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Club Med all-inclusive ski holiday in Chamonix

A confident skier and a beginner does not make a good coupling for a ski holiday in the Alps. One wants to scale the mountain highs and zip down with the wind. The other topples over awkwardly on the skis with every second snow plough.

Yet at Club Med this combo of holidaymaker works. The skiing (and snowboarding) experience that Club Med offers is sensational. It caters for all ski abilities from beginner, through to intermediate and seasoned.

How does it work?

Skiers are grouped into lessons of a maximum of 12 people based on ability. The groups retain the same instructor for the week who moves onto more difficult slopes as you improve. The groups travel across the domain, so there is no risk of boredom. Those that improve faster than the rest of the group can join a more competent group and those that need extra coaching will be able to get it.

None of us in the beginners group had previous ski experience, yet by day five we were able to descend

Summer Holiday Destinations For Singles Holidays

Holidaying as a solo traveller offers a unique opportunity to see and experience the world in the way you choose, to enjoy those special interest holidays with like-minded souls and to make long-lasting friendships that endure perhaps for a lifetime. And when joining a package tour with a specialist solo travel agency you won’t have to go it alone or pay a single supplement.

Hisaronu, Turkey

The all-inclusive three-star Hotel Era in Hisaronu Turkey is a small, family-run hotel exclusively for single travellers. It has just 20 en suite rooms and guests enjoy sole occupancy of a double room. It has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and the focus of the hotel is the super swimming pool, surrounded by good-sized terraces with sun-beds for everyone. Authentic Turkish touches include the wood panelling in the bar, the hubble bubble pipe and the hammocks hanging in the gardens. A short stroll leads to small shops, bars and restaurants and a short dolmus ride leads to the Blue Lagoon.

Things To See On The Costa del Sol

Just over two hours flight from the UK, the Costa del Sol is the popular short-haul option with more than 300 days of sunshine a year and everything you could want for in a holiday. Nowhere else on earth can you find beaches, history, culture, sports, fantastic cities, the great outdoors and even skiing, all in one compact destination!

Kathryn Stride gives her run-down of some of the fantastic activities to try in the Costa del Sol for your next holiday.

Skiing and sunbathing in one place

We all associate the Costa del Sol with the sparkling Mediterranean Sea lapping against fantastic sandy beaches, and it’s certainly a great place to soak up the sun, immerse yourself in the relaxed atmosphere, and enjoy the world-renowned nightlife. However, what many people don’t know is that Andalucía as a region also offers Europe’s Southern-most ski resort, with great skiing from December to the beginning of May.

This winter wonderland is just a stone’s throw from the Costa del Sol and on a good day you can even see

Going to Mexico for Some R and R

When I started thinking about taking a family trip to Mexico, I knew that I wanted it to be a nice and quiet trip. There are times where we go on vacation and we jam pack it with all kinds of activities, but I was just not in the mood for that this time around. We have had a stressful year because of health issues, and I just wanted to look at luxury vacation homes in Cabo for the six of us. I wanted my husband and I to go along with our three children and my mom.

I knew that it was going to have to include something for the kids to do, which is why Mexico was perfect for us.

Exploring the Highlights of Japan

Japan is cherry blossom, and Japan is Hello Kitty. It’s neon signs, sushi, and it’s Sony, Nikon, and Nintendo. But beyond the brands and stereotypes which Japan exports, you will find a culturally rich, and a surprisingly diverse, country of fascinating sites to explore.

Tokyo – a megacity

The chances are that any visitor will fly into Tokyo, a mega-megacity with nearly 40 million people living in the metropolitan area. The skyscrapers soar towards the heaven, and the city glitters with lights, but behind the modern veneer is a city with a long and illustrious history.

The Imperial Palace, still home to the Emperor of Japan, sits amongst formal gardens; there are numerous Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples; and Tokyo National Museum and the city’s other galleries have world-class collections on show.

Allow time to walk around the city. Seek out the various shopping centres such as Ameyoko Arcade, the city’s only open-air pedestrianised market and the shopping centre at Hachiman-dori for its enjoyable mix of high and low end shopping.

Hakone – Shinto and Fuji

From Tokyo you can reach Hakone on a day trip: it’s a little over an hour’s drive

Places Experience the Northern Lights in Autumn

When most people think of the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), they imagine frozen lakes and several feet of snow. But, believe it or not, there’s a better time to go and hunt that once in a lifetime experience – autumn.

Why Northern Lights in Autumn?

For a start, it’s usually much warmer than the deep artic winter, so you won’t normally have to get kitted out in snowsuits or ski-gear. There is a chance of some snow and it’s not going to be tropical, but jeans and a heavy jacket will usually do the trick – maybe with a thermal vest underneath if things get a little chillier.

Most importantly for the avid Aurora Borealis hunter is that the snow clouds have not yet gathered in earnest and so the skies are much clearer. Cloud cover is the enemy, so the better the weather the better your chances of a sighting.

The lights are at their most frequent in late autumn, but the later you go the more the risk your hike will turn into a snowshoe trek so it’s your call.

September 21st is the start of the season so any time

Visit The Lanzarote

Lanzarote‘s year round clement climate is the primary draw for most visitors to the island. Even in the depths of a northern European winter, the temperature rarely falls below 21°C. Add in over ninety great beaches and an abundance of high quality hotels and holiday villas and Lanzarote has all the right ingredients for the perfect beach holiday.

But this speck of Spain off the coast of Africa has more to offer than just bucket and spades alone. Thanks to the influence of the Lanzarote-born artist and architect Cesar Manrique, this little island is packed with a series of unique tourist attractions that are well worth a visit. Whatever the weather.

Timanfaya Volcano Park

The Volcano Park at Timanfaya is Lanzarote’s number one tourist attraction. Drawing nearly I million visitors last year alone. And it’s little wonder as the landscape here is literally out of this world.

This eerie and haunting terrain was created by the world’s longest ever volcanic eruption, which lasted six years from 1730 to 1736. The eruption buried, what was once the most fertile farm land on the island, under a sea of lava.

Today the

The Luxurious Europa 2 Cruises Ship

“You are the chosen one,” said Ulf Wolter, the fair-haired captain, ofEuropa 2 cruise ship. He was pointing at me. “Return here to the bridge at 6pm tomorrow night just before we set sail and I’ll show you what to do”.

That was an enticing offer, especially on a ship as stylish as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises‘ newest offering. Having a tour of the bridge is one thing, every passenger can have one, but pressing the captain’s klaxon is quite another. In the meantime though, I had a medium-sized luxury ship to explore.

This was a four-night cruise, sailing from Lisbon to Lanzarote, calling at Morocco’s Casablanca and Agadir with a day at sea. It was hardly any time at all, but enough to sometimes forget that I was on a liner. The bright décor, open spaces and easy decorum reminded me of times I had spent in luxury five star hotels.

This ship, probably the most expensive liner around, is not the largest – at most it will carry 500 passengers – but it offers a huge amount of space. Their motto is “luxury is being able to waste space” and the space often show-cases works

Hotel Baths With A Amazing View

With designer bathrooms quickly becoming a highly lusted-after interior design trend, the world’s most luxurious hotels have unveiled their own bath time eye candy. Imagine sinking into some bubbles looking out across an azure sea, or enjoying a soak with a chilled glass of champagne over a cityscape? Look no further as we round up our top ten hotel baths with a view.

1. 12 Apostles Hotel & Spa, South Africa

Forget whale watching from the hotel’s Leopard Bar Terrace and ignore the private cinema –Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is all about the bath-time views. The hotel is flanked by The Twelve Apostles Mountain Range and the majestic Table Mountain, proving the most gob-smacking vistas of the UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site as you soak in the tub.

2. InterContinental, Hong Kong

Hong Kong is famed for its dramatic skyline, boasting an impressive array of skyscrapers, surrounding mountains, beach-fringed coastlines and Victoria Harbour, which separates Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. The really city bursts to life in the evenings though, as the imposing buildings light up in an array of colours and the harbour plays host to the daily Symphony of Lights. Where better to watch than from

Climbing Gunung Merapi Southeast Asia

Every now and then life pulls the rug from under your feet and leaves you lying on your back – this sibling-esque prank is often referred to as a ‘reality check’. Dangling off the side of Merapi with one hand on a fern root and the other on the arm of Khalid was my mine. I had taken too lightly to climbing the most active volcano in Southeast Asia, and when the path I was walking on suddenly gave way, it turned out to be a mentally draining, yet emotionally rewarding challenge.

Known to locals as Fire Mountain, Gunung Merapi sits on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta in Indonesia. There have been regular eruptions since 1548, with the most recent in 2010 where 30 people died.

Our walk was to start at 4:30am, under night at Desa Deles, the ranger’s hut at 1,300 metres. By 10am that day I’d be up 2,930 metres high on the summit of Merapi.

The smell of sulfur was in the air, and our torches pierced through a feint haze that slid up the cliffside, our visibility was low and we had to mind shrub, after fern when

Beachside Holiday Resort in Alanya Turkey

If Turkey has a an exotic version of a bucket and spade seaside resort, Alanya on its south eastern coast is it. Its lovely white sand beaches are lapped by the warm waters of the Mediterranean sea and overlooked by the towering Taurus mountains. And as you follow its coastal curve and meander inward too, the mood perceptively changes from historic to bizarre, lively and amusingly, a little cheesy too.

Along the harbour are myriad restaurants, some named after celebrities such as James Dean and Elvis and an open-air segment of cafés, dubbed the tea rooms, that look onto the tens of moored ships. Some of these are private yachts and some take tourists out to sea. Smaller ones dressed in yellows, reds and orange bob on their laurels, offering a colourful eyeful against the deep blue of the sea.

One sun-scorched afternoon, I found myself on the Sea Angel, a wooden pirate ship that looked twee with its a statue of a a silver angel. With Kapten Arif at the helm I was was about to spend four-hours with a rather large gaggle of Russian, German and Dutch tourists. Party music escaped from some overhead

Trekking Romania’s Retezat Mountains

It was the start of a three day walk into Romania’s Retezat Mountains. Nik, my son-in-law, and I were going with Iulian Panescu, a mountain guide and photographer. Instinctively I’m not keen on being guided in the mountains, preferring to do my own thing. However, I began to consider the advantages of being with somebody with local know-how after learning of the aggressive Romanian sheep dogs. Iulian knows what to say and do with such creatures like a Transylvanian Crocodile Dundee. Also, local maps are not always reliable.

For some time we had been wanting to visit these mountains whose 80 lakes seem to mirror the sky. The Retezat region was Romania’s first national park and has over twenty peaks higher than 2000 metres (over 6,500 feet). It is strictly protected both nationally and internationally.

We strode upwards on a path into an autumnal mountain forest. Leaves, like free-fall butterflies, fluttered downward as we zig-zagged between tangled roots, colourful fungi and scattered rocks. We settled into our stride.

After six kilometres of walking, we spotted Gentiana Cabin, our temporary abode. I regard all mountain huts as places of undeniable charm, simply because of their very

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Over 20 years ago, when Britain became linked to the rest of the European rail network, the prospect of London to Venice on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express became a reality with a through rail journey. This is a step back into the nostalgic past of the 1930’s experiencing the opulence of Rene Lalique glass carvings, marquetry wood engravings and sumptuous seating and to-die-for silver service meals.

So I booked on the first departure of the season’s 2016 Venice Simplon-Orient-Express from London’s Victoria station bound for Venice. I knew the UK stage of the journey would be on board a former Pullman (similar to the Golden Arrow) with the second stage through France, Germany, and through the Alps to Switzerland and then into Italy.

Imagine my surprise, horror and disappointment big time when having arrived at Folkestone on board the Belmond British Pullman, it was “everyone off”, then onto a bus for a drive to the Channel Tunnel terminal, off the bus, a walk through Passport Control, back onto the bus via a car park and then the bus drove into a shuttle train and onwards through the Tunnel. Inside the bus and once at Calais, it was

Things To Know Before A Vacation To Ho Chi Minh City

1. Flooding

Ho Chi Minh City is not immune to flooding. I went to Saigon in June, during the rainy season, and although it only rained once during my stay, the downpour was heavy enough to cause a bit of flooding. Luckily, a mall was nearby so I stayed there until the rain stopped and the floodwaters subsided.

2. Transportation

It is easy to blow your budget on transportation costs. I made the mistake of hiring a cyclo (a three-wheel bicycle taxi), and was charged 300,000 VND for my city tour.  I was not scammed because I agreed on the price but we only went to 4 sights, which were fairly close to one another. Walking or taking a taxi would have been a better alternative.

3. Currency confusion

The currency in Vietnam is the dong. However different Vietnamese dong notes look similar and one can easily get confused. I was giving a tip to a massage therapist and was meant to give her 60,000 VND but handed her 540,000 VND instead. The girl realized my mistake and handed me back the 500,000 note, which I promptly replaced

Staycation On One Of Britain’s Fabulous Beaches

Weymouth Beach, Dorset, England

Weymouth is a charming family seaside resort located in the rural county of Dorset. The gently curving beach with its soft sand and clean cool water, attracts thousands of tourists every year whatever the weather.

The beach is often buzzing with donkey rides, fun fairs, and Punch and Judy shows. Everything you gaze upon is quintessentially British.

There is also ample opportunity for retail therapy, and there are plenty of charming cafés and restaurants to choose from without the threat of burning a hole in your pocket.

The best way to travel to Weymouth is to fly to Southampton Airport and then take a train direct to Weymouth.

Stay at the family-friendly Best Western Hotel Rembrandt. It has a spa, restaurants and a huge swimming pool and a good base to explore the Dorset coast.

Eat at the art deco styled Italian restaurant Al Molo which has a fantastic location on the pier. For something more family friendly head for Manbo’s bistro. They have children’s menu and fast service so the hungry kids don’t stay that way long.

Oxwich Bay, Gower Peninsula, South Wales

You have to look to Wales for what may be the

Hotel Rooms With Amazing Views In The World

1. Oliver’s Travels, Tamarind House, St Lucia

Oliver’s Travels, Tamarind House, St Lucia

Made from local stone with high greenheart ceilings, and Barbados tiled floors, this exceptionally large Caribbean house offers the rare luxury of space, privacy and sensational views of the Pitons. The 640sqft master bedroom is furnished with a beautiful antique king size four-poster bed, a hand carved standing cheval mirror and private terrace. From the bed, the view of Piton is framed by bougainvillea climbing up the stone walls. The main house has three bedrooms and three bathrooms, while the separate cottage is the master bedroom suite with its own living room, kitchen, dressing area, marble bathroom, and terrace.

Prices start from £3,145 per week.

2. PurePods, Canterbury / Kaikoura, New Zealand

PurePods, Canterbury / Kaikoura, New Zealand

Made completely of glass from roof to floor, guests can sleep under the dazzling stars of the Southern Cross and awake to pure New Zealand native bush. With sliding glass doors for hot weather and bio-fuel fires for winter months, the Pure Pod offers unique year-round nature experiences. Reached only by a

Family friendly skiing at La Plagne France

La Plagne, in the Tarentaise Valley of the French Alps, is probably the world’s most popular family friendly ski resort. Many are attracted by its vast ski area and its myriad of beginner and intermediate runs and the choice of affordable apartments and villas.

The resort was born in the 1960s, with a bold new post war vision of giant Alpine complexes to provide affordable ski holidays, but these ended up no bigger than rabbit warrens amid vast acreages of linked ski slopes.

Decades later, these tiny apartments were knocked into larger units and nine satelite villages were developed. One of which is former farming village, Montchavin – my base for the duration of my stay.

In recent years La Plagne has been connected by a spectacular cable car with neighbouring Les Arcs – the Vanoise Express. It spans a valley that is 1,800m wide and 380m deep and forms the vast ski and snowboard playground marketed as Paradiski.

It sits between enormous linked ski areas – the Espace Killy (Val d’Isère-Tignes) and the Trois Vallees, which comprises resorts including Meribel and Courchevel. At its heart is the original, 45 years-old development now known as Plagne Centre.

Its great advantage was (and

Easy To Get To From The UK Destinations

1. Lanzarote, The Canaries

The island of Lanzarote is part of a clutch of islands called The Canaries – that make up the Spanish archipelago and is ideal for beach lovers. Peurto Del Carmen is notorious for its heady nightlife, and those that prefer a bit more quiet and elegance should head for the beautiful beaches at Famara and Papagayo.

Putting aside the beaches, the volcanic island of Lanzarote puts on quite a show away from the coastline too.

The stretches of black volcanic rock landscape is trimmed by a chain of multi-hued mountains only broken by the green of the odd cactus plant that has managed to flourish.

The dark shades of the landscape offer a sensational contrast with the low-rise white-washed towns that have sprouted up along the coastline. There is the odd dash of colour courtesy of painted window panes usually, green or brown but overall the island has been protected by the kind of tourism that demands high rise architecture.

This is thanks to the initiative taken by celebrated artist and designer Cesar Manrique who insisted on maintaining

Exotic Winter Sun Breaks From The UK

1. South Africa: Johannesburg and Cape Town

The passing of the late Nelson Mandela has put the world’s focus on one of South Africa’s major cities – Johannesburg. Also known as Jo’burg or Jozi, the big city vibe is discernible. Life is fast-paced and buzzes with cafes, theatres and a burgeoning art scene especially in the cultural districts of Newtown and Braamfontein. Indeed what was once a no-go zone is now a sought destination by tourists who enjoy its a stunning skyscape.

Since South Africa has hosted the world cup in 2010 the city and the nearby township of Soweto, Mandela’s birthplace have been regenerated. This is where the Apartheid Museum and the Old Fort Prison complex that held Mahatma Gandhi and Mandela captive can be seen.

From here, it’s just a short domestic flight to South Africa’s mother city, Cape Town – possibly the most beautiful in the land. To see it all take a trip to the top of Table Mountain – named so because a flat layer of cloud unfurls over its top) and from their choose your favourite beach. An hour’s drive away is the winelands grown out of

Trekking in Fann Mountains Northwestern Tajikistan

There is a place where the mountains stretch up to touch the sky, turquoise lakes shimmer like jewels against a dusty backdrop, and — so they say — Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander the Great, rises from the deep, dark waters on a full moon night, and grazes on the shore. History and legend here are intimately entwined, but one thing is for certain: the views alone will take your breath away in Tajikistan.

Where is Tajikistan?

Tajikistan is one of those funny places we know exists, but few people could actually place on the map. Nestled between China, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan it’s a small, mountainous state which was historically of great significance — Alexander the Great built cities here, it was central to the Silk Road, and the Great Game was played out along its rivers and passes — but in recent years it has fallen, undeservedly, into obscurity.

It’s all about the trekking

Thankfully, a new generation of trekkers, climbers, and other adventure seekers have decided it’s time for all that to change, and the Fann Mountains in northwestern Tajikistan look set to become one of the wildest and most exciting travel