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John Rozentals’ Travel Briefs For Week Beginning 18 Feb

February 11, 2019 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

Travellers to Tropical North Queensland can now tap into insider local knowledge on the Great Barrier Reef with what is thought to be the region’s first destinational chatbot, ‘Locals of Tropical North Queensland’.

From unique marine life to the best diving locations, the chatbot provides tourists with the means to explore and plan their trip to the reef.

Marine biologist Gareth Phillips and scuba-diving instructor Tanya Murphy are the first people to feature on the chatbot.

Tanya, for instance, has worked on the reef for over seven years and is still blown away by how it can be so different each day.

“As a scuba diver, tourists often ask for recommendations on how and where to dive on the reef,” she said.

“Now they can literally pull up my chatbot on their phones and ask away.”

 Ironman Australia … special deals with Mantra.

Mantra Hotels, now part of the Accor group, has teamed with Ironman Australia to become official accommodation provider at seven events ranging in location from Port Macquarie in NSW to Port Douglas in northern Queensland.

Mantra Hotels is offering 10 per cent discount on selected resorts at each event location.

For instance, at the Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast at Mooloolaba in September, Mantra Mooloolaba Beach, located in the heart of the triathlon action, is offering deals of from $300 per night for a one-bedroom apartment.

Phone 1300 987 603 or visit

Kimo Estate … an edgy, modern aesthetic. Image: Hilary Bradford.

Kimo Estate, situated on a working 7000-acre farm near Gundagai, NSW, is designed to give guests a memorable rural experience with an ‘edgy, modern aesthetic’.

The romantic option is JR’s, an eco hut perched high on the hill, with 360-degree views of Murrumbidgee River Flats and Kimo Valley.

Kimo has also firmly established itself as a wedding destination, offering a restored barn reception venue as well as authentic shearer’s quarters with six bedrooms to accommodate larger groups.

 Metro Darwin … looking after the kids.

Metro Advance Apartments & Hotel, in Darwin, is offering a ‘Kids VIP Play & Stay Package’ priced from $194 per night in a two-bedroom apartment.

The package includes: breakfast provisions replenished daily, kids’ tepee chill-out corner, toy box with games, children’s DVDs, kids’ take-home bag with snacks and drink plus activity pack, free wi-fi, 11am checkout and free parking.

The apartments contain a queen bed and two single beds.

The package is generally recommended for children aged 2-8 years of age.


 Artist’s impression of the new Moxy Melbourne South Yarra … ‘redefining the traditional affordable hotel experience’.

Moxy Hotels, described by operator Marriott International as a ‘playful, experiential hotel brand for the next generation of travellers’, will debut in Australia mid-2021 with the opening of the 180-room Moxy Melbourne South Yarra.

With 30 operating hotels across Europe, North America and Asia, Moxy Hotels is said to ‘redefine the traditional affordable hotel experience’, allowing guests to work, play and connect while surrounded by ‘bold design and contemporary style’.

The hotel living room is crafted for ‘the socially extroverted, energetic consumer’, with social spaces including a ‘high-energy’ lounge, 24/7 self-service grab-and-go food and drinks, plug-ins for personal devices and free wi-fi.

Guests at the new property will be a short walk from Chapel Street — Melbourne’s trendy shopping and entertainment strip — and South Yarra Station.


Chimu … offering an affordable Antarctic experience.

Chimu Adventures is offering its 11-day ‘Discover Antarctica’ itinerary, aboard the Ocean Endeavour, from $7090 per person in a triple cabin, making affordable a destination previously viewed as a preserve for only wealthy travellers.

The ship is sailed in partnership with Peregrine and will be operated to strict environmental standards.

There will be no more than 199 passengers per departure, no single-use plastics on board, every expedition will be carbon offset, and only sustainable seafood will be served.

Being a small ship, it will be able to access remote areas which larger vessels are unable to, witnessing scenery such as glaciers and icebergs and wildlife such as penguins and seals.


Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 in New York … often described as the world’s last true trans-Atlantic ocean liner.

Complimentary onboard spending money and gratuities are available on an extended crossing of the Atlantic Ocean this July aboard what is often described as the world’s last true trans-Atlantic ocean liner, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

Cruise Express is offering a 23-night fly-stay-and-cruise package based on a two-week passage across the Atlantic via Iceland.

Its ‘Ultimate Crossing’ package begins with a flight from Australia to London for an indulgent three-night stay at the Savoy Hotel, located next to the Thames River on the Strand near Covent Garden.

The cruise takes passengers to the spectacular geysers, hot pools and thundering waterfalls of Iceland for an overnight stay in the capital, Reykjavik, before three days of sailing across the North Atlantic will allow passengers to enjoy the ship’s black-tie balls, white-gloved high teas, spacious teak decks, sumptuous lounges and fine dining restaurants.

The voyage ends in New York where Cruise Express has organised three nights at the prestigious Pierre Hotel next to Central Park.

Including flights to London and back to Australia from New York, the 23-night ‘Ultimate Crossing’ package is available from $9990 per person twin-share. Bookings made by March 31 will receive complimentary gratuities.

Phone 1300 766 537 or visit

 Exodus Travels … holidays for the whole family.

Winter wonderlands, jungle adventures, all-you-can-eat pizza and summer canoeing all sound like a helluva good time with the family.

They’re among the holiday adventures that Exodus has launched as a collection of family tours.

The idea was born when the company noticed that many customers were putting their travel experiences on hold to have children as they didn’t think they could enjoy active travel with them in tow.

The packages are designed to encourage children to learn and make lifetime friends from around the world, and Exodus has segmented the tours into two different groups to ensure families on each tour have children roughly the same age.

Trips range from seven-to-14 days and are priced from $1885.


The Rees … a wonderful outlook.

A dinner on April 5 featuring wines from Canterbury’s Pyramid Valley will begin this year’s ‘Culinary Series’ dinners at The Rees Hotel in Queenstown, NZ, providing an unnecessary excuse to visit this wonderful South Island city.

The Rees’ Executive Chef Ben Batterbury is a culinary expert with a polished repertoire that includes French and English fusion recipes mingled with the flavours of New Zealand.

Tickets to the dinner are $NZ135 per person, but I’d certainly recommend the accommodation package, which costs $NZ335 per person twin-share and also includes a night’s accommodation and breakfast.


 Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse … at the end of the world and a highlight of jetting around South America.

It certainly isn’t cheap, but if you have the readies then who cares?

Frontiers International Travel is offering a tour of South America by private jet in October and November this year, visiting Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.

Guests will experience cultural encounters, all-inclusive sightseeing, luxurious accommodations, and gourmet meals at the finest restaurants in each country.

Highlights include visiting Bogota’s Gold Museum with a curator, touring the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, witnessing Iguazú Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world, cruising the scenic Beagle Channel on a private boat and viewing the sea life and monuments along the coast, and visiting of the home of Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate and Diplomat, Pablo Neruda.

The cost of $79,900 per person twin-share includes round-trip international business class air and suite accommodations.


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