Travel agenda

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

From Barcelona, Brazil and Bilbo to William III's palace and Aldi ski gear

1. Coast away

Five days before Christmas, Hyatt's contemporary Andaz brand launches a luxury resort on Costa Rica's lush Papagayo peninsula. The 150-room Pacific retreat is located on the Central American country's north-west shoulder. It offers three restaurants, a spa and myriad nearby beaches for surfing, scuba-diving and sailing.

2. Kick back

The Vana Malsi Estate is a new destination spa that's due to open in the Indian province of Uttarakhand on 4 January. The 21-acre estate is set amid sal, mango and lychee trees, with views of the Himalayan foothills, yoga pavillions, treatment rooms and indoor and outdoor pools. Three-night all-inclusive packages are available from Rs141,000 (£1,379) pp.

3. Ring thing

As the second part of Peter Jackson's cinematic trilogy of The Hobbit opens, Viator is offering three new Tolkien-themed tours of locations in New Zealand. One option takes you to the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, for a behind-the-scenes look at Bilbo Baggins' house, with breakfast at the Green Dragon Inn. The £206 price includes transfers from Auckland.

4. Capital link

Starting on Sunday, London Euston gets reconnected with Edinburgh Waverley by a daytime rail service. Virgin Trains is taking on East Coast (not to mention British Airways and Virgin Atlantic) between the English and Scottish capitals. The link will also provide direct trains from Milton Keynes and Coventry to Edinburgh.

5. Alpine Aldi

Supermarket chain Aldi has just launched a low-cost ski gear range. It includes an adult ski and snowboard helmet (£19.99); a camcorder for keeping track of your skills on the slopes (£89.99); men's and women's jackets (£24.99); children's snowsuits (£9.99); goggles (£7.99), gloves (£4.99) and more. Just the thing for St Moritz this season.

6. Royal revels

In 1699, William III opened up Kensington Palace for a season of parties, with games, music and gambling for "Persons of Quality". This Christmas, the royal residence has been transformed once again into a winter pleasure palace, until 6 January. Festive games will include arranging a tower of fruits, bowling and dancing. Adults £15; under-16s free.

7. Spain train

The much-delayed Paris-Barcelona high-speed TGV train is due to start on 15 December. The connection will reduce the journey time between the two cities to six-and-a-half hours, and provide an enticing alternative to flying. Tickets start at €59. The Man in Seat 61 has written a comprehensive guide to the new service:

8. Brazil bound

Visit Brazil early next year before the World Cup crowds descend in June. The leading Brazilian airline, Tam, is selling non-stop flights from Heathrow to Rio and Sao Paulo for £681 and £697 respectively, for travel between 21 January and 20 May 2014 – though cheap seats are scarce during the culmination of Carnival early in March. Book by 19 December.

people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Management Accountant

    28,000 to 32,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our client, a hospitality busi...

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?