Category Archives: Destination Guide

Planning A Ski Holiday – A Guide For Beginners

If you want to know how to do something well, you need to find out from those in the know! We asked some leading experts on the ski scene about what to pack, how to get fit, where to head, what to do to avoid injury, and a bit about etiquette so you can hit the slopes with confidence this ski season!

Ten Things You Need To Know Before Learning to Ski

© Merci L’Agence / OT Les Arcs

© Merci L’Agence / OT Les Arcs

Paul Deadman, ski expert at Neilson Holidays, shares ten things you need to know before skiing abroad for the first time.

  1. The fitter you are the more fun you’ll have. There’s no need to go into any extreme fitness training before a ski holiday, but doing a small amount of exercise in preparation will make a big difference to your fun factor.
  2. You need the right shoes. As well as packing ski boots you’ll need shoes for off the slopes too. Resorts are still snowy and can be icy, so take practical shoes – a sturdy pair of trainers or walking boots work well. Bars and restaurants won’t turn you away if you’re not in fancy heels or polished brogues – slope style is much more relaxed, think more along the lines of ‘practi-cool’.
  3. You still need sunscreen. Even if you don’t think it’s sunny, the sun reflects off the bright white snow and increases the chances of sun damage to your skin. Take lip balm with UVA and UVB protection as well as sun cream for your face and apply regularly over the course of the day.
  4. Helmets are a must. Hire or buy your own, but either way don’t hit the slopes without one.
  5. Accept that you will fall over. A lot. The people who get to grips with skiing the fastest are those who aren’t afraid of falling over. Don’t be discouraged by falling down, it would be really weird if you learnt to ski without falling over at least eight times a day!
  6. Après ski is the post-ski social scene. The ski lifts usually close between 4 and 5pm. This is when everyone comes off the mountain, back to the town and enjoys some après ski. Bars and restaurants will have live bands or DJs, some more lively than others, and you’ll find somewhere to relax to suit you whether you want a chocolat chaud, a vin rouge or a round of Chartreuse.
  7. Ski boots feel a bit odd at first. In my experience, at best ski boots are mildly uncomfortable and at worst can prevent you from enjoying skiing completely. Putting ski boots on will feel strange the first time, and for your first trip it’s worth getting someone with experience to help you with your boot clips to make sure they’re tight enough each morning. The correct boot should feel tight, but not unbearable, you should be able to wiggle your toes…just. Tip: make sure you wear thick socks when you pick them up – you don’t want to get a pair fitted in thin socks to realise that they’re too tight when you put on your ski socks.
  8. Pistes are colour coded. For most European resorts the ski runs (pistes) are marked to show what ability they’re suitable for. Nursery or green slopes will be where you’ll start your ski education, and you could progress to slightly steeper blue runs by the end of the week. Red slopes suit intermediate skiers and black runs are for advanced skiers. ‘Off piste’ refers to any territory that isn’t on marked out ski runs and isn’t something you’d need to worry about as a beginner. North America and Canada mark their pistes slightly differently so make sure you know what the colours are for the resort you’re travelling to.
  9. Lessons start early! Lessons typically start first thing in the mornings (approx. 9.30am) each day and finish at lunch.
  10. You might get hooked. Skiing is one of the best feelings in the world! It might feel like hard work, but the mountain views, endorphins, delicious food and après ski will make you want to return year after year. It’s that feeling you get when you nail that tricky run you’ve been struggling with all week that really gets you hooked though!

How To Get Fit For The Ski Season

© andyparant.com / OT Val d’Isere

© andyparant.com / OT Val d’Isere

Luke Thornton, Fitness Advisor to Discount Supplements takes us through the best moves to boost physical fitness for maximum on-piste performance.

Balance is one of the most important aspects of fitness for snow sports. Twists, turns and high speeds mean you need to have a strong core and an incredible sense of balance. These exercises focus on full body movements and stabilising exercises to really tax your midsection, and lock in that core strength.

Squats – a fantastic movement for working your entire body. This move not only uses your glutes, hamstrings, calves and quads, but also your core for stabilising your body whilst in motion. Keep your abs tight, place your feet shoulder width apart with your head up and descend down into a sitting position, then using your legs, drive upwards until standing. Repeat for 8-12 reps. These can be done with just body weight, or you can add a barbell to increase resistance.

Press Ups – the king of all upper body moves. The press up works your triceps, biceps, chest and shoulders. Add an advanced variation with an exercise ball to increase your core stability and improve balance. Lie face down and place your hands on the floor either side of your shoulders. One by one put your feet onto an exercise ball and assume the push up position.

Long Distance Cycling – not only is this fantastic for your overall cardiovascular health, it also increases endurance and strength in your legs, which is essential for snow sports. If you don’t have a road bike or access to one, use a stationary bike at your gym. Start short at 2km, then move to 5, 10 and 20. Mix it up and try to beat your time on each distance.

Lunges – another brilliant move for leg development, core strength and balance. Try adding walking lunges at the end of every workout to increase endurance in the quads and glutes, and to mix up your cardio. Try 10 stationary lunges for each leg, then 20, then move onto walking lunges. You can also mix it up further by walking with dumbbells.

Packing For A Ski Holiday

Image by tookapic CC0

Image by tookapic CC0

While toothbrush, passport and boarding passes may be obvious items to pack, there are a few essentials that might not be obvious to a first-time skier. Claire Flynn at Powder Beds shares some insider tips.

Skis, boots and helmet: For novices or people relatively new to skiing, it’s worthwhile renting skis, boots and a helmet, rather than buying them AND paying for ski carriage on a flight. Skiset work in resorts across Europe offering different ski hire packages depending on what you want. It’s also worth booking in advance to make sure you get the best deal and what you want.

Taking your own ski equipment? Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) have created a nifty Baggage Allowance Finder. The tool helps you find the baggage allowances for major airlines across the UK, perfect for finding out how much it will cost to get your skis across the skies!

Clothes for the slopes: Bring thermals, fleeces, warm jacket, salopettes, thick socks, goggles and don’t forget proper waterproof gloves. Also, neck scarves (Buffs) are useful for keeping your face warm on the slopes.

Sun protection: Make sure to bring suncream (or buy it in the resort), and apply it even when it’s cloudy. It’s also a good idea to bring a decent pair of sunglasses, so you can change out of your goggles if you stop for lunch on the slopes.

Clothes for off-piste activities: Bring warm clothes and decent shoes with good grip for walking about the resort in the evening.

Other items that might make your time in the snow warmer, easier or more fun are:

Sundown Lock

Sundown Ski Lock, Blacks

• Day rucksack
• Water bottle
• Ski Lock
• Thermos
• Hand warmers
• Foot warmers
• Muscle rub/soak
• Ankle, knee and wrist supports

Check out skiclub.co.uk for a foolproof packing list, and if you are looking to grab some ski clothes and accessories – without paying a design label premium – Blacks have a superb range.

WINTERSPORT INSURANCE

ossur-image-2-ski-mega-blog

© Courtesy of Össur

WINTERSPORT INSURANCE IS AN ESSENTIAL PIECE OF YOUR KIT WHEN YOU HEAD OUT ON SKIS! Even if you are holidaying in the EU, you should make sure that your travel insurance covers you for the activities you plan to do. Wintersports insurance from worldwideinsure.com provides cover for equipment, ski packs, cancelled flights, medical assistance and repatriation for all destinations including even if you want to go off-piste, heli-skiing, and parapenting!

Best Ski Resort for Beginners – Avoriaz

© Stephane Lerendu / OT Avoriaz

© Stephane Lerendu / OT Avoriaz

• Only truly car-free resort in France.
• Offers access to the fantastic Portes du Soleil ski area.
• Perfect for beginners thanks to the several easy green runs through the village, plus a great selection of ski schools, including Le Village des Enfants (located in the heart of the resort with two distinct areas for skiing abilities). Avoriaz Alpine Ski School is another excellent ski school – small team of British and local instructors offering high quality tuition, for all ages.
• Also great range of runs for intermediates and over 30 black runs for advanced, including the World Cup Downhill which drops from Les Hauts Forts.
• One of the world’s leading freestyle centres with three snowparks and a superpipe.
• Good areas for beginner and intermediate boarders, as well as plenty of powder for freeriding.
• One of the highest resorts in the Alps so snow cover isn’t often a problem, except for some of the runs below resort height.
• Accommodations are generally all ski-in/ski-out offering easy access to the slopes for first-timers.
• Also great non-ski activities available to keep everyone busy – Aquariaz claims to be Europe’s highest waterpark, complete with a main pool, lazy river, half-pipe, mini flume, Jacuzzis and tropical vegetation. There’s also dog sledding, snowshoeing and ice skating.
• Where to stay – Residence L’Amara offers luxurious ski-in/ski-out apartments at the entrance of the resort, with a private car park, indoor swimming pool, fitness room and Deep Nature Spa.

Best Ski Resort If You Are Travelling With Intermediates – Les Arcs

© Merci Creative / OT Les Arcs

© Merci Creative / OT Les Arcs

• One of the biggest resorts in the Alps, with a choice of four different base villages, located in the huge and varied Paradiski area.
• More than 125km of fast long and blue and red runs on the Les Arcs side of Paradiski alone – superb for intermediate skiers.
• Can also use the Vanoise express to cross over to the La Plagne side to experience more terrain. Although, as there is so much terrain in Les Arcs, it is only worth doing this for a day, so opt for the Paradiski Discovery Pass rather than the full Paradiski pass.
• Also has a strong reputation for advanced terrain with more than 40km of black runs, divided into 19 runs.
• Beginners are also well-catered for with gentle slopes right by the four base villages. Plus, the relatively recent Mille 8 development in Arc 1800 includes a dedicated beginners’ area.
• Also great for snowboarders – the Apocalypse Snowpark is fitted with tricks and treats for all ability levels, with great progression from beginner to intermediate to advanced features. Well-maintained and one of the better parks in the Alps.
• Non-ski activities also available – mostly from Arc 1800 – snowshoeing, dog sledding, bowling, shopping and there’s a small cinema.
• Where to stay – La Source des Arcs offers stylish and spacious ski-in/ski-out apartments in the highest altitude village of Arc 2000. However, if you’d like to be closer to the action in Arc 1800, try Residence Edenarc.

Best Ski Resort If You Have Advanced Skiers In Your Party – Val d’Isere

© andyparant.com / OT Val d’Isere

© andyparant.com / OT Val d’Isere

• Ski area traditionally known as Espace Killy, although more commonly known as Val d’Isere-Tignes these days – regarded as one of the most exciting ski areas in the world.
• One of the world’s great resorts for advanced skiers with 25 black runs to test your abilities on – including the world famous La Face run (descends nearly 2 miles from its peak) – only those brave enough should attempt it.
• The area is most famous for its off-piste (10,000 hectares), with forested areas like Daniades, accessed from the Solaise Express among the more popular.
• Also a great ski area for intermediates, with over 100 blue and red runs in the Espace Killy.
• With the redevelopment of the Solaise area due to open for this winter, Val d’Isere is also set to become a great resort for novices, with a new dedicated beginners’ area.
• Also great for boarders with a highly regarded snowpark spread over 35 hectares. Other terrain parks to try out across the Espace Killy into Tignes too.
• Also, one of the most snowsure resorts in Europe thanks to its high altitude.
• Always stays at the forefront of winter sports but has remained a picturesque main resort village, meaning it continues to attract guests from all over the world.
• With a sports centre, glacier walking, husky racing and 70 shops available, there are plenty of non-ski activities to keep you entertained also.
• Where to stay: for self-catering, opt for Chalets du Jardin Alpin, but if it’s a luxurious hotel you’re after, the five star Hotel Christiania in the centre is a very popular choice.

Après-Ski – Social Life On The Slopes

© Fruitiere / OT Val Thorens

© Fruitiere / OT Val Thorens

If going out for drinks after a long day on the slopes appeals to you, make sure to pick a resort with a good après scene. Val Thorens is great, with several bars on and off the slopes, as well as Malaysia, the highest nightclub in Europe. Val d’Isere is also a good option, being the home of the original La Folie Douce. Alpe d’Huez, Les Deux Alpes, Meribel and Verbier are also renowned for their après scenes.

The off-slope vibe may be laid back, but make sure you show your fellow après party people some respect. Here are some top tips:

Pack your gear away before heading to the bar. No one wants to have to manoeuvre their way around a bunch of skis and snow boots!

Welcome strangers into your fold – in other words, don’t hog a huge table to just a few of you. Likewise, don’t be shy if someone offers you a seat at their table – the après scene is a great way to get to know people.

• Come as you are, which means there is no need to get showered and dressed up as soon as the lift stops spinning. Unless of course you are heading to a hot tub – in which case always, ALWAYS rinse before going in.

And one more thing: If you respect your fellow guests, endeavour to not puke on them. High altitudes will have a major affect on your tolerance to alcohol. Pace yourself and have a glass of water in between drinks – skiing is heaps more fun without a hangover anyway!

Injuries At Altitude

Courtesy of Össur

© Courtesy of Össur

Nothing can bring a fun holiday to an abrupt halt like hurting yourself, and on a ski holiday the head, wrists, knees, ankles and spine are all at risk. We asked injury experts Össur for some top tips on how to avoid injuries on the slope and what to do if things don’t go to plan.

How to avoid injuries on the slope

Whilst on the whole injuries are unavoidable and sometimes just happen, there are things you can do to minimise the risk as the last thing you want is to injure yourself on day one and spend the rest of your holiday looking at the slopes rather than being on them.

1. Wear the right gear
Wearing the right gear is a good start. Without a doubt you need to wear some good winter clothing as it’s cold up in the mountains but there are a few other things which could help you.

• Helmet: Would you ever ride your bike without a helmet? No? It’s the same for winter sports. We’re not just talking rocks that you could land on, as compacted snow could be just as hazardous if you whack your head on it, so stay safe.
• Knee Bracing: Prophylactic knee bracing is becoming more popular with many professionals now sporting these carbon fibre (lightweight and strong) exoskeletons to protect the knee from injury following a fall but also to offer stability to help manage pre-existing injuries.
• Wrist Guards: Everyone falls down on the slopes, some more often than others. When we fall we put our arms out to break our fall but that can lead to broken wrists, arms, or dislocated shoulders. Wrist guards offer a degree of protection when you fall.
• Boots: A standard piece of kit but make sure you pick something suitable. Have a chat with the professionals and see what is best for you given your expertise and what you want to achieve, as more freedom of movement may be good for tricks but potentially bad for your ankles.

2. Know your limits
If you’re just starting out then it’s understandable you want to follow in the footsteps of famous skiers, but it is important that you take it easy and practice, even Jonny Moseley had to start somewhere. It’s ok to push yourself as that is the only way to get better, but you know yourself what is pushing yourself and what could be considered a little foolish.

3. Take lessons
Taking lessons is a great way to start and even the experienced skiers still take lessons to brush up on their skills, especially if you’ve had a few months off (like when there is no snow). Lessons ensure you have the right technique and most importantly, know how to fall (as in minimising the risk of injury) so book them in, listen and learn.

4. Stick to the path
When you finally arrive at your resort you’ll be as giddy as a kid at Christmas and want to do everything. Just remember that there are routes designated for each level of ability so stick to them and practice before moving up and deciding to do something adventurous. Being on the slopes is extreme enough when you’re starting out without going off-piste in search of something different and potentially dangerous.

5. Be aware of your surroundings
It’s important to remember where you are on the slopes and that you don’t only have to watch what you’re doing but also what everyone else is doing as well. It only takes one person to either do something daft or lose control and they could wipe you out as well as leave you battered and bruised, or worse.

What to do when you’ve been injured

Following an injury there are a number of steps to consider both in the immediate aftermath and throughout your overall rehabilitation journey.

1. Stop what you’re doing
If you’re injured then stop what you’re doing as carrying on could make it worse. Sprains, for example, are graded 1 to 3 depending on their severity, with a 1 being a few days of hobbling and 3 being a few months using crutches. If you sprain your ankle when running then failing to stop could turn a grade 1 to a grade 2, as you’re increasing the chances of your ankle rolling as a result of the instability.

2. Remember RICE
It’s the standard protocol following an injury and stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Rest is simply giving the body time to repair itself and heal naturally.
Ice can be used to help manage inflammation as well as offering a degree of pain relief.
Compression is typically achieved through bracing but helps to manage inflammation when on the move, again having pain relieving qualities,
Elevation is the act of raising the affected area of the body above the level of the heart to reduce blood flow and in turn reduce inflammation.

You will know if an injury warrants urgent medical attention, in which case, you should seek this right away to minimise the risk of the injury worsening.

3. Obtain a professional diagnosis
If RICE doesn’t work after a few days then you should seek a professional diagnosis as it may require additional treatment following a more detailed examination.
You may be sent for an X-ray, an MRI or simply referred to a physiotherapist depending on how severe they believe the injury to be.

After a professional diagnosis you may need physio, a brace and even surgery. Overseas this can be a lot more complicated. Make sure you contact your travel insurance provider and discuss what procedures and treatments are covered.

Well, that’s the essentials covered, but nothing compares to the real thing – stay warm, stay safe and have fun wherever you end up!

© P Tournaire / OT Val Thorens

© P Tournaire / OT Val Thorens

For more information about getting the right wintersports travel insurance for this ski season, get in touch with one of the team on 01892 833338

Visiting Thailand? Dos and Don’ts Following King’s Death

thailand-image-by-mariamichelle-cc0

Thailand image by Mariamichelle CC0

The death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13 has plunged Thailand into a state of mourning not seen for many decades. Although this event has affected Thais deeply, they remain welcoming to holidaymakers keen to enjoy the country’s castor sugar beaches, lush jungle hinterlands and sunny weather.

However, ‘respect’ is the watchword for any trip to Thailand in the coming months.

What to wear and how to behave

Black clothing has virtually sold out in the country as Thais pay their respects to the late king. As a visitor you don’t need to wear black, but opting for low-key colours will put you in good stead with locals.

Avoid flamboyant attire in public places.

But as Chris Lee, UK and Ireland head of marketing for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), says: “despite reports, tourists don’t have to wear black on the beach.”

There are reports that the TAT has asked Immigration to provide visitors with black ribbons which they can wear as a sign of respect, although this hasn’t happened as yet.

Aside from asking visitors to dress respectfully, the TAT encourages them to “continue with their travel plans as normal”.

But the TAT also warns that “Visitors should refrain from conducting any inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour.”

The UK’s FCO backs this up: “Following the death of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej there is now an official period of mourning of one year from 14 October 2016. You should respect the feelings and sensitivities of the Thai people at this time.”

Is the nightlife affected?

Bars and restaurants have been asked to tone it down by the government, so the nightlife may well be a little more subdued than usual. Most establishments will close by midnight, although owners have the final say.

Millions of Thais make a living from the country’s tourism industry, so many will be keen to keep their businesses going.

Are any tourist sites closed?

Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace are closed to the public, as they will be the venue of the Royal Funeral Rites. But all other tourist attractions remain open.

Traditional and cultural events will go ahead as usual, but their tone may well be modified in respect for the late king.

You can expect transportation, banks and medical facilities to operate as normal.

Talking about the king

Many Thais are open to talking about their feelings at this sad time, but as before the king’s passing, care should be taken when discussing anything related to the monarchy. Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws mean anyone insulting or defaming the monarchy could face a jail term of up to 15 years. If you want to be on the safe side, avoid the subject altogether unless it is broached by a local – and even then proceed with caution.

The atmosphere in tourist hotspots like the islands of Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Phi Phi is likely to be lighter than in Bangkok, although less intense than before the king’s death. Indeed, now could be a particularly relaxed time to visit this most unique of kingdoms.

The famous Thai smile may be a little thin on the ground right now, but if you’re mindful of your host’s feelings you’ll still have a fabulous holiday.

 

Nevada – A Spooky Place To Celebrate Halloween!

You may associate Nevada with tales of extra terrestrial activities, but did you know that it has some pretty spooky heritage? Nevada’s vast landscape is dotted with countless ghost towns – some are indecipherable ruins infested with tumbleweeds, but others are surprisingly intact. Both are portals into a Nevada of old…

Rhyolite Porter Store by Tom Babich CC2.0

Rhyolite Porter Store by Tom Babich CC2.0

Rhyolite – America’s most famous ghost town…

Rhyolite is a secluded town set on the eastern edge of Death Valley, and has a reputation for being one of the best ghost towns in the US. It was once a thriving mining town, but now the abandoned streets and buildings send shivers down the spines of those who visit. The general store, train station and bank still stand, and so does the jail, undoubtedly the most popular attraction for spooky thrill seekers who can look into the cells and imagine the tortured lives of former prisoners.

The Haunted Mizpah Hotel

Mizpah Hotel

Mizpah Hotel. Image © Travel Nevada

Between Las Vegas and Reno is a spooky hotel that is said to have some ghostly inhabitants. Here are some of the hair-raising rumours that would make great torch lit Halloween tales!

It is said that guests can hear laughter by one of the hotel’s bath tubs, possibly the ghostly echoes of a politician who died there. Rumour has it that he met his demise before an important election, but his death was hidden by his aides who decided to keep his body in a bathtub on blocks of ice instead.

The Mizpah is also home to “The Lady in Red”- the spirit of a prostitute who was murdered on the fifth floor of the hotel, viciously stabbed outside her lavish suite. Some stories say that she was killed by a jealous ex-boyfriend, whereas others say she was caught cheating by her husband at the hotel after he had missed a train – he then proceeded to kill her in a fit of jealous rage. She has also made appearances in the original elevator the hotel features, which at its installation was the fastest elevator in the state!

The ghosts of Mizpah are said to reside across the eerie building – there have been several sightings of ghosts of children playing throughout the hallway on the third floor, and it is said that the ghosts of miners can be seen walking through the walls of the creepy basement too.

The Lady in Red Suite Courtesy of Travel Nevada © Travel Nevada

Brave guests can stay in The Lady in Red Suite for as little as £122 a night. Image © Travel Nevada

Creepy Clowns of Highway 95

clown-motel

Image © Travel Nevada

Like all good spooky places to visit in Nevada, Tonopah was once a thriving mining town, which now has an extra eerie appeal to visitors. Along the highway of this desert town lies the Clown Motel, a roadside rest place stuffed to the brim with clowns and clown collectables. The hotel itself may not be haunted – it’s just the creepy clowns that are guaranteed to give guests night terrors – but the Cemetery next door probably is. It has been closed for over a hundred years and is packed with graves of former miners many of which died from the mysterious “Tonopah Plague” in 1902.

Avoid the fright of your life on holiday! Get travel insurance!

While we don’t insure against ghouls and ghosts, we can provide cover for a range of holiday mishaps – Get in touch or visit our website to find out more about single trip, multi trip and long stay travel insurance.

3 Of The Best Airports To Be Stuck At

There is something special and somewhat surreal about the atmosphere at an airport, but some are definitely more of a pleasure than others. We reveal three of the best airports in the world – the kind you would wish you were in if you were stranded!

Changi Airport, Singapore

Changi Airport, Singapore by cegoh CC0

Changi Airport, Singapore by cegoh CC0

This place is more like a leisure complex than an airport, combined with an art gallery and possibly the Eden Project in the UK. In fact, it is a destination in itself! Here are a few of the things that make it the perfect place to while away some hours…

  • You can go on a nature trail in the butterfly garden
  • Try out 12m long airport slide
  • View international works of art, sculpture and installation
  • Have spa treatments
  • Go shopping for designer goods
  • Explore the interactive enchanted garden
  • Visit the airport zoo
  • Stay in a luxury hotel without checking out
  • Swim in the rooftop pool
  • Go to the movies

Incheon International Airport, Seoul

Incheon International Airport, Seoul by zionorbi CC2.0

Incheon International Airport, Seoul by zionorbi CC2.0

This airport has won awards for the last 11 years for it’s outstanding facilities, and for keeping passengers happy too. It’s super-spacious and offers travellers a lot of ways to pass the time…

  • Get your skates on at the ice rink
  • Go get rich in the casino
  • Improve your handicap at the golf course
  • Relax in the spa, bath or sauna
  • Catch some zzzzs in one of the sleeping rooms
  • Explore one of the many beautiful airport gardens
  • Brush up on your local knowledge at the museum

Munich Airport, Germany

Munich Airport by Alexas_Fotos CC0

Munich Airport by Alexas_Fotos CC0

This airport has been likened to a city centre thanks to its huge array of eateries, watering holes and shops. It is also one of the busiest airports in Europe, here’s what visitors get to experience…

  • Indulge in retail therapy in one of the 150+ shops
  • Eat and drink in any of the 50+ bars
  • Enjoy the atmosphere of a real German rooftop beer garden
  • Explore the in-house art gallery
  • Swim in a stainless steel pool
  • Visit the Audi showroom

Although these airports would seem like a great place to spend some holiday time, if your flight is delayed or cancelled it could cause havoc with more than just your holiday plans, it could affect your finances too. Travel insurance from WorldwideInsure.com provides the cover you need in the event that travel plans don’t go to plan – to find out more, get in touch with us on 01892 833338 or get a fast and free online quote.

 

Coffee Capitals Of The World

By tpsdave CC0

By tpsdave CC0

If the power of the great bean drives your lust for life, then maybe you should let it drive your wanderlust too! Discover where to go and why before you book your next break…

Columbia

Not only is Columbia home to some of the best coffee in the world, it is home to The National Coffee Park. This is a theme park dedicated to the culture, cultivation and history of coffee. If you are travelling with less coffee-enthusiastic family members, they’ll be pleased to know that there are a range of rides and attractions to enjoy – albeit with a coffee-related theme.

Italy

The nation is well known for its love of coffee, so much so that there is a definite etiquette in place if you want to fit in. Only order milky coffee for breakfast, stick to black coffee or espressos during the day and after dinner indulge in the very best of caffeinated Italian passion with an affogato – a delectable ice cream and espresso desert!

USA

Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks and claims to be the coffee capital of the US. Portland thinks the title is theirs as they started the speciality coffee culture, and boast over 40 independent small-batch roasters. We advise you visit both places and make your own mind up.

Ethiopia

Did you know that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee? Historians believe that nomads in the region appreciated the very special effects of the bean as early as the 10th century. With so many years of coffee culture under the belt, it comes as no surprise that visitors can enjoy coffee ceremonies, rituals and tours as well as enjoying the simple pastime of café hopping.

Turkey

Turkish coffee has a twang of it’s very own, an experience no coffee lover should miss out on. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can try an array of milky treats in coffee shops though. No, in Turkey coffee culture is done differently! Turkish coffee is rich, thick, strong and usually served with LOTS of sugar. To find the authentic stuff you’ll be looking for street vendors who boil up finely ground beans multiple times in a small metal pot called a cezve.

Austria

According to UNESCO, Vienna’s coffee culture is an “Intangible Cultural Heritage”, which is to say – a coffee appreciators paradise! Here you’ll find opulent and ornate coffee houses, some of which date back to the 17th century, complete with marble, mahogany and many period features. The atmosphere is understandably upmarket, erudite and far more exclusive than your nearest Starbucks!

Your Guide To Going On A Goddess Retreat

Embracing feminine empowerment and connecting with goddess energy – not new ways for women to feel more spiritually connected, but most certainly an emerging trend in overseas retreats. We share what you need to know about going on an enlightening holiday abroad.

Courtesy of GoddessAcumen.com

Courtesy of GoddessAcumen.com

What is a Goddess Retreat?

Goddess retreats, women empowerment workshops, circle gatherings… there are a variety of names for this type of overseas escape, but they are all fundamentally the same – they focus on connecting with your feminine power, honouring womanhood and being at one with the sisterhood. That can be encouraged in a number of ways such as through meditation, circling, restorative therapies and yoga.

Who is a Goddess Retreat For?

Women from all paths of life, and in any stage of their life are welcome on these retreats, many attracting those who want to connect with their inner goddess and like-minded women. The ethos is to come as you are.

Women at a Goddess Full Moon Gathering under the wishing tree at Natural Springs Retreat, Turkey

Women at a Goddess Full Moon Gathering under the wishing tree at Natural Springs Retreat, Turkey

What To Expect On A Goddess Retreat

This all depends on where you go, but generally speaking you can expect a mix of energy work, meditation, holistic therapies, and connecting with nature and the self – all in a communal and supportive environment. This also includes communal dining, with meal times offering nourishment for the mind and soul as well as the body!

Practice your yoga, book a massage or just relax on the chill out platform by the waterfall. Courtesy of NaturalSpringsRetreat.com

Practice your yoga, book a massage or just relax on the chill out platform by the waterfall. Courtesy of NaturalSpringsRetreat.com

There are lots of activities available during retreats, which could include visits to local markets, swimming, surfing, walking, or something to get the pulse racing! Courtesy of Natural Springs Retreat.

There are lots of activities available during retreats, which could include visits to local markets, swimming, surfing, walking, or something to get the pulse racing! Courtesy of Natural Springs Retreat.

What To Take On A Goddess Retreat

Comfy clothes! Comfort is paramount when it comes to relaxation, and it is impossible to connect with your inner goddess if your mind is distracted with discomfort. You may like to take your own yoga matt, and a favourite blanket or wrap for meditations. Many women find that the urge to journal is strong on these retreats, so pick up a nice notebook to document your experiences.

Where Can I Find A Goddess Retreat?

You could connect with your local Red Tent group, speak with local yoga practitioners, or search for events at specific retreats.

Turkey

Venues such as Natural Springs Retreat in the Tlos mountains, Turkey welcome guests all year round, but also hold women-only events including week-long Goddess Empowerment Workshops and Full Moon Circle gatherings for women.

Natural Springs Retreat, Turkey invites women on Goddess Empowerment Workshops to journey and open up their senses to connect with their inner goddess. The ancient and beautiful site is a powerful trigger for reconnecting, love, gratitude and feminine power. Details of the next week-long retreat can be found at NaturalSpringsRetreat.com.

Natural Springs Retreat, Turkey invites women on Goddess Empowerment Workshops to journey and open up their senses to connect with their inner goddess. The ancient and beautiful site is a powerful trigger for reconnecting, love, gratitude and feminine power. Details of the next week-long retreat can be found at NaturalSpringsRetreat.com.

Barbados

Another way to find Goddess retreats is to connect with a practitioner who hosts events at a chosen retreat. Goddess Acumen is taking her skills all the way to Barbados to host the Abundant Goddess and Yoga Retreat.

Goddess Acumen specialises in helping women find freedom, purpose and balance through the six goddess archetypes. The next retreats take place in Barbados: 8-16th October 2016 and 29th April-7th May 2017. Packages include flights, most meals and accommodation. Visit GoddessAcumen.com to find out more.

Goddess Acumen specialises in helping women find freedom, purpose and balance through the six goddess archetypes. The next retreats take place in Barbados: 8-16th October 2016 and 29th April-7th May 2017. Packages include flights, most meals and accommodation. Visit GoddessAcumen.com to find out more.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! You may not plan to get tangled up in a downdog or lose yourself in a meditation, but things might not always go to plan, even on the most relaxed of holidays. Make sure you are covered for things that are beyond your control – call WorldwideInsure.com on 01892 833338 or buy cover online.

Top 5 Surfing Destinations

Not sure where to head this summer to catch some decent surf? Fear not! British Surfing Champion Jonny Wallbridge has a massive wealth of knowledge when it comes to enjoying the waves of the world.

Born on the island of Guernsey, which measures a mere 30 square miles, Johnny Wallbridge has always been surrounded by water. It’s, therefore, perhaps unsurprising that he took up surfing at the age of 14 and didn’t look back. Since then he’s become a British Surfing Champion, has travelled the world in search of bigger, better waves, and has even opened his own surf clothing and accessories shop, Yakwax.

Here are his top five places to go…

Image courtesy of Jonny Wallbridge

Image courtesy of Jonny Wallbridge

1. Indonesia

July and August are prime months to chase waves off the coast of Indonesia. From Bali to the Mentawaii Islands, the conditions are perfect almost every day. Indonesia — or “Indo”, as it’s commonly known within the surf community — is well-regarded for having some of the best waves on the planet thanks to the consistent swells, light winds, hot air, and fantastic water temperatures.

Some of the most popular surf spots in Bali can be found on the Bukit Peninsula and include the likes of Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Bingin, Impossibles, and Balangan. Alternatively, if you have some money to spare, charter a private yacht from a reliable company like Pulau Luxury Charter and sail through the Mentawaii Island chain in search of perfect, uncrowded waves that you spend dark winters dreaming about.

2. Mexico

During the summer months, Mexico gets pummelled by consistent southwest swells that march across the Pacific. Thanks to the steep continental shelf that sits off Mexico, the power of the waves is magnified, making the country home to some of the most intense beach breaks in the world. If you’re willing to take some risks to catch the best barrel of your life, spots like Puerto Escondido and Pascuales should definitely be on your list.

If you don’t have much experience of surfing abroad, an organised camp or tour might be for you. Surf Las Palmeras is a camp in Salina Cruz, southern Mexico, and offers packages that include everything you could possibly need. It’s a brilliant option if you’ve never been to Mexico, as you’ll be guided towards all the best spots.

Boards WWI

Image by Patsacha.

3. South Africa

Back in 2015, three-time world champion surfer Mick Fanning made headlines after being attacked by a great white shark while surfing in South Africa. These waters aren’t for the faint-hearted, but that just adds to the rush of surfing in them.

Seasoned surfers put the dangers to the back of their mind to take advantage of the world class waves that J-Bay, which is considered to be the best right hand point break on the planet, provides. Although, according to National Geographic’s list of the World’s Best 20 Surf Towns, Muizenberg, South Africa, is an ideal place for beginners to start out, so the area can truly suit anyone.

Image courtesy of Jonny Wallbridge

Image by Helloolly.

4. Guernsey

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the place where it all began: Guernsey. While the island itself is relatively small, it boasts some stunning coastal scenery and a very tight-knit surfing community. It might not attract the crowds that more exotic locations do, but it has a lot of heart and, no matter where in Guernsey you go, you’re never too far away from a fun surfing spot.

If you’re unfamiliar to the area, Vazon Bay is the best place to start. It’s the most popular surfing spot and is also home to Guernsey Surf School, the only of its kind on the island. There’s even a handy beach café nearby where you can refuel after a session.

Image courtesy of Jonny Wallbridge

Image by Dongpung.

5. Oahu, Hawaii

North Shore, Oahu in Hawaii is one of the most celebrated surfing locations on the planet. In the winter months its world-class waves play host to a range of professional competitions and attract serious, international surfers who fancy a challenge.

During the summer the water becomes a lot calmer, making this the ideal time for more casual surfers, beginners, or those who are just looking for a relaxing holiday, to descend upon the coast. Oahu’s official travel website is a great place to learn about what happens on the island throughout the year if you’re considering a visit.

Surfing in itself is an exhilarating sport, but your overall experience depends on choosing the perfect location. From someone who’s travelled the world with his surfboard in tow, these five are fantastic places to start.

WorldwideInsure.com automatically cover loads of sports and activities on their travel insurance policies, including surfing, scuba diving, windsurfing, canoeing and water skiing. For more info, get in touch on 01892 833338 or visit WorldwideInsure.com for a fast online quote.

Family Friendly Holidays To Suit Your Budget This Summer!

Looking to whisk the family away somewhere stunning this summer? We have picked three of the most sought-after holidays around to suit your bargain, mid-range or luxury budget – each with their own fantastic facilities for keeping the kids entertained so you can sit back and chillax! Don’t forget… kids go free on our Family Travel Insurance policies!

Bargain Break

Holiday apartment with waterslides in Playa de las Americas, Tenerife from spain-holiday.com

Image courtesy of spain-holiday.com

Image courtesy of spain-holiday.com

Bag a bargain break with all the conveniences you want on a hot summer holiday with your kids with this Tenerife offer.

  • Apartment sleeps up to 4 people
  • 1 minute walk from the sandy Playa del Camison
  • Local amenities within walking distance
  • Seawater pools within the complex

For the kids:

  • Separate children’s pool
  • Mini Aqua Park for kids with water slides

Find out more at spain-holiday.com

Mid-Range Getaway

Chalets with nanny facilities in Portes du Soleil, Morzine, French Alps from chillypowder.com

Chilly Powder LodgeHave lots of family fun, and a little bit of adult time out at fabulous family-run, family-friendly chalets in Portes du Soleil that won’t break the bank!

  • All bedrooms are individually themed (including Oriental, Savoyarde and Safari rooms)
  • All facilities have en-suite bathrooms with access to an outdoor hot tub, sauna, and massage room
  • Three prestigious TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards 2014 have been awarded
  • Reputation for exquisite food and bespoke service
  • Head Chef uses the freshest of ingredients and lots of local produce
  • The exhilarating summer activities on offer include hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, white water rafting, paragliding, and relaxing by the many stunning lakes nearby

For the kids:

  • In-house childcare is provided in Chilly Powder’s own crèche
  • Fully qualified nannies able to offer care for children as young as 3 months old
  • All the bedrooms at Chilly Powder have been designed to suit families of all sizes and stages and the childcare facilities are unique to Morzine

In the winter Chilly Powder chalets boast a true ski-to-door location as it is situated directly opposite the main gondola lift to Avoriaz. Other winter activities in the region include ice climbing, paragliding and ice diving.

Call 020 7289 6958 or visit chillypowder.com for more info.

Luxury Location

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with adult only hideaways and kid-friendly activities, Riviera Maya, Mexico from BA.

Image courtesy of ba.com

Image courtesy of ba.com

Live life like a rock star in one of the most exclusive all-inclusive family holiday resorts around.

  • Room includes private Hydro Spa Tub
  • 24 hour room service
  • In-room premium liquor dispenser
  • Concierge butler service is also available
  • Adult only pools complete with swim up bars
  • Exclusive beach for snorkeling, kayaking and swimming

Guests get complimentary resort credits redeemable against resort experiences including Hydrotherapy Rock Spa and championship golf course.

  • Rock Spa®, with 75 treatment rooms and spa butler service
  • Body Rock® fitness centre
  • World class golf
  • Posh Beauty Salon®
  • Private beach cove
  • Heaven – the adults only luxury resort within the resort
  • Selection of exquisite restaurants and bars

For the kids:

  • Linking family suites for up to 10
  • Kid’s rooms are kitted out with Xboxes, a full stocked minibar with non-alcoholic drinks, and 24 hour room service with a menu tailored just for kids!
  • Kids pools plus outdoor entertainment and games
  • Over 12s can rock out in the Music Lab or mix it up at the Electronic Dance Music experience, or even star in their own music video
  • Younger children can head to The Little Big Club
  • Ultimate Playtime Packages available for 0 months to 12 years

Visit ba.com/hardrock to book. 

 

Kids go free on WorldwideInsure.com Family Travel Insurance policies!

Top 10 Places To Go… Before It’s Too Late!

1. Maldives – Rising tides threaten this idyllic landscape, 80% of which sits at just 1 metre above sea level! Experts say that the Maldives could be submerged entirely in less than 100 years, but many residents are already starting to relocate.

2. Kilimanjaro Ice Cap – The snowy sight of the Kilamanjaro ice cap rising above the rainforest could be a thing of the past within 20 years. Rising temperatures over the past century has seen 85% of the snowy peak disappear already.

2. The Great Barrier Reef – While this natural wonder is on our list of places to visit before it’s too late, by doing so, you could actually contribute to its demise. The famous coral reef is suffering from potentially irreversible damage caused by water pollution, over fishing and rising sea temperatures. If you do visit – look but do not touch!

3. Seychelles – The coral reefs that have protected this archipelago of over 100 islands is dying, causing natural erosion to accelerate. This erosion combined with rising sea levels has led experts to predict that the Seychelles will be a shadow of it’s former self in as little as 50 years.

4. Glacier National Park – Set in the Rocky Mountains of Montana, the Glacier National Park was once a truly spectacular sight thanks to its 150 gorgeous glaciers. Fast-forward 100 years, and there is fewer than 25 left, which are expected to be gone by 2030. The culprits? Climate change and pollution.

5. Taj Mahal – Believe it or not, this iconic sight could be facing a shorter-than-expected lifespan due to erosion and pollution. While it has made our list, the collapse of the Taj Mahal could be avoided with a bit of pre-emptive TLC – as long as there are enough coins in the coffer.

6. Great Wall of China – Don’t panic, this monumental man-made structure isn’t about to suddenly disappear, but it is being damaged at an alarming rate. According to some reports around two-thirds of the wall is damaged from a range of factors including people selling bricks that have historical engravings on them.

7. Venice – It is a sinking city, and while it has been built to embrace a wetter way of living, the city is still under threat from rising sea levels. In fact, Venice has not fared well during the increasingly frequent floods over the last few years, which have caused damage to the historical buildings.

8. Michoacán Mountains – Let’s be clear, the mountains themselves aren’t going anywhere, but one of their most spectacular sights might well be. The Michoacán Mountains is the place to be for over 200 million Monarch butterflies, a spectacle that draws crowds year after year. Unfortunately deforestation is threatening their delicate habitat, and the butterflies themselves.

9. The Dead Sea – Some of the Dead Sea’s seaside resorts now stand nearly a mile away form the shore! It has taken just half a century for this to happen. The overuse of it’s only source of water, the River Jordan, is to blame and if it continues the Dead Sea will be a thing of the past within another 50 years.

10. Madagascar – Human activities such as deforestation, forest fires, and hunting are devastating the delicate ecosystem that makes Madagascar unique. Many of the flora and fauna found here is found nowhere else on the planet, and the grim reality is that it could be lost forever within 40 years if things don’t change.

 

Find Inner Peace On A Healthy Holiday

 

Image Courtesy of FayeYoga.com

If you are looking to give your inner self some much needed TLC, and want to get away from it all, you should consider jetting off on a mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or detox retreat. We have picked out three of the best places to head this year.

Detox in Malta

Whether you are detoxing for weight loss, wellbeing or just want to kick-start a period of change in your life, doing it in the sun is much more fun! Amchara have a retreat in Malta, on the beautiful island of Gozo, as well as a place in the UK. Here you have the support of a specialist detox team, and you can enjoy yoga and meditation classes as well as go for walks, cycling, a dip in the pool, or swim in the sea. Visit AmcharaMalta.com for more info.

Yoga in Ibiza with Reclaim Your Self Healthy Holidays

A week-long yoga retreat in Ibiza with Reclaim Your Self Healthy Holidays starts from £1250 per person.

Yoga in Ibiza

Unify your mind, body and soul with Vinyasa Flow Yoga in a sun-drenched Spanish finca in the heart of the north Iberian countryside. Reclaim Your Self specialise in healthy holidays in Ibiza, Iceland, Zanzibar, Italy, Mongolia & UK, and this year owner Jools Sampson will be welcoming Faye Riches, yoga teacher extraordinaire and Emma Fountain and Radha Kuhnert, holistic health nutrition experts, to deliver a superb yoga and health retreat in Ibiza from 24th September until 1st October 2016.

  • Vinyasa flow yoga
  • Restorative meditation classes
  • Lush green gardens
  • Private swimming pool
  • Island hikes
  • Sunset walks on the beach
  • Delicious meals designed to support your yoga practice

You can also hire bikes, go horse riding and book yourself a massage and facial treatment!

This idyllic, week-long retreat starts from £1250 per person and includes: accommodation, meals, drinks, snacks, 11 yoga classes, plus a health and cooking day. Flights, treatments, and other recreational activities are not included in the price. To book visit ReclaimYourself.co.uk

Image courtesy of FayeYoga.com

Mindfulness in Portugal

The simplest way to find inner peace is to practice mindfulness through meditation. It also has the added benefit of improving your health, and helping rid oneself of self-limiting beliefs that might be holding you back in life. Akanista Mindfulness Retreats in Portugal combine mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other therapies to ease physical and emotional stress. The result is that you’ll come back home blessed with the laid back energy of this sensationally sunny retreat. To find out when the next holistic holiday takes place visit MindfulnessRetreat.net.

Image courtesy of FayeYoga.com

DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE! Call 01892 833338 if you’d like to know more, or get an online quote.