In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Ikea plans move into budget hotels
Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, is planning to develop a range of budget hotels.
Inter Ikea, the company that owns Ikea’s intellectual property rights, is looking at potential sites across Europe for the hotels, the Financial Times reported today.
More than 100 locations are being considered for development by the renowned Swedish company, including sites in Britain, Germany, Holland and Poland.
The aim is to create a range of “budget design” hotels, offering a boutique experience at an affordable price. Other businesses, such as Base2Stay in London and Chic&Basic, which has properties in Madrid, Barcelona and Amsterdam, have successfully developed a similar model.
Inter Ikea has previously invested in shopping centres and property, including Strand East, close to the Olympic Park in Stratford, where up to 1,200 homes are planned, as well as a large area for commercial outlets. However, this is the company’s first involvement in the hotel industry.
The whereabouts of the first hotel in Germany will be revealed “within the next few weeks”, according to Harald Müller, a manager within the company’s property division.
Time travel on Rome’s ancient Appian Way
The Appian Way — Rome’s gateway to the East — was Europe’s first super highway and the wonder of its day. Built in 312 BC, it connected Rome with Capua (near Naples), running in a straight line for much of the way. Eventually it stretched 644 km to Brindisi, from where Roman ships sailed to Greece and Egypt.
While our modern roads seem to sprout potholes right after they’re built, sections of this marvel of Roman engineering still exist. When I visit Rome, I get a thrill walking on the same stones as Julius Caesar or St. Peter. Huge basalt paving blocks form the sturdy base of this roadway. In its heyday, a central strip accommodated animal-powered vehicles, and elevated sidewalks served pedestrians.
Fortunately, about the first 16 km of the Appian Way is preserved as a regional park (Parco dell’Appia Antica, parcoappiaantica.it ). In addition to the roadway, there are ruined Roman monuments, two major Christian catacombs, and a church marking the spot where Peter had a vision of Jesus.
Getting here from the centre of Rome is easy; it’s a short Metro ride and then a quick bus trip (catch No. 118 from either the Piramide or Circo Massimo Metro stops). It’s best to come on a Sunday or holiday, when the whole park is closed to car traffic, and it becomes Rome’s biggest pedestrian zone. You can rent bicycles — and enjoy a meal — at a nearby cafe.
As you stroll or bike along the road, you’ll see tombs of ancient big shots that line the way like billboards. While pagans didn’t enjoy the promise of salvation, those who could afford it purchased a kind of immortality by building themselves big and glitzy memorials. One of the best preserved is the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, built for the daughter-in-law of Rome’s richest man. It’s a massive cylindrical tomb situated on the crest of a hill. While it dates from the first century BC, we still remember her today — so apparently the investment paid off.
But of course, early Christians didn’t have that kind of money. So they buried their dead in mass underground necropoli — or catacombs — dug under the property of the few fellow Christians who owned land. These catacombs are scattered all around Rome just outside its ancient walls, including two inside this park.
Bogus website offered airline jobs
A bogus website offering jobs in the airline industry has been uncovered by trading standards.
Somerset County Council said the scam appears to be aimed at people living outside the UK in particular and may have already claimed victims.
The Fair Airways website, which has a fake business address in Taunton, was offering four months of expenses-paid training in the UK for young, single men and women as cabin crew for the world’s next big airline.
The council’s trading standards officers were alerted by a complaint from Nepal and soon uncovered the truth.
As well as the complaint from Nepal, the council received a query about the airline’s authenticity from the Civil Aviation Authority and a further call from a UK resident.
Somerset trading standards officers are now working to have the sites removed from the internet.
Officers are confident that social media discussions about Fair Airways will alert anyone tempted to start a career with it.
Fair Airways claims on its website that it will be fully functional from September and flying from 36 countries in November.
A link takes anyone interested in a job to the Fair Academy site.
For a compulsory registration fee of £75, and an optional payment of £250 for food and accommodation, anyone from outside Europe was promised two months training in India.
They were also offered four months additional training in the UK, which would be paid for by the Fair Academy.
Ryanair probed over low-fuel emergency landings
Spanish air authorities have opened an investigation into Ryanair after the Irish low-cost carrier requested three emergency landings in July due to fuel shortages, officials said.
An official with Spain’s development ministry told AFP that the state air security agency opened its investigation last week following a complaint by the company that manages the country’s airports.
The events took place July 26 in Valencia, where three Ryanair planes “declared emergency landings due to lack of fuel,” the official said.
The planes had been rerouted from Madrid airport due to bad weather and were placed in a holding pattern. They were given landing priority when their pilots warned they were running low on fuel.
“They weren’t emergency landings, they were normal landings,” a Ryanair spokesman said in Madrid, adding that each plane had more than 30 minutes of fuel remaining, even after overflying Madrid by about an hour.
“All Ryanair flights operate with the required levels of fuel,” the spokesman said. “This includes the fuel needed for travelling on the runway, the flight, reroutings, diversions, and unforeseen events.”
The Irish Sunday Independent newspaper reported that Ryanair stipulates the amount of fuel that each flight should have and that pilots are required to keep refueling to a minimum and to justify any excess by writing.