Your next holiday matters.
We spend the year researching, reading, asking and experiencing all things travel because we know it matters.
So whatever your need may be, we love to give you the benefits of the many special relationships nurtured with hotels, resorts and tour operators.
For 2017, early booking ensures the best availability and deals.
Several of our tips from last year tick the boxes with Costa Rica and Iceland proving popular.
Top of the new picks is The Philippines, which appears on both Julian and Sharron’s lists for offering excellent value for money and will feature as an Abbotts Travel Destination of the Month in early 2017.
A nation of more than 7,000 islands, each surrounded by calm, turquoise waters and blissfully white sandy shores, there’s far more to this fascinating country than just beautiful beaches and amazing diving experiences.
We love Palawan, a fascinating region offering extremes of meeting ancient rainforest tribes in the depth of the jungle with its weird and wonderful wildlife to the bustling local markets and their vibrant people.
“There are direct flights to Manila and an excellent flight network makes island hopping simple. A great range of accommodation is available from beach bungalows to 5-star hotels” says the much-travelled Julian.
Sophie escapes the sun for something more distinct. "I have booked a wonderful lady on a trip to Antarctica," she explains, "and feel this is a great destination to showcase as it's so unusual."
"The trip is on a ship, the MS Fram Ushuaia, and involves crossing the Drake Passage - where two oceans meet - and the Antarctic Circle, taking part in scientific lectures and getting up close to the wildlife including penguins, seals, whales and birds by hiking, kayaking and snowshoeing."
Television is a source of great ideas, with two shows proving to be influential. The incredible Planet Earth 2
showcases the adventure experiences and the exotic nature of travel, a theme explored by Joanna Lumley's hit series exploring Japan, another destination increasingly in demand for us and tipped by Sharron.
Julie is our qualified Canada specialist and has seen the world’s second largest country surge further forward in popularity. Its popular new leader, Justin Trudeau, helps seal the country's image as a dynamic, inclusive and polite paradise. That's certainly the view of our client, Roger, who travelled across the Canadian Rockies earlier this year.
Says Julie, "Western Canada has some of the most iconic, natural landscapes and attractions the world has to offer, along with its outdoor life and amazing wildlife it's a photographer’s dream. Also a favourable exchange rate provides good value for money”.
Something that Sharron also picks up on: “Toronto is a fantastic short city break option especially if you’ve already been to New York. We work with elite venues like SoHo Metropolitan Hotel - one of our favourites in a city that competes with the finest in the US for restaurants, shopping and sporting experiences.”
A good twin-centre option with Toronto, New York or Boston is Shelley’s long-haul suggestion for 2017, Bermuda.
“This is an island with British charm," she says, "plus pink sand beaches, amazing snorkelling, diving and cave swimming, good golf courses and, for sailing enthusiasts, Bermuda will host the Americas Cup in 2017.
"Flying time is only seven hours so it makes a fantastic destination for families, couples and honeymooners and the weather is still good in the British summer months”.
Continuing south, we support several beautiful Caribbean options - not always perhaps the obvious ones. Danny recently gave us some feedback on fantastic family resorts in Jamaica, while nearby, the St Vincent & The Grenadines continues to grow in popularity.
Alexis visited (and adored) the latter in July, and Julie is soon to visit a stunning new resort, The Pink Sands Club on Canouan Island. For Sophie, it's the spice island of Grenada, where she has booked a client's birthday celebration at the Sandals Resort.
After sharing our 10 best spa hotels in the Caribbean, we are looking into the increasing demand for lifestyle holidays, particularly well-being, healing, spiritual, healthy eating and yoga breaks.
Alexis has sent several clients to a stunning retreat, the Kamalaya Koh Samui in Thailand. “It’s set in the hillside leading down to a secluded beach," she explains. "And is a perfect getaway in natural surroundings to relax and reflect. They also have some superb programmes that can be pre-booked”.
Our long-haul suggestions wouldn’t be complete without two family options, popular with us and our clients.
Over to Carly: “South Africa is a great, affordable winter escape. So much to see and do, from a sensational safari on the East Cape to driving the garden route and stopping off at various hotspots such as Stellenbosch for wine tasting.
"Cape Town is a great place for a short break to Table Mountain, whale watching, Robben Island and, for the adventurous, shark diving. You have an excellent choice of hotels to suit all budgets; on the luxury side we are big fans of The Twelve Apostles."
Julie advocates Sri Lanka because it's "a fantastic combination of history, heritage and cultural fascination, wonderful wildlife and spectacular golden sandy beaches – this is a land full of surprises and wonderful hosts.
"A private tour followed by a beach stay is a superb family choice, especially for a winter or Easter break on the west coast, but also works as a great value option for summer on Sri Lanka's east coast.”
Rounding up our more distant suggestions, we are keeping close tabs on Peru where a direct BA flight to Lima has recently opened, and we are delighted to report Nepal back on the rise and deserving of support following the earthquake of April 2015.
We continue to tip cruise holidays as a good, safe way to see multiple places in one hit, and one with options across all budgets and tastes for individuals, families and groups.
Most cruise liners offer excellent all-inclusive options. If it’s luxury you seek then Alexis cannot speak highly enough of Silversea Cruises. and their elegant fleet covering in excess of 800 destinations.
"Silversea take genuine pride in ownership," she says, "and have a true Italian passion for embracing the best life has to offer."
Italy continues to prove popular, and Carly is first in line with praise, saying: “Italy has been a hugely popular summer destination this year and will be so again. Great cities can be combined with stunning coastlines. This can be done by a train service on a first or second-class basis.
"If it’s a lasting memory or special experience, then the Orient Express is hard to beat. Italy, Sicily and Sardinia have a selection of fabulous hotels that cater for families, honeymooners, couples or singles. We are very well connected with many of them.
"Wine, food and friendliness are of the highest quality and a Tuscan experience is a great way to combine all three”.
Julie can offer recent personal experience on the virtues of Barcelona for a short break and Shelley knows the 'Floating Garden' that is Madeira and its natural charms and mild climate make it not just a great winter destination. "The flower festival is a breath-taking affair, the island is covered in different colour blooms in the spring, great for a walking holiday, and don’t forget the wine festivals at the end of August and early September."
This is a flavour of what's possible in 2017. We have the knowledge, personal experience and best network of trade relationships to place you anywhere on the globe.
Don’t forget we cover things closer to home and work with many top London hotels if a theatrical or concert break or a weekend in the city is on your agenda.
Also, our Inspire Me section is now live. This collects together special properties, resorts and experiences which could form the basis of your own bucket lists. We're adding to this section on a regular basis, so please bookmark the page so you can check out new places...
As we approach peak booking season, book an appointment or just drop in to our shop in South Woodford.
A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all – enjoy memorable and safe travels.