I’m a journalist, travel writer, editor and copywriter based in Melbourne, Australia. I write pacy travel features, edit edifying websites and fashion flamboyant copy. My articles and photographs have appeared in publications worldwide, from inflight to interior design: I’ve visited every continent, and have lived in three. Want to work together? Drop me a line… 

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Junior suites: best kids’ hotel rooms

The Plaza, NY, USA

From fire
trucks to cats, hotel rooms appeal to the senses of youngsters by ditching the
boring beige and daring to dream.
Accosted
by pirates and knights or wading in a sea of frothy pink: waking up in the
stomach of a Nintendo game may be your idea of hell … or heaven.
Kids may
not be holding the purse strings, but canny hotels know that thinking small can
make a big difference.
While interconnecting rooms are a given, you’ll now
find alcoves stacked with bunks and stuffed with toys and books that remodel
the room from red-eye traveller to pint-sized revellers.
Here are six of the best.
The Fire Station Inn, Adelaide.

RED HOT
Adelaide, South Australia
Got a wannabe firefighter on your hands? Book a
night’s stay at the Fire Station Inn, Adelaide’s first fire station built in
1866, now a boutique hotel in swish North Adelaide. There’s a fully restored
1942 fire truck at the end of the queen-size bed, a fireman’s pole, lights and
costumes for dress-ups. The room has a king bed and a double sofa bed. Costs
from $275 a double plus $45 for children over two years. adelaideheritage.com.
DREAM BUILD
California, United States
Lego-mad kids can choose to be a pirate,
adventurer, or perhaps a knight at the new 250-room Legoland hotel in Carlsbad,
California. The hotel is made up of millions of Lego bricks and guests get
early entry to Legoland’s rides and attractions. The best thing is you don’t
have to pick up all the Lego pieces. Rooms comprise a queen bed and a separate
sleeping area for up to three kids. Kids stay and play free when booked by
September 30 for stays until November 21. From $179. legoland.com.
EMPIRE OF THE CAT
Jeju Island, South Korea
She’s super kawaii (cute) and pink to the
gills: Hello Kitty hits new highs in the five-star Lotte Hotel on Jeju Island.
Off South Korea’s southern coastline, Jeju is the country’s party island thanks
to its beaches and warm summers. Being Korean, the activities include sauna,
karaoke and hunting, but if your focus is a white kitty cat with a pink flower
in her hair, who appears on the duvets, the carpets and the walls, maybe that’s
not quite your game. Suites from $726. lottehoteljeju.com.
Wanderlust, Singapore

OUT OF THIS WORLD

Little India, Singapore
Step out of the madness of Little India and into a
madness of a different kind at Wanderlust, a super-cool Design Hotel whose two
fabulous space rooms feature a red space rocket and a few friendly aliens. The
kitchenette and bathroom are downstairs, then climb up to the loft bed and
watch the stars as you orbit into sleep. Costs from $298 a double, includes
breakfast and Wi-Fi. Extra beds from $85. wanderlusthotel.com.

THINK PINK
New York
The Fifth-Avenue home for stylish little girls is
the Eloise suite at the Plaza Hotel, dreamed up by fashion designer Betsey
Johnson. As they say: “Think pink and lots of it”. Saucy Eloise, the
heroine by Kay Thompson, who lived at the hotel, was modelled on Thompson’s
goddaughter, Liza Minnelli. The two-bedroom suite is a swirl of zebra print,
sparkly pink and neon lights. The Eloise ambassador will escort guests to the
suite, get their autograph and take a portrait, before presenting you with a
monogrammed Eloise bathrobe and a $100 gift card to the Eloise shop. From $1395
plus taxes. theplazany.com.

CAPITAL KIDS
Canberra
Canberra’s top hotel is currently the swish East
Hotel. Its Kids Cubby connects with the East Apartment for a chic, two-bedroom
option. The cubby has bunks, kids’ furniture, a little dining table and an Xbox
360 as well as other games. Book their Questacon package and get admission for
two adults and two kids into Questacon (the National Science and Technology
Centre), as well as a free in-room movie and popcorn, parking and a half bottle
of wine. From $380 (room only), $410 (Questacon pack). easthotel.com.au.
FIVE MORE COOL KIDS’
ROOMS
SWISSOTEL, PHUKET, THAILAND
Legoland, California

Set by Kamala beach and a favourite with families,
the hotel can redesign the kids’ room, with age-relevant toys, food and games
for kids two to 17 years. From $154, two-bedroom suite, until November 1. swissotel.com.

FANTASYLAND HOTEL, EDMONTON, CANADA
Sleep in a pick-up truck, stylishly, in truck theme
room. There’s a queen bed in the back, a futon in the cab and fire-engine
toddler bunks. The igloo room has an icy-cool fitout. From $368. fantasylandhotel.com.
SHERATON MACAO HOTEL, MACAU
The largest Sheraton in the world’s two-bed,
two-bathroom suite has a kids’ room with craft tables, games, a Wii and bunk
beds. From $299. sheraton.com/macao.
THE PALMS, LAS VEGAS
For girls, as well as the girlish at heart, The
Barbie Suite is a very grown-up affair that sleeps six, and parties for 40.
From $3000. thepalms.com.
NOMAD XPERIENCE, GRANADA, SPAIN
Sleep in a yurt, a tipi or a gypsy wagon at this
property in the Sierra Nevada. €35 ($51) a person, €25 children three to 16
years. nomadx.es.
Source: Belinda Jackson,
Sun-Herald newspaper


Sun, ski and kids’ iPads apps for good, not evil: travel deals August 18

Ski-in, ski-out Falls Creek, Victoria

As the rain and hail beat down, a week in Byron Bay is sweet music to the ears in this office. But then, so is the idea of hot chocolate in the snowfields, especially as Falls Creek has cracked the one-meter mark! Sun, ski: choose your passion. There’s also a cool new kids’ iPad application that is (a) cheap (b) educational and (c) won’t send you into a world of spam and irate sword-wielding cats demanding you buy more, more and more.

NEW SOUTH WALES

Sneak away to beloved Byron Bay for a long weekend of
surfing, coffee and music. Save 15 per cent when you book a three-night package
at BreakFree Eco Beach between September 21, 2013 – March 31, 2014. Costs from
$432, three nights, studio room. breakfree.com.au.
VICTORIA
Stay three nights at Falls Creek and get a three-day lift
pass and three days of ski or board rental, parka and pants and snowsports
school for kids. From $499 adults, $405 kids (3-14 years) 13-29 September,
quote ‘snowtime intro’. 1800 453 525, skifalls.com.au/deals.
CANADA &
ALASKA
Get a free return flight to Canada (just pay taxes) and
one free night when you book an APT Canada tour by October 25. The 19-day tour
of the Canadian Rockies and Alaska departing April 14, 2014 costs from $10,395
a person, twin share. 131 398, travelscene.net.au.
KIDS
Turn the iPad into a weapon for good with the new Kid
Tracks app, aimed at kids 6-12 years. Download the free app and then buy
‘tracks’ for 99c each, which lead kids (and their virtual pet) through 46
attractions in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.

The multiple-choice questions
mean kids learn and earn, with prizes at the end. You get to visit the Old
Melbourne Gaol, Harbour Bridge or even the Art Gallery of NSW with serenity and
sanity intact. kidtracks.com.au

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun-Herald newspaper

Fabulous Fiji and hot air in Canberra: travel deals March 31, 2013

Walk through three countries in a week, blow hot air in Canberra or just lay down amidst beauty in Fiji, in this week’s international and domestic travel deals.

ACT
Celebrate Easter
in Canberra, making your own Easter egg with a Canberra Glasswork artist on
hand to help out at the Crowne Plaza Canberra. The hotel’s ‘Discover More’
offer cuts 20 per cent off the room rate and includes breakfast for two at its
recently refurbished restaurant.  Book
until April 28 for stays until April 30, quote ‘Discover More’. Costs from $165
a night, minimum two nights. 138 888, crowneplaza.com/discovermore.
QUEENSLAND
Long lunchers are heading to Port Douglas for its Carnivale (carnivale.com.au) in May 17-26, and the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas’ ‘Longest Lunch’ on May 17.The three-course meal showcases local produce and all proceeds go to The Leukaemia Foundation. Fly to Port Douglas, stay seven nights in a deluxe garden view room and get over $1200 of bonuses including a room upgrade, two-for-one golf and $500 Wine & Dine credit. Book by April 12. Costs from $1590 a person, twin share. 1300 003 454, myholidaycentre.com.au.

TASMANIA
It’s starting to get chilly in Tassie: what better excuse than to try the state’s whiskeys? Stay three nights, pay for just two from April 1 to September 30 at Somerset Serviced Residences’ two properties. The apartments are on Salamanca Place and in a 1930s pier building overlooking the Derwent River and include full kitchens and separate bedrooms. Costs from $440. 1800 766 377, somerset.com.

NSW
Hilton Sydney
If you prefer your Easter eggs Benedict, rather than
chocolate, check in to the Hilton Sydney for a chic city weekend getaway, and
check out their refurbished guest rooms, the Marble Bar and the views from the
Zeta bar. The hotel’s ‘Treasure Moments’ deal 
cuts 20 per cent of their best available rate, and 20 per cent off its
brasserie breakfast for your eggs, however you like ‘em. Bookings must be made
five days in advance until April 30 for stays until December 31. Costs from
$208 a room. 1300 445 866, hilton.com.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Take
time to stop and smell the flowers on this seven-day Wildflower and Nature
expedition which includes a cruise to Woody Island in the Recherche Archipelago
off Esperance see the White Chested Sea Eagle and a visit to Cape Arid at the
edge of the Great Australian Bight. The tour is for just four people, hunting
for the elusive Queen of Sheba orchid and the endangered ground parrot.
Departs September 3 and October 4. Book four months in advance and save up to
$160. Costs from $4135 a person, twin share. (08) 93856422, www.countryescapes.com.au
BRITAIN
Start planning for your British summer jaunts and get a
free day’s travel on its trains when you book a BritRail travel pass by April
15. Tickets have six months’ validity from date of issue. Three-day
second-class tickets cost from $115/children, $185/youth travellers,
$225/adults. raileurope.com.au
EUROPEAN ALPS
Walk through three countries in one week, on the
seven-day Mont Blanc Guided Walk, an alpine tour through France, Italy and
Switzerland on the Mont Blanc massif. Bring a friend and save 20 per cent on
this trip and all UTrack’s Alps 2013 walking trips made between April 1-30. The
tour, which departs every Sunday until September 15, includes all meals,
accommodation, guides and mule baggage transfers. Costs from $798 a person. 1300 303 368, utracks.com.
FIJI
For luxury in the South Pacific, Fiji’s adults-only
Tadrai Island Resort, in the Mamanucas, comprises just five private villas.
Stay three nights and get a free one-way helicopter transfer, saving $538. Stay
five nights, and they’ll include return transfers. Costs from $4363 a couple,
three nights in a private pool villa which includes all meals and snacks,
butlers, delicious Pure Fiji toiletries and all resort activities such as sea
kayaking and diving. Book until July 16, travel between April 1, 2013 and March
31, 2014. +1 866 783 1840, tadrai.com.
CENTRAL AMERICA
This trip through Belize, Guatemala and Mexico promises
to teach you the essential differences between Mayans and Aztecs: Mayans made
their kids cross-eyed, Aztecs would eat their dead enemies when there was
nothing else on the table.  Get 15 per
cent off most Gecko trips including this one, a 23-day It’s worth the Human
Sacrifice trip. Save $644 when you book by April 12 for trips departing until
August 31, quote code ‘1360’. Costs from $1931 a person, twin share. 1300 791
47, geckosadventures.com.
CHINA
Kung fu, terracotta warriors and the Forbidden City are among
the highlights of Helen Wong’s 14-day China Wonders tour, which traverses the
country from Beijing’s hutongs to Shanghai’s glamorous Bund and the warriors’
home in Xian. Save $400 a person when you travel in the hot summer months, from
early June to late August. The package includes international airfares,
four-star accommodation, guides and visas. Book by May 31. Costs from $3650 a
person. 1300 788328, helenwongstours.com.
TOURWATCH
Champagne devotees will go back to the source in the
first tour through the famed French region lead by Australian ‘Champagne Dame’
Kyla Kirkpatrick. Kyla lives, breathes and works for the bubbled beverage, conducting
champagne masterclasses here and abroad. “This will be an intimate, red carpet
sojourn which will enable fellow champagne lovers to enjoy indulgent soirees
with the owners and winemakers,” she promises. The 12 guests will visit 15 prestigious
estates, many closed to the public while staying in the 17th-century Chateau de
Mairie. The tour starts in Paris on June 23 with a private champagne and
perfume masterclass, where you’ll receive a custom-made scent. Costs from $4990
a person, twin share, 0403 149 809, thechampagnedame.com.

Find the romance of Persia or follow the Great Migration: travel deals 10 March 2013

Ancient cities, warm hospitality, wild landscapes: the romance of Persia is calling. Closer to home, get fabulous in northern NSW or Thailand, or follow the Great Migration across the Serengeti and Masai Mara.


TASMANIA
Walking is the new cycling, which is of course the new golf, and one of the best walking destinations in the country is Tassie. The new Three Capes walk hugs the sea cliffs of the Tasman peninsula and out to Cape Raoul. This three-day tour also includes a visit to Port Arthur and a jet boat wilderness cruise (yes, you read that right). Normally $1095, book before March 23 and save 15 per cent on the April 24 departure.  Costs $930 a person, three days. 1300 666 856, tasmanianexpeditions.com.au.


Toulouse-Lautrec, Canberra.

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Travelling to Canberra to see the best of Toulouse Lautrec is a whole lot cheaper than hauling off to Paris. Stay at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra during the boho Paris exhibition and you’ll get overnight accommodation in a Park Room as well as two tickets to the Toulouse Lautrec exhibition, breakfast and free parking. The offer runs until April 2, quote code ‘TOUL’. Costs from $345 per room. 131 234, canberra.park.hyatt.com.
VICTORIA

Golf aficionados head far west for a putt in the sun, and non-golfing spouses will enjoy the diversion of staying a houseboat on the Murray River. Stay four nights on a deluxe houseboat and play Mildura’s two 18-hole courses, including buggy hire and get full breakfast provisions, dinner at the Gol Gol hotel and a gourmet barbeque. Normally from $900 a person, save $350. Costs from $550. 1800 800 842, willandrahouseboats.com.au.


WESTERN AUSTRALIA
It’s billed as the ultimate fishing safari, and when you spot the barramundi lurking in the shadows of the waters around the Kimberley Coastal Camp, you’ll have to agree. The remote camp is on the Kimberley’s Admiralty Gulf, and is offering half-price fishing safaris from March 19-22 or March 22-25. Includes air transfers from Kununurra, a scenic flight over the magnificent Mitchell Falls, all meals, accommodation and fishing tackle use. Costs from $3382 a person. 0417 902 006,  kimberleycoastalcamp.com.au.


NEW SOUTH WALES

Cabarita Ocean Spa, NSW

You’re a healthier you, on the NSW far north coast.  Book a health retreat at Cabarita Ocean Spa with a friend and save 25 per cent on all stays until March 23, and singles get 15 per cent off. Expect surfing and stand-up paddling, as befits an ocean retreat that’s moments from the coastline, as well as lashings of organic, locally sourced food and Sodashi in the spa. Costs from $1650 a person, twin share, three nights. (02) 6674 3111, cabaritaoceanretreat.com.au.

EUROPE 
Canny backpackers have long known that an overnight train journey saves on the cost of accommodation. Do it in style and save, as Rail Europe celebrates its 18th birthday with up to 65 per cent off City Night Line trains, which operate in eight countries including Germany, Denmark and the Czech Republic. Book by April 2, travel by June 30. Costs from $59 in couchette, $70 in double sleeper economy. raileurope.com.au.
INDONESIA
Bali bargain hunters alert. Fly with Virgin Australia from Sydney to Denpasar and stay seven nights for the price of five in a deluxe pool view room at the Kuta Lagoon Resort, on Jalan Legian. The offer includes breakfast, airport transfers and regular shuttle buses to the surf and bangle sellers at Kuta Beach. Book until 3pm June 7 for travel from April 28 to June 14. Costs from $1,079 a person, twin share. 1300 130 485, travel.com.au.
CHINA
It’s time to get your skates on, literally, to catch an earlybird ski bargain. Club Med’s Early Bird Ski Booking deals knock up to 30 per cent off all bookings made by July 1, including five nights in Yabuli, China as well as Europe and Japan. Packages include ski passes, lessons, all meals, open bar and snacks as well as travel insurance. Valid for travel from December 1 to April 7, 2014. Costs from $1033 for adults, $584 for children, five nights. 1800 258 263, clubmed.com.au.
Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, Koh Samui, Thailand

THAILAND
Heal thyself: at a discount price, at Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary on Koh Samui’s south coast. First-time guests can stay four nights, pay for three until April 30. Repeat guests are not forgotten, with a stay five, pay four deal until May 31. Includes airport transfers, all meals and treatments in your wellness program as well as an initial wellness consultation and holistic activities. Costs from $3500 for seven nights on a wellness program, or accommodation only from $224 a night.  +66 (0) 77 429 800, kamalaya.com
KENYA & TANZANIA
Follow the migration paths of wilderbeest and zebras across Tanzania and Kenya, across the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. This package includes eight nights’ accommodation in luxury tented camps and a treehouse, as well as game drives and a visit to the Ngorongoro crater. Book until March 31 for travel until March 24, then May 1 – May 24 and save $1840 a person. Costs from $6629 a person. 1300 320 795, www.adventureworld.com.au.
TOURWATCH
Wind towers, Iran.

Blow the myths out of the water and discover one of the friendliest countries on earth: Iran. This tour departs from Shiraz, reached easily from Dubai or Abu Dhabi, where there’s no drinking wine, but plenty of beautiful gardens and the astonishing ancient city of Persepolis. Highlights include the romantic desert city of Yazd and one of the world’s largest plazas, Naksh-e Jahan Square, in bejewelled Isfahan. There are hill villages, palaces and fine museums as well as plenty of tea stops and fine Iranian cooking to be sampled. The 18-day Highlights of Persia tour departs October 1. Costs from $3850 a person, twin share. (02) 9418 7803, byroads.com.au.

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald newspaper

You can can can in Canberra: travel deals 18 November 2012

The Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition opens
14 December, Canberra
You can can can in Canberra, oh yes you can. You can also go ethical in Melbourne’s Fed Square or go camel, houseboat or rickshaw riding in India, in this week’s international and Australian travel deals.
VICTORIA
Love it or hate it, Melbourne’s Federation Square is the
city’s centre. Check out Australia’s largest fair-trade and ethical festival,
Fair@Square, from November 30-December 2, then discover the world beyond the Square with a
Laneways of Melbourne tour. You’ll find tiny galleries, boutiques and some of
the world’s best street art, and snack along the way. The tour includes
chocolate, lunch and a goodies bag. Normally $69 a person, costs from $49 a
person until December 31, 2013 (excluding public holidays). 0407380969, meltours.com.au
TASMANIA
Eat regional food, breathe pure air: where else but our
own Tassie? Upcoming attractions on the island include the makeover of the
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and MONA FOMA, the music and art festival
curated by Brian Ritchie (ex Violent Femmes) from January 16-20, 2013. The
4-star Mercure Hadleys Hobart hotel is in the centre of the city, a National
Trust-listed building that dates from 1834. Book until November 30 for stays
until March 31, 2013. Costs from $112 a night. 1300 888 180, zuji.com.au .
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Work your frou-frou when the Moulin Rouge comes to
Canberra, at the National Gallery of Australia’s Toulouse-Lautrec
exhibition, which opens 14 December. French artist
Henri de
Toulouse-Lautrec painted the seamy side of fin
de siecle
Paris – and we’re not talking just stocking seams here. Stay at
the Mantra on Northbourne from December 14 – January 31, 2013 and they’ll
include the breakfast buffet and two adult tickets to the exhibition. Costs
from $199 until January 31, 131 517, mantra.com.au.
NSW
Concert goers and NRL
fiends have a new pad to stay at when they attend events at Sydney’s Olympic
Park with the opening of the new 4.5-star Quest at Sydney Olympic Park, which
has 140 studios, one, two and three bedroom options. Each has a fully equipped
kitchen and laundry, there’s an on-site gym and local restaurants are happy to
charge back to the hotel. Normally from $349 a night for a studio apartment,
snap up an opening rate until November 30 from $219. 1300 334 033, questatsydneyolympicpark.com.au.
QUEENSLAND
The Sunshine Coast hinterland is a hotbed of galleries,
cafes and boutique food, best discovered from the town of Montville. Stay three
nights at the couples-only 4.5-star Falls Rainforest Spa cottage, pay for just
two. You’ll also get a bottle of sparkling wine and cheese on arrival, as well
as breakfast daily, on stays until March 25, 2013 (Monday-Thursday, excludes
Christmas). Costs from $279 a person, twin share, three nights. 1800 044 066, travel-associates.com.au.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Perth marks the start of a tour of southern WA, through
Margaret River down to Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, Albany and Esperance before
turning inland to pan for gold and oogle Kalgoorlie’s Golden Superpit. The 9-day
Southern Wonders tour includes lunch showcasing the best indigenous ingredients
at Palandri winery and takes time to stop and smell the wildflowers. Save up to
$150 a person when you book and pay for six months in advance. Costs from $3009
a person, 1300 228 546, aatkings.com.au.
MACAU
Currently enjoying a hotel boom, Macau is great for a
flutter, and is also ramping up its cultural gems and family entertainment. Stay
in a deluxe king room at the new Conrad Macao, in Cotai Central, and get either
a room upgrade to a deluxe suite or a complementary buffet breakfast  – featuring Portuguese-inspired Macanese
cuisine – for each night of your stay. Costs from $236 a night. +853 8113 6055,
conradmacao.com.
FRANCE
The French Riviera hotspot of Cannes has been the star of the show, with
its film festival luring A-listers for decades. Fittingly, the InterContinental
Carlton Cannes hotels’ 39 suites are named after stars including Sean Connery,
Grace Kelly and Sharon Stone. The Belle Epoque hotel now turns 100 and the
hotel is having a party until March 31, 2013. Normally from $252, costs from $215
a night. 1800 007 697, ichotelsgroup.com.
FIJI
Sonaisali Island Resort, Fiji.
Schoolies alert! Sonaisali Island Resort is staging what
it describes as the ultimate schoolies week, with seven-night packages at half
price. The island has been chartered exclusively for schools for two weeks,
starting December 4 and December 11, and packages include return airfares,
transfers, all meals, activities, and nightly entertainment including DJs and
themed parties. There is extra security and an experienced crew who will meet
you at the airport, just 25 minutes away, and be on hand 24 hours a day. Save
$1000, costs from $999 a person. 1800 981 320, unleasedschoolies.com.au
THAILAND
The holistic heaven of Thailand is encapsulated in the
luxury health resort Chiva-Som, which is luring lovers of spa lusciousness with
bonus treatments between December 1-19. Stay five nights, receive seven spa
treatments, stay seven, get 10 treatments at the much-awarded resort, located
in Hua Hin, 185km south of Bangkok. Costs from $3400 a person, five nights.
1300 857 437, traveltheworld.com.au.
INDIA
Travel by camel in Shekhawati, by luxury houseboat on
Kerala’s backwaters, and by rickshaw in Jaipur on the 23-day Colours of
Mystical India tour. Journey through the southern states of Tamil Nadu and
Kerala, discovering the historic tradition maritime town of Kochi and the
French flavour of Pondicherry before heading north to Rajasthan, Delhi and
Agra. Book before March 31, 2013 and get free return flights to India with
Singapore Airlines. Costs from $12,995 a person, twin share. 1300 723 642,
scenictours.com.
TOURWATCH
Step into an unexplored world, just 500km north of
Australia, into West Timor. This new 14-day walking tour launches from Denpasar,
Bali, flying in to the West Timor capital, Kupang. Local guides will lead you
to old Dutch hill stations, markets and traditional farms, staying in local
hotels or thatch and bamboo homes in the villages, including, in one instance,
the royal family compound. The journey takes you from tropical beaches to
mountain villages, and local host Will Kadati helps with interactive
discussions with the West Timorese. Suitable for medium-level walkers, the trip
includes two days’ walking to the Biboki kingdom, discovering each region’s
unique textiles and crafts, cuisine and religions. Departs June 28, 2013. Costs
from $2865, per person, twin share, ex-Denpasar. 1300 783 188,
activetravel.com.au.
Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald newspaper

Feral at Dreamworld, flora in Canberra: travel deals 23 September 2012

Go feral at Dreamworld, or floral in Canberra or find out if it really is all happening at the zoo, in San Diego. 

TASMANIA
Can’t decide between drinking beer or hunting for Tasmanian tigers? Do both when you stay the Cradle Mountain Chateau, at the northern side of the dramatic national park that includes Tassie’s best-loved mountain and serene Lake St Claire. The 60-room hotel includes a Wilderness Gallery featuring photography of the region’s dramatic scenery and night tours of the local animals. Save 55 per cent on stays until December 20. Costs from $65 per person, twin share. 1800 420 555. cradlemountainchateau.com.au.
ACT
Floriade celebrates 25 years in 2012. 
Canberra bursts into colour with Floriade, its annual
flower extravaganza, until September 23. Now in its 25th year, highlights of
the festival include The Best Exotic Marigold Tea House, with Indian teas and
music in a wildly exotic setting, and Floriade NightFest, comedy, music and
light displays from 6.30pm nightly, floriadeaustralia.com.
Murrays’ bus service has a web special providing daily return services  between Sydney and Canberra until October 14.
Normally $83 return, costs $59 return. murrays.com.au.
VICTORIA
Knock two of Victoria’s most beautiful walks off your bucket list with a two-up walking deal with Park Trek. Spend four days walking the coastal Great Ocean Walk (November 3-6) then head inland and upwards, for another four days in the Grampians (November 8-11). You’ll carry just a small, light daypack, and the price includes all accommodation, meals and expert guides. Book two tours, save $110. Costs $2190 a person. (03) 9877 9540, www.parktrek.com.

Bustin’ some moves at Dreamworld
QUEENSLAND
The price of unlimited happiness is $59.99. That’s the
cost of a kids’ ticket that gives unlimited visits to Dreamworld and WhiteWater
World from now until June 30, 2013. New this summer is Kung Fu Panda Land and
new rides in Wiggles World, and there are balloon twisters, roving beatboxers,
magicians, and, from September 22 to October 7, evicted Big Brother Housemates
(pssst, you can watch BB being filmed live at Dreamworld Studios for $15).
One-day tickets normally cost $69.99 kids/$109.99 adults, but the Unlimited
World Passes also include a free SkyPoint Observation Deck annual pass, worth
$29, that shoots you to the top of Q1 tower, at Surfers Paradise. Costs $59.99
for kids, $109.99 for adults. (07) 5588 1111, dreamworld.com.au.
OUTBACK AUSTRALIA
Birdsville, the Alice, Kakadu, Uluru: the Outback is calling, and what better way to see it than by private aircraft? This 12-day journey covers 10,000 kilometres, visiting the iconic towns of the outback, including Katherine, Broome and Longreach. Includes all meals, accommodation and guides. Harvey World Travel clients also get one night’s pre-tour accommodation at the Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, and airport transfers. Book by October 31, and save $1000 on travel between March-August 2013. Costs from $13,495 a person, 132 757, harveyworld.com.au.

NSW
There’s no tv, no phones and a no-talking ‘quiet room’.
Scared yet? Spring-clean your body and mind at Solar Springs Retreat, in
Bundanoon, on the Southern Highlands, which has 20 per cent off its
all-inclusive packages during spring. The new three-night midweek ‘Seriously
Spring Time’ deal includes accommodation, all meals and three spa treatments –
a facial, foot therapy and body buff. Also included are guided bushwalks, yoga
and meditation and health and fitness talks. Valid until November 30, costs
from $820 a person, twin share, or $1540 a couple for three nights. (02) 4883
6027, solarsprings.com.au.
EUROPE
If
the road and a GPS are your friends, discover Europe by hire car. Sydney’s globalCARS is offering free pick-up
and drop-off, valued up to $640 in Rome and Madrid, at 33 locations across
Europe and the UK during 2013. Includes unlimited kilometres, insurance with no
excess and 24-hour assistance. Book and pay by October 31. Costs from $27 a day
for six-month leases, $42 a day for 26-day leases. Contact
travel agents, 1300 789 992, globalCARS.com.au.
San Diego, USA
USA
It’s all happening at the zoo, specifically San Diego
zoo, which is celebrating the birth a baby boy panda. Stay four nights at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel, pay for three,
and also get a one-day pass to the zoo, which is just 10 minutes from the
hotel. Book by 3pm March 29 2013, travel until March 31, 2013. Costs from $379
a person, twin share.  1300 130 485, travel.com.au.
ABU DHABI
Cancel all ideas of Abu Dhabi as solely a desert
wilderness. Check into the waterfront Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by
Anantara, stay five nights and pay four on stays now to October 31, 2013. Otherwise,
book 45 days in advance and pay by December 31, and save 15 per cent off your
room rate. Costs from $84 a person, twin share, in a deluxe room with balcony,
including breakfast.  1300 665 673,
sunislandtours.com.au.
PORTUGAL
Getting off the beaten track in Europe is possible, with
a nine-day tour of Portugal, visiting castles, cathedrals and Roman temples
including the evocative Belem Tower, in Lisbon. Balancing the history are
visits to its beaches and famous vineyards of the Douro Valley. Save 10 per
cent when you book and pay by December 27, for travel March 30 – October 12. Includes
luxury coach transport, accommodation, meals and airport transfers. Costs from
$1665 a person, twin share. 1300 237 886, insightvacations.com.
MALDIVES
All island resorts are not made equal, as the Gili
Lankanfushi (formerly Soneva Gili) amply demonstrates, to wit its 45 rustic
chic overwater villas, the overwater bar and Mr Friday, who can do everything
from pack your bag to look after the kids. Stay seven nights on the private
island, get three nights free on stays till December 19, when booked by
December 12. Virtuoso guests will also get a room upgrade, 30-minute spa
treatment for two and a private sunset sail. Costs from $4330 a room, seven
nights. (02) 9957 4511, maryrossitravel.com.

TOURWATCH
Exploring Patagonia, Chile
The only way to explore Chilean Patagonia is by
horseback. You’ll need to know the difference between nose and tail for these
five-day expeditions, which explore the wilds of the end of the earth on a
series of day rides past glaciers and mountains of unimaginable beauty, with
your gaucho bro. Each night, you’ll 
return to the sublime Hotel Salto Chico, in Torres del Paine National
Park, with its spectacular mountain views and an outdoor hot spa that will surely
become your second-best friend (after your horse) at the end of a day in the
saddle. The tours depart once a month from October, cost from $2780 a person,
twin share, includes all meals, drinks, airport transfers and equipment. +56
2395 2800, explora.com
Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald

London canteens and Indian tea houses

Today, I’m relying on photos to tell the story, rather than words. These are two beautiful spaces that crossed my desk this week:

Pop Up Canteen is, as the cafe branding suggests, in London, a feature of design junction, the London design festival now in its second year, from 19-23 September 2012. Here’s what they say about the space: 
“Pop Up Canteen, a special
collaboration between the Canteen group
of restaurants, Transport for London
(TfL), with furniture supplied by Modus
and lighting from Very Good &
Proper
. Canteen, which has a number of permanent sites across London, draws
heavily on TfL’s utilitarian chic for its interiors, which is what made this
collaboration such a perfect fit. The canteen will be designjunction’s largest
eatery on the top floor and the space will be art directed by Michael Sodeau.” 
And my second-favourite image this week is the Best Exotic Marigold Tea House, at Floriade, Canberra’s own celebration of Spring, running 15-23 September 2012. 
“Floriade visitors can enjoy a selection of exotic Indian teas and treats whilst being swept off their feet by the beautiful Indian inspired surrounds,” promises the press release. 


Travel deals: Destination Canberra special! 10 June 2012

Hyatt Hotel Canberra

$150 Happy Hour deals

Click onto ‘Happy Hour’, between 12-1pm every Thursday in
June, to book a great accommodation deal and get a $150 voucher to spend at the
Canberra Centre, National Zoo & Aquarium, Canberra Glassworks or a combined
3inFun pass plus Skate in the City experience. The 3inFun pass includes
entrance to the Australian Institute of Sport, Cockington Green Gardens and
Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre), 1300 889 026, visitcanberra.com.au/winter
HYATT HOTEL CANBERRA
Canberra’s most historic hotel, the Hyatt, is a sprawling
1920s pile in the parliamentary triangle, renowned for its afternoon tea in the
Tea Lounge and the place to be seen for Friday afternoon drinks. Stay two
nights in a Park Room and get 50 per cent off the Hyatt Daily Rate on stays
from Thursdays to Sundays until December 31. Costs from $187.50 a night, (02)
6270 1234, canberra.park.hyatt.com
MANTRA ON NORTHBOURNE
Warm up for
your ski trip with an overnighter in Canberra. Mantra on Northbourne gets you
up early and primed for the snowfields with a couple of beanies, two travel
mugs and a bacon & egg brekky roll and muffin with hot coffee or chocolate
thrown into the deal. The Go Ski Package is for stays Friday to Sunday until August 31 and saves
$50 a night. Costs from $219 a room, 131 517, mantra.com.au
NOVOTEL CANBERRA
Travel the world’s oldest highway through an exotic
exhibition now showing exclusively at the National Museum of Australia. Great
for kids and parents, with interactive computer displays and rooms lush with
silks and life-sized camels. The Novotel Canberra’s Cultural Getaway includes
tickets to the exhibition, a full buffet breakfast and a bottle of wine on
mentioning this column. Travel until July 29, costs from $180 a room, (02) 6245
5000, novotelcanberra.com.au
Crowne Plaza

CROWNE PLAZA

Get the winter woollies and the walking shoes out and
discover Canberra’s parklands and riverside walks, the National Gallery and the
National Portrait Gallery. Stay two nights at the Crowne Plaza Canberra and
save up to $230. Book the Discover package until August 17, stay until August
31, includes buffet breakfast. Costs from $175 a room a night, 138 388, crowneplaza.com/roadtrip
YHA
Families get the
best of the bunch with a Family 3-in-1 Fun Pass giving two adults and up
to three kids entry to Questacon, the Australian Institute of Sport and
Cockington Green Gardens when they stay at the Canberra City YHA. Package
includes breakfast and one night’s accommodation, until October 31. YHA members
get another 10 percent discount: membership costs from $32 for adults, kids
under 18 free with an adult. Costs from $295 per family a night, ensuite room
(non-members), save $49, (02) 6248 9155, yha.com.au
MEDINA APARTMENT HOTELS
Stay at one of Medina’s two apartment hotels, the Medina
Executive James Court in central Canberra on Northbourne Ave, or Medina Classic
Canberra in swanky Kingston, and get 25 per cent off the best available rate
and free parking for travel before July 10, quoting this deal. Costs from $230
a night before discount, (02) 6240 1234 (James Court), from $210 before
discount, (02) 6239 8100 (Classic Canberra), medina.com.au   

Source: Sun Herald


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