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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easter break in Pembrokeshire

ENJOY seven nights self catering accommodation in Pembrokeshire with all the family and celebrate Easter in style!

Easter is a great time for all the family and this package in Pembrokeshire is perfect for all ages. Your self-catering property stands in a quiet position within the greatly popular Ivy Tower Village with onsite leisure facilities of indoor heated pool, sauna, gym and tennis courts for all to enjoy.

An Easter egg for each will be awaiting your arrival at your property as will an array of Pembrokeshire breakfast treats ready for you to cook a hearty dish the following morning. Embrace this opportunity to catch the surf at the beach and get into action on the waves, the first to stand wins! If the surf wasn't enough sea air for the family then go on to catch yourself a memory with Sea Fishing along the Pembrokeshire Coastline. A family feast of frolics.

The cost for seven nights self catering accommodation, Easter eggs, Surfing and Sea Fishing for all the family of four from only: £219 per person.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Self-guided cycling tour around Cornwall

FOOD and drink lovers can experience the taste of Cornwall without worrying about their waistline thanks to a specialist holiday operator.

Cornish Cycle Tours offer an eight day self-guided cycling tour of Cornwall, taking in many of the county’s best known eateries, from the best pasty shops to Rick Stein’s restaurants and classic Cornish pubs.

Foodies can enjoy the critically-acclaimed culinary delights guilt-free: according to Government statistics four hours of cycling will burn nearly 1,500 calories, equivalent to four medium-sized Cornish pasties.

With so much excellent food to devour, an eight-day, 177 mile ride has been devised to combine the stunning beauty of the Cornish coastline with indulgent restaurants.

The route follows country lanes and dedicated cycle trails as much as possible, making sure guests see a side of the county that most visitors miss. As each night’s accommodation is pre-booked and luggage transfers taken care of, cyclists can stop wherever their taste buds take them.

Lanyon Rowe of Cornish Cycle Tours provides a brief slice of each day of the eight-day Cornish Tour and the treats on offer:

Days 1 & 2 - Wadebridge to Charlestown
“After settling in to your accommodation on day one, day two sees you hop in the saddle. There’s no better way to start your tour than with a glass of wine at the award winning Camel Valley Vineyard. If food becomes more a necessity as a result, there’s the Crown Inn, in Lanlivery, a 12th century longhouse and an ideal place to stop for a spot of lunch.”

Day 3 - Charlestown to Falmouth
“After finishing the 26 mile route from Charlestown to Falmouth, you’ll deserve a treat. Fortunately, Rick Stein has recently launched his first restaurant outside of Padstow with the opening of Rick Steins Fish & Chips on Discovery Quay, near the Maritime Museum, offering both dining in and takeaway options, and an oyster bar.”

Day 4 - Falmouth to Porthleven
“Half-way through your holiday and the recently renovated Amélies at The Smokehouse provides the perfect opportunity to reflect as the boats go to and fro and the sun sets in the background. In addition, this restaurant has green credentials and a focus on the freshest ingredients, cooked on a purpose built wood-fire.”

Day 5 - Porthleven to Porthcurno
“Day five sees the tour enter Marazion, grab a Philps Butchers pasty as a snack, (you deserve it). Then an easy, level ride around Mount’s Bay to Penzance and neighbouring Newlyn; both are famous for their fish.It’s also an ideal place for lunch, ending the day at Porthcurno; the Beach Café provides a brilliant place to stop for a tasty cream tea.”

Day 6 - Porthcurno to St Ives
“Day six is one of the shortest days on the tour which affords plenty of time to stop for a drink at The Beach Cafe, Sennen and enjoy the surfers in the sea. Whilst in the area, Gurnards Place Hotel is one of my favourite places to stop for hearty, wholesome food and local beers. Nearby, Moomaid Of Zennor sell lovely ice-creams. Finish the day with a plate of the freshest fish at the famous Porthminster Beach Café, St. Ives.”

Day 7 - St Ives to Perranporth
“First stop of the day is Hayle, which is known for its three miles of golden sands. Philps the bakers in Hayle produce a top drawer pasty. By now you’ll have pedalled over 100 miles - to celebrate, as you roll in to St Agnes head to The Meadery, a fantastic family restaurant serving locally-made mead and fruit wines. Not too much though, you’ve still got to make it to Perranporth.”

Day 8 - Perranporth to Wadebridge
“The final day of the tour should find you both fuller and fitter than ever as you arrive at Padstow. Whilst the picturesque port is famous as the home of Rick Stein, those in the know nip next door from his café to Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 where lunches start at £5.”

The 8 day/7 night Cornish Tour costs £590 per person, including accommodation and luggage transfers. For more details on this and other tours visit www.cornishcycletours.co.uk or call 01637 880710.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Strictly Come Dancing hotel break

GET up close and personal with the glitz and glamour from BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing with a special break from Warner this Easter!

Warner Leisure Hotels still have availability for their spectacular Strictly Come Dancing Experience Break from April 5th at the beautiful Grade-II listed mansion, Cricket St Thomas – featuring Strictly stars James and current champion Ola.

The break offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in the world of Strictly with tuition from professional dancers, a chance to see some of the costumes used on the shows (you can even hire them!) question and answer sessions with the Strictly Stars and also a chance to see some breath-taking dance routines performed by James & Ola.

The final night of your stay is your chance to compete, judge or simply sit back, relax and enjoy being part of the ‘live’ audience for the Strictly Come Dancing Comes to Warner Competition.

Prices start at £364 per person for a four night break at Cricket St Thomas on 5th April, inclusive of accommodation, delicious 3-course dinners, hearty breakfasts, optional leisure activities and entertainment and the Strictly Come Dancing experience.

For more information visit the website www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/strictly-come-dancing or call 0800 048 2879.

Ideal base for campers and tourers

THE five star Vauxhall Holiday Park has all that campers, or those with touring caravans or motorhomes might want – and more!

Situated in Great Yarmouth with its 15 miles of golden sandy beaches and other attractions it has been designed to appeal to a wide variety of discerning holidaymakers. It is also only a short drive from the historic city of Norwich.

It has great facilities for touring caravans, campers and motorhomes with over 200 pitches, all have electricity & free awnings. There are baby changing facilities, heated shower/toilet block; gas cylinder refills are available on-site.

If you want even more luxury there are ‘Super Pitches’ which have mains water; grey waste water collection, electricity hook-up and TV including certain Freeview channels.

Once at Vauxhall Holiday Park there is plenty to do, new attractions for 2010 are the Adventure Climbing Wall and Laser Skirmish.

There is also the fabulous Indoor Tropical Water World, darts, pool, snooker, short mat bowls, gymnasium, football, tennis, kwik cricket and electric go karts.

Special facilities for children include Louie the Lion’s Kidz Club, while there are ‘Arty Kidz’ classes each afternoon and the Tiny Tots Club for the under fives.

When you are feeling hungry the The Reedcutters Restaurant & Coffee Shop is open from 9.00am – 9.00pm seven days a week.

In addition takeaway outlets offer burgers, fried chicken, kebabs, pizzas, jacket potatoes, fish & chips and fresh shellfish.

There is five star entertainment, at no extra cost, every night in the Regency Room while the all new V-Lounge is for the over 18’s and has live music, discos and karaoke.

Prices for a standard pitch are from £16 per night and £18 for a super pitch.

For more information please telephone: 01493 857231or visit www.vauxhall-holiday-park.co.uk where a copy of the brochure can be downloaded.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Kitesurfing event in Cornwall

BRITAIN’S best kitesurfers will kick off the 2010 championships with a new course racing event in Cornwall next month.

Athletes including the current ladies world champion will be at Watergate Bay to compete in the British Kite Surfing Association (BKSA) National Course Racing and Wave Jam. The event, hosted by the Extreme Academy, will be held from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th April.

Friday 16th will also see the official announcement that the BKSA has succeeded in attaining recognition for kitesurfing as a sport from Sport England, which will enable clubs and individuals to apply for development grants and Government funding.

BKSA Chairman Richard Gowers said: “2010 is set to be a great year for kitesurfing: we’ve been campaigning for five years to get the sport recognised by Sport England, and this comes at a time where kitesurfing is attracting more new participants than ever.

“Watergate Bay has been involved in the sport from the start - the kitesurf school there was one of the first in the country - so it’s great to be able to have Lisa O’Keefe (Director of Sport at Sport England) with us at Watergate Bay to celebrate this news at our first event of the year.”

With up to 30 competitors taking part in each heat, kitesurf course racing is highly entertaining to watch. Technical ability is key to success, with racers required to sail up, down and across the wind to navigate a triangular course marked by buoys.

Competition will take place in four divisions, split into professional and amateur categories for both men and women.

Westcountry kitesurfers will be well-represented at the event: Cornishman Denzil Williams, from Par near St Austell, is the current British course racing champion and no stranger to kitesurfing at Watergate Bay.

For Denzil, the start of the race is one of the most exciting elements for both competitors and spectators. He said: “It’s a bit like Formula 1 racing where you’ve got the whole field trying to get to the front as the starting hooter blows. You can have up to 30 people in a race, and everyone is trying to time their run so they hit the start line at the same time. It can be chaos and occasionally people’s kites get tangled.

“The discipline is really technical and the standard of competitors is so high that just one mistake can make the difference between winning and losing the race. So much can go wrong in a race, like picking the wrong tack or mis-timing your turn around a buoy. To win races requires fitness, strong legs, the right equipment and more often than not a good bit of luck as well.”

Exmouth’s Steph Bridge will be a strong favourite in the women’s event. As the reigning world course racing champion she knows more than most about the sport.

Off the water the kitesurfers will be celebrating their sport’s new official status at the event party on Saturday 17th April. Starting at 8pm, the £10 tickets include entry to The Beach Hut, a buffet and music from a DJ. Tickets are available from Alison Payne on alison@watergatebay.co.uk

Full details of all events at Watergate Bay can be found at www.watergatebay.co.uk

Friday, 26 March 2010

Free stays for event bookers

TODAY (March 26) Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes is launching an exciting promotion to reward event bookers and PAs.

All residential bookings worth over £3,000 booked before 30 September 2010, will equate to a one-night free stay at the hotel for the booker plus £40 high street shopping vouchers.

Michelle Wells, General Manager for Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes, comments:
“PAs and meeting bookers are key influencers in business travel. We wanted to acknowledge their hard work with this reward package, plus give them a chance to enjoy first-hand experience of the hotel and see what we have to offer.”

Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes’ meeting facilities includes seven flexible meeting rooms, with a maximum capacity of 80 theatre-style and 30 boardroom-style. A wide range of state-of-the-art audio-visual computer and technical equipment is also available on request.

Please quote ‘Treat me’ when booking the residential meetings and bookings promotion. The offer applies to all bookings over £3,000 made before 30 September 2010 and is subject to availability. The one-night free stay must be taken within six months of booking and is subject to availability and terms and conditions.

Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes is located on 108 Baker Street, London, W1U 6LJ. Rooms are from £99 per night excluding VAT (www.parkplazasherlockholmes.com; tel: 020 7958 5186. For further information on Park Plaza Hotels, visit www.parkplaza.com Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes is home to the Aurora Spa. For further information, please visit: www.aurora-wellbeing.com

Win a private hotel suite for a year

DOLCE Hotels and Resorts is running a competition where one lucky son of a gun will win their very own private suite for a year… and for the weekends they are busy, they can share the privilege with ten of their bestest friends and family.

It’s a simple online application, open to anyone, and I thought you might want to share this opportunity with your readers and avid followers (and maybe enter yourself!!). All you and they need to do is log onto www.dolceprivatesuite.com, choose which European City they want their hotel suite in and enter a few basic details. As with everything… terms and conditions do apply. Competition closes on April 29, 2010.

P.S If you Twitter… here is one ready and waiting to go! “Great travel competition! Dolce Hotels & Resorts is giving away a luxury hotel suite for a year! Log onto www.dolceprivatesuite.com to enter”

P.P.S In case you weren’t sure… Dolce Hotels and Resorts is a collection of four star hotels located in breathtaking regions including Barcelona, Munich, Paris, Brussels, Provence and Frankfurt. www.dolce.com

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Dog-friendly coastal properties

IN CELEBRATION of National Pet Month, April 3 – May 3, South Devon self-catering specialist, Coast & Country Cottages, are showcasing their dog-friendly properties, perfect for a fun-filled family holiday where four-legged friends can also enjoy some canine capers.

Coast & Country Cottages offer a choice of 90 dog-friendly holiday properties across the South Hams, including Dartmouth and Salcombe and throughout the beautiful coast and countryside in between. With miles of fantastic coastline to walk on and many beaches and pubs that welcome dogs, the South Hams is the perfect destination for a short break or longer holiday that the whole family – and the dog – can enjoy.

Examples of Coast & Country Cottages’ dog-friendly accommodation include:

Well Cottage – a two-bedroom barn conversion benefiting from a quiet location, just a mile from the pretty market town of Kingsbridge and with the sandy beaches at Bantham and Bigbury and the sailing town of Salcombe just a short drive away. The property boasts a two-tiered garden and a large Canadian canoe for tenants to use to explore the nearby estuary. Small dogs are permitted. Sleeping five, prices in 2010 start from £425 per week or £85 per person.

Guillemot – Awarded five-stars by VisitBritain, this luxury four-bedroom terraced cottage is located within a few yards of Hallsands beach on the stunning Start Bay coastline. Dogs are welcome on the beach throughout the year and there are miles of South West Coast Path literally on the doorstep, perfect for exploring with four-legged friends. Boasting stunning sea views, the property also has a garden overlooking the beach. Up to two well-behaved dogs permitted. Sleeping eight, prices in 2010 start from £570 per week or under £72 per person.

Amberwood - a beautiful four-bedroom 17th century cob and thatch cottage located in the pretty village of Galmpton and only a mile from the picturesque fishing village of Hope Cove with its beautiful beaches and cliff top walks. Dogs will love curling up in front of the large Inglenook fireplace. One well-behaved dog permitted. Sleeping eight, prices in 2010 start from £620 per week or under £78 per person.

A charge of £20 per week is made for each dog staying in the property. For more information on dog-friendly properties, or to book, contact Coast & Country Cottages (www.coastandcountry.co.uk / 01548 843773). Alternatively, follow Coast & Country Cottages on Twitter (twitter.com/CandCC) or Facebook.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Break a world record on holiday with Butlins

THE global authority on record-breaking achievement, Guinness World Records, and the UK’s leading holiday company, Butlins, are bringing “instant record-breaking” to millions this spring and summer.

Following a very successful trial during half-term, the Guinness World Records Live! Challenge Fair will officially open at Butlins on 2 April, in time for Easter and remain open every weekend until November. Visitors to the three beachside Resorts, Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness, will be able to undertake a series of challenges and be adjudicated “on the spot” to possibly earn them a place in the famous book.

Director of Production at Guinness World Records, Paul O’Neill, said: "GWR Live! is about bringing the adrenalin rush of record-breaking to the public - in Butlins we have the perfect partner to deliver instant record breaking entertainment to a live audience."

Mike Godolphin, Head of Entertainment at Butlins said: "We are really excited to be welcoming Guinness World Records to Resort and know our guests will rise to the challenge and thoroughly enjoy smashing records during their breaks."

Record challenges will include Tallest Lego Tower, Fastest Time to Dress ‘Barbie’, Longest Domino Line, a variety of tongue twisters, coin tossing and the Fastest Time to Make up a Bunk Bed – complete with duvets and four pillows. The Guinness World Records Live! Challenge Fair will also offer basketball challenges and a series of physical dexterity tests that will push the co-ordination power of every hopeful record-breaker to the limit.

Hundreds of record holders of all ages are expected to be crowned at Butlins this season, and it is the only place in the UK where holiday-makers can walk in off the street as ordinary people and leave certified Guinness World Records holders.

With Butlins currently reporting an increase of 10% on occupancy for Easter breaks due to the pull of quality entertainment and activities availability is fast selling out. Last minute breaks are still on offer with prices starting from £91pp per break, 2nd – 5th April at Skegness and £84pp per break, 16th – 19th April at Bognor Regis. Both prices based on four people sharing a Silver self-catering apartment. To book a Butlins break call 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).

Fun for the under fives

THIS year Haven Holidays has even more fun for under-fives on their 35 family holiday parks – all included in the price!

Little ones will love to shake, rattle and roll with ‘Tiny Mites’ sessions that use puppets and percussion instruments to encourage them to enjoy music, movement and drama. Suitable for babies from six months there’s lots of actions songs, rhymes and rhythm.

Tiny Mites Music is just one of lots of fun activities for toddlers on offer in Haven kids clubs.

Annabel’s Creative Kitchen takes place on all Haven parks throughout the year and is great way to introduce your little ones to cookie and cake decorating – whilst letting someone else deal with the mess! This exclusive activity, that includes healthy food fun as well, has been created by top children’s chef Annabel Karmel.

Wake and Shake gets the day started with early morning exercise, using lots of lively games and brightly coloured equipment that will tempt kids to join in and burn off their energy. And this year Learn2Swim lessons on Haven parks are free of charge too, with special sessions for parents and babies.

Little kids will love all the games, music, dancing and creative play available every day at Little Cubs club.

‘We welcome families with younger children,’ say Haven. ‘We make sure all our parks have baby-changing areas, buggy friendly access, high-chairs and baby menus readily available in restaurants and baby equipment available to hire to keep packing to a minimum. But most importantly kids are genuinely welcome in all our venues so families can enjoy time together.’

Haven Holidays was the runner up in Tommy’s Parent Friendly Awards in the Best UK Holiday Provider Category announced on Friday 19th March 2010. Haven say, ‘We’re thrilled that parents appreciate all the parent friendly facilities and activities we offer for families staying on our Parks.’

Haven’s prices are family friendly too. Four night breaks at selected parks in April are available from as little as £89 for a family of four in standard accommodation. Prices based on April 19th at a number of parks including Golden Sands near Mablethorpe, Caister near Great Yarmouth and Riviere Sands in Cornwall.

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

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Blasts from the past with Vauxhall Holiday Park

GET away for a mid summer break and enjoy some of the biggest hits from the 60s & 70s featuring all live acts at the five-star Vauxhall Holiday Park.

In June it is holding the first ever Summer Festival featuring nine original bands including: Suzi Quatro, The Manfreds, Barron Knights, Vanity Fare, Eddie & The Hotrods and The Rubettes - plus tribute acts playing the music & songs of Madness, The Crickets, Tina Turner, David Essex and Neil Diamond.

Vauxhall Holiday Park is situated in Great Yarmouth, with its 15 miles of golden sandy beaches, and prides itself on catering for the needs of the modern, discerning holiday maker.

When not listening to top bands there is plenty of other things to do, new attractions for 2010 are the Adventure Climbing Wall and Laser Skirmish. There is also the fabulous Indoor Tropical Water World, darts, pool, snooker, short mat bowls, gymnasium, football, tennis, kwik cricket and electric go karts.

When you are feeling hungry the The Reedcutters Restaurant & Coffee Shop is open from 9.00am – 9.00pm seven days a week. In addition takeaway outlets offer burgers, fried chicken, kebabs, pizzas, jacket potatoes, fish & chips and fresh shellfish.

For the Summer Festival you can choose from a variety of luxury holiday homes accommodating up to eight people. New for 2010 is the ‘Falcon’, the ultimate in style and comfort for four people and designed to have a spacious and contemporary feel. It has two flat screen TVs with Freeview, large dining area, ensuite master bedroom plus a further bathroom and fully equipped kitchen.

Prices start at £100 per person per week, or £80 for a short break.

For more information about the Summer Festival which is for over 18’s only and runs between 12-19 June please telephone: 01493 857231 or visit www.vauxhall-holiday-park.co.uk

Monday, 22 March 2010

Unusual sighting at Loch Ness

LOCALS and visitors alike have reported an unusual sighting on Loch Ness.

A large spherical object has now been seen on several occasions and has caused a stir throughout the region.

The spherical object which resembles an oversized transparent ball, has been frequently been sighted on Loch Ness, just outside The Inch Hotel and has created much excitement in the surrounding area. Whilst the scientific community often regards sightings of the Loch Ness Monster as a mix of hoaxes and wishful thinking, there is no doubt that these most recent sightings are anything other than “WoW” balls!

WoW balls are the newest contribution to the mysterious waters of Loch Ness. The adrenaline-fuelled WoW ball session involves thrill-seekers climbing inside a giant inflatable sphere and once sealed up and secure, will - in theory - Walk on Water.

Offered as part of an activity package at the Inch Hotel on Loch Ness, the WoW ball experience is one of many outdoor activity experiences available to visitors.

Aiming to attract visitors keen to push the boundaries on the usual hotel break away, The Inch Hotel on Loch Ness has launched a variety of outdoor activity packages, designed to cater to the needs of couples and families that are looking for an action packed holiday.

Working in partnership with outdoor adventure activity company Boots N Paddles, 2010 sees The Inch Hotel launch a series of action packed outdoor activity experiences ranging from an overnight stay to a 3 day break, suitable for groups, families and couples of any age.

In addition to the afore-mentioned walking on water experience, other package options include an Ascent & Descent Adventure Day including climbing and abseiling; a guided canoe trip on Loch Ness; the chance to explore Glen Affric on foot and a demanding mountain biking experience on the Great Glen Way.

The Inch Hotel, which is located on the outskirts of Fort Augustus at the South end of Loch Ness, recently changed to new ownership and is keen to establish itself as an experience-led hotel. Nick Sharp, the General Manager, comments, “We are noticing increased popularity in our hotel packages and as a result have decided to create a series of new experiences which both capitalizes on our unique position on Loch Ness and offers guests something a little bit different than the usual weekend away to a hotel.”

Originally a Victorian Hunting lodge, The Inch Hotel is a family run venue which always feels like the perfect place to come home to at the end of an action-packed day.

The hotel prides itself on its warm and welcoming atmosphere, where guests can truly relax and unwind. Small and intimate, The Inch Hotel is home to 14 individual ensuite bedrooms – some of which have views overlooking Loch Ness, a comfortable living room with roaring log fires, a first class restaurant serving locally sourced, freshly prepared food and an intimate bar with a variety of perfectly aged malts.

Prices start from £120 per person based on 2 adults sharing - includes dinner, bed & breakfast and activity.

For further details and to book call 01456 450900 or visit www.inchhotel.com

Sunday, 21 March 2010

iPhone app gives savings on tourist attractions

A BRAND new iPhone app taking the UK by storm is helping families make their money go further this Easter holiday.

vouchercloud, the mobile discount voucher application, has signed up hundreds of the country’s leading tourist attractions with major money-savings offers for the family over the holidays and weekends.

The offers include 2-4-1 admissions at top attractions including Chessington World of Adventure, The Eden Project and Bowlplex Bowling as well as great family deals at the best regional family venues around the country.

There are also exclusive discounts in the UK’s favourite restaurants and casual dining outlets – all leaving more money in the budget for those all important chocolate eggs!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Escape to County Cork

ENJOY an Irish Easter escape at the five-star Castlemartyr Resort in County Cork for just £117 per person per night for a two-night break including a full Irish breakfast each morning, a gourmet dinner and an optional Easter Monday brunch.

Set amidst 220 acres of breathtaking countryside, this stunning contemporary resort offers the perfect spring getaway with plenty of onsite activities including golf on the inland links course, target archery, laser-clay shooting and walking the estate dogs.

Guests can also indulge in a spot of pampering at The Spa at Castlemartyr, with a wide range of luxury treatments such as the signature Gaelic Escape massage, or enjoy some exercise to burn off those Easter eggs in the impressive wellness centre with its ozone-treated pool, fully equipped gym, and yoga and Pilates studio.

The Easter Break offer is available from 2nd to 6th April** on a bed and breakfast basis in a classic bedroom with a gourmet dinner in The Bell Tower restaurant included, along with full use of the spa facilities.

With more new flight routes operating from the UK to Cork with Aer Lingus and Aer Arran, there are direct flights from a host of regional airports across the UK, as well as a new ferry route direct to Cork from Swansea with Fastnet Line.

For bookings call 00 353 241 219000 or visit www.castlemartyrresort.ie

*Minimum stay two nights

**Easter Monday brunch will cost an additional £50 per person

For best flight deals and regional departures visit www.aerlingus.com

For sailings from Swansea to Cork visit www.fastnetline.com

Friday, 19 March 2010

Egg-cellent hotel offer in Cornwall

WITH Easter being the longest bank holiday of the year, Barclay House, two AA rosette awarded restaurant and hotel in Looe Cornwall, is offering a unique gastronomic package including an ‘egg-cellent’ Easter hunt in its extensive gardens.

The 11 bedroom Victorian house hotel asks guests taking advantage of the Easter weekend special to arrive on Good Friday and enjoy dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings at Barclay House, with locally inspired spring menus designed by Head Chef Benjamin Palmer. On the Sunday night dinner is included at newly acquired, award winning Trawlers on the Quay - quite simply, one of the best seafood restaurants in Cornwall.

On the morning of Easter Sunday, the gardens of Barclay house will become a land of adventure and mystery, as guests can take part in a traditional Easter celebration with a twist. An Easter egg and Champagne hunt will take place in the grounds, which will encourage children and adults alike to take part and follow the clues to find prizes including traditional chocolate eggs, Camel Valley sparkling wine and Cornish lust. The hunt will then be followed by celebratory teas, coffees and hot cross buns in the hotel bar.

The multi award winning restaurant at Barclay House prides itself on promoting the very best Cornwall has to offer by serving inspiring local dishes coupled with excellent customer service. The daily changing menus are all freshly prepared using the finest local ingredients including fresh “day boat” fish from the trawlers of Looe - creating a range of local, seasonally inspired dishes. Guests can also relax over the weekend by sampling the hotel’s facilities including an outdoor heated swimming pool, sauna and gym and onsite hair stylist.

Prices start form £499 per couple and the offer includes; participation in the egg hunt, accommodation on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights accompanied by a full Cornish breakfast as well as dinner at Barclay House on Friday and Saturday nights and dinner at Trawlers on the Quay on Sunday evening. For those who cannot stay over, both Barclay House restaurant and Trawlers are open for an Easter Sunday lunch priced at £25 for three courses, or £15 for younger guests.

Looe is easily reached by road, rail and air with flights from London, Glasgow Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Dublin and Cork directly to Plymouth, just 19 miles away. Once at the hotel, the local town, harbour and beach are all just a 10 minute walk away. The hotel offers ample car parking free of charge to guests.

Resident proprietor of Barclay House Graham Brooks comments; “We have very recently purchased Trawlers in Looe and thought it would be great to encourage hotel guests of Barclay House to experience both of our restaurants, especially as Trawlers is only a ten minute walk from Barclay House. With this in mind we created this special Easter package, as well as this we wanted to include something traditionally associated with Easter, however we didn’t see why the adults should be left out of the fun, hence the twist of the champagne and egg hunt.”

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Family time in Ireland

BOOK a fun filled, family break at The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort, Killenard, Ireland this Easter.

From 3rd to 8th April, 2010, The Heritage Golf & Spa Resort, Killenard, located 1 hour South-West of Dublin, has an exciting itinerary of complimentary activities for all the family to enjoy including Arts & Crafts, Giant Games, Easter Egg Hunt, Family Movies and much more.

The luxury resort has a unique and memorable show for resort guests on Monday April 5th when Wildlife Expert ‘Jungle Dave’, as seen on ‘The Late Late Show, Ireland’ and the children’s Saturday Morning TV programme, ‘Am Satitude’, will bring some of the worlds’ most exotic creatures including a giant 12ft Snake, an 18ft Anaconda, Scorpions, a Crocodile, Tarantulas, Iguana, Insects, Lizards and Polly the Cockatoo. One hour shows of ‘Dave’s Jungle’ will take place at the Heritage on Easter Monday at both 2pm & 3.10 pm.

This full interactive experience is safe and child friendly, educational and character building. A chance to meet, interact and learn about these wonderful animals.

Whilst the Children soak up the excitement, Mum’s can relax and indulge in a truly world class spa experience with a choice of over 70 treatments by Pevonia Botanica in the award winning Spa and travel through the unrivalled heat and cooling journey of The Heritage Spa Experience.

Dad’s can unwind on the 18 hole championship golf course, designed by Seve Ballesteros and Jeff Howes. Baby sitting services are also available for parents needing a break from the kids.

This 98 bedroom luxury hotel also offers 24 self catering apartments ideal for families.

For further information visit www.theheritage.com

Golf, golf lessons, junior golf camps, babysitting services & Spa treatments are subject to availability and it is recommended to pre-book these services.

Ironbridge Gorge is a beautiful tourist destination

THE Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site and its neighbouring town of Telford are peacefully set in the heart of beautiful Shropshire surrounded by glorious countryside, quiet villages, stately homes and leisure attractions.

At the centre is the iconic Iron Bridge, which spans the River Severn and remains an enduring symbol of the Industrial Revolution that took place here around three hundred years ago.

Heavy industry has long disappeared from the valley, the mines are closed and the ironworks silent but many of the historic buildings remain as a testimony to the area’s industrial past. Today the Gorge is a place of beauty with the restored buildings set either side of the River Severn’s wooded valley.

More about the region’s fascinating past can be discovered at the new landmark Visitor Centre in Blists Hill Victorian Town, one of the ten Ironbridge Gorge Museums. The Severn Valley Railway will also be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, while a new Bar & Grill will open in the spring at Weston Park sizzling up lunch and dinner all year round, and senior citizens will be able to join Silver Safaris being introduced at Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies from Easter.

The World Heritage Sites’ only brewery has just opened its first pub, the Old Fighting Cocks at Oakengates, which they have recently restored to its Victorian splendour. Also open to visitors, the Ironbridge Brewery visitor centre is offering mini tours and has a shop and bar serving real ales brewed on the premises.

Gateway to Blists Hill
Part of a massive redevelopment at Blists Hill, the Visitor Centre now acts as a dramatic gateway to the open air Victorian town and World Heritage Site. The main exhibition hall greets visitors with a stunning cacophony of sight and sound as massive images are projected on nine metre high walls telling the harsh reality of life during the evolution of mining and hot metal industries.

Also new is Canal Street, a wonderful parade of shops authentically copied from the period originals where local townsfolk go about their daily lives and an artisans’ corner with the work of plumbers, tinsmiths and decorative plasterers on display. Other developments at Blists Hill include an Incline Lift, which is reminiscent of the historic lifts that once hauled goods up and down the sides of the Severn Gorge, and the narrow gauge Clay Mine Railway. This takes visitors on a short journey into a blacked out ‘clay-mine’, where a fantastic audio-visual show depicts the ‘explosive’ story of a father and son team of clay miners.

Severn Valley Railway’s first public passenger train steamed out of Bridgnorth on 23rd May 1970 on the short four-mile run to Hampton Loade. In four decades the SVR has grown from its original concept of a handful of enthusiastic amateurs organising Sunday steam-ups in the overgrown, abandoned BR sidings at Bridgnorth, to become one of the UK’s most polished ‘heritage’ tourist attractions, hosting more than a quarter of a million visitors each year, and with a turnover in excess of £6 million.

Steam locomotives now pull vintage trains taking visitors on a sentimental journey through 16 miles of glorious countryside from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and return. The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley tells the history of the railway and includes a replica of the pub where the first planning meeting for the formation of the railway society took place.

May 22nd and 23rd will see a special 40th Birthday Party while a ‘reunion’ theme is expected to be a feature of the SVR’s big ‘Autumn Steam Gala’ in September, when several ex-resident locomotives, which came to the Severn Valley line in its early days, will make celebrity appearances on the Kidderminster-Bridgnorth line.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums and Severn Valley Railway along with Weston Park, the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford and Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies are known as Shropshire’s star attractions.

Weston Park, the 17th century ancestral home of the Earls of Bradford with around 1,000 acres of gardens and parklands, restored its former Granary last year, which opened as an art gallery and farm shop selling locally sourced produce. From spring 2010 a new 60-seater restaurant, the Granary Bar & Grill, will also be opening in the old malting house with an open plan kitchen and split-level seating area with views over Church Pool and the estate cottages.

The menu will feature freshly prepared dishes using the region's finest produce with emphasis on 'easy eating' in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.

Combining history with adventure in a unique setting Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies is an 18th century ‘theme park’ with a fantasy landscape of rugged rocks, caves and grottos plus wonderful views and walks. Every Thursday Hawkstone will be providing a complimentary Land Rover ‘Silver Safari’ service to key high points in the park allowing access for anyone unable to walk up the steep climbs.

Ironbridge and Telford has a wide choice of accommodation for visitors ranging from four star hotels with dining awards to traditional country inns, farmhouses and comfy B&Bs; there are also quality camping and caravan sites and cosy cottages for those who prefer to self-cater. For further information, or to obtain a copy of the Ironbridge and Telford visitor and accommodation guide, Tel: 01952 567562 or log onto www.visitironbridge.co.uk.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Join Gordon Banks for dinner

BY EARLY July, we’ll be approaching the height of World Cup fever and hopefully cheering on Wayne Rooney and co in the quarter finals.

What better way to soak up the full atmosphere of the world’s biggest football competition than in the company of one of England’s greatest heroes of the game Gordon Banks OBE.

The legendary goalkeeper will be hosting a private dinner at Warner Leisure Hotels’ magnificent Littlecote House Hotel, Berkshire, when guests will have the chance to ask him about his illustrious career and especially England’s greatest moment of sporting glory, the 1966 World Cup.

During the evening there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and take photographs.

The VIP dinner is just one of many outstanding breaks at Grade 1 listed Littlecote House Hotel this year including hot air balloon flights, horse racing trips, and a Psychic School featuring Jayne Wallace, one of Britain’s top mediums. That’s in addition to a full programme of live entertainment that ranges from Acker Bilk and His Paramount Jazz Band to an evening with popular comedian Tom O’Connor.

The three-night weekend break from Friday July 2nd costs from £309 for an Ambassador Room with a £60 per person supplement for the private dinner with Gordon Banks OBE. The dinner with Gordon Banks takes place in the evening on Sunday 4th July.

For more information visit www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk or call 0800 1388 399.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Last-minute family breaks for Easter

YES, the sun is shining, the daffodils are blooming and Easter is only a couple of weeks away.

If you haven’t booked an Easter break there’s still time to treat the kids to a couple of days away with Haven Holidays – and the good news is that it won’t cost the earth!

Haven are offering Bank Holiday breaks on selected parks from less than £200 for a family of up to six people. Three days arriving on Good Friday, in a ‘Standard’ two bedroom holiday home costs from just £199 and includes a fun-packed package of Easter activities, free Learn2Swim lessons, free football coaching, kid’s clubs and a whole programme of daytime and evening entertainment.

All Haven parks have tip top facilities with heated leisure pools, multi-sports courts and a range of fun extras including Adventure golf, climbing walls, pitch ‘n putt, golf courses – even horse-riding, fishing and boating lakes.

The special Easter deal is available at Riviere Sands in Cornwall, Doniford Bay in Somerset, Reighton Sands in Yorkshire and Presthaven Sands in North Wales. Check the website on www.haven.com or call 0871 230 1900 for immediate bookings and details of other special offers.

Relax this Easter with a cottage holiday

GET away with the whole family this Easter holiday and experience the magic of Pembrokeshire! Coastal Cottages have some fantastic properties to suit you and your family’s needs, with great locations so there is something for everyone!

For a get together with family or friends Coed Cadw and Coed Cadw Farmhouse are adjoining cottages in a lovely peaceful setting, yet only a short walk away from the local village pub with its recommended restaurant. A short drive away is the town of Newport with its beach, golf club and many pubs and restaurants that need sampling!

Coed Cadw farmhouse is a semi detached, traditional stone farmhouse situated in the Pretty Nevern valley. The farmhouse has been renovated throughout but keeps many of the original features with exposed beams and slate floors running throughout, the wood burning stove set in an inglenook makes the lounge a cosy retreat. The Pretty country kitchen opens up onto an enclosed and lawned garden where you can sit and enjoy a drink in the evening when the children are all tucked up.

Adjoining the Farmhouse and enjoying the tranquil setting is Coed Cadw Cottage. This charming cottage is full of character, attractive furnishings throughout blend well together. The large open plan living room has patio doors which open out onto the enclosed lawn, bringing the outside in.

The two cottages can be booked together, for a relaxing break, sleeping 10 in this wonderful part of Pembrokeshire.

A weeks stay in Coed Cadw Farmhouse and Coed Cadw starting on the 27th March on a special offer price would be just £774 (saving £87) sleeping 10 people.

01437 772760, www.coastalcottages.co.uk

Monday, 15 March 2010

Combine a short break with a theme park visit

AS ALL the major theme parks open their doors for the 2010 season and with the Easter and half-term holidays fast approaching, what better way to enjoy a short break than combining it with a trip to a theme park to try out the latest new attractions.
This year sees a new th13teen rollercoaster at Alton Towers, a whole new pirate themed land at Legoland Windsor and the new SAW Alive horror maze at Thorpe Park to name but a few. Short break specialist Superbreak combines overnight accommodation with tickets to the parks for the ultimate thrill packed break.

What’s new for 2010
Alton Towers – New Ride TH13TEEN
The ultimate rollercoaster, Th13teen, launches on 20th March 2010. Th13teen will be based on the discovery of an unearthed burial site in an area of unexplored woodland known as the Dark Forest. Built on the site of the old Corkscrew rollercoaster, visitors will be invited to take a petrifying ride on Th13teen, venturing into the seemingly living and breathing Dark Forest. There they will face an unknown horror that has been unleashed from the ancient crypt The Ride has been developed with the world’s leading coaster and thrill consultants who have collaborated to combine the ultimate elements of physical and psychological fear – to create what experts are dubbing a ‘PSYCHOASTER’

A package costs from £173 per family of four (two adults and two children sharing a room) staying one night at a supersaver mystery hotel in Stoke on Trent on a b/b basis with two consecutive day entrance ticket to the park. Children aged 4-11years. Valid from 20 March onwards.

Legoland Windsor – New land for 2010 – Pirates Landing
Enjoy a whole new land where visitor can try out their swashbuckling, seafaring skills at the Pirate Training Camp, an interactive adventure play area with so much to explore. Or climb aboard for a breathtaking ride on the new swinging LEGO galleon, the Jolly Rocker – the first ever pirate ship in any LEGOLAND park, swinging to an incredible 18 metres high! Then set sail for a soaking and follow the pirates on a hunt for treasure on the “explosively” enhanced Pirate Falls Dynamite Drench. With new interactive water cannons, it’s one adventure that’s bound to go with a splash! There is also a new pirate-themed live action show for 2010, ‘the Pirates of Skeleton Bay’, the first in the park’s history, featuring death-defying acrobatics and swashbuckling.

A package costs from £201 per family of four (two adults and two children sharing a room) staying one night at the three star Premier Inn London Heathrow on a room only basis with a two consecutive day entrance ticket to the park. Children aged 4-11years. Valid from 2 April – end of May at weekends.

Thorpe Park - New for Spring 2010 - Saw Alive
Set to be the world’s most extreme horror attraction, SAW Alive will test visitors to Face their Fears in a new, year round live horror maze featuring 6 iconic scenes from the terrifying 'SAW' films! This theme park is aimed at adults and thrill seekers and many rides are not recommended for young children. And don’t forget – there is also the ‘SAW – The Ride’ which opened in 2009 and is the world’s first ever horror movie-themed rollercoaster with a ‘beyond vertical’ drop of 100º from a terrifying height of 100ft.

A package costs from £155 per person staying one night at the three star Premier Inn London Heathrow on a room only basis with a two day entrance ticket to the park. Valid from 2 April – end of May at weekends.

For more information and bookings call Superbreak 0871 221 4444
or visit www.superbreak.com/agents

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Haven's £40m investment unveiled

HAVEN Holiday parks all around the UK are preparing to start the new season on March 19th by unveiling the results of a £40million winter investment programme.

Holidaymakers booking an early season break will be amongst the first to try out the new facilities at Haven’s 35 parks. New attractions range from Adventure Golf courses, new sports and play areas, improvements to venues and ShowBars, upgraded accommodation and, best of all, two fabulous Space Bowls giving guests the ultimate ‘Wow’ factor at Combe Haven near Hastings and Marton Mere at Blackpool!

Swimmers using the Space Bowls can expect a high speed ride down the flumes before spinning around the bowl and dropping into the pool. Great fun but not for the faint-hearted!

Haven say, ‘We’ve invested £40 million in our parks to ensure that families can enjoy even better facilities and some spectacular new innovations. But we’ve made sure our prices have remained affordable to provide the best possible value for money.’

Spring breaks start from as little as £99 for a family of up to six in ‘Superior’ holiday homes on three night breaks from March 19th or four night breaks from March 22nd. The special deal is available at a wide choice of parks including The Orchards near Clacton in Essex, Golden Sands near Mablethorpe, Hafan y Mor in North Wales and Haven’s flagship park, Devon Cliffs near Exmouth.

If you can’t get away until the Easter holidays Combe Haven is offering breaks from April 9th at £179 for a family of six and Marton Mere is offering Bank Holiday Breaks, arriving 2nd April from £299 – both prices based on ‘Superior’ bedroom holiday homes.

For bookings and more info call 0871 230 1900 or click on www.haven.com

Antiques break with TV expert Eric Knowles

DO YOU have an heirloom in your attic, or a treasure in the shed?

If you think there’s a chance your car boot bargain might turn out to be a valuable antique, find out on a special holiday break featuring Antiques Roadshow expert, Eric Knowles.

The special ‘Antiques with Eric Knowles’ Experience Break is happening at Warner Leisure Hotels’ magnificent Thoresby Hall Hotel & Spa, on the edge of the Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, on April 5th.

The TV presenter and author will join the four-night midweek holiday for two days when he will be available to give you a valuation on your treasures, answer your questions and present a talk about the fascinating world of antiques.

The break coincides with the Newark Antiques Fair, Europe’s biggest antiques and collectibles event where you can browse around as many as 4,000 stalls offering a huge variety of furniture, architectural pieces, porcelain, pottery, silver, jewellery, paintings, books, maps, prints, and toys. Transport to the Antiques Fair and the entrance cost are included in the price of the Experience Break.

Grade I listed Thoresby Hall is the perfect setting to be inspired by historic art and culture. Dating back to 1875, the beautiful stately house was designed by Anthony Salvin with gardens by Sir Humphrey Repton and parklands landscaped by Capability Brown. The extraordinary Great Hall which rises through three storeys is steeped in history, and legend has it that Robin Hood exchanged vows with Maid Marion in the nearby church of St Mary. During your stay the full story of the mansion will be brought to life by the Thoresby Players.

While the hotel may be historic, the quality of its four-star accommodation and level of service with superb facilities on site is of the highest contemporary standards. There are three outstanding restaurants to choose from and a wide range of leisure facilities including a leisure centre with swimming pool, sauna, steamroom, bubble pool and fitness room, plus a state-of-the-art spa and a full programme of evening entertainment.

Prices for an Ambassador Room start at £314 per person including three-course dinner, bed and hearty breakfast. There’s an £85pp supplement for the Antiques Experience with Eric Knowles. For more information visit www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk or ring 0800 1 388 399.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Big weekends with Butlins

BUTLINS Big Weekends are just one big unforgettable party!

Butlins adults-only Big Weekends pack all the fun of a fortnight into just three days with a party atmosphere, big name headline acts and top tribute bands all included in the price of the break.

* We Love the 70s, 26th – 29th March, Butlins Minehead @ £75 pp per break (including accommodation, most facilities and all live entertainment)
The Real Thing, Brotherhood of Man, Alvin Stardust, Richard Street’s Temptations and Les McKeown’s Legendary Bay City Rollers appear live on stage to bring the true feel of the 70s to life. They are supported by tributes to ABBA, Tom Jones and T-Rex. To book a Butlins break call 0845 070 4730 or visit www.bigweekends.com

* 80’s Madness, 16th – 19th April, Butlins Skegness @ £57pp per break (including accommodation, most facilities and all live entertainment)
The Teenies are the new 80s so get a taste of the mega-stars of the original decade at this break when Bananarama, Toyah Willcox, Bad Manners and Musical Youth all appear live on stage. To book a Butlins break call 0845 070 4730 or visit www.bigweekends.com

(All guests must be aged 18+ years)

Is home exchange the new stay-cation?

If the ‘stay-cation’ was the holiday phenomenon of 2009, could 2010 be the year of the home exchange?

Millions of Britons chose to spend their holidays at home last year as the economic recession took hold, and with confidence still not fully restored, would-be travellers are continuing to look for ways to keep their holiday costs down.

One creative option is a home exchange: ‘swapping’ your property with that of another homeowner elsewhere in the world - cutting the cost of accommodation almost to zero in the process.

“Last year seemed to be all about saving money by staying at home, while this year there’s a greater consumer willingness to travel but still an emphasis on affordability,” commented Dianne Stewart of global home exchange site Homes-Club International (www.homes-club.com).

“A home exchange is the perfect solution - providing travellers with potential access to a range of accommodation across the world while helping them to save money too.”

A glance at a leading online travel website shows just how significant these savings could be, regardless of destination. A week-long stay from 24 July in a centrally-located three-star hotel would cost a family of four £973 in Bath and £1,035 in Geneva.

Further afield, the same seven nights would cost £830 in Perth (Australia), £607 in Cape Town and £1,030 in Manhattan, New York.

“Home exchange can also provide a more comfortable experience for families - a private house or apartment is generally more spacious and will have more home comforts than a hotel room or suite,” added Ms Stewart.

The home exchange concept started in the 1950s, largely in the USA at first, then spreading across the world as demand for international travel increased and levels of home ownership grew. Although still a relatively small part of the overall travel market, it is growing quickly, partly in response to the global economic downturn.

Home exchange typically works on a membership scheme basis, with annual membership of Homes-Club International currently priced at just £25. After joining, members are free to browse the site to identify properties in their chosen destination and make direct contact with the owners to negotiate a property swap. If second homes are involved members can use each others’ properties at different times and negotiate over length of stay.

To ensure privacy and security, full property details can be viewed only within the password-protected members’ area of the site. Homes-Club International membership is open to anyone with a connection with independent schools anywhere in the world - past and present parents, former pupils, staff and governors.

A free guide to what to do on holiday

WEST Country cottage specialist, Helpful Holidays, produces a free annual guide for its holidaymakers to help them make the best of their time away.

Entitled What shall we do today? it contains discount vouchers and deals for 80 major attractions throughout the South West and is sent to guests before their holidays so they can plan their outings in advance, saving valuable research time and money while on holiday.

This year the booklet features a wonderful variety of places to visit throughout Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset including gardens, historic houses, castles and family adventure parks, as well as wildlife and activity centres. New this year is Extreme West, which is offering a 10% discount on their South West activity gift vouchers – experiences range from Tiger Moth flying to quad biking, sailing and falconry.

Attractions don’t pay for inclusion, but are selected on their willingness to offer a financial incentive to visitors; deals range from discounted entry for one free child with every full-paying adult, or group rates for individual entry.

Helpful Holidays has also included its own top ten suggestions for walks, beaches, places to eat, houses and gardens to visit, children’s attractions and West Country wonders such as the Eden Project, Minack Theatre and Lundy Island.

Other useful pages list farmers’ markets, walking and cycling trails, eateries and a selection of the most interesting events, as well as award-winning beaches for each of the four counties.

For information about Helpful Holidays’ portfolio of over 600 places to stay in the West Country, visit www.helpfulholidays.com or call 01647 434063 for a brochure.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Converted hayloft is ideal base for coast visitors

A FORMER hayloft and stables in Bamburgh have been sympathetically converted to provide an exceptional base for visitors to the North East’s Heritage Coast!

Wynding Down is just 200 metres from the sandy beach and Bamburgh Golf Club.

It is a well appointed, three bedroom property, tastefully furnished and equipped to a very high standard providing excellent accommodation in this sought after part of the village.

The sitting room has an open fire, with views of Bamburgh Castle on one side and the sea on the other.

Prices for a week’s stay start at £295.

For full details please contact Northumbria Coast & Country Cottages on 01665 830783 or visit: www.northumbria-cottages.co.uk.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Powerboat racing in Cornwall

THE opening races of the Zapcat powerboat season will take place in Cornwall this year, when the Blue Chip Newquay Zapcat Grand Prix race weekend kicks off the season at Fistral Beach on the weekend of 24 and 25 April.

Blue Chip Newquay, which has over 170 high-end self-catering properties in Newquay, has played a key role in securing the race for the town as the season’s curtain opener, working closely with Tourism Newquay, Bare Feet Promotions and the Zapcat Grand Prix race organisers, ZCR Ltd.

The Blue Chip Newquay Grand Prix weekend is the first major event for Newquay, which has become known as the UK’s experience capital, and will play a significant role in attracting early season tourists, generating valuable income for the town. Early estimates suggest that as much as £750,000+ could be brought into the local economy as a direct result of the race weekend.

On the evening of St George’s Day (Friday 23rd), a grand Zapcats Parade will take place through the town featuring competitors and boats, raising awareness of the Grand Prix, and attracting visitors to come to the event over the weekend.

Viewing will be free and a range of entertainment and freshly prepared food and drink will be available for spectators. Opportunities to meet the race teams and see the powerboats up close will also be laid on to encourage a growing following for the championship, which already has international status.

Practice sessions will take place on the Friday, followed by spectacular races on the Saturday and Sunday at the north end of the beach featuring around 40 teams; the southern end of Fistral Beach will remain open for public use. Up to 16 heats of racing will take place culminating in two divisional finals each day. Each daily round will earn the competitors vital points towards the prestigious National Championships, the Services, Rookie, and Team, Mixed, Home Nations and Surf titles, all of which will come to their tense finales in October.

Teams, including local Royal Marines from RAF St Mawgan, will cut through the surf, performing daring and spectacular aerial leaps as they propel themselves through the sea at speeds of up to 50 mph. The Course will take the Zapcats out to the Fistral Headland before turning south and then returning parallel to the beach giving spectators an excellent view from every vantage point.

Commenting on the race, Alan Taylor, Managing Director of Blue Chip Vacations and Blue Chip Newquay, said: “2010 is the tenth anniversary for both Blue Chip Vacations and Zapcat racing in the UK. As soon as we realised that there was a possibility of bringing this awesome event to Newquay, we jumped at the opportunity. We realise just how important it is to support events that grab the attention of visitors and inspire them to stay during weeks that they might not normally consider.

“Over the last three years, late April has been a belter for warm weather and we’re confident that, combined with low off-season rates available through www.bluechipnewquay.com the Blue Chip Newquay Zapcats Grand Prix weekend will be a draw for many thousands of visitors and spectators from across the South West and the UK.”

Blue Chip Newquay has properties in some of Newquay’s most iconic buildings, many of which are set overlooking the sea, the town or the golf-course. Properties that are particularly close to Fistral Beach, which will host the Zapcats event, include Zinc, Bredon Court, Ocean 1, Pentire Mews, The Vista, Pearl, Trehellan Heights and Headland Point.

Other properties within a 15 minute walk include Rocklands, Glendorgal, Golden Bay, Harbour View, Seapoint and The Old Edwardian.

Martin Jupp, Managing Director of ZCR and Race coordinator for the Zapcat Championship added: “This is the first time a Zapcat Racing event has been held at Fistral Beach and we are expecting a fantastic turnout of race teams, supporters and spectators alike. Zapcats in the surf is always great entertainment with plenty of thrills and spills!”

Richard Wilcox, Business Development Manager for Tourism Newquay said: “The Grand Prix is a fantastic spectacle and will help kick-start what we hope will be a great season for Newquay. This event is the perfect platform to show off all that is exciting, innovative and fun about Newquay, appealing to people of all ages from across the globe. And importantly, by engaging with Newquay businesses and organisations, we can ensure that the Zapcats weekend works for them and has a positive economic impact that is felt across the town."

Guy Thomas, Cornwall Council Newquay Town Centre Manager, says: "The Zap Cat event is a great addition to Newquay's events calendar and offers an exciting spectacle for everyone to go and see. The boats are great fun to watch and an event of this calibre helps to showcase the town as a venue for top quality sporting events of all natures. I hope this will become a regular event in Newquay and it is a very positive step for the town".

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Walking festival is just Scilly

IF YOU want to have the opportunity to take part in the UK’s most westerly walking festival - WalkScilly2010 – then you need to get your skates on as well as your walking boots, with booking levels for the festival well ahead of schedule and places going fast.

Driven largely by a new range of walks, and also coinciding with the Isles of Scilly Folk festival, there are more reasons than ever before to explore the wonder of the Isles of Scilly and enjoy the talents of local musicians.

Some of the themed walks at what is the fourth Walk Scilly Festival include ‘Tresco Coastal and Inland Wild Food Walk’, ‘Sing Peninnis’, Across the Sands to Samson’ and ‘Higher Moors Children Walk’.

To ensure that WalkScilly remains, by its very nature, a small and friendly festival, all of the walks are capped at 20 participants and graded by difficulty with something for everyone from seasoned walkers to absolute beginners.

And with the Festival coinciding with the Folk Festival, on many evenings there will be music to be heard from local bands including Six Wet Fish, who will feature at the opening night at event sponsor St Mary’s Hall Hotel.

“We are delighted with booking levels for this year’s festival, which keeps gets bigger and better every year. Our advice to anyone who was thinking about coming to the festival is to book now to avoid the risk of disappointment,” said Walk Scilly organiser Euan Rodger of Event Scilly.

As part of the festival, travel operators and accommodation owners have organised a range of special offers. For more information on the event, and a list of special offers visit www.walkscilly.co.uk

Friday, 5 March 2010

Cracking good offer for Easter

FAMILY friendly hotel group, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, has launched a cracking good offer for Easter.
Perfect for families looking to enjoy an Easter holidays break in the UK, Macdonald Hotels is offering up to 50% off rates for stays between 31 March and 25 April 2010.
Available at each of Macdonald Hotels’ 40 four and five star properties in the UK, families can not only take advantage of the fantastic discounts, but will also receive a £10 voucher per room, per night, which can be redeemed against a choice of golf, spa or dinner at their chosen hotel.
Included in the offer, two children up to the age of 12 will stay for free and go free at breakfast.
And if that wasn’t enough, the offer coincides with Macdonald Hotels’ partnership with Thorntons, the nation’s favourite chocolate company, who together are offering Thorntons Metropolitan Easter eggs and boxes of Metropolitan chocolates – the newest range of must-have chocolates - at selected hotels.

Available at selected hotels including, Aviemore Highland Resort, Forest Hills Hotel & Resort, Craxton Wood, Elmers Court Hotel & Resort, Berystede Hotel & Spa and Linden Hall Golf & Country Club, each property will be giving away three sets, comprising of a Metropolitan Easter egg and box of Metropolitan chocolates.

The up to 50% off plus a £10 voucher per room, per night is available at all Macdonald Hotels on bookings placed between 25 February and 25 April 2010 for stays between 31 March and 25 April.

To book this offer please call Central Reservations on 0844 879 9200 or visit www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/egg, quoting promotional code EAM. Terms and conditions apply.
To check out some of the other delicious chocolates in the Thorntons Easter range, or to find your nearest store, visit www.thorntons.co.uk

Chocolate Fact Box:
• The first Thorntons chocolate shop was opened in Sheffield by Joseph William Thornton
• Thorntons have been making chocolates for over 100 years and are now the UK’s largest independent confectioner
• Chocolates should be kept at room temperature (between 18-20ºc) and not in the fridge!
• If you’re tasting lots of chocolate varieties, sip a little water or lime juice between pieces as this will cleanse your palate
• Depending on the type of cocoa bean used, you should be able to pick up sweet, spicy, fruity, flowery, grassy, nutty or even woody aromas from your chocolate

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Pet-friendly coastal cottages

ON A unique, special website - www.thewoofguide.co.uk - Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire highlights lots of pet-friendly properties and also has sections highlighting dog-friendly pubs, restaurants and activities.

All featured cottages have been specially reviewed – with a ‘paw rating’ - for their suitability for five categories of pet – everything from pups to pensioners.

For example, a week’s stay at Rose Cottage (sleeps four) in the tiny hamlet of Lochvane near Newport is £427 in mid April. The cottage is set in two acres of gardens and is minutes from sandy beaches and the coastal path.

Tel: 01437 772760, www.coastalcottages.co.uk or visit www.thewoofguide.co.uk

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Create an Easter egg on holiday

LAKESIDE Coastal Village, one of 13 Warner Leisure Hotels, is offering the option to create your own Belgian chocolate egg.

If previous Easter eggs have had too much box and not enough chocolate, this is your chance to make something that meets your eggspectations!

Lakeside, situated on Hayling Island offers ‘adult only’ leisure breaks in a range of Lodges and Chalets set amongst landscaped gardens overlooking the Solent – so you can avoid sharing your hand-made egg with any chocolatey-fingered children.

The ‘coastal village’ has a wide range of indoor and outdoor leisure options including tennis, pitch ‘n putt, swimming, indoor and outdoor bowling and a games room with full size snooker and darts.

Easter breaks, arriving on April 2nd, start at £194 per person for three nights including dinner and breakfast based on two people sharing a Standard chalet. The ‘Le Salon du Chocolat’ Experience is available at a supplement of £50. Click on www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk or call 0800 1 388 399.

Warner Leisure Hotels have all sorts of Experiences available over Easter including Golf Clinics, Art for Pleasure and a cruise on the Norfolk Broads.

Thoresby Hall, near Sherwood Forest has the advantage of a fabulous spa with a range of state of the art warming and cooling experiences including Rhassoul mud-bathing and an ice cave. There’s a choice of restaurants, sport and leisure options and a regular entertainment package that includes music, live bands and a Late Lounge with dancing until the small hours.

Easter breaks, arriving on April 2nd, start at £284 per person for three nights including dinner and breakfast based on two people sharing an Ambassador Room. A Spa and Lunch package is £45. Click on www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk or call 0800 1 388 399.

Book an Easter break at Cricket St Thomas,near Chard in Somerset and take a walk through the glorious Somerset countryside - with a llama!

Grade II listed, Cricket St Thomas is a Regency mansion built in the 1820’s – Easter breaks are adult only and offer sports and leisure options as well as nightly entertainment.

Three nights from April 2nd cost £275 per person including dinner and breakfast based on two people sharing an Ambassador Room. Llama walking is an additional £50 per person. Click on www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk or call 0800 1 388 399.

Family holidays are good for you - official!

A FAMILY holiday is good for you – and that’s official.

Research carried out by the Family Holiday Association has shown that tourism can bring remarkable benefits to family life. Holidays give families the chance to spend quality time together away from the stress and worries of every day life and also provide a great way of increase social networks and making new friends.

And the more activities available to distract you from your every day worries, the greater the chance to focus on your family and forget about work. It’s hard to click on your Blackberry when you’re playing football and you won’t hear it ring when you’re in the swimming pool!

‘We try and include a whole range of activities to appeal to all ages,’ say Haven Holidays, who have 35 family holiday parks around the UK. ‘We offer fencing lessons, football coaching, archery, golf, horse-riding, climbing walls and a whole range of activities in our swimming pools from swimming lessons to Aqua Gliders and Water Walkerz. And kids clubs are a great way for youngsters to get to know each other and a good ice-breaker for Mums and Dads too!’

Haven also offer a full programme of daytime and evening entertainment with pantos, circus performances and wrestling as well as music, stage-shows and cabaret. Kid’s clubs range from Little Cubs for 1-4 year olds, club R & B for 5-11’s and T-Co Zone for 12-16’s along with a packed programme of talent contests, family quizzes, competitions and activities for all ages.

Fantastic value for money, many Haven activities and the full programme of entertainment are included in the price. An Easter weekend break for a family of six at Haven Holidays’ Thorpe Park near Cleethorpes, arriving 2nd April starts at £279 – a saving of £136 on the brochure price.

For more information and details of other special offers click on www.haven.com or call 0871 230 1900.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Top 10 'Best of British' homes for rent

WITH varied landscape, magnificent scenery and rich cultural heritage, a holiday at home in Britain offers so much more than just a ‘bucket and spade’ and holds plenty of surprises for those who have never tried it before.

As well as vibrant cities, arresting coastlines and sandy beaches, the British countryside boasts outstanding natural beauty with its rolling valleys, mountains and hills. HomeAway Holiday-Rentals, the UK’s largest holiday rentals website, offers travellers a rare opportunity to rent some of the best of British homes.

There are currently over 6,000 private holiday homes in the UK listed on www.HomeAway.co.uk, from the Scottish Highlands to the Cornish Coast, providing accommodation for every type of holiday and budget.

The Top 10 ‘Best of British’ homes on HomeAway.co.uk

1. Baronial Loch side house set on the banks of the Loch, Scottish Highlands
7 Bedrooms, Sleeps 14. From £1,650 per week
This is a Scottish Baronial self catering house. www.homeaway.co.uk/p86614

2. Stunning 19th century country house in Northumberland
2 Bedrooms, Sleeps 24. From £4,100 per week
Guyzance Hall is a beautiful gentleman's residence. www.homeaway.co.uk/p417412

3. 17th century manor house with spa, Oxfordshire Cotswolds
12 Bedrooms, Sleeps 32. From £6,000 per week
The 70 acre Cotswold country estate features an organic parkland, pasture and woodland and a gorgeous 17th century, Grade II listed manor house. www.homeaway.co.uk/p405572

4. Magnificent Grade II listed Medieval House, Suffolk
12 Bedrooms, Sleeps 24. £4,950 per week
A magnificent 15th century Grade II listed, Medieval House for your own personal use, The Old Neptune.

5. Jacobean mansion overlooking the beautiful Gipping Valley, Suffolk
9 Bedrooms, Sleeps 21. From £2,097 per week. www.homeaway.co.uk/p424509

6. English country estate with home cinema, Berkshire
5 Bedrooms, Sleeps 11. £2,600 per week
This is an English country house with plenty of indoor space for entertaining family and friends, set in 20 acres of estate land and glorious gardens with mature plants and trees. www.homeaway.co.uk/p418796

7. 11th century moated manor house in Surrey
7 Bedrooms, Sleeps 16. From £4,805 per week
This 11th Century moated manor house nestles on the edge of the Surrey Hills. www.homeaway.co.uk/p77651

8. Luxury modern barn in Cheddar & Bridgwater area
6 Bedrooms, Sleeps 12. From £1,695 per week
This recently renovated house sits in five acres in the Quantock Hills. www.homeaway.co.uk/p422533

9. Stunning stone built house set in superb gardens, Bude
5 Bedrooms, Sleeps 12. From £800 per week
A wonderful house, set in large and secluded gardens, in the quiet hamlet of Upton. www.homeaway.co.uk/p428923

10. Large village house in Canterbury, with pool
8 Bedrooms, Sleeps 16. From £2,250 per week
'Maryland House' is a substantial 1930s residence situated on the edge of a small village. www.homeaway.co.uk/p407086
AIRPORT Parking and Hotels (APH), the long stay airport parking and travel extras specialist, has turned the spotlight on its own industry by highlighting the extra charges imposed by airport parking booking companies.

The research compares the extra charges imposed by the top, airport parking booking agencies offering services at all major UK airports, including credit card charges, debit card charges, cancellation fees and refunds. The table is available in the ‘Know Before You Go’ section of the website at www.aph.com/charges.

Cancellation and amendment fees were found to be the highest charge added to the booking with all the companies charging cancellation fees if a booking is cancelled close to the travel date, however some charge hefty fees even if customers cancel well in advance. Airparks, BCP and Holiday Extras (all part of the same company group) charge £9.50 for each cancellation if not done within 24 hours of making the booking, whereas Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) and Purple Parking have no charges for cancelling at least a day in advance of the departure date.

Nick Caunter, managing director of Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) says: “The good news is that compared to the no frills airlines where the extra charges often occur, the airport parking industry has many fewer “extras”. However, customers really need to be savvy about who they book with because there are significant differences between companies.”

Airport Parking and Hotels Ltd is one of the UK’s leading booking agencies and this year celebrates its 30th year as a retailer and operator of pre-booked airport parking and travel extras. APH offers parking at all major UK airports, ports and Eurotunnel terminals plus airport hotels packaged with parking, airport lounges, travel insurance, car hire and holiday taxis. APH is also a carbon balanced company and has, through the World Land Trust, helped purchase more than 1,000 acres of Belize rainforest.

For further information visit www.aph.com or call 01342 859515.

Cottage break for Mother's Day

IF YOU are looking for the ideal location to take mum away for a Mother’s Day treat then Poachers Cottage in Alnwick fits the bill.

It is a beautiful Grade II listed stone building dating from 1750 and recently renovated to a very high standard.

It is also situated in the heart of Alnwick, close to an excellent selection of pubs and restaurants serving up delicious Mother’s Day lunches offering the best of Northumbrian produce.

Poachers Cottage has its own wood burning stove so you are guaranteed a cosy stay. There are two bedrooms, with a further sofa bed in the living room and your favourite dog is welcome too.

Cost of a week’s stay over Mother’s Day, March 14, is £245.

For full details please contact Northumbria Coast & Country Cottages on 01665 830783 or visit: www.northumbria-cottages.co.uk.