TRAVEL DEALS: 22 July 2012

Hong Kong kids do masterclass
Everyone loves a bargain, even if the transport to your resort is a luxury speedboat. It's the Maldives, of course. Or why not swim with whales in the Kingdom of Tonga? As you do... it's all here in this week's travel deals.
NORTHERN TERRITORY
With the MacDonnell Ranges as your hotel’s backdrop, there’s no mistaking you’re in the Territory. The Alice in the Territory hotel is close to the airport and 2km from town, with a complementary shuttle bus to Todd Mall. There are also free in-house movies and a kid-pleasing pool, where we white southerners can show off our office tans. Normally $165, costs from $110 a night until August 31, 1800 002 333, quickbeds.com

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
August means Arts in across the state, with the massive South Australia Living Arts (SALA) visual arts festival running from August 3-26. Oaks Embassy, in downtown Adelaide, is throwing in free breakfast when you stay two nights or more. Normally $194 a night, a one-bedroom apartment, which includes use of the pool, gym, sauna and spa, costs $139 a night until August 31, two-night minimum stay,  1300 721 514, oakshotelsresorts.com

Victoria's Yarra Valley
VICTORIA
With frosty nights and sparkling days, the Yarra Valley glistens in winter, and its chief drawcards – cellar doors, art galleries and country walks – are perfect cold-weather activities. Overlooking Healesville, hip little hideaway Mt Rael’s winter special knocks $100 off two-night midweek stays (Sun-Thurs) until August 31. Normally from $175 a night, costs from $250 for two nights, (03) 5962 1977, www.mtrael.com.au

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Cape Lodge, Margaret River
Dripping with awards, including best boutique hotel in Australia, the five-star Cape Lodge has the best neighbours: Margaret River, Voyager Estate (with its new wine room) and the whale-filled Indian Ocean. Surrounded by vineyards, it has just 22 fabulous rooms, a stand-out restaurant and top cellar doors nearby, but bless, you can still do a twilight kangaroo safari. Normally from $475 a night, book before August 26 and pay from $349 a night on midweek stays, 1300 130 485, travel.com.au

Peppers Ruffles Lodge
QUEENSLAND
The Gold Coast hinterland is laid at your feet when you stay at Peppers Ruffles Lodge & Spa, which is set on the hills overlooking this magnificent stretch of Australia’s coastline. Peaceful and lush, the new one and two bedroom owners’ villas’ midweek special includes gourmet breakfast, a fruit basket and nightly turn-down service with chocolates and port. Normally from $750 a night, costs $1318 for two midweek nights until end September, 1300 987 600, peppers.com.au

NSW
Learn the art of directing a perfect plume of wine (aka: spitting) on a weekend away in Mudgee. Trelawney Farm is throwing in six bottles of Logan’s wine for guests staying the weekend in the 1880s farmhouse. Set 4km out of Mudgee on 25 acres, each room in the Coach House and Barn End Cottage has its own style, and is kitted out with home theatre, open fireplaces and linen. Costs $2500 for two-night weekend for up to 10 guests. Or stay three, pay two nights on midweek stays (Sun-Thurs) before December 15, costs $1600 for three nights, 0423 330 833, www.trelawneyfarm.com

THAILAND
The new Centra Coconut Beach Resort Samui is set on Thong Tanote Beach, a quiet corner on happening Koh Samui. Comprising 53 rooms and villas, the resort is celebrating with opening specials. A superior pool view room costs from $58 a room a night, including breakfast, until October 31, +662 101 1234, centarahotelsresorts.com

HONG KONG
Let the kids conquer Hong Kong with a family summer getaway at the SkyCity Marriott Hotel, on Lantau island, near Hong Kong Disneyland and the Giant Buddha. Kids can do a junior masterchef or master housekeeper class (help with the housework!), and the hotel is adding $60 of dining credits, 10 percent off spa treatments and 6pm checkout. Costs from $250 a room (2 adults, 1 child), 1800 251 259, hongkongskycitymarriott.com 

BALI
Anantara Seminyak Bali is celebrating a Three Day Weekend Getaway from August 16-19 with a poolside breakfast, side-by-side hour massage or perhaps a chocolate facial for the kids, and a dance party at the resort’s SOS Supper Club, one of the most happening hotspots on the island. Those with kids will get a half-day free babysitting and daily ice cream. Save $180 (and get a whole lot of extras) costs from $ 1,239++ a room for three nights, +62 361 737 773, anantara.com

USA
If you’re up for the great American roadtrip, kick off with Contiki from LA on the Southern Adventure, and cross the country from California to Louisiana. The 13-day tour ticks off the Grand Canyon and Vegas, baby, and shows how they do barbies in Texas and cruise in New Orleans. Book 6 months in advance, save $105, costs $2034, book 12 months in advance, save $209, costs $1930 a person, contiki.com.au

MALDIVES
Synonymous with luxury, the tiny islands of the Maldives have got it all: white sand beaches, tropical palms, baby blue lagoons. Stay seven nights at the Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, and pay for six. Fifteen minutes by luxury speedboat from Mali airport, the hotel is located on its own private island, naturally. The deal is also laden with extras, including a romantic beach dinner, a la carte breakfast, a sunset cruise and 15 percent of spa treatments. Travel until November 30, book by 15 November, costs from US$5223 (A$5097) for seven nights. (02) 9957 4511, maryrossitravel.com

TOURWATCH
Snorkelling with whales, Tonga
Snorkelling with humpback whales not on your bucket list? Perhaps it’s because you thought you never could. The Kingdom of Tonga is a favourite hang for the massive mammals between July and mid-October. Like many humans, they are lured by the warm waters for romance, using it as a stopover for love on their migration from Antarctica. Stay one night at the Scenic Hotel Tonga, in Nuku’alofa, six nights in the Puataukanave Hotel, Vava’u, and have two day’s whale watching with the chance of getting up close and personal. The tour also includes four dives over two days including all diving gear, return airport transfers and a guide. For travel between August 14-21 and September 4-11, costs $2003 a person, twin share, 1800 044 066, travel-associates.com.au

Source: Belinda Jackson, Sun Herald newspaper

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