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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2008

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The Daily Telegraph

The bestof 2008 Your 16-page guide to the world’s top holiday destinations, hotels, tour operators, airlines, cruises and services — as voted for by readers of Telegraph Travel

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Saturday, November 29, 2008 telegraph.co.uk/travel


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THE BEST OF 2008 EUROPE

The Daily Telegraph

ABOUT THE AWARDS Telegraph readers have a talent for spotting quality and rewarding it with loyalty. This is the clear message from this year’s results in the Telegraph Travel readers’ poll. This annual survey is the largest and most influential study of Britain’s travelling habits — and this year is more authoritative than ever. More than 40,000 questionnaires were sent by email to readers of the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph — resulting in more than10,000 extra participants than last year. The results, recorded in this supplement, show a remarkable consistency despite the number of new voters. Winners in a number of categories have come top before — Tripadvisor, Titan Travel and Singapore Airlines among them. Most notably, perhaps, Trailfinders has come top of the Specialist Travel Organiser class every year since 2001, a record in the Telegraph Travel Awards. The conclusion is irresistible: that if you provide outstanding and memorable service, discerning travellers, such as Telegraph readers, will come back time and again. It is plain, however, that such favoured status has to be earned afresh each year. Italy and New Zealand have held on to their crowns as preferred European and worldwide destinations respectively, but Cape Town has ousted Sydney as favourite World City. Neilson has beaten all of last year’s top five ski companies, including the usual favourites such as Thomson and Crystal Holidays. Likewise, Celebrity Cruises comes out top, above Cunard, Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen and P&O Cruises, as Telegraph readers’ favourite cruise line. Yet York holds on to its Best UK City award once again, because it works hard at refreshing its approach to maintaining and improving its heritage and attractions. Failure to meet expected standards, however, is punished — British Airways and Heathrow have disappeared from the top altogether, doubtless due at least in part to the astonishing fiasco of Terminal 5. Here we present, thanks to the biggest-ever poll of Telegraph readers, a summary of all that is excellent in the travel and hospitality industries.

CONTENTS Best European Destination Best Worldwide Destination Best Worldwide City and Best UK City Best City Hotel and UK Hotel Best Resort Hotel Best Tour Operator and Best Specialist Travel Organiser Best Airline Best Travel Website Best Ski Company and Best Cruise Company

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SUPPLEMENT PRODUCED BY TELEGRAPH CREATE WORDS: Harry Coen, Nick Dalton, Deborah Stone and Teresa Machan

Hugely popular

Eternally yours: Rome’s Colosseum

BEST

European Destination ITALY

most civilised group of people who value their comforts, food and wine along with serious dollops of culture, history and varied landscapes of scenic majesty, Telegraph readers have once again resoundingly declared Italy to be their favourite European country. The climate and the beaches probably help, too. Throw in the spirit of the people and the sheer romance of the language and you begin to understand why Italy is right at the top in poll after poll, no matter how her great rivals, such as France and the Greek Islands, jostle for our affections. The variety on offer in Italy is such that there really is something for everyone in every market, from mass resort to

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high-end cultural tourism. We discover our favourite spots and return to them time after time, or we spread our wings and try something new but in a well-loved context. It’s a love affair that transcends chaotic airlines, urban breakdown, unstable politics and appalling pop music — somehow all our roads eventually lead us back to Rome. Or, rather more wetly, to Venice. Or to the cypresspunctuated, villa-strewn landscapes of Tuscany and Umbria, the dramatic cliffs of the Amalfi coast, the beaches of Sardinia, the snow-capped semicircle of the Alps or to the sheer grandeur of the Dolomites. There is space for reflection and escape from stress. The sweet calm of the Italian lakes calls us back time after time. There is a sense of spiritual renewal among the northern towns along the Lombard Way, or the Via Francigena, the age-old pilgrims’ route that led from France to Rome, taking in Varese, Pavia, Vicenza, Piacenza and jewel-like Mantua. Milan, too, lies along this route,

although these days we are more likely to thrill to cutting-edge design and the glamour of the great fashion houses than the heritage of St Ambrose, its most famous son before Armani and friends. The eternal spring of Botticelli’s Primavera entices us to Florence, still one of the most cultured cities on earth, forever glittering with the bequeathed glories of the Medici and the Renaissance. Michelangelo’s David has returned after his sojourn in the United States, although some wags claim he has put on a little weight. The coastal resorts and towns, both large and small, offer sensational nightlife. And everywhere restaurants tempt the tastebuds with world-class cuisine, whether regional cooking, international gastronomy or the best seaside pizza you have ever tasted. Not only in the country, in tiny mountain villages or medieval towns, but also in the great cities, you still can find small, family-run eateries with mouth-watering home-made food. Hope springs eternal that one can sweet-talk

truly authentic recipes out of these Italian domestic divinities. Simple pleasures abound. Can anything be better than a made-to-measure ice cream while gazing at Pisa’s leaning tower or the often-forgotten treasure across the square, the Baptistry? Well, there could be — the perfect Bellini in Venice, a cappuccino on the terrace of a Roman café, a campari at sunset, a sumptuous Montepulciano at a hillside vineyard. Ah yes, Telegraph readers know a good thing when they see it. And Italy will always be a favourite for us, endlessly enchanting.

THE WINNERS 1. ITALY 2. GREEK ISLANDS 3. PORTUGAL: MADEIRA 4. ICELAND 5. FRANCE 6. SWITZERLAND


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THE BEST OF 2008 WORLDWIDE DESTINATION

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2008

The Daily Telegraph

Hypnotic: New Zealand’s endlessly changing landscape

Enjoy a week’s holiday on the beautiful island of Madeira

BEST

Seven nights from only £279 per person Departures from December 2008 to October 2009

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A far-off home from home Worldwide Holiday Destination

ituated in the Atlantic Ocean and only three-and-a-half hours

NEW ZEALAND

by plane from the UK, this

magical island is the perfect subtropical hideaway for a revitalising break. It is Atlantic because of its world-famous subtropical gardens, lush vegetation and mild climate. The Telegraph has teamed up with Atlantic Holidays, a Madeira specialist, to offer you the opportunity to spend a week or more on the island at a great-value price. Prices include:

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Return flights from London Gatwick to Funchal. Flights from Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Exeter, East Midlands, Luton, Newcastle, Glasgow and Cardiff are available at a supplement

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Seven nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation based on two people sharing

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All applicable taxes

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Return transfers from Funchal airport to the hotel

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Assistance by a resort representative

Supplements for half-board, partial sea view rooms and singles, plus extra weeks, are available on request.

n recent years, New Zealand has gone from strength to strength as a force in world travel. It is simultaneously reassuring and familiar in some respects and astonishingly different and varied in others. It can seem like Britain’s alter ego on the other side of the world, but magically transformed and endlessly fascinating. No wonder Telegraph readers have voted it Best Holiday Destination Worldwide once more. They truly feel at home here, but constantly surprised and delighted. It is roughly the same size as the UK but has only four million people, so vast tracts are completely unspoilt. Its climate is temperate for the most part, but here you will also find subtropical rainforest at one end and glaciers at the other. They drive on the left, just as God intended, but once you are out of the elegant European-style cities, you can find yourself driving virtually alone through utterly unfamiliar and endlessly changing landscapes of pastures, forests, lakes, dramatic bays, golden beaches and snow-capped mountain ranges. But because, like in Britain, we are dealing with narrow islands, you never have to travel great distances to benefit from such diversity. Wild peninsulas may remind you of Cornwall, but they are populated by albatross and yellow-eyed penguins. Ski slopes here put the Cairngorms truly in the shade as sulphurous steam rises from active volcanoes. Wingless birds such as the national symbol, the kiwi — which evolved because there were no predators before the arrival of the Maori and Europeans — excite the curiosity (but watch out, kiwi can be most fierce and territorial). Take a walk in the forest and

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known as the floating garden of the

Departures: from December 2008 to October 2009 Prices from: three-star hotels four-star hotels £279 £299

five-star hotels £399

For more information, please call 0844 873 0308 or visit www.travelshop.telegraph.co.uk

or e-mail telegraph@atlanticholidays.net

Terms and conditions: Prices are per person, based on two adults sharing a twin/double room on bed-and-breakfast basis at a hotel. Regional flight supplements apply. Prices vary according to date of travel, choice of hotel and departure airport. Credit card charges apply. This holiday is operated by, and your resulting contract will be with, Atlantic Holidays Ltd, ABTA V3671, ATOL PROTECTED 2704, a company wholly independent of Telegraph Media Group Limited. Please refer to the Data Protection Notice in today’s Personal Column.

you’ll find more than the familiar bluebell. Vivid splashes of colour from the flowers of the kowhai tree give joy to the eye. The combination of high rainfall and many sunshine hours make the country lush, whether the kauri forests of the far north or the mountain beech forests of the Southern Alps — and 80 per cent of trees, flowering plants and ferns are native to New Zealand. Look out for parrots and the takahe, with its indigo plumage and bright red beak. Marine life, too, is abundant — whale and dolphin spotting here is something special. Even a simple ferry ride to Nelson, at the tip of South Island, speaks to the soul as you pass the green, craggy slopes of the Marlborough Sounds. Most visitors are lured to New Zealand by its increasing fame for sensational scenery (a reputation boosted no end by the dramatic settings for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy) but are then amazed by unexpected experiences that will stay with them for ever. You will never forget walking through a giant kauri forest at dusk, regaled with songs and legends by local Maori guides, or kayaking through a glow-worm cave — or the more familiar delights of a civilised lunch with good wine in the setting of a Marlborough Valley vineyard. In the cities restaurants are innovative and never stuffy. Café culture is lively and shopping terrific. There are pretty little country villages and great arts and crafts. There is a sense of freedom and excitement — and yet that reassuring sense of familiarity. New Zealand may be Down Under but for Telegraph readers it remains top of the world.

THE WINNERS 1. NEW ZEALAND 2. AUSTRALIA 3. SOUTH AFRICA 4. CANADA 5. USA 6. VIETNAM


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CITIES THE BEST OF 2008

The Daily Telegraph

The jewel in the crown of South Africa BEST World City

CAPE TOWN osmopolitan, free-spirited and basking in the shadow of its renowned flat-topped mountain, Cape Town is one of the world’s most civilised cities. You could happily hole up here for days indulging in gourmet cuisine, sampling world-class wines and exploring the pristine bays and beaches that scallop the Cape coast. Yet within 10 minutes, you can experience a whole different world. The famous Cableway will take you to the summit of Table Mountain in capsules that rotate to ensure you have a 360-degree view as you ascend. Once at

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the top, you can wander down more than a mile of pathways that give astounding (yes, truly astounding) views of Cape Town itself, Table Bay, Robben Island, the Cape Flats and the Cape Peninsula. Next, swirl a Shiraz at the Victoria and Alfred waterfront, dine alfresco at Camps Bay (Africa’s answer to Bondi Beach) and take the boat to Robben Island for the essential Mandela tour. But also leave time for a township excursion, a visit to the poignant District Six Museum and a concert at the World Heritage Kirstenbosch. On the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, this is surely Africa’s most stunning garden. Cape Town — and South Africa itself — is consistently voted among the world’s top holiday destinations. And Telegraph readers continue to confirm that with its high-energy city life and rich culture, it really does have it all.

Peak of perfection: Table Mountain, Cape Town

THE WINNERS 1. CAPE TOWN 2. SAN FRANCISCO 3. SYDNEY 4. VANCOUVER 5. NEW YORK 6. VENICE

Triumph of living history

BEST UK City YORK

ork has been a favourite city for 2,000 years. The latest accolade comes from Telegraph readers, who have voted it the Best UK City yet again. York rejoices in history and exploits it brilliantly. The Yorkshire Museum houses Roman wonders along with the 8th-century York Helmet and the medieval Middleham Jewel, a sapphire set in intricately engraved gold. You can experience what life was like in AD975, at the Jorvik Centre. You can even find out whether you have Viking ancestry and visit a live archaeological dig. The National Railways Museum is a worldbeater — the Flying Scotsman is due back soon after an overhaul. And York Castle Museum’s world-famous Kirkgate is the first re-created Victorian street of its kind. Visited by 30 million people, it is alive with the sights, sounds and characters of York more than 100 years ago. But it is about more than reconstructions. Ancient street

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The Shambles, beneath the towering Minster, is still very much alive, despite its medieval authenticity. And York Minster remains a triumph, the largest medieval gothic cathedral north of the Alps and a treasure house of 800 years of stained glass. This is a beautiful, historic city that never sits still, perfect as a city-break destination. No wonder more than 80 per cent of holidaymakers are return visitors.

THE WINNERS 1. YORK 2. EDINBURGH 3. BATH 4. CHESTER 5. LONDON 6. CAMBRIDGE


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TOP HOTELS THE BEST OF 2008

The Daily Telegraph

The height of sophistication

Luxury aloft: Rome Cavalieri

BEST City Hotel

ROME CAVALIERI

here can be little doubt, as you gaze down on the rooftops of Rome from the Cavalieri’s lofty position, that this is the place to be. Whether you’re eating in the Mediterranean-inspired La Pergola — the city’s only restaurant with three Michelin stars — or sipping a drink at the poolside bar, the magic of Rome is all around. Yet you are away from the tourist throng, amid 15 acres of fragrant gardens in a veritable palace. In September, the five-star

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Cavalieri became the first European hotel to become part of the elite Waldorf=Astoria Collection. Even though it looks simplistically modern from the front, it has all those luxurious touches — piano bar in the sumptuous lobby, rooms like those in a stately pile, and several galleries’ worth of art, from a crib commissioned by Napoleon to, curiously, Warhols. Then there’s afternoon tea, Tea With Tiepolo, beneath a trio of works by the 18th-century master… quails’ eggs, teensy

sandwiches — and Italian pastries. The Cavalieri is two miles from the city centre but the free bus shuttle, which runs most hours, makes light of that, and at the end of a day’s sightseeing you can retreat here, away from the fray yet still in sight of the delicately lit Vatican dome. The place is vast — accommodating 5,500 guests — but you wouldn’t guess it when inside. There are half-a-dozen bars and restaurants, with the informal Italian air of Giardino dell’Uliveto making for a great

alfresco summer’s evening. The Chalet Bar, deep in the grounds, is also fun, where you can grab a pizza and watch football on the (giant) television. Everything’s big here — even the pool. And the Grand Spa really is grand, an over-the-top extravagance with plenty of that Roman style which you see everywhere but which here is somehow more real. There are plenty of top places to stay in Rome — but Telegraph readers agree that nowhere else is quite like this.

THE WINNERS 1. ROME CAVALIERI 2. PENINSULA, HONG KONG 3. MOUNT NELSON, CAPE TOWN

Suite success for a timeless classic BEST UK Hotel

CLARIDGE’S laridge’s this year celebrates its 110th anniversary, safe in the knowledge that it’s just as glamorous as ever, and perhaps even hipper. The elegant styling of the hotel’s past is still there but with modern touches. Many suites have been given a makeover by master woodworker Lord Linley’s design company, with styles reflecting the hotel’s early years and its golden art deco era. And Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s brings in the crowds with modern British cuisine.

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Opulent: Claridge’s, London

Claridge’s is one of the great London hotels, occupying a prime location on the edge of Mayfair near Park Lane and Oxford Street. All rooms have a gentlemanly subtlety but now boast the latest entertainment systems and (hotels everywhere take note) free Wi-Fi for guests. This is a hotel built on timeless hedonism. Its high tea is a classic, and there’s even a champagne version. Later you can drift into Claridge’s Bar, a black, silver and mirrored art deco classic that has played host to more stars than you can shake a cocktail stick at. Then there’s Claridge’s Beauty & Fitness, on the sixth floor with unbeatable London views, the shining chrome and mirrors of the gym reflecting the art deco past, and the massage and treatments continuing the theme of indulgence. But it’s not just the facilities, decor, food and drink. The service

is impeccable and the faces of the staff are famously friendly. Runner-up is Brown’s, composed of 11 Georgian townhouses in Mayfair, which underwent a £24m revamp several years ago, and which has recently launched its Albemarle restaurant to much acclaim. And in third place is glorious Gleneagles, set in 850 acres of Perthshire countryside. A perennial favourite, it boasts three championship golf courses and one of the most luxurious destination spas in the world.

THE WINNERS 1. CLARIDGE’S, LONDON 2. BROWN’S, LONDON 3. GLENEAGLES, PERTHSHIRE


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BEST OF 2008 TOP HOTELS

The Daily Telegraph

A triple taste of the exotic Middle East BEST Y Resort Hotel

SHANGRI-LA’S BARR AL JISSAH RESORT, OMAN

ou can’t go wrong with a Shangri-La. Last year the luxury chain’s Bangkok property won this award, with Singapore in second place and Kuala Lumpur in fourth. This one is every bit as good, continuing the Shangri-La mantra of combining the best of local traditions with world-class luxury. The Al Jissah is hidden away in palm-filled gardens between sandy mountains and the deep blue sea. It looks as if it’s anything but handy for the shops (you have to go through a special mountain tunnel to get there) yet is just 15 minutes from Oman’s capital, Muscat.

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There are actually three hotels here, the Al Waha (The Oasis), aimed at families, Al Bandar (The Town), the mainstream hotel at the resort’s centre, and Al Husn (The Castle), a six-star enclave, all built in sympathetic Arabian style. There are more than enough restaurants to keep you busy for a week, including Moroccan, Italian and the child-friendly Surf Café, but you can’t beat the local posh nosh of Al Tanoor, or the experience of Bait Al Bahar where you can eat seafood on the beach against a magnificent sunset. The rooms have Arabian themes and original artwork (as


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TOP HOTELS BEST OF 2008

The Daily Telegraph

well as hi-tech entertainment systems), and all have sea views. Guests in The Castle get their own beach, and if you book a suite you even get a butler. The CHI spa is spectacular. As the Middle East opens up to tourism, it’s heartening that the standard of the hotels lives up to the adventure of the destination. Given the number of extravagant new hotels in Dubai, it’s not surprising that the Emirates feature highly, with the Madinat Jumeirah, a faux Middle East citadel with boutique hotels, market and meandering waterways, and the consistently excellent Jumeirah Beach, as runners-up.

THE WINNERS

Mystical: Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort, Oman

1. SHANGRI-LA’S BARR AL JISSAH RESORT, OMAN 2. MADINAT JUMEIRAH, DUBAI 3. JUMEIRAH BEACH, DUBAI


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THE BEST OF 2008 TRAVEL OPERATORS

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2008

The Daily Telegraph

Bags of customer appeal pays off yet again BEST Tour Operator

TITAN TRAVEL

o win the top award as Best Tour Operator for the fourth year running, Titan Travel has achieved an astonishing level of consistency that has made it unerringly a favourite with discerning Telegraph readers. The “secret” sounds simple: the company says it lies “in the planning and detail, an unswerving commitment to quality in everything we deliver, and listening very carefully all the time to what our clients are saying”. Yet that is easier said than done, as many of its rivals will attest. Titan’s planning is meticulous, its operation smooth — just as if these holidays were intended for the planners themselves. Imagine a whole 15-day trip without ever having to fill in a hotel registration form, major excursions already included in the overall price, luggage consistently delivered to hotel rooms within minutes of arrival. Its cruise, train and coach holidays

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THE WINNERS 1. TITAN TRAVEL 2. KUONI 3. VOYAGES JULES VERNE 4. SAGA 5. VIRGIN HOLIDAYS 6. THOMAS COOK

Door-to-door service: Titan Travel — or hybrids between the three — all offer efficient transfers and stress-free experiences. In 30 years, the organisation has grown from a two-man operation, back in 1978, to offering the largest selection of escorted tours in the UK. It looks

after more than 70,000 travellers a year, with more than half going to North America. It organises about 180 tours to 55 countries — impressive growth based on that “unswerving commitment” to quality. Founded by the brothers Irwin

and Hugh Ferry, it developed from organising readers’ offers for a Surrey newspaper. Today the business is still family-owned — a factor in keeping the personal touch despite its fine growth. This shows particularly in Titan’s VIP Home Departure

Service. You are picked up from home in spotless minibuses, taken to the airport and greeted by uniformed representatives at check-in. The same stress-free service operates at the end of your holiday, too, whether your destination is Alaska or Australia.

Kuoni, the well-established luxury tour operator founded in Switzerland in 1905, harnessed its century-plus of experience to come second. Its success is boosted by its autonomous subsidiary, Voyages Jules Verne, securing third place.

Pioneer that offers attention to detail remains on right track BEST Specialist Travel Organiser TRAILFINDERS hen it comes to expecting quality, service and consistency in something as personal and important as a holiday, Telegraph readers clearly place great confidence in privately owned companies that pride themselves on paying attention to detail and individual service. This seems to explain why Trailfinders, once a pioneering “bucket shop” specialising in discounted air fares, holds the record for consistent success in

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the Telegraph Travel Awards. The company has come top in its category every year since 2001. Mike Gooley, the chairman and founder, proclaims happily on the company’s website: “People think the world of us.” He is justly proud that the business has a staff of more than 1,100 of “the most expert travel consultants in the industry”. The former Special Air Service officer is still very much involved in running the company, even though the once-tiny travel agency now sells more than half a million flights a year and has a turnover of more than £500m. His firm organisational approach could fairly be said to have military efficiency — whether in the budget or luxury markets. He rates personal contact highly. “We believe there’s no substitute for one-on-one, bespoke service. Our travel consultants have between them travelled to over 96 per cent of

the world’s countries. As a result the service and advice they offer is second to none.” The company still does a vast amount of business in competitively priced fares — especially in long haul — but its growth and diversification have kept pace with its clientele’s rising prosperity and aspirations. People who were poor students in the Seventies can now afford to travel business class and enjoy luxury resorts as offered by Trailfinders’ premium business department. Exotic destinations and upmarket hotels figure largely. Yet it is in virtually handcrafted holidays, tailor-made to the individual traveller’s wishes, that Travelfinders truly shines. Mr Gooley says: “Where some travel companies will ask you to tick a few boxes online, we prefer to listen to you, either face-to-face in one of our 23 UK and Ireland travel centres, or over the phone. By getting to know you and what

you’re looking for, our expert consultants can tailor-make the perfect itinerary for you.” Rigorous training, efficient use of computer technology and up-to-date information plainly deliver the goods to Telegraph readers’ continued satisfaction. Airline Network, a website based in Preston, is also 100 per cent privately owned and came second, as last year. Experienced advisers also helped the website Travelbag claim third place.

THE WINNERS 1. TRAILFINDERS 2. AIRLINE NETWORK 3.TRAVELBAG 4. EBOOKERS 5. OPODO 6. FLIGHTBOOKERS


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AIRLINES THE BEST OF 2008

The Daily Telegraph

Flying high: from left, Singapore Airlines, Air Berlin and Monarch

Queens of the skies BEST Airline

SINGAPORE AIRLINES MONARCH AIR BERLIN ompetition in the skies is fiercer than ever — and customer loyalty is increasingly important to the airlines operating in every sector. Yet such loyalty is exactly what Telegraph readers have clearly shown: last year’s winners have triumphed once again in all three categories — scheduled, charter and no-frills. For decades Singapore Airlines has been at the forefront of aeronautical innovation in terms of comfort, space, on-board entertainment, and, above all, service, in the form of the legendary “Singapore Girls”. It has continued its world-setting pace as the pioneer in flying the new “superjumbo” Airbus A380. In theory, the double-decker giant could carry more than 850 people. But Singapore Airlines shares its space between only 471 passengers across the classes, including economy, where a modest increase in legroom and seat width is supplemented by KrisWorld, an entertainment system that offers a choice of more than 1,000 films, television programmes, music albums and interactive games. The whole fleet is being upgraded and Singapore Airlines boasts that its new Business Class is the most spacious the world has ever seen, with the largest seat and fully flat bed in its class. The greatest luxury of all is the new “class beyond first” Singapore Airlines Suites, exclusive to its Airbus A380, set aside for 12 passengers, complete with possibilities of double-bed comfort, with scheduled flights serving London, Sydney and Tokyo. There’s not quite so much on offer from Air Berlin but, for a no-frills airline, the German carrier does offer a surprising number of

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frills. There’s pre-assigned seating — so no unseemly scrambles for the best places — and unlike most of its competitors, it offers free snacks, drinks and newspapers. More importantly, it quotes prices inclusive of taxes and charges. Monarch, the winner in the charter category, offers seats with extra legroom on many of its services to destinations as far afield as Goa and the Gambia. Readers have shown that they appreciate how far Monarch has come since the old days when all charter airlines subscribed to the philosophy of cramming people in willy-nilly. No one exactly raves about the food, but the service is consistently praised.

THE WINNERS SCHEDULED 1. SINGAPORE AIRLINES 2. VIRGIN ATLANTIC 3. EMIRATES 4. QATAR AIRWAYS 5. AIR NEW ZEALAND 6. CATHAY PACIFIC CHARTER 1. MONARCH 2. THOMSONFLY/TUI 3. THOMAS COOK 4. FIRST CHOICE AIRLINES 5. EXCEL NO-FRILLS 1. AIR BERLIN 2. JET2 3. BMIBABY 4. EASYJET 5. THOMSONFLY 6. FLYBE BEST AIRPORT 1. SINGAPORE CHANGI 2. HONG KONG 3. BOURNEMOUTH 4. AMSTERDAM SCHIPOL 5. BIRMINGHAM BEST CAR HIRE 1. HERTZ 2. HOLIDAY AUTOS 3. AVIS 4. DOLLAR 5. ALAMO RENT-A-CAR 6. THRIFTY


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TRAVEL WEBSITE THE BEST OF 2008

The Daily Telegraph

Trustworthy link to a world of reviewers BEST Travel Website TRIPADVISOR

n choosing where, how and when to travel, trustworthy word of mouth is pure gold. Tripadvisor.co.uk is essentially a repository of travellers’ tales, a swapshop of opinions and experiences that carry weight. For the second year in a row, Telegraph readers have voted it best travel website. While many sites are used simply to look for cheap flights or decent hotels, Tripadvisor goes much further. It has, in effect, done much to create

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Switched on: Traveladvisor is the most trusted website for Telegraph readers

an online travel community. Even better, it is one that inspires confidence — and is great fun to use. It offers a vast resource of the first-hand experiences of travellers, more than 10 million entries on all kinds of holidays and personal adventures across all parts of the globe. You can read what others have to say and join in as well. Users post their reviews on hotels and resorts, create their own interactive maps, ask — and answer — questions of each other and look through candid photographs and video clips that are a far cry from those glamorous, heavily filtered pictures that festoon travel brochures and are trusted by fewer and fewer of us. Most of the website’s entries are down-to-earth and sensible, although few of the contributors

could be said to be great stylists. Some you may find pretentious, others naive — but that’s half the enjoyment. You will soon learn how to give your own weighting to what you read — whether an entry beckons you to an experience you would like to emulate or whether a resort that has been given five full stars and a rave rating is one that you would avoid like the plague. This is the worldwide web at its best — just what it is supposed to be. And insofar as a website can be said to have weight, it is plain that Telegraph readers believe Tripadvisor to be worth its weight in gold. In second place is Expedia, the UK’s largest online travel agent, where you can book package holidays, find flights and browse through hotel deals, B&Bs and car hire.

And in third slot is Travelzoo, whose team of travel experts each week sources the best internet travel deals. What makes Travelzoo special is that it then test books the deals online and/or by phone, ensuring that the Top 20 offers are genuinely available at the prices advertised. Best of all, it saves you the time-consuming task of shopping around yourself.

THE WINNERS 1. TRIPADVISOR.CO.UK 2. EXPEDIA.CO.UK 3. TRAVELZOO.CO.UK 4. TRAVELSUPERMARKET. CO.UK 5. EBOOKERS.COM


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THE BEST OF 2008 SKI AND CRUISE

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2008

The Daily Telegraph

Unparalleled peak practices BEST Ski Company NEILSON

eilson offers just what winter sports customers want from a tour operator, say readers of the Telegraph. The company’s ability to cater to the many and varied aspects of a ski holiday harks back to its origins in the independent, specialist sector, but it has since evolved following its move into the mainstream holiday market.

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For 30 years Neilson, one of the first package ski companies, has been at the forefront of skiing; early on it introduced ski leading (free group skiing), and more recently the Learn To Turn package, aimed at easing beginners on to the slopes. The company covers the ski world with intelligence and simplicity. It offers holidays for the cost-conscious skier, and it

Newcomer’s contemporary elegance rules the waves BEST Cruise Company

Celebrity Cruises

t’s no accident that Celebrity Cruises has become one of the world’s leading cruise lines — despite being one of the newest. The company’s ships combine traditional cruise-line elegance with state-of-the-art engineering and contemporary designs — a

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quality that has not been missed by discerning Telegraph readers. Guests can enjoy a degree of comfort and attention to detail that it is hard to beat, and there is a wide-ranging choice of imaginative itineraries to must-see exotic locations and off-the-beaten-track destinations — yet more reasons for Celebrity Cruises to be voted the Best Cruise Line in this year’s Telegraph Travel Awards. Those who enjoy the floating hotel experience have several luxury ships to choose from, but those who prefer an expedition cruise — with less than 100 guests on board — can indulge themselves in the small

ship Celebrity Xpedition’s more intimate service. All the staterooms and suites (there’s nothing so simple as a cabin) are luxurious, with all that implies with regard to comfortable beds, ensuite bathrooms, room service and mini bars, plus interactive televisions. And all the ships’ restaurants provide five-star cuisine, with meals elevated to gourmet class in the fine dining restaurants found on bigger ships. Speciality restaurants provide an even wider choice for guests who prefer informal dining. With more than 180 destinations worldwide

to choose from, excursions range from cultural and historic to wildlife explorations — all led by experts who really love their subjects. However, during days at sea, or for guests who simply don’t want to join a tour, there are pools, spas, fitness centres and lounges in which to relax. West End-style shows, casinos and atmospheric bars keep the entertainment element high, and from next month the Celebrity Solstice — the company’s new resort ship — will offer its 2,850 guests even more spacious accommodation and an attention to luxury that few thought it could ever better.

THE WINNERS BEST CRUISE COMPANY 1. CELEBRITY CRUISES 2. CUNARD 3. PRINCESS CRUISES 4. FRED OLSEN 5. P&O CRUISES

BEST CHANNEL CROSSING 1. EUROSTAR 2. BRITTANY FERRIES 3. EUROTUNNEL 4. STENA LINE 5. NORFOLKLINE 6. P&O FERRIES

Pooling its talents: Celebrity Cruises


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2008

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SKI AND CRUISE THE BEST OF 2008

The Daily Telegraph

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NEILSON

Winter thrill: Neilson comes out on top

offers luxury through its Revitalise Spa programme and its Super Service Chalets, with full top-of-the-range chalet catering. Needless to say, it also offers a large range in between, both in Europe and North America. The company backs up the leading ski holiday countries of France, Austria and Italy with a strong programme in Eastern Europe — resorts offering exceptional value and popular with beginners. Unusually, it offers three resorts in Sweden and this season has moved into the revamped Spanish resort of Formigal. All the options are easily assimilated in Neilson’s user-friendly website. Readers were impressed generally with service, along with competitive pricing; last week the website was advertising many ski holidays costing less than £200. These included Christmas in a guest house in Niederau, Austria, for £169, or in an apartment in the French resorts of Serre Chevalier and Risoul for £199. Neilson still impresses customers with its ski leading,

which is available in most of its resorts. Members of the young, committed staff take daily groups of all levels to not only familiarise them with the resort, but also to help them find the best spots to ski. The friendly service also means that guests can make friends and ski with those of a similar level throughout their holiday. Neilson boasts that it employs resort staff because of their drive and enthusiasm — staff that are then always on hand to give advice on snow-related matters. Snow briefings are held regularly — and the company believes that concentrating on the skiing is what makes customers return.

THE WINNERS 1. NEILSON 2. THOMSON 3. CRYSTAL HOLIDAYS 4. INGRAMS


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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2008


Telegraph Travel Awards 2008