Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Holiday Questions Answered

This month Nathan answers some more of your travel queries.  E-mail us yours at vip@rbcollection.comvip@rbcollection.com with ‘Journal Travel Question’ as the subject.

I have always wanted to Safari but I don’t want to end up surrounded by too many other vehicles and tourists chasing the same wildlife – where can I go for something more exclusive for our Wedding Anniversary?
Mr Jones, Kings Bromley

This is a fantastic question, as it is something that you have to be very careful about when planning a safari holiday. There are many factors that will determine my answer here, i.e. time of year? Have you been on safari before? How much are you looking to invest in your holiday? For those on a more restricted budget I can suggest some fantastic remote parts of Kenya. Combining these areas with the more exclusive conservancies bordering the world famous Masai Mara will make a fabulous trip. But be warned, as there are two very different sides to Kenya and some can be distracted by attractive low prices which will inevitably mean ending up with hoards of fellow tourists, the opposite of what you want for your special trip. 

Masai Mara

For those of you with slightly deeper pockets, then there can be no better wilderness experience than Botswana, and especially the Okavango Delta. Here you will be one of a select few out on game drives exploring some of Africa's most magical game viewing areas. You will really get a sense of wilderness as you fly in by light aircraft and you will be able to experience a number of different ways to safari, whether that be on foot, game vehicle, motorboat or the famous mokoro (dug out canoe)!

Mokoro in the Okavango Delta

HELP! I am visiting family in Australia and hate flying and so do my teenage sons, what do you suggest?
Mrs Smetherson, Lichfield

Locally you can fly with Emirates from Birmingham via Dubai to Australia which is really handy as you don’t have to worry about flying out of Heathrow.  Dubai is great for a stop-over, especially for families as there is so much to do. From swimming with dolphins in Atlantis to skiing at the world’s largest indoor ski slope to skydiving over the Palm (like my fellow Director Oliver did for charity recently!) We know a great selection of hotels away from the building work that can offer a relaxing break. If Dubai is not your thing then just 1 hour away is Abu Dhabi which is a more laid back Emirate state with a wonderful Mosque, the Ferrari World indoor theme park, the Middle East's biggest water park and a wonderful building-site-free beach. Abu Dhabi is also home to a wonderful Desert Island property as part of a nature reserve adding an interesting experience for all the family, especially teenagers. Approach your flight as if it is part of the trip creating some adventure along the way. If your budget allows, upgrade to Business for more comfort and space.

Abu Dhabi

I am looking for a City Break destination with a short flight, history, culture and plenty to see and do.  I don’t like small cities but at the same time don’t like crowds, is this too much to ask?
Miss Townsend, Sutton Coldfield

Crowds in cities are heavily dependent on the time of year so pick an off-season time to travel; depending on the city we can suggest when is a quieter time to go. A city that ticks all of these boxes, believe it or not, is Prague – there is a great area we know away from the hustle and bustle of the tour groups and stag and hen parties (of which there are much less nowadays anyway). The flight is just under 2 hours and you can fly from East Midlands so it is a convenient destination to visit. The castle is superb and a combined ticket allows you to visit other sights in the city too. It is great city for walkers and living costs are low and so your spending money will go a lot further than some of the other European cities.


I’m looking to plan ahead for some winter sun for but don’t want to fly more than 5 hours, where should I visit?
Mr Coates, Lichfield

The Canary Islands are a firm favourite with British holidaymakers, each island offers something different and all are around 4 hours away. Tenerife is the most popular island and has a good selection of properties including self-catering apartments up to 5* luxury resorts. The Costa Adeje area is popular with our clients as it features a lovely boardwalk style front, with shops and restaurants with an air of quality about them. You may be surprised to hear that Gran Canaria is the second most popular island in the Canaries with British holidaymakers and the Maspalomas area features a wonderful small hotel that we have visited offering excellent service and food. It is a real hidden gem on an island usually dismissed by many, but the white sandy beaches are vast and I am sure you would be pleasantly surprised. For a different Canary Island experience La Gomera is less about beaches and more about scenery, walks, flora and fauna. Fuerteventura has a range of good quality large resorts with white sandy beaches. Each island is very different and so do get in touch to discuss which one would be best for you.


I have heard from friends that some countries can be difficult when travelling with medication, what is your advice?
Mr Ansell, Tamworth

Certain countries do ask you to declare any medication you may be carrying. Ideally, if you are travelling with prescription drugs, take the original prescription with you and if possible a rubber stamped letter from your doctor explaining why you need them. Also only take enough supplies for your holiday, and lastly do declare them on any customs forms that you need to complete. If you are unsure whether this affects your holiday, just ask when you book and we can check for you.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Nathan Answers readers' Holiday Questions

In July's edition of the Journal, the Midlands No. 1 Luxury Magazine,  our Director Nathan answers readers' travel queries, here are those top travel tips...

I have heard mixed reports about when is best to visit Marrakech?
Mr James, Lichfield

Marrakech conjures thoughts of souks, sunsets and, well, sunshine! But be careful, it can get very cold in the winter months. In November for example it can get chilly in the evening and a jacket is essential when waking out for dinner. The daytime temperature can rise to low 20s (Celsius) in the sun, but the air or breeze adds a chill. Visit further into December & January and it can be very cold in the day. On the other hand the summer months can be extremely hot and so our spring or autumn are ideal. Morocco is a big country and so the weather does vary depending on where you go. Further north towards Casablanca it stays pleasantly warm all year round and there is a great 5* coastal resort offering excellent family and golfing facilities that rivals many of the top hotels in other winter-sun destinations such as Dubai, however, it is not only cheaper but also only a 3 hour flight – even closer than the Canary Islands! 


There are so many islands in the Caribbean, which one is best?
Mrs Stevenson, Whittington

Many people get hooked on the Caribbean and spend many years returning, exploring different islands. It is true that there is a wide range of islands and they are all very different, even with their weather patterns. Barbados is the most popular island with British tourists, offering a range of hotel standards but certainly some of the best 5* luxury properties in the Caribbean including the legendary Sandy Lane. The luxury hotels tend to be more geared towards bed and breakfast board, acknowledging the islands appeal for dining out locally. It is a great island if you like to eat out as it has a good social scene. It is, however, very flat and not as picturesque as say, for example, St Lucia with its UNESCO-protected Pitons. 

Sandy Lane, Barbados 

St Lucia offers predominantly all-inclusive hotels with fewer options to eat out locally as some of the hotels are a little more isolated. Transport around the island is slow due to the mountainous terrain and so visitors tend to opt for helicopter transfers or they can also take to the sea to move from one bay to another. The island’s deep rooted history has seen it swap hands 14 times and there are some great activities for teenagers such as zip lining and even a drive in volcano! It is one of our favourite islands and is perfect for a luxurious beach holiday but also for those who are a little more active. 

St Lucia's twin Pitons

If you are a beach lover then Anguilla is perfect, or Antigua offers a wider selection of properties. If you’re seeking the ultimate island escape experience in true luxury then follow in the footsteps of royalty to exquisite island of Mustique. Made famous in the 1970s by Princess Margaret, today the island still attracts some big names, but you wouldn’t know it, as it is such a private place. It is one of the very rare holiday destinations that has not been spoilt by tourism and is certainly an island where time stands still.

I am planning a late summer beach holiday, where do I start’?
Mr Coffey, Little Aston

First thing is to work out how flexible you can be on your dates, the more flexible the more chance of finding the perfect trip. Secondly think about how far you want to travel, if it is just a week do you want to stay within Europe or are you happy to fly mid-haul (6 hours) or long haul (8 hours +). And thirdly have a serious think about how much you want to invest in the holiday. Keep in mind spending money, as countries will differ greatly with regards to how much things cost once you get there.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Whilst the children have gone back to school in September, it can still be a peak travelling month as so many people wait for the school holidays to end, you will find less children abroad, but at the same time prices can still be high and resorts are busy. If you can hold off until the end of September then prices tend to drop and it can be less busy. Let’s look at some suggestions within Europe… Portugal is offering excellent value for money at the moment and good quality accommodation. Croatia is very popular and we now have two flights from Birmingham, one to Dubrovnik and a new service further north to Split. A coastal cruise along the stunning Adriatic Coast is a great way to see a lot of the country in a short amount of time. Unlike a Gullet cruise in Turkey, you can eat your evening meals on land, allowing you to sample local restaurants and caf├ęs. Travelling by boat also allows you to visit hard to reach beaches. The weather in Greece will still be good at that time of year and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini are perfect in September and are a class above the other Greek islands. If you like activities but also want to relax on the beach then the Cape Verde Islands are a great choice. The list really is endless as the weather stays warm into October in most of the Mediterranean resorts.


What is the best currency for Croatia and is it easy to access money?
Miss Angelo, Yoxall
There are many ATM machines from which cash may be withdrawn in local currency (The Kuna) these generally provide a better rate of exchange than cash or travellers cheques. The Kuna can also be ordered in advance if required. The Euro can also be used in Croatia for some items such as taxis, accommodation and some restaurants but it is not an official currency and is accepted only on an unofficial basis.

Croatian currency - the Kuna

If you have a travel question you would like to put to Nathan, e-mail us at vip@rbcollection.com with ‘Journal Travel Question’ as the subject.