Wednesday, 30 September 2009

More For Less On Your Fraser Island Holiday

Fraser Island’s untamed wilderness and rugged, natural charm entices from the first moment - providing 4WD adventure and excitement and a relaxing resort atmosphere that’s perfect for family holidays.

And to celebrate the school holidays, Kingfisher Bay Resort has released a ‘More for Less on Fraser’ deal which makes vacationing with the family a whole lot easier on the hip pocket.

Book a getaway to the award winning eco tourism resort and travel before October 31 for just $99 per person per night in hotel resort accommodation and you’ll receive hot buffet breakfast and return marine transfers. And as a special ‘More For Less’ bonus, kids (14 years and under) can stay and eat for free*. Upgrades to interconnecting rooms, are also available for just $100 per night.

Lazy days can be spent exploring the national park by four-wheel-drive or on tour and the calm waters of the Great Sandy Strait are safe for older children to canoe, sail, swim and fish or learn to fish.

The resort also offers a number of free ranger-guided activities and nights can be spent relaxing in World Heritage surrounds or taking part in the resort’s eco activity program.

Virgin Blue operates direct jet services daily from Sydney to the Fraser Coast and QantasLink operates daily from Brisbane to the Fraser Coast. Major city connections are available. Kingfisher Bay Resort operates regular ferry services from Urangan Boat Harbour to the island and vehicle barge services operate from River Heads or Rainbow Beach.

For more information call Kingfisher Bay Resort on 1800 FRASER or visit

*Some conditions apply. Kids Stay and Eat Free, sharing existing bedding. Breakfast and dinner in Maheno restaurant. One child free per one paying adult. Rate based on 2 adults 2 Children.

Oceania Cruises to Visit Africa

Oceania Cruises has announced it’s most extensive and exotic line-up of sailings to Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean for 2010-2011. A limited-time offer of bonus savings of up to $4,200 means that voyages start at only $1,895 per guest.

Offered from November 2010 to April 2011, Oceania Cruises' World Collection features 30 new ports of call, including Cape Town, South Africa; Walvis Bay, Namibia; and Rangoon, Myanmar. Based on feedback from past guests and agent partners, the line has added maiden voyages around Africa plus an expanded range of Asia and Caribbean cruises.

"Our loyal repeaters and first-time guests alike will appreciate the richness and diversity of our new World Collection," stated Bob Binder, Oceania Cruises' president. "We continually seek out new and intriguing destinations to delight travellers while providing the greatest possible value and Oceania Cruises' acclaimed onboard experience."

Africa & Asia - Nautica
With itineraries from 15 to 35 days, Nautica will focus on Asia with eight unique cruises, seven of which are new. For the very first time, the line will visit majestic Africa. Enchanted Africa is a grand 30-day voyage from Istanbul to Cape Town which is followed by Safaris, Sands & Splendours - a new 35-day cruise from Cape Town to Singapore via the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

South America - Insignia
For 2011, Oceania Cruises' Insignia will operate all-new itineraries. Guests can choose from seven 12- to 22-day cruises that visit the exotic coastal villages of Brazil and cosmopolitan icons like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. The ship even offers a taste of remote reaches on Antarctica & the Fjords, a 22-day voyage that includes the Antarctic Peninsula, Falkland Islands and Chilean Fjords.

Caribbean & the Panama Canal - Regatta
One of the company's most popular itineraries - Amazon Adventure - is a 24-day round-trip sailing from Miami onboard Regatta. This voyage annually sells so briskly the company has added a second departure in mid-March. Also new are two, 10-day Mayan Mystique cruises to western Caribbean ports and a 14-day Southern Treasures sailing, which combines the warmth of the tropics, the history of the Colonial South and the charm of Bermuda.

About Oceania Cruises:
Oceania Cruises is the world's only upper-premium cruise line and offers an unrivalled combination of the finest cuisine at sea, elegant accommodations, exceptional personalized service and extraordinary value. Award-winning itineraries visit more than 300 ports in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the Americas aboard three luxurious, 684-guest ships: Regatta, Insignia and ,Nautica. The 1,258-guest Marina, the first ship designed specifically for the Upper Premium market segment, joins the fleet in late 2010.

About Prestige Cruise Holdings:
Prestige Cruise Holdings is the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Formed in 2007 to manage select assets in Apollo Management's cruise investment portfolio, PCH is led by Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio, the founder of Oceania Cruises. PCH is the market leader in the upper-premium and luxury segments of the cruise industry with nearly 4,000 berths between the Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands, a number the company expects will grow.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Crown Towers and Crown Promenade Hotel Launch Spring Racing Carnival Offers

Crown’s two award-winning hotels are extending Spring Racing Carnival accommodation rates between 30 October until 5 November 2009. Crown Towers’ is available for $800.00 per room, per night while Crown Promenade Hotel is available for $515.00 per room, per night. Both hotels have strictly limited availability and a minimum of a three night stay is required.

Rates prior to Friday 30 October and from Friday 6 November until Thursday 7 January 2010 are $350.00 per room, per night at Crown Towers including a bottle of premium sparkling wine on arrival, breakfast for two at the Conservatory and valet parking. A special package prior to Friday 30 October and from Friday 6 November until Thursday 7 January 2010 is $260.00 per room, per night at Crown Promenade Hotel including a bottle of premium sparkling wine on arrival, breakfast for two at Mesh restaurant and valet parking.

Crown Towers’ is arguably Australia’s most refined and inviting hotel experience, offering guests an unrivalled level of luxury, comfort and technology. Crown Promenade Hotel is renowned for offering excellent value, service and facilities in a welcoming and stylish environment.

Terms and conditions do apply. Bookings may be made by contacting Crown Towers reservations on 03 9292 6868, toll free on 1800 811 653, by email to

The Elandra a Honeymooners Tropical Paradise

The Elandra Resort, Mission Beach is the perfect place for couples to let love bloom on their honeymoon.

As a boutique 4 and ½ star resort, The Elandra is a hip, cool and sexy destination in Tropical North Queensland, only two-hour’s drive from Cairns.

Translating from Aboriginal as ‘home by the sea’ The Elandra features a stunning pool perched on cliff top overlooking the magical Coral Sea with uninterrupted views of Dunk and Bedarra Island.

Each of the Elandra’s 55 unique suites is nestled amongst the lush tropical rainforest and is connected by an elevated timber boardwalk. The Elandra contains a fine dining restaurant, extensive wine list, glamorous cocktail bar, tennis court, stylish boutique and in-room massage services for the upmost in relaxation.

Billed as where the safari meets the sea, The Elandra channels exotic and enticing themes from as far as Mozambique and Morocco. All Elandra suites offer rainforest or ocean views and are an eclectic and stylish mix of zebra skin, striking tribal arts and artisan furniture. Be beguiled by the charms of Safari Suite room, the African Queen or the Elandra King Suite.

The Elandra invites you to open your heart to the possibilities of pleasure.

Perhaps you may be interested in a private picnic at nearby Lovers Bay, South Mission Beach, or even a visit to Dunk Island on your own chartered boat. Alternatively reef tours and snorkeling trips are also an ideal way to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef’s natural beauty at first hand.

If you prefer to stay sedentary with the one you love, whisper sweet nothings while sipping cocktails by the plunge pool or watch the moon rise over Dunk Island from a private table for two.

For the outdoor extreme sport types, Mission Beach offers skydiving, crocodile spotting tours, rainforest walking tracks, diving, water rafting, water skiing, fishing and more.

The Elandra offers a 2009 Honeymoon Package for couples seeking a unique and intimate getaway, as well as a variety of wedding options for those who want to exchange or renew their vows in this extraordinary tropical paradise.

• 2 nights in King Suite
• Full hot breakfast for 2 nights / 2pax
• Picnic hamper on secluded Lover’s beach
• Seafood dinner for 2 pax OR 2 x 1 hour massages
• *Minimum of 2 pax, subject to availability, dinner is three courses (alcohol not included)
• *A weekly package can be devised on request

Culture & Arts Highlights in Hawai'i

Hawaii’s multi-cultural environment fosters an arts and culture scene that is extraordinary, dynamic and colourful. The following schedule offers some highlights from the various arts and cultural events for the period from October 2009 – December 2009.

On Maui the 4th Annual Maui ‘Ukulele Festival is taking place on October 18. The festival will be celebrating the beloved 'ukulele, the iconic instrument of modern Hawaiian music. The full afternoon line-up of ‘ukulele music features Nā Hōkū Hanohano award winners, Grammy nominees and a mixture of kūpuna players and young rising stars.

Oahu is bringing you the 29th Annual Hawai‘i International Film Festival from October 15 – 25. Established in 1981, the Hawai‘i International Film Festival (HIFF) is dedicated to the advancement of understanding and cultural exchange among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and North America through the medium of film. Last year, this audience-driven film festival attracted over 70,000 movie-lovers, who came to experience the sounds and images of excellent filmmaking from around the world.

To get your caffeine fix head to Hawaii's Big Island for the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, November 6 – 15. Since its inception in 1970, the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival’s mission has been to preserve, perpetuate and promote Kona’s 180-year coffee heritage. It is Hawai‘i's oldest food festival and the only coffee festival in the United States. This year’s celebration will have nearly 50 events including tastings, art exhibits, cupping competition, farm tours, contests, parades, sporting events, and special events.

The island of Kauai will be holding the Hawaiiaa Festival & Aloha Week from October 18-21. This four-day event will showcase local artisans, cultural demonstrations, workshops and crafts at the annual Grand Hyatt Kauai Hawaiiana Festival. Crafters, cultural demonstrations and entertainment will be held throughout the day along with a Hawaiian style buffet in the Grand Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Kauai. Cultural demonstrations and workshops will be held at various times from the 2oth-22nd.

For more information on culture and art events in Hawaii please visit
To learn more about Hawai’i, the Islands of Aloha, and the great value packages that are available please visit

Drive A Different Classic Car Every Day

Leading special interest operator, Elite Special Event Tours has released their popular English Classic Car Tour programme for 2010 priced from $10,999 pp/twin share inclusive of return air fare Sydney/London Heathrow, car rental, accommodation, car insurance, English breakfast daily, five dinners and three pub lunches.

The ultimate open-road tour for classic car enthusiasts, guests drive an array of classic roadsters each day of the tour - including a Jaguar E-Type, an Austin Healy 3000, a Triumph Stag and a MGB Roadster - visiting charming villages along England’s country lanes and highways. Complementing the tour is Elite Special Event Tours’ exclusive entrance to the Silverstone Classic, a superb racing event and track made famous by drivers such as Stirling Moss.

Sleep in on Sundays with Stamford's New 3pm Checkout Deal

Why get up on Sunday morning when for an extra $30 on top of your room rate you can stay in bed until 3pm at any of Stamford’s hotels in Australia and New Zealand.

Not the sleeping in type? Early birds can spend the extra time lingering over a sumptuous buffet breakfast or enjoying a long lunch in one of the hotels restaurants or bars.

You’ll have more time to fully enjoy the hotel’s services and facilities and explore local attractions – the ultimate in weekend luxury.

To book your *Sunday Sleep In, please send an email to or contact your hotel of choice directly by calling the reservations line on 1300 301 391 (Australia), 0508 658 888 (New Zealand). For further information, please visit

*Conditions Apply. Sleep In with Stamford is subject to availability

Editor’s note: Stamford Hotels and Resorts is one of the largest owner/operators of premium quality hotels in Australia and New Zealand with over 2000 rooms, 2000 employees and residential assets. The Group operates eight hotels in the 5 and 4.5 star market segments with a unique portfolio of landmark premium and luxury hotels in key geographic locations - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland. It was formed in 1995 by its parent company, Stamford Land Corporation Ltd (formerly known as Hai Sun Hup Group Ltd), one of Singapore's best-known public companies.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Go Off-Road with KEA

The warmer weather is coming and, to celebrate, KEA is offering adventure seekers 25% off 4WD Pop-Top Campervans, for travel between Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Adelaide and Broome. The discount is available to all Australian and New Zealand residents for travel from November 15 until February 28, 2010.

KEA’s supercharged 4WD is Australia’s gutsiest rental off-road RV, while also being the safest and most comfortable. The customised Toyota Troop Carrier has been created for the adventurous explorer, providing a monstrous 4.5L V8, 150kw turbo diesel engine. Combined with improved suspension, halogen headlamps and four-wheel disc brakes, KEA’s off-road campervan can go harder and further without compromising comfort, safety and handling.

The model troop carrier chassis also makes KEA’s the sleekest 4WD campervan around, with new fenders, bumpers and bonnet creating a more streamlined appearance. Specially-constructed bulkheads keep all living necessities such as crockery, cooking equipment, two burner stove and bedding securely stored for little movement for travelling over the rough terrain.

“Any true traveller will tell you of the thrill of being able to go where few have gone before! Our 4WD campervan is designed for exactly that, and does it like no other rental off-road camper can,” said Lynn Briggs, Marketing Manager for KEA.

“There are so many fantastic places to explore from Perth to Broome to Adelaide and we think there is no better time to get out there and make the most of it than in the coming months.”

KEA’s 4WD Pop-Top also features a 38L fresh water tank and twin 90L fuel tanks which, with an average consumption rate of 14 L per 100km – a huge bonus considering most rental 4WD campervans in Australia consume fuel at a rate of around 20L per 100km.

Cabin air conditioning, ventilated sleeping and living areas and sliding, fly-screened rear windows make it more comfortable to travel in the hotter regions and months, while the well-designed indoor dining and living area makes best use of the space available in the rear of the camper. Every KEA 4WD campervan also has three separate power sources – 240V battery, 12V house battery and solar power – to ensure travellers never run out of juice.

KEA’s 25% discount is available to all Australian and New Zealand residents for travel between November 15 and February 28, 2010, between Perth, Darwin, Alice Springs, Adelaide and Broome. For more information or to make a booking, visit, email or phone 1800 252 555.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Peru: It’s mummy mania

Buried in a country riddled with murder, mystery and a million years of intrigue, another mummy bites the dust.

A 2,000 year old mummy was found with legs bound by a cord in the foetal position, in the Northern Highlands of Peru a couple of weeks ago.

This new discovery by a team of Japanese archaeologists comes just after PromPeru’s announcement to hold media conferences and travel trade workshops about a ‘Super-Mummy’ – La Senora de Cao - another important find.

La Senora de Cao (the Lady of Cao) was the first known governess of Peru. A museum dedicated to her was opened in April of this year and is already drawing record numbers of tourists.

“Mummies are found here all the time” said Rosana Guinea PromPeru’s Coordinator for Oceania.

“Peru is a great destination for Indiana Jones type of travellers who want adventure and the opportunity to explore ancient civilizations.” she added.

Learn more about Peru’s fascinating mummies at the media conferences and travel trade workshops help by PromPeru, in Sydney and Melbourne late October.

For information call 02 9997 1526, email or watch the video

Ryanair to allow passengers to ‘smoke’ on board

with Similar Smokeless Cigarettes

Ryanair, the World’s favourite airline, today (20th Sept) announced that smokers no longer have to worry about long flights without a cigarette as it launches a new range of Smokeless Cigarettes to ensure passengers get their required nicotine hit without breaking the law by ‘lighting up’ onboard their aircraft.

In a recent survey over 24,000 Ryanair passengers said they would like to smoke during flights. However, smoking on commercial flights has been illegal since the 1990’s but now to cater to passengers’ demands Ryanair has introduced Similar Smokeless Cigarettes, which look and feel like a real cigarette and deliver a small amount of nicotine through inhalation – passengers do not light the ‘cigarette’.

Ryanair’s new Similar Smokeless Cigarettes are available to passengers over 18 years of age and are sold in packs of 10 onboard all Ryanair flights for just €6. Similar Smokeless Cigarettes contain no toxins or chemicals and are harmless to the user and to those around them.

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said, “Ryanair’s low fares, unrivalled punctuality, least lost bags and fewest cancelations of any major European airline deliver exactly what passengers want. Now, to help passengers who like to smoke and find it difficult to travel on an aircraft for a couple of hours without getting their nicotine hit Ryanair has launched Similar Smokeless Cigarettes.

Ryanair’s Smokeless Cigarettes deliver a similar level of nicotine to traditional cigarettes and are available in packs of 10 for just €6. As these cigarettes are smokeless they cause no discomfort to other passengers and can ensure a more enjoyable and stress free flight for all passengers as non-smokers will no longer have to cope with moody smokers in need of nicotine.”

Smokeless Director Chris Parsons said, “Yet another first for Ryanair – now it’s also the smokers’ favourite airline.”

Friday, 25 September 2009

Sleep in on Sundays with Stamford's New 3pm Checkout Deal

Why get up on Sunday morning when for an extra $30 on top of your room rate you can stay in bed until 3pm at any of Stamford's hotels in Australia and New Zealand.

Not the sleeping in type? Early birds can spend the extra time lingering over a sumptuous buffet breakfast or enjoying a long lunch in one of the hotels restaurants or bars.

You'll have more time to fully enjoy the hotel's services and facilities and explore local attractions – the ultimate in weekend luxury.

To book your *Sunday Sleep In, please send an email to or contact your hotel of choice directly by calling the reservations line on 1300 301 391 (Australia), 0508 658 888 (New Zealand). For further information, please visit

*Conditions Apply. Sleep In with Stamford is subject to availability

Editor's note: Stamford Hotels and Resorts is one of the largest owner/operators of premium quality hotels in Australia and New Zealand with over 2000 rooms, 2000 employees and residential assets. The Group operates eight hotels in the 5 and 4.5 star market segments with a unique portfolio of landmark premium and luxury hotels in key geographic locations - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland. It was formed in 1995 by its parent company, Stamford Land Corporation Ltd (formerly known as Hai Sun Hup Group Ltd), one of Singapore's best-known public companies.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Closing Soon: Cruise Passenger Magazine annual Readers Choice Awards

Readers are invited to vote across a number of categories for their favourite cruise experience. Each year this is voted on by Cruise Passengers from around Australasia. This important award recognises the view of the real cruise passenger and provides genuine feedback and praise to the industry rewarding them for their product, service and creativity. This year’s prestigious awards will be the biggest ever culminating in an event one evening this December to celebrate the winners at Orient Express’s Observatory Hotel. One lucky entrant will win a holiday to the value of $4500 at one of Orient Express’s hotels worldwide.

Among others, key categories include:

* Best Cruise Ship (across 3 different size categories)
* Best Adventure/Expedition Ship
* Best Individual Cruise Agent
* Best Multiple Cruise Agent

With the launch of, we have extended the vote out even wider. This year we invite you and your customers to vote. Those in the industry have just as much right to vote as you have all cruised. So please fill out the form attached and press submit and then send to register your vote or visit and vote online. Remember you don’t need to fill in every category - just the ones that are relevant to your experience. We would encourage you to pass this email onto your cruise clients so they can register their opinion on their favourite cruise experience and maybe even vote for you! Entries close at the end of October.


The rise of the Aussie dollar is driving Australians overseas, according to Australia’s premier car rental wholesaler, DriveAway Holidays.

It says the current record highs of our dollar against the English Pound has seen a marked surge in UK self-drive holiday bookings in the past 3 months.

And combined with cheap airfares, our stronger dollar against the US-dollar has also lead to DriveAway Holidays’ strongest bookings to the USA for some time, and suggestions our dollar could hit 90c against the US-dollar will mean huge savings for travelers going to the ‘States.

DriveAway Holidays says that one week’s rental of an economy car in the USA would have cost AU$370 in March, but today it costs just AU$315 - including a free tank of fuel and 3 additional drivers*, giving saving of over $300.

Michael Hay, Chief Executive Officer from DriveAway Holidays says, “We’ve had a great year for the UK and USA. But the increased demand, as well as reduced fleet numbers globally means that availability will be very tight over the Christmas period, so we advise booking early to take advantage of the great deals currently in the market.”

*The bonus inclusions of a free tank of fuel and additional drivers in the USA are available for bookings made and paid by Friday 9 October only. Bookings can be made online at or call 1300 723 972.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

100 Great Australian Holiday Homes

The Great Holiday Homes of Australia have been revealed in the latest issue of Australian Traveller magazine.

Just in time for Christmas, the leading domestic travel magazine has researched the amazing array of Australian holiday homes with some surprising results.

The houses selected range from just $150 per night to $4290 per night. The houses also range from the beach shack to the opulent Palm Beach or Portsea weekender, tropical rainforest lodges to bush hideaways.

According to the magazine, the holiday home is the ultimate Australian getaway lodging.

“Spending a weekend – or even an entire week – in a holiday home with family or friends is about as good as it gets,“ says Australian Traveller editor Greg Barton. “So it makes sense to research and publish some of the great homes that are known and even better – the hidden gems.” “For example, there is the iconic Pole House on the Great Ocean Road. But I love the quirky Mulberry Mansion in suburban Fremantle, or the inexpensive Partridge Cottage at Byron Bay, or how about the multi million-dollar Amileka in the Byron Bay Hinterland?” The criteria to be selected by the
magazine as a great holiday home was based on a balance of different styles of homes, locations and budgets.

“From fascinating furniture to amazing locations to intriguing history, each of the 100 homes has a unique appeal – and caters to all budgets,” Barton continued.

According to the latest research 51% of all travellers' accommodation in Australia was in a private home or holiday rental.

The full list is available at

Also in the issue:

10 Things To Do In Australia Before You Turn 10

The 100 Great Australian Holiday Homes are featured in the Oct/Nov ‘09 edition of Australian Traveller, on sale Wed September 23.

Plot a Course for Anchorage, Where Kids Stay and Eat Free

The blue water paradise of Port Stephens beckons for your next holiday adventure with this great deal to Peppers Anchorage combining deluxe accommodation, action aplenty and awesome value for money.

Designed with togetherness in mind, Peppers Anchorage’s tranquil surrounds make for the perfect destination to reconnect as a family, indulge in a spa treatment, enjoy a gourmet beach picnic or savour delicious food and wine at Merretts Restaurant which offers flexible dining to suit all ages.

You’ll never be at a loss for something to do in this action-packed aquatic playground, with local activities and attractions including snorkelling, cycling, horse riding, dolphin spotting, surf lessons, golf, fishing, sea kayaking, family friendly beaches, 4WD and camel tours to name a few.

With its outstanding service and facilities, Peppers Anchorage provides the perfect base for a family getaway to discover the delights of Port Stephens these school holidays. The resort has rates from a low $175* per night for an Anchorage Room with kids staying and eating for free, valid for sale until October 16 and for travel from October 5-16, 2009.

Nestled between rugged bush and the sparkling ocean where it enjoys an absolute waterfront location, Peppers Anchorage exudes a distinctive nautical feel.

Offering 80 family sized rooms and suites with private balconies – most peering over sparkling water or the quiet marina - the retreat features a host of leisure options to satisfy the senses such as an inviting guest lounge, billiard room, sauna, steam room, gymnasium, pool and day spa with pampering massage and beauty treatments.

A gourmet’s paradise, the resort is home to Merretts Restaurant, regarded as one of the region’s finest.

For bookings or further information call 1300 987 600 or visit

*Conditions apply. Subject to availability. 3-12 years olds eat and stay free when dining and staying with adults, sharing existing bedding. Valid for sale to 16 Oct 09. Valid for travel 5 – 16 Oct 09. Available Sunday to Friday.

Cruise Remotest Papua New Guinea With Aurora Expeditions

Aurora Expeditions offers travellers the chance to experience the rich cultural heritage and unspoilt nature of Papua New Guinea with two new adventure cruises taking in the Sepik River on board the luxury ship Oceanic Discoverer in 2010.

Aurora has added some new sites to its itineraries, exploring some of the least visited regions of the country including the remote communities of the Sepik River.

Village life along the Sepik remains virtually unchanged since European explorers made first contact in the 1800s. The local Sepik people are among the greatest primitive artists on Earth, and the skills of its craftsmen are legendary.

The voyages, departing in November 2010, will also visit the Trobriand Islands, known as the ‘Islands of Love’; the D’Entrecasteaux island group; Bismark Archipelago and Kimbe Bay, one of the richest and most diverse coral reef environments in the world.

Aurora Expeditions places emphasis on a combination of interactive experiences with the environment and a strong educational element. Assisted by a team of expert lecturers, these expeditions aim to provide authentic experiences with the people of PNG and give a genuine insight into traditional lifestyles that have changed little in centuries.

Spacious viewing decks and purpose-built excursion boats make Oceanic Discoverer an excellent vessel for an in-depth exploration of PNG’s hidden bays and coral reefs.

Prices start from AU$8,650 per person twin-share (ex Cairns and Rabaul), including all meals on board, shore excursions and lectures.

For more details or to obtain a copy of the new 2010 Papua New Guinea brochure (which will be released in October 2009), contact Aurora Expeditions on 1800 637 688, visit or email

Chardonnay on the nose, according to new Mercure wine survey

Aussie wine drinkers favour ‘local’, despite Kiwi sauv blanc assault

21 September 2009: A national survey of wine drinking habits by one of Australia’s largest hotel groups – Mercure – has highlighted that chardonnay’s grip on the palate of Australian wine drinkers is rapidly loosening, with sauvignon blanc dominating the preferences of white wine drinkers.

Although New Zealand sauvignon blancs maintained a high popularity, with some persuasion local sauvignon blancs were beginning a fight-back and there was a distinct preference for wines from the local State.

There was some experimentation with newer varietals such as pinot gris/grigio for whites and temparanillo and sangiovese for reds, but generally red wine drinkers voted for the most traditional of reds – shiraz, even if it increasingly involved an added dollop of viognier in the blend.

Not so fortunate was another old Australian favourite – riesling – which continued to garner only minority interest, despite its popularity with wine judges and other professionals.

The survey was conducted across the Mercure hotel network, which comprises 23 hotels in every State of Australia. Each Mercure hotel surveyed wine drinking habits in their bars and restaurants to determine changing trends over the past two years. The results were compiled and released as part of the launch of the Mercure Grands Vins spring/summer wine selection.

Mercure Grands Vins offers guests staying or dining at Mercure hotels around Australia specially-designed wine lists showcasing the most attractive wines of their local State. There are specific regional wine lists compiled for NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland – Mercure is the first major hotel group in the State to offer a specialist Queensland wine selection.

Every wine offered has been selected by an expert tasting panel comprising sommeliers, wine connoisseurs and food and beverage professionals, and, importantly, final judging is conducted with appropriate food courses to ensure the wines are “food friendly”. Some 80% of wine sold at Mercure hotels is consumed with food, so compatibility with food was a major judging criteria.

Summary of major findings:

· Chardonnay is the fastest declining white wine variety

· Sauvignon blanc is the dominant white wine choice, with growth of 47% over the past two years, with Mercure Townsville reporting a 70% increase and Mercure Parramatta a 75% growth in demand for SB and SB blends.

· New Zealand sauvignon blanc is still the preferred SB, but local SB and semillon sauvignon blanc wines are fighting back (“We push a local SB over NZ SB and find positive feedback from guests. 95% purchase the Victorian SB” – Mercure Melbourne)

· Wine drinkers are resisting the “riesling renaissance” – “Riesling is still assumed to be sweet and it is very hard to sell a non sweet Riesling” – Mercure Geelong

· Pinot gris/grigio’s surge appears to have slowed over the past year. Other white wine varieties such as verdelho (NSW/Queensland) and chenin blanc (SA) retain popularity in States where the variety is prominent

· While shiraz (overwhelmingly) and cabernet blends are the largest selling reds, pinot noir is the fastest growing red wine choice (particularly in Victoria & Tasmania)

· Local is king – “Guests are turning away from brand names and are looking for something regional and different. They are willing to spend extra to get quality as long as they see the value for money in the product they purchase – Mercure Hobart. “There’s a very strong push to buy local, with only New Zealand sauvignon blanc being the exception,”- Mercure Ballarat.

· Not much change in men’s preference for red over white wine, but women are ordering more sauvignon blanc, quality sparkling and lighter bodied reds

· Growing demand for food-friendly wines – “People are becoming more experimental, wanting to try different kinds of wines as well as showing greater interest in matching it with food. More guests are moving away from heavy bodied wine and want to try light, fruity and easy to drink wines,” – Mercure Cairns

· There has been a 31% increase in by-the-glass sales over the past year – “Our feedback from the Grands Vins selection is that people want to experiment, so they will often choose two or three different wines from the selection during their meal. The key factor is the pricing of wine-by-the-glass,” – Mercure Perth

“The aim of the survey was to choose the Spring Grands Vins wine selections according to the changing tastes of our guests,” said Greg Brady, co-ordinator of Mercure’s Grands Vins programme in Australia.

“While the survey reflected what many people already suspected – that poorly made, over-oaked chardonnay was on the nose with the wine-drinking public – what also came out of the survey was that there has been some renaissance for newer-style chardonnay and, as a chardonnay lover myself, that was very encouraging,” said Mr Brady.

“What also came out strongly was that both guests and local diners alike want to have a taste of their local region, especially when they dine out at a restaurant. Mercure hotels have always positioned themselves as the ‘keys to the region’, providing an authentic taste of the city or the region in which they operate, so the Grands Vins selections are an important component of that local experience.

“Equally important is the pricing. We want to dispel the myth that good wine is only associated with high-end restaurants and high-end prices. Mercure’s Grands Vins shows it is possible to enjoy great wines – many from smaller vineyards - at very attractive prices.”

The Grands Vins wine list is designed to make wine selection easier, grouping wines in four particular styles – fresh and tasty; fruity and light; balanced & elegant and spicy and full bodied – to help guests choose the most suitable wine for every occasion and for every dish, while introducing wines from a range of distinctive wineries from the State that guests might not otherwise have a chance to experience.

The Mercure Grands Vins regional lists complement each hotel’s standard wine list, which together provide a comprehensive range of Australian wines. Mercure Grands Vins was first introduced in France in 1983, and the programme celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Grands Vins lists are available in 20 countries around the world.

Plot a course to Anchorage where kids stay and eat for free

The blue water paradise of Port Stephens beckons for your next holiday adventure with this great deal to Peppers Anchorage combining deluxe accommodation, action aplenty and awesome value for money.

Designed with togetherness in mind, Peppers Anchorage's tranquil surrounds make for the perfect destination to reconnect as a family, indulge in a spa treatment, enjoy a gourmet beach picnic or savour delicious food and wine at Merretts Restaurant which offers flexible dining to suit all ages.

You'll never be at a loss for something to do in this action-packed aquatic playground, with local activities and attractions including snorkelling, cycling, horse riding, dolphin spotting, surf lessons, golf, fishing, sea kayaking, family friendly beaches, 4WD and camel tours to name a few.

With its outstanding service and facilities, Peppers Anchorage provides the perfect base for a family getaway to discover the delights of Port Stephens these school holidays. The resort has rates from a low $175* per night for an Anchorage Room with kids staying and eating for free, valid for sale until October 16 and for travel from October 5-16, 2009.

Nestled between rugged bush and the sparkling ocean where it enjoys an absolute waterfront location, Peppers Anchorage exudes a distinctive nautical feel.

Offering 80 family sized rooms and suites with private balconies - most peering over sparkling water or the quiet marina - the retreat features a host of leisure options to satisfy the senses such as an inviting guest lounge, billiard room, sauna, steam room, gymnasium, pool and day spa with pampering massage and beauty treatments.

A gourmet's paradise, the resort is home to Merretts Restaurant, regarded as one of the region's finest.

For bookings or further information call 1300 987 600 or visit

*Conditions apply. Subject to availability. 3-12 years olds eat and stay free when dining and staying with adults, sharing existing bedding. Valid for sale to 16 Oct 09. Valid for travel 5 - 16 Oct 09. Available Sunday to Friday.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Register with Velocity Hotels and Win!

Dreaming of a luxurious trip for 2 to beautiful Fiji? Why not enter our competition? Simply tell us in 25 words or less why you deserve a relaxing beach holiday. The most creative answer will win!

A Caloundra Escape that's Music to the Ears

October is the ideal time to cruise into Caloundra for a well earned beach holiday when the town comes alive to the sun, surf and soul of its annual music festival.

To be held from October 22-25, the Caloundra Music Festival has again drawn a stellar line up of artistic talent including the Hoodoo Gurus, Augie March, Josh Pyke, James Reyne, Toni Childs, Noiseworks and more.

Their popular sounds will reverberate around the scenic Kings Beach area of town in a family friendly weekend which also features a colourful street parade, roving performers, beach-side carnival, buskers, markets, free children’s entertainment and more in a celebration of culture, community and the environment.

One of Caloundra’s favourite waterfront holiday properties, BreakFree Grand Pacific hits the right note for music fans with rates available during the festival period from just $199* per room per night for a one bedroom garden view apartment.

Enjoying a stunning waterfront position at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, BreakFree Grand Pacific offers fantastic facilities in a beautifully tranquil setting, ideal for couples and families alike.

With sweeping views of the picturesque Pumicestone Passage and only minutes from the Sunshine Coast’s premier holiday activities, the property perfectly embodies the BreakFree philosophy of offering great resorts at great rates in Australia’s favourite holiday destinations.

The resort features beautifully appointed apartments with private balconies, two spas, baby sitting service, boutiques, café, conference facilities, games room, heated pools set amongst lush tropical gardens, sauna, gymnasium and more.

For bookings or further information phone 132 007 or visit

* Conditions and minimum stays apply. Subject to availability.

Bonus Kids Cabin

Book a Fiji Island family adventure cruise with Captain Cook Cruises and receive a separate children’s bunk cabin at no additional charge when booking for two or more children aged 3-15 years who are accompanied by adults. Book now and also save up to 25% off the brochure price.

This great family holiday offer is valid for sale and travel on all 3, 4 and 7 night Fiji cruises until March 31st, 2010.

With Captain Cook Cruises discovery-style cruises adults and kids will enjoy an intimate and personal experience of the Yasawa Islands aboard the MV Reef Escape

Kids will never be looking for something to do, with a new and exciting destination to explore every morning and afternoon.

Offering a true cultural experience for the whole family, the cruise visits unspoiled Fijian villages where passengers can interact with the locals, take part in a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast and even tour a village school where the school children will perform.

There is also plenty of time for fun water activities every day. Kids will love snorkeling over the amazing coral reefs, and swimming in crystal clear waters, while parents can relax on the warm white sands or go diving in spectacular blue lagoons. Families can take a glass bottom boat ride to witness the abundance of marine life that thrives on Fiji’s coral reefs.

Mum and dad can be pampered at the ships Senikai Day Spa, or simply relax on the sun deck by the pool or at the pool bar.

Dining is another vital ingredient of these amazing cruises. Families will enjoy alfresco buffet luncheons and a mix of table d’hote and buffet dinners. Free child minding is available during meal times for children under 7 years.

Adult fares start at $900 per person twin share with children (3-15yrs) priced from $225 for the 3 night Southern Yasawa cruise. For the 4 night Northern Yasawa cruise adult fares start from $1200 per person twin share with children priced from $300. Adult prices for the 7 night Yasawa Islands and 7 night Northern Fiji Dateline Expedition cruise start from $1195 per person twin share with children priced from $525.

Prices include all meals, daily island and water activities, guided island, village and school tours, snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours, use of snorkelling equipment and mini gym, a Lovo feast and kava ceremony, entertainment, child minding during meal times, 24 hour self-service tea and coffee bar and transfers from Nadi and Denarau hotels.

For pre or post cruise accommodation Captain Cook Cruises is offering two nights accommodation for the price of one at the Radisson Resort Fiji, Denarau Island for anyone booked on a three, four or seven night Fiji Islands Captain Cook Cruise. Prices start at only $210 per person twin share for a two-night stay.

For reservations and enquiries please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free on 1800 804 843, Int +61-2-9206 111, Email: or visit

Friday, 18 September 2009

Holidays For Dogs

…It’s a Dog’s Life
Taking your ‘best friend’ on holiday shouldn’t mean you have to sleep in a kennel! Turon Gates offers the ultimate getaway for animal lovers wanting the best in pet friendly accommodation.

A pleasant 2.5 hour drive from Sydney, Turon Gates Country Retreat is the perfect escape for you and your pooch. The idyllic rural setting provides a spectacular backdrop for adventure. Try your hand at trout fishing, horse riding or canoeing - just some of the fabulous activities available at your request. With 15km of crystal clear trout stream and 6,000 acres of untouched bush land, you and your four-legged friend will have endless opportunities to reconnect with nature. Alternatively, enjoy the tranquil surroundings as you relax in a hammock, under the shade of a gum tree. Rest assured your pet will be safe and secure, with many of the cottages equipped with large covered balconies and gates.

Turon Gates offers comfortable accommodation to complement the peaceful natural surroundings, with rustic riverside cabins or cosy mountain cottages, each accommodating up to 8 people. Don’t forget to bring Fido’s bedding and feeding bowls, there is plenty of room for pets! The retreat is environmentally friendly, using only gas and solar energy. For that truly unique ‘one-with-nature’ experience, choose a camping spot along the retreat’s extensive river frontage. Enjoy the silence of the bush and respect Mother Nature by cleaning up any droppings and other mess.

Share the beauties of the bush with your beloved companion. There is no need to cut your holiday short on their behalf. Turon Gates is the ideal pet friendly holiday destination, offering everything from mountain adventures to riverside relaxation.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Peppers Turns 25, And The Presents Are On Us

When Peppers Guest House opened its doors in NSW’s Hunter Valley in 1984, it marked the dawn of a new era in Australian holiday escapes highlighted by personalised service, luxurious surrounds, fine food and wine.

The formula proved an instant success and its defining elements remain at the core of Peppers Retreats, Resorts & Hotels which turns 25 in October and now boasts more than 25 exquisite properties throughout Australia and New Zealand for that perfect romantic getaway, unforgettable wedding or family escape.

In celebration of 25 years of excellence, guests are invited to join the party with fabulous discounts on Peppers’ award winning dining, indulgent treatments, sweet surprises and fun activities.

Check out these great offers at a Peppers near you, valid for sale until 30 September and for minimum stays of two nights during the month of October, 2009.

At Peppers Guest House where it all began, visitors can celebrate with 25% off a three course dinner for two and 25% off breakfast with rates available from AUD$246* per room per night.

Peppers is offering AUD$25 dining vouchers per person for packages booked a wide selection of properties including Peppers Beach Club & Spa, Palm Cove where rates start from AUD$290* per room per night; Peppers Blue on Blue, Magnetic Island and Peppers Coral Coast, Airlie Beach where deals start from AUD$179* per room per night; Peppers Anchorage, Port Stephens with rates from AUD$225* per room per night and Craigieburn, Bowral with deals from AUD$204* per room per night.

At Peppers Seaport Hotel in Launceston, Tasmania, guests will delight in 25 chocolates per booking and receive a AUD$25 Mud Club Spa Voucher per person with rates available from AUD$250* per room per night. Meanwhile, Peppers Calstock in Deloraine is offering 25 chocolates, one dinner and a personalised 25th celebration menu with rates from AUD$580* per room per night.

The corks are popping at Peppers Clearwater Resort, Christchurch, where guests will receive a AUD$25 bottle of NZ wine on arrival per booking, with packages starting from AUD$225* per room per night.

It’s party time at Peppers Palm Bay in Queensland’s Whitsunday Islands where guests will receive breakfast, dinner, a AUD$25 cocktail per booking and a AUD$25 spa voucher per person, with rates from AUD$600* per room pr night.

And in what should be a big hit with golfers, Peppers the Sands Resort Torquay is offering a AUD$25 dining voucher and AUD$25 golf voucher per person with packages from AUD$194* per room per night, while Peppers Moonah Links, Mornington Peninsula, also has AUD$25 dinning and golfing vouchers with deals from AUD$200* per room per night.

For bookings or further information about these deals, or other great 25th anniversary specials from Peppers visit

* Conditions apply and blockout periods apply, subject to availability.

Enjoy the Snow...and the Last Week of the Snow Season at Hotham

It may feel like summer elsewhere but it’s “snow time” at Hotham until the end of next week.

With a natural snowdepth base of 62cm, 6 lifts in operation and lots of nice weather days ahead, Spring is a fabulous time to visit the mountains. Sunny conditions, soft snow (good for falling over!), huge discounts on accommodation, value season lift tickets, kids ski free packages and uncrowded slopes provide a perfect environment in which to learn, have some fun at the snow and make final turns for Season 09.

To celebrate the end of Season 09 and to give holidaymakers even more reason to squeeze in a Springtime sojourn, Hotham will host its Spring Carnival from 23 - 27 September. The action-packed schedule means fun for every visitor.


• First tracks – no aaditional cost with a valid all-mountain lift pass. Be the first on the slopes when Hotham’s famous Heavenly Valley Chairlift opens at 7.30am (weather permitting).
Wednesday – Sunday.
• Kids Treasure Hunt - Throughout the resort, from 9am - 4pm and FREE! Pick up your treasure hunt questions from Guest Services…go hunting…then claim your showbag prize!
• Ski or board with Harry the Snowdragon, Hotham’s mascot – FREE at the Big D and Summit,
• Roving Balloonist & Magician - Watch out for this one man circus of tricks! Ask at Guest Services for location and times each day for the FREE performances.
• Nintendo Wii competitions – choose a sport and have some fun, anytime from 10am-4pm in the Tickets Hall.

• Spring Snowboard Camp – 3 day program for 7-14 year olds, take on the parks and the slopes.
• L’Oreal Women’s Spring Program – ski and snowboard programs for the ladies to improve their skills – includes makeup and ski fitness sessions.
Both programs are $260 with a valid lift ticket (or season pass). Call 03 5150 8880 for information.

• Snow Sculpture Competition – FREE at the Big D all day. Build a snowman for your chance to WIN great prizes! Guest Services will judge snowmen and crown a winner at 3.30pm.
• Harry the Snowdragon Show – FREE at the Big D at 4pm. Harry the Snowdragon will perform his live stage show. Make sure you rug up as it is outside!
• Fire Twirling - FREE at the Big D at 6.30pm. Watch Hotham’s fire twirler in action as he gets things started before fireworks kick off!
• Fireworks Spectacular – FREE at the Big D at 6.45pm. Hotham will light up the skies with the highest fireworks display in Australia, exploding in the winter night skies overhead.
• Night Skiing – only $7 for lift pass, starting at 7pm at the Big D. Enjoy the slopes at night under lights! Tickets available at the Big D (weather permitting.)

• Harry the Snowdragon Day – all day and FREE throughout the resort. Grab some Harry wings and a tail from Pinnacle and hit the slopes…if you are spotted with Harry gear on the slopes you’ll WIN a Hotham prize pack!
• BBQ – At the base of Summit from 12pm - 2pm. Grab a snag and enjoy the sunshine!
• Snow Cricket – FREE at the base of Summit from 3.30pm. Get a team together and enjoy a match of snow cricket! Sign up at Guest Services by 2pm.
• Amulet Vineyard Wine Tastings – at Hotham Gallery (Hotham Central) from 4 - 6pm. Drop in to enjoy FREE wine tastings of Amulet's Italian Varietals.
• Movie Night – FREE at Hotham Gallery (Hotham Central) from 6 - 8pm. Watch a movie with your friends while Mum and Dad grab a dinner for two. Fully Supervised. Register with Guest Services before 2pm on the day.

• Snoccè (snow bocce) – FREE at the base of Summit from 12 - 3pm. Grab some friends and take on each other or another snocce team for your chance to WIN great prizes. Snoccé set available for hire from Guest Services.
• BBQ – At the base of Summit from 12pm - 2pm. Grab a snag and enjoy the sunshine!
• Family Trivia – FREE at Chill Bar & Café at 3.30pm. Compete against other families for your chance to be crowned the family trivia champions!

• Footy Weekend 50% off lift passes - Get 50% off your lift pass when you wear the footy jersey of your favourite AFL team. Available all day from Hotham Ticket Offices.
• Grand Final – 2pm at The General, Zirky's and Chill Bar. Watch all of the Grand Final Action on the big screen at any of the listed venues.
• Harry the Snowdragon Show – FREE at the Big D at 4pm. Harry the Snowdragon will perform his final live stageshow for the 2009 season.
• Night Skiing – the FINAL night skiing session for 2009. Grab a lift pass for only $7. Starts at 6.30pm at the Big D. Enjoy the slopes at night under lights (weather permitting).

• Footy Weekend 50% off lift passes - Get 50% off your lift pass when you wear the footy jersey of your favourite AFL team. Available all day from Hotham Ticket Offices.
• 5pm – end of the 2009 winter season!

As originally advertised as of January 2009, Hotham Alpine Resort will close for the 2009 season on 27 September 2009. For information about the Resort and Spring Carnival, visit

In Alaska, Skiing is Believing

When a typical powder weekend at his native Jackson Hole just won’t cut it for American professional snowboarder Travis Rice, he heads north to Alaska for steep-and-deep experiences unlike anywhere else on earth. Better than Jackson Hole? That’s up to each skier to judge, but the ski fields in Alaska have been described by Snowboard magazine as the craziest, steepest, deepest powder that you can find. Little surprise since in Alaska everything is 20 times bigger than it is anywhere else in the world. But you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy this insane snow scene.

Located just 56 kilometres south of Anchorage, Alyeska Resort averages a whopping 19.8 metres of snow a year. It also boasts 1,400 skiable acres, nine chairlifts, a 60-person aerial tram, 68 runs and more spring daylight than any other major ski resort in North America. Alyeska’s slopes cater to families or adventure lovers of any skill level. Festivals for all ages and two of the largest downhill ski championships in the country, Alyeska is an ideal spot for your Alaska ski experience. For those looking to indulge, the Aleyska resort has its own spa. Try a Alaska Glacial Facial, which features the timeless decadence of a rich and creamy Arctic mud used to exfoliate, detoxify and soften the skin. A final mist of Alaskan Glacial water completes this truly Alaskan experience.

For the above average’ skier Alaska offers a range of options. Heli-skiing is one of those options and involves plunging out of a helicopter onto an almost vertical slope of snow-covered mountain. The heli-skiing season runs in late winter, from about February through to April, when snow conditions are optimal.

The most popular areas for heli-skiing in Alaska include the Prince William Sound communities of Valdez and Cordova, Girdwood in South-central Alaska and the Southeast Inside Passage communities of Haines and Juneau. “We offer five- and seven-day packages, depending on what you want to do,” said Jill Kief of Chugach Powder Guides out of Girdwood. “Everyone gets a safety briefing and a transceiver drill... Depending on the package, you can ski 50,000 to 60,000 vertical feet... Typically, you’re getting about eight to 10 runs a day.”

Although skiing in Alaska is attracting the world’s top athletes, there’s plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the winter wonderland off-piste. Contrary to popular conception, Alaska is not in the dark all winter long. It basks in 6 to 13 hours of daylight sandwiched between endless twilight on one end and dawns on the other. And with average temperatures around -6 degrees Celsius, pair a hot chocolate (or whiskey—to each his own) with a parka and everyone will enjoy Alaska in complete comfort.

Explore Alaska’s unique Native American culture, check out the wildlife, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride or mush your own team of sled dogs.

Cross-country skiing, ice skating, ice hockey, ice fishing, snow machines, winter carnivals and festivals are all at your disposal when the snow flies, and are all complimented by unique and scrumptious culinary experiences.

Alaskans don't hibernate like bears, winter's when the fun really begins. Delta fly directly to Los Angeles from Sydney and has partnered with Alaskan Airlines to provide flights to Alaska daily.

There’s never been a better time to go.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Crème de la Crème of Culinary Travel

“They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and the same can be said for understanding another culture,” says Andy Alpine, Co-Publisher of Specialty Travel Index ( “If you want to really understand another culture, eat their food and drink their wine. Or better yet, learn to cook it.”

Culinary travel is a growing trend, and with good reason. You can have your gâteau and eat it too. And when you return home, you can make it for your friends.

From paella in Valencia, the champagnes of Champagne, the olive oils of Tuscany, to the cabernets of Napa Valley, there are opportunities to eat, drink, and travel worldwide. It’s just a matter of selecting the where in the world you want to cook, and just how much you want to get your apron dirty. Some trips sprinkle in a few cooking demonstrations, a stroll through a farmers market, a bit of wine tasting and some really good eating; others involve in-depth training that would make a chef proud.

And, as always, helps you find exactly the trip you want with drop down menus that select the best tour operators for an unforgettable culinary experience. Here’s a taste of some of the food and wine travel experiences gourmands will find on www/ and in its magazine/directory Specialty Travel Index:

Culinary Delights of Andalusia
Andalusia boasts culinary meccas like Granada, Córdoba, Málaga and Jaén, but it also has some little known gems like Iznájar is a small hilltop Moorish village overlooking a romantic turquoise-coloured lake. Active Gourmet Holidays bases their Culinary Delights of Andalusia in Finca Las Encinas, a 150-year old Andalusian farmhouse with breathtaking views and surrounding olive trees. Andalusian food is characterized by its vibrant colors, rich aromas, and full of sensual and complex flavor—and, of course, olive oil. Day trips include Moorish castles, olive oil and sherry tasting, and the unforgettable Alhambra Palace and garden. Evenings are reserved for hands-on cooking demonstrations—followed by dinner. Active Gourmet Holidays

Barging in Burgundy
There can’t be much better than gliding along the beautiful, intimate waterways of Central France--from the well known scenic Burgundy Canal and the pretty Nivernais Canal, to the celebrated ‘Côte D’Or’ (Golden Coast) of southern Burgundy, Canal du Centre, and the River Saône on a luxury barge. Winding past hidden medieval villages, wooded valleys, and gentle plains, you’ll always eat and drink well on these cruises, but the Barge Company offers some enticing ‘Barge and Cook’ or ‘Wine Connoisseur’ cruises that will send guests home with souvenirs like excellent, little known French wines from small wineries en route and the recipes and knowledge to recreate some of the delicacies served on board. The Barge Company

Pubbing through Britain
The British Connection creates pub tours to the best of British and Irish pubs, carefully chosen with their clients tastes in mind. If you want to visit the most historic hostelries, visit the pubs by canoe, kayak, car or coach, or taste the most unusual brews available, they will put you on the pub crawl of a lifetime. In Dublin, the British Connection can arrange a tour of music and literary events in pubs. The British Connection

Cucina Toscana
It’s hard to be interested in both food and travel without harboring a hunger for a trip to Tuscany. The Tuscan countryside is gorgeous and the food is second to none. Palio Tours offers a week-long Tuscan cooking experience (you can add on a couple days in Florence or Rome). It includes 3 lessons (and the chance to eat the fruits of your labor), a visit to an olive farm, and day trips to Chianti towns like Radda and Castellina or some of the southern Tuscan neighbors like Pienza and Montepulciano.

Palio Tours

France for Discerning Oenophiles
Imagine gazing over 1000 barrels of a renowned First Growth wine . . . tasting by candlelight in vaulted 12th century cellars . . . staying at a private Classified Growth chateau as their exclusive guests . . .or walking through a Grand Cru vineyard with a world-famous winemaker. These are the kinds of experiences that are hard to arrange on your own, but can spark the trip of a lifetime for wine lovers. French Wine Explorers Bordeaux tours give you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to taste at some of the world's most famous chateaux, including First Growths like Chateaux Margaux, Latour or Lafite Rothschild. At these exclusive estates you'll be welcomed for private VIP tours and tastings. Learn from insiders about the people, power and politics that have shaped Bordeaux's past and continue to influence it today. Along the way, you'll enjoy first-class accommodations, and sumptuous meals prepared by the region's best chefs at fabulous Michelin-starred restaurants. For wine lovers, it just doesn’t get any better than this. French Wine Explorers

Discover the Cradle of Paella
Led by Gerry Dawes, a well-known writer and expert in Spanish food and wine, Epicurean Ways trips through Valencia and Alicante give travelers the chance to meet the chefs and pastry makers responsible for the region’s renaissance. These regions of Spain have been called the “land of 1000 rice dishes”, but paella is not the only thing on the menu. Guests discover both traditional and avant garde cuisine, and the traditional sweet dessert mistela wines made from moscatel grapes and Fondillón, a monastrell-based vino rancio (a purposely oxidized, slightly sweet wine)–once nearly extinct. Winery visits, cooking classes and a saffron demonstration are all included. Epicurean Ways

French Culinary Adventures
Julia Childs discovered her lifelong passion for cooking in France, and she wasn’t the first—or the last—chef to be inspired by the French palate. Owned by a French native, Enchanted France LLC will help plan the ultimate epicurean escape in France. If you want cooking classes from a master chef in Provence (or in a Paris apartment), a private guide for a Loire Valley Châteaux and Wine Tasting, or a Champagne Escapade, Enchanted France can arrange it for a real insider’s eating experience. Enchanted France

Calistoga Sip & Cycle
This is a dream trip for the active wine lover. Getaway Adventures offers day or weekend wine and bike trips. On the weekend trip, you’ll spend Saturday cycling the Calistoga area, 20 miles of easy and flat terrain, visiting small family wineries like Chateau Montelena, Vincent Arroyo and Frank Family Vineyards. Afterwards, sooth away tired muscles with a mud bath with eucalyptus steam and blanket wrap followed by a 30-minute massage. On Sunday, you’ll head over to Sonoma County for a 17-mile loop in the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys. Quiet, peaceful, virtually traffic free; this enchanting loop takes you by wineries like Lambert Bridge, Quivira, Dry Creek, and Preston. You don’t even need to bring a bike or helmet—they’re provided.
Getaway Adventures

These, and many other culinary vacations (as well as a myriad of special interest and adventure travel adventures worldwide), can be found in Specialty Travel Index and on

STI is easy to use, on the web site with the “Find Your Adventure” search mechanism indexing tours by both interest/activity (Yacht Charter, Wine Tours,) and destination (Costa Rica, France) and in the magazine using similar choices. Subscriptions to the magazine cost $10 per year (Canada $15; other foreign $25) for two issues: July (Fall/Winter) and January (Spring/Summer). Send orders to: or order online at

FOR REVIEW COPIES--CALL 888-624-4030; E-mail:

NY Super Sale Package – Big Apple, Big Discounts.

We know, you never thought a New York City hotel room would be on sale. But thanks to these six Hilton Family of Hotels in New York City, the Big Apple have never been more affordable.

This exclusive package includes discounted room at Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square, Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel, Embassy Suites Hotel New York City, Hampton Inn Manhattan Times Square North, Hilton Garden Inn New York/West 35th Street or Hilton Garden Inn Times Square - PLUS coupon valid for buy one/get one free admission to Madame Tussauds New York!

It’s simple. Select from one of our six hotels, each perfectly located within Manhattan’s best neighborhoods of Times Square, Midtown East, Midtown West or on the water in lower Manhattan – and stay overnight in comfortable luxury. Then get up close and personal with your favorite celebrities at the 85,000 square-foot, five-story Madame Tussaud's New York. New York's version of the famous London museum is located on 42nd Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), and presents New York's most famous and infamous personalities, as well as figures of international fame and acclaim.

Don't miss out, These New York City hotels are offering their lowest rates in years with this exclusive NY Super Sale Package. Again, this package is only available for a limited time and includes room plus coupon valid for 2 for 1 admission to Madame Tussauds New York. Book your stay online by visiting or by calling 1-800-HILTONS and mentioning plan code NX or NX1. Minimum 4 night stay required.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


LAN Airlines has introduced a new range of unrestricted Business Class fares from throughout Australia to more than 50 destinations in and beyond South America.

Effective immediately, and until further notice, passengers can travel from Australia to the gateway city of Santiago, Chile, and beyond, from just $8800 per person, including taxes.

From Sydney, LAN operates a daily one-stop Airbus A340-300 flight to Santiago, with onward connections throughout South America.

The A340s, and LAN's Boeing 767-300ERS, have all been refurbished and include a brand new Premium Business Class cabin, which features 42 sleeper seats with 180 degree full flat recline, a spacious 74 inches (183 centimetres) of legroom between each seat and access to an all-new Video on Demand system, featuring 44 movies, 90+ TV programmes, 550 music CDs and 14 video games.

Examples of the new Business Class fares, including taxes, are:

From Sydney to :   Santiago $8800; Buenos Aires $8886;  Lima $8854; Sao Paulo $8879; Rio de Janeiro $8879; Guayaquil  $8942;  Mexico City $9491; Havana  $9436

From Melbourne  and Brisbane to : Santiago $8924; Buenos Aires $9009;  Lima $8977; Sao Paulo $9002; Rio de Janeiro $9002; Guayaquil  $9066;  Mexico City $9614; Havana  $9559

From Adelaide, Hobart and Cairns to:  Santiago $9138; Buenos Aires $9223;  Lima $9192; Sao Paulo $9217; Rio de Janeiro $9217; Guayaquil  $9279;  Mexico City $9829; Havana  $9774

From Perth and Darwin to: Santiago $9343; Buenos Aires $9428;  Lima $9396; Sao Paulo $9421; Rio de Janeiro $9421; Guayaquil  $9484;  Mexico City $10,034; Havana  $9979

Seats are limited at these prices and some conditions apply.

Premium Business Class has been developed not just for business travellers but for the growing number of passengers taking luxury tours to South America.

Named "Best Airline in South America" in the 2008 and 2009 Skytrax Awards for airline excellence, oneworld alliance member LAN and its affiliate airlines serve more than 50 South American destinations, from the hub airports of Santiago in Chile, Buenos Aires in Argentina and Lima, Peru.

For more information or to make a booking call travel agents or LAN's consumer reservations line on 1800 558 129, or visit

Monday, 14 September 2009



The expansion of the Brisbane Airport village has reached another milestone with the announcement by Accor Hotels of a December 1 opening date for Novotel Brisbane Airport, the city’s first airport hotel.

The opening will allow pre-Christmas visitors to Brisbane to take advantage of special introductory rates from $229 per room.

Located just off Airport Drive in the Airport Village precinct at Brisbane Domestic and International Airport, the 157 room, 4.5 star property is being developed by Kenlynn Properties Australia.

The hotel can be accessed via road or by AirTrain utilising a complimentary bus transfer loop running between the domestic and international terminals and the hotel. It is opposite the Airport Village Complex and a short walk from the DFO retail hub which houses over 120 leading Australian and International brands.

Designed to cater to a diverse range of short-term travelers, it includes conference facilities for small to medium groups, a restaurant serving contemporary Australian cuisine, stylish bar with separate lounge area, 24 hour room service, two lane rooftop lap pool, gymnasium and sauna.

Business facilities include 6 dedicated meeting rooms and an executive boardroom ranging in capacity from 12 persons to 120 persons theatre style or cocktails. All meeting rooms have natural light, state of the art audio visual equipment, broadband, wifi, and offer easy access at ground floor level. The lobby level web corner features MAC computers enabling guests to access the internet and print their boarding pass prior to departure from the hotel.

Designed by Brisbane based firm Noel Robinson Architects, the hotel includes a six-storey atrium and a dramatic, glass-ended cantilevered rooftop pool and recreation space.

To capitalise on Queensland’s year-round subtropical climate, the hotel has been designed to harness natural light and outdoor living spaces to achieve an energy efficient building.

The interior design will comprise a blend of traditional elegance and contemporary design to provide a modern yet welcoming experience for guests.

The ground floor will feature local timber veneers and stone while the rooms will offer guests a mix of natural materials, warm colours and all the comforts of modern technology.

The precinct also features an extensive Office Park, Child Care Centres, Fitness Centre and Woolworths supermarket.

Brisbane Airport caters for approximately 4 million international and 14.7 million domestic passengers per annum.

Opening rates start from $229. For bookings or further information call 1300 65 65 65 or visit

Peru promotes Super-Mummy to Aussie tourists

Only 145cm tall and in her twenties she gave birth to at least one child.

She reined power in Peru at a time when men dominated and she lay preserved for 1,700 years.

The recent discovery of the mummy La Señora de Cao or 'Lady of Cao,' will be highlighted in a campaign next month to attract Australian travellers to Peru.

Media and travel industry presentations about the Cao mummy and Peru as a tourist destination will take place in Sydney and Melbourne on the 20th, 21st and 22nd of October.

Leading the delegation from Peru will be Rosana Guinea, Asia and Oceania Market Coordinator for PromPeru – the country's national tourism board.  Also presenting will be the Peruvian Ambassador, Claudio de La Puente and Lyda Garcia from the Wiese Foundation – caretakers of the mummy and the newly opened Cao Museum.

"Peru inevitably evokes images of Machu Picchu, the Inca Empire and the Amazon jungle but it is also has many mysterious cultural and historical treasures, unique in the world." said Rosana Guinea. 

"Recent archaeological discoveries, like the Cao mummy, are drawing record visitors." she added.

Four years ago in the remote desert area of the Chicama Valley near Trujillo in northern Peru, archaeologist Regulo Franco found a perfectly preserved, 1,700 year old tattooed mummy with long braided hair.

She was the first known governess of Peru – a powerful female leader in what was thought to be a society ruled only by men.

Wrapped in thick layers of cotton, she was entombed with precious gold jewellery, crowns, and ceramics, as well as two large ceremonial war clubs.

She was buried in El Brujo (The Wizard) – a major religious centre for the Moche People between the first and seventh centuries AD. 

Alongside her was the body of a teenage girl with a noose around her neck, sacrificed to act as a servant in the afterlife.

"The discovery of La Señora de Cao gives us startling, new insights and confirms the elevated role of women in the Mochica world – a civilization predating the Incas." said Rosana Guinea.

The Cao museum was opened in April 2009.   Exhibits include the mummy and all her possessions as well as 5,000 year old weavings and ceramics.


Ibis hotels, already renowned around the world for providing the best value accommodation, are offering guests a full buffet breakfast for just $1 per person until 31 October 2009. With rates from as little as $99 per night and the cheapest breakfast in town, Ibis hotels leave you plenty of money for shopping, dining and entertainment so you can get the most out of your holiday.

There are 14 Ibis hotels around Australia in key locations across Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Townsville, Brisbane, Newcastle and Wollongong. 

Ibis hotels have revolutionised the face of economy accommodation, providing full-service, modern hotels whose core value is providing the best value for money for guests. Ibis hotels offer clean, modern and bright rooms in prime locations, with 24-hour reception, internet access, and quality food and beverages available 24/7.

Their motto – 'Hotels the way you like them' comes from the fact that Ibis hotels surveyed guests to find out which services they really wanted and which they did not want to pay extra for. By removing such luxuries as bathrobes, porters and concierge services, customers can enjoy significant savings while not compromising on the essentials of any good hotel stay.

For bookings phone 13 IBIS or go to

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Quest Serviced Apartments Opens in Mackay

Quest Serviced Apartments opens its doors in Mackay on August 29, generating approximately 15 local jobs and injecting an estimated $6 million a year into the local economy.

The new property will invigorate Mackay's industries and provide a corporate accommodation solution for the greater Mackay region. The property has been purchased by franchisees Russell and Elise Spurrell.

Quest Chairman, Paul Constantinou, said that during construction, the project generated 300 jobs and brought an estimated $22 million to the region, supporting local suppliers and providers in the process.

The new property will service the accommodation needs of the local coal mining and agriculture sectors, as well as Mackay's flourishing marine, fishing and tourism industries.

"We understand just how important it is to contribute to the community, both in economic terms and providing the level of accommodation required to meet the growing needs of industry in the area," Mr Constantinou said.

The established mining and agricultural industries critical to Mackay will all benefit from this new accommodation offering. 

Mackay Mayor, Col Meng, said the new Quest opening shows confidence in the future of the Mackay region.

"Quest accommodation is a much-needed addition to the mix of accommodation already available," Mr Meng said.

"Quest's apartments will be valued by all visitors to the Mackay region. The new accommodation will particularly support workers coming into Mackay in pursuit of mining and agriculture."

Quest Apartments to add $6 million a year to Mackay economy

Quest Mackay is a modern property, featuring 97 studio, one and two-bedroom serviced apartments spread over four levels, with an anticipated 4.5 Star AAA Tourism rating. The property includes on-site undercover car parking, outdoor pool and conference facilities that can cater for up to 65 people.

Located at 38 Macalister Street, Quest Mackay boasts fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities, plus in-room broadband internet access and Austar connection, as well as the provision of an onsite restaurant.

"Quest will have everything the business traveller needs. It will suit people staying for shorter periods and will feel like a home-away-from-home for those who want to stay longer," Mr Constantinou said. 

At a glance:

Construction started: 21/02/2008 
Cost of development: $22 million 
Date opens: 29 August 09 
Anticipated number of staff to be employed: 15 
Accommodation type: anticipated 4.5 star serviced apartments 
Address: 38 Macalister Street, Mackay QLD 4740 
Business structure: Franchise

About Quest Serviced Apartments

Quest has become Australasia's largest provider of serviced apartments, with more than 120 properties across Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Established in 1988, Quest offers stylish, well appointed and spacious apartments designed with the business traveller in mind.

With separate bedrooms and living areas, fully equipped kitchens, additional amenities and high service standards, Quest provides flexible accommodation that allows its guests to work or relax in complete comfort.

Aviation History To Be Made As Qantas Airbus A380 Is Selected For Sightseeing Flights To Antarctica

Aviation and tourism history will be made on New Year's Eve when a Qantas Airbus A380 super jumbo operates a unique sightseeing flight to Antarctica – the first commercial flight by an A380 over the south polar region, and the only aircraft permitted to do so on New Year's Eve.

The flight, organised by Melbourne-based Antarctica Sightseeing Flights, will originate in Sydney and fly via Melbourne to reach Antarctica. Passengers will be over the "ice" at midnight and be the first in the world to see the light of the new year.

The chartered A380 will fly figure-eight patterns above the breathtaking polar terrain for up to four hours before heading back to Melbourne and Sydney.

Two other Antarctic flights are also planned for the southern summer – a second A380 service direct from Sydney on 24 January and a Boeing 747-400 from Melbourne on Valentine's Day, 14 February. All flights are operated by senior Qantas pilots, with the captain in command having previously operated Antarctica sightseeing flights.

The New Year's Eve flight to Antarctica will be under the command of Captain John Dennis, who has flown more than 40 of the 85 previous Boeing 747 flights to the ice. He will be accompanied by two other senior pilots for the inaugural A380 journey.

"Antarctica is the world's coldest, driest and windiest continent, and the fastest, most comfortable way to view it is from the air, which maximises viewing but leaves not a single footprint," said Antarctica flights founder Phil Asker, whose company has operated 85 Antarctic flights from Australia since 1994, all with Boeing 747 aircraft chartered from Qantas.

"Not only will we offer the unique opportunity for New Year's Eve travellers to farewell 2009 and welcome 2010 flying low and slow over the breathtaking Antarctic landscape – we will offer the bonus opportunity to make aviation history aboard the first commercial flight by an A380 to the south polar region," he said.

Antarctica sightseeing flights do not land in Antarctica. On a typical flight, the first icebergs are seen approximately three hours after passing over Hobart. The most frequently-used route then takes the aircraft over the polar icecap, the South Magnetic Pole, the French scientific base at Dumont d'Urville, rugged coastal cliffs, massive glaciers and finally the spectacular Trans-Antarctic Range before returning to Australia.

On board, experts deliver commentary and stories of their own experiences in Antarctica, and stroll through the cabin throughout the flight to speak to passengers.

Videos are screened about Antarctic life and history and a camera on the flight deck gives passengers a pilot's eye view, via the cabin entertainment screens, of takeoff and landing in Australia and of the polar landscape ahead. There is even a jazz band moving through the cabin during the New Year's Eve flight.

All flights include two full international meals plus snacks and drinks.
The Qantas Airbus A380 fleet is configured to seat up to 450 passengers with eight different seating options available for Antarctic flights.
Pricing from Sydney and Melbourne for the New Year's Eve flight ranges from $999 for an Economy Class Centre seat to $6,299 in First Class.

Passengers from other Australian destinations, or from overseas, can also buy competitive air fares to Melbourne or Sydney to join the New Year's Eve flight or one of the other Antarctic sightseeing trips.

The inaugural A380 sightseeing flight from Melbourne to Antarctica on New Year's Eve will take about 11 ½ hours and cover some 9,500 kilometres, including up to four hours above the Antarctic terrain. Sydney direct flights to Antarctica take up to 12 ½ hours.

Under strictly controlled conditions, the aircraft can descend to a minimum of 3,077 metres (10,000 feet) above sea level or 615 metres (2,000 feet) above the highest terrain within 180 kilometres. At all times, the aircraft is in contact with the Qantas operations centre in Sydney, and with air traffic controllers in both Australia or the US research base at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica.

Approval has been secured for 19 Antarctica flight routes, with final selection based upon weather details obtained immediately before departure from Australia. During the flight, the captain in command can request a change of course to maximise viewing opportunities.

Strict environmental guidelines apply for sightseeing flights over Antarctica. The A380 is the largest and greenest passenger aircraft in service today, achieving up to 10 per cent greater fuel efficiency than other large airliners. It has a maximum flying range of 15,200 km.
Antarctica Sightseeing Flights offsets the carbon emissions caused by its office activities and by staff flights. Passengers are also able to offset the carbon emissions caused by their Antarctica flight.

For more information on pricing, travel dates or other details, or to book an Antarctica sightseeing flight, visit travel agents in Australia, call 1800 633 449 or visit Antarctic images taken from earlier flights can also be viewed at the website, and images or footage are available for media use.

Although the Antarctic sightseeing flights are operated by Qantas, the flights are private charters and not able to be purchased through Qantas reservations.

TLSee - Afternoon Tea With A Difference At Swissôtel The Howard, London

Big Ben, the Crown Jewels, the London Underground, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye are not only some of the sights that visitors to London can feast their eyes on, but also something to feast their appetites. TLSee (Tea, London and Sightseeing) is the new afternoon tea concept at Swissôtel The Howard, London that treats guests to edible versions of the famous sights of the city on the Thames.

TLSee will feature nine different London landmarks (some in 3-D) served up alongside traditional finger sandwiches and home-baked scones. Freshly prepared in the hotel patisserie, these TLSee treats are baked in special tin moulds created by Swissôtel The Howard, London’s Executive Chef Brian Spark which are exact miniature replicas of these famous sites.

“Afternoon tea is popular with locals and tourists alike, hence we have come up with a novel, humorous variant – the TLSee”, says Andreas Stys, General Manager of Swissôtel The Howard, London. “Visitors to London who are unable to make it to sights like Big Ben can take a break in our hotel and enjoy the landmarks in the form of a chocolate cake instead. Incidentally the name TLSee is derived from the common English expression TLC, which stands for tender loving care.”

TLSee afternoon tea is available from 10 September 2009 from 1.00 pm to 7.00 pm daily at Swissôtel The Howard, London. An introductory promotional price of £28 per person for the first month includes a glass of Alain Thienot champagne. Reservations can be made via +44 (0) 207 300 1700 or

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