Marella Cruises offer new Asia programme with direct flights to Langkawi, Malaysia

Marella Cruises has announced the launch of direct flights to Langkawi, Malaysia from Birmingham as part of offering UK holidaymakers a new Asian holiday programme.

TUI Airways is operating flights to the homeport of Langkawi for Enchanting Far East and Eastern Sunsets itineraries, as part of Marella Cruises’ new Asia programme. The cruise-only flight will be operating fortnightly until the end of March 2019.

Managing Director of Marella Cruises, Chris Hackney said: ‘We’re really excited to be launching inaugural flights from the UK to Langkawi in Malaysia. We’re always looking at ways we can offer our customers even more flexibility and choice when it comes to choosing a cruise and the TUI Airways flights mark the next step in our continued effort to give our customers the best holiday experience. As part of our new Asia programme, our itineraries from Langkawi offer customers amazing destinations to some of the most sought out corners of the world, all alongside nothing but the best service onboard our ships with the friendliest staff at sea.’

Tom Screen, Acting Aviation Director at Birmingham Airport, commented: ‘To have the UK’s first ever direct flights to Langkawi operate from Birmingham Airport is just fantastic. Creating varied packages is key to providing our customers with ease of travel. A package like this allows our customers to experience a range of exotic climates and cultures across multiple destinations, all in one trip.

‘To celebrate the momentous occasion, employees from both the Airport and TUI gathered at the departure gates, along with passengers due to board the flight. The atmosphere was great – every seat was filled.

‘The cruise-only flight will be operating fortnightly until the end of March 2019. We hope all passengers enjoy this fantastic cruise experience on its very own exclusive airline.’

Malaysia tops survey of Muslim-friendly tourist destinations

Malaysia has become the top nation for Muslim-friendly tourism services, according to a survey.

The nation has been rated as the world’s top Muslim-friendly holiday destination in a recent survey. Nations including Egypt, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Singapore were runners-up. The survey was conducted by Singapore-based Muslim travel consultancy, Crescentrating. The survey ranked countries on how well they cater to the growing number of Muslim holidaymakers seeking halal, or Islam-compliant, food and services.

The survey covered a variety of criteria, including the level of safety for tourists in a country, the ease of access to halal food and prayer facilities and accommodation that is specially suited to the needs of Muslim guests. On a scale of one to 10, Malaysia came top with a grade of 8.3. The survey covered 50 nations.

Egypt was in second place with a score of 6.7, and it was followed by the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, both of which had scores of 6.6. Saudi Arabia was in fourth place with a score of 6.4 and Singapore was fifth with 6.3.

Commenting on the outcome of the survey, Crescentrating said that it was taken from the point of view of the traveller, not locals.

The company said, ‘Malaysia is one of the few countries where you can find a prayer place in almost every location, be it a shopping mall or the airport.’

The survey’s findings are intended to be useful to tourists looking for Muslim-specific services in a range of nations around the world.


Royal visit set to boost Malaysian tourism

Malaysia could be set for a tourism boom in the wake of the forthcoming visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

William and Kate will be arriving in Malaysia on Thursday, where they will continue their Diamond Jubilee tour of Asia-Pacific countries. They will be arriving in the country from Singapore, where they have already attended a number of official visits and functions, and the Malaysian authorities will be hoping that the royal couple’s arrival will further enhance what is already a popular tourist destination.

In addition to the formal gatherings that they will be attending, their itinerary in Malaysia will include visits to several popular tourist attractions, including the Petronas Twin Towers in the country’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur, and the Danum Valley in Sabah, on the island of Borneo.

The Petronas Towers are Kuala Lumpur’s most iconic image, being built in their distinctive Indo-Chinese pagoda style, and rising to 452m high, with the Skybridge linking the towers at level 42 and 43.

The Danum Valley is a National Park set within the Malaysian half of Borneo. It is mostly rainforest and is home to exotic flora and fauna, including Orang-utan and other primates.

Tourism Malaysia, the Malaysian tourist authority, commented, ‘The people of Malaysia are looking forward to welcoming the Royal couple with open arms and treating them to Malaysia’s renowned friendly hospitality to ensure they thoroughly enjoy their stay and remember their trip for years to come.’

On leaving Malaysia, the royal couple will continue their tour with visits to the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

Malaysian tourism department launches application for smart phones

The Malaysian tourism department has announced that it has launched a smart phone application to help tourists in certain areas of the nation to get around more easily.

Tourism Malaysia, the Malaysian tourism authority, has said that the application, a free smart phone application called Malaysia Amaze-Ya!, will help travellers to reach key destinations in the nation with the maximum of and the minimum hassle.

The department said that the application has been designed to provide travellers with a useful tool for navigating through major cities in the country. Available for both iPhone and android users, it is claimed to offer general information on key destinations in Malaysia. In addition, it will also offer handy tips for the best attractions in Kuala Lumpur, Sabah in Borneo, and Penang.

The tourism department said that the application would be a handy tool for those looking for more serious assistance, as well as those that were exploring for fun. For example, the free downloadable app lists the best places to explore, eat, shop and stay in Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Penang. Those people that prefer to use street maps when visiting places of interest can get detailed Google maps to take them where they want to go.

The application allows travellers to search through available categories or search by keywords for the information they require. In addition, details about the weather are provided, so that travellers can plan their journey in advance.

The Malaysia Amaza- Ya! app is available to download for free at iTunes and Google Play.

DoubleTree by Hilton Announces New Hotel in Malaysia

Doubletree by Hilton Hotels, a brand from the US-based hospitality company, Hilton Worldwide, will be opening a new DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

The 365-room DoubleTree by Hilton, Johor Bahru opens in 2014, and will be the third DoubleTree by Hilton property in Malaysia. The hotel is located within Johor Bahru’s Central Business District.

Andrew Clough, the senior vice president of development for Middle East and Asia Pacific for Hilton Worldwide, said, ‘Hilton Worldwide has been in Malaysia for over 30 years and we remain committed to expanding our footprint in the region with the DoubleTree by Hilton, Johor Bahru as our eighth property in Malaysia. Supported by the strong partnership with Daiman Landmark Hotel Sdn Bhd, we are confident that the hotel will continue to strengthen our leading position in commercial centers in Asia Pacific.’

The 30-story DoubleTree by Hilton, Johor Bahru, will have 350 guest rooms and 15 service apartment units, as well as four restaurants and two bars. The hotel amenities include a business centre, a fitness centre, an outdoor pool, and event spaces, featuring a 400-square metre ballroom and three meeting rooms.

Rob Palleschi, the company global head for DoubleTree by Hilton, said, ‘We are delighted to introduce an increasing number of travellers across the globe to DoubleTree by Hilton’s fast-expanding portfolio of remarkable city centre hotel locations around the world. The DoubleTree by Hilton, Johor Bahru is our third DoubleTree by Hilton-branded property in Malaysia following Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, and will be an exciting new addition to our hospitality offerings across the Asia Pacific region, as we create a rewarding and friendly hotel experience for the DoubleTree by Hilton brand globally.’

Tune Hotels Offers Special School Holiday Rates

Tune Hotels, a Malaysia-based hospitality company, is offering new rates for the school holidays, as part of its School Holidays Promotion.

The hotel company is offering nightly rates of 10,000 Indonesian Rupiah, 100 Thai Baht or 10 Philippines Peso per night at its resorts during the offer period. To avail of the offer, guests need to complete their reservations by May 13, 2012, for stays between May 14, and June 30, 2012.

Participating properties include Tune Hotels in the Malayasian destinations of Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Kota Damansara, Penang, Kulim, Kota Bharu, Danga Bay, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, and Bintulu; Legian in Bali; Hatyai, and Pattaya, in Thailand; and Cebu City, Angeles City, Ermita, and Manila, In Indonesia.

Mark Lankester, the company chief executive officer, said, ‘As travellers become more savvy, they are looking out for more value-for-money holiday experiences and Tune Hotels is able to cater to this need. Our incredible low rates starting from RM1 a night is an incomparable deal to take advantage of especially during the major holidays. Parents and families anywhere still need to take their breaks and we are helping them do that with a fantastic range of hotels across great destinations in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Save more on your accommodation, leaving you more for the rest of your holiday!’

In the UK, Tune owns two hotels located in Westminster and Liverpool Street, in London. The Tune Hotel Paddington is expected to open on June 25, 2012, while the Tune Hotel Kings Cross will open on July 9, 2012.

After Hotels, Now Flights To Go Adults Only, Say British Passengers

In a survey carried out by recently, around 53 percent of British passengers have cited adults-only flights as their first choice in air travel.

The poll, which canvassed the opinions of around 1,666 adults in the UK, has cited loud children as one of the biggest causes of stress in a flight, ahead of poor quality food and lack of legroom. Around 20 percent of those surveyed also cited reclining seats as causes of discomfort when used by neighbouring passengers, and more than half registered their dislike of airlines that do not provide allocated seating.

The issue of child-free flights, though controversial, seems to have struck a chord with the aviation industry. This week Malaysia Airlines has updated its policy for child passengers, banning them from upper deck of its Airbus A380 fleet.

The policy, which came into force recently, means that families travelling with children below the age of 12 years will be limited to a certain segment of the airplane on these flights. The airline is justifying its decision by saying that an overwhelming number of its passengers have complained about the noise created by children during flights.

Tengku Azmil, the airline chief executive officer, commented that many passengers had complained on Twitter that they had paid a premium to fly first class but had been unable to sleep due to crying infants.

The airline does however have a policy that allows for families with children to board first, as they take longer to organise themselves and take their seats inside an aircraft. spins out at Malaysia Grand Prix’s Formula 1 event guide moves to the Malaysia Grand Prix at Kuala Lumpur’s Sepang International Circuit from April 8-10, after the season’s opening race in Melbourne last month.
According to Chief Information Officer, Olivier Dombey, finishing the first race with a fresh face on the podium added extra intrigue to the next couple of races.

“Most Formula 1 fans were not surprised to see Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing finished on top.

“However, I doubt many were expecting Renault’s Vitaly Petrov to enjoy a top three podium finish. He came out of nowhere to post a truly outstanding result in Melbourne, and any future success should not come as a surprise to anyone who follows F1,” Mr. Dombey, added.

Throughout the entire 2011 season, will be updating its Formula 1 event guide on a real-time basis to uncover the inside scoop on the fast changing world of F1. For off-the-grid grand prix tips,’s Malaysia Grand Prix event guide provides Formula 1 fans real insight into the sport, along with any other events taking place over race weekend.

And for more information on what’s on in the Malaysian capital, also have a read through’s Kuala Lumpur: Southeast Asia’s Greenest City travel article. It covers many of the fascinating sights and sounds found in one of Southeast Asia’s most culturally diverse cities. has also created incredible promotional deals for Kuala Lumpur hotels especially for the Malaysia Grand Prix, with rates starting from US$34 per night.

Fans looking to book accommodation in advance for future races should check out the many other promotional deals available exclusively on Special deals for hotels in Shanghai start from only US$21 per night; Istanbul hotels can be had from just EUR 24 per night; while hotels in Barcelona are priced from only EUR 28 per night.


Malaysian Tourists Flock to China, Taiwan

Asia’s tourism giants appear to be on the rebound, but not because of the tourists we’re used to. An impressive twenty-eight percent increase in the amount of Chinese tourists visiting Malaysia has the country’s tourism board ecstatic at its marketing efforts. Malaysia is one of several East Asian states to have invested heavily in tourism advertising over the past five years, particularly in China.

The country is also home to a large domestic Chinese population. While Malaysia remains under the control of its native Malay government, the country’s large Chinese population and consistent culture make it a simple holiday destination for Chinese citizens. With a semi-shared language and similar customs, the Southeast Asian country is becoming more popular with package tourists.

It’s an improvement that’s bilateral – China’s borders have seen an increase in Malaysian visitors over the past year, many of whom visit the giant country to see family and friends. The countries share a great deal of cultural similarities, making the somewhat lengthy journey one that’s steeped with familiar sights and customs. Arrivals between the two countries recently hit one-million.

Malaysia’s increasingly wealthy population is also taking kindly to Taiwan, with direct holidays on the island relatively inexpensive due to low-cost fares and package deals. While businesses fear the relationship between Taipei and Kuala Lumpur could worsen economic development with mainland China, most economists are sceptical that increased tourism could affect Chinese investment.

As the two country’s have both experienced rapid economic growth over the last two decades, the increase in tourism spending could pave the way for further investment and development. China has previously voiced its interest in cooperating with ASEAN countries on tourism and infrastructure projects – a potential multi-billion dollar partnership between the high-growth nations.

Braving Malaysia’s Summer Heat: The Best Peninsula Scuba Spots

Due to the massive growth of low-cost carriers such as AirAsia and Tiger Airways, Malaysia has turned into one of Asia’s most popular travel destinations and a hub for transfers between major continental airlines. While the country’s remote resorts and exotic cities continue to attract those prepared to shop, relax, and treat themselves, it’s the country’s scenery that really sets it apart.

Most visitors to Malaysia turn towards the country’s largest city, Kuala Lumpur, in search of warm relaxation and worthwhile shopping. While the capital is unlikely to disappoint, it’s certainly not the country’s only major attraction or stopping point. Renowned amongst divers, Malaysia’s peninsula beaches and remote bays are considered some of the world’s best SCUBA diving locations.

Just hours from Kuala Lumpur is Tioman Island, one of the country’s most accessible and popular diving areas. The island itself is an eight-kilometre boat ride from the mainland, making its shores and lagoons almost completely uninhabited by other divers during the country’s low season. While advanced divers are unlikely to be thrilled by its wrecks, novices will appreciate its simplicity.

For those planning an extended stay within the country, the Rendand Island archipelago offers some of the most varied and interesting species of coral within Southeast Asia. Formerly a major point of combat between Malaysia’s national forces and the Imperial Japanese Navy, the archipelago is also home to several low-depth wrecks and historic dive sites, each located close to the island’s shore.

The cost of diving at Malaysia’s peninsula islands is continually increasing, although the country is significantly less expensive than similar destinations throughout Europe. Beginner divers will need to budget approximately £250 for basic diving instruction and training, while a budget of at around £100 daily is recommended for more advanced diving locations and wreck exploration.