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Covid-19 – Travel Advice & Information

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We’ve been quietly working away in the background of Covid-19 helping a substantial number of our Easter bookings as a matter of priority. It’s been a complex, and rapidly changing situation – with each country changing their travel advice almost daily, and airlines and hotels offering seemingly contradictory advice on a regular basis. Simple things like changing flights have turned into gargantuan tasks – with many hours spent on hold. Of course airlines & hotels are now largely short-staffed and working from home too.

During this time, we’ve also implemented a working from home policy for all our staff. We’re asking at this moment that all enquiries are sent by e-mail to hello@ethostravel.co.uk so they are distributed and dealt with appropriately. We have core hours of Monday – Friday 10am-4pm – purely to enable us to deal with urgent administrative work outside of these hours, and can assure you that all e-mails are being actioned asap.

It’s not an ideal situation, but slowly we are getting there, and thank you for all your patience and support at this time. Holidays are being rebooked, new enquiries are returning, and you’re still allowed to dream about your future travels!

With so much information changing, we havn’t implemented a ‘one size fits all’ policy for bookings impacted. However, we are able to address all bookings due to travel up to 30th June 2020. Please do remember though that every trip we make is different – so feel free to contact us about your specific trip.

Due to travel before the end of June 2020?

To give you peace of mind, we have implemented special travel policies for all bookings to any destination departing before the 30th June 2020.

We will defer your booking without any amendment fee. We will pass on any upfront costs but do our utmost to limit these as far as possible, and where possible are happy to recommend similar dates that provide identical holiday prices.

Some dates (such as travel at Christmas) attracts peak pricing, but there maybe dates that are cheaper – and we will pass on all savings.

We will waive our normal cancellation conditions for travel within 21 days and instead revert to those for 70 days out (loss of full deposit plus any costs including flights).

Want to rebook but unsure of dates?

We can pick an arbitrary date and rebook your holiday without an amendment fee, providing an ATOL Certificate so your holiday is 100% financially protected. We can then look at changing your dates again in the future (again, without amendment fees, but additional costs such as changing to peak season dates will be passed on).

We are *very* hopeful that an announcement will be made soon by the CAA that ensures Travel Vouchers can be issued and 100% ATOL Protected to avoid this faff!

Due to travel from 01 July 2020 onwards?

For bookings departing from the 1st July onwards, our normal terms and conditions for cancellations apply and can be found here. You balance however, is still due on the normal date, but we will look at extending this where possible.

Will Travel Insurance Cover Me for Cancellation?

Although this depends on the insurance, and individual situation, we have found our clients with more immediate travel plans have been able to get refunds. We have produced a small guide to assist with navigating Travel Insurance and can forward to you on request from hello@ethostravel.co.uk – we can of course provide Cancellation Invoices for your insurers as well.

 

Coronavirus – why have we been so quiet?

We’ve been keen to keep our clients up to date with unfolding events since 01st February – the first date that a post-January Tour Operator gathering (called TGIF – ‘Thank God It’s February’ – an unfortunate turn of phrase as it turned out) led to worried about how everything was going to unfold. We were all very worried about how our Hong Kong & China would be impacted, turns out that was the least of our worries!

But the reality is that as the situation unfolded, airline, hotel and Foreign Office advice changed by the hour – and sometimes by the minute. Any advice we’d provided on the website would be irrelevant by the time we published it. So, we focussed on the individual – each of our lovely clients, their hopes and fears when it came to their bookings. And obviously the last couple of weeks has been horrendous in every which way. We hope that simply being there, and being honest has helped – although we appreciate that’s no replacement for firm policies.

We’ve spent hours on the phone to airlines, getting people home, trying to rebook, and in some case getting people out of countries as soon as possible. We think we’ve done well, but there is no patting of ourselves on the back.

But to put it bluntly, the travel industry is in turmoil. Not only have we lost 2 of our busiest months, positivity is unlikely to change in medium term. And where Tour Operators like ourselves have been hit hardest is that our old bookings – many of the bookings from 2019 have been lost – we’re being squeezed by the past, present and the future.

At the moment we’re reliant on government advice with the Package Travel Directives, and like all travel companies and the populace at whole assistance to move forward. But we’re looking forward to the moment that we can start looking forward.

For the time being, our offices will be open 10-4, Monday to Friday. E-mails will always be best, as we will mix homeworking and if necessary, very solitary office work (lockdown depending), and will have minimal staffing. But we’ll be here for you, and at some point, we’ll have an enquiry for a new booking, at which point, the celebrations will begin in style.

Do just drop us a line – even if it is just to say hello!

Most importantly, take care of yourselves… South East Asia is calling… well, eventually!

Sam, Richard, Anna & those poor souls behind the scenes (mainly Adam to be fair)

hello@ethostravel.co.uk

 

Christmas Island: The Greatest Unluckiest Destination You Havn’t Been To (Yet)

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I’d been toying over the last weekend with sending out an Ethos Travel mailshot for Christmas Island – it’s a destination that is pretty much exclusive to us in the UK, and as an Australian destination far removed from the bushfires, seemed a safe destination to push. Belated rains had delayed the world famous crab migration to January so many newspapers were picturing the island under a sea of red crabs, my social media was awash with huge numbers of whale sharks and crabs stealing coffee cups  making it a great time to focus on the island.

Christmas Island Red Crab

But then, in-keeping with the island’s continuous run of poor luck, the Australian government decided to turn the island into a Coronavirus Quarantine Camp for Australians trapped in Wuhan, increasing the population overnight by 25% with 250+ unsolicited guests. Slightly more hysterically, The West Australian newspaper went with the clickbait headline ‘VIRUS ISLAND’ which must have confused and infuriated Christmas Island’s residents who would otherwise be largely unaware of their countryfolk arrivals, as they are kept isolated on the other side of the island well away from any settlements. There were also questions as to what would happen if any of those in isolation actually had Coronovirus – the island’s small hospital couldn’t treat them, so they’d have to be medivaced to Perth at a cost of over AUS$50,000. Why not just send them there in the first place? One thing Western Australia is not short of is space after all.

It felt like groundhog day in so many ways. Christmas Island had initially been a spot on the map I’d been keen to visit since I first noticed it on an Indonesia map travelling through Asia aged 11 years old. I’d seen the David Attenborough footage of him being overrun by 100 million crabs from The Trials of Life (“one of my top life experiences” he’d called it – and when Sir David says that, you listen), and through correspondence with stalwart Tourism Association Marketing Director Linda Cash I secured a 5 day trip through a new flight from Kuala Lumpur.

The timing was perfect. The islands casino, which had provided significant employment had closed down several years earlier, when the Asian stock market crash reverberated around the region, reducing the customer base almost overnight. The phosphate mine on the island (originally, unsurprisingly set up by the British) was seeing stocks run down, so a logical decision was made to promote Christmas Island as ‘Australia’s own Galapagos’. This was a prime eco-tourist destination. The number of red crabs had indeed been reduced to 40 million thanks to unwelcome crazy yellow ant invaders, but with the vast majority of the island a national park it was a stunning destination. Huge Coconut Crabs wander the beaches and the lack of predators meant it was easy to get close up to the islands endemic birdlife for amateurs to take incredible photos. The stunning underwater life can be reached from the main beach on Flying Fish Cove – just wander offshore for incredible coral and marine life (and at times, Whale Sharks), and then wander back onto the beach to tick off an Australian stereotype by sticking a shrimp on the barbie -handily provided for anyone to use.

Christmas Island Whaleshark

Christmas Island was perfect – a small scale, eco-friendly destination that had something for everyone (except ‘luxury’ hotels, but the recent addition of Swell Lodge provides definitive exclusivity). Most importantly, it had the Christmas Island people, who were unabashedly warm & inquisitive. I didn’t have to buy a beer in any of the bars, I’d been interviewed on the island’s radio station, I’d drunk the excellent tax-free wine (when I’d worked out when the supermarket was open) and experienced the excellent facilities after an eye injury had left me in their hospital depriving me of the chance of any diving.

Despite the isolation, Christmas Island was now easy to reach – the closest part of Australia to the UK, and thanks to a once weekly flight from Asia, no need to add 9 hours unnecessary flying by routing via Perth. They say the greatest places are the hardest to reach – well this wasn’t the case with Christmas Island, for better and for worse.

For starters, on arrival I’d discovered my girlfriend had been taken into hospital in London. But there was no flight out for 5 days, and ships took weeks to reach the mainland. And of course, this meant the island was a target for asylum seekers – the easiest (but most perilous) way to reach Australia was via sea from Java. And indeed the day after Ethos Travel launched our Christmas Island Programme I’d found the largely unknown destination on the front of every newspaper and website after a tragic sinking of a boat full of asylum seekers captured on film from the porch of our main hotel.

Sadly, the island then became a pawn for Australia’s political parties as boat after boat of asylum seekers landed on the island, leading to the government to create a controversial policy of flying all ‘boat people’ to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, denying them the opportunity to apply for asylum in Australia. The toxicity of the situation was best highlighted during a random pint in a pub in Covent Garden. An Australian Human Rights Lawyer sitting on the table had overheard me discussing our problems with selling Christmas Island as a tourist attraction, which led to her venting at us for selling the destination as ‘inhumane’ whilst forgetting it is actually an Australian territory – and there are over 1,000 Christmas island inhabitants merely seeking to making a living having all these incredulous decisions about it’s future thrust upon it by decision makers 11 hours away in Canberra, literally half a world away. Often it is Australian’s themselves that have the most negative view of this incredible destination. Domestic tourism is minimal, marketing funding is regularly squeezed (being a territory rather than part of Western Australia means that large marketing spending largely passes Christmas Island by – even when expensive Kylie led campaigns are being run at huge costs whilst the news runs with Australia burning down.

However, the contentious re-homing strategy worked in that it stopped boat people arriving and the detention centre population dwindled to a Sri Lankan family of 4. A new dive centre was opened for guests of German based Extra Divers, Swell Lodge opened to huge positive coverage – no longer would we have to titillating press releases to get exposure – the island’s own natural beauty would see Christmas Island get the media coverage it needed and deserves – such as in this piece in the Daily Telegraph last weekend .

So forget about the brief Coronavirus inspired disruption to a very positive period for the island. If you need it re-iterated why you should go, read this comprehensive piece from Wanderlust journalist Martyn Symington – and you’ll start to realise why we, alongside David Attenborough and Brian Cox have fortunate enough to be enthralled by the joys of Christmas Island.

With additional thanks to Sue Warner & Lisa Preston for fact checking! We’d rather be keeping you busier with more UK clients in 2020!

Travel Industry Propaganda & Blue Monday Myths!

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Travel Industry Propaganda & Blue Monday Myths

So Happy Blue Monday! Theoretically the most depressing day of the year for a variety of reasons, but you’ll know that as you’ve probably had a whole bunch of e-mails about it already.

There’s even a formula that has supposedly been created to work out that today is, indeed, the most depressing day of the year. But, to be honest, it’s been rather sunny out the window of our London office and we’re feeling positive, so we thought we’d dispel a few of these myths.

‘Blue Monday’ was apparently invented by Sky Travel as a marketing campaign in 2005, but it’s a load of codswallop isn’t it? Yes, it is.

It’s rubbish for many reasons, but in travel it has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As a result of people being told January is depressing, airlines and hotels rush out special offers in greater abundance in January and February than they will the rest of the year. That’s why you are getting so many holiday offers at the moments.

If you’re thinking of diving in and booking something, here is some general advice:

– If you are looking at something tailor-made, adventurous, or off the beaten track it’s unlikely you’ll benefit massively, so work towards getting something you’re 100% happy with, however long it takes. That chartered klotok in the heart of Kalimantan is definitely not currently offering ‘stay 3 nights, pay for only 2’.

– If you’re stuck to rigid school holidays you’re unlikely to benefit, especially from cheaper airfares – sorry! But this may help https://www.ethostravel.co.uk/2017/10/19/restricted-school-holidays-read/

– If you’ve a fixed date (your honeymoon for example!) you may well benefit, but we could suggest a couple of great options (be it hotel, resort or even country) to maximise what you could get from your budget.

If you’re one of the above, call us for a chat or e-mail us and we’ll give some honest advice about when the best time is to look at booking or at least start enquiring. We frequently tell our clients “there is no rush” when all the advertising they see is telling you to “panic, rush, book now….”. It’s often rubbish.

However, if you are completely flexible as to when and where you can travel, and just want an amazing deal, read on below where you’ll find some amazing deals that are genuinely ONLY available to book in January. There is limited availability, but these represent some of the best deals we have come across in recent years.

These WILL NOT exist after the end of the month (or, technically 2nd February).

The reason? All these prices include FULL BUSINESS CLASS FLIGHTS and LUXURY ACCOMMODATION.
The catch? Availability is limited. A minimum of 2 people can travel.
The perks? Flat beds, comfy lounges, Luxurious hotels with Ethos Travel 5* service and expertise.
We’ve included prices for travel in May and June as availability is better. But other dates are available and vary by destination.

Call us. E-mail us. Please don’t post us a letter.

Paradee Koh Samet: 7 nights including breakfast & transfers From £2,099 per person
TIP: Upgrade to Pool Villa for £239 p.p

Aleenta Hua Hin-Pranburi 7 nights including breakfast & transfers From £1,949 per person
TIP: Beachfront Pool Residence + £185 p.p

The Sarojin Khao Lak 7 nights including breakfast & transfers From £1,989 per person
TIP: Upgrade to a Pool Residence + £266

Aleenta Phuket-Phang Nga 7 nights Grand Deluxe Pool Villa from £2199 per person
TIP: Add 2 nights at Elephant Hills Luxury Tented Camp for £328

Rayavadee, Krabi 7 nights including breakfast & transfers from £2,499 per person
TIP: Add a stay in Bangkok to make the connection smooth (or you’ll have a bit of a wit, albeit in a business class lounge)

These incredible offers are only available until January 30th
But will sell out quicker – so give us a call on 020 7284 1888 to book now!*
If you prefer to e-mail – reach us on hello@ethostravel.co.uk

Large small print:
– Valid for travel in May, June with some offers valid in September-November
– Full Business Class on Lufthansa/Swiss Air/Brussels Airlines – a companion fare so at least 2 people must travel, and at least 60% of the total is payable as a deposit
– Breakfast, all taxes and transfers are included (road transfers are private, Rayavadee and Paradee speedboat transfers are scheduled, and may be shared)
– All trips can be extended, stopovers can be added, we are after all, tailor made experts!
*as long as now is Saturday 11:00-17:00, or Mon-Fri 09:00-19:00pm

Why you should call us before booking those flights!

We have lots of people that contact us after booking their flights to arrange the ‘ground’ part of their trip – often it’s because they have seen an ‘amazing deal’ or booked as ‘there were only 2 seats left’, well at least that’s what they were told.

But, it should be noted…

– 95% of the time we can book the same flights for the same price or cheaper (we work with 95% of the world’s airlines, but are keen to avoid the 5% – mainly as they involve transfers in China or India which can cause transit issues)
– We have access to Tour Operator (IT) fares that you don’t – these are flights that are normally cheaper when booked in conjunction with accommodation, and do not require us to issue the tickets at the same time (so we can build together an itinerary)

However, cost aside these are the most important points:

–  Booking cheap return flights to a ‘hub’ (i.e. Bangkok when you want to goto Koh Samui) can cause unnecessary costs & reduce your holiday time as you have to build in an unnecessary stopover. We will only put you on ‘connecting flights’ that ensure your baggage gets checked through, and you are protected in the event of delays. Otherwise you may end up with unwanted stopovers at the beginning and end of your holidays.
– We can recommend airlines that may fly into smaller airports, avoid stopovers, and reducing flying time at no additional cost (and often cheaper)
– If you book flight inclusive holidays you are automatically ATOL protected. That’s got to be a good thing right?
– We have vast airline knowledge – we’ve probably flown on your chosen airline, aircraft and route and can tell you why we don’t personally fly on 10 across 777-300’s!

The main exception tends to be ‘reward flight’ bookings using your airmiles. We can’t book those for you. But we do book them for ourselves, so at least let us recommend routings before you book to ensure you’re flying to the right airports! However, do note that long haul availability on Avios (the airmiles currency of British Airways) to South East Asia is very scarce – so do look to book almost a year in advance!

Now you’ve booked, now what?

Congratulations! Now you can sit back and start dreaming! But, whilst you’re doing that do take into account you may need to do a bit more planning.

Do you have your travel insurance in place?

– Cancellation cover is one of the most important aspects of travel insurance, protecting you in the event you have to cancel due to unforeseen issues. Our typical example is a honeymooning client who broke his leg playing 5 a-side a week before his wedding. He still got married, but had to delay his honeymoon. His travel insurance cover meant he was covered for all costs in re-arranging his honeymoon.

Is your passport valid?

– For most South East Asian destinations you need 6 months validity left from your date of return to the UK. And at least 2 clear pages should you need stamps. Some countries can be very strict and deny you boarding, so double check as soon as possible

Did the names you give us match your passport?

Your flight tickets MUST match your name as per passport. Are you going to change your name after you get married? In which case you can update your passport prior to getting married, but most people do not as it’s something else to add to your already overrunning wedding list.

Do you need a visa?

U.K Passport Holders don’t for most countries in South East Asia. But for some countries (we’re looking at your Vietnam!) this changes on a regular basis, or you may need passport photos and some US$ cash for a Visa on Arrival (for example, in Laos). Do check with your consultant if you are unsure, as it’s your responsibility to ensure you have correct documentation.

Oh, and for those travelling to Christmas Island, YES you do need an Australian Visa in advance. But you can do it online, for free here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/evisitor-651

What about jabs?

Going to Kalimantan? Papua New Guinea? Well, you probably will need to have that discussion about anti-malarials. But for most South East Asian Destinations, you simply need to check your vaccinations for living in the UK is up to date (yes really).

This NHS site offers useful guidance, but if in doubt, speak to your GP. We’re well travelled, but we’re not qualified medical professionals!

https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations#asia-east

What are the terms & conditions?

Well, you can read them all here (Full Terms and Conditions). It’s worth paying attention to things like cancellation and amendment charges, but these are all very standard.  However, we do like to re-iterate you should check over your Confirmation Invoice once you receive it (with your ATOL certificate if you book an ATOL bonded holiday) and let us know if anything is incorrect. Also pay attention to your payment deadlines – and make sure any balances are paid on time!

When will I receive my final documentation?

Our lovely departure pack with final itinerary, any vouchers (which are very rare these days) and copies of your e-tickets in our lovely ticket wallet get sent out 14 days prior to departure.

What about booking specific seats and meals on flights?

Sadly, many airlines now charge for specific seat requests. Good schedule airlines will ALWAYS try and seat you together, but if you want specific seat numbers in advance, please let us know and we will try and assist. We can never book emergency exit seats. If you do not wish to pay in advance, then we would recommend you check-in online as close as possible to it opening (normally 48 hours before departure) as you will have the widest range of seats to pick from. You’ll need a printer handy for your boarding pass, and your passport in case you need to enter APIS information! The Locator you need to access Online Check-In is under your flight line on your final documentation. Please let us know if you’d like it earlier!

Lombok Update

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We’ve recently returned from a trip to Indonesia that gave us the opportunity to see how the earthquakes of August 2018 have impacted travel to one of our favourite, and top selling destinations. Widescale coverage at the time gave the impression that the damage and destruction was far more widespread than it was – with the majority of the damage focussed on residential areas on the north coast which is not home to any hotels. Trips to the summit of Mount Rinjani have been paused, and we await re-opening dates for any aspiring volcano trekkers.

Many hotels remained open, whilst others took the opportunity to undertake revamping and renovations, and are now open, and welcoming to all guests! The reality is the properties that Ethos Travel work with are built to a high standard of design and construction and any damage was cosmetic. Of course clients on the island at the time were moved to Bali – mainly because many hotel employees needed to return to their families and villages and we didn’t want to put undue stress on the hotels.

The good news is that all our hotels are now open and will be 100% operational in 2019. We see it as our responsibility to keep all our clients informed of the situation in Lombok, and naturally encourage as many of our clients as possible to return! With tourism being such a revenue generator for families and communities Ethos Travel will be donating £25 per traveller for any bookings that include Lombok from now until 28th February 2019.

This money will be donated to the incredible Fundraising for Northern Lombok by Tugu Hotels who have built 200 houses to date, with another 300 on course to be finished before the rainy season truly kicks in.

After meeting with the owners of a number of the Lombok properties, this is the latest update from our hotels as of 27/11/2018:

Qunci Villas        : Fully operational
Puri Mas              : Operational. Moderate construction for new lead-in room category and renovation of Presidential Villas.
Jeeva Klui           : Fully operational. Minor renovation works of the wooden steps planned for February 2019
Tugu Lombok    : Operational. Presidential Villa and new Family Rooms under construction.
Jeeva Beloam    : Fully operational.
Mahamaya          : All operational. Minor fountain renovation.

So, what are you waiting for? Drop the Indonesia experts a line and book your Lombok holiday today on 020 7284 1888 or hello@ethostravel.co.uk

Lombok Sunset

Restricted to School Holidays? Read here!

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We’re constantly speaking to families, teachers, partners of teachers and those that work in educational establishments who find themselves restricted to certain peak periods to travel, and these limitations always impact the cost of holidays – even long haul to South East Asia. Flights of course fill up far quicker, hotels are busier and at certain times offensively overpriced with ridiculous compulsory gala dinners over Christmas & New Year (our pet hate!).

So we thought we’d share a few tips on how to minimise the cost.

For the main holidays (Christmas, Summer & Easter), there is no such thing as a ‘last minute deal’ with scheduled airlines, so the general rule is book as far ahead as you can – and plan ahead even earlier.

1 – PLAN EARLY. We can hold flights 320 days in advance. So plan next Christmas this January. If you want to travel over the Summer Holidays, note that departure dates are most expensive from July 5th – August 12th (which varies from airline to airline). This means if you can travel in mid-August you can get reasonable priced flights (which will be a big percentage of your overall cost). However, as your return dates are optimal, you will only get hold of the cheaper seats by booking the previous September.

2 – BE OPEN MINDED. Consider travelling out of season. For Christmas this means Indonesia. For Summer this means the West Coast of Thailand where hotels are incredible value. If you’re worried about travelling during the ‘Green Season’ have a read of this: http://www.ethostravel.co.uk/2017/07/26/far-east-green-season/

3 – BE FLEXIBLE. If you need to travel at relatively short notice – then ask us for advice and be as flexible as possible. For example, we know that Qatar Airlines have just added a new flight to Chiang Mai over December, and that there are plenty of seats available, so we can focus on Northern Thailand. Or Penang in February – giving Malaysia an unexpected availability boost. We know that the Boathouse Phuket has re-opened after 6 months renovations, and has good availability and great re-opening prices! Or that FinnAir have just launched an extra Helsinki – Krabi non-stop flight, and there is great availability around Easter. It might mean travelling to a different destination than you were planning, but as far as we’re concerned all of Asia is incredibly family friendly!

4 – SPEAK TO THE EXPERTS. Basically we are bombarded with information, offers, specials and availability from airlines, our hotels and partners on a daily basis – so speak to us – the South East Asia experts. Ideally as early as possible!

5 – GIVE US AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE! Have an idea of budget before you call, and look to maximise every day you can. That Inset day that allows you to travel a day earlier could end up saving you hundreds of pounds! If you’re bringing your children, think about how you would like bedding to be set-up. For example, if you need space to relax in the evening, think about more affordable options set back from the beach that offer 2 bedroom suites & villas – like the new Pelican Residence & Suites in Krabi or the Santai in Umalas Bali.

6 – WANT TO ESCAPE CHILDREN? Perhaps you’re a honeymooning teacher, so need a break! Remember we have lots of adults only hotels, such as The Layana Resort & Spa Koh Lanta , or The Balé in Bali.

Contact us today to start planning your 2018 holiday on 020 7284 1888, or e-mail hello@ethostravel.co.uk

 

 

 

The Far East and the Green Season

It’s very rare that when you click on any of those headline offers for Asia (such as “14 nights in Phuket for £27!!!”) that the company behind the offer starts off by explaining that the price is so low because it’s for travel during the rainy season, which invariably it is.

But destinations like Thailand and Malaysia have 6 months of supposed ‘rainy’ seasons (i.e. for Phuket and the west coast of Thailand it runs from May – October) when hotel prices are a fraction (up to one half) of high season prices, and low prices are needed to bring in guests.

                                                Phuket last October during the ‘rainy’ season

So what do the hotels do during these ‘quiet’ months – and also does it really rain for 6 months solidly? Well, no, of course it doesn’t, but this is when the perceived risk of the monsoon season arriving statistically increases.

But hotels are often half the price in the first week of May than they are in last week of April, but surely it doesn’t start pouring down at midnight on the 30th April? Again, no, of course not. Which is why by being clever you can maximise your luxury and minimise your costs and risk.

Genuine Savings

But this is not just ‘sales patter’. We at Ethos Travel also take our holidays during ‘rainy seasons’ as a) it’s more likely we will get complimentary / reduced price stays, and b) it’s easier to inspect hotels when occupancy is less than 40%. But at the same time we don’t want it to rain for our entire stay – but it rarely, if ever, does. And for our customers, hotels can offer fantastic deals.

                                             Six Senses Yao Noi during the ‘green’ season – June

Positives & Negatives

PROS:

  • All hotels will reduce their prices, be it a ‘stay 10 pay 5’ or a ‘50% reduction’, but may also chuck in a room upgrade or a spa treatment so make sure you ask us when hotel offers can be optimised
  • Many hotels run complimentary trips or activities during the low season
  • Look to stay right at the beginning or end of the ‘rainy’ season to minimise risk – i.e. for the West Coast of Thailand the first two weeks of May, or last two weeks of October
  • That beach will probably be yours alone, and there will be no issues with getting a sun lounger by the pool
  • Everyone is really, really happy to see you!
  • You may have saved enough for a second holiday this year. Or one that’s twice as luxurious!
  • It very rarely rains for 24 hours solidly, and it does rain during ‘high seasons’ – it’s the tropics. But low season is also called ‘green season’ as Asia’s flora and fauna can be most spectacular

                                            Jeeva Beloam, Lombok in Low Season – November

CONS:

  • Many local bars and restaurants can be closed limiting your options for eating out, so you may be restricted to eating in the hotel at some out of the way locations. This can also apply to dive schools or attractions, so plan ahead
  • All good hotels will run renovations during low season, but this is typically closing some rooms off to bring them up to scratch, but we try to make sure there is no heavy building work going on
  • Divers / snorkelers need to be more wary than the rest of us as currents can make areas unsuitable for diving during low seasons even when the weather appears fine

Some periods, statistically, it is just not worth traveling to (i.e. Hong Kong in typhoon season, Koh Samui in November, and the most rain statistically falls on the west cost of Thailand & Malaysia in September).  But travel to Bali or Lombok in November, and the weather can be much fresher – providing much needed breezes.

Of course we cannot guarantee the weather, at any point of the year. But we can manage expectations and give advice as we are experts, and we do travel, at our own cost during ‘low seasons’.

Introducing…. the Akyra Beach Club

As ever we’ve been working (cough) hard to find you the pick of new, small, unique hotels throughout Thailand. We’ll be introducing a few of them over the next couple of weeks – along with re-introducing a couple of more familiar ones. But to start with here’s a wonderful small hotel we recently stayed at on quiet Natai beach. And from now until the end of June (and September – October) it’s only £799 per person (of course including flights, taxes, private transfers and 7 nights accommodation on a twin share basis). Anyway, here’s our review along with some gratuitous beach photos. You can read more about this little gem here: http://www.ethostravel.co.uk/hotels/akyra-beach-club-phuket/

The first thing to say about the akyra Beach Club Phuket is that it’s not in Phuket – rather the stunning empty Natai beach about 30 minutes north from Phuket Airport. And secondly – it’s not just a ‘Beach Club’ – it’s also a traditional hotel, and a very good one at that!

We were welcomed by a DJ set behind a Moet & Chandon booth – but playing very chilled out tunes that didn’t overpower the relaxed setting – and finished as the sun came down as you enjoyed the stunning Natai sunsets, and above all this is a friendly resort – for children, couples and family groups of all ages.

Rooms were a mixture of villas set amongst the gardens and 42 great value rooms and suites set in a block. Little bonuses (such as an ice cream parlour dishing out free ice cream between 2-3 every afternoon!) were common in this well thought out new ’hip’ destination, but it’s most important not to gloss over the glorious location. A mere 30 minutes north from Phuket Airport, the beach can be walked for hours, and the waters warm and generally calm (with occasional body surfing opportunities). The sunsets are glorious (and the beach bar & hammocks make for ideal sundowner spots). This is a lovely find – a great place to relax, chill and recharge.