Monday, 29 September 2008

Free air to join Antarctic cruise

Weekly travel briefs/tips w/c Mon Sept 29 2008


New era of cruise ships

Visit the glam ports of the Mediterranean and take in the wondrous sites Rome, Venice, Dubrovnik, Spain and Cannes, plus a few more in between. Cruise aboard the brand new Carnival Queen in any of the three departures from September 19 to November 6 2009. Priced from $1,249 per person twin share. That includes 12 nights aboard Carnival Dream or Carnival Liberty, meals, entertainment and activities whilst cruising. Taxes and fuel surcharges are additional. Airfares are not included. To book or for more details visit

Masters at the ready

More than 10,000 masters will gather on the Gold Coast for the over-30’s November 1 – 9 event. To access special accommodation deals take a look at when Mantra Broadbeach offers a special rate for bookings made before October 31, for travel right through December 24. Guests booking three nights in a one bedroom apartment pay from $210 per room per night and only pay for two nights. Telephone 13 15 17.

Man bowls a boon

The newly refurbished Novotel Barossa Valley Resort is just about the best place to spend a night or two. New bedding and beds are so stylish,.. even ‘man bowls’. So close to everything which is the Barossa. Rates from $169 per night for a studio room, are valid until January 31 2009. This is the most delightful way to be introduced to the glorious Barossa Valley. But, what are ‘man bowls’ ? Check that out when booking. Ring (08) 8524 0000, or visit

Canada is the new Europe

I was in Canada not so long ago and what a surprise, - Australians everywhere. They are attracted by the magnificence of the Rockies, the beauty of Butchart Gardens and the hospitality of Canadians. Add these highlights to the flavours if Christmas and it’s a real hoot. Depart Vancouver on December 18 and hit the Canadian slopes. Christmas Day in the Rocky Mountains, take a sleigh ride around beautiful Chateau Lake Louise.

This fully escorted tour is priced from $3,799 per person, twin share and that includes ten nights first class accommodation, all transport in a luxury coach, breakfasts daily, nine dinners, there lunches. Telephone 1300 799 783 or visit

Free air to join Antarctic cruise

The 100 passenger boutique ship Orion is home in the Antarctic during a 16 night expedition. Free return air and a night’s accommodation at Invercargill in New Zealand is offered o those who join this remarkable cruise. There are two cruises on offer from CruiseMart. A 20-night return package on January 12 2009 is priced from $22,905 per person twin share, or a 16-night December package from $18,325. All on board meals, entertainment and educational programs are included. Get all the details by calling 1300 305 920 or visit

Or cruise Tahiti

A boutique cruiser which carries just twelve couples in waters of the most romantic location in the world, offers you a six-night package including return air and taxes from Sydney. All transfers within Tahiti, two nights at the Radisson Plaza Tahiti in Papeete, four nights aboard Haumana, all meals and complimentary wines with lunches and dinners and also nightly entertainment. The Coral Sera’s package starts from $6119 per person twin share and is valid for travel until March 31 2009. Some seasonal block-outdates and surcharges may apply. Visit

A touch of Tassie

There’s a 14 nights Spring holiday on offer from TasVillas priced from $980 with a bonus offer included. Bonus specials feature a Bicheno penguin tour for two, a Cascade Brewery tour for two, a Port Arthur site entry for two (Bronze pass), a Tassie dining card, a Tamar River luncheon cruise for two and a National Parks pass. Mention the Hot Deals flyer to check whether you may be eligible for a Waverley Woollen Mills merino travel rug. The package is available through until December 23 2008. For enquiries make a free call to 1800 030 111. Visit

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages and prices are subject to change and availability.

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Monday, 22 September 2008

Afghan precinct a winner

Travel briefs for distribution w/c September 22

By John Crook

Christmas in Europe

Spend Christmas in an 800-year-old Austrian coaching inn, and a traditional Italian feast in a 2000–year-old Roman fortress. Eight wonderful days travelling from Frankfurt to Luzern is on offer, along with other options. Commencing December 21 this fully escorted tour comes with most meals, Christmas lunch and plenty of sightseeing. Priced from $2289 Check the inclusions by visiting

Fiesta time in SA

Don’t consider South Australia unless you also include a day or two on the Fleurieu Peninsula and for a special treat coincide that visit with the September 27 – October 26 food and wine festival. Grand Mercure Links Bay offers a fiesta package for just $143 per person, twin share. The package includes accommodation for one night in a king spa suite. Also included dinner for two plus a complimentary bottle of local wine, breakfast for two and late check-out. For bookings telephone (08) 8558 2220 or visit

See Cher live on stage

Elton John’s new show The Red Piano is playing at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas. Seats from $209.50 to best seats in the house priced at $411.50. Tickets for Cher start at $181.50. For reservations check or telephone 1300 730 023.

AirAsia X for low priced fares

Currently operating out of the Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur, as from November AirAsia X will introduce new direct services from Perth to KL (Nov 3) and Melbourne to KL (Nov 12). One way flights, from $199, valid for sale until September 28, 2008 and for travel between January 2009 and July 2009. Airfares include airport taxes, surcharges and fees. Bookings on-line at

Taste the spices

There’s a 14-day safari across Kenya and Tanzania which provides access to the sanctuary of wildlife through rich African culture. Keep an eye out for lions, monkeys, cheetahs. They’re all here. To experience this slice of Africa join one of several tours which operate until December 2008. Prices, for a 14-day safari start, from $1660 per person, twin share. There is also a local payment of USD $230. Airfares not included. The safari includes 10-nights camping accommodation, three night’s hostel accommodation, all meals whilst camping. Breakfast and dinner in Zanzibar. Check it out at

Afghan precinct a winner

First it was Little India,-with a group of some 50 ethnic Indian shops and restaurants. Now, the City of Greater Dandenong in Melbourne is about to launch an Afghanistan precinct. A group of retail outlets, from Afghan rugs to the cuisine of the Middle East, share the culture and cuisine of a special group of people. An offer to experience their world takes guests on an Afghan bazaar tour of fashion, food and music. The tours are free and at tour end Afghan meals are an option. To reserve a spot on the tour telephone (03) 9239 5134.

Maison Grange five star all the way

Travel to Marlborough and taste the wines. Enjoy the experience even moreso by overnighting at a luxury B&B, in its own vineyard setting. John and Robyn Hedges are passionate about food, wine and hospitality. Maison Grange is just ten minutes from Blenheim airport and 25 minutes from the inter-island ferry. Dragonfly and butterfly suites are available from $425 per night. Tariff includes a breakfast ‘worth waking up for’. There is also an exciting food and wine matched three-course dinner, priced at $124 per person (minimum four guests). To check on availabilities, contact

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages and prices are subject to change and availability. The information is provided as a guide only. Check with your travel agent.

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Monday, 15 September 2008

Welcome the Queens

Your FREE travel briefs column for distribution w/c September 15 2008

John Crook

Australia’s classiest hotel celebrates
Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor in the French inspired Spring Street is in celebration mode with a tariff which should excite the VIP in us. The rate celebrates the hotel’s 125th anniversary. CEO David Perry is releasing 125 rooms at just $125, continuing through the remaining months of this year. The rooms are released on the first day of each month for use on Friday and Sunday nights. It is on a first-come, first served basis. Bookings may be made through or telephone (03) 9633 6000.

Welcome the Queens
Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will visit ‘down under’ in 2010 with no less than seven maiden calls in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Both liners will visit Fremantle and Adelaide, whilst Queen Mary 2 will make an inaugural visit to the Whitsundays with Queen Victoria making a maiden call into Albany and then Exmouth. Both will make overnight visits to Sydney with Queen Victoria to make a second visit to Melbourne. Prices on voyages from Australia start from $4039 and that’s for a 17 nights sailing ex Sydney to Cape Town on Queen Mary 2. For the full picture check or ring 13 24 41.

Cruise the Kimberley
Book before December 31 2008 and make a saving of 20% on the seven-day cruise between Broome and Mitchell Plateau. Normally $8,345 per person twin share, the special price has been reduced from $6,676. Check with Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises for inclusions. Telephone (08) 9193 6131 or take a look at

Larry knows we Aussies
The president and ceo of SeaDream Yacht Cluib knows how to attract Australian clients. Larry Pimentel has an all-inclusive pricing policy and that means all drinks from the bar, wines with lunch and dinner, nightly cocktail parties, use of a 50-course golf simulator, all power and sail watersports and the clincher is on-board gratuities.
With only 110 guests, and a service crew of 95 this has to be super luxury afloat. By the way, another positive from Larry is that ties are out, no need for suits or ball gowns, just dress country club smart casual. During the northern European summer SeaDream I and II sail the Mediterranean and from November to April it’s the Caribbean. Log onto or see your travel agent.

The sounds, colour and flavour of the Australian bush form part of the experience of Bewong River Retreat which is a short drive from Jervis Bay, Kangaroo Valley and Nowra. From Sydney or Canberra just 2.5 hours drive. Bewong River Retreat is a 4.5 star property with nine self-contained bungalows, each featuring a spa with a full view of the bush, ensuite with double shower, gourmet kitchen, queen bed and large front balcony with BBQ. More details on or telephone 1800 005 125.

Shop ‘til you drop
There’s a three-day Taste of Dubai shopping package on offer from just $335 per person, twin share. The deal is from January 15 to February 15 and the event is the Dubai Shopping Festival. Can you believe this? The package includes accommodation, two breakfasts, half-day Merchants of the City tour, return transfers, meet and assist service at the airport and a handling fee. There is a choice of 29 hotels. Airfares not included,- well, what more would you want for this price ? Try this number 1300 558 987.

Cooking up something special
Here’s the chance to explore the home of Monet, do three cooking classes and explore some of the most beautiful villages and gardens of France. Pay from $7,500 per person twin share and you will have accommodation at Chateau Bosgouet, with six breakfasts, two lunches, six dinners, cooking classes run by Jane Webster, excursions and return transport to Paris. Packages are schedules on July 15 and October 14 in 2009. View www.botanicatravel or for more information telephone 1300 305 202.

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages and prices are subject to change and availability.

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Monday, 8 September 2008

W/c September 8 2008 Travel Briefs


John Crook

Luxury afloat

Mildura seems such a long way from anywhere, however, the journey is rewarded with this luxury gourmet getaway. Willandra Houseboats, based in Mildura, has an exciting offer, for $750 per person, with a minimum of two. The deal is three nights on board a deluxe houseboat, bottle of local wine on arrival, breakfast provisions, dinner at the Gol Gol hotel, lunch at Trentham Estate winery, a degustation dinner at Stefano’s restaurant, pre-dinner drinks, an on-board catered BBQ dinner. Contact Chris or Marina at

The Coast Starlight

Good news from Amtrak and its daily services between Los Angeles and Seattle. Newly refurbished parlour cars provide a classier way of travel between the two ports. The Coastal Starlight coach fares are as low as US$52 between LA and San Francisco and US$98 one-way between LA and Seattle. For those who prefer the sleeper services they have access to have all the trimmings including an on-board ‘theatre’. For all the details telephone 1300 300 713.

Noosa and Fraser Island

Combine the two wonders of Queensland on a deluxe one-day adventure. There are some awesome accommodation options, and to enhance the holiday include a 4WD experience on the world’s largest sand island. There’s even champers on the beach. There are available slots through to the end of October 2008. Price is from $189 per person. Check the accommodation and also more info on the day tour by clicking on to

Jobs scarce here? - try OWH

There’s a two-week program which allows vollies to get their hands dirty, helping to save the Amazon in Ecuador by working on a range of conservation activities. Priced from $930 per person multi-share the price includes volunteer placement, share accommodation, three meals a day, in-country fee, in-country support and access to a 24-hour emergency line.

Airlines to Ecuador, tourist visa and internal transport are not included in the price. Check details at 1300 651 639 or visit

Queen Mary a grand old girl

Check the inclusions associated with an 11-night 5-star cruise on the spectacular Queen Mary 2, sailing from Sydney to Hong Kong with prices from $3999 per person, twin share. That includes a night at the Peninsular Hotel, transfers, a return Hong Kong Peak tram sky pass and also air from Honkers back to Oz. Taxes and fuel surcharges are not included. Queen Mary 2,- what an experience ! Details from or call 1300 369 848.

Guests disappear in a romantic world

What a way to go! CC Africa is growing with more luxury properties, two of which are in the Okavango Delta. These are most definitely ecotourism experiences. Some of the best game viewing in Africa. Each lodge accommodating a maximum of 18 guests. Choose from lodge accommodation or stylish en-suite safari tents. For all the information visit

Pilots touring guide

Motorists demand all the info on accommodation, touring and facilities, so when airline pilots decide they too want access to the latest travel news, they purchase the Pilots Touring Guide. The guide is the bible for pilots on holidays, with 230 destinations ranging from country and coastal towns to farm-stay, unique bush pubs through to grand resorts. The publication features maps and details of what there is to do and see, through to where to purchase aviation fuel. The cost is $33 plus $6 postage and handling and is available from

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages and prices are subject to change and availability.

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Monday, 1 September 2008

Your FREE travel tips for w/c September 1 2008

Travel Briefs
John Crook

Floriade a must
Travel to Canberra during their Floriade for a real treat. It’s the 21st year since Floriade’s birth. Marque Hotel Canberra has a weekend deal on offer. Valid from September 13 to October 12 general manager Emilio Fortini recommends a two night stay. Tariff from $167 per night in a deluxe room and if you stay the two-nights, then daily complimentary buffet breakfast for two persons is available. Telephone (020 6429 1411 or email

007 glacier country
Check out the six-day golden pass from Rail Plus, providing you with the key to beautiful Switzerland, travelling to the top of Europe, via the cogwheel railway. From Interlaken, this independent tour visits Jungfraujoch at 3454 metres. Take in the foot of the notorious Elger North Wall, visit the glacial world of Europe. Second and first class tickets are available with packages including accommodation. For prices and all the details, ring 1300 555 003.

Mooloolaba is hot country
One of Queensland’s most popular seaside communities just has to be Mooloolaba. Check into the BreakFree Caribbean resort, staying in a one bedroom apartment for three nights and pay from only $169 per room night for two. Valid for sale until October 31 and for travel to December 24 2008. Don’t be confused with te conditions, simply phone 132 007 or visit

Please don’t disturb the lions
If budgets are of concern to you, worry not, because whilst on a camping holiday in South Africa and Namibia, you will be right amongst lion, elephant, rhino and leopard. Access this wonderful world at budget prices which start from $591 per person twin share. There’s also a local payment of US#320. Included is transportation in full equipped safari vehicle, camping and cooking equipment, most meals and services of a tour leader. Tours all year round, but airfares to Capetown not included. Get the facts by calling 1300 554 175

Wine country France
The beautiful Rhone Valley is more than wine and with the none-day self-drive wine route tour you are close to heaven. Burgundy, Beaujolais and the Cotes du Rhone wine regions await. The French Alps, the Mediterranean and Provence can be part of this experience. The price is from $1346 per person twin share and that includes accommodation and breakfasts. Car hire can be arranged through Tempo Holidays from $57 per day. Ring 1300 558 987.

Holiday and help cancer research
A fundraising effort could mean your chance to win a $9,000 holiday on fabled Lizard Island. At the same time funds raised by the Justin O’Connor Foundation will aid cancer research at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital Cancer Research Unit. Just 500 tickets will be sold, each at $100. Get the facts on the prize and conditions by clicking on to

South Pacific cruise
There’s a fly cruise package out of Los Angeles, through the South Pacific en route Auckland. The voyage is aboard the Crystal Serenity which sets sail January 21 2009 calling at Mexico, French Polynesia, Tahiti, the Cook Islands and Fiji. The package price excluding domestic airfares to and from Sydney is from $14,762 per person twin share. Return economy airfares from Sydney to Los Angeles and from Auckland to Sydney are included, along with all on board meals, entertainment on the cruise and one-night pre cruise in LA. Travel Associates is the place to check this one out. Ring 1800 044 066.

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages and prices are subject to change and availability.

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