Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's an island idyll as East Bedarra Island Resort re-opens!

East Bedarra Island Retreat was always a spectacular location for couples seeking romantic island seclusion in Far North Queensland. But now, after having undergone a complete facelift following the devastation of Cyclone Yasi, it's thrown the doors open to usher in a whole new era of holidays and honeymoon indulgence.

Imagine being deserted on a luxurious island where enchanting beauty meets unparalleled intimacy. When you stay in Bedarra Island, you're in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef's family group of islands, putting you smack bang in the middle of a tropical heaven! 
The new sprawling two-bedroom contemporary eco-villa is set in a picture-perfect scene, nestled under the canopy of coconut palms and luscious rainforest, and boasts a natural salt-water pool, expansive outdoor deck and ample nooks to entertain. A space designed with the most discerning of couples in mind, it provides every conceivable comfort from which to indulge in the beauty of the island. 
Views of the Reef and surrounding Timana Island, Dunk Island and Mission Beach in tropical north Queensland set the pace for long, languid days and balmy nights where you can loose yourselves in complete relaxation. 
With the warm tropical waters of the Great Barrier Reef at your doorstep, your retreat at East Bedarra Island is the perfect opportunity to explore one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Swim and play in complete seclusion on one of the 2 private beaches, and make good use of the snorkeling equipment and the perfect launching pad that come with the package at East Bedarra Island Retreat. Or kick back and enjoy the quality comforts like LCD screen, Cable T.V, CD/DVD & Book Library, outdoor wood fire pizza oven, swinging love lounge and fully imported furniture from Milan in Italy. 
Gourmet food and beverage provisions that you desire can be specially arranged with the best local fresh seafood and produce available, for added satisfaction your food and beverage requirements are taken care of prior to your arrival to ensure you complete relaxation on your romantic island holiday. 

Which means all that you have to worry about is getting here, and melting in to island time. Regular flights are available to Cairns (CNS) and Townsville (TSV) from most major cities in Australia.

Spoil your senses this summer and indulge in this idyllic island destination with this fantastic package from East Bedarra Island Resort - enjoy a reduced rate of $880/night and a complimentary bottle of French champagne on arrival when you book a stay between February and March 2012. For more details head to the Holidays for Couples website.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Young and the Young at Heart at W Seminyak, Bali

On our recent trip to Bali we simply had to check out the sizzling hot new W Seminyak Retreat & Spa! As long time fans of the signature W lifestyle approach - design, music and a good dose of tongue-in-cheek cool - we had heard great things about the new kid on the block, and weren't disappointed! 
This place is like nothing Bali has ever seen before, and it's taken it's rightful place as THE place to stay and play if you want something totally unique, stylish and trendy. W Seminyak is an enclave that embraces a "forever young" philosophy, and you know it as soon as you arrive in the avant garde hotel lobby ... beautiful and sophisticated, it's also cheeky and playful too. Case in point? Take the landscaped tropical WET pool, where huge round canary yellow sun lounges let you kick back in style and tune out to the blissful beats that wash over the terraced rice-field style swimming zones, beachside. The 'Beach Amabassadors' make sure your every whim is catered for and the Sweet Spot will have you in comfy robes and slippers as you enjoy its hands-on deck service, from bringing you sun care amenities, fresh towels, snacks, cocktails frozen treats, games to, yes, help cleaning your sunglasses!  
And we got a real giggle riding the elevators, with the quirky welcome mats personally changed by the hotels' 'Talent' (a W title for the exemplary staff) from "Good Morning" to "Good Afternoon" and "Good Evening" as the day glides by - and don't worry when the lights go out as you land on your floor, and the interior turns to neon blue. It's all a part of the living art that is W Hotels. There's even an art gallery, a selection of high fashion retails spaces, and a 24 hour spa, which we hear is popular with late night revelers who come here to wind down in the early hours of the morning. 
Dining here is a decadent affair, with a choice of restaurants and bars - devour the finest of Asian flavours at the Starfish Bloo, or get your heat on at the open kitchen and wood fired grill of Fire, cooling down with Artisan cheeses, imported and house-made charcuterie and frozen cocktail confections at ICE. 
The WooBar is cocktail heaven, right by the WET zone and the scene of the weekend parties where international DJs come to play their sets and appease the dance floor crowd on the Sky Deck overlooking the beach before everyone heads downstairs to chill in to the early hours with ambient beats at the W Lounge. 
In testimony to the W Hotels love of music, every suite is completely sound proofed with in built super styling stereo systems that let you turn the music up without ever annoying your neighbours ... and with an urban interior design that is the complete anti-establishment of the modern exotic Bali style, W Seminyak offers something completely different and exciting to the Seminyak scene. 
We were extremely impressed. And already planning a longer stay on our return to Bali in the New Year! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wolgan Valley luxury Summer retreat revealed

Amid 4,000 acres of Australian wilderness in the spectacular Greater Blue Mountains region, guests of the luxurious Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa can experience pure tranquillity this Summer with the resort's recently released Summer Temptation offer.
Valid from 6 January 2012 until 31 March 2012, the offer lets you experience a luxurious two nights in a double Heritage Suite at Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa this Summer, including gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, non-alcoholic beverages, a select range of local wines and beer with meals, private swimming pool, wireless internet and two on-site nature based activities per day for just $1,450 per person twin share, representing a saving of $500.

As part of this limited time offer, each guest will receive pre-dinner Summer inspired cocktails and canapés on one night during their stay; and a 25 per cent discount on all spa treatments and retail products at the luxurious Timeless Spa.

For guests staying two nights or more from Sunday to Thursday inclusive, a 60-minute spa treatment per person is also offered, representing an additional value of AUD $330 per couple.

Valid from 6 January 2012 until 31 March 2012, package rates are based on a minimum two nights stay. Other terms and conditions apply.

Nestled between two National Parks just three hours from Sydney, the international award-winning resort features 40 thoughtfully designed individual suites, each with its own private indoor-outdoor swimming pool.

Take advantage of the longer days of Summer and experience the wide range of nature-based activities offered such as horse riding, nature walks, mountain biking and our sunset 4WD wildlife tour. For those who prefer less action, there's plenty of reasons for relaxing at the Timeless Spa, or simply luxuriating in the privacy of your suite with its own swimming pool.

A 25-metre outdoor infinity swimming pool and adjoining Jacuzzi are also available to guests, with poolside service and lounge areas offering commanding views of the spectacular Wolgan Valley below.

To book, you just need to contact the Wolgan Valley Reservations team on 02 9290 9733 or email reservations@wolganvalley.com.

Summer Days at Kingfisher Bay - Fraser Island

We've found this great deal from Kingfisher Bay Resort on the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island to tempt you away from the city to escape to the beach and bush this Xmas.

Kingfisher Bay Resort's 'Freestyling on Fraser Island' deal includes three nights' hotel accommodation, passenger ferry transfers and daily breakfast for just $376* per person, twin share. 

Guests who book this package will also receive $150* resort credit to spend on their choice of meals, tours or activities while on Fraser Island.  Plus during school holidays our popular Junior Eco Rangers program will keep the kids amused with outdoor activities in a fun environment.

The offer is valid until 15 December 2011 and from 09 January to 04 April 2012.   *Conditions apply.   If you're planning on travelling over Christmas and Boxing Day or planning your New Year's celebrations on Fraser Island, check kingfisherbay.com for the daily deals. 

To book call 1800 072 555 or visit their website for more.

And how about Christmas Day on the World's Largest Sand Island?! On Fraser Island, Santa's more likely to arrive by rural fire brigade truck than by sleigh and the halls aren't decked with holly, but the atmosphere is certainly festive.  Come December 25, Kingfisher Bay Resort's signature Seabelle restaurant will offer a festive degustation experience against a seasonal backdrop of wattle, swamp banksias and native mistletoe, which will be in bloom around the resort. 

Not to be outdone, the resort's popular buffet restaurant Maheno, the Maheno Lounge, the Dingo Deck (outdoors and poolside) and Ballroom will serve up a Christmas lunch laden with seafood and turkey.

And for those wanting more of a casual Christmas atmosphere, the beachside Sand Bar is offering a carvery menu featuring traditional festive favourites alongside fresh garden salads and roast vegetables. 
Christmas Day lunch sittings start from 11.30am.  Prices start from $75 per person (or $30 for children 8-12 years). Day guest prices include marine transfers. For more information call +61 7 4120 3333 or visit their website link here.

Fraser Island is just offshore from Hervey Bay on Australia's east coast and Kingfisher Bay Resort passenger and vehicle ferry services depart daily from River Heads (secure parking is available). 

Virgin Blue and QantasLink provide direct flights to Hervey Bay and the resort operates airport connections.

Please check Kingfisher Bay Resort's Christmas page for changes to the schedule sailing times on December 25. 

Five new holiday properties for the Contemporary Hotels portfolio

With a growing collection of unique and desirable city, coastal and country retreats, Contemporary Hotels offer an experience to suit every style and taste - and they've just announced five new additions to their celebrated group of Luxury Beach House + Villa + Apartments.  All of the fantastic new properties are within easy driving distance of Sydney ... and all of them are absolutely stunning. Here's the lowdown on the latest properties - excuse us while we take a moment to conjure up our next romantic escape!

"Apartment Noir" Darlinghurst, NSW
Apartment Noir is high style apartment living in Darlinghurst. Designed by Belle Magazine's interior designer of the year Greg Natale the decadent interiors offer a luxurious accommodation experience for visitors to Sydney who wish to embrace the local Darlinghurst lifestyle.
"Mending Wall" Mt Irvine, Blue Mountains, NSW
This striking contemporary country residence offers guests a serene and unique mountain experience only two hours from the Sydney CBD.

"Palm Beach Villa" Palm Beach, NSW
The Palm Beach Villa is a magnificent architectural ocean-front villa with views stretching from Palm Beach to the Pacific Ocean and beyond. This is luxury holiday accommodation on a grand scale.

"Barrenjoey Villa" Palm Beach, NSW
Situated on Pittwater's edge in idyllic Palm Beach this beautiful direct beach-front Villa offers the perfect Palm Beach holiday experience

"Bora Bora House" Cottage Point, NSW
Inspired by the luxurious private Island resorts, this extraordinary deep waterfront/beachfront villa is situated in the beautiful Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Just thirty five minutes from the Sydney CBD yet secluded in National Park and flanked by water this award winning property is simply stunning.

Take your pick - the philosophy behind Contemporary Hotels is all about high-end design and sophisticated, contemporary living. A holiday home you'll never want to leave! 

Monday, November 21, 2011

BAR100 - the place to eat and drink at The Rocks in Sydney

Now an exceptionally restored venue, BAR100 is set to be Sydney's definitive destination for stylish entertainment. The grand two toned building constructed in 1856 at 100 George Street in the historic heart of Sydney, The Rocks, BAR100 is an inspiring fusion of old, new and magnificent. Breathtaking cathedral ceilings and bespoke chandeliers make the space striking and indulgent.

With an extensive selection of beverages and cuisine, glamorous surroundings and iconic views, this exciting new venue embodies the very best attributes of the harbour-side city and is home to four chic bars: The main bar, BAR100, and The Chapel are on the ground floor, and equate to party central, while up a glass elevator is an exquisite VIP floor and bar, 1909. 8BROTHERS, The Terrace and The Sunroom, a 120-seater restaurant headed by executive chef, Michael Rantissi, is located on the ground floor and has a relaxed and formal dining atmosphere.

With impeccable service and opulent surrounds, 1909 is pure indulgence. Three lounge areas, which also convert into two VIP areas, make it a haven for those who demand the best away from the prying eyes of the paparazzi. Retire to the balcony and gaze across at the iconic Opera House whilst sipping on a customised cocktail, or savour one of 1909's hand selected cigars. A delicious selection from the executive chef Michael Rantissi's share plates are available all-day and late into the night.

Shared plates such as Moroccan marinated lamb back strap with preserved lemon and saffron cous cous and Fatoush salads with crispy croutons and sumac dressing are expected to be popular items. Some other highly anticipated options are the hand made crispy wood fired pizzas, which include a honey roasted pumpkin base with green olives and grated haloumi cheese; a zucchini topped option with pomegranate molasses, as well as a Dukkah crusted lamb pizza with red harissa, sheep feta, almonds, olives and mint.

Definitely on our go-to list for the next trip to fabulous Sydney!

Luxurious tranquility at Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa

At the newly opened Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa, Anantara's ancient Sanskrit meaning, "without end", is captured by the flow of timeless Chao Phraya River life. It's all about a chic retreat here, right in the heart of bustling Bangkok yet worlds away in peace and quiet! 

Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa lies hidden away in 11 acres of exotic landscaped grounds, right on the banks of Bangkok's mighty river.  And with such a close proximity to the capital's greatest cosmopolitan and cultural attractions, a stay here is assured the very finest mix of memorable experiences.  

Choose from 407 rooms, including 97 suites, which reflect exquisite Thai culture in abstract style inside, and scenic river or lush garden views from private balconies - we're choosing the palatial penthouse of the Suan Luang Suite as the ultimate urban sanctuary for couples wanting a super luxe honeymoon or romantic escape!

Lazy days can be spent at the generous outdoor pool, exchanging a cool dip for the heated Jacuzzi and cocktails at the swim up bar, all the while surrounded by swaying palms, blooming nature and Chao Phraya River glimpses.  For something a little different, you might like to sign up for a Thai cooking class, which begins with a local market trip to pick up the freshest ingredients, and ends by savouring the flavourful creations.  Experience sensual relaxation at Spa, where rituals can be shared side by side in a spacious double suite with a large bathtub, and a private garden courtyard features a rain shower and traditional sala for a little bit of total bliss!

The resort has not less then ten restaurants and bars to dish up culinary diversity, including Trader Vic's, where unique flavours are cooked in Bangkok's only wood-fired Chinese oven, or the Japanese steakhouse Benihana which delivers lively "eatertainment" through theatrical Teppanyaki style.  Savour the Italian way of life in Brio's Tuscan villa setting, or an international buffet and BBQ at Riverside Terrace accompanied by Thai dance performances overlooking the river.  Take in the daily pleasure of sunset cocktails served up on the pier at Longtail Bar, or - highly recommended - step aboard a beautifully restored antique rice barge to dine on delectable Thai cuisine and glide past the city's famous cultural sites with a Manohra Dining Cruise.  For the ultimate in secluded intimacy, Dining by Design invites guests to collaborate with a personal chef and choose an idyllic location, such as a candlelit meal along the river or a picnic under the shade of a banyan tree.

Call upon the resort's experienced concierge to plan tours of compelling attractions short drive from the resort, and use the expertise of this "Streetwise Guru" to find out about unforgettable local experiences ... you can even ask him to be a personal companion for a private back street tour and gain a local's perspective.  Travel in ways that help disover the real Bangkok, taking a thrilling tuk tuk ride through the city's vibrant streets, or boarding a longtail boat to meander the fascinating maze of canals. Uncover the capital's secret highlights by visiting one of Bangkok's oldest markets Talard Plu, the morning market Talard Bangrak to pick up herb and spice souvenirs, or China Town's vast bazaar network of market stalls, street-side cafés, and probably the greatest concentration of gold shops in the city.  Share the Thai people's love of street food for every sense as spicy aromas and masterful cooking displays tempt passersby to street-side tables.  Avoid navigating the city's overwhelming choice and head straight for vendors which have been given a knowledgeable seal of approval by the hotel's Streetwise Guru, meaning that Anantara guests can dine on the very best back street cuisine. 

Experience Bangkok's colourful contrasts and an indulgent waterfront lifestyle, with Anantara as your host. Sounds extremely inviting to us! 

For resort enquiries and reservations, please call +66 (0) 2476 0022 or email  bangkokriverside@anantara.com. For more information, visit the Anantara website.

Look cool in the hot summer with a funky free towel at Vibe Hotels

Due to popular demand, the Vibe towel is back for summer 2012! Made from high quality fabric, the bright and sophisticated lime, purple and black pattern appeals to both guys and girls. The design of the towel encapsulates the character and mood of both Vibe Hotels and the lifestyle of the iconic Australian summer. If you fall in love with your free Vibe towel and need more, it's also available to purchase from the front desk of all Vibe Hotels across Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Darwin. RRP: $30.00.  

All you have to do this summer to score a free Vibe towel is check-in to any Vibe Hotel for two nights or more to chillout, plus Vibe are also throwing in free brekky!

The package* includes:
  • Two nights accommodation in a vibe-rant guest room
  • A scrumptious free full buffet breakfast for two at curve cafe + bar
  • A free Vibe towel - the ultimate poolside accessory for summer 

To book the best online rates guaranteed, check out the Vibe website.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Shisha and cocktails on the beach at The Sandi Phala - Bali

This stunning boutique hotel is set within a shady tropical garden and fronted by a privat white sand beach, just 7 minutes away from the airport. 1st and 2nd story suites and pool suites offer the utmost in comfort and sophistication, while the dining is a real highlight. With sunset views that make for a daily pleasure, The Sandi Phala has taken all opportunity to make every day an unforgettable memory, with the beachfront Ma Joly restaurant that features fine-dining French cuisine, where you can wine and dine to your heart's content while enjoying the incredible sunset colours splash across the sky. Sandi Phala's complimentary Sunset Cocktail and Afternoon Tea Delight prove popular with couples for obvious reason - there's a tempting array of sweet and savoury delights, coupled with an impressive line up of cocktails and a live showcase of jazz music making for a romantic and ambient event. 
The resort's latest addition to the art of the sunset experience is the Shisha On The Beach - partake in the traditional hookah pipe with Mint Tea and optional Asian Tapas to start the evening in a unique style!

Peregrine goes gourmet in China in 2012

There's an old Chinese saying that all good foods are found in Chengdu. But Peregrine's new Gourmet China adventure sets out to prove that - while Chengdu's Sichuan spice is pretty tasty - Beijing's duck, Xian's dumpling feasts, Yangshuo's ethnic minority specialties and Hong Kong's yum cha are just as delicious.

Peregrine's new, 15-day gourmet extravaganza starts in Beijing and includes cooking classes in a variety of regional cuisines, interspersed with the most famous and inspiring sights of China: the Great Wall; the Forbidden City; the Summer Palace; Terracotta Warriors as well as visiting the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base.

The trip contrasts the tranquil, mushroom-shaped, limestone karst mountains of Yangshuo - explored by bicycle - with the frenetic, futuristic cityscape of Shanghai for more than just a 'taste' of China.

The Gourmet China adventure costs $3405 per person, twin share, including transport and accommodation, cooking classes, entry fees, some meals and local Peregrine leader. But for all new bookings made by December 9, for travel in 2012, there is a 10 per cent discount off the land portion, to $3126. There are currently eight departures from Beijing scheduled between May and September, 2012.

For further information and a copy of the new Peregrine 2012 China Central Asia & Japan brochure, contact your travel agent or Peregrine Travel Centre, call 1300 854 500 or visit their website for more details.