TREKS AND THE KITTY
IT is true that DepartureLounge does not have a pet, but it has not always been so. Lounge has owned a range of character cats in her time, including the estimable Basil Brush, a ginger tom with a tail as fine as the television-star fox after which he was named. Basil liked to travel by car, mostly on his mistress’s lap, wedged under the steering wheel. Any sudden movement of said wheel that conspired to upset his personal comfort and he would sink his claws into Lounge ’ s thighs and growl like a tiger cub.
Basil enjoyed several clandestine motel stays in his time, smuggled inside and popped under the bedclothes, which was always his preferred sleeping venue. It was very naughty of Lounge to disobey motel health regulations, but in her mind Basil was cleaner than most humans of her acquaintance. He spent an inordinate amount of bedtime, usually between 3am and 6am, meticulously grooming his fluffy coat with his raspy little tongue. The daily routine over, he’d start on Lounge ’ s toes under the bedclothes; it was like having one’s skin lightly sandpapered in readiness for further beautification.
In today’s spa terms, it would be referred to as exfoliation and I would be charged $90 an hour for such services.
Basil died in the 1980s and despite a succession of lovely ginger replacements, none has quite matched his style, fascination with grooming and love of motoring.
HAD he survived, Basil would have been the perfect animal to rent out as a hotel companion. I amreminded of his many fine traits when reading about a new temporarypet initiative from Canada’s Fairmont Hotels. If you are ‘‘ pining for your pooch’’, Fairmont Hotels has introduced a ‘‘ fleet of doggies that you can book online and take for walks if you are a hotel guest’’.
Between walks, the pooches sit in kennels in front of the hotels, ‘‘ keep the doormen company and welcome guests with wagging tails’’. Each of the group’s properties has its resident dog: in Quebec City, Santol is available at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac; at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, it’s golden retriever Mavis and yellow labrador Beau, while at the Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver, Holly, a golden labretriever cross, is on duty.
The four are involved in charity fundraising and responsible dog ownership programs. Each has its own email address and, presumably, is proficient with keyboard and mouse. Basil would turn in his mistress’s bed. www.fairmont.com.
AUTHOR and historian Jan Morris once contended that hotels should provide regular puss-loving guests with a cat of choice. Lounge can imagine the scenario at the front desk: ‘‘ I would like a double room, with a view of the cathedral, and a small abyssinian, please.’’
I doubt that independent-minded felines would be as obedient as hotel dogs. As the old saying goes, ‘‘ Dogs have owners; cats have staff.’’ But more and more properties have cottoned on to the pet idea, even if some have gone for the virtual approach. Many Japanese hotels offer television screensavers showing fish-filled aquariums; perhaps more authentic is the Hotel Monaco in Salt Lake City, Utah, which simply provides a goldfish and bowl to guests who are missing their wet pets. Of course, the program is called Guppy Love.
CHECKING her emails on board a cruise ship recently, Lounge was amazed at the number of people logging on to puppycam to check their pets.
One woman flew into a total panic by Lounge ’ s side, sobbing that her dog must be dead. ‘‘ She hasn’t moved in her bed for 40 minutes . . . it’s not natural.’’ Luckily her husband arrived and explained to her the infinite mysteries of time zones. In Denver, Colorado, it was 2am, well past any selfrespecting puppy’s bedtime.
THE ninth edition of Holidayingwith Dogs (Life Be in It, $24.95) is now out and what a handy digest it is, covering all states and containing scores of listings.
There’s also a cat version ($17.50), which is smaller and has had but two editions, which rather proves that pampered pusses are not that keen on caravan parks and campsites. www.holidayingwithdogs.com.au.
THERE’S been something of a tourism boom on Norfolk Island, with a 22 per cent rise in visitors during the past financial year. More than 34,300 travellers flew in, a rise attributed to the launch of more flights by Qantas code-share partner and islandrun airline, Norfolk Air. About 75 per cent of those visitors in 2006-07 were from Australia and 24 per cent from New Zealand. Norfolk Island Tourism’s general manager, Steve McInnes, says a factor in the success is the debut of soft adventure touring such as kayaking and mountain biking. www.norfolkisland.nf.
TRAVEL surveys seem to be as common as flies at a barbie, but here’s one with a slant. According to TotalTravel.com: ‘‘ Aussie workers would abandon their long weekends in favour of more annual holiday leave.’’ During a four-week period the company conducted an online survey that asked: ‘‘ Would you give up your public holidays to receive an extra two weeks of annual holiday leave?’’ Forty three per cent of respondents came back with a resounding yes. TotalTravel.com global marketing manager Paul Fisher comments, ‘‘ With people leading such busy, pressured lives, it’s no wonder that people want some extra time off to relax and recuperate.’’
Lounge thinks this is bad news for the Australian short-break industry; the long weekend and quick-getaway market is one of the fastest growing in the country. Just look at the number of hotel and resort packages available to lure travellers for a few days of stay-and-play.
FIND of the week: Life Resorts is about to open Villa Hue, Vietnam’s first touristtraining hotel. General director Chris Duffy says: ‘‘ We aim to play a significant role in the development of managers and hotel staff in Vietnam who’ll be equipped to service the burgeoning international market.’’ Good news that the hotel’s general manager is an Australian; Jane Foreman, formerly of the Hyatt Regency Coolum on the Queensland Sunshine Coast, is in charge of the 12-room, four-star training hotel, which will welcome guests from Tuesday. www.life-resorts.com.
LOUNGE loves: The idea of Translucent World, an exhibition of precious Chinese jade from a collection held by Beijing’s Palace Museum. At the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney’s Domain from August 30 to November 11. www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au.
Jo Malone green tea and honey eye cream: a fab boost for dehydrated traveller’s skin and sore eyes. $69 for 15ml at www.fragrancesandcosmetics.com.au.
LOUNGE loathes: The silly promises creeping into spa menus. Lounge does not want to be taken on a drifting journey of meditation, reawakening and self-renewal; she wants a massage.
DEALS OF THE WEEK
AN Egyptian holiday with a free tour — and business-class flights — thrown in; savings apply to visit India’s Rajasthan in style; free accommodation before you walk the Abel Tasman on New Zealand’s South Island; two free nights in Samoa; cheap rail travel for under-35s. These and other moneysaving offers are featured in Travel& Indulgence ’ s holiday deals, updated daily at www.theaustralian.com.au/travel.