Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

2017 is a big year for Samoa. Not only does it mark the 55th anniversary of its independence, it also celebrates the International Year of Sustainable Tourism as designated by the United Nations.

As a small island state, Samoa's ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to environmental challenges brought on by climate change and natural disasters and it recognizes that sustainably managed tourism development plays a key role in addressing these threats through enhanced climate change adaptation and risk reduction, strengthened community resilience, and environmental conservation.

“Tourism is a key driver of social and economic development and sustainable tourism is at the core of what we do” said Sonja Hunter, CEO of the Samoa Tourism Authority. Hunter also highlighted that Samoa continues to be a regional leader in sustainable tourism and advocates for ongoing destination stewardship among tourism businesses and visitors. Further added Hunter, “Samoa was the first South Pacific destination to establish its sustainable tourism indicators and it was fitting that we were part collective efforts at the United Nations which ultimately lead to this year being designated the International Year for Sustainable Tourism for Development”.

With an average temperature of 27 degrees, Samoa offers the ultimate and authentic South Pacific experience. From powder soft beaches to warm tropical seas and colourful coral reefs alive with marine life. The rugged, lush mountainous rainforest interiors reveal endless wildlife, waterfalls and lagoons. Samoa is a haven for those wanting a relaxing holiday or honeymoon complete with spas, pampering and secluded beaches. For the more adventurous, Samoa offers hiking trails, cycling routes, world class snorkelling and diving as well as some of the best surf locations in the South Pacific.

Governed by Fa'a Samoa (the Samoan way), the Samoan culture and way of life is over 3000 years old and follows complex cultural code. Fa'a Samoa is a guideline for every Samoan on how to lead their lives by celebrating and embracing traditional values, their culture and environment. It is an integral part of Samoan life, evident in the time-honoured traditions, warm hospitality, as well as the cultural practices and customs of the Samoan people.

Get a skinful of ale in a very different way with a visit to a newly opened beer spa on Iceland's north coast. The Bjórböðin Beerspa & Restaurant offers spa treatments in Kambala wood hot tubs filled with beer, water, hops and yeast – and each of the tubs comes with its own beer tap with ales provided by the associated Bruggsmiðjan microbrewery.

Hour-long soaking spa sessions are available for one or two people, with prices starting from 6,900 kroner (£50) for a single tub, 13,000 kroner (£93) for a double and 20,000 kroner (£143) for an outside hot tub offering views over Hrísey island, mountains and Þorvalds valley.

Bjórböðin can be visited as part of Magnetic North Travel's week-long Circular Self-Drive Iceland itinerary. Starting at Iceland's Keflavik International Airport outside Reykjavik, the trip includes visits to Gulfoss Waterfall, the black sand beaches of Vik, the eastern fjords, lava formations and Europe's largest national park, Vatnajokull.

Guests can also explore the highlights of the Lake Myvatn area, including the mystical volcanic formations at Dimmuborgir, the pseudo craters at Skutustadir and the Krafla volcanic area, before driving via Godafoss waterfall en route to Akureyri, the charming 'capital' of North Iceland. More adventurous travellers can swap the car for a 4X4 experience to the uninhabited interior of Iceland via the Kjolur highland track.

With the summer holidays at the forefront of everyone’s mind PLAYMOBIL have released some new sets that will keep little ones busy all summer long.

The new toys, now on the shelves of toy shops around the UK, provide youngsters with hours of new and exciting imaginative play.

For every child who has dreamed of becoming a princess, the new Princess Castle range provides the perfect space for children to let their imagination run free. Bring the Royal Couple to the castle in style with their horse drawn carriage, or throw a birthday party for friends with the Royal Birthday Party set. There is lots of fun to be had in the Royal Residence with a range of different sets for you to collect, from getting changed in the Dressing Room with Salon, enjoying a Masked Ball or looking after the baby in the Royal Nursery. There’s so much to do, and little ones will be kept entertained for days with this new range.

Budding teachers and eager students will fall in love with the new Limited Edition School sets. Teachers can take charge in the Schoolhouse, with a teacher and two children included in the set, plus a classroom board for marking and wiping. Get students to and from the classroom with the School Van, which comes including another two pupils and bus driver.

Adding to the already popular Fi?ures collection this month sees the twelfth set in the series with the arrival of 24 new figures. These are the perfect treat for youngsters about to embark on their summer holidays.

Jamie Dickinson, Marketing Manager from PLAYMOBIL, said: “Ensuring children are able to take part in free play, unrestricted and uninstructed, is extremely important to PLAYMOBIL. Our new ranges, sets and figures offer the chance for youngsters to really enjoy an escape to their own world, where they can create lands and characters going on their own adventure. And with the summer holidays on the horizon, there is no better time to let the kid’s imagination run free with these and all our PLAYMOBIL toys.”

These new PLAYMOBIL ranges can be purchased online or at toy stockists across the country now.

With the number of UK travellers looking to learn something new on holiday continuing to rise, Lisbon is the perfect place to combine a relaxing beach holiday or city break with a learning experience. With the guidance of local experts, visitors can decide whether they want to discover the secrets of Portuguese gastronomy, learn to horse ride or take to the waves in one of the world's top surfing destinations.

Here are some of the enlightening experiences on offer:

Traditional Portuguese Cooking

Visitors can explore Lisbon's rich gastronomic history with Portugal on a Plate's food and wine tours and culinary walks. Local cooking experts share their knowledge and passion for Portuguese ingredients and regional flavours, as well as revealing what shaped Portugal's food culture, and how Portuguese gastronomy has influenced the world. Guests will learn how to order in a traditional Lisbon restaurant and how shop to locally, including the chance to pick up some great ingredients to take home.    

For visitors wanting a real “hands on” cooking experience, the five-hour “Cooking with 6 Hands” tour is the perfect choice. Starting at the famous Mercado da Ribeira, guests will choose the catch of the day before moving on to work alongside innovative chefs Tiago Feio, David Eyguesier and Hugo Brito in their respective restaurant kitchens Leopold, Os Gazeteiros and Boi Cavalo.  Finally, guests will get the opportunity to taste the final meal and other delicacies that they have helped to prepare during this unique food experience.

Fado Performance Workshop

Haunting and poetic, fado is considered as one of the purest expressions of Lisbon's 'soul', and is believed to have originated from the sorrow felt by the sailors and their families who were separated by Portugal's explorations around the globe in the 19th century. The narrow streets of Alfama, the city's oldest district and most associated with this iconic song, is home to numerous “fado houses” as well as the Fado Museum, which is the best place to discover everything about this unique art form. Here, visitors can take part in a one-hour group workshop, which concludes with participants singing their own fados – no embarrassment allowed.

If they are confident enough, then visitors can then head to the Mouraria neighbourhood, next to Alfama, and try one of the houses offering “fado vadio” or 'amateur', where anybody can stand up and start singing!

Horse Riding

Set in a vast pinewood forest in Sintra, and certified by the Portuguese Equestrian Federation, “O Paddock” trains riders of all ages and skill levels, from international athletes to amateur riders. With a capacity for more than 100 students, the club also offers the opportunity to explore the region from a different point of view. Its location makes every ride calm and picturesque, as well as giving visitors the opportunity to visit some of Lisbon's most historical monuments, country estates, golden sandy beaches and rugged cliffs, whilst on horseback.


The Lisbon region offers some of the best surfing in the world, and visitors do not have to be experienced to enjoy the best that the destination has to offer. From Ericeira, Europe's first World Surfing Reserve, to the Costa da Caparica and the Estoril/Cascais coast, there are locations that are perfect for beginners, intermediates and advanced surfers.   Lisbon Surf Tours, Carcavelos Surf School and Guincho Adventours all offer multi-lingual tuition for all ages and skill levels.

The first ever “Tourism Career Fair” was held during Travel Trade Maldives (TTM) at the National Art Gallery on the 13th of July 2017. More than 2000 visitors attended the tourism career fair as a major component of TTM, organisers Maldives Getaways announced on Friday.

Ibrahim Areef, Director at Maldives Getaways commented that more than 75 resorts took part in the career fair and showcased available job opportunities throughout the country. The 45 booths setup at the venue were all packed during the mere three-hour fair. “Most of the visitors were young professionals and students, while plenty of internships were given out on the spot”, he added.

Maldives Getaways concluded all components of TTM successfully on Thursday, with business contracts worth over USD 1 billion being discussed during the two-day travel trade show.

Apart from hosting the first ever tourism career fair, TTM Gala Night was hosted at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi on the 13th of July 2017, where agents and exhibitors alike got to network and connect.

Genoa's Villa Durazzo Pallavicini has been given the 'Il Parco più Bello Award' for the 'Most Beautiful Public Park in Italy', topping the list of over 1,000 parks in Italy.

Located in the neighborhood of Pegli, around half an hour to the west of Genoa's city centre, Villa Durazzo Pallavicini is a beautiful 19th century park that was renovated by the Municipality of Genoa and reopened in autumn 2016.

Built by the set designer of Genoa's opera house, the Teatro Carlo Felice, the romantic-style park is split into four fairy tale inspired theatrical 'acts', which are further divided by 'scenes' that guests can walk through.

Villa Durazzo Pallavicini was built between 1840 and 1846 at the request of Italian nobleman Marquis Ignazio Alessandro Pallavicini and is an example of an Italian romantic-style garden. The park offers panoramic views from Portofino's mountain to Capo Noli and the four 'acts' of the eight-hectare garden takes guests past lakes, streams, waterfalls, rare plants and ancient structures.

Elisa Serafini, Culture and Territorial Marketing Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Genoa, said: “This award reminds us that Genoa is rich of hidden treasures in every neighbourhood, from east to west. It's a great honour that the Villa Durazzo Pallavicini has been recognised as the most beautiful park in Italy and we hope it will encourage more people to visit the park and the city of Genoa.”

The summer holidays are almost here, and driving will play a big part for many. In fact, British holidaymakers planning to drive on holiday this year will cover a whopping 589 miles on average.

However, many are failing to prepare before they hit the road on holiday, according to new research from Enterprise Rent-A-Car among 1,000 UK motorists who plan to drive abroad this summer.

Whether they are planning to drive their own car on holiday (33%) or to drive another vehicle at their destination (60%), many don’t undertake vital checks or make sure they know where all the controls are on the vehicle.

Many using their own cars won’t undertake basic checks

In total, the research showed nearly two million British motorists will be driving abroad in their own car this year, while 1.3m will be driving their own car for a holiday in the UK. However, a quarter of these drivers will not check tyre tread depth (26%), a fifth will not check tyre pressure (19%), more than half will not check brake pads (54%), nearly a third (30%) will not check headlights, and a quarter (24%) will not check screen wash levels. The research found that those in Spain, Germany and France as a whole are twice as likely to conduct vital checks as those from the UK and Ireland.

The research also reveals that many drivers won’t be carrying essential safety equipment in their car. Nearly half (47%) do not have a torch, 32% do not have a jack, 38% do not have a wrench to remove a flat tyre, and 36% do not have a roadworthy spare tyre in the boot. Many also do not have a hi-visibility jacket (57%) or a warning triangle (47%), which are legal requirements in several European countries.

In fact, the research found that less than two-fifths of British holidaymakers (39%) regularly conduct maintenance on their car. Nearly a quarter (23%) admit they have never even opened a car bonnet, while 49% have never changed a tyre.

Not unreasonably, among those who said they do not conduct any regular vehicle maintenance, the main reasons are that modern vehicles are increasingly reliable and have sophisticated on-board technology. Increasingly, motorists rely on their vehicle to tell them if something needs checking (36%) and on the annual MOT (36%). Almost one in five (19%) ‘expect modern cars to work all the time’.

Half of those NOT driving their own cars set off without knowing where the controls are

Meanwhile, those drivers not planning to use their own car when driving on holiday are not taking the time to check the controls before they pull away.

When asked about their experience of using a vehicle which they have not driven before, almost half (45%) say they have been in a situation where they didn’t know how to operate at least one of the controls in the car while they were driving.

The research found that a third (34%) do not check how to operate the lights, 36% say they never check where the indicators are, while nearly half do not check they know how to operate the windscreen wipers or the gears (45% for both).

A fifth (19%) say they have previously been unable to get a car into reverse. Seven per cent have found themselves unable to clean an obstruction from the windscreen while driving, 11% have found themselves unable to clear rain from their windscreen and 12% were unable to demist the windscreen.

On a slightly less serious note, 11% admit they have driven in an unsuitable position because they didn’t know how to adjust the seat, and 16% have listened to music they didn’t like because they couldn’t work the radio.

This is despite the fact that two-thirds (66%) of British holidaymakers admit they find driving abroad stressful for reasons including ‘not knowing local driving rules’ (29%), ‘having to drive on the other side of the road’ (29%), and ‘not understanding road signs’ (21%).

Ben Lawson, Vice President of Rental for Europe, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, says: “Preparation is everything when it comes to driving, whether that is ensuring your car is ready for the road, or checking you know how to operate a car you are unfamiliar with if you are not planning to use your own car. Most people just want to get on with their holiday, but if you’re driving a car for the first time it’s worth taking the time to ensure you know how the controls work.

“If you are renting a vehicle, take a minute to ask the representative to show you how the controls work if anything looks different. We are here to help. And if you are planning to use your own car, it is worth making a few checks before you head off so you don’t end up stranded at the side of the road. All of our cars at Enterprise go through a 25-point safety inspection before they are handed over to the customer for additional peace of mind and a stress-free start to their holiday.”

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 22nd General Assembly scheduled to be held in Chengdu, China, has been rescheduled by its Chinese hosts. They decided to move the dates of the General Assembly forward in September so that it now ends on September 16, just prior to the UNWTO-IIPT Global Summit in Montreal on September 17-21.

This is making it very difficult for most the featured speakers scheduled for September 18 and 19 – the days of the “Official Conference of the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” – to arrive in Montreal in time for their scheduled participation.

Following consultation with Dr. Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General, it has been decided to re-schedule the UNWTO-IIPT Global Summit. It will continue to be in Montreal, however, consultations are now required with the Hotel Bonaventure – the official hotel and venue of the summit – to determine what alternative dates are available.

These dates in turn must then be compared with dates that will work with the UNWTO schedule of events.

Qatar Airways has received tremendous support globally for its recently-launched television and social media commercial titled ‘No Borders, Only Horizons’, which has been viewed by more than 54 million viewers worldwide, making it the top viral video during the last week of June.

The campaign, launched across the airline’s social media channels, was listed as the top viral video after gaining more than 54 million views. The commercial was viewed more than 50 million times on the airline’s Facebook page, with nearly 800,000 views on Twitter, more than three million views on Instagram and more than one million views on Youtube.

The success of the commercial comes from its expression of the airline’s firm belief in the idea that travel goes beyond borders and prejudice, and that it is a necessity and right for all to explore this world that we live in.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “Despite ongoing prejudice and illegal actions, Qatar Airways continues to soar high in the sky where borders and boundaries do not exist, only horizons. We are overjoyed to see that many of our loyal followers around the world have affirmed our core values, which aim at bringing people together. It is because of our diverse and global network of supporters that we continue to fly the skies together. We firmly believe travel is a right for all, and this world is all of ours to explore.

The blockade on the State of Qatar initiated on 5 June stripped Qatar Airways of the rights granted to it as an international airline. Nonetheless, our focus is on ensuring that we continue to serve our passengers by delivering the award-winning service which we are renowned for.”

Qatar Airways Senior Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications Ms. Salam Al Shawa said: “It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, that is absolutely true. We wanted to use an emotional visual medium to convey our message. This commercial eloquently expresses the sadness we feel at being separated from our passengers. Our brand message is ‘Going Places Together.’ We are together with our passengers in everything. To be forcibly separated from them is a violation of our fundamental purpose, which is to bring people together.”

The campaign highlights the common ground Qatar Airways shares with thousands of its supporters from all parts of the world, which affirms the belief that the sky has no limits. The ‘No Borders, Only Horizons’ campaign promotes the airline’s core philosophy: that the world is a better place when we explore it together.

The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) sat down with trade partners to discuss and map out a new marketing strategy that will guide the country’s tourism industry in 2018.

The deliberations took place during the mid-year marketing meeting held at the Constance Ephelia Resort at Port Launay.

The meeting brought together board members, management and staff of the Seychelles Tourism Board including the managers and marketing executives working at the various overseas tourism offices, as well as representatives of the travel trade including airlines, hotels, travel agencies among others.

It was an opportunity for stakeholders to gain a better understanding of how the various tourism markets performed during the first six months of the year and the outlook for the next half of 2017.

Those present watched two videos showcasing the performance of the top markets and the market trends based on forward bookings, as well as highlights of the promotional and educational events organized by the overseas tourism offices and their trade partners.

Adopting a new format this year, the Seychelles Tourism Board had group sessions with the private sector representatives who were given the opportunity to move around and engage with the marketing executives and managers/directors of the overseas offices.

The open discussions served to highlight the strengths and weaknesses, what improvements are required, how to bring more private sector partners onboard when it comes to the overseas promotional events, among other issues.

It must be noted that the outlining of the STB’s annual strategy, previously done at year end, has been shifted to mid-year to enable better partnership and synergies when it comes to marketing the destination.

In his opening remarks, the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Maurice Loustau Lalanne said there is a necessity to ensure that the country obtains the best possible return for each rupee spent on the tourism industry.

“Hotels especially the major brands based in Seychelles prepare their budgets at this time, it makes sense to have this conversation with you so as to maximize our efforts and ensure that we have the same strategy on all our markets,” said Loustau Lalanne.

Commenting on the performance of the tourism industry, he highlighted new records in the overall tourism numbers and cruise tourism, a slight increase in tourism expenditure and maintained bed occupancy recorded in 2016, along with the steady 22 percent increase recorded so far in 2017, compared to the same period last year. He congratulated the STB board, management staff and all local and overseas staff for their hard work, dedication and loyalty.

Going forward Mr. Loustau Lalanne said it was important to focus on attracting the right visitors to Seychelles.

“As we diversify our markets our product and improve on the existing services we offer let us always remember that we need to bring the right clientele and give them all a good time while on holiday but we need to do this much faster,” he said.

The Chief Executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board also reiterated the need to find ways of collecting more revenue from each tourist who visit Seychelles. She highlighted the need to reduce the country’s reliance on room revenue and for other initiatives including experiential tourism to be explored.

Mrs. Francis said Seychelles looks set to welcome between 350 to 360 thousand visitors in 2017 if the current rate of 18 to 20 percent is maintained, adding that the country could thus easily reach the 500 thousand visitor mark over the next two years if the trend continues.

Having said this, she said it was important for all stakeholders to ponder on the way forward including to consider whether this is the kind of tourism growth desired for the destination.

“For STB, our focus is not only to grow the numbers but to see that it grows equitably. While we grow the quality of visitors it is also important to ensure that the small tourism establishments, along with the boat charters, car hires, restaurants and attractions see themselves in the picture,” said Francis.

“We have given you a clean canvas and want you to paint the picture with us for 2018 we want no one to be left behind we want you all to be onboard and for this reason we want you to guide us in building our plans of action and the general direction for 2018 and even beyond,” she added.

Both the trade partners and the STB staff have welcomed the new format which allowed for more one to one discussions, which is said to have provided for more exchange between the two sides.

Mrs. Danielle Payet-Alis representing the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association said: “We have said during the whole day that we need to change our business model and it has provided the platform to start something new. In general, I hope the message has been well received by those who take decisions.”

For STB’s Director for Scandinavia, CIS & Eastern Europe, Karen Confait, the 2017 mid-year marketing meeting had a lot more participation from the trade including many hotels from Praslin and La Digue.

“It was good to have more one on one time with them because it is important to get their feedback in terms of what we are doing, so for me this has been very productive,” she said.

At the end of the meeting, a summary of the group discussions was presented. These recommendations will now be incorporated in a detailed plan that will be put forward as the STB’s strategy for 2018 at the end of the year.

Readers of influential travel magazine Travel + Leisure gave the famed St. Lucian hotel the 25th spot in the world and number two in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas category in its annual survey.

Jade Mountain's sister resort, Anse Chastanet, was not far behind, placing number six among hotels in the Caribbean region.

"We would like to thank Travel + Leisure's savvy travelers who continue to recognize the winning combination of luxury accommodations with sustainable and responsible practices," said Karolin Troubetzkoy, the resorts' executive director, praising her team for consistently making the magazine's annual top rankings. "We're so proud of our St. Lucian staff, who are unquestionably world-class leaders in the hospitality business."

According to editor Jacqueline Gifford, "For our World's Best Awards survey, every year, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe - to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels are rated on their facilities, location, service, food and overall value."

Troubetzkoy congratulated Kamalame Cay in Andros, Bahamas for taking the top spot in the region, and Nihi Sumba Island (formerly Nihiwatu) in Indonesia for being named number one in the world.

With UNESCO having just awarded the Lake District 'World Heritage' status on Saturday 9 July 2017, why not discover this pristine watery landscape with the original walking holiday experts Ramblers Walking Holidays', staying at their tranquil bolthole -  Hassness Country House.

Owned by Ramblers Walking Holidays and forming the base for their popular walking programme in the region, this perfectly situated property on the shores of  Buttermere,  with wonderful lake and mountain views in all directions, makes it easy to see why the Lake District has been given this coveted status.

Remote and  unspoilt, set against  a tranquil area of dramatic fells, farms and woodland, it is an ideal spot for exploring the new World Heritage site on foot with one of the best round-the-lake walks in the Lake District right on the doorstep.  With access to numerous Lake District walks as featured in 'Walking amongst the Wainwrights' – the iconic pictorial guides  to the hills and the mountains written by the great Alfred Wainwright, Hassness Country House is the ideal base for holidays catering to all levels of fitness.  Choose from ambles around the valley floor and its three lakes,  Buttermere,  Crummock  Water and  Loweswater  to adventurous high peak challenges on the summits and ridges of the Western Fells.

Offering an  extensive on-going walking  programme, any days out are well rewarded with locally sourced home cooked meals and the promise of resident cook Ruby's superb freshly baked cakes.

Sydney shines in the latest time-lapse video, from renowned videographer Rob Whitworth, which showcases Sydney's stunning winter weather.

While winter in Sydney kicks off with Vivid Sydney, it continues to shine even when the lights are switched off, with the city on average experiencing 221 sunny days each year*. Whitworth's latest video highlights some of Sydney's top winter experiences, from exploring the harbour, to shopping and exploring the beaches and tourist attractions.

According to Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Ms Sandra Chipchase, “Sydney has a year round temperate climate, making winter an ideal time to visit our stunning harbour city. Winter in Sydney brings with it crystal clear water at our city beaches, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and the perfect opportunity to indulge in the state's great food and wine experiences.”

“Both Sydney and Regional NSW have some fantastic winter experiences, including an impressive range of new things to do, places to dine and accommodation.”

The hotly anticipated Legoland Castle Hotel at The Legoland Windsor Resort is now open and welcoming guests to enjoy a magical ‘knights’ stay.

Situated right on the edge of the theme park, the brand new hotel is home to over 2.1 million Lego bricks and 657 Lego models, bringing to life an enchanted world of brave knights, magical wizards and mischievous jesters.

Colourful Lego touches and models large and small feature throughout; from the astonishing lobby - dominated by a giant floor to ceiling Lego brick Wizard unleashing Lego magic from his staff - to the tiny 7cm high Lego dragonfly models. With Lego building stations across the Hotel, plus an á la carte Tournament Tavern Restaurant which is home to an impressive 80,500 Lego brick snoozing dragon and a Jester’s Play Den, guests are guaranteed the ultimate Lego stay inside the Castle walls.

With separate sleeping areas for adults and up to three children, the 61 magical Wizard and Knight bedrooms are brimming with Lego surprises too. As well as the bright Lego wall graphics and magical Lego models in every room, children (and adults alike) will delight in solving the special clues hidden in the carpet and walls to unlock the Lego surprises that await discovery in the safe.

Bunting, flags, Lego shields and an illuminated stained glass window above the bed bring the majestic Knight themed rooms to life, whilst the spellbinding Wizard rooms are bursting with Lego magic from potion bottles, spell books and mystical Lego creatures.

Plus there are plenty of extra surprises hidden throughout the Hotel that will enchant youngsters wherever they look - from a talking throne and a chatty Lego wizard, to magical lifts and even a snoring dragon.


It's that time of year when the sun sets late and temperatures are mild – the perfect weather to watch a sound and light show. See the façade of Rouen Cathedral come to life, this year narrating the stories of William the Conqueror and Joan of Arc, Rouen's most iconic figures, or follow ten colourful narratives celebrating France's journey to freedom during WW2, displayed on both Bayeux Cathedral and its magnificent Liberty Tree.

Venture further south to the city of Sées and marvel at the annual light show projected onto its Cathedral, a national monument and well worth a visit. And, if you fancy something off the beaten track, visit the Manoir du Courboyer in the Perche Regional Natural Park for a spectacular lightshow about the heritage of this picturesque area, famous for its Percheron horses.

The Spanish Tourist Office and Turismo de Galicia are delighted to have been awarded Silver Gilt for their garden at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

Following the success of last year’s ‘Route of the Camellia’ show garden, also a silver gilt medallist, the Spanish Tourist Office once again commissioned garden designer, Rose McMonigall.

This year’s exhibit, ‘The Pazo’s Secret Garden’, celebrates the wonder, mystery and contrasts of the gardens of the historic Galician Pazos; magnificent palaces famous for their exquisite architecture and extensive gardens, where formal design meets the untamed nature of Galicia’s landscapes.

The garden also featured its very own striking human representation of a Camellia flower, in the form of body art.

Rose’s romantic design leads visitors on an imaginary journey through the vineyards, ancient camellia avenues and topiary mazes of Galicia’s Pazo gardens, towards a more intimate setting, a secret space, sheltered by the walls of the palace. By the steps up to the mysterious door to the Pazo, visitors will find a water lily-filled pool and a tranquil place to sit at a stone table. A welcome glass of Galician Albariño wine is waiting and a silk scarf, adorned with a camellia flower design, gives a nod to the richly-coloured blossoms you would find here in early spring.

“The garden preserves the formality and ornament of the Pazo garden, but nature too has claimed it, adding a certain untamed, overgrown wildness” said garden designer, Rose McMonigall.

“Vines, pompoms of colour in the form of hydrangeas, exotic arum lilies, and a selection of wild waterside plants soften the design of the garden, which also subtly refers to the larger expansive, working landscape in this beautiful corner of Spain, making the Pazo gardens so unique and fascinating.”

Known as ‘the land of camellias’, Galicia is a renowned destination for lovers of the outdoors and garden enthusiasts. Camellias have become such an integral part of the region that visitors to Galicia can follow a dedicated ‘Camellia Route’; a journey that passes from northern to southern Galicia through 12 manor houses (or Pazos) and gardens where the camellia reigns in all its glory.

Javier Piñanes, Director of the Spanish Tourist Office UK, says: “Covered in lush greenery, with some of Spain’s most idyllic, natural beaches; home to a number of buzzing, charming and characterful cities; one of the top (though lesser known) wine producing regions in Spain, famous for the delicious Albariño white wine; and offering up arguably the best seafood in the country, Galicia is a must-visit destination.

“Rose’s design has successfully captured the mystery, romanticism and intimacy of Galicia’s Pazos, their surrounds, and of Galicia as a whole, using both plant-based and architectural references. We hope visitors to the show will be inspired by her perceptive interpretation of the magic of Galicia’s Palaces and her encapsulation of the region’s appeal more widely.”