Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Explore Bermuda



Bermuda’s quiet pink-sand beaches, abundant palm trees, and pastel-colored houses make this scenic and serene island an ideal place for couples. Standard activities to pursue include swimming, snorkeling, playing golf, boating, and tennis. Below, Cynthia Blair for About.com discovers more activities that make it worthwhile to brush the sand off your feet, slip on a pair of flip-flops, and explore Bermuda.


Bermuda’s largest town features candy-colored buildings facing a scenic harbor. The charming architecture and setting invite a stroll. In addition to being the place to take a horse and buggy ride, sip the island’s signature drink, the Dark ‘n Stormy, and enjoy spectacular views of the harbor, Hamilton is also the island’s center for shopping activities. Here you can stock up on Bermuda shorts if you so desire. Front Street is home to the department stores A.S. Cooper & Sons, Gibbons Co., and an outpost of the British chain Marks & Spencer. Hamilton restaurants include British, Caribbean, Indian, and Chinese eateries. On Wednesday nights during the summer, the Harbour Nights festival features local arts and crafts, dancers, and street food.




The clear, turquoise waters surrounding Bermuda are irresistible, and there’s no better way for a couple to enjoy them than on off-coast activities. Fantasea Bermuda, the island’s largest water sports company, offers catamaran cruises; glass bottom boat tours, including one of Bermuda’s famous shipwrecks; kayak tours; and expeditions for snorkeling, scuba diving, and Snuba, a cross between the two that enables snorkelers to breathe underwater.


Visit About.com to read the full article by Cynthia Blair.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Discover the Romance of France




Vive l'amour! Discover the romance of France, with Susan Breslow Sardone for About.com

The world's most romantic country, France has welcomed lovers for centuries. Whether you're planning a wedding, vow renewals, your honeymoon, or just a madcap weekend, France offers everything you need to indulge your passions:

Elegant Accommodations. There are about 20,000 hotels, inns, and motels in France, government-rated according to five comfort levels indicated by stars that range from one (budget) to five (deluxe). In a modern luxury hotel or a château that's adorned with precious antiques and a four-poster bed, expect to be enchanted. Many properties in France offer romance packages.

Depending on the package, perks may include a Champagne breakfast in bed, matching bathrobes, complimentary bouquets of flowers, petits fours, limousine rides, and more. So when you call for reservations, ask if a special package is available.

More affordable choices include chambres d'hôte(bed-and-breakfasts), gites (country cottages and farmhouses for rent), and private châteaux with guest rooms.

Superb Dining. Gourmets rate French cuisine as the world's finest. Even the simplest fare - bread, cheese, wine - is elevated to an art. On a picnic in one of her many parks, a visit to a winery, a quick stop at a street-corner bistro for cafés-au-lait and croissants, a candlelight dinner in an ancient château, or a meal in a Michelin-starred restaurant, you'll be impressed by the care the French bring to satisfying your appetite.




Scenic Countryside. From the snow-capped Alps to the sun-drenched beaches of the Riviera to the lush fields and gardens that Monet, Van Gogh, and other great painters immortalized, France is a feast for the eyes.

France boasts 20,000 hotels... 3,900 museums... 1,500 chateaux open to the public... 39,000 historic monuments... how long did you say you have to visit? 


Visit About.com to read the full article by Susan Breslow Sardone.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort



Searching for a romantic European getaway for your honeymoon?
About.com has found the perfect Italian hide-away - Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort...


Built along foothills in southern Tuscany, Terme di Saturnia’s centerpiece is an outdoor sulphuric thermal water pool that bubbles 24 hours a day from a nearby ancient Roman spring. Days can be spent poolside with frequent dips in the 98.6 F healing waters, or at the resort’s spa and Roman baths with a steam room and sauna. At dusk, a stroll along the Tuscan hillside, or around the resort’s newly renovated 18-hole golf course, precede a romantic dinner under a full moon that rises over the hilly countryside.


Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort has 140 guest rooms, including 74 suites and two newer grand suites. Accommodations are located either in the original stone building (reminiscent of a farmhouse) or in more recently constructed sections. Most rooms overlook the thermal waters and foothills, and all come with modern touches such as satellite TVs and Internet hook-ups. Décor is soothing and nature-based with hardwood floors, natural lighting and, of course, fine Italian linens. Suites are more spacious with living rooms, dining space, and marble bathrooms with a separate bath tub and shower.


Because the resort’s sulphuric waters have a soporific effect, the most “activity” you might do is throw on your bathing suit and robe, have breakfast, take a dip in the pool, nap, take another dip, and nap some more. If you do feel the urge to get your heart rate up, you can golf 18 holes at the resort’s new course, or break a sweat taking an aerobic class. Couples can also request massages in a private room with music and candles. Eating is an “activity” in Italy, so feel no guilt taking three hours for dinner served by bowtie-wearing Italian waiters whose descriptions make any dish sound gourmet.

Read the full article at About.com or visit www.termedisaturnia.it/en

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sheraton on the Park Chef Profile



Sheraton on the Park is pleased to announce the appointment of Karl Beil to the position of Executive Pastry Chef. With years of international experience, Karl joins Executive Chef Ewald Jeske in the provision of a world of flavour to each of the hotels dining outlets.

Leading a team of eight talented pastry chefs, Karl is responsible for overseeing the culinary delights of Botanica Brasserie (renowned for its award winning sumptuous seafood and seasonal buffet), The recently refurbished Conservatory Bar and Terrace (where guests enjoy their favourite cocktail overlooking majestic views of Hyde Park) and the recently unveiled Gallery Tea Lounge (where Sydney has been meeting to revel in chic surroundings whilst enjoying impressive tea stands for years).

Raised in Austria, Karl began his career as a Demi Chef Patisseier at Hotel Sacher before going on to complete his Master of Confectioner’s in 1987. Gaining his experience in a variety of exciting locales, Karl’s rich tapestry of European and International culinary experience has been developed from spending time in Vienna, Singapore, Austria, Munich, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney.

Having already introduced a new range of tantalising desserts to Sheraton on the Park guests, Karl is looking forward to bringing this wealth of knowledge to his new role: “I love a challenge and always aim to extend international boundaries when it comes to delivering a mouth watering dessert.” Karl said. “I recommend you try my Bitter Sweet Chocolate and Baileys Parfait with Melted Raspberries the next time you visit the hotel. They run off the buffet!”

Having cemented his status as a world class chef, Karl has appeared in Women’s Weekly (showcasing his wedding cake creations), on two seasons of Channel Nine program Fresh along side Geoff Janz (and later Pete Evans) and has even provided a meal fit for a President, having served for George W Bush at the APEC Gala Lunch in 2007.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ski Resorts of the World




With ski season well and truly upon us, Rachael Oakes-Ash for The Age Travel Blog takes a look at skiing options around the world...

The mission, should you choose to accept it, is to ski for under a $100 a day, meals and accommodation included. Okay, that may mean bunking with friends in top-to-toe formation but it can be done.

The obvious place to start is the clubfields of New Zealand. Where else in the world can you bed down for five nights, ski for six days and have breakfast, lunch and dinner all included for NZ$610? Yes, Temple Basin. You'll find similar deals at Cheeseman, Craigieburn, Broken River and Mt Olympus. The Licence to Chill Pass offers super deals for 12 clubfields. When travelling the clubfields expect bunk beds and mayhem and leave your lipstick at home, this is a no-frills zone.

It would be unAustralian of me not to mention Japan. The obvious choice is Niseko otherwise known as Nis Vegas, Perisher with Sushi or Bali on the snow for the abundance of ocker accents each January. Lift prices in Japan have risen from the heady days of AU$40 lift prices but that's more to do with the exchange rate than inflated pricing.

Club Med in Sahoro in the centre of the northern island of Hokkaido still offers an all-inclusive family experience with all meals, all snacks, wine, beer, soft drinks, nightly entertainment, kids clubs, lift passes, lift lessons and more. If you can cope with the French version of a stationary Love Boat and are prepared to leave all inhibitions at the door then you won't find better value.

Those in the know have already headed to Hakuba in the Nagano district and beyond on the main island of Honshu. Various Australian companies such as Liquid Adventures have set up super cheap accommodation to match the lift passes.



To read Rachael's rundown on North American and European skiing visit The Age Travel Blog

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Whale Watching at Fraser Island




There are so many exotic and exciting locations to consider when choosing your honeymoon - and many stunning destinations are right on our doorstep! Fraser Island is one such destination...

You can experience the natural beauty and tranquillity of Fraser Island while staying in world-class comfort at Kingfisher Bay Resort. Relax, indulge and have fun in this award-winning resort or explore the world's largest sand island. Swim in crystal-clear lakes or follow pristine streams through ancient rainforests. Drive along spectacular Seventy-Five Mile Beach to see coloured sands and a shipwreck. Take a cruise to see humpback whales or search for dolphins and dugong. Go sailing or fishing or pamper yourself with a relaxing massage or a cocktail by the pool.



Escape Travel is currently offering 2 nights from $389 with the following inclusions

• 2 nights in a Kingfisher Bay Resort Hotel Room.
• Return coach transfers from Hervey Bay Airport.
• Return catamaran transfers from River Heads.
• Buffet breakfast daily.
• Half day Whale Watching Cruise including National Park fees and morning tea.
Visit Escape Travel for more information or to book.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Exciting New Phase of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa Revealed




Here in The Bride's Diary office we are buzzing with excitement! The Maldives have always been a luxurious honeymoon choice, and now that is more true than ever before with the new phase of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa revealed.

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon have completed their highly anticipated re-launce, with the addition of 20 new Ocean Villas, located on the eastern side of the idyllic island paradise. 


The 20 new Ocean Villas, designed by P49 from Thailand, round off the resort's inventory for a total of 176 rooms. Their private, contemporary design is highlighted by uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean, spacious outdoor living space, including plunge pool and a large garden seating area. Interiors include the Sheraton Sweet Sleep bed, a large bathroom with stand-alone tub, walk-in closet and more!

An all-inclusive package, "Ocean Plus" is available as an introductory offer for the Ocean Villas,  for travel between 1st October 2010 and 23rd December 2010.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Da Vinci Secrets - Final Days




The Da Vinci Secrets exhibition at the Sydney Town Hall is due to finish on 2nd August. On loan from the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Italy, this is your last chance to experience this acclaimed exhibition before it leaves Australia.

Bringing to life inventions, visions and brilliant revelations from the mind and the manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci. Showcasing over 90 exhibits that include interactive machines, life like anatomical models and body parts, amazing reproductions of his most famous artworks including a full size reconstruction, work-in-progress, of The Last Supper.

• Open daily from 10am to 6pm at the Sydney Town Hall, Druitt Street entrance.

• Must end 2 August 2010
• Tickets on sale at the door

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Perfect Buck's Weekend




Emma Kate Dobkin discovers Tasmania's Luxury Mancations for News.com.au - to us it sounds like the perfect Buck's weekend!

"We won't be fishing today, because it's too cold and you won't like it," I'm told by Greg Peacock, owner of the Priory Country Lodge, as I step off the freezing pavement outside Hobart Airport and into his Audi.

"But you will be going on a whisky tasting and playing some golf after lunch. Which the blokes tend to like doing this time of year, anyway."

As editor of a men's lifestyle website, Australian men enjoying mancations full of whisky and golf, isn't an amazing revelation. Yet driving up to the Tudor Mansion built in 1847 on a hill in Bothwell, I realise the venues in which they enjoy these things are.

"It underwent a massive renovation in 2009," Greg explains.




As I walk through the stained-glass front door of The Priory - to my left is a room with a large blue Persian rug, bookcase and antique cigar holder. To my right is another room boasting crackling fire and ample sofas. Every inch of the four bedroom house is warm, sophisticated and charming.

"Normally we have groups of guys come here and they will book it out - so they can really enjoy the surrounds, be up for breakfast, head off fishing, or I organise a package and they play some golf, do a whisky tour and then head back for evening wines by the fire."

As a host, Peacock is down-to-earth, self-deprecating and stylish - the type of bloke guys would want to have a beer with. Even though the wine cellar with local vintages is too good to pass up.

Upstairs, my room is fitted with a gorgeous bed with good linen. But god is in the details - heated floor tiles and full shower heads. I take a shower while looking out a stained-blue square in the window onto the paddock below, where Priory dog Hugo bounds like a kangaroo on speed at a couple of men arriving home for lunch.

When I return to the main room, a woman is sitting in front of the fire, reading the paper.

"I'm off to play golf," says her Husband. She nods enthusiastically in response. She has bigger fish to fry, such as eating one of the home-made muffins with a glass of the local pinot. I'm envious. I want to push her off the couch and steal her muffin. But I'm off to play golf with the guys. It wouldn't be professional.

What it lacks in challenge, Ratho makes up for history - it's the oldest golf course in Australia and owner Greg Ramsey, is so passionate about it that I find myself having a ball. After a few hits (you can play 9 or 18) it's time to get into the spirit of things at Nant Distillery.

"The Nant Distillery produces single malt whisky made from 100 per cent Tasmanian barley and highland water." offers manager John Rushort. They host tours, whisky dinners and tastings.

The following day, I'm dropped into the Islington, the Priory's sister Hotel in Hobart. It's just five minutes from the city centre. This hotel is beyond luxurious. It has an original Picasso.


As I fall onto my handcrafted bed overlooking the mountain, I understand the meaning of the saying "The incredible lightness of being... (a modern man)". Later I sit in front of the fire, in The hotel's conservatory pavilion which extends onto a marble paved terrace and Andrew Pfeiffer-designed acre of garden with spectacular views of Mount Wellington.

After a weekend sampling what Tasmania has to offer guys, all I can say is: "If this is a man's world... then honey, I'm home!"
Visit News.com.au

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stayz Give & Getaway




Australia’s Biggest Holiday Charity Auction - Stayz Give & Getaway gives you the chance to feel even better about your next holiday by donating the cost of accommodation to charity.

Thanks to the generosity of Stayz property owners, over 275 getaways will be available to bid on with 100% of auction proceeds going towards some of Australia’s most worthy causes. The 2010 Stayz Give & Getaway charity partners are RSPCA, Surf Life Saving Foundation, CanTeen and Breast Cancer Network Australia.


If you are a successful bidder, simply nominate which charity partner you would like to support, and the payment of your accommodation will be sent to your nominated charity on your behalf.

The auction will run from Tuesday 15 June through to 10 August 2010. Each day new properties will become available to bid on and others will close.

So get on board, get bidding and nominate which of the charity partners you’d like to support. Then, all you have to do is start feeling good about your next getaway!

Successful bidders will have 12 months to redeem their rental. Booking is subject to some conditions. 


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Train to Machu Picchu Reopens



The train to Machu Picchu finally reopens in full, reports The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller.


Rail service to Peru's main tourist attraction Machu Picchu, one of the world's most prized heritage sites, reopened in full last week after months of repairs since heavy rains cut off the site early this year.


Train operators said normal service had resumed on Thursday for the entire rail line from the regional capital Cusco to the ancient Inca citadel.


The route had been partially reopened in late April, combined with bus service for some of the way, after the railway was damaged in hundreds of places by flooding and landslides prompted by rains that hit the country in late January.


The railway is the only access for many tourists, but hikers can trek for four days over high-elevation Inca trails to reach the remote site.


In June, further disruption hit the region with strikes in the southeastern part of the country that closed railway access for 48 hours.


The 15th-century city perched some 2500 metres above sea level is the most visited site in South America, a pillar of the Cusco region and the source of 90 per cent of Peru's tourist revenues, according to the country's finance ministry.


In January, thousands of stranded foreign tourists were evacuated from the small village of Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu, threatened by rising waters from the Vilcanota river.


The Tourism Observatory had warned that Peru stood to lose up to 0.64 percent of GDP if tourism declined, with particularly serious repercussions for Cusco, where some 175,000 people make a living in the industry.


On average, more than 2000 tourists from all over the world visit Machu Picchu every day, tourism ministry officials said.

Monday, July 5, 2010

How To Avoid Travel Mistakes




For a pursuit with such a faithful and passionate following, travel can sometimes be a cruel master, writes Anthony Dennis for News.com.au, as he shares his top tips for avoiding travel mistakes...

One mistake, one lapse in concentration, one act of carelessness, one poor decision can destroy a holiday and all of its memories. But many mistakes can be avoided by adequate preparation and research before you take off.

Penny Spencer, managing director of Spencer Travel, nominates "DIY travel" - where travel is booked online - as one of the most common areas where travellers come unstuck.

"One of my clients booked a flight online in 2010 when he wanted to travel in 2009," Spencer says. "So, on turning up to the airport, he found he was at check-in a year before he had booked and the flight was full."

Airlines, too, report tales of couples turning up at airports for their honeymoon trip only to discover that they'd entered the wrong date or even the wrong destination when they'd booked the flights online. Although more and more of us do book online, credible travel agents remain a more reliable method of arranging a trip, especially if you're not a regular traveller and are unused to booking a large amount of travel online.

Remember, too, that not every site is genuine. Spencer recalls one client who arrived at a New York apartment for which he'd booked and pre-paid online. But the owner had no record of the transaction. It was a fake site - his money never reached the owner.

Duncan Beauchamp, brand manager of Mayfair International, a major distributor of travel luggage, says the main mistake travellers make is buying cases that are simply too big.

"The perfect size for a suitcase is between 65cm and 68cm, which will take about 20kg - the weight limit set by most airlines," Beauchamp says.

But, if you want to bring some goodies back, don't use up all of that 20kg, he warns. He also recommends identifying your luggage with distinctive tags that you'll easily recognise on the carousel.

Australian company myBagTag has labels featuring colourful designs. Swiss brand Victorinox sells a "Tracking ID Tag" that allows the owner to register their contact details for a "lifetime lost bag retrieval service".

A traveller never quite realises the value of a passport until one is lost. Australians lose up to 36,000 of them each year, say the Department of Foreign Affairs.

It can be hard enough to replace a passport, but you will also need to renew any visa stamps. While Australian diplomatic missions can quickly provide a temporary replacement, the country that issued your visa may not be as efficient. And many countries will not allow entry if a passport has less than six months' validity. Some, such as China, require two clear pages. So be sure of any visa requirements before your trip and allow enough time to arrange them.

Robert Fletcher, director of the Canberra-based Active Travel, recounts how one client turned up for a trip to Vietnam without the mandatory visa. She had flown from Perth to Sydney for the flight and could not board the plane to Vietnam.

"I said to her: ‘Well, you will have to stay two days for the next flight but you may be able to get this cost back on your travel insurance.'

"She said: ‘Oh, I don't have that.' "To which I responded: ‘Well, that's two mistakes and you haven't left the airport yet.' "

Heading overseas without travel insurance is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. As the Department of Foreign Affairs puts it: If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. Australians have no legal entitlement to financial assistance from the Federal Government.

The Insurance Council of Australia says that it's important not to underinsure for travel. Ensure medical cover is adequate for the particular country, or countries, you're visiting, especially in regions such as North America, Europe, Africa and some parts of Asia.

Theft can occur in an instant, and a traveller might not discover the loss until a long time after the incident. But time spent dealing with the consequences of a robbery or mugging abroad can far outweigh the time to assess your security before you leave.

A money-belt remains the surest and easiest way to protect your valuables when you're on the move. If you're out for the day or the evening, just take what you need and leave the rest inside the safe in your room or the one at reception. But, importantly, as Fletcher advises, don't forget to remove your valuables before you check out otherwise you may end up at the airport with your passport and other items back in the safe.

Ten common travel mistakes
1. Not allowing enough time between connecting flights - especially when overseas. A missed flight can have disastrous consequences for a too-tight itinerary.
2. Not factoring in - interstate or overseas - time differences when booking flights, hotels or even rental vehicles.
3. Not making copies, in the event of theft, of important documents such as your passport, travel insurance policy and credit cards.
4. Not checking that your Australian ATM card is accepted by banks and traders at your destination. Some card providers also now also require you to alert them before you travel.
5. Arriving at a foreign destination to hire a vehicle and not realising an international driver's licence will be required.
6. Going to the wrong airport in a city or to the wrong terminal. Many overseas cities have more than one airport, and most airports in large centres have multiple terminals.
7. Not checking about overseas call charges from your mobile provider - or whether your phone will even operate at your destination.
8. Not checking if there is a public holiday, festival or other festivities and arriving to find nothing is open and that all hotels and flights, buses and trains are fully booked.
9. Tempting pickpockets and thieves by displaying jewellery and other precious personal effects in public.
10. Exhibiting cultural insensitivity - visiting a conservative society and wearing short shorts and singlet tops and exhibiting a general lack of awareness of cultural mores.

Read more at News.com.au

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Most Desirable Location in NSW...




On Sawtell's First Avenue, Daniel Scott for The Age Traveller is seduced by the village's energy and charm.

I first visited Sawtell on a chilly Wednesday evening a year ago. After checking into a bed and breakfast, I rugged up and sauntered on to its main street, First Avenue, in search of dinner.





I didn't get far, just 100 metres, but it was far enough to find Sawtell defying the typical winter hibernation of a coastal town. At the centre of the broad street, on a median strip known as ''the plot'', several elephantine fig trees were ablaze with lights. On either side of the street, people drank and ate under outdoor heaters on the footpath. A convivial babble seemed to spread from one bar or restaurant to the next.




Unable to decide which of three eateries was best - Barrels Bistro, Taste restaurant or Fig - I tried them all, eating a course in each. Everywhere I went the food was excellent and the locals welcoming. It felt like Christmas in the middle of the year.

We're not the only ones impressed by Sawtell. A survey last year by the University of New England, which assessed a raft of important amenities, proclaimed it the most desirable place to move to in NSW.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Good Food & Wine Show



Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, take note! The time is almost upon you to discover thousands of tastes, flavours, products and techniques from hundreds of exhibitors at the Good Food & Wine Show!



It's like Australia's biggest gourmet deli, most fascinating kitchen shops and delicious restaurants - and it's all waiting for you to discover!



Imagine the delights of:

• Seeing your favourite celebrity chef appearinglive in the Celebrity Theatre with demonstrations and book signings throughout the show


• Tasting new dishes designed by our celebrity chefs including Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris, Manu Fieldel and Tobie Puttock in the Show Restaurant


• Trying your hand at the new Cheese Matters Masterclass or the tasty recipes in the Gourmet Garden Cooking School, as well as exciting wine sessions in the Riedel Decanter Bar.


Australia’s favourite food magazine, Good Food, will be bringing its pages to life at the Sydney and Melbourne Good Food & Wine Shows. Watch the ‘Good Foodies’ and their very special guests including Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris, Manu Feildel and Miguel Maestre, cook fabulous meals and demonstrate insider tips and tricks at the state-of-the-art cooking theatre, with an irresistible subscription offer for everyone.


Melbourne
Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Convention Centre Place, South Wharf


Friday 4 June: 10am - 6pm
Saturday 5 June: 10am - 6pm
Sunday 6 June: 10am - 5pm

Perth
Perth Convention Exhibition Centre

21 Mounts Bay Road, Perth

Friday 2 July: 10am - 4.30pm

Friday 2 July 'After Dark': 6pm - 9.30pm
Saturday 3 July: 10am - 6pm
Sunday 4 July: 10am - 5pm
Please note: Visitors will need a seperate entry ticket for both Friday sessions.


Sydney
Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre

Darling Drive, Darling Harbour Friday 16 July: 10am - 6pm
Saturday 17 July: 10am - 6pm
Sunday 18 July: 10am - 5pm

Visit the Good Food & Wine Show website