Monday, 24 November 2008

Kids Ski Free


By John Crook

Red hot deal for Norfolk

Norfolk Island is so affordable, a claim which is supported by the following package. Eight days for a family of four for less than $3000. Return airfares and taxes for two adults and two children, transfers to Hibiscus Aloha self-contained apartments, car hire (extra) a half day discovery tour, free afternoon tea in The Wild Rainforest Walk and a $100 family voucher at the Bounty Centre toy shop. The family of four package costs $2799 ex Brisbane, Sydney and Newcastle, $2998 from Melbourne. The deal is valid between now and January 31 2009. To book freecall 1800 140 066 or email

Ethiopia – a thought?

It's culturally rich, challenging and confronting, but a real inspiration. Check out the Ethiopian Discovery tour which starts and finishes in Addis Ababa. Touring is by 4WD Landcruiser, and the itinerary includes visits to colourful markets. There's a chance to watch primitive cattle herders in action and you will also do a dug-out canoe trip on the Omo River. The tour is priced from $1509, plus there is a local payment of US$250. This ain't Paris or London, - this is how the other half lives. Departure dates throughout 2009. Book through STA Travel. Telephone 134 782 and try something really different.

The Crystal Symphony awaits

A 32-day trip from Los Angeles to Beijing is the big cruise for 2009. It all happens aboard six-star ship, setting sail from LA March 9 2009 en route to Honolulu, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Japan and then Beijing. The tour is priced from $17,055 per person twin share. That includes all taxes, charges and pre-paid gratuities. International air fares not included. There's also a post cruise-land package in a plush Beijing Hotel. The package is from Cruiseabout. Check with your travel agent.

Zuji beans

Zuji is a major on-line booking site for air travel, accommodation and touring. A recent promotion concluded after 6 months. It was focused on helping holidays happen, using the sale of baked beans to help intending travellers save money to purchase discounted holidays. They say, - eat baked beans and help reduce the grocery bill. That is the main thrust of their campaign, resulting in a number of prizes being awarded. Lifeline also was a beneficiary, with the winner of a year's supply oif Zuji beans donating 365 cans. Anthony Richards kindly donated his prize to Lifeline. The beans have gone, but the holiday discounts are still available. Everybody's a winner with

Six nights in Austria

Depart with Emirates, destination Austria. Contact your local travel agent to see whether you are eligible for the Austrian package,- six nights from $2812 per person twin share. That price, based on Emirates low season, includes return airfares to Vienna, two nights in Salzburg, two nights in Vienna and two nights in Innsbruck. Plus a three day rail pass. Also, for all the details and conditions take a look at

Kids ski free

The popular Canadian winter playgrounds offer the 'kids ski free' program, meaning that children 12 years old and under, ski free. Valid between January 4 and 29. At Ski Whistler, pay from $4,199 for seven-nights for a two-bedroom apartment at Town Plaza. That covers two adults and two children, with a six-day lift pass for two adults. For details check

* 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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Visual : There is a better way to view the winter playgrounds of Canada !

Monday, 17 November 2008

Fancy dinner at the Gol Gol ?


By John Crook

Fancy dinner at the Gol Gol ?

A family package, for two adults and two children under 12 years of age, offers four nights on board a deluxe 6-10 berth houseboat, from $1500. Included in this Mildura based deal is a dinner at the Gol Gol hotel, gourmet BBQ and full breakfast provisions, a bottle of local wine, fishing gear and tinnie with oars and sporting equipment. Packages of up to the super luxury style are also available. Chris and Marina Durban look forward to welcoming you aboard their multi-award winning houseboats. Check the facts. Telephone (03) 5024 7770, click on to

Paris special package

A deal which combines France rail pass and two nights in the three-star Hotel Marena in Paris is on sale until November 27 2008 and available for travel between April and September 2009. You may not believe the price, which is $482 per person twin share, - and there's more. Accommodation, continental breakfasts and three days first class travel within one month. Airfares not included. Don't just pinch yourself, but be quick about it and check

Pampering by experts

There's a whole series of pampering packages on offer at the Milawa resort property, LindenWarrah, ranging from getaways with the girls, to romance for two. For the girls, accommodation in a twin room, with the package including a two-course dinner in Restaurant Merlot, a fully cooked buffet breakfast , a one-hour massage or complete facial. The price is $279.00 per person, twin share. Valid until the end of February 2009. Telephone (03) 5720 5777 or email

Christmas market

Germany prepares for the Christmas markets, with many now operating through until Christmas. Just to the north of Frankfurt is the historical rural Christmas market.

It's Hessenpark where visitors, on December 13 and 14, get to experience a festive event from a bygone era. This is just one of many open-air museums which stage Christmas festivities. For more information on the markets go to

Holiday playground and millions

Thunder down under 1-19 January 2009, when the Magic Millions takes over the Gold Coast. First up organise your accommodation. Here's an option! Base yourself at BreakFree Equinox Resort apartments during the big event from $143 per room per night. Or, BreakFree Surfers Paradise and pay from $125 per room per night, based on three night stays. Check the details by ringing 132 007 or hop on to

Return the car and benefit

I am most impressed with the deal offered through Europcar. They offer up to 48 hours of free passenger car hire rented and returned to selected locations. For instance pick up the car in Wellington and return to Auckland and gain 48 hours free hire and 750 km free travel. Valid from December 1 2008 until March 30 2009. Log onto or call 1300 13 13 90.

Tour Borneo in 2009

A 15-day inclusive tour departs 6 September 2009, travelling via Kuala Lumpur to Kuching. Then discover the highlights of Sarawak and Sabah,- truly fascinating destinations. Adventurers, explorers and naturalists have targeted the world's undiscovered frontiers. Now, it's your turn. Prices, ex Sydney/Brisbane/Melbourne, start from $5,380 per person, twin share. Five star hotels and most meals are included. You will need to make an early booking for this one. Contact Adventure Associates on 1800 222 141 for more information.

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages and prices are subject to change and availability. Block out periods may apply. Need a holiday ? We're archived on

Monday, 10 November 2008

Movies under the stars

Travel Briefs/Tips – for w/c November 10


By John Crook

Royal palaces and all that

Take on the back roads of the UK and Europe travelling with a like minded group numbering from just two to 16. You may care to take in Harry Potter country or the battlefields of  the Anzacs.  For instance there's a six day/five night tour of the palaces and chateaux pf the Loire, priced from $2399 per person.  Check the conditions and the itinerary with your local travel agent. Just ask for details of Explore Holidays personalised tours, on offer including a 10% launch discount.

Luxury in the wild

Check the latest information on &BEYOND 's new luxury lodges in northern Kenya and southern Tanzania or the other 44 lodges and camps scattered through South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and India.   This company offers the wilderness under the banner of luxury adventure. To get the full picture have a look at  

A real saving

The deal is for you to book an economy car for a minimum of three days and pay just $29 per day, or a compact car for three days and pay $33 per day.  The offer is from Europcar and applies to locations in Victoria, New South Wales, the ACT, Brisbane, God Coast and Sunshine Coast.  The offer is valid for sale through December 15 2008.

Check on the other deals currently on offer by logging on to or telephone 1300 13 13 90.

Sydney Opera House views

Family rooms from $79 per night  offer the ideal answer to those who are looking for a decent deal in Sydney,- million dollar views at that!    Formulae 1 is located in William Street, and that's just a short walk to the city centre.   Family rooms feature a double bed, plus two bunks, a private ensuite bathroom, air conditioning and a TV.

To book have a look at or ring (02) 9326 0300.

Cruise deal

There's a six-day cruise from Istanbul to Athens vis the Greek Islands,  priced from $1886 per person. New bookings paid in full by May 31 2009 and the price is from $1697. Included is accommodation in cabins with private facilities, air conditioning, all-on-board meals and most on board entertainment.  Ports visited include Mykonos, Patmos, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Ag Nikolaos and Santorini.  The agents on 1300 558 987 or Google
A bush Christmas

During the Christmas holiday period, December 1 2008 to January 31 2009. book the family into Peppers Hidden Vale (the home of the original James Bond).  Accommodation in a three bedroom cottage, continental breakfasts and free activities including mountain bikes,  tennis courts, use of heated pool, animal nursery and a golf driving range.  The available rates are from $350 per family, per night.  Other rates for singles or doubles are also available.  Contact 1300 881 435 or email    

Save money at Kingscliff

It's possible to save $90 a night when booked into Mantra on Salt Beach at Kingscliff.   Try this one for size.  At the four and a half star property standard hotel rooms are available from $87 per night per person, based on two adults twin-share.   Valid for travel until November 30 2008.  Full breakfast is included for two.  To check on this offer log onto or telephone 1800 421 800.

Movies under the stars

Commending mid year 2009 Dawn Princess will introduce  its outdoor cinema.  The following year Sun Princess follows suit.  So take to a deck chair, or view from the pool.  US based Princess vessels have had such delights since 2004. Now, it's our turn. Join Dawn Princess and its 13 night cruise to Fiji departing Sydney June 22 2009 with fares from $2106 per person twin share, and your date with the open air theatre is confirmed.  Ring 13 24 88 and get the facts.

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages  and prices are subject to change and availability.  Block out periods may apply.    Need a holiday ?  We're archived on

Monday, 3 November 2008

Nothing like a train journey


By John Crook 

Nothing like a train journey

This one travels through five countries departing April 9 2009.  It's the 21-day Silk Road experience. Moscow to Beijing.   Cost for a silver class room, including accommodation with private en-suite and all meals from onboard chefs, private bar car, sightseeing guides, local transport and return transfers,  is from $28,454 per person twin share.  The journey can also be taken westbound from Beijing on April 12.  Contact 1300 363 554 or visit 

New services ex Brisbane to Bali

Starting December 14, Garuda Indonesia is allowing children under 12 to travel free.  The offer includes free Australian government taxes and free fuel surcharges.  So any child up to 11 years of age, accompanied by two full fare paying adults, on year round fares, qualify.  The offer does not apply to passengers travelling on special promotional fares in 'B' and 'Q' subclasses.   The promotion is valid for passengers in economy and executive classes, travelling between December 14 2008 and January 31 2009, including Christmas. To check on conditions and payment requirements, telephone 1300 365 331.

Complimentary rail transfers

It is worth checking on how you can access one of the world's best short train crossings in the world.  I refer to the extension of the complimentary transfer service which includes pickup and drop off at the TranzAlpine railway station and Huntley House.  The other option is to do the transfer in a luxurious Mercedes Benz 8-seater people mover.  Either option takes you to paradise and to Christchurch's boutique Huntley House, a member of Select Hotels and Resorts International.  Check it out by emailing or telephone (02) 8969 3900 

UK August and the Tattoo

If your travel plans have you in the UK in August 2009 avoid the fight to book accommodation and instead, sail from Dover to Edinburgh, making the classic Saga Ruby your 'Edinburgh hotel.'  It is a four-night mini-cruise departing Dover August 24.  Entry to the Tattoo is included in the price which also features all onboard dining, classic English afternoon teas daily, West End style entertainment each night, late release movies and dancing to a live band.  Telephone 1800 225 656 for your nearest   Price is from a reasonable $1,435 per person, twin share Cruiseco cruise specialist. 

India by private car

Here's the opportunity to tour north and south India on a 33-day Grand Indian Panorama package.  Villages, temples, wildlife sanctuaries even a deluxe houseboat cruise.  Priced from $7,189 per person twin share the package includes touring, sightseeing, rail travel, three game drives and 41 meals. Check it out on  

Brisbane on your doorstep

Now is the time to 'do' Brisbane.  The climate at this time of the year is just terrific. Make plans to book a studio apartment at Mantra South Bank, from just $199 per night, and that places you within easy walking distance of the CBD, the galleries and the famous Brisbane lifestyle. The price tag is valid Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights to December 24 2008.  That includes  accommodation, breakfast and car parking.  For bookings telephone 1300 557 575. 

Ever been to Orange?

What a stunning city is Orange, with its treelined boulevards, wonderful wines, excellent dining and just about the happiest people on earth.  Everyone, so it seems, is smiling. An offer from Clifton Gardens b&b will put a smile on your face.  John and Kay Gransden offer a two night package valued at $450, available to our readers for $370.  That includes superb accommodation, full country breakfast and a personalised wine tour of the district.  Telephone (02) 6365 1044 or visit 

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

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VISUAL : Aboard the Moscow to Beijing train