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tlm autumn 2011

£3.50

tlm  the travel & leisure magazine

the travel & leisure magazine

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ Surf’s up in the Golden Gate State SADDLE UP Ranching holidays

HAVANA GOOD TIME Catching the beat in Cuba

SPA STARS Britain’s spa towns

ASIA’S GLITZY TWINS Exploring Hong Kong and Macau

MONTY’S TIPS Autumn 2011

Golf tuition breaks PLUS London’s waterways The South Downs Movie star hotels

win

a long Wrocla weekend in w, hotel st a Yorkshire ay golf clu , holiday b hire more &

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 Walk on the wild side. See page 70

tlm the travel and leisure magazine

from the

editor Peter Ellegard

Norman Carr Safaris

4 6 15 21 27

contents

in the frame summer photo competition winners getting to know California escape to Hong Kong and Macau let’s try ranching holidays competitions

WIN – a £850 wildlife break for two at the Grant Arms Hotel in Scotland WIN – a £425 Michelin dinner and spa stay at The Devonshire Arms, in Yorkshire

28 uk uncovered Britain’s spa towns WIN – a pair of Thermae Bath Spa vouchers worth £88

36 off the beaten track Cuba 42 a touch of class butlers and personal service 47 in your flightbag what to take on the flight WIN – a Braun weekender worth £135 and a Rogue toiletry bag worth £55

48 in your suitcase what to pack for your holiday WIN – a Global Equator 70 suitcase from Karrimor worth £100

50 travel tech gizmos and gadgets to take away WIN – a fantastic Polaroid x800E camera, worth £49.99

53 on your doorstep South Downs 59 competition WIN – a long weekend break for two in Wroclaw – worth £1,000 61 pack your clubs golf tuition breaks + golf news WIN – a week’s club rental for four worth £200 with ClubstoHire.com

67 70 78 82

travel update travel news 10 of the best wildlife encounters checking out focus on film star hotels + reviews london life London’s rivers and waterways + London news WIN – one of five pairs of London Eye River Cruise tickets, worth £24 per pair

86 out & about what’s on outside London 91 coming next what’s in store in the next issue subscribe to tlm – and be entered into our FREE monthly prize draw EDITORIAL: Editor Peter Ellegard Editorial assistant Julie Thompson Writers Peter Ellegard, Julie Thompson, Minty Clinch, John Law, Martin Ferguson, Debbie Ward and Jeannine Williamson Design Nick Blaxill Production June Barnard Publisher Terry Stafford Advertising sales Elaine Smith Digital Publisher Peter Lewsey Published quarterly by TLM Media Limited, Langdale House, 11 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1EN Tel: 020 3176 2570 Fax: 020 3176 2572 Email: info@tlm-magazine.co.uk Printed by BGP © TLM Media Limited Front cover photo: Surf instructor at La Jolla, San Diego, California © California Travel and Tourism Commission/Andreas Hub The publishers cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. Whilst every care is taken, all material submitted to TLM Media Limited is done so at its owner’s risk and neither TLM Media Limited nor its agents can accept any liability for loss or damage. TLM Media Limited is a completely independent company and can hold no responsibility for the actions of outside agents.

Autumn 2011

S

o that was summer, with little sunshine to cheer us up until its surprise final fling. As the nights draw in and days get colder, the news is hardly warming, either. Yet, despite consumer spending continuing to fall in the tough economic climate, it is not all doom and gloom. Research shows that, no matter how much family finances are squeezed, an annual holiday is seen as a household essential. Let us brighten your outlook with our autumn issue. It kicks off with a focus on California, conjuring up images of sun, sea and surfing. We venture onto the streets of Hong Kong and Macau and head off to explore the impressive and unique land of cigars, Cuba. For those who want to be spoiled, we check out personal service on your holiday as well as putting film star hotels in the spotlight. And for sheer escapism, we show you how to be real City Slickers and take to the hills on horseback or walk on the wild side with wildlife encounters. Back home, we explore Britain’s stately spa towns and guide you around the South Downs, as well as getting off dry land to look at London’s rivers and waterways. We also have prizes worth over £3,000 to win, including a weekend break to the historic Polish city of Wroclaw. Always look on the bright side of life...

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in the frame  summer photo competition results

 Junior winner Lily Dellar’s photo: The Rocks

Summing up our summer Katie and Lily snap up our Olympus photo competition prizes

 The Olympus Tough TG-310

 The Olympus Tough TG-810

S

ummer 2011 may have been a washout but it didn’t stop entries for our summer photo competition with Olympus from flooding in. With a record number of entries – over 650 for both the under-16s and adult competitions – selecting the 12 finalists was harder than ever, while voting for the winners in each category was a close-run thing. Katie MacDonald, from the Isle of Skye, took top honours for the adults with her picture, Rockness, her ironic take on the wet summer. Her prize is an Olympus Tough TG-810 camera, worth £269.99. Competition was fierce in the under-16s category, with

4 tlm  the travel & leisure magazine

 Katie MacDonald’s winning picture: Rockness

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some outstanding shots from very talented youngsters. The overall winner was 14-yearold Lily Dellar, from Uckfield, for her delightful picture, The Rocks. She wins an Olympus Tough TG-310 camera, worth £179. With such a high quality of entries, the judges also decided to give a special highly commended award in each category. Congratulations go to Lauren Owen, from Redhill, for her Chasing the Wind picture in the adult section and to our youngest entrant, six-year-old Sophie Timms from Tonbridge, for her Lonely Flower photo. They both win an Olympus VR-310 camera worth £99.99.

Highly commended  Chasing the Wind by Lauren Owen

 Lonely Flower by Sophie Timms, aged six

Autumn 2011


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getting to know n california

The long and

winding road

A road trip along California’s iconic coastal highway encapsulates the very essence of America’s third-largest state. Peter Ellegard dons shorts and shades to explore

Peter Ellegard

T

n Hollywood

6 tlm n the travel & leisure magazine

here’s only one way to experience California if you really want to get into the West Coast spirit – and that is by driving an open-top sports car up the Pacific Coast Highway, the Beach Boys and Eagles blaring out from the stereo, surfers to your left, cool wind in your hair and blue sky up above. The PCH, as it is often shortened to, is officially the 120-mile stretch of Highway 1 between Dana Point and Oxnard in Southern California, taking in Los Angeles, Malibu, Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. But to most people, it applies to the entire near-500-mile length between San Francisco and LA, or the 600 miles between San Diego and San Francisco. You can also take it up through Northern California and on to the Canadian border, for a total distance of 2,000 miles. This long, snaking ribbon is far more than a highway. It leads you on a voyage of exploration right through California’s coastal heartland, passing by much of the Golden Gate State that visitors want to see. Since my first visit to California 25 years ago, I

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have been fortunate to have driven the scenic coastal stretch between LA and San Francisco on a couple of occasions as well as driving shorter sections many other times. Both times, it was in iconic American muscle cars: a little red Corvette in the Nineties and, earlier this year, a flame-red Ford Mustang. I even turned down a classic Jag for the Corvette, and as I motored around LA and its environs, I couldn’t resist a lazy drive along Santa Monica Boulevard and West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip with my shades and shorts on, the top down and one arm draped over the door. Call me a poser, but I firmly believe that when in Rome – or in this case, the laid-back West Coast – you should emulate the locals.

memorable Some of my most memorable US moments have happened along the PCH, none more so than when I decided to photograph the stars’ hand and foot prints at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood after my Sunset Strip drive and found what seemed a perfect parking spot down a nearby side street. Having topped up the meter and walked off, I turned round to see a

Autumn 2011


getting to know  california

 Mustang on 17 Mile Drive, Monterey Peter Ellegard

Autumn 2011

ing ticket through the post, adding that had I been doing 75 I would have got away with a ticking off. But I didn’t mind. I was still on a high from playing Pebble Beach. The CHiPs officer can’t have ticketed many speeding motorists wearing a smile as broad as mine. And, six months on, I still haven’t received that ticket, either.

surf culture The freeways are a quicker way of getting between California’s coastal cities and key attractions, although around LA they are often jammed solid. Driving the Pacific Coast Highway needs time and patience, like savouring an expensive wine. Plan to take in the sights and highlights along the way and be prepared for frequent stops, from traffic in towns to photo opportunities. My Corvette trip took 11 days and began in San Diego, a beautiful city of picturesque parks and grand, restored 1860s buildings in the downtown Gas Lamp Quarter. It made a fabulous, easy-paced start to the drive north. The coastline between San Diego and LA is often bypassed by those who land at LAX and head north. Do that and you miss out on some real treats. California is synonymous with surfing and, while you see it all along the coast, nowhere is surf culture stronger than south of LA. The breakers created by the offshore Santa Ana winds are perfect for surfing at Huntington Beach, sung

California Travel and Tourism Commission

policewoman taking a keen interest in the Corvette. Returning to the car, I asked in my finest upper-crust English accent: “Is there a problem, officer?” Unfortunately, I had mistakenly parked in a red no-parking bay, saving the car in the adjacent metered bay from a parking ticket but earning one myself. Seeing my crestfallen expression, the lady cop asked if the car was rented, and when I said yes she reassured me I would be OK as the rental companies never paid parking fines. Seizing the moment, I asked if she would mind posing with the car while writing the ticket so I could take some souvenir photos. “Sure,” she beamed, and I clicked away as she struck different poses until a couple of curious Hell’s Angels bikers pulled up alongside. Within seconds, they were in the photos as well, and I ending up getting them to sit on the car’s bonnet with the traffic cop lying across their arms, pen poised on the ticket. Only in LA! And I never did have to pay the fine. I had another brush with the law in California this year, having done the LA-San Francisco drive in my Mustang and traded it in for a nondescript Japanese saloon to drive back down to Monterey for an overnight and a round of golf on the famed Pebble Beach Links course. With my return flight home from San Francisco that evening, I put pedal to the metal on the coast road after my round and caught the attention of a California Highway Patrol officer, who sped after me with his motorbike lit up like a Christmas tree. It was a fair cop: I had been doing 81mph in a 65mph zone. He told me I would get a speed-

 Sunset surfer

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getting to know  california

California has nature in spades, with 270 state parks, 19 national forests, over a dozen major mountain ranges, 14 million acres of federal wilderness area, 32 million acres of forest and 21 million acres of desert. At Yosemite, King’s Canyon and Sequoia national parks, you can see giant sequoia trees, nature’s largest living things. The latter includes the General Sherman Tree – the world’s largest tree by volume. It stands 274.9 feet high and has a circumference of 102.6 feet. California has three standing trees you can drive through, for a fee. All are coastal redwoods in Humboldt County, Northern California. Tunnel Log is a fallen giant sequoia with a tunnel cut into it in Sequoia National Park through which cars can drive. Mountain resorts offering skiing and

 Driving through Tunnel Log summer adventure include Mammoth, Squaw Valley and Heavenly. Among California’s desert areas is Death Valley National Park, where Badwater is the Western Hemisphere’s lowest point. The Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree

 Catching a wave

“Driving the Pacific Coast Highway needs time and patience, like savouring an expensive wine” 8 tlm  the travel & leisure magazine

California Travel and Tourism Commission

mountains, forests and deserts

National Park are other desert areas. Desert resort community Palm Springs is a manmade oasis offering luxurious spa resorts, golf, dining, art, theatre and shopping. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes visitors 8,500 feet up to San Jacinto State Park.

about in 1963 hit single, Surf City, by home-town duo Jan & Dean. Today, Huntington Beach even calls itself Surf City USA. It hosted the first professional surfing event in 1959 and is where the USA surf team has its base. Surfing attractions include the International Surfing Museum and Surfing Hall of Fame (www.surfingmuseum.org), and the Surfing Walk of Fame (www.surfingwalkoffame.com). Surf culture is also strong in Oceanside and Newport Beach and, beyond LA, in Malibu, playground of the rich and famous. Majestic former transatlantic liner the Queen Mary (www.queenmary.com) now lies captive in dock at Long Beach as a floating hotel and attraction. Stay aboard her, as I have done, in elegant decadence or be transported back to the days when steamships ruled the waves on tours of its stately, art deco interior. Nearby are the Disneyland (http://disneyland.disney.go.com) and Knott’s Berry Farm (www.knotts.com) theme parks of Anaheim. To its detractors, Los Angeles is a sprawling urban mass; a city with glitz but without a heart. The reality is it has several hearts, and they beat loudest in its western neighbourhoods. This is a Westside Story with a difference. From the refined elegance of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood to the vibrant oceanside communities of Santa Monica and Marina del Rey, including funky neighbour Venice Beach, each neighbourhood has its own flavours and attractions for visitors.

ferris wheel Beverly Hills has attracted stars for decades. Today, it is famous for its high-end shopping, with ritzy Rodeo Drive (www.rodeodrive.com) the epicentre of its shopping scene, and the grand Beverly Wilshire hotel

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Autumn 2011


getting to know  california

California Travel and Tourism Commission

 The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

san francisco and beyond San Francisco’s landmarks include Golden Gate Bridge, 75 years old in 2012, the clanging cable cars of the world’s last manually-operated cable car system, the shops, restaurants and attractions of Pier 39 (www.pier39.com) and Fisherman’s Wharf (www.fishermanswharf.org) and former federal prison Alcatraz (www.nps.gov/alcatraz), set on an island. Several companies offer cruises to Alcatraz. For an unrivalled perspective of the city, take a 20-minute aerial Vista Tour with San Francisco Helicopters (www.sfhelicoptertours.com) for $160 – on my trip, the pilot even flew us under Golden Gate Bridge! And be the centre of attention on a city tour in open-sided vintage buses with Mr Toad’s Tours (www.mrtoadstours.com). San Francisco has America’s largest and oldest Chinatown, established when the 1849 Gold Rush brought many Chinese immigrants. Other areas with a rich ethnic past are Russian Hill, down which the “world’s crookedest street” – Lombard Street – descends, and North Beach (Italian). Haight-Ashbury was the birthplace of hippy culture and flower power. Cultural institutions include the California Academy of Sciences (www.calacademy.org), with an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and a four-story rainforest all under one roof. Beyond San Francisco, cross Golden Gate Bridge to carry on up the coast, stopping off at arty Sausalito and the giant redwoods of Muir Woods. Or head inland to visit the wineries of Napa Valley or state capital Sacramento. After the discovery of gold in the nearby Sierra Nevada foothills in 1848, it was a key supply centre for the Gold Rush, becoming the capital in 1854. The Capitol Building is one of two dozen museums in the city.

(www.fourseasons.com/beverlywilshire) opposite. You may find yourself rubbing shoulders with celebs there and at the Beverly Hills Hotel (www.beverlyhillshotel.com), a doyenne known locally as the Pink Palace. Shop for designer fashion and art at West Hollywood’s Avenues of Art & Design district (www.avenueswh.com), before hitting Sunset Strip to party the night away at its clubs and nightspots. Santa Monica Pier (www.santamonicapier.org) features the Pacific Park amusement park, which includes the world’s first solar-powered Ferris wheel, giving bird’s-eye views of the beaches, and a traditional carousel. Muscle Beach (www.musclebeach.net) was born just south of the pier in the 1950s, kick-starting the body-beautiful, workout and health fads now such an integral part of the LA scene. Rent a bike or skates and follow the 8.5-mile beach path to Venice Beach, where you will find the musclemen pumping iron today. Venice Beach is great for people-watching for its bizarre sights and wacky performers. I once encountered a semi-naked man standing one-footed while holding rubber snakes in each hand and balancing a branch on his head. You could also have your photo taken with aliens sat in deckchairs. Neighbouring Marina del Rey boasts America’s largest man-made yacht harbour, from where you can take a chartered yacht to explore the coastline and offshore islands or take a relaxing harbour cruise. Hollywood highlights include Universal Studios (www.universalstudioshollywood.com), while LA’s cultural scene takes in the Getty Centre (www.getty.edu) high above the city and the Getty Villa, in Malibu, with collections of artworks, sculptures and photographs. Catch shows and concerts at the Kodak Theatre (www.kodaktheatre.com), home of the Oscars, and Los Angeles Philharmonic performances at Frank Gehry’s garish, silver Walt Disney Concert Hall (www.laphil.com). Pasadena is worth taking a side trip for the historic buildings of its old centre. I vividly recall partying all night with samba-dancing Brazilians in the street celebrations in Old Pasadena after watching Brazil beat Italy in the World Cup Final at the nearby Rose Bowl stadium in 1994. Shoppers wanting unusual souvenirs should head to the LA County Coroner’s Office, where Skeletons in the Closet (www.lacoroner.com) is a gift shop a couple of floors up from the mortuary that sells items including towels with the outline of a dead body and toe-tag key rings. The proceeds help rehabilitate offenders.

 Cable car, San Francisco

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Peter Ellegard

missions Two hours north of LA, Santa Barbara styles itself the American Riviera and is a beautiful city rich in history with glorious Pacific beaches and a marina edged by restaurants. Take the lift up to the 85-foot-high clock tower of the Spanish Colonial Revival-style Santa Barbara County Courthouse (www.sbcourts.org) for a great view over its red tiled roof and the city, then go on a Red Tile Walking Tour past 1800s-era adobe homes and public buildings.

Autumn 2011


The beautiful, hilltop Old Mission Santa Barbara (http://santabarbaramission.org) is the city’s crowning architectural glory. Founded in 1786, it is one of 21 missions built by the Spanish between 1769 and 1823 and is known as the “Queen of the Missions”. Stay at a cosy downtown B&B like the Cheshire Cat Inn (www.cheshirecat.com) and you can enjoy its art galleries, shops and restaurants on foot. Santa Barbara Wine Country is one of California’s main wine regions. You can taste local vintages at 12 wineries within a few blocks of downtown and the beaches on the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail (www.urbanwinetrailsb.com) or take a Wine Tours by Trolley trip (www.sbtrolley.com), hopping on and off trolleys to enjoy good libations at four wineries. Oscar-winning movie Sideways was set in Santa Barbara Wine Country and you can check out film locations on guided Sideways tours or pick up a map from the Santa Barbara Convention & Visitors Bureau

(www.santabarbaraca.com) and drive to them yourself. Among locations used were picturesque Santa Ynez Valley communities Los Olivos and Solvang, a fascinating Danish village celebrating its centenary this year with Scandinavian buildings, antique and art shops, a windmill and an old mission. At San Luis Obispo, a stay in the Madonna Inn (www.madonnainn.com) means sleeping in themed rooms, including caves where you shower under a cascading waterfall in your bathroom. Halfway between LA and San Francisco at San Simeon, stop for a guided tour of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst’s palatial, Spanish-styled Hearst Castle (www.hearstcastle.org), which houses priceless art and antiques, with sculptures and a Roman temple gracing the estate.

n Hearst Castle

California Travel and Tourism Commission

n Santa Barbara County Courthouse

Peter Ellegard

getting to know n california

artist’s colony

Autumn 2011

The road from there to the Monterey Peninsula is one of America’s most spectacular drives, and is known as the Big Sur Coast Highway. It hugs the wild coastline past Big Sur’s towering cliffs, canyons and giant redwoods. Stay at the chic, clifftop Post Ranch Inn (www.postranchinn.com) for spectacular views and to enjoy the natural beauty and wildlife, including condors, at leisure. Beyond Big Sur lies pretty artists’ colony Carmel. There, you can take scenic 17-Mile Drive, which loops around the Monterey Peninsula headland past glorious ocean vistas, wind-sculpted cypress trees and golf courses including Pebble Beach. Former fish-canning town Monterey, made famous

n Alcatraz

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Peter Ellegard

Solvang Conference and Visitors Bureau

n Danish dancers at Solvang

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California Travel and Tourism Commission

getting to know n california

n Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey

by author John Steinbeck, is popular with tourists. Go shopping in Cannery Row’s stores and dine at harbourside restaurants on Fisherman’s Wharf, from where you can watch sea otters frolic among the giant kelp fronds or hear barking sea lions. Rent a kayak for a close-up view of seals and dolphins or take a boat trip to watch migrating blue, grey and humpback whales. The Monterey Bay Aquarium (www.montereybayaquarium.org) is a must and showcases the rich marine life found just offshore in the bay’s protected marine sanctuary waters. The Hotel Abrego (www.hotelabrego.com) makes a good base for exploring the Monterey area, or if you want luxury with world-class golf on your doorstep, book a stay at Pebble Beach Resorts (www.pebblebeach.com). First opened over 100 years ago, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (www.beachboardwalk.com), on Monterey Bay, is California’s oldest surviving amusement park. Ride an old steam train through redwood forests on the Roaring Camp and Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad. By the time you reach San Francisco, you should be chilled out after your marathon drive and ready for a chilled glass of wine from nearby Napa Valley to toast the memories. Much as I love San Francisco, I think I left my heart somewhere back on the Pacific Coast highway.

california facts when to go

getting there

Beverley Hills CVB

California’s diverse topography, from coast to deserts and forested mountains, means it has a range of climates. Coastal regions enjoys a Mediterranean-style climate with sunny and warm summers and wet and mild winters. n Beverley Hills signpost

Flights operate from London Heathrow to Los Angeles and San Francisco, with direct services by British Airways (www.ba.com), Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com), American Airlines (www.aa.com), United Airlines (www.unitedairlines.com) and Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.co.uk).

getting around

tour operators

Peter Ellegard

Operators include America As You Like It (www.americaasyoulikeit.com), Virgin Holidays n Cable cars, San (www.virginholidays.co.uk), Bon Francisco Voyage (www.bon-voyage.co.uk), Premier Holidays (www.premierholidays.co.uk), North America Travel Service (www.northamericatravelservice.co.uk), Funway Holidays (www.funwayholidays.co.uk) and Trekamerica (www.trekamerica.co.uk).

n Classic car in San Francisco

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California Travel and Tourism Commission

Rent a car. All the main rental companies have locations throughout California. You can rent Ford Mustangs from Dollar Rent a Car (www.dollar.co.uk). Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner train (www.amtrak.com) runs between San Diego and San Luis Obispo via Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. San Francisco’s Muni (www.sfmuni.com) operates buses, trolleys and cable cars. Los Angeles has a bus network and its Metro (www.metro.net), with four lines and 70 stations.

tourist information Visit California: www.visitcalifornia.co.uk

Autumn 2011


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escape to  hong kong & macau

Street life Former colonial outposts Hong Kong and Macau have continued to burgeon under Chinese rule and offer experiences that are worlds apart yet just a ferry ride from each other. Peter Ellegard takes to the streets to explore these pulsating Asian siblings

I

Peter Ellegard

 Kowloon street market

t was Sunday morning and time for tea in the tiny Hong Kong café where my fellow travellers and I were sat. Milk tea, that is – a local favourite. And it was doing a roaring trade, with the few seats grabbed as soon as they were vacated and locals queuing to buy take-away snacks and drinks. Actually, café is probably too grand a description. This was an industrial-looking dai pai dong, or open-air food stall, although inside a food market. Once widespread, relatively few now survive as a result of strict licensing and controls. Finding such gems would be impossible by yourself. But we were on a behind-the-scenes tour of Kowloon, the mainland part of Hong Kong, discovering hidden delights off its well-trodden tourist circuit. After haggling for trinkets in the Jade Market, we visited a pearl shop for some rather more expensive bargaining, then set off exploring on foot. First stop, a lively street market full of exotic fruits, meat and fish, followed by one of Hong Kong’s oldest streets, Shanghai Street, then a park with locals playing board games in the shade and, tucked between buildings, an elaboratelydecorated temple where incense hung heavy in the air. Finally it was time for dim sum lunch, at the awardwinning Super Star Seafood restaurant – only we would be making it ourselves. With expert guidance by the chefs during our hour-long lesson we tried our hands at creating various dumplings, with varying degrees of success. But we were all awarded certificates before tucking in to our home-cooked meal, which was unexpectedly tasty. A fitting end to a fascinating tour. Hong Kong is very much a destination that draws you in so that you feel part of the hubbub of daily life. Hardly surprising, given the former British colony’s compact

 The Hong Kong skyline Hong Kong Tourism Board

Autumn 2011

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escape to n hong kong & macau

size and the huge population crammed into it. One of my abiding memories from visits there is of flying in to land at the old Kai Tak Airport and passing so close to high-rise apartments that you could wave at the residents on their balconies.

n Tai Chi on The Peak, Hong Kong

Peter Ellegard

tai chi

Hong Kong Tourism Board

n Lantau Island’s Giant Buddha

Escape the noise and bustle of its crowded streets by taking the tram up to the top of Victoria Peak (www.thepeak.com.hk) on Hong Kong Island, known locally as The Peak. You may not escape the throng, as it is Hong Kong’s most popular attraction, but you are rewarded with wonderful panoramic views of the city’s soaring skyscrapers and Victoria Harbour, as well as forested mountains and smaller islands. Get there early enough and you can join in free beginners’ tai chi classes, held on four days a week as part of the tourist office’s Cultural Kaleidoscope programme. Avoid the tram queues and walk back down the path, gaps between the trees and luxuriant vegetation suddenly opening up stunning vistas. It is also worth visiting The Peak at night, with the city spectacularly lit up below you. The Peak trip can be done as part of a day-long Hong Kong Island tour, also taking in a harbour sampan ride at Aberdeen fishing village and a scenic drive via pretty Deep Water Bay and Repulse Bay to Stanley, where you can barter with traders for silk pashminas or Chinese emperor-style dressing gowns in Stanley Market (www.hk-stanley-market.com) before reviewing your bargains over a leisurely lunch. You can also escape the hectic street life on a sunset boat trip to Lamma Island, visiting the Fisherfolks’ Village, where you can try fishing, followed by a seafood dinner before returning to watch Victoria Harbour’s dazzling, nightly Symphony of Lights sound and light show, played out on its high rises. If you are not on a boat, the best place to watch it from is at Kowloon’s Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, reached by a short crossing aboard the Star Ferry from Hong Kong Island.

n Kowloon’s Jade Market

Peter Ellegard

n Take a harbour cruise on the Duk Ling junk

Hong Kong Tourism Board

lantau island If you are in Hong Kong for a few days, other things you can do include visiting the Ocean Park marine theme park (www.oceanpark.com.hk) at Aberdeen, heading to Lantau Island for Hong Kong Disneyland (www.hongkongdisneyland.com), the Giant Buddha, Po Lin Monastery (www.plm.org.hk) and Ngong Ping Village (www.np360.com.hk), enjoying panoramic views from the Ngong Ping cable car, or perhaps hiking in the New Territories parks, taking a harbour cruise on the Duk Ling (www.dukling.com.hk) junk and shopping in Tsim Sha Tsui’s Nathan Road and nearby Mong Kok, where the Ladies’ Market belies its name and offers n Kowloon market bargains for all. fishmonger At night, besides VictoPeter Ellegard

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Autumn 2011


escape to n hong kong & macau

n Aberdeen Harbour, Hong Kong Peter Ellegard

required planning followed by what seemed like a route march, while the casino itself was a vast windowless cavern with endless rows of jangling, flashing slot machines interspersed by dozens of gaming tables. It felt like Dante’s Inferno on speed. The 3,000-suite hotel – Asia’s largest single structure and the world’s second-largest building – also features more than 350 shops in its Venice-themed Grand Canal Shoppes retail area, complete with a canal and gondolas, as well as 30 restaurants, a 15,000-seat arena and the 1,800-seat Venetian Theatre, which is home to the permanent Cirque du Soleil show, Zaia. Matching it for spectacle is the Theatre of Dreams, with its £250 million House of Dancing Water spectacular, in the Cotai Strip’s City of Dreams (www.cityofdreamsmacau.com). Most of Macau’s large hotels have resident bands as well as clubs, bars and restaurants. You’ll also find buzzing nightlife in the trendy clubs of waterfront theme park Fisherman’s Wharf (www.fishermanswharf.com.mo).

n The bright lights of Macau

Macau Government Tourist Board

ria Peak and the Symphony of Lights, you can watch horse racing at Happy Valley (www.happyvalleyracecourse.com), home of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, or go clubbing in the Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai entertainment districts as well as in Causeway Bay, where you also find great local restaurants. Stanley, Kowloon and Tsim Sha Tsui are other good places to eat without breaking the bank. But there are many top-class restaurants if you want to dine in style, particularly at upmarket hotels such as The Langham (www.langhamhotels.com), the Renaissance Harbour View (www.marriott.co.uk) and the Island Shangri-La (www.shangri-la.com). Just 15 years ago, Hong Kong was in its last days under British rule and was facing an uncertain future as a holiday destination, with many wondering how it would change after its handover to China. The fears were misplaced, as it has not lost any of its vibrancy and has even more to offer visitors now than ever before.

macau The same can be said of former Portuguese colony Macau, which reverted to China just two years later to become a Special Administrative Region like its nearneighbour. Less than an hour from Hong Kong by fast ferry and often linked with it on twin-centre holidays, Macau is undergoing huge investment in its tourism industry. Much of that has been in mega casino hotels, notably in the Cotai Strip (www.cotaistrip.com.mo) – dubbed Asia’s Las Vegas. Queen of the Cotai Strip is The Venetian Macao, a $2.4 billion resort that opened in August 2007. It is on a positively gargantuan scale, as I discovered when I flew in as an invited guest for its grand opening. Our coach pulled into what seemed like a giant aircraft hangar, although actually its own dedicated bus terminal, the illusion underlined by a marshal waving the driver into a parking bay using airport-style glowing wands. I have been to most of the casino hotels in Las Vegas, but the sheer size of this edifice was staggering to take in. Walking from my room to any of the public areas

Autumn 2011

hong kong and macau tips l Hong Kong is more than just a city – 70% of the land is rural and there are more than 260 islands, plus over 30 beaches. l Hong Kong can easily be combined with other destinations in Asia or Australasia. l Hong Kong and Macau are a gourmet’s paradise. You can find any kind of cuisine, including dim sum, in Hong Kong while Macau’s cuisine has a strong Portuguese element. l Ride Hong Kong’s iconic, double-decker trams – known locally as Ding Dongs – to get a real flavour of the destination, hopping on and off to explore sights. l Macau’s 17th-century Guia Fortress is the oldest lighthouse on China’s coast. l Top festivals in Macau include the Dragon Boat Festival, held in June at Nam Van Lakes, and the International Fireworks Display Contest, held over three weeks until October 1. l Hong Kong’s events include its own Dragon Boat Festival, in June, as well as the Tin Hau Fishermans’ Festival in April/May and Cheung Chau Bun Festival in May/June.

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escape to n hong kong & macau

n St Paul’s ruins, Macau

hong kong and macau facts when to go n A-Ma Temple statue, Macau

Peter Ellegard

Hong Kong and Macau have a tropical climate with high humidity. OctoberMarch is the most pleasant time of year, when humidity levels are lower.

getting there

Peter Ellegard

Direct Hong Kong flights from London are operated by British Airways (www.ba.com), Cathay Pacific (www.cathaypacific.com), Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com), Qantas (www.qantas.co.uk) and Air New Zealand (www.airnewzealand.co.uk). Macau has its own airport with regional flights but most people go by fast ferry, with direct services from Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon taking an hour or less.

world heritage site

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getting around Public transport in Hong Kong is world class, with frequent services on its bus, tram and MTR underground networks. Buy an Octopus Card, similar to London’s Oyster Card, for best value. Cross-harbour services are operated by Star Ferry, while other ferries link outlying islands. Taxis are also plentiful and good value, as they are in Macau, where buses and pedicabs are other ways to get around.

accommodation All top hotel chains are in Hong Kong, offering accommodation and service levels of the highest quality. If you have a head for heights, stay in the world’s tallest hotel, the newly-opened Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong (www.ritzcarlton.com) or perhaps grande dames such as the historic Peninsula Hotel (www.peninsula.com/hongkong) or Mandarin Oriental (www.mandarinoriental.com/hongkong). Macau’s hotel scene is dominated by luxury casino hotels. Choose from The Venetian Macao (www.venetianmacao.com), Wynn Macau (www.wynnmacau.com), Hard Rock Hotel (www.hardrockhotelmacau.com) and others or, for a quieter getaway, the Westin Resort, Macau (www.starwoodhotels.com), the only resort on Macau’s Hac Sa Beach.

tour operators

Hong Kong Tourism Board

But what sets Macau apart, and for me what makes it such a special place, is its rich blend of Portuguese and Chinese heritage. It was a Portuguese colony for over four centuries until its handover in 1999 and its historic centre was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005. Macau’s historic heart spans eight elegant squares and it comprises the most complete array of European architectural legacy in China. Gems include the ruins of St Paul’s, the façade of a church originally built in 1594 but ravaged by fire in 1835. It is the symbol of Macau. Facing out across St Dominic’s Square is the ornate, yellow-painted St Dominic’s Church, dating to 1587 and the first church built in China. An annual spectacle not to miss if you are in Macau is the Procession of Our Lady of Fatima, in which women clad in white bear a statue every May 13. Adjacent Senado Square, with its wavy-patterned cobbles surrounded by glorious old buildings, is another crowd-puller. Make sure you take in Macau’s Chinese heritage, too, at places including the tranquil and beautiful, red-walled A-Ma Temple, with the flowing tiles of Barra Square in front. There are plenty of other attractions to explore, too. Museums encompass the Maritime Museum (www.museumaritimo.gov.mo), Macau Museum (www.macaumuseum.gov.mo) and Grand Prix Museum (http://gp.macau.grandprix.gov.mo), celebrating the annual Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix. Then there’s the cone-shaped Macau Science Centre and Fisherman’s Wharf, featuring three themed areas with restaurants, cafés, shops and street entertainment, as well as the landmark, 1,100ft Macau Tower (www.macautower.com.mo), from which the brave can hurl themselves off on the Bungy Jump or take a more sedate, 20-second journey down with a SkyJump, while others can simply take in the view from on high in the revolving 360º Café. At just 11 square miles, Macau packs so much in you will wish you had allowed more time for your stay. Combine it with Hong Kong and you will have a fascinating and action-packed twin-centre break that will have you planning your return as soon as you leave.

Companies offering packages include Virgin Holidays (www.virginholidays.co.uk), Audley Travel (www.audleytravel.com), Kuoni n The Peak (www.kuoni.co.uk), Bridge & Wickers tram at night (www.bridgeandwickers.co.uk), Premier Holidays (www.premierholidays.co.uk), Funway Holidays (www.funwayholidays.co.uk) and Hayes & Jarvis (www.hayesandjarvis.co.uk).

tourist information Hong Kong Tourism Board: www.discoverhongkong.com/uk Macau Government Tourist Office: www.macautourism.gov.mo

Autumn 2011


let’s try n ranching holidays

Home on

the range

Who can say they didn’t fantasise about living the cowboy lifestyle as youngsters? Today, city slickers can swap their laptops for Stetsons and ride tall in the saddle on ranching holidays from Canada to Argentina and as far afield as Australia. Cowgirl at heart, Minty Clinch dons her spurs to give the lowdown

M

y first ranching holiday was the ultimate in lucky breaks. Riding out on the range as a rookie cowgirl, I was shown how to inject antibiotics into the flanks of kicking calves while Hip, son of Lloyd Tillett, the TX Ranch patriarch, castrated them with a knife. That may sound cruel, but that’s the way they do it in Montana. Indeed that’s the way they’ve been doing it, though initially without the drugs, since William Tillett and his wife, Bessie, established their homestead near Lovell, Wyoming, in 1895. Their first cattle,

bought in from Amarillo, Texas, had the TX brand that is still used today. In the 21st century, Lloyd and his wife Abbie keep 1,200 breeding cows and progeny too numerous to count on grasslands straddling the state line. When I was there in July, sleek herds were enjoying lush summer pastures, bright with wild flowers, on the Montana side. Happily I was back in my western saddle at the end of the day’s work when a rattler reared into attack mode under my horse’s hooves. Likewise when a black bear walked purposefully along the edge of a gorge, perhaps 50 yards away, but fortunately on the other side.

n Galloping on the prairie at Paradise Ranch, Wyoming American Round-Up

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let’s try n ranching holidays

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort

n Horse riding in British Columbia, Canada

Each night, we stretched out under the stars in our sleeping bags sated with Abbie’s magnificent home cooking, only to awake to barking dogs and thrashing hooves as wolves or bears approached the derelict corral. Each morning, Abbie would say: “Darn, them horses jumped out again.” But as Hip preferred the excitement of rounding them up to the grind of fixing the woodwork, that’s how it had to be. With so much action 24/7, the TX horses are fit for purpose and eager to gallop, whether pursuing errant steers or rounding up young horses at racing pace on the plains of Little Bighorn, scene of Custer’s last stand in 1876.

“Wherever you can ski in winter, you can ride the range in summer”

Peter Ellegard

dude ranches When the Tillets established their working guest ranch in 1976, they broke new ground in a country that already had plenty of well-established dude ranches. That’s the kind where guests, many of them novices in the saddle, live in luxury and walk out with the due caution required to prevent injury litigation. Typically, they appeal to multi-generational holidaymakers, with games and petting zoos for the children, art and cookery classes for the sedentary and skeet shooting and archery for the wannabes who need a target to hit. These are the two extremes of the holiday ranching industry but, as I learned when I visited Lonesome Spur near Bridger, Montana, some ranches are better than others. Owned by the Schwend family since the late 19th century, it was converted into a guest ranch by Lonnie and his then wife, Darlene, in 1993. Shortly afterwards, author Nick Evans stopped off during his research for The Horse Whisperer and modelled Frank and Dianne Booker, the hero’s brother and sister-in-law, on his hosts.

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In real life, Lonnie is as laid back as Frank. A superb rider, he trains his splendid young horses with his own version of the Monty Roberts “horse whisperer” technique, rather than breaking them in with strong bits and spurs as cowboys used to do. Like the Tilletts, the Schwends offer their guests a “working” ranch experience, but mine was restricted to a very slow cattle drive on a horse so fat that the saddle slipped round at any pace above a walk, a potentially alarming result. The other days during my stay were given over to shopping, the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range and the Buffalo Bill Wild West Museum in Cody, an agenda that found no favour with glamorous French clients who’d come dressed to make it like cowgirls. As they also planned to go to the local bar to pick up cowboys, both “sending home” offences in the Schwend etiquette manual, they’re not likely to be repeat customers. The moral of this is that picking the right holiday for your ability and ambitions requires research and planning, especially now that ranching has gone global. Here’s where you can take ranch holidays:

united states Say ranch and most people would think Texas, the traditional heart of the cattle business and the place where real men shoot down their enemies in dusty streets at high noon. It doesn’t disappoint, particularly in Bandera – nicknamed the Cowboy Capital of the World. Since Hollywood’s popular comedy, City Slickers, introduced the nation to rookie cowboys on the cattle trail in the 1990s, horse-rich California has diversified into ranch holidays to suit every aspiration. The Rockies, with their high summer pastures, are

Autumn 2011


let’s try  ranching holidays

 Argentina ranches offer polo lessons and games

Peter Ellegard

 Grand Canyon Ranch, Arizona

Peter Ellegard

 Camp fire singalongs are popular

perfect for cattle-led holidays. As a rule of thumb, wherever you can ski in winter, you can ride the range in summer. That means Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, but note that the season is shorter and the weather colder the further north you go. Rodeo festivals maintain the traditions of the Old West, with bucking, roping and barrel-jumping contests, so check out dates near your destination before you book. From the pizzazz of Las Vegas, a 35-minute helicopter flight takes you straight to the Grand Canyon Ranch Resort on the canyon’s West Rim, where accommodation is in pine cabins or traditional Native American tepees. Activities include guided horse rides, wagon rides on the historic Mormon Trail, roping demonstrations, cowboy stories and fireside sing-alongs. Horse-back or wagon buffalo safaris have just been introduced. There’s also a case for looking outside the box. South Dakota, for example, has a proud equestrian tradition, with Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial thrown in for good measure, while Kentucky, Oklahoma and Kansas showcase American diversity in the saddle. Few would associate Hawaii with ranching, but the Big Island, in particular, has an enormous cattle industry with facilities for range riding of all kinds. You can also join in a cattle drive in several states, helping to move the cattle to or from their summer grazing pastures.

canada North of the border, Calgary, home to the celebrated Stampede each July, is the focus for ranch holidays in Alberta. Many of the outdoor scenes in the award-

Autumn 2011

alternative action Horse culture rules the world – it’s just a question of finding the right way in. Throughout Central Asia extended families spend their summers in remote ger (yurt) camps, tending mixed flocks of yak, goats, horses, cattle and sheep.Why not try an escorted riding and camping trip in Mongolia or Kyrgyzstan with niche adventure company,Wild Frontiers (www.wildfrontiers.co.uk)? The US heads the western location list, but the giant El Questro ranch (www.elquestro.com.au) in the Kimberleys hosted the dramatic cattle drive in Australia, Baz Luhrmann’s romantic epic set in World War II. Leading lady Nicole Kidman was not so fortunate – when she tried for a reservation in the luxurious Homestead, there was no room at the inn. If riding, yoga and game viewing is your scene, Ant’s Nest in South Africa will provide all the necessary bells and whistles. The private safari lodge – maximum of eight guests – offers provides a flexible schedule to suit individual tastes (www.rideworldwide.co.uk). Get stuck into a chukka on a guest ranch in Argentina, the world’s top polo nation. The La Martina residential club (www.poloholidays.com), 100km outside Buenos Aires, is owned by the mother of world number one, Adolfo Cambiaso. There are lessons for beginners, but experienced players take part in games with club members from Buenos Aires, an inside track introduction to the glamorous polista circuit. Peter Ellegard

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let’s try n ranching holidays

n Riding in the Alberta Rockies

ranch holiday facts

winning movie, Brokeback Mountain, were filmed among dramatic lakes and waterfalls in Kananaskis Country, an extensive park with lots of great riding country within 30 minutes of the downtown area. British Columbia, the country’s most westerly and mountainous province, has hidden secrets that deserve to be explored. They include Tsylos Park Lodge, set in a scenic area for trail riding and camping between the Coastal Mountains and the Chilcotin Plateau, and Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, near Tofino on Vancouver Island.

south america For cowboy, read gaucho, for ranch, read estancia, but the name of the game is the same, with men born in the saddle exhibiting skills the rest of us can only marvel at. Over much of Argentina, the pampas stretch as far as the eye can see, herds that run into thousands mere dots on the horizon. Gauchos wear baggy pants held up with woven cotton sashes and cheeky berets or pork pie hats, a different look to the cowboy’s checked shirts, blue jeans and stetsons. Riding in the foothills of the Andes, especially in northern Patagonia, is more interesting than the flatlands. In Ecuador, my ride from estancia to estancia, often with formal dinner hosted by the lord of the manor, provided insights into a yesteryear culture that has changed little over the past century.

australia and new zealand For gaucho, read jackeroo, for estancia, read cattle station, but again these are nations of stockmen engaged in raising cattle and sheep in the back of beyond. In the 21st century, Aussie farmers tend to round up their animals on motorbikes, but many stations are still eager to host riding holidays. The arrival of travelling shearers on a wool-harvesting mission marks the start of a party that lasts for the duration. This is especially true in New Zealand, famously home to just 4.5 million people but 60 million sheep. Freelance travel journalist Minty Clinch writes about global adventures for a range of national newspapers and magazines. Chasing her recalcitrant Shetland pony, The Nipper, round a paddock as a toddler proved the perfect preparation for wilderness camping and crossing continents on horseback in later years, often with a herd of cattle to the fore.

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The season is short in Montana so Ranch Rider advise early booking for the TX Ranch summer pastures camps. Day to day action includes dehorning, branding, tagging, wrangling young horses and chasing down stray cattle as well as castrating, though guests can chill if they prefer. Seven nights’ tented accommodation with full board and riding costs from £989 per person including pick up at Billings airport. Flights from £675. Over16s only. In The Saddle offers cutting-edge adventure at Estancia Huechahue near San Martin de Los Andes in Patagonia, Argentina. Variants include camping trips on horseback through monkey puzzle forests among snow-capped volcanic cones, seasonal cattle drives to distant parts of Patagonian Steppe and fishing trips. Seven nights’ accommodation in two lodges with all meals and drinks starts at £1,696, excluding flights. Children over six welcome. Western and Oriental offers seven nights staying at 923-acre Tiger Mountain Ranch in Oklahoma, a guest ranch which mostly offers scenic Western riding, from £1,665 per person and includes return flights, transfers, taxes, gratuities and full board at the ranch and most ranch activities, with accommodation in a tepee or a lodge room. Wranglers show guests cowboy activities including shooting Old West guns, cattle ranching and learning to live off the land. American Round-Up features the Lonesome Spur Ranch in Montana. One of the best times to go is late May or early June, when activities include moving cattle into summer grazing and possibly branding. Return flights from London to Billings, a first nights’ hotel and seven nights at the ranch with accommodation, full board, ranch activities, Billings transfers, tax and tips costs from £1,799.

ranch holiday specialists American Round Up: 01798 865946, www.americanroundup.com. North American ranch and adventure specialists. In the Saddle: 01299 272997, www.inthesaddle.com. Dude, guest and working ranches in the US and Canada, plus worldwide riding holidays and n Kara Creek Ranch explorer trails in Australia and New Zealand. in Wyoming Ranch Rider: 01509 618811, www.ranchrider.com. US, Canada, Argentina, South Africa & Botswana. Unicorn Trails: 01767 600606, www.unicorntrails.com. Many countries in Latin America (including Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic). Western and Oriental: 020 7963 6657, www.wandotravel.com. Tailormade ranch holidays or add-ons to other holidays in North America.

American Round-Up

TravelAlberta

sample holidays

ranches TX Ranch, Montana: www.txranch.com Lonesome Spur Ranch, Montana: www.lonesomespur.com Grand Canyon Ranch Resort, Arizona: www.grandcanyonranch.com Tsylos Park Lodge, British Columbia, Canada: www.tsylos.com

more information The Dude Ranchers’ Association (www.duderanch.org), founded in 1926, provides a rundown on over 100 dude ranches in the western United States. Western & Oriental

Autumn 2011


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competitions n highlands wildlife break + yorkshire spa stay

WIN a £850 wildlife break for two in the Highlands of Scotland

Greg Morgan

BWWC

A fantastic four-night Scottish n Ptarmigan in Highlands wildlife break for two the Highlands at the Grant Arms Hotel – home of the Bird Watching & Wildlife To enter, go to Club – is up for grabs in this www.tlm-magazine.co.uk fantastic competition! and click on Competitions. Located in the charming country Closing date is November 18, town of Grantown-on-Spey in the 2011. Terms and conditions Cairngorms National Park, the apply; see website for details. Grant Arms Hotel provides an ideal base to explore the stunning Main photo and background: Noel Marry scenery and abundance of local only visit an exceptional Scottish wildlife. No other area can offer the location, but have the advice and chance to see golden eagle, guidance of the Bird Watching & capercaillie, pine marten, red Wildlife Club, which offers a squirrel, red deer, mountain hare, programme of free events, ptarmigan, crested tit, crossbill, including guided walks, osprey, red and black-throated diver, wildlife briefings, talks, otter, Slavonian quizzes and film screenings. grebe, red and The BWWC can also provide black grouse, maps and guides, as bottlenose well as information dolphin and much more!. The winner will not about local wildlife n Crested tit

hotspots and escorted trips – everything you need for an extraordinary wildlife watching holiday in the Highlands. The prize break is for up to two people, on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis for four nights, sharing a superior twin or double room. It can be taken any time before April 30, 2012, subject to room availability and excluding stays over Christmas and New Year.

Photos: Devonshire Hotels

n Michelinstar food

n New Wing bedroom

n The Devonshire Arms exterior

WIN a £425 Michelin dinner and spa stay at

The Devonshire Arms

S

ituated on the Duke of Devonshire’s 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey Estate in the Yorkshire Dales, The Devonshire Arms Country House Hotel & Spa boasts 40 luxury bedrooms, each individual in style. The Old Wing dates back to 1757 and has fantastic charm and character, while the modern Wharfedale Wing was added by the then Duchess of Devonshire in 1982 and refurbished by the current Duchess in early 2009.

Autumn 2011

n Grant Arms Hotel

For more information about the Grant Arms Hotel and the Bird Watching & Wildlife Club, visit www.bwwc.co.uk.

how to enter To WIN a four-night wildlife stay at the Grant Arms Hotel, simply answer this question: Question: In which national park is the Grant Arms Hotel located?

textures in the Burlington restaurant. At the Devonshire Health Barn, it’s all about you, your good health and wellbeing. Relax completely and let an Elemis treatment work its magic. You’ll feel rejuvenated and wonderfully invigorated. Elemis spa therapies are designed to respect the body’s complex physiology, and to work in natural synergy with your skin. You can win a one-night break for two at The Devonshire Arms, including overnight accommodation in a suite, an eight-course Michelin star tasting menu with the sommelier’s choice of wine, and two 30-minute spa treatments, worth over £425. The prize is valid Sunday-Thursday until May 18, 2012 and excludes Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day. Visit www.thedevonshirearms.co.uk for more information.

how to enter

Enjoy two of Yorkshire’s most highlyregarded restaurants – the refined Burlington with a Michelin star and four AA rosettes, or the lively and colourful Devonshire Brasserie and Bar. Both offer excellent food, a superb wine list and dedicated attention from enthusiastic staff. Fresh local produce including estate meat and game with seasonal vegetables and herbs from the kitchen gardens give an outstanding adventure of tastes and

To WIN a one-night stay for two at The Devonshire Arms, simply answer this question: Question: On which estate is The Devonshire Arms? To enter, go to www.tlm-magazine.co.uk and click on the Competitions button. Closing date is November 18, 2011. See website for terms & conditions.

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uk uncovered n britainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spa towns

Bathing beauties Fashionable, elegant and promising to cure all manner of ailments with their mineral-rich springs, the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s spa towns have been attracting the well-heeled for centuries. John Law takes the waters and examines some of the best surviving examples from the golden age of spa tourism

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Autumn 2011


uk uncovered  britain’s spa towns

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council/Mike Bartlett

 The Pantiles, Royal Tunbridge Wells Tunbridge Wells Borough Council/Chris Parker

 Dippers at the Chalybeate Spring

T

hey started with the Romans, became the height of fashion in Georgian times and enjoyed a further renaissance under the health-obsessed Victorians. Modern medicine killed off most of Britain’s spa bathing and treatment centres by the middle of the last century, but the elegant towns that grew around them remain agreeable places to visit.

 Thermae Bath Spa

Bath Tourism Plus/Colin Hawkins

bath

infused with frankincense, eucalyptus and other essential oils, treatment rooms and a restaurant.

royal tunbridge wells Feeling listless and in need of a tonic? The nearest spa town to London – and the only one in the South East – is Royal Tunbridge Wells, where a glass of iron-rich water from the Chalybeate Spring might liven you up. The source was discovered in 1606 and, by Georgian times, the Kent town was a favourite among royalty and nobility as a place to see and be seen. Notable imbibers of the great cure-all included Queen Anne and Queen Victoria, Samuel Pepys and Daniel Defoe. Today, Tunbridge Wells is a prosperous commuter town surrounded by glorious Wealden countryside. Those taking the £4 town tour are shown the original village area around the Grove, the shops in the historic colonnaded Pantiles, old lodging houses on Mount Ephraim, pretty clapboard cottages, elegant Regency villas and grand Victorian homes. They finish with a reviving glass of the Chalybeate water, often served by a “dipper” in traditional costume.

Take the plunge for a new perspective on Georgian Bath. Whether it’s a sizzling summer’s day or a freezing night in February, bobbing around in the warm outdoor pool atop the city’s Thermae Spa is a great way to relax after shopping or footslogging on the tourist trail. Gazing across rooftops to the Abbey and green hills beyond, today’s Bath bathers can thank poor King Bladud and the Romans for discovering the therapeutic benefits of the hot, mineral-rich waters. Legend has it the hot springs cured the Celtic king of his leprosy, while the Romans later built a great temple and magnificent bath-house dedicated to the goddess Minerva. The restored Roman Baths are now among the UK’s harrogate top tourist attractions. You can’t bathe there, but they draw almost one million visitors a year and many pop Spa buildings don’t come much grander than the next door afterwards to the elegant Georgian Pump ornately-styled Royal Baths, home of Harrogate’s TurkRooms for lunch or tea, or a glass of the reputedly ish Baths and Health Spa. The great Islamic arches, healthy but weird-tasting water from the spa fountain. vibrant glazed brickwork, arabesque painted ceilings Bath became a leading spa resort during its 18th and terrazzo floors still provide exotic surroundings in century heyday, when those famous sweeping crescents, which to relax. elegant squares and parks were developed. Last Discovery of the springs of Harrogate year, 4.5 million visitors flocked there for the dates back about four centuries and the grand architecture and first-rate shopping – Royal Baths, which opened in 1897, and to enjoy a session at the country’s only claimed to be the world’s most remaining thermal baths. advanced centre for hydrotherapy. In Opened in the city-centre five years ago, addition to the Turkish baths, there the striking Thermae Bath Spa buildings were mud baths and steam rooms and combine classic Georgian architecture with medicinal waters on offer. Intrepid modern glass and steel. There are four pools Victorians could sign up to a range of  The Inner Space, Thermae Bath Spa fed by the natural hot springs, steam rooms bizarre treatments, such as the Plombiere Thermae Bath Spa

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uk uncovered n britain’s spa towns

Visit Peak District & Derbyshire

n Buxton has some of the country’s purest spring water

“Cheltenham retains its elegant architecture and claims to be England’s most complete Regency town”

the waters there in 1788 the Cotswold town’s reputation took off as one of the country’s most fashionable spas. The Duke of Wellington, suffering from a dodgy liver, gave Cheltenham further prominence when he visited early in the 19th century. The ensuing building boom saw the development of sweeping, classical terraces and squares, elegant villas set in landscaped estates and broad, tree-lined walks. Cheltenham retains its elegant architecture and claims to be England’s most complete Regency town. A mustsee attraction is the magnificent, colonnaded and domed Pittville Pump Room, set amid the gardens and ornamental lakes of Pittville Park. Here the cream of Regency and Victorian society would attend grand balls and take the medicinal waters. It is still used as a venue for entertainment and weddings – and the water continues to be pumped up from a well 80ft below. Cheltenham spa water is claimed to be the only natural consumable alkaline variety in Britain, its chief action being antacid and mildly diuretic. It’s also laxative – an important consideration for imbibers planning a subsequent visit to the town’s stylish shops, or its renowned horse-racing, music or literature festivals.

douche, the Schnee electric hydrotherapy bath, saline sulphur and peat baths. Harrogate is unique as a spa town because of its variety of mineral waters. The saline sulphur bath was prescribed by the consulting doctors as good for gout, rheumatism and hepatic disorders, while the alkaline sulphur water was used for skin diseases. Modern medicine and technology hastened the closure of the treatment centre in 1969, but a two-year buxton £10 million redevelopment of the Royal Baths started in 2002 restored the building to its former glory. Today’s Buxton in Derbyshire has some of the country’s purest visitors can still luxuriate in the Turkish Baths and book spring water, which can be sampled, free of charge, various pampering sessions. from a well dating back to the Middle Ages. St Ann’s Those interested in the history of this attractive North Well was visited in Tudor times by Mary Queen of Yorkshire town can visit the Royal Pump Room Museum Scots when she was held captive at nearby Chatsworth. to see the old sulphur well and sample the spa water. The Before that, the Romans built baths here served by the beautiful Valley Gardens – with their own mineral springs warm springs which emerge at a constant 28ºC. – are a great place to relax, while active types can The town’s attraction as a spa resort gathered pace in the late 18th century, when the fifth go walking, climbing, fishing or wildlife-spotn Temple, Buxton ting on the nearby Yorkshire Dales. Duke of Devonshire built the Crescent alongside St Ann’s Well. Thermal baths cheltenham and more fine buildings were added and the railway’s arrival in 1863 ushered in a The first Cheltenham guide in 1781 golden age. Buxton’s thermal baths closed in the described a visit as “a journey of health and pleasure”. The natural springs had 1950s and today’s visitors are drawn by the annual arts festivals, the ornate Edwardian only been discovered a few years earlier and when King George III spent five weeks taking opera house and the Peak District countryside. Visit Peak District & Derbyshire

spa hotels None of Britain’s grand, old hotels still offer authentic mineral water baths and treatments, although several new ones are on the drawing board. Bath’s planned five-star Gainsborough Hotel will feature its own thermal baths near the city’s Thermae Bath Spa, although the project is much delayed. Also at the planning stage is major redevelopment of Buxton’s magnificent old Crescent building as a fivestar hotel offering thermal spa treatments.

30 tlm n the travel & leisure magazine

Meanwhile, visitors to Bath seeking accommodation with an on-site modern spa book properties such as the five-star, 18th century Macdonald Bath Spa. In Buxton, Old Hall is reputed to be England’s oldest hotel and entertained Mary Queen of Scots when she sampled the waters. The Barcelo Palace is an imposing Victorian hotel built when Buxton’s spa tourism was booming. The Cottage in the Wood is a historic hotel built in the hillside near Malvern’s Holy Well, while the Malvern Hotel is a modern property with an award-winning spa. Fine Georgian and Regency buildings which

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once enjoyed a thriving trade from visitors taking the waters include The George in Cheltenham, The Spa in Tunbridge Wells, the recently-refurbished Crown in Harrogate, and The Angel, a former Leamington coaching inn. One of Droitwich’s more popular hotels is St Andrews Town Hotel, built as the town clerk’s house in 1820. The Metropole in Llandrindod Wells was the largest hotel in Wales when it opened in the 1890s with its own spa treatment centre. That closed in 1972 but the hotel, now a four-star property, does offer a modern spa.

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The Hotel occupies a secluded spot on the side of Lose Hill with stunning views overlooking Win Hill. Drive along a little lane near Hope, equidistant from the wonderful villages of Castleton and Edale, and join us in the midst of some of the best walking and outdoor activity countryside in Derbyshire. Check out www.losehillhouse.co.uk or contact us on 01433 621 219 for our midweek rates and special offers or spa breaks and enjoy the very best of the Peak District for yourself - hill top to hot tub!

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Autumn 2011


uk uncovered n britain’s spa towns

signature spa treatments

n The frigidarium at Harrogate Turkish Baths

royal leamington spa Impressive claims were made for the spa treatment at Leamington’s Royal Pump Rooms and Baths when they opened in 1814. Relief from a huge number of disorders was claimed – including “stiffness of tendons”, “rigidity of the joints”, and “the effects of gout and rheumatism and various paralytic conditions”. Leamington was a small Warwickshire agricultural village until about 1800, when it started to exploit the money-spinning potential of its mineral springs. Princess (later Queen) Victoria was among those sampling the saline waters and the place grew rapidly into an elegant town of fine Regency and Victorian architecture and beautiful gardens. Visitors can no longer use the baths, but they can taste the salty spring water from outside the Pump Rooms and enjoy the rich legacy of the spa boom. The

Autumn 2011

restored Pump Rooms are home to the Assembly Rooms and Conservatory, art gallery, library and tea rooms, and the museum tells the story of the town’s spa treatments. Jephson Gardens, which gained prominence for its promenading, croquet, tennis, fountains, illuminations and military bands, has been restored with a Heritage Lottery Fund grant and is now a Victorian oasis with a sub-tropical glasshouse and restaurant.

n The pumprooms at Royal Leamington Spa

Warwick District Council

Thermae Bath Spa

n The hot bath at Thermae Bath Spa

Britainonview/Martin Brent

Imagine floating dreamily in warm mineral waters that fell as rain 10,000 years ago while being gently stretched and massaged. You’d be hard pressed to find anything more relaxing, claims the Thermae Bath Spa, whose signature 50-minute Watsu treatment soothes in the restored Georgian Hot Bath. With eyes closed, it’s easy to nod off while the therapist guides your body through a series of flowing movements. It costs £60 and is ideal for easing a stiff or aching back and limbs. Signature treatments at Harrogate’s Turkish Baths start off with an appropriately-Turkish ritual in a room scented with exotic candles. The warmed candle oil with shea butter is then decanted and massaged into the body during the 75-minute Eastern Temptation option, costing £65. For an extra £20 you can book an Eastern Indulgence, which also includes a delicate exfoliating full body polish with jojoba and shea butter.

malvern Take a walk in the glorious Malvern Hills in Worcestershire and there’s no need to pack a day’s supply of water along with your sarnies. There are plenty of wells providing that famous refreshing water – if you know where to look. Tucked away in valleys are Holy Well and St Ann’s Well, where a café offers more refreshment. Elsewhere

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uk uncovered  britain’s spa towns

spa towns facts Britainonview/Pete Seaward

 The glorious Malvern Hills

Bath www.visitbath.co.uk Thermae Bath Spa www.thermaebathspa.com Roman Baths and Pump Room, Bath www.romanbaths.co.uk Droitwich www.droitwichspa.com Buxton www.peakdistrictinformation.com  The Roman Cheltenham www.visitcheltenham.com Baths, Bath Harrogate www.harrogate.gov.uk/turkishbaths Malvern www.visitthemalverns.org Llandrindod Wells www.llandrindod.co.uk Royal Tunbridge Wells www.visittunbridgewells.com Royal Leamington Spa www.royal-leamington-spa.co.uk

are many more springs, some restored, such as the Beauchamp Spout and the Malvhina Fountain. Two doctors brought hydrotherapy from Austria and built the first water cure house in Malvern in 1845. You can no longer take the spa treatments but many impressive buildings from that era are still in use as public offices. The Council House, for example, provided the original consulting rooms in Victorian times. George Bernard Shaw and Edward Elgar brought Malvern into the 20th century with their theatre and music festivals held in the Winter Gardens. The town’s cultural life continues to thrive, with the restored Edwardian theatre attracting top-class drama, ballet and opera and the Forum Theatre is a top music venue. The medieval Abbey Gateway houses Malvern’s Museum, which gives an insight into the region’s geology and spa history.

hotels

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council/Chris Parker

droitwich While other spa towns may boast of kings and queens taking a therapeutic dip, Droitwich has the distinction of hosting footballing royalty. In the 1970s, the entire Manchester United team took a brine bath – a treatment claimed to be particularly beneficial for those with rheumatic conditions. The Worcestershire town made its fortune from salt and the natural brine springs have been used for bathing since Roman times. St Richard’s House in the town centre was the frontage to the old Brine Baths which closed in 1974. Another facility opened 11 years later as part of Droitwich Spa Hospital. Sadly this has now closed but private investors currently have plans to develop new brine baths. Meanwhile, swimmers can enjoy a dip in the briny at the town’s 1930s outdoor Lido, which reopened four years ago. The natural brine is denser than the Dead Sea but at the pool it is diluted to the density of sea water.

Bath Macdonald Bath Spa: www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/bathspa; Best Western Centurion Hotel: www.centurionhotel.co.uk Malvern The Malvern: www.themalvernspa.com; The Cottage in the Wood: www.cottageinthewood.co.uk Droitwich St Andrews Town Hotel: www.st-andrewshotel.com Leamington The Angel: www.angelhotelleamington.co.uk Buxton Old Hall: www.oldhallhotelbuxton.co.uk; Losehill House Hotel: www.losehillhouse.co.uk; Barcelo Palace: www.barcelo-hotels.co.uk Cheltenham The George: www.stayatthegeorge.co.uk Harrogate The Crown: www.crownhotelharrogate.com Llandrindod Wells The Metropole: www.metropole.co.uk Tunbridge Wells The Spa: www.spahotel.co.uk

packages Superbreak: www.superbreak.com  The Pantiles Colonnade Expedia: www.expedia.co.uk at Tunbridge Wells Shearings Holidays: www.shearings.com

Bath-based travel journalist John Law advises enjoying tea at the Pump Rooms but to go easy glugging the strange-tasting spa water.

WIN a pair of Thermae Bath Spa vouchers We have teamed up with Thermae Bath Spa to give away a pair of four-hour spa session vouchers, including hire of towels, robes and slippers, worth £88. You will have access to the open-air rooftop pool, with its views over the city of Bath, as well as the large Minerva thermal bath and the fabulous steam rooms. Go to www.tlm-magazine.co.uk and click on Competitions. Terms and conditions apply. Closing date November 18, 2011.

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visitbath.co.uk

spa towns and spa facilities

llandrindod wells The Romans were the first to enjoy the health benefits of bathing in Llandrindod’s saline-sulphur spring water and by the mid-1700s the town was described as “the Queen of Welsh Watering Places”. It then fell out of fashion until the coming of the Central Wales Railways in 1865, when Llandrindod’s spa business took off. Hotels, apartments, new treatment centres, two pavilions, a golf course, bowling and putting greens and a 14-acre boating lake were built to cater for 80,000 visitors a year. The town no longer provides spa treatments, although visitors continue to enjoy many of the 19th century attractions. Today, Llandrindod is best known for its annual Drama and Victorian festivals, but there are plans to develop the former Rock Park Spa and to provide a hydrotherapy centre.

Autumn 2011


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off the beaten track

cuba

Viva the new

revolution

Cuba is embracing the post-Fidel era with investment in the tourist sector continuing apace, yet it remains largely steadfast to its revolutionary principles. Martin Ferguson finds out why this unique land of paradoxes continues to entice

cuba tips Native Cubans use the Cuban peso, but tourists must use the convertible peso (CUC or CUC$) which is valued against the dollar. Do not try and exchange money outside of your hotel or the airport. Dollars are sometimes accepted, but it is not considered official currency. Cuba has extremely low crime levels. Police constantly monitor locals in tourist areas. However, there are a number of beggars, especially in Havana. Keep valuables in your hotel room safe. Toiletries and many medicines are in short supply, so you are advised to take adequate supplies. There are many quality arts and crafts markets across the country, but beware of buying rum and cigars from anywhere other than official vendors, as you may be getting dangerously-poor products.

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pushed open the heavy, wooden door and immediately recognised the cracked marble staircase, the crumbling ornate pillars, and the fading homage to Fidel painted on the wall. In 1994, this tenement building in central Havana was turned into a film set for Tomás

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Gutiérrez Alea’s internationally-acclaimed, Fresa y Chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate), a picture I studied almost a decade later at university. Three flights up a dark staircase hides La Guarida – the den or hideaway – where much of the movie was filmed. It was home to a gay man called Diego, one of the main characters. His apartment was an Aladdin’s Cave of illicit art, literature and trinkets, all prohibited by the regime. The film was so successful that tourists arrived in

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off the beaten track  cuba

their droves searching for this clandestine paradise. The real owner, Enrique Nuñez del Valle, saw an opportunity. Using the original props as decor, he opened a paladar – a dining experience unique to Cuba, where families open private restaurants in their own front rooms – named after the movie (www.laguarida.com). I’d spent so much time analysing the iconography and symbolism of La Guarida, it was truly surreal to be sitting in the very same apartment gorging on the best food Cuba had to offer. But then again, walking through the streets of Havana you could be forgiven for thinking you were on the world’s largest film set. That said, the notion that Cuba is locked in a time warp is becoming somewhat outdated. Since El Comandante, Fidel Castro, transferred power to his brother Raul in 2006, there has been modest socio-economic progress. Cubans, for example, can now own computers and mobile phones. Access is restricted, but there has been enough online liberty to fuel a cultural upheaval. Cubans can now also stay in hotels that were once the private enclaves of foreign guests.

old cadillacs But thankfully for tourists, there are more than enough superficial oddities. One can still marvel at the clapped-out Pontiacs, Buicks, Fords and Cadillacs that chug their way noisily through the pot-hole ridden streets (you

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can usually book a classic car journey at your hotel reception). It’s a similar story in relation to housing. While much is invested in constructing and restoring hotels, most of the grandiose baroque and neo-colonial buildings are dilapidated and, often, literally falling down. I was treated to a fairly standard itinerary during a recent visit: Revolution Square, the Havana Club rum museum, La Habana Vieja (Old Havana) and Ernest Hemingway’s favourite watering hole, El Floridita. These should be on every visitor’s “to do” list. You don’t have to look too hard, however, to find something off the beaten track. For starters, forego the lure of the luxury hotels, and bunk up with a Cuban family for a few days. The casa particular is a similar concept to that of the paladar. It provides the tourist with an authentic Cuban experience, and allows some natives to live above the breadline. Expect to pay between £5 and £80 per night. Cigar smoking is as synonymous with Cuban culture as salsa, and tobacco plantations and factories are littered across the country. But the guided tour at the Partagas factory in central Havana should not be missed, unless you suffer from a respiratory illness. You’ll need to clear your lungs with a blast of fresh air, so walk directly to

“Walking through the streets of Havana you could be forgiven for thinking you were on the world’s largest film set”  Catedral de la Habana in Havana old town Cuba Tourist Board

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off the beaten track

cuba

Cubans walk as if they are dancing. Around every corner you’ll see musicians in the street and hear the pulsating beat of salsa or son coming from every window. Unsurprisingly, the capital is awash with quality music and dance venues: La Zorra y el Cuervo: On La Rampa, close to the Havana Libre hotel, it is considered one of the best jazz nightclubs in Havana. The entrance is a red British telephone box. Doors open at 9pm, music is played from 1130pm until 3am. The pay-at-the-door cover charge is usually 10 CUC. Casa de la Musica de Centro Habana: On Galiano Street, it is one of the largest dance venues in the city. There is usually a live afternoon show from 4pm till 11pm before it becomes an all-night disco after 1am. The cover charge depends on the quality of the act, but is generally 5-10 CUC. La Madriguera: On the corner of Salvador Allende and Luaces, the home to the Cuban union of writers and artists is a hotbed of musical and artistic innovation. Entry costs 5 CUC. Opening times are 9am-7pm daily except Thursday, when it is open until midnight.

Havana is awash with music and dance venues

up for in history, culture and lively nightlife. It was also the site of one of the most significant moments in Cuban history – the battle of Santa Clara. In late 1958, Che Guevara and his guerilla army used a bulldozer to derail a train carrying supplies and reinforcements for Batista’s army. They went on to capture the city, and less than 12 hours later Batista fled the country. A short walk from the main square is the site where the attack took place, and the bulldozer and fallen train carriages remain preserved in the same spot. A mile out of town is the Che Guevara museum and mausoleum. A two-hour drive south is the colonial outpost, Trinidad de Cuba. Its museums and beaches are a huge draw for tourists. In 1988, UNESCO made this architectural jewel a World Heritage Site. The highlight for most is a visit to the Manaca-Iznaga tower, which commands stunning views over the coastline and the Valley of the Mills.

the Malecón, the concrete promenade that stretches some eight miles along the sea front. In the morning, you’ll see no more than a few amateur fishermen with homemade rods, but from late afternoon it becomes a hive of activity and a haven for people watching.

world heritage site To escape the humid bustle of Havana, go to the central station and catch the Hershey train – built in 1917 by the famous American chocolate manufacturer to transport workers from the capital to Matanzas. Then switch lines and move on to Santa Clara, 270km east of the capital. What this city lacks in architectural beauty it makes The colonial outpost of Trinidad de Cuba

Rum and pineapple

Cuba Tourist Board

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Cuba Tourist Board

resorts Cuba’s modern resorts tend to receive most government investment. The Cayos, especially Cayo Coco, are ideal for those looking for heat, good food and some peace and quiet. My father-in-law visits once a year, and insists it’s the best part of the island. Further west along the northern coast is Varadero, the largest and busiest of the resorts. It’s big, bustling, and not to everyone’s taste. But it is best placed for those

Autumn 2011

Cuba Tourist Board

music in havana


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Autumn 2011

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off the beaten track n cuba

n Varadero is Cuba’s biggest resort

cuba facts Cuba enjoys 330 days of sunshine a year. The rainy season – which often brings violent storms and occasionally hurricanes – runs from May to October. The dry season, therefore, is from November to April.

n Busy Havana Captivating Cuba

when to go

wanting to combine beach-time with day trips to the cities and countryside. Pinar del Rio, on the west side of the island, is only a few hours drive away. Known as the garden of Cuba, it boasts some of the island’s most impressive landscapes and wildlife, including the country’s red, white and blue national bird, the Tocororo. And, like much of rural and coastal Cuba, there are scores of outdoor activities in which to indulge, including trekking, snorkelling and scuba diving. Just to the north lies the Viñales Valley and its impressive El Indio limestone caves. Rumours that the US’s softening stance on Cuba will soon lead to an invasion of tourists seem somewhat premature. As recently as July, President Obama was under Congressional pressure to uphold existing laws. However, the paralysing n Cigar factories are on the embargo is sure to tourist circuit come to an end sooner rather than later, opening Cuba up to American tourists. I recommend you get there before it does.

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n Book a classic car at your hotel

getting around Hire cars are available at airports. Drivers must be at least 21. Public transport is safe, but often extremely busy and unreliable. Taxis are a cheap and safe way to get around.

accommodation The pick of Havana’s hotels include the imposing, twin-towered Hotel Nacional (www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com) and the Hotel Saratoga (www.hotel-saratoga.com). While Hotel Playa Pesquero (www.hotelplayapesquerocuba.com) is the stand-out resort in Holguin, the Blau Hotel (www.blauhotels.com) in Varadero and Tryp Cayo Coco should also be considered. For casas particulars, visit The Casa Particular organisation (www.casaparticularcuba.org).

Cuba Tourist Board

Specialists include Captivating Cuba (www.captivatingcuba.com), Cuba Direct (www.cubadirect.co.uk), Havanatur (www.havanatur.com), Headwater (www.headwater.com) and Journey Latin America (www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk). n Havana’s Mainstream operators include Thomas Cook Revolution Square (www.thomascook.com), Thomson Holidays (www.thomson.co.uk) and Virgin Holidays n Horse riding (www.virginholidays.com). at Viñales

Cuba Tourist Board

tour operators

Manuel Riveiro

At only 31, journalist Martin Ferguson has already experienced some of the world’s most fascinating destinations. But he regularly tells family and friends that Havana is the one city they must see before they die.

There are scheduled flights from London Gatwick to Holguin and Havana with Cubana Airlines (www.cubana.cu) and Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com). Air Europa (www.aireuropa.com) flies from Gatwick to Havana via Madrid. Charter flights with Thomas Cook Airlines (www.thomascookairlines.com) and Thomson Airways (www.thomsonfly.com) go to Varadero, Cayo Coco, Santa Clara and Holguin.

Headwater Holidays

Cuba Tourist Board

getting there

tourist information Cuba Tourist Board: www.travel2Cuba.co.uk

n Background picture: Cayo Coco Cuba Tourist Board

Autumn 2011


a touch of class n butlers and personal service

service

At your

Being waited on hand and foot isn’t purely the preserve of the landed gentry. Many hotels and even cruise ships now offer butler service or concierge floors, while you can also indulge yourself with a personal shopper or chauffeur/guide, as Debbie Ward reports

I

f your idea of a butler springs from the pages of Jeeves and Wooster, you may be surprised to learn you don’t have to be a member of the aristocracy to enjoy such personal service – it could come as part of your holiday. While a hotel butler may not be standing by to put toothpaste on your brush, as one of Prince Charles’ staff was rumoured to do, they can help with chores, such as unpacking and pressing your clothes, or treats like running you a flower-strewn bath at an allotted time. When the Savoy reopened last October following an ambitious £100 million refurbishment, it introduced a new generation of butlers. This elite task force will tackle a range of jobs including completing guests’ business expense forms and helping them dress for dinner. There’s even a green butler to advise on all things ecofriendly in London. Prices for a suite for the night with butler service start at around £1,100 plus VAT, though it’s worth looking out for packages. In recent years, a wide range of more mainstream hotels have added complimentary butler service for higher room categories. And it’s not only business travellers who are the target; many beach resorts have introduced butlers to help guests mark a special occasion, or simply get maximum relaxation from their holiday. The Savoy is managed by Fairmont

butler and chauffeur tips l Butler service may be included in your room rate but a tip is usually expected at the end of your stay. l Preference forms on your hotel’s website, or sent by email, help your butler prepare for your visit. If you’re not using butler service, you may still be able to select from pillow menus or choose the scent or flowers you’d like in your room. l If you travel independently, compare the cost of car hire to booking a tour with a personal driver; the chauffeur option, which often includes entrance fees, may prove competitive. n Green butler at The Savoy The Savoy

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Hotels & Resorts, which has butler service at several properties. The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados even has “beach butlers” who’ll deliver drinks and nibbles and fetch items from your room. St Regis is another chain with butlers. They’ll wake you with morning tea and newspapers and spring to other requests made by email. Caribbean all-inclusive chain Sandals now has butler service as standard with its top-tier suites. The staff can be summoned from a dedicated mobile phone to unpack your luggage, serve you dinner in your suite, shine your shoes and press your clothes. They’ll also organise your stay, making all your spa, tour and dinner reservations and reconfirming your flights before departure. A onebedroom honeymoon suite with butler service at Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas currently costs from £2,999 per person for a week’s all-inclusive in high season, including flights.

far east On a smaller scale, Serene Pavilions, a boutique beach hotel at Wadduwa, Sri Lanka, opened two years ago with an all-butler concept. Serene has just 12 large villas which cost from around £295 per night including breakfast. They’re full of mod cons, including remote-controlled blinds, but if the effort of pressing a button wears you out, your 24-hour butler can step in to ease your stay. “Butlers help guests to unpack their baggage, organise their meals, provide all the services requested by them and basically follow them without interrupting their privacy,” explains Serene Pavilions chief executive Anura Lokuhetty. “They’ll even organise meetings with the chef to decide on the menu and locations for their meals, as we provide several options.” Elsewhere in Asia, the Nam Hai hotel in Vietnam

Autumn 2011

MSC Cruises

 The Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Barbados, provides beach butlers

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

a touch of class  butlers and personal service

 Relaxing in the spa on MSC Fantasia

beach resort Hoi An recently called in the Guild of Professional English Butlers to train its staff for three months. The guild, which also trains Sandals’ butlers, notes Caribbean and Far East hotels are particularly keen to add this personal service. Among many others, it has also trained butlers at London’s Lanesborough and North Island, in the Seychelles – honeymoon destination of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The guild has seen a boom in hotels seeking its services. “I’ve been training butlers in hotels for 15 years and

“It’s very much tailoring the service to suit the guest”

personal service with local experts chauffeurs Being chauffeured on your holiday may seem an A-list extravagance but several tour operators, including Kirker Holidays, Kuoni and Regent Holidays, offer tailormade touring itineraries with private driver/guides. It may even be a practical choice for independent travel in destinations where road or vehicle safety is an issue. In the UK and Ireland, Dream Escapes can arrange private journeys by fun and fabulous transport including sports cars, helicopters and seaplanes.

personal shoppers In cities famous for retail therapy, many top-end hotels offer paid or complimentary personal shoppers. In Bangkok, for instance, Banyan Tree has a free shopping companion who’ll hit the malls and markets for three hours with you, while until December 31, Hansar Bangkok is offering a free shopping ambassador in conjunction with department store Siam Paragon. In Marrakech, where haggling is key, paying a personal shopper could even save you money; tour operator Fleewinter can set you up with one. Major department stores including New York’s Macy’s and Bloomingdales also offer personal shopper services.

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a touch of class n butlers and personal service

personal ser vice facts butler service hotels

concierge floors and services If you don’t want to splash out on the full butler experience, concierge floors (also called club or executive floors) in both hotels and cruise ships can be a good compromise. Though perks vary, these upgraded levels usually have a lounge for breakfast, drinks and snacks, better room facilities, and dedicated check-in and concierge desks. Many major hotel chains including Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton and Starwood offer such floors and, more surprisingly, some Disney hotels do as well. The hotel concierge, who helps with reservations and local advice, is a familiar concept but nowadays not all such services are desk-bound. Thinking of popping the question on holiday? At Cap Maison, St Lucia a proposal concierge will help you do it in style, perhaps with the ring sent down a zipwire to an offshore dining deck. And if you don’t fancy lugging your skis to the airport, how about sending them ahead to your chalet with ski concierge service Piste of Mind? Upmarket tour operators, among them Kirker Holidays, Audley Travel and Abercrombie & Kent, also offer concierge services, booking ballet tickets, behind-thescenes tours, that special restaurant or a family party so the highlights of your trip are already in place when you arrive. Debbie Ward has been a travel journalist for 12 years. She once hired a private driver when she and her partner toured Sri Lanka to chauffeur them between cultural highlights – a luxury she could get used to.

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cruise lines MSC Cruises: www.msccruises.co.uk Silversea Cruises: www.silversea.com Celebrity Cruises: www.celebritycruises.com For more see: www.discovercruises.co.uk

tour operators offering personal drivers and/ or concierge service Dream Escape: www.dreamescape.co.uk Kirker Holidays: www.kirkerholidays.com Regent Holidays: www.regent-holidays.co.uk Audley Travel: www.audleytravel.co.uk Kuoni: www.kuoni.co.uk The Private Travel Company: www.theprivatetravelcompany.co.uk TransIndus: www.Transindus.co.uk Abercrombie & Kent: www.abercrombiekent.com Cox & Kings: www.coxandkings.co.uk

hotels with concierge floors Starwood Hotels: www.starwoodhotels.com Ritz-Carlton: www.ritzcarlton.com Disney hotels: www.disneyparks.co.uk

other concierge services Cap Maison, St Lucia: www.capmaison.com/proposal-concierge.html Piste of Mind: www.pisteofmind.com

Starwood Hotels

it’s increased year on year so now almost every type of hotel has some form of butler service,” says Guild president Robert Watson. “It’s almost a guest expectation these days; it’s not restricted to the luxury five-star market. “The most important thing is to treat the guests as individuals and that’s very much the essence of my training. They may want you to be smiling, bubbly or ‘yes’, ‘no,’ ‘there you are’. It’s very much tailoring the service to suit the guest.” Cruise lines, too, are committed to butler service, most now offering it with higher-grade suites. MSC Cruises’ butlers, for instance, can be paged round-theclock to take care of laundry and shoe shining, make priority bookings for restaurants, tender access and excursions. They’ll even arrange for onboard boutiques to open exclusively for you.

MSC Cruises

Sandals

n Butler service at Sandals

Fairmont Hotels: www.fairmont.com St Regis Hotels: www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis The Savoy: www.fairmont.com/savoy Lanesborough, London: www.lanesborough.com The Connaught, London: www.the-connaught.co.uk Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel: www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/bathspa Sandals: www.sandals.co.uk Serene Pavilions, Sri Lanka: www.serenepavilions.com Nam Hai, Vietnam: www.thenamhai.com North Island, Seychelles: www.northisland.com Half Moon, Jamaica: www.halfmoon.rockresorts.com The Chatwal, New York: www.thechatwalny.com Bellagio, Las Vegas: www.bellagio.com For more see: www.guildofbutlers.com/client.php

personal shoppers Banyan Tree: www.banyantree.com Hansar Bangkok: www.slh.com/hansarbangkok Fleewinter: www.fleewinter.co.uk/morocco/ Bloomingdales: www.Bloomingdales.com Macy’s: www.macys.com

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*Price correct at time of print and based on the basic cover for an 18 to 65 year old travelling to Europe, excludes discount and screened conditions. Medical screening is available online or over the phone, discount will not apply. Full terms & conditions of cover benemts apply. 5% discount closes 31st January 2012. Staysure.co.uk Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Registered company No. 436804

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in your

Bags of bottle

Lightweight essentials

T

he stylish faux-leather toiletry and travel bags from Matt & Nat not only look good, but are good for the environment too. Developed by founder and creative director, Inder Bedi – who was challenged by a mahatma to become a vegetarian for 30 days, an act which would have a profound effect on his life and that of others – all linings of their bags are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles; on average, 21 water bottles are recycled to make the lining of each bag. Earlier this year, cork labelling inside the bags

was introduced, an innovative material that is environmentally sustainable. The autumn/winter collection includes a range of bags and wallets in matte black and blue, including the stylish Braun black weekender and Rogue black toiletry bag. Matt & Nat is stocked on ASOS and is available from Urban Outfitters and independent boutiques across the UK. For full details of all their products, go to www.mattandnat.com. For your chance to WIN a Braun weekender worth £135 and a Rogue toiletry bag worth £55, go to www.tlm-magazine.co.uk and click on Competitions. Terms and conditions apply. Closing date November 13, 2011.

Banish smears K

eeping your sunglasses, iPod, camera or Kindle clean and smear-free is never easy and particularly when surrounded by sunscreen and ice cream while on holiday. A new range of silicon-free lens care products from Dr Optic is ideal for travel and provide quick-drying, smear-free cleaning for all coated lenses and screens. Dr Optic’s Optical Lens Wipes, available in packs of 12 or 24, are

Autumn 2011

flightbag

perfect for popping in your glasses or camera case, while the travel-sized Lens Cleaner Spray with microfibre cloth is ideal for all delicate lens surfaces. Dr Optic products are available

at all good pharmacies and supermarkets as well as at branches of John Lewis and Lakeland, with prices starting from just £1. For more information, visit www.droptic.net.

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Packing a flight bag to avoid baggage check-in is a chore, particularly given the restrictions on liquids, so finding skincare products to suit is essential. The new Madara Travel Kit contains five travel-sized beauty essentials including cleansing milk, deep balance toner and regenerating night cream and all products are organic, natural and eco-friendly. The Madara range, originally from Latvia, is available from Selfridges, Harrods, Wholefoods and independent stores nationwide and online from leading online retailers including feelunique.com and lovelula.com. The Travel Kit is priced at £6.95; for more information go to www.madara.co.uk.

Lip salvation Chapped lips are inevitable in the autumn and winter months, and even if you are heading for warmer climes, you need a reliable lip balm in your bag to keep your lips moist and supple throughout your flight or holiday. Blistex has been providing lip care since 1947 and its new Lip Brilliance product not only has all the benefits of its best-selling lip balms but also has a delicate pink sheen and real silk extracts and Hyaluronic Filling Spheres for a fuller lip appearance, making this a handbag essential. Lip Brilliance is available from Boots, at just £2.49; for more information on Blistex products, go to www.blistex.co.uk.

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in your

suitcase

Hair today...

Finding room in your suitcase for those essential items to keep your beauty regime intact, even while away, is no longer a problem thanks to a new range of mini beauty gadgets from natural health and beauty pioneer Club Cleo. The Goliat Miniature 500w Travel Dryer has a ready-fitted Euro plug and at only four inches by four inches in size, it is a holiday must. Other products include the Vida Nano-Depil Mini Epilator, for men and women, the Yahari manicure/pedicure kit and the ID Italian multitreatment beauty and skin massager. Prices start from £12.50; for more details go to www.club-cleo.com.

Think pink

Want to have a good-looking and useful beauty case that is also doing good? Elemis has pledged a donation of £10,000 to Breast Cancer Care from its Think Pink Beauty Kit, containing three of its top skincare products, including a 30ml ProCollagen Marine Cream and 15ml Pro-Collagen Lifting Treatment for neck and bust in limited edition pink containers, in a patent pink cube cosmetics bag. Buy online for £29.90 at www.timetospa.co.uk.

Splash about safely

If you are taking your little ones on a late sun break, they will need to be properly equipped for the beach and sea. The Splash About range of clothing has something for everyone. The fabric of the Safe in Sun UV protection suit saves the skin from burning, while the Warm in Water wetsuit jacket and shorts with soft neoprene not only gives sun protection but also gives added warmth so your children enjoy swimming more. Prices start at £29.99; for more information and stockist details go to www.splashabout.com.

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Carry more, or less K

arrimor, founded in Lancashire in 1946, have been making bags and equipment for over 60 years, producing durable backpacks selected by some of the world’s most accomplished mountaineers. Diversifying into footwear and travel luggage, the Global range was developed and the Global Equator 70 wheeled bag, which can also be worn on your shoulders, is a very useful, durable, suitcase. Weighing 3.2kg, this versatile bag has a rugged wheel system with two internal mesh pockets as well as an internal security pocket. With lockable zips, side compression straps and a rigid base, this bag will suit even the most demanding of travellers. The Global Equator 70 costs £100 and is available from retailers such as Field and Trek or online from www.karrimor.com

For your chance to WIN a Global Equator 70 worth £100, go to www.tlm-magazine.co.uk and click on Competitions. Terms and conditions apply. Closing date November 13, 2011.

Hot foot it in Shrimps

F

unctional and fashionable footwear is a must for late season breaks and men’s casual range Fish ‘n’ Chips, from footwear brand Base London, has recently launched a mid-top boot that ticks all the boxes. The Shrimp boot features a thick rubber sole, a cushioned corduroy cuff and a twin layer tongue that can be folded into the hiking inspired laces. Available from leading high street retailers and online, Shrimp costs £49.99; for stockists and more information, go to www.baselondon.com.

Autumn 2011


travel n tech

Double talk eep your hands on the steering wheel at all times on your next motoring trip with the new, portable Parrot MINIKIT+ hands-free kit. The MINIKIT+ manages two Bluetoothenabled mobile phones at the same time and is voice-controlled. So if you have one phone for personal use and another for business calls, it will handle calls to either phone, giving different ring tones to each one. The MINIKIT+ also automatically synchronises its phonebook with the two connected mobile phones, storing up to 2,000 contacts. If the caller is in the phonebook, it will state their

K

name and you simply say “accept” or “reject” to take or refuse the call. To make a call, just press the unit’s green button to launch the voice recognition and say the name of the contact. It then dials the number automatically. A vibration sensor switches the unit back on and reconnects to phones when you open the car door. It lets you vocally

manage emails and SMS hands-free, using the TextFriendlyTM subscription service which launches soon. Your mobile’s satnav app instructions can also play through its integrated loudspeaker. The MINIKIT+ attaches to the sun visor via an adjustable elastic strap, for when the visor is up or down. Available from November, the MRSP is £64.99. www.parrot.com

Eco power new gadget that can charge all your travel devices is friendly to the environment, too. The IDAPT i1 Eco’s three charging tips will charge most phones including iPhone, Blackberry, Samsung and HTC, most MP3 players, most tablets and gizmos such as satnavs, Amazon’s Kindle, Xbox controllers and Nintendo’s 3DS. While other chargers use

A

Far sighted Bring the world closer to you with the latest lightweight, compact binoculars from Austrian optical experts Swarovski Optik. Weighing just 500g (17oz), the new pocket-sized CL Companion binoculars are the lightest premium binoculars on the market – and handy for tucking into hand luggage or your suitcase when travelling or simply for taking on hikes or outings. The binoculars have a case and comfortable neck strap and come in 8x or 10x magnification in green, sand-brown or black. They feature razor-sharp optics and the legendary quality of the Tyrol-based company, which has been producing precision optical instruments since 1949. Available in camera shops and online, the CL Companion 8x model has an RRP of £790 and the 10x version is £820. www.swarovskioptik.com

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power as long as they are plugged in, the multi-voltage IDAPT i1 Eco automatically shuts power off – including standby power – when the connected

device is fully charged. Costing £20, it can be used in-car and has a USB power lead for charging from PC or Mac. www.idaptweb.com

Music to go L isten to your favourite music on the go wirelessly with the new SoundLink portable speaker from Bose. Music from smartphones or tablets can be streamed to give audio performance that defies

the speaker’s size. The size of an average book, its integrated cover unfolds into a stand and switches the system off when closed. The rechargeable battery typically lasts eight hours. Available from Bose stores and dealers, it costs from £259. www.bose.co.uk

Autumn 2011


travel

tech

APPS CORNER

Sofa surfing S

tuck for ideas where to go on holiday next year? Finding your ideal break is now easier thanks to a tieup between Teletext Holidays and electronics giant Samsung. Owners of Samsung Smart TVs can download the Teletext Holidays Video App to help them search for holidays and also get a flavour of the local surroundings via destination videos and guides. And if you still need help, the app – downloadable from Samsung Apps – has a Teletext Holidays TV section which recommends new and exciting destinations through video content. Victoria Sanders, Teletext Holidays managing director, said: “This is a first

for the travel industry and I believe it has the potential to transform the holiday search process. The joy for customers is being able to browse through available holidays, then see hotel images and destination video guides all from the comfort of their sofa.” Samsung Smart TVs are available in retailers across the UK and have a Smart Hub that opens up content from specially-designed apps as well as from the internet and other access points. Samsung Apps is the first and biggest app store available for TVs, with over five million apps already downloaded worldwide. www.samsung.com/uk; www.teletextholidays.co.uk

Flash, bang, wallop – water picture W orried you might drop your precious camera in the sea or onto wet snow on holiday? Polaroid’s latest compact and lightweight digital camera may be the perfect answer. The Polaroid x800E offers an eight megapixel sensor, 8x zoom, 2.4-inch LCD screen, face tracking and smile and blink detection. It is also waterproof, so you can be sure you

Autumn 2011

will get the perfect picture, wherever you are and whatever the conditions. Polaroid’s little marvel has an RRP of £49.99 and

is available from leading photography shops and online from Amazon.co.uk and Firebox.com. www.polaroid.co.uk You can WIN a fantastic Polaroid x800E camera, worth £49.99. Just go to www.tlm-magazine.co.uk and click on Competitions. Terms and conditions apply. Closing date November 15, 2011.

Boutique hotel group Grace Hotels’s new, free Saving Grace packing check list and task reminder app for iPhones helps take the stress out of holiday packing. It shows how many items have been packed and how many are left to pack, and lists things to do before travel – from travel insurance to watering plants. www.gracehotels.com Memory-Map turns your iPhone into an outdoor GPS, allowing you to navigate with Ordnance Survey and other maps and charts. A free app offers a sample pack of detailed maps, licensed for 90 days. The £25 paid app allows you to load maps from your PC to your iPhone. A mobile-only app costs £12.50. www.memory-map.co.uk/iphone A free personalised postcard iPhone app from imail allows holidaymakers to transform travel snaps taken on their phones into postcards and mail them from their handsets direct to someone’s home in days. There is space on the reverse for a customised message. UK-bound postcards cost 98p and worldwide ones are £1.48, including VAT. www.imail.com Alberta is the focus of a new iPhone app from specialist tour operator Frontier Canada. The free app features itinerary suggestions for the Rockies and beyond and helps users to plan ski or summer holidays. It also includes travel tips, motorhomes information, maps and snow reports. An Android version launches in December. www.frontier-canada.co.uk

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SOUTH DOWNS WALKING SHORT BREAKS Three nights for the price of two!!!!! The perfect spot to start your holiday, situated in the heart of the Downs, available for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday arrivals, based on 2 people sharing. As well as this fabulous offer we will also pack you a lunch each day and provide explorer maps for you to use.

Rates from £150 per person Supplements apply for Premier rooms and Suites. Rates valid from October 2011-April 2012, exclusions apply, subject to availability

THE ANGEL HOTEL North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DN Tel: 01730 812421 Email: info@theangelmidhurst.co.uk www.theangelmidhurst.co.uk

Findon Manor Country House Hotel & Restaurant

Relax at the

Russell Hotel Bognor Regis

More than just a venue... A friendly welcome awaits you at our beautiful English Country House Hotel, located in the picturesque Findon Village in West Sussex. Being situated on the edge of the South Downs makes Findon Manor, the idyllic location for summer or winter breaks to enjoy the charming and relaxing surroundings. Just off the A24 it is perfectly located for easy access to Brighton, Worthing and Arundel. Whether you stay in one of our traditional superior rooms with a Jacuzzi, or in one of our contemporary suites overlooking our stunning surroundings, you will find that every room has a unique and individual feel. The oak beams and log fires combined with modern amenities creates a contemporary edge to this traditional building. Fine dining is available in our excellent Terrace Restaurant, and in our traditional ‘Snooty Fox Bar’ along with real ales and an extensive wine list. Upcoming Events: Fabulous Fridays: • Enjoy 1 night Dinner, Bed and Breakfast with a complementary bottle of Champagne. From £130.00... Christmas 2011 Celebrations: We are now taking bookings for: • Christmas Functions • Christmas Day Lunch • Special Christmas Accommodation Package New Year’s Eve 2011 Celebrations: • Special New Year’s Eve Accommodation Package • Dinner or Buffet with New Year’s Eve Party Available for ALL Special Occasions: Weddings, Christenings, Anniversaries, Lunches, Dinners and more… Open to Non Residents

Findon Manor Hotel, High Street, Findon, West Sussex BN14 0TA 01903 872733 Email: hotel@findonmanor.com www.findonmanor.com

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Life doesn't get much more relaxing than a perfect break by the sea. Put your feet up and enjoy our warm atmosphere, friendly service and home cooked cuisine. Or choose from a range of leisure activities, excursions and entertainment. Rates from £39pp including dinner, bed and breakfast. For more information and details of other offers visit

www.visionhotels.co.uk

Kings Parade, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 2QP Tel. 01243871300 Email: reservations.russell@visionhotels.co.uk

Autumn 2011


on your doorstep  south downs

Ups and Downs Encompassing the country’s newest national park, the rolling countryside of the South Downs is as quintessentially English as you will find. Local lass Jeannine Williamson gives the lowdown on the high points of this captivating area

A

 Beachy Head

s a little girl I spent many a happy hour flying a box kite at Beachy Head, going on family walks to Cuckmere Haven, with its distinctive oxbow lakes, and exploring the dramatic rollercoaster cliffs of the Seven Sisters – tired legs spurred on by the promise of an ice cream at the end. These days I tend to take the easier option, helping friends exercise their horses on the Downs and through woodland in the surrounding countryside. However you choose to travel, it’s a captivating area – and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. Celebrated author Bill Bryson described the landscape as “some of England’s finest” and, in April, a large part of it was embraced by the South Downs National Park, the country’s 10th and newest national park. Covering 628 square miles and stretching 87 miles from Eastbourne in the east to Winchester in the west, it runs through East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire. While the name conjures up rolling green downland ending at sheer, chalky white cliffs, the landscape and scenery is diverse, taking in gentle clay hills and vales, undulating farmland and steep woodland as you travel towards the eastern corner.

Britainonview/Rod Edwards

Autumn 2011

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on your doorstep

south downs

Arundel Castle

The South Downs from Goodwood

Britainonview

Beachy Head Marathon (www.beachyheadmarathon.org.uk): October 22. One of the biggest, toughest and most scenic off-road marathons in the UK, runners set off from Eastbourne at 9am with the first arriving back less than three hours later. Lewes Bonfire Night (www.lewesbonfirecouncil.org.uk): November 5. Flaming torches, giant effigies and ear-splitting bangers are all part of the famous celebrations – some would say infamous – in the county town of East Sussex, where bonfire societies compete for coveted trophies for the best costumes. Sussex Christmas: December 26-January 1: Experience Christmas past in the fascinating collection of reconstructed historic buildings at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum (www.wealddown.co.uk) at Singleton, near Chichester. Brighton Festival (www.brightonfestival.org): England’s largest international arts festival, spread over three weeks in May, includes theatre, music, dance, literary debates, outdoor entertainment and family events in more than 20 venues, plus a cutting edge fringe festival. Glyndebourne (www.glyndebourne.com): Unique and quintessentially English, the opera house nestling in the foot of the Downs near Lewes hosts its world famous festival from May to August. South of England Show (www.seas.org.uk): June 7-9, 2012. This flagship event showcases the very best of the local countryside, with prize winning livestock, equestrian events, regional food and drink, arena displays and much more. Goodwood Festival of Speed (www.goodwood.co.uk): Dubbed the world’s largest motoring garden party, this weekend event at the end of June is an exhilarating celebration of motorsport history. Winchester Festival (www.winchesterfestival.co.uk): With over 30 events in 10 days every July, the festival serves up a feast of local, national and international talent. Arundel Festival (www.arundelfestival.co.uk): Held in August, the 10-day long celebration of arts, music and drama retains a community feel alongside large scale events staged at the castle and around the town. Chichester Festival Theatre (www.cft.org.uk): Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2012, the theatre has an international reputation for its varied programme, encompassing classic drama, musicals, comedies and innovative new productions.

“The South Downs is rich in literary and artistic culture”

Detail from Amberley Castle

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Britainonview/David Sellman

10 key south downs events

In my particular neck of the woods, the picturesque village of Alfriston is a justifiable magnet for visitors. A gentle one-mile walk away is Berwick Church, its spire visible above the trees. No ordinary village church, it is covered with murals painted by Bloomsbury Group artists Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell, who lived at nearby Charleston.

sparkling wines Sussex soil, high in chalk and lime, is very similar to the Champagne region. So much so, many English sparkling wines produced here are beating their famous French counterparts in international competitions. The English Wine Centre (www.englishwine.co.uk), on the corner of the A27 turn-off to Alfriston, is an interesting place to stop for lunch and browse around the shop, which stocks wines from throughout the region. Down the road, in the neighbouring village of Jevington, is the local culinary institution, the Hungry Monk (www.hungrymonk.co.uk), selfproclaimed birthplace of the Banoffi Pie (look out for the blue plaque on the wall!).

Amberley Castle

Autumn 2011


Britainonview

on your doorstep n south downs

n Glyndebourne

Moving west, seaside towns such as cosmopolitan Brighton, Littlehampton, nestling in the mouth of the River Arun, and family-friendly Bognor Regis, home to one of Billy Butlin’s first holiday camps which opened in the 1960s and is now one of the remodelled resorts (www.butlins.com), make good bases to explore the South Downs. Another gateway town I’d recommend is the elegant cathedral city of Chichester in West Sussex, situated at the halfway point on the national park’s southern side. Take a leisurely one-hour stroll around the Roman walls before visiting the cathedral, with its 15th-century belfry, England’s only remaining detached bell tower.

culture The South Downs is rich in literary and artistic culture; for instance Charles Kingsley was a regular visitor to Hampshire’s Itchen Abbas, the village and river inspiring the setting of his novel, The Water Babies. Energetic types can head for the hills along sections of, or indeed the whole of, the South Downs Way, the only National Trail lying wholly within a national park. The 100-mile trail, a haven for walkers, cyclists and horse

Autumn 2011

artistic and literary links l This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility and Jane Austen’s House Museum (www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk) in Chawton, Hampshire, is the 17th century home where she wrote the majority of her books. l Writers, painters and intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group flocked to Charleston (www.charleston.org.uk), the farmhouse at Firle, East Sussex, with interiors painted by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. l Bateman’s (www.nationaltrust.org.uk) is the beautiful 17th century Jacobean House at Burwash, East Sussex, where Rudyard Kipling wrote children’s classics such as Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies. l Monk’s House (www.nationaltrust.org.uk) in the village of Rodmell, near Lewes, was the countryside retreat where Virginia Woolf completed works including To the Lighthouse, The Waves and Mrs Dalloway. l Artists have been attracted to Ditchling for over a century and the East Sussex village is credited with the revival of calligraphy and hand weaving at the beginning of the 20th century. l Petworth House (www.nationaltrust.org.uk) and Goodwood House (www.goodwood.co.uk), both in West Sussex, contain exceptional collections of paintings and sculpture, including works by JMW Turner.

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Britainonview

on your doorstep  south downs

 Winchester, ancient capital of England

riders alike, runs through and around villages and towns, so food and a bed for the night are never too far away. I particularly like the ancient Hampshire market town of Petersfield, where the tradition continues with weekly markets every Wednesday and Saturday and an excellent farmers’ market on the first Sunday of each month. From Petersfield, discover a unique feature of the local landscape – the steep-sided hanging woods, also called hangers. The town is part of Hangers Way, a 21mile countryside path from Alton to Queen Elizabeth Country Park. The latter is home to Butser Hill, 890ft above sea level and the South Downs’ highest point. Walkers can continue 22 miles along the South Downs Way to Winchester, ancient capital of England, while transport users take the low road along the A3 and A272. Each part of the South Downs has its own beauty. I know the places that I love; take time out to find your personal high spot.

south down facts getting there

Britainonview

Services by Southern Railway (www.southernrailway.com) go from London to East and West Sussex and Hampshire. By car, the M25 leads to the main eastern access roads, the A27 and A22, and the M3 for Winchester.

getting around

 Bateman’s From £10 a day, the Downlander Ticket (www.southernrailway.com), is valid for Southern trains and some bus services. The Breeze up the Downs (www.brighton-hove.gov.uk) bus network links Brighton with popular places in the park.

Born and bred in Eastbourne, Jeannine Williamson cut her journalistic teeth on regional newspapers before spreading her wings and going freelance 12 years ago. She contributes to a range of national newspapers, magazines and websites.

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The National Trails website (www.nationaltrail.co.uk) lists a wide range of accommodation such as camp sites, self-catering, pubs, hotels, dog-friendly accommodation and lodging with bike storage. The Angel Hotel, Midhurst: www.theangelmidhurst.co.uk Findon Manor Hotel, Findon: www.findonmanor.com Russell Hotel, Bognor Regis: www.visionhotels.co.uk The Star, Alfriston: www.thestaralfriston.co.uk Deans Place Country Hotel, Alfriston: www.deansplacehotel.co.uk George Bell House Hotel, Chichester: www.chichestercathedral.org.uk Hotel du Vin, Winchester: www.hotelduvin.com Amberley Castle, Arundel: www.amberleycastle.co.uk

Britainonview

 Bloomsbury Group artists Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell and Quentin Bell, lived at Charleston.

Britainonview

accommodation

 Amberley Castle

more information

South Downs National Park Authority: www.southdowns.gov.uk Tourism South East: www.visitsoutheastengland.com

Autumn 2011


George Bell House is a beautifully restored eight bedroom house situated in the historic precincts of Chichester Cathedral. George Bell House has 4 large double / twin rooms, 3 standard double rooms and a single room (adapted for disabled access). All bedrooms are en-suite.

Breakfast is available in the dining room of the house which looks out over the private, walled garden. A stay at George Bell House offers the convenience of a city centre location within the tranquil setting of the Cathedral Close. An ideal location from which to explore the historic city of Chichester with its beautiful Cathedral, galleries and shops. www.chichestercathedral.org.uk Email: bookings@chichestercathedral.org.uk Telephone: 01243 813586

Autumn 2011

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58 tlm ■ the travel & leisure magazine

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Autumn 2011


competition  wroclaw break

Photos: Tumski Hotel

 The Tumski Hotel and floating restaurant

 Karczma Mlynska restaurant

WIN a long weekend break

C

 Tumski Hotel facade

Autumn 2011

apital of Lower Silesia in south-western Poland, Wroclaw is one of the country’s oldest and most beautiful cities. It will be in the spotlight next June as one of the host cities of the Euro 2012 football championships, with three group stage matches there. Founded over 1,000 years ago, Wroclaw has undergone many name changes in a chequered history which included large-scale destruction in World War II and subsequent reconstruction and preservation.  Wroclaw’s Its Old Market Square and Town Hall main square are among many historic gems in the heart of a city which also guests discreet charm and elegance with a encompasses 12 islands, 112 bridges friendly atmosphere. Crossing Art Nouveau and a wealth of glorious architecture.  Tumski Hotel Bridge, guests can reach Ostrow Tumski, the reception Wroclaw is Poland’s greenest city, oldest and the most picturesque part of Wroclaw. with many parks, gardens and even forests. It The prize is valid for stays from December 1, 2011, is also a vibrant metropolis with a multitude of cultural to May 31, 2012. attractions from theatres, concert halls, museums and galleries to international festivals – recognised by it being named European City of Culture in 2016. how to enter Now, thanks to the Polish National Tourist Office and For a chance to WIN this fantastic three-night Wroclaw the city-centre Tumski Hotel, you can win a three-night break for two, simply answer the following question: weekend break for two to Wroclaw. The winner and partner will fly direct to Wroclaw with transfers to and from Question: In which region of Poland is Wroclaw? the hotel, situated on the bank of the Odra River close to a watermill on Slodowa Island. The prize includes two To enter, go to www.tlm-magazine.co.uk and click on dinners in the hotel’s Karczma Mlynska (Mill Inn) Competitions. Closing date is November 20, 2011. restaurant and one dinner in the Blue Marine restaurant Terms & conditions apply; see website for details. on floating, three-level restaurant Barka Tumska. Also included is a half-day sightseeing trip and tickFor more information on the Tumski Hotel, go to ets for the Panorama Raclawicka exhibition www.hotel-tumski.com.pl and for Poland information, commemorating the Battle of Raclawice. visit www.poland.travel or the Polish tourism Facebook Opened in 2000, the 103-bed Tumski Hotel offers page, www.facebook.com/POLANDTRAVELengb.

tlm  the travel & leisure magazine www.tlm-magazine.co.uk

Polish National Tourist Office

for two in historic Polish city Wroclaw – worth £1,000

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pack your clubs n golf tuition breaks

Monty’s mantras

n tlm editor Peter Ellegard under the eye of instructor Sven at Turnberry

Colin Montgomerie’s tips for improving your golf: l Keep it simple l Always think positive thoughts l Use the same swing for every club l Every club should be your favourite l Stay loose l Keep your hands soft l Putt 18 inches beyond the cup

The full

Monty

Whether you are trying to improve your game or taking golf up as a complete beginner, there is nothing like taking a dedicated tuition break with intensive lessons. Perennial hacker Peter Ellegard went straight to the top in his quest

Peter Ellegard

A

Autumn 2011

fter 15 years of hacking around fairways as an occasional weekend golfer, I had been invited to Scotland’s luxury Turnberry golf resort as part of a hosted event including a round on its hallowed Ailsa links course – where Tom Watson beat Jack Nicklaus in the famous “Duel in the Sun” Open Championship in 1977 – plus a group clinic by top golf star Colin Montgomery at his new links golf academy. Not only that, but I was on a charge while playing the Ailsa’s sibling, then called the Arran, with a string of bogies and the odd par. Not exactly Tigerish, perhaps, but still good for a 23 handicapper.

I had just hit the drive of my life on the picturesque, par-4 8th hole, leaving a short chip down onto a green nestling in a cove and was about to take my shot when a Range Rover drove onto the fairway and pulled up behind me. Out stepped Monty and a photographer, ready to snap him with me and my playing partners. But he signalled for me to carry on. All of a sudden, my composure went and my hands started sweating. I jabbed at the ball, knocking it into the rough I was trying to chip over. Then fluffed the next shot, and the next, getting ever more nervous. After five attempts I picked the ball up, and as I trudged over to join the others, Monty chuckled when I told him he had just ruined my best-ever round. Indeed, over the rest of the round the wheels well and truly came off. Fast forward 10 or so years and I am back at Turnberry, once again with Monty. Only this time I am there to take part in the annual Colin Montgomerie Summer Golf School.

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Peter Ellegard

pack your clubs n golf tuition breaks

n Turnberry academy instructors

“Monty’s philosophy can be summed up in three words – keep it simple”

control With just 12 of us on the weekend course, and Monty with us for the first afternoon before handing over to his instructors, there’s a chance to chat with him before a fascinating 90-minute clinic, during which he explains how he believes golf should be played. Monty’s philosophy can be summed up in three words – keep it simple. Which he then demonstrates with a range of shots, all played with effortless power and control. If only… Over lunch, I had told him about our previous Turnberry encounter and how it had left my golf in tatters. He apologised, but added I could never be a tour pro if I couldn’t handle pressure like that. I got my chance to prove that when we all teed off on Turnberry’s nine-hole course, with Monty hitting a drive on the first hole with each group. When my turn came, I took out my trusty hybrid and focused on the shot, determined not to let my nerves get the better of me. It worked. The ball flew straight down the middle, to my delight and the applause of Monty and the others. I had exorcised one demon.

n Splashing out to the 8th green on the Kintyre course at Turnberry

The academy’s instructors monitored us while we played before a farewell reception with Monty back at the clubhouse and a group dinner in the hotel that evening. Next morning we were split into four groups, each with an instructor. I drew a personable South African called Sven and we played the Kintyre course with him, before our first instruction session. My golf hasn’t improved in years and I have always struggled with distance. I have had lessons at several golf academies, but they have generally been just an hour or so with no-one watching me play. Invariably they have given me so many things to think about it scrambled my brain and my golf suffered even more.

exagerrate Sven had noticed I tend to hit the ball with my weight too far back, instead of transferring weight to my front foot. As a result, my shots lacked power, kept low and often squirted to the right.

golf science I stayed on at Turnberry after the Monty golf school weekend to undergo a two-hour session next morning at the resort’s TaylorMade Performance Lab, one of only two in the UK. There, your swing is analysed in detail by a battery of high-tech gizmos, with the aim of checking whether your clubs suit your game and, if not, to find ones that do. First, you put on a vest, belt, overshoes and wrist, arm and leg bands studded with reflective markers. Six high-speed video cameras are trained on you and as you swing, your movements are translated into an on-

62 tlm n the travel & leisure magazine

n Peter Ellegard at Turnberry’s TaylorMade Performance Lab screen avatar (the technology was developed by the same company behind the special effects for the movie, Avatar). The results showed why my shots often veer right, or go straight left. I bring my clubs down from too vertical a plane, technically an out-to-in swing, and hit the ball with an open club face.

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To cure it would take many months deconstructing my swing, so the TMPL fitter, Ian, tried me with different clubs and shafts to try and counter my faults. He then gave me a CD with the results and his recommendations. He suggests I keep my irons but try different woods with whippier shafts and greater loft. He also analysed my putting on the lab’s special green, giving me a new-style putter with a lofted face to try. It instantly transformed my putting to 100% success. I liked it so much I bought the club – all £120 of it! l Two-hour club fitting sessions at Turnberry’s TaylorMade Performance Lab cost £150. For details, call 01655 331235 or visit www.luxurycollection/turnberry.

Autumn 2011


pack your clubs  golf tuition breaks

golf tuition facts colin montgomerie links golf academy, turnberry

Peter Ellegard

The world’s only links golf academy features teaching programmes designed by eight Turnberry’s driving range time European Tour Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie. Facilities include indoor and outdoor teaching areas, simulators and swing analysers, 16 covered bays, open-air range and short-game area. Tuition includes 60minute lessons for £80, one-hour putting lessons for £50 and one-hour family lessons for £99. The three-day Colin Montgomerie Summer Golf School takes place every year. This year it cost from £798, fully-inclusive. www.luxurycollection.com/turnberry

Autumn 2011

Marriott

He told me one thing, to exaggerate the follow through as if I was walking after the ball – like fellow South African Gary Player used to do. And it worked a treat. Within minutes I was hitting drives on the range straighter, higher and longer than I have ever done. Same with my irons. From my favourite, the lob wedge, to the five iron I rarely use for fear of duffing it (although Monty says you shouldn’t favour any club). After another group dinner, followed by the odd dram or two in the bar, it was back to the academy next morning for more tuition, this time concentrating on the short game. Having satisfied chief pro Michael with my bunker shots and chipping, Sven suggested how I could improve my putting, by narrowing my stance and putting the ball closer to me and nearer my front foot. Putting has always been my strong suit but Sven reckoned the new technique would improve it even more. We finished the weekend school with a competition on the Ailsa course, where Tom Watson came heartbreakingly close to winning the Open again in 2009. Putting new golf techniques into practice takes time, but I played much better even if the new putting style wasn’t coming naturally. I didn’t win, that honour deservedly going to a 14year-old lad in my four-ball. But I was happy with my golf and I showed Sven I was following his advice as he watched on. It may have only been a weekend, but I and my newfound friends, both fellow students and academy instructors, had formed a common bond, and everyone said how useful they had found it besides it being an enjoyable experience. Spending some time with Europe’s victorious Ryder Cup captain, Monty, was the icing on the cake – and the reason two of the participants have kept coming back, seven years running. His laid-back style, echoed by his team of pros, and his genuine approachability and friendliness helped make the experience one I will always treasure. Doing it in such glorious surroundings and at such an iconic and sumptuous resort as Turnberry made it even more

other uk golf academies UK resorts and hotel groups with golf academies include 2014 Ryder Cup host Gleneagles (www.gleneagles.com), De Vere Hotels (www.devere.co.uk) with facilities including the Nike Golf Academy at Oulton Hall & Spa, and hotel chain Marriott (www.marriottgolf.co.uk), which has 11 UK golf hotels and offers a Kids Golf-4-Free programme allowing children to have a free lesson when accompanying an adult taking a paid lesson, with free club use. Among UK golf schools with tuition packages are  Kids Golf-4-Free the James Andrews School of Golf at Sedlescombe Golf Course in East Sussex (www.golfschool.co.uk) and the David Short Golf School (www.shortgolfschool.co.uk), with programmes at several courses.

overseas golf academies Most golf resorts offer tuition. Popular ones include Spain’s La Manga Club (www.lamangaclub.com) and La Cala (www.lacala.com) resort, which has Spain’s only David Leadbetter Academy, and Penina (www.lemeridienpenina.com/en/golf) on Portugal’s Algarve. Tuition is also offered by all-inclusive resort companies Club Med (www.clubmed.co.uk) and Sandals (www.sandals.com/golf) among others.

packages Tour operators with golf tuition packages include Golfbreaks.com (www.golfbreaks.com), Solo’s (www.solosholidays.co.uk/golf), Premier Iberian (www.premieriberian.com), GolfPlanet Holidays (www.golfplanetholidays.com) and Your Golf Travel (www.yourgolftravel.com).

special. And I even managed to exorcise another demon, by parring the very hole I blew up on in front of Monty a decade earlier. As I said goodbye to Sven I asked for his honest appraisal of what my handicap could get down to. Quick as a flash he replied 15-18. I just need to keep practising his advice and Monty’s tips.

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Chateau des Vigiers Whether you are new to golf or already an experienced club player, the luxurious Chateau des Vigiers set in beautiful Bergerac countryside, is just the place for you to enjoy some great golf, fabulous food and outstanding wine. If you're not a golfer, then perhaps our spa complex, swimming pool and scenery will entice you instead. For prices and more information about our extensive range of golf & spa packages, give us a call on 08451 222650 or visit our website: www.chateaudesvigierstravel.co.uk

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Chateau des Vigiers Travel is a trading division of

U5444

Autumn 2011


golf  news

Don’t pack your clubs W ith the cost of taking your clubs on a golfing holiday becoming ever more daunting thanks to airline excess baggage charges, a solution which makes it easier on your wallet as well as your back is fast gaining favour. ClubstoHire.com was launched a year ago by Paul McGinley, Ryder Cup star and victorious GB & Ireland team captain in the recent Vivendi Seve Trophy, to allow golfers to rent clubs in their holiday destination and avoid paying the airline fees, which can amount to £80 return for clubs. Golf club rental is currently available at seven airports – Faro, Malaga, Dublin, Edinburgh, Gran Canaria and newly-added Murcia and Alicante – and since its inception the company claims to have saved golfers over £500,000 in airline charges. A wide range of equipment is offered from top brands Wilson, TaylorMade, Callaway and MD Golf, with left and right-handed sets for both ladies and men. Rental periods can be from just one day to four weeks, and golfers who really want to cut down on their luggage can rent golf shoes. The service is easy to use; golfers simply order online ahead of travel and pick up the hire set at the destination airport. The clubs, which cost the same

GOLF CLIPS A new range of golf sweaters from Scottish-based clothing company Glenmuir uses scientific water-repellent technology to allow golfers to wear them in light rain or

 Paul McGinley

WIN a week’s club rental for four worth £200 You can WIN a week’s rental of golf clubs including TaylorMade R11s for you and three golfing buddies, worth 220 euros (around £200), from any of ClubstoHire.com’s locations. The prize is valid for 12 months, excluding September and October, 2012, and three weeks’ notice is required. For details, go to www.tlm-magazine.co.uk and click on Competitions. Terms and conditions apply. Closing date November 18, 2011.

 Derwent sweater short showers without having to resort to waterproofs. The lambswool men’s and ladies’ sweaters in the Autumn/Winter 2011 collection feature special Bionic-Finish nanotechnology and cost from £70-£80. www.glenmuir.com The second course at upmarket Greek golf resort Costa Navarino is now open for play. The Bay Course, designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr, overlooks the historic bay of Navarino in the south-west Peloponnese and augments the resort’s Bernard Langer-designed Dunes Course and two fivestar, Starwood-managed hotels. www.costanavarino.com

 ClubtoHire.com’s Faro shop

at each location, range from 35 euros per week for a rental set of MD Golf Seve clubs up to 55

euros for TaylorMade R11s. Go to www.clubstohire.com for more information.

Pebble splash

Autumn 2011

Peter Ellegard

F

ollow in the spike marks of Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and splash out on a new golf getaway to California’s iconic Pebble Beach resort from sports tour operator ITC Sports. The four-night package includes return British Airways flights to San Francisco, accommodation at The Lodge at Pebble Beach and three rounds of golf on The Links at Spanish Bay, Spyglass Hill and the legendary Pebble Beach Golf Links – where GMac won the US Open in 2010. Prices start from £2,995 per person and include a golf buggy and unlimited range balls for the three rounds, and membership of the Spanish Bay Club and

 Pebble Beach Links

the Beach & Tennis Club with use of their facilities. Visit www.itcsports.co.uk for more information.

Golfers can book tee times at discounted rates 24 hours a day at 49 courses in Portugal’s Algarve and Lisbon areas and 44 Spanish courses including the Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca and Canary Islands via a new app from Algarve-based Just Tee Times. A free iPhone or Android download, it includes course reviews, videos and maps. www.justteetimes.com/mobile

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Sailing

A1 Sailing Mallorca Sea School Luxury Sail & Motor Yacht Charter

Warm breezes, crystal sea & sunshine Modern high specification yachts from 32 to 72ft available for charter • RYA practical & theory courses • Beginner to Yachtmaster • Flotilla and bareboat holidays • Dedicated RYA school boats Get more enjoyment from sailing

WWW.A1SAILING.LTD.UK Tel: +34 971 547 986 Email: A1groupmallorca@aol.co.uk

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Autumn 2011


travel update  news

Help, if you need somebody

PlanetWildlife.com

 Snow leopard

E

On the prowl Skyguard

ver wondered what would happen if you or a loved one needed emergency help while travelling overseas? According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s British Behaviour Abroad report, almost 20,000 Brits needed consular assistance last year, with Spain producing the most incidents – but travellers most likely to need assistance in the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan. Now emergency response specialist Skyguard has launched the first personal emergency service for British travellers. The subscription Skyguard International service allows travellers to summon help at the press of a button if they find themselves in trouble overseas. Initially, the new

 Skyguard’s GPS alarm device

service is live across 34 European countries, the Russian Federation and South Africa. The service can be activated using a small GPS alarm device which can be attached to keys or a belt or worn on a lanyard. It also runs as an app on Blackberry phones, with the side key acting as the alarm button. Alarms containing the user’s location and identity go directly to Skyguard’s Incident Management

Centre in the UK, where trained controllers can talk to them and co-ordinate a response by summoning the national emergency services of the country in question as well as contacting relatives or employers. Skyguard International costs from £29.95 a month. It is available as an £18 per month add-on to Skyguard's standard UK service, which starts at £11.95 a month based on a three-year contract. www.skyguardgroup.com

Tracking rare snow leopards is among two new wildlife expeditions in India by PlanetWildlife.com. The 13-day Snow Leopard Explorer itinerary, departing on November 3, starts in Leh, the former mountain capital of the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh, near Tibet, continuing on to track the elusive snow leopard in the Himalayas, as well as the great Tibetan sheep, Tibetan wolf and Eurasian brown bear. Departing on December 8, the 15-day Meghalaya Caving Adventure has a few days observing the rare birdlife, flora and fauna in Meghalaya, before exploring the limestone cave system in the Shnong Rim of the Jaintia Hills district. The tours are priced at £1,325 and £1,369 respectively, excluding international flights. Details at www.planetwildlife.com.

One to one with Santa  Meeting Santa

F LEGOLAND Florida

 Brick fun in Florida

Autumn 2011

ifty million LEGO bricks fill Florida’s latest attraction, LEGOLAND Florida. Open from October 15 and aimed at children aged two to 12, the 150-acre theme park, located midway between Orlando and Tampa, has 10 themed zones, including a Miniland USA and LEGO City with its own driving school, with more than 50 rides, as well as shows, interactive attractions and botanical gardens. For information on the new park and tickets, go to www.legolandfloridaresort.com

Santa’s Lapland

Brick by brick Single-parent families can now take advantage of special packages for one adult and one child under 12 to travel to Lapland with Santa holiday specialist Santa’s Lapland. The two and three-night holidays start at £1,499, including return flights from Gatwick or Stansted, half-board accommodation, use of thermal outer clothing and a full day’s activities, as well as a private meeting with Santa Claus in his log cabin home. For more information and December departure dates, call 01252 618345 or go to www.santaslapland.com.

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travel update  news

Hey, Mr Taxman

 Bodrum – tops for searches

Turkish Tourist Office

Rising stars

P

UK passengers already face some of the highest air taxes in the world. A typical family travelling from the UK in economy class pays £240 more than from most European countries to travel to the USA and £50 more to fly within Europe, according to ANTOR, an association comprising overseas national tourist boards with UK offices. Part of ABTA’s Fair Tax on Flying lobby, ANTOR has prepared a petition calling on the

Chancellor to make the tax fairer. Chairman Tracey Poggio said: “We believe Air Passenger Duty in its current form is unfair to individuals and to business. We believe it is already impeding travel to destinations of choice. “We are concerned that higher APD rates combined with the global economic downturn will create serious consequences not only for the UK economy but also for those economies heavily dependent on UK tourism.”

Ready for take-off

In the latest Rising Stars report from Cheapflights.co.uk, listing the most requested destinations for the first half of 2011, Bodrum in Turkey came top with a 971% year-on-year increase while Erbil in Iraq was a surprising second, experiencing 504% growth. Kona in Hawaii, Hangzhou in China and Sapporo, Japan, completed the top five slots. www.cheapflights.co.uk

68 tlm  the travel & leisure magazine

 British Airways may cut Jamaica flights because of air taxes

Jamaica Tourist Board

One-third of frequent flyers now use their smartphones to book and manage their holidays. Using research from travel technology partner Amadeus, Airport Parking and Hotels has put together a comparison table of airlines and the services they offer through smartphones. Most airlines, including British Airways, allow checkingin and downloading of boarding passes to their mobile phones and several have apps with more information available to passengers. The table is available in the Know Before You Go section of the APH website: www.aph.com/news.

ressure is growing on the Government to slash air passenger duty and revamp what many claim is an unfair tax. Under current plans, APD – originally a green tax but now regarded as a revenue raiser – will see a double-inflation rise next spring, having soared by 140% since 2007. Calls to repeal APD have intensified following Chancellor George Osborne’s decision to cut the tax on long-haul flights from Northern Ireland, from November 1, from £60 to £12 per passenger in economy and from £120 to £24 for business and first class passengers, to match the shorthaul rate. The move followed a threat by Continental Airlines to axe transatlantic flights from Belfast because of the tax. British Airways has already said it is cutting capacity on UK flights to the Caribbean next summer, blaming APD. Travel industry bodies want the Government to cut the tax for the whole of the UK and abandon the planned 2012 increase.

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N

 Easyjet will base three Airbus A319s at Southend

Credit t/c

Smart travel

ext spring will see the launch of flights from easyJet’s newest base, London Southend Airport, as part of a summer 2012 schedule serving more than 300 destinations. Eight destinations are being served by the airline from the Stobart Group-owned airport, which is gaining a new terminal and an extended runway following the recent opening of a dedicated railway station connecting it to Stratford and London’s Liverpool Street. Flights will start in April to Amsterdam, Alicante, Barcelona, Belfast, Faro, Ibiza, Malaga and Majorca, and easyJet aims to fly 800,000 passengers from Southend – where low-cost pioneer Freddie Laker began his airline empire – in its first year. More details from www.southendairport.com and www.easyjet.com.

Autumn 2011


10 of the best n wildlife encounters

of the furred kind We love watching them in zoos and on TV wildlife programmes, but there is nothing quite like confronting some of nature’s most feared or enchanting creatures in the wild. Here’s our pick of encounters to set the heart racing

n Polar bear family

1. Face to face with polar bears The encounter: Experience the thrill of seeing the Arctic’s most powerful predators on a polar bear safari in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, or on a cruise off Norway’s Spitsbergen. What’s involved: View polar bears from the safety of tundra buggies as they migrate along the Hudson Bay coastline during October and November ahead of the winter freeze. Cruise ship company Hurtigruten’s expedition-style Spitsbergen field landings take passengers close to polar bears and other Arctic wildlife. Do it: Tailor Made Travel’s five-night Polar Bears of Churchill tour costs from £2,437* including three nights in Churchill and two days’ tundra buggy polar bear viewing. Windows on the Wild’s six-night polar bear tours, from £3,275, include four nights in Churchill. Hurtigruten’s eight-day Explorer Voyage costs from £2,488. www.tailor-made.co.uk, www.windowsonthewild.com, www.hurtigruten.co.uk

n Meeting a polar bear in Canada

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Tailor Made Travel

2. Tiger, tiger burning bright The encounter: The chance to view majestic and endangered Bengal tigers on safari in central India’s national parks. What’s involved: India’s tigers are under threat from poaching and loss of habitat. Exodus offers a Land of the Tigers safari holiday that takes in three national parks where tigers still roam – Pench, the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, Kanha and Bandhavgarth, where an Exodus project involves rebuilding a school bordering the national park. Jeep and optional elephant game drives give a great chance

Autumn 2011

Windows on the Wild/Robert R Taylor

1

of the0 best: wildlife encoun ters


10 of the best n wildlife encounters

n Tiger safari Exodus/Paul Goldstein

to see tigers and other wildlife, with multiple tiger sightings possible. Do it: The Exodus Land of the Tigers trip costs from £1,899 for 16 days, with departures from autumn to spring. The itinerary includes a sleeper train and stays in Agra, for the Taj Mahal, and Delhi. www.exodus.co.uk

3. Gorillas in your midst The encounter: Witness the magnificent, gentle giants of Uganda and Rwanda’s mountain rainforests. What’s involved: Trek to view mountain gorilla families in their natural habitat in Rwanda’s Parc National des Volcans or Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to over 300 gorillas. Trips often visit the grave of murdered conservationist Dian Fossey, author of Gorillas in the Mist. Do it: Wildlife Worldwide’s 10-day Gorillas, Wildlife and Chimps trip includes two nights in a lodge in the

Autumn 2011

4. Cage diving with great white sharks n Great white shark

n Close encounter of the feared kind

tlm n the travel & leisure magazine www.tlm-magazine.co.uk

South African Tourism

The encounter: Experience a breathtaking underwater brush with the fearsome stars of Jaws diving in a

Wildlife Worldwide

n Magnificent: mountain gorilla

Regaldive

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, from £3,195 including flights. Aardvark Safaris offers gorilla tracking in Rwanda, including three nights at Virunga Lodge, from £2,343, and G Adventures’ five-day Uganda Gorillas and Game trip costs from £1,579, both ex-flights. Brown + Hudson’s luxury, 13-day East African Extravaganza, from £225,000 for two, includes helicopter flights to Bwindi, for a gorilla trek and overnight stay, and to other African safari destinations plus a bespoke documentary film of the trip. www.wildlifeworldwide.com, www.aardvarksafaris.co.uk, www.gadventures.com, www.brownandhudson.com

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10 of the best n wildlife encounters

Frontier Canada

n Walking with lions in Antelope Park, Zimbabwe

n Close up with killer whales

The encounter: Paddling a kayak alongside killer whales, or orcas, is a never-to-be-forgotten experience. Johnstone Strait, off mainland British Columbia, Canada, is the best place on earth to sea kayak with killer whales in the wild. Most of BC’s 220 resident orcas return there between July and October each year. What’s involved: Stay in a permanent tented wilderness camp with an experienced paddler guide and encounter pods of the friendly orcas close up from your sea kayak. Among other wildlife you may see are dolphins, sea lions, harbour seals, minke whales, otters, eagles and black bears. Do it: Frontier Canada offers five-day Orcas & Wilderness Camping kayaking trips from Campbell River, Quadra Island or Port McNeill, costing around £800. They include paddling on three days in search of the killer whales. www.frontier-canada.co.uk

rehabilitation project aims to return them to the wild. Several projects let you help look after lions. Walking safaris with armed guides, possible in some n Cub countries, give close-up views on foot. feeding Do it: Acacia Africa’s seven-day Rediscover time Zimbabwe trip, from £641, incorporates a stay at Antelope Park. Classic Retreats offers walking safaris on Remote Africa Safaris’s Chikoko Walking Trails as part of a seven-day trip, from $3,655. Norman Carr Safaris has walking safaris on its eight-night Luwi River Trail, privately-guided trip to Zambia’s South Luangwa, from $3,960. Under BUNAC’s Wildlife Conservation South Africa programme, volunteers can look after lions and cubs at a South African wildlife reserve for 18 or 32 days, from £1,099, while i-to-i offers volunteering with lion research work in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, from £1,199 for two to six weeks. www.acacia-africa.com, www.classicretreats.com, www.normancarrsafaris.com, www.i-to-i.com, www.bunac.org.uk

BUNAC

Peter Ellegard

n A sperm whale off Kaikoura, New Zealand

7. Whale meet again The encounter: Marvel at the oceans’ leviathans on whale-watching trips from the Azores to South Africa,

6. Walking with lions The encounter: For sheer adrenalin, track lions on walking safaris or walk and work alongside them on volunteering projects. What’s involved: Walk with lions at Zimbabwe’s Antelope Park Private Game Reserve, where a lion

72 tlm n the travel & leisure magazine

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n Whale hello there

Autumn 2011

Starwood Hotels and Resorts

5. Kayaking with killer whales

Acacia Africa

steel cage in Shark Alley, off South Africa’s Dyer Island, near Cape Town. What’s involved: Dyer Island is one of the world’s best locations to encounter great whites as it is home to 50,000 seals, their main food. Trips to Shark Alley include viewing the sharks from onboard the boat and diving in the cage. Divers should hold a minimum of PADI Advanced Open Water or equivalent qualification and have logged 40 dives. Do it: Regaldive offers a great white shark diving extension with its six-night East Coast Shark Diving holiday from £2,144 for both. The four-day Gaansbaai extension includes an extra three nights’ accommodation, two days’ great white cage diving, a guide and transfers. www.regaldive.co.uk


Wildlife Camp South Luangwa, Zambia

An affordable front-row seat to the greatest animal encounters in Africa info@wildlifezambia.com www.wildlifecamp-zambia.com 74 tlm â&#x2013; the travel & leisure magazine

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10 of the best  wildlife encounters

Offbeat Safaris

 On horse-back with a tusker

Mozambique, California, Hawaii, Newfoundland, Quebec, Cape Cod, Dominica and New Zealand. What’s involved: Boat trips take visitors out to where whales congregate or pass on migration. Some can be viewed from the shore, such as off Mozambique (humpbacks) and along South Africa’s Cape Whale Coast, where common species are Southern right (pictured, previous page) and humpback whales. Hermanus even has its own whale crier. Sperm whales are a big draw off Dominica, the Azores and New Zealand’s Kaikoura, with grey, blue and humpback whales off US and Canadian coasts. Do it: Five nights in Monterey, California, with Bon Voyage costs from £1,095 and includes two half-day whale-watching trips. To Escape To has seven nights at Mozambique’s Nuarro Lodge from £1,819. Local operators’ whale-watching trips include Dive Dominica, costing about £30 (children £16), and Whale Watch Kaikoura, at about £75 (£30). www.bon-voyage.co.uk, www.toescapeto.com, www.whalewatch.co.nz, www.cape-whaleroute.co.za, www.whalewatchazores.com, www.divedominica.com

8. Horse-riding with the Big Five

meerkats on safari in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana. The inquisitive creatures may even clamber onto your head to watch out for predators. What’s involved: The meerkat experience forms part of a stay at Jack’s Camp, a palatial tented camp in Makgadikgadi Pans in the heart of the Kalahari. An ongoing habituation programme means the fascinating creatures have lost their fear of people, happily using them as lookout posts. Other activities at Jack’s include game walks with a bushman guide, quad bikes and tracking elusive brown hyena. Do it: Owned and run by Botswana-based Uncharted Africa Safari Co, Jack’s Camp is featured by Aardvark Safaris, with three nights there costing from £2,920. www.aardvarksafaris.co.uk

10. Jumbo encounters The encounter: Get close to working elephants and see wild ones in India, Sri Lanka and Thailand, or do volunteer work in South Africa. What’s involved: Family holidays take in a training camp in India and riding them and visiting an orphanage

 Meerkat lookout Uncharted Africa Safari Co

 Comparing the meerkats in Botswana

Uncharted Africa Safari Co

The encounter: Ride tall in the saddle on horse-back safaris through Kenya’s Masai Mara or Amboseli National Park, galloping alongside zebra, giraffe and wildebeest herds and viewing elephants, buffalo and wallowing hippos close up. What’s involved: Seven or eight-night horse-riding safaris take in rides of up to 50km per day between camps through mostly open plains where big game is abundant. Riders must have good riding ability and be fit enough to ride up to six hours a day. Do it: Offbeat Safaris offers 10-night safaris, including eight nights riding in the Masai Mara staying in four different camps, from £4,600. Alternatively, biking safaris are offered by operators including Classic Retreats and Adventure International. www.offbeatsafaris.com

9. Compare the meerkats The encounter: Get up close and personal with

Autumn 2011

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The October opening of the 85-room Z Hotels Soho, off London’s Cambridge Circus, marks the launch of a new hotel group in London offering high-quality, affordable accommodation in prime locations. All rooms feature 40inch HD LED TVs with free Sky Sports and Sky Movies, iPod docking stations and free Wi-Fi. Room rates start from £85. www.thezhotels.com

Radisson Edwardian

The new Radisson Edwardian Guildford hotel fuses an old coaching inn façade with an ultra Atrium of the Radisson Edwardian modern glass atrium Guildford and interior designs part-inspired by Guildford’s famous son, Lewis Carroll. The 183-room hotel’s atrium features a seven-metre bookcase and three-metre chandelier. It also has a spa, two restaurants and a bar. www.radissonedwardian.com /guildford

 Park Hyatt, Tokyo

 Stoke Park

One&Only Resorts

 One&Only Ocean Club

Stoke Park

MGM Resorts

 The Crown, Amersham

 Bellagio, Las Vegas

Hyatt Corporation

Lavenham’s historic, 15th century Swan Hotel has completed a two-year renovation programme of its public areas and 45 bedrooms and suites which has also seen the opening of the new, informal Brasserie, overlooking the courtyard garden, and a new reception area. Rates start at £200 per room B&B. www.theswanatlavenham.co.uk

 Beverly Wilshire

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

 The Swan Hotel, Lavenham

Swan Hotel, Lavenham

hotel news

Dhillon Group

checking out  accommodation

Movie stars focus: film star hotels

T

hey are the silent stars of the silver screen – hotels that form the setting for movies or have starring roles in them. From rural England to glamorous Beverly Hills, you can emulate Hollywood’s finest and stay in the same hotels – often in the very rooms where the action took place. Several UK hotels have strong film links. Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell got it on in Four Weddings and a Funeral in the historic coaching inn The Crown, Amersham, Buckinghamshire (www.thecrownamersham.com), where you can stay in the same four-poster-bed suite. Luxury Buckinghamshire resort Stoke Park (www.stokepark.com) starred in Layer Cake (Daniel Craig and Sienna Miller) and Goldfinger, where James Bond (Sean Connery) defeats his nemesis on the golf course after Oddjob decapitates a statue with his bowler hat. In 2001 movie Bridget Jones’s Diary, Hugh Grant’s character takes Bridget (Renee Zellweger) there for a romantic weekend, rowing on the lake followed by a night in its Pennsylvania Suite. A one-night Bridget Jones Mini Break, including a bottle of chilled Chardonnay, breakfast and dinner, massage and manicure/pedicure, use of the health and leisure facilities and a copy of the Bridget Jones’s Diary DVD, costs £245 per person, or £375 in the Pennsylvania Suite. London landmark hotel The Ritz

(www.theritzlondon.com) was where Julia Roberts stays in 1999 hit Notting Hill as a famous actress visiting London, and where Hugh Grant’s travel bookstore owner character goes to meet her after bumping into her in Notting Hill. The Ritz Paris (www.ritzparis.com) featured in the opening sequence of 2006 blockbuster The Da Vinci Code. Many people still request room 512, where it was set. In 007 movie remake Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s James Bond stays in a beachside villa at the luxury One&Only Ocean Club, in the Bahamas (www.oneandonlyresorts.com). He also wins his iconic Aston Martin in a game of poker there. The Beverly Wilshire, in California’s Beverly Hills (www.fourseasons.com/beverlywilshire), takes centre stage in Pretty Woman, when Richard Gere’s businessman character picks up a prostitute (Julia Roberts), takes her back to his penthouse suite and hires her as a date to help clinch a business deal. Other movie hotels include: Bellagio, Las Vegas (www.bellagio.com), the setting for movies Oceans 11 and 13; Park Hyatt, Tokyo (www.tokyo.park.hyatt.com), in Lost in Translation; New York’s nowrenovated Plaza Hotel (www.fairmont.com/thePlaza), in Home Alone 2, Crocodile Dundee, and Arthur; the iconic, luxury Waldorf Astoria, New York (www.waldorfnewyork.com), in Serendipity, Scent of a Woman and Coming to America; and San Diego’s 120-year-old Hotel Del Coronado (www.hoteldel.com), in the Mari The Ritz, London lyn Monroe classic Some Like it Hot.

The Ritz, London

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checking out

Warm heart

hotel reviews

Premier room

The Metropole Hotel, Padstow, Cornwall

T

wo things about pretty Cornish harbour town Padstow strike you on arrival. One is its seafood – this is Britain’s seafood capital and home to celebrity chef Rick Stein, who has popularised sea fare and seems to own half the town’s establishments. The other is the imposing, Victorian edifice overlooking the harbour. The Metropole Hotel, known simply as The Met, has stood guard from its commanding hillside position for over 100 years, when railways first opened up Cornwall to long-distance holidaymakers. The grand old lady has been undergoing a grand makeover of late and offers a very comfortable four-star base from which to explore Padstow’s charming streets, literally steps away, or the area’s beautiful beaches.

factbox The Metropole Hotel Padstow, Cornwall PL28 8DB Tel: 0800 005 3903

Poster bed

www.the-metropole.co.uk

Rooms from £152 B&B best for Stunning views Friendly service Afternoon tea could do better Tired corridor decor The daily free afternoon tea, served in the Café Bar with fabulous harbour and Camel Estuary vistas, was very welcome after a tiring drive. Also welcome was the hotel car park – a rarity in the Comfortable, large bed

The Metropole Hotel, Padstow

town. I parked right outside my ground floor Premier room, French doors opening onto the adjacent lawn making loading and unloading bags easy. The cosy room, on the hotel’s

flank, had views of the estuary as well as Rick Stein’s famous Seafood Restaurant next door. The Met’s own AA-rosette Harbour Restaurant will satisfy any palate, serving up Cornish produce including locally-caught fish and lobster with wines including those of award-winning local winery Camel Valley. The friendly service was exemplary. The Met looks across the river to Rock, former playground of princes Harry and William. Padstow’s veteran “queen” may look stern as she gazes out, but inside beats a warm heart. Peter Ellegard

Fine dining Fishmore Hall, Ludlow, Shropshire

factbox Fishmore Hall Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 3DP Tel: 01584 875148 www.fishmorehall.co.uk Rooms from £150 B&B

best for Innovative dining Romantic breaks Individual, luxurious rooms

could do better Bedroom temperature control

Autumn 2011

Situated only 10 minutes walk from the middle of the historic market town of Ludlow, renowned for its Michelin-starred restaurants and medieval architecture, Fishmore Hall is an impressive Georgian building offering boutique hotel-style accommodation and fine, awardwinning dining. Our room was one of 15, each individuallydesigned and styled to offer a high standard of comfort and luxury. Light and spacious, most have views through huge sash windows across Ludlow and Shropshire’s rolling countryside. The impressive wet room featured a huge shower, large enough for two, and Molton Brown toiletries. Added luxuries in the room included fluffy robes and a welcome pack featuring local produce. A cafetiere of Cafe du Monde coffee was complemented by delicious homemade biscuits. Free Wi-Fi and a flat screen Freeview TV were a welcome addition. The large bed was extremely comfortable, making for an excellent night’s sleep, further

tlm

Fishmore Hall helped by offering a choice of pillows from the pillow menu, to meet individual requirements. The award-winning Forelles restaurant offers fine dining, with a truly imaginative menu, carefully developed by head chef David Jaram. The restaurant offers some of the finest dining in Ludlow – the traditional Shropshire breakfast was delicious and perfectly prepared to our requirements. Dinner offered an a la carte menu or a superb Shropshire Tasting Menu with the very best local seasonal dishes. From a selection of imaginative canapés with pre-dinner drinks, each dish was prepared and presented to perfection, and complemented by amuse bouche. The dedicated staff were knowledgeable and helpful but unobtrusive, all contributing to an enjoyable dining experience. Peter Lewsey

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■ SEASONAL BREAKS

Autumn breaks in Bournemouth! Located in the exclusive area of Alum Chine – minutes walk to Blue Flag beaches. We offer stylish modern accommodation with superb food from local produce, service and views over Poole Bay. It’s the perfect base to relax and sunbathe or explore and discover Dorset and the surrounding areas. 75 bedrooms and 10 holidays apartments Indoor & Outdoor leisure club Games room & pool table Live entertainment Alum Chine, Bournemouth BH4 8JF T: 01202 763653 E: info@rivierabournemouth.co.uk

www.rivierabournemouth.co.uk

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tlm - the travel & leisure magazine autumn 2011  

The latest issue of tlm - the travel & leisure magazine with features on California, Hong Kong and Macau, Cuba, the South Downs and UK spa...

tlm - the travel & leisure magazine autumn 2011  

The latest issue of tlm - the travel & leisure magazine with features on California, Hong Kong and Macau, Cuba, the South Downs and UK spa...

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