Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Antigua & Barbuda Celebrate New British Airways Route

Antigua & Barbuda celebrate new British Airways route

ST JOHN'S, Antigua – VC Bird International Airport will serve as an important hub for UK based carrier British Airways, as the airline, on Sunday, launched their inaugural flight service from Antigua to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The route is historic, as it will be the first, direct flight connection between the Eastern Caribbean and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Minister of Tourism, The Hon. Asot Michael, at a reception to launch the service, said to a gathering of Tourism officials from the Turks and Caicos Islands and Antigua and Barbuda:
“The rise in popularity of Antigua and Barbuda and Turks & Caicos is demonstrated by British Airways agreeing to add a direct link between our two destinations.”
He also said, “This added service means new opportunities, and choices available to us for increased business activities and closer collaboration. The end result will be greater economic growth while, simultaneously building the spirit of regional integration between our two countries.”
The weekly flight from Gatwick, to Antigua on a Boeing 777 then onwards to Providenciales, will operate every Sunday from March 29.
Minister Michael said, the new route allows for visa free travel and will encourage more business and leisure travelers to island hop, from Antigua to Turks and Caicos and vice versa.
Welcoming the airline, as they prepared to board the inaugural flight were: The Hon. Porsha Stubbs-Smith, Minister of Tourism Turks & Caicos, Dr. Kingsley Been, Chairman of Turks & Caicos Tourism Board, Ralph Higgs, Director of Tourism, Turks & Caicos and Mrs. Lavern Skippings-Reynolds, Airport Manager, Providenciales International Airport.
An invitation was extended to the Government and The People of the Turks and Caicos to travel to Antigua for the country's Summer Carnival: July 25 - August 4 2015.
With a new terminal to be opened in June, Antigua’s V.C. Bird International’s airport expansion, will increase capacity, allowing the destination to develop new routes. The terminal, which will be the most modern in the Eastern Caribbean will feature the latest technology, first class duty free shopping and VIP lounges, creating a more efficient and enhanced passenger experience.

Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Delivery Of First Ocean Ship

Viking Ocean Cruises celebrates delivery of first ocean ship
Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises, at the delivery ceremony of Viking Star

Viking Ocean Cruises today announced it took delivery of Viking Star, marking the company's official arrival into the ocean cruise industry. The delivery ceremony took place on March 28 when the ship was presented at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard outside of Venice, Italy. On April 11, Viking Star will set sail from Istanbul and will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened on May 17 in Bergen, Norway.
"This has been a remarkable journey, and I am grateful to everyone at Viking and Fincantieri who has worked tirelessly to turn our vision into reality," said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises. "With Viking Star's maiden voyage and christening now within sight, we are ready to bring our destination-focused experiences to ocean cruising."
Classified by Cruise Critic as a "small ship," the all-veranda Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boasts 465 cabins and will accommodate 930 passengers. It is engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and debarkation. Light-filled with modern Scandinavian decor, the ship was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships. Viking Star is one of three ocean cruise ships on order; the remaining two ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are currently under construction.
Viking Ocean Cruises guests will enjoy curated itineraries that are designed to best showcase the destinations that they visit, with a complimentary excursion in each port and an onboard cultural enrichment program that includes academic lecturers, local speakers and interactive demonstrations.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Travelore News: Rio 2016 Olympic Games Tickets Go On Sale

Olympic Games fans who live outside of Brazil will be able to start planning their trip for the Rio 2016 Games on March 31st, when the list of confirmed authorized ticket resellers (ATRs) will be published. The names of the companies who have been approved to sell tickets for the firstOlympic Games in South America will be available at http://www.rio2016.com/en/take-part/spectators

To apply for tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the first step is to register via the official website: http://ingressos.rio2016.com/rio2016.html?language=en

Ticket prices for all the events, including opening and closing ceremonies, can be found here:http://www.rio2016.com/sites/default/files/users/rio2016_files/tkt_olympicticketprices_201501_eng.pdf

Each ATR will have its own sales process and fans should seek this information from the company that will sell tickets in their territory. Any ATRs who are approved after March 31st, will be added to the list subsequently.

Brazilian residents will be able to apply to buy tickets directly from the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee on March 31st, when registration for the first of two random draws will open.

In total, about 7.5 million tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be put on sale. For full details of the ticket sales process, visitwww.rio2016.com/tickets.

Information about ticket sales for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games will be announced by the end of June.

To help you plan your schedule, rio2016.com has produced a series of articles, one on each of the Games zones, outlining the ticket options for each venue.

Travelore News: UK's No.1 Frequent Flyer Expert Responds To British Airways Account Hacking

Rob Burgess, editor of Head for Points, responds to the current British Airways Executive Club hacking saga which has left hundreds of thousands of users unable to access their accounts - which have also been stripped of all their Avios points!

Thousands of readers of Head for Points (www.headforpoints.com), the UK's biggest frequent flyer website, have been unable to access their British Airways Executive Club accounts since Friday.  This includes the editor and his wife!
Some - but by no means all - of the impacted flyers have received an email from British Airways which reads:
British Airways has become aware of some unauthorized activity in relation to your Executive Club account. This appears to have been the result of a third party using information obtained elsewhere on the internet, via an automated process, to try to gain access to your Executive Club account. We understand this was login information relating to a different online service which you may have also used to access your Executive Club account.
What the email does NOT say is that British Airways has removed all of the Avios points from the accounts of impacted members!  It is refusing to give a firm time frame on when these points will be returned.  Call centre agents are telling Head for Points readers conflicting stories of 'a couple of weeks' to 'a few days'.
Attempts to reset passwords in order to access accounts are also failing because the BA website is not sending out the required emails.
This situation is particularly inconvenient for members since Avios points will be devalued substantially on April 28th.  More importantly, redemption seats for the Easter fortnight in 2016 will become available this week but many members will be unable to book.
Rob Burgess, editor of Head for Points, is unhappy with the way that British Airways has handled the situation:
"This is a textbook example of how NOT to respond to a potential hacking issue.  It is difficult to see how BA could have handled it more poorly.
The email to members from British Airways looks likes a phishing email.  It does not include any account information to convince the reader it is really from British Airways.
Only a percentage of impacted members even received an email.
The email failed to mention the most important fact - that BA had zero'd the balance of their Avios account!  Anyone who managed to reset their password panicked when they saw a zero balance and immediately overwhelmed the call centre.

For most people, including myself, the 'reset password' function is not working anyway ....
The BA call centre was not briefed on what was happening.  It was impossible to reach for most of Friday and agents could not explain what was happening.  There are still conflicting messages being given by agents as to whether they can book Avios redemption seats by telephone.

BA has not given a timetable for the reinstatement of missing Avios points."
"In general", Burgess adds, "whilst I fully appreciate the need for account security, BA has over-reacted massively.  Frequent flyer miles are not a prime target for hackers.  What is the point?"
"Unless the hacker intends to fly within a few hours, the risk of the account holder noticing that his account has been debited and notifying BA is too high.  The airlines also have systems in place to spot suspicious redemptions, which usually involve a booking for a third-party, paid on a third-party credit card, for travel to or from a high-risk country."
"It appears that BA did not have a system in place to deal with such a situation and has made a knee-jerk reaction which is causing unnecessary inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of people."
Background information:
Head for Points (www.headforpoints.com) is the UK's No 1 website for collectors of Avios points, other frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points.  It had 770,000 page views and 140,000 unique visitors in January 2015, 80% from the UK.
Head for Points was founded in July 2012 by Rob Burgess, an ex-City analyst.  Rob has not taken a long-haul flight in Economy for over 15 years, currently has over 10 million airline, hotel and credit card points and has used air miles to travel in Business Class and First Class with many of the world's leading airlines.

Taj Dubai Opens

Opening of Taj Dubai

Taj Group announced the opening of its highly-anticipated luxury hotel Taj Dubai, located in the prestigious Burj Khalifa downtown area.
The Taj Group, established in 1901, is a pioneer and market leader with 128 hotels, resorts, and palaces spanning sixty-four locations in India and fifteen international locations in four continents.
"We are delighted to enhance the nobility of Indian heritage and hospitality in one of the world's most vibrant cities," said Rakhee Lalvani, Director -Public Relations, Taj Group. "With its distinctive design, responsibly appointed amenities and warm service culture, Taj Dubai aspires to become a preferred address for discerning guests.
Accommodation at Taj Dubai includesa a total of 296 rooms: comprising Taj Club Rooms, 16 Junior Suites and 15 Luxury Suites with panoramic views of Burj Khalifa, dancing fountains and Dubai Mall. The hotel offers state of the art rooms seamlessly blending contemporary elegance while paying homage to the local environment.
Spectacular Suites
Taj Dubai houses two lavish suites. The Maharaja Suite, inspired by opulent Maharaja's palaces in Rajasthan including a picturesque roof terrace of the 33rd floor of the hotel. The Presidential Suite, with its fine balance of understated elegance and opulence, measuring 680 square meters, occupies the entire 35th floor, with its own fitness suite and yoga room.
Taj Dubai will feature its exclusive Members' only Private Club for the first time outside of India. Chambers has been created to suit the needs of today's discerning business traveller and membership is by invitation only. It entitles guests to an array of benefits such as private dining, bespoke conference and business facilities.
Globally Inspired Cuisine
Taj Dubai features exceptional dining experiences through varied culinary offerings:
Tesor ooffers Peruvian themed cuisine for lunch and dinner and an international breakfast within a glass and metal conservatory area. Kui's al fresco setting allows guests to unwind with Burj Khalifa as backdrop. The Eloquent Elephant an informal gastro-pub with tapa's style dining. Byzantium Lounge, an Art-Deco inspired venue for all-day will offer light bites and afternoon tea, with cocktails in the evening. Bombay Brasserie, Taj's renowned Indian restaurant, is located on the 4th floor with views of the Burj Khalifa.
Wellness- Jiva Spa, Pool Deck and Health Centre
Enhancing guest experiences, Jiva Spa offers an array of signature treatments, inspired by traditional Indian therapies for guests to unwind and rejuvenate. The ethos of treatments is carefully drawn from the rich wellness heritage of India, fabled lifestyle and culture of Indian royalty and healing therapies that embrace Indian spirituality.
"The Taj has been a pioneer in bringing legendary Indian hospitality to the world. At Taj Dubai, we will endeavor to continue this legacy in providing our guests with the highest levels of personalised, intuitive service and careful attention to detail. We look forward to welcoming you." Jason Harding, Area Director & General Manager, Taj Dubai.

Breaking Travelore News: Another Major Earthquake Hit Close To Tonga And Samoa

Another major earthquake hit close to Tonga and Samoa

After a 7.6 earthquake earlier in Samoa, at 18.00 UTC another 6.8 one was measured 66 miles ENE of Hihfo, Tonga, 132 miles SW of Apia, Samoa, or 164 miles WSW of Tafuna, American Samoa.
The good news is, so far there are no report of injury or destruction.
The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

World's Tallest Hotel To Be Constructed In The Swiss Alps

World's tallest hotel to be constructed in the Swiss Alps

This will be a tourism attraction all on its own for those visiting Switzerland. Not Dubai, not Hong Kong, not New York, but a small village in the Swiss Alps will be the home of the tallest hotel structure on the globe.
Swiss entrepreneur chooses US architect’s minimalist design for 381 metre structure in Swiss Alps – 107 room luxury hotel to open in 2019
Swiss entrepreneur Remo Stoffel along with US-based architect Morphosis, has unveiled the design for what will become the world’s tallest hotel. The structure which is to be situated in Vals, in the Swiss Alps, is designed to reach a height of 381 metres, which once completed in 2019, will eclipse the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai which currently holds the record at 355 metres tall.
According to Stoffel, who is Chairman of Dubai-based Farnek, one of the leading facilities management companies in the Middle East, the inspiration for the hotel came from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“Due to my involvement with Farnek, I travel to Dubai on a regular basis and I am always amazed at how quickly the city grows and what it has achieved. It is now home to the busiest airport in the world, tallest tower, tallest hotel, the largest shopping mall, largest man-made island, the list goes on.
“During its early development, many local, regional and international observers, some more vocal than others, were unsure that Sheikh Mohammed’s vision for Dubai would ever be realised. Even if the infrastructure was put in place, how would Dubai attract enough visitors to fill the thousands of new hotel rooms being built? Undeterred, Dubai stuck steadfastly to its strategy and last year it welcomed around 12 million overnight visitors and is now planning to accommodate 20 million visitors by 2020.
“That inspired me to realise my own vision, by forming 7132 Ltd, commissioning this stunning design, which will be built in my home town of Vals within four years,” said Stoffel.
The unveiling of the design followed an international competition launched by 7132 Ltd (derived from the town’s Swiss postal code) last June, in which eight of the world’s leading architectural practices contended for the opportunity to design the hotel.
The design created by Morphosis was selected for its minimalist approach to help the hotel blend with the mountain landscape at the existing resort campus. The new hotel and arrival is defined by three forms: a podium linking the building with neighboring structures; a cantilever containing a restaurant, café, spa, and bar – public amenities shared with the town; and a tower holding a sky bar, restaurant, and 107 guest rooms with panoramic views.
With the completion of the hotel, the 7132 resort will feature buildings by three Pritzker Prize winning architects, including the internationally renowned Therme Vals spa designed by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor and the Valser Path by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, which is slated for completion in 2019.
“The transparent and slim “7132 Tower” designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis will create a completely new world of hospitality in Vals,” Ando says. “I believe it will harmonize with the beautiful landscape.”
The resort’s ongoing development is born out of the collaboration between the complex’s long-time Executive Director Pius Truffer and 7132 Ltd founder Remo Stoffel, both local residents who were born and raised in Vals. The group has owned and operated the Therme Vals since 2012, when 7132 Ltd purchased the resort from the municipality. As a local company, 7132 Ltd is committed to supporting a thriving, carefully guided model for tourism in the valley, especially with consideration for a growing world-wide interest in alpine tourism.
About 7132 Ltd
When the people of Vals decided at the ballot box to sell their thermal baths and Hotel – until then public property – to entrepreneur Remo Stoffel, they not only handed him the town's architectural jewel, but also a high level of trust.
The construction of Peter Zumthor’s Therme with its distinct Valser Stone facades initiated Vals’ reputation as an architecture Mecca. Mr. Stoffel, himself a native of Vals, is dedicated to maintaining and cultivating this identity with regard to further developments.
After the purchase, he renamed the enterprise 7132, after the town's post code. What an unusual name for a hotel! 7132 is in private hands, but the area of communal responsibility extends beyond the Therme gates. 7132 is more than a branding stunt. It is a bold vision for Vals, proposing a new tourism model for the Swiss Alps, away from mass tourism. We are aiming at offering a subtler and more exclusive hotel experience. For this purpose, 7132 sought the partnership of world-renowned architects who will help create a truly unique tourism product. The commissioning of Morphosis, Tadao Ando and Kengo Kuma demonstrates that Vals will continue to appeal to those with an affinity for extraordinary architecture and design.
Mr. Stoffel has teamed up with Pius Truffer, who has played a crucial role in putting Vals on the map of modern architecture. Together they make up the management board of 7132. Mrs. Sonja Dietrich acts as managing director of the hotel, a position she already held previously. Furthermore, the company employs 150 people at its current size. It is one of the largest hotels in Switzerland.

New Museum Will Open In The Alps

New museum will open in the Alps
Rheinreise Quelle des Vordherrheins / Image courtesy of Liechensteinisches Landesmuseum

VADUZ, Liechtenstein – On March 31, a new museum unlike any other in the Alps will open its doors to the public.
The Liechtenstein Treasure Chamber will focus primarily on exhibits belonging to the Princes of Liechtenstein and other private collectors.
Thanks to the generosity of the Princely Family, visitors will have the chance to admire a number of items from the Princely Collections. With over 800 years of tradition, the Princely Family of Liechtenstein is not only one of the oldest ruling families in the world but also the owner of one of the world's oldest and continually expanding collections dating back more than 400 years. Its paintings by the Old Masters and array of arms are world-famous. The exhibition will display a selection of valuable materials, paintings, weapons, hunting knives and gifts presented by kings and emperors, such as Frederick the Great and Emperor Joseph II, to the Princes of Liechtenstein.
The museum will also showcase exhibits belonging to the Liechtenstein collector Adulf Peter Goop (1921-2011), who donated his significant collection to the Principality on9 June 2010. Highlights include his famous collection of Easter eggs - the most diverse of its kind in the world - and in particular a selection of Russian Easter eggs from tsarist times unparalleled outside Russia. As well as the famous Apple Blossom Egg by Karl Faberge, the museum also features bejeweled golden Easter eggs created by other famous goldsmiths such as Pavel Akimovitch Ovtchinnikov and Alexander Edvard Tillander, gold and silver Easter eggs with intricate enamel decoration, and eye-catching porcelain and glass Easter eggs from the Imperial Manufactories. Among the latter are a number of "Tsar and Tsarina Eggs", which were commissioned each Easter by the ruling couple to present as gifts to important people.
Also on display in the museum is a selection of the "Rhine Journey" paintings completed by Johann Ludwig (Louis) Bleuler (1792-1850) around 1820/1830. Taken from the collection of Adulf Peter Goop, who during his lifetime acquired 77 of the 80 original gouaches, they depict the entire Rhine from its source to its estuary and served as inspiration for the famous engravings that were highly popular among tourists in the 19th century.
Further important objects include lunar rocks from the Apollo 11 and Apollo 17 missions as well as Liechtenstein national flags which were carried on the first and last manned flights to the Moon. These were given to the Principality as a token of gratitude for the help provided to NASA by the Liechtenstein-based company Balzers AG, which at the time specialized in vacuum technology and supplied protective coatings for the space rockets.
Last but by no means least, the display also features the original design of the first ever postage stamp issued by the Principality of Liechtenstein, created by the famous Austrian artist and co-founder of the Vienna Secession and the Vienna Workshops, Koloman Moser.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Visit Indiana - But Please No Gays! Honest To Goodness

Visit Indiana - but please no gays!  Honest to Goodness
Governor Mike Pence, Indiana

Honest to Goodness is the travel and tourism slogan for the U.S. State of Indiana. In February 2012 the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana hosted Superbowl. Travel, tourism,and events are income earners to the State demonstrating openness and diversity.
Today there is not much left of this diversity. A sign at the entrance of a restaurant in the U.S. State of Indiana says: No service for gays.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has put Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who signed it into law this week after several statements that he was "looking forward" to doing so, is today searching for answers after the bill created "the worst crisis of his political career," according to the Indy Star.
In response to this law, the major of Seattle, Washington posted on his Facebook this afternoon:
"Indiana's S.B. 101 doesn't reflect the values of the City of Seattle. Seattle has been a leader in the fight to protect civil rights and ensure equality for all people - no matter who you are, or who you love. This is why I am ordering that none of our taxpayer dollars should go toward supporting this discriminatory law. To those in Indiana today who are working hard in the fight for equality - know that Seattle stands with you as you continue your efforts to end discrimination and protect civil rights for everyone."
Now the Indiana Governor wants to clarify the law he just signed allowing discrimination in his State.
“I support religious liberty, and I support this law,” Pence said in an exclusive interview. “But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to introduce another bill to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.”
The governor, although not ready to provide details on what the new bill will say, said he expects the legislation to be introduced into the General Assembly this coming week.
Asked if that legislation might include making gay and lesbian Hoosiers a protected legal class, Pence said, “That’s not on my agenda.”
Among those who have come out publicly against the bill: the White House, the NCAA, global cloud computing company Salesforce, Yelp, George Takei, Audra McDonald, and many, many more....
Hundreds of people gathered outside the Indiana statehouse on Saturday to protest the new law.

What You Need To Know About Athens's Newest Renaissance

Following Greece's financial meltdown, a wave of young Athenian entrepreneurs are fighting rising unemployment with new ventures. Their aim: to lure back visitors and reinvigorate the local scene
City Circus
It's been a bumpy few years for Athens. Grinding austerity has sparked riots, strikes and political turbulence, bringing tourism in the city to a shuddering halt. But as Greece makes tentative steps towards recovery, Athenians are championing the capital's revival with creative start-ups that focus on the affordable and authentic.
While most of the souvenirs in Pláka - Athens's old town - are imported from China, Forget Me Not stocks witty updates on Greek classics including evil-eye coasters and tote bags made from recycled feta tins. At B38, Mirella Manta and Ioli Michalopoulou sell accessories from local designers alongside own-label womenswear. And while many high-end boutiques have closed, Mohnblümchen has evolved; reborn as a pizza restaurant, it's packed with the fashionable crowd once more.
Off gritty Omonia Square, Romantso is named after the pulp magazine once printed there. The top floors have cheap studios for creatives, while hipsters hang out in the bar and performance spaces downstairs. Less self-consciously cool is cosy neighbourhood bar Kyrios Hou, the latest hotspot in Ano Petralona, a residential area that has morphed into a late-night street party. Don't confuse it with Kyrios, another newcomer, where a stuffed gorilla guards the DJ booth, and the staff in their leather aprons are as good-looking as the clientele.

Once overpriced and underwhelming, the Athens hotel scene is being freshened up by DIY hoteliers. A group of friends are behind Live in Athens (from about £40), 11 cool apartments scattered around vibrant Thisei and Psirri, and Dimosthenis Misentzis and Nondas Skorpideas quit corporate careers to set up hip hostel City Circus (beds from  about £15), which recently added nine rooms and a bar/restaurant. More smart new hotels are set to open next year: Emporikon, a neoclassical landmark on Agia Irini Square; and Athenswas, a Design Hotel by the Acropolis Museum, with Parthenon views from the top three floors.
Even the sclerotic Greek state is breathing new life into public spaces. Fourteen years in the making, the National Museum of Contemporary Artfinally welcomes the public this summer on the site of the former Fix brewery. And Aristotle's Lyceum has just reopened near the beautifully restored Byzantine Museum, although the city's modern-day philosophers congregate at Free Thinking Zone, a lively bookshop, events space and think tank rolled into one.
There are even grander projects on the horizon. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, designed by Renzo Piano, will house the National Library and Greek National Opera when it opens in 2016. Until then, the Visitors' Center hosts concerts and workshops, with guided tours of the site every Sunday. Nearby, the vast old Hellinikon Airport is being transformed into a waterfront park, marina and residences, with Norman Foster tipped for the job. Like the mythological phoenix, Athens is reborn.
 Contributed by RACHEL HOWARD
This feature first appeared in Condé Nast Traveller, www.cntraveller.com, September 2014
Follow us on Twitter: @TraveloreReport

Travelore News: Norwegian Celebrates Inaugural Flights From Birmingham Airport To Madrid

Today, Norwegian celebrated its inaugural flight from Birmingham Airport to Madrid; the first of three new Spanish destinations set to launch this summer from the airport. “Today is a double celebration – we’re celebrating the launch of direct flights to Madrid and welcoming Norwegian to Birmingham Airport,” said David Winstanley, Chief Operating Officer at Birmingham Airport.
The first scheduled service from the Spanish capital, which will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, was greeted in Birmingham today with a water-arch salute upon arrival, quickly followed by the launch of flights to Malaga on Monday 30th March.
The new service to Malaga will operate three times a week on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays and represents the second of three new Spanish routes from Birmingham to be served by Norwegian. The third and final service to Barcelona is set to commence on the 1st of June, departing on Mondays and Fridays.
“We´re very happy to celebrate the new routes from Birmingham to several destinations in Spain. Now travelers in the greater Birmingham area can take advantage of Norwegian's low fares and award-winning service. Our crew is looking forward to welcoming new customers on board our brand new and more environmentally friendly fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft with free WiFi,” said Norwegian’s Chief Commercial Officer Thomas Ramdahl.

“A double celebration”
David Winstanley, Chief Operating Officer at Birmingham Airport, said:
“Today is a double celebration – we’re celebrating the launch of direct flights to Madrid and welcoming Norwegian to Birmingham Airport."
"Madrid marks the first of three new Spanish routes set to be served by Norwegian from Birmingham, a clear indication of the enormous demand that exists for these popular destinations, which also includes Malaga and Barcelona."
David added: “We’re confident that our business and leisure passengers will be impressed with Norwegian’s low fares and efficient service.”

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, commercially branded “Norwegian”, is a low-cost airline listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange. Norwegian is the second largest airline in Scandinavia and third largest low cost carrier in Europe. The company reported its highest ever passenger figures in a single year with almost 24 million passengers in 2014. Norwegian has a route portfolio that stretches across Europe into North Africa and the Middle East, as well as long-haul flights to the US and Southeast Asia. The company has a total of 424 routes to 130 destinations and employs approximately 4,500 people in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, UK, Spain and Thailand. The company has 258 undelivered aircraft on firm order. Norwegian was founded in 1993 and its headquarter is in Fornebu, Norway. Norwegian offers better leg room than most competitors, in-flight WiFi on short haul, world-class punctuality and a fleet of 96 aircraft with an average age of only four years. In 2013 and 2014, Norwegian was voted Europe’s best low-cost carrier of the year by the renowned SkyTrax World Airline Awards. In 2014, Norwegian also won three prizes at the prestigious Passenger Choice Awards for Best Airline in Europe, Best Inflight Connectivity & Communications and Best Single Achievement in Passenger Experience for its moving map on the 787 Dreamliners. In addition, Norwegian was awarded Europe's best low-cost airline by AirlineRatings.com for the second year running.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

5 Of The Best Wine Lists In Spain

An impeccable wine list is an essential component of any well-respected and reputable restaurant. Some of the best restaurants in Spain hit the nail right on the head. The wisdom and good taste of the sommelier is evident and appreciated by those that know about wine. And for those who truly take their wine seriously, it is possible that they choose the wine first and then the food to go with it. For those who think this is backwards, consider if you are going to spend more than 50 Euros on a bottle of wine – then certainly it should be the wine that chooses the food! The following is a short list of what are considered to be some of the restaurants with the best wine lists in Spain.
Atrio, Cáceres
A true classic, Atrio deserves special mention for not being located in one of Spain’s major tourist hotspots. Located in the city of Cáceres, Atrio reigns in Spain with its magnificent wine list. Beautiful like the city it calls home, the restaurant features dozens of Yquem vintages, an extensive list of vintage French champagne, as well as a complete selection of Bordeaux.
El Celler de Can Roca, Girona
30,000 bottles are stored in the 200 square meter cellar waiting patiently to be brought up to one of the tables of what is known by many as the best restaurant in the world. The cellar of El Celler is a project of Josep Roca, one of the brothers who gives life to the restaurant and also considered to be one of the best sommeliers from Spain. Burgundy, Champagne, Riesling, Priorat and Jerez all have a special place in the cellar.
El Celler
Zalacain, Madrid
Zalacain was the first restaurant to receive three Michelin stars in Spain. It is even more well-known due to its famous sommelier, Custodio Zamora. It has over 1,000 selections and gives special attention to wines of Oporto, not often seen in other wine lists.
Rekondo, San Sebastian
Some five years ago, the prestigious Wine Spectator magazine awarded Rekondo for having one of the top five wine lists in the world. It is said that when Robert Parker, the famous American critic, visited the restaurant in 2012, the sommelier chose for him a Rioja wine from the year he was born. It is service like this that maintains the reputation of the restaurant.
Kaia-Kaipe, Guetaria
About 40,000 bottles and 1,000 selections. A complete collection of French wines and an impressive list of Rioja including very old vintages. Excellent way to celebrate a birthday and find a selection from a particular year.
Contributed by Luis Lechuga, Managing Director at Winetourismspain A Luxury Travel Blog
Follow us on Twitter: @TraveloreReport

Wow Airlines Will Launch Service To Service To Reykjavik, Iceland From Boston And Baltimore Later This Year With Rates As Low As $99 Each Way


Recently, WOW Air announced that they will launch service to Reykjavik, Iceland from Boston and Baltimore later this year with rates as low as $99 each way. On May 8th, 2015 round trip service from Baltimore for just $99 will be available four days a week and will extend to five days a week after June 3rd.
With more people heading to Iceland on vacation there’s no doubt that these seats will fill in no time.  Especially when Reykjavik’s Keflavik Airport (KEF) serves as a great hub to accessing the rest of Europe. If you need to book additional flights we highly recommend these websites for booking the cheapest and best flights available. You’ll find flights as low as $70 from Iceland to London (with EasyJet) to help you explore the rest of Europe.

Travelore Tips: How To Use Miles To Get A Seat Upgrade

Trip Doctor: How to Use Miles to Get a Seat Upgrade

With the increasingly limited availability of coveted award seats—and more and more miles and points flooding the system—finding business-class tickets for a reasonable number of miles is harder than ever. Here are some tips from the mileage pros.
Don’t rely on upgrading. In the past, it was relatively easy to buy an economy ticket and use miles to get to the front of the plane. It’s become more of a crapshoot recently. Airlines are now focused on selling business-class seats and often open them up to upgrades only at the last minute, says Brian Kelly, founder of the Points Guy blog. (What’s more, some airlines require you to buy a nearly full-fare economy ticket to qualify for an upgrade.) But unless you’re a high-priority million-miler, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up stuck in coach. “It’s a very expensive lottery,” says Gary Leff, founder of Book Your Award, a mileage-redemption service. The better option is to use your miles to secure a business-class seat outright; they’re more plentiful and a better value. Upgrading to business on a Delta flight from the United States to Europe, for example, will cost you 15,000 to 25,000 miles on top of your economy fare—often with no guaranteed seat; the lowest-tier business award seats go for just 62,500 miles. That said, if you’re willing to gamble, consider a premium subscription to Expertflyer.com ($9.99 per month), which will notify you when an upgrade (or an award seat) becomes available.
Diversify your points. If you’re not going to reach elite status with an airline, it doesn’t make sense to rely on a single domestic carrier to house all your miles, leaving yourself vulnerable to devaluations. Your best bet is to earn through a credit card tied to a flexible-points program, such as American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest, all of which let you transfer points to a variety of travel partners. And even as United, Delta, and other airlines make it harder to bank miles, credit cards still have lucrative earning structures (sign-up bonuses, double-points offers, etc.). The Points Guy and One Mile at a Time blogs are both great resources for credit card offers and insights.
Leverage partnerships. Domestic carriers’ websites don’t show you all the inventory of all the airline’s international partners. Ben Schlappig, founder of PointsPros and the One Mile at a Time blog, advises calling the airline and asking about seats on affiliated airlines. For example, American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be used for Etihad Airways award seats, which are often available, since many U.S. travelers aren’t aware of this agreement. And don’t overlook Alaska Airlines. Though it isn’t part of the major international alliances, Alaska miles can be used on several Oneworld and SkyTeam carriers, including American and Delta.
Stay flexible. You’ll find the best upgrade and award-seat availability, Leff says, when business travelers are not flying: at off-peak times, midweek, and midday. Business seats are also easier to snag on flights to or from second-tier airports. That American Airlines flight from Raleigh- Durham to London has much more availability than one from New York’s JFK to Heathrow, Schlappig says. You can also mix and match carriers now that airlines are lifting the restrictions on booking one-way award tickets. The benefit, Leff says, is that you don’t need as many miles in any one frequent-flier account to take advantage of one-way rewards.
Outsource the task. If the thought of moving points around and researching airline partnerships makes you want to throw in the towel, you can. Services like Schlappig’sPointsPros and Leff’s Book Your Award will find those lucrative award seats for you. Schlappig charges $200 a ticket ($100 for each additional one); Leff’s fee is $150 a ticket. Neither will charge you until he finds you an acceptable itinerary.
Contributed by Amy Farley, News Editor of Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @afarles.
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