Introducing the Bespoke Travel Club

With such a wide choice of destinations and transportation available to today’s discerning traveler, the Bespoke Travel Club will come as something of a refreshing alternative.

Comprising a happy band of dedicated specialist agencies with a shared dedication to providing the best of advice to those travelers looking for unique vacations supported by expert knowledge, The Bespoke Travel Club is now open for business.

The Bespoke Travel Club is recommended by www.simonseeks.com, a community of travellers, journalists and celebrities who share their travel guides and tips on the best places to stay, eat and visit.

5 of the Best Beaches in the West Mediterranean

Many of the West Med beaches draw large crowds but away from these well-known hot spots are some of the most beautiful scenic coves and bays. From the white sandy beaches of the Balearics to the black volcanic sands of the Lipari Islands, many of these beautiful beaches are only accessible by yacht, making them delightfully private.

With a fantastic portfolio of charter yachts available in the Mediterranean this summer offering guests something to suit everyone’s needs, Consensio is pleased to share the top five recommendations for best beaches in the Western part of the Mediterranean.


Pampelonne Beach, South of France

Enjoy a charter on board the 115ft (35m) Arcadia built M Ocean and anchor off the well-known Pampelonne Beach near St Tropez. Although it does sometimes get crowded, this famous stretch of glorious sand is a known celebrity hang-out and a must-see when chartering a yacht on the Cote d’Azur.

Sa Calobra Beach, Mallorca, Spain

One of the most spectacular natural places in Mallorca is the stony Sa Calobra beach where the Torrent des Pareis (Twin Rivers) finally reaches the Mediterranean sea, having carved a path through the limestone cliffs and gorges of the Tramuntana mountains. The area, including the 8 kilometre canyon, has been a declared National Monument since 2003, and is home to several hundred species of specialised flora and fauna. The pebbled-beach is best approached from the sea on board a cruising yacht like the 90ft (27m) Tigerlily which is fully legal to operate in Spanish waters.

Santa Giulia Bay, Corsica

A few miles south of Porto Vecchio is Santa Giulia beach with its turquoise blue waters and beautifully soft white sand, reminiscent of any bay in the Caribbean. Anchor off for the day on board the 90ft (27m) Nicka fly-bridge yacht and let the crew spoil you with a crustacean lunch.

Panarea, Lipari Islands, Italy

“The seven volcanic islands in the southern part of the Tyrrhenian Sea are uniquely beautiful and boast a wealth of history, stunning scenery, wonderful coves, coastal paths galore, mouth-watering cuisine and the finest desert wine. The Aeolian Islands remain fairly unknown beyond Italy and are surprisingly unspoilt outside the peak month of August. Each of its islands has its own atmosphere, hospitality and charm. Panarea is the smallest and most fashionable island and it attracts an international jet set during summer. Drop anchor on board the 94ft (29m) One O One and spend the day bathing in the turquoise waters.

Notre Dame Beach, Porquerolles islands, South of France

The enchanted Notre Dame beach on Ile de Porquerolles, a narrow crescent of sand on the French Riviera, bathed in pine and Eucalyptus scents will simply dazzle you. Sea, sand and trees work together beautifully, creating a scene reminiscent of a distant desert island. Enjoy this spectacular beach, a mere 20minutes away from the glitz of St Tropez, in style on board the 164ft (50m) Malibu.

 

For more information on yacht charters and destinations available this 2013 summer, please contact Consensio on enquiries@consensioholidays.co.uk or call +44 7711 349 580.

 

Les Gets, an Alpine Summer Holiday Resort with Luxury Chalet Accommodation

Consensio, the luxury ski chalet operator, is approaching the end of the winter ski season with only the high altitude resorts of Val d’Isere and Val Thorens still open. People assume that the Alps are only good for skiing and that lifts, businesses, hotels & chalets close until next December. However there are plenty of ski resorts which keep their doors open and embrace the concept of summer in the Alps. Les Gets in Portes du Soleil is one of them, conveniently based only an hour’s drive from the international airport of Geneva.

Les Gets opens its’ lift system from mid-July through to early September which enables walkers and mountain bikers alike access to the mountains in and around this authentic and quaint mountain village. The lifts are adapted to allow you to hook your bike on the back and the mountain paths are all marked for easy navigation. Enjoy the pure mountain air and stunning scenery with temperatures soaring well over 25C.

There are many other exciting activities available for the entire family from archery and swimming to tennis and golf. real And for the thrill seekers, there is parapenting or canyoning. For animal lovers, Les Gets has a petting farm where you can go horse-riding or alternatively, hike with a donkey who carries your bags for you during your journey through the lush woods and valleys.

To get a flavour of local mountain life and attractions there is a weekly Thursday market where you can sample local cheeses and dishes from the region. If you want to find out more about how they are made you can visit the local fruitiere for a guided tour. However the favourite for both young and old has to be a visit to the chocolate factory where you can create your own recipe and take home your very own made creation!

There are some superbly fabulous luxury summer chalets available with the all-inclusive service you would expect from a top hotel. For those looking for proper pampering, a yoga break, golf week or long weekend away, we have Chalet Grande Corniche available which comes completely catered with an outdoor Jacuzzi, sauna, relaxing areas with conversation pit, large terraces, six sumptuous en-suite bedrooms – some with splendid views over the valley and Mont Blanc – a snooker table, TV snug and even a slide from the top bar down into the wine cellar!

So if you are looking for an alternative summer holiday over the chaos of the South of France this summer and prefer the clean mountain air over traffic pollution in Cannes and Nice then the Alpine resort of Les Gets is definitely worth considering.

To enquire about our Chalet Grande Corniche, fully catered or also on a self-cater basis, please drop us a line at enquiries@consensioholidays.co.uk or call us on + 44 (0)20 3393 0833. We look forward to assisting you with your summer holiday enquiries in the French Alps.

By Ceri Tinley for Consensio Holidays Ltd

 

 

 

The Magic of the Côte d’Azur – Why Charter a Yacht?

Words like Côte d’Azur & The French Riviera tend to conjure up notions of casinos, high spending and fast living along the gorgeous West Mediterranean coast. The delights of Nice, the beauties of the Cannes film festival and the bohemian sophistication of St Tropez might spring to mind — and of course a vast array of super yachts to charter. Mega yachts with full professional crews to waft you silently among the creeks and hiding places of the Riviera from Port Grimaud to Monte Carlo.

Getting around the Cote d’Azur in summer is often problematic. Many areas get extremely congested due to poor infrastructure and small windy roads. Chartering a yacht will take all this hassle away whilst still being able to enjoy the many gems the Cote has to offer.

Charter from Antibes or Juan les Pins to St Raphaël and on to St Mandrier for the glorious Iles d’Hyères — Porquerolles and Port Cros. The islands of Hyères with their creeks and white, sandy shores and unspoiled nature reserve are within easy reach. Further to the West you’ll fall under the spell of the magical Calanques of Cassis with its sheer beautiful cliffs. That is unless you prefer the more classic destinations of the Côte d’Azur — Cannes, Antibes or Monaco.

If time allows, set course for the enchanting island of Corsica. Calvi is less than 100 nautical miles away. There you can enjoy the spectacular scenery as you cruise down to Bonifacio, the Lavezzi Islands or even continue on to Sardinia.

Although the summer months are mostly favoured, spring and autumn offer more tranquil cruising in almost deserted waters. Enjoy the Mediterranean climate, wonderful weather at reduced rates.

The Giraglia Rolex Cup is organised every June where a selection of ex-Americas Cup vessels gather to provide the most amazing spectacle as they beat their way up the Gulf of St Tropez. September also has several prestigious events; the Monaco Classic Week, the Cannes Royal Regattas and the Voiles de Saint Tropez.

Our charter team suggests: Begin your charter amid the unabashed glamour of Monte Carlo, and celebrate with a night of Michelin-starred dining and memorable entertainments at the most famous casino or opera. Meander the charming streets of St Tropez and soak up the Riviera ambience at the water front cafes. Anchor off Cap d’Antibes, a favourite Super-yacht spot, or enjoy the easy elegance of pastel-shaded Villefrance-sur-Mer. For shopping and a sophisticated restaurant scene, stroll the airy boulevards of ever-fashionable Cannes. Alternatively, for natural beauty head to the unspoiled island of Porquerolles.

Visit our updated website where we display a selection of the finest yachts for charter. Working in synergy with a wider network we can offer you unparalleled access to market information as well as in-depth charter yacht industry knowledge.

Please contact us to chat about your yacht charter requirements on +44 (0) 7711 349 580 or email at hanneke@consensioholidays.co.uk

By Hanneke Maljaars for Consensio Holidays Ltd

4 Great Reasons Why To Have a Corporate Ski Outing in a Luxury Ski Chalet

A corporate ski outing is the perfect way to reward your employees, partners and clients. Whether you are looking to entertain a group of close colleagues or organise a team building week or long weekend away; Perhaps even host a conference or simply reward and incentivise your team with a fun week of private ski chalet pampering, superb skiing and the compulsory après ski – Consensio can assist in creating the perfect corporate trip to finish this winter season on a high!

TEAM BUILDING

Invest in your team to build your business!
Team Building is the bedrock of all corporate events. A day out where your employees feel valued, enthused and rewarded. Beware that team building should not focus on competition as you might not achieve what you set out for. Your ultimate goal is for employees to have a deeper understanding amongst themselves, like each other better, achieve an experience of having performed well together. They should have an increased desire to cooperate and help each other out and most importantly, have a sense that the event was “time well spent.”

Motivating your staff and maintaining morale is just as important as looking after your clients. What better way to achieve this than by arranging an amazing Ski trip.

CLIENT ENTERTAINMENT

Retaining clients is as important as winning new clientele. Corporate hospitality offers the perfect opportunity to repay customer loyalty, meet your clients in person, create new networking opportunities and cement existing business relationships.

By entertaining your clients you make an emphatic statement that your company is strong in the marketplace and your clients can trust you with their business. At a time when companies are struggling to survive, it is important to show your clients that your company is thriving.

The Consensio chalets are the crème-de-la-crème of the Alpine holiday chalets and with the most luxurious facilities including spas, indoor swimming pools, cinemas and full professional staff, clients will leave suitably impressed.

COMPANY CONFERENCE

Conferences are a great way to brain-storm new ideas, exchange information on a personal level, build moral, brief your staff or clients on new developments, develop your annual strategies or initiate and review policies. That, combined with snow activities to boost the team spirit, makes a company enormously valued.

All catered ski chalets are equipped with wifi, computers and necessary office equipment and each chalet offers large living areas, suitable to hold meetings and team building sessions.

REWARD SCHEME

Every company needs a strategic reward system for employees that address four main areas: compensation, benefits, appreciation and recognition.

Appreciation and recognition are integral components of a winning strategic reward system and best of all; they are low-cost and high-return ingredients over financial compensation or company benefits. Employees like to know whether they’re doing good, bad or average, so it’s important that you tell them and show them. A ski trip is ideally suited to show your appreciation, especially when combined with five star Consensio service and fully bespoke itineraries.

So why not pick up the phone and give them a call to discuss your requirements. Their expert knowledge of the ski industry, combined with excellent relations and preferential rate-cards with suppliers and activities companies, together with an impressive chalet portfolio makes them a leader in the field of corporate ski events.

Each chalet has its own dedicated staff and private chalet vehicles, providing them with all the resources to ensure the smooth running of each event. Their vast knowledge of each Consensio operated ski resort means they can recommend the best piste restaurants and team build activities, guaranteeing the overall success of your corporate ski event.

Suggested corporate chalets, suitable for larger groups or holding conferences:

Chalet Aurora Borealis, 22 guests, Meribel, 3 Voiles, France
Boreale jacuzzi

Domaine de Toit du Monde, 16 guests, Val d’Isere, Espace Killy, France

Toit Du Monde indoor/outdoor pool

Chalet Montana, 15 guests, Val d’Isere, Espace Killy, France

Montana Spa lowres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chalet Grande & Petit Corniche, 16 guests, Les Gets, Portes du Soleil, France

Grande Corniche Dining and lounge

For all corporate enquiries, please contact Hanneke Maljaars on
0044 7711 349 580 or email hanneke@consensioholidays.co.uk

Ampersand Travel’s guide to Indonesia


Ampersand’s top sales consultant, Mark Wright, has recently spent two and a half weeks revisiting Indonesia, hopping across the islands of Java, Bali, Sumba, Komodo, Rinca and Flores. His enthusiasm for Indonesia has rubbed off on everyone in the office so we thought we’d sit him down to share his insights and divulge his top tips.

My ideal Indonesian honeymoon…
Even though I travelled alone this time (sob, poor me!), Indonesia struck me as the perfect destination for a romantic trip. Click on the video below to find out why and discover what my dream honeymoon itinerary would entail.

Rediscover Bali – the most famous of Indonesia’s 17 thousand islands…
Bali is a huge island and Seminyak and Legian are located in quite a small and highly populated corner of it. Although lovely, it’s a shame that many people only experience these areas or they get put off visiting Bali, thinking that’s all there is. Unlike 10 years ago, there are now fantastic properties all around the island. Some of our favourites include Alila Villas Soori further up the west coast, Amankila and Alila Manggis on the east coast, Puri Ganesha in the north, Surya Shanti inland in the east and Alila Villas Uluwatu on the southern peninsula. I would love to help change people’s perception of Bali and reveal its hidden gems.

Beyond Bali – other “don’t miss” destinations…
I am also eager to show people what else there is beyond Bali’s shores - after all, Indonesia is the country, not Bali! Flowing from west to east, your first port of call would be the island of Java, home to Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Don’t be scared of Jakarta – it’s not the most fascinating city but for 1 or 2 nights it’s a great place to relax after a long flight. Still on Java, continue on to the city of Yogyakarta, which has bustling markets and a fantastic colonial hotel called the Phoenix, and then on to Borobudur, which is the world’s largest Buddhist temple. Flanked by brooding volcanoes, Borobudur has a suitably majestic hotel, Amanjiwo, which is beyond impressive. You can spend 3 or 4 days around here and then do the core of your trip elsewhere for the beach paradise experience that everyone associates with Indonesia, be it Bali, Lombok, Sumba, Komodo, Sulawesi or Raja Ampat. A travel trend that has taken off here in recent years is luxury sailing and Indonesia has some fabulous traditional phinisi sail boats. For Ampersand’s top sailing experiences, read my blog about Komodo Island and the best sail boats in Indonesia.



Hotels – golden oldies vs new openings…

In a place like Bali there are always lots of new hotels opening. While it’s exciting and important to make new discoveries, just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s the best. The Edge, for example, is very new, set in a stunning location and offers everything you could want from a luxury villa, but its elder neighbour, Alila Villas Uluwatu, operates more seamlessly and has had more time to integrate with its surroundings. The best example of a property growing into its surrounding environment is COMO Shambhala. It is set across a giant estate and while other hotel chains would have increased the room capacity, COMO have kept it at a mere 36 rooms. They have allowed the estate’s fauna to grow naturally, which allows guests to take long walks down to the river valley in complete peace. By not maximising capacity and ruining the nature they have kept the estate feel and exclusivity.

* Top tip: Do not rule out a hotel as too expensive just because you know it is the most luxurious option… you may be able to afford it if you choose the right room category! COMO Shambhala’s Garden Room for example is very reasonably priced and you still have all the benefits of the estate and its facilities, including 3 swimming pools, a natural rock climbing wall, world class yoga and pilates classes, and one of the best restaurants on the island, Glow.

Foodie favourites…

* Best all rounder: Puri Ganesha. This boutique hotel is run by Diana von Cranach and her Indonesian husband Gusti, who, along with their three Dalmatian dogs, bring life and soul in abundance to your holiday. Diana designs menus for top restaurants and hotels in Asia and Europe, and is a cookery book author and a leading authority on raw food. Her creations are not just healthy, but visually delightful and divinely delicious. On this trip she prepared a tasting menu for me in their beachside dining cabana consisting of seared kingfish with braised lentils, cucumber, pomegranate and mint salad, and salmon carpaccio with avocado, seaweed, radish & ginger, tamarind and orange dressing. I…was…in…heaven! A few of Gusti’s renowned cocktails topped off a fabulous evening. With just 4 villas, it is perfect if you’re looking for exclusivity and hands-on service. Diana and Gusti are integral to the community and love to help; a memorable moment for me was watching Gusti teach local kids English after school. The energy that he brought to the class and to the kids was touching and engaging. Guests staying here really get a sense of where they are, which is quite unusual for such a luxurious property. Not only do you get the best linens and beds, a private pool, world-class food, loads of private space and your own private villa, but the community comes to you in the most unobtrusive way. It blends unbelievably well.

* Best cookery course: Surya Shanti Villa, Bali. The al fresco kitchen is within the upper garden of Surya Shanti offering 360 degree panoramic views of Mount Agung, paddy fields and the ocean beyond. If that doesn’t inspire you, the fresh local produce and the enthusiastic chef will. You could not think of spending a better 3 hours in Bali.

* Best seafood: Nihiwatu Lodge, Sumba Island. Guests can go fishing and, more often than not, you’re eating seafood that other guests have caught themselves, which builds up the community spirit amongst the guests. You bond over food, talking to the guests across the table who may have caught your dinner that day, and to the chef who will come over for a chat. From start to finish you know exactly where your meal has come from.

* Best Indonesian food: Alila Ubud, Bali. I tried the tasting menu here with my older brother and it was just amazing. It had everything from famous suckling Balinese pork, to the six different ice creams at the end, all homemade by the chef with the element of the flavour in the presentation. It was just beautiful food overlooking a beautiful valley.

There were so many more wonderful experiences – from surfing the private Nihiwatu break to exploring the Prambanan temples outside of Yogyakarta – but we will let you discover the rest for yourselves! To see a selection of photos from my trip, please click here. If you are keen to visit Indonesia call me on +44 (0) 20 7289 6100 or email mark@ampersandtravel.com; I would be happy to share more tips and design a tailor-made journey for you.

Mark Wright
Senior Sales Consultant
Ampersand Travel
www.ampersandtravel.com
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Escape to Venice

Still one of Europe’s most romantic cities and Bellini Travel will open all the right doors for you!

Cuba in 2013

Having long held a fascination for Cuba it was wonderful in January to finally visit this fascinating country, which is wrapped in a 1950′s time warp and holds many contradictions. On the one hand the population struggles to survive under the bizarre constraints of communism and on the other hand people are quietly and urgently embracing capitalism. Of course the country is desperate for money and now hugely dependent on a few foreign allies, Miami exiles and a lot of tourists to provide much needed cash but also the young are increasingly frustrated and many try to leave causing a ‘brain drain’ and an anxiety about the future. For all these problems, Cuba is a fascinating country, rich in culture, a charming people and an interesting Spanish colonial history, which is evident in all the decaying but still stunning architecture, much of which is happily being restored.

The Hotels were mixed but fine, the food better than expected and the welcome one of the most sincere we have experienced in a long time. This is a country you must visit soon before the cruise ships come steaming in and the charm of Cuba is lost forever. Once the Castro brothers die, things will change very fast and they are already preparing with the main port being moved out of Old Havana to a deeper spot. The infrastructure is pretty creaky right now and there are so many buildings in desperate need of repair but work is being done and Cuba has the potential to be a very successful country with 11 million highly educated and healthy people clamoring for a better life. Given the tools, Cuba will do just fine, as they have the entrepreneurial spirit. The farmland is very rich, the coastline is stunning and there is so much culture and interesting things to see. The rest of the islands in this part of the world seem pretty bland compared with Cuba.

Conde Nast Traveler Summit 2012

View from LA up at Hollywood signAndrew Loyd of LTR, a 2011 Conde Nast Traveler Villa Rental Specialist has just returned from a very worthwhile trip to LA.  Two action packed days of networking, appointments, lunches, discussion panels and evening receptions flew past giving him the chance to chat to a lot of industry peers, meet members of the Conde Nast team and generally ‘bond’. 

Having left a snowy Heathrow it was a treat to arrive in the blue skies and heat of LA.  On the first night, after an early supper with an old travel friend an early night was in order before, the next day, embarking the Psalty V with Captain Gary and some travel colleagues for a 3 hour trip to see some whales and roam the waters of Catalina Island.  Andrew picked up the boat at San Pedro and they were soon out of the harbour and amongst the seals and dolphins.  Sadly, no whales were spotted but a fun morning with some much needed fresh air after the 12 hour flight.

The show was a huge success with seamless registration and a fun chance to catch up with travel colleagues at the opening night ceremony.  The general feeling was that everyone was very lucky to be involved with CNT and to be on their ‘officially recommended’ radar.

For more information about LTR’s private mansions for hire please contact Andrew Loyd on + 44 (0) 1835 824 642 or ANDREW@LTR.CO.UK; or visit our website at www.ltr.co.uk

London 2012 Olympic Games

Accommodation for London 2012 Olympics in LondonLTR is thrilled to be offering some exclusive luxury accommodation in Essex and London that is only available for the 2012 London Olympics.  The Games are racing closer every day and the excitement is building.  This accommodation is available in exclusive private houses and mansions situated either in London or Essex to rent for exclusive use for the London 2012 Olympics.  These properties have never been available to rent before.

Whether you would like to stay for a week in a luxury Central London house and enjoy the buzz and atmosphere of the capital city or whether you would prefer to enjoy the seclusion and privacy of one of our exclusive Essex homes with extensive grounds, swimming pools and tennis courts, we at LTR will be able to help you.  All our Essex luxury houses are only 1 hour from the main Olympic venue at Stratford Park.

For further information on the exclusive luxury accommodation that we are offering for the London 2012 Olympics, please contact Andrew Loyd on + 44 (0) 1835 824 642 or ANDREW@LTR.CO.UK

News from French Ski Resorts the 3 Valleys and Val d’Isere…

With November now under way and the snow promising to decorated the mountainous pastures with a thick white blanket in the next few weeks, pre-season anticipation is mounting. It is a time when the snow worshipers amongst us begin day dreaming of fresh snow and blue bird skies or sipping vin chaud by a roaring fire. To ensure that such reveries are accurate we feel it our duty to update you on some of the changes that you will find in your favourite resorts this season.

The top of the new Saulire Express

For the three valley skiers amongst us you will be interested to know that there a number of new or improved lifts and pistes this season. The upper section of Meribel’s new Saulire 8-man gondola will be ready this December (the lower part to be finished December 2012) enabling an easier access to Courchevel and in particular to the Grand Couloir and off-piste Saulire couloirs. Val Thorens has added the ‘Funitel de Thorens’ to its collection of funitels, providing access to two new slopes (a red and blue) and Courchevel has replaced its 4-seat Plantrey chairlift with a 6-seater. There is also a new green run below the Blanchot run in Meribel, the red Lac de la Chambre has been modified to better cope with skiing traffic between VT and Meribel-Motteret, and the red Roc de Merlet piste in Courchevel has been made easier so that more people can enjoy it.

Val Thorens celebrates 40 years as a ski resort with this new Funitel.

Over in the Espace Killy the slopes may have remained the same but a number of places around the resort have gained in prestige, such as the family run Becca restaurant which is now proudly boasting a Michelin star, making Val the ever increasing sophisticated skiing destination.

Antony Tempesta : photo credit = Philippe Echaroux.
With our exclusive collection of the most stunning chalets in both ski areas, contact Consensio to find your perfect 5* catered ski chalet www.consensioholidays.co.uk or call us on +44 (0) 203 393 0833.

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