Fleewinter Blog

Whether you are searching for travel inspiration, or doing a bit of pre-holiday prep, it's always good to hear from those in the know! Our dedicated team of Country Specialists, who have travelled extensively (or even lived) in their destinations, have written a number of blog posts offering travel insights, expert tips and lashings of advice.

Festive Traditions Around The World

 

Festive celebrations are wonderfully varied across the globe – at home in the UK we know Christmastime best, but we would love to introduce you to some of the most joyous holidays across our beautiful destinations.

From the exuberant Chilean tradition of sledding down a hill strapped to banana tree trunks during Tapati, to the respectful Elephant festivals of Laos.  The flamboyant three-month celebrations in Barbados, and the Cherry Blossom festival in Japan. There is a celebration of people, nature and beautiful surroundings every month of the year.

The Fleewinter team are thrilled to share some of our favourites with you here. Get in touch with the team to learn more and get involved with these traditions for yourself on your next holiday!

Sinulog in the Philippines

Every January the streets of Cebu come alive with colour as performers and partiers celebrate Sinulog, or Santo Nino Festival.

With choirs, dancing and food drink and vibrant costumes galore, Sinulog is the Philippines’ most popular celebration.

Loy Krathong in Thailand

Every year, Loy Krathong falls on the night of the 12th lunar month (usually in November).

Traditionally, Thais release their krathong (floating candles) into rivers and small canals. This is a spectacular sight!

Magha Puja in Laos

If Laos is considered a country of festivals and celebrations, February is the king of all months!

Our favourite festivals this month include the Magha Puja and Wat Phu (full moon celebrations.)

We particularly love the Elephant festival, where more than 50 of these gentle giants bathe with monks and are blessed in a ceremony.

Perahera in Sri Lanka

The Esala Perahera in Kandy takes place in the summer months over 9 days, and is one of the oldest of all the Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, and arguably the most grand. 

It honours and celebrates the sacred Tooth of Buddha, which resides in Kandy. Expect dancing, music, juggling, fire-breathing, and lots of ornately decorated elephants. 

Tet in Vietnam

The Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year) is known as Tet in Vietnam, and it is a huge celebration up and down the country.

Expect to find entire towns filled with red and yellow colours which the Vietnamese believe will bring you good fortune.

The celebrations in Hoi An are renowned, with colourful lanterns and floating candles.

Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan

The cherry blossom festival in Japan is well known all over the world for a reason. Thousands of trees bloom simultaneously, creating one of the most stunning natural spectacles in the world!

The blooming trees symbolize a new beginning, they are fully enjoyed by Japanese people who love to meet under the blooming cherry trees for picnic and foreigners alike.

Kaamatan in Borneo

Kaamatan occurs every May in Borneo and is known throughout Malaysia as the Sabah Harvest Festival.

While it lasts the entire month, the real holiday is two days of celebration with traditional dance, music, competition!

This is a time of great cheer, beautiful clothes, and raucous fun!

Solar Festival in Egypt

Ra, the Sun God, was the most important deity for Ancient Egyptians. The solar festival takes place twice a year in one of the better preserved ancient temples, Abbu Simbel.

This incredible festival uses physics in the most mystical of ways, culminating in a natural light show leaving only Ptah, the God of Creation, illuminated…

Tapati on Easter Island, Chile

In the first half of February, Easter Island celebrates its most famous festival. During Tapati, inhabitants take part in ancestral sports to showcase their physical and artistic abilities.

The most difficult of these endeavours is for the participants to slide down a hill at quite high speed on two trunks of banana tree joined together!

Easter Celebrations, Greece

One of the most important events in the Greek calendar is the week of Easter.

Festivities range from raucous pot-smashing, table-dancing, and letting fireworks off late into the night, to the more traditional baking of sweet breads and dying eggs bright red, which are deeply symbolic.

Celebrations are ongoing for as week, and this is a truly joyous time to be in Greece!

Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda Festival, Myanmar

In September (and sometimes October) a spectacular Buddhist festival at the magical and revered Inle Lake commences.

Boats with up to 50 or 60 ‘leg-rowers’ pull a barge with sacred Buddha images from one village to another on the lake.

The celebrations last for more than 20 days!

Crop Over Festival, Barbados

The Crop Over Festival in Barbados is the biggest national festival in Barbados and one of the most colorful and lively in the Caribbean.

This 3 month long festival is full of music, dance, street food and culture – and has it’s climax on the 1st Monday of August, known as Kadooment day.

This is a full day of party, parades, costumes, and hours and hours of music.

Imilchil Marriage Festival, Morocco

Every year at the end of the summer, young, unmarried men and women gather in a small village of Imilchil. The couples participate in an engagement ceremony and then marry at a later date of their choosing in a private gathering.

Today, most of the couples already know each other but in the past from the age of 18, they would head to the village for the wedding festival in search of their future partners.

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Fleewinter launches CHILE

 

Visit a land of mesmerising deserts, snow capped volcanoes, vast wildernesses and Torres del Paine…

 

From the arid deserts of the north, to the granite peaks of Torres del Paine National Park and the vast landscapes of Patagonia, Chile truly is a destination hard to resist – we think it should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The diversity of scenery and rich cultural heritage of this beautiful country will appeal to all of your senses, so contact our specialist Valeria and immerse yourselves in a completely new experience – especially as it’s quarantine free the time of writing…

Where should you go in Chile?

Chile is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Whether you’re visiting for a week, a month, or even longer, you’ll never run out of new things to see. Val has chosen some of her favourite destinations to offer some inspiration, but as always, your Fleewinter holiday is completely tailored to you.

Torres del Paine and Southern Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park is the jewel in the crown of Chile, and arguably all of South America. One of the continent’s most visited places, here you will witness nature at its most raw and beautiful. Hanging glaciers, turquoise lakes and towering granite horns will conjure the feeling of being at the very end of the world.

Discover Torres del Paine with your family

 

The Atacama Desert and the North

The scenery of the Atacama Desert is truly something to behold! Moon-like landscapes, small villages where timeless traditions live on and some of the world’s best stargazing. The world’s driest desert will surprise you with its sheer force of life, and the ancient culture will envelop you in one of the country’s warmest welcomes.

Visit the Atacama with our 2-week Chile holiday

 

Santiago & the Wine region

Did we say Chilean wine? Yes please! Spend a few days sipping some of the world’s best wines whilst relaxing by the pool, or maybe in the comfort of your room at one of the country’s best wineries. Most are a short drive from Santiago, so you can enjoy a spot of shopping in the cosmopolitan capital, too.

Escape to the Wine Region and Santiago

 

Lakes of Northern Patagonia

Picture a myriad of deep blue lakes dotted amidst verdant forests, snow capped volcanoes, charming villages and friendly inhabitants. Welcome to Chile’s Lake District! This is one of the country’s most scenic destinations. Perfect if you love outdoor activities or simply want to sit back and relax.

Discover Chile’s beautiful Lake District

 

The Carretera Austral

Spanning over 1,000 km of Chilean Patagonia, ‘Route 7’ or more commonly referred to as the Carretera Austral is the best destination if you are looking for an off-the-beaten-track journey. This is the ultimate self-drive experience through the world’s last great wilderness. Pack comfy shoes, lots of layers and a good dose of adventure!

Self-drive the Carretera Austral

 

Easter Island

Imagine a tiny speck of land in the vast, open Pacific Ocean. This is Rapa Nui! One of the most remote places on earth, Easter Island is one of those bucket list destinations, and one that will leave indelible memories in your heart. Although Chilean, the island has a Polynesian soul and a mysticism that will draw you in and leave you fascinated.

Visit the famous Easter Island

 

Some thoughts from our specialist Valeria:

“The best time to travel to Chile… 

…is now! Chile is reopening to international travel and British Airways has now resumed its direct overnight flight to Santiago from London Heathrow. And perhaps most importantly for travellers this year, you do not need to quarantine when returning to the UK.

November to April is the perfect season to visit, offering long warm summer days full of bright sunshine. Make the most of southerly destinations, including Patagonia and Torres del Paine.

If you needed any more persuasion, I’d say every time I travel to Chile I am just stunned by its natural beauty. It makes me feel amazingly small, standing in front of the mighty spectacle of nature. Patagonia especially is simply unique, there’s no other word for it. The vastness of Chile’s landscapes is so awe-inspiring that I have to pinch myself every time I visit! I cannot wait to help plan your trip to this astonishing country.”

Email: valeria@fleewinter.com

Quarantine-Free Winter Sun

Where to go for Quarantine-Free Winter Sun

It's a distinctly grey day and quite frankly we'd rather be somewhere warm and sunny!

With that in mind, the Fleewinter specialists are genuinely delighted to be able to offer the following destinations to those in search of some much-needed winter sun right now, all with no quarantine on return to the UK. There are also some amazing flight deals available at the moment, with less than half price to some long haul destinations... there's never been a better time to book.

Our experts are fully up to date with entry requirements, restrictions and the changing situations in their destinations. Should circumstances change, we are just a phone call away.

So without further ado, here are our quarantine-free winter sun top picks for 2020!

quarantine free winter sun

Cuba

One of the safest countries to travel to during this pandemic, Cuba has just opened its borders! Take advantage of the amazing deals available this month, and enjoy the rare sight of quiet Caribbean beaches.

Combine your stay on the beach of Varadero with a few nights in Havana and experience the vibrant city life, full of salsa and mojitos. Take a tour in an American vintage car or cycle around on E-bikes.

Starting from £1000 per person, and including 4 nights in Vardero and 3 nights in Havana plus transfers, this itinerary also takes in a couple of amazing tours whilst in Havana.

The cherry on this Cuban cake; Virgin flights are presently less than half the usual price from London! So what are you waiting for? Contact Gosia and Barbara, who would be thrilled to help you plan your Cuban culture adventure.

Barbados

The jewel of the Caribbean, Barbados is welcoming guests with some caution and there is a quarantine required on arrival - but don't worry: this is most luxurious isolation ever.

The Fleewinter Barbados team will arrange for your villa to be fully stocked and we can even provide pre-cooked meals on request, leaving you free to sunbathe in the garden, finally finish that novel and enjoy the relaxed pace of island life.

You'll need to take a couple of PCR tests, which if timed correctly keeps your island quarantine to just 2 days. Perfect time to get over the jet lag, and then you are free to fully enjoy the turquoise waters and exquisite white sand beaches of this Caribbean paradise. And as with all destinations listed here - no quarantine to worry about when you get back home.

Contact Lynn and Alba to plan your island retreat.

quarantine free winter sun

Madeira

The ‘Garden Island’ of Madeira is a lush subtropical paradise like no other, making for a wonderful year-round holiday destination. And perfect for some quarantine free winter sun. Enjoy stunning natural scenery - from jagged cliffs and lush forests to delightful flower gardens and beaches boasting some of the best whale-watching in the world.

We'd choose as stay in the village of Ponta do Sol, just 30 minutes from the capital Funchal, and the sunniest spot of the island. Perched high on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic is the boutique hotel Estalagem Ponta do Sol, currently available from £475 per person for a 7-night stay. Or opt for a home-from-home in a self-catering villa such as Seacrest Villa.

Proof of a negative PCR test is required on arrival, and you must complete a Travel Authorization Form - and that's it.

Let Sarah make your Madeira winter dreams a reality.

quarantine free winter sun

Maldives

The glorious Maldives welcomes visitors with open arms, and December to February brings the very best weather. You can expect hot sunshine but low humidity. Choose your perfect island and settle in for a week or more in pure luxury at the best prices we've ever seen in the region.

Coco Bodu Hithi is a personal favourite of ours, with a serene atmosphere and charming island villas, available from £1,746 per person for a 7 night stay. Or if an overwater villa is a 'bucket list' item for you, this is certainly the time to make that dream a reality. The exquisite 5* villas at Anantara Veli are available from just £1,833 for a week.

You'll need to provide proof of a negative PCR test and complete a form to enter, but that's it. Contact our specialist Carly to discuss which of the 120+ private islands is just the right fit for you.

St Lucia

End the year in style and have a romantic, all-inclusive Christmas at a 5-star (adult-only) boutique hotel such as the Calabash Cove Resort & Spa.

We're talking meals of course - and it's lobster season over Christmas - but also premium brand drinks, Prosecco for breakfast, room service, in-room bar stocked with full-size bottles, WIFI and tips - a true fly and flop option, from £2998 per person.

You'll need a negative PCR test to enter St Lucia, but that's where your worries end. Speak to Daphne to arrange your luxurious Caribbean break.

Tenerife

Winter is tough for all of us. The lack of sunlight takes its toll on our mental and physical health in a regular year, but add in a global pandemic, and we could all do with some post lockdown rejuvenation.

Re-opening on the 1st of January, the Oceano Hotel Health Spa in Tenerife is the perfect place to start 2021 off the right way! A world away from the busy resorts, it is in prime location directly by the sea. The island’s mild year-round climate, the healing power of the nature, and the healthy OCÉANO balanced cuisine will naturally boost relaxation. The 7 night Relaxing Thalasso Escape is just what you need to get you back on track. From £1300 per person.

Proof of a negative PCR test is required on arrival and you must complete and submit a Travel Authorization Form. Sarah is our Spa and Wellness expert, and can offer some fantastic ideas to help start your 2021.

All restrictions are correct at the time of writing, but change is always possible. Please contact your Fleewinter specialist for the most up to date information and support.

The above rates are indicative and exclude all flights (unless otherwise stated), and are subject to availability, exchange rates and specific Ts&Cs. Flights are bookable (admin fees apply), fully protected, through Fleewinter.

Best wishes,

The Fleewinter Team!

quarantine free winter sun

Our 6 Top Tips: Travel with Confidence during the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

We’ve noticed a strong theme in recent conversations with our clients.  Many of you are unsure about travelling during COVID-19. With this in mind, we’ve put together some tips and information to help you stay safe, be well-prepared, and travel with confidence.

1. BOOK THROUGH A TOUR OPERATOR

To save yourself the worry of keeping up to date with rapidly changing circumstances, we suggest you book with a tour operator like Fleewinter.

A dedicated country consultant will be keeping a close eye on their destination, ready to advise you as quickly as possible should the situation change. It would be remiss of us to say that the travel situation will not fluctuate. We are living in extremely transient times and each day brings new information – so let a specialist help, allowing you to relax.

2. WHAT IS “COVID COMPLIANT?”

The new buzz-phrase in travel, but what does it actually mean?

A ‘Covid Compliant’ hotel has implemented all health and safety and social distancing advice issued by their government, and can give a clear outline of changes made.

We only recommend hotels we know personally. Their staff are our friends as much as our colleagues – we trust that they will not only provide an excellent service, but do everything possible to support safe travelling during COVID-19.

3. PRIVATE TRAVEL

Our team of experts can help arrange private cars, boats, tours and much more.

Whether you would like to spend a week aboard a luxury yacht, relax at a villa taking advantage of private beach access, or perhaps delight in some great food and wine, we are available with genuine, accurate advice.

Visit a land of lakes, or learn about Croatian history, away from the crowds.

4. VAMOOS- IT’S FREE!

If you’ve travelled with us before, you’ll know about Vamoos. The travel app to streamline your travel experience, Vamoos keeps all documents, maps and guides in one place (removing the need to print and handle hard copies), we can add new documents where needed and – of course – it allows your consultant to keep you immediately up to date, sending push notifications if something changes.

A new feature of Vamoos this year is the ability to message your consultant 24/7. We hope this will bring you peace of mind and a rightful sense of security about travelling during COVID-19.

5. SECURE THE RIGHT INSURANCE

Travel Insurance has been a hot topic.

Several companies are now offering a ‘Covid-19 Protection’ clause, which covers cancellation as well as medical care – so you can book with confidence. It is also possible to organise insurance even if there is FCO advice against non-essential travel.

Make sure you speak to your provider and ask about the policies they can offer, and the extent of cover available. We are here to help too.

6. DON’T FRET ABOUT THE HEADLINES

It can be alarming when guidance or rules suddenly change. However, do note that on the same day the quarantine announcement about Belgium, the Bahamas and Andorra was made, returning quarantine rules for Malaysia and Brunei were relaxed.

The situation is constantly shifting so use our team – they are in careful contact with their destinations, working closely with locals to bring you the most timely details.

Advice and guidance for travelling to the rest of the world is refreshed every day, and we do recommend keeping and eye on the FCO website which is always the most recent information.

Our whole team of experts are all still here for you, keeping you informed. Browse the Fleewinter website or just call us on 0207 112 0019 to speak to any of our specialists about their destinations. You can plan now, and be ready to travel later – confidently!

Best wishes and happy planning!

The Team @ Fleewinter

Post-Covid Travel to Croatia

The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on many countries around the world but some had a better handle on it than others, Croatia is one of them. Croatia enforced some of Europe’s strictest measures to contain the virus and it paid off with one of the lowest rates of infection in Europe.

Croatia opened up its borders in May and as of the 1st July travellers from the UK were allowed to enter without restrictions. Followed by the UK Government giving Croatia the green light on Friday 3rd July. Meaning that from 10th of July UK holidaymakers travelling to Croatia can return to the UK without the mandatory 14-day quarantine imposed on all inbound arrivals and exempt from the FCO warning against all but non-essential travel. For more info, visit Gov.uk

Hurrah! The glistening Adriatic Coast and Croatia’s natural and historic beauty are no longer a distant dream.

Are there any restrictions when travelling to Croatia?

No. Previous requirements, such as providing the purpose of your trip on entry in Croatia, have now been lifted. There is no need to self-isolate on arrival and you can travel freely throughout the country.

Travellers entering Croatia via the borders should fill in the entry form, available here and valid for 90 days.

Masks are mandatory on public transport, including local ferries, so do be prepared with protection.

What can I expect

Bars, restaurants and cafes are opened to the public, as are national parks and beaches and local transport, including ferries. The hotels we partner with are implementing the latest guidance from WHO and the Croatian Institute for Public Health. Buffets have been replaced with individual sit down meals and all facilities are open. Our drivers and guides are ensuring social distancing is maintained and that cars and equipment are regularly sanitised.

Why travel to Croatia with Fleewinter

  • Private transfers and tours mean you can experience the culture, history and natural beauty of Croatia safely.
  • We have hand-selected smaller boutique and luxury properties with attentive service, so your wellbeing comes first.
  • We have personally visited the properties we work with and have direct relationships with our partners.
  • You benefit from a dedicated destination specialist
  • Our holidays are ABTA and ATOL protected.

Written by: Aislinn O’Neill
Croatia Destination Specialist

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