Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hop on Board Sale - Now on with Qantas



Qantas are having a fabulous Easter sale, with flights discounted both domestically and internationally. 

For example, fly to Canberra one-way from $69.00* or to Brisbane one-way from $75.00*… Or fly to Fiji one-way from $252.00*, or Honolulu return from $1150*. 

With fabulously cheap fares like this, you can book that holiday you've been planning!

Visit Qantas for more flights, and full *terms and conditions…

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Broome…



Welcome to Yawuru Land... a message from the Traditional Owners of Broome : Ngaji gurrjin marnja ngarr-ngu nyamba buru yawuru-any nilwal Rubibi ngarra-ngu gulbulan banugab-gungab- yanbangub – gularrgab


The Yawuru people, the Traditional Owners and Custodians, welcome you to Broome. A welcoming of people onto country is culturally important to Yawuru people to sustain Mabujunu Liyarn (Good Feeling) between both visitors and Traditional Owners. Our land is very ancient and covers vast areas from Wirkinmirre (Willie Creek) in the north: south through Minyirr (Broome) and east past Mangalagun (Crab Creek) and south to Warrawan (Barn Hill). We trust that you will all have a great time and enjoy the unique cultural diversity Broome has to offer. We further wish those visitors a safe journey in their future travels. Garlia! (see you soon)

Broome - An Introduction
 

Where the sky meets the land, the desert meets the sea, where white sands, red rocks and cobalt blue waters come together; on a peninsula not more than 15km long, here rests the town of Broome. Often referred to as the southern gateway to the Kimberley, this tropical seaside town simply oozes charm and character. Yet it’s not just the spectacular setting, warm winter days and balmy summer nights that make Broome a ‘one of a kind’ holiday destination.

Originally founded in the late 1880’s as a pearling port, Broome boasts a multicultural population lured here by the promise of finding their fortunes. Koepanger, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, European and Aboriginal cultures have all blended to create a captivatingly welcoming and colourful personality that is the heart and soul of Broome. If you like to unwind, Broome is your ideal holiday destination. Stroll on the world famous Cable Beach, home to an abundance of sea life, dotted with pindan cliffs, where the desert meets the ocean. Long renowned as one of the world’s best beaches Cable Beach takes its name from the Submarine Telegraph Cable that was laid in 1889, connecting Broome to Java, and becoming the main form of communication between Broome and the rest of the world. Today, it is a popular location to relax in the sun, go for a swim, sail on a pearl lugger, go fishing or just watch the tide go out and enjoy a magnificent sunset.

Wander through Chinatown and enjoy the contradiction of Broome, where historical buildings stand side by side with the architecture of the modern world. Among the modern pearl and art galleries, the infrastructures of the past subtly remind you of a day gone by, where pearling masters were celebrated and pearl luggers lined the shores of Roebuck Bay. If you take the time to explore, you’ll discover that Broome is rich in history and ethnic influence of the many cultures that have reached Broome’s shores. The architecture is not the only aspect of Broome influenced by cultural diversity. Why not treat your taste buds to the electric east meets west cuisine, or perhaps Italian is more your fare? Whether its just sitting back and watching the world go by in a sidewalk café, enjoying a handcrafted beer at the end of a busy day, or perhaps, sipping a cocktail whilst the sun sets, we’re sure you’ll find something to please your palate.
 

Whether this is your first trip to Broome or you are a seasoned visitor, give the staff at the Broome Visitor Centre a call we will be happy to help you organise anything from car hire, to accommodation and tours throughout the Kimberley area. The Broome Visitor Centre offers a free booking service, so take the stress out of your stay and let us plan your holiday for you. It’s as easy as calling 1800 883 777 or Book Online 24/7.

Broome...let yourself go

Visit Broome Visitor Centre for more information

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Break-Up



Forget clichéd hotel packages of roses, chocolates and champagne, Hilton Sydney is once again turning accommodation in Sydney on its head, with a new range of romance and anti-romance experiences designed for the new decade.


The Break-Up: We all know the best way to get over a lost love is with chocolate movies and your best friends… And at Hilton Sydney we help you do it in style.

The Break Up is the ultimate girls package. Designed to mend a broken heart, the Break Up package offers every indulgence from a 1kg tower of chocolate to a 24 hour movie package with popcorn and ice cream and the best reaffirming break up songs on demand. And if you really want to get over your ex, Bunda will provide a private consultation to have a jewellery keepsake melted down and redesigned.


The package includes:
- Accommodation in any room type (twin share)
- 24 hour movie package including popcorn and ice-cream
- Hilton’s custom designed 750g Chocolate Tower
- iPod preloaded with reaffirming music to fix any broken heart
- Consultation to have a piece of jewellery melted down and redesigned
- Aromatherapy oil burner of rejuvenating scents
- Breakfast in bed

From just $314 per night. For reservations call 02 9266 2000 or Book Now


Plus look out for our next package in the Love Me, Love Me Not series available in May 2010.

Visit Hilton Sydney

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spoil Mum with a Broome Escape Package...


Give Mum a well deserved break this Mother’s Day with the new Escape Package from Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa in Broome. A tropical oasis set amongst 26 acres of lush gardens, the Resort is a peaceful hideaway and the only resort in Broome that directly overlooks iconic Cable Beach. 

Enjoy 5 nights of luxury for the price of 4 at the iconic Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa, this April and May. Stay in a Garden View Studio room for 5 nights from only $664* per person, twin share including Broome airport transfers and you’ll enjoy the 5th night FREE.  Plus, pay to upgrade to a premium room and enjoy full buffet breakfast daily. *(Conditions Apply)

For the ultimate pampering check Mum in to the Resort’s Chahoya Spa - Broome’s little piece of heaven on Earth. Complete with seven private suites, double vichy shower room, hair salon, yoga deck and much more, Chahoya Spa provides a tranquil retreat where senses are unleashed and clarity restored

To exercise body and soul the Resort offers complimentary yoga and tai chi classes in the Buddha’s Sanctuary, under the gaze of a 3.5m quartz crystal Buddha. The Resort features two lagoon style pools, one for families and one a tranquil haven reserved solely for adults.……..

To make a booking visit www.cablebeachclub.com or call reservations on 1800 199 099.

Hamilton Island Yoga Retreat

Hamilton Island Yoga Retreat at Beach Club

Experience the magic of the Whitsundays this May with a wellness weekend getaway at Hamilton Island's luxurious Beach Club. 

Skye LifeStyle has partnered with the Great Barrier Reef's most iconic destination to present a yoga retreat from 7 - 9 May 2010. Principal instructor, Skye Baird, completed her Yoga Alliance Accreditation in Santa Monica, California and has trained in the latest Hatha yoga techniques. She has studied more than 60 asanas (postures) in Hatha yoga, along with meditation, philosophy, anatomy and sequencing designed to promote flexibility and vitality. 

Tailored for all levels, the weekend escape includes two-nights' accommodation and a la carte breakfast at the five-star Beach Club, in addition to a mix of six yoga and meditation classes at beautiful locations around the island. All of this from $600 per person (twin share). 

Benefits include:
  • a calmer mind
  • release of tension
  • boosted energy
  • increased flexibility
  • healthier sleeping patterns

Retreat details: Friday 7 to Sunday 9 May 2010

Time:  Arrival by 2.00pm on Friday, and departure at 10.00am on Sunday

Yoga class duration: Six mixed classes of hatha/power yoga and meditation,ranging from 1-1.5 hours.

Investment: From $600 per person for a 2-night twin share wellness getaway including all yoga sessions, 2-nights twin share accommodation at the 5-star Beach Club (cost for single room available on request) and a la carte breakfast daily. Flights not included.

Where: Hamilton Island Beach Club, Whitsundays. With its absolute beachfront location, impeccable service and exclusive guest facilities including a restaurant, lounge, bar and pool, the 5-star Beach Club offers an intimate holiday experience that is perfect for couples and singles alike. Set in landscaped gardens with divine views of the Coral Sea, all rooms face directly onto Catseye Beach, each with their own private balcony.

Places are limited so call Hamilton Island Reservations on 13 7333 to book your place or visit the Hamilton Island website for more information

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chiva-Som, Thailand



Chiva-Som is your “Haven of Life” on the Gulf of Thailand. Chiva-Som is about learning to live, enjoy and appreciate every moment, and in so doing, creating a personal path to health and wellness.

Located right on the beach and nestled within 2.8 hectares of lush gardens, Chiva-Som has the chilled vibe down pat. Blending east and West, it combines all the tropical charm you want from a visit to Thailand with modern state-of-the-art spas and the most knowledgeable health experts, who regularly fly around the world to lend their expertise to other spas.  

Philosophy & Health

On arrival you are offered a complimentary Health and Wellness consultation. This is designed around your goals and objectives, your current state of health and ability to achieve those goals. Your advisor will help you achieve the most out of your stay by devising a personal programme of treatments and services.

These will include diet, exercise, activity, rest and relaxation, physical ailments, emotional issues and your inner self.

We offer every guest a total lifestyle transformation to achieve wellness and longevity with a full range of health and wellness treatments.

The focus of our programmes is on balancing and rejuvenating the Mind, Body and Spirit. All Chiva-Som programmes are customised for your individual’s lifestyle improvement through the integration of naturopathic and conventional medicines.

Our staff of expert health professionals includes consulting doctors, naturopaths, fitness instructors, spa therapists, nutritionists and alternative health practitioners.

Visit Chiva-Som for full details

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

London



London remains one of the wold's greatest cities and is an extremely popular holiday destination. Below is some information about this fabulous city from Lonely Planet

London assumes the mantle of one of the world’s great cities with ease, crowning itself Napoleon-style by hosting its third Olympic games in 2012. It’s safe to say that London has not exuded so much confidence since the heady days of empire in the late 19th century, even despite the economic crisis that has seen the city’s status as the world’s pre-eminent financial centre take a wobble.
 
London has been called a ‘world in one city’ and that’s not just empty rhetoric. The brilliant feat carried off here is that while immigrants, the city’s life blood, continue to flow in and contribute their energy and cultures to the capital’s already spicy melting pot, London nevertheless feels quintessentially British, whether it’s those boxy black cabs, the red double deckers or those grand symbols of Britain – the mother of all parliaments at Westminster, the silhouette of Tower bridge above the muddy Thames or the already world-famous London Eye, barely a decade old.
 
Don’t miss these essential sights of course, but equally ensure you partake in what really makes London great: a pint and a plate of fish n’ chips by the river, a day in the park or a night out in Soho or Shoreditch. Take a deep breath and prepare to fall in love with the British capital..

Make it happen

 

Monday, March 22, 2010

San Francisco


http://www.unionstreetinn.com/images/sanfrancisco3.jpg

Rollercoaster streets, countless countercultures, salt-lick breeze… San Francisco has an atmosphere of genteel chic mixed with offbeat innovation and a self-effacing quality so blatantly missing from brassy New York and plastic LA. Its hilly streets provide some gorgeous glimpses of the sparkling bay and its famous bridges.

When to Go:
Pick a month of the year and there's always a festival or street party on somewhere in San Fran. Unless a bit of fog or a brisk morning perturbs you, you can't go too wrong visiting the city. The best months to come are either side of the summer peak season, with the Septem
ber to November period being particularly festive.

Climate:
San Francisco is a popular location any time of the year. Summer is the prime tourist season, but its summer weather is none too hospitable anyway: the bay is often foggy, while inland or north in the Wine Country it's often too hot and dusty for comfort. Local weather patterns are highly unpredictable, but generally the best months weather-wise are between mid-September and mid-November.

Transport:
Within the compact city centre, walking is a pleasurable way to get around, but there's a solid transport network backing you up when perambulation seems too pedestrian. San Francisco's principal public transport system is Muni (San Francisco Municipal Railway), which operates nearly 100 bus lines (many of them electric trolley buses), streetcars and the famous cable cars.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is a convenient, economical subway system linking San Francisco with the East Bay.

Ferries are a scenic way to get around.A car is more of a liability than an asset in downtown San Francisco: hills are steep and parking spots few. If you're considering a taxi, the best way is to phone. For most visitors, the thought of hopping a bicycle in the city is gruesome - there's too much traffic and the hills are fearsome - but the Bay Area is a great place for recreational biking.
underground rail

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is a convenient, economical subway system linking San Francisco with the East Bay.
 
FerriesFerries are back in business, plying the waters from Fisherman's Wharf and the Embarcadero Ferry Building to Alameda, Oakland, Sausalito, Tiburon and the bay islands.
 
Tram
Where else can you travel in a tourist attraction from one tourist highlight to another? As well as getting you around its three downtown routes, a ride in one of San Francisco's old-fashioned, open-air, seemingly dangerous cable cars can be exhilarating fun. The subterranean rumbling on Market St is an underground light-rail run by the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), that weaves its way through downtown San Francisco. Downtown, Muni stations are the same as BART stations.
 
Cable
Along with the Muni light-rail and cable cars, Muni buses will get you almost anywhere in the city. A Muni passport allows unlimited travel on all Muni transports and is available from Visitor Information Centres, hotels and from businesses that display the Muni pass sign in their window.

CarA car is the last thing you want in downtown San Francisco: negotiating the hills and trying to find a parking spot are going to stress both you and your machine. For travelling further afield though - up to the Wine Country for example - a car can be invaluable.
 
Taxi
Taxis are tough to secure in San Francisco; you may find phoning one easier than whistling or waving your hand on street corners, especially during peak hours, but even that's no guarantee.
AirportSan Francisco International Airport is located approximately 20 kilometres from the city centre.

Highlights: 
Celebrity chefs on every corner, and for every occasion.


San Francisco's culinary strengths are the diversity of its influences, which stretch from Europe to Asia, and its wealth of high-quality, moderately-priced choices as well as prestigious restaurants. Not content to just follow fashion, San Francisco has its own treasured culinary traditions.


More bars than Alcatraz. 
Hedonism must be built into the local DNA from the giddy days of gold fever: no doubt about it, San Franciscans like to get out. The city may be known for its restaurants, but its citizens spend even more of their time in bars, clubs and theatres.


Your interest is bound to be 'peaked' by all those hills.
The city's steepness makes for some wonderfully panoramic viewpoints. Spread out below you is an appetising mix of colourful neighbourhoods, bohemian history, mind-teasing art, innovative architecture and restorative parks. Go explore - by foot if you're particularly sprightly, by cable car if not.


Love to shop in the Haight for a one-in-a-million oddity.
San Francisco's shopping is best for small, quirky items. Sure, there are big department stores and an international selection of name-brand boutiques, but the oddities are a lot more fun. Check out Hayes Valley and the Haight for lateral-leaning goods.

Visit Qantas

Friday, March 19, 2010

Visiting Moscow, Russia



Russia is a country steeped in a long and rich cultural and political history. Moscow, and indeed all Russia, pivots around the Kremlin-a towering fortified complex that is the lifeline of the nation’s history, culture and politics. The cathedrals with their distinct onion-shaped domes are interesting examples of unique Russian architecture. Tourists can marvel at the dazzling collection of the Diamond Fund, consisting of precious jewellery, including one of the largest diamonds in the world. Enjoy a visit to the Armoury Museum, which was Moscow’s first museum and houses ancient Russian regalia which belonged to the Tsars. If you ever get the chance to visit Russia, you will have to set aside ample time to ensure that you get to visit Moscow's many museums and other attractions, including:
  • Bolshoi Theatre
  • Conservatory of Music ( Tchaikovsky )
  • Glass Cupola in Manege Square
  • Gorky Park on the Moskva River. (x metro & y metro)
  • GUM ( goom ) Department Store and shopping arcades.
  • Hotel Moskva
  • Iversky Gate
  • Karl Marx Monument
  • KGB HQ in Lubyanka Square
  • Kremlin Complex: Besides the museum, don't miss Diamond Fund in the same building. Those Tsars' jewelry are absolutely stunning.
  • Lenin Mausoleum
  • Manege Square
  • Mayakovskaya Metro Station These stations are a major attraction in their own right.
  • Olympic Site (1980 games)
  • Red Square
  • St Basil's Cathedral
  • Seven Gothic Sisters is made up of the White House (Bely Dom) ; Ukraina & Leningradskaya Hotels ;
  • State Duma ( Parliament )
  • State Historical Museum
  • State University (Moscow) on Sparrow Hill.
  • Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
  • Triumph Palace (Sokol Metro) A very large residential block of luxury? flats.
  • Tverskaya Street a major traffic street near the centre of Moscow.
  • Tzar's Bell
  • Yaroslav Station (Yaroslavsky Vokzal) This is the departure railway station for the famous Trans-Siberian Express train. It leaves most days of the week at 09:56.
  • Zoo 


Visit Trip Advisor for more information

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New York: It's a Brooklyn Thing


 Soldiers' & Sailors' Memorial Arch, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New YorkLooking back to Manhattan from Brooklyn, New York
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New YorkCog & Pearl, Brooklyn, New YorkFlatbush Farm, Brooklyn, New YorkFlatbush Farm, Brooklyn, New YorkAkwaaba Mansion, Brooklyn, New York

Cross that famous bridge from Manhattan to discover a brave new world, where funky neighbourhoods are filled with hip galleries and a happening vibe.

Actors Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard moved to a brownstone in Brooklyn with their baby daughter Ramona. Adrian Grenier from Entourage is doing an eco-renovation on his Clinton Hill property. Character actor Paul Giamatti programs the cinema selection at Brooklyn’s Rose Cinemas. The star of Waitress and the TV series Felicity, Keri Russell, picks her way through Fort Greene’s weekend market. Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly and husband Paul Bettany stroll through Prospect Park. In Brooklyn it seems there’s a celebrity on every corner.

New York magazine recently noted that since the finale of Sex And The City, the zeitgeist has shifted across the East River to Brooklyn. Downtown Brooklyn boasts $US3 billion ($3.3b) of construction projects in the pipeline, plus the controversial $US4 billion Atlantic Yards development with a Frank Gehry-designed stadium. And just built on Grand Army Plaza is a gleaming, glass-fronted, Richard Meier apartment building.

But it’s not just the shiny new towers that have charmed celebrities and newcomers. Unlike tourist trap Manhattan, Brooklyn feels real. The different neighbourhoods that make up Brooklyn are architecturally and culturally distinct, each with its own personality. Clinton Hill is the vibrant backdrop to Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Park Slope is the leafy,literary hub in The Squid And The Whale. And in the opening scenes of Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta struts his stuff on the streets of Bay Ridge.

The most obvious entry point is a walk across Brooklyn Bridge. The world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge affords postcard-perfect views across lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and, of course, Brooklyn. It’s a 30-minute walk and, be warned, there’s no shade. Once you cut across the tangle of freeways you can explore two very different neighbourhoods – DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights.

Squeezed between bridges is DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). The heart of the ’hood is the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park with a children’s playground and lawn that hosts free outdoor movies in summer. Once an industrial relic, DUMBO’s warehouses have been converted into artists’ studios and million-dollar lofts. Practically cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by motorways, DUMBO is a self-sufficient enclave with designer boutiques (visit Prague Kolektiv, 143b Front Street, for retro chrome furniture), a 24-hour gourmet supermarket, bars and restaurants.

On the southern side of the Brooklyn Bridge is Brooklyn Heights, an old-money neighbourhood of mansions and killer views. This is where the Huxtables supposedly lived on The Cosby Show. Bob Dylan wrote Tangled Up In Blue while living on Montague Street. WH Auden, Truman Capote and Arthur Miller have all called Brooklyn Heights home at some point. Norman Mailer’s wife Norris still does. The best way to take in Brooklyn Heights is to stroll the Promenade at dusk and then have a drink at the beer hall Floyd (131 Atlantic Avenue).

Trailing south below Brooklyn Heights is another acronym, BoCoCa. This one takes its name from the first two letters of Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. Jonathan Lethem’s National Book Award-winner Motherless Brooklyn is a good introduction to the area’s gritty past. Now, the parallel streets of Smith and Court are home to some of New York’s best restaurants. On Smith Street, check out The Grocery (288), Chestnut (271) and Saul (140). There’s some great shopping, too. Dear Fieldbinder (198 Smith Street) is a must for pretty frocks and fine jewellery.

But enough of cutesy shopping districts and tree-lined streets. Kick your Brooklyn tour up a notch with a visit to Grand Army Plaza, a grand entrance to Prospect Park adorned with bronze statues of Civil War generals and a bust of John F Kennedy. Across Eastern Parkway is Brooklyn’s Central Library, built in 1941. Next door is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 21ha of giddily perfect landscaping.

Nearby is Brooklyn Museum of Art, a vast 1897 beaux arts building with one of the largest art collections in the US and a water fountain that throws drops of water into the air in patterns (it’s cooler than it sounds). In 2007, the museum opened the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art. The centrepiece of the collection is Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party, a banquet set for 39 great women in history with another 999 women’s names engraved in the floor.

For a closer look at Brooklyn’s contemporary art scene, head to Williamsburg. Industrial in scope and young at heart, Williamsburg’s main thoroughfare is Bedford Avenue, where you’ll find hipsters leafing through the arty ephemera at Spoonbill & Sugartown bookshop (218 Bedford Avenue). There are galleries galore: see Pierogi (177 North Ninth Street) and Jack The Pelican Presents (487 Driggs Avenue).

There are so many other Brooklyn neighbourhoods to explore. Greenpoint to sample kielbasa (Polish sausage) and see local bands perform in the ballroom of the Polish National Home (261 Driggs Avenue). The sculpture garden at the Pratt Institute (200 Willoughby Avenue) in Clinton Hill. Cupcakes and confection at Joyce Bakeshop (646 Vanderbilt Avenue) in Prospect Heights. The push and shove of Bugaboo designer strollers on Seventh Avenue in Park Slope. And then there is the famous Coney Island.

At the end of the train line, Coney Island is a crass, tacky and yet somehow soulful Brooklyn destination. A century ago, New Yorkers fled tenement blocks for the beach. Today the esplanade is still crowded, but the water’s edge is littered with cigarette butts and plastic straws. On the boardwalk the city-owned Cyclone rollercoaster rattles thrillseekers on its wooden tracks. Every summer the anyone-can-enter Mermaid Parade takes over the streets. And on July 4, the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest grabs national headlines. Property developers are circling the faded beauty of Coney Island’s waterfront. But for now, it’s still possible to enjoy a Brooklyn pizza on the footpath and watch the crowd go by.

Stay

Akwaaba Mansion347 MacDonough Street.
Bed & Breakfast on the Park
113 Prospect Park West.

Hotel le Bleu
370 Fourth Avenue.

Shop

Cog & Pearl
190 5th Avenue.
+1 718 623 8200.

The Future Perfect
115 North 6th Street.
+1 718 599 6278.

Jumelle
148 Bedford Avenue.
+1 718 388 9525.

Stuart & Wright
85 Lafayette Avenue.
+1 718 797 0011.

Eat & Drink

Flatbush Farm76 Saint Marks Avenue.
+1 718 622 3276.

Locanda Vini & Olii
129 Gates Avenue.
+1 718 622 9202.

Mamalu
232 North 12th Street.
+1 718 486 6312.

Sea
114 North 6th Street.
+1 718 384 8850.

Local Brews

Brooklyn Brewery
79 North 11th Street.
+1 718 486 7422.

Brownstone Beans
+1 646 312 9330.

Bars

Larry Lawrence
295 Grand Street.
+1 718 218 7866.

Moe’s
80 Lafayette Avenue.
+1 718 797 9536.

Union Hall
702 Union Street.
+1 718 638 4400.

See & Do

Brooklyn Museum of Art
200 Eastern Parkway.
+1 718 638 5000.

New York Transit Museum
Boerum Place & Schermerhorn Street.
+1 718 694 1600.

Prospect Park

Source: Qantas The Australian Way December 2007
Updated: July 2008


Visit Qantas Travel Insider

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills - Mid-century spirit in a modern light



Looking for a boutique hotspot in Beverly Hills? Well, look no further as we have found a hotel with the ultimate blend of style, sophistication and class… The Avalon Hotel exudes an aura of Italian style, with ornate architecture and an incredible sense of indoor/outdoor living…

A Refined, Unique Beverly Hills Experience 
Distinguished by its novel physical space, this sophisticated hideaway of Avalon Beverly Hills CA Hotel is set around a dramatic pool terrace with private cabanas and the recently launched Oliverio restaurant (formerly blue on blue)- all just steps from shopping at the finest boutiques, galleries and restaurants nearby.

Avalon Beverly Hills offers luxurious amenities, stylish accommodations, and creative meeting and event space in the heart of Beverly Hills.
 
Inventive Beverly Hills Accommodations at the Avalon  
Inspired by the relaxed "patio lifestyle" of mid-20th Century Southern California, Avalon's 84 Beverly Hills hotel rooms, suites and penthouse studios offer guests comfort and style in the heart of Beverly Hills.
 
Custom-designed and classic furnishings include pieces by such notable designers as George Nelson, Isamu Noguchi, and Charles Eames. Pampering Beverly Hills accommodations include custom-designed furnishings and beds with sumptuous Italian designer lines, Neil George amenities and in-room spa treatments for upscale Beverly Hills lodging.

Business travelers will discover everything they need to make Avalon their office in LA. From high-speed Internet access, personal voice mail and 24-hour room service to comfortable work desks, our fully equipped guestrooms let you take your business on the road without missing a beat.

Outdoor dining in Beverly Hills
Oliverio restaurant (formerly blue on blue) in Beverly Hills features modern Italian cuisine in a relaxed California patio atmosphere created with poolside stone veneer tables and modernist chairs, private cabanas set with Cippolino blue-green marble, custom Italian ceramic columns and geometric wall graphics, all encased within bamboo trees and floor to ceiling glass windows for chic Beverly Hills dining.

By day, Oliverio provides a unique, relaxed environment for fine dining in Beverly Hills. Cushioned lounge chairs surround a 1950's pool where hotel guests can unwind in the California sunshine. Tables set inside cabanas are ideal for breakfast and lunch, where guests and neighborhood professionals gather to enjoy cocktails or discuss business. The sparkling blue water of the pool, combined with the rich blue décor of the West Los Angeles restaurant, creates an oasis in the middle of the bustling city of Beverly Hills.

When the sun goes down, Oliverio becomes a distinct destination for enjoying fine cuisine, drinks and intimate gatherings. Inside, the restaurant and bar offers guests a serene lounge atmosphere with plush couches, custom marble tables and vintage chairs. Under the stars, Oliverio's cabanas and candlelit tables create a dramatic setting around the pool with an eclectic mix of music created specifically for the peaceful setting. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Luxe City Guides



Berlin is fast becoming the new celeb fave - Leo DiCaprio and Bar Refaeli just hung out there. Find out the places to play, stay and eat in this compact guide.

Come to see the Wall? Well, you’re about twenty years too late, mein Liebling. Marlene may have liked to see what the boys in the backroom would have, but those frosty, austere days of yore are no more. Berlin has blossomed into a springtime of spot-on trend and feisty design; the epitome of cool, laid back charm from east to west and back again. With her underground vibe, perpetual nightlife, edgy, inimitable style and creativity, she’s luring artists, tastemakers and the culture curious from the world over.

Fancy exclusive access inside some of the city’s architectural marvels normally closed to the public? Ja? What would you say to bespoke, artisanal porcelain, jewellery, wallpaper, hats and perfume made to order? Mmm, ja ja! How about stashes of rare, collectible furniture by the most eminent names in C.20th design and an entrée into the scorching art scene making Berlin the epicentre of cool? Fabelhaft! Well, consider it done. Don’t get bitte, get shopping.

LUXE Berlin. Lean, mean und on das scene.

City Guide - $14.99. Visit Luxe

Monday, March 15, 2010

World's best restaurant a surreal experience

The BD Team found this fabulous article on smh.com.au, so read on and discover more about the world's best restaurant…

The unique exterior of Teatre-Museu Dali, Figueres.  
The unique exterior of Teatre-Museu Dali, Figueres. Photo: Martin Moos/Lonely Planet

Nothing is quite as it seems as Helen O'Neill enters the upside-down realm of Dali and the world's best restaurant.

My brush with surrealism began long before I left Australia for Europe. It started late one night in Sydney, with the arrival of an email carrying unexpected news.

I had won the gourmet equivalent of Powerball. Against the odds (with an estimated 2 million people applying for about 8000 places), I had secured a table for two at El Bulli, the semi-legendary Spanish eatery voted best restaurant in the world five times.

Once the dust settled, the planning began. El Bulli's chef, Ferran Adria, a man renowned for extreme cuisine, is dubbed the Salvador Dali of the food world. His restaurant seems eccentrically remote from major cities, yet in terms of artistic inspiration its placement on Spain's north-east Catalan coast is spot on.

When it comes to surrealism – that fantastical, Dali-led, early 20th-century movement aimed at unleashing the mechanics of the subconscious mind – this is the real deal. Dali was born, worked and died in this region. "Other worlds exist ... inside ours," he once said. "They reside in the earth." And nowhere are they closer than here.

But how to reach them? By sleeper train, from Paris, we decide. There is there something irresistibly appealing about literally dreaming one's way into the landscape of Dali. Plus, the Paris-to-Barcelona "Train Hotel" is named after Joan Miro, another surrealist maestro. Perfect.

Our journey begins at Gare d'Austerlitz, a Parisian station named after a Czech town (it's Napoleon's fault), and as we step into the grandiose stone, steel and glass structure a sense of vive le traveller resonates about us. Until, that is, we try to get on our train.

About 25 million people use this station every year, so you'd think they would be used to this sort of thing. Yet boarding the Joan Miro involves the kind of scramble generally reserved for Boxing Day sales. The "system", if you can call it that, goes like this: everybody waits, the train is called and then everybody rushes on at once.

Fighting through the crowds, we squeeze down Joan's long, shadowed corridor and dive into our roomette's comfy armchairs. Before we have time to ask, "How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?" (Answer: "Fish."), we're saying yes to dinner now (at 8.30pm) rather than at 11pm and being shuffled straight back down the corridor to the dining car.

We sit down, sip our welcome drinks and feel the train pull away. Dinner begins. The food is good, the service speedy and by the time we're done our roomette's armchairs have apparently dissolved and reformed themselves into beds with tiny train chocolates nestling on the pillows. As we tuck ourselves in, our bedroom speeds south, floating over the French-Spanish border around daybreak. Twenty kilometres later it pauses at Figueres, where Dali was born in 1904.

Waking up on trains is always rather disorientating, particularly when breakfast features a waiter singing, "Yes! We are in Spain!" at the top of his voice. Other than that, and the eggy concoction placed in front of us, things don't seem too bizarre. Yet.

When Girona appears, we jump off, negotiate a hire car and drive towards Roses, the nearest town to El Bulli, on a road that slices through fields of huge sunflowers. Their listless, yellow heads all face our destination. Now that is weird. Or is it? No. We are driving towards the sun.
At Roses, we take a break at a cafe offering shade from the already blazing heat. The waiter, used to Spanish, French and English speakers, takes one look at us and instantly decides which language to use. "Beer?" he asks, flatly. I check my watch. It is 10am.

They say Roses was once a sleepy fishing community. You wouldn't know it now. This is the Costa Brava, the once dreamy coastline gutted and redeveloped during the Brit-led tourism explosion of the 1980s and, at first glance, Roses seems to fit right in.

It has beachfront high-rises, shops selling sombreros and burger bars with signs saying "Bien venidos a Wimpy". But it also has surprises, such as a huge archaeological park called the Citadel. Here, for €3 ($1.83), you can roam through the ruined remnants of blood-soaked civilisations dating back to 776BC. And then, because the Citadel offers free Wi-Fi, you can check your email.

We trek through the dusty backstreets of Roses to our hotel. It was the cheapest I could find – well, we are about to blow €230 each at El Bulli. Our room is the cheapest this cheap hotel has to offer; beyond the reach of both the lift (which stops on the level below) and air-conditioning.

By now it's really hot so we leave, driving out of town along narrow, mountain roads that wind through olive groves and rocky bluffs. The route is punctuated by ultra-fit, lycra-clad cyclists.

In the blink of an eye we're at Cadaques, the seaside settlement where Dali supposedly discovered "modern painting" in 1916 after seeing the locals catch fish using wooden rods and dotted lines. Believe that and you'll also believe that back then you needed an artistic licence to fish here, which is why it also attracted the likes of Picasso, Duchamp and Miro.

Today, the first thing that hits you about Cadaques is its commercialism. This steep, historic fishing town escaped the developers' bulldozers but its higgledy-piggledy laneways and white-walled, terracotta-roofed homes are dripping with Dali memorabilia. There are more melting clocks for sale here than you could throw a stilt-walking giraffe at.

Yet beyond the souvenirs (and the suspicion that a real surrealist gift shop would have no door) lies mystique, beauty and an ever-present sense of the danger of the sea.
Cadaques' church overlooks the roaring waves from high above. From the outside, it looks like just another picture-perfect Mediterranean house of worship but inside lies a huge, spectacularly eccentric, 17th-century baroque altarpiece; a nightmarishly excessive mishmash of saints, symbols and disembodied cherubic heads.

Apparently fishermen used to tie live lobsters between the carved angels, perhaps to claw back some good favour with the ocean. Today's church is sadly crustacean-free, so we scuttle back off to Roses, find some tapas and put ourselves to bed. Tomorrow is El Bulli.
Early next morning we drive to the edge of this surreal world, the furthermost point of the Cap de Creus National Park. This stunning peninsula is seriously weird. Walking here, in summer at least, is like entering a Dali painting.

More bone-scape than landscape, the lunar terrain is dust-dry, heavily eroded and almost treeless. Its cliffs are bleached and its perspectives warped. You can almost see the artist's gargantuan rock figures emerging seamlessly from it.

Legend states this place was created by Hercules. Good sense suggests the best way to see it is to get up early and have breakfast at one of the cliff-edge tables at the cafe perched at its peak.
Wear sturdy shoes to deal with the uneven walking tracks and pick up a map from the visitors' centre. Even so, assume you will get lost – the maps here make about as much sense as Dali's politics.

Spending a morning at Cap de Creus frees you to take an afternoon tour of the home Dali shared with his wife, Gala, in the nearby village of Port Lligat. Stepping into this labyrinth – all twisting tunnels, warped windows and staircases which seemingly lead nowhere – feels like walking into an Escher. Built from several fishermen's shacks, it is a sensory supernova, with gigantic white concrete eggs on the roof, stuffed white swans in the library, white Michelin men beside the pool and an oval lounge room (white, of course) designed so whispers can travel along the walls.

Dali left this convoluted construction for the last time in 1982 after the death of his wife. We leave to head back to Roses, get ready for dinner, and drive 12 kilometres along yet another of these steep country roads.

It is finally time for El Bulli.

The moment we arrive, we're ushered into Adria's stainless-steel kitchen to see his team of chefs at work. One is leaning over a dry-ice machine with what looks like a yellow balloon in his hands. He bursts the rubber and an ostrich-egg sized version of Dali's roof sculptures appears suddenly.

Turning it quickly in the smoky liquid nitrogen, he sprinkles dust across his egg's shell-like surface. Coincidence? In this landscape, there is probably no such thing.
The curious thing about El Bulli – perhaps the world's most surreal restaurant – is that it feels like a perfectly natural extension of this beautiful part of the world.

It overlooks a quiet, secluded beach and initially it appears conventional enough. The decor is comfortably chintzy, with wood-panelled detail and the odd understated chandelier. There are pictures of the bulldog the eatery is named after and a smattering of other, relatively conservative artworks on the walls.

But then there is the food.

Our evening begins with "cocktails" (mojitos and caprianas compressed into short stubs of sugar cane) and "nibbles" (objects looking like olives and peanuts that burst in the mouth releasing pure concentrates of their namesake's flavours).

In the 32 dishes that follow, Adria does gastronomically what Dali did visually, combining unexpected natural treasures (rose petals, pine leaves and dew) with more predictable elements; from the high end (think abalone, scampi and oyster) to the humble (cockles and pig's tail).

The Dali egg turns out to be a frozen coconut dessert, which our waiter breaks open, sprinkles with curry powder and tells us to eat fast, lest it melt between hand and mouth.
The moment, like the rest of this remarkable meal, is a confronting melange of science, theatre and sensory overload. It is wonderful but unexpectedly exhausting.

The following morning we drive 20 kilometres to the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres, the self-described "largest surrealist object in the world". Dali designed this to be the epicentre of his hallucinatory world and it is considered his greatest achievement.

There are about 1500 artworks here, including holograms, sculptures, a Michelangelo-style ceiling painting of Dali and Gala and installations occupying entire rooms. Giant Dali eggs sit on the roof, a Cadillac with what looks like a rainforest growing inside it is parked in the middle and a frozen audience of huge, golden dolls watch the visitors.

This hyper-theatrical dreamland flows from the beginnings of his art to the end of his life. Literally. He is buried in the crypt beneath – experiencing his work means walking on his grave.

We exit stage left to head home. On our flight, the trolley dollies try to flog us whisky in plastic sachets and flight-friendly "cigarettes" requiring sucking, not lighting. The in-flight magazine offers cameras to strap on our pets so we can film what they're up to when we leave the house.

Have we cracked, or has surrealism been superseded by consumerism and that is what's gone crazy? Either way, you can almost hear Salvador Dali laughing.

Helen O'Neill travelled from Paris to Girona courtesy of Rail Europe.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Red Centre

Alice Springs
Uluru/Ayers Rock

For a unique holiday that doesn't require heading overseas, you should consider a Qantas holiday to Australia's Red Centre.

The ruggedly beautiful Red Centre is home to Australia's most famous natural icon, Uluru/Ayers Rock and is full of exceptional natural and cultural significance and spirituality. There is so much to see in the Red Centre including Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnell Ranges and Alice Springs. 

Where to stay
Choose from a fantastic selection of hotels across Alice Springs and Uluru/Ayers Rock with great rates and no booking fees. Plus Qantas Frequent Flyers can earn 3 points per A$1 spent on partner hotels in Australia when booking at qantas.com.#
The Red Centre is the perfect self-drive destination with some great off-road 4-wheel drive roads. Get guaranteed low rates across four of Australia's leading car providers with our Cars Price Promise, plus Qantas Frequent Flyers can earn 3 points per A$1 spent on time and kilometre charges within Australia.~

Things to do

There are plenty of things to do and see in and around Uluru/Ayers Rock including the famous Sounds of Silence dinner, Kings Canyon tour, Helicopter ride over Uluru/Ayers Rock and the Olgas and more. Book before you go so you don't miss out!
QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited offers a range of travel insurance policies to suit different requirements, plus Qantas Frequent Flyers can earn 1 point per A$1 spent on insurance policies.**

Travel advice

Visit Travel Insider for expert travel advice from those in the know: