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The Word from the Front Line

A round up of where the a&u team has been so far this year.

Someone’s gotta do it!

Daisy Allsup was spoilt in South Africa

daisy south africa

Wind your way through verdant vineyards past white Cape Dutch cottages and up a picket-lined driveway to Mont Rochelle, a hotel as quaint and pretty as you can imagine. We arrived to a rose garden in full bloom, guests lolling about on picnic rugs and toddlers tottering about on the lawn. As relaxed and informal as it is luxurious, Richard Branson’s hotel nestled in the Franschoek valley is the ideal place for a winter sun babymoon or short break with little ones in tow. A direct overnight flight from Heathrow to Cape Town airport, an hour’s Uber journey and you’re in paradise, lounging by the pool with zero jet lag. Kids go free – we stayed in a spacious Pinotage Suite with views over the mountains or with toddlers, opt for Cap Classique with doors opening out onto a private lawned garden with a hanging swing-seat and your own plunge pool. There are plenty of activities including a spectacular tennis court, croquet, giant chess, boules, wine tasting and the charming Franschoek town is just 10 minutes away on foot. The magic of a stay here is the ease; drop and flop, lay out a picnic rug for tea, laze by the pool, soak up the glorious scenery and relax whilst being looked after by caring and approachable staff. 

south africa picnic mount rochelle south africa

Mont Rochelle’s Pinotage Suites from ZAR 16,400 (approx. £883) per night, or a Cap Classique from ZAR 20,950 (approx. £1127) per night including breakfast and a complimentary mini-bar. British Airways direct flights to Cape Town from £700. Remember that to travel in South Africa immigration law means you’ll need an unabridged birth certificate for every child under 18 years. 2 blank pages are required in your passport and it must be valid for at least 6 months. 

Julia cruised around international waters (AKA Jersey) on a new mega boat

julia celebrity cruise

All aboard the billion-dollar boat. For the very first time I have been cruising and WHAT a ship to pick! Literally brand new (after one speedy tour of the Caribbean this winter), Celebrity Edge has arrived fresh-faced and gleaming into Southampton ready for some European action. With 29 restaurants and cafés, 3 pools, 4 theatre stages, a Kelly Hoppen-designed Spa and Retreat Lounge, Ben Fogle Great Adventures excursions, 500 kids’ activities, a hovering Magic Carpet cocktail bar, a high-tech Fitness Centre, leafy rooftop gardens and an undulating running track, it is simply staggering. A gigantic (1,004ft) floating pleasure palace for all ages. The Food – as you would expect – there is literally tons… from a vast buffet restaurant to burger bars, fine dining and raw and vegan options to an augmented reality experience, this liner has them all. I have to admit my preconceptions of cruising have been well and truly blown out of the water. I would never have considered a family cruise before my Celebrity Edge trip but I keep finding myself browsing their website, checking out all the different options for this summer. It is now very firmly on my holiday wish list. Loving the sound of their Scandinavia & Russia cruise. Dip in the Martini glass hot tub anyone?

celebrity cruise edge celebrity cruise inside

14-night Northern European cruise from £1,399 p/p celebritycruises.com/edge

Emily headed to Kos

emily kos

ludicrously early flight from Stansted and we walked into the airy open plan space of Ikos Aria, the latest addition to the Ikos collection in time for lunch. Oversized basket chairs, squishy white cotton cushions asking to be sat in, a glorious view over a parasol-lined pool to a glimpse of white beach and the deep blue of the sea beyond. It oozes pared down, Mediterranean style. Ikos, the sister resort group to the superlative Sani in Halkidiki, is quietly revolutionising the all-inclusive model. Everything in this heavenly place is included in your holiday price, even down to a day’s car hire in a funky new Mini to explore the island. There are eight restaurants – from breakfast buffets to satisfy the most discerning kid to candlelit Greek dinner à la carte on the beach. Wine lists are extensive. Cocktails delicious. And, best of all, they have a partnership with carefully selected restaurants on the island. Utterly scrumptious dinner at an authentic taverna in Kos town is, yup, included. Bedrooms are spacious and airy with spoiling Anne Semonin products. (Treatments at the spa are the only thing that is extra.) 3 pools, 2 beaches, they even run to their own Greek ruins to scramble over and there is a picture-postcard Mamma Mia chapel on a tiny island you can wade out to. Worldwide Kids run complimentary kids’ clubs from 4 months+ (make sure you book a space when you make your reservation as they get booked up). Older children have a varied programme that includes use of the fab sports club (tennis, volleyball), paddle boarding and kayaking. You can relax, swim, borrow a bike and explore, or just reconnect with your family in this heavenly place. I didn’t want to leave. 

ikos aria new 2019 ikos aria 2019 chairs

7 nights from £1,368 p/p all-inclusive with Sovereign Luxury Travel incl flights & t/fers. sovereign.com