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Monthly Archives: June 2018



SpiceRoads Cycling Adds E-Bikes to Fleet in Vietnam and Sri Lanka

e-bikes, Vietnam and Sri Lanka

The e-bikes in Sri Lanka are SCOTT Cross-E Sub 20 bikes, while select Vietnam tours feature Giant Explore E+ bikes.

The new e-bikes can be hired per tour, as an alternative to standard mountain, road, or carbon bike hire.

SpiceRoads Cycling has added electric bicycles, or e-bikes as they are more commonly known, to its fleet of bicycles in Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The e-bikes in Sri Lanka are SCOTT Cross-E Sub 20 bikes, while select Vietnam tours feature Giant Explore E+ bikes. Both models of e-bike use “pedal assist” technology, which engages the bike’s motor once the rider begins to pedal. The more the rider pedals, the more the motor is activated, making e-bikes great for tackling climbs or comfortably cruising at speed.

SpiceRoads Managing Director Daniel Moylan said, “The e-bike movement is well underway, and we’re excited to be one of the first tour operators in Asia to provide e-bikes to our clients. At SpiceRoads we believe that cycle travel provides a more authentic, sustainable, and memorable travel experience for our customers and the communities they travel to and interact with. E-bikes allow us to be more inclusive of who is able to join our tours and see the world with us, and we’re very proud of that.

E-bikes have become popular with commuters in Europe and North America, and they are an attractive option for cycling holidays.

Riders with less experience, lower fitness, recovering from injury, or with less confidence in their abilities can enjoy trips and destinations without worrying about being able to keep up.

 E-bikes are also a great way for cycling enthusiasts to encourage a spouse, family member, or friend who doesn’t ride to join a tour with them.

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Published Date: 23rd June 2018
Category: Travel Blog
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Pullman Khao Lak

AccorHotels Signs 251-Room Resort in Khao Lak, Thailand

AccorHotels has signed an agreement with Thailand-based real estate developer Khaolak Inter to open a brand new 251-room Pullman Khao Lak Resort in 2021.

The resort is the group’s second partnership with Khaolak Inter following the opening of Novotel Phuket Patong in 1996.

Pullman Khao Lak
Artist Impression of the new Pullman Khao Lak

This partnership marks an important step for AccorHotels and we are very excited to partner with Khaolak Inter Co., Ltd. to expand our portfolio in Southern Thailand with the Pullman brand. Pullman represents global nomads of hyper-connected travellers and sophisticated explorers who enjoy combining work and pleasure,” said Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer AccorHotels Upper Southeast & Northeast Asia and the Maldives.

Located just an hour’s drive north of Phuket Island on the gorgeous Andaman seaboard, Khao Lak is 80 kilometres north of Phuket International Airport and just 1.5 hours by speedboat from the popular scuba and snorkelling hotspots of Surin and Similan Islands.

Designed by Tierra, Design and Hypothesis, Pullman Khao Lak is situated on a stretch of gentle-sloping beach near to the historical heritage town of Ta Kua Pa.

The resort will feature 50 family suites and a large kids club specially designed for guests travelling with children. For couples and business travellers looking for a peaceful getaway, the resort will also offer 7 private villas and an adult-only infinity pool that overlooks the Andaman.

We look forward to another exciting partnership with AccorHotels with the launch of Pullman Khao Lak. The resort offers travellers a gorgeous backdrop of the island’s sunsets with stunning views of its surrounding nature that showcases a rich historical local culture. The combined expertise with AccorHotels will give us an opportunity to contribute to the growth and development of the local community in the area.” said Michael Choo, Director of Khaolak Inter Co., Ltd.

The resort will also feature meeting facilities, three F&B outlets, three pools, a health and fitness centre, a beach club and a spa.

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Published Date: 23rd June 2018
Category: Travel Blog
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Rosewood Yangon

Rosewood Signs Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar

Rosewood has signed a deal with Prime Residence to expand the luxurious hotel brand to Yangon.

The Rosewood Yangon will open in Q4 2018 as the first Rosewood hotel in Myanmar and sixth in Asia.

Rosewood Yangon

Located on The Strand amidst classic colonial landmarks in the cultural heart and central business district of the city, the hotel is within walking distance to many of the city’s most notable attractions. Guests can easily take in the bustling city life at the Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly known as Scott’s Market), enjoy a cruise down the winding Yangon river, or immerse themselves in local culture at the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda.

Housed in a stunning heritage building that was originally constructed in 1927 as the New Law Courts by architect Thomas Oliphant and Doorman Long UK, the engineers behind the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Rosewood Yangon has been meticulously restored to incorporate every contemporary amenity and comfort while simultaneously preserving the essence and splendour of the building’s storied past.

The property has received approval from Yangon Heritage Trust, founded in 2012 by Dr. Thant Myint-U, the renowned Burmese writer and historian, for a Conservation Management Plan that permitted this carefully executed restoration of a historic structure. As one of the most significant historic restoration projects in Yangon to date, great care has been taken to restore both the exterior and interior to its former glory. Of particular note, is the spectacular Heritage Room on the hotel’s fourth floor, which for many years had laid hidden beneath modern interventions but will now once again showcase its original beauty after a thoughtful and thorough restoration.

Rosewood Yangon will feature 209 spacious guestrooms, suites, one and two-bedroom apartment units. Boasting high ceilings and abundant natural light, most guestrooms also feature patios and balconies where guests can take in views of the majestic Yangon River or the beautifully landscaped internal courtyards.

The hotel will also offer five distinct dining venues featuring local, Asian, and internationally-influenced cuisine, including a residential-style tea lounge and patisserie, a modern Cantonese restaurant, a convivial brasserie, an intimate bar and cigar lounge, and a panoramic rooftop bar boasting sweeping views of the city and the Yangon River.

Additional amenities will include several event venues and extensive leisure facilities over three floors with Sense, A Rosewood Spa, in addition to a state-of-the-art gym, yoga / Pilates studio, and a rooftop pool.

The hotel will also offer Yangon’s well-groomed and well-dressed residents a stylish getaway with a classic men’s grooming salon, a beauty bar and an artisanal leather workshop.

With its stunning vistas, awe-inspiring architecture, rich history and culture, Myanmar and Yangon are perfect examples of a Rosewood destination, and we look forward to introducing our affluent explorers to this destination,” said Sonia Cheng, chief executive officer of Rosewood Hotel Group. “Already an emerging regional business centre, Yangon is a wonderfully dynamic city with deep cultural traditions and is a perfect gateway for our discerning guests to discover the wonderful landscapes and culture of Myanmar.”

Rosewood Yangon will join Rosewood’s distinctive Asian properties including Rosewood Beijing, Rosewood Phuket, and Rosewood Sanya. The upcoming opening of Rosewood Yangon also caps a year of dynamic growth for Rosewood Hotels & Resorts which also saw the opening of Rosewood Luang Prabang, Rosewood Phnom Penh and Rosewood Baha Mar in the Bahamas. Additional properties set to open this Winter include Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, Rosewood Bangkok, Rosewood Guangzhou and Rosewood Hong Kong

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Published Date: 23rd June 2018
Category: Travel Blog
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Macao Leisure Pass

Hong Kong Airlines and TurboJet Launch Macao Leisure Pass

Travellers from the entertainment centre of Macao can now enjoy increased travel convenience when connecting from sea to air, thanks to the new Macao Leisure Pass launched by Hong Kong Airlines and Pearl River Delta’s ferry services company, Turbojet.

Customers travelling from Macao to Hong Kong and Kowloon get to enjoy an one-stop convenience when booking their ferry and flight tickets at the same time. Both ferry and flight sectors will be issued on the same travel itinerary, offering ease of mind to travellers using inter-modal transportation for leisure or business travel.

During the initial launch stage, the Macao Leisure Pass is available for travel on Hong Kong Airlines’ flights from Hong Kong to Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo, Bangkok, Bali, Auckland and Vancouver. The airline plans to extend the coverage to include more destinations from its international network in the future.

Macao Leisure Pass

As an added benefit, the baggage allowance for both ferry and flight segments will be identical, offering Hong Kong Airlines Business Class and Economy Class passengers 30kg and 20kg of checked baggage respectively, when checking in at the Macao Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal. All baggage will also be checked through to the final destination, further enhancing the customer travel experience along the way.

TurboJet currently operates multiple daily ferry services from the Macao Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal to SkyPier at Hong Kong International Airport. Macao Leisure Pass holders are free to travel on any of these ferry services offered by TurboJet.

The Macao Leisure Pass is now available for sale from designated travel agents including China Travel Service (HK) Ltd, Hong Thai Travel Services (Macao) and HKA Holidays Limited. Customers can book up to six months ahead of their planned travel date and change their itinerary by simply contacting their travel agent.

 Hong Kong Airlines Commercial Director Mr Michael Ma said, “We are delighted to be the first airline to partner with TurboJet to offer a seamless travel experience to our customers. The Macao Leisure Pass is a true time saver and will ensure that our customers benefit from a hassle-free connection experience in Hong Kong.”

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Published Date: 23rd June 2018
Category: Travel Blog
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AirAsia to Kota Kinabalu

AirAsia to Launch Flights Between Bangkok and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

AirAsia will launch flights between Bangkok (Don Mueang) and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on 16 August 2018 for travellers to Borneo.

Thai Air Asia’s Don Mueang – Kota Kinabalu flights will operate three times per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Sabah Tourism has reported that in 2017, visits to the state increased 9.4% year-on-year with Kota Kinabalu city the main destination for most arrivals.

AirAsia to Kota Kinabalu will give travellers a further multi-centre option for the city of Bangkok and Beach/Tropical Jungle Kota Kinabalu.

AirAsia to Kota Kinabalu - Aircraft

Santisuk Klongchaiya, CEO of Thai AirAsia, said, “Kota Kinabalu is a high potential tourism market. On top of being an important flight base for AirAsia, serving both domestic and international flights, it is also the gateway to Sabah state, Borneo and home to splendid natural attractions, including Mount Kota Kinabalu which claims ASEAN’s fourth highest peak and a UNESCO World Heritage site known the world over. In 2017, Kota Kinabalu International Airport came second as Malaysia’s most travelled airport following Kuala Lumpur International Airport, underlining its wide appeal as a destination.

AirAsia currently operates the most connections between Thailand and Malaysia with 9 routes. The carrier now flies

Don Mueang-Kuala Lumpur 84 times per week,
Don Mueang-Penang 14 times a week,
Don Mueang-Johor Bahru 11 times weekly,
Hat Yai-Kuala Lumpur 11 times per week,
Hua Hin-Kuala Lumpur 4 times a week,
Chiang Mai-Kuala Lumpur 7 times a week,
Phuket-Kuala Lumpur 7 times per week and
Krabi-Kuala Lumpur 21 times a week.

All the flights are serviced by both Thai AirAsia (FD) and AirAsia Malaysia (AK).

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Published Date: 12th June 2018
Category: Travel Blog
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137 Pillars Hotels

137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts Takes Sustainability to Next Level

137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts has pledged to eliminate single-use plastic from its hotel rooms and outlets, and make a more concerted effort to reduce its environmental footprint, increase CSR activities and review its sustainable purchasing options.

The luxury hotel owner and management company currently operates two 5-star hotels in Thailand – one in Bangkok, the other in Chiang Mai – with a luxury resort in Phuket in the pipeline, and further properties, both at home and abroad, expected to be announced in the near future.

Mr. Chris Stafford, COO of 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts, said, “A day does not go by without us learning more about the damage that plastic, especially single-use plastic, has on the environment. 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts has long had a strong sustainable policy and we are now taking that to the next level. It’s vital as a company, and as human beings, that the impact we have on the environment is as minimal as possible. What we are doing won’t solve the global problem, but if we all play our part and take responsibility for our choices, then we will eventually overcome this and create a better world for future generations.

Since it opened in 2011, 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai has become one of the most photographed and popular resorts in the Kingdom of Thailand. It is the ideal retreat for those looking to get away from the stress of city life and submerse themselves in a cocoon of luxury that delivers on every level.

137 Pillars Hotels

The award-winning hotel has been widely praised for its many different environmentally-friendly initiatives. For example, for the past two years 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai has concentrated on reducing the amount of waste it generates and it now separates, recycles and sells any waste paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminium.

Almost all organic waste from the gardens is either made into compost or turned into biochar – charcoal that is added back into the compost to make it richer and more nourishing for plants. The compost is then used to make the landscaped gardens and grounds even more lush and beautiful. The property also has an ever-expanding vegetable and herb garden which produces more and more of the delicious food used in the restaurant and bar.

For waste collection, instead of plastic garbage bags, 137 Pillars House uses reusable woven bags, and, with the exception of the front office and hotel cars, water is presented to guests in recycled glass bottles.

The hotel has also replaced plastic straws with paper straws and these are only offered to guests on request. The take away breakfast choices are presented in natural woven containers vs plastic and wooden utensils are provided in lieu of plastic ones.

An intelligent AC system, which automatically turns off the air-conditioning in the suite if the patio doors are opened, has also helped to reduce wasteful electricity consumption. And guest linens are only changed daily if guests request, otherwise it’s every third day.

One of the most important initiatives that many guests won’t even be aware of, is that the luxury boutique hotel has hired an internationally acclaimed mosquito expert who has shown the property how best to sustainably eliminate / limit mosquito breeding areas without the use of chemicals so that fogging is required a lot less frequently.

137 Pillars Hotels - Anne Arrowsmith 

Ms. Anne Arrowsmith, General Manager of 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai, said, “We are very pleased with the results so far, but there is still a lot to do. Our next objective is to eliminate individual plastic shampoo, conditioner and lotion containers. It is important that we do this in a calculated manner to make sure that the changes we put in place are safe and suitable for guests and that they really do make a difference to our goal of a more sustainable future. We need to find an option that ticks all the boxes, and that can take time.

In Bangkok, 137 Pillars Suites & Residences already has an ongoing sustainable policy in place and has unveiled plans to expand this to more areas of the hotel – especially front of house.

The hotel, which opened in 2017, uses LED lights throughout the property to save energy, the air conditioning units in the room are also controlled by sensors so that when the doors to the very large balconies are open, the AC automatically turns itself off. The room key cards have a green function that can control what power is used when nobody is in the room, and motion detectors help to save electricity by turning off unneeded lights. The 2-step toilet flushing system helps to save water as does the high-tech sprinkler system in the gardens and the innovative pool treatment system. The advanced Heat Pump System not only helps keep the property nice and cool but has also been designed to save energy. These are just a few of the systems that are already in place at the luxury hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 39.

By this time next year, the hotel plans to have eliminated the use of plastic straws from all of its F&B outlets, replaced plastic water bottles in the rooms with glass bottles, replaced the plastic containers for shampoo, conditioner and body lotion with suitable dispensers, expanded its purchasing policy to more sustainable suppliers in Thailand and maximised its recycling efforts for any waste paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and aluminium.

137 Pillars Hotels - Bjorn Richardson

Mr. Bjorn Richardson, General Manager, 137 Pillars Suites & Residences, said, “We already have a solid foundation in place when it comes to sustainable best practices, but we are now taking this a step further. As a luxury hotel, our clients want to know that we are doing as much as we can to ensure that their stay is as sustainable as can be and our goal is to not only meet those expectations but to surpass them.

The group will also be conducting training sessions with its associates to ensure that not only are the hotels as sustainable as possible but that they take these best practices home with them. Associates will be encouraged to take their own bags to the shops, to say no to straws and plastic spoons when they are not needed, and to be much more proactive in their own daily lives.

Mr. Chris Stafford said, “This involves us all, and the solution has to start with education. If we can change the mind-set of a few people so that they adopt more sustainable practices in their daily lives, then all of us will benefit.

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai and 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok are both members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

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Published Date: 11th June 2018
Category: Travel Blog
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Travel Customers Rejoice

Travel Customers Rejoice.

Why you may ask?

Because on Holiday Bookings from the 1st July 2018, you will be more protected when you book.

Ever heard of the “Package Travel Directive”?

The New Package Travel Directive creates new legal protections for consumers beyond those purchasing traditional packages.

The way it looks to me is:

The travel market has evolved dramatically in recent years. The internet has allowed consumers to have access to every corner of the globe. Online travel agencies, niche tour operators, alternative suppliers, comparative rates websites, and online travel agencies have boomed through website sales and enhanced visibility to consumers. During this seismic shift in the travel sector, the Package Travel Directive has been developed and revised to bring trading standards and consumer protection up to speed to match the changing market.

Package Travel Directive - ATOL Logo

The clearest effect of this in the UK is that any existing Flight Plus (two or more travel arrangements) holidays will now be treated the same as a package holiday. Flight Plus is the term used in the ATOL Regulations 2012 to describe the type of holiday sale where a consumer requests to book a flight with accommodation and/or car hire at the same time or within a day, but which is not currently legally defined as a package. From 1st July 2018 the ATOL Regulations will incorporate that previous flight plus will have the same protection as package holidays.

So how will this affect you?

The Package Travel Directive falls into two parts, Responsibility and Terms


  • Linked Travel Arrangements (Multiple Suppliers)Online travel websites are extremely popular now. Many websites may specialise in one area, such as flights and then direct their consumers to all other travel arrangements through links to independent travel firms on their site. If two or more travel arrangements are booked within 24 hours of each other, through links, the new Package Travel Directive is now applicable. All Linked Travel Arrangement websites must also make Package Travel Directive Responsibility and Terms extremely clear to consumers on their websites.

You may have thought that because you are directed from a flight booking site to a hotel booking site you where covered, if your flight was cancelled, you’d get compensated for the loss on your Hotel. From 1st July 2018 this will be true. Websites that direct consumers to Independent travel firms will have to ensure that if a further booking takes place that these are linked and that the Package Travel Directive rules are applied.

  • Pre-Arranged Packages (Package Holidays)Any holiday pre-arranged by a tour operator that includes two or more elements will be included under the new Package Travel Directive. For example, a hotel plus car rental or a hotel plus transport.

With all the elements (flight, accommodation, cruise, transfers, car hire etc…) booked through one supplier, the responsibility is the Tour Operator (Tui, Jet2, Thomas Cook etc…). They are responsible for problems on every element, even if they use a third-party for the car hire such as Alamo, Europcar, Thrifty or Hertz or third-party transfers by Coach or Private Taxi in resort. In reality, the Tour Operators took that responsibility prior to the new legislation.

  • Customised Packages (Bespoke or Tailor-Made Holidays)– when a consumer chooses separate components of their holiday from one business, either online or offline they will now be covered by the new Package Travel Directive.

If your travel agent (the organiser of the package) sources different elements of the customised package from different suppliers, the travel agent will become liable for all elements. Prior to the new legislation Travel Agents could “Dynamically Package” various suppliers under a tour operators ATOL licence moving financial responsibility. From 1st July 2018 Travel Agents will need to re-think using more than 1 supplier for the package. Likewise, Tour Operators, if they are to keep ahead of the curve, need to create more strategic alliances with the specialist suppliers to sell their Brands, or the specialist suppliers need to take on providing additional services themselves becoming Tour Operators.


  • The organiser of a package will be made completely liable for any errors or mistakes. They cannot deflect blame onto third party suppliers. The consumer will now always be able to refer to their primary booking point.
  • Stronger Cancellation Rights – Consumers will be able to maintain the right to cancel any trip irrespective of the cause by paying a reasonable cancellation fee. Consumers will also have the right to transfer the package to an alternative traveller.
  • Free cancellation before departure will also be allowed in the case of natural disasters, war or other serious situations at the booked destination.
  • Booking information has to be clear. Consumers have a right to understand what they have booked and a clear explanation of the benefits of the protection offered under package holiday rules.
  • Predictable prices will be enforced. A maximum price cap of 8% for possible price increases will be enforced. If there are any further price increases the consumer has the right to cancel the trip.
  • The organiser of a package will now be required to support their clients in difficulty. Consumers cannot simply be directed to travel insurance solutions. The organiser must support clients in the case of health assistance and such like.
  • In all EU Member States the organiser of the package must rectify any issues. Also, the retailer, often the travel agent will be considered as fully liable.
  • If the organiser of a package goes bankrupt a money back guarantee or repatriation must be guaranteed and this will also be applicable to Linked Travel Arrangements in some situations.

So, when you receive your booking confirmation, be it linked, pre-arranged or a customised package make sure you are covered by the Package Travel Directive 2018 terms and conditions.

If you still go to one website and book your flights, then independently go to a second website to book your accommodation, these will not be linked and will not be protected by the Package Travel Directive.

Sources:              Travel Weekly – by Ian Taylor June 8th 2018 : http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/305515/package-travel-and-atol-regulations-finally-released

                             Protected Trust Services: https://www.protectedtrustservices.com/new-package-travel-directive/


Russ Allen Destinasia from Not Just Travel– 10th June 2018

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Published Date: 10th June 2018
Category: Travel Blog
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8 days, Kota Kinabalu to
Kota Kinabalu

From £ 781 was £919 – Valid on Jul 14, 2018



This eight-day Western Borneo Experience is perfect for the nature lover who wants to explore the beauty of Borneo while trekking and cruising through it. Trek through Gunung Mulu National Park and Camp 5, checking out Deer Cave as you go. Reward yourself with some relaxation and a picnic in the rainforest. Longboats and ferries will carry you along the Melinau River to the Wind and Clearwater caves, Kuala Litut, and the tropical island of Pulau Tiga, where you can spend your time snorkelling, kayaking, or visiting Snake Island. This tour is a perfect blend of activity and relaxation; exactly how time on an island should be spent.

Rain Forest

Travel Style: Classic

All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a great price.

Service Level: Standard

Comfortable tourist-class accommodations with character; mix of public and private transport.

Physical Rating: 3 – Average

Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking.

Trip Type: Small Group

Small group experience; Max 15

Age requirement: 12+

All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

What’s Included

  • Deer and Lang caves visit
  • Bat exodus observation
  • Wind and Clearwater caves exploration
  • Rainforest picnic
  • Headhunters Trail trek
  • Mud volcano visit and trek (Pulau Tiga)
  • Internal flight
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities


Hotels (3 nts), lodges (2 nts), traditional long house (2 nts, multi-share).


7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners

Allow USD 80-105 for meals not included.


Private vehicle, plane, longboat, ferry, boat, walking.

Staff & experts

Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.


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Published Date: 4th June 2018
Category: Travel Blog
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