Why is the Belgian Circuit Part of Grand Prix Royalty?

Even the most unaware of us know that Formula One racing takes place on a huge amount of champagne-drenched circuits across the globe. Google “favourite Grand Prix courses” and you’ll find that Belgium’s Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is consistently top of anyone’s list, from amateur blogger to expert reviewer.

But why? We’ve taken a look at this world-famous track to guess why fans and drivers alike love the circuit and its home country.

Turns

The first hairpin turn of the race is an infamously sharp one, making it a breathtaking sight to witness and a heart-stopping one to hear. After taking the corner, the drivers speed down the bank at a tremendous rate. The vertical and lateral g-forces at play when the car reaches the bottom of the hill and zooms through the weaving Eau Rouge section must be as exhilarating to watch as they are to manoeuvre. Throughout the circuit, the cars meet a host of further high-speed corners such as Rivage and Blanchimont, as well as plenty of slower ones including Malmedy and Les Combes. Slower paced maybe, but they still demand absolute precision to accomplish without catastrophe. This perfect blend of Spa-Francorchamps’ twists and turns is surely a mighty contributor of the circuit’s fame.

Transformation

Perhaps the auto-adoring audience love the ‘calm vs. contest’ contrast that dominates the area during the race? This circuit is found in the peaceful forests outside Francorchamps, where serenity, nature and relaxing ambles reign supreme. But the lush terrain comes alive for Grand Prix. The clamour of excited fans and buzz of competitive drivers transform the land into a hub of hysteria that would look completely out of place from a bird’s-eye-view. Seeing a place reach the level of frenzied excitement that only a global sporting tournament can achieve amid such untapped tranquillity must be quite the experience.

The Belgian way

As if it needs saying, surely the host itself plays a part in its course’s stardom. Belgium has been a popular city-break destination for decades and continues to attract tourists to this day. Found in northern Europe, Belgium is flanked by distinguished countries and claims a short but crucial coastline on the North Sea. This country has a unique culture of traditional values sprinkled with a unique mix of Dutch, French and German influences. Modern and traditional arts are hugely appreciated in Belgium, and you can enjoy a variety of art and history museums, century-old architecture, and local Belgian festivals during your stay.

Top-notch catering

Chocolate and lager instantly spring to mind when you think of Belgian culinary delights, but it’s also renowned for both its waffles and French fries with mayonnaise. Of course, your eyes are surely on the prize when attending the Grand Prix, but who’s to say you can’t savour some treats too? You can discover the secrets behind chocolate creation at nearby La Roche-en-Ardenne, or merely sit back and sample a range of Belgian beers, from Leffe to Hoegaarden.

Its impact on Grand Prix antiquity

The colourful history of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is a serious boost to its allure. Built in 1921 for hosting Grand Prix events; it was actually used for motorcycle racing for its first three years and has been appointed The European Grand Prix six times between the 1925 and 1973. It’s also famously rained at the Belgian Grand Prix a massive 20 times in a row. Belgium’s circuit has gone through an array of changes including: relocation, scrapping slow turns, cancellations in the 1950s due to the Suez crisis, and Michael Schumacher surpassing the current world title by winning his 52nd Grand Prix here. As you can see, this Belgian track has a chequered-flag past to keep even an uninterested audience entertained and intrigued.

Danger value

Once considered the fastest circuit on the continent, the Spa-Francorchamps was eventually excluded in 1971 due to the refusal of authorities to make suggested changes. It was notorious for its slippery roads, high-speed sharp turns, and sending its drivers hurtling through public areas. As a result, Belgian authorities moved the race to another area. But the plucky Spa-Francorchamps fought back by cutting out perilous obstructions and roads through urban areas to boost its safety value. In 1985, it was even given an asphalt makeover to combat the constantly rain-soaked track. Unfortunately, an ironically hot day followed, breaking up the new safety feature so badly that cars couldn’t drive on it. But the thought was there, at least.

Belgian Gran PrixWith only a little digging, you soon uncover a treasure trove of delights that each help elevate Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps into the top of the racing-lover’s list. Now with 7km of track, 44 laps and a promise of world-famous drivers vying to hurtle passed the chequered flag first, this year’s race is set to be just as eventful.

Why not join us on our escorted tour to see the Belgian Grand Prix? Click here to view more information: http://bit.ly/1Le175d

photo by:

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Father’s Day is nearly here, but it’s not too late to plan the perfect day with your Dad! Forget mugs, socks and bottles of beer; treat him to something a little bit more special. Our gift ideas will be sure to put a smile on his face this Father’s Day.

If he’s a motor-racing or football fan

Robert KubicaThere are not many guys that don’t enjoy sport – whether it’s playing a game themselves or sitting in the stands as a spectator. If your Dad is a Formula 1 nut, why not treat him to tickets to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, or venture further afield to see the Belgian Grand Prix by coach? If he’s a footie fan – why not head to Manchester and book at stadium tour, to see behind the scenes at United’s Old Trafford or City’s Etihad Stadium?

If he’s a keen golferTiger Woods

What better way to enjoy some bonding time with your Dad, than a morning playing or watching golf. Take your pick from a wide choice of weekend breaks around the UK with their own golf courses attached. Or maybe consider tickets to the British Open Championships in St Andrews in July?

If he loves culturebarca sagrada

If your Dad loves museums and sightseeing then why not really splash out and treat him to a city break? Classic destinations such as Barcelona, Paris or Rome are always a hit. For something a little different, why not consider hopping over the Irish Sea to Dublin or jumping on a flight to Prague, both of which are steeped in culture and boast a lively night-time scene to boot.

 

If he’s a theatre or music lover

Why not whisk your Dad off to London’sLondon West End to see his favourite musical? Billy Elliott, Jersey Boys and Phantom of the Opera are amongst the most popular, but there are plenty of toe-tapping shows to choose from. You’ve also got many of London’s famous attractions to explore too, from rides on the London Eye, to visits to the London Dungeon, Madame Tussaud’s and the Tower of London. Or why not book to see his favourite band or artist live at the O² Arena?

If you would like more information, please pop into your local branch. Find your nearest Hays Travel or Bath Travel branch here: http://bit.ly/1hPMo3q

photos by: &

Hays Faraway Best of Vietnam Escorted Tour

Our very own John Hays, managing director of Hays Travel and Bath Travel, has recently escorted the Hays Faraway Best of Vietnam Tour.

Vietnam is a perfect country to explore. With booming cities, beautiful nature and an enviable climate, there’s never a dull day in this country. This remarkable place offers spectacular, contrasting landscapes from the emerald-green Fansipan Mountain to the majestic waterways of Mekong Delta.

VietnamHere are some highlights from the group’s Vietnamese adventure.

They began with a full day in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, which houses some awe-inspiring landmarks including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the revered One Pillar Pagoda.

Next, the group squeezed in a trip to both Ha Long Bay and Ha Long City. As an UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay is praised for its beautifully scattered islands and captivating karst landscape (a natural rock structure only found in certain parts of the world). There are around 1,600 islands in the bay, but not a single one fails to provide astounding, untapped beauty.

Following a brief journey, the group arrived in Ha Long City. Not ones to waste time, they climbed aboard a wooden junk — a traditional type of boat — and began to explore the magic of the district. Since it’s one of southeast Asia’s premier tourist hotspots, there was much to see and do.

Soon after, the group continued their journey with a visit to age-old Hoi An. Hopping on a cyclo — a three-wheeled bicycle — they went to visit its ancient village Tra Que. This quaint must-see sits at the edge of Hoi An and is famous for its aromatic herbs, including mint and basil. The group learnt to plant and water herbs and vegetables, as well as properly cook them for maximum taste. Mercifully, they were allowed to sample their culinary masterpieces before setting off. Old town Hoi An is actually recognised as an UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unusually well-preserved archaic streets and homes.

On the seventh day of the trip, the group travelled to Hue, via the scenic Hai Van Pass. This is essential if you want to see beautiful panoramic views of Vietnam’s central coastline. But they made sure to stop off at the picturesque Lang Co and savour the paradise of its hot, white-sand beach.

Hai Van Pass

After prising themselves away from the tropical coastline, the group eventually arrived in Hue. This began with a visit to the Imperial Citadel, the royal site of past ruling dynasties. They strolled through historical temples and gardens, and even explored the magnificent palace before ending their day with a visit to the Tomb of Minh Mang. This is the final resting place of the revered Emperor Minh Mang, who reigned from 1820 until 1841.

Following this culture refresher, the group headed to the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. This tunnel system covers almost 250km in length and was built to shelter over 16,000 members of the Viet Cong guerrilla force during the wars. The network has been used as hospitals, storage facilities, living quarters, and communication routes.

After some snap-happy exploration, the group set off on a city tour of the former capital of French Indochina. Once known as Saigon and now named Ho Chi Minh City, this iconic place is home to some astounding historic landmarks, including Binh Tay Market, Saigon Central Post Office, and Saignon Notre Dame Basilica.

Once another hearty breakfast in Ho Chi Minh City was devoured, the group ventured to Ben Tre Province, which sits comfortably wedged between two branches of the Tien Gieng River. Here, they saw where bricks are still painstakingly made by hand at the brick kiln of Phong Nam.

Later, they boarded a boat and cruised along the Chet Say River. This relaxing journey regularly stopped at various local workplaces, including a factory that heats coconut shells to produce charcoal! The cruise then docked at the quiet village of Delta, and the group jumped aboard a xe loi (motorized rickshaw) to go further into the peaceful village. This place appears utterly untouched by clock-hands: you can see farms, rice fields and vegetable plantations before making a pit-stop at a local house to enjoy a deliciously filling lunch. The group then took the scenic route along all the narrow canals back to Can Tho, the largest city in the region.

Vietnam 6

After a night’s stay here, the group embarked onto a local boat tour for a ride through the colourful floating markets of Cai Rang, before drifting through the labyrinths of streams and channels that surround Can Tho.

But alas, the UK Border Control queue began looming depressingly close. So, the group finished their staggering expedition with a final foray into Ho Chi Minh City — just to make sure not a sight, smell or sound was missed before leaving this stirringly diverse country.

If you would like to visit the stunning country of Vietnam then click here to view our Vietnam deals: http://bit.ly/1aNqMBM

Film Locations You Need to Visit

When a film is shot in an amazing location, we all end up dreaming about being there ourselves. Whether it’s wandering the lush land of The Shire, or dancing in the Austrian mountains singing “the hills are alive!” — admit it; you’ve always wanted to do it.

Sound of Music – filmed in Salzburg, Austria

If there’s one film that has truly stood the test of time, it’s The Sound of Music. You can embark on a bus tour dedicated to The Sound of Music through the charming city of Salzburg to visit many locations featured in the film. These include both Mirabell Gardens and Pegasus Fountain, where Maria sang and danced with the Von Trapp children during the iconic ‘Do-Re-Mi’ number. Thanks to The Sound of Music, so many people still visit the city each year. Although since 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the film’s release, any trip to Salzburg will be extra special this year.

Austria - Salzburg_134107592

Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – both filmed in New Zealand

New Zealand’s dramatic landscape was the perfect setting for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Both were filmed entirely in New Zealand, and super-fans will be delighted to know that many of the film’s locations are accessible to the general public. You can experience the real Middle Earth with a visit to Hobbiton Movie Set, which was the setting for The Shire that featured in both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

New Zealand - Hobbiton_274005011

Schindler’s List – filmed in Krakow, Poland

Steven Spielberg’s moving 1993 Holocaust drama is based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman born in 1908. He became an unlikely hero after turning his factory into a safe haven for Jewish people during the Second World War, which saved thousands of lives. The film not only won critical acclaim and a plethora of Academy Awards, but also had a huge impact in Krakow following its release. Many Schindler’s List tours are still available around the city, while Schindler’s factory is now a museum and a must-see for any visitor.

Wawel Castle, Krakow

The Beach – filmed in Phi Phi Island, Thailand

If one place is a prime example of paradise, it’s Phi Phi Island. The Beach, starring Leonardo Di Caprio, is about a group of young travellers that abandon society to live in a hidden lagoon in southern Thailand. Maya Bay on Phi Phi Island was the perfect location for the film. The island is surrounded by stunning turquoise waters and dramatic cliffs that plunge into the ocean; you can even visit Maya Bay and see first-hand why this stunning paradise was selected to be the backdrop for this 2000 film.

Thailand - Maya Bay_128142050

Mamma Mia – filmed in Skopelos, Greece

Skopelos is one of the most picturesque islands in Greece and a veritable feast for the eyes in the film adaption of the Abba-inspired musical. Part of the success of Mamma Mia was down to the beautiful Greek landscape that featured heavily in the film. The church that hosted Sophie’s wedding was filmed at Agios Ioannis Prodromos Monastery, which is located high up a cliff overlooking the tranquil waters of Skopelos. The harbour scene in Mamma Mia was actually filmed on the beautiful Greek isle of Skiathos, around one hour away from Skopelos by boat.

Greece - Skopelos_144299176

Frozen – inspired by Norwegian fjords

The world has gone Frozen-mad thanks to Disney’s wildly popular animation film, released in 2013. Cruises to Norway, the destination that inspired the smash-hit, have become increasing popular in recent years due to parents wanting to give their children an unforgettable ‘real life’ Frozen experience. Cruises are a fantastic way to experience the dramatic and stunning landscape of Norway. Whether you’re a Disney fan or just enjoy natural beauty, you’ll be in awe of the magnificent fjords, which were the inspiration behind this phenomenal film.

Norway - Olden_217017055

Which film location would you love to visit? Comment below to let us know! 

 

5 Reasons to Book with a Travel Agent

Planning a trip away can get so confusing and frustrating these days. With numerous travel websites to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start! We’re here to help take the stress away from you and make the process of booking a holiday easier. We have over 30 years of experience, so rest assured your holiday is in safe hands!

Vine Place 001

Widest Choice on the High Street

We’re the UK’s Largest Independent Travel Agent; this means we can offer the most extensive travel opportunities, from coach holidays to around the world itineraries. We also offer some holiday extras, including car parking and car hire, travel insurance and fantastic rates on foreign currency. We really are your one-stop-travel-shop!

Saves you time

Instead of searching the internet for the best deals days on end, leave it up to the experts. We’ll take all your needs and requirements into consideration whilst finding you your dream holiday. Whether you’re looking for a family getaway, honeymoon or flight only, we’ll do all the research for you at no extra cost. You won’t need to worry about a thing!

We will find you the best deal

We have a few tricks up our sleeves that you won’t find yourself using the internet. If you’re planning a cruise holiday, let us take you through the process of finding the best itinerary for you. Going on a theme park holiday? No problem, we’ll find you the best deals on park tickets. If you’re hitting the slopes on a ski holiday, you can hire your equipment, lift passes and tuition all in advance with us. Nothing is too big or too small for us!

We’ve got the knowledge

Thinking about booking a holiday but not sure where you want to go? We’ll listen to what you’re after and tell you exactly where’s suitable for you. Whether it’s a first ever girl’s holiday, ski trip, or a short break in the UK, we want you to have the best experience possible and we’ll make sure that happens for you. We even have resident experts throughout our branches in a variety of areas, from Disney experts to Cruise specialists; they’ve been to the theme parks or have enjoyed a cruise on the ship! They offer first-hand knowledge and will be able to answer any of your questions.

Think of us as your safety net

We all know that sometimes holidays don’t always go ahead as planned. Flights can get delayed or cancelled, luggage can get lost, an illness can occur abroad. Never fear, your travel agent is here! We’ll save you the time and stress of having to making numerous phone calls to automated numbers or people you’ve never even spoken to before. Hearing a familiar voice will help put your mind at ease.

Next time you’re thinking of booking a holiday, pop into your local Hays Travel or Bath Travel branch – we’ll be happy to assist you in booking your dream holiday. Find your local branch here: http://bit.ly/1hPMo3q

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day is nearly here, but it’s not too late to plan the perfect day with your Mum!  Forget chocolates and flowers; treat her to something a little bit more special. Our gift ideas will be sure to put a smile on her face this Mother’s Day.

If she’s a spa lover

All mothers need a bit of ‘me spatime’ every now and again, and there’s no better way to treat your mother (and yourself) than an indulgent day at the spa. Enjoy an afternoon of pure relaxation and allow her to unwind and be pampered from head to toe. Spoil her with a hot stone massage, a relaxing mud bath or a seaweed wrap for a Mother’s Day gift that ticks all the boxes.

If she’s a foodie

Afternoon Tea Rundle Lounge - Petit Fours

Mothers with a sweet tooth will love champagne afternoon tea! Finger sandwiches, jam and clotted cream scones, freshly baked cakes and macaroons all washed down with a glass or two of bubbly – what more could your mother want? You can choose from hundreds of beautiful locations across the UK, from country manors and swish hotels to cosy village cafés.

If she loves culture

SONY DSC

If your Mother loves art galleries, museums and sightseeing then why not really push the boat out and treat her to a swish city break? Classic destinations such as Amsterdam, Paris or Rome are always a hit. For something a little more off the beaten track, you could whisk her away to Spain’s Seville or Switzerland’s Bern; both of which are steeped in history, art and culture and are just waiting to be explored.

If she’s a theatre lover

London

Why not whisk your mum off to London’s West End to see her favourite musical? Wicked, Billy Elliott and Phantom of the Opera are amongst the most popular, but there are plenty of vibrant shows to choose from. Matinee performances are also available on many top shows, so you can spend the evening exploring the glitz and glam of the capital.

If you would like more information, please pop into your local branch. Find your nearest Hays Travel or Bath Travel branch here: http://bit.ly/1hPMo3q

photo by:

National Apprenticeship Week 2015

If you’re thinking about kick-starting a career in travel, then why not consider an apprenticeship with Hays Travel’s award-winning Apprenticeship Programme? We made it on to the list of the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers in 2012 and 2013 so we fully understand the value of apprentices to the company.

Apprentice Hays 800x800 Hays

Find out why you should consider an apprenticeship with Hays Travel

Kick start your career

Whether you’ve just left school or college and you’re on the hunt for your first ever job or if you’re looking for a career change, an apprenticeship is a great place to start! We at Hays Travel get to know you throughout the application process and we’ll place you in a job role which we feel will compliment your career prospects and skill sets.

Get a recognised qualification

Retail apprentices will work towards NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Travel Services, and our head office apprentices will work towards an NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration and NVQ Level 2 in Customer Services.

Earn while you learn

One of the benefits of choosing an apprenticeship is that you get paid whilst you complete it! You’ll feel more stable knowing there’s a pay cheque waiting for you at the end of each month. Our apprenticeship scheme combines on-the-job training with classroom learning. You’ll attend regular training sessions with our NVQ trainers to work towards your qualification.

Develop your skills and experience

Our apprenticeship scheme allows you to gain valuable experience within the travel industry; you’ll be working alongside experienced staff that can impact their wisdom to you. Our NVQ assessors are here to support you throughout your apprenticeship.

Variety of job roles

You can complete your apprenticeship within a variety of job roles, from an apprentice travel consultant in our retails branches to a variety of our departments in head office, including; marketing, IT, training and customer service, as well as many others. We’ll ensure that you are placed in the most suitable department to enable your personal development.

Meet our current apprentices and see how they’re getting on with their first year working for Hays Travel and our sister company Bath Travel.

Name: Jayne Dowell Jayne Dowell

Job role: I work at Hays Travel Head Office as a Marketing Apprentice.

Tell us a bit about what your job role entails:

Part of my job role includes dealing with queries from both Hays Travel and Bath Travel retail branches. This involves issuing and redeeming gift vouchers, point of sale updates, and ordering any items requested by the branches. I also source offers to go on the TV screen in branches, and liaise with external companies to organise and produce content for the Personal Travel Consultant and Premier Homeworker website. I answer incoming calls and greet external visitors at reception and carry out general administration duties.

What qualification are you working towards?

I am currently working towards an NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration; next year I will be working towards an NVQ Level 2 in Customer Service. I regularly attend training sessions with the other apprentices to complete work for my qualification and also have monthly visits from my NVQ assessor who supports me throughout my apprenticeship.

What is your favourite thing about working for Hays Travel?

One of the highlights of working for Hays Travel is that the people I work with are so friendly. When I first started working here everyone made me feel welcome and I felt part of the team straight away. My colleagues in the marketing department have helped me to develop my knowledge and skills, meaning I now have a greater understanding of the importance of marketing within the company.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

I am looking forward to going to Paris at the end of this year. I’ve always wanted to go to Disneyland Paris since I was younger and now I finally get to go!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

In five years’ time I would have liked to have developed my career further within the Hays Travel marketing department.

Name: Amy Hogan amy

Job role: I work as an Apprentice Travel Consultant at Bath Travel Torquay.

Tell us a bit about what your job role entails:

My job entails working with my colleagues to ensure the office is performing well and we are working well as a unit, assisting our customers to find the best deals for them for their perfect holiday. I also use our systems to administer enquiries, confirmations and tickets for customers, as well as helping around the office on a day to day basis by checking window cards and replenishing the brochure shelves! In particular, I am responsible in my branch for updating our Facebook page on a regular basis and using my creative abilities to come up with new ideas, offering our best rates on foreign exchange, and ensuring my colleagues do as well. I do this by checking the forex forms on a daily basis. I keep up to date with my NVQ coursework and work with my assessor to ensure I am completing my work to the best of my ability.

What qualification are you working towards?

I am on the first year of my qualification so I am working towards an NVQ Level 2 in Travel Services, and next year I will be working towards a Level 3.

What is your favourite thing about working for Bath Travel?

I really enjoy working for Bath Travel because it’s a company I can trust. They’re constantly working on updating and improving which is a great thing for us and for the customers. The people I work with are all really helpful and incredibly supportive, making sure I take time on my studies as well as learning day-to-day in the branch.

Where is your favourite holiday destination?

My favourite destination has to be Turkey. I’ve been a few times now, always to different destinations – but I have loved each one! The people are lovely and friendly and I think it’s a beautiful place.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

In 5 years’ time I would like to see myself working well and confidently within the Torquay branch, hopefully working towards becoming a top selling Travel Consultant.

100 Apprentices 800x800 HaysSeveral previous apprentices have gone on to progress within Hays Travel to hold senior positions. Many of our apprentices choose to stay with us for a long time and enjoy a happy and fulfilling career in the travel industry. One of our senior members of staff Paula Barrett joined us as an apprentice in 1990 and has enjoyed a 25 year long career with us; she is now Head of Hays Retail.

Each year we employ over 100 apprentices in many different departments throughout the company, whether it’s at Hays Travel or our Bournemouth based Bath Travel we’re sure to place you in the department most suitable for you.

If you’re interested in completing an apprenticeship at the UK’s Largest Independent Travel Agent, click here to apply: http://bit.ly/1jl6P98.

The deadline for this year’s applications is 13th March 2015 so there is still time left for you to apply!