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A First-Timers Guide To A Club Med Ski Holiday…

Day 1 – Club Med Peisey Vallandry

Having never skied before, I didn’t know what to expect when I first arrived at the beautiful French resort, Peisey Vallandry. I needn’t have worried; from the moment I arrived, I was converted. Clear blue skies, snow-capped mountains, wooden interiors & open brickwork added to its rustic alpine charm. A postcard-perfect scene that left me feeling as if I’d entered a magical winter wonderland.

My bags were whisked away to my room, which left me free to tuck into a delicious buffet lunch where I was overwhelmed with choice. French gourmet quality, fresh produce & French chefs at various cooking stations, the choice of food alone was impressive. With no need to worry about Michelin-star bills, Club Med offers superb, signature dining, all included in your ski package.

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Even children are offered a separate area with a huge range of food to suit even the fussiest of eaters, whilst gluten-free options are available upon request.

Guided by a friendly member of resort staff, I was shown to my room, complete with balcony & stunning mountain views.

Day 2 – Hitting the Slopes!

Next up, time to conquer my fears and head to the mountain for my first taste of skiing.

The main lift takes everyone up the mountain, (& back down if you don’t want to ski down!).

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Beginners, intermediates & experts all head up for their lessons provided by the expert Club Med team and the instructors are so friendly & thankfully, so patient! A couple in our group were complete beginners & by 12.30 were confidently skiing on the nursery slopes.

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As a beginner, I felt that our instructor, David, was superb at interacting with all of us & our varying levels of ski proficiency, whilst still managing to make it fun. He managed to truly put everyone at ease, even those as nervous as I was! Club Med also offers personal guides to show experienced skiers the more slopes in the region & the opportunity to go off-piste if they wish (again all included in the cost).
Wine & canapes at the bottom of the lift served by the Club Med staff were a welcome way to end my first alpine adventure! It did seem rather indulgent when a 3-course lunch followed, though I did assuage my post-Christmas calorie guilt with a dip in both the indoor and (heated!) outdoor pools.
So, until tomorrow, au revoir, mes amis!

 

Day 3 – Club Med Les Arcs

This morning we left Peisey Vallandry and snow-shoe hiked across to Les Arcs, with some spectacular views over the mountains.

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You can really see a different resort in Les Arcs, it has a much bigger ski area & is busier, with more of a village feel to it. Hot chocolate on tap (and I literally mean on tap as you could just help yourself) was exactly what I needed upon arrival.

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If you are considering going here with a group of your friends, or with a partner & want a much livelier adult-only property with many ski options & even a town to go into, Club Med les Arcs resort will tick all the boxes. Sadly, my familiarisation visit was over all too quickly, but I’ll be very happy to discuss my experience of Club Med Ski, with anyone who might be interested.

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If you are looking for a winter holiday skiing or non-skiing, I cannot recommend Club Med enough as they are the only company who offer fully all-inclusive Ski packages. Also, some of Club Med’s mountain resorts are open throughout summer, where you can enjoy a whole host of activities including mountain biking, hiking and swimming without the sorry of hefty bills for meals & exchange rates.

What’s Included in a Club Med Ski Holiday:

  • Flights & transfers
  • Accommodation
  • Lift pass
  • Ski/Snowboarding lessons
  • Gourmet full board cuisine
  • Open bar
  • Kids clubs from 4-17 years
  • Non-ski activities and evening entertainment

So, if you’re considering an all-inclusive ski holiday, please call our team on 0121 213 0012 for help choosing the right Club Med resort for you. Plus, as Club Med specialists, we can offer you the very best prices with extra, exclusive benefits! Take a look at what other customer say about us, on TrustPilot!

See you on the slopes!

-Deana Manser, Senior Travel Consultant.

Featured

WHISTLING UP THE PERFECT SKI HOLIDAY

‘No resort is ranked so highly, or so consistently, as Whistler’ – that’s what the experts say & there are compelling reasons why Canada’s premier ski resort is so popular. Let’s start with prestigious hotels & great restaurants, family-friendliness & the positive, inspiring attitude of the local staff & ski instructors.

Of course, underlying everything is the skiing! Whistler & Blackcomb mountains comprise the largest ski area in North America; an astonishing 8,171 acres with over 200 marked trails. British Columbia’s coastal mountains average a mind (& toe) numbing 39 feet of snow annually! – so skiers and boarders can expect great conditions during the long season.

Every skill level is catered for; wide, flowing runs on finely groomed snow are perfect for beginners & intermediates, as is the ‘must-do’ of the seven-mile Peak to Creek trail.

Equally unmissable are the spectacular views from the Peak 2 Peak gondola which links the twin mountains – the longest & highest lift in the world!

What about advanced skiers? For deep powder snow seekers, the Flute Bowl & similar spots offer a back-country experience, with the security of the ski area. You’ll want to try the Dave Murray Downhill, seen in the 2010 Olympics. Wildly steep gullies & couloirs will test the most expert. There’s a bit of a clue in the names –  Couloir Extreme, Outer Limits and Spanky’s Ladder!

Skiing is a terrific social & life-skill for youngsters, building confidence & fitness & making new friends. Whistler Blackcomb Snow School is top-class & will help kids become skilful snow bunnies in no time. Programmes matching different age groups help ensure steady & happy progression.

So, great skiing, super hotels & restaurants, exciting nightlife too, for those who want it. Why not make this year’s ski trip the best ever?

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Where to stay:

Listel Whistler
Located in the heart of Whistler village, this hotel occupies a prime location just a 2-minute walk from the Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas. Sample delicious cuisine at the award-winning Bearfoot Bistro, knock back vodka in the world’s coldest ice bar or enjoy live music out on the patio with a hotel that’s right in the heart of all the alpine action.

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Crystal Lodge, Whistler
At the centre of all the action, this hotel has it all, from complimentary ski valet and storage to heated outdoor pool and more shops and restaurants than any other hotel in Whistler.
For a limited time only, save up to 40% on the Crystal Lodge Whistler when you book before the 15th November.

Crystal Lodge Whistler

Book your Ski Holiday to Whistler early and get huge savings! Up to 70% off lift passes and kids aged 12 and under ski FREE All winter when adults book lift passes. For more information, call 0121 212 0012 for a free, no obligation quote.

Featured

A First-Timer’s Review of a Mark Warner Holiday

Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes

As a self-confessed ‘sports-phobic’, I was rather nervous about my first Mark Warner sun holiday. Mark Warner are renowned for their award-winning sporting activities, with first-class tuition and top-of-the-range equipment, but it was a little daunting to ditch the sun-lounger and don the Lycra for a few days sampling the very best activities Mark Warner have to offer.

Recently voted the Best Family & Adventure Operator, Mark Warner are the experts in watersports, & considered to curate the crème de la crème of activity holidays, with a wide range of land-based & water activities including sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing, tennis & cycling.

I was lucky enough to be invited to their newest & flagship hotel, the 5* Levante Beach Resort. Situated right on the beach in the resort town of Afandou, just a short half-hour transfer from the airport, this resorts boasts 5 swimming pools (including an indoor & relaxing adult-only pool), free sailing & windsurfing lessons, luxurious spa complete with sauna and steam room & 6 floodlit Astroturf tennis courts. A spacious village style resort, there was no scramble for sunbeds, long queues at the bar, or inflatable collisions in the pool! All the facilities are on your doorstep & you can relax & unwind after your daily dose of activities, with no crowds in sight.

Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort

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“Whether you’re experienced or first timer, we’re here to help you get the most out of your time in the water” explains the specialized waterfront manager, Owain, at the welcome beach briefing. This tanned, blonde, handsome Welshman has the archetypal surfer look & must be the envy of his compatriots, in the cooler, wetter months back home! The full daily programme is enough to satisfy the keenest of sailing enthusiasts, however you don’t feel any pressure into doing anything you don’t want to. That’s the great thing about the Mark Warner staff, truly experts in their field, they can gauge any nerves, putting you at ease before your toes dip into those crystal waters. My first afternoon was spent in side-splitting laughter as my team battled to claim victory on a giant stand- up paddleboard, racing across the finish line! Paddleboards & kayaks are just some of the kit you can take out without any extra hidden charges or restrictions, leaving you free to explore the beautiful coast line, sheltered bays & rugged coves. Or if you are looking to go home with a new certificate under your belt, why not complete a RYA course led by the qualified instructors.

Levante Beach Resort Watersports

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Next up, time to work on my serve! From their “tipsy tennis” where a drink in one hand and the racket in another is actively encouraged, to their intensive tennis coaching weeks & social tennis where you can meet new people, the fun introductory warm-up games whetted my appetite to get stuck in.

Levante Beach Resort Tennis

An afternoon of biking followed. Rich, my (very patient!) instructor helped me get to grips with the top-of-the-range bikes which are upgraded each year with the latest models & soon we were setting off to explore the picturesque island of Rhodes. Not forgetting a perfect pit-stop along the way at a local sea-front Taverna to can soak up the stunning views & a refreshing Greek Mythos!

Cycling at Levante Beach Resort

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So, whether you want to stay glued to the sun-lounger & bask in the glorious Greek sunshine or fill your days with a jam-packed activity schedule, Mark Warner holidays are perfect for avid adventure enthusiasts or those who simply just want to try something new. The friendly and encouraging staff at Mark Warner and their “just give it a try” ethos showed me how much fun you can have if you simply just dive right in!

Prices for Summer 2017 for Levante Beach Resort start at just £569pp* & include an early booking saving of up to £200pp. Travel Club Elite staff are Mark Warner experts & have stayed at all of their resorts. Please let us help you plan your perfect getaway! Call 0121 213 0012 & get HUGE extra savings on top!
*Based on 2 adults sharing departing on the 6th May. Price correct as of the 21/10/2016.

Featured

The Magic of the Northern Lights this Christmas

One of the most sought after travel experiences, the mesmerizing celestial beauty of the Northern Lights is a sight to behold. There is no better time to witness this elusive natural phenomenon than during the magical festive period.

Illuminating the starlit Arctic sky, this iridescent spectacle paints an intricate rainbow of colour as it comes out to play. Splashes of shimmering purples, greens and blues all dance delicately against striking backdrops. Forget those twinkly Christmas lights at home, the Aurora Borealis really is the most captivating natural light display you’ll see this Christmas.

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As one of the winter months to offer the longest hours of darkness, visiting in December will stand you in the best stead to really see Mother Nature’s most spectacular multi-coloured show.  A Hurtigruten Northern lights cruise is one of the best ways to witness the magic.

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Begin your Norwegian Journey….

Occurring most commonly in the Arctic regions, embark on your epic journey in the Arctic Capital of Norway. As the land of stunning untouched scenery, dramatic fjords and scenic coastline, it provides the perfect backdrop to the best Christmas light show on earth.

Norway is most breath-taking in Winter. A country cast under an enchanting winter wonderland spell of sparkling landscapes, snow-covered mountain ranges and glistening icicles. For avid foodies, swap your Christmas turkey for the freshly caught seafood Norway is famous for! Winter is when it’s at its freshest flavours – so delight your culinary senses with the catch of the day!

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Tromsø is the destination of choice for hungry aurora light catchers. With little light pollution, vast open dark skies and mystical mountainous archipelago, it offers a fantastic opportunity to witness this mysterious spectacle first-hand. Just imagine, standing on the edge of the world, looking up at the endless glorious night’s sky in awe.

Experience a traditional Nordic Christmas with festivities taking place across the city from mid-November through to New Year. Quirky market stalls, traditional cuisine and concerts are all the ingredients needed for a warm and wonderful Norwegian Christmas.

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Beyond the Bright Lights…

Of course the lights take centre stage in your Norwegian Christmas adventure, but why not immerse yourself in a true Arctic experience exploring Norway’s wild wonders. Bring your wondrous fairy-tale adventure to life; husky-sled rides through the wilderness, adrenaline fuelled snowmobile safari rides and traditional reindeer sleigh ride are just some of the enchanting activities on offer. Hurtigruten offer a huge number of fun excursions to choose from that you can simply add on before your departure to make your trip extra special.

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With fantastic deals available from Hurtigruten and a range of different operators, your Northern lights trip of a lifetime is closer than you think. Book this December for a truly memorable Christmas you’ll never forget.

Below is a pick of our favourite Hurtigruten Northern lights cruises:

Hurtigruten 5 Day Arctic Highlights
Hurtigruten 8 Day Arctic Wonders
Hurtigruten Astronomy Voyage
Hurtigruten Pure Spitsbergen

Enquire for more Northern Lights tours and cruises.

Call 0121 213 0012 for huge savings on a Norway Northern Lights tour this Christmas with Travel Club Elite. ABTA 30 Years.

 

 

Featured

Natural Wonders of Costa Rica

I have just experienced Cox & Kings fabulous Natural Wonders of Costa Rica Tour, which I can’t wait to tell you all about. I flew Club World on the new direct British Airways flight, direct from Gatwick to San Jose. With a flying time of 11 hours, the extra space & comfort of Club makes a huge difference & I would recommend this to anyone whose budget will allow. On arrival into San Jose we were met by our friendly tour guide, Juan Carlos, who would stay with us throughout our journey. San Jose is located in the central Valley, a fertile agricultural region with a pleasant mix of the traditional Spanish & modern. Although it is relatively small compared to most national capitals, San Jose has a number of interesting museums, restaurants and shops.  A short transfer took us to the Costa Rica Marriott San Jose, where we had an excellent dinner, ready to start our journey in the morning.

Doka Estate Coffee tour
Located on the slopes of the Poas Volcano, the Doka Estate belongs to the Vargas Ruiz family, pioneers in coffee growing for over 70 years. We were taken through a journey of harvesting, processing & roasting the grains & the production process of this first-class coffee. The mill here is one of the oldest in Costa Rica & the plantation has been voted amongst the best in the region. At the end of the coffee tour you can purchase various types of coffee to take home with you. Our next stop was the Tabacon Grand Spa hotel, our home for the next two nights. The Tabacon Grand Spa is situated near the base of the beautiful Arenal Volcano, until recently one of the world’s most active. The Arenal Volcano is situated in 2,900 hectares of protected cloud & rainforest. The Tabacon Grand Spa hotel has one of the best Hot springs in the area!!!

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Coffee Farm

Boat trip on Rio Frio
Cano Negro is one of the most important wetland regions in Central America & is considered to be of international importance, as it protects a number of endangered species. Driving through this area brought us to the tiny town of Los Chiles, where we boarded a boat for a trip along the Rio Frio. The sunlight made for the perfect day to spot a wide range of birds, Caimans, and howler monkeys, whose distinctive howl makes them easy to spot, high up in the trees!

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Boat Cruise

The Nicoya Peninsula
The next morning, we take a 3.5-hour drive to the Nicoya Peninsula. The Gulf of Nicoya is separated from the mainland & is surrounded by the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean, the area here has beautiful coastal scenery & numerous national parks. We reach the Punta Islita Hotel where we enjoy the next 2 nights. The Hotel is perched on a mountain outpost, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Within the hotel I could see & hear Howler monkeys in the grounds & beautiful, exotic birds close to my room. The scenery from my room was spectacular & even better when admired from my outdoor jacuzzi & hammock!

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Local Flight to Quepos.
Air travel from the ‘glamour’ days…we arrive at the airfield to see our local flight taxiing in. We are met by two pilots, who help us board a small plane with our luggage & advise us our trip will take approximately 30 minutes. Once we are in the air, we have the most breath-taking views. Our guide Juan Carlos described it as ‘Pura Vida’, a commonly used phrase in Costa Rica meaning “pure life”. The sheer beauty of Costa Rica warrants nothing less than this description. All too soon, we arrive in another beautiful part of Costa Rica – Manuel Antonio. This has to be my favourite part of this tour. Manuel Antonio is one of the smallest national parks in Costa Rica, but certainly one of the finest. Beautiful forests fringe beaches & dramatic rocky headlands. Within a short time, I see a Sloth in a tree right in front of me, I was so excited! I then spotted a family of Squirrel monkeys, Racoons, Scarlet Macaws & many more fascinating creatures. Walking at altitude within the national park offered superb ocean views & stunning vistas & it really is a paradise for lovers of the natural world.

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Our last two nights were spent at the El Parador Hotel, located in 12 acres of gardens & a forest Peninsula on the Central Pacific Coast. My ‘Tropical’ room has a balcony overlooking the rainforest with views of the Ocean. On my way to dinner I spot another Sloth sitting calmly (do they have any other mode?) in a nearby tree. Everyone gathers around to take a look at this wonderful creature. We have a beautiful Costa Rican dish of Chicken and Rice overlooking the sea. A perfect way to end this ‘trip of a lifetime’. We say our goodbyes to our wonderful guide Juan Carlos & driver Orlando who have become like close friends during our time together. So many wonderful places, so little time! I can thoroughly recommend Cost Rica & Cox & Kings, of course – please get in touch & I’ll be very happy to help with any enquiries.

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My top tips for Costa Rica

1-Take a good quality camera. – a good camera especially one with a zoom lens will certainly help to get you the most amazing up-close photos of your personal favourite animals!

2 -Costa Rica is a tropical country so take a lightweight rainwear, in case of short (but maybe) heavy rainfall. Take lightweight clothing & cover up with long sleeves & trousers in the evening, to prevent any mosquito bites, sturdy & comfortable walking shoes are also a must.

3- When travelling within the National Parks, please do not be tempted to feed the animals. Certain foods & products can actually make them very ill. So, although you may think that you are helping it can actually harm them. Most wildlife will feed on naturally occurring foodstuffs & supplements are sometimes given to them by staff within the parks.

4- A tour in my personal opinion is the best way to see & experience Costa Rica. A great tour guide with local knowledge & expertise will make a huge difference to your trip.

5- Check with your GP regarding any up to date health requirements as depending on the areas you travel to within Costa Rica Malaria prevention maybe required. Take a strong insect repellent (with at least 50% DEET).

About the author:

Sue Lowe is a travel expert with extensive worldwide travel experience. As well as far-flung exotic destinations, Sue has special expertise on luxury & activity family holidays, & ski holidays.

Contact – sue@travelclubelite.com

0121 213 0012 x 205

www.travelclubelite.com

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Flying the ABTA Flag at this Year’s Travel Brit Awards!

Travel Club Elite was the proud recipient of the prestigious ABTA award for “Best Use of ABTA Branding” at this year’s Brit Travel Awards 2016.

10 Year Anniversary

The only award ceremony celebrating UK Domestic Tourism took place at Warner Leisure Hotels, Bodelwyddan Castle, North Wales on Sunday 10 July. Along with recognizing agents who support domestic tourism, the event, which celebrated its 10th milestone, provides the perfect opportunity to showcase the wonderful array of products on offer.

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Operators hosting the event included: ABTA, Bourne Leisure, Great Rail Journeys, Hoseasons, Shearing Holidays, Superbreak Airways, Visit Guernsey & Condor, Visit England and Newmarket Holidays.

The annual event began with a delicious Hog Roast followed by a fantastic array of fun and interactive activities designed to test and increase domestic product knowledge from archery and karaoke to giant table football and the suitcase packing challenge to name but a few!

The festivities were then concluded with a glitzy awards ceremony where Travel Club Elite claimed the glory winning “Best Use of ABTA Branding”. As an ABTA member for over 30 years, the award marked our success and pride in promoting this “Gold-Standard” marker for first-class service and security.

ABTA Award

“At a time of challenges & uncertainty, ABTA is a shining example of the best of British commerce & proof that we can be the best in the world. Certainly, we value our ABTA Membership more than ever & we hope & expect our association with this world-leading organisation will continue for many years to come.”

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7 Top benefits of NEILSON’S VOUNAKI BEACHCLUB

I was lucky enough to visit this delightful resort recently; here are some key reasons to add Vounaki to your holiday wish-list! I’ll be delighted to answer any specific questions you may have, or just for a general chat about the resort – Please contact me on 0121 213 0012 ext. 204 or zoe@travelclubelite.com.   Zoe Franklin.

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1: LOCATION

Just under a 3-hour flight from the UK & then a 40-minute drive from Preveza airport. Vounaki has an enviable position on the Greek Peloponnese & having made the 10-minute walk into the traditional village of Paleros, I felt like I was stepping into a scene from ‘Shirley Valentine’. Nestling in a large, sheltered bay makes the perfect spot for water sports (all included, but Premium packages have a supplement). Fair winds a-plenty for sailing & windsurfing, along with protected areas for safe kayaking. The bay is large enough for even the most enthusiastic water-skier to experience a full tow.

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2: ACCOMMODATION

Vounaki Beachclub has a range of room types and sizes to meet the needs of all pockets & parties whether singles, families or groups. Economy rooms (located furthest from the main hotel) look onto either the mountains behind, or over the resort & sea-facing. However, these have the benefit of being near to the kids’ club area & are great for families whose budgets may be stretched by the little ones! Closer to reception are the Club rooms which comprise of twin/doubles, mezzanines & interconnecting rooms. The block immediately nearest the reception hosts Premium rooms, which also have the 4 disability-adapted accommodations, with wet rooms.

I was pleasantly surprised with my room. The bathroom was large and modern with a huge ‘rainfall’ shower with power attachment – perfect for easing your aching muscles after a day of activities! All rooms have plenty of storage space for a 2-week holiday & with the added bonus of a fridge, to keep your drinks ice cold.

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3: SUSTENANCE!

Such an important part of any holiday, especially for the active. The Vounaki Beachclub main restaurant is in the main, al fresco. Here you can have a hot buffet breakfast from 7.30 to 10.00 (‘Continental’ available from 10-11) & buffet lunch between 12.30 and 2pm. Dinner, on inclusive nights, is also served here from 7.30 through to 9.30 pm. A wide selection of delicious dishes, to suit all tastes, with gluten-free options on offer. Any other dietary requirements can be catered for by the chefs, on request. A wonderful Greek lady called ‘Dimitra’ has worked in the restaurant for over 15 years & cooked us the most amazing fresh omelettes to order every morning.

A beach barbecue is available to book for one of the non-inclusive nights & will be a highlight of your trip.

The popular ‘Kirki Bar’, near the waterfront – (which we regularly frequented!) – offers a menu for non-inclusive nights, including fresh pizzas, pastas, salads & more. This beach bar also provides the location for a ‘mix & mingle’ gathering on the first night & happy hours daily, prior to dinner. The main bar is located next to the restaurant with a wide selection of soft & not-so-soft drinks, to suit all tastes.

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4: ACTIVITIES

This is where Vounaki comes into its prime. Two main pools – 1 adult-only & a family pool located next to the separate children’s pool. Nearby is the bike store, offering road & mountain bikes individually, or as part of group outings. Here you will also find the Temple Spa treatment rooms & gym & tennis courts. There are 2 tennis courts with Mark Petchey (Andy Murray’s former coach!) trained coaches available if required, or you can play freely in groups, if you prefer.

The water sports beach has an array of kit for you to use, as & when you choose – dinghies, sailboats, single & double kayaks, paddleboards, windsurfing along with water-skiing and scuba facilities. If you wish to make use of the water sports activities there is a ‘beach-briefing’ on Monday mornings. The Beach Manager will give you the low-down of the sailing area, the kit, the team and safety procedures. Buoyancy aids, helmets & harnesses are freely available.

This was my first experience of an activity holiday and I loved the fact that you are free to come & go as you please & not feel that you must take part in the group sessions – I actually became a huge fan of kayaking & can’t wait for my next chance to get out on the water again.

Group bike rides & tennis sessions are colour coded into four levels – Green = Beginners, Blue = Intermediate, Red = More Advanced & Black = High Level Advanced, so that you can easily choose the correct sessions for your ability.

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5: YACHTING

Vounaki has a large Yacht marina, with shop, that makes it the perfect base for Southern Ionian ‘stay & sail’ options, along with day charters and sunset sailings. The yachts on offer range from 2-8 berths.

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6: CHILDCARE

Neilson Holidays is renowned for its excellent childcare and Vounaki is no exception. The dedicated childcare centre covers 2 floors – downstairs being for the younger groups of Starfish, Sea Urchins, Surf Busters & Sharksters, with upstairs being for the older groups. Each room has indoor activities & age-appropriate facilities. You are able to sign your children in & out of the clubs as often as you wish throughout the day. Wave Riders & Tag Team sign up for their chosen activities at the main welcome meeting. Kids lunches are generally taken with the childcare team as is high-tea, where you are welcome to join them.

Watching the little ones around the resort with the childcare team made me realise how much this is part of the holiday enjoyment for all members of the family – parents can take part in their chosen activities safe in the knowledge that their youngsters are having fun in a safe environment & learning valuable, new, life & social skills too.

Each child is provided with a rash vest for sun protection & all of the little ones have a sun hat & drawstring bag to keep their kit together. All clubs operate as standard, even if there are only 1 or 2 children in resort & a special & welcome feature is that one-to-one child care can be pre-arranged for a small charge for children with special needs (subject to availability).

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7: RESORT STAFF

Neilson’s team at Vounaki made our stay just perfect! Panayiotis is the General Manager (Totis, when you’ve been introduced!) who presents the welcome meeting & is active around the resort during the week, mingling with guests & making sure everyone is happy & comfortable. Front of House Manager, Chloe, ensures all guests’ needs are looked after & any issues resolved without fuss. Simon is the Hospitality Manager, in charge of all of the food & beverage provision, so any dietary requirements can be discussed with him. All of these & heads of departments such as tennis, bikes, spa & water sports etc. introduce themselves to all guests at the welcome meeting & are always approachable around the resort.  The waiting staff & housekeeping team are all locals, who have great pride in working for Neilson & ensuring guests have the best holiday.

I honestly feel, from my experience, that Vounaki should be an addition to everyone’s holiday list – whether you want a beautiful resort that you can relax all week, lounging around the pool and enjoying the food & drink on offer or, if you want to take advantage of all of the sporting activities from dawn to dusk, this is the perfect resort for all.

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About the Author: Mrs. Zoe Franklin is a travel expert with over 30 years’ experience. Zoe has a special focus on family & activity holidays, weddings & honeymoons & worldwide travel. Recent travels include Cambodia, Vietnam, Ecuador & the Galapagos & family holidays to Greece. Zoe will be delighted to answer any travel enquiries on Neilson, or anything else that has beds, wheels, or wings!

Please call 0121 213 0012 ext. 204 or zoe@travelclubelite.com.  

Featured

Beaches Turks & Caicos & Sandals Grande Antigua – by Travel Club Elite’s Sandals Ambassador, Deana Manser

2 Caribbean Islands – 1 amazing, luxury-included experience!

I could scarcely conceal my delight at being recently named as one of just six Sandals Ambassadors in the UK!  Sandals is a product that has been close to my heart for all my years in the travel business – those idyllic white, sandy beaches, beautiful accommodation, first-class cuisine & service & an unrivalled array of activities & luxury, all included; I can’t imagine what first attracted me! I’ve been lucky enough to visit nearly all of the 15 of the Sandals and Beaches Resorts, but the icing on the cake of my Sandals appointment to Ambassador status was a special invitation to see aspirational Beaches on Turks & Caicos, with a stop-off at the stunning Sandals resort on Antigua.

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Beaches Turks & Caicos

Beaches Turks & Caicos certainly lives up to its name, with an incredible 12-mile stretch of white beach (reckoned to be one of the top 4 beaches in the world!) & the best diving in the Caribbean, beneath crystal clear, turquoise-blue waters. Whether you’re travelling as a family, group of friends, or as a couple, you could never tire of the exciting range of activities on offer. From the huge 45,000 acre Pirates Islands Waterpark, complete with lazy river, surf stimulator & waterslides for all ages, to Sesame Street & its favourite characters & parades, character breakfasts & walkabouts, you won’t be able to resist unleashing your own excitable inner-child to join the fun!

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This 5-star property is set out in four ‘Villages’, Caribbean, French, Italian & Key West all offering different room types, from Luxury, Concierge & Butler Levels & all types of room sizes, even catering for the largest groups of families & friends. The clever layout of the resort gives a feeling of space, but with access to all amenities close at hand.

Gourmets are in for a treat! Dining options cater to every taste, from beachside takeaway at the Jerk Shack, traditional British fayre at the English Pub, to world-class, a la carte dining at the Rooftop Restaurant amongst other options! Being a lady of simple tastes (just sometimes!), I must confess to sneaking off to Bobby Dees Diner, (really aimed at younger visitors) to enjoy the odd burger & fries! Fine dining wears you down, I don’t know how Her Majesty copes!

Sandals Grande Antigua

Next, a short hop from Turks to Sandals Grande Antigua. Consistently voted the most romantic resort, this resorts offers beautiful beaches, 11 sumptuous dining experiences & friendly, attentive staff to take care of everything you need to make this a holiday to remember.

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Antigua Beach

 

With British Airways now flying direct to Turks & Caicos twice weekly (Thursday and Sundays), with touchdown in Antigua, Island-Hopping is a popular choice for those looking to experience the best of two beautiful Caribbean Islands. I will be suggesting enjoying all the fun & action in Turks & Caicos & then relaxation at tranquil Sandals Antigua, ready for your direct flight home.

British Airways was at its brilliant best & I experienced the delights of Business Class, which I would recommend to anyone able to stretch their budget. A calming bubble of luxury, away from the stress of travel, with charming & friendly, unobtrusive service, with excellent food & wines. Definitely still the world’s favourite airline, as far as I’m concerned!

Group Photo

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Deana

You’re definitely in for the holiday of a lifetime at stunning Beaches Turks and Caicos and Sandals Antigua. A perfect single centre and definitely an even better island hopping experience. Why not treat yourself to two holidays in one.. If I can answer any more questions for you, please do not hesitate to contact me by calling 0121 213 0012 or email deana@travelclubelite.com As just one of six Sandals ambassadors in the UK, I can guarantee the best service, the best choice of rooms & flights & terrific value for money, often with exclusive extra savings & rewards.

Featured

Sandals La Source Grenada: Our Sandals Ambassador Deana’s Top 5 Tips for Making the Most out of Your Stay

The first-ever Sandals resort to open in Grenada, Sandals La Source Grenada Resort & Spa is a Caribbean treasure. From the moment you arrive at this unspoiled, couples’ hideaway, you’ll be caught up in the romance of the sweeping drive entrance, exquisite, tropical gardens & shimmering, clear pools, reflecting the beauty all around.

With just a five-minute transfer, you’re whisked from Grenada Airport into the grand reception, to be greeted with big Caribbean smiles, a welcome cold towel & a glass of champagne, just to set the mood!

Sandals Grenada is one of Sandals’ smaller resorts & becoming more popular with the Brits., as word spreads. Offering just 255 rooms, this secluded & peaceful haven will welcome you with open arms….

Here are my top five tips for making the most out of your Sandals stay:

  1. Where to Stay:

I recently stayed in one of the popular Rondoval Butler Suites, an oasis of tranquility hidden away behind the main pool, in the style of a thatched cottage! Exuding sophistication and style, this secret hideaway comes complete with a high, airy ceiling, spacious lounge area & a luxurious stone tub. Nestled within lush, private gardens, our two private balconies featured a magnificent infinity edge pool, overlooking the sparkling seas beyond & a tranquility soaking tub.

The biggest wow factor of this room category is the full Butler Service. If you are considering treating yourself…my tip is to do it! During our stay, we had 2 butlers assigned to us, both of whom offered personalised service & were always on hand, just a call away from my Butler Phone.

However, all room types offer very high standards & all have their bonus points.  The Pink Gin Village for ocean views, the Hideaway waterfall rooms, with their lovely mini pools.  There really is a room type for everyone. Please feel free to call, to discuss options.

Suite

 

Exceeding expectations? – certainly, with new surprises in my room every night; staff memorised how I liked my coffee, reserved our sunbeds & brought my favourite cocktail every evening. Helpful but not intrusive, Sandals Butlers understand the British reserve & will gently encourage you to make full use of their service; it’s their job, after all!

Butler_new

 

If you want to go all out and celebrate your honeymoon or any special occasion, I would highly recommend booking one of the magnificent Sky Suites.

The pinnacle of luxury, these suites offer the biggest wow factor over any other room types I’ve seen at Sandals Resorts. They feature the largest bedrooms, lounges and bathrooms I have seen, with two private balconies. One has the tranquility soaking tub & seating area, the other has a private infinity pool with the most magnificent views of the resort and ocean.  Plus, of course, full Butler service!

Sky Suite

2) What to do:

If you can bear to leave the picturesque sandy cove, undersea adventures await! Sandals has probably the best all-inclusive diving package in the Caribbean, for novices & qualified divers. This could be your big chance to get your diving certificate (at just $100 US, it’s a bargain!) with Sandals & once qualified, enjoy up to two free dives per day. Boats leave at 09:00 & 14:00, & are all included in your stay. For those focused on more relaxation, simply laze by the 2 fresh-water swimming pools, or the 2 river pools. Because of such ample provision of private & other pools, the resort & beach never seemed crowded. Rejuvenating Spa treatment are on hand, of course, as are tennis courts & and many other watersports.

Beach Grenada

3) Where to eat:

Butch’s Chophouse is a must for steak lovers. If the owner of Sandals has lent his name to this concept, you know it’s going to be something special!  You’ll love the tender steak & fresh lobster, it’s even served on special Butch’s China. A truly magnificent fine-dining experience, set against the lush Grenadian backdrop. The intimate lighting & gorgeous white twinkling lights, set on tree branches, make for the ultimate in romantic dinners. Be sure to make reservations as you’ll want to keep you coming back, night after night.

Overall the resort has an impressive 10 different dining options to choose from. My personal favourite for informal lunches on the beach was Neptune’s. With its breath-taking ocean vistas, they served fresh burgers, salads and jerk chicken. I also loved the Patisserie for my mid-morning & afternoon lattes served with the most tempting & delicious cakes & crepes. Go on, you’re on holiday!

Other restaurants included Soy (Sushi), Spices (buffet for breakfast and lunch & an à la carte Caribbean menu for dinner), Le Jardinier (French à la carte cuisine; serving breakfast & dinner), Cucina Romana (buffet breakfast & à la carte Italian for dinner), Kimonos (Oriental Teppanyaki) and Dino’s Pizzeria (Pizza).

Butchs Restaurant

4) What to drink:

You’ll enjoy Signature cocktails in the French Restaurant, Le Jardinier. With a rustic French theme, interiors are adorned with classic country furnishings & beautiful fresh flowers. My guilty pleasure was the Chocolate Shuffle (yes, I know…) & cocktails are served throughout the day.

Cocktails

5) How to chill:

The Living Room always has some live music, or quizzes, etc and the Tipsy Turtle Pub will make Brits feel at home. A traditional Pub encapsulating British culture, in all its glory. One of my most enjoyable evenings was sitting around the fire-pit in the sunken living room near the pool. The perfect ambience to enjoy your favourite drink, soak up the magic of the Caribbean   evenings & socialise with your fellow guests.

Evening entertainment

You’re definitely in for the holiday of a lifetime at stunning Sandals La Source Grenada. This is one of my favourite Sandals resorts. If I can answer any more questions for you, please do not hesitate to contact me by calling 0121 213 0012 or email deana@travelclubelite.com As just one of six Sandals ambassadors in the UK, I can guarantee the best service, the best choice of rooms & flights & terrific value for money, often with exclusive extra savings & rewards.

 

Dean_3

About the Author – Deana Manser is a travel expert, with specialist knowledge & experience of North America & the Caribbean & with a special focus on Sandals & Beaches holidays.

Featured

Chalet Hotel Le Val d’Isere – Mark Warner

warner

 

Chalet Hotel Le Val d’ Isere

Situated in France this resort is a firm favourite with the British and offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world.

With over 300 km of marked pistes and unlimited off piste skiing the Espace Killy area is dedicated to all aspects of skiing with 96 lifts across 10 miles.With it’s resort height and excellent snow conditions you can generally ski back to the heart of the village right until the end of April or sometimes the beginning of May.

The Chalet Hotel Le Val d’Isere is situated right in the heart of this chic resort in a perfect position for both the slopes, shops, bars and restaurants. It offers family, single & interconnecting rooms, TV’s in the bedroom, Wi-Fi, a swimming pool and an in-house crèche. Childcare includes Baby Club, Toddler Club, Mini Club, Kidz Club and evening Crèche Club.

Entrance to the chalet is via a keypad as is the ski locker and there is always a member of staff on reception during the day and evening security should you require any assistance.

We flew into Grenoble and had a 3 hour transfer up to the resort. Mark Warner staff were there to greet us and help with baggage on arrival. We had already been given our room numbers on the transfer and the keys were in the bedroom doors so no long check in we just walked into the Chalet and went to our room – fantastic service and very well organised by the team there.

Once settled we ventured out to pick up our ski rental equipment ready for the next day’s skiing. You can pre-book all your equipment through Mark Warner or book it yourself via the internet. We choose to book our equipment direct with Snowberry Ski Rental. The Chalet has a ski locker where you can leave your skis and poles although I would always recommend taking your ski boots to your room as the ski lockers can be cold and a little damp! You can get a padlock for your locker from the Mark Warner reception for a 5 Euro deposit so you know your skis are safe

You can also pre-book your ski lessons through Mark Warner should you wish, we however decided to book direct with Evolution2 for the intermediate lessons and I chose a ski clinic with Progression Ski. There are many difference ski schools and an amazing choice of lessons and clinics so do your research to get the most from your skiing.

We had pre-booked our ski passes through Mark Warner and these were waiting for us behind reception on arrival. They are electronic passes that fit into a pocket on the arm of your jacket and you just wave your arm at the ski barrier and it allows you to pass through.

Pre-dinner on the first evening we were invited to welcome drinks with canapes in the bar area where the Mark Warner team introduced themselves and made us feel very welcome indeed. The bar area is located near to the reception desk and has a television and comfy sofas to chill out on as well as board games and books.

bar

The restaurant is on the top floor overlooking the resort and overs great views of the town and the mountains behind. Mark Warner ski holidays include a hearty hot and cold breakfast buffet style, afternoon tea where you are tempted with home-made cakes, biscuits and a selection of cold meats and cheeses as well as homemade soups. Try not to eat too much of the afternoon tea however as you still have a 3 course evening meal with wine included in your holiday price! The food was excellent and there was always a vegetarian option on the evening menu. The evening meal is waiter service and the wine was really good – the perfect way to refuel after a day on the slopes.

Tea and coffee is available in the restaurant all day and you can grab a mug to take back to your room if you prefer.

meal

 

The bedrooms in the Hotel Chalet Val d’Isere are fairly basic but our bathroom has recently been refurbished and was very nice indeed with both a bath & shower plus a heated towel rail. We had a television which showed a couple of British channels and a safe to lock away your passports and valuables whilst out on the slopes (N.B The safe is not big enough for an IPad)

Our room (number 42) was at the front of the Chalet and was therefore a little noisy first thing in the morning as the resort sparked into life!

Our room was cleaned every day except Thursday where the team just popped in to empty the bins and leave new loo roll! The rooms were clean and ours had a balcony.

room

 

 

Thursday was the Mark Warner teams night off and therefore we ventured into the resort for dinner. I had asked the reception team to book me a good fondue restaurant which they did. La Casserole restaurant was just a few minutes walk from the Chalet and the service and fondue were both excellent.

Summary of the Accommodation:
Basic accommodation but with good facilities and excellent food. The location of the Chalet is perfect for both the resort and the skiing and the team working there were incredible, nothing was too much trouble and they were always on hand. There is a bus stop outside the Chalet and this free bus service around the resort runs every 4 minutes during the day and less frequently into the evening but is a great way to get around the resort with your skis or for a drink in the evening in another part of Val d’Isere.

Summary of the resort:
We had incredible snow and sunshine and took to the slopes for 6 days of amazing skiing. We travelled in March and outside of the British and French school holidays so there was no queuing for the lifts and the slopes were fairly quiet as people spread out over the 10 miles of pistes available in Val d’Isere and Tignes. The only busy runs were back into the resort at the end of the afternoon, these we not for the faint hearted and became very bumpy and crowded so the option of coming down on the Solaise Express Chairlift, the telecabin or the funicular railway is worth remembering!
Skiing across to Tignes is easy and you have the option of catching the funicular railway and then cable car to the top of the glacier for incredible views across the alps and some amazing skiing all the way down to Tignes Val Claret. (One of the longest ski runs in Europe)

A couple of mountain restaurants to watch out for are La Folie Douce and Le Signal – both offering life bands and entertainment on the slopes. Check out their websites for more details.

Conclusion
I would definitely travel with Mark Warner again and I would certainly recommend the Chalet and the resort to skiers of all abilities and to single travellers, couples, families and groups.

ski

Featured

Top Tips for Single-Parent Holidays

 

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Travelling as a single parent can sometimes feel daunting, but with a little planning and the right advise a stress free holiday is only a phone call away.

New playmates, new experiences and new skills are a key part of a Mark Warner Holiday along with their famous childcare in both their sun and ski resorts.

For you there are plenty of activities from skiing to mountain biking, tennis to sailing to ensure you have just as much fun as the little ones with other like- minded adults. 

Childcare is a key element when travelling as a single parent so visit our blog where we discuss the top 10 questions asked about Mark Warner Childcare.

Top tips: 

  • Get your child(ren) to be involved in all of the decision making about the holiday especially if it is the first one you are taking as a single parent.
  • Remember that the childcare isn’t just to give you a break it also gives your child(ren) a break from you and the opportunity to meet new friends!
  • Book the childcare when you book the holiday so the place(s) are secured and then everyone knows what’s happening when they get to resort – this cuts down on anxiety for both you and the child(ren)
  • Look into the resorts ‘Adult Only’ zones so you can chill out and refresh your energy levels.
  • When you get to resort talk to other parents who have children in the Kids Club. Get their children to talk about the fun they are having as this will encourage your child(ren) to leave you and go with them. This really works if you have children who are nervous or anxious about going to the Kids Club.

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  • If you want your child(ren) to spend the evening with you rather than use the evening childcare, then encourage them to take a nap when you return to your room in the late afternoon. By keeping them up later you may also get a lie in the next morning!
  • Make friends on holiday with other single parents as well as two-parent families as it makes the holiday a really sociable experience for both you and the child(ren). Mark Warner invite single parents to a social dinner in resort with other people travelling alone with children – perfect for finding your feet, especially if this is the first holiday as a single parent as tips will be swapped and experiences shared.
  • With flexible eating arrangements you can choose to eat with your child(ren) some evenings and on others have quiet dinners with new friends taking advantage of early children’s dinners and evening childcare.
  • Ask for help if you need to pop to the toilet or go back to your room for something – other parents and staff will help you and it’s a great way to start a conversation with other holidaymakers.
  • Above all, relax and take advantage of the chance to reconnect with your child(ren) away from the pressures of daily life.
  • Travelling as a single parent with a child who had special needs can be even more daunting so remember Mark Warner offer special needs childcare at Levante Beach Resort, Lakitira Beach Resort and San Lucianu Beach Resort. They can offer one-to-one childcare. Please reserve at the time of booking as these places are limited and the childcare can sometimes split mornings & afternoons.

san-lucianu-childcare3

Remember we are here to hold you hand, and help you every step of the way.

Travel Club Elite are specialists in Mark Warner holidays and we bring our customers expertise, with financial security and service guaranteed by our 30 year ABTA membership (No. 82689).

Check out our Website for more information and HUGE SAVINGS on Mark Warner Holidays  and  our blog on the top 10 questions asked about Mark Warner Childcare or call us on 0121 213 0012.

 

Featured

Top 10 Questions About Mark Warner Childcare

Top 10 Questions Parents Ask About Mark Warner Childcare

Mark Warner pride themselves on the quality of their Childcare and their Crèches and Kids’ clubs are available in many of their chalet hotels and beach resorts.

Parents often tell us that if their children are having fun and smiling then they are happy and the holiday has been a success. We find Mark Warner excel in childcare programmes and that is why we are happy to recommend and book them to all our customers. We want you as parents to be able to relax safe in the knowledge that your children are enjoying themselves whilst being safely supervised.

As Mark Warner offer the same quality of childcare in all of their resorts it allows you to pick the resort that catches your eye and offers the other facilities you want i.e. tennis lessons, spa, cycling centres, fitness programmes, access to ski slopes and more..

 

  • What qualifications do Mark Warner nannies have?

    Mark Warner ensure their nannies are fluent in English, hold a First Aid Certificate, have a good swimming ability and are NNEB, CACHE, City & Guilds, BTEC National Diplomas or similar qualification or 2 years’ experience in a childcare environment. They must also have an enhanced disclosure through the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS).

     

  • What are the nanny: child ratios?Baby: 1:2

    Toddler 1: 1:3 

    Toddler 2: 1:3 (ski), 1:4 (summer)

    Minis: 1:6

    Juniors: n/a (ski), 1:12 (summer)

    Kidz:1:6 (ski), 1:15 (summer)

    Indy: n/a (ski), 1:20 (summer)

    Childcare

 

  • What is available in resort for those travelling with babies?Parents’ kitchens are available in resorts where Baby or Toddler clubs feature and include microwaves, sterilisers, a kettle, UHT whole milk & a fridge.

    In two resorts however rooms have facilities and milk is available from reception, restaurants, childcare centre or bars – Sea Garden Beach Resort & Levante Beach Resort.

    Where there is no kitchen in a ski chalet a preparation area is available to parents to prepare feed and wash bottles.

    Baby baths, high chairs, travel cots for under 2’s, potties, bed guards and booster seats for ages 2+ are available for loan in their hotels with Baby Clubs.

 

  • What does the evening childcare consist of?All resorts with childcare have a ‘sleepover’ drop-in evening service 7.30 to 10.30pm (or until 11pm on dine-out nights). Under-3s need to be settled in cots/rest beds before parents leave the childcare centre; kids 3+ can enjoy storytelling and a movie until their bedtime as advised by parents.

    In beach resorts, children booked into Junior Club (ages 6–9) have an hour of evening entertainment from 7.30pm, with games and quizzes, followed by a supervised movie. For those in Kidz Club (ages 10–13) and Indy Club, there’s evening entertainment, and in some resorts a supervised Kidz Club movie.

    Beach resorts have kids’ high tea at 5.30pm (supervised by parents), and for children using the entertainment Kidz Club and Indy Club, supervised dinners at 7.30/7.45pm and 7.45/8pm respectively.

    In ski resorts, there’s a supervised kids’ high tea at 5pm. For those in Kidz Club, there’s a supervised dinner at 7pm five nights a week during school holidays.

 

  • Is there in-room babysitting for those who don’t want to use the evening crèche?
    Yes but please book as soon as you reach the resort with the hotel childcare manager to ensure you get the babysitting slots you require. This service carries an extra charge.

 

 

  • What kind of activities do the children do?In Baby Club, indoor and outdoor activities include hand-painting, bubble-play and beach trips (or walks in ski resorts).

    In Toddler Club, the program might include treasure hunts, painting, play dough and construction, plus, in beach resorts, sandcastle-building, swimming, ice-cream trips and canoeing, and in ski resorts, snowman-building, sledging, cable-car rides and hot-chocolate trips.

    Mini Club (ages 3–5) has a similar program, but in beach resorts, the kids spend more time on the waterfront – this is the age when they begin sailing. In ski resorts, children booked into this club may be signed up to morning ski school, as well as doing the same kind of activities as Toddler Club. They may also do swimming in Les Deux Alpes.

    Junior Club (ages 6–9 in beach resorts) is essentially an introduction to the water sports program, with windsurfing and sailing lessons on alternate days, plus arts and crafts and quizzes. In Kidz Club (ages 10–13) and Indy Club (age 14–17) in beach resorts, children are kept busy with a mainly waterfront- and activity-based program focused on sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and team games.

    In Kidz Club in ski resorts (ages 6–12), children may be booked into half- or full-day ski school, with other activities including quizzes, games, snowman-building and sledging, plus swimming in Les Deux Alpes.

 

  • What age can children start specific activities?Ages 4-5 is the age most ski lessons start (or from 3 in La Plagne). The children will be taken to and from their ski lessons by the childcare team.

    In sun resorts, children spend time at the beach from Toddler Club onwards – ages 1 and 2 are taken out for canoe rides, while ages 3–5 add sailing to the mix. Ages 6–9 have progressive water sports lessons, with the aim by the end of the week to be able to sail a boat.

    Except at the Sea Garden, the beach resorts also have tennis lessons at extra charge for ages 3+.

    MWski_skischool

 

  • What do kids need to bring to crèche/kids’ club?
  • A named bag for their belongings which must include a hat, swimwear or a ski suit, sunglasses and sunscreen (SPF 30+).
  • In ski resorts, kids also need waterproof gloves.
  • For Baby Club, nappies, nappy sacks, comforter, baby bottles, formula milk, wet wipes, bibs and a favourite toy. You can buy many of the items above in resort. In beach resorts, also bring swim nappies and a buggy.
  • For toddlers, nappies, nappy sacks, wet wipes, comforters, bottles/cups, a change of clothes, a favourite toy, and in beach resorts swim nappies and a T-shirt for the water.
  • For Mini Club in beach resorts, a towel, a confidence jacket/swimming aid, a T-shirt for the water, and waterproof shoes (reef type). Those in Junior, Kidz and Indy clubs should add a UV top and shorts.
  • In ski resorts, children 3 and up need helmets, snowsuits, boots, sunglasses, a lift pass if booked into ski school, a snack, tissues, a hat, waterproof gloves, lip salve and pocket money for a drink.
  • Les Deux Alpes has a swimming activity and therefore children over 3 need swimwear.

 

  • Do Mark Warner offer special needs childcare provision?Levante Beach Resort, Lakitira Beach Resort and San Lucianu Beach Resort can offer one-to-one childcare. Please reserve at the time of booking as these places are limited and the childcare can sometimes split mornings & afternoons.

 

At Travel Club Elite we are specialists in Mark Warner holidays and we bring our customers expertise, with  financial security and service guaranteed by our 30 year ABTA membership (No. 82689).

Check out our Website for more information and HUGE SAVINGS on Mark Warner Holidays.

 

 

Featured

Walking The US National Parks – By Guest Blogger Jo Rolls From Explore

As a tour leader for Explore for nearly five years, I was incredibly lucky to lead some fantastic walking tours from the easier, more picturesque trails, of Crete and Cyprus to the more strenuous and harsh environments of Kilimanjaro.  Once I moved into the office I still maintained that interest in our walking tours and have since walked the Lycian Way, sailed and walked the Island of Evia and now have the great pleasure of finding new destinations and creating the walking tours from scratch.

Walking is such a wonderful way to see a country.  Ground level, whether that be along the coast, through a forest or up a mountain gives you an insight into an area that driving around in a bus just can’t give you.  That feeling of the elements on your face – hopefully warm sunshine, but even cold winds or lashing rain – makes you feel alive and aware and in touch with the nature that surrounds you.  One such place, where this statement never felt more true, is on top of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park – part of the new Explore Walking the Western US National Parks tour.

Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park
Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park

Walking the Western US National Parks takes you to five of the most beautiful national parks in America; Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park and Canyonlands – all spectacular settings with a wealth of superb walking/hiking trails for you to explore.

I am very grateful for my lot in life and the opportunity to walk in all of the above parks. Grand Canyon blows you away with its sheer enormity and Bryce Canyon is bizarrely beautiful with the strange “hoodoo” rock formations and its stunning colour changes during sunrise and set. 

Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park

Canyonlands and Arches wow you with gravity defying natural rock bridges and weaving canyons but, for me, it is Zion National Park that is the jewel in the US national parks crown.

Arches National Park, USA
Arches National Park

The walks I have featured in the new tour are two of the best hikes I have ever completed, I only wish there had been more days available to put in others!  Angel’s Landing, mentioned previously, takes your breath away, both for strenuousness and sheer striking scenery.  Not for the faint hearted, there are some pretty stunning drops on the final stages up to Angel’s Landing itself, but to reach the top and stand looking out over the whole of the Zion Canyon beneath you, is a feeling not to miss. 

The Narrows
The Narrows, Zion Canyon National Park

The Narrows is completely different, but equally as stunning just in different ways.  Following a meandering river along the bed of a narrow slot canyon, The Narrows is only accessible during good weather and takes you, at times, into the river itself. The sheer walls of the canyon rise up around you and whereas Angels’ Landing gives you that “on top of the world” feeling, The Narrows can make you feel very small and humble in amongst its towering beauty.

If neither walk appeals to you then the hop on, hop off, park bus that stops at all the other trailheads (the same in Grand Canyon and Bryce canyon also) in the park is a great way to explore this amazing landscape.

It is absolutely no wonder that so many Americans chose to holiday at home, when you have grandeur and spectacular scenery on the sort of scale that you will experience on this new tour.

Explore Walking the Western US National Parks

10 days from £999pp land only or £1749pp flight inclusive – Plus 5% early booking discount on new trips from the Explore Walking & Trekking brochure until 16th Nov 15.

Correct 5.11.15

 

Featured

The Beachcomber Experience to Mauritius

beachcomber experience

By Maria Kibble, Senior Travel Consultant

Friday 2nd October 2015 I was privileged to join the Beachcomber Experience to Mauritius where I go to visit 8 beautiful hotels on the island. Let me invite you all to read my experience of it all. Myself and sixteen other agents flew overnight on the Air Mauritius direct service from London Heathrow, and arrived into Mauritius the following morning at 8am. This is where our first surprise experience took place.

We were treated to the Yu Lounge experience; as soon as you step off the plane, the lounge concierge will lead you to the very stylish lounge where you can freshen up, relax, have a nice cup of tea or coffee, or even a glass of champagne. Delicious light snacks are served to your table whilst your baggage and immigration formalities are taken care of. Prices for this facility start from £156 per person, depending on the season.

 

Shandrani Resort & Spa

Shandrani

Our first hotel inspection and overnight stay was at the ever popular Shandrani Resort & Spa. The Shandrani is surrounded by 70 acres of gardens, three beaches to enjoy, a fantastic spa, and plenty of free land and water sports. There are four restaurants to dine in, and the food is just amazing.

A warm welcome was received from the hotel manager Raphael, before we were taken to beautiful garden area and given our “Aprons”. We were then introduced to number of chefs, each specialising in a different work of art such as cake decorations, fruit sculptures, canapés and flower arranging. Little did we know at the end of each demonstration, we would have to try and replicate what each chef had made look so easy to do. It was hilarious, and really did make you appreciate how talented the Chefs were!

 

Trou Aux Biches

Trou Aux Biches

Our second hotel inspection was at the beautiful Trou Aux Biches, where we spent 2 nights. Situated on the west coast near the lively Grand Baie and Port Louis, it is one of the best stretches of beaches in Mauritius. There are a total of 333 suites at this resort, including 27 two and three bedroomed Villas. Perfect for upmarket families and luxury weddings and honeymoons. Guests can choose from various board basis; Bed and Breakfast, Half Board or Full Board Plus. The hotel manager Fatima treated us to the most amazing evening BBQ, which took place in one of the Beach Front Senior Suites. Fatima, ensures that all her guests are made feel welcome, and nothing is ever too much trouble for her, however big or small.

During our stay at Trou Aux Biches, we went on an excursion to “Casela Adventure Park”, which is a great fun day out for both adults and children alike. There is a safari kingdom where you will see everything from hippos, lions, tigers to name but a few. There is a Nature Kingdom which has a children’s playground, an Avalanche Mine, Pony Rides and a Bird Park. The highlight of my day was the Mountain Kingdom, where the adrenaline really did reach its peak on the famous zip wire! This was an unforgettable experience and I was so pleased to go through with it.

 

Le Victoria Hotel

Le Victoria

Our third hotel inspection was the Le Victoria Hotel. All 254 rooms look towards the Ocean, and there are three restaurants to enjoy. Everyday there is a set activities programme which children aged between 3 and 12 can dip in and out of at the complimentary services of the Bob Marlin Mini Club. The opening times for the Mini Club is 9am until 10.30 pm seven days a week. This enables them to not only enjoy the Club, but also spend some time with the family whenever they choose.

 

Le Canonnier Hotel

Le Canonniers

Our fourth hotel inspection was the Le Canonnier Hotel, just a short drive from Grand Baie. The hotel boasts a stunning view overlooking the Indian Ocean towards a number of inlets. Le Cannonier has a fantastic Wellness Centre which is built around the branches of a huge, ancient Banyan Tree. I had a lovely complimentary Hand Massage, and would have been very happy to stay there all day, but hey, this experience was classed as “work”. We had lunch at Le Canonnier, which was prepared by the very talented Chefs who cooked a selection of sumptuous dishes.

Le Canonnier has 104 Standard Rooms which are either sea or garden facing, 112 Superior Rooms, 20 Family Apartments and 4 Honeymoon Suites. There are 3 restaurants to choose from, a la carte, international buffet and Italian cuisine.

 

Le Mauricia Hotel

Le Mauricia

Our fifth hotel inspection was the Le Mauricia Hotel, just a short walk along the beach to Grand Baie. Le Mauricia gives guests the best of both worlds, as they can be as relaxed as they wish and enjoy the beautiful beach, or explore and enjoy the shops and nightlife in Grand Baie. It is a perfect for young couples, families and honeymoons.

We had an amazing lobster meal on the beach in the evening, and were entertained by Mauritian musicians before lighting Chinese lanterns and sending them out to sea with a special wish. I am sure we all made the same wish, and that was to return again soon!!

 

Royal Palm Mauritius

Royal Palm

Our sixth Hotel inspection was the world famous Royal Palm Mauritius. This was the very first hotel in the Indian Ocean to become a member of the leading Hotels of the world, and continues to be today! The Royal Palm offers 69 intimate Suites, including 3 Presidential Suites and 1 Royal Suite, set on the most beautiful stretch of beach, and in close vicinity to Grand Baie.

The Royal Palm offers the most superb cuisine from an array of internationally recognised chefs. There are three restaurants to choose from, and a fantastic Spa by Clarins. This is the most beautiful hotel I have ever visited, and to describe it in one word “WOW”.

 

Paradis Hotel & Golf Club

Paradis

Beachcomber really did pull out all the stops and treated us all to a helicopter ride to our seventh hotel, the Paradis Hotel & Golf Club. The Paradis is a premier resort surrounded by 5kms of beautiful beach, and has a superb 18 hole golf course. There are beautiful deluxe rooms and suites, as well as 12 executive villas and 1 presidential villa. The Paradis Hotel and Spa features truly a picture perfect beach and crystal waters.

We were taken on a magnificent catamaran sunset cruise for unsurpassable sights of our surroundings, where we were fascinated to see dolphins playing away in their natural habitat. As we sipped our champagne and watched the sunset, we all looked at each other in total silence, knowing just how lucky we were to experience this.

 

Dinarobin Hotel Golf & Spa

Dinarobin

Our eighth hotel inspection and 2 night stay was at the Dinarobin Hotel Golf & Spa, which is located along the beach from the Paradis. Golf Buggies run every 30 minutes between the two hotels, where there is a choice of 8 restaurants to choose from between the two hotels. The Dinarobin has a total of 172 suites, including 3 Villas. Guests can enjoy an abundance of land and water sports as well as a fantastic Clarins Spa.

Our last full day in Mauritius was very special, as we helped to plan a wedding at Dinarobin. The culinary skills we learnt on our first day approved to be more than helpful, as we had to make the bride’s bouquet and groom’s button holes, as well as decorate the wedding cake and make canapés. The fake wedding took place on the beautiful beach, and it brought home how privileged we are to actually arrange our clients special day.

I am now totally confident in selling Beachcombers eight hotels in Mauritius, and look forward to arranging many dream holidays and weddings in the very near future. I cannot thank Beachcomber enough for this everlasting memory, many tears of joy and surprises along the way, and look forward to sharing these with my past and future clients.

For more information about any of these hotels in Mauritius, please call directly on 0121 213 0012 or visit us at Travel Club Elite! A quick call, or e-mail to Travel Club Elite could bring you huge savings!

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Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands – My trip of a lifetime – Part One

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By Senior Travel Consultant Zoe Franklin

Early September saw the start of a trip I had been longing to take – the trip of a lifetime that few have the privilege of experiencing – the amazing destination that is the Galapagos Islands. I was part of a group that were invited by Cox & Kings and Avianca Airlines to visit Ecuador, the Galapagos and Guayaquil – and for this opportunity I cannot thank them enough. We flew from Heathrow overnight via Bogotá to Quito and I was extremely pleased with the aircraft, seat pitch, service and staff of Avianca. A 6 hour layover in Bogotá gave us the excuse to use their executive lounge and sample the delights on offer – including a luxurious shower to freshen up and to make use of the Wi-Fi!

Day 1

On arrival in Quito we were met by the team from Metropolitan Touring who were to be our guides for the 3 days of our stay here and the rest of the trip. Our luggage was taken straight to our hotel – The Hilton Colon – whilst we made the 40 minute journey along the new quick route highway to the city. The 5* Hilton Colon is of typical corporate design and is in the newer business area of Quito across the road from El Ejido Park – this is a large public park that comes alive at night with music, games and general merriment. We had a wonderful lunch provided by the hotel with a chance to savour some local dishes before a guided tour of the hotel facilities. A local market provided an afternoon of Ecuadorian culture and gave us the chance to spend some of our dollars! Entrance to the club executive lounge of the hotel was greatly appreciated with complimentary drinks and snacks before we all headed to bed early for our full day of sightseeing ahead of us the next day.

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Day 2

An early start on a very sunny day put us in the mood to explore the sights of this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage city – We were going to experience the new tour on offer – ‘Quito like a local’. As we left the modern area we drove through cobbled streets with main squares, colonial buildings and into the ‘real’ Quito. The hugely impressive San Francisco Plaza or square was full of pigeons, with locals trying to pick them up and children (and a few of us!) running through them to make them all fly in sync and swarm overhead.

We visited many local artisans including a man who painstakingly restores religious statues. The main indoor market was alive with locals shopping for their meat, fruit and vegetables – chickens with feet and heads still on and full cows feet! Women who heal through the use of herbs and medicines have stalls in here and the one we were introduced to is well renowned in Quito and is constantly fully booked – she gave a demonstration using nettles and various other herbs to cleanse one of our group (not sure if the nettle stings have gone down as yet!) Everywhere we walked the steeply undulating streets were full of old ladies – many toothless but all smiling – dressed in traditional attire and selling their wares.

No city tour is complete without a church visit and this was no exception. La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús or ‘Church of the Society of Jesus’ is one of Ecuador’s most beautiful baroque churches with every inch of the interior encased in gold leaf – photographs unfortunately are not allowed.

From here we visited one of the Leading Hotels of the World – the Grand Plaza Hotel which overlooks Independence Square and the presidential palace. Here we were served a delicious lunch of local fayre followed by a dessert flowing with dry ice and brought to us by a purple hooded ‘cucuruchos’ – quite disturbing for the children on the next table! The lovely homely Casa la Ronda, located on one of the oldest streets in Quito is a wonderful place to stay. 22 suites have been created in this former residence and it has an enviable rooftop room with outstanding views out over the city and to the Virgin Mary statue on the highest hilltop.

The general manager Maria is an asset to this hotel who enjoys nothing more than sitting down for a drink with her guests discussing their Quito experiences. After an enlightening presentation on the making of chocolate, from the harvesting of the cocoa beans to the final finished article (that we greatly appreciated sampling) came the highlight of the day. We took a drive north to Mitad del Mundo – Middle of the Earth – a fantastic educational centre and monument that straddles the Equator line – many photos in various poses were taken by the group to document our visit here, and we even got a certificate as proof!

Day 3

A very early start the next day took us to Otavalo, an old market town a couple of hours drive away. Many stalls were selling an abundance of handmade jewellery & trinkets, wooden and seed ornaments, rugs, clothing and scarves made from baby alpaca – this felt a lot more set for tourists than locals though. From here we made a quick stop at a local hacienda before heading to the Hacienda Zuleta – what a place!

An hour or so drive through the mountains off the main highway brought us to this stunning property. A beautiful cobbled courtyard surrounded by whitewashed buildings with horses to ride, tracks to follow, cows to milk and bears to spot. They have a Condor enclosure where they have a conservation programme with breeding pairs that they are trying to reintroduce into the wild – an egg was due to hatch any time and they are hoping this will begin the process. After an impressive lunch and tour of the estate we said our goodbyes and headed the 3 hours back to Quito.

Our hotel for this 3rd night was to be the Casa Gangotena – a stunning, large historic mansion set on San Francisco Plaza with 31 boutique rooms and original Italian architecture. A definite must for a stay in Quito, with a great location, friendly staff and extremely large beverages!

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Day 4

A 4am start was well and truly accepted as this was the day we were heading to the Galapagos! A slight flight detour was required due to the amber alert for Cotopaxi volcano – located only 60km from Quito this striking scene of ash cloud spitting from the summit could be seen for miles and viewed extremely well from our plane windows. We arrived on San Cristobel Island mid-morning after flying from Quito via Guayaquil. It still felt quite surreal to think I was actually in the Galapagos! We left the previous Metropolitan tour guide, Adrianna, in Quito and now had Klaus in tow – he began his career with them as a tour guide and is now Product Manager – what he doesn’t know about the Galapagos you don’t need to know!

The transfer from the quayside to our boat for the 5 day cruise – MV Santa Cruz – took just 5 minutes in a panga/zodiac dinghy speedboat (once we had mastered the art of life jackets) and these became our mode of transport many times during our trip.

Boarding our boat was extremely easy and we were greeted by the crew and shown to our cabins – followed very shortly by our luggage. The cabins were small but completely adequate with plenty of under bed storage for cases. Oddly though there are no keys for the cabins – however, we surprisingly got used to this very quickly and it was nice not to carry anything around with you. We had the obligatory life vest roll call and were sorted with wetsuits and snorkelling gear to keep for the duration of our cruise. An afternoon excursion to Punta Pitt was the highlight as we had our first close encounters, walking amongst sea lions, watching the blue-footed boobies & frigate birds and having lava lizards run past without a care in the world.

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Day 5

After a half decent night sleep and being woken early by the engines the next day started with a hearty breakfast. We headed out in our groups on the pangas towards Santa Fe Island – this is where we were expecting to see the majority of the islands endemic species however this was delayed by a chance sighting of a mother whale and her calf.

A detour was made for us to follow the movement of the whales and watch them hide underwater and be tracked by the footprint on the water and then to see the hump appear on the surface – an incredible sight to see and one we could have previously only hoped for. The excitement between us was immense and, as ours were the only boats in the area, we were able to manoeuvre close at every opportunity. Throughout the day we visited a couple of islands, experienced sea lion harems, baby seals, bright yellow and grey land iguanas, sally lightfoot crabs, many species of birds and many many more sea lions.

Snorkelling in this location was absolutely astounding – we were joined by sea lions, huge schools of brightly coloured fish and saw beautiful underwater rock formations bejewelled with sea urchins and ocean flowers.

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Join me next time as I delve further into my exploration into the wonderful Galapagos Islands! Alternatively, for more information about this tour, please call directly on 0121 213 0012 ex. 204 or visit us at Travel Club Elite! A quick call, or e-mail to Travel Club Elite could bring you huge savings!

Take a look at part two of my trip to the Galapagos Islands as I venture deeper into the stunning surroundings.

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Disney World And Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida.

Orlando is a world-class, exciting and safe destination that collectively offer more than 150 attractions, at its world famous theme parks. It’s the perfect destination for travellers of all ages with golf, shopping, spas and world-class cuisine right on your doorstep. We take a look at the history of Orlando, and run the microscope over some of the best attractions to visit on your trip.

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The History Of Disney World, Florida

In 2015, it’s easy to see why someone would choose Orlando, when building a tourist attraction – it’s a mecca for holidaymakers the world over, and you’d be guaranteed to pick up some visitors by default. But back in 1971, when Walt Disney was looking to create his Disneyland dream, Orlando was predominantly a swampland.

So why would Mr Disney try and build his new theme park on a swamp? The reasons were, the year round climate, the new road connections (Interstate 4), and the fact that it cost him $180 an acre to purchase much of the land – throw in an airport close by, and voilà, the location was found.

But even with a great location, how would Walt Disney get round his swamp dilemma? He basically dug up the area that is now the Seven Seas Lagoon, and use the dirt to lay some solid foundations. When you’re walking into the Magic Kingdom, you’re actually on the second floor. The first floor is under your feet – it’s full of tunnels and buildings that allow cast members to move around the lands without being seen.

Not long after, Universal Studios joined in, and between them have created a mix of attractions, entertainments, hotels and restaurants so vast, you need three holidays to do them justice.

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The Magic Kingdom

Every year, more than 17 million people from all over the planet, descend on the park to garner childhood memories and experiences. Here’s a quick overview of our favourites from each section. 

Fantasyland: The ‘Enchanted Tales with Belle’ ride, is a fun, meet-and-greet style experience, with Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s a small capacity show, offers a more personal touch, so it’s worth visiting early in the day to avoid the crowds.

Tomorrowland: You can’t head to ‘Tomorrowland’ and not ride the iconic Space Mountain rollercoaster. If you prefer something less white-knuckle, then Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin might be your thing. It’s a great indoor ride where you shoot laser pistols at targets to score points, and save the galaxy.

Main Street USA: Here’s where you’ll meet Mickey and Minnie in the ‘Town Square Theatre’ – it’s also the location for many of the parades.

Adventureland: Pirates of the Caribbean is the largest ride in the park, and bags of fun! It’s an excellent indoor ride for escaping the afternoon heat.

Frontierland: If you’re looking to relax in a dark, air-conditioned theatre, take in the ‘County Bear Jamboree show’. If your children prefer something more energetic, how about taking a raft over to Tom Sawyer Island, and letting them run around in the wooded play area.

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Epcot

Epcot is great as an educational theme park, and your children will be too busy having fun, to realise how much they are learning! The Epcot ball is still the main attraction, a ride that takes you through the ages, and lets you feel like you’ve travelled the world in minutes. The ‘Maelstrom’ is one of the more interesting choices, where you’ll find yourself riding through the Nordic Fjords, surrounded by trolls one minute, and sat in an English pub the next.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

For those interested in films, ‘The Studio Backdrop Tour’ is must see. The tour gives you an insight into how fire, and rain are created in films – expect the unexpected on this ride!

For the thrill seekers head to the Twilight Tower of Terror. As you enter the lift, you’re taken given a brief history of the haunted hotel, before plunging into total darkness – I won’t give any more away, it’s something you need to experience yourself. Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s is fun for all ages, and is sure to appeal to adults or children alike.

Universal Studios

Universal

At a breathless pace, there’s a chance you could visit both Universal parks in a single day, but to do that you’ll have to invest in an Express Pass. Without it, you’ll spend a good portion of that day waiting in line at the premium attractions. So allow two days, perhaps three; a day for each park and a “pick-up” day to return to your favourites at a leisurely pace.

Universal Studios appeals primarily to those who like loud, fast, high-energy attractions – generally teens and adults. Covering over 444 acres, it’s a rambling montage of sets, shops, and soundstages housing themed attractions, reproductions of New York and San Francisco, and some genuine moviemaking paraphernalia.

When Islands of Adventure first opened in 1999, it took theme parks attractions to a whole new level. If you’re a fan of Marvel Super Heroes, you’re going to be in your element.

The Future of Orlando

Orlando

The next few years will see the openings of I-Drive 360, an 80 Million pound entertainment complex, complete with a 400ft ‘Orlando Eye’. The mega makeover of Downtown Disney is also well underway, and the Disney Springs has been given a ‘soft’ 2016 date. New rides for Disney include, the Avatar 3D Movie Ride (including a 3D ride based on the movie) set for completion in 2017.

Granted, Disney is never going to everyone’s cup of tea, but the reality is, there is no place like it! It is somewhere where happiness prevails, the impossible becomes real, where technological advances, have created truly awe-inspiring rides, and most importantly where dreams really do come true!


For information on Orlando, Florida holidays or any other USA requirements, then please call 0121 213 0012 or email our team on info@travelclubelite.com. We can provide you with a free, no obligation quote, and in most instances offer huge savings off most of the major tour operators, like Virgin, Funway, Thomas Cook. Club Med’s Sandpiper Bay, is the only all-inclusive family resort in Florida, and an exceptional choice nestled between Miami and Orlando.

Featured

Top 5 Club Med Tennis Holidays

Anyone for Tennis? It’s around this time every year that people in the UK start to experience tennis mania. We’ll be dusting off those rackets, stored in the loft for the last year, and trying to emulate our heroes at Wimbledon. I’m an average (at best) tennis player, and I know I’ll never scale the dizzy heights of the professional tennis world, but getting out, hitting a few balls, and combining my limited skill with a good fitness workout, is something I find enthralling.

How about flying to a fantastic tennis resort, whilst enjoying free group tuition as part of the package, and learning (or developing) the great game of tennis – Interested? For all of you engulfed in Wimbledon mania, here’s Club Med’s marketing maestro Jack Lambert’s top 5 tennis resorts.

Sandpiper Bay, Florida

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This is the only all-inclusive resort in Florida and located perfectly between Orlando and Miami. Designed with the active family in mind, the fantastically named ‘Sandpiper Bay’ is home to a world-class tennis academy.

The professional academy is led by Gabe Jaramillo, who’s actually the the ex-coach of Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, Anna Kournikova and Andre Agassi – he’s actually coached 8 number 1 tennis players, and a whopping 26 players who have been inside the top 10 world rankings. With 20 tennis courts and this kind of expertise, you know you’re in good hands.

What’s the price? Departure 26/09/15, 7 nights, London departure, Club Room = £1159pp

Palmiye, Turkey

Palmiye

Fancy perfecting your Tennis serve, whilst enjoying the stunning Taurus Mountains as a backdrop? If the answer is yes, then you’d love Palmiye! The resort looks out onto the Bay of Kemer, and is renowned for its exceptional tennis facilities – the academy has 11 synthetic grass courts, 1 hard court and 1 practice wall.

Club Med’s appeal is the all-inclusive price – flights, meals, drinks, childcare, evening entertainment and all the club facilities. Palmiye is one of Club Med’s most popular resorts, with a large swimming pool, exceptional spa and award winning children’s clubs.

What’s the price? Departure 11/10/15, 7 nights, London, Club Room = £875pp

Opio en Provence, France

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Behind the iconic city of Cannes, lies a resort that shows the more intimate side of Provence. Enclaved between olive groves lies Opio en Provence, and its 13 synthetic tennis courts, 5 of which are floodlit. As with all Club Med Resorts offering tennis facilities, the branded equipment is of the highest quality. Beginners and the more advanced are welcome, and the resort caters for each individual’s ability – what better way to release your inner Sampras?!

What’s the price? Departure 08/05/16, 7 nights, London, Club Room = £749pp 

Kamarina, Sicily

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Kamarina is located outside Ragusa on the southwest coast of Sicily. This family village is set amid olive trees and beside a sandy beach. The appeal for tennis enthusiasts is the 21 red-clay tennis courts (6 with floodlights), 2 hard courts and 2 with a synthetic grass surface – the group classes are included in the price.

Other land sports include a circus school with a high trapeze and archery, volleyball, and cycling. Water sports available are sailing, windsurfing, and kayaking for all levels. Kamarina is a great choice for families with children of all ages.

What’s the price? Departure 14/05/16, 7 nights, London, Club Room = £559pp

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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If you combine luxury, a gourmet ensemble of food, 14 cracking tennis courts (12 soft and 2 hard, 9 of which are floodlit) a practice wall and loads of other sports for your enjoyment, you get Punta Cana – it’s a sports enthusiast’s dream, especially if you love tennis. If you’re still unsure of this amazing resorts credentials, the legendary Rafael Nadal used Punta Cana in 2013 as his base for the Miami Open – nice! 

Also at Punta Cana, you have the amazing ‘Creactive’, and its 30 acrobatic and artistic activities created for both adults and children. The expert staff (Gentils Circassiens) are trained by the world famous Cirque du Soleil.

What’s the price? Departure 03/11/15, 7 nights, London, Club Room = £979pp 


If that information didn’t whet your tennis appetite, then nothing will! With over 80 resorts worldwide, you’ll struggle to find a better all-inclusive tennis experience, than on a Club Med holiday.

Club Med offers an exceptional all-inclusive package, award winning children’s clubs, gourmet food, and loads of sporting activities for you to have a go at. CLICK HERE to read more about Club Med holidays. For more information call 0121 213 0012 or email: info@travelclubelite.com. All prices correct as of 08/07/2015.

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Neilson’s Phokaia Beachclub – Part 1

By Emily Howard

Travelling down to the airport, the excitement of my first ever Neilson Holiday  experience started to kick in. I was lucky enough to be jetting off to Phokaia Beachclub, which is actually one Neilson’s larger resorts. The popularity of Turkey has grown immensely in recent years, mainly due to its first-class beaches, astonishing history, friendly happy people and great cuisine – it’s easy to see why so many British tourists return here year on year.

Phokaia Beachclub is located just 2km from the quaint port town of Eski Foca, and set around two bays. They are known locally as ‘Big Sea’ and ‘Little Sea’, and the famous ‘Siren Rock’ mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey can be seen across the bay of Foca.

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“Spacious ‘Club Rooms’ with stunning views”

After a comfortable 1.30hr transfer into the resort, I checked into a spacious ‘Club Room’ situated in the main hotel. The room was spotlessly clean, complete with all the necessary amenities including; air conditioning, drinking water, beach towels, hair dryer, flat screen TV and a fridge. Upon opening my balcony I was met with panoramic views of the Aegean Sea – the perfect way to start each day, simply glorious

The immaculate 50m Olympic-size swimming pool is the focal point of this spacious resort, and due to its size, it never seemed crowded. The surrounding garden rooms and villas are located down winding paths, that lead to a beautiful stretch of sand and shingle beach. Ample sun loungers around the pool area and beach front, eliminating the need to be up at dawn to reserve your place in the sun.

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“Superb staff and first-class facilities”

I was positively overwhelmed by the vast array of exciting water and land activities on offer at the Phokaia Beachclub; The biggest challenge was actually finding the time to schedule them all in – you could spend 2 weeks here and still have plenty to do.

The breakfast was also impressive, with a buffet offering a choice of omelettes, pancakes, fresh fruit and continental options – delicious! I began my first day with a 30-minute yoga class in the fitness area near the pool, and the instructor was enthusiastic and offered options to suit all fitness levels. It doesn’t matter what your level of ability is, the classes are tailored to maximise your enjoyment.

Fitness Pool

“Kayaking was a short term struggle, for long terms gains”

Next on the agenda, was an enthralling group kayak that led across the bay, towards a small island just off the coast. It gradually became apparent that the island was much further away than first appeared, so it turned into a fun, adventurous workout that offered beautiful views back across the bay – well worth the effort.

Water sports equipment (fantastic quality and extremely well-maintained) is readily available on the beach front for guests, and the beach bar offers plenty of options if you want a hard earned drink – ice cold ones being my personal preference!

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“Exhilarating water-skiing experiences”

One thing you may not have read about in the brochure is the famous ‘Booze and Balls’ event. This self-explanatory exercise involves beer, rackets and tennis-related games. This was a great opportunity to mingle with the other guests and was completely relaxed – no skill required!

On my final day, one of the pre-booked slots freed up, so I took my chances and decided to give water-skiing a go. After a brief lesson on basic techniques, I imagined riding the waves in expert fashion looking like I’d done it all my life – the reality however was very different, with me hanging on for dear life looking scared stiff. The experience was fantastic and I found the staff to be extremely friendly, patient, and committed to ensuring I got the most out of my new sport.

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If you love water-sking, then Phokaia Beachclub is one of best resorts in Europe for you. The sea here is much calmer, which is essential when getting the most out of this fantastic sport. An exhilarating experience and one which I would definitely recommend. Took a few comedy falls, with my water skis flying off in all directions, but I soon got the hang of it.

Sunset

Click here for part two


We hoped you enjoyed reading about Emily’s trip to Neilson’s Phokaia Beachclub as much as we did! We’ll have part 2 coming soon, featuring more activities, resort information, and bike rides into the local town.

Emily and Glenn would be delighted to speak to anyone about their visit to the resort, and you can contact them on on 0121 213 0012, or send an email to glenn@travelclubelite.com / emily@travelclubelite.com. Prices from £565pp* (*based on 03.10.15 departure from Gatwick, price correct as of 23.06.15)


Featured

Chalet Hotel Le Val d’Isère – Mark Warner

“Go faster! Don’t forget to snow plough”, my ski instructor Fabrice shouts.

It is the middle of April and nearing the end of the ski season. The snow is still falling in the French resort of Val d’Isere, as skiers whizz past each other on the highest peaks, no doubt working up an appetite for a champagne lunch (it’s very common in Val d’Isere).

I spent four days learning to ski courtesy of Mark Warner at Hotel Le Val d’Isere, experiencing all of what the French Alpes has to offer. The minute I arrived at reception, I was greeted by friendly staff who kindly took my luggage to my room.

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The rooms were clean, lovingly decorated in traditional French chalet décor, the luxurious bathrooms at Chalet Hotel Le Val d’Isere are all brand new, boasting a fabulous power shower which, trust me, feels like heaven for your muscles after a long day on the slopes! The rooms have plenty of storage and options of a double or twin; some rooms also have a balcony, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and pistes – the perfect way to begin your day.

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Mark Warner hotels are renowned for their excellent food, and each night I was sampling the very best French cuisine, from spicy lamb shank to fresh onion soups. The medieval style restaurant is tucked away on the 4th floor of the hotel so guests can take in the tremendous views of the resort and mountains whilst sipping on hot coffee.

The restaurant offers a fresh buffet breakfast every morning, with pastries, French breads, cereals, jams, and hot drinks all laid out. You also can also tuck in, like I did, to a cooked breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon and hash browns – the fuel I needed to begin my morning skiing.

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One of the best things about booking a Mark Warner holiday is that you don’t have to walk far to reach the slopes. The ski hire and boot fitting shop is next door to the hotel, with the nursery slopes a five minute walk from the hotel – the locker rooms are located next door to reception. Val d’Isere, along with Tignes, makes up the gigantic Espace Killy ski domain in the Tarentaise Valley.

With 45 ski lifts, 76 ski trails and over 300km of pistes, it is easy to see why the resort is so popular with visitors all over the world. There are blue, green runs for beginner skiers, red runs for intermediates and tricky black runs for experienced skiers.

Val D'Isere Ski

Despite nearing the end of the ski season, the snow cover in Val d’isere is fantastic – although the same couldn’t be said for my skiing skills. You can book ski lessons with Mark Warner, with many lessons taking place throughout the day for beginner and intermediate skiers. The more experienced skiers can always to choose their own routes with the help of a guide.

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On my first lesson, I learnt how to snow plough (how to slow down and control your speed on the runs) and turn. Fabrice, my instructor, has been skiing since he was six years old. He told me that Val d’Isere is one of the best resorts for learning to ski.

“No other resort compares, the runs are smooth and snow cover is always excellent”. Fabrice explains. Once you’ve mastered the basic skills it becomes easier, I can’t recommend it enough.

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The resort also boasts numerous shops, pretty cafes and bakeries so there is plenty to do off the slopes. The bustling nightlife is appealing too, the most popular bars are the ‘Moris Pub’ and the ‘Pacific Bar’ – these get busy after 10pm most evenings.

One night, in the Moris Pub, the whole bar was treated to free drinks by a UK online gamer, who just sold his company for several hundred million! Several magnums of the finest champagne were downed, with no problem whatsoever. Ah well, when those lottery numbers come up…

One restaurant/bar ideal for apres-ski and a hearty lunch is the Folie Douce which sits at the top of the Dallie Cable Car in Tignes. Its selection of gourmet dishes and fruity beers are second to none, and you can watch dancers and musical acts perform whilst eating lunch.

Hotel Moris

If you prefer a quieter apres-ski experience, you can opt for afternoon tea at the hotel – Le Val d’Isere provides a selection of scrumptious cakes and biscuits. What’s more, you can take a dip in the outside heated pool, or relax in the lounge, and enjoy a beer and some board games.

Situated in one of the best ski location in the world, Mark Warner’s Hotel Le Val d’Isere provides the perfect ski experience for families, couples and groups alike. Hotel Le Val d’Isere may be more compact than most hotels in the area, but it certainly makes up for it with a huge impression.

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From gourmet food and extensive facilities to stylish accommodation, and first class staff – you’ll be taken care of the moment you arrive. I had a fantastic time learning to ski and sampling to very best of what Hotel Le Val d’Isere has to offer – A wonderful experience.


For huge savings on Mark Warner’s Hotel Le Val d’Isere, then call Travel Club Elite on 0121 213 0012, email: info@travelclubelite.com or send us an enquiry. Prices currently from £859pp, based on a Jan 3rd 2016 departure. Prices correct as of 04/06/2015.


Featured

The New Neilson Hotel Escapade – Alpe D’Huez, France

So the Neilson Hotel Escapade in Alpe D’Huez, France is now available to book through Travel Club Elite, and we are loving the look of this new ‘Mountain Collection’ property. We managed to grab a few minutes with Paul Deadman, a man who has been fortunate enough to visit the Escapade, and get the the ‘lowdown’ on this exceptional new chalet hotel.


Travel Club Elite: Hi Paul, can you tell us a little more about your role at Neilson?

Paul: Hi Travel Club Elite, certainly! I am the Content Manager for Neilson and I write the brochures and look after the website. This does unfortunately mean that I need to visit the places we offer, so that I can do a good job of writing about them. It’s a hard job but someone has to do it!

Travel Club Elite: Sounds like torture! So why should you book a Neilson Ski Holiday?

Paul: How long do want this interview to be?! There are many reasons, but the main ones would be that the service you’ll receive from our overseas teams is exceptional. The feedback we consistently receive gives us some of the highest customer satisfaction scores I’ve seen in my 12 years in travel.

Al

Travel Club Elite: Tell us about the Neilson Mountain Collection; we’ve seen the video and it looks amazing, but in your opinion what makes it stand out?

Paul: The Mountain Collection is our great range of hotels and catered chalets across Europe. They’re all run and managed by us and include relaxed atmospheres, great staff and fantastic food to fuel your day. The stand out thing for this season is our new Neilson Mountain Expert service, which gives free guiding & coaching. No other company currently includes guiding and tuition from qualified instructors as part of the holiday – so we’re very proud to be offering the service for our customers.

 

Travel Club Elite: The Hotel Escapade is the latest addition to the Mountain Collection. Tell us more…

Paul: It’s a smallish hotel with just 28 en suite rooms so it’s kind of like a big chalet. The rooms sleep up to four people so it’s good for groups and families, and the cosy bar area is perfect for some laid back après. It also has a large ‘slopeside’ sun-terrace to soak up the views of the mountains.

Neilson Hotel Escapade

Travel Club Elite: Why is it important for skiers to have a hotel that’s ‘slopeside’?

Paul: Convenience! If you’ve walked in ski boots before you’ll know it’s not the easiest thing to do, so cutting out that uncomfortable walk will be high on any skiers’ wish list. The slope that runs past the Escapade is gentle too, so skiers and boarders of all levels can ski right up to the bar!

Travel Club Elite: Whilst we’re on the subject of bars, what’s it like at Hotel Escapade, and Alpe D’Huez in general?

Paul: The hotel isn’t huge and the bar is in proportion, but that’s what gives you a brilliant après atmosphere, which spills out on to the sun-terrace as well. There’s live entertainment from the Neilson team throughout the week – this really gets things going too!

Things calm down in the hotel after dinner but, if you’re still in the mood, Alpe D’Huez has plenty going on. The Old Town centre is only a couple of minutes walk away and you’ll be able to hop from bar to bar. There’s also the legendary Folie Douce bar if you want to be dancing in your ski boots until midnight!

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Travel Club Elite: Is this property child-friendly and good for families?

Paul: It is a good hotel for families as Alpe D’Huez is suited to kids of all ages, and we also have interconnecting rooms. Unfortunately there’s no Neilson-run childcare like we offer in Hotel Aalborg or across the valley in Les Deux Alpes.

Travel Club Elite: So, about this outdoor hot tub? What a great way to sooth those aching muscles after a long day!

Paul: Yes! You can’t beat an outdoor hot tub! That’s probably second or third on people’s wish list on a ski holiday, to be honest. Few things beat sitting in a toasty warm hot tub with your mates, surrounded by incredible snowy mountain scenery – It’s definitely a highlight of the week!

Alpe D'Huez Old Town

Travel Club Elite: For those not familiar with Neilson’s Club Board offering, what can a guest expect at Neilson’s Hotel Escapade?

Paul: So Club Board gives our customers a cooked and continental breakfast everyday, afternoon teas with warming soup, freshly baked cake and biscuits every day. You also get six four-course evening meals throughout the week.

We found that our customers like to eat out in the resort one night a week. We also found (secretly knew!) that everyone likes cake when they get back from skiing, so we changed our board basis to suit.

Travel Club Elite: I think everyone will appreciate coming back to some homemade cake! What are the rooms like?

Paul: Being a three-star hotel, it has nicely furnished rooms with simple yet tasteful décor and en suite facilities. We have either twin, double, triple or quad rooms, and the quads have bunks suitable for adults or children. Some of the rooms benefit from great views of the slopes too.

Neilson Hotel Escapade 2

Travel Club Elite: Any ‘hidden gems’ for people venturing to Alpe D’Huez?

Paul: It’s not that hidden, but the Sarenne is the longest black run in Europe at 17km! It’s not actually too tricky, but you do need to be a confident skier or boarder to tackle it. The views are incredible from the top of the Pic Blanc,  and it’s definitely worth taking a trip up in the cable car just to have a look. Also, try the L’Altibar over in the Altiport area. It’s perfect to have a little rest, catch some rays and watch the planes and helicopters taking off from the air strip.

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Travel Club Elite: Finally… Ski or snowboard?

Paul: Definitely ski. I tried snowboarding and it didn’t end very well – the snow gods were telling me something!!

A huge thanks to Paul Deadman for agreeing to give us the inside track on a fantastic addition, to the ultra-successful Neilson Mountain Collection. Reading about the Neilson’s Hotel Escapade has certainly made us want to get back out on the slopes!

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Neilson currently have £50 off per booking on their Mountain Collection, and a 2 for 1 lift pass deal. To take advantage of this great offer call 0121 213 0012, place an enquiry, or send us an email: info@travelclubelite.com


Featured

Which Canary Island Holiday Is Right For You?

It’s that time of year again when we all start thinking about booking our holidays, and right now an ‘old favourite’ of UK holiday makers is increasing in popularity again – The Canary Islands! With its fantastic weather all year round, and each Island offering something a little different, here’s a guide to see which island is right for you…

Holidays in Tenerife are for the Explorer

Explore Tenerife

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, so finding something to do wont be that difficult. Tenerife‘s influence comes from the tribal culture of the Guanche’s, who were actually the first inhabitants of the island. For those interested in learning about different cultures and history, then Tenerife is a great place to visit.

Spain’s largest peak, Mount Teide offers a dream for outdoor adventurists, with breath-taking views, and hikes for all levels, it’s a firm favourite for those wanting to keep active on holiday.

Loro Park offers an abundance of tropical birds, and the Zoo Monkey Park is a great day out for those wanting to slow the pace down. If you’re looking for an action packed water-park, then the 28 rides at Siam Park will no doubt keep you entertained – it’s also rated one of the top water parks in the world, so definitely worth experiencing.

A Lanzarote Holiday Offers Variety.

Lanzarote

Lanzarote is known for is beautiful beaches, stunning volcanic landscapes, and the fact you can drive round the whole Island in 2-2.30 hours – exploring is definitely on the menu here!

The Timanfaya National Park has a vast volcanic, and ‘lunar like’ landscape which Star Wars fans might recognise from the original films. In fact Lanzarote is a film makers favourite, with One Million BC (Rachel Welch, 1966 – Remember that?) and Krull, which featured a very young, Hollywood superstar Liam Neeson (You probably won’t remember this), both filmed in Lanzarote.

Another must visit in Lanzarote is the underground entertainment mega-complex of Jameos Del Agua. Built with an array of cafes, restaurants and shops underneath a tropical island beach, this product of artist Caesar Manrique captures elegantly all the beauty of the Lanzarote. With warm weather all year round, Lanzarote is a great choice for those wanting winter sun, or a hot summer holiday.

Lots of Sun and Stunning Beaches in Gran Canaria.

Gran Canaria

A Gran Canaria holiday is known for experiencing its breath-taking beaches that stretch along the coast. Mogan Beach faces onto picturesque villages, that are perfect for finding those little holiday trinkets to take home. Beaches like Anfi del Mar are covered in beautiful white sands, and offer plenty of opportunities for those water-sports enthusiasts to have some fun.

With 500 years in the making, the gastronomy on the island is first class. Born out of its tradition as a great Atlantic port, travellers from over a hundred countries descended on Gran Canaria, bringing with them the flavours of ten meridians from all around. The Queso de Flor cheese, sweet potato pasties, wines, sugar cane rum and coffee, will all get those taste buds flowing.

Whilst the beaches are spectacular and will be great for darkening your tan, also think food, fiestas, golf and impressive culture when you think of Gran Canaria.

Fuerteventura is for FUN.

Corralejo

Did you know that Fuerteventura sits on the same latitude as Florida and Mexico? This basically means that the weather is breath-takingly similar, and can be reached in only a third of time.  Regarded as the oldest of the Canary Islands, it’s geographical location just 60 miles off the coast of Morocco, means that for thousands of years the sand from the Sahara desert has been deposited on its beaches – all 150 of them!

Fuerteventura has some quirky carnivals, top class restaurants, and even a few cocktail bars to dance the night away in. It’s an island that caters for families, friends and couples of all ages.

Water sports are very popular on this island, and each year you’ll find lots of surfers and divers descend to Fuerteventura. The conditions are so good in July, that the P.W.A World windsurfing speed and slalom event is held in the south of the island (Sotavento).

For those wanting to hear about the islands history, then head to the Betancuria Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography for some inspired learning. Tefia Craft Village is also well worth a visit for those wanting to take home some of the islands arts and crafts.

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We love the Canary Islands here at Travel Club Elite, and it’s not difficult to understand why people feel it offers some of the best holiday destinations in the world. Warm weather, great beaches, and lots of things to see and do – The Canary Islands have never looked so good!


For more information on luxury Canary Island Holidays call 0121 213 0012, send an enquiry or email: Info@travelclubelite.com. With over 30 years of ABTA membership, an award winning team, and huge savings on tour operator prices, booking with Travel Club Elite is booking with confidence!


Featured

Top 5 Sandals Resorts

Looking for your next holiday to the Caribbean? For an unforgettable experience of destinations such as Jamaica, Barbados, Bahamas, Antigua, Saint Lucia and Grenada, consider staying at a Sandals resort. Sandals has set the benchmark for all inclusive resorts throughout the Caribbean.

There are 24 Sandals resorts to choose from in 7 countries. With over 30 years’ experience, Sandals offers guests a luxury holiday in spectacular settings, from its roots in the flagship Sandals Montego Bay to the newest resort Sandals Barbados.

At any Sandals resort, you can expect exceptional service, great choice of food, luxury accommodation and plenty of activities to enjoy. Whilst all Sandals resorts are spectacular, we have rounded up our top five to help you choose which Sandals resort most suits you!

Sandals Barbados

Sandals Barbados blog

Set among St Lawrence Gap, Sandals Barbados is Sandals newest resort. Located on Barbados’ south coast, Sandals Barbados is an inviting resort boasting the largest and longest lagoon pool in Barbados! Romance is certainly in the air at Sandals Barbados, guests can enjoy walks along the pristine white sand beach, relax in a private cabana complete with chandelier, or even have a wedding in the specially designed wedding garden.

Sandals Ochi

Sandals Ochi blog

Recently renamed from its former name of Sandals Grande Riviera, Sandals Ochi has been given reinvigorating make over. It is an ideal Sandals resort for guests looking to experience both sides of Jamaica; the laidback and tranquil side to the buzzing and exciting party side! For a flavour of Jamaica’s lively side, guests can visit the chic Ochi Beach Club, which features a beachfront pool and swim up bar.

Guests can also treat themselves to the Caribbean’s first speakeasy. Be transported back to the glam era of the 1920s at the Rabbit Hole and sample the appetising cocktails and live entertainment.

Sandals LaSource

Sandals LaSource blog

For a tranquil holiday to the Caribbean, stay at Sandals LaSource. Located in Grenada, Sandals LaSource is ideally situated just a few minutes from the airport, allowing you to make the most of your Caribbean holiday! Enjoy the extravagant comforts of the Skypool Suites at the Italian Village which feature Butler Services, heated infinity plunge pool, relaxing soaking tubs, wet bar and more.

Sandals Grande Antigua

Sandals Grande Antigua blog

Frequently voted “World’s Most Romantic Resort”, Sandals Grande Antigua certainly delivers! It is the perfect Sandals resort for honeymoons or a couples retreat. Set on one of Antigua’s pristine beaches, Dickenson Bay, Sandals Grande Antigua offers a quintessential Caribbean holiday. Guests can enjoy the idyllic surroundings of the Caribbean Grove, a peaceful hideaway amidst landscaped gardens, swaying palms and exotic flora set within the resort.

Sandals Halcyon Beach

Sandals Halcyon Beach blog

Experience the beauty of Saint Lucia at Sandals Halcyon Beach. Located in Castries, the capital of Saint Lucia, Sandals Halcyon Beach is set within a lush tropical enclave. Guests are immersed in a tropical wonderland with swaying palms, mountain vistas and glimmering blue sea.

Guests staying at Sandals Halcyon Beach also have the added bonus of experiencing the facilities and services of two nearby Sandals resorts; Sandals Regency La Toc and Sandals Grande St Lucian.

Sandals resorts are exciting, luxurious and offer an array of activities for you to enjoy. The Sandals motto is “all you need is LOVE, because everything else is already included” – sums it up perfectly.


Sandals currently have a 2 for 1 special offer, with up to 50% off their holidays! With our award winning service, booking with Travel Club Elite, is booking with Confidence. Call 0121 213 0012, send an enquiry or email: info@travelclubelite.com for more information.


 

Featured

Top Tips To Avoid Travel Booking Fraud

In the light of the recent media reports, regarding online holiday fraud in the UK – Figures show that tourists lost almost *£12 million last year after a sharp increase in the number of online holiday bookings. According to the Times – the average traveller was fleeced out of almost £3,000, with many reporting a significant impact on their health because of the shock of the incident.

But all is not lost… We have prepared a guide to help you beat those scammers, and ensure your next holiday is booked without the worry that your accommodation could ‘disappear’.

‘How to protect your travel booking and your money?’

The internet has revolutionised the way that travel is bought & sold. Travellers & holidaymakers now have unparalleled, instant access to almost infinite information on destinations, resorts & accommodation.

However, the most ancient of warnings to customers still applies: ‘Caveat Emptor’ – or, ‘Buyer Beware’… The media reported many holidaymakers arriving, to find booked accommodation not available. Whenever there is a new technological advance in business, or banking, the fraudsters are never far behind, seeking to exploit any loopholes they may find.

So, what can you do to avoid the scammers?

  1. Look for a Company which is a Member of ABTA. This is the ‘Gold Standard’ for the UK travel industry, Members comply with a strict Code of Conduct, which regulates professional standards of service & are vetted for financial security. Get the ABTA number & check it on the ABTA website

A: Travel Club Elite has been a proud Member of ABTA for 30 years – our ABTA Number is 82689, check us out here

Abta

  1. Look for the Tour Operator’s ATOL number – the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) guarantees a refund of your money in the event of an ATOL holder’s failure. You must ensure that you receive an ATOL Certificate, which shows the details of your booking & payment) upon booking. (Check an ATOL Number)

A: Travel Club Elite acts as agents only for ATOL holders registered in the UK. We provide ATOL Certificates by e-mail, within minutes of booking, backed up by hard copy, if requested. Customers also receive instant confirmation & receipts by e-mail, followed by Tour Operator confirmations, shortly afterwards. 

Atol Protected

  1. Some Agents & Operators have now based themselves abroad, to avoid the stringent UK arrangements for financial protection. EU provision is very limited & almost certainly inadequate, we recommend checking, before booking, if this applies.

A: Travel Club Elite is a UK based Company. We have city centre premises & customers are welcome to visit us at any time. We are open every day, except Christmas Day.

  1. Check how long the Company has been established; some internet travel businesses have only been around for a few weeks, or months!

A: Travel Club Elite has been serving the British travelling public for 30 years, and we know a thing or two about holidays. We are proud of our award winning service. 

  1. Pay by Credit Card, or Visa Debit Card – these often offer extra financial protection, but please, do check with your Card provider.

A: We accept payment by most major Credit, or Debit Cards.

Protection

  1. Look for 3rd. party independent reviews, provided by sites such as TrustPilot & Feefo.

A: Travel Club Elite is currently rated an incredible 9.4/of 10 by our customers on TrustPilot – We are ranked 82.6% of the time 5 star and an amazing 98.7% of the time 4 star and above. Please check our impartial reviews here. Remember, these are provided at ‘arm’s length’ & we are not able to influence them, good, or bad’.

  1. Ask your travel provider what level of repeat bookings they enjoy; a good sign as to what existing customers think.

A: Travel Club Elite is consistently receiving repeat booking levels of over 60%.

  1. Ask how many years travel industry experience the staff members have.

A: The team at Travel Club Elite has combined travel Industry experience of more than 250 years! To be honest, we gave up counting & some of the ladies were starting to blush! Safe to say, it seems there’s not much we don’t know, but incredibly, every day we learn something new. Our staff travel many times a year to visit resorts & hotels, to keep their knowledge up-to-date.

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“A Good Travel Agent Is Worth Its Weight In Gold”

Using a travel agent could save you money and time, due to our relationship with the top tour operators we can usually get a discount off the listed prices. In an age where it seems all too easy to piece together your own travel components from various sources, remember that in the event of any number of incidents, ash clouds, floods, etc. or even a mistake on entering names on-line, a good travel agent is worth its weight in gold.

Don’t compromise what should be one of the highlights of the year, for the (possible) sake of a few pounds. As I often ask my friends, ‘Would you drill your own teeth, or service your own car?’ A bit extreme, maybe, but booking travel is best left in the hands of the experts, for the best outcome & experience.

*Information by the Times April 2nd 2016.


We’d love to hear from you, so if you have an questions you can call us on 0121 213 0012, email us at info@travelclubelite.com or visit the Travel Club Elite website. Book with financial confidence.


Featured

Club Med – Tignes Val Claret


For prices on Club Med Tignes Val Claret please call us on 0121 213 0012 to discuss or fill out an enquiry form. Prices start from £1095pp (All Inclusive) based on a November 29th 2015 departure. (prices correct as of 17/02/2015). Don’t forget the extra savings when booked with Travel Club Elite!


More British skiers holiday in Tignes than any other ski resort in Europe (Telegraph Ski Survey). Many describe Tignes as the best and most varied ski area in the world, and after my recent trip to Val Claret I can see why people feel the way they do about this phenomenal part of the French Alps.

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Tignes Val Claret enjoys access to the Espace Killy Ski, and with over 180 miles of pistes, and 90+ lifts you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to great ski runs.

Espace Killy

Whilst in Val Claret I spent a little time checking out Club Med’s offering for the area, the aptly named ‘Tignes Val Claret’. When this property was built, it was clearly created to stand out in a resort full of chalet style hotels – It’s visually striking, and offers a feeling of luxury before you even step inside.

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The hotel is located in the centre of Val Claret, so you’ll have easy access to all the ski resort has to offer. It is also just a short distance from the main lift stations and of course the pistes.

Tignes Val Claret

Inside the hotel your met with a contemporary décor, cosy rooms and an attractive design. Club Med Tignes Val Claret has a choice of either Club or Deluxe Rooms. The rooms include a flat screen TV, a hair dryer, a safe, tea and coffee making facilities and a telephone. Many of the luxurious rooms come with balconies offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. If you opt for the Deluxe rooms then you’ll also enjoy a bit more space, a mini fridge, bathrobes, slippers and an ironing kit.

Rooms Club Med Val Claret

If you are travelling as a family then you can take advantage of the hotels inter-connecting rooms, and for those with reduced mobility, rooms are available with better access to the lifts and reception.

After a full day on the pistes you can relax and sooth those aching muscles in the resorts sauna, steam rooms and pool area. For those who didn’t get a thorough workout on the slopes, Club Med Tignes Val Claret also offers a fully equipped gym, with various weights and cardiovascular machines.

Ski

Another great plus point is the excellent free WiFi . With many hotels sometimes coming under pressure to provide fast, free WiFi, Club Med have certainly delivered in this area. You’ll be able to use the free WiFi in the reception, bar, pool and rooms – sharing holiday snaps with those back home is a quick and reliable process.

For those wanting luxury, style and an excellent location in Tignes, then look no further that Club Med’s Val Claret hotel.

What’s On Offer At Club Med Tignes Val Claret

The Pool

The small, but luxurious indoor pool area is a good place to get a couple lengths in first thing in the morning, or after you return from the slopes. If you are watching your children play in the water, then there are a number of comfortable chairs were you can enjoy a good book whilst keeping an eye on the fun.

Pool Club Med Val Claret

The Bar

This large area has numerous sofas and chairs and uses a variety of bright colours to create a vibrant atmosphere. As part of your holiday package hot and cold drinks are included and are served by the glass. The bar is fully stocked with a wide variety of beers, wines and spirits so you’ll bound to find your favourite drink for après ski.

Club Med Bar Val Claret

The Restaurant

All your meals are included in your package and their creative chefs offer 3 types of menu, discovery, fitness and universal. The large buffet style restaurant at this resort has a warm and cosy feel with rustic alpine memorabilia decorating the walls, the perfect setting for a delicious winter meal. Guests also have the fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the resorts meal exchange where you can enjoy your lunch in their Val d’Isere hotel so you can easily explore the whole Espace Killy ski domain.

Club Med Val Claret

Families & Kids

The minimum child age for admission to resort is 2 years. If you would like to have an evening to yourselves, they can organise baby-sitting services (Pyjamas Club), at an additional cost. Children over 4 can attend the resort’s Mini Club and this service is part of your package. During peak periods a Juniors’ Club is available to teenagers between 11 and 17 years and will be included as part of your package.

Family Club Med Ski

Equipment Hire

You can hire all your ski and snowboard equipment through Club Med. Please note that those under 11 years old are required to wear helmets whilst on the slopes at all times as well as those who are skiing off-piste.

Instructors & Lessons

Ski and snowboard lesson are included from 4 years old upwards. Club Med employ professional instructors to guide you over the slopes that are best suited to your ability to ensure you progress safely in the best possible conditions. A test on the first morning will determine your level and the right class for you.

Club Med Ski Instructors

Club Med Package Includes

  • Flights & resort transfers (if flights are selected at the time of booking)
  • Quality accommodation
  • International full-board gourmet cuisine
  • Unlimited drinks and refreshments (including soft drinks, wine, spirits, beers & après ski)
  • Professional ski/snowboard lessons in English from Monday to Friday
  • 6 days ski pass
  • Kids’ clubs (from 4 – 17 years)
  • Evening entertainment

Other Information

Star Rating: 4 Star Trident Rating
Property Type: Hotel
Style: Large | All-inclusive

Ski in/ski out: Intermediate skiers can do this, but I wouldn’t recommend this for beginners.


For prices on Club Med Tignes Val Claret please call us on 0121 213 0012 to discuss or fill out an enquiry form. Prices start from £1095pp (All Inclusive) based on a November 29th 2015 departure. (prices correct as of 17/02/2015). Don’t forget the extra savings when booked with Travel Club Elite!


Featured

Mark Warner’s Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin – Val Claret Tignes


For prices on Mark Warner’s Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin please call us on 0121 213 0012 to discuss or fill out an enquiry form. Prices start from £699pp based on a short 4 night New Year Ski break on 4th January 2016 (prices correct as of 08/09/2016). Don’t forget the extra savings when booked with Travel Club Elite!


With a number of ski trips under my belt, none of the previous had excited me more than my trip to Tignes Val Claret. Val Claret boasts an exceptional reputation for quality ski conditions, and Mark Warner are connoisseurs when it comes to providing a quality ski holiday – But would the experience match the expectation?

Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin

My trip was courtesy of Mark Warner and I was staying at their newest ski accommodation, Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin. From the moment you step through the double sliding doors you are met in reception by smiling staff who can’t do enough for you.

The check in was seamless and the rooms didn’t disappoint. The rooms are brand new and have authentic chalet decor relating to Val Clarets history, coupled with modern touches like flat screen TV’s. The bathrooms have a luxurious feel, with raised ceramic basin sink, a power shower and a spacious bath for you to sooth those aching muscles in. You also get the benefit from a separate room for the toilet. My room had a balcony that offered panoramic views of the area, a breath-taking way to start each day!

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On our first evening we sampled the food at the restaurant, and although Mark Warner are renowned for their excellent food, they far surpassed themselves with a delicious gourmet ensemble. Chorizo bruschetta for starter, pork belly with mash potato and crackling for the main, and a delightful array of cheeses with crackers to finish. To say I was impressed was an understatement!

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One of the best features of the L’Ecrin is the wide open bar area built from timber in a traditional Savoie style and oozing plenty of charm. On one side you have the bar which is full of unique decoration, and on the other a grand fire place with comfortable seating, perfect for relaxing after a long day skiing.

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Everything about this chalet hotel feels expertly created, the design is first class, and the attention to detail is the best I’ve seen from a Chalet Hotel. L’Ecrin has lost none of that authentic chalet feel, and still managed to add all those home comforts many of us crave in the 21st century (free Wi-Fi/FlatScreen TV’s).

Decor

Another feature of Mark Warner’s L’Ecrin is its incredible spa area, that features an indoor pool, Turkish bath, jacuzzi, and sauna. I tried them all out and I’m delighted to say that they were all superb. The temperature was perfect and if you go in just before 4pm you’ll get the place pretty much to yourself – after 5pm it can get busier.

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On the second day I was given a tour by the lovely customer service manger, who showed me around the children’s club. L’Ecrin Chalet Hotel is perfect for families, and you get a genuine feeling that the staff love looking after the children. The children’s area is full of toys, games and plenty to keep the children entertained whilst you enjoy a morning on the slopes.

Kids Club

For those wanting ski hire and boots, this can either be arranged prior to leaving or at the chalet hotel. The ski & boot fitting is located just 200 yards from the hotel and the lockers for storage are situated behind the reception area at L’Ecrin.

Ski lessons can also either be arranged when booking for holiday, or by a member of the Mark Warner staff, at the L’Ecrin Chalet Hotel. Ski lessons are not only for beginners with an array of options for intermediates and advanced skiers also.

Val Claret Tignes.

When I found out I was going to be skiing in Tignes, I knew that I’d be surrounded by enviable snow cover, some of the best terrains in the French Alps, and the phenomenal Espace ski area that’s shared with the neighbouring Val d’Isère. Altogether you have 300km of pistes covered by 91 lifts, and slopes that will offer something for beginners and advanced skiers alike.

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At 2300M Val Claret is the highest Village in Tignes, and with this ‘elevated status’ it means lots of shops, restaurants and bars. The nightlife in Val Claret is exceptional, with lots of themed bars, a great atmosphere and two popular nightclubs in ‘Blue Girl’ and ‘The Melting Pot’ – these both get busier after 12pm.

Val Claret is set on two levels and is easily accessible via the lifts, or by skiing to it. The bottom level has the Funicular lift which takes you right up to the Grande Motte Glacier, which is only place fully open for summer skiing in Tignes (June 21st to August 3rd 2014). The top level of Val Claret has the Tufs chairlift which takes you over to Val d’Isere, It’s here by the lifts that you’ll find the main hub of bars and restaurants.

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Two must visits in Val Claret are Folie Douce and the restaurant La Pignatta. Folie Douce Tignes is situated at the top of the Daille cable car, and is the perfect place to enjoy some Après ski. With DJ’s, dancers and a lively atmosphere its a must when visiting the Espace Killy area.

folie

La Pignatta is a restaurant based in the centre of Val Claret, and allows customers to enjoy a traditional setting and some excellent food. Our party tried the Pierrade, which is a hot plate that allows you cook your own chicken and beef. You also get vegetables and potato gratin, which all added to a superb dining experience.

I visited the neighbouring Tignes Le Lac and I preferred Val Claret out of the two. Val Claret is an breath-taking ski resort packed full of everything a ski enthusiast would need. For those who don’t want to just ski they can enjoy the L’Ecrin’s spa facilities, tobogganing, a husky ride or even a skidoo adventure. The close proximity to the glacier offers winter and summer ski, and the fact you can go around the whole resort in just 20 minutes by bus, makes it a dream for those wanting to explore other areas.

le lac

With it excellent location near the heart of Val Claret, Mark Warner’s L’Ecrin, is an exceptional option for skiing in Tignes. It’s as close as you can get to a 5 star Chalet Hotel, without it actually being rated 5 stars. L’Ecrin has everything, from superb facilities and well trained staff to gourmet food and a relaxing environment. The new Mark Warner L’Ecrin in Val Claret has certainly raised the bar in Tignes.

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Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin Facts

Whats included

Ski Pass Costs Tignes

hire costs

Ski Boots Hire

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For prices on Mark Warner’s Chalet Hotel L’Ecrin please call us on 0121 213 0012 to discuss or fill out an enquiry form. Prices start from £562pp based on an April 19th 2015 departure. (prices correct as of 12/02/2015). Don’t forget the extra savings when booked with Travel Club Elite!


Featured

Neilson Chalet Chartreuse – Les Deux Alpes


For prices on Neilson’s Chalet Chartreuse please contact us on 0121 213 0012 or fill out an enquiry form. Prices start from £699pp based on a March 2015 departure. (prices correct as of 27/01/2015). Don’t forget the extra savings when booked with Travel Club Elite!


Recently I was given the opportunity to experience the Neilson brand for the first time, and it didn’t leave me disappointed. After a short flight into Geneva it was off to the lively resort of Les Deux Alpes, and the brilliant accommodation Chalet Chartreuse. Neilson’s Chalet Chartreuse is a little like the Chartreuse drink (engineered by Carthusian Monks in 1737) – full of flavour, full of life, and packing all the ingredients to ensure you have a great time.

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We arrived early evening and were met by our superb hosts Ryan, Danni and Tazmin – We were shown to our rooms, had a quick shower and it was time for our first evening meal of the trip. If you’re a fan of home cooked food, with a gourmet twist, then you’ll love the food at Chalet Chartreuse – The excellent selection of table wines with a roaring fire backdrop, really enhanced the dining experience.

Tip: Nothing was to much trouble for our hosts, so if you wanted something different from the menu, then the chef is happy to try and accommodate you.

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After dinner it was off to sample some of Les Deux Alpes’ famous nightlife. The lively resort is full of bars that include something for everyone. We played pool in Secrets Bar, listened to some Karaoke in Polar Bear bar, and threw a few shapes on the dance floor in Avalanche (well my version of dancing at least).

Tip: One of the things I did notice was the variety of ages, I had a pre-conception that Les 2 Alpes would be full of younger people, but in fact it was all ages mixing and having a great time.

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Neilson Les Deux Alpes Day Two

After breakfast we toured the resort and got to view some of the other fantastic Neilson ski properties. Neilson’s Hotel Le Cret is a great choice for those on a budget, whilst the Hotel Aalborg offers more of a hotel feel, whilst still keeping the chalet authenticity. The Hotel Aalborg is famous in Les Deux Alpes for it’s excellent kids club, and we had a chance to see the experienced Neilson nannies in full flow.

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The Hotel Aalborg is excellently located between the Jandri Express and Diable ski lifts, giving you speedy access to the slopes. The Aalborg has ski equipment hire, and the ski schools are literally on your door step. After a ‘family sized’ portion of chicken Caesar salad at the Aalborg, it was off up the slopes to experience the ski school. It’s been a few years since I’ve skied and suddenly out of nowhere I developed a crisis of confidence just before my lesson was due to begin – the instructor however was first class and soon helped me find my rhythm.

Tip: The instructor was excellent and I’d highly recommend having a lesson for purely for the knowledge you’ll gain on where the best slopes are.

After an afternoon of skiing we were welcomed back to Chalet Chartreuse for some home made cake, and a hot tub ready to be soaked in – A great way to end the day! Dinner again was another three course, home-made ensemble, coupled with excellent service and superb wines. After the previous nights over-indulgence, it was a night around the fire playing games. The Neilson Chalet Chartreuse ladies were all excellent fun, and joined in with the games.

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Neilson Les Deux Alpes Day Three

Day three was all about the ski! After an early start we were up the mountain for a mornings ski, and despite me completely stacking in on the ‘magic carpet’ (much to the amusement of others) it was a terrific day surrounded by brilliant blue skis, clean air and perfect ski conditions.

Tip: For those of you who don’t know what a ‘magic carpet’ is, it’s a conveyor belt style ski lift. Make sure you’re leaning forward when the belt grabs your skis to avoid suffering the same plight as me.

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One of the highlights of the whole trip was experiencing Pano Bar, and If you are going to Les Deux Alpes its a must visit! With an altitude of 2600m, some of the best views in the resort and top DJ’s it’s an absolute must visit.

With an early transfer the following day it was back to Chalet Chartreuse for some more ridiculously good food, great in house entertainment, and an early night.

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The trip to Neilson’s Chalet Chartreuse was one I’ll never forget, it was full of great people, a superb tour operator and the most fun I’ve ever had skiing. The hospitality was the best I’ve experienced on a ski trip and the Neilson staff were a credit to the company. Chalet Chartreuse is an excellent property, located in a lively resort, which offers fun for all ages and ski levels – If you’re a group, a couple, or going as a family, you will be delighted if you pick this property or any of the other Neilson ones for your next ski trip.

Thanks for the memories Neilson!

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Neilson Chalet Chartreuse Information – Prices from £699 (14th March2015) 4* + Operator Rating.

  • Sleeps 18 people in 9 ensuite twin bedrooms
  • Breath-taking lounge area, with a large fireplace to gather round – perfect when eating the home made cake and cookies.
    Sauna and hot tub.
  • Your personal hospitality team to prepare your gourmet cuisine.

Location

  • Ski lift – 500m
  • Ski school meeting point – 300m
  • Resort centre – 150m

Travel information

  • Departure Airports: Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Heathrow (Half Term only) & Manchester
    Destination Airports: Grenoble (GNB)
  • Transfer Time: 2hrs 30mins
  • Departure Day: Saturday

For prices on Neilson’s Chalet Chartreuse please contact us on 0121 213 0012 or fill out an enquiry form. Prices start from £699pp based on a March 2015 departure. (prices correct as of 27/01/2015). Don’t forget the extra savings when booked with Travel Club Elite!


Featured

Travel Guide To Cambodia and Vietnam: Wendy Wu Angkor to the Bay

By Travel Expert Zoe Franklin

Days 1- 4 : Cambodia and Saigon 


Angkor to the Bay, Wendy Wu.

Prices from £2,790 (prices correct 16/04/2015). Plus extra savings when booked with Travel Club Elite! For more information about this tour, please call Zoe directly on 0121 213 0012 ex. 204. Or send an enquiry

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The trip started with fantastic flights courtesy of Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air to Siem Reap. Both airlines provided great service, decent leg room and entertainment.

On arrival we were met by the wonderful Mr Jackie, who was our guide for the days in Cambodia. The airport was only a 20 minute journey to hotel, but the roads can be a little ‘manic’, with droves of mopeds dashing in and out of cars.

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We arrive at the lovely 4* Angkor Paradise Hotel, which is located perfectly for those wanting to be close to Pub Street. Pub Street is where all Cambodia‘s nightlife is, with beers on offer at just 50c.

We decided to get up early the following day, so we could experience sunrise at the famous Angkor Wat – This is arguably the best way to view one of the most iconic pieces of history on the planet, the moment the temple comes to life as the sun rises is breath-taking. The 12th century temple is the world’s largest religious monument, and is the regarded as the spiritual heart of Cambodia.

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After a quick breakfast we continued our sightseeing at the fortified city of Angkor Thom – affectionately known as Uncle Tom. We saw beautifully crafted towers and stone figures including Baphoun and the 350 m long Elephant Terrace – This forms part of the walled city of Angkor Thom.

We had our lunch at the highly recommended ‘Nest’, which offers gorgeous traditional Cambodian cuisine in a relaxed setting . The most fabulous part of the day was the visit to Ta Prohm – otherwise known as the ‘Tomb Raider’ Temple – this is the ruin that has been swallowed by the jungle with tree roots growing through the walls, and was used for scenes in the Lara Croft Tomb Raider film.

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This wonderful day was topped off by a visit to a local restaurant that provided traditional dance throughout the meal – a great way of learning about local culture and history.

The next day we flew to Saigon (Ho Chi Min City) and witnessed a bustling cosmopolitan city full of history, obtained from colonial France and ancient China. It was here we were met by our next guide a man called Mr. Tuan Tran Dinh – I must say he really made the trip, and his knowledge and expertise were very impressive.

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The roads here are a law unto themselves, with over two million scooters teeming through the streets of Saigon, they are an attraction in their own right. Some of the moped sights included pigs/cattle strapped to the backs, babies sitting in between their parents and horns continuously beeping.

Crossing the road can be a little daunting, but here’s a tip I picked up. The technique is to literally step off the pavement and cross at a slow, steady pace until you reach the other side – be brave, they will go round you!

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We were taken to a beautiful Mandarin restaurant called Oriental Saigon, for an amazing lunch of exquisite Vietnamese food and exceptional service – Check it out, it’s highly recommended.

From here we had a sightseeing tour of the city that included the Reunification Palace – this is where the final stages of the American war in Vietnam took place. We also viewed the stunning French-style ‘Central Post Office’ and the ‘Notre Dame Cathedral’ that was built between 1886 and 1890.

Our hotel in Saigon was the Lan Lan, a 3* hotel, offering great service, and fantastic location that’s close to all the cities’ sights and amenities.

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This evening we ate at a place called KOTO (Know One Teach One), which is an amazing place that helps children from the street to rebuild their lives, and gain the experience of work.

In the evening group of us went out experienced the nightlife of the city – wow! We started off at a place called Chill SkyBar, which is 26 storeys high, and overlooks the expanse of Saigon. This is definitely an experience not to be missed, a place for the young and privileged of the city.

This was followed by a few hours at a street bar, drinking with the locals and having a sing-along to string-less guitar, that was played by our group leader Mr. Diogo Castanheira – another experience not to be missed.

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The next day has to be one of the highlights of my life so far – a trip to the Mekong Delta and a big tick off my bucket list. We travelled around 2 hours to Ben Tre, a southern province in the Mekong Delta passing through lush rice fields en-route.

We walked through coconut gardens, seeing local houses before reaching a rest-stop, where we had a traditional folk song performance and fresh fruit with honey tea. We then continued on a sampan, which is a boat paddled by a personalised rower through the palm lined canals – an extremely relaxing and thought provoking ride.

We met a local family who ran their own business making coconut candy directly in front of the pier – and obviously we sampled the candy before buying up almost all their stock. Another fantastic feature of the tour was a photo opportunity with the pet python – A very interesting addition to the day.

We then embarked on a motorised journey along the Mekong to a place called Turtle Island, where we experienced the most sumptuous feast of local delicacies. We concluded this wonderful day with a meal at the lovely An Vien Restaurant, where yet again the food and hospitality were faultless.

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Days 5 – 7 Hoi An


We bade farewell to Saigon and flew up to Da Nang to start our journey to Hoi An.

Hoi An was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and blends culture, cuisine, religion and architecture. We experienced a walking tour of the narrow streets and visited one of Hoi An’s oldest homes built over 200 years ago. We also experienced the Hoi An market, The Quan Cong Chinese temple and the Japanese Covered Bridge.

Hoi An is a comfortable retreat, that allows people to chill out between the hustle and bustle of the larger cities. The Thu Bon River runs through the town and is crossed by ornate and decorative bridges.

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We stayed at the beautiful 4* Green Heaven Hotel, which is located perfectly for access into the town. The hotel boasted an on-site tailor service, which made quality outfits in an extremely short space of time.

The hotel spa offered an array of treatments at a fraction of the cost you’d pay back home in the UK. The service was first class and certainly made us feel more relaxed than when we arrived.

Day 8 – 10 Hanoi and Halong Bay


Hanoi is a charming city of public parks, lakes and a population of around 4 million. Hanoi has more cars than Saigon but the streets are as manic as each other – it’s worth mentioning that the hustle and bustle of the traffic only adds to the Hanoi’s charm.

We were met on arrival by our guide ‘Kien’, who was a very talkative chap who loved to tell us everything about anywhere we visited – great knowledge from the guide, a continuing theme for the trips duration.

We checked into the gorgeous Church Boutique Hotel, and then visited the serene Temple of Literature. This is Hanoi’s first University dating back to 1070 and is dedicated to Confucius.

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The evening took us to see a performance of the famous Water Puppets in central Hanoi. These were invented thousands of years ago by farmers in the Red River Delta near to Hanoi, as a means of entertainment when the rains flooded the paddy fields. A an absolute for must for anyone visiting Hanoi.

We were all up bright and early for the 4 hour journey to Ha long Bay, which is a straight run from Hanoi, and broken up by a rest stop selling numerous collectables and ‘happy Buddha’s’.

On arriving into Halong Bay (The Jewel in the Crown of Vietnam), nothing can distract you from the sheer beauty of the place. The marina is home to a myriad of boats, including day trip vessels, and more traditional style cruise junk boats (for overnight stays).

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We were on board the ‘Bhaya Classic’, and the boats staff ensured we have a truly memorable stay. No sooner had we boarded the ‘Bhaya Classic boat’, we were sailing through the bay towards our anchor point.

Amazing rock sculptures just appear dramatically out of the sea offering a picturesque setting. We had lunch on board before stopping to explore the local floating village, and enjoying a paddle boat ride around the bay. The scenery is absolutely breath-taking and calming, the lack of motorized boats meant you could hear a pin drop – another tick off my ever decreasing bucket list.

On board the boat we were lucky enough to have a cookery demonstration from the chef, who made deep fried spring rolls and carrot roses – the best part was sampling these culinary delights.

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An afternoon swim in the bays fresh waters set us up for our more tasty evening treats – which was cooked to perfection. Drinks were flowing, the music captivated in the night air, and dark blackness of the bay surrounded us all. This was an emotional experience that I will treasure forever.

The next day we visited the ‘Sung Sot Cave’ (Surprise Grotto), and after walking up many steps we were rewarded with the sight of arguably, the best limestone formations in the world today. Mood lighting illuminates the caves further enhancing the experience – what a great way to finish off a life enhancing stay in Halong Bay.

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We departed the boat and headed back to Hanoi, where during the afternoon we visited the Ho Chi Minh Complex and saw the changing of the guard. We also saw the One Pillar Pagoda, which is a Buddhist temple built in the style of a lotus flower. This temple was built by Emperor Lý Thái Tông in gratitude for his wife bearing him a son, after dreaming that he’d met the ‘Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’ (translates to “the Lord who looks down”).

The great thing about this trip is that I got to share it with a group that bonded so well, and had pleasure of sharing a once in a lifetime trip together. Our passions were clear throughout the trip, and it was a pleasure to share it with like-minded people.

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The tour of Cambodia and Vietnam with Wendy Wu is definitely an experience I will never forget. From flying on a propeller plane for the first time, to the emotion of travelling down the Mekong River, Halong Bay’s serenity and the madness of Hanoi‘s and Saigon – all truly inspirational!

Thank you Cambodia and Vietnam, and thank you Wendy Wu!

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Angkor to the Bay, Wendy Wu.

Prices from £2,790 (prices correct 9/01/2015). Plus extra savings when booked with Travel Club Elite! For more information about this tour, please call Zoe directly on 0121 213 0012 ex. 204. Or send an enquiry.

Fresh out of ideas for this year’s family summer holiday?

For a limited time only, save up to £1,600 per family!

The original pioneer of the luxury, all-inclusive holiday, Club Med’s stunning worldwide resorts offer more quality inclusions than any other family operator. From delicious gourmet dining and inclusive premium drinks to fantastic sport academies and personalized services for you and the children. No stress. No constraints. Just luxury beachfront family resorts where everything is included.

With 40 years of experience, Club Me provide specific club facilities for all age groups. With in-resort activities included from 9am right up until 8pm, your little ones will be kept entertained all day long.

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Expand your Horizons this Summer

With great value deals on worldwide destinations including the Caribbean, Asia and Mauritius, why not spread your wings further with short transfer times and direct flights available from a variety of regional airports. A trip of a lifetime no longer has to break to bank.

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What’s Included with a Club Med Summer Holiday?

  • Flights, Transfers & Accommodation
  • Gourmet Full Board Cuisine
  • Open Bar
  • Kids Clubs from 4-17 Years
  • Over 60 Land & Watersports
  • Evening Entertainment

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Here at Travel Club Elite, we offer the Club Med Holidays you know and love with our expertise thrown in on top! Our 32 years of ABTA membership and superior service mean you can book with confidence and security, taking the stress out of organizing your summer holiday.

Let us plan your Club Med all inclusive summer holiday, please call free, today, on 0800 707 6229 or email: info@travelclubelite.com

www.travelclubelite.com

Unusual Places

A new trend shows that many people are tired of the traditional beach holidays; with lots of other tourists, sparse locals and fighting for a sun bed on the beach, many holiday lovers are looking for an alternate experience. Cox and Kings, a renowned luxury tour operator, have released to us their top selling unusual tours that include; Uzbekistan, Iran, Romania, Ethiopia and Russia. These destinations may not scream summer holiday but they have a rich and incredible culture with unforgettable scenery, must-see sights and they offer unique experiences that you may not find on a traditional holiday. We looked into the best reasons to go to these unusual destinations:

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Janos Gaspar

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a patchwork of middle eastern heritage combined with Eastern influences including Soviet Russian architecture and food influences and Chinese dishes. It is also arduous to find greenery and foliage amongst the rolling sand dunes and desert, however, this merely makes the oases  more magical. Uzbekistan is also home to rare wildlife, including white-clawed bears, golden eagles, lynxes, and snow leopards. You can travel along the famous silk road that runs through several countries, across land and sea, that was built for trade. There are beautiful mosques, mausoleums and fortresses with traditional architecture and minarets; a refreshing change from European influences. As Uzbekistan is still an unusual tourist destination for the UK, most other tourists will be domestic. Also, from April 2017, Uzbekistan will be axing visas for UK residents over the age of 55 to visit the country. This will undoubtedly raise interests in the unusual place so book now!

To enquire about a tour to Uzbekistan, give us a call for extra savings on top of Cox & Kings prices.

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Adam Saligman
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Marina Sorokina

 Iran

A kaleidoscope of colours and cultures, Iran is a patchwork of cultures and gorgeous Arabian architecture with an underlining of tradition. Each mosque is unique and carefully creates, from the grand and imposing, optical illusion blue of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque to the shadow play of the Nasir Ol Molk Mosque with its rainbow stained glass windows casting pink lights into the intricate carvings of the mosque to the Goharshard Mosque, with classical gold and blue mosaic carvings. Iran is a destination for art and architect lovers, with beautiful palaces and mausoleums and colourful cities. The locals are friendly as long as you abide by the strict dress code. Discover a new type of opulence with Isfahan, the city is decorated with azure blue mosaic and pays homage to its commercial past by selling world famous Persian rugs and handcrafted trinkets.

To enquire about a tour to Iran, give us a call for extra savings on top of Cox & Kings prices.

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Ali KoRdZaDeh
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Ali KoRdZaDeh

Romania

Romania is often looked over when it comes to European summer holidays, however, the fairytale country has a collections of folkoric castles, picturesque mountains and medieval towns. Discover Saxon churches, painted monasteries and even thatch huts. Explore Bran Castle, one of the castles that inspired Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, and wonder at the medieval villages frozen in time, with gothic architecture and preserved interiors. There is also an ice hotel made purely from ice with stunning ice created interiors and cosy animal throws. In the summer, the bear sanctuary is a popular place to visit the black and brown bears as you have never seen them before.

The natural beauty of Romania lies in its stunning mountain ranges such as the Carpathian Mountains , the Danube Delta, the Black Sea and its lakes and forests such as Lake Balea, a mirror like lake reflecting the green valleys that surround it and Lacul Albastru (the Blue Lake), which is blue green but turns a azure blue colour when several people swim in it due to sulphides in the water.

To enquire about a tour to Romania, give us a call for extra savings on top of Cox & Kings prices.

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Cristi Gheorghe

Ethiopia

Ethiopia offers so much to travellers, it’s a wonder that it is even on this list. The monumental Blue Nile falls offer a unique sight of huge gushing falls through a rainforest, Simien Mountains a lush pointed mountain peaks ruled by the Gelada Baboons and the semi excavated and magnificent Lalibela Church. Meet the locals, the Ibex and the Gelada Monkeys and tour the ancient stone castles of Emperor Fasiladas and then get a flavour of the culture with a shopping trip to the mercato.

To enquire about a tour to Ethiopia, give us a call for extra savings on top of Cox & Kings prices.

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Russia

From the opulence of Catherine’s Palace adorned with golden detailing and an ostentatious, golden, great hall to the stunning, fractured frozen blue of Lake Baikal in winter to its ultramarine, thawed summer state, Russia has a rich and cultural history for tourists to experience as well as untouched, natural beauty in its thick Serbian forests and frozen lakes. Moscow is quintessentially the trademark for Russia, standing as a beacon for its imperial and opulent past. The red square and the Kremlin are must sees for any traveller. The light sprinkle of snow in winter turns Moscow into a fairy-tale  with snow dusted colourful minarets making it look like the most extravagant ginger bread house ever.

To enquire about a tour to Russia, give us a call for extra savings on top of Cox & Kings prices.

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Wherever you wish to explore, contact us for extra savings on top of Cox & Kings amazing prices for luxury world tours.

Our pick of the most romantic holidays

Whether you are looking to relax on a beach in each other’s company, bring the whole family along and connect, build memories together as a couple, or just treat yourself to an eye-opening tour, these holidays are our picks for the best romantic holidays.

Neilson, Buca Beachclub

Where: Analipsi, Greece

Style: Adult only

Why we love this: An all inclusive, adult only resort on coastal Greece. What’s not to love! This resort now also has an a la carte option for a premium dining experience.

Who this would suit: Couples with an adventurous side. Make use of the range of amazing activities including yoga classes, tennis courts, rock climbing, dinghy sailing and mountain biking.

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Sandals, Royal Plantation

Where: Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Style: Tropical

Why we love this: This beachfront resort is the epitome of paradise. This resort also features their Butler service to all who stay there so you can get the ultimate, Sandals Luxury experience at no extra cost.

Who this would suit: Anyone looking for luxury and a truly romantic getaway. With unlimited wine, fine dining at 5 restaurants, scuba diving and golf, this holiday would suit people who enjoy the all inclusive experience.

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Club Med, Turquoise

Where: Turquoise, Turks and Caicos

Style: Adult Only

Why we love this:  With all inclusive sports such as a flying trapeze school, windsurfing school and sailing school, and extra sports such as horse riding and scuba diving, there is something for everyone so you need never be bored.

Who this would suit: Cultural enthusiast and sun worshipers. With powder white, tropical sand and azure blue water, don’t let this beauty go to waste. There is also a rich culture here and plenty to learn about in the main tourist centre.

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Mark Warner, San Lucianu

Where: Corsica

Style: Family

Why we love this: Think all inclusive, child care centres, entertainment and free sports activities on a stunning island. There is also a spa that you can enjoy at extra cost and coached lessons so that you can learn to; sail, windsurf, kayak and paddle board.

Who this would suit: Couples who want to bring their kids along. This resort is great for both kids and adults. Your children will be well looked after at the child care centre if you need some alone time and you can have fun bonding with them with the multitude of activities that are on offer.

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Cox & Kings, Highlights of Japan Tour

Where: Japan

Style: Solo Traveller

Why we love this: Have a “Eat, Pray, Love” moment and go find yourself whilst learning about Japan’s beautiful history. Reflect at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, enjoy the tranquil Kenroku-en garden and the castle of Kanazawa before exploring the imperial city of Kyoto, visit the picturesque island of Miyajima with its iconic Torii gate and experience the buzz of Tokyo.

Who this would suit: Those who want to romance the most important person in their life, themselves. Treat yourself to a luxury tour through Japan with other solo travellers. Make new friends and discover the beauty of Japan.

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Hurtigruten, Arctic Highlights

Where: Cruising around Norway

Style: Adventure

Why we love this: The beautiful Aurora Borealis is Mother Nature’s ultimate light show, what could be more romantic than to snuggle up with a loved one under the ethereal shimmering lights on a cruise?

Who this would suit: Adventurous couples who don’t mind the cold and want more than just a beach holiday. Most of your journey will be hunting the Northern Lights but there are also extra excursions that you can opt for.

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Wendy Wu, The Magnificent China Tour

Where: Travelling through China

Style: Traveller

Why we love this: Spend 22 days zipping around China by air, boat and coach whilst getting to see the highlights of the country and ticking off a bucket list dream with style. We also love this as it is great value for money with transport, transfers, accommodation, meals and touring guides with entrance fees included in the price.

Who this would suit: Bucket list travellers who are burning to discover somewhere new together and make amazing memories.

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Whatever holiday you would like to book or if you have any questions, call us on 0121 213 0012 and we can advise.

The Resurgence of the Gap Year

With rising University prices many students in the past few years missed out on a gap year to hurriedly find a cheaper place at a University. Likewise, the older generation may not have had the luxury of taking a year out to travel or even just a few months. Many may not have had the courage to travel so far for so long. However, recent trends suggest that the Gap year or a similar trend has been attracting wanderlust stricken individuals in the best possible way. Whether you are 80 and finally have the time out to tour Uzbekistan, you are in your mid or quarter life crisis and you finally have the money to explore Asia for a month or you are a young person who has plucked the courage to travel for a year but who may want the company of a small group with them. We have the answer.

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Our range of escorted tours range from 7 days to 365 days and we create a bespoke trip for any individual. Whether you want to backpack across the Rockies and sleep in a tent, visit the bazaars in Morocco and stay with a local family or simply want to see the famous sights but stay in your own hotel room our tours come in a range of lengths, styles and levels of comfort.

You can choose your tours by style, such as a hiking, cycling or boat tour. By climate; desert, arctic or city. By sights; wildlife, cultural or historical. Simply call us on 0121 213 0012 for more information and advice about where to go for your trip of a lifetime. Don’t just be a tourist and create memories,  create experiences.

We work closely with Intrepid, a renowned tour agency, to offer the type of experiences that you can tell your children about. Take a hot air balloon over Jaipur and then choose to stay with a local family and pitch in with cooking the dinner or explore the ancient Angkor temples in Cambodia and yet retire to a comfortable hotel. Gap years and travelling are no longer just for students, with family friendly tours and low physical exertion trips, everyone can travel the world.

We can also offer extra excursions wherever you are so you can facilitate your mini excursions even on a different holiday. If you are in Thailand, contact us to book your trip to Phi Phi islands for extra savings, if you are in New York, contact us to book a Street Art tour with Intrepid or a an Urban Adventure, full day food tour in Iran, tasting Persian delicacies.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t just go on a holiday, live your holiday. For more tours or to find out more about Intrepid tours, call us on 0121 213 0012 and we can offer extra savings on top of the provider prices.

Club Med Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon

Club Med  have been tantalisingly quiet about their new and highly anticipated new resort, Club Med – Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon. That is, until now. With the new release of their video, the short film gives us a sneak peek as to what we can expect from a Club Med ski holiday on such a phenomenal and famous mountain.

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Club Med have given us a short and titillating overview of what’s to come. Expect Club Med attention to details with fantastic food, all inclusive activities and spas with a 360° view of the surrounding mountains.  This panoramic backdrop is not just a view, it will be your surroundings as the resort is built on the edge of a cliff at 1600m, and will overlook the valley below.

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Situated in the heart of the Grand Massif domain, the Resort is only 1hour and 15mins from Geneva making it easy for family who prefer to avoid longer transfer times. The ski-in / ski-out Resort will offer direct access to the slopes from the ski equipment room and you can benefit from a lift pass which covers two domains – Massif and Flaine (5 stations: Samöens, Morillon, Les carroz and Flaine + a natural ski park in Sixt Fer a Cheval.)

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Massif slopes is ideal for beginners while Flaine slopes is better suited for intermediate and experts skiers.The total number of runs 265km (20 green, 64 blue, 50 red, 14 black). Access to Samoëns Town: Take Grand Massif Express ski lift from Samoëns 1600 to Samoëns village, then take the shuttles to the city centre or walk 10 minutes from the ski lift arrival.

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 You can also choose to have ski lessons if you are a beginner or even choose from a range of other activities if Skiing isn’t your forte. There are two corners dedicated to wine and healthy lighter food and a restaurant dedicated to families with kids meals & a baby corner. It has a Gourmet Lounge with menu design by French Chef Edouard Loubet, two main pools, (indoor and outdoor heated pools), Hammam & Sauna, Fitness Area and a Spa. There are also clubs for children and teens with an art studio, game factory and a music academy. The resort is even open through the summer so if you wanted to trade the beach for a mountian range, spa and pools, call us to register your interest for Summer 2018.

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If you want to know more or would like to register your interest, give us a call on 0121 213 0012 and keep checking our Club Med Deals & Offers page.

Watch the video here:

Enquire for HUGE Club Med Grand Massif Samoëns Morillon Savings on top of Club Med Prices! ABTA 30 Years.

Words that are untranslatable to English

Hygge

The word Hygge in Danish epitomises the feeling of being curled up in front of a fireplace. The feeling you get when your cold skin starts to prickle as you are warming up and the warmth spreads across your skin like warm water. It’s the heart warming feeling of comfortable love. The closest word in the English language that we have to describe this is cosiness. But somehow that just doesn’t do it justice.

Experience Hygge for yourself with one of our winter holidays and curl up in front of a fire after a days skiing.

 

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Waldeinsamkeit

The German word for being alone in the woods, is Waldeinsamkeit. It’s the creepy but comforting feeling that you have the space and privacy that you need. It is the snug and restful feeling of knowing that you can relax and spend tie with yourself.

Experience Waldeinsamkeit with one of our Pyrenees activity adventure holidays and walk in the Aigues Tortes National Park.

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Komorebi and Hanami

Are both Japanese words that are not translatable into English. Hanami translates into looking at flowers and Komorebi translates to the dappled light that filters through the leaves in the trees. You can experience these in Japan when the cherry blossoms bloom in March and April and japan is full of soft pink flowers.

Take a look at our tours to Japan.

Friolero

Translates to someone who is sensitive to cold weather. It is a Spanish word and if you or someone you know is a “Friolero” then we have the perfect cure for you; a winter sun beach holiday! Check out our offers.

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Aware

This is another Japanese word that refers to the bitter sweetness of a brief and fading moment of transcendent beauty. This could be a number of beautiful things but it is particularly reminiscent of the northern lights, the ethereal natural light display that many flock to see every year but can only be seen at certain times.

Have a look at our northern lights holidays.

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Hanyauku

This is a Rukwangali word that means; the act of walking across sand on your tiptoes. Toes have always been a signature of emotion and delight such as toe curling and this image denotes joy at the feeling of sand beneath their feet.

To find our winter sun holidays click here.

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Sobremesa

This is the Spanish word for spending time together once you have finished your meal. We have all been there, the plates have been cleared and yet you can’t seem to stop the conversation. It’s the freedom of being so unaware of time and your surroundings that you are transported to a place that is only you and the person you are conversing with.

Experience this free feeling of timelessness and awe with one of our discovery holidays.

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Mångata

When moonlight hits the water, either in the sea or a lake and creates a road like reflection. This peaceful and silent scene is a mystical and beautiful picture to behold. It has inspire millions of moonscapes and paintings, artists and writers alike.

Find your own inspirational moment with our picturesque getaways in Asia.

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Fernweh

Another German word which is like the feeling of homesickness but for somewhere that you haven’t been to. It is more like an unpleasant yearning, a knot in the stomach and a deep want to experience a particular place.

Satisfy your yearnings for your most wanted destinations with us and enquire for advice.

Wanderlust

Although this term has now been accepted into the English language and many understand the meaning, it was a German term for the need to travel. It is more than just a want but an all-consuming urge to see new places. As Brits we are intrepid travellers and so rather than translating this untranslatable word, we have adopted it, come to understand it and every day live it.

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Explore more and satisfy your wanderlust by getting in touch on 0121 213 0012 to register your interest in travelling with our travel experts. Even if you don’t know where to go, with our experience and expertise we can find the right place for you to experience.

Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai

Opulence of this grandeur is not unexpected from Dubai, they pride themselves on amazing customer service and are fast becoming a popular holiday destination for families and young couples alike. Thanks to beautiful beaches and their outstanding landscapes, skyscrapers and man made beaches, this resort is the cherry on top of a spectacular location. Beaches designed into the shapes of palms that can be seen from space cannot have an unspectacular hotel resort. Enter Atlantis, paying homage to the mystical utopia that was swallowed by the sea referenced by Plato, this resort encompasses an underwater utopia by offering fully submerged bedroom suites with a viewing glass to the sea creatures beyond, an underwater restaurant and submerged slides.

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The signature motto for the resort is “It’s another world” and when you see the pictures you can believe it. With 20 restaurants, some with a marine life view, royal and underwater suites, an Aquaventure waterpark and an 11 million litre marina habitat of “The Lost Chambers Aquarium”, allows visitors to fully submerse in this other-worldly resort.

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You will have the chance to interact with the animals and embark on a sea trek in the aquarium with a sea helmet and get up close to the creatures like never before. Atlantis is built for both romance and families. The Atlantis Kids Club is designed specifically for children up to age 12, where every day is a new and exciting adventure with non-stop action through arts and crafts projects, climbing walls, underwater theatres and video gaming rooms. There are a wide range of water sports available including kayaks, pedal boats and sailing. Guests can also sit back, relax and enjoy the Dubai coastline on luxury yachts.

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The opulence isn’t just in the decoration, gourmet food is served in their restaurants and they can even offer an ethereal wedding venue with a backdrop of marine life. Enjoy the underwater romantic suite for your honeymoon and have a wedding you will never forget. You can even top off the Royal treatment with helicopter tours of the city from Atlantis’s own helipad and stay in the royal suite for a truly majestic experience.

For more luxury holidays or to find out more about Atlantis, Dubai, call us on 0121 213 0012 and we can offer extra savings on top of the Atlantis prices.