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August 12, 2011 8:13 pm
Scandinavia A new company is offering what it calls the first “northern lights hunting” trips, designed to maximise visitors’ chances of seeing the phenomenon. Rather than waiting patiently for the lights to appear, groups will travel around to areas with no cloud cover and where there have been sightings, while leaders will monitor specialist forecasts. Guests are also given pagers, so they can be alerted if the lights become visible after they have gone to bed. The tours, which cost from £1,045 for four nights, take place in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The company, the Aurora Zone, hopes its launch will be boosted by the Solar Maximum, the period of solar activity in which the most spectacular northern lights displays occur, which happens approximately every 12 years and last occurred in 2000. www.theaurorazone.com
Russia Best Western unveiled its first Russian property last week, saying that while the country is well supplied with luxury hotels, there is a lack of mid-market chains. It sees “an opportunity to be a dominant mid-scale brand in Russia” and the 970-room Best Western Vega in Moscow will be followed by two more hotels next year. Best Western hotels are independently owned and operated but marketing and reservations are handled centrally. www.bestwestern.com
England A temporary tent “hotel” charging up to £165 per night has opened on farmland close to the beach at Polzeath, north Cornwall. The Pop-up Hotel consists of 16 tents (including bell tents, which cost £385 for a three-night weekend break, and larger, safari-style tents, which cost £495) as well as a restaurant, bar and concierge service. At the end of August, the hotel will be dismantled and moved to a new site, a private estate on Dartmoor called Yarner House, where it will operate from September 5 to October 3. The organisers have previously offered “boutique camping” at festivals but this is the first time the tents have been used to create a stand-alone hotel. www.thepopuphotel.co.uk
Zambia Luxury tour company Seasons is offering an eight-night “bat safari” to Kansanka National Park, where up to 10m fruit bats converge for a few weeks every November. The bats roost in trees during the day, then head out when the sun begins to set to feed on seasonal fruit, turning the sky black. Prices start at £3,545. www.seasons.co.uk
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