Top 10 Must-See Places in the UK

England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland collectively form one of the most popular regions for tourists to visit in Europe: The United Kingdom. Breathtaking countryside, historic cities, medieval castles, massive mansions, world-renowned museums and great theaters highlight the list of attractions that drive visitors to the region in droves. Diversity makes the UK an ideal place for just about anybody to visit. It truly has something for just about everybody.

With such a massive amount of great places to see and experience in the UK, the task of creating an itinerary for a trip to the UK may sound daunting, but the experts at Touropia have created an easily digestible list of the top ten places to help.

10. Cambridge

Located on the River Cam, the charismatic English town is just north of London. Education (University of Cambridge), endless entertainment and the perpendicular Gothic architecture of The King’s College Chapel are a few of the main draws of Cambridge.

9. Lake District

Western England’s Lake District is the second largest National Park in the UK. Lakes, mountains and hills were formed almost artistically by glacial erosion to create awe-inspiring scenery. Roughly 14 million tourists visit the park annually.

8. Snowdonia

Snowdonia is the third largest national park in the United Kingdom and offers dramatic panoramic views of the mountains, valley and coastlines below. The park is located on the coast of Wales and includes the highest mountain in Wales and England along with the largest lake in Wales.

7. Chester

Near the Wales border lies the city of Chester on the River Dee in Cheshire, England. The city was founded over 2,000 years ago and boasts ample amounts of history, culture and architecture. Tourists flock to Chester to see the Roman and Medieval walls encircling the city and 19th century black-and-white revival architecture.

6. Cornwall

Cornwall is the westernmost point in the United Kingdom and provides a delightful and quaint atmosphere that is still very rugged and isolated. Rocky cliffs overlooking the sea highlight the northern side, while golden sand beaches are the main attraction on the south.

5. York

An ancient walled city located where the River Foss meets the River Ouse, York is home to many notable attractions. York Minister, a stone cathedral overflowing with famous works of art, and the York Wall represent two of the major landmarks in the city. Experiencing the sites by foot is quite convenient and recommended.

4. Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle is without a doubt the primary reason most visit the cobblestone streets of Edinburgh. With history all around, there are over 4,500 historic buildings and many sites to be seen aside from the castle, Edinburgh is a place you must see to truly understand.

3. Stonehenge

Stonehenge is easily one of the most famous sites in the entire world, and for great reason. It is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular area of large standing stones in the southwest region of England. The site is home to some of the most important Neolithic and Bronze Age finds and 200 monuments.

2. Scottish Highlands

This rugged area in northern and northwestern Scotland is sparsely populated and contains a multitude of mountain ranges, including the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis. Eilean Donean Castle and Loch Ness (you might even see the monster) are also places to see here.

1. London

The city has no shortage of history, museums, art galleries, green parks, fantastic shopping, delectable dining, theatre and royalty! London has practically everything you desire and therefore the number one ranking is well deserved. Visits to Buckingham Palace and Big Ben along with a ride on a double-decker bus are essentials.

JNR has had the pleasure of organizing many trips to the UK for some of the top advertisers of our clients to thank them for their loyalty and the feedback has been outstanding.

Whether you are looking to use travel incentives to thank dealers, employees, customers or advertisers, or just looking to take a nice vacation, the UK should be a serious consideration.

If you could add one more destination to this list, what would you pick? Pleas share your responses in the comments. Torquay has my pick!

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Kristopher Hewkin

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “London” by Doug88888 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Travel Industry Spotlight: Baggage Allowance Fees

What were once viewed as loose guidelines to make travelling easier and keep the customer happy are now tightening as airlines and frequent flyers see the value of unbundled tickets. ‘Baggage Allowance’ – two words referring to airline luggage policies that vary dramatically between different carriers as consistent industry standards are non-existent.

It was once common practice for airlines to encourage tourists to participate in the activities that their countries were known for, including sports. For this reason, the first item of sports equipment brought onto the plane (skis, golf clubs, fishing equipment, etc.) were free or cheaper than an additional bag. Within the past few years, airlines have gradually stopped this practice and passengers can now end up facing exorbitant costs in unexpected fees if they do not research restrictions before heading to the airport.

While strict enforcement of luggage allowance, in both weight and dimensions, has been common in Europe for the past few years, the emergence of similar practices are becoming common place in other parts of the world.

According to the Bureau of Transportation, domestic airlines within the U.S. alone earned $3.35 billion in luggage fees last year, increasing by an estimated 89% in the last three years according to IdeaWorks. These fees result in big bucks for the airlines’ bottom line and it looks like they will continue to increase.

Source: Market Watch

It is time to take a look at the different practices from some of the main airlines across the world.

Air Canada

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: Between $20 and $100
Carry-on luggage: One bag, 22 lbs limit and one personal item, 22 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: Depends on the item. Some have handling fees.
Music equipment: Can be checked if it meets size and weight restrictions

 

Air New Zealand

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): two pieces, 50 lbs per piece

Fee for excess baggage: $150 and above
Carry-on luggage: One item, 15 lbs
Sporting equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply

Music equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply. Subject to oversize / overweight charge if applicable

 

American Airlines

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Charges may apply depending on destination

Fee for excess baggage: Overweight baggage $100 per piece, oversized baggage $200 per piece
Carry-on luggage: One bag and one personal item
Sporting equipment: Additional charges depending on the item
Music equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply

 

British Airways

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: Between $150 and $450
Carry-on luggage: One bag and one personal item, 51 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: Between $150 and $300
Music equipment: “Special tariff” not disclosed online

 

China Southern

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: $20 per piece

Carry-on luggage: Limit 11 lbs
Sporting equipment: Not disclosed online

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Delta

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit, between $0 and $25

Fee for excess baggage: Second bag, between $0 and $100, third bag, between $100 and $285, plus special handling and additional fees for bags that do not meet size and weight restrictions
Carry-on luggage: One bag and one personal item
Sporting equipment: Between $0 and $150 depending on the item
Music equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply

 

Emirates

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs each

Fee for excess baggage: between $123 and $175 per additional piece

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 15 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: Not disclosed online

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Fiji Airlines

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: Oversized and special handling fee $100, $120 per extra piece, $50 surcharge for each piece weighing 50lbs to 66 lbs

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 15 lbs limit (not uncommon to have your carry-on weighed and in the Nadi Airport it can be weighed at check-in and again when going through security gates)
Sporting equipment: Additional fees for sporting equipment even if within checked allowance

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Japan Airlines

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs each

Fee for excess baggage: between $60 and $450

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 22 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: between $100 and $150

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Lufthansa

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: Between $150 and $450
Carry-on luggage: One item, 15 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply
Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Qantas

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: $175 per extra piece, $75 heavy charge
Carry-on luggage: One item, 15 lbs
Sporting equipment: No charge if within permitted baggage allowance otherwise standard excess charges apply

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

South West

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: $75 for a 3rd checked item
Carry-on luggage: One bag and one personal item
Sporting equipment: Depends on the item

Music equipment: Can be carryon or checked if it meets size and weight restrictions

 

Virgin Atlantic

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): One item, 50 lbs limit

Fee for excess baggage: first extra bag $100, overweight $60, 70 lbs limit

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 22 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: One free piece, 50 lbs limit

Music equipment: Not disclosed online

 

Virgin Australia

Checked Baggage: (standard economy fare): Two items, 50 lbs limit per item

Fee for excess baggage: first extra bag $150, overweight $100, 70 lbs limit

Carry-on luggage: One piece, 22 lbs limit
Sporting equipment: Can be included as part of your check baggage allowance, certain sporting equipment is charged at 50% of the full excess baggage rate

Music equipment: Can be carry-on or checked if it meets size and weight restrictions

 

As you can see from this varied group of airlines, there are no industry standards and if you arrive at the airport naive to the baggage policy applying to your flight, you could be asked to pay over $100 to see that your baggage makes it onboard.

  • Before you fly, check your baggage allowance with the airline you are travelling with. Airlines often change and update baggage information.
  • JNR takes no responsibility for incorrect information or the baggage policies of airlines
  • This information was taken from individual airline websites and based on similar destinations

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

 

Photo: “Budget Airways @ Changi Airport, Singapore” by William Cho is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Peruvian Spotlight: Inventions

As we wind up our adventure through Peru, we thought it would be fun to see what this glorious country has given us in terms of inventions. Let’s start with some of the earliest people in the region, the Incan Empire:

1)    Freeze-Drying

Thought this was a clever food storage solution developed by NASA? While they do use this process to keep astronauts sated in space, you might be surprised to learn that the first records of food being freeze-dried was potatoes in the high Andes. Incas would cover potatoes in a cloth and set them outside overnight. When the frigid temperatures would drop below 32° F, the potatoes would freeze. In the morning, the Incas would use the clothes to ring out any moisture from the potatoes and repeat the process until the desired level of freeze-drying was achieved.

These ingenious Incas would use the long-lasting potatoes as lightweight food rations for soldiers and extra was kept as an emergency supply of food in case of natural disaster, crop failure or drought.

2)    Rope Bridges

The Andean Mountains are not the easiest to navigate with sheer cliffs and cavernous gorges but like many other adversities, the Incas developed a way to overcome these natural hazards. Using materials abundant to the region such as cotton, grass and wool from llamas and alpacas, the Incas created sturdy rope bridges to help them traverse gaps as wide as 150 feet. These primitive suspension bridges were attached at either side to large stone structures and were often used in the morning to avoid strong winds that could turn the bridge into a hammock.  Not ones to forget safety, the Incas would rebuild the bridges each year to prevent the natural fibers from deteriorating too badly.

3)    Terrace Farming

Flat fields are not the easiest to come by in the Andes, so traditional agriculture that prospered in other parts of the world was not possible for the Incas. Their solutions…Terrace Farming!

Large stepped levels were created on inclines and clever construction meant that adequate sunshine, fertile soil and drainage let the Incas yield large crops.

The same temperatures that made freeze-drying possible put the crops at risk. The Incas built stone retaining walls around the terraces to not only hold the farmland in place, but also to absorb heat during the day and radiate it through the soil at night to stop the crops from freezing.

To make the most of limited space, “the three sisters” planting method was invented. Corn would be planted and allowed to grow to a satisfactory height before beans were planted. The corn stalks acted as support beams for the beans cling to as they grew. The last step was to plant squash at the base of the beans and the corn. This concoction of vegetation had a symbiotic relationship with the beans adding nitrogen to the soil to increase the nutrient level and the squash acting as a mulch to prevent weeds and lock in moisture.

4)    Llama and Alpaca Breeding Systems

These animals were paramount to the Incan Empire’s rise to power and daily survival. They provided fuel, fertilizer and meat.  Their hides and wool transformed into colorful garments often worn by nobility.  Through selective breeding, these domesticated animals were the ancient version of a purebred poodle. After generations of using this method, the Incas had llama and alpacas with all the specific traits they desired such as finer, softer fibers than traditional llamas.

The Incas were not the only inventive people around. Taking a look at modern day Peruvian inventions, there is the first modern rocket propulsion system by Pedro Paulet and an urban air cleaner that was built in response to the heavily polluted Peruvian capital of Lima.

5)    Rocket Propulsion System

Pedro Paulet was born in Arequipa, Peru in 1874 and by 1895 was the first person to create a liquid-fuelled rocket engine. His innovations did not stop there however, in 1900 he built what is now known as a modern rocket propulsion system and became one of the “fathers of aeronautics”.

6)    The Urban Air Cleaner

Taking a look at innovative advancements in more recent times, a group of Peruvians seeking a way to combat the ever-increasing smog in their capital city of Lima invented the Urban Air Purifier – 20 (UAP – 20).  In February of 2009, over 100 these UAP – 20s were installed in different areas of Lima, each one having the ability to filter 200,000 cubic meters of air per day or the equivalent of what it takes 1,200 trees to do. With air pollution killing more than 2 million people annually, we can all be thankful for this advancement which absorbs carbon dioxide, filters air dust and decreases harmful bacteria.

It is safe to say that Peruvians are an inventive bunch with many of the ancient developments still present in some form of our modern life today. NASA must be especially thankful for the work of Peruvians like Pedro Paulet and their astronauts happy that they have freeze-dried food to snack on in space.

If you would like more information on any of the destinations in our focus this month or on how to organize an incentive trip to Peru through JNR, please contact jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Rope Bridge, Peru” by Krystelle Denis is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Peruvian Spotlight: Inti Raymi Peruvian Festival of the Sun

With Peru and in particular Machu Picchu still fresh in our minds, JNR now takes you to the dynamic and glorious Inti Raymi or the Festival of the Sun, which is celebrated in Cusco, Peru each year on June 24. This festival coincides with their Winter Solstice, when the sun is farthest away from the earth, and is a time to worship the Sun God, Inti, who is the main deity of the Incan Empire religion, and his wife Pachmama, who is prayed to for a successful and fertile harvest season.

Today, the festival is a reenactment of the customary celebration and includes traditions that date back 500 years. The celebrations take part at the dramatic stone ruins of Sacsayhuamán and can last up to five hours. Each year, one lucky actor is selected to play Sapa Inca, the emperor, who delivers a thrilling performance that highlights the eternal sanctification of the bond between the Sun and humans. A mock llama is sacrificed, his head held high to Pachmama and the future is read from its faux blood.

As the sun sets, bonfires are set for the first time that day and the procession then winds through the town of Cusco where the streets are filled with lively people dancing and singing in vibrant clothing. Priests and other participants dress in three main costumes: the snake which symbolizes the underworld, the puma which represents life on earth and the condor which represents the heavenly world of the gods. You will also see women sweeping away evil spirits and streets covered in beautiful flowers and petals.

It is customary to drink and toast with chichi, a fermented beverage most commonly derived from maize, throughout the festival, and Sank’u, the Andean people’s main meal, should be tried – both can be bought from food and beverage vendors at most venues.

Quechua is the traditional language of the Incas and can be heard throughout this ceremony which more than 64,000 people celebrate annually.

Why not plan to visit the festival before traveling to the breathtaking city of Machu Picchu? If you would like more information on how to organize an amazing incentive trip to this fantastic festival, please email jnrinfo@jnrcorp.com.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Stephanie Thomas

______________________________________________________________

JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.

Photo: “Inti Raymi” by Carlos Dίaz is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Gateway Canyons Resort: Discovery of the Unexpected

Just days ago, I found myself at a fork in the road. Would I choose the same safe route I’ve always chosen or would I choose the road less traveled? In the end, I climbed through the window of a Pro Baja truck alongside a professional race driver and enjoyed the ride of my life on the off-road track at Gateway Canyons Resort in Southwestern Colorado. At times I thought I was on a roller coaster on steroids or the classic tilt-a-whirl ride at a county fair. As others who have experienced this adventure will attest, the smile never left my face.

Wait, what? You want me to back up? Where’s Gateway Canyons Resort and where’s Southwestern Colorado? Is it near Denver? Gateway Canyons Resort sits on the opposite side of Colorado from Denver about an hour from Grand Junction and two hours from Telluride. Okay, you recognize the name Telluride? Good.

For those of you who are not familiar with the area, Southwestern Colorado is a land of great scenic diversity, and within a two hour drive, you can experience majestic mountains, quaint towns, incredible deserts surrounded by towering rock formations, breathtaking canyons, raging rivers, and pastoral valleys. It is my ultimate favorite destination to visit.

So I was pleasantly surprised when I learned about Gateway Canyons Resort as there has not been a luxury resort in this particular area of Southwestern Colorado. I love the resort’s web site. As a member of Noble House Hotels and Resorts and affiliated with Associated Luxury Hotels International, Gateway Canyons benefits from larger than life pictures and exceptional marketing. In this case, however, a picture only says a thousand words. In fact, my desktop picture on my work computer is the below image taken on my husband’s cell phone camera, and I only wish I could transport myself like a character in a sci-fi movie through my computer screen into the picture. I would be back there in a heartbeat.

Maybe you’ve thought Colorado is boring, not luxurious, two dimensional. I believe anyone who has been to this area would beg to differ, as did John Hendricks (creator of Discovery Communications, i.e., Discovery Chanel and TLC) when he was first introduced to the Four Corner states. He tells the story in his 2013 released book A Curious Discovery of a trip to Kenya in the 1980s with the film crew from the BBC. When asked what they felt was “the most dramatic landscape they had seen”, they replied not with New Zealand, China, Scandinavia or South Africa but “the American Southwest” (Hendricks, p 330). Out of all of the various destinations they had traveled to and filmed, they chose a little corner of our country.

Shortly after this trip to Kenya ended, Hendricks went on the road looking for the perfect spot to develop a resort. Destiny brought him to Gateway, Colorado, a secluded high-desert paradise set down in the center of five startlingly beautiful and unique canyons. And so, the rest is history.

General Manager Rudy Sharp and his sales executives are quick to preface that Gateway Canyons is not the resort for everyone, so if you are only looking to relax poolside 24/7, then this isn’t the place for you. But if you are looking to replace the ordinary with the extraordinary, then you should consider Gateway Canyons for your next destination.

Now, don’t get me wrong; there’s a time and place for rejuvenating and relaxing, but out of the four days at the resort, I spent maybe an hour poolside. There are just too many incredible adventures: kayaking, mountain climbing, attending the pro-Baja truck driving school, driving ATVs, horseback riding, or participating in the soon to open evolution of weaponry. Piqued your interest yet?

With the philosophy of, “you want to create it, we’ll make it happen”, Gateway Canyons stands out as a signature property to surpass your participants’ wildest expectations. You want your VIPs to drive from the airport in exotic luxury cars owned by Hendricks? Sure thing. You want to do a progressive dinner in his classic car museum? We’d like nothing better. You want to shoot dynamite in a canyon? No problem. You want to try yoga on horseback? Okay. You want your participants to be comfortably uncomfortable? Definitely!

To sum it all up, I only wish I could put into words and describe through pictures this one-of-a-kind destination. But it is definitely a place you need to experience firsthand. Like my experience choosing to ride-along in the pro-Baja truck, there are moments in your life that you have to choose the road less traveled. So you’ve never thought of Colorado for your incentive or meeting. Well, open up your horizons to this incredibly dynamic destination. I heard so many people over my weekend there say, “I just never would have thought of Colorado. Now, I know differently.”

And, if I may say, JNR has been transforming the ordinary to the extraordinary for over 34 years and would like nothing better than to create an out-of-this-world program for your distinguished guests at this destination.

Discover the unexpected in Southwestern Colorado.

By JNR Incorporated

Written by Katharine Heinz

Katharine Heinz has been with JNR for nine years, first as a Desktop Publisher and now as the Planning Business Administrator. When she is not researching the next hot destination or hotel, she can be found at home enjoying her family.

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JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies of many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.