Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Upscale New England Hotel Joins Curio – A Collection By Hilton

Upscale New England hotel joins Curio – A Collection by Hilton Madison Beach Hotel, beachfront New England hotel joins Curio – A Collection by Hilton
A New England hotel rich in history, Madison Beach Hotel, today joined Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Worldwide’s growing global collection of distinctive hotels for passionate travelers seeking local discovery and authentic experiences. Set in a relaxing beachfront setting, Madison Beach Hotel is an upscale boutique resort with each of the hotel’s 32 rooms offering luxurious accommodations with sweeping ocean views and private balconies. Located in the heart of Madison Beach, the hotel is the area’s only resort on the beach and is ideally situated near a variety of dining, recreation and shopping areas.
Madison Beach Hotel’s rich history dates back to the early 1900s when it originally served as a rooming house for shipbuilders passing through the region. The hotel has also welcomed thousands of train passengers over the years, attracted by the natural beauty of Madison’s beaches. The hotel was one of the oldest continuously run businesses on the shoreline of Connecticut. In 2012, the hotel was completely rebuilt and re-opened to the public.
“The unique history of this premier property, combined with the personalized hospitality and comfortable elegance found at Madison Beach Hotel truly embodies the spirit of the Curio collection,” said Dianna Vaughan, global head, Curio – A Collection by Hilton. “We are excited to welcome this beautiful boutique hotel as our second property in New England, joining the Providence Biltmore.
The 4-story building boasts the region’s distinct New England-inspired design, complemented by amenities and services that today’s modern traveler has come to expect at an upscale hotel. This includes complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, a full service restaurant, fitness center, yoga room and Sounds of the Sea Spa. Additionally, the hotel’s guest rooms boast luxury linens, coffee makers, refrigerators and oversized soaking tubs – with some rooms also featuring fireplaces and separate rain showers to expand the individualized guest experience.
"We look forward to continuing our reputation for excellence in the New England area as we embark on an exciting new partnership with Curio – A Collection by Hilton," said Lou Carrier, president of Distinctive Hospitality Group, the hotel's operator. "Madison Beach Hotel is embedded in the fabric of this close-knit community, and we’re honored Hilton Worldwide hand-picked this unique hotel to join its prestigious collection."

Travelore News: Newest Hampton Inn By Hilton Opens In Times Square In New York

New Hotel within Walking Distance of Major New York City Attractions
Hilton Worldwide (NYSE: HLT) announced the opening of Hampton Inn by Hilton Manhattan/Times Square Central, its newest property to join Hampton by Hilton, the global brand of more than 2,000 mid-priced Hampton Inn by Hilton, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton and Hampton by Hilton hotels. The 300-room hotel, located at 220 West 41st St, is managed by OTO Development, Spartanburg SC.
“This location is perfect for guests looking to experience New York City’s most popular attractions up close,” Phil Cordell, global head, focused service brands. “Broadway shows, world-class museums, and the biggest names in entertainment are a short walk or taxi ride away. We are looking forward to extending Hamptonality to the heart of New York, one of the world’s most exciting cities.”
Located on 41st Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, Hampton Inn by Hilton Manhattan/Times Square Central is nearby popular New York City attractions including the Broadway Theater District, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall and the Empire State Building, as well as all of the exciting entertainment in Times Square. The location provides convenient access to public transportation hubs including all three area airports, Penn Station and Grand Central Station.
Hampton Inn by Hilton Manhattan/Times Square Central provides free On the House hot breakfast daily, as well as Hampton’s On the Run™ Breakfast Bags, available Monday through Friday. The hotel also offers amenities such as free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, a 24-hour business center with complimentary printing and a 425-square foot meeting space that can accommodate up to 12 people.
“Times Square is an ideal location for professionals to meet and connect in New York,” said Gerry Hughes, general manager. “Our new Hampton Inn by Hilton is just a few blocks from many businesses including the New York Times, Bank of America, Reuters, Ernst and Young, and Deloitte, making it a prime location to host meetings and events, or employees traveling from out of town.”
The new hotel features the Perfect Mix Lobby, designed as an extension of the guestroom with a variety of seating and lighting options for both leisure and business travelers. Additionally, the hotel features TREATS, a new food and beverage shop filled with snacks, toiletries, local merchandise and drinks for purchase. 
Guestrooms are equipped with the brand’s signature Clean and fresh Hampton bed®, 40” flat-screen TV, laptop-size safe, free in-room movie channel, and coffeemaker.  Guests can enjoy stunning views of New York City right from their window on the upper floors or from the hotel’s rooftop observation deck on the 32nd floor.
Hampton by Hilton team members proudly exhibit a unique culture described as Hamptonality. This term describes each hotel’s approach to friendly customer service and anticipation of guests’ needs and providing travelers with helpful suggestions about area attractions, historical facts and fun things to do around town. Additionally, hotels are infused with local photography and artwork, highlighting each property’s connection and support to its own community.
Hampton Inn by Hilton Manhattan/Times Square Central participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only hotel loyalty program that allows members to earn Points & Miles® on the same stay and No Blackout Dates on reward stays. HHonors members always get our lowest price with our Best Price Guarantee, along with HHonors Points, digital check-in and no booking fees only when they book directly through Hilton.
For more information or to make reservations, please visit Hampton Inn by Hilton Manhattan/Times Square Central or call +1 212 221 1188. 
Read more about Hampton by Hilton at www.hampton.com and www.news.hampton.com.

Travelore News: After Resisting For Years, JetBlue Adds Checked Bag Fee

JetBlue Airways
 In this April 23, 2013, file photo, a JetBlue plane takes off in view of the air traffic

(AP) — The era of free checked suitcases on JetBlue has come to an end.
The airline proudly proclaimed itself a holdout on fees for years, allowing passengers to check one bag for free. Now it will charge up to $25 for checked luggage.
The move leaves Southwest Airlines as the only major U.S. carrier not to charge a bag fee.
JetBlue Airways had announced the change in November but didn't detail how it would be implemented until Tuesday. The fee only applies to new bookings; existing reservations still get one free bag.
Passengers will pay less if they plan ahead. Those with the cheapest tickets will pay $20 each way if they check in online or at a kiosk. The fee jumps to $25 if they go to the counter. A new fare class that costs about $15 extra each way would include one free bag.
Fees for a second checked bag and reservation changes are being lowered.
The airline plans to reinvest the millions of dollars it will collect from bag fees into new seats and TVs, according to Marty St. George, JetBlue's executive vice president of commercial products and planning.
"Some of these changes are going to help pay for what's the biggest product upgrade JetBlue has had in the history of the company," he told The Associated Press in advance of the announcement.
Under pressure from investors and Wall Street analysts, JetBlue has been slowly adopting the practices of other airlines. It has launched and then expanded a first class product called Mint. It has reduced legroom on some planes to fit more passengers. Now it is charging for bags, something other carriers started doing in 2008.
The New York-based airline still stands out in other ways. By the end of next year, it will offer free Internet on all its Airbus A320 and A321 jets. Passengers also get free access to more than 100 channels of live satellite TV and radio and JetBlue still has more legroom than its competition.
JetBlue doesn't have a fixed bag fee like other airlines. Instead, it has rolled out three new fare classes. The cheapest, called Blue, doesn't include a checked bag — although passengers can always add one later at a higher cost. The next fare, Blue Plus, includes one free checked bag, more frequent flier points and lower fees if passengers want to make changes to the reservation. The most-expensive tier is called Blue Flex and comes with two free checked bags and allows changes without penalty.
The fare difference between Blue and Blue Plus will change based on route and demand but should be "about $15," according to JetBlue. Blue Flex would cost about $100 more each way than the cheapest tickets and is fully refundable.
Online travel agencies like Orbitz, Priceline and Expedia, will — for the foreseeable future — only sell the cheapest fares, those that don't include a checked bag. Passengers will still have to pay at the airport for their checked bags but St. George notes that about 75 percent of passengers book directly with JetBlue.
Some fees are being cut. The charge for a second checked bag will drop from $50 each way to $35. JetBlue used to charge $75 to $150 to make changes to a reservation, based on the price of a ticket. That fee is dropping to $70 to $135 for the cheapest tickets and $60 to $120 for the Blue Plus fares.
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.

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Violations Of Halal Guidelines Reported in Flying Food Group's LAX Operations

Kitchen employees at the Imperial Hwy. facility could not guarantee that food marketed as halal did not 
come into contact with haram(forbidden) or mushbooh (suspect) food products

In spite of policies and training programs that establish rules for halal compliance, a number of disturbing 
violations of halal guidelines have occurred in a Flying Food Group catering kitchen servicing Etihad flights
 out of Los Angeles.
Was Your Airline's Food Haram?
Reported violations of these guidelines—which establish the foods Muslims are permitted to eat and how
 they are to be prepared — at the kitchen included:
  • Preparation of deep fried items, including french fries and kibbeh, in fryers used for general food
  •  preparation, including pork products;
  • Comingling of halal and non-halal service items during preparation and washing, which was
  •  sometimes done without soap or proper sanitizing processes;
  • Preparation, storage and transportation of non-halal food in areas and with equipment designated
  •  for halal use.
These reported violations may have resulted from working conditions and operational challenges within
 Flying Food Group. Surveys of employees in one of the company's Los Angeles kitchens have raised
 concerns about some employees' ability to work in a way that allows them to consistently protect
 themselves and the passengers they serve.

The halal travel advisory comes on the heels of a June 9 New York Times article, 
The rapid growth of three Middle Eastern airlines — Emirates, Etihad and Qatar — has increased
 the demand for halal catering services at U.S. airports.  In June 2014, Etihad Airlines selected Flying
 Food to service its LAX to Abu Dhabi route — a 16-hour daily flight that can accommodate more than
 85,000 passengers annually.  As of June 2015, workers say that a dedicated halal kitchen for preparation
 of Etihad's meals was still not operational.

UNITE HERE is a labor union with over 270,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.  It represents over
 33,000 workers in the airline concessions and catering industries.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Mandarin Oriental Is Planning Another Luxury Hotel In Beijing, China

Mandarin Oriental is planning another luxury hotel in Beijing, China

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has announced that it will manage another luxury property in the heart of Beijing, scheduled to open in 2017, in the Wangfujing district of the capital city. Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing will be located in the new premier mixed use centre ‘WF CENTRAL’ being developed by Wangfu Central Real Estate Development Company Limited, an affiliated company of Hongkong Land.
Located on the top two floors of the prestigious WF CENTRAL, the hotel will command outstanding views of several famous landmarks in the capital. The hotel is designed by world renowned architects Kohn Pedersen Fox, and will feature garden terraces intended to capture the intimacy of a grand courtyard residence, ideal for guests to socialize, entertain and relax in.
All 74 luxurious guestrooms and suites will be spacious and elegantly styled, and many will have excellent views of the Forbidden City. Mandarin Oriental’s renowned customer-centric in-room entertainment systems will be a prominent feature.
Featuring two restaurants and a bar designed to become a destination in itself, Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing will offer some of the finest cuisine in the city. Both restaurants will have access to a rooftop garden terrace providing unparalleled views of the city’s famous sites, while the bar will be connected to a private courtyard. Other facilities will include an all-encompassing Spa at Mandarin Oriental providing holistic rejuvenation and relaxation in a serene, meditative setting. Additional wellness facilities include an indoor swimming pool and well-equipped fitness centre.
WF CENTRAL is located on Wangfujing Street, an area that is well recognized as the prime commercial and retail destination in the city. The centre will showcase prestigious international retail and dining, as well as the 74 room luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel. The hotel is within easy reach of Beijing’s major tourist attractions, with both the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square within walking distance.
“Beijing continues to develop in stature as one of the world’s leading destinations, and we are delighted at the opportunity of opening a second hotel in this important capital city. We look forward to collaborating again with Hongkong Land to create another iconic property, as we have previously done with our award-winning hotels, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong and Mandarin Oriental, Macau,” said Edouard Ettedgui, Group Chief Executive of Mandarin Oriental.
“With WF CENTRAL being Hongkong Land’s debut flagship commercial development in Beijing, we look forward to working with Mandarin Oriental again to create a truly exceptional lifestyle experience in the heart of the city, following our inaugural partnership on The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong,” said Y K Pang, Chief Executive of Hong kong Land.
Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing, Beijing will be the Group’s second hotel to open in the city. Mandarin Oriental will also manage a luxury 241-room hotel as part of the CCTV project, which is scheduled to open in 2016.

It Isn’t Too Late To Book The Ideal Provence Vacation This Summer

Provence Emotional Escapes introduces three new gorgeous luxury villas for your dream vacation. Whether you envision a Provencal gourmet escape with a personal chef, an outdoor getaway filled with tennis, hiking, and biking, a retreat with your own personal lavender field, or the ultimate Provencal shopping adventure, these luxury homes offer something for every kind of traveler.

Rent a Provence Emotional Escapes luxury villa and encounter an entirely new way to travel. Enjoy a cooking class in Provence, tour a Chateauneuf du Pape vineyard, discover the lavender harvest in the Luberon, the possibilities are endless. At the end of each day you will find yourself in your very own short-term dream home to fully enjoy a stress-free vacation. Should you desire an intimate meal cooked in your villa by a private chef, an in-home spa treatment, a walking tour, a yoga session, a cooking class or a language lesson, Provence Emotional Escapes, will find you the perfect luxury service provider to complete your holiday experience. Provence Emotional Escapes’ portfolio of luxury rental properties has been amassed over 12 years with most discerning clients in mind. The company relies on local managers at each of their destinations to seek out the best properties for their clients and to ensure that their current portfolio of properties are being maintained at the highest standards. They corner the market on offering an unprecedented selection of quality rental properties in the most beautiful destinations in France.  Their local specialists work together to pool regional knowledge, offering expertise on a global scale. Just relax, indulge, enjoy, breathe and let Provence Emotional Escapes do the rest. www.provence.emotional-escapes.com

Fontaine de Saumane (Isle sur la Sorgue, sleeps 18)
Fontaine de Saumane is a spectacular property dominating the countryside close to Isle sur la Sorgue and the Luberon. Undoubtedly one of the most stunning properties in Provence, it has all that a discriminating visitor could want: a long and fascinating history; an impeccable and careful restoration, which, while keeping many aspects of the ancient building, melded them perfectly into the newer construction. The estate has a superlative location close to the Luberon, with views on the national park and the Monts de Vaucluse. La Fontaine de Saumane is centrally located, thus an ideal place from which to visit the many Provençal attractions travelers want to see.

This is a grand estate was restored by English designer and architect, Giles Vincent with both comfort and authenticity in mind. The main house has seven bedrooms, each with bathrooms en-suite. There is an apartment in the main house as well, and a guest house set away from the main house, with two bedrooms, sharing a bathroom. The estate was named after the many magnificent water features on the 40 acre site. La Fontaine de Saumane has an extraordinarily rich history. During its existence the property has been used as a tile making factory, and at one point as a Benedictine Priory. It was given over to agriculture and silk worms in the 19th century before silk worms were devastated by disease.
Key features include:
·        10 minute drive from L’Isle sur la Sorgue, the famous market and antique center, 30 minutes from Gordes and the Luberon, with many of the perched villages classified among “france’s most beautiful villages,” 30 minutes to Carpentras home to the oldest synagogue in France, and 40 minutes to some of the most famous Cotes-du-Rhone wine villages of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueras, and Beaumes-de-Venise
·        An on-site housekeeper and gardener
·        Fresh bread and croissants delivered daily
·        Tennis, jogging, hiking, biking and extensive parkland at your doorstep
·        A quick drive to Bedoin, one of three access points cyclists take to climb the world famous Mont Ventoux, the highest mountain in Provence, made famous by the Tour de France
Chateau Condrieu (Isle sur la Sorgue, sleeps 10)
A stunning, historical luxury vacation rental enjoying an elevated, dominating position with far-reaching views over the Ventoux valley, Château Condrieu was built on remains of a 12th century fortress, but has been enhanced with all the modern conveniences. Making for a truly hedonistic stay, the on-site chef will prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for you daily so that you can enjoy the site, its vistas and your vacation to the maximum. You can expect to be treated to regional and seasonal specialties during your stay: asparagus, mushrooms and strawberries in the spring; cherries, peaches and melons in summer; mushrooms, game and truffles in fall and winter. Meals can of course be accompanied by the fantastic local wines. The house is filled with special finds from the world-famous antique center of L’Isle sur la Sorgue, just minutes away.
La Maison des Fragrances (St-Remy-de-Provence, sleeps 13)
Enjoy your own personal lavender field at La Maison des Fragrances, a luxury vacation rental in the outskirts of St-Rémy-de-Provence, one of the most beautiful small towns in Provence. This beautiful home owned by descendants of the family that introduced aromatherapy to France, boasts 20 acres of olive orchards, pine groves, lavender fields and cypress trees, a large swimming pool and total privacy. Just a few minute walk from the center of town, there are six bedrooms with bathrooms en suite, sleeping 13 guests. Past meets present in this stunning home. The interior is a mix of beautiful, authentic Provencal furniture in a home that has been fully modernized. The estate is quite large, with a large welcoming entry courtyard, lots of tables under mature trend trees for outdoor dining. St-Rémy-de-Provence, is known as a sophisticated country town with some of the best Provence has to offer including:

·        Central location, with great historical significance including the ancient Roman town of Glanum, the birthplace of Nostradamus and St. Paul de Mausole, with its 12th century cloister and chapel, and the hospital where Van Gogh lived for most of the last year of his life
·        Excellent cafes and restaurants including excellent regional cuisine and world renowned Michelin star restaurants
·        Famous Wednesday morning Provencal market, excellent permanent foods, local boutiques and galleries
·        Close to excellent Alpilles vineyards as well as Cotes-du-Rhone, Chateauneuf-duPape, Gigondas, and Vacqueryas

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Muslim Visitors To Thailand Get Their Own App

Muslim visitors to Thailand get their own app

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched its first App designed specifically for the growing number of Muslim visitors to find their way around the country.
The App for iOS and Android is both an online and offline guidebook that will help Muslim visitors find mosques, halal restaurants and hotels, shopping centres with prayer rooms, and other facilities of cultural importance to Muslim travellers.
A critical component of the newly-launched strategy to position as a Muslim friendly destination, the App is initially in English and Thai but will be expanded to include Arabic and Bahasa Indonesia later. It also has a very important search and navigation feature to help quickly locate specific places and estimate the time it will take to get there from a users’ current location.
It was developed with the support of the Halal Science Centre of Chulalongkorn University, the Foundation of the Islamic Centre of Thailand, Halal Standards Institute of Thailand and the Tourism Council of Thailand.
Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Acting Governor, TAT, said, “We are especially happy to launch this App in the holy month of Ramadan. We hope it will be useful to the many Muslim visitors from Indonesia and Malaysia who may chose to visit Thailand during the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr (Hari Raya) holidays at the end of the month.”
The Muslim-friendly destination strategy is primarily aimed at the 240 million-strong Islamic populations of Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei, which are expected to grow strongly after the ASEAN integration process advances from 2016 onwards.
Mrs Juthaporn said, “The Muslim population worldwide is about 1.6 billion, representing 23 percent of the total global population and, still, has plenty of room to grow. Thailand has great potential to serve this market. Today, we are seeing a whole new generation of young Thai-Muslims emerging nationwide, and it is very important for them to seek promising opportunities in the tourism sector.”
She noted that Thailand is already the top destination for Middle East travellers in Asia. Amongst the non-Muslim countries, Thailand is ranked second in the world by the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2015.
Mrs Juthaporn said, “We believe this is because we have the required range of products and services for Muslim travellers. We are already seeing many of our shopping complexes providing facilities for Muslim prayers. Halal food is also becoming commonplace. We are also seeing increasing investor interest in developing halal-tourism hotels. All this is good for us because it will create jobs for our emerging younger generation and promote national inclusiveness and integration.”
TAT has also produced a number of guidebooks and brochures to help Muslim visitors; such as, “Halal Check-in Thailand (which contains a list of halal-certified restaurants) and Islamic Attractions in

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Holiday Guide To Huelva, Andalucía: The Best Beaches, Hotels And Restaurants

Playa de Mazagón in Huelva, Andalucía.
Playa de Mazagón in Huelva, Andalucía. Photograph: Alamy

There’s history aplenty, pristine, empty beaches, fresh sardines and a huge national park to explore in Huelva, the mysterious corner of south-west Spain
In a recent article in Spain’s El País newspaper, Huelva’s coastline was named the Secret Coast; outside Spain it’s not just the coast but the province that’s a bit of a mystery. Good news for independent travellers looking for unspoilt gems, because this far south-western corner of Andalucía, between Cádiz and Portugal, has many, and not least along its 75-mile coastline, part of the Costa de la Luz, or the Coast of Light.
To the east, the coastal area is dominated by Doñana, the largest and wildest of several protected marshlands, and a great long stretch of virgin beach backed by high dunes. And to the west, after the over-optimistic coastal developments of Isla Canela, there’s a string of chilled-out, small seaside resorts and fishing villages where life is easy, exceptional seafood is as cheap as chips, and people dance barefoot in beach bars on wide stretches of sand until the early hours.
With the coastal city of Huelva equidistant between Faro and Seville airports (one-and-a-half hours away), access couldn’t be easier. A fast road (E1/A49) runs parallel to the coast from Seville to the Portuguese border, and all the beaches are signposted off it.

What to do

The Wilds of Doñana
Flamengos in Donana national park.
 Flamingos in Doñana national park. Photograph: age fotostock/Alamy
The 100,000 hectares of salt marshes, dunes, scrub and pine forest that make up this world heritage site are shared between Huelva, Cádiz and Seville, but most sit between the rivers Tinto and Guadalquivir in Huelva province, bordered by the Atlantic to the south. One of the most important and biodiverse protected areas in Europe, Doñana is home to the Iberian lynx (which you won’t see) and a favoured spot for waterfowl (which you will). The waters are packed with avocets, spoonbills, greylag geese, herons, flamingos, and various endangered ducks, although in high summer, much of the water disappears – as do many of the birds. Arranging a visit can be baffling. Only one company is authorised to drive visitors into the national park, and that’s Cooperativa Marismas del Rocío, which offers a four-hour bus trip (+34 959 430 432, no website, 29.50pp). Another El Rocío-based company, Doñana a Caballo (+34 674 219 568, 30pp), takes riding tours through the park and you can hike a bit. There are three visitor centres signposted off the A483 from Matalascañas to El Rocío, from which to get information about short walking trails. El Acebuche is officially the main centre, but twitchers may prefer the trail from La Rocina which follows the course of a stream.
El Rocío
El Rocio, view to Ermita del Rocio
 El Rocío. Photograph: Getty Images/Westend61
Few places are as pleasantly weird as El Rocío in mid-afternoon – you’ll think you’ve stumbled across the filmset of a western. Literally a backwater on the edge of the Doñana marshes, its wide streets are made of drifting sand, low-flying flamingos cross the plazas, people get around on horseback, every house has a hitching post, and the few shops sell flamenco dresses, Catholic trinkets, or riding boots. Once a year, at Pentecost in May, 1 million all-singing, all-dancing pilgrims converge in wagons and on horses to pay homage to the sparkling statue of Our Lady of El Rocío, Queen of the Marsh – an event that’s only for the most nocturnal and devout of partygoers.

Ruta Británica, Huelva
When an earthquake struck Lisbon in 1755, Huelva city, which sits on marshland, wobbled like jelly and collapsed, so there’s little evidence of its long history as an Atlantic trading post. But this self-guided tour celebrates the peculiarities of its recent past. The British came to set up the Rio Tinto Mining Company in 1873, took copper and left suburbia, private clubs, Victorian bathrooms, library books and a steam railway, as well as a local passion for billiards, badminton, and golf and, most importantly, the very first football club in Spain (unfortunately, Huelva is currently on a losing streak). The colony lasted 81 years, finally dispersed by Franco in 1954. Huelva Experiences runs a tour of the route, which includes the anachronistically suburban Barrio Reina Victoria, a dock and station constructed by the Rio Tinto company, and, as an add-on, the tomb of William Martin AKA Glyndwr Michael, The Man Who Never Was, whose body – along with documents detailing fake invasions of Greece and Sardinia – washed ashore here during the Second World War for the attention of German spies as part of Operation Mincemeat.
 Puerta del Atlántico Visitor Centre, +34 959 541 817, huelva.es/turismo; Huelva Experiences, +34 687 243 802, huelvaexperiences.com, adult €40, children €20, under-fours free
In the footsteps of Christopher Columbus
Replicas of ships Columbus sailed to the Americas in at in La Rábida.
 Replicas of ships Columbus sailed to the Americas in at in La Rábida. Photograph: Alamy
If it weren’t for the good people of Huelva, Columbus may never have reached the new world – his boats, sailors and funding were all procured from an 8-mile stretch along the steamy, sleepy Rio Tinto.
The untouristy Ruta Colombina takes you to Moguer where, behind the blinding white walls of the medieval Santa Clara Monastery, Columbus talked the Abbess into persuading her nephew, King Ferdinand, to back his madcap venture. The tours of this well-preserved place are fascinating (especially of note are the translucent alabaster windows and the massive great storks’ nests on top).
In Palos de la Frontera, 15 minutes’ drive south, there’s a collection of bits and bobs and a short docudrama about Columbus in what remains of the house of Martín Alonso Pinzón, the influential, wealthy mariner who, with his two brothers, joined the explorer on that first voyage in 1492. At the Iglesia de San Jorge round the corner, you can stand in the very spot the royal order was read out to unenthusiastic villagers, explaining they were to set sail with this Colón (Columbus) character to “certain parts of the ocean”. The Fontanilla, the old fountain at which the ships’ barrels were filled, is nearby but not the navigable river as its course was shifted in the Lisbon earthquake. So the excellent replicas of the three caravales that made the voyage – the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa María – sit at a purpose-built dock, a little further south again in La Rábida, below the monastery that accommodated Columbus from 1491-1492 while he waited for his funds.
 Moguer Tourist Office, +34 959 371 898. For Palos de la Frontera and Casa Museo Martín Alonso Pinzón, see museopinzon.es
Vive!, Ayamonte
Describing itself as a “thematic shop of typical products – souvenirs, smells, gifts, personalised embroideries, flamenco, wine, preserved fish ... and more!”, this is the quintessential deli-bar with tables and umbrellas out front, and seating at the back of the aromatic interior, plus a helpful assistant, Loli, to guide customers through the choices. All Huelva’s bounty is on display from Jabugo hams and Condado de Huelva wine, and locally caught and canned fish in arty tins on fruit-crate shelves. It’s a sweet spot, popular in the evenings. Try Melquíades Saenz orange wine from Bodegas del Diezmo Nuevo.
 Plaza de la Laguna 14, +34 959 320 339
Boat to Portugal
The ferry from to Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal.
 Photograph: Alamy
Ironically, one of the best things about Ayamonte (lovely as it is) is leaving it. The 15-minute ferry ride across the Guadiana takes you to a different country and time zone, specifically, to Vilareal do Santo António where you can eat pastéis de nata and misunderstand another language for a bit, before getting the ferry back. The boat’s big enough to take cars, but this international experience is laid-back and stress-free. Ferries leave every 30 minutes from July to mid-September (from 9.30am-9pm), and every hour (until 8pm) during low season.
 Transporte Fluvial del Guadiana, +34 959 47 06 17, rioguadiana.net. Ferry €1.50 for an adult, €5.50 for a car

The best beaches

Avoiding the crowds on one of the unspoilt beaches on Isla Cristina.
 Avoiding the crowds on one of the unspoilt beaches on Isla Cristina. Photograph: Alamy
Those who want a really wild beach should head to the 14 miles between Mazagón and Matalascañas, where there’s little but streams, pines, sea, and sand, wafted into massive dunes, some over 100m high. From the “car park” atCuesta Maneli, a wooden walkway of almost a mile leads up and over the loftyDuna del Asperillo, ending at the virgin beach, Playa de Castilla. Further east, towards Matalascañas, there’s a sign for the Laguna del Jaral trail. Here the trip to the beach and back is sufficiently long (3½ miles) and adventurous (some hauling on a rope is required to get up and down the the sandy cliff) to put some people off hence a higher chance of splendid isolation. A third option is to head east from built-up Matalascañas into the protected beaches of the Doñana national park.The Beach Trail runs for 20 miles, ending on the banks of the Guadalquivir, opposite the fish restaurants of Sanlúcar de Barrameda.
For boat trips, there are few regions where it’s easier – or cheaper – to test the ocean waves, and there are innumerable operators up and down the coast. After watching boats slipping in and out of the marina at Mazagón, you’ll want to be on one. The Rutas en Barco Mazagón (+34 667 351 552, €25pp) runs dolphin-spotting, river estuary trips and voyages into Doñana. At the adventurous end of the spectrum, Huelva’s wide beaches are increasingly popular with kitesurfers. Centres in Isla Canela, Isla Cristina and El Portil offer kit rental, full courses and four-hour beginner sessions. Operators include Isla Canela Kite el Paradise (+34 646 280 860) or Flecha Extreme (+34 617 000 546) in El Portil, which also offers stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
Duna del Asperillo
 Duna del Asperillo. Photograph: Alamy
If you find the prospect of stumbling across nudists alarming, remain alert at all times when approaching the following areas (from west to east): Playa Flecha de Nueva Umbría, just south of Lepe (a mile or so beyond the village of Casas del Terrón); Playa de la Mata Negra, just west of Punta Umbría where the Odiel Marshes meet the sea in a mass of pines, junipers and dunes; the 3-mile stretch between the Mazagón parador and the photogenic Torre del Loro; and Playa del Asperillo and Playa de Castilla, both accessed from Cuesta Maneli on the road to Matalascañas. All have designated nudist beach areas, although “textiles” – clothes wearers – are welcome.
An easy and jolly choice, Isla Cristina, wedged between marsh and sea, offers cream sand, lifeguards, a promenade, easy parking, a frontline of palms, small white hotels, bars, and restaurants serving cold beer, fresh sardines and arroz marinero. There are a selection of playas to suit everyone, from the family-friendly Playa del Carmen to La Redondela to the east, where you can abandon your car beside the wooden chiringuito (small bar) and follow the “chameleon route” through pine groves to find your own space in the dunes.
Just west of Huelva, the river Piedras runs parallel to the coast, creating an 8-mile sandy spit, la Flecha del Rompido, and the beaches from El Rompido to El Portil are tucked behind it. So, emerging through the pines at Playa Nuevo Portil, you find yourself on one paradisiacal beach facing another, beyond which is a third and the Atlantic ocean. Small boats ferry people over the calm turquoise channel from three points along the length of la Flecha (€3 return). The sandbar is a protected area and utterly devoid of infrastructure, while Nuevo Portil benefits from a smattering of chiringuitos, among them Roman Chavez Marín’s friendly and chic KM6 (open 15 June-15 September), built from a shipping container, pallets and fruit boxes and shaded by sails. Come here for fresh fish at lunchtime, and for beach parties after dark.

Where to eat

Acánthum, Huelva
Acánthum, Huelva Coast, Spain
 Acánthum, Huelva Coast, Spain
Visit almost any restaurant along Huelva’s Costa de la Luz and you’ll find the same choice, which is fine because the fried every-type-of fish, seafood risotto, and jamón from the sierras is universally excellent. Nevertheless, a new breed of young chefs in the city of Huelva have taken the level of sophistication, innovation, and creativity of local fare to a higher plane. Most notable is Xanty Elías, whose restaurant, Acánthum, was the first in the province to be awarded a “sol” in Spain’s prestigious Repsol Guide. Elías spent two years at three Michelin-starred Arzak in San Sebastián, and it shows: not just oysters, but oyster withchicharrones (fried pork rinds) and an apple infusion; not just ham, but ham hock tartar and mustard ice-cream, and so on. Go for haute tapas at the bar or book in advance for the tasting menu (€65).
 Calle San Salvador 17, +34 959 245 135, acanthum.com
Mesón El Lobito, MoguerI could imagine riding through this cavernous bodega, clopping over the courtyard cobbles drinking wine, while the chef cooked a leg of lamb or venison over an open fire. Run by the third generation of a local family, this atmospheric restaurant looks more like 500 years old than 60 with its thick white walls, barrels, dark corners and hunting trophies. It specialises in grilled meat – rabbit, oxtail, pork and veal – and there is fish, but asking for a light salad is a no-no.
 Calle de Rábida 31; +34 959 370 660, mesonellobito.com
Bodeguita de los Raposo, Moguer
There’s great food and no fuss at this unassuming, super-friendly local spot. Most people ignore the formal restaurant and cram into the patio, which is neon-lit and decorated with yokes, hoes, partridge cages, and things that look suspiciously like snares. What with that and europop on the radio, it may seem an inauspicious choice in this historic town, but the translucent ham (sliced from a leg dangling over the bar), the tongue-tingling ewe’s cheese, the piping-hot fried fish and spicy, oily patatas bravas can’t be bettered. A plus for ditherers is the check-box menu – a list of items available in €2,€3 or €4 portions, and set menus with wine from €11.50.
 Calle Fuentes 60, +34 959 371 281, bodeguitadelosraposo.es
Restaurante Toruño, El RocíoTo get a handle on the strange world that is the marshy outpost of El Rocío and a good choice of cocina onubense (Huelva cooking), eat here. The walls are lined with old photos of locals playing guitar, riding through sand and mists, dancing flamenco and taking the patron saint on a tour of the town. Outside, in the shade of a 1,000-year-old olive tree, everyone appears to be related and inebriated, and waiters are serving drinks to well-turned out riders on well-turned out horses. The food is hearty, a perfect blend of local hunting, shooting, farming (partridge paté, venison, duck and pork) and fishing (prawns, sole and “various wild fish”), the Atlantic being just down the road. Ornithologists in particular will appreciate the tooting and murmured quark-quark serenade of waterfowl sploshing through the adjacent marsh.
 Plaza del Acebuchal 22, +34 959 442 323

Places to stay

Mazagonia Hotel, Mazagón
Hotel Mazagonia, Huelva Coast, Spain
There are views of an ocean liner in an urban oasis of pine and flowers at this cool boutique hotel. From the airy, glass-walled restaurant to the 18 well-designed, sea-view rooms (each with private terrace or balcony), white sofas, chandeliers, polished concrete walls and chill-out bar beyond the pool, this little hotel offers a level of sophistication unusual in these parts. It’s five minutes’ walk to the beach and owner Lola (who, with her husband, designed the property) is an excellent source of recommendations for destinations further afield.
 Doubles from €80, +34 959 377 870, mazagonia.es
Parador de Ayamonte 
There are views of Portugal across the Guadiana from the tidy lawns of this calm, modern parador. Hot, glinting cars push on across the suspension bridge to a packed Algarve, while guests are content in the knowledge they have the lesser-known beaches of Isla Canela, just to the south. Rooms and lounging areas are simple, white and light. Given the proximity of river, marsh and sea, this is a top spot for dining on Huelva’s famous white prawns, skate and squid, while watching the best sunsets in Spain.
 Doubles from €70 B&B, +34 959 320 700, parador.es
Hotel Plaza Escribano, Moguer
Those who visit the former home (now museum) of Nobel Laureate poet Juan Ramón Jiménez in Moguer, with its luminescent central courtyard, shuttered windows, geometric tiles and charm, inevitably wish they could check in there. However, Escribano makes a friendly, good-value, if plain (bar the candy-striped lobby and some lurid walls) alternative, and is well-placed for meandering around this old town’s narrow streets and plazas.
 Doubles from €56 B&B, +34 959 373 063, hotelplazaescribano.com
Meliá Atlántico, Isla Canela
Melia Atlantico, Isla Canela, Huelva, Spain
After something quintessentially Spanish? How about a 358-room hotel with all-you-can-eat buffet? Well-heeled Spanish families decamp to big beachfront hotels and apartment blocks for the summer, and this one – vast, air-conditioned, with pool and boardwalk to beach loungers and a 5-mile beach– is a pain-free option for those with kids. There’s an evening mini-disco and daily kids’ club activities, plus kitesurfing nearby, and boat trips across the estuary to the cafes, bars and beaches of Isla Cristina. If you want to see what the coast looked like before development, stroll over to the surprisingly intact fishing village of Punta del Moral where you’ll find good wine and very cheeky drunk locals. Selected by Thomson, Melia also actively attracts independent travellers with bargain offers.
 Doubles from €75 all inclusive,
+34 959 621 000, melia.com, open 1 May to end of October
Hotel Toruño, El Rocío 
A cheery, relaxed hotel with comfy leather sofas, books, art, help-yourself homemade wine in the lobby and a very good restaurant next door. The rooms are simple, but offer fantastic views of flamingos picking their way through the marshes of Doñana. (But this sight is nothing in the context of the surreal, western filmset vibe pervading this unique backwater.) Good value, perfect location, with special packages available for ornithologists and astronomers.
 Doubles from €59 B&B, +34 959 442 323, no website
Contributed by Sorrel Downer, www.theguardian.com