Hilton Manila hotel review

Hilton Manila

Manila’s traffic is so bad a whole city of airport hotels has sprung up to service airline passengers coming into the city on their way to and from the Philippines’ fabulous islands. Newport City includes a Marriott and a Savoy, convenience stores and coffee shops, casinos and shopping malls, and now the city’s only Hilton, which opened in October 2018.
It’s the end of a tropical holiday, so of the five dining venues, it must be the swim-up bar for a lunch of mango mai tais, hot fresh pizza with buffalo mozzarella and fresh fish fingers for the small fry. Service is super-chatty and super-friendly, though not speedy, as the hotel is still polishing its act. Madison Bar & Lounge near the entrance is easy to overlook but chocophiles note: its patisserie serves excellent chocolate croissants. There’s also a well-stocked gin bar with knowledgeable staff and a jazz singer who croons into the wee hours.

Click here to read the full review, which was first published in the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.

Cruise Antarctica, shed light on the Philippines or find feathered friends: Takeoff travel news

CRUISE: Ship in Antarctica




Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten has turned its eyes from its Arctic homeland to Antarctica, doubling
its capacity to become the largest provider of explorer travel in the
deep south. Currently, its small expedition ship MS Fram sails from
Ushuaia, Argentina, but in 2016/17 it will be joined by sister ship MS
Midnatsol. Carrying 500 passengers, the larger Midnatsol will start and
end its journeys in Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia, and will include
an interactive science lab and tailored children’s programs. Next
season, MS Fram will carry just 200 guests, seeking new locations and
extreme nature experiences such as camping among penguins and kayaking
in seal and whale habitats. More than 36,000 people visited Antarctica
in 2014-2015, the British base at Port Lockroy (and its famous post
office) receiving more than 10,000 visitors. Australians make up the
second-largest nationality of visitors to Antarctica after US citizens.
Journeys on the MS Midnatsol are 18 days. See
hurtigruten.com. 


GEAR: Shine a light on poverty

Help light the lives of those living
on less than a dollar a day when you buy a new Mandarin 2 solar light.
Australian manufacturer Illumination will donate one solar light to a
family

in poverty for every light sold. The
social enterprise company says a billion people don’t have access to
electricity, instead using kerosene lamps to work and study by.

“Buying fuel for a kerosene lamp can
take a third of their income, the kerosene fumes are toxic and
polluting, and the lanterns often start fires,” says inventor and
economist Shane Thatcher, whose BOGO (buy one, give one) offer gives
safe, clean, free light to Filipino families, in conjunction with
Kadasig Aid and Development (kadasigaid.com.au 
). 

Ideal for travellers going off the
beaten track, the pocket-sized Mandarin 2 weighs 160g, lasts up to 16
hours on a single charge and can be hung or stands as a table lamp.
Costs $25. 
See illumination.solar.
 


TECH: Daydreaming? Do it!

Sleep hanging from a tree in a
suspended tent, snooze in a Swedish silver mine or doss in a pop-up
hotel in a former prison. The new

Crooked Compass travel app lists
more than 1000 unusual experiences across 134 countries, with maps,
booking info and your own bucket-list creator. Developed by avid
Australian traveller Lisa Pagotto, it also hooks up to Facebook and
Twitter for instabrag capabilities and its ‘‘Experience of the Day’’ is a
wild card that may set you on the path to underwater photography
classes in Guam or horse-riding in Mongolia. The Crooked Compass app is
available for iPhone and Android platforms, free. See
crooked-compass.com.
 


FOOD: Cocktails at the ready

London is enjoying a torrid affair
with prebottled cocktails, in the swankiest possible way. For those of
us on the paying side of the bar, that means less construction noise
from blenders, a consistent drink and shorter waits. Leading the pre-mix
cocktail charge is London light Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, whose
third bar, Dandelyan, is in the Tom Dixon-designed Mondrian London (morganshotelgroup.com). In a stroke of genius, his little gems also appear in the hotel
rooms’ minibars – did someone say, ‘‘Martinis in bed’’? Other
bottled-cocktail bars to try while you’re in town include Grown-Ups,
which pairs World of Zing’s bottled cocktails and gelato in Greenwich (black-vanilla.com), and The London Cocktail Club in Shaftesbury Ave
(londoncocktailclub.co.uk). Otherwise, check yourself in to Artesian at
The Langham, three times named Drinks International’s world’s best bar.
Artesian launches its new cocktail list on July 2. The theme?
Surrealism. See artesian-bar.co.uk. 


KIDS: Bunker down with feathered friends

Warning: cute alert. Get down at eye
level with Phillip Island’s most famous residents, its Little Penguins,
in a new underground bunker that opens in mid-November. The tiny penguins stand about 30cm fully grown, and you’ll be able to eyeball them

one-way glass – as they come ashore at sunset after a hard day’s fishing. There’s also new above-ground
seating for 400 people being built into the dunes as part of a
five-year, $1 million investment by RACV into the not-for-profit Phillip
Island Nature

Parks. More than 600,000 people
visited the eco-tourism venture last year, with profits invested back
into conservation, research and education. The close-up Penguin Plus area won’t
be available during the construction period, so with fewer seats
available, visitors should pre-purchase tickets,

especially during school holidays.
The Penguin Parade is 90 minutes from Melbourne. General tickets cost
from $25.40 adults, $12.25 children 4-12 years, and $61.25 families. See

penguins.org.au.
 

AIRLINES: Leave your heart in San Francisco

Skip Los Angeles and head directly
for the Golden Gate city as Qantas brings back direct flights between
Sydney and San Francisco from December 20. The airline cut the route in May
2011, opting instead to fly to its hub at Dallas, Texas. Qantas says the
direct flights will be welcomed by Silicon Valley’s corporate
customers, but San Fran is also beloved by Australian holidaymakers.
Around 20 per cent of the 1.2 million Australians to visit the US pop in
to San Francisco, which

is our fifth most popular city after Honolulu, New York, LA and Vegas. Qantas will fly Boeing 747s to San
Fran six times a week, with lie-flat beds in business and a premium
economy section. The flight is estimated at around 14 hours, and goes
head-to-head with United Airlines’ daily flight. Meanwhile, Qantas’
partner and oneworld friend American Airlines will pick up an LASydney
route from December 17. See
qantas.com,
aa.com,
visitcalifornia.com.

 

The Takeoff travel news column by Belinda Jackson is published every Sunday in Sydney’s Sun-Herald newspaper’s Traveller section.  

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.

Ultimate downers: ultimate travel experiences

The world’s most polluted city? Delhi, India.
Photo: Belinda Jackson.

Hi, travel stats lovers, as an addendum to the previous story on ultimate travel experiences, ‘Boasters with the Mostest, here’s five travel downers, from worst airline to most dangerous city.

1.      
Worst
airline
: Scat (Kazakhstan), Kam Air
(Afghanistan), Agni Air, Buddha Air and Tara Air (all Nepal) and Bluewing
Airlines (Suriname) (airlineratings.com)
2.      
Worst airport: Dilapidation and poor customer
service makes Manila airport the world’s worst, say travellers (sleepinginairports.net)
3.      
Most
polluted city
: New Delhi bounced Beijing down to second place as the most
polluted major city in 2013, says India’s Center for Science and Environment (cseindia.org)  
4.      
Most
expensive city
: Singapore has pushed Tokyo off the throne as the priciest
town. Sydney came in fifth, and Mumbai the cheapest in the 131 cities surveyed
by the Economic Intelligence Unit (eiu.com).
5.       Most dangerous city: San
Pedro Sula, Honduras, wins this award for the second year running, with 187
homicides per 100,000 capita in 2013, says Mexican thinktank the
CitizensCouncil for
Public
Security and Criminal Justice. 


This article by Belinda Jackson was published in the Sydney Morning Herald 
and The Age newspapers. 


The new world order: Myanmar and Sri Lanka our must-do destinations

Stilt fishermen in Sri Lanka. Photo: Alamy
Myanmar and Sri Lanka top the list of must-do destinations,
industry experts agree. 
CHRIS ZEIHER
Lonely Planet
My pick for 2014 is Riga, the art nouveau jewel of the
Baltics. The Latvian capital is a twin to Prague, minus the fleets of tour
buses and crowds, and is the 2014 European Capital of Culture.Next year is all
about indulgence for me: I’ll be travelling to stunning Waiheke Island off
Auckland to celebrate my birthday.
DAVE BOYTE
Skyscanner.net
Brazil will be in the limelight, thanks to the football World
Cup. We’ve seen increased interest in Myanmar and Cambodia and Sri Lanka is a
rising star: visit the fort town of Galle. Mount Kinabalu (4095 metres) is the
highest mountain between the Himalayas and New Guinea: let’s see if I am up for
it.
SUJATA RAMAN AND GEOFFREY KENT
Abercrombie & Kent
Sri Lanka is still remarkably unspoiled, with ancient cities,
tea plantations and hill stations vying for attention alongside amazing
wildlife, temples and golden beaches, while Myanmar is a truly spiritual
destination. In 2014, you will be able to travel along the Ayeyarwady River on
the boutique river cruiser, Sanctuary Ananda, through stunning landscapes.
JAMES THORNTON
Intrepid Travel Group
Myanmar is Asia’s hottest new destination: get even further
off the beaten track and set sail around the 800 islands of the blissful Myeik
Archipelago. Sri Lanka is rising in popularity, and with all eyes on South
America for the World Cup, my tip is to escape the crowds in Colombia.
Outdoor dining in Istanbul. Photo: Getty Images
SALLY GODFREY
Homeaway Holiday Rentals
Internationally, Dubai, Istanbul, Phuket, Kyoto and Tel Aviv
are receiving strong booking inquiries for 2014, while domestic mainstays are
Gold Coast, Byron Bay and Sydney. Rising stars include Seminyak, Boracay and
Goa and the holiday rental market is becoming more popular in South-East Asia.
I will be hitting the slopes of Queenstown, sunning on a Bali beach and catching
some weekend respite on Phillip Island.
ROWENA FITZGERALD
Mr and Mrs Smith
Lanterns in Kyoto. Photo: Getty Images
People are looking for accommodation that offers an authentic
connection to the destination, such as smaller, locally owned boutique hotels
like Brody House in Budapest or Claska in Tokyo. We’re seeing a surge in
interest in Japan, prompted by its distinctive pop culture and increased
flights. I’m going to Costa Rica and Belize for their beautiful beaches,
incredible diving, and unspoilt rainforest. I hope to stay at six-suite hotel Kura.
RICHARD MOLE
Byroads Tours
Sri Lanka is safe, easy to get to and great value, has an
excellent range of accommodation and offers both beaches and culture. In many
respects, it’s the new Bali. Myanmar is another one on my list. It still lacks
beds, so prices are unreasonably high, but it’s seen as Asia’s last frontier.
Cuba is in the same category – go before it changes forever! My left-field
prediction is Iran. The new government is clearly trying to build bridges with
the West.
THE LEGGY LOVELIES
Luxecityguides.com
Why sprint madly through an overcrowded airport when you can
transfer leisurely and luxuriously via riverboat? We like Heritage Line’s
(heritage-line.com) vintage-inspired fleet for South-East Asian jaunts. For gastro-travel, Copenhagen, Lima, Bangkok and Tokyo are
emerging as envelope-pushing culinary destinations. Pack your elastic-waist slacks! There’s very good bang for
your buck. Quaint boutique hotels and delicious street foods keep it cheap,
cheery and culture-savvy. South America is booming but we also intend to escape the
crowds in Mongolia and Myanmar.
 

The delights of Noma in Copenhagen. Photo: NY Times
SIMON McGRATH
Accor Hotels
After slowing in 2012-13, Bali is becoming popular again for
Australians. Our top picks are Sydney for its great 2014 events line-up,
Tropical North Queensland for beach and adventure travel and Adelaide, just
named in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 roundup, with a focus on culture
and the arts. With an increase in low-cost airlines flying into Adelaide and
Cairns, accessibility has never been easier. I’m heading to Terrigal, NSW,
close to home, for a great Australian beach holiday.

Compiled by Belinda Jackson for the Sydney Morning Herald/The Age newspapers

Living London style, Bali’s newest digs and sweet Manila: travel deals September 22, 2013

It’s time to up sticks, quick-sticks, to London, and surely one of the loveliest rooms is the reception at The Levin, my favourite photo of the week.


Otherwise, go tropical with a getaway in mad Manila – home of the shoe – check out a new resort in Bali or disappear just over the hills to the Blue Mountains and one of Australia’s most luxurious addresses, Wolgan Valley.

Go later: London
Stay in the heart of Knightsbridge, near Harrods and Harvey
Nicks, and get airport transfers and afternoon tea, worth $350, at the boutique
Levin Hotel. Its three-night Dollar Package costs from $1590 until end May
2014. +44 20 7589 6286, thelevinhotel.co.uk

Go now: Bali
The new U Paasha resort in Seminyak is offering two free
nights, breakfast, transfers and either wellness or watersports activities when
you stay eight nights in a suite, until December 20. From $590 a person. 1800
883 887,travelonline.com.

Go sooner: NSW

Save $500 a couple on a Spring Indulgence at the five-star
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in the Blue Mountains. Includes
a regional picnic hamper and all meals and drinks, and midweek stays also get
$100 spa credit. Until December 19. From $1450 a person, two nights. (02) 9290 9733, wolganvalley.com.
Kids: sweet deal in Manila
Divert the kids with a Filipino cooking school at the
Peninsula Manila while you soak up the city’s fabulous shopping. Kids can whip
up the classic dessert halo-halo or tackle a taka, a papier-mâché
masterpiece. Small guests also eat free and stay half-price in an adjoining
room until December 31, from $393 for two connecting rooms. 1800 116 888,
peninsula.com
Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun-Herald newspaper

A material whirl: eight great shopping cities

Gorgeously photogenic babouches, leather slippers
from Marrakech, Morocco

Belinda Jackson lists eight favourite destinations at which to arrive
with empty bags. 

Busted your luggage allowance lugging home a treasure only to find it in
your local ‘hood? The best shopping is a rejection of globalisation: it’s about
going back to the source or finding something that only that city or country
can provide.

LONDON

Basking in a design
renaissance, London’s smoking-hot fashion and design is being peddled by a
James Bond (Daniel Craig), a welter of celebrated sportsmen and the new baby
Windsor.
Locals love Stylist and personal shopper Rachel Meddowes says London’s
hottest strip is Chiltern Street, in Marylebone, W1. “It’s a return to a
coterie of small, chic, beautifully designed and curated shops including
fabulous Tyler Brule’s the Monocle Cafe, Cire Trudon for the best candles,
uber-cool men’s boutique Trunk, and Atlas Gallery, for its photographs. If I
had to say one shop, it would be Mouki (mouki-london.com)
for its stylish, insider brands of women’s fashion and lifestyle.”
Must-visit Selfridges is home to the world’s largest women’s and
men’s shoe departments. Its new Denim Studio includes a free denim doctor to
help women find their perfect pair of jeans from 60 brands. The Conran Shop
(including the newly refurbished Marylebone store, conranshop.co.uk) and Liberty (liberty.co.uk) are design stalwarts.
Local hero For a catch-all day of browsing, use the cobbled Seven
Dials, north of Covent Garden, as your compass point and branch out (sevendialsco.uk). Check out Cambridge
Satchel Company (cambridgesatchel.com),
Sienna Miller’s Twenty8Twelve (twenty8twelve.com)
or, for a village vibe, Neal’s Yard.
Wild card The flagship Burberry Bespoke (burberry.com) has more than 100 screens
flashing your customised trench on the catwalk or in a movie, in-between
sporadic digital thunderstorms.
STOCKHOLM
The bellwether of
ice-cool design, you can’t visit Stockholm without admiring the masters’ design
ethic.
Locals love “To get to the heart of modern Stockholm, head over
to SoFo – South of Folkungagatan Street (sofo-stockholm.se)
– with a profusion of fashion and interior designers with antique and vintage
clothing shops, trendy bars and restaurants,” says Birgitta Palmer, of the
Stockholm Visitors Board.
Must-visit Get your head into Swedish living space at Svenskt Tenn (svenskttenn.se), your stationery fix at
Ordning&Reda (ordning-reda.com)
and gifts at DesignTorget (designtorget.se).
Local hero Cruise Acne Studios’ flagship store and V Ave Shoe Repair
for the ultimate in Swedish fashion (acnestudios.com;
vave-shoerepair.com). Every
self-respecting Swedish child wears Polarn O. Pyret, designer of unisex,
hard-wearing children’s clothes (polarnopyret.com).
And who can say no to Bjorn Borg-designed knickers (bjornborg.com)?
Wild card Uncover the next big thing or total trash at the weekend
market Street, in Sodermalm. A tip from Sean Naughton, concierge at Benny
Andersson’s Hotel Rival (www.rival.se): if
you can’t afford the heavyweight fashion names of Bibliotekstan, score
discounted fashion at Barkaby outlet centre (qualityoutlet.com/in-english).
BANGKOK
Tap into the Thai
design aesthetic – it’s cheeky and cute, and if you don’t leave Bangkok with a
bag full of silk, you’re just not trying.
Locals love “Post-Nerd [Siam Square] is a favourite for cool
T-shirts with unusual designs,” says Bangkok resident Mark Thomson, of
Anantara hotels. “Also Propaganda, which is home to Mr P, who appears in
anatomically correct cartoon lamps and other … products.” (propagandaonline.com).
Must-visit Siam Discovery, in the cluster of Siam Square malls, has
been recently made-over with an edgy open plan; several floors are given over
to Thailand’s fashion designers. It’s also the home of Madame Tussauds Bangkok.
The massive Chatuchak market is in every guidebook, allegedly the world’s
largest weekend market. Grab a map at the entrance before you dive in (chatuchak.org).
Local hero A perennial favourite is FotoFile, for fantastic new and
second-hand camera gear in the beloved, budget-easy MBK mall. Unlike the rest
of MBK, prices are fixed and labelled.
Wild card Take home the scent of a Thai spa with success story
Thann, whose lush products feature Asian ingredients: think jasmine blossom,
tamarind, rice-bran oil and nutmeg. Find them in all the major malls and a new
Thann cafe at level 3, Gaysorn Plaza.
MANILA
The Philippines has a
special flair that makes it an interior design powerhouse and, of course, shoes
are a hot item.
Locals love Bespoke menswear and womenswear designer Joey Samson loves
three homewares stores. A11 comprises three townhouses that are a furniture and
design gallery (F.B. Harrison Street, Pasay). AC+632 stocks Gallic homewares
with a Philippines twist, including excellent tassels (Greenbelt 5, Makati),
while W17 is a celebration of Asian interiors using local materials (w17home.com).
Must-visit Cram your bags with South Sea pearls in all shapes and
sizes, from just a few dollars each (Greenhills market, San Juan). For upmarket
indigenous design visit revered jeweller Arnel Papa, whose materials may
include buffalo horn and ebony wood (Greenbelt 5, Makati).
Local hero Alice Blue soy candles capture the scent of sampaguita,
the Philippines’ national flower (Glorietta 3, Makati), while the omnipresent
SM (which stands for Shoemart) fits any tastepoint, from ballet flats to
nightclub dagger heels, at great prices (sm-shoemart.com).
Wild card Score a pre-loved, genuine-label handbag from Bagaholic.
Expect Chanel and Gucci with serial numbers if you can bear to carry last
year’s hottest tote (Almeda Arcade Building, Makati, bagaholic.com.ph).
DELHI
For breathtaking
colour and exotic motifs Indian shopping is in a league of its own, from haute
couture to Hindi kitsch.
Locals love Fiona Caulfield, author of India’s definitive shopping
guides including Love Delhi, tips three hot locales: Meharchand Market, Khan
Market and ShapurJat of Hauz Khas. “Snigdha Shekhar has created one of the
best interior and lifestyle stores in Delhi at Artisan Luxe,” she says.
(Meherchand Market, Lodhi Road.)
Must-visit Shop for
contemporary homewares at Khan Market’s Good Earth then take a break in its
excellent rooftop cafe, Latitude 28 (goodearth.in).
Local hero Bring India’s eye-popping colour home with beautiful
textiles: hunt down your wallet-friendly Indian wardrobe of cotton kurtas (long
shirts) and salwars (trousers) in Fabindia (Khan Market) or Anokhi (www.anokhi.com). Stay ahead of the pack at
Alecca Carrano’s Drawing Room for shawls and wraps (aleccacarrano.com).
Wild card “Run by the Crafts Council of India, Kamala is the
new face of craft in India. This beautifully curated collection is sourced
directly from artisans,” Caulfield says. “Superb shopping!” (craftscouncilofindia.org.)

BUENOS AIRES
Though dubbed
“the Paris of the Pampas”, the city maintains its own colourful
character, and those pampas turn out some mighty fine leather to boot. Or rug.
Or bag.
Locals love “Buenos Aires’ hottest spot to shop is jewellery
atelier Celedonio [Uraguay 1223, Recoleta],” trend hunter Lucia Radeljak
says. “Celedonio Lohidoy’s signature pieces are baroque necklaces with
precious stones and pearls. He has collaborated with international fashion
houses Kenzo and Ungaro, and his store is worth visiting for its garden
alone.”
Must-visit Hunters of antiques and atmosphere head to San Telmo
antique fair to scour old vinyls and snap up such must-haves as cobblers’ lasts
and local jewellery (Sundays, Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo).
Local hero The best cowhide rugs are Argentine: try Calma Chicha (calmachicha.com). Too heavy? Beautiful
leather bags are found at tiny Humawaca (humawaca.com).
Wild card Hit Av Suipacha, aka “sweater street”, and shop
for the lightest cashmere or pick up a pair of hand-made tango shoes on Av
Esmerelda, which runs parallel.
MARRAKESH
Breathe deeply and steel
yourself for a shopping extravaganza. Don’t rush at the first shop off the main
square, Djemma el-Fna. You’ll regret it.
Locals love Akbar Delights is pricey, but the fine embroidery and
detailed clothing are well worth it, says Marrakesh-based artist Dawn
Boys-Stone. Warda la Mouche (127 Rue Kennaria) is great for women’s and
children’s clothes in traditional Moroccan style with modern fabrics.
Must-visit Shoe lovers know that Atika crafts hand-made leather shoes
in classical Occidental styles (34 Rue de la Liberte, Gueliz).
Local hero Marrakesh’s antiques scene is fantastic. Try Mustapha
Blaoui (142-4 Rue Bab Doukkala).
Wild card Love leather? Go the ornate local leather slippers,
babouches, found on most street corners, in traditional yellow or every shade
of the rainbow.
JAKARTA
So close to us,
Jakarta remains a mystery for most. Persevere: it throws up seriously desirable
oddities, and its midnight mall sales are legendary.
Locals love “Otoko is a hidden gem of a boutique amongst all the
big malls in Jakarta,” says Susanna Perini, of Biasa.
“It stocks menswear only and presents a unique experience when you visit.
The store has great synergy … a sense of ‘quiet luxury’ with a sleek and
contemporary design.”
Must-visit Locals adore Jakarta’s malls and are serious international
label devotees, though even the biggies, such as Grand Indonesia (grand-indonesia.com), have Indonesian
Fashion Avenues for local designers. Geeks on a budget make for Ambassador
Mall.
Local hero The Bali-based Biasa label (biasabali.com)
serves up soft, deconstructed men’s and women’s fashion on Jalan Kemang,
Jakarta’s boutique strip, where you’ll also find local designers.
Wild card Visit the colourful bird market (Pasar Pramuka) and the
nearby antique market (Pasar Surabaya); you totally need that old map, stuffed
animal and brass betel nut-cracker.

Balinese food adventure, drink in the Napa Valley, hit St Kilda: travel deals June 9 2013

Go on a Balinese seafood adventure, drink it in the Napa Valley or hit St Kilda, flashpacker style in this week’s international and domestic deals.

NSW
Learn to love the snowflake
at the annual Hunter Valley Gardens ‘‘Snow Time in the Garden’’, main
picture, which runs through the winter school holidays. The festival
features ice skating, snow tubing and snowball challenges, and there’s
always wine tasting at the nearby cellar doors if you want to grow up.
Families of up to two adults and two children can stay at the nearby
Mercure Resort Hunter Valley Gardens during the festival and get tickets
to the festival’s evening Snow Time. Kids under 12 also eat breakfast
and dinner free. The festival runs from June29 to July 14. Costs from
$209 a room. (02) 4998 2000, mercurehuntervalley.com.au.

VICTORIA
Beachfront
St Kilda is the hangout for Melbourne’s beautiful people, as well as
European cafe devotees, live music lovers and flashpackers staying at
Australia’s top hostel. Stay two nights in a private room at Base
Backpackers Melbourne, just off the beach, and get one free Great Ocean
Road day trip worth $125, a welcome drink and breakfast daily, between
June 1 and August 31. Costs from $240 a room, two nights. (03) 8598 6200,
stayatbase.com.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The
Perth hotel scene is on fire with another new opening, this time a
five-star, all-suite apartment hotel overlooking the Swan River in the
CBD. The Fraser Suites Perth, pictured above left, has 236 apartments,
from studios to two-bedroom premier apartments that can be
interconnected, with kitchens, as well as a heated pool, sauna, bar and
restaurant, and 24-hour gym. Studios will cost from $420 a night, but
snap up an opening special with free wi-fi until August 30. Costs from
$245 a night (studio). 1800 099 465, perth.frasershospitality.com.

CENTRAL AUSTRALIA
Delay
the onset of winter and head to Australia’s hot heart: Intrepid
Travel’s four-day Central Explorer departs Alice Springs for the classic
desert sights of Uluru, Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and the sandstone walls
of Kings Canyon. You’ll get a guided tour of local rock art by the
Western Aranda people at Wallace Rockhole and the last day is spent
exploring the western MacDonnell Ranges before returning to Alice
Springs. Book by June 28 for travel until June30 and save 25per cent.
Costs $776 a person. 1300 018 871, intrepidtravel .com/australia-sale.

QUEENSLAND
Hit
the road with a trip from Cairns to …  wherever the dart hits the
map. Hire a Travellers Autobarn campervan for at least  10 days and save
20per cent. The fully-fitted vans include cooking equipment and
sleeping bags and can be returned to any mainland capital excluding
Adelaide. Book by June30 for travel August1-September 30, quote code
‘‘SUNH’’. Excludes insurance and any one-way fees. Costs from $437 for a
two-berth campervan for 10 days, travellers-autobarn.com.au.

PHILIPPINES
One
of the truly great shopping destinations, Manila’s must-buys include
pearls, fashion and shoes (surprise!). The 538-room Dusit Thani Manila
is in the thick of it all, in Makati City. The “Just for two” deal
celebrates lovers with one night’s accommodation and lays on the
strawberries and pralines, rose petals in the bath, a couples’ massage
and dinner for two. Available until December 31. Normally $458 a night,
costs from $320. +63 (2) 238 8888, dusit.com.

INDONESIA
Bali’s
far eastern coast is so quiet, it makes Ubud look like a concrete
jungle. Stay three nights at the homegrown Design Hotel Alila Manggis
and get a complimentary culinary experience for two: it could be a
Balinese cuisine and market tour with the chef, or a seafood adventure
on a fishing boat where you cook the catch. There’s also an organic
garden cooking program and a junior chef experience. Valid until
September 30. Costs from $510, three nights. +62 363 410 11, alilahotels.com/manggis.

UNITED STATES
Take
time out like a local with a dip in the natural underground hot springs
and a glass of Napa Valley wine at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. An
hour north of San Francisco and 30 minutes from Napa, the iconic hotel’s
spa is one of the country’s best, and there’s also a Michelin-star
restaurant and championship golf course on site. Stay four nights and
pay for only three until August 30. Costs from $1077, virtuoso.com.au.

NORWAY
Spot
killer whales, visit fishing villages and admire Norway’s mountains on
this five-day, self-drive tour of Tromso and the Lofoten Islands,
pictured. The tour includes four nights’ bed and breakfast, car hire,
ferry tickets and return flights from Oslo to Tromso. Save 10 per cent
when you book by June 30 for travel until September 30. Costs from $1604
a person. 1800 221 712, bentours.com.au.

SOUTH AFRICA
Flowers
and the Big Five go hand in hand in South Africa in August. The 14-day
Wildflowers and Wildlife tour travels from Cape Town to Johannesburg,
guided by botanical artist Jenny Phillips, who’ll help you capture your
botanical safari on paper. Book by July 31 and save up to $1000 a couple
while solo travellers save $1867. Tour departs August 25. Costs from
$8395 a person, twin share, or $10,763 for solo travellers. 1300 336
932, botanica.travel.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

Bathrobes and pearls: travel deals, 5 August 2012

Crown Metropol, Melbourne

Souveniring bathrobes, cruising with Agatha Christie or shopping South Sea pearls in Manila, read on for this week’s domestic and international travel deals: 





NSW

It may be chilly but Sydney’s event’s scene is hotting up
in August, with the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival (August 21-25) or, if lycra
is more your scene, the City 2 Surf (August 12). The four-star Metro Hotel on
Pitt’s winter special includes one night’s accommodation for two in a superior
deluxe queen room, dinner at its restaurant, a bottle of wine and midday check-out
on stays until August 31. Costs $199 a room, 1800 004 321, metrohotels.com.au.

VICTORIA
You don’t have to try to smuggle the plush bathrobes out
of Melbourne’s sleek Crown Metropol: the hotel is giving you two robes to
celebrate winter. They’ll also include an in-room movie, valet parking and breakfast
at its newest restaurant, Mr Hive, when you book a one of its Luxe King rooms
until September 2.  While rooms normally start
from $310 a night, the winter package, with dinner and robes, costs from $395 a
room a night, 03 9292 6211, crownmelbourne.com.au. 

Karijini Eco Retreat, Western Australia
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
If you love camping but can’t convince the other half of
its joys, start with baby steps, in a deluxe eco tent at Karijini Eco Retreat,
in the Karijini National Park, in the Pilbara. The tents have their own
bathroom, decks, king-sized beds and linen (no sleeping bags!) yet are designed
to be ecologically sustainable, using solar power and recycling water. 
Book before August 30, stay two nights between September 1-30 and get a free
whale watching cruise for two. Costs from $323 a night, 1800 002 333,
quickbeds.com.

QUEENSLAND
The Gold
Coast’s glistening foreshore is lined with walking tracks and bike paths which
is just as well, as a rash of great, new restaurants has recently opened around
Surfers Paradise. The family-friendly Mantra Crown Towers is 100 meters from
the beach and is knocking 20 percent off three-night stays in its one-bedroom
apartments. Facilities include a lagoon pool, waterslides, kids’ playground,
spa and sauna. Stay before October 7, costs from $453 a room for three nights,
131
517, mantra.com.au.

TASMANIA

One of the country’s top lodges, Saffire Freycinet, on the Freycinet
peninsula, comprises just 20 beautiful suites looking out to the Hazards
Mountains. Book a deluxe suite for four nights, pay for three and get all meals
and dinner drinks, activities including guided walks, fishing,  golf, wine
tasting, canoeing, cooking demos and learn to mix the perfect cocktail. 
The deal also includes $100 to spend in the spa. Costs $5400 a suite, 1800 723
347, saffire-freycinet.com.au.
CENTRAL AUSTRALIA
Larapinta Trail, Central Australia

The Larapinta Trail runs 223 kilometres from Alice
Springs across the Western MacDonnell National Park toward Mt Zeil. The area has
recently been handed back to its traditional Aboriginal owners and World
Expeditions is celebrating by letting you take your best mate free, with a
two-for-one deal on its three-day Larapinta Experience. Single travellers will
get 25 percent off. Travel between August 31 – September 21. Costs $995 for two
people, or $750 for single travellers, 1300 720 000, worldexpeditions.com.au.

EGYPT

Celebrate Agatha Christie’s birthday on her beloved Nile
River, with a two-in-one deal and a copy of ‘Death on the Nile’ in hand. The
12-day tour includes seven days cruising the Nile on a luxury small ship, and
afternoon tea on the terrace of the Sofitel Legend Old Cataract, where she
stayed while penning the book. Costs $7,100 for the first person and their
companion travels free. Singles pay half price, costs $5170, 1300 851 800, abercrombiekent.com.au.

THAILAND
Vijitt resort, Patong, Thailand

Set on the white-sand Friendship Beach in Phuket, 30
minutes from Patong, get three nights free when you book seven nights at the
five-star Vijitt Resort. The deal includes an hour-long massage for two and
buffet breakfast daily. Book before August 31 and get a free upgrade to a pool
villa. Normally $1770 a villa, costs $900 for seven nights on stays until October
31, 1300 305 870,
islandescapes.com.au
.

CAMBODIA

The Angkor Wat temple complex is Cambodia’s biggest drawcard
and the world’s largest Hindu site. Stay four nights at the 4.5-star Angkor Century Resort & Spa,
just 15 minutes from the massive complex, and get a free private full-day tour
of Angkor Wat. Book until 3pm September 21, travel until September 30. Costs
from $199 a person for four nights, twin share, 1300 130 485, travel.com.au. 

PHILIPPINES
Manila’s
shopping has to be experienced to be believed: South Sea pearls, awesome
handbags and a shoe scene that puts all other countries to shame. Stay three
nights in the thick of it at the five-star Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila and
pay for only two nights. Book by August 30, stay by September 30. Costs from
$431 a room for three nights, 1300 888 180, zuji.com.au.

FRENCH POLYNESIA
Stay five nights, pay for only four at the largest
overwater villas in the South Seas, in the five-star St Regis Bora Bora, in
Tahiti. The deal also includes return flights from Papeete to Bora Bora
airport, and boat transfers from the airport to the hotel, as well as daily
breakfast, and if you’re a honeymooner, 
bonuses include a free couple’s massage. Book by August 31 for stays
November 15-December 20, 2012 and January 10-March 30, 2013. Costs from $3179 a
person, twin share, 1800 044 066, travel-associates.com.au.

TOURWATCH
Burgundy’s fame is based on its cuisine, and who better
to reveal its treasures than one of three truly great chefs. The digs are a
16th-century chateau and the chefs are Philippe Mouchel of Melbourne’s PM24 , George
Biron of Sunnybrae in Birregurra, WA and the official Hottest Chef 2012 in The
Australian Hot 50 Restaurant Awards, Andrew McConnell of Cumulus Inc, Cutler
& Co, Golden Fields and the Builders Arms. Each chef will spend a week in
May with up to 10 guests and the resident sommelier, uncovering the Grand and
Premier Crus wines of the Cote d’Or, shopping at the local markets, conducting
daily cooking classes and celebrating with spectacular chateau and local
restaurant dinners. Costs $9000 a person for seven nights, twin share, land
only, tastesofburgundy.com.
Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

Forgotten island the ultimate beach escape

I don’t reckon the Bali tourism people are going to be overly happy with this piece raving about the Philippines, but seriously, I was almost EATEN by fake watch sellers when I stopped in Bali last time.

Its white sand beaches, warm blue waters and easy-on-the-wallet style make Boracay a contender for the ultimate beach escape.

THIS morning, I jumped off my outrigger, bought a pair of pearl earrings for $2 on a near-deserted beach, jumped back on the boat and sailed off. Boracay, you delicious creature, you’ve taught me an essential lesson: one must always carry change when island-hopping in South-East Asia.

To read more in the Sun Herald, click here