Celtic Manor, Wales opens luxury Hunter Lodges

The Celtic Manor Resort in South Wales has opened the first three of its spectacular new Hunter Lodges to guests.

The luxury lodges provide the best of both worlds – a private home-from-home in the peace and tranquility of the South Wales countryside, yet with Celtic Manor’s five-star amenities and activities on their very doorstep.

The Hunter Lodges command a stunning location within the resort’s 2,000-acre estate, enjoying glorious views of the Twenty Ten Ryder Cup golf course and the beautiful Usk Valley beyond.

Sleeping up to eight people, the large, Scandinavian-style, log lodges all have four double or twin bedrooms, spacious dining and living areas, and fitted kitchens. For that extra touch of luxury, they also boast outdoor hot tubs and indoor saunas. All lodges are fully furnished including fluffy towels and crisp bed linen, and guests receive a complimentary welcome pack on arrival. They are also fully equipped for self-catering but guests will be able to use the restaurants at the Celtic Manor Resort or order a gourmet-to-go hamper or takeaway favourite, delivered direct to their Hunter Lodge door. If you want to hunt fun and adventure, peace and tranquillity, prices start from as little as £48 per person, per night.


With the first three lodges already hosting three, four or seven-night stays from paying guests, four more will become available for the Easter holidays and all 10 of the first phase will be open by mid-May. The Hunter Lodges are the first phase in a potential development of 60 luxury lodges here at Celtic Manor.

Aimed primarily at the family and leisure market which is filling Celtic Manor’s 400-bedroom hotel on weekends and during school holidays, the lodges are also designed to appeal to golf groups playing Celtic Manor’s three championship courses, friends on spa breaks, and corporate incentive trips.

About The Celtic Manor Resort:

Host venue for The Ryder Cup in 2010, the five-star Celtic Manor Resort is set in more than 2,000 acres of panoramic parkland at the gateway to Wales. With two hotels – a 330-room luxury Resort Hotel and an historic 19th century Manor House with 70 rooms – two exceptional spas, two state-of-the-art health clubs, a shooting school, fishing, adventure golf, treetop high ropes course, tennis courts, mountain biking and walking trails, The Celtic Manor Resort provides a complete experience for business, leisure and golf travellers. A choice of six restaurants includes the fine-dining Terry M and the Newbridge on Usk, a separate country inn with six bedrooms. The Resort was recently voted the UK’s Best Hotel at the 2014 Meetings and Incentive Travel Awards and was named UK Sport Venue of the Year and Europe’s Golf Resort of the Year for 2011. The Resort is the home of the ISPS Handa Wales Open, one of the premier events on The European Tour, and offers the challenge of three 18-hole championship golf courses, including the Twenty Ten course, the first course in history to be designed and built specifically to host The Ryder Cup.

For more information visit http://www.celtic-manor.com/hunterlodges or call Reservations on 01633 410262.

– Bienu Verma Vaghela

Celebrating Malaysia…The Show Must Go On!

“India has always been an important market for us. In 2013, a total of 650,989 Indian travellers visited Malaysia, maintaining its position as the sixth top tourist generating market to the country. And this year we are expecting close 7, 80000 to 8 lakh tourists from here, said Tourism Malaysia’s Director General Yg Bhg Dato Mirza Mohammed Taiyab addressing the media on March 18 in Mumbai.  


Malaysia is celebrating its fourth Visit Malaysia Year (VMY 2014) with the themes “Celebrating Malaysia Truly Asia” to reflect the diversity in unity of all Malaysians. With the Proboscis Monkey as the mascot for VMY 2014, this will be the biggest and the grandest tourism celebration with hundreds of events and festivals all lined up to welcome the world. As part of its efforts to raise awareness on the celebration of Visit Malaysia Year (VMY) 2014 globally, Tourism Malaysia embarked on a Sales Mission from 12 March until 20th March in India. In the series Tourism Malaysia hosted road show in Mumbai at Trident on March 18 amidst much fan fare.  

 Yg Bhg Dato Mirza Mohammed Taiyab led the delegation to Mumbai.  He was accompanied by Dato Azizan Noordin, Dy. Director General, Mr Manoharan, Director, Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board and other officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.  While the primary objective of the sales mission is to strengthen Malaysia’s standing as a dream travel destination and increase tourist arrivals from India, Yg Bhg Dato Mirza Mohammed Taiyab is also looking forward to driving strong support from both the Indian media, travel trade and airlines fraternity for the ongoing Visit Malaysia year 2014.


Sharing the concern about the missing Malaysian Airlines plane (still untraceable) Dato Mirza said, “Let me on behalf of my delegation express concern on the still untraceable Malaysian Airlines plane, we pray for the safety of all the passengers on board.”

He added, “Besides famous attractions in Kuala Lumpur, we have a plethora of offerings planned to welcome our Indian guests. From being the world’s favourite shopping destination and to having the world’s best beaches, from the most relaxing spa vacations to golfing holidays, from weddings and honeymoon locales and helicopter tours: tourists can be assured of perfect custom made holiday.” 

Speaking to travelknots, Dato Mirza said, “Kids can also have a fabulous time in Malaysia with theme parks in almost every part of the country. Some of the latest include Asia’s first Lego land theme park, the puteriharbour Family Theme Park and KidZania. You can have fun at the first Legoland Water Park in Asia, which is also largest in the world.”

Discussing the trend of Women travelling solo to foreign locales from India, and their safety being a concern, Dato Mirza said women have big role to play in Malaysia, both in Administration and Government. Malaysia pays lot of attention to the security of women and it is considered most safe for women. Moreover, English is our second is language and Malaysian women are very friendly with English Language, which is a big plus.”


Bollywood Celebrity Isha Gupta graced the occasion. 

Elaborating on Visit Malaysia Year 2014, Dato Mirza said, “ We are here to tell our Indian fellows, media friends that we have nearly 200 events lined up, right from cultural, sports event, religious events, special interest events to music concerts. Shahrukh Khan was in Malaysia recently and it created so much buzz as there is lot of interest in artists from here.  There are more offerings in terms of flights, which offer better connectivity to Malaysia.  We are taking Visit Malaysia to all parts of the world.  Let me tell you that Kuala Lumpur has been rated as 4th Best Shopping City in the World by CNN Survey in 2012 and 2nd Best Shopping Destination in Asia pacific by Globe Shopper Index 2012.


This year if there is a place to be, it’s Malaysia. More than 200 events await tourists in Malaysia

For instance, thousands of international auto racing fans will flock of Malaysia end of this month for the 15th F1 Petronas Malaysia grand Prix. Other events that will interest sports fans include the Malaysian Motorcycle Prix, Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, and CIMB Golfing Challenge.

For those who like culture, there is Colours of Malaysia and Borneo Cultural Festival. Foodies should come for the three month Fabulous Food Malaysia. For Music Lovers Malaysia has the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak. Sunset Music Festival in Sabah, and Penang World Music Festival, just to name a few.


The annual Malaysia Mega Sale is also a much anticipated event. Shopping is a must in Kuala Lumpur. After all, it was ranked by CNN as the fourth Best Shopping City in the world. And the delight of thousands of designer shoes at the Malaysia International Shoe festival.


During the sales missions in Mumbai, Tourism Malaysia also organised a travel mart for the travel trade players to meet and network. This is a platform to showcase Malaysia’s diverse tourism offerings and highlight the scope for collaboration between travel agents in Malaysia and India.


Malaysia’s tourism sector continued to be a significant contributor to the country’s economy in 2103. Tourist receipts were RM 65.44 billion, an 8.1% increase from the RM 60.56 billion in 2012. Tourist arrivals grew by 2.7% to 25.7 million in 2012. VMY 2014 is expected to see around 28 million tourists visiting the country and generating receipts up to RM 76 billion.

–         Bienu Verma Vaghela, Editor, Travelknots

Hands-on Adventure & Much More In Tampa Bay, Florida

In Tampa, Fla. we know the key to life is adventure. So whether you seek your thrills by land, air or sea, you have been covered in the list below.  Here you can discover your daring while you Unlock Tampa Bay.

•       Make toys and treats, watch a training session, learn the history and interact with a variety of wild cats at Big Cat Rescue during an exclusive, two-hour behind-the-scenes tour.

•       At Busch Gardens® Tampa go behind-the-scenes at the Animal Care Center with the Wildlife Docs or into the Heart of Africa on a 90-minute walking tour to get up-close with hippos, cheetahs, lions and more. You can also become a Keeper for a Day and work side-by-side with the zookeepers or learn the ins-and-outs of Bengal tigers and Bornean orangutans as a Jungala® Insider. And, for some amazing photo opportunities and sights, jump aboard the 30-minute open-truck Serengeti Safari tour for a unique look at the Serengeti Plain®.

Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens
Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens
Cheetah Hunt viewing at Busch Gardens
Cheetah Hunt viewing at Busch Gardens
Animal interactions at Tampas Lowry park zoo
Animal interactions at Tampas Lowry park zoo
MOSI-Museum of Science
MOSI-Museum of Science
Tampa Museum of Art
Tampa Museum of Art
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium Bay
The Florida Aquarium Bay

     •       One of The Florida Aquarium’s newest exhibits – Stingray Beach – allows guests to touch a variety of different species of stingrays and sharks, including White Spotted Bamboo Sharks, Coral Catsharks, Southern Rays and Blue Spotted Ray, just to name a few. You’re sure to have your hands full— of slimy creatures, that is – at the No Bone Zone, which is full of colorful, touchable animals such as sea stars, sea urchins and much more. You’re also invited to touch horseshoe crabs, whelk, urchins and snails at the Horseshoe Crab Lagoon.

•       For serious or casual golfers alike, the all-new Golf’s Grail Indoor Golf & Tap allows you to play more than 60 courses from around the world on indoor, state-of-the-art golf simulators. Whether playing a round or taking a lesson, guests can also enjoy the sports bar-like atmosphere with hi-definition TVs playing sporting events, craft beers on tap and fine wine selections.

•       Rise & Shine Yoga, kid’s art classes, pottery making, sing-a-longs for tots and more are all available in Hyde Park Village – an upscale shopping district in the historic Hyde Park neighbourhood.

•       The Discovery Channel’s Emmy®-nominated series comes to life to uncover truths behind popular myths by mixing scientific method with gleeful curiosity and old-fashioned ingenuity in MythBusters: The Explosive Exhibition, at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI). The exhibition creates hands-on, interactive experiences for guests of all ages through May 8.

•       A new laser tag game starts every 20 minutes at Q-ZAR Laser Tag with a two-level arena, video arcade area, food court and more.

•       Get up to 50 MPH on an electric ProKart at Tampa Bay Grand Prix. The indoor go kart racing facility offers two different tracks for a real racing experience for adults and children.

•       Hotel guests will enjoy the ultimate rock and roll experience with the recently launched Sound of Your Stay™ Picks Program at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Upon check-in, guests check-out a free guitar and have the choice of 18 Fender models including the legendary Stratocasters, classic Telecasters, Kurt Cobain Signature Model Jaguars, bass guitars and more. Guests also get a Boss Micro BR Amp and a pair of SOUL by Ludacris headphones to ensure maximum rock with minimum noise for other hotel guests, in addition to a “Set List,” with recommended websites and apps.

•       Feed a giraffe, hold a lorikeet, touch a stingray, ride a pony, get up-close with a white rhino and more. At Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo – recognized as the #1 Zoo in the U.S. by two national parenting magazines, featuring more than 1,000 amazing animals on nearly 60 acres of natural habitats.

•       Drop in every Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for Art Spot at the Tampa Museum of Art with free art activities for families.

•       Take the wheel and become the captain of your very own speed boat with a one-of-a-kind adventure tour at Tampa Speed Boat Adventures in nearby St. Petersburg.

For planning your trip, write to: Jasmine Roy @jroy@aviareps.com

 – By Bienu Verma Vaghela for travelknots

Missing Links of Malaysian Airlines crash

We are still waiting for the answers on how and why the tragedy occurred. I thought of sharing this news with my blog readers as it is a matter of international concerned which has saddened the people all over the world. Our heart goes out to travellers on board of this fated aircraft. 

There were few answers Sunday about the fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a day after contact was lost with the commercial jetliner en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. An aerial search resumed at first light, with aircraft searching an area of the South China Sea for any sign of where the flight may have gone down, Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, the director general of civil aviation in Malaysia, told reporters “We have not been able to locate anything, see anything,” Rahman said. “There’s nothing new to report.”

The closest things to clues in the search for the missing jetliner are oil slicks in the Gulf of Thailand, about 90 miles south of Vietnam’s Tho Chu Island — the same area where the flight disappeared from radar early Saturday morning. A Vietnamese reconnaissance plane, part of a massive, multinational search effort, spotted the oil slicks that stretch between six and nine miles, the Vietnam government’s official news agency reported. Malaysian authorities have not yet confirmed the Vietnamese report, Rahman said. The reported oil discovery has only added to a growing list of questions about the fate of the plane carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members: What happened to the plane, why was no distress signal issued, and who exactly was aboard?

Passenger manifest questioned

Bits and pieces of information have begun to form, but it remains unclear how they fit into the bigger picture, if at all. For instance, after the airline released a manifest, Austria denied that one of its citizens was aboard the flight. The Austrian citizen was safe and sound, and his passport had been stolen two years ago, Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Weiss said.

Similarly, Italy’s foreign ministry confirmed none of its citizens were on Flight 370, even though an Italian was listed on the manifest. On Saturday, Italian police visited the home of the parents of Luigi Maraldi, the man whose name appeared on the manifest, to inform them about the missing flight, said a police official in Cesena, in northern Italy.

Maraldi’s father, Walter, told police he had just spoken to his son, who was fine and not on the missing flight, said the official, who is not authsorized to speak to the media. Maraldi was vacationing in Thailand, his father said.

The police official said Maraldi had reported his passport stolen in Malaysia last August and had obtained a new one. But U.S. law enforcement sources told CNN that both the Austrian and Italian passports were stolen in Thailand. “No nexus to terrorism yet,” a U.S. intelligence official said, “although that’s by no means definitive. We’re still tracking.” Malaysian authorities have been in contact with counterterrorism organizations about possible passport issues, Malaysia’s transportation minister Hishamuddin Hussein said. He did not state how many passport issues there are, saying authorities are looking at the whole manifest. The U.S. government has been briefed on the stolen passports and reviewed the names of the passengers in question but found nothing at this point to indicate foul play, said a U.S. law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Of the two passports in question, the Italian one had been reported stolen and was in Interpol’s database, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst Tom Fuentes said, citing sources at Interpol. Additionally, no inquiry was made by Malaysia Airlines to determine if any passengers on the flight were traveling on stolen passports, he said. Many airlines do not check the database, he said. During the news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Rahman declined to say whether the airline or Malaysian authorities had checked the database.

Malaysian authorities reiterated during a news conference that they are not ruling anything out regarding the missing aircraft. The Boeing 777-200ER departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41 a.m. Saturday in good weather, and it was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., a 2,300-mile (3,700-kilometer) trip. Air traffic controllers in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with the plane about 1:30 a.m., Rahman said. Earlier, the airline said the jetliner lost contact at 2:40 a.m. The pilots did not indicate to the tower there may be a problem, and no distress signal was issued, the airline said.

It may be days, possibly weeks or months, before authorities can offer any firm answers.

It took five days for authorities to locate the wreckage of Air France Flight 447 when it crashed June 1, 2009, in the Atlantic Ocean, killing all 228 on board. It took four searches over the course of nearly two years to locate the bulk of Flight 447’s wreckage and the majority of the bodies in a mountain range deep under the ocean. If Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went down in the Gulf of Thailand, the recovery may be a bit easier because it is a relatively shallow area of the South China Sea, according to marine officials. Hussein, who in addition to being Malaysia’s acting transportation minister is also its defense minister, said that the search area has been expanded because of the possibility the plane had turned back.

China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia were conducting search and rescue operations south of Tho Chu island in the South China Sea, according to the airline and reports from Xinhua, China’s official news agency. Ships, helicopters and airplanes are being utilized. The USS Pinckney, a destroyer conducting training in the South China Sea, is being routed to the southern Vietnamese coast to aid in the search, the U.S. Navy said. The United States is also sending a P-3C Orion surveillance plane from Japan to provide long-range search, radar and communications capabilities, the Navy said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Coast Guard has ordered on-duty vessels to aid in the search, Xinhua reported, citing government officials. China also sent a diving and salvage team to the area where the airplane is suspected to have gone down, the news agency reported.

Because of the Americans aboard the flight, the FBI has offered to send a team of agents to Malaysia to support the investigation into the disappearance if asked, a U.S. official familiar with the issue told CNN on condition of anonymity. Earlier, an official had said FBI agents were heading to the area. The FBI is not ruling out terrorism or any other issue as a possible cause in the jetliner’s disappearance, the official said. Officials appeared resigned to accepting the worst outcome. “I’d just like to say our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said during a news conference.

Grief, especially in China

The plane carried 227 passengers, including five children under 5 years old, and 12 crew members, the airline said. At the time of its disappearance, the Malaysia Airlines plane was carrying about 7.5 hours of fuel, an airline official said. Among the passengers there were 154 people from China or Taiwan; 38 Malaysians, and three U.S. citizens. Relatives of the Chinese citizens on board gathered Saturday at a hotel complex in the Lido district of Beijing as a large crowd of reporters gathered outside.

News courtesy: Kuala Lumpur Malaysia CNN

Tourism Malaysia Road Show in Mumbai on March 18, 2014

 March 18, the Malaysian delegation led by the Minister of Tourism and Culture, the Honorable Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz and other top officials from the Ministry of Tourism is in Mumbai. 

As part of the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY 2014) celebrations, Tourism Malaysia is  unveiling a host of new marketing initiatives during their annual sales mission in India from March 12 to 20, 2014 in the cities of Kochi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi.

Minister of Tourism and Culture, the Honorable Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Azi
Minister of Tourism and Culture, the Honorable Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz

While the primary objective of the Minister’s visit is to strengthen Malaysia’s standing as a dream travel destination and increase tourist arrivals from India, Dato Nazri is also looking forward to driving strong support from both the Indian travel trade fraternity and media for the ongoing Visit Malaysia Year 2014. Malaysia has launched its 4th VMY2014, with the aim of luring 28 million tourist arrivals and 76 billion RM (over 23 billion USD) in tourism revenue.

During his visit, the Tourism and Culture Minister is scheduled to meet and engage members of the media at a press conference to provide them with first-hand information and updates on Malaysia’s tourism industry.

Besides unveiling new marketing initiatives for the Indian market, the sales mission is also a platform for Malaysia’s tourism industry players to strengthen ties with their Indian counterparts. The mission will see top Malaysian Tourism Officials interact with key tour operators, associates from travel, service & hospitality sector in all cities to discuss and explore areas for collaboration to attract more Indian tourists to Malaysia.

Tourism Malaysia’s Indian Sales Mission is holding road show in Mumbai on March 18, 2014. 

 About Tourism Malaysia India

Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, popularly known as Tourism Malaysia, was established to promote Malaysia as a top-of-mind tourist destination showcasing Malaysia’s unique wonders, attractions and cultures; develop domestic tourism and enhance Malaysia’s share of the market for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE). Tourism Malaysia’s objective is to promote Malaysia as an outstanding tourist destination and make the tourism industry a major contributor to the socio-economic development of the nation. In India, Tourism Malaysia offices are conveniently located in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.

This year, Malaysia celebrates its fourth VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR (VMY) with the theme “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia”. During the celebration of VMY 2014, the country will be abuzz with various colourful parades, carnivals, festivals, shows, events, conventions and celebrations. These will cover a wide range of activities from sports and culture to festivals and arts, reflecting a celebration of the diverse lifestyles and customs of Malaysia. It will contribute to the Government’s target to receive 36 million tourist arrivals and RM 168 billion in receipts by 2020, as outlined in the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP) 2020.



– Bienu Verma Vaghela