Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Join Bill Clinton and Whoopi Goldberg at "Life Ball" July 17, 2010

Vienna's Life Ball is Europe's largest and most spectacular annual charity event dedicated to raising support for the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS.  Celebrating the beauty of life and the diversity of world cultures, Life Ball reinvents the great Viennese Ball tradition with glamorous, outlandish performances and inspirational speeches. In 2009 the event raised  1.496.000 Euros.

This year former United States President Bill Clinton and Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg are the first two VIP guests announced to be joining the festivities of Life Ball. In previous years Life Ball has welcomed Sharon Stone, Eva Longoria, Elton John, Liza Minilli and many others.   

Those interested in attending are being encouraged to book before it sells-out, as is the case every year. To ensure the Asia-Pacific region is represented at the event, the Life Ball Foundation has given Sydney based travel company Hautes Vacances a guaranteed ticket allocation. (For those in Vienna wishing to attend, they need to enter a lottery system to be able to purchase tickets).

Hautes Vacances is offering packages including 2 or 3 nights accommodation, some meals, transport, special events, city tours, and Life Ball tickets from $1450 per person, and will also book airfares to Vienna for attendees.  

Web: ,

Have A Tipple And See The Sights With The Paris Pass

Like a drop of vino? Test your knowledge of the grape at the French Wine Fair (8-9 May) and see some of the best sights Paris has to offer with the Paris Sightseeing Pass.

As professionals and enthusiasts gather to taste some of the country’s best vintages, take the opportunity to tickle your taste buds with the Paris Pass, which gets you free entry in to the O’Chateau Wine Attraction where you can test three different wines and learn from experts.

The Paris Sightseeing Pass also gives access to over 60 top attractions including the iconic Arc de Triomphe, entry to the world-famous Musée du Louvre and the awe-inspiring Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Users have priority access at the busiest sights to avoid queues, a free guidebook, and many additional deals, discounts and free offers. A Paris Sightseeing Pass includes a metro pass giving you unlimited travel on the metro, buses and RER within central Paris.
A two-day Paris Sightseeing Pass costs €89 for adults, €45 for teens (between 12 and 17 years) and €24 for a child (between 4 and 11 years).
A four-day Paris Sightseeing Pass costs €126 for adults (€63 for teens and €32 for children), and a six-day option costs €154 for adults, €72 for teens and €41 for children.
Check out all the activities on offer with the Paris Sightseeing Pass at The website includes a map tool to plan visits, details on all the included attractions, and full details of exclusive special offers including restaurant deals.
For more information and to buy a Paris Sightseeing Pass visit, call +44 (0)1664 485 020.

The Westin Melbourne Sees Green

The Westin Melbourne has today unveiled a new initiative that now offers the option to offset the carbon emissions generated from hotel stays or business events.

The Make a Green Choice program has been developed in association with green partner, Climate Friendly and provides guests and clients the option to pay a tailored offset fee which is then invested in projects to reduce greenhouse gases.

Hotel guests can now consult a specially created Offset Calculator via the hotel’s website to identify how their choice of accommodation room type and length of stay impacts on the environment. The option to offset their hotel stay is then provided with each booking.

Additionally, event organisers will be presented with a personalised carbon emission offset estimate based on the style and nature of their meeting, event or seminar. After extensive research into the lifecycle of carbon emissions associated with typical events, The Westin can now project the amount of carbon an event emits and provide clients the option to offset their activity.

The Westin Melbourne’s General Manager, Richard Bussiere says the Green Choice offset program is the next step in the hotel’s long term strategy for reducing its overall carbon footprint.

“We’re all looking for ways to make a difference in our daily lives to reduce the impact we have on the environment – so we’re hoping our guests and clients will see there’s an easy way to make a difference by partnering with The Westin Melbourne,” says Mr Bussiere.

“With tools we’ve developed such as the Offset Calculator and the ability to project carbon emissions associated with events, there are now some simple measures guests and clients can take to make their business activities carbon neutral,” he adds.

As part of the Green Choice program, The Westin Melbourne has also undertaken significant steps to reduce their carbon footprint with assistance from environmental experts, Carbon View.

“From the amount of water and electricity we use, to recycling and reduction strategies as well as sourcing local produce, our commitment has enabled us to reduce our base line carbon footprint measurement by 285 tonnes in the past three years,” adds Mr Bussiere.

In addition to the offset options with hotel stays and meetings, The Westin Melbourne has also announced the ‘Make a Green Choice’ accommodation package. Guests can sleep easy from just $304 per night with the carbon offset charge for their stay included in the package along with luxurious overnight accommodation and gourmet buffet breakfast for two. This offer is valid until 23rd September 2010.

More information at

Monday, 29 March 2010

Mother's Day Cruises from Captain Cook Cruises

Mother's Day Cruise Magic!

Surprise Mum this Mother's Day with a special breakfast, lunch or dinner cruise on the picturesque Sydney Harbour with Captain Cook Cruises.

What could be a better way to start Mother's Day than on a relaxing Sunday Breakfast cruise? Breakfast includes a delicious hot and cold buffet selection including tea and coffee.  The Sunday Breakfast cruise departs from No 1 King Street Wharf at 9.00am and from Jetty 6 Circular Quay at 9.30am.

The Seafood Buffet Lunch cruise features fresh Sydney rock oysters, ocean king prawns, succulent fish and mussels, plus a wide range of non-seafood and vegetarian dishes to satisfy every mum's taste. A full commentary of the sights of Sydney Harbour is also provided. The Seafood Buffet cruise departs at 12 noon from No 1 King Street Wharf and at 12.30pm from Jetty 6 Circular Quay.

The Sunday Breakfast cruise is $49 per adult and the Seafood Buffet Lunch cruise is $72 per adult. As a Mother's Day bonus, one child under 15 years is free with every paying adult.

If you want to give mum a break from the kids you can't go past the Mother's Day Top Deck Lunch Cruise. Indulge mum in a premium three course Australian a la carte menu including tea and coffee, with personalised service and ambient music, with a free upgrade to guaranteed window seating whilst seats last.

The three-course Top Deck lunch cruise departs Jetty 6, Circular Quay at 12.30pm and from No.1 King Street Wharf at 12 noon and is $82 per adult.

Cruise the harbour under the glow of the city lights on the Mother's Day Starlight Dinner Cruise.  Enjoy a three-course a la carte dinner menu and an open bar of still and sparkling wine, beer, house spirits and soft drinks all for just an amazing price of $79 per person, normally $118.

The five star Mother's Day Gold Dinner is the ultimate 7 course dining experience that mum will never forget. The Gold Dinner includes priority boarding from Circular Quay at 6.30pm, a welcome Captain's Cocktail Reception, visit to the Wheelhouse, exclusive Sky Deck seating, sophisticated lounge entertainment and a deluxe 7-course degustation menu with specially selected vintage Australian wines served to compliment each course plus an open bar of house spirits, beer and soft drinks. 

Dinner cruises depart on Sunday May 9 from Jetty 6, Circular Quay at 7.00pm with Gold Dinner priority boarding at 6.30pm and from No.1 King Street Wharf at 7.30pm. The Mother's Day Gold Dinner is $185 per person with a free upgrade to window seating whilst seats last.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises +61-2-9206 1111, Email: or visit


Friday, 26 March 2010

APT lines up luxury ship for Russia cruising

APT & AMAWaterways takes its Europe river cruising standards to Russia

After creating a fleet of eight European riverships, the APT-AmaWaterways partnership is turning its attention to Russia with the 212-passenger ms AmaKatarina scheduled to enter service in 2011.

It will be the most luxurious vessel sailing the Volga-Baltic Waterway, according to APT General Manager Marketing, Debra Fox.

"The vessel is being stripped entirely and converted from a 400-passenger vessel to a 212 passenger ship and brings our Russian cruise product up to the standards of our Europe product," she said. "We can ensure the ship is perfectly tailored to meet the high standards passengers expect from APT … all our trademark exclusive features and culturally-enriching tours."

"We're striving to achieve uniform high standards across our product; it's what our brand stands for," she said.

After AmaKatarina's inaugural sailing on May 10, 2011, she will sail 14 11-night voyages for the 2011 season, between Moscow and St Petersburg.

The ship boasts 24,025 square feet of space dedicated to 106 cabins, 76 of which feature balconies. Passengers can choose from 10 luxurious cabin categories spanning four decks. This includes 4 different suite categories -- ranging from 280 to 432 square feet. On average ms AmaKatarina's staterooms are 43% larger than other vessels on the Russian Waterways, and all staterooms feature a bathroom with a separate shower area, which is very unusual for Russian riverships.

Public areas include a restaurant, panorama lounge, theatre, sauna and bar.

At the end of their cruise, passengers can also choose to add a 15-day Trans-Siberian Adventure from Moscow to Vladivostok onboard the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express, the world's most famous rail journey.

In Europe, this May, APT launches ms Amabella and in 2011 ms Amaverde will become the eighth APT-AmaWaterways vessel in their fleet.

Contact: call 1300 229 804, visit or see a travel agent.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

P&O Cruises Stamps Its Way into the History Books on Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island will welcome the return of P&O Cruises to its shores this week after almost 80 years, with the launch of a series of commemorative stamps.

The stamps will feature past and present ships from P&O Cruises' fleet, including the 47,000-tonne Pacific Sun which will make her maiden call to Norfolk Island on March 26, berthing at a custom-made floating pontoon.

P&O Cruises' connection with Norfolk Island began in 1932 when the 22,500-tonne Strathaird visited the island on the cruise line's first roundtrip voyage from Australia.

Producing its own highly sought after stamps since 1939, the Norfolk Island Philatelic Bureau regularly issues stamps to celebrate the island's heritage, tourism, flora and fauna as well as special events. But the cruise ship stamps are a first for both the island and P&O Cruises.

In addition to Pacific Sun, the five limited edition stamps will feature Strathaird as well as P&O Cruises' Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel and its latest liner, Pacific Pearl, to be launched later this year.

The series of 20,000 stamps will be launched at a ceremony to mark Pacific Sun's arrival and will be available for sale on the Island and onboard the ship until sold out.

P&O Cruises will have three ships making 10 visits to Norfolk Island from Sydney and Auckland between March 2010 and June 2011, including four visits from P&O Cruises' latest liner, Pacific Pearl.

Carnival Australia Senior Vice President Jenny Lourey said P&O Cruises was delighted to be revisiting its first ever international port.

"Norfolk Island is such a unique destination, we're sure its many natural and historical attractions will be a hit with our passengers," Ms Lourey said.

"This commemorative stamp issue will celebrate the return of cruise ships to Norfolk Island after nearly 80 years and is set to become a collector's classic," Norfolk Island Minister for Tourism Industry and Development the Hon Andre Nobbs said.

The 47,000-tonne Pacific Sun features a child-free Oasis spa retreat, an oceanview gym and coffee bar, as well as five restaurants and cafes, multiple bars and lounges and two pools.

Fares for a 10-night cruise on Pacific Sun from Auckland to Norfolk Island and the South Pacific start from $1292* per person twin share departing May 24, 2010. Pacific Pearl will visit Norfolk Island on an eight-night cruise from Sydney to Auckland departing April 24, 2011, priced from $1199* per person.

For more information and bookings contact a licensed travel agent or P&O Cruises on 13 24 94 or visit

* All prices are per person, twin share. Subject to availability, conditions apply.



Tuesday 23 March 2010: Pacific Blue, Virgin Blue’s New Zealand-based international airline, will this evening launch its first international service from Cairns to Auckland, heralding a new era in choice and fare competition on the trans-Tasman route, as well as boosting tourism to Far North Queensland.

The airline will operate twice weekly return flights on Tuesdays and Saturdays and has committed one of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft to the route, boosting seat capacity by 79% across ‘the ditch’.

Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey said the new service had already stirred up competition on the route with Pacific Blue attracting solid load bookings into the middle of the year and competitors dropping their fares.

“By the way bookings are currently trending we’re very confident this new, affordable direct service will continue to grow in popularity in both directions,” he said.

Pacific Blue’s everyday low lead-in fares start from $349* one way on the net, more than 13%^ cheaper than fares previously available in the market.

“Since we announced our intention to commence services we are not surprised our competitors have seen it necessary to suddenly drop their fares”, Brett Godfrey added.

As New Zealand’s largest and busiest business and shopping orientated city, Auckland ‘The City of Sails’, is the gateway to New Zealand’s North Island ski fields, North West wine district and the spectacular natural wonders of Great Barrier and Waiheke Islands and the Summit of Rangitoto.

The city also boasts the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand, the 328 metre tall Sky Tower, the popular Queen Street shopping hub and a vibrant and cosmopolitan wining, dining and social scene.

Pacific Blue and Blue Holidays currently have some exciting travel packages in the market to entice Queenslanders to chill out in Auckland this winter with up to 30% off regular prices.

BLUE HOLIDAYS ‘Rydges Auckland’ FOUR NIGHT DEAL from $809 per person:

Four nights accommodation for the price of three at Rydges Auckland, including return Pacific Blue flights from $809 per person ex Cairns. On sale now until 30 April 2010, for travel from 1 April 2010 – 31 August 2010. For bookings and full terms and conditions see or call 13 15 16.

New Jungfrau rail pass

Rail Plus has released a new Jungfrau VIP Pass which provides three days unlimited rail travel around Switzerland's Jungfrau region, including a trip up to Jungfraujoch, at 3454m the highest rail station in Europe.

The price is $195 adult and $70 child (5-15 years; children under 5 travel free).

The pass is valid for three consecutive days unlimited travel on the Jungfrau Railways network which includes the cogwheel, funicular and mountain top railways in the regions of Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Enjoy the Royal Easter Show and a North Shore Mini Break with Urban

If you’re Sydney-bound this April for the Royal Easter Show, you’ll find a relaxing, contemporary destination to lay your head at Hotel Urban St Leonards.

The North Shore’s best-kept secret, Hotel Urban if offering a Royal Easter Show Package which includes accommodation in an Urban King room and entry to the Show for as little as $207 per night (for two adults and a child).

Hotel Urban is a holidaymakers dream – a stylish, modern property with beautiful surroundings, a gourmet eatery, and slick facilities, all without the nightmare parking and congestion of the CBD. Your Easter Show mini-break will be effortless thanks to the hotel’s thoughtful extras, which include fluffy robes and slippers, an outdoor putting green, in-house gym, and luxury evo amenities in every bathroom.

Sydney’s Royal Easter Show is one of the biggest dates in the city’s calendar – attracting around 900,000 visitors, the event runs from 1 – 14 April 2010 at the Sydney Showground and features activities for all the family including agricultural displays, live music, food tasting, fashion shows, and carnival rides.

Call 02 9439 6000 or visit to book your Royal Easter Show package.

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney Offers Easter Family Fun

This year, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney invites families to celebrate the Easter holiday with special Easter accommodation packages, chocolate workshops and Easter buffet meals in Café Mix.

Easter Eggs-Travaganza Package

Featuring Easter treats for everyone in the family to enjoy, the Easter Eggs-Travaganza Package offers guests a fun-filled Easter getaway.

Priced from A$325 per night and valid from 2 to 5 April 2010, the package includes:

Overnight accommodation for two adults and up to two children in the same room
Buffet breakfast in Café Mix for two adults and up to two children
Easter eggs on arrival
Complimentary chocolate workshop with Easter egg hunt (available on 3, 4 and 5 April 2010 only)
Complimentary use of children’s DVDs
One complimentary rollaway bed
Children’s robes and slippers for the night
Overnight parking
Complimentary use of the Health Club
Free broadband Internet access

Easter Eggs-Traordinary Spa Package

For an indulgent Easter escape, guests can enjoy the Easter Eggs-Traordinary Spa Package filled with chocolate eggs and pampering spa experience.

Priced from A$413 per night and valid from 26 March to 14 April 2010, the package includes:

Overnight accommodation for two adults and up to two children in the same room
Buffet breakfast in Café Mix for two adults and up to two children
Easter eggs on arrival
CHI Vanilla Bean Body Massage for one adult
Complimentary use of children’s DVDs
One complimentary rollaway bed
Children’s robes and slippers for night
Overnight parking
Complimentary use of the Health Club
Free broadband Internet access

Rates quoted are per room per night, including GST, and subject to availability.

For further information and reservations, please call (02) 9250 6000, e-mail or visit

Chocolate Workshops
Parents can spoil their children with the exciting chocolate workshops, which include Easter egg making classes, chocolate egg displays and an entertainment lounge with chocolate snacks and soft drinks. The whole family can learn the art of making the perfect Easter egg from Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney’s leading pastry chefs and take home their own creations. Priced at A$20 per adult and A$10 per child or A$50 for a family of four, the chocolate workshops are exclusively available from 3 to 5 April 2010.

Easter Eggs-Travaganza Buffet
Guests can head to Café Mix and enjoy a gourmet Easter Eggs-Travaganza buffet meal, featuring chocolate eggs and bunnies, Easter favourites and a chocolate fountain. Priced at A$34 per child and A$68 per adult, the buffet is available for lunch and dinner from 2 to 5 April 2010.

For further information and reservations, please call (02) 9250 6206 or e-mail

Get Star Struck With BridgeClimb

BridgeClimb are providing an exclusive opportunity to experience a Climb on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during Earth Hour.

Led by Fred Watson, the astronomer in charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory, climbers will have the rare opportunity to watch in awe from the top of the Bridge as the lights switch off in Sydney and the city’s sky illuminates with stars.

Earth Hour is on Saturday, 27 March from 8:30pm – 9:30pm, when homes and businesses across Sydney will switch off their lights to show their support for action on climate change.

Watson will provide expert guided commentary on astronomy for the climbers without the usual light pollution that makes it almost impossible to stargaze in the beautiful city of Sydney.

“Light pollution is caused by inefficient artificial lighting illuminating the sky so that fainter astronomical objects, like stars, are hard to see or disappear altogether,” the award winning Watson said.

Watson then went on to comment that “"The main thing is to…get away from places where there is a concentration of light, so Earth Hour will be the perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse of our city’s night sky at its best".

This exclusive Climb will be on The Bridge Climb and will start at 6:45pm. Tickets are $188 each, with limited spots available. To take advantage of this rare opportunity, please call the ticket hotline on (02) 8274 7777.

To book a climb at another time on one of our three amazing climbs, The Bridge Climb, The Discovery Climb or our newest climb, The Express Climb, please visit

Ghost Tours and Island Luxury – What’s New in Tropical Townsville

An exclusive Magnetic Island beachfront retreat and a ghost tour that’s a real scream are just two of the newest ways to stay and play in and around tropical Townsville.

Magnetic Island continues to live up its barefoot luxury factor with a new luxury retreat on beautiful Horseshoe Bay offering a world of seclusion and pure indulgence. Lotus House is an exquisite beachfront house catering for up to six adults featuring three spacious bedrooms with ensuites, exotic tropical gardens, spa bath, an oceanfront temperature-controlled swimming pool, expansive upper deck offering uninterrupted sea views and in-house chef options.

Back on the mainland, hear ghostly tales, tour haunted locations by lantern light, detect spirits of the past and stay overnight in a haunted house with Townsville Ghost Tours. Board the ghost bus and discover underground dungeons, secret tunnels, cellars, mineshafts, churches, old hospital sites and cemeteries. With a variety of day and night tours on offer you’ll learn how to use a GMF Ghost Meter, hear ghost tales of the past and see Townsville like you’ve never seen it before. Take your experience to the next level and sped the night in a haunted 1890’s house or participate in a murder mystery night based on real people and events. Townsville Ghost Tours operate on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and bookings are essential.

For something a little more peaceful, spend Sunday afternoon cruising on the Ross River Dam with Pop Sullivan Tours and Cruises. Relax onboard the MV Kathleen Mary with some nibbles and drinks as you spot turtles and birdlife and take in the beautiful wetlands of Lake Ross.

Q Resorts Itara Townsville Apartments are brand new self- contained serviced one-bedroom apartments in the city centre. The four and half star apartments feature contemporary open plan living, swimming pool, BBQ area, secure underground parking and high-speed broadband internet.

The Townsville region is also celebrating the recent win of two prestigious 2009 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards. Noorla Heritage Resort, Ingham took out the Best Standard Accommodation category and Hidden Valley Cabins, Paluma was named the best Hosted Accommodation. Noorla is an elegant, fully-restored Italian Art Deco building an hour north of Townsville offering a range of accommodation including heritage rooms, camping sites and backpacker rooms. Hidden Valley Cabins, located one and half hours north-west of Townsville, is renowned as Australia’s first carbon neutral resort and tour company to operate on 100 per cent solar power.

For more information on holiday ideas in the Townsville region visit

Getting There

Townsville is a two hour flight from Brisbane. Virgin Blue offers direct flights to Townsville from Rockhampton, Brisbane and Sydney. Qantas and Jetstar also fly direct from Brisbane and Sydney with connections available from around Australia.

Traveltrain’s Tilt Train also provides two services a week.

Magnetic Island is easily accessible via a 20 minute ferry ride from the Townsville Breakwater terminal.

Win A Trip to Korea and Feast Like a King

Korea Tourism Organization launches its ‘I Love Korean Food’ campaign on the city streets this week in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The JC Decaux Citylights campaign will highlight Korea’s unique cuisine and offer Australians a chance to win a trip to Korea for two to experience a taste of royal cuisine.

The prize includes a trip for two to Korea with return airfares and deluxe hotel accommodation for three nights as well as a royal banquet for two at one of Seoul’s famous royal cuisine restaurants.

Contestants are requested to name three dishes on the table featured in the poster and visit the site to register their entry and to discover more about the wonderful world of Korean cuisine. The competition runs from 22nd March to 31st August with the winner announced on Friday, 3rd September, 2010.

Korean food is one of the main reasons for many travellers to visit Korea and royal cuisine has become of much greater interest in recent years due to popular drama series like Daejanggeum (The Girl in the Palace) which have focused on royal cuisine. In turn, all Korean food has become more popular and Korean restaurants are popping up everywhere.

Dining at a royal cuisine restaurant is a special occasion where you can sample elaborate dishes such as Sinseollo (a type of casserole dish cooked at the table) and Gujeolpan (the fancy nine section dish) which has eight kind of foods eaten inside a small wheat pancake).

Korea will host some major food festival events this year with the Korea Food & Tourism Festival taking place in Jeonju from 21-27 October, 2010 and the famous Gwangju Kimchi Cultural Festival taking place in Gwangju from 15-24 October, 2010.

Korea has numerous food festivals specialising in certain food products eg. ginseng, mushrooms, seafood, rice and rice cakes as well as famous tea festivals, rice wine and liquor festivals.
To enter the contest go to and make your mouth water with the wide array of dishes on the table! You can also request a detailed guidebook to Korea together with ‘The Wonderful World of Korean Food’ guide and recipe book.

Learn more about Korean cuisine by visiting the official travel website for Korea and click on ‘Food’.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Experience the Classic Moscow to St Petersburg Tour

8 day / 7 night tour from Moscow to St. Petersburg offering three, four or five star options including accommodation, daily breakfast and more.

Classic Moscow to St. Petersburg Tour

DURATION: 8 days/7 nights

DATES OF OPERATION: 1 January - 31 December 2010

Hotel option: Izmailovo 3* in Moscow and Morskoy Vokzal 3* in St. Petersburg
2 people: $2316 per person twin share
3 - 10 people: $2017 per person twin share, $2435 per single
Hotel option: Cosmos 4* in Moscow and Pulkovskaya 4* in St. Petersburg
2 people: $2548 per person twin share
3 - 10 people: $2316 per person twin share, $2992 per single
Hotel option: Savoy 5* in Moscow and Grand Emerald 5* in St. Petersburg
2 people: $3478 per person twin share
3 - 10 people: $3131 per person twin share, $4616 per single

INCLUSIONS: accommodation at the hotel in Moscow for 3 nights with breakfast; accommodation at the hotel in St. Petersburg for 3 nights with breakfast; transfers by comfortable bus, European language guide during the tour, lunches at restaurant "Vanilla Sky", in Sergiev Posad and at Pushkin, all the entrance fees and first class train ticket from Moscow to St. Petersburg (1 night).

Tonia at Gateway Travel for the full itinerary and availability.

Kids Cruise Free this Easter School Holidays

Take the kids on a Sydney Harbour cruise for free during the Easter school holidays with Captain Cook Cruises. Children aged 0-14 years who are accompanied by an adult cruise for free on selected dining and sightseeing cruises.

'Kids cruise for free' applies to the Sunday Breakfast cruise, Seafood Buffet Lunch cruise, Main and Middle Harbour Coffee cruise, Hop On Hop Off Harbour Express and Harbour Highlights cruise.

The Sunday Breakfast cruise includes a delicious hot and cold buffet breakfast including seasonal fresh fruit, selection of cereals, yoghurt, bacon, eggs, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, chipolatas, croissants, rolls, fruit juice, tea and coffee and is $49 for adults and free for any child less than 14 years accompanied by a paying adult.

The Seafood Buffet Lunch cruise features fresh Sydney rock oysters, ocean king prawns, succulent fish and mussels, plus a wide range of non-seafood and vegetarian dishes to satisfy every taste. A full commentary of the sights of Sydney Harbour is also provided. Adults are $72 each and children less than 14 are free when accompanied by a paying adult.

The Breakfast cruise departs every Sunday from No 1 King Street Wharf at 9.00am and from Jetty 6 Circular Quay at 9.30am. The Seafood Buffet departs daily at 12 noon from No 1 King Street Wharf and at 12.30pm from Jetty 6 Circular Quay.

The famous Main and Middle Harbour Coffee cruise includes morning and afternoon tea and takes sightseers to the beautiful upper reaches of Middle Harbour, past magnificent waterfront homes, beaches and parklands and incorporates all the Main Harbour attractions.

The Main and Middle Harbour Coffee cruise departs daily from Jetty 6 Circular Quay at 10am and 2.15pm and is $49 per adult and free for any child less than 14 years accompanied by a paying adult.

Hop from one Sydney Harbour famous attraction to another with an all day 'hop on hop off' pass with the Harbour Express. Featuring live commentary the Harbour Express visits Circular Quay, Taronga Zoo, Watson's Bay, Fort Denison, Shark Island, Luna Park and Darling Harbour.

The Harbour Express departs every 45 minutes from Jetty 6, Circular Quay and Pier 26, Darling Harbour and adults are $38 each and free for any child less than 14 years accompanied by a paying adult.  An additional National Park fee of $7 applies to Fort Denison and Shark Island.

Featuring live commentary the Harbour Highlights Cruise is a great way for those short of time to see all the Harbour's main attractions. The Harbour Highlights Cruise departing daily at 2.30pm from Jetty 6, Circular Quay and is $29 per adult and free for any child less than 14 years accompanied by a paying adult

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1111, Email: or visit

Friday, 12 March 2010

Yoga, Pepper and Salt

Winter is a time for resting and restoring and the perfect season to stretch out on an indulgent yoga escape to Peppers Salt Resort & Spa at Kingscliff in Northern NSW.

The luxurious resort is holding a special yoga weekend from 18-20 June allowing guests to relax through specialist yoga classes, dine on delicious wholesome cuisine and revitalise with a spa treatment at the onsite Golden Door Spa.

Hosted by YOGA TV host, Kris McIntyre, the yoga retreat is designed for all ability levels from beginners through to advanced practitioners.

Kris said the winter yoga retreat provides the perfect opportunity to focus inwards and build strength and stability in the body.

“In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is when the water element in the body is most prominent.

“This energy system is linked to the structural integrity of our body and its shape, our sense of identity, our hormonal and nervous systems, our bones, sexual energy and reproductive functions.

“It is therefore the best time of the year to deal with issues including lower back issues, stress and hormonal imbalances,” Kris said.

Priced from $490* per person twin share, the all-inclusive escape includes two nights accommodation at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, full buffet breakfast daily, six yoga classes with yoga teacher, author and TV host Kris McIntyre, yoga mat, The Golden Door workshops and demonstrations, a 50 minute Golden Door Spa treatment, wholesome meals inspired by The Golden Door cook book and prepared by the Roughie's Restaurant & Bar team led by Executive Chef Reuben Radonich, full use of resort leisure facilities, unlimited in-room movies and more.

Non-residential packages are available from $351* per person including all yoga classes, mat, Golden Door Spa treatment, one dinner and two lunches.

Yoga enthusiasts can also kick-start and cleanse in spring at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa’s Spring Yoga Retreat on 10-12 September 2010.

Peppers Salt Resort & Spa combines the seaside-village charm of Northern New South Wales with Peppers’ renowned style and sophistication and features all the luxuries you would expect of one of Australia’s leading resorts including a large tropical beach lagoon, a network of walking and bicycle tracks, an unspoilt surf beach patrolled 365 days a year, The Golden Door Spa and award-winning Roughie’s Restaurant & Bar.

Providing the ultimate beach break on South East Queensland’s doorstep, SALT is located just 20 minutes from Gold Coast Airport, 60 minutes from Ballina Airport and less than 90 minutes drive from Brisbane.

For bookings or further information phone Louise Anker on 02 6670 5027 or email

*Conditions apply. Subject to availability.

Chimu Adventures Offers 25% off Antarctica Expeditions

Latin America and Antarctica specialist Chimu Adventures is offering 25% off the MS Expedition Antarctica cruises.

The special is valid for all departures in the 2010/2011 season and all expeditions such as the classic 11 day voyage and the longer 20 day ‘Spirit of Shackleton’ route.

Director of Chimu Adventures, Greg Carter, believes the deal gives people the opportunity to pick up a real bargain in getting to Antarctica . Carter claims, “with the 25% off discount, prices are starting from around $AUD 3,775 for the 11 day classic expedition. This is really unbeatable value!”

The offer is available for bookings made before 30th April 2010 and is commissionable for agents.

Cinderella Ending To Fairytale Broome Safari

Two of Australia’s most innovative business women have joined forces to create a travel experience designed for women, by women.

The Broome Gorgeous Girls & Pearls Safari is a collaboration between Marilynne Paspaley AM, Founder and Managing Director of Pinctada Hotels & Resorts, and television personality Maeve O’Meara, Founder and Director of Gourmet Safaris.

Marilynne and Maeve will co-host the Gorgeous Girls & Pearls Safari from June 17-22, 2010, at Pinctada Cable Beach, Broome’s new award-winning five star spa resort and the flagship of Marilynne’s resort portfolio.

“Maeve and I not only work in the tourism and travel industry, but have also travelled extensively in our personal lives,” Marilynne said. “The cornerstone of both our companies is creating experiences that are customised, personal and memorable. The Gorgeous Girls & Pearls Safari is a reflection of the corporate values we share as well as the personal experiences we look for when we travel.” Pinctada’s tagline – personal moments, endless horizons – captures the essence of the weeklong Gorgeous Girls & Pearls Safari. The customised and ‘money can’t buy’ experiences that Marilynne and Maeve have created include:

• a private pearl appreciation function at the Paspaley Boutique in Broome with champagne - and sautéed Paspaley pearl meat prepared by Pinctada’s award-winning SELENE Brasserie
• the opportunity to be dressed by Paspaley in their finest pearls for the safari’s final night gala dinner
• Pinctada Supper on the Sand on Cable Beach after a sunset camel ride • a special screening of Bran Nue Dae at Sun Pictures, the world’s oldest picture garden
• a bush-tucker and discovery walk through the surrounding natural landscape with award-winning indigenous guide, Neville Poelina
• a day at Broome races where thoroughbreds race on the Kimberley’s red pindan earth The Gorgeous Girls & Pearls Safari is the first Kimberley experience offered by Maeve O’Meara’s Gourmet Safaris, which was honoured in 2007 as Best Tour Operator by The Australian Tourism and Travel Awards.

“I’ve always wanted to create a Kimberley safari because it’s such a magic place,” she said.

“Plus we have the opportunity to experience Broome through the eyes of a local – and a well known one at that. Marilynne Paspaley has such a rich pearling heritage and an understanding of the Kimberley and that special knowledge will make for a truly wonderful safari.

On all our Gorgeous Safaris, our girls come back golden glowing and rested and I’m sure our first Broome Girls and Pearls Safari will be no exception. Like all the girls who’ve booked so far, I’m particularly excited by the opportunity to wear Paspaley pearls on our final evening – it’s a ‘Cinderella’ ending to a fairytale week in Broome.” The full itinerary and booking details for the Broome Gorgeous Girls & Pearls Safari can be found at or by phoning +61 (0)2 9960 5675. Prices start from $3762.00 plus airfares.

BridgeClimb Celebrates the 2.5 millionth Climber to Scale to the Summit of Sydney’s Icon

BridgeClimb Sydney has celebrated the 2.5 millionth Climber to experience “The Climb of their Life” on the world famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

At 10.05am on Friday 12th March 2010, Hilary Baker from the UK scaled to the summit of the Bridge with BridgeClimb Sydney.

Ms Baker, a coach driver from Sundon, England (just outside London), climbed with her partner Greg Ashworth as well as her sister Alison Kirkham and Alison’s husband John Kirkham.

“This is our first visit to Australia and what a way to be welcomed” Ms Baker said. “I have been looking forward to climbing the Bridge for so long, and to be lucky enough to be the 2.5 millionth climber…well this is just brilliant.”

At the summit Ms Baker was presented with a trophy containing a cement core from the original 1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge foundation work, sourced from the excavation of the BridgeClimb access tunnel to the Bridge.

Todd Coates, Managing Director of BridgeClimb said “Hilary has travelled from across the globe to summit the Bridge today. Her story and the memory she will treasure forever is as unique and special as every one of our 2.5 million Climbers”.

Since BridgeClimb opened in October 1998 58% of Climbers have been international visitors to Sydney, 24% were Sydney-siders and 18% were from the rest of Australia.

BridgeClimb now have three exciting climbs to the summit of the Bridge; The Bridge Climb, The Discovery Climb and The Express Climb, all available at dawn, during the day, twilight and at night. For booking enquiries call (02) 8274 7777 or book online at

Pictures by James Morgan - Free images for use in online and editorial only (NO SALES/NO ADVERTISING) - on behalf of Bridgeclimb, Sydney, Australia- please credit images by James Morgan if used or issued.

Photo caption: "2.5 millionth Climber Hilary Baker celebrates on the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge"

Thursday, 11 March 2010

SWISSÔTEL Sydney Hits High Heeled Fashion!

Swissôtel Sydney has partnered with Shoes of Prey to create the ultimate high fashion experience.

In an Australian first, luxury hotel Swissôtel Sydney has partnered with bespoke shoe label Shoes of Prey to offer women everywhere the ultimate experience in the heart of Sydney's fashion precinct!

Shoes of Prey is an innovative new concept in footwear enabling women to design their very own pair of custom-made shoes online. This unique experience allows women to personalize everything they want in a shoe - from style to colour to fabric! Heel, toe, Leopard print, suede, patent, hot pink, bows, peep-toed kicks or 4.5 inch heels - whatever the occasion, the possibilities are endless. The shoes are hand-made to order by expert craftsmen with an array of luxurious materials including buttery-soft calfskin leather, snakeskin, fish skin, Italian silks and more. To ensure the perfect size, ladies can be fitted for these bespoke shoes at pop-up concept stores prior to finalizing orders online.

Where there is five-star footwear, there is a five star luxury experience to match. Swissôtel Sydney and Shoes of Prey have collaborated to offer an exclusive fashion package to help celebrate this new partnership.

The ‘SHOESôtel’ package enables two friends to pamper themselves in five-star accommodation and clink glasses of bubbly over a sophisticated High Tea in the heart of Sydney’s shopping precinct.

SHOESôtel at Swissôtel Sydney includes:

• Two Shoes of Prey gift vouchers valued at $550.00
• Accommodation in a deluxe Classic Twin Room from $209.00 per room
• Champagne High Tea for two, served in the stylish Crossroads Bar from $39.00 per person

If booked in advance, shoes will be ready-to-wear upon check-in.

Yours in beautiful shoes … Shoes of Prey and Swissôtel Sydney

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

Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability.
Valid Monday – Sunday, until 29 December 2010.
Minimum 6 week advance booking required for footwear delivery on arrival.

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.

O-M-G Are You in Need of 1-2-1 T-L-C? There's an App for That!

March 2010: As time remains an increasingly precious commodity Small Luxury Hotels of the World ™ (SLH) has developed an app to bring luxury to the palm of your hand. The new, free app allows guests to Discover, Enjoy and Share some ‘GR8 TLC’ in any one of our superb 500 plus properties in over 75 countries, anywhere at any time.

The new app is available to download from Supported by rich imagery and information, customers will easily be able to book any hotel and share their favourite choices with friends and family – all with the simple touch of a button.

The SLH app also helps find nearby points of interest including tourist attractions and other rich cultural and culinary experiences through the augmented reality function.

‘‘The free iPhone app was developed with our guests’ needs and wants expressly in mind,’’ says Paul Kerr, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. ‘‘It provides a highly flexible and easy way to search, browse and book a hotel whilst on the go. We are also pleased to be able to provide our guests with instant and personally selected recommendations for famous landmarks near their hotels through the help of augmented reality and Google maps with GPS, so it is virtually impossible to get lost.’’ Designed by SLH’s digital partner, Fortune Cookie, there are three main iPhone app functionalities:

‘Discover’ - allows iPhone users to browse and book their luxury hotel, through various search categories such as destination, specific experiences or the latest special offers for a quick getaway. Whether customers are seeking a blissful spa retreat, a secluded beachside escape or a sanctuary hidden amid the vibrant atmosphere of a bustling city centre, it is now all available from the iPhone.

‘Share’ - enables a shortlist of favourite SLH hotels and experiences to be shared with family and friends via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. ‘Enjoy’ - search for points of interest near to your hotel as you walk the streets using an augmented reality layer which delivers expert personal recommendations from SLH. Justin Cooke from Fortune Cookie says, ‘’We have designed the SLH iPhone application to allow SLH guests to engage with SLH at every stage of their journey – finding the right property to suit their needs, using the app to enhance their experience while staying at the property and of course, sharing the experience when they return.’’ SLH’s iPhone app also works on the iPod Touch and is available as a free download from the Apple Apps Store.

About Small Luxury Hotels of the World The Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) brand is an unrivalled portfolio of some of the world’s finest small independent hotels. Comprising over 500 hotels in more than 75 countries, the diversity of the individual hotels, and the experiences that they offer, is exceptional. From cutting-edge design hotels to palatial 17th century mansions, city centre sanctuaries to remote private islands, historic country houses to idyllic resorts, Small Luxury Hotels of the World offers only the very best. Reservations can be made at any Small Luxury Hotels of the World property by calling +65 6232 5060 or via Travel agents need only remember the GDS code LX for LuXury.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

"The Leading Hotels of the World and GHM Announce Groundbreaking Programme for 'Unlimited' Leaders Club Members"

Securing a Stay at the World's Most Exclusive Hotels and Resorts Just Got Easier with GHM's Guaranteed Availability Programme

(Hong Kong, March 10, 2010) – Building on the privileges now available to members of its guest loyalty programme 'Leaders Club', The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) has forged a new partnership with Asian-based luxury hotel operator GHM [General Hotels Management] whereby Unlimited level Leaders Club members are guaranteed a room, at any time, at GHM's eight properties within the LHW collection.

This added benefit not only underlines GHM's commitment to providing the most personalized attention to this audience of discerning individuals, but reinforces the value and sheer convenience of being a Leaders Club Unlimited member.

In addition to allowing a member to secure a room during peak, sold-out periods – such as a last-minute New Year's Eve stay – Unlimited guests will receive a welcome bottle of champagne upon arrival.

The Guaranteed Availability benefit to Unlimited Leaders Club is currently available at the following GHM hotels and resorts:

§         The Setai, Miami, U.S.
§         The Nam Hai, Hoi An, Vietnam
§         The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia
§         The Strand, Yangon, Myanmar
§         The Legian, Bali, Indonesia
§         The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
§         The Chedi Chiang Mai, Thailand
§         The Chedi Muscat, Oman

GHM is a market leader in conceptualising, developing and operating a unique collection of exclusive and stylish hotels and resorts in Asia and worldwide, each distinguished by their breathtaking Asian-inspired contemporary design.  The company currently operates a portfolio of properties of which all are members of the LHW Collection.

Commenting on this new program, Mr Hans Jenni Director and President for GHM said, "LHW's Unlimited Leaders Club members are among our most valued guests and we share a commitment to providing them with the ultimate travel experience, from unique design, supreme comfort and service, to the luxury of last minute travel guaranteed to suit their time-pressed lifestyles." 

For more information about Leaders Club or for reservations, visit  or call 800.650.CLUB(.2582).

About The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd.

The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. is the prestigious luxury hospitality organization representing more than 450 of the world's finest hotels, resorts and spas, and is the operator of and – the online sources for your luxury lifestyle.  As the largest international luxury hotel brand, the firm maintains offices in 22 major markets across the globe.

Since 1928, the company's reputation for excellence derives from the exacting levels of quality it demands of its members, each of which must pass a rigorous, anonymous inspection covering hundreds of meticulous criteria spanning from product to behavioral standards.  This set of standards is the most stringent in the industry.

For reservations and information, visit

About GHM

Established in 1992, General Hotel Management Ltd (GHM) is a market leader in conceptualising, developing and operating an exclusive group of hotels and resorts worldwide.  With an expansive portfolio and several more in the pipeline, GHM prides itself in providing guests with a distinctive lifestyle experience that is unrivalled. Each GHM hotel or resort is one of a kind, possessing distinctive concepts and design elements. The signature GHM style is best defined as Asian-inspired designs with delicate details.

GHM's portfolio of properties comprises The Setai, The Datai, The Legian, The Club at The Legian, The Nam Hai, The Strand, The Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah – Ubud, The Chedi - Muscat and The Chedi - Chiang Mai.

GHM properties currently under development include the following hotels and resorts worldwide:

§                     The Nizuc in Riviera Maya, Mexico
§                     The Ananti Club, Seoul
§                     The Malkai, Barka, Oman
§                     The Chedi, Cairo
§                     The Chedi, Jordan
§                     The Chedi, Andermatt, Switzerland
§                     The Chedi, Kilada Hills, Greece
§                     The Chedi, Thracian Cliffs, Cape Kaliakra, Bulgaria
§                     The Chedi, Tamouda Bay, Morocco
§                     The Chedi, Taiping Lake, China
§                     The Chedi, Suzhou, China
§                     The Chedi Club & Residences, Kuala Lumpur

Destination Austria Travel Manual 2010 - out now!

March sees the launch of Destination Austria Travel Manual 2010 the must-have research tool for everyone planning a holiday to Austria this year! And there is no better time to book an Austrian holiday than now, due to the strong Australian Dollar which appreciated more that 20% against the Euro compared to March 2009. This makes a holiday to Austria much more affordable again!

Visitors to Austria love travelling around the country for many different reasons. One of them is certainly the special mixture of tradition and innovation, which can be encountered at every corner. Especially in Vienna, the capital, and the larger cities like Graz or Salzburg, where cultural treasures from many centuries face modern art and architecture.

Not to forget about Austria's music and theatre scene – the immense number of festivals and performances that can be seen – from medieval to classic and avant-garde – taking place throughout the year.

Astrid Mulholland-Licht, Director Australia/New Zealand of the Austrian National Tourist Office comments: "The new travel manual also offers a variety of tips for music & art lovers tantalizing tastebuds at the same time: Austrian culinary delights matched with cultural experiences – a truly delicious way of exploring my home-country!"

Destination Austria Travel Manual 2010 incorporates a detailed listing of Australian and New Zealand travel companies offering a large product range of Austrian holiday experiences from city stays to Danube cruises, ski vacations to musical/cultural packages to name a few. It also includes flight information, travel tips, accommodation guides and features handy listings like a web-directory, distance charts and chapters on rail travel as well as a colour map of Austria.

To order a FREE copy of Destination Austria Travel Manual 2010 call (02) 9299 3621 or email

Tuesday, 9 March 2010



09 March, 2010 - Helen Wong's Tours has launched an expanded Vietnam holiday programme for 2010 / 2011, including a new 11 day highlights tour and a 25-day journey which combines the best of Vietnam with a soft adventure experience through traditional communities of south-west China.

The programme also includes a range of "Unparalleled Highlights" which only Helen Wong's Tours includes in tour prices.

The new highlights tour, titled "Glimpse of Vietnam", delivers a more affordable option for new visitors to Vietnam. It commences in and around Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) continuing to the world heritage-listed ancient city of Hoi An, the imperial city of Hue, the capital Hanoi and spectacular Halong Bay, with features including the famous Cu Chi tunnels, constructed and used by Viet Cong fighters during the Vietnam war, the islands of the beautiful Mekong Delta , bustling markets, Hanoi's  entrancing water puppet theatre and the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh.

 "We first launched highlights tours of Vietnam over a decade ago, when the country was still emerging as a new holiday destination in Asia," said Helen Wong. "Now there's a new generation of visitors to Vietnam, as well as those returning to relive past experiences, so we've reintroduced this programme for them," Ms Wong said. This 11-day tour is priced from $2850 per person, twin share.

As well as first time visitors, there are also increasing numbers of travellers seeking to combine Vietnam and China into a single experience, offering not just the key attractions of Vietnam but a journey through China's south west, combining some of the country's most breathtaking natural attractions with the cultures and local customs of minority nationalities.

 "This tour – the charms of Vietnam and China – takes travellers through the best of Vietnam and then immediately off the beaten track into China's culturally-rich southern and western regions, where visitors can observe and experience the ways of many smaller communities, and where the climate is described as the eternal spring," said Ms Wong.

"This is not the new China. From the moment they cross the border on foot, travellers will know they are in an old and traditional China, with localised customs in a range of villages, spectacular terraced rice fields, the 1200 year old Town of Jianshui, the renowned Terracotta Warriors of Xian and the extraordinary Stone Forest of Kunming," she said.

"This is an itinerary we believe will appeal to returning visitors, who have seen the big cities and the more widely publicised attractions and are now looking for a more authentic and exotic experience of China." This 25-day programme is priced from $6300 per person, twin share.

In addition to the new tours, Helen Wong's Tours adds value with "Unparalleled Highlights" in Saigon, Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi, and Siem Reap, including a dinner at Saigon's Le Caprice French colonial restaurant, and cocktail reception at the Sheraton Hotel's "Floor 23"; dressing in traditional costume and enjoying a themed "Emperor's Dinner" in Hue; Lunch at KOTO Restaurant in Hanoi, plus a cooking class at the renowned Sofitel Metropole Hotel Cooking School and lunch at the Spice Garden Restaurant; and, in Siem Reap, a 10 minute tethered hot air balloon ride for a spectacular view of Angkor Wat, plus welcome drink at McDermott Gallery and dinner at the Foreign Correspondents Club.

The entire 2010 – 2011Vietnam programme features 14 tour options, and ventures also into neighbouring Laos and Cambodia, as well as offering options for independent travellers. The 37-page brochure is available through travel agents. For more information about holiday options offered by Helen Wong's Tours please visit

Monday, 8 March 2010

Cunard announces QM2 Australian circumnavigation

Carnival Australia has just announced that Cunard's Queen Mary 2 will make Australia her "home away from home" in 2012 with a world first 'Royal Circumnavigation' to depart from Sydney on 14 Feb 2012.

The voyage will see QM2 return to Sydney, Fremantle, Adelaide and the Whitsundays, as well as making maiden calls at Cairns, Melbourne, Darwin and Brisbane.

Fares for the voyage will be available ex Sydney, Fremantle and Adelaide, with Carnival Australia ceo Ann Sherry saying that it will deliver an "economic windfall" for Australia.

More information in today's Travel Daily and tomorrow's Cruise Weekly.

Norfolk Island Turns It on for Fun-lovin’ Red Hatters


If you're a semi-retired Mum or Gran and like an hilarious time, then Norfolk Island is the place to be from May 8 - 15 for the island's annual Red Hat Society Fun Week.

Red Hat Society members are 50s-something women who meet for parties, exciting outings and a lot of fun wearing a frivolous red hat and purple attire.

The society was founded by Californian artist Sue Ellen Cooper as a social networking group just 11 years ago but already numbers more than 1.5m members in 30 countries, including in Australia and New Zealand.

Women younger than 50 are also welcome, but they must don pink hats with lavender attire and possess a fun-loving streak. Look-at-me accessories like a red feather boa are encouraged.

The leader of the local Red Hat chapter is known as the Queen, and members refer to each other as Red Hatters. Events vary from chapter to chapter, but most Red Hatters favor attending parties, fun outings and get-togethers for any reason!.
A Champagne Beach Party, Themed-up Dinner, and a Night as a Convict and much more have been planned by the Norfolk Island Fun Week hosts, with local Queen Shirley Henderson promising some absolutely zany and hilarious activities entirely in keeping with the Red Hat character.
"Our main focus is to have fun and enjoy ourselves, or in the words of our society theme song: "All my life, I've done for you. Now it's my turn to do for me', "Queen Shirley said.
If you would like to up-lift your spirits you are invited to come along and join in, even if you are not yet a Red Hatter (it costs nothing to join, & there are no rules!)
Laughter is the best medicine, & what better way could there be to brush away the recession blues?!
The Norfolk Island Travel Centre is offering a spec ial package for Red Hatter Australians & New Zealanders wanting to take part in The Fun Week. Costs are from $1319 per person ex Brisbane, $1375 per person ex Sydney and $1639 per person ex Melbourne and include return airfares, taxes including Norfolk departure tax, seven nights twin share accommodation in the All Seasons Colonial Hotel including daily breakfast, return airport transfers on Norfolk Island, meet and greet at Norfolk Island Airport and a half-day island tour.
A registration fee of $235 includes a special Red Hatters welcome bag entry to the Welcome dinner & Champagne Beach Party, a Night as a Convict, & lots of extras. For information or to book freecall 1800 1400 66 of email
About The Travel Centre Norfolk Island
The Travel Centre is the event specialist with over 30 years' experience in the Travel Industry.

Thursday, 4 March 2010


On the Esplanade, Fremantle – weekend of 13/14 March, 2010

It’s now just days away… the relocated, rebranded, bigger Chilli Festival and the excitement is reaching fever pitch.

The popularity of this iconic award-winning event has seen it outgrow its original home at Araluen Botanic Park, Roleystone. Now relocated at the Esplanade, Fremantle, the bigger ‘Araluen’s Fremantle Chilli Festival’ presented by ‘Go for 2 & 5’ will be held on the weekend of 13th & 14th March. Opening times are… Saturday, 12noon – 8pm and Sunday, 10am – 5pm.

“The Chilli Festival event has grown enormously in popularity since inception due to its unique character and culture of sensational taste treats, infectious vibrant entertainment, plants, produce, demonstrations and reputation for great value. These elements contributed to it taking out Gold at the 2007 WA Tourism Awards (Festivals & Events) and being a finalist in 2008 and 2009”, says Park general manager Rod Ross.

“The move to Fremantle facilitates an expansion of the theme and offer visitors greater accessibility options. The proximity of public transport plus the day-of-entry festival pass-out availability will allow patrons the opportunity to explore and experience all that this great port city offers, “ he adds.

Here’s a reminder of what’s on offer:

* Almost 80 stallholders offering a diverse range of chilli plants, foods, beverages (including exotic beers, wines and spirits), tastings, products and information.

+ Some 75 chilli plant varieties on display (including three of the world’s hottest)

* Non-stop vibrant entertainment all weekend on the centre stage and roving.
* Family-friendly ‘Carnival’ atmosphere
* Demonstration Centre operating all weekend with Celebrity Chef, Dale Sniffen, conducting Chilli cooking demonstrations interspersed with taste tests and other novelty segments. He’ll be supported by contributions from media personalities, including John Colwill and Jillian O’Shaunessy.
* Non-Chilli lovers will also be well catered for. Most stallholders also offer mild and non-chilli or products.
* SmokeFree Event

“We have been made to feel very welcome in the Port City through the excellent support of the City of Fremantle and the vibrant local business community, both of which are introducing initiatives to leverage off the ‘Chilli’ theme over the festival weekend. These include the Esplanade Hotel, Menu Magazine, Fishing Boat Harbour Traders Association, Fremantle Markets, Myer, Bendigo Bank, Fremantle Prison, Kulcha, Fremantle Visitor Centre and Quest Harbour Village. We expect that this festival will provide mutual benefits for all the stakeholders.”

“The Araluen Botanic Park Foundation sees this event as an excellent fundraising and promotional opportunity to assist its important cause at Araluen Botanic Park. Patrons are encouraged to retain their entry ticket to take advantage of a half-price entry offer to Araluen where the ‘chilli’ theme will continue into April with a wide variety of fruiting chilli plants on display.”

“We are delighted to acknowledge that this event is proudly sponsored by Healthway to promote the Go for 2&5 message. For the health and comfort of others both this event and Araluen Botanic Park are Smoke Free venues.’

Major media exposure includes The West Australian (4-page lift-out appears on 11 March), 720 ABC Perth (interviews and announcements), Menu Magazine (full page ad), Fremantle Gazette (‘Find Yourself in Fremantle’ feature plus support advertising) plus extensive flag, banner, poster, flyer as well as other niche activity. Competitions are running simultaneously in the West and on 720 ABC Perth. A ‘Smart Car’ promotion will run in strategic locations on Saturday 13 March.

The 2010 Araluen’s Fremantle Chilli Festival entry prices continue the tradition of offering great value at just:

Adults $15 / Child (5-15) $8 / Family $40 (includes 2 Adults and up to 6 Children)

To avoid queuing, intending visitors are encouraged to pre-book tickets by phoning 9496 1171.

Like to learn more? Simply phone 9496 1171 or visit the website –

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Faraway Bay's Kimberley Art Camp set for May

Faraway Bay, The Bush Camp is staging its Kimberley Art Camp, May 1-5, 2010.

The Art Camp provides guests with a unique opportunity to improve their art skills and be inspired by the pristine Kimberley wilderness.

Led by renowned Broome-based artist Ingrid Windram, the Art Camp is designed for people at all levels of artistic endeavour.

"It's about creating an art atmosphere and immersing guests in the Kimberley environment," said Ms Windram.

"The landscape is absolutely amazing – just to stand there and be surrounded by the colours of the remote Kimberley is inspiring."

Faraway Bay owner Robyn Ellison said the Art Camp would appeal to anyone who's interested in art as a hobby, or those who are more advanced.

"We'll be supplying basic equipment, water-colours and charcoals; and Ingrid will be on hand to encourage, motivate and inspire," said Mrs Ellison.

The Art Camp will involve guided field trips and bush walks into the area surrounding Faraway Bay, as well as informal lessons in the open-air Eagle Lodge.

Perched on a headland overlooking the tranquil waters of Faraway Bay, Eagle Lodge is a spectacular setting which combines lounging, croc-spotting and day dreaming, all in one dramatic location.

Best known for her art works depicting the Kimberley region, Ingrid is one of Australia's most prolific and successful modern artists with her paintings represented in many corporate and private collections here and overseas.

From her galleries and studios in Broome and Perth, Ingrid has created a huge body of work, most of which depicts the Kimberley.

The Art Camp program offers a fantastic combination of activity and relaxation.  The laid back and informal flavour allows guests to be as hands on as they please.  There's also plenty of time for excursions and activities including boating to the magnificent twin falls on the King George River, fishing and exploring ancient rock art.

The Kimberley Art Camp consists of a four-day all-inclusive experience for 12 guests.  The package covers air transfers from Kununurra, the Art Camp and all activities, as well as meals and beverages.

Prices start from $4,550 per person and places are strictly limited. For more information about this most unique experience, contact Faraway Bay ph 08 9169 1214 email

Monday, 1 March 2010

Vivid Sydney 2010

Vivid Sydney (27 May-21 June), our festival of light, music and ideas returns this year, once again featuring the spectacular illumination of the Sydney Opera House sails.

The festival celebrates Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific with large scale light installations and projections; music performances and collaborations; creative ideas, discussion and debate.

Sydney Opera House will be the focal point of Vivid Sydney with the lighting of the sails and Vivid LIVE - a music festival with a difference, curated by an internationally renowned artist. The Vivid Sydney program also includes Macquarie Visions, Fire Water, Creative Sydney, X Media Lab and Song Summit.

Vivid Sydney is one of five anchor events on the NSW Master Events Calendar developed by the NSW Government through Events NSW.

What: Vivid Sydney
When: 27 May-21 June 2010
Where: Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay and across the city centre.

Add a spring to your step ..Enchanting Easter family rate at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London has launched its Easter Family Rate offering a complimentary adjoining bedroom for children from just GBP 375 for the Easter weekend, including breakfast and Easter treats.

Situated in fashionable Knightsbridge and on the very edge of Hyde Park, the hotel provides the perfect location for both parents and children alike. Covering 142 hectares, Hyde Park offers a range of leisure activities including tennis, horse riding, boating, roller-skating, wildlife watching and immaculately maintained playgrounds. Equally the hotel is centrally positioned for all the cultural attractions of Mayfair and the West End, and the Capital’s finest shopping.

Those looking to hide away from the busy metropolis need never leave the hotel. Swathed in a rich and sumptuous blend of satins and silks, each room is beautifully prepared with Irish linen bed sheets and goose-down pillows and offers the latest in technology including flat screen Bang & Olufsen TVs and iHome docking stations. For the ultimate in relaxation, The Spa at Mandarin Oriental offers treatments where East and West blend in perfect harmony and the stylish Mandarin Bar serves cocktails accompanied by live jazz.

With glorious springtime views across Hyde Park, guests can enjoy the spacious surroundings whilst indulging in a special Easter Afternoon Tea or an Easter Sunday Lunch in The Park restaurant. And a colourful afternoon Easter Egg Hunt for our younger guests amongst the flowery terrace, including a delicious chocolate egg prize, is sure to satisfy even the most demanding of young palates.

Terms and conditions:
The Easter Family Rate is priced from GBP375.00 + VAT, and includes:
-Accommodation in two interconnecting rooms for a family with children
-Full English breakfast in The Park restaurant
-A bottle of iced champagne for parents
-An in-room Easter Treat for children
-Participation in a colourful Easter Egg Hunt on the terrace (Saturday 03 and Sunday 04 April at 3.30pm only)

Based on double occupancy in two rooms, the Easter Family Rate excludes 17.5% VAT and 5% discretionary service charge. Children must be under 12 years of age. The rate is available from Friday 02 April to Monday 05 April inclusive, subject to availability. For reservations please contact Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park directly on +44 (0) 20 7235 2000 or refer to the on-line reservations service at

Central Park NZ Action and Adventure

For the first time there is now one holiday destination that combines all the very best in action and adventure that New Zealand has to offer. Collectively known as Central Park, seven regional tourism offices have launched a new brand under their own banner to market one of the most spectacular regions of New Zealand.

Central Park is a collaborative effort that brings together Rotorua, Waitomo, Lake Taupo, Ruapehu, Hawke’s Bay, the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel. All are in the central North Island and within short driving distances of each other and all are richly diverse, unique special regions that together create the magic of Central Park.

Mountain Biking
Clip in your pedals and check out some of Central Park’s sensational bike trails. Mountain bikes are designed to take you across inhospitable terrain no matter what the weather forecast predicts on a mountain or forest trail, over boulders, tree roots, or whatever else nature throws at you. In a region blessed with spectacular scenery, mountain bike enthusiasts can choose from the rugged Coromandel Ranges or Eskdale Mountain bike park in Hawke’s Bay, to the shores of Lake Taupo, or bike into the primeval Whakarewarewa forests surrounding Rotorua and even across the slopes and forests around Mt Ruapehu.

River Rafting
Thousands of people every year take rafting trips on our waters in the North Island on some sensational world class rivers. From Grade 2 to Grade 5, the Central Park region caters to all-comers. The Kaituna River is famous for the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. The Okere Falls at seven metres offers an unparalleled rafting challenge. The Mohaka River and Motu River’s 100km course are both superb wilderness-rafting trips with some amazing scenery along the way and a good mix of Grade 3-5 rapids. The Nagarururo River offers top quality two to seven day rafting and the Rangitikei, the Rangitaiki, the Togariro and the Wairoa rivers also offer up plenty of fun. It’s a crazy sport and one where you’ll have to roll with the waves no matter what happens, so learn to go with the flow and have fun, it’s what river rafting is all about. Note: These same rivers are also ideal for kayaking too.

Abseiling, Canyoning and Caving
All these three topics are related in more ways than one. Inevitably if you go canyoning in New Zealand you’ll need to know some basic methods of abseiling, luckily most companies that arrange such trips teach it to you in no time at all – then all you need to do is overcome your fear of heights. The same thing applies to caving as many times you will abseil down into a cave to start off your adventure. The only real difference is that canyoning and abseiling can be practiced above ground and in a short time and in a safe environment. Caving as the name implies takes place in a dark world hundreds of metres underground. Waitomo Caves is where a lot of the action happens including black-water rafting or explore the caving channels in Nuhaka, Northern Hawke’s Bay.

New Zealand’s network of public tramping tracks has been developed over many decades throughout the country but most spectacularly in Central Park. The best known is the one day Tongariro Alpine Crossing as it winds its way over the Tongariro massif and around Mt Ngauruhoe. This walk passes through unique and stunning landforms which include volcanic craters and glacial valleys. Lake Waikaremoana is another three to four day tramping track which follows the shore of the lake for most of its length. There are also fantastic day walks in the Coromandel, through Hawke’s Bay wine country, breathtaking coastal walks in the Bay of Plenty and the forests of Lake Rotorua and Lake Taupo. Discover for yourself the ‘Land, Legends & Life’ in this special part of New Zealand.

Skiing and Snowboarding
In the North Island, at Mt Ruapehu the two skifields of Turoa and Whakapapa are literally positioned on either side of a volcano. It’s safe to say there are very few places in the world where you can ski on an active volcano – certainly this is the only place in New Zealand. Mt Ruapehu is New Zealand’s largest and most developed ski region. It also allows for cross-country ski traversing as well as snowboarding and alpine skiing. Mt Ruapehu is the highest point in the North Island at 2797m and one of only three mountains in the world boasting a crater lake, surrounded by snow and ice. Whakapapa Village, Ohakune and National Park are the closest ski villages to the mountain and offer a range of accommodation, restaurants and alternative activities.

Without the invention of the Hamilton Jetboat in the 1950’s, the tourism adventure industry we associate with jetboating today would have been impossible. It was simply that propeller driven boats found it impossible to navigate many rivers in the South Island until a local Canterbury farmer named William Hamilton invented and perfected the principle of water jet propulsion in a propellerless boat. Today jetboats operate on the Kaituna, Motu, and Waikato Wanganui Rivers. In some cases operators offer more than just the thrill-a-minute aspect of the trip, and include additional attractions such as hiking into geo-thermal areas as well as explaining the cultural and natural history of the region. So hold on tight because this adventure sport has something for everyone.

Tandem Sky Diving
Overcome your fears, feel the adrenalin rush and discover what skydiving is all about. Skydiving will always be edgy, adrenalin fuelled and a personally challenging adventure. Here in Central Park there are multiple opportunities to tandem skydive from Tauranga, Lake Taupo, Lake Rotorua and Hawke’s Bay, where adventure junkies strap themselves to an instructor for the once-in-a-lifetime leap of faith. You can choose jumps from 2,700m to as high as 4,500m descending at 200km an hour before gently drifting back to earth with views of the towering summit of Mt Ruapehu and Tongariro National Park.

Coastal Water Sports
For action and adventure on the sea you can expect a plethora of activities to keep you occupied for a week or two. To name a host of blue water options try deep sea game fishing, sailing, diving, swimming with dolphins, jet skiing, kayak fishing, sea kayaking, kitesurfing, windsurfing and surfing. Sea kayaking on the other hand is today an incredibly popular outdoor activity and one in which the whole family can get involved with, as double kayaks offer the chance for family bonding. So if you are the kind of person looking to ride the crest of a wave or dive on underwater wrecks, then get your feet wet and dip into the coastlines of the Central Park region.

Helicopter Rides
This is where the options are as varied as there are activities and adventures. Combos that include a helicopter are a way to get both an adrenaline high and a work-out in natural environments where scenery and wilderness are pristine. Try heli-biking, heli-hiking, heli-rafting, heli-skiing, even a helicopter flight to White Island or simply heli-fish in wilderness lakes and rivers where the trout are gigantic. There are other options to consider such as a helicopter ride onto a crater rim with the opportunity to hike inside and then mountain bike back down the mountain. Whatever option you take the scenery of Central Park will blow you away.

Bungy Jumping
AJ Hackett, along with his pioneering co-founder Henry van Asch is credited with turning bungy jumping into a distinctly New Zealand tourism icon. In fact the bungy phenomenon acted as a catalyst for the creation of New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry. Bungy jumping nowadays is one of the most popular adventure thrill seeking sports around the world, an ‘elastic fantastic’ attached to suspension bridges, dams, platforms, cranes, buildings and towers. The primary sites in Central Park are in the towns of Taupo and Rotorua and out at Mokai Canyon in the Manawatu.

Whether it’s an adventure camping holiday you’ve always wanted to experience, maybe the chance to ski a volcano, mountain bike a forest, bungy jump into a canyon, white water kayak or hike the world famous Tongariro Crossing or maybe even trout fish in world class lakes or rivers, Central Park offers it all in one region.

And now it is all on your doorstep with direct flights from Sydney to Rotorua, the gateway to Central Park. Air New Zealand operates twice weekly services on Saturdays and Tuesdays.

WIN an Adventure Package which includes airfares direct from Sydney, 4 nights accommodation in Central Park, rental car hire and heaps of action packed activities! Enter your details on our Win a Holiday page to stay up-to-date with latest activities and events and exclusive offers and you’ll go in the draw to win a trip for two to immerse yourself in New Zealand’s newest playground - Central Park. For more information visit

Relax & Renew at Aqua Spa, Shoal Bay Resort & Spa

A rhythmic upper body massage perfectly partnered with a purifying facial plus extra bonuses for only $99*? Yes that’s right! Aqua Spa at Shoal Bay Resort & Spa has a fantastic ‘Relax & Renew’ pamper package with added bonuses that delivers an affordable, value for money beauty treatment.

For only $99* your March Pamper Package includes:
 Relaxing rhythmic upper body massage (30min)
 Renewing purifying facial
 Bonus hair masque
 Bonus scalp massage
 Bonus soak in the mineral spa pools
 Bonus use of the indoor lap pool
 Bonus use of fully equipped gymnasium

Our exclusive Aqua Spa facilities and holistic approach towards providing luxurious treatments and pamper packages has resulted in Shoal Bay Resort & Spa being recognised as the winner for the Hunter Tourism Awards of Excellence 2009 in the category of “Health & Wellbeing Tourism”. Shoal Bay Resort & Spa delivers the perfect retreat for spa guests, offering everything needed to re-energise mind, body and spirit.

Aqua Spa’s unique mineral spas have tapped into the pristine salt waters of Shoal Bay and the mineral rich waters of the surrounding sand beds to offer treatments with the elements necessary for life - water, oxygen and light. Featuring three spa pools filled with locally sourced salt water and mineral water filtered from the sand beds beneath the building, the Aqua Spa is modelled on facilities normally found only in Europe

The Aqua Spa’s philosophy toward treatment is reiterated with the use of LI’TYA spa care products. LI’TYA is a unique high performance range of natural spa care products that integrate precious qualities of the Australian earth and spirit. LI’TYA combines ancient indigenous medicines and massage techniques with aromatherapy and herbalist principles. All LI’TYA products utilise naturally active ingredients derived from Australian flora, earth, sea minerals and plants.

The decadent, award winning Aqua Day Spa at Shoal Bay Resort & Spa is Port Stephens’ ultimate luxury day spa with unique aqua therapies, wellbeing pamper packages and holistic treatments incorporating the range of stunning products from LI’TYA – Spa Care from the Australian Dreamtime which are designed to relax your mind, refresh your body and rejuvenate your spirit.

Aqua Spa’s unique wellbeing pamper packages combined with our famed mineral spa pools are the ultimate holistic treatment for detoxifying, cleansing and revitalising delivered by the Hunter’s leading Health & Wellbeing Spa.

For bookings call the Aqua Spa on 02 4984 8194 or visit our website

Shoal Bay Resort & Spa. Modern Luxury. Unspoilt Paradise.

Terms & Conditions Apply* .
Valid until March 31, 2010. Available on midweek bookings only (Mon- Fri). Aqua Spa guests must be 16 years and over to utilise facilities (persons 16-18 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian).

EscapeTo Melbourne This Easter

Escape to Melbourne this Easter with these Hot Deals from Oaks Hotels and Resorts.

Oaks on Lonsdale
Oaks on Lonsdale is located in one of Melbourne’s hippest shopping and entertainment precincts offering generously appointed studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchen facilities and balconies (apartments only).

• Easter Special - 2 Bedroom Family Package plus hot cross buns on arrival - $249 per night*

*Minimum 2 night stay

Oaks on Market
Oaks on Market is centrally located, offering easy access to Melbourne’s attractions: shopping, theatres, dining and entertainment, the recently refurbished property comprises of 280 luxuriously appointed Studio, 1 and 2 bedroom fully self-contained apartments.

• Easter Special - 2 Adults + 2 Kids in a 2 Bedroom Apartment. Breakfast for 2 plus kids eat free including hot cross buns on arrival - $269 per night*
• Easter Special - Studio Room plus Breakfast for 2 with drink voucher and hot cross buns on arrival - $169 per night*

*Minimum 2 night stay

Oaks On Collins
Situated in the heart of Melbourne Oaks on Collins offers chic, New York-style apartment accommodation consisting of superbly-appointed self-contained studios.

• Easter Special - Studio package includes upgrade to Exec plus Breakfast for 2, drink voucher and hot cross buns on arrival - $169 per night*

*Minimum 2 night stay

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