SLIP SLIDIN’ AWAY
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.