Japan’s Hokkaidō tops Lonely Planet’s ‘Best in Asia 2016’ list

The travel lists are coming thick and fast today! Hot on the heels of world’s best airline lists, Lonely Planet has just issued its Asian hotspots for 2016.

Here’s what the Lonely Planet experts have to say:

“Lonely
Planet’s Best in Asia 2016
1.
Hokkaidō, Japan
Hokkaidō’s perfect
powder snow put it on the international map, but it has also blinded visitors
to the year-round charms of Japan’s northernmost island. Hokkaidō has
become a lot more accessible this year thanks to the new bullet train linking
its southern port city, Hakodate, to Tokyo.”
2. Shànghǎi,
China
“Looking
for the centre of the universe right now? It’s surely Shànghǎi.
This year’s a big one, with the first Disney resort in mainland China opening
here, as well as the completion of the long-awaited Shànghǎi Tower,
the world’s second tallest building.”
3. Jeonju,
South Korea
“Having long flown under the
radar as the country’s top foodie destination, Jeonju has
finally started to make mouths water further afield. The birthplace of Korea’s
most famous dish, bibimbap, now lures a younger crowd thanks to its
fast-emerging street food scene.”
4. Con Dao Islands, Vietnam
“This archipelago now ranks among
Asia’s hottest emerging destinations. With improved flight connections
from Ho Chi Minh City, there is no better place right now to feast on
fresh seafood, explore in search of a perfect beach and revel in a castaway
vibe.”
5. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong is
focusing on its natural heritage – specifically, the
UNESCO-designated geopark, a 50-sq km region to the northeast. A shuttle
bus between the geopark’s Sai Kung town and its ancient rock
formations debuted this May, hard on the heels of a ferry service to Lai
Chi Wo Village.”
6. Ipoh, Malaysia
“Malaysia’s lesser-known food
capital has new flair thanks to a crop of boutique cafes that have sprung up in
its historic quarter. At the heart of Ipoh’s renaissance is otherworldly
concept hotel Sekeping Kong Heng.”
7. Pemuteran, Indonesia
“A double bay of beaches
near Menjangan … don’t wait until everybody arrives; catch the
buzz now from this alluring mix of art-filled resorts, inventive new
restaurants and the mellowest vibe around.”
8. Trang Islands,
Thailand
Trang Islands pack
the same knockout punch as their more famous Andaman Coast neighbours; all they
lack are the crowds. Go, now – while these sleepy islands bask in untouched
splendour.”
9. Meghalaya, India
“Opportunities for hiking,
climbing, caving and rafting abound. After decades off the tourist map, people
are starting to notice this backwater. Meghalaya won’t stay
this quiet for long; go before thrill seekers storm the Khāsi Hills.”
10. Taitung, Taiwan
Taitung is Taiwan’s
secret wild card. This cradle of indigenous culture is the place to party after
harvest with music festivals and sweet millet wine. Or take advantage of this
rural county’s superb whale watching, stargazing and cycling.”  Please
note: Typhoon Nepartak has caused recent devastation; however Best
in Asia
 is a collection of great places for the next 12 months and
Taiwan has already begun the rebuilding efforts and will be welcoming
travellers again soon.
Visitors to www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-asia can
also enter a competition for the chance to win a trip for two to Lonely
Planet’s
 number-one Best in Asia 2016 destination, Hokkaidō,
Japan
, valued at AUD $10,000.”

Build the perfect family holiday: choose from these 6 LEGOLANDs (or do them all!)

If you’ve got kids, chances are you’ve also got
crates of Denmark’s most famous export, LEGO. In a classic case of
‘build it and they will come,’ this modest toy has built an empire. And
its theme parks are about to rake over the world. 

Empire building

LEGO is older than nearly all of its fans: the plastic brick was
invented in Billund, Denmark, in 1958. Fast-forward 56 years and there
are six LEGOLAND destinations across the globe: the Danish original, two
in the US, one in the quintessentially English town of Windsor,
Germany’s LEGOLAND Deutschland and the newest (and closest to Australia)
in Johor, Malaysia. The theme parks are designed for kids 2 to 12
years, and all have Duplo Gardens, with bigger bricks for smaller kids.

Try the original

Go back to where it all began. The first LEGOLAND opened in 1968,
just beside the first Lego factory. “My oldest boy wanted to go to
Lego’s heartland,” says Jacqui Davidson, who has taken her three active
boys, aged 12, nine and six, to the original LEGOLAND in Denmark, and
visited Malaysia’s LEGOLAND three times. “LEGO is more educational than
other theme parks,” she says. “The kids do building workshops, have
competitions and even robotics courses. It’s inspiring, and it’s not
just a boy thing.”

Eat, breathe and sleep LEGO

If too much LEGO is never enough, check the family into the LEGO
Hotel attached to your LEGOLAND destination of choice. The rooms have
either a pirate, kingdom or adventure theme.  “I would definitely
recommend LEGOLAND Billund Hotel,” says Jacqui. “There’s LEGO kitsch,
LEGO soap, LEGO shampoo, LEGO pillows, and the excellent, very
child-oriented buffet in the bistro.” The four-star Hotel LEGOLAND also
specialises in corporate teambuilding using LEGO (and let’s face it, if
you can’t team-build here, then where can you?!)

Water play

In Malaysia, Jacqui’s boys give the new Star Wars section a big
thumbs-up, while the grown-ups love Miniland (which reproduces Asia’s
top landmarks, such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and the golden temples of
Burma, in Lego). “Be prepared with water and umbrellas for shade,” she
adds. The best thing is its waterpark, she says. “If you’re in Malaysia
for more than 24 hours, you’ll need a swim.” With balmy temps also the
norm in California and Florida, both of the US theme parks conveniently
have fabulously fun waterparks.

Enter the dragon

In comparison, Bernie Jackson took his three kids, aged 10, eight and
four, to visit LEGOLAND Deutschland over two rainy days, which kept the
crowds at bay. “The kids loved it. The park was manageable enough for
the older kids to explore by themselves, and there was plenty to keep
the four-year-old in awe. The biggest hit was Captain Nick’s Splash
Battle, and while our youngest was a late-adopter on the Dragon Coaster,
he rode it until the park closed.”

What’s next?

2014 saw the launch of the Lego Movie, featuring the voices of
Hollywood greats including Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson, about an evil
tyrant’s plan to glue the LEGO universe together. There are also
another three LEGOLANDs in development, across Dubai, Japan and South
Korea.

But wait… There’s more!

Not even the 2015 Super Bowl could escape the Lego treatment. Enter the Brick Bowl
– the brainchild of British animation house A+C Studios. The
three-minute clip is a journey through nine of this year’s Super Bowl
ads edited together to make a story – and it took them an incredible 36
hours to create. Watch the video now and be amazed. Because everything is awesome.

This article by Belinda Jackson was published on Art of Money blog by GE Money.

The ever-growing travel list: lodges to love in Peru, Tanzania, and Brando in French Polynesia

I’ve confessed already to being a list tragic, and now I have yet another new travel list, thanks to National Geographic
Their new Unique Lodges of
the World collection has 24 good reasons to get out of town and head for the wilderness. 
I stayed in Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Paro, at the foot of the Tiger’s Nest  monastery in Bhutan, and it’s absolutely charming, with the most spectacular views from its windows, as you can see. Minimalists would have a hard time in this hotel, which is decorated in wildly colourful Bhutanese motifs, and built in amongst the rooms is a temple made from 450-year-old timbers from the Gangtey Monastery, and its resident monk. It’s also the country’s sole 100 percent locally owned five-star hotel.  
It’s also pleasing to note that Australia is punching well above its weight, with three beautiful properties on board. 

The full list of lodges is:
 

·      
Fogo Island Inn, Canada
·      
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa
·      
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Peru
·      
Kapari Natural Resort, Greece
·      
Kasbah du Toubkal, Morocco
·      
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
·      
Lizard Island, Australia
·      
Longitude 131°, Australia
·      
Mashpi Lodge, Ecuador
·      
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, Canada
·      
Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica
·      
Rosalie Bay Resort, Dominica
·      
Rubondo Island Camp, Tanzania
·      
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge, South Africa
·      
Sayari Camp, Tanzania
·      
Southern Ocean Lodge, Australia
·      
Sukau Rainforest Lodge, Malaysian Borneo
·      
The Brando, French Polynesia
·      
The Ranch at Rock Creek, Montana, United
States
·      
Three Camel Lodge, Mongolia
·      
Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile
·      
Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa, Chile
·      
Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
·      
Zhiwa Ling Hotel, Bhutan

For more
information about National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, visit www.nationalgeographiclodges.com.  

Traveller deals: Tasmanian retreat

We all want to be in Venice, specifically at the Belmond, yes we do. Purse strings a little tight? Then lovely Launceston will do, for some winter warmth. Take the kids to Japan, take them to the Queensland islands in this week’s international and domestic travel deals.

GO NOW

TASMANIA
Get cosy this winter in the heartland of the cold season,
Tasmania. Originally a corn mill dating back to the 1840s, the recently
refurbished Launceston hotel is offering a hot price to counteract the
cold nights, until August 31. From $99 a night. (03) 6335 6600, leisureinnpennyroyal.com.au.

ITALY


Luxuriate at Venice’s Belmond Hotel Cipriani. Save 20 per cent on its
suites and junior suites, with private balconies or gardens, and
vineyard, lagoon or pool views. For stays until November 8. From $1194 a
night. 1800 217 568, belmond.com.

The Majestic Malacca, Malaysia

GO SOON
MALAYSIA
Explore the UNESCO-listed city of Malacca during a midweek
stay at the Peranakan-style mansion, The Majestic Malacca. Includes
dinner in-house or a spa treatment. Normally from $370, B&B. From
$210 a room, a night, Sunday-Thursday. +800 9899 9999, ytlhotels.com.

NEW SOUTH WALES
Live it up at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa in Byron Bay.
Stay one night and get hot chocolate on the verandah, a bottle of wine
when dining in-house, a room upgrade, yoga and bike hire. Costs $299 a
room until September 14. 1300 554 362, thebyronatbyron.com.au.

GO LATER
MEXICO
Rev your Mexican cuisine up a notch from tortillas and tacos,
then learn how to shop for the meals and cook them on a 13-day foodie
tour from Mexico City to Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido and Acapulco. Departs
October 25. Costs $2144 a person, twin share, land only, quote “AUZ14D”.
1300 439 756, exploreworldwide.com.au.

QUEENSLAND
Explore the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest
and get a free night’s stay when you book three nights at the Hotel
Grand Chancellor Palm Cove. Book by July 31, travel until October 31.
From $150 a person, twin share. 138 833, sunloverholidays.com.au.

Mt Fuji, Japan

IMAGINATION WONDERLAND FOR KIDS
Let the kids indulge their wildest animation fantasies in
the imagination wonderland that is Japan. This 10-day family tour
includes two days at Tokyo Disneyland and a visit to the Universal
Studios theme park in Osaka. Then take it up a notch at the Ghibli
Museum, an animation studio in Tokyo; and explore scenic Hakone via
cable car, ropeway, boat or train; see Mount Fuji and take a dip in the
hot springs. From $2396 an adult, $1888 a child. 1300 365 355, travelindochina.com.au.


This travel deals column by Belinda Jackson is published in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper every Sunday.

Get going: trek to Tibet

The new Shangri-La, Tibet

 From Tibet to Canberra, we’ve got it all covered this weekend for the best travel deals around. Obviously, the theme is to get high: in the Adelaide Hills, the Blue Mountains or Peru’s Machu Picchu.

GO NOW
TIBET
Make the trek to the hotel everyone is talking about, the new
Shangri-La Lhasa, at 3650 metres above sea level, which opens on April
17. Its opening offer includes breakfast and dinner, mini-bar and 3pm
checkout, until June 30. From $498 a night. 1800 222 448, shangri-la.com.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Check in to the five-star Mount Lofty House MGallery, overlooking
Adelaide, and get a bottle of wine and country breakfast included with
midweek bookings (Sunday-Thursday) until September 26. From $169 a
night. 1300 132 799, lastminute.com.au/deals.

GO SOON
NEW SOUTH WALES
Celebrate autumn in the Blue Mountains at the premier
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa. Stay two nights midweek in a
suite with a private pool, all meals, two nature activities and $100 spa
credit, until June 30. From $1250 a person, two nights. (02) 9290 9733, wolganvalley.com.

MALAYSIA
Cook up a hot shopping trip in bargain-friendly Kuala Lumpur and stay
at the city’s newest hotel, Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar, for $90 a
night. Book by May 31 for stays in the chic suburb until September 30. pullmanhotels.com.

GO LATER
SOUTH AMERICA
Spend 20 days discovering the icons of South America in 2015,
from Peru’s Machu Picchu to Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer, and
your companion gets free flights from Australia. Book by September 30.
From $11,995 a person, twin share. 1300 723 642, scenictours.com.au.

VICTORIA
The Novotel St Kilda’s “wine and wind down” deal is back.
Book a non-bayview room from $209 a night and get six bottles of wine
worth $200. Includes car parking and breakfast. Until December 30. Quote
“wine and wind down”. (03) 9525 5522, novotelstkilda.com.au.

Tourwatch

Heli-safari on Fiji’s Sigatoka River

Hell-raising on a heli-safari

Fast and fabulous adrenaline-seekers have a new home in
southern Fiji. Take a 15-minute helicopter or 30-minute small plane
flight over tropical mountains and the Coral Coast then jet boat down
the river on a half-day Sigatoka River safari tour, visiting
traditional villages for a kava ceremony and lunch. Costs $365
(heli-jet boat combo), $535 (small plane-jet boat combo), see helitoursfiji.com.

Kids deal

Questacon, Canberra

Act up in the act

Discover a miniature village, experience an earthquake and
meet an elite athlete with the Canberra City YHA’s Family Fun
three-in-one package, which includes entry to Cockington Green,
Questacon and the Australian Institute of Sport. Save 15 per cent, from
$484 for two nights in a family en suite room until October 30, (02) 6248 9155, yha.com.au. YHA membership to more than 4000 hostels worldwide costs $32
adults, kids under 18 join free with a parent. Non-members pay 10 per
cent extra.

Deals: relaxation on a Malaysian vacation

Giraffe Manor, Kenya

Breakfast with well-mannered giraffes in Kenya, motor across the USA, sleep like a king in Malaysia… what’s your mood this week? 

On the home front, it’s freshwater lakes on Fraser Island, going remote up at the Kimberley’s Faraway Bay or exploring Kakadu in all its green glory.

GO NOW
MALAYSIA
Modelled on a 17th-century Malay palace, the recently
refreshed Tanjon Jara Resort is on Malaysia’s east coast. Normally from
$350 a night, costs from $276 including all meals until March 31,
minimum two nights. tanjongjararesort.com.
QUEENSLAND
Take a dip in pristine freshwater lakes or swim in the Coral
Sea on Fraser Island. Save $126 on a two-night stay at Eurong Beach
Resort, with vehicle barge transfers included (normally $106), until
April 17. From $310 for two nights, quote “summer days”. 1800 111 808, eurong.com.

GO SOON

Motor across the USA with Apollo motorhomes.

US
Motor in the US for up to 18 days for the cost of fuel only
in an Apollo Motorhome from March 31-April 5, May 6-9 and June 2-6. Pick
up from Forest City, Iowa, and relocate to four cities, including Las
Vegas and San Francisco. April travellers also get $US500 ($570) towards
fuel. 1800 777 779, apollorv.com.
SINGAPORE
Book two nights in a club room in the new Rendezvous Hotel
Singapore by March 16 and save 30 per cent. Included is the mini bar,
internet, airport lounge access, airport transfers and a city tour. From
$185 a night. stayfareast.com/launch30.

GO LATER
KENYA
Go on safari for five nights at Sala’s Camp, Sasaab or Solio
Lodge and get one night free at the Giraffe Manor, outside Nairobi. Book
by February 28, stay until December 15 (excluding June 1-October 31).
From $503 a person a night, +254 (020) 502 0888, thesafaricollection.com.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Stay at the Kimberley’s Faraway Bay and save 20 per cent with
a free night in Kununurra or Darwin until April 30. Book by February
28, from $3464 a person three nights, includes meals, tours and flights
ex-Kununurra. 0419 918 953, farawaybay.com.au.

Ancient Athens

Explore the archaeology and culture of Athens, from the
crowd-pleasing Acropolis and the Agorato to Marathon, the shrines of
mysterious cults and the isle of Aigina in the Saronic Gulf.
Promenade Plaka, the city’s Old Town. The walking tour, led
by two archaeologists, also explores the city’s best museums and its
top tables, and your five-star accommodation looks out to the Acropolis.
The tour runs June 1-8, 2014. Costs $4210 a person, twin share. See petersommer.com.

KIDS

Explore art caves, spot wildlife and
watch the sun set with the kids over a remarkable, remote slice of Australia. Kakadu
is glowing green right now, and kids under 12 stay and eat free at the Gagudju
Crocodile Hotel. Stay three, pay for just two nights and get half-price Yellow
Water cruises and other tour discounts until February 28. The hotel is 3.5
hours’ drive from Darwin on sealed roads and up to two kids can share their
parents’ room. Costs $300 a room, three nights, 1800 500 401, gagudju-dreaming.com.

 

This column by Belinda Jackson was published in Sydney’s 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.

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.

Pony ballet in Melbourne, private islands in Cambodia: travel deals

Song Saa island, Thailand

Pssst, life is full-on, sometimes deals don’t always fall on your desk when you planned. If you’re ready to go, and go now, check these little babies out!

GO NOW: MELBOURNE

Combine a night of horse ballet and a city stay with the
Cavalia show and Fraser Suites Melbourne until August 18. Get Gold tickets and
an overnight stay in a deluxe studio from $429 for two people, saving $60. 1800
800 488, frasershospitality.com.au.
GO SOONER: LORD
HOWE ISLAND
Keen birders and lovers of luxury take note: stay seven
nights at Capella Lodge and get free flights from Sydney and a free night until
September 30. From $3900 a person, seven nights. (02) 9918 4355,
capellalodge.com.au.
GO SOONER: CAMBODIA
Check in to Song Saa Private Island, in the Gulf of
Thailand, for four nights of sustainable luxury. Pay half price until September
30, from US$3298 (A$3637), double, all-inclusive for four nights in a jungle
villa. +855 236 860 360, songsaa.com.
KIDS
Let the kids run away to the circus, take over the kitchen
or create art from beach debris at Club Med Cherating, Malaysia. Save on stays until
September 1, from $1057 for adults, $614 for kids 4-11yrs, seven nights. 1300
855 052, clubmed.com.au.

This article was published in the Sun-Herald newspaper (Australia), Belinda Jackson

Loving Mungo and Malaysia: travel deals 3 March 2013

Tiptoe through the tulips, snap up a bargain stay in Malaysia or go mad for Mungo in our own wilderness, at the edge of the Outback. (Ok, so this column is up a little bit late, but you never know when a bargain will strike!)


NEW SOUTH WALES
Wring the last out of summer with a quickie getaway to the far northern NSW coast, for great fish & chips and quiet, sandy beaches, just 20 minutes south of the Gold Coast airport. Save 20 per cent on stays at Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, Kingscliff, and get buffet breakfast, in-room movies and internet access thrown in on stays until September 10. Costs from $564 for three nights in a one-bedroom spa suite. 1300 987 600, peppers.com.au.

NORTHERN TERRITORY
The time poor don’t have to miss out on the beauties of the Top End: the five-day Mysterious North journey whisks you around the crown jewels, including Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks to swim in waterfalls and view Aboriginal rock art galleries. There’s also a cruise down Katherine Gorge and glamping at Wildman Wilderness Lodge to round up a perfect week away from the office. Save $105 when you book six months before departure; tours depart between May 12 and October 20. Costs from $2075 a person, twin share. 1800 467 747, inspiringjourneys.com.au

The Terrace Hotel, Perth

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

With Chanel now open on Perth’s King St and photographs from New York’s Museum of Modern Art showing in the Art Gallery of Western Australia, our western cousin is a sophisticate, indeed. Add to the mix a new boutique hotel, situated on St Georges Terrace in Perth’s happening West End. The elegant buildings of the Terrace Hotel were built in 1892, and the 15-suite hotel starts at $505 a night. Book the ‘Weekend Warrior’ and they’ll add a cocktail and full breakfast for stays on Friday and Saturday nights until April 1. Costs from $495 a night, (08) 9214 4444, terracehotelperth.com.au.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The InterContinental Adelaide

Adelaide is celebrating all things
maritime with the arrival of the JMW Turner exhibition, Turner from the Tate,
showing until May 19. Book a Turner Art Package at the InterContinental
Adelaide and save $132. The offer includes one night’s accommodation, two
tickets to the exhibition, breakfast for two and 2pm check-out. The hotel,
which is a short walk from the Art Gallery of South Australia, can also arrange
VIP guided tours of the exhibition. 
Costs from $228 a night. 138 388, icadelaide.com.au

VICTORIA
On your bikes, girls, it’s time to explore the Victorian
High Country on a Girls Own Bicycle Adventure. Bring your own or hire one of
Snowy River Cycling’s mountain or hybrid bikes. The six-day tour starts and
finishes at Orbost, in East Gippsland, and covers up to 50km a day (depending
on terrain, weather and mood) staying in national park lodges and farmhouses.
Departs May 5 and includes a basic bike maintenance workshop and an op shop
frock night. Save 20 per cent, or $229, on bookings made by April 5. Costs
$1416 a person, twin share. 0428 556 088, snowyrivercycling.com.au.
The Baglionio, London
ENGLAND
An Italian hotel in London – how could you go wrong? And
it’s on sale too. Stay two nights for the price of one, making the Kensington
hotel, the Baglionio, an outrageous steal. There’s a two-night minimum, and the
offer is valid on deluxe rooms until April 1. Smith members also get a bottle
of prosecco into the deal as well: and it’s free to join. Costs from $462 for
two nights. 1300 896 627, mrandmrssmith.com.
MALAYSIA
Malaysia’s five-star hotels are fabulous, and fabulously
priced. The luxury Saujana Hotel in Kuala Lumpur includes an 18-hole championship
golf course and 260 hectares of tropical gardens. Snap up Malaysia Airlines
discount return flights and team up with a four-night stay at the Saujana. Book
by March 31 for travel until November 13, costs from $1057, or $753 flight
only.  directflights.com.au.
NETHERLANDS
A Dutch deal is hard to find, but the tulips are
plentiful on Outdoor Travel’s Bike & Barge tour through Holland in the
springtime. Highlights include the world’s biggest flower auction, happening Amsterdam,
Delft and a cheese farm in Gouda, as you bike in between cruising the serene
riverways on a 10-cabin craft. Non-cycling partners are welcome. Save up to
$300 per cabin on departures on April 7 and May 12 only. Costs from $1600 a
person, includes most meals and bike hire. 1800 331 582, outdoortravel.com.au.
CHINA
The best of China is on display over 21 days, from
Beijing to Hong Kong, with Xi’an, Shanghai and the Yangtze River in between.
The China in Depth tour is a hotpot of pandas, Sichuan cooking, Great Walls and limestone crags and
five-star accommodation includes the new Westin Xia and Fairmont Beijing.
Partners fly free from Australia on bookings made by March 31. Costs from
$10,420 a person, twin share.  1300
723 642, scenictours.com.au
JAPAN
Japan just got even cheaper, thanks to a strong Aussie dollar and 15 per cent off World Expeditions’ Japan trips, including its Family Explorer. There are bullet trains, geishas, wasabi farms and fish markets, folk villages and the neon madness of Tokyo on this 12-day trip. The discount applies on bookings made before March 31 for departures July 1 to December 31. Costs from $4,390 a person, twin share. $3746 for kids 6-11 years. 1300 720 000, worldexpeditions.com.

TOURWATCH Mungo
National Park
“I think Aussies are really interested in Mungo National
Park,” says Janine Duffy of Echidna Tours. “It’s like a cathedral of our
history, but we can’t quite understand it.” The ancient landscape of Mungo is
near the meeting place of the Murray and the Darling rivers, in far western
NSW: think out Broken Hill and Mildura way. The Mungo Outback Journey is a
private journey with guides from the local Paakantyi Tribe who spend three days
showing you the beauty of the desert, from brilliant parrots and fairy wrens to
extinct marsupials, and the
remnants of 50,000 years of Aboriginal history. Fly in to Mildura to pick up
the private three-day tour, staying at the pretty river town of Wentworth. Runs
from March to November. Costs from $1350 a person, (03) 9646 8249, echidnawalkabout.com.au.