Drink in the coffee, Rhone varietals or a Himalayan vista: travel deals 26 May 2013

Drink coffee in Brisbane, Rhone varietals in Rutherglen, or just drink in the view in the Indian Himalayas.

Discover the rich reds, Rhone
varietals and sweet muscats of Rutherglen at the Rutherglen Winery
Walkabout, Australia’s longest-running wine festival, on the weekend of
June 8-9 (winemakers.com.au). Stay at Tuileries and save 20 per cent on
Sunday to Friday nights until September 30. They’ll include a country
breakfast and three-course dinner for two at Tuileries Restaurant
including its unlimited wine buffet, which showcases the region’s top
drops. Usually $346 a night, now $276. (02) 6032 9033, tuileriesrutherglen.com.au.

New South Wales
or board Perisher and Thredbo from the central
location of the Snowy Mountains’ Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa,
which is 15 minutes from either ski resort. Normally studio apartments
cost from $250 a night but the resort has two-night stays with a hot
breakfast, $100 to spend in the spa or restaurant, discounts on ski
hire, day spas, and free shuttles to the Skitube to Perisher. Available
from June 7 until October 6. Costs from $593 for two nights in a studio
apartment (sleeps two), or from $1034 for two nights in a two-bedroom
apartment (sleeps four). 1800 020 524, lakecrackenback.com.au.

in to Brisbane’s new Traders Hotel and they’ll give you a coffee
machine. Yes, really. Book a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night stay and
get a Nespresso U machine, worth $299, along with early check-in and
late checkout and a $50 voucher. There’s free wi-fi, too. The hotel is
opposite the Brisbane Transit Centre on Roma Street and within walking
distance of the spectacular Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern
Art. Book by June 30 for stays until December 29. Costs from $298 a
night. (07) 3238 2222, www.tradershotels.com/brisbane.

new 277-room Pullman Phuket Arcadia is on Naithon Beach, 15 minutes
from the airport. It has sunken lounges with wine libraries as well as a
kids’ lunchtime restaurant by the pool, and spa aficionados will
appreciate the French Payot range. The hotel’s soft-opening special
means you can pay as little as $105 a night, saving 30 per cent off the
best rate on stays of three days or more, with breakfast and wi-fi
included. Valid until October 31. Costs from $315 for three nights. pullmanphuketarcadia.com.

coastline of Nha Trang boasts much natural beauty, and then there are
the hotels. The lush Evason Ana Mandara, main picture, sits on its own
stretch of sea, which obligingly issues lobsters for the table. Stay
seven nights and pay for five, with a villa upgrade, breakfast, airport
transfers and an hour-long massage for two in its spa. Includes return
international flights with Vietnam Airlines. Costs from $2032 a person,
twin share. Book by June 15 for stays until December 19. 1300 138 755, travelindochina.com.au.

exploring the Indian Himalayas in winter does it for you, this new
22-day Zanskar Ice Trek fits the bill. World Expeditions freely admits
this is one of its most adventurous treks, with minus-30-degree nights,
frozen river trekking and remote high passes. The tour departs from Leh
and includes all meals, internal flights, bilingual guides, sleeping bag
and jacket. Save 15 per cent off the second traveller when two people
book together; singles save 7½ per cent. Book by June 21 to depart on
February 2. Costs from $3900 a person, twin share. 1300 720 000, worldexpeditions.com.


First bloom for bonny baby beauties: saying cheese in Victoria’s high country

It’s been a week since these baby camemberts were born, at the Milawa Cheese Factory in the Victorian high country, and their downy fuzz is just starting to grow.

At Anna-Kate Pizzini’s cheesemaking classes, we learned to make camembert from whole milk, then ricotta from the whey separated from the milk.

The ricotta found its way into a spinach and ricotta gnocchi, thanks to a pasta-making class by Anna-Kate’s mother-in-law, Katrina.

And the camemberts are curled up in a container in my esky in the garage, biding their time till they’re ready to eat, in about six weeks.

The classes run the first Saturday of the month and include lots of fabulous cheese tasting, $160 per class or $450 for three classes, which covers making camembert & ricotta, blue cheese & chevre and hard cheese & paneer: www.milawacheese.com.au 

Deep fabulousness in Vietnam, heli-ski New Zealand or frock up in Melbourne: travel deals May 19, 2013

InterContinental Danang Sun peninsula Resort, Vietnam

Is this the most gorgeous photo ever? It was a toss-up between this fabulous shot of the restaurant at the InterCon Danang, designed by Bill Bensley, or the awesome NZ heli-skiing shot below. Reader: I chewed my nails for you. Enjoy this week’s best international and Australian travel deals.

Avoid the queues
and head to the Gold Coast’s Sea World, main picture, out of the school
holidays and save up to 80 per cent on stays at the 4.5-star Broadbeach
resort, which includes unlimited entry to Warner Bros Movie World, Sea
World and Wet’n’Wild Water World. Stay two nights and get a free Dolphin
Discovery presentation at Sea World. You’ll get 25 per cent off food
and drinks, the kids’ club and free wi-fi. Valid until July 14. Costs
from $79.90 a person, twin share, $20 a child. 133 386, seaworldresort.com.au.

Airport just grew up, with its first airport hotel in the international
terminal – Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel opened on May 7. The hotel is
celebrating with an opening special, free wi-fi and $35 to spend in its
Blackwattle Grill and sports bar. The 318-room hotel is one minute’s
walk from the international terminal and includes 24-hour room service.
Costs from $205 a night. (02) 9313 2500, rydges.com/sydneyairport.

a rugged beauty to the Henry Jones Art Hotel, pictured above left,
which has had everyone from whalers to jam-makers on its stone floors on
Hobart’s waterfront. Book a night in a deluxe spa room and get
breakfast for two, free wi-fi and $50 towards dinner in Henry’s
Restaurant, saving a cool $178. Stay before September 30 and quote
PT014. Costs from $355. 1800 420 155, puretasmania.com.au.


Hawke Dreaming camp

The wet season is
over, the roads are dry and the wilderness camps of the Top End are open
for business, including the Hawke Dreaming luxury tented lodge. Located
near Ubirr in a restricted section of Kakadu National Park, the lodge
has just 12 tents, with en suites and decks. Book by June 30 and save 15
per cent off the regular rate. Normally $265 a night, pay $225.
Self-drive travellers can save 10 per cent when they stay five nights at
any of APT’s exclusive luxury network of lodges across the Northern
Territory and Western Australia, including the Bungle Bungles and
Mitchell Falls. Includes dinner, bed and breakfast. 1800 240 504,

a Hollywood moment in Melbourne, at the Hollywood Costume exhibition at
the Australian Centre for the Moving Image as part of the Melbourne
Winter Masterpieces program. The Sofitel Melbourne normally costs about
$450 a night, but the Hollywood Costume package includes one night’s
stay, breakfast and two tickets to the exhibition, which has the
costumes of Scarlett O’Hara, Holly Golightly and Jack Sparrow. The
hotel’s Atrium Bar is shaking up Hollywood-inspired cocktails during the
exhibition, until August 18. Costs from $360. (03) 9653 0000,

at the start (or the end) of the Great Ocean Road, Mount Gambier is a
great base for wine tourism up into Coonawarra, for exploring the wild
and empty beaches along the Great Australian Bight or just taking in the
classic genteel sight of the town’s astonishing Blue Lake. Save up to
20 per cent on two-night stays in a self-contained apartment in the
4.5-star Precinct on Jardine. Valid on stays until August 5. Costs from
$800 for two nights in a three-bedroom apartment (sleeps six).

One of the
world’s best new hotels, according to Conde Nast Traveler, is the
InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, pictured, on the Son Tra
Peninsula, halfway between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. To celebrate the
opening of the new Harnn Heritage Spa, packages include a three-night
stay, breakfast and yoga and 25 per cent off spa treatments, and a
one-hour massage. From $930 a night. 13 83 88,

can be so cliched, and don’t we love it? Trafalgar’s new eight-day
Swiss Delight takes it a step further with a cable car ride to Mount
Pilatus, chocolate making and folklore tales at a traditional “stubete”.
Book by July 10 to save 7.5 per cent. Costs from $1688 a person, twin
share. Book a Singapore Airlines flight to Europe from $1999 with a
Trafalgar guided tour, and your friend flies from $899. Book flights
before July 31. 1300 663 043, trafalgar.com.

four free nights in Phuket when you book eight nights at the five-star,
award-winning Merlin Beach Resort, close to Patong Beach. Facilities at
the resort include a kids’ club and pool, day spas and a range of bars
and restaurants. The deal includes breakfast, airport transfers,
restaurant discounts and a two-hour massage or half-day Phuket tour.
From $466 a person, twin share. Valid until October 31. 1300 883 887,


The lobby of the new Mandarin Oriental Pudong, Shanghai

a few years ago, the glitzy Shanghai district of Pudong was mere rice
paddies: now it’s home to the newest Mandarin Oriental hotel, which
features more than 4000 original artworks. Opening packages include stay
two nights and pay just one with free wi-fi, or the Discover Shanghai
package, which includes one night’s accommodation, free wi-fi and up to
$300 in spa or restaurant use. Valid until September 30. From $661. 1800
123 693, mandarinoriental.com.

American adventurer Explora has been combining eco-adventure and luxury
for 20 years and celebrates its birthday with a free night on
four-night stays in remote lodges in the Chilean Patagonia, Easter
Island and the Atacama Desert until October 14. Stay four nights at
Atacama, which includes airport transfers, meals and open bar, and daily
explorations via horses, vehicles, boats and foot. From $2720 a person,
twin share. +56 2 2395 2800, explora.com.

So you can’t sing, but you can still ski like a rock star
amidst the snowy peaks of New Zealand’s South Island. Southern Lakes Heli Ski’s new all-inclusive,
one-week heli-skiing package gives you unlimited heli-ski runs. “As long as
your legs can keep going, then so do you,” they promise. And if the weather
gods get moody, there are golf pros, bungy jumping and Central Otago wines to
drink. Join a group with an Unlimited Package, which guarantees first and last
tracks each day, or the Private Package for groups of four or more gets your
own chopper and 8,500 square kilometers of heli-ski exclusive terrain to
explore. Includes five-star accommodation, meals and guides. From June 30 –
September 30. Costs from $7500 (Unlimited) or from $13,499 (Private) per
person. +64 3 442 6222, southernlakesheliski.co.nz.    

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

Make like Ellen on Hayman, jet across Australia, hike to Everest’s back door: travel deals May 12

Ubirr, Northern Territory

Make like Ellen on Hayman Island, air-cruise the continent on a private jet or hike to Everest’s back door in this week’s best domestic and international deals.


There’s more to Launceston than the beautiful Cataract
Gorge. Dear old Lonnie (as the locals call it) also has a sparkle in its step,
thanks to all the delicious sparkling wines sold at the cellar doors on the
nearby Tamar trail. Stay three nights in a deluxe room in the Hotel Grand
Chancellor Launceston and pay for just two, on stays until September 30. Costs
from $165 a person, twin share, three nights. 132 757, harveyworld.com.au.


Get the
best seat in the house for Sydney’s Vivid Festival, from May 24 – June 10, and save
20 percent at the five-star Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour. The hotel’s
guestrooms have some of the best views of the Harbour Bridge, which will be
splashed in light during the festival. Stay in a one-bedroom harbor view suite,
which includes its own balcony, and get a three-course dinner for two delivered
to your door and a bottle of Taittinger Champagne. The Vivid
Stay & Play package costs from $569 a night. (02) 9256 4000, pullmanhotels.com


Birks Harbour Boatshed, Goolwa, SA..

It’s about time the eastern states (as we’re known in
SA), turned our attention to the unsung Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s an hour south
of Adelaide, but budget a full afternoon if you travel via McLaren Vale’s
insanely good cellar doors (mclarenvale.info). Take a bottle back to your
boathouse accommodation on the water’s edge at the port town of Goolwa, a
serene retreat on the Murray River. Each of the three retreats sleeps two
people, and includes a gourmet brekky basket and a bottle of local wine. Stay
three nights, pay for two from June 1 – August 31. Costs from $590, three
nights. (08) 8555 0338, birksharbour.com.au.

Experience living like an international talk-show host
and do Hayman Island the Ellen DeGeneres way. The ellenTV Excape package
includes four nights’ accommodation for the price of three, an upgrade to a
deluxe room, beachside breakfasts and transfers from the airport on the
island’s glam white launch. There’s also a seaplane tour of the Whitsundays and
all the windsurfing, catamarans, golfing and island exploratory walks a celebrity
could wish for. Valid for stays until December 20, quote code ‘Ellen’. Costs
from $1705 a person, twin share. 1800 075 175, hayman.com.au.
All aboard the Great Australian Aircruise, a 12-day
journey by private plane from Sydney to Longreach into Kakadu and up to the
Kimberley, returning via Uluru, stopping at Australia’s most iconic country
towns, from Broome to Birdsville. Save $750 and they’ll also include
accommodation the night before at the Sir Stamford, airport transfers and breakfast,
a saving of up to $2000 per couple. The tour departs June 18, book and pay by
May 31. Costs from $11,595 a person, twin share. 1800 252 053,
Christchurch’s hotel scene is getting back on its feet,
with the re-opening of the Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch on May 1. Get 10
percent off the best available rate, with free internet and free local calls
until June 1. Or stay two nights and get 20 per cent off, otherwise stay three
nights and get 25 per cent off. Costs from $204.30 a night. 1800 088 888, rendezvoushotels.com/christchurch.
Malaysia has to be the ultimate shop-and-flop
destination: shop up the bargain-tastic malls of Kuala Lumpur then recuperate
on the beaches of Tioman Island at the Berjaya Tioman Resort, where the
bargains continue. The resort is offering six nights for the price of five,
with daily breakfast and flights from Kuala Lumpur. Book by May 31 for stays
till June 30, and from September 1 – October 31. Costs from $609 a person, twin
share. 1300 9393 414, flightcentre.com.au
See two faces of enigmatic Russia
when you absorb the hard-cash capitalism of racy Moscow with the genteel art
scene of its northern cousin, St Petersburg. Save five percent on the six-day
Russia Two Cities when booked by 31 May. Includes accommodation, breakfast and
rail transport between the two cities. The tour costs from $1214 a person, twin
share. 1800 221 712, bentours.com.au.

Help celebrate the 60th anniversary of Sir
Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Mount Everest with a 15-day trek in his footsteps to
Everest Base Camp. The trek reaches 5000 meters in the Himalayan foothills,
starting from the airstrip at Lukla. The price includes 12 nights’
accommodation in local tea houses, return local flights from Kathmandu to
Lukla, sherpas and an English-speaking guide. Book by June 15 for departures
until December 31, and save 10 percent. Costs from $1395 a person, twin share. 1300
021 123, myadventurestore.com.
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Slip Bing on the record
player and book your eight-day Bavaria & the Romantic Road tour, which runs
from December 2013 to March 2014 through the Rhine valley. Visit snowy
Neuschwanstein castle, medieval towns and see the Passion Play Oberammergau,
travelling quiet roads in mini-van comfort with a maximum of 15 guests. Save 10
per cent when booked by May 31. Costs from $2560 a person, twin share, excludes
international airfares. 1300 100 410, backroadstouring.com.au.
From the Silk Road markets of Kashgar to the Taklimakan
Desert, across the Aksai Chin plateau to Mt Everest’s North Base Camp in Tibet
(did you know there are two base camps?), this 28-day tour takes you far off
the beaten track into the wilds of western China and Tibet. The ‘Epic Dreams’
tour kicks off in Urumqi, in Xinjiang , and travels the highest road in the
world, the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway. Visit the ancient ruins of past kingdoms,
revered temples, see K2 as it hulks on the horizon and spy yak hurders’ camps
in the distance. The last stop is Chengdu’s panda reserve. The tour departs
August 20 and includes return international airfares with China Southern,
tipping and visas. Costs from $7634 a person, twin share. Wendy Wu Tours 1300
727 998, wendywutours.com.au.

Brick? Brack! It’s all Irish to me: recipe for Irish Bambrick

I was about to post this recipe, then I thought, that’s not very travel-oriented. But wait! It’s a recipe for Irish Bambrick!

So it’s time to break out the Bewley’s tea (Van Morrison’s fave), whack on the Claddagh CD (or Cranberries, Corrs, Boyzone – oh, Rohan – whatever takes your fancy) and carve up a slice of this solid, wholesome tea-time treat.

Irish Bambrick
1½ cups cold black tea
¼ cups sultanas
1 cup currants
¾ cup mixed peel, finely chopped (I think mixed peel is sooo ’50s, I used apricots)
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups self-raising flour (I used 1 cup wholemeal – I AM my mother!)
½ cup walnuts (almonds or brazil nuts)

The recipe doesn’t call for it, but I added a little nutmeg and some cinnamon. In hindsight, I’d drop the cinnamon.

Combine tea, sultanas, currants, mixed peel (apricots) and sugar in a bowl. Cover. Stand the mixture overnight. Stir in egg. Mix in flour and nuts. Spoon into a greased and lined 13x21cm loaf pan. Bake at 160 degrees for 1 – 1 1/4 hours or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Stand for 5 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool. This cake can be frozen for up to three months (though why you wouldn’t want to eat it hot from the oven is beyond me).

A note of warning: the uncooked mixture is seriously sticky. I added an extra splash of tea and it didn’t hurt. And it really needs the full hour or more in the oven, otherwise you’ll end up with a sticky heart.

PS: This recipe was clipped from an Australian nursing newsletter. The spelling of bambrick is weird: I have found reference to ‘barmbrack’, but just I’d call this a brack – take it from one who has consumed many bracks in her time living in Dublin.

Bali: savouring Seminyak

Fois gras trilogy, Metis

Beyond the rice paddies and the beaches, Seminyak is the heart of Bali’s dining scene – and whether it’s organic, local or international, you’ll find fine cuisine for all tastes. 

Seminyak’s streets are pumping with a cosmopolitan array of chefs and restaurateurs, dishing up everything from Aussie steaks to Balinese crispy duck and Jimbaran Bay seafood, and offering up a potpourri of produce that’s never languished on a supermarket shelf.

If you can’t say Petitenget before you hit town, you’ll learn quickly enough. Jalan is the Indonesian word for “street”, and Jalan Petitenget is home to some of the island’s top tables.

Coconut rhumballa, Chandi

It’s also the name of a newcomer to the restaurant scene. When we meet, Petitenget‘s executive chef Simon Blaby is eating slow-braised pork belly with confit green-apple puree, shredded cabbage salad and sweet potato puree. “It’s a true homage to great local produce. Balinese pork is second to none,” says Simon, who hails from Queensland’s much-loved Spirit House.

If you’re out to impress, earmark a date at Metis, which opened in 2009 amid the rice paddies and lily-filled water gardens. French chef Nicolas Tourneville serves French Mediterranean cuisine, including a dedicated foie gras menu.

Looking for a Zen-like, Ubud vibe? Neighbouring Sardine has also tapped in to the rice-paddy gastronomical scene. If you’re obsessed with sustainable seafood, hand-plucked herbs and knowing where your onions came from (the mountain village of Bedugul), book a table for what fourth-generation Burgundy chef-restaurateur Pascal Chevillot describes as cuisine du solei1 (“food of the sun”) and sample the gourmet fare from the kitchen, run by Californian Michael Shaheen.

Funky MamaSan

If sand isn’t your thing, slip on some stilettos and trip upstairs to the rootop of Anantara Hotel to find SOS Supper Club, which mixes fine dining, lounging and clubbing.

Local seafoodies gravitate towards the Sunday brunches at W Hotel’s Starfish Bloo by Mauritian-born, Australian-bred chef Kevin Chung, and gleefully feast on the snapper dumplings of MamaSan, helmed by chef Will Meyrick of Sydney’s Longrain fame.

Head to Chandi for its New York take on local cuisine. With lounges facing the crushingly busy Jalan Laksmana it’s also an unsurpassed people-watching locale. “The clientele in Seminyak is a great mix of glamour meets health nut,” says chef-owner Agung Nugroho.

“The clientele in Seminyak is a great mix of glamour meets health nut.”

The glitzy alternative for local cuisine is Jakartan newbie Potato Head Beach Club, which is givinglong-timer Ku De Ta a run for its money with a kids’ pool and the sexiness of a swim-up bar balanced by its fine-dining restaurant, Tapping Shoes.

Overlooking the rice paddies at Metis

Its less formal pan-Asian tapas bar, Lilin, has communal tables overlooking the Indian Ocean, but chances are you’ll have eyes only for the catfish with red chilli sambal or the locally beloved buntut samba1bajak (braised oxtail with traditional chilli sambal).

“Bali is attracting great international chefs who still wish to dream and bend the rules more than you could in a Western kitchen,” says Petitenget’s Blaby, of Seminyak’s embarrassment of dining riches. “It’s magical, not logical.”

PETITENGET Jln Petitenget 40, tel, .+62 3614733054, petitenget.net
POTATO HEAD BEACH CLUB Jln Petitenget, tel: 62361 473 7979, ptthead.com
SARDINE Jln Petitenget 21, tel: +62 361 843 6111, sardinebali.com
ANANTARA SOS SUPPER CLUB Jln Dhyana Pura,tel, 62361 737773, sosasupperclub.com
W HOTEL Jln Petitenget, tel:.+62 361 473 8106, starwoodhotels.com
BIKU Jln Raya Petitenget 888, tel, +62 361 857 0888, bikubali.com
CHANDI Jln Laksmana 72, tel: +62 361 731 060, chandibali.com
LA LUCCIOLA Jln Petitenget, tel:.+62 361 730 838
MAMASAN Jln Raya Kerobokan 135, tel, +62 361 730436, mamasanbali.com
METIS Jln Petitenget 6, tel: +62 3614737888, metisbali.com

To view as a pdf, click here

Source: Belinda Jackson, Jetstar magazine

Find beauty in Sri Lanka, Tasmania or Madagascar: island & beaches’ travel deals May 5, 2013

Colours of Tasmania’s Bay of Fires.

Find beauty in a Sri Lankan boutique hotel, in Tasmania’s Bay of Fires or in the bright eyes of a Madagascan lemur.

Save up
to $450 on a three-night stay on the Gold Coast’s beautiful beaches in the
happening QT hotel. The Family Fun package gets you two interconnecting rooms
(hey, no kids sharing your bedroom!), breakfast for two adults and two children
under 12 and a family pass to Dreamworld, worth $230. Psst: starve yourself in
advance for the hotel’s fabulous buffet restaurant, Bazaar. Costs from
$360 a night, minimum three night stay. Available until December 24. (07) 5584
1200, qtgoldcoast.com.au.
With Tiger now joining Virgin and Qantas
flying up to Coffs Harbour, the NSW north coast just got a whole lot closer to Sydney. The strip, from
Coffs to Nambucca Heads, is a market lover’s paradise, with growers’ markets,
beach markets and even Bollywood markets on the beach at Woolgoolga (coffscoast.com.au).
Book five nights in a beachfront apartment at Smugglers on the
Beach and get a bottle of wine and save $125. For stays until August 31. Costs
from $625, five nights. (02) 6653 6166, smugglers.com.au.
Cycle the iconic Great Ocean Road, from Mt Gambier’s Blue
Lake, just across the SA border, to Geelong, covering 610km. This is the 30th
year for the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride and up to 6000 cyclists are
expected to take part in the ride, from November 23 – December 1. You can do a
nine-day, fully catered camping holiday, with medical and bike repairs support,
opt for the three-day leg from Gellibrand to Geelong, or the last day’s day ride
from Torquay to Geelong. Registrations open for the general public on May 20. Book
by July 29 and save $100. Costs from $895 adults, nine days, $460 adults, three
days, or $70, one day. 1800 639 634, greatvic.com.au.

Keen walkers know that Tassie’s east coast is the home of
the happy hiker. Get your boots on for three days walking the white beaches of
Wineglass Bay, the fossil cliffs and peaks of Maria Island or the glorious Bay
of Fires. Complete the immersion in all things Tasmanian with starlit dinners
with Ninth Island wines and local cheeses. Get in early for next season and
save up to $150. Book by June 30 for travel from September 2013 to March 2014. Costs
from $849 a person for the three-day Bay of Fires walk. (02) 9913 8939, lifesanadventure.com.au.
The epitome of Australian luxury, and constantly voted
one of Australia’s top stays, the Southern Ocean Lodge is on sale. Pay half
price – saving more than  $3600 – when
you stay three nights at the 21-suite Kangaroo Island retreat. The
all-inclusive rate covers all gourmet fare and naturalist experiences to show
you the best of KI. Book by May 31 for stays until August 23. Costs from $3600
a couple, Ocean Retreat, three nights. 1300 851 800,
At Kahanda Kanda, the order is to drink tea and watch the
peacocks and monkeys at play.
One of the country’s top boutique hotels, the eight-suite
villa Kahanda Kanda is on a working tea estate by the serene Koggala Lake and
its stilt fishermen. Stay three nights, pay for two or stay seven nights and
pay for just five, with a free upgrade and spa treatments included. The villa
does not take children under 12. For stays from June 1 – July 31. Costs from
$548, three nights. +94 (0) 91 494 3700, kahandakanda.com.


Tagged as the Chinese Riviera, Hainan Island is
officially going off, as Julia Gillard would have noted when she visited
recently. The newest addition is the Raffles Hainan, in Clearwater Bay.  There are 299 rooms and 32 villas in the
resort, beside two championship golf courses and a 200-berth marina. Stay three
nights, pay for two from September 1 – December 31. Includes an upgrade to a
Grand Ocean view room, airport transfers, breakfast and checkout at 6pm. Yes,
6pm. Costs from $297 plus taxes. 0011
800 1723 3537, raffles.com.

Madagascar’s nature – including lemurs, chameleons and humpback
whales – makes it a haven for adventurers. Save up to $1440 a couple on Bentours’
eight-day Barefoot Luxury South Explorer journey through rainforests, islands
and bays. Includes stays at Mandrare River Camp, two regional flights, all
transport, park fees, guides and excursions. Book by July 1 for travel June 25
– July 31. Costs from $3490 a person, twin share. 1300 799 783, escapetravel.com.au.

For the quintessential overwater bungalow experience, go
back to where it all began. Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora’s Surf & Turf
packages is no steak-and-prawns affair, it combines three nights in an
overwater bungalow (surf) and another three in two-bedroom beachfront villa
(turf). Included is daily buffet breakfast, a two-hour walk and snorkel with
their resident marine biologist and a reef walk, saving up to $1168. Costs from
$9241, six nights. +(689) 603 130, fourseasons.com/borabora.  
Spend 15 days exploring the
waterways and architecture of the Mekong River, Ha Long Bay and Angkor Wat
temples, and get free flights to Asia and two free hotel nights pre-or
post-tour. The tour includes seven nights on the RV La Marguerite on the
Mekong. Book by May 15 for travel between July and September. Prices include
all touring, meals, drinks and guided excursions. Costs from $4,395 a person,
twin share. 1300 300 036, travelmarvel.com.au.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without Helen Reddy, but be
prepared to turn the season on its head when the singer leads Christmas in July
on Norfolk Island. Reddy, who has a home on the island, returns regularly to
unwind amidst the island’s serenity. She is opening her house to guests for one
night during the eight-day tour, which covers all the island’s World Heritage
sites. Reddy will spend two nights with the group, including a progressive
Christmas dinner and will perform two concerts and lead the carols singalong,
of course. The package includes return airfares with Air New Zealand and seven
nights’ accommodation.  Departs July 8.
Costs from $2055 a person. 1800 645 103, www.norfolkisland.com.au.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

My fantasy island: Rangali Island, the Maldives

Conrad Maldives Rangli Island’s twin bed overwater villa,
plunge pool, deck & glass floor,

the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, there’s no floor in
the lobby: it’s a desk on white sand. The sand continues through the
restaurant, and all the way down to the water’s edge.

 There, a little
12-seater Japanese grill restaurant dug into the beach, beneath the

The first night, I watched as men arrived for dinner dressed in
white linen and leather slides while the ladies were bedecked in
glittering jewels and gowns that swished over the sand, revealing a
flicker of perfectly manicured toes, not a shoe in sight.

I also forgot
about shoes for four days, reminded only as I hot-footed it along the
jetty to the spa dangling over the Laccadive Sea. The fish were there
again down in Ithaa, the resort’s underwater restaurant. Set 4.9 metres
below sea level, a glass semi-sphere holds the oceans back. Fish is on
the menu and also on the other side of the glass.

Getting there: Singapore
Airlines and Malaysian Airlines fly to the capital of the Maldives,
Male. The resort is reached by a 30-minute seaplane journey.

Staying there: The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island comprises two islands (one is adults-only). 1800 446 667, tinyurl.com/835b2s3.

Source: Sun Herald 

Shop LA, shake what your mama gave you in Cuba, luxe up on Orpheus: travel deals April 28, 2013

Orpheus Island,Queensland

Shop it up in LA, hit Splendour in the Grass, shake what your mama gave you in Cuba… or just lie down, in style, on Queensland’s luxe Orpheus Island. 

It’s baby love all round at the Halls Gap Zoo, with the
arrival of Samari the giraffe. Get in on the ogling action, staying three
nights in a two-bedroom cottage at the BIG4 Grampians Parkgate resort and
they’ll include a family pass to the zoo. Resort facilities include playgrounds
with jumping pillows for the kids, tennis courts, beach volleyball and a heated
outdoor pool. Stay midweek and they’ll slice $175 off the normal price. Costs
from $400, three nights. 1800 810 781, parkgateresort.com.au.  
Immerse yourself in bubbles in Perth: soak in them, and
drink them with the ‘Double Bubble’ package at Somerset St Georges Terrace
Perth, in the centre of the city. Stay one night in a premier spa studio
residence and they’ll include a spa pack, bottle of sparkling, breakfast and
1pm check-out, worth around $200. Available until December 31. Costs from $305
a couple. 1800 766 377, www.somerset.com.au.
If festival camping makes your skin crawl, book a
campervan for this year’s Splendour in the Grass (July 26-28,
splendourinthegrass.com) Save up to $180 as Britz is waiving its one-way fees
when you pick up your van at Ballina or Brisbane then drop off at any other
Australian location. The deal also includes a Britz bonus pack with insurance
and outdoor furniture for picnics on the road trip home. Valid for travel
between July 24-29, book by July 24 and quote ‘splendrinc’. Costs from $764,
four-days in a HiTop, sleeps 3. 1800 331 454, britz.com.au
Tanonga Luxury eco lodge, South Australia
aficionados know and love the Eyre Peninsula, with its Coffin Bay oysters,
pristine waters and miles of untouched nature. Keep it all beautiful by staying
at the chic, self-contained Tanonga Luxury eco lodges, 20 minutes from Port
Lincoln, which sleep four and include a Japanese-style bath, entertainment
system and log fires. The kitchen is stocked with breakfast essentials and
local olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and meals can be delivered to your door
by a local chef. Save 20 percent on stays
until October 10, minimum two-night stay. Costs from $500, two nights.
yourself away to the beautiful solitude of Orpheus Island, off the coast of
Townsville. There’s no privation on this tiny island: the rate includes all
gourmet meals by talented chef Arie Prabowo, regional wines and beers,
snorkeling, fishing and cruises and one signature Dining with the Tides experience.
Stay four nights, pay for just three, saving up to $2800 when staying in a
beachfront villa until July 31, and quote ‘paystay’. The island can now be
reached by helicopter from Cairns as well as Townsville (additional charge). Costs
from $4200, four nights in a beachfront room. (07)
4777 7377, orpheus.com.au.
There’s a lot of luxe on Koh Samui, and hovering at the
top is Baan Ling Noi villa, on the millionaire’s row at Bophut Hills, 15
minutes from the island’s airport. The villa sleeps eight in four double
bedrooms, and includes an infinity pool, tropical landscaping, rainforest
showers and life-in staff. Normally $385 a night, enjoy a low-season rate until
June 30 that works out about $33 a night, a person. Costs from $327 a night. baan-ling-noi.com.
The fabulousness of Monaco
Yachts, casinos, high flying and fabulous architecture:
join the international jet set of the French Riviera, but without the big bucks
required. The ‘Passport to Monte-Carlo’ gets you three nights at the three-star
Columbus Monte-Carlo, a city tour, tickets to Monaco’s major museums and
attractions and a free helicopter transfer between Monaco and Nice (subject to
dates). Costs from $549 a person, three nights, twin share. French Travel
Connection 1300 858 304, frenchtravel.com.au.
Shake what your mama gave you on a new eight-day tour through Cuba. Eat in Cuba’s
top restaurant and on a farmer’s plantation, boat through mangroves to visit a
stilted Taino Indian village and learn to drink rum and sugar cane juice
cocktails in UNESCO-listed Trinidad. Normally $2200, save $285 on the new Pearl
of the Caribbean tour, which departures every Thursday from May to October.
Book 30 days in advance until September 30. Costs from $1915 a person, twin
share. 1300 763 338, bfirsttravel.com.

Hyatt Regency Maui, Hawai’i
Get exploring on the Hawaiian Islands. Hit the designer
boutiques and beach restaurants of Waikiki while staying three nights at the
Hyatt Regency Waikiki and then flip onto oasis time on the golf course and
underwater during your five-night stay at the Hyatt Regency Maui. Includes
$1500 of bonuses with inter-island and international fights, daily buffet
breakfast, children under 18 staying free and free meals for under-12s. Book by
May 15 for selected dates until December 12. Costs from $2290 a person, twin
share, eight nights. 1300 004 292, myholidaycentre.com.au/hawaii.
Discover the highlights of the North and South islands on
the new 18-day Essence of New Zealand coach tour, which travels from Christchurch
to Auckland. All the beauties are on the list: Milford Sound, Franz Josef
Glacia, Te Papa Museum and a Maori Hangi dinner in between.  Save up to $440 on bookings by May 24. Departs
October 17, 2013 -25 December, 2014. Costs from $3950 a person, twin share. 1300
228 546, aatkings.com.au.
The Montage, Beverly Hills.
Blinded by the fabulous shopping of
LA? Get a pro to hold your hand and steer you through the glamour of Rodeo
Drive, with the ministrations of personal stylists from Stylehaus, Macy’s and BCBG
Max Azria, and go underground to eke out the best bargains in hush-hush outlet
stores. Australian Karine Bulger is your 24/7 personal concierge and escort who
has lived and worked in LA for years, and is leading four LA Experience tours
in 2013 timed to co-incide with LA’s sales seasons. Luxury continues with five
nights at the five-star The Montage hotel in Beverly Hills, with a deserved
lunch at The Ivy. There are pre-tour consultations to tailor your trip, and
your inbox will love the ongoing discounts on your favourite products. Costs
from $3370 a person. laexperience.com.