LIFE OF THE PARTY

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - ASK THE EXPERT DOC HOLIDAY - KIM CULYER

My sis­ters and I are ex­plor­ing meet­ing for our mother’s 80th birth­day in April 2019. There will be 14 of us rang­ing in age from 14 to 80, and we will be trav­el­ling from New Zealand, Aus­tralia and South Africa. We love the idea of hav­ing a big house some­where on the beach.

DOC

You could look at hir­ing a pri­vate villa for your stay, per­haps in Thai­land. You can choose from seafront or seav­iew in ei­ther Phuket or Koh Sa­mui and have pri­vate fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing your own pool, lounge, din­ing, out­door en­ter­tain­ing and kitchen.

Villa ac­com­mo­da­tion is stun­ning and mod­ern and is usu­ally within walk­ing dis­tance of beaches, shops and din­ing. The fa­cil­i­ties pro­vided with each villa tra­di­tion­ally sur­pass any­thing you would find in a ho­tel room and you will also have your own large fridge plus cook­ing fa­cil­i­ties. The kids will love buy­ing some fresh fruit to keep on hand. Some of­fer daily ser­vice and chefs. Thai Villa Es­capes have an ar­ray on of­fer (thaivil­laescapes.com.au).

TIME TO TANGO

My hus­band and I are in Buenos Aires for three nights be­fore an Antarc­tic ex­pe­di­tion and then a cou­ple of nights af­ter. Do you have any sug­ges­tions of ac­tiv­i­ties or tours to do? We are in our 60s and rea­son­ably fit and ac­tive. We would like to have a tango les­son.

DOC

Try to get a tango les­son on the first day or so and you’ll have more time to prac­tise and per­fect your moves. Buenos Aires is full of dance stu­dios (mi­lon­gas), but La Cat­e­dral is one you could try for your first en­counter with this pas­sion­ate dance. This easy-tomiss dance hall at Sarmiento 4006, in the Palermo dis­trict, is per­fect for be­gin­ners. It’s ca­sual, bo­hemian and there’s no dress code. Oth­ers ideal for be­gin­ners are Tango Cool, La Viruta and La Mar­shall.

To see a per­for­mance by ex­perts in the field and get a true feel for the artis­tic na­ture of these moves, try the Esquina Car­los Gardel (es­quinacar­los­gardel.com.ar).

The Palermo area is un­of­fi­cially made of mini neigh­bour­hoods all with their own nick­name, like Palermo Hol­ly­wood, Palermo Soho and Plaza Italia. The ar­eas are eas­ily strolled and full of lively cafes, art, gar­dens and cats. There are loads of in­ter­est­ing things to see as you also wan­der around the cen­tral part of the city, like the Cen­tro Cul­tural Kirch­ner, a for­mer post of­fice cov­er­ing an en­tire city block. Over its eight storeys you will find many art gal­leries, au­di­to­ri­ums and the huge con­cert hall seat­ing more than 1800.

Also around the Plaza de Mayo in the cen­tre, you will see the pink coloured Casa Rosada, the of­fice of the Pres­i­dent. Each week­end, there are free, one-hour, guided tours of the build­ing (note: you will need ID).

The Ce­mente­rio de la Reco­leta in the Bar­rio Norte is def­i­nitely worth a visit. The stat­ues and mar­ble mau­soleums in this ceme­tery are re­mark­able. Free tours in Span­ish are of­fered Tues­day to Fri­day at 11am.

If you’re there on a Sun­day, head to San Telmo to the street mar­ket. The streets are blocked to traf­fic and you’ll find plenty of crafts to buy, de­li­cious foods to sam­ple and lively mu­sic. Or take bus 55 from Palermo to the neigh­bour­hood of Mataderos to take in a tra­di­tional-style folk mar­ket with folk singers, horse­back en­ter­tain­ers and tra­di­tional foods. Also, don’t be afraid to have an af­ter­noon nap then head out again af­ter sun­down when the city re­ally comes alive.

If you’d like to join a tour, Chimu Ad­ven­tures (chimuad­ven­tures.com) have a wide se­lec­tion, in­clud­ing twoand three-night ex­plo­rations. Con­tours (con­tourstravel.com.au) can help you tai­lor-make an itin­er­ary ac­cord­ing to your par­tic­u­lar in­ter­ests, as can the peo­ple at the South Amer­ica Travel Cen­tre (southamer­i­ca­trav­el­cen­tre.com.au).

LOUNGE AC­CESS

My wife and I will travel to Italy and Si­cily soon on QATAR air­lines. We are trav­el­ling econ­omy class and have tran­sits both ways in Doha of sev­eral hours. Is it pos­si­ble to buy ac­cess to a busi­ness lounge to al­low show­er­ing, change of clothes and a bit of quiet time?

DOC

Ha­mad In­ter­na­tional Air­port at Doha does pro­vide ac­cess to lounges for econ­omy-class pas­sen­gers. You have the choice of the Oryx Lounge, the Al Maha or the Air­port Ho­tel.

The Oryx Lounge of­fers a quiet zone, bath­rooms, in­ter­net and food and bev­er­age ser­vices for about $A70 a per­son. The Air­port Ho­tel in­side the air­port has day rooms avail­able for a min­i­mum of five hours. If you’re head­ing to the ho­tel, don’t pass through im­mi­gra­tion and the ho­tel will pro­vide a rate on ap­pli­ca­tion.

Ha­mad Air­port also sup­plies a meet and greet ser­vice by Al Maha Ser­vices (al-ma­haser­vices.com).

You can opt to be met as you land and as­sisted with any for­mal­i­ties be­fore head­ing to one of their lounges or make your own way there. You may like to pre-buy a lounge pass to guar­an­tee you a spot 24 hours in ad­vance for about $100 for three hours, or pay at the door if there’s space avail­able.

As a tip, carry your re­quired toi­letries and medicines in your hand lug­gage as you won’t be able to ac­cess your suit­case while in tran­sit.

TO LOCK OR NOT TO LOCK

I have made sev­eral trips to the US, each time my suit­case has been un­locked and checked. A note is al­ways left.

The last time my lock was bro­ken and taped to a note in­side my case, po­litely telling me not to lock as the US Se­cu­rity has trust­wor­thy staff. My bags go through two Aus­tralian air­ports be­fore the US. My ques­tion is to lock or not to lock?

DOC

I must ad­mit, I like to lock and I now use a TSA (Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion) ap­proved lock.

At least then if my bag is flagged for in­spec­tion, the of­fi­cers will have the right tools to open it with­out dam­age to my bag or the lock.

There are many avail­able in Aus­tralia and they are usu­ally iden­ti­fied by a small red di­a­mond mo­tif on them.

The TSA is not li­able for any dam­age that is caused to locked bags that must be opened for se­cu­rity pur­poses.

PIC­TURES: THAIVIL­LAESCAPES. COM.AU, ISTOCK

Hit Thai­land for a fam­ily gath­er­ing and, in Buenos Aires, visit the Pres­i­dent’s of­fice (be­low).

CASA ROSADA

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