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THE TIMES
February 2006

RISING STARS

Aspiring high-flyers until recently faced lengthy and complicated training before they could make a coveted solo hang-gliding flight. Now Airways Airsports, together with the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA), has fast-track training courses that take only ten days instead of the usual two years. The courses were started by Judy Leden, a three times world hang-gliding champion. Students are towed by a microlight for tandem flights with an instructor.

Aspiring high-flyers until recently faced lengthy and complicated training before they could make a coveted solo hang-gliding flight. Now Airways Airsports, together with the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA), has fast-track training courses that take only ten days instead of the usual two years. The courses were started by Judy Leden, a three times world hang-gliding champion. Students are towed by a microlight for tandem flights with an instructor.

Bases are at Darley Moor, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire, and at Ontur, 150km (90 miles) from Alicante in Spain, where the weather is likely to be more benign. Ten-day courses, which can also be taken on single days or at weekends, cost ₤1,450, with an extra ₤92 required for membership of BHPA. In Spain accommodation is available in en suite bungalows on the airpark costing ₤17.50pp per night for a shared room.
Airways Airsports (01335 344308, www.airways-airsports.com).

BAY WATCH
The Andaman Islands have recovered from tsunami damage to become the "new Seychelles", but without an influx of luxury hotels, claims Ampersand Travel, which has independent holidays to the remote Indian archipelago in the Bay of Bengal. Coral reefs and marine reserves will appeal to divers, and the islands are also home to ocean-swimming elephants.

A ten-night holiday with six nights in Havelock Island, staying in stone cottages or the more luxurious Andaman Villas, starts at ₤1,753, including flights, a night in Madras and three nights at the Grand Hotel in Calcutta. Ampersand Travel (020-7723 4336, www.ampersandtravel.com).

PILGRIMS' PROGRESS
Upland Escapes, a walking tour operator, focuses on little-known regions of France, Italy, Slovenia and Grand Canaria, with stays in mountain hamlets and programs of escorted or self-guided walks. In Majella, in the heart of the Apennines, holidaymakers live in stone cottages in the shepherds' village of Decontra. Three to seven-night holidays from April 29 to October 30 cost from ₤335 to ₤598pp for B&B, picnics and car hire, but not flights.

Upland Escapes (01367 851111, www.uplandescapes.com).

STAY ON TRACK
Enjoy a blast from the past on Le Petit Train de Pignes, which runs for 160km (100 miles) from Nice to Digne through 50 tunnels, across 16 viaducts and 15 bridges, stopping at provincial mountain villages. On French Travel Service's Provencal Adventures, you break the train journey, staying overnight in medieval gems such as hilltop Entrevaux, St André-les-Alpes and Annot, noted for its strange rock formations. Seven-night B&B tours cost ₤599.

FTS (0870 2414243, www.frenchtravelservice.co.uk).
FIVE-STAR VILLAS
The American concept of luxury, private villas with the services of a hotel is making its European debut in the resorts of St Tropez and Marbella. The Villa Hotel Belle Vue, sleeping ten, two miles from the beach at St Tropez, has a library, home theater system and infinity pool and bar, while the sprawling (14,000sq ft) Villa Hotel El Cid in Marbella has eight bedrooms, indoor and outdoor pools, three whirlpool baths, a cinema and gym. The villas cost ₤11,690 and ₤33,000 respectively for a week.

Villazzo (020-8123- 3375, www.villazzo.com).

For further information:

Corporate Contact
Villazzo, LLC
Christian Jagodzinski
President
christian.jagodzinski@villazzo.com
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