LEG IT TO FIJI
JUST back from annual leave in Fiji, DepartureLounge is walking (nay, make that limping) evidence that holidays can be vexed affairs. At least the dog bite (day 10; left shin) has provided a balance to the broken toe (day two; right foot). During the intervening eight days, Lounge was listing like an overrefreshed sailor, and with little assistance from cocktails of the day.
As we shed stress on our holidays, we often let our guard down, too. I had silly accidents because I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings; the adrenalin and focus that keep me going at work had taken a vacation, too. So many travellers report they get sick on the first few days of their holidays; all those bugs we keep suppressed decide to come out to play once stress and pressure levels subside and our bodies are tricked into thinking we are resting.
That was my experience this time, too. As our flight disembarked at Nadi airport — ukulele bands, bula welcomes by the bucketload and a shower of flower necklaces — I felt queasy and strangely tired, as if I’d flown 40 hours, not four. I slept for two days straight and, when I did emerge into brilliant sunshine, coughed like a seagull and jabbed my toe on a wayward palm tree.
But if one is going to be poorly on holidays, then it may as well be in lovely Fiji. The destination is booming, despite coup fallout and travel advisories. There are splendid deals at almost all resorts and hotels. You couldn’t have fitted as much as a wafer-thin pressure bandage on our Air Pacific flights in either direction; even Likuliku Lagoon Resort, the island property in the Mamanuca group with Fiji’s first overwater bungalows, was reporting 100 per cent occupancy for the first time since its May opening.
There is little sense of any unrest beyond Suva and Lounge predicts the lazy-days destination will boom in 2008. (Tip: pack Band-Aids and sleep masks.)
THE first of the Christmas catalogues from aid organisations have hit Lounge ’ s desk and, while it may be scary to consider just how close we are to festive season madness, it’s not too early to order cards and gifts.
Global justice group New Internationalist has a terrific catalogue, including greeting cards and calendars, DVDs and CDs, and bags and backpacks made from a blend of sustainable hemp and cotton. Thoughtful idea for students: a laminated poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ($25.50). For kids from seven to 14, fun titles from an environmental library ($18.90) dealing with topics such as climate change and waste. www.newint.com.au.
The Oxfam Shop has expanded its range to include more fair-trade produce from developing nations, gorgeous rugs and cushion covers, and handmade jewellery from Peru, Thailand and Nepal, as well as catalogue stalwarts such as toys and Christmas cards. There’s aChristmas AroundtheWorld CD from the Putumayo collection ($33) and, sure winners for the lads, model cars made from recycled aluminium ($24.95) or a jaunty Vespa scooter ($14.95). Gift vouchers are also available on line. www.oxfamshop.org.au.
TO celebrate the second anniversary of Victoria’s Phillip Island Penguin Foundation, the world’s most famous show-budgie, Kylie Minogue, has been named as an ambassador and ‘‘ new penguin parent’’. Cutting through the hype, the core idea here is a great one. Adopt a little penguin or give a sponsorship as a Christmas gift (12 months, $75) and contribute to research and preservation projects. Similar adoption programs operate at Australia’s main zoos; at NSW’s Taronga and Western Plains zoos, for example, sponsorship starts at $85 and the state government matches every $1 with $3. www.penguinfoundation.org.au; www.zoo.nsw.gov.au.
MELBOURNE’S Adelphi Hotel has a fresh new face under the Gabriel Hotels Group banner. This 14-year-old property arguably was Australia’s first designer hotel (everclumsy Lounge suffered certain small industrial accidents there in the mid-1990s, courtesy of sharp coffee-table corners and mysterious metal appendages masquerading as taps and handles). With 34 rooms, the Adelphi still fits the boutique category but there has been a softening of the hard-edged design look. Enter squishy pillow menu, aromatherapy products (including W. S. Badger lavender and rosemary-scented sleep balm), 108cm flatscreen televisions, Bose iPod speakers and delicious in-room tea and coffee from local suppliers Tea Too and Quists.
Even better, a day spa has been opened and the Adelphi’s famous pool suspended over Flinders Lane has been filled with mineral water from natural sources at Hepburn Springs in Victoria’s spa country (no need to drink from the pool; free libations on the deck from 5pm to 7pm on summer week nights). Full marks from Lounge, too, for an organic room-service menu that includes only dishes that can be delivered in stay-warm containers. No more cold club sandwiches and defeated chips, then. www.adelphi.com.au.
FIND of the week: The 202-room Four Seasons Mumbai is taking bookings for rooms from April 2008. The centrally located property sounds like an ideal sanctuary in India’s busiest city and guests can expect views of the Arabian Sea and plenty of this five-star hotel group’s customary flair. Also recently opened is Four Seasons Alexandria in Egypt, with sister hotels in Istanbul, Florence, St Louis (Missouri) and Bora Bora (French Polynesia) soon to roll out the marble. www.fourseasons.com.
LOUNGEloves: According to online higher education service Open Universities, more Australians are enrolling to learn languages before travelling overseas. Units are offered in subjects such as Mandarin, Cantonese, Indonesian, Hindi and Italian, from beginner to advanced levels. Lounge is considering Hindi immersion so she can expertly request anti-inflammatory cream in Sigatoka or Nadi’s finest pharmacies. 1300 363 652.
LOUNGEloathes: Why does Jetstar’s onboard catering offer so many pre-mixed spirits? Why not carry miniatures and mixers instead of cans of rum, bourbon and whisky, all pre-blended with nurserysweet cola? Virgin Blue is guilty of similar cola overload. Stiff cheddar if your mirrorball party days are long gone and you want grown-up soda or ginger ale with your alcohol.
As passengers waited for their luggage off Air Pacific’s flight from Nadi on October 16 at Sydney’s international terminal, Lounge viewed several incidents of carousel rage as big, beefy blokes pushed in front of families waiting to retrieve bags and effectively blocked their view of the circling luggage. Why are there no demarcation lines around the carousels (as there are at immigration counters) and roving etiquette monitors to stop this unseemly push-and-shove? Lounge did score a particularly effective jab at the heels of one of these ill-mannered oafs with her baggage trolley, though.