The real trip advisors reveal their tips for travel in 2015

Mesmerising Myanmar: Ancient temples and an increasingly
modern infrastructure are the drawcards. Photo: Getty Images.

So – what’s the next big thing? Travel experts
reveal their tips for the coming year.
With an
eye on the hip pocket, we’re looking at hometown holidays in 2015, say travel
industry’s chiefs. And while Asia is back on top as our favourite playground,
Myanmar continues its stellar orbit as the region’s shining star.
Gary Bartelings, Captain’s Choice
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Gallipoli for the centenary, on unusual train journeys, South America,
Antarctica and our new Australian tours by private plane.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Iran and Myanmar. For safe and trusted, a British
Isles cruise or a train journey through Switzerland.
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
 An unsettled world and the weakening
Australian dollar.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Chichen Itza in Mexico, Rio, Easter Island, Tahiti, Angkor  Wat,
the Taj Mahal and the Serenas, well as the UK and Europe.
Fearless
prediction?
Keep
travelling, so people across cultures, religions and countries can connect
peacefully. See captainschoice.com.au.
Simon Westcott, Luxe City Guides 
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Myanmar: infrastructure is improving and there’s a sense it’ll all
change fast.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Bhutan: because it’s not going to change fast. A
purer and more controlled experience awaits.  
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Travel safety: the perceived threat of increased
terrorism and infectious diseases.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
London, Florence, Marrakech, Taipei, Tokyo and the USA.
Fearless
prediction?

 Wifi flights will become the norm. See luxecityguides.com.
Alan Alcock, Wendy Wu Tours
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Japan, now great value for money, and India.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Sri Lanka, which is rapidly healing after its
terrible civil war, the idyllic Maldives, and Myanmar for quaint, rustic
antiquity.
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
The potential spread of terrorism to our region, health
issues such as Ebola and the value of the Australian dollar. 
Where are
you packing your bags for?
 Vietnam, Japan and Mongolia.
Fearless
prediction?

Self-drive three-wheeled tuk-tuk tours in India! See wendywutours.com.au.
Tom Walley, Flight Centre Australia
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Philippines: budget carrier Cebu Pacific Air has just kicked off a
service departing Sydney four times weekly.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
London, for the Rugby World Cup! 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Airfares have never been more affordable and
unless the US dollar drops significantly, the only issue is choosing where to
go. 
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Whistler: snowboarding is my passion. We will thaw out on Hamilton
Island. Fearless prediction? Aussies are in a golden era of travel with more
accessible prices, services and routes. See flightcentre.com.au.
Sue Badyari, World Expeditions
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Hiking and biking Cambodia, trekking the Patagonia Ice Cap, Arctic
cruising to see the Northern Lights, Nepal’s Manaslu Circuit, walking Spain’s
Camino. 
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Trekking the Altai mountains in Mongolia, hiking
and biking in China, cycling Puglia, Italy. 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Flight availability in peak seasons, more freak
storms and volatility in weather patterns due to global warming.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Italy’s Gran Paradiso Trek plus a self-guided cycling holiday from
Slovenia to Croatia!
Fearless
prediction for 2015?
The Great
Himalayan Trail – a five-month trek traversing Nepal’s high passes. See worldexpeditions.com.
Ann Sherry, Carnival Australia 
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Cruising Europe, Alaska, and the Baltics. 
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Asia, cruising from Japan and Singapore, visiting
Vietnam and Cambodia, and even Indonesia’s Komodo Island. 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
The falling dollar, sharpening travellers’ focus
on value.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Stradbroke Island, maybe an African safari and a PNG and Solomon
Islands cruise to test new destinations.
Fearless
prediction?
Weekends
at sea with Australia’s best food and wine. See carnival.com.au.
Caroline Kennedy, Cox & Kings Australia
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Italy and Greece for the food, wine, history and sites and Norway for
the Northern Lights.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
ANZAC centenary commemorations in Gallipoli, with
or without ballot tickets.
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Global safety issues and natural disasters.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
I would like to do The Ultimate Travelling Camp in India.
Fearless
prediction?

Experiencing destinations in 3D, such as enjoying the view from your
(prospective) hotel’s balcony. See coxandkings.com.au.
Anton Stanish, Stayz Holiday Accommodation
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
The Gold Coast, Darwin and fringe CBD; homeowners are realising the
viability of short-term rentals while travellers can immerse themselves in the
local neighbourhood.
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Dunsborough, Western Australia. Definitely a new
hot spot.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
A holiday rental in Cape Kidnappers, New Zealand, near golf courses,
vineyards and beaches. 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Low-cost air carriers continuing to open up new
markets, particularly in Asia.
Fearless
prediction?
Holiday
rentals becoming bookable online, like hotels. See stayz.com.au.
Karin Sheppard, InterContinental Hotels Group 
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
South-east Asia and the Asia Pacific, for snorkelling safaris, stunning
beaches.   
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
On ‘staycation,’ exploring your own city. Sydney’s
Double Bay has new eateries, bars, shops and the new InterContinental Sydney
Double Bay. 
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Truly personalised and local experiences. 
Where are
you packing your bags for?
Japan’s Cherry Blossom Festival, a diving holiday to Fiji and skiing in
Queenstown. 
Fearless
prediction?
More
marketing aimed at locals through social media, and brands rewarding guests for
publicising their trips via social media. See ihg.com.
Dave Boyte, Skyscanner
Where is
everyone going in 2015?
Safe, affordable Nicaragua, Central America and Mykonos, Greece. 
Where
should everyone be going in 2015?
Colombo, Sri Lanka is reinventing itself as a cool
foodie paradise. Flight searches to Bhutan are also on the rise.  
The
biggest issue in travel in 2015?
Online travel companies becoming mobile savvy, as
travellers use mobile phones to research, plan and book holidays.
Where are
you packing your bags for?
The coolest little capital, Wellington, and Tasmania.  
Fearless
prediction?

Meta-search websites – websites that aggregate information from all over the
web into one site – being an essential planning tool. See skyscanner.com.au.
This feature by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Traveller.

Get going: Cable Beach Resort

Cable Beach, WA.

Go west, to where camels roam the beaches and French champagne comes on ice. Yes, it’s Broome. Or ski Japan, swank up to the Gold Coast or take a textiles tour through England and France. You know you want to, with this week’s international and domestic travel deals.


GO NOW

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Get away in February to Pinctada Cable Beach Resort in Broome
and save $200. Book a Honjin courtyard suite for two nights and get
French champagne, chocolates, bath oils and airport transfers. Costs
$528, two nights. Phone (08) 9193 8388, see pinctada.com.au.
JAPAN

Catch the last of Hakuba’s snow season with mates and save up
to 40 per cent staying at The Lab’s six-share dorms. Five-day lift
pass, breakfast daily and airport transfers. From $670 for seven nights.
Phone (02) 9905 6162, see ski-resorts-japan.com.

GO SOON
HONG KONG

Stay three nights at Disney’s Hollywood Hotel and get one
ticket to Disneyland Hong Kong and airport transfers. Book by March 17
for travel May 4-17, May 14, Aug 31-Sep 13. $619 adults, $95 children
two to nine years. Phone 1300 301 711, see creativeholidays.com.au.

QT Gold Coast

GOLD COAST

Glam up on the Gold Coast at QT Gold Coast with a room
upgrade to an ocean-view king room, free breakfast, discounts in the spa
and midday checkout. Book by March 15 for travel until March 31. From
$229 a person, two nights, twin share. Phone 1300 019 130, see studentflights.com.au.

GO LATER

UNITED KINGDOM

Book your London stay by February 28 and stay six nights for
the price of five, or 12 nights for 10 at Citadines “London Apart”
hotels in five locations including Trafalgar Square. For stays April
1-August 31. From $341 a night. See holidaystoeurope.com.au/specials.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Go bush in style at El Questro Homestead. Stay four nights,
pay for three when booked before February 28 for travel April 1-October
25. From $5907 a room, three nights, includes meals, transfers from
Kununurra, some tours. Phone 1300 863 248, see elquestro.com.au.

Citadines London ‘Apart’

TOURWATCH

UK & FRANCE

Join tapestry artist Cresside Collette on a journey from
London to Aubusson discovering mediaeval tapestries, artists’ studios
and a four-day workshop at the Manoir du Bost. There’s also a daytrip to
weaving heartland Aubusson. The tour, from September 1-20, is $6699 a
person, twin share. Phone 03 9557 5898, see tapestrytour.blogspot.com.au.

This column by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sun-Herald newspaper. 

Going, going, gone: last-minute summer holiday ideas

Still stuck for a trip this summer? Let us tell you where to
go with these last-second holiday ideas compiled by Belinda Jackson.

Throw the schedule out the window and cut loose. There’s
still time to plan and book a holiday this summer. Really. What about a
fancy weekend on the Gold Coast, or a touch of luxury in Bali?
Auckland’s sparkling harbour is calling or go on the hunt for powder in
the Japanese alps. Adelaide’s festival scene is about to kick off and
there are bargains to be had in the South Pacific’s off-season.

Cheer
up, slackers, the early bird doesn’t always catch the worm, but you’d
better get your skates, fins or walking boots on, quick smart.

GOLD COAST HINTERLAND
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Tallebudgera Valley

The deal Who doesn’t dream about getting away from it all?
Organic, low-tech, wellness, but with a hefty dose of gorgeousness.
Internationally recognised for its luxury spa offering, five-star a
weekend escape at Gwinganna includes all-organic meals, and activities –
think bosu balance training, indoor cycling, hiking or creative dance –
and a massage in its 33-room Spa Sanctuary. Save 15 per cent on
selected weekends from January 17 to March 30.

How much From $948 a person, twin share in an Orchards Suite.

Getting there Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly Sydney-Gold Coast.

More details 1800 219 272, gwinganna.com.

CANBERRA

Five hotels including Novotel Canberra and Ibis Budget Canberra

The deal The National Gallery of Australia’s blockbuster
exhibit Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru is now showing. Book a
Cultural Getaway package at one of Accor’s five hotels, with breakfast
and two adults untimed tickets thrown in, until April 21.

How much from $119 a night at Ibis Budget Canberra, from $165 at Mercure Canberra and from $195 a night at Novotel Canberra.

Getting there It takes less than three hours to drive from Sydney to Canberra.

More details 1300 656 565, accorhotels.com/canberra-art.

VICTORIAN ALPS

Dinner Plain village

The deal Summer in the Australian Alps is free from the
madness of ski season, which means plenty of seats in Bright’s shining
restaurants and cooking schools and discounted accommodation. Stay
three, pay for two, nights in a self-contained apartment. They’ll throw
in local wine and cheese and a 90-minute horse ride with Dinner Plain
Trail Rides.

How much From $235 a person, twin share. Save $70 until April 30.

Getting there Qantas, Virgin Australia and Rex fly Sydney-Albury (1½ hours). Dinner Plain is two hours’ drive into the mountains.

More details (03) 5159 6556, skiholidays.com.au.

THAILAND

Radisson Blu Plaza Resort, Phuket Panwa Beach

The deal Phuket is so hot right now, with sleek properties
giving it an injection of fab, including oceanfront beauties.. Some
things stay the same: there’s still the great beaches, fun shopping,
bars and fabulous Thai cuisine to soak up. Save 20 per cent on two-night
stays on Radisson’s Asia Pacific hotels, including Sydney for a little
stay, until December 30 when booked by February 21.

How much From $244 for two nights.

Getting there Jetstar flies Sydney to Phuket.

More details 1800 333 333, radissonblu.com.

CAMBODIA, VIETNAM AND THAILAND

From Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok, via Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang

River life, Cambodia

The deal The nine-day adventure takes in the glory of Angkor
Wat’s temples and Battambang, where French Colonial and Khmer
architecture mix, not to mention racy Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok’s
great shopping. Trips depart January 19, 22 and 29, 2014. Book by
January 12.

How much from $791 a person (was $1055)

Getting there Vietnam Airlines flies direct Sydney-Ho Chi Minh City.

More details 1300 018 871, intrepidtravel.com/tkse.

MALAYSIA, MALACCA, IPOH AND PANGKOR ISLAND

The deal Named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 must-visit
countries for 2014, a good starting point in Malaysia to explore is the
UNESCO-listed heart of Malacca, once a kingdom, then a Portuguese
colony. Save $200 on travel on this seven-day journey with private car
until March 31, 2015. The tour departs daily from Kuala Lumpur.

How much From $1260 a person, twin share.

Getting there Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines fly Sydney to Kuala Lumpur.

More details 1300 295 049, adventureworld.com.au.

HAWAII

Shoreline Hotel, Waikiki

The deal With a 64 kilogram luggage allowance (oh, hello!)
Hawaii’s famed shopping is yours for the taking home. Stay six nights at
the newly renovated Shoreline from January 17 to March 25 (with more
dates later in the year) and get more than $550 in bonuses. Book by
January 31. We suggest upgrading to an ocean view.

How much From $1690 a person, including airfares with Hawaiian Airlines.

Getting there Hawaiian Airlines, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas fly Sydney-Honolulu.

More details 1300 004 292, myhawaii.com.au.

BLUE MOUNTAINS

Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

The deal Voted the best hotel in Australia in 2013 on
TripAdvisor, stay two nights in a Heritage Suite with a private pool,
all meals, some drinks and two activities a day, including horse riding
and save $390 a couple. They’ll also include pre-dinner cocktails and
canapes one night, and souvenir pool towels. Midweek guests get 25 per
cent off spa treatments, from January 6-March 31.

How much from $1680 a person for two nights (two-night minimum stay).

Getting there 2½ hours’ drive from Sydney.

More details (02) 9290 9733, wolganvalley.com.

NEW ZEALAND

Huka Lodge, Taupo

The deal The world’s biggest movers and shakers have
luxuriated in Huka Lodge, from Queen Elizabeth II (mover) to Bette
Midler (shaker), but the lodge loves families, too. It’s offering four
nights for the price of three in its suites or cottages, ideal for
multi-generational festivities, until August 31 (excluding Christmas
until January 5).

How much from $4125 a person, four nights, includes all meals, drinks, activities and transfers.

Getting there Air New Zealand, Jetstar,
Virgin Australia, Emirates, China Airlines, LAN Airlines and Qantas fly
Sydney-Auckland. Taupo is three hours’ drive from Auckland.

More details + 64 7378 579, hukalodge.co.nz.

Family getaways

BALI

Semara Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia

Semara Seminyak

The deal Petitenget is Seminyak’s coolest strip of
restaurants, bars and boutiques and Semara Seminyak is on the golden
strip between Ku De Ta and Potato Head Beach Club. Its spacious
executive suites are great for families, sleeping up to four, and gold
stars for the kids’ Cubby House throwing a New Year’s Eve party, so you
can kick up your heels. Save 70 per cent on stays until January 31.

How much From $134 plus 15 per cent a room, a night.

Getting there Virgin Australia, Garuda International and Jetstar fly direct to Denpasar.

More details +62 361 847 6661, semaraseminyak.com.

ADELAIDE

Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury
The deal Adelaide goes off in summer, with the Tour Down
Under in January and the fabulous Adelaide Festival. Stay three nights
and save 15 per cent until February 28. They’ll give you a picnic
blanket, so stock up at the Central Markets and head to the Botanical
Gardens for a lazy lunch.

How much From $185 a night.

Getting there Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia fly direct Sydney-Adelaide.

More details 1300 633 462, adinahotels.com.au.

Skiing at Hakuba, Japan

JAPAN

Wagaya Chalet, Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture

The deal Spring skiing in the Japanese Alps means
deliciously blue skies, no crowds and an average snow depth of 2.5
metres. This new three-bedroom chalet sleeps up to eight and is 500
metres to the lifts, with runs from beginner to Warren Miller. Save 40
per cent on this and other Hakuba accommodation in March: get seven
nights’ stay, five-day multi-resort lift pass, airport transfers and
breakfast.

How much From $1200 a person, six adults sharing. Children’s discounts available.

Getting there Qantas, Japan Airlines fly
Sydney-Tokyo direct. Jetstar flies (via Gold Coast, Uluru). About four
hours bullet train and bus, Tokyo to Hakuba.

More details (02) 9905 6162, ski-resorts-japan.com.

GOLD COAST

Soul Surfers Paradise

The deal Soul shoots 77 storeys up and its luxe pool is
where all the chic families are soaking up the Queensland sun this
summer (when they’re not on the beach out front). Make time for its
two-hat restaurant, Seaduction by Steve Szabo, of Palazzo Versace fame.
Stay four nights, pay for three in a two-bedroom ocean view apartment
until March 31.

How much from $1437 for four nights.

Getting there Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly Sydney-Gold Coast.

More details 1800 737 444, peppers.com.au.

 

Soul Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast, Queensland.


VANUATU

Coconut Palms Resort, Port Vila

The deal A South Pacific getaway without busting the budget,
and only 3½ hours’ flight time. True, January is the wettest month,
but regardless of weather or budget, the waters are warm, the markets
are bustling and the islands are for hopping. Stay five nights, pay
four when booked by January 31, available until March 31. Includes
return airfares and breakfasts.

How much From $945 for five nights.

Getting there Air Vanuatu and Qantas fly Sydney-Port Vila direct and Virgin Australia (via Brisbane).

More details 1300 747 400, creativeholidays.com.

AUCKLAND

The Heritage Auckland

The deal Tap into Auckland’s Polynesian vibe, picnic at a
volcano’s feet and kick off your exploration of Middle-Earth as NZ goes
into Hobbit overdrive with the launch of The Hobbit: The Desolation of
Smaug this month. The art deco hotel offers a stay in a family deluxe
suite with free parking, breakfast for two adults and two kids, free
Wi-Fi and drinks until February 9.

How much From $NZ209 a room.

Getting there Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, China Airlines, Emirates, LAN Airlines and Qantas fly Sydney-Auckland.

More details 1800 141 780, heritagehotels.co.nz.


This article by Belinda Jackson was first published in the Sun-Herald newspaper.

Petting lions and paddling in the Med: a day in Egypt

A day spent swimming and patting lion cubs: in all, an excellent day in Egypt.
Apologies for
the silence, I’ve been offline up on Egypt’s north coast, where I had no
internet, curfews (thank you, revolution) and not even a chemist for lousy cold tablets.
It’s
sometimes strange to think that Egypt is a Mediterranean country (did you know there are 21?), but it’s home to some of the most budget-friendly Med resorts. The flashiest of
them all is Porto Marina, 280km from Cairo, where ministers and other high government officials
have their summer getaways, in the form of luxe tower apartments and chic chalets.
Porto Marina and a foolhardy bungee jumper.
There’s a
touch of Australia’s Gold Coast to it all, with a huge restaurant strip on a marina full
of white boats, a crane hauling quaking bungee jumpers up into the sky. But it’s
still Egypt: while we were having lunch there today, a man walked by, carrying
a five-month-old lion cub. The photographer by his side made sure nobody got to
take a snap without producing the gold.
The little
cub is from a local circus, and they assured me she wasn’t drugged, as she
curled up against the man like a kitten. We patted her paws, stroked her back and
admired her beautiful eyes without complaint.
“Do you
want your daughter to sit on the lion for a photo?” asked the tout. Listen
mate, I’ve already horrified enough animal lovers with posts of Eid’s sacrifices, I
told him. Let’s not push it…
(PS: I can’t show you the pic of the lion because I’m a dentist. No, it’s because I don’t have a scanner. Will work on that one…)

Bargains in Bali and Britain, family-friendly fun in Malaysia: travel deals 29 September 2013

The Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Qld.

Grab an off-peak bargain on Britain’s trains or in Bali’s villas, be one of the first to see the revamped Sheraton Mirage on the Gold Coast, or splash out with the kids in Malaysia, a truly family-friendly country. Go on, you’re worth it.

Go now:
See the five-star Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa Gold
Coast’s $26 million renovation. Stay three, pay for two nights, from $580 or
stay four and pay three nights, from $870, until December 22, (07) 5577 0000, sheratonmiragegoldcoast.com.au.
Go sooner: Britain
Save 20 per cent on the BritRail Pass and Britrail
England Pass between November 1 and February 28, 2014 when you book by February
12, 2014. From $185 an adult for a three-day pass, raileurope.com.au
The main bedroom, Villa Asanda, Bali.
Go now:  Bali
Nine beautiful Balinese villas are on sale: save 20
percent on rates at the fully staffed villas on stays until December 20. Villas
range from three to six bedrooms, from $420 a night, three-bed villa, marketingvillas.com.
KIDS
The themed Kid Suites at the Holiday Inn Resort Penang are
part of a Malaysian getaway with Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur. The
seven-night, two-town package includes domestic flights, two free nights, bonus
upgrades, tours and kids under 12 stay and eat free in Penang. Book by November
30, from $1790 a person, 1300 696 252, myholidaycentre.com.au/Malaysia.

This article was written by Belinda Jackson and published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper.

Shacktastic! Great Aussie holiday homes

Getting away from it all? Not any more — we want holiday homes that have it all… (or, as I’ve subtitled this piece in my noisy head, how we traded the caravan for the castle.)

For generations of Aussies, summer holidays always started with a
long, “I spy”-dominated drive to the beach.

The accommodation was either
a caravan park, where kids ran rampant from dawn until dusk and the
queue at the shower block was the essential meeting place, or the
classic beach shack, built on a shoestring and furnished with the
cast-offs from the family home.

We’ve always loved our beach
shacks: hidden from view on the white-sand beaches of the NSW south
coast or up in idyllic Byron Bay, you’ll see them among the dunes along
the South Australian coastline, tucked away down sandy lanes on the
Bellarine and Mornington peninsulas, so laid-back they’re almost
horizontal.

Stayz, a division of Fairfax Media, recently held its annual awards for
the best holiday rentals in seven categories including best for pets,
romance, families and eco-friendliness, as well as a people’s choice.
Judged by a panel of travel industry experts with guest ratings and
reviews in the mix, the results are an eye-opener.

These days the locations are different: we’re not just running to the
beach any more. Sure, there are winners in Noosa, Byron Bay and on
Culburra Beach, just outside Nowra, but there are also winners in the
Victorian foodie region around Kyneton, in the genteel NSW southern
highlands and another on the sleepy east Gippsland coastline.

“The
mix of holiday homes is changing,” says Anton Stanish, general manager
of Stayz. “We’ve also got more inner-city serviced apartments,
especially on the Gold Coast. They’re so convenient for fly-in
holidaymakers. And we’ve got more unique properties.”

Choose your dream: a tree-house? A castle? A lighthouse? Or a yurt? A
train carriage or go underground to a subterranean B&B? You might
need a jetty for your own boat, or helicopter access for a particularly
dramatic arrival. While the shape of the holiday house has changed, so
have our requirements.

Nowadays, remember to take your iPad and
smartphones, Stanish says. Far from getting away from it all, a huge
percentage of holiday homes now have Wi-Fi. We’re holidaying
differently: we expect great beds, pay-TV and internet access. We’re out
to “enjoy ourselves” and “we’re no longer doing hardship”, he says.

Indulgence winner: Toraja Luxury just outside Byron Bay.

With
the rise in demand comes the rise in agents happy to supply, and not
just traditional real estate agents. The last year has seen a rush of
activity among the online players, which include behemoth Stayz, which
has more than 40,000 properties on its books, HomeAway.com.au with
19,000 holiday listings, and wotif.com, which launched a dedicated
holiday homes service in March 2012.

Newcomer Airbnb, which lets people
advertise not only their homes but also rooms, launched in Australia
late last year, and has gone public about its intention to take on Stayz
in the holiday rentals market.

With such choice available, you need to choose carefully. Think about
what you’d use the property for: obviously, a couple chasing romance
doesn’t need to pay for a two-bedroom house and if you’re a large group,
check that there are enough bathrooms for you all.

Groups also
need to ensure they have enough transport, especially if you’re booking a
country house, such as a Victorian farmhouse B&B.

If you want
to eat in a different restaurant every night, is a country retreat
really for you, or would it be better basing yourself in a foodie town,
such as the beloved spa town of Daylesford, Victoria, where you can
totter home afterwards, bypassing the need for a designated driver? And
while pool fences are compulsory in Australia, it also goes without
saying that kids and cliff-top retreats don’t mix.

Villa Vivante, Coffs Harbour, is perched 750 feet above the Pacific
Ocean,
it’s a vivid image of the beautiful villas on the Cote d’Azure
in
the South of France.

If you’re
packing the pets, check that the local beaches or parks are leash-free:
in summer, many beaches ban dogs in daylight hours. Hound-friendly
holiday homes are on the increase and the advantage for holiday home
owners is that dog owners are a sturdy bunch, with the market not so
reliant on good weather.

“Many dog owners are happy to get a break
from the city all year around to give their dogs a run, so dog-friendly
holiday rentals are becoming increasingly popular,” says Stephen
Nicholls, Fairfax Media’s national Domain editor and property
trend-watcher.

However simple or complex your wishes, at the end
of the day, it’s still a holiday. We’ve come a long way for the best
getaway. In many properties, you’ll also find quality linen supplied,
brand toiletries, top-brand coffee machines… all the lovely things we
may not necessarily have at home.

You can tick off the five key
factors that make a good holiday home: uniqueness, good value, the right
space and size, exclusivity of use and that old real estate mantra,
location, location, location.
Once upon a time, you just added
water – think beaches, rivers or lakes – to make the perfect holiday
home. Now, we expect dependable internet, luxury linen, professionally
kitted-out kitchens and a plethora of entertainment options from
restaurant strips to theme parks and, of course, a great beach.

The
great Australian getaway definitely has changed as our households have
changed, with more singles on the move, as well as couples young and old
without kids. Holidaymakers, as Nicholls points out, want to travel
with their pets, with a group of mates, or take a holiday that leaves a
lighter footprint on the planet.

Families are also more
adventurous – no staying at home just because we have young children,
and thanks to rising petrol costs, lower airfares and more services to
regional airports, many visitors will arrive at their destination by
plane rather than a long road trip through countless country towns. Baby
boomers are happily blowing their children’s inheritance on holidays,
while the core holiday home market – inter-generational travel, which
sees grandparents holidaying with all their kids – has always been a key
holiday rental market.

While villa rentals are on-trend in our
favourite international destinations such as Bali and Thailand,
Australia’s stepping up to the plate; which is particularly timely as
our obsession with overseas travel is set to wane as our dollar winds
back recent gains.

Building on our existing love of a beach shack,
those holiday homes are now a bit glossier, more polished, with
matching linen and chic, gingham-checked breakfast baskets featuring
sumptuous piles of regional produce.

Something that hasn’t changed
is that the most popular spots for holiday homes remain within 2½
hours’ drive of our capital cities. “That’s about as long as young
families with two kids in the back seat can tolerate for a weekend
break,” Nicholls says.

For Sydneysiders, the south coast is a hot
locale. Destination NSW says the most popular spot in the state for
Sydney short-break holidaymakers is the south coast, with 23 per cent of
us heading there, while the north coast gets 17 per cent of the
traffic, and the Hunter Valley 15 per cent. The beach towns of Hyams
Beach, Nowra and Huskisson remain popular as well as Nicholls’ personal
favourite, Jervis Bay, right on the 2½-hour mark.

While it’s
traditionally quiet in the middle of winter, Todd Gallant from Hyams
Beach Real Estate says the beachside spot, which sells itself as having
the whitest sand in the world, is increasingly popular with
holidaymakers, though official tourism figures show its biggest rival is
NSW’s north coast, with tourist traffic to Byron Bay currently booming,
and we’re not even talking about across the border to the holiday mecca
that is Noosa.

Not quite as far away from Sydney, Pacific Palms –
specifically Blueys Beach – is just under three hours’ drive north of
Sydney on the appropriately named Holiday Coast, a strong lure for
time-poor north shore holidaymakers.

As the six-week summer
holiday fades into a nostalgic haze, the long weekender continues to
rise in popularity: four-day mini-breaks are hot right now.

For a full-list of the winners of this year’s Stayz Group Holiday Rental Awards, see stayz.com.au.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sydney Morning Herald/The Age

Skip to the sun or travel with a conscience: travel deals, August 4, 2013

Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket

If now is the winter of your discontent, get thee to Thailand: to Phuket, to be precise. Or Burma, which is so hot right now – in the tourist sense as well as talking temperatures. 

Australia’s Gold Coast is always a favourite escape for us southerners, though this time, it’s with a twist for the kids (because kids appreciate posh labels, don’t they?). But if you want to embrace winter, do it with a conscience, in Melbourne’s only carbon-neutral hotel, in this week’s travel deals.

GO NOW: MELBOURNE

Alto on Bourke is Melbourne’s only carbon-neutral hotel.
Stay in its studio rooms from $158 (normally from $238), and get breakfast,
unlimited organic, fair-trade coffee and free bike hire. Book by August 16 for
travel until October 26. 1800 135 123, altohotel.com.au.
Alto on Bourke, Melbourne
GO SOONER: THAILAND
Dusit hotels
worldwide, including the Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket, are giving guests 35 percent of their accommodation
costs to spend on dining and spa treatments. Suite upgrades are available for $54.
Costs from $139 a double, room only, until end September. (02) 9410
3405, dusit.com.
  
GO LATER: BURMA
Meditate with monks on a The Golden Land of Burma tour that includes lunch
with the Intha tribe. Save 15 percent on selected departures until March 11,
2014. Costs from $3630 a person, twin share. 1300 836 764, coxandkings.com.au/au/15off.
Inle lake fishermen, Burma
KIDS: GOLD COAST’S GLAM BABES
Chic children take tea at the Gold Coast’s iconic Palazzo
Versace hotel. Its new Little Fashionistas high teas are served on Versace
china (that’s brave!) overlooking the hotel’s lagoon. The menu, for groups of
eight or more, includes lemonade spiders, toffee apples, cake pops and the
omnipresent macaroons. Costs $12 for children 12 and under, (07) 5509 8000, palazzoversace.com.au.

Swing and sing across Texas: travel deals 27 January 2013

Do glamour, Gregory Peck and gelato in Italy, swim with dolphins in Western Australia or hit the road, Jack, and swing across Texas, in this week’s round-up of domestic and international travel deals.


ACT
Canberra’s centenary calendar is hotting up, with the National Archives of Australia showing exhibitions by photographer Max Dupain and on Britain’s Child Migrants, there are the best political cartoons on show at the Museum of Australian Democracy in Old Parliament House and, of course, Toulouse Lautrec in the National Gallery. Stay at the five-star Hotel Realm, within the parliamentary triangle, until end June and save 54 per cent on the full rate with its ‘Love Notes’ package, which includes accommodation, a mini Moet, dessert platter, breakfast and late check-out. Costs from $375 for two people, one night, quote ‘Love Notes’. 1300 88 7979, wotif.com/hotelW50609.

NSW
You don’t have to leave the state to find one of the
world’s longest resort swimming pools: coming in at 485 metres long, it’s at
the Oaks Pacific Blue Resort in Port Stephens, 160km north of Sydney. The quiet
coastal region is a magnet for fisherfolk, dolphin spotters and those who just
like rolling down sand dunes, while the resort facilities include tennis
courts, a gym and a Japanese steam room.  Save up to $25 a night on when you book a
two-night stay from January 27-June 30. Costs from $258, studio room, two
nights. 1300 669 978, oakshotelsresorts.com.

QUEENSLAND
You’ll be praying for hot weather with a deal at QT Gold
Coast hotel’s SpaQ, which knocks the price of the day’s top temperature off
your midweek one-hour spa treatment. So if it’s 29 degrees, you’ll get $29 off the
cost of the treatment. Valid until February 28, Mondays-Thursdays and quote
‘I’m hot’.  07 5584 1108, qtgoldcoast.com.au/spa-q/.
The dolphins of Monkey Mia, WA.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Set foot on the most westerly tip of Australia, at Cape Leeuwin, walk through the Valley of the Giants, watched over by towering forests, and journey into Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit on a 15-day coach tour of WA’s south east. Starting and finishing in Perth, the tour includes lunch at Palandri Winery in the Margaret Valley, a walking tour of Fremantle and a meet-and-greet with Monkey Mia’s dolphins. Book during the wildflower season, from August to November, to see WA’s desert plains flushed with colour. Book with a deposit by February 15, and your friend saves 25 percent. Costs from $4550 for the first person, $3413 for your friend. 1300 228 546, aatkings.com.au.

VICTORIA
Visit some of the most beautiful
gardens surrounding Melbourne on a three-night tour just in time for Mother’s
Day. Staying at the Sofitel Melbourne, the small group tour starts with high
tea at The Hotel Windsor, followed by a street art tour through the city’s
laneways, for an edgy touch. The gardens on tour include Cranbourne Botanic
Gardens’ Australian garden, Heronswood on the Mornington Peninsula and the
William Ricketts Sanctuary in the Dandenong Ranges. Book by February 28
and save $100. Includes  most meals,
botanical guides and airport transfers. Costs from $1695 a person, twin share.
1300 305 202, botanica.travel.
Hotel Aviatic, Paris
  
FRANCE
Soak up the Parisian vibe at a discount price at the
Hotel Aviatic, on the Left Bank, close by the bars and restaurants of Saint-Germain
des Prés and Montparnasse. Save E135 ($171) on a traditional room or E165 on a
prestige room, and get breakfast, a bottle of wine and chocolates on stays
until February 28. Costs from E160 (traditional room) or E195 (prestige room).
1800 667 731, aviatic.fr.
COOK ISLANDS
The islands of the Pacific are renowned for their
welcoming arms, and those travelling to Rarotonga with Air New Zealand will
receive NZ$100 (A$75) to spend, for a very warm welcome, indeed.  You could do an Aitutaki Lagoon tour, enjoy
an hour-long massage, get two days’ car hire or buy 20 papaya smoothies! Book
by March 4 for travel until June 3, cookislands.travel. Passengers traveling
Air New Zealand from Sydney to Rarotonga direct on Saturday nights get an
additional round of discounts on activities on the islands. Flights depart
Sydney 8.30pm Fridays, arrive Rarotonga 5.30am Saturdays. 132 476,
airnewzealand.com.au.

NEW ZEALAND
Spend Valentine’s Day at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, in
Hawke’s Bay, voted one of the world’s top lodges and save 15 percent off the
standard high season rate. The package includes one night in a luxury suite, a
bottle of champagne, rose petals, bath oil and candles. There’s also a
five-course dinner, breakfast, mini-bar and, importantly, late check-out.
What’s not to love? Valid February 10-17. Costs from $855 a person, twin share
(naturally).  +64 6 875 1900, capekidnappers.com
FIJI

The sunny islands of Fiji are on the rebound after last
year’s Cyclone Evan, with deals to be had. Stay seven nights at the Sofitel
Fiji Resort & Spa on the five-star strip on Denarau Island, get return
airfares from Sydney, $535 in wine, dine and spa credit, a full-day island
cruise, a cultural heritage tour, airport transfers, breakfast, free kids food
and kids’ club. Costs from $1690 a person, twin share. Similar deals are
available at the Sheraton Fiji Resort and Outrigger on the Lagoon. 1300 00 34
54, myholidaycentre.com.au/fiji/.

ITALY
Glamour, Gregory Peck and gelato: do Italy like Audrey
Hepburn, swanning through Tuscany, Rome and the Amalfi coast. Diva alert: join
a handful of other fabulous travellers and cruise Italy in the ultimate girls’
getaway of shopping, spas and Vespas. Book and deposit the 14-day ‘Do it like
Audrey Hepburn’ tour by February 22 for departure on June 23, and get a free
night in a 4-star Florence hotel before or after the tour. Costs from $6959 a person, twin share, quote
‘SHDIVAS’. 0408 721
569, travellingdivas.com.au.
TOURWATCH
San Antonio, Fort
Worth, Memphis, Texarkana … if these names resonate with your soul, it’s time
to hit the American West – in a Mustang convertible, of course – for a musical
road trip across the USA, from LA to Nashville. The Swing Across Texas
self-drive tour is fully escorted and departs June 15, hitting Route 66, Vegas
and Buddy Holly’s birthplace in Lubbock County, Texas, with the Grand Canyon in
there for good measure. The clincher is there’s a live act or entertainment in
every city, every night of the 22-day tour, which is included in the price
along with car hire and insurance. Costs from $7350 a person, twin share. (07)
5577 4655, classicdrivingtours.com.

Hide away in the Maldives, Kimberley or Falkands: travel deals 2 December 2012


Hideaway tourism is so hot right now: Western Australia’s Kimberley, an island resort in the Maldives (pictured left), not to be confused with those other remote islands, Islas Malvinas, aka the South Atlantic’s Falkland Islands. There’s deals to be had in all corners of the world. Read on…


TASMANIA
Queueing is sooo boring – stay at Mantra One Sandy Bay
and they’ll hand over two tickets, worth $40, to the Museum
of Old and New Art
(MONA) Theatre of the World exhibition in
their ‘Ultimate Hobart Package’. The hotel is a short walk from the ferry that
takes you up the Derwent River to MONA, or is a less romantic 15 minutes’
drive. Costs from $209 a night in a one-bedroom apartment until December
25. 131 517, mantra.com.au.

NSW
The city is hotting up for Christmas, and the Sydney
Hilton, on George St, is well placed to soak up the festive vibe. The hotels’Any
weekend Anywhere’ deal saves 25 per cent off its room only an dB&B rates on
stays from November 26, 2012 until December 31, 2013. Bookings are open unitl
February 14, 2013, and you must book at least seven days before you stay. Costs
from $209 a night. (02) 9266 2051, hiltonsydney.com.au.  
Hello, Darwin.
NORTHERN TERRITORY
For a taste of real summer and different harbour views,
head north to the tropical heat of Darwin and sink a sundowner as the sun sets
over the water. Crowne Plaza Darwin’s Recharge package knocks 20 per cent off
the room rate and throws in a free breakfast buffet on stays until February 28,
2013. Minimum three nights’ stay. Costs from $354 for three nights, 138 388, crowneplaza.com/recharge.
 
VICTORIA
The
Yarra Valley is a vista of rolling hills and vineyards, with the 4.5-star Mercure
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa in its centre. The hotel has just
opened its new Experience Pool, set at a toasty 28 degrees, which provides therapeutic
treatments and exercises that tie in with its onsite spa. Stay midweek (Mon –
Thurs) in a one bedroom spa suite and they’ll include breakfast and a couple of
champagne cocktails – perhaps simultaneously? – on stays from December 16 to
February 28, 2013. Costs from $305 a night (03) 9730 0700, balgownieestate.com.au.
QUEENSLAND
Forget rumours that Queensland is the most expensive
place to holiday in Australia@: take the family for a Gold Coast break for less
than a grand. Book a BYOKids family package for two adults and two kids staying
seven nights in a two-bedroom apartment in Turtle Beach Resort, and get a round
of putt-putt golf, paddle pop vouchers and welcome drinks, as  well as a family pass to “Ripley’s
Believe it or Not,” worth nearly $50. Book by December 16 for stays from
now until December 21, and from January 27 – March 27, 2013. Costs $995 for 2
adults, 2 kids or $1170 for 2 adults, 3 kids. 1300 296 543, byokids.com.au.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The only way to arrive at Australia’s newest eco lodge is
by float plane. The Berkeley River Lodge sits on Joseph Bonaparte Gulf, on the Kimberley coast, one of Australia’s
great wildernesses an hour’s flight from the nearest town. Couples save $2100
and solo travellers save $1100 on this four-night package that includes
float plane transfers from Kununurra, guided treks, river cruises and fishing
adventures. Stay February 1 – March 31, 2013, costs from $5976 a couple, $4488
for solo, four nights. 1300 851 800, abercrombiekent.com.au.
ITALY
When in Rome… drive a Fiat 500. Actually, this new tour
starts in Florence, and sees you driving in a convoy of the classic tiny Fiat
500 cars along quiet private roads to a 15th-century Renaissance villa for a
Tuscan picnic, swim and wine tasting. The five-hour tour normally costs $190 a
person. Book and pay by December 31 for tours between February and October
2013, and save 25 per cent. Costs from $145 a person, twin share. (03) 5722
1245, holidaystoeurope.com.au/specials.
WALES
Visit medieval towns and learn to say their names,
especially when their names are Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
Lucky you’ve got five days to do so, on a five-day Welsh Explorer. Other Welsh
classics on the tour include the wilds of Snowdonia, Conwy castle and a coal
mine. Save up to 15 per cent on bookings before December 21, quote code
‘earlybird’. Costs from $349 a person. 1300 287 226, haggisadventures.com.
The Alhambra, Granada, Spain.
SPAIN
Ronda’s beautiful bullring, Real
Palace, the Alhambra – does Spanish sightseeing get any better? Yes, when you
add wine and tapas tasting, and sangria and flamenco in Seville. The eight-day
small-group Spanish Inspiration tour starts in Madrid and travels south to
Malaga. Save $812 on bookings made by December 15. Costs from $3468 a person,
twin share. 1300 100 410, backroadstouring.com.au.
CHINA
Any holiday can be improved with the inclusion of a Rolls-Royce transfer or lavish afternoon tea, and Shanghai is no exception. Book a two-night Winter Moments stay at the Peninsula Shanghai and get up to US$150 credit to spend in the hotel’s restaurants, spas or services, as well as an upgrade to the next room category, daily American breakfast, free local calls and wi-fi. Stay by March 15, 2013, costs from $714 for two nights. 1800 116 888, peninsula.com/wintermoments.

MALDIVES
The Maldives are the last word in luxury, and the
44-bungalow island resort of Huvafen Fushi per Aquum one of its jewels, with
the world’s first underwater spa. The property has just reopened following a
refurb and is offering guests free speedboat transfers, free half board and a
stay five, pay four deal in its beach bungalows, complete with plunge pool,
until December 23. Usually from US$6050, costs from US$3800 for five nights. eliteresortsofasiapacific.com.
TOURWATCH
Marathon obsessives, take note, the world’s most
southerly marathon, on the far-flung Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic,
will take place on March 17, 2013. The remote archipelago comprises more than 700
islands off the eastern coast of Argentina, and its brief summer sees average
temperatures of just 15 degrees, though there’s plenty of sunshine. The
Falklands hosts an extreme marathon route that sees less than 50 runners
complete the race each year. An eight-day tour departs Punta Arenas in southern
Chile and visits a penguin colony in Chile, and the Falklands islands of Sea
Lion, Darwin and Carcass, for a chance to
mingle with the locals – human and animal, including reindeer, orca pods
and sea lions. The itinerary includes time for pre-race preparation and costs
from $4195 a person including internal
flights. +1 406 541 2677, adventure-life.com.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

Shake it, spa it, catwalk it: Travel deals 9 September 2012

Four-Diamond Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa 
Nostalgic surfer chic meets Miami swim catwalk on the Gold Coast and learn to shake what your mama gave you at the home of samba, salsa and tango. 

VICTORIA
Quest’s five new studio apartment properties in
inner-urban Sydney and Melbourne include a kitchenette, workspace and free
wi-fi. They’re kicking off with deals such as $175 a night, down from $300, at
Quest Studios East Melbourne, close to the shopping strip of Bridge Road and
Melbourne’s top sports arenas. Includes breakfast for two at a local café. Stay
until October 30, quote ‘SHSO’ when booking. (03)
9413 0000, questapartments.com.au.
TASMANIA
Save 40 per cent when you book a night at Launceston’s
Country Club Tasmania, on the edge of the state’s second city. A night in a 4.5-star
deluxe room for two includes a bottle of Tasmanian wine, 18 holes of golf and a
30-minute massage as well as breakfast in the Links restaurant. Go horse
riding, take a wine tour or fish for trout in its private lake. Costs $299 a
night, until September 30.  1800 635 344,
countryclubtasmania.com.au 
QT Gold Coast
 QUEENSLAND
Get the party started on the Gold Coast with a two-night
stay in the slinky QT Gold Coast, self-described as ‘nostalgic surfer chic
meets Miami swim catwalk’. That’ll help you choose your wardrobe. On top of a
saving of $384, you’ll get breakfast, an exploratory dinner for two in its hugely
popular signature restaurant, Bazaar and $50 spa credit or a party starter at
the happening Stingray Lounge. Costs from $450 a room for two nights until
November 30.  (07) 5584 1200, qtgoldcoast.com.au.
Seashells Resort Mandurah
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Mandurah is only an hour south of Fremantle, which is
gearing up for the return of the replica Dutch ship Duyfken, the first European
ship to reach Australia in 1606, on Sunday 23 September. Stay three, pay for
two nights in a one-bedroom apartment at the 4.5-star Seashells Resort Mandurah
until November 30. Costs from $210 a person, three nights, twin share.  132 757, harveyworld.com.au.
NORTHERN TERRITORY
Watch the sun rise on Uluru, discover galleries of
Aboriginal rock art and visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Book 12 months
advance for your journey into the red centre, saving up to $450 a couple on a
six-day Red Centre Discovery. Included is a dinner and a discovery tour of the
Earth Sanctuary World National Centre, airport transfers and guiding. Deal
valid on departures until December 28, 2013. Earlybird special costs from $1689 a person, twin
share. 1300 228 546, aatkings.com.au.
NSW
Spring has sprung so put a wiggle in your walk with a
visit to the town of love and light, Byron Bay. Normally $780 room only, the
sleek Byron at Byron resort’s spring package gets you 10 per cent off in the
spa, restaurant and bar, as well as free yoga, wifi, daily breakfast buffet and
bike hire to cruise the rainforest trails down to the beach. Valid for stays
until December 10. Costs $794 for two nights in a standard suite. 1300 554 362, thebyronatbyron.com.au.
FRANCE
B&B, 
Île Saint-Louis, Paris
You may still be shopping for the wardrobe to suit your
Parisian jaunt, but your apartment will certainly come up to scratch. Set on
the Île Saint-Louis, an island in the middle of the Seine, the B&B is on
the third floor of a traditional Haussmann building, and despite its antique
interiors, its owners welcome kids. There are two rooms, great for families or
two couples. Save from E44 a night on stays between November 1 and March 30.
Costs from E175 a night. petiteparis.com.au.
HAWAI’I
Hit the sands of Waikiki beach and stay eight nights at the Four-Diamond Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort & Spa, with breakfast, flights and airport transfers. Kids under 17 stay free, under-12s get free lunch and dinner with a paying adult. Bonuses include a tour of Pearl Harbour and Honolulu city and one entertainment show or catamaran dinner cruise. Costs from $1990 a person, twin share, eight nights and return airfares with Hawaiian Airlines. 1300 00 42 92, myholidaycentre.com.au/hawaii.

Semara Resort & Spa
BALI
Hot to shop and the island’s best dining strip, Seminyak
is the fast-beating heart of Bali. The Semara Resort & Spa’s Winter Escape
deal saves $438 on stays until September 30. Book a two-night stay in a
superior poolside room, get daily buffet breakfast,  dinner for two at Finns Beach Club, two hours
for two in the spa, wifi, yoga  and
meditation classes and airport transfers. Costs from $484 for two people, two
nights. +62 (361) 847 6661, semararesorts.com.
MALAYSIA
Koto Kinabalu, Malaysia
Get a double dose of the tropics and a free Darwin stopover
on your way to Malaysia’s Kota Kinabalu. Price includes return flights to KK via
Darwin with Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia, two nights at Darwin’s
Travel Lodge Mirambeena Resort and four nights at Novotel Kota Kinabalu.
They’ll throw in a free tour of Litchfield National Park, worth $149, full
breakfast daily and one free nightBook by end September, travel November 1 –
December 7. Costs from $1459 a person (land and air). 1300 747 400, creativeholidays.com/asiaonsale.
 
AFRICA &
MIDDLE EAST
Blend African wildlife with the craziness of Cairo and
Jordan’s deserts over 26 days from Cape Town to Cairo. Book before December 31
and your friend flies free (paying only taxes of $795), saving up to $2040 per
couple. Departs August – October 2013 and includes all flights within Africa,
two charter flights in Kenya, 4WD game viewing and accommodation in private
game lodges and luxury camps. Costs from $18,995 a person, twin share. 1300 229
804, aptouring.com.au.
TOURWATCH
Learn to shake what your mama gave you, and where better
than the home of samba, salsa and tango, South America? This 14-day dance-themed tour starts in
Santiago, Chile, where you’ll tackle the cueca and rumba, lubricated with wineries
visits, before hitting Buenos Aires’ La Boca district for up-close-and-personal
tango workshops. There’s samba and salsa classes in Rio de Janeiro as well as
visits to Copacabana Beach and Corcovado Mountain, to stand at the feet of
Christ the Redeemer, and the tour includes a trip to the Argentinean and
Brazilian sides of the magnificent Iguassu Falls. Departs March 3, 2013. Costs
from $3995 a person, twin share and includes some meals and all South American
flights. 1300 558 987, tempoholidays.com.
Source: Belinda Jackson Sun Herald