Donkeys in Donegal, lounging on Lizard: travel deals 21 October 2012

Donkey and Mt  Errigal, Donegal, Ireland.

Chase donkeys in Donegal, lounge like a lizard on Lizard Island (where else?) or off track into the Balkans on an Ottoman trek.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA
With the Barossa to the north and Adelaide Hills to the east, the centre of Adelaide is but a hop-skip to some of Australia’s most exciting vineyards. If wine’s not your cuppa, the city has a plethora of chocolate shops that would make a dietician blush. The Mantra Hindmarsh Square is offering discounts of 13 per cent on stays in its Parkview suits on Thursday to Monday nights until February 21, 2013. Costs from $199 a night. 131 517 mantra.com.au.

NSW
The Sheraton brand is celebrating 75 years in the business and the Sheraton on the Park is kicking up its heels with a stay-three, pay-two deal on stays until January 31, 2013 at the Elizabeth St hotel until November 14. Costs from $587 for three nights. Otherwise, stay at the standard rates, and pay 1937 prices for breakfast, a whopping 95 cents for two. (02) 9286 6000, sheraton75.com.

The new Stormie Mills suite, Cullen Art Hotel
VICTORIA
Your dreams will be brightly coloured with Melbourne’s famed street art, on a Street Art Sleepover at the edgy Cullen art hotel. The package includes a night in its Street Art suites, with works by top artists Swoon, Blek le Rat and D*Face and the newest, by Australia’s own Stormie Mills. Also included is a one-hour street art tour and a bottle of wine. Normally $319 accommodation only, save over $100 on stays until December 30. Costs from $329 a night.  (03) 9098 1555, artserieshotels.com.au.

TASMANIA
Discover the world’s first private nature photography gallery, cruise the Gordon River and breathe in the exquisite beauty of Cradle Mountain’s Dove Lake on a six-day self-drive ’Wilderness Wonders’ journey from Launceston to Hobart, via Strahan. Includes accommodation at the Henry Jones Art Hotel, Cradle Mountain Chateau and Country Club Villas, Launceston. As an added bonus, buy one ticket, get one free on the West Coast Wilderness Railway. For travel until December 20, costs from $516.50 a person, twin share, quote code TOU1. 1800 420 155, puretasmania.com.au.

Lizard Island, Queensland
QUEENSLAND
Lizard Island is one of Australia’s top resorts, literally: it’s 240km north of Cairns, at the top of the Great Barrier Reef. Stay five nights, pay for four, saving $1444. Includes all gourmet meals, fine wines and champagne, and if you go off-track to one of its 24 private beaches, the kitchen will pack a picnic hamper, so you’ll never go without. Book until March 31, 2013 for stays from December 1 until March 31, 2013 (excluding December 21-January 7). Costs from $5776 a room. 1300 863 248, lizardisland.com.au.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA
With 22 kilometres of white sand, Cable Beach is one of Australia’s great beach strips, lapped by the Indian Ocean. Book five nights in a pool view studio at the four-star Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa, pay for four. They’ll also include breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Book until November 30, stay until March 31, 2013. Costs from $725 a person for five nights (excluding flights). 132 757, harveyworld.com.au.
   

The author's lounge, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
THAILAND
Jim Thompson, the man who brought Thai silk to the world, is one of Bangkok’s great figures, and the Mandarin Oriental commemorates 45 years since his mysterious disappearance in 1967. Its package includes three nights in a superior room with butler, a bespoke tour of Jim Thompson House, a Thai massage, dinner and show at the hotels’ Sala Rim Naam restaurant and a silk gift. Valid until March 31, 2013, with some blackout dates, save 18 per cent, around $350. Costs from $1846 for three nights, +66 (2) 659 9000, mandarinoriental.com/Bangkok.

INDONESIA
Prices in Bali are undoubtedly on the up, but the new 201-room Mercure Nusa Dua is celebrating its opening in late September with keen opening specials.  Close to the convention centre and Bali Collection shopping mall and airport, it’s also a short hop to the restaurant strips of Seminyak and Kuta’s clubs. Costs from $85 a night on stays until December 20. 1300 656 565, mercure.com.


CHINA
Tick all China’s top sights - the Great Wall to the Terracotta Warriors and the Three Gorges Dam - off your bucket list on this 14-day China Special, which departs April 6, 2013. Regular tours cost around $3050, land only, but the price on this excursion includes return air fares to China with Singapore Airways, so you can blow your savings on cocktails on Shanghai’s swanky Bund. Costs from $3550 a person, twin share. 1300 720 000, worldexpeditions.com.au.

BALKANS
Croatia may well have entertained the likes of Tom Cruise, but go off track into the Balkans on the Ottoman Trek to discover the romantic cities of Sarajevo, Belgrade and Sofia and the perennial traveller’s fave, Istanbul in the Ottoman Trek. Book by January 13 and save 15 per cent. Costs from $750 a person, includes walking tours, six nights’ accommodation, all transport and guides and a Lonely Planet guidebook. 1300 287 226, busabout.com/earlybird.

 Beynac in Dordogne, France
FRANCE
French Travel Connection’s 17-day French tour starts in Paris before exploring the WWII landing beaches of Normandy, the Loire Valley’s castles, winescapes of Lyon and, of course, Champagne. Book by December 22 for departure between May to September 2013, save from $300 a person and get a free airport transfers. Includes 3 and 4-star accommodation, many meals and entrance fees. Costs from $6486 a person, twin share. 1300 858 304, frenchtravel.com.au.

TOURWATCH
Breathe and feel the literary and cultural traditions of Ireland, from Belfast in the north through Mayo to Tipperary down south, with Donegal man James Clarke. “No, you will not rush to kiss the Blarney Stone,” James warns. Instead, you’ll attend the spectacular Galway Writers’ Festival, visit Fethard in County Tipperary where Ned Kelly’s folk hail from, and sail to remote islands off the wild Donegal coastline. Includes all accommodation (usually two-night stays), breakfasts, some lunches and all transport.  Next tour departs Belfast April 20, finishes in Dublin May 1, 2013. Costs $8000 a person (excluding air fares).  0417 206 932, irelandjourneys.com.au

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