The Radisson Blu Hotel, Amsterdam wins “Global Hotel of the Year 2011”

The Radisson Blu Hotel, Amsterdam has been awarded the title of “Global Hotel of the Year 2011” by the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. The property, located in the heart of Amsterdam, has been named the best of more than 420 Radisson hotels worldwide, and the leading player within the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group with regards to guest satisfaction, employee engagement, business performance, and market positioning.

“The Radisson Blu Hotel, Amsterdam has delivered an outstanding result – not only in 2011, but over the last three years. It has truly raised the bar in achieving operations and service excellence within our group”, said Kurt Ritter, president & CEO of Rezidor at the Award Ceremony during Carlson Rezidor’s Global Business Conference in Nassau, Bahamas. At the forefront of the Global Business Conference, the property had already been awarded the title of “Hotel of the Year 2011” in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“Both awards are a thank you and a fantastic motivation to my staff. Such achievements cannot be won by a single employee or following a single activity. They are the result of long term and intense team work”, said Ronald Smithjes, general manager of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Amsterdam at the prize giving.

The hotel aims to combine past and present in downtown Amsterdam, and was carefully designed to encompass several 18th century merchant houses, a former paper factory and a 19th century vicarage. Featuring 248 modern and stylish rooms and suites, the “De Palmboom” restaurant with a Dutch and international menu, the unique “Pastorie Bar”, flexible meeting rooms for up to 160 delegates and a business centre, as well as a gym including sauna and solarium, the hotel is an ideal location for both leisure and business travelers staying in Amsterdam hotels. The hotel also aims to adhere to Radisson’s service philosophy “Yes I Can!”, a 100% guest satisfaction guarantee, and further signature services such as free high speed internet access at all times. According to the group’s Responsible Business Programme, the hotel is a smoke-free environment, and pet-friendly.

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National Trust working holiday bookings up 50%

The National Trust has revealed that bookings of its working holidays are up 50% on this time last year.

The activity programme, celebrating its 45th year, runs over 300 breaks offering the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and play a vital part in conserving the country’s natural legacy.

The wide variety of activities include surfing while repairing footpaths in Devon, planting trees and photographing the wonders of Snowdonia or dry-stone walling alongside Hadrian’s Wall in Northumbria.

The Trust’s Head of Holidays, Marianne Wanstall, said: “This increase in bookings is fantastic news. Our working holidays are not just an amazing opportunity to learn new skills but see behind the scenes of the National Trust, meet new people and enjoy unique experiences. The volunteering work ensures that our special places remain open, relevant and accessible.”

As growing numbers of Britons choose to holiday at home amid the economic downturn, National Trust working holidays in the UK also provide great value for money, with seven night breaks available including accommodation, all activities and meals.

New additions in 2012 include a farming holiday which involves hands on experience of all aspects of farming with management of cattle, pigs and even emus. Families are also well catered for with some new holidays offering child friendly activities such as sand sculpture competitions, beach cleaning and orienteering.

Marianne Wanstall added: “We’re really focused on providing unique experiences; our most popular choices are those with activities at their core, such as cycling, surfing, sailing, bush craft or photography. One of the real positives is the range of participants, from young to old, and we’re delighted that there’s been a major growth in our family holiday packages.”

With 60,000 regular volunteers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, working holidaymakers join a huge tradition of volunteering with the National Trust.

Rob Clarke, holiday owner in the Lake District, said: “Working holidaymakers play a really valued role, giving up their time and skills to help us look after this special place. It’s also fantastic to be involved with all the camaraderie and enjoyment that comes from the people taking part.”

More information on the scheme can be found at nationaltrust.org.uk/workingholidays.

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MasterChef co-presenter opens restaurant at Bermondsey Square Hotel

Gregg Wallace, co-presenter of the popular MasterChef TV show, has opened a restaurant at The Bermondsey Square Hotel, which is run by hotel group Bespoke Hotels. The restaurant, which has replaced Alfie’s Bar & Kitchen, matches the hotel’s throwback 1970s style and design.

The restaurant, called ‘Gregg’s Table’, features classic 1970s meals and recipes, all of which are fully updated to appeal to modern tastes. Dishes such as fish fingers, chips and beans appear on the main menu, while starters include mushroom vol-au-vents and two of the desserts available are the decidedly 70s Knickerbocker glory and banana split. The meals available on the menus are some of Wallace’s childhood favourites, with main meals costing between £13 and £19, while starters are just £5 to £7.

Wallace, who grew up in the South East area of London and was a greengrocer in his earlier years, has a love of British 1970s cuisine and has long-since been a fan of the Bermondsey Square Hotel.

“I have been a supporter of the hotel, which has an inbuilt sense of humour and nod to the 1970s,” he said. “It seemed a perfect choice for the launch of Gregg’s Table.”

“We are excited about delivering good honest food, and the hotel has one of London’s best outdoor seating areas – we want to fill it with local residents and hotel guests who just want a drink and to have good food while taking in this part of London.”

The restaurant can seat a total of 80 people inside, while the outside al fresco dining area has further seating and comes with its own menus for drinks and snacks. The hotel itself has been open since 2009 and is ideally placed just a short distance from some of London’s best attractions, such as the TATE Modern art gallery and the Globe theatre.

Gregg’s Table officially opened on February 27th 2012 – for more information please visit the official Bespoke Hotels website at www.bespokehotels.com.

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LondonTown.com gives sweet toothed fans of The Chocolate Festival the resources to book a London hotel

Just in time to stock up for Easter, The Chocolate Festival returns to Southbank Centre from Friday 30th March to Sunday 1st April 2012 bringing together award-winning chocolatiers, insightful tutorials and free tastings in one complete celebration of all things chocolate.

Chocoholics who delight in the fine art of chocolate making can enjoy the weekend-long festival by booking a hotel in London through LondonTown.com and with Easter coming up the first weekend in April is a good time to see family and friends in London. Anyone attending the free festival at the Southbank Centre Square, located behind Royal Festival Hall, will find around 40 stands with cocoa products from award winning chocolatiers like Paul A Young, William Curley and Demarquette as well as more unusual offerings – ever wanted to taste a chocolate flavoured beer, or sugar-free chocolate?

Chef Valentina Harris hosts a series of demonstrations, tastings and talks in the Chocolate Cookery Theatre marquee beginning with a cookery demonstration and continuing with talks, baking demonstrations and tutored tastings. Martin Christy, chocolate expert and founder of Seventy%, will take you on a voyage of discovery to find the true flavours of chocolate, and Urvashi Roe, a contestant on this year’s Great British Bake Off, will be doing a cookery demonstration drawing on her passion for baking and home entertaining.

Hugely popular, the six Masters of Chocolate demonstrations which take place on Saturday afternoon are a highlight of the festival but you’ll have to book early if you want to get tickets to meet some of the world’s most respected chocolatiers and pastry chefs. Damian Allsop, Paul Wayne Gregory, Bill McCarrick, the new head chef of Rococo, Barry Johnson, are among the experts who will be divulging their cooking tips and favourite recipes to those lucky enough to secure a ticket.

More information about the Chocolate Festival is provided by LondonTown.com who specialise in giving travellers information on the capital including event listings, theatre tickets, restaurant reviews and information on hotels which are often offered at discounted prices.

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LondonTown.com urges Harry Potter fans to book early for major new Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Demand for tickets to see the new Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter has been so huge that opening hours have been extended before the attraction even opens its doors for the first time on Saturday 31st March 2012.

Fans of the hugely successful Harry Potter film series are renowned for their loyalty and now they can visit the very place where it all began, the hangar where eight of their favourite films starring the boy wizard were made. The Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, home to Harry Potter actors and crew for ten years, has been turned into a 150,000 square foot museum and visitors staying at one of the hotels in London listed on LondonTown.com can take the train from Euston and visit the attraction in Watford in just 20 minutes.

Warner Brothers have invested around £100 million converting the giant warehouse into a tourist attraction containing the best-loved Harry Potter film sets intended to transform Watford into a “place of pilgrimage”, in the words of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who took a tour around the site before it opened to the public.

The three-hour tour which takes visitors through the sets, costumes and props made famous by the film also gives a behind-the-scenes insight into the making of the films, the special effects and animatronics that helped make Harry Potter one of the most successful film series of all time.

The impressive sets, which have earned Production Designer, Stuart Craig, six BAFTA nominations (and the BAFTA Award for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), include Diagon Alley – the cobbled shopping street where witches and wizards can buy their wands from Ollivanders; Dumbledore’s office – filled with real oil paintings of previous headmasters, many of which look suspiciously like the film crew; and the Great Hall at Hogwarts.

Taking the Harry Potter walking tour, visitors will get to see how the animatronics – of Buckbeak the Hippogriff, Aragog the giant spider, Fawkes the phoenix and the Basilisk head – and iconic props like Harry’s Nimbus 2000 broomstick and Hagrid’s motorbike, along with green screen effects helped to bring JK Rowling’s imagined world to life.

Organisers have had a phenomenal response from dedicated Harry Potter fans wanting tickets for the first tour dates and while the actual Grand Opening date is already completely sold out, there may still be some availability for the opening week so it’s worth checking. For booking details see LondonTown.com where information on all the great things to do in London , including other behind the scenes tours, is listed along with a whole range of leisure activities from sports to sight seeing. Harry Potter fans visiting London can also go to the other London venues featured in the Harry Potter films, including the Hogwarts Express which famously leaves from the fictitious platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross station.

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Kuoni opens new store in Canterbury

Kuoni, a leading luxury travel brand, has opened a sumptuous new store in the Whitefriars Shopping Centre in Canterbury, with an unusual ‘meet and greet’ desk. The desk is knitted from 3,250 metres of Merino lambs-wool, other mixed wools and cotton in a variety of eye-catching colours.

Mrs Margit Viola of Augsburg in Germany is the lady who spent weeks lovingly knitting the desk using 34 balls of wool in colours: orange, bright blue, grey, black, brown and white. The completed piece was then flown to the UK and installed ready to meet Canterbury’s Lord Major and other VIP guests from Canterbury on the 31 January 2012 at the store’s official opening party. Mrs Viola, well known for her knitting prowess, was commissioned by Kuoni to start knitting the desk back in 2011.

The inspiration for the knitted desk came from Julie Day, Facilities Manager at Kuoni who says: “I wanted to create a dramatic first impression to the store as well as an unusual feature. The knitted desk is a real talking point and people love to touch and feel its texture. There is something about wool that is naturally warm and welcoming; this feel links with what Kuoni wants to convey – the warm welcomes our travellers receive from our staff across the world.”

In addition to the meet and greet desk, the store also boasts a dramatic 16 metre long rug that runs the length of the floor and up a wall to ceiling height in a dramatic mix of terracotta, mustard, olive green and beige colours. Authentic artefacts from different countries such as Bali and Africa make visitors feel a sense of far flung places and exotic travel from the moment they arrive in store.

Kuoni’s Personal Travel Experts are on hand in the Canterbury store to help advise-on and plan the best holiday for you. Customers can find the store at 16 Marlowe Arcade, Whitefriars Shopping Centre, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 2TJ or phone on 01227 463 800.

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St. Patrick’s Day Festival celebrations in London bring a hundred thousand revellers to the city’s streets

Over 100,000 people are expected to attend London’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival with a free parade from Green Park to Trafalgar Square where live entertainment keeps the party going all day on Sunday 18th March 2012. Crowds of revellers dressed in green will descend on the capital and for those coming to London to celebrate the feast day of Ireland ‘s patron saint travelling from outside London can choose from a wide selection ofLondon hotels on LondonTown.com and make their weekend a memorable one.

The parade features a colourful line up of floats, marching bands and groups representing the Irish counties and you can see them from wherever you stand along the route which starts at Green Park, close to Hyde Park Corner, travels around Piccadilly Circus, along Haymarket via Trafalgar Square to end at Whitehall.

At Trafalgar Square festival goers will be treated to live entertainment, music and dance as well as Irish food and crafts. On the main stage, from 12 noon to 6pm, music acts include RAMS’ Pocket Radio, Crystal Swing, Four Men and a Dog, Mercury Prize nominated Gemma Hayes and Ireland’s folk band of the year The High Kings who play at London’s O2 Arena on 5th, 6th and 7th March as part of the Young Voices charity gig.

It wouldn’t be a St Patrick’s Day celebration without an Irish gig and this year there’s a collaboration between Comhaltas with members from its many London branches performing with the Mulkerrin Brothers, three traditional Irish musicians and performers from the Aran Islands . Jason Oremus and Garrett Coleman’s dance group Hammerstep bring their own unique mix of traditional Irish dance, tap and hip hop to the stage from 3.10pm in the afternoon.

For more information about London’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival visit LondonTown.com who offer a whole host of resources for London ‘s visitors and tourists. Choose from accommodation to suit families, groups of friends or solo travellers, you can even find hotels with an Irish connection including The Cadogan Hotel in Sloane Street where Oscar Wilde was arrested in 1895, or Irish-owned hotel groups like the Doyle Collection and Jurys Inn Hotels.

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The BADA Antiques & Fine Art Fair celebrates its twentieth year in London’s Duke of York Square

The first event of its kind to be housed in a purpose-built pavilion in London, the BADA Fair celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2012 bringing fine furniture, paintings, glittering silver, jewellery, ceramics, textiles and beautiful works of art under one roof at the Duke of York Square, Chelsea. For one week, from 21st to 27th March the distinguished fair, which is exclusive to members of the British Antique Dealers’ Association, gives serious art collectors the opportunity to peruse and purchase pieces from carefully selected specialist dealers.

Internationally recognised as one of the UK ‘s premier, national art and antiques fair, this year’s event features 103 antique dealers and anyone arriving in London for the fair can find a wide selection of hotels in London close to the Kings Road venue including boutique hotels, luxury and five star accommodation, all within walking distance of the fair.

This year, nine new exhibitors to the fair include Hansord, a Lincolnshire-based family business with over 50 years of experience; glass dealer Marris; Mark Mitchell Paintings; and dealer-decorator Max Rollitt who specialises in the finest 18th and 19th century English antiques. In addition, Don Kelly Books who has been dealing in new and out of print reference books on the fine and applied arts since 1978 will be bringing a wide range of books to the fair.

A programme of talks includes a presentation by House & Garden magazine experts who divulge their predictions for design trends in 2012. Country Life’s Architectural Editor John Goodall gives a talk on the magazine’s documentation of and designs on the English country house. On Monday 26th March, Colin Wiggins, Special Projects Curator at the National Gallery, gives an insight into the gallery’s current exhibition on Canaletto and Britain’s deep rooted admiration of Venice dating back to the 18th century Grand Tourists.

Tuesday’s talk, on 27th March, on ‘Royal Protection and Modern Collecting’ ties in with the loan exhibition entitled ‘Pomp, Pageantry & Protection’ which showcases twenty five polearms pieces never been displayed in public before. This is a rare chance to see etched and gilded weapons from the royal courts of Europe from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries held in a private collection. The talk will show how context can help form a distinguished collection, and how patience and determination are the makings of a successful collector.

Refreshments are provided on site by the Cellini Restaurant and Taittinger Champagne Bar while the Duke of York Brasserie offers lighter fare. Art Logistics will also be on hand to advise and assist with the shipment of purchases anywhere in the world.

For further information the website LondonTown.com has full listings of arts events including all the major exhibitions and galleries on in London during your stay as well as useful advice on how to find London accommodation to suit your needs. Anyone with an interest in art would be well advised to visit the nearby Saatchi Gallery where ‘Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany’ an exciting showcase of new works from Germany continues for the duration of the BADA Fair.

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England to Face Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day in Six Nations

England are to take on Ireland on the latter’s patron saints day on 17 th March, during the final round of matches in this year’s Six Nations tournament. It will be one of only two games England will play at home, coming on the back of the match against World Cup heroes Wales at Twickenham on Saturday 25 th February.

Twickenham Stadium is the home of English rugby and rugby supersedes even football in this part of London, with local pubs giving preferential treatment to the screening of rugby games. For the weekend of the England v Ireland contest, LondonTown.com are joining in the Six Nations spirit by helping traveling supporters to find a cheap hotel in London after the game.

The last time Ireland came to London was in 2010, a tie they won 16-20 thanks to a late conversion from fly half Ronan O’Gara. Last year in Dublin they repeated the victory against England, taking a Grand Slam win of 24-8.

But Ireland will have to do without their firebrand centre (and regular captain) Brian O’Driscoll for the St. Patrick’s day match, thanks to a shoulder injury which has seen him sit out the tournament. And with England seeking to assuage fans disappointed with their 2011 World Cup campaign, pundits are split on which way the match will go.

LondonTown.com, the capital’s premier booking and information website is offering a number of discounted rooms close to Twickenham. One hotel in London being offered as part of the deal is the Continental in Lampton Road, just half an hour’s walk from the stadium. For the night of the game, double and twin rooms are available from fifty pounds – a 78% reduction from the standard nightly rate.

Visit LondonTown.com for more discounted hotels in London, and for more information on the Six Nations tie between England and Ireland.

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Premier Inn research finds money (and Brits) never sleep

Premier Inn has revealed the results of new research commissioned by the hotel chain, which has found that Brits are counting pennies rather than counting sheep, as almost three quarters of the nation admit to having sleepless nights thanks to financial worries keeping them awake at night.

The sleep study, commissioned by the UK’s best value hotels, Premier Inn, found that four in ten Brits have a disturbed night’s sleep as a result of worrying about having enough cash to pay bills and ‘get through’ the month. Concerns about work, love life woes and fears over health were highlighted alongside financial worries as being the top reasons that Brits lie awake at night.

Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, the majority revealed their sleepless nights are caused by things playing on their mind, rather than physical disturbances like annoying car alarms or persistent dog barking. That said the beeping, flashing or buzzing of mobile phones does cause one in twenty of us to stir from our slumber.

Getting the temperature right seems to be a crucial element of a good night’s sleep with over a quarter of Brits being unable to nod off if they are too hot and 16% claiming they wake up if it’s too cold.

Claire Haigh, spokeswoman for Premier Inn, commented: “Most of us suffer from sleepless nights at some point in our lives and it can be extremely frustrating when something is playing on your mind as it makes it hard to drop off.

“The research revealed that 40% of us actually have a better night’s sleep when we are staying away from home as it allows us to really switch off. This demonstrates how important it is to occasionally get away from the stresses of everyday life, but making sure the time away from home won’t break the bank.”

The study revealed that the average time when Brits are most likely wake up from the land of nod is between 2am and 3am and for those who suffer sleepless nights regularly it can happen at least twice a week, with almost a quarter of Brits saying Sunday is their most restless night, due to worry about the coming week.

Other concerns playing on Brits’ minds this year include worries over preparations for the Queen’s Jubilee, excitement for the Olympics coming to England and even 6% admit to missing out on their 40 winks as a result of the US presidential election.

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Whitbread PLC brings £5 million to High Wycombe thanks to new Premier Inn

Whitbread PLC is to open a new Premier Inn hotel in High Wycombe Central on 12th March 2012. The property will contribute over £5 million to the local economy, whilst creating 41 new jobs for residents of the area.

The brand new 120 bedroom hotel is ideally located right in the centre of High Wycombe with easy access to London and minutes away from the main train line station.

Karin Holmes, General Manager of Premier Inn High Wycombe Central commented:
“Premier Inn already has a hotel in the High Wycombe area but this new development boasts the best location yet for guests who want to be in the very centre. The hotel will provide good value and high quality accommodation for both business and leisure travellers.”

Councillor Arif Hussain, Wycombe District Council’s Cabinet Member for Property and Economic Development, commented: “Extensive redevelopment in recent years has really improved High Wycombe’s leisure and retail offer. As the next step in regenerating the town centre, we wanted to secure a new hotel on this key frontage. We think that Premier Inn is a good fit for High Wycombe, offering good quality, affordable accommodation and providing local jobs for local people.”

Each bedroom caters for up to two adults and two children (aged 15 and under) and includes an en-suite bathroom; a king size bed; remote control TV with Freeview; tea/coffee making facilities, and a spacious desk area with Wi-Fi Internet access. The site will also offer the All You Can Eat ‘Premier Breakfast’ in the Thyme restaurant.

Premier Inn offers all guests a no quibble ‘Good Night Guarantee’, which means if customers are not 100% satisfied with their stay they will get their money back.

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Guoman Hotels’ The Grosvenor Hotel Victoria uncovers the ‘Courtesan’s Boudoir’

Guoman Hotels’ The Grosvenor Hotel has revealed its past connection to one of the most risqué residents of 1870s London, with the launch of its opulent ‘Courtesan’s Boudoir’. The Parisian-inspired Suite has been tenderly created in homage to one of the grand railway hotel’s most infamous visitors – the scandalous courtesan, Miss Cora Pearl.

A lady notorious with entertaining only the highest members of social standing, including royalty, Cora Pearl was one of the most feted courtesans of her time. In the 1870s, Cora made a rare visit to London and, after arriving at Victoria Station (the gateway into London at that time), booked a Suite at The Grosvenor Hotel, only to be immediately refused entry when stories of her illicit and hedonistic lifestyle surfaced.

The Grosvenor Hotel’s 150th anniversary year sees the hotel uncover the glamour and overindulgence of the courtesan’s lifestyle by opening the doors of the specially-designed, rococo-themed Suite for the very first time.

Unveiled On February 23rd – the date of Cora’s birthday – the ‘Courtesan’s Boudoir – The Cora Pearl Suite’, has drawn its inspiration from the opulent French interior styling of the late 1800s. Found on the second floor where the most expensive rooms were originally located, the spacious room features a stunning two-foot high oil painting of Cora herself, glass chandeliers, feather trimmed lamps, an overstated dressing table, custom made floor fittings and silver finished French inspired furniture.

The focal point of the Suite is a free standing ‘infinity’ bath, elevated on a marble tile plinth. The bath tub is a replica of the personally engraved, bronze bath that Cora had specially cast for her in Paris which she famously filled with vintage champagne in which to bathe with her suitors.

Katie Hickman, historian, novelist and author of the bestselling biography ‘Courtesans’, collaborated with Guoman Hotels to ensure the true spirit of Cora was depicted within the creation of the Suite.

Katie believes the ‘Courtesan’s Boudoir’ embraces the extravagance of high-class social circles of the time and reflects absolute Victorian glamour. She commented: “I’m very confident Cora would have loved the idea of a Suite created in her honour. It gives her the limelight she truly deserved and brings to the foreground a time in women’s history where barriers of class, sexuality and independence were challenged. With all its lavish finishes and close attention to Cora’s passions, the Suite certainly represents the hedonistic lifestyle Cora herself enjoyed.”

Marking Cora’s date of birth and to coincide with The Grosvenor Hotel’s 150th anniversary, the hotel is opening the ‘Courtesan’s Boudoir – The Cora Pearl Suite’ suite on 23 February 2012.

Further details and booking information can be found at www.guoman.com/cora_pearl.

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Premier Inn named ‘Best Budget Hotel Brand’ at 2012 Business Travel Awards

Premier Inn, the UK’s biggest budget hotel chain, was crowned ‘Best Budget Hotel Brand’ for the third year in a row at the Business Travel Awards, beating off strong competition from the likes of Hampton by Hilton and Travelodge.

Now in their 17th year, the Business Travel Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of the industry’s leading players, who have performed outstandingly in their field over the last 12 months. The awards, voted for by industry experts also granted Premier Inn the ‘Best CSR Programme’ award, beating Hampton by Hilton and IHG amongst others.

Patrick Dempsey, Managing Director for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to win the ‘Best Budget Hotel Brand’ award for the third, consecutive year. And of course to win the ‘Best CSR Programme’ award. Our teams work extremely hard to make sure all our guests have a good night guaranteed when staying at one of our hotels. As a company we are committed to being ‘a force for good’, highlighted through our Good Together programme which benefits our teams and communities, customers and the environment. It’s fantastic to be awarded for all our efforts over the past year.”

Premier Inn is the UK’s biggest budget hotel chain with over 600 hotels across the UK and Ireland. Premier Inn offers guests a unique industry promise of a Good Night Guarantee – a good night’s sleep or their money back.

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Discover Italy with Newmarket Holidays

From stunning scenery and fascinating history to mouth-watering cuisine and welcoming hospitality, Italy’s many charms make it the ideal holiday destination. Packed with fantastic excursions, specialist tour operator Newmarket Holidays’ 2012 Italy holidays and escorted tours offer the chance to discover this beautiful part of the world.

Priced from just £339 per person, Newmarket’s Italian holidays fly from a wide choice of airports throughout the UK. For a relaxing holiday in one of Italy’s most beautiful settings, look no further than Lake Garda. Surrounded by towering mountains, the glittering lake’s clear, blue waters have long been a popular draw for visitors seeking a tranquil getaway and watersport thrills. Holidays in Lake Garda offer a choice of several delightful resorts on the lake’s shores, each with its own individual charms just waiting to be discovered.

For a holiday that combines gorgeous scenery and fascinating history, Newmarket Holidays’ Venice, Verona and Lake Garda escorted tour is the perfect choice. As well tours of the breath-taking Dolomite Mountains and Lake Garda, this holiday includes excursions to two of Italy’s most majestic cities. Trips to ‘Fair Verona’ – the backdrop to Shakespeare’s tragic tale of star-crossed lovers – and to romantic, labyrinthine Venice, are enhanced by a knowledgeable Newmarket tour manager, on hand to answer any questions and offer advice.

Newmarket Holidays’ Sorrento holidays guarantee more picture-postcard relaxation. Priced from just £379 per person, a Newmarket holiday to Sorrento offers a wonderful range of excursions. Visits to Pompei and Montecassino uncover the secrets of Italy’s haunting past, while a trip to Capri – the magical ‘Isle of Dreams’, overlooking the Bay of Naples – and a scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast, promise stunning views. Both resorts – Sorrento and Sant’ Agata – offer a great range of hotels in which to enjoy the glorious Mediterranean sunshine and sample the local way of life.

Sunseekers looking for some cultural stimulation will love Newmarket’s escorted Sicily holidays. Located between Italy and Africa, this sun-blessed island has natural beauty in abundance: inland, quaint hilltop towns perch on volcanic slopes whilst beautiful beaches and elegant resorts dot the coast. Sicily’s landscape contains many historic treasures, ready to be discovered on a range of fantastic excursions – to the island’s capital, Palermo, medieval Agrigento and fabled Mount Etna. Its many cultural influences have ensured that Sicilian cuisine is especially impressive, combining Greek, Arab and Spanish textures with traditional Italian flavours – and, of course, the ice cream is legendary.

A magical blend of unspoiled beauty, history and culture can be found on Newmarket Holidays’ Florence and Tuscany holidays. A holiday to Italy’s beautiful heartland is a journey into its past, as a wonderful range of excursions reveal – from Botticelli’s exquisite ‘Birth of Venus’ in Florence and Michelangelo’s masterpiece, the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome, to Siena, one of the world’s most perfectly preserved medieval cities. For those who prefer to explore at their own pace, this break also offers the chance to discover the famous rolling hills and artistic legacy at leisure.

Choose one of Newmarket Holiday’s great-value breaks to this wonderful corner of the world and fall under Italy’s spell.

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Premier Inn opens new Newton Abbot hotel to the public

The Newton Abbott Premier Inn has officially opened its doors to the public investing £6.4 million into the local economy whilst creating 61 jobs.

Local businesses, the Local Mayor of Newton Abbot Councillor Colin Parker and Mayor of Kingsteignton Councillor Keith Howard were invited to the ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the 60 bedroom hotel which is conveniently located on Newton Road, just five minutes away from Newton Abbott train station.

Refreshments and food tasters from the onsite Beefeater Grill restaurant were provided to showcase the delicious food the hotel has to offer.

The opening event was also attended by world renowned racehorse trainer Martin Pipe and Newton Abbot Racecourse Managing Director Patrick Masterson, who was celebrating the fact the new hotel overlooks Newton Abbot Racecourse.

Martin Dixon, the General Manager of the new Newton Abbott Premier Inn commented: “We are delighted to bring a new Premier Inn to Newton Abbott. The hotel has a superb location for those touring South Devon’s countryside and beaches, and our hotel is perfectly situated for both leisure and business travellers desiring good value accommodation that doesn’t compromise on quality.”

Each bedroom caters for up to two adults and two children (aged 15 and under) and includes an en-suite bathroom; a king size bed; remote control TV with Freeview; tea/coffee making facilities, and a spacious desk area with Wi-Fi Internet access. The site will also offer the All You Can Eat ‘Premier Breakfast’.

Premier Inn offers all guests the unique ‘Good Night Guarantee’, which means if a customer is not 100% satisfied with their stay they will get a full refund.

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redspottedhanky.com And Masabi Launch UK Rail Mobile Phone Ticketing Service

redspottedhanky.com, the award winning online travel retailer, has announced it is using Masabi, a developer of mTicketing technology for the transport sector, for its mobile ticketing service. The mobile application allows travellers to search for train times, buy tickets and earn loyalty points for any route in the UK, with displayable mTickets available on certain routes, eliminating the need for many passengers to use ticket machines. The apps currently support iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Nokia smartphones, as well as most everyday phones, with a Windows Phone 7 version launching soon.

Customers can quickly and easily search for and buy cheap train tickets and earn loyalty points without paying any booking fees – repeat purchases are even faster, requiring only a few key presses. mTickets are supported on certain routes, such as the Chiltern Railways network, in the form of 2D barcodes. Where mTickets are not available, customers can collect their tickets using a booking reference number at most UK rail stations. The application also has the option to link purchases to the user’s web account, giving them a single convenient place to view all purchases, or print out receipts for expenses claims.

“It is now possible to get the great redspottedhanky.com service on the go where customers can check train times and buy the cheapest possible tickets whilst earning loyalty points using their mobile phone, whether it’s the latest smartphone or a basic everyday handset,” said James Bain, redspottedhanky.com’s Director and Co-Founder. “We look forward to continuing to work with Masabi to further develop the mobile applications and offer more advanced features, ultimately improving our customers’ experience.”

“As more and more consumers opt to travel by rail, there is a need to find new ways to sell tickets without necessarily expanding every station. This application allows consumers to completely bypass ticket machines, making their journeys as effortless and enjoyable as possible, from buying the ticket to boarding the train,” said Giacomo Biggiero, CPO of Masabi. “We are extremely pleased to be working with forward-thinking online rail ticket vendors like redspottedhanky.com in bringing this innovative service to the public.”

All transactions are secured using Masabi’s award-winning, US government certified, encryptME security system that will ultimately support phone-based contactless technology, such as NFC, once it is widely available on handsets.

Via EPR Network
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Premier Inn brings £29 million to new London Heathrow hotel

Premier Inn, the UK’s largest budget hotel chain, has opened its biggest airport hotel yet with over 400 bedrooms at London’s Heathrow Terminal 5.

Premier Inn Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 opened its doors to the public on 6th February 2012, bringing a total of £29million to the local economy through tourism and trade.

The new Heathrow hotel Terminal 5 has also created 82 jobs opportunities for people in the local area, with 79% of positions been filled by people returning to work after long-term unemployment.

Located just one mile away from Heathrow terminal 5, it is in an ideal location for those flying from the terminal. The site includes a Costa Coffee shop, Thyme restaurant and an outdoor eating area. And for those guests with electric motors who need to top up their motor the hotel also has electric car charge points.

Dean Madge, Cluster General Manager of Premier Inn Hounslow comments: “We are delighted to be opening a new hotel so close to London’s Heathrow Terminal 5. Our hotel is in a prime location for those looking to stay somewhere before or after a long flight, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming guests next month.”

Each bedroom caters for up to two adults and two children (aged 15 and under) and includes an en-suite bathroom; a king size bed; remote control TV with Freeview; tea/coffee making facilities, and a spacious desk area with WiFi Internet access. The site will also offer the All You Can Eat ‘Premier Breakfast’.

Premier Inn offers all guests a no quibble ‘Good Night Guarantee’, which means if customers are not 100% satisfied with their stay they will get their money back.

Via EPR Network
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Voyager Travel Direct slashes prices on Turkey Gulet Cruises

Voyager Travel Direct has slashed prices on their Turkey Gulet Cruises for the coming summer season with savings of up to £300 per person.

Turkish Gulet Cruises offer the opportunity to take in the stunning Turkish coastline over a week period. The pace is relaxed and travellers can sunbathe on the deck while the cruise takes them to the next destination. Voyager Travel Direct offers a selection of cruises of the Dalaman coastline and also the Bodrum coastline area.

The Gulet cruise experience is great for couples, families or groups. Most of the Gulet ships have 8 cabins so the cruise is also a great option for a single traveler holiday as the cruise offers the opportunity to make new friends with other travellers. All cabins offer twin or double accommodation with en-suite facilities.

For those considering taking a Gulet Cruise holiday, it is recommended that casual clothes, plenty of swimwear, beach towels and a Turkish phrasebook are all packed. Storage space is limited so clothes and belongings should be kept to a minimum. There are no plug sockets on board the cruises so electrical items should be left at home. Hairdryers are provided on board.

Verity Eyre, General Manager of Voyager Travel Direct says: “Gulet Cruises offer an excellent and relaxing way to explore the Turkish coastline without breaking the bank. With flights, cruise and 3 meals a day included in the price, a Gulet Cruise of Turkey offers really good value and with the current pricing being so low we are finding many clients are choosing the Gulets over standard holidays to Turkey.”

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Whitbread’s £6.1 Million Investment Brings 53 Jobs To Glasgow

Premier Inn has announced that its new hotel and restaurant development in Newton Mearns near Glasgow has brought a total of 53 new jobs to the local area. The new Beefeater Grill restaurant and Premier Inn hotel opening on Greenlaw Crookfur Road, will inject a total investment of £6.2 million into the local economy.

The Castle Beefeater Grill will offer a warm, family-friendly pub restaurant environment with excellent value meal deals. The new Daytime Value Menu will feature main meals including generous portions of fish and chips, sausage and mash and chilli con carne. A personalised steak experience also allows guests to create their own unique flavour sensation, with a range of delicious flavoured butters and seasonings, including garlic and pepper, BBQ or, for an extra kick, the chilli explosion.

The adjoining Premier Inn features 60 bedrooms. Each room includes an en-suite bathroom with shower and bath; a comfortable king-size bed; remote control TV with Freeview; tea and coffee making facilities, and a spacious desk area with internet access. Visit www.premierinn.com for more information.

David Murdin, Whitbread Restaurants Marketing Director, said: “We are delighted to bring a new hotel and restaurant to Glasgow and we can’t wait to welcome our guests to The Castle Beefeater Grill and Premier Inn in February.”

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Visitors Snap Up Faro Car Hire for Portugal Rally

Leading international car rental company ArgusCarHire.com is encouraging visitors to book their car hire Faro airport early if they are looking to experience the action and excitement of this year’s Portugal rally.

Between March 27th and April 1st, the world’s top rally drivers will be descending on the Algarve to compete on its famously fast open stretches with challenging tracks. Visitors travel from far and wide with their car hire Portugal to soak up the atmosphere. The fun doesn’t end on the track. The closing party at Estádio Algarve is one of the main highlights of the six-day event and is almost as famous as the rally itself.

Commenting on this year’s Portugal rally, a spokesperson for ArgusCarHire.com said:
“Anyone planning to get in on the action should be booking their car hire Faro now. The rally attracts spectators from all over the world, so cheap car hire Faro airport deals will only really be available in advance of the rally. Early booking is definitely essential, especially if you are sticking to a budget or if there is a particular car that you need to book.”

ArgusCarHire.com is offering car hire Faro from just £4 amount this March.

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