Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Victoria’s leading tourism businesses and individuals have been honoured at the RACV 2010 Victorian Tourism Awards.

Congratulating all of the entrants, Tourism Victoria’s Chief Executive Mark Stone said the awards are instrumental in encouraging a dynamic and competitive tourism industry.

“Victoria’s tourism industry is a national leader, thanks to the drive and innovation of individuals and businesses that strive for excellence and quality.

“These awards celebrate the achievements of all those who have worked so hard to make Victoria a world-class tourism destination.”

Mr Stone said 131 tourism operators competed in the 26 business categories, with another three individual and group awards.

“This was a very successful year for the awards with entries increasing by 30 per cent and a record number of submissions from first time participants.”

In a Tourism Awards first, Victorians were also given the opportunity to determine the winners of two new RACV People’s Choice Awards for Guest Satisfaction and Service.

Mr Stone said tourism was vital to Victoria’s economy, contributing $15.8 billion each year and providing jobs for 185,000 people.

“Expenditure in regional Victoria by domestic overnight visitors has increased to almost $4 billion for the year ending June 2010, which goes a long way in supporting local economies and creating jobs.

“This is on top of nearly $300 million that international visitors spent outside Melbourne in the past year.”

Six businesses were inducted into the Victorian Tourism Awards Hall of Fame at the ceremony for winning their category for three consecutive years:
Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Old Melbourne Gaol – Crime and Justice Experience
Bunyip Tours
Destination Gippsland
Holmesglen Tourism Event and Hospitality Programs
Ovens Valley Motor Inn

Winners of the RACV 2010 Victorian Tourism Awards will represent Victoria at the Qantas 2010 Australian Tourism Awards in Perth in March. Winners list attached.

Melbourne Airport Award for Major Tourist Attractions
Winner: Melbourne Museum (Melbourne)
Merit: Melbourne Aquarium (Melbourne)

Herald Sun Award for Tourist Attractions
Winner: Scienceworks (Melbourne)
Merit: Rhyll Trout & Bush Tucker Farm (Phillip Island)

Skybus Award for Major Festivals & Events
Winner: Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (Statewide)

Victoria University Award for Festivals & Events
Winner: Suzuki Night Market (Melbourne)
Merit: Rochford – Yarra Valley (Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges)
Merit: Otway Odyssey Mountain Bike Marathon (Great Ocean Road)
Merit: 2009 Great Victorian Bike Ride (Great Ocean Road)

Parks Victoria Award for Ecotourism
Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park (Mornington Peninsula)

Victoria Tourism Industry Council Award for Heritage & Cultural Tourism
Winner: Old Melbourne Gaol Crime and Justice Experience (Melbourne)

HOST PLUS Award for Indigenous Tourism
Winner: Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre (Grampians)

City of Melbourne Award for Specialised Tourism Services
Winner: Mornington Peninsula Tourism (Mornington Peninsula)

City of Melbourne Award for Visitor Information and Services
Winner: Bendigo Visitor Information Centre (Goldfields)

William Angliss Institute Award for Meetings & Business Tourism
Winner: Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau (Statewide)

Destination Melbourne Award for Major Tour and/or Transport Operators
Winner: Driver Group (Melbourne)

Destination Melbourne Award for Tour and/or Transport Operators
Winner: Bunyip Tours (Statewide)

Parks Victoria Award for Adventure Tourism
Winner: Auswalk Walking Holidays (Statewide)
Merit: Bogong Horseback Adventures (High Country)

Tourism Marketing
Winner: Destination Gippsland (Gippsland)

William Angliss Institute Award for Tourism Education & Training
Winner: Holmesglen Tourism Event and Hospitality Programs (Melbourne)

3AW Award for Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services
Winner: Max’s at Red Hill Estate (Mornington Peninsula)
Merit Award: Seasons and the new Spanish Bar & Grill (The Murray)
Crown Award for Tourism Wineries, Distilleries & Boutique Breweries
Winner: Rochford – Yarra Valley (Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges)
Merit: De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate (Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges)
Merit: Bright Brewery (High Country)

Hanging Rock Winery Award for Tourist & Caravan Parks
Winner: BIG4 Beacon Resort (Great Ocean Road)

Metlink Award for Backpacker Accommodation
Winner: Habitat HQ (Melbourne)

Hosted Accommodation
Winner: Montfort Manor (Gippsland)

RoyalAuto Award for Unique Accommodation
Winner: All Seasons Houseboats (The Murray)
Merit: Bulls Cruisers (Gippsland)
Merit: Parks Victoria Wilderness Retreats Wilsons Promontory National Park (Gippsland)

Standard Accommodation
Winner: Ovens Valley Motor Inn (High Country)
Merit Award: Cave Hill Creek (Grampians)

Melbourne Convention + Visitors Bureau Award for Deluxe Accommodation
Winner: Emaroo Cottages (The Murray)
Merit: RACV Inverloch Resort (Gippsland)
Merit: Mantra Tullamarine Hotel (Melbourne)

Citadines on Bourke Melbourne Award for New Tourism Development
Winner: Flagstaff Hill Lighthouse Lodge (Great Ocean Road)
Merit: Trees Adventure – Tree Top Obstacle Course (Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges)
Merit: Snowy River Cycling Cycle Tours (Gippsland)

Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism
Winner: Alto on Bourke (Melbourne)

Victoria University Award for Health & Wellness Tourism
Winner: Peninsula Hot Springs (Mornington Peninsula)
Merit: Shizuka Ryokan Japanese Country Spa & Wellness Retreat (Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges)

Outstanding Contribution by an Individual
Winner: Wayne Kayler-Thomson

Outstanding Contribution by a Volunteer/s
Winner: Young Tourism Network

Minister’s Encouragement Award
Winner: The Phillip Island Chocolate Factory (Phillip Island)

RACV People’s Choice Award for Guest Satisfaction
Winner: Abalina Cottages (High Country)

RACV People’s Choice Award for Service
Winner: Myers Creek Cascades (Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wolgan Valley celebrates with 'A Spring Temptation'

Wolgan Valley celebrates with 'A Spring Temptation'

Special Offer to Mark First Year Anniversary by Leading Hotels of the World Member

In celebration of its first year anniversary and to mark the change of season, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa will launch a special promotional offer, 'A Spring Temptation'.

The offer, valid from 1st September to 19th December, 2010, invites guests to welcome the renewal and rebirth of spring at Wolgan Valley, and includes two nights at the resort at a special promotional rate, and an exclusive Wolgan Gourmet or Timeless Spa pack to take home.

Opened in October 2009, Wolgan Valley heralded a new era of understated luxury in the country. As Australia's first conservation-based luxury resort, it has since achieved global success and recognition for its commitment to sustainability without compromising on world-class luxury and style.

Joost Heymeijer, General Manager, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa said: "It is very satisfying to be part a ground-breaking project with such commitment to strong core values of service, luxury, and location. As our first year anniversary milestone approaches, we have certainly solidified our formidable presence as a luxury landmark destination in Australia."

"We are already seeing repeat bookings with guests wishing to experience Wolgan Valley through the different seasons. This spring, guests can expect to experience warm sunsets, sightings of baby wombats and joeys and a cool dip in their own private indoor/outdoor pool," commented Mr Heymeijer.

**A Spring Temptation**

Enjoy two nights in a double Heritage Suite at Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa this spring, including breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, all non-alcoholic and selected alcoholic beverages, two nature-based activities each day, for just $1,470* per person, representing a saving of over $500.

As part of this unique package, guests will also take home a complimentary Taste of Wolgan Gourmet Pack or a Timeless Spa Pamper Pack abundant with the finest luxury products found at the resort.

Valid from 1st September - 19th December 2010, package rates are based on double occupancy with a minimum two nights' stay. Promotional hampers are redeemable per suite booking. Other terms and conditions apply.

To book, please contact the Wolgan Valley Reservations team on 02 9290 9733 or email reservations@wolganvalley.com.


Sept school holidays at Eumundi Markets

Kites, candles and more @ Eumundi Markets in upcoming school holidays

Young market visitors to The Original Eumundi Markets in the upcoming September holidays can get creative by taking part in workshops to teach them how to make their own kites, candles and badges.

The kids craft workshops will be run each Wednesday and Saturday morning market over the holiday period, starting Saturday 18 September.

Market Manager Peter Homan says The Original Eumundi Markets craft workshops are a popular activity with market visitors in school holidays.

"We're really excited to introduce the kite making and decorating workshops, a new addition to our program for kids," he said.  "These are being led by local kite makers John and Marie from Sunshine Rainbow Kites, who sell their handmade kites here at Eumundi Markets every Saturday throughout the year".

"After making their kites in the workshop, kids can then take them to one of the many park areas in Eumundi and test their flying skills!"

"The candle workshops involve dipping and then sculpting wax to make funky colourful candles," he says.

"Our badge making workshop is also popular with young artists, who create their own design on a badge they can then wear home as a souvenir of their time at Eumundi Markets".

While they are designed for children, big kids (teenagers and adults) are welcome to take part too – if spaces permit. Children under five must be accompanied by a carer – to help them with the tricky bits!

Spaces are limited, so market visitors are advised to book in at the workshop tent on arrival in at the markets. You can pre-book for a workshop time later in the day.

As the biggest and best market in Australia, Eumundi is renowned for its quality art and craft –  with stalls selling products for visitors of all ages. And when you need a break from the shopping, sit back and be entertained by a stellar line-up of performers guaranteed to get you in the groove.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Find My Fiji Sale with Captain Cook Cruises

Find 'My' Fiji and Sale Away with Massive Savings!

A tiny island, a white sandy beach, or picturesque coral reef - find your very own special place in Fiji  with Captain Cook Cruises 'Find My Fiji' sale on all 3, 4 and 7 night cruises, offering up to 47% off brochure prices.

The sale is valid until 30 November 2010 and valid for travel until 31 March 2012.

With Captain Cook Cruises discovery-style cruises guests will enjoy an intimate and personal experience of the Yasawa Islands aboard small ship, MV Reef Endeavour, where passengers wake up at a new and exciting destination every morning.

If finding 'My' Fiji involves culture, the MV Reef Endeavour visits unspoiled Fijian villages where passengers can interact with the locals, take part in a traditional village sevusevu ceremony and Meke and Lovo feast and even tour a village school.

If water and relaxation is more your Fiji, there is plenty of time every day to snorkel over amazing coral reefs, swim in crystal clear waters, dive in spectacular blue lagoons or relax on the warm white sand. Passengers can also take a glass bottom boat ride to witness the abundance of marine life that thrives on Fiji's coral reefs.

Stay on-board and find 'My' Fiji by being pampered at the ships Senikai Day Spa, or simply relax on the sun deck by the pool or spa or enjoy a cocktail at the pool bar.

Fares for the 3 night Southern Yasawa cruise start from $639 per person twin share, normally $1199 per person. For the 4 night Northern Yasawa cruise fares start from $855 per person twin share, normally $1499 per person and fares for the 7 night Yasawa Islands and 7 night Northern Fiji Dateline Expedition cruise start from $1389 per person twin share, normally $2499 per person.

Great value family cabins are also available from just $1548 for up to 2 adults and 2 children under 18 years or a separate child's stateroom is available from only $414 per room when parents or guardians travel in stateroom accommodation.

Prices include all meals, daily island and water activities, guided island, village and school tours, snorkelling and glass bottom boat tours, use of snorkelling equipment and mini gym, a Lovo feast and kava ceremony, entertainment, child minding during meal times, 24 hour self-service tea and coffee bar and transfers from Nadi and Denarau hotels.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises toll free from Australia on 1800 804 843; Int +61-2-9206 1111, Email: or visit www.captaincook.com.au.


PLUS, stay for 3 nights or more and receive a FREE De Bortoli Wines Bonus

Grand Mercure Apartments across Australia invite you to make yourself at home by offering better rates the longer you stay. 

Grand Mercure Apartments can be found in 13 locations across Australia with rates starting from $108 per night for three to five night stays with further discounts applied for six night stays or more.  PLUS, book a minimum 3 night stay at any participating Grand Mercure Apartment before 31 October and you will receive a FREE De Bortoli Wines Triple Pack of Rococo Sparkling Blanc De Blancs, Gulf Station Chardonnay and Gulf Station Shiraz Viognier.

The offer is valid for stays until 10 December 2010* and available for booking via www.grandmercureapartments.com.au or 1300 65 65 65.

The choice to extend your stay is made easy with Grand Mercure Apartments offering all the comforts of home whilst allowing you to explore completely new surroundings in relaxing coastal destinations or exciting city locations.  The fully self contained facilities include full kitchens, laundry, ensuites, expansive living areas, all the latest in home entertainment features and the choice of one, two or three bedroom apartment configurations.

Follow the sun to tropical Cairns staying at Grand Mercure Apartments Palm Cove; explore the Whitsundays with Grand Mercure Apartments Azure Sea at Airlie Beach as your base; see the best of regional Victoria with a stay at Grand Mercure Apartments Forest Resort in Creswick, perfectly situated between the Goldfields region and spa country; or savor a Sauvignon Blanc overlooking the Hunter Valley vineyards from your balcony at Grand Mercure Apartments The Vintage and combine a little golf with your grapes on the Greg Norman designed championship golf course.

Grand Mercure Apartment guests can also access great car hire deals with Europcar – stay two or more nights and receive 15% off car hire per day.  Visit www.grandmercureapartments.com.au for details.

*Subject to availability. Black out dates apply. Offer available only at participating Grand Mercure Apartment properties in Australia.

Russian Airliner in 'Miracle' Emergency Landin

Source: AAP

A Russian passenger plane carrying 81 people has made a "miracle" crash landing at a deserted air field in Siberia after a complete mid-flight power failure, officials says.

The Tupolev (TU-154) airliner en route to Moscow on Tuesday was forced to glide down from its cruising altitude with no working navigation gear and at a high speed after its wing flaps failed, the general prosecutor's office said on Wednesday.

The 72 passengers, including three children, and nine crew members were in shock but unhurt after the pilot guided his plane down onto the defunct runway, overgrown with weeds, television images showed.

"After its electrical equipment failed, the crew was forced to land the plane. The landing was manual, without radio contact," the prosecutors' office said in a statement.

Forced down at the tiny air strip built for helicopter use, the passenger liner overshot the tarmac, tearing through 200 metres of forest brush before coming to rest, it said.

The plane, operated by Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise, which belongs to diamond monopoly Alrosa, now lies sunk in a bog beyond the disused air field, near the village of Izhma in Russia's far northern Komi region, 1,500 kilometres from Moscow.

Local blogs and twitter pages buzzed with calls for Russia to award the airliner's pilot a medal for his "miraculous" and "heroic" landing.

Meanwhile, the ITAR-TASS news agency said all of the stranded passengers had Wednesday safely made it to Moscow on another flight except for one couple who preferred to travel by train after their ordeal.

Green Initiatives at Galapagos' Lodges

In the Galapagos Islands Red Means Green: Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges Promotes Sustainable Stewardship by Example

How does red turn green? Think Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges (http://www.redmangrove.com/). This environmentally and socially responsible company is pioneering multi-island, land-based touring while guiding a fragile ecosystem to a sustainable future. In so doing guests experience green, solution-oriented experiences surrounding natural and social environments.

"Galapagos is one of the few destinations on earth where enlightened guests do not have to give up amenities or adventure in order to be in harmony with our responsible tourism philosophies," said Hernan Rodas, visionary owner and founder of Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges. He noted that his company also focuses on local communities when it comes to hiring, purchasing, educating and sponsoring.

As a result, he said, visitors relax into an intact, solution-oriented, sustainable vacation while discovering the intra-island beauty of five distinct islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Floreana, Tortuga Island and Isabela.

The company's three lodges on Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana were constructed with a sustainable philosophy from the ground up. Red Mangrove's Aventura Lodge on Santa Cruz became the first hotel in Galapagos to have an onsite filtration system for drinking water to eliminate the need for imported bottled water; the lodges are among the only island accommodations to utilize black water treatment plants to recycle water; low-water, energy-saving washers and dryers assist the sustainable process, as do efficient 50KVA automatic generators and low environmental impact four-stroke motors on an inter-island transport vessel. (Note: inter-island, land-based touring consumes less fuel than cruise programs do.) One lodge (Floreana) operates entirely off the grid. Cleaning products and supplies are all bio-degradable and the company has achieved an almost-paperless status. Organic bulk shampoo and repellents are sourced from the Ecuador Amazon.

Locally hired employees are supported with business and language skills training and are offered sponsorship opportunities for further education to become, for example, naturalist certified guides. Staff and guides lead by example promoting environmental stewardship by policing visited areas daily, picking up any trash or litter they may find.

Red Mangrove walks the talk of habitat preservation and community involvement. Accommodations and operations adhere to and often exceed the most stringent environmental standards. Out of respect for the local community, Red Mangrove has helped native fishermen find alternative livelihoods through tourism by utilizing a fleet of former fishing boats for transportation and sightseeing. Other outreach projects include support of a Family Health Program initially serving families of Red Mangrove employees on the Island of Isabela, a care program for at-risk horses associated with local tourism in Puerto Villamil and in partnership with the University of Cuenca, assisting a dental care program for employees, tourism providers and islanders on Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana. See: http://www.redmangrove.com/our-involment/.

About Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges

Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges in 2007 introduced a land-based alternative to exploring the Galapagos that heretofore was a cruise-only destination. With upscale waterfront lodges strategically situated on Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana, it is the only company offering high quality, branded accommodations and services on multiple islands in the Galapagos. Because it is land-based, Red Mangrove can offer a more extensive roster of activities and more flexibility than traditional cruise options.

The customary way to experience Red Mangrove's hospitality is to spend a number of nights on each island accessed by small boat and/or aircraft. With 14 guest rooms, Aventura Lodge on Santa Cruz is distinguished by its unique architectural design which blends its mangrove forest and seafront environments tastefully and responsibly. Its location boasts generous views of Puerto Ayora Bay. Separated from the ocean by a white sand, palm-lined beach, Isabela Lodge offers eight rooms outside the sleepy fisherman's village of Puerto Villamil on one of the most volcanically active islands on Earth. Red Mangrove Floreana Lodge is a romantic gathering of 10 private pine cottages just a five minute walk from the village of Puerto Velasco Ibarra (population 150).

Zuji's September Spring Sale

Embrace Spring Fever with ZUJI's September Spring Sale

Australia: The guru says: "Don't pack for a long time. Pack for a good time."

Spring clean your mind and put a spring back in your step – with online travel agent ZUJI's Spring Sale; holidays selected to help you experience the essence of the season around Australia; or the world. Live the fun and fashion of spring carnival racing in Melbourne.   Escape to the gleaming beaches of Fiji or Queensland. Indulge in the fine food and wine during what is arguably Adelaide & Auckland's best season. Admire the effect the blooming gardens have on the breathtaking city of Hobart.  Or succumb to lengthening sun-soaked days along Sydney's harbour side.

See samples below for some of the hottest Spring destinations and savings for flights and hotels stays; for bookings by 30 September 2010. Save even more when you book flights, hotels and cars together as Travel Combos on www.ZUJI.com.au

Melbourne Travel Combo Flight + Hotel: Stay 2 nights at Cube Serviced Apartments with return economy flights from Sydney from $309 p.p. twin/double share.

 Just minutes from the Paris end of Collins Street, the CBD and the Regent, Princess and Her Majesty's theatres, Cube offers affordable accommodation and features 115 brand new and beautifully appointed studio apartments, with kitchenettes and ensuites. In-room features include a 32 inch LCD TV, some rooms include a DVD player, movies, cable and Ipod dock clock. Valid for travel until 20 December 2010.

Wrest Point Hobart, from $105 per night twin/double share.  With absolute water frontage overlooking the sparkling Derwent River, Wrest Point provides first class accommodation with spectacular views, and a wide range of dining and entertainment options. Valid for travel until 20 December 2010.

 BreakFree Alexandra Beach on the Sunshine Coast, stay 3 nights, pay for 2. From $155 p.p. twin/double share.  Located directly opposite the patrolled surf beach, BreakFree Alexandra Beach offers a range of studio, one, two and three bedroom self-contained apartments wrapped around a tropical lagoon pool. Facilities include two heated pools and spas, waterslide, gymnasium, children's playground and BBQ. Valid for travel until 20th December 2010.

Auckland City Hotel, stay 2 nights save 20%, from $78 per night twin/double share.  Auckland City Hotel retains the character and charm of its past, enhanced with contemporary decor. With 138 spacious guest rooms and suites, Auckland City Hotel suits both leisure and business travellers.  Rooms offer eco-friendly products, LCD TV with satellite channels, high speed Internet access, and some have kitchenettes.

Valid for travel until 31 October 2010.

To get you to Auckland in Spring, Zuji's sale fares from Australia to Auckland start from as little as $199.00 per person, each way. Valid for travel until 30 September 2010.

Spring  is in the air- and online- at ZUJI.com.au !

*Advertised prices are correct at the time of publication and include taxes and surcharges. ZUJI charges no booking fees and credit card fees.

All prices shown, including hotel, holiday and flight prices may vary and subject to availability based on the fare types and room types available on your preferred travel dates. Prices based on Economy class only. Hotel prices are lead-in prices and based on per room per night. Holiday prices and savings are per person based on twin share.

About ZUJI

In 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and again in 2009, ZUJI® was recognised as Asia Pacific's 'Best Online Travel Agent', as awarded by TTG travel magazines in Asia Pacific. ZUJI was also awarded as the 'Best Online Travel Agency' in 2007 by the TravelWeekly (Asia) Industry Awards.  'Condé Nast Traveler' magazine (March 08, US-edition) announced ZUJI as the 'best travel web site for flights in Asia'.

ZUJI gives travellers in Asia Pacific online access to real-time travel bookings for thousands of hotels and hundreds of airlines, as well as bringing cruises, car hire, attraction bookings, package tours and other inspirational travel offers, products and tools online.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Denman Hotel & Spa and K7 Adventures' Snow Adventures in Spring

Take advantage of the best spring snow in ‘The Snowys’ for years, by discovering the Snowy Mountains alpine wilderness on cross country skis or snowshoes!

The Denman Hotel & Spa, in association with K7 Adventures, is offering for the first time the thrill of outdoor snow adventure packages. Now you can spend several days touring the Snowy Mountains wilderness in early spring, without the need to ‘rough it’ – returning each evening to stay in the lap of luxury.

Whether a first timer or simply taking advantage of outdoor guiding company K7 Adventures wealth of experience in conducting cross-country ski or snowshoe adventures within this spectacular wilderness region, this is a unique opportunity. “Resort skiing is great, but if you go backcountry you will never forget the experience and will simply want more”, states Peter Cocker, K7 Adventures Senior Guide.

This year has been a late season, but in August more than 200 centimetres of dry powder snow has fallen across the main range of the Snowy Mountains National Park. Peter comments: “This year the best skiing will be in September, lasting until at least mid-October”.

Why cross country skiing or snowshoeing in The Snowy Mountains? “Here are exceptionally long runs, and often your group will have the whole of the Main Range to themselves – there is not another track in the snow and you enjoy amazing scenery; you can often see for over 100 kms across Victoria”, enthuses Peter Cocker.

There are four different all-inclusive 3-night value-added Denman Hotel & Spa Snow Adventure packages available. These are ideal for couples, families and small groups who wish to take advantage of this September and October’s great snow and blue skies. There is even a tented overnight Snow Craft learning adventure, or for the very young easy half-day cross country ski or snowshoe lessons are available.

The Denman Hotel & Spa is Thredbo’s premier boutique hotel, renowned for its fine dining Terrace Restaurant and fun, sophisticated Après Bar. Ed Denny, The Denman’s Proprietor, believes that “there is nothing better than coming in from a fabulous day exploring the backcountry and enjoying gourmet cooking, fine wine and great company!”

The Packages

Prices start from just $1633 for a family of four. These are all-inclusive packages with luxury accommodation and meals at The Denman Hotel & Spa and instruction and guiding by expert K7 Adventures Guides.

For example the Indulgent Snow Adventure includes two days of snow shoeing or cross country skiing lessons plus a full day Kosciuszko Majestic Tour with private guide, plus full breakfasts, 2 nights fine dining in the Terrace Restaurant, packed lunches each day including a special snow picnic as well as a bottle of Vueve Clicquot Champagne.

See www.thedenman.com.au/rates-packages/snowadventures


K7 Adventures

K7 Adventures is an all-seasons specialist for Snowy Mountains’ adventure tours, offering snow shoeing, ski touring or the freedom of nordic skiing through the Kosciuszko Cross Country Ski School in winter as well as trekking, climbing and abseiling in summer,

K7 Adventure Guides are ‘mountain people’ who love where they live and live what they love. Its experienced team of guides and instructors spend winter after winter exploring the back country steeps, finding the sweetest lines and the purest untracked snow, the best views and most surprising angles that become a photographer’s delight. K7 Adventures prides itself on customer service and satisfaction.

The Denman Hotel & Spa

The Denman Hotel & Spa boasts a dress circle position at Diggings Terrace in the heart of Thredbo Village, just a few minutes walk to the Crackenback chairlifts. The Hotel offers 36 guest rooms with ensuites, with a wide range of room styles and sizes, compact to spacious, chalet to contemporary, with no two rooms the same. Room service, porterage and valet parking are included.

Floor to ceiling windows offer stunning daytime mountain views and set the stage for award winning dining at the Denman’s Terrace Restaurant. The Denman Hotel & Spa has won the Restaurant and Catering Association’s “Best Restaurant Southern Region” and is Thredbo’s premier dining venue. Open in winter from 6 pm till late, guests enjoy a la carte dining as part of the Denman tariff.

The Denman’s Après Bar is recognised as the Snowy Mountain’s most sophisticated nightspot. It's a chic metropolitan style cocktail lounge with comfortable seating –ideal for either pre or post dinner.

The Denman Day Spa is the only full day spa in Thredbo and exclusively offers Thalgo treatments from aromatherapy to remedial sports massage. Guests can choose from indulgent spa packages, facial treatments, body treatments, hand and feet treatments, plus waxing and tinting.

Snowy Mountains National Park & Thredbo

Covering 690,000ha. the Snowy Mountains is the largest national park in NSW and one of the Australia’s most significant natural resources – with the highest mountains in Australia as well as the legendary snowy river. Besides having New South Wales' major ski resorts, the Park offers some of the best cross country skiing areas in the world, on its Main Range and Jugungal Wilderness Area. Thredbo is the perfect base from which to explore the Snowy Mountains National Park. It is reminiscent of a European mountain retreat, with its town square and Village atmosphere. It offers undoubtedly Australia’s best selection of après ski activities, with live music and dancing, restaurants and bars.

Château Élan Group Spa Packages

The Spa at Château Élan – The Perfect Place for a Girls' Day In!

Château Élan Destination Spa at The Vintage www.chateauelan.com.au  is the perfect escape for girlfriends looking to share indulgence, friendship and complete relaxation. Spend the day or the whole weekend with half day or overnight packages designed especially for groups of any size (or sex!) to share the love. The luxury spa complex has 17 treatment rooms dedicated to exclusive spa rituals, traditional hydrotherapies and social relaxation. It is one of very few places in the world where people can experience Terraké treatments supplemented by products from prestige group, Thalgo.

The Spa has several unique features with friends in mind. The Santé Room with its cosy fireplace, library and sofa, is perfect for groups of friends (or "hens") to socialise and relax. The Hydrolounge, a comfortable, fire-warmed 'wet' area, equipped with hot and cold plunge pools and a social spa area with a deck that overlooks the rolling vineyards of Beggars Bridge and Barrington Tops, is also available to groups  for self-contained relaxation and indulgence.

Exclusive Spa Packages have also been designed for group sharing a full day escape or a whole weekend:

Half  Day Heaven  from $295 per person includes:

60 min pre treatment in the Hydrolounge.
60 min Swedish massage - a dance-like, flowing style massage technique, along with a collection of classical European moves designed to relax you.
75 min Terre & Mer Organic Facial, using certified organic products from the French Thalgo range, and a 65ml Grown Vanilla & Orange Peel Hand Cream to take home.

Spa Escape Package, weekdays from $250 per person* based on 2 guests includes:

2 x 60 min Swedish Massage- a dance-like, flowing style massage technique, along with a collection of classical European moves designed to relax you.
Geisha Tub with Balneo therapy, allows you to close your eyes, and enjoy the harmony of a tension relieving underwater massage and the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.
Spa Twin or King Room available with full buffet breakfast.  

*Based on a shared room for the treatment, twin or double Geisha tub available.

Whether it's for a special occasion, wedding or no occasion at all, gather your group of friends and visit The Spa at Château Élan. (And to ensure friends who can't make it don't get too jealous, Château Élan Spa Packages packages are now available as a gift voucher to purchase online).

According to CEO Erik Stuebe, "The Spa at Château Élan is not only Australia's newest spa, it's one of the largest and most luxurious in the country. While spa treatments are about relaxation and wellness, we believe that a little bit of indulgence can go a long way. Visitors to our social spa rooms will find the champagne is properly chilled…"

So girls (and guys), what are you waiting for?!

To book phone 02 94998 2500 or email thespa@chateauelan.com.au

 About Château Élan at The Vintage, Hunter Valley, NSW

Château Élan at The Vintage is Australia's finest golf and spa resort. It is located in the heart of the Hunter Valley. Offering a luxury escape for up to 200 guests, the resort comprises a spa with 17 treatment rooms, a hair and beauty salon, 20 super-luxury spa suites and a series of private lifestyle villas. The $40m development is just two hours north of Sydney. It has been co-conceived by the group behind Château Élan in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Vintage is the Hunter Valley's premier residential lifestyle community. At its heart is a Greg Norman-designed course which is ranked #2 in New South Wales and current host of the NSW Open. The Vintage has bar, conference and full dining and catering facilities; the Clubhouse is home to the renowned Legends Grill restaurant.

For more details, packages and special offers, or to book, visit: www.chateauelan.com.au and www.thevintage.com.au .

Penrith Caravan and Camping Expo on this weekend

The Penrith Caravan, Camping & Holiday Expo is on again this weekend at Penrith Panthers.

From 10 to 12 September, record breaking numbers are expected to flock to Penrith Panthers to see over 150 exhibitors displaying the latest caravans, motorhomes, camper trailers, campervans, 5th wheelers, camping equipment and tents, 4WD products and accessories, holiday destinations and tourist park displays.

Barry Baillie CEO of the Caravan and Camping Industry Association believes that the increasing economic stability and the advancing quality of Australia's caravan and camping facilities influenced the record breaking visitor numbers of  88, 237 people to April's Supershow at Rosehill. Mr Baillie trusts that this trend will be replicated at the Penrith show next week.

"Many NSW holiday parks are destinations themselves, with great activities such as jumping pillows and resort style swimming pools and kids clubs during school holidays. Whether you take your own tent or camper trailer or stay in a cabin, holiday parks are great getaways for families."

Caravan and camping tourism is the fastest growing domestic tourism sector in Australia and one that is leading the resurgence for tourism across the nation. 40.9 million visitor nights were spent in caravan or camping accommodation in 2009  this is an increase of 1.3 million nights from 2008.

For those new to the market or those wanting to add to their gear, the Penrith Expo is the ideal event to grab great bargains on everything caravan and camping!

The Penrith Expo is free to the public and offers all the latest and greatest industry products and services at fantastic pre-summer sale prices. Free parking allows guests to have ample time to browse caravans and RVs, tents and many leisure goods.

"Everyone deserves a holiday, and caravan, camping and RV getaways are still the best value holiday option for all Australians, offering something for every budget," said Mr Baillie

"Our website – www.penrith.superhow.com.au – lists all of the Penrith Expo exhibitors for visitors to plan their visit to the show," said Mr Baillie.

The Penrith Expo will be open 9am-5pm daily (closes 4pm Sunday) with free admission and free parking.

For more information, phone the Expo hotline on 1902 220 299 (call costs apply) or visit www.penrith.supershow.com.au

Peppers gets festive for Spring in the Hunter Valley

With thousands of blooms filling the Hunter Valley landscape with spectacular scents and colours, it makes perfect sense for thousands of admirers to flock to experience the Spring Festival of Flowers at the Hunter Valley Gardens from September 1 to 30.

Featuring fabulous entertainment, activities, attractions, demonstrations, talks, tours, workshops and over 250,000 annuals, the Spring Festival of Flowers is the picture perfect reason to visit to the Hunter Valley this time of year.

Peppers Guest House is celebrating the festive time of year with an iconic package to really make your getaway to the Hunter Valley smelling as sweet as roses.

The Hunter Icons Package is perfect for visitors in town for the festival to have a stylish place to stay, and also sample the creations of some of the finest producers in the Hunter Valley.

The package includes a complimentary $50 voucher to Icon Lounge, at the Small Winemakers Centre, presenting a unique opportunity to taste an iconic selection of wines, many of which are unavailable for tasting anywhere else in the Hunter Valley.

The Icon Lounge features a collection of iconic Hunter Shiraz such as Brokenwood Graveyard, the McWilliam's Maurice O´Shea and Thomas Kiss to name but a few.

They have also showcased some of the finest Semillons in the Hunter including one of Australia's most awarded Semillons, the 2003 McWilliam's Lovedale.

With their world-class tasting system you can create your own wine journey; compare the beauty of aged Hunter wines with the youthful vibrancy of a current release or simply relax with a cheese plate on the veranda.

All this to enjoy along with two nights' accommodation in a Vintage or Classic Room at Peppers Guest House, and full buffet breakfast each morning, makes the Hunter Icons Package blooming marvellous during Spring from $275* per night midweek, and $375* per night at weekends.

Enjoy this elegant retreat's range of facilities, including indoor pool and spa, sauna, tennis court, indulgent endota spa, and award-winning dining at the sophisticated on-site Restaurant Sanctuary.

Call 02 49938999 or visit www.peppers.com.au/guest-house

*Conditions apply. Subject to availability. Valid for booking and travel to 30 September 2010. Two night minimum stay applies. Rates based on a per room per night twin share basis, Not valid with any other offer. Voucher not redeemable for cash. Midweek defined as Sunday to Thursday inclusive. A 2-night minimum stay is required Friday and Saturday nights.

Spring into the school holidays at Peppers Anchorage

Couples and families can both find the perfect Spring break away in the picturesque Port Stephens with Peppers Anchorage serving up some savoury packages.

For couples, whether it be wining and dining, exploring the majestic shoreline of Port Stephens, indulging in a relaxing massage or strolling the resort's own marina, your pleasure is for the taking this Springtime.

Enjoy one of the resort's outstanding events, such as the Wine Makers Degustation Dinner in Merrett's Restaurant on-site, from 7pm on September 18, for $130*, featuring a local wine maker to match a featured wine to each course on the menu.

Or delight in fresh seafood at the Mussels & Murray's Boardwalk Dinner, a special signature dining event on the boardwalk of the resort marina, from 6.30pm on October 22, for $60*. Welcome in daylight savings with a delicious banquet served on the boardwalk with mussels as the highlight, boutique beer tasting with Murray's brewery and a drink on arrival.

Families can also take advantage of a special School Holiday offer on sale until the end of September, which lets kids aged between 3 and 12 eat free* during the holidays from September 24 to October 8, and includes accommodation from $185* per night in an Anchorage Room, for travel up until December 23.

Delight the kids with a healthy variety of activities in this action-packed aquatic playground, like snorkelling, dolphin spotting, surf lessons, sea kayaking, visiting family friendly beaches, 4WD tours and horse riding, not to mention the resort's family-friendly facilities.

To book accommodation or events call 02 4984 2555, go to www.peppers.com.au/anchorage  or visit Peppers Anchorage and Merrett's Restaurant at Corlette Point Road, Corlette

*Conditions apply and subject to availability. Block out dates and minimum night stays apply. Children 3-12 eat free 24/9/10 – 8/10/10, when using existing bedding / 1 child dines free off the children's menu, with each full paying adult in Merrett's Restaurant- excludes room service.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Blooming marvellous Peppers packages - Tulip Time Bowral

Tip toe through the tulips with blooming marvellous Peppers packages

It's nearly Tulip Time again in the Southern Highlands, which means magical displays of over 100,000 tulips and 25,000 annuals in bloom to transform Bowral's Corbett Gardens and other local parks into an amazing spectacle of sweeping spring colour.

From September 21 to October 4 this year, the 14-day Tulip Time festival has been delighting locals and visitors for the past 50 years.

To mark such a special anniversary of half a century, two majestic and historic Peppers retreats which pride themselves on the beauty of their own expansive garden estates, are offering the perfect packages for guests to make the most of their stay during the festival.

Take in the variety-laden program of events, including specialist shows on the weekends, some of Australia 's best and most beautiful private gardens opened to the public, and enjoy talks by the owners or head gardeners, all from the ideal accommodation base of Peppers Craigieburn at Bowral, or Peppers Manor House, just 15 minutes away at Sutton Forest.

Both retreats offer stylish accommodation in grand country guest houses that have been refurbished to feature the ultimate in modern comforts and facilities aimed at making your stay relaxing, indulgent and unforgettable.

The High Tea Amongst The Tulips package, at Peppers Craigieburn, includes a accommodation in an Elms Wing Room from $259* per couple per night, breakfast for two and a High Tea for two, served in the gardens if you desire. Call 02 4862 8000 or visit www.peppers.com.au/craigieburn

The Getaway For Tulip Time package, at Peppers Manor House, includes accommodation from $246* per couple per night, along with breakfast for two.

Call 02 4860 3111 or visit www.peppers.com.au/manor-house

Both packages are on offer during September and October, 2010.

For information on the Tulip Time 2010 festival visit www.southern-highlands.com.au/tulip-time

Constellation’s Australia-Wide Spring Hotel Getaways

Whether your ideal short break or holiday is quality time away with family, rekindling the flame with that special person, rejuvenation and relaxation or fun with friends. Constellation Hotels are offering some great spring short break and holiday deals in some of Australia's most sought-after and unique holiday destinations,  with over 60 hotels across Australia and New Zealand.

Australis offers seven idyllic hotels and apartments located in Diamond Beach (NSW), Surfers Paradise, Noosaville, Hervey Bay, Townsville, Wisemans Ferry and Margaret River – the perfect choice for a holiday with the family, friends or a romantic getaway for two.

Australis Diamond Beach Resort & Spa is located 3 hours north of Sydney on the New South Wales mid-north coast. Spring school holiday packages including supervised Kids Club from $229 per night for up to 2 adults and 2 children or rejuvenate with a spa package from $249* including 2 endotarama spa treatments and a bottle of champagne on arrival.

Further north, at Australis Noosa Lakes on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, lose yourself in the seven landscaped acres on the shores of Lake Doonella and the Noosa River. From only $124* per night including a $50 Marina Spa voucher.

Enjoy spring in the city with Chifley Hotels. Spend sunny days strolling the streets lined with shops, restaurants, cafes and bars. Spring is the ideal season to catch the latest spring gigs, shows and events in major city and regional hubs around Australia including Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle, Albury, Brisbane, Adelaide, South-West Victoria, Geelong, Cairns and Alice Springs.

If it's the tropics that you want, spend a few days at Chifley Pacific International Hotel, Cairns exploring the Great Barrier Reef, perusing art galleries, shopping and dining. With packages from $129* per night including a complimentary superior room upgrade, bottle of bubbly on arrival, full breakfast for two and parking, there has never been a better time for a short tropical escape.

Relax on an easy spring break in Adelaide, with Grand Chifley on South Terrace, offering breakfast for two and a $20 restaurant voucher from only $160*. Visit the surrounding vineyards and pick up a souvenir drop at the cellar door…an ideal way to say good bye to Winter!

If you're ready to shake off those winter blues and the sun and surf is your thing, then take a family mini-break to Wollongong and stay at the brand new ultra chic Chifley Wollongong from only $225* including free meals for kids and up to 20% off Wollongong's top attractions, or spoil someone special with a bottle of sparkling  wine and cheese platter on arrival, full breakfast for two and a late check out from $279* per night.

Guests of any Constellation will also receive complimentary membership into The Escape Club program. A great value holiday plus a reward program that not only offers real dollar rewards but a free drink too! So what are you waiting for?

To join and for more information on the great range of Spring getaways at Constellation Hotels visit www.constellationhotels.com/spring or call 1300 650 464.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


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


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



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

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


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.


- Breakfast in bed served daily

- Free sexy wake up calls from Lodge staffers

- On the spot back rubs available on request


- 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

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.



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



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.


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.

Adelaide's Iconic Mercure Grosvenor Hotel

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.

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

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