Monday 31 December 2012

Enjoy Festival Season in Adelaide with Mantra and Breakfree Hotels

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From January to March, Adelaide turns on its festival season - an eclectic mix of fast bikes, fast cars, arts on the fringe, music and dance festivals and a dash of horse racing and Mantra and BreakFree hotels located in the heart of town will put you right amongst the action.

The Santos Tour Down Under from 20 to 27 January is the first stop on the world cycling calendar and  kicks off the cycling year in exhilarating style.  Australian band Sneaky Sound System is also set to take the stage for the event's 15th birthday celebrations on Saturday 19 January.  Great rates are available throughout the week long event:

Mantra on Hindmarsh: from $229 per night in a 1 bedroom apartment*
Mantra on Frome: from $209 per night in a 1 bedroom apartment*
BreakFree Adelaide: from $189 per night in Studio room *
BreakFree Directors Studio: from $149 per night in a standard hotel room *

Adelaide Fringe from 15 February to 17 March literally takes over the entire city with 900 events staged in pop up venues in parks, warehouses, lane-ways and empty buildings as well as established venues such as theatres, hotels, art galleries, cafes and town halls.  Stay amongst the action on the following rates:

Mantra on Hindmarsh:  from $194 per night in a Studio Suite*
Mantra on Frome:  from $199 per night in a standard hotel room *
BreakFree Adelaide:  from $155 per night in Studio room *
BreakFree Directors Studio:  from $129 per night in a standard hotel room *

The city switches into high gear for the annual Clipsal 500 from 28 February to 3 March with the V8 Supercars roaring through Adelaide.  And if that's not action packed enough, legendary heavy metal bands Kiss and Motley Crue will rock the house down at the finale event.  The following rates are available:

Mantra on Hindmarsh:  from $569 per night in a Parkview Suite ( 4 night min stay)*
Mantra on Frome:  from $399 per night in a Studio room (4 night min stay) *
BreakFree Adelaide:  from $369 per night in Studio room (2 night min stay)*
BreakFree Directors Studio: from $264 per night in a Studio room (2 night min stay)*

The Adelaide Festival from 1 to 17 March and WOMADelaide from 8 to 11 March will delight arts, music and theatre lovers with an eclectic mix of international and local avant-garde acts.  Stay amongst the city's 'live art' installations on the following rates:

Mantra on Hindmarsh:  from $194 per night in a Studio Suite*
Mantra on Frome: from $194 per night in a Studio room *
BreakFree Adelaide: from $155 per night in Studio room *
BreakFree Directors Studio: from $129 per night in a Studio room*

For those looking to explore further afield, stay  nights of more with BreakFree Adelaide and receive a '2 for 1' Grand Barossa tour for a day amongst the vineyards.  Visit  for details.

Visit at  and  for bookings and further details.

*subject to availability, conditions apply.

Enjoy a Midweek Gourmet Getaway at Spicers Hidden Vale

Enjoy a midweek gourmet getaway at award-winning Spicers Hidden Vale this summer with $50* credit to use in its onsite restaurant each night of your stay.

Spicers Hidden Vale, which won Best Deluxe Accommodation at the recent 2012 Queensland Tourism Awards, is a luxurious retreat situated on a 12,000 acre farm in Grandchester in the Lockyer Valley, less than an hour's drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.The restaurant credit offer - launched to celebrate the release of onsite restaurant Cotton’s new summer menu - applies per room to stays from Sunday to Thursday until 31 January 2013. Accommodation starts from $199 per night and main meals from $28.

Award-winning Cotton’s offers a true taste of local Australia with an upmarket steak cuisine and extensive wine list.“Our new summer menu is full of innovative dishes specifically designed to showcase fresh, seasonal and simple Lockyer Valley produce,” head chef Andrew Simpson said.“They include a cold entrée of Country style chicken and prosciutto terrine, summer fruit relish and brioche; warm entrée of Crispy Zucchini flowers, filled with Laidley goats cheese risotto and caramelised shallot; and a new pasta dish of Spanner crab linguini, rocket, pine nuts and preserved lemon.

“We have abundant local produce in the Lockyer Valley which enables our team to create fresh, simple, well-balanced food that is seasonal, colourful, tasteful and innovative.”New main dishes include Marinated lamb, warm salad of heirloom carrots, yoghurt, organic almonds and local honey; House made free range Chicken and Porcini sausage, sautéed mushrooms, roasted chicken jus and the signature Grain Fed Darling Downs Wagyu.

A range of decadent desserts are also available, including a Stanthorpe Apple tart tatin, house made vanilla bean ice cream and Vanilla panacotta with fresh mango and meringue.Located in the charming original homestead of Spicers Hidden Vale, Cotton’s blends old world charm with an intimate and relaxing atmosphere, boasting sweeping valley views as well as an open fireplace.Cotton’s has been recognised as one of Queensland’s best restaurants, winning Best Restaurant in a Hotel/Resort (Brisbane/Darling Downs Region) at the HOSTPLUS Restaurant & Catering Awards in 2011, the Best Hotel/Motel Restaurant for Queensland at the Restaurant & Catering Awards in 2009 and the Restaurant & Catering Award for Excellence in 2008.

Spicers Hidden Vale offers colonial-style cottage accommodation scattered amongst beautiful country gardens. The property also features an onsite Spa Anise day spa, three function centres, two swimming pools, a games barn and a plethora of activities including horse-riding, archery, tennis, 4WD tours and over 50 kilometres of walking and mountain bike tracks.

*Valid 1 December 2012 – 31 January 2013.

Not valid 24 - 26 December, 31 December and 1 January for Sunday - Thursday overnight stays.

One $50 credit for Cotton's Restaurant for each night booked (one per room).

For bookings call 1300 179 340 . Visit: for more details.

Unused credit expires each day and cannot be refunded or transferred. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or booking. Subject to availability.

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Friday 28 December 2012

Top Cities for Nightlife

Bangkok Mambo club hosts the Queen of dragshow cabarets, Asia’s leading hotel booking site has released a list of the top ten cities that offer the best nightlife excitement, as chosen by its customers. And with New Year’s Eve quickly approaching, these cities are perfect for a quick getaway if nothing’s been planned yet.

Based on feedback from over 113,000 respondents provided at the end of their stay, customers had the opportunity to rate the nightlife on a scale of 1-5, 1 being “poor”, and 5 being “excellent”. The top spot was taken by Bangkok, Thailand’s energetic capital known for its tuk-tuk’s, temples and street food, followed by Dubai, the gleaming desert city in the United Arab Emirates, and Boracay/Caticlan in the Philippines, famous for its white sand beaches and swaying palm trees.

Thailand placed again with Pattaya, the seaside town widely known for its raucous Walking Street and massive influx of tourists looking to blow off some steam, followed by Tokyo, Japan’s neon-lit mega-city that’s home to 13 million people. Thailand’s largest island, Phuket, was next, followed by China’s Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, the former known for its vibrant architecture and world-class food, and the latter famous for its massive casinos and Portuguese/Chinese cuisine.

Rounding out the list were Taiwan’s modern capital of Taipei, and Bali, Indonesia’s perpetually buzzing island paradise.

Check out the full list of the top 25 cities below.

1. Bangkok
2. Dubai
3. Boracay / Caticlan
4. Pattaya
5. Tokyo
6. Phuket
7. Hong Kong
8. Macau
9. Taipei
10. Bali
11. Osaka
12. Shanghai
13. Seoul
14. Singapore
15. Sydney
16. Samui
17. Chiang Mai
18. London
19. Taichung
20. Kuala Lumpur
21. Jakarta
22. Manila
23. Kaohsiung
24. Paris
25. Siem Reap

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Welcome to THAI's December eNews

In this edition : THAI's Companion Sale to Thailand & Economy Class Sale to Thailand, Indochina and Yangon; Europe in Focus, India and Beyond on sale; Luggage allowances and more...

From all of us at THAI Australia, we take this opportunity to wish you and those dear to you all the Best for 2013 and Happy Travels.

Read Now

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Friday 21 December 2012

Air Pacific Back in Business Sale - 43% off return fares to Fiji

With flights back on schedule and many resorts back to 'business as usual' now Cyclone Evan has passed, Air Pacific, Fiji's national airline, has announced special fares to give Aussies the chance to travel to Fiji at a great price for a New Year break.

Air Pacific is offering special fares for the whole family from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne to Nadi – up to 43% off the cheapest normal return fare.

Book from this Saturday and before 28 December 2012 and kids under 12 years of age can fly Fiji from just $266 return from Sydney, $305 return from Melbourne and $356 return from Brisbane.

Grown -ups won't miss out either with great fares from just $482 return from Sydney, $539 from Melbourne and $600 return from Brisbane.

Prices include in-flight snacks, drinks, checked baggage and in-flight entertainment.

With the clean up in most areas well underway and Fiji ready to welcome international guests, this fare is valid for travel periods from January to June.*

Places are limited so for those seeking a break in fabulous Fiji in 2013, should visit, call 0800 800 150 or contact their local travel agent as soon as possible. Full terms and conditions are available online at

Thursday 20 December 2012

New 2013 Pocket Guide Destination Wollongong

New 2013 Pocket Guide Destination Wollongong

Pocket Great New Gong Deals During Summer

To celebrate the start of summer and the launch of its new 2013 Pocket Guide Destination Wollongong is offering travellers a range of great holiday deals.

Released in time for the summer holidays, the official Wollongong 2013 Pocket Guide features information on where to eat, play and stay while visiting the region. The guide is complemented by a foldout map that points out key destination highlights. The map also includes 28 vouchers for local retailers, eateries and attractions, providing over $1,000 worth of value.

Destination Wollongong Marketing Manager Joanne Tralaggan said the guide’s slimline size makes it the perfect companion for dedicated planners and on-the-fly travellers wanting a comprehensive destination guide at their fingertips.

The directory is available from the iHub at 93 Crown Street, the Southern Gateway Centre at Bulli Tops and an array of local hotels, restaurants, cafes and tourism operators.

To provide visitors with even more bang for their buck, a number of local hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are offering some sizzling summer deals. These include:

Take the family on an action-packed adventure to Jamberoo courtesy of the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach. Priced from $399* the package includes overnight accommodation, a family pass (four people) to Jamberoo Action Park, a family munchie pack and buffet breakfast for two adults and two children in Windjammers restaurant.

Enjoy a fun-filled family getaway at Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park. The package, priced from $599*, includes three nights accommodation for up to four people in a luxury 4-star cabin, a family pass (four tickets) to Jamberoo Action Park, kayak hire on Crooked River, two hours of peddle cart hire and kids activity bags.

For the first time, Southern Biplane Adventures is offering visitors the chance to soar above Wollongong on a group scenic flight. Priced from just $99* per person, the offer includes a $20 gift voucher upon completion of the flight.

The Illawarra Fly is offering a summer special for earlybirds, with $11* entry before 11am on weekdays.

Be pampered at Wellness Centre Wollongong with a complementary* pilates, yoga or meditation class following any deluxe spa pedicure.

Located just 90 minutes from Sydney, Wollongong is ideal for short breaks or day trips, boasting a wide range of family attractions and thrill-seeking activities, popular restaurants and cafes, and a wide range of comfortable and affordable accommodation.

For more information call 1800 240 737, visit or follow Destination Wollongong on Facebook or Twitter

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Wednesday 19 December 2012

Your Ticket to Auckland

Happy holidays!

The sun is shining, the seas are warm and the flaming red flowers are blooming on the pohutukawa trees – New Zealand’s own Christmas tree. It’s summer in Auckland, so now’s the perfect time to plan your holiday, with a huge line up of events and festivals over the coming months.

Summer fun

Want to find out how to get the best summer experiences while you’re in Auckland? Check out our inspiring ideas to get you started, including island adventures, exploring the great outdoors, some of the region’s best beaches and where to simply relax with a glass of wine.

Find out more 

Flying high

Fly high above the trees with EcoZip Adventures – an exciting new activity on Waiheke Island. Hop on the dual span flying fox ziplines and zoom over the tree canopy for a thrilling ride and amazing views. Unwind after your adventure with a guided walk through the beautiful native bush.

Find out more

Who Shot Rock & Roll

Who Shot Rock & Roll is a photographic history showcasing some of the world’s biggest musicians, from 1955 to the present. The exhibition is a fascinating collection of rock, pop and hip hop images that capture famous faces, electric performances and adoring fans.

Find out more

Bon appétit Auckland

Prestigious international magazine Departures has given Auckland a glowing gastronomic review, confirming the city as a world-class foodie destination, praising our top chefs, fresh ingredients and eclectic mix of cuisine. From the funky to the fancy, find out about some of Auckland’s top places to dine.

Find out more

Pasifika Festival 2013

Experience the music, art, flavours and cultures of the Pacific all in one place. The Pasifika Festival is one of Auckland’s longest running major events and attracts tens of thousands of people each year to celebrate Auckland’s Pacific heritage. There are 10 villages representing 10 Pacific Island communities, with bustling markets, delicious food and high energy performances.

Find out more

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Australians not travelling to a family Christmas

A survey conducted by showed that 80 per cent of Australians want to travel to see family this Christmas but less than 40 per cent have actually made travel plans.

The survey cites the cost of peak-season travel the main reason for not visiting their families this Christmas.

Around 20 per cent of people wish they could travel to escape their family, with 5 per cent of respondents doing exactly that this Christmas.

Parents and children topped the list of favourite family members to visit while the in-laws dipped out with less than 2 per cent of people having them on their holiday travel wishlist.

More than 10 per cent of the survey respondents said that they will avoid seeing their brother or sisters.

The sense of anticipation before seeing the family was the most enjoyable factor of Christmas time travel with only 15 per cent of Australian travellers responding that one of their favourite aspects of holiday travel was setting down with something to drink.

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Tuesday 18 December 2012

Christmas comes early with Celebrity Cruises two-day sale

Following Celebrity Solstice's recent debut Down Under and near sell-out first season, Celebrity Cruises is offering a two-day only fleetwide 'Summer Solstice' sale from 20-21 December.

Available for over 450 sailings worldwide, cruisers can experience Celebrity Cruises' modern luxury for less, for departures from January 2013 through to April 2014 onboard all ships excluding Celebrity Xpedition.  As well as up to US$300 onboard credit, the sale also includes half price deposits for all staterooms on cruises four days or longer.

Guests in an Interior and Oceanview stateroom will receive US$50 onboard credit, Balcony guests US$100, Concierge or AquaClass guests US$150 and Suite guests will receive US$300.

Prices start from $1,595 for a Balcony cabin on an 11-night Tropical Queensland cruise departing 28 March 2013.  Pricing is per person in Australian dollars based on twin occupancy and inclusive of all taxes, fees and onboard gratuities.  Deposits will need to be paid by 5:00pm on 28 December 2012.

Be quick as the Summer Solstice Sale is only available for a limited time!  To book contact your travel agent, call 1800 754 500 or visit

Monday 17 December 2012

Singapore Hotel and Cruise Package

CRUISING through the Malacca Straits and three nights at Singapore's renowned Shangri La Hotel, are combined in an eight night cruise package, including flights available now through

The five night roundtrip from Singapore aboard the Mariner of the Seas departs November 10, 2013. This cruise makes full day stops at Port Klang and the island of Penang, Malaysia and the popular Thai beach resort town of Phuket.

Book before February 20, 2013 to receive the discounted price of $2279 per person which includes return economy airfares to Singapore from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, inclusive of taxes. Also included is a three night stay at the luxurious Shangri La, entry to the Singapore Flyer, transfers and all meals and entertainment aboard the ship.

Mariner of the Seas carries 3114 passengers and has 10 pools and spas, 17 bars, clubs and lounges, an ice-skating rink, rock climbing wall, mini-golf course, a fitness centre and casino.

There are more than 12 cabin categories available. For more information contact on 1300 369 848 or check-out


Friday 14 December 2012

Philippine Airlines Announces Chinese New Year Fares Across Asia

Philippine Airlines B777

Philippine Airlines is gearing up to celebrate Chinese New Year with the release of discounted airfares across its Asian network.

Flying from Sydney or Melbourne, the new fares combine a stopover in Manila with a choice of 15 other international destinations including Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei.

Priced from $1121 return, the twin-city fares are on sale until January 31 and valid for travel between January 15 and February 28, 2013.

Marking the Year of the Snake, the new economy fares include:

· Beijing from $1142 ex Sydney or $1125 ex Melbourne
· Shanghai from $1142 ex Sydney or $1125 ex Melbourne
· Hong Kong from $1149 ex Sydney or $1131 ex Melbourne
· Macau from $1142 ex Sydney or $1124 ex Melbourne
· Taipei from $1138 ex Sydney or $1121 ex Melbourne
· Ho Chi Minh City from $1146 ex Sydney or $1129 ex Melbourne

Other cities available include Tokyo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka, Xiamen, New Delhi, Bangkok, Seoul and Busan.

Operating its flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from Sydney and Melbourne, Philippine Airlines offers more direct services to Manila than any other airline. It operates four non-stop flights a week from Sydney and three non-stop flights from Melbourne, offering the latest features including lie-flat beds in business class and seat-back entertainment systems throughout all cabins,

For full details, conditions and bookings phone Philippine Airlines on 1300 888 725, visit or see travel agents.

*Subject to availability and conditions.

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Thursday 13 December 2012

A Christmas present like no other: a day trip to Antarctica.

Flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth

Christmas is approaching quickly, and with it the annual stress of buying gifts which reflect imagination and a degree of thought. Stress no more.

Antarctica Sightseeing Flights has a suggestion which is bound to be different and to generate dinner party discussions for years to come – a day trip from Australia to the world's coldest, driest, windiest and most remote continent.

Not only does this gift enable travellers to view the magnificent diversity of Antarctica from the comfort of a Boeing 747-400, chartered from and operated by Qantas.

The ticket is also easy to wrap and to hide, eliminating two more problems common to the festive season.

And because the aircraft overfly Antarctica but do not land, no passport is required.

This is the 18th season of services by Antarctica Sightseeing Flights which, in conjunction with Qantas, has carried over 31,000 passengers on 110 day trips from Australia since 1994.

This summer, there will be six flights from Australia, compared with three last year.

Flights are filling fast, with one from Perth already fully booked.

Seats remain available on the five other services – Adelaide on 20 January, Perth on 27 January, Sydney on 10 February, Melbourne on 17 February, and a limited number aboard the signature New Year's Eve departure from Melbourne, which affords passengers the extraordinary experience of viewing Antarctica under the glow of the midnight sun.

A pristine white landscape will unfold beneath the aircraft, with a typical flight offering unparalleled views of icebergs, coastal cliffs, majestic glaciers and spectacular mountain ranges, most of which have never been visited by humans.

Phil Asker, Founder and Director of Antarctica Sightseeing Flights, said there was no easier way to explore the world's most remote location than by flying there on a one-day sightseeing trip.

"Antarctica is one of the most spectacular and diverse places on earth, admired by many but visited by few," said Mr Asker, who has seen the white continent from the air almost 50 times.

"Seeing Antarctica is a lifelong dream for many people, but the cost of a cruise and the length of time spent getting there means the closest that most will ever come to seeing the world's last great wilderness area is via the media," he said.

"From our flights, you can see the full majesty of the landscape as we fly figure-eight patterns above the ice, while expert Antarctic expeditioners on board provide commentary about the terrain as well as stories of their own experiences living and working there."

Antarctica Sightseeing Flights can descend to a minimum of 10,000 feet above sea level, or 2,000 feet above the highest terrain for a radius of 180 kilometres.

Strict conditions apply to ensure not only a safe operation, but also to minimise the impact of the sightseeing flight on the perfect environment below.

To maximise viewing opportunities, there are 19 approved flight paths, with selection based on weather forecasts the night before departure, then again on the morning of departure and during the flight when the pilots are in contact with meteorologists to obtain regular satellite picture updates showing clear areas.

Typically, the flight plan will include the Ross Sea with its great expanse of ice, the Italian research base at Terra Nova Bay, Mt Melbourne, Mt Minto, Cape Hallett, Cape Adare and the Ninnis and Mertz Glaciers.

Depending upon viewing conditions, other points of interest may include the Trans Antarctic Mountains to see many spectacular glaciers, international research installations including the French base at Dumont d'Urville and the hut of explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.

Prices range from AUD $1199 for Economy Class Centre to AUD $6999 for Ice Class.  All categories include full international catering and bar service.

These flights are private charters operated by Qantas on behalf of Antarctica Sightseeing Flights. They are not scheduled Qantas services and cannot be booked through Qantas.

For more information on seat classes and availability, or to make a booking, please visit or FreeCall 1800 633 449.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Savour a Weekend of Fine Food and Wine at Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat

Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat in the heart of Victoria's spa country at Hepburn Springs is holding an intimate 'In Season at Peppers' gourmet affair on 1 and 2 February to entice food lovers to experience their Gourmet Food Trail with a banquet of local food and wine experiences.

The weekend event is part of the Peppers Gourmet Food Trail – a program of events, packages and offerings at their collection of stylish resorts and elegant retreats, celebrating the finest food and wine producing regions in Australia and New Zealand.

Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat's 'In Season at Peppers' event will allow guests to explore this gourmet region, which is blessed with a diverse range of local produce, and will give guests the opportunity to taste and experience the journey of produce, from paddock to the plate.

Priced from $620* per person twin share, the 'In Season at Peppers' package includes two nights accommodation, breakfast daily at The Conservatory, a gourmet hamper of regional produce, and an assortment of dining experiences and events.

On Friday evening, food fans will be welcomed with drinks and canapés at the retreat's Tipperary Bar and Lounge.

The following morning, guests are invited to join Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat Executive Chef David Willcocks on an exploration of the Daylesford Farmers Market and a tour of the retreat owner's Birch Estate Farm in nearby Smeaton.

As the sun begins to set on Saturday evening, guests will savour a five-course degustation dinner at The Argus Dining Room designed by Chef Willcocks. The menu will feature a selection of regional produce and wines paired by renowned wine critic and special guest host Nick Stock.

As he does with his lunch and dinner menus at The Argus Dining Room, Chef Willcocks will be incorporating a philosophy of accessible food throughout the degustation dinner.

"Using regional produce in a modern way with a focus on flavour and simplicity is what we're all about," he said.

For those who can't make the weekend event, Peppers Mineral Springs Retreat also has specially crafted 'Summer Gourmet Food Trail Package' which allows guests to embark on a culinary journey at their leisure. Priced from $355* per couple per night (Sunday to Thursday nights), the package includes accommodation in a Traditional Hotel Room, a three-course dinner at The Argus Dining Room on one evening for two people, breakfast daily for two people at The Conservatory and a take home hamper of gourmet delights. Valid until 31 March, 2013.

Call 03 5348 2202 or email

For more information on Peppers Gourmet Food Trail events and packages visit

Catch a classic deal with Mantra Hotels for a summer of cricket

Mantra on Kent
The Boxing Day Test at the MCG is a must-see event on the cricket calendar headlining a summer of Test matches and One-Day games across Australia, and Mantra hotels are offering great rates for fans of the baggy green to get close to all the action.

Stay in Melbourne from 26 to 30 December for the Boxing Day Test series from $169* per night at Mantra 100 Exhibition Street in a 1 Bedroom Apartment and watch the Aussies take on Sri Lanka at the nearby MCG. Great rates are also available at Mantra's selection of six hotels across Melbourne to choose from.

Or catch the New Year Test at the SCG from 3 to 7 January staying at Mantra on Kent from $189* per night in a 1 bedroom apartment. The newly refurbished hotel is close to Darling Harbour, King Street Wharf and the QVB with public transport options to the SCG also nearby. A choice of four Mantra hotels across Sydney are available in the CBD, Parramatta and Chatswood.

Cricket fans unable to catch Sri Lanka in action in the Tests against Australia in Melbourne or Sydney can head to Adelaide on 13 January for some One-Day action, staying at Mantra Hindmarsh Square from $149* per night in a 1 Bedroom Apartment or Mantra on Frome from $184* per night in a 1 Bedroom Apartment.

Or for more One-Day International action, the series against the West Indies kicks off at the WACA in Perth with two games on 1 and 3 February and Mantra on Murray is offering rates from $169* per night in a Queen Studio room or at Mantra on Hay a 2 bedroom apartment from $259* per night. Mantra on Hay is conveniently located within walking distance of the WACA.

The national capital will also play host to a One-Day match against the West Indies on 6 February and Mantra on Northbourne is offering rates from $279* in a standard hotel room, located in the centre of Canberra's attractions and galleries.

Fans looking for a 'big bash' style of cricket will revel in the Twenty20 game against the West Indies at the Gabba in Brisbane and enjoy rates from $229* in a standard hotel room at Mantra on Queen, a recently refurbished centrally located hotel near Eagle Street Pier and Queen Street Mall.

These and many more cricket highlights are taking place across the summer so check out Mantra's great accommodation deals around Australia at or phone 13 15 17.

*Rates are subject to availability. Conditions apply.

MSC White Cliffs to Black Sea Package

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In the lead up to the festive season, MSC Cruises has unwrapped the "perfect gift" . . . a 25-night holiday package which combines a two-night stay in London with a three-week cruise from the White Cliffs of Dover to the Black Sea, visiting two new ports.

Priced from $5726 per person, twin share, the specially-tailored fly/stay/cruise package includes return economy air fare with Emirates from Australia on September 7, 2013 along with transfers, accommodation and all the usual inclusions of the cruise as well as port charges, service charges and flight taxes.

"And, thanks to the flexibility of the air ticket, each passenger has the chance to stay in Europe for up to six months after the cruise," said Lynne Clarke, managing director of MSC Cruises Australia and New Zealand.

"Book for this trip now and you will be offered multiple deals and discounts along with a journey you cannot miss," she said.

"With the festive season nearing, to book this package would be a perfect gift for 2013 as it includes 10 countries and two new ports for MSC Cruises – Ferrol in Spain and Romania's Constanta."

The 21-night cruise will be on board MSC Musica, leaving Dover on September 10, bound for Ferrol as well as the Portugal capital of Lisbon, Malaga (Spain), Tunis, Croatia's Dubrovnik and Venice for an eight-hour stay.

MSC Musica will then cruise to Katakolon in Greece, ancient Istanbul and Yalta and Odessa in the Ukraine before venturing to the new port of Constanta in Romania, Gythion in Greece and Venice.

Details: MSC Cruises, phone 1300 028502 or visit

Monday 10 December 2012

TAUCK Launches 'How You See the World Matters'

Tauck 2013 European Portfolio

2013 Collection Features New-Look Brochure, Four New Itineraries

Tauck has unveiled its 2013 product portfolio for Europe, and for the coming year the leader in premium quality guided travel will offer a diverse array of nearly 70 land and cruise itineraries spanning the continent. Tauck’s 2013 offerings are highlighted in a new 148-page brochure that features a refreshed layout and graphics treatment, and messaging that emphasizes “How You See The World Matters.”

According to Tauck CEO Dan Mahar, “How You See The World Matters” underscores that the way in which travellers experience a place is as important as the place itself. “Travel decisions are typically destination-focused, yet ‘how’ you experience any destination is just as critical to your overall experience as where you travel,” noted Mahar.

The “How You See The World Matters” theme is explored in the opening spreads of the new Tauck brochure, with specific focus on the four key elements that distinguish every Tauck journey, according to Mahar. He identified those elements as innovative “insider” access to unique experiences, the high level of service provided by the company’s professional Tauck Directors, the all-inclusive value that Tauck delivers, and the ease and convenience of having Tauck handle all the details inherent in planning and taking a vacation.


Tauck’s European itineraries are divided among its six product categories, including classic Tauck World Discovery land tours, intimate river cruises, small ship cruises, Bridges family itineraries, special Tauck Events, and active, immersive small-group Culturious journeys. Among the Culturious journeys on tap for next year is a new “Imperial Europe: Budapest, Vienna & Prague” itinerary. Priced from $4,590 (per person, double, plus air), the 10-day journey features a three-night stay in Budapest, three nights in Vienna, and an overnight in Cesky Krumlov before concluding with a two-night stay in Prague.

Throughout the itinerary, Tauck’s guests are treated to a range of unique cultural experiences, including a VIP visit to Vienna’s Spanish Riding School for an up-close look at its renowned Lippizaner Stallions, a wine tasting dinner at a villa and a nighttime tour of the famed Charles Bridge in Prague, club-hopping in unique “ruin pubs” in Budapest, and learning how to make traditional Hungarian strudel in Pest. Like all Culturious journeys, the “Imperial Europe” itinerary is virtually all-inclusive, it is limited to no more than 24 travellers, and it features the services and expert commentary of a trained, professional Tauck Director. Other new Tauck itineraries in Europe for 2013 include “The Heart of Italy: Venezia, Firenze & Roma” (also part of Tauck’s Culturious collection), “Ireland Forever” (a Tauck Bridges family journey), and “The Ultimate Alps & Dolomites.”


With the unveiling of its 2013 European portfolio, Tauck has also announced that it is holding all 2012 prices on its classic “Yellow Roads of Europe” land journeys. (Six “Yellow Roads” itineraries have actually had their prices reduced.) Named for the scenic, less-traveled byways highlighted in yellow on Michelin’s European maps, Tauck’s “Yellow Roads” itineraries provide enhanced access and perspective during visits to Europe’s iconic, “must-see” landmarks, while also traveling off-the-beaten-path to lesser-known sites and experiences that reveal the authentic local culture of each place.

Tauck is also encouraging its past guests to make their 2013 European travel plans early, through its Gift of Time offer. This unique gesture provides returning Tauck guests with more of what they seek in their travels – time in their destination of choice – by letting them extend their 2013 European journey with a complimentary hotel night. The complimentary Gift of Time hotel night applies to all 2013 departures of Tauck’s European land journeys, and it is available to returning Tauck guests who book prior to December 28, 2012 (other conditions apply).

For further information on TAUCK please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit

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Young, Beautiful And Glamorous: The Emerald City Welcomes Her Newest Supermodel, Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Cruises' beautiful Celebrity Solstice has finally reached her new Australian home port, docking at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal at 6.30am yesterday morning, Sunday 9 December.

Launched almost four years to the day, she is the youngest and most modern superliner to make Australia her home.  She is also the highest-rated Australian-based cruise ship, according to cruise industry bible The Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships 2012.

Her arrival is a hallmark moment as Celebrity Solstice brings a new level of sophistication to the Australian cruising scene. She offers an elegant and contemporary style of cruise holiday, with unique features like the Lawn Club, half an acre of real lawn where guests can enjoy the luxury of feeling real grass under their feet in the middle of the ocean; spa-resort inspired AquaClass accommodation; a glass-blowing studio; and restaurants and bars that equal the best on land.

Celebrity Solstice arrived in Sydney at the end of a 16-night Asia and Australia cruise, which began in Singapore on the ship's fourth birthday, 23 November 2012. There were 2,800 guests on board – 60 per cent of whom are international guests hailing mainly from the US and the UK.

With the ability to carry 2,850 guests per cruise and weighing in at 122,000 tonnes, the 317-metre long Celebrity Solstice becomes the second largest cruise ship ever to be based in Australia – only surpassed by Voyager of the Seas from sister cruise line Royal Caribbean International.  In her debut summer 2012/13 season, Celebrity Solstice will carry over 30,000 guests from Australia, New Zealand and around the world.

Celebrity Solstice's inaugural program features 17 Australian and New Zealand cruises from Sydney, Perth and Auckland calling at 28 ports in seven countries.

Ship facts

Tonnage                              122,000
Capacity                               2,850 guest (double occupancy)
Crew                                     1,250
Length                                  317.2m
Width                                    36.8m

 (approximate times only)

Sunday 9 December

Celebrity Solstice arrives at the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT), Circular Quay

Scheduled time of departure on one-night 'cruise-to-nowhere'

Monday 10 December

Celebrity Solstice arrives at the OPT, remaining docked in Sydney overnight

Tuesday 11 December

Scheduled time of departure on 13-night cruise to New Zealand

Helicopter images of Celebrity Solstice arriving in Sydney captured by Eugene Tan from Aquabumps and images of Celebrity Solstice at the Overseas Passenger by Richard Birch.

Epic Voyage to the USA aboard Norwegian Epic

CRUISE holiday specialists have released a 35-night package that includes 27-nights cruising from Barcelona to Miami on board the Norwegian Epic, departing October 13, 2013 priced from only $5,999 per person twin share.

Spend three nights at the Hilton Diagonal Mar Hotel, Barcelona exploring the city with a Barcelona City sightseeing pass before boarding the cruise. Port visits include Naples, Rome and Florence in Italy; Marseille in France; Majorca and Barcelona in Spain before heading to Philipsburg, St Maarten; the US Virgin Islands and Bahamas and ending the journey in Miami, Florida.

With almost an equal number of days at sea and in port, there are many facilities and services on board to keep you busy as you cruise between destinations. There are 17 different dining venues to try as well numerous bars, lounges and clubs, for all ages. Activities on the ship include bowling, a rock climbing wall, basketball courts, sports complex and the first ever Aqua park - with three multi-story water slides, including the Epic Plunge; the only tube slide at sea.

Also included is a two night post-cruise stay at the Miami Hilton Downtown before spending a further three nights in Las Vegas to try your hand at the tables, take in a show or hit the clothing outlets; before flying back to Australia.

Book before March 31, 2013 to receive the great price of $6,599 per person for a balcony room and if you feel like spoiling yourself the mini-suite with balcony is only $7,299 per person.

Prices also include return economy airfares from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, transfers, on board gratuities and port charges and government taxes.

For more information on the ship and itinerary contact on 1300 369 848 or check-out

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Travellers Reveal their Favourite Destinations, Tours, Resorts and Hotels in the Country

  • Australia Votes SYDNEY Best City
  • Margaret River Awarded Best Town In Australia
At the second annual Australian Traveller Readers' Choice Awards, held Tuesday 4 December, Sydney was crowned Australia's Favourite City and Margaret River the Best Town in Australia. The event was held at Ivy, Sydney, amongst 200 Australian travel and leisure industry peers.

"Being voted by travellers themselves, the survey results are an accurate mark of what Australians recognise as the best adventures and destinations, and which leisure operators are excelling in their field. It's also an indication of domestic travel trends for 2013," says Georgia Rickard, editor of Australian Traveller magazine.

Sydney swooped in taking the crown as Australia's Favourite City from last year's winner, Melbourne - by a single vote.

"Judging by the startling number of Sydney award winners (five in total), it's the city's buzzing cosmopolitan delights that are clearly appealing to travellers," continues Rickard.

"It's not just about the picture-perfect beaches and harbour attractions. We are increasingly seeing Sydney's hatted restaurants push culinary expectations, luxury hotels gain world-wide acclaim, and chic hidden bars popping-up all over the city. "

Queensland was the highest-winning state, taking out a staggering seven awards with New South Wales hotly on its heels with five.

Western Australia also received several awards. Margaret River, Australia's capital of wine and waves, won Best Town for the second consecutive year. Readers lauded its quality restaurants, wineries, art galleries, farm gates and boutique accommodation, not to mention "awesome surf." The Kimberley, a destination on most people's bucket list, took out two gongs: Australia's Dream Destination and Best Adventure Holiday Destination in Australia.

The Readers' Choice Awards are the only consumer awards for tourism in Australia. Over 1000 Australian Traveller magazine readers nominated their all-time favourite travel destinations and experiences throughout the country in a survey comprising 22 categories conducted by the magazine over the past four months.

The full list of award winners and runners-up, plus explanations, and the top travel trends for 2013 is published in the summer edition of Australian Traveller magazine, on sale Wednesday 5 December. They can also be found at

Australian Traveller Readers' Choice Awards Winners

Sydney, NSW

A Weekend In Sydney, NSW

Margaret River, WA

Quay, Sydney, NSW

Opera Bar, Sydney, NSW

Whitsundays, QLD

The Kimberley, WA

Gold Coast, QLD


qualia, Hamilton Island, QLD

Crown Hotels Melbourne, VIC

The Kimberley, WA

Daly Waters Pub, NT

BridgeClimb, Sydney, NSW

Bareboating in the Whitsunday Islands, QLD

The Ghan




Glass on Glasshouse, QLD

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, QLD


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Cathay Pacific Early Bird Fares

Cathay Pacific

While you may be scratching your head about what to buy your family and friends this Christmas, at least with Cathay Pacific's fantastic Europe Earlybird sale fares there's one purchase you can make this December that you won't have to think twice about.

On sale until the 31 December, Cathay Pacific still has both Economy and Premium Economy fares on offer to popular destinations across Europe such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Frankfurt, Rome and Moscow for travel between 1 April – 31 May 2013 and 1 September - 31 October 2013.  Fares start from as little as $1,655 from Melbourne to Rome in Economy and $3,156 from Adelaide to Moscow in Premium Economy.

Arrive in Europe well-rested with Cathay Pacific's new Economy and Premium Economy cabins that are now available on flights from Sydney, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns.

The airline's new Economy seats not only offer more leg room, but more living and personal storage space as well as a high-resolution 9-inch personal televisions with a touch screen.  A USB outlet and an iPod/iPhone outlet also allows passengers to connect their own mobile devices to view content through the personal television.

Cathay Pacific's new Premium Economy also features a host of extras, including special check-in facilities, priority boarding and an extra luggage allowance.  And once onboard guests will enjoy newly designed and deeply cushioned seats, extra leg room and a seat pitch of 38 inches - six more inches than Economy, as well as a glass of champagne or orange juice on take-off and an enhanced meal selection, with choices that you would also find in Business Class. The new seat also features a large meal table, cocktail table, footrest, a 10.6-inch personal television, an in-seat power outlet, a multi-port connector for personal devices and extra personal stowage space.

To book your ticket or for more information visit or see your travel agent.

*The quoted fares are all RRP for low season travel including all taxes and surcharges. Higher fares apply for departures from 1 June – 31 August 2013.  Taxes and surcharges correct at 05 December 2012 and are subject to currency fluctuation. Surcharges are subject to change. Other terms and conditions apply.

Tuesday 4 December 2012


Inline images 1

A rare de Havilland Mosquito Fighter Bomber has been confirmed to attend January's Wings Over Wairarapa airshow in Masterton, New Zealand as the feature display aircraft.

The Mosquito FB.26 KA114 is the only one flying in the world and will take to the skies above Wairarapa in the biennial airshow at Masterton's Hood Aerodrome over Wellington Anniversary Weekend (January 18 – 20, 2013).

Originally built in Canada in 1945, the aircraft attending Wings Over Wairarapa is owned by American Jerry Yagen. It took seven years to rebuild at Ardmore Aerodrome by Auckland based Avspecs, lead by Warren Denholm.

Wings Over Wairarapa Airshow Director Tom Williams says securing the Mosquito is a major coup for the event and will attract international attention. He was instrumental in securing the Mosquito after first meeting its owner, Mr Jerry Yagen in 2008 at the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshow.

Mr Williams said: "The Mosquito was one of the fastest operational aircraft in World War II and the only one to be constructed almost entirely of wood. Its significance to World War II history is not to be underestimated. The legendary Mosquito has a fond place in the hearts of Australian and New Zealand airmen with about 250 aircraft being built in Australia during the war."

Wings Over Wairarapa Community Trust Chairman Bob Francis is thrilled the Mosquito is able to come to Masterton as the feature aircraft.

 "Having this Mosquito take to the skies at Wings Over Wairarapa is an enormous achievement," he said. "It will provide visitors with a once in a life time opportunity to see this unique aircraft fly and line up alongside 12 other de Havilland aircraft that range from an early World War II bi-plane, the DH5, to the DH Vampire Jet."

The Mosquito nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder" first flew in November 1940, and was faster than the Spitfire with a top speed of over 400 mph, meaning bombing missions were dramatically shortened, lessening the risk to pilots.

Its versatility meant it was also used in other roles including day-time tactical bombing, high altitude night bombing and photo-reconnaissance. In wartime, these innovative flying machines came out of huge factories and were powered by twin Merlin engines. Around 6000 Mosquitos rolled off the British production line; others were built in Canada and Australia. Around 80 ended up in New Zealand and were used by the RNZAF.

The Mosquito will feature alongside over 70 other aircraft during the three day Wings Over Wairarapa event, which has the theme Honouring The Past, Celebrating The Future. It will have vintage aircraft from WWI, classics from WWII and stunning displays by contemporary aircraft as well as offering a tantalizing glimpse of the future of aviation.

While celebrating the historical significance of WWI & WWII military aircraft, Wings Over Wairarapa 2013 will also feature displays from other rarely seen vintage aircraft, agricultural displays, gliders and helicopter displays, jet formations and thrilling aerobatics as well as substantial participation from the RNZAF. The flying each day will culminate in a dramatic pyrotechnic display and mock air field attack lighting up the skies and entertaining the crowds.

In addition to what's on up in the air, there will be entertainment on the ground with mock battles, static displays including a combined Defense Forces interactive camp, children's entertainment, contemporary and vintage military vehicles, a trade site village and a Food & Wine Festival showcasing the best of Wairarapa hospitality.

Tickets to Wings Over Wairarapa 2013 are on sale through all Ticketek retail outlets, by phoning 0800 TICKETEK or online through

Programme for Trust House Wings Over Wairarapa 2013.

Friday January 18: Practice Day. Gates opening from 12.00pm with aircraft practicing their displays informally throughout the afternoon culminating in an informal early evening show finishing at 7.00pm.

Saturday January 19 & Sunday 20: Gates will open from 8.00am with the air display running from 11.00am to 4.30pm on both days.  The flying each day will culminate in a mock air field attack and a dramatic pyrotechnic display, lighting up the skies and thrilling the crowds. The programme may vary slightly on each day.


Denali, a century after climbers first reached the summit

In June 1913, a climbing expedition team became the first to reach the pinnacle of Mount McKinley, and climbing the 20,320 feet to the peak of North America’s tallest mountain was no small victory. A century later, Alaskans and visitors will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first successful assent with a number of activities in 2013. For those who wish to make the climb themselves, the months of May and June offer the best chance for success. But for those who just want to experience the stunning beauty and historical signifigance of Denali, commemorative events such as a special National Parks exhibit at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North and a sustainable summits symposium in Talkeetna, Sept. 8-11, are great places to start. There are also opportunities to get outdoors and see Denali up close without putting on crampons. From bus tours to whitewater rafting, ATV tours, day hikes and flightseeing, there are endless ways to see Denali National Park and Preserve and catch views of the majestic Mount McKinley.


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Friday 30 November 2012

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines launches Business Class air fare sale from Australia to Europe.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is enabling travellers to enjoy the journey as much as the destination with a range of new Business Class fares from Australia to Europe.

Until 15 December, fares are available for bookings from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to more than 80 European destinations. Fares include:
  • Perth to Amsterdam from AUD$5698, Paris from AUD$5895, Rome from AUD$5827, Barcelona from AUD$5830 and from Prague from AUD$5833
  • Sydney to Amsterdam from AUD$5865, Paris from AUD6063, Rome from AUD$5995, Barcelona from AUD$5997 and from Prague from AUD$6000
  • Melbourne to Amsterdam from AUD$5848, Paris from AUD6046, Rome from AUD$5977, Barcelona from AUD$5980 and from Prague from AUD$5983
  • Brisbane to Amsterdam from AUD$5871, Paris from AUD6068, Rome from AUD$6000, Barcelona from AUD$6003 and from Prague from AUD$6006
  • Adelaide to Amsterdam from AUD$5854, Paris from AUD6053, Rome from AUD$5984, Barcelona from AUD$5986 and from Prague from AUD$5990
When flying KLM's World Business Class on long haul journeys, passengers can expect extra baggage allowances and priority baggage handling, plus access to KLM's Crown Lounges or the lounges of partner airlines.

In the air, KLM's World Business Class includes 190cm sleeper seats, which recline to 175 degrees and include a massage unit, a privacy canopy between seats, an extensive personal entertainment system, in-seat power and a personal amenities kit developed by Dutch design duo Viktor and Rolf.

World Business Class catering includes a three-course menu served on Marcel Wanders crockery. Meals are accompanied with fine wine or other beverages and as a gift Business Class passengers receive one of the airline's signature Delft Blue miniature houses filled with Dutch gin.

The fares are based on low season travel from Australia to Kuala Lumpur with codeshare partner Malaysia Airlines, and between Kuala Lumpur and Europe with KLM.

Fares are available for travel between 16 January and 31 March, 2013, and include fuel surcharges and taxes, correct at 21 November, 2012.

Seats are limited at these prices and subject to availability to requested dates of travel.  Prices are subject to change without notice.

KLM offers over 100 code share flights per week from Australia to Europe, via Asia.  For more information or to make a booking, contact travel agents, call KLM in Australia on 1300 392 192 or visit


Leading cruise line MSC Cruises has got into the Christmas/New Year celebrations by offering a series of bonuses hard to pass up.

Book a cruise during the holiday season and you can pick one of three add-on gifts:

·         Drinks package, where you can enjoy a choice of five wines and beers or non alcoholic beverages to enjoyed unlimited during lunch and dinner on board the ship;
·         Cabin upgrade, whether it is from an inside to outside cabin, or outside cabin to balcony cabin;
·         On-Board credit' to enjoy towards health and beauty, specialty dining, shopping, etc

All the above offers apply to new bookings between December 1, 2012 and January 15, 2013 for seven-night or longer cruises travelling from March 23, 2013 starting from $609pp twin share (exclusions apply on some dates and itineraries).

Pick your Gift upgrade offer does not apply to Balcony Suites or any MSC Yacht Club Suite bookings and cannot be combined with other offers, excluding MSC Loyalty Club.

A maximum of $300 per cabin is allowed when selecting on-board credit or the drinks package option. And all guests in the same cabin must choose the same gift.

Details: MSC Cruises, phone 1300 028502 or check out


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