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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

FINE CRUISING AMSTERDAM, BORDEAUX AND FRENCH WINELANDS

A WEEK aboard the world's highest-rated boutique motor-cruiser from Amsterdam to Bordeaux, and 6-nights through the French Winelands on a deluxe 9-cabin hotel barge, are the focus of a unique fully-escorted 21-day fly/cruise for just eight couples (or couples and singles) in July next year.

As well there'll be two nights in Amsterdam with a day's tour of the "windmill village" of Zaanse Schans and the famous Alkmaar Friday cheese market, a night in Bordeaux with a day-tour of local wineries, and two nights in Epernay for a day sightseeing and tasting in the Champagne and Reims wine regions.

And to round it out, return Business Class air travel is included from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth, and 5-star hotels in Amsterdam, Bordeaux and Epernay.

The 7-night sailing on the 112-passenger SeaDream I visits the French port of Honfleur, Jersey in the Channel Islands, the-once notorious pirate base of Saint-Malo on the French north-west coast, Belle Ille in the Brittany Islands, and ancient La Rochelle, before reaching Bordeaux; drinks from the open bars, and wines with meals are all included throughout the week.

After Bordeaux guests transfer to Dijon in Burgundy from where the 9-cabin hotel barge Esprit sails to Ouges, Brazny, Seurre, Chalon, Chagny and St Leger with daily escorted winery tours and tastings, and select other historic sightseeing including Epernay. Meals aboard Esprit include regional wines and there will be three gourmet dinners ashore.

The tour will be escorted throughout by Australian travel and wine writer, David Ellis. Prices start from $31,400pp twin-share ex-Sydney or Melbourne, $31,360 ex-Perth including all meals, transfers, guides, entries and gratuities; phone 1800 083 141 for a brochure or visit www.farhorizons.com.au

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

EASTERN CREEK CELEBRATES 50 YEARS OF AUSSIE RACING MUSCLE THIS FATHER'S DAY


Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway will once again play host to Australia's largest gathering of racing muscle cars from as early as the 1960s - Muscle Car Masters.

Muscle Car Masters is a celebration of Australia's rich motoring heritage and a tribute to the drivers who raced.

Held on Father's Day, 5 September, this year's Muscle Car Masters celebrates 50 years of the Australian Touring Car Championship.

The event will feature a one-off 50th Anniversary handicap race that will see the best muscle cars from the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s pitted against each other in a race to settle the old argument - just what era of racing was the best?

Chief executive of the Australian Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) and Eastern Creek Raceway Glenn Matthews said this year's Muscle Car Masters would be the biggest yet.

"Now entering its sixth year, Muscle Car Masters has become a must-see event in Australia's motor racing calendar," said Mr Matthews.

"Each year the event attracts more competitors, exhibitors and most importantly fans.

"Muscle Car Masters is a motor racing event for all ages - giving Dads an opportunity to relive the racing of old and introduce it to their sons," said Mr Matthews.

"Muscle Car Masters prides itself on offering something for everyone, be it a racing fan, car enthusiast or an owner who wishes to show off their pride and joy," Mr Matthews said.

Other events scheduled for Father's Day recreate the traditional battles of old as Ford Falcon GT-HOs compete against arch rivals in the form of Holden's Monaro, XU1 Torana and the Valiant R/T Charger.

Further racing will include the Touring Car Masters, Group C and Group A Bathurst Touring Cars and Historic Touring Cars from the 1960s and '70s.

Racing legends appearing on the day will include Bob Jane, Colin Bond, Allan Moffat, John French, Harry Firth, Leo Geoghegan, Alan Grice, Kevin Bartlett, Jim Richards, Barry and Glenn Seton, John Harvey, John Bowe, Murray Carter, Bob Morris, Bob Holden, David Parsons, Wayne Gardner, Neil Crompton and Jim and Steven Richards.

Off-track activities include a show-and-shine display featuring Australia's best road-registered muscle cars along with trade sites offering race fan merchandise.

Tickets are available at the gate. For further information visit www.musclecarmasters.com.au

What: Muscle Car Masters
When: Father's Day, Sunday 5 September
Where: Eastern Creek Raceway
Tickets: Adults $40, Concession $25, Children 12-and-under free

Free trackside parking
Free entry to competitor paddock
Free entry to grandstand

PRIVE 249 AWARDED 'BEST NEW RESTAURANT' AT 2010 RESTAURANT & CATERING AWARDS

SOFITEL BRISBANE CENTRAL

Positively Parisian restaurant, Privé 249, located at Sofitel Brisbane Central hotel, has been awarded 'Best New Restaurant' at the 2010 Queensland Restaurant & Catering Awards for Excellence.

Launched in September last year, French flavoured Privé 249 was awarded the prestigious prize in the 'Best restaurant for under 50 guests' category.

Sofitel Brisbane Central General Manager Tony Chisholm says, "This award is wonderful acknowledgment that salutes the intimate dining style, superior service and elegant atmosphere that defines the Privé 249 experience. We strive each day for quality, simplicity and authenticity so I am pleased for the team to have them recognised for this.

"it's a terrific achievement for them. The amazing ability of our Chef de Cuisine Mathieu Astier and excellent service and leadership of our Restaurant Manager Francois Laran is an unbeatable combination."

Chef Mathieu Astier - who credits his passion for cooking to his inspirational teachers, which include the famed Regis Marcon and Joel Robuchon - spent much of his life in Monte Carlo, working throughout 1 to 3 star Michelin restaurants, before relocating to Brisbane in 2007 and joining the Privé 249 launch team in 2009.

Astier says, "This is a magnifique moment for Privé. The award is an early gift for us all as we prepare to celebrate our first anniversary on the Brisbane restaurant  scene next month, and we couldn't be prouder.

"My focus has always been on using the absolute best product available in the market, so I am lucky to have South East Queensland and its bounty of fresh local produce available locally on my doorstep. This has been vitally important in allowing me the freedom to explore and create memorable menus that present distinct and palatable flavours for our guests."

Privé 249 fabulous and authentic French approach infuses every aspect of the restaurant, from the cuisine on offer through to the way personal and professional European approach of its staff ensuring that every evening is an unforgettable gourmet experience for guests.  

The restaurant boasts a tantalising menu of French inspired Australian cuisine. Seating up to 50 guests the restaurant's floor to ceiling windows frame magnificent city views, overlooking Brisbane Central Clock Tower and the historic Anzac Square.

The intimate restaurant has been created by partitions of beaded curtains. By day natural light streams through the windowed wall and by night the mood is transformed with dramatic Italian chandeliers and giant candles. Black glass tabletops are set with white china and Italian titanium cutlery – a striking mix of gold and silver.

In celebration of Brisbane's continuing love affair with French cuisine, Mathieu Astier will open his kitchen at Privé 249  to visiting chef Alain Fabrègues next week to host a lavish dinner event showcasing highlight recipes selected from Fabrègues new cookbook "Degustation" cookbook.. The "Privé 249 Degustation Dinner, featuring Alain Fabrègues" will take place for one night only on Tuesday the 24th of August and will serve up four delectable courses with matching wines, coffee and petit fours to finish. Dinner guests will also receive a complimentary signed copy of 'Degustation' as a memento of the night. This special event is priced at $199 per person.

Booking for all events are essential and subject to availability. To make a reservation at Privé 249 call 07 3835 4444 or visit www.sofitelbrisbane.com.au for more information.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Norfolk Island World Heritage Holiday Offer

Hot Heritage Deal to Celebrate Norfolk

Island's Amazing World Heritage Listing

Norfolk Island's historic Kingston and Arthur's Vale Heritage Area (KAVHA) has just joined UNESCO's World Heritage Listing, and to celebrate Australians are being offered a valued-packed stay in an historic 4.5 star, award winning homestead directly linked to Bounty mutineer Fletcher Christian.

Omniche Holiday's CEO Mat Christian Bailey is offering Christian's of Bucks Point, a beautifully restored, three-bedroom home overlooking Ball Bay, for seven night stays with hire car, airport meet and greet, three Baunti Escape island tours and all pre-payable taxes from $1515 per person quad share, bookable now for travel from September 1 to March 31 next year.

"KAVHA's inclusion on the World Heritage List will lift tiny Norfolk Island into a whole new league by giving it unprecedented importance in world heritage and tourism terms," said Mr Christian Bailey, a direct descendent of the Bounty mutiny leader.

"We are delighted with the decision and have put together a great holiday package for history lovers wanting to learn more about Norfolk Island's rich penal and maritime heritage."

Now an external territory of Australia, Norfolk Island was used as a penal settlement by the British Government for more than 60 years from 1788.  Its fine convict-built Georgian buildings are still used today, as administrative centres, museums, private homes and the Norfolk Island Parliament.

Norfolk Air operates regular Boeing 737 flights from Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney and Melbourne while Air New Zealand flies a weekly A320 service from Auckland. 

To book or for extra pricing information Omniche Holidays on 1800 111 653 or visit www.omnicheholidays.com.  For extra information on KAVHA and the World Heritage Listing see www.kavha.gov.nf and www.heritage.gov.au.  

Formerly known as Norfolk & Pacific Holidays, Omniche is a Brisbane-based travel wholesaler specialising in holidays to Norfolk Island, Lord Howe Island, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu. 

Photo shows part of Norfolk Island's UNESCO-listed Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historical Area.

Best Western Portal Hotel Launches Australia's First "Ladies Only" Floor

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Call them sexist, but one Brisbane hotel is giving female guests preferential treatment - by offering them access to their very own, gorgeously girlie "Ladies Only" floor.

In what is believed to be an Australian first, the Best Western Portal Hotel is one of a handful of international hotels catering for the growing number of independent female travellers who demand luxury and security in equal measure.

According to owner Georgie Woods, the decision to ban boys - from one floor at least - was based on demand within the market. "These days, women account for around 40 percent of Australia's business travellers - that's a lot of ladies travelling alone, often in unfamiliar cities without a good working knowledge of the area," Ms Woods said.

It's not surprising, then, to learn that 60 percent of women identify safety as their main concern when choosing travel accommodation.

"It goes without saying that security on our Ladies Only floor is paramount - but as we don't have to worry about appealing to male guests, we've also had a lot of fun designing a feminine haven packed with girlie treats that only a female guest could truly appreciate!"

Heightened security is provided by secure access elevator keycards and even the hotel staff employed to carry out duties on the floor are exclusively female. Rooms have been designed with a female aesthetic in mind and each features a fresh seasonal bloom, scented candle, waffle robe and slippers, complimentary women's magazines and a refresher unwind pack featuring organic beauty products and MOR bathroom products. Cloud 9 GHD hair straighteners and yoga mats are available on request and can be purchased at the end of the stay.

In place of the standard minibar is the Portal PamperBar, featuring an extensive range of Yuva organic beauty products, Yealands Way Carbon Zero wine range made by award-winning female winemaker Tamra Washington and hair dressing services available from leading Brisbane salon Vogue Nationale.

Conveniently located within a stone's throw of Brisbane's central business district, the Best Western Portal Hotel boasts 84 individual rooms - 11 of which are dedicated Ladies Only accommodation. The hotel itself has just undergone a quarter of a million dollar refurbishment, transforming it from humdrum city lodgings into a stylish boutique destination filled with bespoke furniture and antique pieces.

Antique solid steel gates, once 'the portal' to a 19th century Parisian mansion, provide an intriguing front entrance, while original artwork and cleverly contrasting interiors ensure every corner of The Portal has been thoughtfully designed.

Free wireless internet, iPod docking stations in every room and a specialised turndown service also come as standard. Guests can also enjoy the culinary delights on offer at the "O" Bar and Restaurant, the latest venture from the restaurateurs behind Brisbane's favourite breakfast venue the Gunshop Café.

For more information or, to book accommodation at the Best Western Portal Hotel, call 131 779 (from Australia), 0800 237 893 (from New Zealand) or log on to www.bestwestern.com.au/portalhotel

Lynx launches ultimate 'mancation' destination


ULTIMATE MAN-CATION DESTINATION OPENS IN AUSTRALIA

Sadly, for many guys, holidays or weekend getaways can often mean romantic strolls on the beach, sightseeing, endless hours of shopping and uncomfortable talks about their feelings.

Yet the popularity of guys-only travel is rapidly rising in Australia with a growing number of men getting in touch with their primal roots and bonding with their mates on 'man-cations', according to the results of a new independent national study.  The study of 500 men revealed that 66% have taken a guys-only holiday with their friends in the last two years with another 56% saying a man-trip is on the cards in the next year.

Top man-cation activities cited by respondents include: drinking and partying (57%), male bonding (56%), watching sports (26%), 'adrenaline' activities (25%), playing practical jokes (25%) and gambling (21%).

'What happens on tour stays on tour' is the overriding rule of man-cations, with 54% of guys saying they withhold information from their partners regarding man-cation mischief. And having a break from their other halves is a key part of the appeal, with one in four (24%) guys saying that this is one of their favourite things about a boys' holiday.

A unique male travel concept will launch this November letting guys holiday like men at a lakeside lodge. The Lynx Lodge at Lake Macquarie, NSW, is kitted out with everything a guy could want in a manly getaway – pool table, spa, jetty and a highly trained team of lodging staff who also happen to be stunning part-time models.

Lodge staff will not only serve breakfast in bed and clean rooms, they'll party with guests, take them to the best fishing spots and help them improve their golf handicap.  Lynx Lodge is a refuge for guys who want to be pampered, but still feel like men.

Services

- Breakfast in bed served daily

- Free sexy wake up calls from Lodge staffers

- On the spot back rubs available on request

Activities/Entertainment

- Relax in the hot tub with Lodge staff

- Shoot pool, golf, fish, play volleyball with your mates and the girls

- Kick back and enjoy our evening entertainment, including staff pillow fights and games of Twister

As part of the launch, Lynx Lodge is giving one lucky guy and seven friends the chance to be the first to christen the Lodge with a free weekend stay in November.

For more information or to enquire about a reservation, please visit www.lynxlodge.com.au.

Couples Sensory Escape Packages at Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach

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Love and indulgence is in the air this spring at the Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach with a Sensory Escape Package on offer to banish the last of the winter blues.

Sofitel Sensory Escape Package is designed to rejuvenate winter spirits and bodies alike combining accommodation and a couples spa experience.

The package includes overnight accommodation in a Superior Ocean View Room, full buffet breakfast for two adults, a bottle of Moet and Chandon champagne, plus an exclusive couples experience at Harbour Day Spa.

The Harbour Day spa package features access to a Roman bath, steam room and sauna, followed by a body polish, back, neck and shoulder massage, and paraffin hand and foot therapy, complimented with a glass of rose nectar infused champagne for her and an ice cold beer for him once treatments are concluded.

Sofitel is offering the package from A$695 per couple per night. The offer is valid for sale and stays from now until 30 November 2010.

To make a reservation, call the hotel direct on +61 7 5592 2250. To find out more about the hotel's specials, visit www.sofitelgoldcoast.com.au

Sofitel is idyllically positioned in the centre of thriving Broadbeach, only 200 metres from the beach, beachside parks and Broadbeach's array of savvy shops, cafes and restaurants. It features access by monorail to Jupiters Casino and is just a short stroll to the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Refined and elegant, from the moment you enter the foyer, Sofitel Gold Coast's understated style is impressive with its spectacular eight metre high three-dimensional artworks and divine sculptured flowers arrangements.

The hotel features 295 beautifully appointed guest rooms, including 4 executive suites and 17 luxury ocean spa rooms. All offer breathtaking Pacific Ocean or Hinterland views and exude comfort with contemporary furnishings, individually controlled air-conditioning, stunning marble bathrooms with separate bath and shower, private balconies, LCD televisions and movie channels with high-speed internet connection.

Hotel facilities include the chic and award winning lounge/bar/kitchen concept - Room81, and the recently relaunched Bistro On3 restaurant on the hotel's pool deck level, serving international cuisine and alfresco and indoor dining.

With two magnificent pools - one heated to a glorious 24 degrees, spa and relaxation area set overlooking the entire Coastal region, guests are certainly spoilt for choice.

*Subject to availability, must be booked 3 days prior to arrival.

www.sofitel.com

ART ON THE ISLAND V FESTIVAL - FIJI FESTIVAL CELEBRATES INDIGENOUS ARTWORK AT SOFITEL

Artists from across Fiji are saying bula to brushstrokes and trading their kava for carving tools in preparation for ART ON THE ISLAND V set to take place at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa in October 2010.

One of the biggest events on Fiji's cultural calendar, ART ON THE ISLAND V is a celebration of Fiji's artistic talent, presented by local arts charity CreatiVITI in association with Sofitel Luxury Hotels.

A gala event to launch the eight-day exhibition at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa will take place on Friday the 1st of October. Tickets to the gala launch are F$20 per person.  The visual and heritage arts event, which includes craft markets, will be open for Sofitel guests and the public to enjoy until Saturday the 9th of October 2010.

ART ON THE ISLAND V spokesperson and CreatiVITI Secretary Maria Rova says, "Our mission is to develop arts and crafts in Fiji through training, promotion and the enjoyment of creative expression in a setting accessible to the whole community.

"Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa has always been very supportive of the arts community in Fiji, and this upcoming exhibition a great way for us to further showcase Fiji's emerging art talent to the world."

A celebrated artist in her own right, Maria Rova's work is on permanent display at the Sofitel.

Other Fijian artists who will showcase their work at the hotel as part of the exhibition include local painter Joe Bilbu, and drawings by Lautoka artist Apimeleki Vakarau, a quadriplegic (victim of a rugby accident) and talented artist who draws while lying on a mattress on the floor, using ink pen on bark cloth. Previously commissioned by Sofitel to create artworks for display in guest rooms, Api's minute pen strokes reflect the very limited movement he has left in his arms and hands, making him an inspiration in person and on paper.

General Manager Adam Laker says, "Maria Rova and  Apimeleki Vakarau are two of many local artists featured on walls in public spaces and in guest rooms at the Sofitel.

"Maria was one of the first artists we supported when we launched the resort in 2006, and indeed her colour and creativity is still one of the first things our guests see when they check in, with a huge Rova original on display directly behind our reception desk to greet visitors on arrival.

"In addition we have many other local artists' work on display in each and every guest room at the hotel. For Sofitel it's a simple yet important way for us to support the local arts community and ensure that Fijian culture permeates the hotel and inspires our visitors each and every day."

CreatiVITI is a membership-based organisation representing artists from across Fiji and home to Fiji's only pottery production studio, with showroom, mini-gallery and a crafts garden hosting demonstrations and classes.

The organisation specialises in custom ceramic commissions and promoting local artists paintings, pottery, drawings, sculpture, handicrafts, pottery classes CreatiVITI also runs kids craft activities, , seasonal craft markets in addition to its annual art competition.

As Denarau's most sophisticated international resort, the Sofitel blends traditional French influences that are the hallmark of the Sofitel Luxury Hotels brand with more exotic Fijian charms to offer a choice of modern facilities that extend to a Mandara Day Spa retreat, the world's first Pure Fiji concept store, the Turtle Club for kids, plus an impressive line up of award winning restaurants, bars and new sidewalk café Parisienne.

Rooms to stay at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa during the ART ON THE ISLAND V event are priced from AUD$300 per night. To book, visit www.sofitelfiji.com.fj

2010 PATA GOLD AWARD WIN FOR SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI

WINNER IN the HERITAGE CATEGORY

The Sofitel Legend Metropole will glitter again at the PATA Gold Awards 2010 ceremony, taking place on 17th September in Macau, when it accepts a prestigious gold award in the Heritage category.

The award lauds the hotel for its refurbishment of one of Southeast Asia's most treasured properties. Sofitel relaunched the Metropole in 2009 as the hotel group's first Legend property.

"The challenge for any hotel in the Heritage category is achievement of a very delicate balance between celebration of historical charm, and satisfaction of tomorrow's expectation," said Kai Speth, General Manager of the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. "Where so many hotels are only thinking about today and tomorrow, we have an obligation to think about today, tomorrow and yesterday. The PATA Award persuades us that we're on the right track."

The legendary Metropole's refurbishment maintained the original architecture since 1901, enhanced with the development of new facilities, the creation of themed suites and a range of guest's experience according to the way of living heritage within the spirit of centennial establishment. The restoration began in 2004 and was revealed as a "fait accompli" last year with the Legend launch.

The new facilities at the Metropole include, Angelina, a chic Italian restaurant that raised the bar on sophisticated nightlife in Hanoi. The hotel also opened Le Spa du Metropole last year. Remarkably, this was the first spa to be opened in the hotel's 108-year history.

The Metropole's themed suites indulge the property's connections to legendary people like Charlie Chaplin, Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene, each of whom stayed at the hotel. Located in the historic, 1901-built wing, each of these suites is imbued with colonial-era aesthetics.

"When you're in the Graham Greene suite, it's not that difficult to imagine him sitting here, churning out the 500 words he was reputed to do every day like clockwork," said Speth. "Being able to imagine that – to fall into that time warp, if you will — is exactly the kind of spell we're trying to cast." Kai added.

www.sofitel-legend.com 


Hilton Brisbane Frocks Up with Valentino



'Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future' is a major exhibition exploring the work of the celebrated Italian fashion house Valentino, known the world over for its sophisticated, timeless design and glamorous clientele.

Exclusive to Brisbane, the exhibition is showing until November 12, and features a stunning array of haute couture designs tracing Valentino's career from the 1959 opening of his fashion house in Rome to the presentation of his final collection in January 2008.
Also included are recent designs from the house of Valentino - highlighting the future direction of this most esteemed fashion house.

Designs from house of Valentino have been coveted and worn by European royalty, Hollywood celebrities and members of high society the world over. This magnificent exhibition includes garments worn by stars such as Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and more.

Exhibition designed and realised by Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris, with the assistance of the Valentino fashion house. Organised in Australia by the Queensland Art Gallery and Art Exhibitions Australia.

Hilton Brisbane has partnered with the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art to bring you this fashionable package - Valentino Minibreak including deluxe accommodation for two, breakfast the following morning in The Atrium and two tickets to the exhibition, all this from $270 per room per night, twin share*

Heighten your experience and upgrade to our revitalised Executive Plus Rooms for an additional $140 including access to the lounge, breakfast the following morning, refreshments throughout the day and pre-dinner drinks and canapés.

To make your reservation phone 1300 445 866 and quote PR44VM or visit www.hilton.com/brisbaneoffers

*Subject to availability, valid 7 August - 14 November 2010

The Kayumanis Journey Continues at Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa for Family Travellers



Kayumanis Group takes great pleasure to announce that Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa is now open for guests of all ages.

The Kayumanis brand has always been marketed as an adult orientated collection of private villas. Catering to the needs of honeymooners and couples has been the main focus for of the three properties under the Kayumanis banner. However, many of these travellers now have children with whom they would like to experience the island of Bali and enjoy a quality vacation that recaptures the spirit of a previous visit. Therefore, Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa has been chosen to evolve with each growing family by welcoming young travellers to the property.

The concept of anticipating the needs of return guests and their family members at Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa will be phased in over the coming months and initially commence with a selection of added value privileges. Guests will be entitled to complimentary tea, coffee, milk, juice and snacks at Tapis Restaurant and Lounge during the day. There will also be complimentary sunset cocktails served at Tapis between 6pm and 8pm daily.

In addition, there will be complimentary laundry and dry cleaning for in-house guests and accompanying children. Each villa will have its own complimentary mini-bar filled with non-alcoholic refreshments that will be replenished daily. Personalised transportation with child-friendly seating will also be available within the Jimbaran, Nusa Dua and Kuta areas.

Over the ensuing months Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa will unveil a two bedroom villa category with age appropriate facilities. There are also plans for a new restaurant with gallery and retail outlet as well as a spa centre with additional treatment rooms.

The sheer size of Kayumanis Jimbaran with its open grassed areas and shady coconut palms simply lends itself to family activities. The gentle waters of Jimbaran Bay are also within easy walking distance offering a great day of sun, sea and sand for travellers with children.

Meanwhile, Kayumanis Ubud as well as Kayumanis Nusa Dua Private Villa & Spa will both remain adult targeted destinations for honeymooners and couples to enjoy a romantic escape.

90 Years Young For Adelaide's Iconic Mercure Grosvenor Hotel



Special 90th birthday savings of $100 per night!

The iconic Mercure Grosvenor Hotel Adelaide is turning 90 this month and celebrating with a birthday special for its guests. Stay for just $90 per person per night and enjoy accommodation in a Deluxe Room, sparkling wine in your room on arrival, an in-house movie of your choice, breakfast for two in Federal Restaurant, with parking included. That's a saving of over $100!

For bookings visit www.mercuregrosvenorhotel.com.au or phone 08 8407 8888 or toll free 1800 888 222. The offer is valid until 30 December 2010, subject to availability (based on twin share).

For Adelaide locals, drop in to the Mercure's Federal Restaurant and enjoy a hearty 1920's inspired three-course meal for just $90 for two people. The meal includes a soup of the day, a choice of two mains and two desserts and a glass of wine from the Grands Vins regional wine list featuring the finest South Australian wines.

The grand dame of Adelaide, Mercure Grosvenor Hotel Adelaide enjoys a prime position on North Terrace opposite Sky City Casino and the Adelaide Convention Centre and just minutes from of Rundle Mall shopping precinct.

About the Mercure Grosvenor Hotel Adelaide:
The Grosvenor Hotel officially opened its doors in 1920. To mark the opening, which coincided with the visit of the then Prince of Wales, the Grosvenor provided accommodation for over 300 people which made it the largest in South Australia and the fourth largest in Australia.
It's prime position was realised early by radio announcers who began to relay commentary of cricket games at the Adelaide Oval by positioning themselves on the Grosvenor's roof and looking north over Adelaide Oval with a strong pair of binoculars!

The Grosvenor endured the Great Depression throughout the 1930s. Jobs were scarce and employment at the Grosvenor was considered an especially prestigious position. Prime Minister John Curtin had a special place in his heart for the Grosvenor and stayed there whenever he visited Adelaide during this period. When he died in 1945 the Grosvenor was even mentioned in his eulogy.

Around 1942 American soldiers were billeted on the first floor of the Grosvenor, en route to war in New Guinea and the whole atmosphere of the hotel changed - tap dancing in the foyer and silk stockings were plentiful again!

Since its very early days the Grosvenor catered for public dinners, balls and banquets including the Order of the British Empire Dinners attended by Dame Roma Mitchell. Adelaide born and bred, Dame Roma became Australia's first female Queen's Counsel and the first Commonwealth female Supreme Court Judge.

In 1977 the Grosvenor as we know it today started to take shape. The entire first floor, which until this time had been permanent residential rooms, was converted to a convention and function floor at a cost of $2.5 Million. This made the hotel one of the first to offer conference facilities into a market that was only just developing.
Today the Grosvenor still cherishes its rich heritage providing its guests with an authentic experience of Adelaide's bygone era with modern day creature comforts and service.

Countdown to Audi Hamilton Island Race Week



All aboard with Collette Dinnigan, Miranda Otto, Matt Moran and Shannon Bennett

With less than one week to go, entries have topped the 200 mark for boats racing at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, Australia's largest and most awarded offshore keelboat regatta, on Friday 20 - Saturday 28 August 2010.

Highlights of the 27th annual regatta will be the new Superyacht division which includes Lang Walker's brand new 58-metre sloop, Kokomo, as well as four-time Rolex Sydney to Hobart winner, Wild Oats XI.

Onshore the atmosphere will be just as exciting with a social program comprising of fashion events, culinary master classes, sports clinics and wine tastings. Highlights will include an exclusive showing of Collette Dinnigan's Cruise Collection 2010 with an introduction by leading actress Miranda Otto and presented by Audi. Celebrity chefs, Matt Moran and Shannon Bennett, will host Chefs Table Dinners and spectators can rub shoulders with TV and sporting personalities such as Sandra Sully, Mark Beretta, Matt Burke and Tourism Queensland's 'Best Job in the World' winner, Ben Southall.

Fashion:
Fashionistas can receive styling tips from model and designer Gail Elliott at her 'Little Joe Woman' trunk show or drop into the Pandora Marquee for jewellery styling workshops with Harper's BAZAAR and ModelCo. In true Race Week style, some crew members will become newbie models strutting the catwalk in the Henri Lloyd 2010 Spring / Summer collection. Also, ModelCo will offer free makeovers in its Styling Suite, by appointment, prior to most major events.

Gourmet:
Foodies will be treated to a series of Chefs Table Dinners in the new Yacht Club's Bommie restaurant by celebrity chefs Matt Moran from acclaimed Aria restaurant and Melbourne's Shannon Bennett from Vue de monde. The dinners will be hosted by TV personality Sandra Sully, and Australian rugby union champion, Matt Burke.

Special guest, Captain Andy Hillstrand, from highly-watched US TV deep sea fishing series will regale audiences once again at the popular Deadliest Catch Dinner with personal stories about the ones that didn't get away!

Entertainment:
The hottest party at this year's Audi Hamilton Island Race Week will be the Beachside Pool Party - with tunes from DJ Simon Philby, cocktails and a live flair show by world champion mixologist, Hayden Wood, followed by live-music from Sydney-based band Alexandra Project. On qualia's Pebble Beach there will be a Barefoot Black-tie Dinner where spectators can enjoy a degustation menu and a live performance by singer and popular TV personality, Erika Heynatz.

Sport:
Spectators can take a break from sailing by practicing their swing with a golf clinic by resident golf-pro, Cherie Byrnes or gather friends to enter the 4-person Callaway Ambrose Golf Team competition at the new Hamilton Island Golf Club. Located on neighbouring Dent Island, it's Australia's only 18 hole championship golf course on its own island and designed by five-time British Open winner, Peter Thomson AO, CBE.

Tennis enthusiasts can sharpen their serve with clinics held by legendary Australian tennis champion, Wayne Arthurs, at the Hamilton Island Sports Centre.

Audi Final Challenge:
On Lay Day, Tuesday 24 August, head to Hamilton Island's 'Great Barrier Reef Airport' runway to watch a thrilling drive test challenge devised by Audi's motorsport champion, Brad Jones. To win the major prize at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, a new Audi S5 Sportback valued at $80,000, all crews must demonstrate skills both in sailing and driving with the final winner being chosen from the divisional winners and the Final Challenge. The winning crew will be announced at the Presentation Dinner on the regatta's final day.

Election voting: As Audi Hamilton Island Race Week falls during the federal election (scheduled for 21 August), competitors and spectators will be able to cast their votes at a special polling booth on Front Street at Hamilton Island. Voting times will be from 0900 - 1700 on Friday 20 August and 0800 - 1800 on Saturday 21 August.

To book accommodation or event tickets to Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, please visit www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au or www.hamiltonisland.com.au

Keogh's and Orchard Lifts Open at Hotham



With 42cm of fresh snowfalls in the last week and a solid average natural snowdepth of 88cm, Hotham is excited to announce that Keogh's and Orchard chairlifts will open on Wednesday 18 August for the first time in 2010.

Belinda Trembath, Mount Hotham Skiing Company General Manager said, "The opening of these lifts will give access to a greater area of intermediate terrain for Hotham guests to enjoy including Mitchell's, Bushwacker and Zirk's at the Orchard, plus the popular Keogh's Bash".

More snow is predicted to fall from Wednesday through until the weekend to top up the snow cover.

This weekend will see a great lineup of events including the FIS Australian and New Zealand Ski X Weekend where world class competitors will race down Hotham's purpose built rider cross course under the Road Runner Chairlift. The Biathlon Fun Sprints Weekend will also take place at Hotham's Biathlon Range at Whiskey Flat and is the last 'on snow' biathlon event for 2010.

Hotham is also gearing up to host our first Gay Short Ski Week with the Frosty Fruits Ski Trip set to arrive in town on Thursday. Plenty of groomed action is expected both on and off the slopes.

With all this new snow and more lifts turning Hotham is shaping up for a great September school holidays. Hotham Holidays has the following great packages:

Spring break in the Snow
From $686* per adult and $586* per child, includes:
5 nights accommodation in a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment
5 day all mountain lift pass & equipment hire + FREE half day skiing on day of arrival from 1pm**
5 adult group lessons OR 5 half day Kids Snowzone
*Price per person based on 6 share. Valid 10 Sept - 3 Oct 2010. Subject to availability. Quote Code: V5N2BAS.
** Sunday check-in only

Heading up for the weekend? Book this deal today with Hotham Holidays:
Escape this weekend from $855* per adult and $716* per child includes:
2 nights accommodation in a White Crystal 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment
2 day all mountain lift pass and equipment hire
2 adult group lessons OR 2 half day Kids Snowzone
*Price per person based on 4 share. Valid 20 - 22 August 2010. Subject to availability. Quote Code: P2NHEW1.

To book either of these great packages call the Hotham Holidays team on 1800 hotham or email holidays@hotham.com.au

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Central Asia rail tour from RailPlus



Rail Plus, Australasia's largest supplier of rail product, has added the 14-day Journey through Central Asia tour to its Great Train Journeys of the World portfolio.

The trip is from Ashgabat in Turkmenistan to Astana in Kazakhstan and presents the cultures of the legendary Silk Road and some seven UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Rail Plus' national sales and marketing manager Greg McCallum expects the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (from $3700 per person), The Royal Scotsman (from $3940 per person) and Rocky Mountaineer (from $719 per person) will again be the best sellers in 2011.

"Generally, the demand for exotic and luxury rail journeys is growing, especially through the discerning baby boomer and group incentive markets," he said.

"While offering access to some really wonderful regions of the world, there is a strong sense of indulgence and bragging rights with these fabulous rail experiences. When we introduced this range a few years ago, we proclaimed that the product was akin to the cruise experience and we believe the market is endorsing that sentiment."

The price is from $4790 per person which includes five nights in upper middle or first class hotels, seven nights on the train in a two-berth sleeper, 36 meals, sightseeing and entrance fees, guided transfers, lunch/dinner with an Uzbek and a Turkmen family as well as in a Madrasah with folklore, wine and vodka tasting.

This tour departs on April 19, 2011.

Stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Tien Shan Mountains, the Central Asian countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are richly endowed with history and culture.

For further information on Rail Plus' Great Train Journeys of the World program including luxury trains in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Africa, India, New Zealand and Australia, see www.railplus.com.au

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Alice Desert Festival celebrating 10th anniversary with extensive program


The Alice Desert Festival is Central Australia’s premier arts and culture festival, celebrating the desert and its peoples.

From September 10 – 19, the 2010 Alice Desert Festival will share the stories, songs and unique lifestyle of Central Australia’s arid region. Featuring a vibrant program borne out of the desert landscape, the event allows for the dynamic exchange between cultures in the heart of Australia.

Artists, dancers and musicians from some of the most remote communities in Central Australia will travel to the Alice Desert Festival. Highlights of the 2010 program include a concert by emerging female Indigenous artists, Desert Divas, along with the Bush Bands Bash that showcases Aboriginal culture and language through music.

After wowing audiences over previous years, Asante Sana at Trephina Gorge will return in 2010, with 70 voices joined in harmony, building bridges across cultures and the community through their song.

The Hermannsburg Historical Precinct will host performances by solo cellist, Nicolas Hempel and world famous musician Django Reinhardt, a descendent of the Reinhardt clan, will explore a fusion of different styles - from Flamenco, Latin, and Brazilian Jazz - which will be brought to life with his own artistic style and Gypsy influences.

After its world premiere at the Darwin Festival, the play A Head Full of Love will also be included in the program for the Alice Desert Festival. Directed by Wesley Enoch and starring Collette Mann and Roxanne McDonald this production explores the relationship established between two women at the Alice Springs Beanie Festival.

For the foodie, there will be two bushfood-inspired events, with founder of the Red Ochre Restaurants, Andrew Fielke, conducting cooking classes and utilising produce native to Central Australia. The following day, Fielke will produce a spectacular degustation menu for the Alice Desert Festival Gala Dinner.

The competition, which has wooed the tastebuds of renowned chefs, Maggie Beer and Stephanie Alexander will return in 2010, with hundreds expected to enter the Bushfoods Recipe Competition, where entrants get creative with local fare to develop a unique award-winning recipe.

For more information on the event, log onto www.alicedesertfestival.com.au.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

VERY VALENTINO PACKAGES AT SOFITEL BRISBANE CENTRAL, OFFICIAL SUPPORTING HOTEL

VALENTINO RETROPRECTIVE - PAST/PRESENT/FUTURE

Sofitel Luxury Hotels, official supporting hotel partner for the Valentino Retrospective which launched in Brisbane last week, has created a new accommodation package for those with a passion for fashion and European style hotel elegance.

Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future now on at Queensland's internationally recognised Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane showcases Rome's last and most esteemed couture fashion house in its exclusive Australian showing. The exhibition showcases the life, work and style of founder Valentino Garavani on now until November 14, 2010

Sofitel Luxury Hotels - the world's only truly European hotel network – is celebrating its love of all things refined and fashionable in five-star style, creating a Very Valentino themed package to stay at Sofitel Brisbane Central.

Sofitel Brisbane Central's Valentino Package includes overnight accommodation in a Superior Room and two tickets see 'Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future'.

The offer is valid from now until November the 14th 2010, and is priced from A$265 per room per night, subject to availability.  For bookings call (07) 3835 4444 or visit www.sofitelbrisbane.com.au

Developed by Paris's renowned decorative arts museum, Les Arts Decoratifs, the exhibition was first created as a celebration of Valentino's 45th and final collection presentation in 2008. Revealing more than 100 exquisite haute couture garments and encompassing more than 50 years of fashion, the exhibition covers every collection from the Valentino fashion house, including designs from the very first collection made in 1959.

Designs from the house of Valentino have been coveted by millions and worn by fashion's elite, and this magnificent exhibition includes garments worn by stars such as Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and more.

Sofitel Brisbane Central's General Manager Tony Chisholm says his staff have witnessed many Valentinos arriving at the hotel over the past week, using their time in Brisbane to enjoy the timeless exhibition.

 "As you'd expect  its primarily women who appear to be indulging in a stay and play Valentino experience in Brisbane, although many have brought along men friends who don't mind taking in the fashion – both on the mannequins and the many glamorous women that the exhibition is attracting to the hotel," he said.

"In fact thanks to Valentino, Brisbane city has never looked so glamorous. I've never seen quite so many elegant yet excitable women in our lobby - or more last minute bookings for our day spa - as I did when the exhibition launched last Friday night.

"And despite what you may think, I can confirm that even the most slender of women with a passion for fashion have an amazing appetite to match – mostly for appetizers and fine French pastries that is. In one week alone, I'd estimate that Sofitel's high tea and Champagne sales have increased by at least 28%, which I can only attribute to the influx of ladies with designs on a decadent weekend of food and fashion with friends." 

For more information on the Valentino Retrospective, visit www.qag.qld.gov.au

Introducing Canberra's Old Bus Depot Markets


Seen one market, seen them all. Think again...

Whether you’ve heard of them before or not, the Old Bus Depot Markets have definitely made an impression on the visitors who’ve passed through its doors over the past 16 years. Renowned for its diverse flavours, fun and a vibrant market atmosphere that’s popular with people of all ages, the markets’ success has also been recognised with its induction into the Australian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame and inclusion into the top ten Canberra ‘Places of the Heart’.

On most Sundays of the year, and on Saturdays in December in the lead up to Christmas, a visit to the Old Bus Depot Markets will see you spoilt for choice.

“Visitors can browse, taste and buy from over 200 stalls, all of exceptional quality and featuring unique items that are handcrafted by local and regional artists, craftspeople and food producers,” said Old Bus Depot Markets Director, Diane Hinds.

The markets unfolded from an initial idea that started to germinate in 1992. Morna Whiting was the ideas genius and mulled over her early concept for a high quality weekly market. She looked at buildings, chatted to people about what makes a good market and thought about style and products. Enter Diane Hinds, a friend who Morna invited to be involved, and who brought another range of skills and matched enthusiasm.

“We wanted a place full of wonderful characters and their products. Put that together with the Canberra community and good things have happened,” Ms Hinds said.

The Old Bus Depot Markets are located in the Old Bus Depot building on Wentworth Avenue in Kingston, Canberra. They are easy to access and have ample free parking. Open every Sunday 10am – 4pm.

“And with a wide range of food stalls to enjoy lunch, a coffee or a quick bite to eat, your first decision is just where to start,” Ms Hinds concluded.

More information available at www.obdm.com.au


Perisher to Name Superpipe in Honour of Australian Olympic Gold Medallist Torah Bright

Snowboard Champion in Perisher this Week.

tarah_bright_profile.jpg
Torah Bright
Olympic Halfpipe Gold Medallist and Perisher Ambassador Torah Bright will be honoured at Perisher this weekend when the snow resort's Superpipe will be officially re-named "Brights' Pipe". The dedication honours not only Torah but also her brother Ben who is her coach and a long-time Perisher snowboarding athlete.

The Perisher Superpipe is the only one of its type in Australia and is the official training facility for the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia. The 2010 Australian Junior Series Halfpipe event will be held at Brights' Pipe this Saturday. The official naming ceremony will coincide with the event's presentations.

"I practically grew up at Perisher and try to get back here whenever I can," said Ms Bright. "It's my favourite Aussie snow resort and I'm so proud to be an Ambassador. It gives me a chance to give back and support some of the next generation of winter sports stars."

Perisher's General Manager of Marketing, Sales and Hospitality Gary Grant said:  "As part of her new role, Torah will become the face of Perisher in advertising and promotional campaigns over the next two years, representing the resort where she first started snowboarding and where she developed as an athlete.  We'll be filming TV commercials with her this week and she'll be posting on Facebook and blogging her experiences."

"And the timing of the current snow falls couldn't be better. We have received over 30cm of fresh snow in the last 48 hours with even more forecasted. Perisher now has five terrain parks open including the Slopestyle Park that includes a 70 foot kicker, Australia's largest terrain park jump. With all this happening this weekend is shaping up to be huge."

Over the past weeks Perisher conducted a "Board with Torah for a Day" promotion. Intermediate snowboarders entered to win a day lift ticket for them and two friends which included four hours on-snow with Torah this Saturday 14 August. Also, on Sunday lucky Winter Sports Club children will be given tuition, tips and advice during a coaching session attended by Torah.

Torah will be making appearances in Perisher's video snow reports and an interview of her at the resort will be made available on the Perisher website.

Visit Perisher's Parks and Pipe Blog at www.perisher.com.au/blogfusion and view live streaming vision of the Superpipe and Front Valley action at www.perisher.com.au/winter/snowreport/front_valley.php

Bitter & Twisted International Boutique Beer Festival

Time to get Twisted

Maitland Tourism have just released the first tickets to this years Bitter & Twisted  International  Boutique Beer Festival, held at Maitland Gaol on the 6th and 7th November, and early bird ticket buyers will have the chance to get really Twisted and brew their own beer!

We are asking you to nominate your most Twisted beer - be it ale or lager, complemented by your most Twisted flavour- be it ice-cream, popcorn or meat pies - for your chance to win a day brewing your winning beer with the expert brewers at Hunter Beer Company. Plus, you'll get to take home 10 litres to share with your mates and have your beer featured on the Hunter Beer Company stand at Bitter & Twisted this November.

Rachel MacLucas, Manager Tourism for Maitland Tourism claims this is an exciting one-off opportunity for people to really get creative.

"We think there is so much scope for people to create a really Twisted beer, like Nacho flavoured lager or Chilli Chocolate ale. We can't wait to see what Twisted idea wins.

"This year, Bitter & Twisted is already shaping to be bigger and better then ever before with  plenty  on offer for beer drinkers, wine drinkers, non drinkers, food lovers, music lovers, arts lovers, parents, children, grandparents, friends, lovers, dancers, singers...basically anyone who wants to have a good time," said Ms MacLucas.

The two day festival will feature stalls offering tastings of over 60 beer from the best Australian craft-breweries as well as specialty international beer from around the globe matched by catering stalls offering international gourmet cuisine.

With endless activities including music, beer and wine tastings, entertainment, educational sessions, lunch options, kids' zone with face painting, gaol tours and much more, Bitter & Twisted certainly is the place to be this Spring!

Tickets are on sale now. Get in early and book before September 1st 2010 to go into the Twisted Ales competition for your chance to brew your own flavoured beer!!

This event is support by Regional Flagship Event Funding through Tourism NSW.

For more information on ticket sales please contact Maitland Tourism on (02) 4931 2888 or visit www.bitterandtwisted.com.au or email info@bitterandtwisted.com.au

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pillows used in mid-air brawl

French tourists were involved in a light-hearted pillow fight on a Lufthansa flight from Tel-Aviv to Frankfurt.

The pillow fight, allegedly between French and German passengers, has become an internet hit after a passenger caught it on tape and posted it on YouTube. The entire economy class cabin, including a flight attendant, gets involved in flinging pillows. Delighted cheers and laughter break out after it finishes.

The fight, which can be viewed here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztrOt3OXym8&feature=player_embedded is a pleasant antidote to some more serious in-flight incidents reported in recent years.

Written by: Peter Needham

New and Upgraded displays at Australia War Memorial

Dingo scout car
Dingo Scout Car, Studebaker, Carley Float and so many stories

A rare and previously unseen Australian armoured vehicle, the Dingo scout car, and a captured German Flak 38 anti-aircraft gun are now on display in the new-look Second World War Galleries of the Australian War Memorial.

New items have been added and a number of displays have been upgraded with audiovisual presentations including the HMAS Sydney and Kokoda Campaign, while iconic items such as the German Kübelwagen will return to display.
Kübelwagen

Additional new items include Australian Breda anti-aircraft gun used in the siege of Tobruk, unique Chevrolet lorry, a civilian Studebaker sedan with its producer gas unit and an Anderson Air Raid Shelter.

www.awm.gov.au

Vogue Living Champagne Dinner with Mark Best

7:00pm Friday 29th October The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa

Vogue Living, the Champagne Bureau and The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa proudly announce Mark Best from Sydney's acclaimed Marque Restaurant as guest chef at their annual Champagne Dinner. Marque Restaurant has held three Chefs Hats since 2004.

Four courses will be matched with five of the world's finest Champagnes from the Champagne region in France.

$185 pp | Bookings essential | 02 66392111 or info@thebyronatbyron.com.au

2010 Champagne Dinner Accommodation Package
Two night's accommodation in a one bedroom Superior Suite
Two tickets to the Mark Best Champagne Dinner | Full buffet breakfast daily
Total package for two $995.00 | Valid 29/10/10 – 31/10/10 subject to availability

"Few Chefs approach French flavours with such passion and dedication. It's impossible not to be impressed when food is this well crafted, possibly the best food in Australia!" RW Apple, New York Times

1300 554 362 or info@thebyronatbyron.com.au | www.thebyronatbyron.com.au

Sunday, August 8, 2010

NSW Lighthouses Open their Doors for Lighthouse Weekend - August 21-22

Lighthouses across NSW's national parks will be hives of activity on the weekend of August 21-22, with visitors enjoying free guided tours and family events in celebration of International Lighthouse Weekend.

Located on isolated headlands and islands along the coast, these historical lightstations and their accompanying buildings were once home to lighthouse keepers and their families. International Lighthouse Weekend delivers a rare opportunity for visitors to discover their fascinating stories.

International Lighthouse Weekend celebrations taking place at sites around NSW include:

Green Cape Lightstation, near Eden:

Green Cape Lightstation will be open for evening tours on August 20 and August 21 when the original light will be operating. Built in 1883 and perched on the edge of a peninsula in Ben Boyd National Park on the far south coast, the lightstation is the tallest and most southerly in NSW. The lighthouse will also be open for inspection from 10:00am to 4:00pm on both days of the weekend. For more information, call 1300 361 606.

Point Stephens Lighthouse, Nelson Bay:

Built in 1862, Point Stephens Lighthouse is one of the most distinctive lighthouses in NSW, with its circular tower, flared base and grand external stairs. Standing tall above the rocks and coastal heath near Fingal Bay in Tomaree National Park, 50 kilometres north-east of Newcastle, the lighthouse will be the highlight of guided walking tours to Fingal Island on August 21, between 10:00am and 1:00pm ($15 per person). Visitors can also appreciate the lighthouse from above with a special one-hour Discovery helicopter tour on August 22, priced at $230 for three adults or two adults and two children. For bookings, call 02 4984 8200.

Cape Byron Lighthouse, Byron Bay:

Standing on the most easterly point of the Australian mainland, the lighthouse in Cape Byron State Conservation Area on the north coast will be open to visitors across the weekend, with guided tours running at 12.30pm, 2.00pm and 3.30pm on August 21. The lighthouse museum will also be open from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and Cape Byron Friends volunteers will host whale-watching activities throughout the day. For tour bookings, call 02 6685 5955.

Lighthouse at Montague Island, off Narooma:

Montague Island, off the coastal town of Narooma, will be celebrating with half-price guided tours of its historic lighthouse and lighthouse keepers' complex, built 130 years ago. The only way to visit Montague Island Nature Reserve is via an organised tour including lighthouse and a chance to spot the hidden breeding boxes helping support the island's 8000-strong little penguin colony. Two tours will be operating, departing Narooma wharf at 3:30pm on August 21 and 9:30am on August 22, costing $65 adults, $50 children and $215 family. For bookings, call Narooma Charters on 0407 900 111.

Barrenjoey Lighthouse, Palm Beach:

Spectacularly sited on the promontory at Palm Beach, the historic lighthouse on Barrenjoey Headland offers panoramic views of Broken Bay, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the coastline north of Sydney. Accessible by a steep track, Barrenjoey Lighthouse can be explored on one of the organised tours running every Sunday, including August 22, between 11:00am and 3:00pm.

Smoky Cape Lighthouse, South West Rocks:

Set atop Smoky Cape headland in Hat Head National Park, the fully-operational lighthouse and its Keepers' Cottages will be open to the public for viewing on August 22. The cottages have been carefully restored and converted into bed and breakfast accommodation, where guests can spend the night. Devonshire Tea and scones will be served at the Head Lighthouse Keepers' Cottage throughout the day. For tour bookings, contact 02 65665301 or 0419665301. Price is a gold coin donation.

For more information, visit NSW National Park's website – www.wildwildworld.com.au

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Motor Yacht Charters Sydney will have you hooked

If you’re game…

Fishing is one of Australia’s favourite past times. Any keen angler will have a story of “the one that got away” and the saga about their “biggest catch”. To ensure that your next fishing story is even bigger and better, Motor Yacht Charters Sydney has launched Pisces – a luxury game fishing charter vessel.
Pisces
For fishing fanatics, Pisces presents the ultimate game fishing experience on Sydney Harbour. The equipment on Pisces is second to none; the rods have been crafted by one of the world’s top three master rod makers and the navigation equipment is state of the art and includes 3D GPS. There are also inbuilt cockpit video cameras to capture lasting memories of your catch of the day.

Sydneysiders and visitors who are looking to try their hand at something new or are seeking a different way of taking in the iconic Sydney Harbour, will be just as impressed. Custom built by Riviera, Australia’s most awarded luxury boat manufacturer, Pisces is as stylish as they come. Fishing enthusiasts will find themselves inclined to retreat to the comfort of the sophisticated saloon with panoramic views where they can select from a contemporary menu as well as local and international wine. Those who are less experienced at the sport of game fishing will be learning from the best. Michael Tess, the skipper on board, is a champion game fisher with 35 years local and international experience.

Pisces has capacity for up to 10 people, plus crew, for offshore game fishing. The vessel doubles as a unique function venue for those seeking a more intimate experience for up to 30 guests within Sydney Harbour. Overnight accommodation is available in two double cabins with ensuites.

Groups can choose from a range of pick up points along Sydney Harbour including Sydney’s King Street Wharf. All inclusive game fishing charters for 10 people start from $5,500 for up to eight hours.

About Motor Yacht Charters Sydney

Motor Yacht Charters Sydney, an Australian owned company, has a management team with over 30 years experience in the marine industry. Motor Yacht Charters Sydney operates two luxury motor yachts – Ariston and Pisces – on Sydney Harbour for private groups and corporate charters. Ariston has capacity for up to 60 guests for a stand up cocktail function. Pisces can accommodate up to 30 guests for an intimate function within the Harbour or 10 people for offshore game fishing.

www.mycsydney.com.au

Korea Tourism Organization Launches Specialist Korean Food Website



Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has launched a new website this week (www.koreataste.org) which focuses on Korean cuisine with local restaurant reviews and food columns as well as blogging and forum areas where visitors can leave messages and discuss Korean cuisine.

Information on the site is organized into six categories – columns, food, restaurants, blogging, forums and news. The columns section features articles on Korean cuisine including food and restaurant reviews by food experts. This area features celebrity chefs from famous restaurants and their interpretation of Korean dishes and Korean cuisine. For foreign visitors to Korea searching the restaurant guide area will help with no doubt help with finding the best restaurants in town.

In the blogging area there will be prizes on offer for bloggers for posting the best reviews. The news and events area has updates on all things food-related, including new restaurants, events and food related festivals. Visitors to the site will also be able to share the site’s content on their own social networking areas including Twitter and Facebook.

If you wish to try your hand at making some Korean dishes there are many recipes for all the popular dishes like Japche (glass noodles), Bulgogi (BBQ Beef) Doenjang-jigae (Soy Bean Stew) and even Korea’s national dish of Kimchi (fermented pickled cabbage) which is served at every Korean meal.

The growth of interest in Korean food has risen dramatically over the past few years. In Australia’s capital cities you can find excellent Korean restaurants offering a great variety of Korean dishes to enjoy. Korean cuisine is becoming as popular as Japanese and Thai.

You can also win a trip to Korea with the KTO Sydney office competition presently running on the www.ilovekoreanfood.com.au website. The prize is a trip to Korea for two with three nights’ hotel accommodation in Seoul as well as a meal for two at one of Seoul’s famous royal cuisine restaurants. Check out the local site today and be in the running to win the trip to Korea.

To learn more about Korean cuisine go www.koreataste.org and if you would like to receive a copy of the free guide – The Wonderful World of Korean Food email KTO Sydney office for your free copy today. Email: visitkorea@knto.org.au

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Hayman Short Break at Australia’s Top Resort



A Hayman Short Break is the perfect choice for an enjoyable time away with family and friends at Australia’s celebrated private island resort in the Great Barrier Reef.

Hayman presents an array of fabulous resort and Reef activities and adventures for all to share which showcase the stunning island setting and surrounds, including The Chef’s Table, Sand Flats Discovery Walk and Hayman Guided Snorkel Adventure.

The Hayman Short Break is priced from A$669 per person and includes:
 3 nights’ twin share accommodation
 Daily buffet breakfast in Azure overlooking the Coral Sea
 Paddleskiing, windsurfing and catamaran sailing from Hayman Beach
 Use of the gymnasium, sauna and steam room
 Activities including tennis, squash, croquet, golf putting and driving and island walks

Families can enjoy time together on their Hayman Short Break with a special Family Offer which is priced from A$335 per person twin share and includes:
 3 nights’ twin share accommodation
 Daily buffet breakfast
 2 complimentary 3-hour sessions at Hayman's Kids Club or Crèche

The Hayman Short Break and Family Offer are available for travel until 21 December 2010.

For bookings, contact Hayman Reservations on
T 1800 075 175 Toll Free in Australia or (61-7) 4940 1838
E reservations@hayman.com.au
W www.hayman.com.au

Hayman is owned by Mulpha Australia Limited and is a member of the prestigious organisation, The Leading Hotels of the World.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Spring into Action and Explore Marvellous Marlborough with Mercure Picton Marlborough Sounds



Shed those extra winter kilos and ‘spring’ into action with a ‘Cruise &
Walk’ package in New Zealand’s Marlborough wine region staying at Mercure Picton Marlborough Sounds.

Spring is the ideal time to experience the iconic Queen Charlotte Track in bloom with a day walk on one of New Zealand’s most picturesque walking tracks, accessed by boat cruise on the pristine waters of Marlborough Sounds with Cougar Line.

From just AU$235 per person your ‘Cruise & Walk’ package* includes two nights accommodation in an Ocean View Room at Mercure Picton Marlborough Sounds; continental breakfast in Chartroom Restaurant; a ‘Cruise & Walk’ day package with Cougar Line and a complimentary bottle of wine from the Mercure Grands Vins regional wine menu to enjoy in your room after a day outdoors.

For bookings email reservations@mercurepicton.co.nz or phone (+64) 3 573 7002. For further information visit www.mercure.com

Boasting stunning harbour views, the Mercure has been launched following the re-development of the former Yacht Club Hotel Picton. A further 17 rooms were added to the hotel’s original 31 which were upgraded to international Mercure standard. The hotel now offers a diverse range of stylish accommodation including deluxe Pool View rooms, Ocean View rooms and some luxurious apartments overlooking the entrance to the Queen Charlotte Sound.

Located on Picton’s harbour front, the hotel is just 1km from both the ferry terminal (which brings visitors from Wellington) and train station, minutes from the local airport and in walking distance of the Picton CBD and foreshore.

The Mercure is the region’s first international hotel and provides an ideal base for visitors exploring the Marlborough Sounds area, with internationally-renowned wineries such as Cloudy Bay, Oyster Bay and Hunter’s just over 15 minutes drive away. The Mercure’s Chartroom Restaurant and Boatshed Bar feature a wide selection of the region’s finest wines.

* Offer valid to 30 December 2010, subject to availability.

Cruise Northern California



California is the ultimate road trip state – most of the scenic beauty lies outside areas easily accessible by public transport and much of it is in Northern California. The region takes up a third of California’s land mass yet is home to less than a third of the state’s population. This means that visitors can expect to be immersed in nature – from rugged coastline, sprawling vineyards, ancient redwood forests, giant volcanos and waterfalls.

Here are some suggestions for a road trip through Northern California:

Day One
Pick up your choice of wheels in San Francisco – motor home, convertible or trusty family mover. Head north over the Golden Gate Bridge on Highway 101 and spend the first night in charming Petaluma, one of the best-preserved historic downtowns in the United States.

Day Two
Start the day by hiking in Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, before picking up supplies at the multitude of wineries along the banks of the Russian River in Sonoma Country. Spend the afternoon driving north and meandering through picturesque beaches and coastal villages like Jenner-by-the-Sea or Manchester Beach.

Day Three
Visit the coastal town of Mendocino – stroll through galleries and shops in this artist colony, walk through fern filled canyons at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, spot seals at the headlands at Fort Bragg or board the Skunk Train for the scenic 60-kilometre journey to Willits and back.

Day Four
Prepare to be awed. The aptly named Avenue of Giants is a 48-kilometre stretch of Highway One towered by 90-metre tall redwoods. The trees in Humboldt Redwoods State Park are the tallest trees in the world and visitors can get a sense for their enormity at the Meyers Flat Drive-Thru-Tree. On the coast, Humboldt Bay has the oldest Pacific Coast working lighthouse. Overnight in Eureka.

Day Five
Travel east on Highway 299 – the start of the Trinity River Scenic Byway which offers some of the most diverse scenery of any drive in far North California. Outdoor lovers can kayak and hike to waterfalls in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area or marvel at castle-like natural stone turrets at Castle Crag State Park. Everitt Memorial Highway provides breathtaking views of snow-capped Mount Shasta.

Day Six
Drive one of California’s only All American Roads: the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. The drive takes you to one of the regions most prized attractions – the 40-metre waterfall at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park. A couple of hours south is Subway Cave, a 400-metre volcanic lava tube that remains a chilly seven degrees Celsius year round. Overnight at Hat Creek.

Day Seven
With volcanic pools, mud pots and thermal springs - Lassen Volcanic National Park provides opportunities to witness the results of millions of years of volcanic activity. The park has several hikes including Lassen Peak and Bumpass Hell. Overnight in Redding and stroll down Sacramento River National Recreation Trail where you can marvel at the Sundial Bridge – the largest sundial in the world.

Day Eight
From Redding, it’s approximately a 300 kilometre drive back to the San Francisco.

See www.northcoastca.com and www.shastacascade.com

Spanish Recession? Just Don't Take Their Food Away!



Reading the news in Australia, you could be forgiven for thinking that Spain’s economy is about to implode - but try telling a hungry Spaniard that!

You only have to sink your teeth into a succulent ‘cochinillo’ (roast suckling piglet), slop up the pan juices with a chunk of fresh crusty bread and wash it all down with a hearty Rioja red to appreciate why restaurants in Spain are bursting at the seams despite record unemployment rates.

Let’s be honest - who would swap a night trawling through fun tapas bars in search of the ultimate patatas bravas, plates of crispy fried seafood, homemade tortillas and rounds of icy cold beers for a night on the couch?

And would you save your ‘centimos’ for a rainy day when instead you could spend this afternoon scooping out the gooey, creamy, sheep milk cheese insides of a Torta de Casar whilst sipping a crisp manzanilla sherry? Don’t even answer that.

Convinced that it’s your duty to support the Spanish economy too? Then join Frank Camorra of the famed MoVida restaurants as he shares these treasures and more on an 11 night gastronomy tour through Spain.

“Spanish food is the Spanish way of life and it must be lived to be truly understood” says Camorra. “On the trip, we’ll go behind-the-scenes in fresh produce markets, on farms and in restaurants; we’ll eat the foods that even Spaniards travel miles to eat; and we’ll meet the characters whose passion for maintaining age old traditions is what makes Spain’s cuisine so unique”

The trip has been organised in conjunction with Biznaga Travel Company, which specialises in tailor-made cultural and gastronomy holidays in Spain. Owner of Biznaga Travel Company and co-host on the trip, Casey Death, said this trip not only provides the opportunity to learn first-hand from an incredibly talented chef and restauranteur, but also offers a unique insight into the Spanish cuisine and culture.

“From the private visits to a paprika farm and a 250 year old sherry bodega that aren’t even open to the general public; to the full day with Spanish ‘foodie philosopher’, Fausto, or the private cooking class with the head chef of one of Spain’s most prestigious restaurants, this trip is quite simply, the experience of a lifetime” said Death.

There are only 4 spots left on the ‘MoVida Rústica’ tour which starts in Madrid on 17-28 October and costs $10,900 per person twin share. For all the details and to download the itinerary visit:
http://www.biznagatravelcompany.com/holiday_spain.php?id_planned=9

Lonely Planet Launches New Augmented Reality Guides for Android Users in Australia



Lonely Planet today announced its ‘augmented reality’ Compass Guides are now available for Google Android users in Australia, providing easy to use, mobile access to its best selling city guide content.

Lonely Planet is one of the first travel companies in the world to create augmented reality products for Australian travellers with Android handsets, launching a series of 25 Compass Guides for popular Asian, European and US cities. Anyone with these handsets can now experience travelling with augmented reality technology, where real life is annotated with Lonely Planet travel information.

“This is one of the most innovative things we’ve launched and we’re really excited to see how people use this application,” said Matthew Cashmore, Lonely Planet’s Innovation and Ecosystems Manager.

“The application pinpoints your exact location so that when you find yourself in a new city and want to know what there is to see and do around you, just look through the camera and a wealth of Lonely Planet information on the best destinations, accommodation, sites, bars and restaurants appear stuck like posted notes to points of interest around you,” said Cashmore.

Key features of the Compass Guides include GPS enabled maps and location based information for hundreds of points of interest for every city, while the phone’s built in compass allows users to see their current location and how far or near they are to destinations and sites. The guides also enable travellers to use all content offline (with the exception of the maps) meaning no roaming fees.

Twenty-five Lonely Planet Compass Guides are currently available; Amsterdam, Bangkok, Barcelona, Beijing, Hong Kong, Istanbul, London, Paris, Prague, Rome, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, Vancouver, Boston, Chicago, LA, Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.

"Lonely Planet's commitment to innovation and new technology is unique. After being the very first travel content publisher to launch augmented reality applications in 2009, it is fantastic to see the next phase and expansion of their mobile product proposition," said Andy Gstoll, CEO Wikitude.

Lonely Planet’s Compass Guides are available for $4.99 USD from the Google Android store (available on all Android powered phones) and will work on all major Android phones back to the very first model, the G1.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Paint the Town Valentino Red on a Stylish Brisbane Stay



Tourism Queensland has shopped around for a stylish collection of deals for fashionistas flocking to Brisbane for the ‘Valentino, Retrospective: Past, Present and Future’.

Brisbane’s internationally-recognised Gallery of Modern Art will present the Australian-exclusive major exhibition exploring the work of the celebrated Italian fashion house Valentino from August 7 to November 14, 2010.

The five-star Brisbane Hilton Valentino package includes one night’s accommodation and buffet breakfast for two along with two tickets to ‘Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future’ from $250. This package including return flights with Virgin Blue is $335 per person from Sydney and $419 per person from Melbourne. Stay two nights and pay $459 from Sydney and $539 from Melbourne.

The Sofitel Brisbane Central Valentino package includes overnight accommodation in a Superior Room and breakfast for two, parking and two tickets to the exhibition from $265 per room. Include return flights with Virgin Blue for $340 per person from Sydney and $419 per person from Melbourne. Two night packages are $479 ex Sydney and $559 ex Melbourne.

Paint the town red and stay at the deliciously stylish Emporium Hotel in a King Suite. The Valentino package includes a bottle of French champagne, valet parking and two exhibition tickets from $349 per room. The same package with return Virgin Blue flights from Sydney is $385 per person and $469 per person from Melbourne. Stay two nights and pay $559 from Sydney and $639 from Melbourne.

Enjoy one night’s accommodation in a Superior Room at the Stamford Plaza Brisbane. The hotel’s Valentino package is $329 per person including breakfast for two, valet parking and two tickets to the Valentino exhibition.

Developed by Paris’s renowned decorative arts museum, Les Arts Decoratifs, the exhibition was first created as a celebration of Valentino’s 45th and final collection presentation in 2008.

Showcasing more than 100 exquisite haute couture garments and encompassing more than 50 years of fashion, the exhibition covers every collection from the Valentino fashion house, including designs from the very first collection made in 1959.

Designs from the house of Valentino have been coveted by millions and worn by fashions elite and this magnificent exhibition will include garments worn by stars such as Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and more.

For more information on Brisbane and the exhibition visit www.queenslandholidays.com.au/brisbane.
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