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page 001 cover Oct 2013 16/09/2013 11:28 Page 1

SKI PRICES AND OPTIONS 2014 WHICH RESORT SUITS YOUR CLIENT? TOP SIX WHERE IS THE BEST Thatched bus in Dublin

Cold coming time in Andorra

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IRELAND'S PREMIER SOURCE OF TRAVEL INFORMATION Free

OCTOBER 2013

VOLUME 15 NUMBER 8

Upswing Your pass to the 2014 ski market


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Page 003 News 16/09/2013 09:56 Page 1

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OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 3

NEWS

Orland-doooooh Universal completes Simpsons area with new ride

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niversal Orlando Resort opened the World of The Simpsons oin a low-key unveiling that contrasted with Transformers: The Ride - 3D earlier in the summer. The new Simpsons themed environment is clustered around the existing Simpsons ride, which opened in 2008 and includes an all-new outdoor attraction based on the show’s “evil” alien duo, Kang & Kodos. Park visitors can enter downtown Springfield. Earlier this summer, the Orlando theme park opened Fast Food Boulevard, a line of Springfield eateries including Krusty Burger, Luigi's Pizza, the Flying Dutchman and Cletus Chicken Shack Moe's Tavern serves Duff Beer and Duff Light, both specially made for Universal Orlando, are on draf, Flaming Moe's, a non-alcoholic drink that's made without cough syrup, ("Simpsons" fans get that one). In the eating areas, Universal came up with 28 new menu items that are

exclusive to the park. This is the last of Orlando's big ticket openings this year, following SeaWorld Orlando”s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, Universal Studios' Transformers: The Ride — 3D, Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex; and World of Chima at Legoland Florida.

Theme park consultants say attractions need to be more detailed in the age of video games, smartphones and 3-D TVs. The new rides and areas are much different from those just a generation ago, when Dumbo the Flying Elephant was considered high tech

ANTARCTICA opened in

KENNEDY Space Centre

LEGOLAND World of Chima opened July 3rd, an adaptation of the Legends of Chima TV series on Cartoon Network.

TOUR AMERICA Annual Sale Day will have 38 exhibitors at The Red Cow Moran Hotel on Sunday October 6th, 10am 6pm, including Orlando, Las Vegas, New York, Royal Caribbean and NCL Prizes include a holiday for two to Orlando. Free Admittance.

INSURANCE FRAUD Sally Griffiths of VFM Services said the travel insurance industry is bracing itself for fraudulent heat wave "couldn't travel abroad" cases.

Kang and Kodos complete the Orladno summer park landings

ANOTHER SUMMER IN FLORIDA 

June, the four-minute signature ride follows the Southern hemisphere adventures of young Puck the penguin, guided by a new trackless ride system that helps imitate movements of the birds. More than 250 birds from four species are on display at the end of the ride in a room built for underwater viewing. The attraction's exterior is designed to look like tall walls of ice and snow-capped granite on all sides of the four-acre area.

CLASSIC RESORTS launched their new brochure at The Wedding & Honeymoon Show 2013 RDS Main Hall, Dublin this weekend. Classic Resorts top five Honeymoon Destinations this year for bookings - are Dreams Riviera Cancun, 2 Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, 3 Katathani Beach Resort Phuket, 4 Kuramathi Island Resort Maldives, 5 Royal Mirage – The Palace, Dubai.

Visitor Complex: the retired Space Shuttle Atlantisand the new $10 m exhibit that bears its name opened on June 29. Unlike the other shuttles — Discovery at the Smithsonian in Virginia and Endeavour at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, as well as the prototype orbiter Enterprise at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City — Atlantis is being displayed in "flight."

UNIVERSAL Transform-

ers: The Ride — 3D opened this summer, a noisy 3D experience for the video game generation where you feel the real heat of a flame thrower.

NYC & Company's Neighbourhood x Neighbourhood Campaign's latest focus is on Port Richmond, Randall Manor, St. George and West Brighton which are accessible by the free Staten Island Ferry. DISNEY's Halloween Festival 2013 commences October 5th in their Paris resort and continues until Oct 31. SUNWAY offered a double early booking winter sun offer (now 100 per adult and have halved the deposit to 50 per adult.

DISNEYLAND Summer sales from Ireland to Disneyland Paris were reported at over 40pc ahead of sales during the same period last year. Abbey Travel and Neenan Travel (are each offering up to 40pc off hotel and park tickets for arrivals up to 2nd Apr 2014 (excluding Dec 24, 30 & 31, Feb 18-20), plus kids stay and play for free. UNWTO Over 120 delegations from

UNWTO Members States gathered at Victoria Falls for the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly. Taleb Rifai from Jordan was reelected as Secretary-General. A plan to build a $300m 'Disneyland in Africa' in Victoria Falls was floated by Zimbabwe tourism minister Walter Mzembi.

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Page 004 Knowledge 16/09/2013 09:57 Page 1

OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 4

THE KNOWLEDGE Travel Extra Advertising & Subscriptions 6 Sandyford Office Park Dublin 18 (+3531) 2913708 Fax (+3531) 2957417 Editorial Office Clownings Straffan Co Kildare Managing Editor: Gerry O’Hare gerry@travelextra.ie Editor: Eoghan Corry eoghan.corry@ travelextra.ie Publisher: Edmund Hourican Sales Director: Maureen Ledwith maureen@bizex.ie Accounts and Advertising: Maria Sinnott maria@bizex.ie Picture Editor: Charlie Collins pix@travelextra.ie Chief Subeditor: Ida Milne ida@travelextra.ie Chief Features Writer: Anne Cadwallader anne@travelextra.ie Contributors : Eanna Brophy eanna@travelextra.ie Marie Carberry marie@travelextra.ie Carmel Higgins carmel@travelextra.ie Cauvery Madhavan cauvery@travelextra.ie Sean Mannion sean@grafacai.ie Ida Milne ida@travelextra.ie Catherine Murphy cathmurph@yahoo.com Cleo Murphy cleo@travelextra.ie

Travel Extra takes no responsibility for errors and omissions. Distribution Manager: Shane Hourican shane@bizex.ie Origination: Typeform

Printer: WG Baird Limited Caulside Drive Greystone Rd Antrim BT41 2RS Contact 01-2957418 if you have difficulty getting Travel Extra.

CONTENTS

www.travelextra.info

3-7 News Where to go, how much to pay 6 Hotels: News 8 Postcards: From the travel trade 10 Salzburgerland: Austria’s finest

12 Andorra: Back in fashion 14 Ski top six: Your guide to the slopes 19 Ski news: Wintering out 22 Taiwan: China in miniature 24 Thailand: Four point plan 26 Afloat: Cruise and ferry

28-32 Flying: Airline and airport news 33 Ireland: Home holiday news 34 Global Village Granada bound 36 Window seat: Our columnists 38 Pictures: Out and about

Selling a ski holiday be worthwhile and enhance the holiday experience.

E

xpectations of a skiing holiday are high at the best of times. Choosing the right package is down to identifying needs. If you get it right, your clients will book ski with you for winters to come. Get it wrong, and they won’t come back.

BUDGET It is all about

budget. This needs to be established at the very beginning of the conversation along with finding out their expectations of the resort, ski area or accommodation.

VALUE If you are not tied

to dates, travelling with a family, or in a job like teaching, look out for low season dates such as mid January or St Patrick’s week, where you can get really good value and ONLY from the tour operators.

GROUPS If people want to travel in a group, and stay in the same hotel, you need to plan and get your booking in early. Remind the customer that only agents and tour operators offer these group deals.

GEAR Skiing needs gear,

and gear weighs a lot. Remind clients they need a proper luggage allowance if they are bringing their own, as ski boots can weigh up to 7kg.

BUYING GEAR If it is their first ski holiday, borrow from friends. Clients don’t need to buy skis. With changing technologies every year, it is much better to rent your skis in resort. BUT, if you find a comfortable pair of boots, buy them! Great Outdoors in Dublin have a great boot fitter called Neil. In resort, check out great deals in Livigno, Andorra, and end of season in Austria, especially in the Hervis chain. At home, check out TK Maxx in season, watch for deals in LIDL and ALDI but if you need serious kit head for places like Great Outdoors who know what they are talking

The piste map: teach clients to read one before they go about. Tour operator clients can get discounts there on production of their invoice.

MANAGE expectations. Some of the destinations come with well groomed reputations that are outdated or have been endangered by complacency. What is the skiing ability of the family members? Does the resort match their requirements? WHEN you tell people ex-

actly what is included it removes all the hassle. What is included in the package – flight, hotel, transfer, meals, lift pass, ski hire, childcare? What can be pre-booked from home to save time on arrival?

AREAS The days when resorts operated their own slice of mountain ended two decades ago with the linking of huge ski areas with cable cars and funiculars, the Four Valleys, Les Trois Vallées, Espace Killy Skiwelt, Ski amadé, Kitzbüheler Alpen, Paradiski, Grandvalira, (there are more). That means you don’t have to stay in the flagship resort to enjoy all the skiing. Look out for cheaper and less crowded options or niche resorts that link into large ski areas. TRANSFERS Re-

member transfers can be long and awkward, even if you reach the resort, which can be a three hour experience, on a slow bus navigating narrow winding mountain roads, the drop off at

the hotel can add to the journey and occasionally there can be an unexpected stop when the driver is out of hours. Clients should be prepared for all eventualities. Some resorts have short transfers of an hour or less which can make it worth sacrificing other advantages, particularly on a short break. The efficient public transport systems in Norway and Switzerland mean that clients can take control of their own transfers and travel by rail. Don’t forget you have to haul bags in and out of carriages, a factor for families. Short transfers offered in Austria from Salzburg are a bonus.

KNOW your piste: do as

much as you can to familiarise yourself (and therefore the client) with the product before they leave. Study piste maps for major resorts all available online, that way you can both start planning their first morning’s skiing before they leave. Attend the training courses offered by tour operators.

EXTRAS Get them ready

for the prices they might encounter, which might do them an injury not unlike the one they might encounter on the slopes. You can pay €100 for four drinks in the nightclub in Verbier. Drink is cheap in Andorra or Livigno, but everything up the mountain is three times what you pay down in the valley. The trip down from Les Arcs to Bourg St Maurice can

MEALS Most resorts have a good reputation for cuisine and lively, if expensive, nightlife. The pattern is breakfast in the hotel, lunch up the mountain and dinner back in the town. Half board limits the options of the clients – do they really want to eat in the same hotel every night? Is lunch for children included? Does the operator have an early tea for kids to give parents a bit of peace?

FAMILY Some resorts offer the non skier lots of facilities; if they have a mixed family, mention the towns that are natural spa towns for those who want the best of both worlds. Find out about childcare. Is it on site? Are staff qualified? What is the staff-to-child ratio? Are staff local or employed by the tour operator? Is there an evening club, babysitting or baby listening service so parents don’t have to turn in at the same time as their kids? How close is the ski school? NON SKIERS If there

are non-skiers in the party, make sure to tell them to pick a resort which is close to a major city such as Innsbruck, Salzburg of Annecy near Chamonix. Pick a spa resort such as Bad Hofgastein or head for duty free Andorra where you can indulge in shopping, as well as spa in the capital Andorra la Vella.

LESSONS Are lessons exclusive to the tour operator or organised locally? Are there less expensive options? Most resorts are dominated by one or two large ski schools which may not offer the best value. MAKE them laugh with this piece of (useful) advice: Ditch those high heels and leather soles. You land in resort at midnight. You get off the bus, and the legs go from underneath you in the ice.


Page 005 News 16/09/2013 10:00 Page 1

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Egyptian riddle

Belfast flights taking some disappointed holiday makers

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he updated DFA travel advisory on Egypt has delayed the resumption of Sharm El Sheikh’s Wednesday charter from Dublin until Christmas. The flight is shared by Falcon Holidays and Thomas Cook when it operates. Meanwhile. the Sharm El Sheikh charter from Belfast is continuing to depart each Wednesday, as it is subject to the Westminster government’s travel advisory on Egypt which continues to give the all-clear to the Red Sea resorts and St Catherine’s monastery. Tourists on the outskirts of Sharm were relocated during August but there has been no move to extend to advisory to the red Sea Resorts, including those in the entire region of Sharm el Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab; St Catherine’s Monastery World Heritage Site, road travel between the Red Sea resorts; and transfers between the resorts and the airports of Taba and Sharm el Sheikh. It says: “Enhanced security measures are in place to protect the resort areas. Egyptian military

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NEWS

ITALY's controversial tourism tax for hotel

overnights in major Italian Cities and resorts has been effectively increased to 1 per hotel star rating (i2 star 2, 3 star 3, 4 star 4, 5 star 5) per person per night, to be paid directly in hotel on departure.

SUNWAY launched their two night trips to Lapland departing on the December 12, 14, & 16th and say they have refined the trip to their customer needs on the dedicated Lapland brochure or http://www.sunway.ie. Prices start from 1199 per adult and 999 per child. CULINARY TOURISM A study by Mandala Research showed that 30pc of tourists deliberately choose destinations based on the availability of activities related to local food and drink,

WEBSITES The London Independent listed their choice of 10 best last-minute travel websites: 1 Travel Republic; 2 Directline Holidays; 3 TravelZoo; 4 LastMinute; 5 Conde Nast Traveller Secret Deals; (members-only); 6 Explore!; 7 Voyage Prive; 8 Secret Escapes; 9 Best at Travel; 10 Bownty. are situated in Sharm el Sheikh international airport, the entrance to the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh and the exit to the resort area of Dahab. Routine security checks are being performed on entry into the airport and the police are carrying out vehicle checks in Sharm elSheikh. There have been no violent protests in the South Sinai resorts during recent disturbances in Egypt. The resorts remain calm.” The Red Sea resorts are eight hours drive from Cairo and effectively a gated community, largely isolated from the real Egypt outside the gates. The Westminster gov-

ernment does not advise against the use of Cairo airport as a transit stop providing you do not leave the airport grounds. There have been access problems on some of the roads to Cairo airport, chiefly Saleh Salem Road. A Tripadviser forum is following events in Sharm el Sheikh. British Airways says it has altered flights schedules to Cairo so that they do not land in the evening. Germany, the US, Sweden and Finland have all extended their travel warning for Egypt to include the Red Sea tourist resorts.. The tour operators re-

minutes., but it saves the hassle on an hour 20 minutes shuttle or train journey from Beauvais to Paris followed by another hour journey by RER back to Disneyland. The 9.30am shuttle connects neatly with the 6.25am Ryanair departure from Dublin. There are no shuttle options from Ryanair flights at 09.25 and 20:05. Fares start at 24 one-way (chil-

dren under 3 are free) and there are family rates available. In contrast the VEA shuttle leaves each hour from Charles de Gaulle, which has eight daily flights, six from Cityjet to Terminal 2E, with a short walk to the shuttle departs and two from Aer Lingus to Terminal 1 which has an uncomplicated metro connection to the shuttle stop.

DISNEY BEAUVAIS LINK

he long-awaited announcement that VEA is to operate a shuttle from Beauvais to Disneyland Paris was less exciting when the details emerged. There are just two daily shuttles from Beauvais (9.30am and 7.30pm) and two from Disneyland (6.30am and 3.25pm), all via Charles De Gaulle. The journey takes approximately 2 hours 30

OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 5

port that some holiday makers have transferred from the Dublin flight to the Belfast one.

BARCELONA is planning to introduce an 8 entrance charge to Park Güell.

BOOKS A poll at Heathrow showed holidaymakers prefer printed books to e-readers.

Offer your clients a heavenly journey on a unique destination, the Camino de Santiago! Since 2006, Follow the Camino™, the first Irish Camino Tour Operator, customises Camino holidays and pilgrimage along the legendary Way of Saint James. Our highly experienced consultants will help you design what will become the most inspirational journey your clients will ever experience. Oh! And we propose the most competitive commission structure on the market!


Page 006 Hotels 16/09/2013 09:59 Page 1

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OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 6

HOTELS

CONRAD Dublin won the Irish hotel

award at the European section of the World Travel awards, voted by 230,000 travel professionals around the globe and presented at in Antalya, Turkey last month. Other winners in the Ireland category were: Boutique Hotel: Dylan Dublin, Business Hotel: Hilton Dublin. Golf Resort: Adare Manor, Hotel Residences: Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, Spa Resort: Inchydoney Island (for the fifth year in a row). Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul was named Europe’s best hotel. Grandes Alpes Private Hotel, France the best Boutique Hotel, Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv, Ukraine the best hotel and spa, Madeira the best Island Destination, Gardens Of Babylon and Mardan Palace, Turkey both in Turkey won the two spa awards, while Royal Adam & Eve Hotel, in Turkey won Europe's Most Romantic Resort.

HOTELIERS have come out against

the new public service broadcasting charge, IHF president Michael Vaughan (right) called it an indirect form of tourism taxation for guests.

PARKHOTEL Igls in the Austrian Tyrol won the World’s Best Destination Spa award at the Conde Nast readers' choice awards. The England award was won by Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire

BJORN HANSON, dean of New

York Univ school of Hospitality and Tourism said that ancillary fees collected by the hotel industry in the USA will hit $2.1bn this year.

ACCOR appointed private equity specialist Sebastien Bazin as chairman and chief executive but there was no hint on a rumoured shift towards franchising or managing hotels for others rather than owning them.

LOUGH ESKE resort has launched the Guinness Week Menu, Oyster and Guinness Risotto with Watercress, Beef and Guinness Stew with Guinness Bread, Warm Chocolate Brownie with Guinness Ice Cream, A Guinness Truffle and pint of Guinness are also included for 35.

LUSTY BEG Island has revamped its

Paris offers visitors the best value for money this monthaption

Price plunge

Europe’s cities all show big price drops in August

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aris offers visitors the best value for money this month, displaying an 18pc decrease compared to last month. One night in August will cost an average of €144, compared to €175 in July. Leipzig, Rome, London and Brussels are all down by 13pc to €75, €109, €188 and €83 respectively. Visitors may also want to take advantage of cheaper hotel prices in Florence and Madrid, where prices are down by 12pc to €122 and €68 respectively.

CheapHotels.org has found Dublin to be the tenth most expensive summer destination for hotel accommodation in Europe according to a survey. 1 Stockholm 111, 2 Edinburgh 109, 3 Venice 103, 4 Zurich 101, 5 Oslo 94, 6 Copenhagen 93, 7 London 91, 8 Nice 78 9. Paris 73, 10 Dublin 71.

DALATA Pat McCann said the Dalata

group hotels in Dublin enjoyed their best summer since 2007.

MESPIL Hotel in Dublin reported a

GREGANS' Castle Hotel reports in-

profit of 813,858 last year.

creased international guests throughout the summer months.

RELAIS & Châteaux group which welcomed L’Auberge du Jeu de Paume (Chantilly, Oise) to their hotel and restaurant association this month.

Some of Europe’s most popular capital cities offer the best value for money this month, with Rome, Paris, London, Brussels and Madrid all in trivago’s top ten best value destinations for August 2013. This is based on destinations showing the largest percentage decrease in average hotel price per night in comparison to July, out of the top 50 most popular European destinations on www.trivago.ie. Hotel prices are up in Limerick by 11pc, from an average of €76 per night in

August 2012 to €84 in August 2013. Hotel prices have also increased marginally in Dublin, from an average of €108 per night last year to €112 this year. On the other hand, hotel prices have decreased yearon-year in Tralee, Waterford and Galway. One night in August 2013 will cost an average of €100, down 8pc from €109 in 2012. Waterford is down by 6pc to an average of €97 per night, and Galway down by 5pc to €127.

€224

EUROPEAN HOTEL PRICE INDEX €160 €115 €102 €88

€75

Edinburgh

Nice

Riga

Leipzig

€219

€144

€86

€74

Geneva

Amsterdam Paris

€114

Valencia

Istanbul

€100

Bilbao

€68

€135

€112

Tralee

€85

Cannes

Madrid

€191

Killarney

Dublin

€99

Berlin

€65

€134

€109

Malaga

€84

Venice

Bucharest

€188

Donegal

Rome

€97

Limerick

€61

€128

€107

Prague

€83

London

€177

Barcelona

€96

Granada Sofia

Copenhagen

€127

Derry

€79

€59

€168

Galway

Kilkenny Manchester Vienna

Brussels Dresden

€95

Sevilla

Stockholm

€123

€104

Toulouse

Frankfurt

€58

€167

Cork Sligo

€77

Munich

€92

Athens

Warsaw

Salzburg

€122

Liverpool Lisbon Lyon

€76

€52

Budapest

Zaragoza

spa on a private Island in County Fermanagh using VOYA’S signature products.

SUMMER RATES A survey from

On the other end of the scale, Edinburgh offers the worst value for money this month, as prices are up by 39pc for the annual Fringe Festival. One night in August will cost an average of €224, in comparison to €164 in July. Next are Malaga and Salzburg, where prices are up by 27pc to €99 and €167 respectively. Travellers looking for a good deal this month should also avoid Turin (up 22pc to an average of €115 per night) and Copenhagen (up 22pc to €177).

€194

€164 Oslo

MIlan Florence

Hamburg Turin

Cologne Marseille Glasgow

Source: Trivago.ie


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OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 8

POSTCARDS FROM THE TRAVEL SCENE

t is 25 years this month since the Falcon took to the sky and Falcon Holidays CEO Helen Caron hosted 120 guests to celebrate the anniversary in the sumptuous surroundings of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham. “We needed a bit of luck to come through those first few years," Freddie O’Neill said. He said that when Falcon launched none of the existing Dublinbased tour operators were big enough to

I

crush the new company, but the same could not be said of Belfast. After their launch, they reduced their margins to zero in Belfast and were position to capitalise on the collapse of Skytours a year later. Bill Smith, Gabrielle Malone, Christine Donnelly (who returned from walking the camino for the event) and Freddie O’Neill (above) reminisced on a job well done.

he United Airlines north versus south golf competition started with a change of plan: the competition was transferred from the O’Meara Championship course to the Montgomery course at the plush Carton Estate near Maynooth, Co Kildare. It didn’t affect the golfers however, and Team South won by 5.5 points to 3.5. Mervyn McNeely of Stena Line in Belfast was called on to play for Team South and who made a crucial putt to

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help win the match.To add to the confusion, Stephen McKenna of Atlas Travel who lives in Co Derry was playing with Team South. The sun shone throughout the competition and some of the visitors had the added advantage of an overnight stop. Jimmy Lennox of World Travel Centre is pictured with the captains, John Cassidy of Team south and Gary Boyd of Team North.

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ranked in top 1000. One&Only Palmilla Resort San Jose del Cabo in Mexico was rated best in the world, ahead of Arenas del Mar in Costa Rica, Marrol's Boutique Hotel Bratislav, the top European hotel in Bratislava, Czech Republic. Picture shows Killarney Lake staff Gemma Dacayo, Alan Jones, Liam Campion, Pontus Glad, Tomas Ballek and Catherine Burke.

taff at Killarney Lake hotel celebrating their 50th in the world place on the Expedia Global Insiders' selected from 205,000 hotels worldwide: River Lee Hotel in Cork (75th) was also rated in the top 100 at the annual Expedia Insiders’ Select hotels survey. Hayfield Manor in Cork, Ashley Lodge in Blarney, Dylan Hotel in Dublin and G Hotel in Galway also

iara Foley of Platinum Travel, chair of the Visit USA committee and colleague Clodagh Oxley embarked on their first national roadshow.The picture show Ciara addressing invited travel agents in Limerick. They hosted agents in the Brasserie One No 1 Pery Square in Limerick and Hayfield Manor in Cork. They were joined by Matt Bates of Kansas/Oklahoma (participating in his first promo-

C

tion in the Irish provinces), Ivan Beacom of Aer Lingus, Claire Docherty of Sunway, Paul Manning and Shauna Mullery of Hertz and Lee Osborne of Bookabed and Andrea Sims of Visit California. The roadshow was welcomed by Tony Brazil of Limerick Travel who said that they appreciated the efforts of anyone who crossed the M50 in the interests of the travel industry.

ave Walsh, the Etihad Ireland manager was heard to remark, when he hosted 200 agents, corporate customers and media at the All Ireland hurling final between Clare and Cork, that he did not care who won “as long as there was a winner.” The match was, of course, a draw, and Etihad now have the problem of hosting a major event for the replay of the final for the second successive year.

D

It helped that the occasion was such a success and the sponsorship manager , Briony Trevathan had come from Abu Dhabi was in Croke Park for the occasion, as were Joost Den Hartog, Vice President Europe and Beatrice Cosgrove, Manager for Europe. Vice president of hospitality, the Dublin born Aubrey Teidt spoke at the event as did NIall Quinn and Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh.

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tory and was and was deemed so dangerous that Houdini refused to attempt it. There will be a new major production of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and an epic closing concert from the Ulster Orchestra. Pictured at the launch in Patrick Guilbaud's Dublin: Anne McMullan of VisitBelfast, Richard Wakely director of Belfast Festival, and Fiona Cunningham director of NITB office in Belfast.

osé Carrerras at The Waterfront Hall on October 17th will be the opening act of the 2013 Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s. Roger Bernat’s theatrical experiment in political engagement Pending Vote is one of seven productions which makes its Irish premiere. Rob Drummond’s performs the infamous magic trick Bullet Catch, an act that has cost 12 lives in its 400-year his-


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OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 9

POSTCARDS FROM THE TRAVEL SCENE

Cathy’s Column

L

ow Cost Beds have signed a deal with the Irish Travel Agents Association in what may prove to be a significant development amidst the uncertainty of the DP sector, . Under the deal Lowcostbeds will indemnify all ITAA members against potential claims and losses arising from the sale, promotion or use of accommodation booked with lowcostbeds.com. Clem Walsh of Low Cost Beds said

Lowcost is keen to work closely with the ITAA and support them in what they described as their core market Dynamic Packaging. "We are the only bed bank to offer this to them to date I am hopeful smaller agents will now DP with us as we've removed what was a rather worrying barrier for them." The coverage extends to all expenses, demands, damages and legal costs relating to a booking.

Cathy Burke, General Manager T; ]?T9OH qC:D=OHHC?=

TRAVEL COUNSELLORS 8 YEARS ON ..m sDC;LO? GKHO=;CDO ;C QOHOR?T;Oy ]LK= GCD;L 8O QOHOR?T;O C:? z;L TDDK9O?=T?6 =KDQO =O;;KDM :A ]?T9OH qC:D=OHHC?= KD j?OHTDPm c:? 9O?6 Rrst Travel Counsellor here was Lorraine Lawless, from Dublin, based in Meath, and I am happy to say that she is running a thriving business to this day. Lorraine also won an award at our recent conference for having the most Cruise sales.

K

ildare village, Ireland's leading tourist attraction with 2.5m visitors will undergo big changes over the coming years. A recent trend had been the use of some central space for pop-up outlets during the summer, including Stephen Pearce Potter whose four month pop-up boutique showcased Stephen's iconic pottery including his trademark Classic Range.Kildare also welcomed new-look

Molton Brown boutique. Earlier in the summer Newbridge town hosted an oral hearing attended by Chairman of Value Retail, Scott Maklin, for a €50m expansion that, should it get the go-ahead, will bring 34 new brands, two new restaurants and an expanded tourist office to the seven-year-old retail development in 2014. Picture shows Dee Breen and LeeAnn McCarthy at the Kildare Village.

We brought a new way of doing business to the travel industry in Ireland. It’s not just about homeworking, what makes us unique is ;LT; 8O PCD3; QCGAO;O 8K;L C:? C8D TMOD;=m ZO39O DC =LCA= C? call centres so we spend 100% of our time and energy supporting C:? ]?T9OH qC:D=OHHC?=m c:? 8OR=K;O PCO=D3; =OHH LCHKPT6=1 KD=;OTP K; =:AAC?;= C:? TMOD;= TDP ACKD;= Q:=;CGO?= ;C ;LOG =C ;LO6 can grow their businesses. We’ve helped to keep more talented travel professionals in the industry as they’re able to focus on the elements of being an agent that they really love. Our professional TAA?CTQL LT= MK9OD Q?OPKRKHK;6 ;C LCGO8C?IKDM 8K;LKD ;LO ;?T9OH KDP:=;?6 KD j?OHTDPm j ROHKO9O C:? =:QQO== LT= LTP T L:MO KGATQ; CD ;LO KDP:=;?6 T= T whole, as throughout Ireland’s economic woes we have continued to grow, unlike many others. At Travel Counsellors we talk a lot about bucking the trend, and yes we have, but we’ve gone far further than that here in Ireland. We have contributed €110 million in sales to the Irish travel industry since 2005. We’ve grown from sales of €4.5 million in our Rrst year, and we’re on track to achieve sales of almost €19 million in 2013. ZO39O LTP T =:?MO KD ?OQ?:K;GOD; ;LK= =:GGO? 8K;L =K7 DO8 ?OQ?:K;= joining, bringing our total number to a record high of 52. We’ve lots of exciting developments being launched including our consumer and recruitment Rlms, new websites and brand refresh. Exciting times ahead for us here in the Cork ofRce and for our 52 ]?T9OH qC:D=OHHC?= T?C:DP ;LO QC:D;?6m

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nsight Vacations hosted delegates from Europe, Australia, North America, Singapore and elsewhere (above) in Dublin for their annual Global Sales Conference. Insight’s new Europe 2014 brochure was launched during the conference, featuring new itineraries such as Principalities of Europe, Country Roads of Croatia, and a four-day mini trip WW1 Battlefields.

Insight Vacations was supported in the venture by trade sponsors, Etihad Airways and Amadeus, and is delivering its new Europe brochure to agents with discounts for early bookings. Picture on right shows John Boulding, President and Chief Executive, Insight Vacations, with Doreen Smyth of children’s charity Variety Ireland who received gifts from the delegates.

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SKI & SNOWBOARD 2013-14

Burgers with ice Eoghan Corry tries three Austrian resorts

Sallbach offers 138km of groomed slopes

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nlike other nations, the eastern Alps are the favourite playground of the Irish snow-goers. We tend to cluster in half a dozen Austrian resorts, the local hostelries as familiar as any in Bishopstown or Balbriggan. So it seemed like a good idea to kick off the 2013 ski season with

three resorts in three days. Even in the peep-and-flee world of travel journalism, its seemed a lot to ask. Saalbach, Zell an Zee and Bad Gastein are the Riviera of the Irish ski market,Saalbach and Zell Am Zee are an hour apart and Bad Gastein a further 40 minutes further.

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he warm winter of 2007-8 led to Saalbach investing €1.8m in snow machines. “No matter what happens we can now guarantee good skiing,” skischule director Hans Hinterholzer says. You get the impression that Saalbach is in control of its own destiny. The investment is provided by 12 local in-

LOW DOWN ABOUT HIGH PLACES

■ The lift pass for Saalbach Ski Circus costs €227 in high season for adults. ■ Ski and Boot Hire costs €78 and Ski School well worth the investment regardless of your standard €178. ■ With Topflight, a week’s holiday in Saalbach costs from €899 at the four star Berger’s Sporthotel including Topflight Aer Lingus charter to Salzburg, transfers, and Half Board accommodation as well as rep services and full luggage allowances. ■ The Lift Pass for Zell am See costs €225 in high season. Standard Boots and Skis cost €929 and Ski School costs €190 for 5 days tuition. ■ With Topflight, a week’s holiday in Zell am See-Kaprun costs from €585 including Topflight Aer Lingus charter to Salzburg, transfers, and B&B accommodation as well as rep services

and full luggage allowances. ■ A six day lift pass to the Gastein Valley costs €227 in high season. Standard skis and boots cost €90 and ski school costs €183. ■ A week’s accommodation in Gastein costs from €799 in the four star Hotel Volseerhof with Wellness Centre including Topflight Aer Lingus Charter, transfers, accommodation, and rep services, including full luggage allowance of 20kgs check-in and 10kg on board. ■ Tobogganing is one of the fun things to do un Saalbach. It is usually made more enjoyable by a visit to a mountain hut before the journey starts. ■ Zell am See is located on the lake and has ice skating, curling, sleigh rides, tubing, and ice hockey. Great bars include the Diele and Crazy Daisy

vestors from the town’s hotels. Over by the Spielberghaus they offer tobogganing down the slopes. Karin Pasterer from the tourist board accompanied us around Saalbach, and ski instructor Kostadinovic Nemanja brought us into the icingcake Kohlmaiskopf, the most spectacular of the 180 km on offer, served by 60 lifts. At Christmas and midterm they can bring 70,000 people on to this mountain with new fast lifts bringing them from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. No-

Ice place for a beer

tably the dreaded drag lift on the lower slopes has been replaced by a proper gondola two years ago. Soon the t-bar will be as extinct as T-Rex here around. The region offers summer skiing at the Kaprun glacier but as Kostadinovic says, “it is not fun in winter.” At Bobbie's pub there is an Irish rugby jersey on the wall. They like the Irish skiers who come in large numbers to the town.

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ell am Zee is a smaller resort, with just 8,000 beds but comes with a star attraction, a lake that freezes from mid January to the end of February. It is also accessible by railway, with the Salzburg to Innsbruck line running through the heart of the town. The rail journey form Salzburg takes and hour and 15 minutes. The slopes here offer 138km of good skiing served by 53 lifts but this will be dwarfed by the prospect of a direct link to Saalbach planned for


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SKI & SNOWBOARD 2013-14 three years time, putting this up with the big linked ski areas such as Four Valleys, Les Trois Vallées, Espace Killy, Skiwelt, Paradiski, and Grandvalira. The nightlife is lively. The town has an Irish pub, O’Flanagans is the Irish pub and terrific evening dining at the famed Crazy Daisy restaurant. We adjourned afterwards for beers and bop in the Dillie, floods of dry ice spewing form the walls to interrupt the talk of the white stuff. To discover one of three real treasures of the Eastern Alps you have to head uphill. Christian Schatzer runs Pinzgauer Hutte on a mountain spur, looking down on the valley. After lunch he will arrange to have you brought up by skidoo, a reindeer sleigh in reverse with the cart dragging skiers stopping each time a snowboarder comes undone. It is fun. The dining on the mountain is proudly local, offering the delicacies such as Tiroler Grostl and Kaiser Schmarm alongside Anglophone imports. On the ski down I met an amazing 72-year-old, Joaquim Temmel from Linz, who spends a week here each year. He doesn’t do wimpish tings like use the lift. He walks up the mountain and skies back down, often off piste. This year he is mourning for his dog who used

Good slopes at Bad Gastein to accompany him on these adventures. Sometimes he would ski waist deep as the dog pranced up and down through the powder “like a dolphin.”

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ad Gastein, as indicated by the name, was a spa town long before ski became popular and carries all the bow-tie grandeur that its status can bestow. It has a tuxedo casino (bring your passport or you won’t get in), a signature midtown waterfall whose sound thunders down the main street, and a famously lively bar, the Silver Bullet, well known to Irish repeat Gasteiners. It fits the brochures neatly because it has more accommodation

when you count the three towns, 7,000 beds in Bad Hofgastein, 5,000 in Bad Gastein and 2,500 in Dorfgastein. Both Bad Hofgastein (Alpentherme Gastein) and Bad Gastein (the Felsemtherme) have large communal spas with fitness centres, massage treatment rooms and multiple pools, including unisex saunas where nudity is mandatory. The best restaurant in the valley is a short drive out of town. At Bertahof restaurant we tasted the local delicacies, trout, chicken stuffed with reindeer, and a delicately prepared heifer thyroid. If the slopes have chilled you, you can warm up among the thigh

slappers at the Hirschenhutte where Astrid Schafflinger the waitress promised our vegetarian colleague a surprise. The dinner show is pricey but the communal dance afterwards gets everyone on their feet, amid much ringing of cowbells and toasts in Swedish. It was going to be all uphill after that. It was windy when we reached the Stubnerkogel joint ski

area, gondolas swinging in the breeze as we ascended 2200m to the top in seven and a half minutes. Bad Gastein and Bad Hofgastein offer access to 200kms of ski slope. Hans Naglmayr, who plays the long wooden Alpine horn in his spare time, was our guide and lunched in Schlossam restaurant on the mountain where we ate noodle soup, Kaiser Schnitzel

and baked potato, a signed photo of racer Johann Grugger on the wall. Hans is a park ranger by summer who has seen the snowline rise in his short lifetime. When the talk turns to global warming he declares, “it is twelve, not a minute before twelve, the time has come.” After three of these resorts you understand why these things matter.

■ Topflight www.topflight.ie 01 2401700 is a wholly Irish owned and has been voted Ireland’s leading ski tour operator at the Irish Travel Industry Awards. ■ The ski season continues right up to Easter which is on March 31st this year. ■ Topflight has winter ski charter flights from Dublin, Cork and Belfast airports to Salzburg Airport. which it usesas its gateway to all its ski resorts in Austria including the resorts of Saalbach, Zell am See-Kaprun and The Gastein Valley. ■ The best value for ski holidays is always in mid January, but the longer days of spring – with sunny days on the slopes – are a great alternative in March.

How white is my valley? Scenes from Saalbach and (middle top right) extreme skier in Zell am Zee


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he trip came with a surprise beginning, more likely with ski holidays than with any other type of holiday. The road from Toulouse to Andorra has been snowbound, so we are flying to El Prat in Barcelona instead. Barcelona to Andorra is a more scenic drive, Craig our Topflight rep told us, but I don’t think there is much difference. We check in T2, and using the strange logic that is Dublin airport, head back to T1 to Gate 303. The flight boards early, which is a bit of a heart stopper because my daughter Síofra has disappeared to Burgerland in T1 for breakfast. Thankfully we retrieve her in time. The bus takes four and a half hours instead of the normal three. The stop in Canvails is ike half time at the Aviva, a mill involving the contents of 16 coaches in quest of sprite and soggy chips. A handwritten sign at the corner says tour guides only where the young reps cluster. Pasta and cheese and a coke costs €8.50, a high price for a captive audience.

Andorra the Explorer Children under 11 get free lift passes in selected Andorran resorts

Eoghan Corry skis like a prince in the principality

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here was so much snow that they could not keep the pistes clear. The road to Toulouse is under an avalanche. They were still trying to dig out the ticket office at Arcalis. Here in Arinsal the footpath is now five feet higher than the road, which makes the walk from the St Gothard hotel to the lift a precarious

perambulation. We got a reminder of the delight of Andorra: the snow here is fluffy and powdery and a little salty, straight from the Bay of Biscay and not like the heavier wet stuff you get in the Alps. The terrain in Arinsal will be familiar to many readers: a big walk up the hill by the roadside form the hotel, well-nigh im-

LOW-DOWN ABOUT THE HIGH-UP PLACES

■ Soldeu has over 200kms of piste is an excellent resort for all levels of skiers with some challenging red and black runs, as well as cruising reds. Topflight would recommend the Sports Village complex ski in and gondola within the complex, or the Piolets Park Hotel, as well as other budget price accommodation. Après ski activities include husky dog rides, skidooing etc. as well as the usual après ski for singles. Lift Pass for Grandvalira costs €189, children under 11 get FREE lift pass when one adult pre books. First Time Ski pack €275 ■ Arinsal has 63kms of piste in the VallNord sector of Arinsal. The lift pass for the area can be used for Arcalis as well, reachable by free ski bus. Arinsal is a very good value resort, great for families as well as singles, and better for beginners and lower intermediates.

■ Lift Pass €152 children under 11 get FREE lift pass when one adult pre books. ■ First time ski pack €239 to include 6 days ski and boot hire, 5 days ski school and 6 day lift pass ■ Prices at the 4 Star St Gothard Hotel from €539pps price includes flights, accommodation and transfers and half board and live entertainment 6 days per week ■ Entry to Caldea is €39. entry to wellness extra facilities is €59 and watch out for special offer packages including massage etc. ■ A big plus for Andorra is its capital Andorra la Vella and its 3kms of shopping including well known shops such as Mango, Bershka and Zara all offering low prices, as well as ski gear, electrics, and low low drinks prices, especially for quality brands.

possible when the pavement is about three feet higher than the road with compressed snow, then the gondola ride through awesome beauty to the ski area, where a big complex of buildings await including the lockers where we keep our skies, then a beginners area with a magic carpet, a shortish four man chairlift to the right and a six man to the left that brings you up to a sprawling magnificent white playground surrounded by low hills. Beyond that is a scarey drag lift and a four man that both bring you to an exposed peak, from which the steepest blue slope in the resort descends back to the playground once more. Off to the left as you look uphill is my favourite red on the resort, short and steep but wide, how I love it, love it, love it.

feel cheek, nose or face. On the following morning we could not believe the improvement. The ride up was a little cold but not so bad, then we got off the lift and tried to ski down, we discovered that the wind had merely turned, not died, to pay a trick on us. We could barely ski into the headwind. The snow Wes still falling, the wind is up and it is very, very cold. Myself and Síofra are trying to ski downhill in zero visibility. The fog was so thick you could barely see beyond your outstretched arm. We travelled when-

ever there was a break in the driving blinding snow and fog and proceed with caution because along the slope there were little groups of huddled figures in the driving, cutting, icy snow, waiting for the ten yards visibility to get them a little further downhill. Down in the beginners area, kindergartners are being blown off the magic carpet like skittles. After one descent we upped sticks, literally, and took the gondola to the bottom. “That was fun, but I wouldn’t want to do it again,” said Síofra in her classically understated way. We found that the bus to the neighbouring resort Pal had gone out that morning and never come back, stranded on some snowy mountain by-road. So we take the public bus, €1.45, to La Masana where there is a gondola up to Pal, which is south facing and has lots of trees. When we arrive there, it is sunny and fresh, with blue skies and glorious pistes extending in each direction, with Síofra still pulling big blocks of ice off my eyebrows from our morning misadventure even as we ascended the mountain. It was like another world, big white pistes with sunshine and hardly a wind. Síofra found a long blue one she got to like, El Gall, and we did that over and over. We

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he six man chairlift from the bottom is the place where we nearly perished on the first day of our visit in the frontal breeze, cutting into our faces, so that you could not longer

Spend a day-ah at the Caldea


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SKI & SNOWBOARD 2013-14 then tried another and, getting brave, we separated, I did a red and she did a blue. She, of course, failed to make one of the corners and stuck her skies into the orange netting that some foresightful fellows have erected to prevent a wayward skier going over the edge. The other side of the mountain, different planet.

taking the James Bond cable car over to Pal and throwing another snowball at the Spanish border.

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nd then, the wind died and the sun came out. All the slopes opened again. Even north facing Arcalis had 12 of its 17 pistes open. Andorra made its name as a playground for beginners after the first ski lifts opened in 1957, became all trendy when the Grandvalira was created in 2004 opening up 193km of piste, and then became a tad too expensive for the Irish who looked east to Austria, Italy and Bulgaria instead. IN recent years Andorra has grown up, which is an achievement considering the top of Croagh Patrick is lower than the lowest point in the little principality. Last year Andorra enjoyed a big leap in capacity and a 8pc jump in bookings form Ireland. This year capacity is up again, with 6,000 irish expected to ski the principality. Prices have been reined in and the season is looking good. Better hotels and spas have been thrown alongside shopping into Andorra’s box of tricks.

Pal offers a very different terrain and different ski experience from Arinsal

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ndorra la Vella the capital, is, an unusually urban setting for a ski experience. The town got its name from the numerous hot springs and we are here to sample the Caldea, a space age wellness centre near the little river with Icelandic pools, hammams, saunas and an outdoor pool where you swim in heated luxury while the snow dusts your hair. , One nearby sixkilometre gondola run can get you up the mountains in 14 minutes. Entry to Caldea is €39 to use the pools, €59 including treatments, offering five storeys of pools, treatment rooms, and saunas. There is a free bus from Arinsal for people staying on that side of the mountain and shops stay open until 8 o’clock at night, with great duty free prices.

It comes complete with a bizarre grapefruit pool, a small swimming pool with grapefruits bobbing around in the dark, something to help your skin, apparently. It doesn’t work. I tried. We also shop for the cheap electronics and booze that makes Andorra famous. The Hiper Andorra shop is now a Le Clerc, sign of changing times, but it still has the cheapest bottles in town.

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oldeu is a good place to measure how far Andorra has come from the ‘bargains and beginners’ place it used to be. I spent the day skiing non stop under the blue sky, about 40 kilometers with Mike Wilson, an Anglo-Italian guide living in Andorra who used to be a racer. He took off like the clappers and I

■ Eoghan Corry travelled to Andorra with Topflight, Ireland’s leading ski tour operator, supported by Ski Andorra and Aer Lingus. ■ Topflight operates an Aer Lingus Charter programme to Andorra for the full ski season, from Dublin to Toulouse and from Cork to Barcelona on Aer Lingus scheduled flights. All flights operate on a Sunday to Sunday basis. ■ See www.topflight.ie (telephone 01 2401700) ■ Aer Lingus schedule is on www.aerlingus.com ■ Topflight continue to support the trade with training days as well as in-house training which can be scheduled by Graham Hennessy, Group Sales and Agency Sales Manager, Topflight. Contact him on 01 2401744. Training is key to selling ski. Clients know ski, so agency staff need to know too. Topflight will also be organising ski fam trips during the season, like other years

tried to follow, blues, red, and black. He brought me down the world cup slope and despite several heart attacks, I made it. Getting there was a three bus journey and I gashed my hand off my skis taking them out of the hold of one of the buses, but once there all the drama was forgotten. They opened a new tunnel through the mountain just before Christmas which has taken half an hour off the journey back to Arinsal. A morning on the slopes shows what a good job they have done. As we lap up the kilometres around the resort there are some challenges and a few icy wobbly bits (Soldeu ain’t drowning in snow, like Ischgl is this

week) but the scenery makes it all worthwhile. A line of Andorran kindergartners parade by in little suits with magnets on their back, to hold them on the ski lift. One day a week they get up the mountain to ski. What an education. An Irish ski instructress. Lesley Boyd from Dundrum spends her winter here, and is one of the best tutors in the resort. You can ski down to the little village of Pas de la Casa, throw a snowball into France and take the lift back up again, rattling along at the regulation 2.4 metres per second as the scenery unfolds around. Not to be outdone, Noemi Roguera and Aina Perez brought us on an amazing tour of Arinsal,

Sunshine straight from the bay of Biscay

ndorra’s big drawback used to be the transfer time, but the French have shaved an hour off the transfer time to Toulouse with the grandiosely named European Route E09. Barcelona has three direct flights a day from Dublin but Toulouse is a better transfer option. Unless something gets lodged in the bridge at Prat de la Plau. But you don’t get to visit a mountain principality without having to go up the mountain.

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travel insurance glitch was solved last season. Andorra is outside the EU, so travel insurance claims used to take time while to get processed. The ski resorts have decided to offer their own, at 3.20 a day, or 45 for the season. It means no paperwork when you present with that sprained wrist, and they will have you strapped and back on the slopes straightaway. Andorra won’t ever be Espace Killy but it has infinitely cheaper wine and better shopping.


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he Alps enjoyed such a lengthy winter in 2012/2013 that some hardy souls were still ski touring in the Chamonix area in mid- June. For those of us who weren’t so lucky, September is traditionally the time when tour operators launch their new destinations and the rest of us start browsing websites to plan next season’s ski holiday. There are a number of key factors to consider when booking a winter holiday and here are our top picks for winter 2013/2014:

6 OUR

FAVORITES

We have picked six ski areas that are vying for your attention in 2013/14: Klosters, Switzerland. Best-known as a favourite ski destination for England’s Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Klosters comes alive for the annual World Economic Forum but is otherwise low-key compared to its snazzier neighbour, Davos. While big name resorts were choc-a-bloc in January last year, Klosters was quiet, which meant pure bliss for off-piste skiers taking advantage of fresh powder on its many offpiste runs. The resort is home to the oldest ski lift in Switzerland, the Selfronga. These days, its loyal ski clientele is ageing almost as fast as the lift and resort bosses want to bring a new generation of young skiers in. Klosters is under-stated and discreet. There’s no brash nightlife – excellent food and buzzy cellar bars are the order of the day here. We stayed at the family-run Chesa hotel,

which served up an impressive tasting menu and a Sunday night jazz session. It’s situated right opposite the train station, a bonus if you’re making the very picturesque train journey to Zurich. Sauze d’Oulx on the Milky Way, Italy, is one of a number of Italian resorts keen to attract Irish holiday makers back this winter. Back in the 1980s, Sauze was nicknamed ‘Suzy Does It’ due to its popularity with British package holiday revellers. That nickname has long since vanished but at first glance, Sauze is still a quintessential package holiday resort, popular with beginners and early intermediate skiers getting their first taste of ski holiday culture. Popular with British and Dutch skiers, bars (a number of them Englishowned) are geared up to show all the big football and rugby games and you can travel into Milan or Turin to watch a live football match. But behind the cheap beer offers and the excitable intermediate skiers, the real Sauze has rustic, cobblestoned village streets, excellent restaurants, a couple of wine bars and a truly Italian vibe. It’s also one of the friendliest resorts we’ve visited in a while. Sip wine at the Lampeone wine bar or cocktails at the Miravilloni. Eat delicious pizza and sip Macciatos at the Assietta restaurant with prices that won’t break the bank – under a tenner for a pizza and a glass of wine. On the mountain, pistes are geared towards intermediates, with some lovely wide blue and red runs leading back to the Sportinia area, which is where the apres-ski starts at 3pm. Sansicario offers longer runs for more advanced intermediates while you can do a day tour that takes in Sansicario, Cesana, Claviere and Montgenevre if snow conditions are good

Catherine Murphy’s pick of the best places to ski, stay and play on the slopes this winter

Avant as well as apres enough. Sauze is also linked to Sestriere, which is accessible by gondola. Stay at the Relais des Alpes for what we thought was a rather functional four star experience or for a more rustic approach, opt for the Hotel Bianci Nieve, a small pension-style hotel run by two sisters and loved by visitors for its authentic local food. Both hotels are featured in the Crystal Holidays ski brochure. Breckenridge, celebrated its 150th anniversary last year; this year, Colorado’s favourite mining resort is vying for your attention with its largest terrain expansion in over a decade. Peak Six will increase terrain at Breck by 23 per cent, a bonus in a ski town that we already love. Livigno was once a massively popular ski destination for Irish holidaymakers, despite a five hour transfer. The recession has seen Irish visitor numbers drop off and this year, Livigno is keen to see them increase again. In recent years, Italian resorts have become wellestablished as some of the most reasonable in Eu-

rope, worth keeping in mind when you go to book a holiday. Also bear in mind that Livigno had a great reputation as a party town, particularly among the Irish! Les Trois Vallees, France’s Three Valleys are always top of our list for the sheer scale of the ski terrain and off-piste available. This year, the area has teamed up with some of the top resorts in Europe and North America to become part of the Epic Pass system. The Epic Pass is a season pass offered by Vail resorts in Colorado, which now offers five free days skiing in Les Trois Vallees, as well as five free days in St Anton, Austria and Verber, Switzerland. The season pass costs around 700 dollars to buy and has to be bought by September but if you’re planning on a number of trips, including one to Breckenridge, Vail, Keystone in Colorado or Heavenly in California, this pass will pay for itself within a week and still leave you with lots of free ski days in Europe afterwards. www.epicpass.com Red mountain and

Hot Six

6

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK DESTINATIONS

Whitewater, Canada: Set in British Columbia’s Kootenay rockies, these little-known resorts offer steep slopes, deep powder and diverse terrain for off-piste fans. Not so easy to reach as better known Canadian resorts but worth the extra effort when you finally launch into that powder. Hire a SUV and hit the powder highway. Stay at Red Robs at Red Mountain or the Prestige lakeside resort in Nelson. Vallorcine, Chamonix valley, France. A twenty minute drive from bustling Chamonix, Vallorcine might as well be a million miles away. A pretty little hamlet at the end of the Chamonix valley, it’s situated close to Argentiere and looks up at the Grand Montets ski area. Popular with families but also a good bet for advanced skiers who want to go off-piste

in search of hidden powder stashes. Stay at the Bellevue Alpine lodge where owners Mandy and Mike offer a very personable service and excellent home cooked food or at the Residence self-catering apartments opposite the lift in the centre of the village. Macugnagna, Italy: Situated in front of the east face of the Monte Rosa massif in Italy, this hidden gem allows you to explore the Belvedere and Monte Moro ski areas. This is an unknown area to most of us but is featured in the Ski Club of Great Britain’s Fresh Tracks programme for its challenging off-piste and stunning scenery. Niseko, Japan. They say you'll ski the deepest powder of your life in Japan. Niseko is considered one of the country's top five resorts, with lots of tree-lined runs that are perfect for snowy days, huge powder fields like Strawberry Fields and Miharashi, and a 900m vertical drop to keep steeps fans happy.


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SKI & SNOWBOARD 2013-14 Andermatt Switzerland. Used by the Swiss army for ski training, this is one of Switzerland's snowiest villages and an unknown gem to many Irish skiers. Hit the steeps in the Gemsstock area. La Grave, near Briancon, France. Skier's Lodge owner Pelle Lang and his trusty band of guides will take you to places in the mountains that you never dreamed existed, taking in not only the imposing and wonderful La Meije in La Grave itself but beyond to Alpe d'Huez and Montgenevre. Prepare by getting very fit and prepare to be wowed. Alternatively, you can stay at the Edelweiss hotele. This is where serious off-piste skiers go so don’t expect a resort or big lift infrastructure – all you need is one bubble lift to the mountain and one bar in the village at night.

6 TOP TIPS FOR SKI THIS WINTER

Size matters: One aspect of skiing that we always wonder about is the endless claims by ski

areas that they’re the largest in Europe or that they offer the longest runs. When you finally get to ski that 22km run they told you about, well, it just doesn’t feel that long. According to Where to Ski and Board 2014, that’s because many resorts simply exaggerate the length of their pistes in order to attract visitors. German writer Christoph Schrahe used digital tools to measure pistes in 50 of the biggest ski areas in the world and found some

interesting results. Amongst the saints who weren’t guilty of over-estimating piste lengths were Kitzbuhel, Lech-Zurs, St Anton and Saalbach, all in Austria. Among the sinners who exaggerated piste lengths were Vars, Isola 2000, Les Sybiles and the wellknown 4 Valleys in Switzerland, of which Verbier is a senior partner. Among the resorts who exaggerated piste lengths by over 50pc were the Porte du Soleil and Flaine in France, and the

Milky Way in Italy. Flaine bosses said they exaggerated piste lengths by 57pc because skiers make turns while skiing down the mountain, rather than going straight down! Two Italian resorts conceded that they exaggerated piste lengths while the Four Valleys is now completely re-measuring its pistes. When to go skiing: last winter, the ski season in Europe stretched from November to May in some areas so it’s worth remembering that you

can sneak in a quick trip to the Alps in early December to experience ‘premiere neige’ or late April for spring skiing. For example, Tignes in France recorded its highest snowfall for the season at the end of April. Bear in mind that if you travel in early December, many resorts will limit the number of lifts and pistes that they open and if you travel in late April, resorts can be very quiet. Solo Skiers. If you love skiing but find yourself sans ski buddies this year, the Ski Club of Great Britain's Ski Freshtracks programme particularly caters for solo skiers. Their courses and trips are extremely well run and in addition, they have a chalet in Flaine, France, which will make it even easier for solo skiers to socialise and find ski companions.

THE MOUNTAIN IS EVERYTHING Build the holiday that’s right for you.

crystalski.ie

St Anton | Tignes | Whistler | Cervinia | Pas de la Casa | La Plagne and loads more

Terms and conditions: See website for details.


Page 014-018 ski top six 16/09/2013 10:21 Page 3

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SKI & SNOWBOARD 2013-14

TOURING RUNS

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ouring continues to grow in popularity and two resorts top the list of touring destinations: Chamonix and Zermatt, which form the start and end point respectively of the famous Haute Route ski tour. The haute route takes six days to complete and is an arduous journey, starting with a steep climb up the Col de Chardonnet in Argentiere and finishing six days later with the an epic ski down into Zermatt, with a birds’ eye view of the Matterhorn. Alagna, Piedmont region, Italy. This little gem of a place is home to some fantastic off-piste and touring opportunities in the Monte Rosa range. Stay in the quaint village and ski pure backcountry every day. Klosters, Switzerland. Mentioned above for its low-key appeal and discreet treatment of visiting British royals, Klosters is a must-visit for off-piste and touring fans who will find much to entertain them. Val d'Isere, Espace Killy, France. If you know your stuff and trust the guide books, there are a range of day tours you can undertake in this area. Otherwise, take a guide from Top Ski or ESF to explore the vast off-piste in this region. Galtur, Austria. The Ski Club of Great Britain's Freshtracks programme features Silvretta safaris, taking in a beautiful traverse of the ridge that forms the spine of the Austrian-Swiss border. You can also depart from Ischgl for a less demanding tour.

Hotels that we dream

SIX FAVOURITE SKI HOTELS

about staying in: The Schloss Lebenberg, Kitzbuhel, Austria. A contemporary five star hotel situated 1.5km (a pleasant 15 minute walk or short shuttle bus drive) from the resort. The top floor swimming pool is stunning, offering great views of the resort and mountains, staff are friendly and the food is inventive. Le Dahu, Morzine, Portes du Soleil, France. A three star family-run hotel that offers family rooms and looks down over the town. A five minute walk across Morzine's unique bridge takes you to the gondola for Avoriaz. Owner Benoid takes guests skiing or snowshoeing when he has time and truly understands the meaning of the word hospitality, which means he won't refuse to open the bar for you if you come home after midnight. The food is great too and rooms are traditional Savoyard style. Hotel Mont Blanc, Megeve. Every couple owes it to themselves to spend at least a few days at this gem of a hotel in Megeve, France's answer to Italy's Cortina. Jean Cocteau and Simone de Beauvoir both left their mark on this resort. The Mont Blanc exudes a style that belongs to that era while Megeve itself offers a classy (and expensive) night-life, a Swarovski Christmas tree in the centre and a fantastic sports centre complete with climbing wall, curling and ice-skating. You can ski to Les Contamines and Combloux or take a flight around Mont Blanc but don't bank on early or late season snow

since Megeve is lower than many of its French counterparts. Hotel Mirabeau, Zermatt, Switzerland. Family-run but very much a relaxing wellness spa, the Mirabeau floats across my mind on a regular basis as one of those places I really must get back to. The bedrooms were romantic, the food was fantastic and outside my window was the Matterhorn. The Fitzroy, Val Thorens. More functional four star than outright luxury but location is everything and the Fitzroy is ski-in, ski-out. You couldn't be in a better position for getting to the lifts early and home from the bars late. The St Regis, Aspen. Five star luxury with a lodge-style foyer, the St Regis is one of a number of fashionable addresses to stay at during a trip to Aspen. The other most fashionable addresses are Little Nell's and the Viceroy over at Snowmass. Slightly less luxurious but contemporary and very comfortable is the Limelight Lodge, just a few minutes walk from the main lifts. Tortin, Verbier, Valais region, Switzerland.

6 CHALLENGES

You need a parachute to get off the steep moguls at the top of this marvellously long field of bumps. Definitely not for the faint-hearted but what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger and Tortin is a great run for practising mogul technique and improving your ski fitness. Trifide, La Grave, France. Get kitted up with a harness, helmet and take a local guide to negotiate this notorious

6

Warm feelings in a cold climate couloir. There have been a couple of deaths on this run so mistakes are strictly out of the question. Grown Scandinavian men have been known to turn back from the tricky entry point, weeping for their mamas. Baldy Chutes, Alta, Utah, NA. Lovely steep chutes, as the name implies. Only opens in the right weather conditions so it is possible to spend a whole holiday in Alta and not get to ski it. That doesn’t stop you from dropping the name into conversations and pretending.... Corbett's couloir, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, North America. Another tricky entry point keeps most mere mortals away from this infamous couloir. La Balma, Alagna, Piedmont, Italy. Freeride heaven when the snow is good. Hire a chopper to drop you in for a long, lovely off-piste run down to the little village of Alagna. Highland bowls, Aspen, Colorado. Okay so it's at least a 30 minute hike to the top or longer if you're unfit but there are various drop-in points and a variety of excellent powder bowls to ski. You're more than likely to hear Chris Davenport, fa-

mous for skiing all of Colorado's 14,000 ft peaks in a year, hollering with enjoyment on this long off-piste run. . 1. The Dolomites,

FOR SCENERY

Italy. The jagged rock formations set this area apart from the Alps. You simply cannot beat the amazing scenery that you'll soak in as you ski the Sella Ronda circuit. Stay in Selva/Val Gardena. Wengen/Grindelwald, Jungfrau, Switzerland. Home to the imposing Eiger and conversely, some of the prettiest chocolate box Swiss scenery imaginable. Also home to Europe's highest railway. It doesn't get more Alpine than this. Verbier, Switzerland. The panoramic view from the top of the jumbo cable car at 3,300 metres is unbeatable, taking in Mont Blanc and many other impressive peaks. Even if you're not going to ski down the challenging

runs from here, take the cable car up to take in the views. Courmayeur, Italy. Bella, bella. Even strolling along the pretty cobblestoned streets of classy Courmayeur, you can admire the imposing mountain scenery. Go in March for sunny days, al fresco dining on the mountain and deep sun tans. Chamonix, France. Nothing can compare to the incredible formations of the Glace du Mer as you ski the glacier from the top of the Grand Montets cable car. If your skiing isn't quite at that level, another way to be stunned by the wonder of Mont Blanc is to base yourself in Megeve and take a flight in a light aircraft, it's absolutely worthwhile. Zermatt, Switzerland. Americans flock to Zermatt to get close to the Matterhorn and consider their trip a disaster if bad weather clouds their view of the Big M. You can't really blame them, it's a majestic peak. Zermatt itself is the archetypal pretty Alpine resort with ancient old buildings hidden behind the main street's expensive boutiques and an alpine museum.


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OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 17

SKI & SNOWBOARD 2013-14

SIX BEST OPTIONS FOR NO SKIERS AND GROUPS

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hoose a resort that's accessible by bus or train to nearby cities. For example, Igls has a very short transfer time from Innsbruck so non-skiers in your group can visit the city a couple of times. La Clusaz in Les Aravis in France is a 40 minute drive from lakeside Annecy. St Anton is also accessible to Innsbruck by train, which leaves directly from the resort. Focus on nightlife and activities. Val Thorens is loved by young groups for its cheap apartments, night life, snow guarantee and activities like onsnow mountain biking and snow mobiling. If your wallet can bear it, pick a resort that has nonski activities like snowmobiling, dog sled rides, toboggan rides, snowshoeing, shopping, wellness and thermal baths. For example, in New Hampshire, you can stay at the North Conway Hotel, situated right next to an outlet centre (if you like that kind of shopping) and ski different ski resorts every day, from Loon to Waterville. New Hampshire also offers a fun Zipline adventure during winter, through

It was a big winter for the Alps last season tree canopies on a wire. If there are disabled people in your group, more and more European resorts are offering skitaxiing, a service that allows non-skiers to get onto the mountain. Basically, you sit in a specially-designed seat-on-skis and are driven by a qualified instructor. Check out French resorts like Alpe d'Huez and Les Trois Vallees for this.

APRES SKI...

Apres-ski. An all-important part of most people’s ski holidays. If dancing on the tables is important to you, go to the Moosewirt in St Anton, Le Rond Point in Meribel, Fire and Ice in Ischgl, the Goat Cellar in Saalbach or Le Farinet in Verbier. Not everyone is rendered penniless by the re-

Prices rise with the ascent up the slopes

cession. If you still have cash to splash, spend it on good food. Go to Gressoney or Champoluc in the Aosta valley for Italian delights, Courchevel if money is no object and you don’t mind booking in advance, Colorado if you like American-style fine-dining. Our foodie favourites last winter were Michelen starred L'Oxalyis in Val Thorens, Flocons Village in Megeve (a sister of two Michelin starred Flocons de Sel, also in Megeve) and the Viceroy at Snowmass, Aspen, Colorado. We also liked Le Chalet de la Marine, Aiguilles de Peclet and La Folie Douce in Val Thorens. If luxury is a must, check out Le Chardon chalet in Val d’Isere, Humber Valley resort in Canada, the Hermitage Spa Hotel in Soldeu and Aspen Signature properties which are stunning

and come with an equally stunning price tag. If you’re travelling with children, pick a resort with a short (1-2

hours) transfer from the airport, good all-day crèche facilities, compact resorts that are easy to walk around or that have

good shuttle bus services, hotels with family suites, nanny services and overall family-friendly policies.


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OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 18

SKI & SNOWBOARD 2013-14

6

The Gastein Valley: accessible from three resorts

FAMILY VALUE

Ellmau, Austria. This little Tyrolean village is situated near that perennial Irish favourite, St Johann in Tirol, and is linked to the 275km Ski Welt. A good bet for families with far more reasonable prices than countries like Switzerland and France. Westendorf and Soll are also good value Austrian resorts. Champoluc, Italy. The lovely resort of Champoluc in the Aosta valley, which is linked to nearby Gressoney and Alagna, is a good mid-market option. Nestled beneath the Monte Rosa peak, it's also very pretty, which proves that you don't have to put

up with ugly resorts to get value for money. Bormio and Cervinia are other good value Italian options. French Pyrenees. The little resorts of Les Angles and Pyrenees 2000 are popular with young families and groups. Expect clean, functional accommodation and 20 to 30pc savings on prices in bigger resorts. Resorts are small – around 40km of pisted ski terrain – but that's plenty for beginners and early intermediates. Tucked into a corner of the French Pyrenees, the view from the top of the mountain is of Barcelona and there's a distinctly Catalan feel to the area. Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. Eastern Europe continues to attract skiers who don't want to break the bank completely. Ski runs here are small but perfectly formed, the food has an Italian twist and a round of drinks for

your pals is affordable. Bansko and Borovets in Bulgaria are other cheap eastern European favourites but the popularity has dipped and there aren’t direct flights from Ireland this year. La Tania, Les Trois Vallees, France. Yes, France has a reputation for expensive prices but if you want to ski vast areas, the Three Valleys is still one of your best bets. Reduce the cost by basing yourself in cheaper resorts like Les Menuires or La Tania. You'll still have to fork out for the three valleys lift pass but resorts like Les Menuires always have special package offers for certain weeks during the season. Montgenevre, Flaine and Avoriaz are other good bets for better value if you're a committed Francophile. Pas de la Casa, Andorra. Loved by twenty something party animals

6

who lap up the free shots in the bars. It's duty free and the ski area around Grandvalira is a very respectable 200 km. Just don't expect picture postcard prettiness.

TRY SOMETHING NEW FOR 2013-14 Last winter, the best fun we had was watching friends try ‘ski joering’ in the French resort of Alpe d’Huez. Ski joering involves skiing around a track being pulled by a horse. Yes, you read that correctly. Wearing very short snow blade skis, the skier holds onto a frame attached to the horse. There’s much hilarity as

friends line up and their horses start to gallop, dragging hapless holidaymakers around a mucky track, sometimes on their faces. Excellent fun for a group of friends after a day’s skiing. After ski-joering, the other big fun we had last winter was snowmobiling at dusk, again in Alpe d’Huez. Apart from the minor skirmishes and fun that snowmobiling usually entails, getting to ride through mountains heaving with snow just as the sun set was a special experience. New initiatives by ski resorts and ski schools. Ski school isn't just about joining a class of twelve other beginners anymore, most ski schools will now take you on snow-shoe excursions, off-piste, ski touring or ski safari and a growing number of resorts now feature music or comedy festivals throughout the season to

keep us entertained check out Bad Gastein for jazz, La Plagne for rock music, Meribel for comedy. Cross country skiing. Just as everyone raved about snow-shoeing five years ago, now suddenly skiers are ditching the downhill and getting a complete body workout on cross country circuits. Norway and Sweden are best for cross country fans but most European resorts have cross country ski tracks and circuits. Ski practise in Ireland. In Kilternan, near Dublin, the Ski Club of Ireland now has a travelator for kids on the beginner's slope, a new surface for the slopes and snowboarding classes. The club reopens in September for the winter season. Meanwhile the Ski Centre in Sandyford offers an alternative with two ski treadmills that are great for beginners.


Page 019 Ski News 16/09/2013 10:23 Page 1

OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 19

SKI & SNOWBOARD NEWS 2013-14

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rish operators have spent the summer negotiating next winter's deals and continue to introduce new ski resorts. The withdrawal of Panorama and Inghams from the Irish market in 20101 (Inghams are still active out of Belfast) and the cancellation of scheduled winter routes to Salzburg meant lower capacity and this picture has remained unchanged. Ski bookings for 201314 are 9pc ahead of last year according to Crystal and 30pc ahead according to Topflight. Independent flyers found low-cost luggage restrictions a problem - a pair of ski boots can weigh 7kg. A late Easter (Apr 22) means that the charter season ends with departures on March 22nd, the week after St Patrick’s Day. Capacity out of Belfast will be reduced in 20134. Inghams will no longer run an Innsbruck charter and confine themselves to Salzburg. Crystal and Topflight are sharing a Toulouse charter out of Belfast this winter. The February mid term coincides in both jurisdictions on February 16th and this is selling particularly fast, 22pc ahead of last year at time of going to press. The Christmas December 21st departures are offering particularly good value at the time of going to press.

YOUTH passes are

on offer in an increased number of resorts this winter. They average about 35pc less than the adult pass and are available at an increasing number of Austrian resorts, generally up to age 15. Children’s passes, generally at half price, apply to under-12s in Norway, under-11s in Andorra and under-5s in France, Italy and USA.

TOPFLIGHT

will use Aer Lingus charters again on their ski packages in 2013-4. The

flights are: ■ From Dublin to Salzburg, Milan, Toulouse and Lyon, through Aer Lingus scheduled to Boston for New Hampshire and SAS and Norwegian scheduled to Oslo, ■ From Belfast to France through Geneva, Andorra through Toulouse and Salzburg in Austria, ■ From Cork to Salzburg and tailor made to Geneva if required.

CRYSTAL have maintained their ski plus package offer in 72 destinations last year (up from 30 in 2009) offering bundled packages of transfer, lessons and other deals negotiated at lower rates with local suppliers. The packages must be booked by the end of November, and offer savings of up to €70 per skier. They range across the entire season, not just shoulder periods.

SKIWELT St Patrick’s week departures (March 15th) offers include free youth passes for under-15s with each adult ski pass.

CONTIKI have in-

troduced ski chalets in Austria to the 18-35 holiday offering. the slopes.

MÉRIBEL Improvements will be made to the blue Martre piste, one of the main access runs into Mottaret. The steepest section of Martre, below the former Plattières mid-station, will be re-shaped and the incline made more gentle. The beginner Ourson rope tow at the foot of Mottaret’s slopes is also being replaced by a more up-to-date ‘magic carpet’ lift at a cost of €70,000. The main Méribel access piste to the Chaudanne area, the Traversée bourbon, will be made easier. This narrow blue run will be made broader and gentler at the bottom, thanks to extra space

Hills are alive What;s new in ski this winter being created by the removal of pylons supporting the Saulire lift.

CRYSTAL ski de-

velopments for 2013/14 include free wifi in all chalets, free first-time ski or snowboard in eight resorts (book by Nov 15), tuition, equipment hire, lift pass for the week in Seefeld and St Johann/Tirol in Austria, Whistler in Canada, Sauze D’Oulx, Sestriere and Pila in Italy and Bled and Bohinj in Slovenia. New properties in Andorra, Austria, France, Italy include Finest Chalet Inge in St Anton, Austria and Chalet Montagnettes in Courchevel, France.

Irish chalet specialists are offering 10 centrally located chalets in Morzine, Méribel and Val d’Isère. Each chalet comes with a professional chef so that guests will enjoy breakfast, afternoon treats, and threecourse meals with a cheese board and digestif on six of the seven evenings. Highlife season runs from Nov 30th 2013 to Apr 20th 2014 from €840 for an adult and €686 for under 12. www.highlife.ie +353 1 677 1100

with consumers seeking good value and financial certainty. The report said 2012/13 finally turned the corner due to fantastic snow across European resorts, a ‘good calendar’ for Christmas and New Year departures, and an early Easter holiday in March. France, Austria, Andorra and Switzerland increased market share slightly at the expense of

a “big improvement” in accommodation offering this winter, according to Topflight.

CRYSTAL is the

FRANCE will see

BAD GASTEIN BULGARIA

is offering a free lift pass for over-60s staying six nights over the St Patrick’s Day period, departure of March 16th.

ANDORRA ca-

pacity is up again in winter 2013-14 by 8pc, after an increase of 8pc in bookings last season.

CRYSTAL are

offering a free nanny service with selected group bookings. Every group of 12 comes with a free place.

AUSTRIA ski bookings from Ireland were up 2pc last year.

HIGHLIFE, the

is

inaccessible to Irish skiers as Crystal and Topflight have dropped their shared charter for the second successive season. A scheduled programme from Balkan Tours did not depart last season.

CRYSTAL’s an-

nual snow report indicates the market from England increased 1pc but declined 26pc over the last six years. Tour operators and the independent travel sector experienced a 1pc rise with packages including lift passes, equipment and catering proving popular

TOPFLIGHT

are offering more accommodations in their 201314 brochure and also 30pc extra accommodations available through the website. only company offering direct flights to Innsbruck and Chambery this winter, offering the fastest transfers to Mayrhofen from Innsbruck and up to an hour advantage in shorter transfers to the French resorts from Chambery as opposed to Lyon. The Belfast-Innsbruck flight operated by Inghams last season will not be flying this winter. Italy and Bulgaria.

ALPBACH ‘s

new ski lift connects the Alpbach and Niederau ski areas has been constructed creating the Ski Jewel area. Linking the Inneralpbach and Auf-

fach areas has created a ski area of 145km.

MÉRIBEL has

two new gondola lifts and sees the re-shaping of two main access pistes. Mottaret, a new Plattières lift will be erected, replacing the existing 28-year-old Plattières 1 and 2 gondolas. This ten-seat gondola carries up to 40pc more passengers, transporting up to 2,800 people per hour. The existing Plattières 3 gondola will continue running as before. The total investment is €17.2m.

VAL THORENS

is to get a Funitel gondola for 2014, taking skiers from 2780m up to 3000m in approximately 2 minutes and offering two new, high altitude pistes, les Asters, a new red run and le Chocard, a new blue run. The resort is also to get its first 5 star apartments and a new 4 star concept hotel. The 3 Vallées 24-CLD and Les Deux Lacs lifts will open this winter..

COURCHEVEL

new sports centre is due for completion in 2014

MAYRHOFEN

The Altitude Festival, is moving to Mayrhofen from Meribel.


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Page 022-023 taiwan 16/09/2013 10:27 Page 1

OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 22

DESTINATION TAIWAN

T

aiwan had its best bib and hanfu on for my first ever visit to this beautiful island, a circuit of Taipei, Tamsui and Keelung. It even organised a typhoon for my visit. There is one big reason to travel half way round the world to visit Taiwan: the national treasury from the Imperial court, for civil war reasons, ended up in Taipei. There is another, so tall you cannot miss, the first tall building in the world to reach more than 500m. Taipei 101 has since been passed, in the manner of these things, by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, but once you have been tallest in the world, you have a visitor queue and an exit through the gift shop for ever, as the Empire State Building in New York and Willis Tower in Chicago know. We were on a folk and culinary tour, not the usual tourist trip which takes in Taroko Gorge or other sights from the usual tourist itineraries, the eight national parks. Instead we had a lot of lunches and dinners that go on forever. They eat snake semen here but it wasn’t on any of the menus. Our group was 23 strong, travel writers from 23 different countries. Some of the countries are places I have never met anybody from before, Nauru and Sao Tome and Principe. Or never will again. And everywhere as we travel, typhoon Trami dowses us with shoemelting downpours. The sea on the north coast of Taiwan is dark and there are forks of lightning in the black clouded horizon beyond. The water cascades on to the street and is swept along by the wind as soon as it lands. They dispense umbrellas at every stop, but we can barely move from bus to the restaurant where we are supposed to be eating through the solid

Eoghan Corry in Taiwan

Crowds gather on the shore for the ghost festival in Keelung, one of the world’s great festivals bars of falling rain. It is NOT a cause for any precipitation related dismay. Seeing Taiwan in a typhoon is as good as it gets in the world of travel. They can get a dozen of these blowing through each summer, so, in a way, it is seeing the place in its natural habitat without the discomfort of getting really wet.

I

was not prepared for how crowded it is. The island is two third the size of Ireland and home to 23m people, so you expect some urban congestion. I thought that the traffic did not move (I was wrong, it does). I thought that the infrastructure would be Japanese standard rather than what you expect from the north east Asian neighbours (it was). Their fast trains emulate those in Japan, their motorways those in Germany. A day trip to Taroko Gorge, once unthinkable, is on any Taipei itinerary. I thought it would be heavily regulated and ordered, a flip side of what you find in the other China run by Beijing. I hoped that some-

where in the countryside I might encounter the China of the childhood books, rickshaws and conical Asian hats, because Taiwanese have long told me that after 1949 the real China moved to Taiwan, brining the diversity, great culinary traditions and richest piece of their diversity with them. People come to shop, and each town has its day and night markets. Getting around is easy. The metro is close to our hotel and fares are cheap. Prices in the markets are about 20pc above Bangkok prices.

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he Taipei 101 building once the tallest in the world when they opened it in 2003, and the first to break 500 metres., still knows some tricks. The elevator takes just 37 seconds to ascend, the fastest in the world. Since then the Burj Khalifa in Dubai has taken its crown but Taipei 101 still claims other accolades, the world’s highest outdoor gallery and the world’s fastest lift/elevator. The slogan on the ground floor declares,

without any pretence of modesty, that this is the greatest engineering feat in world history. They have a point, it sounds like a daft idea to build a 508m beanpole in an earthquake zone. The storyboards tell us that there are seven pillars to protect the structure in the event of earthquake. The skyscraper is alone in that celebrates its wind damper, allowing visitors to walk around this great space age dumbbell ball and admire its roundness. What does one do with a tall building other than offer a view of the hazy landscape around? Not a lot. I have climbed seven of the world’s ten tallest buildings, including the New York twin towers before they were attacked, and have long concluded that they all do the same thing: all of them have a viewing gallery and all of them, at this stage, have so many grids to prevent jumpers that you cannot see the

views from the outdoor gallery.

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urs is a culinary trip and after a few days I fear I may get dumplinged to death. The beautiful restaurants we are visiting are feeding us amazing dumplings, one bite and hot soup explodes all over your mouth. You don’t have to travel far in Taiwan to find the regional styles of every province on the mainland, as the chefs came with the soldiers and others who fled Mao’s armies when the civil war ended. Meals come with endless courses of pork and prawns, and a bottle of beer that is opened and used to fill the glasses of the diners. Many of the menus are indecipherable as they are delicious. (The Canadian again): The meaning of the last character is nuggets and chicken without bones. The highlight, hard to

select when the lights never dimmed as far as the culinary experience went, was Shin Yeh restaurant in the capital (www.shinyeh.com.sg): ■ Roasted mullet fish roe with turnip and leek, ■ Slow cooked baby abalones, ■ deep fried shrimp rolled in tofu skin, double boiled pork with chicken and taru in casserole, ■ sautéed spicy king prawns, ■ braised scallops with loofah, ■ sautéed green crab on rice-noodles, ■ clear chicken soup with bamboo shoots, pan-fried turnip cake, ■ braised squid, bamboo shoots and mushrooms in thick soup, ■ pan fried fragrant turnip omelets. Omelets? Our hostess, Lee Xiu Ying, says it omelet not just for breakfast, it is to be celebrated. She is right.

■ Eoghan Corry flew with China International Airways and Aer Lingus through Frankfurt, connections are in the same terminal 2, with Aer Lingus in Hall E and CIA in hall D, a 2 hour connection outbound and 4-hour connection inbound. ■ For more information http://eng.taiwan.net.tw 0800-011765 ■ Taipei/Taiwan representative office in Dublin www.roc-taiwan.org/IE Tel 3531-678-5413


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DESTINATION TAIWAN TAIW a P and a K for 100 years.

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he accommodation in Taipei, the five star Palais de Chine hotel, is among the finest in which I have ever stayed. The lobby is on the sixth floor, disconcerting when a large number of people have to be transported by elevator to meet a bus outside, but giving an otherworldly effect to the whole experience. My room, 1008, is as big as the caravan I shared the previous week on holiday in France with my mother-in-law and two teenage and 20something daughters. My American travel writer friend James Ruggia has a phrase: “as complicated as an Asian hotel room.” This is luxury, but you need an engineering degree to work the switches. I cannot switch off the lights to sleep.

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especially wanted to find the festival of the dead, on the lunar eighth month, “ghost month” when the dead come back to visit at night. They still celebrate it with Confucian enthusiasm, young people springing straight out of mythology to take over one of the most developed countries on the planet and pay their homage to the wandering spirits who emerge when the gates of the underworld open and roam free, causing havoc among the liv-

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Viewing the ancient caligraphy at the National Palace museum in Taipei and (top right) the jade cabbage, the Mona Lisa of the museum. ing. Offerings are made to appease the dead and events such as the Cianggu pole climbing competitions are staged, where muscular youths hope to win the respect of the young maidens of the town as much as their ancestral spirits. I feel quite at home at this Samhain of the east with Chang-e, lonely as a Lir swan, watching the merriment from her lunar exile. The ghost festival at Keelung is the highlight of the month, and the rain has mercifully cleared to allow us sit by the sea shore and watch the spectacle of boats be set alight and pushed by young men to sail out into the waves. One or two are toppled and doused by the winds. Others are scattering big squares of yellow joss

paper, ghost money, into the waves. They are sent out each August to pay homage to spirits of all nations, there as a gesture for those who died at sea, Spaniards, Dutch, Japanese, French, all fighting over the prime water harbour in northern Taiwan. “if you successfully push the lantern into the deep water it will calm the tide” local teacher Lu Jan Lin tells me. Her friend, hearing I am from Ireland, greets me with “Dia dhuit.” I want to say “samhain fé shona is fé mhaise” back. Their August is our November. Mar an gcéinne.

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t the Quingan temple monks are chanting sutras. There are many temples t see, and this is the

Eoghan Corry at Taipei 101, praying in the glass temple and Tsou head hunters at the indigenous people’s museum

jangliest with prayerful noise, The temples come alive too for ghost month, little quartets of musicians bang drums and play pipes to appease the wandering spirits. There are prayers to be made, for good luck, for salvation, for enlightenment, for a blessing that would prevent me being dumplinged to death. One of the temples they bring us to is made of glass. Is the glass temple half empty or half full? The Canadian writer asks. There is always one.

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e stopped in to a neat edifice in Tamsui to see the legacy of the Opium war, the ports where British imperial civil servant were sent to live and tried to reconstruct their Atlantic lifestyles in Pacific ports. The war was one of those famous moral binds that still makes English uncomfortable when you bring it up, the equivalent of Colombia invading the USA today to get the locals to buy more cocaine. We saw the office of Herbert Giles was one of the British consuls who lived in what is now preserved as the former British consul residence. He has a lot to answer for, he was the one that had us pronouncing Beijing with

ack in the capital there are two must-see museums. One is world renowned, the other not so well known. The Chinese National Palace Museum is rightfully regarded as one of the world’s greatest collections. Our museum guide is Lin Yin Hsin tells the story: 655,888 pieces shipped to the island in December 1949, most of which have never been put on display, but there are 6,000 permanent items to astonish every passing tourist. They were collected by millennia of emperors and the fact so much survived intact is amazing, having been shipped to Keelung to escape the Japanese and to Taipei to escape Mao. There are amazing 7,000 year old bells and stunning 12th century calligraphy, So Guo's four poems written after the 12th century Chinese version of the Leaving Cert, Yang Wujiu’s steady handed script, the strokes flowing with evaluation form the age when the our oldest castles still had not been. But the piece everyone comes to see is an odd piece of flawed jade, the cabbage. Teems of school children jostle for a squint at the celebrity exhibit, the Mona Lisa Chinese museum heritage.

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he aboriginal museum in Taipei is not as well known and equally fascinating. The 14 indigenous tribes of Taiwan have fought to keep their identity and language alive, and here they have a celebration of their culture. History did not begin in 1949. Taiwan is a bus stop in the Asian ocean, to the south east of the continent, in the arc of East Asian islands by the western shore of the Pacific Ocean. To the north it faces

Japan and the Ryukyu archipelago, and close to the south are the islands of the Philippines, so it serves as a hub for everyone going t and from the islands of the east. And when the party started, the original people got pushed further and deeper into the forest. The best bit, however, is in a room in the basement with Chinese-only signage: pictures of Tsou head hunters from 1900. My guide Szu-Yu Huang explained how it works: you cut off the head of someone admirable, a strong person, and bring it back to your thatched hut. You feed it by sticking food in its mouth to prevent its spirit going back to its own village (and crucially, coming for revenge with his friends), Over time, the spirit will integrate with your ancestors and make your family homestead stronger. Sounds like a plan.

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he duty free in Taipei’s modern airport is overpriced. A bar at the bottom of the airport information screen tells passengers it is forbidden to breed pigeons or to release any flying objects in the vicinity of the airport. The wandering sprits would understand. . The memory of the head-hunters recedes into the distance. I long to eat a potato, to eat anything with a knife and fork.


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DESTINATION THAILAND

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t is not something I imagined I would ever do. I am used to travelling in style and style doesn’t come with bigger horns that the water buffalo called Sam. Sitting astride a water buffalo is not on many bucket lists but this is part of a farm visit to Dr Prasert’s Organic Agriculture Project. It comes straight from the menu of experiential tourism that everyone is promoting nowadays. The farm visit by a group of tour operators and myself is more of a hindrance than a help to the productivity of Thailand, but tourists love it and keep coming back for more. A Paddy abroad, as a 1970s English comedian might put it, my merciless taskmasters set me to planting rice in the paddy fields. I lasted all of, maybe, twelve minutes. My rice planting was disastrous. South East Asia would starve if they were relying on my rice.

Temple Vision

Eoghan Corry visits the deserted ancient capital of Thailand

The quiet haven of Si Satchanalai is the favourite heritage site of the Thai people

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here are 77 Thai provinces far removed from the toothpaste white beaches of the Ko Samui and Phi Phi and the other brochure page fillers. Sawankhalok district is one of the most ancient,

Sam the Buffalo and Travel Extra’s editor

powerhouse of a medieval kingdom that vanished from the landscape as quickly as the monsoon downpour. Back in Bangkok Juthaporn Rerngronasa Deputy Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand had told us about the change of image that Thailand tourism is seeking, they are sending out the message that they are a “a holiday destination for families. It is a lot of challenge for our government.” She outlined the country’s emphasis on green, golf, wedding and honeymoon and health and wellness to grow further its market share from Ireland. Green is good. It is astonishing how green the country is as you flight north from to Suvarnabhumi, airport to the picture postcard airport that serves the region. The ruins are an hour’s flight north of Bangkok and offer an intriguing glimpse into South East Asia’s grandeur before the Europeans came. The perspiration rolls off us we cycle. Humidity hangs heavy in the air. The pool in the

Sukhothei Heritage Hotel is tepid, like a warm bath, even early in the morning. The rooms are villa like, built around a succession of courtyard pools. The architecture borrows heavily from the local traditions as well as western hospitality convention. We swim in that enclosed pool a thunderstorm, lightning flashing like a laser show around us. That swim was an experience not easily forgotten.

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t was hot and sticky when we mount our bicycles to tour the Thai medieval capital of Sukhothei. Even more beautiful that Sukhothei is Si Satchanalai. It is quieter, calmer and goes on for miles. The ancient temples are surrounded by forest, redolent of more famous ruins in adjoining countries. It may be the most im-

pressive of the deserted cities I have seen, ahead of Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat or even Fatehpur Sikri, doomed by their popularity in the tourist charts. Sumptuous meets simplicity in the temples here, the type constructed by ard-nósach emperors everywhere, but so close to the forest so as not get carried away with delusions of grandeur. In a recent pool by one of the Bangkok newspapers, the people of Thailand were asked to select their own favourite heritage attraction. A similar poll in Ireland picked Newgrange. They picked Si Satchanalai. It says a lot. Our guide Kanarat Nettip says that she prefers it to Sukothei which is “like a woman with too much makeup.” Kanarat Nettip and Ekkorn Suwannetr tell us the story of the fall from glory that is Si Satchanalai.

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n early morning flight back to Bangkok to the Pathumwan princess hotel, right beside the MBK shopping mall. It has a magnificent salt water pool on the eighth floor, and a poolside Italian restaurant where we breakfast on kai jiew khun chai. Chic and stunning, the W Hotel is Bangkok’s latest opening. They have a 24-hour pool and a throbbing lobby bar with a DJ. When our genial host Wi drops us to Suvarnabhumi, airport to check in on flight EY401 to connect with EY045. The journey is 5 hours 37 minutes Bangkok to Abu Dhabi and 6 hours 19 minutes from Abu Dhabi to Dublin with a very pleasant two hour stopover in the business lounge. Somebody in the west of Ireland once said Thailand would be a great place if it was closer. It is getting closer every day.

■ Eoghan Corry travelled to Thailand with Etihad who fly Dublin to Abu Dhabi using a 412 seat (28-384) B777-300ER on its six morning flights EY42, and 262 seat (22-240) A330-200 on four evening flights EY48. connecting to Bangkok. ■ He travelled courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand who organise support and training for the Irish travel trade, http://ie.tourismthailand.org/home


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ASIA GUIDE

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ever has Ireland enjoyed so many one stop connections to so many Asian destinations, through Istanbul, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Over 200,000 seats each were filled by Emirates and Etihad out of Dublin last year with a big increase in 2013. Turkish increased Dublin to Istanbul from seven to ten flights a week. The airline has over 200 onwards destinations connecting through Ataturk airport. Etihad put on a 34pc capacity increase on Dublin-Abu Dhabi, this summer a 412 seat (28384) B777-300ER will serve on its six morning flights EY42, while the 262 seat (22-240) A330200 will remain on four evening flights EY48 Here is a brief guide to some of the riches on offer:

CAMBODIA

The great Khmer temple complex at Angkor is the country’s biggest tourist attraction with 2m visitors each year. Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in south-east Asia, passing bird-filled wetlands, rickety fishing boats and villagers waving excitedly from the shore. Phnom Penh sights include the Royal Palace, whose gilded pagodas are similar to those in Bangkok. The Tuol Sleng Museum and collection of bones at the Killing Fields recall the horrors endured under Pol Pot’s regime.

CHINA The Great Wall is a short trip from Beijing, other signatures include Xian where the terracotta army as located, the Yangtse river and the soaring skyscrapers of Guangzhou.

INDIA The Golden triangle of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Fatehpur Sikri is where the first taste tourists go. An easier introduction to India is Kerala, with its Arabic charm. Once past those

Beauty and the east Destinations to watch as the Asian century commences The ruins of Sukhothei: Bangkok is gateway for more than 63,000 Irish visitors annually you can spend a lifetime discovering the different palaces, landscapes and cultures. What may be the most beautiful landscapes on the entire planet can be found high in the Himalayas at Ladakh. Teeming Mumbai, the deserts of Rajastan, and the rich cultures of the Ganges and Indus rivers are worth exploring.

INDONESIA

Bali is the tourist hub but you can escape the crowds out on the tiny island of Nusa Lembongan. Ubud is the Bali’s cultural heart there are great art galleries and countryside to wander in. Lombok has a scaleable volcano, Mount Rinjani, and is growing in popularity. The most obvious resort is Senggigi, flanked by white-sand bays. Gili Trawangan is a hot spot for divers. On Java you can find the Buddhist and Hindu temples of Borobudur and Prambana.

JAPAN Urban and rural culture in equal measure, stunning landscapes, crowded cities and amazing food. Visi-

tors cngregate at Buddhist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area, Himejijo, Shirakami-Sanchi, Yakushima, Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities), Shirakawago and Gokayama, Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara, Shrines and Temples of Nikko, Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu, Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range, Shiretoko and Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine and its Cultural Landscape.

LAOS Star attractions in landlocked Laos are the Mekong islands of Si Phan Don, home to fishing villages, waterfalls and rare Irrawaddy dolphins. Boutique hotels can be found in the country’s capital, Vientiane, alongside colonial villas, pleasant boulevards and Laos’s most important golden stupa, the 150ft-tall Pha That Luang. Luang Prabang is one of the most beguiling cities in Asia, with Unesco World Heritage

status and faded French charm.

MALAYSIA

Beach-lovers can choose between islands off both the east and west coast, Pulau Langkawi, and Palau Tiomen. The Perhentian Islands are the least developed. Malaysian Borneo attracts wildlife fanatics to the lush states of Sabah and Sarawak. At Sabah you can view orangutans, dive at Pulau Sipadan and climb Mount Kinabalu (4,095m). Sarawak is famous for river trips to see indigenous tribes living in communal longhouses. Cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Malacca have a rich heritage and well-preserved colonial architecture.

PHILIPPINES

A new slogan: More Fun In The Philippines and increased air lift through Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Istanbul, this archipelago has a mixture of pastry beaches and heritage sites, the baroque Churches, Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, the historic Town of

Vigan and PuertoPrincesa Subterranean River National Park.

SINGAPORE

is clean and respectable in its modernity, with ageing colonial relics, vibrant nightlife at Clarke Quay and even urban rainforest, at Bukit Timah.

TAIWAN

Three key attractions in its armoury, the beautiful Taroko Gorge, the first tall building in the world to reach more than 500m, Taipei 101 and the ancient imperial treasury of China, now housed in the Palace Museum. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry was suitably impressed on a recent visit there.

THAILAND

Famous beaches can be found on two separated coastlines of what is easily the most popular Asian destination with the Irish. who travel in numbers (an anticipated 63,000 visitors in 2013) and base themselves in Bangkok and go overland to Pattaya or by short flight to Phuket, Koh Samui or Chiang Mai. Huge investment

has kept hotel standards high and opened new possibilities. You can spend a lifetime exploring all 77 provinces so don’t stop there, especially attractive are the highlands and rich cultures of the Mekong.

VIETNAM

Signature attraction, a contender for natural wonder of the world, is the soaring limestone peaks of Halong Bay. At Mui Ne you can find sand dunes, watersports and luxury hotels. The signature cities are historic Hue and Hoi An, where tailors cut silk to order in streets lined with Unesco-preserved houses. Tours generally begin and end in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, home to the moving War Remnants Museum and a jumping off point to try out the impossible narrow Cu Chi tunnels, and Hanoi where you can visit the simple cottage headquarters Ho Chi Minh and his embalmed tomb. Best hikes are in the misty hills of Sapa.


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AFLOAT

CELTIC LINK Ferries will be the only ferry company sailing between Ireland and France in January and most of February in 2014. Celtic Link Ferries will begin their January schedule on January 14th after taking a few weeks off which are required for ship maintenance.

CELEBRITY A new late-night, adultonly entertainment format will open on Celebrity's 3046-passenger Celebrity Reflection and 2886-passenger Celebrity Silhouette. "Sin City Comedy" is designed to be "funny and a little bit sexy," combining comedians with burlesque acts. It's produced by the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood "Sin City" group. The show will be in addition to existing music, jazz, vocal, party band, and stage shows. ROYAL CARIBBEAN com-

memorates a quarter-century of Alaska cruising next year when the cruise line places two ships in service there. 34 sailings will leave from Vancouver or Seattle on seven-day itineraries. Next year Royal Caribbean promises up to 11 dining options, a new entertainment array, kids and teen programs, and a new babies and tots nursery for youngsters from six months to three years of age. In ports of call, it will offer 5300-foot-long zip rides, dogsledding, White Pass and Yukon train rides, off-roading , canoeing, and more

IRISH FERRIES passenger numbers were up slightly to 678,400 in the six months to June, number of cars carried was down by 4.2pc to 142,500, parent company ICG reported.

SHORE ADVICE Cruise ships in Alaska have had to change their advice about "the best places to shop" following a court case that claimed the lectures mislead guests: one shopkeeper says he had in the past paid $25,000 plus 10pc of sales to be part of the programmes. Onboard Media, Royal Media Partners, and the PPI Group, agreed to a $200,000 settlement with the state.

IRISH FERRIES Haven Holidays are offering family weekend breaks from 299 for three nights at the Welsh holiday parks of Presthaven Sands and Quay West. VIKING Cruises increased its order for new Viking Longships from 12 to 14 for the 2014 season.

CRYSTAL has added more than a dozen

new itineraries to its 2013 single-cruiser program. Some 26 trips are now available for sole occupancy of double accommodations at a supplement of 10 percent through December. Among the destinations: the Med, the Baltic, South America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, the Black Sea, the North Cape, the British Isles, Eastern Canada, and transocean

VENICE The Cruise association expects a sustainable alternative for the future passage of cruise ships in Venice to be in place by the end of the year.

STENA Line is offering breakfast in bed on Stena's Belfast - Liverpool route.

Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara wil be marketed separately

Royal reorganises Irish office sees change as 3 brands to be separated

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oyal Caribbean is to strip out its three individual cruise lines, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises invest in the creation of three individual businesses to address what they call “efficiency challenges” operating the three brands as separate units. They say these “efficiency challenges” are common in any business that has experienced rapid global expansion. The three individual businesses will be in place by January 2014. In Ireland Royal Caribbean say the sales team dedicated to the country will increase to cover all three brands. Two people will be dedicated to Royal Caribbean and one will be dedicated to Celebrity. Lorraine Quinn of Royal Caribbean in “Ireland described the developments as “exciting.” Lorraine will be leaving Royal Caribbean in December for family reasons after 13 years, with some regret because “there is an exciting time ahead for the company.” Jennifer Callister will remain at

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Before trifurcation: Michael English, Lorraine Quinn and Jennifer Callister of Royal Caribbean Royal Caribbean when Jenny Rafter is returning from maternity leave on October 6th. Colin Rillie is sales manager for Royal in the north. “This is an important milestone in the history of the global business and it is the first time outside North America that any of the brands in the portfolio have enjoyed such commitment, focus and investment.” The popular Jo Rzymowska will head up Celebrity’s team in Britain from Addlestone in Surrey, Royal Caribbean say “there are two key areas of proposed change in Ire-

land and Britain, these would not be immediate and would take place over the next six months. Firstly, we will invest in the creation of three individual businesses for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises. This is in recognition of the growth achieved and will best position each cruise line for future development through the creation of brand-specific sales, revenue and marketing functions. Secondly, the 11 call centres worldwide are to be consolidated into three call centres, which will mean redundancies in that sector, but none in Ireland. The call centres will be subcontracted to by a multi-lingual Xerox team based overseas. A Royal Caribbean statement says “a Celebrity Cruises guest and trade services team, dedicated to the Ireland and Britain, will be set up. All of the proposed changes are being reviewed in order to best position the business for future growth, whilst maintaining a competitive edge and strong customer service for trade partners and guests”.

CARNIVAL REVIEWS SAFETY

$300mi plan to enhance emergency power capabilities, introduce new fire safety technology, and improve the level of operating redundancies across Carnival's fleet has begun. The company has also formed a Safety and Reliability Review Board com-

prised of outside experts to drive long-term improvement. A main result will be to reinforce shipboard operating systems to help prevent a loss of primary power. The plans — which affect 101 ships across Carnival's 10 brands — are a result of a series of emergencies that

plagued the Carnival fleet over the past several months. Early in the program, an additional emergency generator will be installed on each Carnival ship to provide for 100 percent of stateroom and public toilets, fresh water, and elevators in the event of a loss of

main power. Fire prevention, detection, and suppression systems will each receive advanced technology, and engine propulsion reliability will be advanced by a reconfiguration of enginerelated electrical components.


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AFLOAT

DUN LAOGHAIRE Harbour

Company launched a public consultation on the development of a floating swimming pool and ‘urban beach’ alongside East Pier of Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

CELEBRITY The 2170-passenger Celebrity Infinity will visit 29 destinations in 13 countries during the 2014 - 2015 Celebrity's World Tout" programme. The company has added a South America and Panama Canal itinerary. Most voyages will be 15 days in length. Fort Lauderdale and San Diego are the ports of embarkation.

CRYSTAL has completed some remodeling to add more connecting staterooms. The company says it notices an increase in multigenerational cruising and has refitted 18 outside staterooms to enable connections, when desired. Last year Crystal carried 20 percent more family groups than it did in 2011

Early morning on the Oscar Wilde

Oscar’s adventure Eoghan Corry in a room with a view on irish Ferries

he best view of Cherbourg is probably the one enjoyed by the captain of the Irish ferries Oscar Wilde, Stephen O’Flaherty, as he surveys the harbour on its early morning approach. Thanks to Irish ferries I have had the second best. Cabin 8300 has an unobstructed view as good as any that you get on the bridge. Wanna command your own ocean liner? This is as close as you will get if you are not Roman Abramovich or the Sultan of Brunei. It is a place to watch the light play on the waves, a couple of hours out of Rosslare when the fishing beds are full and Irish Ferries often serves up what the crew calls “dolphins on demand” for passengers. The premium cabins were refurbished this year to keep them hotel or modern cruise ship standard.

The story of the refits of the Oscar Wilde are almost as complex as a new ship build, little renewals each season getting ready for the next burst of car passengers bound for the campsite of Carnac or the Vendee. Facilities in the three luxury suites include en-suite, air conditioning, king size double bed, including breakfast for 2 in Berneval Restaurant, 32'' satellite and web connected TV, complimentary fruit basket and minibar. There are also 12 premium cabins, where the mood is hotel of cruise ship rather than traditional cabin. The four star four-bed cabins above the water line in deck 8 follow then the four star two-bed and corridors of three star cabins where the rest is as assuring before disembarkation.

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Travelling to France with Irish Ferries, customers sail on the Oscar Wilde cruise ferry which will once again operate three return sailings each week between Rosslare and the French ports of Cherbourg and Roscoff. Commenting, Irish Ferries Head of Passenger Sales, Dermot Merrigan said, “a €100 booking deposit is all that is required to secure the cabin of your choice and avail of our customer friendly sailing times throughout 2014”.

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prevented form sliding into the ignominy that her predecessor, the Normandy, experienced. The poor old girl had seen better days when she last plied the seas back in 2006. The journey is as noisy as you like, four restaurants, piano lounges, cabaret and the stream of children on their treasure hunt (ferries ALWAYS mean families). The stabilisers are on, which means that 70pc of the roll of the ship is smoothed. As the cabaret comes to a halt and the bars close, calm descends on the ship. Around 3am is the ideal time on Oscar. The ship is quiet and the frothy sea is spectacular under the night sky. By then she has turned at Land’s End and the glimmer of shore lights adds to the atmosphere.

SUMMER REFURB FOR SUITES

rish Ferries reservations system for services to France in 2014 is now open and the company is offering a 10pc early booking discount. The offer is valid on all motorist bookings made by October 31st 2013 and valid for travel between February 26th and December 20th 2014. Irish Ferries will also be continuing with their offer of a free trip to Britain for a car plus two passengers on their Ireland/UK services for motorists making a return booking to France during June, July and August in 2014.

Oscar is not new, but she has been

Onboard the Oscar Wilde, along with a choice of 2, 3, 4 and 5-star cabins, passengers can now enjoy the newly refurbished luxury Premium Suites situated on Deck 8 with unobstructed sea views and dedicated cabin steward. Other highlights include a selection of restaurants and lounges, two cinemas, a Piano Bar and Café. Onboard entertainment includes a children’s play area, gaming zone and facilities such as a hair and beauty saloon, WI-FI internet access and mall style shopping.

EMERALD The launch of Emerald Waterways is expected to challenge Viking River Cruises’ dominance of the four-star river-cruise sector. The line is offering 8-5-day itineraries from April 15 next in two new ships Emerald Star and Emerald Sky – each carry 182 guests in 20 staterooms (two staterooms are built for solo passengers) and 72 suites.

CELEBRITY has joined forces with Microsoft's Xbox to integrate the video game entertainment device into passengers' holiday cruises. It will establish Xbox-themed spaces across its fleet offering the interactive feature to families and children of all ages. There will be adult and children's venues for the game as well as themed parties and open time. NOSE BLEED An elderly woman had to evacuated from the Thomson Spirit cruise ship after suffering an uncontrollable nose bleed as ship was off Strangford Lough.

CUNARD has revised its on-board dress suggestions. Ties will now be optional instead of mandatory on informal nights. There will be two or three formal evenings each week, where ties and jackets will continue to be de rigueur. Those who wish to go sans tie on those nights will be invited to have dinner at alternate restaurants. ROYAL Caribbean will have eight ships will sail the Med next summer. A DreamWorks Experience featuring parades, themed activities, and events based on film characters will be a highlight aboard the 3634-passenger Liberty of the Seas. CUNARD An increased presence in the

Mediterranean, new land tours, and special events to mark the tenth anniversary of the 2620-passenger Queen Mary 2 will highlight Cunard Line's 2014 - 2015 cruise program. More than 70 departures are scheduled in the Med. There will be 17 transatlantic crossings. There will also be sailings from New York.

SEABOURN New "Penthouse Spa Suites" are being introduced on each of Seabourn's three ships close to the ships' spas and will be accessible via a spiral staircase.


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THE FLYING COLUMN

AIRPORT HOPPER has

Aviation with Gerry O’Hare

launched a second direct daily shuttle bus service from Maynooth, Leixlip, Lucan, St. Edmundsbury and Liffey Valley to and from Dublin Airport. They already operate a service from the Square in Tallaght.

DELTA has distributed 19,000 Windows phone handheld devices to flight attendants worldwide.

AER ARANN (Aer Lingus Regional) reported that 80,000 Irish passengers used London Southend Airport and passenger numbers were up 28pc on last year. TURKEY's competition board has

launched an investigation into Turkish Airlines after its rival Pegasus complained it had abused its dominant position in the market.

CANADA's WestJet Airlines has reached a preliminary agreement to purchase 65 737 MAX aircraft from Boeing, moving to expand its fleet with more fuel-efficient aircraft.

DATALEX reported revenues rose 13pc PERFECT FLIGHT A poll by

in the first six months of 2013 to $17.7m.

Japanese airline ANA revealed the dream flight; you live nine miles from their departure airport, board 32 minutes after check-in, take a window seat in the middle of the aircraft, drink champagne 27 minutes after departure, eat a chicken dinner 48 minutes after departure, watch the James Bond film Skyfall and sleep for 31 minutes, and George Clooney in the cabin crew (English prefer David Walliams).

ETIHAD said that business travellers who

are connected to a Business Connect account will be able to receive doubles miles for Coral Economy bookings and triple miles for Pearl Business and Diamond First bookings when they book and travel between August t5 and September 30, 2013.

US AIRWAYS new mobile app for iPhone and Android through App Store and Google Play allows customers check in for a flight, find flight status, organise trips, and store boarding passes. Users can login with their Dividend Miles number.

STOBART The new chief executive of

Aer Arann parent Stobart promised there would be “no more fireworks on the board” after the trucking and airport group named former Tate & Lyle boss Iain Ferguson as its new chairman.

JET2 announced their intention to launch transatlantic services in 2014 from Leeds Bradford and Newcastle in England and Glasgow in Scotland to Boston, Toronto and New York. RYANAIR launched a new consumer verification security system on the Ryanair.com website, using CardinalCommerce’s Centinel technology platform

GOLF BAGS London based con-

sumer watchdogs say that airline charges for golf bags and heavy luggage are now so high that it is often cheaper to send them by couri

Ryanair changed their mind about their annual returns between July and September

Ryanair rethinks

Markets react as O’Leary goes back to war on price

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tock markets reacted badly to the news that he was downsizing Ryanair’s 2013 profit forecast by €50m and taking 500,000 off his passenger number forecast for 2013. The announcement triggered a slide that took €1bn off the Ryanair share price. Ryanair are now painting a different scenario from the rosy one they depicted in a series of investor meetings last June. Now they are talking about seat sales, lower fares and cuts to winter services after disappointing

bookings in summer. Profit forecast is down from €600m to €570m due to what they call a perceptible dip in forward fares and yields into September, October and November. Ryanair blamed the heat wave in June for what they believed was a short-term slowdown. In September they blame a weaker sterling (Ryanair make a disproportionate amount of their revenue in Britain) and increased price competition (from Easyjet?) for what might be a slower winter than expected.

NO FOREIGN ACCESS TO ROC-PROC FLIGHTS

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ravel Extra’s Eoghan Corry was in Taipei this month. Meetings included the Director of the Ministry of Tourism International Services, Jason JanChun Cherng (pictured). Mr Cherng said that

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opening up the flights between mainland China and Taiwan, which have a peculiar super-domestic status and are not available to international visitors, was a priority , He said this would require bilateral agreement from Beijing. While

Dublin airport is exploring the possibility direct flights to Beijing, Mr Cheng said that flights to Amsterdam and London were high on Taiwan’s wish-list. The current route of choice to Taipei is with China International via Frankfurt

Michael O’Leary said: “We either hunker down and allow load factors to decline and say that we’ll take it on the yield, or we respond aggressively.” It looks like Michael O’Leary is defending his market share in England and Ireland, where yields and prices have been higher than the €42 average fare across the network. The news will force Aer Lingus to reduce prices on the dozens of routes on which they compete with Ryanair.

Jason Cherng and Eoghan Corry

CITYJET AF AGREEMENT ENDS

ityjet will terminate Air France franchise agreement from October and instead operate all of its flights currently operated under Air

France (AF, Paris CDG) flight numbers on a franchise basis under its own commercial responsibility using its WX code. Dublin-headquartered

CityJet has been up for sale since September last year and initially attracted approaches from around 20 potential buyers. Air France took full control of

CityJet in 2000. It is increasingly likely that Cityjet will be sold to Germany's Intro Aviation.


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RYANAIR became the first European airline to carry 9m passengers in one month. .

AER LINGUS reported that its long haul flown load factor was a spectacular 94.9pc in August.

DUBLIN Airport said it expects transatlantic traffic this year is set for a new record, with more than 1.8m passengers. The figure had fallen to 1.5m in 2010. Overall numbers at the airport are up 6pc. AIR LITUANICA have scheduled flights from Dublin to Vilnius and Palanga over Christmas and New Year.

BRITISH Airways launches non-stop flights from Heathrow to the Texan state capital, Austin, next March. A fare of €600 return is available for some dates. But BA is ending its link to Lusaka in Zambia from November, due to rising losses.

ETIHAD will maintain their Boeing 777300ER service on Dublin to Abu Dhabi through the winter.

Newcastle: a new winter route for Aer Lingus Regional

Winter cities

Lingus brings significant capacity increase to Boston

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er Lingus have finalised their winter schedule including a new weekly wintersun service from Shannon to Lanzarote October 26th to March 29th. The Shannon flight will provide an additional 8,000 seats over the winter season, commences on October 26th. Aer Lingus regional is to fly Dublin-Newcastle from October 24, 13 per week using an ATR 42/72, The new routes schedule was officially unveiled, with most media ac-

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cepting Dublin-Toulouse as a new route, despite the fact that the route operated as a charter last year and will be 80pc sold by Topflight this winter. The 60pc capacity increase to Boston is the most significant development in the announcement, and there are capacity increases on 11 other routes such as Lisbon, Malaga, Lyon, Paris, Geneva and Hamburg. Customers travelling between Dublin and Boston will benefit from an extra four weekly flights, bringing

TURKISH TO CARRY 46m PASSENGERS

urkish Airlines has opened their 104th country and 238th Destination, Kathmandu in Nepal. In the recent Skytrax awards Turkish Airlines was named the Best Airline in Europe for the third year and the airline recently won the Marketing Award at the Airline Strategy Awards

2013. Turkish Airlines introduced Comfort Class this summer offering seat pitch of 45.7 inches (116 cm) and the seat width is 19.5 inches (49 cm). Each row has a 2-32 seating configuration. Turkish carried 22.4m passengers in the first six months of the year, up 26pc year-on-year and

aims to increase passenger numbers to 46m this year from 39m last year. Turkish minister Binali Yildirim who said the proposed third airport in Istanbul, located in Silivri would have a capacity of 150m.

the total number of services per week to eleven. Flights from Shannon to Boston will operate daily services, year-round, from January. Aer Lingus says customers connecting between Europe and the U.S. this winter have more choice than before. U.S. cities of New York, Boston and Chicago can be easily reached from Rome, Malaga, Stockholm, Cardiff, Newcastle and Aberdeen, via Dublin Airport.

TURKISH added Kathmandu as its latest transfer destination through Istanbul, the 104th country and 238th destination. Since last weekend TK726 departs Istanbul Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 21:45, and TK727 departs KTM Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 08:45. Etihad will increase its Abu Dhabi-Kathmandu service from seven flights per week to a double daily schedule from Nov

GOODBODY stockbrokers aviation investor conference in the Gibson hotel speakers included Christophe Mueller; Leo Varadkar; Domhnal Slattery of Avalon; Willie Walsh and Michael O’Leary. ETIHAD Airways is introducing a dedicated nanny service to assist families during long-haul flights.

BAGGAGE THEFT Seven baggage handlers at JFK Airport in New York were arrested for allegedly stealing jewellery, watches and ipads from checked baggage.

MERGERS There was speculation that Brussels will adopt a system used in Britain and Germany where minority stakes can trigger an investigation by competition authorities. DELTA said they will buy ten A330-300s

and 30 A321s for delivery between 2015 and 2017. observers say underscores the carrier's desire for a deal as well as the competitiveness between the world's two biggest jetmakers. Delta has signed a firm order for 30 Airbus A321s, likely to be used mostly on domestic flights, and 10 A330 widebodies that are geared toward long-haul international routes. The new planes are to be delivered to Delta between 2015 and 2017. Delta's order is only the second that it has ever placed with Airbus, with the last coming more than two decades ago.

Murat Balandi: Country manager for Turkish Airlines operations in Ireland

ETIHAD launched its inaugural flight

from Abu Dhabi to Sana’a, Yemen’s political and commercial capital.


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UNITED are to reduce frequencies on Shannon-Newark from daily to 6 weekly between January 6th and March 7th. United Airlines is likely the Shannon–Chicago service could be here to stay, "but can’t confirm that right now.” PRE CHECK The USA Transportation Security Administration is expanding its Pre-check speedier screening program to 60 more airports, in addition to 40 where it was already available

CORRECT FAREAn Australian

travel planning website, Rome2rio, calculated that the “correct” return fare for Dublin-London should be €121.

SMELLY CARPET A Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt was diverted over concerns about a smelly carpet

ETIHAD say that midnight on September 30 is the cut-off for entries to this year’s Raise The Bar competition where GAA clubs can win a year’s sponsorship package.

TONY RYAN Michael O’Leary attended the launch of Richard Aldous new authorised biography of Tony Ryan, based on the GPA and Ryanair founder' private papers and on interviews with family, friends and former colleagues, in the Lir Theatre in the Trinity Technology Enterprise Centre.

SHANNON Airport Director Mary Considine (in centre with Shannon Airport Chair Rose Hynes on left and Airport CEO Neil Pakey on right) is to take up the role of Company Secretary of the new Shannon Group plc. Aviation strategist Patrick Edmond has been announced as the Group’s Strategy Director. Neil Pakey said Shannon airport is on course to break even this year and that the 2.5m passenger target set by Leo Varadkar was achievable. He also felt Shannon will to attract more transatlantic passengers next year. BOEING says it has completed the first 787-9, the second member of its Dreamliner family, six metres longer than the 787-8, with increased capacity and range, carrying 40 more passengers over an extra 300 nautical miles (555 km). It has signed 25 customers so far. EASYJET reported passenger numbers AIR FRANCE reported a load factor

were up 4pc in August.

of 87.9pc in August. Donal O'Neill of Goodbody's commented that August has been a good month for the legacy carriers.

AIR CHINA has decided to suspend its Gatwick to Beijing service over the winter VIRAL TWEET A tweet about

British Airways losing luggage on a flight from Chicago went viral after a passenger paid Twitter $1,000 to promote it in the UK and US.

LOURDES Seven plane-loads of people, 2,000 people departed Dublin for the Dublin Archdiocese pilgrimage to Lourdes.

CHICAGO

said self-service passport and customs check has cut queues by 16 mins.

Aviation with Gerry O’Hare

Pilots’ punches

Ryanair group claim to represent half airline’s pilots

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yanair’s unusual relationship with its pilots was a large part of the controversy caused by a Channel 4 Documentary in August which raised questions about Ryanair’s policies. This issue was flagged in September 2010, when a London based pilots union warned that the aviation industry was employing pilots who were to all intents and purposes ‘employed’ but whose ‘employer’ exploited a grey area in the law to categorise them as self-employed and deprive them of sick pay, holiday pay, pension entitlement and health and safety measures. It said Ryanair was following trends in the building, taxi and pub industry, Ryanair employs an estimated 2,300 pilots through hundreds of joint stock companies, something that has begun to exercise the minds of tax authorities in Germany. It does not employ its co-pilots, and only directly employs about half of its captains. Those not directly on the payroll are required to be self-employed, but exclusively contracted to Ryanair, and they get paid by block duty hours.

It was reported that Ryanair captain John Goss had just Three months to go to retirement when he was fired for making allegations against Ryanair on the Dispatches programme. In fact he was five years off compulsory retirement. Their employment contracts and human resources issues are dealt with by agencies like UK-based Brookfield, but Brookfield does not employ them either. They are self-employed. Ryanair's only direct interface with its pilots after selection is operational, via CrewDock, training, and its base captains. Pre-publicity for the programme was based on a survey of 1,000 pilots carried out by Goss's organisation

which allegedly showed that 89pc of them did not consider the airline to have an open and transparent safety culture, and that 67pc were not comfortable raising issues through an internal Ryanair reporting system. The Daily Mail, not normally known for its support of the trade union movement, reported that Ryanair pilots claim their contracts make them more likely to fly even when unwell.

BATTLE VETS CONFRONT O’LEARY

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acked Ryanair pilot John Goss has a formidable group of international industrial relations heavyweights (above) in his corner. His “interim committee”, (presumably until Ryanair pilots elect a committee of their own) of the fledgling Ryanair Pilots Group (slogan: ‘by pilots, for pilots’) which they say already claims the support of more than half of the 3,500 Ryanair pilots, consists of (from left): ■ Group chairman Evert van Zwol a KLM B777

pilot who headed the Dutch pilots union VNV Hollande ALPA and who first issued the strike threat in German newspaper Die Ziet, ■ John Goss. the key member in that he is the only Ryanair pilot on the committee (ex-pilot since Wednesday), the man who made international headlines by asking the High Court to imprison Michael O’Leary before he won a court case against Ryanair in 2005 preventing the airline taking action against him for union activities.

■ Ted Murphy, former Aer Lingus pilot, former chairman of IALPA and former president of IFALPA the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations, notably at the time of the September 11 2001 hijackings, and veteran of two failed attempts to organise pilots in Ryanair on behalf of Evan Cullen's IALPA. ■ Samuel Giezendanner formerly of SNPL France ALPA (French National Union of Airline Pilots), ■ Carl Kuwitzky President of the Southwest Air-

lines Pilots' Association in 2006-10, a key figure in the group in that O’Leary publicly acknowledges that Southwest was the inspiration for Ryanair. He said the good relations between Southwest Airlines and its employees should be an example for Ryanair to follow. RPG have already threatened to organise a strike in Ryanair just six weeks ago. The group enjoys the support of the international Federation of Airline Pilots Associations.


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RYANAIR says all of its Warsaw flights

will transfer from Warsaw Chopin back to Warsaw Modlin Airport from Monday 30 September 2013, following completion of runway repair works and a new commercial agreement with the airport. Earlier this summer the Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air said it would not be returning to Modlin, which opened to great fanfare last summer as Warsaw's second airport, and said it would continue to operate from the main Warsaw Chopin airport.

CITYJET will withdraw from the London City to Edinburgh route from the end of October. Cityjet's CEO Christine Ourmieres says that London City to Dundee and Edinburgh to Paris CDG will continue. The slots which are currently used for the London City to Edinburgh service will be utilised to increase flight frequency on other routes.

EASYJET is to add two new services from Belfast International for summer 2014 to Jersey and Bordeaux. The airline now has six aircraft based at Belfast with annual passenger numbers of more than three million.

Dubs’ dilemma: The end of the long and labyrinthine walk form Terminal 2 to the 300 gates in Terminal 1

DUB grows again Back on course for 20m passengers after 4 years

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ublin Airport will be back in growth in 2013 if passenger number continue their current trend. Overall numbers at the airport are up 6pc bringing it in line to pass the 20m figure it last hit in 2009. Passenger numbers retreated to 2005 levels in recent years, a time when the airport had one overcrowded terminal. Dublin Airport say it is benefitting from an increase in transfer business to the United States and Canada, as

passengers from Britain and continental Europe are choosing to travel to North America via Dublin Last spring DAA invested €1m in refurbishment of the 300-numbered boarding gates at Pier B, which it says is one of the oldest elements of Dublin Airport five decades of service to the travelling public. Options for further developments in the pipeline should extra capacity be needed include: ■ Pier F built with 13 gates for short

haul aircraft, that would solve all problems at Pier E. ■ Pier B to be redeveloped like Pier E with 30 gates with air bridges and links to T2 to be improved. ■ Pier A to be redeveloped like Pier D with 20 gates but no air bridges. ■ Pier G to be built at the other side of Pier D which will have around 15 gates, with no air bridges. ■ Pier D can be extended to accommodate 8 extra gates.

A DRAW Both Airbus and Boeing delivered 52 units each in July. Boeing maintains its overall lead so far in 2013.Following nine 787s delivered to customers in June, Boeing continued to work through its backlog with seven units deliverd. EMISSIONS The European Union is

set to agree a compromise on plans to charge airlines under its highly contentious Emissions Trading Scheme The EU is now willing to water down its proposals by only charging airlines for the miles they cover within EU airspace instead of the entire journey.

VANILLA The budget arm of ANA was

rebranded as Vanilla Air, with its president saying that vanilla is "loved by everyone in the world".

SOUTHEND Airport has been named England’s best airport by Which? magazine.

PARROT It was reported that a live parrot, a glass eye and a prosthetic leg were among the unusual items left behind by passengers at the end of a flight.

ZURICH BEST AIRPORT TO CONNECT LONDON

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compiler of a phone app for gate-to-gate connections at airports has calculated the easiest airports in the world of connection. Wayne Chen created Connect On Time, a free app for iPhones and iPads that provides customised maps of 42 global airports and calculates how much time travellers actually need to reach their respective flight gates upon their arrival. . He named the ten best

airports in the world: ■ 1 Zurich Airport 10m; ■ 2 Salt Lake City International (SLC) 11m; ■ 3 Tampa International (TPA) 12m; ■ 4 Orlando International (MCO) 15m; ■ 5 Charlotte Douglas International (CLT) 16m; ■ 6 Denver International (DEN) 18m; ■ 7 London Stansted (STN) 19m; ■ 8 Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL) 20m;

■ 9 Dubai International (DXB) 21m; ■ 10 Hong Kong International (HKG) 22m. Times were based upon the number of barriers and amount of time needed at each airport to get between its furthest gates once security and passport control lines have been cleared The ten worst were ■ ✑ Beijing Capital International (PEK) 1 hr 27m; ■ 2 London Heathrow (LHR) 1 hr 25m;

■ 3 Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) 1 hr 23m; ■ 4 Shanghai Pudong International (PVG) 1 hr 18m; ■ 5 Los Angeles International (LAX) 1 hr 10m; ■ 6 Sydney Kingsford Smith (SYD) 1 hr 9m; ■ 7 Tokyo Narita International (NRT) 1 hr 3m; ■ 8 Boston Logan International (BOS) 1 hr 2m; ■ 9 Frankfurt International (FRA) 1 hr 1m; ■ 10 Chicago O'Hare International (ORD) (59m.

’s Civil Aviation Authority reported that the number of bird strike incidents at their airports has doubled with three ''significant hits'' a week.

EDINBURGH airport unveiled a £25m terminal plan to help airport compete on the “international stage.”

SCOOT Airlines, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines has banned children under the age of 12 from sitting in the plane’s designated “quiet zone”.

NEPAL has urged airlines flying into Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport to use smaller aircraft after cracks were found on its runway.

BANGKOK Airways became the first foreign carrier in Nay Pyi Taw.


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DELTA is scheduled to offer a fully flat bed in its BusinessElite Cabin on all flights out of Ireland. The facility is currently available on most Dublin-JFK flights and will be available on Dublin-Atlanta from Nov 22. The US Department of Transportation gave Delta Air Lines initial approval for its $360m transatlantic tie-up with Virgin Atlantic. ETIHAD It was reported that Etihad re-

buffed an offer to buy Ryanair’s controversial €260m stake in Aer Lingus.

MERGER The countdown began to the big America/US Airways merger trial on November 25th. In the meantime, American Airlines and US Airways will continue to run independently as two separate carriers until the merger legally closes.

RYANAIR’s route from Dublin to Torino / Caselle International Airport (TRN) will resume from Dec 21st.

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES has ordered a further eight Boeing 787s, less than two months after one of its Dreamliners caught fire at Heathrow.

AER LINGUS signed a deal with Ul-

ster rugby, unveiling new Ulster Rugby decals on their planes flying from Belfast City to London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

ETIHAD has extended BusinessConnect,

its loyalty program for businesses, to 11 new markets including Bahrain, Belarus, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Oman, the Philippines, Qatar and Thailand.

QANTAS launched a new membership card allowing users to store foreign currency, access cash worldwide via ATM withdrawals, and earning frequent flyer points on spending in Australia and overseas. Qantas reported that underlying profit doubled as international losses shrunk. Qantas and Qantas Link previewed the new interiors on their Airbus A330 fleet and select Boeing 717 aircraft.

DUBLIN AIRPORT reached its 40,000th follower on Twitter. Dublin is now the sixth biggest airport on Twitter with 40,000 followers more than Paris CDG or Frankfurt. DAA launched the first language scheme for the company which will see it provide an improved level of information and services in Irish for both customers and staff.

EMIRATES has launched of non-stop passenger services to Taipei, its 16th destination in the Far East. Emirates plans to more than double its network of US destinations in the next three to five years to 15 US cities. ETIHAD were speculated as a probably solution to Alitalia’s €400m cash crisis, although Reuters reported Etihad are not keen for another European investment.

RYANAIR is to launch an employee

share option scheme aimed at rewarding and incentivising senior staff and directors.

GATE GOURMET Ireland profit was €1m, revenue was up 6pc to €10.9m.er.

Aviation with Gerry O’Hare

The 757-200, Premium economy makes sense of airlines like United operating single aisle craft to Ireland

The inbetweenies

Eoghan Corry reviews premium economy on United

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nited’s single aisle service to Washington has been one of the success stories of Irish aviation. The route was profitable within a month of opening and has enjoyed 90pc load factor through the slowest months. My flight is on a spruce 757-200. When Continental and United ahem, united, down the single aisle so to speak, one had premium economy and the other did not. It might have been a point of major disagreement, but they decided to retain premium economy, the in-between class. This is exactly where I am sitting. The width is tight, the legroom, at 38 inches a bit beyond Ryanair but way better than the rows behind me. The jury is still out on premium economy. Airlines don’t really like having fewer seats to sell, no matter what their revenue department tells them about people being wiling to pay for extra legroom. SAS announced in the spring they are going the other direction, phasing out premium economy and returning to a two class structure from June this year. Passengers in SAS Go (economy) will still get free bag check-in, coffee or tea. Earlier this year, Lufthansa announced it is to launch premium economy in 2014, with seats of around 19-20 inches wide, and 38-39 inches of pitch. This countered the increased gulf between the back of the plane and business since Lufthansa upgraded its business class from angled lie flat seats to fully flat beds earlier this year. The airline previously resisted the “in-between” category favoured by BA, United and Virgin, fearing (as do Aer Lingus, Emirates and Etihad) that it would dilute business class bookings. Many other airlines including Qantas, Air New Zealand, British Air-

ways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic say premium economy to be an appealing upgrade from economy as well as a useful product for attracting cash-constrained business travellers.

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ow the downside. United Economy Plus offers five extra inches (12.7 cm) of legroom and that’s about it. Food and drink options are the same. Economy Plus seating is offered on all Boeing 747-400, Boeing 787-8, Boeing 767-300, Boeing 757-200 and Boeing 777-200 aircraft and is being installed on Boeing 767-400 aircraft. When the multi-year conversion process is complete, the company plans to offer more than 40,000 Economy Plus seats on more than 700 mainline aircraft. It says this the largest amount of extra legroom economy seating available to customers of any airline in the world. America’s airlines, all of them, are operating on considerably older fleets than their Asian rivals, so you can see the attraction for them is to invest in premium economy, an inbetweeny class, because of the problems posed by trying to bring the business class up to the standards Etihad, Emirates or Turkish.

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e sampled the business class on another recent trans-Atlantic flights with

United. First the dilemma – with the same airline paying the same price it can be a bit of a lottery what type of seat you get. United’s plushest Business First seat reclines 180 degrees into a 6foot, 4-inch/1.93-m lie-flat bed. This is the one that is available on Boeing 757-200 (the craft in used on Dublin and Shannon routes), the 747400, and some 767-300ER aircraft. These seats are currently being installed on some Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

The Business class seat reclines 180 degrees into a 6-foot, 6inch/1.98-m lie-flat bed on other Boeing 777-200s and 787-8s. These seats are currently being installed on Boeing 767-400ER aircraft. On other Boeing 767-300ERs, the Business seat reclines 180 degrees into a 6-foot, 3-inch/1.82-m lie-flat bed.

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he 15.4-inch/39-cm touchscreen monitor is not big by the standards introduced by Emirates and the middle eastern carriers. The amenities include laptop power (the most important one of all in the opinion of Travel Extra’s editor), USB ports, amenity kits and a multi-course meal with complimentary wines. United recently introduced new Business class amenities including an additional main course meal option brining the total of four, new wine selections by Doug Frost (some unusual New Zealand amid the Californian tour but, most importantly, a good stock of 2010 Matiz Ribera del Duero Joven to keep me lubricated), new ice cream sundae dessert options with a choice of six toppings; noise-reduction headsets, amenity kits featuring Philosophy-brand skin-care products; and duvet-style blankets, higher-quality pillows and hot towels.

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he Washington route did not work for Aer Lingus in the early noughties because they had an extra 100 seats to sell on their A330. On the tighter little 787 the aircraft is full and someone in Chicago is obviously happy with the way things are going. Premium economy reduces the number of seats a little but if they are being sold (and they are) nobody is going to complain.


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DESTINATION IRELAND GATHERING The Idea of repeating the Gathering will be discussed in 2014. Hotels Federation president Michael Vaughan (right) wrote “we have witnessed small communities and local groups embrace a new dynamic of Tourism of the People ATTRACTIONS Many Irish tourist

attractions reported visitor numbers were up 19pc, with passenger numbers at some cruise ports up by 50pc. These include Dublin Zoo (+18.2pc), the Guinness Storehouse (+6.5pc), the Cliffs of Moher (pictured below, +10pc), Fota Wildlife Park (+15pc), the Rock of Cashel (+5pc), and Kilmainham Gaol (+3pc). Limerick’s King John’s Castle was not on the list but may have enjoyed the most spectacular increase of all. Cork was top of the cruise earnings list with more than 40m in spend (calculated rather crudely at 70 a passenger) as 135,000 visitors on 61 ships visited, up 50pc from 88,000 passengers in 2012.

A thatched bus in Dubin city: the latest project by storytelling ireland.

Semi de-thatched

Síofra Corry samples a unique folklore tour of Dublin

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ot many people can say they spent an evening roaming around in a double decker bus decked out as a thatched roof cottage. I consider myself one of the privileged few. While this may make you think I have a rather strange idea of enjoyable afternoon activities, I assure you it was for a purpose. Folklore and fairytales on Dublin’s Folklore bus was that purpose. Running nightly at 7:15, the tour is great for getting a bit of Irish culture into you. The inside of our travelling

cottage is decked out like a pub, including it’s very own bar. The interior was homey and atmospheric,and the singers entertaining,as they told us stories of old Myths and sang us songs. Mermen and fisherman tales by the sea, Fairies in the forest.

The Dublin Folklore bus tour gives a great foundation in Irish, and somehow manages to make Dublin seem quaint and magical, qualities the city normally lacks. The actors do a brilliant job, and the tour is just long enough to keep you amused.

■ The thatched bus, the first in the world commenced tours of Dublin city this summer. The Folklore and Fairytale Tour of Dublin is run by Extreme Ireland and Hidden Dublin hose acclaimed Gravedigger tour was recently voted one of the most unique experiences in the world by Vayable.com ■ Address: Office 37, Guinness Enterprise Centre | Taylors Lane, Dublin Dublin 8, Ireland www.traditionalirishstorytelling.com

CSO figures for May to July showed record

20.5pc growth from North America putting Ireland on course to beat the record of 1.028,000 American visitors in 2007. Long haul was up 11.9pc, mainland Europe up 5pc and Britain up 3.3pc. Trips by Irish residents abroad were up 3.2pc to 1,999,200..

CORK city's scare house walk-through attraction the Nightmare Realm, reopens its doors on Albert Quay, from October 4th.

FAILTE Ireland held a series of sales

drives organised by Fáilte Ireland in the coming weeks to give 300 Irish tourism operators access to overseas tour operators.

CORK Convention Bureau hosted members of the Society of Incentive Travel Executives during a two day visit to showcase the region’s business tourism offering.

GREENWAY The proposed Collooney to Claremorris Greenway hit an ownership snag over section of the disused Galway-Sligo railway line.

LITTER The annual survey by Irish Business Against Litter reported that Dublin and Cork city are "clean to European norms" and that Cavan is Ireland’s cleanest town.

WATER TAXI A new water taxi launched from Ballyvaughan to Galway.

HERITAGE Research conducted by specialist heritage insurer Ecclesiastical Ireland found Newgrange (38pc) is regarded as the site of greatest historical importance to Ireland followed by the GPO (12pc). Newgrange was the nation’s favourite heritage site with 15pc of the vote, followed by Glendalough (9pc), Cliffs of Moher (8pc), the Rock of Cashel (5pc) and the Burren (5pc). Castles were our preferred heritage sites for visiting (32pc); followed by country manors and estate houses (17pc); museums (12pc); round towers and monastic sites (10pc) and cathedrals and churches (9pc).

This is the first season for the thatched bus.

IRISH pub owners and managers from around the world will gather in the Burlington on September 30th for a three-day event.


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Inside the Travel Business

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TRAVEL AWARDS There are 310 bookings for the Irish Travel Industry Awards to be held on Thursday January 23rd. Two sponsorship categories are still available at time of going to press, cruise and services to the trade. According to Pat Dawson CEO of the ITAA “we are looking at different aspects to change to give awards to more digitally aware members of the industry.”

BREAKAWAY BEDS Neenan travel say agents can log on to their trade only booking engine breakawaybeds.ie using the same log in credentials that they use for their Disney booking engine. The bedbank has access to 250,000 hotels worldwide and takes feeds from 18 different suppliers, giving agents a complete range of product. According to Alan Neenan, “most rates can be cancelled free of charge by the agent within time limits, allowing agents to hold options for clients. We also offer low cost instant purchase rates. Agency support team is available on (01) 607 9999 or email admin@breakaway.ie ABBEY TRAVEL announced a

travel agent promotion, for every air Inclusive package with Air France that you book to Disneyland Paris, earn 5 Penneys voucher per passenger booked.

CAR The Commission for Aviation Regu-

lation has reached agreement with the London based Civil Aviation Authority and the trustees of the Air Travel Trust to prevent holiday companies having to pay twice for financial protection from two jurisdictions, in advance of a proposed change in regulations on October 1st which would have led to double-bonding. About half a million northerners use Dublin airport as a point of departure each year.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN have launched a Facebook competition where families in 150 words, why they believe they should become the Royal Caribbean International ‘Royal Family’ along with a picture of their family. The winning family become Royal Caribbean International ambassadors for 2014. The prize includes a 7-night holiday in the Caribbean on board Oasis of the Seas in February 2014, an invitation to the launch of the newest ship Quantum of the Seas in the autumn of 2014 and a family day on board Independence of the Seas in summer 2014.

DIT’s School of Hospitality Management and Tourism have launched a new M.Sc. degree in Event Management and a modular degree in Tourism Management, flexibly arranged to facilitate those working in travel and tourism, with intakes in September and January 2014. Two other MSc courses, Hospitality Management and Tourism Management, have been revalidated and can be taken in full or flexible modular format. THE ITAA and Aer Lingus launched

their second joint ITAA/Aer Lingus promotion introducing their new service from Shannon to Lanzarote to offer ITAA members an opportunity to promote Aer Lingus new service from Shannon to Lanzarote.

ITAA President Clare Dunne speaking at a function during the Travel Agents conference of 2012

Bricks and clicks 102 delegates have signed up for ITAA conference

S

o far 102 suppliers and travel agents have signed up for the Irish Travel Agents Association conference in Granada between October 10th and 13th. Highlight of the conference will what the ITAA call “an important seminar on NDC.” According to Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA, “we have invited all the GDS’s as well as senior personnel form IATA and British Airways.” They are also awaiting confirmation of a lead speaker from a major airline. According to Dawson “we are investigating the VAT situation because there are a lot of grey areas. A VAT expert will roll out the final solution in Granada.” It is expected that about 130 will attend including the Andalucian and Spanish tourism hosts. “Last year and

the year before there were 10 or 15 who showed up at the last minute,” Dawson says. “We know there are people who booked their flight who haven’t told us. We expect 115 without our Spanish guests. The theme of the conference is bricks and clicks. Accordant to Dawson “there will be presentations on bricks on how a shop will look, internally and externally in a professional manner, and also presentations on social media, how website.” “We are not talking spending big money, we are talking about doing small things inside the shop.” “We would like more members to support it. The main reason we go away for our conference is for product knowledge. Our hosts are spending a lot of money to bring us out there and it is right and proper to seek knowledge.”

Golfers will travel Wednesday on scheduled service and the main party will be travelling Friday on the light leg of a charter. Falcon Holidays are going to put on special menus for the flight going on Thursday. The main body of delegates will return on Sunday on Aer Lingus. Participants on the fam trip will fly back on Aer Lingus on the Tuesday. “The plan is to create as many opportunities for agency employees to join the managers and owners at the conference, something that was a feature of the ITAA conferences twenty years ago.” The Irish Travel Agents Association is targeting 150 members by 2015 after signing up its 100th member earlier this year, One Stop Touring Shop. The current members represent 162 locations.

ECTAA SUMMIT COMES TO DUBLIN

D

ublin is to host a bi-annial meeting of the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Associations on October 28-29 . The headline sponsor will be Aer Lingus who sponsor the main function of the conference. Other sponsors will be DAA,

Spanish Tourist Board Hertz and Shannon airport. Leo Varadkar will be the guest speaker in the Cliff House hotel on the Thursday. The conference will be held in Thomas Prior House in Bewley’s Hotel in Conference on Friday October 29th, in the same room used for the Travel

Extra travel writer of the year awards. ECTAA was founded in 1961 and grew with the successive enlargements of the EU. Today ECTAA counts travel agents' and tour operators' associations of 25 EU Member States, of three EU candidate countries, as well as

Switzerland and Norway and there will be 55 delegates at the event. “We intend to show off Dublin to the delegates,” Irish Travel Agents Association CEO Pat Dawson says with trips to tourist facilities and a pint of Guinness in a hostelry in Baggot Street.


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Inside the Travel Business

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GLOBAL VILLAGE

Sinead Reilly: Travelport say they are prepared to work with NDC but not anytime soon

Capability crux

Dublin will host latest round of debate about NDC

T

he third edition of the World Passenger Symposium takes place in Dublin Convention Centre Oct 29-31. The conference will focus on the controversial New Distribution Capability as well as progress on "new programmes which will impact the passenger airport experience." NDC claims to provide customers with more information and choice, enabling agents to sell a wider range of products and opening up a new realm of services more closely tailored to customers’ needs Many in the travel agency community are concerned about IATA’s Resolution 787, the foundation document for the NDC project. Over 400 comments and motions for or against Resolution 787 have been filed with the

E

US Department of Transportation GDS's too have their sights on the NDC for some time now, claiming it "goes beyond formulating common standards" and "seeks to change the distribution system for the industry.” Travelport said it will work with airlines that want to distribute products via IATA’s New Distribution Capability schema – but it won’t partake in pilot programs for NDC anytime soon because its production workload is too heavy In a position paper distributed to media at CAPA’s Airlines in Transition conference in the Ritz Carlton in Powerscourt last spring, Travelport posed three questions: ■ If airlines exercise total control over governance, can the IATA NDC truly represent and protect the inter-

ests of all stakeholders in the travel value chain, including travel agents and travelers? ■ Can repeating a failed history serve as a path toward transparency? If the IATA NDC is committed to transparency, why has it selected the Open AXIS standard, which previously failed as a standard for XML distribution, in part because it rejected a governance process that incorporated all parties within the supply chain? ■ How are consumer rights to privacy and transparency affected by the NDC model? All in all we can expect some Hallowe'en fireworks on the north wall at this one.

ETIHAD BAR CLOSES SEPT 30

tihad Airways have announced that the closing date for Raise The Bar 2013-14 is September 20th. The competition offers GAA clubs who play a leadership role both on the pitch and in their community the chance to win their major prizes. The prize consists of a year’s sponsorship package with the Abu Dhabibased airline, a 10,000 cash sponsorship fund, new branded playing and training kit, mentoring, coaching and social visits from hurling celebrities, and regular fundraising prizes such as Etihad Airways flights and Hurling All Ireland Final tickets. The winning club will be decided by a public vote and the votes of the judging panel, Tipperary’s Nicky English,

CHIC OUTLETS Four of the nine Chic Outlet Shopping Villages by Value Retail across Europe have launched new Shopping Packages: Fidenza Village near Milan, Ingolstadt Village near Munich, Wertheim Village near Frankfurt and Maasmechelen Village near Brussels can be booked by the travel trade at net rates. The tourism industry is being offered, on average, 10pc commission on the net price on Chic Outlet Shopping products and packages, including the Shopping Express luxury coach service through the Chic Outlet Shopping online booking platform to enable the travel trade and MICE market to create and purchase bespoke travel itineraries featuring local partners as well as Chic Outlet products. AMERICAN AIRLINES inter-

national itineraries are now able to be processed via Travelport Rapid Reprice and ARNE for subscribers to Galileo and Worldspan. The facility provides travel agents with an automated process to reprice air tickets when a traveler wishes to make a change to their flight arrangements.

EXPEDIA TAAP launched a new web-

site for Irish Travel Agents, with a redesigned single login feature and seamless navigation thru the TAAP booking and reporting features now integrated into the Expedia.ie page. It is the first of a series of agent website launches internationally. “Travel Agents will love the new Expedia TAAP platform,” says Mirco De Pellegrin (right) who heads up the Expedia TAAP in Europe. ”The new platform has been designed to deliver consistent benefits to our Affiliates through easy, simple access to the Expedia booking engine and simpler reporting functionality.””

SKILLNET Travel Professionals Skillnet is recruiting 12 Job Seekers who are ready and eager to develop their careers in the travel industry, through the Travel Professionals Essential Skills Programme 2013. The course commences on Monday 9th September and runs over 20 days of intensive training followed by 20 days work placement with an ITAA member agency. FUN DAY The committee running the

Travel Trade Fun Day say they may exceed last year’s achievement of raising 35,000 for charity after last month’s event in Santry.

COOK OFF Mary Conway of Creation Travel in Limerick was selected as one of three finalists at the cook off in Stockholm for the Celebrity Cruises’ Chef’s Challenge 2013. HERTZ Regina Curran from Tully’s Travel was the latest winner of the 250 One4all voucher from Hertz.

Paul Callanan, Clarinbridge, Galway, Ollie Canning, Portumna, Galway, and Fintan Clandillon, Lucan Sarsfields, all previoius winners of the Etihad raise the bar competition Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh and Des lara in Clare (2010-11), Portumna in Cahill. Previous winners of Etihad Galway (2009-10), and Lucan SarsAirways' competition (formerly Best fields (2008-09). Club Under the Sun) include Clarinbridge in Galway (2011-12), Clon-

ISTS One Stop Touring Shop Facebook

Friday continues: agents who visit their 1STS Facebook page can post why their office should win the beer, wine and takeaway pizza.

CAR The Commission for Aviation Regu-

lation has issued Travel agency license number 0726 to Adventure Travel Ltd, 113 Charlesland Wood, Greystones, Co Wicklow.


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WINDOW SEAT

Busman’s holiday: Catherine Reilly

Catherine Reilly of the Easter Island

Every month we ask a leading travel professional to write about their personal holiday experience. This month: Catherine Reilly, Ireland manager of Brendan Vacations Ireland

R

eading about South America as a child I think I was first attracted by the wonderful place names, Paraguay, Uruguay, Patagonia, and Lake Titicaca. As a traveller I am inspired by its ancient civilization and culture, that's what draws me back again and again. In Ireland all around us we witness our ancient civilization. At Newgrange for example we have a structure built thousands of years ago that remains today. Similarly at Machu Picchu the ancient civilization of the Incas is powerfully presented and through the statues on Easter Island we learn about the ancient Polynesians. We visit, stand in awe and remind ourselves they didn't have metal yet! Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world with

a unique history and archaeological wealth greatly disproportionate to its size. I wanted to visit the island to unlock some of the mysteries associated with the island, sort out the facts and fiction. The population on Easter Island is approximately 5,500. Rapa Nui is the name of the country and the local language and ‘Rapanui’ refers to the people. The island is so small, about 26 miles long. The biggest attraction is, of course, the Moai, there are so many of them and they are all over this little island and they’re so big. They are not protected in any way, so the island relies on the visitor to treat these treasures with respect. What’s fascinating is not just the monumental stonework and the amount of effort it took to build the Moai; there is the mystery of why they toppled them all over. The energy on the island is amazing. It’s like when I walk around some places

here, I feel like I’m walking in the footsteps of my ancestors. There is a presence on Easter Island and when you visit Rano Raraku, the quarry where there’s something like 400 of these statues still there in various stages of carving, some are half-finished and some are just heads, it’s like one day, the people who made them just all up and left. I think my favourite place on the island was the Rano Kau, an amphitheatre of a crater. I thought it was just wonderful because you could see just how remote the place is, you’re just surrounded by the big, blue ocean. The island is Ireland green, and the ocean around it is all different kinds of blue and turquoise, and every time you look at it you can see a different colour. One of the traditions on the Island is a triathlon with the difference being that it takes place during the Tapati festival in February. It’s only open to Rapanui men; I met a young man who participates each year so it was interesting to hear about it from his perspective. It’s a race that requires extreme stamina. The contestants paddle across the lake 650m in canoes made out of reeds. They then pick up enormous heads of bananas and run one and a half times the circumference of the

FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK

A

Travel advisory is a blunt instrument. It is a new one. And it has a depressing pattern about it. Our TV screens fill with some news from a distant developing country. Then western governments rush to fill their websites with advice to their citizens not to travel to anywhere that there tends to be trouble, or the distant prospect of trouble. Competitive safety, as you were. Once one says” don’t go,” the oth-

ers follow, as if not to be left out. Luckily travel advisories were not in vogue during the years of the troubles in Northern Ireland, otherwise the governments of the world, in their distant offices would be telling their citizens not to travel to Ireland. Travel insurance terms would kick in, and our tourist industry would be wiped out. Many of the countries worst affected get few tourists. Thailand and Bali have wrestled with the

problem in recent years, victims of over zealous advisories on the part of some governments, even when there is no real danger to tourists. The odd thing is that travel advisories don’t come with the same speed and force when there are attacks on buildings in New York, or bombs in London and Madrid. How odd then that Irish ambassador in Egypt Isolde Moylan says holidaymakers should not go to the Red Sea resorts and British ambassador James Watt says they should.

lake. They then swim and surf across the lake atop a reed surfboard. The men are very scantily clad for this competition. I travelled there with LAN, a South American Airline from Santiago. The flight was just under six hours and there’s daily service. It’s quite remote, the island is in the Pacific Ocean, half way from the coast of Chile and Tahiti, three full days are a must. The Tapati Festival happens in February and that's peak time to visit. While I was there I was very conscious that this was a very special place that so few others have ever set foot relatively speaking of course. It used to be difficult to get there but flights have increased and it’s becoming more popular each year when you consider that only 4,000 visited the island in 1989 and in 2012 that number increased to 85,000. That’s still a small number in global tourism terms but when you think of the number of inhabitants on the island the challenges ahead become evident. If tourism continues to grow, the islanders are going to have to introduce measures to protect the island in some way not least because it’s such a remarkable heritage site.

IN YOUR NEXT TRAVEL EXTRA: Available to Travel Agents or online October 21 2013

CRUISE Dubai or Caribbean all the winter options DOMINICAN REP GOES UPSCALE


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Out and about with the Travel Trade

OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 37

MEETING PLACE

the gh Oxley who hosted Ciara Foley and Cloda erick, Visit USA event in Lim

Michael Doorley of Sh andon Travel, Tom Ra ndles of Barter Travel, Joe Tully of Tully Travel, and Declan O'Connell of Lee Travel at the Eti had reception for the 2013 All-Ireland hurling fina l

ers, Isabel Harrison of Mary King of Travelsav drea Sims of Visit CaliShannon Airport and An event in Limerick fornia at the Visit USA

Carol Anne O’Neill of Falcon and Des Abbo tt of Des Abbott travel at the Falcon 25th celebration s at the Royal Hospital Kil mainham,

auna Mullery of He Paul Manning and Sh Limerick the Visit USA event in

rtz at

Brendan Barry of Discov er Travel/East Cork Travel and Tom Randles of Barter Travel at the Etihad reception for the All-Ireland hurling fina l,

Sarah Slattery of Skytours, Ian McArthur of Fal- Alan Sparling of SAS, Rory McDyer of Rory con and Ita Hendrick of Travelworld at the Falcon McDyer travel and Rannveig Snorrad ott ir from Destination Manageme 25th celebrations nt Company Tumlare who specialises in Northern Lights trips this winter

Catherine Cinnamond and Antoinette Young of Falcon at the Falcon 25th celebrations at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham

, Spanish Tourist Board Gonzalo Ceballos of the on ws Da t Pa d an vel tt tra Des Abbott of Des Abbo s Falcon 25th celebration the at A ITA the of O CE

Noel Dempsey of Dempsey Travel, Martin Skelly of Navan Travel and Massimo Larini of United Mary Conway of Creatio n Travel and Tony Bra Airlines at the United Airlines north v south event of Limerick Tra zil vel at the Visit USA eve nt Limerick

Irene Smith and Trisha Wynne of Falcon, Cynthia ette Travelfinders and Antoin Raymond of Skytours and Dave Smith of Falcon Peter O’Hanlon of ions rat eb Falcon 25th cel Young of Falcon at the at the Falcon 25th celebrations

Isabel Harrison of Shannon airport, Cormac O’Connell of DAA and Tony Brazil of Limerick Travel at the Falcon 25th celebrations

Oliver Gearing, Karen Switzer, Adrian Woodcraft and Andrew Flintham of Falcon at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham

Jonathan Adair of North ern Ireland Travel News , Sandra Corkin of Oasis Travel, John Devereux of American Holidays an d Gonzalo Ceballos of the Spanish Tourist Board at the Falcon 25th

wffernan's Travel, Pat Da Caroline Crowley of He tish Bri Graham Aldren of son CEO of the ITAA, che of Heffernan's Ro lle he Airways and Mic ay party for Heffernan's Travel at the 90th birthd Travel in Cork,


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OCTOBER 2013 PAGE 38

MEETING PLACE

Out and about with the Travel Trade

Philip Airey of Sunway, Stephen McKenna of Tara O'Brien Atlas Travel and Niamh Byrne at the United Aird an n lco Fa of nd mo Catherine Sinna USA event in Limerick lines north v south golf event in Carton of Justsplit at the Visit

Freddie O’Neill, Gabri elle Malone and John Cassidy at the Falcon 25th celebrations at the Ro yal Hospital Kilmainham

Travel Centre, Niamh Jimmy Lennox of World of Topfiight at the United Byrne and Tony Colins event at Carton, Airlines north v south

Marlene Burke of Failte Ireland; David Rogers of Destination Waterford; Siobhan Barrett-Dohert y of Station House Hotel Letterkenny; and Rache l Tooley of Jury's Inn at the UK Inbound Works hop in the Royal Marine Ho tel Dun Laoghaire

A and John Spollen of Cormac O’Connell of DA the Falcon 25th John Cassidy Travel at

Doreen Smyth of childr en’s charity Variety Ire land John Boulding, Pre sident and Chief Execu tive, Insight Vacations who donated to the cha rity at their recent conferen ce in Dublin

Sarah Slattery of Skytours, Dominic Burke of Travel Centres and Lou McGovern of Swords travel at the Falcon 25th celebrations Caption

Sheila Brazil of Limeri ck Travel and Ivan Be acom of Aer Lingus at the Vis it USA event in Limeri ck

ITAA and Con Howard Pat Dawson CEO of the United Airlines north v of Abbey Travel at the south event at Carton

Orla O'Donnell of Justsp lit and Lee Osborne of Suzanne Cairns of Wilson Hartnell and Teresa Bookabe d at the Visit USA eve nt in Limerick Laiseca of Falcon at the Falcon 25th celebrations

ar Travel and Sylvia James Malone of Rathg ebrations at Caroline O'Connor and Mary Conway of Creation Kane of Falcon at the Falcon 25th cel am inh Travel at the Visit USA event in Limerick the Royal Hospital Kilma

Alan McAleese, Neil Walker and Jonathan Ritchie of Oasis Travel at the United Airlines north v south golf event in Carton

Karen Maloney of Etihad and Gearóid Mannion of Mannion Travel in Ennis at the Etihad reception for the 2013 All-Ireland hurling final

Linda Dougal, Dave Wa lsh and Joost Den Ha rtog of Etihad at the Etihad reception for the 2013 AllIreland hurling final

Counsellors and Mike Claudia Lane of Travel in at the Visit USA event vel Shinnors of Ace Tra Limerick


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Travelextra October 2013