Thursday, April 23, 2009

Friends & Family Winter Special at The Terraces Hotel

With the clear, crisp days and snow capped mountains offering a stunning backdrop, winter is a great time to visit Lake Taupo - and with our 'Friends & Family Winter Special'...the time could never be better!

The ski fields are expected to open in late June, and experts are predicting another great season of snow.

We have the firewood stacked and the Cellar full of great wines... so come, stay a few nights and simply relax! Experience the cuisine of Simon Gault and his team at our new on-site restaurant Bistro Lago, winners of the 2009 NZ Beef & Lamb Hallmark of Excellence award.

Our friendly team are happy to arrange any spa treatments or offsite activities for you, such as fishing, golf, skiing or jet boating... to name just a few.

Our "Friends and Family Winter Special" entitles you to a discounted rate of $150.00 per room per night and includes breakfast for two, plus one complimentary pass per person into the adjacent De Bretts Thermal Hot Pools.

And when you thought it couldn't get any better.....if you book 2 nights you will get the 3rd night absolutely FREE !

We have fantastic deals for conferences over the Winter period too. Contact Donna Mitchell on for more information

We look forward to seeing you!

* Accommodation subject to availability - Valid for June, July & August 2009 only. Accommodation must be pre booked - No commissionable sales & not redeemable for cash - Quote 'Friends & Family Special' when making your reservation.

Freephone: 0508 terraces / Phone: 07 378 7080 / Fax: 07 378 4174

Email: Website:

Design-Your-Own New Zealand Ski Holidays

New Zealand ski holiday website has just unveiled its exciting new redesign, featuring an innovative ‘holiday brochure style’ format that lets users design and book their own New Zealand skiing vacation.

The new site invites visitors to select their holiday accommodation, car hire, ski passes and ski hire equipment then book it all online in one place.

Ski New Zealand Director Ricki Shaw says the site lets users design a fully customised ski holiday ‘on the fly’, based on their own actual requirements.

“Our customers were telling us they liked the idea of thumbing through travel agency holiday brochures to get a feel for the range and price of different holiday options available,” says Mr Shaw.

“They also really liked the convenience of booking their holiday online and knowing exactly how much things would cost.

“The redesigned Ski New Zealand website captures the fun and visual elements of browsing traditional holiday brochures, but also leverages today’s web technologies, letting customers design their own bespoke skiing holiday.”

The site offers the choice of more than 150 accommodation options and seven rental vehicle types, as well as ski area lift passes, lessons, clothing hire, equipment hire and mountain transfers at five of New Zealand’s top ski areas. A holiday calculator progressively tallies the total cost of the users’ choices.

“Our customers were looking for a skiing holiday based on their exact requirements, rather than on some pre-defined combination of accommodation, transport, and ski passes offered by most conventional ski package holiday providers,” says Mr Shaw.

“The new lets anyone design their dream New Zealand ski holiday to their own specifications and in their own time.”

Queenstown winter holiday deals on offer

A Queenstown hotel is launching a campaign this week to entice New Zealanders and Australians to take a winter holiday in New Zealand’s number one ski resort.

Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s ‘winter chill’ campaign offers two deals to cater for short and long term holidays in Queenstown.

Guests who book two consecutive nights or more before 30th June will receive a $50 voucher to dine at the hotel’s award-winning threesixty restaurant.

Guests booking for five consecutive nights or more before 30th June will enjoy ‘long stay’ rates and receive a 15% discount with complimentary breakfast daily.

Packages are subject to availability and conditions apply. For more information or to book contact Crowne Plaza Queenstown on +64 ... or freephone within New Zealand on 0800 801 111 or visit
Crowne Plaza is located on Beach Street, opposite Steamer Wharf, and enjoys spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu and the mountains, providing a dramatic setting for The Place to Meet in Queenstown.

Ancient Trees Bring New Zealand and Japan Closer

Two ancient trees, both tourism icons of cultural significance, have united New Zealand and Japan in an agreement that is expected to boost tourism.

Waipoua Forest’s giant kauri tree Tane Mahuta and Jōmon Sugi, a giant cedar on Yakushima Island off the coast of Japan, have brought together two communities in a ground-breaking ‘Family of Ancient Trees’ agreement.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive George Hickton says Yakushima is Japan’s most popular World Heritage Site in terms of domestic travel with around 250,000 Japanese visiting the island each year. The connection between the two trees will give Japanese nature-lovers a compelling reason to visit New Zealand.

In less than two years, England’s Atlantic Links, a collection of the five premier links golf clubs in the South West of England, has established itse

The reputation of this previously-undiscovered cluster of golfing gems has been further enhanced through the continued inclusion of Atlantic Links courses in recognized course ratings compiled by top golf publications and through the hosting of a number of top amateur championships over the last 18 months.

Last summer Trevose Golf & Country Club in Cornwall staged the 2008 Brabazon Trophy (English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship) whilst the 2009 Tillman Trophy will be staged this July at Somerset’s Burnham & Berrow Golf Club. Two years later Burnham & Berrow will also host the R&A Boys Championship and the Brabazon Trophy - for the fifth time – and in doing so enter golfing history in 2011 by becoming the first course to hold both championships in the same year.

Saunton Golf Club’s East Course in Devon was awarded 22nd place in Golf World’s “Top 100 Golf Courses in the UK” at the end of 2008 and more recently, St Enodoc Golf Club’s Church Course in Cornwall was included in the “100 Best Courses outside the USA” at number 55 in the May 2009 issue of Golf Digest.

All six courses in England’s Atlantic Links featured in the 2007/8 Golf Monthly “Top 100 Courses in the UK & Ireland” with Royal North Devon Golf Club, or Westwood Ho! as it is fondly referred to, coming in at number 69.

Together these legendary, award-winning championship courses have firmly established themselves on the golfing map as a tantalizing trail of ancient links golf set amid the wild and dramatic Atlantic coastline of South West England.

“By packaging the five premier links clubs in South West England into England’s Atlantic Links, we have created a genuine alternative golf links tour to the high profile destinations of Scotland and Ireland,” comments Michael Blight, Managing Secretary of Burnham & Berrow Golf Club.

“In the 18 months or so since we established the offering, we have attracted a great many visitors from Europe and the US who have been both surprised and delighted to discover this relatively-unknown group of glorious links courses that had been overshadowed by the Scottish and Irish links for far too long.

“Meanwhile each course in its own individual right continues to receive plaudits from the world of golf and to be awarded the honour of hosting top amateur championships which have further enhanced the growing reputation of the Atlantic Links as one of the UK’s most prestigious golfing destinations.”

In addition, England’s Atlantic Links’ courses boast the combined appeal of history, tradition and variety which is complemented by numerous off-course attractions along the Atlantic coastline.

England’s South West is bursting with attractions including pretty coastal towns like Ilfracombe, bustling market towns such as Wadebridge and Barnstaple and charming fishing villages like Port Isaac, Rock and Padstow along the north Cornish coast whilst historic towns like Weston-super-Mare and Bath, near Burnham & Berrow, are ideal destinations to round off a golfing adventure.

The region’s rich culture features the inimitable Barbara Hepworth Museum and Tate St Ives, displaying the very best in modern and local art, the renown Eden Project and fascinating Lost Gardens of Heligan whilst outdoor activities such as surfing around Newquay and walking and horse riding in Exmoor National Park are as good as anywhere in the British Isles.

The gastronomic delights of the South West are not to be missed either, from the exceptional Padstow seafood restaurants of famous local chef Rick Stein and a variety of other Michelin-starred restaurants, to real English ale and authentic pub grub in an abundance of traditional country pubs.

The temperate micro climate allows year-round golf with the gentler winter conditions enabling the greenkeepers to maintain their courses in immaculate condition throughout the changing seasons.

Meanwhile the overall standard of accommodation in the South West has risen dramatically in recent years and there are now a host of comfortable, character hotels like Woodlands Country House Hotel, beautifully restored stately homes such as the Bath Spa Hotel, modern seaside hotels such as Saunton Sands and the St Moritz Hotel & Spa and delightful, friendly bed-and-breakfasts.

In terms of travel, the nearby M5 motorway and A39 “Atlantic Highway”, and international airports at Bristol, Exeter and Newquay, ensure easy accessibility for all visitors.

For further information on England’s Atlantic Links, visit or for Atlantic Links Golf Packages contact London Golf Tours (

The Courses that Comprise England’s Atlantic Links:

Founded in 1890, Somerset’s Burnham & Berrow is particularly noted for its distinct sand hills that form such stubborn, natural obstacles, along with the buckthorn and even a marsh for golfers to avoid mid-way through a round. Throw in the prevailing south westerly winds that whip in from the Atlantic and along the Bristol Channel, and golfers are left with a links challenge not for the faint hearted. The course has evolved over the decades but today’s layout is largely the work of Harry Colt. The club’s first professional was the legendary JH Taylor, five times an Open champion, who described the course as “one of the most sporting courses conceivable”. Burnham & Berrow has hosted a string of prestigious amateur tournaments, most recently the 2006 English Amateur Championship.

Dating back to 1864, Royal North Devon, or Westward Ho! as it is also known, is England’s oldest links. The golf course has hardly changed over nearly 150 years and to play it is like taking a step back in time and seeing how golf was played in Victorian England. The golf course, on terrain that undulates more gently than Burnham & Berrow, is set on common land on which livestock still graze. While JH Taylor may have served as Burnham & Berrow’s first pro, it as here at Royal North Devon that the golfer started his career as a caddie and later finished it as club president. With such heritage, the clubhouse serves as a treasure trove of golf memorabilia second only to the R&A.

Further down the Devon coast is Saunton, set in the remote shadows of the giant sand dunes of Braunton Burrows. When the club was inaugurated in 1893 its clubhouse doubled up as the local post office, yet now its two championship courses, East and West, are among the greatest links in the world. England’s most successful post-war golfer, Nick Faldo, has said, "I've no doubt if the East Course were located on the coast of Lancashire or Kent it would have hosted an Open Championship by now," although the West course is an exceptional challenge in its own right and it is a mistake to consider it second best. It was here in 1997 that a 17-year-old Sergio Garcia won the British Boys Championship, just two years before making his Ryder Cup debut.

Cornwall’s St Enodoc is another links once trodden, never forgotten. Founded in 1890 and designed by James Braid, it has a fantastic setting among the dunes overlooking the River Camel estuary and with far-reaching views over the Atlantic. The Church course, so called because of the Norman Church that was uncovered in the middle of the course, is renowned for its towering Himalaya bunker that entirely blocks golfers’ view of the 6th green from all but a slither of fairway. This is the tallest bunker in Europe. Over the past four years the course has benefited hugely from refurbishments that have included laying new greens and tees.

Across the Camel River from St Enodoc and over the majestic Trevose Head that juts into the Atlantic, Trevose Golf & Country Club offers a brilliant links that staged the celebrated English Amateur Stroke play Championship (Brabazon Trophy) in 2008. Complete with holiday flats and bungalows, Trevose conjures a relaxed holiday atmosphere to go with its classic Harry Colt golf course. With only a gentle breeze the 6,973-yard Championship Course offers good scoring opportunities, particularly with 3 par 5’s, but the character of the course is transformed when the winds blows in from the sea.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Final Opportunities to Charter at the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, May 2009

Opulence and adrenalin in Monaco

What better way to experience the thrills of the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix than from a beautiful Sunseeker motoryacht. Sunseeker – the choice of Formula One drivers – provides not only the most luxurious of settings, but the first class service of a full crew to look after all your needs.

There are still some limited opportunities to charter a Sunseeker at the May event. The prices shown immediately below are for the period Thursday 21st May to Sunday 24th May 2009, and include the vessel, berth and crew only. Additional expenses (generator fuel, food, drinks, etc) will be charged in addition.

Manhattan 60 – 'Alannah Rose'
€36,000 EUR
This flybridge vessel is a popular choice for couples and small families. Alannah Rose offers remarkably capacious living accommodation, sizeable en suite cabins (two double and one twin) and a dedicated professional crew.

Predator 92 Sportsbridge – 'Re 1'
€90,000 EUR
Sleeping up to eight guests in four en suite cabins, this brand new model not only looks breathtaking, but offers the highest level of accommodation too.

Also still available – individual and group places on the Sunseeker 90 Yacht
For those not wishing to charter a Sunseeker to themselves, we are pleased to be able to offer the opportunity to experience the Monaco Grand Prix and Sunseeker hospitality with other guests. Day only hospitality (including grandstand seats) starts at £2,650 per person for two days. Three days overnight hospitality starts at £3,990 per person (based on two people sharing).

Web: Email :

Exclusive Opera Interludes with The NBR New Zealand Opera performing at Top New Zealand Lodges

Navigate Oceania proudly announces OPERA INTERLUDES with The NBR New Zealand Opera, privileged escapes to the glorious world of opera that memorably combine captivating operatic melodies, gorgeous voices and outstanding cuisine in truly European-style soirees. With your choice of two wonderful weekends 15 and 16 May 09 at Wharekauhau Country Estate (Palliser Bay/Wellington) or 19 and 20 June 09 at Treetops Lodge and Wilderness Experience (Rotorua), both members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

The New Zealand Opera presents at each of these weekend retreats the enchanting Viennese operetta THE OPERA BALL as an intimate chamber opera on the first evening, followed the next night by concert performances of favourite arias from the world’s most loved operas. The inclusion of leisurely dinner intervals promises evenings of musical bliss for every opera enthusiast, in the privileged style historically presented and reserved for private patrons and their guests in great European country houses.

THE OPERA BALL by Richard Heuberger was premiered in 1908, becoming an instant hit and remaining a favourite with European audiences is played out on the first night of your luxury lodge stay. In classic operetta style it is a charming blend of misadventures at a 19th century Parisian Carnival Ball. Georges and Paul want to luxuriate in amorous adventures. But their wives, Marguerite and Angele have decided to test the fidelity of their husbands. Naturally, the events that unfold mean a delightful and amusing blend of predicaments, culminating in the expected lively and engaging revelations of the finale. Nimble, light-hearted melodies and vibrant textures, including the famous seduction aria Une Chambre Separee (A Secluded Room) are guaranteed to charm audiences. Then on the second night of your luxury lodge stay, in a typically English follow-up of musical bon-bons, a second soiree entertainingly offers the very finest of arias from the world’s best-loved opera and operet ta including O mio babino car, Dein ist mein ganzes Herz and all time favourite, Nessum dorma.

OPERA INTERLUDES with The New Zealand Opera are immeasurably enhanced by their setting in two of New Zealand’s most acclaimed New Zealand luxury lodge destinations, each with a unique blend of luxury and prime setting, each guaranteeing international award winning luxury, hospitality, comfort and cuisine. Treetops Lodge and Wilderness Experience in Rotorua nestles in majestic pristine wilderness and Wharekauhau Country Estate, a magnificent, working Romney sheep station close to Martinborough’s famed Pinot Noir wine region.

OPERA INTERLUDES with The NBR New Zealand Opera – privileged escapes to the glorious world of opera, with Navigate Oceania.

New Zealand Opera Interlude packages include two nights luxury lodge accommodation, both evening of the New Zealand Opera performances, pre dinner drinks, full four course gourmet meal, breakfast and use of the lodge facilities. Tariff for the package at Wharekauhau (15 and 16 May 09) from NZ$1617 + GST per person twin /double share per package, and Treetops (19 and 20 June 09) NZ$1353 + GST per person twin/double share per package. Single rates on request. Space is very limited.

For more information and reservations contact Karine Thomas, Director Navigate Oceania on ++64 9 307 3633 or or visit our website www.navigateoceania or The New Zealand Opera website on

Queenstown winter holiday deals on offer

A Queenstown hotel is launching a campaign this week to entice New Zealanders and Australians to take a winter holiday in New Zealand’s number one ski resort.

Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s ‘winter chill’ campaign offers two deals to cater for short and long term holidays in Queenstown.

Guests who book two consecutive nights or more before 30th June will receive a $50 voucher to dine at the hotel’s award-winning threesixty restaurant.

Guests booking for five consecutive nights or more before 30th June will enjoy ‘long stay’ rates and receive a 15% discount with complimentary breakfast daily.

Packages are subject to availability and conditions apply. For more information or to book contact Crowne Plaza Queenstown on +64 3 441 0095 or freephone within New Zealand on 0800 801 111 or visit

Crowne Plaza is located on Beach Street, opposite Steamer Wharf, and enjoys spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu and the mountains, providing a dramatic setting for The Place to Meet in Queenstown.

Never been a better time to visit Fiji

Tourism Fiji CEO Josefa Tuamoto has described the Reserve Bank of Fiji’s decision yesterday to devalue the Fiji dollar by 20 per cent as potentially, a timely windfall for the destination’s tourism industry.

Speaking from the national tourist office’s headquarters in Nadi, Mr Tuamoto said the devaluation represented a major boost for Fiji tourism.

“In a nutshell the devaluation means there has never been a better time to holiday in Fiji,” he said.

“Alike other destinations around the globe, Fiji too have felt the effects of the current economic turndown since the beginning of the year.

“Our situation was further compounded by the state of floods affecting the destination in mid-January which obviously had an impact on what traditionally is one of our strongest months of the year.

‘So the devaluation can be considered very timely in many respects.

Mr Tuamoto said he was confident the devaluation would have immediate and very positive ramifications for the local tourism industry and its overseas partners.

“Our dollar has appreciated quite significantly in the last two years,” he said.

“While Fiji has always represented fantastic value to our visitors, there were some pockets within the international travel industry that had implied the destination was becoming over priced.

“That’s is certainly not the case now as the devaluation will bring the Fiji dollar in line with the currencies in our major source markets - and especially Australia and New Zealand - where we will be driving the value for money message as part of our overall marketing of the destination.”

Any drop in the number of Kiwis travelling to Fiji may be short-lived.

A report in New Zealand’s Dominion Post recently says that while more Australians may visit New Zealand because of the political turmoil in Fiji and Thailand, tourism groups say, any drop in the number of Kiwis travelling to Fiji may be short-lived, with the NZ Government ruling out banning New Zealanders from visiting Fiji, saying to do so would make it no better than Fiji's military administration.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says New Zealanders should think twice about visiting the country, with officially, the ministry saying, "There is some risk to your security in Fiji and we advise caution." It also says there is a "high risk" to security in Thailand and advises against all tourist and non-essential travel to Bangkok and some nearby provinces.

Travel agents in New Zealand say there are no reports of people cancelling trips to Fiji and the pattern has been for Kiwi and Australian tourism to Fiji to drop off for a few weeks or months after past coups but recover fairly quickly.

NZ Travel Agents Association chief executive Paul Yeo said Kiwis were "a bit used to this" in Fiji, adding, "Fiji has had a lot of coups and they have been [largely] bloodless." The action has been in Suva, rather than in tourist areas, which have been unaffected in the past.

Tourism Fiji CEO Jo Tuamoto said yesterday that it was "business as usual".

Air New Zealand Introduces More Premium Economy Seats

Air New Zealand is doubling the number of Pacific Premium Economy seats available on its 777-200ER fleet, with the first of eight aircraft re-entering service next week after being refitted at Technical Operations in Auckland.

All aircraft will be completed mid-June, with the number of seats in the cabin increasing from 18 to 36, adding 72,000 Pacific Premium Economy seats annually to the long-haul network.

“Pacific Premium Economy has been hugely popular since its introduction in 2005,” says Air New Zealand Group General Manager Long Haul Airline Ed Sims.

“Air New Zealand flies further than any other airline in the world. Despite the challenging economic environment, long-haul customers clearly value the experience and are happy to pay more for the superior legroom, personal space and business class-style service.”

Pacific Premium Economy has just been nominated for Conde Nast Traveller’s annual Best Innovation and Design Award. In the words of judge and top UK travel writer Simon Calder:“….Air New Zealand shows kindness to the masses with its premium economy class, which is 'business-light rather than economy-plus.”

Air New Zealand is further enhancing the Pacific Premium Economy experience by introducing more legroom with seat pitch increased to 41 inches (from 38 inches) and a new self-service bar area for customers travelling in premium cabins.

Customers will continue to enjoy nine inches of seat recline and business class style food and beverage service and amenities.

It is the third Pacific Premium Economy capacity increase in two years, with Air New Zealand twice increasing the number of seats available on its Boeing 747-400 aircraft, now up to 39 Pacific Premium Economy seats.

Air New Zealand introduced the 777-200ER into its fleet nearly four years ago. The aircraft operates long haul routes from Auckland including Hong Kong-London, San Francisco, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and on selected Los Angles services.

The new 777-200ER seating configuration will be: Business Premier 26, Pacific Premium Economy 36 and Pacific Economy 242 (currently 269).

"Drunken Dragon" Feast A Highlight Of Spring In Macau

Colourful Local Events and Festivals Provide a Feast for the Senses in One of the Far East’s Most Fascinating Cities

As Macau prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary as a Special Administrative Region of China later this year, the city’s calendar of festivals and events takes on extra buzz and vitality. The spring months of April and May in particular are packed with fascinating and diverse ways to enjoy the uniqueness of Macau, highlights being the ‘A-Ma Festival’ (honouring the goddess from whom the name Macau is derived) and the decidedly unusual and colourful ‘Feast of the Drunken Dragon’.

With nearly 50 events, public holidays and festivals taking place all over Macau each year, there is a ready line-up of activities to entertain both visitors and locals alike. Last year nearly 22 million visitors - just under 80,000 of which were from the UK - came from around the world to experience all this fascinating city has to offer. The Historic Centre, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, continues to prove an especially popular draw.

The April and May events line-up reflects Macau’s unique European and Chinese heritage and diversity and includes a wide range of exciting sporting, cultural and artistic activities. Highlights include:

• The A-Ma Festival (18th April) is arguably the festival most identified with the city as the name of the Goddess of Seafarers is the source of the name of the city itself (‘A-Ma-Gau’ meaning Bay of A-Ma). Legend has it that stricken fishermen in a storm off the coast appealed to the deity for help and when the tempest subsequently abated, they built coastal temples to honour her and give thanks. The A-Ma Temple, the oldest surviving building in Macau with parts dating from 1573, is a particularly popular gathering place on this day, when fishermen and their families burn incense, let off firecrackers and pray for continued protection. Outside the temple stalls are set up selling a variety of trinkets and ‘lucky money’, and performances of Chinese opera are staged every day for a week. More firecrackers are lit on the decks of the fishing boats which takes turns to line up in front of the temple, adding to the deafening noise and general gaiety of the celebrations.

• The Feast of the Drunken Dragon (2nd May) is a rather unusual Chinese festival, the origins of which are shrouded in the mists of time. Buddhist believers tell of a serpent monster that visited some villagers who were beleaguered by the plaque but were saved by a Buddhist monk who killed the serpent dragon (and lifted the plague). Buddhist followers celebrate by cleaning statues of the Buddha (the day is also celebrated as Feast of Bathing of the Lord Buddha) and local fishermen perform a ‘drunken dance’ with wooden dragon heads and tails in a continuous procession from Senado Square towards the inner harbour, stopping to drink and eat along the way. The conclusion of the procession is a great feast in the evening which is usually very ‘merry’.

• Also staged on this day is the Tam Kong Festival (2nd May), a lively spectacle when the birth of Taoist child-god Tam Kong is celebrated. A deity also devoted to the protection of seafarers and fishermen, Tam Kong (or Tam Kung) is particularly venerated by the villagers on the island of Coloane and over five nights, performances by established Hong Kong Chinese Opera stars excite much local fervour. There is a parade by followers in colourful costumes, culminating in a special feast organised by the villagers and open to residents and visitors.

• The 20th Macau Arts Festival (2nd – 30th May) has steadily increased in stature and popularity. This year’s theme - ‘Beautiful Arts, Beautiful Life’ – embraces a wide variety of over 70 performances by artists from all over Europe (including the UK). They will join local and mainland Chinese performers to shine in a variety of forms including orchestral concerts, painting exhibitions, dance and theatre, and Chinese opera. It is especially during this period that the talent and enthusiasm of Macau’s fledgling artistic community comes into its own and receives support and appreciation from fellow performers and residents alike.

• The Macau International Dragon Boat Festival (28th May) is an ancient Chinese festival held to commemorate the heroic poet Wat Yuen who protested against the decision of the emperor to go to war by drowning himself. Legend says that the villagers took to their boats to thrash the sea and stop his body being eaten by fish. Today Dragon Boat races are popular fixtures on many international calendars and are held all around the world. In Macau, the event will be staged on the Nam Van Lake with many local and foreign teams competing fiercely for the winner’s laurel.

Settled by the Portuguese for nearly 500 years, Macau became a cultural crossroads between east and west and this is reflected in its year round calendar of events and festivals. For visitors of all ages, interests and budgets, there’s always something special to see, do and experience in Macau, especially in the uplifting months of spring – and most without being charged a single Pataca!

Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises Extends 20% Discount Deal on Kimberley Cruises

Pearl Sea Coastal Cruises (PSCC) has extended its 20 per cent discount offer on 2009 and 2010 Kimberley coast cruises from March 31 to June 30.

This discount price on the seven-day cruises between Broome and Mitchell Plateau is from AUD$6,676 a person (normally AUD$8,345), from AUD$9,676 (normally from AUD$12,095) for the 13-day Broome-Wyndham cruises and from AUD$4000 (normally from AUD$5000) for the five-day Broome-Broome cruises.

Scheduled rates for 2010 are the same as 2009.

Cruises are in the March-October season.

Cruising is on board the 25-metre air-conditioned Kimberley Quest II, equipped with a spa on the deck and helipad for scenic flights.
The Kimberley Quest II accommodates just 18 passengers (and six crew) in deluxe twin, deluxe double, superior double cabins and an exclusive flybridge double cabin, all equipped with private ensuites.
Prices include a light aircraft and helicopter flight between Broome and the Mitchell Plateau (on 7-day cruises) full use of the vessel, guided land and water excursions, all chef-prepared meals (and non-stop access to the caffe latte machine on the rear deck).

Cruise highlights are the Horizontal Waterfalls, the spectacular islands of the Buccaneer Archipelago, King Cascades, Montgomery Reef and the King George Falls, guided scenic tender rides through a myriad of inlets, estuaries and unnamed creek systems, ancient art sites and colonial settlement ruins.

What’s also in store are swimming excursions to waterfalls and stunning cliff-top rock pools, wandering along deserted beaches, day and night crocodile spotting and fishing for much-prized barramundi, mackerel and trevally ... and lazing under the sun in the spa on the bow deck as the vessel cruises along the region's rugged escarpments and into spectacular gorges, sometimes 80 metres high.

Contact: Tel +618 9193 6131, email or see

North Star Cruises’ West Papua Discoverer Cruise Opens for Bookings!

Bookings are now being taken for North Star Cruises’ much anticipated West Papua Discoverer cruise which explores an untouched paradise of hidden culture and incredible natural scenery.

North Star’s General Manager, Peter Trembath said interest in this remote region had never been greater as today’s travellers increasingly sought out rare unexplored areas of the world.

“There are more so-called ‘un-contacted people’ living in West Papua than in any other region on earth,” said Mr Trembath.

“It really is one of the few remaining wilderness areas on the planet, making an adventure-cruise to this area a truly remarkable and even life-changing experience,” he said.

“This cruise, onboard our award winning adventure cruise ship the True North, will show our guests a way of life that has been unchallenged by the 21st century.”

“This could well be the most stunning region that the True North has ever visited.”

The 12-night West Papua Discoverer Cruise explores the south coast of West Papua and features stunning natural landscapes including towering jungles, Amazonian rivers, Jurassic-like islands and pristine coral gardens. Highlights include:

- A tour and snorkelling at Batanta Island
- Visit the forests of Pulau Mansuar including swimming in lagoons and exploring hidden caves
- Snorkelling and diving the Raja Ampats, an archipelago comprising over 1,500 islands, cays and shoals
- Waigo Island, Fam Island, Waiag Island for snorkelling and swimming
- Swim with manta rays at Aljui Bay
- Kofiau Island – visit the island village and learn about the local way of life.
- Karas Island for swimming, snorkelling and fishing
- Arguni – an area known as Jurassic Park after its rugged cliffs and mountainous forests
- Snorkeling and night diving in Triton Bay where you can swim under a freshwater waterfall
- Crocodile spotting at Etna Bays
- World class fishing
- Presentations and lectures from guest experts on the region’s vast wilderness.

Also on the cruise in 2009 will be renowned marine life expert, Dr Gerry Allen and Dr Mark Erdmann, a senior advisor to Conservation International.

Both have spent many years working and researching in West Papua and their expertise will greatly enhance guest enjoyment and understanding of this virtually unknown land.

Guests will fly out from Darwin on October 19th, 2009 before joining the True North in Sorong, the gateway to the “land of ‘un-contacted’ people.

Prices start from AUD$19,995 per person all inclusive and places are strictly limited. For more information visit or phone 08 9192 1829.

Popular Whale Watching Cruise Back in 2009

With whale watching cruises more popular than ever, Captain Cook Cruises has extended its Whale watching season, operating daily Whale Watching cruises from May 16th to November 30th, 2009.

The Whale Watching cruise takes passengers past the Sydney Opera House, Fort Denison and all the beautiful homes located in the bays of Sydney Harbour and then out through the heads and onto the open waters. Here the direction of the vessel is totally dependent on where the whales have been sighted – north towards Manly or south towards Coogee. Most whales are found within 2kms of shore.

The number of Humpback and Southern Wright whales passing through Sydney on their annual northern migration between Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef, is expected to reach its traditional peak around the Winter Solstice on June 22nd.

After calving in the northern waters between August and September, the whales will then again head south through Sydney, making their long journey back to Antarctica.

Whale Watching vessels are purpose built for Whale Watching and feature two decks both offering spectacular open air viewing and a comfortable inside all-weather lounge for the entire family.

Captain Cook Cruises offers a whale guarantee - if a whale is not sighted in the months of May to November 2009 passengers can rebook another cruise free of charge or for those cruising in June and July they have the choice to receive 50% of their money back.

Whale Watching cruises depart daily from Jetty 6 Circular Quay at 9.10am and 1.30pm and from Darling Harbour at 9.00am and 1.15pm. Morning departures only operate from May 30 to July 31, 2009.

Whale Watching Cruises are priced at: adults AUD$75, concession AUD$65, child (0-14) AUD$39, family (2ad+2ch) AUD$189.

For further information and bookings, please contact Captain Cook Cruises on Tel: 02 9206-1111 or visit

A New Hilton, a New Melbourne Experience

Melbourne will be able to check in to its newest hotel in less than two weeks. Michael Bourne, General Manager of the new Hilton Melbourne South Wharf hotel, today confirmed that the new Hilton hotel will open its doors for business on April 16, 2009.

The highly anticipated new hotel will welcome over 200 new employees to work; up-scale dining destination Nuevo37 will also open to the public and the first guests will check-in to the hotel from 2:00pm.

Located in the city’s evolving South Wharf district (bordering Docklands and Southbank and directly alongside the new Melbourne Convention Centre), the hotel is set to be the ‘new Melbourne’ destination for visitors and locals. The hotel is the first major development to officially open in the $1.4 billion precinct, continuing Melbourne’s growth as a waterfront city.

Rising 20 storeys high, Hilton Melbourne South Wharf offers a view experienced from no other hotel in Melbourne. The hotel boasts unique views up the Yarra River, across the city and to the bay, creating a totally new perspective of the city.

Virgin Blue Launches New Flights to Hobart and Townsville

The Virgin Blue Airlines Group is increasing its presence in the Canberra market, today launching not just one, but two brand new direct flights from the nation’s capital.

The airline will commence direct daily services from Canberra to both Hobart and Townsville, offering convenient and affordable access to two fantastic destinations which offer a range of leisure and business opportunities for Canberrans.

Are We There Yet?

It’s the great Australian tradition – packing up the car and heading off into the great wide yonder on an extended holiday – and the Northern Territory boasts some of the most interesting drives in the world.

In conjunction with the Northern Territory News, Tourism NT has revamped its annual guide, Drive the NT, with a fresh new look and more information to help travellers plan their driving holiday.

Tourism NT Chief Executive Maree Tetlow said the new content was designed to entice visitors to stay longer, particularly in regional areas.

“The Northern Territory has an array of fantastic options for driving holidays and this year the guide provides more content regarding the experiences people can have in the destinations they are driving through,” said Ms Tetlow.

“The information will enable them to slow down their trip and get more from the places they visit,” she said.

“There is a bit of a misconception that you have to have a four-wheel drive to travel in the Northern Territory, and while we boast some exciting and challenging adventure routes, most of our best known attractions can be accessed by two-wheel drive vehicles,” she said.

Drive the NT also targets special interest groups and for the first time includes a section on birdwatching destinations, as well as more in-depth content on the NT’s world-class fishing destinations, trekking, art, heritage and cultural experiences.

Maps have been redesigned to be more user-friendly and the comprehensive guide covers all the Northern Territory’s icons as well as the lesser-known attractions.

The guide features each of the Northern Territory’s tourism drives and provides comprehensive information about the attractions along the way. They include:

• Red Centre Way, through the West MacDonnell Ranges to Kings Canyon, Uluru and Kata Tjuta;

• Savannah Way, from the ‘big sky’ country of the Gulf of Carpentaria to the NT’s north-west;

• Explorer’s Way, from Darwin to Adelaide via many of the NT’s highlights;

• Binns Track, a four-wheel drive alternative to the Explorer’s Way, and

• Nature’s Way, from Darwin through Kakadu National Park to Katherine Gorge;

The updated Explore the Northern Territory by 4WD, produced by Tourism Central Australia and Tourism Top End in collaboration with Tourism NT, is also out now.

Both guides are available at caravan and camping shows around Australia and from visitor information centres in the Northern Territory.

More information on holidaying in the Northern Territory got to

Taking holiday Leave Good for the Economy

Australians have accrued 121 million days of annual leave which equates to around $31 billion dollars of unspent revenue.1 With Australians choosing to stay at work rather than taking a well-earned break, businesses and individuals, as well as the economy, are beginning to exhibit signs of strain. 2

The Australian tourism industry has long promoted great Australian holiday destinations and Queensland resort destination Couran Cove Island Resort has implemented a reward incentive to encourage over-worked Australians to enjoy their holiday entitlements.

Couran Cove Island Resort General Manager Scott Hayden said their “Take a break for Australia” package aims to provide a channel for some of the $31 billion dollars in unspent revenue to reach and bolster the Australian economy.

“I think everyone is entitled to a well-deserved break especially when choosing a local holiday destination that will help support and secure local jobs. Visiting Couran Cove Island Resort will be good for the soul and good for the economy.

“Through this campaign we want to reward existing and potential customers for holidaying at home,” Mr Hayden said.

Patriotic holiday makers booking a Couran Cove “Take a break for Australia” package will receive a free ferry transfer to and from the island and breakfast for each day of their stay. Value add campaigns such as this support the Tourism Australia approach to encourage Australians to use their four weeks annual leave entitlement each year.

In April 2009, Tourism Australia will launch the No Leave, No Life program which aims to give Australian companies and employees the help they need to plan for and take a great Aussie holiday.

Consumer-driven companies who value customer feedback reward existing customers for ongoing and repeat business while potential new customers are attracted by the value add deals on offer.

Clued in consumers are making big savings and benefiting from attractive special offers driven by a value add market focus.

Couran Cove Island Resort’s harmonious blend of nature and culture creates a truly Australian-styled resort. A beautiful location, excellent food, drink and entertainment, and an unrivalled list of sporting activities make the island an ideal location for the 60 per cent of Australians who do not use their full four weeks annual leave each year.

You're As Welcome As The Wildflowers In May

May is the start wildflower season on Fraser Island and a great time to experience the Great Sandy National Park. The island is awash with colour, and plants such as the Wide Bay Boronia, Wallum Banksia, Swamp Mahogany Eucalypt and Paperbark Tea Tree are in bloom, attracting many birds and insects to the resort grounds.

Kingfisher Bay Resort, on Fraser’s western side, has just released a three-night, short-stay package during the annual Bird Week festivities.

From May 9-16, immerse yourself in World Heritage wilderness at the eco-resort for three nights for just AUD$419 per person, twin share. The short-stay package includes hotel resort accommodation, return catamaran transfers from Urangan Boat Harbour to Fraser Island and complimentary Ranger-guided walks and talks through the grounds.

And for extra flexibility, choose your own day program during your stay – activities start from AUD$15pp and include everything from dawn walks, to photography, art classes, conservation workshops and eco-accredited wilderness touring through Fraser’s diverse coastal and rainforest habitats. For those wanting to get in to the spirit of Bird Week - a Galah Dinner and social activities can also be added in.

Dedicate mornings to enjoying the abundance of natural attractions on Fraser Island and evenings to enjoying the creature comforts at the award-winning eco resort. To book call 1800 072 555 or visit for more information.

Dream ‘Destination’ Weddings More Popular at Aoraki Mount Cook

Love and marriage New Zealand-style is on the up and up, if weddings at Aoraki Mount Cook are anything to go by.

The iconic Hermitage Hotel, one of New Zealand’s most romantic retreats, has reported its busiest wedding season ever, hosting a record 11 weddings this summer with 13 still to go before the end of the year.

Hotel wedding planner Nyree Schaar (pronounced Ngaire Shaar) and marriage celebrant/Hermitage General Manager Denis Callesen, believe the 60 percent increase is due to ‘destination’ weddings becoming more popular, particularly amongst British and American couples.

“The natural beauty, isolation and versatility of locations within the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park and World Heritage Area give weddings here the real wow factor, whether they’re casual, formal, traditional or adventurous,” says Mr Callesen.

“Panoramic views of lakes, rivers, glaciers, icebergs, Mount Cook and the Southern Alps mean couples can choose their dream wedding backdrop to make their day a truly unique and memorable experience.

“The beauty and serenity of the locations add a quiet reflective atmosphere, making ceremonies all the more intimate and special.

“Quite a lot of the couples come by themselves to escape the pressure of families, social responsibilities and the cost of a big wedding. Flights and landing locations for helicopter-assisted weddings are obviously weather dependent but if there are delays couples seem happy to stay, soak up their surroundings and enjoy a bit more romance.”

Some of the most popular ceremony locations at Aoraki Mount Cook are:

· Helicopter up to Liebig Dome (pronounced Lee big) (7600ft) at the edge of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park looking back to Aoraki Mount Cook. Rated 17th best wedding location in the world according to UK newspaper The Independent

· Fly by ski-plane to marry in the snow or on the Tasman Glacier

· On the shores of Lake Pukaki with its beautiful turquoise waters and Aoraki Mount Cook towering in the background

· Blue Lakes Shelter, a quaint stone building nestled in the Tasman Valley

· Braemar Dome (6,600ft overlooking Lakes Pukaki and Tekapo)

· On the lawn in front of the historic Hermitage hotel with Aoraki Mount Cook as a backdrop

· The Hermitage Snowline Bar with its roaring open fire and comfy leather chairs

Because of its range of venues, restaurants, accommodation and activities, The Hermitage caters for weddings or receptions of all sizes, from an intimate ceremony for two to a function with up to 300 family and friends. A dedicated wedding team takes care of every detail.

Couples can bring in their own celebrant (which may require a Department of Conservation concession) or use Mr Callesen who has officiated at more than 200 hundred weddings during the last 10 years and donates all fees to the local school.

“Living in a remote location means that the children of Aoraki Mount Cook Village sometimes miss out on opportunities their more urban peers enjoy. However this year, through donations and fundraising, the kids are going on an action-packed field trip to Wellington,” he says.

Another reason why couples choose to get married at Aoraki Mount Cook is the diverse range of activities they can offer their guests pre or post-wedding. These include the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre with 3D movie, planetarium and museum, Tasman Lake/Glacier boat trips, scenic flights, glacier landings, hiking and mountaineering, heli-biking, fishing, and amazing local food and wine.

For those with a celestial interest, the region’s also the best place in New Zealand for stargazing because of its brilliantly clear night sky and lack of light pollution.

Couples can find out more about weddings at The Hermitage or within Aoraki Mount Cook National Park by visiting

A New Level of 5-Star Luxury Arrives In Falls Creek

Enjoy the good life slope-side at the new Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek - a 5-star trans-seasonal apartment hotel opening on 5 June 2009 to deliver luxury accommodation and a vibrant retail mix to Falls Creek 365 days a year.

Managed by Mirvac Hotels & Resorts and located within the new St Falls precinct, Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek is Australia’s only drive-in, drive-out, ski-in, ski-out, 5-star alpine resort and spa, bringing the slopes to your doorstep, ensuring there’s no down time and more ‘you time’.

Promising to elevate your lifestyle and indulge your whole being, Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek offers an impressive array of guest services and amenities not previously seen in an Australian ski resort.

Holiday-makers visiting St Falls will be able to leave the mundane of everyday life behind and enjoy a true alpine village experience with exceptional facilities on offer including;

- Alta – Argentinean-style grill restaurant

- Tom, Dick and Harry’s – latest Apres ski bar and café

- The Pass – coffee and takeaway food server

- Mii Spa – award winning Day Spa

- Conference facility

- FoodWorks supermarket

- Largest ski and board hire in Falls Creek

- Apres Vous – fashion retail stocking designer ski-wear

- Concept store offering the latest snowboards and skis

- Information hub and ticket office

- Crèche (open for 2010 season)

- State-of-the-art gymnasium

Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek is brought to you by Zacamoco, a joint venture between Morry Schwartz’s Pan Urban and Callum Fraser of Elenberg Fraser - the team who delivered Huski at Falls Creek (winner of Wallpaper magazine’s ‘Best Ski Resort in the World for 2006’). Blending stunning contemporary architecture by Elenberg Fraser and inspired by Europe’s best ski resorts and the feeling of North America’s alpine villages, Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek provides everything you need to ensure a peak experience.

The 63 one, two, three and four bedroom fully furnished apartments boast modern interiors, under floor heating, open plan living areas, a European laundry and drying cupboard, amazing views overlooking the Kiewa Valley and over Falls Creek’s main ski runs and a toasty hot tub on apartment balconies.

A special Quay West feature that is sure to appeal after a day on the slopes is the Day Spa run by Australia’s premium spa operator Mirvac Hotels & Resorts under their award winning Mii Spa brand. Drawing inspiration from spas throughout Japan, Turkey and various Nordic countries, the spa uses different treatments of heat and water to relax the body and open pores including a sauna, steam room, indoor plunge pool and outdoor spa.

Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek will be a premier alpine destination throughout the year and an all season gateway to Falls Creek and surrounding areas.

As Victoria’s largest ski and boarding resort, Falls Creek is located in the heart of the state’s High Country, bestowing magnificent views of the Bogong High Plains and Kiewa Valley. With over 90 trails, Falls Creek offers skiing terrain for all levels.

To celebrate the launch of Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek, special accommodation packages will be available from late April 2009 on for the one bedroom apartments (two night stay, twin share) as well as the two and three bedroom penthouses (two night stay, and up to eight share). Five and seven night accommodation packages will also be available.

For further information on Quay West Resort & Spa Falls Creek, please visit

v australia launches second Trans-Pacific Route

Less than six weeks after it first took to the skies, Australia’s newest International airline, V Australia, will today launch its second route, linking Australia’s Sunshine State to the US State of California, with the departure of the inaugural services between Brisbane, Australia and Los Angeles, USA.

The long haul boutique style airline will introduce the new three weekly flights, hot on the heels of the recently launched daily direct Sydney-Los Angeles service.

In the past few weeks since its inception, V Australia has received resounding support both for its in-flight services, products and people, as well as the affordable fares it introduced in to the market. Compared to the same time last year, trans-Pacific fares have dropped 54%^, a direct result of competition and a new player in the game.

Virgin Blue Group Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey said, “We are again pleased to be a catalyst for more affordable air fares on this previously duopolistic market.

“Already we are aware of people who have now flown V Australia between the US and Australia, be it for business or pleasure, who up until now, weren’t able to do so and of that, we are very proud.”

He added, “While it’s early days V Australia is performing to our expectations and based on feedback to date, exceeding those of our Guests.”

The airline spent two years developing and tweaking V Australia’s in-flight product to ensure it provided innovations, little “Virgin” style touches and high quality service to appeal to all travellers. Among them are complimentary business class thongs, generous seating, lie-flat beds and state-of-the-art personal touch screen in-flight entertainment. It was all designed following feedback from flyers that when travelling on long haul flights the most important desirability’s were personal space, quality of meals and being entertained.

One of the other key factors for travellers is the convenience of direct services and today, the V Australia team is excited to add a second non-stop trans-Pacific service to its route network, with Brisbane chosen as the next destination to get the direct US link.

Brett Godfrey said, “Brisbane is Virgin Blue’s home base, our roots are here and we have been grateful for the support of the people of Queensland who have staunchly stood by us as we grew from a two aircraft airline to a group of four airlines operating 80 aircraft across Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and the now the USA.”

“We are especially pleased to be strengthening our ties with Queensland and adding the USA to the destinations our airline group now services from Brisbane International Airport.”

Among those boarding the V Australia flight to LA to help celebrate the milestone are celebrity Guests including esteemed actor Michael Caton, sassy songstress Deni Hines, TV personality Mike Goldman, Bollywood leading lady Tania Zaetta, Queen of Brisbane Travel TV Sofie Formica, along with staff, competition prize winners and paying passengers.

The inbound flight which landed early this morning carried US based travel media, travel agents and corporate guests as part of a campaign to raise awareness of Queensland’s accessibility, tourism delights and affordability.

Also on board the inaugural flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane was former QLD Premier and current Commissioner for Queensland in the Americas, the Hon Peter Beattie.

V Australia will also work closely with Queensland Tourism as well as the Queensland Government to further develop opportunities for the state through trade and tourism.

Brett Godfrey continued, “This is a terrific opportunity for us as an airline to work hand in hand with our tourism partners to provide a stimulus at a time when it is needed most.”

The Australian dollar provides US travellers with a great exchange rate which translates to more bucks in their swim trunks and given Brisbane is a hub for connecting flights to the world famous Whitsunday region as well as further north to Cairns and beyond, there is ample opportunity to spruik the state of Queensland to a pool of potential new visitors.

V Australia will be only the second airline to offer direct flights from Brisbane to Los Angeles and with a departure time of 11am and arrival time in Los Angeles of 7.00am.

The flight offers seamless connections with V Australia’s interline partner Delta Airlines to over 25 destinations in North America, including a quick and easy connection from LA to New York’s JFK airport.

V Australia BNE-LAX fares start from AUD$999* for a return economy flight, AUD$1777* for a Premium Economy return flight and AUD$5999* for a Business Class return flight.

* All fares are for flights booked on the internet or $50 more when booked by phone. Fares are inclusive of all taxes, fees and charges and subject to availability and may not be available on all flights or peak times. A credit card surcharge of an additional $15 per person per booking is applicable. The sale fares are on sale until 14 April or until sold out and for travel from 8 April to 16 June 2009 and 18 July to 8 December 2009 For V Australia bookings log on to or phone our award winning Guest Contact Centre on 13 8287 or contact a travel agent.