Luxury travel specialist Western & Oriental has just launched its new Beaches & Retreats programme for 2012 which replaces the operator’s former Tropical Locations brochure with a number of new destinations, hotels and unique experiences.
The brochure features more than 100 luxury resorts, hotels and tailor-made tours covering the Caribbean, India Ocean, Arabian Gulf, Far East and Europe.
“We are really excited about Beaches & Retreats as we have taken the very best parts of the former Tropical Locations programme, introduced some exciting new places such as Puerto Rico and Bequia as well as Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand and combined them with some exciting activities such as the Komodo Dragon Tour in Indonesia and some in-depth touring itineraries in Indo-China,” commented Steve O’Loughlin, head of trade sales for Western & Oriental.
New for 2012 include:
With a new direct service between the UK and Vietnam by Vietnam Airlines in December, Western & Oriental is expecting the area to continue to increase in popularity over the next year.
“Over the last year our sales to Vietnam have doubled and with the new direct flight offering even easier access to the whole Indo-China region we are expecting this area to continue to be a rising star in our portfolio,” continued O’Loughlin.
There are a number of new touring options featured including a nine day Classic Vietnam Tour which is priced from £2169 per person and includes a full sightseeing programme such as an authentic cooking class experience in Hue, as well as a stay in Hanoi, overnight tour of Halong Bay, a stay in Hoi An, and finishes with a few days in Ho Chi Minh City (all flights, transfers, accommodation and some meals are also covered in the price).
Also new ‘bolt on’ options are offered such as the Discover Sapa three night programme which takes in the northern territories along the Vietnam/ China border, or the Can Tho and Cai Rang extension which highlights the villages and floating markets scattered along the tributaries leading up to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
O’Loughlin continued, “We have also seen a 60% growth in our Indonesia sales over the last year and we will be really focusing on this area as the perfect destination to combine adventure with beach as well as good value for money and great quality accommodation.”
“We are now offering even more highlights to our Borneo Multi-Centre Holiday including an overnight visit to Turtle Island to see turtles living in the wild, Sandakan to visit the Orangutan Sanctuary, a couple of nights along the Kinabatangan river/jungle in central Sabah, finished off with a beach stay,” he added.
This 12 night holiday is priced from £2699 per person including activities, accommodation, transfers and flights.
Another addition is the new Komodo Dragon Tour to the Lombok Multi Centre Holiday which includes a 2 day/1 night visit to the small cluster of islands surrounding Komodo and overnight on a boat, as well as visits to Labuan Bajo, Rinca Island and Kalong Island to see giant flying bats.
“Another area which we feel is hugely undersold is Khao Sok National Park in Thailand. It is reminiscent of parts of Halong Bay or Guilin, with the Cheow Lan Lake scattered with over 100 islands,” said O’Loughlin.
The area is featured in Western & Oriental’s new 15 night Central and Southern Thailand Multi-Centre Holiday priced from £2879 per person, which combines unique experiences such as staying at the Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp for two nights in a luxury floating tent, with a beach stay in Phuket and Khao Lak.
The collection has been extended to include two new destinations, Puerto Rico and Bequia, as well as an extended choice on Mexico’s Riveria Maya, now including the Esencia Hotel.
Puerto Rico - The new British Airways direct flights from Gatwick just adds to the long list of factors which make this island one of the new hotspots in the Caribbean. Unspoilt beaches, fantastic whale watching, some of the best surfing in the Caribbean and three of the largest and most impressive bioluminescence areas in the world all add to Puerto Rico’s appeal. Think Caribbean beaches, the urban vibe of Las Vegas and the sexiness of Latin America and you have Puerto Rico.
The programme features the W Retreat and Spa, Vieques Island from £1779 per person for a seven night stay including flights, transfers and room only accommodation. It has a funky party atmosphere just a ten minutes flight from San Juan.
Bequia is adjacent to St. Vincent and is a true hidden gem with a Robinson Crusoe barefoot atmosphere. Stay at the boutique Bequia Beach Hotel which opened last year offering just 40 rooms and very personal service.
The destination choice has been extended to offer Croatia for the first time, namely the Hotel Bellevue and Excelior Hotel, both in Dubrovnik, as well as Rome’s Boscolo Exedra Roma and Hotel de Russie, the Bauer Hotel in Venice and The Gray Hotel in Milan.
In addition the operator has introduced two new properties in Tuscany including Il Salviatino in Florence, a restored Renaissance villa with spectacular panoramic views of Florence which opened in 2010. The hotel’s Ojetti Suite is perfect for honeymooners, housed in the tower and featuring a private roof terrace with Jacuzzi with breathtaking views.
The other Tuscan addition is Castel Monastero, a painstakingly restored medieval village from the eleventh century with two restaurants which are under the instruction of Gordon Ramsay.
New for 2012 is the lifestyle resort of Shanti Maurice which boasts the area’s largest spa with its Ayurvedic speciality as well as Yoga and mediation sessions. There are just over 40 junior suites and 17 villas in the 36 acres of tropical gardens and each has ocean views. Guests also benefit from free green fees at Bel Ombre golf course.
Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara in Abu Dhabi joins the collection for 2012, and offers an ideal desert add-on to a beach stay in the area or a stopover en route to the Indian Ocean as a contrast. Located in the vast Liwa desert, guests can enjoy walking trails, cycling or camel rides as well as the Anantara Spa.