September 2014

Spring is in the air and Early Bird Season is upon us. Now is the time to start planning your travel for 2015.

The G&L team has welcomed a new recruit in Eilish Fahey who has recently joined the team as a junior consultant 3 days a week whilst completing her tourism diploma.

Happy Reading!
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» DESTINATION
» STU'S CORNER
   
 
 
International Luxury Travel Mart
Wendy attended the International Luxury Travel Mart(ILTM) held in Shanghai in June where she had the opportunity to meet with local operators from all over the world as well as hotel owners and representatives. Attending this trade show ensures G&L are up to date with all the latest happenings in the tourism industry around the world.

World's Leading Cruise Summit
I have been invited to attend the Worlds Leading Cruise Summit this month. A 3 day cruise to nowhere where the state of the cruise industry and the huge growth in passengers from Australia will be discussed with all the key international cruise executives.

It's Cruise time!
Jo & I are off to New York next month for a couple of days sightseeing and shopping followed by a Crystal cruise from Quebec to New York!! Jo is super excited as it is 4 years since her last cruise!

Ni Hao
Kristen is in China this week walking the Great Wall and I am sure doing some shopping! Kristen is flying with China Southern, one of the new airlines to fly to Australia and will be experiencing their different classes on offer.
 
   
 
 
Early Bird Airfares
 
Early Bird Airfares are now on sale with most of the major airlines. There are offers in economy, premium economy , business and first class .

Some examples of the great offers out are:-

Economy Class- Return airfare with Emirates from Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne to Amsterdam from AUD1679.00 per person including all fees and taxes

Premium Economy Class – Return airfare with Cathay Pacific from Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne to Rome from AUD3230.00 per person including all fees and taxes

Business class – Return airfare with Singapore Airlines from Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne to Barcelona from AUD7179.00 per person including all fees and taxes

These are just some of the fares available, there are plenty more to all major European cities. Please give us a call on 07 5447 4666 or email on noosa@gregorlewis.com.au for further details. Get in quick as they will not last for long!

 
   
 
 
Exciting New Cruise Charters for 2016
 
Following the amazing success of the two Azamara European charter itineraries for 2015, Cruiseco are delighted to announce two new extended charters aboard Azamara Club Cruises for 2016.The extended itineraries are unique and include many ports not usually seen on a cruise itinerary, focussing on overnight stays and late departures to maximise your time ashore.The Hidden Treasures of the Mediterranean is a 34 night itinerary operating in April and May from Nice to Venice. The 32 night Discover the Atlantic Seaboard of Canada & USA sails from Montreal to New Orleans departing September 2016. Fares start from AUD10,300.00 per person. Please click on the below link for further details.
www.go.cruising.com.au/gregorlewis/cruiseco-2016-luxury-charters
 
   
 
Wendy in Barbados
Silver Explorer in Panama Canal
Fresh Fruit Columbian Style
 
Wendy's Caribbean Sojourn
 
I have recently experienced Silversea's Silver Explorer and cruised through some beautiful and unique parts of the Caribbean. Silver Explorer has a capacity for 132 guests and is one of three Silversea expedition style ships that include shore excursions, often involving the use of zodiacs.

We flew into Panama City which has a modern, progressive side to compliment it's old historical section with markets, food stalls and beautiful buildings. Panama hats are in abundance even though they don't come from Panama! A visit to the Miraflores Lock at the Panama Canal was a must to do and marvel at this amazing engineering achievement. We stood on the viewing platform and watched Silver Explorer come through the lock, then boarded her in Colon on the Caribbean side of Panama the following day.

We cruised through the beautiful and scarcely populated San Blas Islands on our way to Colombia. Our cruise had two stops in Colombia, with a day to explore colorful and colonial Cartagena, then a visit to the sea side port of Santa Marta, the oldest city in Colombia.

A highlight of the cruise was a visit to Los Roques Islands which belong to Venezuela but are quite remote with a tiny population of approximately 1,500 permanent residents. It consists of 350 islands, cays and islets and has been declared a National Park in order to protect its diverse marine and bird life.

We had a day in Tobago, docked at the port of Scarborough and got to explore the island as well as swimming and snorkeling in the beautiful clear water. We disembarked in Barbados and spent a day enjoying the local sights and food.

To find out more on Silversea Expedition cruising of the Panama and Caribbean contact G&L's Wendy Hopping by email on wendyhopping@gregorlewis.com.au or call the office on 07 5447 4666.
 
   
 
Cruiseco Adventurer
Kristen visiting Angkor Wat
Monks in Phnom Pehn
Life on the river
Faces of Angkor Thom
Visiting a local school
Cooking class with onboard Chef
Local dance performance
Sampling snake wine
 
Cruising the Mekong with Kristen
 
What could be better than cruising along the Mekong, enjoying the sunshine and watching life on the river go by?

If you are looking for a getaway that incorporates relaxation, culture, sightseeing, food, history and good company then a Vietnam and Cambodia river cruise might be just what you are looking for.

I recently headed off to experience this fantastic trip for myself.

Cruiseco have put together an exclusive 11 night package including economy class airfares with Singapore Airlines, two nights accommodation in Saigon, seven nights on board the Cruiseco Adventurer, and two nights accommodation in Siem Reap - and with transfers, sightseeing and most meals and drinks included almost everything has been organised for you!

My trip started in Saigon with two nights at The Caravelle Hotel. Local guides joined us to visit the Reunification Palace, City Hall, General Post Office, Ben Thanh Markets, and Notre Dame Cathedral and we still had plenty of time to explore on our own.

We then headed off to board the Cruiseco Adventurer. This purpose built ship takes just 60 guests and is fitted out with all the modern conveniences - combined perfectly with authentic touches.

Our cabin was fitted with comfortable double or twin bedding, split balcony/French balcony, spacious bathroom with large shower and plenty of storage, wardrobe, safe, flat screen TV, DVD player and mini fridge.

The top deck is home to the lounge and sun deck. The lounge is fully enclosed and air-conditioned with large windows, lounge chairs, bar, tea and coffee station and two computers. The sun deck is open air with shade cloth covering, plenty of deck chairs and whirl pool.

The restaurant is spacious and well laid out. Breakfast is buffet style plus a la carte items from a selected menu, lunch is a salad, soup and dessert station plus a three course menu and dinner is a 5 course a la carte menu - with so much food available and options to cater to all tastes you will never go hungry!

Beer, soft drinks, juices, water and local spirits are all included, along with wine at lunch and dinner.

The crew really make this trip special - nothing is too much trouble and the service is always attentive and thoughtful. Special mention must go to the cruise director Rosie - Rosie is always there with a smile and friendly word; she really goes out of her way to ensure every passenger has a memorable trip.

Most day's morning and afternoon sightseeing excursions are offered. The guests are split into two groups and local guides take you out to see what these amazing countries have to offer. Take a junk boat ride through the floating markets, visit handmade brick works, rice paper and silk factories, see the workings of a fish farm, take a rickshaw ride through a local village, see the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, take an optional excursion to the Killing Fields and S21 Detention Centre, visit a local orphanage and school and shop at local markets.

Whilst on board there are plenty of activities and entertainment to keep you occupied - enjoy a folk musical performance, take part in Vietnamese spring roll making and fruit carving with the chef, take in a movie of "The Killing Fields" or lecture by local guides in the lounge, try your hand at lotus flower folding, sample local fruits, enjoy a spa treatment, listen to the musical styling of the on board pianist or sit back quietly and read a book and relax. You can do as much or as little as you like.

After disembarking the ship we completed our trip with two nights in Siem Reap at "Raffles Grand Hotel D'Angkor". This iconic hotel is in a fantastic location with easy access by tuk- tuk to local restaurants, markets, shopping and sightseeing.

These last two days were definitely the highlight of our trip with visits to Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. These iconic temples really do need to be seen to be believed.

Cruiseco currently have some fantastic deals on this great package with prices starting from AUD$3499.00 per person with bonus offers on certain sailing dates.

To find out more on this Asian getaway contact G&L's Kristen Cahill by email on kristencahill@gregorlewis.com.au or call the office on Ph: 07 5447 4666

 
   
 
One&Only Pool Suite
Hayman pool
Qualia pool
Qualia luxury bathroom
 
A taste of luxury close to home
 
Sal and I were lucky enough to escape the big smoke for a sneaky three days checking out the new-look One&Only Hayman Island and take our first, much postponed look at qualia on Hamilton.

The first thing to say is that it is terrific to have two proper, first class luxury joints so close together in Australia. They offer a pretty different experience – Hayman remains a high end, mid-sized resort with 150 rooms while qualia offers the more traditional luxury lodge experience. Each to their own.

When we visited the new-look Hayman, not everything was complete so I suggest putting a visit there off until maybe the early part of 2015 when all the landscaping and new restaurant has been completed. The pool side rooms are absolutely first class – just gorgeously designed and well laid out – you might never want to leave your room.

When you eventually do, the improved food and beverage offering is obvious everywhere and the service is really picking up a notch. When the Aquazure restaurant and bar is in full swing and it will be a great place for a really lovely break with kids or without. The way they are designing the resort with adults only in the rooms by the pool, is clever – it creates a real sanctuary.

Over at qualia you can feel the polish that comes from six years of continued service and constant improvement. The food at qualia really is very good, the little touches are there and the breakfast is stunning. It's a lovely place to spend a couple of quiet days.

And just a note for those of you who love a decent gin & tonic or a martini while watching the Whitsunday sunset – both venues are terrific supporters of the great Four Pillars Gin from the Yarra Valley (which we happen to co-own) so remember to ask for it by name . . . Thanks
 
   
 
Stu and Sally in Queenstown
Audrey on top of Coronet Peak
Luge on top of Queenstown
Amisfield Winery
Matakauri Lodge
 
Family Adventures in Queenstown
 
We had just finished one of the most monumental hamburgers of all time at the legendary Fergburger, having just completed our zip-trekking adventure which just followed on from the lugeing, the gondola-ride and watching mum leap off the side of a hill . . . .And it was only just after noon. And then George (age 8) said it; 'Dad this is better than Disneyland'

Welcome to Queenstown, the coolest, most action-packed, family friendly, picturesque city in the southern hemisphere. And yep, its better than Disneyland.

For five days the Gregor clan had a different helmet on every few minutes.
Skiing at Coronet Peak is easy – it's a gentle 25 minute drive from town and while the mountain isn't huge by any stretch, there are enough good runs to keep most people amused. It's a bit light on for green runs so if you are real beginners looking for a little variety then maybe The Remarkables is a better bet – it's a tougher drive so maybe catch the bus.

The Shotover Jet is as good as everybody tells you. Seriously it's unreal – so it might have been one of the single coldest experiences of my life and the wife might have been ever so slightly petrified, but it's a proper blast. Don't miss out.

We stayed at the Hotel St Moritz which I reckon is perfectly located just above the hustle and bustle of Queenstown's main drag – its just a five minute walk to any bars and restaurants and actually has a pretty good Italian joint, Lombardi, in-house. It's a part of Accor's M Gallery; this is really an Accor town with Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and M Gallery all taking prime position. We were not much of a rap for the breakfast at Lombardi so take yourself into town and get to Vudu café on Beach Street. Seriously one of the best breakfasts EVER, and definitely the best I've ever had in NZ.

And of course there is Fergburger –the most famous burger in New Zealand, maybe the world. There is a constant queue from 8 in the morning till 4 the next morning but the staff are friendly, the cooks work incredibly hard and goddam it, they are bloody terrific burgers.

And while adventure is Queenstown's ace in the sleeve for the young at heart, the thing that makes it better than Disneyland for we grown-ups is the food and drink. Seriously world class. Well it's Central Otago after all – one of the world's great pinot noir regions. We had a terrific lunch and family petanque tournament at Amisfield where I definitely recommend taking the chef's choice. And yes the kids won the petanque (just!) A quick drive from Amisfield will take you over the original bungee bridge to Chard Farm, a long term favourite of mine and the drive into their cellar door is worth the trip alone. Simply stunning and great wines.

The list goes on – we popped our heads into Matakauri Lodge and I swear the wife was about to start weeping, such was the majesty of the view. She must have stopped a thousand times and just marvelled at the Queenstown views – they're pretty good.

And we didn't even get to Wanaka which all the locals reckon is even prettier, we didn't get to ski Cordrona or drink a whole raft of other excellent wines. We didn't get to play golf at Jack's Point or Millbrook . . we didn't eat at Rata in town or even get to Saffron in Arrowtown which good judges just rave about. That'll be for next year, or the year after. We are Queenstown converts – after all, it's better than Disneyland.
 
  Gregor & Lewis | 11 Arcadia St, Noosa Heads, Queensland, 4567 Australia
T + 617 5447 4666 | E noosa@gregorlewis.com.au | W www.gregorlewis.com.au