Friday, 27 March 2015

Biggest US ski area planned

Plans to create what is claimed will be the biggest ski area in the US have been given the green light. The $50 million project, which is scheduled to be completed in time for next season, will connect two Utah resorts - Park City and Canyons - with a high speed, eight seat gondola.


Park City

The link will enable skiers and snowboarders to access Thaynes Canyon at Park City via an entry gate or in the reverse direction via new trails to be cut from Pine Cone Ridge. The investment will also cover lift upgrades and a big new restaurant in Park City and improvements to existing restaurants in Canyons - plus additional snow making. Both ski areas are part of the Vail Resorts stable, which - besides Vail itself - encompasses resorts including Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone (Colorado) and Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar (California).

Alps disaster - don't assume we we know all the answers

The extraordinary revelation that the Germanwings Airbus was probably flown into a French mountainside deliberately has led to some absurdly imaginative accounts of what happened on the aircraft. It has inevitably raised new doubts about the safety of locking flight deck doors. Safety authorities around the world are certain to review the balance between the risk of terrorist interference and that of leaving the controls in the hands of a single pilot. It was already the policy of some airlines to ensure that one pilot was never left alone. Others have moved swiftly to introduce such policies. But there is much we do not yet know about the sequence of events which led to the Alps disaster. It ihas been assumed, but has yet to be confirmed, that the single pilot on the flight deck overrode a system designed to make it possible to open the cockpit door should the flight deck crew become incapacitated. This would usually involve the aircraft's purser, seeking to elicit an intercom response from the pilot or pilots, and if necessary entering an emergency code which briefly unlocks it. Was an attempt made to use the code on the Germanwings Airbus? (one newspaper account today stated it had). Is use of that code one of the actions picked up by the flight data recorder. If not we may never know for sure. Of one thing we can be certain, however. The work of air accident investigators is admirably thorough. Sequences of events leading to disasters are set out in forensic detail. It would be a mistake to assume that, days after the tragedy in France, we already know all the answers.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

New Heathrow - Spain flights set to start

Iberia Express's new service from Heathrow to Tenerife Nord is solved, It can now be booked - but only on the website of its parent - Iberia (iberia.com) - or on British Airways' site (ba.com). British Airways is owned by the same group as the Spanish airline. Flights start on Sunday (March 29) and will operate three times a week (on Sun, Tues and Thurs). And on Monday and Wednesday (March 30 & April 1) respective the airline starts flying four times a week from Heathrow to Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) and daily to Palma (Mallorca).

Iglesia de la Concepcion, Santa Cruz de Tenerife (courtesy webtenerife.co.uk)

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

On the trail of the original Springwatch Man


And not just Springwatch – the Reverend Gilbert White was also the summer, autumn and winter watch man. His book, the Natural History of Selbourne, published in the first year of the French Revolution, is a record in detail of the that microcosm of nature around his Hampshire home. He created a wonderful zig zag path up the hanger (steep escarpment) behind the house, which you can still incorporate in a walk. Now over 80 people have joined a walk being staged at the end of April to follow his regular route between Selbourne and Oriel College, Oxford, where he became a Fellow (walk organiser Rosemary Irwin, chair of trustees of the Gilbert White and Oates Collections in Selbourne - Scott's famous companion also lived in the village) - says it's likely the Rev White made the journey on horseback). It’s still possible to join her on the any of the walk’s 8 stages. The cost is £ per adult and £10 per dog. 

The garden at Selbourne (courtesy the Gilbert White & Oates Collection)

He created a wonderful zig zag path up the hanger (steep escarpment) behind the house, which you can still incorporate in a walk. Now over 80 people have joined a walk being staged at the end of April to follow his regular route between Selbourne and Oriel College, Oxford, where he became a Fellow (walk organiser Rosemary Irwin, chair of the trustees of the Gilbert White and Oates Collections in Selbourne - Scott’s famous companion also lived there - says it’s likely the Rev White undertook the journey on horseback). It’s still possible to join her on the any of the walk’s 8 stages. The cost is £ per adult and £10 per dog. Go to www.gilbertwhiteshouse.co.uk.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Eurozone price tumble for US visitors

Expect to see more Americans in the Eurozone this summer with the dollar some 20% stronger there than it was last year. Here are some examples of the hotel prices they’ll get in their own currency – all based on current rates on their websites*:

A one night stay at the Danieli in Venice, on May 14, for example, will cost American tourists from $550.  This time last year the same rate would have worked out at  $673.
 
The Hotel Danieli
A night at the Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel on the same date will cost $162 against $195. Further up the price scale a superior room at the Bristol in Paris will cost around $675 compared with $820. 

The Sacher in Vienna works out at $360 against about $430.

A superior room at The Ritz in Madrid will be $228 against $276,

And a particular favourite of mine, the Hotel Elephant in Weimar – birthplace of the Bauhaus - will cost around US$116 compared with $US141.


*These comparisons don’t include the impact of any inflationary rate increases since last May.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Couch potato on the Piste


No - it's not an Alpine ad for a DFS sale. These red leather sofas have been deployed at the top of a chairlift between the Austrian resorts of Wagrain and Alpendorf. For tired skiers (or maybe those on a budget wanting somewhere comfortable to eat a sandwich). The area already has several lifts with heated seats. What next? Almost makes you nostalgic for the dear dead days of cable bindings, lace up leather boots and single chairs that whacked you on the calves. But not quite.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Irish ferry deal extended

Taking the car to Ireland?: Irish Ferries has extended its offer of one free passenger per booking until midnight on March 31. It cuts the price of a return journey by £60. The deal is valid for travel until December 17.


Dublin: seafood platter outside Johnnie Fox's Pub - image courtesy Tourism Ireland