We’ve got even more amazing ideas on how to make your holiday different…
Don your apron in AndaluciaMaster the art of Spanish food and drink with Annie B’s Tapas and Sherry Academy. Join chef and Sherry Educator Annie B at her cookery school in the pretty Andalucían Vejer de la Frontera to participate in one of two hands-on Spanish cooking classes. These coincide with tapas festivals in the local town of Zahara los Atunes and include a day tapas tasting at the Ruta de Tapas of Atun Rojo (Tuna, May departure) and Ruta de Tapas de Retinto (local beef cattle, September departure).
You’ll get to know how to make tasty tapas through day classes, market trips and evening bodega and bar visits. Indulging in all the local and seasonal produce, this holiday allows aspiring chefs to immerse themselves in creating flavour-filled menus and later eating the fruits of their labour. Dishes include quick cook tapas like salmorejo, oranges & salt cod, and gambas ajillo; fish dishes including Pulpo a la Gallega, clams with jamon, and mussels with chorizo; slow cooked Andalucian dishes of Rabo de Toro (ox-tail) and Carrillada (beef or pork cheeks); as well as a session on mastering a traditional paella. Staying at El Califa hotel within walking distance of Annie’s kitchen, guests will also have a free day to enjoy the Andalucían culture and relax in the sunshine.
How: From £1,470pp including 7 nights’ B&B, most meals, all classes, and all escorted visits with transport with Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen (0034 620 560 649 anniebspain.com). Departure dates: 11 May & 21 September 2015. Flights and transfers are extra: Ryanair flies from Stansted to Jerez.
Hone your sailing skills in the CaribbeanIf you fancy hoisting anchor somewhere a bit more sunny than off the British coast, get ready for a sailing holiday with a difference. The 60 tiny emerald islands and cays of the BVI are a fairytale landscape of lush green peaks that drop dramatically into blue Caribbean waters. Just 15 of the 60 islands are inhabited; there are no large chain hotels, no buildings taller than a palm tree, no casinos, just long stretches of white sand beaches, independent world-class hotels, private villas and acres of lush vegetation. The BVI is also a playground for sailors; titled the undisputed 'Sailing Capital of the World', the geography of the islands - with the protective Sir Francis Drake Channel - makes for perfect sailing conditions with fair weather and constant winds?
On the largest of the islands, Tortola Sailing School offers an Introduction to Boating course for novice sailors - a five-day, live aboard course, sailing on the turquoise Caribbean waters on yachts of 36-50 feet. Guests have the chance to drop anchor at many of the stunning islands and bays, sampling freshly caught conch at lobster at local restaurants and beach shacks, or sipping on the renowned national drink of the BVI - a Painkiller rum cocktail!
How: Priced at $1695, the week's introduction to barefoot yachting includes accommodation in a private cabin or saloon, breakfast, snacks and lunches, and two evening meals, (three are taken ashore at a local restaurant depending on location), cruising permit, all certification fees, course syllabus paperwork and documentation ? www.tortolasailingschool.com
Take a course of dance lessons in the Caribbean
This dance holiday includes dance tuition provided by professional dancers/tutors from the Ballet Folklorico Cutumba, one of Cuba's top national dance and music companies and uniquely, each participant has their own professional Cuban dance partner for all classes in Salsa, Son, Haitian Merengue, Chachacha, Afro-Cuban rumba/salsa fusion and some pilon. Afternoon dance styling or percussion are also included and cultural visits and homestay accommodation will provide you with a real insight into Cuban life, as well as plenty of free time to explore.
How: From £1295pp (15 days) excluding flights. Includes half board homestay accommodation, dance lessons with professional partner, excursions. visit www.responsibletravel.com/holiday/2691/cuba-dance-holiday or call 01273 823700
Capture some of the most exotic creatures on earth.
Spend seven nights on the Beluga on an exclusive charter with professional photographer David Plummer, visiting some of the more remote islands of the Galapagos archipelago, where the wildlife is prolific and the landscape striking. For the wildlife photographer, there are few places on earth that can rival the Galapagos, which boasts an abundance of colourful creatures that are not afraid of humans. Dancing boobies and chest-puffing frigate birds nest right by the side of walking trails while marine iguanas sunbathe by turquoise seas. You'll also spot penguins, tortoises, rays and even sharks. Little wonder that photographers don't know which way to point their lens!
As you sail from one island to another exploring the wildlife wonders of the Galapagos, David will help you hone your skills behind the lens ensuring you capture the best possible pictures.
How: The 11 day trip departs on 7 October 2015 and costs from £3,550 per person; visit steppestravel.co.uk to book.
Perfect your serve in Provence
Indulge in some court action at a five day Tennis Academy hosted by five star chateau, Lou Casteou. The four-night event will cater for up to 18 guests, on a luxury all-inclusive basis. Tennis sessions, held at a nearby club affiliated with Lou Casteou, will be led by Richie Baker and his experienced team of French and English tennis professionals. Richie is a Level 4 LTA coach, a sports physiotherapist and specialist in musculoskeletal and sports injuries.
On arrival, on Thursday 7th May, lunch will be served and the first tennis session will be held during the afternoon. A champagne reception will be held on Thursday evening followed by the welcome dinner, during which the programme will be discussed and guests? input will be welcomed. Tennis coaching sessions will take place each morning, with singles or doubles played in the afternoons, as preferred by guests and organised by the pros. A tournament will be held on Sunday, followed by a celebratory, closing dinner. The final tennis session will be held on the morning of Monday 11th May, followed by lunch and guest departures.
Tennis coaching sessions will be designed to suit the level and needs of guests and will be followed by a stretching session, swim if so desired and then a delicious lunch served at Lou Casteou. Non-playing partners are also welcome to attend the event and can relax by the heated swimming pool, or visit local beaches and the many cultural and historic attractions the Cote d'Azur has to offer. Local town Frejus holds a Provencal market and the picturesque beaches of Agay and St. Aygulf are a short drive away.
How: The event, which runs from 7 to 11 May 2015, is priced at £1,180 inc.VAT per person, for a private room or £980 inc. VAT per person, for two guests, sharing a room. To book, visit http://www.loucasteou.com/tennis-academy.asp
Learn new, exotic flavours at a Moroccan cookery course
Fancy a touch of spice in your life? Try a cooking workshop at the beautiful La Maison Arabe. Since opening in 1946, La Maison Arabe has achieved a legendary status in Marrakech; ideally situated in the medina, the hotel includes 26 rooms and suites, most with private terraces and fireplaces, three restaurants, a piano bar, a world-famous cookery school, as well as a new spa including a traditional hammam. The cooking workshops are designed for the amateur and professional alike, conducted by a dada (a traditional Moroccan cook) or a chef from the hotel's Moroccan restaurant. Small groups (a maximum of ten) work alongside a translator (Arabic/English/French), using easy-to-use modern equipment found in everyday kitchens.
At the end of each workshop, participants dine on the meal they have prepared - this could include a traditional pastille, tagine or couscous dish. At a typical half-day workshop, a participant would learn to prepare an appetizer and a main dish, or a main dish and dessert. Wine lovers can enjoy optional Moroccan wine pairings to accompany the various courses (extra cost). There are two cooking workshops per day - morning (10:00-14:00) and afternoon (15:00-19:00).
How: A four night stay at La Maison Arabe with Prestige Holidays (01425 480400, www.prestigeholidays.co.uk) departing on 29 June 2015 costs from £466 per person, based on two adults sharing a standard room including: a half day cookery course, return flights from London Stansted with Rynair, accommodation on BB basis with private transfers.
Immerse yourself in the land of the rising sun
Go on a journey to the heart of Japan with the 11-day Nakaesendo Way tour. Established around the 8th century, the Nakasendo is an ancient highway that stretches 310 miles through the heart of Japan's main island of Honshu, linking the country's major cities of Tokyo and Kyoto. From Kyoto, it passed along Lake Biwa, over the mountains at Sekigahara, across the plains north of present-day Nagoya, close to the southern Japanese Alps, across the plain between Matsumoto and Karuisawa, and down to the Kanto plain which surrounds present-day Tokyo.
The Nakasendo Way had its heyday in 17th century when it was crowded with travellers, including feudal lords, samurai, itinerant merchants and pilgrims. Now largely forgotten and quiet, the road provides a pleasant path through scenic countryside and, also, the history of Japan. Along the way, guests can take part in traditional Japanese customs, such as woodblock painting, tea ceremonies, or pottery making and will stay in traditional Japanese inns, or ryokan.
How: Prices start at £1,617 per person (JPY278,000) for the Nakasendo Way tour and include six nights' accommodation, six breakfasts and six evening meals; travel from the tour starting point to finishing point. Flights are not included.
Here's how to make your experience even more authentic
Trip4real is a new online travel site that allows anyone to create their own local experiences and tours in their home towns and cities - which you can then participate in. Already a big success in Spain, they have now launched in London, Rome, Lisbon, Paris and other cities. Some examples of the learning experiences currently listed include: learn to surf in Lisbon with a local surfer, Bollywood dance classes in Lisbon, learn to DJ with a House DJ in London, learn to fly fish in London's rivers, learn flamenco percussion in Barcelona, and beginner's Spanish in Barcelona.
How: visit trip4real.com
GoCambio.com is a brand new, fee-free website which brings people together as host and guest. It?s a place where you can exchange your language for a free stay in a Cambio host?s home or, alternatively, open your doors to a GoCambio guest in return for them sharing their language or skill with you and your family. GoCambio aims to connect millions of people all over the world wanting to learn or improve on a language ? or even a skill ? they?re learning, with the millions who travel in search of unique and independent experiences.
Cambioing isn?t anything like traditional language lessons or learning in a classroom. You could be taken by your host out shopping, help them cook dinner or just go for a walk around their home town. In the process you?ll learn the language in the same natural, easy-going way that native speakers learn it. So it?s an exchange between new-found friends!
You can check potential Hosts and Guests through the verification system. Once you?ve signed up you can also check their references and reviews on the site, even connect with them through Facebook and Skype, so Hosts know who?s coming to stay and Guests know who they?re going to stay with.
How: visit www.gocambio.com to register as a guest or a host.
Indulge in la dolce vita in a Tuscan kitchen
L'Andana, located in the heart of the Tuscan Maremma, offers a very special experience for foodies. Trattoria Toscana, the only Alain Ducasse restaurant in Italy, organises a variety of cookery classes held by the Chef's team to suit every guest. Whether you want to improve your basis cooking skills, experiment with some traditional Tuscan recipes or enjoy a course as a family, there's something for everyone to learn in the kitchen. Each lesson lasts for 2 hours and is followed by lunch or dinner with the dishes prepared during the course.
How: Prices per course start from £90 for children and £180 for adults. L'Andana will reopen for the summer season on 24th April 2015. For more information, visit www.andana.it
Why not get the whole family learning to sail?
Complete novices, from the age of 6 up, are welcome on Wildwind's learning holiday, which combines lessons in the tranquil bay of Vassiliki on the charming Ionian island of Lefkas, with other water sports. The highly experienced instructors tailor lessons to you, on easy-to-handle crafts, in the mornings when the wind is more gentle. In the afternoons, you can be taken for a sail to see what the boats are truly capable of!
In between lessons, you can try stand-up paddle boarding or windsurfing, or if you want to upgrade to the Wildwind Adventure's programme, you'll have the opportunity to try sea kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving, and even mountain biking. If you want to explore beyond the island, Wildwind offers a sea safari to the nearby islands of Ithaca and Kefalonia, stopping off at some of their most stunning beaches.
How: Prices start from £695pp based on two sharing, and include seven nights' beach-front accommodation, flights from London, transfers, sailing and tuition, taster stand-up paddle boarding and windsurfing sessions, instructors and equipment. Departures from May to September 2015. To book, call Wildwind on 0844 499 2898 or visit wildwind.co.uk.
It's the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's charming children's story - so treat yourself to a magical house in BrightonEveryone remembers the story of Alice, the little girl who grew bigger,
then smaller (or was it the other way around?!), and met some very
interesting characters along the way. Lewis Carroll's seminal tale is
150 years old this year, so why not treat yourself to a stay in an Alice
in Wonderland themed house?
This amazing house, in Brighton's
Kemptown district, has stunning sea views and is arranged over 5 floors
with 6 exciting, individually designed bedrooms to discover - meaning it
can sleep up to 24. There are 3 shower rooms, a further WC and two
kitchens. The dining room is set up for the ultimate Mad Hatter's tea
party with an extremely long enchanted table, chequerboard floor, teacup
stools and an over-scale high backed chair at the head for the guest of
honour. Every corner hides a reference to Lewis Carroll's tales. The
location is perfect, right by the seafront in the area of town known as
Kemptown. Everything is walking distance and Proud Caberet (a must for
hen parties) is just a few streets away. It's perfect for larger groups
wanting to access the best of Brighton and enjoy luxury touches in
somewhere truly extra special.
How: To book, visit http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/rentals/brighton-town/544084. Cost starts from £400 per night