Monday, May 31, 2010

Sydney Youth Orchestra


Looking for something special to do in Sydney this weekend? Get to know Sydney Youth Orchestra's talented young musicians through their kaleidoscope of performances in Beauty & the Baroque - celebrating the genius of Gabrielli, Bach and Mozart - with a little Stravinsky on the side. Presented in two of Sydney’s most beautiful churches, the SYO will harness the architecture and acoustics to bring this music into being – just a glimpse into the musical beauty of our musical heritage.

Attend 'Meet the Artists' one hour before each concert to enjoy complimentary macaroons by Baroque Bistro Patisserie and a free drink. 3-Concert Subscriptions are also available for only $103 and not only will you receive a bonus ticket but you'll go in the draw to win a dinner for 4 at Baroque (valued at $300).

When: Saturday 5 June, 7:00pm (doors open 6:00pm)
Where: St James Church, Sydney
Also on Sunday 6 June, 3:00pm at St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta.

Visit the Sydney Youth Orchestra site for booking information.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Experience New Zealand....

There's way more to New Zealand than just sheep and scenery! Whether you want to ski the immaculate peaks in the South Island, take in the wineries around Wellington, or discover the magic of Auckland, it's all within reach with Jetstar's low fares. 

Right now Jetstar has fantastic sale fares to both Auckland and Christchurch, however your New Zealand journey does not have to stop there! Pre-book one of Jetstar's New Zealand domestic flights and experience more wonderful destinations. 

Visit the Jetstar sale page for all the details and to book the first leg of your New Zealand adventure. Trans-Tasman fares are on sale until midnight (23:59 AEST) Sunday 30 May 2010.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Family Getaways for Winter

Adventure islands ... sailing in New Caledonia.
New Caledonia

Keep the kids amused and intrigued with some thrill-seeking fun in places you'll reach before you hear the first 'are we there yet?', writes Ute Junker for The Age Traveller.

Sometimes, a family getaway is about doing nothing more strenuous than relaxing by the beach or resort pool. However, if you're looking for something more from your winter escape; a chance to explore somewhere completely different, giving your children thrills and some learning, too, all within a few hours of Australia, we've found the perfect destinations for you.


Port Vila may be what passes for the big smoke but with jungles, waterfalls, jet-boat rides and traditional villages, Vanuatu is a family playground. Efficient local buses are an easy way to get around but it's more fun to join a buggy tour that takes you along tracks and black-sand beaches. A highlight is Mele Cascade; if your kids are older, they'll love abseiling the waterfall. The Roi Mata Cultural Tour combines cave visits and snorkelling with local history.


Denarau has plenty of lush resorts: the beauty of the Sheraton Fiji Resort is that guests can access all facilities at the adjacent Sheraton Denarau Villas and The Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa. That includes six pools, restaurants (children 12 and under stay and dine free), kids' clubs and water sports. The island's interior options include Zip-Fiji's Canopy Tour , where children aged five and over can take a thrilling treetop trip along horizontal cables at speed. Let them get muddy at Sabeto hot water springs or take them on a jet-boat safari up the Sigato River.

Cook Islands

Exploring the hidden delights of Rarotonga is easy; the toughest part is deciding how. Children will love hopping behind you on distinctive yellow scooters; they cost $NZ25 ($20) a day and a local driver's licence is available for a few dollars at the police station. Walk to Papua Waterfall, Avana Valley or Raemaru Lookout through rainforest trails; if that sounds like too much time away from the water, take a day trip around the island.


Ubud may not have the beaches that lure families to the south coast but it does have Monkey Forest, one of Bali's best-known attractions. The animal fun doesn't stop there: try the Elephant Safari Park at Taro, Bali Bird Park and nearby Reptile Park. Older kids can white-water raft, or cycle through villages and past stunning temples. A great place to base yourself is Taman Harum Cottages. The free hotel shuttle will take you into town but most of the time, you'll find plenty to do on-site, including yoga lessons or aerobics.

New Caledonia

Got any Thomas the Tank Engine fans in your family? Once the littlies catch a glimpse of Le Petit Train, Noumea's most colourful transport, they'll want to ride around on it all day. Older children will love day trips to the islands not far from Noumea. Just offshore from Anse Vata is Ile aux Canards, which offers great snorkelling, including an underwater walkway where signs explain the local marine life. Slightly further afield (45 minutes by boat) is Ilot Amedee, another great spot for snorkelling and beachcombing. From here you can also take a trip to the reef for shark and turtle spotting.

Visit The Age Traveller to read the full article.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hawaiian Paradise...

Dreaming of warm sunshine? Wake up in Hawaiian paradise for 5 nights from only $305. The Miramar at Waikiki is perfectly situated in the heart of Waikiki,  a block from Waikiki Beach. 

Adjacent to the International Marketplace and walking distance to the Aquarium and the Honolulu Zoo, The Miramar at Waikiki is located on the city bus lines that take you to Ala Moana Shopping Centre, Pearl Harbour, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, around the island and more.

• 5 nights accommodation at the 3-star Miramar at Waikiki in a Superior Room.
• Return seat in coach airport transfers.
• Bonus reduced rates!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Le Meridien Tahiti

Better known by the name of its main island, Tahiti, French Polynesia is a mesmerising wonderland of reef-fringed islands and translucent aqua lagoons. Shamelessly chic and seductive, it's the kind of place where the rich and famous come to play and hedonistic honeymoon fantasies are realised. The epitome of the Pacific dream, this is one Garden of Eden so damn beautiful it's hard to believe it really exists.

4 1/2-star Le Meridien Tahiti is situated in the heart of the Punaauia region and overlooks white sand beaches, calming blue waves, and commanding mountains. Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, is a cultural hub of the South Pacific, featuring colourful markets, distinguished art and history museums, and lush botanical gardens.

Just minutes away from the celebrated sites of French Polynesia, Le Meridien Tahiti offers excursions to the Caves of Maraa, the Gauguin Museum, and the Seashell Museum. Glorious waterfalls form the core of expansive canyons at the heart of the island.
Escape Travel is offering 4 nights at Le Meridien Tahiti from $719*


• 4 nights accomodation at the 4 1/2-star Le Meridien Tahiti in a Deluxe Lagoon View Room.
• BONUS stay 4 nights for the price of 3 Return private car airport transfer.

Call 1300 556 855 or visit Escape Travel

Monday, May 24, 2010

Palau... An Untouched Paradise

A virtually untouched series of limestone islands is now easy for Australians to reach, writes David Barbeler for The Age Traveller.

As a Westerner who's visited numerous stunning countries corrupted by tourism, I initially had trouble understanding why the people of Palau were getting so excited.

Located 800km east of the Philippines, the Republic of Palau is a series of more than 250 limestone islands virtually untouched by tourists.

Many compare it to the feel of Bali 30 years ago.

Up until April, it use to take Australians about 24 hours to travel there through a limited number of interconnecting flights and/or boats.

However a new A310 Airbus service, operated by Pacific Flier, has just opened the door to Australian tourists for the first time, with a direct flight from Brisbane cutting the trip down to a mere five and a half hours and costing $799 return. Kids can fly for $79 return during the airline's launch period.

Rather than this very traditional Pacific island nation wanting to keep this paradise all to themselves, they are bursting at the seams to show off their Eden to the rest of the world.

What makes Palau so special is that it is virtually surrounded by reefs, many of which are world renowned in underwater recreation.

Home to the world's only shark sanctuary and 1387 species of fish, there's no shortage of snorkelling and diving spots to choose from.

But it's not just its reefs and wrecks that make for good diving in Palau's waterways.

Over countless centuries, many sections of the jagged, limestone landscape have slowly given way to the relentless tides to form a plethora of underwater caves to snorkel through.

Perhaps even more spectacular is Jellyfish Lake, which was cut off from the main ocean at the end of the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago and is home to 13 million stingless jellyfish.

Because the thick blanket of jellyfish that inhabit the lake have been isolated for so long, they've had the luxury of no natural predators, and thus, no need to develop any toxins.

Another must during any visit to Palau is a trip to one of the country's most famous reefs - The Big Drop Off - which runs for several hundred metres along the west coast of Ngemelis Island.

During extreme low tides, the top of the reef is exposed, before dropping a staggering 274 metres straight down to the ocean floor.

But if you just can't get enough of snorkelling and kayaking, then the best place to stay is undoubtedly at the five star accommodation, the Palau Pacific Resort.

More than half of the resort is surrounded by water, and as its "2010 Best Diving Resort" award suggests, has its very own reef to snorkel.

To read the full article visit The Age Traveller.

Friday, May 21, 2010

17th Biennale of Sydney

The 17th Biennale of Sydney (12 May - 1 August 2010) directed by David Elliott and titled 'THE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age' will showcase the freshest, most exciting and innovative contemporary art. In a country that has traditionally regarded distance as a disadvantage, this Biennale will celebrate distance by including art from Australia and all around the world. By providing a unique experience of a wide range of good art, the exhibition will express the power of art, as well as its creative richness.

Held every two years, the Biennale of Sydney stages a three-month exhibition, plus a program of special events, public tours, artist talks, film screenings and international guest lectures across Sydney - and admission to the exhibition and these events is FREE. The fourth oldest biennale in the world, the Biennale of Sydney continues to be recognised for showcasing the freshest and most provocative contemporary art from Australia and around the world.

The 17th Biennale of Sydney will take place in venues and sites around Sydney Harbour, including: Cockatoo Island, Pier 2/3, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, Artspace and the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Grand Court).

For more information visit

 Top: Cai Guo-Qiang, Inopportune: Stage One, 2004 (detail), nine cars and sequenced multichannel light tubes, dimensions variable. Collection of Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Robert M. Arnold, in honour of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2006, installation view at MASS MoCA, North Adams, 2004. Courtesy Cai Studio. Photograph: Hiro Ihara

Middle: Kutlug Ataman, Mesopotamian Dramaturgies / Journey to the Moon, 2009 (detail), still photography, 31 x 41 cm. Courtesy of Francesca Minini, Milan and the artist

Bottom: Daniel Crooks, Static No.12 (seek stillness in movement), 2009–10 Detail of HD video (RED transferred to Blu-ray), dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery. Copyright © Daniel Crooks 2009

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Long Weekend Escapes

Australian City Breaks with Toga

Start planning your next escape, for an extended weekend, this June or take an annual leave day and turn any weekend into a much needed mini holiday. Check out the 3 night packages from Qantas Holidays, which include return airfares and accommodation, or create your own Long Weekend Holiday package online.

Simply click on the applicable price to view the packages and book:
Sydney from $269* ex MEL per person twin share
Melbourne from $296* ex SYD per person twin share
Gold Coast from $302* ex SYD per person twin share
Cairns from $471* ex BRIS per person twin share
Brisbane from $338* ex SYD per person twin share
Hobart from $314* ex MEL per person twin share
Adelaide from $394* ex MEL per person twin share
Canberra from $426* ex SYD per person twin share
Perth from $564* ex ADL per person twin share
Darwin from $826* ex BRIS per person twin share
More dates and departure cities available online with Qantas Holidays.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa

Get ready for an outstanding holiday. Eco-certified Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa, Coconut Beach offers a truly unique and eco-friendly accommodation experience set amongst the ancient Daintree Rainforest. Enjoy the peace with no telephones and televisions for a true escape from the world. You'll find no better place to escape, relax and refresh in the natural surrounds.

Located just 90 minutes drive from Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation is one of nature's true paradises, and you will be holidaying in one of the world's most remarkable environments. Both the Daintree and The Great Barrier Reef are World Heritage listed sites. The ancient forests of the Daintree are home to 85 of the world's 120 rarest species of plants, and thrive with native fauna - a living museum that has barely changed over thousands of years. The Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral formation, comprised of nearly 3000 separate reefs, made up of 400 different kinds of coral. Its waters teem with spectacular marine life. Scuba diving, snorkelling, sea kayaking, 4WD trips, horse rides, rainforest walks and crocodile cruises are just some of the adventures we offer.

What's more, with all these opportunities at your doorstep, at Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa you'll be holidaying at one with nature. Our guests unwind in the most exquisite of natural surroundings without sacrificing anything in the way of comfort. You will find your accommodation dotted through the rainforest amidst wild surrounds, offering private rainforest views with easy access to the white-sands of Coconut Beach itself. The complex reef systems, just metres from the beach, extend to Mackay and Undine Reefs, only 25 minutes offshore.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ski New Zealand with Jetstar

With the ski season fast approaching, now is the perfect time to book your winter getaway. Jetstar has teamed up with Liquid Adventures to bring you some fantastic Queenstown ski packages.

Queenstown is the perfect winter destination, surrounded by stunning slopes and heaps of other exhilarating activities. And what better way to experience it all, then by booking one of the Queenstown ski packages at an amazing low price.

These packages are all about choice, with 3 and 7 night stays available at two great hotels. Packages include flights into Christchurch, with options available for your onward journey to Queenstown. Selected packages include return coach transfers from Christchurch to your hotel in Queenstown, or you can choose a package without a transfer and enjoy the freedom of hiring a car from Avis or Budget.

Visit Jetstar Holidays to view the packages available.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Vivid Sydney

Lights On by Vivid Sydney.

Vivid Sydney is back to shine light, music and ideas across the city in the biggest festival of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

From large-scale light installations and projections through to music performances, ideas, creative summits and beyond, Vivid Sydney pulls out all the stops across every creative field.

From art lovers and creatives through to families and first-timers to Sydney, everyone will find something illuminating about Vivid Sydney!

Check out videos of the event or visit

Friday, May 14, 2010

Amazing Hayman Island Getaway with Jetstar

Hayman Great Barrier Reef - Iconic Pool

Treat yourself to an amazing Hayman Getaway! Enjoy one ofAustralia’s most awarded five-star resort nestled within the beautiful Whitsunday Islands. Take in the breathtaking scenery of the reef, indulge in the fine dining, and relax with a treatment from Spa Hayman. Hayman Island offers an experience like no other! Jetstar Holidays has a special holiday package to Hayman Island. Packages on sale until midnight (23:59 AEST) Tuesday 18 May 2010, unless sold out prior. To book visit Jetstar Holidays or call 131 538

Stay 4 nights at Hayman and receive a $500 resort credit*

• 4 nights accommodation in a Retreat Room
• Return economy class JetSaver Light^ airfare to Hamilton Island, carry-on baggage only
• Return luxury launch transfers from Hamilton Island Airport to Hayman Island
• Full breakfast daily at Azure resturant
• $500 resort credit* per room, per stay for use at Hayman restaurants, bars and activities

For travel between 20 May - 22 June, 20 July - 10 August and 16 - 26 August 2010.

• Ex Brisbane $1233pp
• Ex Melbourne $1373pp
• Ex Sydney $1373pp

Price per person, twin share

Visit Jetstar Holidays for full details and Terms & Conditions

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hidden Paradise - Kiribati

Unique ... little-known Kiribati is seeking more Australian visitors.

Looking for a secluded, remote and romantic getaway... One of the Pacific's least-known, least-visited islands wants more Australian tourists. The Age Traveller reveals the hidden paradise of Kiribati...

Okay travellers - how many of you have heard of Kiribati? How many know where it is?And how many know how to pronounce it?

The answers: it's probably the least-known, and one of the least visited, Pacific islands nations.

Uniquely, its islands lie both sides of both the Equator and the International Date line.

And you say it in its original Gilbertese language, "Kiri-bass".

Today, the former Gilbert Islands, which became independent Kiribati in 1979, has launched a campaign to attract more tourists - especially from Australia - than last year's 5,000 or so.

The target is at least 8,000 by 2014.

Recently, Kiribati's Director of Tourism Tarataake Teannaki and Australian adviser Danial (Danial) Rochford, working through Ausaid, paid Australia a promotional visit during which they went to the Brisbane Tinnie and Tackle Show spreading the word about the "fabulous fishing" in the islands - as well as surfing and cultural attractions.

They want you to enjoy experiencing an island lifestyle as it was around the Pacific before tour packages with luxury resorts with swimming pools hit many archipelagos further south.

Kiribati's best claim to fame came when its main island of Tarawa was one of the bloodiest battlegrounds between United States marines and Japanese troops in November 1943 during World War II.

Today, Tarawa is at peace but, large guns, other rusted relics and signs of battle remain as reminders of the violent past there and on neighbouring Betio, site of the Japanese headquarters, and on Butaritari and Abemama atolls.

Guided tours of the battle sites are available.

Apart from World War II buffs, Kiribati should appeal to anyone who'd simply like to get away from well-trodden tourist trails and explore some beautiful unspoiled islands.

"A visit to Kiribati is for those of adventurous spirit ... who are looking for a different side of the Pacific experience," says Kiribati Tourism.

"We're for travellers, not tourists.

"You won't see any fluffy towels and swim-up bars here, but if you're prepared to leave the comforts of home behind and go with it, you might get more than you bargained for on a visit to Kiribati."

Australians are made to feel at home: Kiribati's currency is the Australian dollar and English is widely spoken as well as Gilbertese.

On the social scene, visitors to Kiribati should enjoy traditional and exuberant singing and dancing.

But they should be wary of the local coconut toddy, a potent liquid made from fermented coconut sap - a warning given from hazy memories of a personal experience a few years back.

Accommodation is available at hotels, guest-houses and fishing lodges - modestly-furnished but clean - and you may also home-stay in a traditional "biwa" open-sided cottage.

Visit The Age Traveller to read the full article.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Great fares to and from Canberra

Beat the Budget with some great deals to and from Canberra available for departures from 24 May to 24 June 2010 and 20 July to 15 September 2010, unless otherwise stated.

Canberra’s purpose-built existence had a political conception – after much debate it was deemed the perfect location from which lead the nation, as it is half way between Australia’s biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne. While aspects of its planning were centred on its growth as the home of Australian government, there’s more to this city than Parliament House and the politics within it – it’s also a cultural destination. Canberra is home to the National Gallery of Australia and also the Australian War Memorial. The lush parks and gardens also add to its charm.

Sale ends midnight (AEST) Monday 24 May 2010, unless sold out prior. Availability is limited.

Visit Qantas

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Muri Beach Club Hotel

The Muri Beach Club Hotel enjoys an enviable location on the very best stretch ofbeach on Muri Lagoon. Beachfront rooms have stunning views over thelagoonand the small off-shore islands (motu).

This perfect getaway retreat is privately owned and operated with relaxation, privacy and guest satisfaction as its mission objective.

Amenities designed to pamper include a Fine Dining Restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner specialising in Pacific Rim Cuisine. The exclusive Lagoon Lounge, large central Swimming Pool, Beauty & Spa, personalised wedding and honeymoon coordinator, Business Centre, shopping including Polynesian Jewelery and Resort Wear, Aqua-Center, Tour Desk, Rental Vehicles and 24 hour Reception ensure every need is catered for.

Boutique in style and service, the Muri Beach Club Hotel welcomes you to experience the real rhythm of absolute chic sophistication.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Europe River Cruising

If you are looking for a stress-free holiday or honeymoon or holiday, then you can't look past Scenic Tours... We think the Europe River Cruise looks particularly enticing...

As you glide effortlessly through the very heart of Europe’s iconic cities and majestic countryside, it’s easy to lose yourself in the moment. There’s no packing and unpacking and life on board a Scenic "Space-Ship" is akin to travelling in a five-star floating hotel.

With Scenic Tours you will cruise in style with more space, enjoy superb dining, uncompromising service and unforgettable memories.

Onboard a Scenic “Space-Ship” you will enjoy:

· Larger staterooms and suites with exclusive outdoor balconies on 82% of all cabins or large picture windows on the Moselle Deck instead
· Larger lounges with more space to relax
· More dining space for flexible seating – fine dining at Portobello’s Italian Restaurant or Alfresco on the upper deck
· Scenic Tours river cruises are all-inclusive – everything is included except your personal spending
· Superb amenities including a flat screen TV, wireless internet access, luxurious ensuite, “Scenic Slumber Beds” and even an Australian power point!
· Cultural highlights, Local artists, Outstanding performers – enjoy the well-known melodies such as Edelweiss, a colourful gypsy troupe as they move among the audience, or the creativity of flame worker Hans-Joachim Ittig

Friday, May 7, 2010

Beach Getaways

Even closer ... the Te Vakaroa Villas in the Cook Islands.

Direct flights are driving prices down as resorts compete for Australian business, writes Jane E. Fraser for The Age Traveller

If you're thinking about a resort holiday, now is a great time to book. Overseas resort destinations are battling it out for Australian travellers, resulting in rock-bottom deals for favourites such as Fiji, Bali and Phuket.

"Many are discounting their prices to levels we've never seen before," says the general manager, brand, of, Lisa Ferrari. "Many Aussies would be surprised to see where their travel budgets can take them. Australians can head off to neighbouring countries for under $1000."

New flights are one of the biggest drivers of competition between resort destinations, bringing improved access and increased price competition. Fiji and Phuket have been among the biggest winners, with new services from Jetstar and V Australia. The Cook Islands is about to take a step up, with direct flights from Australia starting in two months' time.

The general manager of marketing at Escape Travel, Colin Bowman, says competition is resulting in "very favourable" pricing for Australian travellers to the south Pacific, as well as for staples such as Bali, Fiji and Phuket and other destinations around Asia.

"There's no doubt there are some great deals around at the moment, there's a lot of competition for the Australian traveller," Bowman says. "There have been some new routes opened up by airlines ... and then you add on top of that some great hotel deals. We are seeing a lot of hotels adding in things such as meals and activities."

Bowman says there is particularly good value to be found in family holiday packages, with deals such as "kids stay and eat free". And with the weather cooling and the winter school holidays coming up, many are expected to take advantage by booking in coming weeks.

Read the full article at The Age Traveller

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day Getaways


Still searching high and low for the perfect Mother's Day gift? Why not spoil mum this Mother's Day and give her the gift she needs and deserves with an indulgent hotel stay. Whether it be a city break in spectacular Sydney harbour or bright blue skies and stunning beaches in Port Douglas, the special offers from Qantas will surely cater for all your needs.

You only get this chance once year, so why not stop, remember, and express your love for mum by giving her a much needed break away.

Don't miss out on the great hotel offers available and make this Mother's Day one mum will never forget!

Above Vibe Hotel North Sydney

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gourmet Traveller's Hot 100

Whether you can eat it, cook it, drink it, smoke it, fly it, drive it, sail it, shake, rattle, rock and roll it or just simply luxuriate in it, Gourmet Traveller have got 2010’s most compelling food and travel trends nailed. The GT team have combed the globe, polishing plates, swirling glasses and leaving no hot-stone treatment unturned to bring you this sizzling list.

Here are the Gourmet Traveller's top 5...

Tiny burgers
1 Hold me down now, tiny burgers
Now this is our kind of American cultural imperialism: tiny scale-model burgers, known as sliders in the US. They’ve established a Sydney beachhead at the bars at Rockpool Bar & Grill and Etch. Rockpool Bar & Grill, 66 Hunter St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 8078 1900; Etch, 62 Bridge St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9247 4777

File:A380 Emirates A6-EDC.jpg

2 Most exciting advance in air travel
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s Superman! No, it’s a plane! In this post-9/11-SARS-GFC-world, nothing has done more to revive the fortunes of international air travel than the arrival of the A380. Not since the Concorde has a jet created such excited expectation, fuelled by accounts of double-decker decadence including first-class suites with two-metre-long beds, private lounges, shower spas (on Emirates) and an electronic art gallery (on Air France). With 50 per cent more space than a Jumbo, better fuel efficiency and the ability to fly from New York to Hong Kong in a single bound, you realise this isn’t just a plane, it’s the Superjumbo of the skies.

Patrons enjoy the waterfront experience at Manly Pavilion.

3 The north shore strikes back
After more than a decade of digs from their dining compatriots south of the harbour, residents of Sydney’s north shore and northern beaches are on the cusp of enjoying a northside restaurant revolution. New restaurants from the teams at China Doll and Glebe Point Diner (in Manly and Neutral Bay, respectively), in addition to Manly’s El Toro Loco and Manly Pavilion (photo above, Quentin Jones), plus Ad Lib Bistro in Pymble and Cavallino in Terrey Hills (from local heroes at the reborn Berowra Waters Inn and Pilu at Freshwater, respectively) are just the tip of the iceberg.


4 Clean, green island dream
Sonu and Eva Shivdasani of Six Senses resort, Soneva Fushi, believe that climate change begins at home – they live in the Maldives, after all – so they’re determined to preserve the surrounding landscape. Their benchmark resort is already carbon-neutral thanks to a range of measures that includes carbon offsetting, bottling water supplies and composting organic waste. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels is “more about effort than actual money”, Sonu Shivdasani says, adding that when people travel to experience new surroundings, hotel operators have no choice but to protect their environments. Six Senses also cares about the livelihoods of its neighbours, investing half a per cent of its revenue into community projects. Rooms from $692.

5 Most anticipated (and elevated) opening
It’s the perfect way to celebrate a 10th anniversary. Vue de Monde’s move to the 55th floor of the Rialto building in Melbourne’s CBD comes a decade after Shannon Bennett opened his first restaurant in Carlton. And just as his Little Collins Street version of Vue was a sleeker, more ambitious animal than the original, the new Vue is also tweaking its outlook. The design, by architects Elenberg Fraser, will feature Australian and sustainable materials, including lashings of reclaimed timber. The menu, too, will be “more iconically Australian” and include locally sourced truffles, heirloom vegetables and kangaroo charcuterie. A spacious dining room seating about 50 people, a small number of chef’s tables overlooking the kitchen, function rooms for up to 130 people, a dedicated elevator and, of course, the view make the reopening of Vue de Monde – perhaps as early as October – this year’s one to watch.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Isika Day Spa at Crown Metropol

Still searching for the perfect Mother's Day gift? How about a trip to a day spa... Melbourne's newest and most luxurious day spa, Isika, is the perfect way to show mum just how special she is...

Crown’s third hotel, Crown Metropol, which opened in early 2010, will be home to Melbourne’s only sky-high resident day spa, Isika. The stunning new spa will offer guests an unparalleled level of luxury not previously available in Melbourne. Located on level 27, Isika day spa will share the floor with the hotel’s infinity and refreshing plunge and vitality pools, spa and world-class gymnasium. Guests of Isika spa may choose to reside in one of the exclusive residential spa accommodation rooms located on level 26, giving them the utmost in privacy and relaxation with direct access via a private staircase to Isika.

This new urban spa and retreat presents an array of choices to guests making it the ultimate haven of luxury. Isika spa includes 10 treatment rooms, a hair salon, nail bar and experienced therapists. Both men and women will benefit from the individually designed and tailored male and female treatments.

Isika will use Aromatherapy Associates therapeutic products which are renowned for using powerful plant extracts to dramatic effect. The luxury spa brand is currently used in the established Crown Spa. For discerning gentlemen, Isika has sourced products designed for the specific needs of male skin from premium skincare brand Skinn.

Isika will offer body treatments, manicures, pedicures and facials and a range of packages focussing on stress relief, men’s grooming, detoxification, fitness and well-being. The combination of these extensive treatments, along with Isika’s individually styled packages, Isika is set to become Melbourne’s leading urban retreat.

Crown Metropol, Crown’s new 658-room, $300 million AUD hotel reflects the urban and metropolitan context of the hotel’s design and location. Australia’s newest hotel will attract international leisure guests as well as cater for global convention and conference delegates. The architecturally striking design includes a stunning futuristic podium entry, a sky bar and terrace on level 28, the hotel’s highest floor, access to extensive meeting rooms and a retail precinct showcasing brands previously unavailable in Australia.

For more information visit

Monday, May 3, 2010

Freycinet National Park, Tasmania

Pink granite mountains, white sand beaches, grey-green casuarinas, seawater blue as turqouise – they are the colours of Freycinet, a premiere holiday destination with luxury accommodation on Tasmania’s East Coast.

Freycinet’s landscapes are softer, warmer, the perfect summer holiday – shaped by the ocean and splashed by mild East Coast sunshine.

Abundant Tasmanian wildlife in Freycinet National Park on land and at sea, a rich colonial history with place names recalling bold navigators and explorers who first sailed along the Freycinet coast, cool-climate wines and fine local produce; all yours to enjoy at Freycinet.

Sensitively sited in coastal bushland within the boundary of the National Park, Freycinet Lodge is the ideal accommodation for holiday makers by day and a comfortable haven as the sun sets across the waters of Great Oyster Bay. Walk Wineglass to Wine Glass and enjoy Tasmania's finest food and wine and discover the Freycinet Peninsula. It's easy to see why Wineglass Bay is has been voted one of the world's top ten beaches.

As Freycinet Lodge is located within a pristine National Park, entry fees do apply. Passes are available from the visitor information centre at the entrance to the park or at Freycinet Lodge reception with prices for a 24 hour vehicle pass starting at $24.00.

There are a range of great accommodation specials available, as well spectacular packages so you can experience the most of this gorgeous wilderness.