Taking time to explore more, Travel Editor Stephen Scourfield surveys another week in travel
Things have changed. We have changed. Across the travel industry, there is talk of travellers wanting a more considered pace, more depth, more traction. And one of the world’s oldest touring companies, Collette, has responded by slowing down its small group explorations. A spokesperson says that enhances the experience on tour: “There is more time in the destination, less time travelling to get there and more time to discover the joys of a city or site.” And this change of pace is more than just moving between hotels less frequently, but about how a destination should and can be discovered.
City tours now incorporate fascinating farm tours.
“Getting there” is no longer about the coach with a focus on other forms of transportation, from dog sleds, trains, tuk tuks, public transport and more.
David Farrar, head of sales at Collette, says: “Varying transportation means is a great way to enhance our guests’ experience. Feedback on this has been excellent as has customer feedback on spending more time in destination.”
One good example is Collette’s tour called Wilderness of Southern Africa: Safari by Land and Water. It combines transportation styles to get up close to wildlife on land and water on Lake Kariba.
Collette will have a presentation room at our Festival of Travel on August 19. Join them to hear all they do. And one person who comes to the festival will win a $15,000 travel voucher from our friends at Collette. There’s more on the festival here.
We have changed in what we think is now reasonable when it comes to bookings, changes and cancellation, too. What we’d accept in 2019 is not what we expect now.
And here’s an interesting response, also from David at Collette: “We offer a full refund minus the deposit for cancellations for any reason up to 24 hours prior to departure. Furthermore, there is a 24/7 emergency support line, leading tour manager assistance as well as the opportunity to purchase travel insurance in Australia.”
Collette is on 1300 792 195 and gocollette.com.au
USA & CANADA
Scenic, which is also coming to our Festival of Travel, has just released its 2024 Natural Wonders of Canada, Alaska and USA brochure. There are 15 handcrafted land tours and they include a range of new Scenic Freechoice excursions. It includes new full-day culinary tours focused on Alberta’s food story (including a farm to fork lunch) and meeting local producers in the Okanagan Valley. There are encounters with Canada’s Indigenous cultures.
There is a huge amount of choice in the brochure (it’d be good to come and talk through it with the Scenic team at the festival).
But here are a couple of “my picks”:
The 15-day Eastern Canada and USA Explorer, which visits Quebec City and Washington DC, New York and Niagara Falls from $12,745 per person twin share, including super earlybird savings of up to $1250 per person.
The 15-day Majestic Rockies and Alaskan Cruise, which visits Calgary, Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, and has lots of Scenic Enrich experiences, designed to inspire and educate guests on the local culture and traditions of the land. Then there’s a cruise of Alaska’s fjords on Holland America’s MS Koningsdam. It is from $11,495 per person twin share, including super earlybird savings of up to $1250 per person.
The brochure also has Scenic Eclipse luxury expedition voyages along the coastline of North America, the Canadian High Arctic, and the west coast of the US (join us at the festival to find out more).
EGYPT & JORDAN
I’m always on the lookout for good packages, and this week I spotted a high-value Egypt and Jordan 2024 tour from Luxury Escapes. The 16-day tour includes a visit to Petra, a swim in the Dead Sea, a cruise on the River Nile, staying at Wadi Rum Desert Camp and internal flights from $7499 per person twin share.
DINING IN PARIS
A reader noticed that I recently wrote how I like to stay in St Germain, when in Paris. They have taken that advice, and are staying there on the way to a week of self-guided walking in Provence with Auswalk, who they’ve walked with in the Blue Mountains on the east coast.
But back to St Germain … Quite honestly, wherever you are staying, you will walk out of the door and find three or four places within an easy stroll that you come to love. I’m pretty sure of that. For what it’s worth, you’d even find me having a simple, very Parisienne breakfast at Paul’s bakery on the corner of rue de Buci and rue de Seine. But, for a real “Paris feel”, here’s my list: Epoca, Le Procope (opened in 1686 the oldest cafe-restaurant in Paris) and Quinsou. And Anthony Bourdain loved this one too: Le Comptoir at Carrefour de l’Odeon.
Reader Sara Ladyman is closer to home — and says she’s disappointed that Qantas has stopped its direct flights from Perth to Hobart. Sara says: “I was using the direct flight twice a year to visit my sons and the flights were always full.”
She adds: “I prefer to fly Qantas but today was the last straw for me. I was all ready to fly at 1pm to Hobart via Melbourne only to wake up to find my flight has been cancelled. The only way I can get there by tomorrow night is to fly on the ‘red eye’ at 11.45pm, with a five-hour wait in Melbourne airport to connect to Hobart!”
BIG TECH SPEND
Things continue to change rapidly when it comes to technology and communications. So much so, in fact, that senior executives of big luxury hotel chains are expecting to have to dramatically increase the spending on both over the next three years. New global research commissioned by world-leading communication technology company Communications Specialist reveals that between now and 2026, 54 per cent expect that spending to increase by between 20 per cent and 50 per cent. And 16 per cent of them expect it will be higher than this. Six out of 10 of them predicted expenditure on “tech and comms” to increase more than 30 per cent between now and 2026.