Experience the vertical marathon in Dubai

Dubai visitors will be able to take part in a gruelling yet rewarding Vertical Marathon event at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers on April 13th 2012.

This taxing charity run will see up to 200 participants racing each other to the top of the towering 52-floor building, a route that takes in 265 metres and a massive 1,334 stairs.

The 2012 edition marks the tenth anniversary of the marathon, which is organised annually by Talise Fitness to support the humanitarian work conducted by Medecins Sans Frontieres.

More than one million dirhams (£170,400) has been raised by the event to date, thus helping the charitable organisation to provide medical care to more than 60 countries across the world.

Those wishing to participate this year should show up at the tower between 06:30 and 07:30 local time for registration, with the race itself commencing at 08:00.

Registration costs 500 dirhams for adult participants or 350 dirhams for those under 18 or competing as part of a team.

A wide variety of last minute hotels are available at LateRooms.com for amateur athletes, including the Golden Sands Hotel Apartments.

Ryanair plan to reduce fuel bills with lighter staff

With the rising oil prices eating into profits, saving fuel on flights is a major issue for airlines.

Ryanair have announced drastic actions to help reduce their load, with its in-flight magazine being reduced in size, less ice will be served in drinks and staff have been encouraged to not pile on the pounds.

In a controversial move, Stephen McNamara a spokesperson for Ryain air claimed that every little helped when it came to reducing the weight of the aircraft, including heavy staff.

He said: “We cut costs wherever possible, and the changes will represent a significant reduction in weight.

“We also considered removing armrests, but decided against it. We even encourage staff to watch their weight – with the motivation of appearing in the annual Ryanair calendar”.

The latest policy means that the firm’s in-flight magazine ‘Let’s Go with Ryanair’ will be reduced from A4 to A5 and will double as a menu. Saving the airline thousands of pounds in fuel thanks to the reduced amount of paper.

It is estimated that the carrier will save more than £400,000 in printing costs.

Other measured include reducing the amount of ice on board, and lowering the weight of trolleys and seats.

However not only Ryanair are taking measures to slim down, other airlines have replaced glass wear in first class cabins with plastic, cut the weight of metal cutlery and some airlines have gone to extreme measures by removing phones, magazine racks and rubbish bins.

Mr McNamara said: “Fuel is an integral part of the fare – you can’t fly passengers anywhere without it. We would rather make cost reductions and charge passengers for other services”.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Head to Devon for Exeter Festival

Devon will be playing host to the Exeter Festival of South West Food and Drink once again from April 13th to 15th this year.

To be held at Northernhay Gardens and Exeter Castle Courtyard, the annual event is designed to showcase the quality and variety of produce in south-west England, allowing visitors to meet and buy from local growers and sellers.

High-profile chefs, led by master cook Michael Caines, will be showing off tips and tricks at the festival’s cookery theatre, with the likes of James Nathan, Mat Follas and Jackie Kearney to be in attendance.

After Dark Parties will take place on both the Friday and Saturday, offering live music performances, food stalls and real ale and cider to drink, while Little Cookies events will also be available to help children learn some basic culinary skills.

The festivities run from 10:00 to 18:00 BST on the Friday and Saturday, with Sunday’s events wrapping up an hour earlier.

Day tickets cost £7.50 for adults, £1 for those under 16 and are free for under-fives, while entry to the After Dark parties requires a separate payment of £7 at the door or £5 if booked in advance.

Gourmands can find all manner of last minute hotels in the area at LateRooms.com, including the Acorn Lodge in Torquay.

Further details on the event can be found at www.exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk.

Campsite bookings soar as Brits hunt down bargain breaks

Bargain-hunting Brits are increasingly looking to camping holidays as the tough financial times continue.

Last week saw unseasonably warm weather, and even with the drastic change in weather this week, many holidaymakers are willing to gamble on the chance they may strike lucky with the weather on a camping trip.

As the Easter holidays loom Britain’s Camping and Caravanning Club have seen a huge increase in bookings as Brits see camping as cheaper alternative to a holiday abroad.

The Club has seen five per cent rise in Easter bookings this year, and a 28 per cent jump since 2010.

The believes its not just a case of budget – but a increased interest in the UK this year, with the upcoming Diamond Jubilee celebrations and Olympic Games.

‘With so much going on in 2012, this is the perfect time to make the most of the UK and take a holiday,’ says Robert Louden, Camping and Caravanning Club Director General.

‘Our booking numbers are extremely positive at this stage.

‘We’re dedicated to encouraging campers to experience domestic holidays.

‘There is no better way to enjoy our beautiful countryside at inexpensive costs.’

The 111-year-old club is made up of 130 campsites across Britian, this includes 20 on Forestry Commission land.

It has also been revealed, by the Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS), that Brits spent 12 per cent more on camping and caravanning in 2011 then 2010.

The Bourne-Cation

A rise of Brits ‘staycationing’ has been seen inrecent years, and shows no signs of abating, mainly due to uncertainty in the jobs market and the cost of living increasing.

Recent polls in the national media also rate Bournemouth beach as number 1 in the UK.

That’s one good reason for staying, and with the number of exciting events in the calender this year Brits staying for the summer holidays in the UK is likely to increase further. the summer months will include; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, followed by the Olympics then the Paralympics.

Britons still want – and need – their holidays whether overseas or in theUKand where better to go than to theSouthCoast?  With the plethora of events across the area throughout the year and many beautiful places of interest to visit, Bournemouth and Poole are hard to beat and with its own micro-climate benefit from theUK’s best weather.

Value for money is important, but so is experience.  Bournecoast has been established for over 50 years and is still family run to this day.  It prides itself in providing quality properties with properties holding the Bournemouth Quality Standards awards.  For more information, visit www.Bournecoast.co.uk

Looking for a last minute easter break?

Easter is just around the corner; a time for bunnies, eggs, and family travel. Even though this is originally a religious holiday, much like Christmas it has become a cultural phenomenon that transcends religion. Many cities around the globe host lavish celebrities which draw thousands of tourists every year. If you’re still undecided on where to go, here are some of Auto Europe’s last minute suggestions for Easter.

Seville is always an Easter favourite. The dramatic costumes and the elaborate processions are only the icing on top of the cake. The mysticism surrounding the brotherhoods, as well as the charming traditional mantillas worn by the women of the city make this a unique event that shouldn’t be missed. If you have time for some sightseeing, why not pick up a car hire in Seville and head out into the countryside, making the most of the weather, already warm and sunny this time of year.

Florence is another great option for a quick Easter escapade. A beautiful city at any time of the year, the city is even lovelier dressed up for Easter, and its festivities owe nothing to Seville’s. The high point of Florence festivities is the “Scoppio del Carro”, in which a cart loaded with fireworks is lit, in a rather loud yet amazing show of colour and light.

Portugal also has its fair share of Easter festivities, with one of the most famous being the Holy Week of Braga. Located in the north of the country, this city takes its festivities seriously, and is generally considered to be the “capital” of the Holy Week in this westernmost country of Europe. The whole city is decorated in purple, and there are processions throughout the week, including the famous Procissão da Burrinha (Procession of the Donkey), so called because an image of the Virgin Mary is carried through the streets on the back of a donkey.

Travelling during Easter doesn’t just mean travelling to watch religious festivities however, and due to school holidays this is a great time to travel with the family. Why not pick up a car hire in Nice and enjoy some leisurely days testing the theory that the weather is already warm enough for a bit of sunbathing? Disneyland Paris is also a great place to spend a fun day with the kids. With Auto Europe’s low rates for car hire at over 8,000 locations around the world, the possibilities are endless.

What a difference a week makes…

Last week saw new temperature records being set in Scotland with 23.6 °C recorded at Aboyne, Aberdeenshire on Tuesday.

In contrast, the temperature this Tuesday will be some 20 degrees colder with snow on the ground.

Over parts of Scotland, especially the north, significant snowfall could bring some travel disruption during the first half of the week, with 2-5 cm of snow expected in many areas and at least 15 cm for the higher parts of the Grampian mountains.

The hills of northern England will also see some snow on Tuesday but further south across England and Wales, we will mainly see rain which may turn to snow for a time over the hills of the Chilterns, Cotswolds, Salisbury Plain and the Downs.

Martin Young, Chief Forecaster at the Met Office, said: “Spring is a season of contrasts and it’s certainly not unusual to see snow at this time of year. However, this week’s wintry snap will be short-lived, with temperatures returning to normal as we head towards the Easter weekend.

“We can expect to see some hard night frosts by the middle of the week with temperatures down to between -4 and -6 °C in many places, with impacts for gardeners and growers.”

Keith Brown, Transport Minister for Scotland, said: “Coming so soon after last week’s extremely mild temperatures the key is to guard against complacency. The Met Office advises that temperatures could be 15-20 degrees colder in some places than they were at the same time last week. Therefore the public should continue to check travel bulletins or the  Traffic Scotland website for the latest advice.”

Temperatures are expected to rise again later in the week and should be around normal again as we head into the Easter weekend.

EU commission called to stop ATC strikes

Ryanair calls on EU commission to stop ATC strikes, as thousands of passengers will potentially be affected by French ATC strikes.

Ryanair today called on the EU Commission to prevent millions of Europe’s citizens having their flights cancelled or delayed, by tiny numbers of French Air Traffic Controllers going on strike again this week.
Ryanair condemned the EU Commission’s continuing failure to act on its repeated call for the removal of the right to strike from Europe’s air traffic controllers, who repeatedly blackmail Europe’s passengers with strikes throughout the summer season. Ryanair pointed out that many of Europe’s police forces and army personnel are not allowed to strike.
Air traffic controllers in the USA are also prevented by law from striking, which means that the skies over the US cannot be closed or hijacked by ATC strikes or work to rule. The European Commission should apply similar no strike rules here in Europe.
Ryanair confirmed that yesterday’s French Air Traffic Control strike caused 134 flights to be cancelled, with a further 450 flights delayed, resulting in 88,000 Ryanair passengers having their flights disrupted on Monday through no fault of theirs or Ryanair.
Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said:
“It is unacceptable that the skies over Europe are repeatedly closed or flights delayed by the unjustified strike action of tiny numbers of air traffic controllers. These public servants are among the most overpaid and protected in Europe and yet they repeatedly opt for the strike weapon as a first, rather than a last resort. The summer schedules in Europe are barely one week old and already the French Air Traffic Controllers are engaged in three days of strikes. The solution to this problem is simple, remove their right to strike in exactly the same way that Air Traffic Controllers in the USA are prevented by law from striking
“The EU Commission should stop talking about taking action and finally do something about these repeated and unacceptable strikes by removing the right to strike from ATC unions”.

Chaos predicted for bank holiday as baggage handlers plan strike

The Easter holidays have begun, and whilst drivers have to contend with uncertainty at the pumps, those flying from Stansted Airport face strike action.

The Essex airport is facing the prospect of strikes by baggage handlers on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Easter Monday.

Industrial action is predicted for the bank holiday week after 150 union members, employed by Swissport, passed a vote in favour.

The GMB (Britain’s ‘general’ union) union has said that changes to shifts will result in wage cuts of up to £1,000.

GMB official Gary Pearce said: ‘GMB members have voted overwhelmingly for strike action and for action short of a strike.

‘Up to now the company has been intent on imposing these changes without agreement and this is completely unacceptable, as this vote shows.

‘GMB has offered several alternative shift patterns and working arrangements but the company refuses to listen so far.’

He added: ‘Unless there is urgent talks and a settlement, this vote for action this will result in disruption over the Easter bank holiday weekend.’

A Swissport spokesman said last night: ‘At this time we can confirm the airport will be open as normal. Passengers should travel to the airport as normal and we expect no disruption to our services.’

On the roads, works have been stopped for the Easter holiday on some routes but many motorway restrictions will stay in place.

The suspensions will last from 6am on Thursday April 5 until midnight on Easter Monday April 9.

Bournemouth is UK’s best beach destination

The winners of TripAdvisors second annual Travellers’ Choice Beach Destinations awards have been revealed. Bournemouth was crowned the UK’s best beach destination and was the only UK finalist in the European top 10, where it took fourth place, beating every beach destination in Italy, France, Portugal and more.

Jersey’s St. Brelades was named the UK’s second best beach destination while Devon’s Woolacombe took third place.

“These awards recognise the UK’s and Europe’s best beach destinations, according to those that really matter – travellers themselves,” commented Emma Shaw, TripAdvisor spokesperson. “Bournemouth has long been a popular seaside resort and recent investment in the area has clearly paid off – not only has it been named the UK’s best beach destination, up from third place last year, but it’s also ranked ahead of almost every Mediterranean beach destination.”

Bournemouth takes top spot

Following its third-place finish in 2011, Bournemouth rose through the ranks to be named the UK’s best beach destination this year.  It was joined by two other Dorset destinations: Weymouth in 8th place and Swanage in 9th.

Bournemouth is currently undergoing significant improvement with some £11 million recently injected into the seafront at Boscombe. The area has seen the addition of new designer beach ‘pods’, water sports academies, and new bars and restaurants sitting alongside a newly refurbished pier.

Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East, commented: “Those that live in Bournemouth have long known what a great town it is, but for it to be recognised by TripAdvisor’s travellers as the UK’s best beach destination really is a tremendous honour for the area.”

Cornwall claims almost half of the top ten spots

Home to three of last year’s winners, Cornwall triumphed again claiming four of the UK’s ten best beach destinations: St. Ives in 4th place, Newquay in 6th, Bude in 7th and Padstow in 10th.

Malcolm Bell, head of tourism, VisitCornwall, commented: “Cornwall is an iconic destination where our fantastic beaches are one, if not the major draw, be that to swim, surf, walk on or dine beside.”

Award winners were determined based on the most highly rated beach destinations by travellers in TripAdvisor reviews. Unlike any other honours, TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice winners are based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions from travellers around the world.

For the complete 2012 Travellers’ Choice Beach Destinations winners and more reviews, opinions and candid holiday photographs, go tohttp://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/TravelersChoice-Beaches.