Sent by S Gauld
Based in Bicester
Hello and welcome. My name is Collette, and as your Travel Counsellor, I can help with any travel plans you have. I am available to discuss your travel requirements whenever is convenient to you, including weekends and evenings.
I live in Bicester, Oxfordshire, with my husband, just us now as our daughter has moved out. I have a passion for, and love to chat about, all things travel. I have been in the industry for over 40 years, 18 of which were with a high street agency. I have had the pleasure of helping so many clients find their dream holiday and love to hear all about it on their return.
I have been lucky enough to travel to some wonderful destinations including India’s Golden Triangle, California taking in the beautiful coastline and Yosemite, Las Vegas, Boston, New York, Washington and all over Florida including the Keys and Gulf Coast. I have visited Antigua, St Kitts, Nevis, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean and travelled extensively through Europe, including a visit to Santa in Lapland. I have also been able to take a cruise in the Mediterranean, and in the Caribbean. I have visited Vancouver and plan to visit Canada more in the future.
These experiences combined with being an independent Travel Counsellor, where I have access to many different suppliers, help me to source the best options to suit your individual requirements and budget. Of course, for your peace of mind everything is financially protected by the Travel Counsellors’ Financial Trust and ATOL.
I love my job and I pride myself on my customer service and attention to detail, taking care of all my clients’ travel needs from start to finish. So whether you are looking to get married abroad or taking a cruise, want a last-minute city break or ski trip, a round the world bespoke itinerary, safari, beach holiday, a UK break - or you just need some impartial advice to start planning your next adventure - please get in touch either by phone or email and let me take the stress out of organising your dream holiday.
I really look forward to hearing from you.
Recently we've added some exciting new properties to our collection, from sought after destinations across Europe.
Could this be your idyllic palm-fringed paradise? The only resort on the remote Laamu Atoll in the southern Maldives.
Five star luxury and they are members of The Leading Hotels of the World, set on the most exclusive waterfront location on Crete.
Take a look at what is waiting for you in Rwanda! Get in touch to plan your bucket list adventure!
I know we are all waiting for the world to open again and we need something to look forward to! email@example.com
When the time is right and you wish to travel again, when you are looking to book please do get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org 01869 868450
Trust me to be with you every step of the way until you are back from that amazing holiday! I have you covered.
I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.
18 February 2020
Looking for a different weekend break in Europe? What about Ghent in Belgium by Eurostar? We have been twice now and really enjoy our visits. Ghent is easy to get to. We travelled on the direct Eurostar to Brussels from St Pancras. I recommend, if budget allows, you upgrade to 1st class as you get more space a meal included. After a quick change of train in Brussels we headed to Ghent. We were booked into the Marriott hotel there which is situated a short tram ride away from the station in the Old town on the canal. It really is a very pretty situation, especially at night. We were there during the Christmas Market season, so there was plenty of stalls with lots of seasonal offerings to enjoy....not to mention the Belgium beer! Ghent is a safe city to wander around, take in the short boat trip on the canal. Enjoy a tasty meal, visit the pretty churches and enjoy the wonderful architecture of the city. I would suggest on your return journey back, take time to stop in Brussels and visit the Grand Place which is a wonderful square surrounded by beautiful buildings. Then catch your direct train back to London. Short but a sweet visit....
11 December 2019
We went to Dubrovnik for 4 nights in October. We were very lucky with the weather it was gloriously hot the whole time we were there. Even though it was the end of the summer season where we stayed, there were still plenty of bars and restaurants open. We stayed in Lapad in the hotel Kompas, which is a lovely 4 star hotel. Worth paying extra for the sea view room. The breakfast was served as a buffet and had everything, hot and cold, you could want to set you up for the day. We did not bother eating in the hotel for dinner as the evening buffet was very limited (e had booked only BB) and there are many choices outside the hotel within a 5 minute stroll. The hotel is on the promenade where you can take a walk along the coast, which is beautiful. Turn right our of the hotel and head to the Cave bar which is, as it sounds, built into the caves. Turn left and you are surrounded by bars and restaurants to choose from. Head up to the main road to catch the bus directly to Dubrovnik. It drops you at the main entrance to the Old Town and is only around £2.50 per person return. Just get the tickets from any TABAC as much more to pay the driver. Dubrovnik itself was very busy with cruise ships in and the Game of Thrones interest now. We wandered the side streets which were so nice and a lot quieter. We took a boat ride out around the bay, thoroughly enjoyed that, seeing Dubrovnik from the sea. Take a drink on the marina and watch the world go by! We visited the Maritime Museum and the 16th Century Sponza Palace which was very interesting and I would recommend. If you plan to visit lots of museums then consider getting a Dubrovnik pass as that gives you entrance at a reduced rate. I did find Dubrovnik expensive compared to other parts of Croatia I have visited but I would recommend it for a visit.
15 August 2019
We went on a short 5-night break to Crete in July and really enjoyed our first visit there. We flew from Birmingham and had a short transfer of around 30mins to our hotel the Knossos Beach Bungalows and Suites. Perfect for a short trip and to visit Heraklion as the bus stop was right outside the hotel 2E and we were in there within 30mins! We visited the Palace Knossos itself and worth a visit at 15E per person entrance. We used the hop on hop off bus as it went all the way out there and we got to see and learn a bit more about the history of Crete and Heraklion. The hotel we stayed in is more adult focused - children are welcomed but as it is a smallish family run hotel - the owner "lives" there and is nearly 100 years old! Her family run it now. It does not have kids’ clubs or entertainment. We had a piano player and singer a couple of nights, but mostly it was sitting and enjoying the wine and watching the sunset! There is a buffet restaurant on site and two a la carte restaurants as well. Would I go back to Crete? Most definitely and would visit some more of the Island. But as a taster it was perfect for what we wanted!
27 April 2019
We headed to Gatwick for our late flights to Florence with Vueling airlines- think Easyjet but Spanish. I could not fault the aircraft or staff and the flight left on time - always a bonus! On arrival in Florence we opted for just grabbing a taxi to the hotel as they have a set €22 fee with an extra charge for luggage at €1 per bag so with tip it cost us €30. We stayed at the Pitti Palace hotel which is a traditional 4 four star hotel situated over the water on the entrance to the Ponte Vecchio bridge. After check in, we headed to our room and were pleasantly surprised to have been given a superior triple (room 215) which meant we had a double room with a single room attached and a bathroom between us - perfect for us three adults. It had a kettle and minibar (water 2 euros) so excellent value. It also had a small balcony, not much of a view (just to the street) but was nice to sit outside and take in the atmosphere. In the evening, we headed to a local restaurant that we had pre-booked as we were arriving late and walked past a few others that were busy for a Sunday night! After a lovely meal, in an unusual restaurant that doubled as a cookery school and shop, we went off to bed so we went ready for our first day. Up early for breakfast on the 6th floor - what a view from there! We decided to take breakfast out on the terrace which was covered but gave a great view of the city. Breakfast consisted of a good selection of cold meats, cheeses, veg, fruit, breads, cereals, yoghurts, pastries and cakes, as well as eggs and bacon. Coffee and tea machines with fruit juices. They also had a fresh large honeycomb with local honey ready for you to spread on your bread, which was very popular. Set up for the day we headed over the bridge to the city and took in the views. It was a 10min walk to the Duomo that was heaving with tourists. We wandered around took pictures of everything and explored the Piazza Della Signoria taking in the replica of the statue of David as well as a whole section of statues they did not know what to do with so put them there. The inside of the Palazzo Vecchio with some lovely drawings on the wall of other cities around the world - bit like the holiday snaps from years ago! We then took the hotel's suggested walking tours that they had given us at check in on a little map. There were a choice of five different routings which were great as they took us down streets which we probably would not have explored, so we saw lots of the lesser known buildings and churches as well. The artwork in them was outstanding. We ended up in the Mercato Centrals building which is an inside two storey market place with an abundance of stalls selling everything and anything you can eat for you to purchase. The second storey has restaurants cooking all this food, the choice was amazing, you would definitely find something there to eat for sure! That evening we had some drinks on the 6th floor terrace as the breakfast room converts into a popular dinner restaurant but we had booked a restaurant 10mins from our hotel with a view of the Arno river and spent a lovely evening listening to live Jazz whilst we ate food like it was going out of fashion. We finished our evening having a evening stroll around in the quiet taking in the views without anyone around. We made the right decision to stay this side of the city as there are less tourists more restaurants and bars where the locals hang out. The following day we had pre-reserved tickets for the Uffizi Gallery. The queues were long but moved quickly but I recommend you book your time slot before leaving the UK. We spent a couple of hours wandering around there in the afternoon. We headed up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, bit of a trudge up there but the views were worth it before heading off for dinner in a square we had found around 15mins from our hotel down some little streets that was full of locals out for the evening meeting their friends, walking their dogs etc so away from the tourist trap restaurants. The pizzas were great and we enjoyed just chilling - I love to people to watch so was very happy. Late gelatos were calling so the other two went off to find some before we headed to bed. Our return flight was booked for 14.00hrs the next day so there was just time after breakfast to have a quick couple of hours for a last wander around before our hotel organized us a taxi back to the airport for our flight home. It was a lovely break - I would recommend a 2-3 nights stay. If you would like to go, please get in touch!
27 April 2019
One place my family love to visit is Florida. Myself and my husband have been going since 1988 and introduced our daughter to Disney when she was 9 months old. She is 24 now and we have just again visited for the umpteenth time! We do not just do Disney, we have travelled all over the state visiting as far south as the Keys, we've stayed in Fort Lauderdale and Clearwater, had a villa on Anna Maria Island and loved exploring Sanibel and Captiva Islands. It is not all about Disney, however for this blog I will mostly be covering hints and tips for "doing" the happiest place on earth holiday at Disney. The first time we visited we stayed with family all those years ago, but soon opted for motels and hotels on subsequent stays. When we took our daughter we had a villa but the next time we stayed on site at Disney and have never looked back. The ease of staying on site more than enough justifies the extra cost however there are pros and cons with all types of accommodation, so you need to think what will work best for your family. Staying in a villa one of the popular options, as most have a private pool and are within easy drive of all the parks. What can be better than starting or finishing your day taking a dip in your own pool. They are not heated pools as there is no need most of the year but in the colder winter months you could look at paying the extra to have them heated. The pros of a villa is you have to have a car as you are staying in residential areas. This, in itself, is not costly however you do need to pay for parking at all the theme parks around $20 a time so factor that in. Also if you are two families sharing with only one car you do have to spend all your time together - so you might want to have two smaller cars so that each family do not feel that they are joined to the hip of the other. Staying in an off site hotel is another option. If you choose a hotel with shuttles to the parks this can work well. If you stay near or on International Drive there are plenty of restaurants around that you can eat in if you wish not to eat in your hotel. Cons of staying off site are you are stuck with the hotel shuttle bus timetable which can be limited and maybe not run as late as you would like. Staying on site is always my choice now. We have been lucky enough to stay in the All Stars Sports, Yacht Club, Coronado Springs and Port Orleans Riverside. Our favourite is the Port Orleans Riverside which is a moderate resort. It is situated close to Disney Springs (was called Downtown Disney) It is linked by boat and really is a pleasant journey down. You do not feel that Disney is taking over, it does have a relaxed feel about it all. All the theme and water parks are linked to the hotel by regular direct buses that Disney run throughout their resorts. Bear in mind that the Disney resort area is as big as Greater Manchester! All hotels have direct buses, boats or monorails. Each hotel room at all hotels are mostly two double beds and their decoration takes on the "theme" of the hotel you are staying in. All the hotels are large and have lots of rooms spread around. In Port Orleans they have little quiet pools dotted between room blocks as well as the main pool area so plenty of choice if you fancy some time away from the parks. As does the Coronado Springs where we have stayed most recently. This hotel has a convention centre making it more of a corporate feel hotel, so if you are an "adult family" this might be a nice option as not so many families with younger children stay here. All theme and water parks are reached by direct buses. The rooms are around a large Lagoon that they are currently building an over the water restaurant and another block of rooms. This should all be finished soon but was not a problem when we were last there. Again, pools dotted around as well as one main one. Of course you can splash out and go for one of the deluxe resort hotels. Our favourite is the Yacht Club which is walking distance to Epcot or a boat to the Hollywood Studios. It is across the lagoon from Boardwalk which is a great place to take time to visit and is near the Swan and Dolphin hotels. The Animal Kingdom is where they have their own mini Savannah with animals. Wherever you choose to stay you can visit any Disney hotel to have a look around or stop for a drink (more about that later!) Take the Monorail and do the grand loop of the Lagoon which stops at the Grand Floridian, Polynesian Resort and stops inside the Contemporary hotel, yes the Monorail actually goes inside this hotel, this is where you will find Chef Mickey's for character dining and the fantastic California Grill restaurant. This hotel is within walking distance of Magic Kingdom. Most of the Deluxe hotels offer character breakfast that you must pre-book before going all with different characters. However, I would say my favourite and we consider the best is in the Magic Kingdom Crystal restaurant with Winnie the Pooh and friends. I will cover dining in another blog, but for now I hope that this might help you decide where to stay. There are plenty of other on site properties but I just wanted to cover some of the most popular ones. Whichever Disney hotel you stay at you will not need a car to get around. The airport transfers are also included with the Disney Magical Express. I know that you will have a magical time wherever you stay be it in a villa, off site or on site. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you are planning to go I'm happy to help!
27 January 2019
I travelled to Tallinn in November for three nights and so enjoyed my trip. I flew direct from Gatwick. On arrival I had arranged a transfer to meet us and take us to the hotel took approx. 25mins away. Our hotel Schlossle was right in the Old Town. The hotel is a lovely boutique hotel, just a few steps from Old Town Square. On arrival we were greeted with a lovely glass of fizz. The reception area doubles as the lounge area with a roaring real fire and soft comfortable sofas. There is no bar as such, but you can while away the hours on the sofa and order drinks from the staff as and when. The building itself dates back to Medieval times. The room was perfect for our needs with a large walk in shower. The room overlooked the internal courtyard where, in Summer months, they extend their restaurant to. Breakfast was served in the lower floor room and was cold buffet style and then you could order from the menu hot choices of eggs etc. We explored Tallinn on foot as this is the best way to do it. It is a small and safe city. You can pick up a free walking tour from the tourist office starting at 11am most days and it is worth doing. The town is split into upper and lower Tallinn. A real mixture of medieval streets and spires. It has an interesting history having had Danish, Swedish, Polish, German and Soviets invaders, all leaving a bit of their culture behind when they left. Now a thriving city in its own right - Skype was invented here! It is a city worth a visit for sure, enjoy sitting outside one of the cafés on town square and watch the world go by. Take in the atmosphere. If you would like to visit get in touch!
27 January 2019
We went to Washington DC for three nights in December. After a comfortable flight from Heathrow and a transfer of around one hour we arrived at our hotel in Georgetown, The Fairmont. A great setting walkable to Georgetown high street and buses easy to get from there around Washington or there was a taxi rank right outside if required. We had breakfast in the hotel, a fantastic buffet, but you can just as easily take a stroll and go out for breakfast. Try to visit some of the museums there. We fitted in the Natural History and Air and Space Museums. We did the hop on hop off bus and I would recommend it for sure. It takes you around the all the city sites and right out to Arlington as well. We walked miles so wear comfy shoes. If you are able, visit the Capitol building. You can go inside on a tour and actually see the inside of the dome as well as the rooms where history was made. The Lincoln Memorial is a site to behold, visit early in the morning before it gets crowded there and then walk towards the Capitol building via the WW2 memorial. It really was a lovely morning. Take the bus out to Arlington and stay a while in the cemetery. After three nights we took to train to New York. It’s really better to do than fly, you can go first class for extra comfort and not much more! Brace yourself when you arrive in Penn station as it really is a crazy city especially coming from Washington DC where it is a lot quieter! We stayed in the Novotel Times Square. Rooms are small but they all are in New York. Everything we needed was there though. The hotel has a restaurant that has an outside area with views over Times Sq. Again, take the hop on/hop off bus as it gets you around the city. It takes you out to Harlem as well as over to Brooklyn. We had a city cruise included which took in the Statue of Liberty. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge too. Visit the 9/11 memorial. Take in a show. There is so much to do there! If you would like to visit give me a call!
21 January 2019
We flew from Birmingham to Rome in July and I must say I loved it! Everywhere you looked there was something to see. Every corner seemed to have glimpse back into the past. We found the people very friendly, but service was slow everywhere so be prepared to enjoy lunch at a leisurely pace - the Italian way! We went in July and it was very very hot so drink plenty of water! Rome airport on arrival is chaos so be prepared. But just keep heading to the arrivals hall where eventually you will find your driver for you transfer. The accommodation I booked was just off the Via Nationale so very central and we walked miles – wear comfy shoes! The hotel was a little boutique 4 star called the Rome Times hotel. Great little breakfast room that doubled up as a bar and restaurant in the evening. The put our free little canapes from around 5pm as well to go with your glass of wine. Breakfast had everything you needed, enough to set you up for the day. Within 15 mins stroll of the hotel we found a little square surrounded by restaurants where the locals congregated in the evening to share a glass or two and all their news, it had such a lovely atmosphere that we ate there every night choosing a different restaurant each time. We booked the hop on hop off bus to use and I would recommend it to get around the city – sit on the top as you get a better view. We also had a guided tour of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum pre-booked that saved us lots of queuing time for tickets. The guide was very informative, maybe did go on a bit too long but you could leave the group early if you wished. We also pre-booked skip the line tickets for the Vatican and really jumped the queues! Leave yourself plenty of time to get to the airport on your way home as the traffic can be a nightmare and took us over an hour. If you fancy a visit to Rome? Get in touch.
13 June 2018
What fun I had visiting Antigua, St Kitts and Nevis. I flew with BA from their new terminal at Gatwick South and was impressed with the speed of check in and layout. After a 9-hour flight we landed in Antigua, but as we were visiting St Kitts first, we stayed on the plane whilst passengers got off, then took a short 20min flight onwards to St Kitts. What a beautiful island. We were met by hot weather and a lovely steel band welcoming us to the island! I felt very privileged! After a short 25min transfer we arrived at the lovely new hotel Park Hyatt. Set on the beach with a great selection of room types, the views are of Nevis straight opposite and could not have been better. We managed to stay awake (they are 5 hours behind the UK) for a very tasty dinner in the adult only restaurant the Stone Barn which has an open kitchen, and everything is cooked in a stone oven. Then we all hit our beds ready for the next day. After a very peaceful and comfortable sleep, we headed for breakfast in the Great House. The setting is glorious with sea and Nevis views. You can sit inside or out depending on your mood. It is a buffet breakfast which had everything you could want and more. We ate like we had never eaten before! After breakfast we were met by Sir Walter (yes that's his name) and taken on a tour in his jolly safari open vehicle which was great fun. We whizzed around the main town Basseterre before switching to our minibus to continue to Fairview Inn which is set up as a museum of times past. They host weddings and events there and you can do cookery classes and of course be forced to try their rum! At 10.30am (but of course 3.30pm in UK so why not!) Afterwards, I was glad I had had the rum as I was taken to zip line down a mountain, something I would never do as I have a great fear of heights. I’m surprised you didn't hear me screaming back here. We then had a brief stop at Romney Manor to see the ladies painting the Batik. We headed off for lunch afterwards to the beautiful Belle Mont Farm Boutique hotel. Complete with its own 18-hole golf course and 2-bedroom villas all with their own plunge pool and views of the sea as it is based up in the hills. What a view! Afterwards we headed back to our hotel to quickly get changed and straight out to an evening of meeting local hoteliers and ground agents with some great entertainment of traditional dancers and stilt walkers. A late dinner at a local restaurant Maxwell’s finished the evening off. Next morning, all packed ready to check out, we had breakfast and headed into Frigate bay to visit the Marriott, Royal St Kitts, Timothy Beach and Ocean Terrace Inn hotels. All are completely different to each other. Royal St Kitts is great for a self-catering option within walking distance of the "strip" where the beach bars are. Marriott is a large resort-style beach hotel. Timothy Beach is a budget and simple hotel on the beach and by the strip. Ocean Terrace Inn is a lovely little hotel with fab views of the bay. Back to our hotel for a 7min boat ride over to Nevis, I had no idea it was that close and so easy to get to! Either consider a twin centre or at least take a day trip over to visit as it is so different from St Kitts. We headed in and visited Oualie Beach hotel which is the first hotel on the beach when you get off the boat so imagine the views! This is basic and simple budget accommodation. We had lunch at the Hermitage which takes you back in time for sure. The oldest wooden house dates back to 1670.The rooms are comfortable and styled in an old way. Forget TVs etc! There is WiFi though. Next, we headed to Montpelier Plantation a relaxing and peaceful resort where Lady Diana stayed with William and Harry and I can understand why. Next the Nisbet which was Fanny Nisbet's home before she married Nelson so imagine the history. This is the only plantation house on the beach. We were treated to homemade scones, macaroons and rum punches - it's a hard life visiting hotels! We were running late now - it was the rum that did it – so we rushed to our host hotel Mount Nevis for a quick change and off to the Four Seasons for a look around and a dinner in a beautiful setting on the beach. They are currently going through renovations (you wouldn't know it) but their plans sound fabulous and I hope to visit when they are finished. Next morning after a very comfortable sleep I got a chance to take in my surroundings as we had arrived in the dark. The hotel is situated up on the hill with great views down to the sea. My room was large with two balconies and a kitchen area for your needs if you want to self-cater. After a breakfast meeting with hoteliers and the Tourism Office we were bundled into three jeep type cars for a "Funky Monkey" tour taking in some sights off the beaten track. Did you know donkeys are wild in Nevis and pop up everywhere! I managed to squeeze in an extra hotel visit at a gem of a place hidden in the hills called the Golden Rock Inn. It has an old sugar mill converted into a two bed two-bathroom villa, with rooms also in the main building. It was time to say goodbye to Nevis and we got the boat over to Reggae Beach for our transfer to the airport and our flight to Antigua. See part two as the journey continues.
13 June 2018
We had a little surprise in store at the airport, the YU lounge had invited us to visit. If you want to be spoilt, this is a treat! You are taken by car to the plane steps with your own security to go through. A little bit of luxury! After our 20min flight to Antigua we were whisked to our first hotel St James Club. This is an all-inclusive family property with lots of facilities and different room types. I had a rather large room facing the bay and wedding pavilion which was a lovely setting to see all the twinkling lights at night. My room was in the Royal Suite area which is adults-only. It was a spacious room and very comfortable. The suites have their own concierge and pool area which is lovely and quiet. Exhaustion set in, so it was an early night for me. Next morning after a buffet breakfast we had a full site visit of the hotel seeing the spa and villas, water sports and bars (more rum)! There really is something for everyone. Next, we checked into the Verandah all-inclusive resort. This one felt different again. My room, which had a view of the Lagoon. You get around in golf buggies as the resort can be a bit hilly. They run them like buses (sometimes three did come along together!) Early afternoon we headed up to Shirley's Heights where on a Sunday the locals and tourists gather together to listen to a fantastic steel band and watch the sunset over English bay whilst eating BBQ and drinking rum punch (there seems to be a theme going on here!) We left around 7pm and then headed back for dinner at the Verandah. Next morning, we checked out and then into the adults-only Pineapple Beach Club which is right across the road. We were booked on to a Catamaran boat trip, so we headed to the beach. What fun! They moored about 25mins out so that those that wanted could snorkel and then we headed to a bird island and were the only ones there for a few hours. You could snorkel or just paddle but I opted for a short hike up the hill to see the views and birds. Of course, being me, I got attacked by the birds! Sandwiches and yet more rum punches were supplied and dancing to the music on the boat all the way back to the beach after 5 hours - our last night’s dinner at the hotel before sadly checking out of the hotel to head to the airport via a stop to purchase rum and hot sauce. We had one last hotel to visit, The Galley Bay, and this hotel was outstanding. The setting on the beach was wonderful with a bar to sit there and sip your drink watching the sunset. They have redone the walk out rooms which take you straight out onto the beach. The hotel is adults-only and has a very intimate feel about it. After a short transfer - everywhere seems a short transfer which is great - we were saying goodbye to Antigua! My feelings are I will be back. I never knew how close and easy it was to get between the three islands. Everyone we met was so friendly. They said on Nevis "you are only a stranger once" and I do believe that. With only 12,000 people there and only 48,000 on St Kitts, even Antigua with a population of around 100,000 is not massive. If you want to know more about any of the hotels I have visited, please do get in touch!
11 October 2017
I had a comfortable fight out with Thomas Cook from Birmingham in September for one week. After a short 10-minute transfer by car, I arrived at the 5-star Gran Hotel Arrecife. Nice to be welcomed with a glass of fizz by reception too! The hotel is very traditional in that the staff are welcoming and they remember you. The rooms have everything that you could want. We had a panoramic sea view suite which gave us great views of the sea and beach. The room itself was extremely spacious with a living room separated from the bedroom by sliding doors and a marble bathroom with a good shower over the bath. Facilities include AC, in room safe, mini bar, tea and coffee, robes and slippers and all the little bathroom essentials like shampoo, combs, bath gel and so on. If you go for the standard rooms you do not have the separate living area but the rooms are still very spacious and you still get all the little extras. If you do not have the sea view you are then looking out over the city. No rooms at the hotel have balconies. There was entertainment on when we were there which was very good. One night there was a Jazz big band. The singer did all the hits but this is not every night. The hotel has a nice pool bar area. The pool is covered and small but was never crowded when we were there. They have an outside area with sunbeds and table and chairs as well. The bar area serves food and is popular. Prices are quite reasonable at 8.5Euros for a club sandwich. It’s 5Euros for a glass of wine and a beer is about 4Euros. There is also a sky bar on floor 17 with great views. On the same floor is the Altamar restaurant that you must pre- book as it’s a gourmet restaurant and popular with the locals. We were on bed and breakfast. The breakfast buffet had everything you could want from cereals to freshly cooked omelettes, even sparkling wine if you fancy a Bucks Fizz! Right outside the hotel to the left is the sandy beach which is cleaned every morning, has sunbeds and never got crowded once the whole week we were there. To the right of the hotel, a short stroll takes you to the town which is a proper working town with a high street that has shops, bars and restaurants spilling out on to the walkways. A stroll of 15 minutes will take you to the marina along the coast where there is an inlet lagoon surrounded by some lovely restaurants. We ate there quite a lot as the views are so nice with bobbing boats and twinkling lights at night. We took the local bus to Costa Teguise just to look. It cost 1.80Euros each way per person and was really clean. We also pre-booked an excursion that took us around the island taking in the Timanfaya national park and the craters. It was well worth the trip! We also visited Teguise which is in the centre of the island and holds a huge Sunday market. The taxi was 19Euros each way as you really cannot get there by bus. You can also book it as an excursion which might work out better value. The resort itself is not your typical seaside resort, this really has a Spanish feel about it. That being said, English is widely spoken. There is a pretty little church in the centre as well that is worth popping in to. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you are looking for an adult getaway just to relax, eat good food and drink some wine! If you are looking to party then it is not for you. Tip: if budget allows, get a sea view room. Also, about 3-5 minutes stroll from the hotel there is a great pizza restaurant. For 7.5Euros it was the best pizza I ever had! The tables were always full so you might have to wait. Next door there is a restaurant serving burgers and salads starting at 6Euros and they serve Belgian beer if you are that way inclined. Want to find out more? Please do get in touch!
31 August 2017
I was lucky enough to be chosen to go on a mini cruise with some colleagues this month on the Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) Columbus ship. It sails from Tilbury docks rather than Southampton so I was interested to see how easy it would be for me based in Bicester to get there without having to drive. My journey started on the Bicester – Marylebone train service fast and efficient and then I hopped in a taxi to Victoria bus station but you could just as easily get the tube. From there I picked up the CMV direct coach and off we went. Arrived at the ship for 4 pm and after security was on board. The ship itself has recently had a refit so all the public areas were looking very smart indeed. I was allocated an outside cabin so had a large picture window. My cabin was compact but perfectly fitted with everything I needed. Tea and coffee and a hairdryer were supplied even had a TV though I had no time to watch anything! Once I unpacked it was off to drinks for the “Sail Away Party” at 6 pm where we waved goodbye to England and headed out towards the North Sea. Dinner was seven courses with choices (including vegetarian). The dress code was smart informal and everyone was very smart. There are two dinner sittings in the Waterfront restaurant I was on the later one at 8.30pm which meant I had time to explore the ship a bit and have a pre dinner drink in one of the bars. I was pleasantly surprised at the drinks prices £5 for a large glass of wine, the same as I pay here in Bicester. After a rather lovely meal, I chose to head to bed, but some of my colleagues carried on partying on in the Dome nightclub until 2 am. After a very comfortable sleep, I awoke to us sailing gently through the Netherlands towards Amsterdam. The good thing about the Columbus ship is that it is smaller than some of other cruise ships (775 cabins) which means it can get into smaller ports. It felt like a cross between an ocean cruise and a river cruise best of both worlds! After a nice breakfast back in the Waterfront restaurant – there is the large buffet restaurant Plantation, if you prefer – we headed off on an optional guided coach trip around Amsterdam, followed by an hour long canal cruise which I would thoroughly recommend as it is so peaceful and relaxing to just float along looking at the sites. But of course, you can just as easily head off on your own to wander around Amsterdam, the largest city in the Netherlands. Often called the 'Venice of the North' as some 7000 historic buildings remain located along canals laid out in six crescents radiating from the harbor and encompassing the Amstel River. All connected by over 1000 bridges. With its mixture of gabled houses, churches, clock towers, canals, trams, and bicycles...watch out for them they have right of way! For shoppers there are plenty of familiar and not so familiar shops as well to spend your Euros in from designer boutiques to the little traditional shops …just remember to be back at the ship before it sails! I explored the ship a little more once back on board and looked in at the small casino and some other bars. Connexions had a modern airy feel to it. Taverner’s a more traditional pub feel, both have entertainment on in the evening as well. The library had plenty of books to choose from. The spa was stunning with plenty of treatments available to book. There is also a well equipped gym. We went to the Palladium show lounge which was a surprise as it had a waiter service for drinks which you do not get on other cruise ships normally. We all joined in with singing along to an 80s show that was on. After dinner in the specialty restaurant, Indian Fusion, I had to work off some of those calories, so went dancing in the Dome nightclub and kept going until gone 2 am. The music was a real mixture, so something to suit everyone’s taste. The next morning, we arrived early in the gem of a city Antwerp which is just lovely. I took breakfast in the buffet sat outside looking at the city in the sunshine. Antwerp is Belgium’s second largest city and a mixture of medieval and modern buildings. It has a beautiful cathedral which is the largest Gothic church in Belgium. The main square Grote Markt, framed on both sides by tall gilded Renaissance-style historical buildings. After a day wandering the little streets and taking in the sites as well as a beer tour…well when in Belgium. We headed back on board to get ready for the formal night, where some gents were in black tie but also some were in lounge suits and the ladies wore cocktail dresses. After another seven course meal and more dancing, I headed to bed ready for an early departure from the ship when we docked back in the UK. After breakfast in the buffet, I left the ship at 8.45 and was back home in Bicester by 11 am using their coach and the train as before, surprisingly quick! Would I do it again? Most definitely! It is an excellent way to see two cities in one weekend trip. It makes for a very relaxed way of traveling you only unpack once. If you would like to plan a visit to one of these cities or a cruise elsewhere do get in touch.
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