TRAVEL DEALS: 20 May 2012

Sea World, Qld
SA
Riesling lovers, go back to the heartland with a private day tour of the beautiful Clare Valley, north of Adelaide. After a civilised 9am pick-up, visit cellar doors including Pikes, Jim Barry and Annie’s Lane, with morning tea at the birthplace of poet CJ Dennis, of The Sentimental Bloke fame. Lunch is at the gorgeous Skillogalee. Winter specials save $100 a person, until end August. Costs $395 a person based on two people travelling, 0418 222 767, ggca.com.au

NSW
Mudgee comes to the Big Smoke to show its wares to city slickers during the Pyrmont Festival of wine, food and art, running now until May 27. Out-of-towners can take advantage of festival hotel deals at the nearby  3.5-star Aspire Hotel Sydney, in Ultimo. Save $171, costs $119 a night, 02 9211 1499, aspirehotel.com. The 5-star Darling Hotel is cutting 20 percent off the best rate of the day on bookings until May 30 when you utter the magic word, ‘Pyrmont’, 1800 700 700, pyrmontfestival.com
QLD 
Rated as one of Australia’s top family hotels, the Gold Coast’s Paradise Resort has a last-minute offer that include accommodation, breakfast, and unlimited entry to Dreamworld, Whitewater World and the resort’s own Zone 4 Kids waterpark and kids’ club, which caters for kids from 0-12 years. Book now to travel till May 31 to get savings of more than $500. Costs from $995 for a family (2 adults, 2 kids to 12 years), 1800 074 111, paradiseresort.com.au
TAS
Tap into happening Hobart with the state’s top concierge, Selina Spowart, at one of Tasmania’s most glam properties, the Islington Hotel. Stay three nights for the price of two on midweek stays (Mon-Thurs). Includes full brekky, a non-alcoholic minibar, wi-fi. Costs $740 a room, (03) 6220 2123, islingtonhotel.com
VICTORIA 
You’d avoid the continental bakeries of St Kilda in summer – imbibing those lusciously rich old-world towers of cream and cake would absolutely show in the bikini. But it’s winter, and no one will ever know. Explore Luna Park and the St Kilda Sea Baths while holed up at rock-star digs, The Prince of Wales hotel, with its newly relaunched Circa restaurant. The hotel is offering a free upgrade to a deluxe room, with breakfast and wi-fi, on stays before July 31. Normally $390 a night, for just $175, (03), 9536 111, theprince.com.au

VIC
Rejoice, winter is kicking in and that means it’s time to head to the Alps, plait your hair and pray for snow. Hotham Alpine Resort’s new Family Ski Week package saves you 30 percent and includes ski-in/ski-out accommodation at a three-bed chalet at the Hotham Heights Chalet, a five-day lift pass and five group lessons or half days at the Kids Snowzone. Full price from $1027 for adults, $881 for kids. Travel June 9-18 and August 31- September 30, costs from $867 for adults, $796 for kids, based on 10 share, 1800 468 426, hotham.com.au
WA
Our Kylie’s scribbled on the guestbook, so El Questro’s Homestead, in the remote Kimberley region, is genuinely swank, indeed. The Chamberlain suite is named after the rushing river below, where crocodiles play, their eyes glimmering in the torchlight. Stay five nights, pay for four. The deal includes all meals and drinks. Add a Bungle Bungle and Lake Argyle scenic flight for $560 a person. Book before October 30, stay September 1 – October 20. Costs from $4855 a person, twin share, 1800 044 066, travel-associates.com.au

INTERNATIONAL

USA
Get a night on the house when you stay at the Mandarin Oriental’s newest hotel in Atlanta, which celebrates its opening with a free night when you stay three. Set in the boutique shopping enclave of Buckshead, save $290 until September 1. Costs from $583 for three nights, 1800 123 693, mandarinoriental.com
ABU DHABI
Gallop into the desert on your Arabian steed at the new Sir Bani Yas Stables, set beside the Desert Islands Resort & Spa, in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. Stay five nights at the resort until June 30 and get 35 percent off your room rate, includes breakfast. Normally $930, costs $605 for five nights, +66 (0) 2365 9111, anantara.com
ITALY
See Italy on go-slow when you pedal your trusty pushies through the north-west, stopping at Verona, Vicenza and Venice. UTracks is offering a free accommodation upgrade worth $150 to 3-4 star hotels on its eight-day self-guided Backroads to Venice cycling tour. Book by May 31, travel by December 31, includes breakfasts, 27-speed bikes, a cruise on Lake Garda and accommodation. Costs $1190 a person, UTracks, 1300 303 368, utracks.com
INDIA
Private jets are sooo passé: but a private train? Now you’re talking. India’s first private train, The Indian Maharaja, rolls grandly across the sub-continent from Mumbai to Delhi, stopping to see giant paintings of the Buddha, lake palaces and tigers in the jungle. In between, you can hail the butler, go to the spa or even hit the gym. Yes, it stops at the Taj Mahal, too. Book by May 31 to save up to 13 percent off fares between October 1 2012–April 30 2013. Costs from $3778 plus taxes, (02) 9211 6590, uniquetourism.com

EGYPT
A century ago, British archaeologist Howard Carter opened the Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb, unleashing a wave of Egyptomania across the world. Celebrate in the Valley of the Kings with a tour departing September 5. The 17-night tour includes four nights on a Nile cruise, with visits to Luxor’s West Bank, the Pyramids at Giza, Alexandria and the dramatic Abu Simbel, with your own Egyptologist on hand. Also includes flights from Sydney with Etihad Airways. Save $500 a couple, now costs $5345 a person, 1300 135 871, benchinternational.com.au
TOURWATCH: CHILE & BOLIVIA
Walk the driest desert in the world, Chile’s Atacama desert, across the Bolivian altiplano and over the border into the Bolivian silver city of Potosi in an 11-day ‘travesia’. In your travels, you’ll trek across the Salar de Uyuni, the largest and highest salt flat in the world, and stay in the oasis of San Pedro de Atacama. Explore volcanos, geothermal plains and lagoons on a nomadic, high-altitude journey across the Andes with just five other experienced travellers and your guide. The tours include 4WD travel, accommodation in beautiful traditional explora camps, all meals and drinks and guiding. Travel between May and November, costs from $4871 a person twin share, from travel agents, +56 2395 2800, explora.com

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