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Monday
Sep012014

WALK UP AN APPETITE ON TWO NEW ITALIAN TREKS

Hedonistic Hiking has already created the perfect recipe for an idyllic, food-lovers’ holiday -   a healthy and fun itinerary of walking through wonderful scenery, a generous helping of local seasonal produce, and of course an ample splash of wine to wash it all down. 

The 2015 season offers two new tours for guests’ delectation and delight, taking in some of the most beautiful regions of Italy. With fabulous food and a breath-taking backdrop guaranteed, let Hedonistic Hiking be your gastronomic guide through picturesque Tuscan towns, beautiful Basilicata . . . and everything in between.

La Dolce Vita has never seemed so appealing!

Lucca, Volterra and the Island of Elba

This new tour is a tantalising trail through Tuscany, starting in the historic city of Lucca.  A beautifully preserved city, encircled by its Renaissance walls, Lucca is situated just south of the marble mountains of Carrara, and is a fabulous introduction to the region of Tuscany.

Volterra, a hilltop gem with rich Roman and Etruscan history is the next stop, and offers some rewarding hiking to San Gimignano, with its imposing medieval towers dominating the skyline.

En route to the Island of Elba, the tour stops in Bolgheri, one of the most exciting and innovative wine regions in Italy. There is plenty of time to sample the local merchandise, before moving on to Elba. Noted for its famed exile Napoleon Bonaparte, Elba is the largest island of the Tuscan Archipelago, and is part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park. From craggy peaks to bustling tourist towns and vast expanses of beach, guests will be spoiled by all that magical Elba has to offer.

The tour starts and ends in Pisa, Tuscany but many people choose to extend their walking holiday in Italy by visiting Florence, Siena, Parma, Rome or the Cinque Terre. 

 

Basilicata: The land where time stood still

 Another addition to 2015’s fiesta of tours is the Basilicata trail. Largely undiscovered by tourists, Basilicata remains untouched by the hand of modernity – so much so that it seems as though time stands still.

 Beginning in the scenic town of Maratea on the west coast, the tour heads inland to the magnificent Pollino National Park, where a secluded mountain refuge at 1350m will become home for 3 nights.  Unrivalled scenery and nothing but nature will make for a truly unforgettable experience, before the tour makes its final stop in the city of Matera. 

 A Unesco World Heritage site, Matera offers unique accommodation in the form of an “Albergo Diffuso” – or a “scattered hotel” – with rooms sympathetically converted from the town’s original cave dwellings. Each room boasts quirky individual features in a fabulous setting, which is bolstered by a fascinating walk through this unique and compelling historic city and its surrounding countryside.

 This tour starts and finishes in Naples, but guests might choose to extend their walking holiday in Italy by seeing more of Naples, or visiting Florence, Rome or Pompei and the Amalfi coast.

 For a full range of itineraries visit www.hedonistichiking.com or call Hedonistic Hiking on 01858 565 148.

Wednesday
Aug272014

WELCOME TO THE HOT TUB!

Hot Tub

The best way to relax after a fun day’s skiing

We all know the best bit of a ski holiday is the après-ski and relaxing post-piste just became a whole lot more luxurious, with eight brand new hot tubs added to VIP SKI chalets in Val d’Isere.

With an astonishing 80% of all VIP SKI enquiries requesting hot tubs last winter, there is certainly a demand . . . and this takes the total number of VIP SKI chalets with hot tubs as standard to 41 – so the hardest decision will be deciding which one to choose!

Centrally located on the Val d’Isere high street, the Aspen Lodge Suites are already the go-to choice for regular VIP SKI’ers and with the new addition of three communal hot tubs and three private hot tubs, their popularity is set to go through the roof.

The communal hot tubs, which are accessible for all guests staying at the Aspen Lodge Suites, will add a touch of indulgence to the terrace at the rear of the property, while three of the contained suites will benefit from the addition of private hot tubs – situated on the balcony, naturally. What better way to enjoy the sights and sounds of Val d’Isere than a sunset hot tub session, pastis in hand?

For those seeking a little more solitude, Chalet Klosters in the peaceful Le Cret area of Val d’Isere is the ideal choice. Located in a quiet, but sun-drenched, cul-de-sac, Chalet Klosters is another VIP Ski property to boast a brand new hot tub. The balcony hot tub adds a modern twist to the traditional “chocolate-box” style chalet. And the quiet cul-de-sac location is perfect for those who prefer a little privacy whilst soothing away the aches and pains after a hectic day on the slopes! Prices at Chalet Klosters starts from £789 pp.

And, if adding a hot tub to proceedings just isn’t enough, then look no further than the opulent Chalet Madrisah. Also located in the Le Cret area, the four-bedroomed Chalet Madrisah not only features a brand new indoor hot-tub, but also boasts the ultimate in luxury – a full wet-room and sauna. What better way to blow of some post-ski steam?

For more information call VIP SKI on 0844 557 3119 or book online at www.vip-chalets.com

Tuesday
Aug262014

VIP SKI unveils new luxury accommodation

La Petit Ferme bedroom

La Petite Ferme offers luxury and comfort in Val d’Isere

As a brand new next-door neighbour to the perpetually popular Farmhouse, Val d’Isere’s latest chalet, La Petite Ferme, is already shaping up to be the hottest new holiday pad.

Nestled in the heart of the cobbled old village, La Petite Ferme is just a short stroll from the famous picturesque church and only a few minutes walk from the bustling bars and restaurants ­–­ and, of course, the slopes.  It’s the perfect location for enjoying the pleasures of exclusive Val d’Isere.  

Under the watchful gaze of its 200-year-old neighbour, this beautiful chalet is bursting with charm and character: think exposed wooden beams, thick stones walls and an inviting open fire.  As well as boasting the best in rustic barn conversion features, La Petite Ferme also offers spacious, open-plan living and dining areas.  

Privately owned for the past decade, its history goes much further back, as can be seen in the 1762 date carved into the stone at the back of its impressive fireplace. Of similar gargantuan dimensions are the thick walls and massive timber beams that frame the grand vaulted ceilings and a luxurious mezzanine level.

All of this is the result of a sympathetic, two year-long restoration: the reward for guests is a seamless blend of traditional and modern and a fusion of classic furnishings and rich décor to create an extraordinarily special chalet.

With three en-suite bedrooms (plus an additional bunk room) spread over three floors, La Petite Ferme accommodates 6-8 guests in absolute luxury and comfort. And, if enjoying the après-ski on the mezzanine level isn’t enough to tempt you, La Petite Ferme also features flat screen TV’s, WiFi and iPod connectivity – perfect to help with unwinding after a fun day on the slopes.  

And why not make the most of the ski chalet services? From VIP SKI catering to welcome champagne and canapés, VIP SKI has every base covered to make your stay as luxurious and stress-free as possible. If you really want to push the boat out, don’t forget VIP SKI also offers a Platinum Service with private transfer, dedicated chef, bespoke a la carte menus, sommelier selected wines, port, handmade chocolates and complimentary bar filled with the client’s favourite goodies.

For more information call VIP SKI on 0844 557 3119 or book online at www.vip-chalets.com                      

Tuesday
Aug192014

VIP SKI offers the ultimate in Alpine living

Three of the best: VIP SKI introduces beautiful new chalets

Alpine living in Morzine has never looked more attractive . . . and now with the addition of three new chalets in the heart of the premier French ski resort, where altitude accommodation is about to reach new heights of luxury.

Located on the main street, just a snowball’s throw away from the Super Morzine bubble lift and the nursery slopes at Pleney, VIP SKI’s luxury new chalets are the epitome of comfort, opulence and style. Their prime location in the heart of town not only offers the perfect base for enjoying all that Morzine has to offer, but also boasts the best views.

From the snow-dusted pistes to the picturesque traditional streets, Little Lumi, Chalet Nevada  and Chalet Kenai invite skiers to indulge in the holiday delights of Morzine. And whether clients are an adrenaline-fuelled thrill-seeker on the slopes or prefer the après-ski, the chalets have something for everyone.

 Little Lumi is cosy, comfortable and chic, and offers four guests the perfect Morzine oasis. This two-bedroomed property (both bedrooms are en-suite, naturally!) benefits from a flat-screen TV, WiFi, south facing balconies and endless sofa space. And, as if this wasn’t all tempting enough, there is an open fire to amplify the cosiness, and a decadent heated terrace for basking in the sun with a pastis in hand. With so much to offer indoors, hitting the slopes may seem like a chore!

Chalet Nevada is a contemporary three-bedroom chalet that offers six guests the ultimate relaxation experience. The fresh contemporary decor is accompanied by an open fire, flat screen TV, WifFi and a heated south-facing terrace. After basking in the alpine sunshine, head indoors to enjoy the piece de resistance . . . a fabulous 15ft-long sofa!

Chalet Kenai is the third new VIP SKI chalet in Morzine. There are no magic tricks at work here – the grandeur of this high-ceilinged, spacious penthouse pad is all real. Live la belle epoque, with three en-suite bedrooms, a private heated terrace, flat screen TV, open fire, WiFi and the very best views in town.

VIP SKI (0844 557 3119; www.vip-chalets.com) Prices include return flights from London Gatwick, coach transfers, accommodation, catered chalet board of cooked breakfast, afternoon tea, three course evening meal on six nights followed by cheese board and coffee and mints, house wine, champagne and canapés on arrival, wake up drinks and complimentary toiletries. Guests can also choose to book; Manchester flights, valet parking, private transfers and private VIP SKI nannies. Discounts of £100 are available as an early booking incentive on selected ‘saver’ weeks through the season.

With these luxuries as standard in all three chalets, the biggest decision next season will be deciding which one to choose!

Don’t forget VIP SKI also offers a Platinum Service with private transfer, dedicated chef, bespoke a la carte menus, sommelier selected wines, port, handmade chocolates and complimentary bar filled with the client’s favourite goodies. A further upgrade could include a helicopter to whisk guests from the airport to their luxury chalet. With the new accommodation due to be ready for 2014/15 season, don’t hang around to book. They’re sure to fill up tout suite!                                           

 

Saturday
Aug162014

QUARK EXPEDITIONS┬« LAUNCHES NEW SHIP FOR ANTARCTICA 2015.16

 Endeavour

Quark Expeditions®, the polar expedition leader announces the addition of a third small expedition ship to its Antarctic fleet. The 199-passenger Ocean Endeavour will replace the Sea Spirit during the 2015/16 Antarctic season. Quark offers a greater choice of vessels and number of voyages to Antarctica than any other operator.

Following a million-dollar makeover, Ocean Endeavour will be ready to set sail for 12 once-in-a lifetime voyages to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and South Georgia in November 2015. She is expertly engineered to explore the Polar Regions, with an ice-strengthened hull, Zodiacs for exploration and remote landings, generous deck space and advanced navigation equipment. The ship’s interiors have a contemporary aesthetic that provides a bright and spacious feel to the cabins and common spaces.

Endeavour will be the only polar adventure ship in Antarctica with a special focus on health and wellness. Passengers electing to participate can enjoy healthy meals, take part in yoga and stretching classes, indulge in a massage therapy session or take advantage of the sauna or gym all while also experiencing all the same exciting daily expedition activities available on every voyage.

“All our expeditions offer intimate, life-enriching voyages to rare and remote destinations, and now with Ocean Endeavour travelers can experience Antarctica in an overall envelope of wellness that will complement their adventure and feed their mind, body and soul,” said Hans Lagerweij, president of Quark Expeditions®. “Endeavour will feature a broad-based approach to health and wellness as part of the onboard experience, from the food to the activities in addition to providing the same incomparable expedition experience that makes Quark the leader in Polar adventures. It will be part of the overall experience of unplugging from the world and immersing yourself in this pristine wilderness.”

The ship will offer the same great all-inclusive features as Quark’s other ships, with pre-night hotel, all onboard meals, complimentary hot beverages, transfers to and from the ship, lectures and two shore excursions every day. In addition, Endeavour will feature unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, wine service with dinner as well as a wellness café and juice bar.

Cabin Types

With the growing demand of solo travelers, a number of cabins will be priced for single occupancy and will have no single supplement. Overall, Polar travelers will have a choice of 13 different categories of accommodation, from the spacious owner’s suite to a range of twin, triple and single cabins.

New Adventure Activity

Quark will also be the first operator to introduce stand-up paddleboarding in Antarctica as an optional activity on all voyages aboard the Ocean Endeavour. Those looking to explore the more untouched and remote corners of the Antarctic Peninsula will also be able to experience camping, kayaking, mountaineering and cross-country skiing on select trips.

How to Book For more information visit www.quarkexpeditions.com   or call 0808 120 2333