Monday, November 29, 2010

Game Fishing Tournaments in Western Australia

Sal Salis is an exceptional safari camp on the water's edge of Ningaloo Reef.  This is Western Australia's premier game fishing location, and October-April are the peak time for Blue Marlin and Sailfish.  You and your team can experience two of the biggest game fishing tournaments in the region, with exclusive use of Sal Salis' custom fishing boat and dedicated skipper/guide.

March 14 - 19, 2011, is the Australian International Billfish Tournement; March 19 - 27, 2011, is GAMEX 2011.  The packages include 2 nights at the Novotel Ningaloo Reef, the rest of your stay at Sal Salis (inclusive of all meals and beverages), the competition fees, and much more. 

This is an amazing opportunity.  Contact me for details about cost and availability!  818-553-3219 or

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Forget the malls.  Forget the parking lots.  Forget the lines.  Give the gift of travel this year for the holidays.  It will leave lasting memories!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Voyages Ayers Rock Resort sold - GPT sells last of Voyages portfolio

The $300M sale of Voyages Ayers Rock Resort back to the Central Australian Anangu nations of Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara is a landmark deal that puts the running of the resort firmly in the hands of the local indigenous people.  The issue being haggled about was never about price:  it was conditional upon finding a meaningful way of transferring skills to the local people.  The deal will also see the return of 104,000 hectares of culturally significant freehold land to traditional owners, while local operator Anangu Tours will play a continuing role in resort operation and management.
Also significant is the end of GPT in the tourism industry as the last of the Voyages Properties has been sold.  In my 20 + years in travel, I've always had a Voyages property in my Australian itineraries - and I'll still use the properties under all the new ownership. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Royal Wedding at Sea

On April 29, 2011, the day of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, guests on board Cunard's three ships -  Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth - will have fantastic seats to view the ceremony and all the events.  This is an historic event, and what better way to experience it short of an invitation?

Each of the three ships feature Royal Court Theatres - West End in style and West End in size - where the wedding ceremony will be broadcast live.  The Royal Court on the Queen Mary 2 holds 1000 guests, while the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth hold just around 800 guests.  If there is enough demand, the ships can accommodate guests in additional venues. 

Queen Mary 2 will be doing a Trans Atlantic Crossing, Queen Victoria will be at sea in the Mediterranean, and Queen Elizabeth will be heading toward South Hampton.  This going to be a celebration not to miss!  Please contact me for further details.

Boycott could mean havoc on air travel

Photo courtesy of Gadling

According to an article in Travel Mole, the proposed boycott of the full body scanners could mean long delays tomorrow for air passengers.  The National Opt-Out Day is scheduled for Wednesday, November 24th.  This, the day before Thanksgiving, is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year.  The scan, which leaves little to the imagination, takes about 10 seconds.  The pat-down in lieu of the body scan takes longer, and is very invasive.  The new TSA procedure "includes a security worker running a hand up the inside of passengers' legs and along the cheek of the buttocks, as well as making direct contact with the groin area."  Isn't that what they do to prisoners?

So, between the airlines overcrowding us, charging us to check bags, charging us for blankets and pillows, charging us for food and ear-buds and the TSA treating us like criminals, it's a wonder anyone bothers to go anywhere.  Yet, we do.  We put up with invasions of privacy just to experience the wonder of a foreign place, the relaxation found on a white sand beach, the sensation of awe we share seeing a majestic mountain range.  There was a time when airline travel was part of the wonder of a vacation - we dressed up, we were excited.  We also had room for our knees and we also didn't feel like a fugitive as we went through lines to board the plane. 

I think we should do away with the TSA.  Really, my shampoo and conditioner are not a danger to my fellow travelers.  My shoes belong on my feet, and that bottle of water is not going to short circuit the electrical system on board the plane.  There are professionals who can, discreetly, watch behaviors and analyze who is a threat and who is not.  And believe me, that family of four heading to Hawaii is not a threat.

What do you think?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kaikoura, South Island, New Zealand

The Kaikoura Ranges are the second-highest mountain range on the South Island of New Zealand.  Here, where the mountains meet the sea, you can experience some world class day walks.  Walks Kaikoura provides guides, and the walks themselves require a medium level of fitness.  Some may not be suitable for children under 10, and walks can be tailored to your own specific needs such as how long you have to hike.

The Mount Fyffe Track can be done as a half- to a full-day hike (5 to 7 hours) or can be shorter, done as a Heli-Hike.  The lower mountain is lovely forest, going up to alpine tundra with spectacular sea views.  This is a rare opportunity to experience both ecologies so close together, and well worth your efforts.  Homemade refreshments are to be enjoyed at the hut, while you enjoy your reward of the scenery around you.

And Kaikoura is amazing for whale watching, Maori culture, and so much more.  Contact me for more information.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Celebrity Eclipse

Just back from a two night inaugural cruise aboard the Solstice Class Celebrity Eclipse.  Celebrity is a Premium Cruise Line, above the mass market lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and NCL.  The Premium Lines include Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, Oceania.  The Luxury Lines are Regent Seven Seas, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises, and Seabourn. 

A few years ago, I did a ship inspection on one of Celebrity's older ships and was completely underwhelmed.  Small staterooms, frayed fabrics, just nothing to make me want to put my clients on the line.  Comparing to Oceania, they came up short.  I've also sailed twice on Princess and have been disappointed both times.  So I boarded the Eclipse with low expectations.  All I can say is "WOW."

The Eclipse is new.  She's gleaming fresh (been sailing all summer in Europe) and bright.  Initially disappointed to have an ocean view stateroom, I walked into my room and said, "Wow."  Spacious, large window, and really nice bathroom.  Wow.  I mean a smartly laid out bathroom, with a shower door that doesn't flood the floor, and cabinets with glass doors that actually close, so your toiletries don't fly about in rough seas.  The sink is a raised sink, really lovely.  Nice carpeting.  Comfortable bed.  Flat screen TV.  Not the fantastic marble you find on Crystal or Regent, but really lovely in the Premium Category.

The staff is professional, providing gracious service with an energetic, youthful vibe.  Good humor mixed with really top-notch service at a level that is way above Premium.  The food is terrific - also at an unexpected level.  The bars are show-places, and fun; they had a jazz ensemble on board that was flat out amazing.  The pools are nice, but there is one pool that's adults only and quite serene. 

There are so many little touches that just raised the bar for a Premium Cruise Ship - a lawn on the top deck that you just have to walk on barefoot.  A really outstanding gelato corner.  Nice shopping arcade.  Really good artwork throughout the ship.  On, and on, and on.

The nice thing about Premium is that it isn't at the cost point of luxury; but the experience is so far above Mass Market.  You are out of pocket for a lot on a Premium Ship - drinks, specialty restaurants - that are included on Luxury, but it makes the transition easier.  But within the Premium Cateogry, I will be putting my clients on Celebrity from here on. 

If you want to check for special offers and rates, you can email me at