TRAVEL DEALS: embrace or escape winter around the world

Oia village, Santorini, Greece

Received travel wisdom states that some of the world’s best
sunsets are to be viewed in the village of Oia, on the island of Santorini. Save
$963 when you book the cliff-top Fanari Villas for four nights between July 1
and September 30. Includes breakfasts and a bottle of local wine. Costs $1310 a
suite for four nights, 1300
853 953, travel agents,


For a steamy city break, you can’t go past Saigon, with its
rich food culture, so it’ll be as hot in the kitchen as it is poolside. Temps
don’t change much, the difference is how much rain you get. A three-day cooking
package includes classes at the Saigon Culinary School, accommodation and
airport transfers, travel July 1-September 30, from $275 a person, twin share,
1300 747 400,
The hotter the better: the Banyan Tree Mayakoba, in Cancun, puts its money
where its mouth is, offering a discount on your room, spa and boutique
that’s  based on the temperature at noon
that day. Balmy Cancun sees noontime temps of around 30 Celsius, which will
give you 30 percent off. Book July 1-20, stay July 1-September 30. Costs from
$643 plus tax a night (before discount), 1800 050 019, 
The coldest you’ll
get on the Mary River wetlands, two hours from Darwin, is 19 degrees at night,
but in the daytime, up to a toasty 33 degrees, nirvana for us southerners. With
low rainfall, millions of birds gather at the remaining waterfalls, making this
a great time for twitchers. Stay three nights, pay two on stays Monday-Friday.
Book by July 31, travel by November 30. Includes breakfast and
three-course dinner daily. Tours and transfers from Darwin cost extra. Costs
$490 a person, two nights in a safari tent, (08) 8978 8955,
Hot nights
in the Caribbean come with a cool price tag at the five-star Viceroy Anguilla,
which is offering four nights for the price of three until end October. Design
aficionados will know the resort, decorated by US interiors goddess Kelly
Wearstler. The rest of us just love the white-sand beaches, the spa, the
saltwater infinity pool… Costs
$1185 for four nights, +925 298 9325,

 Kenya Mt Kilimanjaro from Elerai

Winter in Kenya isn’t exactly hardship, and it’s when all
the animals are most active. Save $1000 a couple on a seven-night Out of Africa
Air Safari departing July 15. Zip between the top game parks including Masai
Mara in a Cessna Caravan aircraft, staying in the tiny, beautiful Satao Elerai
near Amboseli and Satao Camp in Tsavo. Costs $4870 a person, twin share, 1300
195 873,
The young and the old get the best deals at Hotham, with
under 5s and over 70s skiing free, while kids 6-14 years ski free when they’re
with a paying adult who’s booked a three-night accommodation package during the
Value Season (September 17-30). Adults are best to snap up a three-day ski pass
for $270, saving $48, 1800 468 426, 
The Sydney Winter Festival runs July 22 – August 11, with
ice shows, ice-skating and, best of all, winter food to warm the cockles of
your heart and stomach. The InterContinental Sydney does its bit, serving
mussels and wine daily for $20. Save 20 percent off the best daily rate Fridays
to Sundays until September 30, includes buffet breakfast, internet and late
check-out. Costs from $550 for two nights, (02) 9253 9000,
Zealand’s iconic Huka Lodge turns up the heat with cosy log fires and throws in
very special events at no extra costs. Get your pencils out for the Big Red
Dinner hosted by Waiheke Island’s Stonyridge Wines (August 11) or the Marlborough affair that
is Dog Point Winemaker’s Dinner (July 14). Costs from $795 plus GST a person, +64
7 378 5791,
 South Africa Hluhluwe (Gecko Adventures)
Rug up and climb aboard your safari vehicle to cruise the
wildlife parks of South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland. The trip stars in
Jo’berg, finishing in Cape Town and includes guides, park fees and camping
gear. Get 30 percent off Gecko’s 23-day African Mosaic trip departing July 20.
Was $2583, now $1985 a person, twin share, 1300 791 478,
Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald newspaper

TRAVEL DEALS: 24 June 2012


Senator Bob Brown, ex-judge Michael Kirby and sailor
Jessica Watson are all packing their bags and heading to Byron Bay for the
annual writer’s festival, 3-5 August, when the town goes crazy. Get in early to
grab a twin or double room at the Byron Bay YHA and save $25. They’ll also
throw a bacon & egg roll and coffee in for good measure.  Costs $175 a room for two nights, 1800 678
Deep in the heart of Kakadu lies the Holiday Inn Gagadju
Crocodile, an Indigenous-owned, crocodile-shaped hotel 2½ hours from Darwin,
and close by the celebrated Aboriginal rock art galleries Nourlangie Rock and
Ubirr. Stay before September 29 and quote ‘stay clever’ to get up to 30 percent
off with free breakfast. Kids under 17 get to stay free, under 12s get to eat
free, too, until September 30. Normally $292 a night, costs from $244 a double room,
two-night minimum, 1800 007 697,
Medina Executive South Yarra
Facelifts deserve a party to show off, so the Medina
Executive South Yarra is cutting 10 percent off two-night stays in its newly
revamped hotel.  With new furnishings and
kitchens, the apartment hotel includes a revamped pool, if you’re up to braving
the Melbourne winter, or the more sensible option, the Drawing Room’s fireplace
and cosy chairs. The deal includes continental breakfast for two, parking and
noon check-out on stays until August 31. Costs $294 for two nights, 1300 633
season has begun in WA, and with the added lure of truly beautiful wine, why
aren’t we in the Margaret River right now? The tiny 4.5-star Losari Retreat is
carving 34 percent off stays in its six spa villas until September 4. With
their lake views, hot outdoor Jacuzzis, double showers and cosy lounges, the
villas are built for snuggling up. Otherwise, get out with horseriding on the
property or cruise the nearby world-class cellar doors.  Costs from $490 for two nights, 1300 130 485,
There’s a reason why Daydream Island is thus named: its
white-sand beaches and golden sunsets are the stuff of screensavers. Stay five
nights for the price of four in a garden balcony room with breakfast daily. Drawcards
include coral reefs, starlit cinema, the popular kids’ club and its famed spa.  Book by December 20, travel by March 31, 2013,
land only. Costs $612 a person, twin share, 1300 747 400,
One of Australia’s great multi-day walks, the Arkaba Walk
takes the slow route through the Flinders Ranges. The four-way walk covers 45km
and does it in style: it’s fully guided and fully catered for, with
pre-bush-dinner drinks and star-gazing from your cosy swag deck. Save 25
percent on departures on July 5 and 19, and August 23. Costs $1500 a person,
1300 790 561,
Hurl your skis into the back of your campa van and head
for the hills this winter. JUCY Rentals is throwing in a free six or seven day
adult ski pass for Treble Cone ski field in Wanaka, worth NZ$570, with every
car or campa hired in NZ during July 1-September 30. Vans cost from NZ$25 a
day, 1800 150 850,
Stay three nights for the price of two at the five-star
Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur. Pay from $465 per person twin share for your stay in a
Horizon Executive room and get breakfast daily, return airport transfers and
club access with free non-alcoholic beverages and snacks all day, a free
cocktail buffet, drinks in the evening and internet. Valid for sale until
August 31 and for travel until October 31 and also between November 5and December
20, 1300 939 414,

Get out of Phuket’s concrete jungle and into the tropical
jungle at the five-star Trisara, which has just 39 pool villas and 18 private
compound-style residences. The little resort, just 15 minutes from Phuket
airport, has 2km of private coastline. Book a two-night stay before October 31
and get US$200 credit for each night to spend in the resort’s restaurants, bars
and spa. Package includes airport transfers, breakfast, wi-fi, kids’ club and
daily snacks.  Pool villas cost from US$695++ a night, +66 76 310
The five-star Jean Michel Cousteau eco-resort, near
Savusavu, is offering six nights for the price of four, as well as free
massage, diving for certified divers, all gourmet meals, non-alcoholic drinks,
snorkelling trips and a marine biologist on tap, saving 35 percent. Garden view
bures can accommodate two adults and two kids under 13. Stay October
14-December 21, and January 7-March 31. Costs $2148 an adult for six nights,
Registan Square, Samarkand
Get around diabolical transport conundrums in Georgia,
Armenia and on the Silk Road by travelling by private jet. Fly Singapore
Airlines to Istanbul where your jet awaits to whisk you away to Kashgar in
western China, Samarkand, Bukhara and the walled city of Khiva. Armenia reveals
Yerevan, and explore cave frescoes in Georgia’s David Gareji Monastery before
arriving in Ukraine’s Yalta and Sevastopol. The
19-day tour departs September 3, 2013. Book by March 31, 2013, save $500. Costs
$28,915 a person, twin share, 1800 650 738,
Extreme 19th hole, South Africa
Tee off from the Extreme 19th Hole, which is accessible
only by helicopter, and aim for the green, which is  420 meters below, in the shape of the
continent of Africa. This par-three hole, in northern South Africa, is a golfer’s
dream. According to South African golfing great Gary Player, it takes 24
seconds for the ball to hit the ground, and there’s $1m for anyone who gets a
hole-in-one. Each hole of the 8km-long championship course was designed by top
golfers including Bernhard Langer, Luke Donald and Vijay Singh. This package
includes two nights at the Legend Golf & Safari Resort and green fees on
the 18-hole Signature golf course. Book and travel by August 31. Costs $499 a
person, 1300 320 795,

TRAVEL DEALS: 17 June 2012

Cambodia: World Expeditions
 Campervans are officially hot – you can strap your board
on, pack the kids or set up a moving lounge room and head across Australia. An
army of Dutch and German tourists can’t be wrong. Crank up the cost-effective
Aussie road trip adventure and save 5 per cent off for campervan bookings
before June 30 for travel until December 31 2012. Quote the promo code “FAIR”
when booking. Costs from $28 a day for a two-berth vehicle, relocations cost from
$1 a day, 
Victoria’s little sister
of ski, Lake Mountain, is best known for its 37km of cross-country skiing and toboggan
slopes. Just two hours north of Melbourne, save $200 when you buy a Works
Package, which gets two adults and two children ski and toboggan hire, a 90-minute
cross-country ski lesson, family lunch voucher and vehicle entry. Costs
$249 for a family of four, (03) 5957 7201,
Lake Mountain, Victoria
Soak up the serenity in the Clare Valley, a renowned
antiques haunt 1½ hours north of Adelaide. Save $150 on a midweek deal
(Mon-Thurs nights) at River Walk Cottage until end July. The new two-bedroom
B&B sleeps six for an instant house party, with open fires and provisions
for the big brekky, chocolates and a bottle of Taylor’s wine. The nearby Rising
Sun is worth a visit for lunch. Costs $300 for three nights,
The dolphins are on tap at the Shark Bay World Heritage
region, so it’s not a case of ‘blink and you’ll miss ‘em’. Stay four nights,
get one night free in a garden villa at the 3.5-star Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort.
Includes breakfast for you and the dolphins at a daily feed’n’frolic session.
Travel before until December 14 (excluding 4-21 July). Costs $830 for four
nights, 138 833,
Take to the Sunshine Coast by foot on an eco-tastic,
small-group walking trip along the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk,
through the Glass House Mountains and Noosa National Park. Book the Sunshine
Coast Hinterland (6-10 August) followed by a Lamington National Park trip
(13-17 August) and save $200. Trips are fully guided and include meals, transfers
and accommodation, including O’Reilly’s Guesthouse. Normally $1690 a person for
a tour, book both by August 5, costs $3180 a person for two tours, (03) 9877
Freycinet coast is home to one of the world’s best beaches, Wineglass Bay, and
the 11-day Forgotten
Coast trip lets you explore by boat, foot or kayak up to the wildly beautiful
Bay of Fires, on to Launceston and across the island in a small group of up to
16. Save $290 on bookings
made six months before departure, with departures from October 31 to April 24.
Costs from $5540 a person, twin share, 1800 467 747,
French food and tropical weather: Noumea
food and tropical weather – isn’t Noumea just perfect? Stay five nights, pay
for four at the Ramada Plaza Noumea, which is also throwing in a Flavour Savour
tour, a French cooking class, daily breakfasts, a two-course lunch, 10 percent
off spa treatments and a voucher to blow at Le Casino. Costs from $1559 a
person, including flights with Aircalin, book until 3pm June 29, 1300 130 485,
in Malaysian Borneo, is an eco-tourism paradise with bizarre proboscis monkeys,
love-filled orang utan sanctuaries and amazing caves.  Times are a-changing with the arrival of the
first international hotel brand: the new harbourside Four Points’ opening
special runs until December 31 and includes breakfast for two, wi-fi and 4pm
check out. Costs from $67++ for a deluxe room, +60 89 244 888,
Treat your bestie to an adventure with World Expedition’s
buy one, get one free 11-day small-group tours to Cambodia and Laos departing
July 20 and August 3 and 24. In Cambodia, discover Phnom Penh, take a cooking
class in Battambang and explore Angkor Wat by bike, then it’s all bears and
Buddhas in Laos. Costs $2790 for two people, 1300 720 000,
$$$$ INDIA
Riding the Himalayas, Extreme Bike Tours
Ride an Indian through the Himalayas: the Indian is a
Royal Enfield motorbike, and the 15-day journey traverses the world’s highest
rideable roads from Leh, in eastern Kashmir, along Khardung La and into the
Nubra Valley, within co-eee of the Tibetan border and down to Manali, stopping
for pics of two-humped camels. Cut a third off the price when mentioning this page,
departs August 22-September 5. Now costs $2,565 for riders, $1,971 for pillion, land only, +91 9665 377 344,
$$$$$ TURKEY
Your steed is a late model BMW motorcycle, the biking
nirvana is Turkey. Ride the stunning Turquoise Coast, visit poignant ANZAC battlegrounds
of Gallipoli and sleep in a cave hotel in the fairy chimney landscape of
Cappadocia on the 21-day Treasures of Turkey. To save 10 per cent on bookings
before July 31 for a September 4 departure, quote ‘SHTOT12’. Includes bike, fuel,
meals, accommodation and guides. Costs $10,208 for riders, $5,598 for pillion, land only,
1300 887 327,  
Visit Europe on a small-group, fully escorted tour that
includes boutique hotel accommodation and plenty of free time for your own
exploration and picnics! With transport in new nine-seater mini coaches,
Interlude Tours’ annual 35-day autumn Europe tour travels through France, Italy
and Spain. “We have a lot of repeat customers, so we go to different places
each year,” says tour owner and driver Jeanette Savage. “This year, we’re doing
a D-Day tour in Normandy, visiting the Guggenheim in Bilbao and we’ll stay
longer in Tuscany.”  She’s also excited
about seeing the historic Bayeux tapestry for the first time. The fare includes
return air fares Sydney to Paris with Thai Airways, departing September 18.
Costs $10,995 a person, twin share, (02) 94052218,

Belinda Jackson
Source: Sun Herald

The best little baby muffins

What’s cooking in the kitchen tonight: banana, sultana and coconut muffins. Best ever, thanks Bern!
From “How it all vegan
anything-goes, fruit-filled muffins

2 cups flour (I split wholemeal and plain for extra grunt)
½ tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
½ cup sweetener (honey, syrup, apple juice concentrate, rice malt, date
2 eggs
¼ cup oil
¾ up milk – add 1 tsp vinegar to milk or use buttermilk
1½ cups fruit fresh or frozen (a great way to use up aging bananas)

Oven 180 degrees. Large bowl, stir flour, salt baking
powder. Add sweetener, eggs, oil, milk and fruit. Stir together till just
mixed. Scoop into oiled muffin tins and bake 35-40mins. Makes 6 big muffins or gazillions (ok, 20) little tiny baby muffins, baked for around only 15 minutes.
Because of the fruit, these muffins don’t keep that well. They can also be used
as a vehicle for adding healthy oil to a diet.

Tea-leaf theif: Tease of the teas

Banyan Tree Seoul

Ok, so I put my hand up to souveniring interesting teas from any hotel I find myself holed up in.

Let me tell you: there is nothing worse than checking in to a
no-holds-barred hotel or villa, complete with hefty price tag, then finding miserable, cheap tea and  nasty instant coffee in the room. It’s
like lining the bins with plastic Coles bags. Yet hoteliers do it
time and time again.

If I want tea, I want the real McCoy. Little leaves floating and ultimately drowning in piping hot water, a cute strainer and a pretty cup and saucer. Right now, a white ceramic teapot sits on the desk, and my office is perfumed with freshly brewing Earl Grey tea.

Recent notable exceptions include Sentosa Villas in Bali, which had not only sachets of Balinese coffee but also some pretty special peppermint leaves and great Earl Grey and the Banyan Tree Seoul, for its tea pyramids of silk, cocooning lavender earl grey. Mind you, they did offer to charge me $6 to have milk delivered to the room. Lucky it’s drunk black. 

Recently, at the gorgeous Eclectic Tastes cafe in Ballarat, I was served
a pot of tea, complete with nana-knitted tea cosy and a strainer that I
just couldn’t work out. It was a rubik’s cube for tea drinkers. It was

A tea drinker from my teenage years, I’ve just realised why I stopped
ordering tea in cafes so many years ago – because I got sick of being
charged $3 for a cheap, tannin-stained mug filled with hot water and a
20-cent bag. At least coffee looks like it has a bit of work put into
it. At least, that’s what the psychology grads – sorry, baristas – tell us.

Eclectic Tastes, 2 Burnbank St, Ballarat (03) 5339 9252

Travel deals: Destination Canberra special! 10 June 2012

Hyatt Hotel Canberra

$150 Happy Hour deals

Click onto ‘Happy Hour’, between 12-1pm every Thursday in
June, to book a great accommodation deal and get a $150 voucher to spend at the
Canberra Centre, National Zoo & Aquarium, Canberra Glassworks or a combined
3inFun pass plus Skate in the City experience. The 3inFun pass includes
entrance to the Australian Institute of Sport, Cockington Green Gardens and
Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre), 1300 889 026,
Canberra’s most historic hotel, the Hyatt, is a sprawling
1920s pile in the parliamentary triangle, renowned for its afternoon tea in the
Tea Lounge and the place to be seen for Friday afternoon drinks. Stay two
nights in a Park Room and get 50 per cent off the Hyatt Daily Rate on stays
from Thursdays to Sundays until December 31. Costs from $187.50 a night, (02)
6270 1234,
Warm up for
your ski trip with an overnighter in Canberra. Mantra on Northbourne gets you
up early and primed for the snowfields with a couple of beanies, two travel
mugs and a bacon & egg brekky roll and muffin with hot coffee or chocolate
thrown into the deal. The Go Ski Package is for stays Friday to Sunday until August 31 and saves
$50 a night. Costs from $219 a room, 131 517,
Travel the world’s oldest highway through an exotic
exhibition now showing exclusively at the National Museum of Australia. Great
for kids and parents, with interactive computer displays and rooms lush with
silks and life-sized camels. The Novotel Canberra’s Cultural Getaway includes
tickets to the exhibition, a full buffet breakfast and a bottle of wine on
mentioning this column. Travel until July 29, costs from $180 a room, (02) 6245
Crowne Plaza


Get the winter woollies and the walking shoes out and
discover Canberra’s parklands and riverside walks, the National Gallery and the
National Portrait Gallery. Stay two nights at the Crowne Plaza Canberra and
save up to $230. Book the Discover package until August 17, stay until August
31, includes buffet breakfast. Costs from $175 a room a night, 138 388,
Families get the
best of the bunch with a Family 3-in-1 Fun Pass giving two adults and up
to three kids entry to Questacon, the Australian Institute of Sport and
Cockington Green Gardens when they stay at the Canberra City YHA. Package
includes breakfast and one night’s accommodation, until October 31. YHA members
get another 10 percent discount: membership costs from $32 for adults, kids
under 18 free with an adult. Costs from $295 per family a night, ensuite room
(non-members), save $49, (02) 6248 9155,
Stay at one of Medina’s two apartment hotels, the Medina
Executive James Court in central Canberra on Northbourne Ave, or Medina Classic
Canberra in swanky Kingston, and get 25 per cent off the best available rate
and free parking for travel before July 10, quoting this deal. Costs from $230
a night before discount, (02) 6240 1234 (James Court), from $210 before
discount, (02) 6239 8100 (Classic Canberra),   

Source: Sun Herald

Crazed monkeys and limbless Frenchmen: This is The News

Spread out before me is the latest copy of the Bali Advertiser, a local rag published mostly in English, which I picked up at the front of Biku cafe last week. 
I’d stopped in to Biku for a coffee and tarot reading (both very good). I would have skipped the tarot and read the Local News headlines, if I’d realised it was such gripping stuff, particularly the local news page which featured stories on a killer monkey and a limbless swimmer.
East Bali residents hunt down killer monkey:
Residents of Nongan Village, Karangasem, East Bali, are still searching for a crazed monkey that attacked and killed a man on Monday 14/5…Villagers suspected that the monkey was seeking revenge for a previous gunshot wound when the monkey was shot by hunters. “Any monkey that is not a pet is a suspect,” said Police Chief Adjunct Senior Commissioner of Karangasem Jefri Torunde.  
Limbless Frenchman Swims from PNG to Indonesia:
A Frenchman who lost his limbs in an electrical accident has..(swim) from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia in the first stretch of a mission to swim between five continents.
Apparently, it took 7.5 hours to cover the 20-km journey. 

Other stories included the Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby’s sentence being cut, a plague of tuberculosis in Eastern Indonesia and a tale of a 54-year-old Australian hairdresser being nabbed with a kilogram of hash and 5g of crystal meth IN his body (seriously uncomfortable).

Travel deals: 10 June 2012

Land of the Thunder Dragon, Bhutan


With the AFL season in full swing, Melbourne streets are
a sea of two-tone colour combinations. Wear your heart on your sleeve, or
around your neck and join the throngs at Etihad Stadium. Every room in the nearby
Hilton Melbourne South Wharf has a city view, and the hotel is offering guests
20 percent off when they stay two nights, until December 31. Book seven nights
before you stay, rooms start from
$188 a night, 1300 445 866,
In Tasmania’s highlands, your stomach will find its
heartland at Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge. Block your diary out for an
afternoon of Signature wine & cheese tasting, a three-course dinner in the
Highland restaurant as well as breakfast daily on its two-night Gourmet Escape,
staying in a Pencil Pine cabin. Appease guilt by strolling paths through some
of Australia’s most spectacular wilderness. Book and travel before August 31.
Normally $357, pay $292 a person for two nights, twin share, 1300 987 600,
Cypress Lakes Resort
$$ NSW
If you
dream of golf or wine in your sleep, take it the next step at the Hunter
Valley’s Cypress Lakes Resort, whose 200 villas overlook an 18-hole
championship golf course or vineyards. The villas are self-contained and there
are also three pools, gym, kids’ club and golf and tennis clinics. Stay three
nights, pay for two on midweek stays Monday-Thursday. Accommodation is a
one-bedroom villa and includes buffet breakfast and Peter Morrissey toiletries.
Stay before July 30, costs from $398 a villa, 1800 061 818,
Cosy up at the Gold Coast’s most decorated hotel, the
lush Palazzo Versace, whose Captain’s Lounge, Aqua Marine package includes one
night’s accommodation, breakfast and 2.5 hours whale spotting in the VIP
Captain’s Lounge on the $3.5 million custom-designed whale watching vessel, Spirit of Migloo. Snack as you spot
humpback whales, dolphins, pelicans and hunting birds. Travel until 1 November,
costs $639 for two people, (07) 5509 8000,
Longitude 131, Uluru
$$$$ NT
One of the world’s most iconic views can be found outside
your luxury safari tent at Uluru’s Voyages Longitude 131° wilderness camp. Save
$468 a person when you book by March 31, travel until June 20 and December 1 –
March 31. Package includes all meals, drinks, tours, entrance to Uluru-Kata
Tjuta National park and return Ayres Rock Airport transfers. Costs from $2634 a
person for three nights, twin share, 1800 044 066
Set off the coast of Port Macquarie, Lord Howe Island is
billed as the world’s last paradise, with coral reefs to snorkel, fish to play
with and green sea turtles to admire. Capella Lodge’s Fly Free, Stay 7 Pay 6
rolls two deals into one, with free flights from Sydney and a free night when
you book a week’s stay on the island, saving $2200 a person. Travel between
July 28 – September 30. Costs from $3900 a person, twin share, (02) 9918 4355,
Dresden’s old town is postcard perfect, with an ambience
of culture. Camp at the new Swissôtel
Dresden Am Schloss
and save 20 percent on the best available rate
when you stay two nights or more on stays between June 30 and September 2. Ask
about their double air miles and get a room upgrade and late check-out. Costs
from $112 a night, 1800 12 1043,
Amari Emerald Cove Koh Chang
Set on the Cambodian border, over 70 percent of the Thai
island of Koh Chang is lush rainforest, with rushing waterfalls and idyllic
beaches. And it sounds even better with a bargain: Amari Emerald Cove Koh Chang
is offering six nights for the price of three on stays between June 6-26 and
July 11-October 31. Honeymooners also get 4pm check out, fruit, flowers and
cake. Costs from $717 a person for six nights, twin share, 1300 939 414,
Say hi to the neighbours, also one of the world’s newest
democracies, Timor-Leste. Intrepid’s 15-day tour stays at simple huts on remote
beaches, joins in local eco-tourism projects and spots whales while crossing
the Wetar Strait to Atauro Island and explore in an outrigger. Save $675 when
you book before July 11 for July 15 departures. Costs $2025 a person, land
only, 1300 018 871,  
Timor-Leste woman (Intrepid Travel)
See the best of the African east, covering Kenya, Rwanda,
Tanzania and Uganda by safari truck with up to 23 new mates, ticking the Big
Five off your safari list. Save 30 percent off Gecko’s 22-day Complete East
Africa trip when booked before June 30, for travel by December 31. Prices
include transport crew, all park fees and camping gear.  Was $4448, now $3580 a person, twin share
1300 854 500,
Celebrate Chic Britannia by doing London in serious
style. Your hotel is either the deeply luxurious 45 Park Lane in Mayfair or the
The Hempel near Hyde Park. Add on dinner at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester,
afternoon teas at The Ritz and Brown’s Hotel and passes to the Tate Gallery,
V&A Museum and Buckingham Palace’s ‘Diamonds: A royal Jubilee Celebration”.
Includes return business-class fares with China Southern Save 5 percent on
bookings before June 30 for travel between June 30 – October 7. Costs from
$9585.50 a person, for five days, twin share, (02) 9144 6015,
Inner peace is found in the “land of the thunder dragon”,
the ancient Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan, which hosts the Mindfulness Yoga and
Meditation Retreat in January 2013. This 11-day tour explores the remote
Thimphu and Punakha valleys, with guided walks and visits to temples and
markets around the Paro valley as well as a Lhab Sang Puja, a ritual ceremony
and blessing by Buddhist monks. The journey includes six nights at the
luxurious Zhiwa Ling Resort where Mindfulness Yoga instructor Sally Flynn will
lead the group through meditation and yoga suitable for all comers, from
beginners to devotees. The tour departs on January 9, 2013. Costs from $4323 a
person twin share (excludes airfares), 1300 367 875,

Source: Sun Herald

TRAVEL DEALS 3 June 2012

Tee off on the championship 18-hole golf course, then
dine on local crayfish: that’s sooo Victor Harbour. Top it off with a stay at
the McCracken Country Club for just $99 a couple for one night to complete a
great break. Stay two nights and get a bottle of wine and free dinner, stay
three nights and get your green fees thrown in as well. Book until June 24,
stay until August 31, (08) 8551
Winter’s coming so it’s time to rug up and break out the
fortified wines. Go back to the heartland, Rutherglen, where it all began in
Australia, which holds its annual Winery Walkabout next weekend. All winter, Tuileries
Rutherglen is offering a two-night midweek package that includes cooked
breakfast, cocktails and a three-course dinner for two. Save $160 until August
31, costs $415 a couple, two nights, (02) 6032

Sea World

Check out -TRex and mates at Sea World’s new Dinosaur
Island, on the glittering Gold Coast. Linked by monorail to the fun park, the
4.5-star Sea World Resort & Water has a day spa and two lagoon pools. Stay
until June 29 and save up to 65 percent, with unlimited entry to Warner Bros
Movie World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild Water World.  Stay two nights and get free tickets to Sea
World’s dolphin show. Costs $139 for two adults, $10 for each kid, 1800 074
It may be a small island, but seven days in Tassie and
you’ll be on your feet to see the island’s icons, including serene Lake St
Clair, a cruise on the Gordon River, cheese tasting and Launceston’s fabulous
Cataract Gorge. Book the Western Icons Best Buys Guided Tour six months in
advance and save $170 per couple. Tours run from September 18 to August 31
2013. Costs from $1615 a person, twin share (land only), 1300 228 546,
The larder’s full of the best of the Hunter: Peterson
Champagne House Sparkling Cuvee, the Smelly Cheese Shop’s cheese platter,
Margan wine and sweets from the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company. Save $110 on a
three-night midweek getaway at the adults-only retreat, Somewhere Unique, set
amongst the bushland in Wollombi. Also
included is a brekky hamper and bikes to work it all off, until August 31.
Costs $798 a couple, three nights, (02) 4998 3257, quote “Midweek Winter
Go for Gold! We don’t mean become an Olympian, we mean
travel Gold Service on the Indian-Pacific, and save $525 on the iconic
trans-Australian crossing from Perth to Sydney. Gold class gets you a cosy
sleeper with ensuite, a steward to fluff pillows and bring you a morning cuppa,
journey commentary, all meals, tea and coffee.  Book before June 30, travel until August 31. Costs
$1653 one-way, 132 147.
The Sarojin, Thailand


Wine lovers in Asia are on first-name basis with The
Sarojin’s sommelier, Dawid Koegelenberg, four-time winner of the Wine
Spectator’s award of excellence and darling of the London A-list for serious
wine dinners. Get one night free for every night you stay at the hotel, an hour
north of Phuket, until October 31 – which means stay three nights, get three
nights free, with free breakfast and sparkling wine. Costs from $412 a night, a
room, 02 9211 6590,

There are parts of the world that tell you just to stop,
smell the roses, the jasmine, the sandalwood and the champagne; to wit Vietnam’s
Nam Hai hotel. Set on Hoi An beach, your bed for the night is a pool villa,
with never-ending champagne on the breakfast buffet,  butler service, a spa treatment, lunch,
afternoon tea, snacks in the villa and mini-bar a-go. Book two nights before 30
June for travel before March 31, get another night free, from $1803 a person
for three nights, 1300 320 795,

Pines Lodge, Beaver Creek

Rated North America’s top ski resort, Colorado’s Beaver
Creek has its fair share of celebrity fans (think Tom Hanks, Tiger Woods), yet
you can still find a bargain in town: save 35 percent, that’s $247, at the
ski-in Pines Lodge. Stay seven nights, get a six-day lift pass valid at Beaver
Creek, Vaile, Breckenridge and Keystone resorts. Book before October 1, travel
November 21 – December 14. Costs $829 a person, twin share, 1800 335 724,

You know you deserve a personal assistant, and COMO
Shambhala’s people excel at the job: let them lead you to a yoga class, to your wellness
consultation, to your massage…  Book a
fully inclusive seven-night wellness programme at the breathtaking Ubud retreat
which includes full board and they’ll add three massages, transfers, all meals
and activities, until March 31st 2013. Costs $5,180 for two people, +61 361 978

Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer


Be nurtured by nature as you roll through the Canadian
Rocky Mountains, spotting bears, eagles and majestic deer while nursing a drink.
This eight-day tour includes two nights on the Rocky Mountaineer in
RedLeaf  class, seven night’s
accommodation, tours of Vancouver, Jasper and Banff, a helicopter tour and a
bonus $550 credit to spend on meals, hotel or cabin upgrades. Costs from $2899
a person, twin share, 1800 044 066,

See and capture the beauty of Turkey through the eyes of
Lonely Planet photographer Richard I’Anson, author of a swathe of take-me-there
coffee table travel photography and guidebooks. And what’s more, he’ll help you
snap the shutter on your own amazing photographs of one of the world’s most
fascinating countries. Split between East and West, Turkey straddles two
continents and the stops on this tour, which include Antalya, Cappadocia,
Istanbul and Fethiye, give plenty of unique subject matter, from cave towns to whirling
dervishes, ancient markets and classic Mediterranean seaside beauty. The tour
includes boutique four-star accommodation, transport and entrance fees. Departs
August 19, costs $3999 a person, land only, 1300 720 000,