OK, this one isn’t new, it’s 65-years old, but the Hotel Quelle has been given a szhuzsh and it’s certainly something nice to day-dream about on the 7.41 to Paddington this dull November Monday.

The hotel  is located between the Dolomites and the Rieserferner mountain range in Northern Italy. (Innsbruck airport is the nearest, a two-hour drive away.) Outdoor activities here include guided alpine hikes, bike tours, e-bikes and Nordic walking in the warmer months, and cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, snow shoeing and sledding in the winter.

If you do all that you can justify attacking the breakfast buffet with healthy and organic choices including freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices, organic bread, “farmer’s corner” and cooked breakfasts from the kitchen. At lunch, a daily traditional South Tyrolean or Italian menu is served along with a salad buffet and soup. In the evening, a beautifully prepared à-la-carte menu offering up to seven courses.

There are seven pools, an adults-only spa and a separate families’ spa.

If you fancy a stay six nights’ full board are from €840pp when two share a double room.

Quelle at night with pool

Quelle Vital Garden

Infinity pool in summer

Bio Alpina Suite

Die Fotos dürfen ausschließlich für PR- und Marketingmaßnahmen des Hotels Quelle, St. Magdalena, Südtirol, Italien verwendet werden. Jegliche Nutzung Dritter (durch Verkauf oder Weitergabe) ist mit dem Bildautor, Michael Huber | www.huber-fotografie.at, gesondert zu vereinbaren. Copyright aller Aufnahmen: Michael Huber 5730 Mittersill. Klausgasse 16 www.huber-fotografie.at 0664 / 250 86 32

Relax Room

Cross Country skiing

I have been extremely lucky and travelled a fair bit in 2013. So here are my random awards – THE WILLIES – for the year

BEST LONG HAUL AIRLINE: BRITISH AIRWAYS

No airline gets everything right all the time, but I think BA gets it right more often than most, and I don’t agree with those who think it’s fashionable to bash it just because it’s a national symbol. After a dip a few years ago – my goodness some of those crew could be right battle axes – I have had some great flights this year with very friendly staff. And on their re-vamped fleet (A380s, 787s and some 777s – sadly only those) the inflight entertainment is pretty much there with the best in the industry.

BA A380

BA A380

Best short haul airline: easyJet

Again, for me this comes down to crew. I have had several easyJet flights this year where the crew seem to have remembered that flying can be fun and went above and beyond in customer service.

easyJet airbus

easyJet airbus

Surprise hit – long haul: Bermuda

If I had a penny for every time someone said “oh you won’t like it, it’s boring” before I set off for Bermuda, well I’d have around 7 pence by now. But guess what? I loved it. Laid back, great people, awesome beaches. The only major negative points are on cost (not cheap!) and not be able to rent a hire car, although I do understand that the island would be one great big car park if that was allowed.

Sunny Bermuda

Sunny Bermuda

 

Surprise hit – short haul: Italian Dolomites

I was fortunate enough to travel to this part of Italy twice this year – once for skiing and once in summer. It is an incredibly stunning region and I think the Dolomites knock the Alps into a cocked hat. Add in the mix of mouth-watering Italian/Austrian cooking and it is somewhere I would highly recommend whether for skiing, hiking or just eating!

 

IMG_3885

Back-country touring near Cortina d’Ampezzo

 

Surprise hit – mid haul: Marrakech

I went to Marrakech in the 1980s and just remember the hassle so I was somewhat hesitant when I went back in November. I’d heard things were less ‘aggressive’ now and it was true. Maybe it was the 27 degrees while Britain was shivering in Autumn, or evening cocktails on the roof of Riad El Fenn, wandering around the souk or looking in the more modern shops of Gueliz, but this time round it was an altogether much, much more positive experience.

Marrakech

Marrakech

 

Pool of the Year: Espace Henri Chenot, Merano, Italy

I know I have an incredibly tough job (cough cough, splutter, choke) but honestly, sometimes, you can only get free wifi around the pool. Well, that’s what I tell the other half.

Espace Henri Chenot. Merano

Espace Henri Chenot. Merano

 

Breakfast of the year: Caravan, Kings Cross

I do like my breakfasts and for me, Caravan, behind Kings Cross is consistently good and my regular go-to. I hope to discover plenty of new breakfast/brunch places in London next year.

Caravan

Caravan

Gratuitous pic of the year for dreaming of travel on a rainy, winter day in London: Ipanema beach, Rio de Janeiro

This was Ipanema on a Sunday afternoon last February. But are they happy? (!)

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro

Thank you to everyone who has made my travels possible in 2013, not least my long-suffering other half who puts up with 4 weeks’ holiday-days a year while I trot off all over the place, and never once complains.