SLIP SLIDIN’ AWAY

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel - Susan Kuro­sawa

IT is true Depar­tureLounge is not ter­ri­bly adept at be­ing in the great out­doors. But given the Canada and Alaska theme this week, it seems op­por­tune to rem­i­nisce about Lounge’s air­ing in the Buga­boo Moun­tains in the West­ern Rock­ies.

I think it was the name that did it; Lounge could not re­sist the idea of boast­ing to all and sundry, in Lady Brack­nell fash­ion, that she had been abroad in the Buga­boos. All a bit akin to those lines about the so­cial­climb­ing set visit­ing the Aber­dares and other such scenic won­ders. ‘‘ Did you see the Three Sis­ters?’’ one might in­quire of a re­turned trav­eller. ‘‘ See them? I had din­ner with them.’’

So off Lounge went on a Cana­dian he­liski­ing hol­i­day, padded with so many squar­ish lay­ers of cloth­ing she re­sem­bled a bouncy cas­tle. Each morn­ing our small group was de­posited by he­li­copter on a for­bid­ding peak and off we would walk — or crunch, at least — through the snowy vast­ness un­til the chop­per reap­peared to whisk us off to an­other sec­tion of the moun­tain. Be­tween all this ac­tiv­ity there was comfy ac­com­mo­da­tion and ca­ma­raderie and dry­ing-out of ther­mal smalls at the alpine Buga­boo Lodge.

Lounge fared sur­pris­ingly well un­til the last morn­ing when it was an­nounced we would go snow-slid­ing. This was a kind of to­bog­gan­ing, a prac­tice much loved by Lounge dur­ing her Sur­rey girl­hood; she would cat­a­pult down snowy Box Hill and pitch up in the sting­ing net­tles at the bot­tom of her West Hum­ble gar­den. Lounge ’ s mother kept a bot­tle of calamine lo­tion in her apron pocket at all times and took to hid­ing the tea-tray (upon which lit­tle Lounge’s teddy bears would have a to­bog­gan out­ing, too).

The snow slid­ing would have gone well enough, even with­out any ev­i­dence of equip­ment or for­ti­fy­ing brandy, if Lounge had not dis­obeyed the tour guide and cho­sen her own piece of moun­tain, away from the group. There was a snowed-un­der ledge and a rather big drop, as it turned out, and some­where on this planet there is pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence of Lounge launched into mid-air, gamely clutch­ing her spi­ral­bound note­book. The guide chose that day to tell us buga­boo means ‘‘ a kind of vex­a­tion or cause of anx­i­ety’’ and looked the bruised Lounge square in the eye as he did so.

All this aside, the heli-ski­ing was, per­haps, the most adrenalin-charged ad­ven­ture ever un­der­taken by Lounge and it’s good to see heli-hik­ing trips are still on of­fer from Tauck Tours. Just be sure to fol­low in­struc­tions. www.tauck.com.

MEAN­WHILE, the Aus­tralian ski sea­son looks to be a bumper one. NSW’s Per­isher Blue says Syd­neysiders should stop grump­ing about freez­ing win­ter temps. Down in the Snowy Moun­tains, overnights are down to mi­nus 12C but, with at­ten­dant snow­storms, all those skiers and snow­board­ers should be happy bun­nies in­deed. Ac­cord­ing to long-range fore­casts (www.snowatch.com.au), the pat­tern of good, dry snow should con­tinue and there are July specials still avail­able at a range of re­sorts. More: Per­isher Blue Snow Hol­i­days, 1300 655 822.

IF it’s Tues­day it must be Switzer­land. Hang on, make that China. Lounge is en­thralled by the sound of a re­sort open­ing next week that is ‘‘ mod­elled on the Swiss alpine vil­lage of In­ter­laken’’. Lo­cated at Shen­zhen, across the main­land China border from Hong Kong, the nov­elty prop­erty, OCT East, is a ‘‘ pic­turesque trib­ute to the en­chant­ing tourist des­ti­na­tion (of In­ter­laken)’’.

The cross-cul­tural bat­ti­ness doesn’t end with ginger­bread houses and cow­bells; there’s a lobby lounge ‘‘ re­sem­bling a me­dieval Euro­pean cathe­dral’’, Ja­panese restau­rant and sake bar, Tus­can-style gar­den restau­rant serv­ing Ital­ian fare, and a ‘‘ Vi­en­nese-style’’ ball­room. This is the global vil­lage gone amok and such a mad pas­tiche would have a more nat­u­ral home at Hong Kong Dis­ney­land. www.in­ter­lakenoc­tho­tel.com.

AC­CORD­ING to a re­port in the daily in­dus­try bul­letin e-Turbo News, US air­ports are tak­ing mea­sures to speed up se­cu­rity lines. A new scheme, Reg­is­tered Trav­ellers, is be­ing tested in six air­ports and could go na­tional next year. It costs a once-only fee of $US100 ($114) to reg­is­ter, which in­cludes a back­ground check and bio­met­ric iris scan. It’s es­ti­mated pas­sen­gers in Reg­is­tered Trav­ellers lanes could be pro­cessed three times faster than those be­drag­gled be­ings in nor­mal se­cu­rity lines. ■ LOUNGE loves: Aus­tralian cou­ple Leon and Jill Kam­mer have set up a ter­rific ac­com­mo­da­tion busi­ness in Italy. They have myr­iad prop­er­ties on of­fer, in­clud­ing four apart­ments within cooee of Rome’s Span­ish Steps. Prices look very rea­son­able; the well-equipped one-bed­room Apart­ment Verdi costs from j186 ($293) for two, which is a mirac­u­lous bar­gain in cen­tral Rome. www.italy-ac­com.com.

Visit­ing the Kims web­site this week, Lounge was re­minded of this NSW cen­tral coast hideaway’s long fam­ily his­tory and loyal staff. ‘‘ We cur­rently have seven team mem­bers who have been with us for over 20 years, and a fur­ther nine who have been with us for over 10 years,’’ say own­ers Andrew and Mary­jane Stra­chan on the web­site post­ing. There’s a win­ter spe­cial (to Au­gust 31) from $184 a per­son (Sun­day to Thurs­day nights), meals in­cluded. There’s also a deal of­fer­ing a third night on the house for two nights booked. www.kims.com.au. ■ LOUNGE loathes: Travel ad­ver­tis­ing that doesn’t spell out ex­actly what’s in­cluded; many of­fers look like great deals un­til you get out the mag­ni­fy­ing glass to in­spect that dev­il­ish fine print and dis­cover the air fare is one-way or con­tent is ground-only.

Plas­tic sham­poo and con­di­tioner bot­tles in ho­tel bath­rooms with tiny let­ter­ing; most of us who wear glasses leave them be­hind when we en­ter the shower and that’s where the con­fu­sion oc­curs. One of the worst of­fend­ers is Aveda, a com­pany that makes divine prod­ucts, but its var­i­ous la­bels are in­dis­tin­guish­able. Lounge has even tried to wash her hair with body lo­tion, a buga­boo in­deed. ■ GIVE­AWAY: Aus­tralia-based travel writer Matthew Brace has penned a book, Ho­tel Heaven:Con­fes­sion­so­faLux­u­ryHo­tel Ad­dict (Ran­dom House, $24.95), about his favourite ac­com­mo­da­tion around the world, all of it fab­u­lous, al­though some­times his stays don’t go en­tirely as man­age­ment would hope.

We have 10 copies of this pa­per­back to give away to read­ers. On the back of an en­ve­lope, tell us in 25 words or less which is your favourite five-star ho­tel and why. In­clude your name and ad­dress and send to: Ho­tel Heaven Give­away, PO Box 215, East­ern Sub­urbs MC, NSW 2004. DEALS OF THE WEEK Save with Club Med’s pack­ages at its new Mau­ri­tius re­sort; ev­ery sec­ond night free in Fiji; watch whales at Queens­land’s Her­vey Bay on a value-for-money ho­tel-and-cruise deal; cash in on a Gold Coast spe­cial at up-mar­ket Palazzo Ver­sace; drive a bar­gain mo­torhome. Th­ese of­fers and a range of Canada specials are fea­tured in Travel& In­dul­gence ’ s hol­i­day deals, up­dated daily at www.theaus­tralian.com.au/travel.

Il­lus­tra­tion: John Tiede­mann

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