Saturday 31 October 2009

Hottest Deals from BreakFree

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

TRI THESE FOR NOOSA VALUE: If you're in the race for great accommodation deals for the upcoming Noosa Triathlon and Multi Sports Festival, it's time to get on your bike and book with BreakFree. The picturesque surroundings of Noosa's National Park, tranquil beaches and vibrant Hastings Street provide the backdrop for the famous annual event which rolls into town from October 28 to November 1. Visitors can enjoy the fun, fine food and atmosphere of the big event in comfort and style, with resort operator BreakFree offering a selection of quality properties close to all the action in Noosa. For example, BreakFree Noosa International is available during the festival period from just $127* per room per night for a one bedroom apartment. Alternatively BreakFree Ocean Breeze is the perfect base from which to absorb all the excitement of tri time in Noosa, with one bedroom apartments available from $132* per room per night. BreakFree South Pacific is another great choice for the sports festival where one bedroom apartments start from $142* per room per night. Also BreakFree French Quarter has accommodation from $169* per room per night for a one bedroom apartment. For bookings or further information phone 132 007 or visit

AFFORDABLE BEACH BREAK, WITH A FRENCH TWIST: Offering a continental atmosphere, stylish low rise architecture, tall shady trees and a promenade of fine restaurants, boutiques and bustling cafes, Hastings Street is the traditional hub of Noosa holiday activity. Visitors enjoy the added advantage of being on the doorstep of beautiful Main Beach, where the relaxing waters of Laguna Bay wash away the stresses of everyday life. Situated less than 50m from the beach and right on Hastings Street, BreakFree French Quarter is a haven of privacy and fabulous resort facilities providing the perfect base to experience the best that Noosa has to offer. Its air conditioned units reflect a grand French Pacific style in a uniquely Noosa manner while other features include a heated lagoon style pool with two spas, a sauna, children's wading pool, baby sitting service and licensed restaurant and bar right next door. Now is the ideal time to escape to BreakFree French Quarter where one bedroom apartments are available from just $169* per room per night valid to December 30, 2009 with two-night minimum stays and blockout periods applying, Phone 132 007 or visit

CRUISE IN FOR CALOUNDRA MUSIC FESTIVAL: October is the ideal time to cruise into Caloundra for a well earned beach holiday when the town comes alive to the sun, surf and soul of its annual music festival. To be held from October 22-25, the Caloundra Music Festival has again drawn a stellar line up of artistic talent including the Hoodoo Gurus, Augie March, Josh Pyke, James Reyne, Toni Childs, Noiseworks and more. Their popular sounds will reverberate around the scenic Kings Beach area of town in a family friendly weekend which also features a colourful street parade, roving performers, beach-side carnival, buskers, markets, free children's entertainment and more in a celebration of culture, community and the environment. One of Caloundra's favourite waterfront holiday properties, BreakFree Grand Pacific hits the right note for music fans with rates available during the festival period from just $199* per room per night for a one bedroom garden view apartment. Phone 132 007 or visit

SAVANNAH SAVINGS: Only a short stroll from the beach and close to Jupiters Casino, Pacific Fair Shopping Centre and the Gold Coast Convention Centre, BreakFree Savannah is an ideal holiday choice for families and couples. Now is the perfect time for a Gold Coast getaway, staying at this quality property in the heart of cosmopolitan Broadbeach where one bedroom studio apartments are available from just $128* per room per night including continental breakfast for two daily. The offer is valid to November 1, 2009. Combining African themes, quality features and a great location, BreakFree Savannah is the ideal perfect base for an unforgettable Gold Coast escape. Phone 132 007 or visit

RIGHT ROYAL VALUE: Tropical North Queensland is at its tantalising best right now with resort operator BreakFree offering four nights for the price of three at one of the destination's best-loved properties. Guests who book four nights in a one bedroom garden apartment at BreakFree Royal Harbour from just $141* per room per night will only pay for three nights, valid for sale until December 18 and for travel to December 22, 2009. Located on the Cairns Esplanade overlooking the harbour and within walking distance to the casino, night markets, restaurant precinct and swimming lagoon, BreakFree Royal Harbour is the perfect base for a tropical getaway where the World Heritage wonders of rainforest and reef provide a stunning backdrop to a holiday to be treasured forever. Phone 132 007 or visit

SEE THE LIGHT: A unique seaside village with a relaxed alternative lifestyle and clean, unspoilt beaches - Byron Bay is a beacon for holidaymakers the world over. Offering a special mix of arts, entertainment, attractions and natural beauty, it is a sought after destination for leisure seekers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Now is the ideal time to break free to Byron, where guests can enjoy four nights for the price of three at one of the town's most popular resorts. Holidaymakers booking four nights in a studio room at BreakFree Eco Beach from just $145* per room per night will only pay for three nights valid for sale until December 18 and for travel to December 24, 2009. Suitable for both couples and families, BreakFree Eco Beach is located within easy access to the centre of Byron with its eclectic blend of cafes, dining options and unique shopping outlets. Phone 132 007 or visit

BIG SAVINGS ON LITTLE BOURKE: BreakFree Heritage on Little Bourke is centrally located in Melbourne's bustling hub with an array of shopping, art galleries, cafes, bars and theatres and the cultural landmark of Federation Square right on the doorstep. The refined apartment-style accommodation boasts original elevated ceilings and magnificent soaring windows that echo BreakFree Heritage on Little Bourke's vibrant past. The hotel pays homage to the elegant architectural style that is also a famous trademark of Melbourne City. Now is the perfect time to enjoy the magic of Melbourne staying at BreakFree Heritage on Little Bourke where guests booking four nights Thursday to Sunday in a Run of House room from $172* per room per night will only pay for three nights, valid for sale until December 18 and for travel to December 24, 2009. For bookings or further information phone 132 007 or visit

* Conditions and minimum stays apply. Subject to availability.

Latest news and deals from Mantra Resorts

Travel Briefs and Hot Deals from Mantra Hotels, Resorts and Apartments

BUNBURY'S THE BEST: Holidaymakers have known it for years but now it's official - the beautiful waterfront destination of Bunbury has been named Western Australia's top tourist spot. Bunbury has been recognised as WA's best place for a well-earned break, taking out the 2009 GWN Top Tourist Town award. Bunbury's unique attributes including great mix of tourist attractions, Koombana Bay dolphins, natural beauty, cosmopolitan downtown precinct and regional and historical character led to the win. One of the best places to holiday whilst enjoying the best of Bunbury is Mantra Bunbury which offers stylish studio apartments in a prime location overlooking Koombana Bay. Part of the heritage-listed Bunbury Silos precinct and surrounded by restaurants, cafes and bars, the property offers a host of first class facilities catering for both leisure travellers and corporate guests at the gateway to the world-renowned WA Southwest and Ferguson Valley wine country. These include a heated saltwater pool, tennis courts, office and business services, indulgent Escape Day Spa and Silos Bar and Café offering delicious light meals and an extensive wine list drawing on local favourites. Call 13 15 17 or visit,

PAVILLIONS PICKS UP HAT-TRICK: Mantra Pavillions Mirage on 1770 at Agnes Water has received another major honour at the 2009 Central Queensland and Southern Great Barrier Reef Tourism Awards, winning best Deluxe Accommodation for the third year running. An annual competition across the combined Capricorn, Gladstone and Bundaberg regions, the awards recognise excellence in tourism and service standards. Mantra Group regional general manager Winston Hall said the award was a tremendous distinction for the resort and for the communities of Agnes Water and The Town of 1770. He said the resort's success was due to a combination of having a great product and great staff who provided a fantastic service for customers. An ideal destination to relax and revive, the resort features fabulous facilities including 25 metre lap pool, children's wading pool, heated outdoor plunge pool and spa, barbecue area landscaped gardens and direct access to the pristine beach just 80m away. Call 13 15 17 or visit

STORYBOOK ESCAPE: Leading Darwin hotel, Mantra on the Esplanade, has enhanced its standing as the perfect base for a "storybook" escape to the mythical Top End, being immortalized in the latest novel by Australia's queen of fiction, Di Morrissey. Partially set in Darwin with characters staying at the Mantra property, Di's newest book The Silent Country traces the story of a television executive investigating an ill-fated and mysterious journey into the Australian wilderness by a documentary maker 50 years ago. With 16 consecutive best sellers to her name, The Silent Country is tipped to be another smash hit for Di Morrissey and a wonderful chapter in the history of Mantra which is delighted to be featuring in the works of one of Australia's most successful writers. Mantra on the Esplanade offers guests an unrivalled location near Darwin Harbour and the convenience of close proximity to Darwin's CBD. The 4 .5 star property boasts panoramic views across the harbour, out to the Arafura Sea and presents the ideal vantage point from which to experience a famous Northern Territory sunset. Call 13 15 17 or visit

Hot Deals

PARTY IN PARADISE: For a legendary time in the heart of Surfers Paradise this party season, Mantra has an accommodation deal worth celebrating. Mantra Legends Hotel is the perfect base for a fun Gold Coast getaway, where you can stay out late and enjoy the added bonus of a recovery breakfast and late checkout from just $149* per room per night for a hotel room, based on minimum stays of two nights and valid to December 20, 2009. Just minutes from the Gold Coast's best bars, clubs and restaurants, Mantra Legends Hotel features a 24 hour reception, on-site bar and restaurant, in-room mini-bars and balconies to make guests really feel like they're on the A-list. Phone 55 88 7888 or visit

PARK, STAY AND FLY: New Melbourne hotel Mantra Tullamarine has let fly with a great range of packages to take the hassle and stress out of early-morning departures and late-night arrivals for air travellers. The sleek, contemporary property is offering special Park, Stay and Fly deals from $200* per room including overnight accommodation in an Executive Studio, three days parking and return airport transfers for two people, valid to December 30, 2009. Perfect for putting your feet up before or after take off, Mantra Tullamarine features 277 spacious rooms consisting of executive, executive spa and deluxe studios, four suites and a penthouse. With long-term parking next door, shuttle bus services to and from the airport, airline check in services, a stylish bar and restaurant and 24-hour rooms service, Mantra Tullamarine takes care of every detail to provide the perfect accommodation base for travellers in transit. Call 13 15 17 or visit

FOURTH NIGHT FREE AS THE BREEZE: Now is ideal time to consider a rejuvenating escape to Port Douglas, where Mantra is offering four nights for the price of three at one of the destination's most sought-after properties. Located just one minutes walk from tranquil Four Mile Beach and a leisurely stroll from trendy Macrossan Street, Mantra PortSea offers an abundance of relaxation choices. Of the three swimming pools, the large central lagoon pool features a swim-up pool bar, with water slide, spas and waterfalls. There's also a fully equipped fitness studio and tennis court for the energetic, but if it's pampering you're after, try a signature massage from the PortSea Beauty & Body Salon onsite. Guests booking four nights in a hotel room from just $136* per room per night will only pay for three nights, valid for sale until December 18 and for travel to December 22, 2009. Call 13 15 17 or visit

*Conditions, minimum stays and block out periods apply. Subject to change and availability.

Friday 30 October 2009

Blanket Bay Voted the Best by USA Conde Nast Travellers

New Zealand's Blanket Bay at Glenorchy has been named the No. 3 accommodation property in the world and the best hotel in Oceania by readers of the influential American travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler. It is the only property in New Zealand to have made the Top 100 List.

Blanket Bay owner Tom Tusher was overwhelmed and humbled by the announcement: "We are so small and so out of the way, and are just amazed at the regard our guests have for our property. Conde Nast Traveler has a huge circulation and is the bible for discerning travellers, particularly in the North American market."

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton said it was a great result for Blanket Bay and New Zealand. "Blanket Bay was also recently recognised by British Conde Nast readers when it was named 'Best Leisure Hotel in Australasia'. This second award is another real achievement for the hotel and this kind of coverage is a wonderful way for New Zealand to get noticed in very competitive long-haul markets," Mr Hickton added.

Mr Tusher said New Zealand is unique in that all the best accommodation is in small, luxury lodges and that this meets the travel style of today's discerning traveller.

"Today's traveller is healthier and more adventurous and is looking for the personalised attention small properties can offer," he said. This is good news for New Zealand and fantastic for us in Glenorchy because we are in a pristine and beautiful place that offers the widest possible range of adventure. For many North American travellers, this area offers a package of Switzerland, Norway and Napa Valley rolled into one."

The standards of excellence maintained by Blanket Bay staff, many of whom have been with the property since it opened its doors 10 years ago, have contributed heavily to its success. "We have been very fortunate to secure and hold an amazing team of people including the very best chefs, managers, housekeepers and gardeners, all committed to ensuring every moment our guests spend with us is a superb experience. Our aim has always been to deliver the highest standards and service levels and to be well regarded internationally", comments Mr Tusher.

In the 10 years since opening in December 1999, Blanket Bay has enjoyed a dramatic climb into the ranks the world's best properties with an awards list that ranges from building honours through to Hotel Management Awards, several awards won by individuals of its culinary team and annual places on various lists of the world's best accommodation properties.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Focus on Facebook photos for travel promotions

Photos posted on social networking sites such as Facebook have significant but largely untapped potential as promotional tools for the tourism industry, a Victoria University researcher says.

Marketing lecturer Dr Leanne White said more than 500 million photos are posted on Facebook each month, making it the largest source of online photographs.

“Sites such as Facebook enable us to experience tourism destinations vicariously through the experiences of our friends,” Dr White said.

“This has enormous potential for the online promotion of tourist destinations in the industry through links and tools such as Travel Recommender Systems (TRS), applications that e-commerce sites exploit to suggest products to potential customers.

“In the highly democratised world of the internet, one person’s travel snapshots can easily become part of another person’s travel plans.”

Dr White examined the travel photo albums of 10 Facebook users for a recent study, analysing their use of travel photographs.

The five women and five men who participated in the study had an average of 132 Facebook friends. Both groups posted large numbers of travel photos on their Facebook pages – the men averaged 122 each and the women 108.

She found that those who posted photos of travel spots with people in them received more comments than those whose pictures contained no people.

“This reinforces our understanding of human nature: we humans thrive on communication and connection with each other. Facebook facilitates this need and its potential for the travel industry is only just starting to be realised.”

Sunday 25 October 2009

Breakfast on the Bridge

Source: AFP

Thousands sat down to breakfast on the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Sunday after the iconic structure was closed to traffic and carpeted with grass for the first time for a giant picnic.

About 6,000 early risers were on the steel bridge from 6:30 am to take part in the two-hour event designed to showcase Sydney's best food and outdoor lifestyle.

As accordion players and trumpeters provided the background music, those who had won tickets to the picnic in a random lottery munched on fruit, pastries, muesli, yoghurt, and the staple Australian breakfast spread Vegemite.

"It's amazing to see the bridge in this perspective," said Sydneysider Don Fuchs of the structure which is used by about 100,000 cars daily.

"Usually you sit in the car, you cross it, and that's it."

"It was beautiful," said Linda Curnow who attended the picnic with her family. "The grass was so thick it was like being in your back yard."

New South Wales state Premier Nathan Rees said the event was set to become an annual feature of Sydney's month-long October food festival.

About 45,000 people applied for tickets to the breakfast for which people brought their own food but were able to taste samples from some of the state's best producers.

"I don't think we were ever doubtful of the success of this event today," a government spokesman told AFP. "It was a unique world first for this iconic attraction. This type of event typifies the Australian personality."

Organisers are planning to use about 40 percent of the grass on Sydney parks.

Saturday 24 October 2009

Taste Port Douglas new dining experience

Wine flights and matching tasting plates have landed in Port Douglas' award winning restaurants.

A new venture, Taste Port Douglas,  has created a range of exceptional progressive dining tours designed to please the ultimate culinary groupie.

Local chefs are promising to tantalize your taste buds by producing amazing flavours from around the region and indeed around the world while showcasing their ability to turn food into an art piece.

Taste Port Douglas will take your palate on a tour through the vineyards of Australia with a new concept in wine tasting:   Wine Flights.   Guests will be indulged with several wines that are matched perfectly with each venue's tasting plate.

Taste Port Douglas progressive culinary tours begin at the iconic Courthouse Hotel upstairs in the Sunset Lounge where guests receive a welcome drink and meet their guide for the evening ahead.

Then, a guided stroll to three different, award winning Port Douglas restaurants, each eager to show off their best food and wine.

Taste Port Douglas progressive dinner tours are available Wednesday through to Sunday and lunch is available Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  All tours have been arranged so guests can easily walk to all three restaurants. The business is owned and operated by Port Douglas entrepreneurs Monique Leman and Corrine Durie, who identified a niche for 'organised gourmet grazing'.

Strolling between the restaurants, the ladies tell guests tales of Port's heritage and a rolling history of the eateries to be visited (along with just enough local gossip to pique your appetite!)  Both Corrine and Monique are highly experienced hosts, with backgrounds in organising conferences and events, and even operating their own restaurants.

"Our new venture is all about making friends and enjoying great food," says Corrine Durie.

Progressive tours are priced at Lunch from $89 pp.,  dinner from $149 pp.  Prices include meals, wine flights, plus breads, coffee and tea.  Luxury vehicle return transfers from Port resorts to the Courthouse Hotel can be arranged for an extra $40 per person. 

For more, visit    

Specials include:
Taste of Sea, Sailing & Land from $169  (includes an evening sail on Sailaway IV before dinner)
Taste of Indulgence from $350 (includes transfers, luncheon and spa treatment at Silky Oaks Lodge & Healing Waters Spa).

Friday 23 October 2009



Hawaiian Airlines this morning launched a hot new range of air fares to Honolulu from 20 destinations around Australia.

The "Return To Paradise" Economy Class deals are priced from $877 return ex Sydney, including pre-payable taxes.

They are available for sale from today until 03 November, for departures from Australia between 01 February and 25 March, 2010, and again from 17 April until 30 June.

"The Australian dollar is now trading at 92 US cents, while air fares from Australia to the USA have never been more competitive," said Sherilyn Robinson, General Manager Sales and Marketing for Hawaiian Airlines in Australia.

 "Hawaii is popular both with first-time visitors and with those wanting to return to paradise in order to relive past adventures or to see even more of the Aloha state," said Ms Robinson.  "And with prices at these levels, what better time to book a new year holiday in Hawaii?"

Return to Paradise fares, including taxes, are:

From Sydney:  $877

From Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay, Gold Coast, Maroochydore, Hervey Bay:   $1057

From Adelaide, Hobart, Launceston, Albury, Rockhampton, Mackay, Proserpine, Townsville and Cairns:   $1217

From Perth:   $1377

Taxes are correct at 23 October, 2009, but may change without notice. Seats are limited at these prices. Australian domestic flights are provided by partner airlines.

Hawaiian Airlines flies three times weekly from Sydney to Honolulu, departing mid evening every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, crossing the international dateline and arriving mid morning the same day into Honolulu.

After clearing US Customs, passengers can be in their hotels, big brand shopping or on world-famous Waikiki Beach by early afternoon.

For more information or to make a booking, call Hawaiian Airlines on the consumer booking line 1300 669 106 or contact travel agents. For more information about Hawaiian Airlines, visit

Thursday 22 October 2009

Swissôtel Sydney Voted Best In Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands

After 52,000 votes and 2,800 nominations, Swissôtel Sydney has been awarded the HotelClub Awards premier accolade of Top 3 Hotels in Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands at the 4th HotelClub Hotel Awards ceremony held recently in Sydney. Swissôtel Sydney also walked away with the Best Hotel in New South Wales and Best Hotel in Oceania award, truly deserving the title of 'one of the most popular hotels within the Oceania region'. 

Presented by leading consumer-driven global accommodation website operator, the HotelClub Awards 2009 reflects demands of the industry, recognising Best Hotels and Resorts in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands region, as well as top hotels in each Australian state and territory, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. First presented in 2006, the HotelClub Awards are driven by travellers with firsthand experience and are based on an accumulation of world-wide consumer votes who select their choice of best hotels in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.  

Said Wayne Horbach, General Manager of Swissôtel Sydney, "We are deeply honoured to have received such an outstanding award not only for Australia but also the Oceania region. This award is especially significant to us as the votes have come from our guests and it is gratifying to know that they recognise our efforts and our unrelenting commitment to excellence." 

"I am extremely proud of my team for living up to the Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts' credo of 'A Passion for Perfection' and we look forward to sharing our warm Swiss hospitality with many more guests in the coming years," he adds. 

Winners are decided entirely by consumers through an online global survey on the website based on the following criteria: ambience, family friendliness, rooms, restaurants, cleanliness, business facilities, location, leisure facilities, staff attitude and value for money.  

About Swissôtel Sydney (

Situated in the heart of Sydney's prime tourist, shopping and business districts, the award-winning Swissôtel Sydney is mere walking distance from Sydney's renowned attractions including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House and the historic Rocks precinct as well as some of Australia's most celebrated restaurants. Endless shopping options abound from the hotel's doorstep while an underground walkway connects guests to Sydney's railway hub – Town Hall station with the monorail service just minutes away on foot.

Book Early for Europe 2010 with THAI and Take a Thailand Side-trip for Free*

Plan an escape in 2010 to Europe and Thailand. THAI’s 2010 Early Bird fares offer a smorgasbord of choices to meet the needs of today’s most discerning travellers… only THAI give travellers the option to include free* side trip within Thailand – choose from Phuket, Chiang Mai or Koh Samui – and stopover in Thailand on the way to and/or* from Europe.

Fares start at $1049 return plus taxes from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; from $1,009 return plus taxes ex Perth.

Book by 06 Dec ’09, travel between 01 Apr ’10 and 31 Oct ’10.

THAI’s Early Bird Europe smorgasbord of choices includes:
• A free* side trip within Thailand to and/or from Europe – Phuket, Koh Samui or Chiang Mai
• A choice of 13 major cities in Europe and the UK – London, Paris, Rome, Milan, Zurich, Athens, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Moscow, Frankfurt, Munich or Madrid.
• A choice of fare depending on the level of flexibility required
• Booking classes ‘W’ and ‘V’ class are combinable and subject to availability – seats are limited

Children and infants are also included in the Early Bird sale with child fare discounts 75% of adult fares and infants (not occupying a seat) paying 20% of the adult fares.

Stopovers are permitted once in Bangkok without charge on all fares.
For more information and bookings, contact travel agents or log on to

*Conditions apply. Taxes must be added to all fares quoted. For example, the taxes on a return journey to Rome start from $621 for travel ex Sydney. Tax amounts are subject to change with the bank rate and the final confirmed itinerary.

The free* side trip offer includes free flights from Bangkok to a choice of THAI domestic destinations and additional taxes of approximately $58 per person return will apply. The number of stopovers allowed on the itinerary is subject to the booking class. Check with travel agents for full terms and conditions.

About THAI :
Thai Airways International flies 47 times a week from Australia to Bangkok with non-stop connections from Bangkok to a choice of 13 major cities in Europe and the UK; and to over 70 destinations worldwide.

THAI flies 3 times a day from Sydney; twice daily from Melbourne; daily from Perth and 5 times a week from Brisbane.

THAI’s modern fleet on the Australian routes include the Airbus A330-300 (Perth) and Boeing 777-300 and Boeing 777-200ER, both with a 2-class Royal Silk Business and Economy Class (Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney); the A340-600 aircraft with 3-class Royal First, Royal Silk Business and Economy Class (Sydney). All aircraft types feature the latest in seat facilities and amenities with personal entertainment systems for all passengers.

THAI’s unique style of service and hospitality is world-renowned and an integral part of the airline’s reputation as one of the world’s leading full service carriers.

Fares are now available for travel across THAI’s network in Economy, Royal Silk and Royal First Class for travel until 31 March 2011. Fares allowing combinations of Economy and Royal Silk or Royal Silk and Royal First Class are also available and on application through travel agents.

Special ‘flight specific’ weekday fares are available ex Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth for a limited time only.

Christmas in Santa's Land

Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in Finland and the festivities culminate on Christmas Eve when Finns traditionally take a sauna, enjoy Christmas delicacies, relax with family and friends and, if they’re lucky, get a visit from Santa. However, the Christmas season starts as early as November with an abundance of activities.

St Thomas markets set the scene for Christmas

St Thomas market is a great way to start Christmas preparations and get on the Christmas mood. According to the Finnish tradition, Christmas is brought to the homes by St. Thomas on December 21 and taken away by the St. Knut on 13th January. By St Thomas day on December 21 all Christmas preparations should be ready.

The markets are known for their handmade Christmas decorations, ornaments, handicrafts, gifts and baked goods, such as hard ginger bread. For many visitors one of the highlights of the markets is the hot mulled wine, Glögi that helps to ward off the crispy winter air.

Turku Christmas Fair at the Old Great Square creates a Christmassy atmosphere for the townspeople. The stalls sell premium quality products as all of the handicrafts and baked goods are chosen by a specific jury. This year, the fair takes place on four weekends before Christmas starting on November 28.

St Thomas Market in Helsinki Esplanade Park is the biggest Christmas market in Finland with close to 150 vendors in red wooden stalls. On weekends Santa Claus visits the markets and a Finnish Christmas pageant Star Boys is played. The market is open daily from December 7 to 20.

Lucia with crown of candles brings light into darkness
On St. Lucia’s Day on December 13 thousands of people gather at the Helsinki Cathedral to watch a young woman to be crowned as St. Lucy, or simply Lucia. The crowning is followed by a procession through the city where Lucia greets the public wearing a white gown and a crown of lingonberry twigs and candles.

Lucia tradition is based on the legend of virgin-martyr St. Lucia, who was killed during the persecutions of the Christians in 304 AD. The commemoration day of St. Lucia is December 13 which used to be the shortest day, the winter solstice, under the old Julian calendar.

Lucia is a symbol of charity, compassion and light and the festivities entail a collection of money for a good cause. Lucia is elected from a group of young female candidates. The tradition came to Finland from Sweden and has been celebrated in its current form since 1949.

Santa Claus, Father Christmas and the original Joulupukki
Santa Claus, or Joulupukki in Finnish, is known to reside in the North East of Lapland, on the Korvatunturi Fell. The legend tells that the Korvatunturi Fell has a unique shape of an ear that allows Santa to hear the wishes of the children from around the world.

Luckily Santa doesn’t spend all his time at Korvatunturi, but visits for example the capital of Lapland, Rovaniemi, situated on the Arctic Circle.

Santa Claus Village open throughout the year hosts the Santa Claus’ Office where you can meet the Santa himself and Santa Claus’ Main Post Office where you can observe the flurry of the festive season. Cards, letters and parcels sent from Santa Claus’ Main Post Office are franked with a special Arctic Circle postmark, which you can’t get anywhere else.

Through the years Santa Claus of Finland has received over eight million letters. He gets over 600 000 letters every year from over 150 countries. The address to Santa is: Santa Claus, Santa Claus Village, FIN-96930 Arctic Circle, Finland.
Entrance to the Village is free. For more information on Santa Claus Village visit

SantaPark is a Christmas fantasy world build inside an underground cave cavern where bustle of the elves continues all year round. The guests can bake and decorate gingerbreads in the
Gingerbread Kitchen, learn elf skills in the Elf School or make Christmas decorations in the Elf Workshop. SantaPark’s Sleigh Ride takes the guests through the four seasons of Finland and plunges straight into the elves’ toy factory, where the presents for upcoming Christmas are already being made.
Entrance is 20€ for children, 25€ for adults. Winter season, November 28 – January 10, open daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. For exceptions in the opening times and further information visit

The City of Turku declares Christmas Peace
The Declaration of Christmas Peace on December 24 at noon marks the official beginning of Christmas. Thousands of people gather to listen to the declaration that has taken place at the Old Square in Turku since the 1320's almost uninterruptedly, with only a few exceptions.

The declaration is addressed to "all the townspeople" and is nowadays completed with a humanitarian and ecumenical message. The present-day Christmas Declaration was written down from memory by the Town Clerk after the Great Fire of Turku in the early 1800’s. The Declaration has been aired on radio since 1935 and televised since 1983.

For more information please see
Visit Finland at
Visit Finland image bank at

New Adventures on the Oldest Continent: Africa

Peregrine Adventures has launched its 2010-2011 Africa programme, with a series of short trips that can be linked together to form a ‘made-to-measure’ itinerary that goes beyond the game parks to experience the energy and diversity of the world’s oldest inhabited continent.

Working with local community groups, fair-trade local operators and venturing beyond the usual touring routes, the range of adventures combines visits to some of Africa’s best game parks; high quality accommodation and amenities with insights – through the eyes of local leaders - to the history and cultures of the continent.

The eight-day Mozambique Explorer adventure begins with two days in the Parque National do Limpopo which, together with Kruger National Park, forms one of the world’s largest wilderness conservation areas, totalling 3.3 million hectares. The base for guided walks and game drives is Machampane Wilderness Camp, with its luxury tents overlooking the river. It’s a drive through lush hills to the sleepy village of Chidenguele, where the restaurants on the lakeshore prepare some of Mozambique’s freshest seafood.

Dhows have plied their trade from Inhambane since the 11th century, but today the rustic coastal town is emerging as a world-class diving destination – one of a few places on the planet where it’s possible to swim with whale sharks and manta rays. Here, the lodge accommodation is a series of over-water chalets, perfectly positioned to view the resident flocks of flamingos and the spectacular African sunsets. The final stop is the vibrant capital of Maputo – regaining its reputation as the night-life capital of Southern Africa.

The Mozambique Explorer departs from Maputo monthly between May and November and costs $4350 per person, twin share. It has been designed to easily combine with other Peregrine trips through Botswana, Zambia and South Africa.

The 12-day South African Footprints adventure begins with three days at the private Timbavati Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park, where walks and game drives offer a good chance of spotting the Big Five. Accommodation is in comfortable chalets at the fair trade-certified Umlani Camp. A visit to Blyde River Canyon includes time in a nearby Shangaan tribal village for a breathtaking dance display. The tour continues to Swaziland and the Mkhaya Game Reserve – a local success story in animal protection through breeding programs.

Contrasting the natural attractions, the tour visits the ‘Battlefields’ – the sites of historic battles between the Boers, British and Zulus that shaped modern-day South Africa. The dramatic Drakensberg Mountains are the setting for two days of optional hiking, horse-riding and fishing before the trip ends in Durban.

The South African Footprints adventure has monthly departures from Johannesburg, year-round, costing $4375 per person, twin share, and can be combined with the nine-day Classic Garden Route tour to travel the length of the South Africa.

The cost of all Peregrine trips includes carbon off-setting the land and domestic air portion of the trip. For further information call your travel agent or Peregrine Travel Centre on 1300 854 500. Download a .pdf of the new Africa brochure or watch a video of Peregrine’s African adventures at

Ski Under The Stars At Alyeska - Alaska's Premier Ski Resort

1. Alyeska Resort to open bigger than ever
Alyeska Resort opens to skiers and snowboarders in late November, and with the addition of brand new terrain, extended night skiing, special packages and Alaska’s first superpipe, the 2009-2010 season offers something for everyone. Located just 40 miles south of Anchorage, Alyeska Resort features 2,500 vertical feet of skiable terrain, and, after this summer’s trail work, boasts an additional five ski runs. The new Alyeska Pipeline Superpipe — used by advanced skiers and snowboarders for stunts — measures 300 feet long, 55 feet wide and with walls 18 feet tall. This winter, Alyeska will extend night skiing operations for an additional two weeks (through March 27) allowing spring breakers more hours to ski under the stars. Special packages at Alyeska highlighting the resort spa and other amenities are available online. Alyeska Resort sees an average annual snowfall of 750 inches and boasts the longest continuous double black diamond ski run in North America. For more information, visit

2. Talkeetna offers quirky alternatives to climbing Mount McKinley
Each year over 1,000 hopeful mountaineers travel to Talkeetna to attempt to scale North America’s great one: Mount McKinley. But Talkeetna is also renowned for its fun and quirky festivals that draw Alaskans and visitors alike to the small town located 113 miles north of Anchorage. Talkeetna Winterfest takes place each December and includes a full month of events, kicking off with the Bachelor Auction and Ball and the Wilderness Woman Contest. During the Wilderness Woman Contest, single Alaskan women demonstrate their proficiency at a variety of tasks necessary for life on the Last Frontier — all in good fun, of course. Competitions include firewood gathering, driving a snow machine, salmon catching, sandwich making and more. After the crowning of the Wilderness Woman, the bidding begins at the annual Bachelor Society Benefit Auction and Bachelor Ball. Talkeetna bachelors spruce up and entertain the crowd to raise money for local charities. The 2009 festivities kick off Dec. 5. For more information, visit Travelers stopping by Talkeetna to take part in the hubbub can explore the surrounding wilderness on a snowshoe tour with Alaska Nature Guides. Visit to learn more.

3. Hammer enthusiasts create unlikely brotherhood
The world’s first museum devoted to the humble hammer, in Haines, Alaska, now has company in Linkmenys, Lithuania. Located in Alaska’s Inside Passage, the Haines museum has over 1,500 hammers on display that date from Roman times to the present. Open since 2001 and until recently the only museum of its kind, the quirky Haines Hammer Museum is a tribute to man’s first tool and provides a unique view of the past through the use of the hammer’s lineage. Founder Dave Pahl began communicating with Lithuanian hammer enthusiasts a few years ago. Finally, the unlikely allies met this summer in Haines, both glad to have company in their passion for hammers. The two forces have plans to publish a reference book together about the history of hammers. For more information, contact the Haines Hammer Museum at To learn more about visiting Haines, visit

4. Pike’s Waterfront Lodge earns Green Star Award
Pike’s Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks is clean and green. Last month, the hotel was presented a Green Star award for its commitment to running operations in an efficient and environmentally responsible way. Green Star is an Alaska-based non-profit organization that encourages businesses to practice waste reduction, energy conservation and pollution prevention. Since opening in 2000, Pike’s has been committed to lowering its carbon footprint by reducing reliance on diesel, using environmentally friendly substances, installing solar energy and reducing waste. The hotel has also teamed with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Future Farmers of America to develop its own hydroponics program to grow food locally. In the reuse and recycle arena, Pike’s goes a step beyond simply asking guests to keep their towels more than a day – the hotel recycles oil, antifreeze and batteries in addition to normal plastics and paper. Located on the banks of the Chena River, Pike’s Waterfront Lodge offers rooms with a view and all the amenities for a comfortable, relaxed stay. For more information, visit

5. Spotlight on 50th: Sitka’s Alaska Day festival
This October, the Inside Passage town of Sitka will pay special tribute to Alaska’s 50th anniversary during the Alaska Day festival, Oct. 9-18. The actual transfer ceremony occurred in Sitka on Oct. 18 when the United States purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867. The annual Alaska Day festival includes a reenactment of the transfer, a period costume ball, dances, dinners, contests and a parade. For information, visit

Travelzoo Surpasses 300,000 Subscribers in Australia

Travelzoo (NASDAQ: TZOO), a global Internet media company, today announced it has surpassed 300,000 subscribers for its Australian publication of the Top 20™ newsletter since launching only 18 months ago.

Travelzoo is fast becoming Australia's leading travel media website. In just 12 months, Travelzoo moved 23 places to rank 5th in its category1, with an increase in market share of over 500% comparing August 2009 and August 2008, according to Experian Hitwise. This makes Travelzoo the fastest growing website in its category.

Travelzoo General Manager for Australia and Singapore, Brad Gurrie said, "With deals such as 5-Star accommodation for $49, flights across Australia for $10, $1 campervan relocations and $177 return flights to Bali, it's easy to see why Australians are embracing Travelzoo as their preferred source of the best travel deals".

"In the current economic environment, deals continue to flood the market. This has reinforced to consumers that sales are never far away. But with more than 18,0002websites offering travel related products, services and information to the Australian population, it's not feasible for individual consumers to evaluate all the options thoroughly. It's increasingly difficult for them to tell a wow deal from an everyday offer".

Gurrie said "Our subscribers know they can rely on us to do the hard work of scouring the market to find the hottest deals and rigourously testing every one to ensure they offer extraordinary value and are easy to book. This trust coupled with the natural tendency of Australians to tell their friends about great deals, has fuelled the rapid growth of our subscriber database".

Travelzoo operates independently with the mission to provide its users the highest quality information on the very best deals available in the market. Travelzoo is not associated with an online travel agency or a business conglomerate.

1Experian Hitwise data is based on market share of visits to the 'Travel – Agencies' category by Australian Internet users. There were 2,296 websites measured in this category in August 2009.

2Experian Hitwise collects data on 18,152 websites in the 'Travel' category visited by Australian Internet users.

About Travelzoo

Travelzoo is a global Internet media company. Travelzoo's media properties, which reach more than 18 million travel enthusiasts in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, Taiwan and the U.K., include the Travelzoo® Web site (, the Top 20® list, the Newsflash™ e-mail alert service, the Travelzoo Network™, the SuperSearch™ search tool, and the™ search engine ( Travelzoo publishes offers from more than 1,000 advertisers from around the world. Travelzoo's deal experts review offers to find the best travel deals and confirm their true value. Travelzoo's global headquarters is in New York City.

About the Australian Travelzoo Top 20™

The Top to subscribe. ™ is a definitive list of the very best travel deals on the web. It is published in Australia at 11am every Wednesday and sent in an email newsletter to over 300,000 Australian Travelzoo subscribers. Travelzoo publishes only the best offers available in the marketplace. Subscription is free. Visit to subscribe.

Join Peppers as we celebrate 25 years

October is a month of celebration at Peppers, join us as we celebrate our 25th anniversary.

This month the gifts are on us as we offer you, our valued guests some fabulous anniversary specials, surprise a few lucky guests with beautiful jewellery and take you back to where it all began at Peppers Guest House in the Hunter Valley. Direct from the Peppers kitchen is a tantalising celebratory dish for you to try at home and to top it all off we are giving you the chance to win the ultimate Peppers prize.

Peppers 25 years Anniversary Celebrations

Come celebrate with us during our 25th anniversary. We have put together a selection of special celebration packages offering you up to 25% off on your stay at Peppers Retreats, Resorts and Hotels.

Indulge and spoil yourself during selected dates between 19 October - 23 December 2009. FIND OUT MORE

A silver gift beneath your pillow?

Silver anniversaries are best celebrated with fine wine, gourmet food, excellent company and, of course, beautiful jewellery. To celebrate 25 years of Peppers, in November we are surprising one lucky guest each week at each Peppers Retreat or Resort in Australia by slipping something special under their pillow.

Acclaimed jewellery designer Carney McCarthy has created a very special 25th anniversary necklace for Peppers, which features 25 handcrafted pebbles scattered in a contemporary, cascading design. Book your November stay and it could be you. FIND OUT MORE

In celebration of our 25th anniversary we are offering one special past Peppers guest the ultimate Peppers prize - a 4 night family holiday at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa plus a 2 night couple's escape at a Peppers Retreat.

Destination of the Month
Come back to where it all began, to Peppers Guest House in the Hunter Valley. Nestled in the heart of the Hunter Valley wine country and surrounded by beautiful gardens and vineyards, Peppers Guest House is one of the Hunter's best loved retreats.


Tiger launches Sydney-Gold Coast route

Tiger Airways has just announced it will commence operating daily services between Sydney and the Gold Coast from the 15th of December.

Fares are now on sale from $39 one way, with md Shelley Roberts saying the announcement was "another significant milestone" for the carrier.

The new service will add 131,000 seats annually into and out of the Gold Coast, with GC Tourism ceo Martin Winter saying the move "demonstrates the popularity and sustainability of the Gold Coast as an ever evolving destination."

More details in today's Travel Daily.

Make a date for a Medina break from just $149

With the weather warming up, why not start planning your summer break! Our Travel Guides will help you get the most out of your next stay with us and we've got plenty of fantastic rates to get you started!

If you deserve more than a short break, our stunning Adina properties in Europe are the answer. We've just opened in Frankfurt and are soon to open our second apartment hotel in Berlin.

Specials breaks with Medina

Medina Executive Brisbane - offers sweeping views of the beautiful Brisbane River, the skyline and the iconic Storey Bridge. Our recent refurbishment makes our hotel extra special! Take the River Boardwalk to the Botanic Gardens or visit Southbank with its parklands, Convention Centre and the world class Gallery of Modern Art.

Book Medina Executive Brisbane from $149* per night

Medina Executive South Yarra - enjoy renowned restaurants and the boutiques of Chapel Street, Toorak and South Yarra which are all within walking distance. If that's not enough, more of Melbourne's best shopping and the CBD are only a short bus, tram or train ride away!

Book Medina Executive South Yarra from $120* per night

Medina Executive Wollongong – Soak up some sun at City Beach only a few minutes walk from our front door or savour the wide variety of delicious restaurants located close by. A stay in Wollongong is perfect for a weekend escape!

Book Medina Executive Wollongong from $175* per night!

*Subject to availability, excludes peak periods

New Adinas are opening!

Adina Apartment Hotel Frankfurt Neue Oper and Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Opening in November) are the newest additions to join Adina Apartment Hotels.

Adina Apartment Hotel Frankfurt Neue Oper is now open and perfectly positioned along the banks of the river Main just minutes from the city centre. Many of Frankfurt's famous sight seeing attractions such as Romer square, Goethe House and Paulskirche church are within walking distance from this stunning hotel.

Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof is situated just minutes away from the German capital's new central train station which is an architectural masterpiece and the largest crossing station in Europe - making the hotel the perfect base for corporate and leisure travellers.

Need some inspiration?

Our Travel Guides will give you some great ideas for your next stay at Medina

T: 1300 MEDINA (633462)

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Urban Hotel Group Throws One-Week Summer Sale

With the first days of summer only one month away, designer hotel group Urban is throwing a seven-day sale with its luxury hotel rooms available for just $99 per night.

Starting this Sunday 25 October, and running for one week until Saturday 21 October, travellers can book rooms at any of the three Urban Hotel locations during the period of 18 December – 18 January 2010 (at the Sydney and Melbourne properties) and 18 December – 14 February 2010 (at the Brisbane property) for the half price rate of $99 per room per night (average full price per room is $199)

Urban Hotels are the contemporary choice for the country’s leisure and business travellers elegant locations, chic interiors, independent gourmet restaurants, unique little touches, and some serious customer service together create a trio of hotels that are the perfect place to lay your head away from home.

Urban Brisbane’s art deco exterior features a Manhattan-style pool terrace and the team have just added the finishing touches to a top floor penthouse suite for intimate functions. Urban St Leonards lies on Sydney’s North Shore, a favourite with business travellers thanks to the soothing surroundings, on-site putting green, and organic restaurant. And Urban St Kilda is a funky haven in the heart of Acland Street, complete with the popular ‘round bedroom’ and Suger cocktail bar.

The Urban Summer Sale applies to king, queen or twin rooms and is subject to availability. Visit for more details.

Bundaberg Gets Back to Nature

Getting back to nature and travelling on a budget is easy in Queensland’s Bundaberg region. With a new ‘Turtle Trail’ opening just in time for the annual turtle breeding season, a Great Barrier Reef island resort just offshore gaining advanced ecotourism status, and some fantastic accommodation packages on offer, now is the time to start planning your next holiday.

Mon Repos is a small beach near Bundaberg, and every year from November to March it hosts hundreds of nesting and hatching turtles, and almost as many visitors who come to witness this natural miracle.

And this year, a new coastal walking trail – the aptly named ‘Turtle Trail’ – means visitors can walk to Mon Repos from nearby Burnett Heads or Bargara.

Access to Mon Repos beach is restricted during the turtle season so the best way to see these endangered animals up close is on a nightly guided tour from the Mon Repos Visitors Centre.

The turtle nesting and hatching ritual occurs from November to February, while visitors from January until late March will see the baby hatchlings burst from the sand and make the dash down to the sea.

French for ‘my rest’, Mon Repos has the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and is one of the two largest Loggerhead turtle rookeries in the South Pacific Ocean.

Bookings are essential for the Mon Repos turtle experience and tickets can be purchased at the Bundaberg Region Visitor Information Centre, by calling (07) 4153 8888 or visiting

Situated just offshore from Bundaberg, Lady Elliot Island is also a popular destination for nesting turtles and nature lovers.

The southernmost anchor of the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort is accessed by plane from Bundaberg and has just been certified as an ‘Advanced Ecotourism’ destination for its commitment to reducing its carbon footprint.

Since 2005, the resort has reduced its diesel consumption and carbon emissions by at least 75 per cent through a range of initiatives including a new solar hybrid power station, and its goal is to eventually operate 100 per cent on solar power.

There’s a range of opportunities for discovering the surrounding reef at Lady Elliot. Join a ‘Climate Change Trail’ walking tour, jump aboard the daily snorkelling and diving boats, slip on some reef walking shoes and take a guided tour of the shallows, spend the day lazing on the white beaches, or step off the sand for a swim in the same coral playground as manta rays, turtles and tropical fish who call this part of the spectacular Great Barrier Reef home.

 Kelly’s Beach Resort’s turtle package includes includes two nights accommodation, breakfast daily and a family turtle ticket for only $38.10 per person per night, based on a weekend stay for two adults and two children (4-12yrs) outside school holidays.

 Grand Mercure Apartments Bargara is offering special rates over the turtle season with two nights in a one-bedroom apartment with guaranteed sea views starting at $370.

 Koola Beach Apartments Bargara’s "Turtle Experience" package includes 2 nights accommodation in a modern two bedroom 4.5 star self-contained parkview apartment plus Ranger guided night tour of Mon Repos Turtle Rookery. Priced from $90 per person (three or four share) and valid for bookings prior to 31 December 2009 and stays before 31 March 2010 (Excludes 18 December to 10 January).

 Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort’s rates start from $132 per night. Pay five, stay seven and pay four, stay five packages are available outside of peak periods.

Fact Box:
• Getting there – Qantaslink fly from Brisbane to Bundaberg
• Holiday and accommodation ideas -
• Turtles –
• Lady Elliot Island –

Tuesday 20 October 2009

News and Deals from Peppers

Here's the latest news and hot deals from Peppers Retreats, Resorts and Hotels.


BERN’S ON BOARD: Award-winning Victorian property Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa has announced the appointment of experienced hospitality professional Bern Barry to the position of Hotel Manager. Bern will be responsible for the retreat’s food and beverage operations as well as the housekeeping and maintenance departments. Owner and General Manager of Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa, Wayne Cross, said Bern would be a valuable asset to the business. “Bern has a strong background in hospitality, holding many and varied roles over the years including 15 years running his own high end corporate catering business,’’ Wayne said. “We believe he will be a valuable asset to the Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa team and will be someone who will be a great mentor, coach and inspiring leader to all staff.’’ Situated just 75 minutes from Melbourne, Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa allows guests to rejuvenate in blissful surrounds only three minutes from Daylesford. Call 03 5348 2202, email or visit

BABYMOON BLISS AND A LARK GIFT: Award winning Victorian property Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa has delivered something special for expectant mums and dads with this blissful “babymoon” package combining elegant accommodation, fine food, indulgent body treatments and a bit of a Lark. Priced from $995* per couple, the pampering pre-baby escape includes two nights accommodation in a traditional room, delicious hot cooked breakfast on both mornings, Mineral Spa treatments, a hand made Lark gift and a 15% discount card to be used in Lark’s new Daylesford store. Mothers to be will enjoy an all-encompassing 75 minute spa session combining three of the most popular LI’TYA treatments covering the face, hands and feet to create a deluxe pampering experience, while dads will receive a relaxing 90 minute remedial massage designed to realign and rebalance. Situated just 75 minutes from Melbourne in the heart of Victoria’s spa country, Peppers Springs Retreat & Spa allows guests to rejuvenate in blissful surrounds. Call 03 5348 2202, email or visit

CLASSIC ESCAPE FOR GOLF LOVERS: Amateur golfers have the once in a lifetime opportunity to step into the shoes of a tournament professional at Peppers Moonah Links from February 1-7 2010. The luxury Mornington Peninsular property has teed up special player packages for the inaugural Moonah Amateur Classic for golfers with a current Golf Australia Handicap not exceeding 18. Priced from $1750* plus GST per person or $5000* plus GST for teams of three players the package includes a practice round on Wednesday on the Open Course with a professional in the official Pro Am; three rounds of tournament competition including one round with a professional on the Saturday; breakfast and lunch Wednesday-Saturday; gift package; invites to the official welcome cocktail party, pro am function and cut party; invite to official dinner; discount rounds at Moonah Links and trophies for winning team. Peppers Moonah Links has accommodation packages from $260* per room per night for two people including full breakfast. For further information phone Glenn Lloyd, PGA of Australia on (03) 8320 1911 or visit


LOVE SHACK LUXURY: Music fans can catch legendary new wave party band the B52s live in the Hunter Valley and add a little luxury to the Love Shack experience on an exclusive weekend package from Peppers Guest House. The whacky, fun and highly infectious dance beats of the US outfit will reverberate through the vineyards on Saturday November 21, 2009, when they rock Bimgadgen Estate winery with such classics as Rock Lobster, Love Shack and Roam. Nearby Peppers Guest House joins the chorus with deals from $650* per person including two nights accommodation, full country breakfast each morning, two A Reserve tickets to see the B52s, coach transfers to the concert venue and dinner for two in Chez Pok Restaurant on the Friday evening. Nestled in the heart of the Hunter Valley wine country and surrounded by beautiful gardens and vineyards, Peppers Guest House is one of the region’s best loved retreats. Phone (02) 4993 8999, email or visit

STYLISH SURF ESCAPE: Whether it’s a romantic weekend or family getaway, Peppers Salt Resort & Spa on the tranquil Tweed Coast has everything holidaymakers could wish for an unforgettable break from everyday life. Just over an hour’s drive from Brisbane, and 20 minutes south of the Gold Coast airport, the stylish resort offers an array of first class facilities including onsite Golden Door Spa, award winning Roughie’s Restaurant and Bar and year-round patrolled beach on its doorstep. Rates start from $178* per room per night for a Resort Room including breakfast or enjoy the family deal from $274* per night for a two bedroom apartment with breakfast and Peppers inclusions such as in-room movies, games, unlimited broadband, tennis courts and boogie boards. Deals are valid for sale until February 28 and for travel until March 31 2010 with blockout dates applying. Phone 1300 987 600 or visit

JOIN THE PEPPERS PARTY: Celebrating 25 years of exquisite escape experiences this year, Peppers is inviting guests to join the party with great rates to a selection of properties all located within an easy two and a half hour drive from Sydney. For example Peppers Guest House, Hunter Valley has midweek getaways from $258* per room per night in a Classic Room; Peppers Anchorage, Port Stephens has Anchorage Rooms from $206* per room per night; Peppers Manor House, Southern Highlands has Garden Wing Rooms and full breakfast for two from $252* per night and historic Craigieburn in Bowral has Elms Wing Rooms from just $116* per room per night. . Rates are valid for sale until November 30 and for travel to December 23, 2009 with blockout dates and minimum stays applying. Phone 1300 987 600 or visit

ANCHORS AWAY: The blue water paradise of Port Stephens beckons for an idyllic Christmas holiday adventure with these great deals to Peppers Anchorage combining deluxe accommodation and delicious food. Designed with togetherness in mind, Peppers Anchorage’s tranquil surrounds make for the perfect destination to reconnect as a couple or family, indulge in a spa treatment, enjoy a gourmet beach picnic or enjoy sumptuous food and wine at Merretts Restaurant which offers flexible dining to suit all ages. Peppers Anchorage has Christmas packages from $1295* per couple including three nights accommodation in an Anchorage Room, breakfast daily and Christmas Degustation lunch served in Merretts Restaurant. Family packages start from $1760* per family of two adults and two children aged 4-12 years complete with three nights accommodation in a Loft Suite, breakfast daily and Christmas Degustation lunch served in Merretts Restaurant. Call 02 4984 2555 or visit


CELEBRATE ON A HIGH NOTE: Visitors can scale new heights in luxury, seclusion and relaxation on Queensland’s awe-inspiring Scenic Rim this festive season with the launch of indulgent Christmas and New Years packages from Peppers Spicers Peak Lodge. Surrounded by World Heritage Listed parks and ranges the architecturally stunning lodge is the perfect place to beat the summer heat and experience Christmas and New Years the cool, calm and sophisticated way. Priced from $1590 per couple per night the Christmas Package valid 24-26 December includes two nights accommodation for two people; French Champagne on arrival; all meals including Christmas Eve Tapas on the terrace, Christmas morning champagne breakfast, signature seven course degustation Christmas lunch, three course Christmas dinner, all beverages throughout the stay and jazz entertainment. Also priced from $1590 per couple night the New Years package valid 31 December 2009 to 1 January 2010, includes two nights accommodation for two people; French champagne on arrival; all meals including Black Tie New Years Eve seven course degustation dinner with live jazz entertainment, New Years Day late breakfast-brunch, gourmet tapas on New Years Day evening and all beverages throughout the stay. Peppers Spicers Peak Lodge is located 90 minutes drive south west of Brisbane and two hours from the Gold Coast. Visit or call 1300 773 452

PIER AT THE WHALES: With the whales continuing to frolic and the calm, sheltered waters of Hervey Bay until the end of October, there’s still time to splash out on a memorable holiday with the humpbacks, staying at Peppers Pier Resort. Guests can now spend more time with the majestic creatures with the resort extending its whale watching tour on Spirit of Hervey from half a day to three-quarters of a day. The tour is included in special two-night packages priced from $536* for two adults in a one bedroom spa suite or $728* per family of two adults and two children in a two bedroom spa suite. Situated on the esplanade opposite Urangan Beach and its famous pier, Peppers Pier Resort offers a landscaped lagoon swimming pool and lap pool plus the indulgent Spa Botanica where a range of beauty therapies are available to soothe the mind, body and soul. For bookings or further information call 1300 987 600 or visit

TROPICAL TRANQUILITY: For the ultimate in coastal relaxation with a tranquil tropical ambience, Peppers has a stunning range of summer escapes to choose from. For example guests can enjoy the magic of Magnetic Island based at Peppers Blue on Blue Resort from $134* per room per night in a Teal Resort Room, picturesque Palm Cove based at Peppers Beach Club & Spa from $217.50* per room per night in a Lagoon Spa Room or the pleasures of Port Douglas staying in a One Bedroom Sanctuary at Peppers Bale Resort from $413* per night. Rates are valid for sale until November 30 and for travel to December 23, 2009 with blockout dates and minimum stays applying. Phone 1300 987 600 or visit


WINE NOT?: Offering two idyllic waterfront properties just a short drive from theTamar Valley grape-growing region, Peppers is the perfect place to drop in and acquaint yourself with Tasmania’s premium wines. Featuring luxury accommodation, an excellent range of leisure facilities and impeccable personalised service, guests are assured of an unforgettable experience on the Apple Isle. Now is the ideal time to experience a Tasmanian food and wine experience that’s all about you with Peppers Seaport Hotel, Launceston, offering Standard River View Rooms from $187.50* per room per night and Peppers York Cove Resort, Tamar Valley, offering one bedroom apartments from $249* per room per night. Rates are valid for sale until November 30 and for travel to December 23, 2009 with minimum stays applying. Phone 1300 987 600 or visit


LAKESIDE LUXURY: A spectacular and exclusive lakeside retreat surrounded by the sparkling waters of Lake Rotorua, Peppers on the Point is the perfect destination for a luxurious escape. The charming two-storied lodge is a converted 1930s mansion with spacious entertaining rooms, a breezy terrace, open fireplaces, a timber-panelled dining room and a magnificent timber staircase. It is the idea base to experience the rich geothermal wonders of Rotorua or simply relax and enjoy the tranquility of the stunning location. Peppers on the Point has Luxurious Escapes including two nights accommodation in a Lake View Suite with full breakfast each morning, pre-dinner drinks with canapés and a four course gourmet dinner on one evening and two 30-minute massages from NZ$845 per night twin/double share, valid to December 20, 2009. Phone +64 7 348 4868 or email

* Conditions minimum stays and blockout periods apply. Subject to change and availability

West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnaval.

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Monday 19 October 2009

Cruise to the Heart of Papua New Guinea with Coral Princess Cruises

It’s on our doorstep, yet it’s one of the last great frontiers on earth: Papua New Guinea has the largest area of intact rainforest outside the Amazon; over 1000 distinct cultural groups and a staggering diversity of plant and animal species. Coral Princess’s Oceanic Discoverer ventures deeper into the wilds of PNG than any other cruise ship, on 10 and 12-night expedition-style cruises in 2010-2011.

The 72-passenger, luxury expedition ship Oceanic Discoverer is the only expedition cruise ship that ventures up one of the world’s great rivers, the Sepik, to the remote and seldom-visited villages of Bien and Angoram. The local people live a traditional lifestyle and are renowned for producing some of PNG’s – and the world’s - most outstanding ‘primitive’ artworks. Spending time among the local people is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Flowing for over 1000km from the Central Highlands to the sea, the Sepik River is one of the country’s least-developed regions, and is the lifeblood of the 430,000 people who live and trade on the river.

While other cruise ships are too large to enter the mouth of the river, the Oceanic Discoverer – purpose-built for expedition cruising in remote regions – is the only expedition ship that safely penetrates up to 100km upstream, through landscapes framed by sharp-edged mountains, past settlements that few outsiders have seen, spending two full days up the river.

The voyage visits the Trobriand Islands – the famous ‘Islands of Love’ – to witness harvest dances performed in elaborate costumes; retraces the journeys of explorers such as Bougainville and Cook and the World War II history of Madang and Alotau, where Australian forces fought off the Japanese offensive.

Throughout the voyage, Oceanic Discoverer’s on-board historians and naturalists help guests identify and understand the overwhelming plethora of wildlife (which includes 700 species of birds) and plant life (including 3000 varieties of orchids). PNG is also known as one of the world’s most outstanding snorkelling and SCUBA diving destinations, with pristine coral reefs and hundreds of species of fish.

Oceanic Discoverer’s purpose-built excursion vessel, Xplorer; glass bottom coral viewer and fleet of inflatable Zodiacs allow passengers to intimately explore the reefs and remote islands. On-board facilities include a large sundeck and spa pool, reference library, lecture lounge, two cocktail bars, boutique and dive shop.

There are 10-night cruises between Rabaul and Alotau, departing March 21, November 5 and 15, 2010, and March 18, November 4 and 14, 2011, costing from $8250 per person, twin share in a Main Deck stateroom, including all meals, excursions and port taxes. Each of the departures can be extended by two days, beginning or ending in Cairns. The 12-night itinerary costs from $8650 per person, twin share.

For further information and reservations contact Coral Princess Cruises on 1800 079 545 or visit

Prêt-a-Portea, a Fashionista’s Afternoon Tea in London

Straight from the catwalk onto a colourful plate, The Berkeley’s afternoon tea is set to wow the fashion crowd this winter season as designer items are turned into cakes, mousses and biscuits. Located in Knightsbridge, the heart of London’s fashion scene, The Berkeley launches its most exciting Prêt-a-Portea collection to date with showpieces including Louis Vuitton’s signature pale pink bunny ears and Mulberry’s must-have leopard print tote. Fashion fans are invited to eat their designer heart out on Matthew Williamson cakes and Dior macaroons after a day of shopping at style temples Harvey Nichols and Harrods!

Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley includes fashionista delectables such as a fruity Dior blueberry macaroon boasting deep purple autumn colours and rich textures as well as a gold Christian Lacroix Valrhona chocolate bonbon reflecting the warm metallics everyone will be wearing this winter. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of London Fashion Week and the return of Burberry to the London catwalk, Prêt-a-Portea features one of the label’s latest trench coat designs in the form of a cinnamon biscuit with caramel icing.

“The combination of colours and textures this season translates wonderfully into cakes and pastries,” comments Mourad Khiat, The Berkeley’s Head Pastry Chef. “The capital has been in the picture this fashion season celebrating the 25th year of London Fashion Week and we have made sure that young British design talent is represented on our tea stand next to the old-time favourites!”

The Berkeley pastry chefs visit London Fashion Week shows to get their inspiration for the colours and textures of the new collections. Patisserie for the Autumn / Winter collection will echo this season’s trends of radiant gold, black over the knee boots and the combination of pale pinks and beige colours.

For the ultimate fashion touch the hotel has forged links with Thomas Goode of Mayfair who has produced a bespoke collection of Paul Smith fine bone china to be used for the tea and for the icing on the cake, chilled champagne is served in Baccarat crystal flutes.

Prêt-à-Portea gift cards and notelets are also available to buy to give someone special an original present. They are designed and illustrated by fashionable artist Anzu and come complete with pink tissue lined envelopes.

Prêt-à-Portea is served in The Caramel Room at The Berkeley from 1-6pm every day priced at £35.00 per person. (£43 including a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne, or alternatively for the fashion conscious, £49.00 per person including a glass of couture champagne)

For guests wishing to enjoy the finer things in life and experience London’s top attractions, shopping and culture, The Berkeley is located just moments from Knightsbridge. The Luxury Break at The Berkeley is the perfect deal for those who plan to enjoy a short break in London. Start the day with a delicious English breakfast before hitting the shops in Knightsbridge. From £365 per night, the Luxury Break includes a welcome bottle of Champagne and fresh fruit on arrival and a traditional English breakfast.

To make a reservation for Prêt-à-Portea call +44 (0) 20 7235 6000.
To make a reservation for the Luxury Break in London contact the reservation team on +44 (0) 20 7107 8841

About Maybourne Hotel Group
Maybourne Hotel Group whose headquarters is in Mayfair, London, owns and manages, Claridges, The Connaught and The Berkeley three of the world’s most renowned hotels. Maybourne hotels are committed to delivering authentic and unique guest experiences that reflect the individual nature of its hotels, its guests and its people whilst maintaining a timeless elegance and intuitive service style that are the hallmarks of its properties.

Voted one of the Top 100 Great Places to Work in Europe 2007- Financial Times

Saturday 17 October 2009

TCP Garden Tours offers rainy day discount

TCP Garden Tours based in Lawson and visiting Blue Mountains' Gardens has recently introduced a unique Rainy Day Discount. If it rains you would assume that you'd end up not only waterlogged but muddy to boot. But here's a refund of 15%. With umbrellas on board TCP Garden Tours is encouraging you to experience the extra dimension of deeper colours sprinkled with glistening buds of raindrops. So rather than cancel your tour if it's raining, come on along and enjoy the incredible difference a little rain and mist can create. 

Refreshed from a winter break TCP Garden Tours is back with amazing Day Tours of magnificent Blue Mountains Gardens leaving Katoomba Saturday mornings. Commencing 24 October 2009, the new line up is very exciting and you are encouraged to jump aboard! We will stop for a stroll through three to four stunningly beautiful gardens throughout the Blue Mountains and talk to the owners who guide us through the creation and maintenance of their glorious masterpieces. We have a refreshment break of morning tea relaxing in a garden and lunch at a local restaurant. 

Artistic flair, combined with the Blue Mountains' cool climate, produces gardens that are truly exceptional - a wonderful surprise in such a hot arid country. Meander along paths with unfolding vistas of garden rooms brimming with colour and form. Discover how gardeners utilise the natural surrounding gums and ferns to create amazing hidden wonderlands.  

Nyla Thomas of TCP Garden Tours said "It is amazing to see how the gardeners have used the natural landscape of gums and ferns, moss and rocks to create such stunning masterpieces! The colours and perfumes will knock your socks off!"  

To secure a place on these exciting new tours, ring (02) 4759 3040 or email Don't miss out on a discovery tour of absolutely gorgeous Blue Mountains' Gardens. You will be picked up at Katoomba from the bus stop in front of the Carrington Hotel at 9.30am every Saturday and you will return overflowing with ideas and inspirations at 5.00pm. The cost is $90.00 including lunch and all entry fees. (Garden entry fees are normally donated to charity by garden owners.)

For more information contact Nyla Thomas, Owner/Manager, TCP Garden Tours 0424 188 779    


Kids cruise free on Star Clippers

Kids (big and small) can sail for free with Star Clippers in three of the world¹s most exotic cruising regions in December ‹ Tahiti, the Far East and the Caribbean.

The seven-night cruise-only deals apply to the three luxury clippers of the fleet: Star Clipper -- Phuket/Singapore on December 19; Star Flyer -- Papeete, /Moorea/Bora Bora and other Tahitian islands on December 20; and Royal Clipper -- Barbados/St Lucia/Dominica/Antigua/St Kitts/Martinique on December 19.

All children under 18 (travelling with two full-fare paying adults) are free except for port charges (from $247 each). Adults with one child share a three-berth cabin; those with two children have two cabins. Adult fares start at $2477 each, including port charges.

All meals and entertainment on board are included.

The Phuket-Singapore cruise visits Thailand¹s Similan Islands, Ko Hong and Ko Adang, and Penang and Malacca in Malaysia.

Star Clippers' ships follow the sun year-round in the Far East (from Phuket); in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and, soon, in Costa Rica. Visit www. or call Creative Cruising Sydney 1300 362 599.

Friday 16 October 2009

Go Go Go... 2010 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix!

As the 2009 FORMULA 1 season draws to a close, Sportsnet are ready for next year with the launch of their 2010 FORMULA 1 Australian Grand Prix packages!

Exclusive to Sportsnet, this 3 night package includes:
- 4 Day General Admission Entry to the 2010 FORMULA 1 Australian Grand Prix
- EXCLUSIVE entry to the F1 Grunt & Grill Gala Function at Breezes Bar/Restaurant, Crown Casino
- Official Melbourne Visitors Guide including Discount Voucher Booklet
- 4 night package and ticket upgrades available.

Book and pay by 14 December 2009 and you automatically receive:
- Exclusive access to the GP Advantage circuit bar
- "Main Straight Walk" including starting grid photo opportunities on Sunday
- Access to the exclusive 'Behind the Scenes' tour
- A GP Advantage souvenir ticket and lanyard
- Entries into a prize draw to win a ride in a two seater Minardi F1 (conditions apply)

For further information free call 1300 888 858, drop us an email at or visit us on the web at

Sportsnet is an independent contractor to, and is not an agent or associate of, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation or Grand Prix Travel Office. The Conditions of Sale and Conditions of Entry apply to all tickets and attendance at the 2010 FORMULA 1 Australian Grand Prix. The Conditions of Sale and Conditions of Entry are available from AGPC on request or at

Thursday 15 October 2009

Sydney Opera House Open Day - Sunday 25 October 2009

Sydney Opera House is throwing open its doors and inviting the people of New South Wales to see what happens behind the scenes at a free Open Day on Sunday 25 October 2009.

Between 10am and 4pm free self-guided tours of the building will let visitors follow in the footsteps of the famous, exploring backstage areas which are usually off limits to members of the public.  Three tours, each covering different areas of the building, will be available.

Visitors can watch performers in rehearsal, peek into dressing rooms, see how stage sets are constructed, discover how sound and lighting are used to create dramatic effect, and learn about the types of activities people can see and do at the House.

NSW Premier Nathan Rees will attend Open Day at 10am to sign Kids Adventure Passports - an initiative of the Premier's office to engage more kids in the arts and encourage them to discover galleries, museums and art institutions.

In association with Open Day partners NAB, the Gondwana National Indigenous Children's Choir and Sydney Children's Choir will give a performance on the Forecourt at 11am, and there will be a food and wine fair, live music, roving entertainers and prize giveaways throughout the day in what promises to be a fun day for the whole family.

A key goal of Open Day is to ensure all communities have access to the Sydney Opera House experience, whoever and wherever they are said Sydney Opera House CEO Richard Evans, "Sydney Opera House is a place for everyone.  It's our aim to ensure that the broadest possible audience has access to the wide range of activities and experiences we offer from classical music to comedy, and everything in-between.

Open Day puts the spotlight on what happens behind the scenes at the House, and will let people find out why 7.5 million people visit us every year."

Jaap Jonkman, nabbusiness general manager NSW/ACT added, "A vibrant arts sector is a reflection of a healthy and creative society. Sydney Opera House is at the centre of Australian creativity, both as a symbol and as a performing arts centre. We're delighted to be able to help give the people of Sydney the opportunity to see behind the iconic sails of Sydney Opera House at its biggest ever Open Day."

Visitors will also be able to see, for the first time, an outdoor exhibition of large scale images by Australia's only Magnum photographer Trent Parke.  Commissioned by Sydney Opera House, Parke spent four weeks across 12 months as an artist in residence shooting behind the scenes, capturing a side of the House rarely seen.

Members of the public are encouraged to sign-up at to receive express entry on the day, and a range of special offers for onsite cafes, restaurants and shops.

The use of public transport is recommended.  Family groups can take advantage of the low cost Family Funday Sunday travel ticket which offers unlimited travel on buses, trains and ferries.   For up-to-date public transport information call 131 500 or visit

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