Here's how the main travel insurance providers are reacting to travel

Some countries hope to open up to tourists this summer, but travel insurance could be tricky – here’s how the main providers are reacting

  • Saga has made it plain that new policies will not cover Covid-19 or any mutation
  • Travel insurance of any kind is currently not being offered by provider, Aviva  
  • European Health Insurance Card allows you state-provided medical treatment

The mention of ‘travel bubbles’ across Europe, and countries such as Greece hoping to reopen to holidaymakers later this summer, keeps hopes of a sunshine break alive. But there’s a big sticking point — travel insurance.

Whatever your age, it is impossible to renew or take out a travel insurance policy which will cover you during the ongoing pandemic. This is because Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice to British nationals is to avoid all but essential international travel indefinitely.

Until this changes, any travel we take would be at our own risk — a big gamble, particularly if you’re older and vulnerable to illness. So how are the main travel insurance providers reacting? Is there any wiggle room?

Saga

The mention of ‘travel bubbles’ across Europe keeps hopes of a sunshine break alive. But there’s a big sticking point — travel insurance

The specialist in travel for the over-50s has made it plain that new policies will not cover Covid-19 or any mutation of it, although it will assist with repatriation to the UK.

If you’re an existing customer, any policies renewed after April 17 exclude coronavirus cover. If you travel anyway and have a non-coronavirus related issue, then medical cover of up to £10 million is still offered as well as SAFI (Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance) cover. 

This means you’ll get your ticket reimbursed if your airline goes into administration before you fly or while you’re on holiday. The cost of your repatriation is also covered. (saga.co.uk)

Insurewith

Existing customers will be covered for medical treatment and expenses if they contract Covid-19 while overseas, but only once borders have reopened and the current FCO advice has changed from advising against all travel abroad.

Any policies bought after March 13 with Insurewith do provide cover for medical costs but, crucially, this doesn’t include cancellations or abandoned holiday claims related to the coronavirus.

There’s a crumb of good news for Insurewith’s premium customers with Sapphire and Platinum policies. These include an End Supplier Failure clause which means customers can make a claim if the airline or hotel they’re booked with goes out of business, even if this is as a direct result of Covid-19. (insurancewith.com)

Aviva

Travel insurance of any kind (either single trip or annual multi-trip) is not being offered to new customers.

Existing customers will be able to renew their annual policies and keep Aviva’s optional Travel Disruption and Airspace Closure covers if they had them on their policies already.

While the FCO advice remains in place, if customers book a fresh trip now, they will not be covered for any cancellation costs. (aviva.co.uk)

Admiral

No new travel insurance policies are being offered.

For existing customers wishing to renew a policy, there’s now a general rule which excludes any claim which is caused by or resulting from coronavirus. This also includes claims arising from the fear or threat of covid. This doesn’t apply for renewing customers with trips booked prior to March 17.

Whatever your age, it is impossible to renew or take out a travel insurance policy which will cover you during the ongoing pandemic

The good news is that cancellation rights have also been altered to allow customers to cancel their annual or single-trip policy if they wish, and receive a pro-rata refund, provided they haven’t made a claim.

Admiral has also waived any cancellation fees for this.

Single-trip policyholders can change the travel dates up to 365 days from the date of issue of the original policy.

However, if a customer chooses to rearrange a trip by changing the dates, duration or destination, Admiral consider this a switch in risk and the trip wouldn’t be covered for Covid-19 related losses. (admiral.com)

Is there a Plan B?

If you can’t buy new travel insurance or renew your existing policy, a European Health Insurance Card (apply at nhs.uk, for free) entitles you to state-provided medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident in any EU country (or in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).

But once the UK leaves the EU EHIC cover won’t apply.

‘Perhaps insurers will come up with new-style policies with optional surcharges for Covid-19 cover, or a standalone policy which only covers for the disease and can be bought separately,’ says Debbie Marshall of Silver Travel, a travel review site aimed at mature travellers.

Ultimately, the most straightforward holiday option is, once domestic lockdown is eased, to travel within the UK, until such a time as insurance policies improve or a vaccine is in place.

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AMAALA: Awakening the world's imagination

AMAALA will pioneer new ways to shape uniquely memorable experiences, carving its own space within the global portfolio of ultra-luxury destinations

AMAALA is a unique expression of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which boldly captures the aspirations of its people while unlocking new and significant opportunities to craft a better world tomorrow.

AMAALA, located along Saudi Arabia’s north western coast, is an ultra-luxury destination that will create transformative personal journeys inspired by arts, wellness, and the purity of the Red Sea.

Designed to evolve and elevate the best in travel, AMAALA has been born of Saudi Arabia’s own transformation in travel and tourism, hospitality, real estate, and sustainability.

Today’s most discerning global citizens are driven to discover personal experiences unlike any other – immersive and authentic, and realized through a journey of self-discovery. AMAALA will tap into this and bring to life the desires and ambitions of a community obsessed with shaping and living transformative moments that aim to safeguard the planet’s natural resources.

Set amidst the breath-taking beauty of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Natural Reserve, AMAALA’s unique heritage and unspoiled landscape spans over 4,155 square kilometres of unique terrain. The destination will pioneer new ways to shape uniquely memorable experiences, carving its own space within the global portfolio of ultra-luxury destinations.

Conceived as a natural extension of its environment, AMAALA will be brought to life by three of the world’s most recognised names in architecture and design ahead of the realisation of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.  Foster + Partners, Denniston International Architects and Planners, and HKS Architects will be responsible for bringing to life innovative and sustainable design solutions across AMAALA’s hospitality, residential, and retail offerings.

When complete, AMAALA will be a one-of-a-kind destination, serviced by its own airport, state-of-the-art housing, sporting, yachting, and diving facilities. From the moment they touch-down, travellers will be immersed in the world’s finest wellness, art, culture, sports and fitness offerings, featuring stunning scenery, mountainous landscapes, golden sands, crystal waters, and untouched coral reefs.

The Communities

This spectacular destination will encompass a trio of communities, each representing a different set of experiences and environments. Each community will be representative of a bespoke journey of personal fulfilment, delivering an experience that will exceed expectations while providing the natural virtues of year-round sun and sea.

Triple Bay: Triple Bay will be the first fully integrated sports and entertainment community in the world. Home to a fully holistic wellness retreat, Triple Bay will offer authentic treatments, reflective of the healing traditions practised in the region for hundreds of years, as well as state-of-the-art diagnostic medical facilities in a family friendly environment.

With underwater experiences that will immerse guests directly into the natural domain of dolphins, turtles, and healthy coral reefs, Triple Bay is also set to be one of the world’s finest diving  destinations for the whole family, with a wealth of rich marine life to explore.

The Coastal Development: Set to emerge as the definitive hub for contemporary art in the Middle East, the Coastal Development features an arts museum and amphitheatre, both of which will play host to a dynamic programme of events drawn from global, regional, and local arts and cultural calendars. The dedicated cultural district will focus on showcasing the region’s diverse cultural heritage and ancient crafts.

A gathering place for a community of influencers and connoisseurs, the Coastal Development is built on philanthropic principles with strong links to the Saudi community. This stretch of coastline will also offer premium spa facilities, yoga and meditation retreats, and an equestrian centre equipped to offer rehabilitation alongside world-class stabling and tournament-grade polo facilities.

The Island: The Island will be the tranquil home of an exclusive art community, boasting Arabian-style botanical gardens studded with striking sculptures, offering guests the perfect setting in which to ruminate, reflect and relax.

Home to a contemporary art museum and academy, at the heart of this unique community is a Riviera-lifestyle artists’ colony. This active community anchored by an artists’ village will feature working studios, artisan shops, plus exhibition and performance facilities hosting a year-round calendar of immersive and transformative works as well as a range of co-creation opportunities.

Sustainability

Aligned to international best practices, AMAALA will demonstrate global leadership in sustainable tourism. Whether visiting Triple Bay, the Coastal Development or The Island, the ethos of sustainability will be found at the core of every facet of AMAALA.

The project is nested in Saudi’s Vision 2030 plan and through the cultivation of a vibrant society, sustainable economy and protected natural environment; AMAALA will become a leader in sustainable design and operations, aiming to be net carbon neutral from the first day of operation.

Upon completion, AMAALA will be home to one of the largest solar energy farms in the GCC. In addition, robust waste management and recycling processes will underpin AMAALA’s operations, including the sole use of biodegradable plastics within the resort. The destination will also feature a dedicated sustainable desalinisation plant that will have zero impact on the healthy coral reefs, while all wastewater will be treated and reused in agriculture.

The destination will also be home to an organic farm, harnessing sustainable farming techniques, to supply ample local produce for guests and employees. These developments feed into the longer-term goal of developing a secondary sustainable farming industry to promote self-sufficiency for local communities.

Marine Conservation

With an operational zero-carbon footprint as its goal, the preservation and conservation of the unspoilt marine and coastal ecosystem sit at the heart of AMAALA.

One of a few unexplored bodies of water in the world, the Red Sea is home to one of the world’s last thriving marine habitats. Through strategic partnerships with key institutions, AMAALA has identified four key areas of joint exploration: coral reef management, iconic species protection, Marine Protected Areas (MPA) enforcement, and fighting plastic pollution.

Through the Marine Life Institute local and international marine life conservation will be integrated with research and education, developing oceanographic and marine life research and conservation initiatives, which can then be applied to Saudi Arabia’s waters, and the world’s seas.

Investment and Development

The project will also act as a key driver of Vision 2030s objectives, cultivating investment opportunities, supporting economic growth with a focus on the development of new economies, driving employment in new economic sectors such as wellness, healthy living and sports, art and culture, and sea, sun, and lifestyle.

With AMAALA anticipated to deliver several longstanding economic benefits to the Kingdom, including a contribution of 0.64% to GDP by 2030, the development offers hope for a new era of ethically grounded strategic investments with the potential for robust returns. Through the development of communities built to the highest international standards, the destination is creating an active pipeline of projects for the real estate and construction industries.

AMAALA’s investment packages span financial investments and partnerships through to numerous development opportunities for hospitality, retail, residential, leisure, art and culture and education facilities.

Featuring over 2,500 hotel keys and 800 residential villas, AMAALA opens numerous opportunities for the tourism and as well as the real estate sectors. From apartments to estate homes to high end retail establishments, we will partner with private sector companies, world-class operators and market investors specialised in hospitality to provide a bespoke experience for guests.

AMAALA is a unique expression of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which boldly captures the aspirations of its people while unlocking new and significant opportunities to craft a better world tomorrow. AMAALA will not only respect and safeguard local cultures and ecosystems, it aims to transform lives and livelihoods with the creation of an estimated 20,000 new jobs, rising to 50,000 once fully established.

Chief Executive Officer at AMAALA, Nicholas Naples said: “The tourism sector is one of the most promising parts of the Kingdom’s diversification efforts and AMAALA is part of the drive towards its advancement. ​More than just a destination, AMAALA is an aspiration, and we want every interaction with AMAALA to be a moment of transformation.

“The AMAALA experience will foster a community of connoisseurs, pioneers and thought leaders, all connected by a shared commitment to the practice, appreciation, and advancement of arts and culture, wellness, and environmental preservation.”

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WTTC Reveals What the ‘New Normal’ for Travel Will Look Like

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) reveals what it believes the “new normal” will look like when people begin to travel again.

Countries are starting to reopen after COVID-19 lockdowns, and it is likely that travel restrictions will ease up in the near future.

“Traveling in the New Normal” is the WTTC’s plan for reopening, and it includes critical steps and coordinated actions for the travel industry. The guidance also features new standards and protocols in order to offer a safe and responsible road to recovery for the global travel and tourism industry.

Over the last few weeks, the WTTC has worked with the private sector, sharing best practices from different regions around the world to work on the path forward to create new guidance.

The WTTC noted that a Public-private collaboration between business and governments is vital to develop new health protocols and predicts a gradual return to travel over the coming months as a “new normal” emerges before a vaccine.

The WTTC said that travel will most likely return on a domestic level first and then to close-by neighboring countries before long-haul trips resume. The organization also believes that younger travelers, ages 18-35 will be among the first to begin traveling again.

“It is vital for the survival of the travel and tourism sector that we work together and map out the road to recovery, through coordinated actions, and offer the reassurance people need to begin traveling once again,” said Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO. “We have learned from past experiences that when the protocols from private sector are taken into account and we have a coordinated approach the recovery timeframe is significantly reduced, so the private-public sector collaboration is crucial.”

Guevara noted that travelers need reassurance and the industry needs to build confidence.

“We should avoid new, unnecessary procedures that create bottle necks and slow down the recovery. However, a quick and effective restart of travel will only happen if governments around the world agree to a common set of health protocols developed by the private sector, such as those we’ve outlined,” she said. “These must provide the reassurance travelers and authorities need, using new technology, to offer hassle-free, pre-vaccine ‘new normal’ travel in the short term.”

Groups joining the WTTC’s efforts include the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Airport Council International (ACI), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), United States Travel Association (USTA), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the European Travel Commission (ETC) and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

What can travelers expect when they begin traveling again? Each sector of the travel industry is working on new protocols.

Hotels are developing new digital technology for check-in, adding hand sanitizing stations, contactless payments, changing fitness centers and more.

Cruise operators will take further measures to ensure ships are free of COVID-19 including staff wearing gloves at all times, which are then frequently changed, and more frequent room cleaning.

Airports may test passengers and will increase social distancing measures at the airport and during the boarding process allowing flights to leave airports COVID-19-free.

To speed up the global recovery, WTTC will continue to work closely with the G20, EU, international organizations and governments around the world to help translate the new protocols into easily adopted public policies by each country while adhering to common global standards.

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The Boeing 727 named Little Trump that was converted into a home

A hot tub in the cockpit and three bedrooms: Inside the Boeing airliner that has been converted into a plush home (with a working aircraft toilet)

  • The unusual residence was a Continental Airlines Boeing 727, but was retired from the fleet in 1993 
  • Jo Ann Ussery, from Benoit, Mississippi, bought it in 1994 and spent tens of thousands of dollars revamping it 
  • She positioned the aircraft partially over a lake to give the impression it was taking off
  • The home had a fully equipped kitchen, a master bedroom, a laundry room and the original overhead bins

A hot tub in the cockpit, a fully equipped kitchen and three bedrooms – welcome on board the incredible Boeing 727 that was refurbished into a luxury home.

These extraordinary pictures show the unique residence owned by Jo Ann Ussery, named ‘Little Trump’ after Donald Trump’s $16million 727 corporate jet. It was located in Mississippi and was positioned partially over a lake to give the impression it was taking off.

But the plane wasn’t completely transformed, it still had an original working aircraft toilet and the overhead bins were left in place for storage.

Jo Ann Ussery relaxes in her hot tub inside a Boeing 727 that she converted into a plush home

Jo Ann named the home ‘Little Trump’ after Donald Trump’s then $16million corporate jet – also a 727. Pictured is one of the three bedrooms 

Jo Ann bought the retired plane and transformed it into her home after her previous mobile home was destroyed in an ice storm 

The plane, serial number 19510, had been the first Boeing 727 in Continental Airlines’ fleet and was in service for the carrier from May 1968 until September 1993 

Jo Ann once told the Today programme: ‘It is so comfortable, it’s so neat, it’s well insulated and convenient, there is nothing bad about it.’

The plane, serial number 19510, had been the first Boeing 727 in Continental Airlines’ fleet and was in service for the carrier from May 1968 until September 1993.

After being stored in Texas it was moved to Greenwood, Mississippi, in 1994, where it was to be ‘parted out’.

At the same time Benoit, Mississippi, resident Jo Ann, then a 52-year-old hairdresser, was looking for a new mobile home after her previous one was destroyed in an ice storm.


Jo Ann created a fully equipped kitchen inside the plane. She said: ‘It is so comfortable, it’s so neat, it’s well insulated and convenient, there is nothing bad about it’

Jo Ann paid $2,000 for the plane and another $4,000 to a removal company to have it moved to her spot next to the lake in Benoit. The refurbishment cost a further $24,000 (£19,235)

Original features that were retained included the cockpit control wheels, pictured next to the bath 

Jo Ann’s grandchildren Steven, Katelyn and Morgan take a bath in the former cockpit of the plane in 1996 

TRUMP FORCE ONE – THE BOEING 727 

Donald Trump had his own Boeing 727.

It was originally delivered to American Airlines before being converted into a private jet, which Trump bought in 1997.

When used by Trump, it was configured with seating for 24 people and included a master bedroom, a dining room, a galley, conference rooms, multiple lavatories and a bidet.

Trump put it up for sale in 2009 and it was sold in 2011 before being scrapped at Montréal–Mirabel International Airport in Canada in 2017.

Her brother-in-law, an air traffic controller, knew about the 127ft-scrapped plane and told her she should look into getting a retired airliner as a home.

According to Airport Journals, Jo Ann paid $2,000 for the plane and another $4,000 to a removal company to have it moved to her spot next to a lake in Benoit.

She then remodelled most of the home herself, which included installing floors, connecting electricity and plumbing and even setting up a phone line.

The seats were removed to create an 11ft-wide space, with 76 side windows and 10 cockpit windows flooding the fuselage with light.

She also managed to salvage interior parts from other retired 727s to add to her new plane.  

Jo Ann spent around $24,000 (£19,235) on the renovations, creating a three-bedroom home with a living room and dining room, a laundry room and a master bathroom in the cockpit. 

Original features that were kept in the converted airliner included the cockpit control wheels, to maintain an aircraft look, and the rear air stairs, which could be opened using a garage door opener.

Jo Ann moved into the converted home in April 1995 and stayed there until May 1999.

Eventually, a truck was hired to transport the plane to a different location.

The plan was for the aircraft to be opened to the public, but it fell off the truck and sustained ‘significant damage’.

And there, the trail regarding its fate goes cold… 

Jo Ann moved into the converted home in April 1995 and stayed there until May 1999. The plane was significantly damaged in 1999 when it fell off a transporter truck 

The plane was positioned over a lake to give the impression it was taking off. The home had a total of 76 side windows and 10 cockpit windows

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HTA launches Share the Aloha campaign

Faced with promoting a destination that relies heavily on tourism but is not currently welcoming visitors is a fine line to walk, but the Hawaii Tourism Authority is attempting just that with a new “Share the Aloha” campaign that reflects the current conditions under the coronavirus pandemic restrictions.

The new HTA video encourages travelers to share the aloha from home until the state officially reopens for tourism.
“While we may be separated by oceans and you can’t visit Hawaii right now, connection is at the heart of who we are as a people,” titles on the video read. “Aloha can keep us close, especially in times when we must be apart. While we can’t share our home right now, we will always share  aloha.”

All arrivals in Hawaii are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine under possible penalty of jail time or a fine.

“Aloha is more than hello or goodbye,” the HTA said in a statement with the release of the new campaign. “It’s love. It’s connection. It’s what we need right now. Mahalo for your understanding that this isn’t the time to visit the Hawaiian Islands. Until we can share our home with you again, we’ll be sharing aloha — and welcome you to do the same.”

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The story of Octopussy, 'the superyacht that couldn't be built'

The fascinating story of Octopussy, ‘the superyacht that couldn’t be built’: How engineers in the 1980s broke the 50-knot barrier and made the world’s fastest luxury boat

  • American John Staluppi decided in the early 1980s that he wanted the fastest superyacht in the world 
  • He wanted a yacht that could exceed 50 knots – but every boatyard he approached told him it was impossible 
  • Heesen Yachts said yes – and a new documentary tells the story of how they fulfilled this tallest of orders 

They said it was ‘the superyacht that couldn’t be built’.

When American entrepreneur John Staluppi decided in the early 1980s that he wanted the fastest superyacht in the world – one that could break the 50knot (57.5mph) barrier – every boatyard told him it couldn’t be done. Every boatyard except Heesen Yachts in the Netherlands.

It rose to the challenge in spectacular style, delivering Octopussy in 1988 – a boat the size of a small house that was actually capable of a world-record-beating 53.17 knots (61mph). And now a new documentary has revealed the fascinating story behind this remarkable feat of engineering.

Octopussy, pictured shortly after it was delivered. It had a top speed of 53 knots (61mph) and at the time was 38m (124ft) long


Octopussy, pictured left in the 1980s, was designed by Frank Mulder and built at the Heesen shipyard. Pictured right is John Staluppi using a radar gun to measure precisely how fast the yacht can go 

Called Octopussy: The Yacht That Could Not Be Built, it tells how Staluppi, after investigating the highest horsepower engines available, took the unprecedented step of buying three immensely powerful MTU power units and went looking for a naval architect to design a boat around them. 

But it was an order too tall for everyone he approached.

He says in the documentary: ‘I could never have the biggest yacht in the world, but I knew that I could have the fastest yacht in the world. [But] some people [I approached] would look at it and go back to engineering departments then come back and say “it’s impossible”.’

The original Octopussy interior. A new documentary has revealed the fascinating story of how engineers turned businessman John Staluppi’s dream of owning the world’s fastest luxury superyacht into reality


Heesen agreed to a legally binding penalty clause in the contract stipulating that if Octopussy did not reach 48 knots (55mph) at launch, Staluppi would not have to take the boat or pay for the cost

However, Frank Mulder of Mulder Design, a skilled naval architect from the Netherlands, after six weeks of calculations, said the project was possible.

Staluppi continues: ‘Mulder said that he only knew one shipyard that might take the challenge. And that’s how we got started with Frans Heesen, who was supposed to be the best.’  

Shortly after, in a meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Heesen accepted Staluppi’s challenge to build the fastest superyacht in the world. 

In an age before computers, he was the first to say that ‘if he [Mulder] comes up with the right drawings and calculations… then I will build you this boat’.

John Staluppi, pictured, said: ‘I could never have the biggest yacht in the world, but I knew that I could have the fastest yacht in the world’ 


Naval architect Frank Mulder, left, and Frans Heesen, right, the founder of Heesen Yachts. They both feature in the new documentary about the construction of Octopussy 

Heesen Yachts said: ‘Octopussy’s speed and design became the benchmark for other shipyards and Heesen’s reputation for boldly delivering world firsts based on a DNA of innovation, technology and top craftsmanship, was born’ 

OCTOPUSSY: FACTS AND FIGURES

Length: 38m (124ft) in 1988, now 44m (144ft) 

Top Speed: 53.17 knots (61 mph)

Shipyard: Heesen Yachts

Naval Architect: Mulder Design

Exterior Designer: Gerhard Gilgenast

Interior Designer: Joachim Kinder and Art Line

Material: Aluminium

Guests: 10

The documentary reveals that Heesen was so supremely confident in his team’s engineering and craftsmanship, he even agreed to a legally binding penalty clause in the contract that if Octopussy did not reach 48 knots (55mph) at launch, Staluppi would not have to take the boat or pay for the cost.

In addition, for every knot under 50 that the top speed equalled, the shipyard would have to pay Staluppi $100,000 (£80,000). That’s the equivalent of $200,000 (£160,000) in today’s money.

However, for every knot over 50, Heesen Yachts would receive a $200,000 bonus ($430k/£345k in today’s money).

Staluppi said: ‘It was a risky challenge for a shipyard – if it went under 48 knots, I didn’t have to take the boat and they’d give me all my money back.

‘So I bought a radar gun. And he [Frans Heesen] said “OK, we can do it”.’

In 2015, Octopussy underwent a complete refit and is now 44m (144ft) in length. Pictured is the updated version of the yacht 

Octopussy’s interior was also updated during its refit. Its new look is thanks to New York designer Jeff Lincoln

The superyacht is currently for sale with Moran Yacht & Ship and has an asking price of $3,995,000 (£3,211,580)

When it was being built, all parties worked around the clock to ensure that Octopussy, pictured recently, would hit the goal of being able to reach 50 knots (57mph) 

The hot tub on board the re-fitted Octopussy. The superyacht is now 20ft longer than it was at launch

According to Moran Yacht and Ship, Octopussy is ‘perfect for island hopping and allows access to anchorages normally reserved for much smaller vessels’ 

Financially the yard could not survive such a loss, but the documentary shows that with the international press following Staluppi’s every move, an ambitious Heesen decided to risk the entire future of the company for the opportunity to put the shipyard’s name on the global stage.

From then, each decision, from the water jets specified to the appliances that Staluppi’s wife, Jeanette, chose were defined by weight.

All parties worked around the clock to ensure the boat was as light as possible to facilitate hitting the 50-knot goal.

When it was launched in April 1988, Octopussy not only looked sleeker than any other yacht at the time with its futuristic design, but exceeded all expectations with its astounding top speed of 53.17 knots (61mph). That’s very fast indeed for a boat 38m (124ft) long, packed with luxurious features.

The re-fitted Octopussy has this spot for al-fresco dining on the top deck of the ship 

Octopussy now has five spacious staterooms, a vast main salon and a formal dining area with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, which open out on to the main deck

One of the five spacious staterooms on board Octopussy. It has space for 10 guests as well as seven crew members 

The listing for Octopussy describes the superyacht as ‘iconic in every sense of the word’ 

Heesen Yachts said: ‘Her speed and design became the benchmark for other shipyards and Heesen’s reputation for boldly delivering world firsts based on a DNA of innovation, technology and top craftsmanship, was born.

‘The gamble had paid off. Staluppi realized his dream and Heesen Yachts became an international sensation, forever marking its brand on the world map as a major player in the superyacht arena.’

In 2015, Octopussy underwent a refit with the length of the superyacht extended to 44m (144ft), while New York designer Jeff Lincoln updated its interior. 

Octopussy pictured moored in the Bahamas. The current fastest superyacht in the world is the 140ft ‘World Is Not Enough’, which has a top speed of 70 knots (80mph)

It has five spacious staterooms, a huge main salon and a formal dining area with floor-to-ceiling glass doors, which open out on to the main deck.

The superyacht is currently for sale with Moran Yacht & Ship and has an asking price of $3,995,000 (£3,211,580). 

The current fastest superyacht in the world is the 140ft ‘World Is Not Enough’, which has a top speed of 70 knots (80mph).

Built in 2004, the vessel was also designed by Mulder Design and is the brainchild of Staluppi and his close friend, businessman John Rosatti.

While Octopussy can now ‘only’ reach 32 knots (36mph) – she’s a lot heavier post-refit – the speed achieved in 1988 is a record that still puts her in the top 20 fastest superyachts ever. 

  • To watch Octopussy: The Yacht That Could Not Be Built click here. For more on Heesen Yachts, visit www.heesenyachts.com.

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The Two Things Every Cruise Line Needs to Offer Post-Coronavirus

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought the cruise industry to a standstill but executives have expressed optimism that the sailings will eventually resume and the sector will once again thrive with help from promising future bookings.

Nonetheless, the industry faces a daunting road ahead that might force cruise lines to change their existing policies and reevaluate and even expand their onboard offerings to entice customers back to the world’s seas and rivers.

When it comes to the things cruise lines must offer in a post-pandemic world, enhanced cleaning measures and free Wi-Fi jump to the top of the list.

Cruise ships already undergo a thorough cleaning process before, during and after each sailing.

“Each of the brands that fall under the Carnival Corporation umbrella has in place specific sanitation protocol on our cruise ships that is effectively used throughout our fleet,” Carnival Corporation’s chief communications officer Roger Frizzell told Business Insider earlier this year. “Our ships’ routine cleaning and sanitizing protocols continuously use a disinfectant known to quickly kill coronavirus in 30 seconds on hard surfaces.”

Stepping up cleaning, making some of those procedures visible to passengers and reminding guests to do their part by practicing good hygiene will be critical to instilling confidence in travelers who may be wary of going on a cruise post-coronavirus.

Beyond guaranteeing guests a safe environment, cruise lines must provide complimentary internet access for all passengers. Like drink packages, Wi-Fi can quickly add up on a cruise lasting several days and eliminating the cost barrier ensures a better customer experience in the age of social media and streaming.

Companies like Norwegian Cruise Line have already begun to offer discounted sailings featuring free perks such as open bar, specialty dining, excursions, kids and, of course, Wi-Fi. For now, many of these deals come with flexible cancellation policies that provide customers with peace of mind.

The cruise industry undoubtedly has some tough decisions to make in the weeks and months ahead, but rolling out enhanced cleaning measures and providing guests added incentive to book by offering free Wi-Fi are among the easiest.

Cruise lines also stand to benefit by continuing to work closely with the travel agents so many of their guests rely on already.

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MoS writers on the places they want to revisit post-covid-19 crisis

From the English Riviera to the Highlands of Scotland, five travel writers describe the places around Britain they are desperate to go back to as they share their… lockdown daydreams

  • Simon Heptinstall dreams of the Carey Arms, a seaside gem that sits in a secluded cove in South Devon 
  • Jane Knight can’t wait to return to the Lake District’s Brimstone Hotel, which feels like an ‘uber-sexy ski chalet’
  • Sarah Turner looks forward to revisiting Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire where afternoon tea is ‘unbeatable’

Have you thought about where you’ll be when the lockdown restrictions are lifted? 

Here our travel writers reveal the places they are longing to visit around the UK as soon as it’s safe to do so.

The Victorian grandeur of Gladstone’s Library in Flintshire, the decadence of The Methuen Arms in Wiltshire, the luxuriousness of the Carey Arms in Devon, the uber-sexiness of the Brimstone Hotel in the Lake District and the cosiness of Islay House in Scotland all beckon for our scribes. Read on and decide if you’ll be joining them…  

Sarah Turner hopes to revisit Gladstone’s Library later this year

Sarah Turner: Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, Flintshire

Is this place a hotel or a library with a particularly delightful sense of hospitality? It may not be easy to categorise but I come here with friends every year.

It was founded by Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1895. The ground floor is all polished floorboards, Victorian panelling and portraits. Upstairs, the bedrooms, reached through a maze of corridors, are light and super-cosy, with Welsh blankets, anglepoise lamps and Roberts radios.

The food – be that breakfast, Sunday roast or dinner – is always a highlight. But it is difficult to beat the afternoon tea, with billowy scones straight from the oven and help-yourself quantities of cream and locally made jam. After my last visit, staff even wrapped some up for us to take home on the train.

There are some lovable quirks here. There aren’t televisions in the bedrooms but there is wi-fi. You collect your food through a hatch but you eat in a grand dining room, which spills out into the garden in good weather.

And while it’s too thoughtful to be a party place, Gladstone’s Library isn’t cloistered either: the hotel hosts regular talks, courses and events throughout the year.

When my friends and I can get back, I know exactly what we’ll do. We’ll spend time in the library itself, a gloriously vaulted haven of quietness. That said, we’ll probably spend just as much time in the Gladstone Room, filled with leather armchairs, a log fire, chessboards and piles of newspapers and magazines.

A novel place to stay: Gladstone’s Library was founded by Prime Minister William Gladstone in 1895

It is also home to an honesty bar, filled with rather nice wine and a notebook to write down what you’ve had, and shelves of the latest fiction to borrow.

Location-wise, Gladstone’s Library is a complete winner too. It’s just a 20-minute bus ride from Chester, just over the Welsh border in the village of Hawarden, and there are walks from the front door. My favourite one covers a ruined 13th Century castle, a cricket pitch and an orchard, and finishes at the Hawarden Estate farm shop and cafe.

My friends and I are due to return in July. And because it’s such a nice place, Gladstone’s Library has said we can move our booking back if necessary – or forwards if possible.

B&B rooms cost from £110 a night (gladstoneslibrary.org).

Jennifer Cox longs for another staycation at The Methuen Arms in Wiltshire

Jennifer Cox: The Methuen Arms, Corsham, Wiltshire

It was in the bitter depths of winter when my husband Nick and I checked in to The Methuen Arms and we barely glimpsed the impressive Georgian exterior as we skidded in from the snowy car park.

And we headed straight to our huge bedroom upstairs, so we failed to notice properly the pretty dining rooms decorated with botanic prints and cushioned banquettes off the original hall.

Our room was light and bright even on a grim day, featuring original beams, walls painted in soft Farrow & Ball tones, and an oversized armchair.

And on a plinth in the corner was a free-standing bath. Oh how I love the sheer decadence of a bedroom with a bath. For the next hour, I was up to my neck in Bramley bubbles, while my husband lounged on the super-king four-poster bed, scoffing home-made biscuits and watching TV.

Later, fully defrosted, we took a stroll into the charming market town of Corsham. Dating back to the 11th Century, it’s almost too pretty to be true: its wide high street is a golden jumble of beautiful 17th Century Bath stone Flemish weaver houses, behind which lies Corsham Court, a grand Elizabethan manor house set in Capability Brown-designed parkland. Poldark fans will almost certainly recognise it, as Corsham doubled as Truro in the BBC drama.

Cotswolds charm: The Methuen Arms has 19 bedrooms – five in the former stable block outside, 14 in the main building

Dating from 1608, The Methuen Arms sits in the south-west corner of the Cotswolds, a short drive from Bath and the village of Lacock, with its striking abbey (a significant number of interior Hogwarts scenes for the Harry Potter films were shot here).

I long to go back to this friendly pub in warmer times, and not just because its 19 bedrooms – five in the former stable block outside, 14 in the main building – were recently renovated. It is because the food served up by award-winning chef and manager Leigh Evans is sublime. I still think about the malt-glazed guinea fowl and roasted hake we devoured, along with garlicky potato dauphinoise and spiced red cabbage braised with apples. Breakfast was a greedy feast of Wiltshire bacon and sausages, with bread and pastries fresh from the hotel’s own bakery and honey produced in its own hives.

I loved the wintry packed bar, serving local Butcombe ales and a good selection of wines. But I look forward even more to relaxing with a glass of wine in the garden festooned with fairy lights, watching bees buzz around its well-stocked kitchen gardens, and drinking in every moment.

B&B costs from £140 a night (themethuenarms.com).

Simon Heptinstall dreams of returning to The Carey Arms in Devon

Simon Heptinstall: Carey Arms, Babbacombe, South Devon

My lockdown dream is to return to the best hotel room I have ever seen.

It was last summer when I discovered the Carey Arms, a luxurious seaside gem which is the epitome of the English Riviera.

Waking up in the Beach Suite, I will watch the sun rise slowly across the sea from my bed. I will throw open the glass doors and sip a cup of tea, listening to the waves splash the edge of my private terrace. Then I’ll dress for a leisurely breakfast (fresh almond croissants and a glass of champagne will do), probably on the hotel’s 1937 wooden yacht Escape, which is moored just offshore. Heaven.

Cary’s reception, restaurant, lounge and spa are in a charming old stone pub halfway up a cliff. The rooms, meanwhile, are mostly cottages and New England-style lodges scattered along steep footpaths and winding through gardens around this sheltered cove.

Period cliffside cottages seemed to have stepped out of a period drama thanks to their sweet sea-view gardens, while modern wooden two-storey beach huts are cool and romantic.

But who could not fall for the Beach Suite, set down some stone steps at the water’s edge. This simple whitewashed building has an airy living room, bedroom and bathroom. One wall is made up entirely of folding glass doors, making the most of the fantastic views as waves splash against giant boulders.

During my stay, the TV will remain off as I lie outside on a traditional sunlounger sampling the free decanter of home-made sloe gin while gazing at distant yachts and fishing boats.

Cary’s hidden cove is part of Babbacombe, a smart Torquay suburb. Guests stroll to sandy beaches or take wooded coast path walks lined with wildflowers. A clunky volunteer-run funicular runs up to a small independent theatre at the cliff top.

The hotel’s fans included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who rowed ashore from the Royal Yacht, and Winston Churchill

The hotel’s fans included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who rowed ashore from the Royal Yacht, and Winston Churchill, who enjoyed Carey lobster sent to his London wartime bunker.

To honour Winston’s way of surviving his own Blitz lockdown, I will dine alfresco on barbecued lobster and wash it down with a bottle of the hotel’s commemorative stock of Churchill’s favourite Pol Roger champagne, at a £395 a bottle. This is a dream, after all.

B&B at the Beach Suite costs from £489 a night – other rooms from £269 B&B (caryarms.co.uk).

Jane Knight can’t wait to go back to Brimstone Hotel in the Lake District

Jane Knight: Brimstone Hotel, Great Langdale, Lake District

It felt crazy at the time: a six-hour car journey to the Lake District for the weekend. But who wouldn’t now jump in the car for six hours, just for the sheer joy of driving somewhere, anywhere?

Yet the 16-room Brimstone isn’t just anywhere, and it isn’t any old hotel. With fabulous fells on its doorstep and a designer’s heaven of wood and slate within, it has the best of both outside and in.

Half a dozen or so trails lead directly into the scenic Langdale Valley, including a two-hour tramp that dips your toes into the countryside without the whole pike-climbing experience.

Here the fells beckon, with their squiggly dry-stone walls, noisy brooks and views over Grasmere.

Forgotten your boots and waterproofs? No problem: the hotel has a complimentary kit room (as well as a Reading Room, where you can stock up on free snacks and drinks).

Our hike was not really long enough to justify the special massage for walkers in Brimstone’s sleek timber and stone spa overlooking a lake. However, a scenic bike ride did set me up nicely for a visit to the sauna and steam room, plus a muscle-soothing dip in the indoors/outdoors vitality pool.

Inside, the hotel feels like an uber-sexy ski chalet, with acres of slate, wood, silver and purple furnishings. Rooms come with a wood-burning stove, modern oval bath, and perhaps a bed on a mezzanine level. It’s no wonder that Jamie Oliver dubbed the rooms ‘ridiculously beautiful’ – they’re certainly a perfect place to relax with a pizza ordered from room service.

Relax: Brimstone’s spa lit up at night where you can take a dip in the indoors/outdoors vitality pool

Instead of dining in Brimstone’s modern restaurant, we headed to the atmospheric Wainwrights’ Inn, a five-minute stroll away. It is part of the estate (which includes the Langdale Hotel) so you can charge the tasty pub grub to your account. Be sure to try the famous lamb shoulder with mash and veg.

Later, in our room, we got a fit of the giggles. It wasn’t the free wine from the Reading Room that set us off, but the light switch, with not just a ‘sexy’ setting but one that reads ‘tinkle’ to turn on the bathroom lights. This hotel even has a sense of humour. Which is exactly what I need right now.

B&B costs £370 a night (brimstonehotel.co.uk).

Lizzie Enfield pines for wild Hebridean views and walks through rugged hills and across sweeping sandy beaches

Lizzie Enfield: Islay House, Isle of Islay, Scotland

All hail, Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor! It’s not just the remote Scottish setting which brought out my inner witch but the fact that Islay House was built in 1677 by Hugh Campbell, the then Thane of Cawdor. 

He selected the best spot on the island and his house, now an 11-bedroom hotel, enjoys a glorious position, overlooking Loch Indaal on the east coast of Islay.

I checked in in 2016, not long after the house was transformed from family home into an island hotel getaway. 

Now I find myself once again dreaming of wild Hebridean views, walks through rugged hills, across sweeping sandy beaches and along undulating coastal paths.

Islay House sits in 28 acres of gardens and is surrounded by woods through which you can stroll along the banks of the River Sorn to the Islay Woollen Mill.

The three witches told Shakespeare’s thane he would become king. While the Campbell clan were never crowned, Islay House has a link with royalty – the Queen stayed here as a guest of previous owners, as did Margaret Thatcher.

With chaises longues positioned to take advantage of sweeping views of the loch, four-posters in the bedrooms and en suites boasting freestanding baths, the cosy luxury allowed me to feel as if I were staying with an aristocratic friend in their ancestral pile.

Island getaway: The 17th Century Islay House is now an 11-bedroom hotel, which overlooks Loch Indaal on the east coast of Islay

In the evenings, guests gathered before dinner in the Peat Cutter Bar, where an oil painting above the mantelpiece depicts men cutting turf still used to heat local homes. The peat also gives the island’s famous whiskies their unique smoky taste.

The owners of Islay House have begun restoration of the kitchen since lockdown and the distilleries are producing hand sanitiser. When the hurly burly’s done, I look forward to returning to celebrate with a wee dram of single malt.

Double rooms cost from £99 a night, with a five per cent discount for direct booking in April (islayhouse.co.uk).

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The stick-on 'stained glass window' for aircraft cabins

The stick-on ‘stained glass window’ that can transform an aircraft cabin into a dazzling place of prayer

  • The windows are made from a flexible plastic film that fits on an aircraft window
  • They can be used time after time and cleaned with soapy water or disinfectant 
  • Films are available to fit 5 types of window – A330, A350, B767, B777x and B787 

Once you’re allowed to fly again you might want to deploy this quirky invention to make your journey altogether more magnificent.

The portable ‘stained glass airplane window’ can be rolled out and stuck on an aircraft window to transform the cabin into a dazzling place of prayer.

They have been created by San Francisco-based designer Danielle Baskin, who hopes they will make travel experiences more ‘hopeful and whimsical’.

The portable ‘stained glass airplane window’ can be rolled out and stuck on an aircraft window to transform the cabin into a dazzling place of prayer 

Creator Danielle Baskin hopes her windows will make travel experiences ‘more hopeful and whimsical’

The films come in five sizes for the following aircraft – A330, A350, B767, B777x and B787 

The films are made from a flexible plastic material that can be used time and time again and cleaned with either soapy water or disinfectant. 

They come in five sizes for windows on Airbus A330s and A350s and Boeing’s 767, 777x and 787 aircraft.

Danielle told MailOnline Travel: ‘These stained glass windows are a removable transparent film that transforms a flight into a place of prayer.

‘The film is washable, so it creates a protective barrier between you and the window, in case the glass wasn’t cleaned inbetween flights.’

The films can be used time and time again and can be cleaned with soapy water or disinfectant 

Despite air travel being off the agenda, Danielle says the films are still being snapped up on her website 

Danielle told MailOnline Travel: ‘These stained glass windows are a removable transparent film that transforms a flight into a place of prayer’ 

And even though air travel is off the agenda for much of the globe due to the coronavirus crisis, Danielle says the films are still being snapped up on her website.

She added: ‘People who aren’t travelling are still purchasing these as a reminder that they’ll once again be able to fly in the future, though it’s uncertain when that will be.’

To find out more visit Danielle’s website – daniellebaskin.com.

 

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The Excellence Collection Is Offering Free Vacations for Doctors and Nurses

The beginning of 2020 has not gone the way most people planned for. The coronavirus outbreak has not only ruined vacation plans around the world but has caused people to have to stay at home completely.

However, doctors and nurses wake up each morning and face the pandemic head-on as they gear up and go into work. They truly are the biggest heroes.

The Excellence Collection knows doctors and nurses have been working tirelessly to care for everyone during this tough time, and the resort company wants to show its appreciation by giving away 50 vacation experiences or “Care Packages.” Here are the details:

—A four-night stay at The Excellence Collection property of your choice

—During your stay, one Excellence Club or Finest Club category suite (for two adults at Excellence Resorts and Beloved Hotels, and for up to two adults + kids at Finest Resorts depending on the maximum capacity of your suite)

—One complimentary spa treatment of your choice per adult per stay

—Complimentary round trip ground transportation from the airport to the hotel

—Available for travel from August 1, 2020 through December 22, 2021

Eligible doctors and nurses need to be currently working and also need to be a past guest at one of The Excellence Collection properties. They can also be nominated by a past guest.

The Excellence Collection hopes these high-end Caribbean vacations will allow 50 hard-working doctors and nurses to be able to escape, recover and unwind after the chaos is over.

Visit www.theexcellencecollection.com/excellence-heroes/ for the full terms and conditions or email [email protected] by April 30 to enter.

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