Based in Muswell Hill

Brian Telfer

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If personal service, expert, impartial travel advice and peace of mind is important to you, please contact me for a chat about your holiday and travel plans.

As your personal Travel Counsellor, my aim is to make booking your holiday an enjoyable experience. You may not have time to research your well-deserved break or special occasion. That's where I come in - I'll gather a list of your likes, dislikes & more, during our initial chat, and then I'll get to work on researching options based on your preferences. I have the expertise and knowledge to provide recommendations tailored to any requirement. Your role is to relax....

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I will look after you, from your booking until you're safely home. In addition, our 24/7 Duty Office keeps an eye on world events (including ever-changing entry requirements), so you are supported whenever you need it. So even if I’m asleep on the other side of the world, our team is taking care of you.

My clients book with me time and time again, because they know I listen carefully to their need & I've got to know their preferences. It makes me very proud that my loyal customers recommend my services to their family, friends and colleagues, and also go to the trouble of providing lovely testimonials about me. You can read them on this page.

Recent accolades for Travel Counsellors include Winner Of A Queen’s Award For Enterprise 2020 (our third Queen's Award) and Winner Of “Best National Travel Retailer” At The 2020 British Travel Awards. We also ranked No 1 In Moneysaving Expert’s Covid-19 Travel Survey

I have been in the travel industry for over 35 years and love running my own travel business - in fact, I'm Travel Counsellors' longest serving counsellor. Our cutting edge technology means not only that I have access to all the big travel industry names as well as many niche companies that many high street agents do not deal with, but my clients can also use our free, convenient MyTC app to see the quotations which I send to you, make secure payments, and have all their travel documents in one place.

I'm here to help at a time to suit you, including evenings and weekends, not just 9-5 Mon-Fri. Therefore, I offer a level of choice and personal service that simply can’t be found on the high street. And no hard sell - just friendly, impartial advice and exceptional levels of customer service. If you have a problem, you call me. No calling expensive after-sales number and being put in a queue

I specialise in the Caribbean, North America, Far East, Australia, New Zealand, winter sports, group travel (golf, ski, spa), safaris, activity holidays, weddings, honeymoons & cruises. I handle business travel too, due to my expertise in complex itineraries. However, wherever you want to go and whatever you want to do, I can help.

Whatever you book with me is completely protected from supplier failure by our unique Financial Trust. No ifs or buts. It is the best financial protection in the industry.

I will be delighted to look after all your travel needs, so please do contact me.

You can reach me direct on 020 3432 2510 or mobile 07930 387629 - both come through to me.

I look forward to hearing from you.


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My Blog

I absolutely live and breathe travel and I love to write about my experiences! Please take a look through my posts - you might find your own holiday inspiration.

Vibrant Bratislava - capital of Slovakia

19 May 2021

Today’s excursions started at 3.30pm, which gave us time to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and then up to the sun deck to enjoy the scenery as we cruised by. And then enjoy a leisurely lunch! We then returned to our suites to get ready to visit Bratislava, the world's only capital city bordering with two other countries - Austria (west) and Hungary (southeast). We boarded the Crystal coaches for our various tours. The choice included an outing to the Bratislava Chatam Sofer Memorial; a city tour “Panoramic Bratislava & Slovak Beer Pub Experience” and an optional “Flavours of Bratislava: A Walking tour”. As always, you were free to stay on the Crystal Mozart and enjoy the facilities. Bratislava's passenger port is located directly in the city centre, making everything very accessible if you just wanted to walk in, and explore on your own. I do enjoy guided orientation city tours, while learning about the history from a local guide. Our tour covered all the key places, starting with Bratislava Castle, from which we had amazing views of the city. Bratislava Old Town highlights include St Michael’s Gate, Main Square (surrounded by buildings of different architectures, including Gothic and Art Nouveau) and the Old Town Hall. Most of the Old Town is pedestrianised, so it is easy to get around on foot. I loved the mix of modern artwork and sculptures amongst the architecture. See the photo of the giant bubble in the main square of the Old Town. Some of the most photographed attractions of Bratislava are its sculptures in human size located all over its Old Town. One example is Schöner Náci, who strolled around Bratislava during the communist days in a top hat and suit, and now greets visitors outside his favourite café, Kaffee Mayer, an institution here since 1873. The bronze figure "CUMIL – Man at work" is undoubtedly the most photographed statue in the city – so I took a photo of it. After the tour, we went for our “Slovak Beer Pub Experience” in the Old Town. This was good fun, giving us the chance to get to know other cruise guests as well as sample the beers. As Crystal Mozart was moored so close by, we opted to walk back to the ship on the cobbled lanes through the Old Town. There’s a lot to enjoy in vibrant Bratislava with its history, stunning architecture of palaces, burghers’ houses and church buildings, tradition, culture, art and lively cafes. It is also a great place to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Christmas markets. If you’re interested in a river cruise which visits Bratislava, or if you’d like a city break in Bratislava (or a twin-centre break), please contact me on 020 3432 2510 or for a chat about your trip.

Change of tempo: IIz River Nature Walk

03 May 2021

After a busy day yesterday in Munich and at Oktoberfest, the choice of guided excursions today from Crystal Mozart, moored at Passau, included a tour of the Bavarian country side by bike, a Discovery tour of Roman Times and Roman dishes, a Passau Walking Tour or an IIz River Nature Walk. There was also a shuttle service into Town if you wanted to do your own thing. Mind you, it was always tempting to relax on board, with the excellent Crystal team taking care of you. We chose the escorted Nature walk, just to have total change of tempo. This was a walk along the banks of the Ilz River in a thriving nature reserve, accompanied by a Nature Expert to teach you about the wildlife in the region. The river is said to be one of the most beautiful river landscapes in Germany and it was a wonderful, natural experience. The river is sometimes called "black pearl" and I understand the name refers to the dark brown water coloured by the peaty soil. The river enters the Danube in the city Passau. As promised, our guide was very knowledgeable, and the walk conducted at a steady pace, so we had time to chat to fellow guests and enjoy the views. The idyllic nature of this tour is what makes it so special. Passau's most beautiful recreational area includes not just the slow flowing River Ilz, but also lots of untouched nature. Along the path, you can also glimpse the ruins of Hals Castle in the background. Then it was back to our mother ship, Crystal Mozart, before it set sail to Bratislava, Slovakia. During the afternoon after lunch, we enjoyed scenic cruising through the “Schlögener Schlinge”. Lying on one of the loungers on sun deck, watching the scenery go by, interspersed with a walk on wraparound promenade area, a visit to the popup bar or going down to the Bistro on Deck 3 to get some top notch coffee and cookies, was so relaxing.

Full day adventure to Munich and Oktoberfest

29 April 2021

Once Crystal Mozart had docked at Passau, Germany, my next excursion was a full day, with the morning to be spent in Munich on an escorted city walk, followed by my first visit to the iconic Oktoberfest. MUNICH Marienplatz Square & Town Hall is always in the top 10 attractions lists. One of Munich's most impressive buildings, the New City Hall (Neues Rathaus) on Marienplatz offers fantastic views of the city from its tower. The Munich Glockenspiel in the tower balcony of the Neues Rathaus is world famous and worth seeing. The famous glockenspiel attracts huge crowds every day and we joined them to watch important scenes from Munich's history, such as the wedding of Duke Wilhelm V to Renate of Lorraine in 1568. Marienplatz is the central square in Old Town, Munich’s urban heart and the central point of the pedestrian zone. From Marienplatz, you can easily visit the best sights in old Munich. If you like shopping, you’ll enjoy the arcades, exclusive shops and boutiques in the city. Munich also offers castles, museums, churches, parks and squares bustling with life. It is a great destination for a city break, and I will be back! Munich also makes the perfect base for exploring southern Germany so why not make it part of a 2-3 centre break? OKTOBERFEST I’d been told Munich that offers so much more than just the Oktoberfest or Lederhosen and the morning proved that to be true. However, the afternoon proved that Oktoberfest (and Lederhosen) is enormous fun and not just a box to tick. Over 6 million tourists travel to this famous festival, which takes over Munich for two weeks of parades, rides, live music & plenty of beer & German food. The first Oktoberfest was a celebration of the marriage between Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. In keeping tradition with the original dates, the last weekend of modern Oktoberfests always takes place in October, usually ending on the first Sunday of the month. We went on the Family Day (every Tuesday is Family Day at Oktoberfest) and were dropped off by our Crystal coach to enjoy the event ourselves without a guide. As well as large & small beer tents, there are exhilarating rides, concerts, stalls and souvenirs. The Oktoberfest site is massive, with beer tents in all directions. Probably going against all advice, we plumped for the first tent we saw, and sat next to a young German couple outside in the sunshine. We announced we were British and had no idea what to do – on reflection, this was probably obvious! They very kindly introduced us to our waitresses – one looked after drinks, and one looked after food. These ladies were amazing – they wore wrist supports to enable them to carry copious amounts of beer to their customers (and 1 red wine served in a commemorative mug for my girlfriend). Oktoberfest is also the perfect opportunity to sample traditional Bavarian cuisine such as white sausage, pretzels, gingerbread and countless roasted meats. The best part though was seeing all the families and groups of friends dressed up in traditional Bavarian attire; the men wear lederhosen (leather shorts with H-shaped braces), and the ladies wear dirndls (a knee-to-floor-length dress with a bodice). It seems you have to dress to impress, and unfortunately, our look was “just got off our coach & it might rain-casual”. However, if I go again, I plan to wear lederhosen, just to join in with the fun, vibrant atmosphere. Then it was back to Crystal Mozart, to enjoy a G&T and glass of champagne at the popup bar on the top deck before dinner. Please contact me if either a visit to Munich or a river cruise is on your wish list, just call me on 020 3432 2510 or email brian.telfer@travelcounsellors.comfor a chat.

Ceský Krumlov, Czech Republic - A Bohemian Rhapsody

01 July 2020

Next stop on our river cruise itinerary was Linz, Austria. After breakfast, we departed on our Crystal motor coaches for a full day adventure to Ceský Krumlov, in the Czech Republic (passports required!) There was also an excursion to Salzburg, and if you wanted to stay closer to the ship, there was a Linz City Walk and Tramway Ride. You could also jump on a Crystal shuttle bus to Lentos, if you wanted to. I had read that Ceský Krumlov is one of the most beautiful historical towns of Europe, and our guided tour proved it was worth seeing. Enjoy amazing architecture, fascinating history, quaint shops and numerous tiny narrow, winding streets providing fairy-tale views and hidden gems at every corner. The old Town is interwoven with the Vltava River, making it even more picturesque. Ceský Krumlov is a city in the South Bohemia region of the Czech Republic. Tucked into a hairpin bend in the Vltava River, Ceský Krumlov was a safe, choice spot for Celtic, then German, then Slavic tribes to settle. In the 16th century — the town's Golden Age — Ceský Krumlov hosted artists, scientists, and alchemists from all over Europe. Lined with a mix of Renaissance and Baroque homes, this unspoilt medieval marvel with its UNESCO-listed Old Town is a maze of twisting alleys built around the extensive 13th century Cesky Krumlov Castle complex, which you can visit. You can enjoy panoramic views of the old town and the river from the top of its round belltower. The name of the castle Krumlov originated from Latin expression castrum Crumnau or ancient German Crumbenowe. It reflects the configuration of the landscape - krumben ouwe means the place on the rugged meadow. The Ceský Krumlov Castle was mentioned for the first time by an Austrian knight minnesinger Ulrich of Lichtenstein in his poem "Der Frauendienst" which dates back between the years 1240 and 1242. Ceský Krumlov Castle. has various tours of its own, one of which concentrates on the original Castle interiors from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The tour includes among others Saint George´s Castle Chapel, Eggengerg Hall with the golden carriage and Masquerade Hall. There is also a Castle Tower & Museum tour. The Tower is the symbol of the town of Ceský Krumlov, of its history and beauty Across the river from the Castle is the picturesque Old Town. The Gothic buildings curve with the winding cobblestone alleyways. At the heart of the Old Town is the main square, lined with a mix of Renaissance and Baroque homes of burghers (all built on 12th-century Gothic foundations). The narrow, twisting streets are lined with tall, imposing buildings, and at every corner or turn in our path, there was another lovely view. We went down to the Vltava River, where you can book a wooden rafting trip, if you’re feeling adventurous. In my photos, you will see examples of the work of Miroslav Páral, the ceramic artist and sculptor. The Vltava River not only provided a quiet place outside the main crowded streets, but you can also see the “Pointing fingers” and “Bench with Feet” installations. There is also an exhibition space on the way up to the Castle. The names on the cobblestones in my photos are of some of his students who attended his International School of Art. After our guided tour, we were able to have a wander around the charming old town ourselves, enjoying a lovely lunch watching the world go by and then coffee by the Vltava River. With Cesky Krumlov’s near proximity to Ceské Budejovice, the home of Budvar, a local beer is a good way to round off your visit. We returned to our ship in time for pre-dinner cocktails, while the ship’s crew prepared to sail to Passau, Germany, from where we were booked to visit Munich and the Oktoberfest, the world's largest Volksfes.

Hiking to Durnstein Castle Ruins & a Visit back in time

15 June 2020

Our ship departed Vienna at midnight and we cruised through the night on the Danube to arrive in beautiful Krems next morning. Krems is located about 70 kilometres west of Vienna, at the east end of the Wachau Valley which has a picturesque landscape formed by the Danube river. After breakfast, we set off on our chosen shore excursion, a hike to Durnstein Castle Ruins, where Richard the Lionheart was famously imprisoned. This excursion was chosen intentionally in an effort to burn off the calories of the excellent meals we were having on board our ship. The icon adjacent to the excursion description indicated strenuous activity, long distances, many steps and rough terrain…. pretty accurate! Other shore excursions on offer were a Durnstein walking tour & Monastery; the Schloss Gobelburg Winery & Tasting; or the Wachau Valley by Bike Excursion – 25 miles from Krems to Melk. Each one appealed to me. We all made sure to don our “Crystal Clear Listening Devices”, which allowed us to hear our guide, even while some distance away from them. So different from the days when you’d have to crowd around your guide trying to hear what they were saying. The city of Dürnstein and the ruins of Dürnstein Castle are connected by a wall. The castle was built between 1140-1145 by the family Kuenring and in 1645 it was demolished in a blast carried out by the Swedes under General Torstenson. The ruins of Dürnstein Castle became famous through the legend of Richard the Lionheart. Leopold V held the English King prisoner in the castle from 1192 – 1193. The ruins are located on one of the 14 legs of the Wachau World Heritage Trail. It took about 30 minutes to hike up from the centre of town (with plenty of photo opportunities), and as you can see from the images, the Danube river views are amazing, enhanced by the natural beauty of the ancient vineyards, quaint villages and rolling hills. See my photos to see what I mean. After our descent, we were rewarded with an unexpected treat – a very generous lunch served outside in the sunshine, where we could enjoy wine from the Wachau and get to know our fellow passengers. We had time to enjoy the old town with its medieval charm and quaint buildings before heading back to our ship. Krems is a true gem, that punches well above its weight in terms of sight-seeing and attractions. It also has a history of fine wine production. Back on the ship, we were able to relax as we cruised gently through the most scenic stretch of the Wachau Valley – next stop Melk! Our next excursion later in the day, was to the Artstetten Castle for a visit with a member of the Hohenberg Family - in our case, Alix de la Poëze d'Harambure-Fraye. The Schloss Artstetten was the country home of the Arch-Duke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne. As the Castle’s web site says “Here we preserve the memory of the heir apparent Franz Ferdinand and his wife the Duchess Sophie von Hohenberg, who fell victims to a murderous attack in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. They both entered history as the first victims of World War I.” It was fascinating to walk around the Museum and pay a visit to the family Crypt. Then it was back to the ship for a glass of champagne and to get ready for dinner.

Vienna - the city of music ... and much, much more.

03 November 2019

Until recently, my own experience of Vienna had been limited to watching their concert on New Year’s Day on TV. Certainly, this city’s cultural heritage is mainly musical, the great composers like Strauss, Brahms, Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn, and Mozart all having lived and performed here. However, when I flew out to Vienna to join my river cruise ship, I discovered all the other aspects of the city, thanks to the excellent shore excursions available. Our shore excursion “Vienna City Tour: Austria’s Capital in a Nutshell” was great fun and we got to see the city key sights and learn more about its history. My first impression of Vienna? Loved it – so clean, so beautiful with a wealth of things to enjoy and do It’s a proud city of music, art, culture, great shopping and fine food – perfect as a city break, and most definitely a city to which I’m eager to return. For centuries, Austria's beautiful Baroque capital, Vienna, was the centre of the Hapsburg Empire. As well as all this history to dip into, you can also enjoy gourmet cuisine, pastry creations (including apple Strudel), wonderful coffee, romantic carriage rides, formal gardens… and of course, the Lipizzaner stallions at the world-famous Spanish Riding School. If you like to shop, Vienna has an abundance of shops and markets. Be sure to go to Kohlmarkt for top notch retail therapy. The area is home to traditional Viennese jewellers Wagner, Bucherer and Schullin, as well as international luxury brands. I popped into the H&M shop - beautiful building, and you must try the vintage lift! In winter, there are also the traditional Christmas markets and nativity plays – a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. Most of the city's tourist attractions are within the largely pedestrianised inner-city area, so easily accessible by foot. Further afield is the Prater amusement park with its huge Ferris wheel, and the magnificent Schonbrunn summer palace. The Wiener Prater public park is a great place for families to enjoy a day in the sunshine. You can also take trip to the Vienna Woods, with its wine taverns to enjoy. Don't forget to visit St. Stephen's Cathedral - the symbol of Vienna. Construction commenced in the 12th century and today, it is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. Why not book a visit to the Vienna State Opera? This famous stage offers a different program every day, with over 60 operas and ballet works on around 300 days per season. Just be aware their famous New Year concert requires advance booking of up to one year, so do contact me in good time if this is on your wish list. Our guide then left us with some free time to do some shopping or go to a traditional coffee house for really good coffee and a delicious pastry at a marble-topped table. I did both. Back on the ship (which was already beginning to seem like home: “the mother ship”), it was time for a champagne aperitif before lunch, followed by a snooze on the top deck. There are loungers and deck chairs, plus blankets, dotted around the deck – so it’s so easy just to relax in the sunshine or chat with your fellow guests nearby. There is also the pop-up bar on the top deck, which “pops down” when there are low bridges. However, today I opted for cosy takeaway coffee and cookies from the Crystal Bistro, to keep me going until dinner. Other shore excursions in Vienna included “Museum of Fine Arts & Art Chamber” and “Imperial Schonbrunn Palace”. If you want to see Vienna without a guide, the ship runs shuttles to the centre. For those looking to be active, there was the “Danube Island Bike Discovery” excursion. The ship has a stock of bikes on board for its various cycling excursions, so it’s all made easy for you. If you’d like to visit Vienna – either as a city break or as part of a cruise itinerary or specifically to visit the Christmas Markets – just give me a call on 020 3432 2510 for a chat. Once I know what would make your perfect stay, you can relax, while I do all the research for you, and then make all the arrangements.

Singapore - marvel of the modern world

12 June 2019

After a serene retreat in Ubud, Bali, followed by a full-on week at Club Med, Bali, I flew into Singapore for a few days on my way back to the UK. What an amazing place! It was the run up to the Formula 1 Grand Prix too, which made my stopover even more exciting. On the flight over, the Singapore Airlines safety video showed off iconic sights and sites of Singapore – really clever. Singapore is teeming with sightseeing opportunities and I was keen to explore. Singapore is an island off the southern tip of Malaysia, linked to it by a causeway. You’ll remember from your history lessons that Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed on Singapore's northern bank in 1819 and it was developed as a trading station, due to its ideal location. With a combination of British colonial rule, followed by economic prosperity as a Republic, it’s now a fascinating mix of shimmering skyscrapers towering above the financial districts and elegant colonial buildings. At the airport, I jumped into a taxi – the driver was so nice, that I immediately booked him for my return trip to the airport. I’ve kept his details for any of my clients going there – good contacts are so important in my profession. I’d booked a hotel that was close to the action – although it wasn’t 5*, I found that the staff, the breakfast and the roof top pool were excellent. The room was small but had everything I needed for a good sleep. What I liked about Singapore was being able to walk to so many places easily. Sadly, the elegant Raffles Hotel was closed for renovation, so I’ll have to visit next time. As well as the modern sights, the nearby ethnic enclaves of Little India, Chinatown and the Arab Quarter are good to visit to get an insight into traditions which have been maintained through the centuries. I spotted The Fullerton Hotel, once home to Singapore’s General Post Office and the prestigious Singapore Club, and now a stunning heritage hotel. My walk also took me past The Merlion, which is the official mascot of Singapore, depicted as a mythical creature with a lion's head and the body of a fish. There are 3 Merlions around Singapore – I’ve yet to see the other two. You can’t miss Marina Bay Sands Hotel, towering over the bay. Literally. When this integrated resort was built, it transformed Singapore’s skyline. The three hotel towers are topped by the 340m long SkyPark rooftop. The Sands SkyPark is also home to the world’s largest public cantilever housing a public observatory deck, lush gardens, exclusive restaurants and a stunning 150 m infinity-edged pool. Your itinerary should also include a visit to the Gardens by the Bay, the home of the incredible Supertrees and one of the most famous gardens in the world. Once you’ve seen these iconic trees, you’ll never forget them. (They are mechanical tree-like structures that contribute to the upkeep of the gardens themselves.) No doubt you’ll walk the Helix Bridge which links two parts of the Bay. It’s a work of art which comes alive at nighttime, and from where you can watch the light shows. The lotus-shaped building in my photos is the Art Science Museum, which I did not have time to visit. Something to try is the Singapore Flyer (not to be confused with the Singapore Sling). The Singapore Flyer is an enormous Ferris wheel which is 42 storeys, or 541 feet (165m) high, making it one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world, 98 feet (30m) taller than the London Eye. Talking of the Singapore Sling, you do need to watch the G5 Extreme Swing Singapore. Not for the faint-hearted! Crowds gather below in Clarke Quay to watch as people are catapulted across the skyline at speeds of over 120kph! Absolutely breath-taking, not to say hilarious if you’re a spectator. I’ve got a brilliant video of it, which I’ll try and load to my Facebook page… If you’re staying for a few days, enjoy a picnic in the Singapore Botanical Gardens with its peace and quiet, or take the kids to the Singapore Zoological Gardens, take time to explore tropical rainforest within the city at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, or chill out on the beaches of the resort island of Sentosa. In the evenings, there’s a variety of bars, karaoke bars, clubs, discos and lounges to enjoy, or why not go on a night-time safari at the Zoo? It was just so enjoyable to stroll around the city at night, catching the sunset before returning to the hotel. As for cuisine, food in Singapore is all about fusion. There’s lots of different types of cuisine in places like Clarke Quay. Then you have Hawker centres, which are the cheapest places to eat, and come with their own unique atmosphere, which is somewhere between a market and a food court. It's a great way to try a lot of dishes, for a reasonable price. After a busy day, it was great to go back to my hotel to relax in their rooftop pool while looking out over Singapore’s awe-inspiring city skyline. Time flew by and on my last day, I went for a walk around Clarke Quay, then enjoyed lunch with the sound of the Formula 1 cars roaring away in the background. Returning to my hotel, I was given a free pass to the rooftop pool, so I was able to relax there until my friendly transfer arrived to take me to the airport for my flight back to the UK. If Singapore is on your bucket list, just give me a call on 020 3432 2510 or email for a chat about what you want to see and do & the best time to visit, and then I can get to work, researching your stay there.

Fun for everyone at Club Med, Nusa Dua

11 June 2019

As sorry as I was to leave the lovely, serene retreat in Ubud, I was looking forward to my stay at Club Med Nusa Dua, with golf, tennis and other sports on the agenda. Club Med is a great place for families, couples and groups, with a kid’s club for ages 4 months -17 years old, and activities on land and water to keep everyone happy. There’s 500 metres of beach to enjoy with the Java Sea beyond, as well as 4 swimming pools. In fact, one of my colleagues never saw her young daughter other than at night-time! She was just too busy with new friends. For couples, you can relax around the Zen pool (adult only), while you’re gently rocked by the spacious swing sunbeds. Staff come around with cold drinks, sorbets and fruit, so you don’t even have to leave your sunbed. Being on all-inclusive board means you don’t have to think twice if you want another G&T or the kids want ice-creams. ACCOMMODATION There are 3 room categories – Superior, Deluxe and Suites. The Suites have a separate kids’ room and for larger families and groups, there are inter-connecting rooms for all room categories, which is handy. Club Med had kindly upgraded me to a Deluxe room, which has a lounge area as well as a terrace where you can sit out and enjoy the sun and palm trees. I found the back door of my room opened out onto the golf putting green. Now that’s what I call convenient. After unpacking, I went to the golf club house to find out about the golf lessons and activities. I joined in the group lessons every day, and the coaching was excellent. There is a 9-hole green which is quite challenging, so I enjoyed some rounds on there with fellow golfers. There’s a competition at the end of the week too, just to test how well your golf has improved. I concentrated mainly on golf and relaxation, but there’s tennis courts with coaching, archery, trapeze and also the water sports among the wide range of included activities. You can enjoy a guided Pilates or yoga session too. FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD Having arrived too late for lunch at the main restaurant, I went past the adult-only Zen Pool and onto the Deck Restaurant nearby, which served late breakfast, lunch and dinner. A great idea, whatever your activity timetable. You never went hungry or had to rush to the Agung buffet restaurant before it closed. I enjoyed many lunches at the Deck Restaurant, eating al fresco in lovely surroundings, cooled by the island breeze. At night, the Deck Restaurant turned into an a la carte restaurant, so you could enjoy waiter-service. I’ve always enjoyed the food at Club Med in the past – relaxing breakfasts and long lunches - and when I went to the Agung Buffet restaurant here, I was just as impressed. There was cuisine from all around the world – speciality corners with cuisine from Japan, China, America, Italy, and so the list went on. For families, there’s a handy Baby Corner to prepare special meals. What was also great fun were the pop-up buffets which appeared from time to time near the main bar, providing great snacks to enjoy. ENTERTAINMENT Most nights, I gravitated the stylish Kintamani bar for an aperitif or post-dinner cocktail with new friends. The General Manager and staff led the entertainment there for a great inclusive party atmosphere. I think there were only a few people from Britain at the resort, so during golf and other group activities, I met with people from Canada, France, Australia and Japan, all adding to the fun. Or for a quieter ambience, you can go to the Deck bar for a drink on your way to dinner. The lively evening entertainment includes shows put on in the theatre by the staff, which were great fun as well as activities such as a golf competition around the main pool. (I am now the proud owner of a medal, for managing to hit a tennis ball with a golf club, over the pool into an upturned umbrella). While I was there, I ventured out to Seminyak to meet up with family from Australia, who happened to be in Bali at the same time. That was a great way to celebrate my birthday. The week was a perfect mix of activity, socialising and relaxation and it came to an end so soon. However, my holiday was not yet over. My next stop was a stopover in Singapore! If Bali is on your wish list, just give me a call on 020 3432 2510 or email and we can have a chat about what would make your perfect Bali holiday before I get to work on it for you.

Dominican Republic: Blue skies, beautiful beaches & the beat of the bachata

08 June 2019

I love the Caribbean – however, I’d never visited the Dominican Republic, so jumped at the chance of a week there, to find out more about it. Discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus after a two-month voyage (I stand to be corrected on that!), today Dominican Republic is just eight hours from most European cities. SETTING OFF IN STYLE I’ve got used to kicking off my holidays in the most relaxing way possible, so – after my private transfer car dropped me off at Gatwick - I checked in and made my way to the Lounge. Access to this conveniently gave me fast-track through security – all very calm and civilised. I do like the Clubroom at Gatwick, and it’s nice to enjoy a little Champagne, while reading the papers and enjoying a bacon sandwich. As the Clubroom website says "Clubrooms provides the ultimate jet set departure with its hosted table service, hot seasonal dishes freshly prepared in the kitchen, and a wide range of wines, beers and spirits. It’s a tranquil retreat with a personal service to match." I flew out with British Airways, going out Premium Economy to Punta Cana, and in Club Class on my return journey. There was a good range of TV and films to help the 8-hour flight pass by quickly. HELLO DOMINICAN REPUBLIC! WHAT DO YOU OFFER? PICTURE-PERFECT WHITE SAND BEACHES For many, the main reason to visit this destination are its beaches. The beaches are amazing – think white, soft sand between your toes as you walk along the wide stretches of beach, dotted with palm trees. The clear waters of the Caribbean which lap the sand are also beautiful – lovely blue and turquoise colours. All bathed in sunshine too. Most resorts cater to a particular niche market: families, honeymooners, adult-only, golfers or the spring-break (aka lively) crowd. So, you need to pick your hotel carefully. The East Coast boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic. If you’re intent on chilling out on a beach and doing not much more than relaxing in the sun, large, all-inclusive resorts ensure that all holiday details are taken care of. Punta Cana has beaches and balnearios which face both the Caribbean and Atlantic, and it has been a popular tourist destination since the 1970s. The 62-mile (100km) stretch of coast where the Caribbean meets the Atlantic offers pearly-white sand sprinkled with thousands of coconut trees. The resorts are like mini self-contained cities offering different dining and nightlife options, a variety of water sports, and good facilities for deep-sea fishing and golf. Bavaro is situated on the famous Costa del Coco (Coconut Coast) and known for its six miles (10km) of pristine, sandy white beaches and shimmering crystal waters. There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts for full-on fun, along the coastline. Or maybe you prefer something more exclusive or boutique to truly escape, while still being near nightlife and restaurants. La Romana is one of the most visited regions of the country. A visit here makes Isla Saona and Catalina Island accessible. Isla Saona, the larger of the two, is part of the Parque Nacional del Este, with mangrove forests, white-sand beaches and turtle sanctuaries. Catalina island is an occasional destination for cruise ships on Caribbean routes. GOLF DESTINATION Thanks to its idyllic weather, it is possible to play golf almost all year, with the tropical breeze providing the occasional challenge! If you’re looking to improve your handicap, enjoy the challenge of courses that have been designed by professional golfers, all with the sun on your back. There are some luxury golf resorts which might be just want you want. At the Casa de Campo, the main attraction must be the resort’s five golf courses. Travelling golfers from around the world flock to Casa de Campo to tee off on the famous Teeth of the Dog. Designed by golf supremo Pete Dye, this super-scenic championship-standard course is sure to inspire a great game whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro. Plus test your swing at a range of other courses including The Links, Dye Fore Lagos, Dye Fore Chavon and Dye Fore Marina. PREFER TO BE MORE ADVENTUROUS? Although stretches of pristine tropical beach have been bought and developed into all-inclusive resorts, the Dominican Republic has lots to offer beyond its glorious beaches and all-inclusive resorts. Why not explore off the beaten track to discover unspoilt tropical paradise in the Dominican Republic, with its waterfalls, mountains, mangrove lagoons, fishing villages and colonial towns. Take a trip to the Reserva Ecologica Ojos Indigenas (Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve). This forest reserve has twelve freshwater lagoons, five of which visitors can swim in. Or enjoy a self-guided hike. Discover the East National park (Parque Nacional del Este) located to the southeast of Dominican Republic which constitutes one of the most beautiful parts of the country. The park houses more than 500 species of flowers and 300 of birds, with large areas on the beaches where it is possible to dive on the coral reefs full of manatees, dolphins and other numerous sea creatures. Santo Domingo, officially Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. It has buildings that date to the 1500s – that’s older than Havana. Take a walk around its colonial neighbourhood, declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1990, and explore its architecture or take a ride in the picturesque Chu Chu Colonial, the little train that offers guided tours. RETURNING HOME IN STYLE All too soon, I was drinking my last Pina Colada and packing to return home. Again, a private transfer to Punta Cana airport made things very comfortable for me. Going through Security was a bit harder – long queues in the heat. British Airways currently don’t have a Lounge at the airport - however, a new VIP lounge has opened, and it accepts various cards. Soon I was getting into my BA Club seat, and settling down for a lovely dinner, film and then a good sleep in the flat bed. It was even sunny when we landed at Gatwick. However, not quite the sunshine of the Caribbean. I’ll be back there soon. If you’d like to know more about this destination, just call me on 020 3432 2510 for a friendly chat. Or send an email to me at

Bali, a Serene Paradise

26 November 2018

Thanks to a travel agent ‘fam’ trip some years ago, I had already experienced Bali – the “Island of the Gods”. This time, I arranged a 2-centre break, with 3 distinct holiday experiences – serene Bali, then active Bali, and finally a city break in Singapore. My Journey Begins Ever since I had to spend a miserable 30 minutes in the rain waiting for an airport minibus to collect me and take me to the off-site carpark, I’ve booked all the little extras to make the start and end of my holidays as relaxing as possible. A private car took me to London Heathrow, where the check-in process and fast track security were all very relaxed and friendly experiences. Then an hour or so in an airport lounge, with coffee, breakfast and the papers made a welcome escape from the bustle of the airport. As I was celebrating my birthday, I treated myself to an upgrade on the plane, which was well worth it – particularly, when champagne, birthday cake and a birthday card were delivered to my seat by the airline team. Hello Bali When I arrived in Bali, I was able to experience first-hand being met by our dedicated Destination Management Company team (aka local ground handlers). Not only was there my driver but also another member of staff to accompany me on my way to the resort. It made such a difference being met with a friendly smile when far away from home. The team also provided bottles of water, maps and a thought-provoking booklet entitled “Tips for Responsible Travel”. I’d chosen to stay in a resort near Ubud, which (according to our in-house review system) was an ideal haven in which to relax and recharge. The resort is set in a dramatic, eight-hectare private tropical rainforest estate, near the Ayung River. The lush rainforest, the super-friendly, dignified staff and the calm, serene atmosphere were ideal. The warm welcome included a refreshing drink and a sweet treat. Accommodation includes a range of suites, villas with private pools and superior and deluxe rooms. I was given an upgrade to a Deluxe Sita Wing Room, which was extremely comfortable and had a great view of the rain forest from its balcony. Nice touches were very good with coffee/tea making facilities and a complimentary mini bar/fridge (soft drinks only). Just lying around the pool, reading a book and spotting a monkey or two playing in the rainforest was a great way to chill out. Choosing breakfast from the wide variety on the a la carte menu at the Wijaya Kusuma Restaurant was a real treat – with the added bonus of the most amazing view. Dinner (and my birthday cake) was also excellent. I didn’t have time to enjoy the daily afternoon tea. However, the resort treated me to a complimentary Balinese massage, which was brilliant with the backdrop of the sounds of the river and the rainforest. Onsite Yoga was done in an amphitheatre – so I hear! After my efforts when I was in St Lucia, I gave it a miss this time. There is an opportunity to explore, as the hotel offers a shuttle service to and from Ubud every day. My evening trip into Ubud with its busy streets lined with art galleries, bars and restaurants, was a highlight, offering a complete contrast from the resort. The resort also offered village treks where a small group of guests were guided through the nearby village, a community organised around temples and courtyards, with daily rituals, banjar (community association) and reverential offerings in evidence everywhere. Followed by a trek across rice fields and the local countryside, it was absolutely fascinating. The only problem was the usual one – I didn’t want to leave! There are so many excursions to enjoy including white-water rafting, cookery classes and visits to cultural sites. It’s easy to put together a 3-day, 5 day or week-long itinerary. If Bali is on your wish list, just give me a call on 020 3432 2510 and I’ll help you make your wish come true. However, my next stop was to Nusa Dua for a week long, activity-packed break. See my next journal for more details (and more birthday cake!)

Celebrity Cruises : Equinox Launch

31 January 2018

Ships in the Celebrity Solstice Class promise an extraordinary experience. I found this to be so true. Recently I had the privilege of sailing on the new Celebrity Equinox, the latest addition to Solstice class, and it offers everything you'd expect from ships of this size - but delivered with a touch of class that sets it apart from the rest. The highly personalized service, exceptional dining and extraordinary attention to detail must be experienced to be believed. Although a big ship it has been cleverly designed to give not only a feeling of spaciousness but also a level of intimacy that can sometimes only be found on a smaller ship. I joined the Equinox at Southampton, which will be its departure point from the UK. Seeing this beautiful ship suddenly come into view was so exciting. What stood out for me about this ship? The Lawn Club which includes half-acre of real grass, the host of dining venues, the varied entertainment including spectacular shows, AquaClass, the spa-inspired staterooms with unlimited access to the Spa areas and the healthy eating restaurant Blu, and that extra touch of class and level of detail. Meeting up with colleagues at the Martini Bar & Crush where the bar itself was made of ice, was such a great way to start the evening. You can also sample a global wine tour in the Cellar Masters. We did try out the Casino, and the staff there were great fun and very, very patient! Cabins have been finished to a high standard and are a good size, with more storage available than on a lot of other ships, including the bathrooms which again have been well designed. Concierge Class has, as it suggests, a concierge service with priority check-in, butler service, champagne in the cabin on arrival and other special extras which you would expect from a more expensive grade. Whichever cabin you pick or whatever grade, they are all beautiful, as are the specialty restaurants: The Murano (French), The Silk Harvest (Far East Fusion), The Tuscan (Italian), The Bistro (Crepes) and Blu (Healthy eating). The main restaurant is the Silhouette which is situated on three floors. Children are well-catered for with their own clubs and area on the ship and are well looked after at all times. From the moment we embarked, when we were given a glass of chilled champagne to the time we disembarked, nothing was too much trouble. We've all heard of the phrase "plain sailing" - well, this was "fabulous sailing"! Our trip onboard Celebrity Equinox involved sailing from Southampton on a 10-night “Best of Europe” itinerary to Rome, calling on ports in France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well Gibraltar, UK. The ship then sails a series of 13 and 14-night “Ancient Empires” cruises, featuring two new ports of call: Haifa and Ashdod, Israel. If the above has whet your appetite, please call me now on 020 3432 2510 for a chat and I can arrange everything for you.

Club Med Kamarina : Authentic Sicilian charm for the whole family.

31 January 2018

The main appeal of Club Med is the great mix of sporting activities, good food, childcare and an opportunity to relax. It's a perfect family destination which includes great club facilities for children specifically devised for the different age groups and run by professionals. Flying out from Gatwick was very relaxing, with civilised flight times. We took advantage of the Meet and Greet car service offered via Travel Counsellors, and I have to say, it was the most efficient, prompt Meet and Greet service we've experienced. Our flight was enjoyable with nice friendly staff and a good meal. Their sticky toffee pudding on the return flight was the second best I've ever had. From the moment we were greeted with a drink and a warm welcome from the Chief of Village and team in Kamarina on our arrival, to the time we departed, we had a great time. Most guests on our coach were staying in bungalows in the village, which is designed to be like a typical Sicilian "Villaggio" - a very pretty labyrinth of narrow streets and paved squares, with flowers everywhere - as you can see from the photo. After collecting our keys, we were driven a little away from the centre of the resort to the Kamarina Hotel. Our Club Room with sea view was very comfortable, quiet and relaxing. We were hungry and, as dinner was not until 7pm, we went down to the beach in the Villaggio area where the sailing activities take place and had a really nice snack of pizza and panini at the Beach Bar. We joined a tour of the resort before dinner that evening and were shown the five restaurants, shops, swimming pools and the main bar in the centre of the village, together with the theatre, spa area and circus school. The hotel has its own pool and a very nice rooftop garden bar, which was a great place to start and end the evening - including the occasional vicious game of cards! We joined the tennis sessions each day, run by Max and Mika. These were great fun, with all the guests encouraging each other in the team games. We also had some private lessons with Mika - he worked us very hard and we could definitely see an improvement by the end of the week. We also tried archery, kayaking, petanque and crazy golf. We would have liked to participate in the sailing lessons - however, we could not fit these into our schedule. What was nice was that each activity arranged a special evening where you could meet up with other guests for cocktails. Our favourite place for lunch each day was the Il Cavallo Marino restaurant - only open in certain months. There was an extensive cold and hot buffet and we usually spent two hours having a lazy lunch here, overlooking the Mediterranean. In the evenings, we chose either the Il Trinacria in the hotel or Il Vulcano - it really depended on what kind of themed meals were on offer. At all these meals, we could just help ourselves to red, white or rose wine. We usually had breakfast in the terrace area of Il Trinacria under the blue sky. If you're staying in the village, Les Dunes restaurant would probably be your choice, with an Italian trattoria-style atmosphere. If you have a young family, there is baby zone in the resort's main restaurant, with baby foods and all the equipment necessary for preparing your baby's meals. The second beach is near the hotel - a nice stretch of fine sand, equipped with deckchairs, parasols and showers. We whiled away a few hours here towards the end of the week, relaxing and reading with the occasional swim to cool down. We enjoyed the international mix of guests and staff, and we could either join a larger table - particularly at lunchtimes to chat to other guests - or else have a more intimate dinner for just the two of us. Although a large site with many guests, it never felt crowded. If you'd like to find out more about Club Med holidays for you and your family, please contact me on 020 3432 2510 for a chat, and then I can research and arrange it all for you.

Jamaica packs a punch

27 June 2017

Being a Caribbean specialist, I jumped at the chance to visit two more resorts in chilled, laidback Jamaica – the home of Bob Marley, Usain Bolt and where Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond novels. I’m also a Sandals & Beaches specialist, and this was the perfect opportunity to experience these resorts for myself. I’m pleased to say my expectations were exceeded. Having once waited for a coach for 40+ minutes at Luton to take me back to my car in an off-site car park, now I always book the extras that make my holiday even better. So my journey to the airport started with a private limo service, which dropped me off outside the Terminal door. Once through check-in and security, my next stop was the airport lounge. Quite a few of my colleagues were off to Jamaica too, so it was a perfect way to meet and catch up, away from the airport hubbub. Our first resort was Sandals Negril Beach Resort and Spa, located along the island's legendary Seven-Mile Beach on the North West coast. I arrived late in the evening and I went down for dinner, feeling rather weary. The waiters and waitresses were absolutely fantastic – fun, professional and friendly, and it was a real boost after a long day travelling. A quick recce after dinner brought me to The White Party, complete with chocolate buffet and the entertainment team members wearing glitter and angel wings. Maybe this was heaven after all. Next morning, I looked out at the view from my room – in the dark of the evening before, I had thought my room was overlooking a small road, but my room was actually right on the beach front. In fact, I’d been allocated a Paradise Honeymoon Beachfront Grande Luxe Club Level Room, complete with champagne in the fridge, and wines and spirits also to enjoy – and all kept topped up during my stay. There’s “all-inclusive” and there’s “high-end all-inclusive” and this was definitely high-end all-inclusive. Another bonus of my accommodation was that I could enjoy Club Level Concierge service and exclusive entry to Club Sandals. There’s a whole range of restaurants to try out which was great fun. I did have a few favourites – however, the level of service and quality of food was very high in each one. You could go to an a la carte restaurant like Barefoot for an evening under the stars or book to enjoy the fun and fire at Kimonos, or opt for something more casual. Every time, the staff were excellent and they really were a highlight of my stay – there’s nothing like a fist bump and a “Respec” in place of a handshake to make you feel like one of the locals. It was great to start my day with a long, relaxing breakfast looking over the ocean, and enjoying the watersports taking place. The resort has a daily newspaper listing Dining Guide, Entertainment Schedule, Fitness Schedule and Deals & Steals, so it’s easy to pick out what you want to do during the day, bag a bargain at the Spa and decide where you are going to dine in the evening. There are several pools to enjoy and you can always find a quiet spot, if you don’t want to get involved in the fun around the pool. Generally, after a long day on the fantastic beach, spent sunbathing, snorkelling, reading or going out on the glass-bottom boat to see the starfish, I’d retreat to one of the bars for a signature Jamaican drink and watching the sun catch fire before heading off to get changed for dinner. The sunsets at Negril are listed in the Top 100 Reasons to visit Jamaica, and they are truly spectacular. It was not all relaxation of course – the Resorts Sales Manager gave me a tour of the higher accommodation categories - stunning. The resort is a lovely place to get married, and several weddings took place during my stay, ranging from an intimate party to larger gatherings. With the all-inclusive amenities and activities of Sandals Resorts, including gourmet dining, and stylish suites, it’s a stress-free place to have your wedding – and there’s even special offers for a free “Beautiful Beginnings wedding” if you stay a certain number of nights. I met many couples who were celebrating their honeymoon there too – a great choice, given Sandals was voted "Top All–Inclusive Resorts for Honeymoons" by Brides magazine. If you want to go outside the resort, there are some unique excursions and scenic drives I’d recommend. However, all too soon, it was time to set off for the next resort - Sandals South Coast. I was intrigued to see how this would differ from the vibrant Negril. Sandals South Coast resort is set on a 2-mile stretch of Jamaica's south coast's white-sand beach and it features three distinctive European Villages: French, Dutch & Italian. My room was in the Italian village - this time I was allocated an Italian Beachfront Club Level Junior Suite, where once again a dedicated concierge was available to handle any special requests and reservations. Check-in takes place in the Club Lounge while sipping a glass of champagne, which is a very civilised way to start your holiday. As always, there was a range of restaurants and bars to experience and the many fire pits were great places to chill out and chat to your fellow guests. I spent most of my time during the day at the pool of the Dutch village as it was smaller and quiet. However, if you like fun and activities, just head to one of the other pools where they have well-organised entertainment, such as couples scavenger hunt and pool volleyball. There was a range of watersports here too – scuba diving and courses, snorkelling, glass bottom boat trips, sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing and paddle board. Again I had a tour of the accommodation which gave me an excellent insight as to what’s available in each category. What I noticed about both Resorts was that on the site maps, they look quite spread-out but in fact, they were both easy to get around. The quality of the all-inclusive food, drink and activities is uniformly high - and the staff excellent. Setting off back to the UK, another highlight was the lounge at Kingston airport. The staff are top notch and they worked tirelessly to ensure their guests could relax (and the Jamaican patties were on endless supply). If you’re thinking of going to Jamaica or anywhere else in the Caribbean, I have lots of hints, tips and contacts to help you make the most of your holiday, so do call me on 020 3432 2510 to have a chat about your plans.

St Lucia : Rejuvenate your body and soul (and have fun doing it)

08 December 2016

The small paradise that is the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean certainly packs a punch – and I’m not just meaning the rum punches. If you’re looking for a romantic escape in a secluded, upmarket adults-only resort, or a family holiday on all-inclusive or a spa-sports break where you can easily mingle as a single, there’s something for everyone. This year it had got to October before I realised I’d not had a holiday for a year. And boy, did I need one! I love the Caribbean and as it’s an increasingly popular destination these days, I wanted to remind myself of why it was one of my favourites. I chose Saint Lucia, located in the Windward Islands towards the southern end of the Caribbean chain, with direct flights from the UK I picked out BodyHoliday Saint Lucia an all-inclusive luxury resort, which promises “Give us your body for a week and we'll give you back your mind at BodyHoliday”. I would have quite liked another body too – however, I have to say it was an amazing holiday for getting away from the stresses and strain of everyday life and feel relaxed and rejuvenated. It is perfect for singles, couples and families with older children. The happy mix of sports, daily spa treatments and great dining, all backed up by the famous Caribbean friendliness makes for a holiday which can be as busy or as relaxing as you want. And did I mention the scenery and the sunsets? ACCOMMODATION The resort is set on a secluded white sand beach, at the edge of the Caribbean Sea – an idyllic spot. I stayed in a luxury ocean-view room, with fantastic views from my balcony (see my photos). However, there are other room options I’d recommend depending on your requirements, to ensure you get the most value. I was quickly checked in, and immediately went for a swim in one of the three pools at the resort to relax. I noticed a number of humming birds among the flowers around the pool, and then I saw my first sunset of the holiday from the hot tub – what a great start! DINING There are a variety of restaurants and bars, offering an extensive choice of food and I was often spoilt for choice. Vegetarians are well catered for, so you won’t be fobbed off with the normal boring offerings. There’s an open air deli open on the beach for fresh juices, coffees, wraps and salads in between meal times. Staff visit you on the beach offering you drinks and nibbles, which is a really nice touch. I ate in all the restaurants, as well having English Afternoon Tea at The Pavilion. It’s quite an experience, enjoying finger sandwiches, cakes and scones whilst watching the most amazing sunsets. Guests on their own can get together with other singles for aperatives in the Piano Bar, and then join a large hosted table for dinner. It’s a great way to meet people, while also being able to do your own thing if you want to. Each day varied - and always fun. Sometimes I’d have a last swim, then a beer while enjoying the sunset and the sound of the waves, then go to get ready for dinner. Next would be an aperitif in the Piano Lounge, a lovely meal at the Tao restaurant, followed by drinks & dancing at the Club House. One night I tried the beach BBQ, another night we went out on the sunset cruise followed by a late Japanese-themed dinner in Windows. I always bumped into people I’d met during the day and join them for a catch-up, which was great fun. And when you get back to your room at night, there's always tea and biscuits waiting for you on your bed. Take it out onto the balcony, listen to the waves and relax. ACTIVITIES There are too many to mention – they’re all listed in a booklet at the resort, on the web site, and also on a chalkboard outside the club house, which someone writes out every day. The Wellness Centre has been voted one of the world’s best spas by Condé Nast Traveler. It’s a lovely serene place. What is fantastic is that you get a daily spa treatment as part of your all-inclusive package. I tried just about every treatment on the list, including my first facial and they were all of a great standard. There’s a whole array of non-motorised water sports, land sports and other activities to try. There’s beach fitness on the beach at 7am, organised walks, bike rides etc. as well as many gym activities. I joined in the golf and tennis lessons which were great fun and the tuition was excellent. I gave yoga and meditation a try. When the yoga teacher said to adopt your favourite pose (“asana”), and the guy in front of me stood on his head, I did think about edging towards the exit. However my favourite pose – lying flat out on my back aka “The Corpse” – is apparently valid too. I had a 1:1 session in the gym which I just about survived. Joking aside, the whole BodyHoliday experience made me think more about my health and my fitness levels, and I’m determined to go on my next holiday fitter than before. Guests are at all levels of fitness at the resort, so there’s no need to feel intimidated, and joining in is a great way to get to know your fellow guests, as well as find out if a specific activity is for you. Keri-anne Payne and David Carry, both Olympian swimmers, were there during my stay, offering SwimFit, a special 4-day programme for guests of any swimming ability who want to improve their technique, efficiency, and speed. It just shows you’re never too old to learn something new. WOULD I GO BACK? The big question always is “Would you go back?” Yes, in a heartbeat! I met many guests who were returning for the 4th, 10th time or more! The number of returning guests speaks volumes for the quality of the resort and what it offers. Sounds good? If the paradise that is St Lucia is on your list, please contact me on 020 3432 2510. I'm well placed to help you find the perfect holiday in the Caribbean. I’ve got lots of great contacts, as well as advice, hints and tips to ensure you get the most from your holiday.

First stop in paradise: Taj Exotica Resort & Spa

19 January 2016

The view from our plane as we flew into Male gave us a glimpse of the beautiful islands awaiting us. After a short speedboat transfer from Male airport, we were greeted at the jetty of the award-winning Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, and then taken to the serene Welcome-Pavilion for a refreshing drink, served by Raj, our very own butler! This set the tone for our stay – wherever we went, the staff greeted us by our names. The resort’s welcome card invites you to experience a life based on personalised attention, caring and providing comfort and Taj Exotica certainly delivers all of that. We were taken to our accommodation, which was a Deluxe Lagoon Villa with a private deck and freshwater plunge pool, with steps down into the lagoon and the endless turquoise water. Very nice! Taj Exotica is located on the exotic Emboodhu Finolhu Island, encircled by one of the largest lagoons of the Maldives. You could even lie in your bath enjoying the panoramic views of the Indian Ocean (luckily the window is one-way). Each of the 64 villas has an assigned butler to take care of you and they can arrange special romantic dinners, spa treatments or excursions for you. There’s a whole range of luxury accommodation to meet your needs. If you have young children, you may prefer a Beach Villa. The Deluxe Villa has an oversized plunge pool, a private veranda with sun beds and a tropical outdoor shower in a private walled garden. Or you might find the newly built Premium Beach Villas or the 2-bed Beach Villa Suites more suitable from a space point of view. Situated at the end of water villas is the fabulous Rehendi Presidential Suite, with a master bedroom, guest bedroom, an 18m fresh water pool with a private sundeck, two ‘salas’ for relaxing and dining; and a beautiful suspended deck filled with powder soft sand and a hammock suspended over the beautiful turquoise lagoon. Wow. We loved breakfast time – opting to sit in the sunshine usually, picking out lovely things to try from the a la carte menu. What a relaxing way to start the day, digging your toes into hot sand, in this beautiful place. We enjoyed the stunning infinity pool and beach, and felt very much cossetted with staff bringing fresh sorbet, fruit platters, cool towels and water. There were lots of nice touches like seats in unexpected places so you could just chill out and gaze out at the ocean. There was even a swing in the ocean, which we swam out to. (It’s funny how some people see a swing as a romantic thing, while other people just want to see how high they can get it to go.) The shallow sandy lagoon surrounding the resort is a paradise for water sports lovers; you can try scuba, snorkelling, jet skiing, parasailing and more. There’s plenty of small fish to see in the shallow waters if you are not a confident swimmer. The usual mode of transport seemed to be by buggy; however we liked to walk everywhere, not least to work off breakfast. It only takes 10 minutes to walk across the island. It was a great way to see the local birdlife, and spot swings or totem poles hidden amongst the foliage. In the early evenings, guests would gather to watch the feathered tail ray and the Black tip reef sharks (see the photos) being fed, as well as the other marine life. We’ve noticed there is always an egret or two on each island we visited, and they are very territorial. Returning to our villa one night, we were really excited to find an egret on our private deck. We’re not sure if he’d adopted us or vice versa. One of the highlights of our stay was the fantastic beach barbecue, where we ate outside under the moonlight, with a great band playing. If you’re not sure you like lobster and other seafood, it’s a really good way to try small quantities of new things. Another highlight was the Equator bar – the music was very “chilled” and the staff top notch. It was great to start each evening there, hearing the waves and watching the sunset. I had a bad cold, so one evening, they brought me a huge glass of hot toddy. For once, having “man-flu” was taken seriously! For our last night, we made a reservation at the Teppanyaki - Japanese Live Kitchen, which was great fun – a real spectacle. I would hate to think how many fingers I would lose in the kitchen, if I attempted to slice seafood in mid-air like the young chef did. Both restaurants are in spectacular locations at opposite ends of the island and the food exceeded our expectations. For honeymoons and special occasions, your butler will arrange private dining, and the “Beach at Dusk” dining experience looks wonderful or out on the Ocean Pavilion. The only thing we didn’t really want was the farewell cake which was iced to say “Sorry to see you leave” and delivered by our excellent waiter. First class service and attention to detail sum this resort up. When we left the island, we were presented with a lovely photo album and farewell card, and then waved off by our butler and reception staff. We felt like royalty! We were so pleased we were not going home to the cold weather, but onto our next island…and this would be our first time in a sea-plane. Please contact me on 020 3432 2510 if the paradise that is The Maldives is on your list! I’ve got lots of great contacts, as well as hints and tips. Speak soon!

The Maldives: paradise? I should Cocoa!

09 November 2015

Our seaplane flew us all the way from the Thaa Atoll where we’d been staying up to South Male Atoll, and the seclusion of Cocoa Island by COMO. A private island with just 33 overwater suites, the lagoon and the white sandy beaches are just stunning. We were welcomed with the traditional coconut drink, before being taken to our new home for the next few days. All the accommodation is over water, and we were staying in a Loft Suite, with the bedroom on the mezzanine level. The design is inspired by the local fishing Dhoni boats, very quirky and individual – see the photos. No need for a plunge pool on our deck – we just slipped into the shallow warm water of the lagoon and swam out. Again, we had a tour of the other larger accommodation, including Loft Villas and 1-bedroom Villas plus the amazing Como Villas, which have a bedroom in each of the 2 wings, so plenty of space and privacy. You also get butler service! The island’s restaurant and bar by the infinity pool have a very relaxed feel. Breakfast was the usual array of tempting items, and we alternated between the healthy COMO Shambhala Cuisine and waffles! The cooking of our evening meals was just excellent – I have fond memories of the Wagyu beef sirloin - and at lunch time, the staff brought us the very tasty COMO pizzas while we were sunning ourselves on the beach. You can sunbathe on the beach near the infinity pool, or walk around to the beach on the other side of the island, nearer the Spa. It takes just 5 minutes. The views everywhere are amazing and it reminded me very much of Bora Bora. There is a sandbank where the staff will arrange a private, romantic dinner or a sunrise champagne breakfast. Some lovely touches can be found on the island, such as a hammock secreted among the trees, where you can chill out with a book. In the evenings, we loved to drink our cocktails on the loungers, while watching the sunsets and the crabs scuttling to the sea – although sometimes they did seem to get confused, and scuttled towards us! I recommend the complimentary guided snorkelling trip at the House Reef. However, by snorkelling from our room or the beach, we saw lots and lots of sea life in very tranquil conditions, which was just fantastic. And by venturing as far as the drop off, you can enjoy the coral garden teeming with colourful fish. Even walking back from dinner, we could see small manta rays swimming in the lagoon, while a baby reef shark accompanied us as we went along the wooden walkways to breakfast. In our room we had a pamphlet showing the various fish, so we could pick out which we’d seen each day. The Maldives are one of the most coral reef dependent countries in the world, and the resort has a coral nursery, and also participates in a project where you can contribute to the regeneration of the reef by sponsoring a frame of coral. A great idea for a present! The Spa offers lots of lovely treatments and on our last day, we took advantage of an offer on the deep tissue massage, which was the best ever experienced. All too soon it was time to leave, taking with us a farewell gift as a reminder of a wonderful stay. Waved off by our room boy, our early morning speedboat took us to Male Airport and home – with a lot of lovely memories. If the paradise that is The Maldives is on your list, please contact me on 020 3432 2510 I’ve got lots of great contacts, as well as advice, hints & tips. Having visited 3 very different resorts on this trip, I'm well placed to help you find the perfect holiday.

Island Hopping around paradise: Maalifushi by COMO, The Maldives

03 November 2015

I had been invited to the luxury COMO Resort in Phuket earlier this year (see my write-up), & my stay led to an invitation to visit their two resorts in the Maldives. Lucky me! It was so good to return to the Maldives. What a beautiful part of the world - truly a paradise. We flew by seaplane to the first island, from Male all the way to the Thaa Atoll in the archipelago’s southwest. The view was just fabulous – one lovely island after another came into view, set like jewels in the stunning colours of the Indian Ocean. We landed and saw a nearby island where the beach seemed very crowded. We felt a pang of disappointment and then…. our boat whisked us off to the beautiful private island resort of Maalifushi by COMO where we were met at the jetty by Andrew Drummond & his team. Maalifushi is the first luxury resort to open in the Thaa Atoll and the first boutique hotel in the Maldives by Japanese architect Koichiro Ikebuchi - it has a lovely, refined understated elegance about it. No wonder it’s won so many awards. We LOVED our overwater villa – spacious, private, well-laid out, with a good-sized plunge pool. We could just walk down from our private terrace into the ocean. And after a long hard day of sun-bathing, snorkelling, eating & relaxing, it was great to come back to find the turn-down service had been done, and chill-out music put on for us. So you can bet we loved checking out the larger suites and villas. There are garden and beachfront suites and villas, as well as overwater. With their private pools and entertainment facilities, these are perfect for spending quality time with your family. You can also treat yourself to a Butlered Villa or Residence and leave everything to your butler to organise. The relaxed serene feel of the resort soon soothed away the stresses of hectic city life. We really enjoyed roaming around the resort on bikes. Mind you, I’m not sure everyone had read the “keep left” sign! We’d go for a dip in our pool or drop by the well-equipped gym or yoga class. Then cycle to Madi for breakfast, which was a delight, with everything looking so fresh and tempting. Each day you get an events sheet, so you can treat yourself to a turtle expedition snorkel or a sunset cruise, or just do your own thing. Local fishermen supply Maalifushi and the meals were delicious, with theme nights on some evenings. You can also have a romantic meal on the beach or in your villa. The pool area was a great place for a read after breakfast before going snorkelling or a walk around the island. We saw many types of sea life just from the walkways. The complimentary guided snorkelling trip - conducted by the resident marine biologist – is well worth doing. There were also divers staying at the resort, enjoying the teeming marine life. We enjoyed dropping into the Sunset bar at Tai on the way back to our villa. The sunsets were just stunning. Our farewell meal at Tai was also a top notch experience. As for connectivity, this was important for me as I was obviously keeping an eye on my travel business and happily there is complimentary Wi-Fi everywhere. Our stay was over far too soon. We were whisked off by boat to the seaplane, while the resort staff waved goodbye from the jetty until we were out of sight. Just one of the very many personal touches we experienced during our stay. However, we were not going home - we were flying off to our next adventure: Cocoa Island by COMO and wondering how it would compare. You can find out in my next journal…. Please contact me on 020 3432 2510 if the paradise that is The Maldives is on your list! I’ve got lots of great contacts, as well as hints & tips.

Thailand – but not as you know it

01 July 2015

If Thailand is on your wish-list – or if you think you’ve “done” Thailand – read on. Invited onto a very special educational trip to Phuket, I was privileged to visit a stunning area on the lesser known, less built-up side of the island. It’s a region of outstanding beauty, with the UNESCO site of Phang Nga Bay right on the doorstep. We stayed at a new luxury resort, Point Yamu by Como, set high on a peninsula, with non-stop views of the Andaman Sea. When I saw the beautiful bay suite which was to be my temporary home - overlooking both Phang Nga and Yamu Bay - I knew we were in a very special place. It was during our extensive site tour with James, the General Manager, that everything began to unfold about the resort of Point Yamu. It’s a super stylish resort with a very relaxed atmosphere. The thinking behind the hotel design by Paola Navone, was explained to us in great detail (and with much passion). I began to notice the meticulous attention to detail, the signature clean lines, the elegance, the tranquillity and more. Everything is really quite understated with lots of clever details (ask me about the goldfish). Just leaning on the far edge of the magnificent infinity pool, and taking in an almost 360-degree panoramic view was so calming and good for the soul. It was also a great place for sunset cocktails. There’s a whole range of luxurious accommodation options – from guest rooms and suites with or without pools, to private pool villas with 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms, ideal if travelling with family. The excellent “Play by Como” Kids Club gives parents some free time. The resort offers some of the best dining in Phuket with a choice of Italian, Thai or healthy cuisine designed to maximise energy and wellbeing. I had an anti-aging smoothie each day - bit late I know, but no harm trying. I loved having breakfast on the terrace with sweeping views over the bay - what a way to start your day. We had our farewell dinner in the exquisite private dining room - a dream spot for special occasions. Our cookery lesson with Chef Siam – starting with an early visit to the market & then eating the lunch we’d cooked was a highlight, as was a brilliant massage in the hotel's COMO Shambhala Retreat - one of the top spas in the world. Cycling through the plantations, beach & fishing villages and seeing the local families in their day-to-day life was especially enjoyable, and the hotel will send a mini-bus if the last hill is a bit too much! Another great day was setting off from the beautiful Marina Pier to cruise on a luxury yacht to the stunning beaches and dramatic islands, past James Bond Island. We had the most delicious lunch on board & then swam from the beach of a deserted island – a real treat. We also took a look at our hotel's new private beach club due to open later this year on Naka Yai Island. However, the hotel staff can make or break a good experience, and I found the team exceptional - so welcoming and professional, everything done well and with a smile. I set off to Phuket feeling very stressed due to an agonising back problem, and I came back rejuvenated! Relaxing in the spacious Etihad lounge at Heathrow was great. Its fantastic facilities, including the Six Senses Spa, were a real VIP start to the trip, away from the hustle and bustle of the airport. Flying back from a wonderful holiday experience is never great. However, if it’s in Business Class on the A380 aircraft - the pride of Etihad’s fleet – it is a treat. The cabin layout gave a feeling of personal space and makes for a very relaxed environment. It’s often tempting to save on the airfare, and put the money towards accommodation. However, by treating yourself to an upgrade on the flight, the whole experience adds significantly to the enjoyment of your holiday. On our last evening in Phuket, we released “khom loy”, or paper balloons into the sky, writing our wishes on them first. Mine was – of course – to come back soon to Point Yamu, however with my girlfriend next time. Having said this, I am taking her to two fabulous resorts in the Maldives, both by Como, later this year. Is Thailand on your wish list? If this luxury resort in a stunning, less developed area of Thailand appeals to you, please do contact me on 020 3432 2510 for a chat about your holiday plans. I’d love you to have a wonderful time, just like I did. I’ve got some great contacts too.

A city break in Granada - a brilliant weekend

27 May 2015

What I love about city breaks is that you can leave a rainy UK and only hours later, you can be sitting having a drink in the sunshine, and enjoying the culture and people of another city. Recently we flew out to Malaga and then went onto Granada and had a fabulous weekend there seeing the sights of this beautiful city. We did the usual meet & greet for the car at Gatwick which is such a stress-free way to start your holiday – no waiting around or lifting your cases in and out of packed shuttle buses. At Malaga, I’d arranged a private transfer and soon we were being checked in by the friendly staff at our hotel. We went out to a nearby restaurant, to sample the wine and tapas, before a restful night in our lovely room. After a good breakfast, we walked to the coach station in minutes, and got our very comfy coach to Granada. Luckily I’d booked our seats in advance as the coach was full. It was a great way to see some of the countryside that we’d otherwise miss, including line after line of olive trees stretching as far as the eye can see. On our way to our hotel situated in a lovely wide avenue near the Genil river, we saw decorated floats parading the streets – by chance, we’d chosen a weekend when a festival was being celebrated. Later we saw a procession of horses ridden by locals; the ladies wearing flamenco dress and the men wearing cordobés hats and pinstripe trousers – an unexpected pleasure to witness. I’d pre-booked our tickets for the Alhambra Palace where we spent the afternoon. It is certainly not to be missed – beautiful buildings, fascinating history and wonderful views of Granada and the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We had lunch at the Parador which was a highlight, with the courtyard providing a quiet oasis. In the evening, we went out to enjoy the buzz of the bars and restaurants. Next day we went straight out to get the City tour bus, a great way to discover the highlights of the city & get your bearings, so that you can make the most of your weekend stay. Having said this, Granada is very walkable too. The cathedral was very near our hotel, although the 16th-century Capilla Real adjacent is far more impressive. We picked out a lovely place to stop for a long, lazy lunch – high up in El Albayzín. It was so enjoyable sampling gazpacho and gambas a la plancha, with a nice Rioja, whilst sitting out in the Plaza in the beautiful sunshine. We jumped back on the tour bus down through the warren of white houses and then wandered through the narrow streets & alleys, to recce a nice restaurant for dinner. We picked a great place where, after our meal, we could linger over a digestivo (on the house) and watch the world go by. Next day, we set off back home - it seemed like days since we left the UK, and such a great way to spend the weekend. We’ll go again so we can do some of the hikes in the hills & mountains of Granada, which can be quite strenuous but have amazing views - and also combine our visit with another city. If you would have been meaning to get away on a city break, do contact me for a chat on 020 3432 2510 and I’ll arrange a great break for you too.

Kalkan…a Turkish delight

25 October 2014

Perhaps it was eating breakfast while enjoying a fabulous view. Or taking the plunge before breakfast in our own plunge pool. Or maybe it was the sunny skies and the beautiful clear water. Or the lovely people and plethora of bars and restaurants on our doorstep for us to try each evening. More likely it was the combination of all these things that made our stay in Kalkan such a relaxing holiday. Kalkan has been on our wish list for a few years, and after a few diversions such as winning a stay at a beautiful hotel in Cyprus, enjoying black tie elegance on the Queen Mary 2 and making a splash on a sailing holiday on a Greek island, we finally made it! We stayed in a boutique hotel within walking distance of the centre of picturesque Kalkan, with all its shops, bars and restaurants jostling side by side. GETTING INTO THE HOLIDAY MOOD FAST To ensure a nice relaxing start to our holiday, we stayed at an airport hotel the night before, and also booked ‘meet & greet’ for the car. After a lovely meal, we went to bed, to find it one of the most comfortable beds ever. We had an early start to catch our flight – however, we awoke completely refreshed. We flew from Gatwick and found check-in and security was surprisingly stress-free. I'd also booked us into the airport lounge, and it was great to relax there, having breakfast and reading the papers before our flight was called. Leaving the wet weather behind, we arrived at Dalaman airport to lovely sunshine. Our private transfer whisked us off to our hotel, where we were warmly welcomed. KALKAN...BY DAY This holiday was for pure relaxation and sunshine, so we did not want to have a busy schedule. We’d picked out a few things we wanted to do and booked them in advance – otherwise, we just took each day as it came – perfect. We enjoyed having our own plunge pool, with its lovely view. It was great way to start the day with a brisk dip before breakfast. Breakfast was all the better for having more wonderful views from the restaurant. Then we relaxed by the pool, with the occasional dip in one of the hotel’s two pools. Kalkan has a number of beach clubs; there was one within walking distance of our hotel, which we visited one day, and other beach clubs are reached by water taxi from the harbour. They are set into the bottom of the mountain side, and you can sunbathe, swim and enjoy a meal there. Some offer watersports as well. If you prefer beaches, there are a number to choose from. Kalkan's small white pebble beach is very popular and in the evening you can watch the boats returning to the harbour. The others are Patara beach (with its turtle breeding ground) and Kaputas beach, each offering different experiences and facilities. We had lunch several times at the hotel which was very enjoyable and enabled us to retreat to our sunbeds and books afterwards for more relaxation and sunshine. To ring the changes, walk down the winding cobbled streets to one of the harbour restaurants – you can enjoy a drink on one of the big sofas first and then have lunch by the water. Keep an eye out for turtles! One excursion we’d pre-booked was a day cruise on a gulet (a traditional Turkish wooden sailing boat). It was great fun, with spectacular views, lovely people, plenty of room (just 5 couples on board), and a very nice lunch. Our captain moored the boat off various islands, and left us to enjoy the crystal clear waters to cool down. There were steps down from the boat for those not keen on diving off and some flotation devices if needed. We heard good feedback about a few more excursions which we’ll try next time. I also went off for a Turkish shave – highly recommended, even if I did look like Steptoe for a few days beforehand. On Thursdays, there is a market to visit, with local farmers selling fruit, vegetables, cheeses and honey. KALKAN...BY NIGHT As we walked down from the hotel to the centre each evening, it was wonderful to see all the lights of Kalkan. We never got over how pretty it was. After the first evening, we learned about a short cut which meant we could avoid going down one rather vertiginous road… and even more importantly, avoid returning up it. Before we left the UK, I had arranged dinner reservations in 4 restaurants with great reviews, to ensure we did not miss out. For the other nights, we just ate wherever took our fancy. The many restaurants range from fine dining and traditional dining to pizzas and meatballs, from locations tucked away in back streets or by the harbour, to on the rooftops or on a terrace, and we had a great time every evening. It was fun to go for a pre-dinner drink at one of the bars lining the streets, providing a great vantage point to people-watch. It’s often not known that Turkey is a wine producing country. Having said that, we tended to drink the house red and there was only one restaurant where we didn't like it. For the rest of the time, it was absolutely fine. I enjoyed the local beer too. Of the 4 restaurants I’d pre-booked, one gave us fine rooftop dining & the most fun service, another gave us fine dining in a waterfront location and the remaining ones gave us fine dining and fine service. We always ended up chatting to the diners next to us, swopping feedback on hotels, restaurants and excursions. The shops are open until very late, and it was good to be able to browse the shops after dinner – you can buy just about everything – from real Turkish delight to high-end leather goods. Some jewellery shops were advertising "real fakes", so at least you knew what the deal was! We found a nice bar with live music on the way back to the hotel, which provided a relaxing end to the evening. Like we do wherever we go, we tried out every day phrases in the local language. We probably sounded like Officer Crabtree from “‘Allo ‘Allo” to the locals – “God moaning” - however, the locals did seem to appreciate our efforts. Many people we talked to had visited Kalkan before, and I can fully understand why they return time and time again. There’s a great buzz to the place, it’s classy, welcoming and set in stunning scenery. I’m sure we’ll be back. I’ve got lots of hints, tips and excellent contacts, so if you’re thinking you’d like to visit Kalkan, please do call me on 020 3432 2510.

Barcelona - brilliant for a city break

22 July 2013

What comes to mind when you think of Barcelona? For me I always think of Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé singing ‘Barcelona’. The song is exciting and slightly over the top – which sums up this amazing city perfectly! With this in mind I was very excited about our trip to Barcelona. We flew out early on a Thursday morning, and returned on a Sunday evening. The flight was on time and only few hours later, we were sitting at a pavement cafe in the sunshine, unleashing our rusty Spanish on the unsuspecting staff. It was the perfect start to a fantastic long weekend. Our hotel was lovely and the staff were friendly and helpful. There was a sun terrace on the roof and all in all it was very modern. The location was very handy - a short distance from the main tourist area, while still within easy reach of some lovely cafes and restaurants. The city is built on a grid system so it is very easy to find your way around. It’s a modern city, with many items having a QR code to link to a web site for more information. We bought tickets for the Barcelona Bus Turistic which is an excellent way of seeing the key sights. There are 3 routes to go on - red, blue and green - which take you all around the city. You can jump on and off as you wish. Gaudi's Pedrera and La Sagrada Familia are amazing – completely mad but fantastic - and not to be missed. We also went into the cathedral which was beautiful. We took the Teleferic de Montjuic up to Parc de Montjuic with its panoramic views of the city and the La Sagrada Familia rising out of it. When on the red route, we spotted Cafe Alaska in the lovely area of Gracia and jumped off the bus to go there for a spot of lunch. It was the perfect spot for people watching – we loved it. The beaches looked great, however we’ll have to save them for the next visit. We also didn’t get a chance to visit Camp Nou, the Science Museum or Sitges which I’ve heard are all great. We fell in love with the culture and atmosphere of Barcelona. We loved the way people socialised at the cafes, meeting up with friends and family at all times of the day. There was a real buzz and sense of community and fun. A real find one evening for dinner was the Cheri Restaurant - lovely staff, lovely food. However you must go and look inside too – fabulous. It reminded us of an apothecary. Soon it was time to head back to the airport but not before we'd squeezed in another morning of sight-seeing. We had such a good time that - even though it was a short break - we felt revitalised. If you want a quick break away, call me now as I’ve lots of ideas, hints and tips.

Mauritius - even better the second time around

28 May 2012

Because our Gold Travel Counsellors Conference was being held in Mauritius, I took the opportunity to stay a few extra days at Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort, in Bel Ombre. This is a beautiful, colonial hotel with ocean frontage and an 18-hole championship golf course. Despite the similarity in our names, one of the key reasons for staying there was that I had some clients staying there later in the year, so I wanted to meet the hotel staff and get to know the resort more, so I could pass on any recommendations. Ingrid, from Guest Relations at Le Telfair, set the tone for my entire stay: very friendly and professional, and nothing was too much trouble for her. She’d even made a dinner reservation for our first night. Indeed all the staff were friendly, helpful and professional – a winning combination. The Resort was inspired by Charles Telfair, a famous naturalist who lived in the 19th century in the Bel Ombre Sugar Estate. Built on the site of a former sugar estate, the Resort has a colonial feel, with beautiful, well-maintained buildings and grounds. See my photo of the view from Reception – superb. We loved having lunch on the beach at Le Palmier pool & beach bar – just a few steps between the main pool and the beach – blissful. We also liked a drink there at the bar in the early evening, watching the sun go down. There are two swimming pools in this area, both in lovely settings. The beautiful Cavendish Bar and Lounge with its attentive and friendly staff was the place for our pre-dinner cocktails and after dinner coffee. There is live music there in the evening – all very chilled and relaxing. I loved the room where you could play snooker at the back of the Cavendish – see photos. Annabella’s – named after Charles Telfair’s wife - was where we had breakfast each day and dinner at Gin’ja featuring Pan-Asian cuisine was a real treat, with its views of the ocean and river. Le Telfair is a great place to learn water sports in the lagoon – every day we saw water-skiing, kayaks, kite surfing, and windsurfing and more. Just across a bridge from our room was the C Beach Club which has two restaurants, bar, another swimming pool and a kids and teens area. It’s right on the beach front, next to the hotel. Le Telfair is also a great place to play golf - the spectacular 18-hole championship golf course (PAR 72) has won many awards. It combines exceptional panoramas into its challenging design to create a truly memorable golfing experience. The Resort was voted "Best Golf Resort” in Mauritius for the second consecutive year at the World Travel Awards 2011. You can also get active in the well-equipped gym and tennis courts. There is a magnificent 600sq metre pool available for swimmers. However, the resort is also a lovely place in which to relax – and for additional relaxation, you can book treatments at the Seven Colours Spa Millesime Collection. The only negative is that my visit was so short. I would have loved to have hiked around the nearby Frédérica Nature Reserve, the natural habitat of many plants, indigenous birds and animals unique to Mauritius. On my return, I stayed at the Hilton Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel and it was a great way to ease back into normal life – quiet room, friendly staff and a brilliant breakfast. Tempted by Mauritius? I'm already planning my next trip there! Please call me for more information and details of offers.

Classy Anassa

19 September 2011

Anassa is a five star luxury holiday destination, with a great sense of space, peace and natural beauty. The resort is a serene collection of well-maintained houses and villas, arranged like a traditional Cypriot village and facing the Mediterranean. Anassa is a hotel famous for its cuisine and service, and it certainly lived up to expectations on my visit. On arrival, we were greeted by Stathis Mavrommatis, the General Manager. In fact, Mr Mavrommatis really set the tone for our stay. He was visible, but never intrusive, and at various times during our stay, came across to check how things were. He made it clear that the success of the hotel was very much a team effort, and it was obvious that the staff were very professional, motivated and enjoyed their roles. Angela, one of the effective and friendly reception staff, accompanied us to our villa and provided an introduction to the hotel, including its award winning spa and range of dining experiences, which allow you to have a different and exceptional meal each night. Our suite was very spacious, with a panoramic sea view over Chrysochou Bay, the Polis coastline and the hills of the Akamas Peninsula. It was well looked after by housekeeping. You can choose from rooms and suites located in the main building or in villas set in the hotel’s grounds. Interconnecting options are available and WiFi is complimentary. Our first evening started with a champagne cocktail reception on the fabulous Sunset Terrace, hosted by the Anassa Management. We had reserved a table at the Village Square, for a traditional Cypriot buffet and music, which was a great start to our holiday. The hotel’s beautiful Byzantine chapel “Ayia Athanasia” is in the square, perfect for weddings. Our days tended to start with a swim in the indoor pool and a visit to the gym. Then followed a leisurely outdoor breakfast in the Amphora restaurant, where the attentive staff made it a daily event to be enjoyed, with a fantastic view of the Mediterranean Sea and the Akamas Peninsular. For my birthday and our last meal there, we booked into the Helios restaurant. Flawless service from the staff and a wonderful menu made these particularly special evenings. One evening, we ordered room service, which included candles for a romantic meal on our balcony. Just sitting there overlooking the Mediterranean, hearing nothing but the crickets, and seeing the sunset on one side and the moon rise on the other, was just magical. The beach was very well managed by the staff, and has excellent water-sports facilities. Swimming in the sea here was the best I’ve experienced - a beautiful bay setting, clear water and warm. There are also 3 swimming pools, including a lovely infinity pool. There was always plenty of sun beds and a real sense of space. The Thalassa Spa includes a sky-lit, columned indoor pool, 18 treatment rooms, saunas, steam baths, a seawater exercise pool, squash court, fitness room and hair salon. We did not try the treatments – however, other guests all said they were extremely good. As usual, for maximum convenience and relaxation, we booked the Sofitel hotel at Gatwick to kick off and end our holiday, together with Meet and Greet for the car in the UK, and private transfers in Cyprus. Next time, we’ll also book the lounge at Paphos airport. If you are looking for a holiday of calm luxury, lovely scenery and award-winning spa treatments, please contact me for more details.

Beautiful Bermuda...within your reach

20 May 2011

If you’re looking for a holiday with lovely pink beaches, spectacular azure waters, and the possibility of chilling out or getting as active as you want – Bermuda might be your answer. Located in the Atlantic Ocean, the flight to Bermuda is less than 7 hours from London, so you arrive feeling relatively fresh and ready to start your holiday. Bermuda has been described as the Switzerland of the Atlantic because it is a first world country, with all of the attributes of a tropical Island. It’s only 21 miles long, so it’s easy to get around and a fabulous beach or view is never far. ACCOMMODATION AND CUISINE This year I was in Bermuda as a guest of the Bermuda Tourist Board, staying at the Cambridge Beaches Resort & Spa. It’s a classy, peaceful resort, on a private peninsula featuring cottage-style rooms and suites. I stayed in the Emmet suite – very spacious and well appointed, with large bedroom, bathroom, and separate lounge area. The resort’s reception area in the historic main house is decorated along colonial lines and has lovely lounges in which you can relax. The Port O’Call bar is in the same building, and complimentary afternoon tea is served there each day – sandwiches, biscuits and scones & cream. A lovely treat to enjoy on the terrace. Going for dinner in the Tamarisk Restaurant with its friendly professional staff and amazing menu, made each evening special. An extensive breakfast was also served in the Tamarisk restaurant. We relaxed over good coffee and the British newsletter, while looking out over Morning Beach, one of the four private beaches. Bliss... THINGS TO DO On our way to Breezes, the beach bar and restaurant overlooking Long Bay Beach, we came across the Labyrinth, a lightly landscaped area, providing a home for wildlife. During our walks there, we came across the Koi carp, a turtle sunning himself, and birds such as Longtails and the yellow-breasted kiskadee. We also made good use of the tennis courts, putting green, croquet and table tennis. The hotel has an acclaimed European wellness centre, the Ocean Spa. In addition, we enjoyed sun-bathing on the terrace, with its infinity pool and impeccable service from the staff in the nearby Shutters bar & restaurant. Another nice touch is the complimentary mini-bus from the hotel to the Naval Dockyard, where you can wander around the shops or go and see the dolphins. We did both, and then hopped over to the capital Hamilton by ferry, for lunch and then back to the hotel by bus – in itself an adventure. For walkers, cyclists and birdwatchers, a visit to the Bermuda Railway Trails is highly recommended. The hotel can also arrange marine rentals. HOW TO SUM UP MY VISIT TO BERMUDA AND CAMBRIDGE BEACHES? Best holiday ever. Cambridge Beaches is a wonderful location. The beautiful, clean beaches; the pink cottages and historic main house filled with Bermudian and English antiques; and the friendly, attentive staff, all create a stress-free oasis for a perfect vacation. Bermuda is beautiful and the people very friendly. I have visited Bermuda before, so I have insight to other hotels as well. Please contact me for details of the latest hot offers. PS. OPTIONAL EXTRAS TO ENHANCE YOUR HOLIDAY EXPERIENCE - Meet and Greet: We were met at the airport, and the car taken away. The car was there waiting for us on our return to the UK. So there’s no standing around waiting for buses or struggling onto them with your luggage. - Airport Hotel: We booked the Sofitel for the night before our flight and on our return to the UK early in the morning. It was a great way to start and end the holiday. - Airport Lounge: A little oasis away from the hubbub of the airport, with newspapers, drinks and snacks. A new lounge has just opened up in North Terminal, so we’re looking forward to trying that one next time.

Delicious Mauritius

29 January 2016

I was invited to spend a week at the Maradiva Villas Resort & Spa in Mauritius, as a guest of Francis Longueve, General Manager and it was a fabulous way to spend my birthday. BA had an offer available, so we booked Club World Class for our night flight out and World Traveller Plus for our return. We’d booked Meteor Meet and Greet for our car and as usual, this worked like clockwork. After a priority check-in, we relaxed in the BA lounge with newspapers and good food and drink. The Club Class beds meant we arrived remarkably fresh and alert after a 12 hour flight. After a private car transfer, we were warmly welcomed at Maradiva and taken to our villa. In our beach villa, there was a large, private outdoor lounge area with dining table, sofas, coffee table, minibar, CD player and BOSE iPod dock, mirror and a plunge pool with a large day bed. At night, the outdoor area was illuminated, and is a lovely place to sit with a glass of wine and gaze at the stars. Inside, there is a large bedroom, walk-in dressing area, indoor and outdoor showers and bath. Because of the turndown service, the villa was effectively cleaned and tidied twice each day. (The TV showed Premier League football games, as an added bonus). The villa was located close to the beach, but also felt completely private. We had breakfast in the main restaurant Coast2Coast on the terrace. Everything was beautifully cooked and presented and it was a lovely relaxing start to the day. My girlfriend got used to me going off to get fruit juice and then being escorted back to my seat by a waiter carrying the juice on a tray – you were literally not meant to lift a finger. You can also enjoy breakfast at your villa. Bar and food service at pool area and beach was fantastic - we never had to wait more than a few minutes. The Maradiva team was excellent, providing complimentary iced water, cold face towels, fruit and sorbets on the beach. Pre-dinner cocktails in the Breakers bar were a highlight, as again the staff was very professional and engaging, and nothing was too much trouble for them. At dinner, we were always made to feel special - even on the night we opted out of the haute cuisine and asked for a ham and mushroom pizza. Walking back to the villa along the illuminated walkways was so romantic. The private beach is a long stretch of sand with plenty of trees, so you can have your sun bed in the shade or under the sun. The beach was not crowded. I spent my birthday gazing across the lagoon and listening to the waves. Perfect! There are huge double sunbeds around the fabulous heated infinity pool, providing a great place to chill out, view the lagoon and watch the sunsets. We walked along the beach to Flic en Flac – a walk of about 45 – 60 minutes, passing by other private beaches and also the public beaches. A great way to work on the tan and get some exercise. The Maradiva Spa has wonderful treatments. You can also use the spa’s heated pool, steam and sauna rooms free of charge. It’s a beautiful place in which to relax. At the Sports Centre, we used the tennis court, both gyms and took out the bikes. All of this was complimentary. The boathouse has complimentary activities such as snorkelling and glass-bottom boat rides. The boathouse staff also had good knowledge of other water activities. Day trips recommended to us by other guests are: the Rum factory/Colonial house, the Catamaran trip and Walking with Lions. We met couples who had got married at Maradiva or were spending their honeymoon there and it was obvious that Maradiva was a magical place for them, with champagne breakfasts, spa treatments for two, candlelight dinners on the beach, rose petal baths, and other details making the difference. We also met up with a couple who were there for their anniversary and who were enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the resort, combined with shopping expeditions outside. I am a qualified Mauritius specialist, so if Mauritius is on your list to visit or you dream of having your wedding and honeymoon there, please contact me now on 020 3432 2510 and I'll research & arrange everything for you..

Cyprus - the year round island

25 October 2009

Cypriot hospitality is legendary, and you’ll be given the warmest of welcomes in Cyprus. As we flew out to Cyprus for our second visit to the 5 star Le Meridien Limassol Spa and Resort, we were resigned to the fact that our holiday could not possibly measure up to our previous stay there two years ago. How wrong we were. We flew out on a night flight and had booked the airport lounge for a nice relaxing start to our holiday. After a pain-free check-in and a good flight there, we arrived at the hotel at 5.30am, to be welcomed by Dimitri at reception, who remembered us from our previous visit. Now that's customer service! We were delighted to find our room was exactly the same as our last visit, overlooking the waterfall and one of the swimming pools, with lovely views of the Mediterranean from our balcony. After a short nap and refresh in the power shower, we went to sun ourselves, and then had lunch at the superb La Promenade Terrace (see the photos) overlooking the sea, where we were greeted by our lovely waitress, who also remembered us from our last visit. On this visit, we made even more use of the hotel's facilities. We dined out at the Le Vieux Village (the staff made it such a wonderful experience) and the Trattoria. At these restaurants, we could eat authentic Greek and Italian cuisine in the open-air next to the sea. One night, we ordered room service and ate on our balcony, when we were running out of time to cram all our activities into one day. We went to the gym when the heat got a bit too much, and also enjoyed the jacuzzi and indoor swimming pool. The health and fitness club also has a sauna, whirlpool and steam bath, as well as aerobic and yoga classes. We also played tennis and ten pin bowling. This was at Leisure Land, specially designed for teenagers and adults with four tennis courts, basketball and volleyball courts, football pitch, mini golf, pool tables, table tennis, archery, badminton, table football, air hockey, bicycles for adults and kids, as well as the unique four-lane Atlantis Bowling Centre and Fever Disco. The hotel had a wide range of activities taking place during the day, including family football and golf. We didn't use the supervised "Penguin Village" which is free for children ages 3 to 12 years or the crèche for 1 month to 3 year olds. However, they're a real asset for parents wanting some "me time" occasionally. Most nights we dropped in at the open air Theatro Entertainment Piazza and thoroughly enjoyed the shows, which included Grease and Mamma Mia. The children loved these shows and sat in a row at the front, barely able to stop dancing in their seats. We had breakfast each day in Le Fleuri restaurant. This poolside restaurant and terrace serves the Le Méridien buffet breakfast which is really good. The opening times for breakfast are very generous, so you can usually fit in a class at the gym or swimming, before or after breakfast. On the relaxation side, there was plenty of space, and some days we sunned ourselves by one of the pools, on other days we went on the lawn, nearer the sea where there was a lovely cool breeze. At 6.30pm we'd generally treat ourselves to an aperitif, before getting ready for the evening. This time, we did not book spa treatments. However, on our last visit, we'd enjoyed the indoor/outdoor thalassotherapy spa - the only one of its kind in Europe. It features four outdoor and three indoor seawater pools, each with a different salinity content and temperature along with a hammam and two saunas. As we flew home, we realised that our second stay at Le Meridien Limassol Spa and Resort was even better than the first visit. The staff are professional and friendly, the room was perfect and the space and freedom to relax, eat and try out different activities was wonderful. Whether you prefer to experience the lap of luxury at a five-star hotel right on the beach with every amenity, including health centre and spa, or if you choose a hotel apartment or villa with pool for independent flexibility, or even a quiet hideaway in the hills in a simple family-run establishment for a back-to-nature experience, you will find what you want on the island. Contact me now to find out more.

Malta and Gozo

18 October 2009

With 7,000 years of history, the Maltese Islands are steeped in culture and heritage. The Maltese archipelago (Malta, Gozo and Comino) lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, with Malta 93km south of Sicily and 288km north of Africa. With superbly sunny weather, expansive beaches, a thriving night-life and 7,000 years of intriguing history, there is a great deal to see and do. The official languages are Maltese and English and driving is on the left - so there it feels like a home from home. We were flying out to stay for a week at the Intercontinental in Malta. We took a late evening flight from London and it was very relaxing. No crowds at check-in and we'd also booked the Airport Lounge so we were able to relax with papers and drinks until our departure time. For this trip, we decide to sign up for 3 trips - ideal if you are visiting for the first time or short on time. The first trip was to the North West of Malta. The guide, Rosa was a mine of information and her talks were fascinating. At the same time, her commentary was not intrusive, so you had time for your own thoughts too. Mdina, otherwise known as the silent city, is the island's old capital and was built in the 9th century by the Arabs. This medieval city is a maze of narrow alleys and wonderful architecture. Our walking tour included all the main features and also a visit to St. Paul's Cathedral. Our second trip was to the nearby island of Gozo. One reason for visiting Gozo was that I had some clients visiting in the following weeks and I wanted to visit to their hotel and meet the manager in person to ensure the best attention for them during their stay. The other reason was that Gozo is beautiful! It is greener and slower-paced than Malta and a perfect place for a chill-out holiday. Our tour included visits to the Ggantija Temples, the Azzur Window and Victoria. Rosa was our guide again and we enjoyed another great tour. Our last trip was to the capital city of Valletta, to tour the harbour by boat. This was absolutely fascinating. In between our trips, we enjoyed the fabulous weather and sunbathed at the Hotel pool. The area was large enough so that it was always possible to find your own quiet area if that's what you wanted. We found a couple of great restaurants within easy walking distance, where we could sit on a terrace and overlook the Mediterranean. Often, we would call in at the Hilton Hotel for an aperitif in the Harbour View terrace bar, overlooking the marina. A very civilised way to start the evening. Please contact me for more details.

Historic Paris

11 September 2008

There is never a bad time to visit Paris. It's the home of gastronomic cuisine, designer shopping and wonderful architecture, and on a city break to Paris you can experience it all. It had been some while since I'd been there, so I treated my girlfriend to a long weekend there to celebrate Valentine's day. Travelling Eurostar, Leisure Select (first class) is travelling the way it should be. This is a very affordable and relaxing way to start your break. We planned to try out Europe’s longest champagne bar at the new St Pancras International station. We were then shown to our seats on the train, and offered some more champagne! Our dinner was served at our table and then we read and chatted until we got to Paris Gare de Nord. Because St Pancras International is served by a new high speed rail line, our journey was shortened by 20 minutes. We hopped onto the Metro and then emerged from the underground to see the iconic Arc de Triomphe in front of us. What an amazing sight. Now we knew we were in Paris and wondered why we had taken so long to go back. We stayed at the Royal Monceau hotel, just near the Arc de Triomphe. The hotel is very classy, with friendly, helpful staff. We had made a reservation that evening to eat at Chez Paul, a bistro near La Bastille. It looked quite a distance on the map, however, by using the metro, it took hardly any time to get there. The cuisine there is very French, as is the menu. However, the waitress helped us with our choices, when our 'O' level French let us down. We went back to the Royal Monceau hotel for a nightcap in the bar, and got the RBS 6 Nations France-England rugby scores direct from James Haskell's mother, who was sat nearby with friends. (OK, so our visit was not quite Valentine's weekend - due to work - but close!) Next day we had breakfast in the sunshine, before joining an open top bus tour around Paris. Really great views for photographs and the best way to get to the "must-see" sights of the city in 1 or 2 days. We could get on and off at any stop and there was a commentary provided through head-phones. Next followed a nice, leisurely lunch. As we were in no hurry, we sat and people-watched. In the evening, we went up to Sacré Coeur in the Montmartre district by the metro - we'd bought a 'carnet' of metro tickets, which was very convenient - and after climbing up the steep steps (there is also a funicular) to the top of the Butte de Montmartre (the Hill of Martyrs), we sat in the beautiful Basilica where a mass was taking place. We then went out to enjoy the spectacular views across Paris from the Hill. Later, dinner was a menu a prix fixe - not quite the Chez Paul experience, but still great fun. On our last day, we had breakfast in the lovely tented breakfast room at the hotel. We then walked down to the Eiffel Tower, to take a few more photographs. We had time for lunch, before making our way back to Gare du Nord, and the return journey on Eurostar - again with champagne and dinner. Back home by 8pm. What a great 3 days! The Royal Monceau hotel is currently under full refurbishment and will reopen to join the Raffles portfolio as "Le Royal Monceau - A Raffles Hotel" in Autumn 2009. You might have seen recently in the news that Jude Law was there at its demolition party, as the hotel prepared for its £100 million makeover. Make sure you're one of the first to book there! However, there are also many other wonderful hotels for your trip to Paris if you can't wait that long. Contact me now for help with your travel plans.

Heavenly Maldives

10 September 2008

Seeing The Maldives for the first time from the airplane is something that I shall always remember. If you look at the photograph in this journal, you'll see the incredible colours of the reefs. No wonder the Maldives are popularly known as 'the pearls of the Indian Ocean'. They are located to the South West of Sri Lanka, on the equator. Out of the incredibly large number of islands only 200 islands are inhabited, with 44 islands adapted as exclusive resort islands. We were on our way to Laguna Beach Resort Maldives - a holiday I'd been awarded by my company. We'd flown out of Gatwick. The flight was slightly delayed - however, we'd booked the airport lounge, so were able to relax with drinks and canapes, until we were called for our flight. After landing in Male, the capital, we transferred to our island by speedboat. You'll see a photograph of the fabulous white sandy beach and blue water that greeted us as we approached the resort by boat. On landing, we were met with a refreshing fruit cocktail and a cool flannel - just what was needed after the journey from the rainy UK. We had a beachside deluxe bungalow, which was perfect for us - a four poster bed, nice seating area and a bathroom with a fantastic open air shower.. (There were Water Suites over the lagoon which we heard were amazing, where you can swim straight from your own private platform). In just a few steps, we could reach our own palm tree, complete with sun loungers and a view of the Indian Ocean. The beach is swept regularly, so each morning there is the lovely smooth sand to walk on. The Laguna Beach resort is the only resort on the island and it never felt crowded. Each day we would have a leisurely stroll around the island, taking about 25 minutes, looking out for the 2 baby basking sharks and the "bully boys", 3 fish which used to chase the others. The marine life is superb with a wide range of large fish swimming close to the shore. We would sunbathe, sleep, snorkel, stroll and eat! We would often end the day at the Sunset bar and watch the fish feeding frenzy. The weather got stormy one day and even then, it was an amazing sight to see the black towers of rain over Male. The water is crystal clear and perfect for snorkelling, with a reef you could walk out to at low tide. On this holiday, it was my girlfriend's first experience of snorkelling, and she had her mask fitted so tightly, she still had the marks adorning her face at dinner! There is also a very good dive centre and organised snorkelling trips. For a special evening, I booked dinner on the beach, which was a lovely experience. Very romantic in the moonlight, with other diners dotted around the beach - only just visible by the flickering candle-light on their tables. We also booked a massage together, which was quite an experience - especially the interesting apparel we were given to change into. Very relaxing though. On our last night we saw the most bewildering sight. Walking back from the cocktail bar, we saw a white albino rabbit hopping along the path. Luckily we both saw it, otherwise we would have blamed the cocktails! The houseboy told us there used to be 2 rabbits, and now there was just one rabbit. When leaving the island by boat, dolphins came and swam along side, which was a lovely farewell. When we arrived back in Gatwick, we stayed over in Sofitel, which meant the holiday could last just that bit longer. Although this resort is not 5 star, it's very reasonably priced and totally relaxing. We went barefoot for most of the time, and it felt very strange having to put shoes on again to rejoin the real world. The resort closed in May 2008 for refurbishment (re-opens 01 Jan 2009).If The Maldives appeal to you, please don't hesitate to contact me for details of resorts, best times to visit and more.

My customer stories

Sent by D. Clark

Brian gives a first rate, personal and thorough service, quick to answer any queries one might have and cheerful to boot. Excellent!

Sent by P. Major

Brian has always gone above and beyond to make sure our holidays are to our specifications. He’s always extremely helpful with any questions or queries we may have. I would recommend Brian to anyone, he is knowledgeable, very experienced and friendly and you will definitely receive a first class service.

Sent by L. Peck

Having used Travel Counsellors for my recent trip to the Maldives, I can't thank Brian Telfer enough ! Such a professional, personal and friendly service ! Highly recommend.

Sent by D. McLean

I don’t even know where to start with the praise to give our travel counsellor, Brian Telfer. We wanted our honeymoon to be something special and he has exceeded even those expectations. From a very vague beginning of ‘Italy’ as a destination, Brian patiently and gently teased out our thoughts and preferences and by getting to know us, he has curated the most fantastic trip for us from start to finish. From “little known boutique hotel” to the luxury car service from the airport, to restaurant reservations on the first night to settle us in, he has held our hand and taken care of us every step of the way. The service that Brian provides is beyond just travel agency. He is so passionate about his job and determined to get you the experience that you want at all times. I would describe him as a travel craftsman! It’s a bespoke service every step of the way.

Sent by A. Melvin

Always excellent service from Brian Telfer right from exploring options for your holiday as well as knowledge and availability of options available. The fantastic service does not stop at booking, as I've found with other travel companies, but even after the holiday. Brian managed to get my valuable sim card with holiday photos all the way back from Chile to home in the UK when I left it on a tour there.

Sent by P. Slevin

Reliable, solid, good value, professional, personable, knowledgeable, flexible........

Sent by A. Bussell

Very efficient, friendly service with a lot of thought and care taken. As usual.

Sent by A. Tudway

Brian’s service is outstanding. My wife and I wanted to plan a ‘big trip’ to South America after retiring. We were introduced to Brian by friends who swear by his service. We sent him an email setting out where we wanted to go and roughly when and sat back and waited. Within 24 hours Brian was in touch, he had fleshed out a basic itinerary but wanted to know our interests to suggest trips and visits. He then built it all into a really exciting multi site holiday, all booked within a week! I cannot speak highly enough of this service, you’ll wonder why you ever booked things yourself.

Sent by J Trigg

As usual, Brian's help and service was first class, nothing is too much trouble for him and he goes the extra mile to ensure that the holiday is exactly tailored to our needs. He has a very pleasant manner and I have no hesitation in recommending him to friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Sent by J. Winnington

It was easier and hassle free to deal with Brian at Travel Counsellors. Brian keeps updated time line and has a professional approach to our needs. We have had many successful holidays arranged by him.

Sent by P. Kilgour

Just back to normality after jetlag. We would like to say many thanks for your excellent arrangements for our holiday at Dubai and Australia. Booked three hotels, six flights and four private cars. Nice to take off the pressure of booking etc. We've been with you for ten years and you've never failed us. Also thank you ever so much for rearranging two days stop over at Sydney at the last minute. Thanks again.

Sent by J. Poluck

Brian always provides a first class service from the first phone call all the way through until the end of the trip. I have recommended his services in the past and will continue to do so

Sent by R. Pawson

Just wanted to say we had the most amazing holiday in South Africa. It truly was a holiday of a lifetime, so thank you so much for all your effort. You created the perfect honeymoon for us! Sensational!

Sent by G. Bloor

Brian has lots of patience, and can even recommend places that you hadn't thought about. All our holidays through him have been very successful, and that is why we carry on travelling through him.

Sent by P. Pugh

Dear Brian, Thank you so much for all the special touches which made this holiday even more memorable. All the hotels that we stayed in gave us a special welcome and we felt completely spoiled. We were the envy of our fellow travellers and have passed your details to several of them. We should be used by now to the extra care and attention that you always show , however this exceeded all our expectations. We have passed on your contact details to many friends and they have all had similar excellent service.

Sent by S. Lee

Brian has been most helpful in arranging our trip and has answered all our questions promptly and patiently. He is willing to listen to our needs and suggest alternatives where necessary. He is always available when contacted and nothing seems too much trouble.

Sent by J. Taylor

My wife and I along with the rest of my family have used Brian on a number occasions and he has never let us down. He is conscientious and thorough in his advice and I have no hesitation in recommending his services

Sent by H. Orme

We have entrusted our travel arrangements to Brian for at least twenty years -- which should say it all. He's great.

Sent by A. Booth

Brian has been absolutely wonderful in assisting me with my travel arrangements. He is a pleasure to deal with and is both knowledgeable and thorough with his research to make sure he arranges you the best holiday to meet your requirements. I would not hesitate to recommend him to my friends and colleagues. Thank you so much Brian!

Sent by M. Richards

Brian has always been fabulous and very patient with changing locations, times, dates, family members. All our holidays with him have been great - however this one was amazing.

Sent by G. Sharp

Hi Brian. Sorry not to have been in touch sooner. Feet have not touched the ground since we returned. Want to thank you for your amazing service Everything went so smoothly as promised. Hotel was perfect and a great find in high season at such short notice. Your own personal attention to detail and to us was faultless and way beyond what we could ever have expected. Thank you so much for looking after us so beautifully. 10 out of 10!

Sent by J. Fulford

Brian has always been a trusted friend who could be relied on to recommend holidays suited to us. It's good to be planning another break with him.

Sent by R. Sullivan

Very assiduous and thorough, went out of the way to be helpful, kept in touch and did more than I expected (ie booking aeroplane seats) which is very welcome to somebody not too happy with internet bookings.

Sent by N. Lutwyche

Brian is a very pleasant and efficient man to deal with and shared his experiences and knowledge of the destination we chose. Although we had a destination in mind we went with Brian's suggestion that we hadn't even seen before. It has all our requirements and more and we now can't wait to enjoy the experience. A very easy way to book a hassle free holiday.

Sent by D. McRae

Brian, as usual, gave us terrific service and help when making our recent booking. Of course we would recommend him to friends and family without any hesitation...which is why he has been booking our holidays for over 20 years!

Sent by D. Smith

Brian has always been helpful, efficient and knowledgeable. He never fails to rise to the challenge of what we want, and usually exceeds expectations. I have already recommended him to others and will do so again.

Sent by D. Ashbrook

Brian is brilliant! He looks after every aspect of our holiday and even phones us the night before we go. What service! I wouldn't hesitate recommending Brian Telfer to anyone looking for the ultimate service. If you think you've already got a good travel agent try Brian - you will never book another holiday or any type of travel with anyone else.

Sent by N. Walden

Brian has been amazing in finding us some great options for the trip and patient and professional in handling the booking. I have already recommended Brian to colleagues and friends for their future holiday bookings.

Sent by P. Wilson

I have chosen Brian to look after my family travel plans for some years now and I always find his friendly, helpful service to be the best. I always recommend my friends and colleagues to him. He will look after you at all times.

Sent by P. Bagshaw

Well Brian, we’re home now and such a huge success! We've had the most wonderful trip ever. Thank you for such perfect organisation and such wonderful accommodation. Everything went like clockwork and we've got you to thank for that. We fell head over heels in love with the Safari lodge and the wildlife and such a knowledgeable and friendly guide there. It was tremendous, terrific and we just didn't want to leave. When we did, we also had such a great Cape Town and area experiences. Brian, thank you again for everything.

Sent by Katy Barwick

Brian helped my husband and I plan and book our honeymoon to Thailand. He was very informative and easily contactable whenever we had questions or wanted to make changes to our plans. Brian found us great deals on flights and hotels and provided us with a lovely travel wallet containing all the documents we needed from flight booking to hotels and transfer vouchers as well as some extra goodies, but I won't spoil the surprise. He also organised on call agents in Thailand who answered questions and planned day trips for us. I would highly recommend Brian's service and will be sure to use his help in planning future trips.

Sent by P. Pra-Lopez

Brian Telfer has organised travel for us for fifteen years or more and has never let us down in any aspect of the service he provides. We have recommended him to other family members and friends over the years.

Sent by P. Wilson

I've been using Brian Telfer's services for a few years now and I would always - and have - recommended him to friends. He is always willing to help with any issue and promptly. Thank you, Brian you're a legend!

Sent by D. McRae

Just back from another trip - superbly organized by Brian as always. After using his expert services for the last 25 years, I know there's not a better travel agent out there!