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On Friday 2nd July (2021) I was exceptionally lucky to be invited onboard Celebrity Silhouette before she set sail, taking guest around the British Isles, her first sailing in 15 months.

Having recently undergone a multi-million-pound re-fit, Celebrity Silhouette returns to Southampton this summer, offering new luxury cruises around The British Isles, to discerning British guests.  She sails with a full crew (all fully vaccinated), guests over the age of 18 who have received both covid vaccinations and those under 18, with negative PCR tests.  The number of guests on board will meet with government guidelines.

 

 

From bow to stern, the ship has been ‘revolutionised’, designed to ensure an unparalleled new luxury experience for guests needing to feed their love of travel.  Having viewed all of the suites, which are spacious and beautifully appointed, I was exceptionally impressed by the three exclusive areas, only accessible to those staying in a suite. Penthouse suites, Royal suites, Sunset suites and Celebrity suites.

 

 

The Retreat is an exclusive open-air hideaway designed by award winning UK designer Kelly Hoppen CBE. Here you will find the ultimate all-inclusive area for Suite guests highlighted by The Retreat Sundeck, an exclusive sun-soaked hideaway featuring luxurious new cabanas, loungers, hot tub, bar and more.  There is also an exclusive 24/7 Retreat Lounge with complimentary beverages, gourmet bites and concierge services, again only accessible for suite guests and finally access to a private restaurant, Luminae.  Luminae is a culinary experience of modern, eclectic cuisine, where we experienced the most exquisite lunch that would rival many ‘starred’ restaurants.

 

 

A whole host of other features have been included since the re-fit, including The Lawn Club, featuring 8 refreshed alcove seating areas, an oversized outdoor movie screen and real grass! Great for watching large sporting events or movie night. The Solarium and Pool Deck have also had a refresh, taking relaxation to new heights on the open-air top deck.

 

 

In the afternoon we were treated to one of the ships signature shows ‘Life’ – a euphoric explosion of light and colour in a fun, funky pop art concert.  The cast couldn’t contain their excitement at finally performing in front of a live audience and the feeling was mutual from the audience.

 

 

The upgraded Sunset Bar is perfect for kicking back, sipping cocktails and soaking up some of the best views around the world, with a new shaded lounge area complete with banquette seating and hammocks.  We sipped on cocktails (non-alcoholic, of course) and enjoyed the late afternoon sun before we disembarked.

 

 

Covid has meant a change to the way that safety drills (muster drills) are conducted onboard.  Once onboard, the Celebrity Cruises’ digitally advanced mobile app will transform the important safety drill into a faster, more personal approach that guests can complete from the ultimate comfort of their own luxury stateroom. Known as ‘eMuster’, key elements of the drill, including where to go in case of an emergency and instructions on how to properly use a life jacket, will be accessible to guests via their mobile devices and interactive stateroom TVs.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems on Celebrity Cruises ships continuously supply 100% fresh, filtered ocean air.

 

 

Up until 19th July, only guests booked on curated shore excursions were permitted to leave the ship in ports of call, in compliance with UK government regulations.  Post July 19th, it has been possible for guests to debark Celebrity Silhouette and explore independently in ports of call, where there are no restrictions put in place by port authorities or local government. Out of an abundance of caution, in order to go ashore while visiting all ports of call on British Isles sailings, Celebrity Silhouette guests will be still required to participate in tours curated by Celebrity Cruises.  

Celebrity Silhouette will remain in Southampton, offering cruises around The British Isles until September.  She will then sail to Spain, Portugal and The Canary Islands in October before she follows the sun and relocates to The Caribbean for the winter.

It was a absolute pleasure to spend the day on board this beautiful ship and I left wishing I was staying longer.  As a mid-sized ship she is suitable for all, whether you are new to cruise, a family, couple or solo traveller, I guarantee your expectations will be exceeded and you will have a really wonderful trip!

To find out more about Celebrity Silhouette or any of the Celebrity fleet, please call 01428 658777 or email gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk

 

Friday 7th May 2021 was the day that we have been eagerly awaiting for months.  The day when we would finally receive a list of the first countries to make it onto the GREEN traffic light list.

The initial list is short but will be added to over the coming weeks.  A re-opening that we agree should be cautious but sustainable.

It’s rather complicated (for a change), so we have put together a Q&A to help you to understand exactly which countries can be travelled to from Monday 17th May and what you will need to do, in order to get there….and get back.  We will also list the Amber and Red countries too and their travel requirements.

This is an evolving situation, so as and when new announcements are made, we will keep you informed.  

As we dust off our suitcases and passports, our travel dreams are no longer so distant.  Soon we will be reuniting with family and friends, experiencing foreign lands, enjoying delicious cuisines, marvelling at history, culture & architecture and immersing ourselves in the hospitality so graciously offered across the globe. 

As always, when the time is right for you to travel again, please make Haslemere Travel your first port of call.  It would be our pleasure to assist you – 01428 658777 / gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk

Q&A – Restart of International Travel

 

Q:  Will international travel resume on 17th May?

A:  Yes.  From this date it will no longer be illegal to travel and the ‘permission to travel form’ will be removed, meaning travellers will no longer need to prove they have a valid reason to leave England.

Q: Where can I go from 17th May? Which countries are on the GREEN List

A: The first 12 countries to be added to the green list have been announced as follows: Portugal (including Madeira & The Azores), Israel, Gibraltar, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, Ascension Islands, Tristan da Cuna & St Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. 

Q:  How often will the traffic light list be reviewed?

A:  Today we were advised that this will be in 3 weeks time.  If sooner, then we will update you.

Q: What does the traffic light system mean for testing and quarantine?

A:  When you travel with Haslemere Travel, we will ensure that you have the most up to date advice, specific to the destination that you are travelling to.  Taking into account the entry requirements for each country and the FCDO advice.  However, in brief the traffic lights work like this:

Green – Arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test (likely a lateral flow test – TBC) as well as a PCR test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into the UK, BUT will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests, halving the cost of tests on their return from holiday.

Amber – Arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of ten days and take a pre-departure test, a PCR test on day 2 and day 8.  There is also the option for Test to Release on day 5 to end self-isolation early.

Red – Arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for “red list” countries which includes a 10 day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day 2 and 8

Green Watchlist – To give passengers more certainty when travelling, a “Green Watchlist” will be introduced to help identify countries most at risk of moving from Green to Amber. The watchlist will provide greater assurance for those who wish to travel abroad. The allocation of countries will be kept under review and respond to emerging evidence, with a particular focus on Variants of Concern.  Please note that there is currently no ‘green watchlist’.

Q:  Where can I get a PCR test and how much will it cost?

A: We have been working hard with some selected PCR suppliers to obtain preferential rates for our clients.  For all bookings with Haslemere Travel, we will provide you with options to choose from and discount codes to access better prices.  You’ll be pleased to hear that these prices are certainly not as high as tests last summer.  

​Q: Will I need a ‘Vaccine Passport’?

A: Not a ‘passport’ as such. The existing NHS app will be used to show proof of vaccination.  If you do not have a smart phone, then you may request paper confirmation from your GP surgery.  I would suggest that if you are keen to travel, even later in the year, that you download this at your earliest convenience, as it does need verifying.

Q: Will I still need to complete a PLF (Passenger Locator Form)?

A: Yes.  To ensure the UK’s borders remain safe and efficient when passenger flows increase, the Government has also announced plans to digitise the Passenger Locator Form, integrating it into the UK border system and enabling checks to take place at e-gates by Autumn 2021.

Q:  What is the best way to ensure that I am fully informed and my holiday is fully protected?

A: Simple – book with a fully bonded and financially protected travel company, like us.  We will always provide you with honest and impartial advice and guidance from our first conversation and until you return home.

Q: Is there anything else I need to think about?

A:  Yes.  Just because a country is on the ‘green list’, doesn’t necessarily mean you can travel there.  Take for example Australia and New Zealand (on todays green list), where their borders are currently closed.  You also need to consider whether the FCDO advises ‘against all but essential travel’.  If this is the case, a different travel insurance policy would be required.

Q: Do I still need to take a PCR test even if I’ve had both vaccines?

A:  At the moment yes, but this may change in time.

Q: Do I need special travel insurance?

A:  You definitely need travel insurance and you should ensure that it has ‘Covid cover’.  If your current provider won’t offer this then please let us know and we will provide you with some additional information on companies that our clients have used with success, that do offer Covid cover.

Q: Can I travel to a country on the AMBER list?

A: Yes you can.  You must however abide by the entry requirements of the country you are travelling to (if there are any).  As per the above information, currently when you return to the UK you will need to quarantine for a period of ten days and take a PCR test on day 2 and day 8.  There is also the option for ‘Test to Release’ on day 5 to end self-isolation early.

Q: What countries are on the AMBER list?

A: Afghanistan, Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic (Czechia), Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece (including islands), Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Nauru, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, The Occupied Palestinian Territories, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, Poland, Réunion, Romania, Russia, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain (including the Balearics and Canary Islands), Sri Lanka, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Martin and St Barthélemy, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United States (USA), Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, Western Sahara, Yemen

Q: Can I travel to a country on the RED list?

A: Yes you can, as international travel is no longer illegal.  The government advice is still to only travel to red list countries in extreme circumstances.  Again you will need to abide by the FCDO advice, the entry restrictions for the country you are travelling to and upon your return to the UK you will need to stay for 10 days in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day 2 and 8. 

Q: What countries are on the RED list?

A: Angola, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic), Ecuador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Guyana, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Maldives, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

 

For any further questions or holiday enquiries, please call us on 01428 658777 or email gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk

As a travel professional, who prides themselves and their business as being one that provides first-hand experience to our clients, it was extremely important for me to travel overseas, once the restrictions on travel had been lifted.  I wanted to be able to tell clients, that wished to travel, exactly what the airport experience was like, how our national carrier, British Airways, was operating with new regulations and what it was like to once again be on holiday.

I had originally booked to go to Seville for the weekend of 7thto 10thAugust, staying just outside the city at Hacienda de San Rafael, a firm favourite with our clients.  Like many who were booked to travel to Spain, I was also affected by the governments U-turn on Spain, so quickly rearranged my trip to travel to Italy, keeping everything crossed that this would go ahead.

On Friday 7thAugust, we (my daughter and I) left home at the crack of dawn, to arrive at Heathrow terminal 5 at 05:00, where I had booked ‘Meet & Greet’ airport parking with our preferred partner, Holiday Extras.  The instructions on where to park were precise and the small counter, within the entrance to the terminal, was manned with an agent wearing a mask.  There was a spit screen on the desk and plenty of hand sanitizer.   It was at this point that we put on our own masks. The process to hand over the car keys was as swift as it has always been and within minutes we were walking into Terminal 5, to check-in.

The terminal was quiet, but it was still exceptionally early.  Depending on where you were flying to, depended on which area of the airport that you checked-in, but this was readily available on the flight information boards and there were plenty of (mask wearing) staff to help – we were at check-in, within minutes.  Prior to reaching the check in desk, we had our temperatures taken by an overhead, non-invasive body scanner.  To be honest, if it wasn’t pointed out to you, you wouldn’t have known it was there. There were plenty of hand sanitizer stations throughout the terminal, both land side and air side.

The check-in process was exactly the same as always (we weren’t able to check-in online).  The BA staff at the desks were behind screens, so did not wear masks.  We were asked to remove our masks, just to confirm our identity with our passport pictures.  Italy does not have an online ‘Passenger Locator Form’ (PLF) like some other countries including the UK & Greece.  We were given a paper form at check-in and asked to complete this and hand to the crew on board.

We entered the security areas, using the automated barriers and then queued to have our bags and ourselves scanned.  Social distancing was observed and each area at the scanning belt was sectioned off by a small plastic booth, ensuring that you weren’t shoulder to shoulder with the next person.

As mentioned, it was still very early, so some shops in the terminal weren’t yet open.  By the time we boarded, most were.  All shops had clear notices about social distancing. Starbucks and Pret were open, but only to take food and drinks away.  The Wetherspoons was however open to eat in and on arrival you had to complete a track and trace form.  The full duty free area was open and fully stocked, but there were no perfume or make-up testers…..saved me a fortune!

The seating areas within the terminal had one chair blocked every few seats, so that family groups could still sit together, but there was social distancing observed.  This format carried through to the departure gates too, where the same signs could be found in the waiting areas.

Boarding the flight was an absolute breeze and the most pleasant experience I’ve had in a long time. BA boarded the plane in strict row order from the rear of the aircraft and by 5 rows at a time.  The flight was full so no trolley bags were allowed in the cabin. As we boarded we were given a sanitation pack with a large anti-bac wipe and a sachet of hand sanitizer.  Many passengers had done as we did and brought our own, but this was so handy to use straight away.  We wiped down our seat area, table and chair arms.

Our outbound flight was full in economy and business class, and there were no spare seats.  Everyone that I saw was either wearing a mask or a visor, as were the crew.  The safety briefing had been adapted, to include the removal of facemasks, in an emergency procedure.

In terms of food on board, you cannot purchase anything so I would suggest either taking your own snacks or enjoying what is provided.  Everyone was given a small snack pack, of pre sealed items – bottle of water, a packet of crisps and a packet of biscuits.   You of course had to take your masks off to eat and drink, but then put back on afterwards.

When we arrived in Milan, we disembarked in strict row order, from the front of the cabin.  This was so much nicer than the usual mad dash. We handed our completed forms to the crew on board and made our way to immigration.  Malpensa airport had many notices to remind you to social distance and we cleared immigration quickly and with ease.  Our cases were waiting on the carousel and there were plenty of reminders to again socially distance.

We were met by our transfer driver, who was wearing a mask, as was everyone else in the terminal.  We wore our masks, as did the driver, for our journey to Lake Como.

Upon arrival at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, we were greeted outside by staff wearing custom made masks specific for the hotel, who showed us to reception. All staff that we encountered inside of the hotel wore masks, so this was applicable at check-in. Prior to our arrival we had already completed a registration document online, that had given us preferences about how we wished to check-in, whether we were happy with the usual number of housekeeping visits (usually twice per day).  We were asked if we were happy to receive the welcome amenity to our rooms and various other choices that encountered meeting members of the hotel team, outside the usual visits to the restaurants etc.  In its most basic form, you could have as much contact as you would usually expect at a 5* resort, or as little.  The choice was yours.

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We were thrilled to discover a care package in our room that contained information about what the hotel was doing to ensure guests were safe and comfortable, along with two bottle of hand sanitizer and two custom made silk masks.  Such a lovely and very thoughtful gift.  The hand sanitizer had been commissioned specifically for the hotel and in all the public areas were small bottle of sanitizer for you to take and use.

During our stay, we took the public ferry across the lake to the town of Bellagio.  Although most of the ferry was outside, you were asked to wear a mask and your temperature was taken on your arm before boarding. Whilst wandering around the shops we didn’t wear masks, but if we went inside a shop, we did – very similar to the UK. We ate outside at a lovely local café for lunch.  The cutlery came in a paper pouch, to avoid lots of hands touching it, the tables were all wiped down thoroughly between each use and the place settings were paper, so easy to dispose.  There were no menus, just a list of dishes on a blackboard.  The food was fresh and absolutely delicious…..just what we had hoped for in Italy.

For all other meals, we ate in the various restaurants of the hotel, of which there are 5 – spoilt for choice.  All menus were via QR codes and if you weren’t very tech savvy then the staff were more than happy to assist.  All members of staff wore masks, when they greeted you, took your order and when they served you.  There were also no buffets, so at breakfast you were automatically brought a selection of continental breakfast items and then you ordered your hot or more bespoke breakfast treats.  Nothing was too much trouble and you could of course eat as much as you wished.

On our return journey, our transfer, airport and plane experience, were much the same as on our journey out.  By the carousels at Heathrow T5 were stations of spray sanitizer and paper towels, to clean your cases, if you wished.  I hadn’t seen these in Italy, but I didn’t look, as our cases were waiting when we cleared customs.

From 48 hours prior to returning to the UK, we filled in our on-line PLF (Passenger Locator Form).  It was very detailed, but quite straight forward.  I was sent a confirmation email, with a QR code to present at Border Control.  On the flight the BA crew did a great job of reminding passengers to complete this form and when we arrived there were notices everywhere.  Sadly however no one checked our documents, or for anyone that I saw around us.

Overall, I found the new procedures easy to follow.  At no point did I ever feel unsafe or feel like I was being asked to do something that made me feel uncomfortable.  It was a pleasure to see so many travellers, of all ages and family types, at Heathrow, eagerly awaiting their holiday plans.  Whilst in Italy, locals and tourists alike behaved considerately of the ‘new normal’ that we find ourselves in and most just seemed happy to be moving around freely and enjoying the summer.

Whilst I fully appreciate that not everyone is as ready as I was to jump on a plane and start exploring again, I wanted you to know, that when the time is right for you, that I am here to help you navigate the new ways of travelling.  As soon as I can start travelling further afield and onto cruise ships too, I will do so, so that you know what to expect.

The one thing that lockdown and the pandemic has highlighted to me, is that if there is somewhere in the world you wish to travel to, or a travel experience you have been putting off for a special occasion……go now!  Don’t wait!  I never believed that the ability to travel freely and at my own will, would be denied for so long.  So now, more than ever before I won’t be taking ‘ok’ holidays, I will only be taking ‘Wow adventures’ because life is too short not to fulfil your dreams and tick those experiences off your bucket list.

I look forward to helping you plan your next ‘Wow adventure’!

Gemma – 01428 658777 / gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk

Full report on The Grand Hotel Tremezzo….COMING SOON!

The lifting of travel restrictions has been promised for over a week, but this afternoon the government announced a list of 59 countries the are now exempt from a 14 day quarantine, when arriving in the UK.

If you are returning to, or visiting England from destinations that have a reduced risk of re-importing coronavirus, then you will no longer need to self isolate for 14 days upon your return.

This new rule change, comes into effect from Friday 10th July (a week today).

The 59 Countries are as follows:

AndorraGermanyNew Zealand
Antigua and BarbudaGreeceNorway
ArubaGreenlandPoland
AustraliaGrenadaRéunion
AustriaGuadeloupeSan Marino
BahamasHong KongSerbia
BarbadosHungarySeychelles
BelgiumIcelandSouth Korea
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaItalySpain
CroatiaJamaicaSt Barthélemy
CuraçaoJapanSt Kitts and Nevis
CyprusLiechtensteinSt Lucia
Czech RepublicLithuaniaSt Pierre and Miquelon
DenmarkLuxembourgSwitzerland
DominicaMacauTaiwan
Faroe IslandsMaltaTrinidad and Tobago
FijiMauritiusTurkey
FinlandMonacoVatican City
FranceNetherlandsVietnam
French PolynesiaNew Caledonia 

Please note that Ireland was already exempt, as part of the common travel area, as are The Channel Islands and The Isle of Man.  In addition, the government will be exempting the 14 British Overseas Territories. 

This list might be added to over the coming days following further discussions between the UK and international partners.

Please note that if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, information for you will be published in ‘due course’ by the devolved administrators.

Frustratingly there are some notable absences from the list including Portugal, Sweden, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, the USA, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Foreign Office Advice

In line with this, the Foreign Office has changed its advisory against ‘all but essential travel’ to a number of countries from tomorrow (4th July).   You are now safely able to travel to the below countries, knowing your travel insurance is valid and you would be able to access consular services, should you need them.  Slightly confusing however that the two lists do not quite match.

The 67 exemptions are:

EUROPE

  • Austria
  • Andorra
  • Belgium
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France (overseas territories of France are listed separately, where included in the exemption)
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • The Netherlands (not including the constituent countries and special municipalities located in the Dutch Caribbean)
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal (only The Azores and Madeira)
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey

AMERICAS

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Pierre and Miquelon
  • St Vincent and The Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

ASIA PACIFIC

  • Australia
  • Brunei
  • French Polynesia
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Macao
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Vietnam
  • Wallis and Futuna

AFRICA

  • Reunion

ANTARCTICA

  • British Antarctic Territory

And just to confuse us all even more, there are a couple more anomalies.  

Australia, New Zealand, Greece and Cyprus are all listed (in both categories), despite these destinations already having made clear they will continue to enforce restrictions on British travellers.

Greece recently extended its UK flight ban until 15 July (so not too long to wait), while Cyprus is barring entry to anyone who has been in the UK in the past 14 days. Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, are not expected to reopen their borders (to anyone) for some time.

As a travel professional, even I’m finding this a challenge to digest, so it would be no surprise if you are too.

If you would like me to try and help with any clarity on your specific trip that you have booked with Haslemere Travel, or with a trip that you are looking to plan, then please do contact me directly on 01428 658777 or gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk.  As always I will do my very best to help.

This information is ever evolving, so I will keep updating you, when anything new is announced.  Until then, take care.

Gemma.

There is no denying that the Coronavirus has dominated the headlines for the past few weeks.  Many reports have been entirely sensationalised and because of this we have decided to put together some helpful information that we believe to be factual and keep things in perspective for both our town of Haslemere and our clients travelling the world.

Coronavirus in Haslemere

Haslemere had its first recorded case of Coronavirus on Friday 28thFebruary 2020.  At this point Coronavirus confirmations were exceptionally low in the UK (this was the 20thcase), but what made this case slightly unique was it was the first case in the UK to be contracted within the country (i.e. not from travel overseas).

It is understandable that local residents would want to ask questions and raise issues, but I don’t think anyone was prepared for the sensationalised reporting that followed. Some media outlets reported the facts, but many chose to trawl the local social media message boards and instead compile article based solely around the comments of locals, who I’m sure never imaged their words would reach the nation.  This quickly proved to the people of Haslemere, and the surrounding areas, that what we were seeing reported on the news, and in the press, was far from realistic in our own town.  There was no mass ‘panic’ as had been written about, in Haslemere, and business really was as usual in our fabulous town.

It has however been a little quieter than usual, although at the end of last week, this did turn itself around.  Local retailers have pulled together to spread the message far and wide, that we are all doing everything we can to reduce any risk to our staff and clients/customers and there is no reason not to continue to visit Haslemere and shop locally.  Without the continued support of our loyal customers, the sad reality is that many small, High Street businesses may not survive, and for a fragile retail environment, that is something which none of us want.

So the message from Haslemere is……we are open, we are following the guidance from Public Heath England and we are looking forward to welcoming visitors to our fantastic independent businesses.

Sri Lanka Sunset

Coronavirus and Travel

With such a variety of press stories circulating, we fully appreciate that it can be really daunting to wade through the fact and the fiction.  We are therefore only relying on reputable sources to provide us with facts. We also feel that a healthy dose of perspective is also needed at times like this. 

It is not our place to disseminate media articles reporting on Coronavirus, but we are more than happy to discuss with you any of your questions and concerns, in relation to the holiday you have booked or would like to book.  We hope the following Q&A is of use, but please call us on 01428 658777 if you would like to know anything more.

Q: What precautions should I take when travelling?

A: You should wash your hands often; use hand sanitiser gel when washing is not possible; cover your mouth and nose when coughing/sneezing; and avoid contact with anyone who is unwell.

You should also check and follow the latest advice from the Foreign Office, but we can assist with this where necessary.

Q: I have booked a holiday, can I cancel or change my holiday free of charge?

A: Generally speaking, only if the Foreign Office advice changes to advise against all travel or all but essential travel to a specific destination.

If the FCO advice says it’s fine to travel, but it is your choice not to, then tour operators can impose their standard cancellation charges.

Some of our tour operator partners and cruise lines have increased their flexibility, so please do check with us and we will look into this on your behalf.

Q: Can I get my deposit back, if I choose not to travel?

A: If the FCO advice allows for travel to a destination, legally our tour operator partners do not have to refund your deposit, if you no longer want to travel.

Q: What are my rights if my holiday is cancelled by the airline or tour operator?

A:  If your holiday is cancelled by the tour operator due to coronavirus then you will be entitled to a full refund of the holiday price, but not compensation.  This is because the cancellation is due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances.

Likewise, if an airline cancels your flight, the airline will normally rebook you onto the next available service, and cover your accommodation and refreshment costs in accordance with EC261 (the EU regulation on flight delay and disruption).

Q: What happens if I am impacted by an outbreak whilst on holiday, such as being stuck abroad at a hotel? How do I get home?

A: This is a very tricky situation. Currently, if your are stuck abroad because you/your hotel/your ship have been placed in quarantine and subsequently you miss your flight as a result, it’s the customer’s responsibility to cover the cost of replacement flights.

Whilst many of our partners are revising their terms with increased flexibility, it is not the liability of a tour operators or airline to provide a refund or replacement flight, as they were still able to fulfil the original booking.

Q: Will my travel insurance cover me against Coronavirus and its impact on my holiday.

A: We are not 100% certain, as every insurance policy is different.  We suggest that you speak to your travel insurance provider and ask any relevant questions of them.  For all bookings, we strongly suggest that you take out your policy from the date you book your holiday, to cover your pre travel period, as well as the period you will be away.

Please rest assured that Haslemere Travel will do whatever they can to assist you, if your holiday plans are disrupted.  We will also work on your behalf to negotiate with our suppliers, ensuring we gain the most flexibility for you.  For ANY questions please call us on 01428 658777.

One final insight comes in the form of a short video put together by Farina Azam, a respected travel lawyer in our industry and partner at Kemp Little LLP.

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On Sunday 6th May more than 30 deserving young people, aged from 7 to 19 years-old and from all areas of Surrey, were rewarded at this years Surrey Young Superstars 2018 awards, receiving their trophies and certificates from H.M Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr Michael More-Molyneux at a special awards ceremony at the Guildford Harbour Hotel.

Organised by Haslemere Travel, the sixth annual awards recognised outstanding young people in Surrey. This year the Surrey Young Superstars awards were generously sponsored by NatWest and were in support of local youth charity Surrey Youth Focus.

The 2018 award categories and their winners are:

Fundraising Superstar (5-12 years): Hinchley Wood Primary School (7-11)

Joint Fundraising Superstars (13-19 years): Year 13, Khartoum House, Gordon’s School & Alice Kerby (19)Volunteering Superstar: Phoebe Walker-Gubbins (aged 17)

Community Superstar: Morgana Condorelli & Emerald Hayes (both aged 12)

Courageous Superstar: Isla Morrison (aged 14) – collected by Melanie Duke

The overall winner of the top award, Superstar of the Year 2018, was Isla Morrison. Sadly Isla was unable to attend the awards ceremony and the award was collected on her behalf by a governor of Sir William Perkins’ School, Mrs Melanie Duke. Isla did lower manage to drop into Haslemere Travel at a later date to collect her award

The winners were also joined by all the young nominees who received Highly Commended certificates.

The event also included a performance by band Downtown Roundabout, pupils at Guildford’s Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM).

The special Surrey Young Superstars 2018 awards ceremony – which included a delicious cream tea reception – was also kindly attended by the High Sheriff of Surrey, Mr Jim Glover and Mrs Cath Glover; Nigel Manning, Mayor of Guildford and Mayoress Marsha Moseley; Mr Malcolm Carter, Mayor of Haslemere, as well as all of the young award winners, their families and other nominees from all corners of Surrey.

Gemma Antrobus, owner of awards organiser Haslemere Travel, said: “Now in their sixth year, once again Surrey Young Superstars was a wonderful showcase for deserving young people in Surrey – demonstrating their community spirit, unsung bravery and hard work. The judges were hugely impressed by the entries received – especially in the Volunteering and Community categories – and the Haslemere Travel team wishes many congratulations to all of the very worthy winners.”

Peter Quilter, Director of Commercial Banking for NatWest in Surrey, representing Surrey Young Superstars’ key sponsor, said:

“ I am delighted that NatWest has once again sponsored Surrey Young Superstars. The young people who entered the awards are inspirational and it is great to know that the event will be something they remember and be rightly proud of for many years to come.”

As you may be aware GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will be coming into affect on 25th May 2018, and as such we must ensure that we are compliant with the rules.

Haslemere Travel has always worked hard to safeguard the personal data of our clients and as such we have designed a GDPR Statement (below) and updated our Privacy Policy  for your information.

GDPR Statement

Introduction

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The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force across the European Union on 25th May 2018 and brings with it the most significant changes to data protection law in two decades. GDPR has been designed to meet the requirements of the digital age. The 21st Century brings with it broader use of technology, new definitions of what constitutes personal data, and a vast increase in cross-border processing. The new Regulation aims to standardise data protection laws and processing across the EU; affording individuals stronger, more consistent rights to access and control their personal information.

Our Commitment

Haslemere Travel is committed to ensuring the security and protection of the personal information that we process, and to provide a compliant and consistent approach to data protection. We have always had an effective data protection program in place which complies with existing law and abides by the data protection principles. However, we recognise our obligations in updating and expanding this program to meet the demands of the GDPR.

Haslemere Travel is dedicated to safeguarding the personal information under our remit and in developing a data protection regime that is effective, fit for purpose and demonstrates an understanding of, and appreciation for the new Regulation. Our preparation and objectives for GDPR compliance have been summarised in this statement and include the development and implementation of new data protection roles, policies, procedures, controls and measures to ensure maximum and ongoing compliance.

How We are Preparing for the GDPR

Our preparation includes: –

  • Formal GDPR Audit – this was carried out in November 2017 by external GDPR and data protection specialists – Databasix.  This company-wide information audit identified and assed what personal information is held by Haslemere Travel, where it comes from, how and why it is processed and if and to whom it is disclosed.
  • Policies & Procedures – we will be updating data protection policies and procedures to meet the requirements and standards of the GDPR and any relevant data protection laws, including: –

o Data Protection – our main policy and procedure document for data protection has been overhauled to meet the standards and requirements of the GDPR. Accountability and governance measures are in place to ensure that we understand and adequately disseminate and evidence our obligations and responsibilities; with a dedicated focus on privacy by design and the rights of individuals.

o Data Retention & Erasure – we have updated our retention policy and schedule to ensure that we meet the ‘data minimisation’ and ‘storage limitation’ principles and that personal information is stored, archived and destroyed compliantly and ethically. We have dedicated erasure procedures in place to meet the new ‘Right to Erasure’ obligation and are aware of when this and other data subject’s rights apply; along with any exemptions, response timeframes and notification responsibilities.

o Data Breaches – our breach procedures ensure that we have safeguards and measures in place to identify, assess, investigate and report any personal data breach at the earliest possible time. Our procedures are robust and have been disseminated to all employees, making them aware of the reporting lines and steps to follow.

o International Data Transfers & Third-Party Disclosures – For the purpose of facilitating overseas holidays Haslemere Travel will work with suppliers based both inside our outside of the EU.  Our suppliers may store or transfers personal information outside the EU, however we are dedicated to continually reviewing the companies with which we share personal data.

o Subject Access Request (SAR) – we will continue to ensure our SAR procedures provide the individual with clear, accurate and free information when requested. We will revise the policy to ensure this is done within the 40-day timeframe.

  • Legal Basis for Processing – we are reviewing all processing activities to identify the legal basis for processing and ensuring that each basis is appropriate for the activity it relates to. Where applicable, we also maintain records of our processing activities, ensuring that our obligations under Article 30 of the GDPR and Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Bill are met.
  • Privacy Notice/Policy – we have revised our Privacy Policy to comply with the GDPR, ensuring that all individuals whose personal information we process have been informed of why we need it, how it is used, what their rights are, who the information is disclosed to and what safeguarding measures are in place to protect their information.
  • Legitimate Interest – Haslemere Travel will only use your data for the purpose of facilitating the holiday reservation or enquiry that you have made with the company or to provide you with holiday related news, offers, competitions and event information.  Legitimate interest is one of the lawful basis for processing personal data in line with the ‘lawfulness, fairness and transparency’ principle.
  • Direct Marketing – we have revised the wording and processes for direct marketing.  All communications will have a clear notice and method for opting out or unsubscribing.
  • Processor Agreements – where we use any third-party to process personal information on our behalf (i.e. flight consolidators, tour operators, ground handlers etc.), we have drafted compliant Processor Agreements and due diligence procedures in our agency agreements to ensure that they (as well as we), meet and understand their/our GDPR obligations. These measures include initial and ongoing reviews of the service provided, the necessity of the processing activity, the technical and organisational measures in place and compliance with the GDPR.Data Subject RightsIn addition to the policies and procedures mentioned above that ensure individuals can enforce their data protection rights, we provide easy to access information via our website, via email upon request or over the telephone of an individual’s right to access any personal information that Haslemere Travel processes about them and to request information about: –
  • What personal data we hold about them
  • The purposes of the processing
  • The categories of personal data concerned
  • The recipients to whom the personal data has/will be disclosed
  • How long we intend to store your personal data for
  • If we did not collect the data directly from them, information about the source
  • The right to have incomplete or inaccurate data about them corrected or completed and the process for requesting this
  • The right to request erasure of personal data (where applicable) or to restrict processing in accordance with data protection laws, as well as to object to any direct marketing from us and to be informed about any automated decision-making that we use
  • The right to lodge a complaint or seek judicial remedy and who to contact in such instances

Information Security & Technical and Organisational Measures

• Haslemere Travel takes the privacy and security of individuals and their personal information very seriously and take every reasonable measure and precaution to protect and secure the personal data that we process. We have robust information security policies and procedures in place to protect personal information from unauthorised access, alteration, disclosure or destruction and have several layers of security measures, including: –

o All data is stored on the Google Drive Cloud.

o No personal data is stored on individual computers or devices.
o All computers have up to date and adequate virus protection.
o Any documented data is destroyed using appropriate shedding methods.

GDPR Roles and Employees

Haslemere Travel have designated Gemma Antrobus as our Appointed Person.

Haslemere Travel understands that continuous employee awareness and understanding is vital to the continued compliance of the GDPR and have involved our employees in our preparation plans.

If you have any questions about our preparation for the GDPR, please contact our Appointed Person via email: gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk

 

CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR OPENING    

              

Friday 22nd December – 0900 to 1730

Saturday 23rd December – 0930 to 1300

Christmas Eve – Closed

Christmas Day – Closed

26th December –Closed

Wednesday 27th December – 0900 to 1730

Thursday 28th December – 0900 to 1730

Friday 29th December – 0900 to 1730

Saturday 30th December – 0930 to 1300

New Years Eve – Closed

New Years Day – Closed

Tuesday 02nd January – 0900 to 1730

Luxury Travel Sales Consultant 

Haslemere Travel is a multi-award winning, luxury travel agency based In Surrey.  Most recently Haslemere Travel has been named as ‘The Most Creative Travel Designer In The World’ and also ‘One of the 12 most influential travel designers in the world by Forbes Magazine.

We are looking to add a ‘Luxury Travel Consultant’ to our experienced team, to start with immediate effect.

What are we looking for?  

The successful candidate must be:

  • Well travelled, either for leisure or business purposes.
  • Passionate about travel, often researching and reading about destinations and hotels.
  • Have a solid, customer facing sales background.  It is not essential that this is from travel, however it would be preferable.
  • Have outstanding communication and organisation skills
  • Highly articulate
  • Have a ‘can do’ attitude.
  • Have a client centric work ethic, with exceptional attention to detail.
  • Be fully computer literate and a quick learner for new systems.
  • GCSE Maths and English (or equivalent)
  • Able to work full-time (Monday to Friday) in addition to half days on a Saturday (as part of a rota, with time given in lieu).
  • Able to travel overseas at least twice per year, both long haul and short haul.
  • Be able to work as part of a small team.
  • To learn quickly.
  • To meet sales targets when required.
  • To be commercially minded.
  • To be immaculately presented.
  • Have a good sense of humour.
  • Have the correct passport and visa requirements to work and live in the UK.
  • Be able to start ASAP.

 

Responsibilities of the role

  • To research and plan detailed, tailor-made leisure travel itineraries for discerning clients, to worldwide destinations.
  • To work with clients from their initial holiday idea, until they return home from their travels (and beyond) to ensure their experience is seamless.
  • To attend regular skills and product training sessions as well as travel conferences.  These may occasionally take place out of office hours.
  • To travel overseas at least twice per year, to visit hotels and improve destination and product knowledge.  Trips range from 2 to 10 nights.
  • To work full-time in the Haslemere office.

 

The Package

  • Competitive salary including annual bonus (performance related)
  • 25 days annual leave plus bank holidays
  • Opportunities for discounts on personal travel or industry rates.
  • Pension

If you fit the above criteria and would like to apply for this position please email your covering letter, CV and list of destinations you have visited (and know well) to Gemma Antrobus – gemma@haslemeretravel.co.uk

No agencies please.

 

Enjoy EXCLUSIVE use of the stunning Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau dahabiya for up to 12 people!  Perfect for a large family, multi-generation travel or a special occasion.

Agatha Christie set Death on the Nile at the cataracts of Aswan. It’s likely she opted to travel the Nile in a dahabiya.

For your classic Nile cruise the old-world charm of these river-going sailboats is perfect. This is how aristocrats travelled in the relaxed age of Egyptian monarchs (1920-40).

The Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau is today’s luxury dahabiya. Effortlessly blending old-world elegance with modern comforts, you’ll feel thoroughly spoiled as you explore the temples and tombs of Ancient Egypt. With just six cabins it’s ideal for a group or family trip. This classic Nile cruise is executed with elegance and flair.

Holiday Length: 7 nights

Day 1 to 3: UK – Luxor

Fly overnight to Luxor where you will be met and transferred to your private dahabiya, the Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau.  Your own crew and Egyptologist, awaits. Your classic Nile cruise begins at the Temple of Karnak and its halls of giant pillars. The spectacular 3km corridor of Sphinxes magnetically draws you into the Temple of Luxor. Gain a fast-track lesson in Egyptian antiquities at the Luxor Museum before returning to your dahabiya and trading ancient splendour for timeless elegance.

A trip to the West Bank takes you to the Valley of the Kings, home of Tutankhamun’s burial chamber. You’ll also find the temple of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, and have the chance to admire the artwork on the walls of the stonemason’s homes in nearby Deir El Medina.

Day 4 & 5: Luxor – Esna – El Kan – Edfu

Enjoy breakfast onboard your dahabiya while cruising up river to Esna. Once there and after lunch, your Egyptologist will guide you around the Temple of Khnum at Esna, devoted to the crocodile god. Afternoon tea and views of the Nile are the order of the day as you relax onboard afterwards.

In the morning of day 5, set sail for El Kab to visit the prehistoric and Pharaonic settlements, rock-cut tombs of the early 18th Dynasty, remains of temples dating from the Early Dynastic period, as well as part of the walls of a Coptic monastery. Continue on to Edfu and the Temple of Horus – the most completely preserved Pharaonic temple in Egypt. Your final destination today will be El Fawaza, where you’ll moor overnight.

 

Day 6: Silsila – Kom Ombo

Sail on to Jabal Silsila in the morning over breakfast. After visiting the ancient sandstone quarries, cruise over lunch to Kom Ombo. In the afternoon, your Egyptologist will show you the Temple of Kom Ombo, a temple devoted to two gods – Sobek and Horus the Elder. As such, all the hallways, doors and chambers here are duplicated symmetrically. You’ll overnight moored at a nearby island.

Day 7 to 9: Aswan – UK

You set sail this morning for Aswan. In the afternoon, visit the spice market followed by a visit to the Nubian Museum. Called the Land of Gold by the ancient Egyptians, Nubia extended from Aswan in the north to Sudan in the south, and had its own distinct culture and language.

On day 8 at Aswan, the choice is yours. Visit Philae Temple, which stands proud on Agilkia Island and is devoted to Isis, the goddess of purity. Take a trip to the half-hewn Unfinished Obelisk at the nearby granite quarries. Explore the Temple of Kalabsha, built by the Romans around 30 BC. Whatever you choose, a gourmet on-board dinner and spectacular sunset awaits you.

 

On your final morning after breakfast on board, it’s time to disembark and be transferred to the airport for your flight back to London.

Best time to go: September to May

Price: From £1,895pp for 7 nights cruise based on 12 people travelling together

If you wanted to hire the Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau dahabiya exclusively for 4 nights and include it in a larger itinerary, then this element would be available from as low as £700pp (based on 12 travelling), inc FB and guided tours, for a 4 night cruise as part of a tailored FIT package.

The price shown is a guide. Your holiday will be tailor-made to suit you and there are many factors that can influence the price, such as standard of accommodation, class of flight and time of year. Please do provide us with your chosen dates and we can provide a more accurate cost – 01428 658777

 

 

 

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