Olympic Torch Receives Warm Welcome at Holiday Inn Sheffield

A large welcoming committee at the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria Hotel in Sheffield, UK, greeted the Olympic Torch at a reception hosted by the hotel.

The Holiday Inn brand is the official hotel services provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as a supporting partner for the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.

The UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, Olympic sponsors, local celebrities, and members of the UK Sports Federations were in attendance at the reception.

Nick Clegg said, ‘It was an honour to be part of welcoming the Olympic flame to our city.

Monday’s events fired the starting gun for Sheffield’s Olympic celebrations, but the city’s hard work started a long time ago. By the time the opening ceremony begins, one in seven team GB athletes will have trained in Sheffield including Paralympic table tennis player Will Bayley, who is tipped for a medal win. And of course we all have high hopes for Sheffield’s Jessica Ennis.

But this isn’t just about watching a great sporting spectacle on TV. Here in Sheffield over 160 sports, education and community projects have been inspired by the Olympics – the Sheffield Academy of Young Leaders in Sport is recruiting young people to lead sports events in schools and Sheftival 2012 will see the best of our city’s music, radio and sport completely take over Don Valley for the first weekend in August.’

The hotel general manager, Steven Vandevelde, said, ‘We were thrilled that our hotel was elected to host the Official Torch Relay party, particularly as it coincides with the hotels 150th birthday. It is wonderful that Sheffield, the UK City of Sport, was so honoured and we are absolutely delighted that our guests and our team had the opportunity to see the Olympic Flame, as it journeys across the UK, carried by the 8,000 inspirational people.’


New Boutique Hotels to Open in London

Two new hotels will be ready to welcome visitors to London this summer.

A new boutique residence, The Dorset Square Hotel, has already opened in the Marylebone area of London, UK.

The hotel has opened under the banner of Design Hotels group, and is owned by the husband and wife duo, Kit and Tim Kemp. It has 38 rooms, which range from a single room to the special Dorset Square Room, overlooking the city and the property’s beautiful gardens.

The hotel’s location, Marylebone, is a prosperous city area in central London, with residential areas, stylish shops, cafes and restaurants, as well as art galleries, all within close proximity. The property houses The Potting Shed bar & restaurant, for the dining pleasure of its guests.

The new Ampersand Hotel is also opening after the 2012 London Olympics games, and is located in the South Kensington area of London. The hotel is offering 111 luxury rooms and suites, as well as dining venues including the Apero restaurant, and The Drawing Rooms, an all-day coffee lounge.  It is scheduled to open on 29th August, 2012.

The hotel amenities include 24-hour room service, complimentary Wi-Fi, a media hub, mini bars in rooms, and complimentary tea and coffee making facilities. The hotel also houses a fitness centre on the ground floor of the property. Meeting spaces include The Library, and the Games Room.

The hotel is nestled in a neighbourhood that is within easy access of London’s top attractions for visitors, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum.

British Airways Increases Domestic Services for Winter 2012

British Airways has reported that the recent acquisition of British Midland International (bmi) airline has benefited it in strengthening its domestic service.

The airline, while unveiling its winter 2012 schedule, reported an increase of 32 percent in the number of seats to Scotland, against last year’s schedule. The new schedule is also offering new routes from London City Airport to Aberdeen, and from London Heathrow Airport to Leeds Bradford Airport, and Belfast Airport.

The airline is offering more flights and bigger aircraft to Scotland, adding around 27,000 more seats per week between London airports and Scotland destinations. The additional flights include two more daily flights between London Heathrow and Edinburgh, and two additional flights per day between London Heathrow and Aberdeen, as well as three daily flights between London City and Aberdeen.

New routes are also being offered from London Heathrow to Seoul (South Korea) and Zagreb (Republic of Croatia); from London Gatwick to Las Vegas (US) and Barcelona (Spain); and from London Heathrow to Bologna (Italy) and Marseille (France), which have been transferred from London Gatwick airport for the new season.

Keith Williams, the airline chief executive officer, said, ‘bmi’s integration into British Airways is really enabling us to grow our network as we promised, giving customers more flights to destinations we know they want to fly to.

We’re focusing on new routes such as Seoul, Leeds Bradford and Zagreb, more flights to popular destinations and creating more connections for the UK regions to our global network of flying.’

Marriott Opens Its First Hotel in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has welcomed its first Marriott hotel with the opening of the 243-room, JW Marriott Absheron Baku, in Baku, the country’s capital city.

Marriott International will be operating the hotel, which overlooks the Caspian Sea, under a management agreement with Yeni Absheron Oteli LLC.

Amy McPherson, president and managing director for Marriott International in Europe, said, ‘We are thrilled to grow our luxury JW Marriott portfolio in Europe and to open world-class hotels such as the JW Marriott Absheron Baku.

A dynamic and cosmopolitan city, Baku is a destination on the rise, experiencing impressive growth and a cultural rebirth. With its beautiful natural surroundings, fascinating history and vibrant nightlife, Baku is the perfect location to showcase our JW Marriott brand in Eastern Europe. Baku is fast becoming a new European and International hotspot and we see great opportunity to expand our portfolio here.’

The hotel is offering 243 guestrooms, including 15 Executive Studios and a Presidential Suite, which is claimed to have a luxurious but contemporary ambience. The hotel also has a business centre and 3,200 square meters of flexible meeting space for all kinds of corporate events, a relaxing spa with views of the sea, a 24-hour fitness centre and a rooftop indoor pool, as well as four dining options.

Azerbaijan is located at the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia and Baku alone has a population of 1.9 million people. The new JW Marriott Absheron Baku is located a 25 minutes drive from Heydar Aliyev International Airport.


Cruise Industry Implements New Safety Policies

Passengers are set to benefit from two new safety policies announced recently by the European Cruise Council, an industry association for cruise companies operating in Europe.

The European Cruise Council (ECC) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) have announced two new safety policies at the request of governments across the world, which will address the recording of passenger nationalities and the issuing of emergency instructions.

Christine Duffy, the president and chief executive officer of CLIA, said, ‘Our industry continues to actively identify a range of measures that will improve the safety of passengers and crew, which is the top priority of the cruise industry.

Ongoing innovation in safety has been a hallmark of our industry for decades and we are fully committed to continuous improvement in shipboard operations and safety. We are taking a holistic look at safety as has been evidenced by the breadth and scope of the numerous policies that have been developed and adopted as part of the Review since its launch earlier this year.’

The Nationality of Passengers policy will include the recording of the nationality of each passenger onboard, while the Common Elements of Musters and Emergency Instructions policy, will specify 12 common elements to be communicated to passengers during emergencies and routine muster procedures.

The chairman of the European Cruise Council, Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, said, ‘These new safety policies are representative of the industry’s commitment to raising standards across the global fleet and of our willingness to listen and act on good ideas brought forward by other interested stakeholders. Establishing common elements of a muster policy will provide our guests with the confidence that they are receiving the same key safety messages no matter which ship they cruise. Providing additional information on passengers’ nationality is a direct and immediate response to a good idea and, as with our other voluntary commitment, is applicable with immediate effect.’


Self-Healing Retreat Offers Respite For Divorcees

A retreat that is intended to help divorced men and women to learn how to rebuild their life after a marriage break-up will be held from September 15 to 17, 2012, at the Granlibakken Resort, in Tahoe City, US.

The event will set out to provide guidance to divorced people in taking back control of their lives and forming new relationships. The brainchild of journalist and author, Kimberly Pryor, the retreat will provide sessions with 12 relationship and self-empowerment experts who will instruct divorcees in how to come to terms with common problems after divorce, such as overcoming nervousness when dating, dealing with post-divorce anger and sadness, reconnecting with pastimes and hobbies, and many other problems that are typically encountered by divorced people from across the globe.

The retreat includes two nights’ accommodation at the resort, all meals, access to resort facilities, and retreat charges.

Kimberly Pryor, the retreat’s founder member, said, ‘I noticed some common problems among my divorced friends. Many of them were beating themselves up over the role they thought they had played in the break-up of their marriage. Others were happy the bad marriage ended but were either nervous about having to date again or when they did start dating again they would meet men or women who were not what I would call the highest quality.

Other friends’ children weren’t taking the divorce well-the kids were turning to drugs or doing poorly in school. My goal in hosting this retreat is to show divorced people easy ways to overcome these and other challenges.’


Luxurious Palais Namaskar Opens in Marrakech

Morocco has gained a new luxury hotel called the Palais Namaskar, which is located in Marrakech.

The new luxury hotel is a member of Leading Hotels of the World, and it is claimed to have an architectural style that incorporates contemporary aspects with old world charm.

The Palais Namaskar hotel has a total of 41 accommodation units, which include three types of room, four types of suite, two sets of luxury villas, and two upmarket palaces for those who want to enjoy the ultimate in luxurious living. The accommodation includes terraces, outdoor Jacuzzis and heated pools, and the luxury villas are inclusive of private pools and outdoor areas. The palaces come with private kitchens and butler service.

Le Spa Namaskar is offering a range of body treatments and signature luxury spa experiences at its four cabins with terraces, two cabins with private baths for couple spa experiences, and a special luxurious cabin for couples, in addition to an adjoining beauty salon and a separate fitness area that provides the services of yoga and fitness instructors.

The hotel has three dining venues, as well as in-room dining facilities; leisure facilities that include a nearby golf course; guided trips to local attractions; adventure trips; and private shopping tours with a personal shopper.

The hotel is located in a setting that includes 12 acres of gardens with around 4 acres of lakes, to provide desirable settings for events and festivities.

In an interview given earlier to BreakingTravelNews, Ted Teng, president of The Leading Hotels of the World, said, ‘We are pleased to welcome Palais Namaskar as a complement to our offer in Marrakech. This property also reinforces our partnership with Oetker Collection as Le Bristl in Paris and BrennersPark-Hotel & Spa, in Baden Baden have been long time members of our network.’


MSC Cruises Offers New Amenities and Sale Fares for Travellers

MSC Cruises, a US-based cruise company, is offering new complimentary upgrades on holiday sailings aboard the luxurious, MSC Poesia.

The cruise line is offering its guests complimentary upgrades from ocean view to balcony staterooms, or from balcony standard to balcony superior staterooms, on certain five-night and seven-night cruises through the Mediterranean, as part of its ‘Holidays on Sale’. The sale fares are available untilJuly 31, 2012, for prices commencing at GBP403 per person, for double occupancy.

Holidays on Sale itineraries include a Christmas Cruise departing December 21, 2012, calling at Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Mexico, and the Roatan Islands; a New Year’s Cruise departing December 28, 2012, calling at Antigua, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas; a Five-night Passover Cruise departing March 25, 2013, calling at the Cayman Islands and Jamaica; and an Easter Cruise departing March 30, 2013, calling at Mexico, Honduras, Cayman Islands, and Jamaica.

The company is also offering Europe Last Minute Sail fares commencing from GBP228 per person for double occupancy, to some of Europe’s most celebrated destinations, including those in Spain, France, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Germany, and Russia.

The company is also offering complimentary voyages for children aged 11 years and younger, while children aged 12 to 18 years can sail with paying parents for reduced rates. Four different Kids Club programmes are on offer on cruises, each catering for a different age group.

For passengers booking a Standard Balcony Suite on certain voyages, the company is offering a number of exclusive amenities, including complimentary wines and beverages, access to an exclusive restaurant, lounge and swimming pool, and Butler and Concierge services. The cruises also provide various entertainment programmes.


British Airways Passengers Favour Caribbean as Summer Holiday Destination

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, has announced that a recent poll of its passengers has suggested that the Caribbean tops the list of favourite summer holiday destinations.

The survey of passengers showed that while Caribbean holidays are becoming ever more popular, they are closely followed by destinations that include South Africa and Florida, in the US, and other favourite vacation destinations include London and the Maldives.

Respondents to the survey also chose ‘a relaxing beach vacation’ as their favourite kind of holiday, in preference to ‘romantic city-breaks’, ‘fun-filled family getaways’, or ‘an all-action adventure trip’.

British Airways organised the survey on its Facebook page.

Claire Bentley, the airline’s holidays managing director, said, ‘The thought of relaxing on a stunning beach, in the warm and friendly Caribbean is a real draw as the summer weather continues to be a bit of a letdown. Equally, South Africa is a real dream destination with Cape Town, Table Mountain and the Garden route all top attractions, while Florida is proving as popular as ever as an all-round destination with fantastic beaches, great attractions and weather.

We’ve had a great response to our Facebook poll which just shows how important holidays are to people.’

The airline is currently serving several Caribbean destinations with extra flights from London Gatwick Airport for the summer, in keeping with the increased demand for the routes. Service to Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua, in the Caribbean, have been increased to daily, and an extra flight a week has been added to Kingston in Jamaica. The airline is also offering three extra flights to Orlando, in Florida, US, for a total of 10 flights weekly.


Sonesta ES Suites Opens Three New Properties

Sonesta ES Suites has opened three new properties; the new Sonesta ES Suites Atlanta has opened in Atlanta,US; the Sonesta ES Suites Houston, in Houston, US;  and the Sonesta ES Suites St Louis, in St Louis,US.

Sonesta ES Suites is a brand from Sonesta International Hotels, a US-based hospitality company with properties in North and South America, Africa, and the Caribbean.

The new 122-room Sonesta ES Suites Atlanta is offering one and two bedroom suite accommodation, each with a work area, a kitchen, and complimentary high-speed wireless Internet access.

The 106-room Sonesta ES Suites St. Louis is located close to Lambert International Airport and the Spirit of St. Louis Airport in the US.

The 93-room Sonesta ES Suites Houston is located near the Houston Galleria and George R Brown Convention Center, in Houston.

The new hotels have been re-branded from the Staybridge Suites brand, and are also offering an outdoor swimming pool, a 24-hour exercise room, a sports court, a seasonal BBQ grille, a guest laundry, meeting spaces, and a 24-hour business centre, as well as daily complimentary breakfast for their guests.

The Sonesta Collection, an established company brand, consists of upmarket hotels, resorts and cruises which are currently located in Baltimore, Boston, Hilton Head Island, Miami, and New Orleans, in US;  Saint Maarten, in the Caribbean;  as well as in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Egypt.

The group claims that each of its hotels adopts locally inspired decor and cuisine, provides luxury accommodation and efficient customer service to create the ultimate guest experience.