Thursday, 30 December 2010

Picture of the week...Thailand on Christmas Eve

Happy New Year to all our readers!

This picture was taken on Christmas Eve by our Director Oliver as he visited Six Senses 'Soneva Kiri' resort in Thailand. More details of Oliver's trip to Thailand and this fantastic resort coming soon!!

The view is of the area between the Beach Villa's pool and the private small beach of the villa, with the lagoon in the distance!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Royal Wedding packages now on sale!


or call us on 01543 258631

A range of 3*, 4* & 5* hotel packages are on offer...

St Petersburg in Winter...

Dave in our office recently tavelled to the beautiful city of St Petersburg. Below is his trip report, giving just a glimpse of what to expect from the city, including the various experiences on offer when visiting St Petersburg in Russia for a short break, tour or holiday.

To view photographs from Dave's trip visit our Facebook page by clicking here

To view our current special offers and tour suggestions that are on sale now click here

My first trip to Russia - a taster break to St Petersburg...

An early start as the British Airways flight from Heathrow was departing at 0930hrs, amazingly after just under 3 hours we were landing in St Petersburg . Time to adjust our watches as they are 3 hours in front of UK time and after completing immigration facilities incredibly quickly we were on our way to 'The Hotel Astoria' (30 minutes drive) for a two night stay.

The Astoria, a Rocco Forte property (graded 5* Deluxe) has been at the centre of the City’s history since it opened in 1912. Legend has it that Adolf Hitler sent out invitations to a celebratory party to be held in the hotel to celebrate his capture of St Petersburg, needless to say the party never took place! My room had a stunning view of St Isaac’s Cathedral, was extremely comfortable and had the added bonus of being within walking distance of The Hermitage Museums and the shopping areas of Nevsky Project.


View from my room in The Astoria Hotel, St Petersburg

That evening there was a chance to meet up with the hotel management over dinner in the stunning Davidov restaurant and also to take in a tour of the hotel and its sister property next door, the 4* superior Angleterre. The bar in the Angleterre was also well used to round off an excellent start to a busy few days.

Our first full day saw us visit the famous Hermitage Museum – packed full of paintings, sculptures and works of art it is an absolutely amazing place to visit. It is said that if you spent one minute in front of every object it would take over 8 years to see them all. Usual tours last for a maximum of 3 hours and just give you a chance to experience one of the world’s greatest art museums.

Heritage Museum, St Petersburg

In the afternoon we visited the Russian Cruiser Aurora from where the October Revolution began in 1917 followed by site inspection of the Petro Palace a 4* hotel that completed our day.


Russian Cruiser Aurora


The next day we visited Peterhof a magnificent palace overlooking the Baltic Sea – not at its best in autumn as the fountains are closed from October to May but still a stunning place to visit and one of St Petersburg’s most famous and popular visitor attractions. Lunch was taken at a restaurant in the grounds and this was the first and probably the last time I shall sample cabbage pie!


Peterhof

On our return we checked into the Grand Hotel Europe for a 3 night stay. This is a 5* Deluxe property which opened in 1824 as Russia’s first 5 Star Hotel. For me this really lived up to its grading and the highlight was enjoying a fantastic Tchaikovsky evening in their famous L’Europe Restaurant with a wonderful dinner and magnificent music as well as a ballet duo performing on the stage of the restaurant - a truly magical experience!

The next day we took the opportunity to visit three of St Petersburgs most impressive buildings, The Peter & Paul Fortress, St Isaac’s Cathedral and probably the most photographed building – The Church on the Spilled Blood. Later that day we did a backstage visit to one of the main theatres in St Petersburg and watched the cast rehearsing and the ballet dancers training. There are so many sights to see in St Petersburg, however our guide ensured we made the most of our time. It was really beneficial to have someone who knew the city so well so that no time was wasted.

The Church that spilled blood

Our next and final full day saw us visiting the Catherine The Greats Palace and also the palace at Pavlosk, yet two more stunning buildings and our last evening saw us take in a ballet at the famous Mariinsky Theatre which for most of the group was the highlight of a wonderful few days.

Petrodvorests - Peter the Great's Summer Palace

The trip was not just about culture; in between we also visited most of the main hotels, sampled Russian food in traditional surroundings and enjoyed the odd drink or two in some of the many local bars. In summary St Petersburg is a fantastic city, much closer than most people think, full of wonderful surprises and an ideal destination to spend some time

To view our latest special offers on breaks and tours to Russia including St Petersburg & Moscow click here.

To view all of Dave's pictures from his visit to St Petersburg visit our Facebook gallery by clicking here.

Call Dave on 01543 258631 to plan your holiday to St Petersburg



Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A Safe Bet For William And Kate In Tanzania & Kenya...


Was it by pure coincidence that Prince William and Kate Middleton's plans for a honeymoon destination happen to coincide with the launch of one of our main Africa suppliers new brochure? According to the bookmaker William Hill, Tanzania is the current favourite, with 4 to 1 odds in its favour, while Kenya, where the original proposal took place, stands at 10 to 1.

William, already a big fan of Africa, can expect to enjoy with Kate candle-lit dinners deep in the bush, romantic walks on a long white powdery beach, and sundowners on a kopje looking over the wilderness - a honeymoon in Africa is an album of romantic adventures. Add convenient flights from the UK and minimal jetlag, and it is hard to resist the allure of a bush-and-beach honeymoon to start royal life together.

For couples of maybe more modest means and who may not be able to decide between the two countries, Robert Broad Travel offers a holiday combining both Tanzania and Kenya. After a flight to Nairobi followed by a transfer by light aircraft to the Masai Mara, honeymooners would spend three nights enjoying spectacular game viewing at Kicheche Bush Camp. After a night at a boutique hotel in Nairobi, they would then head to Zanzibar in Tanzania for seven nights at Breezes Beach Club.

The holiday would cost from £2,475 per person booked on a honeymoon basis with Robert Broad Travel (http://www.africaluxuryholidays.co.uk T 01543 258631) including return air transfers Nairobi-Mara-Nairobi, internal flights Nairobi-Zanzibar and Zanzibar-Dar es Salaam, and return road transfers on Zanzibar. Included within the price at Breezes are half board accommodation, beach lunch, a massage, sundowners, kite surfing lesson, henna tattoo, flowers and wine on arrival and yoga session, while Kicheche Bush includes all meals, selected drinks, safari game drives and bush walks. The price does not include international flights Nairobi and back from Dar es Salaam.

Personal knowledge and independent advice - Dave in our office has visited both Tanzania and South Africa, and Nathan & Alan have also been to different areas of South Africa and so your holiday plans are in safe hands with us. We are also financially protected by our own ABTA license, as well as the ATOL license of our tour operator partners. And so wherever you are looking to travel to contact us on 01543 258631.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Cycling along the Golden Gate Bridge


Taken during a visit to San Francisco. A truly unique and thoroughly enjoyble way of experiencing the colossal Golden Gate Bridge. Collect your bike from Fisherman's Wharf, cycle along the purpose built cycle routes to the start of the bridge. Take your time and enjoy the stunning views, back onto the city. Then descend down a long and winding, and speedy hill into Sausalito or onto Tiburon. From here you can get the ferry back to the city. An excellent day out to enjoy with friends and family. Call us to plan your holiday to San Francisco and beyond on 01543 258631.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Lisa Experiences India's Maharaja's Express

Earlier this year Lisa in our office was one of the first travel agents in the UK to experience the new luxury train, the 'Maharajas Express' in India.

Lisa comments "This was my first trip to India, and it was a real treat! The Maharaja's Express is the perfect place to see the country from. It is the first train in India that is allowed to travel through state, allowing tourists to see more of the country in one visit."

"Everything is taken care for you on these luxurious holidays. The services onboard are extremely good, and the excursions give you the opportunity to experience the country at its best, whilst having the facility to retreat back to the comfort of the train for your onwards journey."

We are taking bookings now for 2011 tours on the Maharaja's Express including some very special tours led by well known names such as Michael Portillo, Michael Portillo, John Sergeant, Vivek Singh and Sir Mark Tully. For full details of these tours and others onboard the Maharaja's Express click here or call Lisa on 01543 258631.

(pictured: Lisa from our office outside the Maharaja's Express in India.)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Andrea Bocelli in Berlin...

Both Alan & Kirsty in our office have watched Andrea Bocelli live in the UK and both long to see him abroad too. It is especially frustrating for them as we have been selling tours to watch Andrea Bocelli abroad for a few years now, in Tuscany, Stockholm and now Berlin. In January, Andrea Bocelli will perform at Berlin's famous Berlin’s famous Philharmonie and we are able to offer our clients packages with flights from London and accommodation in the city, along with a city tour included. His forthcoming short tour of Germany promises to include works by Handel, Verdi and Fauré.

This 5 day tour is just £599 per person, including tickets to the concert! We even have access to some ticket upgrades (while stocks last!!).

The flight departs on 6th January 2011. For full details of the tour click here or call us on 01543 258631.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

We experience Eurostar's new 'Standard Premier'

For many of our clients, a little extra comfort, service and refreshments are a great way to get their holiday by rail off to a good start. Eurostar have recently re-launched their travelling classes to now include 3 options; Standard, Standard Premier and Standard Business. For leisure travellers we recommend Standard Premier that gives more comfortable seating and complimentary snack and drinks.

On a recent trip through the tunnel to France it was great to be able to experience this service and we can highly recommend it to our clients. The picture shows the meal on offer (cold snack) which was plenty for the short 1 hour 30 minutes trip from Lille back to London's excellent St Pancras station.

Planning a short break or holiday via Eurostar, call us on 0845 003 2210 or 01543 258631 to discuss your requirements. We are now also able to offer a range of rail tours from Great Rail Journeys as well as other rail operators, click here for a few rail tour holiday suggestions from around the world.


Thursday, 16 September 2010

Our very own Oliver crowned Chairman of AITO Specialist Travel Agents

As announced on Twitter this afternoon...

Youthful new leader joined by Ted Wake of Kirker Holidays to oversee renaissance of travel agents

AITO Specialist Travel Agents has announced the appointment of Oliver Broad of Robert Broad Travel, Lichfield, as its new chairman to steer the organisation into a fresh era.

Oliver is supported by Ted Wake of Kirker Holidaysas his Deputy in the creation of a new supporting role. Together they will guide the group of 130 independent companies through a renaissance for travel agents which is seeing consumers returning to the High Street to buy their holidays at the expense of DIY internet bookings.

Oliver brings a dynamic edge to the role of chairman with a wealth of experience not just in agency sales and management but also social networking. He has over ten years’ experience in the family travel agency business, Robert Broad Travel, and has spent two years on the AITO Agents panel. One of its leading lights, he has helped developed new initiatives including AITOversity, AITO Agents All Stars and AITO Holiday Inspiration Week (2 – 9 October 2010). Oliver’s knowledge of online and new media combined with his infectious enthusiasm for the industry will help usher AITO Agents through the next decade as the panel focuses on further new initiatives. He and the panel, comprising five agents and four AITO operators, will ensure the organisation becomes the leading group of independent agents and the very first source of expert advice for Britain’s discerning travellers.

“AITO Agents is not a consortium and we don’t and won’t tell our members how to run their businesses,” comments Oliver. “With the support of 100 niche AITO tour operators who are committed to selling through AITO Agents, we will produce the training, marketing support and unique networking opportunities they require to help them stand out in a challenging trading environment.

“There is no doubt that the consumer is becoming more sophisticated and now needs expert personal advice more than ever before. As clients begin to suffer from ‘internet booking fatigue’ and move away from cheap ‘sausage factory’ holidays, AITO products are a refreshing alternative and the perfect tool to ensure that AITO Specialist Agents continue to stay ahead of the market. No other group of travel agents has such a diverse and specialist product range to offer to their clients. For those who seek a quality holiday experience away from the crowds, the expert advice and unique products available from AITO Specialist Travel Agents are exactly what they need.”

Never before have so many AITO operators sold through AITO Agents - more than 70% of AITO operators now do so. The creation of the new Deputy Chairman role, to which Ted Wake brings valuable experience and know-how from an operator’s perspective, reflects the growing co-operation between the two sides and the success of the Closer Ties scheme.

New members joining the AITO Agents panel have created a younger team full of ideas. The panel welcomes Tony Byrne from Great Rail Journeys and Peter Buckell from Global Travel Lounge. Other travel agent panel members include: Gemma Antrobus – Haslemere Travel, Paul Bennett – Colchester Travel, Stephanie Jones of operator Anatolian Sky, and Chris Edwards of operator ITC/Complete Caribbean.

With plenty of experts in the travel industry, who should you trust to give an honest insight into the current market? AITO Specialist Travel Agents (http://www.aitoagents.com) represent 130 of the leading independent travel agencies in the UK – all fully independent, and all in the front line of the travel industry.

For more information on the 130 AITO Specialist Travel Agents, their specialities and their locations, visit http://www.aitoagents.com or call 020 8744 9271.

Ends
16 September 2010
Press: For more information on AITO Specialist Travel Agents, please call Rob Looker or Ian Bradley on 020 8891 4440 or email r.looker@travelpr.co.uk.

Nathan visits Switzerland...view video online now!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Bellagio Fountain Show, taken by Katherine during her trip...

Katherine had a fantastic trip around the American West, and one of the highlights was Las Vegas. In this video, Katherine captures the amazing water fountain show outside the Bellagio Hotel. More pictures and videos from Katherine's trip are coming soon!

Wedding Fayre success with Helen at Barton Marina...

What a fantastic day on Sunday! Our Wedding & Honeymoon specialist Helen represented us at a local Wedding Fayre along with our good friends from Beachcomber Tours.

Attendance was very good and we were able to talk to a large number of locals who are interested in arranging some fantastic trips!

Thanks to Helen for taking the time to arrange our stand, and for Beachcomber for their support. Pictured left is Helen on our stand.

For more details about getting married abroad or where to spend your Honeymoon, contact Helen on 01543 258631.

Helen enjoyed her own wedding in Barbados and also highly recommends Mauritius as a great wedding or Honeymoon destination (our MD's son got married there a few years ago, and with their 1 wedding per day policy your day really is extra special! )

Monday, 13 September 2010

Oliver visits Lebanon & Syria...


What a fantastic trip! Beirut is alive and doing extremely well for itself a lot of development still ongoing, and some fantastic shopping, cafes and restaurants ready and waiting to welcome visitors from around the world.

This pictures was taken from the top of the Four Seasons hotel in Beirut just after we arrived at about midnight. We spent 2 nights here visiting Byblos and the Jeitta caves, plus a fantastic walking tour of Beirut.

Then we traveled by car to see Baalbeck, more pictures of that fantastic roman site to come! We crossed the border into Syria staying at the Four Seasons in Damascus for a further 2 nights where we were able to visit Bosra in the south, just 5km from the Jordanian border. It certainly was a fantastic trip, thanks to Four Seasons and bmi for making it happen. I will post more pictures and details on here soon...