Mix and dispatch
LENDED families and step-families are proving a lucrative new market for holiday operators. Specialist agency Travel with Kidz says such non-conventional units account for the fastest growing family type in Australia (up 50 per cent during the past decade). The team at Travel with Kidz reckons it has short-listed the world’s best experiences ‘‘ that address the various demands of blended families, offering a range of diverse interests while providing a focus of enjoyment for the family as a whole’’.
General manager Lise Angus and partner Jim Fanning took their blended family on their first holiday together in Vietnam.
Between them, Angus and Fanning have five children, from 14 to 21, ‘‘ all with varying degrees of fitness and interest in travel and Asian culture . . . The only thing they have in common is a slight resistance to the concept of sharing time together and a dependence on their iPods’’.
The Vietnam trip, in a group of 16 organised by World Expeditions, was a cycling holiday along a route via remote villages, away from the obvious tourist attractions. The trip apparently was a great success because a flexible program gave all the participants a degree of freedom to set their own pace. ‘‘ Everyone was so blown away by the scenery, the culture and the people that the iPods only got an occasional look-in,’’ Angus says. Travel with Kidz, 1300 729 541; www.travelwithkidz.com.au.
DEPARTURELounge looks forward to being a grandmother one day, although her two 30-something sons show scant interest in marriage or fatherhood. Lounge would be a great granny guide, even if said sons would attest otherwise. They would no doubt warn any future offspring how Lounge has driven on the wrong side of the road in France and the US, caused small international incidents at airports with nail clippers, hot rollers and unpasteurised cheese and, on one notable occasion, sailed into the wrong safari tent late at night and attempted to get into bed with a couple from Hamburg. Lounge thinks she’ll start an agency and call it Galloping Grannies; the best bit would be handing back the kids to their parents at the end.
AS a follow-up to last week’s item on new tourism words and phrases, Rosa Delgado of Hobart reminds Lounge that babymoon has become part of contemporary tourism parlance. And Christine Allen of Katoomba, NSW, has come up with a self-coined corker. ‘‘ We travel on a modest budget,’’ she writes. ‘‘ Clean self-contained rooms, preferably with a little character, are all we require . . . but we have occasionally been misled by an attractive entrance and reception area, only to find ourselves shown to a shabby room with frayed carpet, dust bunnies under the bed and cracked tiles in the bathroom. San Francisco used to be notorious for this kind of deception, for which we coined the word foyerism.’’
This reminds Lounge of checking into a frayed hotel in India and asking if there was a room with a bath. Yes, she was told, and a photograph of said room in the hotel brochure was shown to her by the front-desk clerk. With key in hand, Lounge went to her assigned room, which turned out to have no tub. ‘‘ You said you had a room with a bath,’’ she squealed as she stomped back to the front desk. ‘‘ Yes, madam, we do, but it is presently occupied.’’ Ah, the vagaries of the English language.
AS more and more hotel-goers purchase bedding and accessories from their favourite accommodation groups, Lounge has become fascinated by the notion of the takeaway hotel. So, too, is reader Margaret Barca of Victoria, who stayed in October 2007 at the refurbished Hotel Metropole in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. She reports that the number of items guests were requested not to remove from the room (but could purchase at the front desk) ran to 79. These ranged from a double mattress, bed skirt (single or double) and facial tissue box to notepad holder, shoehorn, adaptor, shower curtain, plug, wash basic (sic), toilet bowl, toilet lid, toilet tank cover, decor light, three-seater sofa, remote control, remote control holder, room service menu and shower head.
At this rate, perhaps Medina, Meriton, Quest and the like could consider letting guests purchase kitchen sinks from their serviced apartment blocks.
SYDNEY photographer Brian Geach writes to point out the anomalies of hotel tariffs in these competitive times. He says on one trip he paid the same rate for a stay at the Diamant in Canberra (‘‘great staff, tastefully decorated rooms, an unprompted upgrade at check-in, free internet connection and comfortable beds’’) as he did at a motel ‘‘ in a well-known NSW coastal resort town’’ where ‘‘ service was perfunctory, rooms were noisy with circa 1970 decor, sleeping arrangements featured a stained bedspread and pillows that felt like bags of concrete, and internet connections were charged at $6 for 15 minutes’’.
But best of all, reports Geach, a sign in the bathroom warned guests not to use the bath towels for removing make-up or cleaning fishing gear. ‘‘ Both establishments had two things in common, though: equal star ratings in their promotional material and overnight tariffs of $140.’’
IT’S been fantastic to see how many travel operators and tourism organisations have got behind the Red Cross Victorian Bushfires Appeal. For example, Peregrine Adventures has raised more than $200,000 through matched donations and online auction.
In an organised campaign effort, Victoria’s top tourism attractions will be donating their general admissions takings to the Red Cross fund on Labour Day holiday (Monday, March 9). Meanwhile, Carole O’Neill of Finches of Beechworth writes, ‘‘ We need your help . . . Victoria has suffered some of the worst fires in history. The towns of Marysville and Kinglake have suffered greatly. However, may I make an appeal on behalf of the tourist industry in Beechworth? The Beechworth fire started about 4km out of town and caused horrific damage to the forest and lands to the northeast. There was loss of life, stock and wildlife, [yet] the township of Beechworth is still standing untouched . . . [but] it is empty. Tourists, naturally, are staying away. The roads are open and many of them were untouched by flames. Half-price European river cruises; safari operator throws in Cape Town stay; bonus night in Byron Bay; popular China tour gets cheaper. These and other money-saving offers are featured in Travel&Indulgence’s holiday deals, updated daily: