Saturday, 27 February 2010

Passengers Wanted for the Extraordinary Taxi Ride

Australian and international passengers are now being recruited to be part of The Extraordinary Taxi Ride - an epic nine week journey by taxi across Western Australia (WA) visiting extraordinary natural attractions - many exclusive to WA. Some of these include the Bungle Bungle Range in World Heritage Listed Purnululu National Park; Ningaloo Reef – the largest fringing reef in the world; and, Australia’s whitest beach - Lucky Bay in Esperance.

From Monday 1 March, passengers can apply to travel on one of the 11 ‘legs’ of the journey by visiting and nominating why they should be part of the journey. Each of the 11 lucky winners will then have the opportunity to invite a friend or family member on the journey with them to share in their adventure.

Throughout the journey, passengers will be filmed experiencing extraordinary Western Australia. The story of the journey will then be told online, in press, on radio, outdoors and on TV.

Highlights of the journey include:

LEG 1: Vines, Forests & Beaches 09-12 April
Swim with dolphins, feast on premium food and wine, and explore the stunning beaches, forests and caves of the South West of WA, voted one of the world’s best regions by Lonely Planet 2010 and home to the famous Margaret River wine region.

LEG 2: Great Southern Explorer 13-16 April
Explore the deep South West of WA – breathtaking tall tree forests, sweeping seaside scenery, tempting truffles and Aboriginal history. A highlight is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk in Walpole - the first walk trail of its kind in the world.

LEG 3: Perth Lifestyle 17-20 April
Celebrate the relaxed outdoor lifestyle of Australia’s sunniest city. Check out the exciting Red Bull Air Race (known as the grand prix of the sky), take a tour of Kings Park & Botanic Garden with an Aboriginal guide and explore the holiday playground of Rottnest Island; a car free zone just off Perth.

LEG 4: Natural Outback Wonders 21-28 April
Travelling from outback to ocean, visit Wave Rock in Hyden before seeing the real deal off Australia’s whitest beach, Lucky Bay in Esperance. Along the way learn about the land from an Aboriginal guide, visit the Gormley Statues, tee off at the world’s longest golf course and explore gold country in Kalgoorlie.

LEG 5: Coast & Nature Spectacular 29 April – 5 May
Enjoy sealife, snorkelling and plenty of sunshine. Marvel at the unearthly spectacle of the Pinnacles, a beach made entirely of tiny shells, the daily ritual of the dolphins of Monkey Mia and the marine life of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.

LEG 6: Ningaloo Reef Adventure 6 – 11 May
Nominated for World Heritage Listing, Ningaloo Reef is an underwater wonderland easily accessible from shore. Go swimming or snorkelling and see an abundance of sea life including the gentle whale shark – the largest fish in the ocean which visits the region from April to July each year.

LEG 7: Karijini Discovery 12 – 17 May
Get ready for some serious outback adventure along the Warlu Way. Explore some of the oldest rock gorges on earth at Karijini National Park and refresh in their cooling rock pools. At night enjoy relaxing under the stars and a spot of luxury camping.

LEG 8: Northern Coast Escape 18 -23 May
Continuing along the trail of the Warlu (snake serpent from Aboriginal legend), the journey heads to the coast taking in the famous Eighty Mile Beach then the exotic outback town of Broome. Here relax and take in a camel ride, swim in the pristine waters off Cable Beach and learn about the pearling history of Broome.

LEG 9: Australia Way 24 -31 May
Big rocks, big water features and big music. Enjoy the Bungle Bungle Range in World Heritage Listed Purnululu National Park, the magnificent wildlife of Lake Argyle (more than 20 times the size of Sydney Harbour) and the spectacle of the AirNorth Kimberley Moon concert.

LEG 10: The Gibb River Road 1 – 9 June
An iconic 4WD adventure across the Kimberley – one of the world’s last true wilderness areas. Go cattle mustering, barramundi fishing and relax under waterfalls and in hot thermal springs. Highlights include staying at El Questro Wilderness Park and Home Valley Station.

LEG 11: North West Highlights 10-14 June
Rich red earth, white sands and brilliant blue skies. This leg explores areas of the Kimberley coast and includes visiting the award winning Kooljaman Wilderness Camp at Cape Leveque. The jewel of this leg is an extraordinary flight over the world’s only horizontal waterfall.

If you like what you’ve heard so far and love playing up to the camera, visit, select the journey leg you want to go on, and tell us why we should pick you! Applications open 1 March and close midnight Friday 26 March, and each winning entrant must be available to travel between April and June 2010.

The Extraordinary Taxi Ride is part of Tourism WA’s new marketing campaign, designed to encourage people from within the State, Australia and around the world to come to Western Australia for their holidays, and Experience Extraordinary.

Port Stephens to Host NSW State Outrigger Titles

On the 27& 28 March 2010, athletes, competitors and spectators from all over New South Wales will converge on the pristine waters of Port Stephens, to be a part of the NSW State Outrigger titles hosted by Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Club and proudly sponsored by Shoal Bay Resort & Spa.

The prestige of holding the state titles in Port Stephens is testament to the success of previous years outrigger challenge events held in the Port.

Hosted by The Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Club and proudly sponsored by Shoal Bay Resort & Spa, Mother Energy Drink & Coca Cola, this event will be conducted over two days, the format of the competition will include a mixture of inshore and offshore racing.

2010 will be the biggest ever Port Stephens Outrigger event, hosting the state titles will be a huge draw card that will massively increase spectator & competitor numbers as will Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Clubs’ reputation for organising an efficient, well run program in previous years. A short & long course race for the state titles will be held on the Saturday, with the Sunday holding the ‘MOTHER’ sponsored combination outrigger obstacle challenge race, that will have over $6000 cash prizes as well as a proposed celebrity race with big name locals.

Sunday’s race will see competitors vying for over $6000 in cash and prizes in the MOTHER of all races Twin Peak Challenge. Competitors will not only compete in an in-shore canoe race, they will be also challenged to run to the top of Tomaree & Yacaaba heads and canoe back to the finish line. This race will prove to be a gruelling and exciting event.

Coinciding with this event will be a huge focus on family fun, entertainment and social activities throughout the entire competition weekend.

While a relatively young sport in Australia, outrigger canoeing is also one of the fastest growing water sports in Australia. It attracts competitors of all ages, but particularly those in the 30 years and over age group, as a low impact adventure sport.

For tens of thousands of years Polynesian people have used sleek, streamlined and graceful outrigger canoes as their primary means of transport between their island homes. In the 20th Century, outrigger canoeing has evolved into a highly contested modern sport that pits athletes against the elements, themselves and their own physical and psychological limits.

Be at Shoal Bay from 7.30am on the 27th March and 9.30am on 28th March to see all the colour and excitement of this premier regatta. Kick on into the night at the ‘MOTHER’ of all parties, which will be held on Saturday night 27 March at the Country Club Hotel at Shoal Bay Resort & Spa from 6.30pm with free live entertainment from 8pm onwards.

A range of accommodation options are also available from just $72 per person per night. *Terms and conditions apply. Call 1800 18 18 10 or visit for more information.

Shoal Bay Resort & Spa – proud supporters of the Port Stephens Outrigger NSW State Titles 2010.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Visit New Zealand while it’s still overseas. Virgin Blue sale on now!

Last year, New Zealand moved 30cm closer. In 7.5 million years, it is due to connect with Australia. With 30cm less to fly, we've passed on the savings, with sale fares to 6 destinations across New Zealand plus great sale deals including airfares and accommodation. So hurry book your sale deal now and visit New Zealand while it's still overseas.

Top Sale Fares...
fares from
Sydney Hamilton $149*
Sydney Christchurch $179*
Melbourne Auckland $184*
Sydney Wellington $199*
Brisbane Dunedin $204*
Sydney Queenstown $279*
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $495pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $497pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $499pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $538pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $621pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $788pp^.
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Virgin Blue

Virgin Blue Sale Period: On sale until 23 March 2010, or until sold out.
Virgin Blue Travel Period: Tuesday 20 April 2010 to Thursday 24 June 2010.

Blue Holidays

Blue Holidays Sale Period: On sale until 23 March 2010, or until sold out.
Blue Holidays Travel Period 1: Tuesday 20 April 2010 to Thursday 24 June 2010.
Blue Holidays Travel Period 2: Tuesday 20 July 2010 to Thursday 16 September 2010.

*Departing Melbourne to Auckland, departing Sydney to Christchurch, Hamilton, Wellington and Queenstown. Departing Brisbane to Dunedin. Seats are limited and may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one way on the net, or $15 more by phone. A credit/debit card surcharge of $5 per person per one way flight is applicable for flights internationally. International flights between Australia and New Zealand operated by Pacific Blue Airlines (N.Z.) Ltd. International return fare may vary with the addition of local taxes and charges. Fares are correct as at 15 February 2010 and are subject to change. Fares are on sale until 23 March 2010 or until sold out, for travel from 20 April 2010 to 24 June 2010. Cairns to Auckland service commences 23 March 2010. More sale fares available from other ports.

^Departing Melbourne to Auckland & Christchurch. Departing Brisbane to Dunedin & Hamilton. Departing Sydney to Queenstown & Wellington. Prices based on per person, twin share. Seats are limited and may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Package price is per person twin share and is correct as at 25 Jan 2010. Package on sale until 23 March 2010, for travel 20 April 2010 to 24 June 2010 and 20 July - 16 September 2010. During some periods air and hotel pricing may not be available and surcharges may apply. Prices are subject to availability and are not guaranteed until the booking is completed and confirmed. Full payment is required at the time of booking and cancellation or amendment fees apply. Package pricing is based on web bookings or $30 more per person by phone, capped at 4 people. A credit card service fee is included in the total package price. Prices based on direct route, including taxes, levies and other government charges which may vary and are subject to change. Seasonal surcharges may apply. Hotel rates quoted are based on double occupancy, per room, per night, per person, per package, unless otherwise noted. Prices based on lead-in room, additional rooms available. More packages available, visit

Tuesday, 16 February 2010



February 16, 2010 -  When China hosted the 29th Summer Olympic Games in 2008, the event focused global attention not just on the host city, Beijing, but on the entire nation.

Now China is preparing again to host a major international event - World Expo 2010, Shanghai – a six month extravaganza which will showcase a vast range of cultural, artistic and commercial offerings from over 200 countries.

"World Expo will be a much larger event than the Olympics," said Helen Wong, Managing Director Helen Wong's Tours, the only private company authorised to sell World Expo tickets in Australia.

 "This event is expected to attract some 70 million visitors during its six month season, from 01 May until 31 October," said Helen.

"Not only does this enable people to experience the exciting attractions of the Expo, and the spectacular host city of Shanghai. It also provides fresh opportunities for visitors to explore some of the countless other regions of China, one of the world's most extraordinary and fastest-growing destinations."

Throughout the 184-day World Expo, more than 20,000 events are scheduled to be held at 35 venues, many of them within the 5.3 square kilometre Expo site in the heart of Shanghai.

Centred on the theme "Better City, Better Life", Expo participants will host national pavilion days throughout the event, and various regions of China will be showcased.

For travellers from Australia, Helen Wong's Tours has developed a range of Shanghai and World Expo packages lasting eight days and six nights, priced from $1800 per person, twin share from Sydney and Melbourne, from $2150 per person, twin share ex Brisbane and from $2495 per person, twin share ex Adelaide and Perth.

Packages include Economy Class air fares to and from China, six nights' accommodation in a four star hotel, a three day Expo Pass with transfers, six buffet breakfasts, two lunches and one dinner, English speaking guides, a Chinese visa for Australian passport holders, a travel kit including a 424 page Odyssey China book and travel bag, and applicable airline taxes and charges. Prices vary with season of travel.

Shorter packages to Shanghai are also available for three days and two nights with a one day Expo Pass, four days/three nights with a two day Expo pass or five days/four nights with a three day pass. All Shanghai and Expo tours can be combined with other packages from Helen Wong's Tours to a range of destinations throughout China.

For more information on these or other holiday ideas from Helen Wong's Tours, please visit or call 1300 788 328.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Currumbin Welcomes Marsupial Rock Stars

They’re Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s resident rock stars – they’re rare, shy, but cute animals with their own exclusive home that they share with some long-legged birds.

Currumbin’s Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies are part of a NSW Government recovery program to stop the rapid decline of this species which was once found along the Great Dividing Range between Nanango in Queensland to the Grampians in Victoria.

They’re four Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies – a male, two females and one joey – which can now be seen in daily, guided tours to encounter this rare and critically endangered species.

The true rock stars of the marsupial world, the rock wallabies can bound more than two metres, and display incredible agility and speed in negotiating the steep, craggy rock faces where they live.

At Currumbin, the specially created Rock-wallaby enclosure is also home to Brolgas and a Whip-tailed Wallaby. It also replicates their natural environment with rocky outcrops and ledges created from the shells of recycled cars.

However, the rock-wallabies are now extremely rare and elusive in the wild – so elusive, they have been nicknamed the Shadow by researchers trying to track them.

Currumbin is one of only four Australian institutions housing the Central ESU population of Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby as part of the recovery program now giving hope for the survival of the species.

Under the program, successful breeding with the rock-wallabies can result in animals being introduced into the wild to help restock dwindling populations.

But because of this, the rock-wallabies at Currumbin will have minimal direct human contact, allowing them to retain their natural characteristics and behaviour.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

News From Breakfree

A summary of the latest news and hot deals from BreakFree Hotels, Resorts & Apartments.


PRICE BREAKS: For the ultimate family getaway that won’t hurt the hip pocket too hard – every BreakFree Hotel, Resort and Apartment is on sale between 14 and 27 February. There are more than 30 properties in some of the best parts of Australia and New Zealand. Gold Coast holidays start from just $94*per night in a one bedroom apartment at BreakFree Enderley Gardens in Surfers Paradise. City stays at BreakFree on George in Sydney start from $120* per night and BreakFree Heritage on Little Bourke from $119* per night. For more information, visit or call 132 007.

NEW GM FOR NOOSA: Experienced resort manager Jason Isbester has been appointed General Manager of BreakFree Noosa International Resort. Well respected within the Mantra Group, Jason was previously GM of BreakFree Marcoola Beach Resort where he was an excellent operator across all aspects of the business. Relief managers John and Marie Lalli have been appointed at BreakFree Marcoola Beach Resort.


SPORTY SPECIALS: The Sunshine Coast has gone sports crazy in February but fortunately the race for great value accommodation is no sweat with leading resort operator BreakFree. The next big event out of the blocks is round one of the Surf Kayaking World Cup to be held in the best waves from Point Cartwright to Kings Beach on February 20-21. Whether competing or just along for the ride to soak up the action and enjoy the sun, surf and sand – BreakFree is the perfect accommodation partner, with rates from a low $146* per room per night for a one bedroom garden apartment at BreakFree Grand Pacific, Caloundra. Phone 132 007 or visit

HOT DEAL IN HASTINGS STREET: Located on Hastings Street, BreakFree French Quarter offers self-contained apartments set amongst landscaped gardens close to Noosa’s famed
restaurants and shopping boutiques. Now is the ideal time to experience this fabulous property with special midweek rates available from just $169* per room per night for a one bedroom apartment , valid for sale until February 28 and for travel to 31 March 2010, based on minimum stays of two nights, Sunday to Thursday. To book call 132 007 or visit

PERFECT BUSINESS PARTNER FOR A MEMORABLE EVENT: Offering first class conferencing facilities, a stunning location to work and play and reduced rates for the first half of 2010, it’s smart business booking at BreakFree Grand Pacific for your next conference or meeting. Full day delegate packages including arrival morning and afternoon tea and coffee, lunch, conference room hire and use of equipment and supplies have been reduced to $40 per person. Accommodation for conference guests is available from $149* per night for a one bedroom apartment including breakfast pack. Enjoying a stunning waterfront location close to Caloundra restaurants and attractions, BreakFree Grand Pacific offers two conference rooms accommodating 60 and 70 delegates individually or 130 theatre style when linked together. Call (07) 5452 2871 or email

SURFERS MONEY SAVER: For a fun filled family escape at the right price, BreakFree Peninsular stands out in Surfers Paradise, where guests can enjoy four nights for the price of three paying from just $219* per room per night for a two bedroom apartment. With views overlooking the Gold Coast hinterland and the Pacific Ocean and only a short stroll to the entertainment heart of Surfers Paradise, this beachside resort offers a fantastic range of facilities and self contained apartments. For bookings or further information on this special offer valid for sale and travel to March 31, 2010 phone 132 007 or visit

DIAMOND DEAL: Broadbeach resort BreakFree Diamond Beach is offering a gem of a deal for families, where guests who book four nights in two bedroom apartment from $230* per room per night, will only pay for three nights valid for sale and travel to March 31, 2010. The low-rise resort features self contained apartments and extensive family friendly facilities. Located in one of the Gold Coast’s premier shopping, dining & entertainment hubs it is the perfect holiday escape for the entire family. Phone 132 007 or visit

PERFECT MATCH: Combining a dream beachside location with exceptional facilities, mouthwatering catering and an experienced wedding team to ensure your big day goes off without a hitch, BreakFree Mobys is the perfect match for weddings to remember. Nestled behind the first line of natural sand dunes at Boomerang Beach, a pleasant 20 minute drive from the township of Forster, BreakFree Mobys is a budget-friendly choice for intimate gatherings through to large scale events. Couples booking a wedding function at BreakFree Mobys before December 31, 2010 will receive a free night to use on their honeymoon at any one of BreakFree’s 40-plus properties Australia wide. Call (02) 6554 0766 or visit www/breakfree/

BOOMING AUTUMN SPECIAL: For an exciting city escape at Sydney’s booming south-west, BreakFree Bankstown International has launched a great value autumn special for weekend travel until the end of April. Holidaymakers can now enjoy the comforts of BreakFree Bankstown from an incredible $134* per room per night in an Executive Room. Located just 10 minutes from Sydney Olympic Park, the hotel offers a choice of hotel rooms or two bedroom apartment-style accommodation and features 24 hour reception, heated indoor pool, spa and gym, restaurant, bar, cocktail lounge and internet kiosk. Phone 132 007 or visit

* Conditions and minimum stays apply. Subject to availability.

St David's Day Gettaway!

Spring is on it’s way here in Pembrokeshire, the nights are already starting to draw out making it the perfect time to come away with Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire and take advantage of Pembrokeshire and all it has to offer over this St David’s day.

The First Signs of spring are showing in the Botanic Garden of Wales and the first of the snowdrops are showing their colours, this is the perfect time to bring your pet along with you to experience many of the rural area’s Pembrokeshire has to offer.

Forest View Cottages are set on the outskirts of the breathtaking Brechfa forest in the rolling country side of Carmarthenshire. This group of 3 cottages are surrounded by 35 acres of ground, which you are free to explore. A perfect spot for a picnic is along side the horseshoe shaped lake which is a haven for the wildlife and swans that vacate it. Each cottage is individually designed retaining many of the original features, but enjoying the styles of modern fitted kitchen’s and open plan living space. Outside there is your own paved patio and landscaped communal area where you are free to enjoy an evening barbecue.

Couples and families will relax from the moment they go down the drive to this lovely holiday cottage. A week’s stay for 4 People and a dog at Ty Coedwig starting on the 27th February will cost £377, why not take a visit to the Botanic Gardens of Wales on St David’s day and enjoy all the entertainment available on this Patriotic day!

01437 772760,

Australians Across the Great War – Anzac Day 2010 Tour

With interest in Australia’s wartime history at the forefront following the discovery of the Centaur hospital ship and the reburial of the Australian dead in a new Commonwealth war cemetery at Fromelles in northern France, specialist French travel agency France @ Leisure and Tour Escort Kieran McCarthy are pleased to offer a boutique tour to France to retrace the steps our Australian soldiers took in The Great War.

Following the highly acclaimed maiden tour in 2009, Brisbane family lawyer and military history aficionado, Kieran McCarthy and France @ Leisure’s Christian Blondeau once again take to the battlefields of France to retrace and commemorate Australia’s invaluable contributions in WW1.

“In no other theatre or conflict have Australians played such a decisive role, yet paid such a harrowing price, as on the Great War battlefields of The Somme and Flanders,” Tour Escort, Kieran McCarthy said.

“Culminating in the 2010 Anzac Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux, this tour will retrace the steps of nearly 300,000 Australians – the ordinary and extraordinary, who answered a young country’s call to the colours.”

“We will visit places redolent of a ‘distant grief’ – Fromelles, Pozieres, Polygon Wood, Bullecourt – and those synonymous with the long march to victory – V.B., Le Hamel and Mont St Quentin.”

A boutique tour such as this provides the opportunity for travelers to tailor their trip to include personal experiences such as visits to the graves of family members.

“On last year’s tour, we watched as the granddaughters of one digger walked the road between two villages where the man met his end from strafing German planes, and later visited his grave at Villers-Bretonneux,” McCarthy said.

“We also visited the grave of a young doctor who had done his training at the Royal Children’s Hospital Brisbane prior to the onset of the war. His great nephew, a Brisbane solicitor, was the first member of the doctor’s family to visit his grave – 93 years after his death when a shell hit his Regimental Aid Post.”

It is these special moments that McCarthy believes sets the France @ Leisure Anzac Day 2010 tour apart from the more mainstream travel package offerings.

“Last year at Queant Road Cemetery, near Bullecourt, we read tributes prepared by the school children of St Joseph’s Bardon, in memory of the dead of the 14th Battalion – “Jacka’s Mob”. For many this was the most moving experience of all,” McCarthy said.

There is an additional option available this year for an extension tour to the Normandy beaches of WWII.

It was McCarthy’s voracious passion for military history that formed the partnership with long time acquaintance, Christian Blondeau of France @ Leisure.

“Kieran has travelled with us through France @ Leisure and in the course our continued association I began to realise what an incredible guide he would make,” Blondeau said.

“I could see that his specialised knowledge and enthusiasm, which had taken him to the Somme, Flanders and beyond well before our first tour, coincided well with my commitment to providing highly personalised and boutique service.”

Blondeau established France @ Leisure, Queensland’s first and only accredited travel agency specialising in French travel for Queensland. As a native of France, Christian has been committed to giving Queensland travellers experiences of France unique to his local contacts around the country and his emphasis on personalised, blue-chip service.


Tour commences in Paris on 22nd April and concludes back in Paris on 29th April. The tour cost is $3,800 per person twin share. Inclusions are accommodation, transport, breakfast, some lunches and dinners.

Air fares are additional and can be booked through France @ Leisure at group rates (if applicable).

For more information, visit or phone 07 3220 2200.

Cupid Suggests Gifts From Crown This Valentine's Day

Cupid has pointed his arrow at Crown this Valentine’s Day and recommends a heavenly host of gift ideas to sweep lovers off their feet. All gifts are available for purchase at Cupid’s top gift suggestions from include:

Dine at Rockpool Bar & Grill or Nobu, Stay at Crown Towers and then Recreate Favourite Dishes at Home with a Nobu or Neil Perry Cookbook:

Package includes:
• One night accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Crown Towers
• $100.00 dining voucher for Rockpool Bar & Grill or Nobu
• Autographed copy of Neil Perry’s ‘Balance and Harmony’ or autographed copy of Nobu’s “Nobu the Cookbook”
• $585.00 per couple

Both packages and offers are valid until 31 March 2010 and are subject to availability.

Sleep Lovers Package has joined with Peter Alexander to create a special gift. This limited offer combines luxury accommodation with cute, sexy nightwear.

• Overnight accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Crown Towers
• Buffet breakfast for two at the Conservatory
• $100.00 Peter Alexander gift certificate
• Autographed copy of Peter Alexander’s book ’20 Years of Sleeping Around’
• $590.00 per couple
• Overnight accommodation in a Standard Room at Crown Promenade Hotel
• Buffet breakfast for two at Mesh restaurant
• $100.00 Peter Alexander gift certificate
• Autographed copy of Peter Alexander’s book ’20 Years of Sleeping Around
• $470.00 per couple

Crown’s premium restaurants are hosting Valentine’s Day celebrations at both lunch and dinner. Gift vouchers for romantic meals are also available at Couples can dine at Breezes, the brasserie by Philippe Mouchel, Silks, Koko, Nobu and Number 8 restaurant and wine bar and receive a complimentary glass on Champagne and a romantic gift to share. Bookings may be made by contacting 03 9292 5777.

Cupid Also Suggests A Gift from Crown Spa:

Spa Lovers Package:
90 Minute Enrich Body Treatment for Two

The sensual fragrances of exotic flowers lend their calming properties to this exquisite Aromatherapy Associates treatment. The treatment begins with an intensive salt and coffee body exfoliation that leaves skin feeling refreshed. Hands and feet are then given extra special attention through the application of rich Vitamin E oil and a white clay mud mask. A hydrating marine algae blended with nourishing plant oils is then massaged into the skin before the skin is protected and nourished with moisturising body butter. A soothing scalp massage to relieve every last bit of tension and stress ends this rejuvenating treatment.

Upon completion of the treatment couples are presented with a delicious fruit platter and a 200ml Enrich Body Scrub, 15ml Enrich Body Serum and 15ml Enrich Body Butter to take home.

Price: $590.00 per couple in a Pampering Suite and $680.00 per couple in a Deluxe Suite.

For more information on Crown Spa please visit or to make a booking call 03 9292 6182.

Crown wishes every romantic a happy Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney Offers Valentine's Day Indulgences

Located in the historic Rocks District with views of Sydney Harbour, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney is the perfect choice to celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14 February 2010. Guests can enjoy a wide range of romantic options such as the international flavours at Café Mix, cocktails at Blu Bar on 36 or luxurious accommodation for a romantic experience.

Valentine Buffet Dinner at Café Mix
Guests can impress their Valentine with an extensive buffet dinner, including a selection of seafood, international cuisine, mouth-watering desserts, a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and the signature chocolate fountain. The Valentine Buffet Dinner is priced at A$75 per person. For enquiries and bookings, please call (02) 9250 6206 or e-mail

Sky High Romance at Blu Bar on 36
Blu Bar on 36 offers couples a selection of romantically inspired drinks served with the best views of Sydney Harbour, exclusively available from 5 to 9 p.m.

Memorable Moments at Blu Bar on 36
Memorable Moments includes a window table for one hour, chocolate dipped strawberries and two glasses of Moet et Chandon champagne or champagne cocktails for A$70 per couple.

Lasting Love at Blu Bar on 36
The Lasting Love promotion includes a window table for two hours, premium champagne cocktails for two, a half dozen oysters and sugar coated strawberries with chocolate, all for just A$360 per couple.

For further information and bookings, please call (02) 9250 6123 or e-mail

Luxury Accommodation
Guests can indulge their sweethearts with the romantic touches of the Celebrations package, which includes overnight accommodation, a food and beverage credit of A$150, a bottle of Moet et Chandon champagne, breakfast for two at Café Mix and much more from only A$498 per couple per night.

For further information and reservations, please contact Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney on (02) 9250 6000, e-mail or visit

Swissôtel Sydney is Tickled Pink this Mardi Gras

Come sleep with us at Swissôtel Sydney and be tickled pink by our fabulous Mardi Gras accommodation offer. Just a short stroll from Oxford Street you’ll find Swissôtel Sydney on Market Street, a five-star luxurious hotel with everything you need for a weekend of fun this Mardi Gras.

Share a bed in our spacious Classic room and receive 20% off our best available rate, from $263 per room, per night.

Why not relax into recovery with full use of our gym, outdoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi and if you feel like indulging in something a bit more therapeutic contact Amrita Spa to find out more about the spa recovery packages.

“Tickled Pink” at Swissôtel Sydney includes:

• 20% off our best available rate, from $263.00 per room, per night*

• Full use of gym, outdoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi

To book call (02) 9238 8855 or visit promotions online at

* Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Valid 21/02/10 - 6/03/10.

Autumn Leaves in Sydney

Take some well earned leave this autumn in Sydney with great value hotel deals from just $110 per night, including free breakfast for two plus free autumn gifts*.

Shangri-la Hotel Sydney, Four Seasons Sydney, Sofitel Wentworth Sydney and Sydney Harbour Marriott are just some of the hotels involved in the deal.

The Autumn Leaves packages include:

• Accommodation in a Deluxe Darling Harbour View Room at Shangri-La Sydney with full buffet breakfast valued at $76 PLUS a free gift from CHI, The Spa.
• Accommodation in a Classic King Room at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth with hot buffet breakfast valued at $76 PLUS complimentary access to Club Sofitel including afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks.
• Accommodation in a City View Room at the Sydney Harbour Marriott with full buffet breakfast valued at $70 PLUS a gift box of autumn cookies and the recipe to take home.
• Accommodation in a Jamison Club Park Suite at the Amora Jamison Sydney Hotel with continental breakfast for two valued at $50 PLUS a free 60-minute massage.

The Autumn Leaves packages are a great opportunity to experience first hand the spectacular line-up of autumn events including the Autumn Racing Carnival, The Archibald Prize, WICKED the Musical and the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Tourism NSW is also working with CountryLink and Accor Hotels to encourage families to come to Sydney for the Royal Easter Show. Packages are available from just $297pp for three nights including return rail from anywhere in NSW plus kids can travel and stay for just $2 each.

As an added bonus, the first 200 CountryLink package bookings to travel 1-14 April will receive a free Sydney Royal Easter Show Family Pass valued at more than $90.

For more information on the Autumn in Sydney deals go to

* Conditions apply. Valid for travel from 1 March to 30 April 2010, subject to availability. Room rates per room, per night, twin share. Lead-in price property is Chifley Eastern Creek at $110.



The world's newest cruise programme, a selection of extraordinary journeys to historic Mediterranean locations, was launched in Australia today with an amazing introductory offer – fly free to Europe from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to join your ship.

The new programme, Voyages to Antiquity, is centred on a series of 15-day and 29-day themed cruises aboard the newly-refurbished Aegean Odyssey, which, from May, will carry a maximum of only 380 guests per cruise to a range of historic destinations in countries including Egypt, Greece, Malta, Italy, Croatia, Turkey and Tunisia.

The special free flight offer applies to the two launch cruises in the programme – Athens to Rome, departing on 17 May, and Rome to Venice, leaving on 30 May.

With the free air fares included, the Athens-Rome journey is priced from just $5,295 per person, twin share from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, and includes a comprehensive range of shore excursions, wine with every dinner, gratuities and port charges, while the Rome-Venice cruise is priced from $5,575 per person, twin share, with the same inclusions. All bookings must be made by 08 March, 2010, and are subject to availability.

The Athens-Rome journey visits destinations including Piraeus, Sicily, Palermo, Amalfi, Sorrento and Capri, while the Rome-Venice cruise includes Sorrento and Amalfi, the Lifari Islands, Taormina and Dubrovnik.

"These cruises are for those with a serious interest in Mediterranean history," said Craig Bowen, Managing Director of specialist wholesaler Cruise Traveller. "They're not really cruises for those who just want to lie around the pool and sip cocktails – though we certainly do offer that option!   

"The strength of this programme is its itineraries, its themes and its inclusions," said Mr Bowen.

 "This is a five star product on a four star ship at three star prices. It opens up quality cruising for the mid price market. It is cruising tailored for the current economy. And with free flights for our launch programmes, this is arguably the best value cruise product in the Australian market today. "

For more information about Voyages to Antiquity visit or contact Craig Bowen, Cruise Traveller, on or                 0412 664 533.

To make a booking, please contact or call 07 5575 8094.


Relax and enjoy every moment with each other at Swissôtel Sydney. It’s those added little extras that will make your stay in the heart of the harbour city truly unforgettable.

Swissôtel Sydney is located in the vibrant heart of the Sydney’s shopping and entertainment precinct making it the perfect destination for a romantic weekend getaway. The “Sydney Romantic Getaway” offers couples everything they need for a magical experience together and Swissôtel Sydney will spoil you both every step of the way...

On arrival, enjoy strawberries dipped in Swiss chocolate accompanied by NV Brut Chandon sparkling wine, in the comfort of a luxurious Swissôtel Sydney guest bedroom with stunning city views. After you have settled in, experience fine dining in Jpb Restaurant with a Swiss Fondue Chinoise dinner that ends with an indulgent Swiss chocolate fondue for dessert. Wake the following morning to a full gourmet sparkling wine breakfast which will be delivered to your room. There is no hurry to leave, as Swissôtel Sydney is giving you a late check-out of 2pm so that you can enjoy the full use of our heated outdoor pool, gym, sauna and Jacuzzi.

To top off a perfect weekend, we’ll even park your car for free.

“Sydney Romantic Getaway”, from only AUD$469 per room* includes:

* Accommodation for two in a Swiss Advantage Room
* A complimentary bottle of NV Brut Chandon sparkling wine and chocolate dipped strawberries on arrival
* A Swiss Fondue Chinoise dinner for two in Jpb Restaurant including an indulgent Swiss chocolate fondue for dessert
* Full gourmet in-room NV Brut Chandon sparkling wine breakfast
* Late check-out of 2pm
* Valet car parking

To book call (02) 9238 8855 or visit promotions online at

*Terms and conditions. Subject to availability.

Swissôtel Sydney was voted Top 100 in Conde Nast Traveler’s The Best in the World Readers Choice Awards 2008 and in 2009, was awarded Top 3 Hotels in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands as well as Best Hotel in New South Wales and Best Hotel in Oceania at the 4th HotelClub Hotel Awards 2009.


Come sleep with us at Swissôtel Sydney and be tickled pink by our fabulous Mardi Gras accommodation offer.

Just a short stroll from Oxford Street you’ll find Swissôtel Sydney on Market Street, a five-star luxurious hotel with everything you need for a weekend of fun this Mardi Gras.

Share a bed in our spacious Classic room and receive 20% off our best available rate, from $263 per room, per night.

Why not relax into recovery with full use of our gym, outdoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi and if you feel like indulging in something a bit more therapeutic contact Amrita Spa to find out more about the spa recovery packages.

“Tickled Pink” at Swissôtel Sydney includes:

* 20% off our best available rate, from 263 per room, per night*

* Full use of gym, outdoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi

To book call (02) 9238 8855 or visit promotions online at

* Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Valid 21/02/10 - 6/03/10.


Who needs a Valentine when you’ve got a best friend! Have the most fun ever with a friend in the city this February 14th!

Be different, be single and be FABULOUS! “Swissôtel and the City” allows you and your best friend to experience an evening of fun in the heart of the city.

Start with an afternoon of shopping and then enjoy the sublime surrounds of Crossroads Bar while you delight in ‘High Tea’ for two. Relax in our luxurious Classic Twin room with a spacious bathroom to prepare for an evening of fun (and perhaps a touch of mischief) in the city!

Whether it be an evening of dancing or spending the night in watching movies, enjoy a complimentary breakfast for two and late check out the next morning.

“Swissôtel and the City”, from AUD $359 per room* includes:

* Five-star twin accommodation in our Classic Room
* High tea for two in Crossroads bar
* Full buffet breakfast for two in Jpb Restaurant
* Late check out at 12 noon
* Self car parking

To book call (02) 9238 8855 or visit promotions online at

Become our friend on Facebook “Swissôtel Sydney” or follow us on Twitter “Swissôtel_Syd

* Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Valid 12 – 14 February, 2010.

Swissôtel Sydney was voted Top 100 in Conde Nast Traveler’s The Best in the World Readers Choice Awards 2008 and in 2009, was awarded Top 3 Hotels in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands as well as Best Hotel in New South Wales and Best Hotel in Oceania at the 4th HotelClub Hotel Awards 2009.

Monday, 8 February 2010

3 Weeks Child-free Cruise Sydney, Asia, Singapore

A whole 3-weeks cruising from Sydney through Asia to Singapore aboard P&O’s classic Arcadia with all meals including up to 5-course dinners, a night at Singapore’s Novotel Clarke Quay post-cruise with transfers for a day’s shopping, and air back to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide is selling through in February next year from just $3649pp twin-share.

And adding to Arcadia’s many grand indulgences for her near-2000 guests as she cruises 21-nights to Brisbane, the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, Hong Kong, Halong Bay in Vietnam and Bangkok and Koh Samui in Thailand, is the fact this is a child-free ship offering adults the best in cruise experiences.

Arcadia has no fewer than fourteen bars and lounges, a fine dining restaurant through two decks and featuring 5-course dinner menus in the cruise price, two optional specialty restaurants at which a small additional charge applies (Arcadian Rhodes with the creations of famous British chef Gary Rhodes, and The Orchid specialising in Asian fusion) plus there’s a grill, Pan Pacific restaurant, tapas bar and pizzeria for more relaxed dining, and room service.

Nightly West End-style shows are staged in a 3-tier theatre, there’s a cinema, on-board guest speakers, two pools (one with a skydome), five whirlpool spas, a luxury spa, gym, casinos, and shopping facilities.

Arcadia sails from Sydney on February 13 2011; for full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit

Hollywood Star Lucy Liu Among The First Guests To Check Into The Latest Hotel To Open In The Heart Of Bollywood - The Westin Mumbai Garden City

As The Westin Mumbai Garden City opened its doors to receive guests on the 16th of January 2010, among the first to check in was Hollywood actress, Lucy Liu. She was in Mumbai to direct a short film for the series “Half The Sky” for American Public Network, PBS.
“We had a very hectic shooting schedule while in Mumbai and coming home to the Westin every night was a beautiful quiet place where I could relax and recharge. The staff has been amazingly courteous, helpful and sophisticated,” said Liu.

“It is a matter of great pride for us to have played host to Lucy Liu at this early stage of our opening. It is very encouraging for us to see the credibility that our brand enjoys. We are excited with the response so far and we hope we will continue to be the preferred choice for discerning travelers. With its sophisticated style, instinctive service, distinctive offerings, emphasis on personal renewal and the innovative signature services that have earned Westin worldwide recognition, we hope to be able to carve a niche for ourselves not just within Mumbai but within India,” says Jan Bundgaard, General Manager.

Located on the Western Express Highway, the Hotel is housed in a 32 storey tower, nestled amidst lush greenery. The Hotel’s 269 spacious rooms and suites are among the largest in the city and are equipped with superior facilities and sensory rich products and services. All rooms feature Westin’s signature Heavenly Bed® and upgraded Heavenly Bathsm amenities. Inventive services provide an unmatched level of comfort and ease of mind in whatever you choose to do. Rejuvenate with an invigorating massage at the Heavenly Spa by Westintm or energize at WestinWORKOUT® fitness center or refresh with a swim at the outdoor pool. Memorable experiences, signature services and facilities, refreshing rituals and inspired acts of renewal evoke an inspiring environment to make you live your best life.

Replenish and nourish the body with one of the many distinctive culinary experiences. An eclectic display of Asian and International cuisine beckons you at Seasonal Tastes, the contemporary all day dining restaurant which also features the signature SuperfoodsRx breakfast. Enjoy an authentic Italian meal with a healthy dash of fun at Prego. Savor chic Indian dining at Kangan. Unwind with family or business associates at Splash, the poolside bar and restaurant or at Eighteen the Lounge.

With over 900 square meters of refined meeting and function space, the hotel provides for flexibility and choice. High Speed Internet Access and sophisticated audio visual technology offer smart solutions while naturally lit rooms allow for an inspiring environment. Custom designed thematic menus, creative coffee breaks and attentive detailing make for a distinguishing meeting or social experience.

For more information or reservations, please call + 91 22 61470000, or email at or visit

Celebrate Cherry Blossom Season at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

Glimpse into the fascinating world of geisha traditions and shamisen music during the cherry blossom season in Tokyo

In celebration of cherry blossom season and the hotel’s fifth anniversary, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo is pleased to showcase the Edo culture and traditions of Nihonbashi, where 400 years of rich history and traditions have been skilfully combined with modern urban innovations. Guests can enjoy award-winning hospitality with a range of enticing room packages, plus the chance to learn more about the fascinating world of geisha traditions.

On 4 April, the hotel will feature the Nihonbashi Gala Spring Performance by a group of geisha from Yoshi-cho, long known as Tokyo’s premier geisha quarters, accompanied by Master Hidetaro Honjoh, composer and recipient of the Purple Ribbon Medal and one of Japan’s leading shamisen performers (a three-stringed musical instrument).

Hidetaro Honjoh will present a series of classical and new Hauta—which are short, stylish or witty verses sung to a shamisen accompaniment. As a prelude to the performance, a sword drawing display showcasing the samurai art of swordsmanship will be presented.

At the event, the walls of the hotel’s stylish 550m2 ballroom will be adorned with visuals and moving images, including those of breathtaking cherry blossoms, providing a contemporary backdrop to the traditional dance and musical performances of the geisha.

Yoshi-cho, was a famed entertainment district which also housed many Kabuki theatres, with geishas who performed at playhouses in the golden years of the Edo Era known as the Genroku Period (1680-1709). Yoshi-cho’s Karyukai (the highly exclusive and traditional society of the geisha) is shrouded in traditions and dates back as far as the Edo Era, making it the oldest remaining Karyukai society in Tokyo. Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo is delighted to present this rare opportunity for guests to view the fascinating world of the geisha.

Click on the links to view Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo’s range of tempting offers, including: Luxury Breaks with a daily dining and spa credit, Suite Temptations or a simple Bed & Breakfast package at our best available rate. Reservations can be made online at, or via e-mail at

About the Spring Gala Performance
Date: 4 April 2010 (Sunday)
Time: Doors open from 3:30pm / Performance schedule: 4pm - 5pm
Venue: 3rd Floor Grand Ballroom, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Tickets: JPY8,500 per person (including tax)
includes one drink either before or after the performance and a photo opportunity with geisha after the performance

For the gala event reservations or further enquiries, please phone +81 3-3270-8920 (9am to 9pm) or e-mail

Friday, 5 February 2010


Virgin Blue in partnership with Cruisepilot is gearing up to host the Gold Coast Cruise and Tour Expo this Valentine's Day to give loved up couples, adventurous singles and fun loving families the opportunity to snaffle the hottest deals on domestic and international cruise holidays.

The Expo will feature more than 30 booths, with all the major cruise and tour suppliers offering exclusive on-the-day holiday specials, plus the chance to spin the wheel to win one of thousands of fabulous giveaways.

Rounding off the program will be a whole schedule of family fun, including cruise and tour supplier presentations, Kidz Kruize Zone, SLSC Sausage Sizzle, a balloon artist plus chances to win Europe and Fiji cruises, free flights and a New Zealand resort stay.

As an added bonus, travellers who book through 'Cruisepilot' can not only get Expo Day deals but will also earn Velocity Points on EVERY dollar spent*.

When: Sunday 14 February 2010 - 9am – 2pm

Where: 58 Kingston Drive, Helensvale, Gold Coast (Brisbane UBD, Gold Coast Map 17 ref H17)

What: Visit for more details or call 1300 139 877

* Excluding port charges and government tax portion

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Visitscotland’s Book Crossin Stunt may Contain your Ticket to Scotland!

Look out for VisitScotland's travelling books in the Sydney Harbour area on Wednesday 3rd - Friday 5th February 2010. Thousands of copies of 'As Others See Us', a fascinating and easy-to-read reflection on the life and works of Scotland's national cultural icon and poet Robert Burns , are being given way free to mark the Diamond Celebrations of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in town this week.

Sydneysiders who pick up the books, which will be liberally distributed to the public by street team, are encouraged read it, pass it on and enter a competition for the chance to win an exclusive trip to Scotland and the Edinburgh Festivals. Book Crossing is a worldwide phenomena, with over 1 million people sharing books in 130 countries. There are 35,000 Australians signed-up to the official Book Crossing scheme.

With the Edinburgh Military Tattoo returning to Sydney Football Stadium 4-7 February 2010, following a five year absence, VisitScotland is offering Australians the chance to win a fantastic trip for two to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo at home in Scotland, in August 2010. The prize includes:

·2 VIP tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo

·Tickets to selected Edinburgh Festival events

·2 night stay on the beautiful Isle of Mull, the birthplace of Lachlan Macquarie- the 'father of Australia'

·6 nights/7 days on a DB&B basis

·Car hire

·Round trip on Etihad Airways

Enter to win at (competition terms & conditions published on

If you're an ancestral Scot, chances are you'll want to research your roots and nothing compares to experiencing first-hand the places your ancestors lived and worked. Try on the kilt of your clan, touch the walls of your family castle and see the very documents that chronicle their lives.

Why not get a head start by taking advantage of the FREE genealogy credits on offer from AncestralScotland and ScotlandsPeople, Scotland's official online source of genealogical information. To claim AUS $10 worth of free credits and start search for your Scottish roots, go to and enter the promotional code: AOSU.

New Virgin Blue 'The Lounge' Open for Business in WA

Perth Domestic Airport, Ground Floor

The much anticipated Virgin Blue "The Lounge" is now open for business at Perth Airport, signalling a new, convenient and comfortable era for business and leisure Guests travelling to and from West Australia.

Plans for the airline to build a brand new 500 square metre lounge facility were announced last year following overwhelming support from Virgin Blue business Guests in particular,  for a corporate lounge.

The Lounge has seating capacity for over 120 Guests and will be officially opened this evening at 6pm with a cocktail party for VIP Guests to showcase the new offering.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said: "This evening's formal opening is timed to coincide with the return to work of the business market and the ongoing momentum of the resource sector. It is the continued support of WA based business travellers and mining industry community, together with their east coast counterparts travelling across the Nullabor regularly, that was the catalyst for this significant investment."

"While it's been a long time coming, we are pleased travellers now have a fantastic lounge to work or relax in whether they are travelling during the day or on one of the evening flights after a long day on the job."

Brett Godfrey added, "The team at Weststralia Airport Corporation (WAC) has been a great partner, working closely with our team in the mutual quest to further enhance services at Perth Airport."

West Australia has been a core focus for the Virgin Blue team over the past 12 months, with new intrastate flights between Perth and Karratha, Port Hedland and Newman and additional Broome services.

The Lounge in Perth is located on the ground floor of the Virgin Blue terminal, immediately through the security screening point and is the sixth Virgin Blue "The Lounge" facility to be opened throughout Australia. It provides a range of services for both business and leisure travellers, including business facilities for those who want to continue working while they are on the move, as well as a range of options to sit back and relax in front of either HD plasma TVs, or catch up on the latest news and gossip from a selection of newspapers and magazines.

The Lounge also offers a range of complimentary food and beverages. Guests will have a choice of premium beverages and complimentary gourmet snacks. Morning, midday and evening refreshments will be available daily along with made-to-order Barrista fair trade coffee, organic fair-trade tea, hot chocolate and a choice of gourmet sweet snacks. A selection of beers and self service wines will be served after 11am daily, along with premium savoury snacks.

Other benefits of membership of The Lounge include:

Dedicated Check-In facilities within The Lounge for Guests with hand luggage only.
Business facilities including complimentary wireless internet access and private workstations.
Desktop computers with Microsoft Office software.
Printing, faxing and photocopying facilities.
Meeting room hire at competitive rates.
Informal communal tables with data/power outlets.
Conveniently located baby change and disabled toilet facilities.
Flight information display screens.
Boarding announcements made by our friendly team.
Shower facilities with everything our Guests may need to freshen up before continuing on their way.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Up, Up and a Gay! We're Boeing to Mardi Gras!

There'll be no shortage of feather boas, sequins and mile-high hair dos when Virgin Blue Mardi Gras-themed flight DJ 857 takes to the skies at 3.45pm on Thursday 25 February.

In celebration of The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, one of the biggest events on the Sydney calendar, the airline has dedicated an entire commercial flight from Melbourne to Sydney to the glitz and glamour of this annual event.

Tickets for the 'Up, Up and a Gay' flight are available for purchase from $199* one-way which includes selected refreshments, goodie bags and very special 'in-flight' entertainment by the crew from 'Leave it to Diva'.  Seats are going fast and bookings can be made by calling Blue Holidays on 13 15 16.

As a special addition, a number of fabulous famous faces are set to join the flight along with one of Virgin Blue's own 'drag queen' cabin crew team member, Ms Marion De-Pilot.

Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said Mardi Gras always attracts a huge amount of travellers from across Australia and around the world.

"People come in droves to Sydney to take part in the celebrations, especially from Melbourne, so we thought it was a great opportunity to quiff our beehives, break out the sequins and kick off the party early by getting into the spirit of Mardi Gras 'Priscilla' style on the journey there."

As the official airline for New Mardi Gras, Virgin Blue and will also feature its very own float in the main parade event on Saturday 27 February.

Brett Godfrey continued, "This is the biggest party in Australia and since Virgin Blue has been in existence we've had some kind of affiliation with Mardi Gras."

"Since the rainbow flag symbolises values that Virgin Blue has always prized (diversity, inclusiveness and freedom), we feel privileged to be part of it," he finished.

*Departing Melbourne to Sydney, seats are limited and only available through Blue Holidays. Full payment of the Fare is required at the time of booking and is non-refundable. Cancellation will result in forfeiture of the Fare.  You cannot cancel this Fare and obtain a credit for use later. A credit/debit card surcharge of $3.50 per person one way is applicable for all flights within Australia. Fare is correct as at 3 February 2010 and is subject to change. Fare is on sale from now until 23 February 2010 or until sold out, for travel on 25 February 2010. All bookings are subject to Virgin Blue's Fare Rules.  Visit for more information.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Sir Richard Branson unveils underwater "plane" for deep sea tours

Virgin Limited Edition enters the underwater world, welcoming Necker Nymph, a DeepFlight three-person aero submarine. Likened to an underwater aircraft, this open cockpit winged sub is the first of its kind to hit the market - would Sir Richard Branson want it any other way?

Designed and built by renowned engineer, Graham Hawkes, of Hawkes Ocean Technologies, Necker Nymph represents a new class of high-performance, positively buoyant vehicles which safely extend the overall capabilities of scuba, while offering the unique experience of underwater flight. Unlike all conventional subs which use ballast to sink in the water, Necker Nymph uses downward 'lift' on the wings to fly down to depth.

Available either when chartering Necker Belle, the luxury 105 foot catamaran, or when staying on Necker Island, underwater flight on Necker Nymph takes exploration to another level. Gliding on the water's surface like an aeroplane on a runway, one of the three pilots will operate the joystick to smoothly dive down, and the thrilling experience begins. Uncover ancient shipwrecks, fly side-by-side with dolphins, or spyhop with whales; the options are endless. With the flexibility to glide peacefully over glorious reefs or bank adventurously in 360 degree turns, the sub is hydrobatic. Individual "wind shields" remove the pressure of slipstream, enabling comfortable speed and ranges previously unthinkable without enclosing the pilots. The open cockpits afford near ideal 360 degree viewing for occupants, creating a uniquely open experience. Dives can last up to two hours.

Guests follow standard SCUBA procedures and will be trained/accompanied by a certified Necker Nymph pilot. Importantly, like all DeepFlight subs, Necker Nymph has near-zero environmental impact. Its positive buoyancy prevents the sub from landing on a reef, and its low light and noise emissions ensure the fragile ocean ecosystems remain undisturbed.

Ultra-lightweight and compact, this newest DeepFlight sub was designed specifically for Necker Belle, but can also be launched from shore. When taking Necker Belle for 7-nights' exclusive hire, the sub is available at a weekly rate of US$ 25,000. The sub may at times be berthed on Necker Island, so if planning a visit, make sure to ask if she's available!

Virgin Limited Edition is a collection of unique retreats chosen for their stunning locations, magnificent surroundings and offering a sense of fun, style, luxury and exceptional personal service. The group includes Necker Island in the Caribbean's British Virgin Islands, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, Sa Terra Rotja in Mallorca; The Roof Gardens and Babylon Restaurant in London; Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco, The Lodge in Verbier, Necker Belle, a 105 foot luxury catamaran and Necker Nymph, a three man aero submarine.

For bookings please call 0800-716-919 (toll free) or +44(0)208-600-0430 alternatively visit for more details.

Hawkes Ocean Technologies is a privately-held company based in the San Francisco area that designs and builds the world's most advanced manned and remote vehicles for deep ocean exploration. Founder, Graham Hawkes, is recognized as the world leader in pioneering craft to access the oceans. Hawkes Ocean Technologies is currently commercializing the DeepFlight winged submersible technology, and most recently has built the world's deepest submersible, the 36,000 foot DeepFlight. Challenger, for the late adventurer Steve Fossett, and DeepFlight Super Falcon for venture capitalist, Tom Perkins.

Byron Bay International Film Festival Accommodation Package

Byron Bay International Film Festival 5th - 13th March 2010 
Since its inception, the Byron Bay Film Festival (BBFF) has consistently grown in regard to the numbers of filmmakers and film industry notables it attracts from both Australia and overseas. The year 2010 marks the centenary of cinema in Byron Bay and this year The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa has teamed up with BBFF to offer two great festival packages;

Byron Bay International Film Festival Accommodation Package
  • Two night’s accommodation in a superior suite at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa
  • Full buffet breakfast daily for two
  • Double pass to two evening sessions at the Byron Bay International Film Festival
  • Total package price $770 per room*
Valid 6th - 13th March inclusive

Byron Bay International Film Festival Red Carpet Package
  • Two night’s accommodation in a superior suite at the Byron at Byron Resort and Spa
  • Full buffet breakfast daily for two
  • Double pass to Friday 12th March evening session at the Byron Bay Film Festival
  • Double pass to Saturday 13th March evening closing session at the Byron Bay Film Festival including access to the festival closing party
  • Total package price $820 per room*
Valid 6th - 13th March inclusive

*Standard terms & conditions apply, see website for details.

For more information or to book these packages please call reservations on
02 6639 2000 or email

Strong Aussie Dollar means great savings on European holidays

Despite a forecast increase in the number of Australians travelling to Europe this year, Aussie travellers are still being offered a range of huge savings from a number of travel wholesalers.  With added confidence in their economic situations, thousands of Australians have already made plans to head to Europe this year, and those still to book can take advantage of considerable savings due to the improved value of the Aussie dollar.

One of the best deals currently available is being offered on the extremely popular European river cruise – clients booking early can receive a choice of free flights, free four-day city stays and free cabin upgrades on a wide range of cruises, with savings of up to $2437 per person.  Other wholesalers have reduced rates in their 2010 brochures – bringing prices down to below 2009 levels in some instances.

Founder of online European travel directory, Carolyn Schonafinger, believes there has never been a better time for Australians to travel to Europe and the UK. "Whilst the effect of the Global Financial Crisis has been minimal in Australia compared to the rest of the world, many hotels and other travel related businesses in Europe are really hurting," she said.  "In order to attract more bookings, they have reduced their rates for 2010, and together with our strengthening Aussie dollar, this means fantastic value for Australian travellers."

"On top of that, many airlines are still offering special deals, saving the traveller even more money.  But like most good things, these deals won't last forever, so anyone thinking of heading to the UK or Europe this year should get in quick before the deals are all sold out," Schonafinger added.

Carolyn Schonafinger is the Founder and Editor of, an independent online European travel resource aimed at providing travellers with the widest range of holiday options and information to plan the perfect holiday.

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