Masada … now going for a song
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● Leading UK tour operator Voyana has launched www.telavivcitybreaks.co.uk, a dedicated website showcasing Israel’s buzziest city. Offering flights with El Al and bmi, the site features 25 hotels ranging from three- to five-star. Room-only rates start from £42 per person per night — but that, of course, is based on two sharing, so the lowest room-only rate is £84 per night, which is not such a bargain. As well as the big international brands (Hilton, InterContinental, Sheraton) and local chains (Dan, Moriah Plaza), hotel offerings include the ultra luxe new boutique property, the Montefiore and the quirky, boutique-style properties owned by Atlas, which include the art deco Cinema Hotel on Dizengoff Square, with its movie memorabilia and lobby screenings. A four-night break there, with flights, costs from £454 per person (based on two sharing). The site is also offering a “Transfer plus” option that includes meet-and-greet transfer from airport to hotel with an orientation tour of Tel Aviv at £68 for up to three passengers.
● Opera lovers will hyperventilate at the idea of two performances of Verdi’s Nabucco beneath the stars at Masada next summer. The performances feature Jessye Norman and the Israel Symphony Orchestra of Rishon Le Zion, will be conducted by Verona regular Daniel Oren. Performances are on June 3 and June 5 at 9pm. London-based Israel travel specialist Travelink is handling packages (www.travelinkuk.com; 020 8931 8000).
● bmi’s seat sale, running until September 30, includes some alluring deals to Tel Aviv, with return economy flights including taxes from London from £254 (Edinburgh and Glasgow from £284, Manchester from £286). Premium economy returns are also offered, from £469 from London. Offer is valid for travel until March 25 (www.flybmi.com).
● Aviva Preston’s kosher Far East tour organized through Ealing Synagogue is now running from November 12 to 23, with pre- and post-tour add ons to Cambodia (November 10-12), China (November 23 to December 2) and Tibet (December 2-6). Prices are £2,945 per person for the main Vietnam tour; £2,520 for the China tour, plus £440 and £920 for Cambodia for Tibet add-ons, all per person based on two sharing. The cost includes all internal flights (within and between Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Tibet), breakfast, most other meals (all kosher) tours and transfers, but not UK-Far East flights (firstname.lastname@example.org).
● Keen walkers should head south next month for the third annual South Devon Walking Festival, running from October 2 to 11. Aimed at all ages and abilities, there are walks designed for toddlers to seasoned hikers, with almost 50 opportunities to explore the gorgeous coast and countryside, including a six-day walk along 76 miles of the South West Coast Path from Plymouth to Brixham. Family-friendly walks include a five-mile route along the disused Primrose Railway Line beside the River Avon, and a short, moderate-paced Woodland Wildlife walk in the wooded Avon Valley. Some walks are free, others start from £4 for adults and £2 for children under 12. Information from the South Devon holiday line: 01626 215674; www.visitsouthdevon.co.uk.
● Gerry and Mona Parry are running another of their escorted holidays to Eilat from Manchester. Organised through Manchester-based Israel operator ITS, the trip is departing Manchester on November 3 and returning on November 12. Based at the Red Sea resort’s Moriah Plaza Hotel, the holiday will feature bridge and kalooki sessions, daily walks, and a farewell cocktail party. There will also be a free upgrade for the first 20 people who book. Details from ITS on 0161 839 1111 or Gerry Parry on 0161 773 2272.