Rezidor Announces The Park Inn Trysil Mountain Resort In Norway

The Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the fastest growing hotel companies worldwide, announces the Park Inn Trysil Mountain Resort in Norway. The property, featuring 369 rooms, is scheduled to open in December 2011 – just in time for the next ski season. Park Inn by Radisson is Rezidor’s young and dynamic core brand in the mid-market segment, offering a hassle free stay, a relaxed and personalized ambiance, and comfortable rooms with modern amenities.

“The Park Inn Trysil Mountain Resort will perfectly complement our existing Radisson Blu Resort, Trysil. We are delighted to further strengthen our presence in our key home market Norway and to also further grow our chic and contemporary resort portfolio,” said Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor. The new hotel is developed and built by the company Peab, and owned by Peab and SkiStar in equal parts.

Minutes from the slopes, the hotel in Trysil will comprise 369 rooms, suites and apartments with up to 3 bedrooms, making it the ideal destination for family or friends travelling together. Further services will include a restaurant, a bar, a wellness area including indoor swimming pool, sauna and 12 treatment rooms, and a conference centre with a 425 square meter ballroom as well as with several meeting rooms.

Trysil is located in South-eastern Norway, 2.5 hours’ drive from Oslo. It is one of Scandinavia’s premier ski resorts and attracts a significant international business. For the non-skier, Trysil offers a first-class golf course, canoeing, fishing, cycling, and hiking in a beautiful nature.

Once the Park Inn Trysil Mountain Resort opens, Rezidor will have 25 hotels in operation or under development in Norway, including the Park Inn by Radisson hotel Oslo.

Ritter concluded: “Six of those hotels are Park Inn by Radisson properties. With Radisson Blu already present in nearly every primary and secondary Norwegian city, our growth strategy is now heavily focused on Park Inn by Radisson.”

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Voyages Jules Verne Launches New No Single Supplement Brochure

Voyages Jules Verne has published the latest edition of its sought-after No Single Supplement brochure.

Covering departures until December 2012, solo travellers can choose from short break and longer-haul destinations in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Far East that all have one thing in common: there are no extra charges for having a single room. Far from being a ‘singles club’, these arrangements ensure that clients wishing to join a tour independently may do so without the all-too-familiar financial penalties imposed by many travel companies.

Equally appealing to first-time solos and regular clients of Voyages Jules Verne, the new No Single Supplement brochure includes three new itineraries.

Firstly, Ice & Lights, a seven-night Iceland tour that takes in the south west corner of this intriguing island. Highlights include Reykjavik, the Golden Circle and world-famous Blue Lagoon as well as the lesser-visited spots of Hveragerði, Skaftafell and the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, where Northern Lights sightings are likely (conditions permitting).

Kenya tours are also on offer in the new brochure. A 14-night African safari from Nairobi to Mombasa on this features Amboseli and Tsavo West National Parks, the Taita Hills and Kenya’s original tea estate in the Limuru Highlands. Accommodation is four-star throughout and, in addition to several game drivs, there’s also an opportunity to look around the former home of ‘Out of Africa’s’ Karen Blixen.

Jordan’s Red Sea & Petra: Expanding its popular programme of Jordan tours this year Voyages Jules Verne now offers scheduled flights from Heathrow to Amman, enabling visitors to enjoy Saturday departures at a more convenient time, an extended season in which to travel and an additional day to spend in their chosen resort. This new eight-night option combines Amman, the Dead Sea and a third-centre choice of either Aqaba or Tala Bay.

The 2011/2012 No Single Supplement programme also includes familiar VJV holidays such as Turkey holidays, four nights in Rome, A Royal Steamer Restored (seven nights cruising the Nile in style) and India’s Golden Triangle. For those seeking to see in the Advent season with aplomb, Christmas Markets & Music on the Danube promises an unforgettable four-night cruise to Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava with private on-board concerts and plenty of festive shopping opportunities.

Some itineraries also include special events – exclusive to clients of Voyages Jules Verne – ranging from a late afternoon cruise on Lake Como and typical Ottoman Dinner in Turkey to a lecture on Tunisian history in Sousse, a private evening reception at Luxor Temple and a ride in a bullock cart in India.

Those wishing to receive a copy of the new No Single Supplement brochure can contact Voyages Jules Verne on 0845 166 7035 or visit the award-winning website at www.vjv.com.

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British Airways Provides East Africa Relief Flight

British Airways has flown a relief aircraft full of emergency supplies and equipment to victims of the food crisis in East Africa, where over half a million people are directly at risk of starvation.

A Boeing 747 freighter with capacity for up to 110 tonnes of cargo, flew to Ethiopia on Friday, August 12, carrying aid from Oxfam and UNICEF.

Following severe droughts, resulting in the worst food crisis the world has seen for 20 years, the two charities are among those working in the region to bring much-needed relief to over 12 million people at risk from famine, disease and drought across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

The aircraft carried 5,000 meters of pipe from Oxfam, which will be used to supply much-needed water to the Dolo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia, as well as vital emergency food and medical supplies from UNICEF.

British Airways’ customers are also playing their part. For two weeks from August 1, all donations onboard every British Airways flight were going to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for East Africa.

British Airways began helping the relief effort by carrying over seven and a half tonnes of water tanks, tapstands, pipes and water pumps from Oxfam as free cargo on a scheduled flight to Nairobi.

The airline also gave Oxfam free flights to Kenya to get 40 relief experts into the worst affected areas as quickly as possible.

Keith Williams, British Airways’ chief executive, said: “The worst drought in 50 years means the lives of millions of people hang in the balance. The generosity of our customers will make a real and tangible difference to those in desperate need.

“It is vital that we get aid from charities like Oxfam and UNICEF to the most seriously affected areas across East Africa. We want to do what we can to help those caught up in this terrible crisis.”

Barbara Stocking, Oxfam’s chief executive, said: “We have been moved to see the generosity of the British public over the last month and Oxfam is now reaching over a million people in East Africa. But there is still much more to be done.

“British Airways is showing incredible hands-on support for the relief effort, delivering vital supplies straight to where they are so desperately needed and flying our emergency staff into the region to work on the ground.

“Not only is their support worth over £250,000 in cost savings to Oxfam but the donations from their customers to the DEC will help fund even more life-saving work in the region.”

David Bull, UNICEF UK’s executive director, said: “When children are facing famine, because crops have failed, because food is scarce, it’s time to share a little of what we’ve got. British Airways has been extremely generous in sharing its cargo space.

“This means that UNICEF can buy more emergency food supplies and can deliver life saving food to hungry children much faster. In South Somalia alone, 250 children are dying every day.

“British Airways responded to UNICEF’s appeal and donated their cargo space travelling to the Horn of Africa. We urge all airlines to follow this fantastic example and share whatever they can.”

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British Airways Cabin Crew To Use Ipads To Revolutionise Customer Service

British Airways cabin crew are using the latest iPad model to bring a new dimension to customer service in the air.

The iPads enable cabin crew to have prior awareness of customer preferences and a greater understanding of each customer’s previous travel arrangements, allowing them to offer a truly bespoke, personalised service.

The iPad lets crew quickly identify where each customer is seated, who they are travelling with, their Executive Club status and any special meal requests. It gives cabin crew a whole library of information at their fingertips including timetables, safety manuals and customer service updates. It also means any issues can be logged with ground-based colleagues around the network prior to departure so solutions can be delivered while the flight is airborne.

When all the passengers have boarded and just before the doors are shut, cabin crew are currently handed a long scroll of paper, listing up to 337 customers. With the new iPads cabin crew will simply refresh their screen when the doors have closed through wireless 3G networks and they will have a complete list of passengers on board.

Bill Francis, British Airways’ head of in-flight customer experience, said: “The iPad is already allowing us to offer a more personalised onboard service, but the possibilities for future development are endless. We’re receiving great feedback from cabin crew and customers already. It allows the crew to offer the thoughtful service they want to deliver and customers are treated as valued guests.”

The iPad is currently being trialled with 100 cabin crew with the aim to roll it out to all senior crew members across the airline in the coming months.

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redspottedhanky.com Announces Fund Raising For The Prince’s Trust

redspottedhanky.com is proud to announce it will be raising funds for The Prince’s Trust.

redspottedhanky is supporting the 2011 Prince’s Trust ‘Million Makers’ corporate challenge, a charity competition which sees teams from a hundred organisations set up businesses in order to raise as much funding as possible for The Prince’s Trust. redspottedhanky has entered a team into the 2011 ‘Million Makers’ challenge and need customers to donate loyalty points in order to help it reach its target.

Customers can log in to their online account using their normal username and password, and then can select the amount of loyalty points they would like to donate.

The ‘Million Makers’ fundraising team formed in June 2011 and initially met some of the young people helped by The Prince’s Trust. The team subsequently brainstormed for fund raising activities ideas and came away ready to take on the challenge of winning the competition.

The team have set an ambitious fundraising target and will be running various fundraising events and schemes through 2011. Users can keep up-to-date with the ‘Million Makers’ team and see how they are working towards their objectives by visiting the redspottedhanky website.

The Prince’s Trust offers practical solutions to help young people get their lives working. Around one in five young people in the UK are not in work, education or training. Youth unemployment costs the UK economy £10 million a day in lost productivity, while youth crime costs £1 billion every year. The Prince’s Trust address this by giving practical and financial support to the young people who need it most. They help develop key skills, confidence and motivation, enabling young people to move into work, education or training.

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Experience the Magnificence of Theatre in London this Christmas

The holidays are just around the corner, and this Christmas London is expecting an inflow of many theatre enthusiasts and visitors from the United States of America. Many are planning to get a head start on things by booking their flight and theatre tickets in advance to procure good seats and great discounts online.

London theatre district has been luring visitors in for decades. Seen as a city rich in history, culture, and adventure, the cosmopolitan setting makes it ideal for a fun-filled vacation. Favourite among history and art lovers, travelling to London has made it to the priority list of almost all holidaymakers from across the world, regardless of age. From an endless list of world-renowned theatre plays, exquisite sightseeing options, exclusive museums, and an array of shopping malls, restaurants, and accommodation facilities, the majestic capital city has it all.

The celebrations and lighting up of the various streets starts sometime mid-November. Places like Oxford Street and Regent Street in the West End theatre district are beautifully lit for the perfect evening stroll by the well-known retail stores located alongside. One can make a memorable night here by booking a package deal for dinner and a show, offered by a number of official online theatre ticketing websites. Not only, do these sites have a list of the most sought after shows playing in the city, but also ensure that the tickets are provided at reasonable and pleasing prices.

Most theatre venues in London are located in vibrant areas that have amazing restaurants, shopping options, and hotels to suit every budget. It is wise to thus look for package deals that comprise of accommodation and theatre tickets for the play of your choice. Such deals are popular with tourists that want to taste the true flavour of theatre. Official ticketing websites also provide great deals on sightseeing tours, cruises, etc, to make the holiday very memorable. While flight and accommodation deals are easy to get well in advance rather than last minute, theatre tickets to musicals, opera, dance, and plays in London can be acquired even a few hours before the show using ticketing sites like www.londontheatredirect.com.

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British Airways Launches The Big September Sale

British Airways is launching its September sale with big savings on flights to over eighty worldwide destinations. The sale, which began on August 25 and runs until midnight on Tuesday, 20 September, offers up to 33 per cent off in economy, up to 45 per cent off in business class and up to 55 per cent off in first class.

With the kids back at school, those looking to take advantage of shorter queues at the theme parks can pick up a bargain on flights to Orlando or San Diego. For anyone wanting a total chill-out break there are savings on flights to the Caribbean including Puerto Rico, Barbados, Antigua and Cancun.

To jet-off in style and experience British Airways’ award winning business cabin Club World flights to Cairo, Muscat, the Maldives and Japan are on offer. And for the ultimate in luxury, travel in British Airways’ First cabin to the Caribbean, including Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia and Trinidad or escape to New York, Las Vegas or Los Angeles.

The sale also includes hundreds of great value holidays, including seven nights at the 3* All Seasons Resort for holidays in Barbados including flights from Gatwick and room only accommodation. Customers can also take advantage of a seven night all-inclusive holiday at the 4* Iberostar Punta Cana for holidays in the Dominican Republic.

For a bargain on a pre-Christmas shopping break, a three night stay at the 2.5* Midtown hotel in Boston or a three night holiday in Miami at the 3* Casablanca on the Ocean is on offer including flights from Heathrow and room only accommodation.

Closer to home, explore a city in Europe with one-way flights to Gothenburg, Paris and Zurich available. Alternatively grab a two night city-break to Lisbon staying at the 4* Turim Europa or two nights at the 4* Celuisma Florida Norte in Madrid including return flights from Heathrow and room only accommodation.

The sale started on August 25, 2011 for selected travel from September 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012.

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Rezidor announces the Radisson Blu Sobieski Hotel, Warsaw

The Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the fastest growing hotel companies worldwide, announces their 9th hotel in Poland and 2nd hotel in Warsaw: The Radisson Blu Sobieski Hotel featuring 435 rooms is scheduled to be re-branded in Q3 2011. Radisson Blu is one of Rezidor’s core brands and the largest upper upscale brand in Europe. It features contemporary architecture and design, innovative service concepts, and the service philosophy “Yes I Can!” with a highly individual and engaged approach.

The property is today known as Jan III Sobieski Hotel, Warsaw. It was designed and built in 1992 by an Austrian-Polish team, and was named after one of Europe’s greatest monarchs, Sobieski. He ruled Poland for 22 years during the 1600s. Following his victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vienna, he was hailed as the saviour of European Christendom. The hotel has recently been acquired by Wenaasgruppen – the new owner will continue the extensive, on-going renovation programme, and the hotel will be completely re-vitalised in the coming years.

“With now 17 properties, Wenaasgruppen is the largest single owner of Rezidor hotels. We are thankful and delighted to further strengthen our trustful co-operation and also look forward to further developing our portfolio in Poland – a country clearly on the move,” said Kurt Ritter, President & CEO of Rezidor.

Upon completion of the renovation in 2015, the Radisson Blu Sobieski Hotel in Warsaw will comprise 467 guest rooms with Radisson Blu signature services such as free high speed internet access, and will offer two restaurants, a lounge, a wellness area with Jacuzzis, sauna and gym, one of the largest conference centres in Warsaw (1,400 square metres), and some retail outlets.

The location of the hotel, in the southern part of Warsaw’s central business district, is a perfect complement to Rezidor’s existing Radisson Blu in Warsaw, which is roughly 4 km north. Warsaw’s Fryderyk Chopin Airport is 7 km away, and the city’s main railway station 1 km. With a prominent, corner location on a major thoroughfare, the building enjoys excellent visibility and is already a local landmark.

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Open Weekend at the Garde Républicaine

Anyone who has walked past the President’s residence at the Palais de l’Elysée in Paris will have noted the guards standing stock still outside the gates, rifle in hand. They may also have witnessed the changing of the guard ritual, involving much saluting and marching.

These guards are responsible for looking after many of the most important Paris buildings, including the Senate and the home of the Prime Minister.

If you thought those guards would probably be a bit scary to meet in real life, then the Open Weekend at the Garde Républicaine should go some way towards changing your mind.

On September 24th and 25th, the public will be given access to their quarters on Boulevard Henri IV, and will be able to see their brass bands, horses and everyday life in a totally different light.

This really is an excellent family day out, with fun challenges and games allowing children to keep active and solve puzzles to become an honorary ‘junior guard’.

You can find out more about the guards here www.gendarmerie.interieur.gouv.fr

Hotels-paris.co.uk has plenty of cheap hotels that will allow you easy access to this thoroughly interesting day out. There is plenty of choice right throughout the city, and we would recommend Helvetia as a good place to start your search.

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Experience Parisian gardens at their finest with La Fête des Jardins

Paris is a city that is blessed with a number of attractive green spaces, each of them unique and populated with statues, shrubs, fountains and other individual curiosities that can easily take up a whole day in the capital.

For one weekend only each year, these gardens simultaneously play host to a selection of free events that cannot fail to delight, from walking tours to music concerts and art exhibitions, and this year that weekend falls on September 25th-26th.

There are few more idyllic places to enjoy such a relaxed, pleasant day out, with highlights including the lovely Jardin du Luxembourg near the Panthéon, the famous Jardins des Tuileries leading from the iconic Musée du Louvre onto the Place de la Concorde and the Champs Elysées, and the sprawling Parc de la Villette in the 20ème.

The full programme of events will be available from the Paris Tourist Office at the start of September

Hotels-paris.co.uk has plenty of boutique accommodation across the city, including the marvellous Pershing Hall.

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Truth In Travel Reviews Resorts Plus International

In today’s article, we research a company that seems to have become a major force in the travel club and timeshare industry over the past few years. We reveal the truth on Resorts Plus International.

It seems some companies out there have taken full advantage of the economies crippling effects on the timeshare industry. Resorts Plus International has shot to the forefront of wholesale and discounted travel, primarily focused on Condos, Hotels, and Cruises by charging a one time upfront fee and comparatively small annual dues.

NEWS WIRE:

A Florida based travel club has made some major waves in the travel club and timeshare industry lately and seems to have waged and all out war against the timeshare titans -­ RCI & II.

After years of complaints in the timeshare industry about availability concerns and rising costs, it seems one travel group has come to the rescue. Most timeshare companies profitability trend line has fallen with the economy, but most crippling to the industry was the credit crunch which took place a few years back. The weaker timeshare companies have dissolved, changed hands, or disappeared.

The biggest complaint most owners have are the upfront purchase price costs and the ever-­rising annual maintenance fees of timeshares. Resorts Plus International states that over 50% of all clients they talk to who already own timeshare, buy their product. The company’s sales record seems to validate this statement.

In the travel and tourism industry they are known as pioneers in the travel club sales and timeshare redemption package sales. Many times a timeshare owner will come into their presentation with a timeshare resort they no longer like, actively use, or can afford to maintain. Resorts Plus International has been purchasing most of these weeks from the general public and allowing that credit to be applied to their membership fee to join their club. The varying purchase credits one receives from trading in properties seems to be the only complaint we can find on Resorts Plus International. It seems some people have paid different prices for their memberships. One can surmise that this has to do with the varying values people are receiving for trading in timeshares. It is public knowledge that the typical Resorts Plus International license is roughly $8,000 for “lifetime” access unless one has a timeshare to trade in towards the purchase total. In comparison, and with all the benefits Resorts Plus claims to offer, the $8,00 seems to be able to go a long way towards a lifetime of otherwise retail vacation dollars. This purchase price may be a fantastic deal for those who are looking to get out of their “never ending” timeshare annual obligations, or those who are at least committed to taking at least one vacation a year.

We placed a phone call to Resorts Plus International’s Florida sales office and asked if they had any new program updates they would like to share for this article. A management team member let us know they had just recently lowered their prices on luxury condo accommodations, and said ” it’s a reason for celebration.” Resorts Plus International has lowered ALL their Short Notice Condo weeks from $400per week to $289-$368! It seems there are no Resorts Plus International complaints here about ever raising prices like many of us see in the retail travel world.

Resorts Plus International states their members are the reason why they can lower their prices. It seems that buying in “bulk” is the name of their game. The Resorts Plus International member base has helped them buy so much inventory, the prices have dropped -­ and in return they passed their savings on to the customer. What a great way to reward your member base.

It seems Resorts Plus International is giving all those larger timeshare companies and smaller travel clubs a reason to be concerned. Any company who drops their already low prices and passes on savings to their clients is the type of travel company we can all endorse. If you are in the market for a timeshare or a travel club membership, we suggest giving Resorts Plus International a full look. For those that are passionate about travel, frugal with their spending, and love to experience new destinations -­ Resorts Plus International may just be the right club for you.

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New Blog Writing on Carrentals.co.uk from Motoring Expert Neill Watson

Popular motoring industry photographer and writer Neill Watson is the latest addition to the blogging team employed by hire car website Carrentals.co.uk. The award-winning online resource has partnered with Neill who will deliver expert commentary and articles to the online specialist’s car sector blog.

Throughout the past 25 years and more Neill Watson has worked in various roles within the motoring industry. Neill began work in the sector back in 1984 and has been photographing and writing on a professional basis since 2002.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of Carrentals.co.uk, comments: “It is a genuine pleasure to make this announcement this week, adding someone like Neill Watson to our blogging roster shows the profile that Carrentals.co.uk enjoys in the sector now. Neill will offer our readers some really interesting views and opinions based on his many years of working in the motor industry.”

Neill’s job has seen him road-test many of the motoring industry’s supercars and throughout recent years he has also been a contributing writer to magazines like Total 911 and Banzai. He is a qualified and experienced racetrack instructor and has also been a motor rallying driver too.

Neill Watson says: “It is a real honour to join such a well-known brand as Carrentals.co.uk – the company has a really high profile in the online motoring world today. Site users can look forward to reading my views and opinions on all manner of motor industry issues and stories over the coming months.”

Carrentals.co.uk is the leading car hire comparison site comparing deals from up to 50 rental companies, including Alamo, Auto Europe, Budget, Holiday Autos and Sixt, in over 15,000 locations worldwide including car hire throughout the UK in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a wide choice of pickup locations including car hire in Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and car hire in Edinburgh.

For more information visit www.carrentals.co.uk and for additional information on Neill Watson visit www.neillwatson.com.

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The world’s Top Rail Trails From Journeys Of Distinction

Luxury escorted touring specialist Journeys of Distinction has come up with its pick of the world’s top rail journeys, all of which are featured in selected itineraries among the company’s exceptional range of high quality escorted touring holidays.

The world’s most luxurious private train:-

The world’s most spacious and luxurious train, the privately owned Rovos Rail, carries a maximum of 72 passengers in 36 suites and recaptures the romance and atmosphere of a bygone era on an iconic rail journey from Durban to Pretoria. Air-conditioned suites have the choice of twin or double beds and ensuite facilities and the train offers accommodation of the highest standard, combining the opulence of a bygone era with modern innovations.

Two days on board the Rovos Rail, visiting game reserves and traversing the heart of South Africa, are included in Journeys of Distinction’s 16 day `Garden Route’ luxury escorted tour from Cape Town to Johannesburg. The tour, by luxury air-conditioned coach, safari jeep and Rovos Rail, takes in the spectacular wildlife and beauty of South Africa’s garden route with guided city tours of Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg, and costs from £4845pp, with departures on 16th September, 14th October and 28th October 2011.

Canada’s award winning Rocky Mountaineer
This is one train journey where the scenery is as awesome as the train itself. Canada’s award winning Rocky Mountaineer journeys`through the clouds’ from Jasper to Vancouver while guests enjoy roomy reclining seats, breakfast and lunch served with a commentary, from onboard attendants, through awe-inspiring scenery.

Scenic highlights include Mount Robson, Pyramid Falls, Yellowhead Pass and the journey along the North Thompson River.

Journeys of Distinction’s 17 day fully escorted `Grand Canadian Explorer’ holiday costs from £4,595pp and includes guided tours in Banff, Vancouver and Victoria, a day in Banff and Yoho national park, visits to Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefields, Jasper and Maligne Lake and a visit to Vancouver Island, as well as two days on board the Rocky Mountaineer from Jasper to Vancouver. Departures on 11th and 25th June, 13th August and 10th September 2011. There is also the option to enjoy a 3 day pre tour option to Toronto. Departures on 8th and 22nd June, 10th August and 7th September 2011.

Australia’s Ghan and Kuranda Rail journeys
Named after the Afghan cameleers who explored inland from Australia’s coastal towns, The Ghan (an abbreviation of The Afghan Express), provides an incomparable way to travel north to south through fresh panoramas of Australia’s constantly changing landscape. The route takes travellers from Adelaide to Darwin in 48 hours, or Adelaide to Alice Springs in half that time.

A second epic Australian rail journey, The Kuranda Scenic Railway was built through dense jungle and cliffs with sheer drops of up to 327 metres and slopes as steep as 45 degrees. Today this amazing train journey travels through dense tropical rain forest, steep ravines, and picturesque waterfalls and into the sensational Barron Gorge.

The company’s `Very best of Australia’ tour includes tours of Perth, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Adelaide, The Great Barrier Reef and Sydney with an overnight journey on Australia’s legendary scenic train available as an optional extra, The Ghan. Departures on 8th November 2011, 24th January, 21st February and 6th March 2012, prices from £4,795 for the 25 day tour, and £5165 to include the Ghan overnight rail journey.

Asia’s Oriental Express
The luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express recaptures the golden age of rail travel winding through some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic landscapes in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, and on into Laos, passing mountains, forests, fascinating towns and golden temples.

The sister train to Europe’s Venice Simplon-Orient-Express the train reflects Oriental styling with Malayan motifs and Thai wall carvings and offers gourmet dining, cocktails in the open-air observation car and local entertainment. The atmosphere on board harks back to a ‘Colonial’ age of rattan chairs on the verandah, linen suits and tea dances.

Included within Journeys of Distinctions 24 day fully escorted Asia tour, Jewels of South East Asia’ is a full day and overnight journey on board the Oriental Express, from Butterworth Station, over the River Kwai, and on to Bangkok. The fully escorted tour costs from £5,495 per person and combines Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos with a full programme of touring on a luxury air-conditioned coach and by train, return Qantas flights and the services of a tour manager throughout.

India’s Maharaja’s Express
The luxurious Maharaja Express is claimed to be the finest train journey in Asia and is certainly one of the most opulent in India. It has a stylish lounge offering panoramic views, deluxe comfortable carriages, state of the art suspension, two restaurants and lavishly decorated cabins with individual temperature controls.

A journey on this magnificent train includes all meals, complimentary drinks and butler service and while the styling of the train may reflect a bygone and elegant age, the train itself is equipped with large LCD TV’s, DVD players, direct-dial phones and Wi-Fi internet

An eight day journey on board the Maharaja Express, from Mumbai to Delhi, is featured in Journeys of Distinction’s 13 day `Journey on the Maharaja Express’ fully escorted touring holiday, with prices from £6,845pp, including full board on the train, with all soft drinks and Indian brand alcoholic drinks, sightseeing tours in Mumbai, Vadodara, Updaipur, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Delhi, a jeep safari in Ranthambore National Park, local guides, luxury hotel accommodation at the Imperial in Delhi and the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai pre and post journey and return scheduled flights from the UK.

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Etihad Announces Winner Of ‘Escape To Maldives’ Competition

Etihad Airways has announced Lynette Dobson from Abingdon, England, as the lucky winner of two tickets to the Maldives through its ‘Escape to Paradise’ Facebook competition.

Over 8,000 people across the globe entered the competition, which used a Facebook quiz to find out how romantic the respondents were. The competition posed situations such as “You’re watching a beautiful sunset, you say” a) “The sun’s getting tired and so am I” b) “There’s not much to do around here” c) “If beauty was a drop of water, then you’d be the ocean” d) “I have sand in my pants” or e) “You look great in this light”. The application then determined where users lay on the romantic scale of ‘Cold Fish’ to ‘Sizzling Hot’.

Winner Lynette, whose name was picked at random, was deemed to be a ‘sizzling hot’ romantic, and perfectly suited to a trip to the Maldives.

The stunning Maldive islands, located 700 kilometres southwest of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, have long represented a romantic dream for holidaymakers and travellers across the world.

Etihad will launch daily flights to Malé in the Maldives on November 1, and following her win Lynette will be on the inaugural flight. Despite the remote location, these new flights mean it is easier than ever to plan a trip of a lifetime and discover this idyllic destination.

“I can’t believe I’ve been lucky enough to win this prize,” said Lynette. “I’ve always wanted to go to the Maldives and Etihad have made my dream come true.”

James Hogan, Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are very excited to be launching flights to the Maldives later this year, and to be opening up this exclusive destination to more guests than ever. It is with great pleasure that we invite Lynette to visit these stunning islands, and sample our award winning airline, in celebration.”

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Daily Car Hire from £10 for August Bank Holiday with Carrentals.co.uk

Award-winning car hire price comparator Carrentals.co.uk is advising UK travellers that there are still incredibly low rates available on rentals for the upcoming Bank Holiday in August. For just £10 per day, car hire can be had at many hot getaway spots such as Mallorca, Nice and others.

The world’s leading rental car companies such as Hertz, Budget and Avis are holding their summer rates low for the end of the summer travel season. Brits can still enjoy superb value deals on car hire in favourite locations around Greece, the south of France and the Mediterranean – with deals on show for as little as £30 for a three day package.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of Carrentals.co.uk, says: “Whether it’s a car hire in Menorca booking or the French Alps the tourist is looking for, great value rental rates are available on cars for this long weekend in August. The car hire companies are enjoying a good year, and they want to maintain this level of business throughout the summer’s end.”

“Because this is last Bank Holiday of the year and it is such a busy travel period, it is particularly important to make rental bookings early. Popular items like sat nav, infant safety seats or vehicles like a 4×4 or people carrier often sell out ahead of time during holidays. You can avoid disappointment by simply making a reservation in advance.”

Carrentals.co.uk, the top online rental car rate comparator, lists the latest specials and prices from international rental firms like Alamo, Auto Europe, Budget, Holiday Autos and Sixt, and has processed over 650,000 rentals to date. To compare the latest offers for car hire in Spain and many other popular locations visit www.carrentals.co.uk.

Via EPR Network
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Choice Hotels announces opening of Clarion Collection Birmingham

Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH), the global hotel group behind the Comfort, Quality and Clarion brands and one of the largest and most successful lodging franchisors in the world, has announced that the newly-branded Clarion Collection Birmingham hotel has joined its global network of 6,100-plus hotels.

Centrally located and with easy access to Birmingham City Centre and Edgbaston Cricket Ground, the Clarion Collection Birmingham hotel provides business and leisure travellers with a perfect base to conduct business in the Midlands and explore the many nearby tourist attractions.

The four-star hotel will initially offer 60 rooms, increasing to 73 later in the year when 13 suites will be added. Each room has been tastefully designed from bedroom furniture to bathroom tiles, and all feature LCD TV’s and iPod docking stations. In addition the suites will be decorated with a unique theme and feature a separate lounge area, and some will also have kitchenettes and larger bathrooms containing whirlpools complete with LCD TV’s.

Guests also benefit from free parking as well as dining in Headingly restaurant, which specialises in grill cuisine. The Edgbaston bar offers a contemporary environment to relax, with a wide selection of hot and cold beverages. Room service is available 24 hours a day, and guests can enjoy a full buffet breakfast.

The hotel also offers four meeting room facilities and is extending its meeting and conference offering to cater for up to 1,000 people. Also expected to open in 2012, the hotel has submitted a planning application to open a leisure centre that will boast a small swimming pool, gym, sauna, steam room and hot tub.

Duncan Berry, UK CEO, Choice Hotels Europe commented: “We welcome the Clarion Collection Birmingham to our global network of more than 6,100 hotels and are delighted to now have four Choice Hotels properties in Birmingham.”

Yasin Hussain, General Manager, Clarion Collection Birmingham, said: “We saw many benefits to working with Choice Hotels which provides such a strong global hotel franchise brand.”

To celebrate its opening the Clarion Collection Birmingham is offering a special opening package of a two night stay for two people in a twin, queen, or king bed room including breakfast, champagne and a seasonal fruit platter on arrival.

The Clarion Collection Birmingham is the fourth Choice Hotels property to open in Birmingham. Most recently the Quality Hotel Birmingham Airport / NEC opened in Spring 2010 and other properties include the Comfort Inn Birmingham and the Quality Hotel Birmingham.

In the past three months Choice Hotels has also announced the opening of the Comfort Inn Hyde Park in London, Comfort Hotel Luton and the Clarion Collection Croydon Park Hotel. These new openings form part of the strategy of Choice Hotels to grow its business by entering into more third-party direct franchising agreements with UK-based independent hoteliers, companies and individuals.

Choice Hotels Europe franchises nearly 500 hotels across Europe alone. Brands operated by Choice Hotels in Europe include Clarion which could be described as four-star, Quality, which sits in the three-star bracket and provides a mid-scale full service offering and Comfort, the largest Choice Hotels brand worldwide, known for value and reliability.

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National Trust Announces Survey of Spectacular Tree Avenues

National Trust has announced a three year survey that will reveal the full extent, condition and stories behind the spectacular tree avenues cared for by the conservation charity.

There are an estimated 500 tree avenues on National Trust land stretching hundreds of miles which were historically planted to frame a particular view and are also now an important habitat for fungi, beetles, bats and lichens and forming natural wildlife corridors in the countryside.

The survey is the first of its kind in the world and as a result the Trust, as the largest individual owner of tree avenues in the world, will be better able to prioritise funding for their care as well as bringing together for the first time all of the fascinating stories behind the wealth of avenues.

Brian Muelaner, National Trust Ancient Tree Advisor, said: “Tree avenues are the perfect example of man and nature working in harmony. This new survey will give us the opportunity to understand more about these spectacular natural monuments which are rooted in the history of the places they appear.

“Historic tree avenues were great vanity projects for many wealthy landowners and there are some fantastic stories behind those in our care, so it’s especially important that we capture all of this information in order to keep telling these stories for generations to come.

“Many of our tree avenues are under threat from different diseases so this survey will pinpoint where the issues are and help us decide how we can address them. We have an extensive tree safety management programme which assesses the risk of individual trees but avenues as a whole are not currently taken into consideration.”

With more than 25,000 hectares of woodland, 200,000 hectares of farmland and 135 landscape and deer parks in National Trust care, more than 20,000 individual trees, equivalent to the size of 500 football pitches, are expected to be surveyed over the duration of the project.

Notable examples of tree avenues at Trust places include the Spanish Chestnuts at Croft Castle in Herefordshire, planted using the seeds from the Spanish Armada wrecks in 1592; the 731 trees in the Beech Avenue of the Kingston Lacy Estate in Dorset, which were an extravagant gift from Dorset aristocrat William John Bankes to his mother Frances and the Lime Tree Avenue at Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. This is the longest such avenue in Europe with 1,296 trees (2 miles) planted in a double row on each side by the 4th Duke of Newcastle.

Brian Muelaner added: “A tree avenue is a natural picture frame and there is nothing quite like walking along one as a magnificent building or spectacular landscape comes into view and the image is captured in your mind’s eye.”

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Aer Lingus Announces New App And Mobile Website

Aer Lingus has revealed its new app and mobile website allowing customers to plan and review their flight details, check in, receive travel alerts, check real-time flight information and make a booking whilst staying mobile.

Customers can access these features with their web enabled phone by accessing the mobile site or downloading the check in iPhone app or Android check in app. The app is also available to Blackberry and Nokia phone users. “This is phase one of a number of phases to be introduced as mobile technology advances,” said Stuart Lattimore, eCommerce Manager. “It is a direct response to the needs and demands of our customers and puts control into their hands to make changes and purchase flights with the ease and flexibility of their phone.”

When customers check-in with the app or mobile site, a 2D barcode displays on their mobile phone which can be scanned at security points and at the boarding gate. Customers can check-in, select their preferred seat, add their frequent flyer number and see if their flight is on time. “The result is customers can receive their boarding pass whilst en route to the airport, creating a more seamless and convenient travel experience,” said Stuart.

Customers travelling with baggage can also check-in and then proceed to bag tag and drop desk, in the very same way as checking-in on aerlingus.com. If a customer experiences any problems, they can simply collect a reprint of their boarding card from a check-in desk. Delays or cancellation alerts are highlighted automatically in the app.

“This is especially useful in the event of a disruption and means customers can be informed and advised of any changes before they decide to travel,” added Stuart.

Mobile and app check-in is currently only available on routes between Dublin and London Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham but is due to be fully rolled out network-wide over the next couple of months. “We are working to have certification in place with all our airports throughout Europe and the US. Our systems and barcodes need to be compliant with each airport before we add these routes to the app,” Stuart concluded.

Customer reaction has been positive with over 27,000 downloads of the new app so far.

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Survey Shows Tipping a Major Concern

When travelling abroad, UK residents find the issue of tipping more confusing than anything else and value advice on what to do in restaurants and taxis – a recent survey from Carrentals.co.uk reveals.

The online comparison experts interviewed 1,000 people who used car hire UK services in the past year to discover what issues they wanted advice on the most. Interestingly, more important topics like legal points and important festivals were passed over for the subject of tipping etiquette.

Although many countries still maintain a culture of no tipping, leaving a gratuity in restaurants is increasingly becoming the norm. When to tip or not to tip is a dilemma many travellers face, along with how much to leave the waiter. As many restaurants add a service charge to the bill, this only adds to the confusion.

Gareth Robinson, Managing Director of car hire specialist Carrentals.co.uk, says: “Lately it seems like wherever we travel in the world, waiters expect a tip when we eat out. When you come from a culture that doesn’t tip, this can feel like an uncomfortable process concerning how much is an appropriate amount. Places like the USA have a deeply entrenched tipping scene with tips averaging a whopping 20% in most restaurants.”

“When you know ahead of time what to expect from the restaurant in terms of service and gratuity you can avoid a mountain of frustration and embarrassment. We learned from our survey that people want to know what to do in restaurants, taxis and even hotels before they head off on holiday. Our goal now is provide our customers with everything they need to know in clear easy terms right on our car rental booking website.”

The popular Carrentals.co.uk website compares rental rates and deals from dozens of international firms including Alamo, Auto Europe, Budget, Holiday Autos and Sixt, and has handled more than 650,000 rentals to date. For more information visit carrentals.co.uk.

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Jeannie Bishop Hawaii Getaways

Enjoying Hawaii Vacations by Jeannie Bishop

Although some people say that a Hawaii sailing vacation is expensive, it is worth it when it comes to ultimate comfort especially if you decided to get a crewed boat. This is because the crewed boat will ensure that everything will be handled by the charter that you have chosen unlike when you go on all by yourself through a bareboat.

The happy weather

People who have been into Hawaii sailing vacations would agree that the most enjoyable part of the whole trip is the tropical weather offered by Hawaii. The place is considered to be one of the America people’s greatest natural treasures—both for tourists and locals. Here, majority of the guests are foreigners that flock the islands and sands to escape the busy city life.

Hawaii is composed of eight major islands and a network of more than 100 islands and islets located all around the island chain that is located in the Pacific Ocean. Being in a chain that is home to some of the most unpredictable waters on Earth, the islands of Hawaii are most sought after to visit because they are truly unique.

Because of its subtropical climate, Hawaii enjoys the best of both worlds—the good and the worst of it. The tropical islands are home to some of the world’s best white sand beaches, because of the mild temperate weather almost all throughout the year revelers can enjoy the sun, sand and surf. But since it is part of the Pacific’s unpredictable waters, storms can hit it’s hardest every now and then. Still on a good day, the sun shines almost all day long so there’s no need for jackets and heavy coats.

For people looking who are planning the perfect vacation, weather is the number one factor to take into account. Aside from nice weather, Hawaii is also synonymous to a place where people could enjoy water sports of all kinds like snorkeling, wreck diving, underwater scuba, surfing, or just basking in the sun. This gives the feeling of relaxation to the tired mind and rejuvenation to the burdened body. And because water has natural healing properties and the most common healing agent, people do more than flock the islands of Hawaii to fill their need to get away.

Aside from great sea view, you can also get a good view of some majestic sceneries and landscapes along the way.

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