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Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand

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Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, Thailand

  Promising luxury for the entire family, immersive activities for the kids, and dining credits, the  Private Retreats at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui and Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai call for a long family vacation this summer.
  Whether you head to the cultural capital of Northern Thailand, where Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai rises like a fantasy amid emerald paddy fields, or choose to spend your holidays on the island oasis of Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, you are sure to enjoy a dream vacation. Fret not if you have your spouse and kids in tow, for these plush resorts are among the world’s best for family vacations with two to four bedroom ‘Private Retreats’ that allow every member of the group to have a memorable time together. 
  In addition to expansive accommodations, indoor and outdoor living areas, dining spaces, private pools, open air pavillions, private butlers, kitchenettes buffet breakfasts,Clockwise from above Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai lets kids immerse themselves in local culture; families enjoy the luxury of private pools at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui Private Retreats come with a dining credit of USD 500.
bottles of wine for welcome, and round trip airport  transfers in a limousine, the luxe Private Retreats featurea dedicated ‘Kids for All Seasons’ programme. It makes sure that the younger travellers are entertained through the duration of the stay, by offering a range of fun and safe experiences. But this isn’t all. The resorts reward their patrons with a USD 500 credit, which can be redeemed for dining at any of the restaurants (book by April 30, 2019 to avail offer).
  At Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, the kids can soak in local culture by learning the art of making krathongs from banana leaves, painting on traditional umbrellas, crafting hill tribe garments, and finally showcasing their handiwork in an exciting dress up party. The resort also offers to take children for meeting resident buffaloes at a buffalo bathing ceremony, and through its very own working rice fields for a first hand planting experience.
  At Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, the kids can enrol themselves in Muay Thai classes for endless energy packed activity, and culinary sessions with their parents to learn the secrets of Thai cooking.      The resort also educates young minds in sustainability the Coral Conservation Project has led to over 16,000 broken coral fragments being nursed back to life under the supervision of an on site marine biologist.  
fourseasons.com/thailand

The 15 Best Amusement Parks In The World For Family Fun

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The 15 Best Amusement Parks In The World For Family Fun

 Summer is here.and it’s time to gather the young and the old for a family holiday at these  handpicked amusement parks and integrated resorts. 

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1. Port Aventura World,Spain

  An hour away from the BarcelonaAirport lies the biggest resort of southern Europe, PortAventura World. This Spanish wonder in Salou houses three theme parks with unique features and several attractions, the biggest draw among which is Ferrari Land. Experience the tallest ride in Europe, The Red Force, that shoots to 180 kmph in under five seconds and goes up to 112 metres high. Understand the history of Ferrari, get into the shoes of an F1 driver, go Around The World in Ferrari, or buy souvenirs from the original store. Besides the Ferrari adventure, 17 cool attractions like the Bermuda Triangle wave pool provides much needed respite from the summer heat. Book a stay at one of the five themed hotels of PortAventura World; it comes with day long access to Ferrari Land. Access to the parks with a night stay starts from `12,500 portaventuraworld.com

2. Hersheypark, Pennsylvania, USA

  Aticket to Hersheypark is no less rewarding thanWillyWonka’s golden ticket to the chocolate factory. Understandably located in Hershey, this Hershey themed park is literally what its name suggests, and more. Initially established as a leisure space for the company’s employees, the amusement park is today the perfect place to bring family, friends, or your partner. Enjoy the moderate to wild rides at the park, or spend a summer day at the waterpark. If chocolate is all you care for, visit the next door Hershey’s Chocolate World, and  indulge in chocolate tours and tasting experiences, or make your own Hershey candy. When the sugar rush hits, head over to the quaint woodside cottages of the Hershey Hotel, one of the three official resorts of the park.  Enjoy a relaxing spa, swim in the indoor pool, play golf, or take a tour of  the town that is considered the sweetest place on Earth. If you feel like burning some of those holiday calories, choose one of the Hershey Outfitters activities, like kayaking or fly fishing. One day entrance ticket in summer costs `2,800 rooms from `18,000 per night hersheypark.com

3. Disneyland Paris, France  

  Baloo with his whimsical singing, Spiderman with his web slinging, Disney princesses with their wishful thinking, and Winnie the Pooh with his wise sayings all your favourite characters come alive at Disneyland Paris. What makes this Disney experience unique is its French backdrop, located a 40 minute train ride from Paris, and a Parisian version of the famous Disney castles. Scream out loud at the 13 storeyed Twilight Zone of Terror that reeks of hauntings. Indulge your senses in Gusteau’s famous Parisian restaurant through the 4D experience of  Ratatouille. For some real food, eat your way through Bistrot Chez Rémy, where everything is oversized. Shop, eat, watch movies, or just take a stroll through the Disney Village. For a happiness overload, stay at one of the Disney Resorts and avail the Extra Magic Time reserved for the hotels’ guests. One day entrance is `5,000 per adult disneylandparis.com

4. Universal Studios Japan

  The thrill of visiting a Universal Studios multiplies in Osaka, Japan, where the destination magnifies the magic. One of the most visited Universal Studios, the Japanese edition takes the wizardry of theme parks up a notch with its exclusive Harry Potter themed rides and immersive shows that draw Potterheads from around the globe. The award winning ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey has recently been upgraded to an extraordinary 360o sensory experience. Opt for Wand Study to brush up those magic skills you have been hiding under your Muggle mask. Sip on specially brewed draft beer at Hog’s Head tavern as the kids get a taste of the non alcoholic Butterbeer, or enjoy a filling meal at Three Broomsticks. If you’re not a Potterhead, there’s a Minion Park, a Hollywood area, and a deadly Jaws ride, among other experiences. Entrance from `4,300 usj.co.jp

5. Wynn Las Vegas  

  Located on the famous Las Vegas Strip, Wynn is a luxury resort and casino featuring daily theatrical shows, a boutique shopping complex, a 20 acre lagoon, a gorgeous golf course, and of course, a world class casino. The holder of the most Forbes five star awards on the planet, the property boasts Asia’s finest features from spas to restaurants. On any given day, you could go shopping for fashion accessories at the plaza, take a customised spa treatment at the award winning facility, follow it up with a delightful Cantonese dinner at the Michelin star Wing Lei, get entertained through shows like La Reve or a Robbie Williams live show, and take the night deep in one of its three signature nightclubs. Check into the Deluxe Panoramic View Room that looks over the strip from the 28th floor. For those who wish to linger longer, there’s a wide menu of experiences ranging from winemaking sessions to sushi masterclasses. Panoramic View Room from `30,000 wynnlasvegas.com

6. LEGOLAND  Windsor Resort, United Kingdom  

  Eat, sleep, and drink LEGO at one of the largest and coolest LEGO themed parks in the world. Built for children aged two to 12 and for any adult with the heart of a two to 12 year old, this amusement park located in Berkshire has been meticulously designed piece  by piece. Choose one of the 55 rides like the Dragon, that goes all the way up and  down through a castle, or earn your first driving license at the Lego Driving School. Attend the spookiest of parties at the Monster House Haunted Party, where Lord Vampyre awaits, or buy a ticket for a 4D LEGO movie the two latest additions to the park. There are 12 themed areas, each with a unique plot, like The Land of the Vikings, Miniland, etc. At the Imagination Centre, children can build their very own digital fish as they gobble up fresh donuts. If you’re visiting in the sweltering summer, cool off at the Drench Towers. An all inclusive ticket is `3,800 online legoland.co.uk

7. SeaWorld Orlando,USA 

  On one hand, you could go dancing with dolphins or feed sea lions, and on the other, test your mettle by strapping yourself into giant rollercoasters. The US headquartered chain of marine parks is a combination of animal encounters and adrenaline pumping rides, with its Orlando branch being among the original ones. The signature show, featuring the park’s resident orcas, brings you up close with one of the ocean’s most fascinating creatures while educating you about its life and conservation. The Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are another highlight, with opportunities for personal up close encounters as well as a theatrical show. Away from the animals, Mako is a family rollercoaster ride widely believed to be the tallest and fastest in the Florida area. The park is best experienced on a full hotel package that comes with top seats at shows. A two night all inclusive package at Holiday Inn Express begins at `18,000 seaworld.com orlando

8. Dubai Parks and Resorts, UAE  

  Bhuvan from Lagaan awaits at The Thrill of Victory, where you can play a game of cricket against a team of British Raj. If Krrish is your kids’ favourite superhero, choose Hero’s Flight, a 4D flying theatre. This is the first ever Bollywood themed amusement park, one of  five parks at the stunning Dubai Parks and Resorts. Stroll through the dazzling Mumbai Chowk, snack at Bollywood Boulevard, or  make your own version of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. You can also immerse yourself in the full fledged Legoland and LEGO themed Waterpark there are 40 LEGO themed rides and 20 water rides. To make the best of your time, stay at the Polynesian themed resort Lapita. Doubles at Lapita from `12,000 dubaiparksandreorts.com.

9. Tivoli Gardens, Denmark  

  Georg Carstensen’s love for amusement parks gave birth to Tivoli Gardens in 1843 and is believed to be the inspiration for Walt Disney. This 176 year old amusement park retains its vintage tint with unique features like the renowned music school called Tivoli Garden, which accepts only the best. Tivoli is not just about thrilling rides the love for amusement is served by world class ballet, drama, dance, and enchanting concerts. Every day is marked by a different genre of live music there’s Friday Rock and Wednesday Jazz. Unlike other parks, Tivoli does something different in each season summer is marked by outdoor activities, though there’s fun in store for rainy days as well. Classic rides like Animal Carousel and thrilling ones like The Demon make sure there’s something for every set of nerves. Sip on the 175th year special Nordic style beer called Cuvée Carstensen, relish an array of cuisines, or just picnic in the architectural wonder that Tivoli is. Summer season begins mid April entrance for kids above eight years of  age is `1,400 tivoli.dk.

10. Efteling Hotel & Theme Park, Netherlands  

  At the Efteling theme park, you walk into a life size setting of your favourite fairy tale, be that Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or Pinocchio. Known as the keeper of fairy tales, Efteling has a theme for all kinds of fables the old and the contemporary creating a  mystical, romantic, and sometimes wild aura. Started in 1933 as a sports park, Efteling brings together well designed adventure activities within its themed sections, making it a fun place for all family members. Feed the paper eating Holle Bolle Gijs, who never seem to get full, experience miniature dioramas, watch the latest CARO theatre, or cool off in the Pirana river rapids. Eat fresh bread rolls at the underwater themed Octopus, order a stack of delicious pancakes at Polles Keuken, or enjoy Dutch specialities at the adorable Poffertje. When visiting the park, stay at Efteling fairytale themed hotel and choose your favourite story setting for a cosy night’s sleep. Entrance is `3,200, doubles from `20,000 per night efteling.com.

11. Europa Park, Germany  

  Ditch the classic Euro trip this summer for an extravagant experience of 15 ‘European lands’ built in a single theme park. Located in a small German town called Rust, Europa Park has only one drawback there are too many amazing options to choose from. One moment, you are in the Variety Theatre of Montmartre, and the next, you’re gobbling down Greek gyros in a taverna in Mykonos. For adrenaline junkies, there’s the Blue-Fire megacoaster that touches a  speed of 100 kmph in about 2.5 seconds, one of the 13 spine chilling rollercoasters at the park. Move around the park in the EP Express train, feast on scrumptious cuisines in one of the 20 plus bars and restaurants, live in the themed resorts, cuddle up in rugged Teppes, or camp in your caravan. The little ones are known to enjoy the adorable gondola ride through Italy, guided by Enzo the parrot, but if spooky is what floats your boat, Ghost Castle is the haunt for you. A two day admission is priced at `7,760 europapark.de.

12. Grand Memories Splash Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

  In the azure Caribbean, Grand Memories delightswith outdoor pools and a splash park on its all inclusive property. A short hop away from the tranquil Bavaro beach, amenities include unlimited gourmet dining, fully stocked mini bar, access to a highquality water park, and a supervised  children and teens club, among others. At the water park, there are seven giant slides, including the lightning-fast Space Bowl. Play with your family at the wave pool, and enjoy non alcoholic drinks while the children go ballistic with splash pads and spraygrounds. Once you’ve had your fill of the on site park, you can go snorkelling in the surrounding lagoon or head out on a kayaking expedition. For a complete experience, book the Diamond Club  Presidential one bedroom Suite that has a separate pullout couch for the kids, a Jacuzzi tub, two private balconies, and butler services. Presidential Suite from `70,000 in summer memoriesresorts.com

13. City Of Dreams Manila, Philippines  

  An integrated resort that houses three luxurious properties, an extraordinary nightclub, and a buzzing casino, along with a bunch of family friendly attractions, City Of Dreams Manila is a wholesome getaway in itself. Strategically located a stone’s throw from the international airport, the resort can keep you occupied for weeks at length. Here, you can experience golf like never before at the simulated golfing experience of K Golf, or ski down tricky slopes at the simulated Ski Rodeo.  Play Crap, a superfast table game, Three Cards Poker, or the classic Roulette at the casino. For an entertaining evening, taste French food dished out by Chef Frederic Thevenet. Alternatively, relish Japanese Peruvian dishes at the classy Nobu Restaurant. Buy apparels at Porsche Design, and pick up some luscious fragrances at Art of Scent. Throw the kids a surprise bash with their favourite Dreamworks character. Prices vary based on experience hotel chosen cityofdreammanila.com.

14. Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore

  Name it and you have it at ResortsWorld Sentosa.Afull array of activities focussed on water makes it a superb choice for summers watch over 1,000 species of marine animals swim around as you stroll through the tunnels at S.E.A. Aquarium; greet Vanda, the ‘miracle’ zebra shark born without a father or take a scuba diving lesson in the aquarium awash with 100,000 sea animals. For the adventurous, there’s cliff jumping at the Adventure Cove Waterpark. Bombard your Instagram followers with quirky pictures from the Trick Eye Museum, where augmented reality meets cool art, or feel the chills at Headrock Virtual Reality experience. The cherry on top is the in house Universal Studios Singapore that features 24 exclusive rides and a series of character themed shows Snack on local food at Sessions, or savour gourmet meals whipped up by Chef Benjamin Halat at Curate. Sleep at Ocean Suites, where lower floors come with a view of the underwater world. Prices vary based on the experiences rwsentosa.com.

15. Cornelia Diamond Golf  Resort & Spa, Turkey  

  Located in the land of Rumi, the all inclusive, award winning 5 star Cornelia Diamond Resort and Spa calls for a unique vacation. The property is surrounded by premium golf clubs that sit on majestic Turkish landscape, the best of the lot being the 27 hole Cornelia Golf Club designed by Sir Nick Faldo. Sip on funky drinks at the Mermaid Bar, or listen to jazz at the Seabird Bar, one of the 11 classy bars at the resort. Meanwhile, toddlers enjoy the company of trained babysitters at Baby Cornelia, and the older ones get supervised free time at the Atlantis Children’s World. While the kids play, you can melt away in the inclusive Turkish Bath or Russian Sauna, or opt for a private spa experience. Families can bond over watersports, archery, boccia, dance courses, bowling, and more A Garden Family Suite begins at `70,000; corneliaresort.com

2015 Autocruise Alto

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2015 Autocruise Alto

Goes for sleeping comfort with this unusual French bed campervan.
  I’ve had two coachbuilts and five van conversions over the years. On site the coachbuilt wins hands down for space, insulation and storage but, on the road, these motorhomes tend to creak or rattle. I find that the bodywork is not as robust as the panel van or as suited to longer drives.
  A panel van conversion is easier to handle on narrower roads it is faster and more economical on wide ones it  is rigid, being built of steel by robots and it is pleasant to drive.
  The big sliding door and the rear barn doors also make panel van conversions more airy than any coachbuilt motorhome.
  When I visited a dealer, Brownhills, at Newark to look at Autocruise panel vans (now badged Swift) I was set on the Rhythm (now the Swift Select 122), the 5.99m long rear lounge conversion.
  But, while I was there I looked at and tried the Alto’s fixed bed with its Duvalay mattress and wooden slats and I was sold.
  When you’re getting on in years a good sleep becomes more important, as is being free from the chore of bedmaking. In addition, I found that, unlike transverse beds, the French bed in this campervan is at a sensible height. A tailor made Duvalay fitted sheet and duvet set is available in various colours. The bed may be slightly on the narrow side for two, depending on girth but, for one, it is the lap of luxury. In fact, I find that the mattress is more comfortable than my bed at home.
  Underneath the bed, which is raised by two sturdy gas struts, there is great storage. I can fit a folding bike in here as well as a spare wheel, which is not supplied as standard.
  The Autocruise Alto is built on the 6.36m Fiat Ducato panel van. The fixed French bed is in the rear (offside) forming a bedroom in its own right with a large mirror and two small shelved wardrobes opposite.
  A twin belted travel seat is up front behind the driver and a washroom with shower and Thetford cassette behind these seats. On the nearside of the ’van is a gas locker for two 6kg propane cylinders.  
  Within the galley there’s a twoburner cooker, a Smev grill (which I have never used), a sink with a rather slow drainer, a microwave and a large wardrobe above a Dometic three way fridge. Removable carpets from front to back are pop fastened to the floor, unlike in the current ’vans.

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DRIVING TUNES  

  The 16 valve twin cam, turbocharged diesel gives adequate power (130bhp) and quiet cruising, although it is noisy when revved. The six speed gearbox is easy to use and has well chosen ratios.  The clutch is progressive and there is no trace of the reversing judder, which affected earlier versions.
  The factory fitted reversing sensors are invaluable and impervious to rain, road filth and sun, unlike back up cameras. The brakes are excellent. It  has no traction control, which I have  found in a previous Ducato makes a big difference on slippery ground. Cab air conditioning and cruise control are standard Fiat fit and I consider both to be essential. This model also came with the 16in Fiat alloys with Continental Camping tyres.
  The steering is precise and light when manoeuvring, but the wheel is plastic, which spoils the driving experience a little.  
  There is, thankfully, no tyre pressure monitoring system. This allows the tyre pressures to be adjusted to the actual weight distribution rather than at 80psi.
  The dashboard of the Ducato is pretty poor. The instruments are small and difficult to read. I had Brownhills fix the panel lights to stay on continuously, as flagged up by MMM, but it doesn’t really address the visibility issue. I fitted an Aguri dash cam, which allows me to use it as a speedometer instead of the actual Fiat one.
  The ’van is fitted with what is ridiculously called a techno silver dash kit. This comprises four covers for the air vents in silver, which reflect four silver triangles onto the windscreen. What styling genius thought of that?
There is a lot of wind noise at speed, but road roar is not as bad as in many cars.
  The furniture is very solid, with the exception of the drawers, and built to a higher standard than my previous Globecar. However, there are still some rattles on rough roads from the microwave area, which I have not been able to trace.
  The Fiat radio produces the usual banging and wailing cacophony, but reception is good. There is no CD so I cannot play music, although there is a socket for an MP3 player or other digital music device.
  The major fault with the Fiat Ducato is that it has a rudimentary leaf spring arrangement at the rear  with limited suspension travel so that potholes and broken road surfaces are poorly dealt with.
  It would be nice if Fiat could use a rear suspension system that is similar to the Doblo for its future  motorhome bases.

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LIVING THE MUSIC  

  Whilst the Rhythm and Swift 122, as it is now called, have 93 litre underslung water tanks, the Alto and the Swift 164 have a meagre 59 litre tank and an even smaller 41 litre waste tank. The current ’vans have tank heaters but mine doesn’t, although I found the plumbing works fine, even at 7°C.
  When wild camping I carry an extra two 25 litre containers in the cab in front of the passenger seat. There is a 12 volt socket next to the water tank filler, which is used for a submersible pump to empty the plastic containers.
  I never use any of this tank water for drinking or cooking for this I use water stored in a Sainsbury’s five litre spring water container, which is kept in the storage area under the bed.
  The washroom is compact but well made with a fixed sink and a very useable shower and a sturdy shower tray. However, I do find that the Thetford loo is just a bit too high so I use a footrest when enthroned and leave the door open!
  Meanwhile, the galley has a twoburner Smev hob, which is adequate and comes with a dark glass cover. So does the adjacent sink, although I did manage to crack this cover with a very hot cup of coffee.
  I use a genuine Primus stove top toaster kept from my cycle camping days instead of the grill, which is a waste of space, in my view.
  Four plastic boxes are used for storage in the overcab and cutlery is kept in a plastic box in one of the cupboards. The table is of a good weight and fixes to the wall of the lounge, so it is very stable compared with the single column pedestal type.
  The battery that was  supplied when new was a miserable 80Ah Yuasa one. I replaced it with a 92Ah Banner, which required a mod to the battery compartment, and I haven’t run it flat, yet.
  There is an excellent directional TV aerial and booster system. I bought a 24in Samsung Freeview HD TV (£150), which fits on a shelf under the bed when not in use and on the travelling seats when set up. I do not  like TV brackets. It provides superb picture quality when Freeview HD is available. A simple inverter allows its use off grid.
  All windows are double glazed Polyplastic and all open, unlike AutoSleeper Peugeot ’vans, but they do scratch and warp. Remis cab blinds are fitted to the cab windows and these have worked well and proved trouble free.
  I fitted Climair rain deflectors to the cab side windows, which I recommend. There is a useful Thule awning providing shade on hot days and a large Thule electric step, which retracts on start up.
An alarm sounds if you forget to remove the 240 volt cable.
  The lounge area at the front benefits from supportive foam and the cab seats swivel. The lighting was poor, however, and I fitted a triple LED ceiling light and another LED, which made a huge difference.
  However, because the Truma gas and electric boiler is under the bed at the back, the heat output up front is insufficient in winter.
  The ’van was supplied with fixed Truma vents, which meant that the bedroom and washroom were roasting but the lounge cool. I had all the fixed vents replaced with butterfly vents, which made a big difference in use. On site in winter I use a convector heater and a small oil filled radiator to keep toasty.

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FAULTS  

  The Autocruise Swift build has been trouble free, unlike its foreign made components. The Dometic fridge ‘door open’ alarm has indulged in beeping  for no reason.  
  I understand that moisture is getting into the contacts and shorting them out. I have also had the fridge door burst open when I have driven around corners on several occasions.
  One of the Truma 240V heating elements burned out as it did in my Globecar but this was replaced under warranty.  
  Six months later the Truma unit failed to work on 240V again. This was traced to the main fuse, which is buried inside the unit. It is not covered by Truma’s warranty and cost £92 to replace, but no explanation could be given of why it had failed.
  As mentioned, the Dutch made Polyplastic windows do tend to scratch easily and also warp. One was replaced under warranty and another three will be.
  I understand why Auto Sleepers use the Peugeot window van with glass windows, although only two of them open in this case.  
  Swift has been good on the warranty front and Brownhills service has been excellent.  
The Fiat Ducato and its 2.3 litre 130bhp engine, which returns around 32 to 34mpg, has been trouble free.

FOR THE FINALE  

  This is a very well designed and constructed campervan with quality furniture and seating and an extremely comfortable bed. I feel it represents good value being less expensive than a Volkswagen minivan with a tent on its roof. It drives splendidly, has proved reliable and will last well Furthermore, it is built in Britain by a British owned company and I congratulate the Swift workers who built it for making such a high quality product.

Elddis majestic 194

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Elddis majestic 194

  A sociable side settee layout, or rear travel seats for the grandchildren? With this Elddis you don’t have to choose...
  Few would argue that the most convivial layout for a motorhome lounge is to have a couple of long side facing settees facing each other. Loads of people can relax on them and chat facing each other. Plus, if you need to head to the kitchen to grab another cold one, everyone has equal access to the central walkway. And, when there’s just two of you, you can have a sofa each and put your feet up.
  The downside to having a twin side settee layout was usually that you’d only have two travel seats (those in the cab). Alternatively, the common half dinette layout allows you to have two more belted seats, but they tend to be rather upright and result in a less sociable lounge. If only someone could invent a travel seat system that didn’t compromise those comfy side settees... Well, several companies have, of course, including Elddis with its Autoquest 194, from which this Majestic dealer special is derived.
  Comfy lounge with twin side settees? Tick. Rear twin fixed beds? Tick. Four travel seats? Tick. Modern low profile body style? Tick.

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FULLY LOADED  

  As a dealer special for Marquis Leisure, the Majestic comes crammed with a host of extras for a £6,046 premium over the equivalent standard Autoquest. And these aren’t just detail differences, such as alternative fabrics and different decals, but real tangible stuff.
  For starters, the Peugeot Boxer’s Euro VI engine gets upgraded from the 130bhp engine to the flagship 160bhp engine, which makes it far more relaxing to drive without making any major impact on economy. According to Peugeot’s price list this is worth about £1,100 and it isn’t even listed as an option for the Autoquest.
  Then there’s cab air conditioning, cruise control and a passenger airbag (£1,218 from Elddis) and it’s worth noting that the air conditioning here isn’t the manual on/off system but the more sophisticated automatic version that allows you to set a desired temperature.
  The cab also gets built in blinds as part of the Marquis upgrade (worth £450), together with a mirrormounted screen for the rear view camera (usually £365), which can be left permanently on to give a handy rear view on the road.
  Best of all you also get a built in TomTom sat nav as well as Bluetooth integration for your mobile phone and a DAB radio.
  So far, we’ve totted up £3,133 of goodies and we’ve not even mentioned the built in alarm, standard fit GPS Tracker, the solar panel, massive overcab rooflight, kitchen ceiling fan and the external barbecue point. Not to mention the silver paintwork to the cab. But you get the point. With all the extra kit, the screen price of £50,995 seems reasonable for a fully loaded 7.34m low profile.    Unusually for a test vehicle, it didn’t come with any options fitted it already has all the toys as standard.

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SMOOTH OPERATOR  

  Loading the ’van proved easy, thanks to the spacious rear garage that’s been fitted with large doors on either side. On the road the 7.34m length didn’t prove to be much of an issue and, with the elephant’s ear sized mirrors and the rear view camera, it was easy to position on the road, even around the narrow streets of Tewkesbury.
  The 160bhp engine is matched to the vehicle size perfectly and the new AdBlue snorting 2 litre engine is smoother and slightly quieter than its 2.3 litre Ducato cousin, too.
  With standard fit sat nav (and a decent TomTom system at that), cruise control and an extra airbag to protect your loved one, there’s little to complain about in the cab. Except for the steering wheel and gearknob, which are the basic plastic items rather than the much more tactile leather clad versions that would seem more in keeping with the aspirations of this motorhome.
  Both cab seats are fitted with a pair of adjustable armrests and, despite their swivel bases, are not uncomfortably high. The Marquis seat trim is a bit beige for my taste but it’s inoffensive and the colouring helps to lighten the cab.

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ON SITE SURPRISES  

  With both cab seats swivelled around on site (with only a minor adjustment of the driver’s seat needed to clear the steering wheel), it’s time to check out the lounge. To keep it on the same level as the cab, the floor here is raised and there’s a small step down to the central kitchen washroom area. Even with this raised floor, though, there’s still 1.93m of headroom, rising to 2.03m in the kitchen area.
  You could probably seat eight people in the lounge, or six with bags of room, so it’s a great social space and, thanks to radiused edges on the underside of the four roof lockers, head/furniture interfacing is minimised. A free standing table (which lives in the wardrobe) fits between the sofas at dining time and is large enough for four.
  With two large side windows, a wind up sunroof over the cab and a large Heki rooflight overhead, there’s plenty of light flowing into the lounge.
  However, it’s underneath the side settees that you get two pleasant surprises. With all the cushions removed (they can be stored on top of the rear fixed bed), the settee bases lift and fold flush to the sidewalls. Nestled under each settee is a foldup Aguti travel seat, complete with a beefy steel frame and a built in three point seatbelt. They unfurl like something out of a Transformers film. Smaller kids might struggle to look out of the side windows but, overall, these seats work really well. I’d have liked some shoulder padding on the folded settee front, but this could easily be added (closed cell foam wrapped in matching vinyl and attached with Velcro). For seats that will only get used occasionally when the grandkids are on board it’s a great solution and gives you a completely uncompromised side settee lounge (although there is, of course, some loss of under seat storage).

ALL THAT CHEF STUFF  

  Speaking personally, it’s always a mystery why anyone would choose to cook in a motorhome when they’re on holiday. That’s what gastro pubs are for! But few people share this view and keen chefs will be impressed by the level of standard kit here.
  As well as a three burner gas hob with piezo ignition, there’s also a handy 800W mains hotplate to help you conserve gas when hooked up. A fold down glass cover adds extra worktop space when the hob isn’t in use and also features a built in shutoff valve for extra safety.
  Also finished in a matching black enamel is an inset sink with a smoked glass cover, and there’s a reasonable amount of worktop space surrounding the hob and sink, plus an additional flip up worktop section in front of the Hartal entrance door.
  Underneath the counter is a Thetford grill and oven, together with a three way fridge that has a useful removable freezer box if you’d rather have more cooling space. At 85 litres, it’s quite small for a four berth, though, especially compared with the tall fridge freezers seen in most continental ’vans.
  Completing the grub heating kit is an 800W microwave that’s built into a locker above the hob. Next to the microwave are a couple of roof lockers with plate and mug holders. Thoughtfully, there’s a roof vent with an extractor fan above the galley, too.  
  Pots and pans can be stored beneath the oven, while a quartet of small drawers can consume your  cutlery and other chef ’s implements.

SCRUBBING UP  

  Opposite the galley is the washroom, which is accessed via a rather flimsy door with an equally flimsy lock mechanism. Inside, there’s a bit of wheelarch intrusion, but the shower base has been moulded around this and the basin sits on an L shaped worktop to make good use of the space. It would have been better to have had a vanity unit between the wheelarch and the washbasin, though as the space can’t really be used for anything else.
  The basin itself is an attractive standalone bowl, fed by a decentquality Caraflo swan neck tap, and there’s plenty of worktop for your toiletries. On the road, you’ll store your bits and bobs in the doubledoored locker above the loo. Next to  this are a couple of towel hooks.
  A Thetford swivel bowl toilet sits alongside the shower tray. A shower curtain slides across the loo area to keep the spray off it. Pleasingly, the shower has a separate tap and there’s 2.00m of height between the shower tray and the overhead steam vent. It also has an Ecocamel shower head to help conserve water from the 100 litre underslung tank.
  Hot water is supplied from a Whale system that holds eight litres and can  be heated by either gas or via a mains hook up. But, if you shower regularly in your motorhome, it’s worth noting that most imported rivals have a separate shower that won’t need mopping down, or require you to use a shower curtain.

NIGHTY NIGHT  

  When it’s time to retire, the cab is sealed off with Remis blinds, while sprung cassette type blinds cover the side windows. I’d have preferred to see the concertina versions, which are less prone to springing up when they get old. But that’s nitpicking these do the job perfectly well.
  The front bed is a decent double and is intuitive to make up there’s no cushion Jenga here as you simply lift up the two settee bases and pull them together to meet in the middle. The backrests then fill the central hole, forming a generously long (2.07m) transverse bed.
  The fixed rear beds will be the first choice, though, and these longitudinal twin berths are accessed via a couple of steps (with shoe storage cupboard built into the treads). The beds themselves are 1.81m and 1.79m long, so my 1.88m frame didn’t fit especially as there’s a wall at each  end so no room for feet to overhang. Thankfully, there are no roof lockers above, so you can sit up in bed.
  There’s also a bridging infill section, so you also can alternatively sleep transversely and use the bed as a double, but that rather defeats the object of this layout, and you’ll have to climb over your partner to get out.
  Under the beds are his and her wardrobes, with a third wardrobe sandwiched between the bed and washroom. At the base of that one is a bank of 12V fuses and the mains consumer unit an excellent location that makes it easy to get to the electrics. The rest of the services are located under the first step to the rear bed and include the water pump, drain down taps and gas taps, all in one handy locker.

Bailey alliance 59-2

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Bailey alliance 59-2

  Bailey’s mid range Alliance line up gets a new compact six metre model with the classic two berth layout.
  Launched last October, Bailey’s Alliance was not so much a completely new range as an enhanced spec option for the entrylevel Advance (which debuted in its current guise earlier in the year).  
  All layouts bar the transverse island bed (74 2 and 74 4) were copied over into this new mid range line up, while a single bed/end washroom floorplan also debuted simultaneously for both Advance and Alliance.
  Now, following its February NEC debut, Bailey has plugged another gap in its portfolio with the launch of this 59-2 layout in both ranges, addressing the desire of some customers for a sub six metre motorhome.
  Following usual Bailey practice, the numbers make this a 5.9m(ish) twoberth motorhome.
  This is, therefore, the Bristol maker’s smallest model, but it benefits from the same extra kit in higher priced Alliance form a graphite metallic cab (instead of white), a 160bhp diesel engine (in place of 130bhp), a radio that incorporates satnav, a Fiamma wind out awning, an illuminated surround for the overcab sunroof, a 100W solar panel, and a change of décor.
  Alliance motorhomes feature a Natural Slate finish in the kitchen (with matching splashback), Portland soft furnishings (or Wandsworth as an option) and Pebble Shore carpets.

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ONE STEP AHEAD  

  As I pulled up outside the Bailey’s Bristol premises, it was clear that the 59-2 has all the design cues of its bigger brethren, but equally obvious that this is a compact ’van.
  It probably looks smaller than it is thanks to the neat low profile body (wood free Alu Tech construction, of course) and low Al Ko chassis.  
  One unique feature of the layout, however, is the slide out electric step required to ease access. This is a reasonable 330mm off the road and then there’s a further slight step over  the threshold.
  The habitation door itself has a window and bin but is not linked to the cab’s central locking.
Other exterior features of note are a Vision Plus TV aerial socket and a hatch into the under seat space on the nearside useful but only if you can find a home elsewhere for your bedding, as the offside settee base is predominantly occupied by the fresh water tank (good for winterisation) and the Combi boiler.
  On the rear wall are fixings for a bike rack, while on the offside are the gas locker (mounted a bit high over the wheelarch) and the toilet servicing (with separate reservoir for its flush, caravan style). Look underneath and you’ll see the small bore waste drain and the lack of a spare wheel (buyers get a Fix and Go kit instead). There’s no winter pack option to insulate the pipework or heat the underslung waste tank.  
  Like all Alliances, the 59-2 is built on a 3,500kg chassis here resulting in a whopping 820kg payload. That’s another plus of going smaller. Even a couple of Sumo wrestlers could go camping without being overloaded.

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TWO BY TWO  

  The motorhomers went in two by two, at least Alliance 59-2 owners do, because this is a classic couple’s layout with side settees (no rear travel seats) and a rear kitchen with corner washroom. It’s a layout that has been popular in the UK for around two decades. Here, as with most rivals, it feels spacious and open. Large side windows in the lounge, plus the opening overcab sunroof and central Midi Heki rooflight mean there’s plenty of daylight. And, after sundown, illumination continues to be a strength with concealed lighting over the top lockers, and four reading lamps over the settees, as well as more in the cab. Two of the six spotlights have built in USB sockets.  
  Another aspect that strikes you immediately is the generosity of  headroom. There’s up to 2.10m of standing height in the rear galley area, though this reduces as you step up (by 150mm) into the lounge (where there’s room for shoes or even valuables in a locker hidden under the carpet). Then there’s a further rise in floor level (70mm) to enter the cab. Shouldn’t the lounge and cab be on the same level, so just one step is required?
  Once you’ve sat down you’ll have no complaints, though and no thoughts that you’re in a small ’van. With the cab chairs (each height adjustable) rotated, there’s comfortably room for six in this lounge area. And, if you’re not feeling sufficiently sociable to invite friends in, the front seats turn through a full 180 degrees, so you can stretch out with your feet up on the sofas.
  There’s no bracket or cupboard for your TV, but the surface over the fridge has adjacent 12V, 230V and aerial sockets. Forward of that, the worktop is lower, so you can put drinks here and not block your view of  the TV a neat bit of design.
  Not so clever is the table storage. At first, having looked in the wardrobe, I thought that the table had been forgotten it wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened when testing a prototype. But, no, it slides into brackets fixed to the nearside settee base. I didn’t find sliding the table in or out from under the settee especially easy and, on one occasion, the rails holding the table moved and it dropped down into the seat locker.  
  All that said, this is a good sized table (915mm by 570mm) with the versatility of being free standing. It’s wobble free, as well as being usable when one wishes to dine outside.

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A SHELFLESS ACT  

  With its duo tone top lockers and allwhite lower doors, plus the slate style splashback, this is a well presented galley. It’s got some nice accessories, too, such as the removable draining board, washing up bowl and chopping board. We’re also fans of the halfheight Thetford Triplex cooker, which doesn’t take up too much room but incorporates a three ring hob and combined oven and grill. The spec here also includes an 800W  microwave, fitted at eye level.  
  The design of the kitchen is typical of this type of motorhome, with the main galley unit across the rear wall and the fridge mounted separately, forward of the habitation door. The refrigerator itself is a three way model of reasonable capacity, which can be enhanced by removing the freezer section. In usual Bailey style, though, it’s a basic model with push-button ignition for the gas function.  
  There’s plenty of cupboard space, both at high and low level, but just one drawer (without recesses for cutlery). The high level lockers are largely unshelved (good for cereal packets, but more shelves might be better) and a bigger concern for shorter chefs will be seeing into some spaces (such as the cupboard above  the microwave).
  The cupboards over the lounge also lack shelves. They are capacious (you’ll get lots of folded clothing in here) and have positive locking catches but you might find stuff tumbling out when you open the doors. And even more of an issue are the open recesses at the sides of the  overcab, which would benefit from deep lips or retainer nets to become genuinely useful.
  The final area of storage is the wardrobe (situated forward of the washroom), which, as mentioned, is unencumbered by a table. It has a good hanging height of around 890mm although, at 400mm wide, it is rather slim.

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GOING SEPARATELY  

  Perhaps the modest wardrobe was a casualty of the decision to fit a separate shower in the washroom. If  that’s the case, we think Bailey is on the right road (and you will, too, if  you prefer to use your own facilities or camp off grid). It’s not often that you’ll find a truly separate shower in a six metre ’van.  
  There’s much else to applaud here. There’s useful worktop alongside the basin, a large mirror, towel robe hooks, plenty of room on the loo (which is also at a comfortable height), a lock on the door, and the shower is a good size with huge headroom and twin drain holes. If we are to nitpick, the main toiletries cabinet needs more shelves and the shower cubicle lacks anywhere to place your shampoo and gel (except on the floor).

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AT THE DOUBLE  

  The shower might be separate but you sleep together in the 59-2. The only night time option is a transverse double bed made from the settees.  
  Bed make up is quite simple, with the slatted support of the offside sofa pulling right out across the aisle to form the base of the mattress. You’d expect now to simply drop the backrest cushions into the middle but, actually, you use just one backrest and an infill cushion (which, of course, eats into your storage during the day). Because the settee cushions have knee rolls, you may feel the need to turn the base cushions around to create a flatter bed.  
  That done, you’ll have a long, comfortable bed with venting panels to keep your pillows away from the side walls and a neat bedside table if feet go towards the offside.

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HEAVYWEIGHT BOXER  

  As well as the DAB radio with built in TomTom sat nav, Bailey specifies the Boxer cab for these Alliance models with cab air conditioning, cruise control, driver and passenger airbags, ESP and cab seats with twin armrests, but not the alloy wheels seen on this test vehicle (which are not available as a factory option).
  Like the larger Alliances, the 59-2 also gets the 160 horsepower engine as standard, rather than the usual 130bhp unit. Both are 2 litre Euro 6 diesels, and have an advantage over the equivalent Fiat in terms of smoothness and refinement as well as showing much bigger progress compared with their 2.2 litre forebears.
  In such a small (and light) motorhome the engine upgrade results in lively performance with the  59-2 scaling the Mendips effortlessly on our test route and often in a higher gear than expected.  
  The ultra low Al Ko chassis also makes its presence felt. Some compact coachbuilts can feel quite twitchy as they are too tall in relation to their wheelbase length, but the Bailey seemed as surefooted as its bigger brothers, with very reassuring road manners. I was also very grateful for the 59-2’s compact size when looking for a photo location and discovering  just how small the village of Rickford is. And this wasn’t the only time that I was pleased that the Alliance is ‘only’ 2.28m wide (rather than 2.49m of the upmarket Autographs) the B roads around the west of Bristol are not exactly broad.  
On the road, then, this the smallest member of the Bailey family beats all of its closest rivals.

Carthago liner for two 53

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Carthago liner for two 53

  We’ve had U shaped and L shaped rear lounges for decades but the C shape is much newer and now it’s in a sub-8m ’van.

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  The first Carthago dealer we approached for this test had sold its Liner for two and expected its next example to have a customer’s name on it before it even arrived in the country. Clearly, then, there is interest in this rather unusual A class, developed especially for (wellhealed) couples. Thankfully, though, Lincoln based Camper UK was not only able to come up with a ’van for us to test, but also a pitch on its own campsite, for this was a vehicle that had me itching to get on board.
  Launched a year ago in Germany, the Liner for two is not the first big A class to sport a C shaped rear lounge, but it is the only one currently to slip below 8m in length (though an 8.5m version is also offered). Despite the ‘Liner’ part of the name, this is not  a huge vehicle by A-class standards width is a modest 2.27m and the standard gross weight is 4,500kg (upgraded here to 4,800kg in a costly combined option with alloy wheels and air suspension).
  It is very much ‘for two though, with no rear travel seats and the only beds being the drop down singles in the cab. Those two will be travelling in style, for a fully loaded Liner fortwo could easily cost £150k (‘ours’ was nearly that without an awning at £1,635, satellite dish from £2,470 or habitation air con at £1,960).
  The Super Package alone adds almost £6,000 but then it does include automatic air con in the cab, ESP, cruise control, the Bestview bus type mirrors, reversing camera, etc, and other features that should be taken for granted at this price level (the Luxus habitation door, DAB radio CD with Bluetooth but not steering wheel mounted switches, bedroom USB socket), as well as niceties such as the nautical style clock, barometer and thermometer above the entrance door, the SOG toilet fan and the heat exchanger to use engine warmth to heat the living area as you drive In total, ‘our’ Liner for two had £28,810 worth (and 277kg) of extras.
  But then this is a rather special motorhome. Build quality is quite obviously of a very high order throughout. There’s a 10 year water ingress warranty and 100% wood free construction, while a separate rear bumper eases rear end repairs and the sidewalls with aluminium on the inside (as well as outside) are said to distribute heat much more effectively.
  Heating comes, of course, from an Alde warm water system, which includes the double floor, cab, both entrances and beneath the lounge floor. And that double floor offers really generous load carrying potential, too. Just inside the door, virtually the whole kitchen area floor lifts to reveal a 350mm deep void that you could only fill with shoes if your name is Imelda. Then, further forward, there’s a full width, externally (and internally) accessed space with hatches on either side (min height inside 310mm, much more at the sides). The loading doors rise on gas struts and close with bank vault solidity not only that, but they (along with both entrances and the garage doors) are linked to the remote central locking’s fob (as an option).
  That garage, nestling beneath the rear lounge, boasts a 450kg maximum capacity and internal height of up to 940mm. Not enough for your cycles? Carthago has thought of that too, with its Pedelec system. On the offside a small trapdoor in the floor caters for bike wheels, while the roof of the garage above tips up to allow a couple of pushbikes to be more easily loaded. And there’s still plenty of room in here for more gear, as well as an external shower to wash off anything mucky before it goes inside.
  Ah yes, but what about payload? Well, even with all the options fitted here, our test ’van had nearly 800kg plenty for a couple, although that figure only allows for 20kg of water. Fill the fresh tank to the brim (a very self sufficient 225 litres, inboard in the double floor, like the 180 litre waste tank) and you’ve still got 583kg left for your partner and chattels.

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AIR APPARENT  

  This test Liner for two came on a Fiat Ducato chassis cowl with the 2.3 litre 177bhp engine and Comfort Matic gearbox. You can, alternatively, specify a (considerably more expensive) rearwheel drive Iveco Daily with up to 205bhp (470Nm torque) and a gross weight up to 5.8 tonnes, as well as the super smooth eight speed torque converter automatic transmission.
  The Fiat semi auto gearbox can’t match that slickness, but it did a good enough job here of making the driver’s job effortless. And this is a big motorhome that doesn’t feel especially large to drive. The twinlens, bus style mirrors give a great view aft, aided and abetted by a constant display from the rear view camera and its screen over to the right of the helm. But the key feature is the way the dashboard slopes away in front of you, giving you much better visibility and far greater confidence in positioning this A class.
  And, if that makes the Carthago feel easier to drive than most smaller coachbuilts, the excellent soundproofing keeps you more relaxed than in a standard Fiat cab, too, while the Aguti captain’s chairs ensure you’re comfortable for the long tours that are the whole raison d’etre of a vehicle like this. 
  The final icing on the cake is the Al Ko air suspension, which provides a less harsh and crashy ride than is often the case with Fiat based motorhomes even when our videographer took us down a track that was more pothole than road.
  Much of what we’ve seen so far could, however, be found in a number of prestige A classes. What you won’t find in most rivals is a layout like this. So, what is a C shaped lounge?  
  Well, an ‘L’ has two sides, a ‘U’ has three and the C shaped lounge has four sides, with the sofa wrapping around to face rearwards, too. It’s made all the more special with sumptuous leather upholstery (available in four colours) and the fact that the seats are just for sitting on they have no night time role. The table is a good size for dining but, thanks to a foot pedal that allows it to slide every which way, it doesn’t dominate.  
  In fact, I can’t think of another motorhome in which I’d rather relax when the weather keeps you inside. There’s a second Pioneer radio CD with four speakers at the rear, windows all around (elevated, so no one can peer in) and a large Heki sunroof above, as well as plenty of lighting (some of it dimmable but  none of it directionally adjustable).
  When you tire of looking at the views and listening to Steve Wright, the TV appears at the flick of a switch from behind the offside settee. Not your average motorhome TV, of course this is a 40in flatscreen. And before you start squabbling over the full length settee along the back wall, you spot another switch this time to turn the rear facing portion of sofa into a full feet up lounger. Perfect!
  If the rear lounge is impressive, the way the cab turns into a bedroom is just as well thought out. Of course, you start by closing the blinds and tipping the cab seat backrests forward, as usual in an A class, but then the beds whirr down (and unfold) from the ceiling at the press of another button fortunately there are two leisure batteries to power all these gizmos, with a third (and solar panels) on the options list.
  Once lowered, conjoined twin beds (1.89m and 1.99m long) are revealed (with a 1.42m long centre cushion and the bed width at shoulder level is a massive 2.01m. There’s no humble ladder to reach them, either, but a pair of substantial slide out steps. And, when two doors meet behind the steps, the cab is lost from view completely and the transformation to a bedroom is complete.
  Of course, those doors keep out the cold, too, while a second TV (24in) and seven zone cold foam mattresses mounted on Carawinx springs, ensure that this is no ordinary motorhome bedroom. However, if you want to sit up in bed you’ll need to turn yourselves around, so feet go towards the windscreen in which case the  TV is in the wrong place and access is slightly more awkward.

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RAIN ’VAN  

  Your bedroom need not be revealed to your visitors, though, as the toilet door shuts off the whole front end of  the vehicle and more sliding doors separate bedroom from en suite.  
  The toilet area (nearside) is more spacious than many, with none of the oft found restrictions in leg or shoulder room when sat on the (ceramic) cassette toilet, plenty of storage in mirror fronted cupboards with fiddle rails and even a laundry basket under the basin. Pity there’s no heated towel rail here, though, as often seen in Alde heated ’vans.  
  The shower, opposite, has an unusual brick like wall lining and orangey glow to the lighting (but its light switch is the wrong side of the toilet door). Its headroom is 1.98m and there are two drains, but the star feature is the choice of typical riser bar mounted shower or large overhead ‘rain’ shower.  
  The en suite makes a great changing room, too, with double wardrobe (one above the other) alongside the shower and a selection of extra large clothes drawers in cabinets under the foot of each bed.

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KAFFEE UN KUCHEN  

  A built in coffee machine is becoming de rigeur in upmarket motorhomes, so the high level slide out Dolce Gusto capsule based unit is no surprise though it was one of the myriad options fitted to our test ’van (one of  the cheaper ones, at £235). What this example didn’t have was an oven or grill, though one is offered as part of a Tec Tower (£765). That means it’ll be rather high up for shorter chefs it’s a shame Carthago hasn’t followed Hymer with better UK style cookers.
  That apart, there’s much to be impressed by here, including another surprise and delight feature. The worktop is Corian, with a spillagecatching lip. The six XL sized, softclosing drawers offer plenty of storage and all are locked at the flick of a switch. The tap has a pull out hose, there’s an extractor fan in the roof vent, and the split sink lid reverses to become a chopping board.  
The fridge is, naturally, a whopper with 160 litre capacity and automatic energy selection.
  Even more kitchen storage is found in the eye level slide out pantry unit at the forward end of the galley, but the star feature of the culinary department is hidden below the useful serving shelf between the lounge and kitchen. Here, there’s a slide out unit with shelves and twin bins, but the clever bit is the way it is revealed as you slide the unit one way, the front of the locker slides in the opposite direction. It’s so neat that Carthago has patented the idea.