Luxe lodges, tennis scores and the magnificent Magna Carta: Takeoff travel news

Havana, Cuba, one of the New7Wonders Cities
A special congratulations to Australia's Nick Kyrgios, who made it through to the Australian Open quarter finals last night! Read more about what he's up to, below.


NEWS: Seven new wonders
Vigan, Doha, Havana: how many of the New7Wonders Cities have you visited – or could hit on the world map? The New7Wonders project let people vote on modern day wonders, from cities to natural features, to determine our modern-day Pyramids.

The final list of top seven cities is Beirut (Lebanon), Doha (Qatar), Durban (South Africa), Havana (Cuba), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia) and Vigan (Philippines).

“La Paz in Bolivia is the highest capital city in the world (and) the city’s buildings cling to the sides of the canyon and spill spectacularly downwards while Durban, South Africa’s third largest city, has really come alive since its World Cup makeover in 2010,” says says Fiona Hunt, managing director of Adventure World. “Cuba, stuck in a colourful, colonial time-wrap, is a truly fascinating and incomparable city,” she adds. “The list demonstrates how people are seeking out unique, off-the-beaten track and largely untapped destinations.” See new7wonders.com, adventureworld.com.au.

KIDS: How to make lunchtimes cooler
Whether your kids are braving the frigid temps of the Antarctic or the sultry climes of an African safari, these cute meal and lunch sets are great comfort for those who like to travel with familiar friends. Armed with your polar bear, team the melamine table setting (cup, bowl, plate and cutlery) with the Lunchie, an insulated bag that keeps food just right – warm or cold – with a water bottle on the side.

Made by New York based Skip Hop for kids on the move, there are a range of animals from bugs to zebras, some with matching backpacks.The Skip Hop Lunchie costs from $24.95, and Mealtime gift set costs from $39.95, from David Jones. See davidjones.com.au.

TECH: Mapping the Magna Carta
This year is the 800th anniversary of King John’s sealing of the Magna Carta, a peace treaty, statement of liberties and the creation of the rule of law. Follow the story across England, from Salisbury Cathedral to London’s British Library, Runnymede in Surrey and Lincoln Castle, William the Conquerer’s stronghold where the Great Charter was signed.

Six new self-guided trails create two- and three-day itineraries through English towns and cities, tracing the document’s history and visiting the four original Magna Cartas. See magnacartatrails.com, visitengland.com.

FOOD: Italy for the Epicurious
There is more to Italian cooking than just lasagne (although that’s an extremely good start). Let your guide show you on this 15-day tour of Italy, from Rome to Venice, with Tuscany, Modena and Assisi also on the itinerary. The Country Roads & Vineyards of Italy tour includes tasting Brunello di Montalcino with its makers, watching Parmigiano-Reggiano being produced and finding yourself in vinyeards of Soave, as well as Insight’s Signature Dining experiences. Feed your cultural soul with a private tour of the Vatican, a gondola ride in Venice and a stay in the Tuscan Villa San Paolo in San Gimignano. Costs from $5389 a person, twin share and departs September 2, 2015. Phone 1300 301 672, see insightvacations.com.

AIRLINE: Kyrgios in full flight
Canberra teenager Nick Kyrgios is best known as the tennis player who thumped world number one Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon last year. The 19-year-old, who has a Greek father and Malaysian mother, is now the newest ambassador for Malaysia Airlines. “While I was born and brought up in Australia, I’m really proud of my family culture and very close to my Malaysian family,” he says, adding he has flown with the airline since he was a boy.

The airline has 81 direct flights to Malaysia from Australia and New Zealand, and onward to 60 destinations including London and Paris via its A380. Kyrgios is currently ranked 50th in the world and kicks off his first full year of tennis at the opening of the Australian Open, in Melbourne, tomorrow. The Nick Kyrgios Summer Spectacular airline deals will start on January 21. See ausopen.com, malaysiaairlines.com.


LODGES: Luxury with a green edge
Get ready for a dose of lodge lust: the National Geographic Society has created a global collection of 24 boutique hotels that are dedicated to sustainability and luxury, and includes three of Australia’s most unique properties.

The lodges range from Bhutan to British Columbia, and include Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef and two resorts owned by Baillie Lodges, Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island and the tented camp Longitude 131°, which faces Uluru. 

Southern Ocean Lodge, South Australia
The properties were rigorously vetted for their sustainable tourism practices prior to inclusion. “These lodges demonstrate that sustainability and a world-class guest experience can go hand-in-hand,” says Lynn Cutter of National Geographic. Guests booking a stay at either Baillie property through National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World will have exclusive experiences including private dinners and cooking classes using indigenous ingredients. See nationalgeographiclodges.com.

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

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