What’s hot: March 2017

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Just About Travel tells you what’s hot in the travel world right now

Heading to Hull

Hull maina

Picture by Les Gibbon©Hull News & Pictures

We kid you not… Hull has been hailed the UK’s City of Culture for 2017 all of which means that the city that former university librarian Philip Larkin once described as “a little on the edge of things” will find itself firmly at the centre of things. Hull – the birthplace of greats like Maureen Lipman, Dean Windass, William Wiberforce and Amy Johnson – was chosen, according to TV producer Phil Redmond who was part of the judging panel, because it put forward “the most compelling case based on its theme as a ‘city coming out of the shadows.’
The aforementioned theme is divided into four seasons over the year (Made in Hull, Roots & Routes, Freedom and Tell the World) and highlights will include spectacular light shows, opera on the Humber Bridge, world theatre premieres and the Turner Prize hosted at the refurbished Ferens Art Gallery.

Sky high

London looks set to welcome another bizarrely named skyscraper in 2017. Say hello to the Scalpel, which will be situated between the Gherkin and the Walkie Talkie and opposite the Cheesegrater. Designed by US architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associate, around a quarter of the 190m building will, upon completion, be occupied by the European headquarters of US insurers WR Berkley.
Meanwhile in Beijing, the Imperial City’s tallest building – take a bow the Z15 Tower – will be completed in 2017, taking its place on the list of the world’s 10 tallest buildings. Elsewhere Beijing’s port city neighbour, Tianjin, has designed a new library with a giant, eye-shaped atrium while the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen is set to open a new HQ inspired by the human body…

Hospitals repurposed as high end accommodation

Most of us go out of our way to avoid staying in a hospital but Piero Lissoni’s latest project is no ordinary hospital. The Italian architect and designer has transformed an old hospital into the Ritz Carlton Residences Miami Beach: expect a modernist mid-rise, lakeside condo which will be completed later this year. “Given its previous life as a hospital, I took a wide-ranging approach to the interiors and arrangements of the space,” said Lissoni of his unusual condo project.

Staying connected

tal fins of British Airways planes

The big story concerning British Airways right now is, without a shadow of a doubt, the imminent launch of onboard WiFi on both long and short haul flights. Speaking of which, BA is launching routes to long haul destinations such as Santiago, Fort Lauderdale and Oakland in California in the first half of 2017. Closer to home, the British national carrier will be launching routes from London Heathrow to Murcia, Montpellier, Pula, Tallinn, Zakynthos and Brindisi, in addition to flights from London Gatwick to Limoges. For the full low-down, log onto www.ba.com


Image: www.packraft.org

Loved by TV explorers Will Millard and Alastair Humphreys, pack rafting is fast becoming the 2017 adventurer’s transport of choice. Pack rafting – for those who aren’t au fait with the term – basically involves bobbing along rivers in small featherweight rafts that deflate to fit inside packs. Fancy giving Packrafting a go? You’re in luck: SecretCompass are organising a 17 day expedition to Gabon (departing 3 June 2017), giving guests the chance to packraft and trek around the wildlife-crammed Ivindo National Park. For the full low-down, see www.secretcompass.com

Reading while on holiday

Half of Britons only read books on holiday according to a new study. The team behind www.sunshine.co.uk carried out the research as part of an ongoing study into holiday habits, this time with a particular focus on reading while on vacation. 1,476 people aged 18 and over from around the UK who had each been on holiday abroad in the last 12 months took part in the research.
When asked, “Did you read any books on your last holiday abroad?” 59% of the respondents said ‘yes’. What’s more, 49% of the total respondents said that they only ever read books when they were on holiday and not when they were back home in the UK. When these people were asked why reading books was exclusively a holiday-only activity, 88% admitted that they just didn’t have the time to read in everyday life.


Some say to never mix business with leisure, but when it comes to the travel industry, “bleisure” trips are becoming all the rage. The term is increasingly being deployed to describe travellers who are rejecting the notion of all work and no play and instead adding in some valuable vacation time to their business trips. In fact, a survey – by Bridge Street Global Hospitality – of international travellers shows that 60% of respondents have participated in ‘bleisure’, often adding two or more vacation days to end their business trips. JAT says: next time you are finding your business trip hard to bear, don’t be afraid to throw a little leisure into the mix and enjoy some time for yourself.

The new all-inclusive

All inclusive holidays

As a result of the poor, post-Brexit pound, all-inclusive deals are very much in vogue: it’s reassuring to know that everything is included and not to have to be constantly putting your hand in your pocket. But if you can’t stand the thought of wearing coloured wristbands in a mega resort, put the panic on hold as all-inclusive resorts are sharpening up their act. Case in point? Chile’s Singular Patagonia (www.thesingular.com/patagonia/puertonatales) offers beautiful design while Robinson (www.thomson.co.uk/holidays/robinson-club) is Thomson’s trendy new active-wellness brand.

Man made waves

Having been announced as a sport for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, the sport of kings (the moniker derives from the fact the Hawaiian kings made surfing their official sport) is most definitely having a moment. Subsequently the race to create ocean quality artificial waves is gathering pace, with  Tom Lochtefeld leading the charge. The Californian who has plans in the pipeline to create surf parks in Lisbon, Las Vegas, Rotterdam and, erm, Bristol, has travelled to Tokyo to meet prospective developers and says: “Fingers crossed we’ll be making the Olympic wave.”

Suite dreams in La la land

Tinseltown is famed for its bright lights, super sized shopping malls, brilliant beaches, fabulous theme parks (Disneyland, Universal Studios), museums, trendy bars, live music venues and fine restaurants – if not its hotels. But fast forward to 2017 and it’s all change: Dream Hollywood – a 10 story, central Hollywood hotel – featuring a 12,000 square foot rooftop pool, five restaurants, pop-up stores and art shows. Kimpton and Thompson Hotels are also planning to open in Hollywood later this year, helping make Hollywood a must-stay, as well a must-see, destination. www.dreamhotels.com

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