Newmarket Holidays

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Sri Lanka – from temples to stunning sunsets

Long Haul Product Director Richard Harrington on touring the island with Newmarket Holidays

To me, the best thing about Sri Lanka is the variety the island offers. There are cities, beaches, hill stations, cool tea plantations and, on RH Sri Lanka 2safari, chances to see amazing wildlife.

We head up into the ‘Cultural Triangle’ from the seafront city of Colombo. Clean, modern and vibrant, it still retains a colonial feel in many of its restored older buildings. On the way, a visit to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage allows you to get up close with these majestic animals. See babies being feed from milk bottles and, in the afternoon, watch them wander down through the town’s streets to the river for the ritual bathing session. There are some great cafes overlooking the river here, too.

Habarana is our base to explore the highlights of the Cultural Triangle – namely the old, ruined capital Polonnaruwa; the rock fortress of Sigiriya (which you may want to climb for the fabulous views over the wild plains); and Dambulla’s Buddhist rock temples. The hotels here recreate the feel of being on safari, with open restaurants and public areas, low-level buildings and bungalows, and, of course, magnificent swimming pools.

By contrast, the cool hill country resembles Britain, with haRH Sri Lanka 5lf-timbered buildings and beautiful parks and gardens. Another highlight is our stay in Kandy, a beautiful lakeside spot in the heart of the mountains.

In Sri Lanka, visiting a tea plantation is a must, as is spending some time with wildlife. Our tour takes in the famous Yala National Park – home to elephants, sloth bears and – often seen from safari vehicles – leopards.

Last (but not least!) is relaxing in an idyllic beach resort. Although the sea can be rough, the hotels all try to outdo each other for the best swimming pool. Many have views over the sea, so they’re the perfect place to watch some truly beautiful sunsets over the water!

Find out more about our escorted tour on our website:



Customer Service Week for the ‘Newmarket Family’

6-10th October is National Customer Service Week – an initiative designed to recognise the 70% of UK workers with a customer service role, and their huge importance to the British economy.

At Newmarket Holidays, staff have welcomed the opportunity to say thank you to our hardworking team with a week of themed events. These have been about having fun, extending our product knowledge, and building relationships between almost 200 company staff.

The national initiative comes at the perfect time, as Newmarket Holidays has adopted an ongoing scheme committing to Customer Service Excellence. We aim to make every week a Customer Service Week.

The week has been a chance for Newmarket’s different departments to work together, exchanging ideas on how to offer the best possible customer service. We’ve also asked our customers what they think. Our call centre team have asked callers to rate their experience, and a survey has been sent to over 500 travel agents to rate our friendliness, speed and efficiency.

Customer Service Week also gives us a chance to thank our customers, who’ve made it possible for us to celebrate 30 successful years. We’re proud to be able to say we have many repeat customers who’ve made us their first choice.

We’ve found that many customers like to deal with the same representative – often over some years – having built up a relationship with a staff member who inspires their confidence. Our ever-popular concert breaks to see Cliff Richard and Andre Rieu are another example of a loyal following, with fans returning for the ease of booking ticket and hotel-inclusive packages. The independent review service Revoo also reports a four-and-a-half star rating (out of five) for customers saying they would book again with Newmarket Holidays.

Customer Service Week has shown us strong approval from many bookers, but we have also committed to constantly improving our service. Much of that will be due to the outstanding efforts of our wonderful staff.

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A ‘Big Book’ of Best-Value Escorted Tours from Newmarket Holidays

The BIG Book 2015-16 Ed1 TA.indb




















Specialist operator Newmarket Holidays, winner of the ‘Best Escorted Tours’ accolade at last year’s British Travel Awards, has announced the launch of a 228-page brochure of ‘best-value’ escorted tours. This brand new ‘big book’ covers destinations within the UK, across Europe, in the Americas and even further afield, and includes departure dates all the way through until early 2016.

In a break from the company’s long-established policy of producing several themed or region-specific brochures, this big book covers everything from a four-day break to Belfast to an 18-day journey taking in the very best of America’s National Parks – just two examples from a total of more than 60 escorted holidays.

According to Newmarket Commercial Director, David Sharman, the idea of collecting Newmarket’s largest range of escorted tours in one brochure came from the realisation that many of the company’s regular customers had ‘wish lists’ of destinations, attractions, landmarks or experiences both close to home and around the globe. “The same customer might be as likely to book to see the Giant’s Causeway or the Edinburgh Military Tattoo as to book a tour taking in Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Grand Canyon or Iguazú Falls.

“For a lot of people, an escorted tour is the perfect way to see or do something that they’ve always wanted, but never quite got round to,” he explains. “What we’re doing with the new brochure is offer a vast choice of opportunities at what we believe are the best-value prices around.”

Marketed under a ‘Where’s on your wish list?’ campaign, the new range contains more included visits and excursions than ever before, with several new destinations being offered alongside Newmarket Holidays’ established tours. The wide range of award-winning Italian holidays has expanded to include a ‘Top to Toe’ tour that visits Venice, Florence, Rome, Sorrento and Sicily, while new North American tours include two new ‘Cruise and Tour’ holidays. The first combines a ‘West Coast highlights’ tour of Los Angeles, San, Diego, Palm Springs and Las Vegas with a seven-night Mexican Riviera cruise, while the second takes in a journey through New England’s Fall foliage before embarking on a week-long voyage past the Canadian Maritimes and along the St Lawrence River to Québec.

Other new introductions include an eight-day Jewels of the Baltic tour, a 13-day Best of China and the Pandas of Chengdu journey, and a two-week Indian trip taking in the Golden Triangle cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra as well as Amritsar and the Himalayan foothills.

To find out more and book online, visit our website at


Newmarket Holidays introduces MV Azores

Next year an exciting new addition joins the Newmarket Holidays cruise programme. A contrast to larger ships that rise many storeys high out of the water, MV Azores is a smaller, premium-rated vessel. A former Transatlantic liner, she has benefitted from investment to give her a beautiful restoration.

One of the charms of MV Azores is a more intimate atmosphere, meaning the chance to make friends and relax on board this home-away-from-home. As a smaller ship, Azores is also able to reach into remote corners, such as the beautiful Norwegian fjords. Her range of destinations includes – but is not limited to – the Caribbean; Iceland, where you might sail in search of the magical Northern Lights; and the fascinating islands around the British coast.

For a taste of the cruise comfort that you’ll find aboard this stylish ship, and of the fine service that her crew take pride in, we’re pleased to present this new video, which gives future passengers a ‘virtual’ chance to tour her elegant facilities – the attractive restaurants and bars, her leisure facilities, and the different grades of cabins and suites.

Azores cruises sail from Bristol, Hull and London Tilbury in 2015, and are available to book today. You can find out more about her and her programme of cruises on the Newmarket Holidays website.

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Fly from Lydd and find yourself in good company with Newmarket Holidays

The recent closure of Manston Airport meant doubts for some Newmarket passengers, not wanting to lose the convenience of flying from Kent. Happily, Lydd (London Ashford) Airport stepped in, ensuring tours would continue as planned. The BBC’s report on our flights is probably the first time Newmarket Holidays and ‘blonde bombshell’ actress Diana Dors have been mentioned together!  And while Newmarket’s Regional Charter Manager Amanda George called this June’s departures a ‘new chapter at Lydd’, it’s also just the latest installment of that airports fascinating – and often forgotten – history.

Holidaymakers may think that flights from the UK have always been centred on its current major airports, such as Heathrow and Gatwick, but in the 1960s – the era of the emerging jet-set – one of the world’s busiest airports was based at Lydd.

Lydd, then known as Ferryfield, began life in 1954 as a home for Silver City Airways, which operated a car and passenger air-ferry service. This very British affair flew to the elegant French resort of Le Touquet and connected travellers with Ostend in Belgium. The airport was already thriving by the time the Duke of Edinburgh visited in his private plane in 1956, although Silver Cities eventually declined with the popularity of alternative Channel crossings – hovercraft and modern ferries.

Commercial air travel once meant that only a lucky few enjoyed the glamour of the skies, but Lydd also became known as a place for famous faces to make incognito departures. Diana Dors took off from Lydd, as did Hollywood stars Humphrey Bogart and Gregory Peck.

A black-and-white photo of Diana Dors arriving at Rome’s Ciampino airport in 1957 shows the actress emerging from an aeroplane ready for the waiting cameras – tanned, sunlit, her fur coat slung over a gloved hand.

It’s a contrast with an earlier shot from Lydd. Dors stands beside her open-top car, a Silver Cities aircraft in the background. She’s a smiling star but things are simple, relaxed and familiar – almost like a family photo.

In another vintage shot from Lydd, Gregory Peck strolls down the tarmac. He’s chatting with the pilot, his newspaper under his arm, his crumpled raincoat in hand.

Even more nostalgia can be found in delightful footage from British Pathe news. It shows a group of Boy Scouts boarding their plane to France in 1956. Contenders in an Anglo-French Soapbox Rally, they’re heading out for a ‘cultural exchange’.

Who knows what the next chapters in Lydd’s story will hold, but customers flying to some of Newmarket Holidays’s most popular destinations this summer can also fly with the knowledge that they’re also following the flightpath of some surprising famous faces.

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Manston uncertainty means Lydd departures for Newmarket Holidays

Holidaymakers in the East Kent area will be pleased to hear that news of the future uncertainty of commercial airline activities at Manston does not mean their summer holidays with us are under threat. Instead, we will be moving our Kent departures to Lydd Airport this summer.

Passengers booked on our ever-popular departures to Verona and Naples this June have already been contacted, and it’s extremely likely this will herald a shift for our remaining 2014, and all future, Kent-based operations to avoid any further uncertainty for our customers.

Commenting on the change in operations, our Regional Charter Manager, Amanda George, said: “We have enjoyed a very happy and successful relationship with Manston International over many years, and will be sad to see the airfield close. However, we are excited to be beginning a new chapter at Lydd, which will mean Kent passengers can still begin and end their holidays at a local airport, which is what they enjoy doing”.

The Lydd Airport’s management team added: “whilst we are shocked and saddened by the situation at Manston, we look forward to working with Newmarket Holidays to enable the people of Kent and East Sussex to continue to fly from their local airport with the minimum of hassle”.

In recognition of the inconvenience the move causes for some of our East Kent passengers we’ve also been able to arrange free parking at Lydd airport for any customers wishing to leave their car there for the duration of their time away with us.

We hope to have further details about autumn operations out of Kent in the next few days.

To find out about current packages departing from Lydd, go to

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Newmarket Holidays Appoints New Retail Sales Manager

Our travel agent partnerships have gone from strength to strength over the last few years, and that’s partly down to the hard work of one man – Richard Forde. Previously Agency Sales Manager at Travelscope, Richard joined Newmarket Holidays in 2010. Four years and many many visists to travel agents up and down the country later, he’s taken another step up into a new role – Retail Sales Manager. We caught up with him on a flying visit back to Newmarket Towers to find out what that means and what his new post involves.

Meet the Team… Richard FordeRichard Forde_2014

What does your role at Newmarket Holidays involve?
Analysis of sales figures, coordinating brochure launches and distribution, managing communications out to the trade, attending roadshows and trade functions, in store visits and training, making sure all agents and the Newmarket team are happy… the list goes on and on!

How long have you worked here?
Just over four years now.

What’s the best part of your job?
The constant variety.

What would your dream holiday be?
Koh Samui, Thailand. It has great weather, lovely beaches, fantastic food and the people are so friendly!

Who would your dream travelling companion be, and why?
Chris Evans. He’s always upbeat and I think he’d be great fun!

What’s your top travel tip?
I’m going to sound like my mother now, but I always take a couple of spare carrier bags for wet and/or dirty clothes and footwear!


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