Sent by Nina Groves
Doncaster 12/15/2021 12:15:00 PM
Based in Gringley on the Hill
Looking for help with your business travel? Find out how I can help here
Hi I’m Ian and it would be my privilege to be your personal Travel Counsellor.
I’m passionate about the world of travel. I've worked for top UK travel and retail brands for almost 30 years and my travel knowledge and experience has helped me win awards for customer service and sales.
I love to travel and have visited 78 countries across 6 of the 7 continents on cruise holidays, land tours, city breaks, activity and theme park holidays, fly-and-flop beach holidays and UK breaks. I’ve travelled and organised trips as a solo traveller, couples, families and large groups for leisure and corporate clients.
My personal top 5 experiences are:
- The feast for the senses that a tour of India delivers
- The culture and flavours of a Mediterranean cruise holiday
- The romance of a Caribbean beach wedding
- The adventures of a US city, beach and theme park multi-centre
- The flora and fauna experienced from a motorhome in New Zealand
My preferred way to travel is by cruise ship, I’ve been on 109 and have amazing experiences to share with you. I plan my own trips down to the finest detail and would love the opportunity to do the same for you. I treat every enquiry as if it’s my own holiday. Unlike high street travel stores I'm truly independent which means that with access to over 70,000 travel options I can find the one that's right for you and not the one that I'm paid to sell.
As part of your holiday I can arrange:
- Low cost, charter and scheduled flights and private jets
- Hotels, villas, apartments, cottages, castles, caravans and boats
- Motorhomes and rental cars
- Cruises from the UK, worldwide fly-cruises and round the world voyages
- Land tours, self-drive tours and rail journeys
- Safari, diving, trekking, ranching, cycling and skiing holidays
- Weddings abroad, honeymoons, stag and hen trips
- Theme park, attractions, sporting events and theatre tickets
- Excursions and unique experiences
- Departure lounges, airport parking, airport hotels and essential travel insurance
Operating my own business with Travel Counsellors enables me to invest time getting to know you and your travel needs, turning your dreams into reality at a time that suits you. I look after you from your initial enquiry until after you return home. Have a read through my customer testimonials below to see what my clients say about me and my service.
The world is your oyster, so if it’s on a map and open to tourists, let’s talk about the experiences and memories you want to create.
Every journey starts with the first step, so pick up the phone or email me for friendly expert advice and I’ll do the rest for you.
After a fab few days in Greece, I was back home and at my desk - sadly without the poolside views I was getting used to - a super break, highly recommended!
Have you checked your passport is still in date? www.gov.uk/check-a-passport-travel-europe As always any questions call me direct on 01777 780004
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.
15 December 2021
We are in the middle of winter and it’s not too late to getaway for some winter sun. The Caribbean islands are perfect for a winter getaway, let me take you on a journey to one of my favourites, the spice island of Grenada. The most southerly of the Windward Islands, Grenada is known as the Spice Island, an affectionate nod to its trading history; the air is filled with scents of abundant nutmeg and cinnamon. Here powdery white and black sand beaches are lapped by the most azure of cerulean waters; perfect for sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling, and perhaps the best wreck-diving in the Caribbean. Beautiful Beaches, Harbours & Wildlife - The island’s interior is rich with rainforest, waterfalls and, within volcanic craters, high lakes and coastal mangroves are home to birdlife. Wildlife includes the mona monkey, armadillo and mongoose and, unique to the island, the Grenada dove and endangered hook-billed kite. In the south the beaches are sheltered and colonial British and colourful Caribbean buildings lead up from the harbour to line the narrow streets of the capital, St George’s, where there is a lively market, and numerous forts with panoramic views. Close by is the long stretch of sand at Grand Anse. More secluded beaches include L’Ance Aux Epines and Morne Rouge. The north has a wilder, windswept Atlantic coast and the Levera National Park covers 450 stunning acres whilst Lake Antoine hosts a huge variety of birdlife. The west offers black-sand beaches, fish markets and nutmeg tours. Local Spices Pack Flavour - Hotels host excellent Sunday brunches, and beach shacks serve fresh fish daily. There are elegant beach bistros and sophisticated award-winning waterfront restaurants. Enjoy a fish sandwich lunch with spectacular views at BB’s Crabback. Oildown, the national dish, is a hearty combination of salted meat, breadfruit and dumplings steamed in coconut milk. Cocoa tea with local spices is a popular breakfast drink, rum is everywhere, and Carib is the traditional beer of choice. Over & Under Water Treasures - As the shipwreck capital of the Caribbean, with amazing wrecks and an underwater sculpture park, there’s great snorkelling and numerous PADI-certified dive centres. Inland, there’s Mount Saint Catherine’s peak and hiking in Grand Etang National Park. When to visit - December to May is the best time to visit as these are, typically, the driest months. The last of the turtles hatch between the end of June and the beginning of July. Although the climate is wetter April to November, the rain usually comes in short, heavy bursts leaving sun for much of the day. Thanks to its location at the edge of the tropical storm and hurricane belt, Grenada is rarely affected by the storms that pass through from July to November. Where to stay - Whether you’re an adventure seeker, business traveller or visiting Grenada with your family, there is a wide range of accommodation options available for you, private villas, all-inclusive hotels, boutique resorts and self-catering apartments, there really is something suitable for everyone. Why not call me so I can share some personal recommendations to suit exactly what you are looking for on your holiday to Grenada. I’m a Travel Counsellor and with us it’s personal. If you want to travel with peace of mind get in touch with your holiday plans however near or far away. Thank you to my clients who continue to book with me, knowing they have me at the end of the phone available every step of the way when they travel in the UK and rest of the world, for leisure and for business.
06 June 2019
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 - the good news is that this is possible! As my customers tell me, '...if the kids are happy I can relax on my holiday too', and I couldn't agree more, great kids entertainment and occasional supervision for your children can be important. Here are some tips from my customers and friends on how to avoid having a stressful journey with the kids - nobody wants to be stressed or fall out before you've even left the airport! 1. 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 guidebook 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 new things a try. 2. 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. 3. If it's possible pre-book your seats as knowing you are sat together will give you piece of mind and you can often turn up a little later to the airport when you have checked in online, leaving less time to entertain your child at the airport before boarding. 4. Choose accommodation 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 through the high season). 5. Requesting a ground floor room if available is often a good idea as many rooms lead onto gardens giving extra play areas. 6. When flying it’s helpful to have a drink or boiled sweets to suck on during take-off and landing - have a competition to see who can make theirs last the longest! Also ensure you have plenty of ways to entertain your little one such as crayons, books and of course their favourite toy - or if appropriate their latest tech such as an iPad. 7. 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. 8. 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 - it's a holiday not a boot camp! 9. 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. 10. Booking with a Travel Counsellor means we can do many of these things for you - enjoy!
02 December 2020
The stunning Pacific Coast Touring Route takes you from Sydney to Queensland’s sunny capital Brisbane with stops at some of my favourite places along the way. With a few nights stay in the magnificent city of Sydney, that sits on a natural harbour - use your time here to visit some wonderful sights. From the world-famous Sydney Opera House to the iron-grey struts of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – I highly recommend walking over the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge and also the hop-on-hop-off bus which has a couple of different routes including Bondi Beach. Also live like a local and hop on one of the green and gold ferries that weave their way back and forth across the harbour to Manly, renowned for its surf breaks and laid-back vibe. With so many choices from city-life – will you be able to fit it all in? At the end of your stay, travel on to Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region and just a 90-minute drive from the city. The region is blessed with a number of cellar doors at both big-name, renowned wineries as well as small, family-owned vineyards. Travel North along the Coast and you’ll find dolphins in Port Stephens plus Rick Stein’s newest Australian incarnation, Bannisters, which is found at Bannisters Port Stephens. This is known for its marine life and home to a pod of resident dolphins in the bay. From your stay here, continue North to the popular holiday resort of Coffs Harbour. It truly has amazing beaches, the Marine Park and the Big Banana monument! After a nights’ stay, head to Byron Bay which is a beachside town located in the far-northeastern corner of the state of New South Wales. There are several beaches that are popular for surfing and the scenery attracts skydivers. An ocean-way path allows visitors to walk and cycle from the town-centre to Cape Byron Lighthouse. Use time here to catch the stunning orange sunsets with a cold beer - it will take your breath away. This area is noted for its wildlife, with whale watching a significant contributor to the local economy. Temperate and tropical waters merge here, making it a popular place for scuba diving and snorkelling. End your stay in the capital of Queensland, Brisbane. This is the most populated city here and the 3rd most populated in Australia. Major landmarks and attractions include South Bank Parklands, the Queensland Cultural Centre (home to the Queensland Museum, the Art Gallery and other institutions), Fortitude Valley, the Riverwalk network, the D'Aguilar National Park, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and so much more. Immediately to the south and north of Brisbane are the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast respectively, which are home to several of Australia's most popular swimming and surfing beaches. I hope this provides a real taster of experiences from this Pacific Coast itinerary - it is well worth doing, I loved every minute, it was an incredible adventure to fulfil If you are looking to do something similar, get in touch – the question is when would you like to go?
13 October 2019
If you don't mind a little cold, Stockholm in winter is one of Europe's best destinations. This urban paradise in Sweden is the definition of coziness or as they say in Swedish 'mysigt'. For this weekend break I travelled with Marcus and our friends David and Jackie. We flew with Ryanair from Stansted travelling with hand luggage only. Our pre-booked Meet & Greet airport parking worked a treat and wasdefinitely worth paying the extra £5 to be able to leave the car right outside the terminal building and have just a short walk to check-in. After the 2-hour 15-minute flight we arrived at Stockholm's Skavsta airport - a small regional airport outside of the city. I pre-booked our 80-minute coach transfer from Skavsta to the city coach terminal, this was a comfortable way to see the wintery Swedish countryside. From the city terminal we walked to our hotel. Our home for the weekend was the 5-star Radisson Collection Strand Hotel, right on the waterfront, a great location in a bustling part of the city within reach of shops, restaurants and sight-seeing. Getting around Stockholm is really easy and there are lots of options; buses, trams, ferries, taxis, electric scooters - we opted to see the city on foot as the architecture is fantastic. Stockholm has lots on offer and my highlight was exploring one of Europe's best preserved examples of medieval architecture, Gamla Stan, with its winding narrow streets, it is home to the National Palace, National Cathedral and the Nobel Museum. In Stockholm you can visit museums, galleries and indoor markets, stop for coffee and Swedish pastries or enjoy scenic boat ride through canals - there are countless things to do here. The 'Stockholm Pass' is a sensible pre-purchase option as it gives you unlimited access to most museums and public transport and also allows you to skip the line at popular attractions. A visit to Sweden is not complete without a visit to the ABBA museum, far from cheesy it's actually very good and much more interactive than I expected and it's also very popular. We visited first thing and it filled up in no time with people of all ages getting involved with the many exhibits. We followed this with a fantastic matinee performance of Mamma Mia the Party which is now showing at London's O2. **Weekend break top tip - pre-book as much as you can to maximise your break and reduce the amount of time deciding what to do and saving time waiting in line for tickets** If you are looking to plan your next weekend break call me on 01777 780004 or email me at email@example.com
15 December 2021
I love Canada and feel particularly at home on the east coast. Ontario has so much to offer, from the wonders of the Canadian wilderness to the cosmopolitan cities of Toronto and Ottawa. Let me share how to enjoy the best of both worlds incorporating city attractions and natural gems into a long weekend. Day 1-2: Toronto city highlights Day 1: Start your visit with a trip to the top of the iconic CN Tower for a dazzling view of Canada’s largest city before heading to an interactive attraction like the Royal Ontario Museum, Ontario Science Centre or Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Catch perfect views of the skyline from a harbour cruise or ride the short ferry to car-free Toronto Islands, a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario. Spend the afternoon exploring by bike. Immerse yourself in Toronto’s multicultural mix by strolling around Greektown or Chinatown, grabbing dinner from one of the restaurants, bistros and pubs - or choose a culinary tour in Kensington Market neighbourhood. Day 2: Shopaholics should head to the landmark Toronto Eaton Centre, and the stylish Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Couture reigns in Yorkville, while unique boutiques and galleries can be found in the Victorian-era Distillery Historic District. Spend the evening enjoying the bright lights of ballet, opera, theatre and live music performances or get in the game at a professional sporting event. Time a visit around a year-round lineup of festivals, including the star-studded Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) or Luminato, a 10-day arts celebration, to experience the city at its best. Day 3-4: Outdoor adventure Day 3: Drive two and a half hours out of Toronto to discover the sparkling lakes, granite shores and charming towns of picturesque Cottage Country, Muskoka. Highlights include a cruise in a vintage steam-driven vessel, a dip or paddle into blue waters or simply relax by the lake. The nearby world-famous Algonquin Provincial Park is a must. With hundreds of lakes, the park is ideal for beginner or expert canoeists. There’s also an abundance of hiking trails, with the chance to spot wildlife that ranges from hawks and great blue herons to moose, beaver and deer. Visit in the fall to see the forest ablaze with colour. Thanks to limited light pollution, Algonquin Provincial Park is the perfect place for a spot of stargazing. Once the sun goes down, visitors get a clear view of the stars and planets in the Ontario sky. Day 4: South of Algonquin, discover the sustainable experiences offered at Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, from an evening wolf howl experience to an astronomy tour to ‘bikejoring’ - the act of being pulled by a Siberian husky through the forest, whilst riding a bike! Finish on a high by heading to OWL Rafting to try white-water rafting along the Ottawa River. The rapids are great fun for all levels of experience and make for a great family bonding exercise. Departing 09 June 2022 Flying from Manchester Direct 3-Nights 4* Toronto hotel with breakfast 1-Night 4* Eagle Lake hotel, Lake View Room 5-days Car Hire (Intermediate) From £995 per person (based on 2 sharing) I’m a Travel Counsellor and with us it’s personal. If you want to travel with peace of mind get in touch with your holiday plans however near or far away. Thank you to my clients who continue to book with me, knowing they have me at the end of the phone available every step of the way when they travel in the UK and rest of the world, for leisure and for business.
14 November 2020
The captivating island of Saint Lucia has enchanted visitors ever since early settlers first arrived on her shores. With soothing turquoise waters that gently lap upon soft, snow-white sands against a backdrop of tropical forest and the iconic soaring Pitons, it’s easy to see why many are beguiled by this island. Saint Lucia welcomes visitors, not only with a heavenly landscape, but with the warmest locals, most flavoursome cuisine and an unprecedented density of activities which appeal to both families and couples, looking to escape reality and savour moments of pure bliss together in an island paradise. Interesting Facts… • Early settlers of Saint Lucia first named the island ‘Land of the Iguanas’ • Having changed rule between French and English before independence in 1979, Saint Lucia bears many cultural influences of both nations. • Saint Lucia is part of Lesser Antilles, a chain of volcanic islands. Geothermal activity is still evident across the island’s mud springs and natural hot pools. • The island is home to over 70 square kilometres of lush rainforest that’s teaming with vibrant wildlife. • Across June and July every year, Saint Lucia hosts its annual carnival which culminates in a two-day street parade. • The Saint Lucian Parrot is endemic and is the island’s national bird. Family time in Saint Lucia… Both on land and in the warm inviting waters of the Caribbean Sea, Saint Lucia is jam-packed with activities to enthral the entire family. Little ones will love the open expanses of soft white sand in Saint Lucia, affording them ample space to play and have fun, whether that’s simply building sandcastles and gathering shells, or taking a dip in the ocean to frolic in the gentle waves. For some cooling respite from the Caribbean sun, head into the jungle interior of the island where on a guided tour, a local nature expert will lead you through native flora and fauna. Explore the forest floor by bike or get up amongst the forest canopy and embark on a thrilling zipline excursion or rope bridge walk. Romance in Saint Lucia… Voted the ‘World’s Leading Honeymoon Destination’ by the World Travel Awards nine times, this romantic island idyll has activities in abundance to help make your honeymoon, wedding or proposal unforgettable. My recommendations to experience the best of Saint Lucia… Visit Pigeon Island - once a lookout-point during the battles between British and French forces, Pigeon Island is now a historic monument that you can explore and head to the stunning viewpoint. There’s a fab’ little bar and restaurant called Jambe de Bois – definitely worth a lunch visit for a roti!! Party at the Gros Islet Jump Up – every Friday the fishing village of Gros Islet plays host to a street party and it’s a lot of fun and super friendly! Expect cold beers, barbecued food and giant speakers blasting out Caribbean music. Take a boat trip to Marigot Bay - head to the heavenly Marigot Bay, where human influence is minimal, leaving the splendour of nature to maintain its hold and create the most picturesque bay in the Caribbean. Climb a Piton - the iconic staples of the island’s landscape are no walk in the park due to their steep sides, but if you have climbing experience and are up for a challenge, the views at the top are well worth it. Chase waterfalls - Saint Lucia is blessed with a myriad of scenic waterfalls that you can visit and bathe under in the depths of the rainforest. Get in touch for recommendations on where to stay in Saint Lucia. I’m a Travel Counsellor and with us it’s personal. If you want to travel with peace of mind, get in touch with your future holiday plans. Thank you to all my clients who continue to book with me, knowing they have peace of mind when they travel the world.
18 February 2021
Bermuda is Britain's oldest colony and it lies 600 miles from the coastline of the USA and 1,000 miles north of the more frenetic tempo of the Caribbean. I spent part of my honeymoon on the spectacular island of Bermuda and I loved it! Perfectly polished and serenely beautiful, Bermuda is a colourful sub-tropical garden paradise made up of 150 small islands, the largest of which are connected by bridges and causeways. Bermuda is lapped by the clear turquoise waters of the Atlantic and encircled by delightful coves, inlets and delicate fine pink coral sand beaches, the islands are a mere 21-miles long and 1-mile wide. Delightful pastel-coloured houses with whitewashed roofs sit amidst manicured gardens of bougainvillea, oleander and hibiscus. Our travels around the islands were made easy by the variety of travel options - we travelled by ferry, public bus, taxi, bicycle and we walked, each mode gave us different views and fabulous photo opportunities. Having travelled around the island and met some of the fabulous locals I can confirm that Bermuda has much more to offer than just immaculate pink sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, sailing and golfing. One of the most memorable days was when we visited a beach - it was recommended to us by a man in a pub, now I know what you're thinking. He was actually the bar owner and he wanted us to experience a local beach as a contrast to the more popular tourist hot spots. He guaranteed it wouldn't be crowded in fact he said we would probably be the only people there and I can confirm that we were. It was a large sweeping bay with palm trees, pink sand and turquoise waters, whilst enjoying a refreshing swim I was joined by a group of sea turtles who were happily swimming along with me - what a unique and memorable experience! Now I said that Bermuda offers more than the beaches, and In the west of the island at the Royal Naval Dockyard, we visited an inspiring hub of local art and artistry. After the American Revolution, the British were no longer able to use ports in the US, and so construction began in 1809 on the Royal Naval Dockyard. It became known as the “Gibraltar of the West” and this now the dock serves as a cultural hub. Located in an old warehouse, the Dockyard Glassworks are where you will see the magic happen, you can marvel at the skill (and sometimes daring) of the master glassblowers, and browse the many one-of-a-kind pots and ornaments. As well as a number of other art areas and exhibits within the Royal Naval Dockyard – you must visit the National Museum of Bermuda! Local artist Graham Foster poured 7,000 hours of blood, sweat and tears into a frankly jaw-dropping mural, known as The Hall of History. The complex history of Bermuda and its citizens is squeezed into a mere 1,000ft² of space and is packed with local imagery and folklore, as well as modern history. The capital of Bermuda is Hamilton has a distinctly British feel with it's red phone boxes. Two-story pastel buildings line the seafront. In the summer these waterfront streets are closed to traffic at night and vendors and entertainers take their place for boisterous Harbour Nights parties which are great fun. On Bermuda there are tours, outdoor activities, boat tours, water sports, shopping, sights & landmarks to visit, museums to explore, spas and wellness options, vibrant nightlife, stunning nature, botanical gardens and parks, fabulous food and drink sporting events, concerts and shows. Bermuda is available on direct flights from the UK (less than 10-hours flying time) and this spectacular island destination offers sumptuous beach, golf, sailing, honeymoon and family holidays and so much more. I’d love to share with you my Bermuda holiday experience as you plan for yours, call me on 01777 780094 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
04 June 2019
In February we took a 7-night break to Boston Massachusetts, having visited a few US cities this was next on the list and it didn’t disappoint. We took the train to Kings Cross and then the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Terminal 5 - this was much cheaper than Heathrow Express at only 30p each, each way, for around an hour’s journey with no changes! Our flights were with British Airways direct from Terminal 5 and took only 7hrs 25mins to get to Boston. On arrival we jumped in a cab for a 15-minute journey to our home for the next 7 nights, the Boston Park Plaza. The hotel has an art deco feel and has recently been tastefully renovated, at the centre is a fabulous lobby bar and restaurant which proved to be a hive of activity throughout our trip. Our room was very compact so a call to reception and a small charge gave us an upgrade to a much larger room, well worth it for our 7-night stay. The hotel is centrally located just off Boston Common meaning we could do most of our exploring on foot. We purchased a 3-day Boston Go-City card ($119 each) which gave us discounted entry to various attractions around the city and beyond and even though we were off-season for some attractions, it still represented a superb saving. Using our Boston Go-City card we enjoyed a guided Freedom Trail walking tour which I would recommend early in the trip to get your bearings in the city and see places you may want to visit later. We visited Paul Reveres House, the Aquarium – I loved the stingrays, penguins and the turtles! At the Skywalk Observatory we saw spectacular views of the city skyline - top tip, call ahead to see if it is open, we didn’t and there was a private function, so we went back the next day. I’m not really a beer drinker but the Samuel Adams Brewery tour is educational and fun and having tasted their different beers I may now be converted! We also saw an evening performance of the Blue Man Group which was just fantastically bonkers – all this was included in the $119 card! Our other sightseeing saw us watching the squirrels and walking across Boston Common in the snow, visiting Long Wharf, doing some shopping at the Prudential Centre, and having lunch at Cheers bar – it had to be done! We found Boston to be a compact city and easy to navigate on foot, buses are frequent and cheap, and the underground called ‘T’, old but generally clean and on time. You can catch a ferry from Long Wharf to Cape Cod between May and September or hire a car for a couple of days and drive around the Cape with an overnight in Provincetown. There are lots of place to eat out for all budgets and tastes, being a coastal city seafood is dominant on the menu and steaks are divine. There are US restaurant chains like Cheesecake Factory as well as independents, we found a fabulous Mexican street food restaurant called Chilacates in Jamaica Plains district which was cheap as chips and then went to the ice cream parlour over the road – heaven! Food and drink costs are similar to UK city prices, remember the food portions are huge! My favourite parts of this trip were 1) The Freedom Trail guided walking tour and understanding the British impact on the city 2) Navigating the city on foot, seeing the sights and architecture 3) Walking across Boston Common in the fresh snow (it was -12 and with the wind chill -22, so layers were needed, and my running tights were essential under my jeans!) We loved Boston so much we have already booked to go back in September!
13 January 2021
Indulge your Green Fingers on your next holiday… Verdant gardens overflowing with natural beauty are a hallmark of some of the destinations that I can offer. With many people enjoying nature, especially over the last 12-months – many of us have found ourselves connected to the natural beauty around us. This has created enthusiasts who enjoy the colours, fragrance and even the structure of the many species found within flora and fauna. Here are some perfect destinations for nature lovers. Many of these amazing estates are easily accessible on a holiday booked with me as my hotel suppliers allow you access to enjoy these beautiful finds. Tenerife The Orchid Garden in Puerto del la Cruz, northern Tenerife, is actually the oldest on the island and has a private mansion that dates back to 1730. The current owners have thankfully opened up the grounds to visitors to show off the impressive display of orchids. Writer Agatha Christie and German botanist Alexander von Humboldt each visited the fabulous displays in their day. Alternately, why not travel a bit further west along the coast and you’ll come across the Parque del Drago and its famous “thousand-year-old” Icod Dragon tree. It may actually be only 800 years old (but who’s counting?) yet this Icod Dragon is considered the oldest living thing on the island. It towers more than 16 metres in height and spans 20 metres around the base. With an incredibly diverse landscape, charming rural villages and a host of idyllic beaches, Tenerife provides an endless supply of things to see and do. Offering a range of high-quality accommodation, with world-class golf courses and luxurious spa facilities, Tenerife is the perfect destination for a magical, memorable experience. Madeira This Atlantic island is home to several endemic plant and animal species. In 1960, the Madeira Botanical Garden transformed from a dream to reality. It is located 3km from the centre of Funchal, where the climate conditions are much in favour of exuberant vegetation. With about 35,000m2, the Botanical Garden boasts harmonious forms, contrasting colours and more than 2000 exotic plants. It is owned by the Regional Government of Madeira and, apart from being a beautiful place of leisure, it also serves as a Science and Culture Centre. Throughout the gardens visitors can find the plants labelled with their scientific names, common name and origin – helpful for novices like myself! Holidays on Madeira have so much more to offer than you imagined! Fantastic walking and hiking, water sports, golf, spas, and botanical gardens are just a few of the many memorable things you can see and do on this lovely island. Isles of Scilly Closer to Home we have the Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly. The sub-tropical Abbey Garden is a glorious exception; often called ‘the perennial Kew Gardens’ without the glass, home to 20,000 flourishing plants from more than 80 countries, and just 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall. Fringing the lush grid of paths which criss-cross the gardens are a host of succulents, towering palms and giant, lipstick-red flame trees. In spring, flowers bloom weeks ahead of those on the mainland – the perfect tonic after a long, cold winter. In the autumn the reds, golds and ambers of the seasonal foliage contrast with the magnificent proteas, aloes and camellias. Even at the winter solstice there are usually more than 300 species of plant in flower. Tresco is the archipelago’s second largest island. In addition to the Abbey Gardens it boasts a number of other attractions and has a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere. With rugged coastlines, empty beaches and historical sites, the island has lots to offer. The only privately owned island in the archipelago is ideal for enjoying the great outdoors and is reached by a short ferry transfer from St Mary’s harbour. Whether you choose to stay on the island or just visit for the day, it is a must-see for anyone planning on coming to the islands. If you are looking to indulge your green fingers on your next holiday or just like the sound of the destinations I’ve mentioned, then get in touch and lets discuss options on where to stay and how to get there.
11 November 2020
Whilst many have already booked their next holiday, travel might still be off the table for some of us right now. That doesn’t mean that you can’t plan - and book - your next trip, perhaps rolling the money you saved staying home this summer into an even more memorable experience in 2021 or 2022. I believe Africa will be among the first long-haul destinations to reopen to international travel. A safari in the bushveld offers a perfect socially-distanced holiday and countries such as Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia have been virtually untouched by the pandemic as they closed their borders very early. The two largest destinations, South Africa and Kenya, have handled the pandemic well and have already introduced stringent Covid protocols. In recent weeks, I’ve had enquiries and bookings for 2021 and 2022, with more enquiries for private tours and exclusive-use game vehicles. If you’ve always wanted to go on a safari, why not get planning now? Here are some of my ‘Best For’ safari locations to inspire you. Best for… Witnessing the wildebeest Glimpsing the Great Wildebeest Migration through the Serengeti and the Masai Mara is the stuff of lifelong dreams for many, and with capacity filling up fast, you need to book quickly to secure your spot next year. You’ll see wildebeest returning from the Masai Mara, part of the nearly two million wildebeest, zebras and gazelles that make the pilgrimage each year. Best for… Getting off the beaten track For a safari with a difference, Namibia calls. Home to the only desert in the world where lions, elephants and rhinos all live, it’s an excellent bet if you’ve already done the bigger safari spots. Namibia offers a diverse landscape spanning dramatic canyons, craggy coastlines and crimson sand dunes, and a varied ecosystem to boot. Activities include rhino tracking and dolphin spotting, while game drives offer the chance to spot leopards, cheetahs, kudus and blue wildebeest. Best for… Exclusivity From the swampy waterways of the Okavango Delta to the unspoilt wilderness of Chobe National Park, Botswana is a dream for clients seeking a safari away from the crowds, with boutique lodges and private game reserves offering exceptional wildlife-watching opportunities. Botswana is a dream for those seeking a safari away from the crowds, with boutique lodges and private game reserves offering exceptional wildlife-watching. Best for… Adventure Safaris aren’t only about game drives, and if you’re looking to get a little more adventurous, there are many options. For one of the best, look to the Zambezi, where canoeing trips take you to glimpse hippos, elephants, waterbucks and more grazing by the water, and walking safaris add bigger game into the mix. Best for… conservation involvement No safari list would be complete without South Africa, where the KwaZulu-Natal region sees the ‘big five’ roam the plains, while manta rays, reef sharks and humpback whales frequent the coastline. It’s not only about the viewing opportunities, for those interested in learning more about conservation and the local communities who live in the area, you can get hands-on with bird-tagging, rhino notching, wildlife tracking and other ranger activities with culturally immersive experiences organised in a responsible way. Learn photography skills, step out on walking safaris and sleep under the stars, with private game drives, a dedicated butler and personal chef on hand to add an extra helping of luxury. My top tip is to book sooner rather than later as availability for 2021 is already extremely tight, particularly as most of my suppliers are currently offering very flexible booking conditions. I’m a Travel Counsellor and with us it’s personal. If you want to travel with peace of mind get in touch with your holiday plans.
14 November 2020
Sun-kissed, timeless elegance on the Amalfi Coast Extending from Sorrento in the west to Salerno in the East, the legendary Amalfi Coast of Southern Italy embraces a kaleidoscope of terraced towns and antiquated villages along its steep-sided cliffs. Interspersed throughout this dramatic landscape, you’ll find a collection of vineyards and verdant woodland which meld into the manmade features to create a classic Italian experience. The Amalfi Coast has drawn in visitors for centuries with its natural allure, and over time these visitors have settled to create the rich tapestry of culture that we see there today. Coastal towns such as Positano, Amalfi and Ravello teeter precariously on the seafront looking down on the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean below, admiring the daily passing of extravagant superyachts. Towards the western end of the coast, the seductive town of Positano is one of the first stops for visitors on the Amalfi Drive. Awash with shades of lemon, amber and rose, Positano is home to boutique shops and authentic restaurants serving up traditional Neapolitan Pizza with views out over the beach. Away from the streets, take a boat trip to snorkel in the crystal waters around Siren’s Rocks where, according to mythology, the Sirens attempted to lure Odysseus. Where to stay in Positano…breath in the fresh invigorating scent of lemon trees as you enter the family-owned Le Sirenuse. Considered one of Italy’s foremost luxury seaside hotels, the property retains its intimate atmosphere making guests feel at ease from the moment they arrive. The family passion for art and the Amalfi Coast lifestyle shines through Le Sirenuse from the carefully selected paintings on its walls to the elegant clothing in their store. Named for the stretch of coastline it sits on, the town of Amalfi has a proud seafaring history which brought tremendous riches to the area. Away from the main tourist traps, you can still find echoes of this glorious past if you’re willing to wander the narrow streets in search of your own hidden gems. Very much on the tourist trail but well-deserving of a visit, the Duomo di Amalfi is a Medieval Roman Cathedral with striking golden and black exteriors complemented by baroque features. Where to stay in Amalfi…from its grand entrance to its sea-level pool, the cliffside Hotel Santa Caterina exudes luxury. The elegant seaside property is surrounded by vibrant bougainvillea and fruit orchards, light and airy rooms feature hand-painted floors, and balconies with sea views or over the lush gardens. The hotel’s special suites each feature outdoor space to take a dip with one having a sunken jacuzzi pool and the other its own private pool. Ravello is the hidden treasure of the Amalfi Coast. Away from the crowds that congregate along other coastal spots, its enchanting mountain top setting, beautiful gardens and relaxed pace of life make for a serene environment. A visit to Ravello must include the local wines, created from grapes with origins traced back to ancient Rome, I’d recommend a visit to Cantina Episcopio, a vineyard through four generations specialising in local grape varieties. Where to stay in Ravello…a former 11th-century palace, the Belmond Hotel Caruso sits on a cliff edge 1,000ft above sea level, boasting all the luxurious features you would expect from a grand residence. Each of the stylish suites is furnished with lavish marble bathrooms, oversized baths, and inspiring views. You can explore the Amalfi Coast on a single or multi-centre holiday, as part of a cruise itinerary or on a touring holiday - if flying isn’t your thing, then travelling by train or coach is a good option and you will see magnificent scenery as you meander through Europe from the UK. I’m a Travel Counsellor and ‘with us it’s personal’. If you are looking to travel with peace of mind get in touch about your future holiday plans. Thank you to all my clients who continue to book with me, knowing they have peace of mind when they travel the world.
26 July 2020
There's never been a better time to view a ski holiday as a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Self-drive ski holidays give you the freedom to explore from the moment you step out of your front door, meaning you can create even more lasting memories. I can now book your self-drive ski holiday from start to finish, including extras such as lift passes and ski/board and boot hire. I've picked out five cracking ski resorts in the Alps for self-drive ski holidays, taking into account all the most important elements for a week's skiing - ski area size, variety of slopes, après-ski, accommodation and dining options - as well as the car journey itself. The resorts and directions are based on driving from Calais the quickest way possible – including toll roads. For the French resorts, begin with the A26 south via Reims to Troyes. Then the A5 and A31 past Dijon and the A6 to Macon… 1. Alpe d’Huez - At 1,860m, Alpe d’Huez is a true alpine resort in France’s Southern Alps. A lot of its fame is derived from the gruelling, mythical 21 hairpin bends leading up from the valley floor in Le Bourg-d’Oisans – one of the hardest climbs on the Tour de France. Alpe d’Huez offers an all-round ski holiday experience . 250km of pistes get steeper as you get higher (for the most part) and top out at 3330m on the Pic Blanc glacier. Driving to Alpe d’Huez... From the A6 at Macon, head for Lyon, taking the A46 and A432 around the east of the city. Join the A43 and then the A48 through Grenoble. From the N85 the southern Alps resorts are well signposted. Le Bourg d’Oisans is the town on the valley floor and the last stop before the climb up to resort. 2. Les Carroz - Les Carroz is somewhat of an all-rounder in the Grand Massif ski area. The village sits at 1,200m and features traditional architecture, panoramic mountain views and tree-lined slopes. It’s well suited to beginners, intermediates and families and is popular with French skiers – a notable endorsement . The Grand Massif links 5 villages, of which Les Carroz is one. 265km of slopes await your skis or board. The others (maybe barring Flaine) are an achievable ski for anyone with novice or better abilities. Driving to Lez Carroz... At Macon, take the A40 East for 190km to Balme where you exit and take the mountain road up to resort. Flaine, Samoëns & Morillon The neighbouring resorts of Flaine, Samoëns & Morillon as well as the quaint village of Sixt-Fer-a-Cheval are all part of the Grand Massif ski area along with Le Carroz. Any of these would be a great option for a self-drive ski holiday and each destination may suit you better than the last. You can ski to all of them on your next ski holiday to Les Carroz! 3. Chamonix - A working and thriving mountain town in the shadow of the iconic Mont Blanc. As a ski area it’s considered by many to offer the pinnacle of alpine challenges, on skis, snowboard or just with ropes and harness. One of the homes of extreme Alpinism, and yet a fantastic all-round destination for ski enthusiasts too. The Chamonix valley features five ski areas and although they are spread out somewhat, if you have a car they are all within easy reach . Buses are also excellent and run early-til-late. With a Mont Blanc full area lift pass you can also hop in your car and drive to both Courmayeur in Italy and Verbier (including the full 4 Valleys) in Switzerland to enjoy skiing in another country! Driving to Chamonix... At Macon, take the A40 East for 220km, merging with the N205 a little way past Cluses. Pass through the village of Les Houches (see below) and past the exit for the Tunnel du Month Blanc, following the signs to Chamonix. 4. Morzine - A favourite resort among Brits, and for good reasons. Morzine provides modern infrastructure around an authentic alpine village, meaning you can get up and into the mountains in a snip, but also enjoy a traditional French mountain village vibe for après too . It’s popular with snowboarders just as much as skiers as there are almost no flat-spots or drag lifts to contend with. Morzine is in the heart of the enormous Portes du Soleil ski area. In total, that’s 650km of pistes and 12 resorts at your ski tips! Enough for a lifetime of ski holidays for most people. You can also cross the French/Swiss border on your skis or board, if you head to Champery via Chatel for a day’s adventure on your next self-drive ski holiday. Driving to Morzine... At Macon, take the A40 East and join the D9 just the other side of Geneva. Then take the D907 and D902, passing through Les Gets and following signs for Morzine/Avoriaz . 5. St Anton - The wildcard option in this list of self-drive ski holiday destinations is not only one of Austria’s best, but also one of the World’s finest ski resort destinations. St Anton is located in the Arlberg – a mountain range known as ‘the cradle of alpine skiing’. The resort is probably the ski capital of Austria and also a mecca for off-piste skiing. Whilst there are unfathomable acres of slopes for beginner and intermediate skiers of all ages, the real playground is off-piste or on the miles and miles of Itineraries and ski-tours. St Anton is well known for its après ski scene, which is lively both on and off the mountain. It’s probably true to say a trip to St Anton will best suit those looking to fully immerse themselves in the town’s full repertoire, rather than those looking for a relaxing week of cruisey-blues and early nights! Driving to St Anton... From Calais, take the A26 south via Reims before joining the A4 east as far as Strasbourg. Join the A35 south and cross the border into Switzerland near Basel, then joining the A3 towards Zurich. Join the A1 towards Lake Constance, the A1 and briefly the A13 before you follow your skier’s instincts onto the A14 and up the valley towards the mountains. In summary, there are loads of great resorts for a Self-Drive Ski Holiday, rest assured if you have really specific needs or wants there will be a resort to suit you which is within a 10 hour drive of Calais (non-stop) and also don’t forget the opportunity to stopover in an authentic French town on your journey to the Alps. Why not contact me for more details and options for your next ski or snowboarding holiday.
17 July 2020
Cyprus is one of my favourite year-round destinations - perfect for a few days right through to a long-stay and it goes without saying that it's an island of beautiful beaches lined by gorgeous wide promenades that bathe in warm sunshine all year, but there’s so much more! Get out into the mountains alongside sparkling rivers and streams, visit pretty hillside villages each with their own traditional crafts and food specialities, and join wine route trails to meet a new generation of wine growers who are putting Cypriot wine firmly back on the map. Set foot on the Island and you too can enjoy the very best in traditional holidays; charming hotels and apartments where guests return time and time again. Welcome to EDEN! EDEN, European Destinations of Excellence, is co-funded by the European Commission’s Tourism Unit and promotes sustainable tourism in emerging destinations something that I am passionate about. EDEN or European Destinations of Excellence, feature across Cyprus where many villages have been awarded for sustainable tourism which includes natural beauty, individual charm and traditional crafts. This makes it a perfect destination to get out and about to explore these hidden gems? Driving is easy as it's the same as the UK, so I'd definitely hire a car – you can cross the island in a day – but don’t rush, as the verdant countryside, historic villages and mouth-watering cuisine needs to be savoured at leisure! Here are some of the villages and regions that I would definitely add to your Cyprus road-trip... Pitsilia Recognised for its gastronomy, the Pitsilia region’s verdant slopes are planted with vines and fruit trees – almonds, hazels, walnuts, apples, pears and cherries. The produce is rich and flavoursome so stop for rosewater, sausages, lountza (smoked pork), sweets, jams, liqueurs and bread. Kalopanayiotis Wander through the narrow alleyways in this traditional spa village in the Troodos Mountains where many of the ancient houses have been declared national monuments. Explore the mountainside where the Setrahos River creates a magical scene and, better still, stay at the unique 43-room spa retreat, Casale Panayiotis, which is in the heart of the village. Polis Many buildings in Polis have been renovated to preserve their traditional architecture. In the square, shops sell folk art and be sure to stop at one of the family-run coffee shops which serve fabulously sweet delicacies. Walk it off at nearby Akamas National Park, an area of natural beauty. Platres This pretty village splits into two parts – Pano (upper) and Kato (lower). Join nature trails and see Caledonia, one of the highest waterfalls in Cyprus. The village is graced with many charming old buildings, and has a winery in Kato, a chocolate workshop, an adventure rope park and a cultural centre. Praitori Drive to this picturesque village in the Paphos District and try local wines such as Mavro Moschato while about 10km from Praitori is Salamiou, a village which is rich in traditional architecture and look out for Kyparissos, a huge 750-year-old tree. You can also wander to Lakria Ridge, an arid and rocky area planted with vineyards. Foini Foini is one of the island’s loveliest villages. At the foot of the Troodos Mountains it is famous for craft traditions including pottery, wooden chairs and the Vourka tou Voskou, the shepherd’s backpack. Be enchanted by the charming brick and stone houses and head to the square where the Pilavakion Museum of Folk Art is housed. As you can see there's more to Cyprus beyond the tourist resorts, stunning beaches and coves that can be enjoyed at any time of year - why not give Cyprus a try for your next holiday!
12 July 2020
Whilst the Canary Islands are an obvious choice for a late summer or early winter break, there are more options with a similar flight time, stunning hotels and fabulous white sand beaches. Makadi Bay is the place to be! On the western coast of the Red Sea between Safaga and Hurghada, Makadi Bay nestles gently between serene desert sand dunes and the Red Sea Mountains. Boasting long stunning stretches of gently sloping white sand, translucent waters, and inshore reefs that are home to exquisite marine life, this tranquil destination is ideal for lovers of snorkelling and diving. Makadi Bay combines the natural beauty of the Red Sea, a relaxed village appeal and five-star service. The gently sloping beach, translucent waters and vibrant coral reefs make it a paradise for sunbathers and snorkellers alike. You'll find all-inclusive accommodation for every taste, from family focused fun to award-winning luxury. And there's no shortage of activities, from watersports and waterparks to championship golfing. Best of all, you are guaranteed warm weather – and an even warmer welcome – all year round. Perfect for couples… Makadi Bay is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. You'll find some beautifully relaxing hotels with spa facilities and fine dining. Some even have a minimum age so you can relax in a child free environment. My recommendation is The Grand Palace Family friendly Makadi Bay's resort hotels and gently sloping beaches make it a safe and relaxed choice for a family holiday. There are loads of activities and entertainment – including some great waterparks – so the little ones will never be bored. Weather Makadi Bay offers an average daily temperature of 28°C through the entire year. July is the hottest time of year with January being the coolest. Evening temperatures can be lower due to the desert location, making a light jacket or jumper a wise option. Temperatures are 28°C throughout Spring, 34°C during Summer (June to Aug), 30°C in Autumn and 22°C in Winter. Things to see and do Learn to dive There’s a range of diving packages available locally, from trial dives for the complete novice, to PADI-certified courses for beginners and advanced divers alike. If you’re already certified to dive – book one of the daily dive packages and relax knowing that equipment rental is also available. Experience the desert Book a desert adventure and you could travel by jeep, drive quad bikes and ATVs through spectacular scenery, or try your hand at horse and camel riding. As the sun sets, enjoy traditional Bedouin dining and culture under the stars, complete with belly dancing and traditional music. Get active! Right next door to the Makadi Bay hotels, the Makadi Sports Centre combines a well-equipped fitness centre with stunning Red Sea views, a 5-a-side football pitch and tennis courts – both floodlit – and a sports bar for relaxing afterward. Madinat Makadi Golf Resort The 18-hole PGA course at the Madinat Makadi Golf overlooks the Red Sea and has plenty to test and hone your skills, plus professional coaching and club, trolley and golf cart rental. Makadi Bay offers perfect conditions for golf, all year-round. This beautiful 72-hole championship course offers a challenge for every level, and discounted rates for guests from many of the local hotels. The Makadi Mall Enjoy a choice of à la carte restaurants, entertainment and boutique shopping in a beautiful Moorish arcade reminiscent of a traditional souk. With so many outstanding features and such amazingly good value deals, Makadi Bay is always a popular choice, so don't miss your chance to experience this wonderful resort for yourself.
14 May 2020
I’d happily holiday on any Greek island, but the one that lingers most in my memory for beaches, sunshine and food is Kefalonia. Kefalonia is an island that demands to be explored. Start in Fiskardo, a quaint Venetian-style harbour town in the north. Unlike the rest of Kefalonia and the other Ionian islands, it largely escaped the damage of the 1953 earthquake, leaving beautiful ornate buildings and little flower-dotted lanes to wander through. Here, you’ll spend your time mingling in cafes with boho, floaty-linen-draped travellers and the odd Hollywood celeb. Superyachts bob on the sea in the distance, but you won’t need a blockbuster budget to revel in the region’s beauty. A brilliantly fun way to zip over to the neighbouring island of Ithaca, and discover dozens of northern Kefalonia’s empty bays, is to hire your own little speedboat. They’re inexpensive to rent, easy to manoeuvre and make for amazing day trips – pack a picnic, drop anchor wherever you fancy and dive in for a swim in the cool, clear water. Back on land, book in for dinner at Tassia’s: the smiley celebrity chef has a cute restaurant right on the water’s edge. Try the meat pie, the island’s signature dish, with its light flaky pastry and rich filling. And leave room for dessert – huge dollops of the local yoghurt, topped with homemade compotes. Plum, fig, grape – I adored them all. It’s just one of the dozens of unforgettable meals you’ll have on Kefalonia. In Argostoli, the laid-back capital, you can watch elderly gentlemen reclining on chairs on the bridge, happily catching the last of the rays, fishing rod in one hand, chilled Mythos beer in another. For the best view, settle into a seat on the terrace of Aristofanis. Go for the seafood platters: huge portions of grilled, smoke-tinged octopus, rich prawn saganaki, mussels and mackerel are laid out on huge trays, alongside salads topped with giant slabs of feta. You could happily spend your days restaurant hopping, but there’s so much more to see. Take a jeep safari up Mount Ainos, which is nicknamed Black Mountain, thanks to the dark pine trees that blanket the slopes. Wild ponies, hundreds of happy goats and more than 400 varieties of plant make this mountain their home. If you’re looking for an escape from people and noise, this is it. Back at sea level you can explore the coastline and its caves by sea kayak, or simply hop in your hire car and tour the many, many beaches. In Assos village, a tranquil little curve of pebbly sandy lapped by calm water and overlooked by a 16th-century castle is one of the most peaceful spots to spend the day. And then there’s Myrtos: with its electric-blue water and dazzling white cliffs plunging into large, creamy pebbles; it’s the island’s pin-up beach and rightly so. It may be the most famous, but on Kefalonia, you’ll be happy at any beach you stumble across. You’ll see.
14 May 2020
For many, Zante has a reputation for cheap drinks and an all-night party scene, but Zante (or Zakynthos, to give its Greek name) is a magical island to visit. I've visited a couple of times and next summer will hopefully see my return to the 'Flower of the Levant'. The clear and transparent sea, the smell of the pines, the chance to wander traffic-free lanes through groves of twisted olives and the fabulous local culinary delights are what pulls me back to Zante. Away from the buzzing nightlife of Laganas (the south coast resort behind Zante's non-stop party image), the island's appeal is way more laid-back and authentic than one might think. The third largest of the Ionian Isles, it has a lively capital, sleepy interior and stretches of untouched coast to discover. Even Laganas Beach has surprises: leave behind the beachfront bars and holiday makers roasting themselves on rows of sun loungers and you'll find the wild, empty sands of a National Marine Park where sea turtles crawl ashore to nest. Laganas Beach is the island's biggest. Filling a sweeping bay, its calm, shallow waters are perfect for swimming and its resorts (Laganas at one end, Kalamaki at the other) provide a heady blend of lazy days and late nights. Other shores worth seeking out include watersports-friendly Argassi , or Gerakas arguably the prettiest, at the island's south-eastern tip. All, however, are trumped by Zante's most famous beach, Navagio. Tucked beneath sheer, white cliffs and fronting a vivid, cobalt-blue bay, it's instantly recognisable for the shipwreck plonked picturesquely on its pebbles, in doing so creating one of the most enduring and iconic snapshots of Greece. Inaccessible by land, the only way to get here is by boat, so either take a group tour or upgrade the experience by hiring your own vessel and beating the crowds. Other highlights across the island include sleepy villages such as Keri, which sits on a pine-covered headland in the south, not far from Laganas. Closer to Navagio at the other end of the isle is even sleepier Ano Volimes, which is home to Kaminaki, one of my favourite ever restaurants. The food - mostly organic and produced in the village - is fantastic, and the charismatic owner, Dennis, turns simple suppers into memorable events. Make the experience even more special by raising a glass of Verdea, Zante's indigenous wine that's made from local grape varieties - Yamas!
14 May 2020
When I hear people say they've 'done' a particular place, it makes me smile whilst also a little sad. After all, changes in personal circumstances, time of year or just the company you keep can make a return visit to any destination a fresh experience. And so it is with Crete. I`ve visited Crete, the largest of the Greek islands a number of times over the last 30 years - as a child on a family holiday, at the start of my travel career in the early 90's, as an adult for a summer sun week away and most recently as a port of call on a winter cruise. With so much to offer, Crete remains the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks to its location in the Southern part of the Aegean, Crete has the longest summer in Greece and is now emerging as a winter resort too. Blazing sunshine in December? Absolutely. Biking through deserted resorts one Christmas Day, face bathed in warm mellow light lingers in the mind as a stand out memory. I first visited Greece as a child almost 40 years ago on one of our first overseas family holidays, I revisited Crete at the start of my travel career in the early 90's on a 'Grecian Holidays' familiarisation trip. Back then the main resort of Rethymnon on the north coast was a compact, pretty, renaissance port town crammed with well-preserved ancient buildings, the charming tavern-lined harbour overlooked by a star-shaped, 16th-century citadel. If you want somewhere that offers a snapshot some of the historical riches the island can offer this is a place to visit. Though given that Crete has been occupied by invaders such as the Romans, Ottomans and Venetians you'll find vestiges of the past everywhere. Of course you can spend lazy days on one of the island's sun-drenched beaches. What's more, rich Cretan agriculture offers fresh food in abundance – golden olive oil harvested from local groves, aromatic herbs, juicy tomatoes the size of footballs and salty cheeses used in my favourite dish, Sarikopitakia – crispy deep fried triangular cheese pies. For the restless traveller there are so many options... One favourite is Chania a city on the northwest coast. Known for its 14th-century Venetian harbour and 16th century lighthouse, I love ambling through narrow streets, watching the world go by from waterfront restaurants and tavernas. Or visit Knossos, a sprawling Bronze Age archaeological site the size of a couple of football fields. In the still air, you can feel the past lingering around you. Meanwhile, fans of Victoria Hislop’s bestselling historical novel The Island must head to Spinalonga (10 minutes by boat from the village of Plaka), which was famously a leper colony for much of the 20th Century. Walking those ghostly streets is a sad but strangely serene experience. Otherwise, go trekking, biking or just explore the island by car – I particularly love to drive through stunning Therisso Gorge where mountain goats have even less road sense than tourists in their hire cars. And of course, there are wonderful places to stay – not least, the St Nicolas Bay, a five star hotel with the authentic feel of an unspoiled stone-built Cretan village. I would also recommend the five star family friendly Daios Cove Luxury Resort in Aghios Nikolaos or the four star adult only Elounda Blu Hotel. So even if you have already 'done' Crete, it's definitely worth a revisit and I can promise you, you`ll never be completely done!
14 May 2020
Unlike me, Shakespeare never got to visit Corfu but he nailed it when he imagined Corfu as the enchantment-filled isle of the Prospero in The Tempest. Lush green countryside fringed by glorious beaches, it’s a no brainer that Corfu's resorts are loved by so many who visit. Corfu has more to offer than just beautiful beaches, venture inland into a whole other world and into another time. Take a drive to the top of the highest mountain, 906m Pantokrator and see its frescoed Byzantine chapel and the dazzling vision of all Corfu wrapped in the azure blue Mediterranean Sea. On the way down, stop at Old Perithia, the island’s loftiest village, mostly ruins now but still has a faraway dreamy feel. For more down to earth mortals you'll also find a couple of excellent tavernas for lunch and a chilled Mythos beer. This area is perfect to see Corfu’s famous wildflowers, including many orchids - well worth a visit just to linger and enjoy the stunning views. Want something more then why not take a walk along the spectacular cross-island Corfu Trail - Corfu's long-distance walking route. Established in 2001, it runs from Arkoudillas at Corfu’s southernmost tip to Cape Agia Ekaterini at the island's northernmost point. Since the most dramatic scenery and the biggest concentration of highlights are in the north of the island, the Corfu Trail takes walkers in a south to north direction. If you don't fancy the whole 220kms then you can just walk the section nearest to your hotel. In Homer, the shipwrecked Odysseus was rescued by the Princess Nausicaa on Corfu’s west coast at Palaeokastritsa, where steep cliffs, golden sands and lush headlands are pure poetry. Pack a picnic and hire a small boat to find a cove of your very own, then relax watching the sunset—it will take your breath away. The island capital, Corfu Town, offers a unique mix of Venetian, French, British and Greek architecture and is full of bougainvillea-draped lanes crying out to be explored. In the enormous seaside esplanade, sip a tsin tsin birra (ginger beer) and watch the locals play cricket – two quirky relics that recall Corfu's half century of British rule. Stroll down the elegant Liston (modelled after Paris’s Rue de Rivoli) and buy sun-ripened melons in the San Rocco Square market and visit the often-overlooked Museum of Asian Art, housing one of the world’s top collections – Corfu is full of unexpected wonders. One of my fondest memories of Corfu Town is whilst walking in the moonlight back to our hotel and being awestruck to see fairy lights flickering in the trees; on closer inspection they proved to be thousands of fireflies dancing in an olive grove. We sat there for a couple of hours, utterly enchanted: Prospero himself couldn’t have woven a better spell. And not for the first time on Corfu, we were reminded of something author Gerald Durrell wrote in My Family and Other Animals: “Gradually the magic of the island settled over us as gently and clingingly as pollen". Corfu offers something for everyone from tranquillity and timelessness to lively nightlife and everything in between - Corfu Town makes a fabulous 3 or 4 night short break and I'd personally recommend staying at Corfu Palace Hotel.
06 May 2021
Winter sunshine, it’s like music to my ears. And June is when I usually book my winter sun holiday before many options are fully booked or prices are sky-high! If you relish the thought of lazing on a beach and coming back to the UK in the depths of winter tanned and feeling fabulous, then let me help you! Whilst far flung places like Thailand or Barbados are superb options, for a shorter flight I’d recommend Tenerife as a winter sun holiday destination. I’ve visited Tenerife a few times and I love it a little bit more each time. Tenerife has a poor reputation of cheap and cheerful package holidays in high-rise hotels, Happy Hours in Irish pubs and tacky bars. And whilst this is ideal for some, it isn’t typical of the whole of the island, let me show you… Costa Adeje is an up-market resort on Tenerife’s southern coast that attracts travellers looking for attractive sandy beaches, high-class entertainment, luxurious hotels, sophisticated apartments, resorts, stunning villas and fine-dining. Whether you’re retired or barely out of nappies, there’s something for everyone in Costa Adeje. This fantastic holiday destination delivers relaxation, fun, adventure and of course…winter sunshine! With lots to enjoy during your stay, be sure to go out and see what Costa Adeje and the rest of the island has to offer. Here are a few highlights to tempt you: Dolphin Cruise Day Trip: This is a firm favourite. The Costa Adeje coast is frequented by the most beautiful and graceful dolphins that love nothing more than getting friendly with tourists. There are different experiences and types of boat that you can travel on and it’s a true delight to be so close to them. It’s just as magical when they dive in and out of the near waters or further away. Siam Park: Obviously, there are thrills and excitement when you visit a waterpark. This one is a great day out with rip-roaring slides, tranquil lagoons and wildlife exhibitions. Sprawling across four acres, this wonderful water kingdom has heaps of attractions to keep every age happy. The Thai-inspired theme adds a touch of magic to the whole experience. For those daredevils, why not try the “Tower of Power” – it’s as scary as it sounds. Plunge down a 28-metre drop into a shark-filled aquarium. If you prefer a calmer ride, one of the world’s longest lazy rivers snakes round the park at a more leisurely pace. Astro Amigos: A brilliant evening event with star gazing that’s educational and eye-opening. Astro Amigos is family-friendly and a great way to introduce children to astronomy and engage them with the wonders of the solar system. Shopping: There are plenty of shops to choose from; large malls including the Siam Park Mall with over 70 shops, local souvenir shops for gifts and keepsakes, and of course the quaint side streets for charming boutiques to stumble upon. Museums and Galleries: Old Adeje has been the heart of culture for Tenerife for centuries. It has a rich, vibrant and interesting history that has created the wonderful place that it is today. One of the primary interests is the observatory where you can get a sense of scale and wonder at the universe around us. Walking Trails: Walking is popular and there are many guided walks available including wheelchair friendly ones - definitely walk the trail at Mount Teide. Mount Teide is a volcano on Tenerife with a summit at 3,715m (12,188ft) - the highest point in Spain. The volcano and surroundings form Teide National Park, named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007. Teide is the most visited natural wonder of Spain and the most visited national park in Europe. These are just a few highlights, I didn’t even touch on golfing, beaches or wellness. Wherever you holiday, relaxation around a pool or on the beach is craved by many but remember to get out and explore activities during your stay as this also helps the local economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m a Travel Counsellor and with us it’s personal. If you want to travel with peace of mind get in touch with your holiday plans however near or far away. Thank you to my clients who continue to book with me, knowing they have me at the end of the phone available every step of the way when they travel in the UK and rest of the world, for leisure and for business.
04 February 2020
Travelling with a mental health condition can be overwhelming. Here are some pre-travel preparation tips that may help you or someone you know – feel free to share with others. Your mental and physical health before and during a trip will usually determine how well you cope with travel. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Stress levels can be intensified during travel because of a lack of familiar support systems, disrupted daily routines, language barriers, culture shock and unexpected situations. The NHS has more information on the factors that affect mental health during travel, as well as information on how to manage them. Here a few other things to consider and help with your planning and preparation. Before you travel... Get Insurance Get comprehensive travel insurance before you travel. If you do not take out proper insurance, you will normally have to pay the costs of any emergency yourself, including expensive medical bills. Read the FCO advice on foreign travel insurance. Always check the small print and make sure it includes any pre-existing medical conditions you have, and all activities you intend to undertake. Some insurance companies will exclude cover for a mental health condition, so it is worth shopping around. If you need specialist insurance, organisations such as MIND have information on insurance cover and mental health including a list of specialist insurance providers. If you are travelling in the European Economic Area or Switzerland before 31 December 2020, you can continue to use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) during this time, as you did before. Check for the latest information on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) online, or by phone on 0300 330 1350. Research Healthcare in your Destination Consider what health precautions you may need to take for your trip. Ask your doctor or medical professional for advice. Check what mental health services are available in your destination and research local attitudes to mental health. Facilities, resources and the understanding of mental health issues vary. Local attitudes towards mental health in your destination are likely to determine the type of any psychiatric care you may receive there. In some countries, this may include forced admission without consent, poor local facilities, questionable treatment, a lack of appropriate medication or difficulty finding English speaking mental healthcare professionals. In some countries, you can be arrested, imprisoned or admitted to a hospital or mental health facility for exhibiting certain behaviours, including disturbing the peace and making threats. Check your Medication is Legal Some medication may be illegal in the country you are visiting, or contain ingredients that are illegal there. This may include prescription medication. If you take medication, check it is legal in your destination. Check with your GP or the embassy of the country you will visit to see if your medication is legal for your holiday. Check with your airline if you need documentation to prove you need to carry the medication. Ask what kind of container it should be in. This is particularly important for liquids and gels, because of security restrictions at airports. Check your Medication is Available Some medication may not be available in other countries. If you take medication, ensure that you take enough with you to see you through your trip and allow for possible delays. Ask your doctor or medical professional for advice. Always keep medication and any medical documents in your hand luggage or in a place you can get to them easily. Make sure your medication is clearly labelled. In case you lose your medicine or need to get more, you may need to have a letter from your doctor stating your need for the medication. This is very important if you are going to a country with strict drug controls. You should always be ready to show this letter to customs officers. Consider Carrying a “Travelling Letter” Consider writing and carrying a ‘travelling letter’, which gives a brief description of your mental health needs and diagnosis, and the details of your doctor. If appropriate, include details of any difficulties that could occur and what assistance you might then need. This may be part of any Recovery Plan or Advance Directive, if you have one. Consider giving someone the Power of Attorney If you want to, you can give someone the power of attorney. This gives someone the power to make decisions for you in case a situation arises where you are unable to make decisions for yourself. There are two types of power of attorney: health and welfare, and property and financial affairs. You can choose to make either, or both. Consider who to contact if you need help Consider who will help you if your mental health deteriorates abroad and how to contact them. Keep details of friends, family and/or carers with you when you travel. Fill in emergency contact details at the back of your passport. If you need help, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) can help you to contact your friends and family in the UK or in the country you are visiting. If you are in the UK, you can contact the FCO 24/7 on 020 7008 1500. If you are abroad, you can contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. Whilst you are abroad... Promote and Maintain your Mental Health when Travelling There are resources available to help you understand how travel can impact your mental health. You may wish to discuss this with your doctor or community mental health team. Stay in Touch with Family, Friends and/or Carers Stay in regular touch with your family and friends in the UK, especially if you are travelling alone or in a remote area, or if you are aware of a crisis in the region in which you are travelling. Although you may feel perfectly safe, people at home may worry if they do not hear from you and could report you missing. If you take your mobile phone abroad, make sure you have international roaming (the facility to use your phone on a foreign network), and an adaptor so you can charge it. If you need help abroad... Know how to reach your emergency contacts if something happens to you abroad. In Europe, you can phone 112 for the emergency services. You can contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate, or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on 020 7008 1500.
14 December 2019
Booking your first cruise can be daunting as there is so much choice and so much information available, the hardest part is often knowing where to start. This is my guide for every cruise novice out there, I’ve included tips for choosing your first cruise, before you sail and whilst you're on board. 1. Book with a Cruise Expert In the words of Jane McDonald “there’s a cruise to suit everyone’ and whilst the internet can be a candy-store of cruise offers, it's easy to be seduced by cheap cruise deals and low pricing. My No.1 tip is to book with a cruise expert, they will listen and confidently answer your questions, guide you and help you decide on the right cruise line and the right cruise ship for you. Getting the wrong cruise line or cruise ship can be easy and disappointing. 2. Fellow Passengers... To a novice, cruise lines look similar and they're not - different cruise lines and ships attract different nationalities and different itineraries and destinations attract different age groups. A good point to note is that some ships are designed with children and families in mind, whilst others are exclusively for adults – handy if you travel during school holidays. 3. Test the Water... Many cruise lines offer ‘taster cruises’. These are short-break cruises of 2-5 nights – the best for UK travellers are with Cunard, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and P&O Cruises who sail out of Southampton. Fred Olsen and CMV offer short cruises from regional ports around the UK which can make it really convenient though only if that is the right cruise line and ship for you! My other suggestion would be to fly to Europe and combine a taster cruise with a hotel stay as you will get the true feeling of a sailing in the sunshine – many cruise lines offer these and for something different you could try Star Clipper Cruises (tall ships with masts and sails) from Athens. 4. Plan ahead but don’t overplan! Once you have made your booking, think about what you want to do on your cruise. Consider each port of call and mix up what you do and see. In the Caribbean you may want to visit a beach or book an island tour, snorkelling trip or do something more active. In Europe it’s tempting to plan a lot of sightseeing – this can be tiring especially in the heat of the summer. A lot of ports are walking distance to the city or beach meaning you can do your own thing. Take advantage of the empty pools and decks on port days - you can pretend that you're on a private yacht, don’t feel guilty if you choose to stay onboard while everybody else goes off on tour. Consider setting your alarm to watch the ship arrive into ports and enjoy a sailaway cocktail for your port departure. 5. Cash Free Cruising! All cruise lines operate a cash free system onboard; your room key is your payment system! At check-in (either online or at the port) you register a credit card which is used at the end of your cruise to pay your room bill. What you pay for depends on the cruise line as some include more than others. To give you an idea of things you may pay for; your bar bill (or drinks package), excursions, speciality restaurants, spa treatments, professional photographs, shop purchases and money changed for casino chips. 6. Get your bearings! Once onboard even the most capable passengers will get lost. Join the walking tour on your first day and you will see the main areas of the ship and know where they are for the rest of your cruise. You will also get top tips and learn how to book restaurants, sign up for fitness classes, make spa bookings, excursion bookings etc 7. Cheers! A growing number of cruise lines offer All-Inclusive cruises - just as with a land holiday your initial cost is higher, though you are pre-paying in your home currency so you will save in the long run. Other cruise lines offer drinks packages, these may seem attractive but think before you buy, know what’s included and excluded, know the limits on the number of drinks per day (if applicable), and know how much of you cruise you will be on board as it isn’t included when you are off the ship! If you’re not a big drinker then go old school and pay per drink, bar pricing is readily available. It’s worth noting that a drinks package is per person and sharing is prohibited. 8. Sea sickness Sea sickness is a thing and some people suffer more than others. When choosing your cruise consider the number of ‘sea days’ on the itinerary – these are the days you are sailing and not in port. If you've never sailed before and have concerns about seasickness, speak to your GP before travelling for advice on prescription and over the counter medication options. Green apples and fresh ginger are readily available on ships for a more natural help and in the worst case head to the ship's medical centre, where an injection of Phenergan can put you out of your misery instantly – there is a charge for this. 9. Tipping Guidance Tipping can be a minefield, especially for UK cruise passengers. On cruise ships tipping is expected, and each cruise line does it differently. There are cruise lines that do not ask for or expect tips as they're built into the cruise price. Most other cruise lines have a fixed daily tip/gratuity/service fee amount per passenger, per day, which is either pre-paid with your cruise cost or added to your room bill whilst you are on board and paid at the end of the cruise. If would rather not pay the service charge or want to pay less or more, visit Guest Relations to have this conversation and be prepared to explain what you are unhappy with as they genuinely want to know how they can make it better. 10. If something isn’t right… This can happen, fortunately not often. It could be something in your cabin or stateroom, your table location or table guests in the dining room, food or drink. If something isn’t right and you’re not 100% happy don’t leave it until you return home, have the confidence to say something there and then as most things can and will be fixed. Give the ship’s crew an opportunity to get it right for you - they really don’t want you to be unhappy with any aspect of your cruise. If you don’t finish a drink or plate of food, the crew will ask if it was to your liking, they will also ask if they can get you something else. Having sailed almost 100 cruises I have vast knowledge and experience which I'm happy to share along with more top tips to get you on your first or next ocean, river or lake cruise.
11 December 2019
Winter is here, it’s cold, it’s wet and it’s just a bit gloomy. But, in just a couple of weeks the festivities will be well and truly underway – but for now it’s the last-minute panic buying of gifts, celebration food and drinks to see you through…with extra ‘just in case’ supplies of course, that’s village life! How is your 2020 Vision...? No, not your eyesight - I'm talking travel plans! From Boxing Day most people turn their thoughts to their summer holiday with the objective of getting it booked in January – well we all need a little something to get us through the rest of the winter - right? Where, when and who will you be travelling with in 2020? Are you planning a beach holiday, cruise, city break, theatre or theme park break, an active adventure, trekking, ranching, cycling, diving, walking, golf, spa or yoga retreat, wedding or honeymoon? Will it be one big summertime holiday or a number of smaller breaks throughout the year? Whether you travel solo, as a couple, a family or in a large group, travelling in the UK, the Mediterranean or the other side of the world, for 2-nights or 2-months the opportunities are plentiful and thankfully with the world at my fingertips I can book any type of trip for any number of people to any FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) permitted destination around the globe. Finally, after a roller-coaster year in the UK travel industry, take reassurance that booking with me ensures your trip is 100% financially protected thanks to our amazing Travel Counsellors Financial Protection Trust - no ifs no buts! Here are some 2020 ideas to consider… London & Theatre Break by Coach or Rail – Pretty Woman, Nine to Five, Tina, Only Fools & Horses, Joseph, Hairspray, Matilda, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Phantom, Les Mis, Prince of Egypt, & Juliet to name a few Krakow, Poland – with flights from Doncaster, marvel at the architecture, sample food, vodka and history, visit the Salt Mine and of course Auschwitz. UK Cottage, Lodge, Holiday Park or Boat – enjoy a short break or longer stay by the seaside or in the country, why not get friends and family together. I can book Hoseasons, Sykes Cottages, Warner, Butlins and Haven. European River Cruise – enjoy multiple cities by sailing Europe’s rivers. River ship fleets are growing to meet demand and lower costs are the result. Modern ships are luxurious with spacious public areas, sun decks, spectacular cabins, food and service. Booking early gets the best deal! Norwegian Fjords Ocean Cruise – a popular cruise destination for all ages and cost effective for families too. In 2020 most UK-based cruise ships are heading there. Best time to go is May-September. I have cruises offering either free transport to the UK port or port car parking – making it so easy! Majorca – perfect for everyone, fabulous beaches, lively nightlife, sleepy villages, cheap and cheerful or indulgent luxury. With 6 flights every week from Doncaster you can go for a few days or for the whole summer! Bali – a true summertime destination, laid back days, lively nights, stay on the beach, twin with a city or go touring to maximise those Insta-moments! Thailand – more than just a beach, visit the fabulous city of Bangkok, go sailing or on an elephant adventure. Good all year and better October-May. Mexico – a new weekly flight from Doncaster means relaxed luxury, active families or a lively party holiday – something for everyone in superb hotels. Florida – flying from Doncaster means you’re with Mickey and friends in the heart of theme parks and attractions even quicker than before. Stay in a Disney property, or drive to the parks from your villa with pool or off-site hotel – save holiday time with pre-purchased park tickets and plan your itinerary. If time is passing you by and you need a little assistance or inspiration with your 2020 travel plans just give me a call. Also, if someone you know would benefit from my personalised service, please share my details with your family, friends and work colleagues. Merry Christmas - I look forward to helping with your 2020 holiday plans!
09 September 2019
Two weeks never seems long enough when it comes to a much-anticipated summer getaway and it's been revealed that we spend nearly as much time researching a trip as we do enjoying it! Life is hectic - juggling work, families, relationships, friends, cooking, cleaning, staying fit and healthy, hobbies...I know right, you don't even have time for those! So if somebody came along and gave you 30-hours of spare time, what would you do with it? Adventures with the kids? Visit family and friends? Start that DIY project you’ve been putting off? Learn a new skill? A bit of ‘you’ time with a good book and a glass of wine? How about online research - would that be top of your list? No, I didn't think so either! However according to a survey of 2,000 UK holidaymakers, the average UK traveller is spending a staggering 30-hours researching their holiday over a 5-week period - that's the equivalent of four working days! This painstaking research includes time spent sourcing flights and accommodation from an average of eight websites, reading three reviews and consulting four friends, with the majority of time researching things to see and do, car hire, transfers, airport parking, checking passports, visas, health requirements and insurance, it adds up to a lot of time - and it’s time you could spend elsewhere. The 30-Hours of Holiday Research is broken down like this: •Talking to friends: 3.5 hours •Deciding how long the holiday should be: 3.5 hours •Reading reviews: 4.5 hours •Searching flight prices and sorting travel arrangements: 4.75 hours •Looking for hotel deals and room prices: 4.5 hours •Exploring activities and attractions: 4 hours •Other planning and documents: 5.5 hours TOTAL: 30 hours 15 minutes By giving me a call, I’ll ask you about the memories and experiences you want from your holiday, your likes and dislikes when it comes to travel – and that’s your bit done. I’ll create your perfect holiday, packed with all the things you love and none of the things you hate. Your holiday administration from secure payments to airline pre-departure checks, online check-in and printing boarding cards will all be done for you and your holiday is protected by Travel Counsellors 'No ifs, no buts' financial security. Holidays without the hassle and 30 more hours to enjoy, you’ll wonder how you ever booked travel before! If you think I can help create your next holiday, then give me a call on 01777 780004 or email me at email@example.com
01 August 2019
I have been very fortunate to have sailed on almost 100 cruises over the last 25 years and St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands is my absolute favourite cruise port in the world. This little Caribbean island is situated east of Puerto Rico in the Southern Caribbean and draws me back almost every winter since my first visit in 1998. I have visited St Thomas 17 times now and have fond memories of the island, especially since 2017 when I got married there right on the white sandy beach at Magens Bay overlooking the crystal-clear waters surrounded by the protective hills of the peninsulas protecting the bay. St Thomas draws me back time after time for many reasons, I love the history, the vibe, the people, the food and the many happy memories I have created there. The island was founded by the Danish in the 1600’s and is now a busy cruise ship port. I love to explore the historic buildings on the island such as Blackbeard’s Castle – a reference to the islands pirate past, and the 17th century Fort Christian which is now a local-history museum on the harbour. The cruise ships dock close to a typically Caribbean portside shopping mall with the usual shops, bars, restaurants – this area can get very busy thought the plus side is that it’s very flat with good hard surfaces for strollers and wheelchair users. Once out of the shopping area you’ll find readily available shared or private transport to take you to the islands beaches which incidentally are perfect for snorkelling. You can take the Skyride to Paradise Point - a cable car gondola ride where you can have a drink at the summit and take in the spectacular views of the island’s stunning bays, the cruise ships and of course the capital Charlotte Amalie. Shopping in the capital Charlotte Amalie is one of the best and most varied in the Caribbean. The newly pedestrianised streets and smaller alleyways off the main street offer everything from local handicrafts to antiques, artisan stores to high end designer products and there is a heavy focus on jewellery and electronics. I mentioned snorkelling earlier and a quieter location for this is at Coki Point Road beach at Smith Bay just along from the much busier Pineapple beach. Throughout St Thomas you will find a full range of motorised and non-motorised water sports available on the beaches. You can even try stand-up paddle boarding through the mangrove lagoon and see the coral, jellyfish and stingrays while paddling on the swamp waterways. If you fancy something a little more extreme why not try rock climbing on the ocean cliffs on Inner Brass Island or the new Tree Limin’ Extreme Zipline – a little too energetic for me I must say! Eco tours are becoming more and more popular across the Caribbean including St Thomas where you’ll find options to kayak, hike and snorkel it’s a great way to learn more about the island’s history and ecology. My favourite beach is undoubtedly Mages Bay, it’s on the northside of the island and the almost three-quarters of a mile of white sand beach is well protected. The beach facilities are good and very well looked after, there is a parking area, restaurants and bars just off the beach – the conservation costs are covered by the entrance fee charged to use the beach. I particularly like exploring the wooded inland area behind the car park which also hides some ruined buildings – great for exploring and escaping the hot sun. When I’m in St Thomas there are two places I always head to for refreshments - Greengos and The Old Stone Farmhouse. Greengos Caribbean Cantina at 34-35 Dronnigens Gade in Charlotte Amalie is my daytime ‘fun time with friends’ venue. It’s a family run restaurant and bar where Elizabeth the head of the family shows her sons how to prepare and serve the best Mexican food I’ve tasted outside of Mexico itself – it’s a great location that offers friendly service, the venue is quite quirky and fits with the charm of the alleyway it lives on. The walls have fantastic Mexican wall art and you’ve got to try the strawberry Coronaritas – they are big enough to share and taste the best! When I’m looking for something a little more formal, I head to The Old Stone Farmhouse. It’s housed in a 1750’s stable block at Mahogany Run Golf Course on the northside of the island and not too far from Magens Bay. It’s an upscale restaurant serving an array of American influenced food – if you are lucky enough to be in port on a Sunday, you couldn’t go too wrong by reserving a table for their delicious Sunday Brunch made from fresh and local produce with contemporary flavour combinations that just work. I have a soft spot for this place as this was where my wedding breakfast was held. This little island has a lot to offer and it’s well worth exploring further on an island tour – I hope you love it as much as I do.
16 July 2019
In our 20s we were trying new out things, starting careers, sorting life goals and planning for a comfortable future. As we get older we can let go a little and work on the things that keep us happy. Turning 50, 60, 70 and beyond are big milestones and many of us have a 'bucket list' or plan that involves visiting and experiencing places around the globe whilst we are still fit and able to enjoy travelling. Travelling the world has become easier and as we mature we can often afford to splurge a little extra on that special trip, especially whilst we’re fit enough to burn off energy trying something new - so what experiences are on your list? Here are 20 things you should seriously consider adding to your bucket list... 1. See the Taj Mahal - the best time to visit is at sunrise or sunset, when the crowds are sparse and the lower sun glows warmly against the white marble structure 2. Visit the Grand Canyon - the UNESCO World Heritage Site offers plenty to see and explore so make sure you do your research and plan out an itinerary depending on exactly what you want to take away from the trip 3. Experience the Northern Lights - the ideal time to catch Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights in the North) is during winter – with crucial viewing time being 8pm to 2am.. wrap up warm to catch a glimpse of this remarkable dancing light show 4. Cruise Alaska - prepare yourself for cotton-white views, untouched icescapes and titanic wildlife, well worth paying the extra for a balcony cabin - you’ll thank me for it once you catch that early morning view with your coffee 5. Explore the Great Barrier Reef - over 2,000km of coral reef ecosystem and blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, you have the option of scuba diving or snorkelling in the deep blue ocean or from an aircraft or helicopter tour 6. Trek the Himalayas - there are plenty of treks to choose from to suit all abilities, or unwind and take in the beauty of the mountain range from your lodges or luxury resorts perfect to accommodate the more relaxed traveller 7. Walk the Great Wall of China - there are a number of options to explore this architectural marvel, a tour guide and a good pair of walking shoes are essential, March to May or September to November are the best times to visit 8. Trail to Machu Picchu - this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an ancient Inca city known for awe-inspiring archaeological achievements, May to September is the best time to visit and prepare for high altitude, varying climates and rocky paths 9. Unearth Jordan’s Lost City - from a time of ancient civilisation that was ‘lost’ to the outside world for hundreds of years. Be there as soon as the gates open at 6am and you will easily see Petra in a day and have photos without other tourists 10. See the Wildlife in Serengeti - known for its game reserves and the largest mammal migration in the world, you can visit any time of the year and if you’re lucky you will be able to spot the Big Five during your time on a Game Drive 11. Take an American Road Trip - It may sound very rock ‘n roll, but a USA road trip should be on every bucket list. A coast to coast trip from San Francisco to New York taking in Vegas, New Orleans, Washington DC and everything in between 12. Taste Italy - one for the foodies, and there’s a lot more to Italian food than pasta and pizza, Italian cuisine is unique, wholesome and rich in natural flavours. Go wine tasting in Tuscany or truffle crazy in Umbria and support the local farms. 13. Photograph Salar de Uyuni - located in Bolivia it's the largest salt flat desert in the world. The salt is pristine white and makes for the perfect optical illusion, along with the pin drop silence that gives you the ideal surreal setting 14. Surf Indonesia - the best season to hit the waves is from April to October and popular places include Bali, Mentawai, Lombok, Sumatra and any of the Gili Islands. Bring your own board, rent or buy locally as there are plenty of surf shops 15. Watch the Sunrise at Cappadocia - a fairy-tale region in the Anatolian plains where from rock formations known as Fairy Chimneys, you can enjoy a magical sunrise watching the many dreamlike hot air balloons take flight 16. Stay in an Igloo - this may seem extreme, but it's extremely doable as today’s igloos are packed with almost everything you will need. Plan your igloo stay for November to March in Norway, Switzerland, Austria or Finland. 17. Experience La Tomatina Festival - this festival takes place in the town of Buñol in Spain and draws around 20,000 participants in what is essentially a full-blown food fight throwing squashed tomatoes at each other - not for everyone's appetite! 18. Visit a Castle - you don’t need to be royalty to visit a castle. Edinburgh Castle is the most popular tourist attraction in Scotland, don't miss the crown jewels which were first used together in 1540 for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots 19. Witness the Galapagos Islands - go by cruise where you can make short stops on each of the islands, swim in the ocean, go on wildlife tours and excursions, take part in water sports, go kayaking and taste some fantastic local cuisine 20. View Japan's Cherry Blossom Season - Hanami is the Japanese custom of ‘flower viewing’ and takes place every year from February to May. Avoid the crowds and stay in areas like Mount Fuji, Kinkaku-Ji Temple, Nara Park and Nijo Castle What are you waiting for - are you ready to start crossing things of your bucket list?
10 July 2019
In July, I was invited to spend a few days onboard the newly built SAGA cruise ship - Spirit of Discovery. This was ahead of her naming ceremony by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and before embarking on a new era in boutique British cruising exclusively for the over 50’s. Spirit of Discovery is a boutique size ship which means she can get directly into smaller ports with ease. She carries 999 guests and each of the 554 cabins has its own private balcony. As a comparison Cunard’s QM2 carries 2,695 guests in 1,360 cabins. There are a range of cabins from standard to deluxe and suites, there are also 100 single cabins – well done SAGA! They are exceptionally well equipped with a seating area, dressing table/desk, spacious wardrobe, a large wall mounted TV, tea/coffee making facilities, air conditioning, mini fridge, safe, hairdryer and even binoculars! The en-suite shower rooms have a modern design and feel spacious too. The food service was exceptional and the two main dining areas – The Grand Dining Room and The Grill offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as Afternoon Tea. To give guests complete flexibility ‘anytime dining’ is standard – no early or late sitting on this ship. There are three speciality restaurants offering a la carte dining, pre-booking is recommended, and you can choose from: *Coast to Coast - a seafood restaurant with an Italian feel and the use of neutral and natural colours gives a sense of airy opulence. *East to West - offers innovative Asian cuisine, the look and feel has a modern twist on the traditional dark and rich Asian colour palette of dark woods, turquoise, amber and gold. *The Club by Jools - a steakhouse with live music offers a cabaret style dining experience. ‘Jools’ is our very own Jools Holland who will be performing on selected sailings too - that will be something special! There are lots of places to relax on board with a cup of tea, coffee or something stronger or be more active. You can see a show, watch live entertainment, attend a lecture, soak up the sun, get fit or be pampered. The ship offers superb entertainment, the Britannia Lounge - a show lounge offering entertainment, guest lectures and activities day and night, The Playhouse - a 444-seat theatre and home of the resident performance company, where the design ensures a great seat wherever you sit. There are other facilities too such as a swimming pool with hot tubs, gym, spa, card room, craft room and a library with a cosy cafe. In addition to the fantastic facilities onboard, SAGA offers all of this on every sailing... *Chauffeur service from your home to departure port (max. 250 miles) *All meals on board, including 24-hour room service *A choice of wines at lunch and dinner *All on-board gratuities *Optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK Branch and additional cancellation rights on overseas holidays for over 50s, or a price reduction if not required (cover is subject to medical questions) *Entertainment and activities *Welcome cocktail party and Captain’s dinner *All port taxes and visas From November 2019 the Spirit of Discovery will be all-inclusive and in August 2020 she will be joined by a second new sister ship Spirit of Adventure, across both ships there are sailings from 4-nights to 35-nights and prices for 2020 start at just £795 per person including your door-to-door pick-up and drop off (within 250 miles of the port). This is a brief summary of my time on board and as an experienced cruiser I was impressed by the quality offered. If you would like to experience this beautiful ship for yourself, then get in touch to discuss dates and availability.
18 June 2019
Following my 7-hour flight from Manchester with Etihad, my Travel Counsellor transfer met me in the arrivals area and took me to my hotel in just 20 minutes. My home for the next 14 nights was the St Regis Saadiyat Island and after just a few days I must say that this hotel is just stunning. The beautifully appointed modern and spacious guest rooms have everything you could need including UK plug sockets - and the bathroom is huge! The levels of service are exceptional and for a larger hotel the staff make it feel very personal, knowing our names, restaurant table, drinks and poolside preferences already. Pool towels, iced water and fresh fruit are complimentary both poolside and beach-side. I love having a button by my sun lounger that alerts the pool team that I would like to order food or drinks. There are lots of evening options for food or drinks including Buddha Bar Beach, the Manhattan Lounge, Lebanese and Indian restaurants. It feels very safe with room key cards required to access the pool area from the beach and to move throughout the hotel. There are even mounted police on the extensive white sandy beach too. The turquoise waters of the Arabian gulf are warm, as are the tiered infinity swimming pools. The supervised Kids Club has its own pool area and the separate Adult Pool area is tranquil and spa like. The Athletic Centre houses the latest techno-gym equipment and has a 25m indoor lap pool, add in the Spa, the shopping square, and the golf course in the hotel grounds, and there really is something for everyone here. Abu Dhabi weather is great all year round and this is our third visit having stayed previously at the Hilton on Corniche and the Ritz Carlton on the Grand Canal - Saadiyat Island definitely has the best beach in Abu Dhabi. When you compare this to half-board in a 5* hotel in the Canaries you get a lot more for just a little more money. If you are looking for something of a high standard with great year-round weather then this may well be for you as it's ideal for families, couples or singles.
19 August 2020
Steeped in history, overflowing with culture and bursting at the seams with locals and tourists alike, New Delhi has a lot going on. The city of New Delhi can be a little unnerving, to say the least. From the moment you arrive, expect to be launched into the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s liveliest cities. Amidst all the chaos, mindless traffic, and crowds of people, there are plenty of highlights and attractions that you should check out in Delhi. Like all destinations around the world, the secret to a truly memorable and unique experience is to immerse yourself in the local culture. In my opinion, one of the best places in the world to do so is Delhi and many of India’s other captivating destinations. Visit the mosques, forts, and monuments… The city is peppered with enchanting architecture, spellbinding forts, historic mosques, and monuments you really should take the time to explore. Of course, the Red Fort is most definitely Delhi’s most famous monument. The fort serves a powerful reminder of the Mughal era India and the struggle for freedom that followed. The fort is steeped in history, including the capture by the Sikhs and the British. Visit the fort and take your imagination back to the ancient era for just 500 rupees. If you visit in the late afternoon, it’s worth sticking around for the hour-long sound and light show held each evening. The fort is open from sunrise until sunset Tuesday to Sunday. Discover the inspiration for the Taj Mahal... The Humayun Tomb, which was built in 1570 is another must-see on the list. If you think it has an uncanny resemblance to the Taj Mahal, you would be correct. The tomb was the first of its type of Mughal architecture to be built in India, with the rulers going on to build similar edifices all over the country. The tomb is part of a greater complex that is home to some beautiful gardens offering a surprisingly calm oasis in the busy city. The price of entry to the Tomb is 500 rupees and it is open from sunset to sunrise, daily. The best time to visit is during the late afternoon. Visit the towering archway of India Gate... The 42-meter-high stone memorial archway in the very heart of New Delhi is most definitely worth a visit. The arch was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens back in 1921 and it pays tribute to around 90,000 Indian Army soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the First World War. Not only will you experience the moving history of the memorial, but you will also witness the constant buzz of tourists, locals, and street sellers that surround the area. Indulge in retail therapy... From flea markets and moving carts to streetside boutiques and luxury shopping malls, you will find every possible shopping experience in New Delhi. If you want to shop for souvenirs and traditional Indian keepsakes, head to Janpath Market. The market is home to a whole host of small boutique stores selling jewellery, home décor products, and charming knick-knacks. One of Delhi’s favourite flea markets is the Sarojini Nagar, home to stylish clothing and accessories, budget-friendly shopping and aesthetic homeware pieces. The market can be quite congested and somewhat disorganised, so you’ll need some patience when searching for those hidden gems. Although flea markets and streetside boutiques are an experience in themselves, during the height of summer, walking the streets of Delhi can be tricky. If you’re looking for an indoor activity, retreat to one of the upmarket shopping malls. Select Citywalk offers an array of stores, restaurants, and cafes so you could easily spend a day here. What’s more, nearby you will find DLF place. This mall is worlds away from the streets of Delhi, here you can expect to find designer stores, upmarket restaurants and coffee shops. If you fancy a little luxury, this is the place for you. Treat your taste buds... One thing you won’t be short of in New Delhi is dining options. Whether you’re in search of budget-friendly street food or a lavish meal, you’ll be spoilt for choice here. Many travellers are apprehensive about eating street food, however, more often than not, these are the vendors serving the freshest food. While you’re in Delhi, you must try: Stuffed paratha: a staple in Indian households, often packed with a spicy vegetable filling topped with lashings of butter Samosa chaat: little triangles of golden pastry served with a generous helping of chickpea curry Butter chicken: an indulgent and creamy dish made with succulent chicken Venture further and explore Chandni Chowk of Old Delhi... If you’re looking to enjoy a leisurely stroll, then Chandni Chowk isn’t the place for you. However, if you’re ready to throw yourself into the congested yet captivating streets of Delhi, this is one to visit. Chandni Chowk, the main street of old Delhi is a far cry from the wide, orderly streets you’ll come across in New Delhi. Here you can find cars, rickshaws, carts, pedestrians and occasional animals all competing for space. If you wish to visit one of India’s oldest and busiest markets boasting inexpensive jewellery, fabrics, and gadgets, then it’s worth taking on the chaos for a slice of market life in India. In New Delhi you’ll encounter unique people and experiences, and I guarantee you will form memories to last a lifetime. Delhi is the perfect starting point for a Golden Triangle Tour, you can see all that Delhi has to offer, travel to Agra for the famous Taj Mahal and then to Jaipur for amongst many things a chance to visit the Amber Fort. End your tour with a relaxing beach stay in Goa on the west coast, Pondicherry in the east or stunning Kerala in the south. India is a stunning place, I've been 5 times and I love it; the colours, the smells, the noise, the friendly local people and the fabulous food - if you are interested in travelling to India it helps to book with someone who has experienced it, feel free to call me and lets chat through some options.
Doncaster 12/15/2021 12:15:00 PM
Nottingham 12/12/2021 10:30:00 PM
Mexborough 10/9/2021 9:32:00 AM
Retford 10/5/2021 6:03:00 PM
Stamford 10/5/2021 6:01:00 PM
Rotherham 10/5/2021 5:57:00 PM
Doncaster 10/5/2021 5:56:00 PM
Doncaster 10/5/2021 5:55:00 PM
Doncaster 10/5/2021 5:54:00 PM
Gringley on the Hill 10/5/2021 5:53:00 PM
Gainsborough 10/5/2021 5:52:00 PM
Gainsborough 11/26/2020 3:56:00 PM
Doncaster 8/18/2020 4:56:00 PM
Doncaster 8/18/2020 11:19:00 AM
Doncaster 8/18/2020 9:55:00 AM
Rotherham 2/21/2020 11:16:00 AM
Middlesbrough 2/12/2020 10:44:00 PM
Rotherham 2/12/2020 10:06:00 PM
Doncaster 1/18/2020 12:39:00 PM
Westwoodside 1/17/2020 5:09:00 PM
Doncaster 12/28/2019 3:27:00 PM
Retford 11/8/2019 12:53:00 PM
Stockton-on-Tees 10/2/2019 2:00:00 PM
Bawtry 9/30/2019 9:50:00 PM
Doncaster 9/13/2019 11:59:00 AM
Ossett 9/7/2019 6:45:00 PM
Gringley on the Hill 9/3/2019 7:58:00 AM
Doncaster 8/15/2019 7:44:00 AM
Lincolnshire 8/14/2019 9:14:00 PM
Lincolnshire 8/14/2019 9:14:00 PM
Rotherham 8/3/2019 10:46:00 AM
Westwoodside 8/2/2019 6:16:00 PM
Newcastle-under-Lyme 7/23/2019 11:20:00 PM
Lea 7/16/2019 2:15:00 PM
Rotherham 6/13/2019 1:32:00 PM
Retford 6/11/2019 6:33:00 PM
Doncaster 6/10/2019 5:18:00 PM
Gringley on the Hill 5/18/2019 6:49:00 PM
Gringley on the Hill 5/15/2019 12:11:00 PM