Your Money: Cashing in on holiday currency

As you plan ahead to your holiday, flights and accommodation are not the only elements that need organising in advance.

Planning where, and when, you get your holiday cash could save you money.

Time is of the essence.

The euro is currently at a seven-year low against the pound.

In fact, in the last year alone the euro has become 10% weaker and that translates into an extra £10 of spending power for every £100 that you spend in the eurozone.

So how can you take advantage of today’s good rate?

Pre-paid cards

One way is to buy your currency through one of the increasingly common pre-paid cards.

These let you buy your euros at today’s exchange rate, but one which will usually be better than that offered in a bank.

You pay now for the euros, or any other foreign currency, and they are loaded onto your card.

The cards are then ready for immediate use, at an ATM or even in a shop, and you get the certainty of locking in today’s rate.

But this also means you are taking a small gamble on the foreign exchange markets.

You may be assuming that the euro is at its weakest point and will not become any weaker.

You might be wrong and could miss out on further potential gains.

“Our advice is to pre-pay up to 50% of your holiday cash when a rate seems good,” says Rupert Lee-Browne, chief executive of Caxton FX, one of the bigger providers of cash cards.

“Clearly with the euro at a seven-year low, you are getting a relatively good rate even if the euro weakens further.”

Full article on the BBC.

Carbon neutral hotels

carbon neutral hotels

carbon neutral hotels

The hospitality sector is leading the way in the global campaign to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a rapidly growing number of carbon-neutral hotels.

Being carbon neutral as a business, organisation or individual simply means doing things to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as you add to it, creating a “zero carbon footprint”.

The 24/7 nature of hotels means that their consumption of essential utilities, such as electricity, gas and water, is significant. However, there are simple and sustainable ways to reduce the negative impact such high consumption has on the environment.

Environmentally-conscious hotel groups, like Carlson Rezidor, with its Think Planet initiative, are shaping the future of their operations around carbon neutrality by implementing strategies to reduce carbon emissions.

There are a number of ways to offset, from paying others to remove or sequester CO2 through tree planting to supporting projects focused on preventing greenhouse gas emissions. You can also buy carbon credits to offset annual emissions generated in the consumption of utilities like electricity, gas and water, as well as services like laundry and transport.

Responsible hotels are reducing the impact of their operations on the environment by replacing energy-guzzling lighting with low-energy LED lamps, installing smart controls for heating and lighting and reducing water consumption. Retrofitting with LED lamps can deliver carbon emissions savings of up to 85%.

A simple step like fitting eco shower heads, which can reduce water usage by more than 50%, brings immediate carbon benefits, not only through reduced consumption but also by cutting the amount of energy needed to heat and pump water.

Working with trusted partners who can help to plan, implement and, most importantly, measure carbon reduction projects is essential for any hotel group looking to successfully reduce carbon emissions. has a range of useful tools, including a mobile app to gauge water savings and online calculators to assess carbon emission reductions from solutions like LED lighting. You can also purchase simple and effective products, such as flow bags to measure the flow of your taps and showerheads.

In addition, you can also access useful guides, such as the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative (HCMI). The HCMI uses Global Business Travel Association guidelines and is free for any hotel wanting to measure the carbon emissions from a guest stay, a meeting or an event. Associated emission generators, such as staff travel, furnishing and waste, should also be factored in.

The HCMI is also useful for larger hotel groups which must have emissions information as part of the annual RFP process, as it allows them to identify green suppliers and is also essential for mandatory reporting.

The measurement initiative has two goals – to substantially reduce the hotel carbon footprint and to demonstrate good management practice. However, due to the number of property and geographic variables in the sector, it does not provide benchmarks.

Hotels around the globe are focusing on sustainability and are demonstrating the many ways that a business can be commercially viable as well as environmentally sound.

Mark Sait is managing director of, a full-service efficiency partner helping businesses and households reduce energy and water consumption, and cutting carbon emissions to improve sustainability.

Win Two Tickets To Snowbombing in Austria

If you fancy a free ticket to the awesome Snowbombing festival then try your luck in the competition below. Entrants can go to the Crystal Ski website for hints each day, good luck!

The Event

A week-long whirlwind of world class DJs and bands, in the idyllic alpine setting of Mayrhofen, Austria. Days are spent skiing/boarding, enjoying music on mountain -top stages or relaxing in the spa of a 4* hotel.

Nights deliver cutting edge performances from world-class acts in unique venues; from a sky high igloo, to an enchanted forest clearing. Now in its fifteenth year, Snowbombing is regarded by many as, “The Greatest Show on Snow”. Mystical. Musical. Without equal.

The Competition


Santa's Ski Holiday Advent Calendar

Santa's Ski Holiday Advent Calendar

Special Honeymoon Destinations

Mardan Palace Hotel, in Turkey

Mardan Palace Hotel, in Turkey

To get married is a one in a lifetime occasion, therefore, why not make it special with an special honeymoon? There are some great hotels around the world that can make your journey unforgettable and make you feel like king and queen for a few nights, surrounded by some spectacular landscapes, but also offering you the possibility to spend some great nights out, drinking champagne away, or playing poker like a real gentleman.

Indeed, many of the most amazing hotels in the world also have some pretty great casinos, perfect to crown not only your evenings, but also your honeymoon and, possibly, your luck!

Generally speaking, when it comes to super-luxury hotels, here are some of the best ones!

Hotel Palms, in Las Vegas

Hotel Palms, in Las Vegas


  • Hotel Palms, in Las Vegas, is probably one of the best and most amazing hotels you can find. Its rooftop suites, like the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, are simply breathtaking, with their rooftop Jacuzzi hanging over The Strip. And don’t forget that sin city is the best place for poker players! Of course, if you choose to go to Las Vegas for your honeymoon you might want to try playing some online poker in one of the most popular sites first before you enter a live poker room.

  • Paris…Paris! The Royal Suites at Hotel George V are simply amazing and absolutely romantic and elegant. Perfect if you want to feel like royalty!

  • Feeling oriental? The Ritz-Carlton Suite at Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo overviews the city for an unforgettable and luxurious stay in the Japanese capital.

    Villa La Cupola Suite at the Westin Excelsior in Rome

    Villa La Cupola Suite at the Westin Excelsior in Rome

  • If you want to go eternal, the Villa La Cupola Suite at the Westin Excelsior in Rome is the ultimate destination if you want a La Dolce Vita style honeymoon. You can even watch it during your stay, as you will have a private cinema, besides a private spa with sauna, whirlpool and steam bath.

  • The Emirates Palace, in Abu Dhabi, is also one of the most amazing a luxurioushotels in the world, with its 394 rooms and suites, uncountable pools and fountains, a spa and over 1000 crystal chandeliers. For a precious honeymoon.

    The Ritz-Carlton Suite at Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo

    The Ritz-Carlton Suite at Ritz-Carlton in Tokyo

  • If you’re opting for a Mediterranean destination, the Mardan Palace Hotel, in Turkey, is perfect for you. Built by Russian Billionaire Telman Ismailov, it prides the largest swimming pool in the Mediterranean (it fits 1000 guests) and it’s been appointed as one of the most elite luxury hotels in Europe. A real mediterranean diamond.

It Takes 96 People To Get Each BA Customer Into The Air

Air travel – it’s a simple as book, pack, fly. Or is it? Behind the scenes, there’s a whole army of people that come together to get each customer in the air. In fact, 96 people – as research from British Airways reveals.

To coincide with its latest ‘To Fly. To Serve’ campaign, British Airways has calculated the essential people involved in the customer journey in order to fly. It includes 96 different roles, across 18 different departments, using over 11 external suppliers in the process. The figures rise to 107 roles for premium customers – which can include the additional benefits of fast track boarding, lounge access and personal meet and

To illustrate the point, British Airways has created a montage image, using headshots of people across the airline, its suppliers and partners that represent each of the 96 roles, mixed in with hundreds of images from around the


Abigail Comber, British Airways head of marketing, said: “Our new TV advert shows the work that goes on behind the scenes, in order to get 100,000 people in the air every day. The research gave us a real appreciation for every single person that makes flying a seamless process. From the tug driver to the ramp agent, from NATS air traffic control to our chefs – there’s more people than you realise, that get you from A to Z.”

Looking at just one strand in the chain highlights this. For instance, the fish pie served to customers on board started out at Severn and Wye smokery in Gloucestershire, where fish is farmed. Meanwhile at Gate Gourmet in London, meal trays are assembled and dishes freshly prepared ahead of flying. Kuehne and Nagel deliver cutlery and tablewear for the meal trays. The menu has been considered for quality, taste and seasonality in advance by Mark Tazzioli, British Airways menu manager. On board a member of cabin crew prepares and delivers the meal. Once enjoyed, it’s returned to the aircraft kitchens and loaded into containers. When the aircraft lands, the containers are offloaded and returned to Gate Gourmet, and the process starts again.

Before flying there are 23 crucial roles behind the scenes working to ensure everything is in place for your flight. On the day you fly, there are 38 people that contribute directly to getting you in the air.

On board there’s an average flight team of 16 people, including cabin crew, Captains and Senior First Officers, and upon landing there’s 19 people that ensure your safe arrival.

On board a typical long-haul Boeing 747 flight, there will be 1,263 items of metal cutlery, 735 glasses, 233 toothpicks, 337 copies of High Life magazine, 2,000 ice cubes, 99 full bottles and 326 quarter bottles of wine, 58 toilet rolls, 337 donation envelopes to ‘Flying Start’ charity, and 40 skyflyer packs for children.

British Airways latest ‘To Fly. To Serve.’ TV advert launches on Friday 6 September at 11am on, and will then be shown on ITV during the ‘England versus Moldova’ World Cup qualifier. It follows a customer journey, showing close up shots of the intimate details of flying, panning to wide shots of the aircraft in motion. It draws contrasts between them both, showing the care and thought that goes into every part of their journey.

Walking in Symonds Yat, Forest of Dean

Symonds Yat

Symonds Yat

Something Britain prides itself on is its luscious and diverse countryside. If you are a lover of wandering amongst the natural beauty of Britain, Symonds Yat offers many walks with spectacular views.

Symonds Yat is a popular tourist destination just a few miles from the Welsh border and straddles the River Wye in the Forest of Dean (one of the few remaining ancient forests in Britain). Built across two counties, Symonds Yat East is situated in Gloucestershire and Symonds Yat West is in Hertfordshire.

Regardless of its popularity, there is an abundance of walks away from the crowds if you know where to look. Walk 3302 is an easy/moderate 4 mile walk that winds through the quieter High Meadow woods before taking you to Yat Rock viewpoint, the highlight of the day. Keep a compass about you as some of the footpaths along this walk are poorly marked and have several options.

At grid reference SO564156, a car park is located. A small track to the south runs along the B4432 for a few hundred metres before crossing the car park exit, taking you deep into the forest. Turn right along a forestry vehicle track when you approach the road and a telephone box. This track will take you across a stream where you will turn left at the fork and proceed along the main track (Wysis Way) heading due west towards Monmouth. Keep an eye out for an unmarked path bearing left, about ten minutes after joining the Wysis Way. Continue along this path, maintaining a westerly bearing until you reach the forestry road signposting The Biblins Campsite (ignore all the other paths up until this point or you will stray off the walk). Follow this broad path until you reach the River Wye where you will head right towards the Symonds Yat East village, keeping to the bank of the river.

When you reach the Saracen’s Head pub, you may wish to take a well-earned rest and meal before leaving the pub to the right, heading towards a small hotel. When you reach the fence, take the left path uphill and once out of the gorge, cross the small bridge to the car park where on the left will be a fantastic view point of the Welsh border and river Wye. Exit to the south and across the bridge where you will pass a gift shop and re-enter the car park you began from.

Walk 3302 is just one of many walks in this beautiful area, ranging from easy/moderate to very hard. For detailed information on other walks in the Symonds Yat area, see here.

Holiday in The Azores and watch European Surfing Championships 2013

The Azores Coastline

The Azores Coastline

The archipelago of the Azores will be a haven for surfers and water sport lovers this September as the largest island São Miguel gears up to host the European Surfing Championships 2013 for the first time from 13 to 21 September.

Otherwise known as Eurosurf, the competition will be staged on Santa Barbara beach in Ribeira Grande and will draw competitors and spectators from countries across Europe including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Scandinavia among others to the breathtaking natural beauty of the island’s north shore.

Chosen for their consistent and powerful surf all year round, the Azores are ideally situated in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean to offer surfers an array of good ground and wind swells which can reach an impressive 15 feet in the winter. The Championships, which include bodyboarding, longboarding, women’s and men’s surfing events, will be performed to the backdrop of lush green landscapes and imposing volcanoes, and in waters boasting a warm average water temperature of 20-24°C in summer.

Azores Beauty

Azores Beauty

As a curtain-raiser to Eurosurf, travellers can also experience the SATA Airlines Azores Pro (3-8 September), a world-class surfing competition and one of the most important surfing events in the Azores. Also based on Santa Barbara beach in Ribeira Grande, some of the world’s top surfers will travel to the islands to compete. Known as the ‘Hawaii of Europe’ to surfers, the Azores Islands offers an uncrowned setting with high quality and challenging waves. Other exciting water-based activities on offer in the Azores include sailing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, world-class whale watching, swimming with wild dolphins and scuba diving.

Azores Choice offers a 7 night surfing holiday to the Azores departing in September starting from just £789 per person.

Azores Choice offers a surfing experience from the north shore beach of Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel. Experienced surfers can hire surfing boards while beginners may choose to opt for introduction days where travellers can brush up on their skills. Price includes flights, accommodation, small car hire and board hire for the duration of the holiday. To book, visit or call 01768 775672.

SATA international ( run weekly direct flights run from London Gatwick to São Miguel until October.

To find out more about the Azores, please visit

What facilities are most important to holidaying silver surfers?

Over 50s Backpacking

Over 50s Backpacking

The popular stereotype would have you believe that younger people are all heading off to foreign climes in search of fun and adventure while the older generation are content to stay at home. In reality, the facts and figures don’t support this preconception. More than a third of holidays are taken by over 50s and they’re spending more on each trip than their younger counterparts.

Seniors are also getting more adventurous. The rise of the so called grey gappers has seen a steep increase in older travellers heading for far-flung backpackers’ favourites such as Thailand.

A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: “We’ve seen a rise in the number of over-50s booking trips to far-flung destinations once their children have left home and an increase in long-duration holidays, with some booking 21- and 42-night packages. It seems that travelling the world is no longer reserved for school leavers or college students.”

Not every older traveller is heading for the backpacker trail however and destinations like France, Spain and Portugal remain popular. Whatever the destination, the facilities valued by older travellers often differ from those required by a younger demographic. This could extend to local cultural attractions and available excursions but will also often involve health and mobility considerations.

Older travellers with mobility issues may have specific requirements regarding their sleeping area, bathroom and toilet. Walk in baths and easy-access showers can be paramount for some travellers to be able to attend their bathing and hygiene needs independently. Bed heights and accessibility can also be important. Older tourists often appreciate assistance with tasks such as carrying bags and staff who can provide good local information.

Basic accessibility in and around the accommodation are also important. The International Symbol of Access (ISA) features a picture of a wheelchair but it gives a good indication of levels of accessibility for anyone with mobility issues, not just wheelchair users.

Entrances should be fully accessible and, where ground floor accommodation is not available, safe and reliable lifts should be provided. This can extend beyond just the holidaymaker’s rooms. If a restaurant, cafe or entertainment facility is located elsewhere in the building, it should be just as accessible.

Great UK Beach Campsites

The Gower

The Gower

The British know a thing or two about holidays abroad but for many of us, one of the best things about living in the UK is the fantastic diversity of our coastline.  Well, we may not have the best weather but that does not deter us Brits from going out and making the most of our beautiful beaches.

Sadly, most authorities across the country will not allow camping on the beach itself but to be honest, the notion of waking up with sand in places you’d rather it didn’t is not the most thrilling.  There is a fantastic alternative of course and that is pitching your tent at a campsite by the beach.  But where should we go?  Here are ten top camping sites for you to make the most of.

1.  The Gower in Swansea is truly beautiful with incredible views and gorgeous beaches.  Three Cliffs Bay is a spectacular spot and its campsite has won awards such as “Number One View from a Campsite in the World”.  The campsite has excellent facilities and is close (but not too close!) to the city.

2.  Bay View campsite site in Cornwall is another wonderful camping spot, overlooking the beautiful Looe Bay.  There is a coast path situated by the entrance to the campsite and kids (and adults too!) will love the prize-winning Shire horses in the field opposite the site.  Facilities include ladies and gents toilets and shower blocks, as well as a laundry room.

3.  Trevornick, another Cornwall campsite, is situated within walking distance to Holywell beach and is five miles from

Cornish Coast

Cornish Coast

Newquay. Facilities at this site include heated swimming pool, health spa, kids club, golf course, fishing lake and a variety of shops and restaurants.  You can also take your dog!

4.  If you don’t mind carrying your items and walking lots, Seagull campsite on Herm Island, Guernsey is a beautiful site.  You cannot take cars onto Herm so will have to carry your items on the boat, but a tractor will meet you to transport your items to the campsite (which is huge).  There are spectacular beaches and being one of the Channel Islands, the climate is the warmest in Britain.

5. For surfing lovers, St David’s in Pembrokeshire is a great place to camp.  Lleithyr Farm campsite is situated half a mile from the beach, Whitesands and less than 2 miles from the Cathedral city of St David’s.  There is an onsite shop, good male and female showers and toilets, a launderette and Wi-Fi throughout the site.

6.  Clachtoll Beach campsite is situated in about 100 metres from the beach, five miles from the village Lochinver, Sutherland.  Facilities include toilet and shower facilities, laundry, sinks for dishwashing and dogs are welcome.  This area of outstanding natural beauty is not one to be missed!

7.  Manor Farm in Norfolk is another excellent campsite, a short walk from the beach and the seaside town of Cromer.  Great facilities and a good play area for children.

8.  For camping in Devon, Bolberry House Farm is a spacious camp site with beautiful sea views, situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty.  Easy walking distance to National Trust coastal paths and facilities include ladies and gents showers and toilets, utility area and a dishwashing room plus play area for children.

9.  Holburne Blue Anchor in Somerset has beautiful sea views on one side of the park country views on the other.  There are excellent facilities at this holiday park and plenty of fun activities for the family, including crazy golf, fishing, an indoor pool and an adventure playground.

10.  Take a trip to the Isles of Scilly and visit Troytown Farm campsite.  An absolutely stunning location with incredible views across the Atlantic. As well as the typical facilities at a campsite, there is the added benefit of secure lockers and power points.

If you don’t fancy lugging your own camping gear to this site, Troytown offers rentable canvas bell tents, fitted with air-beds, camping stove, cool box, table and chairs, kitchenware and even buckets and spades for the kids!

Article by Emma Walters.

Top 5 Horse Riding Holiday Hotspots in the UK

What better way to explore the British landscape than from the lofty perch of your own horse? Places to stay with your equine friend are dotted all across the country as horse riding holidays in the UK are becoming more popular. With a bit of cheap horse insurance and the required moving equipment, you can enjoy a top holiday in these five beautiful areas of Britain.




Discover the rural beauty of the Cumbrian countryside on horseback. The Bailey Mill which is located in the area, near to the Scottish border, is a small, family run holiday complex which caters for people and horses alike. The area is known for its traditional farming landscapes and its rich tapestry of wildlife and natural beauty spots. Nearby is the city of Carlisle which houses a spectacular cathedral, the picturesque Talkin Tarn Park and the historical Carlisle Castle. Enjoy a myriad of tea rooms, outdoor pursuits and family activities in Cumbria, including a trek through the Kershopp Forest or walks across the Bewcastle Fells.

Norfolk Suffolk

Norfolk Suffolk


Bring your horse on holiday to the Little Lodge Farm on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, complete with log cabins and stables. It is also a British Horse Society approved location so you can expect high quality. Cross through the countryside to the Norfolk broads to look out amongst pathways of river banks and lush views. Wander through the forests in the area or hire bikes to ride along country pathways to visit landmarks further afield. Give your horse a break with a day of sailing or hop onboard a steam train at the North Norfolk Railway for a tour of the countryside.




You can also opt to stay in the town of Gloucestershire which is steeped in history and tradition. Church Farm is another holiday hotspot which caters for you and your horse. Situated in the small hamlet of Abenhall, the tranquil environment is a perfect environment for your horse. Enjoy riding around its 50 acres of pastures before heading to the Forest of Dean. After a few days trekking through grassy meadows, cobbled towns and along country roads, visit Thornbury for a spot of paintballing and the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newent.

Bridgnorth, West Midlands

Bridgnorth, West Midlands

Bridgnorth, West Midlands

Take a trip to Bridgnorth in the West Midlands for a leisurely holiday overlooking the River Severn at The Dinney. This converted farmhouse is perfect for an idyllic setting, with jaunts to the nearby market towns. Near to Bridgnorth is the historical town of Shrewsbury which was the birthplace of Charles Darwin. Also nearby is Ironbridge, which is the known as the birthplace of industry, with the world’s first iron bridge. In between these towns are plenty of horse-friendly tracks and country roads leading to green open pastures and woods.

New Forest

New Forest

New Forest

Set within the heart of the New Forest, Granary Mead Cottage offers accommodation for people and horses. With beautiful flower-lined country pathways and lush, open grassland, the New Forest is a treat for both you and your pet. Amongst the green landscapes are traditional pubs and cafes in the village of Burley. If you feel that your horse could do with a day in the stables, head down to the Dorset coast around 30 minutes away in the car for beach fun.

SEO Birmingham by High Spider | In association with Travel Forum