Based in Scarborough

Kay Halton

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It's Nice To Meet You

If you are reading this, the chances are you are contemplating booking your perfect holiday or short break very soon. So let me tell you a little about myself...

My name is Kay and I live on the beautiful North Yorkshire east coast in sunny Scarborough.

Being brought up in my parents’ family-run hotel, I learnt at an early age the importance of customer service. This continued throughout my career in hospitality. I have worked in 5* hotels in London and Harrogate, I was an Event Manager in Sheffield and also a Business Travel Consultant with a large manufacturing company. Here, I had to source the best and most cost-effective way of travelling from A to B, booking worldwide flights, negotiating hotel rates, trains, ferries, car hire - creating itineraries to ensure busy schedules were adhered to.

I have been on interesting holidays - driven across the volcanic landscape of Fuerteventura and micro climate Gran Canaria, ridden through Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain on a motorbike, dog-walked through stunning Southern Ireland, enjoyed family holidays in Egypt, Kos, Lanzarote, Croatia, Crete, Corfu, Cyprus, Mexico, Dubai and shared the ocean with great whites in stunning South Africa!
I have trapezed with Club Med in Greece, skydived in Florida, cruised the Med, driven along the PCH in California, seen the Northern Lights in Norway, lazed on beautiful Barbados beaches, enjoyed the culture of Bangkok, Koh Samui and Phuket and swum with dolphins in Walt Disneyworld, Orlando - one of my specialist areas of the world!

So why book with me? Quite simply, ‘it’s personal'. I care about ensuring your holiday is perfect from start to finish - there is no charge for my expertise and I'm available at a time to suit you including evenings and weekends. Rather than selling you a standard tour operator package, I can quickly search through hundreds of different flight, accommodation and transfer alternatives to find a bespoke holiday that suits your needs exactly. I also offer you 100% financial protection through the Travel Counsellors Financial Trust - guaranteed peace of mind.

Travel Counsellors is one of the largest independent travel agencies in the UK. We are the only UK travel company to have been awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise - three times now!

So, if you are interested in a luxury Maldivian escape, a short fun European city break, a skiing adventure, meeting Mickey and Minnie in Disneyworld or taking a cruise or an African safari, contacting me will only cost you the same as a local call - alternatively just text, tweet, instant chat, Facebook or email me!

I look forward to speaking with you!

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4/7/2021

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4/1/2021

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12/5/2020

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10/12/2020

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10/12/2020

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Top 5 Long Haul City Breaks

10/12/2020

Check out our best selling long haul city breaks!

Pumba Private Game Reserve

12/4/2019

This is a quick walk through of the main decking area of the 5* Pumba Private Game Reserve. I had an AMAZING stay there in October 2019.

My Blog

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.

Corfu Escape

05 November 2021

October is perhaps not the best time to visit Greece as the weather can be unpredictable…but numbers are lower so the island is not quite so busy - however this was a work/leisure trip and so dates were already planned. Flying from Manchester I was glad we had sorted all our paperwork. Some passengers were being turned away from airport check in due to not having completed their Greek PLF forms. I had everything printed (TIP) don’t rely on Tech! the NHS App had been going down too.. so again people had to get a Covid Test before being allowed to board. I always advise my customers to print documents out. It was a good flight and we landed in the evening at Corfu Airport. The hotel we were staying for the first 3 nights was the Labranda Sandy Beach in Agios Georgios. Just 20 miles south of the airport (about 45 minutes), it is a huge 4* family all-inclusive resort. We were welcomed with drinks and a sandwich (it was 11pm) and shown to our room. The resort has many family rooms and are currently undergoing room refurbishment so the new 2-bedroom family suites are beautifully decorated with plenty of space. There is one main buffet restaurant which adheres to safety protocols very well (gloves and masks) plus an Italian and a Greek which need reservations. The pools are large with plenty of sun loungers and you can walk straight out to the beach where there is an abundance of water sports on offer and a couple of beach bars along the coast. On site they have their own mini waterpark with 4 slides which is a massive hit with children! The Wellness Spa is an added bonus to the hotel for the adults too. We then moved over to the sister property the Kairaba Sandy Villas for 2 nights. This is a 5* adult only, all-suite, all-inclusive offering. A beautiful layout offers pool view rooms, swim up suites and some with private pools. The main restaurant is beautiful, very Versace in style and the service was not rushed, effortless and discerning. It was buffet style but superb with show cooking on offer. You can also dine in the Labranda speciality restaurants too as part of your package. There is a lobby bar and pool bar – the pool is a great size and has cabana style beds around one side. There is a car hire area in the Labranda so getting wheels for our stay was an easy process. Unfortunately, after 3 gloriously sunny days with temperatures in the twenties, the weather took a turn for the worse and the rain greeted us, so away we went in the car for the short 45 minute drive up to Corfu Town. We had a lovely wander around the Fortress area and had a coffee in one of the quaint cafes, after a look around the narrow streets with bustling shops selling local goods. We took a different road back and it was incredible to find some beautiful houses up in the hills! The roads are not like the UK.. narrow, crumbling, no road markings.. so we did have to be careful especially with so much rain. I used my google maps for directions which was a godsend! We also visited a beautiful little resort called Liapades with the most stunning small coved beach - well worth a drive out. Our final stay saw us move to Messonghi to the fabulous, brand new 5* Olivar Suites. Set on 200m of sandy beach, the sprawling low rise resort was once an 18th century olive mill and now offers an all- suite experience, oozing with character. It is not adult only, but I would say more adult focused. The majority of the suites have their own small pool and offer compete privacy. We stayed in an Ionian Suite which faced the sea on the ground floor level with private pool. Fabulous modern interior with a separate lounge (sliding doors) and bathroom with free standing tub. Your own cabana awaits you on the beach if you book into one of these rooms. Literally right outside the hotel are buzzing local tavernas and bars – a particularly special restaurant on the beach I highly recommend ‘Bacchus’ which has been owned and run by the same family for years. Having said that, the hotel’s own restaurant ‘Flya’ serves a very high-end evening meal and definitely an experience to try. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Corfu – it was a shame the weather wasn’t on our side, but we found plenty of places to visit. Parking was free, there was wi-fi everywhere and the Greeks are so friendly. They have really had it tough during Covid and are relying on us to bring back their tourist trade so that they can continue to prosper in the future. Contact me to book your Greek getaway today!

Disney Magic Departure

05 November 2021

During the summer of 2021, with many ships still restricted as to where they could sail, numerous cruise lines offered 3 & 4 night taster sailings around the British Isles to the UK market. Having never sailed with Disney Cruise Line before, it is one I really wanted to research and in particular the adult only side of the ship. If you are sailing out of Newcastle and want to ensure early arrival, I highly recommend staying in Whitley Bay which is only half an hour from the port and having a pre-cruise meal and drink in the fabulous Spanish City! Following our strict pre-testing prior to boarding Disney Magic, we were welcomed aboard the beautiful Art Deco styled ship by a song and dance from Mickey and Minnie. Designed with families in mind, our Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony was very spacious for 3 adults but can sleep up to 5 people. It had a large queen bed, single sleeper sofa and wall or upper berth pull down bed too. This area could be separated by a curtain. A decent size balcony with table and 2 small chairs, i-pod docking station, ample wardrobe space, safe, hairdryer, premium towels and bathroom products. There was actually a small bath with shower over which is unusual in cruise staterooms, along with separate WC. Plug sockets are US but there are USB ports. We disembarked from Newcastle on time and the weather was incredible! The dining experience on board is amazing – the 3 main restaurants; Lumiere’s, Rapunzel and Animator’s Palate, are all themed and the food is fabulous. Your waiter is assigned to you from the off so gets to know your personal preferences whichever restaurant you are allocated to. We chose to dine a bit later, as most families would have eaten and be at a show by then, making the restaurants a little quieter. The ‘Disney Dreams’ main theatre show is very professional and Broadway standard. No reservation required and they repeat this 3 times a day. Character meets can be pre-booked, however the Mickey ‘team’ plus Marvel and Toy Story characters can be seen by chance around the ship. So, for the adult only areas… there is a separate pool with hot tubs, bar and coffee lounge on Deck 9 to enjoy the sunshine as well as areas on Deck 3 for drinks tastings and evening entertainment. There is also the spa, gym and adult only restaurant ‘Palo’. Via the DCL app, we pre-booked a mixology class, wine tasting and took part in the evening quiz show in the adult only nightclub. The app is a great way to find out what’s going on each day and restaurant / bar opening times, character meets and most importantly (TIP) the ‘drink of the day’ which is amazing value! Food and soft drinks are included on the cruise but you do have to pay for alcohol. You can also sit on the pool deck watching some iconic Disney films on the big screen! They show movies here after dinner too, so you can snuggle up under a blanket with a hot chocolate for a ‘Movies under the Stars’ evening! The ‘water park’ is fabulous and I can imagine how wonderful for children when you are sailing in the Caribbean. There are 2 slides – a relaxing kid-friendly waterslide and a thrilling body slide that extends over the side of the ship! Plus, a pool with a ‘beach’ area with geysers spraying jets of water and a splash zone for the younger ones. As with most ships, it operates a cashless system and you can charge drinks or gifts to your stateroom card. The prices are in dollars just to be aware. Normal sailings on Disney’s 4 ships have now resumed in the Bahamas, Mexico and the Caribbean and you can visit Disney’s own Castaway Cay with itineraries on sale now up to 2023! Why not twin a stay in Orlando with a Disney cruise? Contact me to arrange your next magical family Disney experience!

Our Jersey Jaunt!

05 November 2021

I always wondered what the Channel Islands would be like…will it feel like I’m abroad or still in the UK? So, we set out during the midst of Covid in July 2021 to find out! At the time of travel, we were double vaccinated so just needed to complete the entry PLF into Jersey, have a Covid test upon arrival and nothing on return as Jersey is part of the UK Common Travel Area. The flight from Leeds was about an hour and the check in was very quiet. Once we arrived, it took around 40 minutes for us to get our bags and clear security after we had been given our free PCR test in very organised surroundings. We were advised by text around 12 hours later that we were negative and could travel around Jersey freely. The weather was amazing when we arrived, in the late 20’s and yes, I did feel like we were properly overseas!! The island is just 9 x 5 miles, has 12 parishes with 13 police forces. Average speed limit is 20mph - even though I have never seen so many supercars in one place! I found St Helier to be a bustling continental town, filled with cafes with outdoor seating, designer shops, amazing restaurants and narrow streets. We were staying just outside the capital where we found some super beach food shacks and local bars. In our hire car, we travelled up the west coast of Jersey along the 5-mile road and found the most fabulous beaches. At low tide, the water is so far out you can see an almost lunar landscape and when it’s high tide (sometimes 11m!) everything is covered completely! A visit to the Military Museum in St Ouen was quite enlightening learning more about the history of the German occupation, castles and forts. We took a short drive to the stunning Corbiere lighthouse where we walked across the causeway paying attention to the notice regarding tide times! I also wanted to have a quick look at my 2 ‘go to’ hotels in Jersey, the Golden Sands and L'Horizon Beach Hotel & Spa at Brelade’s Bay where we have direct contract prices. It’s a gorgeous beach resort, with a flat promenade, buzzing with bars and restaurants - felt almost normal! We always like an adventure, so on our final day, I had booked an exciting seafari trip around the north coast on a rib. Riding the waves, we stopped at various bays and caves, enjoying a running commentary from our knowledgeable guide about the history and geography of the area. This was followed by ice cream at the Jersey Lido and our final night dinner at The Quayside in St Helier. It’s easy to navigate Jersey by car and absolutely recommended. You’ll find stunning beaches, bays and coves around every corner - although be careful of the very narrow winding roads in the north! You can get around the island and see plenty in a couple of days. From beach shacks to Michelin starred restaurants, touristy resorts to quaint villages…. there’s definitely something here for everyone!

Sensational Scarlet Lady - Virgin Voyages

28 April 2020

It is safe to say that Virgin Voyages very first ship, Scarlet Lady lived up to the anticipated hype! I was invited to the UK launch in Liverpool to view this amazing and innovative adult only cruise ship.. the first in Sir Richard Branson’s fleet, with Valiant Lady to launch soon. Scarlet Lady will sail out of Miami to the Caribbean. She will have itineraries starting from 4 nights, so a great way to twin with a Miami or Fort Lauderdale city break. From 2021, Valiant Lady will offer Mediterranean sailings – more accessible to the UK market. Adult only, gratuities included with 20+ eateries, an amazing spa and gym, guest DJ’s and a cool nightclub. This ship will appeal to the younger party going crowd - she has a cool, funky vibe with rockstar service and if you can afford it.... Rockstar Suites! I loved the atmosphere on board. Easy going, with some fabulous restaurants where you can have waiter service fine dine or just grab and go with vegetarian and vegan options. Sunrise yoga, a bout in the boxing ring or take your morning jog around the upper deck track then chill out in Richard’s Rooftop bar. I stayed in a Sea Terrace Cabin. The Cabins are functional, if a little basic. As you walk in you will see the room seems to be missing something important – a bed! In typical Virgin innovative fashion, they have designed the cabins to be convertible. In the daytime, there is a large sofa area. Magically, when you return to your cabin at night you find it transformed into a bed, which was very comfortable and a good size for a cruise ship. The décor felt a bit ‘Ikea’ in the colour scheme and furniture and there is an open wardrobe with floor-to ceiling cube shelves too. Not a great deal of storage, but plenty for the 4 and 5 night itineraries – actually, as there is no real dress code – no posh frocks or tuxedos needed to be hung up! The higher grade Rock Star suites were huge, some with music rooms and marbled bathrooms. Some of the balconies were massive - the largest I've seen at sea and also come with a private hot tub. Where Virgin Voyages have really excelled at is the public rooms and restaurants on Scarlet Lady. All the food I tried was excellent and worthy of a six-star ship, with inventive menus too. The multitude of bars were all more the type of thing you would see in a smart city location than the sprawling cruise ship lounges you usually see. I loved the unusual entertainment, drag queens, and pop-up “happenings” around the ship. Interestingly, the Crew (First Mates) have all been hand-picked, so were all individual and quirky in their own way – think tattoos, hair colouring and piercings – great personalities and they were all genuinely friendly – from over 60 nationalities. In fact there is also the first-ever tattoo studio at sea which offers a selection of exclusive tattoo designs created specifically for Virgin Voyages.. as well as piercings and permanent makeup. The Virgin philosophy of bringing your personality on board was very much in evidence! The Manor Nightclub with its fabulous mirrored entrance, is a two-story, three bar space which was named after Richard’s first recording studio. The night club has fun laser and special effects lights. Virgin aspire to have the best nightclub at sea and from what I saw they are doing a great job! They have a number of very well-known DJs that will be doing sets on board on certain voyages such as Mark Ronsen and Diplo. There is a main pool plus a smaller jacuzzi pool and a super spa in the theme of an underwater cave, with hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, plunge pools, quartz beds and spa treatments. This ship is not for everyone and I'm sure Virgin Voyages make no apologies about that. It will be a divisive product aimed at a new-to-cruise market that always thought cruise was boring and stuffy. Virgin have clearly listened to what people dislike about cruising and tried to do things differently. No buffets or formal dining, a more relaxed less mass-market atmosphere without the stuffiness of the ultra high-end ships. Perfect for young at heart couples, singles and friends who enjoy the south beach lifestyle with fitness and healthy food options thrown in, but who also enjoy good food and a party lifestyle in the evening. I really enjoyed my time on board and will definitely consider a Virgin Voyages cruise in the future after this little taster - please get in touch if you feel this style of cruising will float your boat too!

5* Bangkok, Koh Samui & Phuket in 5 days!

01 May 2020

Thailand is such a best seller for me, that I needed to see some hotels and resorts for myself to glean more information to pass onto my customers. We flew via Doha with Qatar – super airline, great food and crew. Upon arrival at chaotic Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, we were met by our local representatives who whisked us by buggy straight from our gate to the luggage collection and then onward to our hotel in an air-conditioned minivan with massage seats in the front! A god send when you arrive on a full-to- capacity flight and have to negotiate the vastness of this airport. Our home for one night was the luxurious 5* Siam Hotel. Frequented by the likes of David Beckham and Sam Smith, this wonderful property sits on the banks of the Chaopraya River and offers a free shuttle boat to the piers of central Bangkok. The hotel is filled with exquisite art and antiques and set amidst 3 acres of peaceful and lush gardens – it really is an urban haven of tranquility! All of the rooms in the hotel are suites and they also have Villas with private pools within the grounds. The hotel’s own riverboat took us into Bangkok for the afternoon, but it was lovely to sail home to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. We ate in the Deco Bistro for late lunch and dined al fresco in the evening to taste traditional home-cooked Thai cuisine prepared by award winning chefs. Here, I delighted in the snow fish red curry which was a taste sensation! You can also arrange to partake in a Thai cooking class, immortalise your stay with a famous Sak Yant tattoo or arrange a sunset cruise… we chose to spend the morning in the gym, with a lesson on Muay Thai Boxing – what an experience! Day 2 saw us back at the airport for our second flight onward to the beautiful island of Koh Samui. I was quite entranced by the most amazing, quaint little airport I have ever seen – one which I will never forget! Our hosts took us the short journey through lush countryside, past Fisherman’s Village in Bophut onto the beautiful 5* Santiburi Hotel. Elegant and refined, this resort is beachfront and set in 23 acres of tropical greenery. With a huge centrepiece swimming pool and 5 restaurants this was really a special place to stay. Various accommodation facilities here, from main hotel suites to Beachfront or Garden Villas with private pools and then the spectacular area known as The Reserve which is where I stayed. Contemporary living with bright indoor spaces and floor to ceiling windows opening directly onto your private garden and pool (floating breakfast optional!). Complete luxury and privacy. Dinner at the Beach House was superb and I was very much looking forward to waking up in Paradise. In the morning, after a hotel show round, a 60-minute full body aromatherapy massage had been arranged in the Spa. We then had some free time to explore the hustle and bustle of the local shops outside the resort and also Fisherman’s Village, where we watched an amazing fire show at Coco Tam’s from bean bags on Bophut Beach. The following morning, the hotel had arranged a Thai Cooking Class for us. We started by meeting the Head Chef, Adrian who walked us through his pride and joy culinary garden. This was amazing to see and understand how the hotel is as self sufficient as possible. Chef proceeded to let us loose in the outside kitchen by the beach which was a sublime setting. Once we had mastered our Pad Thai, Som Tam and Tom Kha Gai – we then sat down with some fine wine and ate alongside the Chef. Another memorable experience! Sadly, we bid farewell to Santiburi.. back to my favourite ever airport for the short prop hop to the island of Phuket. I was quite surprised at the amount of cars, people and mopeds we encountered on our 1.5 hour private transfer to Kata Beach. We took the coastal route however which was quite stunning on one side, driving past Surin Beach, Patong Beach and Karon down toward our hotel for the next 2 nights – the 5* Kata Rocks. I have never seen a place quite like this – iconically built into the rocks, modern, funky, very instagrammable… the 34 beautifully appointed rooms are known as Villas. 1 to 4-bedroomed with full kitchens, lounges, private infinity pools and incredible views over the Andaman Sea. Along with innovative gourmet dining and an award winning Spa, this hotel is a definite ‘bucket list’ stay. As it is so steep, a buggy will take you from Reception up to your Villa and bring you down to the restaurant for breakfast and dinner. They will also take you down to the bottom of the hill to Kata town, leave you with a mobile phone which you call for a pickup back to the hotel. There are 2 main dining areas along with poolside dining by the resort’s main infinity pool, or you can arrange an alfresco dining experience Tapas on The Rocks at sunset! Once again, our hosts had arranged for spa treatments which were incredible, followed by a Cocktail Making class! Fun and creative, we learnt how to shake Bloody Mary’s and mix Kata’s secret Signature Gin cocktail by their on-site mixologists. This was followed by happy hour and dinner in the Clubhouse. The accommodation here is almost self-catering so is sold on a room only basis, giving you the flexibility to dine in or out. Breakfast by the pool was incredible, the Eggs Benedict with Tom Yum sauce to die for. If you are staying elsewhere in Kata, I would recommend pre-booking a Day Pass to Kata Rocks just to experience this amazing venue! So, a fleeting visit but very educational for me. Thailand was as beautiful as I expected, the people lovely and the hotels I visited outstanding. The weather is variable dependent upon where you are visiting but peak time tends to be between November and April. Food and drink is reasonable. You can consider a twin centre holiday with Bangkok and Hua Hin (land transfer) or perhaps a triple centre as I did. Whatever your plans are, please get in touch today – I would love to guide you through all the options available.. NAMASTE!

Stunning South Africa and the Garden Route

09 April 2020

The Garden Route was always on my bucket list…so I was very excited to book my family holiday in 2019 to South Africa. We flew from Newcastle to Cape Town via Dubai. Good connections meant only a couple of hours layover and a chance to stretch our legs in between flights. 7 hours to Dubai then 9 hours to Cape Town. Our home for 3 nights in Cape Town was the Southern Sun Waterfront – a 4* modern hotel with a lovely bar, pool, 2 restaurants and within walking distance to the V&A Waterfront. They do offer a regular free shuttle service which we used each day finishing at 11pm. We used the hop on hop off city bus service – this is a great way to get around. We used it to get to Table Mountain (tickets were included and definitely recommended to book in advance); expect queues during high season. We also took the bus down to Camps Bay too. I booked a full day to visit Stellenbosch and Franschoek including 3 wine tastings – highlight being the running of the ducks at one of the vineyards! On Day 3, we collected our car which had GPS so the city was easily negotiated – plus you drive on the right-hand side so no difficulty there! First stop, Betty’s Bay (less commercialised than Boulders Beach), a natural penguin habitat. Then a stunning drive down to Hermanus where we spent 2 nights self-catering at the Windsor Hotel, a fabulous cliffside location. We enjoyed the many restaurants (Char’d and Bientang’s Cave are highly recommended) and dolphin and whale spotting here! Being close to Gansbaai, I booked a great white shark diving experience with Marine Dynamics – these are the experts and we had an incredible up close and personal cage dive! Continuing along the N2, after a 4 hour drive along the most spectacular scenery, we arrived at Wilderness, a lovely seaside town. Just a quick overnight here, before driving towards Plettenberg Bay. We had a Skydive on the agenda, but unfortunately this was cancelled due to high winds. So we stopped at Bloukrans Bridge which is the highest bungee jump in the world. An incredible sight and you can have a cup of tea whilst watching from the bridge! Our next 2 nights were at the very special Hog Hollow – a beautiful and peaceful lodge hotel, set overlooking the Tsitsikamma Mountains with breath-taking views. As our son is 16, we had booked 2 adjacent lodges. Welcome glass of bubbles, canapes before group dinner, our rooms had tea/coffee, biscuits and popcorn and NO TV... FABULOUS! To end the night, they leave a bedtime story book on your pillow and the following morning after a scrummy hot breakfast you wake to find your car has been cleaned! Here, we also visited the Elephant Sanctuary at The Crags. I wanted to see for myself what this interactive experience offered and if it was ethical to sell on to my customers. I was not disappointed, the elephants are all orphaned or rescue, their dedicated handlers were so happy and enthusiastic to show us around their night shelter and forest area. We had a ‘hand in trunk’ walk and were able to feed these gentle giants and learn about the anatomy, touching their huge feet and bristly tails. We ended our African adventure with 3 nights at the 5* Pumba Private Game Reserve. Just a 3.5-hour drive from Hog Hollow, we wanted to arrive for the 430 game drive. After an unusual drive down a dirt track for a few miles, we left our car for the duration at the main entrance, were welcomed with a drink and taken by jeep to our lodge. Pumba is one of the most highly rated safari destinations in the world, let alone in South Africa and we could see why. I had booked the family chalet, Bush Lodge side, which consisted of a private entrance hall leading off to 2 separate rooms, both with glass enclosed lounge area, huge bed, roll top bath, shower (inside and out!) with a huge wrap around balcony with plunge pool overlooking the spectacular savannah. Perfect. This is an all-inclusive resort and both rooms had fully stocked bars, with beers, wine, chocolate and treats. The Bush Lodge here has 11 luxurious chalets and the Water Lodge has 12. Both lodges each have their own restaurant, bar and lounge. Our game drives were at 0630 and 1630 each day. On the morning drive we had a mid-safari stop for hot chocolate, tea or coffee (with a dash of Amarula!) with flapjack and melon. In the evening, we stopped for G&T, wine or beer with wraps and biltong. One of the good things about Pumba was that the ranger who takes you out on each game drive is the same throughout, so you get to know each other well and crucially they know what animals you have seen and have yet to see. The jeeps are sparsely occupied so everyone has a fantastic view and these guys are experts in tracking and tracing the countless animals in such a huge open expanse. Our ranger Denise was super interesting and full of information. Highlight was seeing the beautiful and rare white lions, a herd of elephants up close and a baby hippo just weeks old! In between game drives, you can indulge in the Spa and also take part in Archery, Bird tracking, Fishing and Star Gazing which are included. Breakfast is served on the game viewing deck and then a 3-course fine dining meal is served in the main restaurant, before you retire to the fire-pit under the stars to relive your exciting adventures. A sad farewell on our final day, we drove 90 minutes to Port Elizabeth airport, a short connection to Jo’burg, then onward to Dubai and back to Newcastle. With only 2 hours time difference there is no jet lag even though it is a long flight. The South African roads are easy to navigate, wifi was everywhere and a lot of hotels also have English plug sockets. The people are friendly, however always observe safety rules – do not wander around the city at night (use Uber), keep valuables close, don’t drive the N2 at night (due to wildlife wandering!) and please tip where you can. It is a very poor country and you will see miles of shanty towns along the way. Overall, it is one of the best holidays we have ever had, the landscape is absolutely stunning, the food and drink incredibly cheap. The best time to visit for decent weather is from November to April. We encountered dassie, penguins, lizards, baboons (on the road!) and on safari there were the famous white lions, cheetah, hippo, rhino (with baby), vervet monkeys, giraffe, elephants, wildebeest and warthog to name a few. Please get in touch if this amazing destination is on your bucket list!

Lanzarote Love

28 April 2020

The only touristy Canary I had not yet visited… I just needed a break! So, I hopped on a flight from Leeds Bradford with my 15 year old son and 4 hours later landed on the sunshine island of Lanzarote. It is one of the most northern islands, just 140km west of Africa but belongs to Spain. The main tourist hotspots are Costa Teguise, Playa Blanca, Puerto del Carmen and Puerto Calero. I decided for my week of R&R to choose Playa Blanca, more specifically we stayed at the 4*+ Sandos Papagayo. Just a short transfer from Arrecife Airport, this all-inclusive family hotel has wonderful and modern sea or pool facing rooms and is just 2km from Marina Rubicon and 3km from Playa Blanca centre. The hotel offers a daily complimentary bus into the resort, 4 times a day which we did make use of. There's plenty to do at this hotel, my son enjoyed the daily water polo and pool games – he also had a free snorkelling lesson in the pool too! For younger children there is a kids club (4-12 years), kids pool and playground. Evening entertainment was varied, professional and held in the outdoor theatre. It is a large hotel with almost 500 rooms, but has 4 pools (1 adult only), 7 bars and 5 restaurants including a 24 hour pool snack grill, main buffet restaurant, Mexican and an Italian which are both pre-bookable and are included in your all inclusive package. Free wi-fi, lovely, clean grounds and a super chill out terrace with amazing views! You can also upgrade to the Royal Elite Club – which I would highly recommend. This gives you a nightly turn down service with goodnight chocolate, mini-bar with cava, bottled water and soft drinks. Pool towels in the room and toiletries basket. Breakfast and dinner in a private area. Also included is access to the exclusive Royal Elite Lounge (adult only and family sections) equipped with comfortable sofas, free internet corner, daily press, tea, coffee, refreshments, snacks and drinks including a variety of premium branded drinks. Private chill out terrace with stunning views over the ocean. The location was ideal for us – one day we walked along the stunning coastal path for 20 minutes to the Marina Rubicon. The market day here is every Wednesday and Saturday from 9am until 2pm. We found some unique little stalls selling local jewellery, crafts and homemade goods set to a beautiful harbour backdrop. Before walking home, we stopped at one of the local harbour front bars for a cold cerveza and some tapas in the sunshine! Another day, we took the hotel shuttle bus to Playa Blanca itself and had a wander around the front, with its designer stores and lovely bars and cafes along the promenade. Overall, for a relaxing week in the sun this hotel is a good solid option. The food is fresh and plentiful, staff are happy and helpful and it was just what the doctor ordered. Please get in touch if you are in need of a quick sunshine break too!

The Best of New York in 3 days!

30 December 2018

A cheeky pre-Christmas visit to New York was in order so we flew from Manchester via Dublin to Newark which is a great way to clear US Immigration, saving time at the other end. Ireland is the only country outside of the USA to do this. So, with our valid ESTA’s in place, once we landed, we were literally off the plane and into our taxi in no time. You can use public transport, but a taxi is around $80 fixed fee into the city (including tolls) and much easier with luggage. We checked into the Crowne Plaza HY36 W36th Street – a lovely new hotel, good location in Midtown around the corner from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. It’s a good idea to head straight out on the first afternoon to maximise your time so we had a quick look at the Moxy Hotel Rooftop Bar before making our way through bustling Times Square to Grand Central Station which is an amazing building to see inside. We had a lovely glass of wine and an Espresso Martini at Cipriani in the station, (people watching!), before we wandered around to the Rockefeller Centre. The fabulous tree and Christmas decorations were all twinkling and the ice skaters make this a really magical time of year. I recommend pre-booking your tickets with me to the ‘Top of the Rock’ as it is a very popular landmark. The views were incredible, and it was such a clear night with temperatures of around 3-4 degrees. Amazing! The next morning, we popped into the Wyndham New Yorker – a popular Art Deco styled hotel I sell a lot because of its great location and reviews. Following this we had a meeting at The Refinery – an elegant, boutique 5* hotel, close to Bryant Park which boasts an amazing roof top bar and restaurant with stunning views of the Empire State Building. Beautiful entrance with the most amazing scents, a fabulously chic lobby bar/jazz lounge plus an English style pub/brasserie. A beautiful hotel option. We needed to walk off our super lunch, so we headed for the Highline, an elevated 2-mile long disused railway track running parallel to the Hudson. It is still under re-generation but a great way to spend some time seeing the city from a different angle. We ended up at the funky Standard Highline Hotel, overlooking the river with amazing floor to ceiling windows in each room and its own brewery along with two rooftop bars. In this area, you will also find the HQ’s of Google, Samsung, Apple plus Chelsea Market with its many quirky and individual shops. Day 3 beckoned, and we were walking 20k plus steps by now each day. Using the Subway which was easy and cheap, we wanted to check out Katz Deli famed for the movie ‘When Harry met Sally’. We just wanted a light breakfast but of course, in America, portion size is huge! The area of The Bowery was famous in the 70’s for the age of Punk and New Wave. I wanted to go and see the original CBGB’s nightclub where Blondie first started out. It is now a menswear store but fascinating to see the original walls and all the mementos from that era. We then took the subway under the Brooklyn Bridge, so we could walk back over it, not before stopping to take a look at the restored 1920’s Jane’s Carousel which sits at the foot of the bridge and was a gift given to the city by David and Jane Walentas. We walked back over the Bridge, stopping to view Liberty and then onward toward 9/11. The memorial is vast and strangely atmospheric. If you want to visit the museum, then definitely pre-book your tickets as the queue was incredible. Following this we walked up to Battery Park and made our way to the East Village as we had booked a Craft & Cocktail Tour with Urban Adventures. This was a fascinating 2.5-hour walking tour and our guide was full of speakeasies and gangster stories as we visited several bars and learned how prohibition shaped New York. Our final day and we had to get some shopping in! Just around the corner from Bloomingdales we were recommended to try the quaintest café called Serendipity. The mammoth queues on a Sunday morning confirmed its popularity. Here, they are famous for their frozen hot chocolate and desserts. TIP: Pop in and reserve a table, then go shopping when you will be ready for a sit down! Our taxi from Manhattan back to JFK was $60 or a shared shuttle is $45. We found the JFK Clubhouse Lounge here excellent with waiter service and superb food and drink. Overall, I found New York to be exciting, vibrant, bustling and everything I expected. Drinks can be expensive, depending where you are, but look out for Happy Hours. There’s food on every corner of course but if you don’t want fancy then there is always a Five Guys! Please contact me if you want some first-hand advice and where to stay and what to do in the Big Apple.

Sanibel, Captiva and Fort Lauderdale

24 June 2018

I have been to Florida several times, but never to the south west so I was really looking forward to this educational trip with Travel Counsellors. Brushing up on my product and destination knowledge, meeting suppliers, visiting hotels and experiencing some of the sightseeing excursions the famous sunshine state has to offer! We flew indirect with Delta via Atlanta and I was impressed with the Delta aircraft, seating, service and food. After a 2-hour layover, we boarded for Fort Lauderdale which was another two-hour flight. Our base for three nights was the Hotel Morrison at Dania Beach which is a well-located hotel for the airport. Huge bedrooms, a small quiet pool, good bar and self-serve breakfast. From here we could venture out and investigate the area including a fabulous Segway tour of Fort Lauderdale (well recommended), an Everglades airboat ride at Sawgrass Recreation Park (very interesting and exciting), and a tour of Bonnet House Museum, Flamingo Gardens and Sawgrass Mills Mall. We had a site inspection and a fabulous lunch in the waterfront Bistro Restaurant of the super 4* Sonesta Hotel which is situated on Fort Lauderdale Beach with all rooms facing the ocean. Followed by a tour of Pier 66 Hotel & Marina with its fabulous tower, grill and leisure options. Our group had a little downtime one evening in Las Olas which is known as shoppers’ paradise and I think higher end than Miami. Lots of beautiful restaurants, bars and a great nightlife. Following our city base, we then moved across the state to Fort Myers which is just a three-hour drive from Lauderdale. Our base for the next two nights was the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina. Located directly on a beautiful white sand beach with paddle boarding, kayaking and other water-sports available, this 4* hotel offers studios, one and two-bedroomed apartments with beach views and three restaurants. A perfect family getaway! We had lunch at the Pinchers Crab Shack in Fort Myers, followed by a tour of the Edison & Ford Winter Estate which is a ‘must see’ attraction in south west Florida. Walking around the inventors 1886 14-acre riverfront estate, laboratory and experimental gardens including the winter home of Henry Ford, with its display of Ford vehicles, was a treat. Day five of our trip started off with breakfast on Sanibel Island at the Island Cow restaurant followed by a site inspection of the magnificent South Seas Island Resort on Captiva with its 13 pools, six restaurants, marina, spa and golf course. Most accommodations are self-catering, so you can make the most of the resort and area, which is surrounded by a 330-acre wildlife preserve where dolphins and manatees are regular guests. There’s also lots of activities to keep you busy including kayaking, sailing, boating, bicycling, golf, and tennis. We then boarded the Lady Chadwick and cruised the Gulf up to Cabbage Key Island to enjoy a ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ at the island’s only restaurant. The highlight of the day was seeing manatees and dolphin - the dolphins love playing and jumping in the wake of the boat! It was awesome to see them so close to us! Another site inspection of the 4* Sundial Beach Resort & Spa with its fully equipped condominium accommodations and panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. A quick inspection of the Outrigger Beach Resort which is a mid-range, comfortable hotel located right on the most amazing beach in Fort Myers ended the day then a fantastic dinner at the Fresh Catch Bistro. Flying home direct with Virgin Atlantic in Premium Economy enabled us to get some sleep on the overnight flight with extra leg room and reclining seats. This was a whirlwind tour of Florida’s south east and south west coasts and we packed a lot into five days. The service everywhere was friendly and efficient, and Wi-Fi was readily available. The weather was very humid (almost the 40’s) and the rainy season is normally June to October. Sanibel and Captiva Islands are just a four-hour transfer from Orlando and can easily be combined to make a perfect twin centre Disney/Beach holiday. Please give me a call if you are thinking of planning your next holiday to Florida and hopefully I can give you some valuable guidance on the best areas to visit!

California Dreamin'

09 April 2018

One of my bucket list trips was finally achieved in March 2018. I have always wanted to road trip from San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway, so we set off on a cold March morning for Heathrow. The train is easy from York to London KX then the underground is around 50 minutes straight into Heathrow. We stayed at the Novotel the night prior and used the Hoppa shuttle in the morning which was quite painless. Our 10.5-hour flight with Virgin was good – I would always recommend pre-booking your seats in advance to guarantee where you sit, especially if you prefer window or aisle. Upon arrival at San Francisco, be prepared for a long security clearance at Customs which is usual in the US. Our wait was about 1.5 hours and then we booked an UBER to Fisherman’s Wharf. We stayed for three nights at The Argonaut Hotel, a welcoming and smart 5* in a great location walkable to Pier 39, next to the Cable Car turn, Ghiradelli Square and several restaurants. Breakfast was pricey but very good, however just around the corner is the Buena Vista Café (famous for Irish Coffee) or the 8am Café, both offering super breakfast but very busy! During our stay we cycled the Golden Gate Bridge across to Sausalito and caught the ferry back (allow three hours and be prepared for hills!), saw the wild sealions at Pier 39, went into Union Square and Chinatown, shopped at the Ferry Buildings which is foodie heaven plus they have a Farmers Market on a Saturday until 2. We visited Alcatraz (I can pre-book your tickets for this, always sold out on the day) and wined and dined in various restaurants. We collected our Alamo hire car on the Monday (again I would recommend I pre-book with all insurances paid for PLUS definitely book a GPS, this was invaluable on our trip). Driving away from the city on US1 we reached Monterey after a stunning coastal drive. Quite a seaside town, famous for the Sardine Factory restaurant and Cannery Row. Onward to the beautiful Carmel which was our first night stay at the Carmel Bay View Inn. We used decent motels and inns during the road trip as this is the most economical way and many breakfasts were included complimentary. Upmarket Carmel is a joy, clean streets, boutiques, the beach beautiful and the art galleries aplenty. We ate at Dametra, highly recommended but there are restaurants on every corner and all a high standard of cuisine. We set off early the next day as we wanted to get as far along the Big Sur coastal drive as possible to Gorda which is where the mudslides have unfortunately closed the road. This is due to reopen in September 2018. The drive is of course stunning with plenty of pull in places to stop and take your photo opportunity. Instead of travelling back up to Carmel for 40 miles, we turned onto the infamous Nacimiento Fergusson track which takes you up high through the hills and drops down to hook up with the highway again. If you are nervous don’t do this, however lots of cars surprisingly were on the road. No lines, very twisty, passing places and no barriers so a bit scary but passable (only in good weather) if you drive slowly! Next stop, Pismo Beach. Superbly located on the cliff top, the SeaCrest Oceanfront Hotel was lovely. I would recommend paying a little extra for the front facing sea view rooms – what a view! We walked along the beach into Pismo and along the pier before setting off to our next destination. Just an hour and a half south is the stunning Santa Barbara with its lovely Marina and fishing pier. The Inn by the Harbor gave us the most welcoming reception on arrival and the owner was lovely, giving us lots of information on the area. They held a cheese and wine party at 5pm for all guests which was a treat! This hotel is walkable to the marina which is where we ate. On our final day we took Highway 1 via Ventura up to Coalinga (a 4-hour drive) stopping en route for a bite at the famous 24th Street Café in Bakersfield! We stayed that evening at the splendid Harris Ranch Inn, where the Harris family are California’s largest beef marketeers, famed for their amazing steaks. On site they have a Bakery, Bar, three restaurants, Country Store, an airstrip and a gas station. The pool was the best we used, and the weather was fabulous. Just a short 3-hour drive and we returned the car back to San Francisco airport for our journey home. Overall, I wished we had more than a week as there was a lot of driving so 10 days would be perfect. Food and drink was fairly expensive, after all - this is prime tourist country! Wi-fi was readily available in all the hotels and the Americans hospitality lives up to its reputation. If you want to know more about the areas I visited, please give me a call to discuss your next bucket list trip!

Club Med Florida

07 July 2017

Having been to Disneyworld several times, driven down through the Florida Keys, across the everglades, to Sarasota and Naples before, I wanted to spend time in Florida, but have a more laid back family holiday. Club Med Sandpiper Bay seemed the perfect choice. Knowing the reputation of Club Med across Europe and Worldwide I was interested to see how Florida’s ONLY fully all-inclusive resort matched up. We flew long haul with Thomas Cook from Manchester direct to Orlando with James Martin menus and soft drinks included. Alcohol is extra on board. 5 movies, 4 TV shows and plenty of music is available for free but if you require the Premium package then you can upgrade for £5. Plenty of leg room, it was a comfortable flight. Premium Economy class would offer more space and free drinks. Our Club Med private transfer from the airport was efficient, the resort being 2 hours south of the Orlando or 2 hours north of Miami in an area called Port St Lucie on the east coast. The resort sits on the St Lucie River, just 15 minutes from the coast and Jensen Beach which is an 8-mile stretch of amazing sand and turquoise sea. First impressions were good – reception greeted us with cold cloths and a refreshing lime water drink. The Resort has 337 rooms, located in 7 different 2-storey buildings (with lift). Our bags were taken to our room which was a Deluxe Family. Immaculately clean, this 2-bedroomed apartment was huge at 550 sq ft with a his and hers bathroom sinks, shower, bath and 2 toilets. A separate twin room for our son and our room had a large King Size bed with a lounge area that opened out onto a patio with 2 sunbeds and a chair. The Club Family rooms are similar but feature bunk beds and are not as large. It is all about the view though, with most rooms having spectacular views over the river or marina. Well worth paying for an upgrade to guarantee this. This unique resort offers gorgeous and meticulously maintained grounds, along with sports facilities with state-of-the-art equipment, top professional instructors and exceptional group lessons for all skill levels. Here you can enjoy Golf, Beach Volleyball, Tennis, Sailing, Kayaking, Paddle boarding, Yoga, Zumba, Flying Trapeze, Basketball, Water polo, Gym & a Spa by L’Occitane. All of these activities are included in your total price. Basic Wi-fi is also included, but you can upgrade for a better service. Club Med Kids have dedicated areas from the Baby Club (4 months – 2 years) up to Latitude Teen Club (11-17) which is where our 13 year old spent most of his time and met plenty of American friends! There are 4 pools: Adult Only Infinity, Lap Pool, Main Pool and mini-splash kids pool. The Marketplace is the main restaurant where you will find breakfast, lunch and dinner served. There is an adult only section and it is all self-service. The food is really amazing! The evenings were themed with an optional dress code and we sampled delicious meats, fresh fish, pasta and salads, as well as local specialities. An amazing array of food is available here complimented by superb wine (Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and Coors on draught as standard) and fantastic views over the bay from the terrace. All diets catered for from baby food up to an English roast but essentially typical Club Med, very fresh, show cooking and extremely tasty! The ‘famous’ white chocolate bread must get a mention too - it was heavenly!! The Riverside Grill & BBQ is the a la carte restaurant where you need to reserve a table – here they also offer late breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Slice Bar is open all day for a refreshing drink, in the evening for a pre-dinner drink with live music and then after dinner each evening is music and dancing! Each evening there is some form of entertainment performed by the hard working G.O’s who are the Club Med Staff. They get to know you by name, sit with you at dinner and look after your children. Next, you see them in a theatre show or musical, acting, singing, dancing, circus cabaret or trapeze show. They are a very talented bunch of people. We did hire a car for a few days as we drove an hour north to Skydive Sebastian where I did a tandem jump to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary! They were fantastic and a great place to go for a day if you fancy that kind of thing! We had a drive out to Jensen Beach and into Port St Lucie too both of which are on the doorstep and Reception will kindly arrange for car hire for you. My husband is a fisherman, so bought a cheap rod from Walmart and fished around the resort. He caught a few catfish and snook. He also saw some wild manatee in the estuary and a bull shark! The river is a conservation area so all manner of wildlife live there. No alligators were seen on this occasion though! We spent 10 nights in June at Club Med Sandpiper Bay and enjoyed every second. The weather was great (a little humid) plenty of sunshine and cloud. Food excellent, fantastic staff, amazing facilities and we all agreed great value for money. If you think this could be the place for your next holiday – we often have special rates available to us and of course I have contacts in resort - don’t hesitate to call me on 01723 817570 and I can make it happen!

Paris in Springtime

05 July 2017

For my special 'big' birthday, we decided a trip to Paris would be perfect and very romantic! Flying from Leeds is great, very quick journey for myself and husband into Charles de Gaulle. We decided to take public transport from the airport into the city, which is fairly easy (using the free city maps you can pick up from the airport). Overground train, then the subway and it is very inexpensive too. Our hotel for three nights was the Rochester Hotel on the Champs d'Elysees. a beautiful 4* hotel, great central location, impressively clean, super modern bedrooms, wifi, lovely buffet breakfast and a traditional Parisian bar on site too. There is no restaurant, however there are plenty of local eateries within walking distance. In fact, we had dinner locally around the corner at Le Comptoir de l'Artoise. Typically Parisian, privately owned, super food. I had booked the 2CV Paris Tour - a relatively new way of seeing as much of the city as possible! Our driver collected us from our hotel and then we set off in an original 2CV with open top! The driver also runs a commentary so you learn a great deal about Paris history and the amazing buildings. We saw all the sights and nipped through alleyways and one way streets really getting a feel for the buzz of the city. After 2 hours, you can be dropped wherever so we chose the Eiffel Tower as we had tickets for that day. Definitely pre-book your tickets for the Tower, they allocate so many per day and if you don't buy in advance, you could end up being disappointed or waiting in a 2-hour queue! We went straight in and up in the lift without waiting. Fabulous views as you would expect and we paid the extra few euros to go to the very top where there is a champagne bar waiting for you! After this we walked up towards the Arc de Triomphe where you can pay to climb the 284 steps to the very top - but what a view! Down to earth, back to our hotel and we had booked the Hard Rock Café for dinner which was great as expected. On my birthday morning, my husband arranged a champagne breakfast in bed and the hotel did not disappoint! Feeling full, we took the subway down to the River and boarded the Bateaux Parisiens Seine Cruise. This was a lovely hour spent for only €15 each. After a brief lunch at a creperie, we had a walking tour booked of the Montmartre. Our local guide was amazing, very knowledgeable - we started at the Moulin Rouge and ended up at the Sacre Coeur. Dinner that evening was at Le Mesturet - which was a highlight as our evening meal was fabulous! Our final day saw us paying a visit to the Montparnasse - a structure in Paris which does not seem to fit as it is a modern day skyscraper. Again we bought tickets in advance to avoid the queue. In 38 seconds, the lift takes you to the 56th floor. The outdoor panoramic observation deck offers a 360° view overlooking the whole city of Paris, and the view of the Eiffel Tower is the highlight of the show! There is a Café and a souvenir shop on the floor below which also has floor to ceiling windows and amazing views! By this time, we were ready for our flight so went back to the hotel, collected our luggage and called an Uber to take us to the airport. Overall, I felt very safe in the capital, the subway was cheap and easy to use, Wi-Fi in most areas and the people were very friendly. If you have any questions about my trip or would like to book any of the excursions and sights I have mentioned, please get in touch!

Barbados Baby!

29 November 2016

With a group of other Travel Counsellors, I was very excited to be invited to this fabulous Caribbean destination by Elegant Hotels to stay at and view their hotels on the island. We flew from Gatwick on a cold November morning for the eight hour flight and I was lucky enough to be upgraded to Club World with British Airways. If you ever have the chance to do this, then it is highly recommended. With their lie flat beds, executive dining and personal attention it really is the way to travel! Arriving refreshed, we headed to Turtle Beach, St Lawrence Gap on the South Coast where we would be staying for two nights and had a lovely ocean front dinner with cocktails. An all-inclusive resort, the hotel sits on a beautiful white sand beach and is within walking distance to St Lawrence Gap. Our rooms were smart, clean and modern and had large balconies. The hotel offers complimentary non-motorised water sports for guests, there are two pools and three onsite restaurants, one on the beach with evening entertainment. A good location, friendly staff and a great breakfast is on offer at this 4* hotel. Our first day took us to Harrison Caves, situated in the centre of the island – a subterranean environment filled with the most amazing stalactites and stalagmites. You are driven deep down into the caves by vehicles, stopping at various places to view the incredible cavernous areas. Following this, we were whisked away to St Nicholas Abbey, Cherry Tree Hill - a 17th Century plantation, now owned by the Warren Family and still only one of four distilleries on the island producing the most fabulous Rum! We had a simple but delicious lunch and also a tour, talk and rum taster session. The following day consisted mostly of hotel site inspections. The 5* Sandpiper (SLH) Hotel, an exclusive privately-owned boutique hotel on the west coast, was my favourite - within walking distance to fabulous Holetown with its designer shopping and super restaurants. Set in seven acres of tropical gardens, and with only 50 bedrooms, you really can feel the privacy of this lovely hotel. Moving onto the 5* Coral Reef which is the sister hotel to Sandpiper and just slightly further up the coast – again set in acres of gardens, this colonial style hotel has very traditional features. Both hotels have a spa and intimate restaurants on site. We had lunch at the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, again a lovely 5* property, typical of the group and close to Holetown. Beachfront restaurants seem to be the norm for these hotels and we enjoyed a lovely lunch al fresco overlooking the fabulous white sands. For the final three nights, we stayed at the Waves Hotel & Spa. A 4* Elegant Hotels all-inclusive property, focusing on the mind and wellness. We all had spa treatments and I chose a fantastic shoulder/back massage. There are eight treatment rooms set around the Serenity Gardens and also some of the hotel bedrooms are situated in this annexe area too which is adult only and has an amazing Asian Restaurant ‘Shiso’. The main hotel block features an open plan, sea facing buffet restaurant ‘Seascape’, a coffee bar/deli and also when staying at this hotel, you have the ‘Dinearound’ option where you can sample the restaurants at the other Elegant Hotels – over 15 restaurants! Some of which can be reached by complimentary water taxi. We then visited another Elegant Hotel - 4* Crystal Cove where we had a super lunch. Barbados Tourism Marketing had booked for us a private sunset Catamaran Cruise. The ‘Cool Runnings’ team took us out of Bridgetown harbour and the cruise began with a stop to swim with the magnificent Sea Turtles, followed by another snorkel stop over a shipwreck with tropical fish. We sailed along the beautiful coastline and anchored up by the famous Sandy Lane’s private beach where we were left breathless admiring the spectacular colours of the tropical setting sun. As night fell, a sumptuous barbeque dinner was served complete with wine and dessert followed by music and dancing. What an amazing evening! The following morning, we were again taken to Bridgetown to board ‘Atlantis’ - our submarine for the morning. The sea was fairly choppy as we were taken out to the sub by a ferry boat. Not recommended for anyone that suffers from sea sickness! Once on board the sub, however, we drifted gently down under the sea to 130 feet. Quite a small area that can seat around 20 people back to back. Again, I would not recommend if you suffer from claustrophobia! The view was amazing – up close to a shipwreck, sea turtles and lots of different types of fish, along with a hilarious running commentary, we were down for around 30 minutes before surfacing and being taken back to shore. Another fabulous trip - well worth it if you are on holiday. That afternoon, we had a visit to the Mount Gay Visitors Centre with a very interesting 45 minute distillery tour, learning about the history of the world’s oldest rum and tasting the different brands available. Our final evening saw three more west coast 5* hotel visits, The Colony Club – a superb hotel with heaps of character, The Tamarind and The House – which again was a beautiful all suite boutique hotel. It is adults only with just 34 rooms and personal attentive ambassador service. Daphne’s Restaurant, acclaimed on the island, sits in between The Tamarind and The House and provides discerning beachfront Italian dining. I was disappointed to leave this wonderful island with its amazingly friendly locals, superb hotels and delicious food – however I am thankful for the experience of seeing so much in five days. The weather was not great - the rainy season is June to October but November was wetter than usual this year. However, the temperatures were high (30’s) and the tropical rain was torrential but only lasted for an hour or so at a time. During this time, the hotel prices are lower and you could bag a bargain! Please give me a call if you are thinking of planning your next holiday to Barbados and hopefully I can give you some valuable advice on ‘when’ and ‘where’ to go!

Top 20 Tips for DisneyWorld Florida

19 October 2016

A family holiday to the sunshine state and specifically Walt Disneyworld is probably one of the most memorable times you will have together. If you are hoping to hit the parks and see as much as possible, you do need a plan. If you think you can just turn up and wander along to the rides you need to think again. I don’t mean to make your holiday sound military but ‘planning’ is the key word here! So, arm yourself with as much information as possible. Here, I have compiled my top 20 tips for having a stress-free holiday in Disney! 1 - Once your holiday is booked, sign onto ‘My Disney Experience’ where you can pre-book your Fastpass+ tickets, Character Meet & Greet, Photopass, Magic Bands and book your Advance Dining Reservations with Disney online before you go. 2 - Buy your Theme Park Tickets in advance - Disney/Universal Combo and Discovery Cove Ultimate are the most popular allowing you unlimited access to all the parks for the duration of your holiday. I can book all these tickets and many more on your behalf! 3 Book as far in advance as you can if you want to stay in a Disney hotel in order to qualify for the ‘free dining plan’ offer which normally runs from August to November. 4 - If you decide not to take the dining plan option, pre-order your essentials from www.gardengrocer.com to be delivered to your hotel upon arrival (ensure you have fridge in your room!) 5 - Make use of the free Disney transportation if you are staying on resort. 6 - Pre-order your personalised Disney Magic Bands if staying on resort. They are loaded with your park tickets, you can buy presents and have them delivered to your hotel, use them for fastpass and photopass and ADR’s – order from your ‘My Disney Experience’ page. Even if are staying in a Villa, you can buy these for around £10 each and still make use of the facility. 7 - Make your way around each park anti-clockwise. 8 - If you don’t mind riding alone, make use of the single rider queues – can save hours of waiting in line. 9 - Fastpass+! It’s a free service and you can reserve your space on the most popular rides. 10 - Go to the main office at Magic Kingdom for your child’s first visit or birthday badge – they wear them with pride and get special attention from the Cast Members 11 - Make use of the free Theme Park Wi-Fi and Disney Apps – don’t forget to turn your Data Roaming OFF! 12 - Make use of the early and late Disney Magic Hours. 13 - Pay a visit to the re-imagined Disney Springs – great shops & restaurants. Use it as a hub – catch a bus to Universal from there. Also that’s where Cirque du Soleil is – amazing show! 14 - Don’t visit Magic Kingdom on a Monday! 15 - Take several Plug Adaptors – or a plug board converter is really handy. 16 - Remember to complete your online ESTA – otherwise you won’t be let into the country! 17 - Visit Epcot during the Food and Wine Festival in October/November – eat your way around the world! 18 - Ensure you wear sensible shoes – take a backpack with a change of clothing for the days with water rides involved! 19 - If you’ve never visited Walt Disney World, you should go in with at least a rough plan of attack. Failing that, prioritise the following as the first attractions to do each morning when you arrive: Toy Story Mania, Rock n Roller Coaster and Terror Tower at Hollywood Studios, Test Track & Soarin’ at Epcot, Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom, Space Mountain and Seven Dwarves in the Magic Kingdom, Harry Potter at Universal and Hulk at Islands of Adventure. 20 - Finally, please don’t forget to use your super knowledgeable personal Travel Agent (me!) whom you can contact with all your questions at any time of day!

Our Croatian Family Holiday

12 September 2016

As this is fast becoming a very popular destination, I wanted to see for myself a little bit of the beautiful country of Croatia. I booked for myself, husband and son to stay in the small town of Lapad, just outside of Dubrovnik. With direct flights from Leeds and just under a three hour flight, this is a great short haul option. I booked a private transfer to take us to our apartment – the Villa Curic. 14 self-catering apartments privately owned and run with amazing views over Graz harbour. Well-furnished, very clean and with the bonus of a private roof top swimming pool! The only drawback is that the apartments are situated on a hill and it is quite a steep walk back up from the town. Not recommended for people with walking difficulties. However, the No.6 bus stops very close by and takes you into Dubrovnik in about 15 minutes for a reasonable £1.20 each (if bought in the kiosk before you travel, £1.50 on board). Lapad is a lovely, laid back resort with a great promenade leading down to the sea and plenty of bars and restaurants open in high season. Many of the larger hotels are based around the coastline here including the 5* Hotel More with its intriguing Cave Bar (open to the public). For children, there is a play area and a fabulous floating water park at Lapad Beach which certainly kept my 13 year old occupied for a while! The boys went sea-kayaking and snorkelling too. Cafes and bars serve laid back lunches al fresco with an Italian influence. You can walk all around the coastline from the Hotel More to Copacabana Beach, which is similar to Lapad Beach, again with a floating water park. We ventured into Dubrovnik Old Town which is completely surrounded by walls and fortresses, including the Old City Port. The history of the fortifications in Dubrovnik goes back to the early Middle Ages. Walking through the Pile Gate, I was immediately impressed by the Stradun, which is the main pedestrian area within the city walls. Filled with a rich atmosphere and history, many cafes, bars and restaurants are hidden within the small side streets. At the other end of the city, before Ploce Gate is the harbour. We hopped onto a ferry and took a day trip to Lokrum Island for around £5 each. Just 15 minutes from the mainland, this is a beautiful uninhabited island, filled with rich pine-wood, subtropical vegetation, natural swimming-places and has an exotic historical heritage. There is also a botanical garden, fort, monastery and museum (including the famous Iron Throne from Game of Thrones - the fictitious land of Qarth was filmed here too). Peacocks and rabbits roam around the island and are very tame. The small, salt-water lagoon is a must-see and my son enjoyed jumping off the cliff into the deep water below. Another day, we walked the two kilometre city walls – fantastic views, but hard work in 30 degree heat. Not recommended for people with walking difficulties or young children as there are lots of steep stone steps to negotiate. After this, we took the four minute journey by cable car up to Srd Hill and were amazed with the breathtaking views of the Old City of Dubrovnik, the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, and the numerous islands. Have a bite to eat in the Panoramic Restaurant, where you can have a glass or two of wine whilst taking in the stunning views. Then, we had booked a Game of Thrones walking tour which was quite fascinating (even though I am not a huge fan!) Our tour guide was an extra in the series and was full of interesting facts about the film locations and actors. After all this we needed refreshment – this was found at the hidden ‘Buza’ bar built into the city walls, where you can stand and watch the incredible sunset whilst sipping the local beer. Finally, we took one of the famous three island fish picnic boat trips. Our coach picked us up in Lapad and we boarded the ‘Tirana’ a replica of an old galleon. We had a relaxed day visiting Kolucep, Lopud and Sipan enjoying a lunch of bread, fish and vegetables along with a bottle of wine and local entertainment on board. We had a fantastic week in Croatia, enjoyed the weather, the food and the locals were friendly and accommodating. Wi-Fi was available in most places. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any more information on booking a holiday to this lovely destination.

I fell in love with Crete

18 May 2016

Flying from Gatwick at 0700 on a cold, wet April morning did not fill me with excitement….however, as soon as we took off and flew into blue skies my mood changed! Landing at Crete’s capital Heraklion was an easy experience. Quite a small airport and our bags were released very quickly. I was lucky enough to be on a working trip with 8 other Travel Counsellors to spend 4 nights on this beautiful island. We wandered around Heraklion in the heat of the day – yes, it is quite warm in April. I was surprised to see that along with the lovely old cobbled streets and traditional tavernas, there was a modern feel to the central square, with a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream shop and several coffee shops with customers sitting outside enjoying the sunshine. We had an open air lunch at a wonderful restaurant called Peskesi before setting off to our first hotel in Rethymnon. The 5* Sentido Aegean Pearl is a very modern beachfront hotel, about 2km from the old town. There is a fabulous buffet and a la carte restaurant as well as a super wellness centre and indoor pool. The 4* sister hotel Pearl Beach is next door and you can use the facilities here as well. That evening we had a stroll in charming Rethymnon - it's a place that moves slowly but most importantly preserves much of its Venetian and Turkish appearance. The old town streets are kept for pedestrians and you can find some amazing jewellery shops, bookshops and produce being sold. Further into the heart of the town there are many cafes and small restaurants along the narrow streets. We were invited into a traditional bakery where the old baker and his wife keep their ancient door open and are happy to show how they make the traditional "fyllo" pastry leaves. The main meeting place for locals is the Rimondi fountain, with the pleasing cafe Galero to sit at right next to it – which also has internet access, as many cafes do in the centre of Rethymnon. We then walked down to the harbour and on to dinner at a lovely sea front restaurant ‘En Plo’. In the morning we visited the 4* Swell Hotel, a small privately owned, recently completely refurbished boutique hotel on the sea front. With just 27 rooms, the focus is on personal service and they have a small heated pool for guests along with a gym, bar and restaurant serving traditional Cretan fare. Next, was the 4* Antica Dimora Suites – again a small boutique hotel in the centre of town with just 10 rooms. A beautiful old memorial building that was built in the 19th century, the hotel is part of Historic Hotels Worldwide and now boasts 21st century luxuries. The hotel has a dining area, a lift and a small pool with jacuzzi in the courtyard area. Our third hotel visit was to the delightful Rimondi Boutique Hotel, which has 20 rooms and 13 suites. Two buildings comprise the hotel, on one side the Palazzo Rimondi with its own pool, and the other side the 5* Rimondi Estate which houses the suites, a private garden and swimming pool with waterfall. Following a meze lunch in Restaurant Orthonas, we then headed back to the hotel for dinner. Our third day saw us departing for the east side of the island which was about a 2 and a half hour drive along the glorious coastline. First visit was to the 5* Ikaros Beach Resort & Spa near Malia – a super beachfront stone built location, very low rise and pleasing to the eye. With 5 pools (including one heated indoor), 2 restaurants and 3 bars the hotel offers guests an all-inclusive family package. There are also 16 private outdoor pools for the deluxe bungalows and the sea front suites. Next hotel was the Radisson Blu Resort in Milatos, tucked away down a winding road – a huge resort with plenty on offer for every type of guest. Completely refurbished and re-branded this 5* hotel certainly has the wow factor. Choose from among 318 spacious rooms and suites and take in dramatic views of the dazzling waterfront. Sample international fare at The Mosaic Main Restaurant, local cuisine at Ariadni Taste of Crete and Italian dishes at the Italian Deli. The family-friendly accommodation also boasts 7 swimming pools, including a water park and an adults-only pool. The Boutique Spa beckons visitors to indulge in a pampering treatment or to refresh in the hammam, sauna or whirlpool tub. A quick walk around Agios Nikolaos and lunch pit stop, then onward to our home for the next 2 nights, the splendid 5* Daios Cove which is about 15 minutes from Agios Nikolaos and built into the stunning cove. A private beach, 3 restaurants, 2 pools and some amazing bedrooms with individual pools make this a very special place. An evening visit to the stunning 5* Elounda Beach Hotel for dinner and show round meant we had a very busy day! Our final day saw us visiting the Elounda Gulf Villas, an extraordinary building of 18 Pool Villas and 15 Suites, all with breathtaking views over the azure waters of the Gulf of Mirabello. Restaurant dining or private in villa dining is available. There is a children’s club and a private beach (10 minutes away by complimentary shuttle) – this is definitely upmarket accommodation for the most discerning traveller. We then had the most fantastic visit to the island of Spinalonga (or Leper Island) - opposite Plaka. A 10-minute boat ride takes you there and you only need to spend a couple of hours exploring the whole island. With the help of a tour guide, the fascinating history of Spinalonga is told and I didn’t realise the hospital only closed down in 1957. You can visit the graves of the last lepers and view the old buildings and church that they established as a community. Well worth a visit. Our final lunch and hotel viewing was the 5* Blue Palace at Plaka, set on the hillside opposite Spinalonga. Built by the same architect that imagined Daios Cove, a funicular takes guests down to the private pebble beach. This is a super location, you can walk into Plaka or it’s a short taxi ride into Elounda. Overall, this was a well organised trip and we saw many hotels to enhance our knowledge of the island. Surprisingly, wi-fi was readily available and complimentary in every hotel and Crete still remains one of the most popular Greek islands. Call me for a personal quote and more information on 01723 817570

Arctic Highlights Voyage to Norway with Hurtigruten

06 December 2015

I was recently lucky enough to take part in a five day Hurtigruten voyage on board the MS Midnatsol along with 16 other travel agents. I enjoyed the trip immensely, with the highlights being whale watching and seeing the incredible Northern Lights. On arrival at Newcastle Airport I spent the night at the Doubletree by Hilton which is just across the road from departures. Lovely to be greeted with a warm cookie on arrival! In the morning I met my group and we were flying with Fly Germania. This was a direct charter flight from Newcastle to Tromso. The service we received on board our flight was good, with hot food, tea/coffee or alcohol being an extra cost. On arrival in Tromso, we enjoyed a walking excursion and visited the Polar Museum, Polaria and also passed by the Mack Brewery which is the northernmost brewery in the world! We boarded our ship the MS Midnatsol and settled into our cabins which are basic (no TV’s or tea/coffee making facilities in the lead in cabins) with two single beds and a shower room. We had a porthole to view the spectacular scenery (even though from 21st November to 21st January the sun does not rise in this part of the world). I would recommend upgrading your cabin to one of the 23 Suites which have a double bed, separate lounge area, tea/coffee and TV with bath and shower. On deck nine there is a Jacuzzi hot tub along with a sauna and a gym. There is a large, two-storey panorama lounge above the bow, two bars, a cafe and a library. Four ships within the fleet are being refurbished in 2016 to include enhanced cabins with double beds and a beautiful new interior with a modern Scandinavian flavour. These are MS Polarlys, MS Kong Harald, MS Nordkapp and MS Nordnorge. On our first night, we dined in the a la carte restaurant on board. The crayfish soup was spectacular and the main course of reindeer was apparently beautiful however I chose the cod which was also wonderful. The meal was accompanied by wine chosen by the Restaurant Manager and we were looked after like royalty. Day two and breakfast is served in the Midnatsol Restaurant located on deck five. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet style with a fantastic choice. For breakfast we had cereals, fruit, yoghurt, cheese, ham, smoked salmon, toast, croissants, pancakes, eggs, bacon, beans and more. Tea, coffee, apple and orange juice are included. We arrived in Honningsvag to join the North Cape Excursion. A 45 minute coach journey along breath-taking scenery, bleak and desolate but beautiful in the polar twilight. Nordcapp is the northernmost point of Europe before you meet the North Pole and the steep mountain cliff rises 307 metres above the Arctic Ocean. Blasted into the mountain cliff is a spectacular panoramic film theatre, historical exhibition, post office, an exclusive gift shop, museum, chapel and a restaurant. We had a ‘Seminar at Sea’ where we learnt more about the Hurtigruten fleet and plans for the future. This evening we passed Finnkirka, a rock formation that is sacred to the indigenous Sami people and now also the site of an impressive light show. After dinner we headed to the bar for a night cap. As we were sitting chatting, the tannoy announced that the Northern Lights were making an appearance. Everyone rushed out on deck and I couldn't believe my eyes. I was sailing down the Norwegian Fjords looking up at the Northern Lights. It was magical and the atmosphere out on deck was wonderful. Everyone was staring up at the sky with huge smiles on their faces. The lights faded in and out and were constantly dancing and changing colour. Day three and onto Kirkenes - as far east as Cairo, further east than most of Finland, a mere 15km from the border with Russia – which we visited for the inevitable photographs. Then onto the famous Snow Hotel. They have 20 bedrooms, an Ice Bar, Gabba Restaurant along with a sauna and also Gamme log cabins if the cold hotel does not appeal! The complex also offers husky dog sledding and snowmobiling in winter along with king crab fishing and midnight sun rafting in the summer months. Another super dinner – I have really been impressed with the food on board, always fresh and tasty. The service is second to none with all of the staff very professional and helpful. Again, luckily for us, the Northern Lights were out and perhaps brighter and more impressive than before! Day four was spent sailing back south to Hammerfest where we visited the Polar Bear Museum and learnt about the history of fishing in Norway. We then had a ship tour which was very interesting and I even found out there is a jail cell on board (perhaps for people who don’t pay their bar bill!) After the switch on of the Christmas lights with mulled wine, we disembarked at midnight in Tromso staying at the Radisson Blu for the next two nights. Early next morning we walked down to the Tromso harbour and joined the local boat which took us out along the fjord to see the amazing sight of orcas and humpback whales in their wild habitat. A fantastic experience and definitely recommended. Included in this excursion is unlimited tea/coffee/fruit and also freshly cooked waffles. This afternoon we visited MS Polarlys - she was docked in Tromso so we had a show round – another lovely ship and I would love to go back on board once she is refurbished. Back for a final group dinner at the Radisson – once again fantastic food and service! Up early and away to the Villmarkssenter on the outskirts of Tromso. Here, we visited the Husky Centre, where we learnt about how much they love to work the sleds. Unfortunately, there was not enough snow for us to go out dog sledding. We were given a light snack of traditional Norwegian reindeer stew, with tea/coffee and a slice of delicious chocolate cake which was being served in a warm and cosy wooden Sami Lavvo (tent) with a roaring fire in the centre. Finally, we had to make our way back to the airport. With its fleet of iconic ships, Hurtigruten has made it possible to visit every nook and cranny of the coastline, from Bergen to Kirkenes, in the pampered confines of its working ships. For most settlements Hurtigruten is the only lifeline, with a 120-year history as a postal, delivery and transport service. The joy of a voyage like this is that you can choose whether you hop on and off, do a five-day cruise or go all the way to the last port. Wi-Fi is available but chargeable – at £10 for 3 days it is good value for money. There is also a wine and beer package on offer as the drinks on board are very expensive as in Norway in general. If you are thinking about taking a voyage to the Norwegian Fjords I urge you to consider Hurtigruten. You will have such a wonderful, unique experience with an authentic Norwegian atmosphere. Please contact me for more information!

Gran Canaria

01 July 2015

Having been invited by the Spanish Tourist Office to visit Gran Canaria along with 10 other Travel Counsellors on an exclusive 4 day visit - I was really looking forward to seeing this particular island. Travelling down to Gatwick from the frozen north is never a pleasant experience! But having worked in London I am used to the travel system, having left Scarborough at 8am for Kings Cross, underground to Victoria then overground on the Gatwick Express it was much easier than I had anticipated, arriving into South Terminal at 11:30. Our flight with Norwegian Air was comfortable with free Wi-Fi available and plenty of food and drink to buy en route. Upon arrival, we were whisked off to our home for the next 4 nights - the 5* Seaside Palm Beach Hotel in Maspalomas. I was allocated a 4th floor pool view room, very spacious contemporary bedroom, modern bathroom with walk in shower and large balcony which favoured the evening sun. Dinner was splendid - an a la carte choice with very attentive waiters - I love to dine al fresco! After a good nights sleep, we were ready for Day 1 and our rep handed out travel sickness pills....this was because we were going to be travelling the length of the island up 'above the clouds' on a mountainous road towards the north of the island. Breathtaking views of the dramatic volcanic landscapes and deep crater Tejeda. We stopped off at the lovely Parador Cruz de Tejeda for a quick pitstop, then onto the Finca La Laja in Agaete. A Finca is definitely worth a visit during your stay; welcoming hosts, coffee, cheese and wine all made locally onsite along with an orange grove set in a spectacular location. Dinner that evening was back in Maspalomas at the 5* Seaside Grand Residencia, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, a very boutique and gracious hotel with excellent food. Day 2 saw us visiting the historic town of Vegueta, just south of Las Palmas where we visited the Columbus House Museum and the local food market. Here we had lunch at Experienca Gastronomica - Smile Cooking, where we learnt how to make Mojo Rojo and Verde and cooked our own cod for lunch! We also visited the beach at Las Palmas and saw some of the lovely hotels along the promenade. Great place for a city break. Dinner this evening was at the ultra modern 5* Sheraton Salobre Hotel set inland with outstanding views of the mountains and its own two 18-hole golf courses. A sunset terrace with cabanas completes the picture of this lovely resort. Day 3 took us to Anfi with its micro-climate and Caribbean style white sandy beach. We boarded our boat for the 1 hour journey to Puerto Mogan or 'Little Venice' as it is known - a super little port with lots of fish restaurants and bars along the harbour. Lunch was at the 4* superior Gloria Palace Royal with its stunning views over the bay of Amadores - perfect for a family holiday. Dinner was taken at the 5* H10 Playa Meloneras Palace, another very modern hotel in a great location close to the Meloneras promenade with excellent food. Onto Day 4 and a stroll from our Palm Beach Hotel in Maspalomas to the 2km long promenade of Meloneras with its designer shops, fabulous sea view restaurants and 4 & 5* hotels. We visited the 4* Lopesan Costa Meloneras and the 5* Lopesan Villa del Conde both different types of hotels but a very high standard and great locations. Finally we had some free time spent in our hotel, the Seaside Palm Beach. We took advantage of the saltwater hydrotherapy swimming pool with massage jets and had a lovely farewell lunch. I can certainly recommend Gran Canaria as a holiday destination for families, couples and golfers alike. It has an average annual temperature of 24 degrees, lots of watersports and more fabulous hotels being added as they continue to improve the area for tourists. Please get in touch if you are considering Gran Canaria for your next holiday.

Atlantis Hotel on The Palm, Dubai

21 May 2015

I was so looking forward to flying with Emirates and staying for a week at this iconic 5* hotel and everything lived up to my expectations! We flew as a family from Manchester direct to Dubai with Emirates, a first class airline with brilliant staff. I had arranged wheelchair access for my mum who cannot walk too far and this was seamless all the way through from check in to arrival in Dubai and onward to our transfer. The airport staff could not do enough for us and we managed to scoot through immigration skipping the queues with the wheelchair which was a bonus!! The hotel is so vast, that I arranged a chair for mum there too - the disabled access is excellent! An evening arrival meant we couldn't see much of the city as we approached Atlantis and the 45 minute air conditioned private transfer brought us to our destination promptly. A speedy check in and we were in our rooms on the 11th floor in no time and ready to have dinner. There are 22 restaurants in Atlantis and on the half board basis, you can dine in 12 of them without supplement. We ate in a different restaurant each night from the Saffron Asian Buffet, the Kaleidoscope International Buffet to the French Brasserie (3 course table service) and TBJ's (Burger Joint) there was something for everyone. Even Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding for my mum ! The hotel is opulent and very busy with the Aquaventure Water Park and The Lost Chambers being open to the public (but complimentary access to hotel guests) however the two hotel pools are private so much quieter. It is a very family friendly hotel, so you will see children running about and definitely not an adult only - however the Nasimi Beach Bar does not allow children at night and is popular with younger couples. Other activities onsite include snorkelling with sharks (my husband and son did this, no previous training required), swimming with dolphins or having a selfie with a sea lion! I would definitely recommend paying extra to upgrade to the Imperial Club Level. Here you have unlimited access to the Imperial Lounge, where you can take Breakfast, enjoy light sweet and savoury snacks all day including juice, tea, coffee and complimentary soft drinks. Enjoy Afternoon Tea from 3:00pm to 5:00pm daily. Unwind with a selection of complimentary beverages and canapes from 5:00pm to 7:00pm daily and enjoy two 30 minute Back, Neck & Shoulder massages for the price of one, as well as full use of steam, sauna and jet pool facilities at ShuiQi Spa and Fitness. Free wi-fi and complimentary daily access to Kids Club for children 3 – 9 years of age from 10:00am - 6:00pm and Club Rush for teens 13 – 17 years of age from 2:00pm - 6:pm. Also complimentary N’Dulge nightclub access - definitely worth the upgrade! Whilst in Dubai I decided to treat my mum to afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab - an amazing experience. Seven courses including champagne in the Sky Bar with a stunning view! I also pre-booked the Burj Khalifa - the world's tallest building. Again, a spectacular view from the 124th floor. TIP : this must be pre-booked - to get in on the day, the price almost triples! Using the hotel's complimentary shuttle bus to the Dubai Mall we had a lovely afternoon investigating the city and used the Metro/Tram/Monorail to get back. We also took a trip on a dhow across the Creek in Deira to visit some souks in the old town - very interesting. There is so much to do in the city - my husband also went Skydiving, let me know if you need any information on this. I will absolutely go back to Dubai, I need to see so much more. The best prices are between May and September as the temperatures soar...it was 40 degrees in May when we were there. The best time of year to visit however is between October and April. Please call me if you fancy a short break or a family holiday to this amazing destination!

Bon Voyage Britannia

18 March 2015

I was lucky enough to be invited to an agent only event on board P&O's newest and most glamorous ship 'Britannia' before her official naming by the Queen and her maiden voyage. To give an overview of the weekend, I flew with Flybe from Leeds to Southampton which, in my opinion is a much more hassle free way of travelling from the north of England! Just a short train ride from the airport to Southampton Central and then a taxi ride to the Holiday Inn meant we arrived in good time for cocktails! (with luggage I would suggest a taxi directly from the airport to your hotel or the Port roughly £20). I had a lovely room overlooking the water with Britannia rising majestically from the Ocean Terminal. Dining recommendation if you are staying the night prior to your cruise is 'Ennio's' - a super Italian restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. So, onto the boarding day and we were very excited as we approached the Terminal and astounded how super huge the ship actually is! £500 million to build she is the biggest ever cruise ship built for British cruise market. The 141,000 ton ship is 20% bigger than any existing ship. She can carry 3,600 passengers and is more than 1000 feet long..... WOW! Once on board, we were confronted with the amazing Atrium - a fantastic area and centre-piece of the whole ship. Dropping like an enormous glittering stalactite from the ceiling is the Starburst, which centres the 3-storey 1920’s inspired atrium. On the open plan decks around you will find the Market Café, the Glass House and tempting shops, as well as welcoming sofas perfect for resting your dancing feet or meeting up with friends for a drink. Try Brodie's Bar where you can sample 70 different bottled beers, ales and ciders from 56 UK counties - my favourite being 'Wold Gold' from our local Wold Top Bewery in Driffield. We had a quick tour of the ship starting with the James Martin Cookery Club - (with a host of celebrity chefs including Marco Pierre White, Mary Berry, Eric Lanlard, Atul Kochar and the amazing Pierre Koffman who will all be on a number of Britannia’s sailings throughout the year running cookery master classes, book early!) to viewing the 3 main signature restaurants serving breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner daily. There's also plenty of other eateries to tempt you though from “Grab & Go” outlets and relaxed buffet dining around the clock to speciality restaurants, such as The Epicurian, Sindhu and The Limelight Club. Children are catered for too with The Reef, age-specific clubs, a night nursery, a boatload of activities and enthusiastic Reef Rangers on hand, The Reef is the place to be for under 18s. Once the children are into their PS gaming, you can relax in the amazing Oasis Spa - think of the most opulent and luxurious spas you’ve ever seen – the ones with sumptuous dark wood and the aroma of scented oils – and you’re imagining Britannia’s Oasis Spa! If being indoors isn't your thing, try lazing on Britannia’s Lido Deck with four pools, all of which aim to recall the old-fashioned glamour of an afternoon spent relaxing on deck, plus lots of on board activities. Evening entertainment is second to none, in fact too much choice! From the Headliners Theatre which hosts slick West End style productions, the Crystal Room which will host BBC's Strictly Come Dancing themed cruises (check the dates), The Limelight Club, an adult-only dining and late night dancing venue in sumptuous surroundings to the Live Lounge, a buzzing venue, playing host to singers, tribute acts and live bands. And so to bed... with soothing colours, bespoke artworks from British artists and large flatscreen TVs for films on demand, all the outside cabins have small balconies and there are 27 single cabins, many of which will have balconies. Bathrooms have glass shower screens and pamper packs from The White Company. If you would like any more information about this wonderful British ship, or would like me to check availability for a particular cruise - please don't hesitate to call.

My Top 5 Travel Photography Tips

21 January 2015

With the reign of Facebook and Instagram, we’re now able to share our incredible and awe-inspiring travel snaps, but just how do we take a great photograph? Here are some of the best techniques for capturing that great shot: Tip 1) Make the most of the natural lighting Photographers will always advise you to take photos during the “Golden Hour” – this is the time immediately before sunrise or sunset and offers the very best lighting for capturing images of wildlife and nature. Tip 2) Be imaginative You don’t need to have the best equipment to capture a great picture; our favourites are those that have captured the imagination of the photographer. Natural, rather than contrived poses will serve to compliment your surroundings. Tip 3) Invest in a decent lens There’s nothing more irritating than being able to spot a white-tailed eagle dart across the sky, or witness the Northern Lights dance above you, but have a substandard lens on your camera! No matter what camera you buy, be sure to invest in a good lens, as you never know what may lurk beyond your peripheral vision. Tip 4) Try somewhere new The best images are those taken in unusual places. Of course we’ve all seen that beautiful, but typical beach shot, but what about trying to make us green with envy because you’re experiencing something truly interesting? Tip 5) Be Patient There’s nothing more satisfying than witnessing some of the world’s most incredible wildlife than in their own, natural habitat. But like all great things in life, you may have to wait in order to capture something special – don’t worry, it will be worth it! What better way to use your camera than to capture photographs of the magical Aurora Borealis? Call me for a personal quote to see the most amazing once in a lifetime sight!!

Egypt - Sharm el Sheikh

26 June 2014

We travelled as a family from Manchester to Sharm el Sheikh on a sunny June afternoon with Monarch Airlines. The five and half hour flight was fine but in-flight entertainment would have been welcomed. Sharm el Sheikh Airport can be quite imposing and crazy when you arrive, with lots of holiday reps and transfer companies shouting and holding signs but they just really want you to buy a Visa. Unless you are going on an excursion to Cairo or Luxor etc you will not need this. Just ignore them and proceed to passport control and baggage reclaim. Our transfer took us to our hotel for the next 10 nights which was the Royal Albatros Moderna in Nabq Bay. This is a new hotel zone in the area, facing coral reefs in the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea and the shipwrecks of the nearby Straits of Tiran. It is quieter than Sharm, a bit further up the coast with nice breezes and a bit of surf. This 5* resort is huge – it was opened in 2004 and fully renovated in 2011. The main building and the attached three-storey building are surrounded by resplendent gardens extending down to the beach. Four pools including a children’s splash area, a relaxation pool, heated and main pool plus an aqua park with eight slides certainly keeps the children busy all day! All 680 bedrooms are air-conditioned and beds have "Select Comfort mattresses", Egyptian cotton sheets, and premium bedding. LCD televisions are equipped with satellite channels and free movie channels. Daily housekeeping is excellent with Ahmed creating some amazing towel art during our stay! The hotel sells all inclusive packages only. There are five main restaurants to dine at in the evening which are all part of the package: Mediterranean, Italian, Asian, Tagine and German. Food was freshly prepared and there is a lot of show cooking, very clean and hygienic. The beauty is you can choose food from any of the restaurants and then sit in any of them – a very flexible idea. In addition, there is a super Thai restaurant which is payable onsite. During lunchtimes the beach bar ‘Club Mac’ was a hit with our son as it served hot dogs, pizzas, chicken nuggets, fries and fish and chips, all freshly cooked. There are lots of salads in every buffet too! Evening entertainment was varied, from singers on the bar terrace to full shows down at the beach bar with dancers, fire eaters, acrobats and singers all during the week. Or you can chill out in the fantastic air-conditioned Columbus Coffee Bar where they serve lattes and hot chocolates to die for. Better than Starbucks! There is also a fabulous half mile long private jetty where you can snorkel on the reef at the end or just sunbathe on the beds provided by the hotel. A gym and super spa with great massages is also available on site. We also took two excursions: star gazing which included a camel ride, traditional Bedouin show, baking bread and ultimately viewing the Moon and Saturn through the most enormous telescopes in the middle of the desert - very surreal indeed! The second trip we did was a boat trip to Tiran Island with three stops for snorkelling, the trip also included lunch and soft drinks and was very well priced. An interesting holiday, it was very hot at 40 degrees most days in a cloudless sky. If that is too much I would recommend travelling in October/November or March/April time when it is much more pleasant in the mid 20’s and early 30’s. So, if you are considering a visit to Egypt, please get in touch! I would be delighted to help and can also book any excursions you may want to do whilst away.

The Club Med Experience

19 May 2014

I was lucky enough to have been invited by Club Med to sample their all-inclusive hospitality at the Gregolimano Resort in Greece. Flying from Heathrow, I stayed the night prior at the Arora Hotel which is 4*, very handy for the Hoppa bus transfer to the airport and adequate for my requirements. The 3.5 hour flight to Athens was trouble free with the Aegean Airways staff polite and helpful. Upon arrival into Athens, we were greeted by a coach transfer which took us north east for two hours to our boat transfer. Another 45 minutes and we were docking at our destination on the island of Evia. The Gregolimano Resort is quite sprawling, a 1960’s built hotel, renovated in 2008 to a high standard not often seen in Greek hotels. The Club Room (standard) has everything you need, super comfy bed, flat screen TV, balcony and a modern bathroom. Towel art is also a nice touch from the ever diligent housekeeping staff whose standards are very high with the whole resort being very clean. I would definitely recommend paying a little extra for a sea view room as that view is incredible! The hotel is an unusual layout with Reception being on the 6th floor and rooms above and below. There are quite a lot of steps (there is a lift, but not all levels) so be warned if you have walking difficulties. ‘Le Panorama’ Restaurant with its breakfast terrace has simply stunning views over the Aegean Sea towards the mountains and a good selection of hot food (bacon, sausages, scrambled egg, omelettes cooked to order) and cold meats, croissants, bread, cereals. ‘Les Pleiades’ restaurant is where lunch and dinner are served with its international cuisine served buffet style and freshly cooked a la carte dishes created in front of your eyes. The evenings were themed with an optional dress code and we sampled delicious meats, fresh fish, pasta and salads, as well as traditional Grecian specialities. An amazing array of food is available here complimented by a superb choice of wine and fantastic views over the beach from the terrace. The Bar Aphrodite sits in the heart of the resort, with spacious terraces overlooking the bay. In the evening, its new open air dance floor is a great place to enjoy the Greek climate and sip cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere. There's also an outdoor lounge with huge sofas with a spectacular view over the swimming pool and sea. We toured this huge resort and saw a selection of rooms from Club, to Deluxe, to Suites and Bungalows which are small buildings with one upper floor, dotted along the headland in the shade of the pine forest. This family resort welcomes children from two years upwards with kids clubs from 4-17 years old. As this is a French company, the majority of guests are French even though all the reps are multi-lingual you may find if the resort is quieter that French is predominantly spoken in the kids clubs. The heated main swimming pool is a good size with a children’s area sectioned off. Aqua aerobics happens here in the mornings and then the whole animation team have a song and dance around the pool – but you don’t have to join in! The sporting activities are one main reason why Club Med have so many repeat clients…where else can you learn to trapeze (I did!), water ski, wakeboard, sail, play tennis and do archery for no extra charge? All these and more are included in your Club Med package. When evening comes and you are feeling full after your splendid 5* dinner, make your way over to the amphitheatre and be entertained by the resort reps – we saw Mama Mia one night and then an amazing circus show on the second night, the staff are very talented and you won’t be disappointed! Then back to the bar for a nightcap and a boogie on the outdoor dance floor, or even walk over to the hotel’s nightclub which is open until 2am and dance the night away. Be warned….bring your wasp repellent – even though they are non-aggressive and you do get used to them, they are quite prevalent due to the nature of the location of the resort. To summarize, I would highly recommend Club Med – after all they are in their 50th year and are experts at what they do. Please contact me for more information on this, or any other Club Med resort.

Fantastic Florida & Disney

19 September 2013

We flew with Virgin from Manchester on one of the recently refurbished planes with the touch screen in seat consoles – this kept our 9 year old quiet for the whole trip! The entertainment was very interactive with loads of choice of movies, sport, news and documentaries etc. Orlando Airport immigration queue still takes a long time to process – so please ensure you give enough time if you are collecting a hire car. We took advantage of the free Disney Express transfer to our hotel. Our home for the next two weeks was at the Disney Deluxe resort Saratoga Springs which is themed on the New York racecourse of the same name. A vast, sprawling 26 acre resort with various blocks of apartment type accommodation. If you have walking difficulties you’ll need to be as close to the Carriage House as possible which is the main reception/restaurant area. The resort grounds were beautifully kept, bedrooms immaculate – ours was a 1st floor (lift access) 1 bedroom apartment with queen size bed, Jacuzzi bath, shower room and two toilets. Our son slept in the lounge area on a bed settee. There was also a verandah overlooking the gardens, kitchenette with microwave, fridge and oven. We pre-ordered some basics to be there on arrival (bread, milk, cereal, wine!) with 'Garden Grocer' who deliver to a number of properties in the Florida area. Excellent service. The main pool area has a water slide and a jacuzzi and most of the entertainment was centred around here including movies in the evening. There is a quieter pool a little further away. Shuttle buses run frequently (about every 20 minutes) with several stops at this resort to each park and are complimentary if you stay within Disney. The resort is opposite Downtown Disney for great restaurants and shopping – you can easily walk from the hotel around the lake or take a shuttle bus or a water taxi. Our holiday package also included the Disney Dining Plan which is a great idea. On your room card they load your points which automatically get taken off as you go and you have breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks and drinks (soft) in over 200 different eateries wherever you see the sign. This really helped as we found ourselves dining in restaurants we wouldn't normally have been able to afford with no additional cost! I would advise you to pre-book your ADR (Advance Dining Reservation) with Disney online before you travel as most restaurants were full and places like T-Rex or Planet Hollywood were already sold out on the night. Also we bought our park tickets in advance as it’s cheaper and as we are roller coaster crazy we hit all the parks during our stay! Take advantage of the brilliant Fastpass system within the parks and also the Disney Photopass photographers which you can sign up for before you travel. Also we purchased in advance Discovery Cove tickets to swim with the dolphins – this was an amazing day which included breakfast and lunch and if you can buy off peak tickets, well worth the cost as this includes a visit to SeaWorld too. We also visited Kennedy Space Centre and were lucky enough to see Atlantis which had just been moved to the centre. My husband even managed to skydive whilst we were there – all in all a fabulous family holiday! Please give me a call if you need any further information on this area or the places to visit.

My customer stories

Sent by Gail Mullan

Excellent, professional and friendly service. Kay took the effort out of choosing and booking our holiday.

Sent by Elaine Lockley

Kay is ALWAYS very friendly, approachable and extremely helpful, going above and beyond that which is required for her job.

Sent by Sarah Hoff

Kay’s very friendly and efficient, and also provided a few different options to ensure the holiday is the perfect fit for our family. Thank you!

Sent by Sue Jenkinson

Thank you Kay for booking our flights and arranging the mini stopover in Singapore. First class service!

Sent by Gillian Boucher

Very efficient service has allowed me just to sit back and relax even before my holiday starts - so unlike previous holidays!

Sent by Dominique Kelly

We have recommended you Kay, we’ve been so impressed with your service and the fact that you are local is a great advantage as well - thank you so much! I’ve just got the app on my phone and can see the forthcoming Oz flights so that is a great reminder.

Sent by Suzi Greening

Kay was fantastic in offering suggestions based on my enquiry and providing a really quick and efficient service !

Sent by Annabelle White

If the holiday is as good as Kays' service it will all be absolutely perfect!

Sent by Angela Appleby

Kay offers plenty of choices with varying standards and prices. We have been very pleased with all her help regarding our holiday requests, and we would definitely ( and have) recommended her to friends.

Sent by Tanya Anderson

Friendly, attentive personal service. Kay always responds in a timely fashion and is very knowledgeable about all aspects of travel.

Sent by Karen Dixon

Very efficient professional service - would definitely recommend to all family & friends

Sent by Bolle Long

Kay makes booking a holiday stress free! I completely trust her advice and would highly recommend her to anyone who is looking to go away this year.

Sent by Judith Wilkinson

Very accessible and helpful in supporting me in making a decision as to which was the best option for my holiday.

Sent by Julie Hopper

Kay has been fantastic helping me to book a 3 stop family holiday in America. From start to finish she has been really patient , providing different hotel and travel options for each stage of our journey. Kay has made the whole booking process stress free !! Would definitely recommend Travel Counsellors.

Sent by Steve Squires

Thanks again to Kay for organising and making sure our trip to Austria went smoothly. Knowing that she is always there in the background just incase something unexpected crops up is priceless. Her choice of destination and hotel was first class. If you’re looking for someone to take all the hassle out of booking your holidays, then you won’t go far wrong using Kay. Thanks once again.

Sent by Emma Ellis

Absolutely fabulous experience with Kay. Had our dream honeymoon in the USA thanks to you, all aspects were covered and was super easy from start to finish! Won't hesitate to use Kay again and again for future trips! Thank you!

Sent by Elaine Hazell

So helpful & patient. Helped us get all we needed & advised us of the best resorts . Also made sure our layovers between flights were at a minimum. Great service .

Sent by Barbara Hargreaves

So very helpful with obvious detailed knowledge. Everything just feels right first time.. Thank you so much.

Sent by Gavin Pearcey

Have used Kay for many trips, always there for you and never fails us.

Sent by Lee Redford

I have already passed your details on to one of my friends. First Class Service !!!! Thanks Kay

Sent by Denise Venner

Absolutely amazing nothing was too much trouble for Kay she has given us the best holiday, can't wait to go and will definitely be using her again!

Sent by Beth McCarron

Excellent service again. We can’t recommend Kay more highly she’s great!

Sent by Carole Hind

Kay is amazing ! She takes all the hard work on and delivers so quickly!

Sent by William Gridley

So lovely to chat to and to organise the perfect honeymoon. Felt very easy to decide and sort what we are doing and where we're going! Thanks Kay

Sent by Samantha Wade

I can not thank Kay enough for her support and help during all our holiday bookings with her, not to mention the most recent trip. Kay is at the other end of the phone (day and night) and offers the best advice whilst remaining calm and reassuring. Will never book another holiday with anyone else. 100% put our families trust in Kay.

Sent by Jack Hetherington

Already recommended you to friends and family.Excellent service.

Sent by David Snell

Great service - we were given a good range of options and the process was clear and efficient once we decided.

Sent by Denise Tile

I was stressing about booking my trip to New York as I haven’t travelled for some time and the new restrictions seemed daunting. I reached out to Kay for help and immediately I felt the worry lift and in less than 24hrs I was booked on the flight if my choice and in a fabulous hotel. I have recommended Kay’s services to everyone and I know that it is the only way I’ll book in the future. Thank you Kay for a first class service!

Sent by Steve Harris

Extremely efficient, we were recommended Kay from friends and now intend using her for all our travel requirements.

Sent by Lily Smith

So helpful and made finding/booking my holiday so easy, even when flights were cancelled!!

Sent by Tina Dixon

Swift efficient service, excellent checks and follow up to ensure all correct procedures have been followed given the current situation with the pandemic.

Sent by Julia Tanner

Kay is always so helpful and friendly. She always goes the extra mile to accommodate our needs. We would always recommend her to anyone.

Sent by Beth McCarron

Kay goes above and beyond. Very knowledgeable and so helpful.

Sent by Michelle Carroll

Kay is just outstanding at customer service , I have nothing but confidence in her.

Sent by Joanne Casling

Excellent service and third time I've used Kay to book my holidays! So much more convenient and not being very good at technology it's so much easier for me. Everything is done for you.

Sent by Pamela Hume

Kay is fabulous and organised and has done a great job through recent turmoil of Coronavirus. Would definitely recommend she is mega efficient !

Sent by Elaine Hazell

Very patient & helpful throughout. Great personal service !

Sent by Maria Land

Have used Kay several times now, it's just so much easier. Plus she's brilliant!

Sent by Julia Tanner

Kay is always so helpful and listens to exactly what we want and ask for. We have always been so pleased with her recommendations and use her for all our holiday planning and have recommended her to our friends. she is helpful and gives good advice.

Sent by Sue Bullamore

Kay has been amazing. She has gone above and beyond to make sure we have picked the right holiday would highly recommend her to my friends.

Sent by Mark Chambers

Kay is always very accommodating & gets us a really great deal with lots of support & reassurance that if the worst should happen in any way we will be looked after!

Sent by Mark Strode

Kay at Travel Counsellors has always provided us with the best customer service I have ever experienced in the Travel Arena. Always searching out the most suitable holidays with a focus on value for money and customer requirement's.. Definitely recommend Travel Counsellors.

Sent by Julia Laurie

Always great service and a great experience with Kay!

Sent by Sarah-Jane Chambers

I alway recommend Kay to everyone. Kay makes booking anything easy. I leave everything with Kay. Totally trust Kays advice and opinion.

Sent by Julian Wrigglesworth

We give Kay our wish list and every year Kay has managed to deliver, nothing is too much trouble!

Sent by Clare Wareing

So far we’ve experienced amazing bespoke service from Kay (we are very confident that our holiday will be fantastic) Thank you so much!

Sent by Sally Shipley

Most certainly do recommend Kay and her experience with booking a holiday - she is extremely helpful in finding the perfect place. I’ve never had any problems with all our holidays and looking forward to using Kay again.

Sent by June Goodridge

Kay's really on the ball with any requests and offers impartial advice. Any problems sorted immediately when involving other travel companies and airlines. Arranged repatriation when I was taken ill abroad including flight home the following day. She’s a real gem and I recommend her at all times when friends talk about booking holidays.

Sent by Matthew Hartley

Kay was brilliant to deal with and made the process easy and stress free.

Sent by Carole Hind

Kay is brilliant, I will and have recommended her!

Sent by Kelsey Avery

Absolutely superb! Went above and beyond to create a package that fitted us perfectly! Wouldn't hesitate to book again through her! Amazing! Thanks Kay!

Sent by Michelle Carroll

I have used Kay quite a few times now & was first introduced by some friends . I have nothing but praise , Kay takes ALL of the stress out of going on holiday, her service is 100% & she is always available. .I have recommended her to friends & they all say the same . You really are fabulous at your job & your customer service is excellent.

Sent by Clive Groom

Helpful, informative, knowledgeable. In a world short on all of these qualities this was a pleasure.

Sent by Michelle Carroll

Thank you so much once again Kay , just had a fabulous weekend in Nice. Couldn't have asked for more; hotel, location, transfers perfect! Look forward to sorting my next one.

Sent by Jake Raine

My wife and I have just returned from our honeymoon, arranged top to bottom by Kay. She made everything so simple from the moment of enquiring for quotes to the point of our final transfer on the way home! She is always available to help, and the service always feels personal. Even though we encountered a few delays and diversions (airline issues - nothing to do with Kay), we knew everything was taken care of. We would absolutely both recommend Kay to anybody thinking about booking a trip away, and will be making another booking with her hopefully pretty soon.

Sent by Sharon Tait

Once again fabulous personal service from Kay as we head off on a much anticipated trip to Disney World Resort in Florida. Kay has all the information needed to help make a rational decision on the best time to go, and the best value for money with all the potential added complication of Disney Dining and it’s benefits. Thanks again Kay, I’m not sure when we’ll be able to do this again, but if we do you know who’s phone will be ringing!

Sent by Sue Bullamore

Would highly recommend Kay. Just been to New York and had an amazing time, couldn't have done it without her help!

Sent by Roe Sweeney

I've used Kay on a number of holidays and each one has been highly organised from start to finish, Kay gives first class personal & professional service and is available should any unexpected problems arise nothing was to much trouble. I've recommended Kay to family & friends who I know have also used her & been very satisfied .

Sent by Pat Wilson

We like booking our holidays with Kay as it saves a lot of hassle and we know we have the peace of mind that someone is looking after us. We have always had good service and enjoyed our holidays.

Sent by Paul Dixon

Kay offered an excellent service & was more than happy to go the extra mile to “tick the boxes” for my holiday requests.

Sent by Paul Dixon

Kay does a brilliant job, she's patient, listens to what we want. Have used Kay for last 3 holidays. Would and do recommend her 10/10!

Sent by Hilary Walker

My previous Travel Counsellors experience in China booked by Kay was outstanding. So far the arrangements for a walking holiday in Portugal are looking very promising. All tailor made to our requirements.

Sent by Val Allsup

Good and responsive - already recommended to family and friends!

Sent by Ali Knott

Have booked quite a few holidays with Kay now and have always been really impressed. Have recommended Kay to family and friends who have also been delighted with the service they have received

Sent by David Snell

Great service, Kay was very patient with sorting us out options that worked for 2 families needing to depart on different dates and has found something that suits us all. Looking forward to it!

Sent by Claire Hill

Always great service and knowledge from Kay wherever we go on our holidays and I always recommend her to my friends and family!

Sent by Fiona Hogg

It was a great experience from start to finish, thank you

Sent by Anne Radford

Spot on Kay. Couldn’t be more helpful! Thanks for sorting our holiday. Anne.

Sent by Richard Weatherhead

Unlike most travel agents who just want to sell holidays, Kay listens carefully to your requirements and preferences and then comes up with the perfect solution. We are very fussy but nothing is too much trouble for Kay as she patiently looks for and finds the solutions. Highly recommended !

Sent by Mark Strode

Extremely helpful and informative. I always recommend Kay where appropriate to friends and family

Sent by Gavin Pearcey

The Mary Poppins of booking holidays - perfect in every way! Stress free!

Sent by Elaine Lockley

We appreciate the time, effort and consideration that Kay put into the planning of our holiday. She's a gem.

Sent by Carole Hind

You are simply the best!

Sent by Marie-Anne King

Kay is always so helpful and full of ideas!

Sent by June Goodridge

Kay is so professional, amazing and caring and just gets it right every time! 10 out of 10.

Sent by Julia Laurie

Kay is just fantastic! I've said it many times - wouldn't go anywhere else for a holiday booking!

Sent by Will Tait

Brilliant experience made everything easy! Would definitely recommend.

Sent by Julian Wrigglesworth

Nothing is too much for Kay - she is always willing to help and find the holiday we have asked for.

Sent by Annie Monkman

Superb service, helpful, friendly, knowledgeable. Would happily recommend.

Sent by Michelle Carroll

I would just like to say, Kay goes above and beyond to help with bookings and more importantly, she is always available to help with unforeseen issues whilst away. Simply brilliant at her job.

Sent by Lauretta Denton

Kay has been the perfect person for me to contact - tell her what I want and leave it to her to sort out - trouble free - very happy!

Sent by Pamela Hume

Kay has organised our trip to Peru exactly as we requested with efficiency and nothing too much trouble. Can’t wait to travel and has been simplest holiday booking ever. Definitely would recommend and use again myself!

Sent by Paul Dixon

Kay is absolutely brilliant. Answers all our questions. Is patient. Wouldn't use anyone else now and do recommend her all the time. 10/10

Sent by Lindsay Knowles

Absolutely brilliant service, always the best deal for the best experience. I tell everyone I know now about my fantastic Travel Counsellor!

Sent by Paul Dixon

Brilliant Travel Counsellor. Great service, nothing is to much trouble 10/10

Sent by Margo Smith

Extremely helpful!

Sent by Emma Armstrong

It has been an absolute pleasure to seek and use Kay as our Travel Counsellor. She has been so warm and professional and her selections have perfectly matched our expectations. We are so looking forward to our family holiday.

Sent by Debbie Beck

Kay was extremely helpful and quick answering queries and getting the quotes. So far we are very pleased with her service and will highly recommend.

Sent by Helen Sayce

I would highly recommend Kay to others. She has given us an excellent service.

Sent by Lieke Swann

Kay always delivers quickly, efficiently and with a smile.

Sent by Julia Tanner

I have recommended Kay to several people already and they have all been pleased with the service.

Sent by Sandie Frankish

Fantastic service. I have already recommended Kay to a couple of my friends.

Sent by Nicola Morgan-Nash

Thank you so much for arranging our wonderful trip to Venice. The whole break was seamless and well organised by yourself. At Bristol airport the Aspire lounge was a real advantage as it was calm and quiet just what we needed. The hotel was great we had an amazing room and the personal touch of your note on our arrival was a fab way to let us know you were there if needed. It was a fantastic location close to St Marc's square and the Grande Canal equally. The roof top bar was a bonus and served the best Aperol Spritz we had in Venice. Overall the service start to finish was excellent Kay and we are very grateful for your commitment and hard work to make our break special. Many thanks, and we will most definitely be recommending you to our friends.

Sent by Jill Pennock

Kay is always helpful and efficient from booking our holiday to getting home, wouldn’t go anywhere else

Sent by Faye Thompson

Already recommended Kay to others! She’s taken all of the stress out of finding us our first family holiday. We had quite a few specifics due to our 4 year old son and Kay has found what we hope to be the perfect place! Thank you.

Sent by Lauren Hunter

Amazing customer service!

Sent by Victoria German

Kay was lovely to talk to and everything was arranged to our specification. So easy for me! Thank you.

Sent by Caren Emmerson

We have contacted Kay several times now for our holiday requirements both abroad and in the UK and she has been brilliant every time. Thank you Kay.

Sent by Joanne Casling

Absolutely fantastic service and I'll definitely recommend and hope to use Kay's services again very soon! If there are any other ways of me promoting Kay's business please do let me know. I'm looking forward to my break in Ibiza in May very much. Thank you!

Sent by Steve Reid

Kay is absolutely fantastic, understanding, and very patient! I can’t recommend her enough.

Sent by Paul Dixon

Just like to say a big thank you, it was the best. Seating was brilliant, noticed even the aisle seats were bigger than Thomas Cook! And the personal touches i.e. the birthday wishes, the card when we got back. As my wife said how could we book with anyone else after dealing with Kay? We couldn`t!

Sent by Lynda Koral

Takes the hassle out of finding somewhere - excellent service that Kay provides knowing everything is dealt with.

Sent by Viki Parsons

I’ve already recommended Kay to friends, family and colleagues and I haven’t even been on my holiday yet! She made planning and booking my holiday easy peasy. She’s a star!

Sent by Jez Clifford

Kay understood our needs almost instantly, and found us a great deal within days - even working during the weekend. Where we wanted any changes she was more than happy to accommodate, I would have no hesitation in recommending her to others.

Sent by Lynn Merritt

Kay is so efficient. Reply’s to all forms of contact, email, telephone, Facebook messenger within minutes. Always gives options and advice. For me and my family booking with Kay gives me peace of mind as once you have booked your holiday or flight you know you have 24 hour support and emergency contact if needed. Wouldn’t book with anyone else.

Sent by Katie Lennox

Kay is amazing! Very thorough - does all the really annoying bits of going on holiday that you want to forget for you! Literally I think if she could fly there and back for you as well to save you the hassle - she would! Excellent, friendly service - has she won a prize from Travel Counsellors yet - because I think she should! I’ll recommend her to all my friends!

Sent by June Goodridge

Kay is A1 on everything. Totally professional and delivers exactly what we want on everything, to private transfers, special seats and assistance when necessary. She’s the best and I recommend her to anyone contemplating a booking.

Sent by Julia Laurie

Fantastic service as always!

Sent by Stephanie Hodgson

100 per cent! Delighted!

Sent by Julian Wrigglesworth

We have and will continue to recommend Kay to all our family and friends, the service she provides is second to none.

Sent by Lynn Merritt

Kay, thank you so much for arranging flights last minute from UK to NZ. Amazing price. Your a travel consultant that makes you feel that your a priority customer!

Sent by Angela Goring

Kay has been so friendly in her approach and very supportive of our enquiries. She responded to all our questions and requests so quickly and helped us arrange our holiday within 5 days from start to finish! Took all the stress out of it.

Sent by Karen Hague

Kay's friendly and professional service helped us book the ideal flights and hotel for us. We will certainly be using and recommending her services again. Kay was recommended to us by a friend who regularly books holidays through her.

Sent by Lissa Tam

Extremely efficient in coming back to us with a quote! Kay is very approachable/friendly and nice added touch with providing extra detail in options for consideration with our holiday. Thank you for making it so easy Kay!

Sent by Christopher Bell

Excellent holiday searching, help and advice, would use Kay again and recommend friends to use, as I already have!

Sent by Sharon Costello

I believe we have all got a little swayed away from using Agents recently with the belief that if we search long and hard enough we will find "the deal". What we do not take into account is the time and effort this takes which ultimately leads to pressure. What I realized very quickly from dealing with Kay is that travel advisors have all this information at their finger tips and often at a discounted rate to what we can find on line. My recent experience in booking with Kay can be described as Quick, Efficient and Stress Free. One call to pass on my requirements and then she was 'off to work'. Kay secured me my preferred accommodation, flights at my local airport at reasonable times and a price that was more competitive that anything I had see online. So in answer to your question - would I use or recommend Kay .. the only possible answer is DEFINITELY!

Sent by Paula Wootton

I have known Kay for nearly 20 Years and have always recommended her to friends, family and colleagues since she started at Travel Counsellors. I've just used Kay for the first time for my own holiday and oh my Lord. Amazing. Thank you so much Kay!

Sent by Sue Lambert

Just to say a big thank you for arranging our holiday for us you really know your job!!! We had a super time all the travel went like clockwork. Jet 2 very good to travel with. I couldn't believe the change in the hotel it's amazing now - I always liked it but it's really been brought up to date. Also the little touches like welcome back fizz and chocs on arrival, then more fizz on my birthday make you feel good! Great help that you did our boarding passes for us and Jet 2 took our cases from the hotel so we went straight to security at airport. Many thanks again we had a great time and both want to do it again next year!

Sent by Judith Egan

From the start Kay was approachable, responsible and helpful, coming up with suggestions and alternative for us to consider. Once we had decided on our holiday arrangements were promptly put in place and all details explained clearly. The notelet wishing us a happy holiday was a lovely personal touch. Kay was recommended to us by a friend and we can see why she was!

Sent by Jeanette White

A quick and very efficient service. I received my quote within hours of my request. Very impressed.

Sent by Jeremy Pearson

Fantastic service, right from booking holiday and keeping me informed of all the processes.

Sent by Louise Tomlinson

Thank you for the excellent customer service.

Sent by Alison Tubbs

As always, Kay offered a fast and efficient service, finding us a holiday that fits all our requirements at a very reasonable price.

Sent by Michelle Carroll

I have used Kay once before & found her to go that extra mile to help us on a family trip to Florida, which was a fabulous trip & from that have just booked a city break too, very helpful, friendly & happy to advise on anything asked. Thank you Kay

Sent by Jill Pennock

Kay is just so helpful in finding us the right holiday and all the back up that goes with it is excellent.

Sent by Sharon Tait

Always happy with Kay's service and always recommend to friends and colleagues.

Sent by Julie Boggan

Very pleasant and listened to exactly what I needed to book my overseas wedding. Responded very quickly to any of my emails. Would highly recommend.

Sent by Julia Laurie

With Kay it REALLY IS PERSONAL!! Just back from our 4th fabulous holiday as arranged by Kay. Her incredible level of service ensured that our 25th wedding anniversary was so special in every way - with all the stress taken away, we would recommend Kay to anyone!

Sent by Steve Reid

Amazing service! Have recommended to many friends.

Sent by Julia Laurie

Kay is amazing! Having just made our fourth booking with her, I have already referred friends and family to Kay and will continue to do so. Kay gets to know you and makes getting that special holiday so easy with peace of mind that it will always be a wonderful trip - thank you Kay!!

Sent by Graham Taylor

Always cheery, always professional, often working out of hours! A perfect ten!

Sent by Debbie Knight

Fabulous personal efficient and cost effective service above and beyond my expectations. Highly recommended.

Sent by Simon Bell

Always a pleasure to work with Kay - friendly and efficient service handled in a professional manner.

Sent by Caren Emmerson

Kay has been brilliant, giving us lots of options and advice. Will definitely use and recommend Travel Counsellors again. Thank you x

Sent by June Goodridge

Kay is very professional at all times and appears to source a holiday fairly promptly as soon as she is made aware of what you are seeking. Would, and have, recommended her to several friends. First class, hassle free, never any problems or hitches she can't sort out immediately. She's a real credit to Travel Counsellors.

Sent by Lindsay Knowles

Great service, Kay really went the extra mile for us!

Sent by David Dowson

Already have recommended her and will continue to do so. Kay takes all the stress away from booking business and holiday events - gives me time back to do other things I cannot put a value on that!

Sent by Alison Herbert

Kay has been great in the way she has handled our booking and supported us through the process. The follow up has been wonderful and we know that Kay is there if we need any problems fixing or questions answering. We travel at the end of the week hopefully to a perfect holiday!

Sent by Marie-Anne King

Kay has always come straight back to me when I have made contact and has been extremely helpful on all occasions. I would certainly recommend her to anyone.

Sent by Jeremy Pratt

We have used Kay on a number of occasions having previously only ever used high street travel agents. I will not book any future holidays without first asking Kay.

Sent by Christian Minchella

Just wanted to say a huge and massive thank you for everything you did for our trip to Barcelona. It was just amazing and we had an awesome time. The small touches went a long way and the bottle of vino in our room was just brill (we got the upgrade and had the top floor room over-looking Gran Via). Be in touch in the future, and again a massive thanks from us.

Sent by Deborah Vickery

Superb travel booking experience in fact the best we've ever had! Incredibly professional & very patient. Wouldn't hesitate to use Kay again & we've already shown the South African itinerary & price Kay prepared to some close friends who travel a lot & they too were very impressed. Fantastic service thank you.

Sent by Georgina Dale

Second holiday booked with Kay this year as she makes things so easy, with great choices and fabulous customer service!

Sent by Katie Webster

Booking with Kay gives peace of mind for wherever in the world I am travelling. I have booked for work and personal trips and Kay takes care of everything. Any problems that do crop up are resolved without a problem, no matter what time of day or night.

Sent by Maria Land

Kay has arranged many holidays for me and my friends, and I would recommend her services without hesitation. Her attention to detail is outstanding, and her willingness to help and customer service are second to none.

Sent by Vanessa Rowbottom

Kay is extremely professional and helpful. She is always available to speak with to clarify any concerns. A great lady to deal with!

Sent by Johnathan Hogan

Kay was very lovely and put a lot of effort in to helping us choose our holiday, we could not of asked for any one better. We changed our mind several times and this did not bother Kay, she just kept coming up with different ideas for us until we found what we wanted. I have already recommended her to people I know. Thank you

Sent by Lynn Merritt

Took the time to listen and get to know us and what we wanted and arranged our schedule accordingly to our preferences and budget. Managed to arrange out exact dates and fantastic hotels to stay in.

Sent by June Goodridge

Kay is very professional and nothing is too much trouble, even if you change your mind on destination as I did. She's a credit to Travel Counsellors, always smiling and should be the face of your advertising publicity. In fact she's a star!!!!

Sent by Holly Smith

Very helpful every step and hassle free. Great options with lots of details about hotels and resorts. Won't book a holiday any other way now

Sent by Mark Chambers

Great professional service. Takes all the hassle out of booking & guarantees everything is covered so no need to worry about anything!! Thanks Kay!!

Sent by Craig Train

Kay is always very helpful and has had a lot of knowledge about the places I have asked to travel to. Nothing is ever too much. Her service has been great and she is always quick to respond with prices. Kay also looks to find alternatives to the desired destination so gives you plenty of options to look at. All in all we have been very happy with the service we have received from Kay.

Sent by Georgina Dale

Hassle free, great options and amazing, friendly and prompt customer service. I will be using Kay in the future instead of doing it myself!

Sent by Sylvia Fagg

I would always recommend Kay - she is very efficient, professional and always cheerful and happy to help. I really appreciate the personal attention and not have to concern myself with booking online and making mistakes. All my travel arrangements have been dealt with quickly and documents just arrived here. I will always use Kay. Thank you Kay wishing you continued success in your business.

Sent by David Smith

Fantastic service, very swift responses, friendly, helpful and Kay offers really useful advice and suggestions. Tickets and hotels booked very efficiently and lots of good communications along the way all in a very timely manner. What more could you ask for!

Sent by Russell White

Kay was very helpful in arranging accommodation for my group, she could not do enough to ensure we were happy. I was sent links to TripAdvisor to back up her choices. Kay was recommended by my son and I would have no hesitation in using her service again. I will be using Kay again next year for another family holiday.

Sent by Robert Gretton

Kay was fantastic - we swapped and changed our plans and at no point did Kay get frustrated or flustered and what we've ended up with looks to be a once in a lifetime trip. Brilliant !

Sent by Christine Mitchell

Brilliant service and refreshing in this day and age to deal with a human being rather than a long winded answering machine. Nothing is too much trouble - 100% recommend

Sent by Rob Atkinson

Big thank you to Kay for sorting out this holiday at such short notice (less than 24hrs), it made life so easy for us everything was sorted from the check in to the transfers . The holiday itself was fantastic great island, great hotel I totally recommend Kay and Travel Counsellors and look forward to our next holiday.

Sent by Helen Eaden

Thank you so much for all your help in organising our “Euro road trip” – we have had a truly wonderful break and all your hard work has been so appreciated. Paris was blissful – our hotel was really ideal for us and the team there so charming, the TGV a great experience, the car was perfect. Hotel Les Grillons was possibly the loveliest, friendliest and warmest place we’ve ever been welcomed to and then we went on to enjoy a very lazy week near Pietrasanta in Italy, flying home from Pisa today. Obviously will be so happy to recommend you onwards amongst friends and colleagues and will certainly be in touch with you again in the future! Hope you too are having a happy summer and many many thanks again!

Sent by Megan Richmond

Just a quick note to say thank you so much for everything you did for us. We had the absolute best time and loved every minute of the whole holiday. All your little surprises in the room and the postcards just made it even more special for us. When it's time for us to look at going away again I will 100% be using your services again. Once again thank you for making our holiday so special!

Sent by Matthew Tanner

We just wanted to say a big thank you for organizing our honeymoon. It was great! The hotel was fantastic and the views spectacular. Thank you also for the champagne which we enjoyed gazing out over The Danube. Budapest is a beautiful city with plenty to do! We only scratched the surface but definitely want to go back. Thank you again Kay for making everything so memorable for us both.

Sent by Kirstie Train

Kay was very friendly and gave my husband and I a range of holiday selections tailored to what was important to us on our holiday. I would definitely recommend Kay, the service received so far has been excellent.

Sent by Ken Ferrie

Kay, our Travel Counsellor, was very professional in all departments. She delivered everything I asked of her.

Sent by Sylvia Fagg

I already have passed your details to friends. Kay is a very professional delightful and friendly person and is always very prompt and efficient in organising my travel arrangements. I really appreciate having her taking the worry and strain and time away from me knowing that everything will be in order for me to enjoy my travels. Thank you Kay!

Sent by Ann Marie Moment

Kay has been brilliant throughout. We did not have a clear idea when we first approached Kay of suitable destinations for our family holiday. She offered a varied list of possible resorts and board options and guided us through the whole process. We wouldn't hesitate in recommending her to friends and family.

Sent by Trish Ferrie

Just returned from Orlando having booked our holiday through Kay. Thank you so much Kay for making our Jolly so smooth. Nothing was too much trouble and I would certainly recommend you 100% to anybody looking to book a holiday. We will certainly use your expertise for any future hols.

Sent by Joanna Emmerson

Wow that was easy! Kay is a superstar. Just booked a Med cruise for me and my Mum. All transfers and UK accommodation sorted too. Nothing too much trouble and it only took a couple of minutes of my time! Superb service!

Sent by Shaun Beswick

It was a pleasure to deal with Kay regards booking my trip. She dealt with my requests and keep me updated at all times. I am looking forward to my trip and will be speaking to Kay again for any other holiday requests I may have in years to come.

Sent by Julia Cotterill

Kay has been so helpful and we had a wonderful holiday in Istanbul that suited our budget when no other agency could meet our needs. She was our first port of call this year to book a holiday to Rome. We have recommended her to everyone we know!

Sent by Julia Laurie

What can we say? Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! We are back from a fabulous break in Tenerife that did exactly what it said on the tin...but have to say that your extra efforts and personal touches (before, during and on our return) made it extra special! Best wishes for a fabulous and relaxing Christmas in your new home.

Sent by Roz Wilkinson

We found Kay to be totally committed to finding us exactly what we were after. She did not let up I till she offered us the holiday that ticked all the boxes. We would certainly recommend Kay to friends and family. Grateful thanks.

Sent by Julia Cotterill

We had an absolutely amazing time. Istanbul is so wonderful and so much to do there. Everything ran like clockwork thanks to you and the hotel was perfect. Pool and roof terrace idyllic and just what was needed during the heat of the day. Thank you Kay - we have had a perfect holiday!

Sent by Sylvia Fagg

I would really like to thank Kay for all her time and patience in organizing our holiday arrangements. It relieved me of all the stress of filling things in online as I would worry about getting things wrong as I am not the best on the computer! My husband had a heart attack at Christmas so again it was a relief for someone else to sort things out for me. I would also like to mention the screening company who went through the questions slowly and gave me time to answer before rushing onto the next one. I will most certainly use Kay again and recommend her and the service to friends and family. She dealt with me in a very professional, friendly manner and I felt confident in leaving the arrangements with her. A great big thank you Kay, I will be back.

Sent by Beverley Akcay

A personal, speedy, cost effective, friendly experience overall. Kind regards and many thanks for the lovely card and informative documentation.

Sent by Portia Staveley

Thank you Kay for planning, booking, giving advice and adding the personal touch to our holiday. I never thought it would happen but we were close to having to cancel the holiday and then nearly not making it to the airport on time but thanks to Kay for liaising with the airport staff and taking the pressure off we were able to get there! Thanks again! I would certainly recommend.

Sent by Debby York

Great friendly service! Always there to answer queries and very reassuring. I would highly recommend to anyone!

Sent by Emma Wilson

This is the second time we have used Kay's service within a 6 week period having re-booked the exact same location/hotel to return in June 2014. Using Kay's service is total peace of mind knowing that if anything were to go wrong you know you have someone you can trust to sort any issues. She found us a deal within a few hours of my query and was very competitively priced. We booked within 15 minutes of receiving her quote and I would not hesitate in recommending her to friends/family. In fact I already have!

Sent by Vicki Boyer

It's like booking a holiday with your best friend. Very refreshing experience!

Sent by Steve Wood

I find Kay Halton to be friendly, professional, patient and understanding with all the expertise of tailor making holidays to be that extra special. I would book with Kay again and recommend friends and family to do same.

Sent by Karen Furness

Kay was amazing. She listened and tailored my amazing trip to Hong Kong, Sydney, New Zealand - North and South - and Singapore- tours, hotels, everything, to completely fit in with my tastes. I am so impressed by all her suggestions and have chosen every one of them. She has saved me hours of research and with the very best service. Kay is absolutely excellent. With my heartfelt thanks.

Sent by Tony Fawcett

I can highly recommend Kay for organising a holiday. She is very helpful and efficient, she provides a first class service and I will have no problem recommending her services to family and friends. I will use Kay to handle all of my travel plans from now on. Kay takes the hassle out of arranging holidays, and that is worth a lot when you are already busy with your own work. Thank you Kay.

Sent by Davina Honeywood

Reachable at any time, extremely polite, accommodating and genuine. I will definitely be using her again :)

Sent by Chris Ingham

Great service from Kay. She took the stress of booking a holiday away.