2017 was a big year for Abbotts Travel: we held our first showcase evening at Chigwell Golf Club, which launched the Abbotts Travel Golf Collection, followed by a second event, due to popular demand, introducing our clients to the wonders of Indochina; we joined Europe’s largest local business network; we retained the title of London’s Top Travel Agency (and we've been shortlisted for the third year running); and, most importantly, we planned, inspired and booked thousands of incredible trips for our wonderful clients.
As if we were not busy enough, we have also spent the year researching, reading, asking, listening, training and experiencing all things travel because we know your next trips matter.
From special birthdays, couples' cruises, ski adventures with friends, to bucket list or honeymoon dreams coming true, we’ve been on hand to provide inspiration and that all important guidance when putting your holiday together.
With 2018 seeing the same you, but hopefully in a new and exciting climate, we’ve put together our best picks and hot tips that we think will help you plan the trip of a lifetime.
If you’re looking to spend 2018 visiting a different continent, or you’re just aiming to get as far away as possible from the much-anticipated royal wedding, then look no further.
Here’s a few of our favourite long haul destinations this year.
A tiny country made up of two main islands (and a number of smaller ones). Scooping up awards for the most desired destination, the unspoilt scenery encompasses beaches, rainforests, glaciers and even volcanoes, creating outdoor adventures with endless possibilities. The region is notorious for being extremely safe, and the four distinct seasons (without any dramatic contrast) make for pleasant trips year-round - not to mention, we’re still looking for a Kiwi we don’t treasure!.
Bali is perhaps more 21st century than the island that fills your imagination, but you’ll still find a Bali brimming with romance that etched the pages of Eat Pray Love. Stunning beaches and magical temples, the island is paradise for yogis and surfers alike - not to mention it’s Alexis’ favourite destination. Home to some of the world’s most luxurious resorts, we’re sending Hollie out there this year to find out more. Keep your eyes peeled for a five-star itinerary and our top picks of where to stay on the island.
Seychelles Located off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is made up of more than 100 islands. The white sands, turquoise waters and year-round tropical climate make it a haven for honeymooners. From March 2018, British Airways will launch a twice weekly direct flight (Wednesday and Saturday) from London Heathrow which we think we think will be extremely popular with our clients. You could be sipping margaritas looking out over the huge granite mountains in just over 10 hours.
These beautiful destinations have our family nod of approval…
South Africa We’re huge fans of South Africa, so much so we centred our first showcase event at Chigwell Golf Club on the region. They’ve got the big five, eight World Heritage sites, minimal time difference (meaning UK tourists can escape jet lag), breathtaking beaches and world-renowned wine vineyards. Named the world’s best whale watching destination and home to a beach filled with penguins, you can’t escape the proximity of nature - making it the perfect option for our clients with families.
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka offers a dazzling array of choice. Sandy beaches, endless activities and game parks with an abundance of wildlife (including leopards, elephants and birdlife). A string of exciting new hotels has helped boost Sri Lanka as a destination, alongside the blissful tropical climate that offers UK travellers some much-needed winter sun. The laid-back vibe, fantastic surf, and scenic landscapes make the small island irresistible. Tea lovers will also be in their element as the country is famous for its Ceylon tea and lush green plantations.
Costa Rica From river rafting through the jungle and spying sloths in the leafy trees, to zip wiring through the canopy, the abundance of activities makes Costa Rica a family playground. Coined the happiest nation on earth, it’s not hard to see why - dense rainforests, hundreds of colourful bird species and the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans lapping at its shores. The warm climate and beautiful beaches produce the perfect cocktail for a superb year-round destination.
For those seeking adventure, we recommend the following…
Colombia Colombia has dramatically transformed into South America’s top destination over the last couple of years, shedding its bad boy image and hitting the perfect sweet spot between off the beaten track and popular. Get dancing in the region’s salsa capital, taste the exotic fruits from one of the many markets or join Barranquilla Carnival - one of the biggest of its kind. As an attraction country to travellers in 2018, expect to hear lots more from us on this South America gem.
Guatemala A place that leaves visitors entranced, we labelled Guatemala a country that offers so much to those willing to step off the beaten track, and it still holds true. The people, the scenery and the cuisine will make for a rich and culturally distinctive visit. The indigenous Maya population are well worth meeting - they invented chocolate after all! From exploring Mayan heritage and colonial cities, to visiting active volcanoes and majestic rivers, Guatemala is full of surprises and we can’t wait to send you there.
Japan Japan is a land of diversity. People still worship at ancient temples, geisha still entertain and everyone still eats traditional food. But they also travel by bullet train, live in huge modern cities and go to robot restaurants. Explore the great cities of Tokyo and Kyoto or take a cherry blossom tour in the spring and witness the country turn a shade of pink. Due to host the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the UEFA World Cup in 2020, Julie recommends visiting this year, before the masses descend.
We’d also like to give a special mention to the Philippines and the Maldives for breathtaking diving and stunning beaches; Mauritius for its calm crystal lagoons and world class spas; Canada for its epic landscapes; and Cuba, for anybody that wants to spend their holiday off the grid in a place that time forgot.
Closer to home
It turns out you don’t need to go far to find beauty vast enough to marvel over - and Instagram.
We’ve handpicked the following short-haul destinations, which we think you should visit in 2018.
Montenegro Julian calls it “the new Croatia” and with The Chedi Lustica Bay and Iberostar setting up camp here this year, we couldn’t be more excited. You’ll find colour on every corner and sandy beaches without the hordes of tourists. With brightly-painted monasteries, elegant mosques and beautiful fortresses, it’s a fascinating spot for those with an interest in European history. Somehow the region has remained under the radar, but it’s easy to see why it’s a firm favourite for travellers in-the-know.
Azores A group of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Azores is 900 miles from Portugal and has a dazzling history. Home to green landscape, lush vegetation and black volcanic rock that makes up the coastline, the island of Sao Miguel would make the perfect introduction to the region. Explore a volcanic crater, try tea at a plantation or join one of the whale and dolphin watching excursions. Yet the greatest draw for many is the quiet rural scenes and endless sense of tranquility.
Puglia Italy’s best kept secret, but luckily we’re not very good at keeping quiet. With a population of just over 4 million, the relaxed and less commercialised region offers an alternative to the more famous Italian hotspots. With the UNESCO site of Castel del Monte, a mixture of culture, national parks and the beautiful historic centre of Bari, there’s endless avenues to explore. We’re sure we’ll be sending lots of people here in 2018, and the warm and hospitable locals will leave them wanting to stay forever.
Jerusalem and Jordan Jerusalem, the centre of the world. Only a five-hour flight from the UK, it’s the perfect destination for a short break. Historical sites, renowned shopping and vibrant markets, the city can be combined with a tour of Jordan. Like Israel, Jordan is rich in history. The cosmopolitan city of Amman alongside the beauty of Petra, voted one of the Seven Wonders of the World, will immerse you in history.
For those with only a long weekend to play with…
Morocco Marvel at the country’s most beautiful mosque and the highlight of Casablanca, indulge in the vibrant markets of Marrakech, admire the view of the Atlas Mountains and explore the bohemian vibes of Tangier. The exquisite architecture, old imperial cities and tasty cuisine will be sure to wet your appetite. Morocco is full of colour - alongside some world-class properties, including La Mamounia and the Royal Mansour.
Girona A stone’s throw away from Barcelona, the ancient city of Girona is often overlooked for its larger, glitzier counterpart. Yet the hillside region has everything any traveller could ask for: medieval walls, a cathedral that dominates the skyline and a river running through the heart of the city. The Jewish Quarter is the best preserved in the world, leaving a city rich in culture and ready to be explored. If that hasn’t sold you already, you can explore the city while enjoying a luxurious stay at Hotel Camiral.
Seville Alluring, romantic and bathed in rich Arabic and Christian history, Seville manages to balance tradition with cutting edge. Despite being Spain’s fourth largest city, most of the area is manageable by foot. Take in a flamenco show, visit the Royal Alcazar Palace or order tapas for two. Navigate your way around the city by using Las Setas - the distinctive design is the largest wooden monument in the world and dominates the centre of Seville.
Eat Northern Spain Craft your entire Spanish adventure according to the meals you want to eat. Possibly the most exciting concept we’ve heard this year. Put together from the finest ingredients, Eat Northern Spain trips combine foodie experiences with unparalleled cultural immersion in one of Spain’s greatest destinations. Indulge yourself in one of the region’s best pastry shops, savour three spectacular Michelin restaurants on the back roads of Spain, or mix hiking and cheese making in Picos de Europa National Park.
Florencetown Our top pick for 2018: the one-day Vespa tour of Tuscany. Ride the country roads through olive groves and vineyards on board an Italian icon. The scenic ride will offer breathtaking views of the rolling hillside and medieval churches. Finish the tour at a famous winery and enjoy a tour to learn the secrets of wine production, before sitting down to a traditional Tuscan lunch (or dinner, depending on your departure time). The perfect way to immerse yourself in Italian culture.
The Deep South, USA Without the Deep South, there is no American music. From May 2018, British Airways will provide a direct service from London to the Music City itself, Nashville. Experience the unique roots of American music and the history that gave birth to jazz, country, the blues and rock ‘n’ roll. Explore the world-famous Country Music Hall of Fame, RCA Studio B and the Ryman Auditorium, before jumping on the road to Memphis and New Orleans.
Abu Dhabi and the Grand Prix Hosted in the futuristic, slickly modern Yas Marina Circuit, the Grand Prix sells out every year. Held on 24 - 26 November 2018, it pays to book your race tickets, accommodation and flights well in advance. The Yas Marina Circuit and Ferrari theme park are just some of the attractions to keep tourists entertained, and of course no visit to Abu Dhabi is complete without a tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Lapland It’s our favourite time of year, which means we’re already planning Christmas 2018. Those seeking an unforgettable festive break can look into visiting the main man and his helpers at ‘Santa’s Lapland’ in Finland. Your own team of huskies, a traditional sleigh ride, toboggan rides and magical forests at twilight. The only downside, once you return, you’ll never want to spend the holidays at home again.
Passion Play If you thought booking Christmas 2018 was organised, what are your plans for 2020? The once-a-decade performance of the Passion Play in the Passion Play Theatre is now open for bookings. From 16 May to 4 October 2020, the villagers of Oberammergau in Bavaria perform their world famous play. A tradition which began in 1634 and involves more than 2,000 participants and a full orchestra, the experience can be combined with a tour of Germany.
Abbotts Travel Golf Collection Launched during our first showcase event, the Abbotts Travel Golf Collection comprises of the finest golfing resorts across Europe. The latest addition is the Finca Cortesin Hotel, located in the rolling hills of southern Spain. The hotel’s world-class facilities include an elegant 67-suite hotel, a beach club, award-winning spa and state-of-the-art Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy. It’s a five-star golfing experience like no other.
Adventure Travel Adventure travel holidays could take you to all corners of the globe. From voyages in the Arctic to trekking in Nepal, Intrepid and G Adventures are leading the way with up close and personal travel. From a Tuscan farmhouse to a rustic lodge in the Amazon jungle, marine tours where you can go just about everywhere there’s water and active adventures that let you hike, bike and multisport through your trip. Our favourite: real-world experiences with a foodie twist.
Wellbeing If all that adventure sounds too exhausting for you, we’ve got an alternative. Possibly the hottest trend in travel, wellness holidays are becoming an increasingly popular relief from daily worries and constant connectivity. From our favourite Caribbean spas to Carly’s luxurious hotspots in Barbados, we’ve provided plentiful options. Keep your eyes peeled for our exciting new Wellness Collection, currently being hand-crafted by the team.
Cruises A cruise offers the unique experience of enjoying a multitude of destinations whilst only unpacking once. The children’s Disney Cruise is hard to beat, but others are growing in popularity. Uniworld is offering a fresh approach with their U exclusively for 21-45 year olds. Our other favourites include the Hurtigruten Expedition offering the Northern Lights and Antarctica, Aqua Expeditions taking travellers along the Amazon River and the Holland America Line exploring Alaska.
If you’re still seeking further inspiration, our Inspire Me collection represents special properties, resorts and experiences which could influence your 2018 bucket list. As well as our accumulation of First Look pieces, bringing you the newest and brightest accommodations and experiences on offer.
As we approach peak booking season, book an appointment, drop in to our store or contact us. Wishing you all a very happy new year and many enjoyable travels in 2018.