Four British Travel Awards Nominations For Warner Leisure Hotels

Warner Leisure Hotels, the award-winning hotel group renowned for its short break leisure holidays, has been nominated in four separate categories in the prestigious British Travel Awards 2009/2010, including Best Leisure Hotel Chain and Best UK/Domestic Tour Operator.

Warner Leisure Hotels

These nominations recognise the wide range of choices provided by the group’s six historic hotels, three character hotels and four coastal resorts exclusively for adults across all of its activities, from rooms and dining to leisure activities, which are combined with affordable luxury and a friendly, informal and sociable atmosphere.

Warner’s Experiences also get a special mention this year, with a nomination in the Best Special Interest/Adventure Tour Operator category. Experiences are additional activities which can be added to a stay for a small supplement. Currently the group has over 600 on offer, ranging from traditional hot air balloon trips, numerous dance breaks, antiques with Eric Knowles and painting to the quirkier Psychic School With the Psychic Sisters, Walking With Llamas and beekeeping for beginners.

The fourth nomination is particularly special for Warner Leisure Hotels, with Thoresby Hall Hotel and Spa, one of its flagship hotels, being singled out in the category for Best UK Boutique (or individual) Hotel. This magnificent mansion overlooks a stunning Capability Brown view with fabulous gardens of over 40 acres, a state of the art spa and three restaurants which offer a wide range of cuisine from cosmopolitan and Italian, to fine dining. With leisure facilities comprising a fitness centre and indoor pool and live entertainment every night, guests rarely want to venture outside of the hotel and gardens.

About Warner Leisure Hotels:
Exclusively for adults, Warner Leisure Hotels’ enjoys an occupancy rate of 95% in its portfolio of 13 properties across the UK. As well as offering a wide choice and style of accommodation, each with its own personality. Renowned for its short breaks and spa breaks, the hotel chain is also known for its wide range of Experiences, offering over 600 additional activities from hot air balloon trips and antiques with TV’s Eric Knowles to a Mini Cooper Treasure Hunt and numerous dance breaks.

The group currently receives around half a million guests annually but is expecting even more this year as many people are choosing UK Breaks and rediscovering beautiful Britain.

Via EPR Network

According To Europcar Families Taking Domestic Holidays This Summer Should Look At Alternatives To Traditional Rail Travel This Summer For Value And Convenience

According to Europcar, the UK’s leading vehicle hire company, families taking domestic holidays this summer should look at alternatives to traditional rail travel this summer for value and convenience. With rail fares going up by an average of 6%* this year combined with planned engineering works at weekends on some routes throughout July and August, Europcar is advising families to consider the freedom and affordability of car hire as the ideal way to get to their destination and explore the UK’s more inaccessible countryside attractions and secluded beaches.

europcar

Catriona Lougher, marketing director for Europcar, said: “We all want to get our holiday off to a good start and while rail is a great solution for many, the logistical issues of getting to and f r o m the station with children and suitcases in tow can make for a fractious time. Weighed up with higher rail fares and the chance that engineering works often means travel in replacement buses – and car hire becomes an increasingly attractive option. For example, a family of four travelling f r o m Bristol to Edinburgh could save around £600** on the price of a train fare, by opting to get a family car hire for the trip.

“Hiring a vehicle for some journeys not only offers substantial savings but the comfort, convenience and flexibility that rail travel struggles to offer.”

Europcar offers customers free car hire delivery and collection f r o m most of its 200+ locations across the UK through its weDeliver service ensuring a stress-free start to the holidays. In addition, Europcar’s Airport Connect service means holidaymakers can hire a vehicle f r o m their local branch and leave it at the airport and then pick it up again at the end of their return flight. Airport Connect means travellers can wave goodbye to hauling luggage across town and dealing with train connections and stressful delays.

Europcar’s service also helps customers avoid train delays, hefty fare increases and overcrowding. In addition, there are no worries over maintenance, 24 hour roadside assistance plus the fuel efficiencies of driving a relatively new vehicle suited to the journey and number of passengers.

*Source: Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc)
**Based on an open return rail fare, compared with a 7 day, pre-pay hire of compact vehicle.

About Europcar
Europcar is the European leader in passenger car and light utility vehicle rentals. The company serves business and leisure customers throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. Since March 2007 with the acquisition of Vanguard EMEA, its network comprises over 5,300 rental outlets in 160 countries.

Via EPR Network

According To A Poll British Men Are Preserving The Right To Enjoy Their Last Days Of Pre-Nuptial Freedom While Brides-To-Be Are Reining In Their Spending And Economising On Hen Parties

Hotels.com and Wedding Ideas magazine found that stags continue to revel in a final fling of freedom as three quarters (74%) say their celebrations will last for a weekend or longer. Stay-at-home hens, meanwhile, are far more likely to economise as two-thirds (59%) say their pre-marital celebrations will only last one day.

hotels.co.uk

Accordingly, the research found, stags are spending considerably more – parting with £179 each on average for each party they attend. Hens spend a more modest £118 on the celebration.

Stags are far more likely than their hen counterparts to venture beyond British shores for their celebration, with a third (32%) planning parties overseas. Of all stags polled, a quarter (27%) will head to European party destinations while another one-in-twenty (5%) will venture even further afield to the US or Canada. As a result, a number of the top stag do destinations were foreign cities: Prague (second), Amsterdam (third), Barcelona (fifth) and Tallinn (eighth) all feature in the top ten destinations for stags, although London retained the top spot. With many stag nights now going beyond one night and into a weekend, this saw a boost for London hotels last year.

At the other end of the scale, the vast majority (96%) of brides-to-be will celebrate in the UK and more than a quarter (28%) will not venture further than their home towns. In fact, only one foreign destination – the Spanish city of Barcelona – made it into the top 10 most popular locations for hen parties. Hens booking accommodation for their celebrations looked first to London, closely followed by Brighton, then Edinburgh hotels and accommodation in Devon, Cornwall and Bath.

Alison Couper, director of communications for Hotels.com says “Traditionally the wedding day is all about the bride, so it would seem that many grooms use their stag do as an opportunity to take share the limelight ahead of the big day.”

Rachel Moschke, editor of Wedding Ideas magazine, said: “Most of us worry about keeping our wedding costs to a minimum, and brides are becoming increasingly conscious of what they ask their friends and family to pay for. The hen do is one area where brides feel like they need to keep their eye on the budget and are celebrating in the UK so there is more in the kitty for their big day.”

Research was conducted among 300 Wedding Ideas magazine readers in May/June 2009.

About Hotels.com
As part of the Expedia group which operates in all major markets with dedicated staff, Hotels.com offers more than 100,000 quality hotels worldwide including New York hotelsRome hotels and Paris hotels. If a customer can find the same deal for less on a prepaid hotel, Hotels.com will match it. Hotels.com benefits from one of the largest hotel contracting teams in the industry negotiating the best rates for its users, plus the site has user-contributed reviews of its properties.

About Wedding Ideas Magazine
Wedding Ideas Magazine is the UK’s best-selling handbag-sized bridal magazine and is on sale from newsagents and supermarkets nationwide. Wedding Ideas has hundreds of ideas every month, from dresses and accessories to stationery, gifts and honeymoon ideas.

Via EPR Network

The FT Reports Bookings For All Inclusive Holidays Were Up 20% On 2008

The Financial Times reported recently (6.2.09) that bookings for all inclusive holidays were up 20% on 2008, despite the current economic troubles. Holidays in Turkey and Egypt are increasingly popular medium haul destinations, out of the expensive Eurozone but close enough to be medium haul.

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Tui Travel’s latest UK consumer research indicates that 87% of Brits are planning to travel abroad on holiday this summer, the same as last year, and 94% of them are heading straight for a package deal.

At the same time, VisitBritan’s research shows that Brits are planning to stay home in 2009, rushing to book five million more UK-based holidays than last year. So what’s going on?

Holiday price comparison website BeatTheBrochure isn’t surprised. “Both arguments make complete sense. Take the surge in demand for UK-based holidays. In hard times people go for known quantities. They choose serious leaders rather than charismatic ones. Staying in becomes the new going out. On the other hand people who took an exotic foreign holiday last year might be making savings by choosing a better value foreign option, like all inclusive holidays. They’re still going abroad, they’re just spending less.”

So can the apparent resilience of the all inclusive holidays market, long and medium haul travel and package holidays co-exist with an equally apparent massive hike in UK based ‘stay at home’ holidays?

Obviously doing your homework is as important as ever, if not more so. In line with the economy, the travel market is in a complete state if flux and – whatever the statistics say – the future is unpredictable. “There’s lies, damn lies and statistics” quotes a BestTheBrochure spokesman. “We’re getting contradictory messages from the industry so my advice is to keep an open mind. Don’t assume anything as far as your holidays are concerned!”

Via EPR Network

Summer Sale 2009 On HostelBookers.com

The heat is on as HostelBookers launches its first ever hostel summer sale with as much as 70% off selected European hostel prices in August. HostelBookers guarantees to offer the cheapest accommodation around, as rooms are available for as little as £3 per person per night.

Over one hundred participating hostels throughout Malta, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus are offering the opportunity to bag the most amazing bargain for bookings and travel in August.

Stay in Madeira for just £3.80 at the Os Manos – Lodging which is offering savings of 40%. The lodgings are situated in the Santana area of the island, which offers some of Madeira’s most dramatic scenery, f r o m the rugged coast to inland mountains. There are eight bedrooms all with satellite TV and en-suite bathrooms.

The Splendid Guesthouse in Malta is offering a massive 70% off with rooms starting atjust £5 per person per night. The guesthouse is situated in Mellieha, a picturesque hilltop town in Malta. One of Malta’s leading beaches (Mellieha Bay) is only 15 minutes’ walk away. Alternatively the guesthouse’s sun terrace with its picturesque view of Comino and Gozo offers an ideal place to while away lazy afternoons.

Save 50% in Corfu staying at the Gorgona St & Apts for just £8.50 per person per night. The apartments are ideally placed in the tourist village of Ipsos, only 50 metres f r o m a beautiful long, sandy beach and only 20 minutes f r o m Corfu’s historic old town, Corfu Town.

Art lovers won’t be able to resist the 30% discount at La Controra Flashpackers Hostel in Naples. La Controra is a converted monastery right in the centre of Naples. Its recently refurbished rooms are decorated by art sculptures, Neapolitan coffee pots, garlic and chilli peppers.

The lounge bar is used for contemporary art exhibitions and the garden hammocks offer the best way to relax after a day exploring this bustling city. Prices start f r o m just £10per night for a dormitory room.

Experience cosmopolitan Spain at the Apartments El Pilar situated in the beautiful historical centre of Valencia. The spacious apartments with their own kitchen and dining area are just two minutes f r o m Valencia train station. Prices start f r o m just £13.50 per person per night with a 20% discount and include daily cleaning, airport pick-up and return, and catering service.

HostelBookers features 14,000 hostels in over 3,000 destinations and is the only website in the industry not to charge a booking fee – its lowest price guarantee means that prices are on average 4.2% less expensive than other well-known hostel booking companies.

Via EPR Network

BA Introduces First Ever London City Longhaul Flight

British Airways will launch the first ever longhaul Club World service from London City airport this September.

britishairways

British Airways has taken the decision to press ahead with the launch of the twice-daily Club World service flights from London City to New York JFK service. The first flights are set for September 29th with tickets already on sale.

The business class-only flights will be given the airline’s most prestigious flight number, BA001, previously used by Concorde until its retirement in 2003.

Fitted with just 32 seats, which convert to fully flat beds, the aircraft will fly across the Atlantic after a brief refuelling stop at Shannon in the west of Ireland, where customers will be able to clear US Customs and Immigration.

Return flights from New York will be non-stop, as the aircraft can use JFK’s full-length runways and take off with sufficient fuel for the whole transatlantic crossing.

Willie Walsh, British Airways’ chief executive said: “In the harshest trading environment airlines have experienced, we believe it is more important than ever to embrace the future and innovate. That is what this historic new route is all about.

“There is real enthusiasm from our customers for this project. This is BA at its best – stylish, British and ahead of the game. Reviving the BA001 flight number for the first longhaul route out of London City could not be more appropriate.

“Every aspect of this service has been designed to maximise convenience for customers to fly between the world’s two biggest business centres – Wall Street and London’s extended financial district in the City and Docklands.

“The UK’s first web access on transatlantic flights means that customers can work and keep in touch with the office between London and New York via the email and texts. Above all the exclusive service style will bring the feel of a private jet to a business class cabin.”

Customers wishing to stay can also choose from a range of luxury hotels in new york available through the airline. These include big name chains and famous landmark hotels like The London in New York which provides some of the most spacious accommodation in Manhattan as well as culinary experiences from Britain’s very own Gordon Ramsay.

Key benefits include:
– Check in just 15 minutes before departure
– Dedicated departure gate with ‘lounge’ facilities
– Customs and Immigration clearance at Shannon, Ireland saving valuable time on arrival at JFK airport

The new service launches with a daily return service except Saturday when London City airport is closed, increasing to two a day from mid-October.

BA001 departs LCY at 12.40 and arrives JFK at 1705. BA002 departs JFK at 1830 and arrives at LCY at 0705 the following day.

About British Airways / British Airways Holidays Ltd
British Airways Holidays Ltd. is a fully owned subsidiary of British Airways plc, which offers a range of destinations, hotels, car rental and experiences. With many money-saving special offers available; and the security of travelling with British Airways, British Airways Holidays Ltd can add peace of mind to holiday plans. Working very closely with colleagues at British Airways, British Airways Holidays constantly seeks to exceed customers’ expectations, both in terms of the value for money and quality of the service provided.

Via EPR Network

New Concept In Shoe Protection Keeps Shoes Safe While Protecting Items In Bags From Dirt And Germs

Brilliant Widgets, LLC. has announced availability of their shoe socks(TM), the world’s first form-fitting stretchable protective shoe covers. They fit over your shoes just like a pair of socks fits over your feet. This prevents dirt and germs on your shoes from getting into your luggage, sports bags, or any other kind of bag that stores shoes. Shoe socks(TM) are thick cushioned for maximum protection against damaging objects in bags. They won’t snag or rip. Zippers and draw strings are non-existent so there is nothing to break like in competing products. They let you take advantage of all usable bag space.

shoe socks

According to studies done by ABCnews.com and Rockport, shoe soles can contain up to 9 species of harmful bacteria including E. Coli. Bacteria can live on your shoes for up to 3 days and have a 99% transfer rate to anything the soles touch. There is a risk of getting a bacterial infection if you wear or touch something that made contact with your shoes. Shoe socks(TM) prevent the bacteria from spreading by forming a barrier around your shoes. Because they are made of synthetic rubber, wet shoes are also protected.

They are extremely easy to use. The shoes are inserted into the shoe socks(TM), and they are stretched over the back of the shoe. Take them off when you are done. Throw them in the wash when they are dirty.

Company president Mark Ligeza says, “Our customers feel safe when shoe socks(TM) are used. They don’t have to worry about dirt or germs infecting their belongings. They are confident they are getting the best protection for their investment in shoes and their items especially in this tough economic environment.”

Shoe socks(TM) are guaranteed for life against defects in material and/or workmanship. They come in four different sizes to accommodate any men’s or women’s shoe sizes in any country.

About Brilliant Widgets, LLC.
The company develops and markets innovative products that make individual’s lives simpler. Shoe socks(TM) are the first of many products in the pipeline.

For more information on the product or to order online, please visit http://www.shoesocks.com or call 512-712-4782.

Via EPR Network

Get Creative with Arty Hostels at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Celebrate the biggest arts festival in the world with Hostelbookers. Use our Edinburgh Fringe Festival top tips to help you plan your visit to the Fringe Festival and book yourself in to the coolest arty Edinburgh hostels.

Edinburgh takes center stage in August for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. With a line-up of the freshest new talent in theatre, music, film, comedy, art and dance, Edinburgh Fringe 2009 looks set to be the best yet.

Close to all the main venues and after-parties on the Royal Mile, these arty hostels are the perfect place to sleep in style after a show, with swanky design features and flash murals on the walls. So why not indulge your creative side with this list of top Edinburgh hostels :

Caledonian Backpackers
With an enviable location right between the Old and New Town, this funky hostel boasts murals on the walls, and has a vibrant bar packed with pool tables. Perfect for post-fringe parties, the Caledonian Bar is open until 5am on weekends.

Budget Backpackers
Located in the lively Grassmarket area, Budget Backpackers is ideal for students who want to be in the heart of all the action. Fresh and modern inside, the bright rooms pop with color, and there’s a slick chill-out room with a plasma TV when you want to recover from the night before.

High Street Hostel
You can sleep easy at the High Street Hostel – a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile, this chic eco-hostel is arty AND environmentally friendly. The ‘High Street’ is carbon neutral, recycles and only uses renewable sources for all electricity, but eco-warriors will also love the historic building, chilled out atmosphere and paintings on the wall.

Royal Mile Backpackers
Right on the Royal Mile, this hostel always goes all out for the festival, kicking off the festivities with a load of Edinburgh Fringe Events. From a Festival Pub crawl to the chance to win show tickets, this fun-loving hostel is the place to get your Fringe Party started.

Princes Street East Backpackers
Get into the alternative spirit of the Fringe at Princes Street East . This independent hostel has a ‘creative’ and easy-going atmosphere, from backpackers jamming in the ‘Cave’ bar to the graffiti decorating the walls.

For further details, please go to: www.hostelbookers.com

Via EPR Network

British Airways Launches Online Comparison Tool

British Airways is taking the fight for customers to the no frills carriers by launching a ‘value calculator’ on ba.com. The new tool will allow customers to check the true cost of Ryanair and EasyJet’s added charges versus the value of BA’s full service.

British Airways

Richard Tams, head of UK & Ireland sales at British Airways, said: “With BA, the price you see is the price you pay. It’s been well documented that some of the no-frills carriers charge for a range of ‘extras’ that we consider to be part of our core service, from checking in a bag to food and drinks on board. We’re just making these transparent for customers.

“On a round trip customers can be paying up to £375 on Ryanair and £79 on EasyJet for these ‘extras’ in addition to their fare. We think people will be pleasantly surprised when they see what great value our fares offer. The no frills carriers claim they’re always cheaper. Our calculator shows they are not.”

The British Airways value calculator can be customised depending on how the customer is planning to travel. The system enables customers to select the various features they want for their flights – such as checking in at the airport or online, selecting a seat 24-hours before they fly, choosing the size of hold luggage they are taking, or opting for food and drink on board. It also compares the prices depending on the type of card used to make the payment and the size of hand luggage allowed on. It will then calculate what Ryanair, EasyJet and BA will charge in total for those options.

With extra charges of £375 possible on some combinations with Ryanair, British Airways are looking to make passengers aware that while the price BA advertises is the price paid by the customer, ‘no frills’ airlines often charge extra hidden costs.

About British Airways / British Airways Holidays Ltd
British Airways Holidays Ltd. is a fully owned subsidiary of British Airways plc, which offers a range of destinations, hotelscar rental and experiences. With many money-saving special offers available; and the security of travelling with British Airways, British Airways Holidays Ltd can add peace of mind to holiday plans. Working very closely with colleagues at British Airways, British Airways Holidays constantly seeks to exceed customers’ expectations, both in terms of the value for money and quality of the service provided.

Via EPR Network

Families Are Tipping Too Much On Holiday, Report Says

M&S Travel Money has released new research which shows that British families could save up to £135* in holiday spending money just by investing a few minutes reading up on the tipping etiquette for the country they are visiting.

marksandspencer

The survey by M&S Travel Money found that almost 40% of British holidaymakers don’t familiarise themselves with expected gratuities and customs before they travel and as a result will regularly hand out unnecessary amounts of cash in tips which can add up to as much as 30% of their total holiday spending funds.

The research found that:
– One in six Brits believe it is customary to tip in Japan – a country where tipping is actually deemed highly insulting
– 39% of British women admit they don’t know where tipping rules do and don’t apply vs 28% men
– 55+ is the age group least informed about tipping expectations and as a results are the most likely to find themselves out of pocket
– 1 in 10 Britons finds themselves ‘caught short’ with less spending money than anticipated due to an oversight regarding tips

James Yerkess, M&S Travel Money Manager and author of the brand’s newly launched online Tip Advisor Guide, said: “Whilst the eyes of cash conscious holidaymakers are eagerly scouring for the best holiday deals, this new research exposes a significant and forgotten holiday cost factor.

“Most British families don’t consider the additional cost of customary tipping in countries like the USA, Egypt and some parts of Europe. They will also often pay over the odds by not knowing expected tip requirements – and if it’s required at all. For example, over 40% of Brits think it is customary to leave a tip in Italy. Many therefore could have tipped unnecessarily in Italian restaurants as tips are not expected in this country for standard service.”

The research also reveals that during these recessionary times, one in ten Brits will be staying ‘tight tipped’ this summer admitting they are less likely to tip due to the recession.

For those Brits travelling this summer and looking to keep a careful eye on their cash flow, M&S Travel Money has launched a free online Tip Advisor Guide which details global tipping etiquette, clearly highlighting who and when to tip and listing regional expectations and tip recommendations to help avoid unnecessary expenditure.

James Yerkess added: “It will prove a valuable cash saving travel tool for roaming Brits this summer – at no cost whatsoever.”

*30% based on research by Holidayrentals.co.uk (May 09).

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc carried out on behalf of M&S Travel Money. Total sample size was 2017 adults. Online fieldwork undertaken 27th-29th May 2009. Figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About M&S Money:
M&S Money (the trading name of Marks & Spencer Financial Services) was founded in 1985 as the financial services division of Marks and Spencer Group plc. The company is now a top ten credit card provider and the second largest travel money retailer in the UK. M&S Money also offers a range of insurance cover, including travel insurancehome insurancecar insurance, loans, savings and investment products.

In November 2004, Marks & Spencer sold M&S Money to HSBC. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 9,500 offices in 86 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. With assets of US$2,527 billion at 31 December 2008, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations. HSBC is marketed worldwide as ‘the world’s local bank’.

M&S Money has an executive committee comprising an equal number of representatives from HSBC and Marks & Spencer.

Via EPR Network

Hotels.com Research Finds Brits Spend A Quarter Of A Billion Hours A Year Working On Holiday

New research from Hotels.com has revealed that relaxing on holiday should be easy, but more than half of British travellers (55%) find it hard to switch off from work and rely on their laptops and Blackberries to keep in contact with the office.

hotels.co.uk

Hotels.com research* has revealed that in tough economic times, people are finding it harder than ever to switch off, and want to feel they are at work even when they are not. On a one week break, Brits now spend the equivalent of one day in the office (seven hours on average) which means that just under a quarter of a billion hours are lost each year by travellers working when they are supposed to be relaxing on holiday**.

The new research established that there are three types of holiday workers. Of those who admit to taking time out of their holidays to work, 26% are emergency browsers – checking in only to deal with urgent issues; another 24% are sun lounger surfers who check in with the office at least every other day; and 35% are compulsive mailers who feel the need to be in constant contact with the office, logging on at least once a day or more.

Hotels.com found that 60% of those who work on holiday are doing so for reasons relating to their job security. While 28% felt that beach emailing “saved time when back in the office” and 12% wanted to ensure their colleagues were coping without them. The rest admitted it had more to do with job security, citing reasons such as “I want the office to see that I’m passionate about my job”.

According to The Work Foundation***, ‘holiday guilt’ can be explained by the UK’s long-hours culture which gives rise to insecurity and ‘presenteeism’. It is perceived that being seen and heard will lead to promotion and job safety, whereas those away from the office might miss out. Checking in with the office and not trusting others to look after things in their absence can be seen as an effort to show that they are indispensable.

Alison Couper, Communications Director for Hotels.com, said: ”Holidays are meant to be a time to relax and switch off from work. Designating a “blackberry hour”, agreed with your partner, is one way of avoiding arguments but the ideal solution is to leave the office behind you and make the most of your holiday.”

* Research conducted amongst 2,167 travellers from the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark in June/July 2009.

** Office of National Statistics Social Trends Report – Britons make 69.5 million trips abroad each year. Hotels.com research found that 55% of Britons work when on holiday, spending an average of seven hours working during the average week long trip, making the number of hours worked on holiday 267,575,000 hours per year.

*** Money, Tickets, Passport, Blackberry?? The Work Foundation, August 2005

About Hotels.com
As part of the Expedia group which operates in all major markets, Hotels.com offers more than 100,000 quality hotels, B&Bs and serviced apartments worldwide including New York hotelsRome hotelsEdinburgh hotels and London hotels. If a customer can find the same deal for less on a prepaid hotel, Hotels.com will match it. Hotels.com benefits from one of the largest hotel contracting teams in the industry negotiating the best rates for its customers, plus there are 1.3m reviews from users who have actually stayed in the hotels to ensure customers make an informed choice when booking. Hotels.com won the Gold Award for best hotel booking site in Webuser magazine in February 2009.

Via EPR Network

Iceland ProTravel Sees Massive Increase In Self Drive Breaks Around Iceland

Iceland ProTravel, the fully licensed tour operator, has reported a massive increase in UK travellers to Iceland, spurred by the favourable exchange rate between the Great British pound and the Icelandic krona.

Iceland ProTravel

Coupled with the fact that the average price of petrol is currently lower in Iceland than in the UK, Iceland ProTravel has been recommending a self drive holiday for travellers who are yet to make up their mind about where to go.

Having recently taken top spot in the annual ‘Best Value Holiday Destinations’ report carried out by the Post Office, Iceland is expected to see even greater interest as a holiday destination. In response, Iceland’s main airline is increasing its number of flights from the UK to Iceland in September 2009.

As the pound continues to lose value against the euro, there are only three countries in Europe where UK tourists can expect a favourable exchange rate: Iceland, Hungary and Poland.

Eli Masson, general manager of Iceland ProTravel, said: “We recommend to our clients that they go to Iceland this summer and autumn because of the favourable exchange rate.

“On our self drive tours we find that all our clients this summer have over budgeted their spending money. One pound will get you 209 krona now, but 18 months ago you would only get 130.

“We feel that the interest in Iceland has increased a lot and we have seen that numbers of people travelling there has doubled from last year.”

While most visitors to Iceland travel to the capital – and many more expected to be in Reykjavik for the city’s marathon in August – Iceland ProTravel is recommending more people make Iceland breaks and look into car rental in order to explore the savings and the full length and breadth of Iceland.

Flights from Iceland take three hours from London. Flights to Reykjavik are also available from Manchester, with Glasgow flights planned for later in the year.

About Iceland ProTravel
Iceland ProTravel is a UK based company offering tours of Iceland, managed by Gudmundur Kjartansson and Ann Cathrin Brocker. As well as standard guided round trips, Iceland ProTravel offers adventure, hiking, city-breaks and horseback tours.

Iceland ProTravel UK is part of a family of tour operators that are based in Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. It also has an office in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.

Via EPR Network

M&S Travel Money Report Shows Most Tourists Need To Take More Currency Abroad This Year

The M&S Q2 2009 travel money report, which analyses data from sales at the national network of M&S in-store bureaux de change from April to June 2009, reveals that while Egypt and Turkey are amongst the most popular holiday destinations for 2009, going to Fiji will make the travel money go further.

marksandspencer

Egypt and Turkey – two of the most popular destinations for Brits in 2008 – are set to be firm favourites again this summer. Sales of Egyptian pound and Turkish lira increased by 20% and 27% respectively in Q2 compared to the same period in 2008. The Turkish lira was the third most popular selling currency behind the Euro and US dollar.

James Yerkess, M&S Travel Money Manager, said: “The increased strength of the euro against the pound means that holidaymakers have been looking at destinations outside the eurozone in the past year. Egypt and Turkey have become increasingly popular among Brits.

“Turkey represents particularly good value-for-money. The Turkish lira is one of the few currencies against which the pound has held it’s value, meaning tourists heading to Turkey this summer will still see their cash go further.”

The falling value of the pound during the past year means there are few destinations where British tourists will get more for their money compared to last summer.

Currencies used in the most popular tourist destinations have increased in value against the pound, meaning Brits will find the cost of everyday items more expensive in most resorts. For example, the pound has dropped in value by 22% against the US dollar and by 15% against the South African rand.

However, there has been a 55% year-on-year increase in travel money sales of the Fiji dollar. Savvy British holidaymakers are making the most of the weak Fiji dollar with tourists receiving 7% more dollars per pound compared to last July.

In addition to Fiji, the only other countries where Brits are getting more for their money compared to July 2008 are Iceland, Poland and Russia. The Iceland krona is 27% weaker, the Polish zloty 15% weaker and the Russian ruble 5% weaker.

James Yerkess, M&S Travel Money Manager, said: “It’s always a good idea to buy foreign currency before you fly and make the best of competitive exchange rates on the high street. But tourists returning to their favourite resorts should remember that everyday items will be more expensive this year, so it’s worth taking more currency with you.

“M&S offers a commission-free ‘buy back’ service, so you can exchange any currency you bring home. We have seen an increase in the amount of foreign currency exchanged for sterling in our bureaux as travellers make the most of the relatively strong ‘buy back’ rates.”

About M&S Money:
M&S Money (the trading name of Marks & Spencer Financial Services) was founded in 1985 as the financial services division of Marks and Spencer Group plc. The company is now a top ten credit card provider and the secondlargest travel money retailer in the UK. M&S Money also offers a range of insurance cover, including travel insurancehome insurancecar insurance, as well as loans, savings and investment products.

In November 2004, Marks & Spencer sold M&S Money to HSBC. The Group serves customers worldwide from around 9,500 offices in 86 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. With assets of US$2,527 billion at 31 December 2008, HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations. HSBC is marketed worldwide as ‘the world’s local bank’.

M&S Money has an executive committee comprising an equal number of representatives from HSBC and Marks & Spencer.

Via EPR Network

Stena Line Teams Up With Gary Pope To Ensure Kids Stay Happy On Car Holidays

Stena Line, leading ferry company, has announced that it has teamed up with London-based expert Gary Pope to advise holidaymakers on the best way of preparing themselves and their family before a car holiday.

Gary Pope is managing director of the British company Kids Industries. It’s Gary and his colleagues who advise companies like Nickelodeon, Unilever and Disney how to design their products and services so they appeal to children.

“People spend a lot of time in the car on a car holiday and it’s important as parents to make sure the children enjoy the experience as much as possible. Gary’s tips are often quite simple, but the point is that it’s often things that parents wouldn’t think of,” said Nigel Tilson, UK Communications Manager at Stena Line.

Gary, who is also an adviser on child studies to Oxford University, has listed a number of important tips for a successful car holiday with the children. Most of his tips are easy to follow with a little forward planning and Gary’s Top Ten Tips can be found on the Stena Line website.

Families taking car holidays this summer should start planning with the children a few weeks ahead of departure and buy a secret stock of surprises for them, according to the international child expert.

“Three absolute musts to have with you on a car holiday are the children’s favourite toys or cuddly toy, colouring books and a secret supply of mini surprises. The surprises can be used to portion out toys, books and games periodically, if and when the journey gets tedious or when arguments start in the back seat,” said Gary.

Tens of thousands of holidaymakers take car holidays each summer which include a ferry crossing across the Irish Sea with Stena Line. This summer is no exception, especially with fares starting at £79 single for a car and driver for midweek travel with kids going free. And there’s plenty for the kids to do once they get onboard. They can meet Curious George, enjoy a movie, have a fun time in specially-designed play areas – plus there are giveaways for kids throughout the summer.

About Stena Line:
Stena Line is the Irish Sea ferries market leader, offering the biggest ferry fleet and the widest choice of routes between Britain and Ireland, including Stranraer to Belfast, Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and Dublin Port, Fishguard to Rosslare and ferries to Larne from Fleetwood. The company carries over three million passengers on its Irish Sea routes each year, more than its rival operators combined.

Via EPR Network

Hotels.com Experiences A Bruno Effect On Searches For Vienna Hotels

Leading website Hotels.com has seen a 120% rise in searches for hotels in the Austrian capital of Vienna, following the UK premiere of Bruno in Leicester Square. As Bruno hits cinema screens around the world, it seems the character’s home nation of Austria is already reaping the benefits of Bruno mania.

The Universal Studios film, which has been generating headlines around the world since filming began, follows Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno – a gay Austrian fashion reporter – as he tries to ‘become a superstar’ in the US after being fired f r o m his show for disrupting a catwalk event during Milan fashion week.

Alison Couper, Director of Communications for Hotels.com, said: “It’s interesting to see the impact a character like Bruno can have on people’s behaviour. He might not be the obvious ‘ambassador’ but he is certainly piquing the interest in Vienna.”

The level of general enquiries for has risen dramatically for all Vienna hotels, however one of the main hotels which seems to have received increased interest f r o m Bruno inspired ‘fashionistas’ are the five-star Hotel Das Triest, a fashion hotel which has been re-designed by Sir Terence Conran, and the hotel in Vienna to be seen at whilst not hanging out with the ‘it’ crowd at The Onyx Bar at the DO &CO hotel at Stephansplatz 12, which transforms into a VIP club every month.

Whether Austrian citizens will feel the same way about the way Sacha Baron Cohen’s character has turned the spot light onto their country, as the people of Kazakhstan felt about Borat remains to be seen, however hotels in Austria are definitely receiving the benefits.

About Hotels.com
As part of the Expedia group which operates in all major markets, Hotels.com offers more than 100,000 quality hotels, B&Bs and serviced apartments worldwide, including a selection of hotels in New York,  Rome hotelshotels in London and Dublin hotels. If a customer can find the same deal for less on a prepaid hotel, Hotels.com will match it. Hotels.com benefits f r o m one of the largest hotel contracting teams in the industry negotiating the best rates for its customers, plus there are 1.3m reviews f r o m users who have actually stayed in the hotels to ensure customers make an informed choice when booking. Hotels.com won the Gold Award for best hotel booking site in Webuser magazine in February 2009.

Via EPR Network

Airline Luggage Losses… The Case For Ferry Travel From Irish Ferries And ‘Kids Travel Free’ All Summer

With the world’s airlines having somehow managed to ‘mislay’ more than 40 million items of luggage in 2007 – up a mere eight million on the previous year – it’s no surprise that the worry of arriving on holiday minus suitcases is of increasing concern to many holidaymakers.

irishferries

Which is one of the reasons that Irish Ferries is ‘making the case’ for ferry travel… not only do holidaymakers and their luggage arrive at the same place – at the same time – but there’s also no restriction on the number of cases carried at no extra charge.

“It’s bad enough having to endure the hassle of long check-ins and endless queues, but then to arrive on holiday and spend further pointless hours waiting in vain at the carousel is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure…the very opposite of what a holiday in Ireland is supposed to do,” said Irish Ferries’ head of passenger sales, Declan Mescall.

“While many airlines continue to shoot themselves in the foot with their poor service, self-drive holidays by ferry are sailing ahead as holidaymakers realise the benefits of competitive pricing, short check-in times, space to relax and to enjoy the journey complete with all belongings.

Kids Travel Free
A special summer 2009 offer for family holidays to Ireland means there’s also no extra charge for children. If two adults travel, there’s also no restriction on the number of children (under 16 years)…if they fit in the car, they are welcome aboard.

And with a bargain offer of just £79 one-way for a car and driver and £20 for additional adults for midweek travel (Monday-to-Thursday), a family of four can cross the Irish Sea with their car for as little as £99.

The reductions apply on its Holyhead/Dublin and Pembroke/Rosslare cruise ferry crossings. A £10 supplement applies for weekend travel and for sailings on the Holyhead/Dublin fast ferry service.

Irish Ferries boasts the most modern fleet on the Irish Sea. Two vessels operate on the Holyhead/Dublin route with two return crossings per ship each day. The ‘Jonathan Swift’ fast ferry makes the crossing in just one hour, 49 minutes, while the world’s largest car ferry, the ‘Ulysses’, crosses the Irish Sea to Dublin in three hours, 15 minutes. The Isle of Inishmore operates from Pembroke to Rosslare twice daily with a journey time 3 hours 45mins.

Via EPR Network

Uncompromising Vacation Getaway By Luxury Link

Luxury Link (www.luxurylink.com), the world’s premier online luxury travel resource, is pleased to present the “Uncompromising Vacation Getaway”. A unique giveaway designed for the sophisticated and uncompromising traveler desiring the ultimate in luxury travel.

Uncompromising Vacation Getaway

This exclusive travel package giveaway showcased on LuxuryLink.com offers the winner a 4-night luxury trip for two at one of four Destination Hotels & Resorts properties including Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix, L’Auberge Del Mar in Del Mar, Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells and Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes. Each property has a reputation for distinctive design and adherence to the highest standards of customer service.

“Destination Hotels & Resorts is a venerable luxury brand known for its exceptional quality and style,” said Luxury Link VP of Advertising, Greg Maltzman. “This gives us an opportunity to inspire our loyal users with a unique and unforgettable luxury experience.”

Enter today for your chance to win: http://www.luxurylink.com/mini/porsche.php. There is no purchase necessary to enter. The contest ends on September 6th and the winner will be announced on September 14th.

About Destination Hotels & Resorts
Destination Hotels & Resorts is consistently rated one of the top 10 independent hospitality management companies in the United States with more than 30 luxury and upscale hotels, resorts and conference centers. To protect and preserve the unique communities in which the company operates, Destination launched Destination Earth, an environmental sustainability program in 2008. Destination operates properties in key metropolitan areas and resort markets including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego, Santa Fe, Aspen, Palm Springs, Houston and Lake Tahoe. Destination is a subsidiary of Los Angeles-based investment, development and management firm Lowe Enterprises.

About Luxury Link
Founded in 1997, LuxuryLink.com is the world’s premier online luxury travel resource. Showcasing more than 1000 extraordinary hotels and resorts, cruises, tours and villas in more than 60 countries, LuxuryLink.com provides unparalleled access to exclusive offers and insider tips for the sophisticated traveler. For more information, please visit www.luxurylink.com or call 1-888-2973299.

Via EPR Network

Stena Line, Leading Ferry Operator, Has Reported That New Segments Of The UK Population Have Boosted Numbers Using Rail And Sail Packages To Holland By 23 Per Cent This Year

rail and sail packages to Holland

The new trend-bucking figures show a year-on-year increase for January to June 2009 on the Stena Line dutchflyer service across the North Sea. This success has however not been confined to just the last 12 months. The dutchflyer service, which comprises rail travel to Harwich from London Liverpool St and East Anglian railway stations, combined with ferry crossing to the Hook of Holland and onward travel to any station in Holland, has been experiencing increasing popularity across the last few years. Stena Line reported 39 per cent annual growth in dutchflyer traffic between 2007 and 2008.

The success of the dutchflyer rail and sail package comes against the backdrop of a 2.8 per cent year-on-year decline in passengers leaving the UK out of BAA’s seven airports, Eurotunnel’s 15.8 per cent dip and a 5.3 per cent decrease in English Channel ferry traffic from 2007 to 2008.

While previously, travellers using Stena Line’s dutchflyer service had been predominantly cash-poor students and backpackers, Experian ‘Mosaic’ research to identify and categorise those currently using dutchflyer recognised that 26.71 per cent fell into the ‘urban intelligence’ group, which subdivides into two main types of traveller:

– Counter cultural mix – young, well informed professionals; trendy city dwellers – City adventurers – 20-something high-flying singles with pressurised, high-salary jobs; often London-based

Lars Olsson, Stena Line’s commercial manager for travel on the North Sea, said, “The rising popularity of Stena Lines rail and sail service over the past year has been a significant trend in itself, but it’s interesting to note that the main travellers contributing towards dutchflyer’s growth are now young, trendy city-dwellers and ambitious, workaholic singles.

“These groups have started considering alternatives to air travel because they’re less cash-rich and even more time-poor than in the past, so the overcrowded chaos at airports and exorbitant departure taxes are deterrents. The dutchflyer service links London and East Anglia with Dutch cities via rail stations and ferry decks from £35 one-way.

“We’re seeing a particular increase in dutchflyer passengers taking the overnight ferries so that they arrive at their end destination early the next morning without having had to pay accommodation costs in euros or endure 4am check-in for a flight”.

BAA airport statistics provided by the BAA press office. Eurotunnel and Channel ferry statistics provided by the Passenger Shipping Association. The Mosaic classification system of UK consumers was provided by Experian.

About Stena Line:
In the UK alone, Stena Line offers two daily crossings on its Harwich to Hook of Holland route as well as over 30 daily crossings on its five different routes to Ireland (Stranraer to Belfast, Fleetwood to Larne, Holyhead to Dublin, Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire and Fishguard to Rosslare) providing fast and efficient crossings with excellent onboard services and facilities.

Via EPR Network

Ashes Cricket Means Hottest British Airways Fares

The batting of Kevin Pietersen or the bowling of Andrew Flintoff could bring massive British Airways fare reductions, for fliers between England and Australia during the latest Ashes contest series.

britishairways - australia

For one of the five tests, national carriers British Airways and Qantas are teaming up to offer fares on flights to Australia based on innings scores, with the number of seats determined by the amount of runs scored by the opposing team.

For the second npower Test at Lord’s (July 16-20), the price of flights will be determined by Australia’s first innings, with availability of seats determined by England’s reply.

For example, if Australia are bowled out for 230 and England make 395, there will be 395 seats available from each airline at £230 – an amazing reduction on a typical fare of £730.

From July 21, customers wanting to fly with British Airways can visit britishairways.com while Qantas customers should check on qantas.com.

Visitors taking their first flight to Sydney will be dazzled by endless beaches, the relaxed outdoor lifestyle and exciting architecture from the Opera House sails to the arched harbour. British Airways offers a variety of accommodation and Avis car rental in Sydney to accompany its massive fare reductions.

Travellers can stay at the cosmopolitan Sebel Surry Hills, the perfect place from which to explore Sydney’s major attractions or enjoy a treat at the 5* Blue Sydney in the heart of the marina on the Wharf at Woolloomooloo, or take a flight to Melbourne and browse the funky boutiques in the GPO Building and waterfront dining in the docklands. Stay at the centrally located Citigate Albert Park, opposite the Grand Prix track or spend your savings at The Langham on the bank of the Yara River.

British Airways’ consumer sales manager Simon Brooks said: “If it’s anything like the previous Ashes, we expect to be bowled over with interest from customers. The Ashes is a highlight in the sporting calendar, and now there’s an extra reason to get behind your team.”

Stephen Thompson, executive manager international sales at Qantas Airlines said: “There’s always a traditional friendly rivalry between the Brits and Aussies during the Ashes, and this promotion will ensure the second npower test is even more of an exciting showdown.”

In the previous Ashes in 2005, British Airways offered 367 seats at £373 when Australia scored 367 runs for 373 against England in the final test. Flights were sold out within 30 minutes.

For qualifying travel periods please check each airline’s website from July 21.

Some rules apply:

– Flights are only available in British Airways’ World Traveller cabin and International Economy on Qantas
– The minimum return fare will be not be less than £125
– British Airways has had a Joint Services Agreement with Qantas since 1995 on the‘kangaroo route’, between the UK and Australia, offering both airline’s customers a greater choice of fares, products and services

About British Airways / British Airways Holidays Ltd
British Airways Holidays Ltd. is a fully owned subsidiary of British Airways plc, which offers a range of destinations, hotels, car rental and experiences. With many money-saving special offers available; and the security of travelling with British Airways, British Airways Holidays Ltd can add peace of mind to holiday plans. Working very closely with colleagues at British Airways, British Airways Holidays constantly seeks to exceed customers’ expectations, both in terms of the value for money and quality of the service provided.

Via EPR Network

Thomas Cook Launches First Edition Brochures For 2010

Thomas Cook launched its first edition 2010 brochures for Thomas Cook Summersun and Thomas Cook Families alongside June edition brochures for bespoke destinations on 25th June 2009. These brochures complete the Thomas Cook portfolio for Summer 2010, with the long haul brochures having launched earlier this month.

Featuring holidays available to book up until October 2010, the new edition brochures – Thomas Cook Summersun 2010 – 1st Edition; Thomas Cook Families 2010 – 1st Edition; Thomas Cook Weddings – June Edition; Thomas Cook Turkey – June Edition; Thomas Cook Greece & Cyprus – June Edition; Thomas Cook EgyptTunisia – June Edition – offer a range of savings, including up to £300 discount per holiday for early bookers.

To make family holidays more exciting in 2010, Thomas Cook has introduced AquaMania to its summer 2010 brochures – highlighting hotels with the best swimming pools and slides for guaranteed fun in the sun. All Thomas Cook hotels featuring the AquaMania logo are guaranteed to be loaded with a variety of thrilling waterslides, twisting flumes and water playgrounds. For the ultimate water babies, some even have their own water park with lagoon pools, lazy rivers and endless slides all included in the price of the holiday.

Main brochure highlights include:

• Thomas Cook Summersun 2010 – 1st Edition
Reflecting the growing popularity for all inclusive properties amongst customers looking for tighter control over their holiday budgets, Thomas Cook has increased its all inclusive offerings for 2010 across a number of destinations including the Canaries, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. For the first time, Nile Cruising is now also available on an all inclusive basis on board the SENTIDO MS Mahrousa, part of Thomas Cook’s exclusive hotel brand.

The Venetian Riviera in Italy is also new to Thomas Cook Summersun 2010, with a choice of three hotels in the popular beach resort of Lido di Jesolo offering the chance to combine a beach break with an excursion to Venice.

Thomas Cook’s range of SENTIDO hotels and resorts have been added to in 2010 with the introduction of the brand new 5 star SENTIDO Michelangelo in Kos. SENTIDO hotels and resorts are already available in Egypt, the Canaries, the Balearics, Greece, Cyprus, Kenya and Turkey.

Seven nights at the 3 star Casas Del Lago Hotel in Cala N Bosch Menorca on self catering basis, departing 30th September – 20th October 2010, costs from £249 per person flying from London Gatwick (based on 6 adults sharing).

• Thomas Cook Families 2010 – 1st Edition
Family holidays are set to be more exciting in 2010, with the introduction of Thomas Cook’s AquaMania hotels, currently available in Egypt, Turkey, Jamaica and Greece. Hotels featuring the AquaMania logo offer a variety of waterslides, twisting flumes and water playgrounds.

Club:KidsWORLD arrives in Zakynthos next summer at the Caretta Beach and Stella Palace in Crete. A new Club:KidsWORLD will also be available at the Mareblue Cosmopolitan in Rhodes.

New Sunstar Resorts, offering activities for kids, space for grown-ups and entertainment for all, are now available at the Hi! Binimar Resort in Menorca and Hi! Bouganvilla Park in Majorca. Sunstar Resorts are also available in Ibiza, Fuerteventura and Portugal.

In Egypt, Thomas Cook is offering free kids’ places at six of its top family-friendly all inclusive hotels in Sharm el Sheikh, El Quseir, Hurghada and Taba. Places are subject to availability and valid for departures from November 2009 – October 2010.

Seven nights at the 4 star Grand Oasis Marien, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic on all inclusive basis, departing 1st – 23rd June 2010, costs from £699 per person flying from London Gatwick.

• Thomas Cook Weddings – June Edition
For the June edition brochure, Thomas Cook has extended its weddings programme in Kenya to include a Swahili Dhow Wedding package, allowing couples to exchange vows on board a traditional Swahili Dhow flowerboat.

Mexico’s wedding options have also been added to, with two new packages available in Cancun at the Temptations Resort & Spa and Excellence Playa Mujeres. The Dominican Republic meanwhile features two new wedding packages at the Iberostar Bavaro and the Victoria Golf & Beach Resort.

Wedding packages at Victoria Golf & Beach Resort in Summer 2010 start from £729 and include special touches such as breakfast in bed the day after your wedding and a special a la carte wedding dinner.

Additional brochure highlights include:

• Thomas Cook Turkey – June Edition: 13 new all inclusive 3, 4 and 5 star hotels have been added to the new June Edition brochure. The brochure also features six AquaMania properties including the ever popular LykiaWorld in Olu Deniz which is exclusive to Thomas Cook in the UK for Summer 2010, along with its sister property, the impressive 5 star LykiaWorld, Antalya.

• Thomas Cook Egypt & Tunisia – June Edition: Six new properties have been added to Thomas Cook’s Egypt portfolio in Taba and Taba Heights – all within close proximity to an 18 hole PGA golf course and some of Egypt’s best dive sites.

Via EPR Network