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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Stag parties going strong, but hen parties economise

DESPITE hard times, British men are preserving the right to enjoy their last days of pre-nuptial freedom while brides-to-be are reining in their spending and economising on hen parties, according to a poll by leading accommodation website Hotels.com.

Hotels.com and Wedding Ideas magazine found that stags continue to revel in a final fling of freedom as three quarters (74%) say their celebrations will last for a weekend or longer. Stay-at-home hens, meanwhile, are far more likely to economise as two-thirds (59%) say their pre-marital celebrations will only last one day.

Accordingly, the research found, stags are spending considerably more - parting with £179 each on average for each party they attend. Hens spend a more modest £118 on the celebration.

Stags are far more likely than their hen counterparts to venture beyond British shores for their celebration, with a third (32%) planning parties overseas. Of all stags polled, a quarter (27%) will head to European party destinations while another one-in-twenty (5%) will venture even further afield to the US or Canada. As a result, a number of the top stag do destinations were foreign cities: Prague (2), Amsterdam (3), Barcelona (5) and Tallinn (8) all feature in the top ten destinations for stags, although London retained the top spot.

At the other end of the scale, the vast majority (96%) of brides-to-be will celebrate in the UK and over a quarter (28%) will not venture further than their home towns. In fact, only one foreign destination - the Spanish party city of Barcelona - made it into the top 10 most popular locations for hen parties. For hens, London came out on top, closely followed by Brighton, Edinburgh, Devon, Cornwall and Bath.

Most popular stag/hen destinations

Stags Hens
1 London 1 London
2 Prague 2 Brighton
3 Amsterdam 3 Edinburgh
4 Brighton 4 Devon/Cornwall
5 Barcelona 5 Bath
6 Leeds 6 Cotswolds
7 Edinburgh 7 Lake District
8 Tallinn 8 Barcelona
9 Liverpool 9 Liverpool
10 Newcastle 10 Newcastle

Alison Couper, Director of Communications for Hotels.com says "Traditionally the wedding day is all about the bride, so it would seem that many grooms use their stag do as an opportunity to take share the limelight ahead of the big day."

Rachel Moschke, Editor of Wedding Ideas magazine, said: "Most of us worry about keeping our wedding costs to a minimum, and brides are becoming increasingly conscious of what they ask their friends and family to pay for. The hen do is one area where brides feel like they need to keep their eye on the budget and are celebrating in the UK so there is more in the kitty for their big day."

Monday, 27 July 2009

Get married for free

IF THE credit crunch is getting in the way of your dream wedding plans then fear not!

Travel group Monarch has teamed up with Birmingham's 96.4fm BRMB to offer one lucky couple the chance to say 'I do' on the Monarch Beach in Chamberlain Square - for FREE!

On September 4th the Monarch Beach will be transforming in to an idyllic wedding setting with the lucky couple winning a complete wedding package to include the beach ceremony followed by food, music and a fantastic after party. The prize also includes a whole host more; from bridal wear, flowers and rings to favours, a photographer, cake and of course the all important stag and hen dos.

No wedding would be complete without a fabulous honeymoon so the newlyweds will also jet off with Monarch to Larnaca, Cyprus to spend their first week as a married couple at the luxurious Amathus Beach Hotel in Limassol - one of the leading hotels in the world.

To enter, couples simply need to log on to www.brmb.co.uk and register themselves for 'One Beach and a Wedding' using the online registration form by 2nd August 2009. From the entrants received two couples will be selected as finalists who will then be flown to one of Monarch's European destinations from 6th to 7th August 09 to compete in a top secret head-to-head challenge to determine the winning couple.

Further details of the competition and full terms and conditions can be found at www.brmb.co.uk. For further details on the Monarch Beach, log on to www.monarch.co.uk/beach.

Mad Hatter's Tea Party

THE Promenade at The Dorchester will be transformed into a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party by English National Ballet for October half term.

From Monday 26 October to Sunday 1 November, The Dorchester will be putting on a special afternoon tea with entertainment by English National Ballet’s young dancers inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The Dorchester’s award-winning afternoon tea will be served with pirouettes, pliés and petit sautés as dancers from English National Ballet dressed as some of the favourite characters from Alice in Wonderland will be found among the specially created decorations and flower displays. Children can look out for favourite characters including the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse and Alice herself.

Accompanying adults will be able to sink back and enjoy the entertainment with a glass of champagne, delicious savoury finger sandwiches, homemade scones and a selection of indulgent cakes and pastries.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party will be served on The Promenade at The Dorchester from 26 October to 1 November 2009 at two sittings, 2.15pm and 4.45pm, and is priced at £47.50 per adult including a glass of Champagne and £30.00 per child. (Prices are inclusive of VAT and exclusive of service charge at 12.5%)

For reservations, please telephone The Dorchester on +44 (0)20 7629 8888 or email restaurants@thedorchester.com

Have you got talent?

Haven Holidays’ Combe Haven will be hosting regular talent contests throughout the summer with £1000 worth of prizes for winners in two age categories.
What’s more, Combe Haven will be welcoming some top performers from Britain’s Got Talent and the X-Factor to inspire contestants and entertain audiences at the park!
The Barrow Boys will be appearing on August 4th; CJ Harper on August 11th; Signature on August 18th and Journey South on August 26th.
Book a midweek break or a full week’s holiday at Combe Haven on Britain’s sunny South Coast and you could be performing on stage in front of an appreciative audience in the park’s state of the art ‘Live Lounge’.
Just like Britain’s Got Talent, any act goes – but contestants will be given plenty of support before they go live on stage. There will be a Master Class with Haven’s professional FunStars along with an introduction to the stage and DJ Box - including time to rehearse and a behind the scenes tour to make sure you’re familiar with the sound and light set up.
The winners from each heat will be invited back with their families to enjoy a free weekend at Combe Haven in November for the Grand Final. Top prizes will be £1000 in cash for over 16’s and £1000 worth of ‘technology’ equipment for under-16’s. All contestants will receive a free DVD of their performance.
Presenter Jeff Brazier was on stage at Combe Haven recently week when GMTV launched their search for singing families at the park. Several families were up before breakfast to sing the Nolan sisters’ hit ‘I’m in the mood for dancing’ to highlight the nationwide GMTV competition. Jeff, who stayed in a caravan holiday home on the park, said he was very impressed with the facilities and how much fun the holidays are for children.
There’s still time to book and take part in ‘Combe Haven’s Got Talent’ this summer, with prices from just £369 for four nights or £579 for a week in August. Prices are for a family of up to six people in Superior 2 bedroom accommodation and include entrance to the talent contest, a full programme of entertainment, kid’s clubs, sports, activities and first class facilities.
Call 0871 2300 1900 or visit www.haven.com or call the park direct on 01424 427 891. Once you have made your booking the park will call you to discuss all the details relating to any special requirements relating to your performance.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Gleneagles fun for young ones

THIS summer kids will be spoilt for choice with a wide range of activities at Gleneagles until the end of August.

Whether little ones want to develop their sporting prowess, let their creativity flow, or use their cunning to follow clues at Gleneagles’ Spy School, Gleneagles has something for all ages and interests.

Among the wide range of activities available are six-day Golf Camps, which conclude with a game on either the wee course or one of Gleneagles’ famous championship courses, depending on ability, as well as the chance to learn the basics of Polo with Scotland’s highest qualified Polo coach, Thom Bell.

For one week only, from 3rd August, Gleneagles will be holding special drama workshops with a professional director who will invite participants to help write a play and act it out on stage to an audience of friends and family. Kids will also have the chance to learn magic tricks to impress their friends, with president of the Scottish Magic Circle, Ricky McLeod’s Sorcerer’s School or learn how to be a secret agent with Gleneagles’ Spy School. Using the cover of the hotel, specially gifted recruits will be given missions to complete and codes to crack!

A new addition for the summer is Gleneagles’ Street Wise session, hosted by Constable Ian Thomson MBE from the Perth & Kinross Police, who will be advising kids on how to increase their confidence, learn the value of positive body language as well as how to avoid confrontation and manage potentially difficult situations.

The Summer Special package starts from £340 based on two adults sharing a Sovereign room, with a £50 supplement for children aged 6-14 sharing an adult’s room. The package includes bed and breakfast, is valid until 30 September 2009 and subject to availability at time of booking.

For further information or to make a booking, please contact Resort Sales on 0800 704 705 or visit www.gleneagles.com.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Festival fun with Haven

FESTIVAL lover? Don’t put the tent away yet!
Your festival experience has given you a taste for camping – and you’re now the proud owner of a portable holiday home!
Don’t pack your tent away – camping has got to be this year’s favourite credit crunch busting holiday option. Book a break with Haven Holidays and enjoy all the fun of their seaside holiday parks with prices from as little as £25 per night for a family of four.
And you won’t miss out on music and live performances either – there’s a full programme of daytime and evening entertainment with stage-shows, music, dancing and professional cabaret – or you can just chill out and watch the stars! Haven offer you all the fun of camping in stunning locations with the added benefit of clean, heated shower block and loos, laundry and dish-washing facilities.
Daytime activities include festival favourites such as face painting and arts and crafts - but with much more for children to do by way of kid’s clubs, sports and activities such as archery, football, fencing or tennis – not to mention heated indoor leisure pools and a full programme of splash activities.
School holiday prices for a standard tent pitch start at just £25 per night for a family of four at Kiln Park near Tenby or £35 per night at Devon Cliffs near Exmouth. Haven’s entertainment and first class facilities – along with direct access to gorgeous sandy beaches are all included in the cost!
Click on www.caravancamping.co.uk or call 0871 230 1933 to book a pitch. And if you’d like to make your ‘back to nature’ experience even more comfortable Haven have caravan holiday homes available for school holiday breaks from £249 for a family of four - based on Hopton Holiday Village in Standard accommodation for a family of six from 24th July. Call 0871 230 1900 or www.haven.com

Alfresco food festival at Swinton Park

FOLLOWING on from the success of their first Alfresco food festival in May this year, Swinton Park has announced plans for their second event to be held in the parkland, on Sunday 20th September.

The concept of the event is to make the connection between the countryside and food real. By serving the food in an alfresco style in a beautiful 18th century landscape, visitors can appreciate the freshness and quality of the produce and the important role that the Yorkshire countryside plays in it.

Visitors will follow a culinary trail, enjoying tasting dishes served at alfresco kitchens en route, with ingredients such as venison, smoked trout and heather blossom sourced from Swinton Estate. There will be a choice of routes to follow between the Deerhouse, Walled Garden and lakes, with the Harvest Moon café in the woodland serving homemade soups, freshly roasted coffee and cream teas, with Morris Dancers and live music to entertain. Guided tours will be given in the woodland with local wild food expert Chris Bax, and in the walled garden with the garden designer Susan Cunliffe-Lister.

There will also be an artisan craft area, with demonstrations and plenty of hands on opportunities such as print making, willow hurdle making, corn dollies, Raku pottery and rustic chair making. The Deerhouse will be home to the Real Ale bar, with an extended area for demonstrations on Apple Juicing and Cider Making, Cheese and Butter Making and Blind Wine Tasting.
At the end of the trail there are family activities such as face painting, pony rides, bouncy castle, falconry displays and an animal corner. There is a Gourmet Food Marquee with a wide selection of local food producers including cheese, breads, herbs, beer, fruit wine, oils, soup, sausages and bacon, and also a Cookery Demonstration Theatre and cookery shop.
11.00am – 4.00pm. Entry : Adults £10 (includes a two course tasting meal or afternoon tea) Children (4 – 12yrs) £5 (includes 1 course voucher) 3yrs and under FREE.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Check in online while abroad

LOW fares airline Monarch is expanding its successful online check-in facility, with the service now available to passengers travelling on scheduled flights from overseas airports.

Monarch's scheduled passengers travelling from a range of destinations throughout Mainland Spain and the Balearic and Canary Islands can now check in for their flight via the airline's website www.monarch.co.uk and issue a boarding card from the comfort of their own home. Online check-in is available between seven days and 4.5 hours prior to departure, reducing the required time spent at the airport and ensuring that seating on flights is allocated in advance.

Online check-in can be used by all passengers with pre-allocated seats travelling on scheduled flights from Alicante, Barcelona, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Majorca, Malaga, Menorca, Murcia and Tenerife. If seats have not been pre-allocated at the time of booking, this can be done during the check-in process for the standard pre-book charge of £7.50. Alternatively, extra legroom seats, which offer an extra six inches of space, can be booked from only £15 per person per flight.

Commenting on the launch of overseas online check-in, managing director of Monarch's scheduled service division, Liz Savage, said, "We have seen overwhelming demand for online check-in from our UK bases, with up to 25% of scheduled passengers taking advantage of the service, so we are delighted to now offer it from our overseas airports as well.

"The introduction of overseas online check-in will speed up the check-in process for a large number of our passengers and reduce the queuing time spent at the airport when they are returning to the UK in addition to their outbound flight."

Passenger's taking advantage of online check-in and travelling with hand-baggage only can go directly to the departure gate on arrival at the airport. Passengers travelling with hold baggage should first take their bags to the fast bag drop desk, where they will be tagged as normal and sent down to the aircraft.

Monarch operates scheduled flights to Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal and Cyprus from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports. In addition to year-round low fares, Monarch also offers a unique range of tasty hot and cold meals onboard with prices from £3.00. To avoid a last minute free-for-all when boarding, seats can be pre-booked at £7.50 per one-way flight, or from only £15, extra-legroom seats are available, which offer up to six inches of extra space.

Passengers travelling on scheduled flights can also avoid the queues at the airport and take advantage of online check-in which is available between seven days and 4.5 hours prior to departure.

In addition to flights, Monarch also now offers a huge range of great value holidays, accommodation options, car hire and travel insurance.

For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, please visit www.monarch.co.uk.

Friday, 10 July 2009


HELLO, and welcome to the Echo Travel Guide - your one-stop shop to finding information about places to go on holiday.
Whether it's a short break, a lavish trip abroad, or just a day out, then we will provide advice and helpful information to help you pick your perfect holiday.