Try some bugs in Mexico or make a break for Scandinavia
Insect eating in Mexico
If you are fed up of pretentious Michelin-star restaurants and lengthy cooking courses, try Intrepid Travel’s new range of Food Adventures, which give travellers the chance to meet artisan producers, visit authentic local eateries and sample local delicacies. Among their summer highlights are eating grasshoppers in Mexico. Thomasina Miers, cookery writer, former Masterchef winner and founder of Mexican market eating restaurant Wahaca, says: “The Mexicans have been eating insects for thousands of years and they’re a nutritious and plentiful supply of protein and minerals.” Wahaca recently announced that it would be putting grasshoppers on the menu at its UK branch.
The Thomasina Miers-curated Mexico Real Food Adventure, priced at £820 (about Dh3,900) per person for eight days, offers travellers the opportunity to try grasshoppers at Asbastos Market in Oaxaca. It also includes a late-night taco crawl in Mexico City, a visit to a mescal distillery and a cooking class in Puebla. Log on to www.intrepidtravel.com/qvza
Scandinavian city break
Rica Hotels is offering two-for-one deals on hotel stays in Oslo. The Norwegian capital has a bustling street life, great shopping, exciting nightlife and many unique cultural experiences. Among its attractions are the Royal Castle, the Fram Museum, the Opera, the Vigeland Sculpture Park (right) and the Edvard Munch museum. Prices for two people in a double room per night begin at Norwegian Kroner 795 (about Dh500), plus taxes. For an extra 270 kroner per adult, the hotels can arrange for the Oslo Pass, which provides free entry to more than 30 museums and attractions, discounts on sightseeing, car rental and special offers at restaurants and shops.
- M. Sen/Special to GN Focus
Rekindle romance in Maldives or explore Europe’s history
Got a leftover wedding dress you don’t use anymore? At the Hilton Maldives Iru Fushi Resort & Spa, hotel guests can put it on again to create some fun pictures for a wedding anniversary or special occasion. The Trash the Dress photography phenomenon has become a global trend.
Guests can run along pristine white sandy beaches with their own set of props, create images that would suit a surreal pre-Raphaelite approach to painting, have a water fight, catch fish and jump (or be pushed) into a swimming pool. The in-house photographer will help create a library of interesting images over a two-hour shoot.
Packages start from $450 (about Dh 1,650)and include 60 images. Book at Hilton.com
Islamic history in Europe
A journey by a new French-built train Al Andalus takes in the best of Spain’s pre-Christian history. Two itineraries are on offer this summer. The 1930s luxury train route travels through Andalusia in southern Spain, with visits to World Heritage Sites in Seville, Cordoba, Granada and elsewhere, with cultural influences encompassing the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Byzantines and the Moors. The military-interest Ibérico itinerary is Madrid to Zaragoza, or Zaragoza to Madrid, including Pamplona, Moorish and Roman Burgos, Ávila and Segovia. Prices start from €2,350 (Dh11,300) for five days and six nights. Book at Luxurytrainclub.com
- M. Sen/Special to GN Focus
Take a sustainable holiday in Kenya or enjoy the dramatic scenery of the Andes
Segera Retreat in Kenya promises to set new standards in sustainable luxury tourism. The property, operated by Wilderness Safaris on Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau, is a newly completed camp characterised by exceptional attention to detail, craftsmanship and a rigorous implementation of sustainability practices.
The property is run on solar energy, with water being sustainably harvested and recycled.The activities — each tailor-made and facilitated through a personal villa attendant — include day-and-night game drives, picnics and sundowners, guided walks, events for children and family, a wellness centre, sleep outs and many more. Low season rates, until June 30, are $880 (about Dh3,230) per villa. More information is available at www.segera.com
May to September is the best time to visit the Andean region in Latin America. British tour operator Journey Latin
America has attractive packages.“The world’s longest mountain range offers the visitor something unique. Each country is slightly different, but all have dramatic scenery, indigenous culture and stunning journeys by road or rail,” says Isabelle Mazille, Product Manager.
The Classic package takes in hip Lima, the colonial charm of Arequipa and the remote Colca Canyon, before taking the journey from Lake Titicaca along the spine of the Andes to Cusco and on to the iconic Machu Picchu.Price begins from £2793 (Dh15,900) per person including flights. Also worth considering is the Overland Adventure, an exciting road trip. Log on to www.journeylatinamerica.co.uk
- M. Sen/Special to GN Focus
Partake in Egypt’s lively festivals or take a cost-saving trip to Thailand
For a summer break within the region, why not try Egypt’s lively festivals. All over Egypt in July and August, the birthdays of various holy men are celebrated as Moulids, meaning birthday in Arabic. Although not religious, they are spectacular celebrations marked by the exchange of sweets, decorative lights, music, wild dance, fireworks and ritual chanting, as well as street parades and performances.
British tour operator Egypt Uncovered offers a choice of tours, including the Jewels of the Nile programme.The eight-night Nile Explorer trip,departing on July 13, costs £379 (about Dh2,150) per person. Book at egypt-uncovered.com
For something different in Thailand, the six-month Laguna Phuket festival, which begins in mid-May, offers a treasure trove of fun and games for kids — and cost-saving benefits for parents. Hotel benefits extend right
across Laguna Phuket’s five-star properties from May 15 through October 31, when kids can stay and dine for free at select hotels, play golf for free at Laguna Phuket Golf Club with a full-paying adult and enjoy free tours on selected Laguna Tours excursions.
Educational tours, cooking lessons, sports skills, campfire parties and plenty of adventure are all part of the programme. For more information visit lagunaphuket.com
- M. Sen/Special to GN Focus
Discover the exotic sights of India or head to London for a luxury stay
Escape to India this summer, taking in the mysticism, wildlife and colour over the festive season with Oberoi Exotic Vacations.Until September 30, the hotel group is offering a series of holiday itineraries across the country from six to 15 nights.A typical 12-night north India trip for Rs110,000 (about Dh7,490) takes in Delhi’s colonial monuments such as the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid, Agra’s Islamic heritage sites including the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri, and the forts and lakes of Rajasthan’s famous cities of Udaipur and Jaipur.
Those with more time can book extensions such as three-night tiger safaris, Himalayan retreats or two-night colonial tours to British Raj-era Kolkata and elsewhere.Book at oberoihotels.com
Dukes London is celebrating its recent refurbishment with an invitation to the ladies in the Middle East to check out the city’s fashionable St James’ district with a stay in a newly renovated suite. The dedicated women-only rooms attract ladies in search of discreet service and a culturally acceptable location during their sojourn in the city, offering specially designed feminine touches including a personalised welcome card from the female general manager and a female room attendant to handle all guest relations, room service and housekeeping requirements. Suite guests have access to a full range of luxurious facilities. For more details visit Dukeshotel.com
— GN Focus Report
All this booming economic activity forcing you to stay in the UAE this summer? For those who can only take a few days off, we’ve pulled together a few local options. All are subject to availability.
Wild at heart
The stylish rooms at Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara provide complete luxury accommodation in Abu Dhabi emirate for honeymooners, desert explorers and family holiday makers alike, who can gaze out upon vistas of Arab Gulf waters and desert wildlife, for that home-away-from-home feeling. Guests staying three nights, four or five nights receive discounts of 30, 35 and 40 per cent respectively on the best available rate each day from May 3 to September 30. Limited rooms are on offer and subject to availability. Book at anantara.com.
Add some zest to your summer holiday with a stay at Madinat Jumeirah, which is offering an extensive array of delectable benefits for you and the entire family between May 8 and September 30. Their Jumeirah Summer Flavours package includes complimentary breakfast with a choice of lunch or dinner at any of 35 participating restaurants for each day of stay (including Zheng He’s above), complimentary access to Wild Wadi, private beach, free internet access and more. Room rates begin at Dh1,500++ per night. Call 04 366 8888