Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Geneva - new fast rail link: travel news headlines

London – Geneva: fast rail link
High speed train travel to Geneva with no need to change stations in Paris will be possible from December 14. Eurostar passengers from St. Pancras or Ebbsfleet will be able to switch to TGV Lyria services in Lille. Travel time to and from the Swiss city will be just over 6hrs. There will be a 37min wait in Lille on the way out (33mins on the homeward journey).

New flights from Leeds-Bradford 
Monarch Airlines will launch flights to Alicante and Naples from Leeds-Bradford next spring. Starting in late March it is expected to operate three round and two trips a week to the Spanish and Italian cities respectively.

Suspension bridge to open in Tirol
A pedestrian suspension bridge claimed to be the world’s longest is scheduled to open next month in the Tirolean market town of Reutte. The 403 metre bridge, will link the ruins of Ehrenburg castle with Fort Claudia. Visitors will cross at a dizzying 114.6 metres above the intervening gorge. Currently the longest such suspension bridge is on the island of Kyushu, Japan.

Lincoln shooting - exhibition planned
The pistol used by John Wilkes Booth to shoot President Lincoln will be among the exhibits brought together in Washington next spring to mark the 150th anniversary of the event. “Silent Witnesses: artifacts of the Lincoln assassination” will be staged from March 23 until May 25 at the Center for Education and Leadership, opposite the Ford Theatre, where the shooting occurred. Other exhibits, assembled from a range of museums, include Lincoln’s top hat, cuff links, great coat and the contents of his pockets that fateful night.

Silver travellers grumble less
Is it because we’re that bit less starry eyed than the young – or is it that we’ve learned how to avoid the pitfalls of travel? Surprisingly, given our grumpy image, silver travellers complain less about their holidays than those in other age groups. Research from the Institute of Customer Service shows consumers express progressively higher satisfaction with tourism and transport providers the older they get. Tourism is the third highest scoring sector overall, following retail (non food) and retail (food). Transport, which includes airlines and ferries, is tenth. In the overall league table of top performing companies, which is headed by John Lewis. Center Parcs (13th) is the top tourism, followed by P&O Cruises (joint 24th) Marriott (joint 32nd) and Hilton (36th). P&O Ferries, classified and a transport company, is 29th.

New St Petersburg flights to take off
Russia’s Transaero Airlines is to launch non stop services between London Heathrow and St. Petersburg on October 29 with round trip fares starting at £186 – which includes on board food and drink. Flights will operate on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Departing from Heathrow at 6.30pm and arriving in St Petersburg at 1.50am. London-bound flights will leave at 3.40pm, arriving at 4.10pm. Flying time is 3hrs 30mins. Transaero is the second largest airline in the Russian Federation.

Sandals and Beaches to provide free wi fi
Free wi fi access will be available to all guests at Sandals and Beaches resorts from December 1. It is currently available only to customers booking premium holidays at the Caribbean all-inclusive resorts, such as those which come with concierge or butler service.

Sri Lanka gets new cliff top hotel
A hotel developed by a tea producing family has opened on a headland in Sri Lanka. Cape Weligama, a complex of 40 villas, overlooks the Indian Ocean from a cliff top near Galle Fort on the south coast. It has a gym, an infinity pool and a speedboat used for whale watching excursions. The property, which is set in 12 acres of landscape gardens, is part of Resplendent Ceylon, set up by Dilmah Tea whose aim is to create a collection of small luxury resorts offering guests a taste of Sri Lankan history and culture. Its first venture, Ceylon Tea Trails, opened in 2005. Both properties are members of the up market Relais & Chateaux consortium.

Battle of Waterloo to be re-enacted
A spectacular re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo will be staged in Belgium next summer to mark the bicentenary of one of history’s pivotal engagements. Some 5000 actors are expected to take part – with 300 horses and 100 canon. On June 19 the French attack will be staged. The following day it will be the allied counter-attack, with the fighting concentrated around the Hougoumont Farm, Over the two days there will also be a recreation of the bivouacs, providing an insight into the daily life of the troops as they prepared to fight. Tickets for each of the two battle re-enactments are already available on line at, priced €15.75. Admission to the bivouac exhibition is €6.75.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Top hotel awards - travel news headlines

Hotel with no TV wins award
A Scottish hotel with no TV, no wi fi and “poor to non existent” mobile reception has been named “Newcomer of the Year” in the latest edition of the annual Good Food Guide. The Moor of Rannoch Hotel in Perth and Kinross, described as “blissfully isolated”, fills the gap with board games, books, and wood burning stoves. Other awards: country hotel: is Wiltshire’s Pear Tree at Purton; top pub with rooms: the Talbot Inn at Mells, Somerset; small hotel: Yalbury Cottage, Lower Bockhampton near Dorchester, Dorset; country house hotel: Lords of the Manor in Gloucestershire; Scottish, Welsh and Irish hotels of the year: respectively The Green Park, PitlochryMilebrook House, Knighton and Newforge House in County Armagh – and best dog friendly hotel: Overwater Hall, Cumbria.

Blackpool Airport to close
Blackpool Airport is to close this week following failed efforts to find a buyer. Flights will cease after October 15. Passengers already booked to fly are advised to contact their airlines. In a statement its owners said: “We regret to announce that no agreement has been reached to secure the future of operations at Blackpool Airport. The airport operation has been making a loss for a number of years and unfortunately there is no option for the company other than to close. While the sales process announced at the end of August was a final attempt to secure the future of the airport, the airport's management had spent many months prior to this announcement approaching organisations with a potential interest in the airport in an attempt to find a buyer.”

CityJet to pull out of Cambridge
CityJet is to axe its flights from Cambridge airport later this month. The British Airways subsidiary has been operating daily on both routes. The last departures will be on October 25. In a statement the airline said it had developed a strong working relationship with the airport “and will continue to explore potential opportunities for future routes.

New Madeira flights
Norwegian Air Shuttle is to launch winter services from Gatwick to Madeira on October 28. The low cost airline will fly there twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Russian hotel prices plunge - travel news headlines

Silver travellers stay sociable
We may get grumpier as we grow older but a high proportion of us remain tolerant enough to holiday with friends. The figure is close to one in five (18%) holidaymakers over 55, according to the latest annual Holiday Trends Report published by travel trade organisation ABTA. Sadly a high proportion also holiday alone - 13% in the 55-64 age category, rising to 21% of those over 65. The research also show a significant number take breaks with their immediate or extended families, suggesting that in tough times holidays are another drain on the Bank of Mum and Dad.

Russian hotel prices plummet
The Ukraine crisis has hit Russia’s tourism industry hard, new figures show. Hotels there operated 15% emptier on average in August than in the same month last summer, according to research company STR Global. That’s already having an impact on room prices. Those in Moscow were down by 18.2% on average compared with August 2013 when calculated in euros. And even when currency fluctuations were taken out of the arithmetic, prices in roubles fell by an average of 9% for the country as a whole.

Hotel reaches for the sky
Staggering views are promised from a hotel planned in Los Angeles. The 900 room InterContinental will have a lobby on the 70th floor. Scheduled to open in 2017 It will housed in a 73 storey skyscraper – billed as the tallest in the western Americas - on a site previously occupied by the Wilshire Grand. The building will also incorporate office and retail space.

BA to send Heathrow smartphone alerts
British Airways customers with smart phones using Heathrow’s Terminal 5 will no longer need to keep an eye on the departure screens from the start of October. They will be able to receive alerts that their gates are open and the aircraft is boarding via the airline’s app. A few weeks after the service become available it will be extended to Terminal 3.

Gentler skiing at Colorado resort
Looking for somewhere off the beaten track to ski this winter? Colorado’s Crested Butte, long known for its superb expert powder tree skiing, has been extending it to cater for intermediates. Over the past two summers it has worked with the US Forest Service to identify suitable areas where trees can be thinned to make glades. Skiers seeking more gentle gladed terrain will have new options for the coming season in the East River area and off the Teocali lift. Getting there will also be easier following the introduction of United Airlines flights from Chicago to nearby Gunnison.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

BA to fly to Kualka Lumpur again - travel news headlines

BA to fly to Kuala Lumpur again
British Airways is to fly direct to Kuala Lumpur again. It last operated the route in 2001. Starting on May 27 next year the airline will operate daily flights to the Malaysian capital from Heathrow using extended range Boeing 777-200 aircraft with first, business, premium economy and economy cabins. Outbound flights will depart at 8.15pm, arriving 12hrs 45mins later at 4pm local time. London-bound services will leave at 11.05pm, arriving at 5.25am next morning.

River cruise and walk
The appeal of combining a river cruise with guided walking will be tested next summer by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. The two operators, who already combine their expertise to run sea cruise and walk packages for are offering an 8 night holiday on the Loire and Garonne in France. Passengers will sail from Dover aboard Fred Olsen’s Braemar on 1 August.
Prices start at £1125.

Lace museum opens
The New Bruges Lace Museum – Opening 19th September 2014The history of lacemaking is unfolded at a new museum just opened in Bruges. It began there in the 16th century and soon began to play an important role in the culture and economics of the Belgian city. In the 19th century, religious groups also started teaching the skill. The museum is housed in one of the former schools they founded – that of the Apostollinnen sisters on Balstraat 16.

Hold baggage fees legal – court rules
Airline fees for carrying checked luggage are legal, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The court in Luxembourg had been asked by a Spanish court to consider whether the country’s ban on such fees was compatible with EU law. This followed a complaint by a passenger against the low cost airline Vueling. In its ruling the court said the cost of carrying hold baggage was, as a component of the price of the service, a significant element. And it noted that it cannot be excluded that some air passengers prefer to travel without checking in baggage on the basis that doing so reduces the cost of their plane ticket”.

New London hotel opens
A new hotel has opened in London’s Holborn this week. The 174 room Hoxton, which is housed in a Grade II listed building, has two restaurants. Room rates, which range from £69 to £269, include one hour of free phone calls to landlines and US mobiles in the UK, US, Australia and most of Europe. The property is sister to the Hoxton in Shoreditch.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Strong pound prompts Northern Lights price cut- travel news

Lights watchers get refunds.....
The recent strength of sterling has prompted Northern Lights specialist The Aurora Zone to cut its prices. The operator is contacting all its customers to offer them an average reduction of around 7%. Its new lead in price is £1,138 for each of two sharing – down from £1,224 – which includes four nights’ full board accommodation, flights from Heathrow, activities, cold weather clothing and expert guides.

.... and a promise…..
If the Northern Lights stubbornly refuse to put on a show, passengers on some Hurtigruten voyages this winter will be offered a second chance to see them. The Norwegian coastal line has issued a guarantee to customers booking its 11 night Classic Round voyages by November 30, for departures between October 1 this year and March 31, 2015. With the vessel spending a week in or close to the aurora zone the company is so confident passengers will see the lights that it will offer them seven or six night voyages the following winter if they don’t.

Docklands get Hamburg flights
Flights to Hamburg are scheduled to take off from London City Airport next month. Starting on October 27, British Airways’ Danish franchise partner Sun-Air will operate two round trips a day on weekdays to the north German city, using a 32 seat Dornier 328 aircraft.

White House Visitor Centre re-opens
Washington’s White House Visitor Centre has re-opened after a $12,6m (£7.8m) renovation. During the work the centre, which includes exhibits covering aspects of the Presidential home from its architecture to the First Families who have lived there, has been housed in temporary premises. Admission is free and the centre is open from 7.40am until 4pm daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and January 1.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Silver skiers hit the deep snow - travel news headlines

More silver skiers heading off piste
Silver skiers are increasingly hitting the deep powder. The Ski Club of Great Britain has upped the number of holidays if offers for higher level and adventurous skiers over 50 though its Freshtracks operation. For example it has just introduced a one week ski and spa package at Ponte di Legno in Italy including six days guided off piste skiing (£1299 including scheduled flights, transfers, four star half board and mountain guides. Last year it saw overall increase of 15% in bookings from members for its Peak Experience holidays, which are designed for over 50s – whether for packages aimed at advanced or expert skiers or those preferring gentle on piste cruising. And it expects a further 10% increase for the coming season.

Gatwick gets new Jakarta link
Indonesian airline Garuda has started its delayed operation between Gatwick and Jakarta. It operates five times a week via Amsterdam using an extended range Boeing 777-300. The airline originally planned to launch the operation in May but postponed the start after it ran into difficulties securing suitable take off and landing slots this summer at Gatwick.
Rome ups tourist tax
Rome’s tourist tax has increased. According to the European Tour Operators Association it has gone up from €3 to €6 per night, for example, for a visitor staying in a four star hotel.

Istanbul gets new luxury hotel
Boasting a rooftop pool and one of the biggest spas in the Turkish city, a new Raffles hotel has opened  in Istanbul. With 180 rooms and suites the property is in the Zorlu centre, a new food, fashion and arts complex in Besiktas, overlooking the Bosphorus on the European side. This will be the tenth hotel in the Raffles chain. The first Raffles opened in Singapore – the company’s home base – in 1887.

Yoga before take off
Yoga sessions are now available in the SkyTeam lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal Four. A studio has been set aside in a two month pilot scheme. Travellers are provided with mats and a video showing an exercise sequences. Passengers flying on any of the alliance’s 13 members airlines can take advantage. (,

Docklands get new Guernsey flights
Aurigny has launched flights between London City and Guernsey next week. The airline is operating daily round trips on weekdays. Flights are being operated initially by Belgian airline VLM. Departures from the Docklands airport are at 9.15am and 6.45pm with flights from the Channel Island at 8.45am and 6.15pm. Aurigny ( already flies between Guernsey and six other UK airports: Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester, Southampton, Bristol and East Midlands.

York claims techno lead
York may be one of our oldest cities but it now claims to offer more ways to explore its attractions through technology than any other in the UK. Among them is a pioneering app - the world’s first according to its tourist office - featuring holographic guides. Developed in cooperation with it makes characters from the city’s past appear on the screens of visitors’ mobile devices at appropriate points on their itineraries. Details of this and other apps are at Free wi fi is available throughout the city centre with a free log in which you can get from the visitor centre.

Chile hotel has own dairy
A new hotel with its own dairy producing milk and cheese has opened amid the stunning scenery of Chile’s lake district. The cheese maker introduces guests to his art. Set in 23 acres on the Liucara River the Vira Vira  has 22 rooms and suites. White water rafting, kayaking, fly fishing and bathing in thermal springs are all available. Original Travel ( can arrange stays there from £876 a head for three nights, including all meals and drinks, excursions, activities and airport transfers.

Free bubbly on the slopes
Never mind champagne powder – there will be free champagne on the slopes of Northstar, California this season. At 2.30pm guests will be offered a choice of Veuve Clicquot, a sparkling wine or some fizzy cider (in the US cider is usually non alcoholic). Northstar, which is close to the shore of Lake Tahoe, is part of the Vail Resorts stable

Snowshoe in Albania
Snowshoeing in Albania is on offer n a new winter programme from Exodus. The tour operator says pevious experience is not essential but would be advantageous “as this is a moderate to challenging grade trip in a remote region”. Travellers will be based at Valbone and Tropoje in the Albanian alps. Nine day. Trips cost from £1,099 per person, including flights, accommodation and all but two meals, snow shoes and poles. (

Spot the stars over Ayers Rock
The night skies over the Australian Outback are perfect for stargazing. Ayers Rock Resort in the Northern Territory is employing an astronomer-in-residence who conducts free afternoon information sessions – until November - on five days of the week – to help guests identify planets and galaxies.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Single cruise charges axed - travel news headline

Antarctic lure for solo travellers
Growing demand from solo travellers has persuaded Quark Expeditions to drop its single supplement for some cabins aboard Ocean Endeavour – a forthcoming addition to its Antarctica expedition fleet. The move means significant savings. Following a major makeover the 199 passenger ship will make 12 voyages starting late next year. The company says there will be a special on board focus on fitness, with passengers being offered the option of healthy meals, yoga and stretching classes and a massage therapy session.

Rising demand for long escapes 
Demand from silver travellers for long escapes to a warmer climate appear to be growing. Britanny Ferries says it has sold twice as many four week apartment packages for autumn, winter and spring as it had at this point last year. It has added the Algarve and increased the number of destinations on offer on the Spanish Costas. The packages cost from £599 per person, including the car ferry crossing.

Haiti set to make tourism mark
Tourism looks set to help Haiti overcome its troubled recent history. Following years of political unrest and the 2010 earthquake which caused so much devastation and grief in the Caribbean country the giant Carnival line has announced its intention to develop a cruise port on the island of Tortuga, just off the north coast. The company estimates it will create over 900 jobs, directly or indirectly and it is expected that eventually cruise passengers will be offered a range of new shore excursions.

Mushroom hunting in Rutland
Love wild mushrooms? Hambleton Hall, near Oakham in Rutland is offering a foraging outing on October 4 led by mycologist Paul Nichol who will identify those that which are edible and delicious, such as the parasol, and those which cause harm. The excursion to Burley-on-the-Hill wood will be followed by a fungus themed lunch back the hotel (, whose chef has a Michelin star. The outing and lunch cost £85 per person. A night’s b&b starts at £265 per double room.

Robot room service
Call room service at one of the Starwood group’s Aloft hotels from now on and you may find your small items are delivered by a robot. Described as the hotel industry’s first Botir (robotic butler) it will make its first deliveries at the Aloft Cupertino, appropriately in California’s Silicon Valley. It will, says Starwood, even be able to negotiate the lift.