2018 was another great year for Abbotts Travel. We held more of our popular showcase evenings, including an Italian gastronomic and wine tasting afternoon at Chigwell Golf Club and an Alternative Bucket List showcase evening at the Woodford Wells Club.
We once again made the prestigious TTG list of Top UK agencies, appeared regularly in trade publications and local press, continued to develop connections with other local businesses through our involvement with the BNI, and welcomed a new member to the team.
Luckily we are good at multi-tasking, so we have also spent the year learning, researching and trying out all things travel-related, because we know when it comes to your next holiday, we always want to be one step ahead.
With 2019 bringing in the opportunity for new ambitions, dreams and travel wish lists, we have put together our top tips for the coming 365 days to help you plan your next trip of a lifetime.
We love sending clients to Canada, especially families.
Canada is full of diversity, from the stunning coastal scenery to the wheat fields in the Prairie Provinces. Beautiful wildlife, buzzing cosmopolitan cities and world-famous cruises - visitors can experience it all.
The sheer size of the country limits what you can sensibly see and do, without constantly moving around, but our expertise will help shape the perfect itinerary.
With a new direct flight into this beautiful city courtesy of British Airways, Brits can now experience some Southern charm over a long weekend.
Renowned as one of the trendiest cities in the United States right now, Charleston’s booming economy, excellent restaurant scene and the charming and colourful historical district make it easy to see why we are falling in love with the place. Let’s also not forget that TripAdvisor listed it on the “places to go before you die”.
A vibrant cultural melting pot, Cuba is rich in colonial influences, which serve as a constant reminder that the country is at the tail-end of a modern day revolution.
Arriving can feel like you’re travelling back in time, but you’ll be immersed in the 1950s as you explore UNESCO world heritage sites filled with paintings of Che Guevara.
Havana’s accommodation options have however moved with the times, whilst never losing sight of its heritage, with some fantastic modern 5* hotels like the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski with its stunning rooftop pool and views and impressive new openings from the likes of Iberostar and Melia.
Shelley also recommends Vinales for those wishing to experience the “real” Cuba, including horse riding, trekking and wandering the main street lined with colourful colonial-era wooden houses.
Antigua’s beauty captures the heart of most visitors. From beautifully restored colonial buildings to picturesque scenery and stunning beaches, it reflects the ultra-chic atmosphere of the whole Caribbean.
With hotels like Hodges Bay Resort & Spa opening this year, visitors will be spoilt for choice in the 79-room resort, with state of the art villas and penthouses.
After years of turbulence, Colombia has gone from being sidestepped to one of South America’s most rewarding destinations.
Shedding its bad boy image, the region hits the sweet spot between popular and off the beaten track, and its location means it offers diverse landscapes that take you from white Caribbean sands to emerald-green hilltops.
Shake your hips in a salsa class, sample exotic fruit or marvel at the snowcapped peaks and high-altitude lakes.
From the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the exotic Amazon jungle, Peru's potential for adventure is endless.
Hike the traditional Inca Trail to the 16th century citadel of Machu Picchu, the ancient ‘Lost City of the Incas’, or fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines on the coastal desert.
As one of the region’s most popular destinations, it also happens to be one of our favourites and was featured in one of our recent showcases and in-house training with the fantastic Latin Routes.
It blows away every traveller to find this wilderness left so intact, from glacial fields to the driest desert on earth.
Chile stretches over 4300km and offers visitors the chance to marvel at ancient forest, volcanoes and fjords.
The Patagonian saying is that “those who hurry waste their time”, so go slow in Chile and soak up all the beautiful country has to offer.
Streetside tango and vibrant locals create an unmissable buzz through Argentina that you can’t help but fall in love with.
Plans may be made, but try being just as open to experience, dive straight into busy cafes and boutique restaurants for a flavour of the country.
Let’s not forget about the wildlife, you will see everything from penguins and whales to giant anteaters and more.
A herd of elephants, roaring lions and hungry hippos are what comes to mind when you think of South Africa. Its reputation as one of the continent’s best safari destinations continues to draw in visitors every year.
We like to offer something a little different to our clients, like the authentic tour Julie experienced when she visited this year or a superb Zululand Expedition tour through the Kwazulu Natal region combined with the majestic beaches of Durban.
A bird watcher's paradise, June to October sees Botswana transform unlike any other landscape. Best viewed by air, visitors can see the spectacular beauty of the landscape and its 580 bird species.
There’s nowhere quite like this place and its wonderful ecosystem, so much so that it became the 1000th site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2014.
Incredible scenery, extraordinary wildlife and a friendly and hospitable culture means there is always a reason to visit.
Namibia, Madagascar and Tanzania, especially in July for the migration, all feature on our recommended African adventures list.
One of the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations, Japan has quickly left behind its former identity as one of the Far East’s best kept secrets.
From September to November 2019, the spotlight will be well and truly on this fantastic country as it becomes the first in Asia to host the Rugby World Cup before the Olympics follow in the summer of 2020.
Whether it’s exploring the bright lights of Tokyo, taking a cherry blossom tour in the spring, wandering through the traditional gardens or taking a dip in a hot spring bath at a traditional inn, Japan has a lot to offer - not just to sports fans.
Featured in our most recent showcase at Chigwell Golf Club, alongside our wonderful friends at Authenticities, Sri Lanka offers a dazzling array of choice.
Pristine beaches, endless activities and an abundance of wildlife makes this an exciting destination to visit year-round.
We are such big fans, we are constantly sending clients and staff to experience more of the blissful tropical climate, which offers UK travellers some much-needed winter sun.
Stretching for more than 2000km, Vietnam has undergone extensive change. From the French colonial rule to the tunnels of the Viet Cong, there is history on every corner, which adds a unique flavour to this majestic country.
Visitors can get lost in the misty green mountains of Sapa and immerse themselves in the energetic buzz of Hanoi, where it may take ten minutes to cross the road but the colonial charm is breathtaking.
It is not hard to imagine why we dedicated a showcase event to this beautiful destination, and why we continue to send clients there every year.
Uzbekistan’s decision to simplify their visa process has created a boom in travellers keen to discover the country’s colourful architecture, Silk Road history and futuristic cities. Think ‘off-the-beaten-track’ adventure, rich Islamic buildings gracing the skyline of old cities and dramatic mountain backdrops.
Ancient Samarkand, the number one attraction, flaunts glittering blue-mosaic covered mosques and madrassas surrounding Registan Square.
The stark deserts and fertile valleys won’t disappoint and those interested in ancient history will be fascinated by what Uzbekistan has to offer.
Greece has endless cultural pursuits, including 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian seas. The birthplace of some of the oldest European civilisations, expect fascinating local traditions and unique archaeological sites.
The Ionian islands can’t be beaten for sandy beaches, while Skopelos rose to fame with the production of Mamma Mia and Mykonos continues to rise as a popular cosmopolitan destination.
Shelley reported back on some fantastic options from Corfu earlier this year including the highly recommended Ikos Resort in Dassia and we eagerly await the opening of their new Aria Resort in Kos in May which is sure to be a big hit.
Whether you’re celebrating your honeymoon, hen do, looking for a quiet getaway or a great family option, the Greek Islands will be a great choice for 2019.
Slovenia is a country brimming with natural beauty. From the deep blue waters of the glorious lakes, to dense forests and lush verdant valleys, as well as colourful orchards and clean, crystal clear springs, you will be spoilt for choice.
The charming villages that dot the landscape provide typical Alpine architecture, charming restaurants and a great atmosphere.
Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, bursts with art and culture, while stunning views can be found at Lake Bled’s famous castle.
Visit between June and July for a taste of the International Music Festival, or join in the Wild Flower Festival earlier in the year.
A country of wild, natural beauty with dark, brooding mountains, Albania’s rugged, undeveloped coastline will leave you wandering through the hills clad with olive trees.
Explore the museum cities of Berat and Gjirokastra, both dominated by towering castles, and learn about the national hero, Skanderberg.
Closed to travellers for most of the 20th century, 2019 will mark Albania as a big contender for UK tourists wishing to explore its beautiful beaches and fortress towns.
Once a secretive country, Russia is crying out to be discovered.
Moscow’s Red Square with its towering Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral is the iconic image that comes to mind when we think of the country, alongside a vodka-fuelled nightlife and idyllic countryside.
Easily combined with a trip to St Petersburg, visitors will have a wealth of parks and palaces to choose from in the world’s largest country.
Often described as one of the most beautiful countries on earth, Norway has been increasingly popular this year, and we expect to send even more clients here in 2019.
Contemporary cities, great wildlife and stunning fjords and glaciers, make the country a European heartthrob.
Our recommendation? Book a ticket on the 20.2 km Flam Railway, the beautiful old train will show you endless dramatic views as it runs through the valley of Flamsdalen.
Montenegro continues to appeal to those seeking up and coming destinations on trend and for families looking for the best value for their summer holidays, Turkey with its favourable exchange rate is going to be hard to beat.
We have always been huge fans of New Zealand and 2019 will be no different. Home to world-class surfing, sublime forests and food that encompasses British-influenced classics like fish and chips.
Regardless of whether you’re travelling around the North or South Island, we recommend heading out on one of the famous walks scattered throughout the country.
Get up close and personal to New Zealand’s native plant life and animals and enjoy the stunning scenic views that surround you.
Travel Themes Wellness & Wellbeing
We continue to support and see increased demand for wellbeing related breaks and are always on the lookout for new destinations and offerings to complement a portfolio of trusted recommendations that we will increasing share in the months ahead.
Our friends at G Adventures have recently launched an exciting range of Wellness tours created to “recharge the body and nourish the mind, and that offer the perfect balance of awe-inspiring destinations (such as Bali, Costa Rica, Iceland and Nepal), rejuvenating activities and healthy food experiences, helping you return home feeling even better than when you left."
A hot trend for 2019, sustainable travel is on the rise as more people are wishing to explore the world without harming it.
Next year will see us continue to work with companies like the aforementioned G Adventures, who are committed to their belief that travel is an exchange, not a commodity.
There will be new opportunities to travel and give back as much - if not more - than what you take with you.
Solo travel will continue to rise in 2019, with more people wishing to explore somewhere new by themselves. Our associates at several escorted tour companies are now introducing a solo programme and we predict these will grow in popularity throughout the year. Keep your eyes peeled to see what we think are the best destinations for solo travel next year.
If you’re still seeking further inspiration, our Inspire Me collection represents special properties, resorts and experiences which could influence your 2019 bucket list.
As we approach the busy New Year period, book an appointment, drop in to our store or contact us for help booking your next dream holiday. Wishing you all a very happy new year and many enjoyable travels in 2019.