Nick was so lucky to have the opportunity to visit Santa in his Lapland home in December. The whole trip was magical from the moment we landed in a very frosty Ivalo Airpor.
Santas elves were on hand in the luggage hall and were event travelling on the luggage belts to entertain us all. I’ve never seen such a greeting, and made waiting for luggage so entertaining. The kids faces were just magical.
A short coach journey to collect our, artic thermal suits was spent singing Christmas carols and getting into the festive spirit. (I would highly recommend layered clothing for this trip !)
I was staying at the Star Artic Hotel.
Located in a unique spot on top of the Kaunispää mountain with spectacular view over Saariselkä. The hotel is an architectural masterpiece, blending modern design with the surrounding nature’s beauty.
After settling into the hotel we were taken on a magical journey to the Aurora Wilderness Dinner where you get the chance to see Santa’s Igloos and try out some the snow activities, such as tobogganing, kick sled and Crazy Reindeer.
The following morning an amazing snow mobile adventure taking in the wonderful scenery of the artic. The kids are on a slay and stop for some games We are then taken back to the Start Artic for a hearty warming lunch.
The afternoon is just filled with magic, and I don’t want to spoil the surprises ! So I shall be a little short in detail here. However it is truly magical and something I won’t forget, the children are truly in awe.
I was lucky enough to see the Northern Lights from the Star Artic – truly a wonderful natural event.
The following morning, was at leisure and I ventured into town on the complimentary shuttle bus, with plenty of gift shops and stopping off for a warming hot chocolate. Alternatively you could choose to go on some on optional activities at a small cost. Santas Elves will be more than happy to assist.
Sadly it was time to return home from this magical adventure.
We asked Beverley what her most romantic journey would be, and we can see why she answered the Venice Simplon Orient Express.
The legendary Venice Simplon-Orient-Express offers an overnight travel experience unlike any other. As you board you step back into a more gracious, elegant age where your personal cabin steward, attends to your every comfort and will show you to your private Twin Cabin boasting gleaming wood marquetry, polished brass, soft towels and crisp linen. Your cabin provides a restful retreat offering panoramic views of ever changing landscapes as the train travel through the Swiss, Austrian and Italian Alps. Dining on board is divine; start with an aperitif in Bar Car ‘3674’, famous for its delicious cocktails, then on to one of the three restored dining cars where softly muted lighting enhances the relaxed mood, and fine linen, sparkling silverware and superb crystal set the scene for a gastronomic experience to remember; all created by the Executive Chef and his team in the train’s kitchen.
Normally, customers from the UK book the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express from London to Venice and return to the UK by air, but we can of course book this most luxurious of trains as a return journey, London-Venice-London. Or, you may prefer to start your holiday with a flight to Venice and end your holiday extravagantly by returning to the UK on the train. Whichever you prefer simply let our reservations team organise your itinerary for you. Please note that itinerary details are correct at time of brochure printing, however they may be subject to alteration. For guests who begin their train journey in London, you will board the art deco carriages of its sister train, Belmond British Pullman, for a silver service brunch as the train makes its way to Folkestone before boarding a private coach for your channel crossing.
When to Go
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express operates in the Continent every year between mid-March to mid-November; it is a delightful way to travel at any time during this season, and we’re happy to book either a return journey on the train for you, or the outbound or return journey combined with flights either from London to Venice, or Venice to London. We can tailor make your holiday to your own personal requirements, simply let us know the dates that you would like to travel and your choice of hotel/s.
As the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express stops in Verona shortly before its arrival in Venice you can alight here to enjoy four days in this historic city and the world-famous operas in the Arena di Verona.
London to Venice Itinerary
Depart London mid-morning on either a Thursday or Sunday aboard the Belmond British Pullman and arrive in Venice in the late afternoon the next day (either Friday or Monday); in good time to settle in to your hotel and relax before your evening meal. As this brochure goes to print, trains are scheduled to depart from London Victoria station at 10am, and arrive at 5.25pm the following day at Santa Lucia station in Venice. However, timings may be subject to change and will be confirmed on your travel documents.
As you board the gleaming carriages of the Belmond British Pullman train at London Victoria station, simply sit back and enjoy a silver service brunch and a Bellini cocktail as you make your way to the south coast. On arrival at Folkestone your hostesses escort you onto the coach transfer shuttle service through the Channel Tunnel to France.
Once in France, at Calais Ville, the immaculate carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train awaits your arrival. After settling comfortably into your private cabin, you have time to relax and then dress for dinner. You can never be overdressed on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train. For dinner, we ask that men wear a suit and tie and women dress in smart attire, but many guests like to don black tie or evening dress for the occasion. You’ll no doubt wish to sample an aperitif in the Bar Car ‘3674’ or two before making your way to one of the three magnificent restaurant cars where you will be served a delicious four-course evening meal prepared by one of the many skilled French chefs. Afterwards you may wish to linger in the Bar Car ‘3674’, enjoying a coffee or after-dinner drink and listening to the sounds of the baby grand piano. And when you are eventually ready to retire, you’ll be delighted to return to your cabin which will have been transformed into a cosy bedroom by your Cabin Steward.
After a relaxing night, you’ll awake to the magnificent scenery of the Swiss Alps as Continental breakfast is served to you in your cabin. Spend the morning in the Bar Car or in your cabin, chatting to fellow guests over coffee before a leisurely three-course lunch which is served in another of the beautiful restaurant cars. While away the afternoon with a visit to the on board boutique to purchase souvenirs or simply relax in your cabin and admire the passing scenery as the train travels through the Italian Dolomites. Later, afternoon tea is served in your cabin and all too soon it is time to prepare to disembark as the train crosses the Venetian Lagoon and pulls into Venice’s Santa Lucia station.
Kelly was invited to visit the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, courtesy of Gold Medal Travel2 Fam School. A hotel that stood out for her from the selection she viewed was Zoetry, a Wellness and Spa Resort in the upscale Rose Hall neighbourhood of Montego Bay!
I do like a small intimate hotel, so was very keen to visit Zoetry – a gorgeous boutique, haven of a hotel in Montego Bay, based in the Rose Hall neighbourhood.
From entering the lobby it is clear that Zoetry is 5 star, and is a beautiful beachfront sanctuary, claiming to take ‘all inclusive’ to another level – where everything is included. I was greeted with a cucumber fresh juice and a cold flannel. Sadly, I wasn’t unpacking here, this was just an afternoon visit, but if I was staying I would have been allocated a butler – as all guests are!
Situated on a small private stretch of white sand, this place is a world away from daily distractions, but surprisingly is only 5 mins from shopping, dining and golf! Being a wellness and spa resort this place is as you would expect – it primarily has an adult vibe (I felt), it’s environmentally friendly, serene and relaxing, it has architecture which is designed to embody the holistic approach of Zoetry Wellness and Spa resorts with suites situation in buildings named – Wood and Water, Bamboo and Blue Mountain.
Although peaceful and quiet, a day at Zoetry could be typically filled as follows – with an 8.30am yoga session on the pier, or with a guided snorkelling tour, a post breakfast Pilates class or by hopping on the complimentary 10am shuttle bus to the shops at Rose Hall. After a little retail therapy – the guests often check into the Spa with its impressive Ying and Yang shaped pools before relaxing ahead of an evening of a live performer and an evening of Jamaican dining, either in-suite or in one of the hotels three restaurants – all offering healthy, organic as well as gluten-free and vegetarian dishes.
With 49 luxurious ocean front suites, some with swim out rooms this is definitely worth a visit. It’s for those who don’t like loud music around the pool or crowds- it’s the perfect hideaway.
I visited Dunns River Falls with Jamaica Tours Ltd, suitable for young and old. In the heart of Ocho Rios it is one of Jamaica’s national treasures! With a 600 foot climb, rapidly moving water, astonishing scenery and unforgettable memories to last a life time – this place is a must see and climb! Remember to take a waterproof case for your mobile!
Dolphin Cove is also in Ocho Rios, an opportunity to get up close and personal with Dolphins (a Dolphin Swim can also been obtained at Moon Palace). A 40 min experience to swim, pat and stroke dolphin and have your photo taken!
Scotchies restaurant is a nondescript roadside joint but famously it is well worth a visit for those like me who like to eat where the locals eat when on holiday. It is on the outskirts of Ocho Rios, just a short taxi ride away. You will be served Jamaican jerked chicken and jerked pork and experience a real Jamaican atmosphere, it’s rustic, no frills, outdoors and very casual – you can eat with your fingers or plastic cutlery – take your pick. It can’t be all 5-star but it can be real and it’s fun to experience genuine local cuisine. I say eat where the locals eat!
At Paradise Cove, opalescent sands, crystal-clear lagoons and palm-studded resorts await on the ethereal Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, making it the perfect romantic retreat for 2020. Boasting an exclusive adult-only offering, we recommend the recently refurbished Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel for the ultimate intimate escape, cocooned in tropical garden surroundings with panoramic vistas across the ocean. Read on to discover our top five reasons to visit this luxurious resort
Alluring accommodation – Newly renovated in summer 2019, this exquisite boutique resort offers a collection of 75 elegant guestrooms nestled around the property’s sheltered natural cove. Guests can select from four room categories which boast chic Colonial-style interiors, opulent fourposter beds and a spacious terrace or balcony. For a honeymoon or special occasion, upgrade to a Senior Suite and enjoy a glass of bubbles from the comfort of your
Shoreside Serenity – Lose yourself in paradise with that special someone and experience a sense of total tranquility as you unwind beneath the resort’s fragrant coconut trees. Enjoy a soothing swim in the calm waters of the cove. Alternatively, luxuriate at one of the secluded Love Nests dotted along the oceanfront path, offering captivating glimpses of the ethereal Northern Islands. Round off your day with a dip in the shimmering infinity pool as you watch the sun set over the water.
Divine Dine Around – Foodies will be spoiled for choice with the resort’s mouth-watering Dine Around programme, available for guests staying half board or above. Start your day with a taste of Mauritius at The Dining Room, then choose from three exquisite eateries at dinnertime with one additional restaurant available for a small supplement. Indulgent inclusions await for guests staying on the Premium All Inclusive plan, with a wide variety of beverages including sparkling wine available by the glass, plus a weekly rum tasting demonstration.
Perfectly positioned for exploring beyond the beach, the Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel is conveniently located near the lively Grand Baie area, ideal for those looking to connect with the local culture. The island’s capital of Port Louis is also well worth a visit, offering a plethora of colourful shops, bars and restaurants less than half an hour from the resort. If you’ve got green fingers, be sure to stop off at Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden, where you can spot giant water lilies and soak up the aromas of the fragrant spice garden
Magical moments for two – Spend quality time together in paradise as you indulge in some of the resort’s extra special ‘You&Me Moments’. Make memories guaranteed to last a lifetime on a private sunset catamaran cruise, sipping fizz as you watch the day draw to a close over the ocean. Experience a sense of sublime relaxation as you’re transported to another galaxy on a unique stargazing experience, complete with beanbags, lanterns and tranquil background music. Or, why not choose to get away from it all with a trip to the tropical islands of Bernache and Ambre on your own private pirogue?
Experience carefree days and star-studded nights in Mauritius, a nation blessed with an alluring mix of pristine beaches, lavish resorts and a vibrant local culture. For an escape which is luxurious and action-packed in equal measure, we recommend the new Lagoon Attitude as a must-visit destination in 2020, nestled along the balmy north coast of Mauritius. Read on to discover our top five reasons to visit this incredible
new adult-only resort
All about the All Inclusive – Discover a range of gourmet delights with the resort’s exceptional Dine-Around experience, boasting five restaurants, one quirky Mauritian street food outlet and three chic bars. Enjoy unlimited access to three eateries for lunch and dinner, alongside an array of local beverages and tasty picnic baskets for those heading out on an excursion. Sip a carefully curated cocktail as you watch the sun set at Seabreeze Bar, or head to the seafood restaurant for an à la carte seaside culinary experience.
Otentik experiences – Immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant culture with Attitude Hotel’s Otentik experiences, designed to allow guests to live like locals and discover a range of hidden delights. Sample Mauritian snacks every day at Taba-j, a street food cart serving up freshly made treats. Browse colourful wares at the hotel’s weekly ‘Made in Mauritius’ market, and unwind to the backdrop of authentic Mauritian music and sega shows. For a truly memorable experience, head out of the resort for the evening and join a local family for dinner, enjoying mouth-watering home cooking and some of the world’s warmest hospitality.
Serene suites and glamorous guestrooms – Choose from five categories of stylish accommodation, all boasting a nautical-inspired design and a stylish balcony or terrace. Whether you opt a seafront or poolside location, a serene ambiance and dazzling tropical vistas are guaranteed. Celebrate a special occasion with an upgrade to a lavish Whirlpool Suite and marvel at your captivating surroundings as you sip fizz in an opulent Jacuzzi from the comfort of your own private terrace
Engaging with the environment – Striving for environmental excellence, this eco-chic hotel has been certified Travelife Gold for its commitment to sustainable travel via the Green Attitude Foundation. Not only does the resort work to protect nearby mangroves and conserve water, but it also operates a Marine Lab and education centre. Here, guests can learn more about their natural surroundings and how best to respect and care for them during their stay.