What’s hot: February 2018

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Just About Travel tells you what’s hot – and what’s not – in the travel world, right now…


Retro destinations


Retro destinations like Costa Brava, Malta and Madeira are making a comeback according to Thomas Cook. The firm is selling breaks to Costa Brava and the Portuguese island of Madeira – the birthplace of Real Madrid star, Christian Ronaldo, after a three year absence. Meanwhile Malta is also making a resurgence. “These retro destinations will challenge holidaymakers’ misconceptions in 2018,” said Thomas Cook boss, Chris Motterhead.

Making a beeline for Barbados



The Caribbean island of Barbados is now more accessible than ever thanks to the launch of a new direct route from London Heathrow to Barbados with Virgin Atlantic Airlines. The new flight offers travellers looking to beat the winter blues,  a twice-weekly direct service on Tuesdays and Sundays until April 2018.
UK Director of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) Cheryl Carter said: We are thrilled to have a new direct flight route from London Heathrow to accommodate the increase in tourist arrivals to the island. With a full annual calendar of diverse events and activities taking place on the island, it is our hope that this new route will also encourage new visitors to visit and experience first-hand, what Barbados has to offer.”
Tempted? Check out our guide to Barbados here


Seeking out Sri Lanka

If any country offers a better all-round travel experience than Sri Lanka, then it’s hiding its light under a very sizeable bushel. Beach lovers can pick from a host of picture-postcard spots on the Indian Ocean coast. If culture’s your thing, you’ll be falling over UNESCO-listed historical sites, from mound-like Buddhist stupas dating back thousands of years, to royal capitals, cave temples and colonial fortresses.
Time your visit with a Buddhist celebration, such as Vesak, and join festival crowds thronging streets decorated with lanterns. Little wonder then that National Geographic Traveller (UK) has placed the country top of its Cool List 2018. Tbilisi,Buenos Aires, Namibia,Greece, Portugal, Rwanda, Nashville, Singapore and Flanders also made the top 10.

Fly now, pay later

Yes you read right… new flight booking platform, Flymble, allows instant booking without the stress of having to have a lump sum of cash before you fly. That’s because Flymble believes access to travel should be no different than paying off your mobile phone, a new sofa or catalogue shopping. With a small percentage payable up front, travellers then have the opportunity to choose to spread the cost of flights across three, six and up to 10 month instalments.
Says Henry Wynaendts, co-founder of Flymble: “Our mission is to make the joy of travelling accessible for all by re-inventing travel finance for everyone that is frustrated with, or doesn’t have access to, the traditional unfriendly and outdated banking system.”
Vincent Hus, co-founder of Flymble, adds: “We live in an instant society where everything is quicker and faster and we don’t see why the approach to booking travel should be any different. Flymble is at the heart of the emerging on-demand industry and we believe in a more transparent form of financing which offers ordinary people the opportunity to explore the world.”
Find out more at www.flymble.com

Roll-up, roll-up, it’s the 250
th anniversary of the modern circus

The Staffordshire Horde

2018 marks 250 years of the modern circus, with performances, exhibitions and activities set to take place throughout the UK to commemorate the anniversary – from Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire, to the V&A Museum in London. And it’s all down to Philip Astley, who was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1742. Astley, the son of a Staffordshire cabinetmaker, grew up to become a master equestrian, entrepreneur, war hero, pioneer and showman. In 1768, having acquired “Ha’Penny Hatch” – a small piece of land on the south bank of the Thames between London Bridge and Westminster Bridge – he opened a riding school, creating performances and then developing the 42-foot diameter circus ring.  This remains the standard-size ring used in circus across the world to this day. Bringing together acrobats, clowns and trick riders, for over 40 years, Philip Astley entertained both high society and the general public with a series of acts that combined risky and tense displays of skill with comic relief. Astley himself was at the heart of these performances.

Saying hello to Seattle

Seattle seen from the Space Needle at dusk

Seattle’s iconic Space Needle is used to dizzying heights of fame having featured in films such as Sleepless in Seattle (1993) and The Parallax View (1974) but those heights are about to get a little more dizzy. As of summer 2018, visitors to the Space Needle’s rotating SkyCity restaurant will be able to look below as well as around, owing to the installation of a thick glass floor. Furthermore, there’ll be a new glass walled observation deck above. See you in Seattle?


Northern Peru and the pre-Incan fortress of Kuelap

JAT has a hunch that Northern Peru is set to explode in 2018. Visiting the country is already that much easier thanks to BA’s direct flight to Lima which launched last year. Now, a new direct flight within Peru’s borders links Cuzco in the south to the northern city of Trujilo – reducing the travel time for those who are keen to see the country’s key spots within one trip.
Our top tips for 2018 include Kuelap – the pre-Incan fortress with monumental aspects that are rivalled in size and grandeur only by Machu Picchu and until now attracted 95 per cent domestic visitors. Made up of hundreds of round stone houses, formed from millions of cubic feet of stone, Kuelap wasn’t re-discovered until 1843. The impressive structure, which is estimated to have taken over 200 years to complete, is now easily accessible by a recently completed cable car meaning the site will soon be on the radar of international visitors.


Making for Mil
Staying in Peru, one must to do is to eat a meal at Mil – a 60 seater restaurant that’s situated in the Sacred Valley, 3,500m above sea level and is due to open its doors later this month. A 45 minute winding drive from Cusco, Mil has been 10 years in the making and is a hands on experience. “You can stay all day meditating or harvesting potatoes, depending on how curious you are. […] Mil isn’t a restaurant, it’s a laboratory that looks at Peruvian culture, produce and identity,” says star Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez. A seven course meal at Mil will set you back around £100.


Flying to Phu Quoc

Virtually unknown by outsiders a decade ago, the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc (pronounced “foo kwok”) with its undiscovered soft sand beaches and swaying palms is emerging as a must visit tourist destination. Don’t believe us? The first direct flights from London to Phu Quoc via TUI launched in late 2017, while World Travel Awards – aka the Oscars of the travel industry – chose this untapped paradise to host its Grand Final Gala Ceremony 2017. The event took place at the instagram-worthy JW Marriott Phu Quoc: the  brainchild of renowned hotel architect and interior designer Bill Bensley, this whimsical resort is built entirely around a fictional history inspired by French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.


Celebrating Janis Joplin in San Francisco

San Francisco’s celebrated Golden Gate Bridge

Last month marked 75 years since the birth of Janis Joplin and, although she died almost 50 years ago, her spirit lives on in San Francisco where the singer spent her formative years.
Swing by 122 Lyon Street – the apartment where Joplin first stayed when she moved to the city – before making a beeline for 635 Ashbury Streer where she lived with lover Peggy Caserta and 1090 Page Street, where she loved to perform.

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