Touring Around with Ann Rickard

ANN Rickard takes a look at some good travelling deals on offer in Australia and overseas...

1. LUXURY AHOY

Love luxury piled on top of luxury? A cruise on board Silversea's Silver Spirit will have you clouded in fragrances made by Italian perfumer Laura Tonatto, famous for developing scents inspired by literature.

Choose between her award-winning Oltre, evoking the scent and boundlessness of the sea, Albi, with lavender notes to relax and de-stress, or Fiori d'Arancio with calming notes of orange blossoms to create a soothing ambiance. Your butler will ensure your preferred scent is dispersed throughout your suite. by a diffuser while you choose one of eight types of pillows. including an aromatherapy pillow with the soothing scents of chamomile or lavender. The opulence of it.

2. GLAMOUR IN SHANGHAI

GLAMOUR is automatically associated with a Peninsula hotel, and NOW with five bars and restaurants at the newly opened Peninsula Shanghai, the glam stakes have been raised.

Michelin Star chef Tang Chi Keung is at the helm of the prestigious Cantonese restaurant Yi Long Court. Themed on the Art Deco surroundings of a rich Shanghainese merchant's home in the 1920's, the restaurant has a chefs' table for up to eight gourmets to get close to the kitchen action.

 Internationally acclaimed French chef Arnaud Berthelier brings modern European cuisine with French influences to Sir Elly's Restaurant, Bar and Terrace. Boasting stunning views over the city, Sir Elly's on the rooftop is a dramatic mix of red Chinese lacquer, black walls, highly polished wood, velvet upholstery and ceramics, with an Art Deco dining room and a terrace where drinks and snacks are served overlooking the Bund and Shanghai's futuristic skyline.

3. HONG KONG 5-DAYS $999

CATHAY Pacific Holidays has released a five-day Hong Kong package for $999 per person twin share, plus taxes of $220, for sale until February 25 and for travel between April 17 and June 24. Price includes return airfarewith Cathay Pacific Airways, return airport transfers at Hong Kong, four nights accommodation in Kowloon, breakfasts, half-day a half-day Hong Kong sightseeing tour and 6pm checkout.

Contact 1300 137 808 or visit the website.

4. SHORT BREAKS IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

TAKE half price off your companion's tour price with this APT offer and take a 15% discount for singles on any Northern Territory short breaks tour of two days or more booked before February 13.

The deals apply to land touring - the four-day Uluru and Kings Canyon package (from Uluru to Alice Springs) is from $855 per person twin share for first person and from $428 for companion (single traveller from $918) which includes touring, accommodation, sightseeing, park fees and local guides.

Highlights include Kata Tjuta (Olgas), guided Mutitjulu and Mala walks, Uluru at sunset and sunrise, opportunity to stay at Kings Canyon Wilderness Lodge and choice of guided walks at Kings Canyon and Kings Creek Station.

APT's Northern Territory Short Breaks brochure lists over 100 tours, most of which qualify for the companion deal.

Contact: call 1300 229 804 or visit the website.

5. PAINT IN THE OUTBACK

EVEN if you are not an artist you'll be inspired by vast landscapes and a palette of colours at Annabel Tully's Outback artists' camps on Bunginderry, a cattle and sheep property near Quilpie in south-west Queensland. A week of creativity, relaxation, rejuvenation and shared passion is promised for beginners and experienced artists. Stay in authentic shearers' quarters, discover life on the land and create your own Outback inspired masterpiece.

Each day Annabel and her guest tutor will accompany you to a stunning place in the Bunginderry area to create in the open air, drawing inspiration from an abundance of wildlife, birdlife and Queensland's best Outback vistas. Enjoy wholesome home-style cuisine, bushwalking trails, art workshops and plenty of fresh air on this one-of-a kind Outback retreat.

Camps run from May 23-30, July 11-17 and July 25-31and there are opportunities for self-catering camps and artists-in-residence.

6. GRAPE STOMPING ON THE SUNSHINE COAST

YOU don't need to go to Italy to take part in the age-old tradition of stomping grapes when you have the Stomping into the Sunset festival at The Flame Hille Vineyard on February 20 in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

After you've stomped the grapes - and we're told there is something raw and appealing about the feel of smooshing between your toes - enjoy music from Latin ban Canta La Tumba as well as a fire twirling show and a bocce competition. You're promised a day of wine, food and entertainment highlighting a tradition that has existed since the origins of wine making.

More than 14 varieties of wine will be available for tasting and purchase and gourmet food will be plentiful.

7. RETREAT TO THE SUNSHINE COAST HINTERLAND

A Luxurious new B&B boasting contemporary studio style accommodation with panoramic bushland views is a welcome addition to the Sunshine Coast hinterland. In the Mary Valley, Melawondi Spring Retreat offers the ideal romantic getaway for two.

Nestled on 30 acres of natural bushland, accommodation features a king bed, modern appliances, raked ceiling, freestanding spa and plenty of luxuries to ensure pure relaxation and ultimate privacy. At $295 per night for a two night weekend stay, price includes a bottle of champagne, a range of delicious home cooked goodies and pure essence spa products. Unwind on the spacious deck with a glass of wine as you soak up panoramic valley views or explore the many bushwalking tracks surrounding the property.


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