Villas, veggie havens and violins in Gstaad

We look at Isrotel, Menuhin Festival, Superstar Holidays, El Al, and villas in Provence

By Kate Collins, May 28, 2009
Music in the mountains: the village of Saanen with Gstaad, site of the Menuhin Festival, in the background

Music in the mountains: the village of Saanen with Gstaad, site of the Menuhin Festival, in the background

Assiduous readers of the JC (and of its website, will be aware that leading Eilat hotelier Isrotel has launched its own charter flights from Luton to Eilat this winter as part of a flight-and-hotel package. Branded the Isrotel Sun Express, the flights will be available initially with just four of the chain’s hotels in the Red Sea resort — the ultra-luxe Royal Beach, the family friendly (and extensively upgraded) King Solomon’s Palace, the luscious Royal Garden and the all-inclusive Lagoona — with packages costing from £649, including seven nights’ accommodation, lavishly up-graded charter flights and all transfers. Packages bookable through Israel specialists (more at

- The hills (and mountains) around Gstaad will again be alive to the sound of music from July 17 to September 5 when the annual Menuhin Festival takes place in the smart Swiss resort. The seven-week music-fest launches with a Haydn celebration on July 17. The programme of evening, lunchtime and morning performances includes Jeremy Menuhin and Friend, the traditional Matinee with Young Stars, a concerts by the acclaimed pianist Helene Grimaud and a recital by spectacular Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli. Further information at:
- Still in Switzerland, there is music of another kind in the elegant city of Zurich. The very grand Dolder Grand Hotel is offering a Live at Sunset package, from July 8 to 19 to allow guests to take in outdoor concerts by a slew of stars, including Jamie Callum, Katie Melua, UB40 and Simply Red. Prices from £293 per person (based on two sharing), and include deluxe accommodation with breakfast and a dinner at the Garden Restaurant, before a stroll to the concert (0041 44 456 60 00;

- Passengers flying to Tel Aviv with Superstar Holidays before December 31, and staying at least four nights (including a Friday) in selected hotels in Tel Aviv, will receive a complimentary evening meal and a voucher to the value of £45. A sample package starts from £579 per person (based on two sharing) for four nights with breakfast at the Cinema Hotel. Price includes return El Al flights from Luton (; 020 7121 1500).

- El Al has launched a great-value new instant purchase fare on its London-Tel Aviv route. The instant purchase economy flights are from £267 return (normally £292) from Heathrow and £254 (normally £279) from Luton, and are bookable for travel until July 3 (020 7121 1400;

- Villa specialists VFB Holidays is offering big savings on its Provence properties in June. A detached villa on the outskirts of the pretty village of Pernes-les-Fontaines offers airy, comfortable accommodation for eight, with a south-facing terrace, 10-metre pool and an ideal location for exploring medieval Avignon, the Vaucluse plateau and Lubéron. A week’s rental costs £879, down from £1,179. Other dates available (01452 716840; and search for BON.84).

- Israel comes in at number five in a survey of the five best countries in the world to eat meat-free, carried out by cheap-flight site Skyscanner. The survey, to celebrate National Vegetarian Week, reveals that India is the world’s haven for veggies, with most food for sale in supermarkets marked with special labelling and “almost all restaurants serving delicious vegetarian dishes”. The UK is described has having “one of the most advanced vegetarian cultures in the world” with meat-free food widely available and most restaurants offering vegetarian options. Thailand (with its vegetables, noodles and rice dishes) and Turkey (with its veggie dishes such as couscous, hummus, stuffed vine leaves and roast vegetables) are in third and fourth place, with Israel described as a “relatively easy country for vegetarians to find suitable fodder”. Pointing to the “abundance of Mediterranean food such as falafel and hummus”, the survey notes that vegetarians should have a relatively easy time finding suitable food (

Last updated: 2:21pm, October 6 2009