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Edinburgh Voted Top City in the UK in Conde Nast Readers’ Travel Awards

The Conde Nast magazine portfolio is one of the most prestigious collections of household names, including, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and GQ. Its travel magazine, the Conde Nast Traveller, rates some of the most luxurious and esteemed holiday destinations and accommodations in the world, the results of which culminate in the annual awards events such as the Readers’ Travel Awards.

This year, Turkey came out on top as the overall winner, followed closely by Egypt and Australia in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. In the UK category however, it was Edinburgh which beat off tough competition from London and Liverpool to claim the award for best UK city.

The scoring system is based on “an index of satisfaction with travel facilities and services, scored out of a maximum of 100.” Edinburgh received extremely high marks across the board, most notably in areas such as aesthetics and architecture (93.72), as well as user-friendliness (90.46).

Edinburgh has improved on last year’s performance, when it came 2nd in the same competition. The accolade is not the first time the city has been recognised for its superior visitor experience; in 2008, the capital was named as one of the world’s top 10 cities by travel magazine Wanderlust, and has been voted as the UK’s favourite city break by Guardian/Observer readers for 10 years running.

The only other Scottish city to appear in the top 10 was Glasgow, coming in at number 5. Within top 15 UK business hotel category, the only non-London hotel in the winning bunch was The Balmoral in Edinburgh, a further testament to the esteem in which this glorious city is held.

With a veritable mix of cultural, culinary, and visual splendour, the city’s art galleries, top drawer restaurants, vibrant night-life, and luxury hotels in Edinburgh city centre, it is no wonder it appeals to so many cross sections of society.

The current Edinburgh marketing campaign, ‘This is My Edinburgh’, features a real-life mix of Edinburgh residents and their perspective of their home-town. With the release of the Conde Nast Readers Travel Awards, they have one more aspect to be proud of.

London Named World Destination of the Year at the World Travel Awards

Considerably, on the fifth consecutive occasion, London has been chosen as the ‘World’s Leading Destination’ at the high-prestige ‘World Travel Awards (WTA)’. Although there was a stiff competition between the world’s so-called top-notch hospitable cities including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and Sydney, the British capital amazingly bagged the award at the end. London’s accolade follows the last month’s phenomenal news that Britain is the world’s fourth most admired country, lagging behind the USA, Germany and France.

In the beginning of the year, tourist arrivals in the metropolis rose to 27 million, thanks to a few prominent events, which saw an influx of international tourists as well as to the excitement builds before the 2012 Olympics. In addition, the capital boasts arrays of world class tourist venues which spellbind visitors all around the year. Not to forget, Christmas which every year sees flocks of people from all around struggling to find accommodation in jam-packed London.

World Travel Awards is the biggest and the most prestigious awards programme in the world of travel industry. WTA rummages around excellence across every sector of the international travel and tourism industry and picks out only the elites from the widespread industry. Also known as “The Oscars of the Travel Industry “, the World Travel Awards is the supreme travel accolade. From last 17 years, WTA is constantly in action to elevate the standards of customer service and the travel industry’s overall performance.

After a substantial year-long hunt, the World Travel Awards settled on their award winners and honoured all the frontrunners in the capital’s Grosvenor House hotel in the spectacular Grand Final Ceremony. A few hotel groups having UK properties including the InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, JW Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, von Essen and Ritz Carlton were also awarded at the programme.

Without doubt, the World Travel Awards has escalated London’s prominence in the world travel and tourism industry by honouring it yet again. Even if the capital has owned numerous influential awards so far, this award has its unique importance.

Cape Town – The 3rd Best City in the World

Vibrant, diverse, colourful and captivating are just some of the adjectives that describe this beautiful city. Set at the edge of the cold Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Cape Floral Kingdom (a World Heritage Site) and adorned with a world-renowned landmark, Table Mountain, Cape Town offers visitors and locals a multifaceted experience. Its not surprising then that Cape Town has been awarded so many accolades:

· 3rd Best City In The World – US Travel And Leisure July 2008

· Best City In Africa & Middle East – US Travel And Leisure July 2008

· 4th Top City In The World – Conde Nast Readers’ Choice October 2008

· Best City In Africa & Middle East – Conde Nast Readers’ Choice October 2008

· 3rd Best City In The Top 10 World Food Cities – Lonely Planet Blue List 2008

· Best Destination, Africa – World Travel Awards May 2008

· Best City To Live In, Africa & Middle East – Mercer Quality Of Living Survey 2008

· One Of The “Places Of A Lifetime” – National Geographic Traveler, July 2008

· One Of The World’s Most Sustainable Cities – Ethisphere Institute, Sept 2008

· Boulder’s Beach: World’s Best Family Beach – UK Telegraph March 2007

· Cleanest City In SA – DEAT Annual Cleanest Metro Awards March 2007

· #1 Uk Long Haul Destination – UK Trends And Spends Survey 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007

· One Of The World’s 5 Bluest Sky Destinations – Expedia.co.uk July 2006

· Favourite Foreign City – UK Telegraph 2004, 2005

· Ideal Travel Destination – Markinor-Sunday Times Top Brands Survey 2005

· Africa’s Leading Destination – World Travel Awards 2008

· Best Tourism Investor City of the Year – AI Tourism Investor Awards 2009

Cape Town offers a diverse menu for everyone: from extreme outdoor adventure activities to the quiet indoors, from budget backpacker accommodation to ultimate 6 star luxury, from cultural to theatrical entertainment and vast gastronomic experiences accompanied by some of the best wines in the world. Cape Town is a destination that for a traveller requires an absolute minimum of 3 nights stay to be able to grasp its diversity.

Cape Town is a popular venue for many international sports events such as the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Race (109km road race), Two Oceans Marathon (56km), the start of the ABSA Cape Epic Mountain Bike Challenge (800km over 8 days with approx 16 000m of climbing!) and the start of the biannual Cape to Rio Yacht Race. Cape Town hosted the 2005 Rugby World Cup and 2003 ICC Cricket World Cup. Cape Town is also host to the 2010 FIFA World Cup taking place from 11 June to 11 July 2010. South Africans in general are great sport enthusiasts and Capetonians certainly play their part in this role.

Generally Capetonians are known by the locals of other South African cities to be very laid back and easy going. Compared to the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg for instance where life is upbeat, fast and social, things happen in order and on time. Well, mostly, we need to keep in mind that this is Africa after all! All in all, South Africans are known to be very friendly and welcome travellers from all over the world.

Cape Town is an excellent gateway to the rest of southern Africa and a visit here can be combined with world-renowned wildlife safari destinations such as Sabi Sands Game Reserve west of the Kruger National Park, the Okavango Delta in Botswana or the malaria free Eastern Cape game reserves. Amongst other travel options to combine with your visit to Cape Town is a desert wilderness experience in Namibia or a luxury tropical beach experience in Mozambique.

Having travelled extensively all over southern, east and north Africa and abroad (mostly Europe) I made my home in Cape Town. A home in a city I am very proud of and don’t intend leaving at any cost at this stage of my life.

Cuba Hotel Awards – A Way Through Excellence

Looking for more than good-value hotels in Cuba? Discover a selection of Cuba hotels that have received several prizes and awards, granted by international tour operators and tourism specialists. These leading facilities could be a fine choice for your perfect Cuba holiday or vacation if you trust well-known experts’ criteria.

One of the most prestigious lists of the best hotels worldwide is The Gold List of Condé Nast Traveler. This annual list includes a selection of the hotels around the world that have the best service, rooms, food, ambiance and design, location and leisure facilities. The Saratoga hotel, an Old Havana hotel, received a high rating in the readers’ travel awards 2006 survey, since it was at 24 in the hot list 2006 of the 60 best new hotels in the world within the category “Best for Ambiance/Design”. You can find this distinguished facility in a prime location opposite the Capitol at Havana City. Art lovers will appreciate the Cuban art in all the public spaces of the property and the “mélange” of colonial and contemporary styles at bedrooms and lounges.

If you look further examples of hotel excellence then you should consider theWorld Travel Awards, voted by travel agents worldwide. They were established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate the achievements in all sectors of the global travel industry. These awards are regarded as the “Oscars” of the tourism industry by The Wall Street Journal. Cuba hotels winners at 2007 and 2008 were Hotel Nacional de Cuba as Cuba’s Leading Hotel and Sandals Royal Hicacos Resort & Spa was the Leading Resort. A classy Cuban hotel at the Cuban capitol city and a gorgeous beach resort in one of the best beaches of the island and of the Caribbean, these are the choices of tens of thousands of travel experts, such as travel agents and other travel professionals.

Also Thomas Cook, one of the most important tour operators in the world, recently accorded its Marque of Excellence Award to hotel Paradisus Rio de Oro Resort & Spa, a hotel which received several important prizes in 2008. For those seeking blissful vacations, here you will find a piece of your own paradise. This elegant hotel, located right alongside Playa Esmeralda beach in the province of Holguin, has received for the fifth time the Marque of Excellence Award (2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008) due to the quality ratings granted by clients. Since it is a 5-star Ultra All-Inclusive hotel that was conceived for adults over 18 years, it is more suitable for romantic getaways, weddings, honeymoons, events and vacations with group of friends.

Plus, Trip Advisor, the largest travel destinations and tips guide in the Web, granted this hotel in Cuba two Travelers Choice 2008 Awards (The Best All-Inclusive in the World and the Most Romantic Hotel in Latin America and the Caribbean). These popular distinctions in the tourist industry represent the views of millions of travelers that have selected this hotel for its outstanding service.

Moreover, Paradisus Río de Oro hotel received the Gold Medal 2008 Award accorded by clients of First Choice, the leading British wholesale company. Also in 2006, the Paradisus Rio de Oro was awarded the Travelers’ Choice Prize in the category of Most Outstanding Hidden Jewels of the Caribbean. Want a better reason to go there in your next Cuba vacations?

If you prefer more responsible and ecologic hotels then you should try Brisas Guardalavaca. This Cuba hotel has won the important award “Green Planet Award” presented by the European Tour Operator Kuoni. This distinction is given to the hotels contracted by this tour operator with relevant results in terms of Environmental Care. This facility has also received the National Basic Environmental Award presented by the Ministry of Technology and Environment in Cuba. So if your catchphrase is “a better and a greener world is possible” then you should consider Brisas Guardalavaca in the top of your Cuba hotels choices.

Also for environment enthusiasts there is a fine resort at Varadero beach, the Iberostar Tainos hotel, which has won an Environmental Hotel Award in 2004/05. Singles, couples and families will appreciate the good four-star value of this recently built hotel, set on a beautiful stretch of beach surrounded by tropical gardens.

Other Cuba hotels have won international distinctions like Meliá Las Antillas, which was awarded the Primo Neckermann Reisen 2008 Award thanks to the rankings given by clients of the important German tour operator Neckermann, part of Thomas Cook group. This property ranked among the 100 best and most popular hotels in the world in 2008! So if you want to experience a truly unforgettable holiday you should look after this offer, an All-Inclusive Superior 4-star resort especially recommended for weddings, honeymoons, tourist groups and circuits.

Also the magnificent hotel Paradisus Princesa del Mar was granted the Marque of Excellence Award 2007 by leading tour operator Thomas Cook, in recognition of the hotel’s high service standards and quality of its accommodations. What’s important about this award is that clients are the ones who assess the hotels by responding to Thomas Cook’s satisfaction polls, which measure the service, facilities and quality of the accommodations. It is conceived for adults aged 18 and over and it is highly recommended for those who want to spend some time in romantic environments with extraordinary scenic views and total privacy.

Deciding for any holiday is not an easy thing and planning where to stay is sometimes one of the most stressful parts of planning a vacation. So be a wise traveler and follow the expert’s opinion on your next retreats in Cuba.

Use Credit Card Rewards To Travel The World For Free

Credit card issuers are finding it more and more difficult to compete for the business of you the consumer in recent years. To combat that rising difficulty, many issuers are offering rewards for using their card. These offers range from something as simple as lower interest rates to cash back bonuses to low or no annual fees to the ever popular airline mileage cards. When you put your mind to it, you can use credit card rewards to earn world travel and great discounts, and possibly even free.

With credit cards that offer free airline miles, free hotel stays, free entertainment and sports, and free gas cards, you could actually go on vacation virtually free of charge. With so many different cards offering so many different types of rewards, cardholders often fly free, eat free, stay in hotels free, and rent cars free of charge. Many business owners reap the benefits of the credit card rewards at a greater rate because they are able to use the rewards from their business purchases as well as their personal purchases.

The most popular of the rewards cards is the airline mile reward cards. Different issuing companies handle the rewards differently, but some will offer mile for mile rewards on airline tickets purchased and some will offer 1 reward point for every dollar spent. It will likely take a larger amount of reward points to purchase an airline ticket on this type of card, but this type is very popular among US consumers. Another popular reward card for travelers is the gas reward card which is gaining popularity because of the rising cost of gas. The other card that has seen a steady gain in popularity is the cash back bonus award cards. They offer a small percentage of every purchase paid back to you in the form of credit on your account, credit with certain merchants, or a check paid to you. All of these types of rewards cards are popular with world travelers because they are rewards that can be used on world travels.

The availability of rewards points per purchase can vary from card to card. Using credit card rewards to earn world travel can be a tricky situation. The airline mileage rewards are usually subject to blackout dates or other restrictions. Other rewards cards are subject to terms and conditions and their rewards may not be available overseas. Rewards from gas cards that include free gas may not be available outside the continental United States. Cards that offer free restaurant visits for rewards may only be available at restaurants on a specified list that may not include a restaurant in the area you are visiting. In order to make sure that your rewards can be used where you are wanting to use them, you should always check with your credit card issuer and make sure of the availability.

If you are a common credit card user and you have the right type of rewards program on your credit card, it could be easy for you to use credit card rewards to earn world travel.