International Travel News

Space tourism on schedule

Galactic Suite have revealed that plans to open the first hotel in space are on schedule and The Galactic Suite Space Resort will be open for business and accepting tourists by 2012.

The news follows the revelation that an anonymous billionaire space enthusiast has granted $3billion to finance the project.

However it’s for the super rich only. The Barcelona-based architects of space resort say it will cost 3 million euro ($4.4 million) for a three-night stay at the hotel, with this price including an eight-week training course on a tropical island before the trip.

There are considerable doubts about the cost and time frame of the project but more than 200 people have expressed an interest in the trip and 43 have already made a reservation.

Galactic Suite hopes to start its project with a single pod in orbit 450 km (280 miles) above the earth, traveling at 30,000 km per hour, with the capacity to hold four guests and two astronaut-pilots. It will take a day and a half to get there and there will be no staff.

The Hilton is tops in England
The London Hilton on Park Lane is celebrating after winning ‘England’s Leading Business Hotel’ at the 2009 World Travel Awards at a ceremony held on 17 October at the Marriot Praia Del Rey Obidos, Portugal.

The awards, described by the Wall Street Journal as the ‘Oscars’ of the global travel and tourism industry, honour the ‘best of the best’ in the travel and tourism industry worldwide.

Hotels competing for the ‘Leading Business Hotel’ award were judged on criteria including, business performance, customer experience and satisfaction, personnel, communication, innovation, creativity, enterprise and team work. Leading travel industry professionals voted the Hilton London on Park Lane winner in the category for demonstrating excellence in all categories.

Ritz-Carlton set to open brand new Reserve this month
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company recently announced the opening of Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve on December 22, 2009, in Krabi, Southern Thailand.

The world’s first Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Phulay Bay will embody the attributes, philosophy and unique style and design of the Reserve brand extension. Appealing to affluent and discerning travellers seeking more from their leisure time, Ritz-Carlton Reserve will offer exquisite resorts in secluded and naturally beautiful locations around the world.

Set on the shores of the Andaman Sea, Phulay Bay is a hideaway 54-villa and pavilion boutique hotel with unspoilt views of the towering limestone karsts which make up the beautiful landscape of this part of southern Thailand. Coupled with sandy beaches, a coastline flecked with more than 200 islands, surrounded by a national forest with rugged rock formations and hidden waterfalls, Phulay Bay is a natural wonder.

Flying without fear
Virgin Atlantic recently announced its highly acclaimed Flying Without Fear course (with a success rate in excess of 98%) is now available as an application for the iPhone and iPod touch from the App Store, the first of its kind.

Many people suffer anxiety at the prospect of flying. These fears range from anxiety at booking a trip to complete inability to board an aircraft. Whether it is the unfamiliar aircraft, the strange noises a plane makes, or the fear of losing control, this app is designed to help people overcome their personal fears.
Sir Richard Branson, President of Virgin Atlantic, commented:

“This is Virgin Atlantic innovation at its best. Our first iPhone app will bring the benefits of our successful Flying Without Fear course to millions of people around the world who are now using mobile technology to make their lives better. The app will put many travelers at ease and enable them to prepare for their first Virgin Atlantic flight.”

Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Without Fear team have developed the app with Mental Workout, a company developing mobile applications focused on improving lives by helping people resolve issues and increase mental performance.

The Flying Without Fear app contains a personal introduction by Sir Richard Branson, a video-based in-flight explanation from start to finish of a flight, frequently-asked questions, relaxation exercises and fear therapy, a fear attack button for emergencies with breathing exercises and quick tips, and a “My Program” section where each user can rate their personal fears and add future flights to prepare them for their next trip. As a bonus, the user is offered 2,000 points when joining Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club.

Brits still vacationing
Whilst Brits may have left it to the last minute to book, it appears the annual summer holiday is here to stay in spite of the current economic climate, according to the latest American Express Global Foreign Exchange Services Currency Index.

British people it seems, forever in search of sunshine on their annual vacations, are not prepared to forego this precious escape.

Terry Perrin, Director of Trading & Business Development at American Express Global Foreign Exchange Services explains: “Currency sales in the third quarter of this year (July – September 2009), remain on par with previous years, suggesting that despite the tightening of purse strings up and down the country, Brits were just not prepared to forgo their annual summer holiday.

“Undoubtedly the much published no-show ‘barbeque summer’ also helped fuel the trend in last minute bookings and currency sales towards the end of the season.”

Turkey and Egypt continue to attract Brits with guaranteed sun and inclusive packages
“We continued to see significant year-on-year volume increases in currencies for destinations such as Turkey and Egypt, by as much as 26% and 60% (respectively), as holidaymakers looked to destinations that offer guaranteed sunshine and value for money.”

American Express Global Foreign Exchange Service predicts that Turkey and Egypt will continue to be hotspots in 2010 with holiday makers enticed by an abundance of all inclusive package deals and the opportunity to make their pennies go further outside the Eurozone.

UK demand for currencies to long-haul destinations such as Mexico, Thailand, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica have also increased year-on-year and follow the trend seen in Q2 that holidaymakers are prepared to travel long-haul and outside the Eurozone for value for money destinations.