Sent by Allan Robinson
York 7/2/2019 2:20:00 PM
Based in Harrogate
After travelling and living around the world, I now operate my own travel business as part of Travel Counsellors from Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Times have changed from my ‘back packing’ carefree holidays to more discerning family holidays with my husband and two boys.
I have a passion for travel and believe that everyone should push their own personal boundaries to explore the world. So, whether you’re interested in going on a cruise for the first time, or want some help arranging a trip to visit a friend in the UK, then I would like to be of assistance.
I believe that, like many of my trips your holiday should be unforgettable. Everything will be tailored to suit you and I’m able to suggest additional options which I think you’ll enjoy. The personal contact I have with you through the booking process makes sure we miss nothing. It’s like having a friend book your holiday for you. All you need to provide is the idea, even if it is vague!
We can meet at a time and place to suit you which can be very handy if time is of the essence. You will find that I have an honest ‘tell it how it is’ approach to planning an itinerary, and will suggest sights, excursions and accommodation.
With my knowledge and Travel Counsellors amazing software you can sit in the comfort of your own home and book your holiday. Our high standards of service and competitive pricing you will ensure you’ll never want to search online or visit a high street agency again.
If you’re interested in contacting me, to discuss your travel plans for the future, business travel or simply to get some expert, often first hand advice, please don’t hesitate to call or email.
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.
24 September 2019
So what is expedition cruising? Well its cruising but with a twist. A chance to really explore a destination and see it for what it really is away from the 5* restaurants and spa pamper packages. Expedition cruising is growing in popularity all of the time. But why? More and more people want to get off the cruise ships and truly experience things rather than just look at them through a window or via an electronic screen. See the real world. What can I do on an expedition cruise? The list is endless in regard to finding new places to visit and experiences to enjoy. They can include seeing penguins in the north and polar bears in the south, snorkelling with sea lions, looking out for icebergs the size of houses, kayaking in the fjords and even searching for those all-important Northern Lights. Most also have guest speakers to entertain as well as classes. Where can I find a really good expedition cruise line? One of my favourites is Hurtigruten and here is why: 1. No compulsory tipping There is nothing more frustrating than being told to tip when you receive mediocre service. We only want to do it if we feel we have received exemplary service. With Hurtigruten you do not have the awkwardness of feeling obliged to tip and you do not have to pay a gratuity package either. These can sometimes be very costly at the end of your trip. 2. Everything is very casual You can leave your bow tie and cocktail dress at home for this cruise! You won’t be needing it whilst you are hiking up a mountain or kayaking through the fjords! There are no formal dinners on these ships. The food is amazing, but you don’t have to dress for the occasion. Just simply enjoy some lovely food in a relaxed environment with your new friends. Your evenings will generally be spent relaxing in the bar or in your cabin after your busy day exploring. The motto of expedition cruising is generally to watch what is outside your window not what’s on your screen. 3. No small children on board Children tend to be few in numbers on these expeditions and generally over 11 years old, so you won’t have to worry about other people’s children disturbing your trip. There are no kids’ clubs or entertainment programmes. All activities are tailored for adults and older children. Is it for me? If you love cruising but want something more involved, exciting and immersive then expedition cruising is definitely for you. Similarly, if you are totally new to cruising but want an adventure, great food and bucket list experiences then expedition cruising is perfect for you too!
11 June 2019
Its not all beaches and heat rash! Fancy a break in the UK? Then look no further than a canal boat holiday. We spent three lovely giggle-filled days sailing on the York Canal from Ripon to York. It was a fantastic few days. We stopped each night to eat in a different pub and ate lunch al fresco moored on the canal bank. Proper 'Wind in the Willows'. Going through the locks was a bit daunting, but easy once you got the hang of it. The boat was a bit cramped and it helps if you are very friendly with your crew mates, but they were well equipped and had everything that we needed for a fantastic weekend. (The boats not the crewmates).
11 June 2019
Turning 50 is a pretty big milestone & many of us need certain things ticked off the bucket list before the impending mid-life crisis! You spent your 20s experimenting & trying new things, sorting out your career, life goals & planning for a future. Now is the time to let loose & make sure you work on the little things that keep yourhappy. Travelling the world is easier now as most of us have enough savings & can afford to splurge! We’re young enough to burn off that energy trying something new too. 1. See the Taj Mahal More than the actual structure, it is the story that draws millions of visitors each year. The monument took over 10 years to build and is constructed using white marble and semi-precious stones. Visitors from all over the world flock to catch a glimpse of the monument and spend a day taking in the ancient history and stories of the Mughal era. Try sunrise or sunset. 2. Visit the Grand Canyon If you are planning to visit the Grand Canyon, be sure to set aside plenty of time & lots of energy. The World Heritage Site offers plenty to see & explore so make sure you do your research & plan out an itinerary depending on exactly what you want to take away from the trip. 3. Trek the Himalayas Now you don’t need to scale Mount Everest to prove you can trek the Himalayas, there are plenty of trails to suit all adventure seekers. The Himalayas include hundreds of mountains that are spread across India, Nepal, China, Pakistan and Bhutan. 4. Explore the Great Barrier Reef One of the greatest treasures down under, the Great Barrier Reef sits just off the coast of Queensland and is over 2,000km of coral reef ecosystem. You have the option of going right into the deep blue ocean by scuba diving or snorkelling, or marvelling at the wonder from afar by taking in breath-taking views from an aircraft or helicopter tour. 5. An Epic American Road Trip Nothing says USA than a road trip.It may sound very rock ‘n roll, but a road trip in the States should be on every traveller’s bucket list. 6. Italian Culinary Experience This one is for the foodies. As any culinary connoisseur would explain, there’s a lot more to Italian food than pasta and pizza. Go wine tasting in Tuscany, truffle crazy in Umbria and look for the best fresh pizza in South Italy. 7. Alaskan Cruise One of the best ways to take in the glory of the Alaskan glaciers is by being one with the sea. There are plenty of Alaskan cruises to choose from, make sure you are prepared for cotton-white views, untouched icescapes titanic wildlife. A key tip: make sure you snag that balcony view with your cabin. 8. Walk Across the Great Wall of China Stretching across over 21,000km it may not be possible to walk across the full stretch of the Great Wall, however the site is worth a visit. Wear good shoes if you choose to walk, but it is possible to cycle, take a helicopter & even a cable car in some areas. 9. Jordan’s Lost City From the moment one steps onto the red sands of Petra, you are transported to a time of ancient civilisation. Even though the city was ‘lost’ to the outside world for hundreds of years, today it draws hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. 10. Salar de Uyuni This one is for all you photographers looking for your next big creative project, or even if you just want some extraordinary pictures to share. Salar de Uyuni is located in Bolivia and is the largest salt flat desert in the world. Even though the surrounding areas are just small villages, once you get to Salar de Uyuni, be prepared to have your breath taken away. The salt is pristine white & makes for the perfect optical illusion, 11. Machu Picchu UNESCO World Heritage Site Machu Picchu is on every adventure seekers bucket list. The ancient Inca city is known for its awe-inspiring archaeological achievements & the area is believed to still contain plenty of uncovered secrets. 12. Indonesian Surfing Surfing in Indonesia became a worldwide phenomenon in the 1960s and 70s. The best season to hit the waves is from April to October and popular places include Bali, Mentawai, Lombok, Sumatra & any of the Gili Islands. 13. Sunrise at Cappadocia The fairy-tale region of Cappadocia has had tremulous history. Carved right into the Anatolian plains are tall rock sites known as Fairy Chimneys, which make for the perfect hot air balloon flight at dawn. 14. Explore Wildlife in Serengeti The vast Serengeti is known for its rich ecosystem, game reserves and primarily the largest mammal migration in the world. Visit a Maasai Village where you can meet with the semi-nomadic people of the Maasai, learn about their customs & traditions and even purchase their handmade crafts as souvenirs. 15. Stay in an Igloo An igloo stay may seem extreme, but it is exceedingly doable! Today’s igloos have every modern day amenity & are tightly packed with almost everything you will need for your stay. You can choose to stay in igloos all over Europe, but we love the cosy igloos of Norway, Switzerland, Austria and Finland. 16. La Tomatina Festival This one is not for everyone’s appetite. The annual La Tomatina festival takes place in the town of Buñol in Spain & draws around 20,000 participants in what is essentially a full-blown food fight. Participants throw squashed tomatoes at each other following a tradition that started in the mid-1940s. 17. See the Northern Lights Ideally a top choice on anyone’s bucket list, the Northern Lights are one of nature’s spectacular wonders. The dancing lights in the north and south hemispheres are nature’s way of providing us with a free light show. 18. Visit a Castle You don’t need to be royalty to see the insides of a castle. The Edinburgh Castle is an icon of Scotland & one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK 19. Cherry Blossom Season in Japan Hanami is the traditional Japanese custom of ‘flower viewing’ and takes place during the Cherry Blossom season of the year from February to May. The sakura is a symbol of Japan and thousands of people from all over the world flock to the country to catch a glimpse and celebrate the spring season. 20. Explore Marine Life of The Galapagos Islands Located off the west coast of South America, the Galapagos Islands are a rare natural wilderness. Each of the 18 main islands are home to distinct living creatures like marina iguanas, sea lions, turtles, lizards, gulls, waved albatrosses, dolphins, sharks & more.
06 June 2019
I have never been one to move outside my comfort zone and when I was given the chance to visit Club Med Palmiye in Turkey I/we don't do all-inclusive especially when they advertise 'With added fun!' How wrong can one person be! From the moment we met the first Club Med GO I was hooked. The resort is stunning and spread over 18 hectares on its own private cove. The resort is split into two, with the village at one end and the hotel at the other. The village is more family oriented were I felt the hotel more for adults, but you flow from one side to the other so easily it really doesn't matter where your room is located. Having arrived and seen all the different things on offer I threw myself into it, starting with tennis, archery, and ping pong all of which are included in price. There was no avoiding the water and the many water sports that were on offer also included in the standard package price, so down to beach I went and even though it is now clear I have some balance issues no one was going to stop me trying body boarding, kayaking and wind surfing all of which were great fun and frustrating at the same time. The GOs have endless patience and are always happy to help the very beginners to the experienced. Being a French company there is a massive focus on the food that is available whether that's at 7.00 am for breakfast or midnight for a light snack. This Club Med along with all the others are based on a genuine all-inclusive context which means not only is your food and drinks included but also any sport you want to try including football, basketball, snorkelling, Zumba, keep kit classes, power walks, water skiing and the list goes on. Don't be fooled like I was into thinking that Club Med is only about the active because it's not, the seven different pools all offer a different experience whether that's in the spa or indoor pool through to the stunning ZEN adults only section, where I spent most of my time. It is so hard to explain what is so great about this sort of trip and why I feel under the Club Med Spell, but I did. Maybe it's the fireworks they had on Friday night's White Night where everyone dresses in white and the swans float in the pools. Maybe it was the staff, who are never too busy to stop and have a chat if you want one. It could be the food which was some of the best hotel food I've eaten, and the chefs are always on hand to explain what method they used, or the ingredients included. Perhaps it was the weather, which was a very pleasing 40c. It might have been the different activities that I tried, some very successfully and some not so much. Or maybe, just maybe, Club Med does cast a spell over you as you enter the beautifully designed resorts knowing that any and everything you may want will be taken care off, but then I've always believed in magic. Next Club Med Ski!
05 June 2019
You could be forgiven for thinking of American cuisine as nothing more than burgers and fries; after all it is synonymous with large portions and bottomless soft drinks. However, a recent trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida gave us an opportunity to dispel these myths and to experience some of the unique dining opportunities that Disney has to offer. From quick service options in the parks to fine dining restaurants in the parks and hotels, there really is something for every taste and budget. On arriving in Orlando, we were whisked off for dinner at Citricos in the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa – a fine-dining restaurant with a menu billed as American cuisine infused with Mediterranean flavours. To whet my appetite, I chose to start with the sautéed Florida local Shrimp accompanied by freshly squeezed lemon, chardonnay, ripe tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, and sharp feta, followed by pan-seared snapper served with saffron-scented jasmine rice, Cedar Key middleneck clams, calico scallops, and chorizo vinaigrette. Both courses were absolutely delicious, full of flavour and cooked to perfection. The next morning, we had an opportunity to sample the All-American breakfast at the Grand Floridian Café, a casual dining venue in the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. With a long day ahead, I opted for my all-time favourite of brioche French toast with Madagascar vanilla bean-butter accompanied with bacon which didn’t disappoint. Our first day was spent in Epcot, which gave us the chance to sample some of the food grown in Epcot at The Land Pavilion’s greenhouses. The quick service restaurant, Sunshine Seasons, offers a choice of Asian fare, gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads, and wood-fired mains. After a large breakfast I chose the power salad with oak-fired chicken, quinoa, almonds, and honey vinaigrette, followed by the biggest, most delicious carrot cake topped with a carrot made from icing (needless to say I couldn’t finish it!) During our stay we were fortunate to eat at some of the wonderful restaurants located in Disney Springs, including the BOATHOUSE, for an upscale waterfront dining experience. The BOATHOUSE offers an extensive menu comprising offerings from the sea and shore – I chose to finish my meal with their unique twist on the native key lime pie served in a mason jar accompanied by vanilla bean cream which was delightful. Whilst the quick service restaurants in the parks do offer the standard fare of burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza and fries, it is possible to find alternatives such as grilled salmon with couscous and steamed fresh broccoli in Magic Kingdom’s Columbia Harbour House or Mediterranean falafel wrap served with hummus in Epcot’s Tangerine Café. Diners with special dietary requests, including food allergies, food intolerances and medically restricted diets, are well catered for too. Having a son who suffered from food allergies during the first seven years of his life, it was refreshing to see how much effort was put into catering for people with special requirements without making them feel awkward. MAGICAL EXPERIENCES Those of us big kids in the group, who love Mickey and Minnie Mouse as much as the average Disney guest, were not overlooked as we enjoyed not one, but two Character Breakfasts where we were joined by Mickey, Minnie and friends. The first was in Tusker House, located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, where we enjoyed an extensive breakfast buffet accompanied by a glass of the local Jungle Juice, and met Safari Mickey, Donald Duck and friends. We also enjoyed a Beach Bash character breakfast with Minnie and friends at Cape May Café in Disney’s Beach Club Resort. On our last evening we experienced gourmet dining Disney style at the California Grill, on the 15th floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, with panoramic views of the lagoon and Cinderella Castle. Our menu comprised of six courses, served in a private dining room with a view of the lagoon below, and was definitely the foodie highlight of our trip. All six courses were presented beautifully and complemented each other perfectly. Unfortunately, I had given up chocolate for Lent so I didn’t get to taste the signature chocolate pudding cake, but I was assured by those on my table that it was a fitting end to a wonderful meal. The evening concluded with a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom Park Wishes fireworks display from the outside observation deck with a glass of wine in hand. A magical end to a magical week!
05 June 2019
Did you know? When you book your holiday with me, you get the following: - Peace of mind, I always have my customer's back! So important especially these days! It counts for a lot that my customers will always speak to me, I know their booking, so they don't need to explain who they are. - I am available 24/7. Can you call/text/email your travel agent late at night and get a prompt reply? - I pass passport information where possible onto the airlines, allocate your seats for you where possible and check you in coming home where possible (Coming home saves you from having to go online to sort it yourself). Does your travel agent do this for you? - I personally contact hotels to let them know if it is a special occasion rather than just putting a note in the booking, upgrades and special extras are never guaranteed but I always try, it is then down to the hotel, but I have a lot of customers who have had upgrades and special extras in the room due to me trying for them. Does your agent personally contact the hotel you are staying in? - I am not owned by a Tour Operator so I have the flexibility to shop around for you for the best deal/best option to meet requirements. - When I search for holidays for my customers I take time to research the hotels I am looking at and check out reviews so that when my customers receive the details from me they can be assured that I have looked into if it would meet their requirements. - I am happy to meet to discuss your holiday requirements over coffee - my treat! - If something was to change with the holiday like an airline cancelling a flight, changing it, hotel issues etc, I am the one to personally help you and sort it out. You don’t have to wait on the phone trying to sort it yourself. Again, I will always have my customers' best interests at heart. - All customers have access to their own 'myTC' app which enables them to see all their holiday details on their phone on the app and allows payments to be made this way too. - Customers can pay a deposit and pay the holiday off as and when as long as it is all paid by the balance due date. - Everything you book with me is financially protected no if's no but's! Your holiday is also ATOL bonded. - I generally care about every booking and it means a lot that my customers choose to continually book with me and refer me to others. I haven't needed to pay to advertise because my customers are doing this for me and I am so thankful to now have customers all over the UK and world and it's a big thanks to everyone supporting me. Does your travel agent appreciate your business as much as I value my customers' business? It would be a pleasure to help arrange your next holiday.
05 June 2019
I take great pride in what I am booking for my customers. I am not on a salary so all the time I spend on people’s enquiries is my own time. I work on commission from suppliers when customers book, so you are assured that I will want to find you the best holiday to suit your requirements. Chances are I am the same price as most operators and I often package the holiday myself to get the best deal. It just means I take care of it for you and you get the service I offer with it. This is my own business and I pride myself on the service I offer my customers and always being here for them. I love arranging my customers holidays and helping those who truly value the service I offer and understand the time and care I put in to finding them the right holiday. I may sometimes be more than online, but this is not a like for like holiday, it's a transaction and nothing more and I think I am worth that little more for that peace of mind, my knowledge, my care, my time and my contacts. Sometimes we all need to bet on ourselves and not undervalue our worth. Every booking I make, that customer is supporting me, my family and my dream rather than supporting an online big supplier who will never show gratitude that your booking means something to them. If you would like me to help arrange your next holiday, please contact me on 01765 618060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
03 June 2019
If somebody came along and gave you 30 hours of spare time, what would you do with it? Spend more time with the kids? Make a dent in that redecorating job you’ve been putting off for weeks? A bit of ‘you’ time in the garden, with a good book and a glass of wine? Some research? Ok, maybe not the last one – but recent findings suggest that the average UK holidaymaker is spending a staggering 30 hours researching their holiday. From reading reviews to sorting out passports, it adds up to a lot of time. And it’s time you could spend elsewhere just by giving me a call. I’ll ask you about your likes and dislikes when it comes to travel – and that’s your bit done. I’ll construct your perfect holiday, packed with all the things you love and none of the things you hate. You’ll wonder how you ever booked travel before us. Holidays without the hassle, and 30 more hours to enjoy? If you think I can be of any help, then please feel free to give me a call. 01765618060
03 June 2019
The range of world-class scenic thrills and cultural attractions in the Caribbean is extraordinary! Here's my list of the absolute Top Ten! (not done them all yet!) 1. Climb a volcano! Climbing to over 4,000ft, La Soufriere on the island of St Vincent offers a strenuous but satisfying climb. It's best to go with a guide, meaning your transfers are organised and they provide food and drink as well as the local knowledge on routes, wildlife and history. It is also possible to get down into the crater itself, where the wind drops and there is a silent beauty! 2 Go diving in the Cayman Islands! Slip under the waves and discover a second, gorgeous Caribbean. Vivid corals bloom in an enchanted garden teeming with silver fish and sunbeams highlight the beautiful colours from above. There are 365 dive sites including the wreck of the USS Kittiwake and Bloody Bay Wall where vertical drop offs plunge to 6,000ft. 3. Dance the night away in Cuba! Cuba is made for dancing - you can hear music wherever you go - from an open window, a passing 1950's car, or buskers strumming on the beach. Salsa, bolero, jazz, rumba, chachacha - the mood can be soulful or vibrant, but the people are very friendly and will happily let you join in! 4. Sail away in the British Virgin Islands With calm waters, reliable winds, sheltered bays and over 50 small islands, the BVI's are the perfect natural arena for a sailing holiday. From barefoot yachts to luxury crewed charters, there is an option for everyone. 5. Drink rum in Barbados! There are at least 1,500 rum shops in Barbados - have a drink in one to tune into the Caribbean's easy-going vibe! Brightly painted, by day they act as a combined bar, convenience store and community centre. By night, jam with the locals and watch the others dance to soca and calypso music!
03 June 2019
1. “The Palm Islands” are the largest man-made islands in the world and often called the 8th wonder of the world. They take the shape of a date palm and can be seen from space, adding around 180 km of shoreline to Dubai. A six lane sub-sea tunnel has been built to connect the spine to the crescent – it is 1.4 km long, 40m wide and 25m below sea level. It’s also the most beautiful tunnel I have seen, fully tiled, pristinely clean and with murals of dolphins! 2. If you stay at Atlantis, you get complimentary access to Aquaventure, the most fantastic water park in Dubai. With a 1.2km lazy river to the terrifying Tower of Neptune, this is a fantastic way to spend a couple of days. The onsite restaurants are fantastic, and as a hotel guest, there are often fantastic complimentary half board offers. Swim with dolphins, feed the sharks or just lie back and watch the kids having a ball… 3. Stay in an underwater suite and wake up to the sharks and stingrays in your room! The 65,000 marine animals are well looked after in the enormous Atlantis Aquarium and the amount of fresh food given to them daily ensures that they don’t start to eat each other. 4. For a luxurious, relaxed retreat from the City, the One & Only The Palm ticks all the boxes. With a light, airy, Mediterranean feel, the hotel has exceptional levels of service in a city which aims to exceed expectations. No wonder the resort was named “No1 in the Middle East and Africa” by Conde Nast Traveller Reader’s Choice Awards. I loved the understated low-rise buildings with their boutique feel, and with the sea on three sides, it has the feeling on being on your own private island. Of course, Dubai Marina is only a short hop in the hotel’s boat for when you want to explore the rest of Dubai. 5. The last hotel that we saw on the Palm (there are lots more to choose from, and more being built!) was the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. The feature that struck me most about this lovely resort hotel was the fantastic Spa – it has won a multitude of awards, and with 42 treatment rooms, eight hydrotherapy rooms, steam rooms, saunas, snow rooms, floating baths and two thalassotherapy pools, you’ll discover almost limitless ways to treat yourself. The range of dining options here is impressive too – chill out at the beach front Plaj during the day; meet for cocktails at the ultra-chic Voda Bar before choosing from Indian, Lebanese, Turkish, fantastic steaks in the Rib Room or the lavish French Brasserie which is the hotel’s main dining room. There are plenty more reasons to base yourself on the “Palm” when visiting Dubai, I’d be happy to chat through all the options with you!
04 April 2019
It’s always important to take care of yourself when you are on holiday, whether that’s preparing yourself for a long-haul flight or keeping active throughout your time away. That's why, in time for World Health Day, which this year is on Sunday 7 April, we've pooled together the expertise of our Travel Counsellors to offer a selection of health and wellness tips that you may be able to use on your next holiday. "Some may call me a health freak as I love to exercise daily and eat healthily, so the thought of all-inclusive and over-indulgence does not appeal to me at all. Going on a wellness retreat is more my cup of tea. When I stayed at BodyHoliday in Saint Lucia, I was able to take an exercise class most times of the day, and massages and treatments are also available throughout the day and are included in the all-inclusive package. If you want to travel cleaner and healthier, booking a health and wellness retreat may be ideal for you." Stock your hand luggage with the essentials If you’re flying long-haul, particularly if you have a long layover at an airport several hours away from home, you’ll need a halftime care kit to make sure you’re refreshed and rejuvenated for the second leg. Stock up your see-through plastic bag with toothpaste, a toothbrush, moisturiser, deodorant and anything else you need to feel fresh. Flying long distances will mean you can put your shampoos, aftershave and any other bulky cosmetics in your hold luggage, ready to use when you arrive at your destination. You could also pack a change of clothes, as well as an eye mask and earplugs to ensure a more comfortable in-flight sleep. Eat well Holidays are filled with temptation, especially when it comes to what you eat and drink. Airlines may serve up delectable fare, but bring some of your own healthy snacks such as dried fruits, nuts and seeds which are low on additives and preservatives, and will give you an energy boost as well as aiding with digestion. Your Travel Counsellor will also be able to find you a selection of restaurants which are perfect for your dietary requirements. So, if you’re a fitness fanatic who’s counting calories or you need a list of eateries which cater for allergies or specific diets, you’ll be able to depart in the comfort that you know which places are suitable for you and your party. "My first wellness trip was to COMO Shambhala Estate, and it was a break which I really felt I needed at the time. It was worth every hard-earned penny and was one of the most enlightening and memorable trips I have ever taken. This retreat, hidden amongst rice paddy fields on the island of Bali, offers the best spa treatments I have ever encountered, extensive wellness, detox and weight-loss programmes with outstanding service and residences which are in a league of their own." Prepare your sleeping pattern If your flight crosses multiple time zones, then it is inevitable that your internal body clock will be knocked off centre and you’ll have to contend with jet lag. It is important you reduce the effects of jet lag’s effects so that it doesn’t impact your trip. Set your clock or watch to your destination’s time before you board your flight so that you can accurately allocate sleeping time, and when you arrive, try your best to adapt to the local time zone and resist the urge to sleep or eat meals at the wrong time of day. And make sure to have some melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep patterns, which can be found in cherries, tomatoes, rolled oats, walnuts and sunflower seeds. Stay hydrated Whether you’re on the plane, relaxing on a beach or exploring a city, keeping hydrated is vital in maintaining good health while travelling. Cabin air is exceedingly dry and will dehydrate your system, so make sure to drink plenty of water during your flight, even if you’re eating and drinking other things. If you’re heading to a warm destination, you can become dehydrated very quickly, so in addition to plenty of water, make sure to eat snacks with high water content such as watermelon, peppers, cucumber and apples.
09 January 2018
You don’t want to stop travelling overseas just because you now have children and what’s more, you still want quality accommodation, great facilities and a little time for yourselves to relax. Great kids’ entertainment and occasional supervision for your children can be important. Plus, top tips on how to avoid the having a stressful journey with the kids. 1. Pace yourself. Go with the flow and don’t pack in too much. Build in rest days and be realistic about what you might see and do. 2. Travel is great for broadening the mind, even if you’re a five-year-old. Start getting your little ones prepared for their holiday by treating it like a project. Read a guide book to them or watch a DVD or perhaps even try some of the local traditional dishes you may expect at your destination. Encourage them to keep a holiday journal, collect photos, ticket stubs and draw pictures of what they have seen and record new words they may have learned along the way, and give things a try. 3. Research and prepare a “things to do and places to go if the weather isn’t great” list. This is particularly good if travelling out of season in the February or October half terms. 4. If possible check in online as knowing you are sat together will give you piece of mind and you can often turn up a little later to airport if you have checked in, leaving less time to entertain your child before boarding. 5. Choose a hotel that caters for children. Kids clubs can give parents a welcome break but make sure you check what ages they take, what hours they operate and that they are running at the time of year you are visiting (many only run for the high season). 6. Taking a buggy or pram, even if your child is now walking, can be handy as they can double up as places to rest from the heat or if up a little later than usual to rest in a restaurant, for example. 7. Check the hand luggage restrictions before travelling, including the latest rules on carrying liquids, gels and creams, which will more than likely include milk and nappy cream for example. Chances are you will be able to carry them, but they may have to be stored in a specific way and not carried over a certain quantity, as the rules change so often it’s always worth checking close to travel. 8. Requesting a ground floor room if available is often a good idea many rooms lead onto gardens giving extra play areas 9. When flying it’s helpful to have something such as a boiled sweet to suck on to drink during take-off and landing. Make sure you have plenty of ways to entertain your little one such as crayons, books and their favourite toy. 10. Enjoy. If you book with Travel Counsellors we can do many of these things for you.
08 January 2018
This October I was extremely fortunate to visit Canada with 23 other Travel Counsellors. Canada has always been on my bucket list and this this trip was amazing. Our base for the first four nights was the Rosedale on Robson Suites. Perfectly located in this beautiful city where nothing is too far away. Being October, we had the pleasure of seeing the city as all the colours were changing, but there isn't a wrong time to visit. Vancouver prides itself as a city that combines the sea and the mountains and it’s easy to see why it is voted in the top 10 best cities in the world. I certainly fell in love with it with its outdoor lifestyle and vibrant city life. The city also boasts a beautiful city park, Stanley Park, a 1000-acre public park which borders downtown Vancouver with the city skyline one side and snow-capped mountains on the other; it shows how beautiful this city is. The park has an aquarium which is worth a visit and there are lots of activities you can do around the park. Hire bikes or, like us take a guided ‘eco’ tour where very knowledgeable guides take you round the sights of the park, the views from various parts and talk about nature. For other great views of the city take a trip up the Vancouver Lookout, where you can get 360-degree views, although the glass lift is not great for those, like me, with a fear of heights! If shopping and food is your thing then Vancouver is perfect. Robson Street and Granville Market are an absolute must during your stay. I would highly recommend the Foodie Tour, with tasting stops around Granville Market! But allow time after to go back to purchase some treats to take home! We also did a further tasting with the Vancouver Brewery Tour Company, a trip around three of Vancouver’s many micro-breweries with an insight to beer making and plenty of different beers to try. Make sure you get some food with this – I would recommend the chicken wings and poutine! Vancouver offers so many different experience options. On a free afternoon, rather than chill with a coffee, we took a 90 minute speedboat trip around the city. It was great to see the city from the sea. Some colleagues did a seaplane experience, taking off from the water in Vancouver Harbour and views from the sky. Flying in a plane with just five seats and a propeller gives an amazing 20-minute flight from above the city and coast! Are you worn out yet? This was just the first part! Now the best bit. Leaving the city, we headed to our next location, Vancouver Island. It takes just under two hours by ferry. We then had a road trip to Tofino taking about 2.5 hours. This is a small town on the west Pacific coast which has so much to offer everyone. Activities include whale watching, bear watching, Pacific Ocean surfing and some of the coolest cafés and bars and craft shopping. Add some of the most amazing beaches and incredible views of the ocean and you have a top location for both the summer and out of season offering something totally different. Vancouver Island is one of the few places in the world where you can ski and surf in the dame day! The most luxurious property we visited was The Wickaninnish Inn and it’s easy to see why this often fully booked. Guests enjoy a beachfront location with incredible viewing opportunities of the Pacific storms crashing in! The guest rooms have floor to ceiling windows and you also get to have the same views from your bathtub. Each room has comfy chairs and your own fire – just perfect. With their own carvers on site, the wood used all around the hotel is done in their very own carving shed – a real gem of a property. I can honestly say this is one of the best hotels I have ever visited. Our purpose for staying here was to see whales and bears and we weren’t disappointed. Taking two 3-hour boat trips with Jamie’s Whaling Station we got to see these along with sea otters, seals and bald eagles. The bears were amazing. Viewing them from the water allowed us to see them up close in a safe environment, without disturbing them. A real highlight of this amazing trip. Leaving Tofino, we headed back over to the East and to Parksville, the East being much milder is a perfect spot for families. There are more great beaches with shallow waters, a great location for experiencing Vancouver Island but with its easy location to the port back to Vancouver and shorter drives for sightseeing. Check out the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort or the BeachClub Resort – both great for family stays. This trip allowed me to experience the best of Canada, city and countryside, food and adventure. The wonderfully warm hospitality of the Canadians. But this was just a small part of what Canada has to offer and I can’t wait to go back and experience more! In fact I am booking my own family there next summer!
08 January 2018
Top ten tips for avoiding additional stress at your airport during peak travel 1. Long Haul - get to the airport a minimum of 3.5 hours before 2. Short Haul - get to the airport a minimum of 2.5 hours before 3. Check in online 24 hours prior to departure and print off your boarding passes 4. Set off from home earlier - no one can predict the traffic 5. Arrange parking for the Meet and Greet (nearest to the airport terminal) 6. Take plenty of snacks for the car journey and waiting for your flight as well as bottles of water for pre-security 7. Wear comfortable clothing. Belts, shoes and jewellery will all have to be removed at the Security Gate (not the clothes!) 8. Have toiletries (under 100ml) in a see-through sandwich bag ready for the Security Gate 9. Parents, as long as you have the kids, passports, money and credit card, nothing else matters. Children pick up on your stress, if you cope, they will! 10. Book with a Travel Counsellor, we worry about all this, so you don't have to!
04 September 2017
A must see in the heart of the Capital of Thailand, Bangkok is The Grand Palace. The Palace is a complex of buildings and has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782. If the hectic city of Bangkok doesn’t suit, head South. Krabi is the perfect holiday destination for those looking for a relaxing area in southern Thailand. The province of Krabi is less developed and crowded than Phuket, more laid back than Koh Samui, and just one hour and 20 minutes by air from Bangkok. With a range of accommodation from budget to deluxe, this idyllic province really is the ultimate destination. With over 150 islands off its coast line that feature white-sandy beaches and turquoise waters, a jungle-covered interior, towering limestone cliffs, caves, waterfalls and exotic wildlife, Krabi has a great selection of natural assets that offer its visitors a wide array of leisure activities for the whole family. Island-hopping, snorkeling, rock climbing, sea kayaking, jungle trekking and scuba diving to name a few. The Phi Phi islands are some of the loveliest in Southeast Asia. Just a 45-minute speedboat trip or a 90-minute ferry boat ride from either Phuket or Krabi, these picture postcard islands offer the ultimate tropical getaway. Phi Phi is a group of six islands. The two main islands are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Leh. The larger and inhabited Phi Phi Don attracts hundreds of visitors to stay on its lovely shores while the smaller uninhabited Phi Phi Leh hosts stunningly beautiful bays and beaches, including the world-famous Maya Bay, which was the set where The Beach (with Leonardo Di Caprio) was filmed. Chiang Mai is located 700 km North of Bangkok, with regular flights to get you there. Markets are scattered all over the city in Chiang Mai, with something to suit everyone. The famous Night Bazaar is a bargain hunters paradise. It sits on the eastern side of the Old City all the way along Chang Khlan Road, about 1km long. (open daily from late afternoon till midnight).
04 September 2017
Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country occupying the Malay Peninsula that flaunts the capital Kuala Lumpur, a bustling city full of colonial architecture and the Malaysian Borneo (spoken about previously). It’s known for its beaches, rainforests, misty tea plantations and chill out islands with a mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences. In Kuala Lumpur see Petronis Towers. Known as the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world today. The buildings are a landmark of Kuala Lumpur. 20km outside of Kuala Lumpur is Selangor. Here you can visit Batu Caves. A limestone hill that has a series of caves and cave temples. It takes its name from the Sungai Batu, which flows past the hill. If you are fit and well then this is a must. Whilst in Selangor see the famous Royal Selangor Pewter. Find yourself something here to keep as an heirloom. Day trips from Kuala Lumpur to the highlands to see how tea is made on long established colonial plantations is an educational experience for everyone who loves tea. If the city sights don’t interest you, head to Pangkor island 175 km from Kuala Lumpur for your tranquil beach getaway. Not as easy to get to than the more well-known Langkawi or Penang Islands, however worth a visit. Malaysian Airlines usually have great competitive sales on offer as they fight for their own survival due to the recent incidents these last few years. Or the budget carriers of Air Asia or Malinda Air are safe options also.
04 September 2017
Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta and mountains. Phnom Penh, its capital, is home to the Royal Palace and the National Museum’s historical and archaeological exhibits. including Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum/Prison. Learn about the atrocities that took place here during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, seeing the spots where thousands of innocent prisoners were interrogated, tortured, and killed. In the country’s northwest are the ruins of Angkor Wat, a massive stone temple complex built during the Khmer Empire. So here in Phnom Penh, you will see the intricate 19th-century palace of the current King of Cambodia, and where Kings of Cambodia have lived since 1860. (Except during the genocide). See thousands of silver tiles inlaid in the floor of the Silver Pagoda, and tour the grounds. Visit the genocide museum as mentioned above or travel out to the actual Choeung Ek Killing Fields, the spot where the Khmer Rouge executed more than 1 million people. While a visit to the site is a sobering one, the centre has been transformed into a peaceful place in homage to the lives that were lost. Wildlife in Cambodia include dholes, elephants, deer, wild oxen, panthers, bears, and tigers. Cormorants, cranes, ibises, parrots, green peafowl, pheasants, and wild ducks are also found, and species of venomous snakes and constrictors are numerous. Deforestation, mining activities, and unregulated hunting have diminished the country’s wildlife diversity rapidly. However, a one-hour drive away from the capital is Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre it is well worth the trip. Home to more than 1,200 animals giving us all hope. Siem Reap, a resort town in the northwest is the gateway to the ruins of Angkor, the seat of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th–15th centuries. Angkor’s vast complex of intricate stone buildings includes Angkor Wat, the main temple, which is pictured on Cambodia’s flag and the giant mysterious faces carved into the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom. Not far (15km) out of Siem Reap is the vast 75km long Tonle Sap Lake that adjoins the Mekong Delta offering opportunities for cultural discovery and the eco system to view the diverse bird species mentioned at the top of the post. Riding elephants in Cambodia is still available for tourists. The provinces of Siem Reap, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri have elephants used for rides. Every year fewer elephants remain, they are close to extinction and riding them makes them die at a younger age. The best and most enjoyable way to spend time with elephants during your stay in Cambodia is to book a tour at the Mondulkiri Project‘s elephant sanctuary, where you get to feed, walk with, wash and swim with elephants in their natural environment. Elephants at this sanctuary have been retired from being used for elephant rides. They will get to spend the rest of their lives eating as much bamboo as they want, swimming in the river whenever they want and playing in the mud whenever they want. Located at the little-visited Sen Monorom, deep in Cambodia’s largest province of Mondulkiri. Known for its vast expanse of thick forests, thunderous waterfalls, hills that wave up and down towards misty, faraway horizons and a real chance to immerse yourself in nature. So enjoy. There are numerous options with either full-service Airlines or budget carriers to get you into Cambodia. If you arrive in Phnom Penh and head to Siem Reap a novel way to travel instead of aircraft is by boat, takes around 5 hours. From Siem Reap you could utilise Jetstar/Singapore Airlines to Singapore or Bangkok Airways/Thai Airways into Bangkok. Visit Siem Reap as a side trip whilst visiting Singapore, 3 nights Singapore, 4 nights Siem Reap, heaps of opportunities.
04 September 2017
Singapore, an island city-state off southern Malaysia, it's a global financial centre with a tropical climate and multicultural population. I have always advised passengers new to travel to include Singapore along with Australia, the Pacific Islands and New Zealand as a great introduction and a safe destination. Often viewed as a transit port by many you miss out on what is on offer by not spending a few days here. Raffles Hotel is a colonial-style luxury hotel. It was established by Armenian hoteliers, the Sarkies Brothers, in 1887. The hotel was named after British statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. This is another place to treat yourself if your budget allows, if not I recommend high tea here anyway. Gardens by the Bay is a nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. The evening light display in the gardens is awe inspiring. Treat yourselves and stay at Marina Bay Sands hotel attached to the gardens via a walkway and take in the wonder of this piece of architecture. Sentosa is an island off Singapore’s southern coast, connected to the city by road, cable car, pedestrian boardwalk and monorail. Tiger Sky Tower has panoramic views that can stretch as far as Indonesia. On the south coast of the island are soft sandy beaches lined with food stalls and bars one being Palawan Beach. Close by is a suspension bridge to a smaller, tranquil, palm-lined off shore island called Tanjong Beach. Qantas, Emirates, BA and Singapore Airlines can take you there depending on your style and budget. I probably wouldn’t waste my points to this destination, keep saving those points for a bigger picture, like around the world, or business class somewhere further afield. There are usually great deals/sales on the full-service airlines to Singapore like Qantas or Singapore Airlines and the budget carriers that are supported and owned by those full-service carriers offer competitive pricing, remembering not to fall victim to their add ons should you go budget. Happy travels.
12 April 2017
Arinsal is a village in Andorra, set at an altitude of between 1550 and 2560 metres, close to the border with Spain at Tor, Pallars. In the summer Arinsal is home to walkers and bikers, as well as those who just want to relax in the mountain scenery. In the winter, it offers skiing and snowboarding for beginners, as well as a good selection of runs for intermediates. We have been several times now for my children to learn to ski, for Daddy to do a little off-piste and for mummy to join the Apres Ski wine club! Just 2.5 hours' drive from Barcelona, Arinsal offers excellent ski schools and wide open pistes making it great for beginners. For intermediate skiers and snowboarders there are good selection of red, blue, green and black runs. The more advanced skier may get tired if there for longer than a week. The small town has plenty going on and is great for family dining so I would opt for self catering or even bed & breakfast and taken advantage of the great food. There are also gift shops, ski shops and supermarkets so you don't have to leave. The accommodation range is vast with everything from bedsits to 5 star hotels & with 2 main lifts it never really gets too busy. The resort is not high so not good early or late in the season. We always fly to Barcelona, self drive and stay at the Hotel Patagonia in a quad apartment on B&B. Contact me for more information on skiing in Arinsal!
05 April 2017
'A Luxurious Oasis for the Whole Family' was how the Royal Palm was sold and I couldn't believe how they please so many clients with different needs - and all well. Marrakech, that captivating, romantic and enchantingly ancient Moroccan city, is well known for its narrow alleyways, souks and bustling old-world charm. But for travellers seeking a little more space, seclusion and serenity, a short drive out of the city uncovers an altogether more tranquil world. Spread gracefully across 231 hectares of palm groves, olive trees, reflective ponds and manicured fairways, overlooked by the majestic Atlas Mountains, Royal Palm Marrakech – which is part of the luxury Mauritian chain Beachcomber and a member of the Leading Hotels of the World – provides an exclusive refuge from the stresses and strains of daily life; a place to unwind and unburden oneself from work and routine. This sense of privacy and separation is achieved instantly; the long, palm-lined driveway escorts guests from the outside world and into the welcoming embrace of the resort – a retreat into a new Eden; a verdant oasis of calm and tranquillity. From here on in, the only complication is deciding which activity to try first. The list of facilities at the Royal Palm is hugely impressive; the 18-hole golf course is the most visible (it is the only golf course in Marrakech to be set within the grounds of a hotel), but an array of other options lie nestled amongst the palms. Four red clay tennis courts, two mini courts, a squash court, 2,000m² heated swimming pool, table tennis, fitness centre, yoga and Pilates studio and a boxing gym are all available, and come included in the room rate. Alternatively, guests seeking a little less exertion can relax in the Clarins spa, which covers 3,500m² spa and features 14 treatment rooms (for couples and singles), Hammams, hair and beauty salon, and relaxation pre- or post-treatment pool. But what do parents do with the little ones while they’re enjoying all these activities? Well, the kids’ club is a little more extensive than the term usually implies; this separate compound is more like a professional day care centre and features a wealth of indoor and outdoor activities for children aged between three to 12. Far from being bored, kids are unlikely to want to leave when their parents pick them up! And at the end of the day’s activities, families can regroup and enjoy dinner at a choice of restaurants, including Moroccan, Mediterranean and international options. This is the real beauty of the Royal Palm; the fact that it is so perfectly positioned for the family market, as well as being a retreat for couples and adult group getaways. As a short-haul retreat for European travellers, it is able to cater for the school holiday market – including short half-term breaks – as well as longer luxury holidays.This is evidenced by the resort’s collection of rooms, suites and villas, which come in a selection of styles and range from a generous 72m² to an indulgent 741m². The deluxe rooms can accommodate a couple and one child, while the suites open up options for families with up to four kids. And whatever room type is chosen, all guests are offered large private terraces that overlook the golf course, gardens and Atlas Mountains. For the ultimate luxury, the Prince Villa features two bedrooms, a private courtyard and even its own heated outdoor pool. I just know that larger families and group would be accommodated at the usual Beachcomber service prevails, guaranteeing interconnecting rooms etc. While the enhancing labyrinth of old Marrakech (which, it should be mentioned, is just a short ride away by free shuttle bus) is undoubtedly alluring, Royal Palm Beachcomber Luxury Marrakech creates the perfect counter-balance – a world of space, serenity and sublime luxury. For travellers seeking to escape into a personal paradise, 3 hours from the UK, the Royal Palm provides everything under the sun.
29 March 2017
The journey to Morocco’s Atlantic coast is short enough to make Essaouira and ideal “add-on” destination for visitors to Marrakech, and the drive is a pleasure in itself, with stunning scenery in every direction and surprises around every corner. (Direct flights are available though.) The most memorable of the sights is the bizarre sight of tree-climbing goats, which balance in the branches of argan trees to feed on the nuts that would be otherwise out of reach. Argan trees are unique to this part of Morocco and are used to produce an oil that has many cosmetic and medicinal benefits. En route to the coast, travellers have the chance to stop off at an argan plantation and traditional factory, which harnesses the skills of locals to produce oil using centuries-old techniques passed down through generations. Essaouira itself is a charming coastal city with a laid-back vibe that stems from its wide, inviting beach. Here, kite-surfers make use of the brisk Atlantic winds, while locals stroll casually along the sand alongside horses, camels and donkeys. Like Marrakech, Essaouira has its medina – the ancient walled city showcases the city’s true heart and soul. Unlike the Red City however, the streets of this ancient marketplace are wider and the atmosphere more relaxed. Shoppers are generally free to browse and buy as they please, with a minimum of fuss and frenzy. During my time in Essaouira, we stayed at the seafront Atlas Essaouira & Spa, which features a restaurant and bar overlooking the beach. We also visited the Sofitel Mogador Golf Resort & Spa and dined at Heure Bleue Palais, a luxurious riad that forms part of the Relais & Chateaux collection. Essauouira would be great for a short break, as part of a twin centre and unlike Marrakesh maybe a longer holiday of a week to two weeks.
28 March 2017
Fifteen years ago, two English brothers, Anwar and Riaz Harland Khan, travelled out of Marrakech and up into the Atlas Mountains. There, in the scenic Ouirgane Valley, they discovered a land of such staggering beauty that they vowed to bring it to the world. Almost immediately an offer was made, accepted, and the dream of L’Amandier was born. We were some of the first travel professionals to be invited to this amazing Boutique Hotel, high in the hills. Anwar Harland Khan admitted that, at the time the land was purchased, he didn’t even know if it had a water supply, and the building process has been so meticulous – so focused on perfection – that the swimming pool has been rebuilt three times. But now, this outstanding luxury boutique resort is on the verge of officially opening. Nestled amidst fragrant herb gardens and citrus orchards, overlooking the snow-capped peaks, prairie-like pastures and a striking aquamarine lake, this terracotta resort is a haven of tranquility – an oasis of peace in a spectacular setting. Set 1,000 meters above sea-level, L’Amandier is a compact, low-rise complex comprising a six-room hotel and 13 stunning pool villas. In its development, no corner has been cut; no comfort compromised. The villas, which are already open for reservations, have been created in a classical Moroccan style with two or three bedrooms set around a central courtyard. The spacious living areas open out seamlessly onto terraces with private plunge pools and al fresco dining areas, before descending down into landscaped gardens. Rooftop areas with cabanas take full, panoramic advantage of the spectacular mountain vistas. All villas are adorned with hand-selected furnishings and fittings that reflect the timeless chic of Moroccan and Mediterranean design. The hotel’s six rooms, which are due to open in May, are similarly styled with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a verdant valley and the snow-tipped peaks beyond. But according to Anwar, “food is the apex”, and L’Amandier will aim to showcase the very best of Moroccan cuisine, going – as he puts it – “beyond the tagine”. The resort will produce many of its ingredients onsite in its herb and vegetable gardens, citrus and olive orchards. L’Amandier also features traditional clay ovens which are used to slow-cook meats until they are sublimely succulent and tender. For the best possible start to the day, guests can have their breakfast prepared by the hotel’s chefs in their villa. Daytimes can be spent hiking through the incredible mountain scenery, cooling off in resort’s pool, enjoying a few sets on the tennis court, or simply relaxing in the luxury of the hotel, breathing the fresh mountain air and enjoying the blissful peace and quiet. A spa is also being developed, which will add another tranquil dimension to this already serene resort - I could just see myself sitting and reading in one of the many nooks. As it prepares to welcome its first guests this summer, its feels as if L’Amandier is not embarking on the start of a journey, but arriving at its end. Having created such an exquisite, exceptional hotel, the Harland Khan brothers are now able to fulfill their dream and showcase the breathtaking Ouirgane Valley to the world.
28 March 2017
I was lucky enough to have this trip sponsored by the Moroccan Tourist Board. They wanted to show me all that Marrakesh has so that I can pass my knowledge onto you. I have been before and do love the cultural diversity that is only a short flight away. While the ancient medina, with its bustling charm and exotic aromas, is the main draw of any visit to Marrakech, the city offers far more than just souks and shopping. While some of my group headed off karting I opted for a more cultural experience at Hotel La Maison Arabe Marrakech, learning the art of traditional Moroccan cuisine. Here we were able to learn how to create Morocco’s national dish, the tagine, in a stylish and interactive setting. In a central kitchen, the chef demonstrates the ingredients and skills needed to create a tagine, whilst being filmed by a camera. This is then streamed live to TV monitors positioned in front of each trainee, ensuring they get the best possible view. All set in one of the Pink city's oldest and finest restaurants. Cooking classes are a great cultural experience for all ages – especially families – and have the added advantage of being able to enjoy the fruits of one’s labours in the tasting session afterwards. As Morocco’s rich culinary heritage played a major role in the trip, we were able to a sample some of Marrakech’s top restaurants. Nestled within the medina, just off Jemaa el-Fnaa Square, Le Salama captures the mood of Marrakech. Heading through an inviting red-carpeted doorway off the ancient alleyways, guests are escorted into a sultry, atmospheric restaurant that exudes mystery and charm. Vast platters of grilled meats and vegetables first appear, followed by huge tagines of lamb or chicken that simply slides off the bone. During dinner, the atmosphere heats up even further as belly and candle dancers emerge from the shadows to delight diners with another aspect of Moroccan culture which is suitable for the entire family. The rooftop terrace also serves up magnificent views of the medina and provides the perfect setting for a post-dinner drink. Following a surprisingly prompt start the next morning, we were taken up into the cool foothills of the Atlas Mountains to dust off the cobwebs and experience yet another side of this multi-faceted destination. Leaving the Red City behind, the road winds up into the hills, past dramatic gorges, rocky rivers and traditional villages, as the spectacular snow-capped Atlases loom ever larger on the approaching horizon. Ski resorts and hill walking available within an hour of the city! At approximately 1,000 meters above sea-level the mountain scenery fans out into a beautiful plateau, where a brand new luxury boutique resort is on the verge of opening. Following the fast pace of city life in Marrakech, there can be no better place to clear the mind than at L’Amandier – a collection of charming terracotta villas nestled amidst fragrant herb gardens, citrus orchards and blooming bougainvillea. A beautiful place to rest and do a twin center after the bussle of the city. This visit only added to my interest to explore more of Morocco and in the present climate I would be more than happy to take my family to Morocco.
22 September 2017
Dubai had been off my personal radar as I wasn't sure it was for me as I'm not a huge fan of shopping. However, we needed sun! With the help of the Travel Counsellors 'man on the ground' in the UAE, together we put a trip together for my family that wasn't focussed on shopping! (I did take a sneaky peek at the Dubai Mall though!). We stayed just out of town at the Dubai Creek side, with beautiful views over the Dubai skyline and a fantastic hotel that wasn't too glitzy! As with all of our trips, we had a mixture of lazing by the pool, eating wonderful food and doing some planned excursions. We took a city tour in search of some culture in Dubai and it's an ideal way to spend a morning. My favorite trip was out into the sand for a 4WD experience. Our trip was in a new 4WD and there was just us in, which was great. We also went out in our own convey - it was fantastic (I would still take a travel sickness tablet before though...! ) We had a brilliant driver who told me a huge amount about the UAE - he even took us to meet local Emiratis and we had dinner under the stars. As it is so easy to get about in Dubai, we also visited Kite Beach, a public beach by the Burj Al Arab, Wild Wadi water park, The Atlantis Hotel, Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building). With so many flights out to the UAE from the UK daily, and as it's not too far, Dubai is well worth a visit for a short break in the sun or as part of a planned stopover en route to somewhere else. Have a look at my pictures to find out more!
12 January 2017
This trip was all about quality and fun with my friends. As a Club Med Specialist, I was rewarded with a trip out to Turkey along with 2 friends of my choice. And what a choice I made - my best friend and my sister. And we had a blast without the kids! Set against the backdrop of Mount Taurus, right by Antalya, this holiday resort has everything from watersports activities to spa sessions to quiet walks along a spectacular expanse of beach. This is an ideal family destination with something for everyone from 4 months old! The bungalows sit in the shade of a pine grove and the hotel looks out onto the Mediterranean. There is also the Zen Adult-Only areas - two complementary atmospheres for this great resort. How do they manage to please so many people? From single adults in the Zen areas, to families in the kids play zones, there really is a place for everyone and every mood. They have thought of everything too, even having a baby room so that if your little one is upset in the night, you can go to the room and make some food or play. As an adult you can party on into the night if you choose. Fantastic! And the food...we ate all day! Breakfast then on to coffee and cakes, lunch, pancakes and tea then an evening meal that lasted for hours. You don't have to worry about all of the food you're eating as you have a gym, exercise classes, paddle boarding, archery, sailing, circus skills and lots more! I did it all but you could quite as easily sit yourself in one of two Zen pools and relax. I was so impressed by Palmiye and the standard of the resort, and I highly recommend the Club Med concept to everyone, you will never call anywhere else 'all-inclusive' again!
08 January 2018
I don't always travel abroad and not always alone. Here at Travel Counsellors, we like to cover all sorts of travel so when the opportunity came up to help organize our rugby groups tour I jumped at the chance. Alnwick District is situated in the heart of Northumberland, with Alnwick Castle taking pride of place in the town. Under the Normans, and for some time after, the town was the administrative town for the whole county of Northumberland. Today, the district of Alnwick stretches from the North Sea Coast between Low Newton - Amble and south west to Elsdon near Otterburn and taking in about a third of the Northumberland National Park. A fantastic part of the UK. Castle after castle and amazing beaches led to the Ripon Rugby Club Harry Potter Themed Tour of Alnwick District. (Harry Potter was filmed at Alnwick). Following the line of the Hogwarts Express we drove up the coast of Northumberland, with castles and plenty of accommodation from beautiful hotels and guest houses to lodges and park homes. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was filmed on location at Alnwick Castle in Autumn 2000. The following year, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (the second film in the series) used Alnwick Castle for shooting. We had a day in Alnwick Castle, which has a Harry Potter theme. We had broomstick riding lessons, meals in the long dining room and spell making sessions. Others in our group went off and toured the gardens. The rest of the weekend was spent on the fantastic beaches of Northumberland. They are so big! Better than most beaches abroad as many are empty - they are a just a bit chilly! There's high quality food fresh from the sea, great accommodation and lots to do. It's ideal for a long weekend or a family 'staycation'. It's sometimes easy for people to forget that we cover the UK as a holiday destination and groups from schools, sports clubs or even conference. If you're looking to plan a trip around the UK or need help with a group booking, get in touch!
05 January 2017
Paris had never really been on my radar, just another European city I thought. However it was my husband’s wish that for his 40th birthday we visited the ‘city of romance’. Although I had never been I knew so much about the city and knew it was important to arrange a transfer from the airport as it is a long way out of the city centre. The transfer in gave us a chance to see the city and how wrong I was. Stunning buildings and monuments, few cities in the world deliver such excitement and romance in such a compact area. With its broad tree-lined boulevards, iconic monuments, chic boutiques and elegant stores, colourful markets and remarkable museums. The food is worth the journey alone, with some of the finest restaurants, wonderful traditional brasseries and an astonishing array of mouth-watering markets, and all really ‘comfortable’ to just stroll into whatever you are wearing and enjoy good food and wine. I strongly recommend that everyone books a traditional 2CV tour of the city on their first night in Paris. Several times are available, however if you book for 8pm at night then you will arrive at the Eiffel Tower just as they switch the lights on ‘for you’! The tour is so much fun – we popped the roof down, a blanket over our legs and we toured the city. The actual city centre is small and easy to navigate, however we much preferred staying on the left bank. The pedestrian Latin Quarter is lovely, just by the French Senate and Luxembourg Gardens, and a stones' throw from all that the artistic left bank has to offer. Beautiful churches and architecture, wonderful bars and restaurants and an exciting nightlife too! Most days we just ‘strolled’ and enjoyed the last of the autumn sun. Livening things up now and again with a Segway tour, quick nip in the side door of the Louvre to see all that is famous and a Seine River Cruise (which bored me after all the other exciting things we had done.) I am one of those people who firmly believe that we all must go away at least a few times a year (although preferably once a month if I can). Paris is one of those quick fixes that you can always fit in on a free weekend. With regular flights and Eurostar it’s never been easier.
16 April 2017
After visiting and staying at every wonderful Sandals resort on the island I 'gave back' in a big way. Myself and the other travel agents I travelled with swapped our luxury apartments and in my case my butler to volunteer and support the Sandals Foundation Labour Day Project in Whitehouse, Jamaica. The foundation is making every effort this year to work with Jamaican schools in improving the learning environments for the children. We worked on some much-needed improvements on Bluefield Bay Kindergarten & School. (The children and teachers helped too) Taking time out of our stay really made a difference. The Labour Day activities were not just about structural upgrades with painting, shaded areas and replacement of rotten windows, but to also encourage others to make positive changes to the places we take our holidays. It was a great time we spent there and 6 years on I am still in touch with the head mistress!
31 July 2008
Kefalonia, the hidden gem of the Ionian Islands! This amazing island is definitely unique. Even the locals spell it all different ways trying to keep this gem hidden, Cephalonia, Kefalonia, Kefallinia.. whatever... I found it! I am totally in love with this island – When I first started my job as a holiday rep back in the 1990’s I was given Kefalonia as my first ‘posting’. I wasn’t even sure what country it was in, never mind being able to show people around it! I arrived pre summer season ready for Greek Easter and straight away was welcomed by the warm atmosphere that makes you feel like a member of the family returning. Back then I was single lady and found the island easy and safe to travel around, so much so I stayed for 8 months! Living on the eastern side of the island in Sami, I was close to Drogerrati Caves and Mellisani Lake, two of the islands main attractions but a world away from anything else. After vowing to return, I arrived the 2nd time in Kefalonia with my new husband on our honeymoon. As a travel agent I could not think of anywhere in the world more romantic that the island of Captain Correlli's fame. Quiet secluded beaches, restaurants with excellent food and wine and sunsets that last all night. It also had lots to offer the ‘action man’ husband. Snorkeling, sailing, hill walking, caves to explore, underground waterways & the history from WWII. All this whilst based in a small hotel over in Lassi overlooking the bay of Argostoli. Great for those sunsets & a little more to do in the evenings. I always say that the island has something for everyone but if you want hustle & bustle, nightlife and Irish pubs then this is not for you. Greek tavernas, excellent vineyards and lush countryside make this island a complete paradise. Now with a young family of my own we have been several times to villas and self catering apartments in Fiskardo and Avithos. Fiskardo is very ‘yachty’ and you are likely to see the odd famous face coming alongside for supplies. The Onassis family owns an island just off the northern tip of Kefalonia. Avithos is now our second home, with at least one member of the family disappearing off for a holiday sometime in the year. We have been that many times the locals now comment on how they knew me when I was young!!!! With a mixture of sandy & pebble beaches, quiet Tavernas or Greek restaurants in the main square of Argostoli. Family apartments in Lassi with a choice of restaurants to private, secluded villas on a hillside above Assos for that special person in your life. Kefalonia has never failed to supply me with a fantastic holiday.
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Harrogate 6/15/2018 12:00:00 AM
Isle of Harris, Scotland 6/15/2018 12:00:00 AM
Sharow 6/15/2018 12:00:00 AM
Yorkshire 6/15/2018 12:00:00 AM
Staffordshire 1/15/2018 12:00:00 AM
Edinburgh 1/12/2018 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 1/12/2018 12:00:00 AM
Norfolk 1/12/2018 12:00:00 AM
Nottingham 1/12/2018 12:00:00 AM
Stafford 1/12/2018 12:00:00 AM
Derbyshire 9/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 9/19/2017 12:00:00 AM
Oldham 9/18/2017 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 9/12/2017 12:00:00 AM
Oldham 9/11/2017 12:00:00 AM
Harrogate 9/11/2017 12:00:00 AM
York 9/11/2017 12:00:00 AM
Harrogate 9/4/2017 12:00:00 AM
Leeds 9/4/2017 12:00:00 AM
Pickhill 9/4/2017 12:00:00 AM
Belfast 7/5/2017 12:00:00 AM
Harrogate 7/5/2017 12:00:00 AM
Leeds 7/5/2017 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 7/5/2017 12:00:00 AM
Edinburgh 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
Harrogate 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
North Yorkshire 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
Norfolk 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
Derbyshire 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
Leeds 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
Hope Valley 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
North Yorks 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 6/21/2017 12:00:00 AM
Harrogate 3/15/2016 12:00:00 AM
Harrogate 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Selby 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Harrogate 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
North Yorkshire 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
North Yorkshire 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Leeds 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Darlington 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Ripon 6/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
Selby 7/1/2012 5:40:00 PM
Livingston 6/28/2012 9:17:00 PM
Leeds 6/28/2012 8:46:00 AM
York 6/27/2012 7:45:00 PM
East Knoyle, Wiltshire 7/9/2011 10:00:00 PM
Harrogate 7/6/2011 12:21:00 PM
East Knoyle, Salisbury 4/27/2011 10:20:00 PM
Ripon 4/13/2011 11:25:00 AM
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Sheffield 5/26/2010 2:54:00 PM
Leeds 8/5/2008 11:30:00 AM