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Monday, May 31, 2010

Can You Picture the Perfect Art Lovers Weekend Away? Mantra Can...


A weekend away in Canberra for art lovers has never been more picture perfect than now.

With the Hans Heysen travelling exhibition in town at the National Gallery of Australia until July 11, those who appreciate art can double their pleasure with some leisure time at the stylish Mantra on Northbourne.

The Mantra on Northbourne package includes tickets for two adults to the exhibition celebrating the extraordinary work of Hans Heysen, one of Australia's best-known landscape painters and one of the most successful artists during his lifetime, from 1877 to 1968.

Credited with changing the way the Australian landscape was viewed with his distinctive gum trees, Heysen painted the majesty of Australia – his vision evident in oil paintings such as 'Mystic morn' (1904), 'Red gold' (1913), and 'Droving in the light' (1914-1921).

Comprising about 80 works, the exhibition has been organised and curated by the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Mantra on Northbourne packages are priced from $179* per night and include accommodation in a Hotel Room, full buffet breakfast for two and complimentary parking (subject to availability). Accommodation can be upgraded to a one bedroom apartment from $199* per night. This package will mainly be available on the weekends only.

The hotel's central location on the north side of the CBD is just a short stroll from the city’s thriving shopping and dining precinct, business centre and a plethora of famous attractions such as the National Museum and War Memorial.

Guests can also enjoy the hotel's on-site restaurant Zipp, and leisure facilities including a heated indoor swimming pool (one of the few in Canberra), sauna and fully-equipped gymnasium.

For bookings, call 1300 987 604 or visit www.mantra.com.au

For more information on the Hans Heysen exhibition, visit http://nga.gov.au/Exhibition/HEYSEN/

*Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability.

Spirit of Tasmania Celebrates Their Silver Milestone!


To celebrate our 25th anniversary, Spirit of Tasmania is offering $25* fares for Ocean Recliners on night sailings - a massive saving of 80%! Book by 18 June 2010 for travel until 31 August unless sold out prior.

But hurry, there's just 50 fares available on every sailing. Plus, $25* Day Tickets are also available on day sailings from Devonport. Applies to travel between 20 July and 14 August 2010.

Spirit of Tasmania is also pleased to announce ‘25 Great Winter Deals’ to encourage travellers to make the most out of their holiday in Tasmania and Victoria. Twenty-five renowned Tasmanian and Victorian tourism operators have offered exclusive discounts for accommodation, restaurants and well-known attractions. These offers will be available online from 1 June to 6 August 2010 at spiritoftasmania.com.au

Spirit of Tasmania CEO Charles Griplas said: “Winter is a magical time to enjoy a break. In this special year for Spirit of Tasmania we have made it easy for visitors to get the best out of their holidays with our lowest ever $25* fares and an exceptional collection of great value offers. These are no ordinary offers, they represent extraordinary savings.

“Our ‘25 Great Winter Deals’ promotion isn’t our only celebratory initiative. We have some exciting events planned for the next couple of months including daily prize draws on board and a great initiative that will be inviting people to share the stories of their own special celebrations this year.”

TT-Line, operators of the iconic Spirit of Tasmania ships has transported more than 6 million passengers and 2.4 million vehicles over the past 25 years.

Today, Spirit of Tasmania’s fleet consists of two vessels – Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II. These vessels sail the 9 -11 hour journey between Devonport and Port Melbourne nightly with additional day sailings during peak periods. The ships transport thousands of families, couples, individuals, groups, pets and vehicles throughout the year and are the only passenger ships to operate between Tasmania and Victoria.

The company is also pleased to announce the launch of a new booking system and internet booking platform – an innovative step forward that will service Spirit of Tasmania for many years to come.

A history in the making…
• Abel Tasman (1985-1993)
• Spirit of Tasmania (1993 – 2002)
• Devil Cat (Peak seasons 1997- 2002)
• Spirit of Tasmania III (2004 – 2006)
• Ships Spirit of Tasmania I and II (2002 – present)

For more details on Spirit of Tasmania and the ’25 Great Winter Deals’ visit www.spiritoftasmania.com.au from 1 June.

*Conditions apply. Limited availability on selected sailings. Applies to travel from 1 June to 31 August 2010. Only available until sold out. 100% cancellation fee applies. No changes permitted.

Learn the World’s Fastest Growing Sport in the Paradise of the Cocos Islands


Take the coolness of surfing, add the insane tricks of wakeboarding mix with a kite capable sending it’s rider 20m into the air, and you have kiteboarding - the fastest growing water sport in the world.

In a world that’s become desensitized by other so called “extreme “ sports, kiteboarding still never fails to draw a crowd marveling at the radical tricks, high speeds and massive jumps performed by kiters – and the first question on their lips is “Is it hard to learn?” In a word, NO.

You don’t have to be strong or particularly fit – all you’ll need are a couple of hours of lessons, some wind and some water and you’ll be on your way.

Coco’s Islands is an amazing tropical paradise where you can learn to kite fast. Zoom along with the Manta Rays swimming below your feet.

Most kiters progress from absolute beginners to doing small jumps within their first summer season, but the best way to fast track you kiting experience would be to join a kite tour, and that’s where Zephyr Kite Tours comes in……

“One 14 day tour with us is the equivalent of a whole east coast summer season of kiting” says Jen Phillips, owner and founder of Zephyr Kite Tours (ZKT)

Based on the tropical Cocos Islands, Zephyr Kite Tours have been teaching kiting since 2004, and have what most kiters would agree is heaven. Warm shallow water, palm fringed lagoons and consistent SE trade winds make this the ultimate place for kiters of all levels - but especially beginners.

Zephyr Kite Tours are just about to embark on their annual set up at Coco’s Islands which will run tours from July to September. With ZKT you can enjoy a tropical holiday, escape the cold winter and get active at the same time.

Learn to Kitesurf in the Cocos Islands with Zephyr Kite Tours and enjoy free equipment hire, a safe learning environment with professional instructors, palm trees and a great social vibe.



Zephyr Kite Tours [ZKT] has been taking kiters of all levels to these amazing palm fringed islands since 2004 and now have an established kitesurf centre with three professional staff, an advanced rescue service, music, bbq, sun loungers and more.



The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are owned by Australia and are located in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 2750km north-west of Perth, and 900km west south-west of Christmas Island.

It is the home of the approximately 1,000 Cocos Malay & Australian Expats.

This season ZKT introduces FREE kite hire for complete beginners, valued at over $700!.

Kite equipment can be expensive. Getting started and outlaying lots of money to learn can be daunting for many beginners.

In addition to the free equipment hire, beginners also receive very affordable lessons. The four hour beginner package is just $200, and four hours is all most beginners need in these ideal conditions.


 
ZKT’s professional, experienced instructors and staff have beginners up and riding within days, and the lagoon crossing adventures are the most fun you'll ever have kiting.

We make sure everyone has a chance to kite across the magnificent lagoon to Direction or Prison Islands. If you’re lucky you may be able to cruise with the giant manta rays, dolphins and spot the resident dugong ‘Kat’ on the way over. Zodiac boat support is present at all times and carries snacks, refreshments and snorkel gear to explore the other side of the Lagoon.


 
In addition to fantastic kitesurfing, the Island has many things to do and see and there are hundreds of picture perfect beaches to explore. The Cocos Islands has an interesting cultural history and there are many historical relics around the Island to discover on foot or underwater.

See Zephyr Kite Tours Visual Brochure: http://www.zephyrkitetours.com/videos.htm

Our website is www.zephyrkitetours.com or www.kitesurfcocosislands.com.au

Hot Deals and Warm Weather This Winter!!


With warm days and mild nights it is hard to believe that it is actually winter in some of Queensland’s most beautiful holiday destinations at this time of year.

Oaks Hotels and Resorts are offering the below HOT DEALS and bonus hot weather for the supposed cooler months.

Oaks Lagoon at The picture perfect Port Douglas – 23C (Average daily temp)

Lazy sundrenched days spent is this beautiful part of the world need not only be enjoyed in the winter months, with average temps still hitting over 20 degrees everyday why not beat the winter blues and head to this endless summer destination.
HOT DEALS FROM $145 per night

Oaks Calypso Plaza on the gorgeous Gold Coast – 21C (Average daily temp)

Oaks Calypso Plaza offers a relaxed ambience perfect for family getaways. A prime beachside location, perfect winter weather and unbeatable rates makes this time of year the perfect time to visit.
HOT DEALS FROM $127 per night

Oaks Seaforth on the magnificent Sunshine Coast – 20C (Average daily temp)

Choose the Sunshine Coast for your next family adventure, romantic escape or business trip this winter. The beachside location of Oaks Seaforth and the clear blue skies with warm water temps in this region will not disappoint.

HOT DEALS FROM $119 per night

For more information on Oaks Hotels & Resorts go to www.oakshotelsresorts.com

Have a Whale of a Weekend at InterContinental Sydney


From June to early December thousands of humpback whales travel to warmer waters off the coast of Sydney. Catch these magnificent mammals as they migrate north with InterContinental Sydney’s Whale Watching Experience package.

Enjoy two nights luxury accommodation, full buffet breakfast in the hotel’s Café Opera and a three-hour whale watching cruise for two people with Whale Watching Sydney from $405.

Departing only a minute’s walk from InterContinental Sydney, the whale watching cruise includes full commentary by an experienced guide, 360 degree viewing decks and complimentary afternoon tea.

When you’re not enjoying the company of the gentle giants of the sea take in the harbour or city views from the picture frame windows of InterContinental Sydney’s contemporary designed guest rooms.

The hotel also offers all of the features and services expected of a luxury five-star hotel including a 24 hour Concierge, dining venues Café Opera, Cortile and Etch, a gymnasium and indoor heated swimming pool on the 31st floor with sensational harbour views.

InterContinental Sydney’s Whale Watching Experience is available from now until the end of November.

For more information or to make a booking contact InterContinental Sydney on 1800 781 066 or visit www.sydney.intercontinental.com.

Threatened Species to Stand Tall at Grampians Wildflower Show



Threatened wildflower species will be a hot topic at this year’s 73rd annual Grampians Wildflower Show from September 30 –October 3 in Halls Gap, with experts unveiling exciting – and even global - initiatives which aim to preserve, protect and repopulate species like the Grampians Rice Flower.

Endemic to the Grampians region, the Grampians Rice Flower (Pimelea pagophila) is one of many wildflowers that have experienced a substantial growth in population following the January 2006 bushfires that spread through the Grampians National Park.

Grampians Threatened Species Group, Parks Victoria and Department of Sustainability and Environment have been working together to locate and monitor the new populations, and will be excited to share their findings at this year’s Grampians Wildflower Show, says DSE Biodiversity Services Project Officer, Pauline Rudolph.

“This plant was in fairly low numbers before the fires,” Ms Rudolph said. “Post fire we have observed massive germination and establishment of the Grampians Rice Flower. In fact we have now collected enough seed to contribute to the Millennium Seed Bank Project – a global initiative that aims to collect and conserve seed from 10 percent – or 24,000 - of the world’s flowering plants. We’re also enlisting Grampians plant enthusiasts to grow the species for educational purposes and, potentially, for replanting in the Park.”

The Grampians region has the highest number of endemic wildflower species compared to any other region in Australia.

Grampians Wildflower Show spokesperson Margo Sietsma said wildflower lovers would also learn about woodland, heathland and wetland species at this year’s show, which was expected to attract more than 2,000 people from Western Victoria, Melbourne and South Australia.

“Spring is the best time to visit the Grampians and appreciate the multitude of magnificent wildflowers,” Mrs Sietsma said. “The show will display an impressive variety on the day, but there will also be opportunities for people to take part in wildflower and orchid tours throughout the weekend to see the flowers in their natural environment.”

Exhibitors will include Parks Victoria, Friends of Grampians and Wimmera Catchment Management Authority and, for the kids, roving environmental performance group ‘The Connies’ will perform on the Friday and Saturday. Other event highlights include a demonstration by fibre artist of botanical embroidery Lynne Stone from Marysville and the works of renowned Grampians artist Ken Woodcock.

The Grampians Wildflower Show will be held at Centenary Hall, Grampians Road, Halls Gap from 9.30am to 4.30pm daily. Entry is $5 adults, $4 concession and 50 cents for children under 16. Wildflower and orchid tours will be held at 10am and 1pm daily ($4pp – book on the day). For more information call 1800 065 599 or visit grampianswildflowershow.org.au.

Visitor Information - the Curfew Has Been Lifted


The curfew in Bangkok and the 24 provinces covered by the Emergency Decree* has been lifted, but the Emergency Decree will remain in place to ensure peace and order.

*Areas Covered by the Emergency Decree Bangkok and the provinces of Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Nakhon Pathom, Ayutthaya, Chonburi, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Nakhon Sawan, Nan, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima, Si Sa Ket, Ubon Ratchathani, Maha Sarakham, Roi Et, Nong Bua Lampoo, Sakhon Nakhon, Kalasin and Mukdahan.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva stated that the decision was in line with the recommendation by the Centre for the Resolution of Emergency Situation (CRES) which had confirmed the situation is now under control.

As the situation in Bangkok has returned to normal, the BTS Skytrain has resumed full service on both the Silom and Sukhumvit lines from 06.00 hrs to midnight from 29 May onwards.

For the latest updates, please visit www.TATnews.org

Take a Tropical Townsville Getaway



Averaging 300 days of sunshine a year, summer never sleeps in tropical Townsville, making it the perfect destination to escape the winter chill.

Lying 8km or a 25 minute ferry ride from Townsville is World Heritage-listed Magnetic Island. With a range of accommodation available on the island from budget to five star resorts, Magnetic Island or Maggie as it’s affectionately known, is a great family holiday destination. www.townsvilleholidays.info/places-to-visit/magnetic-island.cfm

If 23 picturesque beaches and bays aren’t enough to keep the kids amused, what about spotting rock wallabies or koalas in the wild? More than-two thirds of Maggie is National Park and the island is home to northern Australia’s largest colony of koalas. If you aren’t lucky enough to spot one in the wild then head to Bungalow Bay Koala Village where the whole family can hold a koala or crocodile, take a guided tour of the island’s diverse environments and even have breakfast with the koalas. At Bungalow Bay’s popular bush tucker breakfast the kids will have fun cooking their own toast over an open fire and munching down a big brekkie while they are greeted by native wildlife. www.bungalowbay.com.au

With everything from sea kayaking to island jet ski tours, there are plenty of other family friendly activities on Maggie to keep everyone entertained. Snorkel the fringing reefs surrounding the island, hire a cart for a nine hole round of golf, take the kids exploring in a traditional mini moke (minimum age 12 years) or spend the afternoon seeing Maggie on horseback. Horseshoe Bay Ranch’s fully guided rides take you through the bush, onto the beach, and into the water and are a definite must do. www.horseshoebayranch.com.au

One of the best ways to see the island is on an Adrenalin Jet Ski Tour (Ph 07 4778 5533). You can circumnavigate the island on a three hour tour or take in the top end on a 75 minute tour. Both tours showcase a different side of Maggie as you view spectacular granite boulders, secluded bays and spot a variety of marine and bird life all from the back of the latest Seadoo luxury watercraft.

For a holiday the kids will never forget, why not charter a catamaran or yacht and cruise the crystal clear and calm waters around Magnetic Island. Tropic Sail offers private self-skippered and skippered sailing holidays from Townsville. The whole family can learn the ropes on this sailing adventure as you spot turtles, dolphins and dugongs, snorkel straight off the boat in warm tropical waters and discover fringing coral reefs and the 13 unspoiled islands of the Palms Group. www.tropicsail.com.au

Back on the mainland, experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef without getting your feet wet at Reef HQ Aquarium. The attraction’s coral reef exhibit is the world’s largest coral reef aquarium and is home to 130 coral species and 120 fish species. Kids can learn about the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and its inhabitants, see how the aquarium cares for sick and injured marine turtles at the Reef HQ Turtle Hospital, find Nemo as he swims amongst vibrant living corals, and chat to the divers as they swim with the sharks and other animals in the predator exhibit. www.reefhq.com.au

Right next door, the Museum of Tropical Queensland is bursting with exhibitions that will captivate visitors of all ages. Learn about the HMS Pandora, the ship sent by British Admiralty to capture the Bounty and her mutinous crew, explore a typical North Queensland rainforest environment in the Enchanted Rainforest or test your skills at the interactive science centre, Mind zone. www.mtq.qm.qld.gov.au

Townsville's fantastic beachfront promenade, The Strand offers everything you need for a great family day out. A jetty for fishing, bike paths and walkways, restaurants, cafes, a free kid’s water park, picnic areas, swimming pools and enclosures. The popular foreshore stretches 2.5km and offers stunning views across Cleveland Bay to Magnetic Island. www.townsvilleholidays.info

While in Townsville don’t forget a visit to Billabong Sanctuary, one of North Queensland’s best wildlife parks featuring over 100 species of Australian animals. You can cuddle a koala, hug a wombat and if you’re brave enough wrap a python around your shoulders and hold a crocodile! www.billabongsanctuary.com.au

For more information on holiday ideas in the Townsville region visit www.queenslandholidays.com.au

Getting There
Townsville is a two hour flight from Brisbane. Virgin Blue offers direct flights to Townsville from Rockhampton, Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sydney. Qantas and Jetstar also fly direct from Brisbane and Sydney with connections available.

Traveltrain’s Tilt Train provides two services a week. www.traveltrain.com.au

Magnetic Island is easily accessible via a 25 minute ferry ride from the Townsville Breakwater terminal. www.sunferries.com.au

Mexico Money - Saver



ADVENTURERS can experience the highlights of Mexico without the hard work and have more money to play with when they arrive on this great value special from Tempo Holidays.

Tempo is offering savings of 10% on its 12 Day Best of Mexico tour, with rates reduced to just $1487* per person twin share valid for sale until June 30 and for travel to December 01, 2010.

From Mexico City to the stunning beaches of Playa del Carmen, travellers will enjoy an absorbing journey of discovery taking in cultural sites, Mayan history, the colonial charm of Merida, the amazing archaeology of Oaxaca, the wonder of Chichen Itza, stunning waterfalls, steaming jungles, friendly locals and more.

The package includes 11 nights accommodation, 11 breakfasts and one lunch, coach transfer and land transportation, coach excursions with bilingual guide and hotel pickups and drop-offs for all excursions and transfers.

For bookings, contact your local travel agent or Tempo Holidays - Australian Travel Agent, www.tempoholidays.com, 1300 558 987 or info@tempoholidays.com. For more information, check out Tempo Holidays’ latest specials and promotions.

*Terms & conditions apply, subject to change and availability

JERSEY BOYS BONUS FOR JULY CONFERENCE BOOKINGS AT SOFITEL SYDNEY


Sofitel Sydney Wentworth today announced that it is the official hotel sponsor for hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys, set to arrive in Sydney at the Theatre Royal in September 2010 after the show's successful season in Melbourne.

To celebrate, Sofitel is offering a special offer and exclusive Jersey Boys experience to those who book a conference or event at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth during the month of July 2010.

Anyone who books a conference or event at the hotel for July – in conjunction with a room reservation for ten or more accompanying nights, or a minimum spend of AUD$10,000 on banqueting services - will receive a AUD$250 credit per $1,000 of the overall event value.

The AUD$250 credit can be used toward AV including data projectors, screens, lighting, staging and microphones, all to assist in staging the event at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. 

In addition, the conference booker will receive a Sofitel Jersey Boys experience valued at more than AUD$500 which includes dinner for two at the hotel's restaurant Garden Court and two tickets to the acclaimed musical Jersey Boys show in Sydney.

To take advantage of Sofitel's special offer, events must be booked by July the 30th. The offer is available for new business only.*

For more information contact the Sofitel Wentworth Sydney conference team on 02 9228 9169 or take a virtual tour and download a conference kit from www.sofitelsydney.com.au

In addition to its state of the art Executive Boardroom which caters for up to 16 people, Sofitel offers the choice of the elegant Adelaide Room and nine more conference spaces.

The entire third floor is dedicated to events, including a pillarless Grand Ballroom for up to 1100 people and a combination of meeting rooms, breakout areas and exhibition spaces that cater to anything from an intimate board meeting to grand-scale conferences and banquets.

Sofitel offers luxury and refinement with a sophisticated French flair, and the iconic Wentworth is one of Sydney's original five-star hotels, remaining an oasis for the business traveller in the heart of the bustling city.  Boasting what is one of the city's best locations, Sofitel Sydney is situated in the midst of both the central business and shopping districts, and within walking distance to such Sydney icons as the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the Rocks and the Art Gallery of NSW.

*Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Tickets and dinner are subject to availability and valued at over AUD$500, and will be issued once event has occurred and been paid for. AV includes data projectors, screens, lighting, staging, mixers, splitters, microphones; labour is not included.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Harvest Pilgrimages the official Canonisation Tour Operator is taking thousands of Australians to Rome


One of the greatest historic milestones in Australian history, the canonisation of our first saint, Blessed Mary MacKillop, will take place at St Peter's Square, Rome, on October 17 – with several thousand Australians expected to travel to the city to witness first hand this extraordinary event. Harvest Pilgrimages is the official Canonisation Tour Operator for the historic event.

"Mary MacKillop's canonisation will be without doubt be one of the great moments in our nation's history, with the invitation going out to Catholics and non-Catholics alike to enter into the pilgrim spirit and travel to Rome to celebrate the coming Australia's first saint," Harvest Pilgrimages managing director Philip Ryall said.

Harvest Pilgrimages has been appointed the official Canonisation Tour Operator by the Sisters of St Joseph (the Religious Order which Mary MacKillop founded), the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Mr Ryall said that the official travel packages with Harvest include airfares, taxes and levies, hotels or pilgrim houses and specially designed Mary MacKillop-focused sightseeing all being accompanied by professional pilgrimage escorts and guides that will "provide a spiritual focus and appreciation" of the unfolding events. These will feature a 'Footsteps of Mary MacKillop' walk which will retrace the sites she cherished during her visits to Rome in 1873/74.

The main ceremonies included in their packages feature a Preparatory Concert to celebrate the saint's life on the Saturday night before the Canonisation Ceremony of 'Mary of the Cross MacKillop' in St Peter's Square by Pope Benedict XV1 on Sunday October 17th.  Finally on Monday 18th October, Australians will be invited to gather for an historic moment of thanksgiving – the first ever Mass for an Australian saint!

Mr Ryall said Harvest Pilgrimages has launched a one-stop dedicated booking system www.canonisationtravel.com outlining the range of Mary MacKillop Canonisation official travel packages while further producing a stand-alone brochure detailing all the packages and rates – 10 per cent commissionable on the land only prices to agents.

Packages start from $3190pp for a four night 'Rome Express' which includes economy airfares with Cathay Pacific, quality accommodation, deluxe coach travel and transfers, all breakfasts and dinners daily, entry passes to all three official ceremonies, pilgrim sightseeing, professional escorts plus a cabin bag, Canonisation journal and ticket wallet. A six night 'Rome Pilgrimage' package is priced from $3590pp. In all there is a choice of 11 packages, ranging from four to 17 days.

Mr Ryall said that there has been an incredible response from the public on the canonisation. "It has generated a massive amount of interest across the board. Here we have a wonderfully spiritual and humble person who dedicated her life to helping others in the truest Christian sense – and Australians recognise that. As a nation we are tremendously privileged to have had Mary MacKillop as one of our own."

More than 150 Sisters of St Joseph, the Order she founded, will be attending the Rome canonisation standing alongside Cardinals, Bishops, Priests – and the thousands of Australian pilgrims – all there to give thanks to a truly inspiring Australian.

For more information www.canonisationtravel.com or call 1300 GO ROME

(1300 467 663)

 Harvest Pilgrimages is the official Tour Operator for the Mary MacKillop Canonisation on 17th October 2010 at St Peter's Square in Rome appointed by the Sisters of St Joseph, Sydney Archdiocese and  the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.  Harvest Pilgrimages celebrates twenty first year of serving group pilgrimage tours and worldwide Church encounters.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MELBOURNE WINTER MASTERPIECES PACKAGES WITH SOFITEL

French 1872–1899 At Café d’Harcourt in Paris 1897 (detail)(Au Café d’Harcourt à Paris)oil on canvas114.0 x 148.0 cmStädel Museum, Frankfurt am MainAcquired in 1926
EUROPEAN MASTERS AND MODERN ART MEET FOR THIS YEAR'S MELBOURNE WINTER MATERPIECES SERIES

Stay with Sofitel Melbourne On Collins and experience the diversity of art in Melbourne this winter

Sofitel Melbourne On Collins is once again supporting one of the city's signature events, the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series, showcasing a diverse selection of European Masters along with an exhibition of the work of film maker and artist, Tim Burton.

The National Gallery of Victoria will exhibit one of the world's finest collections of 19th and 20th century art European Masters: Städel Museum, 19th-20th Century with over 100 works by 70 artists from one of Germany's oldest and most respected museums, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.  European Masters will provide an unprecedented opportunity to see a spectacular group of masterpieces spanning the dynamic and transformative years of the 19th and 20th century, from the beauty and immediacy of French Impressionism to the raw power of German Expressionism, rarely seen outside of Europe.

At the same time, the Australian Centre for Moving Image (ACMI) returns to the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series in 2010 with an Australian exclusive exhibition direct from The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York with a showcase of Tim Burton's extraordinary works.  The exhibition will explore Burton's career as director, concept artist illustrator and photographer, through hundreds of arts works illuminating the creative vision behind Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Sweeney Todd.

Both exhibitions are exclusive to Melbourne and Sofitel Melbourne On Collins is offering accommodation and dining packages which include tickets to either exhibition.



Accommodation Package

From $349 includes –

- Overnight accommodation in a Classic King Room

- 2 x tickets to either exhibition

- Valet parking

Dining Package

Lunch Offer - $57pp including 2 courses + a glass of wine and ticket to either exhibition (valid Monday – Friday only).
Dinner Offer - $87pp including 2 courses + a glass of wine and ticket to either exhibition (valid 7 days).

As an extra service, Sofitel guests will be able to pre-purchase their Melbourne Winter Masterpieces tickets at the hotel's Concierge desk.  Ticket prices are $23pp for European Masters and $19pp for Tim Burton or purchase both for a special price of $33.60pp.

Clive Scott, General Manager, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins said "As Melbourne's Hotel for the Arts we are delighted to be supporting the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series for the seventh year.  The diversity of the works on show is extremely exciting for Melbourne and will no doubt uphold the great reputation this city has for presenting world-class exhibitions'. 

Facts:

This year's Melbourne Winter Masterpieces includes European Masters: Städel Museum, 19th-20th Century at the NGV from 19 June until 10 October, and Tim Burton: The Exhibition at the Australian Centre for Moving Image from 24 June until 10 October, 2010.

Sofitel bookings:

Accommodation packages call 03 9653 0000 or visit www.sofitelmelbourne.com.au

Dining packages call 03 9653 7744 or visit www.sofitelmelbourne.com.au

Sofitel: re-inventing French elegance in luxury hotels

Sofitel creates unique luxury hotels in the world's most attractive destinations, by the artful blending of its French origins with the very best of local cultures.  Sofitel forges a privileged bond between its staff of devoted service professionals and its cosmopolitan guests who expect and appreciate beauty, quality and excellence. Sofitel offers the best of French elegance, from food and wine rituals to bedding, design and personal care products. Hotels where life can be savoured, shared with others, lived in harmony with oneself; transforming every stay into a unique and unforgettable experience.


www.sofitel.com

Kiwi Collection Plays Sugar Daddy in Sex and the City 2 Promo



Kiwi Collection has provided a fabulous gal-pal getaway in New York City for this month's Sex and the City 2 Sweepstakes. Warner Bros., affirming Kiwi Collection's role as the world's leading hotel authority, selected the recently-rebranded luxury travel provider to arrange a freewheeling, high-heeled blowout at the meeting place made iconic in the Sex and the City TV series — The Plaza Hotel.

The package, worth USD $5,000, includes two round-trip tickets to New York City, three nights at the Plaza, spa and salon services for two, and afternoon tea at The Palm Court.

Following up on the past success of the first Sex and the City movie (which grossed USD $415 million worldwide) Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are back, and this time they're bringing all their scandalous misadventures to Abu Dhabi.

The interactive promotion is a conjoined effort between online ticket retailer Fandango, Warner Bros., and Kiwi Collection, and is estimated to create exposure in excess of USD $100,000.

The promotion runs until June 14, 2010.

VIVID 2010 : Bigger, Brighter, Better


The second annual Vivid Sydney festival from May to June 21 puts the creative spotlight firmly on the harbour city, according to peak national body, Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).

TTF Executive Director Brett Gale said the festival is already building a stellar reputation.

“Vivid Sydney gives tourists yet another reason to come to Sydney,” Mr Gale said, “and offers dozens of spectacular free activities and displays.”

“An estimated 200,000 people attended events during Vivid Sydney in 2009, and that figure is expected to be eclipsed this year.

“These visitors spend money on transport, meals, souvenirs, concerts, plays and other performances, with an overall economic benefit to Sydney of around $10 million.

“After the success of the inaugural festival last year, Vivid Sydney is really helping to position Sydney as the Asia‐Pacific’s leading creative hub.”

Mr Gale said the festival also helps to promote Sydney internationally.

“Events like Vivid Sydney demonstrate the variety that Sydney offers and that it is a great destination year round.

“The coverage generated last year was seen around the world, with images of the Lighting of the Opera House sails alone seen by 60 million people.

“As an anchor event on the Events NSW calendar, Vivid adds significantly to Sydney’s cultural and artistic offering and really does allow the world to see Sydney in a different light.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

HEART-WARMING WELCOME BACK TO INTERCONTINENTAL AND HOLIDAY INN BANGKOK

InterContinental and Holiday Inn Bangkok are pleased to announce that with the end of the protests, normality has returned to the Thai capital and both hotels welcome all guests and visitors. InterContinental Bangkok will re-open its doors on Wednesday 26th May 2010 and Holiday Inn Bangkok will be available for bookings from this date.

Enhanced security will remain in place at both hotel so guests in Bangkok whether on holiday, business or for a meeting or social event, are assured a safe, convenient and comfortable experience during their stay.

Markus Platzer, General Manager of InterContinental Bangkok, said, "With our refurbishment last year, the hotel strengthened its status as one of InterContinental Hotels Group's flagship hotels in the Southeast Asia region.  This down time has enabled the hotels to spend time refining skills and ensuring that the hotel remained in pristine condition.

InterContinental Bangkok is where "Luxury Has a New Expression" and the hotel is certainly excited to resume providing guests with authentic cultural experiences and to impart its "In the Know" ethos.

Holiday Inn Bangkok, meanwhile, is ready to offer a warm welcome to guests back to its popular Café G and Charm Thai restaurants as well some of the best-value accommodation in downtown Bangkok.

WRAPT IN CANBERRA WINTER ESCAPE

Great food and wine, clear sunny days, inspiring national treasures and heart-warming winter festivals are just some of the reasons to visit the Canberra region this winter.

The Australian Capital Tourism's Wrapt in Winter campaign was launched today to tempt winter travelers to experience the fun and festive side of Canberra during the cooler months.

Australian Capital Tourism's General Manager, Simonne Shepherd, said "The Canberra region offers a wonderful winter escape. Bright sunny days will tempt the adventurous traveler to explore the region's nature reserves and national parks while regional wineries, enticing restaurants and special winter events create the perfect winter getaway for couples.

"Soak up the warmth of the Fireside Festival while savouring a glass of award-winning Canberra district wine by a crackling fire. Join a truffle hunt or simply indulge in a sumptuous truffle degustation menu at one of the many restaurants taking part in the Capital Country Truffle Festival.

"Shake up your Canberra experiences with special winter exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia. Or try some of the charming venues that form part of the Poacher's Way, a collective of local artists, chefs, winemakers and rural hosts who each have wonderful products and experiences to share.

"Families are sure to experience a fun-filled winter escape. Explore the world of Dinosaurs with Terrorsauras, an awe-inspiring exhibition that includes seven life-like dinosaurs and interactive exhibits at Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre.

"Play with the world's fastest land animal at the National Zoo & Aquarium. The Meet-a-Cheetah experience offers one of the most amazing animal experiences in Australia.

"Our proximity to the snow is another appealing aspect and there are plenty of inviting family accommodation packages that will tempt you to plan a Canberra stopover for your next snow trip.

"So don your favourite winter woollies and explore the region – you'll be wrapt in winter when you take a short break to the nation's capital."

To plan your Canberra winter escape visit www.wraptinwinter.com or call 1300 889 026.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How to blow a vuvuzela and other things you should know about soccer in South Africa.

How to blow a vuvuzela and other things you should know about soccer in South Africa…

NAVIGON, one of the world leading innovators of navigation systems, provides soccer fans with information and insights into the South African soccer culture, and with some tips on what to pack for the trip when going to South Africa.

 "There's been a lot of communication about South Africa, but not a lot of elaboration regarding the South African soccer culture and the unique experience waiting for visitors to this great land," said Stephan Balte, country manager South Africa at NAVIGON. "From youngsters in the townships and at schools nationwide, to older generations at backyard pubs and workplaces throughout the nation, soccer is known, discussed at length and loved by most South Africans. The country has even developed its own special interpretation of the game."

Do that Diski dance

Soccer is played in a number of different ways: rhythmically, sometimes a little showy, but it is never boring. Diski is a uniquely South African soccer style and every move has a name originating from different parts of the country and in different languages. Some are in Tswana, others Zulu, Sotho and even English. With names like 'Tsamaya', 'Heel Extension Mkhari', 'Shibobo' and 'Chester' you can't go wrong. Five of the moves have been put together to create South Africa's Diski dance and you'll soon start feeling the rhythm of African football once you've mastered the routine. So what are you waiting for?

Wear that makarapa!

South African fans enjoy an almost ceremonial ritual as they dress up for the game with the wearing of a makarapa (a modified, decorated miners' helmet unique to South African soccer fans) and the draping of team flags around their shoulders. The name makarapa means 'migrant worker', after the mine workers in the mines of the Witwatersrand in Gauteng, was used in the late 70's and early 80's. There are many makarapa artists in South Africa that make a modest living from designing makarapas and selling them to sports fans of all kinds.

 Some of the unique makarapas (Source: South African Tourism)

Learn to blow the vuvuzela

They are loud, festive and bring soccer matches to life. The vuvuzela's unique sound will take some getting used to, but you will certainly have an unforgettable soccer experience with these horn-shaped instruments that are used by fans to cheer for their favourite teams. Originally made out of tin, the vuvuzela became popular in South Africa in the 1990s. Be warned though, it requires large amounts of lung strength to blow and emit a monotonous noise like a deep foghorn or an elephant.

The vuvuzela and the makarapa are available at a number of places online or can be purchased all over South Africa at stalls, retail stores or street vendors. Prices range from about R 180 to R 500 (US $22 – $62).                                                                                        Fans blow their vuvuzela's (Source: South African Tourism)

Find the soccer stadium in South Africa

Because there is so much to explore in South Africa, renting a car may be a good option to find the soccer stadiums and ensure you don't miss any aspect of the country's diverse culture and unique offerings and absorb as much scenery as possible.

NAVIGON's iPhone navigation application can help by making sure that you find your destination safely and hassle free. The "Avoid Dangerous Areas" function even routes around dangerous areas. This easy to use application doesn't require you to purchase a separate device or carry any extra luggage. Just simply visit the iTunes store online and download. For a very limited period only, NAVIGON offers a special soccer promotion for the South African iPhone app that provides fans with a 63 percent discount. From May 31 until June 6, the app will sell for $29.99 instead of $79.99.

Four seasons in one day - dress appropriately

Packing for South Africa is always a bit difficult since you can experience all four seasons in one day. To make sure that you aren't caught in a mid-winter Highveld thunderstorm or a cold front that the weather report didn't mention the previous night, ensure that you have a mix of warm clothing for the days and nights that can become quite chilly. These would include fleece jackets, tracksuits and long-sleeved t-shirts, whilst a raincoat would be a good piece to have, particularly in our mid winter months, June and July.

For further product information, please visit: www.navigon.com.

You can also find us at:

Facebook                 http://www.navigon.com/facebook
Twitter                       http://www.navigon.com/twitter
YouTube                  http://www.navigon.com/youtube
Flickr                         http://www.navigon.com/flickr

The Langham, Melbourne Enchants with Warming Accommodation Packages and New Winter Wi-Fi Offerings


Southbank’s elegant five-star hotel, The Langham, Melbourne is offering guests a haven from the cold this winter with the launch of luxurious seasonal offerings designed to keep both leisure and business travelers warm, snug and connected in style.

The Enchanted Winter Hideaway packages combine the finest of The Langham, Melbourne experiences and showcase the hotel as an ideal winter escape. The hotel’s prime location on the Yarra River provides guests a wonderful starting point from which to discover everything the city has to offer in winter - spectacular theatre, gallery exhibitions, world-class dining and Melbourne’s famous laneway shopping. For those that are travelling for overnight stays and need to stay connected, the hotel’s best rate of the day includes complimentary internet over the winter months.

The Langham’s Enchanted Winter Hideaway
  • Two, three or four nights accommodation for two
  • Breakfast for two in Melba restaurant
  • 20% discount on one hour Chuan Spa treatments *
  • Access to the Health Club and Wellness Centre including use of the gymnasium, conservatory covered pool and Jacuzzi, sauna, signature scented colour therapy steam rooms and therapeutic rain showers
  • Complimentary valet parking *

Package price: Classic Room from $495 for two nights, $725 for three nights, $935 for four nights.
Valid: from 30 May 2010 until 3 September 2010 (subject to availability)

*An added bonus for those who book their Enchanted Winter Hideaway online at www.langhamhotels.com is the inclusion of complimentary valet parking for the duration of their stay and 20% discount on one hour Chuan Spa treatments.

The Langham, Melbourne’s Winter Wi-Fi
Best Rate of the Day including FREE Internet

Known for its extensive business facilities and five-star conference offerings, The Langham, Melbourne has long been a popular choice with business travelers. Now, having recently upgraded its wi-fi internet, guests to the hotel can enjoy a quicker, seamless connection and more reliable internet service.

As a limited offer for winter 2010, The Langham, Melbourne’s best available rate of the day will include complimentary internet with WIFI and IPhone capability.

  • Accommodation for two people
  • Use of Internet with WIFI and Iphone access

Price: Best available rate of the day
Valid: from 30 May 2010 until 3 September 2010 (subject to availability)

The new Meru Networks 802.11n wireless local area network (WLAN) provides strong and stable signal strength from all areas of the hotel. The service offers uninterrupted connection whether guests are relaxing at the bar, working from their hotel room or attending events in the conference rooms.

For more information on Langham’s enchanting offerings for winter 2010 and to book online, visit melbourne.langhamhotels.com.au

Enticing Luxury Mediterranean Cruise Deals for Singles


And when booked through ecruising.travel, select fly, cruise and stay packages are currently almost half what they were originally selling for for couples or singles: for example Azamara Quest from Rome to Barcelona on November 13 this year now starts from just $4129pp twin-share including return air from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Brisbane, a hotel night pre-cruise and another post-cruise, onboard dining, entertainment and gratuities.

For singles, its from just $4769 with a stateroom to themselves, and Rome and Barcelona hotel rooms to themselves.

And book a package with an outside stateroom from just a few hundred dollars more, and whether twin-share or single, you’ll receive US$500 per stateroom in Onboard Spending Credits if booked by June 30.

The mid-size Azamara Quest, that carries under 700 guests, sails from Rome on October 16 and again on November 13 this year, visiting Sorrento (over-night in port,) Taormina on Sicily, Valletta (Malta,) and Mahon on Majorca.

Full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit www.ecruising.travel

ADDITIONAL SHIPBOARD INFORMATION: Azamara Quest carries under 700-guests, has two specialty restaurants, a range of bars, lounges and a nightclub, spa and fitness centre, and a selection of onboard shops.

There’s also a casino, selected cultural seminars, lectures and culinary demonstrations, hosted game shows and movies.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Whale Watching Cook Islands Style from your Te Manava Luxury Villa

The Te Manava style of Whale Watching is a once in a lifetime experience and along with the Air New Zealand direct flights from Sydney, Australians will have a luxury front row seat.

Cook Islands style of whale watching is simple. Forget the boats, the crowds, the seasickness and the queues; all you need is the veranda at Te Manava Luxury Villas or quiet spot on the sand to wait for the breaching and slapping of the water by Humpback Whales only 100 metres away.

From the 4th July, Air New Zealand will operate direct services between Sydney and the Cook Islands. Flights leave on Sunday for the perfect one-week escape and there are lots of flights via Auckland on other days.

The Cook Islands whale migration season is July to October. Te Manava Luxury Villas & Spa, Australasia’s leading luxury villas has reserved the best view on the island to see these amazing giants of the sea as they travel over from Sydney.

Te Manava Luxury Villas is the newest 5 star luxury accommodation on Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Set on Rarotonga’s most stunning south-east coast location, Muri beach is picture perfect with a white sand beach fringed with palm trees and lapped by the gentle waters of a swimming lagoon. Te Manava Villas offers an exciting new choice for the discerning traveller.

Voted “Australasia’s Leading Villas” at the 2009 World Travel Awards, guests at Te Manava Villas can be either totally self-sufficient and self contained or enjoy the full service 5-star experience. Select from any additional ‘a la carte’ guest services ranging from daily housekeeping through to a 5-course dinner prepared onsite by Te Manava Villas’ own private chef. This way, guests simply pay for the services they want and need and can spend their time exactly the way they want - when they want.

STOP PRESS: Stay 5 Pay 4 nights or more includes one free night and bottle of wine on arrival.

On sale: Extended to 20th June 2010 and travel from 20th May 2010 to 3Ist March 2011.

To book, see your local travel agent or book online at www.temanava.com

Notes:


In some locations the whales can be closer or slightly further than 100 metres as the reef changes. The Cook Islands have led the way in whale conservation by claiming a 2 million square kilometre whale sanctuary in their exclusive economic zone. http://www.whaleresearch.org

One Dollar Cruises from Captain Cook

40th Birthday 1-DAY WEB SALE

To Celebrate Captain Cook Cruises 40th Birthday we’re extending a special invitation to you to register for a very special 1-DAY WEB SALE in June

On a single day we’re giving away cruises for as little as $1 from our range of Sydney Harbour, Murray River and Fiji Islands fleet.

Tickets will be released at intervals during the day so you can log on throughout the day to pick up an unbelievable bargain.

To be eligible you must pre-register.


THAI Wins Awards In Skytrax Survey 2010

THAI wins Skytrax Best Airport Services and Best Airline Lounge – First Class at the 2010 World Airline Awards

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) announces its win for Best Airport Services and Best Airline Lounge – First Class at the 2010 Skytrax World Airline Awards, that took place in Hamburg last week. THAI also ranked Top 10 in the Airline of the Year category.

Mr. Piyasvasti Amranand, THAI President, said THAI won two top awards, for Best Airport Services, and another for Best Airline Lounge – First Class. Customers clearly trust and appreciate THAI when it comes to services offered at the airport, that include THAI's renowned Royal First Class lounge.

THAI accepted the awards with gratitude to its customers worldwide, as it strives to deliver on its values based on Trust, Hospitality, Accountability, and Integrity.

Forty different airlines from around the world gathered in Hamburg to receive their awards from Skytrax Chairman , Mr. Edward Plaisted . More than 17.9 million air travelers from over 100 different nationalities took part in the 10-month survey, between July 2009 and April 2010. The awards are respected and recognized around the world for being the only truly global, independent passenger survey of airline standards.

More information, contact THAI on 1300 651 960 or email reservations@thaiairways.com.au.

No35 WINS BEST RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

Sofitel Melbourne On Collin's new restaurant takes out Australian Hotel Association award

Sofitel Melbourne On Collins' No35 has won Restaurant of the Year at the Australian Hotels Association's (Accommodation Division) 2010 State Awards for Excellence dinner (held on Friday the 7th of May 2010).

Less than twelve months in operation, No35 was up against seven finalists in this category, with the judges awarding points for the menu, wine list, food presentation, originality, service décor, ambience, and product knowledge.

Sofitel's General Manager, Clive Scott, said the award had come at a most opportune time for No35, particularly as the restaurant was less than a year old and that Restaurant Chef, Stuart McVeigh, was doing an excellent job after joining No35 in October 2009. "Stuart McVeigh is inspiring the kitchen brigade with his remarkable culinary skills by producing outstanding and very original dishes.

"The magnificent views coupled with the décor of dark timbers, coloured glass highlights and a sophisticated palette of gold, red and pink tones, provides our guests with an elegant dining destination.

"We hope that this will be just one of the many awards for No35 in the future.  Our aim is to deliver outstanding cuisine in the heart of Melbourne that will hopefully be as breathtaking and memorable as the restaurant's exceptional views" said Clive Scott.

The restaurant serves modern cuisine, using only the freshest local ingredients with an emphasis on pure flavour, matched by relaxed, uncomplicated service.  Complementing No35's food philosophy, Sommelier, Kyriacos Christodoulou, selects wines that are true to their origin which reflect their regional integrity. The service team is led by Restaurant Manager, Owen Gibbons.

For more information on No35 visit www.no35.com.au.  To make a booking call Sofitel Restaurant Reservations on 03 9653 7744.

MAMMA MIA! deals in Brisbane



Mantra and Showbiz have lifted the curtain on a range of crowd-pleasing accommodation and show deals for Brisbane’s strictly limited six week season of the global hit stage musical, MAMMA MIA!

MAMMA MIA! has had Sydney and Melbourne theatre-goers singing and dancing in the aisles since October and will return to Brisbane as part of the 10th Anniversary Australian Tour from 10 August to 19 September at the Lyric Theatre, QPAC.

As proud accommodation partners of the global smash hit, Mantra Hotels, Resorts and Apartments has teamed with Showbiz to offer a range of great value Stay & See® packages, where visitors can enjoy the funny, sunny tale of a mother, a daughter and three possible fathers with the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs, and a premium hotel experience.

A magic choice for musical lovers in Brisbane is Mantra on Queen in the heart of Brisbane’s vibrant city center. Stay & See® packages start from $212* per person per night twin share including two 'A' Reserve tickets to the show.

Theatre-goers can also relax and enjoy the comforts of Mantra South Bank before and after the show with Stay & See® packages from $229* per person per night twin share including two 'A' Reserve tickets to the show. Mantra South Bank is located just a short stroll from the Lyric Theatre at South Bank.

For those who have already purchased their MAMMA MIA! tickets and are looking for somewhere to dance their way back to after the show, Mantra also has a great range of accommodation on offer.

Writer Catherine Johnson's tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago.

The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship, and every night everyone’s having the time of their lives!

For bookings or further information phone 1300 306 342 or visit www.mantra.com.au/mammamia.

Follow in the Steps of Sex and the City with Topdeck


Topdeck has expanded its programme of European trips to include the only combined Spain, Portugal and Morocco trip, tailor-made for 18-30 something travellers.

For travellers keen to follow in the steps of the Sex and the City characters, Topdeck’s 18 day Iberian Voyager trip includes four days exploring the ancient towns and vibrant culture of Morocco, and also takes travellers into the heart of Spain and Portugal. The trip can be done in its entirety or as one of two sectors.

“Topdeck is continuously reviewing travel trends and its product range, to enhance the experience it offers. Demand for Morocco has risen dramatically in recent years and we’re expecting this to continue, especially with the upcoming release of the new Sex and the City movie which is set in Morocco,” said Lance Batty, General Manager, Topdeck Australia/New Zealand.

A wholly Australian-owned company, Topdeck has a reputation for offering quality travel experiences for adventurous young people. It offers 76 different itineraries throughout Europe, with more activities, meals and free time and more centrally located accommodation that its competitors.

Topdeck's ‘no tipping’ policy has become an integral point of difference between it and other operators of holidays for 18-30 something travellers.

“Topdeck’s trip leaders become mates with their passengers. Our view is that you don’t tip your mates, so we don’t allow tipping of our leaders. This policy is in stark contrast to other 18-30 something operators who actively encourage their passengers to tip heavily, often adding hundreds of dollars to their trip,” said Mr Batty.

Topdeck’s trips are categorised according to three accommodation styles. EuroHotel trips stay at locally owned hotels in great locations; EuroClub trips use multi-share accommodation in cabins, castles, yachts and hostels for budget conscious travellers and EuroCamping trips stay at Europe’s best campsites (many with nightclubs and swimming pools) with roomy twin-share dome tents.

Topdeck is a leading operator of holidays for 18-30 something travellers throughout Europe, Egypt and the Middle East. From April 1, 2010 Topdeck will operate in Australia and New Zealand following its acquisition of Connections Adventures in November2009.

For more information contact Topdeck on 1300 886 332 or visit www.topdeck.travel

Topdeck is 100% Australian owned. It is a leading operator of quality coach trips for adventurous 18-30 something travellers throughout Europe, Egypt & the Middle East and now Australia and New Zealand.

Explore a World of Biodiversity These School Holidays


Watch the whales migrate north for winter, join an Aboriginal Ranger for some local bushtucker or step back in time and into the shoes of a convict, all in NSW National Parks.

As part of the International Year of Biodiversity, NSW National Parks is holding fun and educational Discovery activities these July school holidays. Happening in parks across the State and hosted by local rangers, the program of activities and events are sure to keep the kids active and entertained.

The onset of winter marks the arrival of whales on their annual migration north and there is no shortage of fantastic spots in NSW’s National Parks to view these spectacular creatures. A range of Discovery activities and events are being held throughout the whale watching season at top whale-spotting locations including Muttonbird Island at Coffs Harbour, Kamay Botany Bay National Park at Kurnell in Sydney, Wyrrabalong National Park on the Central Coast and Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park. Join NSW National Park Rangers and Marine Park staff to learn about these giant creatures and their fascinating habits.

Enjoy a morning stroll along the banks of Bongil Creek with an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger in Bongil Bongil National Park and learn about the traditional use and value of the environment for food, hardware and medicine on the Bongil Bongil Bushtucker & Medicine Walk (July 5, 12 & 19).

Take the kids on a step back in time to the year 1820, where they’ll become convicts Bound for Botany at Kamay Botany Bay National Park (July 8 & 15). Watch the friendly rangers lead the group through role plays, games and a wild convict “escape.” The kids will learn about the early settlers’ lack of bush survival skills in vast contrast to those of Sydney’s Aboriginal people, with every little convict taking home a National Parks Certificate for the day.

Join a Discovery Ranger at Great Lakes Marine Park, Port Stephens for Jr Ranger Dangerous Marine Creatures Rockpool Ramble (July 9). Here the kids will learn all about some of the dangerous animals living under the sea, their adaptations for survival and how they can harm humans – in plenty of time before they hit the water next summer.

Whether your brood is interested in lighthouses, frogs, sunsets or koalas, NSW National Parks are offering day and night Discovery activities around the State, with something for everyone.

For more information on these and the wide range of winter school holiday Discovery activities on offer in NSW National Parks, visit www.wildwildworld.com.au. Bookings are essential for all Discovery activities and some may attract minimal fees.

What does biodiversity mean to you? Visit www.wildwildworld.com.au, click on the competitions link before June 25 and tell National Parks what you think it means to win a $100 voucher for Discovery activities around the State.

Discover Korea on a 10 day Photographic Tour with Discovery Travel


Whether you are a professional photographer, keen amateur or just wanting better holiday snaps the first ten day photographic tour of South Korea this autumn will provide a great chance to practise your skills and have a great holiday at the same time.

The tour organised by Discovery Travel is a ten day fully escorted tour departing from Australia on the 30th October, 2010 takes in the best season to visit Korea. Autumn is one of the most popular times to visit the country and for photographers the beauty of the autumn colours only adds to the photographic opportunities.

The tour starting from $3,950 per person share twin (conditions apply) visits all the major tourist regions of Korea starting with the capital Seoul. Visits are included to the famous Gyeongbok Royal Palace, National Museum, Jogyesa Temple, Insa-dong cultural street and shopping at the massive Namdaemun Market. Participants can enjoy a chance to learn how to cook Korean cuisine at Korea House.

Outside of the capital, a tour to the DMZ area with its 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observatory, Unification Village and Freedom Bridge give a great insight into the division between South and North Korea.

Tour participants then take the high speed KTO to Busan, Korea’s southernmost seaport and second largest city in Korea. Here visitors can enjoy the harbour city’s fantastic seafood, the famous Jagalchi Fish market which provides seafood to the whole of Korea and visit the UN Cemetery where some of Australia’s war-dead remain.
Just north of Busan is Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty which is more commonly known as a Museum without Walls for the wealth of historic tombs, temples and shrines that abound in the area. Here you can photograph the most beautiful Buddhist temple in the country as well as the sublime Seokguram Grotto Buddha.

From Gyeongju the tour takes in a visit to Golgulsa Temple, the Stone Buddha Temple where you can enjoy a templestay experience and experience life as a Buddhist monk. A visit north to Andong, famous for its Hahoe (Mask Dance) Village and traditional houses from the Joseon Dynasty is truly a photographer’s delight.

After the tour, you also have a chance to enter the Korea Tourism Organization annual photo contest which is held around June each year. Full details can be found on the official travel website for Korea www.visitkorea.or.kr

Further information on Discovery Travel’s ten day photographic tour of Korea can be obtained by contacting Discovery Travel Email: david@discoverytravel.com.au Ph: 02)8007-5187

Hear the Roar at the First Korean Grand Prix


Sportsnet Holidays, one of Australia’s largest sporting tour companies based in Melbourne is offering packages to the 2010 Korean F1 Grand Prix to be held on 24 October in Yeongam county, in the south-west corner of Korea. It will be the first time that the F1 Grand Prix tour includes Korea.

The brand new Korean F1 Grand Prix race-track in Yeongam County will have Asia’s longest straight stretch (1.2km) which will allow for speeds of up to 320km per hour. The circuit is being constructed on 425acres of reclaimed land alongside an artificial seaside lake.

The Korea International Circuit has added elements of Korean traditional design to the state-of-the-art motor sports facilities. The Grand Stand has a roof structure resembling the eaves of hanoks (traditional Korean styled houses). The circuit will accommodate 130,000 spectators at one time and is the largest of Korea’s domestic sports facilities in scale.

The Korean F1 Grand Prix circuit will run in a counter-clockwise direction whereas most F1 circuits run in a clockwise direction. However, some track circuits such as Turkey, Brazil, Singapore, Valencia, Abu Dhabi run in the anti-clockwise direction providing drivers with a new physical challenge and thus providing viewers with double the excitement.

If you are interested in participating in the Korean F1 Grand Prix, Sportsnet Holidays can assist with return airfares, accommodation and grandstand tickets for the first ever F1 Grand Prix to be held in Korea.

To book your tickets to the Korean F1 Grand Prix please contact Sportsnet Holidays Freecall 1300 888 858 or visit their website: www.sportsnetholidays.com

Further information on travelling in Korea as well as guidebook and map to the country can be obtained from Korea Tourism Organization Sydney office Ph: 02)9252-4147/8 or email: visitkorea@knto.org.au

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dine Under a Desert Moon at Kings Canyon Resort


Kings Canyon Resort is celebrating the arrival of clear autumn skies and cooler temperatures with the launch of a new gourmet Outback dining experience – Under a Desert Moon.

Imagine the romance of a table for two in a wilderness setting under a canopy of the Southern night sky. The only light comes from the moon and the flickering glow of the fire. The only sound is soft music intertwined with the whispering of the breeze through the Desert Oak trees and the crackling flames.

‘Under a Desert Moon’ is a new experience offering guests a gourmet dinner for two, with a six-course menu accompanied by fine Australian wines. It is designed for intimacy, with no more than eight couples dining on any one night.

Nibble on smoked gorgonzola puffs, kangaroo blini and peppered prawns as you toast the setting of the sun across Carmichael’s Crag. Then settle in at your private table for two for a delicately prepared menu of creations including beef tenderloin with foie gras and truffle oil or barramundi bouillabaisse with scallop, scampi and slipper lobster in a saffron bisque – accompanied by a matching selection of fine Australian wines. Other delicacies include a tantalising vermicelli laksa and a lemon myrtle and kiwi fruit sorbet.

Created by new Executive Chef Fia Takaia, under the guidance of new Resort General Manager Michael Sulser, the ‘Under a Desert Moon’ gourmet dining experience is designed to give guests the chance to really enjoy the magical experience of dining under the Outback stars, in a more intimate setting matched with an excellent menu.

Resort General Manager Michael Sulser said: “Our ‘Under a Desert Moon’ gourmet dining experience is receiving great reviews from our guests and praise for our new Executive Chef Fia Takaia.

“Kings Canyon is a beautiful destination, however the magic really starts when the sun sets, lighting up the deep reds and ochres of the Canyon range. The silence and space out here is breathtaking, and this is our way of rewarding guests with a very intimate and romantic special evening to mark the end of a day in the Canyon.”

New Zealand born Chef Fia Takaia took up the role of Executive Chef at Kings Canyon Resort in March, having been promoted from Sous Chef. Fia has a real love of the Australian outback and Kings Canyon, and her passion and creative flair is reflected in the finesse of her culinary skills. Prior to working at Kings Canyon Resort, Fia worked at Auckland’s Grand Chancellor Hotel as Sous Chef.

Swiss-born Michael Sulser has experience managing some of the most stunning nature-based properties around Australia, including Freycinet Lodge in Tasmania, Wilpena Pound Resort in South Australia, Karry Valley Resort and Rottnest Island Lodge in Western Australia and Long Island in Queensland. Prior to joining Kings Canyon Resort as General Manager, Michael Sulser managed the multi-award winning Tarraleah Highland Village and Lodge in Tasmania.

The six-course ‘Under a Desert Moon’ fine dining experience is priced at $148 per person and includes a selection of fine Australian wines.

Under a Desert Moon operates from April through to October. For more information go to:
http://www.kingscanyonresort.com.au/dining/firelight-en.html

About Kings Canyon Resort, Northern Territory:
Located in the Australian Outback, between Alice Springs and Uluru, Kings Canyon Resort is the perfect starting point from which to explore the wonders of Kings Canyon, with its ‘Lost City’ of rock domes, dramatic 270m sandstone vertical gorges and Garden of Eden oasis. Tracks and bush walks are dotted in and around the Canyon, offering keen bush walkers a real taste of adventure in the Outback.

Kings Canyon Resort is owned by Delaware North Australia Parks & Resorts, new owners of iconic Australian experiential resorts including Heron Island, El Questro Wilderness Park, El Questro Homestead, Lizard Island and Wilson Island.

Globally, Delaware North’s tourism portfolio includes iconic properties in North America, such as Yosemite, Sequoia, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks; Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex; Tenaya Lodge; Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa; Niagara Falls State Park; Jones Beach; The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake; Holiday Inn West Yellowstone; and Gideon Putnam Resort.

Classic Afternoon Tea Sets To Relax At Sky Lounge


It’s never too busy to enjoy life’s little moments! If you think it’s time for a break amid your hectic working schedule or a rest in between your shopping for the coming season’s wardrobe, savour the classic Afternoon Tea Sets with delicate treats and enjoy a tranquil moment in a lavish setting plus the picturesque harbour view, all at Sky Lounge of Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers.

Priced at HK$95 per set, Tea for One offers a selection of various choices for different flavours and tastes: Scone Set features homemade English Tea Scones served with clotted Cream, Strawberry Jam and fresh strawberries; Sweet Set delivers a sweet sensation for those who have a sweet tooth with 4 kinds of desserts which are Passionfruit Mousse, Rum & Raisin Cheese Cake, Grape & Mascarpone Tart and Fresh Strawberries; Savoury Set with 5 kinds of delectable samplings includes Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Sandwich, Honey-cured Bone Ham with Mustard Sandwich, Chicken Satays, Goat Cheese Roulade and Salmon Yakitori.

Share this wonderful moment with the Tea for Two at HK$175 per set and choose between Sweet Set and Mixed Set. The former one offers the same sweet delicacies in double portion, while the latter one contains both sweet and savoury bites, both in the classic 3-tir high tea ceramic set, to satisfy your cravings for every taste, including Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Sandwich, Honey-cured Bone Ham with Mustard Sandwich, Passionfruit Mousse, Rum & Raisin Cheese Cake, Grape & Mascarpone Tart and Fresh Strawberries.

Sky Lounge
Featuring the Italian designed and manufactured Enomatic Wine Dispensing System which offers 24 different wines by the glass at one time, Sky Lounge is the perfect place to enjoy Victoria Harbour’s spectacular sunsets along with fine wines, cocktails, refreshments, or afternoon tea in a sophisticated ambience. The dramatic interior is divided into four distinct areas (Wineroom, Viewing Lounge I & II and Zen Lounge) to suit a variety of moods.

Level 18, Sheraton Hong Kong Hotels & Towers
For reservations and enquiry, please call 2369-1111 ext. 4
http://www.sheraton.com/hongkong

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mercure Hotels Deliver The 'Gospel Truth' On Queensland Wines By Launching a New Dedicated Queensland Wine List

Mercure gives visitors to Queensland a true taste of the 'Sunshine State'

19 May 2010: The Mercure hotel group is the first major hotel group in Queensland to take the State's local wines seriously, with the launch of the 2010 "Grands Vins Mercure", a wine list dedicated to showcasing Queensland's increasingly attractive wines.

The new Queensland Grands Vins selection is available at Mercure hotels in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns, giving visitors a true taste of the Sunshine State. The wine list is changed twice yearly.

Wines come from a number of boutique wineries in the Stanthorpe region, recognised as Queensland's premier wine area, as well as from emerging wine regions such as South Burnett, the Darling Downs and the Gold Coast Hinterlands.

Reflecting Queensland wineries' experimentation with grape varieties and styles, the list includes varietals such as sylvaner and verdelho amongst the whites, along with more traditional chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and semillon selections. The reds include straight tempranillo and cabernet franc wines as well as merlot, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.

Accor Regional General Manager Queensland, Neil Scanlan, said that the launch of the new Queensland wine list was not only a vote of confidence in the Queensland wine industry, but also for Queensland tourism.

"Queensland wines have improved dramatically in recent years – and we have had a great reaction from guests since introducing the Queensland Grands Vins wine list a few years ago – but there is still reluctance by most hotels and restaurants to fully represent the State's wine produce," he said.

"When visitors come to Queensland they want to get an appreciation of the destination in many ways, and wine and food is very much part of the travel experience. While Queensland doesn't have the size of wine industry as its southern counterparts, it is really working hard to bring the wine and tourism experience together, as can be seen by the creation of the Strange Bird wine trail up to the Granite Belt. Even if visitors can't get to these wine areas, they can at least try them at a Mercure hotel.

"What is really important with the Grands Vins wine list is the pricing. We want to dispel the myth that good wine is only associated with high-end restaurants and high-end prices. Mercure's Grands Vins shows it is possible to enjoy great wines – many from smaller vineyards - at very attractive prices, by both the glass and by the bottle."

The Grands Vins wine list is designed to make wine selection easier, grouping wines in four particular styles – fresh and tasty; fruity and light; balanced & elegant and spicy and full bodies – to help guests choose the most suitable wine for every occasion and for every dish, while introducing wines from a range of distinctive wineries that guests might not otherwise have a chance to experience.

Every wine offered has been selected by an expert tasting panel comprising sommeliers, wine connoisseurs and food and beverage professionals, and, importantly, final judging is conducted with appropriate food courses to ensure the wines are "food friendly". Some 80% of wine sold at Mercure hotels is consumed with food, so compatibility with food was a major judging criteria.

The Mercure Grands Vins regional lists complement each hotel's standard wine list, which together provide a comprehensive range of Australian and international wines.

The launch of the Queensland Grands Vins list is part of a national roll-out of the concept, with State-based lists prepared for NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. Internationally, Mercure has been offering Grands Vins selections in Europe since 1983.

Escape to Queenstown for The Annual Winter Festival

Queenstown is a destination of natural beauty and New Zealand's premier winter playground, where the snow-peaked Southern Alps frame every vantage.

And there is never a better time to escape to the Adventure Holiday capital of the globe with the annual Queenstown Winter Festival.

Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel is joining in New Zealand's biggest winter party with their very own Winter Festival Accommodation Package. Enjoy a fabulous four night stay and only pay for three  at Queenstown's newest luxury, boutique Hotel from as little as $1590.00 (NZ) per a couple.

  The Winter Festival Package -- which is only available once a year -- includes a delicious a la carte breakfast each morning and pre-dinner drinks and canapés each evening. A 'Trust the Chef' lunch of four savory courses at Amisfield winery is also included, plus transport there and back provided by Alpine Taxis. Available June 25, 2010 until July 4, 2010.

The Winter Festival is a 10 day celebration of Queenstown's unique culture and community with street parties, fireworks, international and local acts, jazz, comedy, Mardi Gras, family fun, a Big Air Invitational and plenty of skiing and snowboarding.

Located in the heart of the Southern Lakes region – one of most diverse areas in the world is the award-winning 19-room Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel. On its door step is the famous Fiordland National Park which includes Milford Sound, an area known for its extraordinary scenic beauty.

Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel has also launched a new Health & Fitness in Paradise Package. Recharge your health and fitness regime with high quality personal training in the panoramic surrounds of Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure play-ground. 

Starting from just $2470.00 (NZ) the package includes a delicious breakfast each morning, cooked to order, pre-dinner drinks and delectable canapés each evening as well as four Personal Training sessions with Queenstown's most experienced, entertaining and results driven personal trainers. 

Also included is a relaxing soak at Onsen private indoor/outdoor hot pools plus an in-room massage for two from Queenstown massage professionals, Body Sanctum. Available July 5, 2010 until October 31, 2010. 

Whether your preference is gym-based training, outdoor based training, boxing, tennis or open-water swimming in summer your trainer has it all covered. An introductory and goal-setting session on arrival is included and four hour long sessions allocated to suit your itinerary. A restaurant guide will also be provided specially tailored to those who enjoy eating well, both for their taste buds and their waist line. 

This stylish, sophisticated urban design hotel offers guests a high level of personal service and offers all you would expect from a leading hotel with urban design and flair, stunning mountain views, central location, hosted personal service, entertaining lounge with fireplace, complimentary pre-dinner drinks and canapés, gourmet breakfasts and gourmet grocery/picnic packs customized to suit your needs.

Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel has recently been awarded the prestigious 2010 TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Award for Best Service - South Pacific and Luxury - South Pacific. The Travellers' Choice Awards are the only hotel awards based on the reviews and opinions of millions of travellers.

For more information visit: www.queenstownparkhotel.co.nz or call: +64 (03) 441 8441
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