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Travellers’ Good Buys Compiled By John Rozentals

May 27, 2017 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

Abercrombie & Kent has released its new hosted small-group journeys program featuring 22 creatively designed, expert-led journeys to emerging destinations and hard-to-get-to places.

Guests travelling on these journeys will be taken off-the-beaten-track to remote, little-explored destinations where conditions can be challenging but where A&K’s insider knowledge and expertise ensures security and comfort.

Each journey also gives meaningful cultural, culinary and educational encounters.

Experiences include a voodoo ceremony in West Africa, reindeer sleigh rides in northern Norway, hiking to ancient monasteries in Georgia, visiting a micro-financed knitting enterprise in Southern India, Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico and a shaman ritual in Guatemala.

The 16-day ‘West Africa: Kingdoms, Slaves and Voodoo’ itinerary, for instance, is priced from $12,150 per person twin-share.

Visit www.abercrombiekent.com.au.

Sheraton Resort & Spa Tokoriki Island … available from $200 per night.

Marriott International has launched a winter sale, offering discounts of up to 25 per cent off accommodation at a range of 26 hotels and resorts across the Pacific, including Australia, Fiji, New Caledonia and Samoa.

Bookings must be made by July 2 for stays until October 8

Discounted rates start from $109 per night at Courtyard by Marriott Sydney-North Ryde.

Moving further afield, the sale prices at Sheraton Resort & Spa Tokoriki Island, one of Fiji’s premier resorts, start at $200 per night.

Visit www.marriott.com.au.

 An icon of paradise … an overwater bungalow at Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort.

The overwater bungalow was first conceived and built in the lagoon of French Polynesia’s Raiatea in 1967 by three American hotel owners known as The Bali Hai Boys.

They took traditional local Polynesian grass huts and set them on concrete stilts over the water’s edge — an accommodation style which has become a quintessential icon of paradise.

Sofitel Hotels & Resorts in French Polynesia has become one of the overwater bungalow’s greatest proponents and, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the The Bali Hai Boys’ inaugural step, is offering a complimentary lunch for two people per stay for every booking made in an overwater bungalow before December 31.

Visit www.sofitel.com.

Sundance Guest Ranch … horseback riding is the key focus.

A range of ranches in Canada’s British Columbia is offering a slice of proverbial birthday cake to help celebrate the country’s 150th anniversary this year — and stressing what differentiates them from the competition across the US border.

“What differentiates these ranches from their US counterparts is their proximity to the vast wilderness of the Canadian Rockies,” says Gene Kilgore, a leading American authority on ranch vacations.

For instance, Sundance Guest Ranch in British Columbia’s Thompson River Valley and some four hours from Vancouver, dates from 1864 and lies in one of Canada’s sunniest spots.

Horseback riding is the key focus but there’s also a heated outdoor swimming pool, ample opportunities for massages and plenty of focus on gourmet food.

Rates at Sundance start from about $370 per person per day twin-share, with significantly lower youth and child rates.

Visit www.top50ranches.com.

 Swimming with whales in Tonga … a close encounter of the memorable kind.

A record whale season is expected in Tonga this year, and Majestic Whale Encounters’ nine-night tour in September aims to make the most of this, incorporating stays and whale swims at two eco-resorts, as well as kayaking, snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding and a complimentary massage.

Book by June 20 and you’ll save $700 per couple, paying from $4625 per person twin-share, excluding flights from Australia to Tonga.

Resort accommodation is on Ha’apai Island and Fafa Island.

The package includes nine nights accommodation (including a night on arrival near Tonga’s international airport), local inter-island flights, all main meals, transfers and four days of swimming with whales.

Phone 0405 594 253 or visit www.majesticwhaleencounters.com.au.

 Eco-hut in the Kosciuszko National Park … close to world-class trout fisheries. Image: Mark Kelly.

The NSW Government has begun an initiative to develop wilderness fishing opportunities via an eco-hut program, involving the establishment of remote eco-fishing huts in national parks and other areas across the state.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries and the National Parks and Wildlife Service are promoting ‘wilderness’ and ‘remote’ fishing opportunities to NSW anglers and their families, and the first trial has just been conducted on a remote heritage-style hut located in the Kosciuszko National Park, close to a number of quality trout fisheries.

“The huts will go to the heart of the fishing experience — a sensational catch, and a picturesque setting far away from the hustle of the city,” said Peter Turnell of the DPI.

NPWS has an extensive range of appropriate huts available, with some potentially able to be renovated for use as purpose designed eco-fishing huts.

Visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au.

APT guests embark on a high-powered boat ride at Kimberley’s Horizontal Falls.

Take an 11-day APT Kimberley Coast cruise in 2018 and your companion will score a free Qantas return flight from Australian mainland capitals to the north-west.

The deal applies to bookings made by July 31 and to cruises on all three of APT’s Kimberley vessels — the 110-passenger ultimate expedition ship MS Caledonian Sky, the mega-yacht L’Austral and the more intimate, newly refurbished Coral Discoverer.

With its secluded coves, spectacular waterfalls and fascinating rock formations, the Kimberley Coast offers cruisers plenty to explore, from King George falls, where the river plunges 80 metres over sandstone cliffs, to the tidal phenomenon of Horizontal Falls.

The MS Caledonian Sky, for instance, will offer six departures in 2018 on an 11-day itinerary priced from $11,995 per person twin-share.

Phone 1300 196 420 or visit www.kimberleywilderness.com.au.

 Lots to do on the new Pacific Explorer … including availing yourself of these twin waterslides.

Cruise Express has balcony cabins available for a six-night Melbourne Cup cruise this November aboard Pacific Explorer, which is scheduled to debut in June as P&O Cruises’ latest and biggest-ever Australian ship.

The round-trip sailing departs Sydney on November 4 and features two nights docked in Melbourne, where Cruise Express guests will receive free transfers, entry to Flemington Racecourse and a fully inclusive ‘VIP Winning Post package’ for the cup.

The package includes grandstand seats at the winning post, silver-service buffet luncheon in a reserved area, afternoon tea, selected ales, spirits and premium wines, all-day waiter service, entertainment, tips from racing personalities, race book, full tote and bookmaker facilities and fun competitions and giveaways trackside.

Balcony cabins are priced from $3990 per person twin-share, with mini-suites available from  $4990 per person twin-share.

Phone 1300 764 509 or visit www.cruiseexpress.com.au.

 Maryborough’s Relish Food and Wine Festival … something for the gourmet in us all.

Maryborough will host its annual Relish Food and Wine Festival on Saturday June 3, with the heritage Queensland city’s heritage portside precinct as a backdrop for a day of gourmet indulgence.

Leading chefs that will be shining the spotlight on the Fraser Coast region’s finest produce. Dig into fresh Hervey Bay scallops, gourmet sausages and cheeses, all matched with awarding-winning wines and some of the finest craft beers from across south-east Queensland.

There will be cooking demonstrations, boat rides along the mighty Mary River, and stalls from some of the region’s favourite restaurants, cafes and producers.

Visit www.relishfrasercoast.com.au.

 The Great Ocean walk … some of Australia’s most spectacular coastal trekking.

Book any of Life’s An Adventure new Great Ocean, Grampians or Wilsons Promontory three-day Victorian walking experiences before June 30 and save $600 per couple.

Have your main pack transported for you, and enjoy ‘wow’ factors such as a Wilsons Promontory cruise to start your walk in a remote region, and spectacular helicopter rides on the Grampians and Great Ocean walks.

On all walks guests stay in boutique accommodation with a touch of luxury — such as the charming Church House Gourmet Retreat on Wilsons Promontory, and Alkina Lodge on the Great Ocean walk.

Tours are genuinely all-inclusive and, with the saving, are priced from $1299 per person twin-share.

Phone (02) 9975 4553 or visit www.lifesanadventure.com.au.

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