az-u-r – new restaurant by Emirates Hotels & Resorts opens at The Harbour Hotel & Residence in Dubai Marina

The Harbour Hotel & Residence, Emirates’ city-based hotel located in the Dubai Marina, opens the doors of its new restaurant az-u-r, Dubai’s first ‘farm-to-fork’ restaurant, delivering the kind of food which has made Mediterranean cooking the world’s most popular dining choice.

az-u-r (read ‘as you are’) is inspired by the cooking styles from countries around ‘The Med’, from Spain and Morocco in the west to Lebanon in the east. In addition, it serves many of those great traditional dishes for which French and Italian cooking have become famous.

Tony Williams, Senior Vice President, Emirates Hotels & Resorts said: “We really wanted to mirror the authentic food experienced in regional Mediterranean towns and villages where local produce is provided fresh on a daily basis, and immediately used in traditional menus, often following family recipes. As a result the food is distinctive, giving guests a tastier, ‘made-to-order’ and homemade ‘farm-to-fork’ dining experience.”

Executive Chef, Chris Baker, who put together the culinary team at The Harbour, commented: “There are several key aspects to Mediterranean cooking, and each one has been tackled with equal passion. The first challenge was to trace authentic, family-tradition homemade recipes. We then met personally with many of the fresh-produce suppliers to small, regional restaurants in the Mediterranean. In doing so, we have uncovered some of the world’s best organic food producers, and certainly some of the highest quality produce I have seen in years. ‘Farm-to-fork’ became our motto – we travelled extensively, visiting fruit and vegetable farms, local bread mills and bakeries, and even fish-markets.

“The effort was time-consuming, but certainly worth it. For example, we even source our own wheat and wholegrain flour for the bakery, baking all our own bread every day using fresh eggs and quality butter. Preparing food from scratch makes a huge difference. Our bread is now so popular that we bake extra so that local residents can come and collect their bread at Counter Culture, our deli-style restaurant on the ground level.”

az-u-r is on the pool-deck of the Harbour Hotel & Residence, and aligned with the Timeless Spa on the same level. To complement the Spa, the restaurant offers a range of healthy menus, from cheeses to wholesome salads, which predominantly use organic products. The az-u-r kitchen is open in design, giving guests easy access to the chefs and the experience of a cosy, informal atmosphere.

More than 70 per cent of the produce served at az-u-r has been organically sourced. The staff have been trained by organic expert Dave Friend, who also assisted in the selection of food, sourced according to the seasons. Produce comes from as far a field as Spain, Italy, Lebanon, and France.

An extensive choice of wines and mineral waters accompany the culinary options, with az-u-r offering a selection of over 70 wines, including Vega Sicilia Unico, Tignanello, Sassicaia, Chateau Musar and Chateau Cheval Blanc, alongside a collection of organic wines.

az-u-r has a relaxed and casual atmosphere, integral to the restaurant’s dining offering. An easy place to meet for an aperitif, the venue is comfortable, with direct views of the Marina. From the spacious terrace, guests can feel immersed in the ultimate Dubai experience and al-fresco dining options are available.

About the Harbour Hotel & Residence
The 52-storey luxurious Harbour Hotel & Residence, a USD141 million investment for Emirates, opened its doors in November 2007. Located at the gateway entrance to the Dubai Marina, the hotel is set within Dubai’s most fashionable and sought-after lifestyle districts.

The Harbour Hotel & Residence is part of Emirates Hotels & Resorts, the premier hospitality division of Emirates Airline. The division manages a portfolio of award-winning luxury conservation resorts and spas, as well as a Dubai-based fully-serviced luxury apartment complex.

Via EPR Network

 

Additional flight taxes are almost certain to affect the tourism of islands like Menorca

Cheaper flights have enabled millions more families to take a holiday in an overseas destination, and many European coastal resorts have developed to cater for the increase in tourists. Cheap flights from low cost airlines operating out of the UK and other European countries could be under threat as the Conservative Party – once a campaigner and implementer of lower taxes – has called for purchase tax to be introduced to domestic flights.

The tax would add up to 17.5 per cent on to the cost of a flight from one British city to another, but while flights to the European mainland and popular holiday islands such as Menorca aren’t specifically mentioned, one travel company believes the new policy will inevitably lead to higher fares for flights not just within Britain, but elsewhere too.

The Tory policy review calls for the UK to be a leader on green growth, noting that it was illogical for flights to attract less tax than cars and trains, with David Cameron, the Tory Party leader, saying that much of the report would be included in their manifesto at the next British General Election, which could be up to two years away, but at the time could have been just weeks away as Prime Minister Gordon Brown considered an early poll.

‘It’s not so much that we’re convinced the Tories will win the next election and tax domestic flights’, say the travel company, ‘But by proposing new taxes on flights it leads the door open to the Labour Party, who are more likely to win, to use taxes on flights as a revenue raiser with no opposition from the Tories who are traditionally seen as the tax cutting party. We have no doubt that flights will be taxed a lot more in 2008 because the Tories have now made it a soft target for the British government of any political persuasion and the Treasury when they prepare their annual budgets.’

Citing Menorca as an example, the company points to the holiday industry on the island being a major employer, and the Menorca map changing over the years as new resorts have been built to accommodate additional visitors.

‘One of the other aspects of the report that is a worry for the holiday industry’, continues the travel company, ‘Is that new runways at Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow Airports are all ruled out – all three airports serve London and the South-East of England. Any increased demand for example for Menorca holidays probably won’t be able to be met without increased capacity, inevitably leading to a consequence of higher prices overall.’

From the environmental lobby the Green Party described the proposals as ‘fiddling around the edges when what is needed is urgent and radical action’, adding that the Tory eco-taxes would hit the poorest in society hardest.

Menorca
Citing Menorca as typical of the areas that could be affected most by additional flight taxes, the travel company takes the view that any downturn in visitor numbers and the volume of bookings for holidays and hotels in Menorca would hit an island that relies heavily on tourism.

The Spanish island is currently served by three UK airlines that offer scheduled flights, including one low cost carrier that offers cheap flights to Menorca. But there are a high number of holiday companies who offer chartered flights in the summer months, and these companies have helped reduced prices for holidaymakers visiting the island. Neighbouring island Majorca attracted most UK tourists for 2007, beating off competition from low cost destinations in Eastern Europe, and Menorca has also benefitted from an increase in visitor numbers.

Despite their geographical closeness and being part of the same group of islands, the Balearics, Menorca and Majorca attract a different type of tourist from each other, and with Ibiza the third of the islands each has its own appeal, and each her unique selling points when compared to each other.

Ibiza is known in Europe for her clubs and nightlife, with 18 to 30’s and their high disposable incomes preferring the island to quieter Majorca and Menorca. A survey by the island’s tourist board sprung a surpise for many in the hotels and holidays industry with a report showing of the three islands that Ibiza’s visitors spent more on their holidays than those in Majorca and on holiday in Menorca.

Majorca is a favourite holiday island for both the British and Germans, and as well as having a cosmopolitan feel to it offers both nightlife for the young with luxury hotels and villa holidays for older visitors. Plans are in place to build Spain’s top luxury hotel on the island.

The island of Menorca, also known as Minorca, is regarded as the quietest of the three holiday islands, and family orientated, with tourists just as likely to be taking a villa holiday with companies like James Villas as they are staying in a hotel or holiday apartment. The island is at her best in May and September when the island’s roads are quiet and the but everyone is geared up for the season.

The travel company who produce YourMenorca.net concludes that all three islands would be affected detrimentally by any further increases in taxes on flights, infrastructure improvements and new hotels in Menorca planned for the future might have to be reconsidered if the number of tourists visiting for a holiday comes down.

Image courtesy of menocar.com

Via EPR Network

Ciclismo Classico, one of the country’s leading bicycle vacation companies, expands its trip destinations by now offering biking vacations in Vietnam, New Zealand and Chile/Argentina

In an effort to expand beyond Europe and to uphold its mission to discover the best bicycling routes in the world, Ciclismo Classico, one of the country’s premier bicycle tour companies, has added three new regions to explore, giving travelers the opportunity to cycle during the fall and winter from October – March. For its 2008-2009 season, Ciclismo Classico has added Chile & Argentina, New Zealand and Vietnam.

When we started 20 years ago, our focus was on Italy,” says Ciclismo founder and cycling enthusiast Lauren Hefferon. “Over the years we added France, Spain, New England and many others continuing our goal of offering an array of safe, healthy, fun vacations that span Europe and immerse our riders in the culture and cuisine of the country they’re visiting. Now, with the addition of three new continents to our trip menu, new and returning cyclists will experience touring the Ciclismo Classico way in places where the lands are ripe with discovery and the dollar goes a bit farther.”

The company, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, has put together these three new tours, all of which include local guides, a fully-outfitted bicycle rental, accommodations and meals, cultural excursions, travel planning and more:

Chile and Argentina – debuts October 25, 2008
Ciclismo’s South American tour is the only one of its kind and offers the option of an 8-day base trip or a 10-day extended trip. Riders will cycle nearly 200 miles of scenic mountain routes with the snow-capped Andes nearby. Along the way, you’ll get the chance to ride by the Seven Lakes, visit five national parks, take a hike to Petrohue Falls, stop at the Curarrehue Museum and soak in the Huife hot springs. The additional two days will feature a trip to Santiago and the Colchagua Valley, an exclusive discussion about Chilean wines with a local sommelier, three private winery visits, and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Vina Viu Manent’s vineyard. The 8-day trip starts at $3.795/person. The two night post-trip extension is an additional $1,195.

New Zealand – debuts November 16, 2008
This itinerary offers the choice between the base 10-day trip and an extended 14-day stay. The nearly 300-mile journey on the South Island starts in Christchurch and continues along New Zealand’s west coast and through the Southern Alps. During the bike tour, guests will ride the TranzAlpine Train, one of the world’s greatest scenic railway journeys. In addition to great biking, guests will witness a jade carving demonstration, hike to the base of the Fox Glacier in Westland National Park, go sea kayaking, and even visit a sheep farm. The extended package includes an overnight cruise on Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, the opportunity to ride an additional 100+ miles, a stay in Te Anau, a ride to the shores of Lake Wakatipu, and a steamship ride to Queenstown. The 10-day trip starts at $3,995/person. The optional four night post-trip extension is an additional $1,895.

Vietnam – debuts October 25, 2008
This 11-day ride from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) features more than 200 miles of scenic and cultural cycling including riverside riding, coastal explorations, mountain passes, rolling hills and small villages. Riders will get the chance to see a traditional water puppet performance in Hanoi, experience a garden and tea stop while cycling through Hue and boat to the Coral Islands off Nha Trang. The itinerary also features exclusive visits to the homes of four Vietnamese experts, a boat cruise on the Perfume River and a ride to the famous Cu Chi tunnels. Guests also have the option to extend this trip for four days for a visit to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, where they will explore the city of Angkor Thom, visit the famous temple complex and a local Cambodian orphanage. The 11-day trip starts at $3,995/person, and the three night post-trip extension is an additional $1,275.

These tours are designed for small groups of between 14 and 18 guests, so space is very limited. A $500 deposit is required to make a reservation. For more information on any of these trips or for other Ciclismo Classico excursions throughout Europe and New England, please visit www.ciclismoclassico.com.

Ciclismo Classico has been recognized by several publications for its outstanding trip itineraries. In 2004 and 2007, Outside Magazine awarded Ciclismo the “Trip of the Year” for Western Europe, and Men’s Journal named the Southern Italy: Sea to Sea trip as one of the “Top 100 Trips on the Planet.” Ciclismo has also been covered by the Denver Post, Bicycling, Business Week and Marin Magazine, among others.

About Ciclismo Classico
As a specialized boutique bicycle tour operator since 1988, Ciclismo Classico provides the most authentic, unique and exciting vacations in the adventure travel industry. Their well-crafted, award-winning educational trips in Europe, South America, New Zealand, Asia and New England are active immersions into local art, language, music, folklore and, delicious cuisine. By combining legendary service and rare cultural experiences, the Ciclismo travel experience continues to energize and transform each and every guest. For more information about Ciclismo Classico, visit www.ciclismoclassico.com

via EPR Network

Emirates has announced features and amenities exclusive to passengers travelling on its new Airbus A380 aircraft

Emirates, the rapidly expanding Dubai based airline, has announced several of the features and amenities that passengers can enjoy on the new Airbus A380, in a move that the company hopes will offer travellers the comfort and space previously only associated with private jets.

Following the delivery of the first Airbus A380 to join the Emirates fleet on the 28th July, the interiors and onboard product were finally revealed, with many already commenting that the new aircraft could revolutionise air travel.

Spread over two levels, the Emirates A380 aircraft will feature a carefully designed interior, offering passengers the maximum amount of space and comfort available. The upper deck of the plane will be dedicated to Premium Class passengers and will feature several amenities never before seen on a commercial passenger aircraft. 14 flat-bed suites situated near the front of the aircraft will offer a spacious work area, electronically controlled mini bar and what many are calling the most advanced in-flight entertainment system available.

However, it is one of the amenities of First Class that has been the focal point for discussion among those who have seen it. An On Board Shower Spa, from the airline’s spa brand, Timeless Spa, is available to all First Class travellers. The showers will be regulated through a software programme that works a traffic light system, giving each customer a five minutes shower.

Business Class on the A380 is also set to offer passengers some innovative features. Cleverly designed seating enables all travellers on the aircraft to have aisle access, with easy laptop stowage and a selection of beverages available in a Business Class lounge, while those travelling in Economy Class can enjoy spacious and comfortable seats and Gourmet chef prepared meals.

The A380 also produces 50% less cabin noise than its nearest sized rival aircraft and a higher cabin pressure, both proven to reduce the effects of travel fatigue and to ensure a pleasant flight for all passengers.

Travellers will be able to make up their own minds about the A380 aircraft at the start of August when Emirates Airline launches its first commercial flight from Dubai to New York’s JFK, with further flights following later in the month.

About the Emirates Group:
Emirates, the Dubai airline, is one of the world’s most successful and rapidly-expanding airlines. Emirates is currently the only airline to operate non-stop flights to six continents from one hub.

Emirates is by far the biggest customer of the Superjumbo which means the Emirates A380 will eventually be available on more international routes than any other airline. If a person is travelling on an A380 there will be around a one-in-four likelihood that they will be flying Emirates.

via EPR Network

First Annual CKG Tour World Junior Golf Tournament to be Held August 6-10 in Myrtle Beach, SC

Signature Golf Packages, Inc. is gearing up for the first annual CKG Tour World Junior golf tournament which will be held August 6-10 in Myrtle Beach, SC. Visit ckgtour.com for all the details on seeing the best junior golfers from around the world!

Don’t forget to ask for our “GOLF AND GAS Rebate” special when you book your fall or winter golf package with Signature Golf Packages.

Las Vegas is one of the most exciting cities in the world to visit! Check out signaturelasvegasgolf.com for the best in desert golf!

For more information, on Signature Golf Packages, please contact us at 1-866-462-9885 or visit www.signaturegolfpackages.com. Let us put our “Signature” on your next Myrtle Beach golf vacation.

via EPR Network

Signature Golf Packages, Inc. is proud to announce their new golf destination in Las Vegas, Nevada

Signature Golf Packages, Inc. is proud to announce their new golf destination in Las Vegas, Nevada. Signature Golf Las Vegas has a collection of over 20 courses from such great designers as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

We are excited to be affiliated with Sonoran Suites and their beautiful two and three bedroom condos located just minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip. Visit Signature Las Vegas Golf for more information on golf tee times and golf packages.

Summer is in “full swing” on the Grand Strand in Myrtle Beach. We have some great summer rates as well as fall specials for your group or family.

For more information, on Signature Golf Packages, please contact us at 1-866-462-9885 or visit signaturegolfpackages.com. Let us put our “Signature” on your next Myrtle Beach golf vacation.

via EPR Network