WHERE TO STAY PUT IN MAURITIUS

These next few weeks we have an exotic island theme going on, we want to tickle your travel ideas and develop your thoughts into going a little further a field.
So I sent one of our intrepid reports Adam off to Mauritius.  Adam Jacot de Boinod worked on the first series of QI the BBC programme and is the author of The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World, published by Penguin Books.

So rather than me blether on here is Adams report:

FOUR SEASONS RESORT MAURITIUS

Mauritius is really a very unspoilt island and I highly recommend it whether for a honeymoon, a young family or in retirement. The hotels are excellent. The service is wonderful, the rooms thoroughly thought through and the food local, fresh and delicious.

My first resting spot, the glamorous Four Seasons Resort , lies on the east coast at Anahita. It opened in 2008 and comprises purely of different grades of villa, and it’s all been thoroughly thought through. It’s classy. It’s all bridges, bicycles and buggies along fresh concrete alleyways. Perfect for kids as well as perfunctory for the demands on the staff. It attracts chiefly a British clientele though Dutch, French, Chinese and Koreans make up most of the rest.

The hotel’s own golf course, it’s original raison d’être, was designed by Ernie Els while the one opposite on the Île aux Cerfs was by Bernhard Langer.

The lack of a remarkable beach, given that the water is too shallow to swim with any degree of confidence, is more than compensated for by the hourly option of a boat shuttle to the Île aux Cerfs. Here I stepped off the quay into a secluded cove only minutes away. A truly idyllic paradise. The whole stretch of beach to myself. Bliss!

Four Seasons Resort , lies on the east coast at Anahita

Recently the hotel introduced a new, signature eight-handed massage at its overwater Spa. Aptly named “Let it Go,” this marks the first eight-handed massage to be offered in Mauritius, and sees the Spa at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius becoming one of only a very few Spas in the world to offer such a synchronised, sensory treatment.

Available as both a 60 minute and a 90 minute option, Let it Go comprises the fluid and harmonious motions of four therapists to stimulate energy across the body to help achieve a total sense of rejuvenation.

“To be able to provide our guests with this new treatment is really a special accomplishment,” comments Spa Director Constance Chapalain. “It is something much more than a massage; it is an experience that promotes overall wellbeing and has been especially created for those who need to ‘let it go,’ but who struggle to find relaxation. The perfect synergies of this eight-handed massage are comparable to a dancer’s choreography; fluid, soothing and emotionally releasing.”

Originating from the ancient Ayurvedic philosophy, the eight-handed massage has been derived from the techniques of the four-handed massage and balances the body’s energies, while relaxing the mind. The 60 minute treatment is available for MUR 26,000 and the 90 minute treatment is available for MUR 36,000.

At my next hotel, Lux Le Morne , the rooms have a neutral décor. Lots of decking, wood and white with no need mercifully for any embellishment. The foyer is

LUX LE MORNE

cool and clean. Outside my rooms the gardeners play ‘hook and catch’ with coconuts using an averruncator (a long stick with shears for cutting high branches). Next to them there’s even a “Tree of Wishes” on which guests tag notes containing their personal dreams. And for parents there is the relief of islands in the middle of creatively shaped swimming pools from which to watch over their kids’ safety from all angles. Perfect for a young family.

 

I then was to experience my next hotel The Residence 

The Residence

The rooms have beautiful white shutters and outside there are gazebos for quiet contemplation. The few lights on the trees at night make the leaves flow like an orchestra as the palm trees flutter. A perfect environment for dining in the choice of two restaurants: The Plantation, the lovely airy outdoor hall of an original planter’s house by the beach which has a menu befitting a gourmet. And The Verandah which offers the right variety as a high-class buffet for those who typically stay more than a week.

All felt invigorating and new though actually The Residence Mauritius has been open now for eighteen years, it’s the English who are the main punters. 50% of them come back time and again. Two weeks is their typical stay. And now increasingly come the Chinese, typically for only five days and only ever the once. They prefer not to sunbathe or use the hotel’s activities. Instead they go shopping and pose furiously with their parasols and couture frocks to be photographed by their patient and adoring boyfriends. I wish I had had two weeks here.

 

So on to my final place to stay the Hideaways – Stargazer .

Membership of The Hideaways Club Classic Collection portfolio gives one access to properties all over the world. It’s perfect for someone who doesn’t want to be restricted to one location or have the hazzle of maintenance. As tennis player Tim Henman says, “With the Hideaways Club I have a wide variety of beautiful properties in stunning locations that I can use year round, plus the potential growth of my investment.”

 

The master bedroom is the only upstairs room (lording it over the other three more perfunctory bedrooms) and being the only distinguishing feature from the other Mauritian Hideaways property called Hibiscus. From the deep bath of its en suite bathroom, I saw the whole length of the southern coast with the waves crashing in from a distance. Stargazer was built in 2011 as part of Heritage Villas it gave me free access to the Golf Course, Hotels Awani and Telfair and to the C Beach Club (C for Coast and the “Place to C, the place to B” being the chant)!

All very spoiling on a very unspoilt island!

Adam had support from Priority Pass and Gatwick Express
Discover: Mauritius
 – The Holiday Place has a wide range of holidays to Mauritius from just £1299 per person. Immerse yourself in boutique luxury right next to the amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site of Morne Braban Peak, staying 7 nights at Lux Le Morne and sharing a Superior room. Includes flights, accommodation and breakfast.

To book call 020 7644 1770 or visit holidayplace.co.uk

Next week we are heading to the beautiful Island of Tobago (thats if our reporter comes home)

 

 

Castara Retreats, Tobago offers a selection of unique & meaningful wellness and yoga retreats on the beautiful unspoilt island of Tobago

Laidback, lush and unspoilt, the small island of Tobago is the most southerly of the Caribbean islands – just 7 miles from Venezuela. A nature lover’s paradise, Tobago is ranked the happiest nation in the Caribbean, boasting a lush rainforest backdrop and a beautiful coastline peppered with secluded beaches. Perched on the edge of a friendly fishing village, Castara Retreats is a rare find. A cluster of 15 luxurious self-catering wooden treehouse built harmoniously within the natural landscape each angled to absorb the sweeping views over the Bay, an excellent, buzzing restaurant and bar serving fresh Caribbean food, run by a warm and friendly team led by the charismatic Porridge and Jeanelle. An idyllic setting to escape the demands and hectic pace of everyday life, reconnect with nature and enjoy a restorative and rejuvenating holiday.

With a new dedicated yoga deck opening in June 2017, Castara Retreats are launching a number of dedicated wellness and Yoga holidays from April – Oct 2017 hosted by experienced practitioners in yoga, meditation, health and nutrition.

Wellness Retreats taking place at Castara in 2017:

22 – 29 April, Moving through the Layers

Yoga and Meditation Retreat with Trinidadian Troy Hadeed focusing on helping guests connect with mindfulness, their body and nature.

20 – 30 July, Flowing with the Elements:

Yoga Retreat with Davin Jones and Emese Fodor – combining daily yoga practise with a unique fusion of dance elements and traditional yoga asanas.

20 – 27 October Raw Love Awakening:

Raw Food Retreat with Gabriela Lerner – Guests will get the opportunity to enjoy delicious nutrient dense raw vegan cuisine, group coaching sessions, Kundalini yoga and meditation.

Guests are encouraged to unwind, relax the mind alongside strengthening the body during one Castara’s unique retreats. Complimenting the outstandingly beautiful natural environment guests will also be able to enjoy the healing benefits of massage, a healthy, delicious diet from Caribbean Kitchen and Bar with a plethora of fresh fish cooked daily , exciting activities on island – whether snorkelling on the local reef, trekking in the rainforest or visiting the local waterfall, alongside a healthy dose of Vitamin D. Incorporating the fundamentals of wellness – food, exercise, clarity of mind, spirituality – Castara Retreats is the perfect setting for a rejuvenating and meaningful wellness retreat.

A stay at Castara Retreats is from £85 per night (sleeps 2). For more information or to make a booking please visit https://www.castararetreats.com/wellness or call 44 (0)7841 645 238.

BA and Virgin fly to Tobago from London Gatwick.

GRAB A GREAT BARGAIN ON YOUR SUMMER ESCAPE

With the Summer school holidays just over two months away, many families are now actively scouting for great deals to take advantage of.

Book with Eurocamp and you could save up to 30% on your trip – without comprising on the quality of the experience.

The family holiday specialist has a wide selection of European parcs available at a discounted rate for holidays starting early July.


LA CROIX DU VIEUX PONT:
families will be amazed by the unique charms of the Aisne Valley region, with its gently flowing rivers and sleepy towns. The parc offers a stunning landscape, with its own beach lagoon surrounded by woodland. Children can enjoy four pools while parents take turns to relax in the resort’s spa and wellness centre. Among the many available activities are crazy golf, laser quest and fishing. TOP DEAL: Stay in a 2-bed Vista from £686 per week, per party arriving 8th July

 

DOMAINE DES NAIADES is a large wooded resort that lies just above Port Grimaud.
From this colourful harbour town you can sail to St Tropez and get a real flavour for the Côte d’Azur.
Back on parc you will find fantastic facilities, including an Olympic-sized pool.

Enjoy a wide range of sporting activities before settling in for some great evening entertainment. The parc has its own open-air cinema.
TOP DEAL: Stay in a 2-bed Classic from £619 per week, per party arriving 1st July

 

LA CHAPPELLE: close to the superb town of Collioure and in the foothills of the Pyrenees, this parc is a great alternative for those looking for a seaside holiday on a budget. Just 200 metres from unspoilt, sandy beaches and boasting its own sprawling pool complex, it will keep children and adults of all ages entertained.

TOP DEAL: Stay in a 2-bed Esprit from £936 per week, per party arriving 2nd July

 

LES ECUREUILS: there is something about miles of sand on your doorstep and this gem located in the striking Vendee region has plenty of it. Venture out for a family trip to La Route du Sel, where you can hire canoes to retrace the old salt routes. Or visit Vieux Château, the striking landmark of Ile d’Yeu, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the cliff tops.

TOP DEAL: Stay in a premium 3-bed Avant from £753 per week, per party arriving 1st July

 

CHATEAU DE GALINEE is an authentic, family-run parc close to the charming resort of St. Cast, offering a genuinely peaceful atmosphere. Get up close and personal with nature at the Grand Aquarium in St Malo (18m away) or visit Château Bourbansais (24m from parc), a beautiful 16th century castle now home to a large zoo where over 500 animal species wander around freely.

 

TOP DEAL: Stay in a 3-bed Esprit from £667 per week, per party arriving 4th July

 

Private detectives hired to sniff out holiday sickness claims touts

We all love a cheap holiday, and in Ireland there is one company who are making strenuous efforts to help Irish tourists get away on wonderful holidays. But there are some people who are doing their best to scam holiday companies and making false claims for sickness whilst on holiday.

These “low lifers” are making a mockery of the claim system and harming the holiday industry.

I’m delighted to say that the holiday companies are fighting back and recently I read on Travel mole, a Travel journalists resource, that Jet2holidays are now hiring private detectives in resorts to stop touts coaxing holidaymakers into making false sickness claims.

The move comes after a dramatic rise in the number of fraudulent claims being made by British holidaymakers abroad.
The trend has led to Spanish hoteliers threatening to scrap all-inclusive packages or to ban British holidaymakers altogether.

Spanish hoteliers told Travel Mole that fraudulent sickness claims from mainly British holidaymakers was costing them more than €60 million a year.

Jet2holidays said their private detectives will act on customer tip-offs and will report any activity to the tour operator and to local police.

According to hoteliers, touts and claims companies have been brazenly handing out leaflets in resort telling British holidaymakers they can cover the cost of their trip by just filling out a form and buying a packet of diarrhoea tablets while away.

The Foreign Office has already updated its travel advice to Spain to highlight the issue.

It warns holidaymakers that making a false or fraudulent claim could lead to legal proceedings in the UK or Spain.

“The net really is tightening on this dishonest and deceitful practice, and we will not relent until these touts stop trying to take advantage of British holidaymakers,” said Jet2holidays.

Even ABTA is calling on agents and operators to back their fight to stop a sharp rise in sickness claims by holidaymakers.

It wants members to share their own experiences and provide evidence of the problem, which they say has escalated in recent years.

ABTA believes the rise in claims coincided with changes in the law in 2012 which limits legal costs in other sectors, such as motor insurance, which has made cases like whiplash claims less profitable for claims companies.

Instead, these companies have turned their efforts to holiday sickness claims as a way of making money.

ABTA has raised its concerns with the Ministry of Justice and is speaking to authorities in Spain, where hoteliers have also identified a rise in claims and believe many of them are false, particularly where customers involved have not reported any illness or sought medical attention whilst in resort.

“We are now asking the Government to change the law that allows these firms to profit disproportionately from such claims,” said ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer.

“We have called on the Government to increase the Small Claims Track limit from £1,000 to £5,000. Later this month, we will also submit evidence to Lord Justice Jackson to call for overseas accidents to be processed under the same fixed costs regime that already applies to other personal injury claims with a value up to £25,000.”

ABTA is also developing an ADR scheme for personal injury to allow customers to process their complaints through the association. (Alternative Dispute Resoloution)

Tanzer said this is more cost effective for both the customer and the ABTA Member.

“The meetings we have had so far with the Ministry of Justice have been positive and they recognise this as an issue for the industry and the public. We will continue to work proactively with the policymakers and regulators, sharing intelligence and data to support the industry’s case for change.”

 

For more see travelmole.com

TAYTO PARK TO OPEN IRELAND’S FIRST FLUME RIDE IN JUNE

Tayto Park Viking Voyage.

CONSTRUCTION is well under way for a major new Viking-themed flume ride that will open in Tayto Park this June.

 

As well as being the first ride of its kind in Ireland, Viking Voyage at the Park will also feature a Viking village, five replica Viking ships and 20 life-size Vikings.

 

The flume ride is the latest addition to Ireland’s only theme park and zoo and will use up to 1.7million litres of water.

 

Over 10,000 tonnes of concrete and 500 tonnes of steel have gone into the construction of the ride so far, with staff learning about and using building methods from the Viking age to create a truly authentic experience.

 

The construction team have used Viking methods including wattle fencing, currachs and thatch, all of which were techniques used thousands of years ago.

 

Tayto Park has even liaised with Viking experts from Sweden and themed contractors who have worked in major worldwide theme parks and film sets including Disneyland and Game of Thrones to ensure all elements of the setting are accurate.

 

Tayto Park Viking Voyage. Construction is well under way for a major new Viking-themed flume ride that will open in Tayto Park this June.

Tayto Park founder Raymond Coyle said:  “We are very excited to unveil our new and exciting attraction The Viking Voyage at the Park in the coming months. We are dedicated to bringing cutting-edge attractions to Tayto Park and this particular ride is one of a kind.”

 

By the time the ride is complete, over 60,000 man hours will have been completed and will include the making of a man-made mountain which sits at 60ft above the ride.

 

Over 5,000 trees will be planted to recreate the Irish landscape from 1,000 years ago and Tayto Park is building one of only a couple of round towers to be constructed in Ireland in the last 900 years.

 

The Viking Voyage at the Park will open during June 2017. For more information on Tayto Park visit www.taytopark.ie.

 

Tickets for Tayto Park start from €15 per person with discounts available when booking online. To find out more go to www.taytopark.ie, call 01 835 1999 or follow on twitter @taytopark or Facebook.

 

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays spreads its wings at Belfast International

– EIGHT brand new destinations, including six exclusive routes

– 39% increase in capacity from Summer 17 means 30 new jobs created

– Larger aircraft added to fleet at Belfast International

Award winning flights and holidays driving huge growth at Belfast International

26 April 2017: Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has announced its biggest ever summer flights and holidays programme for Summer 18 from Belfast International Airport, with EIGHT BRAND NEW destinations and a Boeing 737-800 aircraft added to the fleet to support a phenomenal 39% increase in capacity.

The leading leisure airline and package holiday specialist will fly to 22 destinations in Summer 18, after adding eight brand new routes from Belfast International Airport. This growth means the creation of approximately 30 new jobs, mostly in flight deck and cabin crew positions.

Six of the routes will be exclusive to Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, including:

  • Antalya – one service every week to Turkey’s turquoise coast
  • Madeira – one service every week to this famous island, known for its green and rugged landscape
  • Crete – one service every week to Greece’s largest island, famed for its varied terrain, which ranges from fine-sand beaches to the White Mountains
  • Costa de Almeria – with two services every week, Costa de Almeria offers Blue Flag beaches and white washed villages. Customers can take their pick from the family friendly resort of Roquetas de Mar or the historic village of Mojacar for authentic Spanish charm
  • Naples – one service every week to one of Italy’s oldest, most artistic and most delicious cities, known for its culinary delights and access to the stunning Amalfi Coast
  • Paphos – one service every week to Paphos, famed for its archaeological sites relating to Aphrodite, including ruins of palaces, tombs and mosaic-tiled villas

 

In addition to these exclusive routes, there are two other new destinations to Malta and Rhodes for Summer 18, with a weekly flight operating to each destination.

This growth has resulted in the addition of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft at Belfast International, enabling Jet2.com and Jet2holidays to increase capacity and reach destinations such as Cyprus, Crete and Turkey. The aircraft, which seats 189 customers, means more Northern Ireland holidaymakers can escape to the sun direct from the airport with Jet2.com, which was last week named Best Airline – UK and Best Low-Cost Airline – Europe in the inaugural TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for airlines, and Jet2holidays which offers great value ATOL protected package breaks through a £60 per person deposit.

In total there will be over 400,000 seats available (over 110,000 more seats than Summer 17) for Summer 18, with more than 75,000 seats across the eight new destinations, meaning Northern Ireland holidaymakers are spoilt for choice when it comes to where and when they would like to get away.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: “This will be our biggest ever summer programme from Belfast International, with 8 brand new destinations, 400,000 seats and more hotels than ever before with our award-winning airline and package holiday operator. We have made a huge investment in Belfast, creating new jobs and putting in an additional aircraft to allow holidaymakers to fly to more destinations than ever in Summer 18. Such sustained growth is only possible by looking after customers, which shows that our continued investment into offering real package holidays and family friendly flights is working.”

Graham Keddie, Belfast International Airport managing director said, “Coming on the back of hosting the Routes Europe event in Belfast we are thrilled that Jet2.com and Jet2holidays are increasing their range of destinations at Belfast International Airport.   This 39% increase in capacity not only brings the total number of routes served by Jet2.com to 22 but will also mean a jobs boost for the local economy with the addition of a fourth based aircraft. Jet2.com and Jet2holidays are clearly responding to customer demand for services to popular holiday destinations at affordable prices.”

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has also extended its flying programme to other key destinations including Faro, Ibiza and Fuerteventura so customers can really maximise the summer at the start and the end of the season. Flights to Fuerteventura alone will be increasing by 63% in Summer 18 and with the destination boasting over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year it is the perfect place to jet off to escape the gloomy Northern Ireland weather.

For more information and to book please visit www.jet2holidays.com

 

 

Keep on Running With the Top Five Marathons in Asia

The Great Wall Marathon

Ahead of the London Marathon this weekend, Asia touring specialist Wendy Wu Tours has pulled together a list of marathons taking place around Asia that keen runners can take part in. For those who would like to travel without the running, Wendy Wu Tours has paired each marathon with an exciting, active ‘Discovery’ tour around Asia, visiting those same incredible locations.

The Great Wall Marathon, China (20 May 2017)

Celebrating its 18th year, this is recognised as the most challenging marathon in Asia. Nearly 3,000 runners attempt to conquer the Great Wall’s 5,164 steps, reaching elevations of over 500m from the start line. The route travels along both restored and more traditional sections of the wall, as well as going through local villages and the picturesque surrounding hills, making it one of most unique marathons in the world.

For those who prefer to explore the wall at a slightly gentler pace, travellers could experience sunset on the Simatai section of the wall and a six hour trek from Gubeikou to the Jinshanling section on Wendy Wu Tours’ 17-day ‘A China Adventure‘ from £3,190pp.

The Angkor Empire Marathon, Cambodia (6 August, 2017)

Taking place in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia, this picturesque marathon takes in several UNESCO Heritage Sites, including Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm and Pre Rup. The race begins and ends in front of the majestic Angkor Wat, with the race beginning at 4.30am so that participants can experience the famous sunrise and avoid the heat of the day.

Another way to see the Angkor Wat complex is from the back of a traditional tuk tuk, which travellers can experience on Wendy Wu Tours’ 21-day ‘Vietnam & Cambodia Discovery’ tour from £3,190pp.

The Bagan Temple Marathon, Burma (25 November 2017)

This marathon takes place in the ancient city of Bagan in Burma, which is home to over 2,000 magnificent stupas, temples and crumbling pagodas, making it one of the most picturesque running events in the world. The marathon starts at the ancient Htilominlo Temple, which was constructed in 1211 AD, passing by various temples and traditional villages along the way with the locals creating a vibrant atmosphere to keep the runners’ spirits high.

The beauty of the Htilominlo Pagoda can be admired on Wendy Wu Tours’ 17-day ‘Hidden Treasures of Burma‘ tour from £3,690pp, which spends three nights in Bagan.

The Halong Bay Heritage Marathon, Vietnam (25 November 2017)

One of the newest marathons in Asia, this race takes place along the coastal route of Vietnam’s most famous site, Halong Bay. The route is a haven of natural beauty, taking runners through fishing villages and along the shoreline, before heading over Bai Chay Bridge, the longest single span bridge in Southeast Asia.

Travellers can also take in the natural beauty of Halong Bay with Wendy Wu Tours, spending two days and one night on a cruise of the area on the 17-day ‘Reflections of Vietnam’ trip from £2,790pp. Guests could alternatively spend three days on a deluxe boat on the luxurious 18-day ‘Classical Vietnam’ tour from £4,290pp.

The Tokyo Marathon, Japan (25 February 2018 – TBC)

Once runners have ticked off the London and New York marathons, Tokyo is often next on the list. Around 10,000 runners take to Tokyo’s streets, running through some of the city’s most famous areas including Shinjuku, Asakusa and Ginza. The flatter route allows runners to take in the blend of old and new architecture, from awe-inspiring skyscrapers to Buddhist temples.

Travellers can experience the fascinating fusion of past and present in Tokyo on Wendy Wu Tours’ 13-day ‘Trails of Japan‘ tour from £4,890pp, which includes visits to a traditional sumo wrestling match, the one-of-a-kind Robot Restaurant and a Japanese drumming Taiko class.

For more information or to book, please visit www.wendywutours.co.uk/blog/china/top-5-asia-marathons/  or call 0800 902 0888.

CARAVAN NUMBERS SOAR BUT BELFAST HAS NO PROVISION FOR THIS TYPE OF TOURIST

 

Dungannon Park


According to a recent report the number of caravans and motorhomes is set to soar by more than 50,000 in the next five years. And that will mean a staggering 807,000 of them to generate local spending and visit attractions, but in Belfast there is nowhere to park your motorhome or Caravan.

Londonderry or Legenderry has recently granted permission fro a new Motorhome and Caravan park, Dungannon has one, Larne has one, even Dundonald has one but there is nothing in Belfast City.

There is little doubt the homegrown holidays are becoming far more popular in the UK, thanks to global terrorism and its clear that many UK citizens choose to stay at home for their holidays. Stena line provides amazing prices for Caravan Club members to travel across the Irish Sea, but when they get to Belfast where do they go?

Well out of Belfast is the answer, as there is simply no provision for the Caravan or Motorhome in Belfast. The closest two parks to Belfast are provided by Antrim and Newtownabbey Council and Lisburn and Castlereagh council, yet most of the visitors travel into Belfast.

As a regular Caravaner I have used both parks and only last Saturday I drove a German family into Belfast from Jordanstown Loughshore Park Caravan site to show them the sites of Belfast and take them to the wonderful Titanic experience.

They had planned to visit the north Coast that day and only due to my intervention and advice did I persuade them to visit Belfast. So come on Belfast City Council provide a motorhome / caravan park and generate some home grown investment in this wonderful city.

Belfastdaily.co.uk’s travel editor, Tim Hedgley has visited most of the Caravan Parks in Northern Ireland over the last year and he is well aware of the provision that is on offer to the traveling caravan/ motorhome community.

Tim explained:

Amazing Rushin House Belcoo

Without doubt the best Caravan Park in Northern Ireland is Rushin house in Belcoo, (www.rushinhousecaravanpark.com) Brenda and Cahal run this caravan park with the visitor in mind. Its spotless facilities and superb location give it the ability to win countless awards from the Caravan community from around the UK. To be listed in the top 100 sites for Practical Caravaner magazine and Practical motorhome magazine is no mean feat and it is their attention to detail and their award winning service that makes them consistent winners of awards each year.

Second in my list of great NI sites is Ballyness Caravan Park, Bushmills. (www.ballynesscaravanpark.com)

Ballyness is blessed with spotless pitches a great facilities block and superb facilities. It boasts fifty touring pitches, which are laid out in three landscaped areas.  The lower circle is overlooking or close to the ponds and the upper circles are nearer to the play park.  Each touring pitch has hard standing with individual electric, water and drainage hook-ups and is large enough to park a car beside the caravan.  Dogs are very welcome. It has an excellent shop and wonderful advice from the owners. Make no mistake, if you are going to visit the North Coast it has to be Ballyness.

Best Council Site

Best council provided site has to go to Dungannon Park (www.midulstercouncil.org)
Midulster Council recently upgraded their toilet and shower facilities to what can only be described as five star. They are simply fantastic.

Trust me you would not get better in a five star hotel.

If you have a lakeside view pitch, you are in for a real treat.
Now having married a Dungannon girl, I know Dungannon is not the first place to come to mind when touring but this is a great place to stop. Not least because Cookstown caravans are not too far away.

Six Mile Water Site Antrim

Second place goes to Sixmilewater Caravan Park. (www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk)
Antrim and Newtownabbey Council have invested heavily in Caravan and Motorhome parks and they deserve great credit for their foresight in this emerging tourism area. Antrim is a firm favourite with Caravaner’s and on many weekends you will find they are booked up. May brings the Mayflies, but don’t be put off it’s a great site and there are lots of activities in Antrim which is only a short walk away.
Toilet block needs updating but its still good.

A close third is Jordanstown Lough Shore Park at Whiteabbey. (www.antrimandnewtownabbey.gov.uk) This is the baby of Caravan sites in Northern Ireland and its proximity to Belfast makes it a firm favourite with the tourists. Great toilet facilities and recently extended free Wi-Fi makes this a great site. With a bus stop just outside the site and a wonderful coffee shop, which is open 7 days a week makes this a “great place to visit”

 

 

 

 

TAYTO PARK ATTENDANCE FIGURES GO NORTH… Ireland’s only theme park and zoo celebrates new season with rise in visitors from NI 

PARK LIFE: Amelia Bell (10) and brother Isaac (7) from Belfast are looking forward to Tayto Park’s new 2017 season which kicks off on Friday April 7 2017

TAYTO PARK, Ireland’s only theme park and zoo, has launched its new 2017 season with the news that a whopping 25 per cent of visitors to the County Meath park now travel from Northern Ireland.

 

As one of the most popular attractions on the island of Ireland, Tayto Park visitor numbers have risen year on year from 330,000 in 2011 to 762,351 in 2016, which means that almost 200,000 thrill seekers from Northern Ireland visited the park last year.

 

Now Tayto Park is gearing up for its biggest season yet as it opens its gates again on Friday April 7, with the promise of exciting new rides and attractions.

 

Speaking at an event in Belfast, Tayto Park founder Raymond Coyle said:  “Since we first opened our doors in November 2010, the Northern Ireland market has become increasingly important to us with almost 200,000 visitors travelling from the north last year alone.

 

Last year was a record year for Tayto Park which is very encouraging as we get ready to open our gates to the public once again next Friday (April 7).  We are confident that this season will be our biggest and best yet and have invested heavily in new rides and attractions that we’re sure will be a big hit with customers from across Ireland.”

 

Mr Coyle said that the company was investing €9 million (approx. £7.7 million) in the park this year, with a further €17 million (approx. £14.7 million) already ear-marked for 2018.

 

New attractions for 2016 will include the Viking Voyage at the Park water flume ride and the World of Raptors birds of prey demonstration, which will both open in the summer.  These will complement a host of existing favourites including the gravity-defying Rotator, the Power Surge and The Cú Chulainn Coaster, Ireland’s first rollercoaster and Europe’s First wooden rollercoaster with an inversion.

Tayto Park Zoo hosts an exceptional and diverse animal collection, while Dinosaurs Alive, Ireland’s only life-size animatronic dinosaur exhibition, features the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus.

 

With easy access from Northern Ireland and free parking for cars and buses, Tayto Park offers a great day out for families, couples, schools, birthday parties, corporate events, etc,” continued Mr Coyle. 

 

There really is something for everyone and visitors to the park can expect to have a jam-packed day of fun during which they can try out the numerous theme park rides before taking in the animals at the zoo which include a mountain lion, fossa and a range of birds of prey, just to name a few!”

 

TAYTO PARK CELEBRATES RISE IN VISITORS FROM NI: Amelia and Isaac Bell from Belfast get ready to embark on a fun filled journey to Ireland’s only theme park and zoo. Tayto Park launched its new 2017 season today with the news that a whopping 25 per cent of visitors to the County Meath park now travel from Northern Ireland. As one of the most popular attractions on the island of Ireland, Tayto Park visitor numbers have risen year on year from 330,000 in 2011 to 762,351 in 2016, which means that almost 200,000 thrill seekers from Northern Ireland visited the park last year. Now Tayto Park is gearing up for its biggest season yet as it opens its gates again on Friday April 7, with the promise of exciting new rides and attractions. Tickets for Tayto Park start from €15 per person with discounts available when booking online. To find out more go to www.taytopark.ie, call 01 835 1999 or follow on twitter @taytopark or Facebook.

Tayto Park caters to a wide range of sectors including primary and secondary schools who can avail of various tours all of which include admission to the park, unlimited access to all attractions and educational aspects ranging from business to ecology and conservation.

 

Tickets for Tayto Park start from €15 per person with discounts available when booking online. To find out more go to www.taytopark.ie, call 01 835 1999 or follow on twitter @taytopark or Facebook.

 

Key attractions at Tayto Park include:

  • The Cú Chulainn Coaster… Ireland’s first rollercoaster and Europe’s First wooden rollercoaster with an inversion
  • Extreme Climbing Wall… challenge yourself on one of the many routes to the top of this extreme 21 metre climbing wall
  • The Rotator… hold tight and defy gravity when you get strapped into this awe-inspiring ride which soars 31 metres high and revolves 360°… are you brave enough?
  • The Power Surge… get ready to be tossed and turned at great heights on this thrill ride which spins you on both a horizontal and vertical axis
  • 5D Cinema… sit back and immerse yourself in this one-of-a kind virtual experience where you are part of the action, featuring air gusts, water jets, leg ticklers, flashing lights and bubbles
  • Endeavour… with speeds as fast as 60km and reaching a height of 68 feet, this ride is perfect for adrenaline junkies
  • Sky Walk… conquer many obstacles that will test your fear of heights and the unknown
  • Air Race… inviting pilots to soar, twist and spin on this amazing stomach-churning aerial adventure… not for the faint hearted
  • Tayto Park Zoo… an exceptional and diverse animal collection which includes the largest of the big cats, the Amur tiger, the illusive and stunning Ocelot, a growing primate collection which includes Squirrel monkey, Red-bellied tamarins and the Geoldi’s monkey, a selection of beautiful and colourful birds from around the globe… and the marvellous meerkats
  • Dinosaurs Alive… this awe-inspiring, life-size animatronic dinosaur spectacular is guaranteed to delight visitors of all ages, featuring the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus and more
  • Steam Train Express… sit back and relax on this traditional style steam train for a journey with views and attractions of the Park
  • Shot Tower… be prepared to get strapped in and watch the ground get smaller until you reach the top and feel the exhilaration as you shoot down to the ground
  • A host of eateries including The Lodge Restaurant, Pizza Place, Argentinian Grill, The Sweet Station and many more.  A gift shop is also available where visitors can pick up a fun memento to celebrate their time at the park.

Clarke and McDowell ready to mount Major challenge in Portstewart

Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell will add their Major clout to the Northern Irish contingent at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation when they join defending champion and tournament host Rory McIlroy at Portstewart Golf Club from July 6-9.

 

ORLANDO, FL – MARCH 16: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 14th tee during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented By MasterCard on March 16, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Both players will bring significant local knowledge to the historic tournament, which will be the third event of the European Tour’s new Rolex Series – a premium category of events each with a minimum prize fund of $7million.

 

The 2010 US Open Champion McDowell grew up in nearby Portrush while Clarke, the 2011 Open Champion, now lives there.

 

Clarke and McDowell, along with fellow Major Champions Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy and former Irish Open Champion Shane Lowry, will be hoping to continue what has been the most successful period of home dominance in the history of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

STRAFFAN, IRELAND – MAY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

 

With Harrington having lifted the trophy in a famous 2007 campaign, Lowry triumphing as an amateur in 2009 and McIlroy delighting the crowds with victory last year, Clarke and McDowell are the only players among that quintet yet to experience glory at their home open.

 

Tickets to watch these home-grown superstars take on some of the game’s most celebrated international superstars can be purchased at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com.

 

McDowell said: “The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open is always a special week for me but this year it will be even more so, returning once again to the area where I grew up.

 

“Portstewart is a fantastic golf course and it’s great to be going back to another classic links. The atmosphere is always something else when the Irish Open comes to Northern Ireland and I’m sure this year will be no different.

 

“Winning the Irish Open has always been something I’ve dreamed of doing and my game is shaping up nicely at the start of this year so hopefully I can put in a strong performance in front of the home fans.”

 

Clarke, who captained the 2016 European Ryder Cup team, said: “I am always so proud when the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open comes to Northern Ireland and especially to an area which is so close to my heart.

 

“Portstewart is a spectacular links golf course and with this year’s event being a part of the Rolex Series, with a new date on the calendar and boasting an increased prize fund, I’m sure we’ll attract another great field.

 

“I believe the Northern Irish fans are some of the best in the world and it’s always a special atmosphere that they create, so I cannot wait for July to come around and hopefully I can bring some good form into the week.”

 

Tickets for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at www.dubaidutyfreeirishopen.com, and begin at £20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing £40 and day tickets for the weekend costing £45.

 

An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers five days of world class golf from Wednesday to Sunday, costs just £100 (a saving of £90 over the course of the five days).

 

Concessions are available for customers aged over 60 and between 16 and 21, while children under 16 are permitted free entry when accompanied by a ticket holding adult.

 

To get a full seated view of all of the drama at the 18th green, grandstand tickets cost an additional £11.50 for Thursday and Friday, £16.50 for Saturday and £21.50 for Sunday.

 

Official Hospitality packages are also available on the ticketing page, or alternatively contact the European Tour’s dedicated Hospitality Sales Team, who will be happy to answer any queries and discuss the various hospitality options, on enquiries@europeantourhospitality.com or +44 (0) 1344 840681.