Haslemere Traveller 2017






ABTA No.A2825




Find out more about our expert team of travellers


Gemma’s maiden, inspiring voyage to India


Gemma & Ray revisit Grenada; Jackie’s in paradise


Gemma on the Rhine & Moselle; Terry tours the Danube


Susie goes off the beaten track in Central America


Gemma & Ray in the Middle East and a weekend in Lucca


Jackie on foot in Tuscany; Aly reminisces in Amsterdam


Hanna is in love with South Africa & Susie’s 4x4 adventures


The lovely Joanna Lumley, talks travel, music and opera


Terry and Hanna enjoy Zurich, Tenerife and Greece


Haslemere Literary Luncheon; Fab Caribbean prize!


Where to go worldwide from January to December...


...and more ideas from January to December


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,

Haslemere, Surrey,

GU27 2HR

Tel: 01428 658 777


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




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...

A toothbrush



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

Island, Malaysia

I never forget to pack...

My camera


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

client databases.

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











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

birdwatchers’ paradise.

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).




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

“picture-perfect paradise”

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


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

complimentary excursion.

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

if needed.

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





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

to flourish.

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.




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




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

must-visit too.

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

of Florence.

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,

aforementioned artworks.

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

delicious food

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

slide around!

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

luxury stay.

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

winter months.

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

older children.

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



Our eco bag enjoys jungle life in Costa Rica


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

Nower Wood.

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,”

said Gemma.


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 gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk

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.




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

not compulsory…


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.

Image: CANARYLUC/Shutterstock.com


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.

Image: meunierd/Shutterstock.com


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.







Hanna F









Haslemere Travel Ltd

2/4 Petworth Road, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2HR

Tel: 01428 658777 Fax: 01428 651415

Email: experience@haslemeretravel.co.uk


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