Dear G + L traveller

We can't quite believe the end of year is here and we want to wish all our clients a wonderful year of travelling ahead. We hope you enjoy our last postcard for the year with some great specials and our latest travels. Here's to a cracker 2012!
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Lovely Lola
The G & L team at Noosa Junction
 
Christmas Cheers from Gregor & Lewis HQ
 
Christmas fever has arrived at Gregor & Lewis and we wanted to thank all of our valued clients for travelling with us in 2011. We are all passionate travellers at
G & L and it's been a challenging year in some regards – our hearts go out to everyone affected in Christchurch and Japan.

Also, in lieu of Christmas cards this year, we are going to donate $400 to the School of St Jude in Tanzania. We like to spread the Christmas cheer at G & L!

We would also like to introduce you to our two latest members. Firstly Amelia Goodridge-Gaines (that's Amelia at 11 o'clock on the left!) joined us a couple of months ago and we love having her on board.

And Lola, our gorgeous cavoodle arrives in January. We are very excited!

 
   
 
Bonjour Ann!
 
Ooh la la with Ann Rickard
 
Local Sunshine Coast resident , journo & travel author, Ann Rickard, is off on another one of her jolly jaunts to the South of France. Join Ann and her husband Geoffrey at a gloriously refurbed 18th century villa in Vers Pont du Gard for a two-week stay with visits to gorgeous local towns such as Rousillion, Les Baux, Gordes and Arles. Meet the locals, trawl the daily market towns for the best produce of the day, visit wine caves, see cooking demonstrations or frolic in sunflower fields. There's also plenty of time to relax by the pool back at the villa. This delightful Provencal trip is only open to eight guests and will be going in June 2012 and June 2013, so be quick. Prices from EURO3850.00 per person twin share. Please contact Gregor & Lewis for more details.

 
   
 
Exclusive Gregor & Lewis offer with Indochina Pandaw
 
We love Indochina and one of our favourite ways to travel is to cruise down the Mekong with Indochina Pandaw between Vietnam and Cambodia. This is a special offer only for Gregor & Lewis clients and includes three departures on 29 January, 5 February and 26 February 2012. The offer is from AUD2899.00 per person for an 11-night package including return economy class airfare from Australia with Singapore Airlines, 7-night cruise in an upper deck cabin, 2 nights accommodation in 5-star hotel in both Saigon and Siem Reap, transfers, sightseeing, most meals and unique experiences! So get in quick before it sells out. This is an exceptional offer at the best time of year to travel there.


 
   
 
One of the many Mainz locks
Beautiful barging
 
Europe by Riverboat and Barge
 
The only way to see the beautiful towns along the rivers of Europe is by riverboat and Tauck is certainly the one to cruise with. With fewer people on board than other riverboats, on Tauck there's roomier restaurants, larger cabins plus more space to simply move around. Tauck staff are also continually rated the best around.

Melinda thinks the greatest thing about river cruising is you only need to unpack once to see multiple towns without changing accommodation – just think fairytale castles, medieval towns and picture-perfect villages every turn - and all the terrific food on board, of course.

Tauck European river cruising is becoming very popular in Australia and already many itineraries for 2012 are filling up. So if you are planning a trip to Europe next year, perhaps in the South of France or the popular Danube from Prague to Budapest, call us now. Melinda is happy to chat you through her recent trip.

If barging is more your speed, Wendy has recently inspected 3 barges on the Canal du Midi in the South of France. She suggests you board a barge to immerse yourself in French provincial life. Barges travel at a leisurely pace, stopping for sightseeing, push bike rides and visits to authentic market towns.

There are a number of barges operating throughout France and most accommodate between 4-12 guests in comfortable cabins with ensuites. The crew is well trained to cater to your every whim, and the chef will serve gastronomic meals with carefully selected wines.

Why not charter a barge with a group of friends to provide a very unique and memorable holiday experience? Sounds like fun. We have exclusive access to a Barge Broker, so if this is your thing give us a call.
 
   
 
Sal and Stu at Craggy Range
The incredible course
Kidnapper's lodge
The farm and property
 
Take me away to Cape Kidnappers
 
You've seen the pictures – the tongues of green on the sheer cliffs heading out to sea on New Zealand's west coast. If you are a golfer you've dreamt about it – you know that Julian H. Robertson, he of an endless pit of money and disarmingly good taste for a hedge-fund guy from the States, built it, just as he did Kauri Cliffs further north in the Bay of Islands and his son Jay is now Managing Director of the properties.

You know that it's in Hawkes Bay, the NZ wine region with the hottest reputation for syrah; the Kiwis think it sounds better than shiraz – don't worry it's the same thing but just a little bit spicier, and damn me it is very good indeed.

A trip to Kidnappers should start with a tour of Hawkes Bay – you need to go to Craggy Range, created by another 'multi', this time an Aussie with American blood, TJ Peabody, who has built one of the great wineries of the world. It's a brilliant place to visit, has a classy and elegant restaurant and a view to die for . . . in fact wife Sally said she would more than likely marry her second husband there . . .nice.

Craggy doesn't make a bad wine, taste them all but save some space for the Sophia – probably the best Bordeaux blend in NZ and the Le Sol – their top Syrah, one of the best three in the country.

There is another terrific restaurant in Hawke's Bay, just outside Havelock North called the Black Barn, they also offer luxury self contained accommodation. The food and service is terrific, the wines sadly don't quite live up to the food. But one of you will be the driver and it's a lovely experience.

So you taste a few wines and have lunch and then you drive to Kidnappers. A word of advice – it's awesome. New Zealand knows lodges. We know that. Their lodges are plentiful and superb, and this is one of the best.

The lodge sits high on a ridge only a kilometre or so from the golf course and of course it's terrific, the service first class, the food regional and delicious and the wine list extensive. Of course, as it happens, Mr Robertson also owns the Dry River wine estate in Martinborough, one of New Zealand's most famous wineries. I think Dry River is perhaps a little over-hyped but better judges than me simply drool at its availability at Kidnappers, multiple vintages of multiple varietals. Dry River is kind of like New Zealand's Rockford – waiting lists and cult status. . . .you get the drill. You will rarely see as many of them anywhere as you will at Kidnappers.

The rooms are brilliant – beautiful, well appointed, plenty of space for clubs and golf gear.

And then there is the golf course. What's left to say? In October this year, US Golf magazine rated it number 33 in the world, that is one place in front of New South Wales and six spots behind the No. 27 Kingston Heath – two of the great courses of Australia. Is it that good? Yep. It's breathtakingly dramatic, it is challenging, it has enough tee positions to make it playable for most standards and it's a joy to play. The clubhouse is brilliant – brilliantly simple in a farmhouse sense, there are plenty of American staff to look after you and nothing is too much trouble. In fact, I played twice and spent some time in the clubhouse, on the range and in the bar and let me tell you there's more than a few exclusive Aussie clubs that could learn a thing or two about service and value from the boys and girls at Kidnappers.

There are plenty of signature holes, you don't need me to tell you about them but No.15 is awesome and 18 is a terrific finishing hole.

In essence, Kidnappers is brilliant. Go there immediately if you like golf, good food, great wine and world class service . . .and well that's all of you isn't it?

Ask us about Kidnappers gourmet weekends - Neil Perry, Rick Stein, Mark Best to name a few have all cooked and golfed at Kidnappers. Get in quick.
 
   
 
Stu in the Mugaritz kitchen garden
Shuffleboard is the new petanque
The lovely Marina
Poolside aboard Marina
 
Oceania's Marina - far from just a floating hotel
 
At G & L – the Gregor and Lewis parts have all spent some time this year onboard Oceania's newest ship Marina. Melinda cruised on her European maiden voyage in April while Stu and Sal cruised through the seas of Europe in August.

We had a brilliant time – the ship is stunning as is the food and wine. The onboard cooking school is seriously one of the best things you will experience on the water – with the possible exception of 5pm shuffleboard with double gin and tonics . . . now that was a revelation!

We visited some stunning ports down the western side of France, right around the top of Spain, Casablanca and the Seville, Barcelona and both the Italian and French Riviera.

Highlights included a visit to the world's number three restaurant, Mugaritz, in the hills behind San Sebastian – we went there from St Jean de Luz near Biarritz – it was easier than going from Bilbao and meant we could spend a day at the Guggenheim – nice advice thanks G & L.

We also visited the oldest tapas bar in Seville – dating back to the 1600s. And we learnt plenty about food and wine on board. To be honest the food and wine on board the ship blew us away...totally. Read on.

Oceania Cruises, and particularly the new ships Marina and Riviera, fancy themselves as offering just about the best food on the water. Well, I was determined to make my own mind up and also to put their wines to the test. They both passed with flying colours.

The restaurants are universally excellent with a couple deserving special mention – Polo Grill for the quintessential American upmarket steakhouse experience and La Reserve, for one of the most exciting food and wine matching experiences you are likely to enjoy anywhere – on or off the water.

I was stunned, seriously stunned by the calibre of our night at La Reserve. If it was on land it would have a Michelin star. Simple as that.

How's this for starters? Lobster and marscapone pancake with a baby carrot emulsion and a glass of Pommery Brut Rose . . .I mean seriously that's a damn straight stunning amuse bouche and it does what it is intended to do – it sets expectations that really hit the top shelf. And the standards do not slip from this moment.

La Reserve is a small room with just 24 seats, it costs only $US75 a head and it is worth every cent . . and quite a bit more to boot. Book it the day you confirm your trip – if you are serious about food and wine you will not want to miss it.

Throughout the evening we had wonderful company including, entirely coincidentally, my old lecturer in viticulture from Australia's pre-eminent winemaking university, who was as impressed with the food and wine as the wife and I were and he is an upmarket cruising veteran.

In essence Marina offers plenty of great wine experiences – the wines you taste at the cooking school are excellent and regionally correct – I had a terrific Chianti Classico one morning while cooking Pasta Michaelangelo at 10am, and we attended an excellent masterclass presented by the on-board sommeliers in Jacques one lazy (and quite hazy) afternoon at sea.

And something I loved was the fact you could take a bottle of wine you might have purchased onshore, to any of the excellent restaurants on board and pay a reasonable $20 corkage to drink it with any of the restaurant's fine food.

So go find a great little 'cave' wherever you stop and seek out the best local wines you can afford.

Marina lives up to the hype – in fact it exceeds your expectations by quite a margin. If there's better food and drink on the water anywhere, I'd be very keen to try it. For now, it is my singular benchmark and I think it might be a while before it is beaten.
 
 
  G & L travellers Gerry and Trish Nettleton talk about bears, Banff and garden breakfasts  
   
  Trish and Gerry on tour  
  1. What countries did you visit on your holiday? Canada and USA, including Alaska.
2. Did you include a cruise in your holiday? Yes, a Silversea cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage (Seward) via the Inside Passage.
3. What was the highlight of your trip? The brown bears at Knights Inlet. Unbelievable! We would have loved to have stayed an extra day to see the killer whales (orcas). The drive from Jasper to Banff via Lake Louise was also fantastic.
4. Favourite place you visited? Nantucket Island. The architecture and colour, the history behind the island, great people, great accommodation and breakfast in the garden.
5. Most memorable moment? Floating down the river at Knight Inlet when a mother brown bear with her two cubs emerged from the grass and ran into the water for a play. The two cubs then began playing in the water, getting distracted from how far away they were getting from their mother. Once the cubs realised, they jumped out of the water and ran towards their mother. Amazing!
6. Anything you would change? We would have more time in Lake Louise.
7. Where to next? Paris of course, a must do every year.
8. Why travel with Gregor & Lewis Bespoke Travel? They look after everything – it makes travelling so easy.
 
  Gregor & Lewis | 11 Arcadia St, Noosa Heads, Queensland, 4567 Australia
T + 617 5447 4666 | E noosa@gregorlewis.com.au | W www.gregorlewis.com.au