Posted by: shetravelsblog | June 30, 2010

This is what SHE calls Premium Economy!

SHE travelled to Meetings 2010 held in Auckland last week – it’s one of our favourite trade shows in the Meeting and Events industry – extremely well run and managed, and what’s not to love about being in the land of the long white cloud with all those wonderful Kiwis? SHE, along with other hosted buyers, was flown to and from Auckland courtesy of Air New Zealand. Those flights were uneventful – and SHE thinks that’s a priority…on time departure, smooth flying, tuning in to personal on demand inflight entertainment before we’ve taken off (okay…why can’t all airlines do that?). SHE really appreciated being seated toward the front in the ‘Space +’ seats – a little more leg room, a little more recline – nice! We were fed, we landed on time. Kiwi customs were a breeze. Fantastic.

At the trade show it was time to get a sneak peek at some of the new seating options on the about-to-be-launched 777-300 planes. The Premium Economy seats really made an impression! According to Air NZ, they’ve been developing these seats for some time – they’re patented and the only airline that can boast this design. SHE senses a business opportunity for the airline here – a bit of onselling maybe? Everyone’s going to want some of these!

Getting comfortable in Premium Economy

SHE loved the fact that the seats are angled every so slightly away from each other. No sharing / fighting over an arm rest here! The nifty tray table either turns into a neat table for two, or your own generous space. Be friends or don’t – now we have a choice! Seats recline beautifully and due to the fantastic design, there’ll be none of that pulling on the back of the seat that happens when the person behind you wants to get out of their row (oh SHE hates that!!).

Having travelled recently on a Qantas flight to Singapore on both a 747 and the new A380 in Premium Economy, SHE is convinced Air NZ’s on to something here! Wow…

Dear Air New Zealand, will you PLEASE fly to Singapore? Please?!

Posted by: shetravelsblog | June 20, 2010

SHE’s a bit shaken but thankfully surviving to tell the tale!

SHE’s an independent traveller – and proud of it.  Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s those of us who travel most frequently who sometimes get just a little complacent and forget the warnings we insist our groups take heed of.  SHE had a rude wake up call on a recent trip – as it turns out SHE was very, VERY lucky and thankfully survived to tell the tale!

SHE was travelling in Asia, visiting a major city and on the way to a site inspection of a new hotel. Dressed for business SHE heads off, bag over the shoulder with the usual contents – wallet with all the credit cards (at last count there was 4), Imelda Iphone (can’t leave her at home!), camera for hotel pics, makeup etc. Walking along a busy city street, chatting with a colleague who was walking on the left, SHE crossed at lights where at least 50 motorbikes were stopped waiting for the change of lights (they were on our right). As we crossed on the ‘walk’ sign, chatting, watching for traffic but still involved in our conversation, a rider jumped the lights, accelerated in front of us and attempted to grab the handbag. He was determined – SHE was more determined, and hung on – rightly/wrongly – SHE defies anyone to willingly give up your handbag when a random stranger tries to take your personal property!

SHE’s still surprised SHE didn’t drag him off his bike – and is just a little sorry too! There’s no doubt he would have come out the worse for wear – SHE was carried along for a few seconds and hit the road hard when he eventually gave up. SHE didn’t even get a look at him it happened so fast.  A very sore hand, grazes on the arm, knee and a ripper of a bruise on the hip that took most of the brunt of the fall – SHE considers herself to be extremely lucky that there weren’t any broken bones.

Lessons to be learned – SHE knows this was all some not-too-gentle way of being reminded of the downsides of travel in foreign countries. And to take heed of warnings in guides like the wonderful bible “Lonely Planet” so many of us take with us as a constant companion – the same one that says violent theft is rare. And yes it is.  SHE broke all the rules that day – leaving the hotel with way too many valuable items in the handbag, not paying attention when crossing the road, having the handbag closest to the oncoming traffic – simple things that we often don’t think twice about.  On this day, SHE was an open target for a random thief. Karma will get him.

SHE was really shaken up by this – your first reaction is you just can’t believe it’s happened to you, then you’re checking if anything’s broken, sprained, twisted; has anything been stolen – quick rummage through bag ‘oh my god what did I have in here…I could have lost it all!’.  Then the anger sets in – that someone would try to steal something that’s yours – personal stuff. It’s a feeling of violation. SHE was feeling very shaky for the rest of the day – really emotional and couldn’t get back to the hotel to be in a ‘safe’ place fast enough. From what SHE’s heard they’re pretty common emotions – and not ones that SHE’s in a hurry to  experience again. They passed of course – those feelings – but SHE was definitely a bit jumpy the following day and may have looked sideways with suspicion at a few too many people!

Travel is filled with experiences, it’s the reason SHE loves it so much. It’s not always easy travelling as a solo woman, we must all take care and remind ourselves that not all people are good and that sometimes bad things happen. SHE won’t let that stop her getting on that plane and visiting extraordinary destinations, nor will SHE become paranoid and let it ruin any future trips. SHE’s just had a wake up call to remember to practice what SHE preaches and leave as many personal belongings of value in a hotel safe – after all, that’s what it’s for.

Here’s to safe and happy travels for all of us.

Posted by: shetravelsblog | June 1, 2010

How flash is Hamilton Island now?

For those of us who remember Hamilton Island from at least 5 years ago (and much further back than that!) SHE is seriously impressed with the recent developments on this beautiful Whitsundays island.

SHE was fortunate to be included on a recent industry familiarisation program that saw us on a grand tour of the island and it’s many new additions and upgrades. Our group flew on Virgin Blue and arrived in time for lunch at Qualia – sigh…that’s a pretty tough view to take in over a glass of Jansz and a light lunch!

View from Qualia

View from the deck at Qualia

After a wander around the stunning property and a peek at the pavilions it was time to head to the Reef View Hotel for a refresh before boarding the ferry for a 1o minute journey to Dent Island.  Hamilton Island Golf Course is Australia’s only championship golf course on it’s own island – and what a stunner it is. There are the  most amazing views from every possible angle – it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful.  We jumped in our buggies and headed for the 14th tee for a glass of champagne as the sun set – and the moon rose!

Drinks on the golf course

Sunset drinks on the golf course

Dinner at the Golf Club followed – a feast accompanied with the wonderful Robert Oatley wines. Some great acoustic entertainment from local strummer Shane had us all dancing – bare foot on the grass! Truly a wonderful evening!

We were up bright and early on Friday morning – those playing 18 holes of golf earlier than the rest of us – thankfully! We were met at the golf club by the delightful Nick Maynard from Maui Jim, who fitted us individually with a pair of fabulous glasses – such service, such a treat, such rockstars! Once you’ve put a pair of these glasses on you’ll never look back (but if you do, the world will look a whole lot better!)

Maui Jim rockstars

The world looks better through Maui Jims!

SHE joined the golf clinic girls – never having picked up a stick (ah I think its a ‘club’!) it was great to learn the basics from resident golf pro Cherie. She was very patient and of course there was a mini competition to motivate us – French champagne with an orange label to the winner! Hmmm…memo – must practice more to win beautiful bubbles.

Girls golf clinic

The ladies golf clinic

A short ferry ride back to the Island and it was an afternoon of free time to sit by the pool and enjoy the sunshine. Big deep breath and …sigh! Now that’s what SHE calls a damn good Friday afternoon!

Feeling refreshed and relaxed, our group met for a 5 minute transfer to the marina to board one of the Cruise Indigo boats for a sunset cruise. It was a perfect night as we sipped champagne and took in the beauty of the Whitsundays. The sun sank in the west as we sailed by the stunning new Yacht Club. With an upmarket restaurant, a deck to enjoy a drink or three at pretty much anytime, and some great function space, this venue is a welcome addition to the Island.

Yacht Club

Hamilton Island Yacht Club

And it was here we enjoyed our final night on the Island. We worked our way through a menu accompanied by Robert Oatley wines – the wonderfully articulate Darren Jahns (whose enviable job seems to involve trotting around the country eating, drinking and talking about it!) has converted most of us to the Pinot Gris and …wait for it… the Robert Oatley Chardonnay! There… SHE said it! And it’s excellent. And SHE’s officially a fan.

A huge thank you to the Business Tourism team at Hamilton Island who looked after us so well – Julie and Erin – great job! SHE can’t wait to get back with one of our clients in late August – does this sound like SHE definitely has the ‘best job in the world’?

Posted by: shetravelsblog | May 26, 2010

The Crown Metropol is very Melbourne!

Stylish, hip, very cool – okay there’s every chance SHE’s biased given that Melbourne is home. SHE is, however, very impressed with the fabulous new Crown Metropol – opened for only a month and really looking good!

SHE was fortunate to be invited to stay last Friday night as part of a wonderful evening hosted by Crown – a group of us attended a charity event and were treated to an overnight stay at Metropol. SHE jumped at the opportunity – we’ve had the chance to look around the hotel and the rooms, but staying is really the only way to experience the true heart and soul of a hotel. Metropol did not disappoint.

SHE loves exploring a hotel room, opening and closing everything, bouncing up and down on the bed… and here’s what SHE found:

  • Minibar: a mini bottle of French champagne (sigh!), some very swish water (didn’t get to that unfortunately…hmmm, trend here…)
  • A mug (oh thank you) to drink the wonderful tea and coffee (beautifully packaged teas from Madame Flavour – really neat, AND born and bred in Victoria! And Robert Timms coffee bags – yep – they make a very decent cup of coffee compared to that standard old sachet, or an overpriced packet of espresso coffee.)
  • Ipod dock: yay! What self respecting hotel opening or refurbing in 2010 wouldn’t include this as their number one radio / music / clock option? And of course, SHE forgot the phone charger so no problems here!  Still able to send inappropriate text messages late at night…
  • Nice little branded amenities – in nice little bottles with tops that unscrew easily. And nice soap too!
  • A big snuggly robe in a most flattering colour – soft charcoal grey to match all that understated branding. And so much do the guests love those robes that SHE passed at least 4 of them in various random lifts during the stay, clearly on their way to the Isika Spa (well, actually, we questioned the poor guy who stepped into the lift with 8 people dressed in black tie! He was a little uncomfortable but promised to enjoy whatever treatment he had planned!). And the cool in-room thongs – loved them! So much more practical for padding around the hotel, between floors, to breakfast when your feet hurt from dancing the night before…

    A nice alternative to the white slippers

And of course there’s a beautiful big bed to be bounced on – very comfy, good pillows, lots of room if you do need to be starfish after a big night!

A really great night's sleep

Let’s not forget the dining options that mean you really don’t need to leave the hotel – Maze is Gordon Ramsay’s new venture. SHE tried our luck on a whim one Sunday night – not a chance unfortunately! Restaurant fully booked! It pays to plan ahead and make the booking – especially for Friday and Saturday nights. SHE will get right on to that…

If you’re looking at indulging in a city escape, head straight for Metropol and take the option to include the access to Level 28. Wow. SHE expects to be back here as often as possible! Maybe SHE’ll bump into that good looking guy from the ad?!

Posted by: shetravelsblog | April 30, 2010

SHE had a fabulous time in Bali!

Our inaugural trip to Bali departed on 20 April – SHE would like to say a huge thankyou to the wonderful ladies who joined us on this trip.

Our first 3 nights were spent in Jimbaran staying at the wonderful Intercontinental Hotel – we took full advantage of the hotel facilities (breakfast was a highlight – nice buffet!).  Our ‘welcome to Bali dinner’ was held on the beach at Jimbaran’s best seafood restaurant Sharkey’s (and SHE’s not the only one who thinks so – these wonderful people win awards on a regular basis!).  Natalie (our lovely Aussie co-owner / hostess with the mostess) was given the task of ordering for us – she delivered beautifully! The ladies worked their way through a feast of seafood – and of course no dinner would be complete without a band of wandering minstrels serenading the group! (In fact at one stage SHE wasn’t sure who was seranading who!)

Dinner at Sharkey's

We ate, we drank a cocktail or 5, we shopped and we ate (can’t get enough Nasi Goreng!). SHE made some time to give a little back too – we visited a local orphanage in Denpasar to see if we could share some joy – we’re still not sure who got the most pleasure out of our visit – the kids were amazing! We stopped at a local supermarket on the way and stocked up on pens, pencils, colouring books and…balls! Lots of them in all different sizes – these were a big hit with the kids (and with us!).  We also discovered some hidden talents amongst our group – our lovely Trish delighted the kids with drawings of Aussie animals – well…we think that was a koala!

Trish & the kids

Suzanne & her new friend!

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!

The days went by way too quickly for any of us – before we knew it we were on the road to Ubud. The stunning Maya Ubud Hotel was home to us for the next 3 days – it’s hard to describe the overwhelming sense of peace and tranquillity that washes over you when you arrive at the hotel – it is a truly magical place.

SHE had arranged a very special surprise for the ladies – a blessing and purification ceremony with the High Priest of Ubud. We were measured for traditional Balinese outfits when we arrived at the hotel (that were delivered to our rooms the next day). Two of the beautiful Balinese hotel staff came to our rooms to show us how to tie our sarongs – we felt like we were getting ready for a wedding…all chatty and giggly – making sure we had matching earrings and our best sandals!

Purification ceremony with High Priest of Ubud

Our resort guide Wayan accompanied us to the temple and was our translator throughout the ceremony. It was a truly moving and memorable morning – we left the temple a little lighter in spirit (definitely a little soggier after being doused in holy water!) It was an honour and a privilege to be a part of such an important cultural and spiritual experience.

Praying at the temple

Wayan leading the ladies in prayer

Bali is truly a wonderful destination – SHE has travelled there so many times and is still amazed by it’s beauty.  We’re constantly dazzled by the warmth of the Balinese people’s smiles, their deep spirituality, and the simplicity to which they live their lives. SHE looks forward to many more trips to this beautiful island, with lots more wonderful women to share it all with!

Posted by: shetravelsblog | April 7, 2010

Sarong puts it beautifully!

SHE is off to Bali on our inaugural trip in just a few weeks – we’re all so excited!  One of the important inclusions in any of our trips is a dinner each night – this is the meal SHE always struggles with when SHE’s travelling alone – and one of the many reasons why SHE decided to start our small group travel for women.

And it’s all about finding ‘the right’ restaurant for our group. Sometimes it will be a casual local restaurant on the beach with our feet in the sand; another night may find us slipping on our little black dresses and silver sandals and behaving like princesses for the evening!  In keeping with the latter, SHE’s found one of the funkiest restaurants in Bali for a special dinner for the ladies to celebrate our final night in Seminyak. It’s called Sarong and according to local magazine Hello Bali it’s ‘Bali’s newest uubergroovy restaurant’.

Sarong Restaurant Bali

Private Dining Room at Sarong

Chef Will Meyrick was the leading light at Jimmy Liks and Long Grain, two of Australia’s hottest bar/restaurants, and in Asia created Husk in Sofitel Bali, LOTUS in Hong Kong and sharpened his knives and his Thai skills in the five star boutique resort Karma Samui in Thailand. Recently he set the benchmark for modern Thai food at Blossom in Sentosa, Bali.  Wow are we in for a treat!

And SHE knew we had it right when we received the email response to our reservation request.  In the words of Wira at Sarong…

“Sarong offers cuisines from around Southeast Asia which is generally hot & spicy in nature. The cuisine may not suitable for the young and those sensitive to extreme spiciness.

Sarong strongly advise that we do not cater to children under the age of twelve (12).  In the event the diners need to bring along young children, the management expects that parents ensure the children are seated at the table at all times during dinner and act in the manner where they shall not disturb other diners in the restaurant.”

Nicely put Sarong! Might this be a standard inclusion in replies from other wonderful restaurants regarding their expectations of their diners? Although we love kids, we don’t want them running around disrupting us when we’re enjoying a beautiful dinner. SHE thinks this is a polite yet firm way of making sure our restaurant experience will be everything we hope for. SHE’s really looking forward to this!

Posted by: shetravelsblog | February 27, 2010

What to pack…what not to pack…

SHE gets around – in the nicest possible way!  And packing a bag still rates most highly on the list of things SHE finds just a little tedious.  SHE would like to be like George Clooney’s character in ‘Up and Away’ – men really do get it easy when they travel…folded shirts, white tshirts, 2 pairs of trousers, a jacket, a carry on bag.  What’s the drama?

SHE loves you George but really… back to us…what am I going to pack?  I haven’t got time to think about this!  I’ll make a list, maybe not, maybe I’ll buy new outfits, maybe I’ll just throw a whole lot of clothes into the suitcase and take my chances.  What if I don’t want to wear any of those outfits – tonight or tomorrow night?  What if I’m under dressed?  What if I’m over dressed?  What if everyone else is wearing 3/4 pants and I’m wearing a cute little frock?  Damn it…dilemma!!

The best tip SHE’s come across is to pack your favourite items – the ones you love to throw on when you’re at home, the ones that you feel most comfortable in.   Now doesn’t that make perfect sense?   Think about getting home at the end of a long day…how great is it to change into the ‘lounge pants’  and a nice loose top that doesn’t cling in any of the wrong places?   Maybe you throw on the little frock that screams ‘summer’ and feels all flirty, or the oversized washed out tshirt that you stole from an exboyfriend (or husband!)  Aahh – now we’re starting to relax!  Maybe it’s a forgiving flowing frock with a pair of leggings.  How good does that make you feel?  Some silver jewelry – those great ear-rings you bought last time you were on holiday, the fabulous necklace that you thought might be a bit ‘over the top’, and the wardrobe / holiday staple…the silver sandals!  Perfect!  Now SHE’s packing!

And here’s something for you…maybe you shop here, maybe you don’t, but SHE says ‘this goes with that at Sussans‘!   The SHE girls found themselves with a spare hour during a recent event in Tasmania and decided to drop in to Sussans.  What a wonderful shopping experience this turned out to be!  The staff really knew their stuff – the girls made really informed suggestions for both of us – clearly demonstrating their product knowledge and love of the clothes in store.

SHE found perfect ‘travelling’ pants – the pull on kind that aren’t skin tight and will survive a long haul flight anywhere without a crease in sight; a lovely drape dress that with a layer or two will take you from a balmy summer’s cocktail party to a dinner in a slightly cooler climate – and is guaranteed to look slinky and stylish.  There’s lovely soft fabrics that fit any shape and size and are  made just for us – in all shapes and sizes – thank god!  Who ever is responsible for buying for Sussans is doing a great job of understanding the Australian woman.  Hooray!

Best of all – the price tags didn’t break the bank!  Wow!  SHE tried on so many great pieces and walked out with some excellent new basics for the travel wardrobe in 2010.  How cool is that?

Next time you’re wandering aimlessly through your local mall or shopping centre – take a moment to drop in, have a chat, try some stuff on.  You may well be surprised by what you find – SHE was!

Posted by: shetravelsblog | February 14, 2010

Fabulous foldable shoes – perfect for travelling!

SHE was flicking through the travel section of the Weekend Australian and spotted ‘Accessory of the Week’. Love My Sole has come up with the idea of fold up shoes – brilliant! Perfect for stuffing in the carry-on bag for a long haul flight, or for some relief at the end of a long day in those too high stilettos. And they come in silver – SHE can’t ever have enough silver shoes!
SHE’s off to order a pair right now – you can buy online or if you’re in Sydney you can visit local shops to check them out.

Posted by: shetravelsblog | February 3, 2010

Ladies only toilets! Thank you V Australia!

SHE jumped at the invitation to join the inaugural VAustralia flight from Melbourne to Phuket early in December. (Phone call: wanna come? Oh wait…let me think about it for a minute, I’ll just check my diary…gosh I’m free! Count me in!)

A glass of bubbles with Neil from Virgin, & Helen Batt-Rawden (travelling buddy & editor of Micenet magazine)

SHE joined fellow event managers and industry colleagues all terriby excited about the concept of flying to Phuket (8 and a bit hours), staying in a fabulous hotel, then flying home the next afternoon.  Hilarious!  Our mates think we’re mad (just before they mutter yet again – ‘that’s not a job’).  The party started in the Lounge – nice – and always good to start a trip with my old favourite – a Bloody Mary.

We boarded the shiny new plane like a group of excited teenagers (what’s that about…we travel all the time but we still love it!) and the party began in earnest as we were greeted with our first glass of bubbles (mmm…Moet)! Time check: 9am Melbourne time.

Lots and lots of space at the front of the plane – SHE was very spoilt! The wonderful crew were typically Virgin – hip, young and funky, just the right amount of chat and banter accompanied by great, attentive service.

The girls & Jodie from VAustralia (pin up girl - she's gorgeous!)

Jodie and the crew gave us an introduction to our seats – hey seat – how you doing? SHE hates that bit when you’d love to touch every button, open and close everything, and try all the settings on your seat but you’re pretending to look cool! Bugger that! It’s so nice to know how the sneaky telly gets out of its hiding place. And as for that bar in the sky…fabulous is the only word I have for it! A perfect little party for 6. (safety requirements folks…there is a serious side to the flight!). Stocked to the eyeballs with all that is top shelf in vodka, scotch, bubbles…

There was much anticipation and high expectations of my very comfy seat turning into a very comfy bed. Step aside crew…I’ll be the judge of this ‘lie flat’ bed business. (Note to cynics …SHE can tell you…it was FLAT. All snuggled into a lovely warm doona with PJs).

Gary makes my bed

Gary makes my bed while I visit the ladies only loo!

SHE was very happy to meet the man flying us to Phuket – here’s Captain Matt!

Captain Matt flies us to Phuket and back

We’re pretty sure he had help – he was ‘stretching his legs’ on a fairly regular basis (SHE was paying attention ladies), doing his rounds and checking on his charges (I think around 230 of us on that lovely shiny plane?) – so we did double check he had a wingman – or 2… “Roger that Maverick – Goose taking charge on the flight deck.”

I digress…terribly actually – sorry about that! The Ladies Only Toilet is Fabulous! Thank you VAustralia for being bold enough to dedicate a loo on a plane just for us – SHE loves you. No toilet seat left up, nice clean & dry floor (sigh), lovely lighting that doesn’t make us look 30 years older than we are. There’s a nifty fold down thingy that goes over the toilet seat (that might be something like a baby change table except I don’t have babies so I’m only guessing) so we can sit and reapply if we need to (and we all know that reapplying is most important – especially if Captain Matt is flying your plane). SHE went to the loo even when SHE didn’t need to – it was lovely!

And look where we had lunch the next day!

Nai Yang Beach Phuket

Nai Yang Beach Phuket

Definitely worth flying 8 and a bit hours for! SHE was fortunate to stay at the Indigo Pearl Resort and this is the beautiful Nai Yang Beach – a short wander from the resort. Sit with your feet in the sand, eat fresh fish caught off the beach that morning washed down with a sneaky Aussie Sauvignon Blanc you brought with you Duty Free (the restaurant staff happily shove it in an ice bucket for you). Heaven.

So if you believe it’s not the destination but the journey that really matters – get on board VAustralia. Treat yourself to a seat at the front of the plane – Business Class is anything but Business (SHE had a ball). or if it makes you feel better to save a few $$ then go Premium Economy – you won’t be disappointed.

Posted by: shetravelsblog | January 27, 2010

Women travelling because they can!

I’m fascinated by the concept of bringing a random group of women together to travel somewhere fabulous. Doesn’t matter how old – single, married, divorced, together with a partner forever, mending a broken heart…makes no difference what the motivation is – it seems that whoever I speak to about this, everyone thinks it’s a great idea.

By no means original of course, nor am I claiming first digs on this brilliant concept.  I’m sure it’s just evolved from us all getting together for many ‘chicks weekends away’ over the years – to celebrate impending marriage, divorce, to come together as we do to support our wonderful friends, or just an excuse to sit around in our tracky dacks with bad hair, no makeup and talk, talk, talk.  Gosh we do that well don’t we?

So I’ve just decided to give this a go and SHE travels is born!  In the words of Mark Twain “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do…”