Joanna Lumley

National treasure Joanna Lumley OBE FRGS is the leading Appeal Patron for Grange Park Opera’s ‘Theatre in the Woods’ in Surrey, the first new opera house to be built in the UK for decades.

Happily, it is not far from our shop in Haslemere, so we grabbed the chance to catch up with Joanna to ask about her travels, love of music …and black trousers


As an author, actress, TV presenter and former model, has overseas travel always played an important part in your life?

Yes because I was born in a suitcase leaving India at the age of one and living in Hong Kong and Malaysia until I was eight. Long sea voyages punctuated my childhood and left me with a longing to keep moving.

What do you never forget to pack on your travels?

Black trousers, a torch and books.

Which passport stamp are you most proud of?

Pretty keen on my Mongolian one.

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Do you have a favourite destination you return to as often as possible?

I loved Ethiopia, where I made part of a documentary, with a passion, and plan to return as soon as I can

Where would you like to go next…?

India again: filming but also savouring the fabulous variety of that stupendous country.

Taj Mahal India p11Who is your dream travel companion?

My husband; but I mostly travel now with a tiny film crew. We have become best friends and I love working with them.

Music plays a big part in your life too…why is it so important to you?

I was born listening to the greats… Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak, Chopin… on a wind-up gramophone in the Far East. I would suffocate with no music in my life.

What persuaded you to take on the role of Patron for Grange Park Opera (GPO)’s appeal for its exciting, new Theatre in the Woods?

It was the easiest decision I have ever made. I love what GPO does, and how it behaves: all are welcome and their standards are sky-high. The Theatre in the Woods is stunningly attractive and will be a new wonder of the glorious Surrey countryside.

Theatre in the Woods - model

What are your ambitions for this extraordinary new opera house, currently being built in 350 acres of Surrey countryside surrounding 15th century mansion West Horsley Place?

It will be utterly magical: the combination of the majesty of that ancient house and its grand spreading gardens, and the music and dance that will take place in the Theatre in the Woods will be unbeatable.

GPO initiatives such as £35 tickets for the under-35s seek to encourage the young to sample opera – do you recall your first performance? Grace Bumbry singing Aida in about 1964… awesome.

When the curtain rises on 8th June 2017, sum up in three words what you will be feeling…?

Thrilled, proud and happy.

If you could cast your perfect opera, who would perform and what would it be?

Maria Callas and Jussi Bjorling in Tosca. Hearing Callas singing Vissi d’arte is a masterclass in both singing and acting; she was truly as good as it gets. She knew exactly how to portray passion, despair, love and hatred, and Puccini’s music is sublime. Jussi Bjorling had a voice I would swim oceans to hear. A giant.

And if you had to describe yourself as a character in an opera, who would it be and why?

I would rather like to be the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro: although she has a rather wretched time with a scoundrel of a husband, she has an aria so lovely that whenever I hear the music beginning I start to sob hopelessly.



Would you like to win a holiday  to the Caribbean?
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It could be you wandering along this beach dipping your toes in the Caribbean sea.

To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is book your holidays with Haslemere Travel in 2017 and you may be the lucky one. The more holidays you book, the more opportunities you have.

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Haslemere Travel is offering one lucky couple

7 nights, All Inclusive at East Winds, St Lucia

This gorgeous boutique property is an exclusive-inclusive hotel … the inclusions in this prize are exceptional and are as follows:

  • Full made to order and buffet breakfasts
  • Island inspired lunch buffets and oceanfront lunch barbecues
  • Silver service four course dinner menu with once weekly land and sea barbecue dinner
  • All day lite-fare menu
  • Wines carefully paired nightly from the resort’s wine cellar for all dinner services (2 reds, 2 whites, 1 rose different nightly)
  • All restaurant and bar beverages by the glass: wine, beer, spirits, cocktails and soft drinks (all international brands)
  • Champagne served each evening, and year round
  • Fully stocked and personalized mini fridge, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Breakfast and lunch hampers available for guests participating in daily island excursions
  • Vegetarian choices always available
  • Sparkling wine and chocolates (or equivalent) in the room upon arrival.
  • Daily access to the resort’s “Exclusive Experiences” activity and day trip schedule
  • Complimentary market and shopping tour every Saturday
  • Weekly cocktail party with canapés
  • Yoga and Pilates classes 4 times a week
  • Free water sports: hobie cats, pedalos, standup paddleboards, kayaks, aqua view boards and snorkelling equipment.
  • Activities: open air fitness area, shuffleboard, DVD library
  • Nightly live entertainment including after dinner entertainment on Wednesday and Saturday evenings

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More about East Winds

Over the past 2 years East Winds on the beautiful island of Saint Lucia has been upgraded throughout.  The Oceanfront rooms have undergone the most recent refurbishment, following the upgrade of all the Deluxe rooms earlier in the summer.  Not only do the Oceanfront rooms and the fabulous suite offer an inviting  position overlooking the beach and sea, but guests can  now also enjoy  the upgraded interiors with Molton Brown amenities and exclusive  handcrafted artwork by local Saint Lucian artist Michelle Elliott.

The food is delicious.  A different  mouth- watering 4 course gourmet menus is served 6 night a week, accompanied by a choice of quality wines. The ambience is relaxed and the staff are so friendly that you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.

This all-inclusive hotel offers all meals, branded drinks and wine, non motorised watersports and a huge list of ‘exclusive experiences’.  Guests can enjoy morning yoga and Pilates, Cocktail Making, Island Cooking Classes, Guided Walks, Rum Tasting, Sunset Cruise, Boat trip to the Pitons and more.

Under private ownership the hotel is committed to maintaining the wonderful qualities now expected at this superb boutique hotel and guests can be assured of a perfect holiday retreat.

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Terms & Conditions

  • All package holidays booked in 2017 will be entered into the competition.
  • Flights or accommodation only bookings, ancillary services and insurance bookings do not apply.
  • Prize will be drawn in January 2018 for travel between April and December 2018 – subject to availability and black out dates may apply.
  • Flights and transfers not included in the prize.  These may be booked via Haslemere Travel.
  • Prize is non transferable.
  • Winners consent to appearing in marketing and promotional material relating to the prize, to be used for promotion both by Haslemere Travel and East Winds Hotel.
  • Booking can be made no more than 60 days prior to requested arrival date
  • No cash alternative for this prize.
  • Additional travellers and nights may be added on, only via Haslemere Travel.

For further details or a brochure on East Winds, please do pop into the Haslemere Travel office or call 01428 658777.

Costa Rica has long been regarded as the “Switzerland of the Americas”, with its peaceful history, lack of armed forces and scenic pasturelands; but it also boasts magnificent wildlife, a rugged Pacific coastline, as well as Caribbean beaches, 800 species of bird, four types of primate, two species of sloth, numerous snakes and insects. A nature lover’s paradise, where the countrywide emphasis on protection has allowed species to flourish.

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I visited in June and flew directly with BA to San Jose, staying overnight at the peaceful Hotel Grano de Oro, converted from a tropical Victorian mansion. An early start the next day (with breakfast boxes provided) was followed by a drive along the Pan American highway towards the Caribbean coast to Torteguero and the riverside Pachira Lodges (short flights are also an option). The last leg of our journey was by boat, a great way to start spotting wildlife – we saw caiman, geckos and red dart frogs.

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On arrival, we were immediately introduced to more of the celebrated Costa Rican wildlife, as monkeys can spring out at you at any moment! Boat trips along the river gave me the opportunity to spot more animals (such as armadillo, howler and spider monkeys, white-faced capuchins, lizards, turtles and a variety of birds) – I recommend either the 6am or 4pm trips for the best chance to see them active. July and August is the best time to go if you want to see the turtles laying their eggs.

An alternative hotel I also recommend was the Evergreen, which has 66 rooms and bungalows, a good pool area and plenty of activities on offer, as well as a canopy tour, kayaks and river guides.

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After a short flight with amazing views of Torteguero, the river and national park, we arrived back at San Jose and a nearby coffee plantation, before reaching Poas Volcano. One highlight of our stay at Relais & Chateaux property El Silencio in Bajos del Toro (approx. 1.5 hours from San Jose) was a walk to the waterfall; it is set in a 550-acre cloud forest reserve close to Poas Volcano Park.

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Next on our fascinating trip was Arenal, a very active destination for adrenaline junkies, activities range from hiking up Arenal or zip wiring to Zorbing. I chose to visit the hanging bridges of Mistico. Our first attempt was thwarted by an amazing thunder and lightning show; the guide was very informative about both flora and fauna. The Arena Springs Hotel is great for families, with 3 restaurants, some interconnecting rooms and pools heated from the hot springs. I partuclarly liked the Kiora Hotel, with rooms which have hot tubs and full views of the volcano.

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Following a drive down the Pacific coast – via a stop at Monteverde to see the wonderful sloths – we arrived in the town of Manuel Antonio, with a chance to relax by the sea. But wildlife is still never far away, with an early morning visit to the national park offering us the chance to see more sloths and especially capuchins, who seemed to know when we were due to eat our lunches on the beach and raided our backpacks!

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Arenas del Mar is a boutique hotel within walking distance of the national park and a good choice for those seeking relaxation. Si Coma No hotel has its own conservation programme of rescued alligators and is very popular with couples, as they boast amazing honeymoon suites with stunning views of the ocean. My hotel for two nights, The Parador Resort, is built high over the coastline in 12 acres of tropical rainforest with a resident sloth, another good option for families with 4 pools and a swim up bar for adults, tennis courts, spa and babysitting. Once again you have to be prepared for wildlife to carry on with their busy lives around you…

To discuss your adventure in Costa Rica or other parts of Central America, please call Susie & Terry on 01428 658777

Check out our latest Costa Rica OFFERS


The Grand Hotel Tremezzo in lake Como, Italy is undoubtably one of the worlds finest hotels.  With accolades including a place on the Conde Nast ‘Gold List’ for 2017, Hotel of The Year 2016 from Preferred Hotels & Resort, 2016 Premio Excellent award and 2016 Best Hotel with a view Haute Grandeur, these just scratch the surface of the great many achievements this stunning property holds.

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Enea Gandola was a gentleman from Bellagio who had travelled widely in Europe with his wife Maria Orsolini. After their return to Italy they wanted to create something of class and sophistication on one of the world’s most beautiful lakes, a grand hotel that could satisfy the demands of this new type of tourist. The Gandolas chose this extraordinary location, bordering on the gardens of Villa Carlotta, which alone commands the best view on Lake Como. The Grand Hotel Tremezzo opened on 10 July 1910. Changing hands only once more beofre being taken over by the De Santis family in the 1980’s, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo has remained the palace that it was always designed to be.

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Vanentina, the granddaughter of the De Santis family is now CEO of the families empire and exudes glamour and femininity into the hotel in only the way the Italians can.  Naturally this gem of a hotel is perfect for couples of any age.  Its romantic location on the shore of Lake Como makes it perfect for weddings, anniversary celebrations and weekends away, but how does such a property look after its family guests.  Ray, Gemma and Aurelia stayed at the property during the Easter holidays to find out…….

A quick flight over to Milan and an hours drive along the scenic shores of Lake Como is all it takes to arrive in pure Italian luxury.  The Grand Hotel Tremezzo certainly lives up to its name…its exceptionally ‘grand’.  In the lobby area alone you will find 8ft hight displays of roses, plush furnishings and staff to greet you, dressed head to toe in Italian couture.

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Shown to our suite, the beautiful ‘Suite Aurelia’ named after Valentina’s Great Aunt (and our daughter) with stunning views of the floating pool and the lake itself, we knew we were in for a very special few days, but would we have to tread on eggshells with our ‘mini travelista’.   Absolutely not!Screen Shot 2016-12-29 at 13.01.09

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We knew as soon as we saw the extensive sweet display in reception and the teddy’s in the room that despite the appearance, families were very much welcome.  At every opportunity the staff throughout the hotel made us feel like the palace was our home and were on hand to suggest plenty of family friendly activities in the local area.

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We ventured over the Bellagio on the other side of the lake, taking a short 10 minute ride on the local ‘ferry’ which departs a few hundred yards from the hotel.  The cobbled streets, unique boutiques and eateries provided plenty to do for an afternoon exploring.

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Another option is to take the hotel car 4km north of the property to Menaggio where the square provide the perfect backdrop against the lakes shore, for people watching and gelato eating – an absolute ‘must’ when in Italy.

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Adjacent to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo is Villa Carlotta, the most famous villa on Lake Como. Its botanic gardens are filled with orange trees knitted into pergolas and some of Europe’s finest rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias.  Its also a great space for children to play hide and seek and run off any energy.   The villa, strung with paintings, sculptures (some by Antonio Canova) and tapestries, takes its name from the Prussian princess who was given the place in 1847 as a wedding present from her mother. Upstairs, rooms with period furniture provide an insight into the life of the princess.

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Another great villa to visit on the lake is Villa Balbianello, where scenes from 2006’s James Bond remake, Casino Royale, and Star Wars Episode II were shot.  It is one of the most dramatic locations on Lake Como (if not the world). Built by Cardinal Angelo Durini in 1787, Villa Balbianello is set amid florid gardens on a promontory.

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The hotel owns its own Venetian motor launch, Ruy, that can be taken out at your leisure or just spend an afternoon at the hotel enjoying the award winning spa, whilst the children look for ‘Bobo the bear’ in the gardens.  There really is so much to do.

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The dining experience at The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is exquisite, with 5 restaurants and bars to choose from.  Our favourite, La Terezza, was wonderfully romantic, but not too stuffy to serve hand made pizza to our daughter, following a tour of the kitchen.  Its simple touches like these that provide those unique experiences children don’t forget.

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We really didn’t want to leave, but as they say ‘you have to leave to come back again’….and we will definitely be back!

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To discuss The Grand Hotel Tremezzo please call Gemma on 01428 658777

Further details about The Grand Hotel Tremezzo 














Haslemere Travel is a very proud member of AITO Specialist Travel Agents.

AITO Specialist Travel Agents

While the large chains continually claim to be the number one travel agent in the UK they use only the one criteria – volume. When it comes to value for money, quality of product, original thinking, innovative ideas and customer satisfaction, they are well down the list.

Mass market tour operators cannot hope to provide the same expertise and local knowledge as a small specialist, which is why the smaller companies always top the list in the major Travel Awards. The quality of product and unique experience ensure a high level of repeat business for specialist operators.

If you already have a special interest or are keen to learn something new, then a holiday is the ideal time to give it your full attention, from gentle and relaxing to action packed, AITO Specialist Travel Agents members can find just the right holiday for you, at the right price.

AITO Specialist Travel Agents was formed to promote choice and quality and is the preferred retail arm of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. Members are totally independent of all the major UK travel groups and offer a range of specialist products not generally available through the large High Street travel agency chains.

SYS Logo 2016

We are delighted to be once again organising the Surrey Young Superstars awards this year, in association with the county’s largest voluntary youth organisation representative Surrey Youth Focus.

Now in their fourth year, we are immensely proud of these countywide awards, which we founded in 2012 to recognise and reward the varied achievements and efforts of young people aged 5-19 years.

Trophies and certificates

The awards are free to enter – and this year the award winners will receive their star trophies and certificates from HM Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux at a special awards ceremony on Sunday, May 8th at the Guildford Harbour Hotel in Guildford, Surrey.

Tracy Edwards and Winners Best
Surrey Young Superstars 2015 Winners

New for this year is a Community Superstar category, so if you know of a deserving individual or group who have gone that extra mile for their community, then do please enter them now.


Other award categories include Caring Superstar, Courageous Superstar, Fundraising Superstar (aged 5-12), Fundraising Superstar (aged 13-19) and Volunteering Superstar. Full details of the Entry Criteria are attached here.

All the Highly Commendeds & VIPS
Surrey Young Superstars 2015 Highly Commended

The awards are generously sponsored by the Guildford office of international real estate adviser Savills, the Guildford Harbour Hotel and Surrey Life magazine. This year they are also in support of Surrey-based charity, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).


Gemma Antrobus, owner of Haslemere Travel, founder and joint organiser said: “We remain extremely proud of the Surrey Young Superstars awards and its past worthy winners. I am looking forward to hearing more about what selfless, talented and enthusiastic young people in our beautiful county have achieved over this past year.


Surrey Youth Focus CEO, Cate Newnes-Smith said: “Surrey Youth Focus is delighted to be partnering Haslemere Travel for the Surrey Young Superstars 2016. Through our Communilab Community we are promoting ways in which businesses and the voluntary youth sector can come together to serve young people in Surrey, and this is a fantastic example. We look forward to celebrating young people’s achievements at the ceremony in May.”

Surrey Young Superstars 2015 Mini Movie Clip – Watch Now!

The awards are open for nominations now!

FINAL Rules Criteria A4 2016 PRINT

FINAL Entry Form Fillable A4 PRINT 1 copy FINAL Entry Form Fillable A4 PRINT copy


For the 10th year running, Haslemere Travel are delighted to announce that we have been hand picked by Belmond, a collections of iconic hotels, trains and river cruises, as one of a select few UK Travel Agents to join their exclusive ‘Bellini Club’.

The invitation-only Bellini Club has been developed to forge a closer relationship between Belmond and the very best agencies throughout the world, in order to not only grow the brand, but to provide the agencies clients with EXCLUSIVE benefits, not available anywhere else.


As a Haslemere Travel client, when booking any of the Belmond hotels, trains or cruises (please see below) you will receive:

  • Complimentary upgrade at the time of check in, subject to availability.
  • VIP amenities and a personalised welcome from the General Manager.
  • When spending over 5,000 US dollars on an Belmond experience, you will receive a 500 US dollar gift voucher to be redeemed on a future Belmond reservation – terms & conditions apply.
  • Complimentary high-speed internet access with any room type booking
  • The hottest deals available in advance.
  • Exclusive journey’s, master classes and offers.
The team at Haslemere Travel have visited a great number of the Belmond hotels and have also experienced their train journeys, so have first hand experience to help guide you to the most suitable of these iconic properties.  Always on hand to discuss your next travel adventure, please call the team on 01428 658 777 or visit us in the shop.


A little reminder of the collection:


Belmond Grand Hotel Europe – St Petersburg, Russia
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo- Sicily, Italy
Belmond Hotel Caruso – Ravello, Italy
Belmond Hotel Cipriani – Venice, Italy
Belmond Hotel Splendido – Portofino, Italy
Belmond La Residencia – Mallorca, Spain
Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – Oxfordshire, UK
Belmond Reid’s Palace – Madeira, Portugal
Belmond Villa San Michele – Florence, Italy
Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea – Sicily, Italy
Belmond Afloat in France – Burgundy, Languedoc
Belmond British Pullman – UK
Belmond Royal Scotsman – Edinburgh, Scotland
Venice Simplon-Orient-Express – Europe
The Grand Hibernian – Ireland

Belmond Cadogan – London


Belmond Governor’s Residence – Yangon, Myanmar
Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali – Bali, Indonesia
Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor – Siem Reap, Cambodia
Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao – Luang Prabang, Laos
Belmond Napasai – Koh Samui, Thailand
Belmond Road To Mandalay – Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar
Eastern & Oriental Express – Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand


North America

’21’ – New York, New York
Belmond Charleston Place – Charleston, S.C.
Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara, California
Belmond The Inn at Perry Cabin – St. Michaels, Maryland


Caribbean & Mexico

Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada – San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Belmond La Samanna – St. Martin, French West Indies
Belmond Maroma Resort and Spa, Mexico

Belmond Cap Juluca – Anguilla


South America

Belmond Copacabana Palace – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas – Iguaçu National Park, Brazil
Belmond Hotel Monasterio – Cuzco, Peru
Belmond Palacio Nazarenas – Cuzco, Peru
Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado – Sacred Valley, Peru
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge – Machu Picchu, Peru
Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel – Lima, Peru
Belmond Hiram Bingham – The Andes, Peru

Belmond Andean Explorer – Peru

Belmond Las Casitas – Peru


Southern Africa

Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel – Cape Town, South Africa
Belmond Safaris – Botswana

The ultimate travel curator and connoisseur, Belmond embraces a global collection of 45 iconic hotels, trains and river cruises. Their diverse portfolio brings together some of the world’s most thrilling journeys and destinations.

You’ll find Belmond in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. The great travel experiences range from Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice to Rio’s Belmond Copacabana Palace, from the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train to Belmond Grand Hotel Europe in St Petersburg. Journey across the Andes, through IndoChina and around Italy’s most famous sights.

Masters of the art of hospitality, Belmond are known for adding inspiration to celebratory occasions of every kind, from discreet dining to takeovers of entire hotels.



An exciting opportunity has arisen to join our award winning team in Haslemere, Surrey.

  • Full time, experienced, leisure travel sales consultant – to start as soon as possible.
  • Working hours – Monday to Friday 09:00 to 17:30
  • Share on the Saturday rota 09:30 to 13:00, with a half day in lieu the following week (approx 2-3 per month)
  • 25 days annual leave + bank holidays
  • Travel sales consultants are expected to travel at least twice per year, on educational visits, to experience new hotel and destinations – usually 1 x short haul + 1 x long haul  – These trips are fully funded by Haslemere Travel
  • Training opportunities in the form of conferences, networking and dinners hosted by our top suppliers
  • Competitive salary with an additional annual bonus (performance dependent)
  • A variety of travel related benefits

To apply for this position, please submit you CV, a summary of your destination & product experience and covering letter to Gemma Antrobus – [email protected]

  • Applicants must be able to travel to Haslemere (GU27) each day
  • Applicants must have the correct passport and visa requirements to work in the UK
  • Be confident in selling leisure travel in a face to face environment and have a good telephone manner
  • Have a good knowledge of the independent, luxury travel market
  • Understand how to plan holidays bespoke to clients requirements
  • Computer literacy is imperative and knowledge of the GDS (Gal) is a bonus, but not essential

Tracy Edwards and Winners Best

More than 30 deserving young people, aged from 12 to 19 years-old and from all areas of Surrey, were rewarded on Sunday 10th May at the Surrey Young Superstars 2015 awards, receiving their trophies and certificates from celebrated round-the-world yachtswoman  and Just a Drop patron, Tracy Edwards MBE.

Trophies and certificates

The ceremony took place at Guildford’s Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel and was organised by the team at Haslemere Travel, in partnership with the county’s largest voluntary youth organisation representative, Surrey Youth Focus.

Romeo Johnston-Hakke & mum

Terence Arnold & family

The awards showcased the many achievements of young people in Surrey, as well as raising awareness of Just a Drop.

Gemma Tracy Brendan Just a Drop

The 2015 award categories and their winners are:

Caring Superstar: 14 year-old Ronnie Barley

Individual Fundraising Superstar (5-12 years): (now 13 year-old) Josh Bryan

Individual Fundraising Superstar (13-19 years): 17 year-old Luke Kitterman

Volunteering Superstar (Individual): 19 year-old Samuel Wong

Volunteering Superstar (Group): Surrey Heath Youth Council

Enterprise Superstar: Epsom & Ewell PHAB youth club

Courageous Superstar: 14 year-old Bella Symons

Jessica Bloomfield & high Sheriff[8]

Tracy Susanne-Marie Scouts best[8]

The overall winner of the top award, Superstar of the Year, was Ronnie Barley, who also received an ‘Adopt An Animal’ prize from the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Gemma Antrobus, managing director of founder and joint awards organiser Haslemere Travel said: “Now in their third year, once again Surrey Young Superstars was a wonderful showcase for young people in Surrey – demonstrating their community spirit, unsung bravery and hard work. The judges were hugely impressed by the record number of entries we received and the Haslemere Travel team wish many congratulations to all of the worthy winners.”

All the Highly Commendeds & VIPS

Surrey Youth Focus CEO, Cate Newnes-Smith said: “The event was a fantastic celebration of the positive and inspiring achievements made by young people in Surrey. Voluntary youth organisations from across the county put forward nominations, and we would like to encourage all those supporting young people to get in touch via to find out how they could be involved next year.”

Surrey Young Superstars 2015 Mini Movie Clip – Watch Now!

Keep up to date with Surrey Young Superstars news……

@SurreyYoungStar /  @HaslemereTravel  /  @SurreyYF

Japan truly is the most wondrous destination.  In only 12 hours you arrive into a country that is not only stunning, with its four very distinct seasons but also equally as culturally rich.

As a first time visitor to Japan I took a route taking in Tokyo, Hakone (to see Mt Fuji), Kyoto and Osaka – a great option for a first timer.  This journey enabled me to sample an equal mix of modern and traditional with transportation in between on the world famous Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet Train).


Staying in the Roppongi Hills district of Tokyo, in the cities tallest building, The Ritz Carlton Tokyo has stunning views of a distant Mount Fuji.


The location is perfect to self navigate the Tokyo Metro and cross the city from monuments and temples to up scale retail shopping districts.


Whilst you are in Tokyo you must visit the Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple, two fabulous examples of the rich cultural heritage of Japan.  Why not also visit a ‘Cat Cafe’ or ‘Rabbit Cafe’!  I had envisaged a Starbucks style set up, with cats running round, but instead I was surprised to find a 5th floor pristine apartment with a very strict ‘cat mother’ who vetted and controlled everyone who entered.  The cats welfare was paramount and the colour of the cats collar dictated whether they could be touched…..all rather bizarre, but worth the visit! Even if shopping isn’t your favourite past time you must venture to the Harajuku area where all the shopping teens dress to impress in their most cute outfits!


At night Tokyo takes on another life!  The vibrant colour of the advertising billboards are mesmerising and the vast array of eateries is mind blowing.  Knowing the right people in Japan is definitely the best way to make the most of your trip and our ‘guide’ took us to an Izakaya, a tiny restaurant that only took 7 people and one we would have never found without his assistance.  In only the size of a small box room, the most delicious meal was prepared in front of us and we ate until we were full.  Other interesting diners joined us and we chatted for hours, enthralled by each others culture – an absolute must……if you can find it.


If you fancy being adventurous at night and would like to experience some of the more bazaar side of Tokyo then book at table at the Robot Restaurant – an experience that words cannot convey!

With our short trip to Tokyo over we boarded the Shinkansen for a quick ride to Hakone, known for its natural occurring hot springs (Onsen).  Also a great place to stay if you plan to venture a little closer to Mount Fuji.  Sadly the weather was against us and we only made it as far as Ōwakudani (The home of the black egg), so seeing Fuji up close was not meant to be.


Onwards to Kyoto!  Formerly the Imperial city of Japan, Kyoto is like a step back in time, a world apart from the frenetic vibe of Tokyo.  All buildings are low rise (including the hotels) and just ooze with stories of an extraordinary and mysterious era.

IMG_0735_FotorTraditional Geisha and Meiko can occasionally be seen on the street but it is more common to see young people dressed in Kimono, particularly at the weekends.  If you are daring enough you can hire a Kimono for the day, which is a novel idea as this gains you free entry into many of the temples and attractions.



The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-Ji) is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto.  Surrounded by a beautiful strolling garden, ponds and waterfalls, the building who’s top two floors are adorned with pure gold leaf and is a real wonder to behold.


The polar opposite to the Golden pavilion is the Nishiki Market.  This narrow, five block long shopping street is lined with more than 100 shops and restaurants. A real bustling vibe specialising in anything food related.  From personalised chop sticks to sweet pickles and sushi.



Osaka, similarly to Tokyo is fast paced and exciting.  This is a city for food lovers and has been rumoured to be the Food Capital of the World.  A must try dish is Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savoury pancake, grilled in front of you – absolutely delicious!


No trip to Osaka would be complete without tickets to see the sumo.  This full contact wrestling sport is an all day affair and starts early in the morning with the youngest competitors.  By early evening the stakes have risen to the most senior athletes and the atmosphere is electric.  An extremely ritualistic sport and one that lasts for mere seconds, but non-the less exciting.

IMG_0800_Fotor_CollageI did indeed see so much during my short visit to Japan, but this gave me a taste for discovering the wider countryside where skiing is world class in Hokkaido and the beaches are pristine on the coasts of the Izu Peninsula and on the west coast of Okinawa Honto……….next time!


To find out more about Japan, please do call Gemma or any member of the Haslemere Travel team on 01428 658777.



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The team had a huge amount of fun on Friday 11th December, taking part in Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day

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For every member of staff, their children, spouses and pets Haslemere Travel has donated £2 each to this wonderful cause.

At the time of print this initiative had raised over half a million pounds!!!!  And rising!  If you would like to support our fundraising activity please text TEAMHASTRAV to 70050 to donate £2.

Please scroll down for our ‘Rouges Gallery’

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Howard, Prue (Save The Children), Andrew, Aurelia, Chelsea, Gemma, Terry & Annie

Susie & PicklesSusie & Pickles

IMG_2280Joan – aka ‘Frosty’

IMG_2282Howard & Aurelia

Amy xmas jumperAmy, Jamie & Santa


Aurelia & Chelsea

Beena xmas jumperBeena

KB xmas jumperKaty & family


Cat xmas jumper copyCat

I recently chose to take the family to Mauritius for our main summer holiday. Travelling extensively for work means that the destination decision for that precious time we have together is always a hard choice. I always find I want to take a small element of every country or city I visit and create an imaginary destination but sadly that’s not possible.

IMG_0784Having visited Mauritius on a work trip in 2011, I had visited one particular hotel that I promised one day I would return with my husband and daughter. I always felt as though I had left a small piece of my heart there and was destined to return. It took 3 year but at the end of June 2014, suitcases packed we boarded the British Airways flight headed for the sunny island of Mauritius.


Having experienced this destination before I had to hold myself back from gushing enthusiastically and boring my family before we touched down. I wanted them to find the sparkle and magic, just as I had. The delicious food, the flora & fauna and the exceptionally welcoming people.

IMG_0701Travelling during our summer months is considered ‘Winter’ in Mauritius and you can imagine the look I got when our driver told my husband this fact just after we landed. Thankfully, their ‘Winter’ does not resemble ours and the days were filled with sunshine and late 20’s temperatures. On a couple of evening occasions we needed light cardigans and pashminas when dining outside, but otherwise a perfect climate.


As we arrived at Trou Aux Biches (a Beachcomber Hotel), I couldn’t have been more excited. I’d explained to my daughter about the infinity ponds that would greet her when we arrived in reception, leading down to the pool and onto the beach – my memory hadn’t failed me and despite our early morning arrival, there they were – the look on her face was everything I had hoped for – she saw the magic that I had three years previously.

Trou Aux Biches Family Suite – Video (You Tube)

Our family two-bedroom suite was just perfect. A huge master bedroom with a terrace, enormous bathroom with indoor and outdoor shower (which caused much hilarity) and then a smaller twin bedroom with en-suite shower at the rear. Ample space for even a family with 3 children.


I have never been the parent who chooses a hotel based on the kids club facilities and for us as a family it has always been an added bonus if a hotel a) has a club and b) if Aurelia chooses to join in the activities. To our amazement and entirely to the credit of the team at Trou Aux Biches ‘Bob Marlin’ Mini Club, we could hardly prize her away from it. From water skiing lesson, t-shirt painting, henna tattoos, dance lessons, glass bottom boat rides and pancakes and hot chocolate every afternoon, I found myself making excuses of why she had to spend time with us. They even threw her a huge birthday party on the day she turned 7, accompanied by presents and chocolate cake.

IMG_0928Having a mini club ensured a wonderful experience for everyone, as she had the right amount of new friend interaction, stimulating activities and down time with Mum & Dad. Happy child = happy parents and I had plenty of time to indulge in a novel I had been planning to read for a year!


The variety of restaurants at Trou Aux Biches is outstanding and our particular favorites were The Blue Ginger Thai restaurant where the Thai chef chatted to us enthusiastically each time we dined and was patient with our pigeon Thai, learnt on a previous holiday to Koh Samui. Mahiya, serving traditional Indian cuisine and the most delicious Lassi pre dinner drinks I have ever tasted.


And not forgetting La Caravelle, the international fine dining restaurant, where my husband became known for ‘double dinners’ – when the main courses are too delicious to choose from, why not have two! Oh and did I mention the weekly Mauritian themed specialty buffet/BBQ? What an array of authentic Mauritian delicacies.


One thing to add is that Aurelia suffers from a severe nut allergy and we carry epi-pens with us at all times. This is always a concern with overseas travel, but on our first day the F&B Manager met with us to discuss our requirements and from that moment onwards every restaurant was fully aware of what to avoid. On the buffet night the head chef accompanied us around to every dish to explain the content, so we could make informed choices of what she could eat – now that is service!

IMG_1029With all these delicious cuisines, it was a jolly good job the sports and activities facilities at Trou Aux Biches were outstanding. A state of the art cardio gym and weighs gym, daily classes including Zumba and spin, every water sport you could imagine and I think my husband and daughter tried them all. I mainly stayed on land to take the photos – well someone had to. Ray dives wherever we travel to and went out on a couple of occasions, commenting on the professional manner of the in-house dive team and the choice of locations that they dived to.

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 16.14.27 We explored beyond the luxuriousness of the hotel and on a couple of occasions walked into the local village, enjoying some fresh coconut water en route. We also hired a car for the day and ventured out to the Casela wildlife park to see the giant tortoises. Stopping off at Flic en Flac beach for a spot of lunch from a local beach vendor on the way and into the capital, Port Louis, on our return.

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Our stay at Trou Aux Biches was without doubt the best family holiday we have had in quite a while and this was not down to the 5* facilities, the pristine white sand on the beach and the day long sunshine (although that did help). What made this trip such a resounding success was the staff at the hotel. From our room steward to the waiters in each restaurant and the staff in the mini club, we felt genuinely at home and that nothing was too much trouble. This is one hotel that we will, without question, return to.


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