Dear G & L travellers - December 2009

To celebrate the end of 2009, we thought we should cast one last temptation your way. Fancy a two-night getaway with Rick Stein in March? Yes, G & L are hosting an exclusive trip to Bannisters at Mollymook , NSW, where Rick will host you for dinner and teach you to cook. We hope you've had a wonderful year - 2010 is looking like being a great year for adventure. Safe travels and Happy Christmas.
» MELINDA'S MARKETPLACE
» DESTINATION
» Q&A WITH G&L
» SAL'S TOP TEN
   
 
Rugby World Cup 2011 by ship?
 
As a member of Cruiseco, G & L have access to some exciting cruises co-inciding with Rugby World Cup 2011, New Zealand. See the quarter-finals, semi-finals, Bronze Final or Final on an 8 or 13-night cruise of a lifetime aboard Rhapsody of the Seas, exclusively chartered by Cruiseco. Be a part of the largest sporting event in 2011 hosted by a sports-loving nation so rich in Rugby heritage and tradition – whilst effortlessly cruising beautiful New Zealand aboard a World-class superliner. Contact G & L for more details.
 
   
 
Early Bird Airfares 2010 and Cruises 2011
 
Early Bird deals are out now, so if you are planning a trip to Europe next year now is the time to lock in your dates and book your airfares. There are early bird deals out on most of the major airlines in Economy Class and a few like Etihad Airlines have them in Business and First Class also. Most need to be booked and paid by early January so give us a call or email to find out the best deal for you.

Cruise lines also have early bird deals out for 2010 and 2011 so If you are planning a special cruise now is the time to get in and secure your cabin.
 
   
 
Spa with a view
Rick on the deck at Bannisters
South Coast dreaming
 
Come dine with Rick Stein and G & L
 
On March 10 and 11 2010, Rick Stein will host a small group at the gorgeous Bannisters boutique hotel on the NSW South Coast. Last October, Rick opened his restaurant, Rick Stein at Bannisters, and we invite you to come and eat, cook and play with Rick and G & L's Stuart Gregor who will match Tapanappa wines to Rick's seafood-rich menu.

This two-night South Coast gourmet getaway includes:
* Two night's twin share accommodation in an Ocean Deluxe room at Bannisters
* Dinner with Rick on the first night with wines by Brian Croser's Tapanappa wines and Bollinger Champagne.
* Morning cooking demonstration with Rick Stein
* Afternoon wine class with Stuart Gregor and Tapanappa wines
* One Relaxation Massage at Bannister's Day Spa
Price from $990 per person

Rick Stein at Bannisters recently received 16/20 by renowned critic Terry Durack of the Sydney Morning Herald.

This is the first time Rick will host a group at Bannisters and one of the only times he will host a getaway so intimate anywhere around the world in 2010. Who needs to go to Padstow, UK when you can head to Mollymook just three hours south of Sydney?

Places are very limited, so if you love seafood, NSW's South Coast, and one of the world's best chefs and great blokes, book now only through Gregor & Lewis (07) 5447 4666 or melindagregor@gregorlewis.com.au
 
   
 
Poolside at Chiva-Som
Peace and quiet
Luxury suites
 
Chiva-Som Dreaming
 
Melinda Gregor's first trip to Chiva-Som, Thailand, will not be her last.

If time and work permitted, I would have 10 days at Chiva-Som every year. Chiva-Som means 'haven of life' and is certainly a description you come to understand as you discover what this five-star spa resort has to offer.

Nestled within seven acres of lush tropical gardens, Chiva-Som is located on the beachfront in Hua Hin, a three-hour drive from Bangkok. Chiva-Som is about learning to live, enjoy and appreciate each moment and in doing so, creating a personal path to health and wellness. It's also about developing a fine balance of mind, body and spirit by exploring different experiences.
I was fortunate to spend three days at Chiva-Som and even this short stay was a wonderful experience. Your journey begins with an individual consultation and personalised programme crafted from a range of over 150 treatments to match your health and wellness goals. We participated in yoga, pilates, aqua aerobics, and had a different massage every day.

Chiva-Som is internationally renowned for its spa cuisine, serves a low-calorie menu, healthy and detoxifying, yet at the same time imaginative and delicious.

Combine Chiva-Som's cuisine, treatments and activities, and you'll develop a sense of lightness, calm and lasting energy - I vow to return.
 
   
 
Gorillas in Uganda
Explora Lodge Patagonia
Spices in Marrakech Souk
Island holiday anyone?
 
2010 Wish List
 
While many people chose not to travel too far in 2009, 2010 is proving to be quite the opposite. Europe is proving to be really popular for the European summer with most including some sort of cruise, be it a river cruise on the Danube, the Med, Baltic, even the Artic is on people's hit lists. Africa is back in favour, particularly South Africa, as well as gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda. With Australia qualifying for the Soccer World Cup in South Africa -June/July 2010 - now is the time to start booking your African adventure. If you do not wish to travel too far then the in place is certainly a cruise down the Mekong River from Vietnam to Cambodia.

Here's where the G & L team want to go in 2010.
Melinda: Explora Lodge Patagonia in Chile or a week in a villa in the Tuscan countryside.
Kristen: Escape to somewhere close to home like Bali or shopping in New York, the perfect time with the Aussie dollar going up.
Jo: The crystal aquamarine waters of the Maldives or a visit to UK to see my step daughter.
Wendy: Malta to visit its many historical sites and enjoy its beautiful Mediterranean climate or Marrakesh to wander the markets and enjoy the food.
Stu: Durban, South Africa, to see the Socceroos beat Germany Round One!
Sally: An island holiday with the kids and Stu, perhaps Fiji or Bali, then to New Zealand for a luxury lodge and some fly fishing, without the kids.

 
   
 
The brand new MC Amodolce
Beautiful walled town of Rothenburg



Vineyards along the Rhine Gorge
 
Rhine me a River
 
G & L consultant, Wendy Hopping, reports back from the Rhine, where castles, rivers and Riesling are on the menu 24/7.

I recently travelled along the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Nuremburg with APT aboard one of their new ships, the MS Amadolce. Amadolce, which launched earlier this year, is the ultimate in luxury river cruising and carries just 148 passengers.

From the moment we boarded, everything was taken care of. I didn't really need to engage my brain for seven days, except to decide on my menu selection, or whether I would have red wine, white wine or both!

You will never go hungry while on an APT river cruise. The breakfast buffet begins at 7am, an la carte menu selection is provided for lunch and dinner, with wine and beer with the evening meal.

Cruising is the perfect way to relax and watch the magnificent scenery go by – there's an upper sundeck with 360 degree panorama or there are floor to ceiling windows in the bar and lounge area. The highlight was the Rhine Gorge with the incredible castles and vineyards creeping up the steep slopes and the many medieval towns and villages.

I have been to Europe a number of times but found this trip to be the perfect combination of relaxation, sightseeing and socialising. The inclusion of quality accommodation, transport, guided sightseeing and all meals makes APT excellent value for money.

We flew to Europe on Etihad Airways, recently voted 'World's Leading Airline' and which also won the 'World's Leading First Class' at the 2009 World Travel Awards. They offer a completely lie-flat business class bed and are currently phasing in state-of-the-art first-class suites.
 
   
 
Baz's Brooklyn pizza fix
Brooklyn Bridge
Central Park
Sophie and Baz at Stone Barns
Home run at the Yankees
 
New York, New York
 
Well, actually it's Sophie's top 10 but as she has just returned from two weeks in New York with her husband Baz, she has far better mail than I do. Sophie runs the Liquid Ideas office and used to work with Bill Granger so she knows her food, likes a drink and loves a show. Over to you, Soph.

1. Yankees game, 44E 161st Street, Bronx
Buy a ticket on the night, sit in the stands with 70,000 others and marvel at how bad the food is, how big the beers are and how much New Yorkers really love their baseball. The only time you can wear a Yankees hat and feel like it's the real deal. www.yankees.mlb.com

2. Harlem gospel service, Convent Avenue Baptist Church, 420 W 145th Street
Take the subway north to 145th street and be prepared for a lot of clapping, gospel singing and praising of the Lord. You'll be happy for what you've got. www.conventchurch.org

3. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, 630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, NY 10591
Take the train about an hour north up the Hudson River and be transported to a place where fresh produce rules and eating slowly is the order of the day. Take a walk around the farm and wonder if this is really New York. www.bluehillfarm.com

4. dell'anima, 38 8th Avenue, Greenwich Village
Eat with the locals at this cosy neighbourhood Italian where you can sit at the bar and hear the sad tales of rich, divorced New Yorkers. Great cocktails, amazing pasta dishes and the best dessert of the trip – almond espresso cake with caramel sauce and sea-salt ice-cream – we went back twice. Book ahead. www.dellanima.com

5. Lucali's, 575 Henry Street, Brooklyn
Don't go if you don't like pizza or calzone – the only two options on the menu. Do go if you want to eat the best pizza you've ever had. Only open in the evenings and it's best to get there early. BYO but be warned you may end up drinking your bottle of Rockford Basket Press out of a tumbler.

6. Sunday mornings in Central Park
The peace of New York needs to be revered and Sunday morning in Central Park was our place to find it. Dodge the locals getting about their early morning exercise and watch the dogs run wild. On our visit, Cindy Lauper sang the Star Spangled Banner at a charity fun run. Spend as much time here as you can.

7. The High Line
The old New York railway line has been redesigned into an elevated walkway that starts in the Meatpacking District and goes all the way to 19th Street with plans to be extended to 30th Street by mid next year. Go during the week to avoid the crowds and admire the views from above. Check out the shops in the Meatpacking District, stop off for a drink at Pastis and finish off with the art galleries in Chelsea – it's the perfect afternoon in New York.

8. Bar Jamon, 125 E 17th St, New York
There are only a handful of high stools available at Mario Batali's small, dark and moody tapas bar but the wait is worth it for some of New York's best tapas - beets with Valdeon blue cheese, duck liver pate to die for and the best crème caramel I've ever had, all with a glass of Pedro Ximinez – perfect. www.casamononyc.com

9. Metropolitan Museum, 1000 Fifth Avenue
Head straight to the Terrace and walk through Roxy Paine's stainless steel sculpture that engulfs the rooftop terrace and leads you to the spectacular view over Central Park and the New York skyline beyond. MoMA is also a must for the architecture of the building, the collections and best of all, the shop on the ground floor. www.metmuseum.org

10. A Broadway show
Whether it's Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig onstage in a Steady Rain or Next to Normal, an American musical based on a mum addicted to prescription drugs, you have to go to at least one show. Book ahead for big name shows that might already be sold out when you're there.
 
 
  Ann Rickard, journalist, travel writer, author, tour guide, G & L traveller  
   
  Ooh la la: Ann with her book  
  Ann Rickard, Noosa-based journalist, travel writer, author, tour guide, G & L traveller

Favourite destination
France, of course

Why
The food, the wine, the gorgeous language, the exciting towns and charming villages.

Top three things to do
Eat, tour as many of the beautiful local villages as you can, then visit the icons, such as Paris and the Riviera.

What to order off the menu
I adore croque monsieur - it's French fast food at its best. I also love any duck dishes, plus the salads are always fresh and simple.

Best restaurants
In the south of France in a tiny village called St Maximin, where my friend Amanda lives, there is a humble cafe called Table du Julien. In Uzes, also in the south, is a favourite called Terroir and in Vienne, south of Lyon, is the famous La Pyramide, a two-star Michelin restaurant. It's fabulous and great fun, but very expensive.

Favourite hotel while away
In my travels outside France my favourite would have to be the Melenos Lindos Hotel in Rhodes. Part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group, it has been built by the owner who lives on site and everything about it screams luxury and style.

Favourite OS restaurant
Kiki's on the island of Mykonos.The wonderful simplicity of the food, the spectacular beauty of the location, and the haughty attitude of the owner...it's all so good it hurts though you have to search for this place, as it never advertises, has no phone or electricity and you can't make a booking.

What about OS cooking schools
Well, my own Ooh La La! cooking school of course. I take groups of nine guests every year to Amanda's beautiful 18th century property on the border of Provence and Gard where we conduct a two-week cooking school and culinary tour. We bring in local chefs who demonstrate and cook for us and we eat sublime food and drink the lovely local wines for a two-week long party. Everyone who has come on our tour says it has been life-changing. You can't get better than that (contact G&L for further details).

Most memorable travelling moment
The time we got upgraded to first class on a Thai Airways flight. I'm still not sure how it happened!

Least memorable
Trying to get through security at Rome airport.

Next destination
Back to France to take another tour group next June with maybe a few Greek Islands thrown in.

Why travel with Gregor & Lewis
I loved the way the staff found us the most perfect apartment in Nice. We had searched and searched online and couldn't find a thing. One phone call to Melinda at Gregor & Lewis and she came up with the most beautiful place. Air-conditioned, luxuriously furnished and in the perfect location right in the middle of everything. We loved it. I'd never bother searching online again.
 
  Gregor & Lewis | 11 Arcadia St, Noosa Heads, Queensland, 4567 Australia
T + 617 5447 4666 | E noosa@gregorlewis.com.au | W www.gregorlewis.com.au