Changing seasons, changing looks, changing fortunes, changing light, changing data plans: this week Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield covers them all
Springtime in England
I’ve just been in England, listening to the sound of a spotted woodpecker drilling into the trunk of an oak tree, while watching a grey squirrel skip lightly and silently along its branches. The meadows are green and the bright yellow daffodils are out. Springtime in England …
Springtime in Paris
Back in Victoria, Australia, the Sofitel Melbourne On Collins has a $429 Springtime in Paris package for two guests that includes overnight accommodation, buffet breakfast, two tickets to Goddess: Power, Glamour, Rebellion at the Australian Centre for Moving Image, valet parking and a $75 food and beverage credit. All that actually adds up to $779. Any guest who books the Springtime in Paris package also goes into the draw to win a trip to Paris for two people which includes return economy class airfares, three nights accommodation at any Sofitel hotel in Paris and tickets to a Moulin Rouge dinner and show. Call 03 9653 0000 or email H1902@sofitel.com.
Emirates is giving its familiar aircraft livery a refresh — and a twist to the familiar formula. The idea behind the new look is to modernise the airline’s appearance, while keeping the most familiar aspects of its identity, such as the United Arab Emirates flag and Arabic calligraphy. The flag on the tailfin is more dynamic and flowing, with a 3D effect artwork. The wingtips have been painted red with the Emirates logo in Arabic calligraphy in white. The new look will be rolled out across the fleet of 24 aircraft, including 17 Boeing 777s, by the end of 2023. And all new Emirates aircraft, from the first Airbus A350 entering the fleet in August 2024, will have the new livery. This is the 3rd iteration of Emirates’ look.
In and out
Having returned from the UK on an Emirates flight last Saturday, I left again on an Emirates flight to Africa yesterday (Friday). I’m with readers on a handmade, one-off Travel Club Tour to Botswana and Zambia — but first we have to fly to Johannesburg in South Africa via Dubai. We’re taking this long way round due to the complete debacle and cancellation of the Qantas flight direct between Perth and Johannesburg.
+ There are 84,400 rooms in 482 hotels in the pipeline in Africa. They are being developed in 42 of Africa’s 54 countries, but Egypt is leading by a long shot. This shows clearly in this year’s African Hotel Chain Development Pipeline report, which documents and analyses the number of hotels being planned and built across the continent. It is widely acknowledged as the industry’s most authoritative source. North Africa continues to dominate the pipeline, and 21 per cent of the hotels and 30 per cent of the rooms being planned or built in the entire continent are in Egypt. The top ten countries represent 68 per cent of hotels in the survey, and 74 per cent of the rooms. On a city basis, Greater Cairo has by far the largest share, with 12 per cent of the rooms in the pipeline, followed by Sharm El Sheikh and Addis Ababa. + Three international hotel chains dominate hotel development across the African continent — Marriott International, Hilton (both based in the US) and Accor (France). Marriott are projecting a massive number of openings in 2023 and Accor projects eight times its 2022 performance. For sheer speed of openings, you can’t go past Radisson. Some hotels open the same year they are signed. Of the total 84,400 rooms in the pipeline, more than 37,500 (about 45 per cent) are expected to open in 2023 and 2024.
+ One of Marriott’s great strengths is that it has 30 brands in its portfolio and franchises.
Trevor Ward, managing director of W Hospitality Group tells me: “One of the drivers of Marriott’s strong performance is a growing trend towards franchising in Africa. Franchising appeals to owners and investors as they retain more control of their properties; and they are now able to work with proven white-label operators in Africa to run them.”
Data & calls
+ A lot of readers ask us the best way to use their phones overseas, including some regulars who are heading to the UK. Mogens Johansen regularly writes a lot about this, and we generally think now that the best thing is to pay the daily rate with your provider, and get international roaming. That way, you keep your usual number and can use the phone pretty much as you do at home. Telstra is $10 a day for 1GB of data per day and unlimited calls and texts; Vodaphone is $5 a day.
+ A couple travelling together might consider getting global roaming for one of their phones, and joining the other to its hotspot. Between this and using local wifi (turn on “wifi calls” on your phone), they might get away with just one global roaming package.
+ I also have Travel SIM in my spare phone. This gives a different phone number, of course, for the time you are using it. The SIM card costs $15 – then you can top up in $10, $25, $50 or $100. For Europe, the biggest plan is $87 and is valid for 14 days, giving 120 mins of calls, 50 SMS and 10GB. travelsim.com
+ You can wait until you are there and buy a SIM card and set it up. This gives you an idea of the prices: simsdirect.com.au/collections/uk-sim-card
Seeing the light
My Cruises has added in $3000 in bonus value to its Breathtaking Northern Lights and Norway Coastal Express trip. There are hotel stays in Oslo and Bergen before embarking on the 11-night classic Norway Coastal Voyage, aiming to see the northern lights on a Hurtigruten expedition cruise ship. The package costs from $5990 per person, but is valued at $7490 each. It has to be booked by April 30, 2023, to sail sometime between October 10, 2023, and February 11, 2023. 1300 692 784
Our Travel Club Tour sailing from Norway to the Faroe Islands and on to Iceland in July is sold out. The Africa tour I have already mentioned sold out very quickly. Our New Norcia readers and writers retreat weekend is also sold out, too. All our events and tours are at westtravelclub.com.au and I mention that because if you sign up there for our free eTravel Digital Edition, which is sent to inboxes on Wednesdays, you get to hear about them first. We just ask for your first name, second name and email address (and don’t use that for any other purpose, obviously).