Jan
31
2017

4 of the hottest new hotels and resorts in Queensland

By Queensland /

AUSTRALIA has an endless feed of new hotels and resorts, but it shouldn’t come as any surprise Queensland often leads the pack with the most interesting and alluring. Looking for somewhere new to explore in the sunshine state after jumping in a Brisbane car rental and hitting the road? The Queensland Tourism & Events team serve up six of the finest…

Breeze (pictured) – Mooloolaba, Sunshine Coast

Breeze is a new boutique coastal property located in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, and is the newest luxury resort to open in the seaside suburb in over a decade. Breeze occupies prime position on the beachfront esplanade and is within walking distance of award-winning dining including the area’s renowned Spice Bar. With its fluid, exterior architecture that mirrors the ocean’s gentle waves, the property features 57, style-forward apartments designed in neutral colors and beachside décor. Breeze also offers a pool and spa, and guests have access to the beach as well as bicycles for exploring Mooloolaba and the surrounding coastal community.

More: www.breezemooloolaba.com.au.

Paradise Country – Oxenford, Gold Coast

Paradise Country, the Gold Coast’s rustic farm-world theme park, where families discover a cuddly collection of Aussie wildlife and farmyard friends, now offers overnight stay experiences. Families can turn a day out at the farm into an overnight stay with the choice of accommodation in the park’s family style camp, motor home or farm stay eco-tent. Guests of Paradise Country’s overnight stay experiences enjoy full use of the theme park that includes access to the Farmhouse restaurant and bar facilities, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are welcome to enjoy exclusive farm stay activities including campfires and games. Paradise Country is located 20 minutes from the Gold Coast’s renowned Surfer’s Paradise, and is nearby other theme park attractions including Warner Bros. Movie World, and Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast.

More: paradisecountry.com.au

The Island – Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast

Gold Coast and Surfers Paradise icon The Islander Resort has been completely redesigned and renamed The Island. Located in the heart of Surfers Paradise, The Island hotel offers 150 newly renovated, spacious rooms that are designed incorporating both classic and functional elements, while evoking a modern sense of the classic surfer film, “Gidget”. Boasting views of the hinterland, city, beach and water, guests of The Island hotel will also have access to experience the property’s revamped tropical rooftop bar, The Island Rooftop. The Island will debut a kids’ club, and programming later this year.

More: www.theislandgoldcoast.com.au.

The Johnson, an Art Series Hotel – Spring Hill, Brisbane

Recently debuted in September 2016, The Johnson is the Art Series Hotels’ first Queensland property, and is inspired by globally renowned Australian colorist Michael Johnson. The opening marks a pivotal milestone for the hotel group in expanding their dedicated art inspired offerings across Australia. Eighty-three spacious suites and two penthouses boasting spectacular views across the city, as well as multi-functional public spaces are adorned with the Sydney-born artist’s original paintings and giclee prints. Guests of The Johnson have access to the hotel’s infamous art tours and in-room art channels and libraries. Branded Smart Cars and Lekker bicycles are available for guest use, and complement the property’s array of resort-like amenities that include: a 164 foot resort style pool and deck bar; state-of-the-art fitness facility; Tumbling Stone and the hotel’s signature restaurant.

More: artserieshotels.com.au/johnson

SCOTT PODMORE

 

Jan
30
2017

5 quirky accommodation options in NSW

By Australia / New South Wales / Sydney /

NEW South Wales has loads of quirky accommodation whether it’s camping out with bison or stretching out in a private treehouse, say the Destination NSW who know better than anyone where to go for .

From a selection of their recommendations, we’ve plucked out 5 accommodation hotspots that are much more than merely being a place to rest your weary bones.  Jump in your Sydney car rental and head for these quirky venues for a sleepover with a point of difference.

One… Camp Native American style with bison (pictured)

Believe it or not, but there’s an American bison farm on the NSW north coaast. Head for Aranyani Bison Adventure Park and camp in a Native American style teepee. These large teepees can fit up to a dozen. Besides the bison, the ranch has abundant native bird and animals. Enjoy spending your evenings around the campfire and your day exploring the farm.

Two… A yurt on the Murray River

Inspired by the traditional Mongolian yurt, Talo Retreat has transformed yurt accommodation into a luxurious couples-only experience on the mighty Murray River. From the canvas walls lined with Australian wood, to the domed skylight to allow stargazing from your bed and the private outdoor spa, this is a unique luxurious yurt experience.

Four… Adults-only treehouse

Shoot for the clouds in the canopy in the Blue Mountains known as Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse.With wall-to-wall windows, exposed native timber and perched on timber stilts, the Treehouse offers stunning views of Bowen’s Creek Gorge. This back-to-basics romantic escape includes a spa and wood fire.

Five… African safari in Dubbo

Dubbo might seem like an unlikely place to enjoy an African safari escape, but at Taronga Western Plains you can sleep in luxury safari tents on the edge of the African savannah. From your private deck you will see giraffe, zebra and eland as they roam.

Also try Five Great Road Trips From Sydney

SCOTT PODMORE

 

Jan
27
2017

Four festivals in Adelaide and surrounds you can’t miss

By Adelaide / Australia / South Australia /

Adelaide festivals are some of the best in Australia. Next time you visit the city, make sure you pick up a great hire car deal from Adelaide Airport and tick off these awesome events during your stay.

Adelaide Fringe Festival

17 February – 19 March 2017
Fringe is internationally recognised as one of the best open-access arts events. Artists from across the world come to the city for four weeks of art celebrations. Visit the city and you’ll find pop up venues in parks, lane-ways, theatres and art galleries. The best thing about Fringe is that it’s not just for high-profile artists. Anyone can participate.

WOMADelaide

10 – 13 March 2017
The Botanic Park in Adelaide becomes the hub of WOMADelaide over the long weekend in March. Soak up performances and workshops created by the world’s renowned musicians, dancers and DJs. You’ll find a mix of traditional and contemporary music. There’s also street theatre and visual artists. People love WOMADelaide. If not for the diversity of art then definitely for the family friendly atmosphere.

Victor Harbour Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival

16 – 17 September 2017
There’s no better place to enjoy some good old Rock ‘n’ Roll! Put on your dancing shoes and head on over to the lovely seaside town of Victor Harbour. There are three stages pumping out catchy tunes with just as many dance floors. The classic car competition is also an event favourite, with anybody able to enter. One of the best things about this weekend is the people it attracts. You’re bound to have a fun time.

OzAsia Festival

26 September – 8 October 2017
It’s Australia’s premier international arts festival that focuses entirely on Asia. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the event and the program keeps growing every year. Enjoy a rich line up of contemporary arts from across Asia. Live international music and the Moon Lantern Festival are among the highlights of the event.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Jan
26
2017

Winter wonderland in Wellington

By New Zealand / Wellington /

Winter in Wellington. New Zealand’s north island is an absolute gem at any time of year, but even more so in winter. Not only will you generally find the roads are quieter and there are no lines to get into most places. You have the freedom to move at your own pace and book as you go along.

Many people will flock to the south island for winter on the ski fields. But Wellington has plenty to offer plus more. Pick up a hire car from Wellington airport and make this the place of your next winter getaway.

Choose from these things to do…

Go shopping

Shopping is always a good idea on a rainy day and Wellington has many charming shopping hotspots. Cuba Street is known for its vintage stores, such as Ziggurat, along with boutique stores and New Zealand designers. Lambton Quay is also popular with locals. But if you’re also looking for all sorts of handmade arts and crafts, the Wellington Night Market or the Underground Market will serve you perfectly.

Have a go at ice skating

Wellington turns into a winter wonderland when the colder months hit. There are ski fields nearby, but if you want something very quick and easy then you’re in luck! In recent years the city has started hosting its very own outdoor ice rink when the mercury plummets. It’s a great way to have fun, learn some new skills and exercise all at the same time.

Explore Zealandia Sanctuary

Travel just a few minutes from downtown Wellington and you’ll discover the joys of the Zealandia Sanctuary. Stroll through the area and you’ll be able to spot geckos, parrots and even the endangered little spotted kiwis. It’s worth joining a guided tour of the sanctuary to learn more about these creatures. Tours run during the day, in the evenings and at night. Each offers a different experience.

Tour Kapiti Island

Kapiti Island is a nature reserve and it’s home to some of the country’s most endangered birds. It’s not just the island but also the waters surrounding Kapiti Island that make it a safe haven for endangered species, so they can thrive again. The number of people who can visit the 10km long island each day is limited. Only licensed tour operators are allowed to bring visitors to the island.

Jump on board the Northern Explorer Train

When the time comes for you to leave Wellington and head north to Auckland, you’ll want to make sure you do it the right way. Sure, you can easily catch a flight. But why not buy a ticket for the Northern Explorer Train, so you can spend hours passing beautiful scenery? You’ll pass snow-capped mountains, rolling hills and pristine rivers.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Jan
23
2017

London calling: 5 restaurants to warm you up

By UK /

Good food is the right way to anyone’s soul. In London you can savour almost every flavour known to mankind. It’s one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, with cafes and restaurants that show off the best tastes from every culture.

All you need to do is find the time to pick up a cheap car hire deal from London and travel to some of these fantastic restaurants.

Barrafina (pictured)

One of the most popular Spanish diner-style tapas bars in London is Barrafina. You’ll find three Barrafinas in London – on Adelaide Street, Drury Lane and the original is on Soho’s Frith Street. These cosy spaces offer authentic tapas from many different regions across Spain. Barrafina is also a great spot for after work drinks with the dishes served with sine Spanish sherries, wines and Cavas.

The Ledbury

Few restaurants have the friendly and welcoming vibe that you’ll get at the Ledbury. This restaurant in Notting Hill takes it to a whole new level. Chef Brett Graham serves up innovative dishes, combining British ingredients, such as Cumbrian lamb alongside delicacies from across the world, including Tokyo turnips and black truffle. Combine with great Aussie and US beers and we have a winner!

The Princess of Shoreditch

This iconic pub-restaurant is tucked away not far from Old Street on the border of the city and Shoreditch. Managers at the multi-award winning venue also proudly proclaim they offer good value for money for the charming British food. There’s a lively downstairs bar for diners and drinkers who arrive on a ‘first come’ basis. But it’s worth making a booking for the cosy dining room, which is located just upstairs.

Kaffeine

At almost any time of day Kaffeine is a popular spot among young foodies. But they don’t seek out the café for its décor. Instead it’s all about the food and the coffee full of flavour. In fact, ask the regulars and they’ll tell you it’s among the best in London. It’s also a favourite lunch spot, with delicious sandwiches and salads sure to fill you up. If you’re feeling peckish, then why not go for the tarts or a pecan pie to finish off the experience?

City Social

After dining at City Social you’ll be convinced that great food should always come with a view like this one! Take one look at the restaurant’s menu and you’ll probably struggle to pick just one meal to enjoy. There’s the incredible cheese trolley, which allows you to choose up to five gourmet cheeses. The scrumptious Côte de bœuf is also bound to please. Take in the flavours as you soak up the views of one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Jan
20
2017

5 step guide to a Melbourne city escape between Christmas and New Year

By Australia / Melbourne / Victoria /

It’s a long way off but there’s a certain time of year the rest of the human race are either snoozing or have escaped to somewhere else when it comes to Melbourne city and inner city ‘burbs. With Christmas and Boxing Day out of the way and many catching their breath before New Year’s suddenly arrives, Melbourne’s a little sleepy and there are some great hotel deals on offer if you’re looking for a quick getaway.

For a two night, three day stay and play in the big smoke, here are five suggestions for a great Melbourne short stay in 12 months time. The biggest tip of all is you have to be organised so get that calendar ready with reminders.

Flights … the gang at skyscanner recently revealed some observations about the best time to buy flights for Christmas/New Year’s. According to Skyscanner’s research, the best time to buy a Christmas flight is during the week of November 21 for an average savings of more than 6%. Get on the newsletter mailouts, too, for the sales.

Wheels …  Goes without saying you need to click through to the DriveNow Melbourne airport car rental deals at any time of the year. For a three day rental you could be looking at anywhere from $150-$200+ all up depending on your choice of car and size. Will you need a car for the quick-fire getaway? Yes, though you won’t need to be in it often, but it will definitely come in handy for those little trips a few kilometres away during the day – if you choose to venture that far.

IMG_3384Bed … Come December the deals start hatching as distressed inventory (aka rooms that need to be booked) are on offer. We chose the delightful Melbourne Parkview Hotel in Albert Park, on St Kilda Rd. Sniff out deals closer to the date, but some rippers come with breakfast for two and free parking. Better still, everything’s within walking distance, including Albert Park Lake for a morning stroll (about 5km), Commercial Road and Chapel Street buzz, restaurants along St Kilda Road and more.

R&R … Literally 15 minutes by foot along St Kilda Rd from your hotel you will discover a treat for the senses at Leelawadee Thai Massage & Skin Care. We booked a double one-hour Thai massage in the same room mid-afternoon, allowed little feet trodding along the body for a few minutes before sinking into a luxurious and relaxing massage for $130 all up! Awesome value. While a little jelly like we skipped across the road to stylish cocktail bar The Amberoom for a jug of water and a cocktail.

Feast … Say hello to Roxborough Bar and Kitchen in Acland Street, St Kilda, as recommended by good friend and Chin Chin executive chef extraordinaire Benjamin Cooper. It’s a decent 15 minute walk from the hotel or a 5 minute $10-15 taxi. This little gem is making waves on the Melbourne food scene with its spacious open vibe, cleanliness and immaculate service in such an intimate setting (yep, it’s cosy, but it works). The food is scrumptious: snacks like Bruny Island oysters, Jamon and manchego croquetas, lime cured watermelon with goats curd and basil. Entrees to share that jump off the menu include Pippies and clams with smoked pork hock, broad beans and parsely, or how about Chargrilled Queensland king prawns, with garlic and smoked paprika butter. Sumptuous mains that hit the spot are Chargrilled 400g pasture fed Gippsland Entrecote on the bone with bone marrow butter, roasted spring garlic, silver beet puree, or Twice cooked Milawa half free range chicken diavolo with a spring pea and tarragon chicken jus. This place rocks.

SCOTT PODMORE

 

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Jan
18
2017

Six experiences for the adventurous at heart in northern NSW

By

Northern NSW has many adventures waiting to happen. From beautiful beaches, to hidden waterfalls and unique animal experiences, the North Coast has it all.

Snap up a great Sydney Airport car hire deal and drive a few hours north for your next holiday.

Surf one of the best beaches in NSW – Angourie Beach

Angourie Beach became the second Australian site to be declared a National Surfing Reserve in 2007. It’s fair to say this beach would be considered to be an almost sacred place when you look at its significance to the sport. On most days you’ll find surfers of most abilities are able to ride here. However, when the swell is above two metres it’s best that inexperienced surfers leave the riding of the ways to the pros and check out some other attractions nearby, such as the Angourie Blue Pool. It’s a popular swimming hole and can be reached via a short walk.

Explore the famous Big Banana

No family vacation along the North Coast of NSW is complete without a trip to see the Big Banana. Thousands of people have their photos taken next to the 13metre wide monument every week. It was built in 1964 and now the attraction is home to a candy and gift shop, water park and mini-golf course. A tour of the surrounding banana plantation is also a must.

Join a quad bike safari on sand dunes (pictured)

Stockton Beach is home to the largest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. What better way to explore them than with a quad bike tour! An experienced guide will show you how to operate your vehicle safely before you hit the sand dunes. Other options include sand surfing and stand up sand boarding.

Discover Killen Falls

Emigrant Creek in Tintenbar boasts a beautiful 10m waterfall. The rock behind the waterfall has eroded over time, leaving plenty of space for you to swim under the cascading water and perch yourself on rocks behind it. You’ll find yourself surrounded by lush rainforest. Killen Falls is a great spot for a picnic, and it’s only a short walk from the car park.

Visit the Koala Hospital

Port Macquarie has its very own Koala Hospital. Who would have thought this unique place in NSW is also the world’s first hospital dedicated only to caring for and preserving koalas. There are guided tours every day, where volunteers show you the intensive care units, treatment room and the several yards where the injured koalas recover.

Drive the Pacific Coast

The best way to see the highlights of the northern New South Wales coast is to drive the entire length of it. You’ll get to visit the six attractions listed above, but you’ll also have the freedom to stop off and experience different locations. Discover incredible landscapes, gorgeous seaside towns and other hidden treasures.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Jan
16
2017

5 of the hottest nearby beach destinations from Sydney

By Australia / Sydney /

Sydney’s beach destinations are some of the best in New South Wales. On a hot summer’s day, people will head to the coast in droves just to soak up the sun and the atmosphere.

Grab a cheap car hire deal from DriveNow and travel a short distance to one of these incredible beach destinations.

Bondi Beach

It’s one of Sydney’s most iconic beach destinations. Bondi’s famous sandy shore can be explored all year round. Enjoy beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean as you relax in the sand on a summer’s day. You may even want to join thousands of other beachgoers in the middle of the day and hit the surf. Go for a nice stroll at sunrise or sunset. Socialise at one of the nearby cafes or restaurants at night. Whatever you decide to do, Bondi Beach is abuzz with energy.

Manly Beach

Only a short drive from the CBD you’ll discover the best of both worlds. On one side sits a peaceful inner-harbour beach which is lovely to walk along. On the other is one of the city’s most popular surf beaches. Throw in some fine dining restaurants and attractions such as Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary and you have everything you need in a coastal destination.

Cronulla Beach

It’s not often you’ll find a beach destination that caters perfectly for surfers and families, but this spot is ideal for both. On any given day you’ll see kids running around the place while thrill-seekers chase big waves. Look for some beautiful lookouts and ocean pools and it’s likely you’ll have found yourself somewhere along the ‘Cronulla Walk’. The two-hour stroll showcases some of the best scenery the area has to offer.

Terrigal Beach

Surfers unite! Drive just under one and a half hours north of Sydney. You’ll soon understand by Terrigal has earned a reputation for having fantastic surf beaches. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t experienced at riding waves. There are quite a few surf schools to choose from so you can learn to ride. There’s no shortage of surf up here. But if you do feel like doing something other than hitting the waves then you can also check out the area’s lively café scene and scenic walks.

Stanwell Park Beach

This is a peaceful family spot, located only an hour south of Sydney. There’s a large reserve with picnic and barbeque facilities. The beach is also surrounded by natural bushland. Take a walk up to Bald Hill Lookout to really appreciate the gorgeous views of Stanwell Tops and the famous Sea Cliff Bridge. The panorama view of this pretty coastal town is a sight not to forget.

BRIANNA PIAZZA

Jan
12
2017

This summer’s hottest beach destinations near Melbourne

By Australia / Victoria /

Summer is the best time to explore the great beach destinations that are only a short drive away. Whether you like to surf, fish, play around in the sand or lounge around by the sea, Victoria’s coastline has a beautiful slice of paradise for everyone.

Grab a cheap hire car deal from Melbourne Airport and check out these fantastic summer destinations, which are less than two hours from the CBD.

Phillip Island

It’s the place where Victoria’s thrill-seekers flock all year round. Phillip Island offers great waves for surfing, body-surfing and body-boarding. Parents with small children can also enjoy family-friendly spots such as Smiths Beach on the southern part of the island. Vast sandy areas and shallow water make for a wonderful playground for toddlers. When the tide is out you can also explore rock pools at both ends of the beach. Larger pools are also an exciting snorkelling spot.

Sorrento Beach

Drive 90 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD and you’ll stumble across one of Mornington Peninsula’s most beautiful coastlines. Sorrento Beach has several clear rock pools waiting to be explored. There are also many popular jetties and other exciting walking routes. One of the best tracks to walk is Millionaires Walk. The 1.6km long walk takes you past some of the most exquisite mansions overlooking the coast.

Apollo Bay

The southernmost town along the Great Ocean Road also happens to be one of the most popular beach destinations in Victoria! Apollo Bay is a great place to take the family. The bay is lined with cafes and other trendy shops, while a group of surf life savers watch over the beach. It’s a beautiful spot to go if you want a great view of sunrise or sunset. Pack a picnic if you’re heading there for the day and relax before the rolling waves.

St Kilda Beach

No this one you don’t have to travel far at all! Journey just outside the heart of the Melbourne CBD and you’ll encounter the fascinating St Kilda. Recent years have seen the suburb go from a bad reputation as a centre for crime and drugs to a trendy area with booming nightclub. Many people make the trip to St Kilda for a relaxing day by the beach. Be warned, thousands of others are likely to have the exact same idea on a hot summer’s day.