Shiki-Shima's lounge car
Shiki-Shima's lounge car

Travel Agenda: where to go and what to know in travel this week

Luxury trains in Japan, bargain Eurostar tickets, France petrol shortage map, a new Cornish hotel and more

Tuesday 31 May 2016 12:04

Track changes

Japan will welcome two new luxury touring trains next spring. The Twilight Express Mizukaze will visit Kyoto, Matsue, Izumo and Miyajima in western Japan, as well as taking in the coast of the Sea of Japan, Mt Daisen, and the Seto Inland Sea islands. It will accommodate just 30 passengers at a time. The Train Suite Shiki-Shima will launch on 1 May and travel from Tokyo through the north-eastern region of Tohoku and on to Hokkaido with space for 34 passengers. Applications for tickets are open now.

Star performer

Eurostar Snap is a new digital hub enabling passengers to book tickets to Paris and Brussels for as low as £25 one-way between 2-30 June. The catch? You must be prepared to travel at a time of the operator’s choosing (although you can specify morning or afternoon), likely to be periods of low demand such as late night and during the middle of the day. You must also book at least a week in advance and tickets are non-refundable. Times are confirmed 48 hours before departure.

Motorists queuing at a petrol station in Combourg, western France

Tanked up

In response to the ongoing strikes across France, the petrol price comparison site has produced a (French-language) map displaying petrol stations across the country where fuel is currently running low or unavailable. The worst-affected areas are Paris/Ile-de-France and Loire Atlantic, as well as port regions such as Pas de Calais and Seine Maritime and the Cote d’Azur.

Designs for the good life

Following the Papaya Playa and San Giorgio hotel projects in Tulum and Mykonos respectively, Design Hotels has opened a wellness retreat in Ibiza this summer. La Granja is a members-only retreat in an old, stone farmhouse. Guests can book a room to become a single-use member, or pay €200 (£152) to become a full member. The 10 elegantly styled bedrooms will be bolstered by a programme of farm workshops, yoga and meditation sessions and more.

La Granja

Grape expectation

Opening on Wednesday, Bordeaux’s ambitious £63m Cité du Vin will celebrate the region’s most celebrated export. Modelled on a “swirl of wine”, the futuristic glass museum is full of interactive elements, tasting rooms and 20 themed areas, as well as a shop stocking 800 different wines. Workshops, tours and restaurants will complete the sensory experience. Admission €20 (£15).

Animal encounters

Timbuktu Travel is a new digital platform enabling users to put together a safari in Africa, rather than buying an “off-the-peg” itinerary. Trips are available in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia and range from “on a shoestring” (from £1,120pp) to “offbeat Zambia. Once a holiday has been decided on, Timbuktu uses local outfits and ground handlers to put the trip together. While the holidays don't include international flights, they are financially protected by SATSA (Southern Africa Tourism Services Association).

Thai closure

All of Thailand’s marine national parks close annually during the monsoon to allow them to recover from the busy tourist season, however, Koh Tachai island in Similan National Park off Phangnga province is now closed indefinitely and will not reopen in October. The island’s popularity often means it is overcrowded, withmore than 1,000 people on the beach at one time, so a decision has been made to allow it to rehabilitate. It is thought that some companies are still selling trips illegally, however.

Koh Tachai

Down on the farm

New York-based British chef April Bloomfield and Tom Adams of London’s Pitt Cue barbecue restaurant and brewery are teaming up on a new project in Cornwall. The pair are converting a Georgian dairy farm near Launceston to a guesthouse, farm and dining room that will host workshops and events throughout the year. Coombeshead Farm is slated to open later this summer.

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