Discover the Magic of Lapland

Lapland’s a place where Christmas dreams come true. It’s here where you’ll find Santa Claus’ homeland, a fairy-tale land with cosy log cabins dotted across the woods and miles of pine forests covered in a thick blanket of snow. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas getaway, then look no further, Lapland is top of the list.

Trips to Lapland are jam-packed with all kinds of Christmas activities imaginable.

Husky Sled Ride

Husky Sleigh Ride

You’ll be in husky heaven as you are led through the stunning wintry landscape by a team of enthusiastic huskies. Adults will even have the amazing opportunity to actually drive their own sled! At the end of the ride there will be time to have a cuddle with the huskies and learn how they’re trained.

Elf School

It’s better than school at home! Children can enrol into Elf School where they learn what it takes to be one of Santa’s little helpers. Once they qualify they’ll receive a special certificate.

Snowmobile Safari

Experience the thrill of driving a snowmobile through the breath-taking countryside and over frozen lakes. A snowmobile adventure is perfect to get off the beaten track and appreciate Lapland’s untouched landscape. For something a little bit more magical, embark on a snowmobile adventure at night and if you’re lucky, you may even spot the mysterious northern lights.

Arctic Wildlife Park

Here you’ll have the chance to get up close and personal with Arctic natives such as reindeer, wolves, and polar bears! You can observe the otters and boars tucking into their dinner.

Reindeer Sleigh RideReindeer

No trip to Lapland would be complete without a reindeer sleigh ride; the local guide will take you on a short journey through the picturesque Lappish countryside. You can even visit a reindeer farm where you’ll find out everything about how these festive animals are looked after.

Santa’s Post Office

Letters that are sent to Santa from children all over the world end up here, so the elves have an enormous job handling all the letters. You can send letters from Santa’s post office to absolutely anywhere in the world, so sit by the fireplace and write a letter to your friends and family back home. Your letter will even get its own special Santa stamp on it, which you can’t get anywhere else.

Rovaniemi, Santas Office

Meet Santa

Obviously, you can’t visit Santa’s homeland without meeting the big man himself! So get your Christmas list at the ready, as you’ll meet him in a traditional Lappish log cabin, there will most certainly be magic in the air!

 

Skiing

Skiing may not be on the agenda for the typical holiday to Lapland, however, it’s easy to learn how to ski here because it’s rarely crowded. Levi is known as the ‘official ski resort of Santa Claus’ and with over 65 miles of slopes and 26 lifts, it’s ideal if you’re new to skiing. However, there are more challenging slopes if you’re an experienced skier. Along the way you’ll come across some charming little huts where you can stop off for a rest.

Northern Lights

Keep your fingers crossed that you catch a glimpse of the spectacular Northern Lights during your stay in Lapland. Colours can vary from green, pink, purple and orange, this ensures a truly unique experience that you’ll never forget.

Lapland Northern Lights

Make your child’s dreams come true by visiting Lapland for a truly magical experience.

To find out more information about our Lapland deals please click here:  http://bit.ly/1eOCVWV

Six Spooky Holiday Destinations

Why not do something a little bit different for your next holiday and have a theme, a spooky theme. Plan a spook-tacular holiday this Halloween!

Salem, Massachusetts, USA

Salem is a place to intrigue and to scare; thousands flock to this city for the full Halloween experience and revel in the events which take place. Salem is infamous for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, where twenty six people were tried and put to death for being witches. Visit the Salem Witch Museum and learn more about this tragic event, or attend the Salem Witches Halloween Ball, which is held annually on 31 October and is a night of fancy dress, fun and dancing.  If you’re a TV and movie fan, then embark on the TV and Movie Sites Tour of Salem. Hocus Pocus was filmed on location in the city, as was the long running TV series, Bewitched. Salem also worked its way into Hollywood as numerous films and TV programmes referenced the witch hysteria in the city.

Salem

Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania

Where better to visit on Halloween than the home of the legendary character, Dracula? He may be fictional, but Bran Castle was once home to Vlad the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia, who was known for the brutal punishments he imposed during his reign and his cruel actions were the inspiration of Bram Stoker’s famous Dracula. The castle is now open to the public and you can book a special tour over Halloween to discover the truth behind the terrifying myths, a fang-tastic destination for vampire lovers.

Bran Castle Romania

Sleepy Hollow, New York, USA

This charming little village is widely associated with the Headless Horseman in the tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. It has now become one of America’s most iconic ghost stories. During October, there are tours through the historic Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where you’ll visit the final resting place of Washington Irving himself. On the tour, you’ll also visit Philipsburg Manor, which is transformed into a haunted house during Halloween.

Sleepy Hollow

Edinburgh, Scotland

The best way to experience the medieval city of Edinburgh is by booking a place on one of the many ghost tours across the city. Tours guide you through the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town and ghost stories are retold. Beware as thrills and shocks are guaranteed. On some tours you will be led through the Edinburgh Vaults, where the poorest lived when the Industrial Revolution took hold of Britain and where it is said serial killers used to hunt their victims. For something more family friendly, delve into Edinburgh’s horrible history at the Edinburgh Dungeon, which is based on the real history of the city, the tour is brilliant fun and sometimes scary.

Edinburgh

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is such a beautiful city but has lots of hidden stories. The famous Charles Bridge was once the site of executions in the 1600s and it has been said that the bridge is haunted by the men who were killed there. It is also said that the grounds of the Prague Castle are haunted by two governors who were thrown out of a window of the castle. Halloween has become increasingly popular in Prague in recent years and numerous themed parties are held over the weekend. So get on your best Halloween costume and party the night away.

Prague

Orlando, Florida, USA

Orlando’s world famous theme parks become dark and eerie, which makes it the perfect Halloween holiday destination for families. Walt Disney World is put under a spell when ghouls and goblins gather for Mickey Mouse’s Not So Scary Halloween event. Guests of all ages are asked to don their favourite Halloween costume and have fun trick-or-treating around the Magic Kingdom. For the teenagers, their worst nightmare can be found at Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights, when the park is transformed for the event. This is definitely the place to be for the ultimate Halloween holiday experience.

Halloween Universal Studios Orlando

Ruby Princess Cruise Ship

Cruises are a brilliant holiday option for families as there is something to do for everyone, and the Ruby Princess ship is packed full of activities to please all members of the family.

RUBY PRINCESS

On entering the ship you will be wowed by the atrium, spiralling staircases and a stunning glass chandelier, all of which will make it one of the most memorable hotel receptions you have ever checked in to.

The rooms provide you with all the necessities you’ll need such as hairdryer, fridge, TV and toiletries. The ladies will be pleased to know there is a spacious wardrobe, so no need to worry about cramming all your clothes together.

On board the Ruby Princess there are so many restaurants to choose from. We assure you that the food is absolutely divine wherever you choose to dine.

Horizon Court – a buffet restaurant that serves hot and cold food each day. You’ll be able to try food from all around the world with the Horizon Court’s theme nights from Mexican to Chinese food. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be in heaven with all the fresh cream cakes which are freshly baked every day.

Da Vinci’s – Da Vinci’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each night there is a variety of food served, a perfect opportunity to try something you may never have before. If you love tea, scones and cream cakes, pop to Da Vinci’s for afternoon tea.

Trident Grill & Pizzeria – if you want to maximize your pool time then this is the place to go if you fancy a quick bite, offering a selection of burgers, hot dogs, pizza and sandwiches.

Wheelhouse Bar – Missing home? The Wheelhouse Bar offers traditional English food such as pie and chips, cottage pie and bangers and mash.

There are two speciality restaurants on board the ship for an additional cost of $25.

Sabatini’s – Sabatini’s offers fine dining with a view. This restaurant is perfect if you are celebrating something special whilst on board. Try one of the mouth-watering desserts finished with a specialty Italian cocktail. It is recommended you reserve a table at Sabatini’s.

Crown Grill – The second of the ships speciality restaurants. The Crown Grill offers a variety of seafood, steak and special desserts; you’ll be in food heaven.

DESSERTFOOD

Selection of dishes from Sabatini’s

There is also a selection of bars and lounges to choose from. Whether you want to enjoy a quiet drink or to dance the night away in the night club, then you’ll certainly find something you’ll enjoy.

  • Wheelhouse Bar
  • Adagio
  • Vines – wine bar
  • Crooners
  • Pool Bars
  • Explores Lounge
  • Club Fusion – Entertainment Lounge
  • Sky Walkers – night club

There are drinks packages available.

Entertainment on board the Ruby Princess is varied to cater for everyone. Each evening you will receive a ‘Princess Patter’ which details the activities throughout the day and night.

Activities during the day include; dance classes from a range of salsa and line dancing, quizzes, and games such as bowls, darts and basketball. If that sounds too much, there is always the option of relaxing in the pool and spa.

The evening activities include live music each night, Movies Under the Stars an outdoor movie theatre; blankets are supplied for the cold nights. If you prefer to stay inside in the warm, then there is the inside theatre featuring a range of variety acts such as comedians, musicals and tribute acts.

MOVIES UNDER STARSTHEATRE

Wondering what there is for the kids? With a selection of three different kids clubs then we assure you that your children will have the time of their lives.

Princess Pelicans – age 3-7

Shockwaves – age 8-12

Teen Lounge – age 13-17

The kids will participate in numerous activities from disco nights, arts and crafts, pizza and ice cream parties, pool parties, karaoke, game console tournaments, the list is endless. The kids will be having as much fun as the adults.

Crèche facilities for under 3 year’s olds are available at an additional cost.

Whilst the kids are well looked after and occupied, what is there for the adults? With many adult only zones you can have pure rest and relaxation without worrying about the children. There is The Sanctuary an adult only relaxation area with private pool, although there is an extra charge of $20 for a half day.

 

POOL

We asked one of our customers who have recently been aboard this cruise ship how they found the experience:

‘I really enjoyed my time on board the Ruby Princess, this was my first ever Cruise and I would seriously consider choosing a cruise for my own personal holiday.

If I had the choice of an all-inclusive land holiday or a cruise, I would not hesitate the cruise would win. The quality of the food and drinks were fantastic, along with wonderful service and not to mention being able to take in a number of destinations.’

 

How To Take The Perfect Holiday Photo

Taking photos can be difficult, especially when you’re on your dream holiday and want to capture all those special moments. We know how important these memories are, so thankfully we are here to make sure each amazing moment is caught on camera.

shutterstock_59930344

Focus on the main subject – You want to make the main focus of your photo in the centre. Move in close to the main subject, the bigger it appears on the photo the more impressive it will be. You don’t want a busy background, so make sure the subject fills the space in the frame.

Get the group together – Taking photos of a large group can be a tricky business. Someone looked away, someone blinked, there is always one! To overcome this, take lots of photos of the group to ensure you have the perfect snap. You can never take too many photos when it comes to group pictures!

Capture the unexpected – Some of the best photos are taken when you least expect it. Whether it’s the kids playing on the beach, jumping in the pool, or running around chasing each other; these are perfect photo opportunities, as you’ll capture their natural smiles.

Plan ahead – Make sure your camera is fully charged each time you go out. Nothing will ruin your holiday mood more than knowing you haven’t brought an extra set of batteries or have forgotten the charger. It’s also best to clear the memory card, so there is room to take more photos – just be sure to save a backup of your previous holiday photos.

Christine Griffiths from our sister company Bath Travel is an avid travel photographer and has recently won Travel Weekly’s Travel Trade Photographer of the Year.

Here is her winning picture:

people 2

We asked Christine to share with us her top photography tips to make sure you take the best possible picture you can.

‘For me, the most important element that makes a good photograph is light. Light when used in the right way can enhance and dramatise your subject. I try to ensure that there is a heavy influence of shading and colour definition in every photographic opportunity I take. I feel this brings the subject matter to life, and triggers either an emotion or intrigue to the viewer. Angles then become more pronounced and allow a depth, preventing an image appearing flat. This technique is especially useful when photographing people. Combining this with light and an unstaged subject, try for the natural shot, with the person not necessarily looking down the lens. In a fixed pose this allows the photograph to appear real and more interesting.’

Here are a few of our favourite holiday photos which were submitted during the #SmileHaysTravel Photo Contest.

One last tip, don’t forget to smile!

 

 

Cruise, Cruise, Cruise

People who go on a cruise normally come back raving about their recent sailings and can’t wait to book up their next cruise holiday. Why wouldn’t they? Cruises offer so much variety for all members of the family and, with so many places to visit, each holiday is guaranteed to be the holiday of a lifetime.

P&O Cruises have unveiled their latest ship Britannia, the biggest cruise ship built for the British market. It is a family-friendly ship with children’s clubs, a night nursery and a teen only pool, and whilst the children are off having fun, the adults can be relaxing in the Serenity Pool & Bar.

Royal Caribbean’s newest addition is Anthem of the Seas; it’s a futuristic and modern cruise ship boasting many features that have never been seen before. On board there is a skydiving simulator, the North Star, a capsule that will take you above the ship and over the water with impressive 360° panoramic views of the ocean, and Dynamic Dining with 18 restaurants to choose from.

Both ships will be launching in Spring 2015.

Ventura

If you’re thinking about going on your first cruise holiday, here are a few reasons why a cruise is the perfect option for everyone:

You only need to unpack once

Once you’re on the cruise ship you only need to unpack once, then your floating hotel takes you from city to city. You get the opportunity to see all kinds of amazing cities, and you don’t have to worry about taking your suitcase with you.

Family-Friendly

Cruises aren’t just for adults; they are suitable for all ages! Toddler, teenager or grandparent, a cruise is a perfect holiday choice to suit every member of the family.

Variety of Activities

Cruises offer so much on board! Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships are jam packed with things to do, from rock-climbing for the kids, to spas for the parents. The variety of activities onboard the ships is what makes a cruise holiday perfect for a family holiday.

The Hays Travel Cruise Showcase event takes place on Sunday 14 September 2014 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Durham. 


Cruise event 2014

Top Five Spanish Islands

Spain is home to some of the most wonderful islands in Europe, many of which are divided between the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands. Each island is very different in its own way and all the islands have something to offer everyone.

Formentera

Formentera is a small island to the south of Ibiza, renowned for its pristine white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. If you’re enjoying a holiday in neighbouring Ibiza, a day trip to this little hidden gem is a must. Boats from Ibiza depart regularly throughout the day and the journey is approximately 30 minutes. The island is never as crowded as other Balearic Islands, even in popular summer months, so it’s a breath of fresh air if you’re looking for a secluded place to relax. As the island is flat, many people choose to rent a bike and explore the island’s beautiful beaches. You’ll be sure to find your own perfect piece of paradise in fabulous Formentera.

Formentera East tanga beach

 

Majorca

The largest of all the Spanish islands, Majorca is the king of the Balearics. Majorca has so much to offer and there is something to suit everyone. The island has countless beaches, if you’re after a relaxing beach holiday. Alcudia Beach is famous for its fine white sand and crystal clear shallow waters and Cala d’Or is surrounded by small golden beaches, which are a popular spot for snorkelling and diving. Looking for the perfect city break? A trip to stylish Palma is a must, where the gothic style Bellver Castle and the magnificent La Seu Cathedral are just waiting to be explored.

Cathedral of Palma de Mallorca

 

Tenerife

Tenerife has it all, year round sunshine, stunning nature and lively resorts. Popular resorts include Playa de las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje, each offering excellent nightlife, busy beaches and amazing water parks. In fact, Costa Adeje is home to the one of the biggest water parks in Europe; Siam Park. If you prefer to steer away from the bustling resorts, head to northern Tenerife. Here you’ll discover places such as to Puerto de la Cruz with its secluded black sandy beaches, many of which are perfect for surfing. There is more to Tenerife than just its beaches. In the middle of the island you’ll find Mount Teide, the highest point in Spain. On a clear day the views from the volcano are breath-taking.

Las Teresitas Beach, Tenerife, Spain

 

Ibiza

Ibiza, the party capital of the world is known for its legendary clubbing scene. This is the place to be if you want non-stop partying as the majority of clubs stay open till the early hours. During the day there are also numerous beach and boat parties taking place all across the island. Ibiza is blessed with stunning cove beaches – Cala Bassa on the west coast is a particular highlight with its white sandy beaches or there’s Cala Gracio on the outskirts of San Antonio, which is a more secluded beach as its neighbouring hotels are hidden away, so there is a sense of privacy. No trip to Ibiza is complete without watching the sunset in a stylish cocktail bar on the Sunset Strip.

Ibiza Town

 

Lanzarote

Lanzarote provides glorious sunshine all year round and a holiday on this island will not disappoint. The island has various beaches, each blessed with fine white or black sands and calm waters. When in Lanzarote, a trip to Timanfaya National Park is a must – this part of the island is known for its ‘martian’ landscape. Puerto del Carmen is the holiday hub of Lanzarote and if you’re after a variety of pubs, clubs and restaurants, this is the place to be. The beaches are golden and their warm waters are a popular place for snorkelling and scuba diving.

Arrecife

Natural Wonders of Europe

When we think of natural wonders, a few places spring to mind – the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon and many of the National Parks throughout the United States. But why travel thousands of miles across the globe, when some of the world’s most stunning and fascinating natural wonders are closer than you think?

Northern Lights – Nordic Region

During the winter months, the aurora borealis (commonly known as the Northern Lights) start dancing their way across the skies of the Arctic. The aurora borealis are caused by a collision of energetic charged particles with atoms at high altitude. This natural phenomenon causes many people to flock to Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, where they stand in awe and watch nature’s own light show. Colours can vary from green, pink, purple and orange, this ensures a truly unique experience. It’s no surprise this natural wonder appears on the bucket list of many, many people.

Northern LightsNorwegian Fjords

Breath-taking, picturesque and awe-inspiring are just some words that could be used to describe the fjords in Norway. Created by glacial erosion; they are usually narrow and steep and have shaped the landscape of Norway. By cruising through the gentle waters deep into the fjords you’re met by dramatic cliffs and greenery. You can easily run out of adjectives to describe the fjords, so why not head north and be enthralled by nature’s finest.

Fjord NorwayPlitvice Lakes – Croatia

A must see in Croatia. This National Park contains a series of sixteen tranquil blue lakes and trickling waterfalls and is one of the oldest parks in Croatia. Visitors are able to walk along the paths between the lakes and be charmed by the whole experience. The Plitvice Lakes look like a setting straight out of a fairy-tale, but there are no dragons or unicorns here, just a peaceful environment where visitors can admire the grandeur that nature has to offer.

Croatia - Plitvice Lakes