Sent by D Hood
Lincolnshire 2/20/2020 9:32:00 AM
Based in Roslin
Hello, my name is Stephanie Green and I am a Travel Counsellor based in Roslin, Edinburgh. I have moved to Scotland from Lancashire with my partner Mark and two beautiful sons. Over the last few years I have travelled here many times and instantly fell in love with the area Mark grew up in, so we took the plunge and moved here as soon as we could.
Travel is one of my passions and I enjoy being able to share this passion with my friends, family and customers. I love to visit new places near and far, to embrace different cultures and even re-visit those places I have been to many, many times before as there is always something new to find. I can spend hours researching the best places to go and things to see for my own holidays and I truly enjoy it, which is what got me into travel to start with, and it makes me happy knowing that I am pouring as much love into your holiday as my own.
I have almost 15 years’ experience in the travel industry and I have been fortunate enough to visit some wonderful destinations, such as the Caribbean, Bali, Malaysia, New York, the UAE, Mauritius and Cyprus to name just a few, and I could talk for hours about them all.
Because of my travelling I believe that having the first-hand experience of hotels and destinations really helps me to give you a more personal, tailor made approach in booking your holiday. I pride myself on being able to give you the very best in customer service when choosing your next trip, be it in the UK, abroad, a wedding or honeymoon, weekend away, family trip or couples retreat. I am here to offer you a seamless, hassle free experience time and time again.
Being a Travel Counsellor allows me the freedom to work around you. I am not bound to the opening hours of a traditional travel agent which means I can be available for you when you most need me, evenings and weekends, daytime, anytime.
Thank you very much for visiting my page and I look forward to being able to help plan your next adventure
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.
10 September 2019
So what is the difference between booking a holiday yourself vs booking the same holiday with me? A number of years ago I had a wonderful couple book their honeymoon with me to Mauritius. I had just visited the island myself and was able to offer them a real, personal overview of the hotels and what they can do - so they booked and I was happy to be a part of it. Fast forward almost a year later when they returned, I gave them a call to see how their honeymoon was and they told me a story that pushes me to be the best I can be, still to this day. They had met up with another honeymoon couple whilst on the plane, where I had pre-booked their seats and arranged a cake and fizz and they also got a shout out from the cabin crew. The other honeymoon couple had done their seats themselves and got the last two together and also didn't get their meal of choice. My honeymooners then got a private, air-conditioned car with ice water and towels to their hotel. The other honeymoon couple had to wait on a hot coach which took much much longer. My honeymooners got the upgraded room with flowers, champagne and a hand written note from me upon arrival to their room. The other honeymooners got nothing as no one had told the hotel it was a special occasion. My honeymooners had a surprise sunset catamaran cruise due to our amazing relationship with the hotel. The other honeymooners got nothing. My honeymooners had been pre-booked on a private beach dinner. The other honeymooners couldn't book on the night as it was full. My honeymooners had prior knowledge before travel of all excursions which were then booked before they left the UK, making sure they secured a place. The other honeymooners had to search for hours to get this information and were not aware to pre-book and were left disappointed on a number of occasions. Thankfully everything went perfectly but my honeymooners had my direct phone number to hand and knew I would be there to help with any issues or to book any extra excursions. The other honeymooners had no one to fall back on if their flights were delayed or to ask for help if anything needed changing. Now I am aware that my services may not be suited for everyone and that's fine. However what I do offer is a level of service that you just won't get from a computer. A computer won't know this is your dream holiday. It won't understand that certain things book up quickly like seats, meals and excursions. It won't realise that those little extras like upgrades, flowers and champagne will make you feel so special after a long flight. A computer doesn't have feeling and will not be able to empathise with you when spending what could be a huge amount of money on something you are unsure about. A computer does not offer a personal service and will certainly not be there to help if something goes wrong. I felt amazing when they were regaling me of their amazing time and how perfect it was, but then at the same time I felt a little sad for the other couple, who, don't get me wrong, probably had a great time too, but all of those little things they missed out on could have made it even more amazing. So from then, my promise to myself and all of my customers out there is that I will push myself to be the best I can be so your holiday is the best you will ever have, each and every time. This is why I am now self employed and so happy that I can offer this service without question to each and every person that I speak to and that books with me. You work hard and save hard for your holidays, don't let a computer make it mediocre, let me make it the holiday of your dreams.
18 July 2019
I LOVE Mauritius. I visited several years ago and was lucky enough to visit the entire island and a number of amazing hotels. I have also been offering and selling Mauritius for my entire travel career. When you think of the perfect holiday, Mauritius should come up at the top of the list. Mauritius is a tropical island in the Indian Ocean, roughly 12 hours from the UK. You can fly direct or use many options for indirect flights, and they are only 3hours ahead of GMT, so no nasty jetlag. As it is a tropical island you can expect the usual tropical weather and temperatures all year round. Between the end of October – April/May, Mauritius is hot, but you will see more rain. From April/May – October/November the temperature is slightly cooler, but less rain. I visited in November and loved having 26-28degree heat alongside some fantastic warm burst of rain that cleared the humidity. The hottest months are December – February, which are also the wettest, but I wouldn’t let the rain put you off too much. Mauritius offers more than just beautiful beaches, there is so much to do and see (if you want to of course), you will be spoilt for choice. Activities on land • Hike through the Black River Gorges National Park or La Vallée de Ferney. • Go horse-riding along the beach at Riambel, up to the summit of Le Morne Brabant. • Take in a bird's-eye view of the island, zip-line over the treetops at Casela World of Adventures, or try canyoning on one of the circuits. Water-based activities • Many of the main resorts offer stand-up paddle-boarding, wind-surfing and kayaking, with many of the main tourist centres offering jet ski rental and parasailing. • Unique to Mauritius, Seakarting gives intrepid riders the chance to drive their own speedboat from Black River to explore the breath-taking coastline from Flic en Flac to Le Morne. • Surfers should also head to the south of the island to catch the best breaks, while kite surfers will prefer the calmer waters of Kite Lagoon on the western side of Le Morne Peninsula. • There’s plenty of opportunities to spend a day on the water, with yachts and catamarans available to rent for sailing and fishing expeditions. Non-sailors can join a cruise to explore the coastal islets, which often have lunch on the beach included. Experience the marine life • The warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the island’s coral reef also provide a playground for adventure lovers with fascinating snorkelling opportunities. Many resorts have PADI dive centres with sites for everyone from novice to experienced divers, and the fringing reef a few hundred metres from the shore provides a calm and safe training spot for novices. There are numerous shipwrecks and vast caverns to explore, offering an unforgettable adventure for the expert diver. • Try the Blue Safari submarine rides, or take advantage of a rare opportunity to take an undersea walk on the ocean bed. Sea walkers wear a special helmet connected to breathing apparatus, meaning you don’t even have to remove your glasses! The cuisine of Mauritius is a mix of Indian, Creole, French and Chinese, with many dishes unique to the island. Spices are also a big part of Mauritian cuisine and I enjoyed trying so many new foods on my stay – my favourite was freshly caught lobster with palm heart salad, absolutely delicious. There are many amazing hotels where you can dine, from fine dining to buffet, but if you get chance I would recommend a trip up north to Grand Baie and try as much of the local cuisine as you can. So, you now know what to do when you visit, but where to stay? There are a lot of hotels on offer, ranging from small, boutique hotels, family all inclusive, colonial style properties, golf hotels, hotels with excellent water sports on offer, romantic options for weddings or honeymoons, villas with pools or stunning palm fringed 5-star hotels. There is something for every taste, every budget and everyone wanting to visit, and after visiting nearly 30 hotels, I am confident I will be able to match you with the best hotel for you. Personally, I love the Beachcomber properties, Lux, Constance, Four Seasons and Shangri La – but my favourite hotels are Lux Le Morne, Paradis Beachomber Resort and Spa and 20 Degrees Sud. If you don’t want your holiday to end, (who does?), how about extending your stay by adding on another destination? Mauritius is ideally placed to twin centre with some amazing places. I would recommend Dubai or South Africa as a perfect addition to your Mauritius holiday. If you’d like more information on Mauritius please get in touch. Stephanie Green – Travel Counsellor 0131 224 0000 email@example.com www.facebook.com/stephaniegreentravelcounsellor
03 April 2019
Walt Disney World has always been on my travel bucket list, ever since I was a child, watching and re-watching the free VHS (there’s a throwback) that came in the post after I begged my mum for after watching an advert on TV. My mum must have known that we would never get to Florida whilst I was still young enough to enjoy it but got me the VHS anyway. From there my love for Disney has grown, and yet I have still not yet visited any of the parks! I have however been an avid travel agent for Disney (or most commonly known at Disney, an Authorised Disney Vacation Planner) and I have brought the magic to countless families over the years. This has got me thinking about the minefield that is booking Disney. It might look easy, there is the Cinderella Castle and Main Street, but what about the rest of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Springs and Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and then the water parks? Don’t forget the many different ways you can choose to eat, what is the difference between Quick Service and Deluxe Dining? From themed meals to quick bites. Do you know what a fast pass is and why some people get 60 days and others 30? And that is only the beginning! There is so much to booking a Disney holiday and the worst thing would be to get it wrong, let me take the stress and countless options away and come back to you with a perfect, magical package that will leave you and your family with lifelong memories. A good tip is to pick your dates wisely. Disney is busy year-round, but there are certain times throughout the year that get even busier, so it is best to do some research (or come to me) and work out the very best time of year to go. Recently one of my customers saw a waiting time of over 4 hours for just one popular ride! Most school holidays are busy, this cannot be avoided for most families, but weekends and Mondays especially are worse for this. Use this time to plan a chill out day by the pool or a water park, visit some of the other incredible attractions in and around Orlando and avoid the overcrowding of the main parks. Also be aware of US holidays which can have a huge effect on the crowds. And its not just the crowds you need to be aware of, the heat in the height of summer can reach 35 degrees, which can make walking around the parks quite uncomfortable (but great for the water parks). A great time to visit is in October/November its not too hot, and you will be able to visit in time for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, this is an even not to be missed. Likewise, for Christmas you have Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party which could make even the biggest Scrooge feel festive. Highly recommend both. So why stay in a Walt Disney Resort? – Staying on site in one of the Disney Parks gives you those little extras you cannot get by staying elsewhere. Extended Theme Park Hours – With the Extra Magic Hours, each day one of the Disney Parks is open an hour early or stays open up to two hours later, so those staying in Disney Hotels can enjoy the fun for longer. Disney Dining Plans - This is exclusive for Disney Hotel guests and is a great way to pre-pay your meals, so no worrying about the bill at the end of your stay. You will have access to over 100 restaurants across WDW. There is a choice of Dining Plan to suite all budgets and requirements. Disney Fastpass+ Planning- Only guests at WDW hotels get up to 60 days prior to arrival to reserve Disney FastPass+ attractions, shows and more. If staying off resort you will only get up to 30 days, potentially missing out on some of the more popular attractions. Magic Bands - These are brilliant! The Magic Bands unlock your hotel room door, allow you to check-in at the Fastpass+ entrance for the attractions and entertainment selected, make payments in shops and restaurants and they also link to the Disney Photo Pass on your account – and they can be customised! No need to carry around large bags with money, just wear your Magic Band and you are free to enjoy your time. Free WIFI - Disney guests get free WIFI, which in this day and age is required! Need to keep up with Facebook? Posting family photos on Instagram or perhaps just quickly checking your emails? – although you are in the most magical place on earth… so perhaps not emails. Either way, you can throughout your hotel free of charge. Complimentary Transport- This is a great service. You can get picked up from the airport, taken to your hotel and your luggage will be taken directly to your hotel room. Then you have the unlimited usage of the boats, busses or monorails whilst in WDW all day long. The types of accommodation vary greatly too. From the Disney Value Resorts, right through to Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe Villas, there is something to fit everyone’s budget and taste. My biggest tip for anyone going to Walt Disney World is to plan, plan and then plan. Once you have decided on your dates, hotel, dining plan and have everything booked – get planning. This will make your holiday so much easier and you will get to see everything you want whilst you are there. I have had customers who visit without a plan and those with an hour by hour plan and I can tell you that those that have at least some form of daily plan are always happier than those who choose to wing it. There is so much to see and do it can almost feel overwhelming. Plan which park on which day and which attractions you would like to visit. Using your FastPass+ really helps with this. Group the rides that are close together too, less walking around and less time in the sun waiting. Download the Disney App, this is a great tool for planning your stay and you can use this in resort to check new FastPass availability. You can also view the bus times too. If you have the time, try and block out a day for a relaxing around the pool or at a water park, or even hire a car and visit some of the local areas or take a spot of retail therapy, a day off the parks isn’t the end of the world and your feet will thank you for it. If you are heading over to Disney for a special occasion, make sure to tell me about it and then when you are there pick up a badge reflecting your occasion. You will find that you may receive special treatment and attention ?? Especially for a proposal. This only just covers the basics of Walt Disney World – it is huge and 100% worth a visit. I will get there one day, but for now I am loving booking my customers on their magical, memorable holidays.
21 September 2018
II think a lot of us can be found guilty of spending a little too much time looking at our smart phones, watching TV or checking our emails until late at night. How about switching off and having a digital detox at some of the most beautiful destinations around the world? Here is a guide to some of my favourite hotels where you can truly unplug from modern life. Denis Island – Seychelles This beautiful private island in the Indian Ocean boasts 375 picturesque acres of coconut palms and is fringed with flawless white sands. When you arrive at Denis Island you won’t find a mobile phone signal, in room internet access or cable television which means you really are away from digital distractions, somewhere you can immerse yourself in total relaxation and rejuvenation. To me that sounds like utter perfection. On this gorgeous island you will find 25 private, detached cottages ranging from a beach cottage set directly on your own private beachfront, beachfront spa cottages with your own private sala and daybed, to a beach villa which offers a private beachfront with outdoor living and a private plunge pool. Here you don’t have to imagine being able to take your spa treatments in your own garden or taking a stroll down the beach to watch sunset before dinner, as it is something you can do every day if you so wish, much more enticing than sitting in-front of a screen or staring down into a mobile phone. For such a small island you’d be surprised to discover just how many different things you can get up to, from snorkelling, swimming and diving to cycling around the island looking for the century-old tortoise. My personal favourite would be watching the baby turtles hatch out of the sand and being released into the sea, or perhaps having an outdoor spa treatment underneath the casuarina trees, listening to the lapping waves. Why choose Denis Island? * A completely private coral islet of 375 acres, exclusively reserved for guests to share with nature * Extraordinarily safe, whether roaming the island or swimming in the calm lagoon * A paradise for lovers, ideal for weddings and special occasions in nature’s splendour * Perfect for groups, with the possibility to book out the entire island for total privacy Palm Island Resort - The Grenadines Palm Island Resort is a stunning tropical island getaway, accessible only by boat, located on the southern tip of St Vincent and the Grenadines. This is an amazing destination where the emphasis is on the natural beauty of the island without outside distraction, so televisions, CD players and telephones are not in the rooms, perfect for really switching off from daily life. Here you will find 43 different types of accommodation, from charming tropical Palm View Rooms overlooking the pool or the lush gardens, Island Lofts – three of which are perched above the ground on stilts, to stunning cliff villas offering panoramic ocean views and private pools. Each one beautiful in its own right, but my favourite is the superior beach front room which is set on the beach with direct access from the terrace and also has an amazing walk-in rainfall shower. This all-inclusive resort offers many activities such as picnic lunches where you can enjoy a lunch time break on one of the more remote beaches on the island, afternoon tea, nature trails, cycling, crab racing and many more, further afield excursions. Go on, surrender your gadgets, put your feet in the sand and enjoy some time reconnecting with your loved one, with nature and ultimately with yourself – you’ll thank me for it. Why choose Palm Island Resort? *An exclusive, private island resort on Palm island which offers seclusion and that much wanted break, away from technology. *To maintain Palm Island's peaceful and romantic atmosphere, they do not accept children under the age of 16 for part of the year. * Getting to Palm Island is an adventure, you will connect from St Lucia or Barbados over to Union Island, then you’ll hop in your boat for a short ride over to Palm Island where your welcome cocktail awaits. * An incredibly romantic destination to get married or enjoy your honeymoon
21 September 2018
Soneva Fushi – Maldives Soneva Fushi is the very essence of barefoot luxury with Robinson Crusoe simplicity and their amazing ‘no news, no shoes’ policy really allows you to switch off from normal daily life. This island is incredible and by far the one place in the Maldives that is on my travel bucket list (I shall entertain you with that blog soon). The accommodation ranges from a 1-bedroom Crusoe Villa with powder white sand at your feet, an outdoor shower and rope-tied gangway to your very own tropical terrace. At a modest 235sqm this is the perfect villa for a family of four where you can look out onto the beach, take breakfast together in your terrace or step into the turquoise Maldivian sea, just moments from your villa. You can also find plenty of two 6-bedroom villas, plenty big enough for the entire family to enjoy a true rustic getaway. To put this in perspective, the 6-bedroom villa is an impressive 2,250sqm and includes open air bathrooms with waterfalls, personal steam room, sauna and massive swimming pool and to top it off you own private wine cellar. I couldn’t think of anything more amazing! If that’s not enough room for you, how about the incredible private reserve? This is a 9-bedroom tropical playground at a whopping 5,540sq. With the master suite having its own private pool, kids’ rooms and a room for the nanny if required, an enormous pool with its own water slide (yes, I know, how amazing) and sunken sitting area, you can sink into bliss here in no time. Forget about social media, turn off your emails and unwind with your nearest and dearest and enjoy everything Soneva Fushi has on offer. If you can peel yourself away from your villa then take a look at some of the memorable experience available to you. To further your castaway experience, take Sonu’s Picnic on a pristine desert island surrounded by a crystal clean lagoon where you can snorkel up an appetite. If you fancy something a little different, how about learning to blow glass in the glass art studio? A very different activity, great for adults and kids and you get to take home your creation at the end of your stay. The one experience that entices me the most is gazing at the stars in The Observatory with the resident astronomer. With a state-of-the-art telescope and 3D astronomy you will be able to discover more than just a tropical island on your stay here. Why choose Soneva-Fushi? *Unpretentious luxury hidden amongst the foliage of the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. *’No news, no shoes’ philosophy where you hand over your shoes upon arrival * Soneva was the very first ‘castaway’ resort in the Maldives, setting the trend for the back-to-nature and digital detox holiday * Brilliant for all the family. The Den is a playground for the imagination with a pirate ship, two swimming pools, Lego room, cinema and gardens with bunnies and lizards – plenty to keep the younger ones happy. Wolwedans – Namibia Wolwedans is not a traditional hotel, it is a collection of beautiful, eco-friendly camps located in the heart of the NamibRand Nature Reserve in southern Namibia. All camps were built with the environment in mind and are almost self-sustaining using solar power, water treatment, recycling and growing nearly all produce that is used. Each camp has been carefully positioned to offer incredible views of the surrounding area, and with the rooms being built with poles, elevated wooden decks and roll-up canvas walls, you can get the opportunity of a lifetime to see every inch of this amazing desert from the comfort of your own bed. This really is the ultimate destination to disconnect from technology, reconnect with nature, reduce stress and give your brain a break from all things digital. Reclaim your time and enjoy the amazing experiences on offer here for you, not just for a good Instagram post (which I’m sure most of us can be found guilty of). At Wolwedans you will find a selection of Lodges, Suites and Camps all with beautiful views, huge comfortable beds with thick, warm duvets for the chilly desert nights and solar-heated showers. Enjoy reading on your deck, laze away in a hammock or take a walk in the quiet and idyllic valley. Dine by candlelight and enjoy the amazing homegrown foods paired with excellent local and South African wines. Have an in-depth conversation whilst enjoying the night sky, take a hot-air balloon ride over the desert or horseback riding over the dunes of NamibRand. Or how about a scenic drive over the wilderness? Learn about the local geology and watch the sunset over the desert before you return to the lodge for your fantastic four-course dinner. After reading through the amazing activities on offer here, I’d be happy to leave my phone behind and truly immerse myself into desert living. There can’t be anything better in life than to switch off, get back to nature and slow things down. All of this can be (and probably should be) done at Wolwedans. Why choose Wolwedans? *The NamibRand Nature Reserves’ main objective is for conservation of the beautiful land and only allows a certain number of guests at a time. * You can ‘adopt a fairy circle’ * NamibRand Nature Reserve is Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve, meaning the night sky is exceptional and one of the darkest you will most likely see. * The Reserve is a safe haven for the likes of oryx, springbok, zebra, giraffe, bat eared fox and the African wildcat. There are also around 170 bird species that have been identified here. There are many other places where you can take time away from technology, but these are some of my personal favourite. The one thing I hate the most is going on holiday and feeling like I need another one straight after I return, and I came to realise that I am doing pretty much the same thing, just in a different location. I still have my mobile phone, sometimes my laptop, but always logged into social media. I never truly feel rested after a holiday...or as much as I probably should! The next time I go away I am taking a camera and leaving my phone locked away. I will switch off from social media and leave the laptop at home, surely not many people are going to care if I don’t constantly check-in or post pictures every night? It’s time to enjoy your holidays to the fullest. Capture the memories for yourself, not for others, and get to that point where you feel refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed when you come home. It can’t be that hard can it?
09 September 2018
The United Arab Emirates is an increasingly popular destination for travellers, most commonly Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I’ve been to Dubai and loved it, so I wanted us to try something new and decided on Ras Al Khaimah. One of the seven Emirates that makes up the United Arab Emirates, Ras Al Khaimah is fast becoming a popular place to visit in the area. It is very different to the likes of Dubai, it is much more laid back with plenty of traditional activities such as camel racing and falconry, and offers beautiful beaches, mangroves, rugged mountains and sandy deserts. It is easy to get to, Ras Al Khaimah has its own airport, but there’s a choice of flying into Dubai or Abu Dhabi and having a slightly longer transfer. We flew into Abu Dhabi with Etihad and found the transfer to be wonderful. Being able to see the skyscrapers of Dubai, the supercars driving past and getting a glimpse of the Burj Al Arab and the Atlantis Palm hotels was a great way to start the holiday. We chose to stay in two hotels, the first being the Double Tree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjan Island, and what a great hotel this is. My family were welcomed instantly with a smile and taken to the check in desk, checked in straight away and given a drink and one of their signature warm chocolate chip cookies. As our flight arrived quite early our room wasn’t yet ready, but the hotel offered us complimentary breakfast and stored our luggage. After breakfast we were found by reception and taken to our room. We had a ground floor junior suite which had a wonderful terrace with direct access out towards the pool and part sea views and was perfectly placed under a few palm trees to keep the midday sun off the terrace. The hotel also offers Bay Club rooms which are in a separate building, upgraded facilities and have access to a private part of the beach, infinity pool, exclusive restaurant, nightclub and the adult’s waterpark. The beach here is beautiful and lovely water to swim in. There are also several pools to choose from, one with huge dark wood cabanas, but all with plenty of sunbeds to use. The kids pool is fantastic, covered by a canopy to keep the sun away from delicate skin, an outdoor play park, which was mostly used in the evening when it was cooler and the brilliant pirate boat aqua zone which is a mini water park for kids. There is also a brilliant kids club with plenty of activities to keep the younger ones entertained. Our second hotel was The Ritz Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach, formerly known as the Banyan Tree RAK. What a resort – from the minute we arrived at the jetty to meet our private boat over to the resort, to the amazing service on the morning we left, every second here was exceptional. This resort is on a private stretch of white sandy beach with just 32 villas. The food here was top quality, along with the service. I have an allergy and the moment we checked in, it seemed all the staff already knew and mentioned it at every opportunity, so I didn’t have to. It made my dining experience the best I’ve had in a long time. The villa we had was just beautiful, a huge four poster bed in the centre of the room, gorgeous open plan bathroom and a fully stocked mini bar. Just wonderful. To top it off, we had our own private infinity pool next to the outside bathroom and day beds, and private beach cabana with lovely ocean views. Everything about this resort was perfection and I would go back any day. Overall the accommodation was brilliant and there is so much to see and do in Ras Al Khaimah. I would recommend a desert safari with a Bedouin overnight experience, a visit to the Al Hamra Mall or for the thrill seekers out there take a flight on the world’s longest zip line up in the Jebel Jais Mountains.
08 September 2018
The beautiful city of York has always been a favourite UK destination of mine for so many reasons and I have been visiting almost yearly since I was 5 years old. When I was about 8, visiting over Christmas with my family, my grandad wanted to visit the museum but didn’t know where it was. No one else wanted to trudge over the city in the snowy weather except me, an 8-year-old tour guide, who took my grandad to the museum knowing exactly which way to go like the map was printed on the back of my hand. To this day I still know my way around very well and love visiting every time. I have stayed in numerous locations and accommodation types and I do really enjoy staying city centre, although I wouldn’t be opposed to staying in one of the local villages in the York area. Pocklington is a charming village about 30 minutes away from the centre of York and is an ideal place to stay if you want to visit for more than a few nights. I stayed one winter in a beautiful lodge which had its own hot tub and was fortunate enough to have snow which made everything very picturesque. As it was in a quiet location there was a lot of wildlife to be seen, from birds to foxes and deer. If staying city centre is what you are looking for, then the Hotel Indigo is a great hotel choice. It is about a 5-10-minute stroll from the centre of York, has wonderfully decorated rooms and a fantastic restaurant to dine in. I stayed in the standard double room and had dinner here on my first night and would go back in a heartbeat. Parking was only around the corner and worked out affordable for two nights parking within the city walls. Just around the corner from the hotel is York Castle and the York Castle museum, both worth a visit. Just opposite the Castle you will find the Hilton Hotel, which has amazing views of the castle if you were looking for something extra special. There is also a handy Wetherspoons two minutes away which is great for a huge breakfast before a full day of sightseeing. Any visit to York would not be complete without visiting York’s gothic style cathedral church, better known as York Minster. This is a magnificent medieval church took over 250 years to build and sits above the ruins of the ceremonial centre of the old Roman fortress. The church is fully operational and runs services and events, but is free for general visiting and well worth an hour or so to really take everything in. The beautiful stained-glass windows, the restoration and the underground remains are fantastic to delve into. There are a great many places to eat and drink within the walls, I have only begun to scratch the surface. I would recommend a visit to the Evil Eye Lounge if you fancy a cocktail. It is set behind a Gin shop and they specialise in amazing, tasty cocktails with a lovely outdoor sitting area. For good food, head to Kennedy’s Bar and Restaurant, a stylish and modern restaurant with amazing burgers. There is also The Golden Fleece, which is known to be the most haunted pub in York, and the famous Betty’s Tea rooms for a spot of afternoon tea – pre-booking is a must. You can find many quaint shops and boutiques down the Shambles which was voted Britain’s most picturesque street and you can certainly see why with the cobbled streets and lopsided, fifteenth century buildings leaning into the street. To keep the kids entertained, take a visit to the Jorvic Viking Centre which will take you on a journey through the reconstruction of Viking-Age streets and experience life as it would have been in 10th century York (including the smell). Or perhaps take a tour at York's Chocolate Story where you can discover chocolate's origins, how to make it and how to taste it like an expert (and then get your own from the amazing shop). The National Railway museum is also a great day out for families with so much to see and do. York City is a destination that will cater to everyone’s requirements. Perfect for a couple’s weekend retreat, hen and stag do’s, family holiday or a quick one-day shopping visit with great train links or a visit to the McArthur Glen outlet shopping centre just outside the walls. There is so much more to do here than I can possibly put down on paper. For any more information, inspiration or help booking your stay in York, please give me a call and I’d be delighted to help point you in the right direction for your holiday.
03 September 2018
I visited the little Caribbean island of Anguilla back in 2009, and after visiting multiple beach destinations since Anguilla, I still stand by that it has the best beaches that I have ever seen. Powder white sand and sparkling turquoise sea with vibrant coral reefs, just beach perfection. However, there is more to this beautiful island than just dreamy beaches, and here is why I would recommend a visit It is so easy to island hop from Antigua, St Maarten, St Kits and Puerto Rico. I flew into Antigua and connected over to Anguilla, on a rather small aircraft, but I was able to view the stunning Caribbean islands as we flew overhead. As soon as we landed I found Anguilla to be a friendly, welcoming island and I couldn’t wait to explore. The best hotel I visited was Cap Juluca. This exquisite hotel is situated on a perfect white sand beach and is only five minutes away from the airport. Each of the 66 rooms and 42 suites offers ocean views and some have their own private pools. Not only that, all guests get their own beach chaise lounges with umbrella and table, chaise-side food and drink service, complimentary chilled towel, bottled water and sorbet throughout the day and access to five cabana bars along the beach – perfect for that relaxing luxury holiday. The local food in Anguilla is roadside barbeque which are most popular of a weekend. Chicken and ribs are a fantastic option and one of the best barbeques I visited was Big Jim’s at Blowing Point. There is also a great barbeque on a tiny coral island called Scilly Cay which is in Island Harbour. This was built by a former tennis champion and continues to be a longstanding icon in Anguilla. I had some of the best fresh lobster here and highly recommend a hop over for the day. As Anguilla is still very much unspoilt, the snorkelling and diving here was fantastic. I got to see some amazing coral reefs when snorkelling, so I can only imagine the underwater beauty that can be found when scuba diving. Going back to the beaches, there are 33 pristine beaches on Anguilla and there is one to suite everyone. Shoal Bay was my favourite as it was slightly busier and had beach bars dotted along the shore which served a mean rum punch, but there are quieter options such as Rendezvous Bay and the secluded coves at Little Bay. All the beaches are public and unspoilt, postcard perfect and not as tourism-driven as many other islands in the Caribbean. If you’re looking for somewhere that offers great food, multiple stunning beaches and a great mixture of relaxation and activities, Anguilla could be the Caribbean island for you.
19 August 2018
After doing a survey on social media to find out if people prefer a city break or a beach holiday, it got me thinking, why not do both? There are so many options to do a city break along with a beach holiday and I want to share one of my favourite twin centre breaks I have done. In 2010 I visited Bali and Kuala Lumpur and what an experience it was. I had never been overly interested in either destination, but I am so glad I have been to both and would not only love to go back, I can now easily recommend as a fantastic holiday. I went in November, which I found was a good time of year to visit. It was warm and not quite in the heavy rainy season so only met with a few heavy showers over the 10 days I was there. After a long, but comfortable flight with Malaysian Airlines I arrived in Kuala Lumpur which was a very nice, clean and well laid out airport and it was easy enough to transfer to the next flight onwards to Bali without getting lost. Arrival into Bali was also seamless and was a nice start to the trip. I was fortunate enough to visit several hotels, but my favourite is the Kupu Kupu Barong Villas & Tree Spa by L’Occitane. This resort is set in the forest of Ubud on the slopes of Mount Agung, which offers some of the most spectacular views from the rooms and restaurants. I had my very own private pool villa which was traditional Balinese architecture with thatched roofs, beautiful local art inside and the view over the forest was just breath-taking. It was so serene. I spent two luxurious days in Ubud before travelling down to the beach to experience a totally different side of Bali. I moved on to the Oberoi Bali which is in Seminyak, a much busier location with plenty of local restaurants, shops, bars and clubs to visit. I had dinner one night at the Samaya Bali which was a short ride down the road and got to try some delicious local dishes and cocktails overlooking the ocean. Breakfast at the Oberoi is still one of my favourites I’ve had. Set up on the beach, listening to the water on the shore whilst having pancakes and waffles with so much fresh fruit and juice. After a fantastic time in Bali I then flew back up to Kuala Lumpur for two nights at the Shangri La. What a total change of pace from the relaxing time in Bali. Kuala Lumpur is a wonderful city and I wish I could have seen more. The Shangri La was a very comfortable hotel in a great location, minutes away from the famous Petronas Twin Towers. Plenty of shopping, restaurants and bars in the area along with easy access to transport to get around the city. The Shangri La has a great restaurant called the Lemon Gardens, highly recommend this even if you’re not staying at this hotel. Bukit Bintang is the shopping and entertainment district in the city and has a mixture of high end brand names, local street food and entertainment. Definitely a must visit on any trip to Kuala Lumpur. Things I learned on my trip – I would do the city first next time. I personally prefer the busy stay at the start of my holidays. Bali is so diverse with many different locations and hotels, do at least two hotels in different areas so you can really see what the island has to offer. I would highly recommend Ubud, even if it’s just a day tour. Brand name drinks and alcohol are expensive in Ubud Most restaurants have free Wi-Fi
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