Travel Agent is in London at the moment, where royal baby fever is in full swing. From cab drivers to pub patrons, the imminent new addition to Prince William and Duchess Kate’s family is the talk of the town.
“The monarchy has really been reinvigorated with this new generation. All the interest in them is good for business,” Anja Tremble, front desk manager of London’s Radisson Blu Edwardian, tells Travel Agent.
Tour operators no doubt agree. Many are seizing upon the increased interest on the UK to showcase tours designed for every interest.
Collette, for example, is shining a “Spotlight on London” with a seven-night itinerary that mixes guided travel with leisure time for attractions such as the London Eye and The View from The Shard.
Their “Gardens of London” tour provides special access to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, held each May. It also takes in Hampton Court, Windsor Castle and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kew Gardens.
For those interested in venturing beyond London, Collette’s “British Landscapes” itinerary showcases the 800-year-old university town of Cambridge, medieval York, the Bard’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon and the bucolic Cotswolds.
Long known for its rolling green pastures, quaint countryside roads, stone cottages and tiny villages, the Cotswolds region is enjoying a resurgence, thanks to the hit series “Downton Abbey.” A number of locations, particularly in the town of Bampton, are used in the series’ exterior shots.
For family tours, Collette itineraries visit key historical sites such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square. But a behind-the-scenes tour of the Warner Bros. Studio and the Harry Potter set is the marquee event for the younger crowd.
"Our itineraries incorporate all the must-sees across the pond,” Dan Sullivan, Jr., president and CEO of Collette, tells Travel Agent.
At Insight Vacations, “must-sees” include the unexpected, such as a winery visit on a Southern England and Channel Islands itinerary.
On the Channel Island of Guernsey, Insight’s guests stay at The Old Government House, an historic luxury boutique property. During World War II, the structure served as General Staff Headquarters for occupying German forces.
“It’s so important to offer new activities and noteworthy accommodations. These days, people are looking for unique itineraries, especially if they’ve been to a destination before. England is one of those places people tend to come back to,” said Janet L. Anderson, Insight Vacation’s director of national accounts for the west.
Even visitors who’ve made multiple trips to the UK remain intrigued by its history and heritage. Its castles, architecture, epic battles, kings and queens are the stuff of legend.
“Britain is a perennial favorite. I think it’s because so much about it calls to mind our own roots as a country. We have a common bond with them, which makes it especially appealing as a destination,” Richard Harris, senior vice president of product content and operations for Abercrombie & Kent, tells Travel Agent.
Few examples of that common bond are as profound as the Magna Carta. The historic charter signed by King John inspired the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year marks the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary.
Along with assorted festivals and other special events, a Magna Carta Trails program highlights ten cities tied to the charter and its legacy. Visitors can also view the best-preserved of the remaining four original Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral, about two hours west of London. Or if they’re visiting in the next week or so, they can catch a glimpse of a future king or two outside a central London maternity hospital.