Full Circle Travel blog

26 September 2016 11:06

New Zealand: Queenstown The Ultimate Adventure Experience

Located on Lake Wakatipu, one of the most crystal clear lakes you can ever hope to see, and situated among some jaw-dropping mountain ranges, Queenstown is a place where you can’t help but look around. However, you’ll find that most people that arrive in Queenstown and intent on being as active as possible and the area is well known for offering the ultimate adventure experience in New Zealand.

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Aerial view of Queenstown with Lake Wakatipu
No matter what time of year you visit Queenstown, there is likely to be something on offer. During the winter months, skiing is the number one activity but there are plenty of year round experiences that ensure you’ll be kept on your toes when you visit. If you are looking to bungee jump, sky dive, go jet boating or even try your hand at paragliding, Queenstown is the destination for you. It says a lot about the all action activities on offer in Queenstown that options like Horse trekking, rafting and canyoning are seen as the more sedate options.

Even if you are only looking for hiking excitement, head to Glenorchy, less than an hour from Queenstown, where you will find some of the most highly regarded hiking tracks in the entire world.

You can head off on jet boat rides all day and night

One thing that emphasises that there is no real downtime on offer in Queenstown comes with the fact that there jet boat rides departing every 15 minutes from early in the morning to very late at night. These give you a chance to view the stunning sights of the Shotover Canyons while moving at fantastic speeds. Even the bus ride out to the start of the tour is packed with adrenaline as Skippers Canyon has been dubbed New Zealand’s scariest road! The 25 minute boat road reaches great speeds and if you need a jolt to kick-start your day, this is a trip that will live long in the memory.

Of course, for many people, adventure comes at great heights and the Nevis is the ideal destination for people who want to push themselves to their limits. This is the location of the world’s biggest swing, which will see you flying through a gorge, arcing out over 300 metres. Add in the fact that there are bungee jumps 134 metres above the floor of the valley and you should experience enough heart-stopping moments for an entire lifetime.

Sky diving is a very popular activity in Queenstown
There is also skydiving on offer with the choice of diving from 9,000 feet, 12,000 feet or 15,000 feet. If you are going to take on this challenge, you really need to go for it and Queenstown isn’t a destination for the faint-hearted. When it comes to finding an adventure filled destination that will provide you with moments that push yourself to your limits and give you memories that will last a lifetime, Queenstown is easily the most adventure filled destination in New Zealand.

If you fancy taking things slightly easier at some point, why not indulge in some craft beers and great stories at the Atlas Beer Café, which is found at Streamer Wharf.

Motorhome Madness - From £1359.00 per person

Experience New Zealand’s majestic terrain with Mighty Campervans. As part of Australasia’s largest rental vehicle operator, travelling with Mighty Campervans provides you with the security & freedom to explore at your own pace without blowing your budget. Offer includes return flights with Malaysian Airlines, & 14 days hires of a 2 berth campervan in New Zealand.

The Lowball 2 Berth campervan features power steering, portable gas stove, chilly bin, sink, cooking utensils, AM/FM radio/CD, air conditioning & heating in drivers cab, internal luggage nets & roof rack. The rear of the vehicle features a bench seat which flips over to become a double bed. Shower & toilet are not provided, so we recommend overnight stays in designated campgrounds with shower & toilet facilities. Powered campervan sites are available from as little as £23 per night.

Includes:

  • Return flights to Auckland with Malaysian Airlines(Subject to availability).
  • 14 days hire of a 2 Jackpot berth manual in New Zealand.

Conditions:

  • All prices are per person twin share and are valid for Travel April/May 2017.
  • Please enquire for travel dates outside this period.
  • All arrangements shown are subject to availability at time of booking.
  • Prices are correct at time of printing and are subject to change.
  • All packages are based on single island hires.
  • Two island hires are available at additional cost.
  • Ferry between the North & South Island is not included.
Contact us on 01491 833227 to discuss this offer or to discuss any New Zealand holiday plans you may have.
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09 September 2016 07:53

Caribbean: 10 Reasons To Visit Dominican Republic

When it comes to finding a good reason to visit the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic in particular, most people are happy to cite the weather. This is a tropical climate with summer temperatures peaking around 32 °C (90 °F) with the average daily temperature coming in at 25.8 °C (78 °F). This alone will have many people packing their bags but if you are looking for more justification to head to the Caribbean, here are our top 10 reasons to visit the Dominican Republic.

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There are fantastic beaches
When you have such great weather, you want to be able to make the most of it, and this is where the miles upon miles of sandy beaches in the Dominican Republic come into their own. There is close to 1,000 miles of beaches to enjoy and you can find a huge array of pristine white sand beaches. This means not only will you be able to find a spot for a great day; your beach pictures will look fantastic on social media when you upload them. To relax, get a great tan and make folk back home jealous, the beaches of the Dominican Republic are hard to beat.

There are fantastic resorts
If you are keen to enjoy the benefits of an all-inclusive resort, the Dominican Republic is one of the best places you can go to. There are resorts that specialise in a range of activities so if your focus is on a golfing holiday, enjoying a spa, taking part in water sports or even getting married, you’ll find that there are resorts set up to provide you with everything you are looking for. There is also a range of options for all-inclusive resorts in Dominican Republic so no matter what your budget is, it is likely that there’ll be something that meets your needs.

You’ll enjoy brilliant food
For many people, a highlight of a holiday is getting to enjoy local cuisine. There are many different localised dishes to enjoy throughout the country but with staple ingredients of seafood, meat, fresh vegetables, beans and rice, there are many options on offer. Some of the most popular Dominican Republic dishes include Mangu, La Bandera and Casaba, which is a sweet cake derived from yucca.
The main influences on the local cuisine in Dominican Republic include Spanish, African and Taino influences and if you are looking for something more familiar, you’ll find plenty of Mexican, Mediterranean, Oriental and Italian dishes on offer throughout the country.

Dominican Republic can be a place for all the family
If you are looking for a resort that is suitable for all of the family, Dominican Republic has something for everyone. With so many sporting activities like Windsurfing, kayaking, surfing, surfboarding, sailing, diving and canoeing on offer, anyone that likes to be active in the water will love this destination.
There are also child-friendly activities like the zoo, the aquarium, the Botanical Gardens, the children’s park, the waterslide park, the library and there is even a trampoline museum. If you are looking for a family friendly resort, the Dominican Republic has something to entertain everyone.

You can party all night
If you are not so focused on finding activities for the kids to enjoy, the nightlife may be of more interest. There are cafes and bars that are open until the small hours of the morning and if you really want to party, make sure you visit Santo Domingo. The capital city is well worth a visit at any time of day of night but with casinos, bars, restaurants, discotheques and the sort of buzz and excitement you expect from major party towns, you can probably see why the city has been dubbed the “Caribbean New York”.

Dominican Republic loves sports
Whether you want to participate or spectate, you’ll find that the Dominican Republic offers sport for everyone. Golf is the main sport for tourists and there are 28 courses, many of which have been designed by golfing legends. The courses of the island always rate highly in lists of the best golf courses in the Caribbean and in Latin America.
You’ll also find that baseball is a hugely popular sport in Dominican Republic so if you are looking for an activity where you can sit back, relax, enjoy the sun and watch live sport, a baseball game is likely to be the ideal way to spend your day.

The National Parks are incredible

Given that over 25% of Dominican Republic is protected as a National Park, a reserve or a marine sanctuary, you’ll find that there is a great deal of natural beauty to enjoy.  The Dominican Republic is home to both the highest and the lowest point in the Caribbean, the Pico Duarte and Lago Enriquillo respectively.

There is a great sense of history

The capital city Santa Domingo is widely known to be the “First City in the Americas”, and this is the location where the New World started. The Colonial City is a fascinating place to visit and this area was classed as a World Heritage Site back in 1992. Whether you like to explore by yourself or you are looking for tours or guides to ensure you see the full story of the Dominican Republic, history buffs will love their visit.

This is a shopping paradise
Shopping is a major attraction for many people when they travel and the Dominican Republic has plenty on offer. The major cities provide open air markets and air conditioned shopping centres but there are also plenty of small and quaint destinations to snap up a bargain or two. Whether you are focusing on fashion, leather products, cosmetics, bags, jewellery, cigars or alcohol, you can spend hours enjoying the products that are on offer.

Chase waterfalls
If you are located closed to Puerto Plata, you need to take time to enjoy the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua. Whether you are just there to enjoy the sights or you want to explore the clear pools or go hiking up the rocks, this is a fantastic way to spend your day. One of the most popular activities involves hiking up The Falls and then jumping or sliding back down!


Contact us now on 01491 833227 to start planning your Dominican Republic escape.
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04 August 2016 04:48

Escape To Thailand: Off The Tourist Trail

Thailand has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in recent times and there are many reasons for this. Bangkok, as the capital city, is a hugely popular tourist destination and there are some very popular party destinations to enjoy in Thailand. Areas like Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi are highly regarded but they can be busy. If you are looking to escape to Thailand and enjoy life off the tourist trail, here are some tips for you.


Hua Hin

As the oldest beach resort location in Thailand, you would think that would be a busy attraction, but it can be a good place to escape the hustle and bustle of certain areas. At three hours south of Bangkok taking the eastern coast line, this resort is said to have been discovered by King Rama VII in the 1920s.
The biggest factor in the appeal of Hua Hin is the fact that the pace of development has been slow, which means that it offers an insight into a more natural way of life. If you want to experience a more reserved side of beach resort in Thailand, Hua Hin is a perfect choice.


Khao Sam Roi Yot 

If you are looking to relax rest or be active, the oldest marine national park in the whole of Thailand will allow you to achieve your aims. When you take on board the fact that beaches like Sam Phraya and Laem Sala offer a quiet and private style of rest and recuperation, you’ll be keen to explore this part of the country. With both beaches offering just a single restaurant, it is easy to see that these aren’t areas that have been developed with tourists in mind.
With mountain ranges, waterfalls, caves and cliffs, there are stunning views and plenty of spaces to explore in Khao Sam Roi Yo.


Koh Lanta
If you missed the experience of Koh Samui or Phuket in the early 1990s or you want to enjoy those days again, you’ll find that Koh Lanta, in the Andaman Sea is a treat. This island is very much unspoiled and while the north area of the island is more developed, you can find sanctuary in the south of the area.
Whether your focus is on beaches filled with glorious white sand, stunning sun-sets, chances to snorkel and dive or you want to enjoy some of the freshest and tastiest seafood, this is a destination that is a great treat for many tourists who are looking to enjoy a great Thai break without the masses of tourists and travellers.

Mae Hong Song
While Pai is becoming increasingly busy and hectic, its neighbour, Mae Hong is a laid back and relaxed area close to the border. This ensures that there is a wide range of culinary delights and influences, making this an essential place if you are keen to try as many sumptuous meals as you possibly can.

Other areas to consider when it comes to enjoying Thailand off the beaten track include the islands of Koh Kradan, Koh Phra Thong, Koh Mak, Koh Kood, Koh Tarutao or Koh Phayam.




For more information or to start planning your Thailand holiday, please call us on 01491 833227 or visit www.fullcircletravel.co.uk
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04 August 2016 04:28

London Theatre Guide: What's On

When it comes to making the most of free time you have in London, there is a lot to be said for enjoying a trip to the theatre. London is recognised as one of the leading destinations in the world to catch a theatre show and there is no shortage of options to choose from. While this London Theatre guide aims to provide you with an insight into what’s on in London over the next few months, make sure you look for items that may appeal to your taste and interests.

1984
1984, based on the famous book by George Orwell takes place at the Playhouse Theatre and runs through until Saturday the 29th of October 2016. The story of Winston Smith may be a familiar one for many people but this new show tells the tale in a fresh way. 1984 remains as relevant today as upon its release, and this is a show that has received great critical acclaim as well as healthy ticket sales.

A Midsummer Night's Dream
For many people, experiencing the work of Shakespeare in London is a dream come true and this play is on at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre until Sunday the 11th of September. This is another famous tale that has been brought to life, and the character of Puck remains at the heart of the enjoyment, madness, comedy and magic that people associate with this play.

American Idiot
There has been a wave of musicals based on contemporary songs and the work of contemporary artists in recent times. While varying in quality, these events are often brilliant ways of introducing people to musicals and a style of performance that they wouldn’t have experienced or considered. American idiot uses the music of Green Day, one of the leading exponents of latter-day American punk music. The show runs until Sunday the 25th of September at the Arts Theatre.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Running at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until Saturday 17th of September, this production sees Pixie Lott step into the shows of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly. This is a classic tale, written by Truman Capote, and critics have already been impressed by the strength of Lott’s performance.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Another story that so many people are familiar with, the end is now in sight for this run of the famous Roald Dahl tale. The Theatre Royal Drury Lane has been the venue for this run of Charlie Bucket and his family getting to experience the Wonka factory, and the production runs until Saturday 7th of January 2017.

Funny Girl
This show is back in the West of London for the first time since it appeared back in 1966. This means that this is the 50th anniversary of that showing and Sheridan Smith stars at the leading actress in this acclaimed production. The show takes place at the Savoy Theatre and it runs through until the 8th of October.

Guys and Dolls
For many people, the chance to see a familiar show with a new cast or a whole new setting is a major attraction and for this reason, a lot of people will hold an interest in guys and Dolls. Actress Rebel Wilson heads a strong cast although the choreography is likely to be one of the star attractions of the show. Guys and Dolls is on at the Phoenix Theatre and runs until Saturday the 7th of January, 2017.

Jersey Boys
One of the feel good hits of recent times, Jersey Boys is considered to be a modern day classic when it comes to musicals. Based on the music and story of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, the Piccadilly Theatre is the home of this show until 14th April 2017.

Other fantastic shows to look out for include:
•    Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre until March 2017
•    Les Miserables at Queen’s theatre until March 2017
•    Matilda The Musical at Cambridge Theatre until May 2017
•    Sunny Afternoon at Harold Pinter Theatre until October 2016
•    The Book of Mormon at Prince of Wales Theatre until November 2016

People looking to book ahead will find that there are a number of theatre attractions coming to London in the next few months. An example is An Inspector Calls which will be available at the Playhouse Theatre between Friday the 4th of November 2016 and Saturday the 4th of February 2017. This is a classic thriller that is once again returning to the West End, but only for a limited run.
Given that this production has been classed as the “theatrical event of its generation”, it is obvious that this will be a theatre experience not to be missed.

Other upcoming events that London theatre goers will be interested in include:
•    An American in Paris which runs from 4th March 2017 to 30 September 2017 at Dominion Theatre
•    Dreamgirls which runs from 21 November 2016 to 20 April 2017 at Savoy Theatre
•    Horrible Histories: The Best of Barmy Britain which runs from 5 August 2016 to 3 September 2016 at Apollo Theatre
•    No Man’s Land which runs from 8 September 2016 to 17 December 2016 at Wyndham Theatre
•    Rent which runs from 9 December 2016 to 28 January 2017 at St James Theatre

To book your theatre tickets or theatre break, please call us on 01491 833227 or visit www.fullcircletravel.com

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04 August 2016 04:16

Havana Cuba: Your Essential Guide

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Havana has long been a city that has bewitched and bewildered travellers. Havana is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world while Cuba remains one of the best countries to see on your travels. If you are looking to make the most of your time in Havana, Cuba, here is your essential guide.

Budget and money
One of the first things you need to learn about Havana and Cuba is the fact that there are two separate currencies, the CUC and the CUP.

•    CUC is the Cuban Convertible Peso and it is pegged to the US$
•    CUP is the Cuban National Peso and offers around 25 CUP for every US$

These are two different currencies and are used in different ways. The CUC is the currency that you will use for most of your expenditure, including your accommodation, any transport you arrange and main meals in restaurants. The CUP is for smaller purchases and is commonly associated with purchases from street vendors, local buses and markets. You’ll find that having a mixture of both currencies will make your life a lot easier.

Some people believe that the CUC is aimed at making more money from tourists but this isn’t the case and locals have to pay in both currencies in the same way that travellers do. The real difference comes with visits to museums and historical locations, where tourists are charged in CUC and local residents are charged in CUP.

Before you arrive in Havana, or Cuba, you need to make sure that you have a tourist card. It is similar in context to a visa but it is not included on your passport, it is provided on a separate piece of paper.  On arrive in Havana, the card will be stamped and you will receive half of the card back and you must present the card when you leave Cuba.

Havana Airport is a relatively short drive away from the city centre. While the average travel time between the city and airport is around 30 to 40 minutes, the journey can take anything between 20 minutes to an hour depending on the traffic on the road. Be prepared to wait for a while at immigration and security at Havana Airport.

Exploring Havana
There are three key areas to enjoy and explore in downtown Havana:
•    Havana Vieja
•    Vedado
•    Central Havana

Havana Vieja is found to the east of the city and it is a major tourist attraction. This is because there is a great selection of bars and restaurants but there are also many stylish historic buildings that have been restored to their former glory.

Vedado is found to the west of the city and is considered to be the most modern area in Havana. This plays host to the financial and business sector and is well known for its nightlife. There are many fantastic hotels in the part of Havana but there is also a lot of live music on offer and a great range of restaurants.

Central Havana lies in between the other two main points and is considered to be the base for local people. If you are looking to make the most of your time in Havana, choosing a centrally located base will ensure you are in walking distance to much of what the city has to offer.
Other areas that are worth exploring in Havana include The Malecon, which is the seafront promenade, which actually stretches out for 8km.

Dining in Cuba
While some people believe that Cuba isn’t the best country for dining, there is a range of stunning dishes on offer in the various restaurants in Havana. You may also get the chance to experience some of the most highly dishes in Havana, Cuba which are:
•    Enchilado de la Casa
•    Ropa Vieja
•    Filete de Pescado

If you are looking for affordable places to dine in Havana, restaurants like Paladar Dona Eutimia, Bar Cafeteria Lluvia de Oro or Sloppy Joe’s Bar are all sensible options.

You will also find a broad selection of food on offer from the peso shops which will help extend your budget while ensuring you have enough sustenance to make the most of your time in Havana. You’ll find sandwiches, pizza and fresh juice drinks on offer at these venues which should all be available at a very affordable price.

With more than 900 buildings in Havana being classed as being of historical importance, there is no shortage of great tourist attractions to enjoy during your time in the city. If you are looking to create a shortlist of must-see sights, be sure to include El Capitilio Building and Museo de la Revolucion, which is the Museum of the Revolution, which offers fantastic insight into the turbulent history of Cuba and Havana.

There are some stylish squares on offer in Havana, with the Plaza de Armas being the oldest square in the city while the Plaza Vieja is well worth visiting too.

If you want to enjoy the lively side of Havana, visiting the Malecon in the evening when the local residents come out is a must-see. With live music on offer, the atmosphere is crackling with excitement and should ensure you have a brilliant time. Aside from this, some of the best tips for making the most of your time in Havana involve taking a cyclo-taxi or coco-taxi, enjoying a mojito and making sure that you talk to local people about their life. Also, if you have ever tried salsa dancing, or wanted to try salsa dancing, there is no better place to enjoy yourself or learn than by salsa dancing in Havana.




For more information or to start planning your holiday to Cuba, please call us on +44 1491 833227 or visit www.fullcircletravel.co.uk

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09 December 2014 05:03

Stay in bed and go wild this Valentine’s Day



 
Couples escaping for a romantic get-away at Elmley National Nature Reserve in Kent don’t even need to get out of bed to enjoy the wilderness, thanks to Dorset shepherd’s hut maker, Plankbridge, creators of this ultimate lover’s retreat. With floor to ceiling countryside views on offer from the luxury of a king size ash-branch four-poster bed, this rustic oasis can be found just one hour from London at the UK’s only farmer owned and managed independent national nature reserve.

With all shepherd’s huts built true to their Victorian heritage, Plankbridge also took inspiration from the wildlife-rich Kent marshland when crafting this enchanting sanctuary, where the only tweeting comes from the lapwings, marsh harriers and avocets, which frequent the reserve.

Georgina Fulton of Elmley National Nature Reserve, explains: “With unspoilt views spanning more than three miles in every direction, we wanted to ensure that the shepherd’s hut could champion these idyllic countryside scenes from within, while at the same time looking as though it has always sat on the reserve. Richard and the team at Plankbridge immediately understood what we were trying to achieve and we couldn’t be happier with the result.”

Richard Lee, owner and co-founder of Plankbridge Hutmakers, adds: “This was a very exciting hut to build, it’s a really fitting space for its surroundings. The large floor to ceiling window allows plenty of light in and gives a sense of being outside but with luxurious home comforts.”

Romantic getaways in the Vanellus shepherd’s hut at Elmley National Nature Reserve start at £80 per night for two adults. For more information about Elmley National Nature Reserve please visit www.elmleynaturereserve.co.uk.

For more information about shepherd’s huts from Plankbridge Hutmakers, please call 01300 348414, email: enquiries@plankbridge.comor visit: www.plankbridge.com.
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25 June 2014 03:40

Introducing the Beaumont






The Beaumont Hotel - Grand in style yet intimate in feel

The Beaumont is the first hotel by Corbin & King, widely regarded as London's most successful restaurateurs over the past 30 years and the gentlemen behind for The Wolseley, The Delaunay and a number of other leading restaurants in the British capital.  The aim of Jeremy King and Chris Corbin is to create a truly independent and distinctive hotel based on the classic values of a golden age of bespoke hospitality.  It is for this reason that GP Associates is very excited and proud to annouce this new partnership.

Located in the heart of Mayfair, within a few minutes of Selfridges and Grosvenor Square, The Beaumont occupies a historic 1926 building, heralding a return to the pre-war elegance of Mayfair hotels.  

Opening in Autumn 2014, the hotel will be grand in style yet intimate in feel.  It will be a very personal hotel in the classic tradition, conceived and designed by the operators themselves and focused on comfort, service and hospitality.

Accommodation

With a listed Grade II Art Deco exterior, the public spaces, rooms and suites appear to have been restored to their former glory, retaining echoes from the different decades of The Beaumont’s life.  They reflect a more European Art Deco aesthetic but with distinct, occasional references to North America.

73 bedrooms and suites
The 50 stylish bedrooms range in size from 29 - 37 sqm and the 13 elegant studios range from 38 - 53 sqm.  Rates start from £395 including VAT and service.

ROOM

The Beaumont will also offer 8 Signature One Bedroom Suites sized from 61 - 91 sqm.

In addition, guests can opt to stay in the inhabitable sculpture -ROOM.  ROOM is the exclusive one bedroom 69 sqm suite designed and created by Turner Prize-winning British sculptor, Antony Gormley.  ROOM is a modular piece made of stainless steel and fumed oak and has been commissioned as a piece of public art for the hotel.

The one-bedroom Presidential Suite benefits from a large terrace and can also be opened up to encompass a further 5 bedrooms, making it ideal for a small groups.  

All rooms and suites have complimentary soft drinks and Nespresso coffee, dual-line telephones, voice messaging, personally controlled air-conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, interactive film and music on demand and a personal laptop safe.

Dining options for everyone

The Cub Room
The Cub Room is the Resident's Bar and Lounge and is purely for the use of the hotel's guests.  Open from early until late, with dark wooden panels and muted decor, the lounge has a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere.

The Colony Grill Room
A Grill Room in the Grand Hotel style, as traditionally experienced both in London and New York – classic and yet casual.  As well as Grills there will be classical dishes from both sides of the Atlantic – whether a Caesar’s salad made at your table, grouse with all the trimmings or Strawberries Romanoff.  Open seven days a week from 7am until late.

American Bar
The American Bar will be open to both hotel residents and the general public every day from 11am until late.

The Lotos Room
The Lotos Room is the hotel's boardroom and private dining room.  Located on the lower ground floor of The Beaumont, it provides privacy and exclusivity and will have a capacity of 16 guests for a board meeting or up to 48 guests for a private breakfast, lunch or dinner.  

Spa & Gymnasium

The spa at The Beaumont will benefit from a hamman with dry heat, steam and therapy rooms as well as beauty and grooming services, providing guests with all they need to relax or prepare for a glamorous evening on the town.

The gymnasium will be open 24 hours a day and will be complimentary for hotel residents only.

In addition, The Beaumont will offer a variety of services from chauffeur-driven courtesy cars, valet, laundry, pressing and dry-cleaning services, 24 hour in-room dining and a full concierge service.

For further details, please contact sales@fullcircletravel.com


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23 April 2014 03:27

Four Seasons Private Jet Experiences




The sky is literally the new limit as Four Seasons continues to reimagine luxury hospitality with the introduction of the Four Seasons Jet, the industry’s first fully branded private jet experience.

With Four Seasons on the fuselage and the iconic Four Seasons logo on the tail, the completely retrofitted Boeing 757 will feature interiors and exterior design customized by the company’s team of design experts, setting the stage for a travel experience like no other. Beginning in February 2015, the Four Seasons Jet will transport 52 guests on bespoke journeys, offering discerning travellers a distinctly Four Seasons travel experience from the moment they book their trip.

“Taking our legendary service to the skies is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing in our hotels for more than 50 years,” says Susan Helstab, Executive Vice President Marketing, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “The Four Seasons Jet showcases the unforgettable people and experiences that make Four Seasons unique. It speaks to our pioneering spirit and the aspirations of today’s modern luxury traveller in an imaginative new way.”

Guests can look forward to individually handcrafted leather flatbed seats, globally inspired cuisine and signature Four Seasons service – on board and on the ground. Reservations aboard the new Four Seasons Jet are currently open for the following trips:


Around the World - Feb 2015

Let the people, places and rich traditions unique to these nine destinations—from fire dancers in Bora Bora to architectural wonders in India and Australia—guide you along this transcendent, 24-day journey.

February 9-March 4, 2015


Backstage with the Arts

Immerse yourself in the art, music, culture and history of Europe’s most celebrated cities, enjoying exclusive performances, behind-the-scenes tours of landmark attractions and museums, and sensational dining throughout the 16-day journey.

April 20-May 5, 2015


Around the World - August 2015

Enjoy an array of epic experiences on this 24-day global expedition. Go on safari through the Serengeti, dive with a marine biologist in the Maldives and learn to make sushi in Tokyo.

August 16-September 8, 2015


Contact us here for further details and prices.
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22 January 2014 07:30

Online fraud - look before you leap


January is the tradtional peak booking season in the travel industry and there are some amazing deals to be had but please be careful and look before you leap.  If online is your preferred method of booking holidays and travel, please be wary and make sure you are 100% certain of what you are booking, who you are booking with and if your money is safe.

In recent years there has been a signifcant increase in online fraud within the travel sector with villa, apartment and chalet rental being specifically targeted.  There have been many incidences of false listing appearing, sometimes on reputable sites, where the scammers have copied images of real properties and advertise them never intending to provide you with the acccommodation.

There are a few steps you can take to try and minimise the risk:
  • Thorough research on the property and company marketing it.
  • Ideally look for membership of an approved trade body such as ABTA, TTA or AITO.
  • If you have seen it elsewhere for more money, be wary.
  • Ask for phone numbers and speak to someone, ask questions, ask for recent pictures - just ask.  Genuine owners and agents will not (or at least should not) have a problem answering your queries.
  • Be very wary of direct bank transfers as there is may be no cover for this whereas there may be by using a credit card.
  • If it seems to good to be true, it almost certainly is.
  • Also bear in mind that if booking directly with owners, these properties are unlikely to have been checked by health and safety and this brings into question responsibility if there is an accident or the holiday is not as advertised.
  • Ask about financial protection, ask for receipts and confirmations.
  • Ask your insurers what they cover and what they don't.
Don't get me wrong, there are gems to be found and the vast majority of people are honest but just pause before booking, no matter how good the offer.  More information can be found on the ABTA website.(UK)

If you are booking a deal through an agent or a deal site, which there are now many of, you are entitled to know who the operator is.  Certain deal sites purport to be luxury but if you dig deeper you may be surprised by who actually operates the holiday, possibly companies you would not choose to book with directly.   If the package includes flights, it must now be protected by ATOL - ask for the ATOL number of the operator and check it at the CAA website. (UK)

Holiday time is precious, spend yours wisely.

Niall Douglas
Managing Director
Full Circle Travel
22 January 2014

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16 January 2014 06:22

The Golden Hour for Castello di Casole


For those unfamiliar with the historic gem that is Hotel Castello di Casole, the hotel is located in the heart of Tuscany with 41 luxurious suites, set in a breathtakingly restored tenth century castle, on a 4200 acre estate.  With daily flights to Florence airport, Hotel Castello di Casole is a 60 minute transfer and Siena is just 20 minutes away.

This beautiful hotel has been ranked one of the world’s best properties by Condé Nast Traveler in the 2014 Gold List.  Condé Nast Traveler released their annual roundup of the world’s very best hotels in this month's magazine and, to celebrate, Hotel Castello di Casole have a number of wonderful offers for you. 



The best packages at the best hotel

From the ultimate couple’s retreat with candlelit dinners and spa treatments to the secrets of Tuscan cuisine and wines and fun in the sun for all the family. 

Romantic Escapade
  • Four nights in a suite of your choice
  • Romantic dinner for two (alcohol not included)
  • Couples 80 minute relaxation massage treatment followed by herbal teas and fresh fruit
  • Gourmet picnic basket with wine to enjoy in the vineyards
  • Welcome drink on arrival and a bottle of estate wine
  • Daily breakfast

Package price starts from €441 per night double occupancy
Minimum stay of 4 nights. Valid from 17 March -  31 October 2014. Nightly rates vary based on chosen suite and dates.

Spa & Sport
  • Three nights in a suite of your choice
  • Private 60 minute yoga or Pilates class for two
  • 50 minute Essere relaxation massage for two
  • Manicure or pedicure
  • Three hour guided biking tour
  • Welcome drink on arrival and a bottle of estate wine
  • Daily breakfast

Package price starts from €534 per night double occupancy
Minimum stay of 3 nights. Valid from 17 March -  31 October 2014. Nightly rates vary based on chosen suite and dates.


Family Fun
  • Three nights in a suite of your choice
  • Pizza demonstration with the family and pizza party
  • Gelato tasting for kids
  • Choice of either painting class, two hour babysitting service or two hour animal watching with gamekeeper
  • Welcome drink on arrival and a bottle of estate wine
  • Daily breakfast
  • Additional bed for children

Package price starts from €432 per night double occupancy and additional connecting room with up to 50% discount on published rate
Minimum stay of 3 nights. Valid from 17 March -  31 October 2014. Nightly rates vary based on chosen suite and dates.

Divine culinary flavours
  • Four nights in a suite of your choice
  • Pasta or pizza demonstration and meal (alcohol not included)
  • Chef’s tasting menu dinner for two at Ristorante Tosca included wines selected by the sommelier
  • Wine tasting and a tour to Tuscan vineyards
  • Welcome drink on arrival and a bottle of estate wine
  • Daily breakfast

Package price starts from €522 per night double occupancy
Minimum stay of 4 nights. Valid from 17 March -  31 October 2014. Nightly rates vary based on chosen suite and dates.

In addition to these wonderful packages, Castello di Casole are also offering some “Book By” specials.  Please ask for details when enquiring.


For Information

For more information on Castello di Casole, please contact Full Circle Travel on 0044 1491 833227 or email holiday@fullcircletravel.com 



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07 January 2014 03:58

Club Med partners with Olympic skier Graham Bell




Club Med, experts in premium, all-inclusive family holidays, has partnered with former

Olympic skier and BBC presenter ofSki Sunday, Graham Bell.


Presenter of the new channel four program ‘Jump has been working closely with the all- inclusive holiday provider to promote the benefits of family skiing.

Laurent De Chorivit from Club Med comments We’re delighted to be working with former Olympic skier and BBC presenter Graham Bell for our winter 13/14 season. Graham has worked closely with the GOs in our Val D’Isere resort to ensure families are ready and in shape for their 2014 ski holiday.

Graham Bell says “Skiing as a family and taking the little ones for the first time can be a daunting experience as there are so many things to consider. Together with Club Med I’ve pulled together some advice to help holiday makers decide on a resort that works for all the family”

Club Med has over 26 winter ski resorts in destinations such as Val d’Isere, L’Alpe dHuez and La Plagne.

Graham Bell’s Top Five Family Ski Resorts:


1: Cervinia, Italy
This makes for great skiing for all the family. It’s a medium sized resort with a mix of runs to suit all abilities. For the more adventurous family members, there is also the opportunity to ski over the border in Switzerland.
Club Med’s 4T resort in Cervinia offers a perfect ski in offering.


2: Serre Chevalier, France
“One of the best resorts for family skiing, with the big, varied mountain offering something for all the Family.
Club Med has a 3T chalet-style resort accommodation here.

3: Ellmau, - Skiwelt Austria
This quiet charming resort has everything that families need, with a large number of nursery runs and easy runs for intermediate skiers. Expert skiers can venture off into the SkiWelt circuit the largest linked area in Austria. It is good value for money too with four well respected ski schools”

4: La Plagne, Paradiski France Lots of great intermediate runs and good nursery slopes, with plenty to challenge the expert skier too. The Vanoise Express cable car linking to Les Arc opens up a whole new area to the more adventurous skiers” Club Med has a 4T resort here.

5: Pila Valley dAosta Italy “A great medium sized resort that most skiers should be able to navigate within a week, snow sure yet with a sunny aspect and great views across the valley to the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc
View full blog post >
19 December 2013 05:38

Home from home in the bush....

Small World Marketing are delighted to announce their partnership with The Enasoit Collection in Kenya.

Consisting of a private game sanctuary, a helicopter and Tusitiri a lovingly restored dhow; The Enasoit Collection is available on an exclusive hire basis and provides the ultimate solution for a family or group wanting complete privacy to celebrate a special occasion.



Introducing The Enasoit Collection





Why The Enasoit Collection?  
The Enasoit story was born from one Scandinavian family’s love for Africa.  After 30 years of exploring Africa’s wild, un-spoilt expanses and developing conservation projects, the family has created a unique and enchanting Kenyan lifestyle:  a private game sanctuary in the foothills of Mount Kenya, a restored dhow sailing the Lamu archipelago, and a helicopter revealing Africa’s most remote secrets.

Whats so special about the area? 
Enasoit is a 4500 acre private wildlife reserve on the world-famous Laikipia plateau, at the foot of Mount Kenya.  Set within a natural wildlife corridor, Enasoit provides a haven for game-watching, in ultimate safari comfort.
The mess tent at Enasoit is situated directly in front of a salt-lick which is subtly spotlit in the evenings, so guests can observe the likes of elephant, buffalo, giraffe and zebra coming to water during cocktail hour. The reserve is also home to lion and cheetah, wonderful birdlife and beautiful scenery.
Enasoit’s own modern Eurocopter is on hand to whisk guests away to some of the most special, secluded parts of Kenya and can design trips to suit their interests.


Accommodation at Enasoit




Accommodation: 
As a much loved family holiday home, Enasoit Camp is uniquely welcoming.  The six double and twin bedroom tents are cleverly constructed from canvas thatch and permanent materials.  Each en-suite tent has a fireplace, a private veranda and a comfortable seating area for morning tea and game viewing.
Each tent is located approximately 30 metres from each other and has a lounge area with a large, roaring fire for the cooler evenings.  
The tents can be configured as triples if necessary, with a maximum of 12 adults and 4 children advised.  A homely mess tent with a collection of old hunting and African exploration books and a cosy fireplace is where guests meet up for cocktails and meals. 
There are also two additional thatched cottages next to the pool house which is a 5 minute drive away from the tented area.  This is perfect if certain members of the group are looking for a little more privacy or space away from the rest of the guests. 
Location:   Enasoit Ranch is located 40 miles north of Mt Kenya.  It is on the foot of the Lolldaiga Hills at an altitude of 6,000ft (1900 metres), which means it is relatively free of malaria. (guests are encouraged to seek own medical advice)
Access: Enasoit is only 1.5 hour drive from Nanyuki airstrip which has several daily flights from Nairobi and the Mara.  It also has its own airstrip, 5 minutes from camp that is accessible by Cessna Caravan aircraft with a maximum of 9 adults with light luggage.
Enasoit prices
Price:   Regular season -  $3900 for groups of 6 pax & under.  For additional people = $650 per adult & $485 child
High season -  $4290 for groups of 6 pax & under.  For additional people = $715 per adult & $536 child in addition



Activities at Enasoit




Activities:
Time spent at Enasoit is completely flexible.  Guests can do as much or as little as they like.  There are endless activities available….here are just a few suggestions:

1. Guided game walks & drives through the reserve
2. Horse riding
3. Track Enasoit’s resident lions
4. Enjoy a massage with grazing wildlife as the backdrop
5. Charter Enasoit’s helicopter to explore remote & scenic areas of northern Kenya


The Enasoit dhow, Tusitiri




The Enasoit Dhow, Tusitiri, has been carefully restored and is today a majestic and comfortable vessel.  Tusitiri offers guests an unusual and enchanting combination of simplicity and indulgence, customized for Western guests while remaining traditional in design. Nights are spent on white linen bedrolls under the stars and meals, usual fresh seafood and local produce, are taken al fresco on the deck.


Helicopter safari




Enasoit’s own modern Eurocopter is on hand to whisk guests away to some of the most special, secluded parts of Kenya and trips can be especially designed to suit the guests own interests.  Whether it is trout fishing on Mount Kenya, soaring over the Laikipia plateau or visiting nomadic tribes around the shores of Lake Turkana, our British Army trained pilot, Captain Chris Stewart, knows his way around Northern Kenya's best kept secrets. The helicopter can be booked throught the Enasoit reservations team.

For more information or to book, please call Full Circle Travel on +44 1491 833227 or email holiday@fullcircletravel.com

 
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13 December 2013 07:37

CELEBRATE NEW YEAR’S EVE TWICE IN ONE NIGHT – BY PRIVATE JET



PrivateFly.com offers the ultimate double New Year’s Eve experience for jet set revellers-

Can't get enough of New Year's Eve? For those looking for the ultimate way to see in 2014 – twice - private jet booking service PrivateFly.com is offering a private jet itinerary which allows revellers to experience an evening of celebrations at the stroke of midnight, in both Sydney and Los Angeles.

With the world rotating at 1,038 miles per hour, no civilian aircraft can currently overtake time. So experiencing the change from 2013 to 2014 twice is only possible by moving backwards across the International Date Line.

Carol Cork, marketing director of PrivateFly.com comments:
“This is the ultimate way to see in 2014, in two of the world's most exciting party cities. Los Angeles is 19 hours behind Sydney - just over 13 hours away in a long range private jet. So you can gain six hours of party time by flying eastwards. This is only possible by private jet, as the timings are so tight – and there are no airline schedules to fit the itinerary.

“Supersonic private jets are currently at concept stage, and expected to be in operation by 2021. So watch this space for even more exciting, multiple New Year itineraries coming in the next few years!

“Here’s our suggested itinerary for 2014..."

- 8.00pm, 31st December 2013, Sydney: Get the party started Spend your evening in Sydney, celebrating at the city's most exclusive party spots. You could join other VIP partygoers at the NYE Party At The House - an exclusive party at the Sydney Opera House. Or for a more intimate celebration dinner, with a fabulous view of the fireworks, The Dining Room at the Park Hyatt Sydney has sweeping harbour views.

You can party until past 1.00am on New Year's Day, as it's just a short 12km drive from the harbour to Sydney Kingsford Smith airport, offering 24-hour access for private jets.

- 2.00am, 1st January 2014, Sydney: Depart in your Gulfstream G550

Your Gulfstream G550 long range jet will be waiting, ready for a 2.00am departure and can take off just minutes after you arrive at the airport.

The G550 is the long range party aircraft of choice, offering a winning combination of a luxury VIP interior seating 15, a range of 6,750nm and a top speed of 500 knots. The flight time from Sydney to Los Angeles is 13 hours and 15 minutes.

During the flight, dedicated party animals can continue the celebrations VIP style with high-spec systems for music and video entertainment, fine wines, champagne and bespoke catering. Or if you'd rather recharge your party batteries in complete comfort during the flight, there’s the option of a private double bedroom and ensuite bathroom, with further seats that fully recline in the spacious, luxury cabin.

Cost: From £9,157 per person (Full aircraft charter cost £137,355, based on
15 passengers).

- 8.15pm, 31st December 2013, Los Angeles: Party all over again. While other partygoers are waking to a New Year and sore heads back in Sydney, the night is still young in LA. You'll land - refreshed and ready to start all over again - at Van Nuys, LA's exclusive private jet airport.

Just a short drive away are the most exclusive nightspots of Beverley Hills.
Cleopatra’s Ball attracts some of Hollywood's hottest partygoers to the Egyptian Theater. Or dine at one of LA's most exclusive restaurants, such as Crustacean, renowned for its South East Asian cuisine and floor-to-ceiling aquarium.


PrivateFly is the leading global booking platform for private jet charter, making it faster, easier and more cost-effective to compare and book private jets. With over 7000 aircraft integrated worldwide, PrivateFly combines innovative technology with a VIP multilingual operations team, available 24 hours.

For further information please contact (please mention Full Circle Travel):
Viv Diprose, PrivateFly
T: +44 (0)7931 624864
 

View full blog post >
30 September 2013 06:06

Club Med looks to recruit 1,600 for winter season

A worldwide recruitment drive has been launched for 1,600 staff to work at Club Med during the forthcoming winter season.

The all-inclusive operator employs more than 13,500 G.Os (Gentil Organisateur) across 100 professions and is now seeking extra recruits.

Most of the jobs available this winter are located in the ski resorts of France, Switzerland and Italy.
Club Med is looking for English speakers to respond to the growing number of Britons heading to its resorts and demand from holidaymakers to speak their mother tongue.

Graduates with professional experience will have the chance to further develop their skills working as a G.O.

Less-qualified candidates will be able to develop skills on Club Med’s apprenticeship scheme, which requires little to no previous professional experience.

UK candidates will be invited to attend the Club Med career fair in London on October 18-20.

UK managing director Laurent De Chorivit said: “Along with providing unforgettable holidays for our customers, we are also dedicated to helping youth access to employment. As long as candidates have strong communication skills and show enthusiasm we may well have a G.O. position for them.
“We know it’s not an easy time for graduates to find work or even gain experience and that’s why we’re on the hunt for individuals who show the potential to develop talents over their time with us – we’re not expecting the finished product.”

By Phil Davies, Travel Weekly
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13 September 2013 06:31

Try a Hog in Mauritius


MRU Harley DavidsonOne&Only Le Saint Géran in Mauritius has teamed up with Harley-Davidson to offer residents the opportunity to explore the island by motorcycle.

“The intention is to put Mauritius on the map as a great biking destination,” said Paul Wren, Dealer-Manager for Harley-Davidson in Mauritius, which is the focus of the local HOG (Harley Owners Group).

The bikes can be rented on a full-day or half-day basis and Harley-Davidson also offers guided tours for groups of up to five. Prospective clients will need to be in possession of a current international driver’s licence for motorcycles over 50cc.
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13 September 2013 06:34

The Race to the end of the month has started!



REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES TO INCREASE FARES FROM 1 OCTOBER 2013


Southampton, 13 September 2013 – The countdown to the end of the month has begun as Regent Seven Seas Cruisesannounces their fares will increase on most 2013/14 sailings from 1 October 2013.

With just over two weeks to go before the fares increase, the line is encouraging anyone considering a Regent cruise to book now.  By doing so, they will benefit from the lower fares as well as beating the rush and securing the suite/deck they would like.

Regent is also adding more value for guests choosing to book during National Cruise Week, which also takes place before the end of the month. Each guest who books any Regent cruise between 21-29 September will receive a set of fine leather luggage tags (worth £35 RRP), made by Aspinal of London, purveyors of handmade, fine luxury leather goods. To claim their gift, guests should email marketing@rssc.co.ukwith their name, address and booking reference.



As the most inclusive, ultra-luxury cruise line in the world, Regent’s fares embody considerable value.  Fares include:

·         return flights and transfers

·         a 1-night pre-cruise hotel package on ALL 2013 sailings

·         FREE and UNLIMITED shore excursions

·         FREE Business Class upgrades on ALL Mediterranean and Baltic cruises (C-MS suites)

·         ALL fine and speciality dining, beverages, gratuities and much, much more

To take advantage of these lower fares by 30 September, please call us on 01491 833227 or email cruise@fullcircletravel.com.
View full blog post >
11 September 2013 07:18

Holiday Rental Fraud


INCREASING HOLIDAY RENTAL FRAUD HIGHLIGHTS VALUE OF REPUTABLE AGENCIES, SAYS SITGES HILLS VILLAS
Holidaymakers heading to some of the most beautiful areas in Europe are warned to be wary when booking their holiday accommodation through individual owners on popular rental portals as it is revealed that criminals are hacking into their email accounts and taking fraudulent bookings.

September 11th, 2013 - Multi-million pound holiday rental scams are on the increase, with more than 1,000 scams uncovered in 2012 alone, and those heading to areas around Spain, Italy and Portugal are advised to book their accommodation through reputable rental agencies to ensure they won't fall prey to this type of criminal activity.

Alison Scriven, Director of Sitges Hills Villas, a leading provider of holiday rentals in the Sitges area of Spain, says, "We would strongly advise anyone looking to book holiday accommodation through individual owners to be very vigilant as they are much more susceptible to email hacking and other types of online fraud. Reputable rental agencies are much better positioned to combat 'phishing' and other fraudulent online activity and so your hard-earned holiday will be much safer."

Scriven continues, "At Sitges Hills Villas we utilise several different channels of communication, including social media platforms and fixed business phone lines, and so our customers can easily verify that their reservation and payment are secure."

This holiday season, Sitges Hills Villas received no less than fifteen enquiries from people who had been victims of these crimes and were desperately looking for alternative accommodation to save their holiday. Unfortunately, in most cases the company were unable to help as their property portfolio was fully booked for the season.

Alison Scriven says, "When holidaymakers book directly with the owner they presume their money is safe, but often the first time they realise they have been conned is when they arrive at the property for their holiday only to find it already occupied and the owner having no knowledge of their booking."

The rapidly increasing number of villa rental sites popping up with properties around the Mediterranean and within the southern European countries is said to have made these consumers a bigger common target for sophisticated fraudsters, who can hack insecure websites or email accounts easily.

As well as the obvious financial loss that many holidaymakers must endure as a result of what's happened, there is also the heartbreak that they must face upon realising that they will not be enjoying the holiday the family had been looking forward to for so long. Their flights are pointless without the accommodation to go with them, and many families simply end up cancelling their getaways entirely as a result of the fraud.

The advice from police and holiday fraud experts is to use a reputable rental agency if possible, but if you do decide to book directly through an owner then take every precaution possible to ensure that you are dealing with the right person before making a payment.

About Sitges Hills Villas

Sitges Hills Villas is a leading independent specialist in holiday villa rentals in and around the popular resort of Sitges, near Barcelona in Spain.

The website can be viewed at www.sitgeshillsvillas.com. The company also has pages on FacebookTwitter and Google +.


View full blog post >
02 August 2013 05:15

HAVE AN ICE TIME IN GREENLAND THIS AUGUST




While Londoners have been sweltering in parks and cafes during this balmy midsummer weather, Greenlanders have been making use of their land’s naturally chilled water to cool-off, as illustrated in a series of seriously cool images recently released on Visit Greenland’s website.

The shots show Greenlanders posing waist-deep in water in front of icebergs, diving into half-frozen lakes wearing nothing other than swimming trunks and paddling in turquoise waters, fringed by jagged peaks and rolling fields.

The images have been released to inspire Brits to push the boundaries when it comes to their choice of holiday destination. As the planet’s largest (non-continental) island with vast swaths of breathtaking wilderness, towering icebergs and vast fjords, Greenland offers the perfect location where to cool down this August. 

Super-hardy thrill-seekers can get their kicks by taking the plunge in some of the world’s most remote waters (and for those who aren’t such a fan of being immersed in chilly water, it’s a land of hot springs too): 

Surrounded by mountain peaks and drifting icebergs, the uninhabited island of Uunartoq in southern Greenland – close to the settlement of Alluuitsup Paa, is home to the only place where hot springs are warm enough to take a dip. With three naturally heated springs running together into a stone pool, visitors to this natural phenomenon can float in waters as warm as 38 degrees centigrade, whilst soaking-up the stunning vistas of nearby icebergs. 

Further north lies the town of Ilulissat (which translates as Iceberg) -Greenland’s most popular tourist spot, situated at the mouth of a 40km ice fijord filled with enormous icebergs calved from the ocean, reaching Sermeq Kujalleq glacier, the biggest glacier and ice stream outside Antartica (and now also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site). Here, travellers are often spotted taking boat trips throughout the summer months and swimming out among the ice flows. With water temperatures reaching a maximum of five degrees centigrade, if this doesn’t prove enough to put hairs on your chest, then the shot of schnapps waiting for you once you return to the boat, certainly will! 

Whilst in the far south, the southern shore of Greenland - nicknamed the ‘Banana Coast’ by locals, due to its easy accessibility and green landscape in summer, is another area not to miss. Lying on the same latitude as the Shetland Islands, the towns of Narsaq and Qaqortoq are the main jumping-off points from where to take a dip in the crystal clear Arctic waters. This verdant shore is characterised by myriad of fjords and mountains, flowering plants and sheep farms side by side with floating icebergs and glaciers.
Greenland, the planet’s largest (non-continental) island, and one of the most sparsely populated, consists of vast swaths of breathtaking wilderness mixed with a glacial coverage of around 84% of the island’s landmass. With an ever growing number of trips being offered by adventure and cruise ship operators over the last year, the island has been witnessing a significant increase in tourist arrivals to its remote shores. 

For further information on Visit Greenland, visit www.greenland.com.
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21 June 2013 05:09

Dubai - a city with a vision

I recently attended the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) overseas conference in Dubai.  Having not visited for 11 years, it was simply jaw dropping to see what has been developed, and continues to be developed there.

Last year, Dubai welcomed 10 million visitors, the UK being the third largest market.  By 2020 their vision is to double that figure to 20 million.  Will they do it?  I have no doubt that they will, or at least will get incredibly close.

Dubai is not for everyone and numerous times over the weekend, I heard the city being referred to as a 'marmite' destination.  I do have to agree with that sentiment and personally would not consider a visit in the hot summer months, especially with children.  Dubai really does have something for everyone though.  Yes, there is building work going on and I can only see that increasing again if their vision is to be realised.  Nowhere is the concept of bigger and better more evident, this is amplified by neighbour Abu Dhabi now expanding rapidly; a tit for tat process begins.

If you are looking for luxury hotels, impeccable service, incredible food and a buzzing, vibrant, welcoming and above all safe destination, then Dubai should be on your radar.  Attractions and activities to keep kids entertained are practically limitless.

The Emirates airline tie in with Qantas makes Dubai the perfect stopover enroute to Australia but the Emirates network must be the most extensive in the world so can feature in almost any itinerary.  Do consider it for a long weekend or extended stay.  It may not be for everyone, but it might just surprise you!

21 June 2013
Niall Douglas
Managing Director
View full blog post >
15 March 2013 04:21

From the desk of Graham Sadler, MD Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

With the horsemeat scandal seeming to run on like my tip on last year's Grand National, it has given cause to question our perception of value and labelling.  Sometimes, what you think you are receiving and the reality of what you actually receive, isn't necessarily what you were led to believe you would receive!

As consumers, we're always asking for more, but cheaper.  We asked for cheaper food. The supermarkets told the manufacturers to find a cheaper way of producing food. Yet somewhere we've been misled along the way.  It's easy to shave a penny off here, a pound there, but inevitably there are consequences. Yet we tend to ignore these as we wallow in our belief we got a bargain.

What is cheap? What is value? What is luxury? And can you have it all?

The reality is NO, you can't.  It's just possible to have 'cheap and value' and definitely 'luxury and value' but you simply can't have 'luxury and cheap'. It just doesn't exist and personally, I don't believe it ever has or ever will.  A few years ago you could buy lovely cheap houses in Dunwich, Suffolk, they have all now slipped into the North Sea. Remember those cheap Lancia's that rusted within a year?

The definition of cheap is 'of very poor quality, relatively low in price or to charge low prices'.

If we want something genuine and special then we have to pay for it. Anything less and we can expect it to be a watered-down version, mixed with inferior ingredients, alien to what we expected and thought we paid for.

The old adage 'you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear' is hundreds of years old. The concept is nothing new. Yet we still expect to buy a Mercedes for the price of a Fiat! We've all looked to seek out that hidden bargain without even thinking 'why is it a bargain'?  There's nothing wrong in that, but just because something is cheap, doesn't necessarily make it a bargain.

So what should we look for?  The key here is VALUE. This is what it's all about.  VALUE is the holy grail of buying anything. Nobody wants to pay more than something is worth. The result is a feeling of exploitation and being conned. No matter what the budget is, the overriding concern should be  whether the price is reliable and whether you understand exactly what you will receive for your money and does it represent good value for money?

The definition of value is 'the quality that renders something desirable or valuable'.

If you want something luxurious that gives you a special feeling that only something truly luxurious can, then the reality is you pay the appropriate price.
View full blog post >
13 March 2013 02:51

The Strand NYC creates created all-inclusive Style Confidential Personal Styling package




--Package features two-hour personal styling session, deluxe accommodations, complimentary Lord & Taylor gift card, breakfast cocktails and late checkout –

NEW YORK, NY – In keeping with its philosophy of delivering a stylish and value-added hospitality experience, The Strand Hotel NYChas created all-inclusive Style Confidential Personal Styling package.  The package features deluxe accommodations for two (one night), complimentary breakfast at Strand Bistro, two-hour personal style shopping experience with Valerie Halfon, cocktails at the popular Top of the Strand rooftop lounge, late check-out and complimentary gift card to nearby Lord & Taylor department store. The price of the all-inclusive package is just $499.00 per room for one night. A second person can receive styling at an additional cost of $150.00.  Popular personal stylist, Valerie Halfon of SHOP WITH VAL provides wardrobe consultation and styling and will accompany guests to select wardrobe suited to their lifestyles.  Valerie’s vast retail connections in the heart of the fashion district and beyond enable her to secure the best deals for clients.  The offer is valid January 1, 2013 through August 31, 2013, based on double occupancy, exclusive of tax and gratuities and cannot be combined without offers. 

Style Confidential, Personal Styling Package –$499 per room
·         Accommodations for two, one night in a Deluxe King Room
·         Two-hour personal wardrobe styling and shopping experience with Valerie Halfon (one session per package)
·         Lord & Taylor Gift card valued at $50.00 with 10% L&T savings card (one per room)
·         Americano Breakfast for 2 in the Strand Bistro Restaurant
·         Two complimentary specialty cocktails at Top of the Strand rooftop lounge or Strand Bistro
·         2:00 p.m. late check-out
*Additional person can receive styling at an additional cost of $150.00 for two hours.
Package price based on single or double occupancy; any additional guests will incur additional charges.  Excludes tax and gratuity.  Advanced reservations are required.  Rate is non-transferable.  Offer not available for groups or in combination with any other offer.  Two-week cancellation is required.  Time of personal wardrobe styling must be reserved at time of booking.  Additional charges if a longer or more specialized package is requested.
*  * * *

Located in the heart of New York’s fashion district on West 37th Street off 5th Avenue, The Strand Bistro Restaurant in the Strand Hotel NYC is a favorite haunt in the fashion district.  New York Fashion Week is among the busiest periods for both the hotel and restaurant.  Since its opening nearly three years ago the Strand Hotel NYC and restaurant Strand Bistro have hosted Fashion Week events.  The Strand Bistro is a 115-seat venue with a signature alabaster bar and lounge featuring classic American cuisine.  The restaurant features original artwork and fashion photographs throughout; including a stunning backdrop in the main dining room is a 6 x 28 foot masterpiece entitled Hemaspora by San Francisco-based artist Rex Ray. 
              
Top of the Strand rooftop bar and lounge is a hip urban retreat; Manhattan meets Nikki Beach, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.  An intimate glass-enclosed bar lounge designed by Sex and the City”, “Devil Wears Prada” set designer, Lydia Marks, Top of the Strand features unobstructed views of historic New York City buildings, landmarks including the Empire State Building.  Live entertainment is featured weekly along with an extensive selection of custom drinks. 
              
Opened in 2009 as New York’s first fashion hotel, The Strand Hotel is considered an homage to the iconic fashion figures, décor and style that defined a generation and an industry.       Throughout the hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms are black and white vintage prints from the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair, taken by photographers Clifford Collin, Richard Rutledge, Eduard Steichen, John Rawlings, Toni Frissel and Lusha Nelson and others. The fashion theme is continued through the guestrooms, each capturing the glamour and elegance of Old Hollywood with Bogart-style furnishings, art-deco style boudoir chairs, decadent color schemes, luxurious baths outfitted in imported slate and marble; high-end bedding and linens, and plush bathrobes and slippers.  The piece de resistance is the New York City views from all 176 guestrooms; views of true New York City-scapes including legendary water towers and the Empire State building.  

For more information, please conatct us on 01491 833227.
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12 March 2013 05:22

Pay or do the washing up!?



The Wood Norton, a new luxury hotel in Worcestershire, surprised some of its Mother’s Day diners yesterday as they presented the Dad’s with their lunch bill and a pair of washing up gloves.

The Dad’s could either pay for the meal as normal or not pay and do a 30 minute washing up shift in the kitchen, whilst mum and the children enjoyed their after lunch coffee in the bar and lounge areas.

Oliver Cooke, general manager of The Wood Norton, said: “We thought we’d have a bit of fun really. The whole concept of Mother’s Day is to give mum a well deserved day off, and do all the house chores, cook the lunch etc etc. So by Dad taking the family out for a meal, although a lovely treat, is slightly cheating, as they’re getting out of doing some actual work!”

The restaurant was full for the Mother’s Day Sunday lunch, seating 74, with two Dad’s opting to put on the washing up gloves and stepping into the kitchen to tackle the mass of dirty plates.

After lunch children were also asked to each plant a rose in the new gardens, and write a message for their mum, which then sat next to each rose.

Oliver added: “Over the last year we’ve spent a lot of time and money on the new gardens, and thought it would be a nice idea for the children to write a personal message for their mum and plant their own roses, which will blossom with the rest of the garden flowers over the coming months.”

The hotel, now under new ownership, spent £4million last year on a huge 6-month refurbishment project, and officially re-opened on the 29th November 2012. A big focus of the project was restoring the gardens and in particular the historic restaurant within the main hall. 

Oliver said: “The restaurant looks absolutely fantastic, and makes for a great dining experience, especially as it looks out onto the gardens. It was good fun yesterday, I’m just worried now what the Dad’s will want to do as payback when it’s Father’s Day!”

The hotel restaurant is open all days of the week, for both lunch and dinner. For further information please call Katie Butterworth on 01386 765611 or email sales@thewoodnorton.comOtherwise visit www.thewoodnorton.com

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29 November 2012 03:10

Malta, an island for everyone

Always popular, Malta appeals to a wide range of holidaymakers, from younger people (the MTV Malta Festival anybody?) to holidaymakers in search of a city break , families on their annual holiday, and the more mature traveller looking for a longer stay. Twin centre holidays between Malta and neighbouring island Gozo are proving increasingly popular. The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters and 98% of Malta’s bathing waters are of an excellent quality.*
There’s a great choice of flights from the major UK airports as well as the regional ones. With Air Malta, easyJet, Ryanair and Bmibaby offering direct flights from a total of 17 airports.
Once you are there the whole of the island’s historical and cultural delights are extremely accessible and well worth exploring. Malta’s capital, Valletta, is one of the finest Baroque cities in Europe and has recently been named as European Capital of Culture for 2018.   
 
 

And from rock-climbing, diving, golf, walking and cycling during the day to relaxing spa treatments and fine dining, Malta has something for every type of visitor. When it comes to a short-haul destination with the family factor, Malta hits the spot every time with The Popeye Village, Mediterraneo Water Park and many military re-enactments in period costume. The annual MTV festival has played a big role in raising the profile of the island as a destination that many young people would not have considered. And for even more diversity check out the Classic Car Grand Prix and the International Firework Festival.
Our partner, Classic Collection Holidays feature a superb choice of Malta’s finest luxury hotels and offers departures from any airport serving Malta with any airline for any duration. To make sure that their luxury holidays remain affordable all are price-match protected.

For further information please call us now free on 0800 048 8772 (or local rate 01491 833227) or email holiday@fullcircletravel.com


*Figure obtained from the European Union Bathing Water Report, giving Malta the second best bathing waters in the European Union
 
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07 November 2012 01:17

Spotlight on Puerto Rico




You might think you know the caribbean... think again.

Puerto Rico offers so much more than sun and beach and is the current must-visit Caribbean destination for the rich and famous... a place that combines laid back culture with Spanish heart and American style. Located in the heart of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is made up of three main islands: Puerto Rico, Culebra and Vieques.

Home to over 300 flawless beaches, three of the world’s seven bioluminescent bays and El Yunque, the only rainforest in the US National Parks System, Puerto Rico is not your average Caribbean island. The Piña Colada was invented here, an irrefutable sign of Puerto Rico's ability to provide the right ingredients for a good time. Sip on a cool cocktail while you watch salsa dancers spin on the dance floors of Old San Juan, or throw caution to the wind and put it all on black at one of the city’s state of the art casinos.


Puerto Rico does it better logo


Puerto Rico is the idea lchoice for town and country or fly and drive. Combine the traditional Spanish charm of Old San Juan with the laid back luxe of Vieques, possibly the most untouched island in the Caribbean.  An enticing blend of sun drenched beaches and picturesque cities steeped in history, Puerto Rico ’s culture, natural beauty and abundance of activities make it a winning Caribbean holiday destination every time for the sophisticated, independent traveller.



Our preferred partner for Puerto Rico is Western and Oriental

Puerto Rico does it better logo
Puerto Rico Beach

Love Your Family • St Regis Bahia Beach
7 nights, BA return direct flights,
Private airport transfers
7 nights, 2 x Superior Garden View Rooms
Room Only Basis
November – 13 December 2012
£2199 per adult £1399 per child
Price based on two adults and
two children (2 – 16 yrs), sharing TWO
Superior Garden View Rooms

Offer is stay 7 nights pay for 6,
receive 50% discount on the 2nd room
plus receive a daily US$100 resort credit
(1st room only)

Puerto Rico and Miami Combo

W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island
4 nights, Tropical King Room (room only)
Flights to Vieques Island
W South Beach Miami
3 nights, Wonderful Studio (room only)
BA flights to Miami, plus
American Airlines flights to Puerto Rico
Hotel transfers on Vieques only
Valid for travel
4 August - 8 November 2013
Save £315 per couple


Book by 16 November 2012
for 35% discount at W Vieques Island
£2199 per person



Vieques Island

W Retreat & Spa
7 nights, Tropical King
(room only)
BA flights to San Juan,
plus flights to Vieques Island
Hotel transfers

1 January – 6 April 2013
£1999 per person

Save 35% - £959 per couple
Book by 16th November 2012
Puerto Rico Beach

Puerto Rico and Miami Combo

Vieques Island


Call now on 0800 048 8872


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15 October 2012 11:53

It's time to recognise the value of traditional operators

by Noel Josephides, managing director of Sunvil, originally from Travel Weekly

Over the last week, the newspapers have been full of articles extolling the virtues of 'flight-plus’ and how it is no longer necessary to book with a traditional, full-service tour operator or through a travel agent because the protection available through 'flight-plus' is identical.

Well, that's not exactly true! It should not be forgotten that the 'flight-plus' scheme is an interim measure, designed simply to bring more money into the Air Travel Trust Fund's coffers, before the UK has to adopt the upgraded Package Travel Directive, the consultation document for which we should have in the first couple of months of 2013.

So, what's the difference? The best way of illustrating the advantages of booking via a tour operator which fully complies with the 1992 Package Travel Regulations is via an example.  It’s all about taking responsibility for your clients, and looking after them when plans go wrong for whatever reason.

On Wednesday, August 15, dawn in Greece brought unexpectedly high winds.  Sunvil had eight clients on the Dodecanese island of Tilos. At 10.30 am that day, we had an e-mail from our local agent in Rhodes informing us that the Fedon, the ferry we use to transfer our clients to and from Rhodes and Tilos, would not be running.  

Our clients would have to stay an extra night on Tilos, which meant missing their return charter flight to the UK, and our arriving passengers would have to spend their first night on Rhodes - not easy to arrange on the peak day of the summer season.  

We could not find any flights out of Rhodes on Thursday and, if the weather did not improve, the ferry could well have been cancelled on the Thursday too.  We decided to go for a larger ferry which was more likely to operate if the weather did not improve and found one that operated from Tilos to Kos on Thursday morning.  

We managed to book the last eight seats on an easyJet flight departing Kos at 21.50 and arriving into Gatwick at 23.55. Our clients left Tilos at 10.15 on the Thursday morning and we arranged for day rooms on Kos until they were due to leave for Kos airport on Thursday evening.  

Fortunately, there were no more delays and the flight from Kos to Gatwick left as planned.  Two of our clients had originally come in on our Manchester to Rhodes flight so we took them by taxi from Gatwick to Manchester, which cost £350.  

The eight easyJet flights cost £2,021 and we still do not know what the various extra hotel rooms cost. The total cost to Sunvil will probably be in the region of £3,000, let alone the manpower that went into arranging it all - but the cost to the clients was ZERO. 

We don't make much on Greek holidays, especially in 2012, and I can assure you that such events are not a welcome additional overhead!

Can you imagine what those clients would have had to cope with had they been on their own?  What would an online travel agent have done?  Certainly, I would venture, nothing like what Sunvil did – if indeed anything.  (Would the clients even have been able to contact an online travel agent in such circumstances, I wonder?)

Unfortunately, the national strike on the September 26 in Greece saw us with a similar problem to handle, with clients stranded on the island of Karpathos.  That was an expensive rescue exercise, too.

Do so-called 'legacy' tour operators such as Sunvil get any recognition or support from the likes of Abta and the CAA? I am afraid not.  Abta is anxious to give as much support as possible to the OTAs, the new kids on the block, and the CAA simply wants as many £2.50s as possible so that the government can wipe out the negative balance on the Air Travel Trust Fund.

Our best supporter, the only organisation that actually wants to improve customer care and protection, is - yes, wait for it! - the European Commission.  We understand that that the European Commission believes 'flight-plus' does not comply with the current Package Travel Directive and we understand that the reformed Directive will beef up consumer protection even more.

Perhaps the European Commission will do for us what our own trade organisation and regulator have failed to do, i.e. to promote those that strive for excellence and who carry the flag for the travel industry.

Sunvil holidays can be booked through Full Circle Travel at no extra cost.
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Contact details

Booking enquiries
Our reservations team is available:
Mon-Fri: 09h30 - 17h30
Sat: 10h00 - 16h00
T: 0800 048 8772
E: holiday@fullcircletravel.com

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Mon-Fri: 09h30 - 17h30
Sat: 10h00 - 16h00
T: 0800 048 8772
E: help@fullcircletravel.com

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