Monday, 24 September 2012

Hawaii Themes - SeaDream - GraysOnline Travel - Hong Kong - Niseko Ski


with David Ellis


EVERYONE needs a backpack or carry bag – children, teens and adults alike – be it for the gym, travelling, sports, childcare, a sleepover or to carry those extra things to work.

But when you're not using it, it can take up space and create clutter you just don't need.

Now Queensland-based EnviroTrend has come up with the ultimate compact solution, an "Hawaiian Collection" of eco-wise backpacks and carry bags released in time for summer.

The PAKItToMe™ Backpacks are totally compact in size (no bigger than a snack size packet of crisps,) but fold-out into a generously sized backpack with adjustable straps, 2 side pockets for phone or drink bottle, and a pocket at the front with a keychain to safely attach your keys to the inside. It's easy to stuff back inside itself, lightweight yet sturdy enough to carry up to 8kg, and big enough to fit a laptop or A4 folder. This ingenious backpack comes in a variety of prints in addition to the new Hawaiian collection and costs just $15.99, so is an ideal bag for yourself or as a gift.

Also available is a SAKItToMe™ shopping bag – a durable, compact polyester bag perfect for school, the beach or shopping, and which holds up to 20kg. With a sewn in pocket, metal key ring (so you don't lose it) and various colourful designs, it's a great choice in compact bags and an essential shopping companion.

Queensland entrepreneur and busy mum, Janina Byrne combined her environmental conscience and a love of practical products to form EnviroTrend, the company that produces the PAKItToMe™ and SAKitToMe™ collections. Visit for more information and photos of both products.


SEADREAM Yacht Club is to add a unique culinary touch whenever Australian guests are aboard – it will make its own olive oil spread as an alternative to butter.

"We've had a lot of Australian guests mention that they prefer olive oil spread as a healthy alternative to butter or other spreads, but as its not widely available commercially in the regions in which we sail, our Executive Chef, Sudesh Kishore came up with the idea of our chefs making our own aboard whenever we have Australians sailing with us," said SeaDream Yacht Club's President, Bob Lepisto.

"And if it becomes popular with our other guests who are also conscious of the high fat content of butter and some other spreads, and which we think it may, we'll look at providing it aboard all our sailings.

"We already have 'Wellness Selections' available on our menus that are lower in fats and carbohydrates, we have sugar-free options and we are the only company at sea offering optional "Raw Cuisine" that is a style of preparation in which all ingredients are raw, organic and vegan.

"So offering olive oil spread is simply an extension of our commitment to provide our guests with the dining they desire: if you want a big filet mignon followed by double chocolate mousse, by all means go ahead and order and enjoy it, but if you feel you should be good rather than naughty at the table one night, we've all the options to help you there too," Mr Lepisto said.

For further information about SeaDream Yacht Club's itineraries and onboard offerings on mega motor-cruiser yachts SeaDream I and SeaDream II in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the Amazon, visit or see travel agents.

(This month the Berlitz Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships once again rated the 112-guest SeaDream I and SeaDream II as the world's Top Two in its 'Boutique Ships' category (50 - 250 passengers) for 2013.

The Guide, now in its 28th year, is researched and written by Douglas Ward, the world's top authority on cruising and cruise ships. He reviewed 284 cruise ships for the 2013 Guide, and out of a possible 2000 points gave SeaDream II 1,788 points and SeaDream I  1,786 points.)


AUSTRALIANS bedded down by mounting cost of living and travel expenses will be able to haggle with hotels for cheaper rates following the launch this month of a unique new accommodation website – – unveiled by Australia's largest online auction house, GraysOnline.

The world-unique site promises a win-win for Australian and New Zealand hotels and their guests, with hoteliers able to fill empty rooms via controlled discounting, and travellers able to score exclusive and confidential discounts of up to 20 per cent below already reduced rates by negotiating directly with the property.

GraysOnline CEO, Cameron Poolman said: "Our local travel industry is hurting so this exciting and innovative way to put more bods in beds by allowing hotels and consumers to bargain with each other one-on-one via a website, will really help accommodation and tourism providers and also everyday Australians saddled with the rising cost of living.

"Australians are often embarrassed to haggle, even in places where it is prevalent such as Asia, but on scores of hotels across Australia and New Zealand are now open to offers," he said.

GraysOnline will offer a range of accommodation from luxury hotels and resorts to motels, B&Bs, holiday parks and hostels, and will include such major groups as Rydges, Toga, Oaks, 8 Hotels, Best Western, Stamford Hotels, Golden Chain, Chifley Hotels, Country Comfort, Choice Hotels and Leisure Inns.




WENDY Wu Tours has teamed with the Hong Kong Tourism Board for a special hotel and sightseeing package focusing on the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival in November, which is ideal for Australian travellers looking for a short getaway or for a stopover on the way to China.

The "Hong Kong in Focus" package is priced from $525 per person twin share. The four-day land only package  includes two days of comprehensive sight-seeing to Victoria Peak, Stanley Markets, Aberdeen fishing village, the Yuen Yuen Institute and the Sam Mun Tsai Fish Farming Zone.

It also includes three nights' accommodation at the Eaton Smart Hotel with breakfast daily, sightseeing with an English-speaking local guide and return airport transfers.

The Wine and Dine month kicks off with the Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival from November 1-4 where you can sample wine and culinary delights with plenty of live music and entertainment along the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade.

During November many of the major hotels and popular food districts offer various wine and food promotions including exclusive hotel food and wine offers, themed tours, wine appreciation classes, cooking classes by masterchefs and much more.

The offer is for new bookings and is valid for sale until October 31 for travel in the month of November.

For further details on packages contact Wendy Wu Tours on 1300-727-998, visit or contact your AFTA travel agent. For more details on Hong Kong visit


NISEKO on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido has a well-deserved reputation for its powder skiing and boarding – for over two decades Australian snow enthusiasts have ventured to this resort to enjoy snow conditions that they say they cannot find at home.

And current bookings for this season are already well up on previous years. says a combination of high quality accommodation, well-priced airfares and a favourable exchange rate (to the Japanese Yen) is proving a winning trifecta for Niseko, which also enjoys continuous top-ups of fresh powder snow from late November until March... last winter over 21 metres was recorded. has a seven night package that includes a stay-seven pay-five nights from $1,110 per person, including two bedroom apartment (quad share) in Yuki Yama Apartments, return airport coach transfers, Meet and Greet at Chitose Airport, and a 6-day All Mountain Lift Pass.

It is valid for stays from 1 – 31 March 2013.

Getting there: provides door to door transfer service from Chitose Airport. Travel time to Niseko resort is approximately two hours. A number of airlines from Australia service Chitose Airport in Hokkaido with options including flights via Tokyo, Hong Kong or Seoul with Japan Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Korean Airlines

For more details call on 1300 137 411 or visit