Tuesday 11 December 2007

Philippines - Australians discover a new playground

With its diverse geography of stunning natural wonders, variety of cultural influences and easy accessibility from Australia, the Philippines is fast becoming the destination of choice for holiday makers.

An archipelago of over 7107 islands, the Philippines has volcanoes alongside some of the world's best beaches, rainforests next to mountains and 500 years of Spanish history entwined with multi-faceted indigenous Filipino culture. All of which have combined to make the Philippines a unique destination.

The varied coastline offer visitors a plethora of options for a relaxing beach holiday. One of the highlights is Cebu – the oldest city in the Philippines –which boasts an expanse of white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and near constant sunshine, all set against the fascinating architectural and cultural remnants of Spanish rule.

Another option is Boracay, acclaimed as the world's best beach with a more adventurous reputation. Popular water-sports include wind surfing, snorkelling and kite surfing though it is the diving – with the Philippines recently being voted one of the top three diving destinations in the world – that is the major draw.

For a cultural experience, the capital Manila is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city of international status. Set against a fascinating historical backdrop, Manila has an exciting mix of museums, art galleries, shopping destinations, buzzing nightlife and international restaurants.

For more historical context, Bohol with its medieval forts, cathedrals and lighthouses left over from the Spanish reign, is another highlight.

With so much on offer, the Philippines are increasingly a destination of choice for Australians looking to explore new horizons within Asia.

For further information call 1300 736 584 or visit

Wednesday 1 August 2007

Turon Gates: Time Out Under The Gum Trees

Leave the city life behind you, reenergise, refresh, unwind and rediscover nature in the beautiful bushland setting of Turon Gates.

Located just 2.5 hours by car from Sydney, Turon Gates offers an idyllic weekend or midweek escape in the Australian bush.

Enjoy Trout fishing in the crystal clear Turon River, bush walking in 6,000 acres of untouched bushland. Swim in wonderful deep bush swimming holes against a shear cliff backdrop. Canoe along the 8km river, horse ride across the hillside and rocky mountain streams, try your luck panning for gold, or simply relax in a hammock under a gum tree and enjoy the sounds of nature. At Turon Gates, you can do everything or nothing at all.

The accommodation is matched perfectly to the natural setting, seven rustic log cabins situated along 15km of crystal clear trout stream and 8 mountain retreat cottages with sensational views each accommodating up to 8 people in a cosy and private surroundings. There are tables and chairs under the gum trees with outdoor woodfired BBQ’s providing the perfect end to a day of adventure or relaxation.

Each cabin offers a unique experience, offering everything from Mountain Vista’s to river side relaxation. With a range of 1, 2 & 3 bedroom cabins, there are a total of 120 beds at Turon (not that you would know it), which makes it a great location for group holidays.

For a complete escape delicious home cooked meals are available, as well as a wide range of pampering beauty treatments.

You only have to ask any one who has been there to find out how fabulous the place is!

Fact sheet

- Turon Gates is a unique bush hideaway set in unspoilt Australian wilderness, located just 2.5hrs drive from Sydney CBD. An ideal place to escape city life and rediscover nature for a weekend or midweek break. It’s approximately 30 mins from Lithgow.

- With over 6,000 acres of wondrous bushland and surrounding hills covered with towering pines and magnificent gums, Turon Gates is designed to offer a quiet and inexpensive country get away.

- Featuring 7 rustic log cabins situated along 15kms of crystal clear trout stream and 8 cottages with sensational mountain views. Fully self contained they offer everything needed for a comfortable and enjoyable stay for up to 8 people. There is a total number of 120 beds at Turon! There are some cabins grouped and some very remote.

- Rediscover nature with endless activities including trout fishing, horse riding, bushwalking, canoeing, swimming, gold panning and mountain biking. Do everything or relax in a hammock under the gum trees and enjoy the peace and tranquillity.

- Enjoy Kangaroos, wombats, echidnas and goannas in their natural habitat. Plus farm animals in the main homestead. A wonderful child friendly environment.

- Turon Gates welcomes pets, it’s tick free.

- Turon Gates is eco friendly using only gas and solar energy.

- Visit nearby wine region of Mudgee and enjoy specialty local food and wine, or explore the gold towns of Sofala and Hill End.

- Prices range from $360 for a 3 night weekend in the river cabins to $480 for the mountain cabins. (3 adults or 2 adults / 2 children). Midweek rates start at $110 per night.

- Camping is available, with no booking required for $22 per car and $6 per trailer per night. Off road 4wd driving is not permitted.

- All cabins are fully self contained each with its own unique character. All you need to bring is food and linen. (linen can be provided for a small additional charge)….and may be tissues, insect repellent, candles, torch, matches, camera!

- Delicious home cooked meals and pampering beauty treatments are available. Phone Sarah on 63590098 to pre book.

- Horse riding is available with hourly or half day rates. ( helmets must be worn and are available there).

- The crystal clear Turon River is a freshwater trout stream and perfect for all dedicated fly fishermen. The season extends from the October to June long weekends. Please bring your own fishing gear and license.

- How to get there - Turon Gates is about a 2.5 hour drive from the Sydney CBD. Take the M4 Freeway (through Penrith and Katoomba) or M2/M7 Motorway (exit Richmond Road and turn right) to Lithgow. Drive through/past Lithgow and follow the signs to Mudgee until you come to a small village called Capertee (approximately 25 mins from Lithgow). Continue through Capertee for about 1.5 kms and you will see a sign for Turon Gates on the left.

Its 4-6 kms to the mountain cottages (depending which one!) and 12 kms to the river cottages - follow the signs and cattle grids.


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Tuesday 24 July 2007

Aussies let loose on love while overseas

A trip abroad is all you need to spice up your love life, according to a new travel survey from online travel agency

It’s official: travel is truly a passion starter. In a recent relationship survey* of over 1,000 respondents conducted by ZUJI, Aussies admit to using trips abroad to find true love or enjoy a casual fling.

While a massive 76% of respondents admitted they are more likely to be flirtatious while on an overseas holiday, and 66% said they look to find or rekindle love while away, the survey also revealed that Aussies are not entirely faithful when travelling abroad.

A whopping 66% of men and 55% of women admitted they would consider ‘extra-curricular activity’ while away from home and 56% of respondents admitted to having had ‘a fling’ during previous travels.

Surprisingly, almost half (48%) of female respondents (as opposed to only 39% of male respondents) said that they would actively pursue an overseas affair, which might explain the trend towards more women than men (29% vs. 17%) opting to travel alone these days!

When it comes to the states, Queenslanders are the trustworthiest bunch with only 35% admitting to an overseas affair. More dubious characters can be found in the ACT where a huge 75% have admitted to a holiday fling. The other states were also relatively naughty with NSW 60%, SA 64%, VIC 63%, TAS 66% and WA 52%.

Thankfully, not all Australian’s are fickle in their relationships with more than half (55%) of respondents finding themselves in a long distance relationship as a result of their overseas escapades - and more than half of those unions lasting despite the distance.

As perhaps expected, Europe has firm passion-potential for Australians, with 64% of women and 43% of men nominating it as their most ‘desired destination’. Asia came in second for 21% of men.

With 77,000 hotels available on ZUJI, as well as experiences, flights, cruises and car hire it is the perfect place to search for your next romantic rendezvous.

* Survey undertaken by SurveyMonkey on behalf of ZUJI from May - June 2007

Monday 23 July 2007

Shop til you drop in Taiwan

Taiwan recently joined the ranks of mega shopping complexes with the recent inauguration of the nine-storey Kaohsiung Dream Mall, located in the Kaohsiung Multifunctional Commerce and Trade Park.

As the largest shopping centre in Taiwan, sixth largest in Asia and the 11th largest in the world, the Dream Mall covers 399,399 square metres of floor space. It is approximately 6.5 times the size of the Kaohsiung Hanshin Department Store and 2 times the size of the Taipei Living Mall. The Dream Mall has become a new landmark in Kaohsiung and is the first large scale international shopping centre in Asia.

Combining diverse leisure and entertainment facilities, the venue offers designer clothing, lifestyle products, food outlets, bookstores, cinema house, wholesale warehouses, amusement centres, and others, providing the ultimate shopping environment. Products from more than 500 specialty stores, 800 businesses and 1000 brands are offered inside the mall, including stores such as the British institution Marks and Spencer and Japan's Hankyu Department Store Nitori.

The spatial design of the complex integrates nature and marine concepts and is divided into two architectural areas: a fish-shaped building and the main building. The complex features wide indoor streets between buildings that have an atmosphere similar to that of Fifth Avenue in New York.

A highlight is the rooftop Hello Kitty Ferris Wheel which rotates a full circle every 15 minutes and is decorated with hundreds of different neon lights in various colours. The view of a vibrant harbour city and international port can be seen from the wheel. Outside the mall is a hundred metre scenic boulevard along with an 824-inch projection screen, the largest in Asia.

The Trade Park is already home to IKEA, Carrefour, Kaohsiung Software Technology Park, and the headquarters for the ChinaSteel Corporation. The Dream Mall will also help attract hardware and software investments from other related businesses, creating more job opportunities.

The Dream Mall will not only head the consumer market in southern Taiwan, but also provide its visitors of Taiwan with a new recreational and entertainment choice.

For further information contact Taiwan Tourism on 1800 TAIWAN (82426) or visit

Saturday 7 July 2007


Tallawanta Lodge to join Grand Mercure hotel collection

Tallawanta Lodge in the Hunter Valley Gardens complex is set to go ‘Grand’ following the announcement today that the hotel will join Accor’s Grand Mercure collection from 21 January, 2008.

The Grand Mercure Hunter Valley Gardens, as it will be known following the rebranding, is a 72-room hotel that is part of the Hunter Valley Gardens development, one of the wine region’s premier tourist attractions.

Surrounded by stunning gardens, the Grand Mercure provides a range of accommodation styles including studio suites, garden studios, spa rooms, family rooms and suites.

The Presidential Suite has been individually designed and decorated with stylish antiques, tasteful art pieces, and features 15ft cathedral ceilings, a private dining room and spacious living area catering for up to six people. A private terrace overlooks the Mediterranean-style pool area and gardens. There is also a very stylish Library Suite, which features its own library, spa and fireplace as well as a wet bar and microwave, making it perfect for entertaining.

The hotel also provides a ‘one-stop’ conference and event destination, with modern meeting rooms including the Semillon Ballroom which can cater for up to 250 guests banquet-style and a range of indoor and outdoor spaces including the world-class gardens and Roche Wines vineyards.

Leisure facilities include tennis courts, a resort-style pool, sauna, spa, and Lodge Library, with the Hunter Valley Gardens Village – and all its attractions - right at the doorstep.

Accor’s Vice President Australia, Simon McGrath, said that with Accor’s experience in the Hunter Valley and its leading position in the meetings and conference sector, the group could build on the hotel’s already well established position in the Hunter’s hospitality and tourism market.

“We are very used to working in such integrated developments, having opened a Grand Mercure development at The Vintage in nearby Rothbury,” he said.

“The Hunter Valley is really working hard to build its tourism profile and attract larger number of conferences and incentive groups. The Hunter Valley Gardens complex is tailor-made for tourism and with Grand Mercure branding of Tallawanta Lodge we believe that we can attract an even wider market – interstate and international – to the Hunter to experience the region’s attractions.”

Nestled amongst the foothills of the Brokenback Ranges in the heart of Pokolbin, Hunter Valley Gardens development includes the largest display garden in the country with thousands of plants across 12 stunning display gardens including the Storybook Garden which features timeless nursery characters for the children, an Italian grotto, Chinese Garden, Indian Mosaic Garden and more, all linked with pathways and walks.

Created by Bill Roche and owned by Roche Group, the Hunter Valley Gardens complex also includes popular Harrigans Irish Pub & Accommodation; Lazzarini’s fine dining restaurant; Hunter Valley Gardens Village with a range of boutiques and restaurants; Roche Wines cellar door; picnic areas and playgrounds plus a private chapel for weddings or christenings.

Grand Mercure Hunter Valley Gardens will become the 20th Grand Mercure Hotel in Australia, joining an exclusive collection of distinctive deluxe hotels. The Grand Mercure name is also present in other premier wine-growing regions including the Grand Mercure Mt Lofty House in the Adelaide Hills; Grand Mercure Links Lady Bay on the Fleurieu Peninsula; and Grand Mercure Busselton near the Margaret River vineyards in Western Australia. Grand Mercure is one of the fastest-growing upmarket hotel brands in Australia.

Accor, the European leader and a major global group in hotels, the global leader in services to corporate clients and public institutions, operates in nearly 100 countries with 170,000 employees. It offers to its clients over 40 years of expertise in its two core businesses:

* Hotels, with the Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel, Ibis, All Seasons, Etap Hotel, Formule 1 and Motel 6 brands, representing more than 4,000 hotels and nearly 500,000 rooms in 90 countries, as well as strategically related activities, such as LenĂ´tre.
* Services, with 23 million people in nearly 40 countries benefiting from Accor Services products in human resources, marketing services and expense management.

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