In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Barbican announces new James Bond Exhibition: Designing 007
The Barbican marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise, from 1962’s Dr No to this year’s Skyfall, with a unique exhibition showcasing the inside story of the design and style of the world’s most influential and iconic movie brand.
In collaboration with EON Productions and with unprecedented access to their archives, Designing 007 will be a multi-sensory experience, immersing audiences in the creation and development of Bond style over its auspicious 50 year history.
It will explore the craft behind the screen icons, the secret service and villains, tailoring and costumes, set and production design, automobiles, gadgets and special effects, graphic design and motion graphics, exotic locations, stunts and props.
Highlights include gadgets and weapons made for Bond and his notorious adversaries by special effects experts John Stears and Chris Corbould, along with artwork for sets and storyboards by production designers Sir Ken Adam, Peter Lamont and Syd Cain, and costume designs by Bumble Dawson, Donfeld, Julie Harris, Lindy Hemming, Ronald Patterson, Emma Porteous, and Jany Temime.
On display too will be lavish screen finery by Hollywood costume designers and major fashion names including Giorgio Armani, Brioni, Roberto Cavalli, Tom Ford, Hubert de Givenchy, Gucci’s Frida Giannini, Douglas Hayward, Rifat Ozbek, Jenny Packham, Miuccia Prada, Oscar de la Renta, Anthony Sinclair, Philip Treacy, Emanuel Ungaro and Donatella Versace.
Virgin cabin crew taught to whisper
Virgin Atlantic has appointed a ‘whispering coach’ to ensure cabin crew do not disturb the highest-paying passengers on flights.
Crew will learn how to whisper to Upper Class passengers at a volume of between twenty and thirty decibels on a special, day-long training course. Sir Richard Branson’s airline says that the measure will have a “calming effect” on passengers in its new, fanciest ever Upper Class suite.
Virgin’s Upper Class passengers pay around £6,000 per person for return flights from London to New York.
The airline says its new whispering strategy has been “formulated with input from speech experts” and trialled on test-flights and with several focus groups. Virgin’s customer service training supervisor Richard Fitzgerald has been designated the new whispering coach. He says his brief is to ensure the most relaxing night’s sleep possible for the airline’s high rollers.
Virgin claims that its ‘Upper Class Dream Suite’, which is being unveiled in April, will offer the “largest and most comfortable beds in the sky”.
Mr Fitzgerald will train flight attendants how best to “engage with passengers”, coaching them on the optimum “tone, volume and sentiment” to adopt.
The airline trumpeted: “His specialist training will also ensure that no passenger is unduly disturbed whilst sleeping and that all passengers wake up and arrive at their destination feeling rested and refreshed.”
Say ‘I do’ to the trip of a lifetime
Whether you made the leap today, or popped the question already, you’ll want a honeymoon to remember. Sarah Baxter offers inspiration for romantics, thrill-seekers and more.
What’s the attraction?
Bye-bye beach-flop: today’s newlyweds want more from their honeymoon. When I was putting together the first edition of Unique Honeymoons magazine, we did a survey. It revealed that 81 per cent of couples crave the trip of a lifetime, with only 12 per cent content to take a sun-sea-sand break. Many couples have holidayed together for years before marrying, which means the trip needs to be special. Luckily, as times have changed, choices have widened. While there are over-water villas a-plenty, there are monk blessings and tango lessons, too. No matter the budget, the key is deciding what will make a honeymoon your own.
The “average” honeymoon
A survey by Brides magazine found British couples typically spend £4,000 on their honeymoon. Happily, for around £2,000 per person you can consider options well beyond the average. For example, you could island-hop around Mozambique’s Quirimbas archipelago on a dhow sailing boat, sleeping out on the sand before ending your trip with three nights of barefoot luxury at the secluded Ibo Island Lodge. The Zambezi Safari and Travel Company (01548 830059; zambezi.com) offers an eight-night trip from £2,090 per person, including flights.
Honeymoons don’t have to cost the earth. Take cuddling up under canvas in Scotland, where wild camping is permitted if the landscape is respected. Glen Etive is a good spot, and perfectly placed for lung-clearing hikes in the surrounding Glencoe mountains. A few little luxuries – a bottle of prosecco and tea lights in jam jars – add low-cost romance. For more glamorous camping, Black Mountain Tipi Retreat in Powys, Wales (01638 576682; blackmountainretreats.com) has secluded tepees, tucked away in a private valley meadow – complete with private hot tubs. Tepees start at £85 per night.
“We thought if we started married life by taking on a huge challenge, then everything else would seem easy,” says Sonia Jackson, who headed with her new husband to Tanzania to climb Africa’s highest mountain. “It was both the best and worst experience of our lives.” There’s nothing romantic about Kilimanjaro’s freezing nights and long-drop loos, but hiking up this 5,895m peak will cement any relationship. Exodus (0845 869 9179; exodus.co.uk) offers a 13-day “Kilimanjaro & Zanzibar” trip that includes recuperation on the Spice Isle, for £2,179 per person, including flights.
Virgin Galactic to test passenger ship in space
Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, expects to test fly its first spacecraft beyond the Earth’s atmosphere this year, with commercial suborbital passenger service to follow in 2013 or 2014, company officials said on Monday.
Nearly 500 customers have signed up for rides on SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger, two-pilot spaceship being built and tested by Scaled Composites, an aerospace company founded by aircraft designer Burt Rutan and now owned by Northrop Grumman.
The suborbital flights, which cost $200,000 per person, are designed to reach an altitude of about 109 km, giving fliers a few minutes to experience zero gravity and glimpse Earth set against the blackness of space.
“In the suborbital area, there are a lot of things to be done. This is an area that has been essentially absent for about four decades,” said Neil Armstrong, who was a test pilot for the 1960s-era X-15 research plane before becoming a U.S. astronaut and commander of the first mission to land on the moon.
“There’s a lot of opportunity,” Armstrong told about 400 people attending the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Palo Alto, California. “I certainly hope that some of the new approaches will prove to be profitable and useful.”
Virgin Galactic is the most visible of a handful of companies developing spaceships for tourism, research, educational and business purposes.
SpaceShipTwo, the first of Virgin’s planned five-ship fleet, has completed 31 atmospheric test flights – 15 attached to its carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo, and 16 glide tests, William Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic’s vice president of special projects, said in a speech to the conference.
Preparations for the ship’s first rocket-powered flights are under way at Scaled Composites’ Mojave, California, plant and expected to take place this year.
“We hope to have the rocket motor in the spaceship later this year and start powered flight testing,” Virgin Galactic chief test pilot David Mackay told the conference.
“We would like to be the first to do this, but we’re not in a race with anyone. This is not a Cold War-era space race.”
“We flow pretty quickly from first powered flight to first flight to space and then it’s not terribly long from there until we have our first commercial flight to space,” Pomerantz told reporters later.
He said passenger service could begin in 2013 or 2014, depending on the results of the test flights and other factors, such as pilot training.