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Sample some of the world’s best new hotels

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Travellers looking for some relaxation and romance this year may be interested in visiting one of the hotels featured in Conde Nast Traveller’s 2009 Hot List – a run-down of the world’s most exciting new accommodation establishments.

Italy is known for being one of the world’s most romantic destinations and is home to the Borgo Santo Pietro, an eight-bedroom luxury retreat south-east of Siena.

The property boasts facilities including tennis courts, a pool, a gourmet restaurant and a spa within its 12-acre grounds.

Also located in the Tuscany region of Italy is Castiglion del Bosco in the Val d’Orcia, an exclusive resort that for the next few years will be opening up its luxury suites to visitors.

Travellers planning to head further afield may be tempted to sample the splendour on offer at establishments such as Atlantis The Palm in Dubai and the Southern Ocean Lodge in Australia, both of which featured in the 2009 Hot List.

Conde Nast Traveller also published a list recently of what it considers to be the world’s best beaches, which included Bondi Beach in Sydney and Ipanema in Rio de Janeiro.

Relaxation and Romance – Wining and Dining – Dine in some unforgettable settings including the Eiffel Tower and in the shadow of the New York skyline.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19124012-ADNFCR

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Abta: Eurozone will always be dominant

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Eurozone countries such as Spain, France and Italy have risen to such prominence as holiday destinations for Brits that they will always be popular, regardless of the exchange rate, according to Abta – The Travel Association.

The pound has recently fallen to record lows in value against the euro and it has been suggested that this trend could lead to fewer people visiting traditional holiday hotspots in Europe.

Abta spokesman Sean Tipton said that even if visitor numbers do go down in countries such as Spain and Greece, they have become so popular that they will still be the dominant destinations.

"People are still going to be taking holidays in the eurozone because it is so dominant – countries like Spain and Greece have massive numbers of Brits visiting each year," he said.

"Twelve to 13 million UK holidays are taken in Spain each year. It is so dominant [that] even if numbers go down, it will still be number one."

Mr Tipton went on to point out that the USA is the only one of the top five countries for British travellers that is outside the eurozone, with Spain, France, Italy and Greece occupying the other top spots.

Culture and Sightseeing – City Tours – Whichever city you are in these tours will help to ensure you do not miss a thing.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19122216-ADNFCR

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Denmark to boast new theme park

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Denmark could prove a popular destination for family tours this year following the opening of the country’s biggest theme park.

Two of the most popular family amusement parks in Denmark – Legoland and Lalandia – have formed a partnership with the neighbouring Givskud Zoo to create Legoland Billund Resort, which will open on April 24th.

Highlights of the giant park include Lego safari zones, a Pirate Lagoon area and a Lego Miniland, where millions of bricks have been used for reproductions of some of the world’s most famous landmarks.

The Lalandia complex includes a 40,000-square-metre covered activity centre – ensuring that spells of bad weather will not ruin the day for visitors – and the Aquadome tropical waterpark.

Families visiting west Denmark can also head to attractions such as the Danfoss Universe science park, the Orion Planetarium and Koldinghus castle.

The Billund complex is one of four Legoland attractions around the world, along with parks in Gunzburg in Germany, Windsor in the UK and California in the United States.

Family – Theme Parks – Treat the family to a day at one of the Disney resorts or to a splashing day out at a Spanish waterpark.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19122201-ADNFCR

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Check out some MotoGP madness in Barcelona

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Sports fans will be able to incorporate some high-octane entertainment into their Barcelona tours later this year when the MotoGP motorcycling season comes to the Circuit de Catalunya.

The sixth race in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship will be held on the testing track just outside Barcelona on June 14th.

Qatar was the destination for the opening event in the 2009 season last weekend, with Australian rider Casey Stoner taking an early lead prior to races in Japan, Spain, France and Italy before the end of May.

People who make it to the event in Barcelona will be treated to an impressive sporting spectacle as the courageous riders fly around the track at speeds of up to 185mph and attempt daring overtaking manoeuvres.

Other circuits that will feature on the MotoGP World Championship this year include Indianapolis in the US on August 30th and Phillip Island in Australia on October 18th.

Motorsport fans will also be provided with plenty of opportunities for globetrotting by the Formula One season, which will take in such exotic destinations as Monte Carlo, Istanbul, Singapore and Sao Paulo.

Barcelona – Wonderful Gaudi architecture and a cosmopolitan atmosphere have made Barcelona Spain’s most popular city.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19122003-ADNFCR

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New Australia driving tour launched

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Travellers taking Australia tours this year will have the opportunity to take advantage of a new driving route that has been opened in the state of Victoria.

Tourism Victoria announced that the new self-drive tour links the state capital of Melbourne with the Yarra Valley wine region, Mornington peninsula and Phillip Island.

These destinations form a rough triangle in south-east Australia, making them particularly convenient for tours.

There are nearly 100 wineries to visit in the Yarra Valley, including the Australian base of Moet and Chandon, as well as other activities including hot-air balloon rides.

A Mediterranean feel pervades the Mornington peninsula owing to its olive groves, vineyards and waterfront cafes, while Phillip Island is known as a wildlife haven and every evening hosts a penguin parade.

Tourism Victoria recently announced the launch in Melbourne of Australia’s first city tour run by street artists, which introduces visitors to Melbourne’s underground art scene and explores winding lanes and alleyways filled with graffiti.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19120396-ADNFCR

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Depeche Mode to play Rome

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Rome tours will include some musical entertainment for many visitors later this year when the city hosts a gig by British electro rockers Depeche Mode.

To support the release of their new album Sounds of the Universe, the band will be embarking on a tour that will get underway in Luxembourg on May 6th and visit the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on June 16th.

There will be plenty of other destinations on the extensive tour, including London (May 30th), Berlin (June 10th), Paris (June 27th), Seville (July 12th) and New York (August 3rd, 4th).

Sounds of the Universe, Depeche Mode’s first album since 2005′s Playing the Angel, will be released on April 20th.

The band have enjoyed several number one hits around the world during a career spanning almost two decades, including Ultra and Songs of Faith and Devotion, both of which reached the top of the charts in the UK.

Rome’s Stadio Olimpico will also prove a popular venue with tourists on May 27th this year when it hosts the Champions League final.

Rome – Visit some of the ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum or tour the opulent Vatican.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19119787-ADNFCR

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See the collages of Max Ernst in Paris

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People visiting Paris this summer will be able to visit the Musee d’Orsay to see an exhibition of collages by the great modern artist Max Ernst.

The display will be open for people on Paris tours to visit from June 30th to September 13th.

Ernst was born in 1891 and was greatly influenced by the proliferation of unusual and striking images that appeared in books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements and other media from the second half of the 19th century onwards.

Between 1933 and 1936, the artist used a broad selection of illustrations, graphics, book covers and other pieces to create his own book, which had no text and consisted of a section for every day of the week.

The collection of collages will arrive at Paris’ Musee d’Orsay following a tour that has already taken it to Bruhl, Hamburg and Madrid.

Until July 19th this year, visitors to the famous museum will also be able to see a series of exhibitions inspired by the art and architecture of Italy, exploring subjects including Ernest Hebert’s artistic interest in Italian peasants.

Paris – Enjoy the view from the Eiffel Tower or see the Mona Lisa in the "city of light".ADNFCR-1652-ID-19119443-ADNFCR

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Macau to host series of spring events

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Travellers taking Macau tours over the coming months will have plenty to remember their trip by as the destination plays host to a number of unusual events.

One of the highlights will be the Feast of the Drunken Dragon, a tradition based on an old Buddhist tale that will be held on May 2nd.

Local fishermen participate in the festival by performing a ‘drunken dance’ with wooden dragon heads and tails as part of a procession that leads from Senado Square towards Macau’s inner harbour.

The 20th Macau Arts Festival will take place between May 2nd and 30th this year and will feature orchestral concerts, exhibitions, dance shows, Chinese opera and more than 70 performances by artists from Europe and the UK.

Bringing the month of May to a close on the 28th will be the Macau International Dragon Boat Festival, which will see local and foreign teams competing against one another on the Nam Van lake.

Macau is one of the two special administrative regions of China, the other being Hong Kong.

Hong Kong – Part mystical Chinese city, part 21st Century metropolis, Hong Kong combines temples and skyscrapers.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19117144-ADNFCR

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Singapore Botanic Gardens turns 150

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People travelling in south-east Asia this year will be able to visit the Botanic Gardens during Singapore tours as the attraction celebrates its 150th anniversary.

The Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) was founded in 1859 and has developed into one of the city-state’s most popular tourist sites, attracting more than three million visitors every year.

It will open an exhibition dedicated to the evolutionary scientists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace as part of its anniversary celebrations in July, followed by a photographic display exploring the world’s rainforests in December.

Permanent attractions at the Botanic Gardens include a tract of primeval forest, a herbarium, Asia’s largest collection of rare palms and an orchid culture that is thought to be the most comprehensive in the world.

Divya Panickar, a spokesperson for the Singapore Tourism Board, said: "The 150th anniversary of the founding of the SBG is truly a milestone event in the city’s history.

"Like Singapore itself, the SBG keeps evolving to ensure it remains a vital and integral part in the lives of the city’s residents and a highlight on any visitor’s itinerary."

The Singapore Night Safari is another popular natural attraction in the Asian city state, along with the city zoo and the Bukit Timah reserve.

Singapore – Enjoy the wonderful shops or explore Singapore’s colonial history, whatever you do end the day with a Singapore sling at Raffles.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19116800-ADNFCR

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Experience The War of the Worlds on London tours

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Science fiction fans should fit a visit to the O2 Arena into their London tours in June to experience Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.

This stunning stage adaptation of HG Wells’ classic novel will come to the venue in south-east London on June 20th and 21st.

Wayne himself will conduct the Black Smoke Band for the multimedia show, which will also feature a guest appearance by Jennifer Ellison and other performers.

Arguably the highlight of the production is the 35-foot Martian machine that scans the audience with insect-like eyes and fires heat rays into the crowd.

Spectators will also see a hologram of the actor Richard Burton playing the role of the journalist George Herbert projected onto a 100-foot-wide screen.

The live production of The War of the Worlds is setting off on a tour this year that will also include shows in Dublin (June 7th), Glasgow (June 11th) and Holland (June 30th to July 2nd).

Visitors to London will be treated to another otherworldly experience at the O2 Arena from August 5th to 9th when it hosts the Walking With Dinosaurs show.

London – Ride the London Eye, visit the Tower of London or take a day out of the city to see Stonehenge.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19116568-ADNFCR

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