Welcome to Kanoo Travel UK

Kanoo Travel, a franchise partner of American Express Travel Services, specialise in tailormade luxury holidays for the discerning traveller.

Welcome to our blog pages, here you'll find reports from our staff on their holidays and trips which might give you a great idea for your next trip. We'll also update the pages with our latest offers and deals.

Kanoo Travel can be contacted on 0800 458 3412. Or visit us online at http://www.kanootravel.co.uk/

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Introducing Cruise Specialist Claire

Having worked in travel for 13 years I have spent the last 5 years working as a cruise specialist. I have helped to create many unforgettable experiences for first time cruisers and seasoned sailors. From two night breaks to round the World Voyages there are many cruises available to suit all needs, whether you are a single passenger, a couple, a family or a group. 
I also have experience of arranging weddings at sea.

Cruising is the perfect way to wake up every day and enjoy a different view and explore numerous destinations during one holiday. Like people ships come in all different sizes, small, intimate, family-friendly, large, formal and informal, lively, adults-only – there are ships suitable for every different type of clientele.
For those of you who haven’t cruised before there’s a preconception that it’s like a ferry - saying this to a cruise specialist is like calling butter margarine!
A ferry is a form of transport, a cruise ship on the other hand (and I hasten to add ship, not boat) is an ocean liner, a floating hotel. Pure luxury and indulgence from the moment you step on board to the moment you step off.

With staff who are trained to the highest calibre, staterooms designed for rest and relaxation, facilities to enjoy whatever your pleasure and food in its plenty to tickle your tastebuds. With an array of entertainment on board from West End and Broadway style shows, to music acts, comedians, tribute acts, line dancing, singing lessons and bingo to name just a few. A cruise has something to offer for everyone.

For those of you who have been on a cruise before there is always something new to experience, a new ship, a new port to visit – maybe the delights of Turkey, the Beautiful Baltic, the Majestical Mediterranean, the Prestigious Panama or the highlights of the Hawaiian islands, the world is your oyster. With my expertise and knowledge I am always able to find something that matches my client’s requirements.  

As well as booking numerous voyages for my clients I keep my knowledge updated with the various training programmes that Cruise Lines offer. With P&O, Princess and Cunard I am a member of their Training Academy at the highest level of Commodore. This gives my clients peace of mind, they are in the best hands and booking assurance that their reservation has been dealt with to the highest of standards. With Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruise Lines I have received Admiral Status which again, is the highest level of their training program.

I, myself have sailed on and visited many ships – 

P&O – Ventura & Azura 
Both family friendly large ships – great for those new to cruising. Ventura is particularly great for the children with Noddy and Mr Bump on board.

Royal Caribbean - Allure of the Seas & Brilliance of the Seas 
Allure of the Seas us the largest cruise ship in the world. Both ships are suitable for everyone. With surf machines and rock climbing walls on some of the ships in the fleet it makes them attractive to the adventurous person.

Cunard, Queen Mary 2 
Cunard are a traditional luxury cruising with White Star Line heritage. The Queen Mary 2 does a number of transatlantic voyages which makes visiting New York appealing to those who aren’t so keen on flying.  Sailing from New York to Southampton is also a good way to avoid the jet lag of flying as sailing back over a number of time zones means you only loose an hour a day rather than five hours in one go!

Princess, Crown Princess 
Princess Cruises are an American cruise Line, promoting American style luxury. With an abundance of ships in the fleet there is almost certainly one in each area of the world, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Regent Seven Seas, Voyager 
Regent Cruises are a cruise line who are informal and have smaller ships in their fleet.

Oceania, Marina 
Oceania are a ultra-luxurious all inclusive cruise line.
Along with the above cruise lines and ships I have great knowledge of other lines and vessels.

Celebrity Cruises 
A cruise line for those who like the finer things in life.  A touch of luxury with elegance, style and sophistication, renowned for its fine wine and dining.

Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL) 
A cruise line, with a freestyle ethos.  With NCL there are no formalities, no dress codes & no set dining times. NCL are fantastic for those who just want to come and go as they please.  For the single passenger they also offer some very good prices.

A cruise line who are inspired by the golden age of cruising.  With a sophisticated ambience on board and elegant designs, you’ll be surrounded by modern elegance and timeless glamour.

If an ocean voyage doesn’t float your boat then why not dance on the Danube or Romance on the Rhine and try a river voyage. River Voyages are a very relaxed way of cruising and visiting very scenic cities. With a number of river cruise operators including, Viking, Shearings, AMA Waterways there is sure to be a vessel to suit the clients needs,

Whatever your tastes, whatever your requirements, whatever your budget, there is a ship on the water that will suit your needs. So why not come on board and take to cruising like a duck to water?

For more information about the wide range of cruises that Kanoo Travel have to offer, please 
visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, call on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Destination St. Lucia! (Part 3)

Destination St. Lucia! (Part 3)

Sugar Beach

The comment on the drive down to Sugar beach (located on the Southern end of the Island - around 30 - 40 minutes from the airport) was that Sugar Beach “will probably knock everything else out of the ball park” with how good it was going to be. Whilst I still loved Kalabash Cove the most, it was a bit like putting the best middle weight boxer in with the best heavyweight boxer - both excellent at what they do but you know who’d win!!! You realise why Hollywood A listers come and take over Sugar Beach – its that good. So much style, a spa to die for, the best dining on the Island and best of all – swimming in the shadow of the Pitons – beautiful.

We did a site visit and lunch and were afforded a day room as well. So many good points about the hotel. Idyllic woodland/treehouse location for the Spa – looked beautiful. Many watersports amenities plus options for Tennis etc. A beautifully designed classic bar – all white!!! - with an amazing selection of rums. Fantastic kids club – we spoke to kids, they were happy!! A large pool area and wonderful beachfront restaurant whose menu was amazing. Rooms to die for as well.
We were able to use a Luxury Cottage to change in – beautifully decorated as were all the rooms. No expense seemed to have been spared anywhere. Whilst the residences where amazing, I particularly liked the Beachfront Bungalows but there were no bad rooms at this hotel. Do have I client I deal with now who I know will want to stay here – lots!!! Just hope they can afford it!
Final plus point was the General Manager, Marcus, excellent host – knew every centimetre of that hotel! Would suit all types of guests…


We didn’t do any excursions on the trip but a number were available to the Pitons on the Southern part of the Island. Guests staying in the Gros Islet area could visit Castries or the Rodney Bay area which offered shopping and dining options. Comparing it to Antigua, there did seem more infrastructure and more to do in St Lucia than Antigua

Selling the Destination

Confident I can sell the destination to many clients. As mentioned above it offers in my opinion, more diversity than Antigua. We saw a very diverse range of properties which would suit all markets and ages groups. The key selling points are the beaches, the St Lucian hospitality (great people) and fantastically high standard of hotels.

Jump Up

Can’t leave St Lucia without mentioning the Jump Up. A massive Friday night street party with live music and entertainment which happens in the heart of Gros Islet. You weren’t sure if you were going to be intruding on something that is really for the local population only. Driving through you did see a few tourists and provided you don’t wear ostentatious jewellery or draw too much attention to yourself in general, you’ll have a wonderful time. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole atmosphere and mingled with locals without issue. I would recommend any client who has the chance to go and experience it!  

For more information about St. Lucia, and other unique travel experiences, please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk

Friday 3 January 2014

Destination St. Lucia! (Part 2)

Destination St. Lucia! (Part 2)

Le Sport Bodyholiday

Enjoyed a site inspection and complimentary spa session at Bodyholiday. I have to say, the property
was very busy and hence we didn’t get to see many of the rooms. From the brief glimpse we had, there were far more luxurious rooms on St Lucia. The reason to come to Le Sport is the wellness experience. To be fair, they do it very well – albeit with blackboards listing activities and buffet style dining, it does have a little of a luxury holiday camp feel to it. With Le Sport, you tailor your holiday to suit you and can do as much or as little as you like. Spa sessions, tennis training, yoga, beach activities – it can all be done. Its predominance of English guests is catered for with afternoon every afternoon at 4.30 and its attention to detail with individual guests, from the ones I spoke to, is first class. Not a property to bring children to (most of the year the age limit is 16 plus – couples and certainly groups will fit in ideally here and more significantly, single travellers. The management are at pains to cater in a sensitive way to single travellers ie strategically seating them in an area where they can mix with other single travellers over drinks and dinner.


The sister property to Le Sport, this couples only resort has been converted into a hotel/resort from a family home. The property has a beautiful beachfront location and has burgeoned from a family residence into a resort of 100 rooms, whilst still retaining charm and intimacy. It naturally is solely aimed at couples and honeymooners but does cater for weddings as well.

The open air buffet style dining area has an excellent beachfront location and the quality of food was excellent – especially the choice of around 7 desserts!!! The bar area – which was part of the original family home – was charming. Typical with the rest of St Lucia, it had an excellent Spa and great gym – with options to do many other both indoor and outdoor activities.

From the outside, some of the accommodation blocks did look rather Spartan but once inside were of a very high standard. The Beachfront cottages were my favourite but the categories at the property would suit for all tastes and budgets.

East Winds Inn

Our group sent one night at East Winds Inn. The Caribbean style property is made up of only 30 rooms – made up predominately of split level semi detached style cottages. The cottages were beautifully decorated with very expensive Italian bed linen and had a very rustic feel to them.
The bathrooms included a sunken shower – very quirky – and the cottage as whole had a kind of jungle feel to it. Sadly, in terms of space, it was probably the smallest bedroom we saw on the whole trip and coming immediately after spending 2 nights in a 2 bedroomed Deluxe Suite, was made to feel even smaller.

The unique selling point of East Winds is really its unique charm. It has a great beachfront location (with a beautiful beach) and prides itself on its tropical gardens – guests can do walks around the property with pre-marked trails - and its restaurant has a strong Caribbean feel to it. The service and quality of food and drink in the bars and restaurants was superb. Personally I didn’t really get the concept myself. Whilst there was nothing wrong with any aspect of the property, I couldn’t think of clients that I would place there. However, from speaking to a number of guests – many of whom were repeat clients and certainly in the 50 plus aged bracket – they absolutely loved the place and “wouldn’t stay anywhere else in St Lucia”, highlighting the service and relaxing intimate nature of the property as the reasons why they return again and again. Rated no 1 in Gros Islet on Trip Advisor, that many people can’t be wrong can they???!!!

Calabash Cove

Quite simply my favourite property of all we saw. Sadly only had chance for lunch and site inspection. Located at the end of quite a bumpy route (as many of them are) off of the main road between Gros Islet and Castries, you are immediately wowed by the façade as you approach. Not sure how to describe it, reception is in kind of an open air atrium (if that’s possible) with the most spectacular views out to sea – leading into a sea front restaurant area – again with amazing views.
Steps took you down to the pool area with swim up bar – with accommodations on either side – with the beach area further down. It provides the most wonderful romantic hideaway – I can immediately name 4 or 5 clients I would place here!!! The place is an absolute paradise. Yes, as many of the luxury properties in St Lucia, it isn’t cheap but even the lead category of rooms are fantastic – as long as you can get over the fact that the bath is located in the main body of the room!
I loved it and the large balcony affording those stunning views, even better. My personal favourites were the swim up Junior suites – only 4 of them I think. They had their own balcony/terrace with steps down directly to the main pool area – the terrace area shrouded in beautiful foliage - but with the options to have privacy if required.

Food in the main restaurant was excellent and to be fair, the menu at the swim bar looked absolutely ideal as well. Again the property had an excellent spa but on the downside, is really not suitable for the less able bodied guests or children. If you did choose to leave this idyllic location, the hotel were keen to stress the many activities they could offer guests. I wouldn’t bother!!!

Windjammer Landing

Not really knowing the property, in my mind, I imagined a fading luxury Sheraton/Marriott type property – what I got was totally different. Beautifully designed and decorated rooms – in a kind Grecian style. Someone compared it to Santorini - I guess that’s about right. The property is set right up on a hillside – the highest rooms apparently around 500 meters up from the sea. It has varying categories of rooms and aims to suit all party sizes. The larger 3 – 4 bedroom Villas ideal for large family groups had been very well thought out. The key thing I noticed with all categories of room at Windjammer was the amount of space – you felt that in other hotels they would have tried to squeeze in another couple more bedrooms. Here you had space to move around. I stayed in a Hibiscus Suite – 3rd category in – which was lovely. Excellent sea views, Hot tub on the balcony, what more could a boy want!!! Spacious lounge and kitchen area, leading into a large bedroom area and onto an ensuite bathroom. Beautifully decorated.

We ate in the Mediterranean restaurant at the property - excellent cuisine - before heading to the poolside bar close to the busy reception area. Again very nice. Downside to Windjammer Landing – and it is only a small one – is the sheer size of the property and getting around it. Buggies can be hailed and arrive quickly but if you are located high up the property it is quite a journey around
sharp and steep hairpin bends over bumpy terrain – not everyone’s cup of tea. Offset that with
the fact it probably has most amenities of all the hotels we saw – 3 shops located close to reception.
Naturally it doesn’t really suit disabled guests but all others – both those wanting to relax and those wants all the facilities you’d usually expect from a large resort.

Stay tuned for Part 3, coming on January 7th!

For more information about St. Lucia, and other unique travel experiences, please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk

Monday 30 December 2013

Destination St. Lucia! (Part 1)

Destination St. Lucia! (Part 1)

Arrived at Gatwick Airport after a very comfortable night at the Sofitel Gatwick Airport. Can highly recommend the Sofitel – especially for travellers flying from the North Terminal, as the terminal is linked by a covered walkway, meaning a walk of less than 5 minutes. The hotel is beautifully decorated with spacious rooms and immaculate public areas which includes 2 bar areas and restaurants. The hotel is equipped with excellent business facilities and with spacious lifts and wide escalators, makes good provision for disabled guests
Greeted at the BA check in area by Jon Hardcastle from ITC, and ushered around to Club World check in by Jon, with the words “This is ITC Rob, flat bed all the way to St Lucia!”. Check in was a very seamless process with helpful and polite staff. Granted access to the BA Executive Lounge. Very luxurious lounge with very attentive staff and many facilities available although if I was to make one minor criticism, no hot food was available – something that I’m aware the Virgin V Lounge does provide.
Airside at Gatwick there are a plethora of shopping options for those last minute essentials, as well as more luxury and tax free gifts. Prices appeared very competitive versus the high street as you would expect. There were numerous food outlets as well
We flew on a BA 777 aircraft. Naturally, business class offered an incredible amount of comfort. The seat fully reclined to allow a flat bed with different recline positions available to you. By your feet, was a storage draw – very handy – and both the tray table and television screen were able to stored conveniently away when you wanted to rest. There was also a dividing screen which could be lowered or raised – depending as to whether you wanted to speak to the person next to you or ignore them!!! I was seated facing backwards to the direction of travel – a concept I had always thought of as strange. However, it felt no different to facing forwards. Access to the seat was a little confusing however and had there been anyone seat in the aisle seat in the row behind who had decided to sleep, I would have been forced to vault over them to get out to the toilets/snack bar area!!! Cabin staff were particularly attentive – already having checked the seating plan to be able to address guests by their names. They were very helpful throughout and very prompt in responding to any requests we had. The catering was high class with a choice of 4 main courses and 3 desserts and the inspired decision to have a speciality cocktail for that particular flight!!! Kir Royale x 7 was the request I remember!!! In terms of entertainment, there was a library of not just current films (I guess around 30 – 40) but also some of the classics, as well as a wide array of television programming – tailored to suit all age groups. There were radio channels – again to suit most musical tastes - as well as a CD library which again numbered around 30 to 40.
Flying time was 8 hours and 50 minutes – with regular inflight updates provided by the crew. On arrival, after descending the aircraft steps, a short walk, about 200 metres around the perimeter of the terminal was required to reach the immigration area. Wheelchairs were available for less able bodied travellers but I was not able to see how such travellers would be able to disembark. The immigration process was a little slower than ideal (extra windows were eventually opened up to speed up the process ) but the walk to baggage reclaim was a very short one.
NB Landing cards are completed on the aircraft to help speed up the process.
The airport is very small but equally is well signed. Once through to the arrivals hall, it is rather chaotic to be fair with many transfer providers jostling for position, alongside the car hire desks. We were however easily able to locate to Spice Travel representative and joined our transfer minibus to the Landings – on the very Northern tip of the Island, whilst the Airport is on the Southern tip.
The transfer itself gave you the opportunity to travel up the Western side of the Island through the St Lucian Rainforest and the journey was scheduled for around an hour and a half to an hour and three quarters. It afforded some breathtaking scenery, although the journey was very windy with some sharpish bends and inclines, so not ideal for everyone. We did encounter traffic issues upon arrival in the main town of the island Castries. We unfortunately arrived there just on rush hour and it took around an hour to get from one side of the harbour to the other – a matter of 2 miles at most. (Something that I later found out was not an uncommon occurrence, which I imagine is difficult to avoid for UK originating passengers – even perhaps also for those arriving on the slightly earlier Virgin flight). The journey eventually took just over 2 and a half hours. As an alternative to customers, there is a helicopter transfer option. The helicopter takes off from the far end of Hewanorra Airport and lands on a small landing area close to Gros Islet, where a number of the large hotels on the North of the Island are located. (Most hotels are reached by a 10 minute transfer from the landing area). Whilst we did not verify precise costs, the helicopter transfer is a fraction more expensive but certainly worthwhile for some clients, who after a near 9 hour flight, just want to get to their hotel.

The Landings

Very luxurious property with a rather grand reception hall – something you would expect more in the Middle East, although the property itself had a Floridian feel to it in terms of the layout of the accommodation blocks and other areas of the property. I was certainly reminded of a stay in Fort Lauderdale where rooms had Intercoastal views – similar to the harbour/marina views afforded at the Landings. Check in was a straightforward process with “heavy on the rum” cocktails offered. Guests were then immediately transferred by buggy to their accommodations – although to be fair no room in the entire property seemed to be more than a flat 5 minute walk from reception.
I was given a Two Bedroom Deluxe Villa Suite with a Harbour View. The room was huge – 2 huge bedrooms – both with large ensuite bathrooms and one with a dressing room. A separate washroom – laden with a washing machine and tumble dryer. A massive kitchen and dining area which opened out into a lounge area with large settee and armchairs – not forgetting the two balconies – one containing two day beds, the other a dining table, oh and a Jacuzzi!!!! I remember thinking, awestruck as I walked around, how’s a lad who Dad spent all his life down the mines, ended up in a place like this….
To be fair, this property is all about the accommodation itself. Whilst we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening in the luxurious restaurant – with a great choice of local specialities – and the bar area offered a plentiful supply of cocktails, plus there was a very good spa and pool at the property – it somehow seemed to be missing something. Shopping facilties, perhaps. However, fishing trips and other excursions could easily be arranged from the hotel so you would certainly not be short of things to do.
The hotel would certainly suit all age groups and with the kitchen/dining facilities available, it would lend itself to families with young children. The Rodney Bay shopping area is a mere 10 minutes from the hotel so provisions could easily be obtained - and stored in the huge American style fridge in the suite! The hotel has both 2 and 3 bedroomed accommodations and some of the more luxurious 3 bedroomed Villas have their own plunge pools too. Some rooms were on higher floors but each block had a lift and the blocks were wheelchair accessible.

Cap Maison

Had a site inspection and luxurious dinner at Cap Maison. This property, also located in Gros Islet, a very idyllic location at that, has a very Moorish/Spanish feel to it in its design. Rooms were beautifully decorated and again very spacious (a feeling you got from most of the properties we viewed in St Lucia). All suites afforded excellent views. The property had a very relaxed feel to it – with the owner/ manager keen to point out that they don’t trouble guests with admin or request credit card details as soon as they arrive, they allow them to enjoy their new surroundings. The property does lend itself to couples – rather than families – who want a relaxing luxury retreat and who want to be able to get on with their holiday without fuss. Equally, it was a good choice as a wedding venue compared to the other St Lucian hotels we visited. You imagined that there would be some amazing photographs! In terms of the less able bodied, it didn’t seem to lend itself that well compared to other St Lucian hotels.
In terms of dining, there are a number of options. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, we were unable to dine beachfront at the Naked Fisherman Restaurant so were taken down to Bruce’s wine cellar for a private dining experience. If he doesn’t sell this to guests as a meal option, then he should!!! Truly wonderful evening, tasting great wine and sea food. Equally, if not, private dining was an option, beachfront or should I say “rockfront” at Rock Maison – a small decking area which holding up to 30 but can cater for just 2. The property offered a beautiful spa as well as gymnasium facilities and overall, it simply oozed class!

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming on January 3rd!

For more information about St. Lucia, and other unique travel experiences, please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk

Monday 2 December 2013

Mia Newton in Amsterdam

Getting up at 3am on a Sunday morning for a day trip to Amsterdam, I must be crazy or a travel agent – I’m both! Quick shower & I’m out the door, passport and Euros at the ready. A big plus on a day trip is no suitcase to worry about just the huge handbag carrying all the “just in case” items. Parking at the airport was quick and simple, a short walk to Bristol airport terminal to be greeted by 3 Servisair check-in staff. All could have definitely done with an extra few hours in bed, not being able to summon up a smile between them. Security was surprisingly busy but only took about 5 minutes to filter through. The new Servisair Lounge was easy to locate, much larger than its predecessor with a quiet area, choice of seating and zoned areas.

The flight was comfortable with adequate legroom in a 3-3 configuration, tea/coffee and a light snack were served en route by the very pleasant KLM staff. The flight was punctual and arrived to a bright, clear Amsterdam day. We were met by Michael Rainford, KLM Account Manager together with another 4 Kanoo staff who flew from Birmingham & Manchester. Off we all went like the seven dwarfs for our “days work” in Amsterdam airport and the city itself. What an airport Schipol is, like a complete village it has everything you could possibly think of…. shops, cafes, restaurants, casino, spa, library, meditation centre, relaxation area, kids area complete with cots for sleepy babies, even a small version of the Rijks Museum. You can completely understand why the Dutch come to the airport for a day out it’s like a huge Mall – very impressive. The signage for terminals and gates are clearly displayed with walking times to help passengers, as well as banks of self service ticket machines throughout the airport should your flights be delayed. The KLM system will have already protected passengers on an alternative connecting flight allowing them to print new boarding passes and therefore avoiding long queues at ticket counters. The rail station is directly under the airport allowing a seamless journey in to Amsterdam.

Directly opposite Amsterdam city rail station we step straight on to a tourist sightseeing boat for our one hour canal cruise around the waterways of the city. Fascinating architecture, quaint little streets, thousands of bikes, houseboats galore and a laid back atmosphere – a wonderful start to our visit, watching the city float by. A short walk from the rail station took us to our lunch venue the Koepelcafe in the Renaissance Hotel. The food and location were spot on – our Dutch Bitterballen group starter was particularly delicious and enjoyed by all. It was agreed a good walk would do us all the world of good after lunch, so off to the seedier side of the city we went to view a few aspects that make Amsterdam famous. A good hour and half later and feeling wide-eyed we found ourselves in Dam Square amidst the throngs of tourists and locals taking advantage of the fabulous weather. An outdoor bar/café was located where we enjoyed a fabulous afternoon people watching in the true style of European café culture before ambling back to the rail station to catch our flights back to the UK.

In summary KLM offers a slick professional on board service with an absolutely seamless user friendly product in Schipol airport. The airport itself has literally thought of everything to ensure passengers are totally catered for. Amsterdam city is great for a day trip, very easy to get around with activities for all tastes!

Mia Newton

Travel Consultant at Kanoo Travel

for more information about Amsterdam, and other unique travel experiences please visit www.kanootravel.co.uk, or call us on 0800 458 3412, or email webbookings@kanootravel.co.uk