Friday, 28 December 2012

Sweden & Ice Hotel, Dec 2012

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Kaamos-Room-(3)Kaamos-Room-(2)JourneyIceHotel-Work-in-ProgressIceHotel-ReceptionIceHotel-Ice-Room
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Photographs from John's recent visit to Sweden including the famous Ice Hotel

Thursday, 27 December 2012

John Visits Sweden's Ice Hotel & more

John has recently braved the cold to visit a real life winter wonderland in Sweden incuding the famous Ice Hotel. Here he reports back on his experience...

Day 1: London Heathrow to Kiruna via Stockholm.
I had an early start for my flight to Northern Sweden via Stockholm but the flights offered a good service and complimentary tea and coffee.


Upon arrival in Kiruna we were met by the local representatives and transferred to Bjorkliden (approximately 1 hour 40 minutes), the journey through the Swedish countryside was spectacular and we were lucky enough to see wild reindeer - although they were very stubborn and refused to move out of the way of our vehicle! Our first night was spent more than 500 metres above sea level at the Aurora Sky Station in Abisco


This really was all I had hoped for and the Sámi food was very welcome after our 20 minute chairlift journey; I would definitely recommend you take a balaclava for the journey.

Our evening included a local Northern Lights expert informing us on the best ways to see the Northern Lights and a brief talk on the history. The rest of the evening was left to us, we could either spend the time outside with the hope of seeing the Northern lights from the best possible location, alternatively you could say in the warmth and enjoy a couple of beverages and be informed by one of the Northern Lights experts if a sighting had been made.


Day 2: A night in a woodland lodge
We started the day with a full breakfast and begun our journey to the next resort (approximately 2 hours), a beautiful lodge in a truly unique location. Set completely in the unspoiled wilderness, you are welcomed by the owner, his team, and about 90 howling huskies. Little did we know this was just the start of our amazing encounter with the huskies. After checking into the lodge we were geared up and guided through the forest to the husky area. After a short safety briefing we were introduced to our huskies and ready to begin our tour. For those who wished, we had the option of becoming mushers for the tour. This really was the highlight of my trip and a must for all our clients. Once we returned to the husky area we had the opportunity to release the huskies from their reigns and visit the husky puppies that were only 6 weeks old.

That evening we enjoyed a 3-course dinner back in the warmth and relaxed sampling local beverages infront of the fire.


Day 3: Ice Hotel
On our journey from the lodge to the Ice Hotel we took a slight detour though the city of Kiruna and visited a couple of brilliant properties. Kiruna is home to the world’s largest underground steelworks and we later found out the entire city will be moved over a number of years so that the steelworks can mine under the current city location. Some areas of the mine have become tourist hotspots and can be visited on a guided tour including the option to explore underground. We left Kiruna for our onwards journey to Jukkasjarvi, the location of the world famous Ice Hotel.

Ice Hotel Entrance
On arrival we were given all of our winter clothing including warm suits with gloves and boots and begun our Ice Hotel Tour. During the day, the Ice Hotel is open to the public as a tourist attraction, although you won’t come across large crowds, just smaller groups looking around the amazing rooms and features.

Ice Hotel Art Suite
There are a number of different accommodation types; the Snow Rooms are quite basic with just beds and have no ice sculptures. The Ice Rooms, however, do have sculptures and are more spacious whilst the Art Suites are truly amazing! Each is individually designed with excellent sculptures and the Deluxe Room which is used as the Honeymoon Suite is out of this world. New for this year is the Northern Lights Suite which includes an amazing light display across the walls as ceiling of your room. There are also three warm types of accommodation in the same complex as the Ice Hotel; Northern Lights chalet, Nordic chalet and the Kaamos rooms. All are well equipped and yes, the warm accommodation all feature hair dryers (our most commonly asked question!)

Ice Hotel Deluxe Suite
At 6pm the day guests have left and the hotel gets ready for the big finale. A night sleeping on a bed of ice! Whilst you wait you can enjoy a 3 course meal in one of the two restaurants, relax in the bar or sample a couple of vodkas in the infamous Ice Bar. 

At the Ice Hotel I took part on the snowmobile tour into the wilderness. The snowmobile can reach speeds of 70 kph and was a particular favourite with the guys.

Day 4: Homeward bound
Today we went to visit the mi people and take a reindeer ride. This was great fun and we were taken to a cabin for hot drinks and a snack to warm up and given a very interesting talk on the Sámi culture, their traditions and their history.

After we had finished our tour, we departed for our return flight home. This was a very short 15 minute transfer.


View examples of the holidays we offer to Sweden's famous Ice Hotel on our specialist website www.icehotels.co.uk.

If you are interested in a Swedish winter experience contact Robert Broad Travel on 01543 258631 and ask for John, Lisa or Kirsty who have all visited the Ice Hotel, or e-mail your enquiry to vip@robertbroadtravel.co.uk

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Lisa Reports from the Californian Coast

Recently Lisa travelled to the beautiful state of California along the infamous Route 1 and visited some of its most impressive towns along the stunning coastline. Here she reports on the week she spent there and the new opportunities available to our clients away from the usual tourist traps...

Thursday
We flew direct from Heathrow to San Francisco with British Airways experiencing their transatlantic Club Class; the service on board was excellent, with fully flat beds and an excellent choice of entertainment and food. 




We arrived in San Francisco in the early evening and were transferred to a very modern, friendly airport hotel, perfect for any clients who want to stay close to the airport for a relaxing night before the onward journey the next morning.  If you prefer, we can arrange our recommended hotel in the centre of San Francisco to spend a few nights to explore this wonderful city.

Friday
We began our Californian coastal tour after breakfast, heading to San Mateo county, approximately 25 miles from San Francisco; the coastal route was incredible. Upon arrival in Half Moon Bay we were shown one of the most luxurious hotels in the area, with great views of the Pacific ocean and a brilliant golf course, perfect for keen golfers. 


After leaving Half Moon Bay we travelled along the pristine coast of California's scenic Highway 1, approximately 1 hour south from San Francisco.  It is connected to four state parks, 30,000 acres of hiking trails and a fabulous wildlife reserve.  Costanoa offers the unique opportunity to experience outdoor living in comfortable, stylish surroundings with the choice of accommodation in lodges, bungalows or tents. Perfect for outdoor activity stays.

We then departed for Santa Cruz, which is about an hour’s drive. On arrival we had a tour of the Santa Cruz boardwalk, which has an arcade and a few rides. Santa Cruz is the home of surfing and most people are either surfing, paddle boarding, playing volley ball or having picnics on the beach. There is also a small surfing museum. Santa Cruz has a very relaxed atmosphere and is very beach- and surf-orientated. Here there was the option to stay in hotels located on the beach front, giving you excellent panoramas of the coast.


Saturday
From Santa Cruz we departed for a tour of the famous Spanish Bay. Here you can stay in world-class accommodation with excellent dining and golf facilities, however, if you would rather stay somewhere more modest, the Bay offers a wide choice of alternative accommodation.



We then departed for Carmel and visited a beautiful hotel for a Champagne tour.  The whole place had a very French, European feel and is located in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea; just a short walk from the beach. Carmel is a lovely picturesque village. A short distance from Carmel is one of the most relaxing and beautifully located spas I have ever seen, located in the woodland it has a peaceful wilderness feel to it.


In the evening we slept at the Monetary Aquarium which was an excellent experience, we woke up to huge turtles and sharks swimming past and after breakfast helped to feed the stingrays. 


Sunday
We departed Monterey for Hearst Castle on Highway 1, via Big Sur, which has excellent scenery the whole way. On arrival we had a tour of the castle which is a national and Californian historical landmark mansion located on the central coast of California. It is built high in the mountains and the views are amazing. Many famous people have stayed there in the 1930s and it is now a museum; the grounds and rooms are fantastic. From here we headed to Pismo Beach where there are some very good hotels in brilliant locations.


Monday 
After breakfast we arrived at Pismo Beach for a dune buggy experience which was great fun. Pismo Beach has lots of activities and is more suitable for adventurous clients. From here we headed to Solvang which is a lovely Dutch town. It was very quaint and everything there was Dutch; the restaurants and the bakeries, plus there was even a windmill. A very pretty town and well worth the visit.


In the evening we stayed at a beautiful harbour hotel just opposite Santa Barbara beach, a perfect location for the 2 nights stay. Very relaxing and definitely a location to consider when staying in Santa Barbara.

We dined in a very luxurious restaurant, a favourite with many celebrities, and had our own chef to cook for us. 


Tuesday 
Having breakfasted at a luxurious hotel in nearby Biltmore, where dolphins are often seen in the water close by, we set off for our next day's adventure. This morning was spent  kayaking for 2 hours, where we saw lots of wildlife and was very good fun; there are lots of beach activities to do here. In the afternoon we went on an Urban Wine Trail Experience and visited the Farmers' Market where there were street entertainers and a real buzz in the atmosphere. The Shopping is also very good and the evenings have a great vibe with brilliant restaurants and cool bars. 


Wednesday
Today we headed for Santa Monica where we stayed at a very well located hotel, making the sights of Santa Monica and Venice Beach easily accessible.  

We were transferred to Universal Studios Hollywood where we had a private behind the scenes tour which was excellent, allowing us to see where many films and famous TV series had been filmed. We then had the afternoon to enjoy the rides.


Thursday 
We had breakfast at a hotel in a perfect location, opposite Venice Beach. Venice beach is  very active, with everybody working out, running and doing yoga, there is even a little gym on the beach. Santa Monica is quite exclusive, there are lovely restaurants and shops and a good access point for LA should you want to visit. From here we made our way to San Diego airport which was approximately a 3 hour scenic drive.


Throughout our journey the scenery was amazing and there was lots to see along the whole of the central coast. A truly beautiful location that should be on everybody's 'to do' list.

As everyone's interests and taste's are different I suggest discussing your needs and requirements in depth first, and then I can create the most suitable itinerary choosing ideal number of nights in each area, and hotels to suit your preference and budget.  Whilst there are a range of beautifully luxurious hotels, there are also more basic, smaller but still very comfortable properties that we can recommend.

Here is an example of what we can offer our clients...

We are able to offer a superb 12 day tour of the Californian coast, taking in many of the locations Lisa visited. Prices start from £1959 per person and includes:
  • Return flights from Heathrow (flying to San Francisco and coming back to the UK out of Los Angeles International) 
  • 12 nights accommodation including staying in: San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Carmel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
  • Car rental for the duration
Price is based on 1st October, 2013 departure as an example.

For more information, and to book, contact Robert Broad Travel on 01543 258631 or e-mail vip@robertbroadtravel.co.uk

Thursday, 20 December 2012

RBT Team Travel the World

We have all been busy travelling recently so below is a summary to keep you updated on where we have been. If any of these destinations are of interest to you do contact us at Robert Broad Travel on 01543 258631 or e-mail vip@robertbroadtravel.co.uk.

John spent the end of September in sunny Florida. His highlights included the new LEGOLAND theme & water park, the fabulous Floridian coastline and the brilliant money saving opportunities to be had at Florida's shopping outlets. See his full report here.



Nathan has recently returned from a relaxing break in Santorini. His highlights of this beautiful island were the stunning scenery of the west coast, boutique hotels, fabulous restaurants, wine tasting, great walks and even donkey climbs around the island's capital, Thira, not to mention boat trips around the unique caldera. See Nathan's full report here.
 

Like John, Lisa has also been across the pond to the States, visiting the stunning Californian coast. Here she describes the highlights of her visit.

"I visited California in September and drove through the Central Coast, flying into San Francisco and ending our trip in San Diego. This is a beautiful coast and the scenery is amazing throughout the whole journey. My main highlights of the trip include Santa Cruz, which is a surfers paradise, sleeping in an aquarium in Monterey, visiting Santa Barbara and Santa Monica and having a VIP behind the scenes tour of Universal Studios Hollywood. California offers something for everybody and has so much to do and the weather is fantastic at this time of year. There are lovely towns and lots of wine tasting, wildlife and outdoor activities en route."


And finally, Oliver was able to experience one of our newest locations in Tuscany, the beautiful Castello del Nero, in the heart of Chianti.

"I found this wonderful gem in the heart of Italy, just 30 mintes drive from Florence.  It has a wonderful spa, the largest in the area and is in such a beautifu setting.  It is ideal for a short break, or as a stop over while touring Italy on a self-drive holiday."

FREE night offerStays between 26 March and 31 December 2013, receive 1 free night in a 4-7 night stay or 2 free nights in a 8-11 night stay in all room categories.

Email Oliver here for more details or call us on 01543 258631.




If you would like any information about these destinations, or to book, contact Robert Broad Travel on 01543 258631 or e-mail vip@robertbroadtravel.co.uk.