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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Gear up for Christmas with a Butlins break

IF YOU'RE planning on staying at home for the festive holiday why not take advantage of the fabulous, fun-packed pre-Christmas breaks at Butlins?

At all three Butlins beachside Resorts, Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness, you will walk into a Christmas wonderland, starting with the giant Skyline Pavilion, the heart of each resort. The 30-metre dome will be transformed with a magical lantern-lit horse drawn parade, a traditional Christmas Market, Santa’s Grotto where every child receives a free present, lots of carols and plenty of Christmas cheer.

This year there’s even more to enjoy with a Winter Farmyard where you can get close to real live Reindeer, Bjorn the polar bear and his many friends invite you to his magical snowstorm, Billy Bear will be busy entertaining you with his Christmas Downloads, Jingle Band and discos. Christmas chaos is guaranteed with Skyline Gang and the evenings are packed with live shows for all the family such as Rock The Country, when rock meets the sounds of country, Altogether Now, a real good singalong, and Sound of the Underground. There are also shows for the kids whatever their age including Nick Jr’s Rainforest Adventure, Cartoon Network’s Game Show and Looney Tunes Live

All prices based on a family of four sharing a Silver self-catering apartment and include accommodation, the majority of activities and all live entertainment.

Bognor Regis
11th – 14th December @ £75pp per break
18th – 21st December @ £88pp per break

18th – 21st December @ £84pp per break

18th – 21st December @ *£63pp per break

Check out the great offers on Butlins breaks by calling 0845 070 4730 or visit www.butlins.com (The maximum call charge is 2p per minute from a BT landline. Calls from other networks may vary)

Lavish New Year celebrations

BRING in 2010 in the luxurious surroundings of a magnificent house at Ickworth Hotel and apartments in Suffolk, and its rolling 1800 acres of National Trust Parkland.

Be entertained with a circus morning, chocolate fountains, laser clay pigeon shooting and giant slot car racing before a black tie gala dinner and dancing. Children are supervised with the qualified nannies whilst watching a movie until midnight when they can join the parents to celebrate the New Year. Then start 2010 either relaxing or energetically joining in with laser quest, before settling down to a well deserved dinner of fine cuisine in Fredrick’s Restaurant.

If you wish to invite the whole extended family then The Dower House Apartments at the Ickworth Hotel are ideal for larger gatherings. With 11 apartments and room for 26 adults and 14 children one really can have the ultimate get together. The four acres of private gardens are a great way to enjoy nature before heading back to your very own private apartments.

3 night all-inclusive package from 30th December-2nd January, subject to availability. Rates at the hotel and the apartments start from £990 (per person sharing) Children under 2 yrs free, 2-12 yrs £225 per child, 12-18 yrs 50% off adult price if sharing with parents or 10% off adult price if occupying their own room. Prices inclusive of VAT, full board, all wine and drink, and everything listed on the programme.
For further details and reservations, please call 01284 735350 or visit www.luxuryfamilyhotels.com

Monday, 23 November 2009

Christmas break with your dogs

IT CAN be so hard for pet owners to find accommodation that welcomes pets, let alone 3 dogs! But this Christmas and New Year they can all join you at Byways near Padstow in Cornwall.

With a log burner to cosy up to and an embarrassment of beach and coast walks to choose from, this doggy heaven is even offering discounted accommodation for the owners. For a full list of dog friendly beaches and attractions in the area, download the Cornwall Visitor Guide for Dog Owners at www.cornwallenterprise.co.uk

Cornish Horizons (01841 533 331 www.cornishhorizons.co.uk) are offering up to 5 people (and 3 dogs!) seven nights commencing 21 or 28 December was £378, now £340 or 14 night commencing 21 December was £756, now £643.

Friday, 20 November 2009

New Year celebrations at a real castle

CELEBRATE the New Year in style at Dromoland Castle, County Clare and experience a five-star fairytale at Ireland’s most distinguished and historic castle hotel.

Located near the delightful city of Limerick, Dromoland Castle is easily accessed from Shannon International Airport and with great flight deals available from eight UK airports*, there has never been a better time to explore this stunning part of Ireland.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat, a relaxing spa getaway or an action-packed family break there’s something for everyone at this elegant hotel, set amidst 410 acres of magnificent rolling scenery with meadows, immaculate lawns and a picturesque lake, providing a perfect backdrop to your special New Year celebrations.

For a New Year’s Eve to remember, dress up to the nines and enjoy an evening living it up in style at Dromoland Castle’s New Year’s Eve Gala Ball, which includes a black-tie gourmet dinner with fine wines from the castle’s extensive wine list. Guests can also enjoy the resort’s cocktail reception and fireworks over Dromoland Loch.

For the perfect ‘morning after’ remedy, enjoy a reviving stroll around the idyllic estate or choose from a variety of outdoor pursuits including golf on the Ron Kirby-designed course, horse riding, cycling, clay pigeon shooting, archery, falconry, fishing and boating on the nearby lake.

Or, if your idea of New Year’s Day nirvana is a day of sheer pampering, you’ll love The Spa at Dromoland, with its exclusive products from the 100% organic Irish Voya range and the chic Anne Sémonin collection, plus an extensive treatment menu including the Gaelic Escape signature treatment - a deep release full body massage incorporating a blissful hot stone back, neck and shoulder massage.

Enjoy a lazy afternoon relaxing in one of the castle’s elegant reception rooms, all of which feature period fireplaces, antique paintings and exquisite furnishings, and you can indulge in Mrs White’s afternoon tea – a long-standing tradition at Dromoland – which includes a tempting selection of freshly baked pastries, piping hot teas and coffee, all served by friendly and attentive staff.

The Dromoland Castle New Year’s Eve package costs £270** per person for one night including accommodation in a Queen Anne bedroom, cocktail reception and gourmet dinner at the New Year’s Eve Gala Ball with full Irish breakfast.***

For bookings call 0800 056 7434 visit www.dromoland.ie

* Eight UK airports include Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted
**Based on two adults sharing a double or twin room
***Two and three night New Year packages also available.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Free swimming lessons with Haven Holidays

HAVEN Holidays, the biggest provider of swimming lessons in the private sector, will be splashing out even more next season.

Britain's favourite family holiday company is making all swimming lessons in its highly-acclaimed Learn2Swim programme free!

And Haven is introducing free water-confidence sessions for babies for the first time so even the youngest holidaymakers can start splashing with mum or dad.

Every year Haven's fully qualified lifeguards give more than 40,000 swimming lessons in the heated indoor pools at the company's 35 family holiday parks.

The ages of those taking part ranges from tots having their first session in a pool to mums, dads and even grandparents who want to improve their technique.

Haven has more than 400 lifeguards and one in four of them have been trained by the Swimming Teachers' Association to teach the Learn2Swim programme.

Marcus van der Gaag Haven’s Sports and Leisure Director, said: “We are very proud of our association with the STA and are delighted so many children and holidaymakers take part in our Learn2Swim programme.

“Many of our guests say that being on holiday is an ideal time to have swimming lessons especially if they are on the holiday park for a week or more. Next year our Learn2Swim sessions will take place every day!

“Our lifeguards are all trained to the highest standard and there are five levels of achievement to aim for with certificates presented at each stage. They range from initial water confidence to swimming 50 metres.

The Learn2Swim sessions are in addition to the wide range of fun water activities on Haven’s parks such as messing around in mini paddle-boats or surging along underwater with powered submersibles.*

Haven are offering excellent value for money deals if you book early for 2010.

Take advantage of early booking discounts and avoid any possible increases in VAT by booking before the end of December. Prices start from as little as £99 for a four night Spring break for a family of four – including the half price early booking deal.

Call 0871 230 1900 or click on www.haven.com

Twixmas break overlooking the coast

TITCHWELL Manor Hotel, near Brancaster, which overlooks North Norfolk’s unspoilt coast, is offering a three night dinner, B&B break between Christmas and New Year priced from £200pp.

The special Twixmas break is available between Sunday 27 and Tuesday 29 December inclusive.

Renowned for its two AA Rosette restaurant, Titchwell Manor is a smart retreat for those seeking fine dining in stylish surroundings. The former Victorian farmhouse now offers a delightful fusion of traditional values and contemporary furnishings.

There are 27 bedrooms, in either the main period hotel, a cottage or around a courtyard herb garden. Pets welcome in selected ground floor rooms.

For details call Titchwell Manor Hotel on 01485 210221 or visit www.titchwellmanor.com.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Show you have talent with Haven

IF YOU are inspired by the debate about whether or not Jedward should still be in the running for the X Factor finals Haven are offering the chance for budding contenders for next year’s show to start practising at their UK holiday parks.
The Haven’s Got Talent contest takes place every week at all 35 parks and is a showcase for performers of all ages. Singers, dancers, musicians, comedians are encouraged to audition for a moment of fame on the Haven stage. The judging panel of Haven’s own FunStars promises to be more gentle on contestants than X-Factor’s Simon Cowell – and the family audiences are always keen to show their appreciation. And you never know – plenty of showbiz careers started with a holiday talent contest!
Haven’s Got Talent is just part of a lively package of entertainment planned by Haven for 2010 – which they describe as ‘probably the best ever’. Live entertainment takes place at all parks every single night of the season – and it’s all included in the cost of the holiday. Expect variety shows, professional cabaret and top tribute bands featuring the best of Queen, Abba and other favourites – as well as professionally written and choreographed stage-shows and performances from Haven’s FunStars. Top international circus acts, pantos and wrestling are also included as part of the package.
Entertainment is very much aimed at families with early evening character shows for younger audiences and children genuinely welcome in the ShowBars. And next year Tom & Jerry will be live on stage with an exclusive Warner Bros. Production on all Haven parks during the summer holidays – with the iconic characters there to meet and greet their fans.
Haven have just released their new 2010 brochure and offering discounts of up to 50% on 2010 holidays. Prices for a Spring break start at as little as £99 for a family of four in ‘Superior’ accommodation at a choice of parks if you take advantage of the early booking offer.
For immediate booking , more information and details of other special offers click on www.haven.com or call 0871 230 1900.

Dog-friendly weekend breaks

DOG lovers have long been welcome to bring their pooches in to the bar of The Bird In Hand Hotel at Knowl Hill, near Maidenhead, but with the launch of dog-friendly weekend breaks at the 14th century country inn, man’s best friend will also be able to stay overnight.

Set in the heart of the Berkshire countryside, just a couple of miles from the Thames Footpath and close to woodland and rural trails, there are plenty of scenic walks nearby that may be enjoyed by dogs and owners alike.

Plus, with dog beds provided, along with complimentary treats, plenty of water bowls, an exercise field and a ‘poop bin’, dog lovers can rest assured that their favourite pets will feel right at home at The Bird In Hand.

Dogs are welcome to join their owners for dinner in the character-filled bar area, complete with oak panelling and inglenook fireplace – the perfect place to warm up after a winter walk.

Dog-Friendly Weekend Breaks at The Bird In Hand start from £80 per person in a single room and from £90 per person based on two sharing a double room, and include two nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast and VAT. Dogs stay for free.

For further information tel: 01628 826622 or visit www.birdinhand.co.uk.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Festive packages in cottages

A VARIETY of festive packages for couples, families or larger groups are featured under ‘Celebration Breaks’ on the Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire website.

In addition to seven nights’ self-catering in a five-star cottage, these special packages also include ‘extras’ to give the holiday a really festive feel:

For couples, Christmas breaks include a traditional hamper full of local produce, a chilled bottle of bubbly and a festive flower bouquet. Prices from £269 per person.

For families with children, as well as a hamper and bottle of mulled wine, also included are pantomime tickets to see a performance of Pinocchio at a local theatre. Prices are from £289 per person.

Finally, for groups of friends – party sizes up to 14 – the package includes a traditional hamper and fine wine, with prices from £200 each.

Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire features a choice of more than 550 properties, all within easy reach of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and the county’s superb beaches…ideal for bracing winter walks.

01437 772760, www.coastalcottages.co.uk

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Vote for Butlins' next generation of Redcoats

FOR the first time ever, Butlins is launching an X-Factor-style search for the next generation of its famous Redcoats.

The nation can play Simon Cowell by looking at the would-be Redcoat’s audition videos online and voting for their favourites.

Current TV stars Stephen Mulhern and Naomi Wilkinson got their first break at Butlins and now hopeful Redcoats are being urged to upload their audition videos to YouTube with the best 300 applicants being put through to the next round of interviews.

What to do
1. To vote log on to www.youtube.com/user/wearebutlins and visit the ‘I Want To Be A Butlins Redcoat’ playlist to view the videos
2. To enter log on and upload a video before 15th November 2009
3. Keep up to date with all the latest news at twitter.com/redcoataudition or by joining the ‘I Want To Be A Butlins Redcoat’ group on Facebook.

Known for world class family entertainment, Butlins Redcoats are famed for their high energy, lively personalities and ability to entertain parents and children alike. The holiday company receives thousands of applications for the 20 new Redcoat positions created each year.

Butlins Head of Entertainment Mike Godolphin said: “It’s time for the Redcoats to go online! The Redcoat auditions are always an important time of year for us and we’ve now truly embraced the social media phenomenon and invited the nation to become part of the process. We’re even on Twitter! Hopeful Redcoats are about to become internet stars for the first time.”

Monday, 2 November 2009

Haven spending £40m on holiday parks

WHILE many companies are tightening their belts Haven Holidays are investing a massive £40 million in new facilities and new developments on their UK Holiday Parks.
‘It’s all about the Wow factor,’ say Haven. ‘We want to provide the best possible family holiday experience. More and more people are choosing UK holidays and we want to make sure they love our Parks as much as we do! The £40 million investment will ensure that families can enjoy even better facilities and some spectacular new innovations on our parks.’
Top favourites will be a number of Space Bowls to make the swimming pool complexes even more fun for families. The Space Bowl at Haven’s Thorpe Park, near Cleethorpes has proved a huge success this summer- and next year similar flumes are planned for Marton Mere, near Blackpool and Combe Haven, near Hastings. Rockley Park, in Dorset will benefit from a spectacular indoor tower flume and a unique ‘SplashZone Grotto’. Several other parks will have pool makeovers that will mean more fun, even more indoor swimming, attractive terraces for sun bathing and improved changing villages.
But it’s not just about swimming. Haven Holidays are investing in Adventure Golf courses, tennis and sports areas and children’s play areas.
Self-catering will be even more relaxed with Papa John’s pizzas coming to more parks - including Burnham on Sea, Cala Gran, Devon Cliffs and Hafan y Mor. The Mash and Barrel cafe lounges, which have been exceptionally popular with guests on a number of Parks, will be rolled out to Reighton Sands and Church Farm for 2010.
And £12million will be spent on new accommodation. Haven offer a wide choice of holiday homes to suit all styles and budgets from the luxurious ‘Exclusive’ and ‘Platinum’ range to the comfortably appointed but more economic ‘Standard’ and ‘Superior’ caravans.
‘It’s all about exceeding guest expectations,’ say Haven. ‘Our parks are in stunning locations but that’s not enough. We need to provide a complete experience that includes first class facilities, comfortable and welcoming accommodation, a wide range of activities and excellent entertainment as well.’
They also offer excellent value for money. Take advantage of early booking discounts and avoid any possible increases in VAT by booking before the end of December. Prices start from as little as £99 for a four night Spring break for a family of four – including the half price early booking deal.
Call 0871 230 1900 or click on www.haven.com. The new 2010 Haven brochure – and the new 2010 website will be live from November 6th.

City and countryside breaks combined

WHERE could you be caught up in the vibrancy of the city one minute and relaxing in the peace and quiet of rural tranquility the next?
Sheffield and the Peaks of course!
With the stunning scenery of The Peak District only 15 minutes from Sheffield, with many free attractions and activities and accommodation ranging from boutique to budget, you can enjoy the perfect combination for a day, weekend or week-long break for any budget.

Peak Perfect
Take time to ‘Take a Peak’ into a world of grandeur at the Palace of the Peaks - Chatsworth House. Well worth a visit at any time of the year, A Candlelit Christmas (01 November – 23 December), offers an extra special reason to visit, with traditional Christmas decorations and candlelight attracting visitors from far and wide. Just 15 minutes from Sheffield lies The Peak District National Park. Experience adventure on all levels, from climbing and bouldering, to picturesque strolls and scenic walking trails. Visit the delightful villages of Bakewell, Castleton and Hathersage, stay in the Peaks to walk in the footsteps of the Brontë’s, enjoy a delicious cream tea or some traditional pub grub in front of a roaring open fire. The renowned Old Bakewell Pudding Shop in Eyam Village is well worth a visit for a taste sensation and don’t forget to wrap up warm for Treak Cliff Cavern!

Sensational Sheffield
Fill the senses with a Sheffield winter events programme, full of sights and sounds for all ages. Towering almost 60 metres above the city, view it day or night from the warmth with The Wheel of Sheffield (until 10 January 2010). Escape the cold with a trip to Sheffield Winter Garden, this green oasis in the heart of the city houses the largest temperate glasshouse in any European city centre. Enjoy an illuminated, magical winter wonderland with a Real Magical Christmas at Sheffield Botanical Gardens (11-13 December). For your Christmas shopping needs visit Kelham Island Museum Victorian Christmas Markets (5 -6 December) or Meadowhall Shopping Centre, Europe’s largest undercover shopping centre.

Culturally Cool vs Family Fun
Sheffield’s music festival is available 365 days a year which may be music to your ears! From the impressive Don Valley Stadium, which has recently hosted U2, to superb live music venues such as The Plug and Leadmill. Art, culture and literature are celebrated by Museums Sheffield and the many cultural festivals unique to the city. Make a silver bowl or a copper spoon or take a Steel Walk with Galvanize Sheffield: Festival of Contemporary Metal Design ( 6th November – 6th December). If you missed out on the Magner’s Sheffield Grin Up North Comedy Festival (1-31 October), why not sample some Yorkshire humour The Last Laugh Comedy Club held every Friday at Sheffield City Hall?

Spooky fun isn’t just for Halloween, ghoulish entertainment continues throughout winter with the Steel City Ghost Tours. Wrap up warm and discover the darker side of Sheffield with haunting tales and gruesome stories told by tour guide, Mr Dreadful. No winter trip to the theatre would be complete with a family pantomime. Find out where the funniest panto of them all is, with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Lyceum Theatre (10 December - 10 January 2010). Witness the dazzling spectacle of glitz, sweat and sequins as the Strictly Come Dancing The Live Tour 2010 comes to Sheffield Arena (29-31 January 2010).

Feeling Peckish?
Sink your teeth into top notch, locally reared produce at Sheffield’s first true gastropub and winner of the local Restaurant of the Year award, The Milestone Restaurant & Bar near Kelham Island, take a trip to Hunter’s Bar and enjoy a traditional Italian treat at the illustrious Nonnas restaurant on Ecclesall Road or venture to Moran’s Winebar & Restaurant on Abbeydale Road for a critically acclaimed feast. For a tasty treat in the heart of the action, try Leopold Square, a secluded retreat of Grade II listed buildings, packed full of bars and restaurants with a varierty of world cuisine on offer. Sample small plates at Platillos or Kashmiri cuisine at Yorkshire’s famous Aagrah. Try modern Yorkshire cuisine at The Wig & Pen in the stunning Georgian Cathedral Quarter, while nearby Silversmiths, (housed in a former Silversmiths) celebrates Sheffield’s industrial past with unique displays of the city’s culinary trademarks and it’s choice of Sheffield cutlery.

Bars & Stars
The evening wouldn’t be complete without a tipple or two. On West Street, boogie in former fire station at Bungalows and Bears, enjoy glass of fizz in Sylvester’s Piano Bar, or star gaze at Crystal, with its stunning glass roof. For an alternative beat, try The Showroom Café Bar with it’s unmistakable art deco exterior or The Forum Cafe Bar in the trendy Devonshire Quarter, a bohemian microcosm, where you can shop, eat, drink and dance. Relax in The Lounge Bar and Restaurant on Glossop Road and be wined and dined by the brothers Szurko who have previously entertained the likes of Noel Gallagher and Mick Jagger.

The new ‘Take a Peak’ Sheffield and the Peaks short break packages are great value for money and offer fantastic flexibility for creating your own unique getaway. With prices starting from as little as £62.00 per night for a B&B stay for two, you can certainly beat the winter blues whatever the budget, occasion or activity. Take a Peak – you won’t regret it!

For further information about Yorkshire South visit www.yorkshiresouth.com or call 0871 700 2214