Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Ryanair’s €5 seat-choice fee, keeping the Asian hooch and 16 months on a raft

tv3michaeloleary1Stampede boarding on Ryanair flights is no more. From yesterday (Saturday Feb 1st), seats on all flights are allocated. But, being Ryanair, the breakthrough comes with a catch: people who want to pre-select their seats pay €5 for the privilege. The pre-selection fee of €5 applies to standard seats, rows 6-15 and 18-31 and goes up to €10 for what it calls its premium seats, rows 1-5, 16, 17 and 32-33. Priority boarding has not gone away and carries another fee of €2. Free allocated seats will not be available prior to 7 days before each flight departure. Ryanair says customers who do not wish to pre-select their seats can check-in during the period from 7 days to 2 hours (down from 4 hours) prior to their flight and they will be assigned an allocated seat at no cost. Flying with Ryanair might even become what Michael O’Leary’s TV3 ad says it is, fun. But where’s the fun in allocated seating? How we will miss shunting our fellow passengers out of the way, kicking the elderly lady’s walking stick at the crucial moment, pinching the baby when the anxious mother is not looking, and elbowing the fit young rugby player into that weak spot under the rib cage. Ah, the good old days.

Ryanair threw in a surprise route announcement as well, from Shannon to Poitiers, one of the closest-to-town airports in Europe (2.4km) which only had one domestic and one international route until Tuesday’s announcement. This is Ryanair’s ninth new route (five of them restarts) from Shannon this year, out of an airport total of ten. They will deliver more new passengers to Shannon the Gathering did to the island. Poiters is the home of Futuroscope theme park which reopens Feb 15.

Motorists joining the M50 ring road to reach Dublin Airport from the south and west should allow more time. The 80,000 motorists a day who pass through Newlands Cross on the N7 will face disruption for the next three weeks as traffic is shifted onto new lanes. The junction will be replaced with a flyover by spring 2015.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother big change this weekend: we get to keep our Asian hooch and it is official. Duty-free liquids in tamper-free bags bought at airports outside the EU, or onboard non-EU air carriers, will no longer be confiscated at EU airports. Provided these duty-free liquids are packed in the security bag issued at the time of purchase, passengers may transfer with it at an EU airport onto a connecting flight. Until now, such duty-free liquids, as a general rule, have been confiscated, as many cries of woe from Schiphol, Frankfurt, CdeG and Heathrow will attest. On Friday they took the first step towards easing the liquids restrictions at EU airports, most passengers noticed no change at all as the measures are being introduced as part of a more ambitious plan to lift the ban on the carriage oif lquids altogther.  We wait with baited breath and empty glass.

liveleak videoVideo of the week is the amazing timelapse footage from Blohm + Vosss shipyard in Hamburg of cruise ship Norwegian Crown being cut in half and stretched by 99 feet.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled due to coordinated strikes by air traffic controllers across Europe. France and Italy were worst hit with Paris air traffic control asking airlines to reduce movements by 20pc on Thursday causing the cancellation of Aer Lingus and Cityjet flights from Dublin. ATCEUC, the Air Traffic Controllers European Unions Coordination, comprising 28 unions and 14,000 members, took action to oppose the European Commission Single Sky reform plan that might involve austerity measures and job cuts for air traffic controllers in Europe (see press release).

Today (Sunday Feb 2) is election day in Thailand. The DFA advice has been updated to tell Irish citizens if they are in any doubt about safety, stay in their accommodation. Joanna Cooke’s blog says tourists have been unaffected, the State of Emergency has had no obvious impact on the city and no freedom of movement restrictions or night time curfews have been imposed and tourist bookings to Thailand are ahead of the figures a year ago.2011 cork crash 007

The 244-page report by Air Accident Investigation Unit into the February 2011 Fairchild SA 227-BC Metro III crash in Cork (Flight 7100 operated by Flightline SL for virtual airline Manx2, download full report 4.6megs or see press release) found the crew continued with their descent below the decision height on all three approaches without having acquired the adequate visual reference points. Nine separate factors contributed to the tragedy: poor visibility, uncoordinated operation of the flight and engine controls when go-around was attempted, engine power-levers retarded below the normal in-flight operational range (an action prohibited in flight), a power difference between the engines which became significant when the reverse thrust was activated whilst airborne, inappropriate pairing of flight crew members, the fact both pilots were fatigued, inadequate command training and checking, and inadequate operator oversight by Spain’s aviation regulator who was not aware that Flightline BCN operated in Ireland. It also found that the relationship between three companies (Manx2, Flightline BCN, Air Lada) was inappropriate and breached existing laws.

brendan mallonOne of the five survivors of the crash, Brendan Mallon of the Onholiday Group (pictured) said that while it took nearly three years to get a final report he felt it was important that a thorough report be compiled rather than any rush job. Brendan is still coming to terms with the report, and will going through the document in detail over the weekend. The bereaved father of pilot Jordi Sola Lopez asked people not to blame his son. Manx2 ceased trading in December 2012 and most of its operations have since been taken over by CityWing.

The CSO overseas travel figures for 2013 found that Irish residents took 6,323,100 trips overseas last year, down 2,700 on 2012 and an enormous 25pc short of the 2008 peak of 7,877,400 – a Dorislessingesque fifth child who no longer travels abroad because of the recession. To confirm the disappointment for the outbound travel trade, 40pc of Irish Travel Agents reported a drop in turnover in 2013 in comparison to 2012, whilst 36pc reported a small increase in turnover of between 0-10pc. A quarterly ITAA survey released this week found that members were more optimistic about 2014: 88pc of travel agents expect an increase in turnover, 8pc expect that business will remain the same and 4pc are expecting a decrease in turnover. ITAA members reported that Turkey was the destination that offered the best value for money in 2013 closely followed by Spain and the Canary Islands. Looking to 2014, 56pc of ITAA members expect Spain to be their most popular destination of the year; the top four destinations for 2014 are expected to be Spain, Portugal, Turkey and the USA. The survey found that customer loyalty is strong with 52pc of business coming directly from repeat customers.

The twin riddles of Irish tourism were posed by the Central Statistics Office figures released this week: are the Brits returning and what happened the Italians? The crucial British market is still more than a million visitors short of its 2006 peak of 4,060,000. The USA appears to have narrowly passed its record, achieved in 2007 of 1,073,000 which figure included Canada. All other top markets sent best-ever numbers of visitors to Ireland in 2013, with the exception of Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, South Africa and Switzerland. Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar reacted by (predictably) applauding the Gathering once again when the figures showed inbound travel rose 7.2pc to 6,985,900. Surprisingly, the last quarter of 2013 showed no dip in inbound traffic. Overseas visitors were up 9.9pc for the final quarter of 2013, Britain was up 12.5pc for the quarter and 5.6pc for the year, USA was up 11pc for the quarter and 13.9pc for the year. The last quarter increases (when there were profoundly fewer Gathering events) provided proof, if proof were needed, that access, rather than the Gathering, fuelled the growth in inbound tourism in 2013. Australia passed Poland in seventh place in the inbound charts to Ireland (the state), rather than Ireland (the island) for 2013: 1 Britain 2,928,900 (+5.6pc); 2 USA 1,035,500 (+13.9pc); 3 Germany 482,900 (+7.7pc); 4 France 433,700 (+9.4pc); 5 Spain 263,000 (+3.9pc); 6 Italy 234,000 (-7pc); 7 Australia 171,000 (+12pc), 8 Poland 159,700 (-5.4pc); 9 Netherlands 155,000 (+8.4pc); 10 Canada 122,500 (+8.7pc), 11 Belgium 100,400 (+15.8pc); 12 Switzerland 76,700 (-5.2pc); 13 Sweden 75,900 (+1.7pc); 14 Austria 54,000 (+10.2pc); 15 Denmark 53,200 (+20.4pc); 16 Norway 52,700 (+2.9pc). In the regional totals, Australia, New Zealand and Other Oceania totalled 187,700 (+20.6pc), Asia and Middle Easttotalled 154,000 (+15.8pc), Central, South and Other Americas 55,200 (+13.1pc) and Africa 39,000 (-5.1pc).

Brian Stack Vivienne Jump_2470Brian Stack of CIÉ Tours International (pictured with Vivienne Jump chair of CIÉT) said sales in 2014 are up 21pc year on year (listen here). CIÉTI dispensed a record 80 awards (count them) to Irish and Scottish hotels and attractions in Dublin Castle on Tuesday night in front of an audience that included all the movers and shakers in the home holiday business. Brian Stack warned that Irish hoteliers should be wary of trying to make back money lost in recession in one year (listen here). Ireland and Scotland combo tours are now the group’s biggest sellers (listen here). Brian Stack said CIÉTI normally has 75pc of its business booked by St Patrick’s Day. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Niall Gibbons, fresh, from missions to the middle east and USA said Texas is now in the sights of Tourism Ireland with direct flights to Houston and Dallas Fort Worth top of the wish list. A full list of CIÉ Tours International award winners can be found at the end of the bulletin.

Brendan Ferris Lorraine Hickey Caitins Sheep Dog TrialsTravel Extra interviewed Brendan Ferris (pictured with Lorraine Hickey receiving their award from Vivienne Jump chair of CIÉ Tours International and Michael Ring Minister of State for tourism) on the margins of the CIÉTI awards ceremony. The Kerry farmer collected another tourist choice award for his sheepdog demonstrations at Kells Sheep centre on the Ring of Kerry. He still keeps 100 sheep, showcasing 18 breeds from all around the world and will give a demonstration for €5. A former secretary of the sheepdog association, Brendan got the idea of opening a tourist attraction after large numbers of passers-by disrupted a three day shoot for a German TV advert in 1991, and now caters for 40,000 tourists a year (listen here). He said a silverware winning sheepdog can cost €5,000-€7,000 (listen here).

Harvey's point cropHarvey's Point weddingAnother champion Deirdre McGlone talked to Travel Extra about the hotel Harvey’s Point (slogan “Swiss made in Ireland”) and its phenomenal awards winning habit, after finishing 22nd in the world and top Irish hotel in the Tripadvisor Readers’ Choice awards for the second successive year. Harvey’s Point also won AA Ireland hotel of the year last year. Food, Deirdre explained, “is what we do” (listen here) and she talked about the importance of breakfast for a hotel that takes itself seriously (listen here). Harvey’s Point has developed a reputation as a destination for couples (listen here). She said hotel business is “all about getting the balance right “(listen here) and looking after the fundamentals of the business (listen here). She stressed the importance of a hotel keeping its identity (listen here) saying that it comes down to personal welcome (listen here). She emphasised teamwork among the staff (listen here) and the important of back-of-house matters right (listen here) and paid tribute to her neighbours at Lough Eske Castle (listen here), who also finished in the top hotels in Ireland. When Tripadvisor first awarded Harvey’s Point best hotel in Ireland last year they were surprised (listen here) and says there is nothing more to managing Tripadvisor than making sure that each comment gets a personal reply (listen here).

deirdre mcglone 150The Harvey’s Point saga started as a love story, two love stories, actually. Zurich entrepreneur Jody Gysling came on holiday and fell in love with Donegal (listen here). He bought a small house belonging to two brothers called Harvey on the shores of Lough Eske (listen here) and started with 20 rooms and a French culinary genius Thierry Delacroix in the kitchen, who proceeded to teach Martin everything he knew (listen here). Deirdre had worked in hospitality in France (listen here), came to work as a receptionist and married Martin, Jody’s brother. The hotel moved forward with a big expansion in 2005 (listen here) and built a function room that they feared was a white elephant (listen here). Nowadays the function room is humming, they will seat 600 there on Mother’s Day (listen here). She listed some of the faux-paux for hoteliers to avoid, the receptionist who doesn’t look up (listen here) and heralded an era when hotels seemed to be “judged on the size of the spa” (listen here). The home market is central to their business. Market breakdown is 60pc Ireland, 30pc Northern Ireland and just 10pc international (listen here).

cake 25 years_0317So farewell then, Holiday World Dublin for another twelve months. The Dublin event celebrated its 25th year with a cake cut by Maureen Ledwith, Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn and Clare Dunne President of the ITAA (pictured) and attracted 48,041 visitors, 47,050 consumers and 991 trade over the three days while the Belfast event attracted 28,410 visitors, including a ten year high on the Saturday and a six year high on the Sunday. See pictures from the Dublin show here or connect with the album on Facebook. Check out pictures from the Belfast show here or connect with the album on Facebook. Event organiser Edmund Hourican is hoping to expand the Dublin show again in 2015 after three years of retraction to occupy the left hand hall. The advice clinics will be relocated to a more open area beside the coffee shop. The boat show, not held since 2009 and originally scheduled for 2014 but postponed, may also return in 2015. Put the weekend of January 23 to 25 in the diary for 2015.

The Travel Advice Clinics at Holiday World 2014 threw up much interesting debate, every session a nugget of information. Among the revelations:beatrice murat_2146

  • Westjet’s Henry Nyzinski said that Westjet were to reload the summer 2015 schedules in to their booking system, as good as confirming the Canadian airline’s return in 2015, and confirmed the season would start earlier.
  • Murat Balandi (pictured on right with Baeatrice Cosgrove on left) said that Turkish Airlines, which have slots in Sydney Airport, will NOT be operating the route non stop from Istanbul.
  • Etihad’s Beatrice Cosgrove said May was the month to get the best fares from her and other airlines.
  • caroline green 002Ryanair’s customer services manager Caroline Green said Ryanair will change small booking errors outside of the 24 hour grace period if a customer has a genuine case to make.
  • Brendan Breen of the Travel Department confirmed that they would be resuming their Madeira programme. The Sunday flight from Dublin to Funchal, withdrawn by STATA last year, is to resume with start-up operation Windavia on April 13th to October 5th (Windavia return prices from €349 with 20kg baggage included and a pay on board service for food and drink. +3531 8045104). paul gallagher michael vaughan crop
  • President of the Irish Hotels Federation (pictured on right with Paul Gallagher to the left) Michael Vaughan, urged consumers to look at TrustYou, a website which aggregates user review sites from Tripadvisor, Booking.com, Expedia and other sites and, he says: “levels the playing pitch.” He said that he had been contacted by a firm based in Bangladesh which offered to have favourable reviews posted on Tripadvisor for 10c a review, and 1,000 favourable reviews for €500. He said: Tripadvisor is not the best system, it is not the worst system.
  • Paul Gallagher said that consumers were getting away with lower prices than hoteliers would like in the months of November, December, January even April. The cheapest weekend in an Irish hotel can be bought the first weekend after Christmas.
  • Michael Vaughan explained that single rooms were bad news for hoteliers: I worked for Jurys when we took over a hotel in Bristol that had 45 single rooms out of a total of 200. Those rooms could not be sold at weekends so the result was everyone ended up paying more for their bedroom because those rooms could not be sold. He said that there are lots of hotels that charge no single supplements especially off-peak.
  • Paul Gallagher said that tourist board star ratings do not count for much anymore, in many European countries five star hotels would rate as four star in Ireland.
  • Michael Vaughan said that the British banking system took a hit of 2.5bn in investment in Irish hotels much of which has had to be written off.

After Holiday World Louis Gossein and Henry Nzynski of WestJet went to Cork to meet airport personnel. Cork routes to Krakow and Warsaw are not returning this summer.

Gemma Lewis of Escape Marketing and Devon Chase of Barbados Tourism.

Barbados entertained members of the travel trade at Patrick Guilbaud’s last weekend. Vice president of marketing and sales Petra Roach and business development manager Devon Chase stressed that Barbados, best known for its 3,000 hours of sunshine each year, is also home to one of the most popular shopping and duty-free districts in the Eastern Caribbean. Nightlife includes wine and sports bars, and nightclubs that play jazz, calypso and reggae music. Devon Chase recommended that tourists sample some of Barbados’ rum at the food and rum festival, which takes place in November. Picture shows Gemma Lewis of Escape marketing with Devon Chase.

Topflight have brought the biggest ever group on their Today FM Ski trip with Ian Dempsey to Kirchberg to find lots of snow. Today FM will be broadcasting from the slopes all week.

There is great skiing on offer across Europe after heavy snow at the start of the week. New snow is boosting base depths in Austria. In France, heavy snow last weekend made for great skiing during the week and powder also hit southern resorts. In Italy, more heavy snow is forecast after a short dry spell  Swiss resorts Verbier and Zermatt report great conditions on and off piste. Scotland had with heavy snow on Wednesday meaning most resorts now have good coverage. In North America heavy snow has returned to Colorado and more is in the forecast. Canada is still enjoying great skiing but there is only light snow in the forecast for ski areas out west. A survey of European ski resort costs for February half term suggested skiing in Bulgaria could save €3,000 though not in Ireland from where Bulgaria is a two-flight option.

jose ivanWhen Jose Ivan’s boat washed up on the Marshall Islands on Thursday he claimed he had been adrift for 16 months and floated 8,000 miles from Mexico, having survived by eating turtles, birds and fish and by drinking turtle blood when there was no rain. It led to some much-needed advice on how to survive should you find yourself stranded on a desert island.

michelle sarenterJohn Donohue’s Aereps Travel Management is doubling up their roadshow calendar in 2014 with separate dates in April and October. The Caribbean/Latin America roadshow starts in Dublin on Monday April 14th with a Business Card Exchange at 12 noon and a trade Networking After Work event at 6pm. It moves to Belfast on Tuesday April 15th for another Networking After Work event at 6pm. The Aereps Americas Roadshow comes to Dublin on Monday October 6th and to Belfast on Tuesday October 7th. Aereps say they will be bringing airlines, cruise companies, destinations, bed banks, hoteliers and other travel suppliers to meet over 100 members of the Irish Travel Trade. Picture shows Michelle Prenter of aereps.

Vijay Dandapani, Brenda Fields Fergus Dunipece  copy 2On a visit to Dublin, Vijay Dandapani highlighted the selling points of the group’s five Apple Core Hotel properties in New York (listen here) including new rooftop bars, free wifi, free local calls, free continental breakfast and competitive hotel rates from $119 a night. The hotels get 20pc of their business directly from applecorehotels.com. Picture shows Vijay Dandapani, Brenda Fields and Fergus Dunipace from Apple Core hotels in New York at Cliff Town House in Dublin.

Ryanair‘s new headquarters at the Airside Business Park in Swords will include a snooker table, slide and life-size chessboard for new IT employees, where 50 new IT jobs are being created as the airline plans to recruit web developers, designers, analysts, software engineers, SEO and content, CRM and email specialists.

A reliquary containing the blood of John Paul II from a church in San Pietro della Ienca, at the foot of the Gran Sasso mountain in Abruzzo was stolen.

Aidan Brogan’s Datalex has signed what it calls a multimillion-dollar deal with US airline JetBlue. Datalex’s existing clients are airlines around the world, including Delta, Air China, Virgin Atlantic, United and Aer Lingus.

Anna Aero pointed out that of Ryanair’s 1,100 new routes in 2014, only 160 are actually new–new. The new-new route chart goes; Italy 23, Ireland 20, England 20, Greece 18, Spain 16, Belgium 11, Poland 9, France & Portugal 8, Germany and Netherlands 5, Others 17.

Teeling Whiskey Distillery - Image 3The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is to open a visitor centre in early 2015 in Newmarket Square in south Dublin’s Liberties, investing €10million into The Liberties based location and creating 30 full time jobs. Teeling expects 40,000 and 50,000 to its new visitor centre in its first year, increasing to 100,000 over the coming years. The 3,600sqm facility is designed by George Boyle Designs. The Square is enjoying a revitalization which includes the revival of the local market (the “new” market started in 1674).

selfie shootoutTurkish Airlines Kobe v Messi selfie shoot-out video (watch here) took the top spot in December’s iMedia Brands in Video chart, generating a True Reach of more than 138.3m views, 55m more views than the next brand on the list. Messi kicks off the challenge by taking a photograph of himself in front of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square, which he sends to Bryan’s phone with the message It’s on. Kobe sends back a pic from the Great Wall of China. Messi takes an underwater selfie from the Maldives. Kobe replies with an underwater selfie in Cape Town, with a shark behind him. Messi is photographed with a monkey in Thailand. Kobe shares a photo of him being licked by a lion (Tanzania?).

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The final shot shows Messi taking a selfie in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, and being photobombed by Kobe (second pic below). Each location features is a destination that Turkish Airlines flies to. Crispin Porter + Bogusky, created the campaign, produced by H S I Productions. The ad is running in more than 170 countries worldwide.

Sunway and Wings Abroad are in negotiations to share an extra charter flight to Izmir to take up some of the capacity left unserved by the closure of Thomas Cook’s Irish operation.

Rugby supporters travelling to Leinster’s European quarter-final in Toulon were told they may may have to leave before the game ends unless more flights are provided.

aer lingus lunchAer Lingus launch three new pre-order BIA meal options tomorrow for customers travelling on short-haul flights, in collaboration with restaurateur Clodagh McKenna.  Meals can be pre-ordered on aerlingus.com with the first on board delivery available tomorrow (Monday Feb 3): the Power Me Salad (€7.50), caramelised onion & leek quiche (€7.50) and a children’s macaroni cheese meal (€5) made with Irish cheddar and served with an apple and grape fruit pot, a Lily O’Brien cookie and a kid’s fruit shoot.

b757Spotters celebrated the first sight of an Air Contractors B757 in Aer Lingus colours all ready for the Shannon-Boston route. Malcom Nason got the first photograph on Thursday. The first US Airways aircraft to be painted with AA livery was an Airbus A319 tail number N700UW which flew between Charlotte and New York LaGuardia.

Irish tourism to Israel was up 3pc to 9,200 in 2013. A record 3.54m visitors entered Israel in 2013 and Naama Oryan-Kaplan, director of IGTO UK and Ireland expressed her delight in Israel’s rising popularity with incoming visitors.

Boguslaw Becla Director of the Polish Tourist Board in LondonBugoslaw Becia, Director of the Polish Tourist Office in London entertained guests at the Polish embassy also hosted members of the trade at a function in the Polish embassy.

A OnePoll survey listed Orlando, Malaga and Faro as the most confusing airports to navigate and Sydney the most straightforward.

The guesthouse sector is launching a rebranded campaign called Guesthousesofireland.com with the slogan: places that stay with you.

IRELAND IS 'THE BUSINESS' IN PARISPicture shows Rory Montgomery, Irish Ambassador to France (front, third right); Finola O’Mahony (front, third left) and Caroline Phelan (front, left) from Tourism Ireland and guests at the Meet in Ireland networking event in the Irish Embassy in Paris.

Less than two months after starting flights to the Portuguese capital, Ryanair announced that Lisbon will become a full-blown base in April, with the addition of four new routes. A single 737-800 will be based there helping the airline to grab a 6oc share of the airport’s weekly seat capacity.

clare awardPicture shows Donnagh Gregson, Chairperson of the Clare Tourism Forum accepting the ‘Best Tourism Initiative Award’ from Hugh McElvanney, Chairman of the Local Authority Members’ Association (centre) at the LAMA Community and Council Awards 2014 held in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry. Also pictured is Mayor of Clare Cllr. Joe Arkins (left), Gerard Dollard, Director of Services, Clare County Council (second from right) and Cllr Michael Kelly, Member of LAMA executive. The Clare says Céad Míle Fáilte campaign, was launched in early 2013, bringing together 152 tourism providers to enable frontline hospitality sector staff undergo training to assist them in engaging better with visitors and welcoming them to the County. Fáilte Ireland’s Gathering won the award for National Impact.

award winners_031Winners of the Travel Extra Travel Writer of the Year awards are pictured together with the Spanish Ambassador after their successful awards ceremony at Thomas Prior House: Sara Rivero of the Spanish Tourist Board, Pól Ó Conghaile who won the overall award, Eoghan Corry editor of Travel Extra, Catherine Murphy, Isabel Conway, Mal Rogers, Spanish ambassador Javier Garigues, Jon Slattery, Susan Morrell, Moira Hannon, Rosita Boland, Hiromi Mooney, Lucy White and Gonzalo Ceballos of the Spanish Tourist Board. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

  • Meehan Travel, Bundoran became the 75th and Brady Travel in Carrick-on-Shannon the 76th agency to join the Travel Centres consortium, headed up by Dominic Burke.
  • Lufthansa reported its most successful year ever in Dublin during 2013 with passenger figures of over 369,676 smashing the previous record in 2012 by 6.75pc. Three quarters of Lufthansa passenger from Dublin were transfer passengers through Frankfurt and Munich with the top transfer destinations were Moscow, Kiev, Tel Aviv, Lagos, Sofia, Beijing, Caracas, Tokyo, Zagreb, Cairo, Graz and Minsk.
  • Over-50, overseas, overambitious and under-insured: these are the travellers causing the biggest headaches for consular offices.
  • Tryfan near Holyhead in north Wales topped a hillwalkers’ list of favourite peaks, clmbers like to jump between the two hunks of stone at the top known as Adam and Eve.
  • An e-petition against holiday price hikes in the school breaks has attracted more than 140,000 signatures in England, admit suggestions the Westminster parliament could debate price hikes of holidays out of school term time. One English national offered tips on how to keep family travel costs down during the school holidays.
  • Travel writer Anthony Peregrine advised tourists to Paris to stay up late in an Irish pub, but skip the Louvre, ignore the locals and stick to the beaten track.
  • On the week the Irish Winter Olympic team was announced (Clifton Wrottersley’s fourth in the skeleton in 2002 is the closest we have ever come to a medal) we were reminded why we should look forward to the Winter Olympics, including the possibility of seeing Putin indulge in some impromptu bear wrestling.
  • The DFA upgraded its advice to warn against all non-essential travel to Egypt but confirmed by telephone (and the second paragraph of the website warning) that they are still making exceptions for Sharm El Sheikh. Tourists in Cairo were advised to remain inside their hotels following a weekend of violence in which around 80 people were killed. Tour operators insisted that Egypt remains safe.
  • SNCF, the French rail group say they will have the legendary Orient Express service running once more within five years.
  • Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa in Sicily is wooing Irish golfers through the new Ryanair Dublin to Comiso route to launch in April.
  • Manchester’s Coronation Street Tour was confirmed for the Great Days Out exhibition, alongside Cadbury World, Pennine Lancashire Museums, Manchester City Football Club, Royal Exchange, Cornerhouse, National Football Museum, Ribble Valley and Visit Peak District. Register for FREE fast track entry here or phone 0161 238 4573.
  • The Connemara Coast Hotel was presented with a gold star award in the four-star hotel category by the Irish Accommodation Services Institute – the national body that represents the accommodation industry.
  • The Council of Tenerife, through the Tenerife Tourism Corporation and its Tenerife Golf brand, launched its new guide for golfers through the Tenerife Tourism Corporation and its Tenerife Golf brand. The guide is available in English and can be downloaded free for iPhone and iPad at the Apple Store and Google Play for tablets and smart phones with Android system. Created by Tenerife-based company Tosal Creative Projects, it features a selection of member hotels of the Tenerife Golf brand, a list that will be expanded gradually.
  • Cliffs of Moher Cruises and Aran Island ferries say as they have 4 large ships, so can accommodate times of departures other then our normal timetabled sailings.
  • Delta said it will invest $770m to improve customer comfort on board its fleet of 225 domestic narrowbody aircraft by refreshing the interiors of its Boeing 757-200, 737-800, Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft through 2016.
  • Camino Ways postponed plans for their first Camino Prep Walk of 2014 this morning because of weather conditions.
  • American Holidays new Explore More brochure features Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, Mexican beaches and Disney/Caribbean cruise combos.

WaterfrontExtensionAnnouncement1Belfast Waterfront’s new £29.5m extension will get underway this summer and complete construction work by December 2015, aiming to have a new conference and exhibition facility fully operational by summer 2016. Belfast City Council committed £11m to the project as part of its £150m investment programme and Minister Arlene Foster approved funding of £18.5m this week. Picture shows Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Mairtin O Muilleoir, Gavin Robinson, and Arlene Foster.

  • A further 42 new projects were added to this summer’s Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme.
  • Delta has introduced a new line of healthy menu items by Luvo on transcontinental services from New York’s JFK airport to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
  • Garuda Indonesia joins SkyTeam as its 20th member on 5 March this year.
  • The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has revealed 2013’s fastest-growing tourist destinations: 1 Japan, 2 Kasakhstan, 3 Thailand, 4 Greece, 5 Philippines, 6 Vietnam, 7 Turkey, 8 Russia, 9 UAE, 10 Taiwan. UNWTO Secretary Taleb Rifai launched the International Handbook on Tourism and Peace in Austria.
  • Homestay.com extended their relationship with Britannia Student Services.
  • China’s Tourism Academy says that 225m Chinese tourists are expected to travel during the annual Spring Festival which follows the New Year celebrations from 31 January.
  • Delta was named the 2014 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World magazine, the first time for a U.S. carrier in a decade.

Projest Arts Centre A Tender Thing

  • Spending on Valentine’s breaks is expected to reach €100m in Ireland this year. To celebrate St Valentine’s Day, the Westbury hotel has come together with The Project Arts Centre, to create ‘A Tender Thing’ at The Westbury Hotel (pictured)
  • Delta’s joint venture with Virgin Atlantic means flights are operated on a ‘metal-neutral’ basis – sharing costs and revenues.
  • Travel Centres is to publish its own brochure on South America in partnership with Ecuadorean company Metropolitan Touring, one of South America’s largest DMC’s who participated at the consortium’s last two annual conferences. This year’s Travel Centres conference which takes place again at the Killashee House Hotel in Naas, on November 14th & 15th.
  • The Boutique & Lifestyle Lodging Association says that boutique hotels are outperforming their branded brethren. Research by Lodging Econometrics indicates 151 hotel projects are in the New York development pipeline today totaling 26,244 rooms, 73 projects are currently under construction for a total of 13,318 rooms and just three of these are luxury branded hotels, totaling 688 rooms, while there are 18 boutique independents underway totaling 3,042 rooms.
  • Easyjet introduced mobile boarding passes at Belfast International Airport, allowing passengers to check-in in less than ten seconds. Easyjet is to stop operating the thrice-weekly Gatwick to Amman route on May 5.
  • The Mayfair Hotel & Spa Miami celebrates its 30th birthday with Miami Vice packages for Miami Romance Month.
  • Two Caribbean cruises were cut short to return home after suspected norovirus outbreaks on board, an outbreak earlier this week on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas which affected over 600 passengers and crew followed by an outbreak on Caribbean Princess. There was advice on how best to avoid it while cruising.
  • Tourism Ireland reached 2m fans on Facebook after attaining 825,000 new likes during 2013.
  • Monart Destination Spa launched a custom built and custom designed Infrared-Pro Cabin at the Spa’s extensive Thermal Suite. The technology has won a number of leading international SPA innovation awards and was sourced and customised for Monart through months of consultation and development between Michael and Liam Anthony Griffin and Klafs of Germany. This technical development is currently not available anywhere else in the world excluding some very limited sites in Germany. The Infrared-Pro cabin is available for Monart guests to use freely as part of the Thermal Suite experience and it offers numerous health benefits to its users.

once upon a time

  • The Doolin Writers’ Weekend March 28-30 is offering a short story prize sponsored by Hotel Doolin with a prize fund of €1,000 will be awarded to the winning entrant, with €600 and €400 prizes for the second and third placed entries respectively. The winning entry will be published on the Irish Writers’ website and in The Clare People newspaper. Competition entries will be judged this year by Anthony Glavin, former Editor of “New Irish Writing” in the Irish Press (1986-88) and former commissioning editor with New Island Books (1994-2004). Entries to the Doolin Short Story Competition 2014 can be on any theme and should be no longer than 3,000 words. The entry fee is €10 and the closing date for entries is Monday 3rd March at 5pm. To enter visit: doolinwritersweekend.com. Picture shows Donal Minihane, General Manager of Hotel Doolin (seated) pictured at Doolin, Co Clare, as part of the official launch of the Doolin Short Story Competition and Doolin Writer’s Weekend in County Clare on 28-30 March 2014. Also pictured are Hote Doolin staff Paul Reddan, Jenny Kelly, Raquel Noboa and Barry Shannon.
  • Those who cannot make the millennial re-enactment of the Battle of Clontarf in Fairview Park on April 23 need not worry, if the scores add up we might have an amazingly concidental Munster v Leinster re-enactment in Croke Park on April 25 for the European Cup semi-final. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry is giving a talk about the prelims of the battle, Slanty Dan and the Danes, the Kildareman who caused the Battle of Clontarf, tomorrow (Monday) night for Celbridge History Society in Celbridge Library 8pm.
  • Upcoming festivals:
  • Cork Spring Poetry Festival February 12-15
  • The 15th Gathering Traditional Festival February 19-23
  • Dublin City Festival of Russian Culture February 23 – March 2
  • Corofin Trad Fest February 24 – March 2
  • Tedfest February 27 – March 2
  • Roscommon Drama Festival March 7-15
  • Bus Éireann launched an option for passengers of either printing off their ticket or displaying their e-ticket to the driver before embarking on their journey. On boarding the coach, passengers ensure the driver can clearly see their name, journey details and MAC number. The driver will then enter the MAC number and print out a ticket.
  • Skål Dublin will be hosted by GM Fergal O’Connell and his staff at the Fitzwilliam Hotel, St Stephen’s Green on Tuesday February 11th, €30 for members and guests.
  • Regional Airlines alliance ERAA is to hold an inaugural airline CEOs’ summit, to be held in Brussels on July 8. Flybe was Europe’s largest regional airline in 2013 with 176,800 seats a week flown on aircraft with fewer than 80 seats followed by Wideroe (126,273), Hop (90,594), LOT (67,015), BinterCanarias (66,240), Air France (59,904), SAS (46,437), Austrian (44,504), Lufthansa (44,226) and Aer Lingus regional (43,542).

MSC Giles Hawke

  • Giles Hawke (pictured) was appointed MSC Cruises’ Executive Director for Ireland, UK and Australia.
  • United Airlines unveiled a new check-in area, expanded its Mercedes-Benz tarmac transportation service and added four security checkpoint lanes at Newark Liberty International Airport.
  • Travel Social Media Benchmark from eDigitalResearch says KLM outperformed the rest of the travel industry in the very first Travel Social Media Benchmark from eDigitalResearch, topping the Facebook league table with over 4.5m followers, 1.7m more than any other travel brand.
  • Starwood launched a pilot programme that allows guests with a smartphone to bypass check-in and use the device to open the door to their room. Check-in then occurs automatically once the door has been opened in two of its Aloft properties – one in Harlem, New York and the other in Cupertino, California. Starwood recently announced that its Preferred Guest loyalty programme is offering up to 15,000 bonus Starpoints in a new promotion.
  • eConcepts say they have a custom designed Facebook App for Travel Agents, they say the App is like a mini website that sits within the travel agent’s Facebook page. Pat Kennedy from eConcepts will be out at the RDS next week at the Hospitality Expo.
  • MSC are showing all the World Cup 2014 matches in the public lounges on board our ships from June 12th-July 13th.
  • Etihad Regional operated its maiden flight between Geneva and Rome.
  • SkyTeam launched promotional round the world fares, offering a 10pc discount off tickets up to 26,000 miles purchased between 23 January and 31 March 2014 to its 1,024 destinations. Tickets must be purchased seven days in advance and travel must be completed within six months.
  • Brussels Airlines announced 11 new routes and launched a new loyalty programme specifically for its European network.
  • Tourism Authority of Thailand is the latest tourist board website to feature TripAdvisor content.
  • Antony Worrall Thompson said he will join diners for a four-course meal with carefully selected wines to accompany each course at The Wood Norton hotel, based in Worcestershire.
  • MSC say they are improving the experiences and entertainment on board northbound Grand Voyages with new and improved sports and leisure activities; entertainment and shows; arts and craft activities; lectures and dance classes.
  • travel42 launched itself as the only professional review site for travel agents (slogan: Because consumer comments are not reviews) a site devoid of any supplier-based content or consumer comments. Reviewers make in-person inspections and provide insider guides on thousands of hotels, cruise ships and destinations worldwide. London-based Secret Earth launched a new invitation only trip planning website, with 100 destination guides, 1,300 activities & attractions, 550 hotels, and 650 restaurants and bars. Another hospitality advice website Well Travelled is launching in the next few weeks.
  • Flybe rescued the London Southend to Newquay service.
  • Phoenicia Hotel Malta announced a new twin-centre honeymoon package in Malta and Gozo, with five-star service throughout, at just €1,904 per couple for seven nights.
  • Global Spa & Wellness Summit has named Jean-Claude Baumgarten, of the World Travel and Tourism Council and Gina Diez Barroso de Franklin of Mexico’s Grupo Diarq to its Board of Directors.
  • Cirque du Soleil has confirmed that it is bringing a new, free, open-air event to Andorra in July and August 2014 entitled ‘Scalada’ that will be created especially for the country.
  • Costa Hollywood is to open a $180m six-story, 304-room condo-hotel including gym, holistic day spa, upscale dining and shopping district, plus a rooftop pool deck overlooking the Intracoastal and Atlantic Ocean, expected to open late 2014.
  • Forever Resorts introduced #digitalvacation for the WiFi Weary.
  • Macau celebrated the inclusion of ten new restaurants, two new hotels and 23 establishments in all in The Michelin Guide Hong Kong & Macau 2014 meaning he guide now features 74 establishments in Macau, including 18 hotels and 56 restaurants.
  • Skyrail in Queensland launched two new ways to travel over the rainforest canopy in gondolas, Diamond View Gondolas and a Canopy Gilder, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Wet Tropics Area’s World Heritage listing.
  • CMV took over TransOcean Kreuzfahrten and will now enter the German ocean and river cruise market for the first time.
  • BA opened a new £1.5m executive lounge at Edinburgh Airport.
  • Sandals Resorts International is to build a new Beaches Resort in Antigua on the site of the company’s existing Grand Pineapple Resort in Long Bay with 1-4 bedroom rooms and suites, up to 12 restaurants, conferencing facilities and a wide range of exhilarating and unique features that include a waterpark, cinema, Xbox Play Lounge and BMX track. Travel Broker 01-833 3921.
  • Argentine National Institute of Tourism Promotion launched its programme for 2014 with a road show to London, Manchester and Birmingham.
  • The annual Expedia Wave Report revealed 2014’s most-coveted destinations as the Eastern Mediterranean, featuring exotic ports along the Adriatic Sea including Croatia, Cypress, Greece, Israel, Eastern Italy and Turkey, followed by Alaska in the number two spot.
  • Amadeus are  launching their annual insights report, at the London Business Travel Show this week indicating that  8pc of business travellers are able to make their own corporate travel bookings through an online system. 79pc can make hotel bookings, 77pc can make new flight bookings while 60pc can book train tickets. The report says self-governed travel is becoming a widespread reality – the majority of travellers make their own way on the last leg of their journey rather than seeking help for the taxi or car to their hotel. Half of the travellers will make their initial booking through their agent or TMC, 51pc said that had to make changes to their travel plans after booking the travel but before departure and 60pc of these people will turn to their agent for help with the amended booking. Nearly 20pc of our respondents were unclear on mobile phone roaming charges.
  • The festival and events organisers body AOIFE has been appointed Festival Hub for the EU Commission supported EFFE – Europe for Festivals, Festivals for Europe project. Aoife host a Community Festivals Training Day and Safety Officers briefing in Ballinasloe on March 29th
  • Carr Golf will sponsor the Irish Golf Writers Awards Dinner, at Portmarnock Golf Club on March 6th.

Biz Dsk TARGETING INDIAN TOURISTS FOR IRELAND-4 copyKuoni India, launched a new, dedicated Ireland brochure for Indian tourists at Tourism Ireland’s first India seminar in Dublin’s Westbury Hotel, for the increasing number of Irish tourism enterprises interested in welcoming Indian tourists in 2014 and beyond. The event was attended by Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar and HE Mrs Radhika Lal Lokesh, Indian ambassador to Ireland, as well as 100 tourism companies from all around Ireland. Tourism Ireland wants to grow the number of Indian tourists to the island of Ireland from the current 21,000 per year thanks to the increased services for 2014 by Etihad and Emirates via the Middle East; as well as the Visa Waiver Scheme. at the seminar. Picture shows Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; and Beena Menon, Tourism Ireland India, at Tourism Ireland’s India seminar.

  • Worldhotels 2014 Global Annual Conference hosted 350 hoteliers, sales representatives and industry experts from all over the world.
  • JAL Heathrow service will operate into Haneda airport Tokyo from March 30.
  • Travelport launched Queue Control Console, a new product that empowers travel agents to automate part of their ticketing operation.
  • A major three-year full archaeological study of the 1798 battle on Vinegar Hill in county Wexford has been announced.
  • Belfast St George’s Market won ‘Best Large Indoor Market’ at the annual NABMA awards in Birmingham.
  • Tralee launched an app available to download to iPhones, iPads and Android devices. The design of the Tralee App was commissioned by Tralee Chamber Alliance in collaboration with graduates and current undergraduates at the Institute of Technology Tralee.
  • Christoph Franz, CEO of Lufthansa said he intends to begin flying A380 superjumbo jets on routes to India later this year.
  • MSC Renaissance Programme will see the redevelopment of MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica, will take Lirica class ships in dry dock for 38 weeks with MSC Opera out of action for the first half of summer 2015. As a result, MSC Cruises has decided to halt ex-England sailings for a year and will be dramatically increasing its fly-cruise capacity.
  • The Irish Aviation Authority’s customer satisfaction rating has hit a record 90.94pc, up from 90.80pc in 2012, according to the Customer Care Report 2013.
  • The London government said that it will not implement European Court of Justice September 26th ruling that wholesale package tourism services be taxed under the Tour Operators Margin Scheme. The ruling decreed that calculations should be done on a sale by sale basis and the operators’ net margin had to be visible on the tax invoice. The ruling adds another complication to the very messy tax regime being faced by tour operators across all administrations.
  • MG Orender, former president of the PGA of America joined the board of directors of Spain’s La Manga Club.
  • The 78 bedroom Oriel House Ballincollig hotel expected to sell for €6m.

Rose Fernandez 10 2013 copy

  • Amadeus London appointed Rosemarie Fernández (pictured) to Marketing Director for Amadeus Ireland & UK. Guy Snelgar became head of sales and consulting while John Prentice joined as senior sales and consulting manager, leisure.
  • Pullmantur signed an agreement with Gowall and Springwater capital to sell a majority capital stake of its businesses which are dedicated to tourism-related activities that are not directly connected to its cruise line business: European travel circuits and city tours, tour operation, Nautalia Viajes travel agencies and Pullmantur Air.
  • Tune Hotels is to open its sixth English property in Canary Wharf in November.
  • There were new tips on how to get into Berghain, Berlin’s most exclusive nightclub.
  • Travellers to Kefalonia should expect disruption to port services and damage to roads and buildings following an earthquake on Sunday.
  • Pakistan officials warned of the possibility of the Taliban targeting tourists in the country’s mountainous north.
  • Michael O’Leary told the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Ryanair would now copy Aldi or Lidl: “to grow market share they need to move to a quality offer, you will have noticed them advertising relentlessly quality offers at great prices.”
  • Profits at Dublin-based recruitment and services firm Parc Aviation jumped 80pc to €4.7m.
  • As 4,000 Siptu members vote for strike action over the pension deficit at Aer Lingus and DAA until the end of next week, it was reported that workers have probably voted in favour of taking industrial action.
  • Prague-based developer Jonathan Jackson received permission from Dublin City Council to go ahead with a new 143-bedroom hotel on Camden Street. An old chapel on the site will accommodate a hotel restaurant.
  • There were complaints that Dublin hotels had hiked prices by €100 for the weekend of the Garth Brooks concert on July 25-27.
  • Jim Mansfield, the Brittas-born founder of Ireland’s largest hotel, the 492-room Citywest, died at the age of 75.
  • Norwegian Air injected €39m into its Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, the company it is using to front its long-haul service.
  • Passengers flying from Belfast International beware: it was reported that the final decision about who is allowed on an easyJet aircraft to an EU destination is left to a computer database that has repeatedly been shown to be fallible.
  • Ryanair Captain Morgan Fischer (45) the Ryanair pilot lost his unfair dismissal claim that he was treated unreasonably harshly when transferred to Lithuania from his base in the south of France.
  • A bright light headset said it can help jet lag by blasting light into ears. Writer Samuel Gibbs concluded: The scientific basis for the Valkee 2‘s treatment of Sad is best described as murky.
  • Sleep with a stranger to save money? the latest idea from the travel-oriented P2P website boom
  • Recognition for the night skies above County Kerry (see websites here and here) from the International Dark-Sky Association gained some international coverage.
  • The Gibson hotel in Dublin City, is hosting a Single Ladies evening in the hemi bar from 8pm as an antidote to Valentine’s Day on Friday February 14th. There will be a DJ who WON’T be playing love songs, special drinks promotions and a raffle with a chance to win two much sought-after Beyoncé tickets for March 8th with dinner in coda eatery at the Gibson on the night. All proceeds going to the Irish Heart Foundation.

THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING

Emirates First Class Private Suite

  • Emirates First Class (pictured) promotional prices are available until February 14th for first class travel from Dublin to Dubai from €3,159, Melbourne from €4,851 and Cape Town or Johannesburg from €3,449.
  • Aer Lingus sale ends midnight tonight on www.aerlingus.com flights priced from €239 each way to North America, travel from April 1st to June 15th.
  • Brittany Ferries 25pc early holiday booking offer ends tomorrow.
  • Abbey Travel Australia promotional fares including a free holiday visa and 30kgs baggage allowance. Return flights via Abu Dhabi are as follows: Sydney €828, Melbourne €828, Brisbane €842, Perth €818, valid for departures Jan 28-Apr 8, Apr 21-Jun 15 and Sep 8–Nov 30, subject to availability.
  • Quickpark have extended their 10th Anniversary Special Offer to celebrate their new website. Customers can book parking online up until midnight on February 28th to avail of our fantastic promotional rates from just €3 per day.
  • Sunway offers until Feb 28 include 74pc off AMA Rivercruise, Sunway exclusive Norwegian Cruise Line from €1215, Morocco no single supplement three star Argana Hotel, Agadir 7 nights B&B from €449, was €532.
  • American Sky are offering savings up to €300 per person on a sixteen day Western Discovery Tour when booked before February 10th with prices from €1699 per person between May 22nd and August 28th and then again between September 25th and November 6th.
  • Explore launched bespoke brand programme Explore Tailormade with sample itineraries costing from €1,146 per person.
  • GTI Ireland tour offers include Austria: from Vienna to the Tyrol, 8 days departing May-October 2014 from €1179pps, Cycling in Riccione, 8 days departing May 14-21 2014 from €899pps, Cooking Lessons in Tuscany, 4 days departing May 6-9 2014 from €775pps, 5* Easter in Corfu, 8 days departing April 16-23 2014 from €1127pps, Easter in Sardinia, 8 days departing April 17-24 2014 from €989pps.
  • Sandals Resorts announced Two New Island Destinations and enhanced Couples-Only Holiday Experience.
  • Forbes Travel Guide awarded five star rating to The Spa at Pebble Beach.
  • Sunway holidays are currently seeking a cruise expert based in their head office in Dun Laoghaire dealing with enquiries from the trade and customer by phone and email, liaising with Suppliers and product manager, assisting in marketing campaigns. Candidates require a minimum two year’s experience in the industry including cruise selling experience, GDS experience, preferably Amadeus, excellent telephone manner, sales experience, flexibility in hours.

As promised, here are all 80 winners of CIÉ Tours International awards: Best 5 star hotel Killarney Park Hotel, Kerry; Best 4 star hotel Ashling Hotel, Dublin; Best 3 star hotel International Hotel Killarney; Best Hotel Accommodation Conrad Hotel Dublin; Best Hotel Dinner Cabra Castle Hotel, Cavan; Best Hotel Service and Hospitality Granville Hotel, Waterford; Best B&B / Farmhouse Applecroft House, Killarney, Co Kerry; Best Event Dinner / Entertainment The Merry Ploughboy, Dublin; Special Dinner Feature Killeen House Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry; Best Tour Feature Brendan Ferris – Sheep Dog Trials; Best Walking tour Ronan McNamara – Derry Walking Tours; Best Visit Slieve League Cliffs, Donegal.

  • Commended (Silver awards) in Leinster; Hotels (18): Dunboyne Castle Hotel Meath; Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin; Westbury Hotel Dublin; Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel Dublin; Croke Park Hotel Dublin; The D Hotel Louth; Glasson Country House Hotel Westmeath; The Shelbourne Dublin; Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel Dublin; Herbert Park Hotel Dublin; Bewleys Hotel Ballsbridge Dublin; Clontarf Castle Hotel Dublin; Davenport Hotel Dublin; Alexander Hotel Dublin; Clyde Court Hotel Dublin; Grand Canal Hotel Dublin; Royal Marine Hotel Dublin; Maldron Hotel Cardiff Lane Dublin; Visits (11): Jerpoint Park Kilkenny; Dunbrody Famine Ship Wexford; Glendalough Visitor Centre Wicklow; Sean’s Bar Westmeath; Clonmacnoise Offaly; Kilmainham Jail Dublin; Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens Kildare; Kilkenny Castle Kilkenny; Brú na Bóinne Visitor Centre Meath; Dublin Castle Dublin; Greta Power Farmhouse B&B Kilkenny;.
  • Munster; Hotels (9): Dromoland Castle Clare; River Lee Hotel Cork; The Brehon Kerry; Killarney Plaza Hotel Kerry; Killarney Towers Hotel Kerry; Benners Hotel Kerry; Killarney Avenue Hotel Kerry; The Malton Kerry; Old Ground Hotel Clare; Visits (6): Killarney Horse & Carriage Tours Kerry; Cliffs of Moher Clare; Marine Bar Waterford Waterford; Blarney Castle Cork; Tangney Tours – Jaunting Car Kerry; Muckross House Kerry.
  • Connacht Kilronan Castle Roscommon; Hotels (8): Hotel Meyrick Galway; Ashford Castle, Cong Mayo; Radisson Blu Hotel Galway; Clew Bay Hotel Mayo; Galway Bay Hotel Galway; Hotel Westport Mayo; Knockranny House Hotel Mayo; Visits (4): Rathbaun Farm Galway; Cnoc Suain, Conamara Galway; Dun Aengus Fort Galway; Westport House Mayo;.
  • Ulster Harvey’s Point Hotel Donegal; Hotels (6): Hilton Belfast Antrim; The Merchant Hotel Antrim; Mill Park Hotel Donegal; Kee’s Hotel Donegal; Ballygally Castle Antrim; Giant’s Causeway Antrim; Visits (6): Glenveagh National Park Donegal; Down Cathedral Down; Titanic Belfast Antrim; Donegal Castle Donegal; Castle Ward Down.

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