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Escape Dublin For A Weekend Trip To Kilkea Castle



Once upon a time, or, more accurately, about six years ago, American real estate developers, Jay and Christy Cashman, did something most Americans only dream of: They bought a castle. A real, medieval castle, in County Kildare, Ireland, just over an hour’s drive from Dublin’s city center. 35 million dollars worth of renovations later, the castle, which dates back to 1180, reopened as a luxury lodge and golf resort, with over 180-acres of recreational space surrounding the ancient stone building. A new spa, wellness center and pool, as well as new chef are all expected in the near future, but the castle, which has nightly rates competitive with four and five star hotels in Dublin City, is easy to access from Ireland’s capital, and full of diversions for a short excursion outside of  the city.

Getting there:

The Kilkea van is available for pre-booked pickups. The chauffeured ride costs €90 one way or €180 per trip to Dublin, either the city or the airport. Parking is also available on-site for independent drivers.

A guest bedroom in Kilkea Castle

Kilkea Castle

What to do: 


The castle itself houses three restaurants, including 1180 a fine dining-style restaurant with a prix-fixe dinner and full Irish breakfast, as well as a pub, The Keep. Those interested in getting off-site can head a mile down the drive to the century’s-old Mooney Pub, which has hosted a slew of celebrities in recent times.

On site, guests can cozy up near the fire in the grand salon, and in better weather, play a match on the tennis courts, practice archery, go fishing, skeet shooting, horseback riding and of course, golf. In warmer weather, guests can take advantage of the current in the river winding around the castle for tubing or schedule a boat tour on the nearby waterways.

The Keep at Kilkea Castle

Kilkea Castle

Spending a weekend relaxing on the castle grounds may be sufficient for travelers eager for a respite from the city (the castle is also WiFi and cable equipped…), though plenty of attractions are also within a short drive of Kilkea. Nearby, Walsh Whiskey Distillery offers behind-the-scenes distillery tours and tastings of their signature products, Writers’ Tears and The Irishman; and The Irish National Stud allows visitors to engage in immersive equestrian experiences as well as walk through the adjoining Japanese gardens. Those interested in history can also visit nearby Castletown House, a restored Palladian property dating back to the 1720s, and Burtown House and Gardens, a villa also dating back to the early 1700s (and was passed down through the family’s female lineage), which now has a barn cafe with a locally sourced menu on-site.

For Americans abroad, staying in a castle comes with a novelty that’s certainly indulged by Kilkea’s history, and with the new renovation and modern amenities (an elevator! heat!) , the property is comfortable and easily accessible to Medieval castle newbies.

Kilkea Castle Rooms start at €291 per night in the early to midweek and €323 per night on the weekend. The adjacent Kilkea Carriage Rooms start at €154 per night for early and mid-week and €191 per night on the weekend. Specials, including a 25% discount through March 2019, are often posted online


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NCAA Warns Airlines Operating Without Adequate Insurance.



The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has urged airlines and other service providers in the subsector to comply with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARs) 2022 on insurance cover.

This was disclosed by NCAA Director-General, Mr Musa Nuhu, in a directive contained in an all operators letter, referenced NCAA/DG/AIR/11/16/369 signed August 11, 2023, was addressed to all airlines and allied aviation service providers.

According to the NCAA DG, the need for compliance is a sequel to the coming into force of Nig. CARs 2022 on 10th July, 2023 which makes it mandatory for all airlines to comply with Part of the regulations.

“Specifically, Part of the regulations provides, amongst others, that all airlines and other allied aviation service providers must not operate without adequate and valid insurance cover, submitting to the authority copies of valid insurance certificates.


“They must also provide evidence of payment of premium and other policy documents of insurance cover of not less than three months as specified in IS:

“Having insurance document which must be adequate and renewed before the expiration of the current policy and be submitted to the NCAA as soon as it is renewed,“ Mr Nuhu stated in the statement.

He said non-adherence to the regulation would attract immediate sanctions, including the grounding of the specific aircraft, and taking enforcement action against any airline or service provider that defaulted.

Since the Warsaw Convention of 1929, aviation insurance has been made mandatory for global operators to provide coverage for hull losses, as well as liability for passenger injuries and environmental and third-party damage caused by aircraft accidents.

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The NCAA Act of 2006, 74 (1) provides that “any carrier operating air transport services to, from or within Nigeria, or aerodrome operator, aviation fuel supplier, or any provider of ground handling services, meteorological services, air traffic control services, aircraft maintenance services, or provider of such other class of allied service as the Authority may, from time to time, determine in writing shall maintain adequate insurance covering its liability under this Act, and also its liability towards compensation for damages that may be sustained by third parties for an amount to be specified in regulations made by the Authority.”


Unlike other sectors, aviation is high-end, with special risk and attendant high premiums. However, Nigerian aircraft have a higher premium. For instance, the insurance premium on an average aircraft is put between one to two per cent of the entire value in Europe and North America. For aircraft flown in the “high-risk” African region, the insurance goes for between three and five per cent of the entire value.

Across a total of 98 commercial aircraft in the country, the average total insurance premium on aircraft alone is N5.88 billion yearly. To insure passengers require an additional N5 billion minimum.

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Here’s what it might be like to travel on a double decker airplane seat



Hamburg (CNN) — Flying economy for any extended period of time is an experience usually endured rather than enjoyed, but one airplane seat designer reckons his design could revolutionize budget travel.
Alejandro Núñez Vicente’s Chaise Longue Airplane Seat concept started small scale last year, as a college project for the then 21-year-old. A nomination in the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards — a top prize in the aviation industry — swiftly followed, and the design became the focus of a flurry of online attention following a CNN Travel article.
Since then, Núñez Vicente’s been making waves in the world of aviation. He’s paused his master’s degree to pursue the project full time. He’s in talks with big-name airlines and seat manufacturing companies. He’s been granted some hefty investment that’s allowed the project to develop.
But while some marvel at Núñez Vicente’s innovation, others recoil, concerned about claustrophobia and convinced sitting underneath someone else would be worse, not better, than the current airplane economy set-up.
“I grow more from listening to the critics and listening to the bad comments, than from listening to the good comments and the flowers that they throw me,” says Núñez Vicente, speaking to CNN Travel in Hamburg, Germany, where he’s showcasing his design at the 2022 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX).
His design is for the everyday traveler, so Núñez Vicente says he’s keen to hear what would-be fliers have to say, positive or negative.
“My purpose here is to change the economy class seats for the better of humanity, or for all the people that cannot afford to pay for more expensive tickets,” he says.
Núñez Vicente is set to receive even more feedback this week. AIX is one of the world’s biggest aviation shows, and he’s premiering the first full-scale prototype of his design.
CNN Travel stopped by to get a taste of what it might be like to fly on a double decker airplane seat.

Testing out the concept

The Chaise Longue Airplane Seat on display at AIX 2022 Hamburg.

The Chaise Longue Airplane Seat on display at AIX 2022 Hamburg. Francesca Street/CNN

First up, the top level. Núñez Vicente’s designed the prototype with two ladder-like steps for travelers to use to access the top level. It’s a little precarious, but once I’m up there, the seat feels roomy and comfortable, and there’s plenty of room for stretching out my legs. The prototype seats don’t move, but they’re each set up in a different positions to indicate how they could recline.
Núñez Vicente’s design does away with the overhead cabin. Instead, he’s designed space in between the top and bottom levels for travelers to stow cabin luggage.
In the vast, echoing halls of the Hamburg Messe conference center, it’s hard to imagine what it would actually be like to be that close to the cabin ceiling. Núñez Vicente reckons there would be about 1.5 meters separating the seated passenger from the top of the plane. He argues that while a traveler couldn’t stand upright in that space, many already can’t stand upright in regular economy rows — although, presumably, these taller travelers will be even more squished by this design.
Next up, trying the bottom row of seats. Núñez Vicente’s frustration with a lack of legroom was the original impetus for the design, and by not having a seat on the same level in front of me, it does allow me to stretch out my legs, and there’s a foot rest for added comfort.
Still, because the other level of seats are directly above me and in my eyeline, it feels pretty claustrophobic. But if you don’t mind tight spaces, and you’re planning simply to sleep all flight, it could be an effective solution.

Next steps

The cocoon-like spaces have a foot stall for passengers to stretch out their legs.

The cocoon-like spaces have a foot stall for passengers to stretch out their legs. Francesca Street/CNN

The Chaise Longue seat was initially envisaged for the Flying-V airplane, a new airplane concept currently in development at Delft University of Technology, Núñez Vicente’s alma mater.
Now, he reckons the design could be implemented in a Boeing 747, Airbus A330 or any other medium to large wide-body airplane.
Núñez Vicente is ambitious and confident his design could become a reality, but he also acknowledges that unusual airplane seat ideas don’t often make it from concept to reality. It’s a lengthy process, and the industry’s stringent rules and regulations can become roadblocks.
Plus, the airplane economy seat hasn’t really changed in decades, even if there have been many reimagined concepts floated by designers.
“One of the phrases I get a lot, is ‘If it’s not broken, why change it?'” admits Núñez Vicente. “So if passengers still fly in the worst economy class seats, why are we going to give them a better option? It makes money. That’s the goal of the airline at the end of the day, not to make your flight better.”
Still, the seat designer is already working on the next step in his process, to engineer the structure to be lighter than its current iteration.
He hopes to partner with an airline or a seat manufacturer to make that happen.
“Right now, we’re showing the market what we have. And we’re letting the market come and tell us what we need to do next,” he says.
Núñez Vicente might now be collaborating with industry experts with years of experience, but the project began in his bedroom in his parents’ house, and his family remain a big part of the process.
He’s at AIX with his parents in tow — they drove the Chaise Longue prototype in a van across Europe and helped him set up the seat in situ.
“Of course, at the beginning, no one expected this to get this big to the point where we are today. But they all knew that I was going to be able to do something,” says Núñez Vicente.
“If you asked me before, I would have said maybe it’s just a university project. If you asked me now, after all the hard [work], after all the effort of many, many people — I would say that now this is more of a reality. We see it as the future of the economy class.”

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Travel/Tourism How Ekiti State Repositioned with NAFEST 2021



The year 2021 edition of National Festival of Arts & Culture (NAFEST 2021) may have come and gone, yet the memory of the one-week event will forever linger in the annals of National Cultural Festivals and amongst competitors and participants from the 36 states of the federation.

When Ekiti state signified intention to host this event two years ago after the Jos, Plateau state hosting, not quite a few people in the arts and culture community thought the hosting right request by Ekiti state was a tall order and a pipe dream.

First, many people had considered the ambition of the 25 year old agrarian state a mere ego trip in view of the state’s ranking on the Federal Government’s monthly revenue allocation and resources distribution index.

To cynics, Ekiti state lacked the basic and requisite facilities and resources that are pivotal to hosting such a major national event. But the just concluded festival which started 13th November and ended 20th of November this year put paid to all doubts and negative permutations.


To crown the elaborate plan earlier put in place for a hitch-free, brilliant and successful 34th edition of NAFEST, Ekiti State emerged over-all best winner in most of the competitive and non-competitive games, thereby making it a new dawn of glory and admiration for the administration of Governor John Kayode Fayemi who has not hidden his vision of turning Ekiti state to a destination of first choice to tourists and investors.

Indeed, the state has in large measure and greater abundance exciting tourist centers with numerous natural resources. Ekiti state is potentially rich in mineral deposits. Some of these tourists centers with significance and national importance are the famous Ikogosi Warm Spring, the Orole and Olosunta Hills, Arinta Water Fall, Fajuyi Parks. Others are: Esa Cave, Ogun Onire Groove, Agbonna Hill, Oke Abanijorin, Sacred Fishes River, Oroke Ewo War Centre

As marketing authorities would concede, “destination branding is about identifying the destination’s strongest and most competitively appealing assets in the eyes of its prospective visitors, building a story from these that make the destination stand out above its competitors, and running this narrative consistently through all marketing communications.

Specifically, Tom Buncle, Former Chief Executive of Visit Scotland and Current Managing Director of an International Tourism Consultancy explained that “a destination brand cannot be created. It is up to tourist boards and destination marketing organisations to identify their destination best assets in order to invoke certain feelings, values cultures and the overall mindset that people experience when visiting a place”

Similarly, Buncle pointed out that it also means people in the destination play a part in contributing to the tourism brand values, experience, reputation, and mindset. All of these were in sufficient measure and supply at the Ekiti Nafest 2021 even to the utter dismay of delegates from oil rich states in Nigeria.

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Aside the famous tourists centers and places of attractions, and other facilities that were on ground, to make the festival run with effortless ease, Visitors and delegates to state were attracted and highly impressed by the newly commissioned Ekiti State Civic Center. The Civic Center, one of the many legacy projects of the current JKF administration is an architectural masterpiece and a multi-purpose edifice of unimaginable splendor and candour.

For Ekiti people, who received contingents from 36 states of the federation and some international observers, it was the biggest crowd they have witnessed in recent history. Beyond the opportunity it provided for networking, the festival gave the locals opportunity to display their wares and make good money within the period. From the players in the hospitality business, farmers, artisans and other actors in the state’s SME, it was a boom period for businesses.

Perhaps the story can better be told by visitors from across the country who were marveled by the level of preparation put in place by the state government. Aside from the basic facilities that were on ground to make the festival run with ease, the visitors were impressed by the organized manner the event was planned and executed.

In particular, delegates from the states believed to be richer than Ekiti were jealous of the state of the art infrastructure in the state. At the Civic Center, where all the major activities were held, delegates were seen discussing in admiration facilities at the civic center which include museum, cinemas and supermart. Above all, the elegance and ambience of the civic center added colour to the event.

Of course the peak of the event was the different performances that featured at the event opening can only be compared to what obtains at Cannes Festival and the Notting Hill Carnival. The carnival which showcased colour, glamour and panache also gave participants the opportunity to experience superlative cultural diversity in Nigeria. It aptly lived up to the theme for the festival; “Celebrating, National Unity in Diversity,” as over 30 states of the federation featured during the event.


Though an entertainment platform, Ekiti State sure took it a notch higher this time around through the infusion of modern marketing that provided an advertising platform for sponsors. It thus became a unique platform to showcase goods and services thereby creating more bonding between the consumers and brand owners. At the end, it turned out to be a commerce and cultural festival.

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In a way, the carnival confirmed the earlier position of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi that Ekiti had put necessary machinery in place to make the state the nation’s entertainment and tourism hub in the country. This was also the position of the Mayor of Tianjin Province, Xiao Song, who stated last year during a courtesy visit to Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi in Ado Ekiti that the Civic Centre which was then under construction would be a long-term legacy project for the Ekiti State Government when completed.

The Mayor who was then represented by his Deputy, Hu Xiaoynang, added that the Civic Centre would upon completion showcase quality and expertise in construction work. The just concluded carnival gave credence to this opinion.

With the success of the carnival, it was obvious that unlike its counterparts, the state government had set out early to prepare for the hosting of the national festival. Since the close of last year’s edition of NAFEST in which it emerged the most- culturally creative and innovative state, beating 29 other states and carting home various prizes and laurels, it has not rested on its oars.

Delivering his keynote address during the official opening of the event, the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, and President, World Crafts Council (African Region), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe had noted that the festival is necessary to promote patriotism in the face of separatist agitations in different parts of Nigeria.


“NAFEST does not only provide a platform for Nigerians from different ethnic backgrounds to showcase their unique cultural manifestations, it also brings to the fore, the role of culture in national peace and harmony as well as the vast opportunity in the culture sector for job creation and economic empowerment,” he remarked.

In his welcome address, Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, Professor Rasaki Ojo Bakare had observed that “hosting of NAFEST by Ekiti State is a milestone because for the first time, such a huge event would be coming to Ekiti land whose resources are very low if compared to other states in the South West of the country.

However, he said “the opportunity to host the event was made possible because of the tremendous support enjoyed from the administration of Dr. John Kayode Fayemi (CON) and his amiable wife, Erelu Bisi Fayemi (Mama NAFEST) who he said relentlessly supervise and co-ordinate the activities of the sector from time to time”.

While declaring the festival open, the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi had observed that the critical state of the nation requires harnessing the diverse culture as tools for social and political change.

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“It is imperative to build our unique cultural economy to attract global attention,” he said. He added that culture is one of the main pillars of development. For him, apart from sports, NAFEST is an opportunity for all the 36 states to meet and celebrate national unity.


Since 1970 when NAFEST was instituted, it had served as a platform for talent hunt, skills development and marketing Nigeria’s cultural content. With entrepreneurial workshop as well as free medical testing and counselling, the festival proved to a holistic experience.

Back to back, as the hosting state, Ekiti State, the land of honour, again emerged overall winner of the 34th edition of NAFEST. This was announced during the closing ceremony at the Ekiti Parapo Pavilion Ado-Ekiti. The state was followed by Rivers State, then Bayelsa and Benue States as joint third position, Delta and Nasarawa States came fourth, while Ogun and Lagos States got the fifth position.

Indeed the outcome of the yearly event favourably justified the views of destination branding experts. This was further corroborated by the earlier disclosures by Governor Kayode Fayemi when he said during the welcome address at Fountain Summit 2021 that Ekiti State is open for business.

Welcoming guests at the Fountain Summit, an economic forum earlier held in the state, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi had disclosed that; “in Ekiti State, we are in a hurry to develop. We are very intentional about development planning, and at the core of our efforts and strategy is a partnership approach that places a premium on creating the right condition that would attract investors and development partners, to support our aspirations”.

Besides, he told his audience that his administration “has put in place requisite laws and policies to ensure investor confidence and made massive investments in critical infrastructure and security-all geared towards making Destination Ekiti attractive and Competitive”.


As a buildup to what happened during the festival, Ekiti, had in 2019 organized Ekiti State Festival of Arts and Culture (EKIFEST) the festival, with the theme, Arts and Culture, Tool for Restoration of Values and Socio-economic Empowerment, was held ostensibly as a dress rehearsal for the hosting of the National Festival of Arts and Culture. Interestingly, while other states were still undecided on when to formally bid for the festival, Ekiti State had submitted a bid letter to National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) in February 2020.

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