Travel Punta del Este

Q. I'm keen to visit Punta del Este and/or Montevideo in Uruguay, ideally as a package holiday. But I can't find any operators that do it. And even if I could, would booking individual flights and accommodation be a better strategy? It seems amazing that BA still don't fly direct! Russ Williams, London

Observations: Vegas is right at home in Spain

Johnny Vegas is lying on a sun lounger by a dazzling blue pool. We are at the Solana Hotel, the location for Benidorm, ITV1's raucously entertaining sitcom about a group of dysfunctional Brits who run riot on the same all-inclusive package holiday every summer.

£300,000 for husband who became ill on honeymoon

A man whose honeymoon was ruined when he contracted a potentially fatal illness said he was delighted today after being awarded nearly £300,000 compensation from a holiday company.

My Father's Tears & Other Stories, By John Updike

A new collection of John Updike tales alternately tugs at the heartstrings – and sadly frustrates

Travel firms 'won't pay levy'

Thomas Cook and Tui, the UK's two biggest tour operators, are set to play hardball with the Government and the Civil Aviation Authority over the likely rise in the cost of the consumer protection levy on package holidays to £3.

Could a package holiday with the emphasis on water-based activities keep the entire family amused?

Depending on your point of view, young children either add an extra dimension to travel or make it impossibly difficult. Wise to the possibilities, many families with young children opt for a week locked-down in Britain.

The retailers vanish. Will your money follow?

As shops and travel firms go bust, Chiara Cavaglieri looks at the rights of consumers who are left high and dry after paying upfront

Forgotten authors no 24: Maryann Forrest

This column requires two kinds of detective work; I track down the authors, but if you’re interested then you have to locate the books. Throughout the process, one author has continued to block further investigation. I knew that the Australian-born Maryann Forrest was someone to check out when I read a description of her in Time Out as “a stunning writer, so superb and alive a talent”.

Drugs arrest Briton wanted by British police

A British man arrested in Venezuela after allegedly being found with three suitcases of cocaine is wanted by Merseyside Police, the force said today.

Deflation fears as living costs hit 49-year low

A smaller-than-expected drop in inflation today failed to ease fears that the UK could soon be in the grip of deflation.

Florence and the Machine, Academy, Birmingham

Too many toffs on this magic roundabout

Air travel sees first fall since 1991

Air travel is on course to fall for the first time in two decades after the airports operator BAA revealed that the annual number of passengers collapsed at the end of last year.

Leading article: This summer, think local

At this time of year, when the tinsel is being taken down and the return to work looms, many of us start dreaming about summer holidays.

Tips and deals: 21/12/2008

The train

Gatwick Express has launched a new service to Brighton. Six trains will depart Brighton for Gatwick in the morning, Monday to Friday, and there will be six journeys made from Gatwick to Brighton in the evenings. Go to gatwickexpress.co.uk.

Investment Column: Michael Page story takes a turn for the worse

Our view: Sell

Share price: 182p (-11p)

Michael Page International, the recruitment group, brought forward its January trading update yesterday to warn the market that its profits would come in at the lower end of forecasts, at around £136m.

Thomas Cook snaps gloom as profits beat forecasts

Mergers have left operator well placed for downturn
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