Cinque Terre, Italy

Peace is found in Bali’s Tabanan district and in a Tuscan villa. Or find fabulousness on Shanghai’s Bund and Hobart’s Salamanca market in this week’s Australian and international travel deals. 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Named one of the state’s top pubs by the AHA, the 4.5-star
Walkers Arms Hotel is spitting distance from the CBD, in happening Walkerville.
The hotel has a huge beer garden and there are gigs on Friday nights, DJs on
Saturdays and live acoustic music on Sundays. Save 20 per cent on stays until 28 February. Costs from $135 a night. 130
130 483, travel.com.au.

QUEENSLAND
Budget hotel aficionados know the Traders hotels: owned by the luxe Shangri-La gang, they’re aimed at 4-star corporates, with the benefits and panache from a glam big sister. Australia’s first Traders Hotel has opened on Brisbane’s Roma St, with prices starting from $289 weekdays and $159 weekends, always with free wi-fi. It’s celebrating the opening with a ‘Stay Connected’ package that includes one night’s accommodation in its recently, 34sqm renovated rooms, and a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, all for the retail price of the tablet, $459. (07) 3238 2222, tradershotels.com

Sofitel Melbourne
VICTORIA
The acclaimed play ‘War Horse’, about a man and horse’s journey through World War I, makes its Australian debut at Melbourne’s State Theatre Art Centre in December. Well that’s a good excuse to head south. Usually, a night at the Sofitel on Collins costs from $260. The ‘stay and see’ package includes a five-star sleep for two and one ‘A’ Reserve ticket, worth $124, from December 23 – February 10, 2013. Costs from $269 a night. 1300 306 341, showbiz.com.au/warhorse.

NEW SOUTH WALES
It could well be the best deal in town: stay in one of
the Sheraton on the Park’s 48 suites, take home a Boucheron diamond. Between
November 17-25, and you’ll be on a treasure hunt for a diamond pendant and a
diamond bracelet hidden in the suites, but could be consoled with other surprises
including a splash from Moet, bath butler service, Polynesian spa treatments by
Thalgo or a sparkling midnight swim – it’s a surprise, people. Costs from $599,
includes access to the Sheraton Club, with pre-dinner drinks, canapés and
breakfast on Level 21.  (02) 9286 6000, sheratonontheparksydney.com/sparkle.
The Tarkine, Tasmania
TASMANIA
Hobart’s been cosying up with San Fran, Amsterdam and
Beijing, all named in Lonely Planet’s top 10 cities to visit in 2013. The new
Unknown Wilderness itinerary from Inspiring Journeys travels from Launceston to
Hobart, visiting the mountains, lakes and rivers in between, not to mention
dishing up your fair share of wine and cheese. Departs from January 31 to April
28 with more dates pending: book six months in advance, save $190. Costs from
$3750 a person, twin share (excluding flights) 1800 467 747,
inspiringjourneys.com.au.
NORTH-WEST
AUSTRALIA
Play spot the croc along Australia’s remote north-western
coastline. This 22-day adventure travels in coach-style 4WDs from Darwin to
Perth, crossing the Kimberley until the Coral Coast. Includes cruises on the
Ord River and through Katherine Gorge at sunrise and four nights at Bell Gorge
and Bungle Wilderness Lodge. Save up to $575 a person when booking six months
in advance, until December 31, for travel May 1-September 30, 2013. Costs from
$10,920 a person, twin share. 1800 044 066, travel-associates.com.au.
Palais Amani, Fez, Morocco
MOROCCO
Your home in the open-air theatre that is Fez is a riad;
those perfumed, inward-facing homes beloved by Morocco’s old merchant class.
With only 14 rooms, the luxury riad,
Palais Amani, is set within the medina. Normally from
$169 a night, save 33 per cent on stays until January 31, 2013, excluding
December 20 – January 1, 2013. Includes a traditional Moroccan breakfast, and a
spa with hammam and rooftop showers for those hot summer nights. Costs from $125
a night, minimum three nights’ stay. 1300 896 627, mrandmrssmith.com.
CHINA
Shanghai’s promenade the Bund has another swanky
resident, the Banyan Tree Shanghai On The Bund. Its 130 rooms overlook the Bund
and the Huangpu River. Check out the three-floor spa and 150-minute hot stones
therapy, made more delicious by a 30 per cent discount. Until February 28, get
your second night free and half-price on all subsequent nights, breakfast and
free non-alcoholic minibar on stays in the riverside retreats. Costs from $460
a night. +86 21 2509 1188, banyantree.com.
INDONESIA
Alila Villas Soori, Tabanan, Bali, Indonesia
Bali’s Tabanan district is famed for its traditional
dancers and gong (gamelan) orchestras, and private viewings can be arranged by
Alila Villas Soori, a collection of villas set between beach and rice paddies.
Save 20 per cent off the internet rate when you book one of their newly
relaunched Mountain Pool villas, when booking seven days in advance for stays
until December 19. Costs from $490++. +62 361 894 6388, alilahotels.com/soori.
ITALY
From your base in the spa town of Salsomaggiore Terme,
you’ll explore Bologna, Milan, Cinque Terre and then Lake Maggiore in this
eight-day Hidden Treasures of Northern Italy tour. Book before December 27 to
get an early-bird fare of $1475 for return flights with Cathay Pacific to Rome,
and book four months in advance to save 2.5 per cent on the tour cost. Costs
from $1134 a person, twin share. 1300 230 234, cosmostours.com.au.
EUROPE
A Contiki tour through Europe is a rite of passage for
first-time travellers. Tick off all the biggies – Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Rome’s
Coliseum, Athens’ Acropolis, Amsterdam’s red light district – in one fell swoop
on the 33-day European Explorer. You’ll also get into the boat in Venice, shake
it in Mykonos and dream on the Isle of Capri. Book before December 27 for
travel from April to September 2013 and save up to $620. Costs from $5154 a
person, twin share. 1300 266 845, contiki.com.au.  
TOURWATCH
Cycling, yoga, Italy: the recipe for perfection. Throw a
little hiking in, as well as a 17th-century country villa near Lucca, Tuscany, and
it’s music for the soul. This seven-night retreat sees you practising yoga each
day, with views of the villa’s olive groves and peaceful panoramas, and cycling
through quiet country lanes. Yes, there is eating. This is Italy, after all.
There’s one completely free day in the midst of the retreat for guests to do as
they please, and non-cycling friends and spouses are welcome. “It’s a retreat,
not a boot camp,” says organiser Virginia Slevin, and there are no
super-humans, the 14 guests require just a general level of fitness. Runs from
June 8-15, 2013 (yoga & cycling) and June 15-22, 2013 (yoga, cycling &
hiking). Costs $2450 a person, twin share with a shared bathroom, or $2855 with
a private bathroom. 0407 788 600, soulfitadventures.com.
 Source: Belinda JacksonSun Herald