INSIDE: INDIA COSTA RICA SEYCHELLES RIVER CRUISES JORDAN EUROPEAN SHORT BREAKS
Find out more about our expert team of travellers
4 INDIA & THE HIMALAYAS
Gemma’s maiden, inspiring voyage to India
5 GRENADA & SEYCHELLES
Gemma & Ray revisit Grenada; Jackie’s in paradise
6 RIVER CRUISES
Gemma on the Rhine & Moselle; Terry tours the Danube
7 COSTA RICA
Susie goes off the beaten track in Central America
8 JORDAN & ITALIAN VILLAS
Gemma & Ray in the Middle East and a weekend in Lucca
9 TUSCANY & AMSTERDAM
Jackie on foot in Tuscany; Aly reminisces in Amsterdam
10 SOUTH AFRICA & ICELAND
Hanna is in love with South Africa & Susie’s 4x4 adventures
11 WANDERING STAR
The lovely Joanna Lumley, talks travel, music and opera
12 SHORT BREAKS
Terry and Hanna enjoy Zurich, Tenerife and Greece
13 WHAT’S NEW
Haslemere Literary Luncheon; Fab Caribbean prize!
14 CALENDAR OF EVENTS 2017-18
Where to go worldwide from January to December...
15 CALENDAR OF EVENTS 2017-18
...and more ideas from January to December
© COPYRIGHT HASLEMERE TRAVEL
Whilst every effort has been taken in compiling this publication, Haslemere Travel cannot
accept responsibility for any inaccuracies or omissions. Haslemere Travel reserves all rights
including copyrights in this Guide. This Guide may not be copied, reprinted, reproduced or
transmitted in any form or in part without the prior written consent of Haslemere Travel.
Haslemere Travel will take any necessary legal steps including issuing proceedings and
seeking damages to enforce its rights in this Guide. Information correct at time of going to
print. Subject to change without notice. Hotels and facilities featured are detailed only as
a guide and not given as a recommendation or recommended above any other. Inclusion in
this Guide should not be seen as a recommendation by Haslemere Travel.
Published in 2016
Haslemere Travel Ltd,
2/4 Petworth Road,
Tel: 01428 658 777
DESIGN & PRODUCTION
The Carrier Group
Printed on certified paper from managed
forests using vegetable based inks.
Cover Image: The awe-inspiring Treasury at Petra, Jordan.
See Gemma’s Jordan report on page 8.
My first year as owner of Haslemere Travel has certainly
been busy and eventful! Having just returned from two
amazing trips to Jordan (see page 8), I barely had time to
dust the sand off my shoes before flying to Lisbon for the
last little jaunt of the year. But that’s the way we like it here
– our passion for travel and our frequent visits to worldwide
luxury destinations, in search of up-to-date knowledge and
exclusive benefits for our clients, is what sets us apart from
any other travel company. As they say, it’s not always what
you know, but who you know. (We’re thrilled Joanna Lumley
told us her travel tales, see page 11...)
We have also been working hard on organising new
events. The latest of these is our exciting Haslemere
Travel Literary Evening in May, which will be part of the
2017 Haslemere Festival.
The Russian theme for this special occasion includes
Anna Pasternak, author of a new book about the woman
who inspired her great-uncle, Boris Pasternak, to write Dr
Zhivago; as well as Downton Abbey’s celebrated producer
Liz Trubridge, who will be bringing the book to TV screens
soon. Excitingly, we will also be launching a bespoke
Russian travel experience in partnership with Kirker Holidays.
One of my happiest tasks in 2016 has been to proudly
collect several industry awards on behalf of the team,
which take pride of place in our shop. And in the spirit of
rewards, it is my great pleasure to announce that for the
first time, Haslemere Travel will be rewarding loyal clients
with the opportunity to win a Caribbean holiday, to be taken
in 2018. Every client who books a holiday with us in 2017
will be entered into the prize draw – the more you book, the
more entries you will receive (see page 13 for more details.)
Do follow us on twitter, facebook and Instagram, check
our website or send me an email to sign up to our regular
newsletter and we can keep you informed of the very best
holiday offers, our travel news and forthcoming events.
I hope you enjoy this magazine and we look forward to
helping you plan your next travel adventure.
Please follow us and tag us into your holiday snaps
2 TRAVELLER 2017 haslemeretravel.co.uk 01428 658 777
GEMMA & RAY
Room with the best view?
Ladera, St Lucia – 1,000ft
above the sea and between
the Piton mountains
Most romantic hotel?
Ladera, St Lucia – where
we had our honeymoon
We never forget to pack...
Insect repellent, Gemma
having had malaria twice
Room with the best view?
The Dolder Grand overlooking
Lake Zurich (page 12) or the
Felix Bar on the 28th floor of
the Peninsula hotel, Kowloon
Hong Kong. Hard to choose...
Most romantic hotel?
The Ocean Pavilion Suite at
Huvafen Fushi, Maldives
I never forget to pack...
Room with the best view?
Wildflower Hall, Shimla,
8,000ft up in the Himalayas
Most romantic hotel?
Tintswalo, Atlantic Hotel,
Cape Town, South Africa
I never forget to pack...
Room with the best view?
On safari from our tent
in Kenya where we
watched zebra, giraffe and
wildebeest wandering past
Most romantic hotel?
Kiwayu in Kenya
I never forget to pack...
A good book
Room with the best view?
Ms Savor (Tauck) cruising
along the Danube - so many
beautiful views (see p6)!
Most romantic hotel?
Gran Hotel Son Net, Mallorca
I never forget to pack...
My own case! You don’t
get nick-named “Lady Lost
Luggage” for nothing!
Room with the best view?
Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur,
India. Or Hotel Danieli, Venice
Most romantic hotel?
Villa San Michele, Florence or
almost anywhere on Tioman
I never forget to pack...
OUR ELITE CONSULTANTS
As well as the team in our shop (many of whom are
pictured above), Haslemere Travel also boasts a
bespoke division of Elite Travel Consultants (pictured
left with Gemma), selling luxury travel to their own
Based across the UK in locations as wide ranging as
Edinburgh, West Sussex, London and Dorset, these
passionate and knowledgeable team members enjoy
full admin support from our Haslemere HQ and benefit
from regular training and educational opportunities.
If you would like to get in touch with one of our
Elite Consultants or find out how you could join
this team, contact Gemma via email at:
01428 658 777 haslemeretravel.co.uk TRAVELLER 2017 3
INDIA & THE HIMALAYAS
“I WAS IMMEDIATELY
AMAZED BY ALL
INDIA & THE HIMALAYAS
GEMMA’S FIRST TRIP TO INDIA WAS
AN UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE
After an easy, direct flight with Virgin to New
Delhi, in April I took my first steps in India. I was
immediately amazed by all the wondrous colours,
sights and smells, my senses were on full alert.
After a comfortable night in the capital at the Oberoi
Gurgaon hotel, I took a brief orientation tour, driving
past the Presdient’s House, Parliament House and
admiring the most imposing features of renowned
Surrey architect Sir Edwin Lutyens’ designs for Delhi.
A visit to the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, the largest
Sikh temple in Delhi, with its glistening gold dome,
was inspirational. Our fascinating day ended with
dinner at the iconic 1930s, 5-star hotel Imperial.
The following morning we caught a short domestic
flight to Dehradun, with a one-hour transfer in
air-conditioned, chauffeured vehicles to Ananda in
the Himalayas, a renowned destination spa in the
foothills of the Himalayas (pictured above, top right).
Nothing prepares you for your first sight of this
mountain range, it is the definition of awe-inspiring
and one I will never forget. Located in the tranquil
foothills, this extraordinary hotel, close to the
mythological cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh,
is surrounded by forests, overlooking the sacred
Ganges as it meanders in the distance.
The views may leave you breathless, but the
hotel takes you back to a calm, bygone age, as
the façade of the palace of the Maharaja of Tehri
Garhwal fronts the hotel. Having played host to
some of India’s most renowned heads of state
during the Maharaja’s reign, it now offers complete
luxury for the traveller. A billiards room houses the
oldest billiards table in India; while the Viceregal
Tea Lounge retains the old-world charm and
understated elegance of times gone by – a perfect
place to enjoy a cup of Darjeeling tea. With 70
elegant rooms and suites, as well as three villas,
each has a panoramic view of the palace or valley.
The hotel offers a wide range of activities, such
as water rafting on the Ganges river with its
formidable rapids, nature walks, treks and a safari
option in Rajaji National Park, spread across 820 sq
km around Ananda, home to 500 elephants and a
But my favourite pastime was experiencing what
the amazing Spa had to offer, one of the best in the
world. First I had my dosha read and then followed
the programme given to me by the Ayurvedic doctor.
I enjoyed plenty of Ayurvedic treatments and was
well and truly rubbed, scrubbed and pummelled. As
a novice, I also enjoyed yoga at dawn every morning.
I returned home feeling very Zen and spiritual
(pictured above, top left). I can’t recommend this
highly enough as a way to de-stress.
But the true essence of India and the highlight event
for me was the lighting of the lamps for Ganga Aarati
at Rishikesh, a wonderful, Hindu spiritual experience;
performed each evening at sundown on the banks of
the holy river, it starts with sacred chants and a fire
ceremony and ends with singing by saffron-robed
disciples as the sun sets. A photo opportunity not to
be missed (pictured above, bottom left).
“NOTHING PREPARES YOU
FOR YOUR FIRST SIGHT OF
THIS MOUNTAIN RANGE”
Back in Delhi, I ended my stay with a night at one
of India’s newest and most luxurious destination
resorts, the all-suite ITC Grand Bharat, which is a
1.5 hour drive from the capital.
Prior to going to India, I was excited but a little
apprehensive about my inaugural visit – including
fears about stomach upsets – but they were very
quickly dissipated. Yes, the driving can be hairraising,
with 8-lane motorways and cars avoiding
cows every now and then – but the people we met
were universally welcoming and kind, I felt very well
for the entire stay and I can’t wait to go back and
experience the many wondrous sights and sounds
I found on this extraordinary visit.
4 TRAVELLER 2017 haslemeretravel.co.uk 01428 658 777
Gemma and Ray go back to this spice island
In June, we revisited Grenada after many years
absence and were reminded how much we liked
this Caribbean, spice island gem. After a direct
Virgin Atlantic flight, our two-week trip begun in
5-star, family-owned Calabash Luxury Boutique
& Spa, a resort with a laidback Caribbean vibe;
breakfasts are ordered the night before and
served in your verandah or balcony, so no queues
at busy buffets!
Food features highly, it is home to two of the
island’s best restaurants, including Gary Rhodes’
restaurant for special occasions – and of course
no trip to this scenic island would be complete
without a visit to taste the yummy products at
Diamond Chocolate factory. I also recommend
an island tour, to see its beautiful waterfalls and
taste spices galore. The beautiful flora of the
island bloom everywhere, such as the striking
native plant Helonica (pictured right).
Refurbished last year, Calabash has only 30 rooms
(some suites with plunge pools) and 5 estate
houses, so its intimate atmosphere is a huge
attraction, with a great spa and amazing views
from its cliff-edge location overlooking the bay.
We also loved 5-star Spice Island Beach Resort,
owned and managed by Sir Royston Hopkin – this
is a hotspot for the Royal family, as Princess Anne
has visited a number of times and Prince Harry
recently stayed during his official tour at the end
of last year. Set on the quieter southern end of
the famous Grand Anse beach, it is a full-service
resort with spa, kids club and water sports. The
international-style service is exceptional and we
loved the Seagrape suites right on the beach, with
direct access to the beautiful white sands.
Gemma, Ray and Aurelia basking in the sunshine of the Caribbean
Jackie is enchanted by her first visit to
My inaugural trip to this archipelago of 115
islands in the Indian Ocean last November
exceeded all my high expectations. The famous
turquoise waters surround pristine, dazzling
white beaches framed by granite boulders. My
top recommendation is to combine a couple of
islands during any trip, as the topography differs
greatly. The inner granite and smaller islands
(where the majority of the population live)
clustered around Mahe, Praslin and La Digue
are lush, tropical verdant forests with a rich
diversity of flora and fauna. Praslin is home to
the Vallee de Mai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
where an abundance of the curious Coco de Mer
grow, one of the botanical wonders of the world;
in contrast, the outer islands are a sparkling
array of flat, coralline islands extending
westwards towards the coast of Africa.
The Seychelles offers superb sailing, diving and
excellent fishing, home to some of the world’s
rarest species of birds, giant tortoises and
magnificent palm trees. It has many influences
– African, Asian and even Caribbean! But the
vibe in general is slower...
My first night was spent at 4-star Constance
Ephelia Resort, set within 120 acres and with
a plethora of activities to choose from – ideal
for families. From there, I flew to Denis Island
Private Island; fringed by coral reefs, white
sands and coconut palms. This is an unspoilt
paradise, somewhere to get away from the
stresses of life! No TV and little internet, so
not for those who want to remain in touch 24/7.
Cottages are dotted around the island; it has
a rustic charm and feels very much as if you
have been invited to stay as a guest. The staff
were always friendly, but not with a feeling
that they were told to! The owners live in a very
understated house and very much take part in
the running of the island. Conservation is very
important; they have the most amazing farm and are
nearly completely self-sufficient. It was my favourite
island and I would love to go back!
A good alternative for those who want more on
offer, The Four Seasons in Mahe has a welcoming
atmosphere, set among dense tropical greenery, with
villas dotted around the hillside with amazing views.
It combines luxury with locally inspired architecture.
Many different activities are on offer, with a fun kids
club and water sports centre.
Recently refurbished, Constance Lemuria in Praslin is
a large resort, but if you are a keen golfer this is ideal
for you; the Seychelles’ only golf course must have
some of the best views ever! The resort straddles two
lovely beaches, with immaculate gardens.
For good weather, you can travel to the Seychelles
most of the year (except perhaps Nov-Jan). As it is
tropical you have to expect some showers, but they
seem to be short-lived and it’s always warm (rarely
cooler than 24 or above 33 degrees C). Happily, the
islands are malaria-free; Oct-May is best for water
sports as the sea is calmer.
With a plethora of five-star hotels available, my
advice is book to go now!
01428 658 777 haslemeretravel.co.uk TRAVELLER 2017 5
RHINE & MOSELLE
Gemma tours two scenic inland waterways
For my first river cruise, in May I travelled on Tauck’s
MS Grace, along the scenic northbound Rhine and
Moselle inland waterways, for the first five days of
a 13-day itinerary, beginning my journey in Basel,
For my first full day, a knowledgeable and affable
local guide took us on a tour of the city by comfortable
coach, followed by a walking tour of the Old Town,
including the red-painted city hall, the Rathaus. (A full
day in lakeside Lucerne was another option.)
The third day was spent in Strasbourg, the crossroads
of Europe, where we drove through the beautiful city’s
European Union district and admired the modern
architecture of the European Parliament buildings.
The 11th century Gothic cathedral was fascinating,
with its stunning pink facade; Petite-France is
one of Strasbourg’s prettiest and most enchanting
neighbourhoods. Alsatian folklorists performed before
we had dinner back on board.
The following day’s highlight was a trip to Baden-
Baden and the Black Forest, a favourite spa
destination of royal visitors and celebrities, including
Queen Victoria, Brahms and Napoleon III; the Casino is
the oldest and most traditional in Europe. Shuttles to
and from the destinations were available throughout
the afternoon, also returning us to the boat for lunch.
My final day was spent in the romantic town of
Heidelberg, where we took a walking tour of the Old
Town Square and visited the ruins of Heidelberger
Schloss, Germany’s finest Gothic-Renaissance castle.
In the afternoon, the boat set sail for Rüdesheim in
the Rhine Valley wine country for a special reception
and dinner ashore at Schloss Johannisberg or Burg
Schwarzenstein, estates that have been producing
wine for more than 1,000 years.
River cruises are an excellent way to explore the
historic, cultural and culinary traditions that
have evolved in these areas of central Europe. I
was pleasantly surprised how spacious and well
appointed the ship was, with excellent food and
service; there was a high staff to guest ratio, with a
mix of nationalities on board (US, New Zealand, UK
and others). Dress code for dining is resort casual,
although flip-flops and shorts are discouraged in the
evening. Conveniently, all gratuities, including those
for bus drivers, local guides, restaurant and hotel
staff, are included in the price of the holiday.
On my final day, I was very reluctant to return home
and leave my fellow passengers who happily went on
to sail down these beautiful rivers for another week…
Terry travels along one of Europe’s largest rivers
Joining the Eastbound Danube cruise last August in
Passau, Bavaria (having missed the first two days
in Prague of the week-long trip), I was allocated an
extremely comfortable and spacious cabin, which was
blissfully quiet, despite the fact it was at the rear of
the ship. The two floor-to-ceiling windows afforded
amazing views and the cabin stewardess was efficient
and friendly, placing full tour details and next day’s
events itinerary in my cabin each day.
There was a good and interesting range of locations
to explore along this majestic river. I undertook
excursions to Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic); Grein,
Grafenegg and Gottweig (Austria); Cerveny Kamen
Castle (Slovakia); and the Belvedere Palace and
Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna. Nothing was too much
trouble for the Tauck team; if anyone wished to visit
somewhere independently, such as a church, then they
would happily arrange it via a taxi ride – I am unaware
of any other company that would arrange this as a
The tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and
the information cards and leaflets packed with useful
information on each port of call. Small groups would
be taken in opposite directions to avoid overcrowding;
and, conveniently, tips were sorted directly by Tauck.
Special events, such as a Gala Dinner in an imperial
palace with music, or a special luncheon in a heuriger
(typical tavern with music) are exclusive to Tauck and
prove popular. The coaches were spotless, with plenty
of bottled water available if required.
But the ship itself was the real star. MS Savor carries
a maximum of 130 guests in 67 cabins and suites,
located on three decks. The entire top level is a Sun
Deck, with a putting green and a plunge pool at the
rear, with ample chairs and loungers and shading if
The palatial landmark Grand Hotel Wein in Vienna
where I stayed was centrally located, with easy access
to various museums, parks, churches, galleries and
shopping, with pavement cafes nearby. Luggage was
taken care of from cabin to the hotel room and viceversa
My first – and hopefully not my last – river cruise on
one of Tauck’s vessels, was an amazing adventure,
which offered plenty of opportunity for immersion in
different cultures. There was not one element of this
trip that I could fault, from start to finish!
6 TRAVELLER 2017 haslemeretravel.co.uk 01428 658 777
CO STA RICA
SUSIE FINDS SOME WONDERFUL
WILDLIFE OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Costa Rica has long been regarded as the
“Switzerland of the Americas”, with its peaceful
history, lack of armed forces and scenic
pasturelands; but it also boasts magnificent wildlife,
a rugged Pacific coastline, as well as Caribbean
beaches, 800 species of bird, four types of primate,
two species of sloth, numerous snakes and insects.
A nature lover’s paradise, where the countrywide
emphasis on protection has allowed most species
I visited in June and flew directly with BA to San
Jose, staying overnight at the peaceful Hotel Grano
de Oro, converted from a tropical Victorian mansion.
An early start the next day (with breakfast boxes
provided) was followed by a drive along the Pan
American highway towards the Caribbean coast to
Torteguero and the riverside Pachira Lodges (short
flights are also an option). The last leg of our journey
was by boat, a great way to start spotting wildlife –
we saw caiman, geckos and red dart frogs.
“BEWARE - MONKEYS
CAN SPRING OUT AT YOU
AT ANY MOMENT!”
On arrival, we were immediately introduced to more
of the celebrated Costa Rican wildlife, as monkeys
can spring out at you at any moment! Boat trips
along the river gave me the opportunity to spot
more animals (such as armadillo, howler and spider
monkeys, white-faced capuchins, lizards, turtles
and a variety of birds) – I suggest either the 6am
or 4pm trips for the best chance to see them active.
July and August is the best time to go if you want to
see the turtles laying their eggs.
An alternative hotel I also recommend was the
Evergreen, which has 66 rooms and bungalows,
a good pool area and plenty of activities on offer, as
well as a canopy tour, kayaks and river guides.
After a short flight with amazing views of Torteguero,
the river and national park, we arrived back at San
Jose and a nearby coffee plantation, before reaching
Poas Volcano. One highlight of our stay at Relais
& Chateaux property El Silencio in Bajos del Toro
(approximately 1.5 hours from San Jose) was a walk
to the waterfall; it is set in a 550-acre cloud forest
reserve close to Poas Volcano Park.
Next on our fascinating trip was Arenal, a very active
destination for adrenaline junkies, activities range
from hiking up Arenal or zip wiring to Zorbing. I
chose to visit the hanging bridges of Mistico. Our
first attempt was thwarted by an amazing thunder
and lightning show; the guide was very informative
about both flora and fauna. The Arenal Springs Hotel
is great for families, with three restaurants, some
interconnecting rooms and pools heated from the
hot springs. I particularly liked the Kioro Hotel, with
rooms which have hot tubs and full views of the
volcano (pictured below).
Following a drive down the Pacific coast – via
a stop at Monteverde to see the wonderful sloths
(pictured below) – we arrived in the town of Manuel
Antonio, with a chance to relax by the sea. But
wildlife is still never far away, with an early morning
visit to the national park offering us the chance
to see more sloths and especially capuchins, who
seemed to know when we were due to eat our
lunches on the beach and raided our backpacks!
Arenas del Mar is a boutique hotel within walking
distance of the national park and a good choice for
those seeking relaxation. Si Como No hotel has its
own conservation programme of rescued alligators
and is very popular with couples, as they boast
amazing honeymoon suites with stunning views
of the ocean. My hotel for two nights, The Parador
Resort, is built high over the coastline in 12 acres
of tropical rainforest with a resident sloth; another
good option for families with four pools and a swim
up bar for adults, tennis courts, spa and babysitting.
Once again you have to be prepared for wildlife to
carry on with their busy lives around you…
01428 658 777 haslemeretravel.co.uk TRAVELLER 2017 7
I T A L I A N
Gemma & Ray’s long weekend in Lucca
Italy is always popular with our clients and thus we
are constantly seeking new experiences for you to
enjoy. Which is why Ray and I found ourselves in
Lucca, Tuscany last October, when the weather is
invariably still mild.
We stayed at one of the many delightful, luxury three
to 14 bedroom villas available, many of which offer
spectacular views, while all of them are gorgeous,
traditional homes, which can also be fully staffed
and catered if you wish. And happily the famous
wine regions of the area are never far away.
Gemma & Ray enjoy a Middle East experience
Having never been to the Hashemite Kingdom of
Jordan before last year, I was lucky enough to go
twice in 2016 – in both September and November
(the only difference being that temperatures were
much cooler later in the year).
We soon discovered that Jordan is steeped in
history; it has been home to some of mankind’s
earliest settlements and relics of the world’s
great civilisations can still be seen, unspoilt,
today. We knew relatively little of Jerash (above
right) beforehand; the stunning, preserved ruins
of what was once one of the greatest provincial
cities in Rome’s empire (and just two hours
from the capital Amman.) It is well worth a visit,
accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who can
bring the once great city to life.
But what most visitors associate with Jordan is
the extraordinary city of Petra (above left) and
this must be a highlight for any trip (4 hours from
Amman). Made famous to a generation of fans by
the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this
legendary city, built in solid, pink sandstone rock,
is approached through a narrow gorge, known as
the Siq, which builds the suspense. The first sight
of the celebrated Treasury building really does
leave you speechless…
For those seeking rest and relaxation, Jordan
has the ultimate experience – a float and mud
treatment at the Dead Sea is unforgettable –
don’t forget to take something to read for the
proverbial float photo!
Only two hours from Amman, Ray’s highlight
was the 4x4 jeep safari in the deserts of Wadi
Rum (below), made famous by the heroic
exploits of Lawrence of Arabia, when he
played a pivotal role in the struggle for power
in the Middle East. A camel ride across these
isolated rocks and sands is a memorable way
to travel too, especially to a Bedouin camp for
a traditional meal and music. The silence in
the desert is awe-inspiring – and nights are
wonderful for star-gazing.
We found the Jordanian people warm and
welcoming and, despite its geographic
location, we felt very safe everywhere we
went. Highly recommended as a genuinely
authentic Middle Eastern experience, which
you won’t forget in a hurry.
The birthplace of great opera composer Puccini,
Lucca is sited within its Renaissance city walls and
cobbled streets, close to the coast and within a
day’s ride of art-filled Florence and at the foothills
of the Apuan Alps. Nearby Forte dei Marmi, with its
wonderful restaurants and high-end shops, is a
But our top tip is to be sure to find time to drive
a fast, luxury car around the lanes of Tuscany
– I became very fond of my white Porsche...
(see page 13).
Novelist Henry James once described Lucca as
“overflowing with everything”; what more could
one ask for on a long weekend break? Why not
take the plunge and book a luxury weekend away
with extended family - or friends - to this stunning
landscape of rolling hills and cypress trees?
You won’t regret it.
8 TRAVELLER 2017 haslemeretravel.co.uk 01428 658 777
Jackie takes a walking break with friends
In September I went away with several girl
friends to the wilds of Tuscany, north of the
ancient walled city of Lucca, for a week’s
break. We were looking to do something a little
different, so we decided on a walking holiday.
A perfect combination of exercise, delicious
Tuscan, home-cooked food, wonderful scenery -
and more importantly plenty of time to chat!
We stayed in a charming rustic farmhouse,
nestling within Tuscany’s mountainous
Garfagnana region. Our walks took us from the
vineyards and ochre-coloured hill-towns of the
lower valleys up to the high ridges and summits
of the Alpi Apuane.
We started with a huge breakfast, walked all day
(c6-10 hours) over mainly well-established trails
and in the evening enjoyed a delicious guilt-free
dinner and marvellous Italian wine.
The walk was sometimes harder than we
expected, mainly because we hadn’t fully read
the description! But our wonderful guide Kathy
encouraged us and we all felt a great sense of
achievement when we reached the summit. Our
‘day off’ midweek was a well earned rest by the
pool, but there were options to visit nearby Pisa,
medieval Lucca or the artistic treasures
We have now caught the bug and are already
planning for 2017.
Walking sparks conversation and conviviality. It
is not competitive and completely inclusive. We
laughed for hours and all of us felt really good
about what we had achieved. Highly recommended.
Aly enjoys going back to this enchanting city
Returning to Amsterdam in October, after an
absence of 30 years, it was wonderful to see
it through the eyes of our teenage daughter,
visiting for the first time.
Our hotel was located in the cultural museum
quarter, just a stone’s throw from the celebrated
(and newly renovated) Rijksmuseum and the
modern Van Gogh Museum. With previously
booked tickets, we managed to avoid the queues
and marvelled at the art in both locations – and
enjoyed an excellent meal at the latter.
After a canal trip to get our bearings, walking is
certainly one of the best ways to see the sights,
if you are not tempted by riding a ubiquitous
bicycle. The green lawns of the city’s largest
park, Vondelpark were also close by and we
enjoyed strolling through it towards a canalside
café to watch the houseboats, or listen to one of
the many church bells ring.
A visit to an old merchant’s house is a must –
our top recommendation is the extraordinary
17th century Ons’Lieve Heer Op Solder (“Our
Lord in the Attic”), with its secret, hidden
Catholic church at the top of the building. But
the museum everyone wants to see – judging by
the lengthy queues (shortest in the evening)–
is Anne Frank’s House. Open every day until
9.30pm, tourists now flock to see the family’s
final hiding place: it is well worth the wait.
As a passionate English student, my daughter
was fascinated by the Dutch art which inspired
two of her favourite novels – The Goldfinch and
The Girl With the Pearl Earring. A short train ride
from the city to The Hague takes you to the
Mauritshuis museum, home to some of the best
Dutch paintings, including both the beautiful,
We recommend you try some Dutch delicacies
– apart from the local cheese (kaas), there is
bitterballen (deep-fried meatballs), stroopwaffel
(waffles) and even raw herring (sweetest from
Finally, if you are feeling flush – or just love
everything that sparkles – take a tour around a
diamond-polishing factory, such as Coster, who
have created jewellery for royals and celebrities
worldwide. You might just be tempted…
01428 658 777 haslemeretravel.co.uk TRAVELLER 2017 9
Hanna F enjoys safaris, wine tasting and
In mid-December I flew direct to Johannesburg with
BA and then took a 45-minute flight to Madikwe to
begin an amazing trip in this fascinating country.
My first stay was at Madikwe Hills main camp
(pictured above middle), situated in the far north of
the NW Province, in the middle of 75,000 hectares
of park and borders with Botswana. It is home to
66 large mammals species, including the Big Five
(happily I spotted 3 during my day’s trip), as well
as 300 resident and migrant bird species. Our
game drivers were extremely knowledgeable and
the friendly staff, good food and well-stocked,
complimentary mini bar, ensured we felt very
welcome. My private game lodge room, set among
boulders and age-old Tamboti trees was spacious,
with a plunge pool outside and there were childfriendly
safaris available. This location is hard to
beat for safaris…
I next flew to Cape Town and after a 1.5 hour
transfer, enjoyed a couple of nights in the area,
based first at Leeu House, Franschhoek (above
right) and Le Quartier Francais. This is a lovely
boutique hotel, with a real home feel to it; the 12
rooms are cosy, with fireplaces for chilly evenings.
It is located on the town’s main strip, so ideal for
admiring the distinct Cape Dutch architecture
and access to the choice of bars and restaurants.
A tour of the Winelands is a must. I enjoyed a
Cape Classic Cuisine Walk in Stellenbosch, the
second oldest town in South Africa, followed by a
wine tasting at Delaire Graff Estate.
Back in Cape Town, my home for the next two
nights was the One & Only Cape Town, in an
ideal waterfront location, next to shops and
entertainment. This is a large, family-friendly
hotel with an excellent kids club and well-stocked
rooms – the buffet breakfast had a huge variety
of delectable dishes available!
A tour to Cape Point included lunch at the spectacular
Two Oceans restaurant and a chance to see the iconic
lighthouse. But my top tips are to book a table for dinner
at the Stack and go up Table Mountain, as well as visit
Camps Bay for a taste of the “rich and famous lifestyle”.
It was hard to fly home after such an extraordinary visit
– but at least there was no jet lag when I returned, as
the time difference is minimal.
Susie’s adventure in this geological hotspot
On arrival in Reykjavik last October, I was
driven to the 4-star Hotel Borg, a charming Art
Deco property in the main Parliament Square,
one of the best located in the city and in
walking distance of the cathedral.
An excellent meal at its sister hotel fortified us
for a night-time search for the Northern Lights,
an excursion by 4x4 “super jeep”, specially
customised Land Rover Defenders (pictured
right), designed to tackle the island’s rough
terrain and extreme weather. (The best time to
see the Lights is in March however, when all
the snow has fallen.)
On my second day I visited Iceland’s Golden
Circle, which includes many of the republic’s
greatest natural phenomena – a perfect
introduction to its extraordinary geology and
history. Thingvellir National Park is where
you can see the tectonic plates of Eurasia
and North America gradually pulling apart,
it was fascinating to see; it’s also the home
of Icelandic history, where the Viking settlers
founded its Parliament in 930AD.
The spectacular geysers, hot springs, steam vents
and brightly coloured algae of Strokkur are aweinspiring,
but a highlight was taking the jeeps on
to the Langjökull glacier, the second largest ice
cap in the country. You can also go off on skidoos,
or, like me, just enjoy a beer while trying not to
The following day we experienced a different
landscape on the south shore, with lush farmland,
sandy coastline and striking waterfalls, set to a
backdrop of mountains, volcanoes and glaciers.
Returning to Reykjavik later in the day, we passed
picturesque, historic villages, with many houses
dating from the 18th century, painted in a range
of bright colours.
On our final day we experienced the beauty and
thermal waters of the celebrated Blue Lagoon, a
unique way to experience Iceland – but don’t forget
your swimming costume to enjoy a warm bathe.
Iceland can be visited year-round, and I discovered
that its capital Reykjavik is just one small part
of the country and in the summer, a hire car is
recommended to explore further; one road takes
you all the way round the island in about 8 days.
10 TRAVELLER 2017 haslemeretravel.co.uk 01428 658 777
National treasure Joanna Lumley OBE
FRGS is the leading Appeal Patron for
Grange Park Opera’s ‘Theatre in the
Woods’ in Surrey, the first new opera
house to be built in the UK for decades.
Happily, it is not far from our shop, so
we seized the chance to catch up with
Joanna to ask about her travels, love
of music …and black trousers.
As an author, actress, TV presenter and former
model, has overseas travel always played an
important part in your life?
Yes, because I was born in a suitcase leaving
India at the age of one and living in Hong Kong
and Malaysia until I was eight. Long sea voyages
punctuated my childhood and left me with a longing
to keep moving.
What do you never forget to pack on your
Black trousers, a torch and books.
Which passport stamp are you most proud of?
Pretty keen on my Mongolian one (pictured above).
Do you have a favourite destination you return
to as often as possible?
I loved Ethiopia, where I made part of a
documentary, with a passion, and plan to return as
soon as I can.
Where would you like to go next…?
India again: filming but also savouring the fabulous
variety of that stupendous country (pictured below).
Who is your dream travel companion?
My husband; but I mostly travel now with a tiny
film crew. We have become best friends and I love
working with them.
Music plays a big part in your life too…why is it
so important to you?
I was born listening to the greats… Mozart,
Beethoven, Dvorak, Chopin... on a wind-up
gramophone in the Far East. I would suffocate with
no music in my life.
What persuaded you to take on the role of
Patron for Grange Park Opera (GPO)’s appeal
for its exciting, new Theatre in the Woods?
It was the easiest decision I have ever made. I
love what GPO does, and how it behaves: all are
welcome and their standards are sky-high. The
Theatre in the Woods is stunningly attractive
and will be a new wonder of the glorious Surrey
countryside (pictured below, right).
What are your ambitions for this extraordinary,
new opera house, which is currently being built
in 350 acres of beautiful landscape and historic
gardens, surrounding 15th century mansion
West Horsley Place?
It will be utterly magical: the combination of the
majesty of that ancient house (pictured below, left)
and its grand spreading gardens, and the music
and dance that will take place in the Theatre in the
Woods will be unbeatable.
GPO initiatives such as £35 tickets for the
under-35s seek to encourage the young
to sample opera – do you recall your first
Grace Bumbry singing Aida in about 1964…
When the curtain rises on 8th June 2017, sum up
in three words what you will be feeling…?
Thrilled, proud and happy.
If you could cast your perfect opera, who would
perform and what would it be?
Maria Callas and Jussi Bjorling in Tosca. Hearing
Callas singing Vissi d’arte is a masterclass in
both singing and acting; she was truly as good as
it gets. She knew exactly how to portray passion,
despair, love and hatred, and Puccini’s music is
sublime. Jussi Bjorling had a voice I would swim
oceans to hear. A giant.
And if you had to describe yourself as a
character in an opera, who would it be and why?
I would rather like to be the Countess in The
Marriage of Figaro: although she has a rather
wretched time with a scoundrel of a husband, she
has an aria so lovely that whenever I hear the music
beginning I start to sob hopelessly.
01428 658 777 haslemeretravel.co.uk TRAVELLER 2017 11
Terry’s luxury short break is a big surprise
The location of the Dolder Grand Hotel –
in a forest, in an elevated position with
magnificent views of the city, lake and snowcapped
mountains – is hard to beat.
Privately owned, during my stay in May I
discovered that its recent refurbishment
works well; its art collection remains (one
of the most valuable in Zurich). Dining is
spectacular with a 2-Star Michelin option, The
Epicure; while the bar has magical Swarovski
candles in suspended ceiling lights.
Rooms are modern and minimalist, with oak
flooring and marbled bathrooms, many of
which have hosted celebrities (the hotel itself
has appeared in several films pictured below).
The award-winning spa covers 4.000sqm
and has outdoor whirlpools and a snow room.
Yoga, tennis and 9-hole golf are available,
while a funicular transports guests to the city.
Far from the haven of just banks and
commerce that I had previously imagined,
I found the city pleasantly surprising, with
its cobbled, spotless winding streets,
galleries, churches and clock towers. This
is an ideal destination for a short break –
especially for the football fan, as the city’s
FIFA museum was very interesting, even for
a non fan such as me!
Hanna enjoys precious time with her daughter
In May, my daughter Amelia (aged 3) and I arrived
at the prime Ionian Sea destination of Westin
Resort Navarino Dunes at Costa Navarino, Greece
to be greeted with a glass of Prosecco (soft for
Amelia!) and an offer to dine at one of the resort’s
fine restaurants, Flame. This set the tone for a
The Westin resort is split into two – the family
friendly Westin and the more adult-orientated
Romanos. Amelia first enjoyed a short buggy ride
to the Aqua Park; this has plenty of water toys
and slides to amuse different age groups, and
a playground attached to the site, with climbing
frames for older children.
Terry returns to a favourite destination
I have stayed at the Gran Hotel Bahia Del
Duque, in the relaxing resort of the Costa
Adeje, South Tenerife every six months and
have done so for the past three years – and I
am already planning my next stay!
Knowing the hotel so well, I am able to
request certain rooms and I have now
sampled most of the many restaurants too, so
I can make very informed recommendations.
Just 20 minutes from the airport, from the
moment you enter via its Corinthian columns,
the Victorian and Venetian influences are
apparent, with several piazzas giving the feel
of a village-style property, rather than
a large hotel.
A member of The Leading Hotels of the World,
with only 350 rooms and suites, as well as a
selection of one and two-bedroom villas, you
can opt for either garden or sea views.
This is a great location for families, as well
as couples and attracts a high percentage
of repeat guests (like me!). The many dining
options include Italian, Asian and a new
restaurant, SUA, offering dishes from the
Basque region of Spain.
Facing towards the small volcanic island of
Gomera, only 50 minutes away by ferry, it
attracts a warm Gulf Stream climate, which
makes the weather perfect throughout the
With five swimming pools, as well as an
adult “quiet area” located in lush, wellestablished
gardens, I cannot fault the hotel
for its amazing spa, service, room choice
and exceptional dining.
The kids’ club had a full programme of activities
for Amelia – while I resisted a golf lesson and
ventured towards the Anazoe Spa, a serene
sanctuary with an exceptional menu of speciality
treatments based on ancient beauty practices,
using the area’s exclusive natural ingredients. It
also offers hydrotherapy and floating pools, indoor
and outdoor treatments areas.
Children over 10 are able to do diving and
snorkelling at the PADI Centre and also at nearby
Proti Island which has good diving visibility from
May ownards. Turtle hatchings are normally visible
in September-November. An eco-gallery was ideal
for the little ones, but a squash court, bowling
alley, an American Diner and cinema catered to
A highlight was authentic village cooking at a
beautiful, stone house in nearby Pylos, where
we cooked traditional Greek noodles and made
Galopita (traditional milk pie). An ideal way
to discover family recipes, passed down through
12 TRAVELLER 2017 haslemeretravel.co.uk 01428 658 777
BAGS OF FUN!
Our eco bag enjoys jungle life in Costa Rica
LITERARY EVENING NEXT MAY
Haslemere Travel is delighted to announce
that it will be hosting the first Haslemere
Travel Literary Evening on Thursday, May 18th
as part of this year’s Haslemere Festival.
The exclusive event will have a Russian theme,
with three exciting women speakers set to
entertain guests. Anna Pasternak (above)
(great-niece of Boris Pasternak, the Nobel
prize-winning author of Dr Zhivago) will be
talking about her new book “Lara: The Untold
Love Story that inspired Dr Zhivago” – the tale
of the true, heartbreaking love affair between
Boris and Olga Ivinskaya.
Carnival Films are currently developing Lara
with Liz Trubridge, producer of Downton Abbey,
for a major, six part TV series. Excitingly, Liz
Trubridge has also agreed to talk about how
she is bringing the book to the screen as part
of this stimulating evening.
The chair of the evening will be Val Hudson,
former editorial director of Harper Collins and
Hodder Headline, who is a published author
herself and the rumoured author of A Simples
Life, the best-selling ‘autobiography’ of the
cravat-wearing Russian meerkat Aleksandr;
as well as Arthur: the dog that crossed a jungle
to find a home.
The event will begin at 7.30pm (ending
c9.30pm) at the Haslemere Educational
Museum and will include refreshments during
the interval, as well as the opportunity to
purchase paperbacks and have them signed
by the two authors.
Please note: This is a ticket-only event.
For further information, go to
www.haslemeretravel.co.uk; to purchase
tickets (after March 1st) which cost £15
(wine included) call 01428 642161 or email:
Gemma zooms around Italy in style
Jackie gets to grips with Seychelles’ Coco de Mer
Terry cruises down the scenic river Danube
A luxury prize trip donated by Haslemere
Travel (in partnership with JG Collection/
ICMI Collection) for a fund-raising raffle,
raised thousands for the new education centre
building project at Surrey Wildlife Trust’s
Winners Margaret Gilbert and Tony Stanford,
will spend nights at The Roxburghe Hotel in the
Scottish Borders, including fly fishing tuition
on the River Tweed; and at Greywalls, next
to the celebrated Muirfield golf course near
Edinburgh, dining in its Chez Roux restaurant.
“Haslemere Travel was delighted to support
Nower Wood. We look forward to ensuring
the prizewinners have a wonderful trip,”
Haslemere Travel is thrilled to announce that
this year we will be seeking to reward our loyal
clients with a wonderful Caribbean holiday prize
for the first time!
The lucky winners (to be drawn in January 2018)
will be treated to a very special prize - 7 nights
full board for 2 people, ultra all-inclusive at East
Winds, St Lucia - a gorgeous, boutique hotel on
arguably the island’s finest, secluded tropical
beach, with a whole range of activities on offer.
Every client who books a holiday with us in
2017 will be entered into the prize draw – the
more holidays you book, the more entries you
will receive. For more details, email: gemma@
haslemeretravel.co.uk or see our website for
terms and conditions. Good luck!
Ray is dressed for the desert at amazing Petra
Email your photos with your Haslemere Travel
Eco Bag to email@example.com
and we will print them in the next newsletter
and feature them on our website!
01428 658 777 haslemeretravel.co.uk TRAVELLER 2017 13
Winter sports enthusiasts will head to the
World Alpine Ski Championships at Piz Nair, St
Moritz, for a chance to see the finest skiers in a
magical setting. See Terry’s report, page 12.
This month the fiercest bulls from all over the
country descend on the capital for Fiestas
Zapote, a massive rodeo, with fair rides and
delicious food on offer. See Susie’s report, page 7.
WORLDWIDE EVENTS CALENDAR
From this breathtaking island, the world’s best
sailors on the fastest boats will battle for The
America’s Cup, with Sir Ben Ainslie’s team seeking
to bring the iconic trophy back home to the UK.
The Jordan Rally has been thrilling spectators
since the 1980s, as some of the world’s best
drivers wind their way through desert, hills and
by the Dead Sea. See Gemma’s report, page 8.
Oktoberfest is an event not to be missed if you like
a glass of beer, great music and an opportunity to
join in the merrymaking in Munich. Lederhosen is
A must for foodies, Mahe, Praslin and La Digue
celebrate everything Creole in the last week
of the month, with crafts, dance, music and
delicious dishes. See Jackie’s report, page 5.
Since the 15th century, when Carnival hits Tenerife
(Feb 19th - March 5th), it is time for an extravaganza
of colour, light, music and merry mayhem. See
Terry’s report, page 12.
Easter is by far the biggest event of the year
here, celebrated across the islands with candlelit
processions, spit-roasted lamb and firework
displays. See Hanna’s report, page 12.
Our exclusive round-up of exciting cultural and sporting events and festivals around the globe.
Call us on 01428 658 777 for more information about visiting these memorable events.
In Budapest, the Red Bull Air Race comes
to town, an annual acrobatic flying
competition which takes place high over
the Danube. See Gemma’s report, page 6.
The first weekend of the month finds Iceland
celebrating “The People’s Feast”, with bonfires, vodka
and a music festival on Heimaey, the only inhabited
Westmann Island. See Susie’s report, page 10.
The Hornbill Festival, Nagaland, NE India is
celebrated by several tribes, with colourful
performances, traditional crafts, ceremonies and
games. Why not stay in style at luxury tented
Kohima Camp with butler service? See Gemma’s
report, page 4.
Perfect for families, two replica 17th century
galleons join the Pirates Festival, which takes
place on all 3 islands, for 10 days of music,
dancing, fun and plenty of swashbuckling.
Haslemere Travel Ltd
2/4 Petworth Road, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2HR
Tel: 01428 658777 Fax: 01428 651415