Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winners are grinners

Last weekend the Australian Society of Travel Writers had its AGM, travel awards night and conference. And what a weekend it was too. So much to talk about, so much to learn, the seminars at conference were brilliant and the speakers included author Robert Dessaix and Tony and Maureen Wheeler founders of Lonely Planet publications. It as quite a weekend for yours truly to. I was elected as president of the ASTW, to serve a year – quite a responsibility but the society has a brilliant membership so with a little help from my friends . . .
Also I was awarded Travel Editor of the Year - kudos for not on only me but for the magazine. Being editor of a travel magazine is a fabulous job, and it takes a lot of energy to keep up the good work, entice our readers to travel and generally engage with them o they feel some ownership with the magazine.
As editor of Get Up & Go it is my pleasure to accept this award on behalf of my own hard work, and my publisher, staff and the readers - what stars! All of us!
Pictures: Moi and Glyn May, public relations representative for Star Clippers - those divine sailing ships. And that was my prize - not Glyn – but a cruise in the Mediterranean!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hey, hey, it's Hayman

Hayman in the wondrous Whitsundays of Queensland has had so many awards granted that the island could almost sink under them at any time. Just kidding! It's Paradise where you can chill out in splendid resort accommodation and also find yourself in beach villas with private indoor pools, eat from several award-winning restaurants, go for a spa treatment and refuse to ever leave, take advantage of the water activities if you can lift your head off the beach lounge . . .do you get the drift?
Last week the company held a lunch for 'friends' in the media. This is an annual event and so for this editor has stayed on the list - because of good behaviour, no doubt. The lunch is always held at the divine Aria restaurant at Circular Quay Sydney, and maestro Matt Moran teams up with the executive chef of Hayman to present us guests with stunning meals - and this year the benchmark was again lifted.
Pictures with Matthew Moran is Glenn Bacon of Hayman. The food speaks for itself!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Canada is cool now!

As we start to complain about the weather heating up as we are edging closer to Christmas in Australia - spare a thought for the cold climate folk. I spent a few days in Canada just before Christmas a couple of years ago. And as the city of Vancouver was lighting up the shop windows and streets it was out of town where the brrrr buzz was. We headed to Whistler and stayed at the divine Fairmont Hotel where I had a room that looked out to the mountains and the the ski slopes – this is a winter wonderland exemplified.
I love snow, lots of it piled up against walls, weighing down the branches on large trees, crunching underfoot.
So, for the future if you would like a change of scenery for the festive season why not try Canada and enjoy the traditions of a cheery winter Christmas.
Air Canada flies directly to Vancouver from Sydney.
(Couple of signs around the village of Whistler, the terrace at the cafe on top of the mountain - where are all the customers? And a very nice dog I met along the way - a good dog who didn't complain about the cold and we shared a hot chocolate later in the day.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rock Garden in the Red Centre

Due to heavy rains throughout the year and the wettest September on record, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory has bloomed this spring. The unprecedented level of rainfall has resulted in an abundance of wildflowers and a riot of greenery that is not typically associated with the Red Centre and it is a spectacular time to visit.
Guests staying at Ayers Rock Resort in the last month have been rewarded with the amazing sight of waterfalls tumbling off the rocks and lush new growth everywhere. There's not a bit of dry red dust to be seen. Vibrant coloured wildflowers have sprung up around Ayers Rock Resort and in the national park: there's spearbrush, honey grevilleas, bluebells, early nancy lilies, parakeelya and desert peas.
Martha Coomber from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park commented: “It is a beautiful time to visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta with colourful flowers all around the base walk of Uluru and in Walpa Gorge and fresh new growth everywhere. There are more than 416 species of native plants in the national park, but some of the plants that have bloomed this spring are so rare that staff have received special plant identification training to help identify them all.”
Ayers Rock Resort, gateway to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, is offering a great value Rock Summer package, ideal for those who wish to arrange a trip soon to experience the Red Centre in bloom. Available for bookings to 30 November 2010 and travel until 31 March 2011, you can enjoy two night packages at the Lost Camel or the Outback Pioneer Hotel starting from just $298* per person, twin share, with a special rate of just $49* per person for the third night.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Malaysia Airlines gives 'em stick

Blog contributor and fellow traveller David Ellis says that on a recent flight with Malaysia Airlines from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur, a passenger near him complained to the flight attendants that 'he had paid a lot of money to fly Business Class, and did not expect to have to eat with his fingers'.
When it was explained to him what the snack was, he still demanded that it be re-presented to him 'the right way' – with a knife and fork.
The attendants returned with his request, but politely pointed out that 'as a traditional Malay dish, satay is always served on small wooden skewers and eaten with the fingers'.
The passenger remained unimpressed, but Malaysia Airlines obviously aims to please.
The airline serves an amazing 20,000 a day of its famous little satay sticks in Business Class on flights worldwide, using its own recipes for beef and chicken marinated in shallots, turmeric, garlic, galangal and lemongrass, char-grilling and basting them over mangrove wood charcoal in their ground kitchens before treating them to a smothering of spicy crushed peanut sauce – and serving with a side of refreshing cucumber, onion and a cube of rice cake.
And yes, for its loyal followers in Business Class, the airline invariably has enough of its satay appetisers on board for seconds. (No need to guess who put his hand up for those seconds!)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

USA's worst airlines?

According to a US News & World Report, Delta Airlines came last in a customer satisfaction report.
* It was first in delays and customer complaints among major airlines.
* United Airlines came a close second, with surveys reserving particular scorn for its 'meals and rude flight attendants'.
* Third worst was Alaska Airlines, which earned its poor ranking due to a 'high number of mishandled baggage reports'. The airline lost roughly four bags for every 1000 customers last year. But airline was noted for its excellent on-time performance.
* American Airlines landed in fourth place, not so much for its own performance, but that of subsidiary American Eagle, which drove its overall numbers down, the survey said.
* US Airways ranked fifth after improving its scores for overall customer satisfaction compared to 2009.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Hawaiian Airlines, which ranked best in customer satisfaction for its near-perfect on-time performance. AirTran was ranked second best, followed by JetBlue.
(Cartoon of the day: Where astronauts hang out after work.)