Just Across the Border to Quebec

30 06 2011

TheTravelEditor.com welcomes back guest blogger Maggie from Freewheeling Adventures, a cool active holiday company based in Nova Scotia.

When pondering travel in Quebec we often think about the rural countryside and isolated inlets of the Gaspésie peninsula or the vibrant multicultural atmosphere of Montreal. Both of these extremes, modest and modern, co-exist in this French speaking province of Canada. Rural residents pride themselves on a stout adherence to French customs while their cosmopolitan counterparts embrace and blend new traditions into a very unique culture. For those interested in both ends of the spectrum there is a place in Quebec where these different philosophies merge. The Eastern Townships is a region in south-eastern Quebec, lying between the Saint Lawrence River and the United States border. A veritable country paradise of panoramic mountains and valleys, the Eastern Townships is an exceptional travel destination, combining urban benefits with rural landscapes. Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities, world famous cuisine, local crafts, or luxurious spas, this part of Quebec will satisfy all of your needs. And it’s closer than you think!

The town of Sutton is only a half day’s drive from major cities like New York and Boston and the quiet pace is a welcomed reprise. Sutton is a great base for visiting Quebec’s designated wine route. The 132km trail, La Route des Vins, links 17 vineyards, the first of which started production over 35 years ago in the nearby Dunham Valley. Along the way you will find local produce, picnic spots and neighbourhood curiosities like a 12 sided barn in the town of Mystic and Canada’s oldest covered bridge in Saint Armand.

Magog, a hamlet located near Sherbrooke, is another great place to stage your getaway and explore surrounding areas. With Lake Memphremagog in the background, and surrounded by mountains that stretch over 44km to the Vermont border, it’s easy to understand why Magog is called the “Treasure Chest of the Townships.” The post-war era saw an expansion here that drew businesses and a four-season tourist trade that continues to flourish. Such an early foothold in the industry means that this tiny city knows how to show visitors a good time. A boat cruise will let you appreciate Lake Memphremagog’s true size; just keep an eye out for Memphré, the legendary lake creature that has been making waves for over 200 years!

Nearby you will be tempted to visit the Mont Orford National Park where a mature sugar maple forest carpets hill and dale. Whether it’s hiking along a trail, climbing to the summit of Mont Orford, or listening to the symphony at the Centre d’Arts Orford, you’ll enjoy exploring this park!

Also close to Magog is another jewel of the Townships, North Hatley.  The charm of the place first made it attractive to tourists, and in 1880, the construction of a rail line consolidated its reputation as a resort destination. Over the years, luxurious and century-old residences have been converted into charming hotels, bed and breakfasts and artists’ studios. Other buildings have become art galleries, shops, cafés and restaurants, all of which illustrate the welcoming quality that makes this village a choice vacation spot.

Accessing these hidden gems is as easy as riding a bike. Freewheeling Adventures, an adventure travel company in business since 1987, highlights many of these destinations in their Eastern Townships cycling holiday. The trip also features great add-ons like zip line adventures and golfing. With a knack for small groups and custom itineraries, Freewheeling promises healthy, delicious meals and inns of exceptional charm as you explore Quebec and other destinations around the world.


Cape Town Number 1 Tourist Destination in 2011

25 06 2011

The Travel Editor welcomes guest blogger, Russell Jarvis from TravelStart.co.za, a leading online travel agency based in South Africa.

Cape Town was recently voted the number 1 tourist destination in 2011 in the prestigious Trip Advisor Travelers Choice Awards. Known to locals as the Mother City, Cape Town lies on the south west tip of South Africa and is coasted by the warm Indian Ocean and the cool Atlantic Ocean. Its unique geographical position sets the scene for a beautiful and unique mixture of majestic mountains, turquoise sea and white sandy beaches; all set around a vibrant African city.

Below are just a few of the Cape Town attractions that make the city an obvious choice for the number one tourist destination in 2011.

Table Mountain

The Table Mountain Cableway is your starting point for a day of sightseeing in Cape Town. Head up the mountain on a still clear day and the 360 degree views are nothing short of breathtaking. The top of Table Mountain is a great point from which to get your bearings and on clear days you’ll be able to see the peninsula splitting the land all the way out to the mountains in Stellenbosch.

Robben Island

If you visit Cape Town then your trip is not complete without a boat trip to Robben Island. Besides the important insight Robben Island tours give into South Africa’s controversial past, you’ll also get to see the tiny cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

The Cape Winelands

The Cape Winelands route is a must. Take the day and head to Stellenbosch and Franschoek for wine tasting and lunches under the trees on Cape Town’s gorgeous estates.

Cheap Flights to Cape Town

If you’re an avid traveller and you haven’t yet been to Cape Town then this destination should definitely be on your list. Travelstart is based in Cape Town and is South Africa’s leading online travel agency. Use Travelstart to help find affordable accommodation and car rental in the Mother City as well as cheap flights to Cape Town. Travelstart helps you compare flight prices across all the major airlines flying to Cape Town allowing you to choose the cheapest option then book and pay online in one simple transaction.

Thanks for the blog post Russell! Readers don’t miss all the great Cape Town hotel reviews and Garden Route travel guide on TheTravelEditor.com.

Introducing ‘We love….’ by Travesse

23 03 2011

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to let you know about our new ‘We love…’ series which is over on the Travesse blog.

We work with some truly lovely hotels and we want to tell you about them. Each write-up describes the hotel, the rooms and the 3-4 main things that we love about it. Also there are lots of pretty pics to tempt you!

We’ll be doing several postings each week so please have a read and give us your comments!

Amathus Beach Hotel Rhodes, Greece – on sale on Travesse

21 03 2011

The five-star Amathus Beach Hotel Rhodes stands proudly on the bay of Ixia. Surrounded by landscaped gardens and glistening sea, the hotel offers a taste of exquisite luxury on the Aegean Sea. From stunning views to the tempting spa with all the latest health treatments, this hotel offers genuine indulgence on the Greek coast.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here you will discover traditional Greek hospitality, untainted by the modern age, delivered with a warm smile and island charm. With such magnificent service and fantastic surroundings it would be a shame not to lie back in the sun and let yourself be treated to a spot of bliss!

Location: Situated on the water front, just minutes by car from the Old Town of Rhodes, the Amathus Beach Hotel Rhodes enjoys a stunning seafront location. Connected to the beach by a tunnel, guests are never more than a stone’s throw from an afternoon of lazy sunbathing or adventurous water sports. Inquisitive guests will enjoy discovering the historic side of the island, wandering through the Old Town or clambering around archaeological ruins.

We love…
• The restaurants
Offering three dining choices to guests, the Amathus Beach Hotel Rhodes is ideal for guests who want variety but can’t bear to leave the resort. Breakfast at the Iliades Restaurant or feast on the dinner buffet and enjoy panoramic views from the terrace as the sun sets. Alternatively sample a la carte dining at the Varkarola Taverna, overlooking the main swimming pool and gardens or nibble something traditional and tasty by the pool at the Pool Deck Restaurant.
• The spa
The award-winning Rhodes Spa and Wellness Centre offers luxurious treatments in a relaxing setting. Let the expert therapists ensure your pampering experience is as serene as the clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea outside. Using Pevonia Botanica products, the therapists will ease your skin out of tiredness, enlivening it with naturally sourced ingredients.
• The fitness centre
Keep yourself on your toes at the Fitness Centre, which offers a full gym and aerobics studio.

Need to know…
• Following the launch of the new Elite wing, complete with the Rhodes Spa and Wellness centre, the Amathus Beach Hotel Rhodes is undergoing a total transformation. By May 2011 every bedroom will boast a Swiss “Elite Beds” mattress, ensuring a sound night’s sleep, and the Pool Deck and Varkarola will be given a refreshing facelift.

Why go?
For the wonderful weather, the rich history and unadulterated luxury.

How to get there…
Nearest airport: Rhodes Diagoras Airport
By taxi: 15 minutes
By car: From Diagoras Airport, follow the signs to Rhodes Town along the coastal road. The Amathus Beach Hotel Rhodes can be found in the resort town of Ixia, 10 kilometres from the airport, on the right-hand side of the road.

Join Travesse – The Luxury Travel Club

Join the City Ski Championship in March with Travesse

5 03 2011

You could join 200 skiers from over 40 City firms at the City Ski Championships in Courmayeur. Enjoy a packed programme of skiing, racing, dining, partying and prize-giving for a fun-filled weekend of friendly competition. There is even time for a spot of laid-back Sunday skiing or sightseeing in the Aoste region before heading back to Geneva to catch your flight home!

Travesse have pulled together a three-night, bed and breakfast package includes return British Airways flights from London Heathrow to Geneva and private transfers. Flights depart on March 17th, 2011

To find out more you’ll need to register at Travesse.com, login and check the coming soon deals.

You’ll spend your weekend at the five-star Grand Hotel Royal and Golf, situated on Courmayeur’s premier shopping street: the pedestrianized Via Roma. A fixture in the town for over 200 years, the Grand Hotel Royal and Golf has played host to several famous figures, including Queen Margaret and Giosuè Carducci, and remains a bastion of refined hospitality. The hotel benefits from a central position, located only seven minutes’ walk from the main ski lift, as well as an outdoor heated swimming pool, sauna, Turkish bath and gym, should you desire a break from the exhilaration of the slopes.

We love…

The celebrity participants

Seize this chance to hobnob with the sporting elite and celebrity participants in the fashionable surroundings of Courmayeur. See how you are placed alongside Graham Bell, the presenter of Ski Sunday and five times Olympian, or Damon Konrad Bartelski, a three times Olympic skier. Other famous competitors include: Marcus Brigstocke, Heston Blumenthal and Lawrence Dallaglio.

The pre-race coaching
Get yourself up to speed at Friday’s Warren Smith Performance Clinic . Here you will receive pre-race coaching with Warren and his team of instructors to guarantee your best performance in Saturday’s races.

The charitable aspect
The City Ski Championships support Damon Hill’s chosen charity: The Halow Project, which helps young adults with learning difficulties and speech and language problems to achieve a better quality of life.


17 02 2011

Have you got the winter blues? Are the grey skies getting you down? Do you find yourself wishing that you could click your heels and magic yourself away to another world, where the clouds are always white and fluffy and your most difficult decision in the morning is whether or not to have tea or coffee at breakfast? Well, you needn’t hunt through granny’s attic looking for Aladdin’s lamp. At Travesse we have a better way of making your escapist dreams come true.

Forget the magic words and the puffs of smoke and let Travesse, the members-only luxury travel club, make your luxury-loving travel dreams a reality with a mere click of a button.

To celebrate the launch of Travesse – The Luxury Travel Club we are giving one lucky winner £200 to spend on a Travesse hotel break. So you could find yourself whisked away into fantasy land for a taste of unadulterated luxury. We can’t think of a better way to kick-start your Spring!

How to enter

Simply register on Travesse (it’s free!) for a chance to win.

Deadline for this prize draw is midnight (GMT) March 7, 2011. The winner will announced on the Travesse Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Campervanning Scotland

23 11 2010

TheTravelEditor.com welcomes back guest blogger Fiona Russell, a successful press and magazine journalist based in Glasgow. She also runs a much-followed blog, www.fionaoutdoors.co.uk. Her passions and specialist areas are Scotland’s great outdoors, travel, fitness and health.

My family’s debut night in a campervan is a spot on the Fife coast, in eastern Scotland. And while I know this is a travel blog I’m not going to reveal the exact location of this place of utter beauty and tranquillity because I don’t want to spoil it.

You see, the great thing about campervanning, and especially if you’re holidaying in Scotland where outdoor access laws are some of the most relaxed worldwide, you’ll likely chance upon a host of delightful wild camping hotspots. You might want to tell a few close friends about these great places but you will also be keen to keep many of them a secret.

Having picked up the modern-style Toyota campervan from the Big Tree Campervan base in Perthshire early one Friday evening my partner, daughter and I were looking for a short journey to a fabulous camping spot. We could have booked in to one of a range of high quality campsites in Perthshire or neighbouring Angus or Fife, but we were looking for something a little more adventurous.

And so, thanks to a tip-off from a seasoned campervanning friend and some clever map reading, we find ourselves parked for the night at the edge of a magnificent beach. All we can hear is lapping waves and all we can see is a splendid seascape and moonlit sky.

There was something else that we discover on arriving at our secret wild camping spot. Unlike a camping holiday under canvas it takes only minutes to set up camp. In a campervan we arrive, park, light the gas stove, make a cup of tea or open a bottle of wine chilled in the fridge and relax. There is certainly no agony over tent building and fire building.

In a campervan, your transport is also your living and sleeping space. Our campervan had a bed up top in the extendable roof space for my daughter. Meanwhile, my partner and I made our roomy bed by folding away the sofa and table and using the cushions as a mattress.

The living quarters include a small kitchen with a fridge, a sink and running cold water, a two-burner stove and cupboards filled with a home-from-home level of glassware, crockery, cutlery and kitchen tools. Having hired a gas barbecue we could also enjoy eating out-of-doors when the weather suited.

It’s no wonder then that so many more Brits are catching the campervanning bug.  Campervan hire companies have reported a surge in bookings over the past few years.

For many holidaymakers, and especially families, a campervan offers all the advantages of being outdoors, such as freedom to travel and explore, as well as a comfortable place to eat and sleep each night.

It’s the flexibility of travel and possibilities of adventure that appealed to me. In a campervan we could move to a new overnight spot every day, or set up camp for longer, and all according to our desires and the weather.

The next morning my family is awoken by sunshine and the sound of big, crashing waves. While quiet waves are perfect as you dose off to sleep, there is little more magical than the sight of pounding surf as you eat your breakfast. Following bacon rolls and a cafetiere of coffee, we quickly tidy up and then run down to the wet sand to paddle-walk for a mile or so along the edge of the surf.

The award-winning beach (there’s a small clue for you) is a haven for Scottish birds, including shrikes (another hint) and also a hotspot for surfers (perhaps you now have a better idea of where we stopped).

And then the weather changes. Feeling rain we check the internet via our iPhone and decide to travel south towards the Scottish Borders. It’s simple to pack up the van and head off driving at a lazy pace and stopping whenever we want to take in a view or brew up a cup of tea.

For our second night we choose another wild camp spot close to the small town of Innerleithen, and in particular, within easy access of Glentress Mountain Bike Centre. Glentress is a Mecca for bikers and there are many miles of fabulous off-road trails to suit all ages and cycling abilities.

Again, we could have headed to one of a number of official campsites, such as Tweedside Caravan Park (http://www.tweedsidecaravanparkinnerleithen.co.uk) in Innerleithen or Crossburn Caravan Park (http://www.crossburncaravans.co.uk) and Rosetta Caravan and Camping Park (http://www.rosettacaravanpark.co.uk), both in nearby Peebles. These are all lovely sites but we wanted to get away from the crowds and enjoy some quiet time again.

Heading north from Innerleithen towards the Moorfoot hills a quiet road and glen with a gorgeous bubbling stream offers up a number of lovely wild camping spots. Campers and campervanners in Scotland must act responsibly and take away all their rubbish but it you’re discreet and respectful you’ll find many lovely places to stop.

Another calm evening allows for a leisurely barbecue and although we find ourselves tucked up in jackets and blankets by 9pm we are still able to sit outside to witness a gorgeous sunset.

If disembarking a campsite after a traditional camping holiday always seems like a huge hassle to you, then you should think about hiring a campervan instead. When we decide reluctantly to make our journey back to the Big Tree Campervan base, we simply give the van a sweep out and a clean, load in our kit into the boot and drive off.

Travel notes: Big Tree Campervans hire a range of two to four-berth Toyota campervans, either petrol or dual-fuel, from their base in Bankfoot, Perthshire. Check out www.bigtreecampervans.com