IT has long been a bugbear of DepartureLounge’s that far too many hoteliers and guesthouse and B & B operators see fit to name their properties after the world’s great beauty spots. The message seems to be that, say, Portofino or Ipanema or Malibu are more desirable than where we actually are. Which usually is Mollymook or Maroochydore.
What is wrong with Australian names? And, better still, those of Aboriginal origin. Suburbs around Lounge’s NSW central coast beach-house have names as geographically daffy as Copacabana, Wyoming and Toronto. But things have reached an even sillier state in Queensland.
Across Lounge ’ s desk has come what appears to be a fantastic offer: guests who book four nights in a one-bedroom apartment in the Maldives — from a budgetfriendly $144 an apartment a night — pay for just three nights. That is amazing value for this luxe Indian Ocean destination and Lounge was about to pack her sarong and snorkel until she read a little further. Oh, it is the BreakFree Maldives at Main Beach on the Queensland Gold Coast. Oh, that Maldives; silly old Lounge.
What madness is this? BreakFree also has Copacabana, St Tropez, the Caribbean and Morocco in its accommodation portfolio, and all without stepping foot in Brazil, France, the West Indies or North Africa. Of course this hotel company is not the only culprit; all around us at holiday spots are names that smack resoundingly of escape and marketing gurus have always seen the value in spinning dreams.
I would adore to get the fabulous Ruth Watson of TheHotelInspector (LifeStyle Channel, Mondays at 8.30pm) to sweep in and dispense with all the stucco, wroughtiron and faux-Moroccan trimmings that I feel sure are involved. ‘‘ Are they completely insane?’’ she would growl, with her trademark despairing eyes and scrunchedup nose. Still, none of this transplantation is as bad, perhaps, as hotels, resorts and apartment blocks with owners who have sought their carefree branding inspiration from no further afield than suntan lotions and tampon manufacturers.
IT’S been a buoyant season for the local ski industry with visitor numbers to the Australian Alps the third highest on record and up almost 17 per cent overall on 2006 figures. This year’s good snow conditions attracted a total of 2,034,000 so-called ‘‘ skier days’’, which is the international measure of snow resort performance; one skier day equates to the purchase of a day lift pass. According to the Australian Ski Areas Association, this figure represents an increase of 2.6 per cent above the 10-year average.
Victorian figures have been particularly good this year and Hotham Alpine Resort has further reason to celebrate. It has been awarded Australia’s leading ski resort for the second consecutive year at the 2007 World Travel Awards, which are decided by 167,000 travel agencies, tourism operators and transport companies in more than 160 countries. Hotham reports there’s no need to wait until winter to help celebrate: scenic chairlift rides will be available December 29-January 6 and over Easter while its Cool Summer Festival will take place in March. www.hotham.com.au. ■ HERE’S a feel-good Christmas gift idea. Karma Currency suggests a tax-deductible charity or environmental agency gift voucher. Recipients then donate to their selected cause on Karma Currency’s website, which lists organisations such as World Vision, Care Australia, Australian Conservation Foundation and Plan. www.karmacurrency.com.au ■ WHAT’S new in travel? Flight Centre’s general manager marketing Colin Bowman says the company has identified trends this year such as individualised travel, short breaks, babymoons and responsible tourism. He says the travel industry is ‘‘ seeing people spending more money on life-enriching experiences, from the energetic to the personally fulfilling’’. This translates into more ‘‘ me time’’, as witnessed by the worldwide spa tourism boom.
In the realms of responsible travel, Bowman points out that ‘‘ agents, airlines, hotels and car hire companies now offer travellers the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions from their holiday. Travellers are researching hotel and tour operator policies for the more eco-friendly options’’.
In one of our first issues in 2008, Travel&Indulgence will do a full analysis of tourism trends and predictions of the year’s must-go spots. It won’t take one of Lounge’s old crystal balls to identify the clear leaders, though. Fiji, Vietnam and India are hot, hot, hot. ■ FIND of the week: Lounge, who is just back from the new Qualia on Queensland’s Hamilton Island, is mad about the Teadrop ‘‘ silken pyramid teabags’’ range included in each guest pavilion’s tea and coffee making set-up. This clever Melbourne company produces divine teabag blends such as lavender grey and honeydew green plus a range of fragrant leaf teas. www.teadrop.com.au. ■ LOUNGE loves: Select Hotels is celebrating three wins in TheAustralian 2007 Travel & Tourism Awards by including a bottle of French champagne with all bookings until December 23. Chris Hartley of The Lodge at Tarraleah in Tasmania, winner of the best lodge accommodation category, says the offer is ‘‘ to help prolong the celebration’’. Select’s other two successes were Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa in NSW, which took honours for best luxury accommodation, and Kims Beach Hideaway at Toowoon Bay on the NSW central coast, winner of best hosted accommodation. (02) 8968 2777 or 1300 368 925; www.selecthotels.com.
Visit Britain has launched a Britain Rocks campaign with a map and liftout guide featuring music trails, famous musical haunts (including Liverpool’s Cavern Club, birthplace of the Beatles, which celebrated its 50th birthday this year), and details of festivals, birthplaces of the greats and best venues. www.visitbritain.com.au/music. ■ LOUNGE loathes: The fact that federal governments of both stripes have never seen fit to bestow tourism with a standalone portfolio. Outgoing minister Fran Bailey was also in charge of small business; no doubt there is synergy between the two but the tourism industry surely is sufficiently important and lucrative to warrant its own ministry. At time of writing, Martin Ferguson had just been announced as minister for resources, energy and, almost as an afterthought, tourism. The Tourism Forecasting Committee says the contribution of tourism to the Australian economy is set to increase from $84 billion in 2006 to just over $100 billion in 2016.
State governments are no better when it comes to this portfolio. Some bracket tourism with racing and gaming; in Queensland, where tourism is king, minister Desley Boyle represents regional development and industry as well as tourism. In NSW, it’s even nuttier: Sandra Nori is minister for tourism, sport, recreation and, like a Pythonesque postscript of the silly walks ilk, women.
It’s just not good enough. These and other money-saving offers are featured in Travel&Indulgence ’ s holiday deals, updated daily, which can be found via our upgraded and direct link. ■ www.theaustralian.com.au/travel/dd DEALS OF THE WEEK World Expeditions cuts the price of adventure holidays; 12 of the best at Sydney’s Darling Harbour; free nights in Fiji; wave goodbye to the QE2 in style.