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Introducing Cruise Specialist Claire











Having worked in travel for 13 years I have spent the last 5 years working as a cruise specialist. I have helped to create many unforgettable experiences for first time cruisers and seasoned sailors. From two night breaks to round the World Voyages there are many cruises available to suit all needs, whether you are a single passenger, a couple, a family or a group. 
I also have experience of arranging weddings at sea.



Cruising is the perfect way to wake up every day and enjoy a different view and explore numerous destinations during one holiday. Like people ships come in all different sizes, small, intimate, family-friendly, large, formal and informal, lively, adults-only – there are ships suitable for every different type of clientele.
For those of you who haven’t cruised before there’s a preconception that it’s like a ferry - saying this to a cruise specialist is like calling butter margarine!
A ferry is a form of transport, a cruise ship on the other hand (and I hasten to add ship, not boat) is an ocean liner, a floating hotel. Pure luxury and indulgence from the moment you step on board to the moment you step off.

With staff who are trained to the highest calibre, staterooms designed for rest and relaxation, facilities to enjoy whatever your pleasure and food in its plenty to tickle your tastebuds. With an array of entertainment on board from West End and Broadway style shows, to music acts, comedians, tribute acts, line dancing, singing lessons and bingo to name just a few. A cruise has something to offer for everyone.




For those of you who have been on a cruise before there is always something new to experience, a new ship, a new port to visit – maybe the delights of Turkey, the Beautiful Baltic, the Majestical Mediterranean, the Prestigious Panama or the highlights of the Hawaiian islands, the world is your oyster. With my expertise and knowledge I am always able to find something that matches my client’s requirements.  

As well as booking numerous voyages for my clients I keep my knowledge updated with the various training programmes that Cruise Lines offer. With P&O, Princess and Cunard I am a member of their Training Academy at the highest level of Commodore. This gives my clients peace of mind, they are in the best hands and booking assurance that their reservation has been dealt with to the highest of standards. With Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruise Lines I have received Admiral Status which again, is the highest level of their training program.

I, myself have sailed on and visited many ships – 

P&O – Ventura & Azura 
Both family friendly large ships – great for those new to cruising. Ventura is particularly great for the children with Noddy and Mr Bump on board.

Royal Caribbean - Allure of the Seas & Brilliance of the Seas 
Allure of the Seas us the largest cruise ship in the world. Both ships are suitable for everyone. With surf machines and rock climbing walls on some of the ships in the fleet it makes them attractive to the adventurous person.

Cunard, Queen Mary 2 
Cunard are a traditional luxury cruising with White Star Line heritage. The Queen Mary 2 does a number of transatlantic voyages which makes visiting New York appealing to those who aren’t so keen on flying.  Sailing from New York to Southampton is also a good way to avoid the jet lag of flying as sailing back over a number of time zones means you only loose an hour a day rather than five hours in one go!

Princess, Crown Princess 
Princess Cruises are an American cruise Line, promoting American style luxury. With an abundance of ships in the fleet there is almost certainly one in each area of the world, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Regent Seven Seas, Voyager 
Regent Cruises are a cruise line who are informal and have smaller ships in their fleet.

Oceania, Marina 
Oceania are a ultra-luxurious all inclusive cruise line.
Along with the above cruise lines and ships I have great knowledge of other lines and vessels.

Celebrity Cruises 
A cruise line for those who like the finer things in life.  A touch of luxury with elegance, style and sophistication, renowned for its fine wine and dining.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) 
A cruise line, with a freestyle ethos.  With NCL there are no formalities, no dress codes & no set dining times. NCL are fantastic for those who just want to come and go as they please.  For the single passenger they also offer some very good prices.

Silversea 
A cruise line who are inspired by the golden age of cruising.  With a sophisticated ambience on board and elegant designs, you’ll be surrounded by modern elegance and timeless glamour.

If an ocean voyage doesn’t float your boat then why not dance on the Danube or Romance on the Rhine and try a river voyage. River Voyages are a very relaxed way of cruising and visiting very scenic cities. With a number of river cruise operators including, Viking, Shearings, AMA Waterways there is sure to be a vessel to suit the clients needs,

Whatever your tastes, whatever your requirements, whatever your budget, there is a ship on the water that will suit your needs. So why not come on board and take to cruising like a duck to water?




For more information about the wide range of cruises that Kanoo Travel have to offer, please 
visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, call on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk


We look forward to hearing from you!






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Destination St. Lucia! (Part 3)


Destination St. Lucia! (Part 3)

Sugar Beach

The comment on the drive down to Sugar beach (located on the Southern end of the Island - around 30 - 40 minutes from the airport) was that Sugar Beach “will probably knock everything else out of the ball park” with how good it was going to be. Whilst I still loved Kalabash Cove the most, it was a bit like putting the best middle weight boxer in with the best heavyweight boxer - both excellent at what they do but you know who’d win!!! You realise why Hollywood A listers come and take over Sugar Beach – its that good. So much style, a spa to die for, the best dining on the Island and best of all – swimming in the shadow of the Pitons – beautiful.

We did a site visit and lunch and were afforded a day room as well. So many good points about the hotel. Idyllic woodland/treehouse location for the Spa – looked beautiful. Many watersports amenities plus options for Tennis etc. A beautifully designed classic bar – all white!!! - with an amazing selection of rums. Fantastic kids club – we spoke to kids, they were happy!! A large pool area and wonderful beachfront restaurant whose menu was amazing. Rooms to die for as well.
We were able to use a Luxury Cottage to change in – beautifully decorated as were all the rooms. No expense seemed to have been spared anywhere. Whilst the residences where amazing, I particularly liked the Beachfront Bungalows but there were no bad rooms at this hotel. Do have I client I deal with now who I know will want to stay here – lots!!! Just hope they can afford it!
Final plus point was the General Manager, Marcus, excellent host – knew every centimetre of that hotel! Would suit all types of guests…


Excursions

We didn’t do any excursions on the trip but a number were available to the Pitons on the Southern part of the Island. Guests staying in the Gros Islet area could visit Castries or the Rodney Bay area which offered shopping and dining options. Comparing it to Antigua, there did seem more infrastructure and more to do in St Lucia than Antigua


Selling the Destination

Confident I can sell the destination to many clients. As mentioned above it offers in my opinion, more diversity than Antigua. We saw a very diverse range of properties which would suit all markets and ages groups. The key selling points are the beaches, the St Lucian hospitality (great people) and fantastically high standard of hotels.

Jump Up

Can’t leave St Lucia without mentioning the Jump Up. A massive Friday night street party with live music and entertainment which happens in the heart of Gros Islet. You weren’t sure if you were going to be intruding on something that is really for the local population only. Driving through you did see a few tourists and provided you don’t wear ostentatious jewellery or draw too much attention to yourself in general, you’ll have a wonderful time. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole atmosphere and mingled with locals without issue. I would recommend any client who has the chance to go and experience it!  


For more information about St. Lucia, and other unique travel experiences, please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk
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Destination St. Lucia! (Part 2)





Destination St. Lucia! (Part 2)

Le Sport Bodyholiday

Enjoyed a site inspection and complimentary spa session at Bodyholiday. I have to say, the property
was very busy and hence we didn’t get to see many of the rooms. From the brief glimpse we had, there were far more luxurious rooms on St Lucia. The reason to come to Le Sport is the wellness experience. To be fair, they do it very well – albeit with blackboards listing activities and buffet style dining, it does have a little of a luxury holiday camp feel to it. With Le Sport, you tailor your holiday to suit you and can do as much or as little as you like. Spa sessions, tennis training, yoga, beach activities – it can all be done. Its predominance of English guests is catered for with afternoon every afternoon at 4.30 and its attention to detail with individual guests, from the ones I spoke to, is first class. Not a property to bring children to (most of the year the age limit is 16 plus – couples and certainly groups will fit in ideally here and more significantly, single travellers. The management are at pains to cater in a sensitive way to single travellers ie strategically seating them in an area where they can mix with other single travellers over drinks and dinner.

Rendezvous 


The sister property to Le Sport, this couples only resort has been converted into a hotel/resort from a family home. The property has a beautiful beachfront location and has burgeoned from a family residence into a resort of 100 rooms, whilst still retaining charm and intimacy. It naturally is solely aimed at couples and honeymooners but does cater for weddings as well.

The open air buffet style dining area has an excellent beachfront location and the quality of food was excellent – especially the choice of around 7 desserts!!! The bar area – which was part of the original family home – was charming. Typical with the rest of St Lucia, it had an excellent Spa and great gym – with options to do many other both indoor and outdoor activities.

From the outside, some of the accommodation blocks did look rather Spartan but once inside were of a very high standard. The Beachfront cottages were my favourite but the categories at the property would suit for all tastes and budgets.


East Winds Inn


Our group sent one night at East Winds Inn. The Caribbean style property is made up of only 30 rooms – made up predominately of split level semi detached style cottages. The cottages were beautifully decorated with very expensive Italian bed linen and had a very rustic feel to them.
The bathrooms included a sunken shower – very quirky – and the cottage as whole had a kind of jungle feel to it. Sadly, in terms of space, it was probably the smallest bedroom we saw on the whole trip and coming immediately after spending 2 nights in a 2 bedroomed Deluxe Suite, was made to feel even smaller.

The unique selling point of East Winds is really its unique charm. It has a great beachfront location (with a beautiful beach) and prides itself on its tropical gardens – guests can do walks around the property with pre-marked trails - and its restaurant has a strong Caribbean feel to it. The service and quality of food and drink in the bars and restaurants was superb. Personally I didn’t really get the concept myself. Whilst there was nothing wrong with any aspect of the property, I couldn’t think of clients that I would place there. However, from speaking to a number of guests – many of whom were repeat clients and certainly in the 50 plus aged bracket – they absolutely loved the place and “wouldn’t stay anywhere else in St Lucia”, highlighting the service and relaxing intimate nature of the property as the reasons why they return again and again. Rated no 1 in Gros Islet on Trip Advisor, that many people can’t be wrong can they???!!!



Calabash Cove


Quite simply my favourite property of all we saw. Sadly only had chance for lunch and site inspection. Located at the end of quite a bumpy route (as many of them are) off of the main road between Gros Islet and Castries, you are immediately wowed by the façade as you approach. Not sure how to describe it, reception is in kind of an open air atrium (if that’s possible) with the most spectacular views out to sea – leading into a sea front restaurant area – again with amazing views.
Steps took you down to the pool area with swim up bar – with accommodations on either side – with the beach area further down. It provides the most wonderful romantic hideaway – I can immediately name 4 or 5 clients I would place here!!! The place is an absolute paradise. Yes, as many of the luxury properties in St Lucia, it isn’t cheap but even the lead category of rooms are fantastic – as long as you can get over the fact that the bath is located in the main body of the room!
I loved it and the large balcony affording those stunning views, even better. My personal favourites were the swim up Junior suites – only 4 of them I think. They had their own balcony/terrace with steps down directly to the main pool area – the terrace area shrouded in beautiful foliage - but with the options to have privacy if required.

Food in the main restaurant was excellent and to be fair, the menu at the swim bar looked absolutely ideal as well. Again the property had an excellent spa but on the downside, is really not suitable for the less able bodied guests or children. If you did choose to leave this idyllic location, the hotel were keen to stress the many activities they could offer guests. I wouldn’t bother!!!


Windjammer Landing


Not really knowing the property, in my mind, I imagined a fading luxury Sheraton/Marriott type property – what I got was totally different. Beautifully designed and decorated rooms – in a kind Grecian style. Someone compared it to Santorini - I guess that’s about right. The property is set right up on a hillside – the highest rooms apparently around 500 meters up from the sea. It has varying categories of rooms and aims to suit all party sizes. The larger 3 – 4 bedroom Villas ideal for large family groups had been very well thought out. The key thing I noticed with all categories of room at Windjammer was the amount of space – you felt that in other hotels they would have tried to squeeze in another couple more bedrooms. Here you had space to move around. I stayed in a Hibiscus Suite – 3rd category in – which was lovely. Excellent sea views, Hot tub on the balcony, what more could a boy want!!! Spacious lounge and kitchen area, leading into a large bedroom area and onto an ensuite bathroom. Beautifully decorated.

We ate in the Mediterranean restaurant at the property - excellent cuisine - before heading to the poolside bar close to the busy reception area. Again very nice. Downside to Windjammer Landing – and it is only a small one – is the sheer size of the property and getting around it. Buggies can be hailed and arrive quickly but if you are located high up the property it is quite a journey around
sharp and steep hairpin bends over bumpy terrain – not everyone’s cup of tea. Offset that with
the fact it probably has most amenities of all the hotels we saw – 3 shops located close to reception.
Naturally it doesn’t really suit disabled guests but all others – both those wanting to relax and those wants all the facilities you’d usually expect from a large resort.

Stay tuned for Part 3, coming on January 7th!

For more information about St. Lucia, and other unique travel experiences, please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk

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Destination St. Lucia! (Part 1)




Destination St. Lucia! (Part 1)

Arrived at Gatwick Airport after a very comfortable night at the Sofitel Gatwick Airport. Can highly recommend the Sofitel – especially for travellers flying from the North Terminal, as the terminal is linked by a covered walkway, meaning a walk of less than 5 minutes. The hotel is beautifully decorated with spacious rooms and immaculate public areas which includes 2 bar areas and restaurants. The hotel is equipped with excellent business facilities and with spacious lifts and wide escalators, makes good provision for disabled guests
Greeted at the BA check in area by Jon Hardcastle from ITC, and ushered around to Club World check in by Jon, with the words “This is ITC Rob, flat bed all the way to St Lucia!”. Check in was a very seamless process with helpful and polite staff. Granted access to the BA Executive Lounge. Very luxurious lounge with very attentive staff and many facilities available although if I was to make one minor criticism, no hot food was available – something that I’m aware the Virgin V Lounge does provide.
Airside at Gatwick there are a plethora of shopping options for those last minute essentials, as well as more luxury and tax free gifts. Prices appeared very competitive versus the high street as you would expect. There were numerous food outlets as well
We flew on a BA 777 aircraft. Naturally, business class offered an incredible amount of comfort. The seat fully reclined to allow a flat bed with different recline positions available to you. By your feet, was a storage draw – very handy – and both the tray table and television screen were able to stored conveniently away when you wanted to rest. There was also a dividing screen which could be lowered or raised – depending as to whether you wanted to speak to the person next to you or ignore them!!! I was seated facing backwards to the direction of travel – a concept I had always thought of as strange. However, it felt no different to facing forwards. Access to the seat was a little confusing however and had there been anyone seat in the aisle seat in the row behind who had decided to sleep, I would have been forced to vault over them to get out to the toilets/snack bar area!!! Cabin staff were particularly attentive – already having checked the seating plan to be able to address guests by their names. They were very helpful throughout and very prompt in responding to any requests we had. The catering was high class with a choice of 4 main courses and 3 desserts and the inspired decision to have a speciality cocktail for that particular flight!!! Kir Royale x 7 was the request I remember!!! In terms of entertainment, there was a library of not just current films (I guess around 30 – 40) but also some of the classics, as well as a wide array of television programming – tailored to suit all age groups. There were radio channels – again to suit most musical tastes - as well as a CD library which again numbered around 30 to 40.
Flying time was 8 hours and 50 minutes – with regular inflight updates provided by the crew. On arrival, after descending the aircraft steps, a short walk, about 200 metres around the perimeter of the terminal was required to reach the immigration area. Wheelchairs were available for less able bodied travellers but I was not able to see how such travellers would be able to disembark. The immigration process was a little slower than ideal (extra windows were eventually opened up to speed up the process ) but the walk to baggage reclaim was a very short one.
NB Landing cards are completed on the aircraft to help speed up the process.
The airport is very small but equally is well signed. Once through to the arrivals hall, it is rather chaotic to be fair with many transfer providers jostling for position, alongside the car hire desks. We were however easily able to locate to Spice Travel representative and joined our transfer minibus to the Landings – on the very Northern tip of the Island, whilst the Airport is on the Southern tip.
The transfer itself gave you the opportunity to travel up the Western side of the Island through the St Lucian Rainforest and the journey was scheduled for around an hour and a half to an hour and three quarters. It afforded some breathtaking scenery, although the journey was very windy with some sharpish bends and inclines, so not ideal for everyone. We did encounter traffic issues upon arrival in the main town of the island Castries. We unfortunately arrived there just on rush hour and it took around an hour to get from one side of the harbour to the other – a matter of 2 miles at most. (Something that I later found out was not an uncommon occurrence, which I imagine is difficult to avoid for UK originating passengers – even perhaps also for those arriving on the slightly earlier Virgin flight). The journey eventually took just over 2 and a half hours. As an alternative to customers, there is a helicopter transfer option. The helicopter takes off from the far end of Hewanorra Airport and lands on a small landing area close to Gros Islet, where a number of the large hotels on the North of the Island are located. (Most hotels are reached by a 10 minute transfer from the landing area). Whilst we did not verify precise costs, the helicopter transfer is a fraction more expensive but certainly worthwhile for some clients, who after a near 9 hour flight, just want to get to their hotel.

The Landings


Very luxurious property with a rather grand reception hall – something you would expect more in the Middle East, although the property itself had a Floridian feel to it in terms of the layout of the accommodation blocks and other areas of the property. I was certainly reminded of a stay in Fort Lauderdale where rooms had Intercoastal views – similar to the harbour/marina views afforded at the Landings. Check in was a straightforward process with “heavy on the rum” cocktails offered. Guests were then immediately transferred by buggy to their accommodations – although to be fair no room in the entire property seemed to be more than a flat 5 minute walk from reception.
I was given a Two Bedroom Deluxe Villa Suite with a Harbour View. The room was huge – 2 huge bedrooms – both with large ensuite bathrooms and one with a dressing room. A separate washroom – laden with a washing machine and tumble dryer. A massive kitchen and dining area which opened out into a lounge area with large settee and armchairs – not forgetting the two balconies – one containing two day beds, the other a dining table, oh and a Jacuzzi!!!! I remember thinking, awestruck as I walked around, how’s a lad who Dad spent all his life down the mines, ended up in a place like this….
To be fair, this property is all about the accommodation itself. Whilst we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening in the luxurious restaurant – with a great choice of local specialities – and the bar area offered a plentiful supply of cocktails, plus there was a very good spa and pool at the property – it somehow seemed to be missing something. Shopping facilties, perhaps. However, fishing trips and other excursions could easily be arranged from the hotel so you would certainly not be short of things to do.
The hotel would certainly suit all age groups and with the kitchen/dining facilities available, it would lend itself to families with young children. The Rodney Bay shopping area is a mere 10 minutes from the hotel so provisions could easily be obtained - and stored in the huge American style fridge in the suite! The hotel has both 2 and 3 bedroomed accommodations and some of the more luxurious 3 bedroomed Villas have their own plunge pools too. Some rooms were on higher floors but each block had a lift and the blocks were wheelchair accessible.

Cap Maison

Had a site inspection and luxurious dinner at Cap Maison. This property, also located in Gros Islet, a very idyllic location at that, has a very Moorish/Spanish feel to it in its design. Rooms were beautifully decorated and again very spacious (a feeling you got from most of the properties we viewed in St Lucia). All suites afforded excellent views. The property had a very relaxed feel to it – with the owner/ manager keen to point out that they don’t trouble guests with admin or request credit card details as soon as they arrive, they allow them to enjoy their new surroundings. The property does lend itself to couples – rather than families – who want a relaxing luxury retreat and who want to be able to get on with their holiday without fuss. Equally, it was a good choice as a wedding venue compared to the other St Lucian hotels we visited. You imagined that there would be some amazing photographs! In terms of the less able bodied, it didn’t seem to lend itself that well compared to other St Lucian hotels.
In terms of dining, there are a number of options. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, we were unable to dine beachfront at the Naked Fisherman Restaurant so were taken down to Bruce’s wine cellar for a private dining experience. If he doesn’t sell this to guests as a meal option, then he should!!! Truly wonderful evening, tasting great wine and sea food. Equally, if not, private dining was an option, beachfront or should I say “rockfront” at Rock Maison – a small decking area which holding up to 30 but can cater for just 2. The property offered a beautiful spa as well as gymnasium facilities and overall, it simply oozed class!

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming on January 3rd!

For more information about St. Lucia, and other unique travel experiences, please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk

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Mia Newton in Amsterdam


Getting up at 3am on a Sunday morning for a day trip to Amsterdam, I must be crazy or a travel agent – I’m both! Quick shower & I’m out the door, passport and Euros at the ready. A big plus on a day trip is no suitcase to worry about just the huge handbag carrying all the “just in case” items. Parking at the airport was quick and simple, a short walk to Bristol airport terminal to be greeted by 3 Servisair check-in staff. All could have definitely done with an extra few hours in bed, not being able to summon up a smile between them. Security was surprisingly busy but only took about 5 minutes to filter through. The new Servisair Lounge was easy to locate, much larger than its predecessor with a quiet area, choice of seating and zoned areas.

The flight was comfortable with adequate legroom in a 3-3 configuration, tea/coffee and a light snack were served en route by the very pleasant KLM staff. The flight was punctual and arrived to a bright, clear Amsterdam day. We were met by Michael Rainford, KLM Account Manager together with another 4 Kanoo staff who flew from Birmingham & Manchester. Off we all went like the seven dwarfs for our “days work” in Amsterdam airport and the city itself. What an airport Schipol is, like a complete village it has everything you could possibly think of…. shops, cafes, restaurants, casino, spa, library, meditation centre, relaxation area, kids area complete with cots for sleepy babies, even a small version of the Rijks Museum. You can completely understand why the Dutch come to the airport for a day out it’s like a huge Mall – very impressive. The signage for terminals and gates are clearly displayed with walking times to help passengers, as well as banks of self service ticket machines throughout the airport should your flights be delayed. The KLM system will have already protected passengers on an alternative connecting flight allowing them to print new boarding passes and therefore avoiding long queues at ticket counters. The rail station is directly under the airport allowing a seamless journey in to Amsterdam.

Directly opposite Amsterdam city rail station we step straight on to a tourist sightseeing boat for our one hour canal cruise around the waterways of the city. Fascinating architecture, quaint little streets, thousands of bikes, houseboats galore and a laid back atmosphere – a wonderful start to our visit, watching the city float by. A short walk from the rail station took us to our lunch venue the Koepelcafe in the Renaissance Hotel. The food and location were spot on – our Dutch Bitterballen group starter was particularly delicious and enjoyed by all. It was agreed a good walk would do us all the world of good after lunch, so off to the seedier side of the city we went to view a few aspects that make Amsterdam famous. A good hour and half later and feeling wide-eyed we found ourselves in Dam Square amidst the throngs of tourists and locals taking advantage of the fabulous weather. An outdoor bar/café was located where we enjoyed a fabulous afternoon people watching in the true style of European café culture before ambling back to the rail station to catch our flights back to the UK.

In summary KLM offers a slick professional on board service with an absolutely seamless user friendly product in Schipol airport. The airport itself has literally thought of everything to ensure passengers are totally catered for. Amsterdam city is great for a day trip, very easy to get around with activities for all tastes!

Mia Newton

Travel Consultant at Kanoo Travel


for more information about Amsterdam, and other unique travel experiences please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk
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Pippa Davies in Ratnagiri India








We arrive on a night bus from Pune in the early hours of the morning to be welcomed by a cool sea breeze and stretches of golden sands. Ratnagiri is a relatively unknown area on the west coast of India but is slowly becoming recognised for its relaxing atmosphere and untouched forests and beaches.
Atithi Parinay is an eco-friendly home stay in Ratnagiri which prides itself on offering a unique tourism experience. Set within deep forestry and accessed by scenic winding roads, the place is a true example of responsible tourism today; the food is grown and supplied from local businesses and all cooked on site. All the building materials are locally sourced, from the tree house to the luxury tents and huts, the cow dung floors and clay roof tiles. These last two are used in effect to keep the rooms cool when hot and warm when cold.
The exquisite scenery and peaceful ambience is a complete blessing; in the morning haze you are encouraged to dip your feet into the stream nearby where you can be treated with a natural fish pedicure. You are completely immersed in the natural surroundings and humbled whilst being joined by a bull on the opposite side of the stream, quenching its thirst under the rising sun. Woven hammocks are dotted around the area in between the tall tree trunks, perfect for dozing in the afternoon sun through the canopy of leaves above. A distinct highlight of the stay is the exceptional service offered by the owner Medha and her family.  In the evenings, Medha introduces delicious traditional Marathi style food and teaches how to eat it. Each portion of the meal should be presented on a banana leaf in precise areas depending on what piece of food it is and should be eaten with bare hands. Afterwards, it is custom to give the banana leaf to the cows as the aromas of the food are absorbed during the meal, making the leaves tastier.



A newly established tour company The Western Routes offers tours around Ratnagiri working closely with the home-stay, the owner of the tour company, Jayesh Paranjape also considers the sustainability of his tours by incorporating local businesses into the itinerary. A distinctive experience of Ratnagiri is visiting Bondre’s Organic farm at Devghar village. As part of the visit you are able to explore the vast farmland and forestry, with a chance to venture down cascading waterfalls immersed within the trees and swim in the lagoons. A typical Marathi lunch is offered to guests with generous servings and  is exceptionally tasty. There is time to relax with a cup of chai among the trees on an extremely comfortable Machaan built with wood and hay before being treated to a local Konkan performance with Jaakdi dancers.





The secluded beaches of Ratnagiri, so empty and vast, are the jewel in the crown of this charming place. Apart from the plodding of a couple horned cows, owner in tow, and the slight prancing of curious deer, you are completely in solitude. In order to reach Aare Waare beach a precarious climb over rocks is in order but it is worth it for the sought after seclusion which is so rare on picturesque beaches like this at peak season. The Ganesh Gule beach is also an extraordinary sight, empty stretches of golden sand and clear blue sea, lined by towering green coconut trees.  A refreshing drink of fresh coconut milk from the forests fringing the beach rounds the day off nicely. A local man meticulously carves the fruit with a machete-like knife to make a hole in the top from which to drink and then carves it in half and scrapes out the coconut flesh to eat.
Great forts and religious monuments are dotted around the area, such as the awe-inspiring Purnagad Fortand temple which looks out to the ocean for miles. Ratnagiri has become popular for a place to stay for people visiting Ganpatipule, where thousands of tourists go to see the Hindu temple of Swayambhu. A special touch about this place is that you are encouraged to tell a wish to the rat deity at the entrance of the temple, it is said if you do not divulge this secret with anyone, it will come true. Another interesting place to visit is Prachin Konkan, a quirky life-size museum depicting life and stories of the past in Konkan. There is a handicraft shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs to remember this intriguing attraction, not that you would need one! 



To sum up, Ratnagiri is an ideal place to visit if you are seeking a true off the beaten track experience in India. Especially for those who enjoy the outdoors with the comforts of luxury accommodation, with exciting and novel experiences.

Pippa Davies

Travel Consultant at Kanoo Travel Haymarket, London


for more information about India, and unique travel experiences please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk


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Sandals

Many people are put off by the Sandals brand, thinking it’s brash, colourful and American... but they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, there are Americans at each resort, but the resorts themselves are far from brash and colourful!
I have been lucky enough to experience 5 Sandals properties, and like any hotel chain, all the resorts are different from the next, so my advice to you is to choice your resort wisely!

At Sandals there are 3 grades of room category you can choose from, each offering something different – Deluxe, Concierge and Butler Suite. The Deluxe grade is each resorts lead-in rooms. Please don’t be put off that they are lead-in and possibly basic, as they are really aren’t! The decor is pretty much the same throughout all categories; it is literally the location and the facilities within in each room that varies. The Concierge rooms have extras such as a daily re-stocking of your mini-bar (always a bonus!) and a concierge desk who will book excursions and dinner reservations for you. And as for the Butler Suites, these are simply incredible! Located in the most prestigious areas of the resorts they include 2 personal butlers who will tend to your every need to make your stay the best it can possible be. They will walk you to dinner every night, reserve you sun loungers on the beach or by the pool, bring your drinks throughout the day, run you baths.... the list goes on! No other All-Inclusive Resort in the world offers Butlers who are trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers.

Sandals Resorts are the only resort in the world that gives you more...
Anytime dining where each resort brings you every type of cuisine under the sun which are all prepared by Master Chefs using the finest quality ingredients!
The Caribbean’s finest rooms and suites – Sandals have created the most unique suites with romance, seclusion and luxury in mind.
Unlimited scuba diving for certified divers – very unique!
Drinks are included 24/7 with unlimited top-shelf premium branded drinks as well as Beringer wines. 
If you are a couple who like to go back to their room after dinner, sit on the balcony with a glass of wine to enjoy the surroundings and warmth, or whether you like to stay in the bar trying out the top shelf drinks, your evening’s can be as low-key or as lively as you wish. Resorts have different entertainment each night – when I was at Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica they had a carnival and a steel band parade through the resort. Not my sort of thing usually but I’m glad I watched it!

Having being voted the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company for 17 years in a row shows Sandals have perfected the All Inclusive holiday.   
The Sandals Resort concept is simple – The Luxury Included Holiday.
Everything is included and everything is extremely luxurious.
So when you next see the 2-for-1 offer, make sure you take advantage and go!!!

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Kochi, Kochi Cool!




Located on the southern coast of India, Kerala has wonderful sights that are unique only to ‘God's own country'. Years of external influences as the epicentre of spice trades have made this town a unique destination for culture, experience and panoramic views that will definitely mesmerise you. Just read on and get ready for your own Kochi adventure!


Brought over by Macao early settlers, the sight of massive Chinese Fishing Nets dangling above the calm waters near Fort Kochi as the wind catches it, making them dance like maidens in the sunlight, paints an unforgettable picture. Because right there, you know that there's something magical about this city.

 


On the backwaters of Kochi, you'll find magnificent boathouses that are more than comfortable for a night or two’s stay on the calm waters. Here you can watch the daily lives of the locals by the shoreline as you drift with the currents.




Unique to Kerala, this wondrous Indian dance-drama is portrayed by elaborately costumed dancers that let their body movements do the talking, re-enacting the tales of Lord Krishna. First founded in the 17th century, this dance is still a highly prized cultural performance and quite a sight to behold.



With daily flights to this lovely land full of ancient charms and mystical legends, Kochi will captivate even the weariest travellers.





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Claire Morris in... Las Vegas




The seat belt signs are now on, as we slowly descend through the clouds the sun is shining and we can already feel  the American heat, the strip is in sight and the tensions is building....
Cheers from everyone we have landed in party town.... VEGAS!!!
As we clear customs and get in to our luxurious limousine to the hotel we are all heads out of windows excited soon after we are all checking in to none other than the Encore at the Wynn... WOW!!

We are given our keys and a map of the hotel, for those who haven’t been to Vegas before every hotel needs a map as they are so big you feel like there’s no exit.
My one bedroom suite is huge.  I’m so excited.  I’m running around checking all the amenities just like its Christmas day with all the presents…  I even have two televisions in the bathroom!!
If that’s not living it up I don’t know what is!





After a long flight everyone wants to be fresh in the morning so to finish the first day nicely myself and the group enjoy dinner and cocktails as guests of the Wynn Encore. The general manager gives us a brief show around of what the hotel has to offer and soon we are sitting down in a swanky a la carte restaurant in the hotel. The food is delicious... Me being a food addict I took photos of everything. To start they brought round a seafood platter, I have never tried fish before so I went a little crazy and tried it all.. Oysters, lobster, crab yum yum!!
Well me thinking that was the starter or main? Silly me, were in America… that was just an appetizer to follow we had the biggest chicken Caesar salad I have ever had, fillet steak and cheese cake for desert  WOW what a meal that was, delicious...

Wake up and meet up have a leisurely stroll along Las Vegas Boulevard to the Venetian.
We have a site inspection of this fabulous property followed by lunch in the impressive grand lux café where the architecture and décor is inspired by the look and feel of classic Venetian cafes.
After yet another lovely three course dinner and the odd beer or two we all make our way to the Porte cochere where we are picked up in our limousine and drove to meet Elvis at the Graceland wedding chapel.
The Graceland chapel has been a part of the Las Vegas strip for over 50 years  and is one of the most prominent chapels for a wedding in Las Vegas, Jon Bon Jovi was married here and in 2001 he even held a concert in the parking lot with 75 couples who re-newed their vows with him!





Group then had some free time to wonder the strip… Take photos and get ready for the night ahead.

PARTY TIME - All meet at the Mirage in the well-known 10AK nightclub, the night’s starts smoothly until we hop on the party bus as we move from one club to the other down the strip!
A much needed lie in to help everyone recover…

Breakfast at Denny’s – Its official I love American food.

Transfer to premium outlet Centre for some retail therapy, we were greeted by the onsite manager who gave us a goody bag with lots of offers in the shops and even a coupon to buy a diamond necklace we all felt like VIP’s
After an afternoon shopping spree we all head back to the hotel for a nice dip in the pool.
Evening has approached, we all have tapas style food but obviously in America everything is big… More like a sharing platter!!

Having a stroll around the hotel passing Gucci, Dior, the  Ferrari shop I have now realized that the shopping in Vegas is as good or if not better than New York.



Walking through to the Wynn Theatre – YES the hotel even has its own theatre we watch Le Reve the dream from a thrilling high dive to an underwater tango le reve mesmerized all of us from beginning to end, let senses take flight as dreams swim in the air and dance on water.  This show is a must see.

The night is still young…
We meet our red carpet vip host which gains immediate access to the most amazing clubs in Vegas! For this Vegas VIP pass it normally costs around 80USD We walk straight in to XS what conde nast traveler calls the hottest nightclub in the world where David ghetto and Calvin Harris are among the resident djs, With it holding 1,400 people a dj and bar outside the pool area as well as inside it is a definite celeb hang out.
The next day is very chilled.. Enjoying the lovely 24c sunshine, a wonder around Bellagio and the venetian, a show around in cosmopolitan and the Paris hotel, some cheeky bets  and a trip to Madame  Tussauds
On the evening we get picked up and transfer to McCarran heliport to view the strip at night. It had amazing views of the strip all lit up, was like seeing it on a movie.



Our last day it has been such a great trip it has to end in style.

As we get picked up by our limo at 0530am to transfer to the heliport we fly over lake mead and the hoover dam for amazing sights, soar over the west rim of the grand canyon before descending almost 3,300 feet below the canyon rim for a sun rise champagne breakfast… WOW!

Checked out the hotel; dump our bags and a last minute gamble? Go on then…

Transfer to the airport, bags checked in on the ’virgin outside bag drop’ and UK here I come…

What have I learnt about Vegas? The strip is so much bigger than I thought, I now know if a customer rings where all the hotels are positioned, the hotels are like shopping malls, they say new York city doesn’t sleep.. Well neither does Vegas, bring plenty of cash comfy shoes and strong sun cream

What will I upsell now I have experienced it? Our attraction ticket suppliers – Helicopter trips, the VIP pass for the nightlife, Le Reve show, Madame Tussauds the hotels are all unique, and they all have something great about them.



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Bernie's Adventures in.... Japan


We arrived into Tokyo very early 4am after our 12 hour British Airways flight, then we were wizzed over to the train station to catch the  Shinkansen Express Bullet train to Kyoto.
Wow ! our speed reached 178 MPH passing snow covered Mount Fuji – Japans most famous & highest mountain. Kyoto was the Old ancient Capital of Japan till 1868 and has retained far more of a feel of “ Old Japan “ than Tokyo. We stayed at the Westin Hotel located amidst a picturesque mountain backdrop but also in the centre of the City. 

Our 1st  visit was to the Golden Pavilion so beautiful & yes it was dripping in Gold and also rain! just like Manchester! Then it was onto a quick Rickshaw ride in the rain through the scenic Bamboo Forest, a complete sea of green. That night we had a grand meal at a local Teriyaki Bar  - such speed, skill & perfection by the Japanese Chef.





Up early ready for my visit to the Emperors Imperial Palace so quite & serene with stunning beautiful gardens. Next we were driven to the enormous Nijo Castle of the Shogun to check out the Samurai Soldiers hide out. The afternoon back to school did well in the Calligraphy class, my teacher was pleased with me gave me a Gold Star! Meeting “ Maiko “ apprentice Geisha was a highlight of our visit to Kyoto, she was just so perfect, rather elegant & beautiful. She was so impressed with my bold red shellac nails that when she made us all Green tea I was served 1st. That night we dined at a very special  5* French Bistro a la carte seven courses! Au Revoir

To-day we set off to the oldest Zen Buddhist Temple 1202 – so serene & total enlightenment, such natural beauty. Some local retail therapy along Sanjo St a vibrant traffic free shopping area, lots of bargains and specialty items. Lunch was at a very busy Sushi restaurant we sat with the locals. The Sushi was so colourful and elaborate. We were then treated to a nice brew - visit at a Ryokan ( Japanese Guest House ) in the heart of the Old Gion district To-night we dined at a local inn had very authentic Japanese cuisine served by Geishas, such artful presentation.




Next day time to hit that Bullet Train again – the Virgin trains from Manchester will feel quite slow for me now ( 118 MPH  compare with 178 MPH ) Oh and quite all cell phones have to be on silent ! I had a great time with them on the subject on MAN United – I am a MAN City fan! The locals were laughing at us as we gazed upon Mount Fuji  – just gobsmacked once again! 

Arrived into one of the oldest ( 1872 ) main stations in Tokyo - Shinagawa a major hub for over 100 train & metro lines. Over 54.000 passengers an hour! We had a ten minute walk to our trendy Crown Prince Hotel, very large rooms with a balcony over-looking the main square and gardens with wonderful views. Then we were rushed back to the Metro- Underground to attack this for the day, what fun we had.



Our trip across the City underground with two changes to the Tokyo Sky Tree was a dream – just how everything worked out so perfect for us. The visit to the Sky Tree all 640 metres & 450 floors was so easy and great fun especially for families. Fantastic City views a good organised venue.
We went shopping after on Asakusa st ( like our Oxford st ) very lush & divine famous name brand shops, also walked along the famous Takeashita St.

The shopping and entertainment street, that is a meeting and focal point area for eccentric teenagers to dress up in elaborate character colourful costumes. They parade along the narrow street that is lined with cafes, internet shops and boutiques – like the dog designer store, oh and a £land – YENland !
There was no chewing gum or rubbish on the ground or any Graffiti at all and not a “ Yobo “ in sight just polite young people having fun. Oh and they loved my 10yr old Samsung cell phone – were just lots of laughs & giggles about it !



Tonight ( our last night ) was spent as a VIP guest at the Crown Prince Hotel, we were wined and dined again with fresh food cooked in front of us. We languished at the live Langoustines cooked in minutes ( poor things ! ) tasted so good. Mid-night bedtime and up at 3am, we departed at 4am for the airport and good-bye to Japan what a brilliant trip in the beautiful land of the rising sun. 

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Sandals




Many people are put off by the Sandals brand, thinking it’s brash, colourful and American... but they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, there are Americans at each resort, but the resorts themselves are far from brash and colourful!
I have been lucky enough to experience 5 Sandals properties, and like any hotel chain, all the resorts are different from the next, so my advice to you is to choice your resort wisely!







At Sandals there are 3 grades of room category you can choose from, each offering something different – Deluxe, Concierge and Butler Suite. The Deluxe grade is each resorts lead-in rooms. Please don’t be put off that they are lead-in and possibly basic, as they are really aren’t! The decor is pretty much the same throughout all categories; it is literally the location and the facilities within in each room that varies. The Concierge rooms have extras such as a daily re-stocking of your mini-bar (always a bonus!) and a concierge desk who will book excursions and dinner reservations for you. And as for the Butler Suites, these are simply incredible! Located in the most prestigious areas of the resorts they include 2 personal butlers who will tend to your every need to make your stay the best it can possible be. They will walk you to dinner every night, reserve you sun loungers on the beach or by the pool, bring your drinks throughout the day, run you baths.... the list goes on! No other All-Inclusive Resort in the world offers Butlers who are trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers.






Sandals Resorts are the only resort in the world that gives you more...
Anytime dining where each resort brings you every type of cuisine under the sun which are all prepared by Master Chefs using the finest quality ingredients!
The Caribbean’s finest rooms and suites – Sandals have created the most unique suites with romance, seclusion and luxury in mind.
Unlimited scuba diving for certified divers – very unique!
Drinks are included 24/7 with unlimited top-shelf premium branded drinks as well as Beringer wines. 
If you are a couple who like to go back to their room after dinner, sit on the balcony with a glass of wine to enjoy the surroundings and warmth, or whether you like to stay in the bar trying out the top shelf drinks, your evening’s can be as low-key or as lively as you wish. Resorts have different entertainment each night – when I was at Sandals Whitehouse in Jamaica they had a carnival and a steel band parade through the resort. Not my sort of thing usually but I’m glad I watched it!



Having being voted the World’s Leading All-Inclusive Company for 17 years in a row shows Sandals have perfected the All Inclusive holiday.   
The Sandals Resort concept is simple – The Luxury Included Holiday.
Everything is included and everything is extremely luxurious.
So when you next see the 2-for-1 offer, make sure you take advantage and go!!!





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Kanoo early March Flight sale!

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Trip to Canada


Trip to Canada - Emily Garrett



I came across Banff on my travels through Canada and fell in love with the town. It is a beautiful, peaceful town surrounded by stunning scenery of snow-capped mountains and has a lake that is a mixture of blues and greens in colour.

   You can go on a gondola ride up one of the peaks and look down over the town itself or out into the distance over the mountains.  On a sunny day take a walk along the river and sit on the banks with your feet dangling in the water, or take a kayak ride up the river. 
While I was here, I also took a horse ride along the river edge, past the Banff Springs Hotel and through the surrounding woods, where you get to experience the true beauty of the area.  You can book any of the town’s activities through the helpful visitors centre on the main street.


   The town itself, although small, has shops including a supermarket, bars, restaurants and even a club for the evening’s entertainment.  Banff gets popular for skiing during the winter periods also, so is a perfect place to visit all year through. The local people are extremely helpful and friendly and always able to help you should you need it. I stayed in a wood lodge hostel that was very accommodating and comfortable for the few nights I was there and part of the HI association. The youth hostel put on events and themed nights for people staying there.

   A must-see while in Banff is the Banff National Park. Just off the main highway leading up to Jasper, is Lake Louise. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise sits right on the edge of the lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The hotel is very beautiful in its peaceful surrounding area and perfect if you enjoy to cycle or take long walks around the lake itself. From Lake Louise, make your way to Moraine Lake and Peyto Lake, for a must-have picture overlooking the picturesque scenery. Both are situated in Banff National Park. Peyto Lake lies at the bottom of a mountain in the shape of wolf.

   I recommend seeing all the Rockies has got to offer and going to Jasper also. Here I ended up staying in a Wilderness Hostel for a night at Athabasca Falls, which if you haven’t done it before then it’s definitely worth a try. Although, if you’re like me, one night is good for the experience! Here you stay in wooden cabin out in the woods, with no running water only pumps. The kitchen has the main things you would need but with the ECO-friendly edge. There are no flush toilets and no showers. Even though this may put people off, it’s like camping. The staff are extremely friendly and encourage you to join in. Also, a short walk away you get to experience the stunning rivers and waterfalls of the Athabasca Falls.

   This is my favourite place I have travelled to and encourage others to experience the same thing!



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My first trip to the Emerald Isle


I decided on whim (like you do) that I would take a trip to see family friends that had just recently moved over to Ireland. This would be my first trip there and I was excited to be experiencing somewhere new especially because id heard nothing but good things about it how beautiful it was, the Irish are really friendly, you’ll have a ball, that sort of thing. So without anymore hesitation my friend and I decided that we were booking to go see them (this was in fact her sister and brother in law that we were going to see).

We managed to get a fantastic deal flying out with Aer Lingus from Manchester into Dublin and returning with Ryanair. We had booked ourselves in at the Escapes Lounge Manchester Airport terminal 1 which I had been in many of times before. We were greeted at the lounge reception by two friendly members off staff who were happy to show us the facilities. I would recommend to any persons looking avoiding the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal to definitely consider adding this onto your holiday.



Our flight time was only 35 minutes in the air which was the shortest flight I had ever taken this was nice because as I didn’t have to find things to do to occupy myself. When we arrived her sister came to collect us from Dublin airport, we had a drive two hours south of Dublin to a place that I could only described as next level rural it's a small town of Ferns, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
In the car on the drive down there were picturesque views all around green rolling hills, clean pure rivers, and little catholic churches everything you just pictured Ireland to be. This was a far cry from the city life I was used to back in Manchester it was like a major wakeup call! 



I visited all the little towns close by went into the town of Ferns to collect coal and firewood from the local yard (yes you heard right no gas in the country!) for the wood burning fire to heat the house. The last night I visited the local pub which was nothing but fun from the minute we stepped in there everybody was in such a good mood enjoying being in each other’s company, I also tried my first proper Irish Guinness well it was my first time trying it full stop and guess what it aint half bad!



My time in Ireland was coming to an end. Id enjoyed my time here and would definitely go back it was such a peaceful place to be, and to people who haven’t been that want of idea of what it’s like before going all I can say is watch the film Ps I love you (as this was filmed close by in the next town)

So until next time Ireland, Slán go foil.

Callum Andrews, Kanoo FES Manchester


 
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A Trip to Antigua

A Trip to Antigua



We all met at Gatwick airport South Terminal in Front of the Virgin Airlines check in area, where we were met by a Virgin Airlines Rep, who assisted us with our check in, which all went very smoothly. (Sarah the ITC rep had her name spelt wrong on her ticket and they were very quick and very efficient in getting this sorted for her) Once we had all checked in we had to take our bags to the end of the check in desk to be deposited with the baggage handlers. We went through the Fast track area which we had been given a pass for from the check in staff, and went up to the departure area where we were again met by the Virgin Rep, who took us to the Lounge for breakfast, which was amazing!

Departure Facilities- Restaurants/Shops/Lounges/information ETC
After going through the Fast track area which we had been given a pass for from the check in staff, we went up to the departure area where we were again met by the Virgin Rep, who took us to the ‘Clubhouse’ Virgins Lounge area where we enjoyed breakfast, which was amazing! We didn’t have any time to hit the duty free shops unfortunately, as we had spent a bit extra time at check in waiting for Sarah’s ticket to be reissued. The Rep from Virgin Airlines, did give us information on the aircraft that we would be travelling on and advised us that by the middle of next year they should have all new aircraft flying out of Gatwick on their Caribbean routes.
General Facilities for disabled/children: Gatwick airport South terminal itself have many facilities for disabled traveler including the following
• Ramps , Telephones at a height accessible to wheelchair users Disabled toilet facilities, reserved seating for disabled people in check in areas and wider access pathways.


As we proceeded through the Fast track area we did see a wheelchair user being assisted through by a member of staff from Gatwick Airport, and found them very courteous and attentive.




Type of Aircraft and configuration: Boeing 747 400 series

Economy configuration 3 /5/ 3
Premium economy 2 /2 on upper deck
Upper Class 2 /2 upper class suites which convert to flat beds

We were lucky to be given Premium economy seats on the way out, which were extremely comfortable and what I liked, was that they had a storage box area to the side of the pair of seats at the window, where you could store your blankets bag etc, with easy access so you didn’t have to get up and down all the time to get thing from the overhead lockers.

On our return journey, premium and Upper class were both completely full, so we were given economy seats, which gave us a chance to sample this service also. As the aircraft had 55 empty seats in economy, after take- off we were able to spread out and get 3 seats to ourselves so we could lie out and get some sleep, so that worked out very well.

On board Entertainment/Meals/service on board:
Virgin Airlines have a fantastic onboard seatback entertainment service including
Kids channels
News channels
A choice of movies which run on a loop
Music channels
TV channels
Find yourself map which logs the journey so you can keep up to date with where you are on your flight.

The staff in the Premium cabin and also in the Economy cabin were very attentive, and nothing seemed too much trouble for them, although on the return as it was a night flight, we were left more to ourselves as most people were sleeping.

Again meals in both cabins were lovely, portion sizes were just enough, and there was plenty of water soft drinks or alcoholic beverages served throughout the flight services in both directions.



Information Given And Length Of Journey:

Approx 9 hours flying time between Gatwick and Antigua.
There was plenty of information given by both the pilot/copilot and also the in flight entertainment system had a find yourself map which kept you up to date with where you were how long to go how high and plotted the journey on a world map for you also.


The Arrival

Immigration:
We spent approx 10-15 minutes getting through immigration, which was not bad, although in the heat it sometimes can feel longer. 1 of our party had a walking stick due to a foot injury, so immigration allowed her to have 2 people accompany her through a fast track area, so by the time we got through immigration they rest of our party had started to take our bags from the carousel, so there was no hanging around waiting once we were through Immigration.
Entry paperwork for Antigua was handed out by the staff on board the aircraft and was all completed, so the time taken to get through immigration, was purely just waiting for other travelers to get their passports stamped and papers checked.


Luggage Retrieval: as above


Signage/Transfers

All signage was in English and was very clear. There were also a lot of staff on hand to point you in the right direction. We were met by the local ITC rep Cathy, Who along with Sarah, could not have done enough for us. We witnessed Cathy in action at a few of the hotels throughout our trip and her working day never seems to be done. Transfers were by private minibus (which had the same driver all week and took us to all the hotel visits and transfers between hotels etc.) on the way from the airport to the hotel, but on the way back to the airport I TC provided us with a Stretch Limo.


Carlisle Bay 2 nights
The room I had was a beachfront Suite, located on an upper floor overlooking the beach and was in the adults only area of the hotel. The family rooms are all located at the opposite end of the beach and are all together, keeping the adult area quieter for those not travelling with families.
In my room was a kingsize bed, a large bathroom which was open at each end and had a large bath with a window to the side overlooking the mangroves, a separate shower and separate toilet. There was plenty of storage space provided and the room had a sitting area and large balcony with a daybed on which looked out over the beach. State of the Art Coffee machine (fantastic coffee hot chocolate milk warmer etc, but it did take me until day 2 to get the hang of it) and fresh water were provided in rooms and there was fresh fruit of the day delivered to your room daily.

The restaurants were both fantastic and served lots of local produce and many things from their own garden too! One of the restaurants served fantastic Asian themed food. Afternoon tea was served throughout the property each day, and we enjoyed afternoon tea on the beach which was something else. There was a pool onsite, which was mainly used by families with children. Gym, Yoga, Tennis clinic, Library with internet access, free wifi throughout the property, water sports from the beach
Although my room was not Accessible for disable people as it was on the top floor so had 2 flights of steps to get u0p to it, the property does provide disabled rooms. Most public areas are accessible too.

http://www.lhw.com/Hotel/Carlisle-Bay-St-Marys-Antigua-West-Indies



Galley Bay 2 nights

The room I was allocated at Galley Bay was a premium Beachfront Suite, which as its name suggests opened out right in to the beach, which became my back garden for the next 2 days! My room was on a lower floor, and although it would have been accessible for a wheelchair user to get into the room, as it was on 2 levels with a step down into the living area, it would not have been suitable and had not been adapted for wheelchair users. Again I have a kingsize bed in this room with a similar set up to Carlisle bay with a sitting area with table and plenty of storage space in the room. The shower was huge with 2 different shower head at each side of the shower at different heights. There was a large corner bath and I could walk out from my room directly on to the beach, where there were 2 loungers and a small table provided for each room along with many other lounger available on the beach. Mini bar was stocked with soft drinks are beers, and there was a small coffee maker in the room provided (although not to the amazing standards of the Carlisle Bay coffee machine, was easier to understand how to work!)
There is wifi access throughout the property again, lovely pool area, bike hire (yes we made use of this) Tennis courts. Tennis clinic, spa, lawn croquet (again yes we made use of this, with a croquet tournament on our arrival) 3 Restaurants although we only sampled 2, both served lovely food, we had lobster on the first night which was to die for. There are a few bar areas on the property so it is never too crowded, there are also rocking chairs provided along a veranda looking out to sea if you wanted more peace and quiet. The beach area was clean although it had quite a slope to the sea, there was also a gift shop onsite, watersports etc.

http://www.galleybayresort.com/index.htm



Curtain Bluff 2 nights

I was provided with a Junior suite overlooking the beach at Curtail Bluff, which was on an upper floor, so again did not have disabled facilities, nor was it accessible for a wheelchair, although the hotel do offer disabled rooms. My room had a kingsized bed sitting area and had plenty of storage space, large Bathroom with separate shower and again a large corner bath. A balcony looked out over the beach area. The atmosphere in this hotel is very relaxed, so much so that the doors to the bedrooms do not have external locks or keys, as nobody uses them, the doors can be locked from the inside however. There is a very large wine cellar at this hotel where they give wine tasting lessons, and have a very vast stock of wines, from all over the world. ( I noticed they did have a VERY large lock on this area however! Probably wise…..)
Although things do move at an even slower pace at Curtain Bluff, they have many facilities. There is a lovely spa , and other facilities include , squash court, Swimming pool, watersports, Fitness Tennis courts and tennis clinic. Water aerobics, yoga, pilates, putting green, half basketball court 2 computer rooms, one for children one for adults, Childrens playground, There is a gift shop in the hotel and also several on the beach. There is one main restaurant at the hotel and a beach bar, serving drinks and snack during the day. Food was fantastic once again at this hotel and as you would expect their wine list was out of this world!
http://www.curtainbluff.com


Sugar Ridge 1 night

When we arrived at Sugar Ridge we were not sure what to expect as there was no beach at this hotel, which is not usual in Antigua.
The actual bedrooms were smaller than we had been used to, but they all have very large balconies with day bed tables and chairs and overhead fans. So in effect, this act as an extension to the room. There were 4 rooms per block, and All downstairs rooms (even numbers) have a small plunge pool on their balcony also. The rooms have a mini bar /fridge, iron, ironing board, wardrobe, four poster beds with mosquito nets, small bedside tables and small desk area. Bathrooms have shower only We were shown some other larger rooms near the top that had interconnecting doors and had a twin at one side and double at the others, so could be used as 2 bed roomed family unit.
The food was Amazing and catered for all pallets, everything from sushi (made to order) through to burgers, steaks salads, chicken, fish, club sandwiches, etc. (unfortunately we didn’t get to eat at the hilltop restaurant, but we got to go up there and try out the pool, bar etc!) the restaurant staff were very efficient and very friendly. The infinity pool at the top is quite small but always seemed quite quiet during the daytime so there was plenty room, and the views were fantastic from up there! The pool down by the restaurant area again was quite quiet, and always seemed to have plenty of beds available, there was also a lap pool in the area, and staff were round regularly taking orders from drinks
We did a lovely tour at 7.30 am with Vaughn, who walked us round the whole grounds, and gave a very informative tour and info on all the local vegetation, what different plants are used for etc . He also included a walk through the village beside the hotel grounds. For transfers to the beach, the use 3 different beaches each with restaurants on them which are all included in the All Inclusive package. (Turners, The Nest and Gibson’s) All the beaches were beautiful and Turners was the furthest transfer at around 7 mins. When you have had enough at the beach, you get the restaurant or bar to call the hotel and they have someone pick you up again. The 3 beaches all had guests from the hotel either there before we arrived, or they arrived just before we were moving on to the next beach, again there were plenty of room on the beaches and plenty of beds available, so it seems to work very well, and of course you get a choice of 3 different hotel beaches with facilities rather than just one!! Vaughn dropped us off at Jolly Harbour on the way back for a run round the shops, although you could walk easily to Jolly Harbour area from the hotel. The hotel is quite popular with locals at the weekends and gets very busy in the bar area downstairs where they have live bands playing, and also the Hilltop restaurant which has amazing views gets booked up quite a bit in advance for most nights of the week.




This was my second visit to Antigua, and although we squeezed a lot into our trip, I felt I had enough time to take everything in, without one hotel blending into another. Antigua is suitable for all client types singles, couples and families, there is lots for everyone to do in Antigua from watersports, deep sea fishing, sunset cruises, Zip wire experience, Antigua is packed with history and a trip to English Harbour is a must. Shirley Heights a weekly hot spot popular with tourists, there are many sugar plantation tours, and of course with 365 public beaches there is always the ever popular sunbathing.
Crime in Antigua is very rare and I found the majority of the locals very helpful and kind and they always have an amusing story to tell. The hotel staff are multi cultural with many coming from other Caribbean Islands and there is a large expat population on Antigua.

I look forward greatly to my next visit to Antigua in the future.
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A Trip to Oman

A Trip to Oman





Time to Check in Procedures and Attitude of staff:
CHECK IN WAS GOOD/ FAST AND STAFF FRIENDLY

Departure Facilities- Restaurants/Shops/Lounges/information ETC


Type of Aircraft and configuration:2 4 2
On board Entertainment/Meals/service on board: ENTERTAINMENT WAS GOOD / VARIOUS TV CHANNELS/ MUSIC CHANNELS AND GAMES .
MEALS 3 CHOICES OF MAIN COURSES
SERVICE WAS GOOD


Information Given And Length Of Journey: 7 HOURS


The Arrival

Immigration: VERY GOOD , ESCORTED TO THE LOUNGE WHILE CHECK IN WAS DONE FOR US


Luggage Retrieval:LUGGAGE READY STRAIGHT AWAY ONCE CUSTOMS WAS COMPLETE



Transfers/Accommodation
Names of Hotels: Shangri - La

Getting from Airport to Hotel


Accommodation- Check in service
Check in service was very good, welcome drinks and cold towels on arrival.


Room Size And Facilities (what is the bedding for a family room)
Deluxe rooms are very spacious in all 3 hotels – Al Waha , Al Bandar and Al Husan
Bathrooms also very large with bath, separate shower room and toilet .



Accommodation Facilities (taking grade into Consideration)- Restaurant/Bar/Pool/Gym Facilities for Disabled and Children Please list all accommodation and use separate sheets if necessary or web links to the accommodation)Facilities include – Spa called Chi , children’s play area at the Al Waha, Lazy river (al waha / al Bandar)pool for each hotel. 18 restaurants between all 3 resorts . Shopping Village including a soft play area for small children. Private beach offering Camel rides.

Things to consider for the Disabled
1. Is there a roll-in shower.YES
2.Is the room accessible YES
3. Are the public areas accessible.YES
4.Is the surrounding area accessible YES



Give Examples of local Excursions and cost (do they need to book in advance)

Dolphin watching / Souks inc silver/ mosque/ Nizwa. I would advise to pre book these trips.


Overall impression of the Journey and Destination REALLY ENJOYED DESTINATION / GOOD CHOICE FOR AN CLIENT WHO DOESN’T LIKE HOW BUILT UP DUBAI IS. VERY RELAXING AND EXCELLENT BEACH DESTINATION.

This resort would be suitable / not suitable for: SUITABLE FOR FAMILIES / COUPLES
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New Year

Only one more day of 2012! Where will you visit in 2013?

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Family trip to Australia

Trip to Australia - part 1






Day 1-2
Flight from EDI to LHR, booked early flight to ensure that I had plenty of time to cover all eventualities! Transfer from T5-T3 pretty seamless and well organised, took train between terminals. Meet up with 3 others from the group at check in, informed that flight has been delayed 2 hours Proceed through security to departure lounge where we meet up with Daniel who had gone through earlier. A bit of bonding then we meet up the crew from MAN so we are now 1 team! Go for dinner as a group. After dinner we kill time in lounge, more time than we previously thought due to flight delay-all shops shut apart from Starbucks, this flight is seemingly notoriously late, Starbucks must make a killing!
Boarding the flight not a great experience, seem to be waiting about for a long time and all seems to be a bit chaotic. Eventually arrive onboard and experience the A380 for the first time, very impressive! Seats are very comfortable and decent leg room, handy as we have a rather long 13 hour initial flight! Inflight entertainment is excellent aboard Qantas, lots and lots of new and old movies to choose from plus loads of TV shows, certainly makes 13hours flying a lot easier. Group getting on very well, everybody seems to have a very similar sense of humour!
Arrive into Singapore, various differences with sleeping patterns with some of the group members sleeping for the whole flight and some not at all!! Originally meant to have 3 hours in transit in airport but due to delay we are whisked straight onto the connecting flight-really strange as plane seems rather dated in comparison to the A380! Sit back down for final leg of journey for 7 hour flight.




Day 3
Arrive into Brisbane airport rather bleary eyed, and go through what can only be described as endless security through Brisbane airport, warned not to use mobile phone until out of security or could face $1000 fine, can’t see Gold Medal stumping at that cash!
We all pile into minibus transfer and proceed on our 2 hour transfer to Noosa. Group bonding very well and everybody in good spirits.
Arrive into Noosa at about 9:30am where we arrive at the Outrigger Little Hastings. First impressions are that its a very modern hotel with a strange rather harsh appearance to it. Rooms are not ready so we head down to town to have a look about. WOW. Beach is incredible, lovely views with big waves and golden sand. A lot of surfers about and a few people taking in the sun. Decide to go for coffee and sit in the sun and take in the atmosphere. Work out that I have forgotten sun glasses and flip flops, or thongs as the Aussie’s call them, so purchase the essentials to try and blend in with the locals. Doesn’t work as I soon realise that i’m not tanned and don’t possess a six pack.
Go for hosted lunch with Juanita at the local Surf Club. Amazing views and incredible food, very relaxed atmosphere and immediately you can see the appeal that Noosa has. Go back to the hotel to check in and put cases in rooms. Rooms are very spacious and have a very modern look to them, huge balconies. The boys decide to hit the beach and attempt the waves. Fail. Waves are deceptively strong! Good fun though.
Back to hotel for quick shower and change before we go for a hosted dinner in the hotel. Lovely food and great company and everybody is getting on great, although we are all shattered and end up in bed by 9:30pm!




Day 4
The alarm is not my friend. Manage to peel my eyes open at 5:30am to get ready for pick up at 6:15am. A rather large 4x4 bus pulls up called The Warrior. We wonder why we need such a powerful vehicle, we soon find out.
Driving along the main road we take a turnoff down a dirt track to have the view of the beach in front of us. My initial thought was that we were stopping for a photo, but no, the beach forms part of their road system so we end up driving along the beach. Very surreal moment to be honest driving along the beach right next to the sea with the sun just coming up. Amazing. We stop further down the road for coffee and explore the large sand dunes.
Back on the Warrior we take a car ferry over to Fraser Island which is the largest sand island on the world. Again the road is the beach so we drive for miles admiring the beautiful scenery. We then find out why such a large and powerful vehicle is required. I will never complain about another pothole in the UK again! The road is very, very bumpy and we are thrown about all over the place. After what feels like an eternity of bouncing about, we arrive at the summit of the island and at Lake Mackenzie which is spectacular. A very large , blue freshwater lake which lures the boys in for a swim for the next hour! The girls sunbathe on the beach. Afterwards we are treated to a lovely BBQ and rainforest walk.
Back on the Warrior for the bumpy ride home! Most people end up having a bit of shut eye at some points though and we arrive back at the hotel to get ready for our hosted dinner at Cafe Le Monde. Again the food is amazing and the group is gelling very well. Instead of names, nicknames have been generated which make for some very entertaining moments!!!! Early to bed again.




Day 5
Again the eyes have to be peeled open for a 730am meet where we are picked up for our transfer back to Brisbane. We arrive at Brisbane port to be met by a very enthusiastic Craig who is the Director of Sales at the Tangalooma resort. After a mini brief we board the ferry over to Tangalooma which takes about an hour. Craig talks about the history of the island and listening to him makes me look forward to our day ahead.
Upon arrival onto the island we are greeted by Pelicans on the beach which was lovely! The island is contains just the one hotel and resort which we will be staying at. After a quick look about we are treated to another amazing BBQ. The Aussies really know how to put on a BBQ! After all that food I could do with my bed, but judging by Craig’s energy I don’t think that’s on the cards.
We have a site inspection and what strikes me is the different levels of client that they are targeting ranging from mid level to fairly high standard. After the inspection we once again go into a large 4x4 vehicle, we all pray that it’s low key this time! Ends up just as bumpy but the trip only last 10 mins. We stop again at the summit where we are presented with huge sand dunes and are told that we will be surfing down them on our fronts! Brief explanation then we have to climb up the dunes to the top, not as easy as it sounds and I can only imagine how difficult it would be in 40 degrees heat in the middle of the summer! It was worth it though, travelling down about 30kmh an hour on your front is fun! Group picture then head back down to the resort.
We all meet to go Quad Biking-highlight of my trip so far! Brilliant fun, split into 2 groups-men and women, although I think a few of the girls would have preferred to be in our group as they seemed to be a little more subdued! Sun was just about setting coming back down into the resort and the view was amazing. Quick drink at the bar to then feed the Wild Dolphins at the beach, could this day get any better?
Yes is the answer. After a lovely hosted dinner, we end up going to the resort entertainment which was a race night. After a few races we are left the finale which is the opportunity to buy a horse and as a group we club together to buy Crocodile Snatch. With a name like that how could we lose?? We leave as a group $90 up!
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Paris

My recent travels took me over the English Channel to the city of light, home of the best cheese and finest wine, Paris. The perfect destination for sightseeing , indulgence and the ultimate shopping experience, aside from its delightfully fluffy pastries and questionably fashioned men, Paris caters for all and is certain to keep all visitors entertained, from the culture intrigued, to the fashion hungry - there's something for everyone.

What to wear

Sometimes, no matter how much you try and disguise - you will always be recognised as English; do not despaire however, there are always steps to guide you to save you from looking like a typical tourist; if you really pull it off, you might even convince people your middle name is Francois.
Firstly, comfortable footwear is a must. Despite the many methods of transport in Paris you should expect to walk a good few miles during the day and your Christian Louboutins just won't cut it - I suggest wearing your most comfortablest day shoes for exploring; trainers are regarded as the tourist's uniform however I will turn a blind eye if it is what you feel most happy in, other options can be sandals brogues or any other sensible flat shoe to ensure you won't be begging for a piggy back every five minutes.
The rest of you attire can be dependant on the weather and your mood; hot and sunny? Wear light clothes and make sure you smother yourself in sun cream to avoid burning; clouds disguising the sun? Opt for slightly warmer clothing but add a cashmere or cotton scarf with a jacket you can easily shrug off once the weather gets brighter.

How to get around

I found the easiest form of transport to cover as much Parisian ground as possible was the Metro, similar to London's tubes you can find your admiring Notre Dame and then eating a panini near the steps of the eiffel tower 10 minutes later. Like in London, Oyster Cards can be purchased to give you unlimited access over a certain amount of consecutive days; you can also buy a book of 12 tickets which I found used over the space of 5 days was more than enough.
Another great way to get around would be to hop onto one of the many sightseeing tour buses, which you can get access to from recognisable bus stops stationed by some of the main attractions of Paris, (Notre Dame, The Louvre etc). Of course you must indulge in some of the sightseeing by foot; you can't act like a true Parisian and get lost in the streets of Montmatre whilst on a bus so make sure you includet this on your trip.

Money

How much spending money you take along with you is really a judgement call - before you go, breakdown all the things you plan to do whilst there. For example, travelling up the Eiffel Tower will cost you approximately €14 and 3 blisters (if you decide to brave the stairs.)
Ensure you consider the shopping you plan to indulge in whilst you're there - it is the fashion capital after all dahling! But as well as the deliciously expensive boutiques and high end brands of the Chans de lisa, don't forget to explore the vintage and quirky clothing stores of Montmartre just down the street from the Sacre Cour (although it's best to stay in a group when doing such shopping, when braving some of the shops in this area we found some were guarded by Rottweiler's and owned by gents wearing questionably toupees.)

Food in this fabulous city can be surprisingly good value - if you know where to go. You see how prices change as you explore the city, if you're sat in one of the most popular areas of Paris or find yourself in a cafe within touching distance of a major monument, expect to have an extra €10 added to the cost of your croissant, this conundrum is easily rectified however, simply gather your belongings and sidle past the snooty waiter back onto the streets of Paris and walk through the town, down the side streets and just take in your surroundings - you'll be surprised how easy it is to run into a delightfully reasonable bistro with delicious homemade food and a bill which won't leave you choking on your snails.

Staying safe

A final note on this charming city; whilst Paris is a fabulous place to get lost in, just ensure at all times that you keep your valuables safely tucked away out of sight. If you want to take your digital SLR camera to take some stunning city shots, don't wear it around your neck - keep it safe in its camera bag and wear diagonally around your body if possible to ensure you can keep a hand on it at all times, the same goes for your shoulder bag - only take out the cash you need for the day and keep the rest of your currency and valuables in your hotel room safe, not only will this ensure you have money left for a last minute Duty Free raid on the way home but if the worst happens which I hope it doesn't, you won't be left penniless on the streets of Paris.

Lastly, make sure you enjoy Paris. What I've learned from my trip is that not everything the city has to offer is in the guidebook so make sure you take exploring into your own hands and really see the sights of Paris in your own way, what's great about Paris is that no two trips are ever the same so take full advantage in being in one of the world's most exciting cities and really take in everything the city of light has to offer. Bon Voyage!
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The Sunshine State

Florida is renowned for being a holiday haven for groups, families and couples alike; the ultimate holiday destination with just about everything from some of the world's greatest theme parks, to malls capable of keeping the Carrie Bradshaw's of the world happy for days on end.
I had my first experience with Florida at the age of 8 and after almost 13 years since a fix of a Sizzler buffet, a Shamu show and the acceptance of wearing a bum-bag in public - I felt I had waited more than long enough to revisit the sunshine state of Florida and began my preperations for my travels across the Atlantic. With under two months to plan my indulgent break with award-winning sands of Clearwater and all things Disney to cover, my preperations were carried out with military precision which left me care-free for the holiday with my Minnie Mouse ears poised and ready before even touching down at Sanford Airport.

With minimal time for preperation, finding a hotel was as simple as finalising your needs - I specifically looked to find one of the International Drive as this is a prime area for resturants and access to the highway. If you prefer more relaxed surroundings, I would recommend looking for accommodation around Kissimmee, Florida. The International Drive is perfectly situated however for those like me who like to stumble across an IHOP or an all-you-can-eat steak dinner for $7.00 every ten yards.
We eventually chose and booked accommodation at Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Seaworld. It's good reviews along with competitive prices and in a location perfect for exploring the Parks, it had everything we needed including comfortable rooms and a breakfast buffet to keep us bright eyed for the day ahead.

A nine-hour Thomson plane journey, two Cosmopolitans and a demolished Toblerone later, we found ourselves in Florida. We had hired a car with Alamo a week prior to our holiday; with the amount of ground we planned to cover, having our own wheels and air conditioning we didn't have to share was a blessing. However if you don't have the option of car rental, Kanoo offers a range of airport transfers to your accommodation, hotels in the International Drive area often have complimentary transport to the parks.
As my brother got to grips with driving on the other side of the road, I also found myself gripping the dashboard as we made our way down the I-4 highway. Our first port of call after inspecting the delightfully satisfactory hotel (any accommodation which welcomes you with warm cookies is always high on my list), was Wal-mart to stock up on the necessities for our stay.
After wandering round open-mouthed at the novelty food available -("Matthew look! Look! Oreo ice-cream! There's Oreo's IN the ice-cream!") Were only some of the comments made by myself to my brother who acted as though he didn't know this obvious tourist - we filled the trolley with gronola bars, water, fruit, nuts and potato chips which we would take with us to the theme parks to provide us with the energy that ice-cream and lemonade slushies just wouldn't.

From the supermarket you can also pick up a booklet of coupons which provide vouchers for participating restaurants guaranteeing you 10-20% off meals. The majority of restaurants in Florida are purse friendly with great quality food, from the Sizzler's to Ponderosa - also head to; The Outback restaurant, an Australian style bar and grill with (in my opinion) the best steaks around, great service and prices which won't leave you sharing a main meal.
If you feel like treating yourself after a hard day of feeding dolphins or exploring Hogwarts - I recommend a trip to The Hard Rock Cafe located at Universal's City Walk, an amazing restaurant with a wide selection of food and enough music and dancing to keep you entertained throughout your entire meal.

With so much to do whilst you're in Florida, it's hard to imagine having the time to see and do it all. Focus on the main attractions you want to visit; Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios is a perfect ccombination of rides, shows and simulation coasters to keep both thrill seekers and movie lovers happy each visit. Walt Disney World has so much to see and is magical for all ages with rides to suit all - but make sure you take a few days out of the holiday in between exploring to visit the Gulf Coast where you can relax and unwind on soft powdered beaches all set for the next full day of rollercoaster's and exciting shows.

I've noticed people planning on going to Floridahave had issues with knowing how to manage their money whilst there. From experience my advice would be to set a certain limit of money to spend per day, whether it be on meals, drinks or novelty souvenirs - if you keep within your daily budget, you'll find you're able to manage the entire holiday without finding yourself having to use your credit card which is best left saved in case of emergencies...or to use during the Abercrombie and Fitch spree before you head home.

I've learnt from my holiday that's it's beneficial to plan ahead of your trip - for all of your holiday requirements from airport transfers to hotels and park tickets; Kanoo travel can ensure you a tailor made package at great value to fit all of your needs to guarantee you a perfect holiday. If you have any queries or would just like some more information, don't hesitate to call on 0800 458 3412 which will lead you straight to a skilled team of travel consultants dedicated to helping you get the holiday you've dreamed of. With mouse-ears optional and a state based around extraordinary visions, Florida is a holiday of a lifetime for everyone.
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Kanoo Guildford's Laura Slater's report on her visit to Beaches Turks & Caicos

In September 2010 Laura Slater, Travel Consultant in our Guildford Branch visited the Beaches property on the Caribbean Islands of Turks & Caicos. Here is her educational report


The Journey
Time to Check in Procedures and Attitude of staff
We used the Virgin Atlantic self service check-in kiosks at Heathrow’s Terminal 3, which were very easy to use.
Once we had checked in and got our boarding passes, we proceeded to the bag drop then continued through to the departure lounge.

Departure Facilities- Restaurants/Shops/Lounges/information etc
Terminal 3 was very busy and we had to queue in every shop and in the pub where we went for breakfast.
Providenciales airport was very small with 3 souvenir shops, a duty free shop and 1 refreshment stall. The departure lounge at Miami was spacious and airy with more food outlets than shops!

General Facilities for disabled/children
I didn’t notice any facilities for children or disabled people at any of the 3 airports we travelled through. However, I know there was nothing at Providenciales due to it being so small.

Type of Aircraft and configuration
Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow to Miami return on an A340-600
Economy configuration was 2-4-2
American Airlines from Miami to Providenciales return on an B757
Economy configuration was 3-3

Information Given And Length Of Journey
Outbound flight from London Heathrow to Miami was 8 hours 59 minutes
Inbound flight from Miami to London Heathrow was 7 hours 55 minutes (but we landed 30 minutes early)
Internal flight between Miami and Providenciales was 1 hour 15 minutes
The captain on the flight between Miami and Providenciales pointed out the Bahamas for us which looked stunning from the sky!

The Arrival


Immigration


We waited approximately 30 minutes upon our arrival into Miami.
When we landed into Providenciales, we were the last and only flight in, so the wait was literally a few minutes to pass through immigration.
Luggage Retrieval
Very quick when collecting our luggage off all 4 flights!
By the time we had gotten through immigration at Miami on our outbound flight, our bags had been taken off the carrousel and where waiting on the floor for us!


Signage/Transfers

In Miami, the signposts to find our connecting flights where very clear and simple.

Transfers/Accommodation

Names of Hotel
Beaches Turks and Caicos

Getting from Airport to HotelThe transfer between Providenciales airport and the Beaches resort was approx 20 minutes, and our minibus was ready and waiting for us upon our arrival!

Accommodation/Check in service
It was approximately 10pm by the time we got the resort. However the reception staff were still very efficient.
As soon as we got out of the minibus, we were each handed an ice cold towel to freshen up with.
The check-in process took about 15 minutes where we had to fill out a form, and we were given a nice cold fruit cocktail.
One of the reception staff escorted me to my room, and gave me some hotel information en-route.
She came into my room and showed me how to use the door key, the air conditioning and how to activate the power.
My bag was bought up to my room by a porter.

Room Size And Facilities
I stayed in a Medici Ocean View 2 Bedroom Imperial Family Suite with is located in the new Italian Village and sleeps up to 7 people. The facilities of the room included a king size 4 poster bed, 42” flat screen TV with satellite TV, minibar, fridge, microwave, coffee maker, safe, iron and ironing board, umbrellas, i-Pod docking station, telephone, desk, trundle which converts into a bed and a chair which also converts into a bed. Large bathroom which has 2 sinks, a Jacuzzi bath and a shower. Along with ample amounts of soft white towels, amenity kit and a hairdryer.
The children’s room had bunk beds with a pull out bed for a 3rd child, a 22” flat screen TV with an X-BOX computer console, books, a wardrobe and their own bathroom sink.
My balcony was very spacious with amazing views of the beach and the pool area. It had a table with 4 chairs and a double sun lounger

Accommodation Facilities (taking grade into Consideration)- Restaurant/Bar/Pool/Gym Facilities for Disabled and Children
The resort has a total of 16 restaurants with a variety of cuisines. There are also 2 restaurants for children to get snacks and where they can pull their own ice creams!
There are a total of 5 pools, 2 children pools, 3 swim-up bars and the Pirate Island water park complete with a lazy river!! There is also an adult’s only Jacuzzi deck which is located overlooking the beach.
For children there are fully supervised kids clubs and nursery, Sesame Street characters who do a weekly parade through the resort, X-box game garage, the Scratch DJ Academy where kids can learn to be DJ’s and the kids nightclub! In all restaurants there are special kid’s menus.
All non-motorised water sports and land sports are included. There is a Red Lane Spa on resort (treatments bookable and payable locally) and a fitness centre which is free for guests to use and is open 24 hours a day.
There is also an Island Routes excursion desk, located in the Caribbean Village area of the resort, where guests can book and pay for any local excursions.
There are a few shops onsite, including a souvenir shop and a sweetie shop!!!
The resort is flat therefore will be fine for any disabled guests. In the Italian Village there are lifts, as there are 6 floors. In the other resorts they are 2 storey buildings so do not have lifts.

Summary
What have you learned on the trip?
I’ve learnt that Beaches is exactly the same standard as Sandals, with the only difference being that children are permitted at Beaches!
The beach area of Providenciales is quite built up with a lot of hotels.
I would recommend that customers use the direct BA service departing on a Sunday, especially if travelling with children. We used the in-direct service via Miami, and even though the flight connection where smooth, the total journey time was 19 hours door to door.
I would recommend guests to do the Kitty Cat Catamaran cruise which takes you to an uninhabited island with the most beautiful beaches, so you get to see the natural and unspoiled Turks and Caicos! The cruise also stops off at a reef where you can go snorkeling.

Overall impression of the Journey and Destination
Overall the Beaches resort was absolutely stunning and I couldn’t fault the staff or the resort atall!
I was slightly disappointed with the Virgin flight. The seat pitch in economy felt small complared to other airlines, and on the return flight the cabin crew weren’t’ particularly helpful and came across as rather rude.
The cabin crew and aircraft was better with American Airlines on the 1 hour internal flight between Miami and Providenciales!

For more information about Beaches properties in the Caribbean, including some great deals, please give us a call on 0800 458 342
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2 for 1 Sandals and Beaches Holidays

Kanoo Travel has teamed up with Sandals and Beaches Resorts to bring you fantastic half-price all-inclusive holidays. These amazing holiday deals include all meals, unlimited premium brand drinks, nightly entertainment, and the luxury accommodation for which Beaches and Sandals have become famous.

Sandals Resorts have been created with romance in mind and cater for couples only. Beaches Resorts are crafted around the family, with adults and children alike catered for.

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