Short cuts: A hilltop retreat in India

Antarctica Yacht charter company Y.CO is marketing a “once-in-a-lifetime” New Year’s party – on a lavish superyacht overlooking the ice of Antarctica. Sherakhan sleeps 26, plus a crew of 19, and has two rigid inflatable boats for dropping guests on to the ice. It will sail from Punta Arenas in Argentina to destinations including Deception Island, King George Island and the Lemaire Channel. Dates and duration are flexible: the minimum is a week, which would cost $395,000.

Meanwhile Quark Expeditions has signed up descendents of two of the most famous Antarctic explorers as guest lecturers. Jonathan Shackleton (cousin of Sir Ernest Shackleton) and Falcon Scott (grandson of Robert Falcon Scott) will sail on an 11-day voyage that departs from Ushuaia, Argentina on February 9.,

Bristol A young travel company has launched an innovative online tool that could change how customers buy ski holidays. Rather than contacting a succession of tour operators to inquire about prices and availability, prospective clients simply post details online giving their holiday dates, group numbers and preferred resort, then wait for independent chalet owners to come back with personalised offers. The service currently covers five resorts in France and Switzerland.

Jaipur Alila, the Asian hotel group that has won awards for its striking modern architecture, has announced plans to restore and redevelop an 18th-century fort in Rajasthan. The hilltop fort at Bishangarh, 30 miles north of Jaipur, has two-metre thick walls, and original battlements and turrets. It is due to open late next year with 59 suites, a spa and two restaurants.

London Defying conventional wisdom that the internet has rendered high street travel agents a dying breed, two leading brands are launching travel stores. Kuoni’s store opens inside the John Lewis department store in Cardiff this week, the fourth such concession to open in the last fortnight. Meanwhile Abercrombie & Kent has launched its first store and has plans for more worldwide. The shop, in the City of London, allows clients to video-conference with the company’s staff in 25 countries, and offers a complimentary bar and a travel health clinic.

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