Sounds familiar? You call an airline these days and you get the spin, “Please wait, your call is important to us”. Well if it is that important, surely they would increase the staff level and actually show that they are serious about service.
To show you an example, Thursday last week I rang Gulf Air in Australia and was put on hold for 48 minutes! As a travel agent we never call the airlines but in this case we had to as they had cancelled some of their services for which we had booked some clients in First Class. Anyway, we got the booking amended and Gulf promised to send a fax confirming the flight. It never happended.
So on Friday I rang them up again at 1602, waited until 1708 when they hung up. They close at 1700. Sorry old chap! So I rang their reservations in Bahrain. They advised they could only put a note in the booking but all transactions had to be done by their Australia office.
I sent emails to Gulf, I’ve left messages and today, Monday I called them at 1458 and at the time of writing this, 1620 I’m still waiting!!
This is the worst service I’ve ever come across in my 50 years in the travel business so what do you think I’d do if a client expessed a wish to travel Gulf Air? You are right, I will never recommend this airline to anybody. Their inflight service might be great, the in flight for the kids is a good idea, and the chef is cooking up some fine food but, this does not help the airline if they can’t provide any ground service.
So, thumbs down for Gulf Air and may I never have anything to do with them again.
As a travel agent I get many enquiries about travel in Australia, what to do, what you should include etc. Many are not aware of the great distances involved like Sydney to Melbourne is 1000k, Sydney to Cairns 3000k etc. Recently I had an enquiry from a group who wanted to do Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne-Adelaide-Ayers Rock-Darwin in 8 days with a lot of sightseeing included. You would probably not remember a thing from this trip if you went ahead.
If you have 12 days or more you can quite comfortably visit Melbourne,Ayers Rock,Alice Springs,Cairns and Sydney. Whilst you do the travel between the cities on your own all tours etc. are fully guided. You can also add to these tours or change them as you like. Go to http://www.australiantravel.us/_mgxroot/page_10742.html for details on this one. A similar tour which also includes New Zealand can be found on the same page.
Stress-Free Breaks in Australia are becoming more popular. Take a couple of days off and relax or include it in your Australian itinerary. http://www.australiantravel.us/_mgxroot/page_10782.html
The Australian Outback. Here, too, you can experience the power of sacred, silent places, places that have a special niche in our heritage, places like Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) or the Daintree Rainforest. Join us on any of the trips on offer, and go home fulfilled, ready to face the everyday world renewed. http://www.voyages.com.au/infolink/ayers/?773
One of the best trips up at the Daintree and Cape Tribulation World Heritage areas is a one day Bush Safari. Lush farmland contrasts with seascape as we approach the majestic Daintree River. Time for a short morning tea break then its ‘all aboard’ for an informative river cruise. Relax and enjoy the splendour only the Daintree can offer as you learn of Estuarine Crocodiles, mangrove forests and wildlife, this is nature at its best!We ascend the Alexandra Range and pause for a panoramic view of World Heritage Tropical Rainforest merging with the azure colours of the Coral Sea. Experience the rainforest intimately on our elevated National Park Boardwalk. Accurate interpretations of flora and fauna will be given with ample time for photographs and questions as we search for the elusive, rare and totally unique Southern Cassowary and other wildlife species within this particular habitat.
A delicious barbecue lunch with freshly prepared salads is served while you have the opportunity to hand feed a kangaroo and enjoy a cold drink from the bar.
Our tour does a little more. It takes us beyond Cape Tribulation along the 4WD Bloomfield Track to pristine Emmagen Creek and time for a refreshing rainforest stream swim. Seek fish and turtles in the creek, butterflies and exotic birds in the trees and indulge in a feast of tropical fruit, a complimentary glass of wine and a cup of traditional Billy Tea, all of which enhance the tranquil surroundings At Cape Tribulation Beach there is a little time to swim in the Coral Sea (seasonal) or stroll alond the beach and boardwalk to the photographers’ platform overlooking the mountains and coast where the ‘Rainforest meets the Reef’..
After a short afternoon refreshment stop, we cross the Daintree River by cable ferry and begin our homeward journey somewhat wiser for our ‘Total Rainforest Experience’
For each booking they will give away the Australian Crystal Wine Glass. This glass with a unique Australian design is hand cut by master craftsmen and suitable both to red and white wine or could be used as a water goblet. If there are two or three or more in your party each individual will of course get a glass retailing at $ 49.00.
And, you don’t have to carry it with you. It will be mailed to your home address waiting for your return with some bottles of Australian wine.
Have a look at the glass at http://www.giftsfromaus.com/_mgxroot/page_10766.html
Some people fly from A to B on JetStar and that’s no problem. The problem is if you are flying to the Gold Coast, Coolangatta airport.
The problem is mainly if you need to travel via B to get to C. Say for example you are flying from Hobart to Brisbane. If you fly with Virgin Blue, they would check your baggage straight to Brisbane, of course!
You fly with JetStar and you might be under pressure to meet their strict check-in rule. If you haven’t checked in 30 minutes before the flight departs, you’re out. That’s it. You missed your train, good bye! If you did check-in in time you will find that your baggage has gone to Melbourne only, you have to go to the baggage arrival carousel, claim your baggage and return to the depature hall and check in again, this time to Brisbane What a service ! This also applies to numerous sectors like Perth to the Gold Coast via Sydney (claim your baggage and check in again)
So anything involving a domestic transfer in Australia I would suggest you are better off using VirginBlue Airlines who will check your baggage straight through to your final destination and that’s what we expect from an airline.
Also, being 185cm tall I found the leg room unsatisfactory. Having an aisle seat I could stretch my left leg a big now and then but being in the middle or window-seat you have to endure. However most flights are around an hour.
An important warning for all travellers dparting from
Perth, Western Australia.
We recently visited
Perth, W.A. and thoroughly enjoyed it’s variety of attractions.
If you are planning to include Perth on your travel I would suggest you do the following;
Valley river cruise with Oceanic Cruises or Captain Cook cruises. This is a most relaxing trip up
Guildford and beyond and then you continue by private coach to visit a couple of wineries and have lunch. The one we did was with Oceanic which included a visit to Chesters winery where we had a good lunch and had time to taste some of their wines. The surrounds at Chesters is the least attractive part of the trip, it looks like a demolition site and something should be done about it after all, a winery should give that welcome, perhaps a bit of luxury-feeling. Should it not? We continued to Houghton Winery afterwards and that met all expectations. Beautiful surrounding, great tasting room and a very smart café set in rustic style.
The second trip we did was up the river to Fremantle, a charming town on the coast. I suggest you go on the 1 your tram trip on arrival which gives you an insight to the history of this town and afterwards we had time to walk around on our own before the boat returned in the afternoon.
For lunch in Fremantle I suggest the Little Creatures Brewery and if you like beer try their Pale Ale. Glorious !
Did I mention a warning? Writing about the tours we did I almost forgot one important point which I feel you should know.
We pre ordered a taxi from Swan Taxis for 04:45 on the 13th November as we had a flight to
Sydney at 05:50. I’ll make a very very long story short. We missed the flight.
Swan Taxi, at 04:15 told me they do not take pre bookings in the morning! Nobody told us the night before when we made the reservation. We rang them at least 10 times between 04:45 and 04:15 and there was absolutely no compassion, no service, no excuses, in other words they were totally indifferent to our plight and to top if off when the cab eventually arrived at 04:27 (which of course was too late to make the airport in time) they had not even informed the driver that we were in a hurry. It was only when we told him of the extremely bad service from Swan Taxis that he “stepped on it” but to no avail.
So my suggestion is this. If you are booked out of Perth on an early morning flight between 0500 and 0700 DO NOT take a chance on Swan taxi Prebook the shuttle service which are guaranteed to pick you up.
Recently some new hotels have added to the attraction of a holiday in Northern New South Wales, Australia and for you, looking for a 4-5 star holiday resort by the beach don’t go past The Outrigger at the Salt and The Peppers at Salt. They are located just south of the small town of Kingscliff which in turn is just a short drive from the airport of Coolangatta, just across the border in Queensland. A couple of days to rejuvenate, a whole week to relax, this is the place !
Starting with the accommodation; Outrigger on the Beach has fully furnished deluxe hotel rooms, and 1 and 2 bedroom suites, immersed in the natural surroundings of this coastal retreat. All accommodation is spacious and tastefully decorated with modern furnishings. Hotel suites are serviced daily while the 1 and 2 bedroom apartments are fully self contained offering dishwasher, stovetop/oven, microwave and all utensils. Many rooms at Outrigger on the Beach at Salt have ocean views.
The surrounding planned resort community of Salt is designed for leisure pursuits. Walking and cycling paths meander around grassy parks and well-tended gardens. Take the family canoeing and fishing in Cudgen Creek, or surfing and sunning on the endless beach. Salt Village Centre offers shops, restaurants and the Golden Door Spa. Relax by the lagoon pool or enjoy a family barbecue. You can do as much or as little as you like at Outrigger on the Beach at Salt.
Peppers Salt Resort & Spa next to the Outrigger offers beautifully decorated, hotel rooms and self-contained suites, from one to three bedrooms, moments from South Kingscliff Ocean beach – one kilometre of stunning ocean frontage. A Golden Door health spa, restaurants, bars, family activities and all the facilities of Salt Village are just a short stroll away.
Here are some recent reviews;
“The recently opened Peppers Salt Resort & Spa combines the seaside-village charm of Northern NSW with all the luxuries you’d expect from one of Australia’s leading resorts. A Golden Door Health Spa offers massage and beauty treatments. One of the highlights is Roughie’s Restaurant & Bar: fine dining, a gourmet menu and elegantly styled décor ensures an enjoyable, relaxed experience”
Australian Traveller, July issue 2006
“The beach house I stayed in for 24 blissful hours now comes almost at the top of my coastal holiday list. The beach houses are pure understated elegance. Big beds, plasma television and luxurious leather loungers are standard, and my spa suite also had a private rooftop with its own bath-tub spa, sun lounges and space for a barbecue. Once inside Peppers, soak up the delights, and pretend the rest of the world is far away”
Sunday Mail, 5th February, 2006
“Kingscliff is also a popular spot for culinary delights, and their latest venue to open, Roughie’s Restaurant & Bar at Peppers Salt Resort, is no exception. Chef Michael Jenkins new menu features fresh local produce with dishes including ocean trout gravlax, tempura-battered zucchini flowers and peppered duck breast”
The Courier Mail, 4th March, 2006
“Hot off the press as far as Australia goes is Peppers Salt Resort & Spa, a fantastic new beachside property at Kingscliff, in northern NSW. The 343 room resort, 15 minutes from the Gold Coast, combines seaside-village charm with plenty of luxury.”
Sunday Telegraph, 11 December 2005
So having settled the accommodation side of things what else to do in the area and here are some worthwhile ideas. Rent a car on arrival at the airport unless you plan just to hang out around the hotel.
The whole country side is ideal for day trips with picturesque villages like Uki, Chillingham,Stokers Siding and towns like Murwillumbah, Mullumbimby, Bangalow and Byron Bay easily reached within a short time.
For the golfer, Coolangatta Golf Club has two excellent 18 hole courses and is only 30 minutes away and, of course The Gold Coast which is about 45 minutes by car offers some of Australia’s best resort golf.
I would suggest that you contact firstname.lastname@example.org who is an upmarket travel specialist and knows the area well. Whether you are coming for a weekend or an extended family holiday she is the one to talk to.
If you are motoring in Australia and like to mingle with the local crowds at lunch and dinner time there is no better way than having a meal at one of the clubs. In every city or town, more or less, there is an RSL club ( Returned & Services League of Australia) whose main function is to look after war veterans. Or there is the local Bowling club or Football club and Golf club and in most cases you can get a very decent lunch or dinner here as well as drinks like beer, wine and spirits at a reasonable price.
You meet the locals, you eat what they eat, you can have a spin at the pokies, watch the horse races and put a dollar or two on the TAB .
Some of them are small versions, very small versions of Las Vegas casinos offering good meals and entertainment at a reasonable cost.
So you are driving between A – B and need a toilet? No problem if you have a computer. Go to our website at http://www.australiantravel.us/_mgxroot/page_10755.html and click at the “public toilet” logo at the bottom of the page. Save the image and put in a hyperlink.
We drive on the left hand side in Australia and most cities,towns and villages has a 50km/hour speed limit in the central part. On the roads its mostly 70-80 and motorways 100-110 km/hour. Try to avoid traffic between 0730-0900 and 1530-1730 in the cities when everyone is going/leaving work.
Petrol prices varies from day to day, sometimes the difference can be up to 10 cents from one day to the other. Today, 23rd August the price is about $ 1.30/litre.
Ideas for self-drive itineraries can be found at http://www.australiantravel.us/_mgxroot/page_10765.html
A final notice. There are speed traps, radar cameras all over Australia so keep an eye out for the police. This is a great fundraising for them so don’t get caught. Many radio stations advise where the current traps are so listen to the local radio. However, if you stick to the speed limits you have nothing to fear and you can keep your money.
Your overseas driving license is OK in Australia but don’t forget to take out an insurance.
The Indian Pacific Route: Sydney – Adelaide – Perth
Duration: 3 nights in either direction
Distance: 4352 kilometres
The Indian Pacific gives you two oceans on one of the world’s longest and greatest train journeys. But most of your cruising will be across the vast continent of Australia. From the spectacular Blue Mountains to the treeless plains of The Nullarbor, where the train travels the world’s longest straight stretch of railway track (478 kilometres), see unique landscapes unfold and spot a fascinating array of wildlife from the comfort of the lounge or your cabin. For the ultimate great train experience on the Indian Pacific, organise a party of family or friends to travel in one of our stylish, self contained carriages, The Chairman’s Carriage. Accommodates up to 8 guests2 double bedrooms sharing 2-way bathroom and 2 Twin Cabins with adjacent bathroom facilitiesGenerous lounge with CD player, DVD and video entertainmentPrivate dining roomFully equipped kitchenGuests dine in the Gold Kangaroo Restaurant at no extra costDine in The Chairman’s Car dining room with meals prepared by your own dedicated chef (extra cost)Private charters can be arranged from Sydney, Adelaide or PerthFares (valid to 31.3.07) for One-Way Hire. Sydney to Adelaide or v.v. AUD 6160.00 Adelaide to Perth or v.v. AUD 12720.00
Sydney to Perth or v.v. AUD 17120.00
For more ideas on train travel in Australia, we also have The Ghan from Adelide to Alice Springs and onto Darwin as well as some regional exciting trains, please go to http://www.australiantravel.us/_mgxroot/page_10777.html