BLACK FRIDAY HOLIDAY DEALS

From luxurious spa days and countryside retreats to European getaways and bucket-list trips, we’ve rounded up our favourite Black Friday travel offers.

50% OFF THE RESIDENCE MALDIVES AT DHIGURAH

For those craving a haven of unparalleled peace and relaxation, The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah are offering up to 50% off best available rates in their Black Friday sale.

Book between 21st November and 4th December for stays valid until 31st December 2021. This offer starts from $588 USD per night (approx. £446) and includes complimentary domestic flight & speedboat return transfers, complimentary room upgrade and an all-inclusive meal plan.

For more information, visit www.cenizaro.com 

25% OFF WITH THE CALCOT COLLECTION

Boutique hotel group, The Calcot Collection, are offering 25% off overnight vouchers (excluding spa breaks) for all four of their countryside properties – Calcot & Spa, Barnsley House, The Painswick and The Lord Crewe Arms . The perfect excuse to treat a loved one to a night away or indulge in 24hrs of self-care.

For more information, visit www.calcotcollection.co.uk

25% OFF AT SOPWELL HOUSE

Just a short 20-minute train from central London, Sopwell House in Hertfordshire is the ultimate luxurious post lockdown destination for couples, friends or those needing some alone time, focusing on indulgence and seclusion.

The Club at Cottonmill Spa Day Offer’ starts from £171.38 and is available Monday – Thursday or Sunday. It includes use of the exclusive The Club at Cottonmill facilities from 9am – 6pm, a 60 minute Classic treatment and a delicious three course lunch in the Pantry, accompanies with a glass of wine or prosecco. The voucher is valid for 4 months from purchase date.

For more information, visit www.sopwellhouse.co.uk

UP TO 60% OFF SPANISH ESCAPES WITH THE BARCELÓ HOTEL GROUP

Guests heading to Barcelo’s Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel and Royal Hideaway Corales Resort’s can enjoy up to 50% off, with up to an extra 10% discount for the My Barcelo customers, early check-in and a discount on services at the hotel. Offer is valid for booking made from the 16th-29th November 2020 and for stays from 16th November 2020 to the end of 2021.

For more information, visit www.barcelo.com

20% OFF 7 WONDERS IN 7 DAYS WITH ANDBEYOND

For Cyber Monday 2020, andBeyond is offering a 20% discount on a selection of private and immersive 7 Wonders in 7 Days itineraries that promise to take you on a journey to some of the world’s most iconic wild places. These itineraries have been specially created to ensure you won’t lose time travelling between multiple destinations. A longer stay, in one destination, means that you can enjoy more time reconnecting with yourself, your loved ones, and the natural world.

andBeyond’s Cyber Monday deal includes 20% discount on  the following journeys: 7 Wonders in 7 Days at Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa, 7 Wonders in 7 Days on Mnemba Island, Zanzibar, 7 Wonders in 7 Days at Sossusvlei Private Desert Reserve, Namibia and 7 Wonders in 7 Days at Vira Vira, Patagonia, Chile. The offer is valid for travel on any dates up until 15 December 2021 and the booking enquiry must be received on Cyber Monday, 30 November 2020.

For more information and full terms and conditions, visit www.andbeyond.com

Christmas Gift Guide 2020

Gifts to Whet the Appetite

For the Hard-to-Please Foodie: A Fife Arms Hamper

The Fife Arms Clunie hamper offers a delectable selection of Fife Arms signature products. Curated for gourmet lovers, including a Staffordshire fine bone china tea set made exclusively for the hotel, the Fife Arms tartan lambswool blanket, and a selection of Scottish delicacies including local heather honey, Dundee cake, and a tin of Royal Scottish tea.

For the Culinary Curious: andBeyond’s Food Fundis

The vibrant flavours and influences of Africa and South America come alive with andBeyond’s cooking demonstrations, hosted by their famous chefs and lodge managers. Cook along or simply feel inspired as you watch these culinary creations being made knowing that all profits are helping fund local community initiatives.

For the Kids and Kids at Heart: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

One Aldwych’s scrumdiddlyumptious Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea is the perfect treat for all the family. The indulgent tea features a mixture of splendid savouries, scrumptious sweets and fizz-lifting drinks.

Gifts to Heal Body, Mind and Soul

For the Person who Needs a Moment of Peace: andBeyond’s WildWellness Virtual Experience

Move your body, reconnect and enjoy a session of mindfulness, with a selection of WILDwellness therapies set across Africa and South America. Choose from a virtual session of Yoga, Forest Therapy or Tango.

For Those Who Love to be Pampered: A Spa Day at Sopwell House

The Elements spa day gives guests exclusive access to The Club at Cottonmill. The state-of-the-art members spa day includes two 60-minute premium treatments and a delicious three course buffet lunch in the pantry, use of the Cottonmill facilities and a robe, towel and slippers.

For the Gift that Keeps on Giving: A Bulldog Yoga Subscription

Perfect for those who want to practice yoga, but don’t like the traditional yogi vibes, Bulldog’s varied online classes feature upbeat playlists motivate users to get active in the comfort of their own home. With its website and group of Apps you can practice anywhere, anytime.

For the Person Who’s Always Busy: Calcot Sundown Spa

An evening visit to the newly refurbished award-winning spa at Calcot will ensure that even the most stressed guest leaves feeling refreshed and recharged. The Sundown Spa experience starts from 5:30pm and includes use of the facilities and a 55-minute treatment chosen from a select menu. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious two course supper at The Gumstool Inn. Membership runs on a monthly, no contract basis and is just £10.45 per month. Gift cards are available here.

Gifts to Pack Your Bags For

For the Romantics: A Weekend Escape to Sopwell House

Treat  loved one to The Club Two Night Rendezvous for Two. This luxury break includes two night’s accommodation, two 60-minute treatments per person, full access to The Club at Cottonmill facilities and a robe, towel and slippers. Dine in style and enjoy a three-course dinner in The Restaurant on the day of arrival, followed by a three-course dinner in The Brasserie on the second night, a three-course buffet lunch in The Pantry on day of arrival or departure and a full and hearty breakfast buffet each morning. 

For the Workaholic: A Midweek Stay at The Painswick

There’s no better way to switch off than by escaping to the countryside for a night or two. Tucked away in the picturesque village of Painswick, surrounded by rolling hills, acres of woodland and boasting only 16 stylish rooms,The Painswick is a truly peaceful spot to fully unwind.

To Live Life Like the Rich and Famous: A Luxury Break with Monte Carlo Société Bains de Mer

A perfect gift for a world-weary traveller is the Take Monaco Home With You package from Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer which shares some of the secrets behind the magic of Monaco, so that guests can literally take a slice of Monaco home with them.

For An English Country Gardener: A Weekend at Barnsley House

With its storybook architecture, award-winning spa and famous gardens, Barnsley House is the perfect weekend break. Located in a quaint Cotswold village, Barnsley House focuses on seclusion and indulgence. With plenty of space to hide away, terraces to cosy up on and a tranquil spa inspired by nature, guests can truly enjoy uninterrupted quality time.

Gifts for the Explorer In Your Life

For the Wild Ones: andBeyond Wild Watch Online

Sit in on a virtual session with an expert andBeyond guide who will interpret the sightings from a recorded WILDwatch Live drive with you. This interpretive experience allows a deeper insight into recorded sightings as well as the opportunity to discuss topics of special interest.

For Budding David Attenborough’s: Meet andBeyond’s Conservation Experts

Learn more about the conservation and sustainability practices that are helping to leave our world a better place. andBeyond’s ‘Protect our Planet’ episodes are hosted by experts in each category, who you will have the chance to meet and engage with.

Stocking Fillers

For the Eco-Conscious: A Gill Mask

Gill Mask, the reusable respirator mask that is safe, breathable and skin-friendly. Gill Mask allows users the flexibility to choose the types of filter and level of protection needed, from standard surgical mask to higher level of N95, all with the comfort, security and cost efficiency of a reusable respirator but extending the life of a single-use mask by six times and can last up to two years.

Superior Stocking Fillers: The Fife Arms Curated Collection

A collection of local luxuries, the Albamhor’s botanical body care range is a unique blend of oil-infused Scottish Highland herbs and plants, made in Britain. Choose from hand & body wash, shampoo, conditioner and body & hand lotion. 

Isolation Vacation: Private Island Holidays

According to recent research, the demand for a private island escapes have increased by more than 320% in the UK. With private island buy outs in demand within certain circles, we have picked some of our favourite locations around the world for experiencing splendid isolation:

Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island Villa, The Maldives

Situated in the tranquil Noonu Atoll Cheval Blanc Randheli is part of LVMH Hotel Management renowned for its exclusivity. Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island Villa is the most elegant of escapes for seclusion-seekers. Sprawled across 1-ha of dedicated island, this four-bedroom villa, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, is the epitome of lush, modern island living with exceptional indoor and outdoor spaces and a dedicated team of Ambassadors who are on call 24/7.

In the main house, three light-filled successive reception rooms border a 25-metre-long swimming pool surrounded by a piano, bar and lounge areas. Outside, various terraces, tropical gardens, private beaches, an al-fresco dining pergola, and meditation pavilions bring relaxation to the tropical setting. A private spa treatment room, fitness centre and screening room complete this ultimate island stay.

Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

It is safe to say that Necker Island is certainly the most well-known private island in the British Virgin Islands and its easy to understand why. At 74 acres, the island sits in turquoise waters surrounded by coral reefs and fringed with beautiful white sandy beaches. With 20 bedrooms (and the possibility to host 40 guests), made up of 11 in the Great House, inclusive of the Master Suite, as well as various other villas and houses dotted around the island, this is the ultimate, great escape, reunion celebration.

Every activity guests could possibly want is on offer – kite-surfing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, sailing, snorkelling and even SCUBA diving – yet even a simple stroll around the island on a nature walk will give guests the opportunity to spot Necker’s very own flamingos and lemurs!

Wa Ale, Myanmar

Wa Ale is the culmination of owner Chris and Farina Kingsley’s vision to create the first luxury eco-resort that provides access to Myanmar’s untouched Myeik Archipelago. This 5,000 acre island can be taking privately, hosting up to 28 guests at one time. Not only will guests enjoy the incredible remoteness and luxurious accommodation, but each guest will be giving back to the local community in the Myeik Archipelago through their contribution to social welfare and wildlife conservation charity, the Lampi Foundation. Set up by the owners of Wa Ale (Chris & Farina Kingsley), the Lampi Foundation gives 20% of net profits and 2% of all room revenue from Wa Ale to the foundation.

New for 2021 is one four-bedroom Beach House and three Beach Bungalows with three bedrooms each. Located on the island’s beautiful 1km long ‘Honeymoon Beach,’ Beach House and Beach Bungalows will be serviced by a maid, chef and butler with use of a jungle gym, new trekking routes starting from the beach and a brand-new beach bar, with exclusive use of paddle-boards, a speedboat, kayaks and snorkelling excursions by boat, right off the beach. These join the island’s new Ayurvedic Jungle Spa.

andBeyond Benguerra Island, Mozambique

andBeyond Benguerra Island is an exquisite piece of Indian Ocean paradise situated off the coast of Mozambique. In the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, the island retreat is set on a protected lagoon. Guests can hideaway a variety of luxurious thatched accommodation complete with private wooden deck and pools. Guests can enjoy castaway picnics on secluded untouched islands, sunset cruises, swimming with horses as they ride bareback into the warm ocean or even spot a rare Dugong as Benguerra is home to one of the last remaining viable population. Guests are bound to see more wildlife than people!

Downward Dogs Go Up: The Mango Agency welcomes Bulldog Online

With lockdown forcing us all to work from home and with gyms and studios closed, the Mangoes have turned to at-home workouts to help us stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Following suit with much of the UK, at home yoga has been the go-to exercise of choice, which is why we are delighted to be working with Bulldog Online.

Bulldog Online is a completely new type of yoga platform whose founder, the businessman and co-owner of Bankside Hotel Jon Cummins, describes it being “yoga for non-yogis.” Created out of his own love of the physical benefits of yoga but dislike of the traditional yogi vibes, Jon was inspired to create an online platform that would make yoga more approachable, affordable, accessible and fun.

Offering varied and dynamic online classes with upbeat playlists, Bulldog’s online classes are recorded live – offering a virtual feeling of being in the studio, but with the reality of being in your own judgement-free home. No sanskrit, no chanting, no intimidation. Bulldog’s mission is for people to do what they can and not worry about “being good at yoga.”

How to reduce ‘Zoom fatigue’

For the past three months we’ve had our fair share of Zoom calls and webinars. Although these have been vital in keeping us connected, they are tiring. Being on video call requires more than face-to-face chat – we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. We are also hyper-aware of what we look like and how we come across as we are forced to view ourselves on camera; paying close attention to all this can really zap our energy.

As well as helping to keep our bodies strong and our minds sane, Bulldog’s training director Tessa Jenkins has shown the us the poses we need to do at our desk to relieve the dreaded ‘Zoom fatigue.’

Here are three poses that can be done at your desk to improve posture and help us stay awake and most importantly for these times, stay calm!

Pose 1 – Seated cat cow

We often slump forward when we are seated for a long time and if our computers are too low, which is often the case at home. As you sit at your desk place your hands on the desk and round your back like a “halloween cat” and let all the air out of your lungs then pull your chest forward and squeeze your shoulder blades together and take a big breath and fill up your lungs. Do several sets of these, it allows flexion and extension of your spine but also allows some rhythmic breath to bring in some fresh air and wake you up!

Pose 2 – Seated / Chair Pigeon

Sit tall in your chair and cross one ankle over the opposite thigh. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale hinge at the hips and lower your chest as close to your lower leg as possible.  Hands can rest on your chair or on the desk.  When we sit for a long time our hamstrings and pelvic muscles can get tight this pigeon can relieve some of that tightness and create a little more ease while you sit.

Pose 3 – Seated meditation

Sit resting back on the chair and close your eyes. This can give a rest to tired eyes after staring at a computer during the day.  Do a body scan mediation to check in with each part of your body from your toes to the crown of your head. Checking in with your body along with focusing on breath work can give your mind and eyes a break so you can be ready for the next meeting in a matter of minutes!

In sickness and in health – how hospitality is embracing the ‘new normal’

As the hospitality industry begins to emerge from lockdown, hotels and restaurants across the world are looking at how they can begin to safely operate again. For an industry that prides itself on the personal touch, hoteliers and restaurateurs are now having to remove touch all together – rethinking their business model in the process.

This presents many challenges, least of all how best to communicate these changes to consumers. Do consumers want to know what brands are doing to keep them safe, or does this remove some of the magic? Does the use of 1% sodium hypochlorite disinfectant really constitute a PR story?

The short answer is yes, but only as part of a bigger story which focuses more on the macro than the micro. We have certainly seen increased demand in recent weeks from journalists looking for more detail on what the future of hospitality looks like, but the focus is less on the nitty gritty of how often touch points are cleaned and more about how the experience will look and feel different upon reopening. Whatever strategy you subscribe to, we believe hospitality venues need to be transparent about their systems and processes in response to the pandemic and they also need to have information readily prepared and digestible for both consumers and press.

Many brands feel like they have always put hygiene first, albeit discreetly, but times have changed, and the safety of guests and staff has taken on a new significance. Hospitality brands are not just selling an experience anymore, they are now in the business of selling safety and sanitation.  

But how best to reassure and encourage guests to return? India’s ITC hotels is using accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) to demonstrate its enhanced cleaning protocols.

In the UK, a COVID-19 ‘quality mark’ championed by Visit Britain is currently being considered by ministers. As reported by The Telegraph, this certificate will be awarded to all UK hospitality businesses that meet certain social distancing and hygiene standards, providing consumers with reassurance that it’s safe to stay.

Many hotel brands have enlisted scientific advice to help formulate their reopening plans. Spanish hotel group Barcelo has created the ‘We Care About You’ programme, a comprehensive set of measures to protect guests, employees and suppliers. Using expert guidance about viral infection, the programme focuses on enhanced cleaning and adaptations, including a grab and go F&B concept.

Another client, aparthotel brand Native is confident that its self-contained apartments, complete with kitchen and washing facilities will prove particularly appealing for guests in this post COVID-19 climate. Guests will be greeted by an unbroken ‘clean seal of approval’ on their door, showing that the room has been deep cleaned using environmentally friendly powerful enzyme cleaning products. Mid stay cleans have been abolished and apartments have been decluttered, with pillows, throws and even equipment manuals removed in the name of safety.

Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel

At the ultra-luxury end of the market, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer has worked hard to preserve the overall guest experience. Group Director of Sales and Marketing, Axel Hoppenot, explains: “We’re adapting our establishments across the portfolio. From hotels to restaurants and spas, we will be controlling capacity, guiding traffic flow and using stringent sanitation. Restaurant menus will be downloadable via a secure code to diners’ phones, while occupancy will be limited to one person for every four- square metres. Instead of brunch buffets at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel, the brunch will be served at the table. We will also propose a new service: floating breakfast trays beside the lagoon and sunbed dinners”.

Boutique hotel group, The Calcot Collection believes the pandemic has encouraged some positive changes. For example, Calcot & Spa has introduced a new outdoor gym to aid social distancing. An extra floor has been added to its play barn by decommissioning offices and the events space has been transformed into a beautiful yoga studio with countryside views ready for reopening. Set amidst 220 acres, Calcot has been able to tap into consumers’ new-found appreciation for nature and has shown how businesses can innovate quickly to thrive. The Painswick will also be available for exclusive lets – ideal for family reunions after months of lockdown.

Cornish hotel, St Michaels Resort in Falmouth has introduced a new one-way system throughout the property to ensure easy social distancing and pushed kids club activities outdoors. Guests may also be allocated arrival time slots and the reception area has been reconfigured to provide more space. In the hotel restaurant, dishes will be presented under a cloche, with staff trained to minimise contact. Room service will be available without charge for breakfast and dinner and all employee temperatures will be checked on arrival for each shift.

So, it seems there is plenty to talk about when it comes to health and hygiene in a post pandemic world. Yet we believe that the really intriguing story is actually about how hospitality businesses are innovating in response to this pandemic. Certainly, there is a trade-off to be had in terms of experience, but the examples above prove just how resilient and inventive the sector can be. These measures will undoubtedly change the way people stay for years to come, but we hope that they will future proof an industry that employs over 120 million globally whilst also still encouraging cultural connectivity and joy in the process.