Sunday, 20 November 2011

Why should I book a Virgin Atlantic fly-drive with Charter Travel?

Many people prefer to self-book their fly-drive to Florida on the internet these days so here’s a few reasons why it makes sense to use Charter Travel’s services

1. Price

It’s all about the price and don’t think we don’t know it! We book thousands of seats with Virgin every year and have done for a long time now. Virgin make all their fares available to us including special fares that do not appear on their own web site. We’re more than happy to beat any price that you can put together yourselves on a like for like basis so call Alex on 01635 885 170. You will find him very negotiable!

2. Simplicity

Ever look at a web site and wonder what you’re letting yourself in for? Looked at the forms to fill in and considered what happens if you make a mistake? Thought about the penalties if you put a name in wrong or book the wrong date? The old fashioned way might be the easy way! A quick phone call and it’s our responsibility to guide you through the process and produce all the paperwork. You’re reading about us on-line but we’re an old fashioned travel agent. Give us your instructions and we’ll get on with it while you put your feet up!

3. You can’t know what we know!

When to book? Early or late? Will the fares go up or down? Are the planes empty or full? We spend our lives looking at Florida flight schedules and we know the right moment to book any date in the year. In this respect our advice is invaluable. A one day date change could save a family of four £1000 or more and the seasons change slightly every year. We know about these changes 18 months in advance so give us a call and pick our brains!

4. Ah but there’s a catch on the car hire – I’ve heard the horror stories!

Not with us there isn’t! Our car hire contract is very simple – you’re fully insured for 2 adult drivers and there are no insurances or CDWs to pay on pick-up. You hand in your voucher and off you go! We know that some other tour operators sell you ‘basic’ car hire at time of booking and stick you with a bill for insurance at Orlando. We simply never do this.

5. You can book with a small deposit

Book the flights and the car hire separately and you’ll nearly always have to pay both items in full. You might not be traveling for a year so you’re making someone a nice interest free loan. Save your money! You can book your Virgin fly-drive through Charter Travel with a deposit as low as £50 each.

6. We are bonded and your money is safe

Charter Travel have been established for 23 years and we are ABTA and ATOL bonded. That’s valuable in these uncertain times.

Ok we’ve said enough. Put us to the test by calling 01635 885 177 or have a look at

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Top 10 Car Hire in Florida Questions

Hiring a car in Florida with is simple but there are 10 things you need to know to give you peace of mind. We get a lot of questions about car hire at Orlando and here we would like to answer some of your concerns.

1. Are there any extra charges for insurance or Collision Damage Waiver to pay? The answer is no! We have an inclusive deal with our suppliers and you pay all charges up front when booking your holiday. We know that some tour operators sell you ‘basic car hire’ here in the UK and then leave you with a big bill for insurance when you pick up the car in Florida. Surprisingly it’s the big, well known holiday companies that still do this and we don’t know how they get away with it! Their motivation is very simple – they can advertise very cheap ‘fly-drive’ packages and therefore receive lots of enquiries. Don’t be fooled!

2. What is the difference between ‘gold’,‘silver’, ‘platinum’ etc insurance? There are two types of car hire you can choose with us – different websites use different terms but we’ll call ours silver and gold.

SILVER - you are fully insured for two adult drivers. Adult drivers need to be 25 years old and to have held a driver’s licence for a year. You pick up the vehicle with a full tank of fuel and bring it back empty or as near as you can manage. You pay Alamo (our supplier) for the tank of fuel on pick-up at the airport. The charge for the first tank of fuel varies according to the size of the vehicle and to current fuel prices but I can give you a good example – I picked up an Intermediate 4 Door at Orlando in March this year and I was charged $45. I filled it up a couple of times during my visit from a quarter tank and paid about $35 so the charge seemed fair.
GOLD – you are fully insured for four adult drivers. You pick up the vehicle with a full tank and take it back empty. You pay nothing to Alamo for the fuel – instead we charge you a higher rate here in the UK. Is gold worth buying? Only if you need the four drivers. A lot of people believe that GOLD gives superior insurance cover but this is not so. You are fully insured on both deals and the insurance is identical.

3. What size of vehicle do I need? You have to be a little careful here. One thing’s guaranteed – you are going to have a few suitcases and bags to deal with so you need a bit of space. Another consideration is the type of driving you’ll be doing. Car hire is cheap in the US so in my opinion there’s no need to bother with the two smaller models which are economy and compact. Go straight to Intermediate if you are a party of 2 or 3.. If you’re a party of 4 adults don’t bother with Intermediate – go straight to Full-size or a Mid-Size SUV. If you’re a party of 5 then a 7 Seat Minivan or a Standard SUV is a good option. Larger parties have the 7 seat SUV, the 8 Seat Minivan or the 12/15 Seat Minivan to choose from but don’t forget that 2 Full-Size cars will work out cheaper than the 12/15 Seat Minivan and you’ll have more freedom while on holiday. The bottom line is that there’s no need to try and economise by choosing the smallest cars – the saving is tiny and you’ll be uncomfortable.

4. What’s the procedure at Orlando International and what about the deposit? Don’t worry – it’s not difficult. As soon as you hit ‘Arrivals’ you’ll see the car hire desks in front of you. The bigger companies such as Dollar, Alamo and Budget have quite a few desks and they know when the Brits are coming – unless you’re unlucky they’ll be well manned. You simply hand in your voucher along with your driving license and a credit card (must be a major card such as Visa or MasterCard). Usually your contract will be printed out within 10 minutes and you’ll be done. The credit card is authorised for a few hundred dollars against deliberate damage, traffic fines or missed tolls etc. We’re often asked if a cash deposit can be made. The answer’s yes but you won’t find the process convenient. For starters you will needs to leave $300 per week. That means if you’re on holiday for a fortnight it’s $600, 3 weeks $900 and so on. When you bring the car back the cash is not returned to you – instead you are given a dollar cheque. You’ll need to deposit the cheque with your bank on return to the UK and who knows what they’ll charge you to clear it or how long it will take. We’re also asked if the deposit can be made with a debit card. Again the answer’s yes but your debit card must be Visa or MasterCard – Solo, Maestro, Electron etc are no good. In addition this is only an option at Orlando International – not at Florida’s many other airports. Once your contract is printed you walk along to the garages – less than a hundred yards. Here you’ll find lines of cars organised in size category and all with the keys in and ready to go. Each size is likely to have several different models. Choose your favourite and off you go! Lots of potential here for arguing between yourselves over which is the best model but obviously Mum knows best!

5. I want a particular model – can this be guaranteed? The answer is 'No' unfortunately. Cars are graded by size. You’ll be amazed though if you ring round a few travel agencies – some of them will ‘guarantee’ a particular model. All nonsense I’m afraid! Don’t worry about the quality of the cars – they are pretty much all late model and the specs are good. All are air conditioned and have Radio/CD so take a few CDs with you if you want. If you forget it doesn’t matter – the US radio stations are excellent and there are loads to choose from. Bruce Springsteen guaranteed!

6. What about all the horror stories I’ve heard about extra charges? All the car hire companies will try to sell you some ‘extras’ and in the US they know how to sell! You’ll often be asked if you want an add-on and truth be told it’s possible that the staff will imply that some of them are necessary. Favourites include roadside assistance and personal injury protection. Suffice to say that you already have everything that’s required by US law to drive so think carefully before you sign for extra charges. Once you’ve signed it will be difficult or impossible to recover them so please be careful

7. Can younger people drive? Yes they can and we can arrange the ‘young driver’s package’ for you. This allows one driver aged between 21 and 24 per vehicle and gives a further 3 adult drivers on the same vehicle plus a tank of petrol. If you’re going for a week the supplement will be about £70 although this can vary

8. I’m picking up and dropping off at different airports – any problems or charges? No problem at all if both the airports are within Florida – say Miami and Orlando or Tampa and Fort Lauderdale. The car hire companies make no charges. If however the 2 airports are in different states you will need to pay a ‘one way drop-off fee’. These fees are on a sliding scale according to mileage and start at about $100 – they rise to about $500 if the journey is coast to coast although this circumstance would be unusual.

9. I’ve got children – what are the rules about baby seats? Nothing different here to the UK – the rules are identical. You have 2 choices on baby seats – you can either take your own at no cost (the airlines are very accommodating) or you can rent them locally from the car hire company at a cost of about £5 per day. I know what I would do!

10. I need a Sat-Nav Good idea – you’ll spend your holiday enjoying yourself rather than lost! There are 3 choices………….take your own with you having downloaded US maps from their website (not difficult to do and costs about £10)………….pay a fee to the car rental company who will supply you with a machine (about £35 per week)…………..or buy a US Sat-Nav locally if you’re a regular visitor. Radio Shack is a good shop to visit and you’ll find one in every mall.

Car hire in Florida is simple, but you need to be careful that you understand the full ramifications of your hire and that you not only get the best price but you also get the best advice. Feel free to contact me at and if you need a competitive car hire quote give me a call on 01635 885 170.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Virgin Atlantic Flight Prices

It is always best to book well in advance when planning your holiday in Florida. We keep saying that, and we can't stress enough how it can make such a difference to the price of your Florida holiday and whether or not the flight seats are still available. Virgin Atlantic offers non-stop flights from the UK to Orlando, departing from Gatwick or Manchester. The on-board service is good, the flight times are good, and the prices are fantastic. Virgin have announced flight seat pricing for 2012 that makes booking now just too good to be true. Check out our offers on our website and call our Florida experts on 01635 885 177.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Legoland Opens Soon

The first new theme park in central Florida is due to open very soon. In fact, this saturday sees the grand opening of Legoland Florida with building block figures from Einstein to Elvis inside the Winter Haven park.

Amongst the key attractions are :-

The Dragon : The high-profile coaster that emerges from the theme park's castle. Before speeding off, riders glide by Lego models of a royal court and a big, red, steamed beast.

Ford Driving School : Sets little drivers loose on the road.

Boating School : A companion attraction on a waterway.

Miniland USA : A re-creation of American landmarks, including the Daytona International Speedway and Kennedy Space Center. The pirate section is the first one to be in any Legoland theme park.

Aquazone Wave Runners : Combines simple navigation with water cannons and G forces for an attraction that can soak riders.

Lost Kingdom Adventure : Hones the point-and-shoot skills through an Egyptian-themed dark ride that's also a competition.

Imagination Zone : Fronted by a way-oversized Lego bust of Albert Einstein. Inside are "Build & Test" activities, including an earthquake simulator for guests' Lego creations.

Pirates' Cove : Home to a water-ski show featuring Lego characters on the banks of Lake Eloise.

Lego Technic Test Track : A roller coaster that has a steep drop and curves plus a good overall view of the theme park.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

On May 31st 2012, Disney's newest hotel is set to open........Disney's Art of Animation Resort. It has already started taking reservations and we are already booking people in for their holidays in Florida in Summer 2012.

The first of the hotel's four phases to open is a Finding Nemo-themed wing of family suites, including a pool that will be the largest swimming pool at any Disney World Resort........and no it occupies roughly 12,000 square feet.

Next is the Cars-themed suites at the end of July. Then there are Lion King-themed suites at the end of September and lastly a wing of Little mermaid-themed, conventional hotel rooms by the end of 2012.

In total, this brand new Florida resort will feature 1120 family suites and 864 standard rooms. As a bonus for holiday makers, this resort is classed as a value hotel and thereby the cheapest of Disney's three hotel categories.

If you need a quote to include a stay at this brand new resort in Florida, please call us and our Florida specialists will be able to help you tailor make your Florida Holiday.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Easter Holidays in Florida

The first three weeks of April really are high season in Florida and the weather is the best of the year. No doubt about it you’ll find Disney and Universal at their busiest especially on Mardi Gras nights. The Gulf Coast is at its finest – Fort Myers, Sarasota, Clearwater or St. Pete’s - beach life is outstanding in April.

You might struggle to find good value flights in this season which is where we can help – every year we put seats to one side for the peak dates so where others struggle we can still give you a great Easter Florida 2012 holiday .

It’s not too early to think about your Easter Florida 2013 flights, fly-drive or holiday either – far from it. Call us on 01635 885 177 and beat the season. The sooner you call the lower the fares!

As the month goes on so the prices come down – fabulous bargains available towards the middle and end of April and we can make up any package that you need.

You really do need some expert advice to get the best out of Easter holidays to Florida so call or enquire now.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Twin Centre New York and Orlando

Visiting the USA on a twin centre holiday, taking in the delights of New York City before spending a relaxing week in Orlando, is a perfect way to mix and match the very best that America has to offer.

Fly from London with United Airlines, spend 2 nights in a 3 star rated hotel in central New York and then spend 7 nights in a 3 star rated hotel in Orlando. All of this for just an amazing £499 pp. You can increase the durations in New York or Orlando for just a small additional charge.

This twin centre offer is available for departures between 1st January 2012 and 20th March 2012 and is subject to availability.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

January Deal of the Month

January is a fantastic month to Holiday in Florida. Disney and Universal are at their very quietest and you will have a job finding a queue even for Harry Potter. And that's not all, flight prices are at rock bottom. Just have a look at our January 2012 Deal of the Month.

For Florida connoisseurs the Honeybell Oranges are in season. Buy them at the side of the road along with grapefruit and avocado. The further South you go the warmer it gets so now is the time to go a little further afield, Miami for a city break or fabulous Fort Myers for Sanibel's shell covered beaches, dolphins and manatees.

Our villa owners in Orlando are in their slow season so expect some great rates at the top communities including Windsor Hills, Emerald Island, Watersong, Indian Creek and Highgrove. Call us now on 01635 885 177 and our Florida experts will put together your fabulous January holiday.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Bag a Bargain on Delta Airlines

Great deals available on summer 2012 fares from UK to USA including flights to Florida. These sorts of opportunities to bag a bargain don't come around too often but at the moment we can book flights departing in May or June 2012 for £399 pp inclusive of all taxes and for £599 pp departing in July and August 2012 inclusive of all taxes.

Call us NOW for more details and to check availability.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

New Four Seasons Resort in Orlando

A brand new 444 room luxury resort from the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts chain has been announced and will open in 2014. Situated in Walt Disney World in Orlando, it is set to be the largest resort in the Four Seasons range in the world.

It is set to include a range of accommodations for your holiday in Orlando, Florida. There will be 40 Four Seasons Residence Club units and as many as 90 Four Seasons Private Residences. With a range of rooftop dining options and spectacular views of Magic Kingdom, this resort is bound to be a popular destination for travellers to Florida.

For spa lovers, the 18 treatment rooms, fitness centre, multiple swimming pools and sports facilities will be the resort's key features and for golf enthusiasts, the Tom Fazio designed 18-hole championship golf course will be renovated and managed by Four Seasons.

For more information and to discuss your holidays in Florida requirements, call our Florida experts on 01635 885 177.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Virgin Atlantic Flights Still On Sale

Don't delay! Don't wait! If you lose. There are flight offers on Virgin Atlantic trans atlantic routes for 2012. Whether you want to go in January, February or March, over Easter or in the Summer, we have some superb prices on flight only and we can also tailor you trip to include a villa or hotel, car hire and attraction tickets. We are tailormade Florida specialists and we won't be beaten on price. Call us on 01635 885 177 or send us your enquiry details and we will quote you in double quick time.

Vista Cay Resort on IDrive

Vista Cay Resort is a fantastic self catering resort located in the International Drive area, just a few minutes from Seaworld and Universal and only 10 minutes from Disney. This elegant, Tuscan style gated vacation resort spans a huge 1500 acres and offers an unrivaled choice of quality accommodation options combined with excellent onsite leisure amenities. We have availaibility and prices to match all of your expectations including some superb Easter 2012 offers from £859pp.

At Vista Cay Resort we have available a stunning selection of 2 and 3 Bedroom Condos and Townhomes in a series of four storey towers. Each Vista Cay building has its own stylish private entrance and interior corridors and elevators, the general standard throughout the whole Vista Cay Resort is exceptional and a considerable step up in quality compared to similar resorts.