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Holiday

The 5 best family lodges in Tanzania – A Luxury Travel Blog

As we know, holiday plans around the world are on hold at the moment due to Covid-19. What better way to get through these troubling times, than to look forward to when this is all over and we can take that family holiday we have been dreaming of. I cannot think of many better countries in the world to enjoy a once in a lifetime family holiday, than in the wild safari parks of Tanzania. Here is a run down of my favourite family friendly lodges on the continent.

Ikuka

Ikuka is perched up high amongst the towering Ruaha baobabs. From your room and the main area, you have stunning views of the park below. The atmosphere is what sets Ikuka apart from all the other lodges in Tanzania; being owner-ran it is truly intimate, and offers a timeless safari experience. If you would like your family to have an authentic safari with amazing guides, a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful big rooms then Ikuka is for you. The wildlife in Ruaha is also exceptional, and you should look at visiting in our summer months of July – October when the park bursts to life and the wildlife is best. Its authenticity means that Ikuka is fairly open-plan, so is probably better for families with teenagers rather than very young children.

Nomad Lamai

Nomad Lamai is a beautiful lodge set in the iconic Kjopes of the northern Serengeti. Aside from the world class Serengeti wildlife, this lodge is particularly appealing for families because of the seperate private property which you can have all to yourself; Mkombe House. Here, you have one of the most enviable family holidays on the continent. Time it right, and your game drives could be filled with hundreds of wildebeest in the Great Migration hurtling themselves across the Mara River (which is just on your doorstep). To be in with a chance of witnessing the river crossings, you must stay at Nomad Lamai from July to October when the wildebeest are (usually!) in the area.

Sand Rivers

The watery and blissful Selous Game Reserve is only a short 45 minute hop from the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar. A combination of beach and safari has never been easier here, and has also never been more memorable than if you were to choose Sand Rivers. This is a lovely lodge with a great atmosphere, huge authentic wooden rooms, and is a great place for families to unwind. The wildlife is also fantastic in the summer months, and importantly, here you can enjoy boating safaris as well as fishing, which makes this a very diverse safari option. Sand Rivers is the Selous’s answer to Ikuka!

Serengeti Safari Camp

Serengeti Safari Camp offers the quintessential East Africa safari experience. This camp is part of an array of “mobile” camps, which move two to three times a year to be in the right location to see the Great Migration herds. Serengeti Safari Camp is my personal favourite, due to its authentic and safari mad approach to the whole experience. The guides are fantastic, and Nomad as a company offer an unrivalled experience across the continent for a certain style of safari; no unnecessary frills but a world class hospitality experience, Serengeti Safari Camp is a true gem. Interconnected family rooms mean that this camp is ideal for families of all ages.

Jabali Ridge

Jabali Ridge is a beautiful and modern lodge, but one which harmoniously fits in with its wild Ruaha surroundings. Like Nomad Lamai, Jabali has a private house too which makes it one of the most elegant, exclusive and sought after family safari houses in East Africa. Jabali is for those who love life on the luxurious side, and want their family holidays to be remote and on the wild side.

Marc Harris is Managing Director of Tanzania Odyssey. Tanzania Odyssey is a leading tour operator that has specialised in Tanzania since 1998.

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Destinations

NYC & Company Announces The Coalition for NYC Hospitality & Tourism Recovery

WHY IT RATES: The Coalition will use various forms of messaging, marketing and promotion to restore New York City’s brand after the coronavirus pandemic. —Codie Liermann, Associate Editor

NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau for the five boroughs of New York City, today announced the formation of The Coalition for NYC Hospitality & Tourism Recovery. The Coalition will focus on messaging, marketing and promotion to restore New York City’s brand locally and beyond, and to safely engage, mobilize and champion all sectors of NYC’s tourism economy once the City begins to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Coalition will support the work of Mayor de Blasio’s Arts, Culture & Tourism Sector Advisory Council and will work collaboratively with the New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board and the New York State Division of Tourism.

The Coalition will be led by five co-chairs appointed by Charles Flateman, NYC & Company Board Chairman and Executive Vice President of the Shubert Organization. The co-chairs are Ellen Futter, President of American Museum of Natural History; Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem; Danny Meyer, Chief Executive of the Union Square Hospitality Group; Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer, lyricist and actor; and Peter Ward, President of the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO. NYC & Company will be responsible for coordinating and executing Coalition plans, and managing work streams.

“New York City’s tourism, hospitality and cultural communities reflect our unmatched energy and optimism,” said Flateman. “New York City is also the world capital of coexistence. Even though we’ve had to create distance, with our world-famous toughness, immense heart and boundless compassion, New York will not stay down. As government leaders announce new social distancing guidelines, it is time to consider how we can begin to reopen our doors and safely reconnect with our city and with each other, and with the visitors who will one day again flock to New York.”

“NYC & Company’s mission has always been to maximize travel and tourism throughout the City, build economic prosperity, and share the dynamism of New York City with the world,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company President and CEO. “The Coalition will do this with new energy and vision for a changed world. Together, when the time is right, we will help our businesses reopen and inspire New Yorkers and visitors alike to safely explore and interact with the five boroughs once more.”

“New York City and its great institutions and diverse, vibrant communities are resilient,” said Futter. “Even as we are changed by challenging, heartbreaking events, our institutions, whether art, science or entertainment, will be a vital part of interpreting this global pandemic, of telling the moving stories of our human response, and of helping us to come together, heal, and re-engage. As it is safe to fully reopen New York City’s social, cultural and economic lives, we as a Coalition stand ready to help lead its recovery and to welcome back New Yorkers and our visitors.”

“The vibrancy of New York City’s arts and culture springs from its deep, astonishing diversity,” said Golden. “One of the most important reasons why people from around the world come to our city is because the world is already here, to be discovered and enjoyed in our museums, theaters, concert halls, and neighborhoods. I am proud to be a part of a coalition that has our wonderful diversity woven into its fabric.”

“Hospitality is the fabric of what makes New York City such an amazing place to live and visit,” said Meyer. “Whether on the stage, in our cultural institutions, or our restaurants, New York has always attracted and welcomed the top performers and audiences in all that we do, and our collective resilience will once again remind New Yorkers and visitors alike why they fell in love with this amazing city.”

“From Broadway houses to independent theaters, from marquee attractions to small businesses and restaurants, our beloved five boroughs tell a story unlike any other place in the world,” said Miranda. “Together, we will create a next act for our city. After this intermission, we will be ready to welcome the world back with open arms, so people can fall in love with New York over and over again.”

“The people of New York are resilient as they have shown time and time again,” said Ward. “The New Yorkers that operate our hotels, our attractions, our cultural institutions – they know why people come to this city and know how important the travel and tourism industries are. This coalition will not only help reopen our industry, but will lead the way in bringing visitors back to New York City, and showing New Yorkers it is O.K. to enjoy the things we love about this city again.”

Coalition leadership will also include the Chairman’s Circle of Advisors, comprised of the three former chairs of NYC & Company: Emily Rafferty, President Emerita of The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO, Loews Hotels & Co., Co-Chairman of the Board, Loews Corp., and Chairman Emeritus, U.S. Travel Association; and Tim Zagat, Co-founder, Zagat Survey.

The Coalition will develop citywide marketing, communications and advertising programs to spur a sense of confidence and safety; drive sales and engagement; advocate for industry initiatives and inform funding and policy-making; and create public information campaigns to share facts, updates, and opportunities. It will also lead the way in helping to revitalize and reaffirm the City’s brand positioning around the world following this most challenging time.

The Coalition will include leading medical and public health experts, hotels, restaurants, sports organizations, cultural and performing arts institutions, Broadway leadership and other members of the theater community, retailers, sightseeing companies, attractions and annual conventions/trade shows. Flateman has appointed 24 industry leaders from the five boroughs to comprise a Steering Committee that will help guide the Coalition during the recovery effort. The Steering Committee includes:

—David Berliner, President and CEO, Brooklyn Museum

—Eva Bornstein, Executive Director, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts

—John Calvelli, Executive Vice President, Wildlife Conservation Society and Chairman of the Cultural Institutions Group

—Michael Capiraso, President & CEO, New York Road Runners

—Vijay Dandapani, President & CEO, Hotel Association of New York City

—Kerry Diamond, Founder & Editor in Chief, Cherry Bombe

—Jean-Yves Ghazi, President, Empire State Building Observatory

—Kathy Hilt, Division Vice President, Macy’s

—Dr. Margaret Honey, President and CEO, New York Hall of Science

—Rebecca Hubbard, General Manager, Lotte New York Palace

—Sam Ibrahim, General Manager, New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge

—Lakshmee Lachhman-Persad, Founder, Accessible Travel NYC

—Kristina Newman-Scott, President, Brooklyn Information & Culture

—Richard Nicotra, Owner, The Nicotra Group

—Travis Noyes, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Empire Outlets

—Lee Perlman, EVP, Chief Administrative and Financial Officer, Greater New York Hospital Association

—Jonelle Procope, President & CEO, Apollo Theatre

—Anthony Ramirez, Co-Owner, The Bronx Beer Hall

—Taryn Sacramone, Executive Director, Queens Theatre

—Charlotte St. Martin, President, The Broadway League

—Alan Steel, President and CEO, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center

—John Wang, Founder and Organizer, Queens Night Market

—Adam Weinberg, Director, Whitney Museum of American Art

—Danny Zausner, Chief Operating Officer, USTA National Tennis Center

Allied organizations that have already joined the Coalition in support include:

—34th Street Partnership/Bryant Park Corporation – Dan Biederman

—Asian American Arts Alliance – Lisa Gold

—Association for a Better New York – Steven Rubenstein

—Belmont Business Improvement District – Peter Madonia

—Bike NY – Ken Podziba

—The Broadway Association – Cristyne Nicholas

—The Broadway League – Charlotte St. Martin

—Bronx Tourism Council – Olga Tirado

—Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce – Randy Peers

—Coney Island Alliance – Alexandra Silversmith

—Council of Fashion Designers of America – Steven Kolb

—Downtown Alliance – Jessica Lappin

—Downtown Brooklyn Partnership – Regina Myer

—Fifth Avenue Association – Jerome Barth

—Grand Central Partnership – Alfred C. Cerullo, III

—Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce – John Choe

—Guides Association of New York City – Michael Morgenthal

—Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce – Lloyd Williams

—NYC Pride | Heritage of Pride, Inc. – David A. Correa

—Madison Avenue BID – Matthew Bauer

—New York Building Congress – Carlo Scissura

—New York City Cultural Institutions Group – John Calvelli

—New Yorkers For Culture & Arts – Lucy Sexton

—NYC BID Association – Jennifer Tausig & Robert Benfatto

—NYC Hospitality Alliance – Andrew Rigie

—Partnership for New York City – Kathryn Wylde

—Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – Huntley A. Lawrence

—Queens Tourism Council – Rob MacKay

—Staten Island Chamber of Commerce – Linda M. Baran

—Times Square Alliance – Tim Tompkins

—Visit Staten Island – Colleen Siuzdak

Both NYC & Company members and non-members from across the five boroughs and various business sectors are invited to lend their organizations’ name in support for the Coalition by visiting nycgo.com/recovery. The updated list of participating organizations is available at nycgo.com/coalitionmembers.

In 2019, New York City’s travel and tourism industry marked its 10th consecutive year of record growth, welcoming 66.6 million visitors for business and leisure trips. The economic activity of visitor spending supported almost 400,000 jobs citywide and generated close to $70 billion in economic activity. A forecast for 2020 is not yet available.

SOURCE: NYC & Company press release.

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Travel

The staycation locations in Britain that look like they're abroad

With summer holidays abroad ‘cancelled’ here are pictures of 10 stunning places you can visit in Britain instead that LOOK LIKE they’re abroad (shown with the foreign ‘versions’)

  • These 10 destinations in Britain will help to make Mr Hancock’s pronouncement easier to swallow 
  • The list includes beaches and waterfalls in Scotland, a village in Devon and lavender fields in Norfolk 
  • The order they appear in is based on how many times they were searched for in a month, least-searched first 

As Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, it’s not looking rosy for Britons as far as summer holidays are concerned.

But there is some good news – Britain is peppered with spell-binding spots they can visit this July and August (as long as the lockdown is loosened sufficiently all-round) that look like they’re abroad.

Some, it might even be said, trump their ‘abroad’ counterpart.

Here are 10 breathtaking destinations in Britain that will make Mr Hancock’s pronouncement a bit easier to swallow – and presented side-by-side with the ‘foreign holiday’ spot they resemble.

The list includes beaches and waterfalls in Scotland, a village in Devon and lavender fields in Norfolk.

The order they appear in is based on how many times they were searched for in the UK a month, as discovered by researchers at Faraway Furniture. The spots least likely to be hit by the staycation stampede are at the top. Scroll down and prepare for one’s jaw to drop…

West Voe Beach in the Shetlands vs Yyteri beach in Pori, Finland


The quietest getaway is likely to be West Voe in Shetland, Scotland, which is searched for just 10 times a month. The beach there, left, bears an uncanny resemblance to Yyteri beach in Pori, Finland, pictured on the right

Observatory Gully, Ben Nevis, Scottish Highlands vs Mont Blanc in the French Alps


If you’re in the market for an isolated Mont Blanc-style mountain adventure, try Ben Nevis (left), and an ascent – if you have the requisite skills and kit – up through Observatory Gully. There were only 170 searches for Observatory Gully last month. Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, is pictured on the right

Elegug Stacks, Pembrokeshire vs Nusa Penida island in Bali


There were only 320 searches monthly for the Elegug Stacks in Wales (left). If the weather is right these clifftops highly resemble Nusa Penida in Bali, pictured on the right

High Force Waterfalls, Durham vs Nauyaca Waterfalls in Costa Rica


High Force Waterfalls in Durham (left), in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is surprisingly unknown – with only 420 searches every month. This beautiful 70ft waterfall is surrounded by natural beauty and mirrors the Nauyaca Waterfalls in Costa Rica, right

Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull, Scotland vs Crane Beach in Barbados


The jaw-dropping Calgary Bay beach is one of Mull’s best-kept secrets (left) and holds strong similarities to Crane beach in Barbados (right)

Norfolk lavender fields vs lavender fields in Provence


Norfolk’s lavender fields are highly recommended by travel bloggers but have low interest from Britons, with only 580 searches last month. The 100 acres of lavender available for gazing purposes resemble the lavender fields in Provence, France

Mealt falls, Isle of Skye vs Háifoss waterfall in Iceland


The 55-metre (180ft) free-dropping Mealt falls, left, gets 1,240 searches a month. And may well remind waterfall aficionados Háifoss waterfall in Iceland. Though the latter, right, is much taller, at 122 metres (400ft)

Bidean nam Bian range in Scotland  vs Norway’s lumps


Walking the Bidean nam Bian range in Scotland will take around eight or nine hours. And you’re likely to have the place to yourself. There were 1,460 searches per month, but who knows, that may just have been locked down workers looking for Zoom backgrounds. While you’re there, you might like to imagine you’re in Norway, right, which is similarly lumpy and similarly breathtaking

Cockington village, Devon vs French village of Veules-les-Roses


Cockington village in Devon (left, 2,330 searches per month) is one of the most-thatched in Britain. So Britons don’t need to worry that the similarly cute Veules-les-Roses in Normandy (right) is out of reach for the time being

Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales vs Mae Tad waterfall in Chiang Mai, Thailand


Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall (left, 2,550 searches per month) means that staycationing Britons can relax, safe in the knowledge that they can visit Wales and not feel empty inside because they’re not at the Mae Tad waterfall in Chiang Mai (right). Perhaps…

This list based on an idea and research by www.farawayfurniture.com.

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Travel

What the coronavirus crisis could mean for your summer holiday plans

Will my package break still give peace of mind? What the coronavirus crisis could mean for your summer holiday plans

  • Tour operator Tui says beach holidays will be cancelled until at least June 11 
  • While Jet2 has already cancelled holidays until at least June 17 
  • Neil Simpson explores options in case your holiday doesn’t go ahead
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at an important holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week, he looks at the prospects for package holidays this summer.

Question marks hang over millions of summer holidays this weekend as hotels, airlines and travel firms wait to discover when the world will reopen for business.

Until last week, Tui, the world’s largest tour operator, said it was hoping to start taking travellers to the sun again from May 14. Now it says beach holidays will be cancelled until at least June 11 and its ocean and river cruises won’t restart until June 30.

Leap of faith: Summer holidays may yet go ahead, but there are options if yours is not as originally booked

Jet2 has already cancelled holidays until at least June 17, and a new wave of cancellations from smaller package-holiday providers is expected to be announced in coming days.

Optimists in the travel industry say they hope that trips booked for the summer school holidays in late July and August will still take place as planned, though their best advice is to prepare for revised flight times or being switched to ‘similar standard’ accommodation if some hotels stay closed. This could even mean similar hotels in different countries altogether if, say, Greece recovers far faster than Spain, which has been one of the countries hit hardest by the crisis.

But it is equally important to have a strategy ready in case your holiday does get cancelled.

If it happens, the easy option is to rebook any time up to and including next summer. The big advantage in doing this is that if your original package holiday was ATOL-protected – part of the Government-backed scheme that looks after your money – then your next one will offer the same assurances.

Rebooking means you’ll also have a break in the sun to look forward to once the crisis ends.

If you can’t find a suitable alternative holiday straight away, your tour firm may offer you a voucher so you can book a similar-value trip within the next year. However, the risk with this is that if your tour operator goes bust, the voucher is likely to become worthless.

That’s why ABTA, the UK travel trade association, has created an alternative option called a Refund Credit Note (RCN). This has the flexibility of a voucher and its value can be used to book another trip as soon as you find one you like. Crucially, an RCN will be backed by the ABTA/ATOL safety nets so its value can be repaid if your tour firm goes under.

Until last week, Tui, the world’s largest tour operator, said it was hoping to start taking travellers to the sun again from May 14. Now it says beach holidays will be cancelled until at least June 11

It also has an ‘end date’ by when it can be exchanged for cash if you subsequently decide not to rebook at all.

Many of the first RCNs have July 31 as an end date, but firms can choose their own. Find out exactly what you should look for in a Refund Credit Note at abta.com under the heading ‘Coronavirus advice for customers’.

Finally, if your package holiday is cancelled and you simply want your money back, you are entitled to it. The rules say refunds should be paid within 14 days of cancellation, although many travel firms are struggling to find the resources to comply with that at the moment.

ABTA and consumer group Which? suggest a month is likely to be a more realistic timeframe, and advise making a note of when and how you request your refund so the company can’t try to avoid paying it later.

Get the latest information on the claims process at which.co.uk under ‘Coronavirus outbreak Q&A: advice for travellers’.

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Travel

The most popular holiday destinations for Zoom pictures revealed

The most popular holiday destinations for Zoom background pictures have been revealed – and travel firms have made jaw-dropping photos from their vaults available for downloading

  • Google data shows there has been a 9,900 per cent increase in searches for pictures of the Caribbean  
  • Searches for safari landscapes are up 9,900 per cent and for mountains by 9,800 per cent 
  • Here we present the full rankings – and pictures that Kuoni and Red Carnation Hotels have made available 

Zoom video meetings are all the rage – and most people have now discovered that they can change their background, with many choosing an exotic backdrop to ‘virtually travel’.

Luxury holiday firm Kuoni has delved into Google Trends data and revealed the most popular destinations for Zoom background pictures, and it’s the Caribbean that’s in the No1 spot, with searches for locations there up 9,900 per cent.

In joint second place are Australia and the Maldives (both up 9,800 per cent), followed by Vietnam, New Zealand and Sweden in joint third place (9,700 per cent), the Philippines (4th, 8,800 per cent) and Canada and Brazil (joint 5th, 8,500 per cent). The rest of the top 10 comprises the USA (6th, 8,100 per cent), Ireland (7th, 7,200 per cent), India (8th, 6,500), Portugal (9th, 5,000 per cent) and Spain (10th, 4,900 per cent).

The most popular background landscapes are safari (up 9,900 per cent), mountain (9,800 per cent) and cityscape (8,100 per cent). 

Kuoni isn’t just unveiling data – it’s also saving the world’s Zoom-users the hassle of searching around for a jaw-dropping background picture by making a bank of amazing landscape images of its top destinations available to download. Red Carnation Hotels has also opened up its picture vault to Zoom users, which includes snaps of its jaw-dropping Ashford Castle hotel in Ireland. And we’re presenting them here to make life even easier still.

To change a Zoom background, download your preferred image. When in a meeting, find the pop-up menu next to the ‘Stop Video’ option at the bottom of the video window, select ‘Choose Virtual Background’ and then click ‘+ Add Image’. Zoom on down and pick a picture for your next work meeting – or virtual happy hour…

Luxury holiday firm Kuoni has delved into Google Trends data and revealed the most popular Zoom destinations for background pictures, and it’s the Caribbean (pictured) that’s in the No1 spot

Fool your friends and work colleagues – for a split second, anyway – into thinking you’ve been transported to the Caribbean island of St Lucia 

The Maldives, pictured, is the joint-second most popular destination for a Zoom background with Google data showing an increase in searches for it of 9,800 per cent

The most popular landscape search is ‘safari’ – up 9,900 per cent. Here’s a classic, courtesy of Kuoni, with lots of room for a person, left of the elephant

Kuoni is offering up this rather enticing picture of Rome to Zoom users around the world

A Mauritius waterfall makes for a marvellously exotic Zoom background that’s sure to soothe your colleagues. Image courtesy of Kuoni

Cityscape is the third most popular landscape picture search. You can use this image of Bangkok for Zoom, thanks to Kuoni

Bring a slice of Canada’s Banff National Park to your next Zoom get-together

Mt Kilimanjaro, pictured from Kenya. It’s a Zoom background like no other 

You may not be able to travel to Vietnam right now, but you can at least download this eye-catching picture from Kuoni and pretend you’re there

Transport yourself to exotic Sri Lanka with this jaw-dropping Zoom background image lurking in the Kuoni vaults

Make your Zoom meeting epic, with this picture of Arizona’s otherworldly Monument Valley

A picture of the Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Restaurant in Dorset is there for the taking, thanks to Red Carnation Hotels

Ashford Castle in Ireland is one of the world’s very best hotels. Download this image from Red Carnation and pretend it’s where you’re self-isolating

This picture of The Chesterfield Mayfair library will add a dollop of posh to a Zoom work meeting

Enjoying a lakeside cocktail hour at the Bushmans Kloof hotel in South Africa – yes, that’s what you can be doing if you use this image

You can almost smell the fresh sea air as you enjoy your first course overlooking the Indian Ocean at South Africa’s treasured Oyster Box Hotel

The last rays of the day reach out across the landscape as you prepare to dine at Bushmans Kloof’s Embers restaurant

And relax… The Ashford Castle spa pool will add some zen to that budget meeting

If you’re having a virtual drinks get-together, The Oyster Box Lighthouse Bar is a great picture option. Theme – sundowners

If you’re after a fine dining setting, Ashford Castle’s George V Dining Room, with its twinkling Waterford Crystal chandeliers, is sure to do the trick 

Most popular Zoom background destinations

1. Caribbean +9,900 per cent

2=Australia +9,800 per cent

2=Maldives +9,800 per cent

4=Vietnam +9,700 per cent

4=New Zealand +9,700 per cent

4=Sweden +9,700 per cent

7. Philippines +8,800 per cent

8=Canada +8,500 per cent

8=Brazil +8,500 per cent

10. USA +8,100 per cent 

Most popular Zoom background landscapes 

1. Safari +9,900 per cent

2. Mountain +9,800 per cent

3. Cityscape +8,100 per cent

4. Beach +7,800 per cent

5. Waterfall +6,600 per cent 

6. Sea +6,400 per cent

7. Rainforest +5,000 per cent

8. Field +4,000 per cent

9. Desert +3,200 per cent

10. Lake +1,500 per cent

Source: Google Trends 

  • To download the background images courtesy of Kuoni, click here. For the Red Carnation Hotels images, click here.

 

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Travel

The 'micro home' that looks like the Star Wars Sandcrawler

On a trailer far far away… The amazing angular ‘micro home’ that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Star Wars Sandcrawler

  • The Base Cabin is designed by Melbourne-based Studio Edwards and is a modern spin on an old classic 
  • Clad in black rubber to shield it from the elements, the cabin boasts a large triangular window and a skylight
  • It’s divided into three ‘rooms’ – a sleeping area, toilet and shower ‘pod’, and a kitchen and dining area 

Caravanning is something of an old-fashioned concept – but a space-age new mobile home is dragging it into the 2020s.

And when we say space-age, we mean it – this angular ‘micro home’ actually resembles a Sandcrawler transport from the Star Wars films.

It’s called Base Cabin and is clad in black rubber. The makers say to ‘blend in with the surroundings’ and to make it durable, but probably also for added mystery.

Base Cabin – designed by Melbourne-based Studio Edwards – resembles a Sandcrawler from the Star Wars movies

The Sandcrawler is a colossal mobile fortress used by a race called the Jawas. It was first seen in 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV (above). It’s not so great for caravanning, but is ideal for storing robots

Briton Ben Edwards is the creative force behind Base Cabin. He was inspired by Airstreams and A-framed cabins

It was designed by Briton Ben Edwards from Melbourne-based Studio Edwards, who according to a statement took inspiration from the iconic Airstream trailer as well as the classic A-framed cabin.

His striking AUS$99,000 (£52k/$64k) retreat – which is designed to be transported on a trailer and wheeled to the desired location – is divided into three rooms over 160 square feet, big enough for a few creature comforts. 

There’s a ‘cosy sleeping space’ – room enough for a double bed – below the A-frame roof with a triangular window framing the view outwards. 

The striking AUS$99,000 (£52k) retreat is designed to be transported on a trailer and wheeled to the desired location 


A triangular window bathes the bedroom area in light (left).  The retreat is divided into three rooms over 160 square feet, big enough for a few creature comforts

A central toilet and shower pod, meanwhile, ‘is bathed in light from the roof-light above’. 

And a sink and small counter fitted to the rear of the pod ‘provide kitchen functionality’.

There’s also an over-sized window ledge that serves as a place for ornaments and a seating area.

Studio Edwards says: ‘We think that you don’t need excessive space to enjoy the pleasures of escaping and enjoying the natural environment’


An over-sized window ledge serves as a place for ornaments and an extra seating area (left). The image on the right is yet more evidence that caravanning doesn’t have to be boring 

The studio adds: ‘We think that you don’t need excessive space to enjoy the pleasures of escaping and enjoying the natural environment. Our cabins are designed to not only deliver an exceptional experience, but to also connect within the landscape.’ 

Who says caravanning has to be dull and boring? 

Visit www.studio-edwards.com for more information. 

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Travel

The amazing shortlisted images in an architecture photography contest

The amazing shortlisted images in a worldwide architecture photography contest, from jaw-dropping bridges to fairy-tale castles and epic monuments

  • More than 10,000 images were submitted to the ‘#Architecture2020’ photography contest, run by Agora
  • They were then whittled down to a shortlist of just 50 snaps, showing architecture at its most amazing  
  • Here we present our favourites from the overall shortlist – with the winner at the very bottom 

Build it – and the photographers, with their drones and digital SLRs, will come. 

These incredible pictures all made the top 50 in a contest called #Architecture2020, run by photo app Agora, which asked photographers to send in snaps of their favourite architectural wonders.

In total 10,367 photos were submitted from snappers across the globe, with judges whittling them down to 50 finalists. After that, it was all down to Agora users, who were tasked with selecting the overall winner.

And what a bountiful supply of top photography they had to choose from – jaw-dropping images of beautiful bridges in Vietnam and Bristol, mesmerising photos of incredible cityscapes in China and Spain and fairy-tale castles in Germany, to name but a few.

Octavi Royo, Agora’s CEO and co-founder, said: ‘#Architecture2020 is a spectacle about the beauty that results from the interaction between light and volumes. The contrast between chaos and order, nature and the artificial, matter and emptiness.’

Scroll down to see MailOnline Travel’s pick of the most brilliant pictures in the contest. You’ll find the overall winner at the very bottom…

A fairy-tale-like image of Eltz Castle in Mayen-Koblenz, Germany, was taken by German @moodfella, who titled the shot ‘Castlemania!’

This Buddhist ‘stupa’ in Myanmar was captured by Min Zaw, who’s from that country. He explained: ‘Stupas are one of the most recognisable forms of Buddhist architecture. It generally takes the form of a hemisphere, although this shape may vary by country. Pilgrims worship at a stupa by walking around its base outside, usually in the clockwise direction. The massive crack in the middle of this stupa was caused by an earthquake’

The incredible 1,621ft-tall Shanghai World Financial Center, known as ‘the bottle opener’, captured by Russian photographer Vitaly Tyuk, also known as @panvelvet 

An aerial shot of Thanh Hóa village in Vietnam by local @thanhtoanphotographer looks like a colourful patchwork quilt

Russian snapper @inchaseofbeauty says of his shortlisted shot: ‘Here’s one of Moscow’s courtyards from above. There are different areas to work out, play with the kids, or even play table tennis. I arrived at this place too early, so I decided to wait for a few hours. I wanted to see sunlight on the ground in the best position’

This tropical, tree-top paradise set amid lush vegetation in Tulum, Mexico, was captured by Canadian photographer @blakehobson

Italian photographer @lucacornago took this hypnotic image of Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany. It was a shoot he would long-remember: ‘My hands were frozen because of the freezing wind, but it was all worth it to see such an epic sunset. The architecture of this castle is stunning. It reminded me of my childhood and Walt Disney’

This stunning – but shocking – image by Venezuelan @donaldobarros shows packed living conditions in Petare, a city in a district of Caracas, the capital of Venezuela

This incredible water feature in Singapore’s Changi Airport looks like a spaceship. It was photographed by Malaysian @siang425, aka Andy Huan

A floating fort in the Baltics snapped by Russian @nikybwd, who explains: ‘Fort Alexander 1 is a naval fortress on an artificial island located in the Gulf of Finland, near St Petersburg and Kronstadt. From 1899 to 1917, the fort housed a research laboratory on plague and other bacterial diseases. By 1983, the fort was stripped of its fixtures and abandoned. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Fort Alexander was a popular location for rave parties’

British snapper @tom.bridges took this atmospheric aerial shot of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, and explained: ‘Once or twice a year the weather conditions produce this amazing scene of the fog passing under the suspension bridge. I’ve lived next to this bridge for two years, but I never managed to capture the image. Within a month from moving house, and living over an hour away, the conditions looked to align. So I traveled down three days in a row and on the final day managed to get it!’

The iconic Flat Iron building in New York has beguiled photographers for decades, and here Norwegian @øystein went for an atmospheric black-and-white look

 

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Travel

The charm of Belgium's gentle gem: How to spend 48 hours in Ghent

The charm of Belgium’s gentle gem: How to spend 48 hours in Ghent

  • Ghent is a sleepy university city just 30 minutes from Brussels
  • The Eurostar takes from two hours 42 minutes from London, with a change  
  • Check in to 1898 The Post, an old Gothic post office that is now a luxury hotel 

Talk to any shopkeepers in this Belgian city and they’ll tell you they’re excited. 

Excited because Ghent, a sleepy university city just 30 minutes from Brussels, is seeing a new wave of visitors charmed by its beguiling cobbled streets, Gothic architecture and laid-back atmosphere.

Once the seat of the Counts of Flanders, whose castle has been restored, the medieval city became known as the ‘Manchester of the Continent’ thanks to its buildings converted into cotton mills and its network of canals. 

Oozing charm: Ghent is a sleepy university city just 30 minutes from Brussels and the Eurostar takes just under three hours from London, with a change. Above, the city’s canalside houses

Now its sustainable shops and Vegetarian Thursdays – where all schools and lots of eating places adhere to a plant-based diet – are giving Ghent a new lease of life.

DAY ONE

Morning: Check in to 1898 The Post (zannierhotels.com), Ghent’s old Gothic post office, which is now a luxury boutique hotel beside the canal.

A self-guided cultural walking tour (visit.gent.be) is the most enjoyable way to see this small city. It’ll take about two hours and includes Patershol, a notorious slum in the 20th Century which has now been transformed into an upmarket neighbourhood with quaint restaurants and galleries.

Near this labyrinth of medieval streets you’ll find Simon Says (simon-says.be), a colourful coffee bar inside a striking Art Nouveau building. Don’t miss the graffiti alley Werregarenstraat and St Bavo’s Cathedral (visit.gent.be), with its 290ft Gothic tower that houses the Ghent altarpiece, The Mystic Lamb.

Afterwards, grab a table at Le Bontaniste (lebotaniste.be), an organic, plant-based food and wine bar, just a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral, where I had delicious seaweed tartare and peanut butter cookies. For a more robust meal, try the Belfort Stadscafe (belfortfoodbar.com) which has more of a pub vibe and serves hearty fare underneath the outdoor Market Hall, sandwiched between the three towers in the heart of the city.

 St Bavo’s Cathedral has a 290ft Gothic tower that houses the Ghent altarpiece, The Mystic Lamb

Afternoon: Shops close on Sundays (bar the first Sunday of each month), so Saturday is an ideal time to shop.

In Hoogpoort Street, just two minutes’ walk from the Market Hall, you can look around quirky boutiques and independent record stores and pick up clothes from Cliche (cliche-gent.com), handmade jewellery from Elisa Lee (elisa-lee.be) and the obvious from Bookz & Booze (bookznbooze.be). Luckily, Eurostar has a generous baggage allowance.

At the end of this street you’ll reach Groentenmarkt, where you can try Ghent’s signature jellied cone-shaped sweets called neuzeke (‘little noses’) from one of two carts. Legend has it that the two owners are enemies who both profess to sell the original version. You can also find the notable Belgian chocolatier Neuhaus (neuhauschocolates.com) here, with free samples aplenty.

Afterwards, head towards Kouter Square for luxury boutiques. On Sundays, you’ll find a flower market here, then meander towards Citadelpark, a ten-minute walk from Groentenmarkt.

The vast outdoor space has some great viewing spots as well as SMAK (smak.be), the Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, internationally known for its impressive exhibitions.

One of Ghent’s colourful graffiti alleyways – which are worth a visit

Evening: Head out of the centre to De Superette (de-superette.be), where the four-course menu is all kept a surprise, except for a self-selected main. The vibe is friendly and the clientele cool. Alternatively, go to Frites Atelier (fritesatelier.com) founded by Sergio Herman – the Flemish beef stew is a favourite. Afterwards, enjoy a drink at Ray (ray.gent), a conservatory built on to the side of St Nicholas Church, or follow your ears to nearby Hot Club Gent (hotclub.gent), a small jazz club down an alley.

DAY TWO

Morning: The majestic home of the aristocratic d’Hane Steenhuyse family (visit.gent.be) is worth a visit, with its colourful salons and decadent furniture. Make sure to visit the peaceful, enclosed garden.

For a slightly disquieting museum experience, visit Museum Dr Guislain (museumdrguislain.be), a haunting art and exhibition space in an abandoned psychiatric institution. Wander through the wards still furnished with iron beds and medical equipment.

Afternoon: There’s a new urban quarter in the Dok Noord neighbourhood (visit.gent.be) to the north of the city, where the abandoned Ghent docks are being transformed. The old quays provide a backdrop for summer concerts, art exhibitions, film screenings, pop-up restaurants and an urban beach.

Twenty minutes away you’ll find afternoon tea at 1898 The Post’s Cobbler Bar. You might find a queue for what a fellow guest dubbed ‘the best-kept secret in Ghent’, but it’s worth the wait (and turnaround is fast). If you fancy something stronger, you can mingle with Ghent’s fashionable crowd sipping cocktails.

As dusk approaches (and if you have time before your train), see Ghent from the water. Viadagio runs boat tours that offer views of the city as the sun goes down. It costs €12.50pp – about £11.

TRAVEL FACTS 

A two-night stay at 1898 The Post costs from £310 per room, excluding breakfast. 

Eurostar to Ghent takes from two hours 42 minutes, with a change in Brussels. It costs from £35 one-way (eurostar.com). 

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Destinations

Great Plains holds the line on 2021 prices

Great Plains Conservation will freeze its 2020 rates for all safaris in 2021, and there will be no price increases for 2021.

Rates for 2021 will also be fully inclusive. Whereas before rates included all meals, wildlife viewing activities and all beverages, rates for 2021 will include air transfers, as well. For all safaris beginning Jan. 11, all air transfers to and from Great Plains Conservation camps will be included in the nightly rates.

For reservations, email [email protected].

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Travel

The rewards of shooting wildlife with a camera rather than a gun

Photographers highlight the rewards of shooting wildlife with a camera rather than a gun as the public are asked to vote for their favourite animals to snap

  • Public asked to vote for animals they think should be part of a new ‘Big Five’  – the best creatures to snap  
  • The initiative has been launched by photographer and travel writer Graeme Green
  • It is supported by other wildlife photographers, who have revealed some of their favourite animal shots

The public are being asked to vote for animals they think should be part of a new ‘Big Five’ of the natural world’s top creatures to photograph.

Unlike the old Big Five, based on the five toughest animals in Africa for colonial hunters to shoot and kill, the new list will be animals to see in the wild and shoot with a camera.

The initiative has been launched by photographer and journalist Graeme Green. It is backed by several other renowned wildlife photographers who have revealed some of their favourite animal pictures for inspiration and to show their support, a selection of which is presented here.

Will the cheetah make it on to the new Big Five list? Photographer Usha Harish snapped these cute cheetah cubs in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya 

This sweet image of a pair of lions affectionately nuzzling each other was captured by Graeme Green in the Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya

These playful polar bears were captured on camera by Thomas D. Mangelsen in Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada

These brown bears, a mother with her cubs, were pictured in Lake Clark National Park in Alaska 

A small elephant walks among the herd in the Etosha National Park in Namibia. The elephant is one of the original Big Five

The rewards of shooting animals with cameras are clear to see.

It is hoped the international project will also raise awareness of the crisis facing wildlife, with more than a million species of animals and plants at risk of extinction, and prompt more action to protect nature.

The original Big Five were lions, leopards, rhino, elephant and buffalo in Africa, but the new list can draw on wildlife from around the world – from polar bears in the Arctic to orangutans and tigers in Asia.

Celebrities, conservationists and photographers have contributed their new Big Five choices, including musician Moby, who heads his list with the coyote, and TV presenter Ben Fogle, who puts the hedgehog in first place.

It is hoped the New Big 5 project will raise awareness of the crisis facing wildlife, with more than a million species of animals and plants at risk of extinction. Pictured is an Arctic fox in Svalbard, Norway 

Photographer Greg Du Toit captured this stunning image of a young elephant in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve, Botswana

An extreme close-up of an elephant with its face caked in mud. The mesmerising shot was captured by Graeme Green in the Mara Triangle in Kenya 

Daisy Gilardini snapped this cute image of a pair of polar bears embracing in Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada 

Photographer Alejandro Prieto captured this fascinating image of a jaguar in La Papalota reserve, Nayarit, Mexico

NEW BIG 5 SHORTLIST

The New Big 5 initiative has drawn up a shortlist of animals that people can vote for to be included in the new list. Voters can pick up to five of their favourite creatures, which include the old Big Five. They are:   

Elephant, lion, wolf, tiger, koala, leopard, lemur, fox, cheetah, grizzly bear, wild dog, snow leopard, wildebeest, kangaroo, warthog, hyena, zebra, polar bear, orangutan, gorilla, giraffe, rhino, chimpanzee, panda, monkey, sloth, hippo, pangolin, meerkat, jaguar, tapir, slow loris, Komodo dragon and deer.

Actress Joanna Lumley has topped her list with the orangutan, and the red fox is at the top of TV presenter Chris Packham’s new Big Five selection.

Mr Green said he feels a Big Five of wildlife photography is much more relevant to the world than hunting.

‘This isn’t an anti-trophy hunting campaign, though I can’t personally understand why someone would want to shoot and kill lions, elephants, antelope or any other animals,’ he added.

He went on: ‘As a wildlife photographer and a journalist, I’ve been all over the world in the past 20 years, and to see the impact humans are having on the natural world and all these remarkable animals, from lions, elephants, giraffes and cheetahs to lesser known animals, like pangolins, or rare frogs, is disturbing.

‘People care so much about wildlife, but still it’s disappearing rapidly. A million species face possible extinction. I wanted to do something to help.

This incredible shot of a silverback gorilla was taken by Nelis Wolmarans in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo

A tiger peers at a camera trap it triggered while hunting in the early morning in the forests of northern Sumatra, Indonesia

A young meerkat stands among its family in a field of flowers in a snap taken by photographer Jen Guyton in South Africa 

This beautiful image of a pair of snub-nosed monkeys was taken by photographer Marsel van Oosten in the Shaanxi province of China

The public can vote for the orangutan to make the new Big Five list. Pictured is a female Sumatran orangutan in the rainforest of Gunung Leuser National Park in northern Sumatra, Indonesia

‘I hope the project can get a bit of attention on the world’s wildlife so that it’s saved and protected before it’s too late.’

Chimpanzee expert Dr Jane Goodall said: ‘What a great project the new Big Five is. I wonder what the final choices will be? There are so many incredible animals in our world.

‘Any project that brings attention to animals, so many of whom are threatened or endangered, is truly important.’ 

  • To find out more about wildlife issues, for podcasts and interviews and to vote for the new Big Five, people can visit www.newbig5.com or visit its Instagram page @newbig5project. 

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