Gardens, golf and a Grand Tour for mums

By Lucy Miller, March 21, 2008

If you are heading to Eilat this weekend, you may want to catch a concert during the Eilat Piano Competition. The annual event is sponsored jointly by the Rubinstein International Music Society and the Isrotel hotel chain, which has eight hotels in the resort. This year’s competition, consisting of 11 piano recitals, piano concertos with orchestra, chamber music, a dance performance and even a pop music performance, finishes on Sunday (00972 3 519 7777).

If Anthea Gerrie’s review of New York’s best kosher eateries has you planning a visit to the city, keep in mind the dates of this year’s NYC Summer Restaurant Week. Running from July 21 to 25 and July 28 to August 1 (so perhaps it should be called “NYC Restaurant-10-days-with-a-weekend in between”), it allows you to dine at more than 200 of the city’s best restaurants, where three-course prix-fixe lunches cost $24 (£11.88) and three-course dinners cost $35 (£17.19). The list of participating restaurants will be available closer to July at the NYC Visit website.

Isrotel has recently acquired its 12th hotel in Israel — on the shores of the Dead Sea. Reopened after a £1-million renovation, the 298-room Isrotel Dead Sea Resort and Spa has a private beach, two Dead Sea pools, two sulphur pools and a vast spa with 24 health and beauty treatment rooms. There are also two freshwater pools, business centre and banqueting halls as well as plenty of dining options (00972 3 519 7777).

Golf fans can watch the British Open and play some of the UK’s best courses (including Gleneagles, K-Club and Royal Belfast), on Crystal Cruises’ 12-night, round-trip voyage from Dover departing on July 13. Guests on Crystal Symphony can attend the British Open (this year at Liverpool’s Royal Birkdale, featuring Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington), paying $292 (£146) for admittance (or $991 for VIP access plus a hosted event). On-board golf facilities include PGA pro, putting green and driving range. From £3,274 per person, based on two sharing (020 7287 9040).

Villa specialist Freelance Holidays has some great bargains for families this Easter-season, when the school holidays stretch into mid-April. On Majorca, they are offering a week at the three-bedroom (all with en-suite) hacienda-style Villa Sa Torre in the hills above Puerto Pollensa. Cost is from £316 per week (£53 per head if six share) based on April 5, 12 or 26 departures. There is a pool and terrace (0845 094 8871).

With spring just days away, garden lovers will appreciate the two-night breaks offered by the award-winning Chester Grosvenor Hotel and Spa. The two-night package for two sharing, costs from £675 and includes accommodation in a deluxe room, full breakfast daily, entry to two of Cheshire’s gardens — the list includes Norton Priory and Ness Gardens — chauffeur driven transport to and from the gardens and parking (01244 324 024).

And those who prefer a spot of horticulture to just viewing gardens can hone their skills alongside skilled horticulturists at Cornwall’s world class Eden Project. The new, one-day, taster courses continue until June and include seed propagation; growing plants from cuttings; plant care and maintenance; and the control of pests and disease. Each day-course costs £35 (01726 811972).

Travel specialists Art History Abroad, which for years has taken gap-year students on tours of Italy’s great art cities, have extended their operation to take mothers on similar courses. The Grand Tour for Mums offers a series of flexible one-week courses, so participants may take as many — or few — weeks as they like. Courses include Venice and the Veneto; Siena and Tuscany; and Florence and Pisa. The mums’ courses (open to women over 30) are £1,390 per week and include B&B in charming hotels, entry to museums, galleries, etc, but not flights (01284774772).

Legoland Windsor, which reopened last weekend for its 2008 season, has plenty to tempt families, including a new £7-million Land of the Vikings attraction featuring Longboat Invader ride, Vikings’ River Splash and Nordic-themed hedge maze. Also new: two shows at Duplo Theatre and Mole in One mini-golf. Special rates and deals available at the Legoland website.

    Last updated: 3:37pm, September 10 2008