Luxury Holidays – What You Are Searching For in 2012 ?

We have been selling luxury holidays since 1996 so we think we know quite a lot about travel, holidays and offering great deals. As we look forward to 2012 we thought we would look at what visitors to our website searched for in 2011. We keep statistics of what holiday destination is searched for when someone uses our website search system so we thought that it would be a good idea to publish the details. Maybe it will help you decide where to go on holiday in 2012.  

So, here we go:-

Our Top Holiday Destinations

1. Goathis has been a favourite winter holiday destination for many years. Goa is great value for money and you get to see a different culture, wonderful people, excellent food and the weather is hot. Flights operate from the UK between November and April.

2. Cyprusagain a long term favourite with us Brits. Cyprus offers hot summers and warm winters and is great if you want a family holiday and also Ayia Napa caters for those of you wanting a young and lively holiday. Cyprus is still popular despite the fact that its more expensive than Greece and Turkey. 

3    Bulgaria – If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful holiday then Bulgaria might suit you. Sunny Beach is the most popular destination as it offers a glorious beach and good value holiday accommodation.

4    TurkeyTurkey is forecast to be even more popular as a cheap holiday destination in 2012. This is due to the fact that it is outside the Euro zone. Turkey certainly boasts well developed holiday resorts and a stunning coastline with great beaches. The standard of holiday accommodation in Turkey is not as good as it is in Spain. Many 4 star hotels we would only rate as 3 star and many 5 star hotels in Turkey do not deserve the 5 star rating so choose carefully when considering where to stay.

5    TenerifeThis Canary island is still a firm favourite especially out of the main high season months of July and August because the weather stays warm for most of the year. There will be holiday bargains in Tenerife in 2012 as hoteliers reduce their prices to attract customers. Los Cristianos is an excellent family holiday destination.

6   Egypt– The Red Sea resort is incredibly popular not just outside the main high season months but also now in July and August as well. Many new hotels have been built offering excellent facilities, especially for families. This year there will be bargains to be had as people may well be wary of visiting Egypt this year, even though Sharm was hardly affected by the upheaval in the country.

7   FloridaThe US state of Florida is a quality holiday destination and, of course, is home to Disney and The Magic Kingdom as well as many other theme parks. Prices have increased over the last few years due to higher flight prices but bargains can still be found especially outside the peak months.

8    New YorkThe attraction of The Big Apple has not faded and short breaks to New York are still popular and will remain so in 2012.

9   MajorcaMany are predicting that Majorca will lose out in 2012 because of the poor exchange rate, however, don’t expect that Spanish hotel owners will go down without a fight as they reduce their prices to compete. All Inclusive holidays in Majorca can still be excellent value and flight prices to Palma are still good value compared to Dalaman in Turkey.

 10    Las Vegas With more flights to Las Vegas this city break destination will become even more popular in 2012. It is one of our favourite places to visit here at Global Holidays. Great entertainment and the Grand Canyon only an hour away. What more can you want. Las Vegas is a MUST VISIT destination ! 5 nights at the fantastic Bellagio hotel including flights costs from £659 per person.

11  SpainThe nations favourite holiday destination suffered in 2009 and 2010 and many hotels closed down. Spain has much to offer the visitor though and it will still offer great value for money in 2012.

12 The  MaldivesIf you want an exotic desert island holiday experience then look no further than the stunning Maldives. With many islands having been renovated in the past two years The Maldives are a special place and not just for honeymooners.

13 IbizaIn our opinion Ibiza is one of the most under rated holiday destinations, unless you have been there, in which case you will know how beautiful Ibiza is. Ibiza is far more than just San Antonio and non stop partying. If you haven’t been to Ibiza you should think about a visit in 2012.

14   Greece – Traditionally the Greek Islands have been the holiday destination for a last minute cheap holiday but in 2012 prices may rise due to a drop in the number of flights to the islands, not helped by the demise of Libra Holidays and Kosmar Holidays where capacity has not been replaced.

The Greek islands will still be popular in 2012 and there will probably be good deals especially in May and June 2012.

15   CubaOffering great value for money for a Caribbean holiday, Cuba has good beaches, excellent ‘All Inclusive’ hotels and a visit to Havana a must. Cuba, along with the Dominican Republic, are the cheapest Caribbean islands to visit. Watch out for some good deals in 2012.

What’s on in Las Vegas

Las Vegas is far more now than the gambling capital of the world. When I went on holiday to Las Vegas I stayed at the Luxur Hotel. The Luxor is the hotel that is built like an Egyptian pyramid and the hotel is themed on Egypt even as far as the restaurants, the bars and the bedrooms. There is a huge casino as The Luxor Hotel and many people were on the slot machines even as I went down for breakfast.

Whilst gambling is still a big part of what Las Vegas has to offer the city has now become the entertainment capital of the world. The themed hotels, the world class restaurants and, of course the entertainment. When I visited Las Vegas I went to see Celine Dion. She has started another 3 year residency at Caesars Palace but there are many other fantastic shows that you can see in Las Vegas.

Here is the Global Holidays run down of the best shows to see in Las Vegas –

Cirque du Soleil – an amazing best selling show – I saw the show in Manchester not Vegas unfortunately and know somebody who performs for Cirque du Soleil, so I can tell you how good these shows are.

The shows take your breath away with the sheer extravagance of the acrobatics. Cirque du Soleil have seven shows in Las Vegas including Mystere at Treasure Island, O at the Bellagio, The Beatles Love at The Mirage and the new resident Cirque du Soleil show, Viva Elvis at Aria Resort & Casino. Call 0845 299 4450 to book a ticket.

The Smith Centre for Performing Arts will soon launch runs of Mary Poppins, The Color Purple and Wicked.

Las Vegas is always fantastic for live music. From blues and rock and roll at The House of Blues to megastars like Celine Dion, there is music for everyone. Rod Stewart starts an 18 show run in August and Elton John is back with another 3 year residency from 28 September.

The Blue Man Group is good value for money and you will also find, one of my favourite musicals, The Lion King at The Mandalay Bay Hotel. The list of shows in Las Vegas does not stop there. You will also find Phantom of the Opera at the incrdible Venetian Hotel. You can take a gondola ride on the look-a-like Venice canals before the show starts to start your night of entertainment.

If you are looking for something a little different why not go on The Mob Tour of Las Vegas? The mob may have left Vegas but this tour is keeping that part of the city’s history alive and well. The Vegas Mob Tour gives guests a chance to delve into the city’s dark past on a two-and-a-half hour tour that visits some of the restaurants and other sites where murders, strange disappearances and mob activity occurred.

If you like nightclubs you will not be short of clubs to visit. Recently opened clubs include The Paris Hotel’s Chateau Nightclub and Gardens the Gallery Nighclub in Planet Hollywood and The Marquee Nighclub in the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

Looking for a low cost holiday to Las Vegas? Call FREE 0800 433 2300

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Grand Canyon Tour from Las Vegas

It was a very early start from the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas for an exiting day trip by plane to the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was a clear and sunny November morning as I stood in shorts and T-shirt waiting for the coach that would take us the short distance to the airport. Then I overheard someone saying that the south rim of the Grand Canyon is 7,000 ft above sea level and I suddenly realised that it would be a lot colder at that height so I rushed back to the hotel room to put on some warmer clothing, and that proved to be a smart move as it was really cold when we got there even though there was blue sky and sunshine.

We headed for the Boulder City airport terminal which is only a few miles from Las Vegas. The check-in procedure was farly straight forward apart from the fact that because the plane only holds about 12 people they have to weigh everybody individually so that they can work out how much fuel they will need!

We boarded the plane, which only had 2 rows across and I was asked to close the door myself. I could easily have opened the door myself during the flight and bailed out, although they didn’t supply parachutes! The flight to the Grand Canyon took us over the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead and we had spectacular views of the area around the Grand Canyon which seems to stretch for hundreds of miles. After a flight of just over an hour we landed at the chilly South Rim and took a short bus ride to the Canyon itself. There are many places that have visitor centres at the Grand Canyon so we were at just one of many but the views from where we stood were just amazing.

We spent several hours wondering around the trails that run at the top of the Grand Canyon but didn’t actually go down to the river below but you can take a helicopter trip there and have lunch by the mighty Colorado River if you want.

This really is a trip that I can recommend. In fact it is the day trip of a lifetime.

To book your Grand Canyon tour call Global Holidays FREE on 0800 433 2300

Here are a few photographs that I took whilst on my day trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon

 

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Ten best uses for your smartphone whilst on holiday

Many people have smart-phones now. The latest smart-phones have 8 mega-pixel cameras and HD video, but what can we use all this high tech wizardry for? We can, of course, take good quality photos and video but we have come up with some unusual uses for your smart-phone so that you can make the most out of these expensive gadgets whilst you are on holiday.

1. Use your Sat Nav to pinpoint your hotel, so that when you get lost in the maze of streets that there are in some places, or you have had too much to drink and you can’t remember where you are staying, you can use your smart-phone to find your way back to your hotel.

2. Can’t remember your hotel room number? That’s easily solved. Take a picture of your hotel door, when you first arrive, showing your room number so that you can retrieve the photo if your memory fails you.

3. Have the website of the hotel on your smart-phone so that you can show it to your taxi driver when you arrive in a country where they don’t speak good English.

4. Looking for a good restaurant in a holiday resort that you have never been to before?  Some holiday destinations have so many restaurants and so much choice that you can spend wasted time trying to decide where to go. Use your smartphone and look for reviews from previous customers.

5. Looking for a good book at the airport? Don’t just read the back cover to try and decide whether a book is worth buying. Choosing your holiday reading is serious business! The Samsung Galaxy S2 has a clever little application to make book buying easier. You can scan the bar code on the back of the book with your smart-phone and it will bring up all the book reviews on Amazon for that book, so you can see whether the book is worth buying.

6. Bitten by a snake? You need to know whether the snake is poisoness and how to survive a snake bite. Use your camera to take a photo of the offending snake so that you can show it to the paramedics. It could save your life!

7. Marvel at the night sky. Here in the UK it can be difficult to see the planets and stars even on a clear night. Other countries don’t have the same light pollution as the UK so you will see more of the night sky, but how do you recognise what’s up there? Well, if you download Google Sky Map and just point your phone at the sky for an accurate representation of the stars and planets on your screen. A mind boggling app. and free too!

8. Having a driving holiday in the UK? Download RAC Traffic. It guesstimates your location via the mobile signal, then pops up the current traffic alerts for your area. Brilliant!

9. Seen a pretty girl or cute guy in a bar whilst you are on holiday but don’t know how to break the ice? Well, just download the 101 chat up lines app. so that you have a great chat up line for every occassion. No social skills required!

10. Find a Wi Fi hotspot and use Skype to call home and beat expensive call charges from abroad.

Global Holidays is the travel agent for luxury holidays at low prices. Call today on 0845 299 4450.

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The San Gimignano Towers Vs The Leaning Tower

I love Italy. I love the scenery, the stylish people, the food and the architecture. One of my favourite places in Italy is San Gimignano in Tuscany. This hilltop Medieval walled town doesn’t allow cars in so you have to leave your car in one of the many car parks just outside the walls.

Once inside the walls of San Gimagnano you will be confronted by palaces, churches and squares. One of the most famous squares is The Piazza della Cisterna with a public well in the centre and it has been a gathering place for the towns inhabitants for over 1,200 years.

But San Gimignano is also famous for its towers. There at least 14 towers within the towns walls and it is possible to climb many of them to get a birds eye view of the rooftops and the vineyards in the distance. These Medieval towers were built as a sign of power by the people who built them. The higher the tower the more power you had and the towns inhabitants were constantly trying to build a taller one than their neighbours. Nothing in the world changes. It’s cars on your driveway now that people use to try and get one up on their neighbours. Sad, but true!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The other famous tower in Italy is, of course, in Pisa. The Tower was built in 1173 and within a few years the foundations had begun to sink on one side. By 1985 the tower was in danger of collapse so engineering work was done to stabilise it although the engineers did not want to straighten it too much because that would mean it couldn’t be called The Leaning Tower of Pisa any more !

Apart from The Leaning Tower, Pisa doesn’t have many other tourist attractions to offer so I would recommend only having a night or two in Pisa before heading off to other parts of Tuscany.

Getting there

The nearest airport to San Gimignano is Florence but it is cheaper and nearly as convenient to fly to Pisa. If you fly to Pisa you can see the Tower and then hire a car and drive to San Gimignano which is about 50 miles away. Buses run to San Gimignano from Pisa and Florence.

Where to eat

There are plenty of good restaurants and cafes in San Gimignano and Pisa although Pisa in my view doesn’t have as much character as San Gimignano. In Pisa you could try Le Scuderie where they sell pizza by the metre and they use a wood burning oven It’s just off the main shopping street which is called Corso Italia. I can vouch for the pizza myself as I have been to this pizza restaurant several times. Also, I can recommend Osteria Il Fantasma dell’Opera on Via Palestro.

In San Gimignano you will find many good restaurants but if you want ice cream I can recommend the world famous Gelateria di Piazza located in the central Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano, known all over the world and visited by a large number of celebrities including Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister.

Where to stay

There are several hotels in San Gimignano and lots more in Pisa. I have stayed at Hotel Santa Croce In Fossabanda (Pisa), which was once a monastery and is about a 20 minute walk to Pisa centre.  I have stayed at Hotel Bologna in the historical centre of Pisa and also the Astor which is also in a good location and is clean but basic. In San Gimagnano  the Leon Bianco Hotel is good value for money.

To book a holiday to Italy or a hotel in Pisa or San Gimignano –

Call Global Holidays FREE on 0800 433 2300

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Highlights of Vietnam 10 Day Tour Offer

Vietnam Airlines now operates flights from London Gatwick to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This follows news that the airline is increasing the number of aircraft in its fleet to 115 and use the Airbus A380, the worlds largest aircraft. As we said in a recent travel blog article, holidays to Vietnam are increasing in popularity as this once wartorn country becomes a welcoming tourist destination.

We have a fantatstic Vietnam holiday offer, which takes in the best of Vietnam.

Call us FREE on 0800 433 2300 for details.

Our Highlights of Vietnam tour takes you from the boisterous energy of Saigon to the tranquil islands of Halong Bay so that you can discover the contrasting regions of this diverse country. An insight into traditional Vietnamese life, Hoi An’s antiquated streets will thoroughly charm you, and the drive to Hue through the lush agriculture and stunning coastal vistas of provincial Vietnam is breathtaking.

The Vietnam tour that we offer is aimed at those travellers who want experience more of the real Vietnam so amongst other things you can share a cup of tea or try the rice wine with the locals in the Mekong Delta, enjoy the luxury of a whole day exploring Hoi An at your own pace and enjoy a bowl of steaming pho overlooking Saigon’s markets.

Also popular are river cruises along the famous Mekong Delta.

The Jahan is the latest and most luxurious cruiser on the Mekong river. Your cruise begins at My Tho, just outside of Saigon. From here, spend seven nights on the river meeting the locals and exploring the richness and diversity of one of the world’s great delta systems.

Each cabin is decorated and appointed to the highest standard and all have full en-suite facilities, air conditioning and access to a private balcony offering magnificent views of the passing Mekong. As well as excellent on board facilities such as the observatory and pool, the Jahan is also the first to boast an on-board spa and also offers some of the finest cuisine and entertainment the Mekong Delta has to offer.

The quality of cabins onboard The Jahan Mekong river cruise ship might suprise you because quality is excellent. In fact new hotels are constantly being built in Vietnam and they are of a very high standard.

Here are the details of our Highlights of Vietnam Tour

DAYS 1-3 – SAIGON & MEKONG DELTA

On arrival in Saigon, transfer to your hotel. Start to bond with your small group of fellow travellers and tour leader with a tour briefing and welcome drinks in Saigon. Join the action as you wander along the city’s historic Dong Khoi Street, the former Rue Catinat, and stop to explore the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Gain insight into the resilience of the Vietnamese people as you investigate the amazing Cu Chi tunnels, and wind among canals and sample local fruit from the orchards of the Mekong Delta.

Hotel: Duxton

DAYS 4-7 – HUE & HOI AN

Fly north to Hue, the former imperial capital and a window into Vietnam’s complex past. Delve into the ancient Citadel, elaborate emperors’ tombs and tranquil Thien Mu Pagoda. Witness the stunning countryside and spectacular coastal scenery on your way to Hoi An. A living monument to Vietnam’s rich history, this charming town boasts traditional houses and temples and the iconic Japanese Bridge. Famed for its masterful tailors, enjoy some free time in Hoi An for shopping, or enhance your culinary skills with a fun cooking class.

Hotels: Saigon Morin, Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa

DAYS 8-10 – HANOI & HALONG BAY

Fly to Hanoi and then rest, as you watch the farmers working their land on the drive to enchanting Halong Bay. Enjoy the freshest seafood while you cruise amongst the thousands of limestone islands. On your return to Hanoi, a delightful water puppet performance awaits. Experience the thrill of a cyclo ride through this elegant city. Learn all about the life and legend of ‘Uncle Ho’ at his former home and mausoleum, and visit the ancient Temple of Literature and ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison. On your last day, enjoy free time until your departure transfer.

Hotels: Halong Plaza, Maison D’Hanoi Hanova

Call Global Holidays FREE on 0800 433 2300 for details

Make Holidays Greener Week, 2 – 9 July

When we go on holiday we need to respect local laws but also we have to be responsible for the actions that we take to protect the environment and also protect local cultures.

Make Holidays Greener Week is a consumer campaign that has been launched by the sustainable tourism charity The Travel Foundation, which aims to engage consumers with the idea of ‘greener’ holidays by challenging them to do three simple things when they next go on holiday that will help benefit local people and protect the environment in their holiday destinations.  

Suggestions for a greener holiday include:

Buying locally

By buying locally made souvenirs, or eating and drinking in locally owned bars and restaurants, you are contributing to the local economy and you will have a more unique and special experience of the destination you have chosen to visit.

Removing all packaging before you go on holiday

By removing the packaging from items you take on holiday you are helping to reduce pressures on local sanitation services and landfill. Many countries are currently unable to cope with high levels of waste, and do not have recycling services like we do in the UK.

Turning off lights and air conditioning

Decreasing energy consumption wherever possible will reduce the pressures placed on local supply and help ensure you have power when you do need it.

 Below we have included a selection of offers from some of our favourite green hotels…

Anse Chastanet, Saint Lucia

Anse Chastanet has received the prestigious Travelife Gold award for its commitment to sustainability, and nature is incorporated into the very design of the hotel, with trees growing through some of the rooms! The dinner menu at Emerald’s Restaurant is entirely vegetarian, with the organic produce grown locally at the hotel’s farm in the Soufrière hills, and there is a range of rainforest and birdwatching tours on offer.

Exclusive offer: Book by 15 July to stay 5 nights between now – 31 October and receive 2 additional nights free plus a complimentary upgrade from Bed & Breakfast to Half Board, or from Half Board to All-Inclusive. Call Global Holidays on 0845 299 4450.

Tortuga Bay, Dominican Republic

Tortuga Bay is part of the Puntacana Resort, which runs a number of environmental and community projects, such as the 1,500 acre Ecological Park, set aside for scientific research and the conservation of native and endangered species. The Puntacana Foundation, established in 1998, promotes sustainable economic growth through investment in schools, health care and sport.

Special offer: Stay 5 nights between now – 22 December and receive 2 additional nights free. Call Global Holidays on 0845 299 4450.

Fairmont Mayakoba, Mexico

Fairmont Mayakoba was designed with environmental conservation and sustainability in mind, and is Rainforest Alliance verified. Projects include Flor de Tajonal , a bee conservation programme, and the hotel also works with a community-based Mayan tour operator to protect environmental and cultural heritage inside the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

Special offer: Stay between now – 31 October and receive a special reduced rate on Bed & Breakfast basis, plus 7 nights for the price of 6. Call Global Holidays on 0845 299 4450.

Short Haul Holiday Deals for July for under £500 per person

Becky Hayes, our bargain hunter TV presenter, has been hunting down the holiday bargains for July. As ever, she has come up with some fantastic deals!

We are all strapped for cash this year but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get away and enjoy the sun. I’ve found some great deals for this month and they are all under £500 per person, some are even All Inclusive. What’s more even though the price is cheap the standard of accommodation is very good. They have all been checked out on trusty Trip Advisor and they all score over 80%. They are all 4* and above.

If you are looking to book a cheap deal then a good tip is to try and fly out midweek. You can often get a package deal much cheaper just by flying out on say a Tuesday rather than a Saturday.

All of the below hotels receive 80% or more on Trip Advisor

Morocco – Marrakesh  £491 pp AI 7 nights 5* Clubhotel Riu Tikida Palmeraie Thu 14th July.  satisfaction rating  is 88% on trip advisor

Greece – Santorini – £430 pp B&B 3* 7 nights Marillia Village Tues 12th July  Satisfaction rating  is 92%

Malta – Melliaha Bay £447 pp BB 4* 7 nights Riu Seabank Hotel Tues 19th July  Satisfaction rating is 83%

Algarve – Acoteias £470 pp HB 7 nights Falesia Hotel Thur 14th July  Satisfaction rating 86%

 

China opens the worlds longest bridge

Until today the world’s longest bridge was in Louisiana in the USA. At nearly 24 miles long the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway has long claimed to be the world’s longest bridge over open water. That is until the economic powerhouse of China today opened the 26.3-mile long Jiaozhou Bay bridge. It links the “eastern port city of Qingdao to an offshore island, Huangdao and has cost $2.3 billion. At that length the bridge would span the English Channel quite comfortably.

What do you think? Would you cross a bridge that was 26 miles long? Or would you be terrified that you might encounter bad weather and be stranded or even worse? Let us know whether you would drive across this bridge.

Watch the video of the world’s longest bridge.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PMuY5Kg8CE?rel=0&w=640&h=390]