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.
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…
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 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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.