Author - Kate

1
Making the most of your Cuba holiday
2
Film and TV: Incredible Game Of Thrones locations
3
The travel angle with Tint
4
A Night Less Ordinary: Marmara Antalya Hotel Revolving Hotel
5
Purple 10 | Extremely Cool Water Parks for 2014
6
Purple Tips: Gambia – The Ideal Holiday Destination for Families
7
Amazing Days Out: Granada’s Alhambra Palace
8
A Night Less Ordinary: The Jane Hotel, NYC
9
Purple Tips: 16 Holiday Facts About Spain
10
Purple Tips: Europe’s Best Music Festivals 2014

Making the most of your Cuba holiday

A trip to Cuba offers a holiday like no other. The largest of the Caribbean islands, Cuba beckons to visitors with promises of sun, sea, sand and salsa. Throw in a rich history, unique culture and exotic scenery, and Cuba stands apart as a “must see” vacation destination — particularly for those who immerse themselves in the laid back and distinctly Cuban spirit that characterises this extraordinary place.

Doesn’t just looking at this view make you feel more relaxed?

Embrace History
Stepping into the capital city of Havana offers an intriguing contrast of the old and the new. Take in sites ranging from an abundance of 1950s-era American cars to colourful Spanish Colonial architecture which has gracefully withstood the test of time. Whether window shopping along the Calle Obispo or touring the breathtaking Castillo de la Punta, be ready for some serious photo ops. And don’t forget to stop by a cigar factory to see Cuba’s most famous export being rolled, and perhaps even buy a box while you’re there.

Live It Up
Cubans are famous for their relaxed vibe. Tourists willing to go with the flow are likely to stumble upon unexpected delights and discoveries. This of course, is in addition to the standard rum cocktails and genuine cigars.

Any trip to Cuba is incomplete without some salsa. Not the spice, but the music, which was born in Cuba and lives on as an important part of the native culture. Whether you spectate from a quaint sidewalk cafe or dust off your dancing shoes and learn some new moves, salsa offers an exciting taste of Cuba’s vibrant offerings.

Keep in mind that the nightlife on a Cuba holiday doesn’t even start until after 10, and continues throughout the night and into early morning. Also, nightlife is a special occasion here, so dress to impress before heading out to one of the countless bars and clubs scattered throughout Havana’s Vedado district.

Beach Bliss

While there’s a lot to do in Cuba, there’s an equal amount NOT to do. Cubans know how to party, but they also know how to relax. Beach lovers will want to schedule a visit to the resort town of Varadero, celebrated for its white sand and translucent aqua water. A golfer’s paradise, Varadero is also home to the island’s sole 18-hole golf course, which is set against a stunning backdrop of sea and local scenery, including the extravagant 1930s mansions that dot the landscape.

Guardalavaca is another popular beach destination which offers different allures. Located on Cuba’s northeastern coast, this quaint former fishing village is known for its easygoing charm, as well as its premiere snorkeling and scuba diving offerings.

While you might be wondering how to create a budget planner for your dream vacation, embracing the lifestyle of the Cuban people is one of the simplest ways to trim costs while vacationing there. An even greater reason to live like the locals? You’ll gain a pure and organic perspective of this idyllic and largely undiscovered destination.

Joanna Hughes writes on all subjects, including fashion, beauty, lifestyle and travel. Cuba is at the top of her must-do travel list.

Film and TV: Incredible Game Of Thrones locations

Excited about Game of Thrones Season 4? Ahead of its premiere on Sky Atlantic on April 6th, we’ve got some pictures of the best filming locations for the new series. For anyone living under a rock, the TV show based on the hugely popular G.R.R. Martin books centres around the fight for power amongst seven feuding families who plan to win the right to the Iron Throne. Featuring the Starks of Winterfell, Lannisters of Casterly Rock, the Greyjoys of the Iron Islands nad House Targaryen it is a fantasy epic with locations that match its incredibly dramatic story lines. Game of Thrones is filmed mostly in Iceland, Ireland, Morocco, Croatia and Malta where rugged landscapes stand in for Winterfell and sun soaked streets play host to the Queen of the Dragons. Here are some of our favourite Game of Thrones locations.

The bulk of Game of Thrones filming season 1, 2 and 3 took place in Northern Ireland, where Castle Ward in Downpatrick became Winterfell and introduced viewers to the Starks, Lannisters and King Baratheon. McComb’s Coach Travel provides Game of Thrones day trips from Belfast where you can also visit the Kings Road and the Cave of Cushendun where the shadow baby was born to Melisandre. Ballintoy Harbour played host to Theon Greyjoy’s homecoming to the Iron Islands and near Bushmills is the avenue of trees known as The Dark Hedges, where Arya Stark escaped King’s Landing. There’s even a GoT exhibit in Belfast where you can take a seat on the Iron Throne.

Dark Hedges Ireland

Dothraki Camp Ireland Game of Thrones IrelandImages via @ causewaycoastandglens

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The Azure Window, Malta was scene of the Dothraki Wedding in season one, this natural beauty spot didn’t just catch the eye of filmmakers but has drawn tourists for years. Mdina on the island was also used as the streets of King’s Landing and Essos in season one. Although Malta was a chosen location in season one of Game of Thrones, cast and crew started filming in Croatia from season two onwards, but you can still do a Game of Thrones walking tour of the city.

Azure Window

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To go beyond the Wall, you’ll need to head for Iceland. Vatnajökull National Park in Iceland is one of the locations where you can go ‘north of the wall’ and Lake Myvatn surrounded by lava stacks will be familiar as the place where Jon Snow leads Ygritte into a cave for an intimate moment together. Scenes with the Night’s Watch and the wildlings were filmed in the park and there are many tours to take advantage of. Iceland also has the added advantage of its complete natural beauty, so make the most of it while you’re there!

Game of thrones Iceland

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Once the set for the film Kingdom of Heaven, Ouarzazate in Morocco stands in for the city of Yunkai where Danaerys Targaeryan freed an army of slaves. In fact many of the Khaleesi’s scenes were filmed in the ‘Hollywood of Morocco’. The city is no stranger to famous faces as it was also the settings for Gladiator, Lawrence of Arabia and Troy and the Atlas Studios are known as the biggest in the world.

Ouarzazate Morocco via Moroccoa National Tourist Office

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Croatia’s city of Dubrovnik is now a major filming location for Game of Thrones and it appears much of season 4 was filmed there. Fort Lovrijenac, also known as St Lawrence Fortress is an imposing site built on top of a hill, doubling as the Red Keep of King’s Landing which had many scenes featuring the ruthless King Joffrey and his family. The sea underneath the fortress filled in for the Battle of Blackwater Bay proving what a versatile location it was. The nearby Minceta Tower in the city is where Khaleesi entered the eerie House of the Undying, but most of Dubrovnik will be familiar. A tiny Island just across the harbour called Lokrum, home to a salt lake and 1000 year old abandoned monastery stood in as the port city of Qarth, although the island is said to leave a curse on anyone who stays overnight there. Viator runs some great Game of Thrones walking tours in Dubrovnik.

Game of thrones Croatia via Dubrovnik tourist board

The travel angle with Tint

Online is a big world and I think Tint is going to help our company Purple Travel make a splash. We aim to find customers the best price on holidays to destinations all over the world.

Tint is a social sharing platform which lets brands curate and aggregate their social media feeds in one place. Basically Tint displays pretty much every important social channel – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc. It’s incredibly easy to edit and you have complete control over what you want to post. By using a specific hashtag e.g. #PurpleTravel it will narrow down all the content from your social feeds to include that one hashtag. It’s perfect for specific campaigns or holiday offers.

After a recent rebrand and new website, we wanted something that was really impressive, progressive and stands out. Our team created the Purple Travel Social Lounge where guests can engage and share pictures and posts and we can showcase our most important content. Using Tint we created a wall of content that updates almost in real time and refreshes automatically so our customers can enjoy the best of our social channels.

Tint and the travel industry is a no brainer. Travel Industry social sharing is all about the visual and Tint is able to package that in one space that is totally customisable by the customer.

Here’s what I like about it so far

- It looks cool!
- Each stream is totally customisable. Using hashtags, keywords and accounts. It’s great for the big picture but also for specific campaigns.
- Not only is each channel easy to personalise, but the display options are great too. It’s easy to change fonts, colours etc.
- Extremely user friendly. Tint is easy to use, easy to edit and looks great. I have zero coding skills and still managed to create a widget and nice looking blog post about it.
- Easy to embed and embedded content is easily shareable through the individual pictures on our Tint space.
- When you edit the streams the results are practically real time. Check out our Instagram stream above as an example.
- Tint has a nice attitude and looks like a fun place to work. At the same time it is very customer focussed and they take pride in working hard. In their own words: “we strive to maintain a balanced life because we are running a marathon when building a company. We seek and accept challenges that make us feel uncomfortable. We try to learn something new every day.”

A Night Less Ordinary: Marmara Antalya Hotel Revolving Hotel

For something really special, why not enjoy a night less ordinary. We scour the world to find the most amazing and unusual hotels all over the world. Whether you’re interested in a night with some giraffes, or you want to pretend to be James Bond for one night only, we’ve got you covered. This week, a revolving hotel room. Enjoy a night less ordinary at the Marmara Hotel, Antalya.

A night less ordinary Marmara Hotel Antalya via Purple Travel

The WOW factor: The Revolving Loft Room. It’s the extra special touch that we thought made the Marmara Antalya worth featuring in our series of great hotels. 24 rooms are built into the revolving roof of the hotel give you a view that changes by the hour. A full revolution soaking in every view takes seven hours, just don’t blame us if you never want to leave! Soak up the atmosphere as you gaze across the sparkling water of the Mediterranean and the breathtaking views of the Bey Mountain range. Looks cool doesn’t it: YouTube Preview Image

The basics: 5* Luxury in the heart of Turkey’s beautiful Antalya Resort, the Marmar Antalya offers an impressive lobby area, food that features a fusion of Turkish and International cuisine. The hotel’s 232 rooms are very spacious and beautifully designed in a minimalist style and huge windows that offer views over the sea or the imposing Taurus Mountains. Each one has the usual requirements such as flat screen TV, 24 hour room service and wifi.

A night less ordinary Marmara Hotel Antalya via Purple Travel 3

The hotel has an exclusive, private beach accessed by an underground tunnel and it is surrounded by gardens filled with wild flowers. There is scuba diving in offer in the perfectly clear waters, guests can enjoy the onsite gym or take a Turkish bath in the Marmara Antalya Spa. Or there is the option to simply sit on the sunny deck and watch the world go by. Antalya city centre is just five minutes’ drive from the hotel and has lots of cafes, bars and restaurants while the beautiful beaches are Lara are another choice for sun worshippers.

Details: Rooms start from €85. Read some reviews of the Marmara Antalya Hotel here.

Purple 10 | Extremely Cool Water Parks for 2014

Who doesn’t love slip-sliding about and releasing your inner child? Is there a better place to do that than in a them park or water park? We don’t think so. Impress your kids this year with all the facts about these extremely cool water parks for 2014 and don’t forget to tell us if we’ve missed one of your favourite water parks in the comments below.

1. Tropical Islands Resort, Krausnick, Germany. The largest indoor water park in the world, Tropical Islands is in a former zeppelin hangar, complete with rainforest, palm trees, birdsong and artificial sun.

Tropical Islands Resort Germany - Purple Travel

2. Siam Park, Tenerife. Perhaps one of the best known water parks in Europe, Siam Park, the Water Kingdom is home to a Tower of Power which is a 28 metre plunge, the zero gravity Dragon experience, the 200 metre mega slide the Kinnaree and the Sawasdee, a great choice for families: it’s a mini version of the grown up rides especially for kids.

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Purple Tips: Gambia – The Ideal Holiday Destination for Families

Gambia family holidays

Have you ever planned a family holiday trip by throwing a dart at a map of the world? That method might well be the only way many of us would ever hit upon The Gambia as our next family holiday spot. This tiny nation, one of the smallest in Africa, nevertheless offers some marvelous facilities for tourists along the stretch of beach that sits along the Atlantic. If you and your family enjoy the unusual and if they seek exoticism — here it is!

A Unique Culture

Of course the “real Gambia” includes far more than what you can see from your hotel window. Feeling the need for a bit of help from knowledgeable locals? Then you’re in luck, you can find freelance tour guides through the Gambia Official Tourist Guides Scheme. This organization connects tourists staying in area hotels with guides who can help them get more out of their stay. The guides are happy to show tourists the sights and explain the culture.

This might prove most welcome, since the culture presents a fascinating mix of Muslim and animist religions, a caste societal structure, and rituals that include elaborate greetings. At the same time, however, The Gambia is also quite cosmopolitan, with restaurants serving plenty of international cuisines and hotels equipped with massage facilities and other Western-style luxuries.

Unforgettable Activities

The abundance of wildlife is one of Gambia’s great treasures, and the many national parks provide extensive opportunities to view them in their native habitats. Your friends won’t believe the stories you’ll be able to tell them on your return — so don’t forget to put film in the camera!You may be surprised at the sheer wealth of activities available in The Gambia. You can take a West Coast Excursion tour of the markets, factories and National Museum in the city of Banjul; enjoy a peaceful day on the waters of the River Gambia or local creeks; experience the woodland wildlife with a stop at Tendaba Camp; visit the ancient town and prehistoric structures of Janjangbureh; or frolic with the monkeys and birds as you explore South Gambia on safari.

A Warm Welcome

Adventurous Westerners are discovering that epic vacation getaways needn’t involve proportionately epic plane flights — a point driven home by countries eager to embrace international tourists. For instance, Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba has emphasized the need to strengthen ties between the United Arab Emirates and the United States, and the Dubai-based Emirates airline plans to increase the number of flights between Dubai and the U.S. to grease the wheels of commerce, including tourist commerce. The official Gambia Tourist Authority website takes a similar tack in wooing the UK and Europe, pointing out that the six-hour journey allows for a jet-lag free holiday — which means your family can start enjoying the free time your holiday provides as soon as you step off the plane.

Gambia Flag

The Gambian flag is waving for the attention of Western

All in all, you and your loved ones have nothing to lose, and a world of glorious memories to gain, by setting your holiday compass for The Gambia. So pick up some extra tanning oil (no matter what time of year you’re going), book those reservations, and get ready for some serious African fun! tourists.

William Reynolds has worked as a freelance copywriter since 1997. William specializes in website content, ghost-blogging, print marketing content and audio/video scripts.

(Images courtesy of anankkml and Vlado /FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Amazing Days Out: Granada’s Alhambra Palace

Amazing Days Out: Granada’s Alhambra Palace

If you’re holidaying in Spain, particularly Andalusia or anywhere nearby, you’ll be wanting to check out the incredible Alhambra Palace. It is easily one of the most popular tourist attractions in Europe, certainly the most famous in Spain and the town of Granada offers a little shelter from the punishing summer heat of Seville or Cordoba, and is only a couple of hours from Malaga. The two parts of the complex, the Alhambra and Albaycin are seated on two opposite hills and showcase medieval Granada at its most magnificent.

Alhambra

Image via @ Cromeo

For visiting: Numbers are strictly limited, especially in the summer, with only 300 entrants allowed every half hour. Opening hours are 8.30am-8pm from March to October and 8.30am-6pm from November to March. However it’s worth checking the official website to confirm before you travel and please note that tickets can be bought three months ahead of your visit. Organized tours will make it easier to get into and get around to the best parts of the Alhambra Palace in the time you have. Tickets cost from €13 per adult.

Alhambra up close via Purple Travel

Images via @ Sharon Mollerus and Furlin

Overview: Like the Acropolis of Athens, the Alhambra has had a number of functions since it was first built in the 9th century. At one point it’s been fortress, palace, garden and one of the great European architectural wonders. Set high on the hills above the town of Granada, it represents a mix of cultures and history, a fascinating intertwining story is told in its walls. The imposing building is the result of many years of Moorish domination in Spain, with initial palace buildings built in the 11th century and added to later by Islamic rulers and Christian conquistadors.

You should read… Purple Hearts Malaga

Today it’s well established as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site the Alhambra Palace is made of up of four separate zones: the Palace, the Alcazaba, or military zone, the Medina or city and the villa of Generalife, all of which are surrounded by well-kept gardens, parks and trees. Spring is the best time to visit when orange blossoms scent the air and you can enjoy unobstructed views of this fascinating historical site, without bumping into too many tourists. Inside the hallowed rooms of the Alhambra, you’ll find intricate thousand-year old mosaics and carvings created with unimaginable detail. A visit to Spain’s premier tourist attraction will likely leave you speechless.

Book cheap holidays to Spain for summer 2014 with Purple Travel and save money.

Alhambra 2Image via @ the very honest man

A Night Less Ordinary: The Jane Hotel, NYC

Our weekly series: A Night Less Ordinary is all about finding the most weird and wonderful hotels all over the world. From a James Bond hotel room, to sleeping underwater expect the unexpected. This week, we take a step back in time for a night on a cabin in the Jane Hotel New York.

What’s the gimmick? Lovingly renovated, the Jane Hotel’s rooms are themed around the cabins on a ship, complete with galley style bunk bed rooms,  brass fittings, warm colours and big mirrors, storage under over beds and buckets of bohemian history. A stay in the Jane Hotel, with its retro-uniformed staff and period design  is filled with character and one that makes the most of the NYC experience.

Why Stay? The Jane Hotel was originally built with sailors in mind and each room is reminiscent of a ship’s cabin. You can choose from bunk bed cabins for a cosy, minimal travel experience or the simply perfect Captain’s Cabin. It’s something of an institution in New York, a designated landmark it’s in the heart of the Meatpacking District and only about a mile from Union Square. and hosts some pretty cool parties but is still completely affordable. The French-Moroccan themed Cafe Gitane offers up great breakfast, lunch and dinner and the hotel offers free bicycles so you can explore the killer neighbourhood, nearby High Line Park, Times Square and Theatre District by wheel-power.

The Jane Hotel from Purple Travel

The WOW factor? The Captain’s Cabin has huge beds, 300 thread count sheets, free wifi, rainfall shower heads and marble sinks. That’s on top of river views or terraces. Just gorgeous and an absolute treat for young couples who want a great value Manhattan hotel with lots of character.

Find it at 113 Jane Street in the West Village, Manhattan. Rooms start from $99 for one person in a standard cabin.

Purple Tips: 16 Holiday Facts About Spain

Ever wondered where the word ‘Spain’ comes from? Or how about how many  miles of beaches there are in Spain? Let us help you out with our 16 excellent holiday facts about Spain.

#1 Let’s start with one of our favourite facts about Spain. It is the most popular holiday destination for Brits, (it was in 2013) with Majorca, Malaga, Tenerife and Costa del Sol holidays ranking highly. Purple Travel’s most popular Spain holidays included Ibiza, Alicante and Palma de Mallorca as well as city breaks in Barcelona.

Malaga from Purple Travel

#2. Some of the most famous names in the world hail from Spanish shores. Actors Javier Bardem (Gran Canaria),Penelope Cruz (Madrid) and Antonio Banderas (Malaga) and sports stars like tennis player Rafael Nadal (Majorca), Andres Iniesta (Castilla-La Mancha) and Fernando Torres (Madrid) are just a selection of the famous faces hailing from Spanish shores.

#3. The word for ‘Spain’ is said to come from ‘Hispania’, which roughly translates to Island of Rabbits. So if you see some bunnies, don’t be too surprised.

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Purple Tips: Europe’s Best Music Festivals 2014

Plan an incredible summer holiday around a festival and get more bang for your buck. Read our Purple tips about the best music festivals 2014 and don’t miss out. If you’ve got any more suggestions for the best music festivals 2014, hit us up in the comments below.

Meadows in the Mountains

Meadows in the Mountains Pic via @ Facebook

Best Music Festivals 2014 – April

Altitude Comedy Festival – Austria
When: 31 Marcy – 4 April 2014
Where: Mayrhofen, Austria
What is it: In the same awesome venue as the Snowbombing festival, this is all about comedy. Lots of beginner slopes as well as black runs and great apres-ski, this is two holidays in one!
Who: Pub Landlord Al Murray, John Murray, Tommy Tiernan, Andrew Maxwell and Craig Campbell.
Price: Depending on your arrival date from £188.

Snowbombing – Austria
When: 7-12 April 2014
Where: Up in the snowy mountains of Mayrhofen, Austria
What is it: A mix of partying and piste, where winter sports meets hedonistic highs.
Who: The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers DJ set, Four Tet, Tom Odell, Foxes.
Price: From £219 including accommodation.

Best Music Festivals 2014 – May

Primavera Sound – Barcelona
When: 29-31 May 2014
Where: Parc Del Forum, Barcelona, Spain.
What is it: A huge lineup of some of the best acts in the world today will play in the sunshine at Primavera’s outdoor stages showcasing Barcelona as a great music-lead city.
Who: The National, Arcade Fire, Pixies, Nine Inch Nails, QOTSA, Haim, Metronomy, Foals and Chrvches.
Price: €175

Best Music Festivals 2014 – June

Ibiza Rocks and Mallorca Rocks - Balearic Islands
When: All summer long! Starting on June 4 2014.
Where: Ibiza/Majorca
What is it: A full on summer festival experience without the mud.
Who: Haim, The 1975, John Newman, Bastille, Bombay Bicycle Club, Ed Sheeran and Tinie Tampah.
Price: From £75

Pinkpop - Netherlands
When: 7 – 9 June 2014
Where: Landgraaf, Netherlands
What is it: The 45th year of Pinkpop, this is one of the oldest in the world and draws huge names from all over the world.
Who: Arcade Fire, Metallica, Editors, Mastodon and Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters.
Price: Tickets for Pinkpop will be released on 15th March 2014

Sonar - Spain
When: 12 – 14 June 2014
Where: Barcelona, Spain
What is it: A very cool hybrid: it’s part music, part technology and part audio-visual fest, and Sonar the organization has held over 50 events since 2002.
Who: Richie Hawtin, Caribou, Jon Hopkins, Moderat, Four Tet, Massive Attack
Price: €195

Meadows in the Mountains - Bulgaria
When: 13 – 15 June 2014
Where: Rhodope Mountains, just south of Sofia.
What is it: Inspired by the infamous Burning Man Festival, this Bulgarian fest organised by two brothers has a focus on experience, underground and hard partying. Visitors are encourage to run wild through the fields and forests and play in the waterfall.
Who: Lots as yet to be announced, but previously it has included Riot Jazz, Will Saul and unsigned acts.
Price: TBA

Roskilde - Denmark
When: 29 June – July 6 2014.
Where: Roskilde, Denmark
What is it: One of Europe’s best and biggest music festivals, run as a non-profit event.
Who: Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, Jenny Wilson, Haim, Pusha T, Warpaint, Damon Albarn, Kasabian, Outkast, Rob Zombie,
Price: €256 for eight days of festivalling.

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