Various media reports over the weekend stated that new arrivals to the UK could face 10-day hotel quarantines.
So far, TfL has been given two short-term coronavirus government bailouts worth around £3.7bn ($5bn) over the last eight months.
It’s hard to believe a rhino can feel anything through its thick, leathery armour, but when caretaker Joseph Wachira gave his docile dependent a tickle, I swear the 1.5-ton animal smiled. Soft and pliable, like an underbaked pastry, the skin was like nothing I had imagined; then again, patting a wild animal whose mood can swing like a pendulum was not a scenario I had visualised either. Raised in a zoo, Najin is a northern white rhino living in a protected enclosure at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Endangered even by rhino standards, she is one of the last two animals of her kind, protected and looked after (along with other vulnerable species) by a dedicated team of rangers, vets and caretakers whose stories are told in Secret Safari: Into the Wild – a new, six-part Channel 4 documentary that begins on Tuesday. The conservancy, set in the shadows of Mount Kenya on the Laikipia Plateau, is best known for being the home of Sudan, the last male northern white rhino. Affable but sexually ineffective, he would eventually succumb to injuries sustained from a previous life in captivity, without producing an heir. His death in 2018 was a chilling wake-up call, typifying the brutal reality of extinction so many of our world’s species face. But, as I learned on my tour of the rhino enclosure, a pioneering IVF programme, using Sudan’s frozen sperm and several surrogate white rhino mothers, means that all hope is not lost. These rays of hope are constantly cast by Ol Pejeta, a sanctuary for many threatened species. A protected area the size of the Isle of Wight, it accommodates East Africa’s largest population of black rhinos, along with a plethora of charismatic predators and vulnerable herbivores. Given the often overwhelming challenges of habitat loss, wildlife conflict in communities and sophisticated poaching syndicates, it is a full-time job to manage their survival, as Secret Safari: Into the Wild shows. Its episodes document the emotions, dangers, treats and rewards of working in a conservancy that has become a blueprint for managing wilderness areas – as well as the lives of the animals themselves. There are stories of a black rhino trying to protect her newborn calf from predation; of a young ostrich learning to rear its first flock; and of an impala defending his harem of 50 females against rival suitors. Most impressive of all, however, are the tales of staff working at Ol Pejeta. Here, some stars of the series share their experiences, detailing the thrilling highs and traumatic lows. When the time comes, you too can visit the conservancy and witness their life-affirming work first-hand. Secret Safari: Into the Wild starts at 8pm on Tuesday on Channel 4. For more information, see: olpejetaconservancy.org/secretsafari Overseas holidays are currently subject to restrictions. THE 24-HOUR WATCHMAN James Mwenda, rhino caregiver In the past three years, not a single rhino has been poached on the conservancy, a result of strict security measures and good relationships with the community. However, rhino caregiver James Mwenda admits that the dread of finding a carcass never disappears. “Apart from the risk we face of being threatened by these wild animals on an everyday basis, the worst case is to wake up in the morning and find a rhino poached. It is something I always fear,” he admits. Fortunately, he has watched many of the “beautiful and charismatic” rhinos grow to maturity, and has spent the past seven years protecting the planet’s last two female northern white rhinos, Fatu and Najin, feeding them daily and monitoring their health. He describes them as being “just like big dogs” but warns that wild black rhinos aren’t quite so accommodating. “They are very aggressive,” says James, who has been charged by rhinos on several occasions, “but it’s like being a driver on the freeway. You get a puncture, fix it and go on!”
When the Standard Hollywood opened its doors 22 years ago, on the cusp of a new Millennium, it could not have been more cutting edge or of the moment. Its airy lobby featured an enormous egg-shaped chair, hung from the ceiling, and behind the slick, minimalist reception desk, The Box, a glass case inspired by Damien Hirst but containing, in place of a shark, a real-life human, reclining or reading, often scantily-clad. Notable occupants of The Box over the years have included the poet Jacqueline Suskin, who used the space to take requests for personalised poems, counterculture figure Roger Steffens, and the photographer Shaniqwa Jarvis. Now, with travel and tourism in Los Angeles – as across the US and most of the rest of the world – devastated by the ongoing pandemic, plus a significant increase on its already hefty lease, the iconic hotel is closing, leaving a gaping hole. The end of the Standard’s very glamorous era is openly being mourned by celebrities on social media, including musicians Sam Smith and Adam Levine (‘too many memories to count’), heiress Ivy Getty, and artist Signe Pierce, who writes: "I’ve had some of the best nights / best sex / best 'dream life' scenarios in this place… Here’s to hoping that you can hatch another oasis on the Sunset Strip in the future." The Standard Hollywood has never doubted or played down its identity. If you pulled up to the sliding glass doors of the white, retro property looking for a peaceful, relaxing lunch out by the pool, surrounded by its distinctive blue astroturf, or a quiet afternoon drink at its adjoining bar, Desert Nights, this was probably not the spot for you. The Standard has, since its launch, been a reliably party-hard hotel, with a permanent vibe and a DJ spinning tunes from just after lunch.
The highlight of the week for Sevillano families is the intergenerational paseo (stroll) on a Sunday morning before lunch. Locals love to perambulate down the main shopping thoroughfares – yes, everything might be closed, but browsing accompanied by animated discussions about wedding outfits and this year’s Feria fashions (colours, frill placement, spot size), along with matching accoutrements, is a favourite pastime. Even in the hot summer months, the morning is still cool enough to manage gentle exercise. Take in the orange-tree-lined Avenida de la Constitution next to the majestic cathedral (mind the trams), or head over the river to Triana, the gipsy and ceramic tile quarter. This is the moment tapas were created for – a glass of chilled, bone-dry manzanilla sherry perfectly paired with a plate of delicately sliced, nutty jamon iberico (cured ham) or gambas (prawns), standing outside in the sun – Plaza Salvador, overlooked by the magnificent baroque church, is a lively gathering spot. Of course, one of the best things about a relaxed weekend in the southern Spanish city is that improbably blue-sky backdrop – whatever the time of year, it’s likely to be face-caressingly, soul-stirringly warm and sunny. Something to look forward to when we are able to travel to Seville again. Got the brunchies? The traditional Andalucian breakfast of tostada con tomate, aceite y jamon (toast with tomato, olive oil and ham) retains sacred status, but Seville has broadened its offering in recent years. Indulge at vanguard gastro-tapas bar, La Azotea, near the Alameda (Conde de Barajas 12-13; laazoteasevilla.com). Its three-course weekend brunch (11am-2pm) features toast with flavoured butters (think cardamom and fennel); eggs; pancakes or patisserie; and the best part – a glass of cava, a Bloody Mary or a mimosa (€18/£16). At boho La Cacharreria (Sun 10am-9pm; Calle Regina 14; facebook.com/lacacharreria) near Las Setas, scoff toast, bagel, waffle or muffin, yogurt with chia, cereal and fruit, plus smoothie, for around €12. New arrival Puerta Urbana (9am-4pm, Puerta de Carmona 2; puertaurbana.com) is an airy urban space, where the beetroot hummus, grilled courgette, feta cheese and pistachio pancakes (€7) are outstanding; vegans options too.
I’m painting the amazing Galápagos wildlife – from my sitting roomCan a virtual four-day art class come anywhere close to visiting the famous archipelago? Maybe not, but for our writer it turns out to offer something far more valuable
The Dutch flag carrier halted all flights between the UK and the Netherlands for five days after Boris Johnson disclosed the increased deadliness of the UK's coronavirus mutation.
There aren’t a lot of people in South Dakota, so it seems like there are connections between every small town and every family. It’s the US’ seventeenth largest state at 77,121 square miles, with a population around 900,000. That’s similar to the urban population of Liverpool spread across a massive area; not many residents for a large expanse, but in some ways, we’re like one community. Everyone seems to know someone who knows you. With so few people in the state, the number of Covid-19 cases has caused pain in most households. We’ve had more than 94,000 people diagnosed with the virus, meaning more than 10 per cent of the state has had it. We all know someone who died and someone who lost their job. The death toll continues to mount. As of mid-week, it was at 1,667, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. On December 21, Dr. Michael Elliot of Avera Health, along with Sanford Health, one of the two healthcare giants that dominate medical treatment in the state, said the pandemic was still rampaging across South Dakota, with 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people. “In the last seven days, South Dakota has had the highest daily reported death rates per 100,000 population of the United States,” Dr. Elliot said. Healthcare experts have been imploring people to wear masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing. South Dakota is, incidentally, one of very few states without a mask mandate; along with North Dakota, Nebraska, Mississippi, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona and Alaska. The role mask-wearing plays in controlling the spread of coronavirus remains up for debate. As 23,000 more Americans died from the coronavirus last week, setting a record for the third straight week, rates rose in eight states, compared to 40 the previous week, according to Reuters. The top five (Wyoming, Virginia, Maine, Washington and Connecticut) all have mask mandates. The three states with the most new cases (California with 277,058, Texas with 153,843 and New York with more than 106,980 new cases) also require masks in public.
Love may be blind but it still has optics. Having reached an age more suited to mother-of-the-bride than bride-herself, a meringue-gown wedding and Peter Jones registry was out of the question. So I grabbed my groom and eloped to Africa. Our wedding for two at the edge of Victoria Falls slid in just under the Covid wire last year. News of the escalating crisis penetrated our safari tent flaps, alongside the butler-delivered Champagne and private pool-side lunches. Yet even before social distancing started a trend for the tiniest possible weddings, the idea of swerving the stress and expense of traditional celebrations was already gaining traction. The UK wedding industry is valued at over £10 billion a year and an average special day rings in at just over £30,000. An elopement not only damps down the chatter (handy for grooms such as mine who are already two weddings to the bad), it also cuts the costs. We cross the churling Zambezi River in a small tin boat, alighting on the sandy bank of Livingstone Island. With the bride in hot pink pleats and the groom in a natty Ted Baker suit, we were travelling in the footsteps of the intrepid. Scottish missionary David Livingstone made the same journey in 1855, viewing the precipice of the “Smoke that Thunders”. I take the hand of purple-robed Presbyterian Pastor Chris and aim for the billowing mist that rises before us like an atomic cloud. A stone’s throw from the 100m abyss, seven young men in T-shirts sway to their sonorous acapella songs in the local Tonga language. A small marquis tent is beautifully laid for lunch and an arch is adorned with ribbons and white roses. Champagne lies in icy wait while a photographer discreetly nymphs about capturing the angles. All this, and much more, comes to both of us as a grand and glorious surprise. It’s this Livingstone thunderbolt moment that underlies the joys of eloping. Giving over to the unknown, taking a leap of faith… isn’t that what getting married is? We’d asked for “the bare minimum” and – magically curated behind the scenes by the brilliant African specialists at Micato Safaris – received the full monty.
30 UK holiday cottages to book now for summer 2021. With many of us planning to holiday at home again this year, rural cottages and cabins are already hot properties. We pick the best with summer availability
Convoy CEO Dan Lewis joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss how his company adapted amid COVID-19.
When early cartographers attempted to make sense of our planet, their illustrations of scale and distance ultimately defined much more than the lay of the land. From explorers conquering new territories to pilgrims seeking heavenly salvation, travel lies at the core of human existence; shaping human evolution is in our DNA. Clocking up much more than the number of miles covered, epic journeys can result in a significant shift of mindset – questioning values, bestowing knowledge and generally reminding us what it feels like to be alive. Stepping out of a familiar context provides a fresh perspective, something we’re desperately lacking right now. For TV presenter Simon Reeve, who has visited some of the world’s most wild, remote and culturally diverse places, the absence of travel has left a gaping hole in his life. “It’s fundamental,” says the dromomaniac, whose new BBC Two series, Incredible Journeys, airs tomorrow at 8pm. “Travel is part of our make-up; we need it in our lives, and we lose it at our peril.” The show reflects upon some of the epic adventures Simon has had to date, and how – whether challenging or life-affirming – every encounter has left a mark. It’s an inspiration to heal months of frustration by planning our own grand tours – to cast out inertia when this is all finally over and get out on the road. Human memory is short, making it easy to forget all the wonders that lie beyond our four walls. Looking back over his continent-hopping career, Reeve shares reflections on some of the unforgettable trips that have mapped his personal world. The journey… that changed my view of humanity Spending time with the San Bushmen in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve was an astonishing experience. They are such a sophisticated version of us; such proficient and perfect human beings flourishing within their environment. Existing alongside the nature they love and care for, they don’t try to dominate it. They don’t think of themselves as creatures who are at the top of the food chain; they think of themselves as being people who exist within the food chain.
Exclusive: ‘The Man in Seat 61’ says move could lead to greater competition on Channel Tunnel rail link
The Spanish Prime Minister has cast doubt over summer holidays in the country by hinting that international travel will not be possible until herd immunity is reached. “We are already the ninth country in the world in the vaccination process and one of the first countries in Europe,” said Pedro Sanchez this week. “And we are going to advance with the vaccination at the highest rate until reaching 70 per cent of the population with immunity by the end of the summer. This will allow Spain to be progressively better prepared to receive international tourists.” Mr Sanchez will surely come under immense pressure to welcome holidaymakers sooner than that – particularly from leaders in the Balearics and the Canary Islands, which rely heavily on overseas visitors – but his words will leave many Britons nervous about their summer plans. After all, we visit Spain for our holidays more than any other country. So here are a few alternatives that look like a safer bet for summer. Our picks are based on each country’s existing travel restrictions, their vaccine status, and their likely eagerness to see the return of lilo-clutching and vitamin D-deficient Britons. Everything could change, of course (our Government might even still have us under lock and key), so please think hard before booking, use – where possible – an Atol-protected tour operator, and closely check terms and conditions when it comes to refunds and cancellations. Montenegro Pint-sized Montenegro relies heavily on tourism, which accounts for around 12 per cent of GDP. Indeed, it was one of the very first countries to reopen to overseas visitors last year (on June 1). That desire to keep its borders unlocked clearly remains, and since January 12 all travellers, including UK citizens, have been free to enter Montenegro without even needing to provide evidence of a negative test. Come on down. EasyJet flies to Tivat, gateway to the stunning Bay of Kotor. Kaye Holland, writing for Telegraph Travel, describes the country as a quieter alternative to Croatia. “It shares the same breathtaking blue waters, lush forests and magnificent walled cities – the only thing it doesn’t have is too many people,” she says.
Vaccine passports essential for resumption of international travelThe World Tourism Organisation says international coordination, standardised certification and harmonised testing protocols all needed for safe travel to restart
A talented new school of British designers is making its mark on hotels, both in Britain and further afield. They come from backgrounds that encompass architecture, art and furniture design. Olga Polizzi, the doyenne of our group, says: “It’s like fashion, nothing comes back quite the same. The country house look has come back, but there’s a new twist to it.” Common issues are being tackled in different ways, such as reducing waste, whether by using vintage and antique furniture or repurposing and restoration. Even in urban projects, there’s a new focus on crafts and local identity. These designers share a sense of fun too, just as British interior design did after World War I when Sybil Colefax and Nancy Lancaster exported the UK country house look across the world. “Good hotels are another universe that you can escape into,” says Luke Edward Hall, whose first hotel opened in Paris late last year. “People want an experience that feels authentic, not a bland international look.” For Ciaran O’Brien of Red Deer, which created the look of Birch in Hertfordshire, being authentic is also about respecting the past. “You don’t need to rewire and rip out finishes totally, just celebrate the repair.” All agree that the pandemic has changed the way we see both our homes and the way we will want to escape from them. Several, including Luke Edward Hall, Nicola Harding and Hannah Lohan, decided to move to the countryside after the first lockdown. Distinctive and thoughtful yet full of wit: it’s a golden age for British hotel design, even if every notion of bling has been firmly banished. The artist: Luke Edward Hall While studying menswear at Central St Martins, Luke Edward Hall sourced antiques. After graduation, he added illustration and journalism to his portfolio (he’s also an interiors columnist at the Financial Times) and has had previous collaborations with English National Opera, Habitat and fashion house Lanvin. Les Deux Gares is Hall’s first hotel, a 40-room boutique hotel in Paris. “I don’t want to be a slave to one era, so there’s French Empire furniture mixed with 1970s lighting. I loved working on this so much.” Above all there’s colour. “We really went for it with the rooms; there are no white walls anywhere”. The gym has floral wallpaper and a checkerboard floor. Hall has provided furniture throughout, from mirrors to lamps and tables. “A hotel should be an escape, another universe [...] a fantastical experience,” he says.
It’s a rare thing – as a tourist ticking off the sights – to be caught off guard by a surge of emotion. But as I walked into the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna I had to put out my hand to steady myself. I found a chair and sat down to try to process what I was seeing. The dome and vaults of this small, cruciform building are entirely covered in brilliantly coloured mosaics. Hundreds of gold stars shimmer against a background of the richest, deepest ultramarine. Grape vines and pomegranates and complex abstract patterns picked out in red, green and turquoise line the arches between the vaults. On the walls below, two stags, entwined with foliage drink at a waterhole, while below the dome, toga-clad figures float among the glittering tesserae. And, presiding over all above the entrance door, the good shepherd sits on a throne of rocks among his sheep.
New rewilding project teaches tour guides to offer fresh look at travel. The environment and tourism can benefit from a programme teaching tour guides about returning nature to a wilder state
Phuket’s heavenly beaches are empty, barely anyone is browsing the spices and handicrafts of Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak Market. The Covid crisis has taken a heavy toll on a tourism sector contributing about one-fifth of Thailand’s GDP. Even since tentatively relaunching tourism late last year with 14-day quarantine hotel packages – under the banner of ‘Amazing Thailand Plus’ – visitors have stayed away. In November 2020 Thailand welcomed just 3,065 arrivals, mostly those visiting friends and family. Down 99.9% on the same month the previous year when 3.3million arrived. The creation of a long-stay Special Tourist Visa (STV) – permitting visits of up to 45 days inclusive of hotel quarantine – has only seen an average uptake of 346 overseas visitors per month since November, well below a government target of 1,200. “We’ve seen zero interest in Thailand,” says Sam Clark of Experience Travel Group. “The idea of being imprisoned in one hotel for 14 days is just not an option for travellers. I believe the Thai public remains against opening up, though this might shift as the economic toll bites”. All arrivals spend their first 14 days at a hotel as part of a package called Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ). The packages typically include three meals per day and two Covid-19 tests conducted on the property, the second of which functions as test-and-release from quarantine. Arrivals remain in their room for the first few days until an initial Covid-19 test is taken. If negative they may access limited hotel facilities outdoors such as the pool. A number of ASQ golf packages have been recently launched, with wellness quarantine packages in the pipeline.