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Friday, 29 May 2009

Sea World Launches 2009 Whale Watching Season!

The first of thousands of Humpback Whales will be travelling past the Gold Coast as Sea World Whale Watch officially launches its 2009 season this Monday 1st June.

The Gold Coast whale watching season will run from June to November during the annual Humpback Whale migration and Sea World Whale Watch will again offer the ultimate whale watching experience.

Sea World Whale Watch will run tours daily (weather permitting) throughout the season, departing at 11am and returning at approximately 1.30pm.

Sea World Director of Marine Sciences Trevor Long said that Sea World’s custom designed catamaran and advanced educational facilities enhanced the amazing experience of getting up close to the whales.

“Whale watching is a truly wonderful experience and it’s something that everyone should do at least once in their lifetime.”

“The Humpback Whale population that migrates along our east coast is growing by between 8 and 13 percent annually, and we are expecting to see about 12,000 whales pass the Gold Coast in 2009”, he said.

Sea World Whale Watch experienced a fantastic inaugural season in 2008, with 100% whale sightings and thousands of happy whale watchers. The Sea World Whale Watch crew is also looking forward to assisting with whale rescues in 2009, after their 2008 experience where the crew spotted and followed an entangled whale until the Sea World Research and Rescue team arrived to assist.

Sea World Whale Watch tickets cost $88 for Adults and $66 for Children and Pensioners. Guests will also have the opportunity to purchase their Whale Watching ticket as part of a combo deal which will include entry into Sea World with-in two days. Combo tickets cost $99 Adults, $77 Children and Pensioners.

Media are invited to experience a special whale watching trip.

DETAILS

DATE: Monday 1 June

TIME: 8am for interviews;

8.30am – 10am for special media whale watching tour

LOCATION: Meet Renee Soutar at Sea World Cruise Terminal in the Sea World car park

OPPORTUNITIES: Vision and stills of whales on board the tour There will also be a small group of public aboard the tour available for vox pops

INTERVIEWS: Trevor Long, Sea World Director of Marine Sciences

EPK: Media will be supplied with vision and stills of Humpback Whales to supplement what is taken on the day

RSVP: Please call Renee to RSVP your place on the boat by 12pm Sunday 31 May

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Is This Your Lost Luggage?


It is often said that the last place you look for lost property is inevitably where you’ll find it. Until now, the internet has not been the first (or indeed the last) place air travellers look for their lost luggage. The launch of website isthisyourluggage.com means that your lost luggage in all its glory may be posted on the internet for all to see.

British woman, Luna Laboo has launched the website in a bid to help reunite travellers with their lost luggage. The website features a series of bags which the user clicks on to reveal the contents within. Pictures of a kinky nurse’s outfit, dirty socks and sexy undies - all lost in transit - have been posted online so far. The advice of your mother to always pack plenty of clean underwear has never been more relevant!

Laboo purchases the lost luggage at airline auctions, which are held regularly by airlines to clear out their stores of lost luggage once all reasonable methods to find the owner have been exhausted. Ms Laboo said the idea for her website came to her six months ago after hearing about luggage going missing at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 in London. At the time, about 20,000 bags had been lost in the system.

Some may see this site as strange new breed of voyeurism, whilst others view Laboo as the ultimate good samaritan. Our members are divided on the issue. Some find it rather creepy that a complete stranger can purchase your personal effects and place the contents online, whilst others have found the logic in the situation and argue that most of luggage would be technically owned by insurance companies if they had paid out on traveller’s claims. One member is sceptical about the airlines policy of selling lost luggage and believes that few peoples luggage would not have some identifying markers on it.

Laboo is yet to reunite any of the owners with the luggage but she has states she is looking forward to acquiring more suitcases.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

MCLEOD’S DAUGHTERS STAR INSPIRED BY ULURU

McLeod's Daughters actress Zoe Naylor ventured to the Red Centre for the first time to shoot the cover of Australian Traveller Magazine's Outback Issue - out now.

Staying in the luxury white-domed tents of Voyages Longitude 131° Naylor was touched by the experience.

"I was blown away by the place. Its shapes, colours, and life were breathtaking. I had that typical Aussie feeling of 'at last I get it'," said Naylor of her first venture into the Red Centre. "It was one of the most adventurous and stimulating places I have ever been," Naylor added.

She will definitely be returning to experience the Red Centre at a more leisurely pace than the hectic shooting schedule demanded of a cover shoot.

And like any true star, she was treated to the very best of the Red Centre, staying at Voyages Longitude 131°, Australia's premier safari-style resort boasting luxury tents with unrivalled views of Uluru.

Each elevated, five-star tent is as unique as its surroundings, paying homage to Australian pioneers who have a distinct relationship with the deserts of Central Australia. No expense has been spared to ensure the quality of room inclusions and guest comfort levels. Few properties can match the solitude and privacy offered by the location.

"Beyond imaginable, Longitude 131° is such a special place. It makes you appreciate what a privilege it is to be an Australian when you can experience such incredible landscapes in total luxury," Naylor said.

Just nine kilometres from Uluru, Voyages Longitude 131° has set new standards for eco-tourism in Australia, with 15 luxurious tented sanctuaries on the border of the spiritually powerful, dual world heritage-listed of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Voyages Longitude 131° continues to attract visitors worldwide to experience the very heart of Australia - in style, luxury and with minimal impact on the environment.

Voyages is an Australian travel company, providing experience-based holidays in spectacular wilderness locations including the Red Centre, Queensland, The Kimberley and Tasmania. Voyages operate award-winning properties such as Ayers Rock Resort, Longitude 131°, Lizard Island, Silky Oaks Lodge and Cradle Mountain Lodge.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Introducing Fiji's Sigatoka River Safari

Fiji's Best Experience and Adventure Tour

For the best authentic Fijian experience for 2 to 92 year olds, look no further than Sigatoka River Safari, winner of the 2008 Best Fiji Experience and 2007 Best Adventure Tour at the annual AON Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards.

As Fiji's original jet-boat safari, Sigatoka River Safari offers a half-day, uniquely Fijian adventure into the heart and soul of Fiji, aboard custom-built safari jet boats.

The four and half hour adventure starts from the minute passengers depart Sigatoka Town as they embark on a spectacular 10 mile journey through the picturesque Sigatoka Valley, or fertile "salad bowl" of Fiji as it is called by locals, to the jet boat departure point.

After a short stroll thorough the Fijian jungle, passengers board the safari jet boat on the Sigatoka River where they see first-hand the inner beauty of the main island of Fiji.

As the boats head up Fiji's longest river into the highlands, passengers learn about the amazing history of Fiji, the Sigatoka Valley and the ways in which the river was and still is used today.

The tour then reaches a village destination where a warm welcome by the villagers awaits. Passengers visit the village Chief's bure, take part in a kava ceremony, tour the authentic village and are treated to a traditional Fijian lunch. The village visit ends with traditional Fijian singing and dancing.

Sigatoka River Safari operates Monday to Saturday, 8.30am to 1.00pm. For pick-ups from Coral Coast resorts prices are adults FJD$210.00 and children (4 -15yrs) FJD$99.00. Prices for pick-ups from Nadi/Denarau resorts are adults FJD$230.00 and children (4 to 15yrs) FJD$110.00. All children under 3 are free. Visit www.sigatokariver.com

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Alaska's hottest deals

Denali National Park and Preserve

Travelers can save $100 per night at the Denali Cabins located near the entrance to Denali National Park and Preserve. Guests enjoy the charm of an Alaska cedar cabin with all the comforts of a modern hotel room including private baths, television and more. Alaska Denali Tours and Denali Lodges also offers activities, meals and transportation. This special applies to any room at Denali Cabins and is available until May 31. For more information, call 877-300-1992 or visit www.AlaskaDenaliTours.com.

Fairbanks

The Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and Conference Center is offering the Northern Lights Package for just $95 between Sept. 15, 2009 and April 15, 2010. This package includes one night for two people in a deluxe room, continental breakfast buffet for two, northern lights wake-up call, a map of northern lights viewing areas and two signature coffee tumblers complete with hot chocolate, cookies and hand warmers to keep travelers toasty while viewing. For more information, visit www.westmarkhotels.com/packages-specials.php.

Mat-Su Valley

All Alaska Tours invites travelers to save 25 percent per person when they book the Chugach Mountain Glacier Getaway in the Mat-Su Valley. This trip includes three days and two nights at the Knik River Lodge, transfer from downtown Anchorage, guided airboat tour to Knik Glacier, two breakfasts, one picnic lunch and two dinners. With the discount, the cost of this tour is just $359 per person based on double occupancy (regular price $485 per person). For more information, call 1-866-317-3325 or click HERE.


www.travelalaska.com

New Geo-Tourism Destination - Dig the Tropic - Outback to the Reef

Get your hands on history!
 
Launching in June 2009, geo-savvy visitors, students and school groups will have the opportunity to learn first-hand all about the geological wonders located along the Tropic of Capricorn, from the Great Barrier Reef and Yeppoon, to Boulia in Outback Queensland – this is 'Dig the Tropic' country – Australia's newest geo-tourism destination.
 
Dig the Tropic will position the region as a world leader in geo-tourism - defined as "tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents". This means, not only will Dig the Tropic offer a great destination for all 'geo-visitors', it will also provide educational outcomes to complement primary and high school curriculums, and university courses in the fields of the geo-sciences, social sciences, history, the natural environment, and 'people and places' subjects.
 
Individual geo-tourists, students and groups will be able to visit geo-tourism attractions, and get their 'hands on' experience at a number of unique Dig the Tropic locations.
 
New 'Dig the Tropic' interpretive signage will be developed to provide visitor education and interpretation of some of the key geo-tourism themes, stories and attractions along the Tropic of Capricorn.
 
To coincide with the launch in June 2009, Dig the Tropic is undertaking an extensive media plan to promote the experience, including media releases, a map, fact sheets, mail-out kits to schools and geo groups, local radio promotions, and the production of an extensive educational website and online community photographic competition. Regional Councils and Mayors are major participants in this program of media activities to further enhance the marketing of this fantastic new geo-tourism destination.  
 
The Dig the Tropic project is proudly funded by the Federal Government through an Australian Tourism Development Program (ATDP) grant. Capricorn Tourism was successful with obtaining the grant to undertake the project in September 2007. 
 
For further information:
 
 

Friday, 22 May 2009

ROYAL CARIBBEAN UNVEILS 2011 DUBAI VACATIONS

Brilliance of the Seas Returns to Dubai for Second Consecutive Season
 
Royal Caribbean International announced Brilliance of the Seas' 2011 return to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates following the cruise line's 2010 inaugural season. The second consecutive seasonal sailings will comprise nine roundtrip sailings from January through March 2011, visiting some of the Arabian coast's most intriguing destinations on a seven-night itinerary, with an overnight in Dubai at the beginning and end of each cruise. Vacationers also can choose a four-night cruisetour extension for an unforgettable 11-night Arabian adventure. Bookings for Royal Caribbean's 2011 Dubai cruises and cruisetours are now open. Cruisetour guests will be escorted by a tour director and will experience the destinations via four-wheel drive, travelling to sand dunes, majestic mountainsides, mosques and tranquil, picturesque villages. Other highlights include camel racing and a sunset dinner at a Bedouin camp – all sandwiched in between an overnight stay in Dubai, for its superlative shopping opportunities, and a luxurious desert resort stay just outside the city.
 
 

Australia's OzJet goes into administration

By Leithen Francis - FlightGlobal

Australian carrier OzJet has gone into voluntary administration and is trying to maintain its charter contracts by turning to other airlines to do the work.

"The company was placed into administration by the airline's chairman on Wednesday" 20 May, OzJet CEO, Willie O'Neill, tells ATI referring to OzJet chairman Nicholas Leach. Leach is also CEO of HeavyLift Cargo Airlines, which bought OzJet in May 2008 from Paul Stoddart, the former owner of the Minardi Formula One race team.

Read full article

Thursday, 21 May 2009

INTERCONTINENTAL FIJI GOLF RESORT & SPA OPENING JUNE 2009

One of the world’s best beaches is now home to the pinnacle of luxury resorts, with the June 1 opening of InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa on Natadola Beach, the pride of Fiji’s Coral Coast.

Stay at InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa with special opening rates from FJ$280.00 (approx. AU$170.00) inclusive taxes, room only per night. This rate is subject to availability, for travel before the end of 2009. Visit www.intercontinental.com/fiji or call 1800 221 335.

Spread across 35 acres of tropical gardens, InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa is the sole destination resort on Natadola Beach – the only stretch of natural, white sand beach on the main island of Fiji, Viti Levu. Protected by a reef to create an aqua-blue ocean facing lagoon, Natadola Beach was voted by Forbes Magazine in 2008 as one of the 25 best beaches in the world.

“Before the InterContinental resort, visitors to Fiji had to travel to the outer islands to find the archipelago’s beautiful beaches, which can add up to a couple of days of travel to the journey. InterContinental Fiji brings that authentic Fijian outer-island experience to the mainland,” said the resort general manager, Neil Houghton.

“This is a pristine location that InterContinental Fiji will protect, celebrate and share with the world.”

A true destination resort, InterContinental Fiji has been created to provide a luxurious pacific retreat for discerning travellers seeking more than just a beachside getaway. From the overall design and layout of the resort itself through to the smallest details, InterContinental Fiji is a visitor’s gateway to authentic Fijian experiences.

The resort itself will be the pride of the Pacific. Guests will find:

Rooms: The smallest of InterContinental Fiji’s 216 rooms and suites is 65m2, much larger than other standard resort rooms in Fiji. Every single room has a private terrace or balcony featuring a Cleopatra-style tub and day beds for two, and a BOSE surround sound system, with contemporary interiors creating the understated elegance of an InterContinental resort.

Leisure and entertainment: alongside the endless possibilities for leisure that one of the world’s most stunning stretches of pristine coastline affords, InterContinental Fiji has four swimming pools (including an adult-only infinity-edged pool, and a 105-metre family activity pool), its own on-site dive centre, a recreation and beach activities centre, volleyball, petanque lawn, yoga deck, the Meke entertainment lawn for indigenous and cultural shows, a full gym and fitness centre, and on-site shopping and tour facilities.

Bars and restaurants: no less than five restaurants and bars complement an extensive range of destination dining options and in-room dining. The resort offers locally-inspired and international cuisines and ever-changing menus to take best advantage of the freshest local produce on any given day.

Golf: opening with the resort, the Natadola Bay par 72, 7,000 yard Golf Course alongside InterContinental Fiji will be the country’s first international competition standard course. With 15 of its 18 holes hugging the Coral Coast, and up to five different tee-off stages per hole, the course’s stunning location will provide a forgivable distraction to its many challenges.

Spa: nestled among water features and aromatic gardens, the purpose-built spa is a haven of relaxation. Its modern and traditional treatments draw on indigenous plants and herbs that have been used to heal for generations. It also features a Wai Water Zone offering gas, liquid and solid aquatherapy treatments – including Fiji’s first Ice Room.

Planet Trekkers: the resort’s signature kid’s club, designed to entertain and inspire guests aged three to 12 years old. Designed as a mini-resort for younger guests, Planet Trekkers is a professionally-supervised facility with fun and educational activities and areas split into two age groups (three to seven, and eight to 12). Indoor and outdoor club facilities include basketball courts and other sporting equipment.

Still to come is Club InterContinental, offering seasoned travellers the exclusivity of a resort within a resort. With its own Club facility including private pool and lounge area, Club InterContinental at InterContinental Fiji will offer 55 hilltop villas – many of which will feature individual plunge pools and spa baths. Club InterContinental is expected to open September 2009.

“With its private location – which we will continue to protect and preserve – as well as captivating design, sumptuous accommodation, creative world-class dining and commitment to delivering authentic Fijian experiences and activities, InterContinental Fiji will truly become one of the most magnificent luxury retreats in the South Pacific,” Neil said.

Like all InterContinental Hotels and Resorts worldwide, InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa will offer a range of Insider packages for guests seeking authentically Fijian experiences during their stay. For more information on the range of accommodation options and packages available at InterContinental Fiji, visit www.intercontinental.com/fiji or call 1800 221 335.

INTERCONTINENTAL MELBOURNE THE RIALTO among WALLPAPER* 2009 TOP 50 BUSINESS HOTELS Worldwide



ONLY AUSTRALIAN HOTEL TO MAKE PRESTIGIOUS INTERNATIONAL LIST

InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto has received another international accolade, as the only hotel in Australia to be included in the 2009 Wallpaper* penultimate list of the 50 Best Business Hotels around the world.

Compiled in cooperation with Fortune magazine, the annual list celebrates the “50 most stylish new, or newly revamped business hotels around the globe.” InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, which opened in late 2008 after a AU$60 million restoration of the historic The Rialto building, was recognised among the world’s best business hotels for design, location, facilities and service.

InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto was recognised for the extraordinary transformation of The Rialto and Winfield buildings by hotel design doyen, Joseph Pang. The judges noted the hotel’s range of executive rooms and suites linked to the Club InterContinental Lounge with its cigar-club vibe, and it’s location as the only luxury hotel in Melbourne’s financial district.

The Wallpaper* award is the second international achievement for InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto in as many months, following its inclusion in the 2009 Conde Nast Traveler Hot List. Only three Australian properties made the 13th annual Conde Nast list of the world’s hottest new hotels and resorts.

“Within less than six months of opening, we’ve achieved two of the world’s most influential accolades a hotel can receive. Our hotel has clearly captured the world’s imagination, and it’s a wonderful feeling to be considered by such esteemed judges as not only Australia’s best new business hotel, but one of the very best in the world,” said InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto general manager, Manrique Rodriguez.

The combination of old and new Melbourne has been brought to life in the design of InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto. One of the last remaining examples of 18th century Victorian Gothic architecture left in the city, the building’s Rialto and Winfield wings create a deep, narrow atrium that Joseph Pang has turned into a celebration of light and colour. In combining classic and contemporary colour palettes and design elements, he has exemplified the transformation from heritage-listed hulk to a timeless and inspiring hotel.

Book a stay at InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto from AU$295.00 per room, per night by visiting www.intercontinental.com/melbourne or call 1800 221 335.

For more information on the 2009 Wallpaper* Best Business Hotels, visit www.wallpaper.com.

Accor launches All Seasons resort on Magnetic Island


Accor has boosted its presence in north Queensland with the launch of the All Seasons Magnetic Island. The All Seasons, which was previously known as Magnetic International Resort, is the first internationally branded resort on Magnetic Island.

Located just 8km off the coast of Townsville and only a 20 minute ferry ride, Magnetic Island is one of the most attractive and accessible Great Barrier Reef islands. The island offers beautiful beaches, a year-round warm climate, snorkeling and bushwalking, with nearly 80% of the island a protected National Park.

Set amongst 10 acres of lush tropical gardens and manicured lawns, the All Seasons Magnetic Island in Nelly Bay adds a touch of style and comfort to its idyllic setting.

Open breezy living areas and spacious verandahs capture the essence of island living. The resort has 80 resort rooms and 16 family suites, making it ideal for couples and families. Each room has a kitchenette with tea and coffee making facilities, toaster, fridge, microwave, cutlery and crockery.

A feature of the resort is its wide range of activities, including:

* Two flood lit tennis courts
* Games room
* Newly renovated open air gymnasium with full shade covers and tropical surrounds
* Large swimming pool with an adjoining toddlers pool
* Playground
* Bird-feeding (of Blue Wing Kookaburras)
* Jogging and fitness circuits

The resort also offers a guest laundry, wireless hot spot and business services.

Overlooking the pool is the terrace which leads into MacArthur's Restaurant, where guests can enjoy a moonlit dinner of fresh seafood and tropical fruits on the terrace, which overlooks the pool and surrounding gardens.

The All Seasons caters for conference and incentive groups as well as weddings and other functions with a dedicated function centre that can be used in association with the resort’s many al fresco venue areas.

Rates for the resort start from AUD$129 a night.

To celebrate the launch, All Seasons Magnetic Island resort is offering every guest that stays two nights a free upgrade to receive a full buffet breakfast for just $1, plus a welcome daiquiri (per room two based on two people staying). The ‘upgrade’ offer is available for those traveling until 25 June (and is subject to availability).

The All Seasons Magnetic Island joins a network of 22 All Seasons hotels in Australia, including State capital cities such as Melbourne and Perth, and major resort destinations such as Albany, Port Macquarie, Cairns, Phillip Island and Kangaroo Island. The brand also operates in Bali, Phuket, Pattaya and more recently in major European cities including Paris and Hamburg.

The All Seasons brand is operated by Accor, the largest hotel group in Australia with over 140 hotels in every State and Territory. Accor is the largest hotel operator in north Queensland, with the All Seasons joining Grand Mercure, Mercure and Ibis hotels in Townsville.

For bookings and more information about the hotel www.all-seasons-hotels.com or 1300 65 65 65.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Private Islands Make Fabulous Memories for Families and Romantic Couples


Private butlers and other luxury amenities cater to those who want to be pampered, while plenty of island activities appeal to people on the go.

A recent visit to Half Moon Cay, Holland America's private island in the Bahamas, illustrates the cruise travel industry's ongoing effort to exceed the expectations of its guests. Air-conditioned, open-air beach cabanas are available just a few steps from warm, blue, pristine waters. Private butlers magically appear (for a small fee) from nowhere to fill one's beverage glass; others prepare hot and chilled appetizers, as well as cool cucumbers to sooth guests' eyes from the tropical sun.

Is this heaven? Not quite, but these breathtaking private islands surely are memorable for cruisers wanting to enjoy total stress reduction, according to Bob Levinstein, CEO of CruiseCompete.com, the world's exclusive competitive cruise pricing Web site.

"The cruise lines are continually looking for new ways to exceed their customers' expectations and their private islands have been a huge success," Levinstein said. "Surveys of cruise travelers often indicate their favorite stop on a cruise was their visit to the private island. There's no question this is a wow factor that brings them back to enjoy another cruise."

Many Caribbean cruises include a stop at some of the Caribbean Sea's most picturesque islands. Turquoise waters, stunning coral reefs, beautiful beaches, native fauna and wildlife draw the awe of visitors. For the more active crowd, a variety of optional island exploration and water sports activities keep people busy all day long.

Beach umbrellas, cabanas and other shady spots are available to those who want to step out of the sun. Beachside massages sooth the senses. Guests who want privacy are invited to visit many of the islands' more isolated and secluded beaches. Families are more than welcome, with plenty to do for all ages, including aqua parks, hiking trails and other kid-friendly activities. Many areas on the islands are handicap accessible.

The following is a rundown on the private island ports of call by cruise line:

Costa Cruises- Costa Cruises guests visit Catalina Island, off the coast of the Dominican Republic. It features activities such as volleyball, beach Olympics, snorkeling and massages on the beach. Cruise passengers can also rent jet skis, go for banana-boat rides, or relax on a long beach edged with palm trees. Music and barbecues complete an idyllic day and, for the tourist-minded, visitors can purchase jewelry, beachwear and other souvenirs.

Disney Cruise Line - Disney's Castaway Cay provides plenty of magic and fun for people of all ages. The three-mile long island, of which only ten percent has been developed, provides plenty of opportunities for guests to enjoy its natural beauty. The island caters to guests in true Disney style. This is the only private island featuring cruise ship-docking capabilities, versus shuttle boats between the ship and island. This allows guests to come and go as they wish. Attractions include the Castaway Family Beach, Serenity Bay for adults, Teen Beach and Scuttle's Cove for kids, plus numerous water sports, snorkeling and water tour excursions.

Holland America - Half Moon Cay, rated the "Best Private Island" by Porthole Cruise Magazine, 8 times now, is located on three mile-long Little San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, of which only two percent has been developed. Half Moon Cay was built on a crescent-shaped white sand beach more than a mile in length. Island attractions include horseback riding, snorkeling with stingrays, personal watercraft tours, kayak lagoon tours, parasailing, massages and the Half Moon Lagoon Aqua Park. Your private butler will attend to virtually any need during your stay, and the island makes a lovely setting for a destination wedding.

MSC Cruises- Many MSC Caribbean cruises stop for the day in Cayo Levantado, off the northeast coast of the Dominican Republic's Samana Peninsula. As at all the other private islands, passengers can enjoy a beautiful beach, go snorkeling or swimming. There are beach chairs, umbrellas and walking paths, plus tables for an open-air lunch. Travelers also have the option of taking a tour (including jeep safaris and whale-watching).

Unlike the other cruise lines, Cayo Levantado isn't actually MSC's private island; it's owned by a Dominican company. Another caveat: a day at this beach is considered a shore excursion, and passengers are charged a fee to play here.

Norwegian Cruise Line - Travelers set foot on Great Stirrup Cay, located 120 nautical miles east of Fort Lauderdale in the Berry Island chain of the Bahamas. There are two maintained beaches on the island, plus several other more isolated ones. Visitors enjoy native fauna, animals and marine life at every turn. Water sports activities include snorkeling, paddle boats, sailboats, kayaks and parasailing. Special cruise line "Olympic" competitions are frequently held on the island for guests, as well.

Princess Cruise Line - Princess Cays is located on the southern portion of Eleuthera Island in the Bahamas, featuring white-sand beaches and turquoise waters great for snorkeling. Island activities include seaboards, aqua bikes, Hobie Cat and Sunfish sailboats, paddle wheelers, Banana Boats or transparent hull kayaks at the water sports pier. Enjoy a beach barbeque and a full staff of drink servers is ready with cocktails and soda. For those who want to just relax, there are plenty of beach umbrellas, tiki huts and hammocks slung between shady trees.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises- Although not affiliated with Princess, ships of Regent Seven Seas do make stops at Princess Cays on some of their Caribbean itineraries.

Royal Caribbean and Celebrity- Located in the middle of the Caribbean is the secluded 140-acre private island of Coco Cay, reserved exclusively for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity guests. The tropical paradise was recently updated with new aquatic facilities, nature trails and numerous places to relax. A favorite attraction is the new 20,000 square-foot Caylana's Castle Cove, a fun-filled floating aqua playground. Other popular activities include SeaTrek adventure waverunners, snorkeling and parasailing 400 feet above Coco Cay. The sandy beach and coral reefs of Labadee, their second private island, also is a wonderful place to relax and have fun. Activities include kayaking, snorkeling, parasailing and bike riding. Become a pirate for a day, ride a waverunner, or just lie on the beach and relax.

About the Compete Ventures Brand –Compete Ventures is dedicated to making markets more efficient through competition. The company creates online marketplaces in specific niches employing an online competitive-quote model.

About the CruiseCompete Concept

CruiseCompete.com was named one of the "25 Best Value Travel Sites" on the Internet by Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine and one of the 36 Web sites that consumers "should know" when planning a vacation, according to The Washington Post. For more information, visit www.CruiseCompete.com.

Since 2003, over 1,000 cruise experts have provided close to 5 million quotes to over 1 Million quote requests. For more information, visit www.CruiseCompete.com or www.CruiseCompeteGroups.com.

Affiliated Companies

ResortCompete.com saves consumers time and money by finding them best deals on all-inclusive resort vacations. Consumers secure quotes from multiple travel agencies, resort operators and vacation wholesalers without having to contact each one separately.

ResortCompete is a Compete Ventures Company. It is not owned by or affiliated with any travel agency. For more information, visit www.ResortCompete.com

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Hong Kong Summer Spectacular June 29-August 31

Cathay Pacific Holidays has a choice of 10 hotels in packages linked to economy return airfares with Cathay Pacific Airways for the Hong Kong Summer Spectacular event between June 29 and August 31.

The Summer Spectacular features special offers, shopping, food festivals and a broad range of events.

Prices for all packages also include a choice of admission to Ocean Park Tour, Aqualina Cruise, seat in coach round trip transfers or Airport Express Link transfer.

The five-star hotel packages are priced from $1,779 per person twin share which come with a free copy of the Miele Restaurant Guide. One hotel has added late check-out as part of the deal while another has included a HJKD$500 (about AUD $100) food and beverage credit.

The four-star hotel packages are from $1,199 and they also come with a free copy of the Miele guide. One hotel is offering Superior Room and another has late check out.

The 3.5-star hotel packages are priced from $1,159. One hotel has included breakfast for two and late checkout in its package.

Taxes and fuel charges are additional and will cost about $190.

Contact: Cathay Pacific Holidays tel  1300 137 808 or 03 9668 8723, Email: cxholidays@oexpress.com.au, see www.oetravel.com.au

 

AUSSIES’ FLYING FRUSTRATIONS


A travel.com.au survey discovers that more than 50% of Australians are frustrated before even boarding a flight

RUDE flight attendants, chatterboxes, poor passenger hygiene, reclining seats and dirty toilets are amongst the nation’s greatest flying frustrations according to a survey conducted by travel.com.au.

But delayed flights topped the list with over half of the survey’s 1700-plus* respondents, indicating that the most frustrating aspect of flying occurred before the plane had even left the tarmac.

Discussing the survey results, Travel.com.au General Manager – Brand Lisa Ferrari, said: “The days when airplane food was the biggest bugbear of passengers are obviously gone – it didn’t even score a place in the list.”

“Instead, nowadays it seems the biggest flying frustration comes before passengers have even boarded the plane,” Ferrari said.

Discussing the result further, Ferrari said that many of the respondents went further – pinpointing the lack of information about a delayed flight as the most frustrating component.

One respondent’s comment managed to sum up the feelings of many in the survey group: “As far as I am concerned they can apologise for a delay all they like, but unless you tell me what’s going on and how long it’s going to take to fix it, I’m gonna (sic) get annoyed”.

For Ferrari, who flies regularly and has even had to request the assistance of a flight attendant to get past a sleeping passenger, the remainder of the results came as less of a surprise.

“Evidently I’m not the only person whose attempts to get to the bathroom have been hampered by a passenger who just can’t be woken,” Ferrari said.

Ferrari said she also agreed with the 47.9% of respondents who got frustrated by people who reclined their seats all the way back on short flights.

“Given that it can severely cut into your already limited seat space, I’d throw my support behind a decision by the airlines to regulate when you can and can’t recline your seats. Extenuating circumstances aside, I’m just not sure it’s necessary on an hour flight.”

According to respondents, the fourth most frustrating event was being sat next to an overweight passenger who encroached on their own seat.

This result reinforced the findings of a survey conducted by travel.com.au in November 2008, which found that 53% of Australian thought obese people should have to purchase two economy class tickets if they couldn’t fit into one.

“Evidently this remains a contentious issue for Australian travellers.”

Australian Travellers’ top 8 Flying Frustrations

1. Flight delays
2. People putting their seats back during short flights
3. Being trapped in your seat by a sleeping passenger
4. Overweight passengers who encroach on your own seat
5. The poor hygiene of fellow passengers
6. Being stuck next to a passenger who won’t stop talking
7. Dirty toilets
8. Rude flight attendants

*Editor’s Notes

In April 2009, travel.com.au surveyed 1744 Australian travellers as part of its annual Travel Habits Survey. The information provided in this release was compiled from the answers given to the question: ‘What frustrates you when you’re flying’.

Online travel money to save last minute hassles

With research revealing more than 60 per cent of Australians are looking at ways to trim the cost of their next holiday*, Travelex has launched a new online service aimed at making one aspect of overseas travel cheaper and easier.

Travelex’s new online service allows travellers to purchase foreign currency commission-free up to 21 days in advance. This gives travellers more control when planning and budgeting for their overseas travel, allowing them greater piece of mind and encouraging them to continue booking their holidays.

The online travel money service was first launched in the UK where it now accounts for 11 per cent of total retail sales.

Travellers simply order and pay online, turn up at their departing airport, CBD or suburban store, collect their pre-paid currency, and get on with the relaxing business of holidaying.

As well as being able to lock in an exchange rate up to 21 days in advance, giving travellers greater control when planning and budgeting for their overseas travel, they are also able to avoid extra fees, with Travelex’s no-commission online transactions

“Being able to lock in an exchange rate in advance, while avoiding paying any commission fees, is a major advantage in terms of holiday budgeting, particularly given recent currency fluctuations and market uncertainty,” said Managing Director Travelex Online, Matt McCarthy.

Mr McCarthy also suggested travellers re-evaluate how much money they will need in light of the economic climate and ensure they have adequate money in hand.

“We’ve all witnessed the value of the Aussie dollar decrease in recent times, so travellers should consider budgeting an extra 20 per cent in travel money to take into account the depreciation of the Australian Dollar since October 2008.” Mr McCarthy said.

Travelex has a presence at every capital city airport in Australia, as well as 100 CBD and suburban stores nationally. More than 35 currencies can be collected at airport stores, and 16 are available in CBD, suburban and regional locations.

Holidaymakers using Travelex’s online service can make single or multi-currency purchases with a minimum spend of AUD $250 up to a maximum of $5,000.

Purchases can be made by credit card or BPAY and are available within one or two working days for credit card, or three to four days for BPAY payments when collecting at airport locations. Collections from all other locations will require two extra days of processing.

For further information or to buy travel money online visit <www.travelex.com.au>.

About Travelex Retail

Travelex is the world’s largest retail foreign exchange specialist, with over 700 retail branches in 105 airports. 40% of all worldwide passengers travel through airports in which Travelex operate – that’s a staggering 1.8 billion people each year who come into contact with the brand.

Based on total worldwide passenger flow, Travelex operates in 60% of the Top 30 international airports and Travelex conducts a retail transaction once every two seconds.

* Travelex Customer Care Survey, March 2009.

Masters of Fare Food Festival at Hamilton Island

The culinary diversity of Hamilton Island will be showcased at the Masters of Fare Food Festival from June 5 to 7.

The three day showcase opens with a poolside Mumm Champagne cocktail party on Friday 5th June at 6pm.

Saturday's offering starts bright and early with the Masters of Fare market in the Resort Centre from 9am until 4pm which features free samples as well as cooking and serving tips from some of the country's top food suppliers.  The market will also operate during the same hours on Sunday.

Two sessions of 'Ready Steady Cook' will be run on Saturday with a final cook off, featuring local talent being held on Sunday.

Midday on a tropical island is generally considered to be a civilised time to enjoy a cocktail, so Suntory will host a cocktail display at 12pm on Sunday and Pernod Ricard will do their presentation on Sunday.  Each display will be fun and interactive and showcase the hottest cocktails of the moment.

Dinner on Saturday night is delicious buffet with wines from the Wild Oats range while the must-do event of the weekend is the Masters of Fare dinner at The Outrigger.  This degustation dinner will feature an array of courses prepared by Suntory, Hamilton Island Conventions, Mariners, Pool Terrace, Beach Club, Beach House, Romano's and qualia.

The majority of events and displays over the Masters of Fare are offered to guests on a complimentary basis, with the exception of the evening functions.  Tickets to the welcome cocktail party are $60.  The buffet on Saturday night is $80 per person and includes wines by Wild Oats.  Tickets for the degustation dinner with matching wines are $180. 

For more information or to reserve a place at one of the special functions, please call the Hamilton Island Events team on 4948 9303 or email events@hamiltonisland.com.au.

A special accommodation package is available to coincide with the event.  Stay for three nights for the price of two.  Packages start from $340 per person with a free upgrade pending availability.  For bookings call 13REEF (137333).

Mercure Adds Port Douglas’ Renowned Treetops Resort To Network

Addition of Treetops Resort & Spa takes Accor past 20,000 room mark in Australia

One of Port Douglas’ pioneering resorts – Treetops Resort & Spa – is joining Accor’s Mercure hotel network after the completion of a major refurbishment. The hotel will be re-branded to Mercure Port Douglas Treetops Resort from 20 May 2009.

Tropical North Queensland’s Port Douglas has been one of Australia’s fastest growing resort destinations with its easy access to World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest and one of the “wonders of the natural world”, the Great Barrier Reef.

The 224-room resort is located a short walk from Four Mile Beach and is five minutes drive to the centre of Port Douglas village (a shuttle bus service operates throughout the day).

Over the past six months, the hotel has received an extensive renovation, including upgrading of rooms, the restaurant and public areas and a fresh new paint scheme throughout the resort.

Renowned for the sensitive design of the hotel, the Mercure is built around melaleuca trees, with the low-rise accommodation set amongst rainforest gardens, free flowing waterways and lily ponds. This natural ecosystem is a habitat for native wildlife, including large barramundi in the ponds, countless breeds of native birds and spectacular Ulysses butterflies.

Within the hotel’s attractive rainforest setting is a spectacular Lagoon Pool and waterfall, adjacent to an open-air restaurant (Tree Bar & Grill) with a swim-up pool bar and rainforest trees literally growing through the roof.

The hotel also offers The Wharf restaurant overlooking the lily ponds and the Cockatoo Lounge (where the resort’s resident cockatoo, Bozo, holds court).

The hotel continues its emphasis on serenity with the Treetops Spa, which offers the latest health and beauty therapies in nine treatment rooms housed within a unique tree house-styled building linked by walkways. The calming, meditative atmosphere within the Spa nurtures well-being and relaxation.

With its joining of the mercure network, Treetops is anticipating major growth in its conference and incentive business. The purpose-built conference centre accommodates up to 160 guests (theatre style) in a spacious area bathed in natural light. The Events Centre also makes the most of its location, with the large decking area overlooking a creek. The deck is capable of hosting up to 100 guests for a breakout session or cocktail party.

Bridget Catterall, General Manager of the Best Management Group, said that the completion of the upgrading and the partnership with Mercure signaled a new era for the resort.

“Our guests have responded very encouragingly to the hotel’s new look and feel, and we believe that with Mercure branding we will be able to expose the resort to an even wider domestic and international market,” she said.

“Travel to Australia and Cairns has never been cheaper, and with Port Douglas boasting such a high profile in the American, European and Australian markets, we believe there is great potential to grow our business substantially over the next few years. It is the perfect time to align ourselves with an international hotel group of the size and scope of Accor.”

Accor is the largest hotel operator in Australia with 142 hotels, including the largest network of hotels in northern Queensland. Mercure Port Douglas Treetops joins six other hotels in Cairns and nearby Palm Cove. It will be the second Mercure in the region, joining Mercure Cairns Harbourside.

Accor Vice President Australia, Simon McGrath, said the addition of Mercure Port Douglas Treetops was a significant milestone for Accor and the Australian hotel industry.

“The addition of Treetops marks a very special occasion for Accor as it will take our Australian network to over 20,000 rooms – the first hotel group to achieve such a mark in Australia,” Mr McGrath said.

“Not only will the hotel benefit from our partnership, but it will bring Port Douglas to an even wider audience. The destination achieved a very high-profile in recent decades, and we will use our vast distribution channels to revitalise interest in what is one of the world’s most attractive destinations.”

Rates start from $125 per night. Bookings via 1300 65 65 65 or via www.mercure.com.au

Accor, a major global group and the European leader in hotels, as well as the global leader in services to corporate clients and public institutions, operates in nearly 100 countries with 150,000 employees. It offers to its clients over 40 years of expertise in two core businesses:
- Hotels, with the Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel, Ibis, all seasons, Etap Hotel, Formule 1 and Motel 6 brands, representing 4,000 hotels and nearly 500,000 rooms in 90 countries, as well as strategically related activities, such as Lenôtre;
- Services, with 30 million people in 40 countries benefiting from Accor Services products in employee and public benefits, rewards and loyalty, and expense management.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Club Med launches CM2 packages

CRUISE THE MEDITERRANEAN AND PRE-PAY IN AUD
NO HIDDEN FEES, ALL INCLUSIVE WITH CLUB MED

May 18, 2009: Cruising the Mediterranean Sea would have to be high on every Australian's wish-list, and it is the fastest growing segment of the hospitality industry, but the hidden tipping and port charges, high costs for drinks and activities, and airfares to get to the port or departure, causes many to opt for closer Pacific and well worn routes.

Not any more – Club Med 2 launches 09 northern summer packages with fares for example, from $4972 per person (based on twin share C Deck Cabin for 7 nights ALL INCLUSIVE cruise from 23rd July - 30th July cruising from Brindisi in Italy to Corfu in Greece, (with 4 days in different ports of call in Croatia.)

The fare includes luxury on board accommodation in a newly refurbished cabin, three daily on board gourmet buffet meals, wine and beer & soft drinks with lunch and dinner and open bar, sports activities, and on board games included in one the one inclusive price – paid up front – in Aussie dollars.

Yes, times may be tough, but now escaping from them isn't, or too expensive!

Embark on a journey away from the commonplace or well-known, on board the majestic sailing ship Club Med 2 – this floating village has just been recently upgraded, and is backed by the worldwide specialist in all-inclusive, upscale, friendly and multicultural holidays for nearly 60 years – Club Med.

During the refurbishment earlier this year, and inspired by stories of deep-sea explorers, their epic journeys and the majestic vessels they sailed on, respected interior designer Sophie Jacqmin, reworked the five masted ship by creating an elegant and poetic atmosphere, in all cabins, suites and public areas of the ship

So run away to sea and experience a truly extraordinary life on board Club Med 2. In the European winter season, Club Med 2 sails itineraries around the Caribbean.

Sailings in summer 09 are visiting such exotic ports as Nice, St Tropez, Portofino, Cannes, Malaga, Lisbon, Sorrento, Tripoli, Corfu, Barcelona, ports in Malta and the Greek Islands.

To learn more about Club Med 2 or to book please call Club Med on 1800 258 263 or visit www.clubmed.com.au or contact your friendly Travel Agent.

GOLF-N-CRUISE – OR JUST SIGHTSEE – SYDNEY TO AUCKLAND

IF one of you would rather go sightseeing while the other would prefer to be on the golf-course while you're on a cruise holiday, Cruisemart has a package that's tailor-made for both of you: 12-nights aboard 5-star Diamond Princess from Sydney to Auckland with the option of golf or sightseeing along the way.

Diamond Princess sails out of Sydney this December 10 for Melbourne, Hobart, Dunedin, Christchurch, Tauranga and Auckland, there's a night at the Hilton Auckland, and a flight home on December 23 in time for Christmas.

All meals and entertainment are included aboard ship, as well as a Welcome Aboard Captain's Cocktail Party, a dinner for two one night in the ship's Sabatini Italian Speciality Restaurant, breakfast is included with your night in Auckland, as well as airfares, taxes and charges for flights back to Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne with Emirates.

For golfers there are rounds at Melbourne's Peninsula Country Golf Club, the Royal Hobart Golf Club, Otago Golf Club in Dunedin, Lakes Resort in Pauanui while in Tauranga, and at the Gulf Harbour Country Club in Auckland; return ship-golf course transfers, green fees and electric carts are all included.

For non-golfers there's a full-day Port Arthur tour and a full day Dunedin tour (both with lunch,) a full-day at Wai Ora Spa Hells Gate including thermal mud bath, sulphur spa and 1-hour massage, and a 1-hour massage aboard ship.

Prices start from $4299pp twin-share for golfers and from $3799pp twin-share for non-golfers; this package is exclusive to CruiseMart – phone 1300 305 920 or check out www.cruisemart.com.au

Garuda Indonesia expands Australian network with brand new aircraft


The arrival of the first of four brand new Airbus 330-200 series aircraft has prompted Garuda Indonesia to expand its Australian network.

From 01 August, the airline will introduce three new Jakarta services per week to both Sydney and Melbourne, which will result in Garuda Indonesia offering a daily service to Indonesia from each of these capital cities, in addition to the double daily service from Perth to Bali and four weekly nonstop flights to Jakarta.

The new flight GA713 will depart Sydney on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 10.00am and arrive at Jakarta Cengkerang airport at 2.45pm, while flight GA717 will depart Melbourne on Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 9.55am and arrive in Jakarta at 2.45pm.

The airline's Bali flights from Sydney and Melbourne will continue to be serviced with a wide bodied Airbus A330-300series aircraft and operate on the remaining days of the week.

From Sydney GA715 will depart Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 10.00am and arriving in Denpasar at 2.30pm, while flight GA719 will depart Melbourne on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 9.55am, arriving at 13.55pm.

Mr Poerwoko Soeparyono, Senior General Manager Australia & Southwest Pacific says that the introduction of the new Jakarta services is part of the airline's policy to introduce more non-stop flights to Indonesia.

With new customs, immigration and quarantine procedures recently introduced in Indonesia, the new flights will provide a better product for Australia originating passengers who are destined for the nation's capital. At present these procedures must be undertaken in Bali before transferring to a domestic flight to Jakarta. The direct flights will make the process much easier.

"Not only will be able to offer an excellent product to Jakarta, but we can now offer a daily option to Bali. While flying via Jakarta may take longer, Bali passengers on these flights will enjoy the benefits of a full service flight with full meal and drink service and the latest in-flight entertainment on an aircraft that is fresh from the factory" said Mr. Poerwoko.

"We are also hoping that the new service will encourage Australian holiday makers to venture a bit further than Bali and explore some of the other amazing destinations that Indonesia has to offer. And our wholesaler, Garuda Orient Holidays, has the product to to meet this demand."

"We are very excited about this expansion and plan to celebrate the new service with some very attractive fare offers, so New South Welshmen and Victorians should keep an eye out for these."

Elite Resorts Of Asia Pacific Announce Their Luxury Showcase Site


Elite Resorts of Asia Pacific
announce their unique showcase site, exclusively focused on luxury resorts within Asia Pacific. Savvy travelers in pursuit of relaxing resort stays, weekend getaways or action-packed adventure can visit the website for a host of luxury accommodation and travel experiences. Founded by Mark Greedy and Jim Smith, this strategic marketing and communications portal stylishly showcases resorts, destinations and experiential travel as well as matching customer needs through innovative search functionality. The site seamlessly channels the customer to the chosen hotel's online reservations platform where bookings are made directly.

Elite Resorts of Asia Pacific's leaders bring expertise in luxury hotel and destination marketing plus proven strategies in accessing and building relationships with high net-worth travelers. CEO- Mark Greedy, an industry key-player of 34 years, was Vice President Asia/Pacific of The Leading Hotels of the World for over 12 years and formerly Market Development Manager for Singapore Airlines. Managing Director- Jim Smith held senior leadership positions in American Express' Global Establishment Services for 17 years where his responsibilities included Asia Pacific strategy development for the Lodging, Airlines and MICE industries. Prior to this, he had senior global marketing roles within the airline industry, including Pan Am. Together, Greedy and Smith share a passion for the finer points of hospitality and intend to make Elite Resorts of Asia Pacific an industry benchmark in resort marketing and demand creation.

According to Greedy, "Savvy travelers typically surf numerous hotel sites and seek out travel reviews before making their decisions. Elite Resorts of Asia Pacific offers a one-stop-showcase where customers and travel advisers can quickly scope, review and make well informed choices to meet their travel needs. They can also be sure the resort they've chosen offers hospitality excellence, having passed the Elite Resorts entry requirements".
“We're exclusively focused on Asia Pacific. As a showcase site, we market luxury resorts and destinations in a high quality, stylish format. We link customers to the hotel's own reservations platform where bookings are made directly, at no reservations cost to the resort. We know that the main concern for our clients is real business-level analytics, so our comprehensive reporting goes beyond clicks and page-views. Added to this, we bring best practices, accessing high net worth travelers and leveraging the opportunity with strategic co-operative programs to drive incremental room nights to partner hotels”

Smith speaks of a global marketing approach, with an emphasis on strategic demand creation. Our reach will include Western and Eastern Europe, USA, Middle East as well as the invaluable market on our doorstep in Asia Pacific. Accessing the aspiring luxury segment within these new and established markets, we'll leverage the opportunity with targeted communication to provide strong incremental revenue returns for participating resorts.

Elite Resorts is in the process of building the resort alliance across the region and anticipate launching EliteResortsofAsiaPacific.com in Q4 2009. Offering several benefits that will appeal to participating resorts, Greedy describes how their portal is unique from others."We're exclusively focused on Asia Pacific. As a showcase site, we market luxury resorts and destinations in a high quality, stylish format. We link customers to the hotel's own reservations platform where bookings are made directly, at no reservations cost to the resort. We know that the main concern for our clients is real business-level analytics, so our comprehensive reporting goes beyond clicks and page-views. Added to this, we bring best practices, accessing high net worth travelers and leveraging the opportunity with strategic co-operative programs to drive incremental room nights to partner hotels".For more information or to find out how to become a partner of Elite Resorts of Asia Pacific, contact Mark Greedy or Jim Smith.

To view a demo site of the showcase, visit http://www.eliteresortsofasiapacific.com/demo

Mark Greedy, Chief Executive Officer, Mobile: +65 97966162

The genius of Salvador DALÍ coming soon to NGV



13 June – 4 October 2009

National Gallery of Victoria

St Kilda Road, Melbourne

The first comprehensive retrospective of the work of Salvador Dalí ever to be staged in Australia is coming exclusively to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) as the sixth exhibition in the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series.

Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire will bring together more than 200 stunning works by Salvador Dalí in all media including painting, drawing, watercolour, etchings, sculpture, fashion, jewellery, cinema and photography.

The exhibition will be drawn from the two largest collections of Salvador Dalí in the world, the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí in Figueres, Spain and the Salvador Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida.

Dr Gerard Vaughan, NGV Director, said this panoramic exhibition will surprise and delight viewers.

“Salvador Dalí’s life spanned almost a century of dramatic social and artistic change. Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire traces the extraordinary innovation Dalí brought to his art at every stage of his remarkable career, from his earliest years as an exceptionally talented 14-year-old to the final majestic paintings created when the artist was in his seventies.

“This is now the sixth instalment of the hugely popular Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series and is testament to the NGV’s first class reputation for staging and managing exhibitions of international significance. It has been an absolute pleasure to collaborate with our colleagues in Figueres and Florida to bring this fantastic exhibition to Australia,” said Dr Vaughan.

Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire will explore the brilliance of Dalí through chronological sections with visitors first encountering the artist as an accomplished young Impressionist painter with what is widely considered to be his first masterpiece, Self-Portrait with Raphaelesque Neck.

The exhibition will then move through Dalí’s experimentation with Cubism, Abstraction, Neoclassicism and New Objectivity during his student years and his leadership of the Surrealist movement in Paris during the 1930s.

Dr Ted Gott, Senior Curator International Art, said Dalí’s artistic imagination was constantly fed by the ruggedly romantic landscapes of his native Catalonia.

“These stunning landscapes, infused with his unique imagination, informed the classic Surrealist paintings with which Dalí astonished the art world in the early 1930s and for which he is so well known for today. A strong group of paintings from the period of Dalí’s involvement with Surrealism in Paris will be included in the exhibition,” said Dr. Gott.

Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire will also include the most significant Dalí work held in an Australian collection, the Lobster Telephone from the National Gallery of Australia, arguably one of the most famous sculptures of the twentieth century.

A highlight of the exhibition will be the return to Australia of the artist’s 1932 painting Memory of the Child-Woman. This was the first Dalí painting ever to be seen in Australia in 1939 and was met with great controversy.

Viewers will also be introduced to Dalí’s contribution to 20th century cinema, from his early collaborations with the Spanish film-maker Luis Buñuel to his involvement with Alfred Hitchcock and other directors in Hollywood during the 1940s.

“One of the great innovators in the history of 20th century art, Dalí’s extraordinary artistic output extends far beyond Surrealism. He was a true genius in every respect; a giant on the international stage whose art has influenced more than just his own generation. There was nothing the man could not do,” said Dr Gott.

This exhibition is organised by the National Gallery of Victoria with the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueres, Spain and the Salvador Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida.

An audio guide will be available and a range of public and education programs will coincide with the exhibition. Admission fees apply: Adult $23.00 / Concession $18.00 / Children $11.00 / Family $60.00.

Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire will be open daily from 10am-5pm from 13 June until 4 October 2009 and until 9pm every Wednesday from 17 June for art after dark.

This year the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series includes Salvador Dalí: Liquid Desire at the National Gallery of Victoria and A Day in Pompeii at Melbourne Museum. Melbourne Winter Masterpieces is a Victorian Government initiative.

Principal Partner: Mercedes-Benz
Lead Supporter International Art: Ernst & Young
Support Sponsors: Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, The Age, Tourism Victoria, Mix101.1, City of Melbourne, Melbourne Airport, JCDecaux, Clemenger BBDO
Exhibition Supporters: Connex, Metlink, Yarra Trams

Friday, 15 May 2009

Spirit of Tasmania: huge winter sale!


Winter just got hotter with 45%* off seats and cabins on Spirit of Tasmania!

Travellers can embrace the allure of sea travel - relaxing, stress-free and a memorable way to begin their holiday. The journey begins by driving on board, it’s that simple. No luggage restrictions means travellers can pack their skis, camping gear and blankets for an adventure where half the fun is getting there.

Ocean View Recliners start from just $82* per person each way or upgrade to a cabin from $57* extra per person each way (twin share). Offer applies to travel between 16 May and 13 September 2009.

“The off–peak winter season is the best time to travel around the state, it also has the advantage of being particularly uncrowded which makes it so easy to unwind,” said Charles Griplas, CEO of Spirit of Tasmania.

Passengers can get cosy in the on board cinema which screens two complimentary movies during each voyage or enjoy a drink in an array of bars with spectacular views. Dining options include an a la carte restaurant serving fresh Tasmanian produce or a buffet eatery with satisfying cuisines for the whole family.

Mainlanders heading south will adore Tassie for its calm, clear and crisp days. Switch to a world of natural wilderness with extensive beautiful waterways, boutique farms and delicious food and wine. The southern region of the island boasts the Huon Trail drive in the Huon Valley. Enjoy the peaceful drive through quiet country roads alongside gorgeous scenery offering something different around every corner. Take the Tahune Airwalk which rises 48 metres above the ground and experience walking among treetops with a bird’s eye view of the world above the forest floor. The area is also well known for four wheel driving, bushwalking and fishing – perfect activities for winter.

Don’t forget to rug up and join the celebrations of the Antarctic mid-winter festival held from 19 - 28 June. With ten days of exhibitions, performances, tours and social events including entertainment, such as ‘The Longest Night Film Festival’ and ‘The Flight of the Snow Petrels Children's Parade’, this unique festival is enjoyable for all ages.

“45%* off is a great saving and an even better reason to book a getaway to such a stunning part of Australia,” said Mr Charles Griplas.

The winter sale includes 45%* off seats and cabins (excluding Deluxe cabins) for travel between 16 May and 13 September 2009. Call 13 20 10 or visit spiritoftasmania.com.au and save an additional $5 per person each way. *Conditions apply.

Arajilla Retreat On Lord Howe Offers a World Heritage Discovery - Eco Package

World Heritage Discovery
3-Day Lord Howe 'Eco' Package

Enjoy all the delights of Arajilla Retreat along with a highly informative introduction to the spectacular ecological wonders of Lord Howe, combining rest and relaxation with a day full of eco touring above and below the waterline.

Lord Howe Island was officially inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981 – one of the first islands worldwide to be selected for long-term conservation. Its exceptional natural beauty, its diversity of landscapes and biota and the high proportion of rare and endemic animals, plants and invertebrates make Lord Howe an outstanding example of independent evolution. Local underwater specialists Peter & Brian Busteed of Howea Divers are keen to show you this eco wonderland.  

World Heritage Discovery inclusions:

   * a 3.5 hour guided North Bay Nature & Turtle Tour: snorkel the wreck of the "Favourite" viewing marine life, then walk the beach to view prolific land and seabirds plus study fascinating geology. Morning or afternoon tea, plus wetsuits and snorkelling, are all provided.
   * a 4 hour self guided glass bottom kayak of Lord Howe's protected lagoon - snorkel Slyphs Hole, kayak to and then climb Blackburn Island for a picnic lunch, afterwards continue to snorkel the kalidoscopic reef.
   * all meals – gourmet breakfast, light lunch, three course dinner with menu changing daily, selected pre-dinner drinks, plus tea and coffee.
   * 3 nights' accommodation in a Kentia or Banyan Suite, with optional easy add-on nights.
   * one copy of renowned local naturalist Ian Hutton's "Birds of Lord Howe Island Past and Present".
   * bicycles and return airport transfers on the Island.

Price of $1,660.00 per person twin share valid from 01 May to 30 June '09.

$1,810 per person twin share valid from 01 September to 30 November '09 and from 01 February to 30 April '10.

$2,020 per person twin share valid from 01 December '09 to 31 January '10.

Please note that all tours are weather dependent and will be conducted only when conditions permit. Any activity cancelled due to weather will be subject to a full refund of the specific tour cost. However all accommodation amendments and cancellations are subject to normal booking conditions.

Bookings can be made by:  
telephone  via freecall 1800 063 928
email  reservations@arajilla.com.au  
website www.arajilla.com.au

Alaska's hottest deals


Denali National Park and Preserve

Travelers can save up to 50 percent on Denali rail and hotel packages with the Alaska Railroad on select days between May 15 and Sept. 14. Guests can ride the Alaska Railroad to Denali National Park and Preserve and stay the night at a Denali hotel for just $163 plus tax per person. Add-ons are available such as rafting tours, flightseeing, Cabin Nite Dinner Theater or a narrated tour into the Denali backcountry. Travelers must book and pay by June 30 to receive this special and availability is limited. For more information, visit www.akrr.com/arrc280.html.

Mat-Su Valley

Tundra Rose Guest Cottages invites travelers to celebrate Alaska’s 50th anniversary in the Mat-Su Valley. Guests can save 10 percent off the cottage rate for one night or 20 percent off when booking two or more consecutive nights. This special is valid on stays May 20 – Sept. 15 and travelers must mention “ATIA special” at the time of booking. For more information, visit www.tundrarosecabins.com.

Inside Passage


TEMSCO Helicopters, Inc. is offering a 10 percent savings on all helicopter tours in Juneau or Skagway. In Juneau, tour options include the Mendenhall Glacier by Helicopter and Guided Walk tour, Pilot’s Choice tour featuring two separate glacier landings or the Dog Sledding Helicopter tour. Skagway options include the Glacier Discovery by Helicopter tour to the Meade Glacier or the Dog Sledding and Glacier Flightseeing tour. For more information, visit www.temscoair.com.

SLH Feature Destination: Argentina

Correntoso Lake & River Hotel

From the buzz of the country’s capital city and serene wine resorts to cosy country houses and even an exotic resort sitting on the gateway to Antarctica, a variety of incredible Argentinean experiences await you.

Argentina is located in the southern extreme of Latin America and is partially occupied by the Andes mountain range. Comprising a diverse territory of mountains, plateaux and plains with all of the climatic variations, Argentina’s natural beauty offers a unique range of activities.

CasaSur Art Hotel is an intimate new hotel sitting amidst the energetic city of Buenos Aires, where you will find designer boutiques and galleries outside, and a stylish and peaceful ambiance inside. Perfect for relaxing after a busy day. Nature lovers will adore Patagonia. It sits south of Buenos Aires and is home to several SLH properties including Correntoso Lake & River Hotel, which offers outdoor enthusiasts options such as fly-fishing, trekking, water sports, boat trips and more. Other regional options include Los Sauces Casas Patagónicas, a beautifully peaceful retreat, and Valle Perdido Wine Resort, where not only do you learn about wine but you incorporate it into spa treatments and relax with a chilled glass at dinner. Or, travel to the southern-most tip of the country to Los Cauquenes Resort & Spa and relax in the pool while taking in the snow-capped mountain views.

Things to experience:

Visit a ‘milonga’ in Buenos Aires and enjoy the tango music the city is internationally-known for.

Trek through the Patagonian region of the country where you will find natural hot springs, glaciers, endless rivers and lush forests.

Spend some time at Tierra del Fuego National Park, where you can spot condors, eagles and red foxes.

Oasis Overland launches new website

Oasis Overland, an adventure travel company specialising in worldwide overland trips, is launching a brand new website today. 

The new site has been given a more vibrant look with clear graphics and photo galleries to inspire prospective adventurers to travel, explore and discover new places and cultures.  More interactive features have been created with the ability to put together a wish-list and to hold a place on a trip before committing to making a booking.  Gift vouchers are another new feature, enabling family and friends to make a financial contribution.  All this is made easy with straightforward navigation and clear-cut, comprehensive information.  

The site retains the down-to-earth feel and reflects the plain-speaking attitude of Oasis Overland, telling it like it is so that prospective travellers really know what to expect on an adventurous trip to developing countries.  Those thinking of joining the 40 week Trans Africa expedition should take note – there are times when the going is 'extremely tough - days of rough roads and harsh terrains and extremes of weather'!

Less arduous but equally adventurous is Oasis Overland's newest trip and one of the first Featured Trips on the new site.  The Roof of Africa Overland Adventure is a 21 day journey through Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, travelling by overland truck from the legendary city of Carthage to Cairo's Pyramids and Sphinx.  In Libya, the route takes in WWII sites and Roman ruins, desert oases and deserted beaches, mountain villages and the ancient Greek city of Cyrene.  Accommodation includes campsites, a troglodyte cave hotel and nights in the Sahara desert.

The website home page also provides the opportunity to get stuck in straight away and find the ideal trip by:

Location - Middle East, South America, Africa, Asia

Trip Style - Regional Explorer, Overland Adventure, Ultimate Expedition

Special Event - Rio Carnival, Anzac Day, Inti Raymi festival in Peru, Christmas, New Year, Easter

Special Offers - Late availability, group discounts, second and third trip discounts

Travel clothing, equipment, medicine and guide book discounts can also be found on the Special Offers page, available to those booking an Oasis trip. 

Perhaps most importantly, a member of the Oasis Overland team will be at the end of the phone for those who like to speak to a real person.

The launch of Oasis Overland's new website follows on from the new logo and new-look brochure, launched last November.

Notes to Editors: Oasis Overland is now in its 12th year of operating adventure trips in Africa, the Middle East, South America and Asia.  The company is located in Somerset on an old WWII airfield.  This is the base for office HQ and a workshop for building and adapting vehicles for overland use and for training crew.  The Oasis Overland philosophy is to provide excellent value for money trips for budget-conscious travellers without compromising their experiences, using quality vehicles, equipment and crew.

www.oasisoverland.co.uk

Thursday, 14 May 2009

VIRGIN BLUE TO LAUNCH NEW FLIGHTS BETWEEN SYDNEY AND HAMILTON ISLAND

DIRECT FROM SYDNEY TO THE WHITSUNDAYS

VIRGIN BLUE TO LAUNCH NEW FLIGHTS BETWEEN SYDNEY AND HAMILTON ISLAND

Set sail on Hamilton Island with a Virgin Blue sale fare of $99* one way

Virgin Blue has announced it will launch direct flights between Sydney and Hamilton Island, the Gateway to the world famous Whitsundays from 4 July 2009.

The airline’s new direct service will operate daily and provide a convenient link between the New South Wales capital and one of Queensland’s most popular tropical island getaways.

The decision to commit an aircraft to operate the Sydney-Hamilton Island route was made after close analysis around demand for connecting flights via the airline’s existing services from Brisbane to Hamilton Island.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said, “In the current climate, it is especially important to ensure we direct aircraft where we see sufficient demand and long term viability. Hamilton Island has long been a popular choice for both local and international travellers who fly to Hamilton Island via Brisbane and we are hopeful the new direct flight will entice even more visitors to experience the wonder of the Whitsundays.”

Glenn Bourke, CEO, Hamilton Island, said, "We are delighted that Virgin Blue is offering this new service to our guests from Sydney who will now be able to enjoy greater flexibility in their travels to and from Hamilton Island. This is also perfect timing for all that we have happening on the Island this year with Race Week in August and the opening of our new Yacht Club and Golf Club around the same time. We also believe that guests at our world class resort, qualia will be excited to take advantage of Virgin's Premium Economy experience”.

Importantly Virgin Blue flights from Sydney will bring some much needed competition to the route which is currently only serviced by one airline.

Virgin Blue’s daily direct flight will depart Sydney at 1015 and touch down at Hamilton Island at 1245 before departing the Island at 1315 and landing in Sydney at 1545.

To celebrate the much anticipated announcement, Virgin Blue is offering a fantastic sale fare of $99* one way between Sydney and Hamilton Island, just in time for Sydney locals to book a mid-winter getaway to the warmth and sunshine of the Whitsundays where the temperature for July often sits at around a pleasant 23 degrees. The special fare is on sale now until 18 May and is for travel between 4 July – 19 August 2009 and 1 November – 9 December 2009.

In the same way that Virgin Blue caters to both the leisure and business markets, Hamilton Island offers fantastic getaway options from the most exclusive accommodation and five star service to island bungalows to suit a more modest budget.

Brett Godfrey added, “Hamilton Island is also the launch point for those keen to explore the area or go island hopping to surrounding islands including Daydream, Hayman, Lizard and South Molle. We are excited to offer the new direct flight from Sydney and hope the combination of seriously low fares like our $99* launch special together with the convenience of a non stop service will inspire people to shake off their winter blues in the world famous Whitsundays.”

Virgin Blue will also be working closely with Hamilton Island to offer terrific packages for the Meetings and Conventions Market, while Blue Holidays will also offer some cracker jack holiday packages including a five night getaway for $878^ per person twin share.

^Hamilton Island - Reef View Hotel

From $878pp twin share

Includes return airfares to Hamilton Island from Sydney and Brisbane

Five nights accommodation in a Garden View Room and full Buffet Breakfast Daily for two

Free use of catamaran, paddle skis, windsurfers and snorkelling equipment

Unlimited use of scheduled island shuttle service, use of gym, spa, sauna, tennis and squash court hire

Kids stay and eat FREE program

Complimentary return Hamilton Island airport/marina to hotel transfers

Stay 5 Pay 4 deal

On sale between 14 May - 18 May 2009 for travel between 4 July - 19 August 2009

* All fares are one way for flights booked on the internet or $15 more when booked by phone. Fares are subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. A credit card surcharge of an additional $3 per person per one way flight is applicable. For Virgin Blue bookings log on to www.virginblue.com.au or phone our award winning Guest Contact Centre on 13 6789 or contact a travel agent. Fare price is based on GO! Fare and is non-refundable. Checked baggage charges apply to all Blue Saver and GO! Fares. Pre-pay $8 online for up to 23kgs of checked baggage per person one way flight, or pay $20 at the airport for the same allowance.

New cruise terminal for Sydney

By: Katrina Archer and Bruce Piper, Cruise Weekly

The Garden Island naval base is the favoured location for a second passenger cruise ship terminal in Sydney Harbour, according to the NSW Planning Minister.

Minister Kristina Keneally said that the NSW Government was determined to maintain Sydney as the top choice of port for cruises visiting Australia, and the increasing number and size of ships called for an alternative terminal.

Ms Keneally has set up a Passenger Cruise Terminal Steering Committee to explore various sites for an additional location for ships to dock.

"Ships are getting bigger, particularly ships which perform round-the-world trips, whose operators often only want to make one stop per country," she said. "We want to make sure that stop is in Sydney."

The NSW State Government is currently planning for the required infrastructure to be in place, such as extra public transport and tourist facilities.

At last week's Tourism and Transport Forum National Hotel and Tourism Industry Policy Summit, Ms Keneally announced the formation of the cruising committee, which will examine the future needs of the cruise ship industry.

"More people are forecast to travel on cruise ships and the ships themselves are getting bigger, which means they can't get under the Harbour Bridge," she explained.

"It is my intention that the Committee would advise on White Bay, as well as sites on the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge, such as at Garden Island."

Ms Keneally said she wanted the Royal Australian Navy to be part of these discussions, with a view to providing cruise ship access to Garden Island "under a more permanent arrangement than is currently in place."

Australia's largest cruise company, Carnival Australia, welcomed the move to establish a committee.

"We have been raising our concerns about the lack of facilities for almost 12 months now and are relieved that Minister Keneally is committed to finding a solution given the huge and sustained growth in cruising," said Carnival CEO Ann Sherry.

Peak industry group Cruise Down Under described the formation of the committee as "a major step forward".



Cruise Weekly provides you with all the latest cruising information, including news, deals, competitions and much more. Click here to check it out.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Pacific Blue applies for Phuket flights

The International Air Services Commission has just confirmed an application from Pacific Blue for capacity which would allow it to operate seven weekly flights between Australia and Phuket.

The application says Pacific Blue proposes to progressively introduce the services, operated by 180-seat B737-800 aircraft, with full utilisation of the capacity by 01 Apr 2010.

The IASC is inviting other applications for the capacity, with a closing date of 20 May 2009.

More information in tomorrow's Travel Daily.

P&O Showcases New Menu

By Jill Innamorati-Varley / www.spicenews.com.au

P&O Cruises hosted a luncheon to showcase its new enhanced menu aboard the Pacific Dawn superliner to media representatives in Sydney last week.

Created to compliment their all Australian and New Zealand wine list, the new menus mark the completion of a nine-month program to enhance the dining experience across P&O’s fleet, with a focus on fresh, local produce and flavourful food.

Guests at the luncheon were served spiced duck with peach and sweet chill compote matched to a Leasingham Bin 7 Riesling; a beef ribeye steak with gratin potatoes, shallots and three-bean casserole with a Glandore Shiraz; and seared fillet of fresh coral trout with sapphire bay prawn ragout with a Kanook Chardonnay.

A plate of mini desserts consisting of mango crème brulee, tiramisu and a trilogy of chocolate mousse was also served and washed down by a Stella Bella Pink Muscat.

P&O vice-president of hotel operations, Sture Myrmell, said the changes were designed to reflect the rapidly growing interest in food and wine in Australian.

“Australians are creative and have high expectations when it comes to dining and we want to exceed those expectations,” she said. “We are taking the onboard culinary experience to a different level with our fresh new dishes which reflect what our passengers want.”

The luncheon also featured entertainment by the Sit Down Comedy Club and the superliner’s newest offering – a laser light show featuring laser women and accompanied by a powerful soundtrack. Presented from the ship’s three-level atrium, the viZion Laser Show is exclusive to Pacific Dawn and is an Australian cruise industry first.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

AMAZON HIGHLIGHT OF 24-DAY ARGENTINA, PERU AND BRAZIL TOUR

Buenos Aires, the ruins of The Lost City of the Incas at Machu Picchu, three days cruising the Amazon River, then Rio de Janeiro and the spectacular Iguassu Falls are highlights of a 24-day escorted South America tour in May of next year with off-the-beaten track, Far Horizons.

Other exotic features include a coastal train ride from Buenos Aires to Tigre and a boat trip through the Parana Delta, two nights in Lima and two in the once-Inca capital of Cuzco, including a stay at an Orient-Express luxury hotel within a restored 16th century monastery 3,500m high in the mountains.

For the adventurous there's a motorised canoe ride to the remote cities of Leticia and Tabatinga, Manaus with its fabled Opera House built of stone from Portugal, marble from Italy and with chandeliers from Venice, a boat ride on the Rio Negro River, and legendary Rio de Janeiro including a cable car ride to the summit of Sugar Loaf Mountain, Mount Corcovado with its 700m high statue of Christ, and a stay at a colonial-style hotel during a visit to the 270-cataract Iguassu Falls.

Prices start from $27,250pp twin-share including return air and taxes from Sydney, a Far Horizon escort and local guides, twin-share accommodation, all meals, sightseeing and entry fees.

Full details on 1800 083 141 or www.farhorizons.com.au

 

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