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It’s Brexitement! Boom, not gloom, for holiday sales

January has begun with an avalanche of spectacularly good news confounding Brexit doom-mongers.

Exports are booming, the FTSE is at an all time high and the Bank of England has admitted its economic predictions were as accurate as Mr Fish’s weather forecasts.

Holidaymakers too, seem full of confidence. They’ve been rushing to book their getaways with travel firms reporting strong enquiries since Boxing Day and best ever bank holiday sales at New Year. (Travel Weekly).

Our travel managers are also burning the midnight oil with record bookings flooding in.

Many thanks for your friendly recommendations. We look forward to assisting you and your family, friends and colleagues in 2017.

Also in this issue: It’s the season to be wary if you are thinking of booking accommodation online.

Scam rental sites pop up at this time of year to entice innocent holiday-
makers into parting with their money like the families in our story below.

Despite annual warnings from ABTA and the police, fraud is up by a massive 425%.

It’s Brexitement! Boom, not gloom, for 2017 holiday sales

January has begun with an avalanche of spectacularly good news confounding Brexit doom-mongers.

Exports are booming, the FTSE is at an all time high and the Bank of England has admitted its economic predictions were as accurate as Mr Fish’s weather forecasts.

Holidaymakers too, seem full of confidence. They’ve been rushing to book their getaways with travel firms reporting strong enquiries since Boxing Day and best ever bank holiday sales at New Year. (Travel Weekly).

Our travel managers are also burning the midnight oil with record bookings flooding in.

Many thanks for your friendly recommendations. We look forward to assisting you and your family, friends and colleagues in 2017.

Also in this issue: It’s the season to be wary if you are thinking of booking accommodation online.

Scam rental sites pop up at this time of year to entice innocent holiday-
makers into parting with their money like the families in our story below.

Despite annual warnings from ABTA and the police, fraud is up by a massive 425%.

Previously...

It’s Brexitement! Boom, not gloom, for 2017 holiday sales

January has begun with an avalanche of spectacularly good news confounding Brexit doom-mongers.

Exports are booming, the FTSE is at an all time high and the Bank of England has admitted its economic predictions were as accurate as Mr Fish’s weather forecasts.

Holidaymakers too, seem full of confidence. They’ve been rushing to book their getaways with travel firms reporting strong enquiries since Boxing Day and best ever bank holiday sales at New Year. (Travel Weekly).

Our travel managers are also burning the midnight oil with record bookings flooding in.

Many thanks for your friendly recommendations. We look forward to assisting you and your family, friends and colleagues in 2017.

Also in this issue: It’s the season to be wary if you are thinking of booking accommodation online.

Scam rental sites pop up at this time of year to entice innocent holiday-
makers into parting with their money like the families in our story below.

Despite annual warnings from ABTA and the police, fraud is up by a massive 425%.

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The two things you always find in Kelly Holmes' suitcase

Double Olympic golden girl talks to DialAFlight about her holiday highs and lows.

Since retiring from competitive running after winning two Olympic gold medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics, Dame Kelly Holmes admits that her feet have hardly touched the ground as she travels the world as an ambassador for the sport of athletics.

Add all this jet setting to regular appearances on high profile celebrity TV shows and you can see why the former 800m and 1,500m champion takes some catching up with these days.

So DialAFlight was delighted when Dame Kelly took time out to speak to our Caroline McGuire at the launch of One Warwick Park, a new luxury hotel in Tunbridge Wells.

Although her family home is in nearby Pembury, Kent born Dame Kelly spends most of her time these days globetrotting and revealed some of her favourite holiday memories, pet hates and top vacation destinations.

She said: "Over the years I've stayed in hundreds of hotels for my job and I really love the breakfasts - it's great waking up and it's all prepared for you. But I don't like beds that are lumpy and I can’t stand the smell of smoke if someone has had a sneaky fag as my eyes swell up like balloons."

Asked about her favourite destination, she said: "I love South Africa. I trained there as an athlete and have been going back every year since 1993. The Stellenbosch area where all the vineyards are is just incredible - not just for the wine but the beauty of the landscape."

I asked Dame Kelly if she had ever had a holiday she would rather forget and she said: " I went to Singapore with a group of girlfriends and got a really bad abscess in my mouth, so had to have two of my teeth taken out.

My face was all swollen, I was on really strong painkillers, I could hardly eat and just had to stay in the hotel room all day while my friends were having a lovely time."

Although she is a super sportswoman, Dame Kelly also revealed that she wouldn't go on an adrenaline junkie's holiday. She said: "I wouldn’t go bungee-jumping for example, I like my legs too much. And I’d have a heart attack on the way down. I am not a resort person either, I want to see the area I’m staying in and can’t stand the idea of travelling a long way just to sit in a hotel."

When I asked Dame Kelly if she packed any essentials in her holiday suitcase she was quick to reply. "I spend my life packing and repacking suitcases for different trips and I always make sure I have my hair tongs with me, just in case I go somewhere fancy. And my gym gear. Being on holiday is a great time to get fit, so most days I go for a workout or a run around the local area."

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How fake rental sites are ruining family holidays

The Hoopers learnt a lesson to book holidays from reputable travel companies only

Travel fraud from fake websites is up 425% year on year with holidaymakers being duped out of millions of pounds say the City of London police.

ABTA has launched a nationwide advertising campaign to warn of the dangers and it appears that villa rental websites are a particular problem with one family losing almost £4000 on a holiday to Tenerife reported the Daily Mail.

And a family arriving in Lanzarote looking forward to a New Year’s holiday found their £2800 villa was bogus. They were stranded at Arrecife airport when no-one met them and they were unable to contact anyone from the "luxury canarian rentals" website so they had no option but to check into a hotel.

The following day they found the island was fully booked over the New Year holiday and had to fly home to Brighton – spending another £1000 on travel expenses.

Mother of two Nicky Hooper told the Metro newspaper: ‘We were in shock and could not believe what was happening. Everyone was upset but the children were particularly sad.’

‘We want to warn others against this so that they don’t have to go through what we did.’

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Teabag drama at Heathrow as BA bans food on short flights

Enjoy a cup of tea before you board

A British Airways passenger was allegedly told by staff that using multiple teabags in a guest lounge at Heathrow Airport was ‘banned.’

The company was forced to apologise after a waitress is said to have told a customer he could use ‘only one tea bag at a time and for lounge consumption only.’

Writing on blog flyertalk the disgruntled traveller explained how he tried to blend an elderflower darjeeling and an elderflower apple teabag in a cup with boiling water.

However, he claimed to have looked up to see the hostess watching him before she walked over to ‘inform him’ of the policy, the Telegraph reported.

Fellow flyers also accused BA of being petty over the restrictions on use of teabags after reading the blog post.

A BA spokeswoman said customers were free to use as many teabags as they wish in the Company’s airport lounges.

She told the newspaper: ‘As Brits we have strong feelings about how we like our tea, so we’re disappointed that someone would dare to stand in the way of our customer producing the perfect cuppa. We’d like to assure all our customers that they are, of course, free to blend their tea as they wish.’

BA this week stopped offering complimentary food and drinks in economy class cabins on short haul routes to Europe. They will offer a menu in partnership with Marks & Spencer and items can be purchased only by credit or debit card. Not cash.

And don’t think you can save money by sneaking your own teabags on board - we hear BA will be charging for a cup of hot water!

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My best holiday ever

Bob interviewed the Beach Boys on Santa Monica beach

Top DJ 'Whispering' Bob Harris gets vocal about hanging out with the Beach Boys and holidaying with Cynthia Lennon in Mallorca

What was your first holiday experience?
For my parents, foreign travel was way in the future when I was growing up. The 1950s and 60s offered three holiday destinations - Pontardawe in south Wales, which took about 12 hours in a cramped Austin 7, Bournemouth or Cromer.

When was your first holiday abroad?
I didn't actually leave the country until 1970, when I was 24 years old. Of course, it was for a gig - a band called Centipede were playing in central France. That was also my first time on an aeroplane and the whole experience was exotic to the max.

Where did you go next?
Even though I had started working for Radio 1, and was also doing The Old Grey Whistle Test by then, I didn't leave these shores again for another three years. It is difficult to explain how out of the norm foreign travel was back then. Luckily, that next trip was to America, a country that assumed mythical status for music fans like me.

What were the highlights?
I interviewed the Beach Boys on Santa Monica Beach, I was hanging out with Alice Cooper on Sunset Strip and Los Angeles was at its rock 'n' roll peak and the place didn't seem to have any boundaries or morals. Joni Mitchell and her mates were living it up in Laurel Canyon and Led Zeppelin were at the Hyatt House hotel - I was in musical paradise.

What about Europe?
In the winter of 1978 I got really ill and ended up spending three months in Ibiza, just north of San Miguel. Back then, the party scene hadn't really kicked off and it was a wonderfully tranquil, spiritual and sensual island.

Your best family holiday?
When my third wife Trudie and I took the kids to Barbados. I'm not normally good at relaxing on holiday but that place seems to demand that you slow down and take things easy.

Favourite places to stay
The Seychelles, where Trudie and I honeymooned in 1993 was probably the friendliest place I have ever been in my life and we love our occasional trips to Mallorca, where we used to stay with our friend Cynthia Lennon. Can you imagine sitting under brilliant blue skies, listening to tales of John and the Beatles in the early days? Cynthia was the perfect holiday companion.

For the full interview go to Sunday Times online

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What people are saying

A selection of customer comments from Trustpilot

Speedy, professional, efficient - and you speak to humans!

I have been dealing with DialAFlight for several years and find it incomparably more efficient than trawling around various websites. I travel quite frequently to the Middle East, to India, to Europe and America often at short notice. I need to get tickets organised quickly. As it says on the box, you get through to a human being immediately on the phone and they know exactly what they are doing. They understand the routes, the aircraft, the tickets - really seamless. And they have very often found better prices than I could achieve online. I have mostly dealt with Josh, who is exceptional, but the standard of staff who help out when Josh is unavailable is always high. This is one field in which I can see human beings winning back market share from the machines - and rightly so!

John Watson gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot.

Sparkling footnote: John's name was pulled out of the hat in our monthly Trust Pilot draw and a case of Prosecco is on its way.

Even a rail strike in Peru couldn’t mar this spectacular DialAFlight trip

Just returned from a wonderful trip to Peru, the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest. We gave Glen the basic requirements and he used his knowledge and personal experience to put together the perfect, well balanced tour for us. A rail strike in Peru affected our schedule but Glen, and the local agents, rapidly reorganised out itinerary so that we missed nothing. Everything ran like clockwork and the standards of the hotels, and Galapagos cruise ship, were way above anything the brochures offered, and at a better price. We always call Glen at DialAFlight first.

Barry Hayers gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

Wayne picked the perfect hotels and locations for our family rendezvous

We were recommended to DialAFlight by a friend who has used them regularly and we couldn't have asked for a better service from Wayne. We were meeting up with our two boys and their girlfriends who are travelling the world, but we didn't know where to meet, so with Wayne's help we came up with Kuala Lumpur for 2 nights and Koh Samui for Xmas! It was all perfect. The hotels were great with central locations and easy to get to and around the area. We loved it and when we plan our next trip we will use this outstanding company for their services again. I downloaded their app so had everything I needed at the touch of a button which was incredibly convenient and even abroad I emailed Wayne with a query and he came straight back with an answer for us. So I would say give them a ring and use them, they make booking a holiday easy and very stress free!

Amanda Benson gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

I thought DialAFlight must be too good to be true

For the last 30 years we have always booked holidays through big named travel agents but their spiralling costs made me start looking for an alternative. When I was invited to a friend’s 50th in Johannesburg I came across DialAFlight, gave them a call and spoke to Mason. Being of a sceptical nature I decided not to take up the flights he offered me initially as I had that 'if it seems too good to be true, it probably is' going round in my head.

After spending another week (or should say wasting a week) reading reviews on DialAflight I phoned Mason back and went through everything again. I wanted to fly from Manchester. I wanted a quality airline. The three of us must be sat together on all legs of the flight. I didn't want any long stopovers and I wanted it at a good price.

I found Mason super helpful, easy to talk to and good fun to boot. We had a long chat about the various flights on offer and in the end we chose Emirates which had only a 2 hour stopover in Dubai. Mason did explain that this is not the quickest route, however lots of leg room and quality service on a nice aircraft make up for all of that as far as I am concerned. Plus it was brilliant value. I would recommend DialAFlight and Mason to anyone.

Neil Slack gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot

Read more reviews at the Trustpilot website

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This month's new hotels

Four Seasons Voavah Island

Four Seasons Voavah Island – The Maldives

The first exclusive-use UNESCO hideaway, Voavah is a private island Maldives resort, a luxury yacht and a marine territory that can be entirely your own. Retreat to secluded bliss, expand your horizons and marvel in superb Four Seasons service as you bask in the Maldivian sunshine on a white-powder beach. Comprising of just seven suites and villas, this enchanting escape accommodates 24 adults (plus space for kids) and brings you all to the calm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean – perfect for discovering vibrant reef and partaking in exhilarating water sports.

Fifty House

Fifty House – Milan

A newly-opened design hotel in the heart of marvellous Milan, Fifty House boasts an environment that is luxurious and cosy, yet informal at the same time. Featuring large, cosy spaces you can’t help but feel special surrounded by modern furnishings and contemporary style in this historic building that was once an ancient boarding school. Emerge from this chic hotel and find yourself in a central location, just 400 meters from Piazza Cinque Giornate, one of Milan’s most famous and important squares.

The Rosewood Phuket

The Rosewood Phuket – Thailand

The picturesque Emerald Bay provides a secluded setting for the Rosewood Phuket’s innovative architecture, featuring subtle Thai influences to make it blend organically into the inviting hillside forest landscape. Uninterrupted views of the stunning Andaman Sea are visible from all 71 spacious villas and 32 residences at the resort, an indicator of where the beach-based Thai seafood restaurant gets its local flavour from. A blissful infinity pool, decadent wellness center and fabulous beach cap off this remarkable retreat.

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What's on offer?

Our top 6 money savers you can't afford to miss

SAVE 25% on a 5* Greek getaway at The Romanos

Sitting peacefully on the pristine sands of Navarino Dunes, 5* The Romanos is a Luxury Collection Resort surrounded by alluring scenery with olive groves, indigenous trees as well as golf landscapes next to the sparkling turquoise waters of the Dunes Beach. Stay for 7 nights and save 25% in a deluxe garden view room with breakfast, flying with British Airways. 7 nights from £899pp when you travel 25 May - 14 June.

Self-drive California and SAVE 10%

For the ultimate Californian adventure, jump in a car and experience this great 15 day tour which begins and ends in Los Angeles. As well as visiting the cities of San Francisco and Las Vegas, you will stop at Santa Barbara, San Simeon and Monterey, as well as driving through beautiful Yosemite National Park and along the spectacular Pacific coast. Save 10% with our offer which includes 14 nights accommodation, car hire and discounted flights with British Airways, all from £1355pp. Valid for travel 1 April - 21 June.

SAVE 50% at The Landings St Lucia

This 5 star resort combines all the privacy of your own luxury villa with the facilities and services of a 5 star hotel. The resort offers lavish multi-room villa suites, a 800ft beach as well as a harbour community offering a range of activities along with total relaxation. Save 50% with our offer which includes 7 nights in a One Bedroom Marina View Villa Suite, daily breakfast and discounted flights with British Airways from £1499pp. Valid for travel 11 May - 23 June.

Combine Costa Rica with Nicaragua and save £100pp

Two into one goes very nicely on this 15 day tour of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. You will see extraordinary natural wonders, including a tropical rainforest, wide plains, an active volcano, outstanding mountains and great beaches. And while in the neighbouring country of Nicaragua you visit the colonial capital of Leon, home to a mighty cathedral, and Granada, which is one of Latin America's most beautiful colonial cities. Save £100pp with our offer which includes 14 nights accommodation, transportation and flights from £2875pp. Valid May & June.

Dubai desert and The Maldives – Save over £1700pp

Surround yourself in desert luxury on your way to the Maldives with this two-stop holiday. Start with 3 nights for the price of 2 at 5* Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa with full board included before 7 nights of luxury beach bliss at The Residence, Maldives. Here you’ll receive 2 FREE nights as well as discounted rates saving you over £1700pp. Flights are included with Emirates from a choice of UK airports. 10 nights from £2999pp when you travel in May.

A pristine paradise in Australia – Save over £400 pp

Make like Martin Clunes to pristine Lord Howe Island which was the focal point of the most recent episode of ITV’s “Islands of Australia”. Our trip takes you to the island’s most luxurious hotel, 5* Capella Lodge, where you’ll be spoilt with a bottle of Champagne on arrival as well as sunset drinks with canapés each evening and nightly dinner. Stop over in Sydney on your way and enjoy 4 nights for the price of 3 at The Langham. 9 nights from £3549pp including full board at Capella Lodge and transfers. Valid for May & June travel.

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10 things we didn't know last month

1. Sticker to the rules in Paris

With Paris choked by the worst winter pollution in a decade, new rules will require all drivers, including British motorists, to display a sticker showing their vehicle's emission levels. From January 16, vehicles older than 20 years will be banned from driving within the Peripherique ring road between 8am and 8pm. All other vehicles, including motorcycles, must display the sticker or face fines of 68 euros. You can apply for a sticker, which costs £3.60, at certificat-air.gouv.fr.

2. Another lesson learned over school holidays

The government campaign against term time holidays has just suffered another setback when a court in Swindon, Wilts, threw out £60 fines imposed on three local families after it found that the children met the thresholds for minimum school attendance. The borough council said it would now "reconsider the instances in which penalty notices are issued.

3. Cannabis cafe is weeded out

The oldest coffee shop in Amsterdam closed its doors for the final time on New Year's Eve as part of a crackdown on cannabis cafes in the Dutch capital. "It was the worst day of my life," said Johnny Petram, owner of Mellow Yellow. "It was the oldest coffee shop in the city, and now it has gone." Opened in 1967, Mellow Yellow found fertile ground in a grey area of Dutch drug law and blazed a trail for hundreds of other coffee shops to follow. The establishment is one of 28 in Amsterdam to be affected by legislation that prohibits coffee shops located within 250 metres of a school.

4. When in Rome, don't go by coach

The city's historic centre is off limits to tourist coaches

After banning costumed Roman soldiers and rickshaws, the somewhat prickly mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, has now declared that the city's historic centre is off limits to tourist coaches. Local travel companies say this could be disastrous for business, arguing that public transport in the Italian capital is much too confusing for visitors.

5. Crime doesn't pay if you want to go to America

A leading immigration lawyer has claimed that a stricter approach by the US authorities could make it harder for millions of travellers with minor criminal records to enter America. Nita Upadhye of the London based firm NNU Immigration, said that tightened rules and more rigorous checks at immigration counters could mean that those given police cautions for minor offences, or with driving bans, might be denied an Esta under the visa-waiver scheme. Instead they would be forced to apply for a full visa at the American embassy.

6. £32m for a load of bilge

Princess Cruises has been hit with a record £32m fine for dumping polluted waste at sea. The case came to light after a whistle blower alerted authorities to the use of a 'magic pipe' to discharge thousands of gallons of oil-contaminated bilge water from the Caribbean Princess vessel. Ships from the fleet of its parent company, Carnival, are now subject to a court-supervised environmental compliance order.

7. High fliers may get in a strop over St Trop

St Tropez has placed a ban on private jet flights

The likes of Simon Cowell and Sir Philip Green may have to 'slum it' to the French Riviera on public flights with the rest of us after St Tropez placed a ban on private jet flights from countries outside the Schengen zone. The ban, which follows the closure of the airport's customs office, has affected high rollers from Russia, the Middle East and Britain, whose planes account for up to 30 per cent of flights going in and out of the trendy destination.

8. Weigh passengers to calculate luggage allowance

Nearly 40% of British travellers believe airlines should take a passenger’s weight into consideration when setting luggage allowances, a survey suggests. And many of those questioned said that making sure their suitcase did not exceed an airline's weight restrictions was the most stressful element of travel. Exceeding a baggage allowance can sometimes lead to eye-watering charges.

9. Disney tops your picture posts

Instagram’s most photographed locations of 2016 were Disney’s resorts in Orlando and California reports the photo sharing website. These were followed by Florida's Universal Studios and Central Park in New York. Paris's Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were the only European inclusions in the top 10, placed fifth and sixth. The remainder were all in the United States. Britain's top 10 Instagrammed locations were, not surprisingly, all in London with Tower Bridge taking top spot, followed by the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace.

10. Killer Whale shows killed off

Following complaints about cruelty in animal shows at tourist destinations around the world - as reported in last month's Insight - the Killer Whale shows at SeaWorld in San Diego, California, have been cancelled. The closure of the long-running and controversial orca performances comes after years of pressure from animal rights activists, but the shows will still go on at Orlando and San Antonio until 2019. The shows at San Diego will be replaced by an Orca Encounter that will focus on research, education, care and respect.

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