Category Archives: Travel

Hotel accused of using fake AA ratings to mislead customers after ‘terrible’ reviews on TripAdvisor

Category : Holidays , Travel , UK Travel

A HOTEL in Cornwall has been accused of misleading customers by displaying a fake AA four-star rating on its website.
The Snooty Fox in Looe has had a string of bad reviews on TripAdvisor.
The hotel has been hit with a string of bad reviewsGoogle Maps
It was reported to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) by a member of the public for displaying an image with the AA logo and ‘AA 4*’ on its website.
Despite acknowledging the complaint, they failed to submit a “substantive response” to an enquiry by the Advertising Standards Agency, who deemed the rating as “misleading”.
The crackdown comes after The Snooty Fox was branded ‘terrible’ on TripAdvisor by a string of recent dissatisfied guests.
On the hotel’s website, it advertises en-suite accommodation with the “highest standards of comfort, hospitality and cleanliness”, with rooms costing up to £100 a night in high season.
The hotel, found in Looe, Cornwall, has been slammed on TripAdvisorAlamy
But many who had stayed there took to TripAdvisor to complain about the hotel’s standards.
A user named adamharris0n, from Lincoln, wrote: “Don’t even bother. Run down, doesn’t do breakfast, overgrown grass, no one even at the property.”
User DianeHKent, from Wakefield, also gave the hotel a recent one star review and wrote: “Would definitely not recommend.
“We stayed for four nights and during that time did not meet any member of staff. The room smelt musty when we arrived as if it had been shut up for a while.”
A string of negative reviews were posted about the hotel on TripAdvisorTripAdvisor
And another user named 134theresav, from Worthing, said: “If you look at their website The Snooty Fox is advertised as bed and breakfast. It is not.
“It is simply a room. There is not anything, not even staff!
“There were a number of people staying at the same time as us and they were all appalled at the misrepresentation of this property. Stay anywhere, but not here.”
There were also some positive comments, praising the “tasteful” decor and “friendly owner” but recent reviews have been largely negative.
The hotel has been branded ‘terrible’ and ‘dirty’ by disgruntled guests visiting LooeAlamy
A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Agency said: “The ASA was concerned by The Snooty Fox’s lack of substantive response and apparent disregard for the code.
“We reminded them of their responsibility to provide a substantive response to our enquiries and told them to do so in the future.
“We considered that consumers would understand from the inclusion of the AA logo and star rating in the ad that The Snooty Fox had received a four-star endorsement from the AA’s hotel rating scheme.

“The Snooty Fox did not provide any evidence that they had received that endorsement and the AA did not list the hotel on its website or state that it had awarded The Snooty Fox a four star rating. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.”
It also detailed the action taken: “The ad must not appear again in the form complained about. We told The Snooty Fox not to claim or imply that they had received an endorsement if they had not. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.”

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Overall the hotel has a 3.5 rating on TripAdvisor, having received 275 reviews on the site with nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of them just one star.
Earlier this month, angry guests complained about a Travelodge in Aberdeen after a leaked sewage pip left the corridors “stinking of pee”.
The hotel workers claimed they were forced to use the area for deliveries as well as laundry services and were said to have been threatened with the sack if they didn’t.
Sun Online Travel has contacted The Snooty Fox for comment.


The best places to celebrate St David’s Day in Wales

Category : Travel , UK Travel

UNLEASH your inner red dragon by embarking on a day out in Wales for  March 1.
St David’s Day 2019 isn’t far away, so why not plan a trip to the saint’s country of patronage?
Image Bank – Getty Aberystwyth is a good option for a long weekend[/caption]
Welsh cakes, daffodils and other items may mark your St David’s Day celebrations. But what about visiting Wales itself?
March 1 falls on a Friday this year, so its a good reason to enjoy a long weekend and do something different.
There’s plenty to see and do in three days throughout Wales. Or you might want to stay somewhere and hunker down.
Whatever you choose, we’ve some ideas to help you enjoy yourself.
Shows
Alamy St David’s Hall in Cardiff has plenty to offer[/caption]
Head to St David’s Hall in Cardiff to enjoy the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales at the St David’s Day Concert.
Alternatively, if you fancy a bit of Welsh opera, the Wales Millennium Centre is hosting a performance of The Magic Flute this year.
Theatrau Sir Gar in Llanelli has its own St David’s Day show, as does the Rhyl Pavilion in North Wales.
No matter where you visit in Wales, there’ll likely be some sort of performance or parade to enjoy around the day.
Activities
Alamy For the adventurous, Zipworld is a star attraction[/caption]
Explore the depths of Cheddar Gorge, the heights of Snowdon, or feel awestruck by the night sky over the Brecon Beacons.
Fancy yourself a royal of old? Visit Castle Coch, Chirk Castle or Runthin Castle for a taste of history.
Get your heart pumping at places like Bounce Below, Zip World, Go Ape Tree Top Adventure, or book a Segway or walking tour for something a bit gentler.
Visit Virgin Experience Days and National Trust for activities and tours across the country.
Stays
Alamy Tenby is a delight for visitors[/caption]
Turn your St David’s Day celebration into a mini-break, and find plenty of hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, pubs and cafes bursting with Welsh hospitality.
Quiet villages like Usk, seaside towns like Tenby and Aberystwyth, and the bustling capital city of Cardiff – Wales has somewhere to suit everyone.
Find your ideal hotel in Wales with retailers like Secret Escapes, ebookers and Hotels.com

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Discover sharks, soakings and a spin-dry on a rollercoaster at Orlando’s SeaWorld that’s fun for the whole family

Category : Family , Theme Parks , Travel

I ALWAYS sneer at those wimps who wear ponchos on water rides.
The log flume never offers the white-knuckle thrills of the rollercoaster next door, so why not get a bit wet? And there is never much of a splash anyway.
Our intrepid reporter even came face to face with a shark — a friendly one, thankfully
With that theory in mind, I confidently boarded a raft on SeaWorld Orlando’s brand-new Infinity Falls. I’m only now drying off. It is the most exciting water ride I have ever been on — and definitely the wettest.
The clues were there. In the queue, guests are warned: “You and your belongings will get soaked.” That turns out to be an understatement.My seven fellow riders had barely an inch uncovered between them.
At first, I wondered what all the fuss was about. We floated serenely past flamingos, then trickled through lush rainforest.
Talk about the calm before the storm — round the corner was a thundering barrage of waves, waterfalls and merciless fellow guests manning water-cannons. Then came the vertical elevator, which crawled up menacingly toward a towering 40ft plunge. It is the tallest drop in the world on a river-rapids ride — and it left us practically submerged, and absolutely sodden.
Adrenaline junkies will love this place
Heading for the exit, I was comforted, at least, by the squelching trainers of my companions in their ponchos. Try harder next time, guys. The 33C heat — even in November — soon dries you out, mind. As do the park’s three sensational rollercoasters, which fill the air with screams.
As SeaWorld phases out whale shows — to be replaced by education experiences — the park is repositioning itself as home to Orlando’s most impressive thrill-rides. The original is Kraken, a floorless rollercoaster named for the giant sea beast of myth. Your feet dangle as you twist and turn through seven loops, at times 150ft up.
Manta is a one-of-a-kind “flying” coaster. You climb on like any normal ride . . . then are strapped in and hurtle head first, face down, through dizzying inversions. My favourite is Mako — the tallest, fastest and longest in a city of theme parks. This terrifying “hypercoaster” accelerates to 73mph before racing over a series of giants humps.
You do get a seat . . . but my backside barely touched it. The feeling of weightlessness at the top of each hill was unlike anything I had felt before.
There is something for all the family to enjoy at SeaWorld
If that sounds too loopy, breathtaking Discovery Cove is for you. SeaWorld’s ­sister park is a peaceful tropical paradise of rocky lagoons, white-sand beaches and lazy rivers. Just 1,300 guests are let in each day, so you won’t be swamped. Food, drink, towels, sun-loungers, even wetsuits and snorkels, are included in the price.
So is special sun cream that will not harm marine life. SeaWorld prides itself on commitment to animal welfare. Over five decades, 30,000 animals have been rescued and rehabilitated in its medical centres. I was invited behind the scenes to see vets operate on a manatee hit by a speedboat in one of Florida’s waterways.

GO: ORLANDO

GETTING/STAYING THERE: Seven nights, room only, at 4* Rosen Shingle Creek is from £1,055pp, based on two adults sharing.
Includes car hire, Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick on March 30 and a Discovery Cove Ultimate Package for two.
That gets you an all-inclusive day at Discovery Cove – including a 30-minute dolphin swim experience – plus 14 days’ unlimited entry to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica Orlando.
See virginholidays.co.uk
MORE INFO: See seaworldparks.com and visitorlando.com

The goal is to return all rescued animals to the wild but if experts decide that this is impossible, they are housed at the park. At Discovery Cove you get close to incredible creatures — swimming with dolphins, rays and tropical fish. The standout is SeaVenture, a unique underwater walking tour round an artificial coral reef.
Our helmets had enough air for 20-plus minutes underwater. Here lurked all kinds of colourful ­creatures. I even came face to face with a shark — a friendly one, thankfully.
You’ll dry off quickly in the 33C heat
The best-value package gets you into SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Aquatica waterpark and, an hour away in Tampa, Busch Gardens. Here, antelopes, rhinos, zebras and lions roam free. On the off-road safari truck tour, you hand-feed lettuce to giraffes.
But again, rides take centre-stage. The mind-blowing Montu, with its crazy 60ft loop, was my pick, though the super-fast Cheetah Rush and huge SheiKra run it close. The showpiece, however, is the ludicrous Falcon’s Fury drop tower. It lifts riders 335ft, flips you over and fires you back downward at 60mph. Brilliant — but never again.
The 4H Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel is the perfect place to recover. On Universal Boulevard, ten minutes from Orlando Airport, it combines classic American luxury with Spanish-revival decor and a huge pool offering views over the golf course.
Keep the relaxation going at nearby Aquatica, with tranquil beaches, 27C heated lagoons and private cabanas at for £40 a day, where you can top up your tan. The 42 water slides should be enough to keep everyone entertained.
Take a ride on the Cheetah Hunt in Busch Gardens

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Test your bravery on the 80ft drop slides of Ihu’s Breakaway Falls. Step into a closed capsule, with your feet on the footprints, and wait for the floor to ­disappear beneath you.
But the real must-do is the new Ray Rush three-in-one slide. You and three friends board an inflatable raft to slip and slide through a series of ­twisting tubes before you are spat out into an enormous bowl.
After a few spins, you are chucked down a shoot into a tidal wave at the bottom. Oh, and no ponchos allowed.

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Whether you plan to cruise the Caribbean or stay in a luxury Spanish villa, here are the best Boxing Day deals for your 2019 summer getaway

IT’S as traditional as turkey sarnies and a brisk walk – the annual search for the summer holiday kicks off on Boxing Day. This year, with Brexit chaos continuing, travel firms are keener than ever to convince you to book early.
With kids-go-free bargains, discounts and plenty of all-inclusive hotels, there is a lot to be said for booking now.As ever when booking, use a credit card for extra protection. And ensure, the moment you book, you buy the best travel insurance. These are some of the best deals on offer right now . . .
TUI’s newest destination for summer 2019 is Kvarner Bay in CroatiaGetty – Contributor
TUI kicks off its turn-of-year sale on Boxing Day with up to £300 reductions per couple on short-haul and mid-haul holidays to destinations including Spain, the Balearics and Canary Islands. These are for trips between May 1 and October 31.
For those travelling further afield, there is £400 off per couple departing between the same times, including stays at Tui’s flagship Sensatori properties.
Families can snap up thousands of free summer child places on accommodation where they share a room, apartment or villa. Deposits are from £50pp.
As well as the above offers, there is a code (SALE100) for a further £100 off selected breaks. TUI’s newest destination for summer, Kvarner Bay in Croatia, will have starting prices from £599. To book, see tui.co.uk.
Enjoy 40 per cent off the family-friendly 5* Serenity Fun City Resort in Makadi Bay, EgyptGetty – Contributor
THOMAS COOK has £300 off per booking if you spend £4,000 or more, £150 with £1,500 and £75 off if you fork out more than £800. The offers are available on holidays including its own-brand hotels — Casa Cook, Cook’s Club, Sunwing, Sunprime, Sentido, SunConnect and Smartline. There are also thousands of free children’s places when the first child shares with two adults paying full price.
Examples include a £75 saving on a week’s all-inclusive at the new 4* Cook’s Club Adakoy Marmaris resort, now from £423pp including flights from Manchester on May 3. Families can save up to £150 per booking with seven nights’ all-inclusive at the 4* Sunwing Arguineguin Seafront Hotel in Gran Canaria, now from £830pp including Gatwick flights on July 18. See thomascook.com.

ON THE BEACH is promising savings of up to 50 per cent on hotels across Europe, including mainland Spain, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus for winter and summer 2019. You can secure a break with deposits from £30pp, then spread the rest of the cost until two weeks before you fly. Examples include 40 per cent off the family-friendly 5* Serenity Fun City Resort in Makadi Bay, Egypt.
Meanwhile, there is up to 25 per cent off both the 4* Real Bellavista Hotel and Spa in Albufeira on the Algarve and the 3* Santa Susanna Resort on the Costa Brava.
See onthebeach.co.uk/holidays/sale or call 0871 474 3000.
EASYJET is offering discounts of up to 20 per cent on 400,000 flights and 400,000 holidays. There are deals on city and beach destinations across Europe, with accommodation ranging from self- catering apartments to 5* boutique hotels, for trips taken from January 30 to July 3. Book with a £60pp deposit, with the balance payable 45 days before departure.
Offers include a four-night stay at the Crowne Plaza Berlin City, reduced from £179pp to £145pp based on Luton departure on February 10. There is also five nights’ half-board at the 4* Asterias Village Hotel in Piskopiano, Crete, reduced from £225pp to £145pp including Gatwick flights on June 22. See easyjet.com.
Enjoy five nights’ half-board at the 4H Asterias Village Hotel in Piskopiano, CreteHandout
BRITISH AIRWAYS has savings on flights and holidays including new routes for 2019 to Charleston, Pittsburgh, Durban and Osaka, as well as destinations such as Las Vegas and Cancun.
There are two-night city breaks from £99pp, European beach holidays starting at £189pp and Caribbean holidays from £499pp. New York, the most-searched destination on ba.com in 2018, is on sale from £379pp with three nights’ accommodation and return flights.
Flight-only offers include Austin from £364 return, Florida (£299), Hong Kong (£520), Chicago (£295), Sydney (£609), Bangkok (£439), Osaka (£649), Nashville (£375) and ­Pittsburgh (£419).
ROYAL CARIBBEAN has launched its One Big Sale with offers on selected sailings in 2019 and 2020, including all-inclusive drinks packages and deposits from £75pp. Book before March 2019 and the first and second guests will get a deluxe drinks package, while the third and fourth guests staying in the same cabin will land a Refreshments Package.
The offer applies to select sailings from the UK, Europe, Caribbean and Asia and include sailings that stop at CocoCay, the company’s private island in the Caribbean. See  royalcaribbean.co.uk/cruise-deals/all-inclusive-cruises or call 0844 493 4005.

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P&O CRUISES celebrates the peak booking period with low deposits, on-board spending money and ­special prices. It is trumpeting the deals as it launches its latest TV ad starring Rob Brydon on Christmas Day. Other bargains in the campaign include extra guests sailing from £1pp on selected seven-night cruises.
These include a two-night sailing to Bruges on Ventura, departing November 29 2019, from £249pp with £40 per cabin to spend on board.
A seven-night cruise on Britannia to Rotterdam, Bruges and Guernsey, departing March 29, is from £599pp including £150 onboard spending money. There is a 15-night Caribbean Transatlantic cruise on Azura from £1,299pp, including £330 per cabin to spend. See pocruises.com or call 03453 555 111.

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He’s green, mean and Orlando’s new star — the Grinch who stole the show at Christmas

WHEN it comes to choosing Grinches, nothing can beat the Jim Carrey variety. Well, nothing but him in person that is.
I’m at Universal Studios Orlando and the Christmas-hating green man is letting out a throat-rumbling belch that I can’t believe isn’t from the gut of the Hollywood star himself.
Kids just love humbug Grinch of the Grinchmas show at Universal Studios©2011 Universal Orlando. All rights reserved.
In fact, the entire Grinchmas show cast are uncannily similar to their on-screen originals.
The musical, which mirrors the 18-year-old classic with a few extra songs thrown in, is a highlight of Universal’s epic annual Christmas makeover.
Within seconds of entering the park that morning I’d been assaulted by an avalanche of Christmas cheer.
A Pitch Perfect band was belting out carols by a giant Christmas tree, while yuletide characters hung around every street corner, from a Nutcracker and the jolly fat man himself.
Universal Orlando has had an epic annual Christmas makeover and cheer is in the air2017 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved
I wasted no time strapping into the thrill rides for some yuletide fear, starting with Revenge of the Mummy, the reliably thrilling Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and on to Jurassic Park River Adventure — which begins as a scenic water cruise, before shocking you with an 85ft drop through the pitch black.
When I wasn’t flying through the air, I was gorging myself silly on festive food at the Three Broomsticks in Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade village.
Stepping off the Hogwarts Express into the snowy streets of the wintery town was bewitching.
Miles of tinsel, fairy lights and garlands make it extra special in winter.
The Hogwarts Castle lights up while the choir is belting out Harry Potter tunes
With Hogwarts Castle looming over me in the near distance, I instantly felt like I was on the real set.
Despite the balmy weather, a nightly artificial snowfall helps to convince you that you’re anywhere but Florida.
The live street entertainment has been given an upgrade for the season too, with the Hogwarts Frog Choir performing recognisable tunes from the franchise, including Hedwig’s Theme, and The Quidditch World Cup.
But the magic really kicks into high gear with the stunning light and sound show projected on to Hogwarts Castle.
Clutching a hot Butterbeer, the seven-minute extravaganza dazzles the crowd with imagery from the franchise.

GO: ORLANDO

GETTING/STAYING THERE: Return flights with Norwegian are from £275pp. See norwegian.com/uk or call 0330 828 0854.
A week room-only at Universal’s Aventura Hotel is from £414 per adult, £404 per child, based on two adults, two children (age 3-9) sharing a standard 2-queen room.
Includes 14 days unlimited access to Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay and early admission. See attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk.

Wizards fly around the castle, magical fairies come to life against backdrops from the films, including the Yule Ball, before a fireworks finale.
From here, it was just a short taxi boat home to Universal’s Aventura Hotel, a brand new property within walking distance of all of the parks and Universal CityWalk.
The chic, modern rooms feature iPads to control everything in the room, from the heating and lights, to the TV, where you can connect to your own Spotify, Netflix or Amazon Prime.
On my final day, I got to experience the jaw-dropping floats from the Macy’s parade, including a giant balloon Donkey from Shrek, 15 new floats and light displays with characters from Minions and Madagascar.
Finally, after racing around the rest of the theme park’s thrill rides, I visited Universal’s CityWalk for the scariest attraction of all.

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Rising Star! is a karaoke bar on steroids, with backing singers and an entire band who play live on stage with you.
Next morning, a little green around the gills, I listened back to my full rendition of Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles.
Suffice to say, I’ll be leaving the Christmas crooning to Mr Grinch next year.

GOT a story? RING The Sun on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL exclusive@the-sun.co.uk


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Storybook adventure comes to life amid St Lucia’s natural wonders — from the Piton peaks to the world’s only drive-in volcano

Category : Beach , Travel , travel deals

“ARE we nearly there yet?” came the oh-so familiar plea from the back of the car as we made our way through the tropical rainforests of St Lucia’s interior.
Those whinges turned to gasps as we arrived at Sulphur Springs and the kids read out the sign: “The World’s Only Drive-In Volcano”.
Spectacular view of one of the Piton peaks from the beach
And when we told them we were ALL going to cover ourselves in the warm, mineral-rich volcanic mud, the children were officially in paradise.
The dormant volcano last erupted some 200 years ago but the springs and its famous mud — said to take ten years off you — are one of the top attractions on the Caribbean isle.
For my kids Kitty, aged nine, Jack aged ten and Eddie, 15, it was a storybook adventure come to life — literally. The island’s stunning natural wonders are the setting for a new children’s book The Secret Treasures Of St Lucia.
It tells the story of Jack, a boy who while holidaying at the Coconut Bay Resort meets Nyla, a local young volunteer with the St Lucia National Trust. The pair embark on a whirlwind adventure that takes them to all of the best spots on the island.
The luxurious Landings Resort is on quiet part of Rodney Bay
Families travelling to St Lucia with Virgin Holidays will be handed a copy of the book as they fly out to the island, and its the perfect way to inspire the young — and their families — to explore.
Following in the footsteps of Jack and Nyla we left the heat of our volcano experience and took a short drive to Toraille Waterfalls.
It was like a scene from a shampoo advert — apart from the cries and laughter as our less-than-serene kids dived in.
We returned to our hotel — the Coconut Bay Resort described in our book — to relax and relive our adventures over a cocktail or two.

GO: ST LUCIA

GETTING/STAYING THERE: Virgin Holidays has seven nights all-inclusive at the 4H Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa is from £1,115pp based on two adults and two children sharing a deluxe ocean splash room.
Seven nights all-inclusive at The Landings Resort & Spa is from £1,715pp based on two adults sharing a one-bed villa suite.
Both include direct Virgin Atlantic flights from Gatwick on January 29, 2019 (virginholidays.co.uk or call 0344 557 3859).
MORE INFO: Visit stlucia.org.

The family-friendly all-inclusive hotel is just five minutes from the airport and boasts nine restaurants and seven bars as well as a mile-long beach and even a waterpark. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
An early start the following morning found us sailing the calm Caribbean Sea aboard a catamaran. We were about to witness Saint Lucia’s iconic Piton landmarks up close.
En route, we anchored up for the chance to snorkel with tropical fish. The secret to swimming with the fishies? Locals told us to bring a banana. It worked a treat!
Within minutes hundreds of fish were up close and personal to enjoy their snack — giving us a fantastic view.
‘I’ve never met any community so welcoming and loving’, says Kitty, nine
Following the adventures we’d read about in the book, our most exhilarating excursion took us back to the rainforests where we were whizzed through the tree tops at death-defying speeds.
Having never been on a zipwire before, I must admit I was a little worried. More frightened than me was my ten-year-old son whose legs were actually shaking.
He said he couldn’t face it but one of the experienced staff at Treetop Adventure Park in Dennery shared a zipline with him to settle his nerves.
By the time we had been whizzed 12 times from tree-to-tree on lines of up to 800ft across my son wanted to do it all over again!

The children's verdict

I’VE never stayed in a hotel so friendly and entertaining.

Coconut Bay has without doubt exceeded my expectations.
It has an awesome waterpark with a lazy river, slides and tubes to whizz down that were appropriate for all ages; a swim-up mocktail bar with a “no adults allowed” sign, foam pool party, table tennis and pool tables. I went horse-riding on the beach here for the first time.
It was a great journey with a great horse and made unforgettable memories.
Snorkelling was also great. I saw so many multi-coloured fish but the people were the best part; I’ve never met any community so welcoming and loving.

Kitty Barun, age nine

IT was a sensational experience. The entertainment, the food, the accommodation and, most amazing of all, the people.
I could never say “I’m bored”, because it would be a lie. Every second that went by was packed with fun and excitement.
I’ve never set foot in a hotel in the same league as Coconut Bay. This extraordinary hotel has everything.
You can order delectable food from the restaurant and with all-inclusive it is a great feeling to eat whatever you want – free.
Coconut Bay is the ideal hotel for kids with a great kids club, kids’ food and drinks menus including in the restaurants; it is all exemplary for children.

Jack Barun, age ten

The last few days of our trip were spent in the far north at the ultra-luxurious Landings Resort.
Nestled on the tranquil far edge of the otherwise bustling Rodney Bay, the resort is located on a picture-postcard sandy beach a short walk from Pigeon Island National Park.
It seemed fitting this would also be our last adventure as it is also where The Secret Treasures Of Saint Lucia is concluded. Even getting there was part of the excitement — as we boarded the hotel’s own water taxi for the short hop across.
Over on the island we learned about its vital role as a British military base guarding St Lucia from the invading French in the 18th century.
Heading back down to the waterfront, we finished off an idyllic day discovering the island with a traditional curried lamb lunch on the tree-shaded veranda of the Jambe de Bois restaurant.

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Luckily our last night was a Friday. Every Friday night across the island, local Saint Lucians welcome in the weekend with a street party.
At nearby Gros Islet music was blasting from wardrobe-sized speakers. We sampled the street food and local rum punch as we took in the intoxicating Caribbean atmosphere.
Our adventure may have come to an end but the memories would live on — and we have got the book to prove it!

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With millions set to jet off for Christmas, these are our top ten spots for a festive getaway

Category : Travel

THE big festive flyaway is nearly here – as more than four million people prepare to jet away and spend Christmas abroad.
There is still time to be among them, whether you fancy a bite of the Big Apple, fun in the theme parks of Orlando and Tenerife or dream of a Caribbean cruise. Trisha Harbord has ten ideas for a fabulous overseas holiday.
Tenerife
Tenerife is known as the island of eternal spring and its warmth could make it the perfect escape from a bone-chilling British Christmas
THE capital of the Canary Islands has a turkey and tinsel break just over four hours away.
All the family will love Loro Parque, voted World’s Best Zoo by TripAdvisor customers.
Many hotels are decked out with trees, baubles and lights and serve traditional food and drink. It’s a warmer home from home.

GO:

Seven nights’ B&B at the 4H El Tope Hotel, Puerto de la Cruz, flying from Stansted on December 20, costs from £587pp.
From Birmingham on December 23 it is priced from £599.
See loveholidays.com.

New York
Getty – Contributor New York is the city that never sleeps – and neither will you if you celebrate Christmas in its glittering heart[/caption]
THE glittering city is magical during Christmas, made even brighter with its festive concerts, shows, markets and stunning window displays.
Take a ride in a horse and carriage through Central Park, view the city from the Empire State Building or join a movie tour to see where those Christmas scenes in Elf, Home Alone 2 and Miracle on 34th Street were filmed.

GO:

Four nights’ room-only at the 4H Hudson New York, from Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic on December 23, is from £999pp.
See virginholidays.co.uk.

Goa
Alamy In southern India, they love to celebrate Christmas – but it’s hot and spicy and unlike anything you have experienced before[/caption]
WHY not party on the beach on the south west coast of India, relaxing in glorious 30C temperatures.
Palm trees are strung with fairy lights, and fireworks explode into the sky as Christians and Hindus come together to celebrate Christmas. Burn off the festive calories on a jungle adventure of canyoning, trekking and cliff jumping.

GO:

Seven nights’ B&B at the 4H Golden Tulip Hotel, from Heathrow on December 20, from £1,469pp or on December 24, from £1,357pp.
See southalltravel.co.uk.

Paris
Alamy The French know how to make Christmas special – and nowhere is it more so than in Paris[/caption]
KNOWN as the City Of Light, Paris really lives up to its name at Christmas.
See the twink-ling buildings from a Seine river cruise, a sightseeing bus or the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
Head for the festive markets across the city with the largest, The Christmas Village on the esplanade at La Defense, boasting 300 wooden chalets selling crafts and food.

GO:

Five nights’ room-only at the 4H Hotel Sacha, including flights from Luton on December 22, from £375pp.
See easyjet.com/holidays.

Orlando
Give the kids – and yourself – a magical Christmas that the whole family will remember forever
MICKEY Mouse and the gang can help you celebrate the festive season like nowhere else.
Meet Sandy Claws as Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party takes over Walt Disney World. And Universal Studios transforms the World Of Harry Potter with lights and baubles.

GO:

Fourteen nights’ self-catering in a four-bedroom Highlands Reserve Villa in Kissimmee, flying with Norwegian from Gatwick to Tampa on December 15, from £899pp.
See ocean-florida.co.uk.
Buy Disney and Universal combo tickets from attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk.

Caribbean
Getty – Contributor Why not swap a white Christmas for a white-sand Christmas?[/caption]
CRUISING around the Caribbean will mean a stress-free Christmas.
You won’t have to worry about a thing during a full-board fly/cruise. With carol singers and tree-lighting there is plenty of fun – and Santa still shows up. Royal Caribbean’s Independence Of The Seas sails from Fort Lauderdale in Florida, calling at Cozumel in Mexico and the Bahamas.

GO:

Five nights from December 24, including flights from Gatwick, costs from £1,617pp.
See royalcaribbean.co.uk.

Mexico
Alamy There are few places you can escape from Christmas, but in Mexico, you’ll certainly escape the Christmas chill[/caption]
BE one of the first to celebrate the festive season in the adults-only TRS Coral Hotel in Costa Mujeres.
You’ll be chilling on a white beach, lapped by crystal waters teeming with reefs and marine life. TRS Coral shares some facilities with its sister hotel, the family-friendly Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa. They include a Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre and two Ibiza-style beach clubs.

GO:

Seven nights’ all-inclusive in a Junior Suite at the TRS Coral, flying from Heathrow on Dec 23, is from £2,184pp.
See firstchoice.co.uk.

Prague
Alamy What could be more fitting at Christmas than a trip to Wenceslas Square?[/caption]
THE home town of Good King Wenceslas always looks stunning at Christmas.
Markets spill over with crafts and food and the Old Town Square features a huge decorated tree and nativity scene. Sip Svarak, a version of mulled wine, and tuck into sausages and sticky pastries.
Take a cruise along the Vltava River and watch the moving apostles on the Prague Astronomical Clock, a 600-year-old national treasure.

GO:

Two nights at the 4H Green Garden Hotel, from Gatwick, Luton or Stansted on December 25, from £139pp.
See: icelolly.com.

Iceland
Getty – Contributor Now that’s what you call a magnetic attraction – the Northern Lights are regularly seen in Iceland[/caption]
FOR the best lights switch-on, head to Iceland and a chance to see the dazzling Northern Lights.
You can spend three nights in capital Reykjavik with a package including a “chasing the lights” tour.
Extra tours include a visit to geothermal spa the Blue Lagoon and a boat trip to see the incredible Eyjafjordur humpback whales.

GO:

Three nights’ B&B at the Hotel Klettur, from Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, Belfast, Edinburgh or Manchester on selected dates over Christmas, from £245pp.
See travelzoo.com.

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Norway
Aud Eva Bergo Looking for a guaranteed white Christmas? Look no further[/caption]
YOU can have a true white Christmas with 30 per cent off a holiday to the traditional Scandinavian village of Beitostolen.
Off piste, try tobogganing, dog sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides. Stroll through the village and dine at the grotto-like Hytta Mat & Vinhus restaurant for traditional cuisine.

GO:

Seven nights’ half-board at the 4H Radisson Blu, from Gatwick on December 23, based on two adults and two children under 12 sharing a standard room, from £915pp.
See skisafari.com.


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Remembering the fallen in Compiègne — where the Armistice was signed twice

Category : City , Travel

AS railway carriages go, Car 2419-D puts all present-day commuter wagons to shame.
It’s a lavish affair, with long teak writing desks, vintage lamps and sumptuous wood panelling. And it’s also where history changed — twice.
Xavier Renoux Car 2419-D is a lavish affair, with long teak writing desks, vintage lamps and sumptuous wood panelling[/caption]
A century ago, the agreement to end World War One was signed in Car 2419-D. Talks were held in utmost secrecy in a forest glade outside the French city of Compiègne, 49 miles north east of Paris.
Then in 1940, during World War Two, Hitler ordered that the wagon be positioned in exactly the same spot for the signing of the second “Armistice at Compiègne” — when France surrendered to Germany.
The first Armistice was signed at 5.15am on November 11, 1918, but the ceasefire didn’t take effect until 11am, so that there was time to get the message to all the battlefronts.
This would stop fighting continuing after the cut-off time, risking the peace. And that is why today there is a memorial garden in the glade dedicated to Augustin Trébuchon — the last French soldier to die in the war. He was killed delivering a message at 10.50am.
Xavier Renoux The French city of Compiègne is where the Armistice was signed to end World War One[/caption]
Were it not for the Armistice, Compiègne would be best known for horse-breeding and its chateau. It’s a leafy, wealthy city, less than an hour by train from Gare du Nord, where the Eurostars pull into Paris.
Wide boulevards are designed with soft paths for riding horses. Forest trails lead to the grand park outside the chateau.
And inside, the gold-panelled ballroom, Napoleon’s shocking pink bedchamber and a gorgeous reception room covered in maps fight for attention.
The Glade of the Armistice is in the forest, near the river Aisne. Much of it is ornamental, looked over by a statue of Marshal Foch, commander-in-chief on the Western Front and one of the men in Car 2419-D as the Armistice was signed.
Xavier Renoux Today there is a memorial garden in the glade dedicated to Augustin Trébuchon — the last French soldier to die in the war[/caption]
The carriage inside the attached museum was built around the same time, and has been furnished in the style of the original.
But the original no longer exists — as the SS is thought to have torched it in 1945 in the dying days of the Second World War in Germany, where it had been taken after the second Armistice.
The museum does a good job of concisely explaining the run-up to the first Armistice.
It starts with how the war happened, then goes into the grim realities of trench warfare and the millions who died.
Xavier Renoux On November 11 it’s the young men on the front who we remember[/caption]
By mid-1918, Germany was on the retreat and knew its chances looked bleak.
The military top brass wanted an opportunity to stop the slaughter, and were sneaked beyond the front line for the meeting in Compiègne.
Negotiations for the ceasefire took two days, with the final reading and signing taking place in the early hours of November 11.
It’s the 11am timing of the announcement that comes as the biggest surprise.

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For unlucky soldiers such as Augustin Trébuchon, it meant a few extra hours to get shot. It’s that story that sticks in the head while walking back through the forest.
The plush carriage in Compiègne represents the war from the perspective of those in charge — as something to be talked over in relative comfort and luxury.
But on November 11 it’s the young men on the front who we remember.

GO COMPIEGNE

GETTING THERE: Return Eurostar fares from London to Paris are from £66. See eurostar.co.uk. A return ticket from Paris to Compiègne costs £17.
STAYING THERE: B&B La Parenthèse du Rond Royal has rooms from £108 a night including free bikes. See laparenthesedurondroyal.com.
MORE INFO: See musee-armistice-14-18.fr and compiegne-tourisme.fr.


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The sandy beaches, scenic railways and luxury hotels that make St Kitts a Caribbean gem

Category : Beach , Travel

HOLIDAYMAKERS peering from plane windows on approach to the nation of St Kitts and Nevis might notice the cricket-mad islands are shaped just like a bat and ball.
Formerly colonised by both the British and French, these volcanic Caribbean isles are in fact the smallest nation in the Americas.
SHORE NICE… Beach lovers can grab a local beer on St Kitts
But what the country lacks in size, it makes up for in laid-back vibes and a rich past — brought to life by a string of historical attractions.
As holidaymakers quickly learn, rum is the islands’ national drink, with locals priding themselves on their ability to knock back measures aplenty.
For the lighter drinker, the excellent Carib lager is also brewed on the island.
Menus provide a fantastic range of dishes — including seafood from the surrounding waters. Favourite fare includes lobster, snapper, and saltfish with coconut dumplings.
Seafood is a very popular choice on the menu
But it’s the wild beauty of the islands, their spectacular sandy beaches, and stunning colonial monuments, that created the magic of these islands.
One of the more popular beaches is Frigate Bay, which lies a few miles from St Kitts capital Basseterre.
By day, holidaymaking families enjoy the palm-fringed white sands and calm sea.
By night, beachfront bars and restaurants come alive — including the aptly named Mr X’s Shiggidy Shack Beach Bar and Grill.
The island is packed with beach bars to enjoy and relax in
A short walk away is the affordable 3H Sugar Bay Club Suites Hotel, a lovely spot with views of the Atlantic Ocean from the lush gardens, and two swimming pools.
Along the island and over the thin strip of land snaking between the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea sit another cluster of beaches.
The luxury Park Hyatt resort at Christophe Harbour, at the southern tip of cricket bat-shaped St Kitts, is a stunning base for travellers.
Classy apartment-style rooms with gardens look out to a private beach facing the sister island of Nevis and its atmospheric 3,200ft volcano.
A room in the Park Hyatt hotel
Friendly staff ferry guests around the estate on golf buggies while down by the jetty a wooden cocktail bar rests above calm waters.
Close by, the Spice Mill restaurant at Cockleshell Beach serves up delicious dishes, local and international.
The 50,000-Kittisians and Nevisians — as the islanders are called — still retain strong links to Britain, with the Queen still the islands’ head of state.
Many islanders moved to the UK after the Second World War — although over the years some of them, or their families, have returned to make their home on St Kitts and Nevis.
The Brimstone Hill Fortress is a must see for historians
For amateur historians, these anglo-Caribbean links are etched into the landscape in the most iconic fashion at St Kitts’ colossal Brimstone Hill Fortress.
Set almost 800ft up a volcanic hill, the stone fort on the island’s west coast is a Unesco World Heritage Site — known as the Gibraltar of the West Indies.
The site dates from 1690 — almost 70 years after the English and French invaded the island — and dominates the coastline.
Stone walls built in rings guard the main fort, whose rooms have been restored to give the feel of a soldier’s life — hopping between the gun and food stores, bedrooms and latrines.
St Kitts has strong links to the UK
Soldiers’ graffiti is still etched into the fortress walls with names common to any British village or town.
The fortress offers commanding views over Sandy Point, where the first English settlers including the British West Indies’ first governor Sir Thomas Warner arrived in 1623.
A stop-off after Old Road Town — one of the oldest settlements on the island — is where visitors can see Sir Thomas’ impressive 17th-century grave at an Anglican church sharing his name.
Meanwhile, over on sister island Nevis, is the location where the great Admiral Horatio Nelson married Fanny Nisbet.
The Montpellier resort is located under a jungle-like canopy
For views of St Kitts take the scenic railway which winds its way around Mount Liamuiga
The historic Nisbet plantation, Fanny’s ancestral home, caters for hotel guests as a glorious beachside resort overlooking the Atlantic.
Another stunning plantation-turned-hotel is the Montpellier resort, situated under a jungle-like canopy and visited over the years by the late Princess Diana, as well as her sons William and Harry.
Both St Kitts and Nevis were once cornerstones of the British Empire’s trade in sugar.
But in 2005 the island authorities brought an end to the sugar business, with the locals instead shifting to a tourism-led economy.
 

GO: St Kitts

GETTING/STAYING THERE: British Airways Holidays offers seven nights at the 3* Sugar Bay Club Suites & Hotel from £779pp, the 5* Belle Mont Farm from £1249pp or the 5* Park Hyatt from £1499pp, including return flights from Gatwick. See ba.com/stkitts or phone 0344 493 0120.
MORE INFO: See stkittstourism.kn

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Golf courses have since sprung up, alongside luxury hotels such as a Marriott resort and the mountainside Belle Mont Farm, while cruise tourists hop off to admire the islands.
A scenic railway winds its way around the 1,100 Mount Liamuiga, for relaxing views of St Kitts, while the more energetic tourist can choose to hike up the mountain.
But if that’s not your thing, you can always just relax and happily return to those rounds of rum at the beach bars.

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