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Manchester: Another Side of EnglandJuly 1, 2010 By: Jena Tesse Fox Travel Agent
Suites at the Radisson Edwardian Manchester have contemporary styling and nice touches such as PlayStation modules, CD players and satellite TV
When a significant number of airlines begin announcing increased service to a destination, attention must be paid. As such, when American Airlines began operating daily flights to Manchester, England, from New York, we took notice. The airline has had flights from Chicago to Manchester for more than 20 years, but demand from New York has grown in recent years, says Ned Raynolds, a spokesman for the airline. “It seems to capture people’s imagination,” he says of Manchester. “It’s an offbeat destination. It’s not London or Paris or Madrid—not that those aren’t fun—but going into the North Country and being able to…explore the Lake Country and go to Chester and get the Roman historic angle is seeing another side of England.”
We spoke with Emma White, marketing manager, Visit Manchester, to see why Manchester has become such a hot spot. The city, she tells us, is a great gateway destination. “Not only can visitors fly nonstop into Manchester and experience the city-region,” she says, “there are some fantastic destinations right at the city’s doorstep, including Liverpool, Chester and the Lake District National Park.” (For the record—and for Beatles fans—Manchester is less than an hour’s drive from Liverpool, and a 90-minute train ride.)
The city, she adds, attracts people for both business and leisure. Business visitors appreciate that the Manchester Central Convention Complex is in the heart of the city rather than on the outskirts, so they can start exploring as soon as they step outside. (For more information about conferences in the city, visit www.manchesterconferences.com.) While business only attracts one segment of travelers, the city is increasingly becoming popular as a leisure destination. “One of the great things about Manchester is that it is very family-friendly, with over 90 museums and galleries within the city-region,” says White. Most of those, she adds, are free to enter. “The whole region offers great value-for-money, and with the good exchange rate at the moment, you really can get more pounds for your dollars.” Within Manchester, the Northern Quarter neighborhood attracts a younger, cooler crowd with its bohemian, creative attitude. “Here, you’ll find independent stores, vintage boutiques, bars and restaurants and even a fashion market on a Saturday afternoon,” says White.
Where to Stay
As in any other modern, urban city, Manchester has its share of great hotels. One popular option is the Radisson Edwardian Manchester. We hear the hotel’s best rooms are the Al Fresco Suites, which have their own entertaining area and urban garden. On the 14th floor are four unique Penthouse Suites, with names of legends: Fitzgerald, Valentino, Bassey and Dylan. Each has its own sitting room and comes with great views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
The spa, we hear, is popular for girlfriend getaways and bachelorette parties. It has treatments for mother-and-daughter bonding and corporate events. The most requested treatment is Total Tranquility, which combines a body massage with either a Renew and Nourish facial or a Lighten and Whiten facial for two hours. Nice touch: For special events, the hotel will offer guests exclusive access to the spa facilities and therapists.
(Note: Weekends get “extremely busy,” so a few weeks’ notice is good.) Spa Manager Melanie Proctor ([email protected], 011-44-161-835-896) is also the most requested therapist.
Head Concierge Gary Roberts ([email protected]) can organize everything from a personal shopper at Selfridges stores to seats in VIP Boxes at Manchester United games.
Agents can contact Director of Sales & Marketing Kevin Healey ([email protected]).
There’s also The Lowry Hotel, a member of the Rocco Forte collection. The most popular rooms are the Riverside Suites and the “Charles Forte Presidential Suite,” which provide private butler service on request. Good news for families: Two of the Riverside Suites have connecting bedrooms, and the Presidential Suite can also be made into a two-bedroom suite. Even better, the hotel is able to guarantee connecting bedrooms at the reservation stage if necessary. All Superior Deluxe bedrooms, Riverside Suites and the Presidential Suite overlook the River Irwell.
The six-room spa is available for buyouts or couples treatments. Mani-pedis are available for the younger set, and we hear the Pro Collagen Facial is a popular treatment for the grownups. Contact Spa Manager Alexandra Wilkinson ([email protected], 011-44-161-827-4000) for special requests.
Head Concierge Russ Green ([email protected], 011-44-0161-827-4000) can reportedly provide almost anything in Manchester—from tickets to a Champions League Game at Manchester United’s stadium to a tour of the collection of Lowry Paintings at Salford Quays. Travel agents can contact Sales Manager Emma Maun ([email protected], 011-44-161-827-8887) for any special request.
Visit Manchester’s White points out that with the large number of hotels within the city-region, “whatever your taste and budget, there is something for everyone.” A few of her recommendations:
Midland Hotel: “This four-star hotel is considered the Grand Ole Lady of Manchester. This Edwardian building again has lots of history, including being the place where Mr. Rolls met Mr. Royce and they started their business partnership.”
Palace Hotel: “This four-star hotel was previously the Refuge Assurance Building. Its distinctive clock tower stands 217 feet tall, so it is a real landmark in the city center.”
Hilton Deansgate Hotel: “This four-star hotel is also known as Beetham Tower. It stands 47 stories high. The hotel occupies the bottom 23 floors, with ‘Cloud 23,’ a skybar situated on the 23rd floor, offering great views across the city-region.”
American Airlines has launched seasonal flights from New York (JFK) to Manchester; the last one for the season leaves JFK on September 29 and returns on September 30. Next year, they plan to start service from JFK on or about May 12. Raynolds said the route was launched to be seasonal, “but [we] will continue to evaluate year-round operations.” Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, recently announced that it would launch direct flights from Manchester to Las Vegas from April 3, 2011.