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Hiking Switzerland Cycling in France Castro’s Cuba Thailand’s Top 10 Resorts




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Let’s Travel: is published by L T Publishing Limited PO Box 55199, EastRidge, Auckland 1146. New Zealand Ph: + 64 9 521 4879 Editor-In-Chief: Gary Dickson Mob: + 64 21 523 421 Editor at Large: Shane Boocock Mob: + 64 21 142 7040 Editor at Large Gayle Dickson Mob: + 64 21 281 7699


Sales and Marketing: Gary Dickson Mob: + 64 21 523 421


Design and Production: Element Design Limited Ph: + 64 9 636 0558 Contributors: Shane Boocock, John Borthwick, David Boyce, Kathy Cunningham, Mark Devlin, Gary Dickson, Gayle Dickson, Rod Eime et al, Carol Fordyce, Jacqui Gibson, Liz Light, Rob McFarland and Tim Roxborogh

from the editor


s anyone who knows me will tell you…I love history. Delving in to what happened, why it happened, who was involved and where it happened! 2014 has been a pretty momentous year when it comes to historical commemorations and celebrations… • • • • •

10 years since Facebook launched 20 years since the Columbine massacre 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall 60 years since Roger Bannister ran the mile in under 4 minutes And 100 years since the outbreak of WWI

It gets me thinking…where will I be in 25 years and which new destinations will I have been to? Staggering thing is that it was 30 years ago this year that I first set foot on an international flight…and, yet, there are still so many places to go to and things to do. In 2015 the team here at Let’s Travel has already lined up a veritable smorgasbord of tempting destinations that will hopefully help you decide where it is you want to go to create your on “traveller’s history”. New York, Tahiti, Italy, India, Florida, Melbourne and the UK are just a few of the exciting locations we will take you to in 2015, so each and every one of us can continue to tick off our bucket lists…till there are no more places to go. Hopefully that vision of me in 25 years entails lots of cocktails on an exotic island somewhere!!! Live long and prosper! ISSN Number 1176 – 4619 To enquire about permission to copy cuttings for internal management and information purposes please contact the PMCA, Ipayroll House, 93 Boulcott Street, Wellington, phone (04) 498 4488, email Copyright – L T Publishing Limited. No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in any form by any means (graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, information retrieval systems or otherwise) without the express prior written permission of L T Publishing Limited. Opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the authors and not necessarily those of Let’s Travel or L T Publishing Limited. The publisher accepts no responsibility whatsoever.

of the


“Enthusiasm moves the world.” - (Arthur Balfour 1848 – 1930)

South America Amazon, Patagonia, Wildlife, Ancient Civilizations, Iguazu Falls, Tango Dancers, Cuisine

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Take the first step towards the paths less travelled Small Group or Private Group Travel. Family Travel. Responsible Tourism. Climb, Raft, Cycle or Explore South America your way. Unique places, unique experiences!

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contents 6

NEW ZEALAND 88 Queenstown 100 Auckland AUSTRALIA 60 Tasmania 86 Gold Coast 102 Sydney PACIFIC ISLANDS 38 Fiji


46 Samoa 58 Niue 94 Solomon Islands U.S.A. 18 Rhode Island


50 Beverly Hills 68 Wyoming



ASIA 22 Thailand 34 India 54 Bali BEYOND 6 Oman 10 Switzerland 14 France 30 England 42 Peru 64 Cuba


72 Canada OTHERS 76 Inspired Luxury 92 Travel Tip 98 Etihad REGULARS


63 Industry Traveller 104 Giveaways/New Products


Let your kids clamber across palm trees, play amongst golden sands and dive into crystal clear water. Watch them explore rainforests, tropical reefs and traditional villages. Bring your kids to Fiji and let them completely forget about TV. Go to to find out more.

Destination ➜ Muscat, Oman

The Magic of Muscat BEYOND | OMAN

By Gayle Dickson



t’s hot…very hot! I’m thankfully whisked into the air-conditioned comfort of a sparkling BMW that waited just a short walk from the arrivals hall at Muscat airport. I was headed south of the city on my first night, but asked the driver to take it slowly; as this was my first trip to Oman, I wanted to take it all in. My first impressions were of space and, surprisingly, greenery. Aren’t we in desert country? Motorways were lined with manicured lawns and roundabouts all wore colourful blooms. The buildings were low-rise, most in creamy tones with the odd pop of colour bursting between, often from ornate windows and doors that were the jewels in an otherwise monotone crown.

My driver, Ahmed, was a treasure trove of information, pointing out not only the usual tourist things, but also some lesser-known trinkets that he felt would appeal. It seemed he knew who owned nearly every house. As we drove along the Corniche, his chatter became most excited when he saw the Sheik’s motor yacht, Al Said, moored in the harbour. My first experience of being a Western tourist in this Arabian gem came the following morning when my guide for the next week, Mustaffa, collected me from my hotel. Our first stop of the day was the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and, while polite, he was looking askance at my attire. Picking up on his vibe, I questioned him. I was wearing three-quarter pants that stopped just above my ankles and

The Chedi’s Long Pool


As I passed by stalls and shop fronts, I was constantly greeted but not harassed. If I declined an offer to step inside, it was accepted with grace. When I did choose to stop or enter, the shopkeepers were keen to barter. However, I found the prices so reasonable that I couldn’t honestly barter with any glee – I mean, seriously, incredible cashmere pashminas for under $5 each!


a short sleeved t-shirt. Apparently, I wasn’t anywhere near covered enough – those ankles had to go! I donned trousers and a long-sleeved shirt and thanked God once again for aircon! On arrival at the Mosque, I then draped and swirled my lengthy pashmina around my head and shoulders. I sweltered, but it was so worth it! The mosque blew me away! Built to hold 20,000 people worshipping at any given time, its proportions are all on a grand scale, and everything is impeccably maintained. The most eye-catching of all was the over-sized Swarovski crystal and gold chandelier housing over 1,000 lamps and weighing 8 tonnes. The prayer carpet was also impressive, crafted by 600 women in 28 colours. It arrived in 58 pieces and was stitched together on site. The five minarets represent the five rules of Islam, with the tallest measuring 91m in height. The marble flooring was sourced from Italy, and the tiles are all hand painted, not coloured. My curiosity about Islam piqued, I ventured into one of the rooms set aside for visitors. Here, accompanied by traditional coffee and dates, all my questions were answered with deference and patience; no matter what I asked. It was a real eye opener to a peaceful religion, belying the global headlines we constantly read. After my visit to the Mosque, I disrobed to clothing more suitable to the climate, while maintaining a semblance of respectability, and we headed for some serious shopping at Muttrah Souq. Not wanting to impeach on my time, Mustaffa sat at a pavement café and ordered the famed lemonade while I took my cash, and credit card just in case, and headed through the entry into shopping mecca. Long before my eyes adjusted to the dimmer light and could be assaulted by the vibrancy of the wares on sale, the aroma of Frankincense titillated my senses. It has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula for well over 5,000 years and is burnt wherever you travel in Oman. It’s a heady, musky scent that purifies the air.

facts: Gayle flew Business Class to Oman courtesy of Etihad Airways, and with the assistance of the Sultanate of Oman Tourism’s Sydney office. In Muscat, Gayle stayed at Al Bustan Palace – a Ritz Carlton Hotel, and The Chedi Muscat. ➜ ➜ ➜




Royal Opera House

From silver and brass to beads and baubles, each shop was a rainbow of colour and it wasn’t long before my cash had run out and I could simply carry no more. At the Museum I investigated the history of the region, a fascinating journey that took in the culture, clothes, jewels, weapons, boats and a replica village. At the Palace I discovered that the Sultan wasn’t often in residence, and that the flags fly at half-mast when he’s out of the country. I was surprised to count 6 Big M signs between the airport and Muscat City, and even spotted a Nandos and Burger King. I opted, however, to check out the local cuisine, and wasn’t in the least disappointed. The Shuwa is similar to the Maori hangi, where food is wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in the ground. At Kargeen restaurant the buffet lunch included lamb, tarragon chicken, freshly baked flat breads, salads and dips.

Al Riyam Lookout

Muttrah Mosque


The curries are legendary in Oman, with beef Masala accompanied by a yogurt salad my absolute pick. I also discovered an impressive array of sweets, including my new favourite bread pudding, served in a massive chaffing dish at one end of the dessert counter. Also tasty and worth a second serve were the deep fried dumplings liberally laced with syrup! Not worth missing was Halva, a traditional starchy dish that’s loaded with calories, made mainly from rosewater, saffron, cardamom, nuts, ghee and eggs. Recipes for Halva vary enormously and are often a closely guarded secret. And then there was a dish that Mustaffa translated to “Foul Mushrooms” – I’m still at a loss as to where the mushrooms were; it tasted more like a mix of beans and isn’t something I’m going to look for in the supermarket aisle at home! But relax, if it’s Western cuisine you’re after, the hotels and resorts all ply you with ridiculously fantastic lamb, chicken and beef dishes – just don’t expect the usual when ordering bacon; I tried both turkey and beef bacon while there. At one roadside drinks stop, I was bemused by all on offer, so ordered something I at least recognised – ginger beer. When asked if I wanted milk with that, I began to worry. An overly sweet tea arrived, flavoured with ginger. I still have no idea where the beer idea came from! The harsh and unforgiving terrain of Oman belies a soft and gentle culture. Warm, hospitable and generous by nature, the Omani people love nothing better than to welcome visitors to their country. As a first port of call in a rather large slice of Arabia, Muscat completely satisfied my desires. I can’t wait to discover more!


Muttrah Souk

Destination ➜ Switzerland

Six Great Reasons to Visit Zermatt BEYOND | SWITZERLAND

By Shane Boocock



was just shy of my 13th birthday and it was my first overseas trip. Our English school group disembarked the Channel Ferry in Calais and boarded an overnight train that would soon pass through France, Luxembourg and into Switzerland – our destination Zermatt – the year was 1966. I tried on my first pair of ski boots and old-fashioned snow skis that year. It has led to a life-long affair skiing the world over. However, this was the first time I had been back in Zermatt in all those years. Back in those days transport was by horses pulling wooden carts through the cobbled-stone village streets. Times have changed. Today there is a multitude of slim electric hotel shuttles, ‘people movers’ and electric vans for deliveries to prevent air pollution, which could obscure the town’s view of the Matterhorn; in fact the town is a combustion-engine free zone. Zermatt is in the Valais Canton of Switzerland, a Germanic-speaking region bordering Italy; in fact you can ski over the border for the day if you’re so inclined. With 45 peaks over 4,000 m including the famous Matterhorn, it’s no surprise that there is a glacier where it’s possible to ski all through summer. Zermatt in fact welcomes thousands of

Gornergrat Viewing

Swiss Horn Blowers

View of the glaciers

Railways, Gondolas and Cable Cars: Arriving in the Zermatt valley is a rare sight to behold and there is only one way to get there, via the Glacier Express, often referred to as the ‘world’s slowest express train’. The journey in the glass-walled panoramic carriages starts in St. Moritz, the world of the rich and famous. The special red and white train eventually passes through 91 tunnels and over 291 bridges before it finally arrives in the beautiful valley of Zermatt. Efficient mountain railways, chair lifts and gondolas take day-trippers, hikers and snow enthusiasts high above


Local Transport

Matterhorn’s 150th Anniversary in 2015: On 14 July 1865, the first people stood on the top of the Matterhorn. Zermatt mountain guides Peter Taugwalder and his son, also Peter, along with the British mountain climber Edward Whymper. To mark the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, there will be a series of activities for everyone to experience throughout 2015 in the village centre and at the foot of the mountain. The Matterhorn is considered the most photographed mountain in the world and also one of the deadliest. Since 1865 over 500 climbers have met their death trying to ascend its slopes. Visitors from Switzerland and around the world are expected for the open-air performances of The Matterhorn Story on Riffelberg from the beginning of July to the end of August. On the Matterhorn, the newly designed Hörnli Hut will reopen. An epoch week from 10-17 July will provide an impression of how life was in Zermatt 150 years ago. In August, fine-food lovers can enjoy tasty treats during the extended “Swiss Food Festival”. Always the central attraction, visually and thematically will be the Matterhorn.


visitors a day in summer into the town; well kitted-out hikers, as well as snow sports enthusiasts and mountain bikers, but especially those who relish the hiking challenges that the Canton of Valais offers, is it any wonder that the total region has over 8,000 km of marked hiking trails available to choose from? The town of Zermatt, lying at the southern end of the Matter Valley at 1,620 m certainly seems to have a sprinkling of all things intrinsically Swiss, so here are some of the best reasons to visit Zermatt in 2015.



Hotel Riffelberg


The author travelled to and was hosted in Switzerland courtesy of Switzerland Tourism ➜ In 2014, the Swiss Travel System celebrated its 25-year anniversary. The Swiss Travel Pass can be purchased for 4, 8, 15 or 22 consecutive days or one complete month. It includes unlimited travel on all public transportation throughout the country in more than 75 cities, a 50% price reduction off most mountain railways and cable-cars as well as free admission to more than 470 museums. For more information on the Swiss Pass visit: ➜ Train Services in the Zermatt region: Matterhorn Gottard Bahn ➜ Gornergrat Bahn ➜ Glacier Express ➜

the town and into the mountains which feature some of the world’s most sensational views, including Rothorn (3,103 m), Gornergrat (3,089 m) and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (3,883 m), which is the highest mountain railway station in Europe. There are a number of ways to experience the Gornergrat situated at 3,089 m, which opened in 1898, however the first enjoyable part is to take the rack railway (the highest open-air railway in Europe) for a 29 minute ride to the top of Gornergrat where you’ll find Europe’s highest hotel, the Kulmhotel Gornergrat at 3,100 m – the famous author Mark Twain stayed here in 1878. Today, as in Twain’s day, the hotel’s terraces and restaurants reward visitors with some of the best panoramic views of carving glaciers flowing from snow-covered mountain peaks. Hiking and Walking Trips: In general, most attractions are a thirty-minute walk away from the centre of town, including the starting points for hikers attempting the “Haute Route” that leads to Chamonix in France and the Patrouille des Glaciers. Cable cars and chair lifts carry skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer; the highest of them leads to the Klein Matterhorn at 3,883 m

(12,740 feet), a peak on the ridge between Breithorn and Matterhorn that offers spectacular views in all directions. From here it’s possible to cross into Italy via the Cervinia cable car station. Today, Zermatt ranks among the most famous tourist destinations in the Alps. Each summer, the village attracts scores of alpinists who come to climb the 38 four thousand metre peaks surrounding Zermatt. Up to 3,000 mountaineers attempt to conquer the Matterhorn (4,478m) every year. However, Zermatt is also a hikers’ paradise. There are over 400 km of locally posted hiking trails helping guide visitors through this spectacular alpine world, dissecting the town, mountain pastures and around beautiful tarns at the foot of the glaciers. In winter you’ll also find 70 km of hiking trails and four designated snowshoe trails. Mountain Biking and Cycling: Zermatt has over 100 km of various bike trails and cycling paths leading past glacier-fed mountain streams and mystical mountain lakes, through dense forests or cultured vineyards which Valais is famous for. Enthusiasts from leisure cyclists, sports-keen road racers, mountain bikers and downhill speed specialists will inevitably find a bike route that suits them best. Ski Year-round: Zermatt is known throughout the world for its skiing, especially Triftji for its moguls. Skiing in Zermatt is split up into four areas: Sunnegga, Gornergrat, Klein Matterhorn and Schwarzsee. There is also a connection to Cervina and Valtournenche in Italy through the Plateau Rosa glacier. Due to the high altitude, snow sport aficionados enjoy excellent skiing 365 days a year. Summer skiing is limited to the Theodul glacier behind the Klein Matterhorn that provides 21 km of groomed runs. In wintertime, snow sports can be experienced on over 360 km of named pistes in the Zermatt/Italy region, with Europe’s longest decent, 25km from Matterhorn Glacial Paradise to Zermatt. There are also 10 km of classic cross-country trails as well as two toboggan pistes. Culinary Delights: Be welcomed like a pilgrim, eat like a Roman and drink like a vintner. Whether on a sunny terrace or in a homely Zermatt dining room, over 100 village restaurants, over 50 bars and over 50 mountain dining options offer great places to wile away the hours. One unique offering, in summer, is the Gornergrat Gourmet Experience – a moveable feast with a three course offering in three locations; begin with starters at the Kulmhotel, it’s then possible to hike for a few hours down the mountain to enjoy a lunch stop at the oldest mountain hotel in the Alps – Hotel Riffelburg built in 1854, finishing lower down the mountain for a dessert of apple strüdel, thick cream and ice cream at Chez Fredy in the mountain village of Rifflealp. Whatever time of year you visit the Zermatt region, pack your hiking boots or skiing gear and plenty of warm clothing as some of the gondolas drop you off at over 12,000 feet. Also bring along an appetite for adventure as well as culinary delights – the stunning Alpine scenery and 300 days of sunshine will do the rest.


Swiss Travel Pass

The Key to Swiss Public Transport: In Switzerland travelling by public transport is a pure pleasure. A 26,000-kilometre transport network now covered by a single ticket. The Swiss Travel System is your trouble free way to travel on popular panorama train routes, by Post bus (local coach travel) over Alpine passes or across any lake on a boat motorised excursion. The Swiss Pass – more than just a travel ticket: Exclusively for visitors from abroad, the Swiss Travel System has created a selection of special tickets covering virtually every travel requirement. Travelling by public transport is therefore attractive, effective, easy and hassle free.

facts: Swiss Pass: One ticket for the whole country Valid on consecutive or non-consecutive days Free and unlimited travel by train, bus or boat All panoramic routes and trains included (reservations excluded) • Free travel by public transport in 75 cities and towns • Free admission to more than 470 museums • Children under 16 travel free with their parents • 50% discount on most mountain top excursions • 1st and 2nd class travel For more information on the Swiss Travel System visit: ➜ The author travelled to Switzerland courtesy of Switzerland Tourism. For more information on Swiss destinations, events and festivals visit: ➜

Swiss Peak Pass Memorable mountain railway trips, spectacular Alpine views, unsurpassed peak pleasures – for visitors to Switzerland the Swiss Travel System launched in 2014 is an exclusive new attraction, the ‘Swiss Peak Pass’. When purchased in combination with a regular 4-day or 8-day consecutive Swiss Pass, the Swiss Peak Pass provides unlimited access to all the participating mountain trains and/or cable cars and entitles travellers to access lesser-known mountain peaks.


Swiss Travel Pass Not having been to Switzerland in many years I was unaware of the Swiss Travel Pass, a mullti-day ticket offered by Swiss Tourism through Swiss Federal Railways. What I was also unaware of was it also covers all bus journeys and boat trips across Switzerland…now that makes it especially useful as well as great value for money. Add to the fact that if you present your passport with the ticket it is also valid for free entry at over 470 museums. The untouched beauty of the Swiss countryside, cleanliness and unrivalled efficiency along with free travel for kids under 16 on a Swiss Travel System Pass is a perfect formula for many of today’s savvy travellers and families on holiday. It’s all about the quality of service and the savings that can be made that many experienced visitors have known about for years.

Destination ➜ France

À bientôt France BEYOND | FRANCE

By Kathy Cunningham


Bayeux Cathedral


he first flat tyre came just before the rain. We were only ten minutes from our boutique hotel in Bayeux, the Reine Mathilde, and I was tempted to return. Bayeux deserves more time than simply exploring the famous tapestry. Look in awe at the historical architecture while watching the locals wander around the cobblestoned laneways. Been once and I would do anything to return. Bayeux is where you will discover the archetypal French scenes with loaves of baguettes heaped high in woven bicycle baskets, stylish woman walking small dogs and jazz playing softly out of café windows.

We were in Bayeux to experience “Cycle Normandy” with UTRACKS. This self-guided cycle trip provides maps, directions, a spare inner tube and a phone number to call in case of an emergency, and, thankfully, our luggage transferred from hotel to hotel. Thank god, Rob knows how to change a bicycle tyre. Once the tyre was fixed, we were on our way towards The Normandy Coast and our hotel in Caen for the next two nights. We cycled through a narrow lane mirrored with tall corn stalks then out to a large field with a tiny church in the distant corner. I immediately thought we were lost, so was pleased Rob can also read maps!


Caen Cycle

I am not a cyclist and was a bit sceptical about getting from A to B on a bike by cycling up to 60 kilometres each day. But, once we meandered through the villages on towards the fields, and around little towns, I changed my mind and was enamoured by the French Countryside. We stopped for lunch in Arromanches where Winston Churchill built false harbours for allied troops to land on D-Day. Reading about how these massive cement structures were built and seeing them still there as monuments to war are two very different things. I became emotional knowing that only decades ago, the very place we were standing was a war zone. After walking around the village, we returned to our bikes to discover I had another flat tyre!!! Since we already used the one inner tube earlier that morning, we had to call the Emergency number. Our ‘Emergency Man’ was quick to fix my bike and took pity on us, so drove us part way to Caen to help make our journey easy. Cycling in to Caen was magical as we first sited huge coloured flags that sat atop where William The Conqueror’s castle was originally built. When we checked in to Hotel Le Dauphin, a Best Western property, we immediately got out of our wet gear to enjoy one of the most delightful meals of our entire journey. The service, cuisine, décor were all Michelin star quality with the chef regularly changing the menu to highlight local and seasonal produce. We met the most wonderful woman who was three years old when the British landed at Pegasus Bridge to liberate the French. Madame Gondree, whose father owned the café before her, has transformed the café in to a museum where you dine amongst WWII memorabilia. And, since it is situated right next to Pegasus Bridge, it is the perfect place to stop for a lite bite while you learn more about the war.



You would never guess that Madame G is 72 years old and since she took such a shine to Rob she agreed to have her picture taken with him. This was a huge honour as Madame Gondree only allows pictures of her to be taken with war veterans. After enjoying a good steak in Cabourg, the owner of the restaurant asked Rob and I to join him in the bar. He had heard that we were from New Zealand and his son had just returned from Christchurch. He opened several bottles of Calvados, a local apple brandy that he was so proud to share. The owner’s English and our French improved dramatically the more Calvados we enjoyed! My high school French and Rob’s attempt to learn the language with an app on his iPhone was not a deterrent from communicating with the locals. In fact, the moment the locals learned we were kiwis, and that we tried to speak their language, they became very helpful. On our last night in Honfleur, the woman behind the deli counter suggested to Rob that he only speak French to order our dinner. This, of course, proved hilarious and had all the locals in stitches. Being on a bike means that you are so much more immersed in an environment because you are going so slow. That plus your senses are embraced; you can hear children playing, smell the freshly cut fields or bread baking; feel the wind and rain or sunshine. We are so enamoured by this style of holiday that we are wondering where we will cycle next! We were also lucky to travel to and from Paris with our EurRail pass and Rob was like a little kid when we took the TGV from Paris to Reims when we extended our stay in the Champagne Region. Getting around France, or indeed all of Europe, really is so easy by train.


The expert team at UTRACKS will provide details on a walking or cycling holiday in Europe and provide information about pre and post trips. Call them on 0800 350 354, or visit the website ➜ Disclaimer – Kathy is responsible for the PR for World Expeditions and UTRACKS in NZ and thanks her client, as well as EurRail, for giving her the chance to experience the Cycle Normandy trip.

Tourism Authority of Thailand, 137 Sunnybrae Road, Glenfield, Auckland. P: + 64 9 444 2298 W:

Destination ➜ Rhode Island, U.S.A

Upstairs…Downstairs U.S.A. | RHODE ISLAND

By Rob McFarland



ife as the wife of a US coal baron in the early 1900s was a gruelling affair. Every year Sarah Berwind would leave her New York home to spend the season (July 4 to the end of August) at their summer cottage in Newport, Rhode Island. During this eight-week period she would partake in a punishing social schedule of tennis, swimming, golf, yachting and polo, not to mention hosting innumerable parties, concerts and dinners. Some days would require seven outfit changes. Of course, she had help…from 43 staff to be precise. And the “summer cottage” was actually a 50-room mansion that took three years to build. Known as The Elms, it was modelled after the 18th-century Chateau d’Asnieres in

Newport Coastline

France and was used to showcase the Berwinds’ priceless collection of art, ceramics and Oriental jade. It is one of dozens of extravagant homes built in Newport around the late 1800s – the so-called Gilded Age – by some of America’s richest men. Many houses offer tours and the sheer lavishness on display is staggering, but then so was their owners’ wealth. In 1900, Edward Berwind controlled two-thirds of the world’s coal supply. The Elms is unique in that it also has a Servant Life Tour, a behind-thescenes glimpse into where the staff lived and worked. After passing through the staff entrance, a doorway deliberately concealed by thick vegetation on the side of the house, we ascend the back staircase to the staff

facts: Getting there: Qantas flies to Boston via Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth. ➜ Newport is then a 90 minute drive south. The writer was a guest of Qantas and Discover Newport.


➜ ➜

Pan Roasted Pheasant

Elms Sunken Garden

quarters on the third floor. The accommodation is sparse, with bars on the windows to prevent theft and presumably to discourage any shenanigans between male and female co-workers. Staff slept in three or four-bed dorms, unless they were married, in which case they were housed offsite. We visit the room of chambermaid Nellie Lynch Regoli and learn a little about her life. Black-and-white photos show her socialising with her sister, who worked in the laundry, and her sister’s husband, who was an assistant gardener. We also hear about head butler, Ernest Birch, and his wife, Grace Rhodes, who worked as one of the cooks. Given how little free time the staff enjoyed, it’s hardly surprising many ended up marrying colleagues. After admiring the sweeping views of the manicured grounds and Newport Harbour from the roof, we descend into the basement. I try to imagine what it must have been like to repeatedly scale these 82 steps carrying buckets of hot water to fill the mansion’s numerous bathtubs. We pass through the kitchen where rows of cavernous copper pots hint at the industrial scale on which food was prepared. When in residence, the family and their guests would require breakfast at 9am, lunch at 1pm, tea at 5pm and dinner at 8pm. For its time, the kitchen was cutting edge. Food was refrigerated in ice boxes lined with white glass and thick oak doors and there was even an ice maker. Interestingly, the luggage aspirations of the rich and famous have changed little since the Gilded Age. At the end of the tour we pass through a storeroom stacked high with vintage Louis Vuitton trunks.


Elms Dining Room



Overall, it’s an interesting insight into life “below stairs” which is only soured by one thing…our guide. From her disinterested demeanour, I can only assume she’s a descendent of one of the house’s disgruntled scullery maids. Questions are tersely brushed off, explanations are vague and the tour ends abruptly because “it’s time for my lunch”. Dreary guide aside, I’d still recommend it. Just do it before you take the main tour around the house. The outrageous opulence seems even more excessive once you’ve seen how the other half lived. While Newport’s mansions are one of its biggest drawcards, there are lots of other reasons to visit this charming seaside town. For a start it has a historic district with one of the highest concentrations of colonial homes in the US. Notable entries include the White Horse Tavern, the oldest tavern building in continuous use in the country, and the Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere. To get your bearings, hop on a Viking Trolley tour ( This entertaining 90-minute excursion covers the historic district, the spectacular mansions dotted along Bellevue Avenue and the stunning 16-kilometre Ocean Drive coastal route. The sea is an ever-present feature in Newport. Located at the southern tip of Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay, it has coastlines to the west, south and east. Newport Harbour is crammed with fishing boats and pleasure craft and its impressive sailing pedigree earned it the nickname “The Sailing Capital of the World”. The America’s Cup races were held here from 1930 until 1983 when the Aussies finally wrestled it free from the Americans’ grip. A delightful way to explore the bay is on the Madeleine, an elegant 22-metre wooden schooner that leaves from Bannister’s Wharf ( During a relaxing sunset cruise we pass by Fort Adams, a historical fort that dates back to the War of 1812, and Hammersmith Farm, the family estate of Jackie Kennedy. Newport has numerous Kennedy connections – Jackie and JFK married in St Mary’s Church and they spent so much time at Hammersmith Farm it became known as “the summer White House”. Newport is also home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, which in 1881 hosted the first US National Lawn Tennis Championships, the precursor to today’s US Open. Housed in an elegant Victorian building, it has a comprehensive collection of tennis memorabilia, not to mention the world’s oldest continuously used competition grass courts ( While Newport is Rhode Island’s most compelling attraction, there are many reasons to venture out and explore the rest of the state. Despite its confusing name (it’s not actually an island; it’s attached to the mainland and borders Massachusetts and Connecticut), it boasts 100 beaches along more than 640 kilometres of coastline. It also has a burgeoning wine industry, a comprehensive network of bike trails and a vibrant dining scene specialising in seafood. All in all, not a bad effort for the US’s smallest state.

Three more must-see mansions in Newport

The Breakers – arguably the most impressive of Newport’s retreats, this 70-room Italian Renaissance-style mansion was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II in 1895. Highlights include an imposing two-metre-high stone fireplace liberated from a French chateau, an exquisite marble-lined billiard room and a dramatic sweeping staircase.

Rosecliff – commissioned by the extravagantly named silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs, Rosecliff was modelled after the Grand Trianon garden retreat in Versailles. Mrs Oelrichs was famous for her lavish parties so it’s fitting that Rosecliff’s ballroom was used for scenes in the original 1974 version of The Great Gatsby.

Marble House – another Vanderbilt creation, this time by Cornelius’s brother, William, who gave it to his wife for her 39th birthday (somewhat rashly as they divorced three years later). The 50-room property reportedly cost $US11 million, of which $US7 million was splurged on 14,000 square metres of marble. ➜

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Witness the stunning cornucopi breathtaking natural beauty an Glimpse the Maharajas amids charm of an Indian village or

Witness the stunning cornucopia of spectacular landscapes, magnificent historical sites, breathtaking natural beauty and colourful people with a rich 4000 years of culture. Glimpse the Maharajas amidst the ambience of majestic forts and palaces, enjoy the charm of an Indian village or marvel looking at the greatest symbol of love

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Thai-riffic Resorts It’s a delightful argument to have. Name your favourite Thai luxury resort. Okay, maybe your two favourites. Thailand occupies a rare place in the world of hospitality. Multi-stellar hotels and resorts of staggering design and over-the-top luxury with exquisite dining and impeccable service at prices you would pay for a 3.5 star doss house in Europe or Australia. The choice is similarly bewildering, so we tried to demystify the process a little. We locked some of the most widely travelled writers and journalists in a room (okay, a bar) with the orders not to come out until there was a verdict. It was a long rowdy night, lubricated with lots of fine wine but the votes are in. Sure it was highly subjective and emotionally charged, but here is the proclamation.

Our thanks to the panel, which was made up of some of Australia’s finest travel writers: Winsor Dobbin, John Borthwick, Roderick Eime, Briar Jensen, Lara Dunstan, Emma Gardiner, Caroline Gladstone, Gary Walsh, Bev Malzard, Sally Hammond and Julie Miller

Veranda Resort and Spa Hua Hin Cha Am Beach – MGallery Collection


1. The Sarojin



t just came up time and time again and no-one could find a reason to say ‘no’. Maybe it was the ‘no children under 10’ rule? The Sarojin is beautifully set on an 11-kilometre stretch of secluded white sand beach in Khao Lak, 55 minutes by road north of Phuket International Airport. It is surrounded by five spectacular national parks and the world-famous dive sites of the Similan and Surin Islands. Designed in a contemporary Asian style, the five-star resort’s 56 deluxe residences are camouflaged within four hectares of tropical grounds leading directly to the beachfront. Couples can enjoy a beautiful and meaningful experience, with a direct appreciation of traditional Thai

customs as they celebrate their union with a personal spiritual blessing from a Buddhist monk. It’s no surprise to learn that The Sarojin receives continual recognition in prestigious awards. In 2013 Wine Spectator gave it the Award of Excellence for the sixth consecutive year and was named Best Honeymoon Experience Winner in the WTM Travel & Amadeus Travel Experience Awards. The Sarojin also featured in UK Travel Weekly’s Best Boutique Hotels Top 10. This acclaimed property appeared in several ‘Best of’ lists in 2013 including Condé Nast Traveller UK Readers’ Travel Awards, World Luxury Hotel Spa Awards, Trip Advisors’ Best Incredible Hotel Pools and World Travel Awards. ➜

2. Rayavadee at Ao Nang




et among the craggy limestone cliffs and tropical rainforest of Krabi province in Southern Thailand, the Rayavadee is not only very beautiful and secluded, it’s also quite unusual in the sense that it has 98 luxurious pavilions and four beachfront villas, has its own private beach (as well as beachfront access to the public beach) and is only accessible by boat. On the edge of Krabi’s National Marine Park at the heart of the stunning Phra Nang Peninsula, Rayavadee is an award-winning, environmentally conscious resort perfectly located among lush foliage and the emerald waters of the Andaman Sea. In 2012, The ‘Terrace Pavilions’ were opened, offering spacious, two-storey accommodation, each covering a generous 115 m2 and located on the edge of the resort’s free form swimming pool. Situated at the western end of the resort, these modern and dramatic pavilions are only a two-minute walk from the popular Railay Beach. Dotted discreetly around the winding pathways, the pavilions offer privacy in an ideal setting with a dramatic backdrop of jungle-covered cliffs and swaying coconut palms. The one-bedroom Terrace Pavilions remain true to Rayavadee’s signature round, two-story ‘luxury- bungalow style; but with a contemporary take on the traditional design that features an open and airy ground floor living plan with tropical décor and glass doors that open onto a breezy terrace. The terrace is perfect for outdoor lounging and relaxation as well as for private barbecue dinners surrounded by lush palms and garden greenery. A Leading Hotel of the World property, Rayavadee boasts award-winning architecture, fine cuisine, a luxurious relaxation spa and its own fleet of speedboats for excursions to the surrounding islands. ➜

3. Indigo Pearl


ust behind the sweeping beach at Nai Yang and close to Phuket’s only national park, Indigo Pearl is a tremendous spot to wind down for a few days. It is a modernist resort from design maestro Bill Bensley, who has drawn on the island’s tin mining history for his inspiration; creating a self-contained resort with industrial installations combined with greenery, three pools (two for adults only), a large range of food and beverage options and a luxurious spa. There is also an excellent and very professionally equipped, Thai cooking school on site. Awarded ‘Asia’s Leading Design Hotel’ at the 2012 World Travel Awards, the Indigo Pearl is situated within its own tropical gardens where lush lagoons juxtapose post-modern art. The property is located on Phuket’s sheltered northern shore, an easy 10 minutes from Phuket International Airport. The ‘all villa and suite’ property also offers eight restaurants and bars, a private beach club, library, tennis courts, ‘TinBox’ kids’ club, award-winning COQOON Spa, and conference facilities. A host of leisure facilities both on land and sea can also be arranged. Opened in 2007, the luxury resort is ever evolving and in December 2011, Indigo Pearl unveiled new individually designed, private pool villas – including the largest villa on the island – setting a new benchmark for accommodation in Phuket. Raw beauty. Bold designs. Luxury unhindered. ➜


4. The Four Seasons Koh Samui


erched high on a Koh Samui jungle hillside and looking out on “creation” in the form of a glorious Gulf of Thailand morning, birdsong, prolific greenery, a private beach, breakfast with serenity and, later, dinner with a splash of Thai folk dance. Yes, pretty much the package that you might dream of for a Thai island holiday. Not cheap of course, but then again there are no next-door yahoos or bucket-skulling boozers jamming your airwaves. Throw in a taster lesson in Muay Thai boxing, a few hours on that white sand beach and then a name-your-poison sundowner, and there’s not much that touches time out of time here. (Except perhaps some of the best Thai food in the world at the Spice Market in the Four Seasons’ Bangkok mothership.) At Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, each spa treatment begins with the ceremonial striking of a special bowl, creating vibrations that bring the guest into a relaxed and meditative state; after the treatment, another bowl is similarly sounded to gently prepare the body and mind to leave the spa.

Based on the theory that the body is influenced by the earth’s gravity and that the water in our cells vibrates at frequencies in relation to the earth, the concept of “singing” bowls has been applied by diverse groups from NASA astronauts to Olympic athletes. As different bowls made of iron, copper, zinc, gold, silver, lead or mercury are struck, the sound corresponds to different chakras, or specific zones of the body such as the heart, navel or crown. With 88 pools and a private beach, water is an important feature at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui. Each villa includes chic al fresco living spaces with a private infinity pool; what could be more natural than using water as a gentle wake up call to ease guests into a new day on the island? Monkey water spouts at each pool start splashing at 9 a.m., slowly drawing guests from slumber to awakening the perfect way to start the day. ➜



Chakrabongse Villas, Old Bangkok




n Bangkok, a former palace has added its own boutique accommodation. With absolute riverfront location this was where Prince Chula Chakrabongse, schooled in England and married to an English wife, and their family lived in the early 20th century and opposite Arun Wat. It proved the ideal location, just a short distance from the Grand Palace and its ceremonies. One of his descendants still lives in the main house and she has been responsible for bringing the family’s story to the world with her books. The property’s restaurant on the river’s edge serves royal family recipes and Chakrabongse Villas’ rooms show elegant restraint. As in the homes of more affluent Thais, the walls are Thai teak, the bedspreads…silk. A bathroom, lounge and dressing room completes the River View villa, along with a day bed and outdoor terrace from which to view the passing river entertainment. The Thai House is a traditional Ayutthaya–style teak house on stilts, situated in the main garden and rebuilt with modern facilities. The romantic, double room has a private veranda with day bed overlooking the Danny Lane sculpture pool and surrounded by trees and the sound of birds. Chinese Suite (highly recommended), comprising two double rooms, ensuite, living room and two private terraces is situated in a separate building overlooking the swimming pool and furnished with fine antique Chinese furniture and doors, modern prints and fabrics, the private seclusion of this suite is ideal for a family. ➜

6. 137 Pillars, Chiang Mai


o called because of the number of teak pillars on which the house was built, the immaculately renovated structure now hosts the restaurant, bar and lounge of the property and transports guests back to a time of colonial opulence, when the ways of England were the ways of the world. Like so many grand old houses around the world, it nearly fell into total disrepair and locals were already calling it Baan Dam, or “black house”. In 2002, Bangkok-born Panida Wongphanlert was looking for a property in which to retire from the frenetic pace of Bangkok. She was shown many sites, but the black house kept haunting her. The restoration involved removing the house from its pillar foundation and building new, concrete ones. During this process odd relics kept appearing; an Edison light bulb, crockery fragments, ornate wooden carvings, bottles and even a bathtub. All of these curiosities are now displayed under the main house next to the gym in a kind of ad hoc museum. The 30 suites stand a respectful distance from the house and were all scratch-built. They range from the 20 entry-level Rajah Brooke Suites (at 70sqm) through the six East Borneo Suites (75sqm) to the premium two William Bain Terrace Suites (100sqm) and two Louis Leonowens Pool Suites (135sqm). All display exquisite décor including 400-thread count linen enveloping the four-poster beds and reams of Jim Thompson silk embellishing the walls and windows. Each suite has a private library, espresso machine and party-sized day bed on the balcony or veranda. The original house hosts The Dining Room, Drawing Room and Jack Bain’s Bar, named in deference to the last owner, whose prominent family preserved the house since the demise of The Company and all foreign traders in 1960, when Thai natural resources were nationalised. Swing by The Spa then take high tea in a wicker chair on the verandah before adjourning for dinner and exquisite contemporary Thai cuisine. Finish the day with a cognac and cigar. ➜


7. The Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi


itting in the spa bath on the deck of your suite, or lying in bed with the curtains open, the view to the amazing limestone rock formations - called karsts - takes your breath away. The suite is the ultimate room with a view. Everything about this resort, tucked away on a quiet beach, is superb from the serene spa to poolside cafe. Set in its own bay, with exceptionally spacious accommodation, exceptional views and an extensive range of facilities, the resort is an exclusive hideaway for couples and families. Lush tropical greenery, a 500m beachfront with superb views of verdant limestone formations and towering rocks define the sumptuous setting of this five-star resort. Retaining a traditional Thai architectural style and designed as a cluster of low-rise buildings and villas, the resort has 192 luxury garden view and ocean-facing rooms and private villas with total living space ranging from 72 to 399 square metres. All guestrooms have a furnished balcony or terrace and most room categories offer the option of a king-size bed or two double beds, which are ideal for families. Spa rooms and pool villas are opulent retreats offering spacious living area and, respectively, an outdoor Jacuzzi or a private pool. The beachfront villas feature an extensive terrace, lounging and dining areas, and luxurious amenities that provide all the comforts of home. The Club offers exclusive facilities and services including access to the private Club Lounge, with five meal presentations served daily, concierge services and complimentary wireless internet access. ➜


8. Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, Chiang Rai




t might be well worn now and not too bright and shiny, but this property still has the warm patina of genuine hospitality. The exotic location at the junction of three countries is ripe for exploration and the property’s program to save and nurture elephants a true altruistic exercise. One of the stars of Thailand! Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp is ideally located at the convergence of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, and is a Chiang Saen hotel near the northern city of Chiang Rai and its airport. The resort sits on a lush hillside on the Thailand side of the border, looking out over the romantic landscape that has been inspiring writers and artists for centuries. A true highlight of Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort is the renowned onsite Elephant Camp, which offers unforgettable adventures and experiences with a cast of gentle giants. Established in 2003, The Elephant Camp works alongside the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation to perform street rescues, provide employment and a comfortable lifestyle for elephants and their entire mahout families, and to participate in bigger picture projects. The camp supports more than 25 elephants and 60 people, and is proudly fully funded by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and guest donations. The combination of crisp Thai silks, teakwood floors and romantic terrazzo tubs big enough for two make Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort the perfect hotel in Chiang Rai. All rooms come equipped with spacious balconies, a king bed, down duvets and a superior range of amenities including bathrobes and leather compendium sets. The location in the heart of the Golden Triangle means stunning views across the Mekong River and out across the resort’s impeccable landscaped gardens. ➜

9. Anantara Rasananda, Koh Phangan


lobally renowned for its famous “Full Moon” festivities, Koh Phangan is also home to isolated, tranquil hideaways and abundant natural beauty. Secluded on this idyllic island, Anantara Rasananda is an oasis of 64 villas and suites set along the pristine sands of Tong Nai Pan Noi beach on the northeast coast of Koh Phagnan. Tucked away in the gardens and sea, it may feel years away from the rest of the world but the resort is only a 30 minute speedboat ride from nearby Koh Samui. Anantara Rasananda is the ideal beach hideaway where romantic barefoot grandeur defines the ultimate tropical experience. Luxurious villas and suites blend effortlessly into breathtaking surrounds, each contemporary in design with private plunge pool and stunning sea views. An Ocean Pool Villa is Thai luxury at its finest with beachfront plunge pool, private courtyard and acres of space. Facilities include a beautiful beachfront infinity swimming pool and a world-class spa, where treatments incorporate ancient herbal remedies. There are also water sports in abundance including diving, snorkelling and sailing to nearby islands. Thai cookery classes teach you the secrets of delicious cuisine. In the evening, head to Bistro @ the Beach to dine alfresco under the stars while a blend of local techniques and Michelin trends combine to offer truly memorably dining. For post-dinner drinks, the Lounge is a cosy environment offering a connoisseurs’ collection of wines and champagnes. In-Villa dining is also available for those who want a home-away-from-home experience as well as Dining by Design at exotic beachfront locations with menus and wines tailored to your tastes. ➜



10. Veranda Resort and Spa Hua Hin Cha Am Beach – MGallery Collection


ccor’s MGallery collection of memorable hotels is fronted by brand ambassador, Kristin Scott Thomas, the gorgeous Anglo-French actress who has more charm in her fingernail than most of us put together. She says the MGallery hotels are “a collection of strong personalities and sharp, strong styling but still elegant, like invitations to discover the new and the unexpected.” MGallery is Accor’s experiential brand where the French accommodation giant seeks to identify properties with original character and personality. Each hotel, states Accor, is inspired by one of the three themes of the Collection. Some hotels offer ”Heritage”, places filled with history; others reflect an aesthetic universe, a style, the “Signature” of a person who inspired their vision; still others promise a relaxing refuge, “Serenity”, in a natural or urban retreat. Located on the finest beachfront and situated in lush tropical Feng Shui gardens, the ‘Serenity’ label clearly applies to this resort. The Veranda Resort and Spa Hua Hin Cha Am Beach is a hip boutique retreat designed to inspire the eye and the soul. Contemporary Asian design and furnishings created by local craftsmen and generous modern amenities blend elegantly to deliver gentle comfort. 118 sleek open plan guest rooms, free form infinity pool, two restaurants, three bars, fitness centre, spa and state of the art conference and meeting rooms. ➜

Destination ➜ Leeds, England

The Knightsbridge of the North BEYOND | ENGLAND

By Shane Boocock


Whitelock’s Pub

City Markets


his issue, in our build up to the Rugby World Cup, we look at Leeds, which will play host to the Italy v Canada game on September 26th 2015 as well as Scotland v Americas 2 the following day. There is something for everyone in Yorkshire from vibrant cities to market towns, historic buildings to shopping malls and Victorian arcades, and if you want to find it all in one place, then Leeds is the city. Yorkshire’s unofficial capital is easy to enjoy and ripe to discover, with a very walkable neat city centre and lots of exciting developments to see. Not forgetting that Leeds is also well endowed with sporting venues across a wide variety of sports – my father had even been a professional billiards player at the city’s famous gentleman’s institution, The Leeds Club. A rare bonus is that within minutes of the city centre you can also travel into some of England’s finest countryside.

Corn Exchange

Destination Profile: A rich industrial heritage (there are more listed buildings in Leeds than any other English city outside London), including historic markets and shopping arcades, is matched by a vibrant contemporary energy fuelled by fresh investment and some 250,000 students. The city’s great strengths are its welcoming residents, eclectic shops, independent bars and rave review restaurants, along with many free attractions that all combine to make Leeds the perfect short break destination. International Connectivity: Leeds Bradford International Airport lies just eight miles north of the city, with direct flights from 13 UK destinations and 64 international destinations.

Domestic Connectivity: Leeds is one of the country’s most accessible cities. Frequent, direct trains carry visitors from London to Leeds in just over two hours, with all other UK cities easily reached by train. National Express coaches run from a host of UK destinations too. Travelling by car? Leeds is at the crossroads of the M62 and M1 with the A1/M1 link, so it’s easy to reach from any direction.

31 Victorian Shopping Arcade

Picturesque Countryside: Surrounding Leeds are The Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors and of course the Peak District, all extremely popular if you are a hiker, cyclist or climber. Away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Leeds, lie the cobblestone streets of Haworth, a village and its surrounding area that inspired the famous Bronte sisters… their home, Bronte Parsonage, remains largely unchanged today.


Sporting Prowess: In 2014 Leeds was honoured to host the start of the Tour de France, so it is not surprising sport is integral to life in this part of Yorkshire with cricket, rugby, rugby league, football and horse racing all having major courses or well-known grounds such as Elland Road and Headingley. It is the home of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Leeds Rhinos rugby league team and Leeds Carnegie rugby union team.

Recommended Leeds Pubs: Whitelock's, built in 1715, and with its current famous interior dating from the late 1800s, is the oldest public house in Leeds. The pub serves a wide selection of real ale and craft beers – many from Yorkshire breweries – alongside a menu of fresh, home-cooked and locally sourced food available seven days a week. ➜

The Midnight Bell is located in Holbeck’s Urban Village and is Leeds Brewery’s flagship pub, hosting a number of guest ales alongside the local Leeds craft ales, plus an excellent food menu in a venue which has taken its historic foundations and built upon this to develop a modern industrial style. ➜

Town Hall Tavern is a historic Leeds venue, dating back to 1926. Traditionally, it was used by solicitors and policemen who would sit on one side of the pub preparing for their cases, with the accused making the most of what could have been their last moments of freedom, drinking on the other side. Town Hall Tavern is the perfect choice to relax with fresh, locally sourced British food, quality cocktails, fine wines and traditional cask ales. ➜

Elland Road

facts: Angelica Restaurant ➜ Avis Car Hire ➜ Crafthouse Restaurant ➜ DoubleTree by Hilton ➜ united-kingdom

Filmore & Union Restaurant ➜

Henry Moore Institute ➜ Leeds & Partners ➜


Leeds Art Gallery ➜

Great Victoria in 1989 was given special recognition by Leeds Civic Trust for its ‘splendid Victorian features and contribution to city life’. Built in 1865, the ‘Vic’ accommodated people attending the Assizes Court at Leeds Town Hall. It offered 28 bedrooms, dining rooms, private sitting rooms, a billiard room, and public meeting rooms. ➜ thevictoriahotelgreatgeorgestreet

Stew and Oyster is the place to be in summer. Sitting, drinking with friends under a willow tree on the riverside, this little pub has bags of personality with exposed brickwork, steel beamed ceilings and it boasts one of the best (if not the best) balcony views in Leeds. A home away from home in the city with tons of space to relax and unwind in and enjoy the occasional oyster or stew – the only options on the menu. ➜ ➜

Leeds City Museum ➜ Leeds Elland Road ➜ Leeds Headingly Stadium ➜ Leeds Rugby ➜ Leeds Town Hall ➜ Livin’ Italy ➜ The Leeds Club ➜ Yorkshire Cricket ➜


Henry Moore Institute

Town Centre

Top 10 Visitor Attractions:

Go sword fighting: Bringing 3,000 years of warfare to life, see demonstrations of everything from sword fighting to jousting, alongside a sprawling collection of ancient weaponry from the Tower of London at the world-class Royal Armouries.


Celebrate sculpture: Celebrating the Leeds College of Art’s most famous graduate, the Henry Moore Institute is one of the city’s cultural highlights, part of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle and boasting the largest sculpture collection in Europe. The Institute is housed in a modern extension adjacent to Leeds City Art Gallery, which itself boasts a fine collection of work by 19th and 20th century British painters.


Enjoy a beer: Leeds was home to the Tetley brewery for almost 200 years and has a long tradition of beer production and drinking. Try the city’s own ales: Leeds Pale, Yorkshire Gold, Leeds Best and Midnight Bell from the Leeds Brewery. There are a number of fine watering holes to choose from, from the ornate Edwardian interiors of Whitelock's (the city’s oldest pub which opened in 1715), to the trendy bars of the Corn Exchange Quarter.


Pick up some designer treats: Leeds city centre is easy to get around on foot, perfect for dedicated shoppers. The ornate Victoria Quarter, housed beneath stained-glass ceilings, is home to designer brands including Vivienne Westwood, Louis Vuitton and The Kooples, as well as the designer Harvey Nichols. Leeds city centre has over 1,000 shops to choose from.

Meet the market traders: For a unique Leeds experience, head to Kirkgate Market one of the largest covered markets in Europe. It’s the heart of the city’s retail heritage and home to 200 stalls, including a Polish delicatessen, a Chinese supermarket and an Asian bazaar. Try Café Moor for an authentic taste of the Middle East.


Search for owls: The Leeds Owl Trail, a self-guided walking tour where you spot owls intricately carved into 25 city centre attractions, was created by a local artist to provide visitors with a fun way of learning about Leeds’ rich heritage.


Wander: Leeds is mainly a pedestrianised city centre, which makes meandering around the city one of the best things to do. Spend some time taking in the grand Victorian facades, the vibrant network of covered arcades and cobbled alleyways down by the Leeds & Liverpool canal.


Spot the meerkats: Situated in the stunning Roundhay Park, one of the largest parks in Europe, Tropical World is one of the country’s most popular garden tourist attractions. There’s wildlife galore, including meerkats, crocodiles, terrapins, birds, butterflies, fish and exotic insects.


Take in a slice of British history: Kirkstall Abbey is one of the most complete Medieval Cistercian Abbeys in Britain. Enjoy the breathtaking architecture from the luscious green park that surrounds it, and take a trip to the on-site visitor centre to learn about the history.


Catch a show: Leeds is home to several outstanding theatres, so catch a show while you’re in town. Choose from The Grand, home to the internationally acclaimed Opera North and the Northern Ballet, The West Yorkshire Playhouse, Carriageworks or the charming Leeds City Varieties Music Hall.

Rugby World Cup 2015. England. 11 host cities, 48 matches, 20 nations, over 44 days. September 18 - October 31, 2015

Visit England and be part of the game.





Leeds is a diverse city with a number of attractions, so there’s something to suit everyone. They have an abundance of galleries including White Cloth Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute, home of the Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle. The Cultural Quarter is also home to a number of internationally renowned museums, including Leeds City Museum. The city also boasts the Royal Armouries, the UK’s museum of Arms and Armour and several theatres, including The Grand, home to Opera North and the Northern Ballet.


Destination ➜ India


In Buddha’s footsteps Words and images by Liz Light


he early morning is the loveliest time in Dodhgaya. The fields are intensely green, the rice leaves each have a diamond tip of dew, the shadows are long and the sun is soft. The 80-foot (24 metres) statue of Buddha is the colour of honey and has a soft, gentle appearance that belies the fact that it is made of solid stone. His eyes are closed and his lips have an enigmatic smile. Buddha died at the grand age of 80, a long life considering it began 2,580 years ago. The height of the statue represents each year of his life. There is a bird sitting on top of his curly-haired head, squirrels in the trees around and, as yet, no pilgrims to admire it. But the Mahabodhi Temple, one kilometre away, is busy in a quiet way. There are numerous monasteries adjoining the temple and monks and nuns wake well before sunrise and come here to meditate. The atmosphere is divine; gentle and mesmeric chanting over loud speakers, a large and perfectly groomed

garden with many big shady trees and plenty of places where people sit cross-legged and meditate as they greet the new day. This is the world’s most important Buddhist site as it was at this place, sitting underneath a Bodhi tree, that Buddha attained enlightenment. His wisdom didn’t come easily. Siddhartha, his pre-enlightenment name, was born a prince in the Hindu Vedic tradition, and had a life of privilege, but, aged 36, he rejected his lush material world, knowing that material things did not bring happiness, and became an aesthete. He practiced extreme austerity for six years then realised that living in a cave and slowly starving to death was not going to be universally helpful. He came down from his hill-top cave and tried the middle way to enlightenment, a path of moderation away from the extremes of material self-indulgence and aesthetic self-mortification.


Yes, it’s amazing to be here, the very place where Buddha found enlightenment, and to stand under the same tree, vast now with wide-spreading branches. Buddha’s enlightenment, a philosophical realisation, and subsequent intellectual treatises changed the way most of Asia thinks about life, happiness and death. His philosophies influenced Christ 500 years later and still have major traction in modern spiritual thinking. The Bodhi tree snuggles up to the Mahabodhi Temple’s 55-metre tower. It was built 200 years after Buddha passed-on by Emperor Ashoka, an ardent Buddhist convert. There is a glowing gold statue of the Buddha inside the main tower – it’s a bit razzle dazzle for my liking – but the overall complex, with its towers, stupas, paths, trees and ponds is a sublime place and has perfect ambience to commemorate a man whose philosophies still influence the world in a good and peaceful way. I would like to stay longer - this is an exceptionally special place - but I’m a spiritual tourist, a dilettante, and though Buddhist philosophies resonate, and I admire Buddha’s intellectual immensity, I’m still stuck in the material world…plus I have a bus to catch to go to the next site on the Buddhist trail. The wanderings of Buddha are well catalogued; where he was born, where he died, the cave he stayed in during his aesthetic phase, where he began teaching and where he started a university. He travelled widely through the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, teaching his philosophies and gathering a following; his ideas of


“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” – Buddha



equality were popular in the caste-dominated society and his philosophy of peace was appealing in a land beset by wars. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are two of the poorest states in India but, as Buddha will attest, poverty is a relative concept. Because Bihar is poor it is also undeveloped. Men with sun-browned torsos, bare feet and turbans plough fields using pairs of oxen and tend bamboo fish-traps where the Phalgu River divides into tendrils. Women carry water from wells in pots on their heads, harvest vegetables in wicker baskets and cook outside using cow-patty fuelled fires. In many ways Bihar is little changed since Buddha lived here. The two-hour journey to Nalanda is a treat and, in a modern air-conditioned bus, it’s like zooming through a time warp. We pass a sea of green rice fields, little villages and towns where vegetable stalls display the abundance in post-monsoon Bihar, a festival where dancers have their heads covered in vermillion powder, and the river which we cross and pass alongside is pretty and full of Himalayan summer rain. One of Buddha’s oft-quoted phrases, “It is better to travel well than arrive,” comes to mind but, actually, our destination is interesting. Nalanda was one of the first big universities of the world with students from China, Tibet, Japan, Sri Lanka, Greece and Persia travelling here for the Buddhist learning it offered. It spread over 14 hectares, had 11 monasteries and five temples and, at times, it had 10,000 students. It operated for five hundred years until a massive fire, schisms between different


Buddhists sects and an insurgence of Hinduism challenged it. It was finally destroyed by a Mogul Islamic invasion in 1179. Now only a quarter of it has been excavated from the surrounding jungle. It’s a mass of orderly red-brick ruins, tidy paths, trimmed grass and shade trees. The most vulnerable of the archaeological finds are in the museum across the road; Buddha figures, exquisite bronzes and beautifully carved columns. In nearby Venuvana Vihara the first Buddhist Monastic order was set-up a year after Buddha’s enlightenment; it’s still a monastery. The local king was an early convert and he gave Buddha a parcel of land with a large pond and a bamboo grove. The bamboo grove is still there and the large pond is now square with steps leading into it and fountains merrily splashing in the middle. It’s sweet to know that the great sage slept in this bamboo grove, bathed in the pond and taught here. The last stop for the day is a modern Peace Pagoda, a white, perfectly round, stupa on top of a mini-mountain. It’s accessed by a funky chair lift, a “chair car” our guide calls it. The single metal chairs being brightly painted the Buddhist colours (blue, black, white, red, green, and yellow) make a bright line as they slowly swing upwards. The marble-clad stupa glows in the low light and as I walk slowly around it the sun, a giant red orb, loses itself in the smoke from a million cooking fires and the dust of Northern India. It’s been a long day, but an enlightening one, travelling in the footsteps of Buddha.

Getting there: Singapore Airlines flies from Auckland to both Delhi and Kolkata every day. ➜

There are regular domestic flights from both Delhi and Kolkata to Gaya, a short distance from Bodgaya, or Patna, Bihar’s state capital 90 kilometres away. Stay at Delhi Airport: Many flights to NZ and Australia leave early in the morning so better to stay the last night at Delhi airport. The traffic can be challenging. Hotel Ibis Delhi Airport has the best swimming pool and most comfortable beds in all India. ➜

Organise it: Exotic Holidays can tailor-make a reasonably priced India programme for you including flights to and from India and internal flights. Rahul, who owns the company, is a Kiwi. He knows what New Zealanders enjoy and is also widely networked in India. ➜

When: October through to March. The other six months of the year are either too hot or too wet. ➜


facts: PACIFIC ISLANDS | FIJI Destination ➜ Lomani, Fiji



A Lasting Memory By Carol Fordyce '


ranquil’ and ‘luxurious’ are the first adjectives that spring to mind when describing Lomani Island Resort. From the moment we arrived, we felt as though we had landed on the ultimate island paradise. “Lomani” means love in Fijian, and whether you’re getting married on the beach, celebrating your honeymoon or commemorating a special wedding anniversary (as we were), you are sure to fall in love with this stunning resort. This adults’ only boutique resort is located on Malolo Lailai Island, 15km west of Nadi International Airport and a 50-minute trip by boat. We checked in at Port Denarau, said a temporary goodbye to our suitcases and boarded the Malolo Cat IV, ready to head off on our tropical adventure. Moving up to the adults only area on the top deck, we found plenty of seats and a great vantage point to watch Port Denarau disappear into the distance as we cruised on velvety-calm seas, although one teenage passenger did turn green before we’d left the marina. We disembarked in the 32ºC heat at Plantation Island Resort wharf where our friendly driver, Ziggy, transported

us the short distance to Lomani in his “Bula Bus”. We were greeted with island songs and a very welcome cold fresh coconut drink and cool towel. Sereanna, our receptionist, walked us past the beautiful swimming pool complex and along to our Beachfront Bure where our bags were already waiting for us. She carefully explained all the facilities available, showed us where to find the important things like the mini bar and how to work the TV and air-conditioning, and then left us to settle in. The Beachfront Bures were amazing. The overall impression was of an airy, spacious room with beautiful tropical décor. There was a very large king-sized bed, and a lounge area complete with a comfortable couch and armchair, the aforementioned minibar and a TV. There’s also a hard drive with a large quantity of movies to choose from, and you can borrow DVDs from the front office. Mobile phone coverage was no problem, and wi-fi is also available. The complimentary basket of fresh fruit and sparkling wine went into the fridge, and the two Lomani sulus we found in the Lomani beach bag were tried on (or should that be tied on?) amid much hilarity.




The sizeable bathroom consisted of a long vanity unit with twin basins, a spacious tiled shower with a separate toilet, and lots of large fluffy white towels and bathmats. Lomani also provides heavenly Pure Fiji toiletries – my personal favourites were the Frangipani Body Lotion and the Starfruit soaps. To top off our luxury, we also had an outdoor shower, complete with bathrobes…but, hey, who needs these when you have your own private shower under the warm blue skies! We stepped outside onto our sundeck and gazed at the lovely sea views of the bay. Although the sun loungers and deckchairs looked inviting, the crystal clear water beckoned. Changing into swimsuits and grabbing the beach towels provided, we dashed to the end of our garden, onto the sand and straight into the wonderfully warm ocean - after arriving directly from a Kiwi winter, this was truly blissful. After our swim, it was time to unpack our bags and explore all Lomani had to offer. Complimentary facilities include kayaks, glass-bottomed kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, windsurfers, bicycles, snorkelling equipment, a gym, and the 35 metre freshwater swimming pool complete with what my other half christened “the cuddle couches”. These are covered two-person poolside beds – just the place to spend time between swims, sipping tropical cocktails while reading a favourite novel. Yes, Lomani also has a small library available to guests. Wet beach towels are exchanged for dry towels at Reception whenever you choose, and there’s a daily laundry service and an evening turndown service, complete with chocolates. Other complimentary tours and activities include the daily outer reef snorkelling trip, and the weekly Dolphin Safari tour, guided Village Tour, guided Island tour, handline fishing trip, coconut husking demonstration, kava ceremony, sulu-tying lesson (we should have done this first), basket weaving lesson, the Manager’s Cocktail Party on Wednesdays and the wonderfully relaxing beachside massage.

You can also walk 10-minutes to Lomani’s sister resort, Plantation Island, where you‘re able to charge food and drinks directly to your room. Number One for us was definitely the reef snorkelling trips, competently run by our Fijian boatman – the variety and colours of sea life in the clear warm waters was astounding. Clownfish (think Nemo), angel fish in a multitude of vibrant colours, brilliant blue neons, anenomes, blue starfish, and the pink and cream and blue tipped corals were just some of the highlights. Flame Tree Restaurant is set amidst the coconut palms and under the large flame tree, hence the name, overlooking the sea and neighbouring island. A full American breakfast is included in your tariff and the fresh fruit, especially the pawpaw and pineapple, were at their tropical best. I fell in love with the omelettes (five choices of fillings) on the first day, and couldn’t go past them for the rest of our stay.




As well as the a la carte evening menu in the restaurant, you can arrange to have a special table on the beach for that romantic dinner for two, with the sound of the ocean waves gently lapping against the shore as the sun goes down. A bottle of French champagne, a delicious meal complete with a surprise “Happy Anniversary” dessert, and a love song serenade by the band all added up to an incredible occasion that we will never forget. Lomani caters for weddings, whether for large or small groups, or just the bride and groom, as we witnessed one balmy afternoon. This petit Japanese bride, pretty in a sky-blue dress, ascended the wedding “throne” which was then carried on the shoulders of four burly Fijians down to the beautifully decorated beachfront altar where she and her groom were married; they’ll no doubt live happily ever after given their fairytale island ceremony. All too soon it was time to bid farewell to the friendly staff at Lomani, leaving us with a lasting memory of gentle breezes, calm seas, a temperate climate and smiling faces amid a luxurious tropical paradise.


Destination ➜ Cusco, Peru



The Inca Empire of the Sun Words and images by Shane Boocock


usco is a city that was the centre of the Inca Empire from 1438 to 1532; a place the Spanish Conquistadors in the ‘Age of Exploration’ wanted to conquer in their quest to introduce Christianity to the population and to procure the precious yellow metal that meant so much to the Spanish Empire…gold. The first Spaniards arrived in Cusco on 15 November 1533. Their leader Francisco Pizarro officially arrived in Cusco on 23 March 1534. Soon after the city was completely conquered. Today, many buildings and districts constructed after the Spanish invasion have a Spanish influence mixed with Inca indigenous architecture, including

the Santa Clara and San Blas neighbourhoods. During their reign the Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. However, they also used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of their new city. Not surprisingly Cusco stands on layers of cultures, with the Tawantinsuyu (the old Inca Empire) built on Killke structures, the Killke people occupied the region from 900 to 1200, prior to the arrival of the Incas in the 13th century, and then the Spanish replaced indigenous temples with Catholic churches, and palaces with mansions for the invaders. An hour after flying out of Amazonia we were winding our way through the streets of Cusco, a city of 500,000

facts: Shane Boocock travelled to Cusco courtesy of World Expeditions. For more information about their worldwide tour programs visit: ➜

For lightweight sturdy travelling cases look at the new range of American Tourister products that are available in New Zealand at all Briscoes stores: ➜

LAN Airlines operate direct daily flights to Santiago and onward thru the LATAM Airlines Group connecting flights to Peru: ➜ Cicciolina & Baco Restaurants P: + 51 84 23 9510 ➜

Hotel Casa Andina San Blas P: +51 84 26 3694

people, with nearly 600,000 more people living in 14 outer suburbs. It’s elevation varies but is mostly at 3,300 m, so the thin air affects your breathing, even climbing stairs can be a challenge until one gets acclimatised – headaches are common. On a chilly morning we started our tour of Cusco. Admil Arce Yáñez was our tour guide who had met us the day before at the airport and arranged transfers to our hotel in the Barrio de San Blas. This neighbourhood housing artisans, workshops and craft shops is one of the most picturesque sites in the city. Its streets are steep and Museum Sign narrow with old houses built by the Spanish over important Inca foundations. It has an attractive square and the oldest parish church in Cusco, built in 1563. From the hotel our shuttle bus took us up through the hillsides way above Cusco, where houses on both sides of the road all appeared unfinished – it was to be noticeable throughout our trip – buildings without windows, roofs unfinished, the rendering of brickwork non-existent. Our first stop was Tambomachay, one of the closest Inca ruins to Cusco. During the rein of the Incas the surrounding limestone headlands would have been grazing grounds for wild foxes, deer and llama. Today all I could see were sheep herders, but the remaining buildings, or what was left of them, are an impressive first time view of a past race that had founded Cusco and made it the centre of the universe during their reign. Not far away was another Inca ruin – Saqsaywaman – or as Admil liked to call it ‘sexy woman’. When two of the most destructive earthquakes in history took place here in

1650 and 1950, up to 80 percent of Cusco in each instance was destroyed…yet all of the Inca ruins, especially the fortress-like walls of Saqsayhuaman remained intact due to the ingenious builders who jigsaw collated together the giant stone fortress-like walls. Some blocks are estimated to weigh upwards of 120 tonnes. Once we were back in the historic district of Cusco we visited the Qurikancha (the Golden Palace) and Convent of Santo Domingo. It was the most important sanctuary dedicated to the Sun God at the time of the Inca Empire. Its Spanish invaders who, as they plundered, were determined to rid the city of its wealth and shrines destroyed the temple. Nowadays, only a curved outer wall and partial ruins of the inner temple remain at the site.

Downtown Cusco


Church & Convent of Santa Clara





With this Inca structure as a foundation, colonists built the Convent of Santo Domingo in the Renaissance style. The building engulfs the main Inca ruins, with one baroque tower exceeding the height of many other buildings in this city. The architects of the church built the structure on the Inca foundations knowing they were almost earthquake proof, in fact they wrapped the building around the remains of the Inca Temples they partially destroyed in a similar way that a strangler fig tree suffocates another tree until the original tree dies and the strangler fig grows much bigger in its place. The following day I delivered some of my dust-encrusted clothing to the nearest laundromat – all of eight Peruvian Sol for my load (NZ$ 3.40). I then set off on a classic walking tour of the main sights of this once powerful Inca city. First stop was Plaza de Armas, one of South America’s most impressive public spaces you will ever gaze upon. Known as the “Square of the Warrior” in the Inca era, this plaza has been the scene of several important events in the history of this city, such as the proclamation by Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Cusco. The Spanish built stone arcades around the plaza on two sides which today house shops, restaurants, cafes and money changing stores. The city’s main cathedral and the Church of La Compañía both open directly onto the plazas large public square. Nearby is the Museo Historico Regional just off Plaza Regocijo – it is well worth spending a good hour or more here soaking up the history of the region. Not far away is the Church and Museum of San Francisco. If shopping is a priority seek out the Mercado San Pedro, which overflows from its covered indoor setting onto the surrounding outside

streets. Another highlight is to wander along the Loreto, a walkway with Inca walls lining both sides. For dinner I opted for a well-established Cusco restaurant, Cicciolina, owned by an Australian restaurateur called Tammy. Situated on the second floor of an old colonial house, the main tapas bar and kitchen is decorated with a distinct ambient feel with subdued earthy orange painted walls in the relaxing bar area below huge bunches of dried garlic and peppers suspended from the thick rustic beams. In the next room a white tablecloth fine dining restaurant is decorated with rouge coloured walls. This is one restaurant that more than feels Peruvian but with tantalising tastes of Europe and the Pacific. Service is frenetic with waiters and cooks scurrying around at pace dressed in red and white uniforms. The cuisine is also far better than you might expect in one of those well-known reality TV chef shows. I ordered two tapas initially - calamari stuffed with mushrooms and prawns, followed by a ‘mini causas’ (small squares of infused mashed potato) each one topped separately with prawns, octopus, trout and Guinea Pig…Yes, Guinea Pig. Instead of dessert I placed an order for scallops in a barbeque sauce served in a scallop shell. If there is one place to experience Peruvian cuisine in Cusco seek out this splendid little slice of Peru and you’ll not be disappointed. Rated as one of the best cities in the world, Cusco ticks all the right boxes from iconic cultures, superb cuisine, and colonial architecture to personable and friendly smiling locals – no wonder Cusco was once and still is a place the Incas thought of as, ‘The Empire of the Sun’.

Top 10 Tips when visiting Cusco:


Spend two or three nights here to acclimatise your body before trekking at altitude – the longer the better as altitude affects everyone differently, no matter what age or level of fitness.



There are plenty of ATMs and money changers, but make sure you have more than one credit card with PIN numbers and plenty of US dollars in cash as once you are in rural areas, cash is king.



Spend some leisurely time in Plaza de Armas. There are a number of second floor cafes and restaurants with small outdoor balconies where people watching and city life merges together.



Visit any one of the churches in Cusco but in particular peek inside the Church and Convent of Santa Clara to see the mirrors used in Colonial times to entice indigenous people into the church.




For all the gifts you need to buy visit the Mercado San Pedro, not only has it got stalls full of brightly coloured merchandise but there is a huge food hall as well…watch out you don’t pick up any stomach bugs though.

There are many museums worth visiting but one in particular that is worth seeking out is just off Plaza Armas, the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) that houses a fine collection from that period. Wander the back alleys and single lane streets around Barrio de San Blas where there are some quaint restaurants and small shops selling regional goods and souvenirs. Take a half-day tour up to the Inca ruins of Tambomachay, Q’enqo (translated as labyrinth) and the magnificent grounds of Saqsaywaman – the views of the city here are amazing. Visit Cusco in the dry season (Apr-Oct), which offers a sub-tropical highland climate as during the rainy season photography is compromised and the shiny cobblestone streets become dangerous to walk over. Find a good local Peruvian restaurant or search out one of the many fusion and neo-Andean restaurants where the cuisine is prepared with modern techniques and incorporates a blend of traditional Andean and international ingredients.


LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines form LATAM Airlines Group which serves over 130 destinations in 22 countries. LAN Airlines flies seven times per week direct from Auckland to Santiago, Chile. From Santiago LAN and TAM offer connections to more than 115 destinations within South America. CONTACT US:

LAN 0800 451 373

Travel Agents

1800 558 129

Destination ➜ Samoa


By Gayle Dickson


I fell in love with Samoa quite a few years ago when hubby and I took our kids over for a week of sun, sand and smiles. Since then, I’ve found every excuse in the book to return, and I have to tell you that when this trip came up, there was actually a fight in the office as to who would go!



amoa is one of those nations where the balmy weather and beaming smiles of the locals make you feel right at home the minute you alight from your flight. Ally that with friendly greetings, a waft of fragrant florals, the sound of a ukulele strumming in the distance, and you immediately switch to “island time”. The main island of Upolo offers so much for travellers, whether they’re after luxury accommodations or the simplicity of a beach fale. Some will choose to stay in one resort for the duration of their visit, while others will mix it up. Given the proximity to the airport, Aggie Grey’s Beach Resort & Spa is often a first night stop for arriving passengers, especially those who arrive at night and are self-driving. Within half an hour you can be checked in and relaxing. That said, Aggie’s is a destination on its own, but more on that later. Since most properties offer complimentary transfers, you can of course proceed directly to the resort of your choice…and what a choice you have. On the premium scale, you have your pick of the bunch: Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa, Seabreeze Resort, Coconuts Beach Club, La Vasa, Saletoga Sands and the aforementioned Aggie’s. A quick search of the Samoa Tourism website will highlight holiday homes, beach fales and budget accommodation on offer. Nothing says Samoa like a beach fale stay, and again you have many choices – from family and deluxe to budget, and even fales perfectly aligned for surfers. Most are situated right by the beach. When it comes to activities, the options are as full-on or laid back as you’d like them to be. The adventurous can hike through the rainforests, dive amongst the coral, big game fish on a charter boat, snorkel in the calm lagoon or swim with the turtles. The waterfalls are plentiful and spectacular, and there’s a ton of fun to be had investigating the likes of To Sua Ocean Trench, the caves at Pe’ape’a and the cave pool at Piula. Not all walks are arduous – take the Ma Tree Walk for a short 700 odd metres to see this massive tree with roots that extend in all directions. The beaches are perfect for walking on, offering both black sand at Aganoa, creamy colours at

Aggie Grey’s Lagoon, Beach Resort & Spa



Matareva, ruggedness around Return to Paradise (made famous by the 1953 Gary Cooper movie of the same name), or natural and pristine beauty at Saleapaga, Tafata and Vavau. The Coastal Walk will see you witnessing waves crashing against the cliffs, a Pandanus forest, a lava field and more along its hour-long route. The less adventurous will rejoice in the spa treatments on offer at most resorts. The therapists know their stuff! Lay back and be manipulated as you listen to the ocean beyond – it’s sublime. You shouldn’t miss taking in a little Samoan culture while you’re there. We highly recommend a visit to Robert Louis Stevenson’s home, which is now a museum, and is packed with personal possessions. There’s also the Museum of Samoa that was once a German school, as well as the EFKS Museum. A visit to Apia really has to include the markets. Stock up on fresh fruit at the produce market while you sip on coconut juice (niu) and nibble the cooked delights on offer. At the flea market you’ll be able to pick up handicrafts as a souvenir of your travels, as well as all your gifts for family and friends back home. The sarongs, kava bowls and wood carvings are legendary! There’s also a fish market if you’re self-catering and haven’t managed to land a big one yourself, but you can also try some of Samoa’s more unusual sea offerings. As for cuisine, the resorts all offer a good variety of both Western and Samoan dishes. Make sure you try the local Vailima beer, and my

Coconuts Beach Club, Resort & Spa

personal favourite Oka l’a, raw fish marinated in coconut cream and citrus. You also want to make sure you take in a Fia Fia night where the locals will dazzle you with their vocals as well as dance moves, including fire dancing, which is truly impressive. Like I said, Samoa offers so much…to go into much detail would take a book, never mind a few pages in a magazine. Isn’t it time you learned to say Talofa Lava like a local?

facts: Information: Samoa Tourism Authority,


Gayle stayed at: Aggie Grey’s Lagoon, Beach Resort & Spa ➜

Coconuts Beach Club, Resort & Spa ➜

Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa ➜

Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa


Gayle flew with Virgin Samoa in their Premium Economy seats



Destination ➜ Beverly Hills, U.S.A

Walking in Light U.S.A. | BEVERLY HILLS

By Tim Roxborogh



o one walks in LA. Which I guess makes sense in a city so spread out…separate cities like Anaheim (where Disneyland is) are internationally thought of as suburbs. Anaheim has 350,000 people and is 50 kilometres away from the centre of Hollywood. The greater urban population of Los Angeles is estimated at anywhere from 12-18 million and the most touristy suburbs like Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Downtown and Santa Monica aren’t exactly next to each other. As far back as 1968 Dionne Warwick sang “LA is a great big freeway,” in her song Do You Know The Way To San Jose. That concept, together with a perception of dicey public transport, presents a picture of a megalopolis where hiring a car or hailing a cab is a visitor’s only option. I wasn’t really setting out to be any different, but had plans to at least see Beverly Hills on foot, given I had a hotel at the bottom of Rodeo Drive. I asked the hotel porter how best to get to Sunset Strip short of catching a cab and,

to his credit, the young chap chirpily pieced together the jigsaw of walking, bussing and train-ing. Perhaps he was doing so with the enthusiasm of a public transport fan who’d never before been asked by a hotel guest? At $1,700+ a night (complimentary, thanks to the Beverly Wilshire) that’s possible. Pretending to remember his instructions, my phone told me A to B was really the simplest of walks even if a little on the lengthy side: 90 minutes at average walking speed to Sunset Strip, two hours plus to downtown Hollywood. As far as directions go, walking north along Rodeo Drive, past the shops, past the glorious homes until turning right when reaching Sunset Boulevard is about as easy to navigate as big-city walking gets. So that’s what I did. A to B was never what it was about though. Walking amongst shops even rich people can’t afford was vaguely interesting, but suburban Rodeo Drive was where it occurred to me LA is something not said nearly enough…it is genuinely beautiful.


For a part of the world so associated with being vacuous and money obsessed, you could be forgiven for assuming the rich and famous live in expensive but garish houses. Beverly Hills disproves this. There are mansions, but most of the properties – largely of the Spanish Mission Revival style – look more like homes the extremely wealthy build to pretend they’re middleclass. What that means is that remarkable house after remarkable house, complete with immaculate garden after immaculate garden, is where you successfully kid yourself into thinking, “That house is ridiculously beautiful and it’s almost certain I’ll live there once I make my dreams a reality!” Maybe the properties of Beverly Hills compared to the more mansion dominated slopes of Bel Air are a bit like Jennifer Aniston vs Angelina Jolie: both extremely attractive but with contrasting appeals of perceived attainability and out of reach mystery. The fact Aniston/Beverly Hills is probably just as unattainable as Jolie/Bel Air is briefly forgotten. Leaving the pitfalls of that metaphor and quite stunning neighbourhood behind, I realised 45 minutes of walking and, except for the shoppers on lower Rodeo Drive and maybe two joggers, I hadn’t seen one other person on foot. Not one other walker admiring some of the best suburban gardens and architecture in North America? Not even a look-a-like of the world famous Pomeranian dog Boo was walking the buxom footpaths. Cute wee Boo has more than 15 million Facebook friends and I was star-struck to meet him and his owner in a red convertible driving slowly near the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church. Only it wasn’t Boo, but a similarly well-groomed pup named Jeff. Having farewelled Jeff and Rodeo Drive I turned right onto Sunset Boulevard. From there it was another 45 minutes gradually out of leafy suburbia towards the shops, bars, hotels and panoramic views of Sunset Strip. With the place dotted in must-see pop-culture locales, wouldn’t it be a hassle to have to keep pulling over to find a park? Photos were taken of rock career-making venues like Whisky-A-Go-Go, the House of Blues, the Viper Room and the Roxy, but it was the pull of more historic hotels that drew me inside. Sunset Strip establishments like the Sunset Marquis (1964), the Sunset Tower Hotel (1931) and the Chateau Marmont (1927) just don’t exist in New Zealand: intriguing history, classic architecture and Hollywood glitz. These three plus Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel and the Beverly Hills trio of the Beverly Hilton, the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Beverly Wilshire are arguably the historic luxury showbiz hotels of LA. The Sunset Marquis was where I was meeting pop’s greatest gentleman and most understated legend, Bee Gee Barry Gibb. For the scene of our sixth interview (check out stretching back a decade, we’d chosen a hotel so steeped in music history it’s now the subject of a book, If These Walls Could Rock. From Bob Marley to the Kings of Leon, for 50 years the private gardens, villas and suites of the Sunset Marquis have been to music what the Sunset Tower and the Chateau Marmont are to film. The pool and surrounding rooms have a whiff of minimalist cool, grand pianos lurk in some of the

Tim Roxborogh


Chateau Marmont


Barry Gibb and Tim

Mediterranean-styled villas and you could be next to Steven Tyler or Bruce Springsteen at the bar…or in a garden chatting with Barry Gibb about his sold out Hollywood Bowl concert. A 15 minutes stroll away at the 15-storey art deco Sunset Tower, this address has played home to the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn and Howard Hughes. John Wayne was said to have once brought a cow up to his room at 3am and Truman Capote described it as where “every scandal that happened happened.” After lunch, by the pool, eavesdropping two scriptwriters pitching a war film to an English actor I recognised but couldn’t place, it was time for the 10 minute walk to Hollywood’s castle on the hill. That castle is the Chateau Marmont; a place you can feel more enigmatic than you really are as you order a drink, write letters and wonder if others are speculating you’re someone. Optimistic. Perhaps most infamous for being where John Belushi was found dead in 1982, the Chateau Marmont isn’t just old Hollywood gossip and glam. As American novelist A.M. Homes said, “checking in is like turning up in the middle of an ongoing party at a European country estate…” Or maybe one of those high-society Agatha Christie murder-mysteries where every guest is a suspect. Drink-downed, I planned a return cab to Beverly Hills, but found myself looking forward to the walk. Choosing a street parallel to Rodeo Drive (North Beverly Drive), I saw a different set of equally spectacular properties as I arrived home with the setting sun to my own property of awe, the Beverly Wilshire. In the coming days I would also hike through the cacti of the Hollywood Hills, around the Hollywood Reservoir and up above and behind the Hollywood Sign. The streets of the revitalised Downtown were explored, as was the beach at Santa Monica. Cabs were used and even the subway, but as much as I could I walked. With neighbourhoods like these, not to mention LA’s perfect weather, it seemed a logical thing to do.


Blinky Bill & friends now call Currumbin home! Featuring in two shows and making two daily appearances, Blinky and his friends provide plenty of fun and smiles to kids of all ages.

Ž Blinky Bill is a registered trademark of Flying Bark Productions Pty Limited. Š 2014 Blinky Bill Movie Productions Pty Limited.

ADULTS @ KIDS PRICES! All guests $35, save $14! | 1300 886 511 | Corner of Gold Coast Highway & Tomewin St, Currumbin Qld 100m from Currumbin Beach - 5 minutes from Gold Coast Airport - 20 minutes from Surfers Paradise Open 8:00am - 5:00pm. Closed Christmas Day & ANZAC Day. *Not valid with any other offer. Conditions apply. Valid to 31/12/14. Voucher must be presented upon ticket purchase to redeem discount. Day admission only. Excludes Adventure Parc High Ropes course, upgrade available at gate. ASIA | INDONESIA Destination ➜ Seminyak, Bali



Karma: the good or bad emanations resulting from one’s actions

It’s Karma By Gayle Dickson


eminyak in Bali has a heartbeat all its own; it’s a thriving, throbbing region that offers so much diversity in relation to activities and action. There’s never a dull moment…unless you want one. It’s safe to say I love shopping, dining, partying and all the other buzz points that Bali offers…but, at the end of a day of sightseeing, sunning myself, and probably eating far too much, I like to retire to my own space and round off the hedonism in peace and tranquility. On a recent trip to Seminyak, I discovered Blue Karma and fell in love. Once checked in and moving beyond the unassuming entry on Jalan Raya (the main road), it comes into it’s own. Tucked behind the surrounding high walls of the property lies a romantic haven. The friendly staff escorted me over the lush lawn to my villa, which itself was tucked behind an ornately gated entry. The sanctuary that lay beyond was spacious, offered modern touches, yet reminded me that I was indeed in Bali. The open plan lounge and kitchen area was enormous; the floor to ceiling windows along two walls could be swept sideways to provide direct access to a private pool and courtyard. The separate bedroom boasted an oversized bed, complete with the romance of a mosquito net.




Lighting plays a huge part in the feel of a room, and the owners have taken this into consideration with LED strip lights in a spectrum of colours, subtle garden lighting, reading and task lighting. One of my favourite features of the villa has to be the bathroom - spacious enough to have housed at least three king beds, it lay within a private courtyard surrounded by extremely high walls and was open to the elements.

facts: Blue Karma Jalan Raya Seminyak, Gang Bima, No.2 Seminyak, Kuta – Badung, Bali, Indonesia P: + 62 361 737 898 ➜

Getting there: Gayle flew Business Class with Air New Zealand on their non-stop Auckland-Bali flights. These seasonal non-stop flights operate from June to October, with connections across the New Zealand domestic network. ➜


Thai, Ayurvedic, Shiatsu and deep tissue, as well as facials, manicures and pedicures. Breakfast is also included in your room rate, and the buffet offerings are a wonderful way to start your day as you dine poolside. At night, this area moves into another league, with garden and pool lighting setting the tone for tropical romance. Couples can be found chatting at the bar, relaxing in the lounge chairs dotted around the patio, snuggling on beanbags, or dangling their feet in the pool while supping their cocktails. As for location, you couldn’t ask for more. The boutiques and supermarkets of Legian Street are just up the road, as are a range of great eateries, bars and clubs – you’re only minutes from Kuta and Kerobokan. Head in the opposite direction and it’s only a short walk to Kuta or Double Six beach – or you can be lazy and take the hotel’s complimentary buggy – where the sunset views are a real treat! There’s a DVD and book library (French and English), 64-channels of cable TV, chess, air conditioning, property-wide wifi, bathrobes, bottled water, bathroom amenities, 24-hour security, and more! Blue Karma lacks nothing and offers plenty!


As you lay in the large tub, you could gaze at the night sky above. Given that it does rain in the tropics, the WC and basin area were covered with a lean-to type roof…you were protected, yet essentially still outdoors. Blue Karma is a small property, offering just nine villas and suites, ranging in size from one through four bedrooms. The communal area plays host to an organically shaped swimming pool. Cross the wooden bridge over the swimming pool and you arrive at the onsite spa where a daily massage is a must, given that treatments start from as little as NZ$30 for 60-minutes of therapeutic bliss. Every guest is offered a complimentary 15-minute back and shoulder massage to relieve any travel stress and get you into Bali-mode. Staff are qualified in a range of massages, including Balinese,

Destination ➜ Niue


Pacific Island Gem



cenic Hotel Group will have a new string in its bow with the inclusion of the former Matavai Resort, Niue on 1 December, 2014. The property will take on its new name of Scenic Matavai Resort Niue to become Scenic Hotel number 10 and the group’s 18th property overall. Scenic Hotel Group Managing Director, Brendan Taylor, says the Matavai property’s stunning location, reputation and standard of presentation made it a natural addition to the Group’s South Pacific portfolio. “The property is the perfect addition to the Scenic family and philosophy of promoting unique, unspoilt locations which will be a welcomed new experience for travellers wanting an alternative stunning Pacific Island adventure,” Mr Taylor said. The island of Niue is located in the South Pacific and is less than three and a half hours flight time from Auckland International Airport. Its close proximity to Auckland positions the property well in the New Zealand domestic market as an alternative holiday destination. Guests are assured of the same high quality and exceptional service standards in a stunning yet affordable holiday destination.

The 54-room complex incorporates 44 hotel rooms and 10 apartments, along with a three-bedroom villa, all of which are air conditioned and well appointed. Additional facilities include a restaurant, bar and two spectacular fresh water swimming pools nestled amongst tropical gardens, offering 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean. The Hon.Toke Talagi has welcomed Scenic Hotel Group to Niue and looks forward to developing a long and prosperous business relationship where the expertise of the Scenic Group will complement the island’s existing businesses, hospitality and tourist operators. Scenic Hotel Group is excited about being at the forefront of international investment into the Pacific islands and is looking forward to working with the local business community to develop and improve Niue’s tourism industry. This is the second property to join the Scenic Group’s South Pacific portfolio after securing the Scenic Hotel Tonga – formerly the Royal International Hotel Tonga – in 2012. ➜

Arrive in style

ALL INCLUSIVE luxury cruises

with Silversea


Singapore roundtrip aboard Silver Shadow You owe it to yourself to experience the extraordinary thrill of Silversea’s truly luxurious and intimate all inclusive cruises. Enjoy a voyage where warm, personal pampering is the first port of call. Each ship offers a relaxed environment with attentive staff and appreciation for the finer things in life. Explore remote ports as you sail narrow waterways into the heart of a city and navigate around tiny islands.

Flights & 12 day cruise




pp share twin in a Vista Suite

CRUISE DEPARTS: Singapore 29 October 15 INCLUDES: 12 day cruise onboard Silver Shadow Singapore return, all meals while cruising with open seating restaurant and menu selections by Relais & Châteaux, butler service for every suite, complimentary wine, champagne & spirits, in-suite bar with your beverage preferences, port charges and gratuities, return airfares ex Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch to Singapore, Airport taxes

HIGHLIGHTS • Singapore • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia • Penang, Malaysia • Phuket, Thailand • Yangon, Myanmar (3 nights) • Langkawi, Malaysia • Malacca, Malaysia

Come instore | 0800 838 747 CONDITIONS: Cruise is based on Vista Suite twin share per person and converted from USD to NZD as at 30 Oct 14, subject to currency exchange fluctuations. Final price will be confirmed at time of booking and payment of deposit to relevant rate of exchange. Valid for new bookings until sold out. Special conditions and availability restrictions apply. Supplements apply for other suite categories - enquire for details. Airfare is based on Singapore Airlines ex AKL, WLG, CHC including taxes. All fares and taxes are subject to change without notice until final payment is received. Deposit, full payment, amendment and cancellation fees apply. We strongly recommend comprehensive travel insurance be taken at the time of paying a deposit.

Destination ➜ Tasmania, Australia

Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures AUSTRALIA | TASMANIA

By Shane Boocock



ot unexpectedly, on any long, good-weather weekend you’ll find a plethora of Victorians spending their carefree days wandering the shops, gift stores, outdoor markets, art galleries, waterfront attractions, fine restaurants, cafés and world-class museums that Hobart is rightly famous for. After all it’s just a short and relatively inexpensive flight from Melbourne, so it also makes a perfect hop, skip and jump for New Zealanders wanting to visit Tasmania. Not many Kiwis would know it but the capital city of Hobart, home to nearly 200,000 people, is the seconddriest capital city in Australia, receiving about half as much rain as Sydney. Hobart has a look and feel about it that reminds me of Wellington without the weather. This city

is very pleasing on the eye, bustling and full of historic buildings that seem to have been converted with the future in mind. The mountain backdrop and the River Derwent estuary all add to the pleasure this city gives to its residents and numerous visitors, including those New Zealanders who are visiting Hobart for the first time, especially people wanting to visit the spectacular Museum of Old and New Art…MONA. To whet your appetite here are a few of the main ingredients that make up a main course menu of all the best that Hobart has to offer. Salamanca Markets: are well over their 40th anniversary and by the looks of it, the market is still going from strength to strength. Located in Salamanca Place

Salamanca Markets



adjacent to Hobart’s spectacular waterfront, the 200 or so stall holders in the market offer a tempting range of eclectic goods, so look out for: Tasmanian specialty crafted timbers, tasty leatherwood honey, hand-knitted woollen wear, art and crafts, vegetables and local produce such as fine cheeses and chocolate truffles, with some second-hand goods stalls selling vintage clothing, old LPs and obscure books. The area was once under water but was reclaimed in the 1830s using convict labour. Many of the fine old original waterfront Georgian warehouses stand alongside the market housing galleries, cafés, restaurants and some classic Tasmanian taverns…just the place to sample local ales. The market is open from 8.30am to 3pm every Saturday. Lark Whisky Distillery: If you fancy the odd tipple, here are two spots to indulge. Lark Distillery was the first licensed distillery in Tasmania way back in 1839. It was established to produce Tasmanian malt whisky, rich in character with a big finish using Tasmanian ingredients – all day tours are available including lunch. Set back about a block from Hobart’s waterfront, the Lark Cellar Door and Whisky Bar is a whisky lover’s paradise offering tastings, souvenirs and about 130 types of whisky including a range of rare malt whiskies. The Cascade Brewery is for beer aficionados so prepare to be barrelled over on one of their ‘brewery hops’ tours followed by a refreshing cold pint. Cascade started from an unlikely place - the Old Hobart Gaol. Serving time for not paying his debts to England, Peter Degraves felt there was something more to the Cascade streams. It was there, in his cell that he drew up the designs for the Cascade brewery. Once freed, he rolled up his sleeves and made his vision come to life. It is the oldest continually operating brewery in Australia that started life in 1832. The two hour Cascade Brewery tours happen daily – don’t miss one. MONA: This labyrinth home of Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart is carved into the foreshore stone of the Derwent River. The ambitious A$80 million development has been described as shocking, amusing, offensive, disturbing, thought provoking and somewhat beautiful depending on your point of view. Whatever you think, the 400,000 visitors who slide through the front door every year all have different opinions. If you don’t want to drive for A$20 you can also catch a ferry to or from the Brooke Street Pier Terminal in downtown Hobart. MONA opening hours are Wed-Mon 10am-5pm. Hobart Harbour Kayaking: There is only one way to see Hobart from a different perspective and that’s out on the water in a kayak. It’s a wonderful way to explore the hidden coves and backwater bays that dot this city’s waterfront. So step off the street and pick up a paddle! On this relaxed,



two-hour tour you’ll experience a journey of fun, serenity and some spectacular scenery. Gliding across the waters of the Derwent Estuary, you’ll follow Hobart’s shoreline to explore historic Battery Point, vibrant Salamanca and the bustling docks of the city’s waterfront. Learn about Tasmania’s historic capital from your experienced guides as you weave among tall ships, working fishing boats, sleek yachts and modern cruisers. Finally, work up an appetite in time to enjoy some of Hobart’s legendary fish and chips straight from a dockside fish punt. Hobart Paddle is the perfect way to discover Hobart’s true maritime nature. Morning trips start at 10:30am, Twilight Paddle times varies seasonally. Peppermint Bay Day Trip: On this journey you can be assured of a relaxing, rejuvenating and rewarding day discovering some of Hobart’s hidden secrets on board a luxurious 23m catamaran. The Peppermint Bay Cruise takes in the harbour, the River Derwent and the magnificent waters of the d’Entrecasteaux Channel. The trip leaves Hobart’s waterfront at 11am and on through to the sheltered southern waterways of Peppermint Bay, in the Huon/Channel region of Tasmania. You’ll first cruise beneath the high arch of the Tasman Bridge where, via underwater cameras, see the wreck of the ore carrier that collided with the bridge more than 30 years ago. The voyage takes in secluded bays, tranquil seaside towns, dramatic coastline and deeply forested hills. On this trip you’ll learn about Tasmania’s rich colonial and maritime history. Lunch is at Peppermint Bay overlooking the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Bruny Island. Mountain Biking Down Mount Wellington: Rising to a height of 1,270m, Mt Wellington is a spectacular and panoramic backdrop for the city of Hobart. From the top you’ll see magnificent 360 degree views of inlets, bays and the hills around Hobart all the way to the Derwent Valley on down to the Southern Ocean and across to the Tasman Peninsula are spread out in a stunning panorama. After a practice ride at the summit it’s all downhill from here.

From subalpine terrain to magnificent forest the winding mountain road takes you back down to the foothills. For the adventurous at heart, riders can choose the option to experience the thrill of an ‘off-road section’ with a winding, twisting, undulating trail. The journey finishes back on the vibrant Hobart Waterfront (duration 2.5 hours). Departures: 10am and 1pm daily (4pm during January & February). All trips depart Brooke Street Pier. Bookings essential and minimum numbers apply. Whatever outdoor adventure you choose, Hobart has the ability to deliver a remarkable experience…a truly overlooked treasured Aussie hotspot.

facts: Shane Boocock travelled to Tasmania courtesy of Tourism Tasmania: ➜ Getting there: Air New Zealand fly daily to either Melbourne or Sydney. Their partner airline Virgin Australia offer onward flights to Hobart via both cities. There are also daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year. Salamanca Markets ➜ Lark Whisky Distillery ➜ The Cascade Brewery ➜ MONA ➜ Hobart Harbour Kayaking ➜ Peppermint Bay Day Trip ➜ Mountain Biking Down Mount Wellington ➜


Name: Rob Thompson

For my sins I am: Director of Tahiti Tourisme – Australia & New Zealand

What’s your best packing tip? Roll your clothes, you get more into a smaller case

How old were you when you got your first passport, and where did you travel to in order to “break it in”? Seven, from Fiji to New York City in 1985. Imagine THAT shock

What’s your best travel tip (general)? Get your airline status up any way possible or buy club access for whatever airline you’re travelling long haul on. That calm transit and priority boarding make all the difference

How many countries have you travelled to? 23, some mileage yet to be done. 236 cities apparently though if that gives me more travel cred

Do you dress comfortably or stylishly for long-haul trips? I try for a mix of both, not sure I hit the stylish points though

My favourite offshore destination is … and why? The Islands of Tahiti, the people, the sheer beauty of it and the French/Polynesian culture mix

If WE were paying, tell us about your perfect holiday? Private jet, taking in the 7 manmade wonders of the world that I haven’t seen yet or 2 weeks anywhere that doesn’t have cellphone access

My favourite local destination is … and why? Waiheke Island. It’s, beautiful, it’s relaxed and it’s very easy access from Auckland My favourite dining experience (anywhere in the world) is: Le Coco’s restaurant in Tahiti! Incredibly sophisticated and delectable cuisine in a beautiful beachside setting My favourite kind of holiday is (beach, adventure, shopping etc)? Depends on the mood but even keel between beach or city/urban/culture hit

What’s your best travel memory? I have 2, seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise with my mother. A spiritual experience for us both, but a true pleasure to see her emotional reaction and doing a boutique cruise around the Leeward islands of French Polynesia, it was 5 star but relaxed Anything “hilarious” ever happened to you while travelling? Not hilarious at the time, but I did come home with someone else’s suitcase once Where to next? Melbourne!!

What’s the one thing you can’t/won’t travel without? My laptop



Destination ➜ Cuba


Celebrating Castro’s Cuba By David Boyce


ere I am in Havana, Cuba standing next to a statuesque likeness of Ernest Hemingway, enjoying the American author’s favorite cocktail in his renowned El Floridita drinking haunt… bucket list item number 7 duly ticked off. The Cuba that Hemingway gravitated to for the high life in the 30s and 40s, especially in Havana, still rumbles on today. The sounds of ancient Chevrolets, Buicks and Plymouths that flash past in a range of vivid reds, pale blues, purple, deep green, yellows and pinks, complement the pallor of the architecture. Cubans are poor (some items still remain rationed) but already there are signs that the communist ethos appears to be softening with pockets of free enterprise springing up. The most evident are family-run restaurants (the paladares)

tucked away in side streets and serving excellent seafood, meat and traditional Cuban/Spanish dishes. Our first taste of Cuba, like many others, was the airport taxi transfer to our hotel in Havana and, much to our surprise, it was in a yellow coloured modern day Fiat. Our hotel was classed as 5 Star which I must say did surprise me as parts did live up to that status, but they still had a long way to go to match other parts of the world. Some aspects like training their staff to meet guest requirements and the concept of charging back to your room were a mystery to them. We had a full day of sightseeing in Havana with the Morro-Cabañas fortress. A walking tour of the Old Havana City historic centre, where the backdrop is of broad boulevards, narrow cobbled streets and flaking Spanish colonial buildings whose pastel shades of washed blues


and greens, or jaded yellows, appear to enhance charm rather than define their age. Once you step off the main track into the shaded sidewalks and alleys you find the true Habaneros hanging out of windows and chatting amid the decaying Spanish architecture and that gives Havana its identity. Next day was a full day tour to Vinales Valley in Pinar del Rio, Cuba’s most western province where they say the world’s best tobacco is grown. We visit a Cigar factory in Candelaria, where each cigar is handmade and quality control is a man checking every single cigar as it goes by. This is how each person is paid…by the number that make it past him. Next was a visit to “El Paraíso” farm, where we got to see the lifestyle of local peasants as well as learn about the growing of tobacco and the hardships along with this. In Viñales, visit the Pre-historic Mural (cave painting on the country’s most ancient rocks) and the Vinales, a valley that reminded me a bit like the hinterlands of Queensland. We viewed the prehistoric wall and Indian caves, where we boated along its underground river. After driving across the island from Havana, on the Caribbean coastline, we found Trinidad. En route, we travelled along deserted highways, pass farmers drying rice on the side of the road, horses and carts trotting past, rusting Soviet-era tractors and plantations of mango, pineapple, guava and oranges. We also made a detour to the Bay of Pigs to visit the revolution museum, which is mostly about Fidel Castro and his freedom fighters, before



a pause at Cienfuegos, a beautiful coastal town with a magnificent central square. A quick visit to a crocodile farm, something I would never have thought I would find in Cuba, and finally arriving in Trinidad…a town described as “having everything – music, culture, history, museums and beaches”. If Havana is where time has slowed, the clock has virtually stopped in laid-back Trinidad. Sitting between mountains

and the coast, with its wealth built on sugar cane two centuries ago, it is now thriving again as visitors drift in for the ambience, the atmosphere, the culture or simply for the music. Trinidad is centred around Plaza Mayor, the cathedral and Cantero Palace, now the city museum. Its squat tower offers views over red-tiled rooftops set against mountains


and the tropical landscape that was once the heart of Cuba’s sugar plantations. The bar, La Canchanchara, takes its name from the drink sugar plantation slaves brewed after toiling through the long hot days. Made of honey, lemon, water, sugar cane alcohol and ice, it is potent, full of flavour and traditionally drunk from small earthenware pots. With three-wheeled cycle taxis and horse-drawn carts the only transport in the older quarters, you can amble around Trinidad taking in galleries, museums and small shops, pausing for a coffee, glass of Cristal beer or a cocktail or simply enjoy the timeless Spanish colonial architecture of a town which, like much of Cuba, remains freeze-framed in a different age. In Santa Clara you’ll find a semi-religious monument, mausoleum and museum in honour of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. Che’s statue was erected to mark the 30th anniversary of his murder in Bolivia in 1967. Fidel Castro lit the eternal flame in October 1997. In the adjacent museum you find a large number of Che photographs, guns, letters, medical equipment and a rare late picture of Che shorn and looking uncannily like Brando in The Godfather. Our final place was Varadero, which is a resort town in the province of Matanzas and one of the largest resort areas in the Caribbean. This is where you will find 13 miles of beach with powder soft sands lapped by waters of the Kawama Channel, a great place to relax at the end of your holiday.

Let Locally Sourced Cuba Tours design the perfect Cuba tour itinerary for you. Sand, sun, culture, classic cars, cigars and mojitos await...

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Destination ➜ Wyoming, U.S.A

Jackson Hole


By Shane Boocock


Bison and the Teton Mountains


fter a walk of around a mile we found ourselves wading into a creek seeking native Snake River cutthroat trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. In the very first bend in the creek Tim, my guide, pointed to an overhanging bank on the far side of the creek, “Drop your fly just at the head of that bank and see what happens,” he said. Within seconds of my first cast I had hooked a fish, and so it went on for another two hours as I caught fish on demand from 10-inch battlers to the largest 15-inch specimen. What an awesome backcountry experience it was. Jackson Hole, is a town of about 8,500 permanent residents who live at the southern gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. It boasts a thriving arts fraternity, and is a popular ski destination in winter and an even more popular summer destination for hikers, fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts such as whitewater river rafters. The most famous bar in town is the Million Dollar Cowboy Saloon, which boasts inlaid silver dollars dated between 1870-1890 from one end of the bar to the other, hence the name. For bar seating the well-worn cowboy saddles still give you an ache in the backside, but that’s all

part of the fun. Add some local lasses and a country music band with western swing dancing and a Saturday night in this bar is one you’ll remember for a long time. With another day came another chance to go fishing with ‘Fish the Fly’. Once again Tim Smith was our guide and he’s a man so knowledgeable about fly fishing I was in awe. Tim had started us wet fly fishing with marginal results but we could see fish rising, so he quickly switched us over to a dry fly and with the first cast I hooked a cutthroat. It was one of those days when fishing in the Rockies is forever ingrained in your memory. To get the best out of a visit to Jackson Hole I’ve rounded up 10 great ways to enjoy this fantastic and much admired landscape surrounding the Grand Tetons:


Get in the Saddle Experience the West in true cowboy style. Choose from a variety of guided horseback rides from short, familyfriendly trips to overnight pack trips. You’re guaranteed a fun ride and sweeping vistas of either the Tetons, Christian Pond and Oxbow Bend on the Snake River.


Raft Away Float down the relaxing Snake River while enjoying spectacular views of dense forests and the majestic Tetons. On a guided float trip, you’ll get a lesson in Wyoming’s flora and fauna and have a chance to spot local wildlife such as moose, bison, bald eagles, elk and beaver. For adventurers seeking a bit of excitement, opt for a guided whitewater rapids excursion, which will take you through wild canyons and Class III rapids.


Peddle a Path Although biking on hiking trails is not permitted in Grand Teton National Park, cyclists are allowed to pedal on roadways. And don’t miss a ride along the paved, multi-use pathway that stretches eight miles from Moose Junction all the way to South Jenny Lake. To get in some off-road biking, head to nearby Jackson Hole, a mountain biking haven.


Tackle the Tetons Experienced and novice hikers alike will love the range of scenic trails scattered throughout the park. Beginners should try a low-elevation route, such as the 1.2-mile hike to Phelps Lake, whereas advanced adventurers can opt for a challenging trek up Hanging Canyon. Hikers looking for a moderate challenge should try the trail leading to Solitude Lake. The 16-mile journey starts at South Jenny Lake and winds through wildflower-filled valleys and Cascade Canyon.


Drop a Hook, Line or Fly With its abundance of deep blue lakes, spring streams and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park offers plenty of options for anglers looking to snag their next big catch. Head to Colter Bay Village Marina on Jackson Lake for fishing licenses and boat rentals, or schedule a guided fly-fishing tour. In Jackson Hole if you want to fish where you can stumble into black bear, elk, mule deer and nobody else – and remember, ‘Fish the Fly’ are the best outfitters to spend a day on the water with.


Watch for Wildlife Sixty species of mammal, more than 300 species of birds and a half-dozen game fish call the region home, so spotting critters in their natural habitats should be easy — as long as you know where to look. Bring a pair of binoculars and search for osprey, bald eagles, elk, coyotes and muskrats.




Play Around Tee off among snow-dusted mountains, lush fairways and serene lakes on the 18-hole golf course at Jackson Hole Golf and Tennis Club. The golf course is consistently named the best in Wyoming with amenities such as extra tee boxes, ultra-smooth cart paths, great practice facilities, a new fleet of club cars and a 12,000 square foot LEED Certified clubhouse.



Skiing, Snowboarding It’s no secret that Jackson Hole offers some of the best skiing and board riding in the nation. In nearby Teton Village (at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort), you’ll find even more to explore while soaking up the incredible beauty of the area. With more than 4,000 feet of vertical terrain and a charming village of restaurants and lodging, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort really does have it all. This famous destination is beloved by expert skiers looking for backcountry adventures or beginners in search of top-notch ski lessons.



Shane Boocock travelled to the United States courtesy of Air Tahiti Nui who offer four scheduled flights a week via Papeete to Los Angeles ➜


Assistance with outfitters, campgrounds, resorts and attractions was courtesy of Rocky Mountains International ➜ El Monte RV is privately owned offering RV rentals from different city locations across the United States. They feature the largest number of RV models in the motorhome industry. El Monte RV can be contacted at ➜ Accommodation: Rustic Inn Creekside Resort & Spa: With it’s scenic creekside cabins, wooden Adirondack-style rustic chairs surrounding fire pits, and a meandering river flowing through the property, the Rustic Inn is one of the sweetest spots to rest your head and relax when visiting Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Rustic Inn hits all the high notes in creature comforts and state of the art facilities; complimentary WiFi, buffet breakfast and shuttle service to the town square. ➜

Snowmobiling Hot Spots Wyoming’s wide-open spaces and variety of terrain have cemented its status as a snowmobiling haven, and you’ll find an extensive network of well-developed trails. Besides exploring remote destinations, these trails also pass through local towns — essential pit stops for gas, grub and a good night’s sleep. All the essential amenities, from snowmobile rentals to guided tours of the regions most outstanding areas such as hidden hot springs and the nearby National Elk Refuge.


Recreational Vehicle Travel in the Grand Tetons The northwest region of Wyoming is home to some of America’s greatest natural treasures such as Old Faithful and the rugged mountains in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. All the park’s campgrounds offer knockout views and even abundant wildlife viewing. Moreover, outside of Yellowstone and Grand Teton, RV parks and primitive campgrounds dot Northwest Wyoming in a number of stunning locations around the Jackson Hole valley. Jackson Hole is a year-round outpost offering skiing and snowboarding in winter as well as unparallelled sightseeing, hiking, mountain biking, river rafting, horse riding, fishing in lakes, streams and rivers with a wide range of events and festivals all summer long.

Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa: This is an iconic institution in Jackson Hole, named appropriately by the owner after he found a metal one in a junkyard, (it now sits behind the front desk). They are famed for their award winning fine-dining restaurant, ‘Wild Sage’ which seats just 30 people. Situated in the heart of downtown within walking distance of art galleries, shopping, attractions, restaurants and bars. ➜ Wyoming Office of Tourism ➜ Jackson Hole, Wyoming ➜ Fish The Fly Outfitters ➜ Mad River Rafting ➜

Rusty Parrot in Winter


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*Conditions apply. Prices are for Bella Cabin in NZD per person twin share for the departure date shown. PICK YOUR GIFT offer is available on Prima price booked from 01 Dec 2014 until COB 18 Jan 2015 for new 2015 Mediterranean and Northern Europe itinerary bookings. PICK YOUR GIFT shore excursions are set half day excursions and cannot be substituted. PICK YOUR GIFT is for minimum 7 nights or more cruising. Only one gift can be applied per cruise per booking. ‘Onboard Credit’ amounts are in NZD not local currency. Bella ‘Wine and Fruit’ option will be in cabin on day of embarkation only. PICK YOUR GIFT is combinable with loyalty discount however not combinable with any other offer, promotion or special cruise discounts. PICK YOUR GIFT are less for single travellers, 3rd and 4th travellers and children, please check at time of booking. Cruises of two or more may provide repeat meals and entertainment onboard. All prices, inclusions and details are correct as at 01 Nov 2014 however subject to change or withdrawal without prior notice.

E&O. MSC Cruises (Australia) Pty Limited ABN 55 003 526 725. General sales Agent for MSC Crociere S.A. | ATAS Accredited No. A10954.

AD51 01 Nov 14

Destination ➜ Canada

Rocky Mountaineer Rail Highs BEYOND | CANADA

By John Borthwick



ur double-decker, glass-domed, GoldLeaf car glides between alpine peaks and pine forests. We’re aboard the celebrated Rocky Mountaineer train, having left Banff, Alberta in the morning on our two-day, “First Passage to the West” trip to Vancouver. Sitting upstairs in a “dome car” our heads are kept turning by the sight of snow peaks above, wild rivers below and gorge-leaping bridges in between. Occasional cries from fellow passengers turn everyone into temporary wildlife spotters. “Is that a cougar?” (No, a bighorn sheep.) A caribou? (Actually, it’s a cow.) Osprey, deer and bald eagles prove less confusing. We summit the Continental Divide at Kicking Horse Pass. The 1,626-metre altitude isn’t nosebleed stuff but it signals our entry into British Columbia. From here on, the

snow-fed rivers beside the track will rumble westwards to the Pacific, not east. We descend the Dividing Range via twin engineering miracles known as the Spiral Tunnels before dropping through spectacular canyons to the Columbia River Valley. Waiters (known as “hosts”) ply us with drinks and snacks as we scope this grandiose landscape. Downstairs in the restaurant the chefs are preparing a lunch menu of wild salmon, Alberta beef and fresh salads. The day rolls on in a reverie of forests, sagebrush, skree, meals, snoozes and information chats on the PA from the staff. One host, a young Irishman (who serves a mean cocktail) warms to his topic, grizzly bears, in eccentric style, declaring, “The only thing holdin’ bears back is they don’t have a thumb!”


Three 3,000 HP locos haul our train’s twenty-two cars carrying 566 passengers. The seating (there are no sleeper cars) comes in three configurations: single-deck RedLeaf and SilverLeaf cars, and the top-shelf GoldLeaf dome cars with seats upstairs and dining downstairs. Each roomy dome car represents an eight million Canadian dollar investment in our creature comforts. The wild terrain we pass through and its place names are a reminder of what hardships it took to carve this path for the iron horse. Names like Glacier, Salmon Arm, Hoodoos, Black Canyon Tunnel, Jaws of Death Gorge, Avalanche Alley, Jackass Mountain and Hells’ Gate each tell a story. At Craigellachie we pass the “Last Spike” cairn where the railway’s eastbound and westbound construction crews met on 7 November, 1885 — almost six years ahead of schedule. The First Nations’ place names along the way include Sicamous (“in the middle”) and Kamloops (“meeting of the waters”). We roll into the latter after a long day — the Rocky Mountaineer averages a stately 40 kilometres an hour and must make way for 200-car freight trains that have priority. Kamloops promises few highlights other than a good night’s sleep in a hotel bed. Even the alleged thrills of Dr. Love’s Hemp House across the street from my hotel seem to excite no interest among Kamloops’ 85,000 citizens and definitely none from our train’s predominantly over-50’s passengers.



Come morning, we roll west again, towards Vancouver, 460 km away. The hosts keep up the information and occasional quips. One tells me how an earlier passenger asked her, “How much does that mountain weigh?” Her po-faced reply: “With or without the snow, sir?” “If we can’t export the scenery, then we’ll import the tourists,” declared William Van Horne, President of Canadian Pacific Railway in 1888. With the Pacific Coast now connected to Canada’s eastern provinces, his railway had to pay its way. Freight was one thing, but tourists were gold. Van Horne became a booster for alpine tourism and there soon sprang up a number of European-style chalet hotels along the route, in Calgary, at Banff hot springs and beside the sublime blue waters of Lake Louise. The same hotels still host rail travellers today. There are some 70 passengers in our car, ranging from a 98-year old Ontario woman who’s crossing her country coast-to-coast by rail for the first time, to a passive-resistant teen travelling with her family. Totally un-awed by the Rockies and its famous train, she reads the hefty, chick-lit novel, Divergent from cover-to-cover in one day. To make the point, next day she re-reads it. In the aptly-named Avalanche Alley, sturdy concrete “rock sheds” above the line protect trains from the frequent rock-falls. The South Thompson River merges with the Fraser River near a point that whitewater rafters call Jaws of Death Gorge. Further downstream, they don’t even attempt Hell’s Gate, the narrowest point of the Fraser, where the waters rage through a 34-metre wide gap with the volume of two Niagara Falls. We can view all this al fresco from the open-air vestibule at the rear of each dome car. It’s also the perfect place to photograph the long curve of carriages fore and aft as our train rounds the endless bends. The gourmet meals continue, served in mercifully light portions (given our sedentary status), although south of


The Rocky Mountaineer runs from April to October. Departing from Banff or Vancouver, a two-day “First Passage to the West” journey costs: GoldLeaf Service from (approx.) NZ$2,500, SilverLeaf from NZ$2,000 and RedLeaf from NZ$1,500 ➜ ➜

the Canada-US border such restraint might be deemed un-American. I notice that chef Jean Paul Guerin’s fine menu overlooks those curious Canadian staples, “poutine” (chips smothered in gravy and cheese) and “beavertail” (fried dough shaped like, yes, a beaver’s tail). The Rocky Mountaineer, founded in 1990, is North America’s largest privately-owned passenger rail service. They like to do things in style, from silver service dining to streamlined boarding. As we roll into Vancouver to the company’s own railway station, coaches are already waiting to whisk us to our hotels.




L L I W S T H G I L F I N UGI I N R I A T C E R I D ! S R U O H ...NEW 3 N A H T ESS L N I E R E H T U O Y HAVE Rabaul

Travel destinations don’t come more diverse than Papua New Guinea . A cultural epicentre – explore Rabaul and Kokopo, and learn about their incredible WWII history. Dive amongst WWII wrecks, get up close and personal with a live volcano and hot springs, or take a short boat ride to white sandy beaches on the Duke of York islands.


PNG Tourism Promotion Authority

To book Cairns-Rabaul packages contact: PNG Holidays Email: Phone: 1300 36 88 55

Limited Edition


“Limited Edition” implies something extraordinary and rare, which offers something better, more exclusive and more desirable…well, that’s exactly what Virgin Limited Edition do! Virgin Limited Edition is Sir Richard Branson’s collection of stunning retreats. There is a private island, mountain retreat, game reserve, catamaran, lodge, tented camp, vineyard, restaurant and a private members club. Eclectic, yes, but all are unique and operate with the sole aim of creating amazing experiences. Here are just five of these special places for you to enjoy. ➜ | E:

1. Ulusaba, Private Game Reserve



aste the spoils of a safari in South Africa in the peace and tranquillity of the unspoilt African Bushveld. Owned by Sir Richard Branson, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve is the ultimate destination for spotting the ‘Big Five’! Ulusaba is located in the western sector of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve bordering Kruger National Park. At Ulusaba their emphasis is on exceptional personal service. You’ll have the unique sights, sounds and smells of Africa on your doorstep, while still enjoying the kind of style and

luxury you’d expect from a five star boutique hotel. Because Ulusaba is privately owned, you’ll be able to enjoy over 13,500 hectares (about 33,000 acres) of unspoilt, game-rich bush in near solitude. Experienced Trackers and Game Rangers will accompany you on game drives in open Land Rovers, tracking the ‘Big Five’ and sharing with you their vast knowledge of the surrounding wildlife. Retreat in style and comfort at one of two lodges; Rock Lodge is perched high on the summit of a koppie (rocky hill)


whilst 0.5km away Safari Lodge is built along the banks of the dry Mabrak riverbed. Many guests choose to split their stay between both lodges and have the advantage of keeping the same Ranger and Tracker. Apart from twice daily game drives and a daily walk in the Bush with a Ranger and Tracker, guests really need to plan their days to enjoy the other facilities available at Ulusaba. Soak up some sun by the pool or relax at the Aroma Boma Beauty Treatment Rooms with a wide range of treatments. For the more active, play tennis on a floodlit tennis court with a fully stocked bar or work out at the fully equipped gyms any time of the day. Visit the wine cellar at Safari Lodge for a spot of wine tasting with an outdoor dining area for up to six guests or go stargazing at their observatory tucked away in the Bush. They can also arrange cultural, wildlife or scenic tours including helicopter trips and a tour of the local community (at an extra cost) - the proceeds from the community tour are donated to the local village. Don’t forget to pick up some mementos of your stay at the Gift Shop at Safari Lodge. Dine by firelight, candlelight or star light feast on a traditional Braai in the heart of the Bush, or sample the local specialties overlooking the animals wandering by. Let Ulusaba know what you like and they’ll be happy to make it for you. Breakfasts and lunches are organised ‘restaurant style’, but in the evenings guests dine together at communal tables, comparing notes on the animals they spotted that day!


2. Mahali Mzuri, Kenyan Safari Camp



et set for a wild ride on safari in Kenya, where nature always has the last word. This most awe-inspiring of landscapes is the setting for Mahali Mzuri, Sir Richard Branson’s tented camp in a pristine part of the African bush. Positioned within the Maasai Mara ecosystem, this is the place to be for a front row view of the abundant game in the area. The camp is also in the path of the world-famous annual Great Migration. Mahali Mzuri is located in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy and there are 13,500 hectares of bush to explore. Against the backdrop of a valley and sprawling plains as far as the eye can see, visitors to Mahali Mzuri can expect exciting game drives with experienced Guides, delicious meals, a cosy and relaxing atmosphere at their camp and in a uniquely designed, spacious and luxurious tent. Depart in open 4x4 Land Cruiser vehicles, seating a maximum of six guests for early morning and late afternoon game drives. Night game drives are also available and can be arranged by guests whilst at Mahali Mzuri. They can also pack you a picnic lunch and set off on a full day drive to make the most of the bush. Safari Walks can also be arranged, and will be tailored specifically to the guests.

The central Main Tent features a main lounge area with an open fireplace, a library of books, iPads for guest use, iPod docking stations and speaker systems, a games console and a TV/DVD player for those who wish to keep in touch with the news or sport. They also have binoculars available for guests and a telescope for stargazing plus a 12-metre outdoor infinity pool, big enough for a leisurely swim or a refreshing dip. There is a large decked area where breakfast and lunch will be served and a communal table inside seating 24.


treatments using the Africology range of products, which are made from 100% essential oils and natural plant extracts. For game viewing the Olare Motorogi Conservancy has abundant wildlife year round, and Kenya’s position straddling the equator means there isn’t a huge amount of variation in temperature throughout the year.


Tents are perched on a ridge looking over the valley with a distinctive design adapted to the local climate and terrain. There are six tents on either side of the Main Tent, each accessible by a shared walkway, the furthest of which is approximately a 5 minute walk from the Main Tent. In a more secluded spot a short walk from the Main Tent is the spa treatment room offering eco-friendly


3. Kasbah Tamadot, Moroccan Retreat



ituated in the spectacular Atlas Mountains in Morocco, the award-winning Kasbah Tamadot was bought by Sir Richard Branson during one of his famous ballooning expeditions. To the north extends a steep river valley with sheer rocky limestone and forested mountains, contrasting with the view of the snow-capped peaks of the Atlas Mountains on the southern side. To the east, across the river, you can see the traditional Berber village of Tansghart built into the side of the mountain. Kasbah Tamadot employs local Berber staff from the surrounding villages, giving guests a sense of staying in a Moroccan home rather than a hotel.

Kasbah Tamadot is a one hour drive from Marrakech, located near the village of Asni at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and 1,320m above sea level. This Moroccan retreat is perfect for rest and relaxation, and ideally located for exploration of the mountains by foot, bike or mule. Each of the 27 bedrooms, suites and Berber Tents at Kasbah Tamadot is totally unique. All are individually decorated with traditional Moroccan furnishings and antiques with contemporary elements. Whether the rooms have a private hot tub, pool, an exquisitely carved ceiling, or a terrace overlooking the valley, it will feel like a Moroccan home.



The grounds have been planted with a huge variety of evergreen and flowering plants. Within the stepped landscape is the pool complex; the upper terrace is where lunch is usually served and features a bar, while a grand staircase leads down to the infinity pool, reflecting the sky and affording views to the valley below and mountains above. Kasbah Tamadot also features an indoor pool, the spa and a Hammam (Turkish bath). Dining is in a number of locations around the retreat, one of the favourites in summer being the rooftop with breathtaking views. Get a taste for Morocco with Kasbah Tamadot’s cookery

lessons and demonstrations or perhaps visit The Eve Branson Foundation during your stay, which aims to help the local community by setting up sustainable enterprises, including craft house run and managed by locals that teaches skills to young women in the area. Activities within the area are extensive from mule trekking to horse riding, guided mountain biking to the scenic walking treks exploring the High Atlas Mountains and guided excursions to Marrakech or the Oukaimeden route to Mount Toubkal and Setti Fatma Waterfalls. For golf enthusiasts, there are excellent golf courses within the region.


4. The Lodge in Verbier, Mountain Retreat



he Lodge is in Switzerland, perched high in the Alps in a forested area just a five minute walk from the town of Verbier, and only 250m from the main lift station. The nearest international airport is in Geneva, which is about a two hour drive to The Lodge. Or you may prefer to fly into Zurich airport, which is about a three hour drive to The Lodge. Private planes are able to land at Sion Airport, which is only 45 minutes by car from The Lodge. They can also arrange helicopter transfers on request from both Geneva and Sion Airports. As an alternative, you can take the train directly from Geneva Airport and enjoy the scenery to Martigny, a town about a 30 minute drive away. The Lodge can accommodate up to 18 adults in 9 beautiful bedrooms including 2 master suites, and up to 6 children in a specially designed bunkroom.


The food served at The Lodge will be one of the highlights of your stay, and they serve a mix of Swiss and international cuisine. Dining can be as formal or informal as you wish, from full four-course gourmet meals to healthy meals with the children. Meals can be themed, traditional or a mix. Ask the staff for some ideas or give them yours. During winter five resorts around Verbier’s four valleys are tied into one single lift pass, which offers you one of the largest skiable areas in the Alps…for all levels of skiers. Experienced skiers can heli-ski, or slow down a bit and go tobogganing (for adults and children alike). Take a tandem flight and paraglide over Verbier…Après-ski Verbier has a great selection of fabulous bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. In summer there’s something for the adrenalin junkies from paragliding, canyoning, rock climbing, extreme mountain biking, golf to tennis, or hiking. There are some superb golf courses and treks within the region, or you may wish to combine with some of the events and festivals. All year around you can relax in the lounge with the large plasma screen, take a dip in the indoor pool, warm yourself in the indoor or outdoor jacuzzi, work up a sweat in the gym, try a few glasses of red or white from the cellar, enjoy a massage at the in-house spa or simply party and entertain in the party/games room. Why not use The Lodge as your base and enjoy breakfast in Italy, lunch in France and return to The Lodge for dinner?


5. Necker Island, Private Island



ecker, Sir Richard Branson’s private island paradise, is situated in the British Virgin Islands, a stunning and unspoilt area of the Caribbean. At 74 acres, Necker sits in turquoise waters surrounded by coral reefs and fringed with beautiful white sandy beaches. Necker can become your own private hideaway; away from the stresses and strains of daily life. There are plenty of places to lie on the beach and enjoy the sea. Main Beach is where most of the water activities are based and where you will find the Tennis and Beach Pavilion plus an aqua-trampoline anchored to the sea floor. Turtle Beach is a more peaceful palm-fringed beach, with hammocks hanging between the trees. There are many other places where guests can find a peaceful spot to relax and the more energetic can take the two-hour walk around the island to view the flora and fauna.


Necker Island offers a large selection of state-ofthe-art equipment to provide guests with the opportunity to try kite-surfing, sailing, windsurfing, water skiing, kayaking, power boat trips and plenty more. Snorkelling equipment is also available for those who want to go out and blow some bubbles with Necker’s underwater wildlife. There is a decking area with chairs for spectators and even a hammock so you don’t have to be involved in the sports to come down and join the action. The Pool Pavilion has one of the most stunning pools around, located at Main Beach and can be accessed from both land and beach sides. There is a swim-up bar off the freeform infinity pool complete with rocks in the pool where you can sit and enjoy a drink plus a huge Jacuzzi right on the beach with space for more than 20 people. Peace, relaxation and daydreaming is the essence of the spa treatments on Necker Island Spa with two fully trained resident beauty therapists offering a fabulous range of treatments. Great food is synonymous with Necker Island, it’s up to you whether you want to dine on lobster and caviar or a Sunday roast – it can be formal or informal, inside or outside, themed or traditional or a mixture of everything. A fine range of international wines, top quality spirits, international beers and excellent house champagne is also offered. Guests are encouraged to treat Necker like their own home; therefore you are welcome to help yourself to anything you want…any time. Normally Necker Island is hired privately by an individual or group, but during Celebration Weeks, held on selected weeks throughout the year, couples or singles can book individual rooms and share the island with others.

Destination ➜ Gold Coast, Australia


More Australian, More Natural, More Fun!



ith over 1,000 native animals, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is home to one of the largest collections of Australian wildlife in the world. Established over 60 years ago, the Sanctuary has attracted millions of visitors and continues to promote opportunities to get closer and interact with Australia’s amazing wildlife. Set amongst 28 hectares of lush Eucalyptus and rainforest, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is famous for being the most natural and relaxed experience of the big attractions on the Gold Coast. While the rainbow lorikeets, koalas and kangaroos remain their hallmark attractions, visitors can see many of Australia’s iconic species on display in their natural habitat. There are many interactive wildlife opportunities throughout the Sanctuary where you can cuddle a koala, feed a kangaroo, hold a baby crocodile, snake, owl, wedge tailed eagle, brush tail possum, short beak echidna, lorikeets or dingo and have your photo taken.



Included in the admission price is the Wildlife Hospital Precinct where you can watch the vets in action. Dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of not only the local wildlife at the sanctuary, the wildlife hospital admits over 8,500 native animal patients brought in by the local community annually. With each case receiving the highest level of veterinary care, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital works tirelessly with Australian native animals to get them safely back into the wild. To date, over 45,000 native animals have been released and the hospital is one of the busiest Wildlife Hospitals in the world. Sanctuary guests can have a bird’s eye view of the vets working, and can experience the depth that Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has for the care and welfare of the Australian native animal population. Visitors can see xrays, ultrasounds and endoscopes streamed live on a flat screen during the procedure. You can even watch from a surgeon's eye view by a camera mounted on the surgical light. For those eager to learn more, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary conducts hospital tours, as well as wildlife courses to help engage the public in their plight. Optional upgrades are available for the Adventure Parc or guided Segway Safari tour located within the Sanctuary. Set amongst the treetops the Adventure Parc has over 80 thrilling high ropes challenges including bridges, ladders, a tarzan swing and exhilarating flying foxes spread over 5 courses. The Segway Safari allows you to glide through the Sanctuary on an eco friendly Segway. Visitors can choose from a range of options including a 50 minute fully guided Segway Safari or a 10 minute Eco-fun experience, teaching guests how to ride a Segway. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a non for profit organisation with all proceeds reinvested back into the Sanctuary, Hospital and into conservation based research, caring for sick and injured wildlife.


Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has 13 daily shows, with one of the most popular being the Free Flight Bird Show where visitors can meet some of Australia’s most beautiful species of birds including the Australian pelican, colourful parrots, birds of prey, endangered species and the majestic wedge-tailed eagle. These beautiful creatures free fly across the audience in a wonderful display set against the Sanctuary’s natural environment. Last year, the Australiana Show was introduced and is a must see for the whole family. A wildlife presenter is joined by a larrikin shearer, as they set about to discover some of Australia’s wonderful native animals, have a few laughs, learn lessons about the reptiles and shear a sheep. Dr. Doo-Lots is another fast paced, fun-filled show and highlights educational entertainment at its best. The Dr. is joined by his friends, the Creature Teachers, to share fun and interesting facts for everyone. With prize giveaways and chances to get up close and personal with the wildlife, the Dr. Doo-Lots and the Creature Teachers show is great for the young, and young at heart. Each afternoon, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre joins forces to present the Yugambeh Aboriginal Dancers. Celebrating the rich local Aboriginal culture that is embedded in this Gold Coast region, visitors can experience a taste of the Yugambeh language, dance and stories. The traditional dancers share their connection to this land, in all its forms, past present and future. Other notable highlights include the feeding of Boss Hog, a saltwater crocodile, almost 5 metres in length, the cassowaries, wombats, Tasmanian devils, forest fringe birds and koalas.

Destination ➜ Queenstown, New Zealand


Southern Comfort at Its Best Heritage Queenstown and Heritage Boutique Lake Resort, Cromwell



eritage Hotels now have double the reason for a trip to the Otago region. The rapidly expanding hotel group has 21 hotels across 17 New Zealand destinations and two luxury properties in Otago to savour in two distinct parts; first at the perennial Heritage Queenstown and now at the new Heritage Boutique Lake Resort, Cromwell. Award winning Heritage Queenstown has always set the standard for southern hospitality and with its recent refurbishment there is even more reason to set up a base there for a leisurely break.  The hotel’s meticulous upgrade has transformed every room and suite with a stylish new décor boasting modern furnishings, sleek entertainment systems and sumptuous new ‘tranquil beds’, so comfortable guests often ask where they can buy one for themselves.

Heritage Queenstown offers a relaxed but exclusive resort atmosphere and is just a stroll from the busy Queenstown hub. Guests can choose from well-appointed deluxe rooms to self-contained suites, many of which offer outstanding lake views. Lovingly crafted from local schist river stone and timeless in design, Heritage Queenstown is reminiscent of a European ski lodge, complete with a welcoming log fireplace to toast marshmallows at the end of a day’s skiing or escape the occasional chill on a southern summer night.  The exceptional guest facilities include an indooroutdoor heated swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, gym and beauty spa. Also on site is the multi-award winning Icon Conference Venue suitable for weddings and conferences with unparallelled lake views.

The private charter Land Rover tours can be tailored to the time available. In just two hours guests can experience the seemingly treacherous off-road track on the Skippers Canyon expertly navigated by an unflappable entertaining guide. Or, with more time you can take a longer trip to visit famous Middle-earth film locations. After dark, Queenstown shows its real resort stripes. A new ‘must see’ is the 3D Darkride Queenstown experience, where visitors can experience a 3D motion ride set to a number of adrenaline pumping screen situations. Popular for visitors is also a trip to a Queenstown Ice Bar, where you can rug up Eskimo style and boogie to the music amongst the ice carvings or ham it up in the ice photo booth.


Of particular note is the hotel’s Mackenzie’s restaurant, helmed by the multi-talented executive chef, Adrian Lowrey. Under his influence, the hotel has consistently produced notable innovative cuisine since his arrival a year ago. Part of the reason is due to Adrian’s unique skill set as an experienced trained chef with a Bachelor’s degree of Viticulture and Oenology studies under his belt. Adrian brings his sommelier like instincts to his cuisine to skilfully pair the Otago region’s abundant larder with its world-renowned local wine. It’s not just a great hotel that makes a great Queenstown experience, it’s also the local attractions. Heritage Queenstown works closely with several operators including the classic Shotover Jet and a more recent arrival to Queenstown, Nomad Safaris.


Heritage Queenstown



Just under an hour’s drive by car from Queenstown is The Lake Resort, Cromwell, which joined the Heritage Boutique Collection in June 2014. Set on the shores of Lake Dunstan, the five-star property with purpose built marina, enjoys superb views over the lake and is backed by the spectacular Mt. Pisa Range. The architecturally designed over-water villas have been created with a boatshed theme. Hugging the lake’s edge, the elegant villas cater for a couple up to families of as many as eight people. The fully self-contained villas offer high spec spacious interiors and optional outdoor hot tubs in some of the villas. As if that isn’t enough, you can bring your own boat, jetski or kayak to moor next to your villa. The resort has its own ski and board hire shop, plus The Moorings restaurant and bar offers hearty café food in the day, before transforming in to an a la carte dining experience in the evening. Judge for yourself the standard of the cuisine, as locals and visitors-in-the-know crowd in to this popular restaurant. Soon to be completed adjoining the restaurant is a wedding and conference venue for up to 120 people. You might be tempted to just enjoy the lake setting and never leave the luxury of this property, but nearby is the charming Old Cromwell Town Historic Reserve to explore, with a range of charming bijoux shops, cafés and galleries chock full of local artists’ accomplished work. Cromwell is close to a number of superb wineries including Mt. Difficulty, whilst the region’s top ski fields are just minutes away. A unique way to see the surrounding mountains is by Heliview, a Cromwell based helicopter scenic flight operator that can touch down on the snow for passengers to walk about and take some epic photos.

The Lake Resort, Cromwell

Also not to be missed in Cromwell is the unique Highlands Motorsport Park offering a unique ‘Porsche taxi’ experience, where passengers can experience speeds of over 200 kilometres-an-hour around its international standard racetrack. There is also an outstanding collection of racecars to drool over. For those eager to get behind the wheel there is a fun go-kart racetrack also on site. ➜

Extra room. Extra amenities. EXTRA COMFORT

With our new Airbus A330 extra comfort economy seats, you get five or more inches of extra legroom, priority boarding, electrical power outlet, full inflight entertainment pack*, upgraded meal* and comfort kit*. Priority security line# and complimentary ‘Unlimited TV & More’ entertainment pack#. Fly non-stop 3 times a week from Auckland to Hawai‘i and onward to 11 U.S. Cities, including New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles & San Francisco. Or transfer to your favourite Hawaiian Island on one of 170 flights daily. For more information or to make a booking, visit us at, call us on 09 977 2227, or contact your preferred travel agent.

2 x 32kg baggage Complimentary allowance per beverages passenger

Hawaiian hospitality

*For international flights only. # For Domestic USA flights only.

Hawai‘i inspired meals

Entertainment, blanket & pillow

facts: Available for: iPhone and Android devices Where to Get it: Itunes or Google’s Play store Cost: Free For more information: ➜

House of Travel App GENERAL | TRAVEL TIPS

By Mark Devlin


Our latest family trip took us to Honolulu. It’s not somewhere we had been before and we really didn’t know our way around. Having booked our trip through House of Travel, it was suggested we give their app a try, not only does it manage your itinerary but it’s a pocket travel guide, perfect for ensuring you don’t miss any of the must-see tourist attractions. What is it? The House of Travel app is a smartphone based travel manager. The app offers a range of functions including a travel journal, photo albums and an ‘Inspire’ section which allows you to ‘free search’ for other holiday experiences without having any preconceived destinations in mind. There are more than 1,500 travel articles on worldwide locations to review. The app also holds contact details for your travel agent allowing you to easily contact them in the event you need to change your bookings or in case of emergency. The Verdict There are several ways of managing your travel itinerary, ranging from the old school hard copy travel wallet vouchers through to other types of smartphone apps. For me the big advantage of the House of Travel app was that all of your travel details were automatically uploaded for you into the app before your trip. Additions to the schedule were easy to add and meant our entire trip could be kept in one place. Having our details automatically added into the app meant there was zero potential for any confusion over time zones - as well as saving time typing the family’s details into the phone. If you are anything like me, the lead-time before an overseas trip seems to go by particularly fast. Unfortunately, the first time I really get to think through my holiday plans is when I am on board the plane. Fortuitously, most of the House of Travel app functionality works just as well without a WiFi or data connection. You can review your schedule and get tips on entertainment, activities, sights and dining for your destination - all while in offline mode. Another useful feature of the app is a secure electronic locker, which allows you to store digital copies of all your important documents including passports, credit cards and travel insurance. In the unfortunate event of a stolen wallet, photographic records of all these documents are easily accessible to expedite their replacement.

Extending your travel is made easy by connecting to the mobile House of Travel flight-booking engine and the app also offers mobile friendly travel and weather guides for your location as well as a currency exchange tool. The app contains all contacts and quick links to all House of Travel agents, which is handy in the event of an emergency, or if you just want to change your trip bookings while away. A handy future feature here would be adding Facetime or Skype contact details allowing tourists to make free calls to their travel agent while in WiFi areas. However, the app does provide email addresses. The House of Travel app is a useful travel tool offering more than just convenient and accurate management of your itinerary while you enjoy your holiday. The New Zealand designed app has a huge amount of potential to build on its functionality and become a powerful travel assistant tool. In particular as the app integrates more community-based features, it could allow New Zealand travellers to share their reviews and tips.


Destination ➜ Solomon Islands


Go West… 24 hours in the Solomons Words and images by Jacqui Gibson


he Solomon Islands is fast earning a reputation as a multi-faceted destination for travellers keen on exploring, as well as relaxing. There’s world-class diving and snorkelling, traditional culture, WWII artefacts and picturesque getaways. And in just 24 hours in the Solomons it’s possible to sample it all. Stella Lucas, Marketing Information Officer for the Solomon Islands Visitors’ Bureau, is something of an authority on what to do and eat and where to stay in the Western Province. Born and bred in Munda, a local settlement, though based in Honiara these days, Stella knows the region intimately, and she’s one of its staunchest promoters. “If your time with us is limited, my advice is go West…the region has it all. All my worries melt away as soon as I get off the plane and smell the bush fires of village life. That’s what’s great about sharing this place with others – they get to share in that feeling too.” 8.00am Start at Gizo, the region’s main town, says Stella. “Get your bearings by having breakfast at Gizo Hotel’s open air roof top restaurant, Nuzu Nuzu. It’s a great waterfront location to take in the hustle and bustle of the port and marketplace and to see how the locals live. It’s also one of the few places you can check your email. Me, I like to forget about Facebook and get amongst it early. Meandering among the market stalls, you can buy fresh bananas, coconut, papaya and freshen up on your Pijin (English) while you’re there… Halo (hi) and Tanggio Tumas (thank you).” You’ll find the market on Gizo’s waterfront. Villagers come to Gizo from around the province to sell their goods. If you’re keen to try betelnut (the Solomon’s recreational drug of choice), then you can do it here.




Locals recommend chewing betelnut with fruit leaf and adding a pinch or two of limestone into the mix. Some even say a cigarette finishes the whole concoction off perfectly. “Taken together this way,” says one seller, “it gives you the feeling of alcohol.” The taking and sharing of betelnut is a strong part of cultural life and traditional ceremony in the Solomons and is behind the red-toothed grins you’ll see on most villagers.


9.30am Hire a boatman and motorboat at the Gizo jetty and head off to Saeraghi for the full immersion Melanesian village experience. Enjoy a spirited, local greeting. Receive the gift of leis made from fragrant frangipani, as well as a refreshing coconut cocktail (that’s coconut milk, still in the coconut, made from young coconut) upon arrival. Watch a demonstration of locals hand making fire by rigorously rubbing wood together (and give it a go yourself). Check out village life and see how your lunch of locally caught fish, homegrown salad and delicious sweet potato is being prepared in an outdoor hot stone oven. Head to the jetty and leap off it with the village kids before taking in a traditional dance and polishing off an outdoor banquet-style lunch served in flax baskets in the shade of enormous trees. When you’re done, slide into a hammock for couple of zzzs or step into the crystal clear ocean to loll about and look at the fish. “The white sandy beach is pristine at Saeraghi,” says Stella, “And the water an incredible 28 degrees with amazing visibility…leaving this place can be tough I tell you.” 1.00pm But leave you must for an offshore adventure, an afternoon snorkel over a submerged World War II relic. By speedboat, it takes less than half an hour to locate the American fighter plane Betsy, resting just 10 metres below the water’s surface. Extraordinarily, the US Navy Grumman Hellcat is still visible more than 50 years after being shot down during the Japanese and US stoushes of the WWII. For snorkellers, the best time to go is low tide, when the plane literally rises to the surface. You can dive this wreck too. Diving is extremely popular in the Solomons, with the Western Province particularly well known for its world-class diving. Top spots within the province include Gizo itself, Munda and Marovo Lagoon. 3.00pm “No visit to this part of the world is complete without a visit to my hometown,” says Stella of Munda. There’s plenty to do here. Diving and snorkelling are super popular. There’s great food at the Leaf Haus, Ben and Uma Kilsby’s new eatery. But, with just an hour or two up your sleeve, Alphy Barney Paulson’s private WWII museum is a must for heritage buffs. Alphy’s collection dates back to 2002, when he stumbled across a US soldier’s identity tags at Munda Point. From that moment on Alphy became hooked on unearthing war relics and storing them in a leaf hut at the front of his property for public viewing. Today he has an impressive collection of ammunition, machine guns, shells, crockery, helmets and a wide range of personal belongings such as soldiers’ dog tags. “I go out looking for relics most days. I’ve probably discovered more than a hundred thousand items left behind by the Americans and the Japanese.” In 2014,

Alphy received government recognition for his efforts, as well as funding for a wooden building to house the relics. Entry to the museum is $NZ5 per person. 6.00pm After all that action, it’s time to chill. “Head to Fatboys Bar and Restaurant Resort for a cocktail and watch your big day melt away. It takes less than 10 minutes by boat from Gizo and the restaurant is set over the water – so you can enjoy the gentle sea breeze while you kick back,” says Stella. The restaurant’s fresh crayfish is hugely popular (as is the wifi) and the snorkelling in the lagoon is legendary. If you’re staying, there are half a dozen spacious wooden bungalows dotted along the shoreline of Mbabanga Island, all within an easy stroll to the restaurant. “But if you’re after total seclusion in your own private island getaway,” says Stella, “then you might want to take a boat to Patson and Naomi Baea’s place.” The couple run Oravae Cottage, an open-plan wooden bungalow perched over the water. “It has everything you want, great snorkelling, home-cooked food and there’s no-one around – except maybe a local fisherman in a dugout canoe passing by.”

facts: Getting there: There are no direct flights from New Zealand. Kiwis travelling to the Solomons first need to go to Brisbane and depart to Honiara from there. Solomon Airlines flies from Brisbane to Honiara. Fares start at $NZ417, including taxes (one way). Kiwis get a visitor’s permit on arrival for up to 90 days. Solomon Airlines also fly from Honiara in the Central Province to Gizo in the Western Province. Fares start at $NZ292, including taxes (one way). Book online at ➜ Staying there: The Gizo Hotel has rooms from $NZ172 – $NZ205 per night. Best to use it as a base for heading out to the outer islands. ➜ Accommodation at Fatboys Bar and Restaurant Resort is top notch and costs around $NZ250 per night. ➜ Escape to Oravae Cottage and enjoy your own Pacific Island for $NZ115 (meals provided). ➜ What to take: • Sunblock - average temperatures range between high 20s to above 30 degrees • Malaria tablets and repellant – there is malaria in the Solomons • Modest clothing to wear on top of togs and bikinis (which are fine in the resorts but not accepted in the towns and villages) Where to find out more: Drop in and say hi to Stella at the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau in Honiara. She’ll sort you out! ➜

g n i h c i r n E o S Explore the hidden paradise of the South Pacific archipelago, comprising of a vast group of 922 breathtaking tropical islands. War relics from World War II form an important part in the history of the Solomon Islands. Guadalcanal, Iron Bottom Sound and Tulagi are synonymous with war historians a nd veterans. “The Pacific” and 1998 Hollywood blockbuster, “Thin Red Line” have featured the Solomon Islands. Some of the fiercest fighting of the war took place in and around Honiara. Here in 1942.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau Head Office PO Box 321, Mendana Avenue, Honiara, Solomon Islands call (677) 22442 or email


Experience the seemingly untouched battle sites; Betikama School Relics, Bonegi River, American War Memorial, Vilu War Museum, Bloody Ridge, Alligator Creek, Thin Red Line and The Matanikau River. There are many battle sites and relics of the war to be found not only around Honiara, but throughout the Solomon Islands whether it be on land or under the sea.



Lounge in Style By Gayle Dickson


irline lounges can be a hit or miss affair, in my opinion. Some are merely a glorified waiting room that offers little in the way of respite for the traveller, while others really know how to soothe and pamper. On my recent trip to Oman I had the absolute pleasure of utilising the Etihad Airways lounges at both Sydney and Abu Dhabi, and I can reassure you all that both experiences left me with a seldom-felt yearning to linger just a little longer! At Sydney, the Business Class check-in procedure was smooth, efficient and friendly. Staff beamed their smiles from behind immaculate desks in their immaculate uniforms. Thanks to my Express Pass, it wasn’t long before I’d sailed through the formalities and was into the duty free shopping area. I made my way towards Gate 51 which, conveniently, is right about where my Etihad flight would depart from. At the reception, more friendly smiling faces are a sign of what’s to come, along with gleaming marble floors, lighting and lush blooms. If you like, they’ll stow your carry-on baggage here before escorting you to the lounge proper that’s actually one floor down. Once seated in a comfortable leather armchair, I was presented with the customary Arabic welcome of coffee flavoured with dates, along with a glass of champagne. Whether choosing from the drinks or a la carte menu, you’ll no doubt be impressed by the selection on offer. There’s a kids’ playroom, bathroom with showers, business centre, complimentary wi-fi, and male and female prayer rooms. When my flight was called, it was only a short walk to the



gate where Business and First are boarded last – a move I really applaud, as I loathe sitting up front, sipping on my champagne, while other passengers are trundling past. I’ll detail my luxurious flight in a separate article, and move right on to my arrival at Abu Dhabi. A lounge … on arrival? Yes, Etihad has ingeniously provided this so that travellers can unwind and refresh before heading off to meetings. It’s also great for those who can’t immediately check into their hotels! I was met at the top of the air bridge by Paula as part of Etihad’s Meet & Greet service that speeds up the entire arrival process. Men can enjoy a wet shave by the fully trained barbers, and there’s a steam press and shoeshine service. There are individual showers, televisions, a library, a fabulous selection of canapés and beverages, Apple computers and more. When departing Abu Dhabi, I’d honestly suggest you allow yourself plenty of time to luxuriate in the Lounge – you’ll regret it if you have to rush! After all, you’ll have to dine in style, sup a champagne (or two) at the Champagne Bar, check out the entertainment on offer, make use of the complimentary computers, and of course you have to enjoy at least one complimentary treatment at the Six Senses Spa. They’ve thought of absolutely everything, including a smoking room that is well ventilated and luxurious in itself, as well as a Cigar Lounge in the First lounge where you can enjoy a Cuban and Cognac. How often can you say that you’ve actually wanted your flight to be delayed so that you can enjoy an airport lounge and it’s facilities for longer? I did in this instance!

Destination ➜ Auckland, New Zealand


Escape from everyday


Experience a unique one-night cruise around Auckland Harbour and outlying islands with Hauraki Blue Cruises.


tep on board the cruise ship, Hauraki Blue, and set off from Viaduct Harbour, taking in Auckland highlights like the Harbour Bridge, Bean Rock Lighthouse and Devonport as your journey begins, gliding through the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbour and out into the Hauraki Gulf. As you cruise, your skipper will point out key Auckland landmarks including the Hauraki Gulf islands, each with their own distinct personality. Glide by iconic Rangitoto Island, formed by a huge volcanic eruption around 600 years ago; neighbouring Motutapu, one of the earliest places inhabited by Māori; Motuihe, where German prisoner of war Count Felix von Luckner plotted a daring escape and Browns Island, another volcanic island with a fascinating history. You’ll also see Waiheke Island with its golden sandy beaches, vineyards and mixture of quaint Kiwi holiday homes and luxury mansions.

Enjoy the relaxed environment on board your Hauraki Blue cruise, where you can choose to do as much or as little as you like. Try kayaking or snorkelling in the clear Pacific Ocean waters before relaxing with a refreshing drink on the top deck as the sun sets. Eating and drinking: After a day on the water, there’s nothing like sitting back with a drink in your hand and watching the sun go down. Dine on fresh local produce complimented by New Zealand wines and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere, before retiring to your ocean view cabin for the night. In the morning, enjoy a fully cooked or continental breakfast as you cruise back to port, taking in the sights of Auckland’s eastern beaches along the way.

The crew can cater for a majority of dietary requirements – just let them know about your needs at time of booking. Bar charges are not included in the price.

What to bring: A small overnight bag (there is no storage for large suitcases). They also recommend you bring swimwear, sunscreen, sun hat, comfortable walking shoes, warm clothing and a camera. Cost: $299 per person twin/double; $499 per person single: $225 per child ➜


Your cruise: • Overnight Auckland Harbour cruise (departs 3:00pm, returns 9:00am) • Ocean view cabin accommodation (rooms can be configured as either one king bed or two singles) • Cheese platter, plus complimentary coffee and tea throughout your cruise • Three-course dinner including entree, main and dessert • Full cooked and continental breakfast • Activities including kayaking, snorkelling and swimming


Your room: Every cabin has ocean views…and no one can see in except the dolphins. Your experienced crew will find a sheltered cove to moor in overnight. Relax and unwind in your own air-conditioned private room complete with king sized bed (or two singles if you prefer), ensuite bathroom and everything you need to make yourself at home.

Destination ➜ Sydney, Australia


Waterfront Boutique… Sydney style



estled alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge and offering panoramic Sydney Harbour views, Pier One Sydney Harbour (Autograph Collection) is built on, and over, the water…they even have their own private pontoon. The unique Federation-style Sydney accommodation blends heritage with contemporary chic. One of the very few Sydney hotels set in the heart of The Rocks, this boutique property allows easy access to Sydney’s historic dining and entertainment precinct as well as Sydney CBD. Even a slow,

walk around the harbour, past The Rocks, then alongside the bustling ferry terminals to the Opera Hose takes all of about 15 minutes. Guest rooms and suite accommodation of course follow a nautical theme and feature original timber and ironwork that were the centrepieces of the historic Pier One Wharf, with the latest in chic interior design and facilities…and even the occasional telescope. Enjoy an al fresco lunch as the sun shimmers off the water as you dine at their Front Restaurant, experiencing



Pier One Sydney Harbour (Autograph Collection) 11 Hickson Road Sydney 2000 T: + 61 2 8298 9999 ➜


the freshest seafood and produce whilst overlooking the breathtaking Sydney Harbour. (Editor: Please note that the restaurant is closed till the end of the year as it is undergoing what will turn out to be an amazing renovation, with an inspiring array of top quality food…stay tuned) If you wanted to splash out and celebrate with a few friends then this would be an ideal location to celebrate New Year’s Eve in one of the most iconic cities in the world. Indulge yourself in the luxury of the new Harbour View Balcony Suite, fully designed to provide you with spectacular

views of Sydney Harbour, including the famous Australian landmarks of Luna Park, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Kick back and relax on your very own private deck jutting out over the pier, with a designer day bed and arm chair, each carefully positioned to maximise your view to the fullest degree possible. A warm and friendly welcome awaits you – their enthusiastic team looks forward to making your next Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection stay one to remember.

Whether you’re at the beach, bach or overseas – there’s a Blunt umbrella for everyone. Unlike other umbrellas, which can be pretty flimsy and normally end up breaking and being thrown away, Blunt umbrellas are built to last - thanks to its revolutionary award-winning design. Choose from Classic, Lite + or XS Metro. ➜


We have ONE Blunt Lite + black umbrella valued at $129 to give away.


Nothing kills summer fun faster than an itchy sea lice attack, nasty wasp sting, or unbearable mozzie bite. Stingose minimises pain and itchiness from an insect attack or jellyfish sting, so make sure the whole family has Stingose at the ready, so you can kill the pain, not the fun. ➜ We have 2 sets of Stingose spray and gel valued at $30 each to give away.

Make water more exciting with the brand new SodaStream Play! Available in black, yellow, red, blue and white from Farmers, Briscoes, Noel Leeming, The Warehouse and other Stockists. We have one white SodaStream Play! valued at $139 to give away.

New Products + Giveaways Goodbye Sandfly is a natural New Zealand bug repellent for sandflies and mosquitoes and is made from essential oils of Eucalyptus, Lavender, Pine, Manuka, Tea Tree and Lemongrass blended with sweet almond oil. The unique combination of oils delivers both a bug repellent and a skin soother for bites. ➜ We have 5 packs of Goodbye Sandfly to give away. Valued at $55, each pack contains a 40ml dropper and two sprays (50ml for your pocket, and 150ml for the family).

Don’t bake this summer – instead, try the Xen-Tan Luxe Glow Kit ($100) for a healthy glow. The kit contains Transform Luxe, a streak-free gradual self-tanner suitable for daily use; Mist Intense, a weekly self-tanner that’s suitable for both face and body; Face Tanner, suitable for use under makeup. There’s also a silky soft velour tanning mitt to make application easy. For Stockists call: 0800 238754

Incorporating 4 key products - a Deep Cleanser, Exfol A Plus Serum, Resveratrol Cream and Active C Serum, Aspect Dr Starter Kit has been developed to restore skin damage caused by everyday environmental exposure whilst dramatically improving the overall health and appearance of the skin. The range is free of propylene glycol, mineral oils, parabens and other harsh preservative systems. For Stockists call 0800 238754 Enjoy the experience of yoga via a relaxing session with Kathmandu’s Yoga Set, allowing you to practice wherever you want and on your own terms. The complete Yoga Set contains a mat, two foam blocks and durable cotton carry bag. An added benefit is the detachable strap that converts to a stretching band. ➜ We have one Kathmandu Yoga Set valued at $99.98 to give away.

To enter simply email the product as the subject line with your name and contact details to If you prefer post, pop your details and the product name onto an envelope or the back of a postcard (hopefully from a wonderfully scenic location somewhere in the Pacific) and send it to: Giveaways, PO Box 55-199, Eastridge 1146. Entries must be received by no later than 10 January 2015.

TAXI PRICE - CHAUFFEUR SERVICE • Trusted • Reliable • Safe Service • Luxury Vehicles • Airport Transfers • Customised Tours • Relaxing, comfortable with knowledgeable drivers

Safe - Reliable - Affordable

Personal Service

We carry your luggage

Extensive local knowledge

Quality reading onboard

Relaxing and comfortable

Airport transfers

Locations and Reservations Auckland Wellington Christchurch Dunedin Queenstown

(09) 377 0773 (04) 387 4600 (03) 379 5888 0800 789 789 0800 789 789

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