International Spotlight: Rhodes – Five Thousand Years of Art, History and Culture

In order to help shed light on the incredible history of this astounding Greek island, an important conference was held on Monday November 3rd, 2014, covering all aspects of Rhodian archaeology. This turned out to be a rewarding and fascinating conference, with presentations from expert panellists in the fields of history, archaeology and art.

About the Conference

The ground-breaking conference was a celebration of the Rhodian archaeological exhibition, which is expected to begin next month in Paris. This highly anticipated exhibition will open in the famous Louvre Museum. Both the Louvre Museum and cultural organisations from the South Aegean region have come together to host this incredible conference together during WTM.

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Lindos – Temple of Athena Lindia” by Roger Wollstadt, licenced under CC BY SA 2.0

More about Rhodes

In case you were unaware, Rhodes was once the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Colossus. Most people know Rhodes as a favorite holiday destination for sun worshippers and party seekers; with its famous resorts of Lindos and Faliraki. It is also an important centre of cultural and archaeological treasures from the classical period. The conference presented a narrative that wove together different objects that were once scattered amongst countless different museums. These artefacts included historical pieces from the Late Bronze Age to the Archaic Period of Classical Greece.

Conference Panellists

The conference was hosted by some of the leading experts in the field. Some of these included:

• Christine Cuny, PR & Communications Mg, Louvre Museum
• George Chatzimarkos, Governor, South Aegean Region
• Marieta Vakiani Papavasileiou, Vice Governor of Tourism, South Aegean Region
• Stelios Brigkos, Vice Governor of Culture, South Aegean Region
• Fotis Chatzidiakos, Mayor, Rhodes.

The conference was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get a varied insight into Aegean history. Much light was shed on the upcoming exhibition, and we can’t wait to get in some reports from Paris once it has started. For more information about the Rhodian archaeology exhibition, please visit the Louvre’s website directly. Paris is a fantastic place for a weekend break, and this is one more reason for history lovers to explore the great city.

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Top Ten Christmas Getaways

Many people like to ditch the stress of a conventional family Christmas and head off for a winter adventure somewhere a bit different. If you fancy a Christmas getaway, here is a list of ten of our favourite festive locations for you to enjoy a winter break.

christmas-italy

Christmas” by Mike Slone, licenced under CC BY 2.0

1. Apulia, Southern Italy

Apulia is a glorious place to visit in the winter. The climate is mild and dry, but without the intense heat that characterises the summer in Southern Italy. The Italians have a unique, warm Christmas tradition that is a joy to participate in. For some unbeatable Christmas luxury, book yourself in for a stay at the exclusive Borgo Egnazia.

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Edinburgh Winter Dean Bridge” by Colour of Your Smile, licenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

2. Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is a graceful, charming city. Despite its northern latitude, Edinburgh’s winters are milder than some parts of Scotland. Come and enjoy the festive atmosphere, Christmas markets and gorgeous lights. There are some great places to stay in Edinburgh. Try The Dunstane for a traditional Scottish Christmas with all the trimmings or the beautifully understated Parliament Hotel for a low-key Christmas break.

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Robin in the snow” by Vicky Brocklicenced under CC BY-SA 2.0

3. Scottish Highlands

There are few more Christmassy places in the world than the Scottish Highlands. When the snow hugs the soaring hills under majestic blue skies, venture out into the mountains or retire to a warm seat by the fire. For a warm Highland welcome and a Christmas to remember, try booking into the wonderful Kingsmills Hotel in Inverness.

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Somerset House Ice Rink” by Uri Baruchinlicenced under CC BY 2.0

4. London, England

London is the setting for many a Christmas film, from ‘A Christmas Carol’ to ‘Love Actually’. Although the snow doesn’t often settle in the bustling capital city, London is still one of the most romantic and exciting places to spend the festive season. The perfect place for a quiet Christmas with a special someone is the wonderful Royal Garden Hotel.

sydney-harbour

30 days of gratitude” by Aussie Galllicenced under CC BY 2.0

5. Sydney, Australia

Had enough of the cold, the damp and the snow? Leave it all behind and fly off to the southern hemisphere this Christmas. In Australia, Christmas falls in the middle of summer, and it is hot. Spend Christmas Eve swimming in a warm sea, enjoy a BBQ on the beach and sing your carols with a ‘cold one’ around the pool. Check into the Harbour Rocks Hotel for a boutique hotel just minutes walk from the main attractions.

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Reindeer sleigh ride Kuusamo Lapland” by Heather Sunderlandlicenced under CC BY 2.0

6. Lapland, Finland

Lapland is the home of Father Christmas, need we say more? If you have young children, a Christmas adventure to the ‘north pole’ to visit Santa will be the trip of a lifetime. There are lots of fun activities you can enjoy with the family, such as dog-sledding, skiing and reindeer rides. Visit Rovaniemi in Finland for an excellent selection of festive hotels and ‘Father Christmas’ activities.

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Gingerbread at Christmas Market in Munich” by Heather Cowperlicenced under CC BY 2.0

7. Munich, Germany

Christmas is the favourite national feast day in Germany, and it is hard not to fall under the same spell when you visit. Many of our best-loved Christmas traditions are German in origin, not least the Christmas tree itself, as well as the haunting carol ‘Silent Night’. Head out to Munich for Christmas and drink in the atmosphere, twinkling lights and warming mulled wine of this great city.

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Poiana Braşov” by Guillaume Bavierelicenced under CC BY 2.0

8. Transylvanian Alps, Romania

Skiing resorts often get very busy and expensive at Christmas time. Beat the crowds this year and take a skiing holiday in the Transylvanian Alps in Romania. The mountain vistas and lovely little towns in Transylvania are simply glorious, and you will find some of the best skiing slopes in Eastern Europe. Try staying in the Ice Hotel for a unique experience that will leave you with plenty of stories.

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New York” by Andy Orinlicenced under CC BY 2.0

9. New York, USA

Alongside London, New York is one of the most magical cities in which to enjoy the Christmas break. The winter atmosphere is unbeatable, and there is no end to the fantastic hotels to pick and choose from. Take a look through TalkHoliday’s great deals to enjoy a ‘Fairytale in New York’ this Christmas.

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Church of the Nativity – Betlehem” by krebsmaus07licenced under CC BY 2.0

10. Jerusalem, Israel

Head out to where it all started for a holiday in Israel this Christmas. Israel enjoys a warm climate and is home to some of the world’s most important cultural, historical and religious sites. Israel is a small country, so all the main attractions are easily accessible by road or public transport. Jerusalem itself gets very busy at Christmas, so we recommend one of the many high-quality hotels in Tel Aviv.

Wherever you choose to spend your Christmas holiday, make sure you get the relaxation and pampering you deserve. Have an enjoyable festive break, and let us know about any hotel gems you find on your travels.

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Twenty Years of The Hospitality Industry Trust

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This blog post is going to be a brief introduction to one of the real champions of opportunity within the hospitality industry in Scotland – the Hospitality Industry Trust (HIT). We support anyone that aims to help make the hospitality industry a better place and have been lucky enough to meet some professionals who have been backed by HIT.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, HIT exists to enable talented young people to fulfil their full potential in careers in restaurants, hotels, travel enterprises and other fields within the industry. Every year, the Trust creates new opportunities through donations of bursaries and educational scholarships.

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Investing in Education

Since 1994, HIT have funded over 1,200 full scholarships and provided a massive 10,200 bursaries to hospitality industry students throughout Scotland. The scholarships and awards are grants made directly to the student and don’t have to be paid back, thus significantly reducing the burden of student debt for the young people involved.

The trustees bring years of experience to bear on the task of identifying and selecting the brightest stars within the industry for assistance and rapid advancement. Selection is based on talent, raw potential and hard work rather than prior educational achievements. Consequently, HIT’s scholarships and bursaries have helped many hundreds of young people from disadvantaged families secure a career in the hospitality industry when it wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.

The impact of the Trust’s investment can be life changing. We spoke to a participant of one of HIT’s entrepreneurial scholarship programmes and he reported that he learned more in one week than he had in years of books and conventional courses.

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Events

HIT holds an active schedule of fifteen regular events each year, bringing together industry professionals with investors and private donors to support their charitable work. The events include dinners created by renowned British chefs, which are held in some of the best hotels in the country. These dinners and luncheons sell out fast so grab your table in good time to avoid disappointment. Alongside fundraising dinners, an active schedule of talent finding conferences, seminars and workshops are available.

To find out more about the work of the Trust and to take part in their events and opportunities, have a look through their website.

 

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International Spotlight – Learn to make bread the Italian way

Italy is a nation of bread lovers. Each region is home to dozens of varied and mouth-watering recipes, many rooted deeply in Italian culinary tradition. You will probably be familiar with such Italian staples as focaccia bread, paninis and bruschetta from restaurants and supermarket aisles here in the UK. To delve deeper into the world of Italian bread, we recommend a professional master class such as that offered by Borgo Egnazia at their Food Academy.

Borgo Egnazia is a stunning retreat in southern Italy with some of the most talented chefs in the area. Their ‘Nowhere Else Academies’ can teach you to prepare a range of delectable Apulian dishes, combined with wine tasting, catching and cooking fish, baking and a whole lot more.

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For a taste of what is in store for you at one of these academies, take a look at the following recipe, for Apulian Black Olive Puccia Bread. Puccia, in case you were wondering, is the Italian word for ‘little cheek’, which apparently these bread rolls look like.

You will need:

  • About 500g high quality white bread flour
  • 200-300 ml lukewarm water
  • A sachet of dried baker’s yeast.
  • Chopped black olives and rosemary sprigs
  • Olive oil
  • Flaked sea salt
  • A small bowl of ‘biga’, which is like a sour-dough starter made overnight.

What to do

You start by making the biga. Add a packet of yeast to a bowl of approximately 100 ml of lukewarm water. Stir in a teaspoon of sugar, cover with a tea towel and leave the bowl in a warm place for 15-20 minutes, or until the yeast activates. When the mixture is frothy and has a characteristic ‘yeasty’ smell, gradually stir in 50g bread flour. The biga should be thoroughly mixed and have an even consistency. Next, cover the bowl with clingfilm and place it in the fridge for 12-17 hours, or overnight. When you come back to it in the morning, the contents should be raised and spongy, with a distinct sour aroma. This means it is ready to use.

Now to make the bread itself

Sieve the bread flour into a mixing bowl and gradually add 200 ml of warm water. Stir the mixture with a spoon until it forms a dough. It should be strong but still fairly sticky at this stage. You might need to add a little bit more water for consistency. Now add the biga and mix it all together. You will now want to form a stiff dough that is firm enough to knead by hand, so a little more flour or water might be needed.

When the biga is fully blended in with the dough, knead by hand for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough is pliable and soft. Cover loosely and leave in a warm place for one to two hours, or until doubled in size.

When the dough is ready, flatten it down onto a lightly floured surface and divide into eight evenly shaped segments. Roll each segment in turn into a ball between your hands and flatten it down into a circular disk. Next, spoon an even quantity of chopped olives and rosemary onto each round, and fold it over itself until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated into the dough. Allow to rise for another 10-15 minutes until they have swollen into little buns, while you pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees /gas mark 4.

Sprinkle a little sea salt on each bun before placing it in the oven, cooking until each bun is nicely browned – about 15-20 minutes.

These Puccia are delicious when served with salad olives and other antipasti, and also make a great accompaniment to Italian meat dishes.

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The 2014 MTV European Music Awards in Glasgow

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MTV logo” by Wikimedia

What a party! We were in awe last week as the MTV awards came to Glasgow for this year’s MTV European Music Awards, bringing a string of global stars in its wake. Taking place on the 9th November at Glasgow’s newest venue the SSE Hydro, this was the 20th EMA event which started in 1994. The EMA is an awards ceremony based on the feedback of music fans themselves, rather than merely on record sales. A roaring crowd turned out to celebrate this big event as it truly was an unmissable night. Host Nicki Minaj was on top form as she wooed the crowd and showered the front rows with her own currency, the ‘minajes’.

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Katy Perry Live” by Gilly Berlin, licenced under CC BY 2.0

The highlights

The big winners of the night were Brit heart-throbs One Direction, who scooped the awards for Best Pop Act and Biggest Fans. Awards also went to Katy Perry for Best Look and Best Video (for the tongue-in-cheek Egyptian themed Dark Horse). Best Male and Best Female went to Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande respectively, while the infamous Ozzy Osbourne picked up the evening’s Global Icon Award.
Aside from the awards themselves, the crowd was treated to live performances from Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran, Hip-Hop princess Nicki Minaj and a heavily pregnant Alicia Keyes.

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Royal Exchange Square (Glasgow) at night” by John Lindielicenced under CC BY 2.0

The winning city

This year’s MTV awards have highlighted what a fantastic city Glasgow is, at the centre of a global pop scene. Glasgow has a buzzing nightlife, with a high concentration of bars, nightclubs and music venues. For a stag or hen do, or even just for a party weekend, Glasgow should rank pretty highly on your destination list. With Edinburgh so close to Glasgow, you can easily take in these two great cities during the one trip. You can take advantage of all the beauty and cultural benefits of the Scottish capital with these 20 great things to do, before heading back for some serious partying in one of the UK’s most up and coming young cities.

 

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Golfing Through the Winter

No truly avid golf fan looks forward to the winter, when the cold wet weather closes many courses and consigns golfers to a restless retirement in anticipation of the spring. This year, don’t let your ‘plus-fours’ and golf clubs gather dust in the attic. Instead, treat yourself to a golfing break at one of the following splendid hotels, which are all within easy reach of some of the best all-weather courses in the country.

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Toward the 10th hole at Carrick Knowe golf course, Edinburgh” by Edinburgh Blog, licenced under CC BY 2.0

Edinburgh

Within half an hour of Edinburgh, you will find no fewer than 22 world-class golf courses, many of which are open all year round. This rightly makes East Lothian one of the most desirable golfing locations in the world.

Take a meander down the golf coast and play a round or two at dream courses such as Dunbar, North Berwick, Muirfield and Musselburgh – the world’s oldest golf course. All are easily accessible from Edinburgh.
What is more, you’ll find a host of excellent hotels in the Scottish Capital; bursting with character, and with a level of service that is hard to beat. Take a look at The Dunstane and Parliament House Hotel for a great experience.

Inverness

The luxurious Kingsmills Hotel is in the heart of ‘golfer’s heaven’, in the Scottish Highlands. Close to the birthplace of the great game, it is no surprise that The Kingsmills is within putting distance of some of Scotland’s finest links courses. These include legendary golf clubs such as:

Castle Stuart
Royal Dornach
Nairn
Inverness Golf Club (right next door to the hotel)

Need we say more? All of these great courses are within a short distance from the hotel, so it is an ideal haven for a golfing break. The hotel itself is a lovely venue, with a wide choice of luxury rooms, two restaurants, an amazing spa and well-stocked whisky bar!

International – Italy

For golfers wanting to escape the winter altogether, let us recommend a golfing retreat to Borgo Egnazia in southern Italy. Designed in the style of a traditional Puglian village, Borgo Egnazia is the epitome of luxury, with a wide range of spacious rooms, suites and self-contained villas. Close to the hotel is the stunning San Domenico Links golf course. Designed by PGA designers European Golf Design, San Domenico is a golf course of champions. It is also one of the most beautiful courses in Italy, with many fairways taking in stunning vistas of the Adriatic Sea.

Make this winter the time you try a new golfing adventure. Take a look through the hotel websites for seasonal offers and golf-break deals. Happy golfing!

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