Alaskan Explorer

Code: AKWHW

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Activity types:

  • High Mountains
  • Rural peace
  • Wildlife

Level

  • Medium
More information

Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £3,895.00 - 14 nights

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Prices are per person

Room 1:
Room 2:
Room 3:

Holiday overview

Trip notes will be available to download early in 2017

  • Pristine wilderness and a plethora of wildlife watching opportunities
  • Experience goldrush fever at Kennicott
  • Powder-blue glaciers, towering peaks, islands and icebergs
  • Walk in the shadows of majestic Denali and discover Denali National Park
  • View Alaska from the air with a spectacular scenic flight included
  • This is the adventure playground of the true pioneer

Holiday Highlights

Let our local knowledge and expertise introduce you to one of the world’s last areas of pristine wilderness. Excellent walking in the national parks of Denali, Wrangell St Elias, and the Kenai fjords gives an insight into Alaska, the adventure playground of the true pioneer. A wealth of wildlife, magnificent Denali, wide open skies and a warm Alaskan welcome make for an unforgettable holiday experience.

Price includes

  • 13 nights' accommodation in comfortable rooms (10 nights are en-suite, 3 nights in Kennicott are with shared bathrooms) (14 nights in 2017)
  • Full Board from breakfast on day 2 to breakfast on departure
  • A full programme of guided walks led by a specialist local leader
  • Sightseeing, entrance fees, travel by minicoach, ferry and scenic flight
  • Tips

Accommodation

 

2017 Accommodation

In Anchorage we spend our first two nights, and our final night, at the Inlet Tower Hotel. The hotel is close to the airport, making it a quick transfer on our arrival and departure days. Rooms are comfortable, en-suite, with tea/coffee making facilities, TVs and hairdryers.

McKinley Creekside Cabins (3 nights), an intimate lodge and restaurant situated on beautiful Carlo Creek beneath the breathtaking mountains of the Alaska Range. The Creekside Cafe has fantastic food, mountain views, and a great atmosphere.

Chena Hot Springs (2 nights) Our two nights here mean we can relax in the hot springs each evening after our walk. There is the option of the hot springs pool or some hot tubs too. The accommodation here is basic, and rooms are simply furnished.


Built in 1987, the Kennicott Lodge (3 nights) is a replica of one of the historic mining buildings from the copper mining boom town days. Located near the center of the ghost town of Kennicott, a company town built circa 1910. The Main Lodge has a 190 foot long front porch with a panoramic view of the Chugach and Wrangell Mountains. Each bedroom is decorated with old mining artifacts and photos, has a cold water sink, one or two beds, a nightstand and chair. All rooms in the Main Lodge have shared facilities.

Located in the centre of town, the Mountain Sky Hotel (1 night) is a short walk to the harbour and other Valdez attractions. This modern hotel has comfortable en-suite rooms, all with TVs and hairdryers. Fresh, local seafood is a specialty in the restaurant.

In Seward we stay at the Breeze Inn (2 nights). This is motel style accommodation, but centrally located by the Resurrection Bay harbour with amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Rooms are clean and comfortable with flat-screen TVs, and a coffee maker. There is a restaurant onsite which is popular with locals and tourists alike, with many Alaskan influenced dishes.


 

On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.

Itinerary

Trip notes will be available to download early in 2017 

A good balance of half and full day walks and sightseeing. Walks are generally between 4 – 9 miles (6.5-15km) with ascents of up to 3,800 feet (1160m). The ascent quoted in any daily itinerary is elevation gain, rather than cumulative ascent. There are some long travelling times between locations, and some travel on unsurfaced roads. These journeys include sightseeing strolls along the way.

 

2017

Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage - arrival in Anchorage (2nts), Alaska’s largest city, where we meet our leader for our short transfer to our accommodation.

Day 2: Anchorage - we travel downtown to see some of the city highlights, and in the afternoon a short transfer to the nearby mountains. There are lots of good walks to choose from, and the walk chosen will depend on the snow coverage, weather and other conditions

Day 3: To Denali - following the shoreline of Cook Inlet, we head to Denali (3nts). Near Palmer and Wasilla, the road begins to climb away from the Pacific coast and into sub-alpine scenery as we venture into the Alaskan interior. Time for a short walk after settling into our accommodation.

Days 4 -5 : Denali National Park- We take a wildlife viewing tour, for an introduction to its wildlife (moose, golden eagles, caribou, grizzly and black bears, Dalls sheep and even the occasional wolf), and hopefully some cloud free views of majestic Denali. We'll also explore this wonderful National Park on foot.

Day 6: To Chena - travelling north brings us to Chena (2nts) for a stroll along the banks of the Chena River and the chance to soak in the hot springs.

Day 7: Angel Rocks & Chena - a day walk to Angel Rocks, with the opportunity to spot beavers.

Day 8: To Wrangell St. Elias National Park – we take a scenic light flight  to McCarthy. We enjoy fantastic aerial views of the volcanoes and massive glaciers of Wrangell St. Ellias National Park, the USA’s largest park, and now a UNESCO site. This is a fabulous opportunity for spotting wildlife. We spend 3 nights in Kennicott.

Days 9 & 10: Wrangell St. Elias National Park - we spend the next two days exploring this beautiful area, visiting the Kennicott mine and the glacier, walking surrounded by pristine wilderness and views of 4,000m peaks.

Day 11: To Valdez - travelling south to Valdez (1 nt), known as Little Switzerland, we take a walk to admire the Worthington Glacier before heading into town.

Days 12-13: Seward & Kenai Fjords National Park- Cruise across stunning Prince William Sound, spot some of the wildlife that makes its home here; orcas, seals, bald eagles. From Whittier, continue to Seward (2 nights) where we'll enjoy an evening walk along the Exit Glacier Trail, or walk through the rain forest to Tonsina Creek. Walks in Kenai Fjords National Park, or the opportunity to join one of the marine wildlife watching tours (payable locally).

Day 14: To Anchorage - Hike along Exit Glacier and visit the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Centre before returning to Anchorage for our final night.

Day 15: Departure day - return flight home.

Day 16: Arrive in UK

 

General Information

Passport
A full passport is required and must be valid for the duration of your stay.

Visas
Under the Visa Waiver Program, British citizens with full right of residence in the UK do not require a visa. Other nationals should check with their nearest United States embassy or consulate for details of entry requirements. From 1 April 2016, passengers entering the US under the VWP will need to have a passport with an integrated chip.

From 21 January 2016 most people who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria since March 2011, or are dual nationals of these countries, will no longer qualify for entry under the VWP and existing ESTAs could be revoked. You will instead need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

Visa Waiver Program travellers entering the United States by air or sea carrier are required to register under the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/.

Health advice
Before booking, you should check with your doctor to see if any health precautions are needed. The following websites provide a wealth of information on travelling and health: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk  www.traveldoctor.co.uk

Recommended vaccines: Tetanus.

Visitors must pay for all medical services. Adequate health insurance is therefore essential.

Climate
Although everyone associates Alaska with ice and snow, the summers are quite warm. Anchorage has a temperate maritime climate. Temperatures in Interior Alaska usually get higher than in Anchorage or in other coastal areas. Fairbanks' average high is 21ºC in June and 22ºC in July.

Money
The local currency in the United States of America is the US Dollar. Credit cards widely accepted. ATMs are widely available across the country. Traveller’s cheques are not advised.

Tipping
Tips are included on this holiday, for key suppliers like the driver/guide, restaurants. Any other tips are at your own discretion. Porterage is not included in the holiday price.

Liability waivers
Companies operating outdoor or adventure activities in the USA now commonly require their clients to sign a liability waiver form before participating in the activity. These forms have been introduced by American insurance companies as a means of offering protection against ‘frivolous’ or ‘opportunistic’ legal claims.

During the course of your holiday you may be asked to complete a liability form with your name, address and signature. This form indicates that by signing it you are waiving your rights to pursue legal action against our agents, in the event of personal injury or loss. However, as all of the activities included in your itinerary are part of a pre-arranged holiday, booked and paid for in the UK, this waiver form has no legal weight whatsoever. Your holiday contract is with HF Holidays and as stated in our Booking Conditions, is therefore governed by UK law.

We must ask you to sign the waiver forms presented to you by our agents, as not doing so could effectively invalidate other key aspects of the insurance cover they hold. But please be reassured that in the unlikely event that you had cause to make a claim for negligence arising from your holiday, your signing of these waiver forms would in no way undermine or alter your legal rights.

Meals
Meal arrangements for breakfasts and dinners in hotels and restaurants will vary. At some you may be able to select from the full menu, at others there may be a restricted choice, or there may be no choice (with the exception of course of previously advised special dietary requirements). These arrangements are dictated by the policy of the particular hotel or restaurant in dealing with groups – some feel that in order to provide efficient service, they need to concentrate on a limited menu. We endeavour where possible to ensure that a good choice is available, but find some venues more flexible than others.

Our choice of places to eat is reviewed for each tour based on the experiences of each group, with the aim of ensuring the optimum arrangements at each stop on the tour.

It is worth noting that portions may well be larger than you are used to – it is generally considered acceptable to share, for example, a pudding or cake. Meals are often not served as hot as in the UK.

Breakfasts at some hotels in America are now becoming large continental buffet affairs where you self-select items and eat them on disposable plates.

Evening meals are normally arranged for between 7pm and 8pm to save rushing the day’s activities and to give you time to refresh beforehand.

Optional Activities
Our Alaskan Explorer holiday is a packed programme but there are also many other activities that you may wish to include in your holiday too. Here’s a list of some of them below, and some approximate prices:

ActivityPrice
70-minute flight-seeing trip to Denali (Mt. McKinley) $375 plus tax
1/2-day guided glacier trek on Root Glacier, in Wrangell-St. Elias NP $75 plus guide gratuity
Full-day guided glacier trek on Root Glacier, in Wrangell-St. Elias NP $105 plus guide gratuity
Full-day introductory ice climbing course on Root Glacier, in Wrangell-St. Elias NP $130 plus guide gratuity
Historic Kennecott Mill Tour $25 plus guide gratuity
6-hour wildlife and glacier-viewing cruise to the face of an active tidewater glacier, in Kenai Fjords NP $149 plus tax
3-hour sea kayaking trip in Resurrection Bay $70 plus tax and guide gratuity
Alaska SeaLife Center $20 plus tax
Bicycle Rental, in Anchorage $15-$40


For flights information please see the Dates and Prices tab.

What to pack

Alaska is a very informal and practical destination. It's not uncommon for locals to wear their hiking clothes for dinner in the evenings, even in cosmopolitan Anchorage people wear outdoor clothes to the theatre. So, please pack lightly - your luggage will be stored on the covered roof rack of the vehicle. This is the usual way of getting around in Alaska, particularly when the nature of the terrain requires a vehicle that can access it.  It will be really appreciated by our local guide if you can take soft sided luggage. 

Suggested kit list

One or two pairs of walking trousers, waterproof overtrousers and jacket, shorts (optional), 3-5 short sleeved 'wicking' shirts, fleece, 2 long sleeve shirts, and one change of clothes to wear in the evening. Please do not take a different outfit for each evening, this is wilderness Alaska, and really, no-one cares.

Packing and what to bring When packing for your Alaska adventure, keep in mind that Alaskans are extremely casual. “Nice clothing” of any kind is completely unnecessary (although lodge-based tour clients may want to bring one additional set of comfortable clothes to wear to restaurants). Your best bet is to wear comfortable, versatile, non-cotton clothing that can be layered. On sunny days, shorts and t-shirts are often sufficient. Many people enjoy the convenience and comfort of convertible, zip-off pants/trousers (zip off the pants legs to convert them to shorts without having to remove your boots). On cooler or wet days and evenings, you may want to layer long underwear, pants and shirt, a warm fleece or wool sweater, and your waterproof outerwear. If you become too warm, simply peel off a layer. 

Having a good rain jacket is very important (goretex or another breathable material recommended). A sun/rain hat is also essential. It’s also nice to have rain pants handy to pull over your regular trousers if it rains (or if the trailside bushes are wet, etc). These allow you to continue hiking or doing whatever else you were doing dry, and in comfort. A bulky ski jacket is not advised (although a compact down vest or an extra fleece jacket is a possible additional layer, especially on Arctic trips, or if you tend to get cold, or if you’re coming in late May, early June or late August). Umbrellas and ponchos are impractical, and are discouraged. 

Cotton and denim clothing is not recommended, although jeans and a t-shirt around  the lodges are fine. "Cotton Kills!" is a melodramatic, but nonetheless accurate Alaskan buzz phrase, as cotton absorbs water and cold (rather than evaporating it), and doesn’t keep you warm when wet, potentially leading to hypothermia. By wicking away perspiration and water, lightweight silk or synthetic first layers (e.g. polypropylene, capilene, nylon, polyester and nylon, etc.), medium-weight fleece or wool tops, and breathable (e.g. goretex or similar) outerwear will keep you warmer, drier, and much more comfortable than damp or soggy cotton.

Your light or medium-weight hiking boots should be well broken-in (if they’re new, start wearing them now), and it would be a good idea to waterproof them (as well as your other outerwear: try Nikwax) before the trip. Thick wool or synthetic hiking socks with or without thin, synthetic sock liners are much, much better than cotton socks, and your feet will thank you. A daypack, metal or nalgene water bottle, sunglasses, sunscreen, and your camera are all essential, and a pair of binoculars will be much appreciated for viewing wildlife and scanning the big Alaskan landscapes. You may also want to bring something to read, and a notebook or journal is often appreciated. If you already have, and are accustomed to using them, bring along your collapsible hiking pole/s, and/or gaiters. Running or other lightweight shoes or sandals are nice to change into at the end of the day.

As space on and in the vehicle is limited, please do not over-pack. A medium-sized suitcase, (preferably soft sided) backpack, or duffle bag will hold everything you need. You won’t need as many clothes as you might think, and most tours offer opportunities to do laundry mid-trip. You do not need any gear not on the packing list. If you will be travelling independently before or after our tour and have additional clothing, gear, gifts, or other items, we strongly suggest packing these extra things in a separate bag, suitcase or cardboard box and checking it at your Anchorage hotel. There is almost always someone with an unnecessarily large bag filled with extra clothes, gear, and other things that they don’t need and never even use. Please don’t let that person be you! Thank you.

LUGGAGE: A single, medium-sized, zippered, top-opening, soft, duffel-style bag with a shoulder strap is your best choice. If you already have one, an internal frame backpack is also ok (but not necessary). Please do not bring a hard suitcase or an oversized bag. A small daypack for walks and for carrying necessities with you inside the van is the only other luggage you’ll need.

CARRY ON BAGGAGE—YOUR HANDY DAY PACK: When travelling to Alaska, you should carry anything that you absolutely cannot afford to do without (or have the airlines lose) in your carry-on daypack with you on the plane. Having your rain gear, hiking boots, hiking clothes, camera, binoculars, eyeglasses, important papers (make copies), medications, and other vitals with you will minimize inconvenience if your baggage is lost or delayed by the airline. If your luggage doesn’t arrive with you, it is the airline’s responsibility to transport it to you, but this sometimes takes longer than seems fathomable. Be prepared!

Leaders

Cheryl Antenucci

Cheryl is our local guide who will be leading all our Alaskan Explorer departures in 2016.

She came to Alaska from what Alaskans refer to as "the Lower 48" nearly twenty years ago, and has called it home ever since, living in various regions of this Great Land. A trained nutritionist, Cheryl is passionate about the health and well being of all Alaskans, and has worked in a variety of social service fields, as well as in tourism, for many years.

Coupled with her passion for a healthy Alaska, Cheryl loves the beauty and scale of the great Alaskan outdoors, and particularly enjoys hiking and exploring with friends and her tireless little terrier. Cheryl has been guiding hiking tours in Alaska for the past three summers. 

Friendly and people loving, Cheryl is a wonderful travel companion and leader! 

 

Reviews

Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
15 Sep 2016, 4:51 p.m.

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Service review:

Paperwork received in good time and responses friendly and timely. BA's service level as a carrier is deteriorating, feedback has been provided directly.

Product review:

A great holiday. Compared with the other walking gradings across the brochure I think the walks are a little harder than rated, there was some scrambling over rocks, loose scree and wet and slippy slopes under foot at times. That said I probably wouldn't have booked if it had been higher and I'm glad I did. The trip is full on with little down time but it's an amazing place and well worth the trip.
24 Aug 2016, 10:54 p.m.

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Would have liked to have received itinerary in electronic form. Service from booking staff was ok but not great

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This holiday was excellent, but to me it was not as described in the brochure. The 'short' walks were 8 miles, and generally the walking was pretty challenging.
The views were spectacular, wildlife fascinating. Only 8 guests in our group, but more than that would have made the minibus provided very cramped. Needed 2 nights in Seward and only 1 in Valdez.
24 Aug 2016, 9:17 p.m.

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We have used HF many times and have always been pleased.
We particularly like it when more than one walks are offered each day.

Product review:

This was hugely enjoyable and well organised. The leader was very competent and personable.
The only thing we thought might need to be considered is that one or two of the walks were too demanding for some of the group, but there was no planned alternative offered. As there was only one leader, this meant that the group members who did not come on the hike, or did not complete it, were left unsupervised. Perhaps the information about these hikes should be fuller in the brochure, and/or there could be video clips on your website, so people know exactly what level of fitness is required. Also perhaps for the more demanding ones, an extra leader could be hired to offer a less demanding alternative.
These comments are meant constructively, and mainly focussed on the safety of the participants.
Otherwise this was an excellent introduction to a remarkable part of the world, and we would certainly recommend it.
23 Aug 2016, 3:44 a.m.

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As I booked via internet and organised my own flights cannot really make a meaningful comment about the company and service.

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Holiday was good, loved Alaska and most of the places visited. Inlet Tower Hotel in Anchorage is a poor choice,and not too clean. Would recommend finding another hotel.
Get up and go guide was OK-ish, really needs a microphone in order to be heard by everybody in the van, and really is not a guide at all as did not supply much local info (but then she was doing absolutely everything - driving, walking, shopping for food, preparing lunches, loading and unloading the van so well done. Also on hikes she would be most of the times well ahead of the group - not paying much attention to slower walkers.
2 Aug 2016, 8:55 p.m.

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Very organised busy but enjoyable.great food.hard but good walks.

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Long day drive after chena.prehaps better to stay in fairbanks and also last night in seward instead of anchorage
12 Jul 2016, 8:48 p.m.

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Always good value for money. Well organised.

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Excellent leader.
12 Jul 2016, 11:22 a.m.

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The trip we did was superb but needed a bit longer, all the arrangements worked very well.

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Great trip which did not disappoint. 2500 miles in 2 weeks with several long walks did mean that we missed visiting several points of interest en route. It really should be 18 - 21 days ideally.
24 Jun 2016, 6:46 a.m.

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Over many years HF have consistently provided us with wonderful holidays.These are based on activity with a social side and a high standard of accommodation/cuisine.

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This was an extremely well organised holiday with a great variety of activity. The leader was excellent and was great fun. She attended to our every need and was so efficient in everything that had to be done. ( this included preparing well planned and balanced picnic lunches appropriate to the location). A holiday to recommend and for us great (and we had lovely weather!!)_
4 Sep 2015, 3:33 p.m.

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Great holiday

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Excellent time lots of great walks and wonderful things to see
4 Sep 2015, 2:24 p.m.

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Always using guides with knowledge of the country and people visited

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The guide used went out of the way to make sure everybody in the group enjoyed their holiday

Read more reviews from feefo

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
2 Jun 2017 AKWHW - Alaskan Explorer
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 2 Jun 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 2 Jun 2017, 10:22 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Anchorage International

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 16 Jun 2017, 1:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 17 Jun 2017, 12:25 p.m.
  • Depart from: Anchorage International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £4,869.00 Book Now
2 Jun 2017 AKWHW - Alaskan Explorer 14 £3,895.00 Book Now
23 Jun 2017 AKWHW - Alaskan Explorer
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 23 Jun 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 23 Jun 2017, 10:22 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Anchorage International

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 7 Jul 2017, 1:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 8 Jul 2017, 12:25 p.m.
  • Depart from: Anchorage International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £5,029.00 Book Now
23 Jun 2017 AKWHW - Alaskan Explorer 14 £3,895.00 Book Now
14 Jul 2017 AKWHW - Alaskan Explorer
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 14 Jul 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 14 Jul 2017, 10:22 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Anchorage International

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 28 Jul 2017, 1:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 29 Jul 2017, 12:25 p.m.
  • Depart from: Anchorage International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £5,029.00 Book Now
14 Jul 2017 AKWHW - Alaskan Explorer 14 £3,895.00 Book Now
4 Aug 2017 AKWHW - Alaskan Explorer
(Travel included)

Flight - Outbound

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 4 Aug 2017, 3:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 4 Aug 2017, 10:22 p.m.
  • Depart from: London Heathrow
  • Arrive at: Anchorage International

Flight - Return

BRITISH AIRWAYS

  • Depart: 18 Aug 2017, 1:25 p.m.
  • Arrive: 19 Aug 2017, 12:25 p.m.
  • Depart from: Anchorage International
  • Arrive at: London Heathrow
14 £4,869.00 Book Now
4 Aug 2017 AKWHW - Alaskan Explorer 14 £3,895.00 Book Now

Prices are per person

Information

  • Single room: £990 
  • Non-member associate fee: (2016) £5 per person; (2017) £10 per person