Sent by Debbie Keelan
Glossop 9/26/2019 3:18:00 PM
Based in Glossop
Hello, my name is Karon, I live in Glossop, Derbyshire with my husband, 13 year old son and 4 year old daughter and I LOVE TO TRAVEL, second to that I love organising holidays for others. I would be delighted to have the opportunity to use my knowledge and love of travel to help you with your future travel plans
I have 25 years’ experience in the travel industry and have received national branch of the year award twice. The biggest reward I get is when I receive good feedback on customer’s holidays I’ve arranged. Take a look at some of my client testimonials.
Travel Counsellors allows me to offer a truly personal service whilst also providing the best financial protection to give my customers confidence when booking their holiday, unlike many of the internet sites. I have the flexibility to be available when my customers need me.
As a Travel Counsellor, my business relies on delighting my customers with the service I provide - not just meeting your expectations but exceeding them and going that extra mile to make sure your trip is perfect. If you are happy then I am happy!
With the industry leading technology of Travel Counsellors, I can assist you with any and all travel arrangements including:
· Tailor made holidays
· Package holidays
· Weekend breaks
· Ski holidays
· Air travel
· Ferry travel
· UK and worldwide hotels
· Airport parking
· Airport lounge access
· Travel insurance
· Foreign currency
- Weddings and honeymoons
I work around you, so if you want to contact me in the evening or at the weekend then that works for me. I’m also happy to meet you face to face or on Skype to understand your requirements if you’d prefer- I know it’s sometimes nice to see who you are talking to!
Let me take the hassle of holiday planning away from you and save you time by sorting all your holiday needs.
Please give me a call on 01457 778530 or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with what you are looking for. Or if you prefer you can suggest a date/time you would like me to call you.
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.
31 October 2017
This October I was extremely fortunate to visit Canada with 23 other Travel Counsellors. Canada has always been on my bucket list and this this trip was amazing. Our base for the first four nights was the Rosedale on Robson Suites. Perfectly located in this beautiful city where nothing is too far away. Being October we had the pleasure of seeing the city as all the colours were changing. Vancouver prides itself as a city that combines the sea and the mountains and it’s easy to see why it is voted in the top 10 best cities in the world. I certainly fell in love with it with its outdoor lifestyle and vibrant city life. The city also boasts a beautiful city Park, Stanley Park, a 1000-acre public park which borders downtown Vancouver with the city skyline one side and snow-capped mountains on the other; it shows how beautiful this city is. The park has an Aquarium which is worth a visit and there are lots of activities you can do around the park. Hire bikes, or like us take a guided ‘Eco’ tour where very knowledgeable guides take you round the sights of the park, the views from various parts and talk about the nature. For other great views of the city take a trip up the Vancouver Look Out, where you can get 360 degree views, although the glass lift it’s not great for those, like me, with a fear of heights!! If shopping and food is your thing then Vancouver is perfect. Robson Street and Granville Market are an absolute must during your stay. I would highly recommend the Foodie Tour, tasting stops around Granville Market! But allow time after to go back to purchase some treats to take home! Highly recommend the Granville Tea company and their Chai tea and the nuts from We also did further tasting with the Vancouver Brewery Tour Company, a trip around 3 of Vancouver’s many micro-breweries with an insight to beer making and plenty of different beers to try – make sure you get some food with this – would recommend the chicken wings and Putin! Just outside the city are also two shopping outlets. Vancouver offers so many different experience options. So on an afternoon free rather than chill with a coffee we took a 90 minute speedboat trip around the city, was great to see the city from the sea. Whilst some colleagues did a seaplane experience, taking off from the water in Vancouver Harbor and views from the sky. Flying plus a plane with just 5 seats and a propeller gives an amazing 20-minute flight from above the city and coast! Are you worn out yet? This was just the first part! Leaving the city we headed to our next location, Vancouver Island, by ferry which takes just under 2 hours. We then had a road trip to Tofino taking about 2.5 hours, this is a small town on the west Pacific coast which has so much to offer everyone. Activities include Whale watching, Bear watching, Pacific Ocean surfing and some of the coolest café’s and bar’s, and craft shopping, add some most amazing beaches and incredible views of the ocean. This is this a top location for both the summer and out of season offering something totally different, storm watching .Vancouver Island is one of the few places in the world where you can ski and surf in the dame day! The most luxurious properties we visited was The Wickaninnish Inn, it’s easy to see why this often fully booked. Guests enjoy a beachfront location with incredible viewing opportunities of the Pacific storms crashing in! Views from the guest rooms have floor to ceiling windows and you also get to have the same views from you bathtub. Each room has comfy chairs and your own fire – just perfect. With their own carvers on site the wood used all around the hotel is done in their very own carving shed – a real gem of a property. Our purpose for staying here was to see Whales and Bears and we weren’t disappointed. Taking two 3 hour boat trips with Jamie’s Whaling Station we got to see these along with sea otters, seals and bald eagles. The bears were amazing. Viewing them from the water allowed us to see them up close in a safe environment, without disturbing them.A real highlight of this amazing trip. Leaving Tofino we headed back over to the East and to Parksville, the East being much milder is a perfect spot for families. More great beaches with shallow waters a great location for experiencing Vancouver Island but with its easy location to the port back to Vancouver and shorter drives for sightseeing. Check out the Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort or the BeachClub Resort – both great for family stays. This trip allowed me to experience the best of Canada, city and countryside, food and adventure. The wonderfully warm hospitality of the Canadians. But this was just a small part of what Canada has to offer and I can’t wait to go back and experience more!!
09 August 2017
In April I visited Disneyland Paris for the first time. Having sold it since launch day 25 years ago I have never been, even though I have been to Florida 3 times! So I was really interested to see how it compared to America. I traveled with my 10-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter along with my niece who is 20. We flew into Charles de Gaulle and jumped on the Magic Shuttle transfer bus that we had pre-booked. This was very smooth with only a 10-minute wait from collecting luggage. We were also the first drop to our hotel stay at the Sequoia Lodge. The first thing I noticed on arrival is how tight security is with a full bag scanner on entry and hand held body scanners, security is something they clearly take seriously. Check in was very smooth and you received all your vouchers for any meal plans, photo pass etc at this point. We made our way to our Montana room, a great size room with 2 double beds, plenty of space for a travel cot and nice bathroom. A very short walk takes you to the Disney Village with an array of shops, restaurants, and entertainment. This is where you can find the Buffalo Bill show (tickets sold separately). As you enter the village from the hotel zone the security checks here are a lot quicker than into the main park and once in you don’t need to be checked again. We had 4 nights stay and planned our days so that we didn’t have to go from one park to another too much, we also picked up a map straight away so that we could see timings of everything and plan accordingly. If you stay in one of the onsite hotels you get early access to the parks from 8 am. We used this time to go on the rides that tended to have the longest queues. TOP TIP: make sure you check which park has the early entry on each day (Studios not every day) and also which rides as they are not all open. TOP TIP: make sure you get fast passes first thing as the time slots go very quickly. You can only have one fast pass at a time so on some days we were only able to get one. Here are some of the other Top Tips I have from our stay. I would recommend you pre-book your restaurants (this is something I can do for you), it is quieter to eat between 5.30pm and 7 pm. I was impressed with almost everywhere we ate which was: Hunters Grill (at Sequoia Lodge), Plaza Gardens, Production Courtyard and Walts, these were all included in our half board vouchers although Walts carried a supplement. We also ate at the Rainforest Café which isn’t included in the voucher scheme but wasn’t that good in comparison. I would HIGHLY recommend the Character Lunch, this takes place in the Inventions restaurant in the Disneyland Hotel. The buffet food here was amazing and we got to meet 5 characters. This really is well organized and you get really special time with the characters, you’re not made to feel rushed at all. This is a much nicer way to meet the characters rather than have to join the long queues in the parks. The illuminations show is on every night at 10 pm, it gets very busy so you need to get your place about 9 pm, and there are lots of jostling here! We paid for the ‘Photo Pass’ and would recommend this. It’s really great capturing lots of action pictures on the rides, you just get your pass scanned and select the photos you want and they go onto your app. The Mickey Mouse show at the Animagique Theatre was so amazing that we watched it twice in one day. Meeting Darth Vader and the Storm Troopers was my son's highlight. We spent the week checking how many steps we had done (26,000 on one day) and saying how special different moments were. To help save money take snacks with you, grab some fruit from breakfast, take water bottles which you can fill up at the many water fountains, you can also use the mini squash squirters. Overall I was very impressed with the overall experience and know that it won’t take me another 25 years to go.
21 February 2017
I have recently returned from a week’s skiing in St Anton, Austria with 2 other families, 6 adults and 5 kids ages ranging from 20 months to 10 years. All with various abilities, 3 adults with a dozen weeks' skiing before to some on only their 2nd week skiing. Our accommodation, the Chalet Pepi Gabl, was situated right next door to the Nasserein gondola and the kids' ski schools, could not be more perfectly located. The hotel itself offered recently refurbished rooms, we had a 2-bedroom suite with modern bathroom. A buffet breakfast and 5-course meal with wine provided every day, except Thursdays where you go out for your evening meal. Kids' evening meals are catered for separately with children sat in different age groups, normally who they are in ski school or nursery with, so some great bonding. The nursery facilities were excellent; we were allocated 2 key workers so we always had full feedback of the day’s events. Every day the children spent some time outside, either up the gondola, to the little park or into town for a hot chocolate. The staff really were excellent and we had great confidence leaving the 2 smaller children. In the evenings a baby listening service is on offer, each floor provided a member of staff who sit quietly listening and regularly checking the children. For the older children there was ski school for 5 days. Dropping them off with Esprit staff from 0830 they were kitted out and taken to their lessons. The children really do pick it up quicker than us and have no fear of black runs in such a short period of time. In fact they get more out of ski school than they do with us! They are then collected by the Esprit staff who put on games etc until you are back, quite often they want to stay with them than come back with us. St Anton itself is a fantastic resort (this was the 3rd visit), there are a number of different ski areas to choose from so you never run out of slopes. Although it may be quite a challenge for beginners and some of the blue runs can be tough. The choices of places to eat and drink on the mountains is plentiful. My favourite place to go though is Rendl Beach, a great bar overlooking the ski park so you can watch the experts at it. This area only has a few runs but the sun always seems to shine here and I was even brave enough to do a black run here. Our final day was spent with all the older kids skiing together with us, this is really the highlight of the week. We get to see how good they are, they get to take the mickey out of how cautious we are and we all have a great laugh. Maybe next year we’ll let them ski with us more? If skiing is not something you’ve done before, or if you did it before having children and are unsure how it would work, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Why not get in touch and I can tell you even more!
07 December 2016
Earlier this year my husband and I decided to have a weekend away without the kids. Looking through our diaries we were left with a weekend early December so where to go that offered a bit of sunshine and a bit to do. Madeira won. We had visited before 12 years before and were looking forward to seeing in the winter rather than summer. A four hour flight from the UK we arrived mid-afternoon on the Friday; a private taxi transfer was waiting for us to take us to our hotel. We were booked into The Vine, a 5* hotel, very central. A smooth transfer and check in had us out walking in Funchal within an hour. Our room overlooked the harbour where every day new cruise ships docked. At night the view of all the lights of the town was stunning. The main town of Funchal still retains all its charm with beautiful historic buildings, little parks, shops and the harbour. We stopped to enjoy some Madeiran tapas with a glass of Madeiran wine. The town was dressed up with Christmas and I was excited to see what the town would look like at night, I wasn’t disappointed – they are amazing. They also had a small Christmas market which was lovely to walk round prior to eating dinner that evening. We chose a restaurant just off one of the squares. On the Saturday after a leisurely morning we made out for a walk up to the village of Monte. Quite a challenging walk given it was uphill most of the way. We followed one of the ‘levada’s’, walkways next to a channel (levada) that were made years ago to help with the flow of water down the hillsides. The scenery was beautiful, flowers, wildlife (we saw two buzzards) and the views over the bay. Monte has its own gardens and is also famous for the wicket basket toboggan ride which takes you have way down the hills and you can walk or get a taxi back down to Funchal. There are also a number of little bars and cafes on route. That evening we went towards the hotel zone further out of Funchal and found a fantastic steak restaurant, La Vaca Negra, a small family restaurant that offers amazing steaks alongside amazing service. We then headed for the pub ‘Hole in One’ where we enjoyed some live music. Sunday was a beautiful day so we enjoyed most of the day by the rooftop pool of the hotel followed by a nice evening meal and some more live music and Mulligans, an Irish bar a ten minute walk from the hotel. Throughout our stay we had great weather alongside some pretty heavy downpours. The service we received everywhere was great. The atmosphere of Funchal is brilliant; almost everywhere you turn there were brass bands playing various music. One thing we didn’t get chance to do but will definitely do when we return is the Cristiano Ronaldo museum, having come from Madeira he is their most famous export and the museum is dedicated to all his achievements so a must for all football fans. We will also fit in a drip to the vineyards to see the famous Madeiran wine being made. Funchal is a great alternative for a bit of winter sun. It is cultural alongside being relaxing. Plenty to do, fantastic service and amazing scenery – we wouldn’t hesitate to visit again and won’t be leaving it another 12 years!
06 December 2016
I have returned from another massively motivational weekend on my sixth Travel Counsellors Conference and wanted to share my experience. To those who see the pictures on my Facebook page this weekend it can come across as a big jolly, with gala dinners, famous speakers such as Vernon Kay and Dame Kelly Holmes, top acts with Jack Whiteall, Laura Wright and Ronan Keating but this is just one side of it. What else do we get from it? What makes us go to bed late but be up, ready and sat in the conference hall at 0830? Because we love the job we do. Each year the events team at Head Office source motivational speakers who in many ways link to ourselves. This year along with Dame Kelly we had the pleasure of the company of the inspirational traveller Nadia Clarke. Nadia was born with Cerebral Palsy and despite being wheelchair bound and deaf her zest for life is amazing. Her passion, like us, is travel and with the help of one of our great Travel Counsellors her dreams become reality. You can see one of her trips here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuoVgAUCsMk We also heard from Jo Fairley, the founder of Green & Blacks who started her business from her spare bedroom (like many of us), who’s passion is to ensure that her ethics and principles are linked to all that the business does, the ‘Green’ being the organic side of the company, they were the first Fair Trade product in the UK back in 1994 (the year we started). Linked to this she also runs a charity where monies raised go towards educating children from the areas where they source their ingredients. Dame Kelly Holmes reminded us that when you see great achievements we don’t always see the hard work behind it. The sweat and tears, the ups and downs, the times where giving up seemed the much easier option but ultimately that hard work pays off and to follow your dreams, and that sometimes choosing the right portaloo before a Gold medal winning race is all you need to do! When you go and see a theatre performance you don’t see the chaos in the wings and that reminded me a bit about what I do as a Travel Counsellor. This year’s theme was MYTC, what does Travel Counsellors mean to me. Each speaker was asked to say what Travel Counsellors meant to them so I thought I would share what TC means to me. Travel Counsellors allows me the freedom of flexibility, to be able to be there for my clients as well as for my family. Some weeks I work long hours, long days, others I can take time off to enjoy my family, attend sports days and nativities. Travel Counsellors allows me to enjoy my passion of travel and customer service. As long as we are delivering great customer service everything else comes second and that’s how it should be. Travel Counsellors allows me to be part of a huge team (over 1,200 TCs worldwide) whilst still making me feel part of the family. So when I have bad days or weeks both at work or home I know I am surrounded by people who want the best for me. And lastly it was my absolute pleasure to be in on the secret of which charity we were supporting at this year’s conference as it is so close to my heart. Operation top secret meant that only a handful were in on the announcement that it was going to be Reuben’s Retreat, and with Reuben’s daddy Mike sat in the audience unaware that his wife had done a video, the moment it was announced led to a huge applause followed by amazing people making amazing donations that to date stand in excess of £23k – WOW. The snowball effect has only just begun with many Travel Counsellors wanting to raise money for this amazing charity.
03 August 2016
TOP TEN TIPS for avoiding additional stress at your airport during peak travel 1. Long Haul - get there a minimum of 3.5 hours before 2. Short Haul - get there a minimum of 2.5 hours before 3. Check in online 24 hours prior to departure and print off your boarding passes 4. Set off from home earlier - no one can predict the traffic 5. Arrange parking for the Meet and Greet (nearest to the Airport Terminal) 6. Take plenty of snacks for the car journey and waiting for your flight & bottles of water for pre-security 7. Wear comfortable clothing (belts, shoes, jewellery) will all have to be removed at the Security Gate 8. Have toiletries (under 100ml) in a see through sandwich bag ready for the Security Gate 9. Parents, as long as you have the kids, passports, money, Credit card, nothing else matters - Children pick up on your stress, if you cope, they will! 10. Book with a Travel Counsellor, we worry about all this so you don't have
25 May 2016
This was my very first visit to the Indian Ocean. Flying from Manchester via Dubai with Emirates the journey was extremely comfortable, also gives you the opportunity to add Dubai into your trip. I had the opportunity to experience Emirates Business Class facilities along with their Economy. Plenty of entertainment, service and comfort in both, but you truly feel spoiled in Business Class. Take advantage of the Duty Free shopping in Dubai during your change over while your baggage is checked all the way though. A truly seamless experience. One of the best things about going to Mauritius is the small time difference with it being just 3 hours ahead really meant I could avoid jet lag. On arrival we were transferred to the beautiful Beachcomber hotel Paradis situated in the South West part of the island on the Peninsula, as soon as you arrive at Paradis you are greeted with a warm smile and instantly puts you at ease and you can start to relax. Day 1 gave me the full opportunity to check out my location and see just how beautiful it really was. Paradis is situated on a gorgeous white sandy beach with turquoise seas whilst behind you have a stunning rocky mountain backdrop. A choice of comfortable sunbeds await you either on the beach or by the lovely big pool, with beach towels provided. The hotel and whole island in fact has this oasis of peace and tranquillity and I was able to unwind very quickly. It's easy to get around the complex and the sister hotel, Dinarobin, by the golf buggy's provided throughout the day/evening. We visited the hotel Dinarobin which offers even more facilities giving you a huge selection of land and water sports activities and good restaurants choice and a fantastic spa, along with a golf course and kids clubs. Both resorts are very elegant and I would not hesitate in recommending them to my clients as rest assured I know they would have a great time and would be well looked after. Plenty of restaurant choices will mean that you can always find something to suit your taste, buffet style or sit down restaurants, Italian, local creole and plenty of fish. You can even choose to eat on the beach with the sand in your toes. The hotel offers a variety of generous sized rooms with complimentary Wi-Fi and complimentary tea/coffee facilities. I was very pleased with my lead in room as it had everything I needed a complimentary safe, nice toiletries and plenty of space for clothes (Something many hotels get wrong), also situated on the ground floor a more than generous terrace with full furniture and direct access to the gardens then beach. Other room options include family suites and private villas which come with your own butler, golf cart and bikes. The resident band was excellent and was on each evening, the atmosphere was low key but had a nice vibe. We did sample the nightclub which is perfect for wedding parties to hire, it would really make any wedding day finish on a high. What I love about beachcomber is they only allow 1 wedding per day in fact we only saw one during the whole week so I am sure that made the bride feel more special. For the more adventurous you are spoilt with a variety of activities we had a lovely trip to Port Louis, enjoy visiting the markets for a plethora of souvenirs and if you are keen on haggling this is where you can brush up your skills. The souvenirs are a mix of Africa, India and even oriental influences. We also visited Casela Nature Park and I took part in the zip lining and it was incredible you really could see how tropical the island was. Other options here including river swimming, cannoning, quad bike or do a safari in Casela also. My absolute highlight though was the evening I had a sunset catamaran cruise, after seeing the beautiful sunset I was blown away by the amazing stars, truly breathtaking. Other activities you could do… Diving, snorkelling, kite surfing, hiking, horse riding, glass bottom boat, Segway, kayaking, dolphin/whale trips and much more. Mauritius truly is a destination for all and has had a popularity increase in the last few years as it ticks all the boxes for a luxury holiday for families, couples, wedding/honeymooners as it really does offer everything you could possibly need for a dream break. Mauritius is perfect to do as a standalone destination or if you want to do more you can easily have a few nights in Dubai or add South Africa to the start or end as it is just a 4 hour flight from Mauritius.
29 April 2015
You don’t want to stop travelling overseas just because you now have children and what’s more, you still want quality accommodation, great facilities and a little time for yourselves to relax. Great kids’ entertainment and occasional supervision for your children can be important. Plus top tips on how to avoid the having a stressful journey with the kids. 1. Pace yourself. Go with the flow and don’t pack in too much. Build in rest days and be realistic about what you might see and do. 2. Travel is great for broadening the mind, even if you’re a five year old. Start getting your little ones prepared for their holiday by treating it like a project. Read a guide book to them or watch a DVD or perhaps even try some of the local traditional dishes you may expect at your destination. Encourage them to keep a holiday journal, collect photos, ticket stubs and draw pictures of what they have seen and record new words they may have learned along the way. 3. Research and prepare a “things to do and places to go if the weather isn’t great” list. This is particularly good if travelling out of season in the February or October half terms. 4. If possible check in online as knowing you are sat together will give you piece of mind and you can often turn up a little later to airport, leaving less time to entertain your child before boarding. 5. Choose a hotel that caters for children. Kids clubs can give parents a welcome break but make sure you check what ages they take, what hours they operate and that they are running at the time of year you are visiting (many only run for the high season). 6. Taking a buggy or pram, even if your child is now walking, can be handy as they can double up as places to rest from the heat or if up a little later than usual to rest in a restaurant, for example. 7. Check the hand luggage restrictions before travelling, including the latest rules on carrying liquids, gels and creams, which will more than likely include milk and nappy cream for example. Chances are you will be able to carry them but they may have to be stored in a specific way and not carried over a certain quantity, as the rules change so often it’s always worth checking close to travel. 8. Requesting a ground floor room if available is often a good idea and checking the hot water temperature is another top tip to ensure it’s not too hot for little hands. 9. When flying it’s helpful to have something such as a boiled sweet to suck on to drink during take-off and landing. Make sure you have plenty of ways to entertain your little one such as crayons, books and their favourite toy.
09 December 2014
If somebody came along and gave you 30 hours of spare time, what would you do with it? Spend more time with the kids? Make a dent in that redecorating job you’ve been putting off for weeks? A bit of ‘you’ time in the garden, with a good book and a glass of wine? Some research? Ok, maybe not the last one – but recent findings from Club Med suggest that the average UK holidaymaker is spending a staggering 30 hours researching their holiday. From reading reviews to sorting out passports, it adds up to a lot of time. And it’s time you could spend elsewhere just by giving me a call. I’ll ask you about your likes and dislikes when it comes to travel – and that’s your bit done. I’ll construct your perfect holiday, packed with all the things you love and none of the things you hate. You’ll wonder how you ever booked travel before us. Holidays without the hassle, and 30 more hours to enjoy? If you think I can be of any help, then please feel free to give me a call.
25 September 2014
In August 2014 we took a family holiday to Mayrhofen in Austria. There was myself, my husband, our 8 year old and my mother who is 64. What a great place for all ages. Mayrhofen is situated in the Tyrol region between Innsbruck and Salzburg. A small town with plenty of options to eat out, restaurants, cafes and bakeries are in abundance. There is one cable car and one gondola in the town that serve the Penken and Ahorn mountains. If you buy a Zillercard this allows you one return trip per day on one of the 6 cablecars/gondolas in the region as well as free rail and bus travel, and discounts of other attractions. We stayed at the fabulous Hotel Neuhuas, at the end of the town. It had a great location being just minutes’ walk from the train and bus station, whilst also being close to all the town facilities. The hotel offers a fantastic choice of traditional food and there is also a resident guide for a choice of walks. The hotel has both an indoor and outdoor pool as well as a spa. The town itself has an outdoor pool, a bowling alley, mini golf and plenty of cafes and restaurants. Being a land locked country Austria offers you the option of visiting neighbouring countries with ease. Whilst there we did a coach trip over the boarder to Germany to visit King Ludwigs castle Schloss Neuschwanstein, this castle was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s princess castle and you can see why. We also did an escorted walk over to Italy, a fascinating walk with history of smugglers routes and world war involvement. For activities for all there was so much to choose from, we did rock climbing, hired mountain bikes, white water rafting, tobogganing, paragliding and plenty of walks. For when the weather wasn’t great we did bowling and went to a fantastic indoor pool/spa complex in Fugen, we took advantage of the free rail travel with the Zillercard to get there. The resort also has a great kids club where children from all nationalities can join in some fantastic adventures. My son took part in the Tyrolean day where they built dams and campfires and cooked sausages. He also did the mini golf competition day. Also on offer were white water rafting, cannoning, horse riding and wet day activities. A very reasonably priced way to keep kids entertained and meet others. I would recommend a trip to Austria and in particular to Mayrhofen to all, there is plenty for everyone to do whether you are looking for an active or relaxing break and in good and bad weather. It breaks away from the traditional sun and beach holidays offering a back to nature type feel to a holiday.
11 June 2014
I have just returned from a fantastic, fun-packed weekend in New York and want to share with you my experience. Flying on a Thursday we arrived in the city mid-afternoon. After checking into our hotel, Le Parker Meridien, we ventured out to have a walk around. Walking up past the edge of Central Park we found ourselves at the top of 5th Avenue – a shopper’s paradise, with every designer shop going. A quick picture taken outside Tiffany’s then a lot of window shopping. We headed down towards Grand Central Station, an amazing building. Spend time looking at the fantastic architecture, have a drink at the bar and watch the world go by. There is also a Grand Central Market Place full of fresh, local ingredients, lovely to walk round. We then headed towards Time Square. This iconic square is bustling with people, as it went dark the lights shine bright and there’s a great atmosphere. For dinner that evening we headed to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a traditional American diner with a twist. All the waiters are Broadway wannabes, they work here to pay for acting and singing lessons so throughout your stay you are treated to watch of them performing a song. Songs from shows, classic songs and more modern ones – they were really good and delivered good service also. Then it was off to bed after a long day! Friday saw us head downtown to the docks to experience a helicopter tour of the city. This 15 minute flight takes you over the Statue of Liberty then up the Hudson River past all of the city. I can’t pretend I was happy about it, every part of my body was shaking as we watched the safety video but five minutes into the flight I relaxed – a little at least. We then took a walk to the Financial District where we had booked tickets to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Recently opened this museum is a very respectful tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11th 2001. We spent a good three hours here taking everything in. We enjoyed a walk through Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park and back through Times Square to our hotel to change for the evening. There are a number of very good rooftop bars in New York which give amazing views of the city both in daylight and darkness. We tried Haven at the Sanctuary Hotel, Upstairs at the Kimberley Hotel and The Viceroy. All offer cocktails and food. On Saturday morning we went to Top of the Rock, the observation deck above the Rockefeller Centre. Fantastic views of the city, get a full view of Central Park and the best view of the Empire State Building. We then walked up to Central Park and took in all the activities taking place here – runners, cyclists, yoga, games – it’s really bustling. We had a table booked at the newly re-opened and renovated Tavern on the Green. A lovely setting in the park and a great place to enjoy a leisurely brunch. The afternoon was spent enjoying the cities shops! As we woke on Sunday the sun was shining and we headed over to the Hudson River to take a speedboat trip along it to get a fantastic, up close view of the Statue of Liberty. A great way to save time and still get to see this iconic statue. On returning we hired a couple of mountain bikes and followed the great bike path over the Brooklyn Bridge to see the city from over the water. Before retuning back to the hotel, checking out and sadly making our way back to the airport. New York really is a city that offers something for everyone, so much to do and see that in three nights you just get a glimpse. It also allows you to pack quite a bit in if you go prepared and have an idea of what and when you want to do things. So if you would like more information or fancy combining New York with another destination please get in touch.
13 January 2014
We spent Christmas 2013 in Lapland visiting Santa, a magical experience for the whole family. Flying out on 21st December early from Manchester airport we arrived in Finland 3 ½ hours later, the descent to the airport was beautiful with all the snow covered trees. The airport is only small so the whole process from disembarking the aircraft to collecting the luggage was only about 30 minutes. Located right on the edge of the Arctic Circle we were assured a white Christmas. Once the luggage was collected we were directed to our coach transfer where we met our very own elf, Whisper. The transfer to the hotel was only 20 minutes and in that time Whisper talked us through what would happen when we arrived from the welcome meeting to collecting all our winter gear. Whisper was fab at being an elf and by the end of the coach journey even I was believing! The welcome meeting covered some of the optional excursions we could book then the process of getting the winter gear was really easy and quick – then across the road to the hotel. We were staying at the Hotel Snowflake on full board. Bedrooms were on the small side but very adequate with a fridge and TV. We were on full board basis, food was buffet style and although not an extensive choice all the food was very nice. The hotel also has a viewing room for the Northern Lights should you be lucky enough to have them at the time of visit, unfortunately we weren’t. The following day was an early start for a day at Santa’s Resort. A coach takes you to the resort where there is all sorts to keep you busy, try out a snowmobile, get pulled along by husky dogs or a reindeer, enjoy some tobogganing and of course the all-important private meeting with Santa himself. Each family is taken out to the woods to a log cabin where you go in and meet the big man, all done very lovely with a roaring log fire. Lunch was included to warm you up along with a retreat log where you could warm up and the kids draw with the elves. On Christmas Eve we booked to go on the Elf Adventure, a half day spent on a frozen lake where you can experience ice fishing, tobogganing, football, and mini skidoo and snow shoes. Again the elves are all on hand to make the day enjoyable. All the kids are asked to go into the woods to choose a Christmas tree and decorate it and there was a cabin for hotdogs and warm drinks. The afternoon was spent on the nearby toboggan run, the hotel had toboggans in reception for a two euro deposit you could enjoy whenever you liked. There was also skiing available should you wish to do it. The hotel was on the edge of the resort, a 10 minute walk to the nearby supermarket. On Christmas Day we woke up to it snowing, after a leisurely morning we went out for more tobogganing. After lunch we enjoyed a couple of hours at the Angry Birds activity centre which was great fun. Then it was home and time to get ready for the gala dinner, followed by a disco enjoyed by all. Then on Boxing Day we came back home, a perfect, and magical way to spend Christmas. A one off but well worth it.
13 August 2013
On the 27th July myself, my husband and seven year old son flew out to the Algarve to meet up with my brother and his family who had flown over from Edinburgh. We collected a car each from the airport and headed off to our villa for the week. We stayed in the Villa Formasa in Almancil. It was a three bedroom private villa with a secluded private pool, only a 15 minute drive from the airport. Next to the Formosa was the Villa Pinhal, another three bedroom villa owned by the same man, Victor who also lived next door. However, all the properties were well spread out so we didn’t feel overlooked. Each property had a lovely big garden Victor keeps goats and chickens which the kids loved. If you are a large group you could hire both villas. They each had all the facilities you need, three bathrooms, dvd player, wifi, dishwasher and washing machine as well as an outdoor BBQ with a great eating area. Almancil, was only five minutes away where there are two supermarkets. The villa was perfect for relaxing around the pool but we did venture out a few times. Vilamoura was only a 10 minute drive and with a beautiful marina to walk around it was perfect for finding somewhere nice to eat – prices were very reasonable. The much larger town of Albufeira is a bit further along the coast. It has a lovely long beach, old town as well as a pretty marina. Overall he beaches along the Algarve are lovely, and the nearest beach was only five minutes from the villa. We also spent the day at Aquashow Water Park. It’s great as it had a small theme parked area with rides, a sea lion show, the waterpark and other animals for holding and picture taking around the park. As you can imagine this day was the highlight of the week for the kids. I would really recommend The Algarve for families. It’s a great area to explore and easy to hire a car and drive around. Staying in a villa is a fantastic alternative and feeding everyone was fine if you like BBQs and salads!! We would definitely go back and stay in this villa.
05 February 2013
We spent a week at the Hotel Schweizerhof in St. Anton in January 2013. This hotel really does deliver excellent customer service. On arrival we were welcomed with a hearty lunch then taken to the local ski equipment shop to sort out skis and boots. Lift passes are ready waiting to be collected at reception. That evening we were welcomed by all the heads of areas from kitchen to childcare, ski hosting to housekeeping. It’s a lovely touch to have a face for all areas. We chose this hotel for the childcare facilities which were second to none. Our six year old was taken to ski school each morning, collected, enjoyed fun events like sledging and ‘mocktail’ making before having a great tea. Each night there was a pyjama club where they could watch a film then settle down for the evening until 11pm. He really did love this and kept sending us away! The food at this hotel was fantastic. The usual breakfast buffet was provided. Each afternoon, a delicious homemade soup was provided along with breads, cheese and meats, followed by homemade cakes and biscuits. Then each evening a lovely three course meal was provided with three choices for each course and wine provided with your meal. Every meal we had was fantastic and head chef Casper and his team should feel very proud. The hotel has a sauna, steam room and spa treatments which are well worth taking advantage of. We spent three days out on the hosting days, escorted ski trips with one of the ski hosts on three levels; leisurely, intermediate and advanced. This was a great way to get to know the area and runs without having to spend ages looking at piste maps. We also enjoyed three great restaurants for lunch on these days based on their recommendations. The hotel is situated outside of the resort of St Anton but they provide transfers between 0830-1000 and 1530-1700. The resort itself has a car free main street with plenty of choices of shops, bars and restaurants. It’s lovely to walk round after a day’s skiing or on a lazy day. There is also a new pool and spa with indoors and outside swimming. There are three gondolas and one chairlift available from the centre so you have a number of choices to start your day. My son enjoyed the ski-school at the bottom of the Nassrien gondola. The best area we found to ski was over Rendl side where it sees more sun and always seems to be quiet. There is a great jump park here. The home run through is a red but quite an easy red. Another good ski day out is to ski over to St Christoph, which offers skiing higher up so conditions are generally better. I would highly recommend you have lunch at the Hospiz hotel with its open fire and fantastic service it’s a great place to relax and recharge for an afternoon of skiing. Overall our experience on this holiday was fantastic and we can’t wait to experience it all again next year!
07 November 2012
I visited Northumberland with my family for the first time in October half term. What a beautiful part of the country. We stayed in the lovely fishing village of Seahouses, in a converted grain barn cottage. Seahouses is a large village with a great little centre, offering a good range of shops to keep you stocked up, as well as a few restaurants. As you would expect fish and chips features highly and I would recommend Lewis’s fish bar. From Seahouses you are able to take boat trips to the Farne Islands (although it’s a bit choppy in October). From Seahouses you can see the magnificent Bamburgh Castle in the distance. You can walk the three miles along the beautiful beach to visit the hotel, or take a trip by car. The castle is still inhabited by the Armstrong family. This is a lovely castle with a great activity pack for kids and very helpful staff. It’s also a beautiful location for a wedding. Further north you can visit Holy Island, but make sure you check out the tides as you access this by a tidal causeway. We headed onwards to Berwick on Tweed for a walk around this historic walled town and you can grab a map for more information on the various points of interest. A trip to this area wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Alnwick castle, famous for its use in some parts of the Harry Potter films. Unfortunately the castle was closed but the gardens remain open all year and are well worth the visit. Activities are available throughout the year and as we were there around Halloween there was pumpkin carving, witches shows, arts and crafts. We particularly enjoyed the Poison Garden tour. Also highly recommended is Treehouses restaurant – amazing but make sure you pre-book. Other places we visited included Rothbury, a small market town with plenty of history and Newbiggin on Sea, a popular seaside town. Overall our experience was fantastic. All the locals we met were extremely friendly and welcoming – especially when it came to trick or treating!! Can’t wait to visit again!
07 September 2012
I have been to Edinburgh many times and it is my favourite city in the UK. It’s a vibrant city with so much to do and so much history. The fact that the city is so close to the nearby countryside means there is plenty for people to do in the great outdoors as well! Right in the heart of the city, just a mile from Edinburgh Castle, is Arthurs Seat where you can enjoy a fantastic walk with magnificent views. Edinburgh Castle is also a must and, if you visit in August, you can see the world famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo featuring over 1000 musicians and performers – a sight not to be missed! For those who prefer a more relaxing stay, you can take a stroll through Grassmarket and along Victoria Street where you can shop in unique individual shops and there are plenty of bars and restaurants. Princess Street and Queen Street offer many big name brands and there are plenty of lovely cafes for a quick bite to eat. The open roof bus tour is a great way to see all the historic sights. It’s also a great place to take note of any “must see locations” and plan the rest of your trip. Everywhere in Edinburgh is easily accessible by foot, which makes it ideal if you want to take in plenty of the local culture! Edinburgh Zoo, now infamous for the only pair of Pandas in captivity in the UK, is a great Zoo and is on the main bus route from the city to the airport. On a rainy day you can also take advantage of some of the free museums, in particular the Museum of Scotland, which is great for adults and children alike. If you are travelling to Edinburgh by car then I would recommend venturing out of the city. You can visit Eica; the world’s largest indoor climbing arena, or head out to the beautiful coastline which Scotland is famous for. We enjoyed a lovely day in Gullane, where there is a beautiful beach for lovely walks and I would highly recommend the Old Clubhouse for lunch. You can also stop off in Portobello for a walk along the mile-long promenade. I would highly recommend a trip to Edinburgh, especially during August for the Tattoo and the world renowned Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world. You can enjoy street acts, arts, comedy, dance, children’s shows, music and much more. Edinburgh is a perfect location for couples and families alike to enjoy shopping, cultural attractions and amazing food and drink, all with a fantastic and friendly atmosphere.
12 June 2012
On the 21st May 2012 my husband, 5 year old son and I flew to Florida for a 2 centre holiday. This was the 3rd time I have been, the last time in 1999 so I was keen to show it off to my family. It took me sometime to persuade my husband to go as he knew it would be such a jam packed holiday but I managed to persuade him by doing a 2 centre with 10 nights in Orlando doing all the parks then 7 nights in St Petes Beach for some relaxing. In Orlando we chose the Doubletree by Hilton at Sea World hotel. A 4 star hotel which offered free transport to all the parks. We decided not to hire a car as each park charges $14 per day for parking. The hotel was lovely with 3 swimming pools, 2 restaurants and a takeaway deli for breakfasts and pizzas – handy when you’ve had a long day in the parks. The room was great with air conditioning, fridge and microwave. All staff were extremely helpful and as guests you got special offers at Sea World including fast pass bands which were fantastic. The only negative on hindsight is that although the hotel is on the main bus route it is quite isolated and the free transport to the parks was not very regular and also went to a number of other hotels increasing the journey time. I think I would hire a car next time. We visited all the main parks, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Universal, Islands of Adventure, Sea World, Busch Gardens and Aquatica – busy busy! Disney is great for younger children and in particular girls with all the princesses – my son didn’t even want to meet Minnie!! Our favourite, however was Universal and Islands of Adventure. These have some of the best rides including Spiderman 3D, The Simpsons and Men in Black – all of which our 5 year old could go on. Islands of Adventure also have the new Harry Potter world and opening this summer Despicable Me. Disney offer a great way to skip queues by using Fast Pass, this gives you an option to come back at a specific time and use the quicker queue – however, you can only have one fast pass ticket at a time. Universal, unfortunately, only allow you to do this by buying a special pass for all the rides which started at $50 each on top of your park pass. We were also able to enjoy the bigger rides by taking advantage of child swap so that we didn’t have to queue up twice – sometimes this was really quick as you could use single person lane. After 10 days of being parked and queued out it was lovely to pick up a car and drive over to the gulf coast and check into the Tradewinds Grand Island Resort at St Petes Beach. Located right on the white sands this hotel offered us the relaxing week we were looking for. Double beach cabanas, free beach towels to use, kids club during day and evenings, dive-in movie nights – plenty going on if you wanted it. 4 restaurants and several bars as well as spectacular sunsets every night. We drove into St Petersberg one day, a lovely town with some nice shops and quite an upmarket feel to it. We also drove up to Clearwater through a number of other lovely resorts such as Treasure Island and Indian Rocks. Clearwater was a bit busier and I would say the beach was the best we saw. All in all it was a great combination and a holiday which would suit everyone. I would love to return again in a couple of years when my son is tall enough for all the big rides and would probably base myself at Universal Studios.
02 May 2012
This is the second time I have visited Harthill Hall and it was just as good as the first time. Situated between Bakewell and Matlock Bath and surrounded by beautiful countryside, it really does offer something for everyone. Accommodation can cater from two people in Henry’s Haunt up to 18 people in The Manor House, many have their own hot tubs, private gardens and BBQ area. They are all fully equipped with microwaves, dishwashers, en-suite bathrooms and much, much more. This time myself and all my family (14 of us) stayed in The Barn, with an amazing picture frame window with fantastic views it was just perfect. Kids were occupied with the games room that included Wii, table tennis and a pool table. All 6 bedrooms were en-suite and there were amazing bunk beds so all the kids could sleep in the same room. (Remarkably this actually resulted in little mayhem). Also available was an indoor swimming pool with one hours exclusive use per unit per day. There was also a sauna and you are able to book beauty treatments. An outdoor play area for the kids and some very friendly horses were also on hand. There are several lovely walks you can do direct from Harthill Hall. Further afield you can visit Chatsworth House and the lovely town of Bakewell. Enjoy a trip into Matlock Bath and take the cable car up to the Heights of Abraham and enjoy the cave tour. You can also enjoy Gulliver’s World theme park. I would thoroughly recommend to all.
13 June 2012
In August 2011 my husband, 5 year old and myself visited the Northwest Coast of Scotland along with other members of our extended family. This was an area that my husband’s family went most years during his childhood. Not much has changed in that time, the area is very remote and absolutely stunning. I was amazed by the spectacular scenery and beautiful beaches. We stayed for a week in a self-catering unit overlooking Loch Glencoul, you could just look at the views all day. The Loch is home to some friendly seals and you could walk down and see them popping up to say hello. We ventured out on most days and were extremely lucky with the weather. Because of all the little peninsulas you could have cold and windy weather on one side but travel over to the other side and the wind changed direction, we were able to sunbath on the beautiful, isolated beaches, the brave ventured into the sea with wetsuits on. We took a speedboat from Tarbet over to Handa Island, a fantastic nature reserve with magnificent cliffs rising vertically from the sea. There can be 100,000 birds on the island, unfortunately we were too late to see the puffins. It was a great place to walk round and take a picnic. We took a trip to Ullapool, the nearest town, for essentials. You can get a ferry from here over to the Isle of Lewis. We also experienced Smoo Caves in Durness, set into limestone caves, 200 feet long, 130 feet wide and 50 feet high. We had some lovely meals out, enjoying the local sea food, in particular at the Kylesku Hotel. This really is a beautiful part of the country and well worth the long road trip to get there. It is one of the few places left that is unspoilt by tourism and a true get away from it all holiday. On our return we stopped off in Edinburgh, my favourite city. August is such a good time to visit as you have all the atmosphere of the Tattoo and Fringe festival. There is something on for all the family to enjoy. We always make sure we take in a family show, we have done balloon shows, x factor type, magic and science shows – fantastic.
08 September 2011
I have been lucky enough to visit South Africa three times over the past 13 years. My first trip was in 1998 where I flew into Johannesburg for a five5 day safari of The Kruger National Park. This was an amazing trip where the scenery alone was enough to blow your mind, let alone when you finally get to the park and all the wonderful animals close up. I was very lucky and got to see all of the big five. I also went on a bush walk and walked amongst giraffe and zebra – amazing. Onwards from Jo’burg to Cape Town, a two hour flight away. I have visited Cape Town now, first on my own, then in 2007 and 2011 as I have a close friend who lives in this beautiful city. Cape Town has to be one of the most spectacularly situated cities in the world with the amazing Table Mountain forming an impressive backdrop – a trip up is a must! The cable car actually revolves as it ascends and descends so there is no need to scramble to try and get a position by the window. The views from the top are breath-taking and we walked right across the top from one side to the other which I would recommend if you have the time – if you are energetic you can choose to walk up (or down)! The Victoria & Alfred (V&A) waterfront area is a focal point for visitors. This area of the city’s docks has been regenerated into a vast area of shops, restaurants and hotels and is a great place to spend some time wandering around. There is often entertainment on at the open air amphitheatre. You also have amazing beaches such as Camps Bay which is overlooked by the Twelve Apostles mountain range, have a great atmosphere and also good for those who would like a bit of nightlife. During my first trip I also went deep sea fishing and caught a grey shark – this is the biggest adrenaline rush I have ever had – don’t worry she got thrown back! I also took a trip to Gansbaai for a must do great white shark trip – to watch these beautiful, graceful beings in their own environment is truly a one off. I was also able to see hump back whales from the coast at Hermanus on the way to Gansbaai. I hired a car whilst in Cape Town and spent a wonderful day exploring the Cape Peninsula driving down the west coast to the Cape of Good Hope and then up the east coast stopping at Boulders Beach to see the penguins. A few years ago a couple of penguins took up residence here and now there are many hundreds living on this beach and the whole area has become protected. A short drive from Cape Town is the Winelands. This is an area of such beauty that words are hard to describe it. It is home to many vineyards with their homesteads of Cape Dutch architecture surrounded by towering mountains. I stopped at the Spier wine estate before moving on to the picturesque town of Franschoek. Close to Cape Town (about a twenty minute drive) is also the lovely Bloemendal Wine Estate where you can enjoy the most amazing cheese platter accompanied with a selected wine. I also headed onto the Garden Route. Driving from Cape Town to Oudtshoorn and stopping overnight at the Queens Hotel which serves the most fabulous ostrich meat, a trip to an ostrich farm is great fun especially if the ostrich racing is one. We also did the stunning Cango Caves before heading to Knysna for a couple of nights. Knysna is a lovely coastal town. A little way beyond Knysna through the Tsitsikamma Forest is the Bloukrans Bridge from where the world’s highest bungee jumps take place. It is well worth a quick detour to watch some of them take what must surely be a massive adrenalin rush for some, but not on my list to do! Although I have mentioned so many things, there are so many other things that I have seen and experienced in this beautiful country that I have not included, it really is spectacular. For me South Africa ticks all the boxes, it truly is a wonderful country that offers everything and more so – stunning scenery, amazing wildlife, great value for money, wonderful food and wine and above all happy smiley people!
14 June 2012
I visited Australia for the second time in 3 year for New Year 2011. I travelled with my husband and 4 year old son. Despite a 5 hour layover in Hong Kong the flights both ways were relatively pain free. There’s plenty on the entertainment channels to keep everyone happy and we were lucky that my son is quite happy to sleep when told and given an eye mask & music to listen to! We were based at my sister-in-laws on the outskirts of Brisbane. A lovely city, not too big, easy to explore and plenty of activities. We were fortunate to leave just before the floods arrived causing so much damage. You can travel into the city on the CityCat ferries which run regalary and a great way to see the city. A must is to experience Southbank with loads to do including museums, restaurants, art galleries, shopping, outdoor movie screening and of course the famous beach with city views – now all restored after the floods. A car is a must as there is so many places to visit and all are highly recommended. To the north of the city visit the coastal town of Redcliffe, with 22 kilometres of soft sandy beaches, spectacular views across Moreton Bay and mouth-watering seafood restaurants, was my favourite place to choll out. There is a fantastic water lagoon and play park to spend a day relaxing by the sea but with a pool atmosphere – take advantage of the free BBQs all around. From Redcliffe you can take a boat trip over to the unique wilderness of Moreton Island where you can see dolphins, go snorkelling and even camp out. A trip to Australia Zoo, home of the late Steve Irwin is a fantastic day out. Watch the crocodile show, feed to kangaroos, cuddle a koala and much more. You get to see Steve Irwin’s legacy live on through his wife and children there. Close to Australia Zoo are the Glass House Mountains, a lovely drive takes you to the towns of Montville & Maleny , these were two charming, historic towns, very arty and lots of unique shops and gallaries, a jot to explore. About an hour further north is the beach town of Noosa, one of the most popular places in Australia with its beautiful beaches, lush green hinterland, stunning coastal national park, pristine river, cosmopolitan lifestyle and lively calendar of events it’s a great place to spend a couple of days. We didn’t do this the first time round and wished we had. To the south of Brisbane you can visit the Gold Coast, famous for its surf beaches this is a much more commercialized and lively area. We visited Sea World and spent some time on the beaches. During our first trip will also flew up to Cairns for a long weekend. Cairns is a much smaller city with everything close to hand. A lovely seafront to walk along with lots of activities taking place and some lovely seafront restaurants to enjoy a mojito or two. We also spent 2 nights in Port Douglas – fantastic. We took a catamaran trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and chose one that was suitable for our son who was nearly 2. Would highly recommend a walk round the farmers market on a Sunday. We did so much over our 5 weeks there, on 2 visits I am sure I have missed other fantastic places – can’t wait to go back soon!!
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