Friday, 31 October 2008

TD Breaking News - The Pacific Jewel

P&O confirms deployments

Carnival Australia this morning issued a statement confirming the Australasian deployment of two ships currently operating under the Ocean Village brand in the UK (TD/CW breaking news).

The first ship will be renamed as Pacific Jewel and will begin sailing year round from Brisbane in 2009, while the second superliner will arrive late in 2010 and will sail from Auckland and possibly Sydney.

Pacific Sun, currently operating out of Brisbane, will shift to homeport from Fremantle in Dec 2009 with P&O saying the move "is in response to West Australians' passion for cruising, which has been steadily growing in recent years."

Once the two new vessels are added to the fleet P&O Cruises Australia will have capacity for about 8000 passengers.

Carnival Australia chief Ann Sherry said the ships would offer "amazing new amenities that would differentiate the product," including P&O Cruises' largest spa area, a child-free oasis, a circus show with a high wire act and bikes and kayaks for onshore adventures.

Carnival said the move is the biggest ever investment made by a cruise company in this region.

More details in today's Travel Daily.

Louise Southerden Cleans Up At The 2008 ASTW Awards

Louise Southerden is this year's Travel Writer of the Year, and has won the Responsible Tourism Writer of the Year and Best Travel Journey of the Year awards, at the prestigious Australian Society of Travel Writers gala awards night held in Shanghai, China, this week.

Louise Southerden is a prolific writer and travel photographer and is a regular contributor to a range of publications, including The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald, Women's Health and WellBeing, Voyeur (Virgin Blue) and The Australian Way (Qantas), Backpacker Essentials, Outdoor Australia and G, the green lifestyle magazine. She is based in Sydney and has been freelancing for 13 years.

"Travelling and writing are my passions and I consider myself very fortunate to combine them in my career. It is a real privilege to have so many incredible experiences in spectacular destinations all over the planet, and to share these experiences with others through my writing – but to then be recognised by my peers is overwhelming," says Louise.

The Responsible Tourism award – which Louise previously won in 2006 – was for a story about Lord Howe Island, one of Australia's most eco-friendly destinations, published in G magazine. The Best Travel Journey of the Year award was for a feature on kayaking in the Arctic, in Outdoor Australia.

Louise's photographic skills were also recognised; she was a finalist in one of the two photography categories.

In addition to her regular feature writing, Louise writes a green travel blog for the G magazine website ( She is also the author of Surf's Up, The Girl's Guide to Surfing, published by Allen & Unwin; the second edition will be in bookstores from 5 December 2008.

For further information on the ASTW awards see

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


Two full days in St Petersburg are a highlight of a 10-night cruise from Copenhagen through some of the most enchanting ports in the Baltic on Princess Cruises' newest ship, Emerald Princess between May and September next year.

A total thirteen cruises are available through, with prices starting from as low as $4199pp twin-share, which is $1000pp below previously advertised prices; air taxes and fuel charges applicable at time of booking additional.

Return air to Copenhagen is from mainland capitals, Darwin and Cairns, and there's also a night pre-cruise included at The Grand Hotel.

Emerald Princess will sail to Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg for a stay from 6.30am one day to 6pm the next, Tallinn, Poland, Oslo and back to Copenhagen.

All onboard dining with a choice of Traditional, Anytime, Specialty or Casual Dining, nightly showroom entertainment, movies on deck under the stars, and a huge choice of sporting facilities are all included in the price that's based on Early Bird booking fares.

Conditions apply; for full details phone 1300 369 848 or check-out

EMERALD PRINCESS has five pools including a swim-against-the-current lap pool, a sport court and jogging track, Asian-themed spa and ocean-view gym, a wide variety of bars and lounges, a choice of casinos, and an arcade of duty-free shops.

She also has both Youth and Teen Centres, and a 24-hour Internet Café.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Pacific Blue Increases Flights to Fiji

Virgin Blue’s international sister carrier, Pacific Blue Airlines, today announced it will increase services* between Brisbane and Fiji (Nadi) from 14 to 16 flights a week as a result of ongoing demand and strong support for the airline’s existing services.

From 19 December 2008, the additional flights will arrive late into Nadi on Friday and Sunday evenings, returning early on Saturday and Monday mornings. Everyday low fares between Brisbane and Nadi start from AUD$349* one way on the net.

Since launching services to Fiji in September 2004 with three weekly flights from Brisbane the airline has seen a substantial increase in tourist demand for flights from Australia to Fiji with the number of people returning to Fiji to visit friends and relatives also increasing. Fijian locals are also taking advantage of Pacific Blue’s affordable high quality flights to travel to Australia and beyond.

According to the latest Department of Immigration^ statistics:
• The Brisbane-Nadi market has grown by 82,198 passengers or 101% since Pacific Blue launched on the route till year ending June 2008.
• The Australian visitor arrivals into Fiji has grown by 38%.
• The holiday segment to Fiji has grown by 44%.
Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “The strong statistics and ongoing support has given us the confidence to commit further resources to this route and the additional flight between Brisbane and Nadi is a clear indication of our faith in the Fiji market and its long term viability.
“Above all we remain committed to ensuring that the airline continues to offer great value air fares as well as great service to travellers from both Australia and Fiji.“
As an added bonus for travellers the additional flights open up a number of new connections with through flights now available on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays to and from Adelaide, Cairns and Townsville.


Flight No DJ175 depart 1800 and arrive 2340 on Fridays
Flight No DJ175 depart 1810 and arrive 2350 on Sundays


Flight No DJ174 depart 0600 and arrive 0810 on Saturdays
Flight No DJ174 depart 0630 and arrive 0840 on Mondays

* Subject to regulatory approval. All fares are subject to availability, are for one way travel and include taxes, fares and surcharges. Seats are limited and may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one way on the net or AU$15 more by phone. A credit card surcharge of AU$5 per person per one way flight is applicable for flights internationally. Fares are correct as at 24 Oct, 2008 and are subject to change. International return fare may vary with the addition of local taxes and charges.

^ Source: Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

The InterContinental Kitchen - a global culinary journey

From London to Los Angeles, Madrid to Mexico City, Nairobi to New Delhi – The InterContinental Kitchen takes you on a global culinary journey

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts worldwide have opened the doors to their famed kitchens with the release of the ultimate collective culinary work – The InterContinental Kitchen.

Within its pages, executive chefs from 142 hotels across 60 countries share their innovative and exciting recipes inspired by the cultures and flavours of the world’s great cities and resort destinations; as well as treasured classics that have built each hotel’s gastronomic reputation.

The InterContinental Kitchen contains over 300 recipes offered in the private suites, ballrooms, restaurants, bars, club rooms and via room service at InterContinental Hotels and Resorts. It also includes up to 200 photographs capturing the visual impact of the InterContinental’s food, cocktails and the sophistication of the hotels and resorts they are from.

The recipes run the gamut from Lobster and Langoustine Gratin, Maple Glazed Rack of Pork with Braised Fennel and Cured Salmon with Wild Radish Sauce, to Shepherd’s Pie, Baked Sea Bass and Kashmiri-Style Lamb Chops; making it the perfect global cooks’ companion for stylish dinner parties or casual gatherings.

“The InterContinental Kitchen supports our commitment to providing guests with memorable and unique experiences that enrich their lives and broaden their outlook. On behalf of InterContinental Executive Chefs around the world, we hope you enjoy this unique menu of authentic regional flavours and international cuisine from our kitchen to yours,” said Andrew Cosslett, Chief Executive, InterContinental Hotels Group.

More than a book of recipes, The InterContinental Kitchen offers a culinary tour of InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. Through the collection of travel vignettes and delectable recipes the home cook is invited to experience a taste of living the InterContinental life.

The growing number of InterContinental Hotels and Resorts around the world includes InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, due to open in December 2008 and joining InterContinental Sydney and InterContinental Perth Burswood.

Other InterContinental hotels and resorts currently under development throughout the region include InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa – part of the Natadola Marine Resort development and scheduled to open in mid 2009 – and InterContinental Queenstown, opening 2010.

The InterContinental Kitchen is available online at and at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts worldwide, retailing at $60USD.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

How to save money on your next overseas trip

Still have those 2007 champagne tastes but now have the 2008 beer budget. Here’s some ways you can still experience the delight of traveling without selling the house. Danny Nathanson, CEO BackChat Mobile offers his tips for cutting back when travelling overseas.

1. Get a global simcard before you leave and end roaming shock.

BackChat Mobile’s one phone-number GlobalSIM can save you up to 70% on your phone bill in over 130 countries. BackChat Mobile offers free incoming calls in over 50 countries, no roaming charges and is compatible with most multi band GSM mobile phones that are unlocked.

2. Pack lighter, and let the hotel pick up the cost.

Did you know many travel items are offered for free by hotels? These include razors toothbrushes, toothpaste soap etc. So why pack and pay for them when you can request them at check-in.

3. Book the early bird specials

One piece of conventional wisdom holds true: If you're flying, book in advance. Airlines start releasing cheap fares approximately four months before departure especially in the low season.

4. Fly from less popular airports.

Research your flights and you can save a huge amount. Flying out of less popular airports can save you hundreds of dollars. Sign up for free loyalty programs to be notified of specials and frequent flyer points.

5. Drive trips can be made more affordable.

Travelling by car means accepting high petrol prices but you can still save, especially in Europe. Maintaining a speed of 80 - 95 km per hour on freeways gives the best petrol mileage. Properly inflated tyres improve fuel efficiency.

6. Travel off season.

Travelling off season means less crowds and cheaper prices. Its also a great time to bargain whether it be on a hotel room or car rental, it never hurts to ask.

7. Saving on Dining.

Eat during Happy Hour. You can often have free snacks served during happy hour so it’s not just the drinks which are cheaper.

8. Only receive calls on your mobile.

It’s much cheaper to receive calls than to make calls when using mobile roaming. Make sure you switch off your voicemail as the call will bounce backwards and forwards to Australia, and cost you an international roaming call to retrieve messages.

9. Picnic.

Buy food from grocery shops and delis and take them on a picnic. It’s a great way to sample the local produce and see the countryside.

10. Stay in a monastery!

B and Bs are often a great choice where you can have a substantial breakfast and skip lunch. Religious Institutions are another choice which can be inexpensive if somewhat spartan. Joining hotels loyalty programs will often lead to some great discounts and even free rooms.

About BackChat Mobile

BackChat Mobile offers the easiest solution for saving money when traveling. BackChat Mobile has deals with more than 400 carriers in over 130 countries to give clients the best price when using their mobile phones overseas. BackChat Mobile rates are up to 70% lower than with traditional mobile carriers and receiving calls is free in 50 countries.

This Australian based company offers one sim card for all countries. There are no roaming charges, free incoming calls in over 50 countries and its easy to use – just insert the GlobalSIM card into your phone.

i-to-i Presents the Meaning of Travel: ‘Be Part of It’

The folks at i-to-i have polled past travellers and distilled their wisdom and advice on the 'meaning of travel' - and they're sharing it in a short on-line video entitled 'Be Part of It'.

In the comical clip – in style, it's Barry White meets 'The Gods Must Be Crazy' - the new commandments of travel are delivered to travellers, advising them on how to make the most of their travel experience. The engaging message highlights that travel is all about changing environments, perspectives and views and that 'Being Part of It' – engaging in local culture and communities – makes it both more meaningful and more fun.

Advice ranges from, "Talking slowly and loudly to locals will not make them understand you better. It will only make you look stupid," to "Understand the true meaning of travel… give something back… done right, it can change lives. Forever."

i-to-i operates volunteer travel projects in 24 countries, where the emphasis is on 'meaningful travel' – having fun, while making a contribution to local communities or conservation projects.

The video is streamed on i-to-i's 'Be Part of It' website and will also be distributed on social networking sites including YouTube, Facebook and

Have a laugh and get the guru's advice at

For further information, visit or phone 1300 656 351.

Australians discover backyard in style

Australia’s largest owner and operator of holiday parks, Discovery Holiday Parks, is finding the increased economical squeeze on household budgets is causing a growing number of Australians to forgo overseas travel and discover their own backyard.

With a large number of Discovery Holiday Parks offering the modern conveniences of hotels and even resort-style features in some of the country’s most idyllic locations, holiday-makers no longer need to compromise comfort for cost.

Discovery Holiday Parks Chief Executive, Tim Dodds, said with budgets getting tighter, holiday parks were an excellent opportunity for families to escape the everyday humdrum and enjoy a carefree getaway.

“We provide a unique, friendly and memorable holiday experience in a safe, friendly environment with a strong community feel,” Tim said.

“A number of our holiday parks feature jumping pillows, swimming pools and other free children’s activities, that allow parents to relax and indulge in some personal time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings at only a fraction of the cost of what they would normally pay at hotels.”

Discovery Holiday Parks provide accommodation ranging from deluxe self-contained cabins to fully powered ensuite campsites in some of the nation’s most scenic locations, a large number of which are major tourism regions with easy access to beaches, national parks and local attractions.

The premier Discovery Holiday Parks include:

* Discovery Holiday Parks - Port Stephens, situated on Lemon Tree Passage, 2.5 hours outside of Sydney offers a tranquil retreat from their day-to-day life.
* Discovery Holiday Parks - Pambula Beach, is widely known as ‘the’ Victorian holiday destination, along with its relatively unknown secret sister Discovery Holiday Parks – Eden.
* Discovery Holiday Parks - Koombana Bay’s water front location is ideal for quiet nights on the veranda while taking in the stunning Western Australian sunsets.
* Discovery Holiday Parks – Robe, in South Australia, provides all year round holiday experiences with an indoor heated pool and access to cray pots so guests can sample the delectable fruits from the sea.
* Discovery Holiday Parks – Bowen on the waterfront at the gateway to the Whitsundays.

“A number of the cabins feature dishwashers and washing machines with some containing luxurious spas. Campers have access to the great camp kitchen facilities, that often double as the hub for evening activities and entertainment, as well as being the cause for many new-found friendships,” Tim said

With powered campsites starting at just $25 per night and standard cabins from $99 per night, Discovery Holiday Parks provide an attractive option for families, couples and grey nomads alike.

“Holiday parks are a long-standing Australian tradition that have moved with the times and now present an exceptional holiday experience,” said Tim,

“The holiday parks of today are able to cater for every taste and every budget and in today’s market that is something special,” he said.

For further information on Discovery Holiday Parks go to the website at

Front Row to Australia Day Celebrations

Captain Cook Cruises has released a two night Sydney Harbour Australia Day Cruise ensuring passengers have front row seats to all the action and celebrations of Australia Day. The cruise departs Sunday January 25 and returns Tuesday January 27.

The two night cruise, onboard small ship MV Captain Cook's Explorer, offers passengers a rare opportunity to be in the middle of the harbour for Australia Day and actually be part of all the festivities and action.

The cruise begins on Sunday night with the ship anchoring in Farm Cove. Passengers will be treated to a welcome dinner with the spectacular city lights of Sydney and the Sydney Opera House as the picturesque backdrop.

Monday passengers will enjoy a host of events and celebrations on Australia Day. Festivities include Australia Day Breakfast & Botanic Gardens walk, the annual Ferrython, Australia Day Harbour Parade featuring the magnificent tall ships, historic craft, working vessels, domestic boats and charter vessels, Australia Day Regatta and the Australia Defence Force Aerial Display. In the evening passengers will enjoy a special Australia Day gala dinner.

Tuesday offers the ultimate wind down with an early morning walk to Bradley's Head which offers spectacular views of the city, headlands and islands. MV Captain Cook's Explorer then cruises past the exclusive Eastern suburbs, home to Sydney's rich and famous, to get reach the beachside destination of Watson's Bay. As one of Sydney's most picturesque bays, passengers can relax at the beach or beachside outdoor pub or join a walk to the Southern headlands of `The Gap' before an al fresco luncheon on the boats top deck.

The special Australia Day Cruise starts from only $645 per person twin share and includes all accommodation, meals and most activities.

The cruise departs Sunday 25 January 2009 at 6.00pm from No.1 King St Wharf Darling Harbour with boarding from 5.00pm and disembarks at 3.00pm on Tuesday 27 January 2009.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1100, Email: or visit

Opulent Gourmet Festive Season at The Nam Hai

Stylish Christmas & New Year on Vietnam's Famous China Beach

(Hong Kong, October 22, 2008) - Vietnam's most exclusive oceanfront resort, The Nam Hai, is celebrating Christmas and New Year in decadent style with gala dinners of gastronomic cuisine and premium wines.

The 5-star spa resort starts a season of unsurpassed festive opulence from Christmas Eve, celebrated with mulled wine, stollen and mince pies with carols performed by The Da Nang Church Choir in The Bar and a surprise appearance by Santa to delight youngsters.

Christmas specials are served in The Restaurant, with the resident pianist performing live and a gala Vietnamese buffet is served at The Beach Restaurant priced at US$55++*.

Christmas Day features an exquisite festive dinner paired with prestige wines at US$175++* or US$130++* without wine. Appetiser of river king prawn tartare with caviar introduces the feast, matched with Prosecco Special Cuvee Zonin. Baby red mullet or Parma ham and grilled peach salad follows, with St. Hallett Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2007.

Main course choices are spice roasted organic goose or venison loin on braised root vegetables, with Terrazas, Alto Malbec 2006. Dessert is traditional Christmas pudding with Margan Botrytis Semillon 2006 or a selection of fine European cheeses served with Noval Tawny Port.

Alternatively, a Christmas gala buffet is served at the Beach Restaurant, priced at US$100++*, or US$145++* with free flowing house wine.

New Year's Eve starts in The Open Lounge, with a cocktail party hosted by The Nam Hai, followed by a gala dinner priced at US$175++*, or US$220++* paired with fine wines.

The menu is introduced with Tasmanian Oysters 'Martini' with champagne vinegar and caviar, matched with Taittinger,Brut Réserve NV. Next is seared sea scallop salad or Angus beef tartare with Green Point, Chardonnay 2005.

Main course is roasted lobster tail with pan-fried duck foie gras, or veal tenderloin, paired with Oyster Bay Marlborough Pinot Noir 2006. Dessert is Frangelico & Apricot Bombe Alaska with Varlhona white chocolate crème brulee and sugar roasted plums, with Margan Botrytis Semillon 2006, or Blue Stilton & Pont Leveque with toasted artisan breads, apple calvados jelly, grapes & date compote, served with Noval Tawny Port.

The resident pianist will perform guest's favourite songs throughout the evening along with a saxophonist. The Beach Restaurant alternatively features a gala buffet priced at US$115++* or US$160++* with a bottle of wine of guest's choice from the hotel's special selection.

ARB Band will entertain the guests with their live music and dancing through the night from late hours of 2008 until early hours of 2009.

Amid the unique culture of Central Vietnam, The Nam Hai is in landscaped tropical gardens overlooking the South China Sea, along a kilometre of famous China Beach, voted by Forbes magazine as one of the world's ten most beautiful beaches.   

Just 10 minutes away is picturesque Hoi An, an ancient 'Silk Route' trading port with a rich multi-cultural history and nostalgic streetscapes.

The Nam Hai is managed by GHM, one of the world's leading creators and operators of award-winning, distinctive luxury hotels and resorts, throughout Asia and the USA.

*All dishes are subject to 5% service charge and 10% government tax.

For more information on The Nam Hai Resort and for reservations, visit:

About General Hotel Management Ltd

Established in 1992, General Hotel Management Ltd (GHM) is a market leader in conceptualising, developing and operating an exclusive group of hotels and resorts worldwide. With a total of 14 properties in its portfolio and six more in the pipeline, GHM prides itself in providing guests with a distinctive lifestyle experience that is unrivalled. Every GHM resorts and hotels is one of a kind, possessing distinctive concepts and design elements.

GHM's portfolio of properties comprises The Setai, The Datai, The Saujana, The Legian, The Strand, The Nam Hai, Carcosa Seri Negara, The Andaman, The Chedi Club - Ubud, The Chedi - Milan, The Chedi - Muscat, The Chedi - Phuket and The Chedi - Chiang Mai. The Company also provides a full range of hotel management services. For more information about our company, please visit

The Nam Hai Bar overlooking three swimming pools towards idyllic China Beach

The Nam Hai Restaurant

The Nam Hai Pool Villa

South Australia Celebrates Festive Season with Perfect Climate in Great Outdoors

South Australia's near perfect climate with sunny days, long evenings and balmy nights in summertime "Downunder" makes it an ideal holiday getaway from Hong Kong and China for the Christmas, New Year and Chinese New Year festive holidays.

The Festive Season is celebrated in the great outdoors with fairs, colorful parades, pageants and picnics.

Nowhere are celebrations more spectacular than the State Capital, Adelaide, where festivities get underway with the annual "Christmas Pageant" on November 8.

As usual, the historic city streets come to a standstill as over 400,000 spectators witness one of the world's largest pageants featuring more than 70 floats, bands and walking sets. This year everyone joining the excitement can also lend a hand in a Guinness World Record attempt at the longest and largest "Mexican Wave".

The current world record was set earlier this year by 168,000 people in Bristol, USA.  With more than 300,000 people attending the pageant, hopes are high of breaking the record along the 6km route as "Adelaide waves to the world".

The 2008 Christmas Pageant is bigger and better than ever, with new floats such as Once Upon a Storybook and Flights of Fancy with Granny Flo and also a new Stardust Castle where Christmas wishes come true!

Christmas is also a time for South Australian's to enjoy the fresh local produce including cherries and strawberries from the Adeliade Hills, apricots, peaches and nectarines from the Riverland and fresh seafood from the Eyre Peninsula and Limestone Coast.

Picking your own strawberries at Beerenberg is a fun activity for family gatherings during the Christmas period and at the farm store you can taste new products as soon as they are released; and jams and condiments from the Farmer's Choice range, are available for purchase.

The Adelaide Hills Cherry Trail also gives you the opportunity to pick your own fresh local cherries, just a short drive from Adelaide. The South Australian cherry season is November to January, with a peak in December which is just perfect for Christmas. Many of these orchards grow more than just cherries. You may find figs, raspberries, apples, plums, apricots and all sorts of jams and preserves there.

For a truly Australian Christmas feast, stock up on the best local seafood from the Adelaide Central Market.  Seafood such as lobster, oysters, prawns, whiting and marron are also in season, making seafood dinners as popular as traditional roast turkey over the festive season.

To explore Australia's food and wine capital, the "Gourmet Tour of Markets & Boutique Wineries" is a unique experience that combines two of South Australia's most significant icons - the famous Adelaide Central Market and the Barossa Wine region, offering a truly exciting food and wine touring experience.

This superb day unfolds with an early start, taste your way through the Adelaide Central Market. Sit back and relax as you enjoy the scenic drive to the Barossa to savour wines of distinction at the best of the regions boutique style wineries. A tour of historic Seppelt Winery culminates in a tutored private tasting and sip of a rare 100 year old port.

Christmas for South Australians is also a time to head for the beach. Adelaide itself boasts more than 30 kilometres of unspoiled sandy beaches with the popular seaside suburb of Glenelg just a 20-minute tram ride from the city centre. In Glenelg, swimming with wild dolphins is one of the best ways to enjoy the Aussie summer.

To satisfy some serious retail therapy, high-end shopping strips and legendary niche businesses offer something perfect for everyone, from iconic chocolatier, Haighs ( and the beauty hub of Jurlique, famed for turning organic herbs from the Adelaide Hills into a range of divine beauty products (, to legendary outback fitter, R.M. Williams (, and the JamFactory with its awe-inspiring collection of art design, glassware and handcrafted jewellery (

After a day's worth of shopping, head out to one of Adelaide's famed wine bars or cocktail lounges. Described as the most elegant wine bar in Adelaide, The Apothecary 1878 boasts an extraordinary range of wines and quality champagnes, complemented with an upmarket menu inspired by Italian cuisine. An historic feel is carried throughout with rich velvet carpet, mahogany cabinets and imported chandeliers.

For more information about the many Christmas and New Year events and attractions in South Australia, please visit:

AWM: Advancing to Victory

The Australian War Memorial will display the 'sponson' (or side turret) of a Mark IV tank and Lieutenant George Ingram's Victoria Cross for the first time in a new exhibition, Advancing to Victory, 1918 which opens to the public tomorrow.

"The exhibition provides a timeline of the major battles of 1918 - the battles of Villers-Bretonneux, Hamel, Amiens and Mont St Quentin, and the Allies final advances to victory including the breaking of the Hindenburg Line," said Exhibition Curator Peter Burness.

"We have used large objects and works of art to help visitors understand the events of 1918. It's a very important exhibition, with the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War on 11 November this year.

"Keay features include the sponson of a Mark IV tank to demonstrate the dangerous and cramped conditions inside early tanks, an 18-pounder field gun with its limber and large works of art including Will Longstaff's Night attack by 13th Brigade on Villers-Bretonneux, which is on display for the first time in the exhibition.

"The Armistice on 11 November is also included, which was a time of mixed emotions. Everyone was relieved and joyous that the Great War was finally over, but for many families there was an incredible sadness for their lost family members, whose names are listed on the Memorial's Roll of Honour," Mr Burness said.

Lieutenant Ingram received his Victoria Cross for actions in 1918 at Montbrehain in France and was last AIF member to be awarded a Victoria Cross during the First World War. It was purchased at auction by an anonymous bidder on 27 May 2008 and recently donated to the Memorial.

The Memorial's YouTube site shows a video of conservators removing the tank's sponson for the first time since 1918, especially for the exhibition.

Advancing to victory.1918 is the fourth and final in a sequence of First World War anniversary exhibitions presented by the Memorial. It opens on 24 October 2008 and runs until 11 February 2009. Entry is free.

This exhibition will be opened by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Hon Alan Griffin MP and is sponsored by the Australian Government and Thales.


SeaDream Yacht Club's mega motor-cruisers SeaDream I and SeaDream II have been named World's Best 5-star ships in the just-released 2009 edition of cruise industry 'bible' Berlitz Guide to Ocean Cruising and Cruise Ships.

The only ship given a higher rating was Europa that is operated primarily for the German-speaking market and which scored 5-Stars-Plus.

Author of the Berlitz Guide, Douglas Ward said: "The two SeaDream ships really are the ultimate exclusive boutique vessels for sophisticated, independent and well-travelled couples – like having your own private yacht in which hospitality, anticipation and personal recognition are an art form practiced to a high level.

"Culinary excellence prevails… the freshest and finest quality ingredients  are used in the best culinary artistry, with fine, unhurried European service."

SeaDream I and SeaDream II, that each carries just fifty-five couples served by 95 crew, topped the Berlitz Five Star Club's field of twenty contenders.

Company President, CEO and Co-owner, Larry Pimentel said the Berlitz recognition was an amazing honour for the company, which had been recognised by the Guide every year since SeaDream's inception in 2001.

"It is an honour due to a total team effort, not only shipboard officers and staff, but also our colleagues in all our offices ashore," Mr Pimentel said.

For information about SeaDream Yacht Club's sailings in the Mediterranean from April to October each year, and in the Caribbean from November to March see travel agents or log onto

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Travel etiquette for the travel-wise

While some local customs and laws might at times seem absurd to the foreign traveller, understanding other cultures in terms of what is acceptable behaviour and what might be illegal or taboo is of great importance when travelling.

According to TM, operated by Expedia, Inc., the world’s leading online travel company, knowing the local rules and customs of a travel destination will not only help you stay out of trouble when travelling, and avoid potential embarrassment or offence, but it can also open doors to unique and rewarding travel experiences.

With destinations across the Middle East, Africa and Asia becoming more popular with Australian travellers – and with customs and laws in these countries often being considerably different from the West – being aware of local practices and mores is increasingly important.

Arthur Hoffman, Managing Director Expedia Asia Pacific, says: “While Australian travellers are generally respectful of the cultures and laws of the countries they travel to, be mindful that what may be polite and normal in one culture may shock and offend another. Therefore, it is important to be knowledgeable and savvy about the local laws and cultural practices of the location one is travelling to.”

Mr Hoffman also advises that, when travelling abroad, Australians should also be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear severe by Australian standards, do apply to foreigners. For instance, in some countries, penalties for drug offences and homosexual acts may incur lengthy prison sentences, corporal punishment or even carry the death penalty. He pointed out that it was important to bear in mind that Sharia (Islamic) law is still heavily enforced in some Islamic countries, while taking photographs of local people, particularly women and children, is also illegal in some countries.

“Remember the proverb: ‘Forewarned is fore-armed’. Travellers should take time to research the destinations they are travelling to, consult traveller review sites such as TripAdvisor® for helpful tips on how to behave, and be particularly mindful of advice relating to local. At the very least, it will prevent you from causing offence to the local and embarrassment to yourself; at the most, it could save you from a very unpleasant brush with the law,” Mr Hoffman concluded.

Avoiding offence: some intriguing local customs to be mindful of:

· In many Muslim countries, in particular those in the Arabian Gulf, public displays of affection, including holding hands, cuddling and kissing can be punishable by law. Women, including foreign visitors, are also required to dress modestly, including covering their head with a scarf. It is also considered rude showing the soles of your shoes or feet to others, and is advisable to accept something with your right hand. Be particularly observant of the local practice regarding drinking and eating during the holy month of Ramadan.

· In Bali, touching someone on the head is taboo, as it is regarded by Hindus as the abode of the soul and is therefore sacred.

· In India, leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that you are satisfied. Finishing all your food means that you are still hungry.

· In Singapore, failure to flush a public toilet after use may result in very hefty fines of up to US$150. This also applies to littering, smoking or spitting in the street.

· In Egypt, expect to be offered coffee or tea whenever you meet someone, as this demonstrates hospitality. Even if you do not take a sip, always accept the beverage, as declining the offer is viewed as rejecting the person.

· In Fiji, entry into many traditional villages will require the permission of the village chief. Should permission be granted, you will be welcomed in a small traditional ceremony, which usually involves speaking with the Chief.

· In Iran, the "thumbs up" gesture is considered an offensive insult.

· In Japan, it is illegal to wear purple unless you are in mourning.

· In Italy, travellers should be aware that no shorts or sleeveless dresses or shirts are allowed when visiting significant holy places, like the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.

· In Indonesia, it is illegal to carry the pungent smelling Durian fruit on any public transport or in hotels.

For excellent travel deals and a great travel experience visit

Enjoy Costa Rica and the Panama Canal on Windstar

Discover the Natural Wonders of Beautiful Destinations by Luxury Ship

Windstar Cruises and Travel the World invite you to experience Costa Rica’s lush jungles, pristine beaches and abundant wildlife as well as the legendary Panama Canal.

Travellers on Windstar Cruises, which operates a fleet of three motor sailing yachts that explore the world’s most treasured destinations, can choose from 13 7-day roundtrips from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica aboard msy Wind Star from December 2008 to March 2009.

A range of ports is included in the 7-day sailing from Puerto Caldera, including Playas del Coco, Quepos, Bahía Drake, Curu and Tortuga Island in Costa Rica and San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua.

Extend your journey and visit the Panama Canal as msy Wind Star sails a 14-day itinerary on 29 November 08. Guests depart Barbados and cruise to Puerto Caldera visiting Bequia, The Grenadines; Charlotteville, Tobago; Isla Margarita, Venezuela; Kralendijk, Bonaire; Oranjestad, Aruba; and San Blas Islands, Panama.

Two new shore excursions are available on Windstar’s 14-day cruise through the Panama Canal. In Isla de Margarita, a new 4-Wheel Drive Highlights and Beach Tour is offered where guests travel across the island’s arid landscape to the mountains en route to the village of El Valle. Also included is a short hike through a cloud forest, a drive to the capital city of Las Asunción to see Bolívar Square and the cathedral and a beach stop.

In Kralendijk, an ATV Off-Road Adventure is offered which explores the east coast of Bonaire and the Washikemba Reservoir area’s rugged terrain complete with wild donkeys, goats and iguanas. Guests also visit Spelonk Lighthouse, take a refreshing dip in a natural lava rock Jacuzzi and stop at Suplado Blowhole.

Windstar has been a leader in the small ship luxury cruise market for the past 20 years and won support from a new generation of contemporary travellers who enjoy the line’s luxurious accommodation, rich mix of shore excursions, water sports program and deluxe spa facilities.

Cruise fares start at US$2,049 per person, twin share on the 7-day sailing and US$3,799 per person, twin share on the 14-day sailing.

For further information or to make a booking with Windstar, contact Travel the World on 1300 766 566 or visit the website

Exclusive private members club KEE Shanghai is now open

(Shanghai, October 21, 2008) The highly anticipated KEE Shanghai – the first overseas branch of the famous Hong Kong private members club that counts celebrities and royalty among its habituees - has now opened its doors to Shanghai society.

KEE Shanghai will offer the same unique "salon" and dining environment that has proved such a huge success in Hong Kong, drawing a chic local and international following, which includes members of royal families, heads of state, renowned film directors and celebrities. International celebrity visitors include Jude Law, Mick Jagger, Ron Wood, Michael Jordan, Sting and Asian celebrities Michelle Yeo, Chau Yun Fat, Maggie Q, Wong Kar Wai and Hidetoshi Nakata.

Elegantly located behind the grand stone entrance and cast iron gates of 796 Huai Hai Rd, past a beautifully cultivated garden, KEE Shanghai discreetly resides in the striking 1920s heritage maison Twin Villas, a location it shares with the Richemont Shanghai headquarters, sitting above the flagship stores for China of distinguished brands such as Alfred Dunhill and Vacheron Constantin.

Stunning wooden staircases lead up to the club as sunlight streams through original stained-glass windows. Inside are all-wood floors, high ceilings, French windows and tiled balconies. KEE Shanghai 's European lounge salon style interior offers a relaxed, intimate and cultured ambiance for drinking and dining, and its beautiful setting makes it the perfect location for events, ranging from exhibitions to fashion shows to business meetings or parties.

Visitors to the restaurant and lounge bar will encounter excellent service while being surrounded by a personal collection of elegant antique and designer furniture.  Fine art adorns the walls and the diverse collection personally selected by KEE founders Christian and Maria Rhomberg includes exclusive pieces by specially commissioned artists.

The club's restaurant is set to become one of the top fine dining establishments in the whole of China.  Dining at KEE is a sophisticated experience.  Patrons are invited to indulge in a contemporary French Mediterranean menu. Lunch and intimate afternoon teas and brunches are also available on the lawn at weekends. 

KEE Shanghai's head chef Willaim Mahi has worked in the kitchens of such culinary superstars as Nicolas Le Bec, Stephane Gaborueau and Christian Tetedoie in Lyon, and Helen Darroze and Alain Ducasse in Paris.  Maria and Christian Rhomberg searched for a young, dynamic and creative chef such as William who presents food in a modern way and sources the finest organic, local and international ingredients.

To accompany the fine dining menu the exquisite club has a vast drinks menu including an extensive sprits selection, a signature cocktail menu and over 200 wines chosen by French sommelier Francois Loretz who has worked for establishments such as the 3 Michelin Star La Tour D'Argent and Alain Ducasse in Paris.

KEE Shanghai caters for the most exclusive and innovative corporate functions in its secluded outdoor garden and private salons (The Library and The Golden Room) on the third floor of Twin Villas. In addition, The Dunhill Salon & Vancheron Constantin Salon on the fourth floor are larger private dining rooms themed in the style of each luxury brand, and are available for private events.

Membership to KEE Shanghai is now available at 9,000RMB per year including a spouse card and includes two visits to KEE Hong Kong. For Joint membership of both KEE Shanghai and KEE Hong Kong is also available for 12,000RMB per year. For membership enquiries please contact Maggie Wu on (86-21) 3395 0888

KEE Shanghai is located at 796 Huai Hai Road Middle, Shanghai 200020, in the heart of the city's business, shopping and entertainment area. For reservations please call +86 21 3395 0888 or email  For more information on KEE visit



OFF the beaten track travel company, Far Horizons has a holiday for the more adventurous next April that includes nine days in Iraq…

But it's not the searingly-hot, war-torn moonscape of Iraq seen on nightly television, rather the northern region of the country that is lush and green with snow-capped mountains – and with its own semi-autonomous regional government and parliament, military, flag, language and culture.

And Iraqi Kurdistan is the only region of Iraq officially recognised internation-ally as an autonomous federal entity, is developing international-standard hotels and is welcoming to the Western visitors it is encouraging to its region.

Far Horizons' visit will be part of a 24-day fully-escorted tour by air and road  of Turkish and Iraqi Kurdistan, and will include a Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul, ancient castles, boating on a picturesque mountain lake, museums, historic picture-book towns and villages, and a fascinating cave temple; there are stays of 2- and 3-nights in some cities to take-in all that's rare to their areas.

South Australia's Martin Wright who founded Far Horizons in 1976 is visiting Iraqi Kurdistan this month to meet with the region's Minister of the Interior and local tourism operators.

To register interest in this unusual April 2009 tour and to receive a brochure and prices when they are released shortly, phone 1800 083 141 or visit

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

2008 Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards Winners

Cruise Critic's editorial team is pleased to bring you the 2008 Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards. We've combined our cruising expertise to come up with a list of cruise lines that offer a superior cruising experience in a variety of categories. Now we're honoring those lines with our best-in-class awards. Please join us in saying a heartfelt "thank you" to all the cruise lines that have gone above and beyond industry standards to make vacations at sea so wonderful!

If you want nothing but the best on your next cruise, check out our list of the 2008 best cruise lines.

Cruising’s Best

Best Family Cruise Ships – Royal Caribbean International
Best Luxury Cruise Ships – Crystal Cruises
Best Dining – Oceania Cruises
Best for Romance – Princess Cruises
Best Spa and Fitness – Royal Caribbean International
Best Cabins – Holland America Line
Best Value for Money – Carnival Cruise Lines
Best Itineraries – Azamara Cruises
Best Entertainment – Norwegian Cruise Line
Best Shore Excursions – Carnival Cruise Lines

Best Family Cruises

Best Kids’ Programs – Disney Cruise Line
Best Teen Programs – Royal Caribbean International
Best Multi-Generational – Princess Cruises – Grand Class

Best Luxury Cruises

Best Luxury Dining – Crystal Cruises
Best Luxury Service – SeaDream Yacht Club
Best Luxury Staterooms – Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best Dining

Best Main Restaurant – Carnival Cruise Lines – Conquest Class
Best Specialty Restaurants – Oceania Cruises
Best Healthful & Alternative Dining – Celebrity Cruises

Best for Romance

Best for Honeymoons – Windstar Cruises
Best for Weddings – Princess Cruises
Best for Couples – Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Paul Gauguin

Best Spa, Recreation and Fitness

Best Pool Deck – Royal Caribbean International – Voyager/Freedom Classes
Best for Fitness Enthusiasts – Royal Caribbean International
Best Spas – Costa Cruises' Samsara Spa – Concordia Class

Best Cabins

Best Standard Staterooms – Holland America Line – Signature Class
Best Suites – Norwegian Cruise Line – Jewel Class
Best Family Cabins – Disney Cruise Line

2009 UNESCO World Heritage Desk Diary Published

The UNESCO World Heritage Desk Diary 2009 has just been published. Featuring a useful week-at-a-glance design, it is illustrated with 79 colour photos of World Heritage sites, each accompanied with a short caption. It also introduces the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage; its objectives, the selection criteria, the institutions which ensure its implementation, as well as the list of States Parties that are signatories to the Convention. All texts are in English, French and Spanish. To order, visit the UNESCO Publishing website.

Sea Kayak Adventures from the Pacific to the Polar Regions

Southern Sea Ventures has released a 2009 brochure packed with sea kayaking holidays. From the palm-fringed white sandy beaches of Fiji, Tonga and Papua New Guinea, to the ethereal beauty of towering icebergs in Greenland and Antarctica.

Four new trips for 2009 include two new itineraries on the sun-soaked Dalmatian coast of Central Europe. The 'Dolphin Trail' paddles in the first reserve for dolphins in the Adriatic, exploring hidden coves, caves and cliffs. The 10-day trip departs in May 09 and costs US$2195. The 'Kornati' Explorer winds through the labyrinth of the Kornati Islands archipelago, taking time out for coastal treks and a daily snorkel. The 9-day trip departs in May and Sept and costs US$2045.

"Arctic Dreams' is a new 20 day polar adventure combining Iceland, Greenland, Spitsbergen and Norway. Be prepared for massive icebergs, stunning fjords and spectacular wildlife including polar bears, walrus and seals. Departs Aug 5 and costs from US$11,680 depending on the cabin chosen.

For a trip without boundaries, the "Bering Strait and Wrangel Island" in the Russian Arctic, will suit the modern day explorer with a penchant to paddle where few have been before! Wrangel Island is the ultimate nature reserve, alive with snow geese, muskox, polar bear, arctic wolves and huge seabird colonies. Departs Aug 6 and costs from US$6465 depending on cabin.

Some extra features have been added to the popular Fiji Yasawas trip, (with an extra paddling day in 2009), such as a special family departure and new group and private departure options.

For details on all sea kayak adventures call Southern Sea Ventures on +61 2 8901 3287 or email

The 2009 Southern Sea Ventures Sea Kayaking Tours brochure can be downloaded from the website (1.9mb)


Pain can be a thing of the past for Australians travelling overseas and needing vaccinations as emla, a topical anaesthetic, is now approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for use prior to vaccinations for people of all ages1.

When visiting certain parts of the world, travellers often require a number of vaccination injections to protect against viruses and diseases such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid and rabies.

emla, an effective topical anaesthetic, can help ease the pain associated with these injections by numbing the area before needle insertion1.

Julie, 28-years-old, is relieved that a product like emla is available in Australia.

“When planning an overseas trip, the last thing you want to think about are painful vaccinations you need to protect yourself against potentially dangerous viruses and diseases”.

“It is great that emla is available to ease the pain of vaccinations and provide some comfort and relief,” Julie said.

Dr Piazza, a Sydney-based general practitioner, believes pain has not only physical but emotional and psychological aspects to it, and international research shows that 10 percent of people have needle phobia2.

“Until now, many people avoided certain procedures because of the pain associated with that procedure,” Dr Piazza said. “Importantly, emla can help to minimise the number of people not completing their vaccination schedules3.”

Dr Piazza said that while this is good news for travellers, the benefits are far greater with many Australians now able to avoid needle pain.

“emla can help soothe the pain for teenagers receiving vaccinations through the school National Immunisation Program and those undergoing blood testing and a range of minor surgical and cosmetic procedures including hair removal, waxing, laser and Intense Pulsed Light (ILP) treatments, dermabrasion, piercings, removal of warts, moles, skin cancers and skin tags, tattooing, and tattoo removal1,” he said.

emla should be applied 60 minutes prior to the procedure and can be left on for up to five hours for adults and four hours for children. emla is effective for up to two hours after removing the cream or patch1.

emla was recently approved by the TGA for use in all age groups including full term babies 0-6 months, prior to vaccinations, genital skin procedures and in adults before various minor cosmetic procedures, such as hair removal including waxing, laser and IPL treatments1.

emla is available without a prescription from pharmacies as a patch for needles and anaesthesia of small areas, or cream for use in superficial skin surgery and anaesthesia of larger areas1.

emla has been used by more than 200 million people worldwide4.

For more information about emla see your pharmacist and visit or call 1800 805 342.

Monday, 20 October 2008

2009 Friars Guide To New Zealand Accommodation

For the Discerning Traveller

2009,14th Edition

John & Lois Allen

20 November, Hodder Moa, $39.99, original paperback

The Friars Accommodation Guide quickly established a reputation as a beautiful handbook of top-class accommodation throughout New Zealand, complete with full colour photographs of the venues and descriptive text of special features and amenities.

Now in their 14th year of publication, the Friars Guide continues to offer the discerning traveller reliable information on the best places to stay in New Zealand.

Featuring top of the range bed and breakfast and self-contained accommodation, along with the best accommodation offering fine dining, this guide is the definitive reference to top New Zealand accommodation.

  • Bed and breakfast and fine dinning accommodation.
  • Each venue is photographed in full colour.
  • Full description of services and amenities.
  • Accommodation that is personally selected and recommended by the Allens.

Homecoming 09 - whisky!


With Homecoming Scotland 2009 fast approaching, a 'come to the home of whisky in 2009' is one of themes that will be featured focusing on the Isle of Skye. A programme of hundreds of Homecoming festivals and events will take place in 2009 from Burns Night in January until St Andrews Day in November right across Scotland. These include Whisky Month in May followed by Whisky Week, running across Scotland between October 30th and November 6th.

VisitScotland Regional Director, Scott Armstrong, said: "This is a perfect opportunity to promote Skye to hundreds and thousands of potential visitors. In addition to its famous whisky distillery, Talisker, ( the area is full of culture and history which will please every type of visitor whatever their taste".

Whisky was the drink of choice in the Highlands from very early times, distilled for the chiefs and clansfolk alike. Whisky making on a small scale was widely practiced, with illegal stills only disappearing (probably!) after the legislation introduced in 1823. This ushered in the modern era of distilling with malt whisky becoming a flagship quality product and an important export for Scotland. Today, Scotland's whiskies are as varied and as characterful as its scenery. An events programme for 2009, which includes festivals and tutored tastings, explores the relationship between the landscape and Scotland's national drink.

Here are some facts on whisky in Scotland:

· There are two main types - malt and grain. Malt whisky, which connoisseurs claim has a more sophisticated flavour and bouquet and also more prestige, is made with malted barley. Grain whisky also contains malted barley, with unmalted barley and maize. Both types are used in the whisky blending process.

· Malt whiskies are sometimes classified into four main types: Highland, Lowland, Islay (from the island) and Campbeltown (meaning from the Mull of Kintyre). Even simpler is to think of two main categories: the malt whisky made in the east and north of Scotland, e.g. Speyside, which tend to be lighter or 'sweeter' than the other main area - island or western malts which often have an easily recognisable taste of peat-smoke.

· The Malt Whisky Trail is a unique signposted route through the valley of the River Spey. This takes in the main themes of whisky making, by way of seven working distilleries, one preserved distillery and a cooperage or barrel-maker.

· The Angels' Share. This is the name given to the drop in volume that occurs when whisky is maturing in barrels. More prosaically, it occurs because of evaporation through the wood and amounts to around 2% of the volume per year of storage.

· May 2009 – Whisky Month. From a tasting session at The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh, to a three day whisky course in Fife, there are a range of ways to sample Scotland's national drink, with the varied events across Scotland focused on this month.

· Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Celebrate whisky, music, food and fun at the biggest ever Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival. Enjoy 10 days of unique events throughout Speyside's stunning scenery. Includes the Festival's Speyside Salute - a dramatic musical celebration of Speyside's heritage and traditions. 1-10 May, 2009.

· Spirit of the West. The rugged seaboard along the Whisky Coast trail is dramatic and magical. New for 2009, Spirit of the West showcases the very fabric of that coastline with its 16 distilleries. Join us at Inveraray Castle for whisky tastings, battle enactments and storytelling. 16/17 May, 2009.

· Whisky Galore Festival. The first ever on the beautiful island of Barra. Launching in Kisimul Castle, an exciting weekend is planned. Take part in the hunt for whisky on the island where the 1949 movie 'Whisky Galore' was filmed (released as 'Tight Little Island in the USA); enjoy the craic with the locals; or take part in the golf tournament. 18-20 September, 2009.

Further information can be found on

Helen Wong's Cambodia and Vietnam Odyssey

Australia's leading holiday specialists, Helen Wong's Tours, presents the complete travel odyssey – Cambodia and Vietnam.

From the history of Cambodia's past, embark on a journey that transports you to ancient lands, bustling river communities, big cities, charming old towns and the dramatic scenic beauty of Halong Bay.

Discover the wonders of ancient temples, bustling market towns, Royal Palaces, floating markets and life in Cambodian and Vietnam villages meeting locals and sampling the culinary delights of local food.

The tour last 15 days with prices starting at AUD$5,770 based on twin share per person to include economy flights to and from Australia, internal flights, accommodation in four and five star hotels throughout the tour, a personal English speaking guide, all transfers, entrance fees to attractions, visas and a travel kit and cabin bag. All tours are operated exclusively as Helen Wong's Tours groups so passengers are NOT just a member of a combined group of tourists from various countries joining a daily circuit of the sights.

This tour includes 'unparalleled highlights' such as:

Siam Reap – a 10 minute tethered hot air balloon ride for a spectacular view of the UNESCO's World Heritage site of Angkor Wat; a welcome drink at McDermott Gallery with transfers by Tuk Tuk (rickshaws); dinner at the famous Foreign Correspondents Club.

Saigon –visit the home of Duc Dau for a traditional music performance, dinner at 'Le Caprice' (the French Colonial Restaurant), cocktail reception at the Sheraton Rooftop 'Floor 23'.

Hoi An – watch the preparation of traditional "pho" noodles making at a local restaurant.

Hanoi – Lunch at 'KOTO' Restaurant operated by Jimmy Phan who provides a hospitality programme for street kids; cooking class at the renowned Sofitel Metropole Cooking School with lunch at the Spice Garden Restaurant to sample the prepared dishes; welcome drink at an artist gallery and farewell dinner at the 'Vine Restaurant'.

Managing Director of Helen Wong's Tours, Ms Helen Wong said: " In the early stages of planning, our aim was to create a programme that was 'a little different' from other tours. We have included 5 star hotels and 'unparalleled highlights'. This offers our clients the unique opportunities that allow them to experience the cuisine, culture, history and beauty of the regions on a more personal level".

Information: Helen Wong's Tours, tel: +61(02) 9267 7833, web:
Reservations: Tel: (aus only)1300 788328, email:

Negotiating The Exchange Rates Snare

- with immediate comparison and purchase power in 14 different currencies

Freefalling economies and turbulent world currency exchange rates present a real challenge to travellers who book online. Travellers can take comfort from the certainty offered by online booking operator -

To the consumer this means 'what you see is what you get' and there are no subsequent surprises when the credit card charge is reconciled against the exchange rate of the day.

The organisation provides hotel bookings available in 14 different currencies which are updated by its in-house treasury department each day.

Managing Director of HotelClub, Ms Chloe Lim, says, "Our big point of difference over most other operators' currency exchange is that we can display and charge in their currency of choice.

"For example, an Australian traveller who wants to book a hotel room in Thailand can choose their hotel and display the cost of their accommodation in $AUD, $US or £GBP or from 11 other currencies.

"This option allows them to price-compare before paying for their booking and to be charged the exact amount in their nominated currency. We believe this is unique in the travel industry and with the fluctuating markets, a crucial tool for travellers."

Currency will be a factor in maximising the impact of Tourism Australia's $A40 million advertising campaign around the Baz Luhrmann's 'Australia' movie blockbuster according to Ms Lim, "Like the rest of the industry, we are optimistic about the potential for Luhrmann's film to boost local tourism.  And, if the US dollar continues to be stronger than the Australian dollar, we can expect that to influence numbers of visitors from the States."

An Australia movie promo received an enthusiastic greeting when previewed to 300 hotel operators at HotelClub's industry awards in Sydney last month.

About HotelClub

HotelClub is a global accommodation specialist operating the following websites: - bookings up to 12 months in advance and – bookings up to 28 days in advance. HotelClub offers users the choice of over 45,000 hotels in over 120 countries worldwide. HotelClub is available in fourteen languages – Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Thai. HotelClub is truly global offering its customers access through country specific websites. HotelClub is part of Orbitz Worldwide.

Emirates tracks Australian cricket team travels online

Emirates, the official airline of Cricket Australia, today launched an online team tracker that allows cricket fans to map the international and domestic travel of the Australian players.
Available on the official Cricket Australia website, the interactive map details the journeys of the team for the past 18 months and will be updated as the Australian players continue their travels with Emirates, competing in international games around the world.
Australian Cricket Captain Ricky Ponting said: "You'll not only be able to watch the team travel from city to city, country to country, but also see the results of the matches as they appear.
"It's a good thing the team gets to travel in comfort with Emirates when travelling overseas given how many kilometres the team covers each year. The Emirates Cricket Australia Team Tracker also allows us to look back and reflect on our extensive journeys and results as well," he added.
Since November 2006, the team has travelled 165,128 kilometres to the Caribbean, South Africa, India and across Australia.
Stephen Pearse, Emirates' Australian Vice President said: "The Emirates Cricket Australia Team Tracker is a fun and interactive way for the fans to keep in touch with how far the team is travelling with Emirates overseas and their ongoing results in international tournaments and games.
"We are proud sponsors of the Australian team and look forward to hosting the players on their return from the current Indian tour and across to England in 2009 for the Ashes series."
Emirates became the Official Airline of the Australian cricket team prior to the first Ashes test in November 2006. The partnership allows the Australian team to travel in unparalleled comfort and style when playing abroad, boosting their levels of preparedness to help maintain the success they have achieved on the world stage.
Emirates were also the major sponsor of the successful Australian cricket team at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.
About Emirates sport sponsorships:
Emirates is one of the leading sponsors of sport around the world, with a portfolio that includes three world cups, Rugby World Cup 2011, FIFA World Cup 2010 ™ and ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
In Australia, Emirates is the title sponsor of the Emirates Melbourne Cup and sponsor of the Melbourne Cup Carnival; and a partner of the Australian Jockey Club's Autumn and Spring Carnivals. Other sponsorships include the Australian PGA on the Sunshine Coast, Emirates Western Force and the Collingwood Football Club.
Along with being the Official Airline to Cricket Australia, Emirates' involvement in the sport of cricket also includes the sponsorship of the ICC Umpires.
About Emirates:
Since its launch in 1985, Emirates Airline has received more than 400 international awards in recognition of its efforts to provide unsurpassed levels of customer service.
Emirates is the world's third most profitable and among the 20 largest international airlines and one of the fastest-growing. It is based in Dubai, one of the few cities in the world that pursues an open-skies policy, with more than 130 airlines in free and fair competition.
Emirates global network now features services to 101 cities in 61 countries in Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian subcontinent and Asia-Pacific. Emirates launched new flights to Cape Town on 30th March as well as Guangzhou and Kozhikode on 1st July. Further new destinations announced for 2008 include Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In November 2007 Emirates confirmed Australia's status as a premier trade and tourism destination by announcing its flights to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney would grow to 70 a week by 2009.
Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney will all receive additional flights, new aircraft and capacity representing a multi-billion dollar commitment to the Australian market involving the newest, most luxurious and greenest aircraft in the sky.
Emirates currently operate 49 flights per week from Australia to Dubai, including double-daily services from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. One service daily from Sydney operates via Bangkok while one service daily from Melbourne operates via Singapore. Brisbane operates daily flights to Dubai via Singapore. In early 2009, Melbourne will commence a third-daily service while Brisbane will commence a twice-daily service, direct to Dubai. These additional flights will be serviced by a state-of-the-art Airbus A340-500.
Emirates operate 28 flights per week into New Zealand - daily into Christchurch from Sydney and thrice daily into Auckland from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 
For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or

Sunday, 19 October 2008


Fun and fabulous musical packages at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins

17 OCTOBER 2008: Feel like doing the time warp again? This time, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins Street is serving up our favourite rock'n'roll musical – Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show - with a likeable luxury twist.

To celebrate the Rocky Horror Show now playing at the Comedy Theatre, Sofitel is offering a Sofitel Melbourne on Collins Hotel & Show package priced from $519* per room per night. The package includes overnight accommodation and 2 'A' Reserve seats to the Rocky Horror Show.

To get in the 'Rocky' mood, hotel guests are also invited to experience Sofitel's specially created 'sweet-transvestite' inspired cocktail menu perfect for pre or post show drinks at Sofitel's Atrium Bar on 35 - a haven for connoisseurs of wine, beer and innovative cocktails that is open from 5pm until late every night.

Sofitel's mixologists have shaken and stirred three new themed cocktails for theatre-goers priced at just $16.

Satanic Mechanic…Dr Frank N Furter's own manic martini of Bacardi, strawberry liqueur, fresh strawberries, cranberry juice and lime .
Touch Me…Thrill, Chill and Fulfil with a mix of vodka, strawberry liqueur, chocolate liqueur, strawberry purée and cream.
Time Warp… Take a jump to the left into a mix of blue Curacao, lychee liqueur and sparkling wine.

One of the world's most popular musicals, the Rocky Horror Picture Show first debuted in London in 1973 and has since thrilled audiences across the world with classic songs including "I'm Just a Sweet Transvestite", "Damn It Janet", "I Can Make You A Man", "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me", "Over At The Frankenstein Place" and of course iconic "Time Warp".

Sofitel Melbourne on Collins Rocky Horror Package is available for sale until the end of the end of the show season (date has not been announced by expected to be early 2009) To book call 1300 306 341.

Theatre lovers can also take advantage of Sofitel Melbourne on Collins' WICKED MUSICAL packages which will transport you back to the land of Oz while enjoying the delights of Melbourne. The offer includes 'A' Reserve tickets to WICKED and overnight accommodation for 2 people from just $257.50 per person (twin share) per night. To book visit or phone 1300 WICKED (1300 942 533).

Sofitel Melbourne on Collins is located at the Paris end of Collins Street, in the heart of the city's premier shopping, dining and theatre district. This award-winning hotel offers 363 luxuriously appointed rooms, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views across the city skyline. For information about the hotel, visit

* Terms and conditions apply. Subject to change and availability. Please check with the hotel direct for full T&Cs

Sofitel: re-inventing French elegance in luxury hotels

Sofitel creates unique luxury hotels in the world's most attractive destinations, by the artful blending of its French origins with the very best of local cultures. Sofitel forges a privileged bond between its staff of devoted service professionals and its cosmopolitan guests who expect and appreciate beauty, quality and excellence. Sofitel offers the best of French elegance, from food and wine rituals to bedding, design and personal care products. Hotels where life can be savoured, shared with others, lived in harmony with oneself; transforming every stay into a unique and unforgettable experience.

The Sofitel brand portfolio will offer clear and attractive options adapted to today's more demanding and more versatile consumers.

§ Sofitel Legend: a collection of legendary luxury properties, defining a renewed way of living heritage and palace hotels for inner luxury driven travelers.

§ Sofitel: World-class hotels, with French elegance, blending relationships and pleasures for today's discerning travelers in the upper-upscale segment.

§ So by Sofitel: a new kind of boutique hotel, with style and soul, reconciling design and pleasure for trend conscious consumers.

Discover Sofitel's new website with new reservations features

Thursday, 16 October 2008

‘Australia’ film will boost cruise visitors, says Minister

Speaking to Seatrade Insider today, Australia’s Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson, said ‘the cruise ship industry is a very positive area of growth and benefit to Australia.’

Ferguson said he believes the soon-to-be-released Twentieth Century Fox Film ‘Australia’ will encourage international fly/float passengers to make longer pre- and post-cruise stopovers to explore the outback.

He was in Sydney to unveil a A$40m advertising campaign for Tourism Australia that piggybacks on the film that is set in the country’s most spectacular and remote locations and stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

The television commercials for the campaign, which will run in Tourism Australia’s 22 major markets, were created by the film’s Australian director, Baz Luhrmann, and go to air in the UK today.

The print ads feature every Australian state and territory and were produced in conjunction with DDB Worldwide, Tourism Australia’s new advertising agency.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


Ladies – combine a day at the famous Bong Bong Picnic Races outside Bowral in the NSW Southern Highlands with stay at the Solar Springs Health Retreat at nearby Bundanoon, and they'll have you feeling and looking a race-day winner.

Their Picnic Races package from Sunday November 9 to Friday 14 includes 5-nights twin-share accommodation with all meals and Resort activities, a manicure, pedicure, deluxe skin treatment and a Swedish massage, transport and entry to the Races on November 12, and a grand Race Day Champagne lunch.

Prices start from $1150pp twin-share with single supplements available for just $99 extra.

For full details phone 1800 044 944 or check-out

Solar Springs Health Retreat is 1.5 to 2-hours from Sydney and just a little more from Canberra.

It has a 25-metre heated indoor pool, cycling, tennis, archery and bushwalking in the adjacent Morton National Park, with guests able to join-in as many – or as few if that's their choice – of the eight to ten daily activities.

All meals are well-balanced to provide adequate protein, healthy fats, whole grains and seasonal fruits and vegetables, and with vegetarian or other special diets also catered-for – and if you like a glass of wine with dinner, this is available at optional cost.


Eleven nights in the Mediterranean from Italy to Israel and Egypt aboard the elegant and smaller-size Costa Marina, is selling through during the peak June, July and August season next year from only $2749pp including twin-share, all meals, entertainment and even onboard gratuities*.

Costa Marina carries just 760 passengers and will sail these cruises out of Savona on the Italian Riviera for Argostoli and Iraklion in Greece, Ashdod in Israel, Port Said for Cairo, Nauplia in Greece, Naples, and back to Savona.

A compact yet spacious 25,500 tonnes, she has two restaurants, four bars, a pool, three Jacuzzis, an outdoor jogging track, fitness centre, theatre, casino, disco, shopping centre, internet, library and children's' club.

For full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit *Air fares, taxes and fuel surcharges are additional, and prices are subject to currency fluctuations.

ADDITIONAL SHIP INFORMATION: Costa Marina has been described as "uniquely Continental, offering the finest in Italian elegance and luxury."

The Crystal Restaurant with a ceiling replicated from an ancient Italian palace has wide-view outlooks to the sea and shore, and there's an optional casual Yacht Club alfresco buffet.

A glass roof spans a 3-deck atrium, while the pool is fed by a waterfall that rushes down a wall of sloping glass – and a glass dome over the Nightclub gives revellers the feeling they are dancing under the stars.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau welcomes flights from Pacific Blue

Michael Tokuru, General Manager SIVB today welcomed the move by Pacific Blue to launch flights to the Solomon Islands from Brisbane.

Mr Tokuru said, "The Solomon Islands has experienced some excellent growth in leisure travel this year with the latest figures showing a 27.4 percent increase in the holiday market. The launch of these flights is further evidence at the success of SIVB's marketing plans continuing to attract more international visitors."

He said, "I congratulate the government and Pacific Blue for delivering these new international flights. Airline seat capacity is vital for international tourism and business travel and SIVB will continue to work with Solomon Airlines and Australian airlines to encourage and increase visitor numbers to the Solomon Islands."

He said, "We look forward to working with Pacific Blue on their launch flight on December 2, and supporting this new capacity to Honiara. Pacific Blue's sister airline Virgin Blue has excellent coverage throughout Australia in all main capital cities and regional areas which means ease of travel for our Australian visitors from such main centres as Sydney and Melbourne as well as other cities as mentioned."

Pacific Blue will fly direct between Brisbane and the Solomon Islands twice weekly with convenient connections available from Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra and Melbourne.

United Airlines named 'Best North American Airline' in TTG Travel Awards

United Receives 2008 TTG Travel Award's "Best North American Airline"

Commitment to the Asia-Pacific region duly recognized by Industry peers and business partners

Hong Kong, October 14, 2008 – Travel agents, tour operators and travel service providers in the Asia-Pacific region have, for the ninth time in the past nineteen years, voted United Airlines the "Best North American Airline" in Travel Trade Gazette Asia's (TTG Asia) prestigious annual Travel Awards this year.

"We are grateful to TTG Asia and our industry peers for their recognition," said Mark Schwab, Vice President, Pacific, United Airlines.  "The support of travel agents and travel service providers has been a key element behind United's growth and success in the Asia-Pacific region.  We will continue to cherish our partnership with them by working even harder and bringing even better products and services to our customers. The recent introduction of United's new First Class suite and Business Class cabin with 180° flat beds to the Asia-Pacific region is testimony to our commitment to deliver an outstanding premium travel experience to the region's customers."

In its nineteenth year of running, the TTG Travel Awards is one of Asia-Pacific's best established and most prestigious accolades for top industry players. To select this year's Travel Awards recipients, TTG distributed a survey to readers of all of its group publications including TTG Asia, TTG Mice, TTG China and TTG BT Mice China.   A total of 43,000 votes from across the Asia-Pacific region were cast this year.

United is the only U.S. carrier to offer three cabins of service on all of its international overseas flights.  In addition to first and business services, United offers economy class with its Economy Plus® seating, which provides up to 13 extra centimeters of legroom.  For more information about the new United First and Business cabins, visit

In September 2008, United was also voted the "Best North American Airline" in Business Traveller Asia-Pacific's 2008 Travel Awards by readers of the publication.

About United

United Airlines (NASDAQ:  UAUA) operates more than 3,200* flights a day on United and United Express to more than 200 U.S. domestic and international destinations from its hubs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C.  With key global air rights in the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and Latin America, United is one of the largest international carriers based in the United State. United's 55,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world.  News releases and other information about United can be found at the company's Web site at

*Based on United's flight schedule between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2008.

About United in the Asia Pacific region

United operates around 400 services a week to/from/within the Asia Pacific region and the U.S. United flies from 13 Asia Pacific cities including Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Melbourne, Nagoya, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo.  United won the "Best Economy/Coach Class" in 2006 OAG Airline of the Year Awards and was named "Best Transpacific Airline" in the 2005 OAG Awards. The airline has been voted the "Best North American Airline" nine times including 2007 and 2008 in TTG Asia's travel polls and "Best American Airline Serving China" in Business Traveler China's 2005 - 2007 travel polls. For eight consecutive years, United has been voted "Best North American Airline" by Business Traveller Asia-Pacific 2001 - 2008.

About United in Hong Kong

United operates nonstop flights from Hong Kong to four destinations - Chicago, San Francisco, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City.

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