UK Tourists Booking in Advance for 2013

January is a popular month for British holidaymakers to plan the coming year’s vacations in advance. With the seasonal festivals finally over, and expenditure accounted for, many British tourists book their holidays in January, to ward off post-festivity depression.

In 2012, around 8.7 million UK adults had booked their holidays for 2012 by February 1. According to Direct Line January sales report, around 8.9 million UK residents are already searching for bargains in 2013, before 2012 is even over.

Thomas Cook, a travel company based in the UK, is reporting that some of the most popular destinations for 2013 are Ibiza, Rhodes, and Cyprus.

Ibiza Town, the capital of Ibiza, is famous for its dance parties, and they draw a huge number of young tourists to the country. It is also a popular venue for the musicians, and DJs of the world, thanks to its musical parties. Ibiza holidays are also suitable for families, individuals, or large groups.

Rhodes, in Greece, is also a venue that offers plenty of sunshine to sun-starved UK holidaymakers. In addition to its active nightlife, the venue is also popular for its historical sites. Travellers are recommended to book well in advance for cheap holidays to Rhodes, to avoid escalating prices and overbooking disappointments.

Cyprus, an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, close to Greece, is also a favourite destination for British travellers in 2013. Cyprus is a member of the EEA (European Economic Area), and as an EEA national, UK residents do not need a visa, and on arriving in the country there is only a short passport or identity card check. Cyprus offers coastal beaches that are set against a mountainous terrain. The country also offers around 50 boutique wineries, as well as bars and restaurants that are open until the early hours of the morning.

The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane Awarded Best UK Day Spa

The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane has recently been awarded the Best UK Day Spa at the SPA Traveller Awards 2012.

The hotel’s rooftop spa has a viewing terrace, a fitness centre, and nine luxurious fitness rooms, each with its own private relaxation pods. The spa is offering a new menu for New Year 2013, with around 40 individual body and facial treatments, and a wide range of Spa Day packages, in partnership with ESPA, Omorovicza, The Organic Pharmacy, Vaishaly and CACI. The spa’s patrons can also buy gift certificates for their friends and relatives, online or by making a personal visit to the spa itself.

The hotel is located in the heart of Mayfair, across from Hyde Park and close to the sights and experiences of the city of London. The hotel is offering 193 luxury guest rooms, including 46 one, two and three-bedroom suites for guests. The hotel amenities include airport transfers, wireless and wired Internet connections, complimentary newspapers and shoeshines.

The hotel Concierge team is available to arrange a number of activities for families to enjoy, including horseback riding in Hyde Park, viewing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and arranging tickets to the newest exhibitions and shows.

The New Year’s Eve party tonight commences in the Amaranto Bar with a six-course dinner for £246.00 per person. Live music is offered by the Bessame Mucho quartet. The New Year’s Day Brunch buffet is priced at £96.00 per adult, and £48.00 per child.

British Airways Extends Services to Toronto

British Airways, the UK based airline, will be increasing its flights to Toronto, Canada, from London Heathrow airport in the UK.

The airline will be offering its extended schedule of services from March 31, 2013, with additional flights on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays, taking the total weekly flights on the route to 17. The new service will be operated with a B767-300 aircraft, with fares including Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (premium economy), and World Traveller (economy class).

The flights will be departing from London Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The extended service is also intended to assist customers flying to other European destinations of Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Istanbul.

Previously, British Airways announced new flights to Chengdu, in China, also from London Heathrow airport.

The new three times weekly service commences from September 22, 2013, and the airline will be the first carrier to offer a service between London and Chengdu. Currently the airline services to china include flights to Beijing and Shanghai, on the Chinese mainland, and to the island of Hong Kong.

To celebrate the new service, the airline is offering airfares to Chengdu for £508 on all bookings made by January 6, 2013. The service utilises a four-cabin Boeing 777 aircraft with First, Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller (economy) seating.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive officer of IAG, the airline’s parent company, said, ‘I have visited China on many occasions and last year went to Chengdu to see for myself the progress that has been made at the airport. It is truly impressive and shows vision and ambition.

I am delighted to announce this new route, which demonstrates the importance of mainland China to British Airways and our commitment to grow our presence here.’

Brazilians are New Year party favourites

The nationality that the rest of the world wants to party with at New Year are Brazilians, according to the findings of a recent survey.

The survey, which was carried out by Badoo.com, a social network site that has 168 million users in more than 180 countries, and which claims to offer a platform for chatting, dating, and meeting new people, was conducted with 17,000 people from 17 countries. It asked which nationality the rest of the world would most like to share their New Year celebrations with. Brazilians emerged as the clear favourites, followed in order by Americans, Spaniards, Italians and French. Belgians and Swiss took the bottom two positions.

Reuters quoted Badoo director, Louise Thompson, as saying, ‘This seems harsh on the Swiss and Belgians, but I can understand that most people would rather celebrate New Year’s Eve on a beach in Brazil than by huddling against the cold in northern Europe.’

The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro celebrates the New Year with a massive firework display above Copacabana Beach, and over one million revellers take to the streets in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo.

Australia will be among the first countries to celebrate the New Year, with a firework display around its famous Sydney harbour. Then 2013 will be welcomed in a succession of countries and across all continents as the midnight deadline moves around the globe. London will commence its celebrations a full 11 hours after Sydney, and New York’s revelries will begin five hours later still.

 

QM2 passengers hit by norovirus

Up to 200 passengers aboard the luxury cruise liner, Queen Mary 2 have contracted norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug.

The ship, which is owned by British-American cruise line company, Cunard, is on a 13-night luxury Christmas tour of the Caribbean, after leaving New York on Saturday, December 22. Approximately 2,600 passengers are on the GBP550m ship, with ticket prices costing as much as GBP5,000 per person.

Reports claim that several of the 200 victims of the illness began to suffer the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea within hours of the ship leaving port. Efforts are being made to contain the infection by isolating those that have been diagnosed in their cabins, and hand-to-hand contact with other passengers and items such as salt and pepper shakers is being discouraged.

The Daily Mail quoted Michele Andjel, spokeswoman for Carnival, as saying, ‘Enhanced sanitation protocols have been employed to help minimise transmission to other passengers. The safety and comfort of passengers and crew is always our number one priority. As is currently standard procedure across our fleet, all the ship’s passengers were provided with a precautionary health notice advising of widespread norovirus activity and the health measures to avoid contraction and spread, both on board and whilst ashore.’

The infection aboard the QM2 is the latest in a number of similar incidents that have plagued the cruise industry of late. It also follows a report last year by US sanitation inspectors who, following a spot-check on the QM2, described it as ‘filthy’ due to a number of problems including dirty water in a splash pool and fruit flies and cockroaches in a storage locker.

The liner, which is currently in the Dominican Republic, is due to return to New York on January 4, following further stopovers in St. Lucia, Barbados and St. Kitts.

 

Royal Caribbean orders mega cruise liner

Royal Caribbean International, a subsidiary of Norwegian-American global cruise company, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (NYSE:RCL, OSE:RCL), has ordered a third Oasis-class ship that is to be built in France.

The new vessel is to be built at STX France’s St. Nazaire shipyard and be delivered by mid-2016, and the company has an option for a fourth vessel with a 2018 delivery.

The Oasis-class vessels are 225,282 tons, have 16 decks and 2,700 staterooms to accommodate 5,400 passengers. Like its two sister ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, the Oasis of the Seas and the Allure of the Seas, the new ship is expected to have twelve or more restaurants, four swimming pools, tree-lined promenades and a wide range of leisure activities to suit all age groups.

The chairman of Royal Caribbean, Richard Fain, said, ‘The Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas have fundamentally transformed the cruise experience for our guests. These ships have consistently generated outstanding guest satisfaction ratings and continue to produce superior financial results. We are thrilled to be adding a sister to this extraordinary class of vessels at a compelling price. Being back building in France just adds to the pleasure.’

The company’s president and chief executive, Adam Goldstein, commented, ‘As the cruise line that revolutionised the industry with the FlowRider surf simulator, ice-skating rinks, cantilevered whirlpools and rock climbing walls, we are eager to add this third award winning Oasis-class ship to our brand portfolio. This addition will allow us to showcase our legacy of innovation and imagination to even more guests around the world.’

Royal Caribbean’s existing vessels sail from Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, on a weekly basis.

 

Snow storm causes US travel chaos

A major winter storm that has been tracking across the USA is causing serious travel disruption and is expected to bring still more chaos to northern and eastern states.

Thousands of travellers have been stranded at airports due to the wholesale cancellation of flight schedules. The US Midwest has seen the most disruption until now, but the east coast is bracing itself for disruption along its entire length, from Florida to New England.

Flightaware.com has reported that 360 flights have already been cancelled on Thursday December 27, while 1,780 flights were cancelled on Wednesday. The worst affected areas on Wednesday were Indianapolis, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Washington, New York and Cleveland.

News station, WFAA, carried a statement from Cynthia Vega, spokeswoman for Dallas Fort Worth international airport, saying, ‘(Tuesday’s) rapid snowfall, ice and winds required us to implement a de-icing program and severely hampered our ability to safely service aircraft as we normally would.’

At least six people are known to have died due to the severe weather, which is expected to continue moving across the country through Thursday and into Friday, bringing further disruption to the northeast. A statement on the US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration website reads, ‘A potent storm system will continue to move through the northeast United States. Additional heavy snowfall will be focused from Upstate New York and Lake Ontario into New England through Thursday night or Friday Morning, where widespread accumulations over a foot are expected. As much as two feet of total snow is possible in central Maine. This will lead to hazardous travel conditions.’

 

World’s longest high-speed rail line opens in China

The world’s longest high-speed rail line was opened yesterday in China.

The 1,428-mile line from Beijing to Guangzhou commenced operations on December 26, and immediately reduced the travel time by rail between the two cities to an impressive 8 hours, from the previous duration of nearly 24 hours.

The dramatic improvement is made possible by trains that that are capable of travelling at 186mph, as they journey through five provinces and visit thirty-five cities. State news claims that 155 pairs of trains will operate on the route every day, but older trains will also remain in service.

However, the massive project has not been without its problems, with a bullet train crash claiming forty victims, heavy rain causing a section of rail to collapse, and corruption leading to the sacking of one official.

The project’s cost has also been astronomical, and the railway ministry is one of China’s heaviest borrowers, believed to be GBP190bn in debt, and having lost GBP874m in the first half of this year. Although the total cost of the line has not been revealed, the section between Wuhan and Guanzhou was reported by the Chinese media to have cost in the region of GBP11.56bn.

The high cost of the line means that travellers will be made to carry the burden in ticket prices. Standard seats cost GBP86, while business class tickets cost GBP270, more than a month’s wage for an average Chinese worker.

The opening of the line is only the latest development in China’s on-going plans to expand its rail system. It is intended that the Beijing-Guangzhou line will eventually be extended to Hong Kong.

 

Chinese to scrap QE2

The QE2, once the pride of cruise company Cunard’s fleet, is to be sold to the Chinese for scrap.

The GBP20m scrap deal follows the apparent collapse of a proposal to bring the ship back to the UK from its present mooring in Dubai, with the intention of turning it into a floating 5-star hotel. Investors had intended to moor the ship on the Thames, opposite the O2 Arena, and had presented a proposal to Dubai World, the owner of the vessel since its purchase for GBP64m in 2007.

However, it now appears that a separate deal has been done with a Chinese breaking yard, and the Daily Mail has reported that a twenty-strong Chinese crew is already on board the ship.

The newspaper quoted Roger Murray of QE2 London, saying, ‘We have been told the ship is going to be put into a dry dock before being taken to an unknown destination in the far east. That is a tragedy because it almost certainly means the QE2 is being sold as scrap. Our investors were going to give GBP20 million for the ship itself, plus GBP60 million for renovation and the cost of bringing the ship back to Britain. But the ship could raise as much as GBP20 million as dead weight scrap, and the Chinese cash would be immediate.’

Alaric Errington, a spokesman for Equity in Finance, the organisation that was leading the investment consortium behind the QE2 London bid, said, ‘This is a fantastic opportunity and we put forward a very commanding commercial proposition that was designed to give Dubai a future return. The QE2 is an icon but our proposal also makes business sense. The cost of renovating the QE2 and bringing it back to the UK is no more than acquiring land in central London to build a luxury hotel.’

Selling the vessel for scrap appears to be at odds with the agreement signed in 2007 by Istithmar, part of the state conglomerate, Dubai World, which included a clause that the ship would not be sold on for at least 10 years, but Dubai World believe that ‘a contract modification could be agreed’, according to the report.

The UK hotel project had the potential to create up to 2,000 new jobs.

 

Indulge Your Family with Holidays in Cyprus and Turkey

There’s nothing like giving the whole family something to look forward to. With these fabulous five star hotels in Cyprus and Turkey, there’s something for every member of your family to enjoy. Why not book a holiday with your loved ones and make memories that will remain with you all forever?

The Hotel Elysium, Paphos

This five star wonder is situated on a Mediterranean beach, looking out onto a blissful, blue paradise. Perfect for the whole family, it boasts a fabulous spa with some divine all-over-body treatments, a diving school, car rental, a hairdressing salon, 6 restaurants, and several top range shops amongst other exciting facilities.

With a choice of many types of room, from deluxe rooms to family suites, maisonettes, studios and villas, there is space to make every family happy on holiday. There are plenty of amenities, including LCD TV, luxurious bathrobes and slippers, and complimentary toiletries.

Find out more about Elysium Hotel, Paphos at Jet2holidays.com

Four Seasons, Limassol

With its 20th anniversary in 2013, the Four Seasons is a five star hotel in a class of its own. The pinnacle of luxury, this hotel has 304 rooms, 6 restaurants – several of which are award winning – and 4 bars, while its placement on a superbly clean Blue Flag awarded beach makes it extra special. It also hosts a spa facility featuring seaweed body masks and anti-ageing treatments, and a fully equipped sports and fitness centre.

With accommodation featuring luxury en suite facilities, huge LCD TVs, wireless internet, play stations, baby monitoring devices and private balconies, the Four Seasons is fully aware of the needs of a family and there is plenty of room – the more, the merrier!

Find out more about Four Seasons, Limassol at Jet2holidays.com

Hilton Resort & Spa, Dalaman

If you’ve ever fancied living in the lap of luxury, Dalaman’s Hilton Resort is it. For family indulgence, a lovely open suite with its own private balcony could be just the ticket.

Dining in style is at the fore with a variety of restaurants, including the TAO, with contemporary Far Eastern and Asian meals, all day dining at the Pianoforte, Italian delicacies to be enjoyed at the Alize and a fine rooftop bar for the evenings.

Not only is there a well-equipped fitness centre and a top range spa, there are many other activities available to guests including horse riding, water skiing, and of course, swimming in the Dead Sea is a highly therapeutic activity, recommended for centuries by travellers.

Find out more about Hilton resort & spa, Dalaman at Jet2holidays.com

These hotels can be booked through a number of travel operators, including package deal specialists Jet2holidays. There’s no excuse not to!