The beautiful 200-year-old Domaine de Miauray offers peace and quiet in rural France

Peace and quiet is guaranteed in this 18th century restored French Domaine

Sunday 30 December

With the uncertainty over the Brexit negotiations still looming large, many Brits will still continue to head to the Continent for their annual holidays and what better way to spend it than in rural France. 

With many choosing the self-catering option and staying in traditional gites, now there's an added attraction as it's just as easy to spend time in an historic French chateau or a traditional Domaine. 

One couple have been working on a beautifully restored 18th century Domaine with its large gardens, private heated swimming pool and floodlit pétanque area for several years and it has only just become available to rent. 

Domaine de Miauray dates from around 1800 and has been renovated with authenticity while it has several spacious outbuildings and is set in a quiet hamlet location. It also means it's an ideal place to organise large family reunions or to accommodate many friends, as privacy and calm is assured along with the possibility of enjoying country walks or bike rides on some remarkably quiet French roads. 

The property is located near to the beautiful area of Marais Poitevin in Western France. It's a dedicated National Park region which incorporates nature reserves, tree-lined canals and many picturesque small towns and villages.

There are several local museums in the nearby town of Niort, while the popular Futuroscope Theme Park is a 50 minute drive away from the property. Just over an hour's drive away is the historic but lively city of La Rochelle and the famous beaches of Île de Ré. 

Capable of sleeping up to nine people, while the adults prepare a barbecue, there's plenty of space for youngsters to enjoy themselves. The Domaine has a large 12m swimming pool which is heated to a balmy 30 degrees – it also lights up once the sun goes down! – while there's a floodlit pétanque pitch, and a large games room with table tennis and darts for a rainy day.

There is also plenty of parking plus a spacious front and rear terrace while the property stands in a huge 4500 sq m² of private grounds. 

On the ground floor you will find an open kitchen with a wood burning stove leading to a large living room – two sofas and a sofa bed for two people – with a television and DVD player. 

 

There's a separate toilet off the kitchen while on the first floor you will find a bedroom with two single beds plus a bathroom featuring double basins, a shower and bath along with a second separate toilet.

On the second floor there is another large bedroom with a double bed plus a single bed and a separate bedroom with two singles.

For more details see Facebook page @domainedemiauray (English) or please contact: Ceris Stafford (English speaking) at cerisstafford@yahoo.co.uk or +33 6274 40175.


'Altos De Chavón' is an old Mediterranean style village located within the 7,000 acre Casa De Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic

Five-star holiday resort takes centre stage in this week's new BBC drama

Tuesday, 18 December

The BBC's adaptation of Andrea Levy's award winning novel 'The Long Song' is set to hit our screens tonight (18 December). The three-part period drama is set in 19th century Jamaica, but was filmed in the Dominican Republic including 'Altos De Chavón' in the Southeastern corner of the country.

'Altos De Chavón' is an old Mediterranean style village located within the 7,000 acre Casa De Campo Resort complex and was used to portray the Jamaican town of Falmouth. 

Visitors to the village will enjoy a very different experience to that seen in the drama. They can wander around the boutique shops, explore the museums & art galleries or head to the 5,000-seat Grecian-style amphitheatre inaugurated by Frank Sinatra in 1982. Global superstars still perform here and it boasts a long and illustrious list of guest artists ranging from Andrea Bocelli and Julio Iglesias, to Sting, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John and David Guetta.

After a day sightseeing, dine at 'La Piazzetta' Italian restaurant overlooking the village or head to the New 'Chilango' Mexican restaurant which opened only this week. Those staying a little longer can choose to get married in the charming St. Stanislaus Catholic church in the village square (which appears in the programme).

The new drama is not the resort's only claim to fame, the five star complex has attracted A-list celebrities and politicians for decades. In the 1970's it was regularly visited by Hollywood greats such as Michael Douglas, Henry Kissinger and even 'ole blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. More recent visitors including Naomi Watts, Justin Bieber, Jay-z and Beyonce, The Kardashian family, Rihanna, Richard Branson & Bill Clinton.

Away from Altos De Chavon, Casa De Campo has plenty to keep its guests busy, with three golf courses, 13 tennis courts, a 370-slip marina, private beach and polo and equestrian centre. Holidaymakers can stay at the five star hotel (a Leading Hotel Of The World) or in one of the numerous luxury villas on offer.

Seven nights on self catering basis including flights from Birmingham on 27 April 2019 currently costs from £1,662 per person (based on 2 sharing) a saving of £543 per person, with loveholidays.com.

The same holiday on all-inclusive basis currently costs from £2,442 per person, a saving of £370 per person. Return transfers are available for an additional £41.50 per person. Prices are correct at time of issue and subject to availability. To book visit www.loveholidays.com or call tel: 0203 870 6844.  

Further information on Altos De Chavón may be found at: //www.casadecampo.com.do/things-to-do/altos-de-chavon/

The drama starts on BBC1 on 18 December at 9pm and features an all star cast including Hayley Atwell and Lenny Henry. Episodes two and three will appear tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday.


Legoland opens a new fairy tale resort hotel

With Copenhagen named number one, Denmark's hotels get ready for 2019

As Copenhagen prepares to welcome more visitors following its recognition by Lonely Planet as the number one city to visit in 2019, it's responded with a boom in affordable hotels and the addition of 2,800 new hotel rooms across the city.

A further 8,500 rooms will be added over the next four years, adding to the existing 21,000 hotel rooms today. Whilst beyond the capital there's a new Castle Hotel for LEGOLAND Billund Resort opening in 2019 and more room stock in second city Aarhus as well as Aalborg, Sønderborg and along the Danish coast.

Copenhagen

The latest addition to the Danish capital's hotel scene launched in early December when Dutch chain Citizen M, added to its global footprint with the opening of its first Nordic hotel at Rådhuspladsen (Town Hall Square) in Copenhagen.

The new 4-star hotel will have 238 rooms within walking distance of Copenhagen Central Station, Tivoli Gardens, and the main shopping streets. Featuring a top-floor living-room lobby overlooking the historic city centre. Prices start from £89 per room per night (BB).

Copenhagen's biggest hotel group Arp-Hansen launched its latest addition to the cool, budget WakeUp Hotel concept in October. With 585 rooms the hotel has minimalistic, high quality features designed by renowned Danish architect Kim Utzon and a great location on Bernstorffsgade, close to the harbour and many of the city centre's main attractions. Prices start from £80 per room per night (BB).

A further new addition in September saw the opening of the 370 bedroom at the Scandic Hotel in Kødbyen, the trendy meatpacking district of Copenhagen. The centrally located, contemporary hotel with impressive Danish interior design, a laid back urban vibe and its own restaurant MØR is a new creative and culinary hot-spot in the city. Prices start from £118 per room per night (BB).

Meanwhile, the Scandic Falkoner, in the Frederiksberg district is undergoing a major refurbishment and is scheduled to reopen in August 2019 with 440 rooms and conference facilities. Prices start from £128 per room per night.

The fun and youthful Marriott franchise 'Moxy' is also set to open in March 2019 with a cool new 3-star Moxy Copenhagen Hotel in Scandiagade, south of the city centre. The Moxy experience will begin with a complimentary Got Moxy cocktail on arrival in the “bright and buzzing” lobby and 228 millennial-focused bedrooms will combine bold design and affordable style in a collaboration with IKEA. 

Adding to its choice of five existing Copenhagen properties Guldsmeden Hotel is opening its sixth and largest hotel at Copenhagen's Islands Brygge in 2019. In keeping with the rest of the eco-conscious group its organic restaurant and 214 bedrooms will follow uncompromising sustainable principles with a maritime theme influenced by its Copenhagen canal location. Prices start from £130 per room per night.

The Brøchner hotel group is also adding to its property portfolio with the opening of Hotel Ottilia in January 2019. Scheduled to open on the site of the old iconic Carlsberg brewery the new 4-star hotel has 156 rooms and luxury suites, a restaurant with a rooftop terrace and view of the city, conference facilities and two bars. Prices start from £119 per room per night.

Aarhus

Beyond the Danish capital the Brøchner hotel chain is also set to open its very first boutique hostel in the centre of Aarhus in 2019. Located in a former library in Mølleparken 560-bed hostel will have an outdoor area, social spaces and a food court.

In late 2019 Radisson Red Aarhus, the new creative brand from the Radisson Hotel Group inspired by music, art and fashion, will open in Aarhus with 78 rooms, a restaurant, gym, and a meeting space. Located in the centre of the city it will be close to both the retail street, main attractions and the historic latin quarter with its numerous bars and cafes. The main railway station is within walking distance and there will be easy access to the airport (approximately 40km away). Prices start from £87 per room per night.

The impressive Svinkløv Badehotel on North Jutland

LEGOLAND Billund Resort

For families planning their visit to the original home of LEGO a brand new fairy-tale themed hotel opens at LEGOLAND Billund Resort at the end of March 2019. The new Castle Hotel will feature 142 bedrooms with space to 710 would-be Dragon Knights, Wizards and Princesses to live out their dreams in specially themed rooms spread out over two buildings. In addition, there will be a family restaurant with seating for 300 diners, an indoor play area in the restaurant and a large outdoor playground. Prices start from £422 for a family room which sleeps up to five (BB).

Aalborg

Meanwhile in January 2019 the new budget chain Zleep Hotel is opening a 126-bedroom hotel right next door to the train station in the centre of Aalborg. With great value rates and good quality rooms the hotel is well positioned for tourists and business travellers alike. Prices start from £59 per room per night.

Sønderborg

May 2019 will see the opening of the new Hotel Alsik in Sønderborg's old industrial harbour district. The whole site has been transformed by inspirational Canadian born architect, Frank Gehry, into a new city quarter with unique architecture. The master plan was initiated in 2009 and in under ten years the majority of the project has been realised with the new quarter becoming known at Byens Havn (City Harbour).

The 190-bedroom Alsik Hotel has been designed by Henning Larsen Architects with two hotel towers, respectively 19 and 70 metres high, and will be run by the German company RIMC. There will be three restaurants with one overseen by Chef Jesper Kock from Det Glade Vanvid in Aarhus and conference facilities for up to 400 people.

Seaside

Away from the city on the North Sealand coast in Hornbaek the hotel Hornbækhus reopened earlier this summer (June 2018) following an extensive renovation and is seeing both locals and guests coming together over dinner for a shared meal served on its long wooden tables. Prices start from £94 per room per night.

The hotel's little sister Villa Strand has also reopened following a complete renovation. The white villa offers 15 en suite rooms with breakfast served at Hornbækhus and it's perfectly located on the sand dunes at Hornbaek with direct access from the garden to the beach. Prices start from £94 per room per night.

Meanwhile Svinkløv Badehotel on the North Jutland coast near Blokhus is one of Denmark's most iconic seaside hotel. The large wooden structure has been completely restored following a devastating fire in 2016. Now back to its former glory, the 36-bedrooms (now all en-suite) will reopen in spring 2019. Prices start from £200 per room per night.

Looking ahead to 2020 there is news of the Hilton group returning to Copenhagen with a prominent quayside location for a new upmarket hotel; the first hotel in the Danish capital for the Comwell group with a new 484 bedroom in Nordhavn; a new 12-storey hotel in Viborg and the for those who might like a night in the nick – the old police station in the genteel north Jutland seaside town of Skagen is being transformed into a 150 bedroom hotel.

For further information see www.visitdenmark.co.uk


The BBC Countryfile presenters will be at Castle Howard next August

Shearings to link up with BBC Countryfile Live at Castle Howard

Monday, 18 November

Next year, BBC Countryfile Live is heading north for the first time, to Castle Howard in Yorkshire. A second event will be staged from 15 -18 August 2019, two weeks after the hugely popular Blenheim Palace show in Oxfordshire, which runs from 1-4 August 2019.

Tickets have just gone on sale and Shearings Holidays has launched a new five-day coach tour, so fans of the TV show can make a short break of it.  

This new event will represent the best of the northern countryside and celebrate regional farming. Showcasing the wide variety of Yorkshire food and drink, stunning rural destinations and superb attractions that this region is known for, the BBC Countryfile presenters will also be onsite alongside a whole host of exhibitions and experiences! 

A five-day package departing 12 August 2019 costs from £289 per person including all coach travel from various pick up points around the UK, four nights half-board at the Bay Royal Hotel in Whitby, a full day at BBC Countryfile Live at Castle Howard and a half-day trip to Scarborough.

Based on two sharing. For those who would prefer to attend the Blenheim Palace dates, Shearing Holidays has package on sale for this event also.  0344 874 8220 www.shearings.com


"We're on our way", one of the crews set off down The Mall on their way to Brighton

Veterans wow huge crowds on historic route to Brighton 

Sunday, 4 November

Pioneering vehicles make their annual pilgrimage from capital to coast on the world’s longest running motoring event 

As an unseasonably mild London was still covered by darkness, nearly 400 pioneering veteran cars, their intrepid drivers and plucky passengers gathered in Hyde Park today (Sunday 4th November) waiting for daybreak to signal the start of the remarkable Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run supported by Hiscox.  

It’s now more than 120 years since the original Emancipation Run, which was held in 1896 to celebrate the recently passed Locomotives on Highways Act. This raised the speed limit for ‘light locomotives’ from 4 to 14 mph and abolished the need for a man to walk ahead waving a red flag.  

Symbolising that new found freedom, the annual Run always commences with the symbolic tearing of the red flag – a ritual pre-dawn feat this year performed by supermodel and car enthusiast Yasmin Le Bon representing The Movember Foundation and Red Bull'sF1 team boss Christian Horner who was joined at the finish by his Spice Girl wife Geri and young family.

Then, at 06:59am sunrise, the first of the pre-1905 horseless carriages was flagged away from the start with the earliest of the Victorian vehicles leading the way as they phutted and hissed their way through Wellington Arch, down Constitution Hill, past Buckingham Palace and Admiralty Arch and Whitehall into Parliament Square. Here, for the first time in its 122-year history the 60-mile route split into two, thus alleviating traffic congestion in South London.

Half of the plucky participants travelled over Westminster Bridge and then followed the traditional A23 route via Kennington, Brixton and Streatham Common; the other half left via Millbank, over Lambeth Bridge then journeyed via Vauxhall, Clapham Common and Tooting.

The two routes merged on the A236 just north of Croydon with the entire magical cavalcade reunited as it headed to the spectator-friendly halfway point in Crawley High Street, the South Downs and eventually the Madeira Drive seafront in Brighton. In total, 117 different marques ranging from Achilles (built in Frome, Somerset) to Yale (from Toledo in Ohio, US) were represented on this year’s Run – some, like Chevrolet, Renault and Mercedes, still well-known today, but the vast majority lost to history.

Many cars and crews sported moustaches in support of Movember, the event’s official Charity Partner. In total, nearly ninety per cent of the starters made it to Brighton before the 4.30pm deadline to claim a coveted finishers’ medal – just 44 of the starters failing to reach the sea front.

The first car home was the 1901 Oldsmobile of Andres Melkus from Austria arriving on Madeira Drive. Next across the line was Tom Loder driving a 1900 Stephens.


You will enjoy some of the world's top hotels on this Freddie Mercury Experience holiday

The Zanzibar Collection's Freddie Mercury Experience Will Rock You

Following the recent release of the film Bohemian Rhapsody, featuring Queen's legendary front man Freddie Mercury played by actor Rami Malek, comes news of a fabulous luxury holiday with a rock music theme.

This is the real life, not just fantasy. With The Zanzibar Collection's Freddie Mercury Experience, you can escape from reality to the beautiful African island that gave birth to a music legend. Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar, and this special trip combines the best of the Spice Island with highlights of the Queen singer's life and a luxurious holiday getaway.

You'll feel like a champion on the six-day Freddie Mercury Experience as you settle into your room at the sumptuous Baraza Resort & Spa (www.baraza-zanzibar.com), situated on a beautiful beach and the only hotel in Africa to be voted number 25 in the world. The next day, you'll be taken to nearby Breezes Beach Club & Spa (www.breezes-zanzibar.com) for a day of watersports and lounging around the spa and pool – a real treat, whether you're with somebody you love or your best friend.

Don't stop now, you're having such a good time! You'll be taken on a tour of UNESCO-listed Stone Town to find out about this historical city's fascinating past, plus a peek at the places important to Mercury, including where he was born and the streets he played on as a child. Later, you'll enjoy sunset cocktails with ocean views.

If that rocks you, you're in for a treat the next day when you go on a Queen-themed tour of the island. You'll see some of Zanzibar's exotic wildlife from the comfort of your shuttle as you listen to Queen's greatest hits. Then you'll visit a market to gather the ingredients to prepare one of Mercury's favourite meals.

Feeling under pressure? A relaxing day off with a 30-minute massage and a local cooking class should get you ready to ride your Baraza bicycle where you like on the island. Or just be cool and relax. 

The following day is something guaranteed to blow your mind. After a mangrove visit, spice tour and dinner at the exclusive Palms private resort (www.palms-zanzibar.com), you'll go onto the beach for a bonfire, complete with Queen music.  

After a final day of snorkelling and sunbathing, we think you'll agree that the whole trip has been a kind of magic.

This special trip is available to book from October 2018 onwards. The six-day Freddie Mercury Experience with The Zanzibar Collection costs from €2,400, based on two people sharing, and includes:

• 5 nights at the five-star Baraza Resort & Spa

• All-inclusive stay, with most meals at Baraza Resort, plus dinners at Breezes Beach Club and The Palms and cocktails at Africa House.

• Complimentary return airport transfers

• Tanzanian visas

• Tours of Stone Town, the island and mangroves.

• Air-conditioned shuttles for the tours

• One 30-minute massage

RESERVATIONS

The Zanzibar Collection www.thezanzibarcollection.com + 254 702 466 115