE

Booking to: September 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 10mins Booking Codes: AM EN GL SE TM

Great Newport Street

GHOST STORIES

Strand WC2

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS

Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 15mins Booking Codes: AM EN GL TM

Leicester Place, WC2

EPSTEIN: THE MAN WHO MADE THE BEATLES

Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Savoy Adelphi

Aldwych WC2

BRING UP THE BODIES

Theatre Royal

Length: 2hrs 35mins Booking Codes: AM AP EN GL TM

Piccadilly

Denmark Street W1

JERSEY BOYS

Booking to: October 2014 Times: Tue-Sat 1930, Tue & Sat 1500, Sun 1700 Length: 2hrs 45 mins Booking Codes: AM AP EN GL SE TM

The Strand WC2

HANDBAGGED

Booking to: August 2014

Queens

Shaftesbury Avenue W1

LES MISERABLES

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The Lion K ing

xxxxx

Booking to: October 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: 3hrs 00mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue W1

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

Booking to: September 27 Times: Mon-Sat 1945, Thu & Sat 1500 Length: 2hrs 15mins Booking Codes: GL TM Lyceum

Catherine Street WC2

THE LION KING

Booking to: September 2014 Times: Tue-Sat 1930, Weds, Sat & Sun 1430 Length: 2hrs 45mins Booking Codes: AM AP DY EN GL SE TM Adelphi

Booking to: March 2015 Times: Mon – Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1500 Length: TBC (Opens November 5) Booking Codes: GL TM

Shaftesbury Ave

MEMPHIS THE MUSICAL

Booking to: March 2015 Times: Mon – Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: TBC (Opens October 23) Booking Codes: AM GL

Phoenix

ONCE

Booking to: July 2015 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 25mins Booking Codes: AM AP EN GL SE TM

Booking to: October 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 2000, Wed 1500, Fri & Sat 1600 Length: 2hrs 00mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM

Shaftesbury Shaftesbury Avenue WC2

Lyric

Booking to: September 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1500 Length: TBC (Opens May 14) Booking Codes: AM EN GL SE TM

Booking to: September 2014 Times: Tue-Fri 1930, Sat 1600 & 2000, Sun 1530 & 1930 Length: 2hrs Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM

THE PAJAMA GAME

Her Majesty’s Prince Edward Old Compton Street W1

MISS SAIGON

Booking to: October 25 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 40mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM West Street WC2

THE MOUSETRAP

Booking to: January 2015 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Tue 1500, Sat 1600 Length: 2hrs 16mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM

Booking to: October 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM

Earlham Street WC2

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034_036_GTW_April14 Theatre Listings.indd 35

Playhouse Theatre Northumberland Ave

1984

Booking to: July 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: 1hrs 40mins Booking Codes: AM TM GL

Booking to: October 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: TBC (July 23) Booking Codes: AM DY EN GL SE TM West Street WC2

STOMP

Booking to: December 2014 Times: Mon, Thurs-Sat 2000, Thurs & Sat 1500, Sun 1500 & 1800 Length: 1hrs 40mins Booking Codes: AM AP GL TM Criterion

Garrick

Charing Cross Road WC2

TWELVE ANGRY MEN

Booking to: June 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1945, Thu & Sat 1500 Length: 2hrs 10mins 00mins Booking Codes: AM EN GL SE TM

St Martin’s Lane WC2

SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

Ambassadors

Shaftesbury Avenue WC2

THRILLER LIVE

Haymarket SW1

PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Noel Coward St Martin’s

THE 39 STEPS

Charing Cross Road WC2

Aldwych WC2

MAMMA MIA!

Booking to: October 2014 Times: Mon-Sat 1945, Thu & Sat 1500 Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM Cambridge

Shaftesbury Theatre WC2

Strand WC2

MADE IN DAGENHAM – THE MUSICAL

Novello

MATILDA THE MUSICAL

Booking to: December 2014 Times: Tue 1900, Wed-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430, Sun 1500 Length: 2hrs 40mins Booking Codes: AP DM EN GL SE TM

New London

Drury Lane WC2

WAR HORSE

Booking to: February 2015 KEY TO BOOKING CODES AM Ambassador Groups AP Applause Groups DY Disney Theatrical TM Ticketmaster Groups

GL Groupline SE SEE Groups EN Encore Tickets

When booking, please mention

Piccadilly Circus W1V April 2014 ●

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T H E AT R E L I S T I N G S Matilda

Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Thu & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 20mins Booking Codes: AP EN GL SE TM Apollo Victoria

Wilton Road SW1

WICKED

Booking to: April 2015 Times: Mon-Sat 1930, Wed & Sat 1430 Length: 2hrs 50mins Booking Codes: AM AP EN GL SE TM Aldwych Theatre

Aldwych WC2

WOLF HALL

Booking to: September 2014 Times: 1400 & 1930 on selected days Length: 3hrs 20mins Booking Codes: TM GL Fortune

Russell Street WC2

THE WOMAN IN BLACK

Booking to: January 2015 Times: Tue-Sat 2000, Tue & Thu 1500, Sat 1600 Length: 2hrs 00mins Booking Codes: AM AP EN GL SE TM

MANCHESTER Palace Theatre

Oxford Street M1

BARNUM

Booking: November 4 - 15, 2014 Times: (Touring) Length: TBC Booking Codes: AM The Lowry 36

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THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Booking: December 18, 2014 – January 10, 2015 Times: (Touring) Length: 2hrs 45mins Booking: Quay Tickets Opera House

Quay Street M3

THE FULL MONTY

Booking: September 11-20, 2014 Times: (Touring) Length: 2hrs 30mins Booking Codes: AM Palace Theatre

Oxford Street M1

JERSEY BOYS

Booking: Septmeber 4 – October 4, 2014 Times: (Touring)

Length: 2hrs 45mins Booking Codes: AM Palace Theatre

Oxford Street M1

SHREK THE MUSICAL

Booking: December 2, 2014 – January 11, 2015 Times: (Touring) Length: 2hrs 15 minutes Booking Codes: AM The Lowry

The Quays M50

WAR HORSE

Booking: July 23 – Septmeber 20, 2014 Times: (Touring) Length: 2hrs 20mins Booking: Quay Tickets The Lowry

The Quays M50

WICKED

Thriller

Booking: June 3 – July 25, 2015 Times: (Touring) Length: 2hrs 50mins Booking: Quay Tickets

BIRMINGHAM Hippodrome

CATS

Hurst Street B5

Booking: September 9 – September 27, 2014 Times: (Touring) Length: 2hrs 15mins Booking: Direct Alexandra Theatre

Station Street, B5

JERSEY BOYS

Booking: December 9, 2014 – January 4, 2015 Times: (Touring) Length: 2hrs 45mins Booking Codes: AM Alexandra Theatre

Station Street, B5

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Booking: November 25 - 29, 2014 Times: (Touring) Length: TBC Booking Codes: AM Hippodrome

Hurst Street B5

WICKED

Booking: July 9 – September 6, 2014 Times: (Touring) Length: 2hrs 45mins Booking: Direct www.grouptravelworld.com

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Experience The Household Cavalry Story in London’s Royal Heartland

Open daily from 10am The Household Cavalry Museum Horse Guards Whitehall London SW1A 2AX Tel: 020 7930 3070

www.householdcavalrymuseum.co.uk


TICKETMASTER

English National Ballet’s What do you put the enduring appeal of your production of Romeo and Juliet Q down to?

Romeo and Juliet

A

The enduring appeal is that it is the most romantic of stories; it is the most passionate of its kind in the world. From an audience point of view, the audience feel much more involved as indeed the action takes place in the round of the Royal Albert Hall and in and around the audience.

Ticketmaster Groups talks to Derek Deane, choreographer of the English National Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet which takes place at the Royal Albert Hall from 11 -22 June.

are your creative influences for the production? Q What A

When I originally created this production, I was inspired by Tamara Rojo and Roberto Bolle, two of the most exciting dancers at that moment.

are you most looking forward to about the forthcoming 2014 production? Q What A

I am very much looking forward to working with dancers who are new to the production including Carlos Acosta, Vadim Muntagirov, Friedemann Vogel and Alina Cojocaru, as well as once again collaborating with the dancers of English National Ballet.

from Romeo & Juliet, who are you most impressed with in the 2014 dance world? Q Aside A I am very impressed by Kevin O’Hare, who has taken over running the Royal Ballet. His strength and commitment is extremely exciting. I also enjoy working with Vadim Muntagirov, who is an extremely rewarding and inspiring dancer to work with. I am also truly impressed with the joy that is Natalia Osipova, a truly exquisite ballerina, who has taken London by storm.

from the world of ballet, what are your other passions in life? Q Away A

I enjoy many other passions, including other forms of theatre, cinema and reading and looking after my 50+ flock of sheep!

● Groups 10+ save 20% Tuesday – Thursday

Disney On Ice Join the celebration as more than 60 of Disney’s unforgettable characters from 18 beloved stories come to life in Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! You’ll be captivated by the one and only Mickey Mouse, the irresistible Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio and many Disney Princesses. Be thrilled by exciting moments from The Lion King; Mulan; and Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and Toy Story films; in a skating spectacular filled with magical Disney moments you’ll remember forever as Disney On Ice celebrates 100 Years of Magic! ● Groups 10+ get £2 off each ticket

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WI and non-members are welcome at Denman

COURSES

On

course Ever considered a group learning experience? Here are a couple of locations with courses and workshops available, where groups can learn or improve their skills together

T

he American Museum at Claverton Manor, Bath, takes visitors on a journey through the history of America, from its early settlers to the twentieth century. With its remarkable collection of folk and decorative arts, the Museum shows the diverse and complex nature of American traditions. The only museum of Americana outside the United States, it was founded to bring American history and cultures to the people of Britain and Europe. Schools can discover the American Museum’s collections with an engaging, interactive workshop led by its experienced learning team. Artefacts and documents are at the heart of all the museum’s learning programmes. Programmes last two and a half hours and are led by the Education Officer. All programmes have direct links to the National Curriculum at the Key Stages (KS) www.grouptravelworld.com

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Workshops are engaging at the American Museum indicated, although they can be adapted to suit other age groups. The museum is happy to design bespoke programmes wherever possible.

peoples and explore how different tribes adapted to their natural environments by examining their art, tools, and clothing. (KS 1 to 3)

History and Geography Programmes: ● Native Americans: as Varied as the Land Discover the diversity of Native American

● England and the Colonisation of America What was life like for early colonists in America? Find out about the journeys April 2014 ● Group Travel World

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COURSES made by settlers and explorers and their daily lives in the New World. (KS 1 to 3) l The American West Learn to discern fact from fiction as you use artefacts and documents to discover the history of the American West. (KS 2 to 3, GCSE) l Understanding Slavery in America Use the Museum’s object, archival, and handling collections to uncover the experiences of enslaved people, explore forms of resistance and reveal some of the slavery’s lasting legacies in the United States. (KS 3 to A level) Art, Textiles and Design Programmes: l Native American Art Explore the Museum’s Native American objects, from totem poles to feast spoons, beaded moccasins to kachina dolls and take part in a creative workshop. (KS 1 to GCSE) l Extraordinary Artists The Museum’s folk art gallery is full of art made by extraordinary, ordinary people. Explore playful, engaging art and sculpture and take part in a creative workshop. (KS 1 to 3, GCSE) l Textile Traditions Discover the Museum’s famous collection of quilts, Navajo blankets, rugs, and samplers. Get up close with our textiles handling collection and take part in a creative workshop. (KS 1 to A Level) l Booking and Costs All groups need to book in advance and will receive written confirmation of their visit. For bookings and general enquiries contact the Groups Manager on 01225 823019. School programmes cost £105 for a group of maximum 30 students. The museum can offer travel grants of up to £200 to help schools cover the cost of travel to the Museum. School programmes are available between the following dates: March 25 – October 24, Tuesday- Friday,

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Denman College boasts a purpose-built school of cookery beginning before 1130hrs. November 24 – December 12, TuesdayFriday, beginning before 1130hrs. For general group visits, the museum offers complimentary familiarisation visits for group organisers along with free admission for them on the day, free coach parking, admission and refreshments for the coach driver and introduction on arrival by a member of staff.

DENMAN COLLEGE The Women’s Institute (WI) Denman College offers a wide variety of day and residential courses in cookery, craft and lifestyle. Set in the picturesque village of Marcham, in Oxfordshire, the Georgian mansion and seventeen acres of grounds provide the pitch perfect atmosphere for learning. Visitors can choose from day schools or two to four night residential courses, presided over by tutors with vast experience in their field and a passion for imparting their knowledge to others. Courses range from novice to experienced. Everyone is welcome — men and women, WI members and non-members. The college caters for groups or friends or hen parties looking for something a bit different. There are also regular class reunion events. The top-of-the-range suite of rooms that make up The Studios has every possible facility and resource for the students, from user-friendly computer workstations to purposed art and craft workshops, and the bright and comfortable lecture theatres have full audio-visual facilities. Facilities

for disabled students are also readily available. Throughout the year the college features special events, such as its famed Jam Festival, and guest speakers, including renowned authors and chefs. Drawing on the amazing range of skills and experience of the Women’s Institute, the WI Cookery School is a modern purpose-built cookery school. It offers a full range of inspiring hands-on classes for all ages and abilities, from knife skills workshops to family baking days, sushi masterclasses to seasonal Spanish food. The school welcomes members and non-members alike and provide courses of varying lengths, from day classes to four-night residential courses for those wishing to fully immerse themselves in their chosen subject. There are also shorter evening classes as well as a Sunday Morning Bakery. Set in the grounds of a magnificent country house and fully equipped with the latest Morphy Richards appliances and kitchenware, each of the 12 workstations is kitted out with its own Stoves oven, fridge and a choice of electric or gas powered hobs. Best of all, all the laborious preparation, such as weighing out ingredients, is done before arrival, so attendees can spend more time cooking. Cookery is a great creative way of bringing people together and Denman College’s WI Cookery School often hosts teambuilding events for local companies. The college works closely with event organisers to develop bespoke cookery classes for groups of up to 24 people, and with additional seminar rooms and bedrooms on site, the venue is the perfect place for company away-days and conferences. At Christmas, the cookery school also host company parties with a difference. Attendees work together in teams under the guidance of the school’s tutors to prepare an amazing festive lunch or dinner. The school also hosts a number of press days and product launches in its Ferris Demonstration Theatre. Seating up to 100 people and fitted with ovens and an induction hob, the room is ideal for cookery book launches, food and drink tastings, and demonstrations of kitchen products and utensils.n www.grouptravelworld.com

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CLAN DONALD SKYE

Our legacy – Your experience

Gardens & Castle ~ Museum ~ Nature Trails & Walks ~ Restaurant ~ Gift Shops 4# Holiday Lodges ~ Children’s Adventure Playground ~ Wildlife ~ Armadale Activities

www.clandonald.com

Armadale, Sleat, Isle of Skye IV45 8RS T: 01471 844305 E: office@clandonald.com

Follow us online:

You Tube


SKIING FOR GROUPS A ski slope in Rastkogel ski resort (Zillertal valley). PETR NOVÁK - WIKIPEDIA

e l u R the

s e p o sl James Day examines some of the quality European ski resorts in the Alps and Russia, along with some more accessible options closer to home for groups constrained by price and time

G

roup ski trips are very popular with schools and university societies, with the resorts on offer providing all the facilities which visitors are likely to need. Visitors can spend the maximum amount of time on the slopes, never needing to leave the resort for their accommodation, to dine or for an exciting night life. The most obvious place to travel for a skiing trip is the Alps, whether your resort of choice is in France, Switzerland or Austria. However there are plenty of alternatives in Scandinavia, Russia or even Scotland. Of course, skiing and snowboarding are not for the faint hearted and if I have any advice to offer from my own experiences,

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it is not to skip safety equipment or insurance. Trying to save money by not using a helmet for my snowboarding trip resulted in four stitches in my head, and the insurance which I almost didn’t purchase saved me over£500.

LES ARCS PARADISKI, FRANCE French Ski resort Les Arcs Paradiski has five sites to choose from, depending on which experiences visitors are looking for. The area boasts 425km of pistes, 132 ski lifts and an altitude range of 1,200 – 3,250m. Arc 2000, the ‘athletes headquarters,’ is the ultimate high mountain site, with direct access to the slopes and the Aiguille Rouge massif peaking at 3,226m. It is historically linked with the emergence of

new snow related sports. Arc 1950, ‘the magic village,’ is focused on luxury, with five-star apartment hotels facing Mont-Blanc. The resort village does not compromise on skiing experience though, with visitors still able to ski-in, ski-out. Arc 1800 is ‘the meeting place for riders,’ made up of four pedestrian villages including a number of bars, shops and nightclubs. It is described as the trendy place if one wants to be permeated with the festive spirit of Les Arcs. Arc 1600, ‘the pioneer,’ is described as the family’s favourite place,’ and perhaps the best location for beginners and young groups. It is easier to reach than other areas of the resort, seven minutes via funicular (cable railway) from Bourg Saint

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SKIING FOR GROUPS Maurice high-speed railway station, which links to several major European capitals. The town of Bourg Saint Maurice is a site itself, thanks to the close links with Les Arcs skiable area. It is also a short distance from Italy should the group wish to explore across the border.

for intermediate and advanced skiers. Rosa Khutor is the better for those with a large amount of experience, with some particularly long and steep black runs. Aside from the slopes, the resorts have a fairly quiet nightlife, with a small number of hotels open. Most have bars which stay open late. There are several activities on offer such as jeeping, snowmobiling, spas and Russian baths, and a good choice of restaurants. Bookings can be made through www.crystalski.co.uk

MAYRHOFEN, AUSTRIA Set in the stunning Zillertal Valley, Mayrhofen has a well-deserved reputation among British skiers and boarders for its immense, well connected 671km ski area, which includes the snowsure Hintertux glacier, and lively après-ski scene. For freestyle skiers and snowboarders there’s the second largest terrain park in Europe. The resort is also perfect for beginners. The large, traditional-looking resort centre offers excellent shopping and a great choice of restaurants, bars and clubs that really liven up in the evenings.

SOCHI, RUSSIA The area which hosted this year’s Winter Olympics is sure to have drawn some attention. Sochi is known for consistent snowfall, which is similar to North American resorts. It also has a variety of different slopes

Sochi has just opened a new ski resort

XSCAPE SNOZONE, MILTON KEYNES

suitable for different experience levels. The resort of Rosa Khutor has been completed, which now offers one of the largest ski areas out of the choice in Sochi. Gasprom Ski Resort has a luxury hotel at its base and a large ski area accessed by a nearby gondola. Each of the resorts is unfortunately on a different pass, however. Sochi is not the best location for beginners. Although the training schools are very good, trainers tend to have poor English skills. Gasprom has the most beginner appropriate terrain on offer. However, both resorts are excellent

Of course, you don’t have to travel to the mountains to go skiing or snowboarding. Milton Keynes offers an excellent indoor 170m ski slope, covered with 1,700 tonnes of fresh snow. It’s an excellent choice for groups on a lower budget, or with less time to spare, to still enjoy snowsports on real snow. It’s also one of the best venues for lessons ahead of a trip abroad. The venue is very welcoming towards groups and corporate events, offering a number of private hire options. Groups can discuss their requirements by emailing salesmk@snozoneuk.com or by calling 0871 222 5673.■

Swiss snow until May In defiance of the mild European winter this year, Andermatt in the heart of the Swiss Alps is expecting snow to last until early May. Across Europe, snow was very thin on the ground this year and travellers were left disappointed by unopened chair lifts. Although temperatures in the lowlands are nearly reaching the 20-degree mark, there are some places where winter sports continue unimpeded. In Andermatt, snow is still plentiful and up to 20 inches of new snow fell daily throughout March. The ski area Andermatt-Sedrun includes the nearly 3,000 -meter-high Gemstock, which is currently covered in over four metres of snow. Also open for business are the areas Nätschen-Gütsch and Milez-Oberalp. Anyone heading out to Andermatt

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will have access to 120 kilometres of slopes, combining all altitudes Andermatt is one of the and levels most consistently sno wy ski resorts in the alps of difficulty. Beginners can discover the gentle some of the best in the world. slopes of the Nätschen while The region has seen heavy Andermatt is a year-round experienced skiers can take investment lately, beginning destination in the heart of the on the mighty Olympic gold with the opening of the new Swiss Alps. Andermatt Swiss medallist Bernhard Russi five-star deluxe hotel, The Alps resort is currently being black runs. For those who like Chedi Andermatt. We’re developed in Andermatt. The to ski off-piste, the countless, currently working on an complete resort will include powder slopes on Gemstock exciting new project to build six 4- or 5-star hotels, 490 attract freeriders from all new lifts and create new runs apartments in 42 buildings, over Europe. meaning Andermatt will about 25 chalets, convention Downhill legend Bernhard soon be the largest ski resort facilities as well as an Russi said “Due to its location in central Switzerland.” indoor pool and an 18-hole in the heart of the Central The Andermatt region will golf course. In addition, the Alps, snow falls in Andermatt not only prove attractive to Andermatt and Sedrun ski in almost any weather avid skiers seeking snow. In areas are being merged into conditions, earning it the addition to the new hotels, the attractive Andermatttitle of the snowiest resort in 42 apartment buildings Sedrun ski destination. the Alps. There are ski runs with 490 apartments and 25 More information is available for skiers of any exclusive chalets are being available under www. level and the freeriding is built. andermatt-swissalps.ch

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Riding T H E M E PA R K S

high

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Theme Parks are some of the most popular group destinations of all, with Alton Towers being so well recognised as a destination for coaches it has hosted the UK Coach Rally for the last two years. James Day examines what the attractions have to offer

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A

good theme park is one of the best days out around – acres of space dedicated to rides, shows, games and activities. A good theme park will have something for everybody, making it an ideal destination for a variety of groups. However, school groups are best placed to take advantage of the group offerings from most theme parks, since they offer heavily discounted rates during off-peak term time. Many parks in the UK offer similar rides, with the key differentiators tending to be the rollercoasters and educational experiences they offer.

MERLIN Many of the UK’s best known theme parks are part of Merlin group. The group owns four large theme parks, each of which is catered towards different audiences.

THORPE PARK

Blue Flash at Europa Park, Germany

Thorpe Park in Chertsey, Surrey, calls itself the UK’s thrill capital, and it’s easy to see why. The park boasts seven rollercoasters, five of which feature inversions and lean towards the extreme end of the spectrum. The Swarm is the UK’s first winged rollercoaster, where riders are seated on ‘wings’ to the side of the train. Riders can choose to travel backwards, as two rows of the train’s seats are inverted. SAW – The Ride is a combination of rollercoaster and horror experience, with rotating blades and pyrotechnics. Stealth is an enormous launched rollercoaster, where the train is catapulted from 0-80mph and 205ft in the air in under two seconds, instead of climbing a hill at the start of its course. Nemesis Inferno and Colossus are two more large rollercoasters with a number of loops, corkscrews and inversions between them. There are also six extreme tower rides, ranging from the spinning Vortex and Samurai, the swinging Rush and Slammer, or just offering a straight-up drop in the case of Detonator and Nemesis: Sub-Terra. While there are some tamer rides available, and a new Angry Birds Land opening for younger visitors this year, Thorpe Park is definitely a venue for a group looking for thrills.

CHESSINGTON WORLD OF ADVENTURES Chessington’s theme park in Surrey is at the other extreme. While there are four rollercoasters, Vampire, Rattlesnake and the brand new Scorpion Express are for the most part much smaller and more family themed than Thorpe Park’s offering. The exception is Dragon’s Fury, an unusual rollercoaster with individual cars which spin on the track. Even this rollercoaster, at 59ft high, is dwarfed by the steel beasts at Thorpe Park and Alton Towers. www.grouptravelworld.com

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However, Chessington has far more to offer than just rides, as it includes a zoo with over 1,000 animals, including lowland gorillas, sea lions and Sumatran tigers. Much of the park is themed with this in mind and it is probably its strongest selling point. This makes Chessington one of the best venues for young groups and schools, who are looking to combine a theme park experience with education. The park offers a variety of workshops and special events for schools, and can allow entry from as little as £6.50 per head for primary school children during term time.

ALTON TOWERS Probably the most famous theme park in the UK, Staffordshire’s Alton Towers is for those looking for a balance of the Thorpe Park and Chessington offerings. The park boasts eight rollercoasters, some of which are absolute classics. Nemesis, which opened in 1994, is still consistently ranked as one of the world’s best rollercoasters. It is incredibly well designed, reaching speeds of 50mph despite a maximum height of just 43 feet above the ground, and really makes the most of its four inversions and proximity to the ground. Oblivion, a vertical drop rollercoaster, has aged somewhat since it launched in 1998, with many other rollercoasters offering vertical drops with a significantly longer ride-length. However, it is not to be underestimated, with a staggering 180ft drop and top speed of 68mph, only beaten in the UK by Thorpe Park’s Stealth and the gigantic Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The most recent rollercoaster, The Smiler, is a new design of rollercoaster known as an Infinity Coaster, and launched in 2013. It holds the world record for the most track inversions on any rollercoaster, at 14, and has replaced the disused Black Hole. As impressive as the ride experience is, it has suffered from reliability issues. Other attractions include flying rollercoaster Air, launched rollercoaster Rita – Queen of Speed and Thirteen, the only rollercoaster in the world where part of the track freefalls. The classic and more tame Runaway Mine Train is still operational, as is the Sonic Spinball wild mouse. It’s not all rollercoasters though. This year Alton Towers is launching CBeebies Land, an area dedicated to the youngest of visitors with characters from the children’s TV channel. The attraction is due to open on May 24 and will have plenty of links with the primary school curriculum. There are also several water rides, a combined haunted house laser-shooting ride and the famous Hex, an experience surrounding the legend of a cursed chained oak tree which packs a big surprise. April 2014 l Group Travel World

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T H E M E PA R K S Alton Towers also has its own separate award-winning water park, with attractions ranging from a peaceful river ride to the ‘master blaster water coaster.’ While Alton Towers offers group discounts for parties of seven or more, it remains one of the most expensive parks in the country. As usual, schools can get the best rates during term time, with a number of free tickets available for teachers depending on the size of the group. Legoland’s Miniland has recreated a number of famous landmarks

LEGOLAND Legoland Windsor Resort puts the theme in theme park, completely revolving around the well known children’s construction toy. The park is clearly aimed at younger audiences, an excellent destination for young school or youth groups. Older visitors may be interested in Miniland, where the worlds landmarks are faithfully recreated using around 40 million Lego bricks, but otherwise won’t have a great deal to do. Legoland does have a large number of rides, but most of them are relatively small. While The Dragon rollercoaster dwarfs most other rides in the park, it still pales in comparison to attractions elsewhere near London like Thorpe Park. Still, that’s not really the primary reason for visiting, with many attractions geared towards education – and there are a large number of them, more than enough to fill an entire day out. Legoland is also a fantastic venue for those on a budget. School groups can gain entry to the park for as little as £6.75 per

head. You would be hard-pressed to find entry to a park with as much to offer as Legoland for less.

LARGE PARKS It isn’t just Merlin which offers a theme park experience to fill an entire day. There are several other large parks in the UK.

DRAYTON MANOR Drayton Manor is another hybrid of theme park and zoo. While it does have a handful of rollercoasters and thrill rides, it is primarily a family park. The most unique of Drayton Manor’s rides is Shockwave. It is the only standup rollercoaster in Europe (where riders are standing instead of sitting) and the only one in the world with a zero-gravity roll. The park also offers G-Force, a fairly small rollercoaster with a deceptively intense maximum G force of 4.3. Another attraction for thrill seekers is Apocalypse, a 54m drop tower. Drayton Manor is opening a new ride

Wallace and Gromit’s Thrill-o-Matic at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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The Smiler at Alton Towers holds the world record for most inversions

for 2014 – Air Race. Due to open in the summer, the stomach-churning twist-style ride will have riders soaring and diving through the air in aeroplane-style cars. Drayton Manor’s 15 acre zoo holds over 100 species of animals, including meerkats, a pair of endangered black leopards and a young Brazilian Tapir, which was born last November. Younger visitors can also enjoy Thomas Land, which has 21 rides and attractions based on Thomas the Tank Engine. Groups travelling from further afield, or simply wanting to extend their day trip, can book a stay at the onsite Drayton Manor Hotel. The four-star accommodation has 150 bedrooms, including Executive rooms, Presidential Suites and 15 Thomas & Friends rooms. The hotel also has two bars and restaurants.

BLACKPOOL PLEASURE BEACH One of the oldest theme parks in the UK and also its most visited tourist attraction, Blackpool Pleasure Beach has it all. While many of its rides are substantially older than in other parks, it certainly doesn’t weaken its offering, with 10 rollercoasters and a dedicated children’s area, Nickelodeon Land, which was rethemed in 2011. Many of the classic rollercoasters are wooden, such as the Big Dipper, built in 1923 and extended in 1938, Grand National, a dual track racing rollercoaster, and Nickelodeon Streak, a recently rebranded rollercoaster from 1933. The blue flyer children’s rollercoaster also dates back to the 1930s, while Wild Mouse, one of only three operating wooden wild mouse rollercoasters in the world, dates from 1958 and is still hailed as one of the most intense rollercoasters of its kind in existence. There’s also some heritage to be found in the park’s steel rides with Steeplechase, a three tracked racing rollercoaster, which is the last of its kind in the world. Moving to more modern rollercoasters, Revolution is a simple ride which sends a train through a loop forwards before launching it backwards. Avalanche, a rare steel bobsled rollercoaster, is sure to be popular this year following the Sochi games. There is also the rather large steel inverted rollercoaster Infusion, which is

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T H E M E PA R K S

It was the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in the world when it opened in 1994 and is still one of the UK’s most intense rides to this day. - The Big One, Blackpool

Nemesis at Alton Towers is one of the world’s best rollercoasters

Blackpool’s ‘Big One’ still towers above most other rollercoasters built completely over water. But of course, the real reason thrill seekers flock to the park is for the Big One. The steel hypercoaster’s highest point is 213ft above the ground and it reaches the incredible speed of 74mph. It was the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in the world when it opened in 1994 and is still one of the UK’s most intense rides to this day. Aside from rollercoasters, the park features five water rides and a plethora of other smaller rides to keep those who shy away from larger, scarier rides thoroughly entertained. The park’s business model is somewhat different from other parks of its size, allowing greater flexibility. Park entry costs as little as £6, but in doing so you will need to purchase individual tickets for rides. Wristbands are available giving visitors access to all rides. Essentially, visitors can pay for what they’re likely to do, great for group supervisors who do not wish to ride the park’s larger attractions. 52

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OAKWOOD Oakwood Theme Park in Pembrokeshire, Wales, boasts two seriously impressive rollercoasters which have helped transform it into a major UK theme park. Megafobia is relatively new for a wooden rollercoaster, built in 1996. However, it is very intense, with a 48mph top speed, maximum height of 83 feet and a track almost 3,000 feet in length. It’s actually a ride which is even better in the rain, when its top speed increases to 55mph. It is consistently voted as one of the best rides of its kind. Speed: No Limits is a Euro Fighter model rollercoaster with a 115ft vertical lift hill followed by a 97 degree vertical drop, allowing it to live up to its name and reach speeds of 59mph. It powers through two inversions, a vertical loop and a heartline roll. When it was built in 2006, its first drop was the steepest in the world. Water-coaster Drenched is also very impressive, with a massive 100ft plunge creating a 45ft wave to make sure bystanders aren’t safe from a soaking.

Blackpool’s child-friendly Nickelodeon Land The park also includes a ‘SkyCoaster’ which simulates freefall. It is not a rollercoaster despite its name – riders are attached to a rope and winched high into the air, before being released and swinging at high speed. It is quite expensive to ride at £36 (split between up to three riders, and not included in the park’s entry fee) but is sure to draw the attention of thrill seekers. Aside from this, Oakwood offers three smaller rollercoasters and a number of attractions for visitors of all ages. It is a very good venue for a mixed group needing many different types of rides, without the price tag of Alton Towers. It is coach friendly and offers very competitive rates for schools during term time.

FLAMINGO LAND Another park-zoo hybrid, Flamingo Land in north Yorkshire has substantially increased its offering in recent years. It actually has a lot to offer thrillseekers for a park which appears to be focused on younger visitors at first glance.

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T H E M E PA R K S

Europa Park’s Atlantica Super Splash, with wooden rollercoaster Wodan seen to the right

Hero is a flying rollercoaster which opened in 2013, but uses single cars instead of trains like Air at Alton Towers. It has an unusual spiralling lift hill, leaving more space for actual rollercoaster track. Mumbo Jumbo briefly held the title of world’s steepest rollercoaster with a 112 degree drop. The intense ride uses small cars and features a number of inversions. Kumali is one of the larger rides at the park, at a maximum height of 117 feet. An aptly-named suspended looping coaster, it has four inversions and is not for the fainthearted. Velocity, a launched rollercoaster with a train of ‘motorbikes,’ is another high intensity rollercoaster. Along with a selection of smaller rides suitable for a variety of visitors, Flamingo Land’s zoo has over 140 species of reptiles, mammals and birds, also offering a ‘be a zoo keeper’ experience. There is also a prehistoric area of the park where youngsters can become junior archaeologists.

SMALLER OPTIONS The drawback of large parks is equally large crowds, which mean long queues for the best rides, limiting what you can do with your day. Smaller parks can be a better option which may be closer to home and allows visitors to be immediately off one ride and on the next. Generally these parks are best for youngsters, although some do have more intense offerings.

WICKSTEED PARK One of the oldest parks in the UK, having opened in 1921, Wicksteed Park in Kettering is best visited during good weather and it is pleasant day out in the summer. Its best rides are its two water rides and is rather sizable swinging ship. The park does have three rollercoasters, 54

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but they are quite small, with two of them aimed primarily at young children. ‘Roller Coaster,’ the largest example, is very similar to other small steel rollercoasters and thrill seekers will find it quite underwhelming. The park is best for younger groups, with good value offers for schools, with every fifth child going free for the first 20, and every 10th child going free after that. For short visits, it might be better to simply purchase ride tickets, which come at £1.20 each.

GULLIVER’S THEME PARKS The family-run business of Gulliver’s Theme Parks has three main theme parks; Gulliver’s World in Warrington, Gulliver’s Land in Milton Keynes and Gulliver’s Kingdom in Matlock Bath. Each offers discounted rates for groups of 20 or more. All of the parks are aimed at younger visitors, with similar rides including log flumes, small rollercoasters, self-propelled cars and ferris wheels.

groups of 15+. The larger the group, the better the discount offered on wristbands, down to £12 off-peak for groups of over 100. Schools can purchase wristbands for £9 each before July 23. Free on-site coach parking can be arranged for both group and school visits.

M&D’S (SCOTLAND’S THEME PARK) For those looking for a theme park in Scotland, there is M&Ds. The park has five rollercoasters, the largest of which is tornado, a steel rollercoaster featuring a double-loop. The inverted Tsunami is another for thrill seekers, with its twists, turns and inversions. Space falls in the middle ground, while Big Apple and Runaway Mine Train are aimed at younger visitors. Along with a number of smaller water rides, junior rides and thrill rides, the park is home to an indoor rainforest, a large amusement arcade and a large indoor soft play-area for young children.

GREAT YARMOUTH PLEASURE BEACH Great Yarmouth boasts the oldest operating roller coaster in its original form in the UK. Simply called Roller Coaster, the ride opened in 1932 and has quite an impressive ride length of about three minutes 30 seconds, significantly longer than a lot of modern day rides. The park has a good mix of rides for all ages, many of which are either retro or rare. Mulan in particular could catch unwary guests by surprise, as it resembles a children’s guided car ride, before accelerating dramatically and enveloping riders in a dark canopy as they whirl around. The park is free to enter and like many smaller parks, guests have the option of either a wristband or pay-as-you-ride tokens. However it is very friendly towards

A rare example of a bobsled rollercoaster

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The tallest ride of its kind in the world and the most expensive rollercoaster ever built in the UK, the £28m behemoth stands at 167ft and reaches speeds of 63mph, with five inversions - Odyssey, Fantasy Island FANTASY ISLAND Fantasy Island near Skegness is quite a small theme park, with 24 rides, but is dominated by two massive rollercoasters, both of which are within the top five tallest in the UK. Millennium, opened in May 1999, stands at 150ft with a top speed of 56mph. Despite its speed and three inversions, the ride is extremely smooth, not nearly as terrifying as it appears. Suspended looping rollercoaster Odyssey is quite the opposite. . It is very intense indeed. Aside from its extreme rides, the park offers plenty of rides suitable for younger visitors, as well as a game zone. Entry to the park is free, with guests either paying for wristbands or paying per ride.

ABROAD For groups touring Europe or willing to go further afield, there are excellent, easily accessible options for theme parks which have proven wildly popular with visitors from the UK.

DISNEYLAND PARIS Disneyland Paris Resort is the most visited theme park in Europe. It is in fact two separate parks – Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. Both parks have an excellent mix of educational, family friendly and intense rides. Disneyland’s most intense ride has to be Space Mountain Mission 2. Completely indoors and with much of the ride in almost total darkness, the train is launched out of the station, reaching a top speed of 44mph. It reaches a maximum height of 105 feet and features a corkscrew inversion. Space Mountain is challenged by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, a runaway mine cart-style rollercoaster, which reaches a top speed of 47mph and includes a loop. There’s also the Big Thunder Mountain runaway mine train. Pirates of the Caribbean has to be one of the world’s most famous water rides,

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having inspired the series of films. It was a ride long before the films existed. Walt Disney Studios has more of a live action theme. Thrills include the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, which is also contained completely indoors and utilises a station launch. The train is catapulted into an Aerosmith concert, with 120 onboard speakers and various concert lights. The RC Racer is essentially a half loop which a large rollercoaster car is propelled back and forth on. While it doesn’t look particularly intense, many riders call it the scariest attraction in the park. Being themed around a film studio, the park has a number of stage shows and so called ‘behind the scenes’ experiences, where visitors become part of a live action film set. It is also due to open a new Ratatouille ride in July, which uses trackless technology to propel cars through an indoor ride experience. Of course, being Disney themed, both parks have plenty to offer younger guests and while the thrill rides are intense, they’re not completely over the top or full of crazy inversions. It makes Disneyland Paris a very exciting venue for younger groups. Discounts are offered to groups of 20 or more.

EUROPA PARK Germany’s biggest theme park, located in Rust to the South West of the country is well worth a visit, with over 50 rides, including 11 rollercoasters. The park has many themed areas, each made to resemble a different European country. Blue Fire in the Iceland section and Silver Star in the French are the standout rollercoasters. After a launch to 62mph in 2.5 seconds, Blue Fire reaches a height of 124ft before powering through a large number of intense inversions. Silver Star is one of the largest rollercoasters in Europe and is much higher and faster, with a max height of 239 feet and a max speed on 78.9mph, although it does not feature inversions. Euro-mir is a strange rollercoaster modelled on the Russian space station Mir with spinning cars, in which riders are seated back to back in pairs. EuroSat has a similar theme and a similarly lengthy build-up time before spiralling down the inside of a cylindrical tower. Other rollercoasters include a bobsled coaster, a wild mouse, a relatively new wooden rollercoaster and several less intense options. For those wanting to avoid the rollercoasters, there is a plethora of other rides to choose from. The park is opening several new attractions in its enchanted forest area this year which are mostly aimed at younger visitors, including a powered, family-friendly rollercoaster Arthur. n

l ALTON TOWERS T: 0871 222 3330 W: www.altontowers.com l CHESSINGTON WORLD OF ADVENTURES T: 0871 663 4477 W: www.chessington.com l DISNEYLAND PARIS T: 08448 008 898 E: dlp.uk.grps@disneylandparis.com W: www.disneylandparis.co.uk l DRAYTON MANOR T: 0844 472 1950 E: info@draytonmanor.co.uk W: www.draytonmanor.co.uk l EUROPA PARK T: +497822 776688 E: info@europapark.de W: www.europapark.de l FANTASY ISLAND T: 01754 615858 W: www.fantasyisland.co.uk l FLAMINGO LAND T: 0871 9118000 W: www.flamingoland.co.uk l GREAT YARMOUTH PLEASURE BEACH T: 01493 844585 E: info@pleasure-beach.co.uk W: www.pleasure-beach.co.uk l GULLIVERS THEME PARKS T: 01925 444888 W: www.gulliversfun.co.uk l LEGOLAND T: 0871 2222 001 E: legoland.enquiries@ merlinentertainments.biz W: www.legoland.co.uk l M&DS T: 01698 333777 E: info@scotlandsthemepark.com W: www.scotlandsthemepark.com l OAKWOOD T: 01834 815170 E: info@oakwoodthemepark.co.uk W: www.oakwoodthemepark.co.uk l THORPE PARK T: 0871 663 1673 (School trips 0871 282 5126) W: www.thorpepark.com l WICKSTEED PARK T: 01536 512475 E: information@wicksteedpark. co.uk W: www.wicksteedpark.co.uk

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SHOPPING

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shopping

hose looking to rub shoulders with the more sophisticated side of the capital should look no further than Chic Outlet Shopping in Bicester Village, inviting the opportunity for guests to dabble amidst 900 unique boutiques, selling a wide range of top quality designer brands. Since its launch in 1992, the outdoor village has looked to entice groups into a luxury shopping experience, made easily accessible through a specialised coach and chauffeur service direct from central London. Shopping packages are available to book online and can be specifically tailored to suit groups of all abilities. Hands-free service is the ideal application for those looking to visit for leisure, and for ultimate relaxation, why not opt for a two course lunch or dinner at three of the attraction’s finest restaurants? Other personal touches include a children’s play area situated opposite the Villandry Grand Café, making it the perfect spot for families seeking a relaxing day out. Perks for groups include a visitor centre, which aims to provide key information regarding accommodation, facilities and other local attractions, so guests shouldn’t fall short on what this high ranking attraction has to offer.

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The Chic Outlet Shopping at Bicester Village is easily accessible and offers 900 unique boutiques

From spacious shopping centres to mini market stalls, groups can browse to their hearts content, with a vast selection of tourist friendly destinations made readily available throughout the UK, writes Amy Moore Manchester, offering late night shopping every weekday until 2200hrs. Sport and leisure brands are inclusive to the top quality shopping experience provided, which does well to add a spark that sets the venue apart from its competitors. Located five miles from the city centre, groups could choose to travel via coach, train, bus, tram, or even air to get to their destination, as transport links available can accommodate larger groups in particular. Perhaps make the visit memorable with a trip to the second floor of the building, which plays host to Laser Quest and Adventure Golf. Two generously seated cinemas offer visitors a chance to relax amidst the bustling atmosphere of the shopping centre itself. Costa Coffee is also located nearby, with a main café downstairs welcoming the chance to unwind after a long day. The venue entertains a range of consumer friendly events throughout the year, including fashion and home shows, more of which can be viewed on their Pinterest page. T: 0161 749 1717/1718 E: marketing.traffordcentre@intu. co.uk W: www.intu.co.uk/traffordcentre

At Lakeside Village Outlet in Essex, the philosophy is to allow for comfort and convenience by offering good quality products at bargain prices. Anyone who chooses to visit will find it almost impossible not to revel in cheerfully cheap purchases courtesy of the 45 well known outlets provided, currently boasting up to 60% off in selected stores and late night shopping on a Thursday. The complex itself is conveniently close at hand to various other attractions that can comfortably accommodate groups, with a Premier Inn nearby for those seeking a longer stay. Groups travelling by coach are welcomed by a designated drop off point and ample parking upon request. Free wheelchair hire is available upon disembarkation for any visitors who require it and guide dogs are permitted throughout the centre. Coach drivers especially can enjoy a number of perks including a £5 gift voucher to spend if they cater for 20 passengers or more. A free coach information pack is graciously provided for those who book in advance. T: 01302 366444 E: ppanks@realm.ltd.uk W: www.lakesideretailpark.co.uk

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ADVERTORIAL PROMOTION

CHIC OUTLET SHOPPING® LAUNCHES FOUR MICE PRODUCTS ACROSS THE COLLECTION OF NINE LUXURY OUTLET SHOPPING VILLAGES IN EUROPE

Chic Outlet Shopping®, the Collection of nine Villages across Europe is launching a new group and events strategy following the success of the Villages as locations for the MICE market. Four products are being introduced to appeal to the MICE market. The strategy will see Chic Outlet Shopping® partner with corporate and agency organisations, venues, convention bureaus, congress centres and communication and brand experience agencies to host bespoke events, groups meetings and incentives at the Villages. Chic Outlet Shopping® aims to host around 800 events across the Collection of Villages in 2014. The Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages have already seen 36,000 delegates from 41 countries attend 480 events across the nine locations so far in 2013. Chic Outlet Shopping® is looking to increase that number with the launch of four distinct products aimed at the MICE market: Groups – Convention or corporate stand-alone meetings and events, incorporating a shopping experience into the partner or main programme. Services include priority food and beverage reservations and access to a VIP hospitality area in the Villages and can be combined with visits to other sites of tourism interest, such as whisky tasting in Kildare or a Ferrari experience in Milan. Special Events – One-off events incorporating sponsor branding and the use of the Village on a large group or sole-hire basis (generally between 300 and 2,000 guests), including bespoke private access to boutiques and hospitality options. Meetings – Use of VIP Lounges or other facilities for a personalised, ‘different’ location for a VIP meeting experience.

Incentives – Gift Card based employee and customer reward solutions As Desirée Bollier, Chief Executive of Value Retail Management, explains, the Villages provide a unique product for the MICE sector; “In any trip of three days or more, at least one of those days will involve shopping. Business and leisure travellers all love to shop while they are away. 30 million people from

around the world visited the Villages last year and enjoyed the mix of international brands and hospitality services. But, increasingly, we’re finding that companies want to align themselves with the unique ‘open air’ ambience and experience of the Villages as a channel to their customers and staff. Our new strategy and four distinct products will enable companies to do that even more easily”. The Villages provide a mix of luxury international and local brands, all offering their previous seasons’ collections with savings of up to 60% on the recommended retail price all year round. The Villages also offer a range of hospitality services including multilingual hosts, chauffeur-driven transport, a ‘shop and drop’ hands-free service, personal shoppers, VIP Lounges and valet parking. Companies can access all of the hospitality services in the Villages for their staff and customers including arranging prepaid Gift Cards for them to spend during their visit, and VIP Cards, which enable guests to enjoy a 10% reduction in participating boutiques. As Thibault Ruffat, Head of European Tourism, explains, Chic Outlet Shopping® expects high demand for its four MICE products from Europe as well as from further afield; “Good value luxury is an ideal fit for many companies as people will never stop aspiring and the Villages provide a perfect platform for companies to deliver their event objectives and for corporate, convention and trade show groups to incorporate into their programmes. “We’re expecting good demand in our four MICE products from the under-developed European MICE market but also expect to see a lot of continued interest in particular from Asia for single or multidestination incentive trips”.


SHOPPING

The former role of the site now occupied by Bluewater as a chalk quarry and its transformation into a pleasant shopping park is obvious in this view

Glass panels dominate the open plan structure of Westfield Stratford City, home to around 250 stores and conveniently located close to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. All day parking is available at a reduced rate until the end of June and those choosing to travel by foot can enjoy a highly pedestrianised route direct from Stratford City Centre. The venue is wheelchair friendly and offers mobility scooter hire at an affordable price. A 20-bay coach park has been installed to accommodate larger groups and parties must be booked at least 24 hours in advance. A specialised concierge service offers bag storage for those looking to travel light and a personalised welcome is available upon disembarkation. Welcome packs are provided, complete with mall directory, and a guided tour is ideal for those looking to make the most of their indoor shopping experience. Those looking to expand their palette have the deluxe choice of 70 places to dine, including a unique international fine dining experience at the World Food Court. In regards to leisure, the building is home to one of the UK’s first super casinos, open to the public 24 hours a day, seven days a week. T: 0208 221 7308 E: wscconciergeservices@westfielduk.com W: For coaches looking to book, visit www.wscdeliveries.com to make a reservation. A highly accessible unique shopping experience under one roof, The Mill Outlet in Batley is named as the UK’s biggest retail mill; housing over 40 brand and high street stores. 58

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The Guildhall at Bluewater Customers are welcomed with savings of up to 70% on selected fashion, homeware and gift items, with suggested group favourites including Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Cotton Traders and The Sweet Emporium. There is even a butcher’s shop, hair salon and a garden centre thrown into the mix for ultimate comfort and convenience. Four diverse eateries serve the likes of stone-baked pizza through to traditional tea room fare. Independently occupied restaurants are also on the menu and invariably deliver top quality service. It is recommended that bookings are made well in advance to the restaurant of choice. Passengers on coach trips in particular are more inclined to receive discounted vouchers that can be used upon arrival, as well as 20% off food at any of the four deluxe restaurants available. Coach drivers receive a free meal and a £15 cash payout for their trouble. Guests wishing to visit can download a ‘Group Visitor Guide’ from

the shopping centre’s website. Fam visits are also welcome. T: For group visits contact Paula Hammerton on 01924 423172 E: Or alternatively email groups@ themillbatley.com W: www.themillbatley.com Currently celebrating 15 years of retail since its opening in 1999, Bluewater in Kent effortlessly combines bags of designer boutiques, the tantalising taste of exquisite cuisine and a vast array of indoor and outdoor activities guaranteed to keep groups entertained. Those visiting may be interested in the history of the iconic structure, which was once a chalk quarry, is actually the height of 10 double-decker buses. It now remains a hub of hustle and bustle, welcomed by 330 high street stores and 55 places to dine, meaning the 28.1 million visiting

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SHOPPING each year are undoubtedly spoilt for choice. The venue’s heightened appeal can also be reflected in its commitment to retail sustainability in which it won a Green Apple Award in 2012. A spacious events suite plays host to a number of inspiring conventions, making it a must visit venue for any group. International tourists in particular, can enjoy tax-free shopping, as well as a number of bureau de change sites dotted throughout the building. Those seeking a mini-break especially could choose to venture out onto the boating lake nearby, or perhaps even relax with a sit down picnic amidst acres of sublime woodland scenery. T: 01322 475475 E: See website for details W: www.bluewater.co.uk Model fashion, extravagant displays and celebrity appearances can all be found at Victoria Square in Belfast, now offering late night opening between Wednesday and Friday until 2100hrs. Getting there is easy, as the building is situated at the heart of Belfast city centre and boasts an on-site car park for anyone travelling by road. The venue can also be accessed by public transport. 24-hour access is granted to those who require shop mobility, those with special needs and parent and baby priority, meaning guests are rarely in a rush to leave. 70 deluxe stores and restaurants are on hand to those visiting and students that sign up online can enjoy discounts of up to 10% on selected stores, ideal for those on a tight budget. The destination itself aims to sit right on trend, dazzling with that added personal touch when it comes to shopping for a special occasion. A personal stylist is also available to book if required. Further events are held throughout the

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The Mill Outlet offers a variety of fashion brands year for kids and adults alike, including its standing as the local venue for this year’s X Factor auditions. T: 028 9032 2277 E: customerservices@ victoriasquare.com W: www.victoriasquare.com Though it’s often considered a regular hot spot for students, WestQuay in Southampton resides over 100 shops tailored to the likes of sport, travel and fashion. ‘Inside Out Art’ located in the Upper Mall is a recommended must see for anyone looking to purchase a memento of their trip to the south. A separate dining level is available in the mall itself, catering to an array of international palettes including the likes of Yo! Sushi and Wagamama. Visitors would be intrigued to discover that WestQuay is the first location to have been awarded the Sustainable Standard Award by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). A mere five minute walk from Southampton Central train station means it’s almost impossible to miss. Alternatively a shuttle bus runs every 10 minutes direct to the shopping centre itself. Ferry link “Red Funnel” have a specialised route constructed between Cowes and Southampton Docks, perfect for those looking to transport vehicles, with an average of 55 minutes crossing time. Once arrived, a dedicated drop off point is available on the Lower Shopping Level, flaunting first class access. Visitors looking to get a taste of those renowned Swedish meatballs could choose to pop to Ikea which is located directly opposite.

T: For information regarding ‘Red Funnel’ ferry links call 0844 844 9988 or alternatively 023 80 236789 for general enquiries regarding WestQuay. E: info@west-quay.co.uk W: www.west-quay.co.uk Churchill Square’s dominating exterior does little to conceal the fact that it stands mere minutes away from Brighton Seafront and boasts direct connections to the North and South Laines. An approximate 10 minute walk from the city’s main rail station, it is often recommended that guests turn right by the clock tower to find themselves immersed in the liveliness of the city. Those driving are welcomed by an inexpensive car park that can house around 1,600 cars at a time. ‘Spud U Like’ is a definite must for those looking to stop off for something cheap and cheerful to eat, or alternatively venture out to ‘Foodilic,’ which GTW would highly recommend to boost any itinerary, offering a buffet with the likes of spinach leaves doused in garlic and a finely chopped vegetable cous cous. More fresh produce is provided to those through the Local Farmer’s Market held every Wednesday at The Piazza. Brighton Open Market is set to open in May 2014 with plans to run from Monday to Saturday. Entry is free of charge, with pop up stalls selling a range of unique market products. T: 01273 327428 E: cservices@churchillsquare.com W: www.churchillsquare.com www.grouptravelworld.com

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Since its foundation 23 years ago the CTC has become the leading organisation for promoting travel and tourism by coach

C TC B U L L E T I N From Paul Ovington, CTC Public Relations

Record attendance of 180 at the 2014 Coach Holiday Conference in Chester The 2014 Coach Holiday Conference not only attracted a record number of 180 delegates to the Best Western Premier Queen Hotel in Chester but was also voted the most successful yet. The conference speaker line up was certainly impressive – being chosen to relate to both sides of the industry. Richard Lewis, CEO of Best Western, Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory producer, Caro Newling, all underlined the importance of coaches and groups to their businesses. The event got off to a lively start with pre dinner drinks hosted by Marketing Cheshire and Chester Zoo. At the gala dinner guests generously supported a raffle in aid of the Family Holiday Association – we are hugely grateful to the many

Press coverage Coach tourism continues to get a good press and not just through features appearing as a result of CTC-organised press trips. The Sunday Mirror recently carried a double page feature under the banner Top 10 Coach Tours to Europe www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/ travel/top-10-european-coachtrips-3147087) while in the Daily Telegraph Anthony Peregrine, a long time supporter of travel by coach, summed up why group travel is best and why it should not be ignored www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/ destinations/europe/10633054/ Escorted-tours-a-renaissance-forguided-holidays.html. Features promoting coach tours to Luxembourg have appeared in the Daily Express, Mature Times, My Weekly and the Kent Messenger. A press trip to Belfast and Northern Ireland has to date produced features in My Weekly, People’s Friend, Silver Travel Adviser and Savista. 62

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The speaker line up was carefully selected

suppliers who donated more than 30 fantastic prizes which all helped raise £1500 for the charity. Marketing Cheshire also ran a fam trip for delegates taking in Chester Zoo, Chester

Cathedral and Chester’s historic centre as well as an entertaining Ghost walk trail. Special thanks goes to The Queen Hotel and the Feathers Group for hosting the event

and to their enthusiastic staff for helping to make everything run so smoothly. We are also indebted to Best Western Hotels and Marketing Cheshire for supporting the event.

Newmarket group race day Newmarket Racecourses’ Group Tourism Race Day will be held on Friday, May 30 on the world famous July Racecourse when coach operators and group travel organisers will have the opportunity to experience a fabulous day at the races for just £5 each,

before arranging a formal group trip within the Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure. This is an advanced offer only so to book your place contact Michelle at michelle.kerr@ thejockeyclub.co.uk or call 01638 675500 option 4 – quoting GTRD2014.

The offer is open to coach operartors and GTOs

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Specialising in Group Bookings

Delicious pre-packed meals for groups on the go Free delivery to Central London before 8am.

We have been providing a range of high quality, freshly-prepared varied Lunch Packs and Breakfast Packs for tour operators and for organised tour groups since 1999. Lunch packs from just £4.80.

Restaurant bookings in and around London Group Restaurant bookings from just £12 for 2 courses & drink

London Dungeon, Madame Tussauds Tickets up to 50% cheaper

“Love All – Serve All”

Telephone: 0208 930 0119 / 0208 930 0123 Email: admin@londonlunchbox.com www.londonlunchbox.com


LO N D O N N E W S From Louisa Jackley Senior Marketing Manager – Travel Trade

London News is brought to you by London & Partners, the official promotional organisation for London. For more information on London go to: visitlondon.com

London Galleries

L

ondon is home to some of the best museums and galleries in the world – many of which are free. Spend a few hours in the National Gallery, Design Museum and V&A Museum where you can browse the permanent collections at no cost. During the year, these amazing spaces also host a number of exquisite exhibitions with special rates for groups. Find out more here...

Colour National Gallery, 18 June 7 September 2014 The first of its kind in Britain – this exhibition offers visitors an exceptional opportunity to take a journey through the history of colour by exploring the wide-ranging materials used to create colour in paintings and other works of art. Using the Gallery’s own spectacular paintings across the breadth of the collection, and the worldclass expertise of the National Gallery’s scientific department, visitors will understand not only the history of the use of colour, but also the origins and developments of the physical materials themselves. By following trade routes and exploring artistic experimentation over 700 years, the exhibition explores the material problems faced by artists in achieving their painterly aims.

The splendid interior courtyard and gardens at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington works. The exhibition will highlight the formal and iconographic concerns that occupied Rembrandt during the later years and inspired unprecedented creativity that defines our image of Rembrandt. The display will include key works lent by European and American museums.

Louis Kahn: The Power of Architecture Design Museum, 9 July - 12 October 2014 The American architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974) is regarded as one of the great master builders of the Twentieth Century. Kahn created buildings of

Rembrandt: The Final Years National Gallery, 15 October 2014 - 18 January 2015 The exhibition, in collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, is the first ever in-depth, focused exploration of Rembrandt’s late works across all media. Rembrandt: The Final Years will bring together approximately 40 paintings, 20 drawings and 30 prints by the master, to offer visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the passion and innovation of Rembrandt’s late www.grouptravelworld.com

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monumental beauty with powerful universal symbolism. This exhibition encompasses an unprecedented and diverse range of architectural models, original drawings, travel sketches, photographs and films. Highlights of the exhibition include a four-metrehigh model of the spectacular City Tower designed for Philadelphia (1952-57), as well as previously unseen film footage shot by Kahn’s son Nathaniel Kahn, director of the film ‘My Architect’. The exhibition also includes interviews with leading architects including Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano and Sou Fujimoto underscoring the significance and legacy of Kahn’s work.

Constable: The Making of a Master

Romanesque columns outside the Victoria and Albert Museum

V&A, 20 September 2014 - 11 January 2015 This exhibition will reveal the hidden stories of how Constable created some of his most loved and well-known paintings. It will present Constable’s work for the first time alongside the old masters of classical landscape such as Ruisdael and Claude whose compositional ideas and formal values he revered and studied in great depth.The exhibition will also examine

Constable’s collection of over 5,000 etchings, a vital resource for his own image making, as well as the mezzotints of his paintings made in the last decade of his life to secure his lasting legacy. For the latest information on all that’s going on in London in 2014, go to www. visitlondon.com

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Follow us on LinkedIn Our LinkedIn group, ‘London & Partners – Travel Trade’ is constantly growing. Join us for up to the minute news and discussion with your peers in the travel trade.

Travel Trade Website Our travel trade website is designed to help you sell London to your clients, check it out now! londonandpartners.com/ traveltrade

April 2014 ●

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11/04/2014 09:39


UKINBOUND NEWS By Amy O’Donovan, Marketing & Events Executive UKinbound

Ships, Stadiums and Museums

M

arch is always a busy month and this year certainly didn’t fail. My colleagues Eric White and Flavia Messina attended Best of Britain and Ireland (BoBI) at the NEC, Birmingham and I joined them the following week at March Marketplace (MAMA) in Wembley Stadium. It was my first year attending MAMA, an impressive event that involves two days of B2B workshops. It was great to be there representing UKinbound and we met a variety of new potential members. March also saw our first Discover Workshop of 2014. In partnership with VisitBritain and Tourism South East, we invited tour operators to the south coast for our Discover Hampshire Workshop. Local suppliers in the region had a productive networking session with the UKinbound tour operators’ members at the Portsmouth Marriott Hotel. The group of tour operators were then delighted with a familiarisation trip around the Hampshire region for an exclusive tour showcasing what Hampshire has to offer. We enjoyed a networking evening at The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard which opened its doors last May. It was a beautiful setting and we were treated to a VIP tour. The Mary Rose was built in Portsmouth, and was launched in 1511. She sank during an engagement with a French invasion fleet just two kilometres from the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. It is a real piece of Porstmouth history and

The Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, close to HMS Victory its story spans almost 500 years. It is open for events and tours all year round. If you are interested, please visit their website: www.maryrose.org. Our new Chief Executive, Deirdre Wells, OBE spoke at our first General Meeting in March addressing the membership giving her ideas and plans for the Association. The meeting was held on board the William B, courtesy of Thames Leisure. We are looking forward to working with her and we are excited about UKinbound’s future. We also welcomed new members; Houses of Parliament, Regent Street Association and Harry Shaw into membership. During a recent trip to Liverpool, I visited the new Liverpool Football Club Museum. Featuring unique and never

Portsmouth’s famous harbour area

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The Liverpool Football Club museum seen before displays that combine the history of LFC alongside its modern day stars, fans can explore football - past and present - through amazing exhibitions, looking at the game from every angle, telling the stories that matter. They offer a multimedia handset which offers a personalised 40 minute commentary by Phil Thompson who shares his experience of being a major part of the world’s greatest football family. I really enjoyed the tour and would highly recommend it, especially to football fans. UKinbound Summer Ball tickets are now available on our website. It is taking place at Chelsea Football Club on Wednesday 18 June. Book now to avoid disappointment.

www.grouptravelworld.com

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For Group Travel Organisers, a page with useful tips, tourism gossip and travel product reviews

GTO GRAPEVINE

The 2014 UK Coach Awards T

he sixth annual UK Coach Awards, held at the Piccadilly Hotel Manchester on Thursday, April 10, were voted a great success by all who attended - and particularly the winners of 18 Gold Awards, who covered the whole range of disciplines involved in planning, marketing and operating coach services. Hosted by the multi-award winning BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, the annual presentation ceremony presented a special lifetime achievement award for Services to the Coach Industry to Selwyn Jones, Managing Director of RATP Dev subsidiary Selwyns Travel. Awards given were as follows:

Anthony’s Travel won the ROSCO award for innovation in road safety

Top Large Fleet Operator ● Gold Award: The Kings Ferry ● Silver Award: National Express ● Bronze Award: Shearings Holidays ● Highly Commended: Reays Coaches Top Medium Fleet Operator ● Gold Award: Excelsior Coaches ● Silver Award: Maynes Coaches (Maynes of Buckie) ● Bronze Award: Johnsons Coach & Bus Travel ● Highly Commended: Anthony’s Travel, DJ Coaches Top Small Fleet Operator ● Gold Award: Woods Travel ● Silver Award: Tynedale Group Travel ● Bronze Award: G-Line Holidays ● Highly Commended: Jay & Kay Coach Tours ● UK Coach Operator of the Year ● Gold Award: The Kings Ferry Awards for industry people included:

The GTW staff enjoying their time at the awards ceremony Award for Support Staff ● Gold Award: Matthew Herbert, Shearings Holidays ● Silver Award: David Bennallack, Excelsior Coaches Award for Customer Service ● Gold Award: Denise Fry, Woods Travel ● Silver Award: Lisa Popely, Jay & Kay Coach Tours

Top UK Coach Driver ● Gold Award: Andy Daw, Johnsons Coaches ● Silver Award: Michael Sinclair, Reays Coaches Ltd ● Bronze Award: Paul Smythe, Woods Travel ● Highly Commended: James Dearden, Anthony’s Travel; Geoff Singer, Lawton’s Executive Coaches

News Regional Attractions s

Group Rate

ation

Accommod

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For the latest news, reviews and exciting features ● April 2014

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Unsung Heroes Award ● Gold Award: Golam Rabbani, National Express UKCA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service: Lewis Jacklin, Johnsons Coaches Paul Turner, National Express Engineer of the Year ● Gold Award: Richard Ball, National Express

»

Inspirational Days Out & Holidays www.grouptravelworld.com

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GTO GRAPEVINE Services to the Coach Industry ● Gold Award: Selwyn Jones, Selwyns Travel Young Coach Industry Professional ● Gold Award: Paul Godwin, Travel de Courcey Technical and professional awards included: Coach Marketing - Larger Operators: ● Gold Award: Stagecoach Group plc, for Megabus UK ● Silver Award: National Express for Instant Getaways ● Bronze Award: Shearings Holidays, for “Keep Making

Memories” ● Highly Commended: National Express for Military Partnership Small & Medium Enterprises: ● Gold Award: Johnsons Coach & Bus Travel, for Summer 2014 Brochure Launch ● Silver Award: Greys of Ely, for Viral Social Media ● Bronze Award: Anthony’s Travel, for ● Promotion and Brand Awareness Coach Travel Programme ● Gold Award: Johnsons Coach Travel ● Silver Award: Shearings

The King’s Ferry won the top award for UK Coach Operator of the Year Holidays, Grand Tourer ● Bronze Award: Edwards Coach Holidays ● Judges’ Special Commendation: NMC Tours Ltd (Gardiners NMC)

The ROSCO Award for Innovation in Road Safety ● Gold Award: Anthony’s Travel ● Highly Commended: Hunt’s Coaches

Making Coaches a Better Choice ● Gold Award: National Express - Military Partnership ● Silver Award: uTrack & The Kings Ferry - Dynamic RTI ● Bronze Award: Birmingham City Council, Birmingham Christmas Markets

Technology and Innovation Award ● Gold Award: Stagecoach Group plc for megabusGold.com ● Gold Award: uTrack & The Kings Ferry, for Dynamic RTI ● Bronze Award: Gauntlet Group, Embracing Technology for Operators

5 of the best: portable power chargers Veho Pebble Smartstick Power Monkey Extreme £120 Embrace the upcoming summer season with a compact device that can be charged anywhere within the vicinity of sunlight. Encased in a solid black unit, built-in solar panelling provides the capable luxury of charging anything from a smartphone to a tablet computer. The total weight and size of the product also means travellers won’t be struggling for space. Once purchased, the kit is inclusive of a universal mains charger and a swanky black travel pouch. Additional functions include shock resistance and water resistance for up to one metre. The device will flash green when fully charged.

www.cotswold outdoor.com

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7W Solar Usb Charger

From £10.00

Arguably withholding the childlike appearance of rocket, this device is quirky and fun, capable of launching a power increase of up to 30% for smartphones and up to 50% for iPods. Ideal for the standard emergency scenario, it is in fact petit enough to place in the palm of one’s hand and all it requires in return are two AA batteries; in which it is compatible with all. Further perks include a built-in flashlight that can be easily activated through the simple click of a button. Purchase comes with a string sealed travel pouch and a range of mobile adapters.

Aptly-named after its uniquely streamlined appearance, the Pebble Smartstick is both functionally and phonetically enticing. The miniature gadget aims to provide emergency power for mobile devices exclusively and has the impressive capability to fully charge a portable device in one sitting. Other key features include its availability in four stylish colours, a vibrant charging indicator that flashes blue and red depending on charging status and its diverse compatibility with most modern versions of Apple. These include iPhone and iPod – in addition to Blackberry, Sony Ericsson and devices that use mini or micro USB. With a weight of just 70g, it will hardly add to any additional baggage.

www.picstop.co.uk

www.mymemory.co.uk

Powerchimp lite £19.99

● April 2014

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£39.99

Lepow Moonstone £39.99 With rave reviews from national publications such as the Daily Mail, the Lepow Moonstone is a free standing power bank for devices in need of some juice without access to mains. The gadget itself is compact enough to fit inside a jacket pocket, ideal for those always on the go. Low maintenance equals an efficient portable power source worthy of a dual power output. Safety features include an ‘anti-override’ application and the option to switch to ‘sleep mode’ means it can remain dormant for up to six months. It’s sealed in environmentally-friendly packaging, which can be recycled after use. www.moonjus.com

For those who perhaps require a larger sized solar charger, this trendy accessory is lined with a functional, water resistant pouch designed to hold the device being charged. It is light enough to be attached to a backpack and thin enough to be freestanding if required. Amongst being able to power up an array of smartphones, it criteria spans that of battery packs - even in slightly cloudy conditions. A voltage controller has been built in, meaning an individual battery pack if not necessary for initial use. An instructional video is available online for those seeking more information. www.portablepower supplies.co.uk

www.grouptravelworld.com

11/04/2014 17:43


p00_GTW_0214 Harry Potter

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p00_GTW_0414 Chessington

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Group Travel World : April 2014  

Group Travel World : April 2014

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