Monday, 29 October 2007



Week beginning 29 October 2007

travellers good buys: with david ellis


VIRGIN Blue is introducing a new class of wider seat with more legroom
called Premium Economy to attract those who want better than Economy,
but don't want to pay full Business Class. The first three rows of its
Boeing aircraft, and some rows in its Embraers, will be fitted with
the red leather seats that will give two on each side of the aisle
instead of the present three in Economy. Those who book Premium
Economy will also receive free access to the Foxtel Inflight
Entertainment Channels, increased baggage allowance of 32kg,
complimentary entry to The Lounge facilities in Sydney, Melbourne,
Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra, and flexible and refundable fares.
Installation of the new seats will begin this year, with the entire
fleet fitted out in time for an official launch in 2008.

FAMILY-holiday company Travel With Kidz says Africa's not just for
adventurous adults, and has a package for a family of four at the
Honeyguide tented safari camp on the edge of South Africa's Kruger
National park from $13,280. It includes return air from Sydney, four
nights in permanent tents at the child-friendly Khoka Moya Camp with
ensuite and private verandah, all meals and drinks, game-viewing
drives and bushwalks, a night in Johannesburg and domestic air within
Africa; details 1300 729 541 or

BEAT the Christmas rush with pre-Christmas specials at Accor resorts
in Coffs Harbour from $179 per night, Surfers Paradise from $327 a
night, the Sunshine Coast from $240 per night and Cairns from $155 a
night. Phone 1300 65 65 65 or visit for
bookings and available dates.

HUNDREDS of dollars can be saved on self-drive holidays in Europe if
booked through globalCARS by December 31 for leasings throughout 2008.
They have 40 different model compacts to people-mover Citroens costing
from $28 a day with extra 7- to 9-days free on certain models, 50 per
cent off collection and return fees in Europe and a $150 credit off
the invoice. All come with new car warranty, full insurance and third
party with no excess, free first service and free pick up and return
in France. Details 1300 789 992 or

BREAKFREE has one-bedroom apartments from $118 a night until December
22 at its Great Sandy Straits Marina Resort at Hervey Bay – which is
says is a refreshing alternative to some of the more tourist-trodden
holiday spots on the Queensland Coast. The resort has uninterrupted
views of the bay, exclusive direct beach access, a marina, 25m lap
pool as well as a tropical style pool, tennis, cycle hire, sauna, and
kids' playground. Phone (07) 4128 9999.

TRUE: A British travel writer has complained in her newspaper that on
a recent visit to St Petersburg in Russia, with eleven cruise ships in
port on the one day, the 15,000 passengers they disgorged required
over 600 motor coaches to get them around town – and with
near-three-hour queues she gave up on trying to see most major

Monday, 22 October 2007



Week beginning 22 October 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


SAVE $250 a couple on Gray Line of Alaska coach and rail tours of six
days or longer in 2008 by booking and depositing through Adventure
World before December 31. Options include the McKinley Explorer Tour
from Anchorage to Denali National Park and Fairbanks that's now priced
from $1475pp twin-share, or a 10-nights Yukon Highlights that from
$3633pp twin-share travels through historic Alaska gold rush areas and
includes a cruise on the Yukon River from Eagle to Dawson City.
Details 1300 363 055 or

A RECORD 11,000 cyclists are expected to start in the 26th Sydney to
the Gong Ride on November 4 to raise money for MS – how many finish
the 90km event is another matter. The ride will start at St Peters in
Sydney's south-east and wind around Botany Bay, through the Royal
National Park and across the spectacular new Sea Cliff Bridge to
finish in the heart of Wollongong. Organisers hope it will raise
$1million for treatment, specialist services and advice for those
living with MS; to join the ride phone (02) 9413 4166 or visit

FORMER airline airport manager in Brisbane, Wendy Johnson has turned a
love of overseas shopping into book form to help fellow shop-a-holics:
her first pocket-size tome, Hot Spots to Shop in Bangkok advises where
to find specific products or services, details western clothing sizes
and equivalents in Thailand, lists shopping centres, hidden must-visit
stores, trading hours, phone contacts, and transport information. It
costs $19.95 online through ; Wendy plans to
follow it up with Hot Spots to Shop in other Asia-Pacific cities.

A HIDDEN river retreat on the NSW coast 2.5-hours from Sydney or
Canberra offers nine self-contained luxury bungalows with spas that
have bush views, ensuites with double showers, gourmet kitchens,
air-conditioning, queen beds and balconies with BBQ. The 4.5 star
Bewong River Retreat is a short drive from Jervis Bay where guests can
go dolphin or whale watching, and at the resort swim, fish, bushwalk –
and use each bungalows' canoe. Price starts from $180 per night
including late check-out; book through

TWENTY-FOUR nights cruising from Beijing to Sydney on the 5-star Sun
Princess in September next year will include calls at Shanghai, Hong
Kong, Nah Trang, Vung Tau, Sihanoukville, Singapore and Darwin, all
meals, entertainment, return air and taxes and port charges. Prices
start from $6279pp twin-share ex-Sydney, $6316 Melbourne and from
$6341pp twin-share ex-Brisbane; phone 1800 044 066 or visit

TRUE: ECCENTRIC American billionaire businessman, aviator and film
producer, Howard Hughes once filled the cargo compartment of his
personal jetliner with thousands of tennis balls – so it would float
if it crash-landed on water.

Monday, 15 October 2007



Week beginning 15 October 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


THE imminent arrival in Australia of the first superliner ever to be
permanently based here, P&O's 70,000 tonne Pacific Dawn saw the
company take a record near-3000 phone enquiries at its Australian call
centre in just one day last week. It was 30 per cent more than
average, and the company says was a combination of increased marketing
of Pacific Dawn that will make her inaugural voyage from Sydney on
November 9, and an 18 per cent growth in the past year in Australians
opting for cruise holidays.

CUNARD meanwhile have ordered a new 92,000 tonne liner to be named
Queen Elizabeth to keep up with world demand for cruise holidaying.
She'll replace the QE2 that will become a floating hotel in Dubai at
the end of next year, and will be launched in 2010 with a capacity for
2092 passengers.

QANTAS Holidays has a night's accommodation at the Hotel Ibis World
Square in Sydney and an 'A' Reserve ticket to Billy Elliott the
Musical from $213pp. The musical is scheduled to run at the Capitol
Theatre from November 13 to February 24; book through travel agents.

TRAFALGAR has 8-day Northern California coach tours between May and
October 2008 that include San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa Valleys, Lake
Tahoe, Yosemite National park, Carmel and Monterey from $1985pp
twin-share. It includes breakfasts daily, some other meals,
first-class hotels, air-conditioned coach travel, professional tour
guide and airport transfers; air travel is additional.

Highlights include wine and dinner aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train,
Gold Rush Old Sacramento, the historic Old Mission San Juan Bautista
and giant redwood forests; see travel agents or visit

AUSTRALIA's biggest outdoor festival, the Big Day Out returns to the
Gold Coast on January 20, Sydney on January 25 and Melbourne on
January 28 and Student Flights still has accommodation and ticket
packages to suit all budgets and group sizes; Gold Coast packages also
include transfers to the festival. Details on 1800 069 063 or visit

DOCTORS at Mackay in Queensland are reported to have drip-fed an
Italian tourist with a full case of vodka over three days after he
swallowed anti-freeze. The vodka acted as an antidote to the ethylene
glycol poison in the anti-freeze, and doctors say because he was
unconscious when he arrived at hospital and was kept in a
medically-induced coma, the man reported no hang-over and made a full

Monday, 8 October 2007



Week beginning 8 October 2007

travel tips: with david ellis


STAY at Fiji's Hideaway Resort any time between now and March 31 next
year and you could find yourself $1m richer: the resort is giving
guests a ticket in a $1m draw when they stay four nights, and ten
bonus tickets for each additional night. As well, for every $50 they
spend in the resort's restaurant, bar or shop they'll get more bonus
tickets. Hideaway is on the Coral Coast of the main island of Fiji
Levu, about 80 minutes by road from Nadi, and as well as the chance to
win $1m by staying there, parents can take children aged 5-12 for a
free stay, play and eat holiday; the $1m draw will be made on April
19th 2008. Details from travel agents or

EARLY Bird savings on a 7-night cruise of the Straits of Malacca
aboard SuperStar Gemini bring the price down to a low $1226pp
twin-share including all onboard meals, entertainment and port
charges. Gemini will sail 25 cruises in 2008 from Singapore to Kuala
Lumpur, Penang, Krabi, Phuket, Langkawi and back to Singapore, with
Early Bird bookings on sale until February 28; details from 1300 131
633 or

VALUE-priced hotel stays during Dubai's famed month-long Shopping
Festival are on sale through Flight Centre Hotels. The Festival runs
from January 24 2008 and features discounts on a vast range of items
from jewellery to fashion, electrical goods and carpets, and is
supported by a big program of cultural events. Hotel rooms start from
$131.50 per night in the 2-star San Marco Hotel including hot
breakfast, and range up to $265 per room per night at the 5-star Royal
Ascot, again including breakfast. Book on 1800 005 125 or

A LUXURY stay at Peppers Balé Resort in Port Douglas features
contemporary South East Asia-style pavilion accommodation, breakfasts
daily, a private plunge pool with poolside day bed, full kitchen,
lounge, and dining facilities. There's also LCD TV, a DVD player and
sound system; two nights starts from $825pp twin-share plus return
airfares from $383pp ex-Brisbane, $444 from Sydney and from $695pp
from Melbourne. Packages are available to March 31 2008; phone 1800
044 066 or visit

TEN days in Turkey in November this year or again in March 2008 costs
under $100 a day and includes Istanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus,
Pergamum, Pamukkale and Cappadocia. Highlights include lunch at the
WWI battlefields of Gallipoli, a leather-goods factory at coastal
Kusadasi, and the troglodyte villages, subterranean churches and
fortresses of Cappadocia. From $999 includes 9-nights, arrival
transfers, breakfasts daily, some other meals and English-speaking
guides; air is extra. Phone 1800 069 063 or visit

TRUE: A cruise-goer in America asked if her queen-size bed could be
put on her stateroom balcony at night, so she could go to sleep to the
sound of the waves…