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Friday, 30 September 2011

Museum Full Steam Ahead With Free Re-Opening Weekend

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Arts Minister Rachel Nolan announced that The Workshops Rail Museum has re-opened with free entry for the weekend 1 & 2 October after its temporary closure.

"It's fantastic to see the Museum open its doors again and get back to doing what they do best," Ms Nolan said.

"The Museum has been closed since a fire on an adjacent property on Monday night, 26 September. The Museum was not damaged in the fire but was without power since the incident.

"I think everyone in the community held their breath when it was first feared the Museum was in danger because it's such an important part of Ipswich.

"Throughout the temporary closure the Museum and Collection was safe as staff worked to restore power to the multi-award winning tourist attraction.

"This re-opening weekend is also the last chance for visitors to participate in the school holiday event, The Great Train Robbery, so there will be plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy."

Director of The Workshops Rail Museum Andrew Moritz said staff were overwhelmed by the messages of support by the community for the Museum and the historic Ipswich Railway Workshops site.

"Our free Re-Opening Weekend is our way of saying thank you to the community for their support and kind wishes this week and it's also a great way to get the message out that we're open again," Mr Moritz said.

The Museum is currently powered by a generator and is operating as per normal. In order to restore mains power a specialised part is required which is expected to take a week or two. In the meantime the Museum will continue to operate as per normal off the generator.

The Workshops Rail Museum has won two Australian Tourism Awards and four Queensland Tourism Awards, recognising the Ipswich attraction for excellence in Heritage & Cultural Tourism.

For more information about the re-opening weekend event and The Workshops Rail Museum, please visit www.theworkshops.qm.qld.gov.au or call (07) 3432 5100.

AIR AUSTRAL INTRODUCES EARLYBIRD FARES FROM AUSTRALIA TO FRANCE


Air Austral, the French airline based on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, has introduced earlybird fares from four Australian cities to six destinations in France. 

Effective  immediately, until 30 November, the airline is offering return Economy Class fares from just AUD $1,759.00, including taxes, from Sydney to Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes. 

The airline is also offering fares from AUD$2021, including taxes from Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide to the six French cities, joining the Air Austral flight in Sydney. Fares and taxes are correct as of 29 September, 2011, and are subject to currency fluctuations. 

The earlybird fares are available for travel from 01 October until 30 November, 2011, and again from 18 January until 19 June, 2012. Domestic connections in Australia are with Virgin Australia. 

Air Austral flies every Tuesday and Saturday from Sydney to Reunion – 130 kilometres south-west of Mauritius – before continuing to France.  

The airline operates three-class Boeing 777 aircraft, with Video on Demand in all classes, offering 25 movies, documentaries, popular TV programmes and cartoons as well as approximately 100 music channels and 16 games. 

The earlybird fares are available through travel agents, or by calling Air Austral reservations in Australia on 1300 306 365. Seats are limited at earlybird fare levels and some conditions apply. 

In Australia, Air Austral is represented by World Aviation Systems.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

SOUTH KOREA SET TO WOO AUSSIE SKIERS THIS WINTER

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South Korea is set to entice as many Australian skiers and snowboarders as possible to its slopes this coming northern winter with extensive online and a NatGeo TV campaign set to begin in early October.

Australian skiers looking to ski in our off season will be able to find excellent new ski package deals available from the major outbound ski tour operators such as Skimax, Adventure World, JTB Travel and Hana Tours.

Korean ski resorts have been attracting Asian visitors for many years but the resorts are now keen to promote themselves to Australian and other international skiers.  With the recent win by Korea to host the 2018 Winter Olympics it is expected that interest in Korea's ski resorts will boom over the next few years and Korea's profile as a great winter destination will become more widely known.

Pyeongchang, the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea is referred to as the Alps of Korea and is a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts.  Set in the beautiful natural environment of Odaesan National Park – the resorts of Phoenix Park, Yongpyong (Dragon Valley) and Alpensia will provide the main venues for skiing and snowboarding events at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

But Australians don't need to wait until 2018 to enjoy some great powder skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of eastern Korea.  The great thing about skiing in Asia for many skiers is the shorter flight times compared to Europe and the USA.  Korea is less than nine hours flight from Brisbane and less than ten hours from Sydney. 

Yongpyong is one of the most popular resorts for international skiers due to the height of the mountains (up to 1,500metres above sea level), the number of slopes and also for the recently added Dragon Park – a theme park with half pipe, quarter pipe, ramp, table top, spine, washboard, rail slider, mogul and wave.  Yongpyong also hosts the Fun Ski and Snow Festival every year giving visitors a great opportunity to join in the festival fun and compete against other international skiers and snowboarders.

Yongpyong also has a world class year round water park called Peak Island. In Korea's first alpine style mountain villa and surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Yongpyong it's 'water fun' for all the family off the slopes.

For more information on the latest 'hot deal ski packages' for Korea, check out the following websites for great value packages to Yongpyong Resort and plan your ski adventure in Korea today.  For general travel information on Korea visit the official travel website www.visitkorea.or.kr and download your free ebook to 'Winter in Korea' today.

Skimax – .www.skimax.com.au - Phone:  1300 136 997

Adventure World – www.adventureworld.com.au –  Phone:  1300 295 049

JTB Travel – www.jtbtravel.com.au - Phone:  1300 739 330

Hana Tours – Phone:  www.hanatour.com.au - Phone:  1300 722 322

 



Christmas feast Masterclass at Peppers

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Learn the trick to the ultimate Christmas feast with a Masterclass at Peppers

No more will turkey instil fear at Christmas. The bird and the stuffing will be wonders thanks to a creative Masterclass at Peppers Anchorage on the waters edge in Port Stephens.

Held on November 12 for $150* per person including a late lunch, the MasterChef Perfect Christmas Fare Masterclass will develop cooking skills under the guidance of the experienced team of chefs at Merretts Restaurant at Peppers Anchorage.

Beginning at 11am, learn the tricks to the perfect turkey complete with stuffing, the best method of dressing ham and cooking the Australian Christmas all-time favourite of sensational seafood, followed by a sit-down session to experience your own creation, accompanied by fine house wines and domestic beers.

And it wouldn't be Christmas without gifts! Also included in your Masterclass package is your own highly prized MasterChef apron and Christmas inspired recipes, handpicked by Merretts Chefs.

Join Peppers Anchorage for the Masterclass and stay for a relaxed escape in scenic Port Stephens from $175* per night.

Experience MasterChef with Peppers by calling 02 4984 2555 or emailing anchorage@peppers.com.au

*Subject to availability. Valid until 22 December, 2011.


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

CHINA OPENS ITS DOORS TO AUSSIE SKIERS

50% off 2nd adult's booking 
  
September 27, 2011: Club Med's Yabuli ski resort in China is offering a sensational half price deal for the 2nd adult when booking an all-inclusive 5 night package to the chic mountain ski resort in Heilongjiang Province, north eastern China.

"Australians are now seeking new ski fields with reliable snow, and travel and cultural experiences to complement great powder, and they are turning to China as a new destination, often teaming the snow with the city - either the bright lights of Shanghai, the history of Beijing or the winter ice festival and its activities of Harbin," according to Quentin Briard, General Manager for Club Med Australia.

The Resort offers 18 ski runs including 5 newly-opened blue slopes for intermediate skiers. The Resort is also equipped with the first new magic carpet at the top of the mountain, which enables even beginners to ski at the top of the mountain, overlooking the spectacular view of the mountains.

This stress free all-inclusive premium package includes everything from ski passes and ski school for all ages from 4 years upwards with highly qualified instructors, and the highest quality ski equipment, to children's club facilities. It also takes care of transfers and accommodation

Club Med is renowned for its fine cuisine created by its team of talented chefs. There are three restaurants -- the Apple Garden serves an international buffet with a wide regional menu (Shanghai, Beijing, Cantonese, Sichuan and Heilongjiang cuisine on rotation); Mudan, offers hotpot specialities and light supper, while Bianco brings western specialties. Throughout the day, guests can also enjoy the 'Open Bar & Snacking' at the Forest Bar, which offers unlimited complimentary soft drinks, fruit juices, spirits, cocktails, wine and snacks, as and when they like.

Apres-ski there's activities aplenty too. A heated swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, yoga, aerobics, indoor flying trapeze, bungee bounce, billiards and karaoke rooms offer great choices. Guests can also enjoy horse sled*, dog sled*, Alpine slide* and snow tubing facilities*. Starting from Dec 2011, advanced level guests can also ski in the Heilongjiang Provincial Sports Bureau Yabuli ski field*. The newly introduced excursion to the China Tiger zoo*and the Harbin Ice Sculpture Festival* which begins on Jan 5, 2012, are a must-see too.

Take a cultural adventure to China's far north-east and experience the best of Asia's winter, sensational ski fields and icy winter fun, along with Club Med's famous hospitality and prices that don't bust the budget.  *At extra charge

Adults from $1300 for the first adult, and $750 for the 2nd adult (twin share, and children 4-11 from $580 for 5 night stay.

For sale only until October 30th 2011, and for travel between 28/01/12- 27/02/12

Choose to upgrade to a deluxe room or suite at extra cost. Prices are for land only, and include transfers from Harbin to Yabuli, and Club Med membership, but do not include airfares in price.

This ski season, Club Med Yabuli opens Nov 19, 2011 to April 1, 2012

To book please visit your preferred travel agent, call Club Med on 1800 258 263, or go to www.clubmed.com.au

Fiji Rugby and Resort Deals


Enjoy the Rugby, Sights and Sun of the Coral Coast With Amazing Rugby and Resort Deals


Fiji's beautiful Coral Coast is not only one of the most popular tourist destinations in Fiji but home to the Coral Coast Seven's tournament which is on again this year from November 18-19 and with Coral Coast resorts offering special rugby and accommodation deals, rugby lovers can combine a weekend of sevens with a fantastic Fijian holiday.

This year's Coral Coast Sevens tournament promises to be the biggest yet. Not only is Australian Rugby legend David Campese the tournament ambassador, but 24 premier teams including 16 local teams and for the first time two Australian and four New Zealand teams are entering the competition and battling it out for the major prize money of $30,000.

Watching the Australian teams in the exciting and fast-paced Rugby Sevens is one thing but you can't visit Fiji's Coral Coast without experiencing all the wonderful things it has to offer.

From staying in amazing resorts like the 5 star Outrigger on the Lagoon, the Shangri-La Fijian Resort and Spa, the Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa, and Fiji Hideaway Resort and Spa to cultural tours and activities like the Sigatoka River Safari, Kula Eco Park, Diveaway Fiji, Natadola Bay Golf Course and Robinson Crusoe Island, the Coral Coast has everything anyone could want on a holiday.

With a range of rugby accommodation deals available at Coral Coast resorts anyone coming to Fiji for the Rugby Sevens can stay and play on the Coral Coast for longer.

The Outrigger on the Lagoon is offering a special Sevens Rugby package priced from only AUD$1295 per person including return international airfares flying Air Pacific, all airfare taxes, return transfers in Fiji, seven nights in a Superior Resort View Room, entry tickets to Rugby 7's Outrigger Marquee including transfers for both days for two people per room/bure and two free nights accommodation.

The Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa is offering four nights Mountain view accommodation for a maximum of two adults and two kids 13 years and under, return airport private car transfers, welcome drink on arrival, free full buffet breakfast daily, complimentary return transfers, tickets and Warwick supporter's T-Shirts to Fiji's Coral Coast 7's, complimentary kids club membership daily and 2pm late check-out from only AUD$899 per room.

The Outrigger's Sevens package is on sale until 15 October 2011 and is valid for travel until from 1 November to 30 November 2011. For bookings contact Specialist Holidays on T: 131381 Toll Free from anywhere in AU

The Warwick Fiji Resort and Spa Sevens package is on sale until 31 October 2011. For bookings contact saleswkfj@warwickhotels.com

For tickets and enquiries please contact Jay Whyte on +679 929 7337 or sevenspassion@gmail.com


The Byron at Byron Takes Adventure to the Extreme

Byron Bay has long been the destination for adrenalin junkies and adventure enthusiasts. Boasting a spectacular environment, Byron Bay offers everything from the world's best surfing, to spectacular  sky diving to some of the country's most beautiful national parks perfect for four wheel driving and wildlife watching. The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa set within 45 acres of sub tropical rainforest is the perfect launch pad to discover your wild side and embark on a Northern New South Wales adventure that will never be forgotten.

Be a Byron Local Package www.thebyronatbyron.com.au 
Choose your adventure... this package includes three nights accommodation in a Superior Suite, full buffet breakfast daily and a choice of two of the following activities per person - a private surf lesson, 90 minute remedial massage in The Spa and Wellness Centre, Ocean Kayaking with the dolphins and lunch at The Beach Café, a private rainforest yoga or meditation session or a hinterland eco tour of the Byron region.
Cost $1,750 per package (for two adults)
Valid for sale and travel until 15 December 2011
Bookings 1300 554 362

Learn to Surf with Black Dog Surfing www.blackdogsurfing.com
Black Dog Surf School is one of a few privileged surf schools that are licensed to teach on the beautiful beaches of Byron Bay. Owner Dean Johnson has decades of experience and a history of competing and judging and an extensive knowledge of the local conditions. Black Dog organises lessons based on the current conditions, swell size, and directions and tides and wind. Guests can choose from a range of packages for all ages and levels.
Bookings 02 6680 9828

Skydiving with Skydive Byron Bay www.skydivebyronbay.com
See Australia's most spectacular coastal views from 14,000 feet, when skydiving above Australia's most Eastern point in Byron Bay. Skydive uses the latest technologies to maintain an excellent safety record allowing daredevils to share their experience with family and friends in the large and roomy turbine aircraft.  Book a tandem skydive now for an adrenaline pumping experience of a lifetime.
Bookings 1800 800 840

Golf The Byron Bay Golf Club www.byronbaygolfclub.com.au
Take the opportunity to enjoy a round at the beautiful Byron Bay Golf Club, tee times can be accommodated 7 days a week and cater for golf groups of all sizes. The Byron Bay Golf Club and course is located approximately 5 km south of the CBD. It is situated on Broken Head Road, opposite the Byron at Byron Resort and Spa. The club boasts a popular restaurant offering spectacular views across the golf course and to the lighthouse.
Bookings 02 6685 6977

Stand up paddle boarding www.rubbersoulboardridingco.com  
Stand up paddle boarding is fun, easy and a gentle way to exercise the whole body. With personalised instruction visitors will have be up and paddling in minutes. Glide across the beautiful north coast waterways while taking in an array of bird and marine life - truly an amazing experience! All ages and levels of fitness welcome.
Rubbersoul Board Riding Co 0437 038 509

Whale Watching Byron Bay www.byronbaywhalewatching.com.au
See and learn about the beautiful Humpback Whales as they migrate north and then return with their young. Whale watching season runs from May - October each year with tours beginning in June. This three hour experience offers insight and interpretation from some of Australia's leading whale researchers.
Bookings 1800 243 483

Night Vision Walks www.visionwalks.com 
Vision Walks provide eco tours in the Byron Bay area that allow visitors to connect with the natural environment, far from the maddening crowds, no matter what age or ability. The tours allow participants to see amazing wildlife in their natural habitat, whilst experiencing rainforest and waterfalls
Bookings 02 6685 0059

Dive and Snorkelling at the Byron Bay Dive Centre www.byronbaydivecentre.com.au
The Byron Bay Dive Centre is Byron Bay's leading dive and snorkel specialist. This diving facility was established over twenty years ago and strives to ensure the customers enjoy a safe, rewarding and memorable diving experience. All confined water training is conducted at the dive shop, within an instructor training facility, located in the heart of Byron Bay. There is also a fully equipped classroom and a training pool heated to 25 degrees Celsius.
Bookings 1800 243 483

Byron Bay Hot Air Ballooning www.byronbayballooning.com.au 
Experience the gentle joy and total freedom of hot air ballooning in Byron Bay.  Byron Bay Ballooning offer a complete hot air ballooning package, which includes a champagne breakfast on the day of flight. Soaring over ever changing terrain you will enjoy a bird's eye view of Byron's famous headland and beaches, the massive volcanic rim surrounding Mount Warning, and far beyond to the Great Dividing range.
Bookings 1300 889 660

Ocean kayaking with the dolphins www.goseakayakbyronbay.com.au
Get up close and personal with dolphins, whales and turtles at Byron's beautiful marine park. Owned and operated by local Surf Life Savers, Go Sea Kayak offers a range on sea kayaking tours and premium packages. Enjoy free snorkelling, Byron's landscape, stunning views of the light house and socialising over morning tea.
Bookings 0416 222 344

The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa
77 - 97 Broken Head Road, Byron Bay NSW Australia
+61 2 6639 2000
www.thebyronatbyron.com.au


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Darling Quarter Now Open: A must see family destination for the school holidays

vcsPRAsset_519545_104833_0af7c7b8-8920-4801-b094-9fad18493ae0_0.jpgSydney's most exciting interactive playground and dining precinct at Darling Quarter in Darling Harbour officially opened on Saturday 24 September, completing the newest hub of fun, food and entertainment in Sydney's CBD fringe. The $500m precinct includes extensive public amenity, a vibrant retail food precinct with a range of dining options; a world-class family playground, one of Sydney's largest covering more than 4,000 square metres; a community green; children's theatre and 600 bay public carpark.

Darling Quarter Playground is one of the world's first large-scale play areas of its kind and has something for everyone. A highlight is the explorative play equipment and the never before seen in Australia water play features. Toddlers to teenagers will be entertained by water pumps, a giant scooping wheel, small water locks, switches and water jets customised to work together for the ultimate 'water play' experience.

Sydney's newest destination for the school holidays

During the first week of the school holidays, one of Australia's leading bubble artists will perform daily by the playground, amazing children with magical bubble sculptures and enormous bubble shapes. Children will also get the chance to join in the bubble blowing. In week two of the school holidays, innovative theatre group, Aerialize, will demonstrate some of their awe-inspiring circus skills, dance and gymnastics and the kids get to join in too. Whether it's juggling or hula hoops, there'll be something for all ages.

For those who want to kick back and chill on the community green during the school holiday period, Friday afternoons will be graced by Solo Guitarist, Fromage a Trois. A gypsy music group will create an intimate, relaxing vibe on Sundays and roving brass act, Crusty Suitcase Band, will be opening up their eclectic kitbag of blues, afrofunk, hip hop and reggae on Saturdays.

There is direct level street access to Darling Quarter from nearby public transport points and a 600-bay public car park, so getting there is easy, while the area connects to main bike routes and contains bike racks around the base of the buildings.

All the precinct's select dining and take-away outlets are now open and offering fresh and fabulous food to visitors.  Including a mixture of Sydney operators, each individually designed café and wine bar has something for everyone. Nok of Stir Crazy Thai introduces Nok Nok Thai Eating House; Five Dock's Trovato family cool things off with Meno Diciotto gelateria while the new Guylian chocolate experience will satiate sweet tooths. Other restaurants include Braza, a Brazilian churrascaria with traditional food and drink offering; Stacks Taverna and Bar, a new Mediterranean grill concept; Sydney veteran bakery Taste; Box and Bowl, a hole in the wall fast-fusion Asian takeaway; Janus, a boutique Italian wine bar Umi Sushi & Udon urban sushi diner; bakery and French rotisserie kitchen Fat Duck Rôtissoire Kitchen; and Son of Tuysuz, serving traditional Turkish fare.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

MSC DIVINA IS AFLOAT AND READY FOR DRESSING UP!


One million hour countdown to May 2012 naming

MSC Divina, the third to the MSC Cruises’ flagship Fantasia class, was ceremoniously floated out of dry dock of the STX Europe ship yard in Saint-Nazaire, France on Saturday, September 3 and transferred to another dock for final fitting and furnishing ahead of her naming in May next year.

Representing a major milestone in the mammoth build of the new 140,000-tonne, 4363-passenger cruise ship, the special occasion was watched by a select group of guests who gathered to applaud the “12th and most magnificent of the MSC Cruses fleet”.

“It is a proud moment,” said Emilio La Scala, general manager of MSC Cruises Technical Department. “Today marks the start of the final one million hours of work devoted to meticulously applying the finishing touches to ensure our new ‘débutante’ is ready and perfectly ‘dressed up’ when she emerges for her debut ‘Grand Ball’ on 26 May 2012 in Marseille, France,” he said.

Lynne Clarke, managing director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand, echoed Mr La Scala’s remarks by saying such an addition would further highlight interest from Australia and New Zealand for an MSC Cruises holiday and the Italian flavour of the fleet.

“We forecast a rush of bookings for a cabin aboard the new flagship which will operate on a series of cruises of the Mediterranean in its first year. “It’s exciting times not only for MSC Cruises but also for cruise fans from our corner of the world.”

Seven-night cruises aboard MSC Divina begin at A$939 (NZ1229) per person, twin share. Children aged under 18 years cruise free when sharing a cabin with two parents (pay only port charges).

Named in honour of legendary screen idol and patron of the MSC Cruises fleet, Sophia Loren, MSC Divina will be appropriately themed as a divine goddess. This was hinted at the recent ceremony with the announcement that the ship’s 18 decks (13 of them for passengers) will be named after the Gods of ancient Greece, among them Urano, Afrodite, Aurora, Giunone, Artemide, Zeus, Mercurio, Cupido, Iride, Minerva, Apollo, Saturno, Elios.

There will be something decidedly transcendental about one of the most novel additions to the ship: the aft designed and decorated as a private and “heavenly upscale area” with infinity pool.

Construction of MSC Divina started over a year ago with around 50 per cent of fittings already completed. When finished the cruise ship will have 1751 cabins, 100 more than on board sister ships MSC Fantasia and MSC Splendida. Features include an expanded exclusive MSC Yacht Club where guests can relax in the Top Sail Lounge. The ship will also feature a new reverse osmosis system for fresh water production, requiring 40 percent less power and assuring less environmental impact.

Details: MSC Cruises, phone 1300 028502, www.msccruises.com.au

Thursday, 22 September 2011

NEW YORK, BERMUDA, THE AMAZON, CARIBBEAN AND MIAMI – ALL IN ONE PACKAGE


NEW York, Bermuda, the Amazon, the Caribbean and Miami – all these highly sought-after destinations in themselves, are now combined into one 29-night "must do" fly, cruise and stay package with Cruiseco in November 2012.

Guests fly from Sydney to New York for two nights at the boutique Sanctuary Hotel in the heart of Times Square, and on November 2nd 2012 cruise out aboard Oceania Cruises' luxury flagship Regatta to Bermuda's Hamilton, then Gustavia, Castries and Port of Spain in the Caribbean, and six days on the Amazon visiting Santarem, Boca Da Valeria, Manaus and Parintins.

Regatta then goes on to the once-notorious penal colony of Devil's Island off French Guiana, the Caribbean's Bridgetown, Fort De France, Virgin Gorda and San Juan, and finally Miami where there are two nights at the Grand Beach Hotel on the doorstep of the world-famous beach and its nightlife and restaurants.

Fly, Cruise & Stay prices begin from $10,260pp twin share (ocean-view stateroom) including return airfare from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane (add $360pp from Adelaide, add $725pp from Perth) all dining and entertainment during 25 nights aboard Regatta, port charges, government fees and air taxes… and through Cruiseco there's a US$400 shipboard credit per stateroom.

On sale until December 31 unless sold-out earlier. For details and the names of Cruiseco's 200 cruise-specialist travel agencies visit www.cruising.com.au

ADDITIONAL SHIPBOARD INFORMATION:  Regatta underwent a full refurbishment this year and has four open-seating restaurants, eight lounges and bars, daily afternoon High Tea at which the pastries take centre-stage, and wine and martini tastings.

There's a fitness centre and spa, pool and Jacuzzi, nightly entertainment with a full orchestra, magicians and comedians, a casino,1000-volume library, and internet centre; Regatta that's been described as "like a private country club" carries just 680-guests served by 400-crew.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Great Deals Make Vanuatu the Perfect Place for an Island Escape



With impossibly white beaches, pristine waters, and mixture of raw luxury and budget-friendly properties, Vanuatu is the perfect place to swap the bustle of daily life with island paradise. With terrific deals and savings now on offer there's never been a better time to head to Vanuatu.

Spacifica Travel is currently offering a seven night getaway to Port Vila, for only $849* per person. With savings of $440 per person, this package includes return economy flights from Brisbane to Port Vila with Air Vanuatu, seven nights for the price of four at the Coconut Palms Resort in a Superior Orchid Room, transfers, daily breakfast, a $100 meal credit per room, introductory tour of Port Vila, as well as one lunch to the value of 1,000VT per person in Port Vila. The offer is valid for travel between 28 September - 08 December 2011, and 15 January - 29 March 2012, but bookings must be made by 31 October 2011.

Boasting 83 beautiful islands, Vanuatu offers a unique blend of stunning geographic beauty, rich cultural experiences and endless soft adventure activities for couples and families alike.

Vanuatu is just a short three hour flight from Sydney, but feels like a world away. With great deals on offer there's never been a better time to take advantage of Vanuatu's year round sunshine and palm-fringed beaches.

For more information on the current deals available from Spacifica Travel go to: www.spacificatravel.com

For more information on the range of holidays on offer in Vanuatu go to www.vanuatu.travel

*Terms and conditions apply to all packages. Prices are per person twin share ex Brisbane, inclusive of pre-payable taxes and subject to availability at time of booking. Valid for sale to 31 October 2011. Black-out dates and seasonal surcharges may apply. Go to www.spacificatravel.com for more information on terms and conditions.






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Free Event: Explore Oman-Without leaving Sydney


Sydneysiders will be able to explore the unique and colourful culture of Oman without setting foot on a plane, during Oman Cultural Days which will take place from the 26-29 September at the Bayside Grand Hall in the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre.

During the free, four day event the Bayside Grand Hall will be transformed into a traditional souq or Omani market place from 10am to 6pm each day so that visitors can wander through, taking in the sights and sounds and experiencing the beauty of Omani culture.

Visitors will be able to taste Omani coffee, dates and sweets, dress up in stunning Omani fashion for a photo, try their hand at weaving textiles, get a gorgeous, traditional henna tattoo or watch the professionals building impressive dhow boats.

Stunning Omani fashion will be on parade
There will also be vivid fashion parades showcasing elaborate Omani fashion, traditional script writing demonstrations, performances from an Omani folklore band as well as a huge range of ancient artefacts, shipped all the way from Oman on display. Renowned international sand sculptor, Dennis Massoud will create enormous sand sculptures of Jabrin Fort, Nakla Fort and a Dhow boat in front of the Convention Centre and will also run sand sculpture workshops throughout the day for children.

For those who want to learn more there will be guided tours each day where friendly Omani people will share insight into their beautiful culture, history and country. Inspired visitors will also be able to enter the draw to win a trip to Oman to experience this beautiful country and people for themselves.

The event is being hosted by the Consulate General of the Sultanate of Oman, Melbourne and is designed to introduce the diversity and beauty of Omani culture to Australians.

The Consul General of the Sultanate of Oman, His Excellency Mr Hamed Al-Hajri, explains that the Oman Cultural Days are intended to be a forum for cultural exchange between Australia and Oman as well as an opportunity to showcase the reality of what Oman has to offer.

"Although Oman is a progressive, modern country, the Omani people have consciously maintained their rich cultural heritage passing the incredible art, culture, folklore and craftsmanship from one generation to the next. The event will showcase this incredible heritage and foster understanding amongst the broader Australian population" Mr Al-Hajri said.

The Oman Cultural Days will be free to attend and will take place at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour from the 26 – 29 September 2011 from 10am-6pm daily.

For more information visit www.omanculturaldays.com.au

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Best value destinations to travel to with the Australian Dollar

According to the report, Thailand is one of the
best value destinations for Australian travellers.
Dollar dazzlers:  Top 10 best-value overseas destinations for Aussie travellers revealed

The Expedia NAB Travellers' Foreign Currency Rankings* help Aussies find the best value for money in every corner of the globe

The strong Australian Dollar is driving a record increase in the number of Australians travelling abroad as more and more globe-trotting Aussies head overseas to stretch their travel dollars further.

"It's a very exciting time to be an Aussie travelling overseas because our currency is at near-record highs against, not only the US Dollar, but many of the world's major and minor currencies," Amee Evans, Marketing Manager, Expedia.com.au said.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics** figures show overseas departures at near-record highs – increasing more than 10 per cent in the seven months to July, compared with the same period last year.

To make it easy for travellers to determine where they can stretch their travel budgets farther, online travel company Expedia, has partnered with National Australia Bank, to launch the Expedia® NAB Travellers' Foreign Currency Rankings.

The Expedia NAB Travellers' Foreign Currency Rankings compares the performance of the Australian Dollar, against the world's currencies over a 12-month period, to reveal the top 10 best-value destinations for Australian travellers.

Turkey ranked at the top of the dollar-stretching list, with the Australian Dollar soaring 22 per cent against the Turkish Lira over the last 12 months. The Australian Dollar also took flight against the Tanzanian Shilling (up 18 per cent) and the Argentine Peso (up 14 per cent).

The Aussie Dollar performed well in Asia, with Vietnam and Thailand - both short-haul favourite with Aussies wanting a tropical beach break - ranking third and fifth respectively on the list. Our currency climbed 16 per cent against the Dong (Vietnam) and 12 per cent against the Baht (Thailand), 11 per cent against the Hong Kong Dollar and three per cent against the Singaporean Dollar.

Expedia.com.au has experienced an increase in the number of internet searches for destinations in Thailand and Vietnam increase by 73 per cent and 66 per cent respectively in the last 12 months.

The US, always on the most loved destination list for Australians, scraped into the top 10, with the Aussie Dollar rising 10 per against the Greenback. In the last 12 months, Expedia.com.au has seen bookings to the US increase by 41 per cent as travellers take advantage of the strong Dollar. The most popular destinations are Honolulu, up 59 per cent, New York, also up 59 per cent and Los Angeles, up 24 per cent.

While the Euro and the British Pound failed to make the Top 10, they still offer a compelling proposition for the value-seeking traveller. In the last 12 months, the Australian Dollar appreciated eight per cent against the Pound and four per cent against the Euro. Buoyed by the modest increase in affordability, travellers continue to book trips to Europe and the UK. The most popular spots in Europe, according to Expedia.com.au are London, up 41 per cent, Paris, up 40 per cent and Rome, up 37 per cent.

Amee Evans, Marketing Manager for Expedia Australia and New Zealand, says: "We are lucky our travel dollars are going further in destinations on every continent. Combined with the cheap travel deals on offer at the moment, an overseas holiday doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg.

"Keeping an eye out for sales, being aware of flight booking fees, and being flexible with both your destination and travel dates are other ways travellers can make every dollar count."

Among the few currencies against which the Aussie Dollar lost ground in the last 12 months were the Swiss Franc (down five per cent) and the New Zealand Dollar (down two per cent).

Emma Lawson, Currency Strategist at National Australia Bank, comments, "The Australian Dollar has outperformed in the year as it benefits from the ongoing resource boom and high commodity prices.

"More recently it has been a little more volatile but we expect it to remain relatively strong compared to historical levels across a broad range of currencies due to Australia's AAA status, and continued support from the resources sector."

Best-value destinations based on how the Australian Dollar (AUD) has performed against major currencies in the past 12 months*


 

Source: National Australia Bank (http://www.nab.com.au/) *08/09/2010 – 08/09/2011


** Figures sourced from Australian Bureau of Statistics - 3401.0 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, Jul 2011: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3401.0/


CRUISE INTO THE 70TH MONACO GRAND PRIX – WHAT A SEADREAM

TAKE a one-week Mediterranean sailing aboard the boutique mega-motor-cruiser SeaDream I out of Nice in May next year, and if you are a rev-head you can take-in the atmosphere of the important last day of the Monaco Grand Prix when SeaDream spends that day in Monte Carlo.

The 70th Grand Prix will be held from May 24-27 2012; SeaDream I sails from Nice on May 26, has the 27th in Monte Carlo, and then sails on to St Tropez, Portovenere (Italy,) Viareggio (the gateway to Florence,) Portoferraio on the island of Elba, Portofino (Italy) and back into Monte Carlo on June 2.

And even if not a motor-racing buff, the tax-haven Principality of Monte Carlo has plenty else to offer on May 27th next year: its world-famous casino, the Princess Grace Rose Garden, the Oceanographic Museum, extraordinary shopping – and maybe the chance to even spot a movie star or prince.

SeaDream I's 7-night sailing is priced from US$5326pp twin-share including all 5-star gourmet dining with wines at lunch and dinner, drinks from the open bars, nightly Cocktail Parties, use of the 30-course golf simulator, power and sail water-sports, onboard gratuities, and port charges and taxes. Air fares are additional and tickets to the Grand Prix event are not included.

For full details see travel agents or visit www.seadream.com

 

Monday, 19 September 2011

LOVE IN THE LAGOON - GET HITCHED IN HEAVEN WITH SOFITEL LUXURY HOTELS IN MOOREA AND BORA BORA

Sofitel Luxury Hotels in French Polynesia have launched several new wedding packages for those planning on getting married in paradise in 2012.

Sofitel caters from the most simple of ceremonies through to elaborate romantic celebrations that can be held at a choice of two destinations – the Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort and the Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach Resort & Private Island.

 Sofitel's lead in Civil Ceremony Wedding Package is available at either resort and is priced from AUD206 per couple (18 000 XPF) inclusive of tax. The package includes a floral bouquet and boutonnière, a private round trip by car with a chauffeur between the hotel and town hall to meet with the Mayor or Deputy for the civil wedding ceremony.

Many optional extras can be included to enhance the experience, including a bottle of French Champagne with canapés and a private butler service organised for bride and groom to celebrate, priced from AUD301 per couple (26 400 XPF). In addition Sofitel can arrange a professional wedding coordinator, additional flowers, ukulele trio and dancers and photographer/videographer and make-up and hairdresser (available on request and at an additional price).

More elaborate wedding and party packages are also available, including the indulgent HEREHIA ceremony available at both Sofitel resorts located on Moorea and Bora Bora. The HEREHIA package on Bora Bora is particularly stunning taking place on top of Sofitel's very own private island or "motu". The wedding ceremony is conducted in the beautiful Tahitian language. Sofitel's island features a hill look out offering  amazing panoramic views across the bluest of lagoons, with majestic Mount Otemanu in the background. The most idyllic location to be at sunset. Local performers are also arranged to sing, dance and make for a truly romantic Pacific celebration.

The HEREHIA package is priced from AUD1,095 (96 000 XPF) and can also be organised at Sofitel's beach resort on Moorea.

The package includes a Wedding Coordinator, an authentic ceremony by a Tahitian Priest on the beach of Sofitel Moorea, three Tahitian singers and ukulele players, plus two pareos and flower leis for bride and groom to wear in addition to a bridal bouquet and boutonnière. A romantic dinner under the stars is the perfect way to conclude the ceremony and wedding in style, only to return to your bungalow with a decorated flower bed and champagne chilling on ice. Sofitel also arranges a wedding certificate and exotic cocktail celebration as part of the HEREHIA experience.

All offers are valid for stays and weddings from the 1st of January until the 31st of December 2012 and are subject to availability and change. For more information on all packages available for Sofitel in 2012 contact Lisa Coakley on +689 86 66 05 or by email at lisa.coakley@sofitel.com. Visit www.sofitel.com


www.sofitel.com

Book your European Holiday Escape with MasterCard and British Airways

Exclusive Companion Fare Savings for Premium MasterCard Cardholders

MasterCard and British Airways are giving travellers the perfect excuse to jet off on a luxury European adventure with exclusive savings on companion fares. From today up until May next year, Gold, Platinum and World MasterCard cardholders travelling First or Club World Business class with British Airways will be able to take advantage of an extensive range of discounted and companion fares to the European continent.

The discounted fares, part of collaboration between MasterCard and British Airways, give MasterCard World, Platinum and Gold cardholders great savings on return fares and companion fares including:

Business Class return fares to London from $7,699

First Class return fares to Madrid from $10,113

The offers are available on bookings made up until 31 December 2011, and will apply to flights departing between 19 September 2011 and 31 May 2012.

"MasterCard is always looking for new ways to deliver exclusive benefits to our cardholders and this collaboration with British Airways will ensure our Premium cardholders – including World, Platinum and Gold – are getting a great deal on travel to Europe," said MasterCard Australia Country Manager, Andrew Cartwright.

"These outstanding offers tie in with MasterCard's commitment to provide exclusive rewards for our premium cardholders through the development of long-term strategies with travel providers."

Regional Commercial Manager, Neil Ager said: "With the strength of the Australian Dollar there has never been a better time to visit Europe and we hope our Australian customers will take advantage of these great fares on offer.  This exciting collaboration with MasterCard is another great way to encourage those who haven't previously flown with us, to jump on board in the near future."

Further details on the offer can be found at MasterCard Moments www.mastercardmoments.com.au and tickets can be purchased by calling 1300 785 220.World MasterCard cardholders can find further details on the offer at www.mastercard.com.au/world and tickets can be purchased by calling 1300 486 223. Terms & Conditions Apply.

 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Retreat to Sustainable Luxury at naked Stables Private Reserve


Retreat to Sustainable Luxury in the Bamboo Forests of Moganshan with Introductory Specials at naked Stables Private Reserve

 'Stay One Night, Get One Night Free' and other bamboo-zling offers available during October and November 2011

 Treat yourself to an Autumn retreat and be one of the first guests to check-in at the new naked Stables Private Reserve. The sustainable luxury spa resort and equestrian reserve in the beautiful Moganshan hills in Zhejiang Province, two and a half hours from Shanghai, will open its doors on October 1, 2011, and it is offering unbeatable introductory rates for October and November. The special discounts are even available during China's October National Holiday – when the rejuvenating bamboo forest makes an ideal escape from the city.

Take advantage of the following one-for-one deals and specially designed packages for couples, families and groups of friends. In addition to their own unique benefits, each package also includes complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the resort, access to all main swimming pools, extra weekend activities and personalised service from your own host.  

One-for-One Opening Special

Escape to the naked Stables Private Reserve in October or November and you can double your pleasure. Stay for one night and get an extra night absolutely free during its first two months. With this offer, prices starts from RMB 2,600 per room for two nights, plus 15 percent service charge and including Western breakfast.

Weekday Package

If you only have one night to spare, you can take advantage of the Weekday Package at naked Stables Private Reserve that includes 30 percent off accommodation, plus complimentary Western breakfast, lunch at the Clubhouse Bar & Bistro and a gourmet dinner at Kikaboni, the Afro-Chinese signature restaurant. Priced at RMB 1,331 per person per night (minimum two people), plus 15 percent service charge.

Weekend Packages

Unique Weekend Packages are tailored for families, couples or groups of friends. Spread across 60 acres with plentiful activities, naked Stables Private Reserve lets you be as active, social or private as you desire. Weekend stays kick-off every Friday night with a social African Welcome Barbecue and Bonfire at the poolside Clubhouse, with entertainment, music, great food and company.

About naked Stables Private Reserve

naked Stables Private Reserve is set on 60 pristine acres in its own private valley surrounded by a reservoir, bamboo and tea plantations, and small farming villages. It has been built with the aim of becoming the first resort in Asia to achieve the highly coveted LEED Platinum sustainability certification.

The 'sustainable luxury' resort features 121 beautifully appointed rooms in free-standing Tree-Top Villas and Earth Huts, plus Afro-Asian restaurant Kikaboni (meaning 'organic' in Swahili) and Clubhouse Bar & Bistro. The resort also features a 750 sqm naked Leaf Spa & Wellness Centre; three outdoor swimming pools; a Tea Pavilion, Bamboo Museum and Pottery Studio; Little Shoots Kids Club; and a fully equipped Equestrian Centre with operational stables for 20 horses. An 800 sqm Conference Centre, Indaba (an African word meaning 'gathering of the chiefs'), offers seven multi-functional meeting rooms.

About naked Retreats

Founded by South African Grant Horsfield, the naked concept was conceived to communicate the philosophy of stripping away a busy cosmopolitan city lifestyle and restoring balance through closeness to nature. naked Retreats aims to become a leading global brand for sustainable nature retreats by giving guests unique and rewarding personal experiences in stunning natural environments.

The company is committed to working with communities in and around the resort locations, by generating job opportunities, contributing to local economies, and sharing with them a sense of pride and fulfillment. The first naked Retreats resort – called naked Home Village – opened in 2007. It comprises eight hillside homesteads in the village of Sanjiuwu surrounding Moganshan in Zhejiang Province, China. naked Stables Private Reserve will be naked Retreats' second resort in China, and will open in October 2011.


For more information visit www.nakedretreats.cn

For reservations: +86 (21) 6431 8901 / info@nakedretreats.cn



Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Six Night Deal at Qamea Island Resort, Fiji


Save 35% at the Luxurious Qamea Resort and Spa Fiji!

Everyone can now afford six nights in 4 ½ star Fijian luxury, with Qamea Resort and Spa Fiji offering six night's accommodation, all meals and a value add romance, adventure, dive or spa package for only *AUD$1550 per person, normally *AUD$2460 per person. 

This amazing deal is valid for sale until 30 April 2012 and valid for travel from 1 November 2011 until 30 April 2012 and includes six nights in a Deluxe Beachfront Bure, breakfast, lunch and dinner and the choice of one value add on package including Romance in Paradise, Romantic Beach Wedding in Paradise, Adventure and Exercise in Paradise, Diving in Paradise and Jungle Spa in Paradise.

The multi award winning adults only Qamea Resort and Spa is an exclusive tropical destination for discerning travelers seeking a truly unique and authentic Fijian experience. The jewel of Fiji's northern islands, Qamea is known all around the world for its breathtaking beauty and 100 lush tropical acres of landscaped gardens, dramatic green tropical jungle clad hills, white sand beaches and jagged volcanic South Pacific Mountains that soar behind the property.

Qamea was named in the Robb Report as "One of the World's Top Ten Luxury Exclusive Hideaways" and recently was the only Fijian Resort finalist by Conde Nast Johansens 2011 Global Awards for Most Excellent Spa and Most Excellent Romantic Hideaway and Most Excellent Eco Resort.

The luxurious resort fronts onto a private white sand beach and accommodates up to 34 guests in 17 spacious bures and exclusive Royal Beach Houses with private swimming pools and Jacuzzi Spas all facing the ocean and positioned for maximum privacy.

Guests can choose from a range of activities including snorkeling, hobie cat sailing, windsurfing, sea canoeing, hiking, croquet, local village visits, diving, day trips and private picnics.

Widely known throughout Fiji for its excellence in food, cuisine at Qamea can best be described as South Pacific Rim, and the resort uses a combination of the islands own grown organic fruits and vegetables and products sourced from the mainland. All seafood is local and caught daily by two Qamea fishermen, while all beef and poultry are flown in from Australia and New Zealand.

Situated on the edge of a tropical jungle with five individual treatment bures, guests own private spa bure awaits them. With the sounds of the Pacific ocean intermingled with a myriad of native jungle birds singing Qamea's Jungle Spa allows guests to unwind and delight their senses with an extensive menu of Fijian body therapies and French facial therapies featuring Guinot products that relax, rejuvenate, revitalize and renew your mind, body and soul.

Qamea Resort and Spa's six night package is only *AUD$1550 per person, including six nights in a Deluxe Beachfront Bure, all meals and a value add romance, adventure, dive or spa package, normally AUD$2460 per person. *Prices are exclusive of taxes and transfers and are based on conversion rate as at 12 September 2011.  

For further information contact T: (07) 5524 5222.

 www.wrd.com.au


Experience Europe in the Autumn with Emirates


-Travel to Europe from $1802 return-

Emirates has launched a sale on Economy airfares to Europe during its autumn period, offering Australian travellers the chance to explore Emirates' 28 European destinations for less.

Sample the sights of Prague from $1802 return, the historical Greek city of Athens from $1836 and the culture London from $1961.

Travellers can also enjoy the romance of Rome from $1802 return from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, including all airport charges and taxes.

Return airfares to Emirates newly launched European destinations of Geneva and Copenhagen start from $1805 return.*  

The timing of the this sale period also offers the perfect opportunity for travellers to include a stopover in the exciting city of Dubai on the way to or from Europe, during Dubai's high season for travel, with Emirates offering  great deals on Dubai stopover packages.

All Emirates passengers receive inflight service delivered by an international crew drawn from over 140 nationalities; complimentary gourmet food and beverage menus; a generous 30kg luggage allowance; and an award-winning inflight entertainment system with more than 1200 channels.

These special fares are valid for travel from now to 30 November 2011.  Except from Sydney which is valid from 03 October  until 30 November 2011.  All bookings must be made by 30 September 2011.

For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or go to www.emirates.com/au.

Terms and conditions for the offer:

·         Ticketing and sales between now and 30 September 2011
·         Valid for departures from Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth between September 2011 and 30 November 2011, and from Sydney between 03 October and 30 November
·         Flight restrictions apply
·         Black-out period applies to Economy Class inbound flights between 10 December 2011 and 15 January 2012
·         Fees for changes and cancellations apply
·         Seats and Class are subject to availability at time of booking


*The inclusive taxes and surcharges quoted are correct at 8 September 2011. These may vary slightly over the travel period.

 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Costa neoRomantica to sail to Australia

COSTA CRUISES will introduce new cruises out of Australia with the newly renovated ship, Costa neoRomantica. As part of its new itineraries, Costa neoRomantica will stop at Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin, Cairns, Brisbane, Hobart and Burnie ports in Australia, as well as Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa, Dunedin and Fjordland in New Zealand.

From September 19 2012, Australians and New Zealanders will have the opportunity to choose from nine different sailings with either embarkation or disembarkation in Melbourne*, Singapore, Mauritius, Dubai and Savona (Italy). Costa neoRomantica will offer a wide range of cruise options ranging from 21 to 88 nights from Italy to Melbourne, visiting the Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean, Far East and Australia.

Costa neoRomantica's first grand cruise will start from  September 19 2012, and will depart from Savona to reach Melbourne on December 13, calling in to the ports of Naples, Egypt, Suez canal, the Red Sea, Israel, Jordan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, India, Maldives, Seychelles, Madagascar and Reunion, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Bali, Lombok (Indonesia), Darwin, Brisbane and Sydney.

The 21-night Christmas holiday sailing has been designed for Australians, leaving from Melbourne on  December 13 2012 and visiting Sydney, North Island Coast, Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa, Dunedin, Fjordland and Hobart, before finally returning to Melbourne.

Itineraries will be available from Savona, Dubai, Mauritius and Singapore to Melbourne, and cruises from Melbourne to each of these destinations will also be on offer.

On January 3 2013, Costa neoRomantica will depart from Melbourne to return to Italy via four 21-night to 25-night grand cruises: Melbourne to Singapore; Singapore to Mauritius; Mauritius to Dubai and Dubai to Savona, with scheduled arrival on April 1, 2013.

Comments Dario Rustico, Vice President, Sales and Marketing of Costa Cruises' Pacific Asia Operations,

"Following the previously announced visit of one of our newest and most innovative ships - Costa Deliziosa - which is scheduled to visit Sydney, Melbourne and Perth this February 2012, we are excited to announce our intention to double our presence in the market during local summer season 2012/2013 when both Costa Deliziosa and Costa neoRomantica will be sailing through Australia and New Zealand.

"Costa Deliziosa, during its 100 night around the world cruise, will visit Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Auckland while Costa neoRomantica's very "premium" Christmas cruise will depart from Melbourne to New Zealand, with great voyages to Italy through Asia, the Indian Ocean, Middle East and Mediterranean sea, offering a wide array of destinations and cruise durations to Australians.

"We are eager to show off these ships and to welcome as many Australians and New Zealanders as we can, ensuring they remain impressed by the overall quality of our interiors as well as by our service, hospitality and cuisine."

Costa Cruises is investing approximately 90 million euros in the transformation of the Costa Romantica to the Costa neoRomantica. The renovation will start at the end of October 2011 with expected completion at the end of February 2012.

Costa Romantica's makeover will include the construction of new areas on-board, and the introduction of new services that will offer an enhanced cruise experience to guests. 

Appealing to the wine connoisseurs, one new area on the ship will be a wine bar, with 100 different labels and a wide selection of cheeses from around the world. There will also be a coffee bar for desserts and coffee, and a new restaurant with menus designed by award-winning chefs.  

Amenities will include the Samsara Spa, a 4,200-m² wellness area with gym, a swimming pool for thalassotherapy, treatment rooms, sauna and Turkish bath. For evening entertainment there will be a show lounge bar with dance floor, a cabaret club and a nightclub.

During dry-dock in Genoa, two new half-decks will be added to the ship, along with 111 new cabins, 120 cabins and several suites with private balconies. Total guest capacity will increase from 1,697 to 1,800, the number of cabins will increase from 678 to 789 and the total displacement will be approximately 56,000 gross tonnage.

Visit www.costacruises.com.au/neoromantica for further information.

*On 13 December 2012 sailing, Guests can embark and disembark in Melbourne.

 

CCC Two-Night Sydney Harbour Spa Weekend Cruise

On the weekend of October 21, 2011 Captain Cook Cruises is holding a two night Sydney Harbour Spa Weekend Cruise onboard the MV Captain Cook Explorer, so passengers can discover the world's most beautiful harbour and enjoy being pampered with spa treatments at the same time. Book now and save 10% off the fare.
 
This amazing two night cruise allows passengers – both local and tourists to experience Sydney from an extraordinary perspective aboard their own small cruise ship and takes them off the beaten track and up close to some of the most beautiful and famous aspects of Sydney Harbour.
 
Regular shore visits include street markets, beautiful gardens and beachside Watsons Bay. From Sydney Harbour to along the Parramatta River, the views are worth the journey alone – a breathtaking sunset over the sails of the Sydney Opera House to a sparkling dawn on the cliffs of the north shore.
 
Evenings on board are a blend of top class food and wine, spectacular harbour sights, getting to know new friends and enjoying great entertainment.
 
All this plus the chance to relax and spoil yourself with spa treatments all weekend long. Treatments available onboard include:
 
·         Massage – Swedish, Sports or Remedial – ½ hr $60 1hr $100
·         ½ hr Facial – Priori Coffeeberry facials & enzyme peel - $60
·         ½ hr Manicure or Pedicures - $40
·         Eye Enhancement Package including eyelash & eyebrow tint, eyebrow shape - $45
 
Passengers can even check-in early on the Friday with pre-boarding spa treatments available from 1.00pm.
 
As a special treat for the girls, if Mum and daughter both cruise, Captain Cook Cruises will guarantee 10% off their fares and help get the party started with a bottle of sparkling wine in their room on arrival.
 
The two night Sydney harbour Spa Weekend Cruise departs Friday October 21 at 6.00pm, with boarding from 5.00pm and pre-boarding spa treatments available from 1.00pm from No.1 King Street Wharf, Darling Harbour.
 
Book now to receive 10% off fares, with prices starting from $431 per person twin share, normally $479 per person twin share including all accommodation, meals and most activities.
 
For further information visit www.captaincook.com.au
 
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 www.captaincook.com.au.
 
 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Two-Night Sydney Harbour Spa Weekend Cruise

On the weekend of October 21, 2011 Captain Cook Cruises is holding a two night Sydney Harbour Spa Weekend Cruise onboard the MV Captain Cook Explorer, so passengers can discover the world's most beautiful harbour and enjoy being pampered with spa treatments at the same time. Book now and save 10% off the fare. This amazing two night cruise allows passengers - both local and tourists to experience Sydney from an extraordinary perspective aboard their own small cruise ship and takes them off the beaten track and up close to some of the most beautiful and famous aspects of Sydney Harbour. Regular shore visits include street markets, beautiful gardens and beachside Watsons Bay. From Sydney Harbour to along the Parramatta River, the views are worth the journey alone - a breathtaking sunset over the sails of the Sydney Opera House to a sparkling dawn on the cliffs of the north shore. Evenings on board are a blend of top class food and wine, spectacular harbour sights, getting to know new friends and enjoying great entertainment. All this plus the chance to relax and spoil yourself with spa treatments all weekend long. Treatments available onboard include: * Massage - Swedish, Sports or Remedial - ½ hr $60 1hr $100 * ½ hr Facial - Priori Coffeeberry facials & enzyme peel - $60 * ½ hr Manicure or Pedicures - $40 * Eye Enhancement Package including eyelash & eyebrow tint, eyebrow shape - $45 Passengers can even check-in early on the Friday with pre-boarding spa treatments available from 1.00pm. As a special treat for the girls, if Mum and daughter both cruise, Captain Cook Cruises will guarantee 10% off their fares and help get the party started with a bottle of sparkling wine in their room on arrival. The two night Sydney harbour Spa Weekend Cruise departs Friday October 21 at 6.00pm, with boarding from 5.00pm and pre-boarding spa treatments available from 1.00pm from No.1 King Street Wharf, Darling Harbour. Book now to receive 10% off fares, with prices starting from $431 per person twin share, normally $479 per person twin share including all accommodation, meals and most activities. For further information visit www.captaincook.com.au 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 www.captaincook.com.au. Save hours on your travel research. Get brochures delivered to your door for free. Digital option too.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Focus on Gallipoli Battlefields – A Guide for Choosing the Best Tour Experience


As the Australian holiday market begins to launch their Europe specials for 2012, Boronia Travel Centre, the ‘official travel agent’ to the Australian War Memorial, are advising Australian travellers to choose carefully when booking a tour package to the Gallipoli Battlefields.

Often people will conduct their initial search on the internet and see something that looks to be the best deal, but they haven’t factored in the right tour components that make a battlefield experience so special,” explains John Waller, CEO, Boronia Travel Centre.

“It might be the cheapest package available, although more often than not the tour guides are not qualified or have insufficient experience, the hotels are located far from the battlefield sites, or the tour lacks additional services such as locating family ancestors who fought in the war.

A better option for consumers is to investigate the battlefield tour guides “military history experience”, which Mr Waller advises “should be easily found on the website or brochure. A qualified historian should demonstrate a depth of knowledge that could educate and enhance the overall travel experience, and accompany the group throughout the entire tour.”

Boronia Travel Centre’s battlefield tours are designed and led by the Australian War Memorial’s curators and historians, and Mr Waller believes that “their tours are the most informative and in depth available. Their knowledge is unsurpassed and with the resources available to them can also assist with any family research.”

Another pitfall for the unwary consumer is the location of their hotel in relation to the battlefield site. Often they are located across the Dardanelles in Canakkale or further south, requiring several hours of travel time each day.

According to Mr Waller, “one of the great benefits of travelling with Boronia Travel Centre is that they are the only battlefield tour operator in Australia to spend six full days on the Peninsula, staying at an exclusive Turkish beach resort just minutes from Anzac Cove.”

Mr Waller further states that his team of travel consultants are “continually updating their knowledge of Gallipoli having travelled there annually are “ideally positioned” to meet our clients needs and travel requirements. “This is a real point of difference as many travel agents have never been to Gallipoli”.

And with a passion to provide both a commemorative and educational battlefield experience, Mr Waller concluded that staff “gain a sense of pride and satisfaction in creating tours that can touch the hearts of everyone involved, and which even become a personal pilgrimage for some”.

For more information visit:
www.boroniabattlefieldtours.com.au or call Boronia Travel Centre on 1800 035 350





Save hours on your travel research. Get brochures delivered to your door for free. Digital option too.

Thai Airways blogger of the month: Diana Kim

Congratulations Diana. Read her blogs and more here

Join the Thai Airways travel bloggers for a chance to win a trip to your dream location.

  Save hours on your travel research. Get brochures delivered to your door for free. Digital option too.

China Ice Spectacular tours January


Tim Beckensall leads OEH China Ice Spectacular Tours

Orient Express Holidays has just released two packages linked to the International Ice Festival in Harbin, China early January that will be escorted by private tour guide Tim Beckensall, a former community liaison officer at the Australian Embassy in Beijing.

The nine-day China Ice Specactular package is priced $3599 per person twin share which includes two nights at Holiday Inn Harbin for the colourful ice and snow creations of the Ice Specatcular, six nights at Holiday inn Dongshimen Beijing, 17 meals, return flights from Melbourne to Beijing flying Air China, return domestic airfares to Harbin and all transportation, daily tours, entrance fees and taxes.

Among the Beijing activities are the chance to reflect in the Forbidden City's frozen palace moat, skate across imperial lakes and a stroll along the Great Wall of China.

Departure is January 5.

The 10-day China Fire and Ice package is $3799 and covers the Ice Specactular as well as Beijing's midnight fireworks to welcome 2012 the "Year of the Dragon".

The price also includes two nights at Holiday Inn Harbin for the Ice Specatcular, five nights at Holiday inn Dongshimen Beijing, two nights at the boutique Shadow Art Hotel in Old Beijing, 20 meals, return flights from Melbourne to Beijing flying Air China, return domestic airfares to Harbin and all transportation, daily tours, entrance fees and taxes.

Departure is January 15.

Contact 1300 674 368, or email oeholidays@oexpress.com.au, or visit www.orientexpressholidays.com.au.

Orient Express Holiday's Product Consultant, Amara Lindenmayer said Tim Beckensall added immense value to the Orient Express Holidays China tours program through his local knowledge and contacts, background in history and archaeology and a passion for Chinese culture to create an unparalleled experience for each tour.

"Tim will not only show us the popular destinations but also introduce us to fine local cuisines and help us discover some of China's hidden secrets" Ms Lindenmayer said.

China Ice Spectacular tours January


Tim Beckensall leads OEH China Ice Spectacular Tours

Orient Express Holidays has just released two packages linked to the International Ice Festival in Harbin, China early January that will be escorted by private tour guide Tim Beckensall, a former community liaison officer at the Australian Embassy in Beijing.

The nine-day China Ice Specactular package is priced $3599 per person twin share which includes two nights at Holiday Inn Harbin for the colourful ice and snow creations of the Ice Specatcular, six nights at Holiday inn Dongshimen Beijing, 17 meals, return flights from Melbourne to Beijing flying Air China, return domestic airfares to Harbin and all transportation, daily tours, entrance fees and taxes.

Among the Beijing activities are the chance to reflect in the Forbidden City's frozen palace moat, skate across imperial lakes and a stroll along the Great Wall of China.

Departure is January 5.

The 10-day China Fire and Ice package is $3799 and covers the Ice Specactular as well as Beijing's midnight fireworks to welcome 2012 the "Year of the Dragon".

The price also includes two nights at Holiday Inn Harbin for the Ice Specatcular, five nights at Holiday inn Dongshimen Beijing, two nights at the boutique Shadow Art Hotel in Old Beijing, 20 meals, return flights from Melbourne to Beijing flying Air China, return domestic airfares to Harbin and all transportation, daily tours, entrance fees and taxes.

Departure is January 15.

Contact 1300 674 368, or email oeholidays@oexpress.com.au, or visit www.orientexpressholidays.com.au.

Orient Express Holiday's Product Consultant, Amara Lindenmayer said Tim Beckensall added immense value to the Orient Express Holidays China tours program through his local knowledge and contacts, background in history and archaeology and a passion for Chinese culture to create an unparalleled experience for each tour.

"Tim will not only show us the popular destinations but also introduce us to fine local cuisines and help us discover some of China's hidden secrets" Ms Lindenmayer said.

CHECK IN WITH PAT RAFTER AND WIN WITH MANTRA HOTELS

Mantra Hotels have served up a winner for guests who can now get up close with Australian tennis legend Pat Rafter - not quite with the man himself, but with life-size cut outs of the new Mantra ambassador appearing in hotel lobbies across Australia as part of the new 'Check Out My Check in' competition.

A holiday snap with Pat and check in uploaded to Facebook could win guests a weekly $200 gift card spot prize drawn at random with a $1000 gift card being awarded at the end of the 12 week competition to the check-in photo with the most votes. The competition has been launched just in time for school holidays where a host of Mantra properties across Australia will welcome families looking to take the Great Australian Holiday.

The life-size cut out of Pat in leisure mode ready for the beach will feature in holiday destinations such as the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Northern New South Wales but business travellers can also take part with a 'corporate-style Pat' taking up residence in the lobbies of CBD hotels located in all capital cities.

A dedicated app has been set up for iPhone and Android users who will receive full details of the app download and competition when they make a booking with Mantra hotels and resorts. Full details are also available at Mantra front desks on check in.

Take advantage of Pat's Mates Rates and get snapping for your chance to win!  Here's a 'snapshot' of what's on offer, available for booking at www.mantra.com.au:

GOLD COAST, QUEENSLAND

SURFERS PARADISE AND BROADBEACH
Mantra Circle on Cavill, Surfers Paradise – From $176* per night in a 1 Bedroom Spa Apartment. Valid for travel until 31/03/12. Three night minimum stay.
Mantra Broadbeach on the Park, Broadbeach – From $150* per night in a 1 Bedroom Apartment. Valid for travel until 31/03/12. Three night minimum stay.

SUNSHINE COAST, QUEENSLAND

MOOLOOABA: The holiday haven of Mooloolaba is one of the most popular places to stay on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, promising beautiful beaches and surrounding hinterland, vibrant shopping and a wide variety of dining, and many popular tourist attractions within a short drive, from Underwater World and Australia Zoo through to the unique Eumundi Markets.
Mantra Mooloolaba Beach – From $198* per night in a Hotel Room. Plus stay three nights and only pay for two. Valid for travel until 31/03/12. Three night minimum stay.

BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND

CBD: A world class city of culture, beauty, shopping, dining and entertainment to make any break away memorable for all the right reasons, Brisbane has it all with a sub-tropical climate that makes the southern cities jealous.
Mantra South Bank – From $171* per night in a Hotel Room including breakfast for two at Stone Restaurant. For Friday–Sunday stays only. Valid for travel until 31/03/12. Two night minimum stay.

SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

METRO: Cosmopolitan Sydney not only boasts world-class dining and shopping but is also surrounded by iconic beaches, World Heritage areas, lush hinterland and acclaimed wine regions.
Mantra 2 Bond Street – From $250* per night in an Executive Studio. Valid for travel until 31/03/12 for Thursday/Friday and Sunday/Monday/nights. Two night minimum stay applies.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD, VICTORIA
LORNE: Nestled into Victoria's most scenic touring route with picture-postcard natural attractions along the coastline, not to mention world-famous surf breaks such as Bells Beach nearby, all easily accessible via the Great Ocean Road.

Mantra Erskine Beach Resort – From $179* per night in a Heritage Room. Plus stay three nights and only pay for two. Valid for travel until 31/03/12. Three night minimum stay.

*Full Terms & Conditions at www.mantra.com.au – competition closes 24 November 2011


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