Monday, 17 May 2010

FRANK'S FAVOURITES: Eurodrive, Philippines, Great Barrier Reef, Spain, Hunter Valley


While some car rental brokers are predicting massive price increases of up to 40-50% because of continuing vehicle shortages in Europe following the Global Financial Crisis, lease company Renault Eurodrive says it has no such problems – and in fact has big discounts on vehicles booked between now and end-June for collection in Europe anytime prior to December 31 this year.

"Unlike some rental companies that have been impacted by finance squeezes as a result of the GFC, our vehicles are brand-new ex-factory and we have adequate supply at our disposal," said Renault Eurodrive Australia Managing Director, Paul Hodges.

"Australians are amongst the biggest users of Renault Eurodrive lease vehicles, particularly with the continuing surge of our dollar against the Euro."

The company earlier this month launched its Summer Special Sale which features a Megane Coupe Petrol 1.4 that now costs from just $1499 for a 21-day lease, free delivery and return in eighteen French cities and airports, 50% off delivery and return fees at fourteen others in eight European countries and including Great Britain, unlimited kilometres, and full insurance with no excess in 42-European countries.

As well, anyone who books just one extra day with any 21-day lease (the Megane starts from just $33 a day after 21-days) gets 7-more days for free.

Book and pay by June 30 for delivery prior to 31 December 2010; see travel agents, phone toll-free 1300 55 11 60 or visit where full details can be found online as well as a detailed brochure.


Philippine Airlines and Specialist Holidays have teamed up to offer Australian travellers a tempting choice of tropical getaways priced from as little as $999.

Capitalising on Philippine Airlines' newly introduced flights from Brisbane and a brand new Boeing 777 serving Sydney and Melbourne, the getaways offer some of the most seductive destinations in the Philippine archipelago.

Travellers can choose the life and colour of Manila, the beach resorts of Cebu or the powder white sands and turquoise seas of Boracay.

Packages include:

Manila – Four nights from $999* per person twin share from Sydney or Melbourne or from $1005* from Brisbane, including return flights, four-star accommodation on Manila Bay at the Traders Hotel Manila, breakfast daily and return airport transfers.

Cebu – Five nights from $1199* per person twin share from Sydney or Melbourne or from $1205* from Brisbane including return flights, four-star accommodation at the Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort, breakfast daily and return airport transfers.

Boracay -  Six nights from $1299* per person twin share from Sydney or Melbourne or from $1305* from Brisbane, including return flights, three-star accommodation for five nights at the Red Coconut Beach hotel, one night at the Traders Hotel Manila, breakfast daily and return airport transfers.

The introduction of Philippine Airlines' new 777 has set new standards on flights to Manila, including full-flat beds in business class and seat-back video on demand throughout all cabins.  Serving both Sydney and Melbourne, the 777's recent debut has been backed by the launch of new twice-weekly A330 flights from Brisbane.

*Prices include taxes, subject to availability and conditions. May be subject to seasonal surcharges and change without notice.  Based on special airfares for travel during select periods until November 18, 2010.

For full details and bookings contact Specialist Holidays on 13 19 69.


Orpheus Island Resort, one of the most exclusive hideaways off the Tropical North Queensland Coast is offering the perfect opportunity to escape the southern winter chill with a 'Stay 5 Pay 4' deal saving couples up to $1600.

For a limited time Orpheus Island Resort is offering an extra night for free with a "Stay 5 Pay 4" special offer. Enjoy a slice of your own secluded tropical island on the beautiful Great Barrier Reef in lavish beachfront accommodation starting from $3200 per person twin share for five nights.

The package includes five nights private beachfront accommodation in an Orpheus Retreat, complete with private patio and personal spa, all meals during your stay, meet and greet with fresh fruit cocktail on arrival and unlimited use of motorised dinghies, catamarans, paddle skis, canoes, snorkelling equipment, local snorkel trips, light fishing gear, pools, gymnasium, recreation room, tennis, bushwalking and selected interpretive activities.

This package is valid for travel until 30 September 2010. Subject to availability and conditions apply. Transfers to and from Orpheus Island are not included.

With some of the best snorkelling locations on the Reef, the waters around Orpheus more than 340 of the 350 known species of coral, and over 1,100 species of fish can be found here.

Limited to 42 pampered guests, Orpheus is a sophisticated yet relaxed retreat offering premium service, exquisite cuisine and total seclusion.  Privacy is assured with the exclusion of telephones, televisions, day-trippers, nightclubs or children under 15 years. All guest accommodation is located on the beachfront surrounded by lush tropical gardens.

An a la carte breakfast is served daily and guests can enjoy an alfresco style lunch in the courtyard with views across the beach, or spend a day relaxing on one of the many private beaches with an indulgent gourmet seafood picnic hamper.

In the evening, indulge in Orpheus's famous Seven Course Degustation evening menu, which is adapted every night to provide a unique culinary experience over and over again.

To take advantage of the Stay 5 Pay 4 Special Offer and to make a booking phone (07) 4777 7377 or email

Further information can be found at


VISITS to Andalucian hill villages shaped by the Moors and the ancient Royal cities of Rabat, Fez and Marrakesh in Morocco are features of a nine-day rail journey from Malaga on the coast of Spain now available from Explore Worldwide.

The journey starts in Malaga with the Andalucian Express travevlling through spectacular El Chorro Gorge to historic Ronda to explore the famous nearby white villages.

After crossing by ferry  the Moroccan activities include a visit to  the  ancient Medina of Fez, the Roman ruins of Volubilis, the Imperial city of Rabat and the el-Fna market place in Marrakesh.

The package includes hotel accommodation with breakfast, the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier, all train travel and guided tours of the old cities.

The package costs around $1368, depending on the season, and there are nine departures between September and April 2011.

Explore Worldwide holidays are designed as small group exploratory holidays and range in length from eight days to four weeks. They offer more than 450 itineraries in 120 countries.

Venture Holidays has more information on Explore Worldwide activities at 1300-414151 or visit


FROM Saturday 12 June to Monday 14 June 2010, Hunter Valley Gardens will host the inaugural FlavourFest as part of the Hunter Valley Wine and Food Month.

The three day culinary extravaganza will feature fine food, exquisite wine, cooking demonstrations and celebrity guest hosts including Peter Evans, Tobie Puttock and Janelle Bloom, along with inspiring music, flavours and sounds of the Hunter and beyond, all inside Australia's largest and most spectacular display gardens.

Kyle McKendry, General Manager says the even will ensure the June long weekend "is a memorable one for everyone."

The Main Stage

Located in the Lakeside Amphitheatre, the Main Stage will feature a full programme throughout the three days of the festival, including celebrity guests, local chefs and industry experts who will provide cooking demonstrations, and share their stories.

Janelle Bloom – 12, 13 & 14 June

Janelle Bloom is one of Australia's most-loved food writers and one of the original chefs on Network Ten's Ready Steady Cook. She will bring the stage to life with demonstrations, communication, information and fun.

Tobie Puttock – Saturday 12 June

International award winning chef Tobie Puttock worked alongside Jamie Oliver in the hit series 'Jamie's Kitchen – Australia' and appeared in the Lifestyle Channel's FOOD TV series 'Tobie and Matt - Europe and Asia'. He will demonstrate some of his favourite recipes and answering questions.

Pete Evans – Monday 14 June

Respected chef Pete Evans starred in this year's hit series, Network Seven's My Kitchen Rules as an expert judge. Pete's Hugos restaurants have won numerous awards, including a coveted Sydney Morning Herald Chefs Hat seven years in a row. 

In addition to celebrity chefs, cocktail flairing and mixology will be a highlight with the Australian Flair Masters.  World champion bartenders from Goldfish Bar in Sydney and Twisted Liquid, plus many more will compete for the Masters title.

A Marketplace will showcase the best fresh produce, gourmet foods, sweet delights and exotic flavours, and the region's most acclaimed boutique wines and beers will be located in the large Beer, Wine & Cocktail Hall.

At Eat Street guests can go on a culinary adventure with a selection of foods including Thai, Japanese, Peruvian, Turkish, Italian and German and then sit and enjoy Flavours of Music from around the world, including Scottish, African, Jazz and more on the Concert Stage.

The Seminar Stage will entertain all day long with interesting facts from masters in cheese making and wine making.  In addition, Hunter Valley Gardens horticultural staff will be showing off their best fresh garden herbs and vegetables – and will be available to give expert advice to those keen to start their own veggie patch at home.

There will also be roaming musicians, clowns, and balloon art sure for the kids… including a jumping castle, face painting, live kid's shows,  and a Batlow Kids In The Kitchen at which they can learn to make their own apple cup cakes (additional fees apply).

Entry to the Gardens is $22.50 per adult and children 16 and older, $12 for children between 4 – 15 years of age with children 3 years and under admitted free.  For further information regarding FlavourFest at Hunter Valley Gardens (Broke Rd, Pokolbin), call 02 4998 4000 or visit