Something To Declare: Jersey, Guatemala, Porto Santo
Saturday 19 January 2008
Destination of the week: Jersey
Twelve years ago, the largest of the Channel Islands (pictured, top left) was earmarked as a destination for the then-tiny no-frills airline easyJet. This summer, those plans will finally materialise when the airline (0905 821 0905; www.easyjet.com) launches services from Luton and Liverpool, on 30 and 31 March respectively. Until then, you can reach the southernmost island in the British Isles by various other airlines, including British Airways from Gatwick, BMI from Heathrow, Bmibaby from Birmingham, Cardiff, East Midlands and Manchester, and Flybe from a wide range of airports.
Once on the island, you can discover some of Europe's best hotels. The Atlantic in St Brelade (01534 744 101; www.slh.com/atlantic) is regularly voted among the world's finest.
In the past six months, the Atlantic has been joined by two more excellent places to stay. The Radisson Hotel (01534 671 100; www.jersey.radissonsas.com) has a spectacular location on the shore in St Helier, the island's capital. At present, double rooms are widely available at £120, including breakfast.
The impressively remodelled Royal Yacht Hotel (01534 720 511; www.theroyalyacht.com), in the centre of St Helier, has an "Island Safari" priced at £489 for two, which includes two nights with breakfast in a "Gold" double room, dinner in the hotel's Restaurant Sirocco, two days' car rental, admission to three "Jersey Heritage" attractions and a day at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, together with a picnic hamper for two.
Starting four weeks from now (16 February) and continuing to 29 March, Jersey's "Winter Warmers" campaign offers fixed-rate meals at some of the island's top restaurants (more information from 01534 448 800 or www.jersey.com).
Warning of the week: Guatemala
The most enticing destination for backpackers in Central America also has "one of the highest violent crime rates in Latin America", according to the latest Foreign Office advice. The capital, Guatemala City, is the scene of "around 40 murders a week" – which works out at about one every four hours. "Violent attacks on tourists have increased in the past few years and can happen anywhere. Guns are commonly used, and there is a low arrest and conviction rate for perpetrators. Armed robbery of tourists and muggings can happen anywhere in the country.
"You should keep valuables out of sight on arrival at Guatemala City airport. Carjackings and armed robberies on travellers arriving at the airport have increased. Victims have been followed and attacked some distance from the airport. Visibly carrying a laptop bag on arrival at the airport may increase your likelihood of being targeted."
To minimise the chances of an attack while travelling around the country, "avoid the repainted US school buses" that serve as the main form of public transport. "Private Inter-city buses are generally safer, although attacks do occur on these too. Some routes between popular tourist sites should be avoided."
Finally, avoid approaching, or taking pictures of, Guatemalan children without permission from the child's parent or guardian. "This is particularly important advice to follow in more remote areas such as Quiche, Peten and Chiquimula provinces. There has been an increase in the number of lynchings and attempted lynchings related to accusations and fears of child kidnapping. Foreigners have recently become caught up in these violent reactions."
Destination of the week: Porto Santo
This summer, the little-known Atlantic island of Porto Santo opens up to Britain. A new weekly charter flight from Gatwick will make the four-hour hop to the island each Monday from 5 May to 27 October.
Porto Santo is Madeira's sister island. While it lacks the culture, mountains and profuse vegetation of its celebrated sibling, the isle offers a proper "sun, sea and sand" experience in a quiet location.
One-week holidays starting at £499, including flights, transfers and accommodation with breakfast, are on offer from Atlantic Holidays (01452 381 888; www.atlanticholidays.net).
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