Sunday, February 28, 2010

Being Single Doesn’t Mean You Have To Travel Solo

Grand Pacific Tours, the New Zealand Luxury Coach Holiday specialist, know that coach touring throughout New Zealand is skewed towards the senior traveller, it is an age group where many travel without partners for various reasons and maybe feel a little inhibited surrounded by couples. By joining a tour specifically aimed towards single travellers they get the opportunity to travel with like-minded individuals and enjoy a holiday in a comfortable environment.

The company’s release in 2009-10 of 3 dedicated ‘Single Traveller’ departures proved to be an outstanding success with many in the industry praising the initiative as long overdue.

Buoyed by this, Grand Pacific Tours have released a dedicated Single Travellers Luxury Coach Holidays for 2010-11 with guaranteed departures on their 19 Day Grand Tour, 16 Day Highlights Tour and 10 Day Ultimate South Island Escape.

• The 19 Day & 16 Day tours will be FULLY ESCORTED by a long standing Grand Pacific Tours’ Escort. Their professional approach will help ‘break the ice’ and ensure the group bond to be one big happy family.

• The 10 Day Ultimate Escape offers two departures travelling aboard the 20 seat Ultimate Coach staying in Premium accommodation.

• On the first night a special introductory dinner including a complimentary welcome drink, will give all travellers the opportunity to circulate and get to know their fellow travelling companions before they set off on their journey.

• Grand Pacific Tours reserved seating policy at all hotels for breakfast and dinner will put the traveller’s mind at rest that they will never need to dine alone.

• For the budget conscious traveller our normal ‘single to twin’ policy will be available and individuals will be paired up according to gender and age. A single supplement is still available for those wanting more privacy.

More information can be found at or by calling 1800 622 768.

EscapeTo Melbourne This Easter

Escape to Melbourne this Easter with these Hot Deals from Oaks Hotels and Resorts.

Oaks on Lonsdale
Oaks on Lonsdale is located in one of Melbourne’s hippest shopping and entertainment precincts offering generously appointed studio, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments with fully equipped kitchen facilities and balconies (apartments only).

• Easter Special - 2 Bedroom Family Package plus hot cross buns on arrival - $249 per night*

*Minimum 2 night stay

Oaks on Market
Oaks on Market is centrally located, offering easy access to Melbourne’s attractions: shopping, theatres, dining and entertainment, the recently refurbished property comprises of 280 luxuriously appointed Studio, 1 and 2 bedroom fully self-contained apartments.

• Easter Special - 2 Adults + 2 Kids in a 2 Bedroom Apartment. Breakfast for 2 plus kids eat free including hot cross buns on arrival - $269 per night*
• Easter Special - Studio Room plus Breakfast for 2 with drink voucher and hot cross buns on arrival - $169 per night*

*Minimum 2 night stay

Oaks On Collins
Situated in the heart of Melbourne Oaks on Collins offers chic, New York-style apartment accommodation consisting of superbly-appointed self-contained studios.

• Easter Special - Studio package includes upgrade to Exec plus Breakfast for 2, drink voucher and hot cross buns on arrival - $169 per night*

*Minimum 2 night stay

Friday, February 26, 2010

Passengers Wanted for the Extraordinary Taxi Ride

Australian and international passengers are now being recruited to be part of The Extraordinary Taxi Ride - an epic nine week journey by taxi across Western Australia (WA) visiting extraordinary natural attractions - many exclusive to WA. Some of these include the Bungle Bungle Range in World Heritage Listed Purnululu National Park; Ningaloo Reef – the largest fringing reef in the world; and, Australia’s whitest beach - Lucky Bay in Esperance.

From Monday 1 March, passengers can apply to travel on one of the 11 ‘legs’ of the journey by visiting and nominating why they should be part of the journey. Each of the 11 lucky winners will then have the opportunity to invite a friend or family member on the journey with them to share in their adventure.

Throughout the journey, passengers will be filmed experiencing extraordinary Western Australia. The story of the journey will then be told online, in press, on radio, outdoors and on TV.

Highlights of the journey include:

LEG 1: Vines, Forests & Beaches 09-12 April
Swim with dolphins, feast on premium food and wine, and explore the stunning beaches, forests and caves of the South West of WA, voted one of the world’s best regions by Lonely Planet 2010 and home to the famous Margaret River wine region.

LEG 2: Great Southern Explorer 13-16 April
Explore the deep South West of WA – breathtaking tall tree forests, sweeping seaside scenery, tempting truffles and Aboriginal history. A highlight is the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk in Walpole - the first walk trail of its kind in the world.

LEG 3: Perth Lifestyle 17-20 April
Celebrate the relaxed outdoor lifestyle of Australia’s sunniest city. Check out the exciting Red Bull Air Race (known as the grand prix of the sky), take a tour of Kings Park & Botanic Garden with an Aboriginal guide and explore the holiday playground of Rottnest Island; a car free zone just off Perth.

LEG 4: Natural Outback Wonders 21-28 April
Travelling from outback to ocean, visit Wave Rock in Hyden before seeing the real deal off Australia’s whitest beach, Lucky Bay in Esperance. Along the way learn about the land from an Aboriginal guide, visit the Gormley Statues, tee off at the world’s longest golf course and explore gold country in Kalgoorlie.

LEG 5: Coast & Nature Spectacular 29 April – 5 May
Enjoy sealife, snorkelling and plenty of sunshine. Marvel at the unearthly spectacle of the Pinnacles, a beach made entirely of tiny shells, the daily ritual of the dolphins of Monkey Mia and the marine life of the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.

LEG 6: Ningaloo Reef Adventure 6 – 11 May
Nominated for World Heritage Listing, Ningaloo Reef is an underwater wonderland easily accessible from shore. Go swimming or snorkelling and see an abundance of sea life including the gentle whale shark – the largest fish in the ocean which visits the region from April to July each year.

LEG 7: Karijini Discovery 12 – 17 May
Get ready for some serious outback adventure along the Warlu Way. Explore some of the oldest rock gorges on earth at Karijini National Park and refresh in their cooling rock pools. At night enjoy relaxing under the stars and a spot of luxury camping.

LEG 8: Northern Coast Escape 18 -23 May
Continuing along the trail of the Warlu (snake serpent from Aboriginal legend), the journey heads to the coast taking in the famous Eighty Mile Beach then the exotic outback town of Broome. Here relax and take in a camel ride, swim in the pristine waters off Cable Beach and learn about the pearling history of Broome.

LEG 9: Australia Way 24 -31 May
Big rocks, big water features and big music. Enjoy the Bungle Bungle Range in World Heritage Listed Purnululu National Park, the magnificent wildlife of Lake Argyle (more than 20 times the size of Sydney Harbour) and the spectacle of the AirNorth Kimberley Moon concert.

LEG 10: The Gibb River Road 1 – 9 June
An iconic 4WD adventure across the Kimberley – one of the world’s last true wilderness areas. Go cattle mustering, barramundi fishing and relax under waterfalls and in hot thermal springs. Highlights include staying at El Questro Wilderness Park and Home Valley Station.

LEG 11: North West Highlights 10-14 June
Rich red earth, white sands and brilliant blue skies. This leg explores areas of the Kimberley coast and includes visiting the award winning Kooljaman Wilderness Camp at Cape Leveque. The jewel of this leg is an extraordinary flight over the world’s only horizontal waterfall.

If you like what you’ve heard so far and love playing up to the camera, visit, select the journey leg you want to go on, and tell us why we should pick you! Applications open 1 March and close midnight Friday 26 March, and each winning entrant must be available to travel between April and June 2010.

The Extraordinary Taxi Ride is part of Tourism WA’s new marketing campaign, designed to encourage people from within the State, Australia and around the world to come to Western Australia for their holidays, and Experience Extraordinary.

Port Stephens to Host NSW State Outrigger Titles

On the 27& 28 March 2010, athletes, competitors and spectators from all over New South Wales will converge on the pristine waters of Port Stephens, to be a part of the NSW State Outrigger titles hosted by Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Club and proudly sponsored by Shoal Bay Resort & Spa.

The prestige of holding the state titles in Port Stephens is testament to the success of previous years outrigger challenge events held in the Port.

Hosted by The Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Club and proudly sponsored by Shoal Bay Resort & Spa, Mother Energy Drink & Coca Cola, this event will be conducted over two days, the format of the competition will include a mixture of inshore and offshore racing.

2010 will be the biggest ever Port Stephens Outrigger event, hosting the state titles will be a huge draw card that will massively increase spectator & competitor numbers as will Port Stephens Outrigger Canoe Clubs’ reputation for organising an efficient, well run program in previous years. A short & long course race for the state titles will be held on the Saturday, with the Sunday holding the ‘MOTHER’ sponsored combination outrigger obstacle challenge race, that will have over $6000 cash prizes as well as a proposed celebrity race with big name locals.

Sunday’s race will see competitors vying for over $6000 in cash and prizes in the MOTHER of all races Twin Peak Challenge. Competitors will not only compete in an in-shore canoe race, they will be also challenged to run to the top of Tomaree & Yacaaba heads and canoe back to the finish line. This race will prove to be a gruelling and exciting event.

Coinciding with this event will be a huge focus on family fun, entertainment and social activities throughout the entire competition weekend.

While a relatively young sport in Australia, outrigger canoeing is also one of the fastest growing water sports in Australia. It attracts competitors of all ages, but particularly those in the 30 years and over age group, as a low impact adventure sport.

For tens of thousands of years Polynesian people have used sleek, streamlined and graceful outrigger canoes as their primary means of transport between their island homes. In the 20th Century, outrigger canoeing has evolved into a highly contested modern sport that pits athletes against the elements, themselves and their own physical and psychological limits.

Be at Shoal Bay from 7.30am on the 27th March and 9.30am on 28th March to see all the colour and excitement of this premier regatta. Kick on into the night at the ‘MOTHER’ of all parties, which will be held on Saturday night 27 March at the Country Club Hotel at Shoal Bay Resort & Spa from 6.30pm with free live entertainment from 8pm onwards.

A range of accommodation options are also available from just $72 per person per night. *Terms and conditions apply. Call 1800 18 18 10 or visit for more information.

Shoal Bay Resort & Spa – proud supporters of the Port Stephens Outrigger NSW State Titles 2010.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Sultanate of Oman travel profile

Take the rough with the smooth on an Arabian drive through Oman

From the vast barren deserts, rocky deepwater fjords and the beauty of the ancient forts, to the hospitality of the Omani people and the modern opulence of its luxury hotels, The Sultanate of Oman is a true joy to the senses for visitors taking a drive across this treasured land.

With so much opportunity for those wishing to experience both the 'glamour' of Oman, as well as its more traditional Arabic heritage and breathtaking landscapes, a good idea is to combine both aspects with a guided tour drive. With the use of an air-conditioned, comfortable 4WD vehicle - often a Toyota Land Cruiser - these tours come complete with a highly knowledgeable, English-speaking guide, who is ready to tailor-make a 'desert crossing' experience to your requirements.

Providing for the ultimate Arabian experience, many tours begin in the elegant capital, Muscat, a location which provides an abundant choice of the world's most exclusive five and six-star properties, all of which focus on quality and sustainability.

Names include The Grand Hyatt, Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa and The Al Bustan Palace – the truly magnificent six star property built to host royalty and some of the world's wealthiest nations, including the six member states of the Gulf Cooperative Council.

From Muscat, head north to the foot of the Hajar Mountains, following a mountain trail through dry wadis. Wadis are the key to understanding the Omani lifestyle outside of the capital. Seasonal riverbeds that flow throughout the country, and which only fill up from time to time after heavy rains, wadis have for centuries, provided a place for locals to wash, bathe and play. They also reveal an abundance of waterfalls, caves, oases and dramatic views.

Take the opportunity to go mountain climbing in the spectacular mountains, where the growing popularity of organised expeditions lends itself to some truly stunning experiences.  Take your pick from either a leisurely or an 'extreme' option, and after a day climbing the 3,000m high peak of Jebel Shams, an overnight accommodation option is to stay at a camp retreat set amongst the stunning landscape.

Accessibility is not a problem in The Sultanate, as your guided tour will take advantage of the new and extensive road network. Where there was once only 10 miles of asphalt road in the whole of Oman, now a program of building has created a network of more than 16,500 kms of asphalt roads and motorways which link the main cities in the north and south.

These roads provide discovery to a country which still has massive areas of unexplored wilderness, a fact which becomes apparent when you come face to face with the spectacular desert formations of the Wahiba Sands.

Here is the location for Desert Nights camp. A true reflection of Oman's authentic Arabic style and just a two hour drive from Muscat, Desert Nights offers an oasis of untamed spectacular open spaces within the beauty of the Wahiba sands. Sprawled across 10-acres of silken sands, luxurious Bedouin-style tents await those who seek the ultimate desert adventure vacation, as well as the ultimate in personalised service.
Travelling on through beautiful and often diverse desert landscapes, and onto the great coastal road, the opportunity awaits for some camping of the more 'rugged' sort, amidst the stunning serenity and wildlife of locations such as Khaluf Bay. With help from your guides, you will be able to pitch a tent in the sand dunes, just metres from the sea, kms from anywhere and at one with nature. Pure bliss!
En route to your next destination, learn more about the unique Omani hospitality by paying a visit to a local Bedouin family. Within the confines of one of these remote homes, you will be welcomed with qahwa (traditional Arabic coffee) and dates. And like just about everywhere you may go in this deeply patriotic country, you will see a picture of Oman's deeply revered leader, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said, hanging on the wall.

There is a strong likelihood that your guide will inform you that in Oman, the people are indebted to their Sultan who has achieved so much for them.

Indeed they are, as for much of the last century, Oman was an insular society, virtually isolated from the rest of the world. It wasn't until the current Sultan Qaboos took over the country from his father in 1970, that the foundations of the new economy were built, with running water, electricity and free schooling available for all.

Signal the end of your great desert crossing with the drive into Salalah, the administrative capital of the Dhofar region of Oman and the country's southernmost city. Unlike other regions, lush greenery prevails here, as a result of being the only place in the peninsula that receives the South East monsoon showers from June to late September or early October.

Known as the Khareef (winds of plenty), this is the season when people flock to see the land of mist and mountains in all its glory. The entire region is swathed in green, with the showers causing a significant drop in temperatures, thus ensuring the cool capital city of Salalah a permanent place on the Oman tourist map for visitors escaping the searing summer heat of the Gulf.

For further information, please contact:


Ph: 02 9286 8930



Monday, February 22, 2010

Best Western Opens New Phuket, Thailand Hotel

Best Western International – The World's Largest Hotel Chain® - has opened its latest resort on Phuket, Thailand. The new Best Western Sawaddi Patong Hotel truly is located in the 'heart of the action', superbly situated in the island's most popular tourist enclave of Patong.

Its location means an abundance of shopping, dining, recreational activities, nightlife and other entertainment opportunities are within walking distance. Patong Beach with all its watersports, beach chairs and swimming is also a short distance from the resort.

Best Western's 13th property in Thailand and fourth on Phuket, Best Western Sawaddi Patong Hotel's 146 fully-appointed deluxe rooms and suites are unassumingly comfortable and pleasing to the eye. Whether a Standard, Superior or Deluxe room or a Suite, all enjoy fully wired convenience characterised by complimentary internet access and 32" LCD TV with cable channels.

The array of facilities at Best Western Sawaddi Patong Hotel includes the Roydi restaurant serving Western and Oriental cuisine, Poolside bar and Ploendi Lobby bar, swimming pool, fitness room, games room, Kid's Club, business centre, meeting room and Vara Spa.

"Best Western Sawaddi Patong Hotel is a much welcome addition to the Best Western family in Thailand. This beautiful property offers guests a sanctuary of comfortable, value-for-money accommodation and fine service, while all the sights and sounds of exciting Patong can be explored right outside. It really is a great location for a Phuket stay" said Glenn de Souza, Vice President International Operations-Asia, Best Western International.

The Jungceylon shopping and entertainment centre is five minutes drive from the resort, offering brand name shops, a movie theatre and also a Carrefour supermarket. Phuket town is a mere 20 minutes drive, while getting to and from Phuket International Airport is also a breeze, at 45 minutes. Many other attractions like Simon Cabaret and Phuket FantaSea are also easily reached by road.


Announcing Cruise West's Galápagos in 2011

Cruise West (, the world's leading provider of small-ship explorations to the most fascinating destinations on earth, has added three additional Galápagos Island departures in 2011 for total of five voyages.   Discover the natural paradise that inspired Darwin to rock the scientific world and discover new wonders everyday.  Take advantage of the savings -- pay in full by April 30, 2010 and save up to $600 per person.

In the company of naturalist guides, aboard the gracious 50-suite Galápagos Explorer II, sister to ship to the lines Spirit of Oceanus, guests will scout for breaching whales, pink flamingos, blue-footed boobies, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, tiny penguins and flightless cormorants, to name just a few of the many species that call the Galápagos home.  Much of this extraordinary wildlife has never developed a fear of man.  The stunning wildlife viewing combined with exploring the volcanic shores of the remote islands and relaxing at pristine beaches makes the journey remarkable.

The 9-night journey starts at Latin America's best-preserved colonial historic center, Quito, with a city tour, welcome dinner at the Theatrum Restaurant & Wine Bar in the National Theater and two included overnights at the centrally located Hilton Colon Quito. Guests continue via plane to San Cristobal Island to board the Galápagos Explorer II for the next 7-nights, where the island adventure begins.

Guests will visit all the 'hot spots' to search for the wonderful creatures that Galápagos is known including: the southernmost island Española (Hood) that offers an amazing assortment of wildlife; Santa Cruz to visit the renowned Darwin Station and Puerto Ayora, the largest town in the islands; Rabida island with its startling red sand; desolate yet breathtaking Bartolomé Island that features a tuff cone known as Pinnacle Rock; Santiago (James) Island, the only island where fur seals can be found in the Galápagos; and Fernandina Island, where marine iguanas bask on every plausible surface and penguins can be found diving into the water.

Continue onto Isabela Island with its massive volcanoes and where intrepid sea-goers can snorkel at a cave that boasts a dazzling array of marine wildlife; ending the journey back at Santa Cruz Island to search for the 40 giant tortoises that live in the highlands.

Guests have the option to add a fully guided, post-cruise 5-night Land Tour of Cusco and Machu Picchu.  Spend one night in Lima en route to Cusco for two nights to explore the lively markets and significant monuments of the Inca Fortress, Citadel of Ollantaytambo and the Pisac ruins in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.  Then it's onto a scenic train ride to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to one of the Seven New Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Machu Picchu.  Guests will be welcomed to the charming Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel for a two-night stay.

Galápagos cruises depart March 14, 21; August 15, 22; and October 10, 2011. Prices begin at $4,999 per person, double occupancy.  Save up to $600 per person by paying in full by April 30, 2010.  For further details, visit, call 800-296-8307 or a travel professional.

Mary Rossi Travel Celebrates 40 years of Travel Excellence

Claudia Rossi Hudson, Managing Director of the award winning agency Mary Rossi Travel, starts off celebrations of the company's 40 years in travel, hosting a client luncheon at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron on Wednesday 24th February 2010. 

Guest of honour at the function will be the founder of the company, Mary Rossi O.B.E., who led the company for its first 30 years, before handing over the reins to her daughter Claudia in 2000. 

A mother of 10 children and with an established career in television, Mary Rossi started the business in 1970 in response to a request from the shipping company, Lloyd Triestino, to lead a tour to places of Christian significance in Europe. Her ability to graciously combine a rich family life with a successful career was an inspiration to women around Australia. 

The first tour departed in 1971 on the stylish 'Galileo' with over 300 passengers on a four month round-world tour. On board was Mrs Rossi and many of her children. The company diversified over the coming years with innovative tours taking in cooking schools and wine appreciation courses in France and Italy and special interest trips created for music lovers and those interested in art and culture. 

A passion for beautiful hotels and a close personal relationship with hotel owners around the world led the company to establish a representative arm with a portfolio of well known names such as the Seiyo Ginza Hotel, The Phoenician, Rosewood Hotels and for many years Relais & Chateaux.  The company is currently the GSA for a number of specialist tour operators such as Butterfield and Robinson, Living Italy, Hidden Italy, Sea Cloud and River Cloud. 

Throughout its history Mary Rossi Travel has received numerous awards from the industry and consumers alike. It was  nominated as the Best of the Best by Courvoisier in the 1990s and Best Luxury Travel agent three times in recent years. 

Though still at school when the company was founded, Claudia Rossi Hudson, has been involved in the business from the earliest days. She had a six year absence from the business after completing her MBA in 1994 and establishing a career in financial planning. 

Claudia returned to the industry in 2000 to take over Mary Rossi Travel with her husband, Roger Hudson, thus keeping it a family company. 

Since she stepped in to lead the company in 2000, Claudia has led Mary Rossi Travel through some of the most turbulent times ever experienced in the travel industry. The business continues to flourish with a strong team of experienced travel consultants and growing list of loyal clients who appreciate the high touch service and creative itinerary planning. 

Mary Rossi Travel is a founding Australian member of the exclusive VIRTUOSO international network of agencies, hotels, resorts, and "in country expert on site" representatives. Mary Rossi Travel is also a member of the Travelscene Corporate travel network. 

The resilience, energy and expertise of its management has led Mary Rossi Travel to grow its business from organising guided cruise tours to Europe in 1971 to today's full range of services to Leisure, Corporate/Business Travellers, Incentive Groups and Special Interest Tours. 

Visit New Zealand while it’s still overseas. Virgin Blue sale on now!

Last year, New Zealand moved 30cm closer. In 7.5 million years, it is due to connect with Australia. With 30cm less to fly, we've passed on the savings, with sale fares to 6 destinations across New Zealand plus great sale deals including airfares and accommodation. So hurry book your sale deal now and visit New Zealand while it's still overseas.

Top Sale Fares...
fares from
Sydney Hamilton $149*
Sydney Christchurch $179*
Melbourne Auckland $184*
Sydney Wellington $199*
Brisbane Dunedin $204*
Sydney Queenstown $279*
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $495pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $497pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $499pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $538pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $621pp^.
Stay 4 nights, pay 3. Airfares & 4 nights from $788pp^.
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Virgin Blue

Virgin Blue Sale Period: On sale until 23 March 2010, or until sold out.
Virgin Blue Travel Period: Tuesday 20 April 2010 to Thursday 24 June 2010.

Blue Holidays

Blue Holidays Sale Period: On sale until 23 March 2010, or until sold out.
Blue Holidays Travel Period 1: Tuesday 20 April 2010 to Thursday 24 June 2010.
Blue Holidays Travel Period 2: Tuesday 20 July 2010 to Thursday 16 September 2010.

*Departing Melbourne to Auckland, departing Sydney to Christchurch, Hamilton, Wellington and Queenstown. Departing Brisbane to Dunedin. Seats are limited and may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Fares are one way on the net, or $15 more by phone. A credit/debit card surcharge of $5 per person per one way flight is applicable for flights internationally. International flights between Australia and New Zealand operated by Pacific Blue Airlines (N.Z.) Ltd. International return fare may vary with the addition of local taxes and charges. Fares are correct as at 15 February 2010 and are subject to change. Fares are on sale until 23 March 2010 or until sold out, for travel from 20 April 2010 to 24 June 2010. Cairns to Auckland service commences 23 March 2010. More sale fares available from other ports.

^Departing Melbourne to Auckland & Christchurch. Departing Brisbane to Dunedin & Hamilton. Departing Sydney to Queenstown & Wellington. Prices based on per person, twin share. Seats are limited and may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Package price is per person twin share and is correct as at 25 Jan 2010. Package on sale until 23 March 2010, for travel 20 April 2010 to 24 June 2010 and 20 July - 16 September 2010. During some periods air and hotel pricing may not be available and surcharges may apply. Prices are subject to availability and are not guaranteed until the booking is completed and confirmed. Full payment is required at the time of booking and cancellation or amendment fees apply. Package pricing is based on web bookings or $30 more per person by phone, capped at 4 people. A credit card service fee is included in the total package price. Prices based on direct route, including taxes, levies and other government charges which may vary and are subject to change. Seasonal surcharges may apply. Hotel rates quoted are based on double occupancy, per room, per night, per person, per package, unless otherwise noted. Prices based on lead-in room, additional rooms available. More packages available, visit

Hurtigruten, Spitsbergen And Polar Bears - Combined For 2010


Savings of 15% on Cabins and 25% Plus Free Air on Suites Offered on 11-Day Sailing

Spitsbergen, the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago, located above the Arctic Circle, is populated with more than 4,500 polar bears, making it one of the best places in the world for sightings, albeit without guarantees. And Hurtigruten is making every effort to accommodate that opportunity for its guests by offering itineraries that explore the far flung reaches of the islands where the King of the Arctic reigns supreme: the nine-day "Svalbard Explorer," nine-day "Kingdom of the Polar Bear" and the groundbreaking 11-day climatology expedition "Climate Pilgrimage."  The departures are between May 29 and August 19, 2010, with prices ranging from $4,016 to $9,516 (CAD $4,220 - $9,340) per person, double.  Most sailings are aboard the relatively new deluxe expedition ship, MS Fram, built purposefully for the Arctic and Antarctic waters.

                Spitsbergen's stunning landscape of jagged peaks and arctic tundra and abundance of wildlife ranging from polar bears, Svalbard reindeer and arctic foxes to whales, walruses and ringed and harp seals makes for an ideal location to study climate change - the theme of a groundbreaking 11-day expedition cruise being offered May 29. And to make it even more enticing, Hurtigruten is offering a 25% discount and free air from NY for those booking suites by April 30 - other cabin grades enjoy a 15% savings offer (no air). Guests aboard the MS Fram will have the opportunity to visit research stations, track wildlife, participate in field studies and meet with some of the field's top research scientists - getting the climate story from those who are best informed. Highlights include Norway's Tromso; Honningsvag, Europe's northernmost city; a visit to the North Cape; a stop in Gjesvaerstappen, a unique birding cliff where the Norwegian Polar Institute has studied a host of seabirds; exploration of Spitsbergen; and possibly crossing the 80th parallel. The focus of the research is on the effect of climate changes on wildlife - sea birds, polar bears, auks, Arctic foxes, walruses - as well as the phenomenon called surging glaciers. Fares range from $4,823 to $9,516 before the savings. (11-day sailing is marketed in the U.S.)

                The "Svalbard Explorer" encompasses the entire west coast of Spitsbergen all the way up to the 80th Parallel. After spending a day in Longyearbyen, Svalbard's largest settlement, the MS Fram takes its guests to a variety of stunning places: beautiful fjords such as Hornsund Fjord, Magdalenefjord and Krossfjord; Bear Island with its famous cliff Stappen, home to hundreds of thousands of Brunnich's guillemots; landings on the Ahlstrands Peninsula or Calyposbyen; guided walks in Ny-Alesund, the world's northernmost settlement; and spending time at the edge of the North Pole ice edge. Prices range from $4,016 to $7, 403 (CAD $4,220 - $7,780) for the nine-day adventure.

                There are two nine-day "Kingdom of the Polar Bear" itineraries. Itinerary 1 explores the northern and eastern regions of Spitsbergen, always on the lookout for the king of the Arctic animals. Besides the day in Longyearbyen, guests take in Ny-Alesund; several fjords - Magdalenefjord, Smeerenburgfjord, Woodfjord, Wahlenbergfjord, Murchinsonfjord, Hornsund and Icefjord; Hinlopen Strait and the bird cliffs of Alkefjellet; with numerous Zodiac landings along the way. Itinerary 2 is a variation -- adding a visit to Kvitoya, where the ice cap covers 98% of this easternmost island, and where the remains of the 1897 Andree Arctic balloon expedition were found in 1930. Fares range from $5,403 to $8,887 (CAD $5,680 - $9,340).

Saving offers include a10% "Repeater" discount - for passengers who sailed on any Hurtigruten ship in the past three years; "AARP" and "AAA" members receive a $50 shipboard credit; and guests booking a voyage within five weeks of their last sailing receive a 10% "Welcome Back" discount, combinable with the 10% "Repeater" discount. 

All Spitsbergen itineraries include daily lectures from onboard naturalist guides, expedition leaders and Zodiac landings, all meals aboard and some on land, cabin category selected, shore excursions, transfers and port charges. Round-trip flights from New York via Oslo are available as are add-on airfares from dozens of other North American cities; optional excursions, gratuities, and fuel surcharges and taxes are additional. Itineraries are subject to change due to weather and ice conditions and may differ from one departure to another.

                Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition cruising, sailing to the most remote of destinations including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic's Spitsbergen. Information, brochures and reservations can be obtained from Hurtigruten Inc., (800) 323-7436; fax (954) 486-9340; for brochures (800) 582-0835, 24 hours a day;

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reef Endeavour hosts Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama on Maiden Fijian Voyage

Reef Endeavour hosts Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama On Maiden Fijian Voyage

Captain Cook Cruises MV Reef Endeavour departed on her inaugural Fiji Cruise on Saturday 6th February with special guests Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama and his wife. The cruise celebrated the return of Fiji's largest shipping export.

At 73 metres in length and 3,000 tonnes, the MV Reef Endeavour is the largest vessel to have been built by the Fiji Government Shipyard. She was launched in 1994 and sailed to Cairns Australia to operate weekly cruises of the Great Barrier Reef.

In January Captain Cook Cruises announced MV Reef Endeavour would relocate back to Fiji to replace the 120-passenger vessel MV Reef Escape which had sustained damage during the Cyclone Mick in December 2009.

Prime Minister Bainimarama was joined on MV Reef Endeavour's inaugural Fiji cruise by other dignitaries including The Defence Minister -Honourable Ratu Inoke Kubuabola and The Commissioner for Police -Commodore Esala Taleni 

The MV Reef Endeavour has taken over the MV Reef Escape's four itineraries - the three night Southern Yasawa Islands cruise, four night Northern Yasawa Islands cruise, the seven night Yasawa Islands cruise and the seven nights Northern Fiji Dateline cruise continuing the cultural cruises that have proved so popular with passengers.

Featuring 75 staterooms and cabins the MV Reef Endeavour has the ability to nearly double the passengers Captain Cook Cruises have been carrying on their Fiji itinerary for more than 14 years.

The deployment of the Reef Endeavour to Fiji demonstrates Captain Cook Cruises commitment to the Fijian Tourism industry.

"We believe the delivery of the Reef Endeavour to Fiji demonstrates our commitment to developing Tourism in Fiji and giving tourists the best opportunity to experience the real Fiji. We are very grateful for all of the assistance that our industry partners and the Fijian Government have given us in bringing the Reef Endeavour back to her home." Said Mr Nick Hortle, CEO, Captain Cook Cruises.

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

Monday, February 15, 2010



February 16, 2010 -  When China hosted the 29th Summer Olympic Games in 2008, the event focused global attention not just on the host city, Beijing, but on the entire nation.

Now China is preparing again to host a major international event - World Expo 2010, Shanghai – a six month extravaganza which will showcase a vast range of cultural, artistic and commercial offerings from over 200 countries.

"World Expo will be a much larger event than the Olympics," said Helen Wong, Managing Director Helen Wong's Tours, the only private company authorised to sell World Expo tickets in Australia.

 "This event is expected to attract some 70 million visitors during its six month season, from 01 May until 31 October," said Helen.

"Not only does this enable people to experience the exciting attractions of the Expo, and the spectacular host city of Shanghai. It also provides fresh opportunities for visitors to explore some of the countless other regions of China, one of the world's most extraordinary and fastest-growing destinations."

Throughout the 184-day World Expo, more than 20,000 events are scheduled to be held at 35 venues, many of them within the 5.3 square kilometre Expo site in the heart of Shanghai.

Centred on the theme "Better City, Better Life", Expo participants will host national pavilion days throughout the event, and various regions of China will be showcased.

For travellers from Australia, Helen Wong's Tours has developed a range of Shanghai and World Expo packages lasting eight days and six nights, priced from $1800 per person, twin share from Sydney and Melbourne, from $2150 per person, twin share ex Brisbane and from $2495 per person, twin share ex Adelaide and Perth.

Packages include Economy Class air fares to and from China, six nights' accommodation in a four star hotel, a three day Expo Pass with transfers, six buffet breakfasts, two lunches and one dinner, English speaking guides, a Chinese visa for Australian passport holders, a travel kit including a 424 page Odyssey China book and travel bag, and applicable airline taxes and charges. Prices vary with season of travel.

Shorter packages to Shanghai are also available for three days and two nights with a one day Expo Pass, four days/three nights with a two day Expo pass or five days/four nights with a three day pass. All Shanghai and Expo tours can be combined with other packages from Helen Wong's Tours to a range of destinations throughout China.

For more information on these or other holiday ideas from Helen Wong's Tours, please visit or call 1300 788 328.

Follow Elysium's Extraordinary Explorers As They Document The Impact Of Climate Change On Antarctica

And Prepare For The 100th Anniversary Of Shackleton's 20th Century Trans-Antarctic Expedition

On 10 February 2010, a 57-member team of explorers from 18 countries will meet in Ushuaia, Argentina – the world’s southernmost city – to embark on a benchmark expedition to Antarctica. The Elysium Epic expedition has two purposes: to provide an in-depth scientific photographic survey of Antarctica’s flora and fauna and the impact of climate change on the planet’s last wilderness, and to produce a documentary commemorating the 100th anniversary of Shackleton’s Trans Antarctic challenge in 1914.

Polar dive and expedition cruise expert, Waterproof Expeditions ( has organized for the team to sail onboard the modern ice-strengthened Russian research vessel, Professor Molchanov. As the experts in operating polar dive trips, Waterproof Expeditions will also manage the dive operation for the full expedition.

The 21-day voyage will follow the route Shackleton and his crew travelled after the loss of the Endurance on their epic 20th century expedition - from the Weddell Sea, across the notorious Drake Passage to Elephant Island where Shackleton’s men waited for more than four months and on to South Georgia and Grytviken, where Shackleton is buried. You can follow Elysium Epic’s progress from 10 February through to 2 March 2010 as the explorers update their blog several times daily at

Project director, Michael Aw of the Ocean Geographic Society ( says, “Elysium Epic is about extraordinary explorers using advanced imaging technologies to document the last wilderness on our planet. The aim of the project is to provide a visual library that documents the flora and fauna of Antarctica, and to produce a documentary feature and a limited edition book to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the heroic legendary expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Trans Antarctic challenge in 1914.”

The 21st century team is no ordinary group of explorers; they comprise some of the world’s best wildlife photographers, film-makers and marine scientists. The principal members include: BBC Wildlife photographer of the Year winners Michael Aw, Goran Ehlme, and Amos Nachoum; David Doubilet, photographer in residence of National Geographic; Titanic and deep-sea vent discoverer Emory Kristof - also a National Geographic photographer in residence; eight-time World Underwater Pictures festival Winner Leandro Blanco; and the master of black and white underwater imagery, Ernest Brooks II, acclaimed as the Ansell Adams of the Sea; UK award-winning wildlife photographer, Heather Angel; chief scientist Cabell Davis, PhD from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Steve Nichol, PhD of the Australian Antarctic Division and a specialist in the dynamics of Southern Ocean ecosystems; and fine-art artist Wyland, renowned as the Michelangelo of the Sea.

Jonathan Shackleton, cousin of his legendary Irish forebear is also part of the lead team and will be on site to tell the story of Ernest Shackleton – revealing how the explorer managed heroic feats in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world. Other team members comprise medical doctors, geophysicists, oceanographers, marine biologists, professional film-makers and technical diving practitioners. By any visual or scientific standard this is the ultimate dream team.

The production shoot will begin where Shackleton and his team fought to survive their unexpected situation. What will it be like 98 years later? Will there still be the expanse of ice shelf in this time of global ocean change? Or has man’s destructive hand already irreversibly changed the landscape forever?

The Antarctic Peninsula has increased in temperature by 3°C in the last 50 years; that is more than twice the world’s average and the greatest increase in temperature of any place on Earth. It makes the Peninsula an important and poignant indicator for climate change. But what implications does this rise in temperature have for the organisms that call the Antarctic home? Elysium scientists and photographers will document the present state of global warming as it affects this vulnerable and volatile region. Visual records will be taken every step of the way: photographic testimony, video documentation, samples and population estimates. In addition, a collection of photos and videos of penguins, seals and seabirds will be collated into a publicly accessible index as a reference in time for future generations.

Elysium Epic aims to be the world’s only expedition of its kind, and will be entirely carbon neutral. The project team is working with experts in climate change science to calculate the carbon footprint of the expedition and to offset by means of purchase of carbon credits or by investing in offset schemes that yield measurable results.

Follow Elysium Epic’s progress from 10 February through to 2 March 2010 as the explorers update their blog several times daily at The team welcomes questions about the adventure, climate change and ecological science of the Antarctic region. They will respond live whenever they can.

About Waterproof Expeditions

The Elysium Epic expedition has been facilitated by Waterproof Expeditions. Waterproof Expeditions specializes in unique photography, diving, snorkelling and cruise experiences to some of the world’s most remote and exotic destinations. From ice-diving in Antarctica’s polar waters and underwater filming in the Canadian Arctic to cage diving with great whites in Guadalupe, swimming with sea lions and penguins in the Galapagos and snorkelling with sailfish in Mexico – Waterproof’s fascinating destinations and marine life make their trips popular for divers and non-divers alike. All Waterproof Expeditions’ departures have an expert guide ranging from renowned underwater photographers and wildlife cameramen to conservationists, explorers and naturalists. For more information please visit

The Jayavarman - launching a new era in luxury Mekong cruising

Heralding a new era in boutique cruising on the Mekong River, The Jayavarman, the most luxurious vessel in Indochina, is now operating a full schedule of cruise itineraries between Vietnam and Cambodia following its launch last December.

Operating between its home port of My Tho, a short drive from Ho Chi Minh City, and Cambodia's Siem Reap, the jump off point for the famous Angkor Temples, those wishing to immerse themselves in the region's unique culture in the lap of luxury can now choose from a medley of distinct itineraries.

These include an eight-day program linking My Tho with Siem Reap, and vice versa.

For those who prefer a shorter voyage, options include a four-day/three-night program showcasing the Vietnamese section of the river and a five-day/four-night cruise sailing between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Daily shore excursions offer passengers the opportunity to engage with local communities. These include early morning visits to fishing villages and an outing to a rural school in Kampong Cham.

On board experiences range from lectures on local agriculture and culture through to a hands-on cooking demonstration of Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine.

Optional activities while in Phnom Penh include a detailed account of the Khmer Rouge period given by a local professor and a traditional 'Apsara dance' performance with cocktails.

The cruises also provide The Jayavarman's passengers with a chance to help Cambodian children by donating to the Cambodia Literacy Project which is sponsored by The Jayavarman's company Heritage Line.

The Jayavarman's Chief Operating Officer Matt Masson, said forward bookings for 2010 were looking very positive with many high season departures (October - December) filling up quickly however there was still some availability throughout the low season.

Papua New Guinea adopts new cruise development strategy

Coral Princess Cruises's Oceanic Discoverer on the Sepik River. Photo: Roderick Eime
Peter Vincent, Chief Executive of Papua New Guinea’s Tourism Promotion Authority, announced today the adoption of a comprehensive cruise development strategy for the nation. The strategy will be released in full on March 30. Key elements will be available to cruise lines and others for whom PNG is destined to become a focus of interest over the next five years.

Read full story

Friday, February 12, 2010

Currumbin Welcomes Marsupial Rock Stars

They’re Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s resident rock stars – they’re rare, shy, but cute animals with their own exclusive home that they share with some long-legged birds.

Currumbin’s Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies are part of a NSW Government recovery program to stop the rapid decline of this species which was once found along the Great Dividing Range between Nanango in Queensland to the Grampians in Victoria.

They’re four Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies – a male, two females and one joey – which can now be seen in daily, guided tours to encounter this rare and critically endangered species.

The true rock stars of the marsupial world, the rock wallabies can bound more than two metres, and display incredible agility and speed in negotiating the steep, craggy rock faces where they live.

At Currumbin, the specially created Rock-wallaby enclosure is also home to Brolgas and a Whip-tailed Wallaby. It also replicates their natural environment with rocky outcrops and ledges created from the shells of recycled cars.

However, the rock-wallabies are now extremely rare and elusive in the wild – so elusive, they have been nicknamed the Shadow by researchers trying to track them.

Currumbin is one of only four Australian institutions housing the Central ESU population of Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby as part of the recovery program now giving hope for the survival of the species.

Under the program, successful breeding with the rock-wallabies can result in animals being introduced into the wild to help restock dwindling populations.

But because of this, the rock-wallabies at Currumbin will have minimal direct human contact, allowing them to retain their natural characteristics and behaviour.

The Paradise Koh Yao Resort & Spa in Thailand.

Aviation & Tourism International has been appointed to represent The Paradise Koh Yao Resort & Spa in Thailand.

Located on Yao Noi Island, North East of the Island of Phuket, and set in the middle of Thailand's Phang Nga Bay National Reserve area, Koh Yao is reached by taking a flight to Phuket and boat transfer to  Paradise Koh Yao Resort & Spa.

The Paradise Koh Yao is a blend of boutique beach resort and health spa; a tasteful and simple symbiosis of nature, comfort and style, amongst protected national parkland. Private villas and studios nestle adjacent to 400 meters of private untouched beach providing year-round natural luxury.

where in the world?

The Paradise Koh Yao, Boutique Beach Resort and Spa is set in the middle of Thailand's Phang Nga Bay National Reserve area, an emerging hidden treasure which remains one of the world's best kept secrets. Since its discovery by a western traveler back in the 19th century, this geological wonderland teeming with indigenous plant and animal life has captured the imagination of the world.

Phang Nga Bay's towering limestone crags never fail to stimulate speculation of massive geological upheavals in ancient times. It is visually stunning to say the least and yet there is so much more below the surface: under the azure crystal waters are coral reefs, living fortresses evolved over countless years.

Koh Yao Island is set into the heart of these incredible natural phenomena.

For information:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's the Quality of the Experience that counts

Dear Expedition Cruisers,

Smart travellers know that the more planning they do before they arrive, the more time they have to enjoy their trip when they get there. If your holiday time is precious - and whose is not - then make sure you put yourselves in the path of the best quality experiences.

Mary Rossi Travel is well known for the creative itineraries we have been designing for travellers since the early 70's. In the spirit of giving in this our fortieth anniversary year, we want to share with you some insider knowledge and ideas in the snippets and links below. Italy, Spain, Australia and the Galapagos Islands - places we know well and where we have friends.

Let us help you to get the best out of your next trip.

Claudia Rossi Hudson

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

St David's Day Gettaway!

Spring is on it’s way here in Pembrokeshire, the nights are already starting to draw out making it the perfect time to come away with Coastal Cottages of Pembrokeshire and take advantage of Pembrokeshire and all it has to offer over this St David’s day.

The First Signs of spring are showing in the Botanic Garden of Wales and the first of the snowdrops are showing their colours, this is the perfect time to bring your pet along with you to experience many of the rural area’s Pembrokeshire has to offer.

Forest View Cottages are set on the outskirts of the breathtaking Brechfa forest in the rolling country side of Carmarthenshire. This group of 3 cottages are surrounded by 35 acres of ground, which you are free to explore. A perfect spot for a picnic is along side the horseshoe shaped lake which is a haven for the wildlife and swans that vacate it. Each cottage is individually designed retaining many of the original features, but enjoying the styles of modern fitted kitchen’s and open plan living space. Outside there is your own paved patio and landscaped communal area where you are free to enjoy an evening barbecue.

Couples and families will relax from the moment they go down the drive to this lovely holiday cottage. A week’s stay for 4 People and a dog at Ty Coedwig starting on the 27th February will cost £377, why not take a visit to the Botanic Gardens of Wales on St David’s day and enjoy all the entertainment available on this Patriotic day!

01437 772760,

News From Breakfree

A summary of the latest news and hot deals from BreakFree Hotels, Resorts & Apartments.


PRICE BREAKS: For the ultimate family getaway that won’t hurt the hip pocket too hard – every BreakFree Hotel, Resort and Apartment is on sale between 14 and 27 February. There are more than 30 properties in some of the best parts of Australia and New Zealand. Gold Coast holidays start from just $94*per night in a one bedroom apartment at BreakFree Enderley Gardens in Surfers Paradise. City stays at BreakFree on George in Sydney start from $120* per night and BreakFree Heritage on Little Bourke from $119* per night. For more information, visit or call 132 007.

NEW GM FOR NOOSA: Experienced resort manager Jason Isbester has been appointed General Manager of BreakFree Noosa International Resort. Well respected within the Mantra Group, Jason was previously GM of BreakFree Marcoola Beach Resort where he was an excellent operator across all aspects of the business. Relief managers John and Marie Lalli have been appointed at BreakFree Marcoola Beach Resort.


SPORTY SPECIALS: The Sunshine Coast has gone sports crazy in February but fortunately the race for great value accommodation is no sweat with leading resort operator BreakFree. The next big event out of the blocks is round one of the Surf Kayaking World Cup to be held in the best waves from Point Cartwright to Kings Beach on February 20-21. Whether competing or just along for the ride to soak up the action and enjoy the sun, surf and sand – BreakFree is the perfect accommodation partner, with rates from a low $146* per room per night for a one bedroom garden apartment at BreakFree Grand Pacific, Caloundra. Phone 132 007 or visit

HOT DEAL IN HASTINGS STREET: Located on Hastings Street, BreakFree French Quarter offers self-contained apartments set amongst landscaped gardens close to Noosa’s famed
restaurants and shopping boutiques. Now is the ideal time to experience this fabulous property with special midweek rates available from just $169* per room per night for a one bedroom apartment , valid for sale until February 28 and for travel to 31 March 2010, based on minimum stays of two nights, Sunday to Thursday. To book call 132 007 or visit

PERFECT BUSINESS PARTNER FOR A MEMORABLE EVENT: Offering first class conferencing facilities, a stunning location to work and play and reduced rates for the first half of 2010, it’s smart business booking at BreakFree Grand Pacific for your next conference or meeting. Full day delegate packages including arrival morning and afternoon tea and coffee, lunch, conference room hire and use of equipment and supplies have been reduced to $40 per person. Accommodation for conference guests is available from $149* per night for a one bedroom apartment including breakfast pack. Enjoying a stunning waterfront location close to Caloundra restaurants and attractions, BreakFree Grand Pacific offers two conference rooms accommodating 60 and 70 delegates individually or 130 theatre style when linked together. Call (07) 5452 2871 or email

SURFERS MONEY SAVER: For a fun filled family escape at the right price, BreakFree Peninsular stands out in Surfers Paradise, where guests can enjoy four nights for the price of three paying from just $219* per room per night for a two bedroom apartment. With views overlooking the Gold Coast hinterland and the Pacific Ocean and only a short stroll to the entertainment heart of Surfers Paradise, this beachside resort offers a fantastic range of facilities and self contained apartments. For bookings or further information on this special offer valid for sale and travel to March 31, 2010 phone 132 007 or visit

DIAMOND DEAL: Broadbeach resort BreakFree Diamond Beach is offering a gem of a deal for families, where guests who book four nights in two bedroom apartment from $230* per room per night, will only pay for three nights valid for sale and travel to March 31, 2010. The low-rise resort features self contained apartments and extensive family friendly facilities. Located in one of the Gold Coast’s premier shopping, dining & entertainment hubs it is the perfect holiday escape for the entire family. Phone 132 007 or visit

PERFECT MATCH: Combining a dream beachside location with exceptional facilities, mouthwatering catering and an experienced wedding team to ensure your big day goes off without a hitch, BreakFree Mobys is the perfect match for weddings to remember. Nestled behind the first line of natural sand dunes at Boomerang Beach, a pleasant 20 minute drive from the township of Forster, BreakFree Mobys is a budget-friendly choice for intimate gatherings through to large scale events. Couples booking a wedding function at BreakFree Mobys before December 31, 2010 will receive a free night to use on their honeymoon at any one of BreakFree’s 40-plus properties Australia wide. Call (02) 6554 0766 or visit www/breakfree/

BOOMING AUTUMN SPECIAL: For an exciting city escape at Sydney’s booming south-west, BreakFree Bankstown International has launched a great value autumn special for weekend travel until the end of April. Holidaymakers can now enjoy the comforts of BreakFree Bankstown from an incredible $134* per room per night in an Executive Room. Located just 10 minutes from Sydney Olympic Park, the hotel offers a choice of hotel rooms or two bedroom apartment-style accommodation and features 24 hour reception, heated indoor pool, spa and gym, restaurant, bar, cocktail lounge and internet kiosk. Phone 132 007 or visit

* Conditions and minimum stays apply. Subject to availability.

Australians Across the Great War – Anzac Day 2010 Tour

With interest in Australia’s wartime history at the forefront following the discovery of the Centaur hospital ship and the reburial of the Australian dead in a new Commonwealth war cemetery at Fromelles in northern France, specialist French travel agency France @ Leisure and Tour Escort Kieran McCarthy are pleased to offer a boutique tour to France to retrace the steps our Australian soldiers took in The Great War.

Following the highly acclaimed maiden tour in 2009, Brisbane family lawyer and military history aficionado, Kieran McCarthy and France @ Leisure’s Christian Blondeau once again take to the battlefields of France to retrace and commemorate Australia’s invaluable contributions in WW1.

“In no other theatre or conflict have Australians played such a decisive role, yet paid such a harrowing price, as on the Great War battlefields of The Somme and Flanders,” Tour Escort, Kieran McCarthy said.

“Culminating in the 2010 Anzac Dawn Service at Villers-Bretonneux, this tour will retrace the steps of nearly 300,000 Australians – the ordinary and extraordinary, who answered a young country’s call to the colours.”

“We will visit places redolent of a ‘distant grief’ – Fromelles, Pozieres, Polygon Wood, Bullecourt – and those synonymous with the long march to victory – V.B., Le Hamel and Mont St Quentin.”

A boutique tour such as this provides the opportunity for travelers to tailor their trip to include personal experiences such as visits to the graves of family members.

“On last year’s tour, we watched as the granddaughters of one digger walked the road between two villages where the man met his end from strafing German planes, and later visited his grave at Villers-Bretonneux,” McCarthy said.

“We also visited the grave of a young doctor who had done his training at the Royal Children’s Hospital Brisbane prior to the onset of the war. His great nephew, a Brisbane solicitor, was the first member of the doctor’s family to visit his grave – 93 years after his death when a shell hit his Regimental Aid Post.”

It is these special moments that McCarthy believes sets the France @ Leisure Anzac Day 2010 tour apart from the more mainstream travel package offerings.

“Last year at Queant Road Cemetery, near Bullecourt, we read tributes prepared by the school children of St Joseph’s Bardon, in memory of the dead of the 14th Battalion – “Jacka’s Mob”. For many this was the most moving experience of all,” McCarthy said.

There is an additional option available this year for an extension tour to the Normandy beaches of WWII.

It was McCarthy’s voracious passion for military history that formed the partnership with long time acquaintance, Christian Blondeau of France @ Leisure.

“Kieran has travelled with us through France @ Leisure and in the course our continued association I began to realise what an incredible guide he would make,” Blondeau said.

“I could see that his specialised knowledge and enthusiasm, which had taken him to the Somme, Flanders and beyond well before our first tour, coincided well with my commitment to providing highly personalised and boutique service.”

Blondeau established France @ Leisure, Queensland’s first and only accredited travel agency specialising in French travel for Queensland. As a native of France, Christian has been committed to giving Queensland travellers experiences of France unique to his local contacts around the country and his emphasis on personalised, blue-chip service.


Tour commences in Paris on 22nd April and concludes back in Paris on 29th April. The tour cost is $3,800 per person twin share. Inclusions are accommodation, transport, breakfast, some lunches and dinners.

Air fares are additional and can be booked through France @ Leisure at group rates (if applicable).

For more information, visit or phone 07 3220 2200.

Cupid Suggests Gifts From Crown This Valentine's Day

Cupid has pointed his arrow at Crown this Valentine’s Day and recommends a heavenly host of gift ideas to sweep lovers off their feet. All gifts are available for purchase at Cupid’s top gift suggestions from include:

Dine at Rockpool Bar & Grill or Nobu, Stay at Crown Towers and then Recreate Favourite Dishes at Home with a Nobu or Neil Perry Cookbook:

Package includes:
• One night accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Crown Towers
• $100.00 dining voucher for Rockpool Bar & Grill or Nobu
• Autographed copy of Neil Perry’s ‘Balance and Harmony’ or autographed copy of Nobu’s “Nobu the Cookbook”
• $585.00 per couple

Both packages and offers are valid until 31 March 2010 and are subject to availability.

Sleep Lovers Package has joined with Peter Alexander to create a special gift. This limited offer combines luxury accommodation with cute, sexy nightwear.

• Overnight accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Crown Towers
• Buffet breakfast for two at the Conservatory
• $100.00 Peter Alexander gift certificate
• Autographed copy of Peter Alexander’s book ’20 Years of Sleeping Around’
• $590.00 per couple
• Overnight accommodation in a Standard Room at Crown Promenade Hotel
• Buffet breakfast for two at Mesh restaurant
• $100.00 Peter Alexander gift certificate
• Autographed copy of Peter Alexander’s book ’20 Years of Sleeping Around
• $470.00 per couple

Crown’s premium restaurants are hosting Valentine’s Day celebrations at both lunch and dinner. Gift vouchers for romantic meals are also available at Couples can dine at Breezes, the brasserie by Philippe Mouchel, Silks, Koko, Nobu and Number 8 restaurant and wine bar and receive a complimentary glass on Champagne and a romantic gift to share. Bookings may be made by contacting 03 9292 5777.

Cupid Also Suggests A Gift from Crown Spa:

Spa Lovers Package:
90 Minute Enrich Body Treatment for Two

The sensual fragrances of exotic flowers lend their calming properties to this exquisite Aromatherapy Associates treatment. The treatment begins with an intensive salt and coffee body exfoliation that leaves skin feeling refreshed. Hands and feet are then given extra special attention through the application of rich Vitamin E oil and a white clay mud mask. A hydrating marine algae blended with nourishing plant oils is then massaged into the skin before the skin is protected and nourished with moisturising body butter. A soothing scalp massage to relieve every last bit of tension and stress ends this rejuvenating treatment.

Upon completion of the treatment couples are presented with a delicious fruit platter and a 200ml Enrich Body Scrub, 15ml Enrich Body Serum and 15ml Enrich Body Butter to take home.

Price: $590.00 per couple in a Pampering Suite and $680.00 per couple in a Deluxe Suite.

For more information on Crown Spa please visit or to make a booking call 03 9292 6182.

Crown wishes every romantic a happy Valentine’s Day.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ Roars into the Year of the Tiger With the Opening its New Regional Office in Singapore

Small Luxury Hotels of the World announces the official opening of its Asia Pacific Regional Office in Singapore. The addition of the new office will strengthen the luxury hotel brand's network in the Asia Pacific region, complementing the existing offices in Sydney, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

Paul Kerr, CEO of Small Luxury Hotels of the World said: "The opening of the Singapore office is a key strategic move for us as a brand. We are investing in this region to fuel growth – both in terms of growing reservations through the SLH channels, particularly, and building our portfolio which currently stands at 100 properties in this region.

Since establishing the brand in 1991 with 70 hotels in 12 countries we have built a very strong base of loyal guests in Europe and the US where brand awareness is high. We want to mirror this success in the Asia Pacific region which holds huge potential for us as a global brand. With over 500 independently-owned hotels in 75 countries worldwide, we are in an excellent position to cater for the demand from discerning travellers in this region."

Mr Kerr continued: "Adding new properties helps to reinforce the brand awareness of Small Luxury Hotels of the World in local markets and increases understanding of our proposition to both consumers and hoteliers.

Our hotels are amongst the best of the best in each area and have such an excellent reputation locally that this helps demonstrate the quality of all the hotels in our portfolio. However, as well as adding new hotels our main priority is to maintain the quality of hotels in our portfolio and the emphasis is on monitoring standards at existing hotels. We are keen to grow but we remain extremely selective - only five per cent of hotels applying to join are accepted."

Small Luxury Hotels of the World has already established its core team in Singapore with the key appointments of Mark Wong as Area Director and Brandon Chan as Director of Sales. Mark Wong will oversee all areas of operation in the region, reporting directly to Paul Kerr. Bryony Gammon, PR Manager for the Asia Pacific region, has relocated to Singapore from the Sydney office. Anita Chan, Director of Development, Asia Pacific, is based in Hong Kong.

With 508 hotels in the portfolio with an average of 49 rooms at each hotel, SLH has over 25,290 rooms in total worldwide. Despite the global recession over 65 hotels were accepted into the brand in 2009. The brand recently added two properties in Japan where it previously did not have a presence - Hoshinoya Karuizawa ( and Hoshinoya Kyoto ( The brand is also committed to strengthening its presence in markets where demand is high. For example, in Malaysia Small Luxury Hotels of the World has just welcomed three new properties in the Sari Pacifica Resort & Spa family - Redang Island, Lang Tengah Island and Sibu Island.

Other new hotels include Crystal Resort Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan and Serene Pavilions in Sri Lanka. The development team will be focusing on China, India and Japan over the next 12 months.

As well as building its portfolio of hotels, Small Luxury Hotels of the World is committed to ensuring that the brand is accessible to key markets within the region. Within the next two months the corporate pages of will appear in Simplified Chinese and Japanese. An iPhone application will be launched by April 2010. The long-term goal is to offer a completely multi-lingual end-to-end website and booking solution.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World provides toll-free numbers for key markets in the Asia Pacific region and guests are assisted by highly trained reservation agents who are fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese. The Club of Small Luxury Hotels of the World was recently relaunched with additional benefits for members including complimentary upgrades, late check-out, breakfast and access to a Club Concierge. Guests are invited to join The Club of Small Luxury Hotels of the World at

Overall, 65 per cent of bookings through the Small Luxury Hotels of the World reservation channels are made through the GDS which means that travel agents are critical to the brand's success. Small Luxury Hotels of the World recently launched a dedicated website for travel agents – The brand will be increasing its presence at key trade shows this year including ALTM in Shanghai, ITB Asia in Singapore and Blossom in Tokyo. Brandon Chan will be responsible for building relationships with key agents in the region.

To make a reservation at any one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World properties go to or call +65 6232 5060. For a list of toll-free numbers go to Hotels interested in joining the brand can apply online at

About Small Luxury Hotels of the World
The Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) brand is an unrivalled portfolio of some of the world's finest small independent hotels. Comprising over 500 hotels in more than 75 countries, the diversity of the individual hotels, and the experiences that they offer, is exceptional. From cutting-edge design hotels to palatial 17th century mansions, city centre sanctuaries to remote private islands, historic country houses to idyllic resorts, Small Luxury Hotels of the World offers only the very best. Reservations can be made at any Small Luxury Hotels of the World property by calling +65 6232 5060 or via Travel agents need only remember the GDS code LX for LuXury.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney Offers Valentine's Day Indulgences

Located in the historic Rocks District with views of Sydney Harbour, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney is the perfect choice to celebrate Valentine’s Day on 14 February 2010. Guests can enjoy a wide range of romantic options such as the international flavours at Café Mix, cocktails at Blu Bar on 36 or luxurious accommodation for a romantic experience.

Valentine Buffet Dinner at Café Mix
Guests can impress their Valentine with an extensive buffet dinner, including a selection of seafood, international cuisine, mouth-watering desserts, a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and the signature chocolate fountain. The Valentine Buffet Dinner is priced at A$75 per person. For enquiries and bookings, please call (02) 9250 6206 or e-mail

Sky High Romance at Blu Bar on 36
Blu Bar on 36 offers couples a selection of romantically inspired drinks served with the best views of Sydney Harbour, exclusively available from 5 to 9 p.m.

Memorable Moments at Blu Bar on 36
Memorable Moments includes a window table for one hour, chocolate dipped strawberries and two glasses of Moet et Chandon champagne or champagne cocktails for A$70 per couple.

Lasting Love at Blu Bar on 36
The Lasting Love promotion includes a window table for two hours, premium champagne cocktails for two, a half dozen oysters and sugar coated strawberries with chocolate, all for just A$360 per couple.

For further information and bookings, please call (02) 9250 6123 or e-mail

Luxury Accommodation
Guests can indulge their sweethearts with the romantic touches of the Celebrations package, which includes overnight accommodation, a food and beverage credit of A$150, a bottle of Moet et Chandon champagne, breakfast for two at Café Mix and much more from only A$498 per couple per night.

For further information and reservations, please contact Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney on (02) 9250 6000, e-mail or visit

Swissôtel Sydney is Tickled Pink this Mardi Gras

Come sleep with us at Swissôtel Sydney and be tickled pink by our fabulous Mardi Gras accommodation offer. Just a short stroll from Oxford Street you’ll find Swissôtel Sydney on Market Street, a five-star luxurious hotel with everything you need for a weekend of fun this Mardi Gras.

Share a bed in our spacious Classic room and receive 20% off our best available rate, from $263 per room, per night.

Why not relax into recovery with full use of our gym, outdoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi and if you feel like indulging in something a bit more therapeutic contact Amrita Spa to find out more about the spa recovery packages.

“Tickled Pink” at Swissôtel Sydney includes:

• 20% off our best available rate, from $263.00 per room, per night*

• Full use of gym, outdoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi

To book call (02) 9238 8855 or visit promotions online at

* Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Valid 21/02/10 - 6/03/10.

Autumn Leaves in Sydney

Take some well earned leave this autumn in Sydney with great value hotel deals from just $110 per night, including free breakfast for two plus free autumn gifts*.

Shangri-la Hotel Sydney, Four Seasons Sydney, Sofitel Wentworth Sydney and Sydney Harbour Marriott are just some of the hotels involved in the deal.

The Autumn Leaves packages include:

• Accommodation in a Deluxe Darling Harbour View Room at Shangri-La Sydney with full buffet breakfast valued at $76 PLUS a free gift from CHI, The Spa.
• Accommodation in a Classic King Room at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth with hot buffet breakfast valued at $76 PLUS complimentary access to Club Sofitel including afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks.
• Accommodation in a City View Room at the Sydney Harbour Marriott with full buffet breakfast valued at $70 PLUS a gift box of autumn cookies and the recipe to take home.
• Accommodation in a Jamison Club Park Suite at the Amora Jamison Sydney Hotel with continental breakfast for two valued at $50 PLUS a free 60-minute massage.

The Autumn Leaves packages are a great opportunity to experience first hand the spectacular line-up of autumn events including the Autumn Racing Carnival, The Archibald Prize, WICKED the Musical and the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Tourism NSW is also working with CountryLink and Accor Hotels to encourage families to come to Sydney for the Royal Easter Show. Packages are available from just $297pp for three nights including return rail from anywhere in NSW plus kids can travel and stay for just $2 each.

As an added bonus, the first 200 CountryLink package bookings to travel 1-14 April will receive a free Sydney Royal Easter Show Family Pass valued at more than $90.

For more information on the Autumn in Sydney deals go to

* Conditions apply. Valid for travel from 1 March to 30 April 2010, subject to availability. Room rates per room, per night, twin share. Lead-in price property is Chifley Eastern Creek at $110.



The world's newest cruise programme, a selection of extraordinary journeys to historic Mediterranean locations, was launched in Australia today with an amazing introductory offer – fly free to Europe from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to join your ship.

The new programme, Voyages to Antiquity, is centred on a series of 15-day and 29-day themed cruises aboard the newly-refurbished Aegean Odyssey, which, from May, will carry a maximum of only 380 guests per cruise to a range of historic destinations in countries including Egypt, Greece, Malta, Italy, Croatia, Turkey and Tunisia.

The special free flight offer applies to the two launch cruises in the programme – Athens to Rome, departing on 17 May, and Rome to Venice, leaving on 30 May.

With the free air fares included, the Athens-Rome journey is priced from just $5,295 per person, twin share from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, and includes a comprehensive range of shore excursions, wine with every dinner, gratuities and port charges, while the Rome-Venice cruise is priced from $5,575 per person, twin share, with the same inclusions. All bookings must be made by 08 March, 2010, and are subject to availability.

The Athens-Rome journey visits destinations including Piraeus, Sicily, Palermo, Amalfi, Sorrento and Capri, while the Rome-Venice cruise includes Sorrento and Amalfi, the Lifari Islands, Taormina and Dubrovnik.

"These cruises are for those with a serious interest in Mediterranean history," said Craig Bowen, Managing Director of specialist wholesaler Cruise Traveller. "They're not really cruises for those who just want to lie around the pool and sip cocktails – though we certainly do offer that option!   

"The strength of this programme is its itineraries, its themes and its inclusions," said Mr Bowen.

 "This is a five star product on a four star ship at three star prices. It opens up quality cruising for the mid price market. It is cruising tailored for the current economy. And with free flights for our launch programmes, this is arguably the best value cruise product in the Australian market today. "

For more information about Voyages to Antiquity visit or contact Craig Bowen, Cruise Traveller, on or                 0412 664 533.

To make a booking, please contact or call 07 5575 8094.


Relax and enjoy every moment with each other at Swissôtel Sydney. It’s those added little extras that will make your stay in the heart of the harbour city truly unforgettable.

Swissôtel Sydney is located in the vibrant heart of the Sydney’s shopping and entertainment precinct making it the perfect destination for a romantic weekend getaway. The “Sydney Romantic Getaway” offers couples everything they need for a magical experience together and Swissôtel Sydney will spoil you both every step of the way...

On arrival, enjoy strawberries dipped in Swiss chocolate accompanied by NV Brut Chandon sparkling wine, in the comfort of a luxurious Swissôtel Sydney guest bedroom with stunning city views. After you have settled in, experience fine dining in Jpb Restaurant with a Swiss Fondue Chinoise dinner that ends with an indulgent Swiss chocolate fondue for dessert. Wake the following morning to a full gourmet sparkling wine breakfast which will be delivered to your room. There is no hurry to leave, as Swissôtel Sydney is giving you a late check-out of 2pm so that you can enjoy the full use of our heated outdoor pool, gym, sauna and Jacuzzi.

To top off a perfect weekend, we’ll even park your car for free.

“Sydney Romantic Getaway”, from only AUD$469 per room* includes:

* Accommodation for two in a Swiss Advantage Room
* A complimentary bottle of NV Brut Chandon sparkling wine and chocolate dipped strawberries on arrival
* A Swiss Fondue Chinoise dinner for two in Jpb Restaurant including an indulgent Swiss chocolate fondue for dessert
* Full gourmet in-room NV Brut Chandon sparkling wine breakfast
* Late check-out of 2pm
* Valet car parking

To book call (02) 9238 8855 or visit promotions online at

*Terms and conditions. Subject to availability.

Swissôtel Sydney was voted Top 100 in Conde Nast Traveler’s The Best in the World Readers Choice Awards 2008 and in 2009, was awarded Top 3 Hotels in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands as well as Best Hotel in New South Wales and Best Hotel in Oceania at the 4th HotelClub Hotel Awards 2009.


Come sleep with us at Swissôtel Sydney and be tickled pink by our fabulous Mardi Gras accommodation offer.

Just a short stroll from Oxford Street you’ll find Swissôtel Sydney on Market Street, a five-star luxurious hotel with everything you need for a weekend of fun this Mardi Gras.

Share a bed in our spacious Classic room and receive 20% off our best available rate, from $263 per room, per night.

Why not relax into recovery with full use of our gym, outdoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi and if you feel like indulging in something a bit more therapeutic contact Amrita Spa to find out more about the spa recovery packages.

“Tickled Pink” at Swissôtel Sydney includes:

* 20% off our best available rate, from 263 per room, per night*

* Full use of gym, outdoor pool, sauna and Jacuzzi

To book call (02) 9238 8855 or visit promotions online at

* Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Valid 21/02/10 - 6/03/10.


Who needs a Valentine when you’ve got a best friend! Have the most fun ever with a friend in the city this February 14th!

Be different, be single and be FABULOUS! “Swissôtel and the City” allows you and your best friend to experience an evening of fun in the heart of the city.

Start with an afternoon of shopping and then enjoy the sublime surrounds of Crossroads Bar while you delight in ‘High Tea’ for two. Relax in our luxurious Classic Twin room with a spacious bathroom to prepare for an evening of fun (and perhaps a touch of mischief) in the city!

Whether it be an evening of dancing or spending the night in watching movies, enjoy a complimentary breakfast for two and late check out the next morning.

“Swissôtel and the City”, from AUD $359 per room* includes:

* Five-star twin accommodation in our Classic Room
* High tea for two in Crossroads bar
* Full buffet breakfast for two in Jpb Restaurant
* Late check out at 12 noon
* Self car parking

To book call (02) 9238 8855 or visit promotions online at

Become our friend on Facebook “Swissôtel Sydney” or follow us on Twitter “Swissôtel_Syd

* Terms and conditions apply. Subject to availability. Valid 12 – 14 February, 2010.

Swissôtel Sydney was voted Top 100 in Conde Nast Traveler’s The Best in the World Readers Choice Awards 2008 and in 2009, was awarded Top 3 Hotels in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands as well as Best Hotel in New South Wales and Best Hotel in Oceania at the 4th HotelClub Hotel Awards 2009.

3 Weeks Child-free Cruise Sydney, Asia, Singapore

A whole 3-weeks cruising from Sydney through Asia to Singapore aboard P&O’s classic Arcadia with all meals including up to 5-course dinners, a night at Singapore’s Novotel Clarke Quay post-cruise with transfers for a day’s shopping, and air back to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide is selling through in February next year from just $3649pp twin-share.

And adding to Arcadia’s many grand indulgences for her near-2000 guests as she cruises 21-nights to Brisbane, the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, Hong Kong, Halong Bay in Vietnam and Bangkok and Koh Samui in Thailand, is the fact this is a child-free ship offering adults the best in cruise experiences.

Arcadia has no fewer than fourteen bars and lounges, a fine dining restaurant through two decks and featuring 5-course dinner menus in the cruise price, two optional specialty restaurants at which a small additional charge applies (Arcadian Rhodes with the creations of famous British chef Gary Rhodes, and The Orchid specialising in Asian fusion) plus there’s a grill, Pan Pacific restaurant, tapas bar and pizzeria for more relaxed dining, and room service.

Nightly West End-style shows are staged in a 3-tier theatre, there’s a cinema, on-board guest speakers, two pools (one with a skydome), five whirlpool spas, a luxury spa, gym, casinos, and shopping facilities.

Arcadia sails from Sydney on February 13 2011; for full details phone 1300 369 848 or visit

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