Travel news: Takeoff September 28, 2014

The High Roller observation wheel, Las Vegas, USA
What happens in Vegas…
Can’t hold off till the kids hit 21 to visit Vegas? The new Children’s Discovery Museum (US$12, proves the desert casino town isn’t just an adult playground. The museum has a desert-themed toddler zone, an eco city, art play and detective mysteries to solve for primary school kids. Vegas does have non-gaming, non-smoking hotels such as Vdara ( and most have buffets and pools aplenty. Many hotels also let kids under 12 stay free in their parents’ room. If your hotel is a roller-coaster free zone, head to Caesar’s 167-meter High Roller observation wheel, which opened in March. Family packs for Saturday morning cost $56 (two adults, three children, For more ideas, from feeding twin white tiger cubs at the Mirage to feeding sharks in Mandalay Bay, see
Unlock your stay in Brisbane with your mobile phone at the NEXT hotel, which opened this week on the Queen Street Mall. Using the hotels’ NEXT App, you can check in, unlock your room, control air-conditioning, lights and TV, even from outside. If that’s too prosaic, use it to call for cocktails. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel and the app is available for iPhones and Androids. Don’t have a smartphone? Each of the 304 rooms has a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone for use during your stay. Also, the free club lounge is open to guests who arrive earlier than the 3pm check-in and includes an outdoor pool, 24-hour gym, showers and sleep pods. Catch NEXT’s opening special, from $179 a room (weekends) until January 21. Book direct and get a $25 food and beverage voucher. Phone 1300 272 132, see
The Charisma by Victorinox.
Luggage to Love
Finally, ’s a luggage designer realises women need to stash a lipgloss amongst the laptops, smartphones and power pens. In stores this month, the new Victoria Collection comes from Swiss luggage specialist Victorinox, better known as the inventor of the ultimate travel tool, the Swiss Army knife. With names such as Aspire, Divine and Sage, the 10 styles include tote bags, crossbody day bags, four-wheel laptop cases, a sleek backpack and the Charisma, a carryall that whips you from work to weekend. It packs a 15.6-inch laptop and a tablet and its micro-suede zip-up pockets are equally ideal for sheltering sunglasses as a clutch of USB sticks and cables. The Charisma costs $309, in orchid (pictured), sand and black. See

Cruise control
Find the boat of your dreams (or the boat of your budget) on the GetMyBoat app, which links would-be sailors with private boat owners and boat rental companies. The free app lists more than 17,000 boats in 90 countries, including Australia, with a heavy emphasis on the US. It enables direct messaging between renters and owners to book a boat for an hour, a day, a week or whatever’s your whimsy, from $20 to eye-blistering sums. All boats are vetted for safety standards before they’re listed on the site and insurance is available. Available for iPhones and Androids. See

Floriade, Canberra.
Floriade frolic
Kids, pets and manicured flowerbeds are an unlikely grouping, but Canberra’s celebration of spring, Floriade, bravely mixes dogs, wildlife and cubby houses with a million blooms. The third week of the month-long festival welcomes wildlife warrior Bindi Irwin on October 4 and 5; lets you take your hounds in on October 7; and unleashes the professionals – your kids – on six architecturally designed cubby houses on October 12. The cubbies will then be auctioned to raise funds for The Centenary Hospital for Women and Children and the National Children’s Playground Project. The final week of the extravaganza has an Outdoors and Adventure theme, with sustainability workshops and DIY demos from The Living Room’s handyman hero Barry Du Bois, on October 11 and 12. And former former Raiders captain Alan Tongue will run a Big Boot Camp, also on October 11. Visit Floriade, in Commonwealth Park, until October 12. Entry is free. Phone 1300 852 780, see

Good Food month.
A state of good taste
Get out of town for good food during October in The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Month and The CanberraTimes Good Food Month, presented by Citi. While Sydney will be awash with night noodle markets and celeb chefs including our own David Thompson of Bangkok’s celebrated Nahm restaurant, key gigs in the Blue Mountains include the 80km-radius dinner highlighting local producers, at the Fairmont Resort in Leura and a cider sampler lunch at Megalong’s new Cider Barn. There are farmers’ markets by the seaside in Kiama, a long lunch down Bowral’s Bong Bong Street and the foodie gems of Wollongong on show at TAFE Illawarra. In Canberra,  you can bar-hop around Braddon on gin cocktails, go country at the regional table of Le Tres Bon Restaurant in Bungendore or step even further afield to experience Taste Riverina, from Wagga to Griffith. See

Edited by Belinda Jackson, Takeoff is published in the Sun-Herald's Traveller section every Sunday.

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