Interview with David Sutcliffe of Traveltalk


David SutcliffeA ‘skateboard/punk rocker’ in his youth, David Sutcliffe is now one of three partners who run a small travel agency in Harrogate, England called Traveltalk. Specialising in luxury, tailor-made and adventure travel, Traveltalk was created 25 years ago by David’s colleague, Christine Thompson. After much hard work establishing the company in the area they developed a large core client base and are now, according to David, the leading agency in Yorkshire.

What is it that  you do exactly?

My primary task is to be there for our clients, whether it be dealing with a new enquiry or ensuring that their travel plans run smoothly. Beyond that I do the administration tasks necessary to make sure that the agency runs smoothly, allowing the other members of staff to concentrate on dealing with their clients.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

I’m a self-confessed travel geek, so I enjoy all aspects of the industry. I love reading the magazines, watching the travel channels and talking to clients about my favourite destinations, but most of all I love having the opportunity to visit places I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I’ve seen parts of the globe that most people never will and I’m very grateful to be in such a position.

What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?

Savute Under Canvas, Botswana – I stayed at 4 of the &Beyond properties in this amazing country, but this was the highlight for me. Staying in a tent whilst outside you could hear lions and hyenas close by was an experience that will stay with me forever. It was also the first time I’d seen a leopard on safari.

Baltschug Kempinski, Moscow – We arrived late into Moscow and didn’t get a real impression until the following morning when I looked out of my bedroom window across the Moscow River to St Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and the Kremlin. Whilst Moscow might not be as pretty as St Petersburg, you get a real feeling of being somewhere special, somewhere important.

Four Seasons Sayan, Bali – After a long journey this was a real sight for sore eyes. Beautifully set in the Ayung river valley near Ubud, this was the perfect place to relax.

What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?

If you ever find yourself in Ibiza you must visit the Cardamom Club in Santa Eulalia. Superb Indian cuisine in a wonderful setting – chicken jalfrezi with a cold beer, outdoors under a canopy of trees on a Mediterranean evening……paradise!

Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?

We do have a few high profile clients, but best to respect their privacy. I’ve been shouted at by the late Hughie Green in a hotel in Edinburgh if that counts, but it was a case of mistaken identity, he apologised and even bought me a drink. I’ve also met Iggy Pop and John Peel. Oops, almost forgot… I am currently in an awkward relationship triangle with Jennifer Love Hewitt and Carmen Electra…

What currently ranks highest on your travel wishlist?

This changes on an almost daily basis, but at the moment I would love to see Norway, preferably on a Hurtigruten cruise. The scenery looks like it would literally awesome.

Thank you, David. I can heartily recommend Norway – it’s been 20 years since I was there but I still have fond recollections of the scenery.

If you would like to be interviewed on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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Now open: the Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe


The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake TahoeThe snow is flying across the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and the highly anticipated Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe opened its doors this week following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Northstar-at-Tahoe received over 24 inches of snowfall at the summit in just 24 hours, setting the stage with near-perfect winter conditions for the launch.

The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe is the first new-build resort development in the Lake Tahoe area in decades. Anticipated to be the premier Northern California contemporary mountain retreat, the $300 million project features ski-in, ski-out access with mountain concierge services.

Manzanita, the resort’s signature restaurant has been created by San Francisco’s James Beard Award Winning chef Traci Des Jardins. There is also the Highlands Spa – a 17,000 square foot spa and fitness centre with treatments and therapies themed around water and the woods.

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How-to-Heli Ski Camp with Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole


HeliskiingEver dreamed of experiencing the excitement of heli-skiing, but weren’t sure if you had the skills, or even how to go about it? This coming February Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole presents the How-to-Heli Ski Camp, a special three-day, four-night camp offered in partnership with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and High Mountain Heli-Skiing.

Recommended for the strong, intermediate or expert skier, the on-snow experience focuses on powder techniques and off-piste etiquette, and introduces snow safety education – all necessary preparation for big-mountain heli adventures. The camp culminates with participants having the opportunity to test their new skills on a privately guided heli-skiing adventure with High Mountain Heli-Skiing, where they will experience stunning scenery and breathtaking runs on virgin snow.

Individually tailored expert instruction is provided by Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s Professional Alpine Guides on their premier training grounds to give skiers the skills and confidence they need to fulfill their powder fantasies. Combined with the best on-mountain environment and the world renowned Four Seasons service, How-to-Heli Camp is an unmatched elite skiing experience.

In addition to two days of on-mountain instruction, two days of lift tickets and the final day of heli-skiing, the How-to-Heli Camp includes four nights’ accommodation at Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, a welcome reception including cocktails and canapés, two mountaintop lunches at Couloir Restaurant during instruction, a gift bag and a closing dinner at the Resort for all participants.

How-to-Heli Camp rates are from £1,782 per person and £2,889 based on double occupancy. The camp runs from 3rd to 7th February 2010.

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Special feature: Blue Palace Resort & Spa, Crete


View of SpinalongaIn October we had the pleasure of staying at the  Blue Palace Resort & Spa near Elounda on the Greek island of Crete. Since we arrived quite late in the evening, it wasn’t until morning that we could appreciate the full beauty of the resort’s position with its stunning view of the island of  Spinalonga, with its rich and varied history.

BedroomThe hotel, a member of  The Luxury Collection fromStarwood Hotels & Resorts, is perfectly situated close to the small seaside village of Plaka. From the moment we arrived, it was clear that this was going to be a wonderful place to relax.  We occupied two interconnecting rooms; spacious and ideal for families with young children.

OverviewBoth rooms came with balconies that provided us with a good overview of the resort, as did the rather handy resort map provided.  Blue Palace has its own stretch of private beach, numerous pools, its own watersports centre, conference facilities, a small boutique, tennis courts, a helipad and even a private chapel.


There are also multiple restaurants and bars here, including the traditional Blue Door restaurant. Close to the waters edge and enjoying a gentle sea breeze, Blue Door adopts the style of a typical Greek taverna its brightly painted tables and chairs overlooking a spectacular beachfront location.  It offered a themed fish night every Friday.


We primarily dined at the Isola Italian Restaurant and Olea (where breakfast is also served), but there are plenty of options including L’Orangerie, a two-time recipient of the Golden Toque Award (given to the best restaurants in Greece).  At Olea, you can experience a Greek night (Thursdays) and savour an authentic Greek dining experience.


At the heart of Blue Palace is The Elounda Spa & Thalassotherapy offering signature treatments, massages, facials and body wraps, with a swimming pool, saunas, Jacuzzis, steam baths, a hair salon and a well-equipped fitness centre.  Its received many prestigious awards including the Spa Finder Readers’ Award 2007 for The Best Spa in Greece.

Table tennisFor children there is ample to enjoy. The resort has its own kids club and a playground area where the little ones can enjoy everything from swings to climbing olive trees.  There’s also table tennis and of course the beach and the swimming pools which are two boys thoroughly enjoyed.  It’s worth noting that a kids’ menu was available in all the restaurants, so they are made to feel welcome throughout the resort.

In conclusion, nothing was too much trouble for the staff at Blue Palace and this is what sets it apart from many other places. With their Ultimate Guest Service, you can request whatever you want, be it a bath with candles, Champagne and strawberries, or a helicopter ride to Santorini.  When staff are eager to fulfil any and every request their guests throw at them, you know you are staying somewhere special.

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No news and no shoes in the Maldives


Olhuveli‘No news and no shoes’ is the motto in the Maldives, especially when staying at Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort, and those choosing to visit for their holiday will delight in the sheer ease of life. Whether for winter sun, Christmas, a honeymoon or a break away with the whole family, the Maldives has something special for everyone.

Try the recently launched and unique ‘Catch It And Cook It’ excursion from Olhuveli Beach & Spa Resort.  Perfect for those seeking an authentic Maldivian experience, guests spend an afternoon on a boat fishing and learning how to scale, gut and cut the fish. On arrival at Olhuveli’s very own sandbank island, you get a real flavour for Maldivian cuisine with a cooking demonstration followed by a traditional Maldivian barbeque so they can dine on their afternoon’s work.

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New opening: The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain


The Ritz-Carlton, Dove MountainYesterday marked the highly-anticipated opening of Southern Arizona’s newest luxury property, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain. Situated northwest of Tucson, in the scenic town of Marana, the picturesque 250-room resort is spread out over 850 acres of lush Sonoran Desert in the Tortolita Foothills. The resort is offering introductory rates starting from $259.

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Ski packages at Canyon Ranch, Lenox, Massachusetts

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Not quite ready to get back into the daily grind? Rue La La makes planning the perfect retreat at the nation’s most coveted escape possible with affordable stays at Canyon Ranch spa resort, located in Lenox, Massachusetts. For readers who would like to get their fitness fix outdoors, the hotel’s exhilarating ski packages will be on sale only on Rue La La from tomorrow.

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Reef and rainforest experience in Queensland, Australia


RainforestA visit to the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is a must-do on any East Coast Australian itinerary – and visiting is made even easier with a Reef & Rainforest four night accommodation and eco-activity package.

The joint package, released by Kingfisher Bay Resort – Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Eco Resort starts from $1147.76 per person and includes: return scenic 35-minute flight from Hervey Bay (Fraser Coast) to Lady Elliot Island; 2 nights in a Reef View Room at Lady Elliot Island; 2 nights in a Resort Hotel Room at Kingfisher Bay Resort; return ferry transfers from Hervey Bay to Fraser Island; return airport transfers to/from Hervey Bay; 4 x buffet breakfasts; 2 x buffet dinners at Lady Elliot Island; snorkel and glass-bottomed boat tour and nature talks at Lady Elliot; ranger-guided Fraser Island Day Tour and resort nature walks and talks.

The package also includes National Park Fees on Fraser Island, an Environmental Management charge on Lady Elliot and options for additional scuba diving and Ranger guided activities.

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Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts turns 30

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Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts have every reason to celebrate the new year: this is the year the Swiss hotel chain turns 30. The venture which started out in 1980 with just a few hotels has now blossomed into a distinguished, internationally renowned hotel chain with deluxe hotels in 17 countries across five continents.

The company’s eventful history began with its founding, all those years ago, by  Swissair and  Nestlé. The company assembled its initial portfolio of hotels by acquiring  Hotel Le Président in Geneva and signing management contracts for  Hotel Drake in New York,  Bellevue Palace in Berne and  Hotel Internationalin Zurich.

Today Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts is a distinctive group of deluxe hotels for discerning business and leisure travellers, combining the renowned Swiss touch with a fresh, contemporary and modern design.

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Celebrate the festive season at Voyages Ayers Rock Resort

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For a ‘fair dinkum’ sunshine-filled Aussie Outback festive season look no further than Voyages Ayers Rock Resort in the heart of Australia’s aptly named ‘Red Centre’.  With a selection of five hotel properties, to suit all tastes and budgets, Ayers Rock Resort has literally lined up a feast of activities throughout the resort at the various restaurants to ensure the whole family enjoys the season to be merry!

24th December – Christmas Eve:  Arnguli Grill

On Christmas Eve, join your fellow travellers for a 4-course á la carte dining experience at the Arnguli Grill located within Desert Gardens Hotel. Feast on Honey Glazed Roast Turkey, Roasted Pork Loin or Macadamia Crusted Atlantic Salmon, followed by traditional Christmas desserts. The cost is $75 per person.

25th December – Christmas Day:  Kuniya Restaurant

Celebrate Christmas Day with lunch or dinner at Kuniya Restaurant, Sails in the Desert’s fine dining experience. Within this elegant setting, enjoy a 3-course á la carte menu featuring Black Angus Beef Wellington, Baked Barramundi, Lamb Rack or Turkey Breast followed by a selection of delectable desserts. The restaurant’s wine list reflects its Australian heritage and the service is both discerning and personalised. The cost is $105 per person for lunch or dinner.

Winkiku Restaurant

In a brasserie-style setting, enjoy a Christmas buffet lunch or dinner at Winkiku Restaurant at Sails in the Desert Hotel. The menu will feature some traditional Christmas favourites such as Honey Glazed Ham, Roast Turkey, Seafood and a selection of cold cuts to name just a few scrumptious items on the buffet. Then sit back and savour some traditional delights such as Christmas pudding with brandy custard, gingerbread, seasonal fruit and assorted Australian cheeses. The cost is $100 per person for lunch or dinner.

Arnguli Grill

On Christmas Day, enjoy a 4-course á la carte dining experience at the Arnguli Grill located at Desert Gardens Hotel. Feast on Honey Glazed Roast Turkey, Roasted Pork Loin or Macadamia Crusted Atlantic Salmon followed by traditional Christmas desserts. The cost is $75 per person.

Sounds of Silence

Enjoy a Christmas dinner to remember under the stars, at the award winning Sounds of Silence buffet barbeque dining experience. After dinner, tour the southern night sky with our resident star talker. The cost is $195 per person, bookings are essential.

31st December – New Year’s Eve

As the sun sets on another year, heralding the start of a new one, a buffet feast will be served at the White Gums Restaurant located at Desert Gardens Hotel. A cold selection of Tasmanian Smoked Salmon, Coffin Bay Oysters and Western Australian King Prawns will be served, followed by a hot selection of Roast Pork, Roast Spring Lamb, Kangaroo, Chicken, Aged Rib Fillet and Grilled Barramundi. Dessert will also be served. The cost is $80 per person.

New Year’s Eve celebrations will be held at the Outback Pioneer Hotel Bar, where there will be live music and the countdown to midnight.

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