Hilton London Wembley Opens in Time for Olympic Rush

Hilton London Wembley is the latest of the new hotels to open in London in time to cater for the huge influx of foreign travellers to the city that is expected in the run up to the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza.

The 361-room Hilton is located close to the iconic sporting venue, Wembley Stadium. The hotel was designed to incorporate British culture, history and heritage, and to blend into its Wembley neighbourhood. With its sporting location in mind, the hotel features a two-floor display depicting key events in the history of Wembley Stadium, while a separate custom made art installation illustrates the route of the River Thames.

Dave Horton, the global head for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, said, ‘We are excited about this latest opening for Hilton Hotels & Resorts in London. This uniquely placed hotel couples a stylish and contemporary look, with a sense of quintessential Britishness in the hotel’s design.’

The hotel is currently offering accommodation including 18 suites, a ballroom with capacity for 660 people, 10 meeting rooms, a business centre, a boardroom, an executive lounge, around 200 on-site parking spaces and a LivingWell Health Club, with pool, sauna, steam room, and a 24-hour gym.

Simon Vincent, the area president, Europe, for Hilton Worldwide, said, ‘Hilton London Wembley is an outstanding addition to our London portfolio which now stands at more than 32 hotels across four brands. I would like to thank Quintain, Jack Nicholas and all involved in bringing this superb new hotel to life. With the major sporting events of this summer, Hilton London Wembley is in a prime location to provide upscale accommodation and will be a central part of the continued regeneration of Wembley. As our portfolio in the U.K. continues to grow, the opening of Hilton London Wembley represents another landmark for Hilton Worldwide in 2012.’

Hotel Prices Continue To Drop for 2012 Olympic Games in London

Rooms are still available for less than £100 a night for last minute visitors to London for the 2012 Olympic Games commencing this month, said UK-based holiday company, HolidayExtras.com.

The company has reported that hotels, such as the four-star Heathrow Renaissance, have rooms available for £86 per night, between July 27 and August 12, 2012. The hotel is located close to London Heathrow Airport terminals 1 and 3, and has easy access to central London by transport links.

Olympic ticket holders may also reserve a room at a Heathrow Undercover hotel, or an unnamed hotel, for £99 per night at the HolidayExtras website.

Undercover hotels are hotels that have rooms to fill at a discount, but are only prepared to offer the discount, incognito, through a booking agent, meaning that customers buy the rooms before being informed which hotel they are stopping at. A double room at an Undercover hotel at London Gatwick Airport is currently on offer for £75 per night during the Games period.

Jason Hindle, the head of commercial at HolidayExtras.com, said, ‘It looks as though a lot of hoteliers and hotel booking agents are pricing themselves out of the market.

Heathrow might not be in the centre of London, but it is the official airport for the Games – so transport links to and from the city are going to be regular and reliable. Plus the Heathrow Express is just 15 minutes from Paddington.’

In June this year, hotel prices in London averaged around £160 a night for the Games period, and had peaked at £202 weeks earlier, in anticipation of a sudden rush for rooms at the last minute by international and British travellers visiting the city for the sporting event. Although current prices are 25 percent more than at the same time last year, falling prices are indicative of excess capacity, and more rooms are becoming available every day.

Eurolines Offers Fare Savings for London Olympics

Eurolines, a European intercity bus operator, is offering low coach fares to Europe from Great Britain, during the 2012 Olympic Games.

The company is offering discounts on seats to Paris (France), Brussels (Belgium) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands), at prices commencing from GBP35 one way, or GBP66 return, on travel between July 27, and August 13, which represents around a 30 percent saving on the regular price.

John Gilbert, the company managing director for Eurolines UK, said, ‘This is an exciting time for Britain but inevitably there will also be people keen to escape the summer of sport. We always offer a wide range of low value fares for people booking in advance but this month we’re also reducing our last minute fares to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels by up to a third to allow people to take a spontaneous bargain break abroad.’

The company is offering twelve services daily to Paris, and eight services daily to Amsterdam and Brussels. The reduced fares are available to purchase online until July 15, 2012, and are inclusive of booking fee, taxes and a two-suitcase luggage allowance.

Passengers can also avail of the National Express coach service in Britain for an extra payment of GBP15.

The company is also offering extra services for the London 2012 Olympic Games, to be held in London, and other venues in the UK, from July 27, 2012, to August 12, 2012. The company is offering daily London coaches to Victoria Coach Station, located near the Victoria Underground Station, to connect travellers to the Olympic Park. These buses are offered free to Olympic event ticket holders.


A Freeloader’s Guide to The Olympics

There has been so much hype and negative publicity surrounding the allocation and pricing of tickets for events at the forthcoming London Olympics, that it may have gone almost unnoticed that there will be plenty of opportunity for fans on a restricted budget to witness sporting action firsthand, without having to pay for tickets at all.

Some of the events take place on such a grand scale that only the most prime viewing locations can be cordoned off for ticket holders, providing ample opportunity for the rest of us to benefit from a free show.

The most obvious of these events are the two Marathons, with the women’s taking place on Sunday August 5 at 11.00 , and the men’s taking place on Sunday August 12, also at 11.00. Both of these races will start on The Mall in central London, an area that will be zoned as all-ticket, but they will then follow a route that provides miles of free vantage points and pass by some of the capital’s most famous landmarks. These include Trafalgar Square, the Victoria Embankment, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England, the Tower of London, and Westminster Bridge, with the finish line back on The Mall. Parts of the route will be the same as the annual London Marathon; only on this occasion there is less likelihood of spotting a contestant in a dinosaur suit.

Less obvious, but also providing plenty of opportunities for free access, are the three Race Walks, the men’s and women’s 20km Race Walks, which take place on Saturday August 4 at 17.00, and Saturday August 11 at 17.00, respectively, and the men’s 50km Race Walk, scheduled for 09.00 on Saturday August 11. Again, the start and finish line for these events is on The Mall, and The Mall will again be reserved for ticket holders, but the 2km course also involves a lengthy stretch of Constitution Hill that does not require a ticket. On these occasions spectators will be able to see the athletes lap the course 10 times for the 20km races, and 25 times for the 50km race.

Meanwhile, Hyde Park is the venue for both the men’s and women’s Triathlons, with the women’s event scheduled for 9.00 on Saturday August 4, and the men’s event on Tuesday August 7 at 11.30. There should be plenty of non-ticket vantage points around the southern half of the park’s Serpentine lake, where the event’s swimming leg will take place, although the northern side is all ticket. When the athletes take to their bikes for the second leg, there will be outside vantage points on South Carriage Drive and constitution hill, which they will lap seven times. Finally, the running leg involves four laps of the Serpentine’s southern segment.

The cycling will provide free vantage points away from London city centre, because although the road races will again be starting on The Mall, with the men’s event at 10.00am on Saturday July 28, and the women’s at 12 noon on Sunday July 29, they will then head out of London to the county roads of Surrey. Besides The Mall, the only other ticketed area is at Box Hill in Surrey, where the men will do 9 laps of a side course, and the women will do 2, before heading back to the finishing line in London.

Two other accessible cycling events are the men’s and women’s Individual Time Trials, for which the start and finish venue is Hampton Court Palace in Surrey. Again, after leaving the ticketed areas near the start and finish line, the course heads out into the Surrey countryside, passing near Esher, Cobham and Thames Ditton. Both events are on Wednesday August 1, with the women’s event beginning at 12.30 and the men’s event, with its longer course taking a detour through East Molesey, starting at 14.15.

Finally, the venues for the sailing events are Weymouth and Portland in Dorset, with heats taking place almost constantly between Sunday July 29 and Saturday August 11. Nothe Fort, which is on a peninsular, is the ticketed venue. However, the local coastline should provide many other spectator opportunities for what should prove to be a spectacular display of sail and seamanship.

Of course, the biggest downside of seeking out the best free vantage points at these events is that thousands of others will be hoping to do exactly the same. So success will be down to arriving at the venue early, having checked the weather forecast first to ensure suitable attire. The organisers are recommending that spectators walk or cycle to the venues wherever possible, in order to ease both traffic congestion and the pressure on public transport.

So be prepared, plan your strategy in advance, then settle back and watch the greatest FREE show on Earth.

Thomas Cook Release More Options London 2012 Games Breaks

Thomas Cook Group, Plc, a UK-based travel company, is offering new ticket packages for the London 2012 Olympic Games, with stays at its best value hotels.

The London City breaks, celebrating the 2012 Olympics Games, were launched earlier in June 2012, and the company has added more options to the selection, in order to capture the last minute buyers that are intent on obtaining tickets for the games as part of an accommodation package.

The Games Breaks prices start at £79 for budget conscious travellers, and are currently also available without tickets included, for those travellers that already have tickets but want to acquire a cost-effective accommodation package.

Stephen Vaughan, the managing director of the Thomas Cook London 2012 Partnership, said, ‘These offers will not be around for long and we know they’ll sell out – the Opening Ceremony is two weeks on Friday and attention is well and truly focused on the Games as the British public now get behind Team GB.

This very special offer on some of our remaining Games Breaks is in response to what we know our customers want – the best seats at the game with the most affordable hotels.’

Olympic Athletics Finals Tickets are on offer, with the Athletics 100m Finals Hospitality Breaks available at £2,598, and including Category AA, A or B Olympic Athletics tickets; luxurious Central London accommodation; meals at some of the best London restaurants; breakfast at the hotel; coach travel to and from the Olympic Stadium; and a dedicated Games host to look after guests during the London 2012 experience.

British Airways Announces Complimentary London Hotel Rooms with Flights

British Airways, the UK-based airline company, is offering a complementary two-night stay, on its London flights, as a part of its ‘London for Free’ sale during this summer.

The airline is offering two nights free accommodation in certain London hotels throughout the summer season. The hotels participating in this offer include the DoubleTree London Westminster, and the Rembrandt, as well as the Tavistock, the Royal National, the President and the Astons Apartments in London.

The sale will remain available until July 25, 2012, on booking a roundtrip airfare between any US destination, and London, UK, for travel to be completed by September 30, 2012.

Simon Talling-Smith, the airline executive vice president for the Americas, said, ‘The UK will be host to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and we’re delighted to offer some great deals to last minute travellers who want to explore London during this exciting summer.’

The airline is the official sponsor for Team GB and ParalympicsGB, for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics games, which begin at the end of this month.

The airline has also recently partnered with Accertify, a fraud prevention and risk management service provider, to offer a secure online experience, free from hacking and online fraud, for customers using the Internet to make bookings,

Commenting on the recent partnership, the airline’s business support manager, Asset Protection Group, Andrew Warman, said, ‘With Accertify’s comprehensive, flexible and efficient solution, our customers can continue to book British Airways with confidence giving them the best overall online travel experience.’

Europcar to Utilise Electric Bikes for London Vehicle Deliveries During Olympics

Europcar Groupe SA, a France-based car rental company, will be using electric bikes to facilitate the delivery and collection of its hire cars during the London 2012 Olympics.

The company has renewed its pledge to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions and, at the same time, reduce traffic congestion and speed up its service, by providing its delivery operatives with electric bikes when delivering and collecting cars from customers. The bikes can be folded and put in the boot of a car when not in use. The service has been developed in collaboration with logistics company, AutoClenz.

Ken McCall, the managing director, Europcar UK Group, said, ‘There’s no question that getting around London during July and August will be more challenging. But for some businesses and individuals there’s just no way to avoid using their vehicles rather than public transport. Our goal is to do as much as possible to make these journeys stress-free, without adding to the congestion with our own delivery and collection vehicles.

Working in partnership with AutoClenz, their delivery and collection agents will be able to get around more quickly than if they were on 4 wheels, especially around the more congested areas. This is part of our commitment to delivering the same quality service to our customers during this intensely busy period.’

Transport for London (TfL), a government body looking after transport services in Greater London, has advised tourists and residents of the city of London to use public transport as much as possible, until September, 2012.

The London 2012 Festival, a 12-week celebration for international travellers visiting London for the 2012 Olympics Games, has also urged Olympics fans to use bicycles or electric bikes to reach the Games venues.

British Airways Shows Sports Films to Celebrate 2012 Olympics

UK-based airline, British Airways, the official sponsor for Team GB and ParalympicsGB, has announced film screenings of a number of popular sports films for passengers that fly with the carrier during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The films, which were all nominated by athletes from Great Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic teams, include around 30 titles, such as Coach Carter, a basketball film featuring Samuel L Jackson; Any Given Sunday, by Oliver Stone; Rocky, starring Sylvester Stallone; and the recently released Formula One documentary, Senna.

Team GB rower, Zac Purchase, said, ‘I don’t think you can get better then Al Pacino’s ‘inches’ speech in Any Given Sunday. It’s such a poignant moment, with many true parallels with the way each and every sports person across the world prepares for the performance of their lives.’

Athletes from Team GB and ParalympicsGB have also nominated a range of movies that have sports as diversified as football and Formula One as their background, including Chariots of Fire, Dodgeball, Goal, Bend it like Beckham, Remember the Titans, Million Dollar Baby, Wimbledon, Jerry Maguire, Invincible, Happy Gilmore and Rumble in the Jungle.

British Airways sponsorship manager, Luisa Fernandez, said, ‘We know that customers love catching up on films when they fly, and now they have the opportunity to re-live some of the classic sports films of all time in preparation for the London 2012 Games.’

The airline’s passengers will also be able to enjoy a unique Olympic-inspired menu, created by Michelin star chef, Simon Hulstone, while onboard.

Heathrow Prepares for Record Departures on August 13

Although the 2012 London Olympic games have yet to begin, Heathrow Airport, London’s busiest airport and the route to and from the games that most of the athletes and officials will take, is already gearing up for the Olympic aftermath and the expectation of its busiest departure day on record.

While the influx of Olympic participants is likely to be spread over several days leading up to the event, due to the varying requirements for training and accommodation from team to team, the Olympic closing ceremony on Sunday 12 August will raise the curtain on a mass exodus the following day, mostly through Heathrow Airport.

If the airport handles the expected 138,000 departures that day, it will be an historical record. To cope with this one-off event, Heathrow has spent £20 million on the construction of a temporary terminal to handle the Olympic traffic.

Built on a car park, the facility with its 31 check-in desks and security lanes has bolstered Heathrow management’s confidence that it will be able to effectively speed the 19,850 parting Olympic athletes, while ensuring that regular travellers in the standard terminals progress normally and with little or no evidence that they are helping to set a record.

Despite the special arrangements that have been mad to cope, not just with the numbers of people passing through the airport in that period, but also the massive amount of baggage handling that they will generate, passengers using the airport are advised to arrive at least two hours before their flights, and to avoid traffic jams by taking the Heathrow Express wherever possible.

Hotel Prices Fall More as Olympics Draws Closer

A report by Hotel.com, an online travel company, suggested that average room rates have fallen by 25% in London in the last two weeks, as demand for accommodation fails to materialise.

With less than a month to go for the commencement of the London 2012 Olympics Games, the average cost of a hotel room for the Games period stands at £160, compared to £202 reported two weeks ago. Although the prices are still 75% up on those compared to the same time last year, falling prices are indeed hinting at excess capacity, as more rooms are becoming available every day.

Seamus MacCormaic, the company spokesperson, said, ‘Falling prices are an encouraging move for consumers and there is good availability across London in all classes of hotel.

We are seeing promotional prices start to come through and we do expect this trend to continue. So people should not be put off travelling to London even if they don’t have a ticket. There is still plenty to see and do away from the Olympic Park to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the spirit of the Games.’

The hotel prices have been falling over the last few weeks, which many feel were overpriced for the 2012 Olympics Games in the first place.

Earlier, Alison Couper, the company’s global expert in online travel, said, ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of this celebrated showcase of talent and there are some great deals and good availability to be had, particularly in west London. But falling prices and rising interest mean that the best rooms will be selling fast so don’t run the risk of waiting for bargain rates or you could miss out altogether.’