Author: Gill Dewar

First phase of refurbishment of Victoria Falls Hotel complete

First phase of refurbishment of Victoria Falls Hotel complete

First phase of refurbishment of Victoria Falls Hotel complete

October 6, 2022

First phase of major refashioning project at The Victoria Falls Hotel is complete!
The refurbished areas include the hotel’s historic premier suite, The Livingstone, as well as the Batoka Suite, which has views on to the gorges below the fames rail and road bridge across the Zambezi. A new category of Premium bedrooms has been introduced, too.
There has also been refurbishment activity in the Stanley’s Terrace serving area, supplemented by the creation of a new cocktail bar, Stanley’s Bar.
The refurbishment focused at the creation of a stylish coming together of the hotels unique historic heritage and introduction of the most modern amenities and facilities expected by top-end travellers of the 2020’s.
Congratulations @thevictoriafallshotel, we look forward to celebrating with you once the entire project is complete!

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Who’s a winner at World Travel Awards Europe 2022?

Who's a winner at World Travel Awards Europe 2022?

Who’s a winner at World Travel Awards Europe 2022?

Europe’s premier travel brands have been revealed at a blockbuster gala ceremony at the new Hilton Mallorca Galatzo. The brightest stars of the hospitality industry aligned at the World Travel Awards (WTA) European Gala Ceremony 2022 to discover who amongst them had won the ultimate accolades in tourism.

Triumphant at the red-carpet event was The Algarve, Portugal winning the coveted title of ‘Europe’s Leading Beach Destination’, while Porto picked up the prized honour of ‘Europe’s Leading City Destination’.

The burgeoning Black Sea city of Batumi secured the headline grabbing title of ‘Europe’s Leading Emerging Tourism Destination’. Meanwhile Madrid claimed the award for ‘Europe’s Leading Meetings & Conference Destination’ for the 5th year in a row, and the Convention Centre, Dublin picked up the trophy for ‘Europe’s Leading Meetings & Conference Centre’.

Travel industry VIPs from 40 nations attended the big travel industry reunion at Hilton’s first property on Mallorca. The recently opened 208-room Hilton Mallorca Galatzo is the latest addition to join Hilton’s growing European portfolio.

Graham Cooke, Founder, WTA, said: “What a truly memorable experience was had by our international VIP audience. This enchanting island setting proved to be the perfect backdrop for a sensational two-day event crowned by this evening’s Gala Ceremony. Hilton Mallorca Galatzo has done itself proud by making Europe’s luminaries feel so warmly welcomed.

WTA had the privilege of recognising the industry’s leading lights from across Europe. As stellar examples of tourism excellence, our winners have helped the industry to raise the collective benchmark”.

In a special presentation, ‘Europe’s Corporate Social Responsibility Award’ was received by Drying Little Tears – Regine Sixt Children’s Aid Foundation

In the aviation sector, Turkish Airlines claimed the honour of ‘Europe’s Leading Airline’, whilst British Airways was named ‘Europe’s Leading Airline Brand’. Earlier in the evening Air France claimed the prized award for ‘Europe’s Leading Airline – Economy Class’ and TAP Air Portugal took accolades for ‘Europe’s Leading Airline to South America’ and ‘Europe’s Leading Airline to South America’.

The luxury and charm of Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul earned the ultimate hospitality award for ‘Europe’s Leading Hotel’ while the stunning Mandarin Oriental Bosphorus, Istanbul claimed the hotly contested title of ‘Europe’s Leading New Hotel’. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts took the prize for ‘Europe’s Leading Luxury Hotel Brand’ while the Royal Monceau Suite @ Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris, picked up the award for ‘Europe’s Leading Hotel Suite’.  Elsewhere, a grand total of six honours went to Forte Village Resort including the title of ‘Europe’s Leading New Resort’.

The majestic Conrad Algarve claimed the award for ‘Europe’s Leading Lifestyle Resort’ while the luxurious Sani Resort took the prize for ‘Europe’s Leading Family Resort’.

In the cruise sector, Norwegian Cruise Line was voted ‘Europe’s Leading Cruise Line’ while Lisbon picked up the award for ‘Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination’.

Travel provider winners included Abercrombie & Kent (‘Europe’s Leading Luxury Tour Operator’), Booking.com (‘Europe’s Leading Travel Agency’) and FCM Travel (‘Europe’s Leading Travel Management Company’).

The next red-carpet events on the WTA Grand Tour 2022 will take place in Nairobi, Kenya (Africa & Indian Ocean), Amman, Jordan (Middle East) and Muscat, Oman (Grand Final).

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A village of tents in Agafay Desert

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A village of tents in Agafay Desert

A village of tents in Agafay Desert

Marrakech

Not a lot of people know about the nearby Agafay Desert just outside Marrakech. While you won’t find the golden, rolling sand dunes here (it’s a stone desert) you absolutely can have the secluded desert experience complete with a stunning view of the High Atlas Mountains. Plus, it’s close enough to easily be a day trip from Marrakech.

In the middle of a vast field of 21 hectares, the Inara Camp is made with three parts. The high part includes our restaurant “Le Soukoune” which welcomes our external guests for private lunch or dinner and also our new event camp “Les Terrasses d’Agafay”.

Down below the bivouac part welcomes you to live the unique experience of a night in the desert. It is made of 18 luxury tents from 25 to 35m² with a stunning overview of the desert. Each tent has king size bed, living room and separate bathroom with shower (hot water) and toilet. The camp keeps intimacy and respects the tranquillity in order that your desert dream come true.

Included is a visit to the Berber Village – This program is a great opportunity to discover Marrakech’s countryside and to learn about Berber culture, customs and traditions.

You will be invited to the houses of the Berber villages of the High Atlas of Morocco to participate in activities/workshops in total immersion.

Experience moments of pleasure and sharing among this great people who have been able to preserve their identity through time.

A day or night in the Agafay desert is a great way to experience the Moroccan desert without having to travel too far.

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Munich’s Oktoberfest Is Underway for the First Time in 2 Years

Munich’s Oktoberfest Is Underway for the First Time in 2 Years

Munich’s Oktoberfest Is Underway for the First Time in 2 Years

September 22, 2022 

Oktoberfest is officially underway after Munich’s mayor tapped the first keg over the weekend. 

Mayor Dieter Reiter hammered a keg three times, tapping it to the tune of a celebratory countdown on Saturday to officially welcome the festival back for the first time since before the pandemic. The 187th Oktoberfest will take place through Oct. 3 without any pandemic-era restrictions in place.

This momentous Oktoberfest is being celebrated after two years of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reiter told The Associated Press on Saturday the decision to bring the festivities back “was a good decision.”

“I’m glad that we can finally celebrate together,” Bavarian governor Markus Soeder told the wire service. “There are many who say, ‘Can we, can we not? Is it appropriate now?’ I just want to say one thing: We have two or three difficult years behind us, no one knows exactly what this winter will be like, and we need joie de vivre and strength.”

Oktoberfest was first held in 1810 to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to Princess Therese. In addition to the beer, visitors this year will be treated to historical rides at the Oide Wiesn, which was initially intended to be a one-off event in 2010 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest, but proved so popular it became a tradition in itself.

In past years, Oktoberfest has typically drawn about 6 million visitors per year.

In June, Germany dropped all COVID-19-related travel restrictions, eliminating the need to show proof of vaccination, a negative test, or proof of recovery to enter, according to the German Missions in the United States.

Travelers who head to the country can experience so much more than its beer with Germany’s gorgeous forests, picturesque small towns, and cool upside-down railway. As a bonus: Germany is the best place in the world to work remotely from due to its cybersecurity, economic, and social conditions (and the beer doesn’t hurt).

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Sports sector contributed $2.45bn to Dubai economy in 2021

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Sports sector contributed $2.45bn to Dubai economy in 2021

September 20, 2022 

The sports sector’s contribution to Dubai’s economy exceeded AED9 billion ($2.45 billion) in 2021, accounting for 2.3 percent of the emirate’s GDP for the year, said a senior official.

Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council (DSC), said the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, supported by a robust regulatory framework and an active lifestyle, has enabled the emirate to consolidate its position as the world’s preferred hub for sports in addition to being a destination for business, tourism, and education.

Chairing the third meeting of the DSC’s Board of Directors, he said the sector supports the creation of 105,000 job opportunities, accounting for 3.8 percent of the total employment in Dubai, said a Wam news agency report.

He credited Dubai’s pioneering regulatory framework and robust infrastructure for shaping the emirate’s sports sector. He noted that the government’s support for the industry is an integral priority within Dubai’s drive to become the world’s best city to live and work in.

“We are proud of the significant growth in the contribution of the sports sector to Dubai’s annual GDP. In addition to nurturing and fostering Emirati and expat athletes living in the UAE and ensuring the community’s health and happiness, the sports industry is now a significant economic contributor.

“At the DSC, we were keen to measure this growth in the contribution of sports to Dubai’s economy. In line with international best practices, we conducted a study in association with a major global consultancy. The study analysed and calculated the economic contribution of sports across different areas of the industry, including sports tourism, investment in sports training academies, sports events, and others,” Sheikh Mansoor said.

“The sports sector benefits from Dubai’s position as the world’s preferred destination for living, working, studying, and investing. The DSC supports the industry and the increase in its contribution to GDP by strengthening relations with international sports institutions and bodies. The council offers state-of-the-art facilities that support the work of local and international event organisers, which contributes to the growth of the sector.

“DSC encourages international sports stars and investors to take advantage of Dubai’s world-class facilities to open sports academies and host major world championships and training camps for various clubs, national teams and champion athletes, as well as to benefit from investment opportunities in its various fields. All these factors contributed to increasing the sector’s economic contribution and the number of employees in various related companies,” he added.

Dubai’s new sports strategy focuses on sports clubs in Dubai, infrastructure for sports facilities, e-sports, sports tourism, and sports technology, among others. It also identifies the main challenges, future development plans and strategy. The meeting also reviewed plans to develop football stadiums in Dubai and directed the concerned authorities to work on implementing them according to the approved schedule.

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Air Belgium Celebrates First Flight to South Africa

Air Belgium Celebrates First Flight to South Africa

Air Belgium Celebrates First Flight to South Africa

September 15, 2022 

A delighted Air Belgium celebrated its first new flights to South Africa yesterday, Wednesday 14 September 2022. The airline said: “Cheers to new flights to South Africa! Our #A330neo takes off from Brussels Airport to Johannesburg and Cape Town

Simultaneous flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg are now available from Brussels Airport every Wednesday and Sunday at 19:45 (arriving 7:15 the following day), while return flights from South Africa to Belgium are on Mondays and Thursdays.

Arriving in South Africa today (Thursday 15 Sep), this is Air Belgium’s first foray into Africa.

The airline had announced its plans in April to operate seasonal flights to South Africa starting in September 2022.

Brussels has historically been Cape Town’s second largest unserved market and the largest unserved European market based on two-way international passenger volumes.

Belgium is the Western Cape’s 7th largest European export market, with R2.61-billion worth of goods exported in 2021, up 81.5% from 2020.

“It is an exciting and important chapter for Air Belgium,” says CEO Niky Terzakis. “But we’re equally thrilled to introduce South Africans to a new airline and an alternative route – and thereby direct access to the heart of Europe.”

According to Terzakis, Air Belgium is committed to offering passengers an experience that is affordable, comfortable, hassle-free, green, and trustworthy.

“We often talk about ‘Belgitude’, and our motto is ‘Fly Belgian Class’, which is all about bringing joy back to international travel,” says Terzakis. “And while our travellers value our fun and engaging approach to travel, we also deliver what really matters: a safe, seamless journey; transparent billing (no hidden fees); and a generous luggage allowance.

What’s more is that we offer travellers an environmentally friendly travel option as the Airbus A330neo consumes on average 25% less fuel compared to previous generation aircraft. Lower fuel consumption also means less CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. Our aircraft offer what is best in comfort aboard: reduced noise level, mod-lighting, and state-of-the art inflight entertainment with WI-FI and internet connection throughout the flight.”

Fares start at R 11,569 for an all-in return ticket between Johannesburg and Brussels and passengers are allowed 30 kg baggage allowance free.

“Of course, for South Africans the real drawcard is Brussels,” says Terzakis. “Not only is it the gateway to Europe, with high-speed trains connecting the city to hubs like London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam in a couple of hours, but it is also a destination in its own right, with visitors delighting in its rich heritage, food, culture and Belgian spirit.”

The twice-weekly flights are good news for business travellers as Belgium is currently South Africa’s 6 th largest trading partner as well as the Western Cape’s 7 th largest European export market. As such, Belgium is ideally positioned to capture the interest of the corporate and government sectors in South Africa.

“I welcome Air Belgium’s new triangular route between Brussels, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Whether for leisure travel or business travel, this flight will undoubtedly *contribute to boosting* the country’s tourism, its economy and job creation,” says South African Tourism Chief Operations Officer, Nomasonto Ndlovu. She adds that international arrivals to South Africa are increasing steadily, and each new route and connection should be celebrated.

She said: “We are thrilled to welcome the Air Belgium team, and it’s fitting that their first flight arrives in the middle of September, which is Tourism Month in South Africa, when we celebrate, champion, and recognise the importance of our tourism industry.”

On its website, Air Belgium is promoting South Africa’s “steep coastline and majestic wildlife” offering a “variety of sceneries and experiences without changing countries! Plan your dream holiday in Cape Town or Johannesburg and enjoy the thrill of the ocean and lasting memories in the wilderness.”

The Airbus A330neo flight offers 30 seats in Business Class, 21 seats in Premium Class and 235 Economy Class seats; and includes the latest ecological, environmental and technological advantages.

In April, Western Cape Minister of Finance, David Maynier said: “Air Brussels focuses on leisure travel and shows that there is a clear uptick in demand for flights to Cape Town and the Western Cape, which is good for our economy and the creation of jobs in the Western Cape.”

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10 places around the globe named after Queen Elizabeth II

10 places around the globe named after Queen Elizabeth II

10 places around the globe named after Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth Land

About 437 000 square kilometres of British Antarctic Territory was named after the monarch to mark her diamond jubilee in 2012.

The triangular segment is nearly twice the size of Britain and stretches from the South Pole to the Ronne Ice Shelf on the Weddell Sea.

Princess Elizabeth Land

Seven decades earlier in 1931, this slice of Antarctica was discovered by the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition and named after the young Elizabeth, who was third in line to the throne.

Roughly covering the section south of India, it is now part of Australian Antarctic Territory.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London

The former wasteland in east London that staged the 2012 Olympics was renamed after the queen to mark the diamond jubilee celebrating 60 years on the throne.

Queen Elizabeth memorably opened the Olympics with a sequence that appeared to show her parachuting down to the stadium with James Bond.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

Straddling the equator, the east African country’s most visited national park is known for its lions, hippos, elephants, crocodiles and leopards, along with volcanic cones and crater lakes.

The 1 978-square-kilometre park was renamed after a visit by the monarch in 1954.

The Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden, New York

The tiny park in Hanover Square was created to remember the 67 British victims of the 2001 terror attacks in the city but was renamed in 2012 when it was rededicated as the memorial site for all the Commonwealth victims.

The monarch officially opened the garden in Lower Manhattan in 2010.

Queen Elizabeth Islands, Canada

The Parry Archipelago was renamed in 1953 to mark the coronation. The northernmost cluster of Canada’s islands include Ellesmere Island, the world’s 10th biggest.

Despite their vast size at 419 061 square kilometres, the Arctic islands have a population of just 400. At the top of Ellesmere sits Alert, the northernmost settlement in the world.

The Queen’s Terminal, London Heathrow Airport

The new £2.5-billion Heathrow Terminal 2 was officially opened by the monarch in 2014. Around a quarter of Heathrow’s passengers fly through T2.

The sovereign never actually used the terminal; there is a plush VIP terminal used by heads of state elsewhere in the airport.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Hong Kong

Once the largest general hospital in the Commonwealth, the facility in Kowloon opened in 1963 when Hong Kong was still a British colony. The monarch’s husband, Prince Philip, laid the foundation stone.

Hong Kong’s biggest hospital is the prime treatment centre for civil disasters and helicopter-transferred patients.

Queenstown, Singapore

Queenstown was the first new town built on the city-state island to cope with its booming population and was named to mark the 1953 coronation.

Around 100 000 people live in the 20-square-kilometre area. Developed as a self-contained community, it houses largely older, original residents in high- and low-rise blocks.

Elizabeth Quay, Perth

Intended to showcase the Western Australia capital on an international stage, the new area contains a mixture of luxury hotels, apartments, office blocks and restaurants.

The man-made Swan River inlet officially opened in 2016. The new entertainment and leisure precinct was billed as “the place to be, see and do” in Perth.

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Wellness travel is still in demand, bringing new resorts to bloom

Wellness travel is still in demand, bringing new resorts to bloom

Wellness travel is still in demand, bringing new resorts to bloom

With demand for wellness experiences showing no signs of slowing, pioneering players in the destination wellness space are finding the category ripe for expansion.

The Ranch, Sensei and Amrit are opening expansive new properties in the next year. And according to wellness experts, it’s a category in which new product has historically been in short supply. 

Jill Radin-Leeds, founder and president of Florida-based Just Spas & Adventures, said that some clients who checked existing wellness meccas off their lists have been waiting for the next great wellness hot spot. 

“Those that have already been to a Canyon Ranch or Miraval and enjoyed those experiences [tend to be looking] for something a little bit different that they haven’t experienced before,” said Radin-Leeds. “And as far as those types of destination spas go, people are sometimes surprised when they say, ‘I’ve been here, here and here; where else can I go?’ and they find out there are really only a handful of those destinations in the U.S.”

Radin-Leeds cited the upcoming opening of the Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences on Singer Island in Palm Beach, Fla., as a highly anticipated property in the destination wellness space. The resort, which will be anchored by a 100,000-square-foot spa and wellness facility, is on track to debut sometime next year.

Roger Allen, group CEO of RLA Global, an advisory firm specializing in hospitality, leisure and well-being tourism, said part of the reason that purpose-built, large-scale wellness destinations remain few and far between is that they’re inherently difficult to scale.

“There are some very good wellness brands, but we haven’t really seen them move across the global market like traditional hospitality brands,” said Allen. “It’s very hard to replicate their DNA in other markets. Based on Miraval’s DNA, for example, Miraval needs a very large site. So there are a lot of challenges in replicating those brands.”

Miraval opened its first East Coast resort, and its third property, in western Massachusetts in mid-2020. The Ranch, which has long cultivated a cult following around its Southern California flagship, the Ranch Malibu, and specializes in highly regimented fitness retreats, partnered with the Palazzo Fiuggi Wellness Medical Retreat in Italy earlier this spring to launch the Ranch Italy at Palazzo Fiuggi retreat program. This summer, the brand also said it plans to open an East Coast location, the Ranch Hudson Valley, in upstate New York next summer.

Alex Glasscock, the Ranch’s founder and CEO, said the pandemic played a key role in accelerating the company’s plans to extend its reach. After Covid caused the Ranch Malibu to pause operations for most of the first half of 2020, it ended up with a lengthy waitlist and plenty of pent-up demand. 

“And we noticed that people were booking out further in advance, so we were booked out for a full six months, which was upsetting to a lot of our guests, because they typically don’t want to wait that long,” said Glasscock. “So that really motivated us to open the Ranch Italy and then look at additional locations.”

Also in expansion mode is Sensei, the cutting-edge wellness brand co-founded by tech mogul Larry Ellison. Known for its science-backed, hyperpersonalized wellness approach that takes measure of everything from a guest’s heart rate to REM sleep, Sensei offers its programs at the Sensei Lanai, a Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii and, come November, will open a new outpost, the Sensei Porcupine Creek in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Like the Ranch, Sensei has enjoyed what Kevin Kelly, Sensei’s CEO, describes as “very strong demand” throughout the pandemic.

“Over the last two years, what we’ve found is that our wellness customer spends 50% more when they’re with us versus the traditional luxury traveler,” said Kelly.

New locations fit the brands

Both the Ranch Hudson Valley and Sensei Porcupine Creek will be unique from a site perspective. In order to offer the Ranch’s signature hiking-heavy programming, the Ranch Hudson Valley will be set on an estate that includes more than 200 acres of forest and touts proximity to two state parks.

The 22-room Sensei Porcupine Creek, meanwhile, will occupy what was once Ellison’s 230-acre private estate, which Kelly said will ensure the property “meets the same luxurious requirements” set by the brand’s Lanai-based outpost.

Both properties are also using their expansions to not only cater to existing customers but tap into new demographics and travel occasions.

At the Ranch Hudson Valley, for example, the brand will offer three-day and four-day programs — dubbed the Ranch 3.0 and 4.0, respectively — that provide a shorter, more accessible alternative to the core seven-day retreat available at the Ranch Malibu. 

“Not only have these programs received interest from an individual level, but our intention was to also attract groups with the Ranch 3.0, whether it be corporate groups or groups of friends,” said Glasscock. “We’ve determined that the shorter stay is perfect for groups or companies looking for a wellness backdrop for their brainstorming or planning sessions.”

Sensei’s mainland debut, meanwhile, will give the brand a chance to attract guests from drive markets. 

“There are a lot of people waiting to be able to drive to this property versus fly to Lanai,” said Kelly. “But there’s also the [fly-in demand] from all the major hubs, like New York, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Washington.”

Dawn Oliver, a wellness travel specialist and founder of Florida-based Well Xplored, views new product from the likes of the Ranch as a sign that interest in more serious, results-oriented wellness offerings is on the rise. 

“I’m very excited about the new Ranch that’s opening up,” Oliver said. “And the fact that it’s a rigorous wellness program shows that when it comes to something more rigorous, well, there’s definitely a demand for that.”

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Helsinki Design Tour

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Helsinki Design Tour

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Helsinki has been a popular design destination for decades. Almost as if to remind of it – the city celebrated as World Design Capital in the year 2012.

But long gone are the natives such as architects Aalto and Saarinen – while future creative talents now proudly carry on making the Helsinki of 2020 and beyond.

Helsinki is the centre of arts and sciences in Finland. Finnish design is well renowned, and rightly so. Some of the big names include Iittala, Marimekko, Arabia and Artek.

On the walking portion of the tour, visit the boutiques and galleries of the Design District Helsinki and a drive to the Arabia District, the most important design cluster in Finland – the home to the Iittala Arabia porcelain production.

A walking tour of the Arabia factory includes a visit to the Arabia museum, followed by a shopping break in the factory’s shop.

Have a coffee stop on the way in one of design coffee shops!

Kiasma is a museum of contemporary art under the umbrella of the Finnish National Gallery. The basic functions of the museum are organising changing exhibitions and augmenting its collection, along with research and presentation of the works.

The primary focus in the museum collection is on Finnish contemporary art. The collection is also supplemented by commissioning new work.

The collection is presented to the public in annually changing thematic exhibitions. Kiasma was designed by the American architect Steven Holl and
opened to the public in 1998.

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The tectonic shifts in travel attitudes and behaviours

The Tectonic Shifts in Travel Attitudes and Behaviours

The Tectonic Shifts in Travel Attitudes and Behaviours

September 07, 2022 

Dan Richards is the CEO of Global Rescue, the leading travel risk and crisis response provider, and a member of the U.S. Travel and Tourism Advisory Board at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The 2022 Summer Travellers Safety and Sentiment Survey, conducted between July 12 and 16, 2022, reflects behaviours, attitudes and preferences regarding international and domestic travel from more than 2,100 travellers.


The return to the travel world has been a roller coaster. There are the ups of more countries welcoming visitors, fewer COVID protocols, and fewer hospitalizations—and the downs of the BA.5 variant, airline disruptions and the rising cost of travel. But the Global Rescue Traveller Safety and Sentiment Survey of the world’s most experienced travellers reveals a tectonic shift in behaviour and attitude for the remainder of this year and 2023: Travelers are moving ahead and forging plans to overcome travel barriers.

Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents have already travelled internationally since the pandemic. The balance of trip takers expects to travel abroad by the end of the year (16 percent) or in the first three months of 2023 (9 percent). The percentage of people who have travelled abroad highlights a 33 percent increase compared to traveller responses half a year ago.

The biggest international travel fear is testing positive for COVID and being stranded away from home. The good news is that this fear is declining. A third of respondents (33 percent) listed COVID as the most concerning but it represents a 37 percent decrease from early 2022.

But travel fears aren’t leading to travel cancelations. Despite reports of the latest COVID-19 variant, BA.5, generating waves of reinfections and single-digit increases in U.S. hospitalizations, nearly 80 percent of respondents say the threat of a new COVID variant is unlikely to make them cancel or postpone international travel this year.

Inflation is having a minimal impact on travel: 79 percent of respondents report inflation won’t cause them to cancel their travel plans. More than one-fifth (21 percent) plan to spend more time and money on trips to make up for curtailed travel due to the pandemic.

Staff shortages among pilots, flight attendants, gate agents and ground crews—a new challenge disrupting travel—are affecting travel schedules, but the majority of survey respondents (58 percent) have not been touched by it.

There’s good news for cruises, an industry shut down by the pandemic. Forty percent of respondents have already taken a cruise since the pandemic started or, if they haven’t, they plan to this year. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of respondents feel much safer or safe enough to cruise compared to only 19 percent of respondents earlier this year.

The Russia-Ukraine war is having some impact on traveller decisions. The majority of travelers (60 percent) report some level of concern about international travel since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war. While 90 percent have not changed their travel plans due to the war more than a third are buying security evacuation protection as an additional precaution. But for trips to Eastern Europe, the opposite is happening. More than half of travelers (58 percent) who planned or were planning a trip to Russia, Ukraine or any other country in Eastern Europe report the Russia-Ukraine conflict caused them to cancel or postpone travel to those areas.

Travelers are sending a clear message. By overwhelming margins, they are pressing forward with international and domestic travel despite rising costs and airline staff shortages. The majority of travelers (64 percent) say medical evacuation services are more important than Cancel for Any Reason (18 percent) insurance or traditional travel insurance (15 percent).

They are eager to return to family vacations, adventure travels and business trips. Whether it is revenge travel or responsible travel following vaccination or because travelers learned travel protection for emergency medical services and evacuation is obligatory—or a combination of all three—travelers feel safe enough to plan trips and vacations and they have confidence they’ll be able to get home if the worst happens.

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Behavioural differences among Gen Z and Millennials shoppers

Behavioural differences among Gen Z and Millennials shoppers

Behavioural differences among Gen Z and Millennials shoppers

The research by leading industry travel research agency m1nd-set, is the focus of a two-month study across Millennials and Gen Z shoppers this month and Middle Aged and Senior consumers in September. Among the major differences, m1nd-set reports, is their respective tendency to engage with important shopping influencers, such as communications touch points and sales staff. Gen Zs tend to approach the sales associates in Duty Free shops considerably less than Millennials. Only 38% of the younger age segment say they engage with sales associates, 30% lower than Millennials, 68% of whom interact with store staff. The research, which also compares the shopper behaviour with the average across all age groups reveals that the tendency to engage with sales associates is above average among Millennials as 65% of travellers from all age groups interact with sales staff, according to the m1nd-set research.

The impact of the interaction is also lower among Gen Z shoppers.

More than eight out of ten shoppers among Millennials and all age groups combined report a positive outcome following the interaction, while only 67% of Gen Z shoppers said they purchased a product thanks to the interaction.

Another significant difference in shopper behaviour can be seen in how Gen Zs and Millennials react to communications touch points. More than half of Millennials (55%) notice touch points prior to their purchase in GTR when travelling, above the total for all passengers, which is just below half, at 47%. This contrasts significantly with the behaviour among Gen Zs as only 15% of this younger generation say they noticed touch points prior to purchase. This indicates the generational behaviour differences in general regarding how and where the various age groups source and digest their information.

Peter Mohn, Owner & Chief Executive Officer at m1nd-set, explained: “It is extremely important for travel retail marketers marketing to Millennials and Gen Z travelling consumers to understand where to reach their target audiences when they are not travelling. For both these age segments, it’s clearly online where they can be found but among Gen Zs it’s most commonly on the mobile and via certain social media services.”

”Platforms such as TikTok, Mohn continued “have to be integral to the marketing mix for marketers who are intent on reaching Gen Z shoppers while Millennials are more prone to be across multiple platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.”

Average spend is another area where m1nd-set reports considerable differences between Millennials and Gen Z consumers in Travel Retail. Spend among both age segments is significantly lower than the average among all age groups which is US$101.

For Millennials, average spend is $70, with the highest spend allocated to the Electronics category at $124, followed by Jewellery & Watches at $118 and Fashion & Accessories at $98. Average spend in Travel Retail among Gen Z shoppers is considerably lower at $44, with the highest spend being allocated to Perfumes with $111, Electronics, $103 and Alcohol, $61.

One of the major differences is the overall spend among both age groups. Whether in domestic or Travel Retail, Millennials represent a higher proportion of the overall consumer spend. Both generations combined currently represent just over 30% of total retail spend, but this share is set to increase to 48% by the end of the decade. In Travel Retail, the spend is currently 6% among Gen Z consumers and 25% among Millennials. According to m1nd-set the Millennials’ share of spend in Travel Retail will increase by only a few percentage points by the end of the decade while the growth in spend by 2030 among Gen Zs consumers is expected to be more than
threefold.

Mohn added: “Although a sizeable proportion of the Gen Z consumer generation is still below 18 and whose purchasing power barely surpasses their parents’ allowance, the potential among this generation – both as future customers and disruptors – is not to be underestimated.

“Both Millennials and Gen Zs have a strong tendency to favour sustainable practices when shopping in Travel Retail” Mohn continued. “While they are keen on championing brands with a strong social and environmental impact and story, they are equally intent on shouting out on social media about less virtuous brands and will be quick to name shame companies and brands which do not demonstrate ethical and environmentally friendly practices. This is particularly true among Gen Zs” Mohn concluded.

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‘Spanish Stonehenge’ emerges from drought-hit dam

‘Spanish Stonehenge’ emerges from drought-hit dam

‘Spanish Stonehenge’ emerges from drought-hit dam

Caceres, Spain – A brutal summer has caused havoc for many in rural Spain, but one unexpected side effect of the country’s worst drought in decades has delighted archaeologists – the emergence of a prehistoric stone circle in a dam whose waterline has receded.

Officially known as the Dolmen of Guadalperal but dubbed the “Spanish Stonehenge”, the circle of dozens of megalithic stones is believed to date back to 5000 BC.

It currently sits fully exposed in one corner of the Valdecanas reservoir, in the central province of Caceres, where authorities say the water level has dropped to 28% of capacity.

“It’s a surprise, it’s a rare opportunity to be able to access it,” said archaeologist Enrique Cedillo from Madrid’s Complutense University, one of the experts racing to study the circle before it gets submerged again.

It was discovered by German archaeologist Hugo Obermaier in 1926, but the area was flooded in 1963 in a rural development project under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.

Since then it has only become fully visible four times.

Dolmens are vertically arranged stones usually supporting a flat boulder. Although there are many scattered across Western Europe, little is known about who erected them. Human remains found in or near many have led to an often-cited theory that they are tombs.

Local historical and tourism associations have advocated moving the Guadalperal stones to a museum or elsewhere on dry land.

Their presence is also good news for Ruben Argentas, who owns a small boat tours business. “The dolmen emerges and the dolmen tourism begins,” he told Reuters after a busy day spent shuttling tourists to the site and back.

But there is no silver lining for local farmers.

“There hasn’t been enough rain since the spring… There is no water for the livestock and we have to transport it in,” said Jose Manuel Comendador. Another, Rufino Guinea, said his sweet pepper crop had been ravaged.

Climate change has left the Iberian peninsula at its driest in 1 200 years, and winter rains are expected to diminish further, a study published by the “Nature Geoscience” journal showed.

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American Airlines has ordered 20 Boom Overture supersonic jets

American Airlines has ordered 20 Boom Overture supersonic jets

American Airlines has ordered 20 Boom Overture supersonic jets

American Airlines has ordered 20 of Boom Supersonic’s Overture planes, with an option for 40 more. Overture is estimated to fly up to 80 passengers in an all-business class cabin at a top speed of Mach 1.7. The company, which already has a prototype, recently redesigned the jet for better efficiency and reduced noise.

Boom Supersonic is a Colorado-based startup that’s leading the development of supersonic aircraft to usher in a new era of commercial air travel. In June 2021, it partnered with United Airlines, which ordered 15 of Boom’s $200 million aircraft, Overture, with an option for 35 more. The deal is worth $3 billion.

The planes won’t begin carrying passengers until at least the end of the decade, aiming to fill a void left when the Concorde stopped flying in 2003. Building on earlier commitments by United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Japan Airlines Co., American’s deal expands the supersonic startup’s tally to 35 orders and 130 pre-orders and options. The planes sell for $200 million each, the company said previously.

“What we’re really seeing is that supersonic’s back, and it’s back in a mainstream way,” Blake Scholl, founder and chief executive officer of Boom Technology Inc., said in an interview.

Boom is designing Overture to carry 65 to 80 passengers at speeds of Mach 1.7 over water, double that of conventional jetliners, with a range of 4,250 nautical miles (7,871 km). Travelers would be whisked from Los Angeles to Honolulu in three hours, or Miami to London in a little under five hours.

Scholl is aiming for a broader customer base than the Concorde, which catered to celebrities and the ultrawealthy with tickets that cost as much as four times the price of a typical first-class fare at the time. Only 14 of the pioneering supersonic jets were ever built. Boom’s sales have already doubled that tally, and Scholl says a new partnership for a militarized version with Northrop Grumman Corp. could yield potentially hundreds of orders.

The Denver-based manufacturer plans to run its aircraft on 100% sustainable aviation fuel, a selling point for passengers worried about climate change. But it’s said little about who will make the cleaner engines that will power its aircraft.

“We’re going to make a significant announcement in the next few months,” Scholl said. “And it’s not just about engine technology, it’s also about the engine business model. There’s a lot of opportunity for innovation there.”

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Roam the streets of La Paz in Bolivia

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Roam the streets of La Paz in Bolivia

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August 17, 2022 – Roam the streets of La Paz in Bolivia

The city of La Paz was founded on October 20th, 1548 under the name of La Ciudad de Nuestra Senora de La Paz (The City of Our Lady of Peace).

La Paz is the administrative capital of Bolivia, while Sucre is the constitutional capital and the seat of the Supreme Court. La Paz was established in 1542, and is located in the Andes mountains. Altitude of the city ranges from about 4058 meters (13,313 feet) above sea level in El Alto (where the airport is located) to 3100 meters (10,170 feet) in the lower residential area. It is the highest national capital in the world.

La Paz was built in a canyon created by the Choqueyapu River (now mostly built over), which runs northwest to southeast. The city’s main thoroughfare, which roughly follows the river, changes names over its length, but the central tree-lined section running through the downtown core is called the Prado. La Paz geography (in particular, altitude) reflects society: the lower you go, the more affluent.

While many middle-class pacenos live in high-rise condos near the center, the really rich houses are located in the lower neighborhoods southwest of the Prado. The reason for this division is that the lower you go in the city, the more oxygen there is in the air and the milder the weather is. And looking up from the center, the surrounding hills are plastered with makeshift brick houses of those struggling in the hope of one day reaching the bottom.

In the afternoon panoramic tour. La Paz and its surroundings transport the visitor to a mysterious past, where adventure begins at every corner, on every street; a living history that treasures pre-Hispanic times with all its magical traditions and rituals scattered everywhere.

Indigenous, colonial and contemporary neighborhoods; Indigenous markets, the Witches’ Market and extraordinary landscapes, framed in the majesty of the snow-capped “Illimani”. Also included is a visit to the Valley of the Moon, whose clay formations resemble the face of the moon, as well as a ride on the cable car that offers you a unique view of the city of La Paz, in order to conclude this experience.

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Mega resorts in the Caribbean – Secrets Moxche Playa del Carmen

The most revolutionary mega resorts in the Caribbean - Secrets Moxche Playa del Carmen

The most revolutionary mega resorts in the Caribbean – Secrets Moxche Playa del Carmen

August 17 2022

Secrets Moxche Playa del Carmen, from AMR Collection, is one of the most revolutionary resorts in the Caribbean thanks to its versatile design.

Located in the Riviera Maya, the property has 485 suites; 11 restaurants, including seven that are a la carte; a snack bar by the pool and Coco Café.

The resort is also equipped with seven pools, three artificial cenotes, and a beach-inspired indoor pool designed for intimate gatherings.

It also has a spa and a large meeting space. However, the place stands out for its diverse functionality, since it can be divided into seven rest rooms, a ballroom lobby and an amphitheater.

Combining luxury with romance, the resort also offers its guests unlimited top-notch international and national alcoholic beverages, pool and beach waiting service, daytime activities, evening entertainment and more.

All 485 suites offer a contemporary experience with a natural touch that includes luxurious amenities, stunning views, and an in-room minibar.

Secrets Moxche Playa del Carmen

In addition, all guests receive Unlimited-Luxury®, available to meet every need, including a variety of gourmet restaurants and 24-hour room service.

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Video of low landing Wizz Air at Skiathos Airport, Greece, goes viral

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Video of low landing Wizz Air at Skiathos Airport, Greece, goes viral

A video of a Wizz Air Airbus A321neo (registered HA-LZT) landing at Skiathos Airport in Greece is currently going viral on social media. The footage, captured on 5 August, shows the A321neo landing from flight W68447 from Naples, Italy. 

Wizz Air’s low landing

Tourists and plane spotters are surprised to see the aircraft approaching the runway barely passing the perimeter fence. The jet blast is blowing away sand and dust, and a sun hat.

Surprisingly, the local authorities don’t seem to do much to prevent access to the dangerous area. Back in June, an elderly man was blown into the sea due to the jet blast of a departing aircraft and in July, a British woman suffered brain injuries after she was knocked onto the ground by another aircraft that was taking off.

A YouTube channel by the name “GreatFlyer” posted a video of the aircraft landing. The video starts with the flight coming in towards the island. The camera then zooms and shows the boats sailing in the sea to show how low the flight is. As it approaches land, the flight’s altitude sees a continuous sharp decline and finally skims right above the onlookers’ heads before touching down the runway.

Plane spotting is a nice hobby, but keep it safe…

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Where in the world Spain

Where in the world Spain

Where in the world Spain

Set on an Andalusian mountain plateau, the town of Ronda is just over an hour – and a world away – from the beach resorts of Spain’s Costa Del Sol. This pueblo blanco (white town) has one of the most beautiful settings around, perched precariously on the edge of a gorge surrounded by rolling hills, whitewashed buildings, orange trees and olive groves. 

Ronda is one of Spain’s oldest towns. It was first settled by the Celts and later inhabited by the Romans and Moors, and you can feel its history all around you in its cobbled streets, old mansions and stone churches.

It was a favourite with the 19th century Viajeros Romanticos (romantic travellers) – artists and writers like Orson Welles, Alexander Dumas and Ernest Hemingway who searched for inspiration in Europe’s most unspoilt destinations.

Today Ronda may be a bit more on the tourist trail, but it’s still kept plenty of its original charm. It’s still got that small town feel, with no high-rises or big branded hotels, and if you walk for 20 minutes in any direction you’ll find yourself out in the countryside.

Ronda is close enough to Seville or Málaga for a day trip, but as well as stunning views, there’s more than enough to see and do to make it worth staying a night or two. So if you’re looking for a spot for a relaxed Spanish city break – or an add on to a trip to Seville, Granada or the coast, here are some of my favourite things to do in Ronda.

Spain

Using the space, the visitors of the new wellness centre witness a never-ending dialogue between water and fire, two basic natural elements accentuating the incredible backdrop of the surrounding hill range.

Spain, a country on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula

Including 17 autonomous regions with diverse geography and cultures. Capital city Madrid is home to the Royal Palace and Prado museum, housing works by European masters. Segovia has a medieval castle (the Alcázar) and an intact Roman aqueduct. Catalonia’s capital, Barcelona, is defined by Antoni Gaudí’s whimsical modernist landmarks like the Sagrada Família church.

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What’s cooking in Thailand – Spicy Tom Yum Goong

What's cooking in Thailand - Spicy Tom Yum Goong

What’s cooking in Thailand – Spicy Tom Yum Goong

Delicious Thailand food is universally regarded as some of the world’s finest. The variety of Thai cuisine, especially its world-acclaimed street food, is astounding, but mainly covers noodles, stir-fries, curries, soups and salads, available anywhere from mobile food carts to Bangkok’s Michelin-starred restaurants. For the best Thai food, here’s our recommended top must-try dishes.

Pad Thai (Stir-Fried Noodles)

Thailand’s noodle dishes were introduced by Chinese immigrants and arguably, Pad Thai ranks as the most celebrated all. This signature dish is a great go-to introduction to Thai food as it’s not too spicy. Similar to many dishes, Pad Thai varies regionally, but is classic ingredients of flat rice noodles, seafood (alternatively, chicken, pork, or tofu), dried shrimp, tamarind, fish sauce, bean sprouts, shallots and egg, all stir-fried in a hot wok, plated-up and sprinkled with roasted peanuts, fresh herbs and chilis (optional). Pad Thai epitomizes that Thai trademark sweet, sour and salty combo of flavors and well-balanced texture contrast.

Spicy Tom Yum Goong (Hot & Sour Shrimp Soup)

One of Thailand’s most iconic dishes, this popular soup is a spicy, sour and aromatic tastebud extravaganza! Hailing from the central region, the unique flavors of this piquant clear soup derives from the marriage of fragrant lemongrass, shallots, fish sauce, galangal, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice and red chili peppers. Although shrimp (Goong) is most commonly used – regarded as the most delicious version – other variations cover chicken, fish or mixed seafood. If you find this all too spicy, northern specialty, Thai chicken coconut soup, lends a milder, sweeter and delicious alternative; it has the same sublime flavors and spices, yet the chilies are optional and the creamy coconut milk tempers the heat.

Kaeng Lueang (Yellow Curry)

Thailand’s world-famous curries range from mild to explosive and sweet to sour and invariably concocted with coconut milk, present a soup-like consistency. There are endless regional varieties, but the three main curry types, red, green and yellow are the best known internationally, with differences according to spiciness levels and dominant ingredients.
Yellow curry has a strong southern Thai influence, with a rich texture and characteristic hue derived from generous use of turmeric. This is pounded together with classic aromatic ingredients which usually cover coriander, cumin, shallots, lemongrass and galangal. Coconut milk, vegetables and potatoes are added, along with chicken, or alternative protein or tofu options. As this curry type generally contains less chilies, it isn’t so spicy as its green and red curry counterparts, thus suitable for those – including children – who prefer a mellower taste.

Interested in cooking classes in Thailand to taste this dish?
 

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White water rafting – Cajón del Maipo

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White Water Rafting - Cajón del Maipo

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White Water Rafting – Cajón del Maipo

Known for its natural attractions, it is also a place especially frequented by travelers and locals looking for experiences, activities with a touch of adrenaline.Just 55 minutes from the hotel, we find a sector of the valley that will allow us to carry out some of the most entertaining excursions: Paintball, Canopy and Rafting on the Maipo River.

In the morning one of the elections is held, and after a delicious country lunch, they will go on to the second excursion option. Below you will find the details of each alternative, being able to carry out 2 activities of the 3 options:

The experience of transforming for a while with your teammates into actors from the movie “Platoon” (but shooting colours instead of ammunition!), Filling you with adrenaline while you play, compete and have fun with your teammates developing strategies to fulfil the mission. Beat the opposing side! We carry out 3 types of dynamics, according to the experience of the participants. Each participant will have 150 bullets that he will have to manage wisely so as not to miss opportunities for his team.

Launching along a cable between one bank of the Maipo River while we cross a pine and eucalyptus forest is one of the most exciting activities that can be enjoyed in the Maipo River. Our canopy and the traditional zip line offer us that exciting spectacle, at the same time that we feel the wonderful sensation of the wind brushing our faces and we observe the snow-capped peaks and the torrent that runs several meters below. A difficult experience to match.

We will enjoy the beauty of the Maipo river valley and the Chilean Andes from the best angle: that of its waters! It is an experience that you can hardly forget. Its waters vary from degree of difficulty 3 in the autumn-winter season, to degree 4 in the spring-summer season, increasing the excitement.

The first priority is your safety at all times. Your guide leader will give you a safety talk and you will be given the basic techniques of how to paddle in order to be prepared for the rapids. He will also teach you some basic signs and specific words and finally he will answer all your doubts and questions. A security team will accompany you on each trip at all times.

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Explore magical Muscat

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Explore magical Muscat

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Explore magical Muscat

Firstly visit Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque which has one of the biggest 1 piece handmade Iranian carpets in the world weighing 21 tons and can accommodate up to 20,000 worshippers. The interior walls are made of Carrara marbles.

Notes: Grand Mosque is open from Saturday to Thursday from 0800 hrs to 1100 hrs only. Ladies visiting the mosque are required to cover their head and not wear shorts, beach wear or sleeveless outfits.

Drive to Old Muscat (where guests can see the Al Alam Palace, the official palace of His Majesty and also Jalali Fort & Mirani Fort). Then visit the Muttrah Souq in the heart of Muscat is a traditional market where guests can find fine souvenirs of local handicrafts from Oman. Enjoy the mixed smells of frankincense, perfume oils, fresh jasmine and spices as you stroll along the narrow alleys.

The tour includes the National Museum of Oman, located in front of Alam Palace, which provides the knowledge, culture, life, and history of Oman.

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