What’s hot: May 2014

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Just About Travel reveals what’s hot and what’s not in the travel world right now


Make for Mee
MEE at Belmond Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro has become one of the first restaurants in South America to be awarded a prestigious Michelin star.The 92-seat pan-Asian restaurant is listed in the first edition of the Michelin Guide Rio de Janeiro & São Paolo – the first edition of the Michelin Guide to cover South America. Led by celebrated BBC TV chef Ken Hom, MEE opened in February 2014 at the iconic Copacabana Palace – something of a local landmark. MEE’s chefs perfected their Asian culinary techniques in Bangkok, under the watchful eye of Ken Hom, prior to the opening. “I am extremely proud that MEE has received this coveted recognition. The team and I are passionate about bringing luxury pan-Asian cuisine to Rio de Janeiro and will continue to develop the restaurant’s innovative menu,” says Ken.

Let’s go fly our rights!
According to recent statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), flight punctuality in the UK dropped to 71 per cent last summer, down from 79 per cent in summer 2013. To help travellers plan ahead and to understand their rights if problems arise, Airport Parking and Hotels has created a comprehensive guide highlighting airline policies for delayed or cancelled flights. The research compares 25 major airlines, including British Airways, EasyJet, Iberia and Virgin Atlantic, highlighting the policies relating to cancelled flights, delayed flights, refund procedures and any legal stipulations and is available in the Know Before You Go section of the website (www.aph.com/flightdelays.com). 

School’s out

Is this in term time?

Is this in term time?

Turns out that two in three parents would take their kids on holiday during school term-time. Researchers who polled 2,000 parents found that strict rules set by schools – including fines for parents of children who take time off – haven’t discouraged them from booking a holiday outside of the summer break. Over 35 per cent said the surge in holiday prices during the peak months of July and August means they simply can’t afford to take a break at any other time, while almost half of parents said taking a week off school wouldn’t affect their child’s learning. The research by online travel-agent, Holiday Hypermarket, also found three in four parents said the rules surrounding term-time holidays are too strict, with many describing the fines as “a step too far”. In fact, only 16 per cent said the new rules have discouraged them from taking their kids on a term-time break. The average parent confessed they would allow their kids to miss four days off school for a trip abroad – almost a full school week. The trip would most likely to be a beach break, a cultural city trip or a visit to relatives who live out of the country, the results showed, and be an average of four hours’ flight away.


Online travel dating on the up among the fab forties
The number of people in their forties signing up to try their hand at travel dating has increased four-fold in the past six months, according to travel dating website and app tourbar.com. The rising figure, from 4,000 to 16,192, proves that the social media trend and the rising popularity of travelling alone isn’t just for younger travellers. According to TourBar, a social media network and mobile app that aims to match solo travellers with a travel companion, those aged 45-50 now account for 17.6 per cent of TourBar’s 98,000 worldwide members. In the UK, members aged 45-50 represent 10.3 per cent of those who have signed up to try their hand at travel dating in the past year. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) claims that 13 per cent* of all travel is now done solo, with hotel provider Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) seeing growth in the number of single-occupancy rooms booked between 2011 and 2012, rise from 4,115 to 5,841.

Spending the summer in Slovenia

Drava River Maribor

Drava River Maribor

Slovenia’s football capital, Maribor is home to famous festivals, the world’s oldest grape vine and soon… a new flight route.  From 1 June until October 2015, London Southend Airport will be scheduling three flights a week to Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city that’s situated in the northeast of Slovenia. The city – which was the European Capital of Culture in 2012 – is just 11km from the Austrian border and renowned for its Lent International Summer Festival. This major arts festival takes place annually for two weeks at the end of June, attracting theatre, opera, ballet and jazz musicians from all over the world, as well as thousands of international visitors. Meanwhile in September, the Old Vine Festival marks the beginning of the harvest of the oldest vine: feasts and celebrations take place throughout the streets of Maribor as the town comes alive with music and entertainment. Maribor is also only 30 minutes drive away from the oldest town in Slovenia, Ptuj, which sits beneath a magnificent castle while the capital, Ljubljana, is only an hour and a half drive and a trip to the gorgeous coastline takes approximately 2.5 hours. Bottom line? We’ll see you in Slovenia!

Home exchange surge sits London
Londoners are showing interest in the global collaborative home swap movement, with a 30 per cent growth in London listings over the last six months, according to new research from HomeExchange.com. The surge suggests that Londoners are open-minded, willing to share their homes with like-minded travellers from around the world and that they want to enjoy the benefits of this increasingly mainstream way of travel:  free accommodation for a whole year for the price of just one night in a budget hotel, a memorable, authentic vacation experience that doesn’t break the bank and the opportunity to meet people who share a similar level of education, background, lifestyle and interests, to name but a few. Some of the most popular London listings searched by all visitors to HomeExchange.com between January and February 2015 include homes in Belsize Park, Islington, Clapham Junction and Kensal Rise.

Worrying about weight gain
Holidays are traditionally about letting go and enjoying a break away from the rigours of everyday life, including dieting and calorie counting. However, recent research carried out by Holiday Extras reveals that over a quarter of Brits (26 per cent) continue to diet while they are away. Women are the most disciplined, with 29 per cent claiming that they stick to a calorie counting regime while on holiday, compared to 23 per cent of men who rigidly stick to a diet wherever they are. The research also contradicted stag and hen dos’ reputations for excess, as only 12 per cent claimed to go over the top with food and drink while enjoying a city break. Sobriety also appears to be the order of the day for today’s business travellers – with only four per cent admitting to over indulgence while travelling for work, they are the least likely candidates to overeat or drink.

Best book: The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
When archetypal Londoner and journalist Helen Russell – caught between frantic work schedules, takeaway means and life in the big city – is suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, she discovers a startling statistic. The happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark. From childcare, education, food and interior design to SAD, taxes, lego and sexism, The Year of Living Dangerously (£12.99, Icon Books) is a funny, poignant record of a journey to discover the secrets of the happiest country on earth.


Sex on the beach
hol romance
Forget sunscreen, we just want a tv screen… yes you read right: holiday romance is no longer on the top of the agenda for Brits as less than half (46 per cent) admit to choosing sex as their favourite hotel bedroom pastime. The survey by Hotels.com reveals more than two thirds of us (67%)  choose to watch TV in bed, followed by reading (47 per cent) before opting for sex. However while frolicking in the sheets may not be our top choice, it still beat surfing the internet  (40 per cent) and ordering numerous items from the room service menu, which only a fifth of Brits (20 per cent) chose as their top activity in bed. The global study of over 25,000 also revealed that many travellers choose to ditch their pyjamas when staying in a hotel with more than a third (39%) admitting to sleeping completely nude.

Waiting in line at airports
queues at Heathrow
Jetting off on the annual holiday isn’t quite as glamorous as it once was – almost half (43 per cent) of British holidaymakers say that the long queues at airports make them feel like cattle, and 58 per cent wish that UK airports would use faster, more automated processes. The research, conducted by Holiday Extras, revealed that over a third (35 per cent) of holiday travellers polled claimed that they find waiting in security queues stressful, and given the chance, 50 per cent would head straight to the restaurants, bars or shops to relax. It appears that some simple changes would help to reduce stress levels at British airports. When asked what would improve their airport experience, the top response (27 per cent) was unlimited free Wi-Fi. Free is key, as Brits just aren’t prepared to pay for Wi-Fi anymore: just two per cent claim that they would be happy to be charged for internet access at the airport. Nearly one in 10 (eight per cent) opted for some fresh air “park” benches, and nine per cent said child-free zones would give them welcome respite.

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