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Showing posts from 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Escape Worldwide

Well another year has passed already and here at the Escape Worldwide Long Haul Holidays we have had a great year with plenty of travel, which we love the most. I myself  have been to Cape Town and the Winelands in South Africa, also Sri Lanka, The Maldives, Dubai and the beaches of Florida. Yep plenty of amazing places, all in the name of research of course. All the places I have visited have there own special magic. With Dubai I was lucky enough to stay the stunning Atlantis the Palm which was simply brilliant and well worth a visit especially for families as the waterpark there was simply fantastic. I loved both Sri Lanka and the Maldives with the highlight for me, climbing Sigirya Rock Fortress, it was a bit of a challenge but well worth it when you get to the top, with simply amazing views and the remains of an amazing Rock Fortress! The Maldives again was simply stunning a real jewel in the Indian Ocean and a truly magically place for a honeymoon. The Stunning Maldiv

Darren's just got back from the Atlantis The Palm in Dubai......

Darren has just got back from staying at the fantastic Atlantis the Palm : Driving up the trunk road of the Palm in Dubai the Atlantis dominations the horizon, and to be honest I was a little unsure if I'd like the resort as it looked very big and possible a bit soulless. The driveway to the hotel was full with other guest being dropped off and entering the lobby was a bit overwhelming with all the people whizzing around. Check was pretty quick and efficient which was a surprise as the lobby was so busy and I found the welcome extremely professional and friendly. Things were looking good! I was taken to my room with was lovely, very spacious with great views over the Palm and also the main swimming pool. The room was very clean and the quality of the furnishings very good, with all the facilities you could need for a comfortable stay. I have to say the hotel was a lot less themed than I was dreading and not tacky at all. After I settle in I head to the pool for a fe

Hawaii.... a long way from the UK but well worth a visit!

Darren is a big fan of Hawaii:  It’s a very long way to Hawaii , so once you’re there it’s worth taking in more than one of the six magical islands that are open to visitors. First stop for many is the island of Oahu , spending most of their time in and around Honolulu and Waikiki , but to get a true taste of Hawaii you’ll need to head over to one of the other islands. Don’t dismiss Oahu as being just the high rise hotels of Waikiki Beach – it’s true, Waikiki is wall to wall hotels crammed in to a fairly average stretch of beach, but there’s something about the place that’s a little intoxicating, with great restaurants, relaxed bars and quality shopping, beautiful sunsets and a stunning setting - no trip to Hawaii would be complete until you’ve been to Waikiki! Elsewhere on the Island there’s plenty of interest. Honolulu itself has been voted the most liveable city in the US and it’s easy to see why – it’s fairly small and easy to get around, plus it has a nea

Dusk at Ayres Rock, Australia

Darren was relives dusk at Ayers Rock: We leave the hotel, the Outback Pioneer which is pleasant enough with a huge outside BBQ and head off, by coach into the national park. Somehow I had in my head that you could see Ayers Rock from everywhere, miles around but surprisingly no, you have to go a fair way into the park before you come across it. You can't help but be in awe when you first see it shooting out of the ground in it's flat surroundings. The immediate reaction is to take a hundred and one pictures, all of which I’m sure would look the same, but never the less you are at Ayers Rock! Darren at Ayres Rock The sun would be setting in about an hour so we've still had time to make our way to the main viewing area, not before knocking back the well received glass of red wine. Once at the main viewing area the view of Ayers is amazing and with the sunny slowly beginning to set behind me I felt sure that Ayers Rock will live upto my dreams! It'

Vietnam a must see destination

In recent years, Vietnam has established itself as a popular holiday destination in the Far East. Mark explores the sights and sounds. Vietnam is a destination that combines incredible scenery and a varied history with vibrant cities, great food and exceptionally friendly people. This is a country of contrasts, and none more apparent than that of its two main cities, the elegant and charming capital Hanoi and the vibrant southern powerhouse Saigon. Both are well worth a few days to explore, and Vietnam's geography makes it easy to start your journey in one and finish in the other. Hanoi's French influence is apparent in its elegant buildings and tree-lined avenues – the Old Quarter is a fascinating place to wander through. The pretty Hoan Kiem Lake is a good place from which to get your bearings, with the photogenic Rising Sun Bridge crossing the water. Close by, Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum is most popular with Vietnamese visitors, who come to see Uncle Ho's fin

India....such a magical place

As Escape Worldwide celebrates its 11th birthday, the team take a look back at some of their favourite destinations. Karen Stewart recalls a trip to northern India, when the story of the  Taj Mahal  brought a tear to her eye. There are some places in the world that you feel you know even if you haven't been, and the Taj Mahal is one of them – it's such an iconic building that everyone knows what it looks like, but when you actually visit you're really blown away by just how beautiful this place actually is. I was part-way through a trip to see the highlights of northern India when I visited the Taj Mahal – it was my first trip to India and a real eye-opener to this fantastically diverse country. I began with a few days in Delhi, which acts as the main gateway to northern India and is a good place to get started, before moving on to Jaipur, which I have to say was my favourite part – there's something about the atmosphere there that I can't quite describe, b

Thailand - Land of smiles

Thailand is one of the most beautiful, charming and diverse countries you can visit. It's also one of Asia's best-value holiday destinations, says Mark Haughton of Wanstead travel agent Escape Worldwide. Thailand's diversity makes it a fascinating place to visit, where you can take in ancient temples and modern cities, deserted beaches and non-stop nightlife, stunning countryside and plenty more – all in one trip. Holidays to Thailand are very flexible, so it's not just a two-weeks-on-the-beach kind of place, you can do as much – or as little – as you wish. Most visitors start their Thai adventure in Bangkok, the capital and by far the largest city, with the best flight connections from the UK. It's a hectic place with lots to experience – there's everything from ancient temples and grand palaces to vibrant markets and lively bars, and while it's a full-on city that's not to everyone's taste, it's an easy place to fall in love with. It

Adventure in Borneo, Malaysia

For a holiday with adventure, Escape Worldwide's Karen Stewart swapped Wanstead for Malaysia and the island of Borneo , where she discovered glorious beaches combined with intriguing wildlife. Borneo is on a lot of people's must-see list of places because of its beaches, wildlife – most famously the orangutan – jungles and, for the more energetic, mountain climbing. It's a really special place, and while it's not the easiest to get to, it's well worth the effort. Consider spending a few days in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, on the way to Borneo, visiting the Petronas Twin Towers, Chinatown and the great markets, then fly over to Kota Kinabalu, the main town in Sabah. Borneo's geography is quite complicated, with the one island split between three countries, but while the Malaysian side of the island is far smaller than the Indonesian side – the third country, Brunei, has a really tiny area – far more visitors head to Malaysia, and the provin

Dubai - A holiday with a difference

There's more to Dubai than skyscrapers and luxury hotels, says local travel agent Mark Haughton of Escape Worldwide. The city also acts as a hub for destinations across the Indian Ocean and beyond. Dubai is one of the Middle East's most dynamic cities, and one that has seen more change in the last decade or so than anywhere else on the planet. Major construction projects, including offshore islands, the famous man-made 'palms', huge shopping centres and even the world's tallest building – the 829-metre-high Burj Khalifa -  have turned Dubai from a fairly small town in to one of the world's most visited cities. It's a great place to start a holiday, with water parks, beaches, museums and superb shopping in the form of the historic souqs as well as the more modern outlets, with the likes of the Dubai Mall, three times the size of our own Westfield Stratford City. Spend a few days exploring the city, or a little longer to take in the beach too, before

Friday Feeling

Get away from it all! Darren Escape Worldwide - Home of Long Haul Holidays

We need your help... which is the best travel photo?

Please help us settle an office argument - whose is the best photo? Ever since we had some of our favourite photos enlarged to put on the wall of our Travel Lounge, there's been an ongoing argument in the office as to who's photo is best. Have a look at our favourite photos and let us know what you think: Karen at the Taj Mahal in India "This is the best photo because of its composition and artistry - plus because I took it! Getting the reflection right in the pool was tricky, but it worked a treat when a group of colorfully dressed local ladies walked in to shot, rather than the group of backpackers who'd just moved on! I love this photo so much I've had it enlarged and is now on the wall at home!! Let us know via our Facebook page   Mark on the Masai Mara in Kenya  "This photo is more about the experience than the photo itself, although getting a shot when the cheetah was bearing her teeth while the cubs were looking i

Bangkok in Thailand

Darren talks about one of his fav places.... Bangkok..Thailand Thailand is probably my favourite country of all those I've visited, and it's one I've been to the most - I went twice this year alone, taking in the beach resorts of Phuket and Koh Samui , plus spending a few days on Bangkok , one of my favourite cities anywhere! This time I stayed at the Rembrandt Hotel , which is really well located for zipping around Bangkok on the skytrain, the monorail network that keeps moving when the City's terrible traffic grinds to a halt. The best thing I find is to get a day pass for the skytrain that costs 100 Baht (about £2) which lets you travel all day - it's easier than getting a ticket each trip! The Rembrandt Hotel has a superb Indian restaurant on the top floor, and dining here comes with a spectacular view across Bangkok - the food's pretty good too! On this trip I did a bit of sightseeing in Bangkok and went back to the Grand Pa

2013 a great year for travel - Safari in Kenya, Holidays to Thailand and more

We've had a busy start to the year and already its becoming clear that a couple of destinations are in favour this year. Safaris in Kenya and Tanzania are proving to be as popular as ever and remarkably good value. Safaris in Africa do really create memories of a lifetime and everyone in the office has been on safari and we just can't stop talking about them. I'm a huge fan and below is a picture I took of a stunning Cheetah when on was on the Masai Mara last: Cheetah on the Masai Mara The wildlife in Kenya is simply stunning and seeing the Big 5 is pretty easy. Tents and Lodges are very comfortable with all the creature comforts us humans insist on. After the fun and excitement on safari then you should really take a couple of days to kick back and chil on a stunning white beach, so try Mombasa on the Kenyan Coast or the tropical island of Zanzibar in Tanzanaia. Holidays to Thailand  are yet again proving massively popular, largely I think as they are suc

Oman.. one of our favs in 2012

In 2012 we did a lot of travel, for research honest! One of Darren's favourites was Oman : “For a spot of winter sunshine late last year I had a long weekend in Oman, where temperatures were in the mid 30's - just perfect for lazy days in the pool! I stayed at the Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton hotel and a local landmark - there aren't many hotels I've been to where the local Sultan has a floor all to himself (not even the hotel's manager has been to the 9th floor, apparently!) Oman is a beautiful country and Muscat itself is a fascinating town - the area has some beautiful hotels but if you can drag yourself away from the beach then I'd really recommend exploring Muscat for a half a day. The Grand Mosque is a beautiful example of Arabic architecture, while the Downtown area of Mutrah has an excellent Souq that looks like it hasn't changed for hundreds of years - I bought some spices and a rather lovely stained glass light fitting that seemed like a b

Honeymoons in 2013

As the wedding season approaches, Escape Worldwide takes a look at some of their most popular destinations for honeymooners. If your idea of the ultimate romantic honeymoon is to be alone with just the love of your life, then look no further than the Maldives . Hundreds of tiny islands scattered across the Indian Ocean , the Maldives is a stunningly beautiful destination where romance comes easily. Lazy days on the beach, beautiful sunsets and understated service are the order of the day here – forget sightseeing and partying! Resorts do vary quite considerably, and as you can’t really leave your island once you’re there its important to get the right one for you. Larger islands tend to offer a range of facilities and more of a village feel, ideal for those who like a little more activity, while some islands are little more than a dot on the horizon, perfect for a real get-away-from-it-all. From the moment you land at the airport, the beauty and romance of the Maldives

Happy New Year from Escape Worldwide

A Happy New Year from everyone at Escape Worldwide. We had a great 2012 and we all managed to travel tons, all in the name of research of course. Mark went to Mauritius which he loved and saw loads of properties. He was particularly taken by the Long Beach Resort Mauritius  which he found was of a great standard with a good all inclusive package and also good sized rooms. So much so he's planning to go back next year on his own holiday. He also went to Kenya again and as well as going on safari he also visited the brand new Swahili Beach Hotel in Mombasa  which is a stunning 5* resort on Mombasa's south coast and if a great standard, cascading swimming pools and great restaurants. Karen also made it to Kenya last year and went on safari on the Masai Mara  and also Amboseli National Park  which she hadn't visited before and simply loved being in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. I managed to travel a fair bit, I made it to Mauritius , Taba in Egypt , Koh Samui in Thaila