December 10, 2018
Expert: Kate Kenward, Executive Director
Forecast: “AITO is synonymous with special interest holidays and this is now overwhelmingly the most searched for category on AITO.com. Culture, arts and history are proving to be our most popular search terms, ahead of walking, adventure and wildlife holidays, as more and more travellers are seeking new things to learn, experience and see on their holidays. With its rich history and fascinating sites, Italy is top of the search on destinations, followed by the United Kingdom, India and Greece.”
AITO.com features over 1,200 cultural and arts holidays from its group of 120 travel specialists, which provide an unrivalled range of holidays with full financial protection combined with an ethical approach to travel.
Expert: Helen Coulon, Spa Director
Forecast: There’s an increasing need to address mental wellbeing within the spa environment. Anxiety is becoming commonplace. In 2019 Seaham Hall will introduce treatments and therapies aimed specifically at promoting calm, cohesion and positivity. Hypnotherapy, for example, guides the individual into a state of deep relaxation; from here it is believed that change can be effected, turning negative elements of a person’s life into positive ones. Both one-on-one and group sessions are available.
Sample trip: A one-night stay in a Junior Suite at Seaham Hall (0191 516 1400; www.seaham-hall.co.uk) costs from £195 (two sharing), including full English breakfast and full access to spa facilities from 12 noon on the day of arrival to 12 noon on the day of departure.
Expert: Dudley der Parthog, Sunvil Director and Greece specialist
Forecast: “Your parents may regale you with tales of backpacking around the Greek islands when they were young, recounting the spontaneous adventures, deserted beaches and friendly locals – not to mention the considerable hassle factor! Nowadays, 21st century island hopping can be done in considerably more comfort and with far less risk by experts such as Sunvil – all the transfers and ferries can now be arranged seamlessly, helping to relieve any stress and allowing more time to be with family. Goodbye island hoping, hello 21st century island hopping.”
Sample trip: Sunvil* (020 8758 4758; www.sunvil.co.uk) offers a ten-night island hopping holiday in the Cyclades which costs from £1,035 pp (four sharing), including four nights at the Birikos Apartments on Naxos, three nights at the Parian Boutique Hotel on Paros and three nights at the Kouros Village on Antiparos, flights and transfers.
Expert: Prini Patel, Head of Marketing
Forecast: “Research we commissioned earlier this year shows that more than a quarter of people (27.2%) now travel solo more than once a year, with women leading the way (22.6% travel alone at least once a year), and these figures continue to rise. Spain was our respondents’ favourite solo destination, followed by India, the USA, New Zealand and Italy.”
Sample Trip: Jules Verne (020 3553 3722; www.vjv.com) offers a range of Solo Group tours, comprising only of single travellers, such as India’s Golden Triangle. Departing 20 April & 7 September 2019, the price is from £1,595 pp (no single supplement), including flights (Heathrow), eight nights’ B&B, one lunch, five dinners, excursions, and the services of guides and local representatives.
Expert: Paul Stanbury, Operations Manager
Forecast: “We have seen a huge increase in requests for our wildlife cruises, with many our most popular itineraries now filling up over 18 months in advance, as natural world enthusiasts seek to get away from the crowds on land and explore remote spots such as South Georgia and the Solomon Islands. These areas have some of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet and, by travelling on a small, expedition-style cruise, you tend to get the whole place to yourself.”
Sample trip: Naturetrek* (01962 733051, www.naturetrek.co.uk) offers a ten-day Spirit Bears, Grizzly Bears & Humpbacks holiday that features a seven-night wildlife cruise through Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest. Departing 10 September 2019, the price is from £5,595 pp (two sharing), including BA flights (Heathrow), full board on the cruise vessel and expert naturalist guiding.
Expert: Maria Cook, General Manager
Forecast: “There is a continued appetite for short-haul rail holiday destinations, but the rate of increase doesn’t match the current demand for long-haul tours (up 30% in the last two years). Many of our clients around retirement age (55+) are looking for ‘holidays of a lifetime’ to far-flung places, and a growing number are choosing plane and train combinations, which are a great way to see as much of a country as possible within a two or three-week time frame.”
Sample Trip: Ffestiniog Travel* (01766 512400; www.ffestiniogtravel.com) has added a second India tour to its programme to meet demand for this long-haul destination. Departing 28 October 2019, The Golden Triangle & Ranthambore costs from £4,795 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), B&B, 15 lunches & seven dinners, all rail journeys and excursions as per the itinerary, and the services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour.
Expert: Yoshiharu Hoshino, CEO – Hoshino Resorts
Forecast: “We’ve noticed an upsurge in visitors to Japan wanting to get off the pages of the guidebook. Being in a new city as a tourist is one thing, but to really get under the skin of a place, you need to go native. Our OMO Rangers are local tour guides – colour-coded according to their specialty – who show guests the best-kept secrets only known to those who live there. Purple Rangers, for example, will show you the shops that only open at night time, and Red Rangers are sake masters who’ll take you bar-hopping in Otsuka. Instead of ticking off the usual crowded hotspots, discover tiny side street ramen restaurants, get into the coolest cocktail bars, and visit the city’s hottest exhibitions.
Sample trip: Stay at the stylish OMO5 Tokyo Otsuka (125 bedrooms) from £92 per room per night (two sharing; room only). OMO Ranger guided tours start from £6 pp. Contact +81-50-3786-1144 (https://omo-hotels.com/otsuka/en/).
Expert: Lloyd Boutcher, Director, Sunvil Latin America
Forecast: “We’re seeing a shift towards honeymoons that combine luxurious lodges with adrenaline-packed activities such as ziplining, SUP boarding and rafting. With more and more newlyweds taking a minimoon (short post-wedding holiday) followed later by a maximoon (when time and funds permit), couples want more from their big trip than just relaxing on palm-fringed beaches. They seek luxurious boutique hotels in remote wilderness locations with private Jacuzzis, plunge pools, and balconies where they can sip a G&T whilst watching a troupe of monkeys high in the trees, after an adventurous day spent hiking to the top of a volcano or kayaking through mangroves.”
Sample trip: Sunvil* (020 8758 4774; sunvil.co.uk) offers a 12-night Costa Rican honeymoon from £4,988 pp (two sharing), including BA flights (Gatwick), B&B at luxury lodges, some meals, private transfers & private guided tours.
Expert: Patrick Millar, Marketing Manager
Forecast: “Increasingly, discerning travellers are seeking undiscovered city break destinations and hotels which are not on the main booking websites, in an endeavour to avoid the madding crowd. Some of our most regular clients have started to look upon the prospect of a summer weekend in Barcelona or Rome with a sense of trepidation at the thought of navigating the tourist hordes on Las Ramblas or having their view of Michelangelo’s magnificent Sistine Chapel ceiling obscured by backpacks. The proliferation of cheap flights and over-tourism is not going away, but there are solutions: we seek out characterful hotels in charming smaller cities, such as Montpellier, Salamanca or Lucca, and advise clients wishing to visit better-known destinations on the quieter times of year to travel, with insider tips that take them off the beaten path.”
Sample trip: A three-night trip to Salamanca, staying at the four-star Hotel Rector with Kirker Holidays* (020 7593 2283, www.kirkerholidays.com), costs from £698 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), accommodation with breakfast, private car transfers and Kirker Concierge Service.
Expert: Huw Owen, Managing Director & Co-Founder
Forecast: “Dedicated foodies tend not to be interested solely in eating excellent, authentic food these days. They want to engage in a culture, learn from the experts and take home tangible skills. Certain TV shows, such as Parts Unknown, plus the street food boom, have added to the interest in cultural cuisine. There’s nothing stopping us now: we want to make Nasi Bungkus (rice dishes wrapped in a banana leaf) in Indonesia and to tackle Morocco’s traditional almond and spice-filled patisserie in situ in Marrakech.”
Sample trip: TravelLocal (0117 325 7898; www.travellocal.com) offers Georgia’s Foodie Highlights, learning from a local family to make traditional Khashlama (boiled beef with garlic sauce) in a beautiful old town overlooking the Caucasus Mountains. The seven-day trip is from £790 pp (based on two sharing), including B&B, transfers, excursions and the services of a local guide. Flights extra.
Expert: Chris McIntyre, Managing Director
Forecast: “There’s a generous sprinkling of luxury properties opening in Rwanda, causing a marked change in the kind of trips we’re arranging there. Until 2017 the accommodation options were fairly basic but comfortable. Then, when gorilla permits doubled in cost (they’re now $1,500 pp), a number of sophisticated lodges opened and now we’re mostly putting together high-end trips to luxury camps. The recently-introduced direct flights from Gatwick to Kigali have added to its appeal.”
Sample trip: Expert Africa* (020 3405 6666; www.expertafrica.com) offers the six-day Volcanoes Gorilla Safari, staying at the exclusive Bisate Lodge, priced from £8,111 pp (two sharing), including international flights, full-board accommodation, a private guide and 4WD vehicle for the duration of the safari, one golden monkey tracking permit, two gorilla tracking permits, transfers and park fees.
Expert: Peter Hancock, Chief Executive, Pride of Britain Hotels
Forecast: “We are certainly noticing a trend towards a less formal style of delivery: fewer table cloths; staff in more casual clothing; greater freedom for guests to decide when to eat, and suchlike. However, underpinning this remains obsessive attention to detail behind the scenes and no lessening of courtesy towards guests. Demand for this kind of hospitality at top-quality independent hotels in Britain remains high. In the year to date, occupancy is slightly up on 2017 and our daily room rate exceeds £200.”
Sample trip: The Pride of Britain Hotels collection of 50 hotels includes The Goring in London, Bovey Castle in Devon, the Farncombe Estate in Worcestershire, Gravetye Manor in Sussex and Gilpin Hotel and Lake House in Cumbria – not to mention Glenapp Castle, Dunstane House and The Torridon north of the border. To book, contact Pride of Britain Hotels on 0800 089 3929 (www.prideofbritainhotels.com).
Expert: Carolina de Capell Brooke, Product Manager – Morocco
Forecast: “This year, we have noticed that increasing numbers of people are looking to combine authentic insight into a destination with the luxury and comfort of a fully-staffed villa. Providing much sought-after privacy, space and sophistication, a staffed villa ensures that visitors can fully relax into their holiday, whilst experiencing a feeling of being closely-connected to the country through local dishes cooked at home by local people. This is a trend we expect to continue long into 2019.”
Sample package: A week’s stay with CV Villas (020 7261 5400; www.cvvillas.com), at Villa Mauresque near Marrakech, Morocco, is priced from £326 pp (based on eight sharing – total price from £2,609). This staffed villa includes a cook, who will prepare three meals a day, and a house manager. Transfers, local guides and flights extra.
Expert: Amy Walkington-Gray, Sales Manager
Forecast: “We have seen a marked increase in the number of people taking multigenerational holidays this year compared to last, with a 300% year-on-year increase, and this coming year we expect the numbers to continue their dramatic rise. With growing interest in both Lapland as a destination and experiential travel, families are looking to share bucket-list experiences, such as husky sledding and seeing the Northern Lights, with wider family members to create cherished memories.”
Sample package: Activities Abroad* (01670 789 991; www.activitiesabroad.com) offers the new four-night Festive Family Fun in a Winter Cottage with a husky safari, reindeer farm visit, snowmobile safari and Aurora snowshoeing, from £1,620 per adult (age 13+) / £1,130 per child aged 4-12, based on two adults sharing with one child, including flights (London), transfers, full-board winter cottage accommodation, activities, cold weather clothing & expert guides. Departs 15 November – 17 December 2019.
* AITO, The Specialist Travel Association, boasts over 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO members can be assured of high-quality holidays, excellent personal service and full financial protection. Visit www.aito.com for further information.
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NB Sue Ockwell of Travel PR is available 24/7 as a spokesperson for all organisations featured above, including the Association of Independent Tour Operators – call +44 (0)7831 126 356 or email email@example.com.