Monday, 20 July 2009

No downturn at the Victoria Palace


John Crook

No downturn at the Victoria Palace

Movie stars, writers, painters and those folk who are looking for something special, have the Victoria Palace Hotel in mind. It's elegant, refined and a must even if the holiday budget only allows for one very special night. It should be a night to remember. Apart from all the positive words of praise it receives, there is a special note to remember. This is one classy Paris property which also makes families welcome, as it is known as a children friendly hotel. It is right in the heart of the romantic city,- the Left Bank and Mont Martre. This is one very special place and to check availabilities, or make a reservation, email

Check out this splendid slice of Paris, by visiting

Its time to make a reservation, courtside

Can't wait until my favourite players hit the court at the first grand slam tennis tournament for 2010. The price of $465 per person twin share includes one-night at Mercure Welcome Hotel, entry to Melbourne Park and reserved seating in Rod Laver Arena at two games of your choice and unreserved seating at outside courts. Airfares to Melbourne are not included. For bookings telephone 131 600 or visit

Singles benefit with no surcharge

The elegant Royal Scotsman charms 36 guests who get to travel in a nostalgia style akin the Edwardian age, when romance was king. Staterooms all have private facilities and steward service. Heaps of highlights, with exciting itineraries up to seven nights and inclusive pricing start from $3,940 per person. Single guests don't pay any surcharge for single cabins. You can book on trips which operate through to October, 2009. Get the facts by visiting or telephone 1300 851 800.

SAS and its bargain sale

SAS is one of the most respected airlines in the world, with special business class fares from $4,849 ex Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, via Bangkok.

These fares are available through until 31 August 2009. There's also a special economy deal, with prices from $1,679 available for travel Bangkok or Tokyo and with departures ex Cairns. There are complimentary transit packages available between Bangkok or Tokyo for passengers having international flight connections of six-hours or more. These packages include quality accommodation and transfers between airport and hotel. For more information telephone 1300 727 707 or visit

Third birthday coming up

Chocolate Rush returns for its third anniversary, with an invitation for you to sample some serious chocolate tastings and demonstrations. Local and celebrity chefs will be on hand participating in sessions every hour. The venue is the Melbourne Showgrounds. For ticketing visit or telephone 1300 737 363. The dates are August 8 and 9, from 10.00am to 5.00pm.

Thirteen is lucky number

A 13-night cruise ex Sydney has destination New Zealand. The luxury-cruise is aboard the mega-liner Sun Princess which departs our shores on October 13 next year. Arguably this cruise is in the 'bargain price' department. The cruise comes with a choice of live-show lounges, a 24-hour buffet, three pools, a virtual golf simulator, spa and gym. Even a casino. The cruise includes visits to the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Napier, the Fjordland National Park, - just to mention a few. Ring 1300 369 848 for all the details or visit

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages and prices are subject to change and availability. This information is provided as a guide only. Check with your travel agency. Block-out periods may apply.

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Monday, 13 July 2009

One Room Hotel


John Crook

A hotel in a room

With rooms located around the globe a new company called Hotel Room has been launched. The first property is in the Bohemian Kallio district of Helsinki. This will shortly be followed by room #2, in Berlin. This is a new way to travel to escape the sometimes nondescript sameness of most hotel. Interested? Then check it out by visiting and for more info on Finland, why not take a look at

Rates for last minute sailings

It’s possible to make savings of up to 50% on a selection of seven-night sailings to the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Coast aboard Windstar Cruises. With departures still available in August and September this year the cruises highlight idyllic ports and those beautiful treasures of Italy, Greece, France, Corsica, Croatia, Slovenia and Monaco. One of the cruises is the seven-night Venice to Venice cruise, a round trip which takes in some of the gems of Slovenia and Croatia. This one is priced from $1647 per person, twin share. This is one cruise which must be considered and soon, as there is only one departure and that’s August 30 2009. Telephone Travel the World on1300 766 566 or visit

Shutterbugs at the ready

Capture the magic of Morocco through the lens of your camera on an escorted photographic tour from Casablanca to Marrakech. The tour departs September 13 and the prices start from $4200 per person twin share. That includes a local payment, 14 night’s accommodation, daily breakfasts, some dinners, all transport and sightseeing as per the itinerary, and tuition by the experienced photographer Ian Wright. International fares are not included. Contact Escape Travel on 1300 799 783.

Cooking Thai-style

Join a group of like minded Aussies and head towards Chiang Mai and its Thai cooking school. Visit markets, check the spices, and learn some of the secrets of Thai cuisine.

Priced from $429 per person this five-day tour includes four-night’s hotel accommodation, arrival and departure transfers, a three-day cooking school program with tasting sessions. These are monthly departures and available from July to November 2009. The price quoted does not include airfares. Terms and conditions apply. Get the full story by calling 134 782 or visit

Cruising the Middle East

The super-luxury Brilliance of the Seas sails from Dubai with a range of dates from late January 2010 to mid-April 2010. There are prices from as low as $3995 per person, twin share. Included is the return air fare from mainland capitals, a day pre-cruise in Dubai with a room at the luxury Arabian Courtyard Hotel & Spa, all shipboard dining, entertainment and gratuities, Grab a copy of the latest brochure by ‘phoning 1800 225 656 for the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise specialist travel agency.

Pie on High

Take a stroll along High Street in Armadale and be surprised. Melbourne comes alive along this upmarket suburb. Coffee shops galore, boutiques aplenty and my favourite, an all pie shop. Pie on High has around 40 varieties of pies, in fact this is a pie-lover’s paradise. By the way, not bad coffee either. Check it out and give Karen my best wishes. The address is 1206 High Street, Armadale,

* Please note conditions may apply to these packages and prices are subject to change and availability. This information is provided as a guide only. Check with your travel agency. Block-out periods may apply.

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Monday, 6 July 2009

Spend New Years Eve in Antarctica


John Crook 

Unique dining experience

Dine at a secluded bush setting under a canopy of stars and sample the hospitality of real  country folk.  The location is Rawnsley Park Station in South Australia's beautiful Flinders Ranges.  This dining experience is scheduled July 25, August 8 and 22, September 5 and 19 and also October 17.   Cost is $155 per person and the inclusions are a five-course banquet,  with wines to complement each course. Check on the transfers to the site. For details and reservations for the Starlight Banquet, telephone (08) 8648 0030.  Now, just don't turn up without a reservation as you could be dreadfully disappointed. 

Kakadu awaits

Here's a chance to visit the outback with its prehistoric landscape and crocodiles, in an area which has virtually been untouched by mankind.  It's remote, exciting and memorable.   The five-night escape package into the tropical Top End includes five-days of 4WD hire, a Kakadu Yellow Water cruise and a day-long  Arnhem Land safari.   There are two-nights accommodation in Darwin and three-nights accommodation at Gagudju Crocodile Holiday Inn.  Valid for sale until March 20 2010 and for travel until March 31 2010. Flights are not included. For bookings, telephone  Travel Associates 1800 044 066.  Conditions apply. 
Thredbo is the answer

Ski the fields at Thredbo but stay in the comfort of Canberra's Olims Hotel.  The offer is for a special ski package for two adults and two children (under 14 years of age), staying two nights in a deluxe room, with daily breakfasts and return bus transfers to the snow capped mountains at Thredbo.  The deal includes unrestricted lift pass, hire of skis, stocks and boots.  The normal price would be $1165, however, at the offer is available from $899.  Book before August 31 and stay between now and August 31 2009.

50% savings in Vietnam

There is a saving of 50% at six participating Accor hotels in Vietnam.  The next release of participating hotels is for stays during July 17 and September 30 2009.  The hotels include Novotel's at Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang, Dalat and Novotel Ocean Dune Golf and Resort at Phan Thiet, where the rate is US$45 per room plus taxes and service. For bookings and conditions visit  

New Year's Eve 2010

Be an early bird and you should be surprised and delighted at the deal-on-offer which will have you aboard the Australian expedition cruise ship Orion sailing south from New Zealand to Antarctica.   The deal gives you your return air travel for free from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to join Orion.  Also, CruiseMart includes a night's accommodation pre-cruise in Dunedin, for free.   Early bird bookings for the 18 night cruise, which must be booked by September 24 2009,  start from $19,112 per person, twin share.  For departure details and conditions ring 1300 305 920 or visit  

South America here I come

You can save $300 per person on a comprehensive tour of the highlights of South America, however, bookings need to be made by July 31 2009.  Travel is valid until December 31 2009.  Including return airfares and taxes ex Australia, the Splendours of South America  tour is priced from $8530.  That includes 21 nights' accommodation with daily breakfasts, some meals, plenty of sightseeing, air and land transportation within South America and airport transfers.

Contact Adventure World on 1300 363 055.