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since 10/11/2003


Air Canada - ACA 08/10/2006

A few misses, mainly hits with Air Canada

Air Canada - ACA Air Canada On my recent trip to Toronto from Manchester (sse my review of the Hilton Toronto!), I decided to fly using the direct service form Manchester to Toronto. This direct route operates daily departing Manchester at 11.35 and arriving mid-afternoon. It departs Toronto for the return flight at 10pm arriving back in Manchester mid-morning. During the summer (and peak tourist) months, the airline adjusts its two class system from Business and Economy and Premium Economy and Economy. With basic economy flights starting at around £350.00 & taxes, we opted for the premium economy flights at a price of £500.00 & taxes (approx £612.00 per person flying). Booking: I booked using the Air Canada website. As I like to know what I am getting myself into I had done quite a lot of research before hand about Air Canada including the types of planes used and the different classes of service. Having looked around I found the best prices offered on the AC flights were available by booking directly on their website. As with most airlines nowadays, you can check prices and availability and then confirm your seats, adding log in information etc. as you proceed through the various stages online. Booking was simple, fast and efficient and allowed you the opportunity of choosing your seats at no extra fee when booking premium economy (you can also book seats FOC when travelling economy but if you wish to save money AC will allocate seating for you and reduce the price of your ...

Hilton Toronto, Toronto 03/10/2006

The HIlton Toronto

Hilton Toronto, Toronto Hilton Toronto Having recently returned from a great stay at the Hilton and Toronto thought that it was about time that I attempted to put pen to paper again on Ciao as been absent for quite a while! I opted for this hotel because I found a great deal of around £500 for 2 people for 7 nights at the beginning of September 2006. The room: The room was located on the 16th floor as was spacious with two comfortable double beds and nice, fresh linen. In addition there was a wardrobe that whilst note huge was provided adequate storage as well as the ever useful iron and ironing board. A large TV provided ample international TV and good 'pay per' movies; the usual Hollywood Blockbuster stuff. There was a well stocked mini bar at reasonable prices and a nice coffee machine with a good range of complimentary hot drinks. The room also featured a large working desk, desk chair and comfortable chair. Ice machines are located on each floor and room service is offered24 hours a day. The bathroom was an okay size with good shower, marble walls and hairdryer. The views from the hotel were also lovely over the city and we had a great view towards the CN Tower. My main complaint about the hotel and room was the fact that it wasn't very well kept. Although the room was not dirty it was a little scruffy around the edges, bit of paint work etc and not well dusted each day etc. The style of the room was modern, light and airy and it was well sized but not up to other Hilton ...

Four Seasons, Miami 30/04/2006

The stunning Four Seaons Miami

Four Seasons, Miami I visited the Four Seasons in Miami in March 2006 after a somewhat frantic and frenetic trip to the theme parks in Orlando and was looking for a place to rest and relax and to be pampered as well as some nice places to explore and eat out. The 70 storey Four Seasons is located I the downtown financial district of Miami at Brickell Avenue and is home to not only the Four Seasons Hotel but also the HSBC bank headquarters and Four Seasons Residences; yes you can actually live in the Four Seasons Hotel for ever! Arrival and check-in. From the moment we arrived at the Four Seasons the service was implacable. The bell man who took our luggage even greeted myself and my companion by name having presumably sneaked a quick look at our luggage tags! We were greeted inside the door by a pleasant lady who took us to the seventh floor to check in (yes reception is the on seventh floor!) The lobby is large, light and airy and it's on this level that you find the hotel bar, pool and restaurant as well as a small shop. The ambiance of this hotel definitely seems to be one of understated and modern elegance with modern yet tasteful and expensive looking furnishings juxtaposed against high ceilings and more classic art work. The attention to detail is great and the place is so, so clean and immaculate (and believe me I am such a clean freak that I really notice these things!) Check-in was remarkably fast and efficient with every detail of our reservation being correct. With 10 minutes ...

Disneyland Paris 25/11/2005

Disneyland Paris fun for all the family

Disneyland Paris Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 and was the first Disney Park in Europe. I was lucky enough to visit the park in 1992 and have returned several times since. Since you could write a whole book about Disneyland Paris I have just picked out some of my favourite bits and top tips from over the years that I have been there. The Disneyland resort hotel is divided into two theme parks (the Disneyland Park/Magic Kingdom and the New Disney Studios, which opened last year). The resort features six hotels: The Disneyland Paris Hotel, Hotel New York, Newport Bay Club, Sequoia Lodge, Hotel Cheyenne, and Hotel Santa Fe and the Camp Davey Crockett Campsite. The hotels cater to a range of budgets, from the Santa Fe (from £105 per adult for three nights, including park pass, accommodation, and breakfast) up to the Disneyland Paris Hotel (from £219 per adult for three nights, including park pass, accommodation, and breakfast). The closest hotel to the parks is the Disneyland Paris (located OVER the Magic Kingdom). The other hotels are between a 5- and 10-minute walk away, and all hotels operate a bus service from your hotel to the theme parks. NB, if staying at Camp Davey Crockett, you MUST have a car, as no Disney transport is provided and it's a good 10-minute drive away! When staying at Disneyland Paris, I have stayed at the Newport Bay Club, Hotel New York, Disneyland Paris Hotel, and the Sequoia Lodge. All the Disney hotels are excellent, and rooms are of a very high ...

The White Hart, Manchester 24/11/2005

The wonderful White Hart

The White Hart, Manchester The White Hart, Lydgate, Manchester Going back many many moons (well okay approximately 10 years) the White Hart Inn in Lydgate was your bog standard, not very nice run of the mill typical English pub. It was then purchased by two nice gentlemen; one an extraordinarily talented chef and the other a wonderful business man and hey presto 10 years later you have one of the most thriving 'gastro pubs' in the country that people travel for miles around to come and eat at and has won award upon award. This is a wonderful place to drink and eat where the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the food is excellent and the surroundings spectacular. Where is it? The White Hart Inn is located in Lydgate Saddleworth and is approximately 15 miles from city centre Manchester and is only about 10 minutes drive from the M62 and is not far from the Saddleworth Moors (hopefully that will help you to place to for those not from this neck of the woods!) What's there now? Well from the outside the White Hart still has the look of a typical British pub complete with benches outside for the some summer sunshine that we do occasionally enjoy! Entering through the main door at the front is the pub with two small rooms located on the right hand side. The pub is like most British pubs but does have a very good wine list as well as an extensive range of changing guest beers that will keep most people trying different things for hours! Celebrating the past of the local area the seating is ...

Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Orlando 23/11/2005

Welcome to the WIld Side!

Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Orlando ~~~WILDERNESS LODGE~~~ Sadly for me I am starting to run out of hotels that I have stayed in at Walt Disney World (WDW) in Florida to review for Ciao, but I have saved one of the best until last! The Wilderness Lodge is one of my favourite hotels at Disney as it is one of the smaller resorts making it feel more intimate and cosy and it is also far easy to navigate around without getting lost or losing your kids! What's it like? If you have ever been to Disneyland Resort Paris then this Hotel is comparable to the Sequoia Lodge except that it is much much much better than the Sequoia Lodge (are you getting the idea yet that I quite like this hotel??!!) The Hotel is themed around the great National Parks of the good old US of A with a stunning 8 story high lobby complete with original (at least they look original but who where fantasy starts and reality ends with Disney!) totem poles as well as open fires, huge comfy wooden chairs and recliners and a well-themed staff. Outside you can walk around lush green gardens that appear like forest with great big towering trees whilst only being a few short minutes away by bus to your favourite theme parks! This hotel is located I the magic Kingdom resort area but as it was only built a few short years ago it is not connected to the Monorail transportation system like the Grand Floridian, Contemporary and Polynesian resorts. Never fear however as the Disney bus transportation system is excellent at this hotel and you ...

American Airlines Advantage 22/11/2005

Up and away with American Airlines Advantage!

American Airlines Advantage American Airlines Advantage American Airlines Advantage is AA's frequent flyer collection scheme and I have to say that it is one of the best frequent flyer schemes that I have found in recent years; the only problem being that as I live and fly mainly out of Manchester in the UK the flights from this airport are limited to flights to Boston and Chicago. How to register? Registration and monitoring of your account can all be done via the American Airlines UK website. This is a very quick registration process involving the usual name and address details. You are then sent a user name and password and away you go! When you register you will receive 1,000 miles as a bonus and you can also gain additional miles for signing up for email alerts etc. making it quite satisfying to see you balance flying up quite quickly! The site is easy to use and navigate and has a range of features that allows you to manage your Advantage account and any bookings that you may have made with the Airline. Online tools include: Receiving up-to-date offers in terms of collecting miles and also spending them. Chasing any miles that may be missing from your account Redeeming miles Frequently Asked Questions How many miles to…? To be honest we could be here all day if I started detailing the mileage needed to fly here there and everywhere! Generally, you can fly with the US for approx 20,000 AA miles and to fly internationally from the UK to the USA is about 40,000 for ...

Disney's Polynesian Resort, Orlando 21/11/2005

Say Aloha at Disney's Polynesian Resort!

Disney's Polynesian Resort, Orlando Disney's Polynesian Resort Welcome to Disney's version of Waikiki and aloha! Disney's Polynesian Resort is one of the few original resorts that has been present in the world (of the Walt Disney Variety) since it first opened in 1970s. Tropical palm tress, grass skirts and a few pineapple juices welcome you to the wonderfully tropical world of the Polynesian resort hotel! Aloha! The rooms are arranged in blocks and one little known fact is that the rooms were all assembled and completed off site and then literally 'slotted' into the frames that were built in their current locations! The reception area is fantastic in this hotel with lush exotic plants and flowers everywhere as well as a running water fountain. The reception staff are quick and efficient but with a laid back Hawaiian style! Where I the world are we? Located in the Magic Kingdom resort area this hotel is connected by Monorail to the Magic Kingdom and is only 2 stops away making it very quick to se Mickey and his pals in the morning! You are also connected via the monorail to the other resorts in this area including the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and the Contemporary resort meaning that evening can easily be spend dining and exploring other hotels. The return journey from the Magic Kingdom is only three stops. Alternatively you can catch a boat ride from the hotel and travel to the Magic Kingdom. This is great and very relaxing if you are travelling outside peak times (i.e. park opening ad ...

Disney's Yacht Club Resort, Orlando 20/11/2005

All aboard for DIsney's Yacht Club!

Disney's Yacht Club Resort, Orlando DISNEY'S YACHT CLUB The Yacht Club at Walt Disney World has to be my favourite hotel in all of the world (Disney World that it!) and as many Ciao-ers will know I have stayed in and reviewed a LOT of Disney Hotels! I love this hotel because the service is impeccable down to the staff who open and close the doors for you when you enter and exit the hotel. The staff are also dressed in a clean nautical theme and lobby is expertly themed with low ceilings, benches and port holes! Check-in is always fast and efficient and the concierge is knowledgeable and able to secure most dining and other activities that guests require. The communal areas are all beautiful with lots of great touches: kids love the large globe in the lobby and even the individual towels I the public rest rooms are a rare luxury in this day and age! The shop is spacious and stocks the usual range of Disney merchandise as well as everyday essentials and more usual nautically themed gifts; great souvenirs! The Yacht Club is another deluxe resort and like the Boardwalk Villas is to be found between the theme parks EPCOT and MGM Studios meaning that you have the choice (and luxury!) of walking into the EPCOT via the International Getaway and finding yourself at between the UK and France or catching a boat for a very short walk to MGM Studios. Access to other theme parks (Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom) as well as other attractions is via Disney bus! The rooms: The rooms are all decorated in a ...

Andel's Hotel, Prague 19/11/2005

Andel's Prague: brand new and shiny!

Andel's Hotel, Prague About the hotel: We stayed at the Andels Design Hotel, which is located just outside of the main city centre in an area called Andels, Prague 5. The hotel opened last year and consists of both regular hotel accommodations and apartments making it a good choice for both short and long stays. The hotel room rate is around 150€ per night (£100), but if you shop around on the Internet, there are some good buys around, although I would avoid, as they didn't forward our booking to the hotel so we had no room or booking when we first got to the hotel despite have booked a room six months, although Andels was VERY helpful in sorting this out and we soon had a very nice room!! Check-I was therefore a bit traumatic but the reception staff are very polite, helpful and efficient and speak excellent English. Because of our additional stress we were also upgraded to the executive floor free of charge. The rooms: The rooms all feature either one king-size or two double beds and are medium in size, and they are decorated in a modern fashion with beige carpets and white furniture. Rooms have an in-room safe, mini-bar and fridge, air conditioning, and international TV. We had a room on the fifth floor, the executive floor, which meant that we had tea and coffee making facilities and robes and towels. The room also featured a good working desk and comfy chair. The bathroom was beautifully appointed with a large bath and separate shower cubicle, and the shower ...

Block House, Hamburg 19/11/2005

Block House; best steaks in Germany!

Block House, Hamburg ~~BLOCK HOUSE~~~ Blockhouse is a chain of German steak houses with over 30 restaurants throughout Germany. Founded in Hamburg in the 1970s there are 12 restaurants in the city with the main city centre locations being close to the Hauptabanhof and the Gansemarktpassage. The restaurants offer great value for money on great, home cooked food that is always exceptionally fresh, hot and well served. The turn over is very fast with friendly and efficient staff and it is a great place to eat relatively healthy good value food throughout Germany (it does help if you like steak though!). The restaurant is open from 11am until 12 midnight, serving the same menu throughout. But with appropriate items for the time of the day such as lunchtime specials including sandwiches etc. The food is mainly Aberdeen Angus steak served with baked potato with sour cream as well as garlic bread and an inclusive salad to start. The range of steak is wide and includes all your favourites such as filet, ribeye, etc. There's also a good range of light fare, including salads, fish courses, and burgers. They also offer a good range of business lunches, and the best thing is that you just want to eat a baked potato with garlic bread or a small salad then you can do without the pressure of ordering a full meal. Lots of people do just order snack food that cost less than 5Euros for a soft drink, potato and salad. The average price of a steak meal (filet) is around 18Euros (£12) which includes ...

Marriott Hamburg Treudelberg, Hamburg 17/11/2005


Marriott Hamburg Treudelberg, Hamburg ~~~HAMBURG MARRIOTT HOTEL~~~ As well as having stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in Hamburg several times, I have also stayed at the Renaissance sister hotel, the Marriott, located on ABC Strasse in the exclusive shopping and dining part of the city of Hamburg. The hotel is well located and transfer time from the airport (Hamburg) is under 20 minutes or so with taxi fares also being under 20Euros (£13-£15). Just outside o f the hotel you will find a glittering array of upmarket shops and small boutiques and the hotel is located in a very quiet area and all of the rooms are exceptionally quiet. Arriving at the hotel: As you enter the hotel, the lobby is sumptuous and well-kept, and there are always plenty of bellhops to help with your bags. Check-in is always smooth and painless, and there is a good selection of local interest attraction leaflets and maps at the concierge station. Check-in is from 3pm, and check-out is by 12pm (I have often arrived early and asked to check out late, and the hotel has always been very accommodating where possible). The hotel rooms: The hotel rooms are large and spacious and have recently been upgraded to the Marriott promise of the 'hotel room that works' indicating that the hotel rooms are designed to meet both the needs of the business and leisure traveller. All rooms feature two double or one king sized bed, comfortable resting chair and occasional table as well as work desk which includes light and internet access (payable ...

Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter, Orlando 17/11/2005

Port Orleans: Mardi Gras magic Disney style

Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter, Orlando The Port Orleans French Quarter is classed as one of Walt Disney World's Moderate and up to a few years ago was actually two Disney resorts: Port Orleans and Dixie Landings. The good folks at Disney then decided that it would be cheaper to make one huge resort and now you have the French Quarter (formerly Port Orleans) and Riverside (formerly Dixie Landings). Confused? You should be as no one who has ever stayed at either of these resorts quite understands why Disney took this decision; maybe there was too much pixie dust flying around that day! The hotel is located in the Downtown Disney area and a great treat at this hotel is that a boat service down the river direct to the Market place which is lovely and peaceful but if you go in winter make sure to wrap up warmly as it gets mighty cold on the water even though this is Florida! About the resort: Port Orleans French Quarter opened in 1992 and was one of the smaller moderate resorts with around a 1000 rooms. Based loosely on a Mardi gras/New Orleans theme the resort consists of seven buildings that each contain three floors with hotel rooms. All of the rooms have exterior doors (i.e. like a motel) but Disney security is so good that safety is never really an issue. The resort is very pleasant set in acres of green manicured gardens which include a croquet lawn as well as 1.6 kilometres of pathways which are tranquil to walk or cycle around. Guest rooms: There are two types of guest rooms offered at this hotel; ...

Renaissance Hamburg Hotel, Hamburg 16/11/2005

Relax at the Renaissance Hamburg Hotel

Renaissance Hamburg Hotel, Hamburg The Renaissance Hamburg Hotel is part of the worldwide Marriott chain and offers the excellent accommodations that you would expect from Marriott but with the flair that you would normally expect from the Renaissance team. As with other properties in this brand hotels are branded by Renaissance but owned and managed locally adding real local colour to the hotel. Booking: Book via the Marriott website, and they guarantee that you will get their cheapest rates (the best rate is usually from 110 euros (approx £60.00) per night) for a twin/double room. Many rates are available and most options come with or without breakfast. There are single rooms and double rooms (i.e. 1 king bed or two doubles) that would accommodate 2 or 4 respectively. In addition, the corner Junior Suites offer additional space and more often than not a three piece suite. Booking early is the best way of guaranteeing the cheapest rooms rates. There are also frequently weekend packages that offer great deals including trips including shows and/or meal packages. All prices quoted are per room and not per person. Location: The hotel is very well located in a quiet area of the city and is attached to the internationally renowned shopping arcade Hanse Viertel. Transfer time is 20 minutes from the airport with a taxi transfer costing approximately 20 Euros. The hotel is on the historic Grosse Blecihen and is actually attached to the most famous shopping arcade the Hanseviertel meaning that you ...

Disney's Boardwalk Inn, Orlando 16/11/2005

Step back in time at Disney's Boardwalk

Disney's Boardwalk Inn, Orlando Disney's Boardwalk Inn Disney's Boardwalk Inn is one of the select Disney Deluxe resorts and is located in the EPCOT/MGM area of the 43 square miles of Florida swamp land AKA Walt Disney World. The Boardwalk recreates a turn of the century American Boardwalk with dining entertainment and restaurants amid carnival sights; more than just a hotel this is an entertainment extravaganza! As well as having hotel rooms at the Boardwalk Inn the Boardwalk Villas is a Disney vacation property although the two areas as separated within the hotel complex. Services and amenities: The hotel offers a high level of services including room service, self service laundry facilities (very handy when staying here for two or more weeks), wireless internet access as well as self and valet parking (valet is for a small fee). The rooms: All of the rooms are decorated in a 1930s beach style and there are there levels of room as with other Disney properties. All of the basic room features are the same, but the levels depends on whether you have a standard (i.e. car park or equivalent view), garden or water view. Unless you intend spending much time in your hotel room then I would opt for a standard room, just ask for one that is close to reception so that you will no be walking a long way to and from your room. All rooms accommodate up to five person on either two double beds plus day bed or one king bed and one day bed. There are also deluxe rooms that are simply large and six ...
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