Monday, July 28, 2014

Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go

Travelling Green: The World’s Top Eco-Friendly Hotels


Price comparison site HotelsCombined names the Top Sustainable Hotels around the world

Travellers are recognising the importance of environmental conservation and are increasingly seeking accommodation that supports environmentally friendly and sustainable tourism. Acknowledging this, hotels around the world are developing award-winning environmental, economic, and socio-cultural programs that preserve both the culture and support the local economy. 
Global PR and Content Manager at HotelsCombined.com, Alycia Simons says that responsible tourism practices are beneficial to both hoteliers and guests.
“There is a growing interest in environmental conservation and understanding the impact of tourism on a destination. With the help of hoteliers, it is possible for tourists to experience and appreciate natural spaces and cultures, while conserving and minimising their effect on the environment,” Ms Simons said.
"The planet is fragile, and it is important that both tourists and suppliers work together to lessen the impact of tourism and protect some of the world's most beautiful destinations."
HotelsCombined recently examined its database of 800,000 properties to bring you ten exceptional 'green' hotels from across the world offering guests an eco-friendly and world-class holiday experience:

10. Hi Hotel, Nice, France

A boutique hotel offering a private beach and rooftop pool, the Hi Hotel Eco Spa & Beach has received Green Globe certification for using recycled paper, organic paint, eco-friendly cleaning products and organic food. Located in Nice, France, the hotel departs from conventional luxury, focusing on contemporary living and changing up ordinary spatial structures.
Photo: http://press.hotelscombined.com/images/Hi Hotel, France.jpg

 9. Hix Island House, Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico

A tropical Caribbean oasis, the Hix Island house offers guests an elegant, rustic island escape. With a focus on nature, the Hix Island House runs on batteries charged by solar power. It also recycles rainwater, was designed to catch cooling winds and returns grey water to the environment.
The design of the hotel is in harmony with the countryside and upholds the concept that less is more. Built to withstand the natural elements, the hotel is hurricane, earthquake and fire proof.




8. Garonga Safari Camp, Phalaborwa, Africa

An exclusive 12 bed camp in South Africa, the resort supports the local community through economic empowerment. Locals are offered employment opportunities, with potential for career development, while food and goods are sourced locally where possible. Additionally, guests are invited to offset their carbon footprint by assisting with the planting and growing of Spesbok Trees in the Eastern Cape.
The safari is run in partnership with the Steenberg Hotel in Cape Town, and the camp is designed to blend in with the earthy surrounding. Guests will enjoy a unique experience with spectacular views.




7. Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Gargnano, Italy

In the heart of the Riviera dei Limoni, the various structures of this five-star resort are integrated into the village's hill slopes to reduce energy and heat dispersion.
The hotel focusses on overall wellness, a theme which remains constant through the food, outlay and peace of the hotel. The interior design makes use of local materials, while the design of the hotel was fashioned in respect to the surrounding landscape and environment. Rainwater is collected, and the hotel has a sustainable approach to waste management.

 6. Thala Beach Lodge, Port Douglas, Australia, Port Douglas, Australia

This beautiful art-deco resort has been awarded with one of the highest eco-tourism accreditations, Eco certified – Advanced Tourism. Located on a private headland between Cairns and Port Douglas, the resort is actively involved in assisting the environmental rehabilitation process. Situated on 145 acres of property, Thala invites elders of the Kuku Talanji community to take guests through a journey of their culture; from healing plants to foraging for bush food.




5. Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, Maldives

The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa integrates environment and modern design to offer guests the ultimate luxurious experience. Various parts of the hotel are built over the water in the Indian Ocean in order to minimize interference with the natural environment. Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa has been the recipient of a silver EarthCheck certificate and is the only resort in the Maldives to be awarded by Earthcheck for both design and construction.

4. The Park Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India

Situated within a 10-minute car ride from the centre of Hyderabad the Park Hyderabad's stunning exterior maximizes natural light, reducing the need for electricity. Green transportation, bikes and electric cars, is encouraged. The hotel fuses local culture with exceptional design and has achieved Leed Gold certification.



 3. Spice Island Beach Resort, St. George’s, Grenada

Owned and run by Sir Royston Hopkin and his family, the Spice Island Beach Resort is a luxurious destination for guests hoping to bask in the natural beauty of the Isle of Spice. A short walk from the famous Grand Anse Beach, the resort aims to blend into and co-exist with the island's native environment.

The resort uses solar heating, desalination plants and all forms of energy conservation. There is a focus on maximising the preservation of the island via community clean-ups, replanting and non-chlorinated pools. Smoking of any kind (even e-cigarettes) is forbidden in all areas of the resort which places an emphasis on body and soul renewal.



 2. Alila Villas Soori, Bali, Indonesia

Located on the southwest coast of Bali, guests of this resort will enjoy a relaxing haven, far away from the hustle and bustle of the cities. Set between the rice fields and coastline the hotel was designed in accordance with the EarthCheck international environmental standards.

The resort is completely water efficient with rainwater optimised to meet all of their water needs. More than half of all ingredients, goods and services are purchased from the local area. Locally sourced materials such as sand stone and natural stones were used in building the resort, which incorporates a combination of indigenous volcanic rock and abundant plants to organically cool the villas.



A five-star resort in the archipelago islands, Six Senses Con Dao has been recognised as one of the world’s top eco lodges by National Geographic Traveller. Built using sustainable building materials, the structure of the resort is designed to maximize air flow to reduce the need for air conditioning.

The resort and staff are passionately committed to both social responsibility – via education- and reducing the carbon footprint. Close to the beach and surrounded by greenery and jungle, guests will enjoy a relaxing stay in the stunning and very private location.




To watch the official HotelsCombined video (available in HD), follow this link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajc4JqoV1_o

About HotelsCombined
HotelsCombined is the world’s leading hotel price comparison site, allowing travellers to find the best prices from all the best travel sites in one search. More than 300 million people every year use the free service to find the best prices for over 800,000 hotels in 120,000 destinations across the world. HotelsCombined is available in over 40 languages and delivers prices in 120 currencies. Established in Australia in 2005, HotelsCombined is Australian-owned and employs more than 200 people both domestically and internationally.

 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Get Up & Go: NAKED TRUTH OF THE EARLY SOUTH PACIFIC

Get Up & Go: NAKED TRUTH OF THE EARLY SOUTH PACIFIC

NAKED TRUTH OF THE EARLY SOUTH PACIFIC


Get Up & Go's guest blogger David Ellis has a tale of the South Pacific to tell . . .

WHEN the missionary John Harris arrived off the South Pacific island of Tahuata from England back in 1797, he was horrified by the sight of local labourers coming aboard-ship to off-load cargo near-naked – and worse, accompanied by robust female companions bare-breasted and nothing more than a leaf or two draped from vines around their waists.
And when his ship’s milk-providing goats decided that those few modest leaves instantly represented lunch – thus leaving the women equally-instantly naked – missionary Harris lapsed into near-apoplexy.


Early lithograph of a Marquesan warrior by L. Le Breton in 1846. (The
Wayfarer’s Bookshop)

Yet it was nothing compared to what awaited in those then-heathen Marquesas Islands north of Tahiti. For when he went ashore just days later with a fellow missionary to begin their evangelical work, Mr Harris was greeted by an affable local chief who had set-aside two modest village huts for the men at the behest of white island-traders who’d long lived there.
And he told Mr Harris that as he was going away for several days, in a spirit of friendship he was leaving him his wife “to treat as if his own” whilst he was absent.

 



Draftsman James Webber on Captain James Cook’s ship Resolution,
sketched this early scene in the Polynesian Islands. (The Wayfarer’s Bookshop)

Harris, here to protect and not abuse even such-heathen souls, was aghast and fled to his hut in horror. But despondent, and “considering herself neglected,” the rejected wife called upon female friends to that night, when Mr Harris fell asleep, “satisfy themselves concerning his sex” – doing so in a reportedly “not very peaceable way.”
Being so roughly awakened as Harris later said, “by so many enquiring hands,” he had been “greatly terrified and alarmed at what they were doing… (and) determined to leave this place where people were so abandoned and given to such wickedness...”
But before he could flee, the women made-off, laughing uproariously, with his outer clothing, leaving the poor man in just his underwear.  Panicked, he re-dressed from his travelling trunk and fled in darkness to the beach in the hope of attracting the attention of his ship still anchored off-shore. Unsuccessful, he was sitting awaiting daylight when a group of local village men came upon him – and for the second time that night, John Harris found himself stripped to his underwear.

 


Delightful beaches await the visitor to the Marquesan Islands aboard Aranui 3
today. (WikiMedia)

A compassionate passing fishermen came to his aid by swimming out to the ship, and a boat was sent to collect Mr Harris. Back aboard, he was described as “being in pitiable condition, like one out of his senses...”
Others aboard had previously, however, questioned his suitability as a missionary in the first place, observing that “he disapproved of every thing (sic,) complained of the poverty on the island, judged the scene before him a solemn one, and seemed entirely to have lost his firmness and ardour.”
And while his London Missionary Society companion who had gone ashore with him, William Crook, expressed disappointment at Mr Harris’ return to the ship, he wrote in his diary that he was “not shaken by this desertion, (but) it would have greatly increased my happiness to have a friend and assistant who might comfort in time of trouble.”

 


 
The cargo-passenger ship Aranui 3 in a spectacular Marquesan setting. (Aranui
Cruises)
Remarkably Mr Crook remained alone on Tahuata for two long years, at times almost starving to death amongst the islanders who largely ignored him, and then spending four years in Tahiti before sailing to Sydney where he worked tirelessly for his church, including establishing the first boarding-school in Australia. He returned to Tahiti from 1814 to 1830, and on his final return to Australia worked assiduously until his death at 71 in 1846.
After Tahuata, John Harris also spent some years in more-welcoming Tahiti, and moved from there to Norfolk Island in 1800 to become chaplain and teacher within its penal community. He later moved to Green Hills (now Windsor outside Sydney,) before returning to England in 1808 to become a Curate in County Durham.
Tahuata meanwhile dreams on; it’s the lowest-populated island in the Marquesas group with just 700 residents, has no airport (the nearest is 4km away on Hiva Oa, with village boats running between the two as required,) a 4-bedroom guest house, but no hotel.

 


Churches abound across the Marquesas Islands today as the result of the work
of John Harris, William Crook and other early missionaries. (Tahiti Tourisme)

The 3800 tonne Papeete-based cargo-cum-cruise ship Aranui 3 has a day here for swimming, snorkelling, sightseeing and a picnic lunch on its twice-monthly, 14-day Marquesas voyages with up to 200 holidaymakers; see travel agents about Aranui’s unique fly/cruise packages or visit   

www.aranuicruises.com.au            ……………………

 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go

Alternative accommodation - a delightful solution


In the current (Winter edition) of Get Up & Go magazine we have an article on Airbnb. There is some controversy around the company in the USA at the moment but we promote the concept as it is another way for travellers to experience up-close-and-personal local attractions and people. Get Up & Go is not endorsing the product but just sharing the various experiences.
 
                                             Rob & Ro Porter, from Victoria, Australia.
We interviewed a couple from Victoria, Rob and Ro Porter who do most of their accommodation stays with Airbnb as it suits their frequent travels all over the world. Following is Ro Porter's experience and advice on choosing this way to stay:

In our twenties, Rob and I were happy to be on the Hippy Trail of travel where accommodation had to be cheap and lively. Now, in our sixties, accommodation has greater priority but we still seek an atmosphere of vitality along with the ‘luxury’ of private bed, bath and sitting rooms.

Airbnb has been a delightful solution for us. Essentially we love the variety of excellent value accommodation we now access in fabulous locations. However, the most fabulous aspect for us is the interaction we enjoy with our ‘local’ hosts and hostesses. 
 

 
                                              Top: Apres dinner on Sardengne.
                                              Above: Best homemade jams in Provence.

Because we value the chance to be in special locations and to enjoy interaction with local people, we have developed this approach to using Airbnb.

When booking a place, we make sure we give a very quick description of why we are heading their way. There is always a lovely meeting-cum-handover-key time and if they have a feel for you and your travels, they are so happy to provide you with information and ideas to enhance your stay. As you can imagine, there is nothing better than getting a local to tell you the transport, dining and wining tips.


                                                   Studio in Montmartre.

If we are planning to stay for a week or longer, we look for somewhere that gives us access to our own kitchen and sitting room as well as the usual bed and bathroom. This sometimes means that our host/hostess leaves their apartment to us while they stay elsewhere.  This was our experience in Montmartre and it was perfect.  It could mean that we find ourselves in holiday rental apartments such as we did on Sardinia. If you take this option, be aware that out of season these can be somewhat desolate. Also, some commercial places use Airbnb. They are easy to spot from the booking site so you can avoid them. We found in places like Morocco they were often riads that were already listed in guide books. 

 
                                             Top: The Lighthouse and the family in Morocco.
                                             Above: A family gathering in Lisbon.

If we have a short stay, we find the traditional B+B style of being in the actual home with our host/hostess is good. Again, one gets the same lovely local information as well as private bathroom but the other spaces are shared. However, we have found that we appreciate the chance to meet and talk with family members.
Airbnb possibilities are everywhere: we have stayed in a lighthouse! If you have a hire car, make sure there is parking available. Remote locations are wonderful but do ensure you know if you need to be self-catering or if meals other than breakfast can be provided. Although the name Airbnb implies breakfast is provided, it is one of the wild cards we appreciate. Usually, if your host/hostess is on the premises, it is either wonderful or sublime. However, some are best described as interesting or adequate. Many times we have been invited to dinner with our hosts and hostess. Often, we have been given little tours or taken to enjoy a favourite site or activity. You just never know what will eventuate.

                                         On the beach in Dubai with our Airbnb apartment owner.

Finally, Airbnb is very efficient so bookings, payments and directions are painless. Do read the reviews before you book to get an idea of what is ahead of you. Trust your instincts: if it doesn’t sound like you, then don’t book it. Smart phones and tablets are useful so you always have your directions and contact details on hand.
Airbnb has meant we feel as though we have made new friends. Their quirks, foibles and generosity of spirit have made our travels something we live, rather than simply observe.
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Get Up & Go

Get Up & Go

Australia's best burger joints . . .


Burgers and beaches prove a winning combo for Australia’s favourite burger joint, according to TripAdvisor travellers

TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site*, today announced the 10 best boutique burger restaurants in Australia, according to the reviews and opinions of millions of travellers. From a converted truck in Pokolbin to a hidden gem in Byron Bay, these outstanding burger joints provide beef that’s a cut above.

Top 10 Boutique Burger Joints in Australia
1.       Burger Me Fresh, Coolangatta, QLD (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 39 reviews)              
Since opening almost a year ago, Burger Me Fresh has been impressing customers with its fresh, creative menu. Claiming the number one spot on TripAdvisor’s Top Ten Boutique Burgers list, Burger Me Fresh’s delicious burgers are served with your choice of a fresh juice or real fruit smoothie. “There's honestly nothing better than a delicious non-greasy burger ... and Burger Me Fresh just get it right, ” said a TripAdvisor reviewer.





2.       Andrew's Hamburgers, Melbourne, VIC (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 41 reviews)
For over a decade Andrew’s Hamburgers have been dishing up the quintessential hamburger – classic, well-established recipes served with the promise of an unbelievably tasty burger experience. Credited with setting the standard of burger creation in Melbourne, TripAdvisor reviewers agree. One reviewer wrote, “I first visited 10 years ago and they were sensational then and nothing has changed.”

3.       Planet Burgers, Exmouth, WA (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 36 reviews)
This unconventional food truck has been impressing Exmouth locals and tourists for over 20 years, serving up its famous souvlaki, burgers and fries. With a menu unlike any other burger joint around, TripAdvisor reviewers are undoubtedly impressed and one wrote, “I had the hamburger and can honestly say is best one I've ever eaten.”




4.       The Bottle of Milk, Lorne, VIC (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 135 reviews)
Since 2008, The Bottle of Milk has been creating some of the country’s most loved burgers. Located on Victoria’s picturesque coast, the burgers at The Bottle of Milk are a delicious take on the beach-side classic ‘burgers and chips’. According to a TripAdvisor reviewers, “the moment we took a bite from our burgers we knew we would be going back again.”

5.       Longboards Laidback Eatery, Surfers Paradise, QLD (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 104 reviews)
Longboards Laidback Eatery creates a relaxing atmosphere where many visitors and locals go to enjoy live music and a super-sized, high-quality burger. Opening its doors at 7am, Longboards pays homage to the world’s top surfers and artists and servers the surfing community burgers until late every night. “Delicious burger BIG enough for two!” exclaimed a TripAdvisor reviewer.



6.       Penguin Stop Café, Penneshaw, SA (4.5 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 31 reviews)
Penguin Stop Café is known by the community for serving the best burgers on Kangaroo Island, and have famously friendly staff with consistently exceptional service. The Egg and Bacon Burger and Chicken Burger rate best amongst reviewers, who wrote, “friendly staff, easy location to access. The food was fresh and tasty.”

7.       TUBE The Ultimate Burger Experience, Townsville, QLD (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 75 reviews)
TUBE is a locally owned small business owned by long-time friends who have a passion for quality food, dining and giving something back to the local community. The taste of the burger definitely lives up to its name with one TripAdvisor reviewer who praised, “the quality of the ingredients coupled with the great fresh flavours and the ingredients were fresh and the steak was of exceptional quality. Our new permanent burger spot.”



8.       Beloporto, Byron Bay, NSW (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 37 reviews)
Beloporto is Byron Bay’s hidden gem when it comes to top burger restaurants. Specialising in Portuguese Chicken Burgers, travellers should look no further for great value. One TripAdvisor review agreed and said, “take the time to find this place, the other reviews are not exaggerating. These burgers are that good! Chips are yummy too.”

9.       Missy Moo’s Burger Bar, South Freemantle, WA (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 34 reviews)
With an extensive range of burgers, Missy Moo’s Burger Bar is value for money and caters for all tastes and preferences - lamb, beef, fish and vegetarian. Known for their large portions, each burger is also named after a nursery rhyme, and served with a steak knife. A TripAdvisor reviewer said, “really good food and cool atmosphere, I love going to this place! The staff are really friendly too!”



10.   Tuk Tuk, Pokolbin, NSW (4 out of 5 bubbles on TripAdvisor, 61 reviews)
Tuk Tuk is one of the busiest burger bars in the Hunter Valley. With exceptional service and an extensive menu, there is no doubt Tuk Tuk has something for every customer. The ‘Three Way Pork Burger’ and the ‘Rosemary Little Lamb Burger’ rate amongst reviewers favourites and one TripAdvisor reviewer who could not get of enough of the burgers wrote, “They are the best burgers I have ever had and I have eaten burgers all over the world.”
As the country’s boutique burger craze continues to dominate the gourmet fast-food industry, TripAdvisor reviewers prove to be experts when it comes to finding the hottest spots. Traditional burgers, seasonal menus and unexpected combinations have all made it to the list of the nation’s finest establishments and no matter what travellers are looking for, they will no doubt find something to satisfy their burger urge.    

The TripAdvisor list of the 10 best burger joints in Australia is based on the reviews and opinions of TripAdvisor travellers, taking into account the quality, quantity and ratio of reviews mentioning burgers, as well as overall reviews for the establishment.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Get Up & Go: South Africa's colourful Cape Malay

Get Up & Go: South Africa's colourful Cape Malay

South Africa's colourful Cape Malay


Full of history and natural wonders, Cape Town offers up a special pocket of colour – that’s a standout.
Cape Town in South Africa is everything and more you could ever learn about it. The city spreads across the bottom of the mountain range that is topped by the protective shadow of Table Mountain; it leans towards the sea and is a hotchpotch of various architecture from the gated elegant McMansions and villa communities to simple suburban beauties. There are shanty houses, old blocks of flats and new, smart and edgy developments.
One area of Cape Town has set itself as an example of longevity, savvy survival and colourful enough to entrance visitors to its doorstep. It’s the Malay Quarter, Cape Malay at Bo-Kaap. Stroll around the gently undulating streets and be delighted at the sight of pretty houses, immaculately painted in bright, vibrant colours – fuchsia, lavender, jade, sunflower and cobalt - with gleaming white trim. The effect is stunning and a rainbow pattern of little homes along a terrace.
 

 

Not always so neat and pretty these homes were built to house slaves from Malaya and Indonesia, brought to South Africa because of their skills in building, tailoring, gardening and cooking. Not a happy time for many a century or so, with houses packed to the gunnels with the slaves.
With the emancipation of slaves in 1834, many moved to the Bo-Kaap district, then a settlement for disadvantaged communities. The district is on the top of Signal Hill and above the bright colour line is Table Mountain. The district has been listed as a National Monument because of the pre-1840 architecture still standing.
This is a bright spot less than two kilometres in extent. This is a happy, multicultural home to more than 12,000 inhabitants.

Cape cuisine
Also out of this area comes the magic of Cape Malay cuisine, a splendid fusion of spices and traditions from – and although called Malayans, most of them came from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Indonesia in the Far East. Each section of these communities brought with them sweet and sour culinary traditions and creativity in the use of fragrant herbs and spices. This group had the largest influence on South Africa’s cuisine than any other group. Who would have thought that when the Dutch settlers brought t them into the Cape colony in the 17th century, that today their food, and resilience has outlasted the Dutch regime.


One of the most famous delicacies from the Cape Malay kitchen is ‘Bobotie’, traditionally a ‘Monday’ dish, made from leftovers from Sunday’s cooking. There are hundreds of variants in this dish – but the essential ingredient is ‘begrafnisrys’ (funeral rice); rice with turmeric and raisins, so called because it was served as a funeral meal by Cape Malayans.
Bobotie has become highly popular in South Africa as is now regarded as an indigenous dish. Soaked bread is mixed with minced meat and flavoured with fried onions, curry powder, apricot jam, fried almond slivers and sultanas. Add some lemon juice and halfway through cooking – cover with a topping of egg custard to give it a golden crust on top.


Served with sambals and atjars, Cape Malay curries are famous for the full-bodied flavour. So if you hanker for spice – you’ll find the most fragrant dishes served Cape Malay style in Cape Town.
There’s nothing dull about this region on earth – colour, spice and the magic of the glorious scenery, this cape flies!
Visit: www.southafrica.net and for a cooking safari www.bokaap.co.za
Bev Malzard was a guest of South Africa Tourism and flew to South Africa with South African Airlines' codeshare partner qantas

 

 

DID YOU KNOW?
Slaves had one day off a year when they paraded through the streets. To avoid punishment for singing about oppression they had to disguise themselves. Hence, the flamboyant costumes of today’s Cape Town Carnival.