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Finola Murtagh

5 lifestyle Instagrams you need to follow

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I hold my hands up here. I’m completely the cliché millennial when it comes to Instagram. I post my avocado brunch with pride, flood my feed with travel pics and snap nearly every social occasion. And although my own page might be anything but ground-breaking, having an Instagram account fills me with inspiration daily.

I love interior design, fashion and all things fun and colourful, so throughout the years there are several accounts that have managed to keep my attention and generally brightened my day. Do you need to inject some excitement into your Instagram? Check out five of my favourites below.

 

Angela Coomey (@angelacoomey)

London Insta-blogger Angela Coomey is your one-stop-shop for all things lifestyle, food and travel. Whether she’s snapping classic cars, billowing floral displays or vintage shop fronts, I can’t help but double tap her stunning posts that make me feel warm and nostalgic. I especially love her account because she tags all the cool coffee shops and eclectic eateries she visits, meaning I can pop them on my tick list for the next time I’m in London.

 

bag&bones lights (@bagandbones)

If you’re into home design like me, I’m sure you’ve fantasised about having a neon light on your wall at least once or twice. I hope I pluck up the courage to follow through with buying  one someday, but until then I’ll trawl @bagandbones Instagram to my heart’s content. Sassy sayings in highlighter yellow and fluorescent fuchsia? Pop culture prints brought to life with neon tubing? I can’t get enough, and once you’ve had a scroll through their feed, I’m sure you’ll feel the same.

 

Lambs and Lions (@lambsandlionsberlin)

The brains behind our very own Casa Cook concept, Lambs and Lions specialise in bringing some James Bond-esque drama to minimalist spaces. Sprinkling their magic on hotels throughout the Med and beyond, expect an Insta full of rugged materials, industrial tones and more leafy succulents than you can shake a stick at.

 

A Plated Affair Catering (@aplatedaffair)

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I will have one of everything. 💁🏻‍♀️

A post shared by A Plated Affair Catering (@aplatedaffair) on

Apologies if you’re reading this between meals, but I’ve been obsessed with Sydney-based catering company, A Plated Affair, since seeing their video on Facebook a few weeks ago.  They create incredible food platters bursting with juicy figs, cured meat, smoked cheeses and so much more. I don’t think I’ve experienced food envy like this in a while, and as well as looking delicious it’s so visually pleasing that I can’t help but stalk their feed and wish I lived on the other side of the world.

 

Cook’s Club (@cooksclubhotels)

Designed for a new generation of travellers, Cook’s Club have really tapped into what their target market wants from a holiday abroad. And with an Instagram full of poolside antics and cocktail-sipping at sunset, it’s hard not to wish away this winter in exchange for longer days, warmer nights and lighter hair.

 

What’s your number one account on this list and why? Do you have a favourite Instagram blogger? I’m always looking for new people to follow, so let me know in the comments below!

The post 5 lifestyle Instagrams you need to follow appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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My favourite inspirational quotes by women

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As some of you might know, today is International Women’s Day: a day to celebrate all the things that makes us proud to be women, or all the reasons you’re proud to know them if you’re not one yourself! Something I loved watching recently was the new Nike advert, entitled ‘Dream Crazier’. Voiced by Serena Williams, it considers how far we’ve come not just in sport, but society in general. And when times get tough, I always reach for inspirational pick-me-ups like these to feel a bit better, one of which is by Serena herself:

“I think in life you should work on yourself until the day you die.”

It reminds me I’m always a work in progress and not to be too hard on myself, plus I think being in competition with yourself is great trait to have! I’ve listed some more sayings and quotes that I love below, and it’d be great to see your favourites in the comments too.

 

Being brave

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” – Maya Angelou

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron

 

Being kind

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou

“Kindness is always fashionable, and always welcome.” – Amelia Barr

 

Being determined

“The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand

“When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.” – Karen E. Quinones Miller

 

Believing in yourself

“Be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” – Judy Garland

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” – Suzy Kassem

“Some people say that I have an attitude. Maybe I do. But I think that you have to. You have to believe in yourself when no one else does; that makes you a winner right there.” – Venus Williams

 

I hope these positive thoughts give you a boost today, just in time for whatever you’ve got planned this weekend. How are you celebrating the women in your life today? Let me know in the comments below!

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Majorca holidays: active adventures

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Looking for adventure on your next holiday? Majorca’s Mediterranean climate means that it’s warm every month of the year making it perfect for an active holiday, especially if you’re a keen cyclist.

Cycler or a biker?

With different types of cycling to choose from, including road and mountain biking, you’ll find an adventure off the beaten track that’s perfect for you. And, with professional cyclists training here during the autumn and winter, you’ll know you’re in good company.

Fancy a faster, more adrenaline-fuelled way to get around? Hire a motorbike and head out on the open road, but be sure to follow all the safety information!

Food, wine and a perfect day

Once you’ve ridden off into the sunset, stop off at a local tapas bar and enjoy a little bit of everything, from garlic prawns to the ever popular, patatas bravas. Sa Caleta in Cala Millor offers up some really tasty paella, so give it a try if you’re staying on the east side of the island.

Wash down your meal with a visit to a traditional winery, where you can try a fragrant range of Spanish wine. Bodega Ribas is the oldest winery on the island so is surely worth a visit. The 100 acres of vineyards include some rare grape varieties that were previously on the verge of extinction, but make sure you give them a call as a visit is by appointment only.

Beautiful settings

After you’ve finished exploring, you’ll need a place to stay that matches up to Majorca’s beautiful setting. The SENTIDO Mallorca Palace is within walking distance of the beach, has a lovely pool, and can even Choose Your Room before you go.

Travelling with little ones? Then, you’ll love BQ Alcudia Sun Village, which has a pirate ship splash park and a Lollo & Bernie Kids’ Club.

Have you considered Majorca for an active holiday? Do you have any recommendations for fun activities here? I’d love to know in the comments below. 

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Welcome to Fun Lab: 4 unique activities to do at Cook’s Club

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We all know that holidays are made for relaxing, but after a few days of chilling by the pool or unwinding at the beach, sometimes it’s nice to do something a little out of the ordinary. At Cook’s Club, you can find a host of quirky activities inside the self-professed Fun Lab. From dancing the night away in your own private disco to smashing up some stuff in the Rage Room, you and your friends will never be stuck for things to do, day or night.

Cook's Club bannerPrivate disco

If the thought of belting out some karaoke classics in public is enough to send you cold with fear, don’t worry, at Cook’s Club you can perform for just a chosen few. You can control the lights, the volume, and of course pick from thousands of songs, both old and new. I chose the two hour-long party package for just €85, so dragging nine of my best mates in with me cost us just over €8 each. That’s certainly the most affordable night out I’ve had in a while!

 

Rage Room

I’m sure we’ve all wanted to let off some steam once or twice in our lives by taking a baseball bat to a few breakable items. However, if you don’t want to smash up any of your own precious belongings or alarm your neighbours, the Rage Room is here at Cook’s Club to let you wreak havoc. Choose a pre-made package or create your own from a variety of items such as shot glasses, bottles, plates, old computers, printers, TVs and much more.

 

Cook´s Club VR

VR cabins

Holidays are an escape from day to day life in themselves, but to take this experience to the next level, try out one of the Fun Lab’s virtual reality cabins. There are a lots of levels of expertise and games to choose between, like Arizona Sunshine and a laser game.  It’s a fully immersive experience with a headset, handheld controllers and state-of-the-art chairs. It’s just a matter of deciding what virtual world you feel like visiting on that day.

Escape room

If you’re really looking to get the adrenaline going, pay a visit to the escape room and choose a theme perfect for you and your friends. There’s  one based on Stephen King’s terrifying novel, IT, one called The Box and The Countdown. With twists, turns and false endings around every corner, you’ll have to race against  the clock and rely on the powers of teamwork to escape a grizzly fate. You’ll float too.. or maybe you won’t.

What’s your favourite way to spend your holiday with your friends? Which of the Fun Lab experiences would you  most  like to try? Let me know in the comments below.

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Being fashion forward at Cook’s Club

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There are cool people everywhere. And by that I mean everywhere. Chilling by the pool in their printed kaftans, snapping pics of each other on inflatables, sipping cocktails at the Captain Cook bar. From edgy tattooed couples to groups of stunning bleach-blonde Swedish friends, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many good looking people in one place! I always find it super hard to dress for a holiday, and every night I seem to be sending the same question in my friends’ group chat: ‘What are you wearing?’.

Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts promo offer

With London Fashion Week just around the corner, I seem to have a bigger interest than ever in how I dress. So, with that, I wanted  to let you know exactly what I packed for my week away at Cook’s Club. And here’s your first tip: it’s time to leave the Crocs at home.

Colours and textures

Cook’s Club Hotels are a melting pot of cultures, colours and textures, so naturally, fashion follows closely behind. I tend to wear  a lot of  black and neutral tones, so I love choosing items with unique textures. Velvet, mesh and satin look amazing against  sun-kissed skin and  bright colours are always a winner with a holiday tan; think lime green, bright yellow and cerise pink.

 

Printed tees   

Printed tees are my favourite fail-safe holiday option. Whether it’s a distressed band cut-off or one with a cheeky slogan, they look perfect with everything. In the day, I knot mine  at  the front and wear with a pair of flowing culottes, and in the evening I’ll tuck it into a frayed denim skirt and pair it with some chunky flatforms; effortless cool perfect for Cook’s Club.

 

Shady business

I don’t  know about you, but no holiday outfit of mine is complete without a pair of statement sunglasses. I love the fact that colour-tinted lenses and quirky shapes have made a comeback. They’re also the perfect accessory to hide a pair of tired  eyes from the night before. I switch between a pair of rose gold-rimmed aviators and some sweeping cat eye shades!

 

Keep it classic

Heading off somewhere super-cool on holiday may seem daunting, but you can build an amazing wardrobe from just a few key pieces that’ll never go out of style. I never go on holiday without a pair of classic leather buckled sandals or some bleached-out denim shorts. A favourite of mine is a linen shirt; there are dozens of different ways to wear it! Knot it into a crop top at night or leave it open on top of a  bikini for poolside chic.

What’s one item of clothing that you couldn’t go on holiday without? How would you make a statement at Cook’s Club? I’d love to hear about your fashion favourites in the comments below.

 

Promotional Code: HOTEL100*

*Save £100 (£1000 minimum spend)  :  Saving is per booking and applies to Thomas Cook package holidays that include accommodation at a Thomas Cook Resorts & Hotels property (branded SENTIDO, Sunwing, SunConnect, Cook’s Club, Casa Cook, Smartline or Sunprime) and flights with Thomas Cook Airlines departing between 1 May 2019 and 30 April 2020, when you spend a minimum of £1,000.   Promo code must be entered on the payment page when booking online for saving to be applied.   You must search and book via the  “Holidays” tab on this website.  Saving applies only to those qualifying holidays displaying the promo code advert within the main holiday photo on the thomascook.com website. Only one promo code per booking can be used. Saving cannot be combined with any other promo code, offer or discount unless stated otherwise. Offer available for a limited time only and may be withdrawn or altered without notice. All holidays are subject to availability and tour operator booking conditions. In the event of any difficulty applying the promo code, please call 0844 879 8515 for assistance. Calls will cost 7p per minute plus network extras.

The post Being fashion forward at Cook’s Club appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Being fashion forward at Cook’s Club

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There are cool people everywhere. And by that I mean everywhere. Chilling by the pool in their printed kaftans, snapping pics of each other on inflatables, sipping cocktails at the Captain Cook bar. From edgy tattooed couples to groups of stunning bleach-blonde Swedish friends, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many good looking people in one place! I always find it super hard to dress for a holiday, and every night I seem to be sending the same question in my friends’ group chat: ‘What are you wearing?’.

Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts promo offer

With London Fashion Week just around the corner, I seem to have a bigger interest than ever in how I dress. So, with that, I wanted  to let you know exactly what I packed for my week away at Cook’s Club. And here’s your first tip: it’s time to leave the Crocs at home.

Colours and textures

Cook’s Club Hotels are a melting pot of cultures, colours and textures, so naturally, fashion follows closely behind. I tend to wear  a lot of  black and neutral tones, so I love choosing items with unique textures. Velvet, mesh and satin look amazing against  sun-kissed skin and  bright colours are always a winner with a holiday tan; think lime green, bright yellow and cerise pink.

 

Printed tees   

Printed tees are my favourite fail-safe holiday option. Whether it’s a distressed band cut-off or one with a cheeky slogan, they look perfect with everything. In the day, I knot mine  at  the front and wear with a pair of flowing culottes, and in the evening I’ll tuck it into a frayed denim skirt and pair it with some chunky flatforms; effortless cool perfect for Cook’s Club.

 

Shady business

I don’t  know about you, but no holiday outfit of mine is complete without a pair of statement sunglasses. I love the fact that colour-tinted lenses and quirky shapes have made a comeback. They’re also the perfect accessory to hide a pair of tired  eyes from the night before. I switch between a pair of rose gold-rimmed aviators and some sweeping cat eye shades!

 

Keep it classic

Heading off somewhere super-cool on holiday may seem daunting, but you can build an amazing wardrobe from just a few key pieces that’ll never go out of style. I never go on holiday without a pair of classic leather buckled sandals or some bleached-out denim shorts. A favourite of mine is a linen shirt; there are dozens of different ways to wear it! Knot it into a crop top at night or leave it open on top of a  bikini for poolside chic.

What’s one item of clothing that you couldn’t go on holiday without? How would you make a statement at Cook’s Club? I’d love to hear about your fashion favourites in the comments below.

 

Promotional Code: HOTEL100*

*Save £100 (£1000 minimum spend)  :  Saving is per booking and applies to Thomas Cook package holidays that include accommodation at a Thomas Cook Resorts & Hotels property (branded SENTIDO, Sunwing, SunConnect, Cook’s Club, Casa Cook, Smartline or Sunprime) and flights with Thomas Cook Airlines departing between 1 May 2019 and 30 April 2020, when you spend a minimum of £1,000.   Promo code must be entered on the payment page when booking online for saving to be applied.   You must search and book via the  “Holidays” tab on this website.  Saving applies only to those qualifying holidays displaying the promo code advert within the main holiday photo on the thomascook.com website. Only one promo code per booking can be used. Saving cannot be combined with any other promo code, offer or discount unless stated otherwise. Offer available for a limited time only and may be withdrawn or altered without notice. All holidays are subject to availability and tour operator booking conditions. In the event of any difficulty applying the promo code, please call 0844 879 8515 for assistance. Calls will cost 7p per minute plus network extras.

The post Being fashion forward at Cook’s Club appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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What you’ll get up to on a typical day at Cook’s Club

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Cook's Club bannerWake up on a Cook’s Club holiday and dive into the extraordinary. Open your eyes to a new generation of hotels for a new generation of travellers.  Not only do these hotels focus on good music, great drinks and fantastic food, but you’ll find an incredible atmosphere that’ll define your summer. 

Take a look at a typical day on holiday at Cook’s Club….you’ll find it’s not so typical after all.

9am: Roll out of bed, a bit sluggish from the night before. Freshen up and head out to the pool.

9:30am: Treat yourself to the best coffee you’ll ever taste at the Captain Cook Bar, found just a few steps from the pool. It’s called the Freddo; two shots of espresso over ice, and trust me, it’s enough to blow off the cobwebs.

10am: Take a dip in one of the two pools, inflatables are already bobbing around; they belong to the hotel and are ready and raring for anyone to use.

11am: A quick nap to catch up with some sleep you missed last night. Nod off to the DJ spinning some chilled, ambient House music; it’s sounds exactly how summer should sound.

1pm: Now you’re hungry. The lunch menu’s surprisingly affordable, around seven or eight euros for a range of delights, from salads and sushi to big juicy burgers. Go for a traditional Greek salad full of fresh feta and olives.

2pm: More of the same: sipping and chilling  to laid-back beats, but this time you’ll be ready to start on the cocktails. There’s classic drinks like Mojitos or Moscow mules, but they’ve added some of their own magic with pitchers of Captain’s Punch: Absolut vodka, lime, orange, grapes and vanilla syrup.

4pm: Start getting ready for dinner. The rooms are spacious and spotless, all cloaked in muted grey, colourful fabrics and warm lighting.

6pm: Back in the Cantina,  it’s now just a matter of deciding which corner of the world to visit! There are seven different stations; salads, a snack counter, grill, pizza, pasta, ‘eat the Greek’ and ‘best of the East’; dedicated to local and faraway flavours.

9pm: Now the party’s really started. There’s very often on event on; Latin nights, R&B parties and BBQ cookouts to name just a few.  The music carries on till midnight, but the early hours of the morning are all yours to explore the local night life.

Cook’s Clubs | designed for you.
So what’s your dream typical day? Does Cook’s Club tick all your boxes? Let me know in the comments below.

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Where to go for an active holiday in winter

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When winter rolls around, it’s tempting to go into hibernation. But if you’re willing to beat the blues, there are still lots of places in the world where the sun’s still shining.

If you’re looking for something a little different to relaxing on a beach, one of our active holidays might be just the thing for you.

COUNTRY WALKS

If you’re a keen walker, hike through Madeiras countryside in the day, before unwinding in the evenings at the luxurious Enotel Lido Madeira. This holiday will give you the perfect balance between rugged nature and glossy relaxation.

 

LIKE A BIKE?

If you’re more comfortable on two wheels than out in the wilderness, you’ll love our cycling holidays. Visit Majorca to experience popular routes like Puerto Pollensa and Cap Formento. Don’t worry if you’re new to the sport either, there’s something for all abilities.

The SENTIDO Playa del Moro makes the perfect base for this kind of holiday; and with our Choose Your Room concept, you can make sure that once you get  back from a full day of riding, you can lay your head exactly where you’ve chosen to.

 

A GOLFER’S DREAM

Looking for a taste of luxury? Tee off in Turkey at the Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort. Here, you’ll find an 18-hole floodlit course, club house and a pro-shop. It’s been listed as one of the ‘top 100 golf clubs in the world’, so you know you’re in for a great time. With so many fantastic choices, it’s just a matter of what to do first.

 

Do you want to go on an active winter break? What’s your favourite way to keep fit on holiday? Let me know in the comments below.

The post Where to go for an active holiday in winter appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Wedding

Say ‘I do’ at SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts

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SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts are a collection of properties that focus on little details and fantastic service, so where better to celebrate your special day? If you’re looking for a stunning seafront location with a real sense of style and elegance, say ‘I do’ at the SENTIDO Cypria Bay. Here, every little detail will be taken care of so you can enjoy your wedding and honeymoon with your loved one in complete relaxation. No stone will be left unturned with a range of cocktail and dinner menus, flower arrangements, DJs or live music, wedding photographers, and every thoughtful feature you could possibly dream of.

If you want to escape the four walls of the hotel for something more authentic, why not branch out and tie the knot at the Town Hall or in a local Cypriot church? Or maybe you’d love to exchange vows on the stunning pier looking out to sea, or in a gazebo decorated just to your liking? We pride ourselves on making your day perfect and helping you to create memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Sometimes it might feel like your wedding day is all about keeping your guests happy, which is why we’ve created a very special package just for you. When you wed at SENTIDO Cypria Bay, you’ll be able to enjoy luxury toiletries (plus bathrobes and slippers), a candlelit dinner for two in our romantic à la carte restaurant, breakfast in your room on the morning of your big day and much more.

 

Haven’t quite decided where you’d like to tie the knot yet? Why not treat yourself and your other half to a romantic Valentine’s getaway in the meantime?

The post Say ‘I do’ at SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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‘We’re going on holiday?!’ The Best Ways to Surprise Your Kids About Going Away

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For many of us, holidays are the most exciting time of the year. It’s a total escape from everyday life, full of total relaxation, fun, and most importantly sun, sand and sea. Kids are very often the most excited of all of us when it comes to holidays, picking out their favourite clothes, far too many toys and quite possibly trying to pack inflatables which are, well, already inflated! The only thing better than going on a holiday you’ve spent ages looking forward to is a holiday which is a total surprise. Take a look at some inspiration below for the big holiday reveal.

 

#1. Getting to know the culture

Know the Culture on Holiday

If you’re taking the kids away somewhere brand new, introduce subtle hints around where they’ll be going. This creates a great lead-up to the surprise and gives them a bit of a taste of what they have to look forward to. For example, if you’ve planned to head off to Italy for your holiday, spend the evening at a traditional Italian restaurant. Tuck into some authentic stone-baked pizza followed by a few scoops of yummy gelato before explaining, ‘there’s a lot more of that where you’ll be going!’

 

#2. Shopping for something new

Shopping for something new on holiday

Each kid has their own individual style, so what better way to let them rock it than by taking them on a shopping trip? Steer them towards the summer clothes, letting them pick out some swimming gear, a new pair of shades or a fun inflatable. You could also choose something special for them from the Lollo & Bernie Shop; it’s a practical as well as fun way to reveal the surprise holiday, and if you’re staying at a hotel with a Thomas Cook Kids’ Club, they’ll be all kitted out, ready for the Mini Disco.

 

#3. Surprise spending money

Pocket Money on Holiday

If your kids are given pocket money every week or two, swap out the pounds or notes they’re used to seeing with some of your holiday currency. See if they can work out where it’s from; they might be able to pick up some clues from the pictures on the notes or what the coins are engraved with. It’s one of the best ways to reveal a holiday surprise to kids and they’ll love imagining all the things they can buy with their spending money. My favourites were always those funky, braided friendship bracelets!

 

#4. Hunt for some clues

Hunt for some holiday clues

If you’re looking for a holiday surprise with some serious wow-factor, send the kids off on a treasure hunt. Lay down clues or riddles all over the house, which will eventually lead them to the surprise. Fill a gift bag with sweeties and snacks for the plane, with an envelope containing a copy of their boarding pass or pictures of where they’ll be staying. If they’re a fan of treasure hunts, take a look at one of our SunConnect Resorts which host them regularly as part of the All Inclusive entertainment.

If you’d like to see some parents surprise their kids with a new holiday experience, watch the Secret Life of 5 Year Olds on Holiday here.

So, have I given you some good ideas for a holiday reveal? Have you left a holiday as a last-minute surprise before? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

The post ‘We’re going on holiday?!’ The Best Ways to Surprise Your Kids About Going Away appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Holidays designed for you: try something new this New Year

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Going on holiday is one of the most exciting things to do. For me, it’s not just the jetting off that I love, it’s the entire lead up to the big day. Planning, researching and deciding can be tricky and I can often find myself visiting several different websites, which is why I wanted to sum up what our favourite Thomas Cook Hotels & Resorts have to offer, and why they’ll feel as though as they’ve been designed just for you.

Cook’s Club

Cook's Club Hersonissos

Cook’s Club Hersonissos

Who: Adult-only

Rating: 3/4-star

Where: Turkey, Spain, Italy, Greece, The Gambia, Egypt, Bulgaria, Majorca

What’s there? Poolside playlists and DJ performances, cocktail menu created by Berlin-based mixologist, street food-inspired Cantina and stripped back urban design.

With a focus on chilled out beats, incredible cocktails and street food-inspired dishes, Cook’s Club Hotels bring an urban vibe to the beach in the coolest destinations, across the Med and beyond. Here, poolside soundtracks throughout the day and a DJ on the decks at night create a laid-back atmosphere around the clock.

 

SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts

SENTIDO Mamlouk Palace

SENTIDO Mamlouk Palace

Who: Families and couples

Rating: 4/5-star

Where: Turkey, Tunisia, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, Croatia, Canaries, Bulgaria, Balearics

What’s there? Incredible service with plenty of attention to detail, wellness centre, mouth-watering cuisine and enriching activities.

In 2019, SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts will be celebrating ten years of taking you to stunning places such as Sardinia, Croatia and Crete. Whether you’re taking the kids away or looking for a couples’ intimate escape, you’ll find the perfect hotel in beautiful surroundings. High quality is standard, with all hotels 4-star or higher. This quality comes from big features and small details.

 

Sunwing Family Resorts

Sunwing Lollo & Bernie show

Sunwing’s Lollo & Bernie show

Who: Families

Rating: 4-star

Where: Spain, Greece, Canaries, Balearics

What’s there? Spacious rooms, fantastic entertainment for kids, fitness centre for Mum and Dad, and kids’ buffet.

At Sunwing Family Resorts, found in destinations such as Majorca, Rhodes and Tenerife, we’ve devoted over 50 years to making sure that families have the best holiday possible. That’s why we bring together everything you’re looking for to make your getaway easier. Our extras include cots, changing tables and pushchairs. And, if travelling with children under two, you’ll receive an extra hold luggage allowance with Thomas Cook Airlines.

 

Casa Cook

Casa Cook Kos

Casa Cook Kos

Who: Families and couples

Rating: 4/5-star

Where: Spain, Greece, Egypt, Balearics

What’s there? Stylish, simple luxury inspired by surroundings, wellbeing for mind, body and soul, locally-sourced menus, handpicked tips and guided excursions.

Casa Cook Hotels are the perfect escape for like-minded people to revel, explore or simply enjoy some well-needed downtime. Here, the emphasis is on wellbeing for the body and of the soul, with opportunities to encounter new people and cultures. Whether you’re into healthy food, spa time, yoga, music or excursions in nature; each moment of mindfulness will enrich your stay.

 

add your holiday extras

Is there anywhere in my list that’s caught your eye? Where are you planning to head next year? Drop me a line in the comments below!

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Where Was The Secret Life of 5 Year Olds on Holiday Filmed?

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If you tuned into your TV sets this evening, you might have seen some kids having fun and splashing about on your screen beneath the Cypriot sun. That’s because Channel 4 have partnered with us on their award-winning show, The Secret Life of 5 Year Olds, for a one-off holiday special. There were water slides to whizz down, challenges to solve and plenty of yummy food at the buffet, so naturally, the question on everyone’s lips is: ‘where was The Secret Life of 5 Year Olds on Holiday filmed’?

Well, wonder no more. Sunwing Sandy Bay, found in the Larnaca area of Cyprus, is a kids’ paradise, as you might’ve been able to tell from the telly. There’s plenty to do all over the resort, for all the family; it’s just deciding which part of the Sunwing Sandy Bay experience is your personal favourite!

 

Fun at Sunwing Sandy Bay

Lollo & Bernie Kids' Club at the Sunwing Sandy Bay

If you saw all the fun everyone was having at Sunwing Sandy Bay and wanted to get in on the action, the resort has something for kids of all ages. From Lollo & Bernie’s Mini Land and toys for toddlers to teen activities, it’s easy to keep the whole family happy. There are five pools in total, including two kids’ pools and the pool with four fun waterslides which you might’ve seen on your screen.

Stop by the Lollo & Bernie Kids’ Club with Bernie the cheeky bear and Lollo the loveable giraffe, for lots of fun and games. Get creative with paints and play some sports, or take a look at our mini-series to see some of the other things that the kids could get up to if you stayed here. There’s also a mini-disco every night, but don’t worry, the family shows finish at around 9:30pm, meaning everyone can get a good night’s sleep!

 

Sunwing Sandy Bay’s Surroundings

Sunwing Sandy Bay's beach

As you might’ve been able to tell by the first episode of the mini-series, one of the first things that comes to a kid’s mind when they’re told they’re going on holiday is that they can’t wait to play in the sand or paddle in the sea. Luckily, Sunwing Sandy Bay is right on the beachfront, meaning there’s never far to walk for little legs. If you wanted to explore something a bit different, Nissi Beach is only a 300m walk away, too.

We’ve also thought about kids when it comes to rooms and apartments.  We know that packing for a holiday with kids can be tough, especially with all those inflatables, changes of clothing and toys! That’s why Sunwing Sandy Bay prides itself on having lots of floor space, storage and smart solutions to keep everything as neat and tidy possible.

 

Health & Fitness at Sunwing Sandy Bay

Fitness at the Sunwing Sandy Bay

Holidays are all about taking some well-earned time to relax. At Sunwing Sandy Bay there’s a huge focus on health and fitness, so you can come home feeling brand new.  The resort is largely non-smoking throughout with an indoor and outdoor gym, fitness classes and games of basketball and football to take part in. There are plenty of healthy options to choose from at the buffet too, so you can fuel up for an active day.

We also care about the health of the environment and Sunwing Sandy Bay has won a GOLD Travelife Award, meaning that there’s a strong interest in sustainability and looking after our world. There are various bins to sort your rubbish into around the site, and they’re keen on not wasting water and electricity which is shown by their 2006 EU-Ecolabel Award.

 

Food at Sunwing Sandy Bay

Breakfast time at the Sunwing Sandy Bay

There’s lots of yummy food to try at Sunwing Sandy Bay; but don’t worry, there won’t be anything like the specialities in the food challenge! Head to the main buffet restaurant for your family meals, but don’t forget to treat yourself to one night at the à la carte restaurant as part of the All Inclusive package. If you fancy grabbing bite to eat while you’re down by the beach, visit the nearby snack bar and try out some lighter bites.

Sunwing Sandy Bay also has an Allergy Ambassador and the kids’ buffet is labelled with the 12 European standard allergens, so kids with dietary needs don’t have to worry about eating something they shouldn’t have; we really have thought of everything to make your family holiday perfect!

 

So, did you catch us on TV tonight? Do you think you’ll be booking your next holiday to Sunwing Sandy Bay? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

The post Where Was The Secret Life of 5 Year Olds on Holiday Filmed? appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Cool Christmas traditions around the world

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So this is Christmas, and what have you done? No, really. How have you spent today? Probably tucking into a traditional Christmas dinner, watching lots of festive telly and potentially overdoing it on the old Bucks Fizz. I know I have! My day is pretty much the same every year, but around the world, people celebrate 25 December in many different ways. Let’s take a look…

 

Caga Tio (Spain)

If you’re in Spain over Christmas, or more specifically the Catalonia region, you’re bound to run into a character called Caga Tio. Caga Tio is, to put it gently, a ‘pooping’ log with a painted on face. The kids in the family are tasked with keeping Caga Tio warm and well-fed in the lead up to Christmas Day, and if they do Mum and Dad will replace him with a larger log every few days until he’s so full he ‘poops’ out lots of little gifts from under his blanket. Who needs St. Nick, eh?

 

Log rolling (Latvia)

From one Christmas log to the next (sorry), let’s look at the Latvian tradition of the Yule Log. Usually a sturdy piece of oak trunk held with ropes, the log is rolled through each town or village which is meant to collect up all the failures, negative thoughts and bad deeds of the year. Then the log is burnt, symbolising the end of any misfortune and a fresh start. Hundreds of people attend to dance, sing and gather around the roaring fire.

 

Creepy Krampus (Austria)

You could be forgiven for thinking this tradition was plucked straight from a Halloween horror story, but in fact, Krampus is an important part of Austrian folklore. It’s St. Nicholas’ evil, horned half-goat half-demon sidekick of course, come to snatch the naughty children away in his sack or whip them with birch sticks. People dress up as this treacherous creature (masks and all) and parade around terrifying kids, because nothing quite says ‘Merry Christmas’ like crying children.

 

Kentucky Fried Christmas (Japan)

Born from a dream in the 70s, Takeshi Okawara (the manager of the first KFC in Japan) is now responsible for the fact around 3.6 million families treat themselves to a bucket of fried chicken on Christmas Day. In a country where just 1% of people are Christian, there’s no fixed tradition, which is where Colonel Sanders comes in. Nowadays, KFC Christmas buckets have to be ordered months in advance to avoid disappointment. Overall, they make up a third of annual sales!

 

Cookie swap (Canada)

While many Canadians claim that Santa Claus himself originated in their country, it’s no surprise the Great White North really goes to town when it comes to Christmas. One of their many signature Christmas celebrations is cookie baking parties where families create and decorate some sweet, festive treats before trading them with others, so everyone gets a delicious mixed batch to enjoy over the holidays. Sounds like a tradition I could definitely get behind.

 

Could you be tempted to try out one of these celebrations next year? Do you have any traditions in your family you’d love to share?  Let me know in the comments below.

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An expert’s guide to Turkey

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When it comes to booking a holiday, you always want to hear a wise word from someone in the know. We caught up with our Turkey expert, Ilhan, to discover what makes Turkey so great for families. Hailing from Turkey originally and now a frequent holiday-maker there, we couldn’t think of anyone better to give us the Turkey lowdown!

So, Ilhan, when you think of Turkey, what springs to mind?

Weather, culture, cuisine, and most of all, friendly people. It’s a holiday with  soul, not just luxurious hotels.

Can you tell us about the culture of the country?

Turkey’s very diverse, it’s a laid-back country with a huge mix of cultures where everyone feels welcome. It’s the perfect place to haggle, drink tea and build genuine friendships.

What should you have at the top of your list to see when you’re in Turkey?

Turkey Historic SitesOne of my favourite excursions to do would be a trip to Cappadocia, where you can find the ‘fairy chimneys’. Here you can ride in a hot air balloon, it’s very romantic! There are ancient ruins too like Ephesus and lots of stunning greenery in Dalaman. The Lycian Way makes a great day out for the kids and is packed with lots of interesting history if you’d like a break from the beach.

Where are the best beaches?

Belek and Antalya have lovely beaches, but I personally prefer the sea in Dalaman. You could also take a short trip to Patara Beach on the south coast which is a protected area with white sands and turquoise waves. Izmir’s lovely too, with a gently-shelving shore that’s perfect for paddling.

Which areas are best for families?

They’re all great for families to be honest, every hotel has something special for kids, whether it’s an aqua park, Kids Club or even a funfair! There are large rooms in some of the Turkey hotels, with up to three interconnecting rooms in one suite.

What Turkish food would you say you have to try?

Turkish Food and DrinkWhen people talk about Turkish food, they automatically say Kebabs! But that’s not necessarily home cooking at its best. One of my favourite Turkey dishes is bulgur wheat with tomatoes, aubergines and other veggies. Everything that grows here is very different, it smells and tastes so much better. I’m not sure whether it’s the climate or the soil but it’s all very fresh and fragrant.

Finally, what are your favourite things about the country itself?

It’s got to be the space; the space in the rooms, by the pool, on the beach. You’re never left fighting for an empty sunbed. It’s also truly is All Inclusive experience, so there’s no extra money for sunbeds on the hotel beach, pool towels or any other nice-to-haves that they’d charge for in other places. It’s also a great place to catch some winter sun; it’s just as warm as any other destination around four hours away, but the facilities are far superior.

 

So, there we have it! Could you be tempted to head to Turkey for a bit of winter sun? Or are you a Turkey expert yourself? I’d love to hear your experiences below.

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New Cook’s Club Hotels for 2019

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Get ready to welcome our six new Cook’s Club Hotels, from Spain and Sunny Beach to Greece and El Gouna.

If you’ve been following my adventures over the last few months, you’ll know I was recently lucky enough to spend some time at Cook’s Club Hersonissos. I fell completely in love with the concept there. It was me to a T. I got to enjoy delicious salads and tunes ‘til midnight, not to mention the huge selection of premium cocktails: my favourite was the Moscow mule! There was a vibe I hadn’t experienced before; and I especially miss the nights dancing by the bar with the DJ on the decks and chatting to new friends from all over the world.

That’s why I was so excited to see there are SIX new Cook’s Club Hotels coming in summer, across the Med and beyond. There’s now a Cook’s Club for every type of traveller, whether you want to soak up the sun on Sardinia’s sandy coast, escape to a stunning mountainside in Marmaris or stay near to the party hotspots in Palma. So, let’s take a look!

 

Cook’s Club Palma Beach

Before heading to the beach found just a short walk away, why not unwind on the cool outside seating areas? The island’s nearby capital of Palma is the perfect place to stroll cobbled streets and take in cool cityscapes, before soaking up the club scene.

 

Cook’s Club Adakoy

Tucked away on Adakoy’s mountainside, you can lounge by the pool all day listening to sun soundtracks. Don’t forget to try out some juicy burgers and vegan treats at Cantina and travel in style, catching the water taxi across the bay to the nightlife in Marmaris.

 

Cook’s Club Sunny Beach

This summer, Cook’s Club Hotels are bringing some serious style to Sunny Beach. It’s just a short walk from the golden three-mile beach where you can hang out with friends. Or you could always just chill out under this stunning sun terrace!

 

Cook’s Club El Gouna

Found in the perfect location on the lagoons of El Gouna, you can sip cocktails during the day before hitting up the surrounding bars and clubs at night. Anyone for a bit of year-round sun and sparkling turquoise waters? I know I am!

 

Cook’s Club Alanya

Found on a beachfront in the middle of all the action, you’ll find bars and food spots right on your doorstep. Chill out in modern surroundings with atmosphere, make new friends and work your way around the colourful cocktail menu.

 

Cook’s Club Sardnia

Escape to Italy this summer with a trip to Cook’s Club Sardinia, found in Sao Teodoro. Home to SUNANDBASS every September, this place is already a music mecca and famed for its delicious cuisine, stunning beaches and turquoise waters.

 

And if you want to get there now…

 

Cook’s Club Gambia

Head to Gambia’s stunning Kotu Beach for a slice of winter sun. This newly-built gem promises a uniquely bohemian twist to your winter holiday on the African coast.

 

 

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Get to grips with Crete

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When you wander into Cook’s Club, it’s like walking in to a different world. You step through the quirky shipping container entrance and suddenly find yourself surrounded by leafy plants, colourful rustic rugs (yes, outside!) and striped hammocks. And although the hotel’s an escape in itself, it’s definitely worth exploring the local area to soak up some of Crete’s stunning sights. It’s an island full of history, culture and incredible food, so make sure you choose one of my top picks below for things to do in Crete; from cheeses to caves, there’s something incredible for you to experience.

 

#1/ Traditional villages

Traditional Villages in CreteNo trip to one of the Greek Islands is complete without a visit somewhere completely authentic. I headed up the mountain to the village of Kastamonista to experience this for myself. I think the thing I love most about Crete is the fact that so many of these villages seem to be near enough self-sufficient. Wild herbs growing by the roadside, bunches of grapes hanging from vines over walls, zesty limes ready and waiting to be picked. Stop by the tiny church, eat at a traditional taverna and befriend the locals.

 

#2/ Goat Valley

Goat Valley in CreteGoats. Dozens of them. When I paid them a visit, they descended on me from the mountain top, hooves clattering and bells ringing. Luckily I was armed with some kernels of corn, which were hastily nabbed when I held out my hand; they’re really friendly and it’s lovely to see animals trotting around in their natural habitat. Soon after, I was taken to a cheese farm higher in the mountains where I found the tastiest, freshest cheese I’ve ever had. I’d definitely recommend buying some for the onward journey like I did!

 

#3/ Zeus’ cave

Zeus Cave in Crete You can’t take a trip to Crete without delving into Ancient Greek mythology. I took a trip up to Psychro Cave, which is supposedly the birthplace of Zeus; it’s an ancient Minoan landmark in the Lasithi plateau. First, there was a short (but fairly steep) climb to the top, so make sure you wear some decent trainers! Then we descended into the cave. It’s near enough in darkness aside from the small spotlights that lit up thousands of stalactites dangling  above me. I suppose we’ll never know for sure if Zeus really was born here, but it really was an amazing experience.

 

#4/ Nearby nightlife

Now, we’ve covered what you can get up to in the day, but at night, the vibe in Crete is totally different. Cook’s Club is a great place to get the party started and enjoy a good drink around the pool with chilled vibes, but there are also lots of cool bars right on your doorstep to keep the fun going long into the night. Palm and New York Beach Club in Hersonissos are my absolute favourites and the perfect place to unwind after a long day packed with culture. And don’t forget to stop for some gyros on the way home: your future hungover self will thank you.

 

5/ Elafonissi Beach

Elafonissi Beach in CreteOkay, I must admit, it’s a bit of a trek… but trust me, it’s so worth it. If you’re interested in doing something a bit further away, hire a car and take the four-hour journey to the west coast of Crete to discover Elafonissi Beach. Here you’ll find rippling turquoise waves, pink-hued sands and shores peppered with lush, green vegetation. It sounds almost too good to be true, but trust me, it exists. When the tide’s out, sometimes you can reach the island without even getting your toes wet. Your Instagram will be the talk of the town.

 

So, have I convinced you to do any of these things in Crete? Do you have any recommendations of your own to add to my top 5 list? Let me know in the comments below.

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Spotlight on: SENTIDO Cypria Bay

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For me, choosing the perfect destination to visit on holiday is only half the battle. It’s fair to say you’ll be spending the majority of your time in the hotel, so even if you’re out and about a bit, you’ll still want somewhere simply stunning to unwind at the end of a long day. That’s where SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts come in: they’re all about delicious food, incredible service and laid-back activities. In particular, I’d like to shine a spotlight on SENTIDO Cypria Bay, found in Paphos. So come on in and find out what makes this particular hotel so special.

 

Location love

SENTIDO Cypria Bay LocationThe SENTIDO Cypria Bay has a stunning seafront location. It’s found just 2km from Paphos’ ancient harbour town, meaning you’re right in the centre of all the action: think traditional tavernas, quirky street art and winding side streets. It’s the perfect place to haggle at market stalls, try some local cuisine and maybe even take a boat trip around the colourful coastline.

 

Fantastic food

SENTIDO Cypria Bay FoodSENTIDO Hotels & Resorts pride themselves on mouth-watering cuisine, and SENTIDO Cypria Bay is certainly no exception. Here, you can enjoy a late breakfast until 11am for that all-important holiday lay in. There’s an à la carte restaurant to give you the feeling of fine dining without leaving your hotel, or if you simply want to stick to the buffet restaurant there’s still two themed nights each week to sample some flavours from around the world.

 

All sorts of activities

SENTIDO Cypria Bay ActivitiesSometimes, when you’re on holiday, it’s good to break the day up with a few activities. If you stay at SENTIDO Cypria Bay, you can keep fit while having fun. There are plenty of activities to get involved with here,  from beach volleyball and archery to French balls and table tennis. If you feel like slowing down the pace slightly,  make use of the sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi, or take part in a Pilates class.

 

Nearby attractions

If you don’t mind getting out and about to explore all that’s going on around Paphos, there are some great things for you to discover.  Now, I’m partial to a glass or two of wine, and if you are too,  the Tsangarides Winery  might be the perfect choice. Not only can you enjoy some taste wine samples and cheese, salami and breadsticks, you can also enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the vines that stretches for miles.

Does the SENTIDO Cypria Bay sound up your street? Would you like to know more? Let me know in the comments below.

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