Westhill Consulting Management
KIM CULYER | Courier mail - DOC provides expert advice on your travel dilemmas.
My extended family (possibly up to 12 people) is planning on a white Christmas in the US next year. Where would be a good option for both young and old? Also, is there a reliable website to book our accommodation in that location for 10 days over Christmas?
Doc: For the guarantee of snow and lots of it at Christmas, somewhere in the mountains would be my pick. Head to Aspen in Colorado – it’s easy to get to and is not purpose-built as a ski resort, so there’s plenty of activities in the area to interest all ages. There’s also a huge range of accommodation choices. If you’re looking for something apartment-style or a condominium as they’re called there, the Alpenblick or the Dolomite Villas are well located, have large living areas with up to four bedrooms and other facilities including outdoor heated pool, hot tub, full kitchens and fireplace.
Or, for a group as large as yours, consider a house.
The majority are large, offering up to six bedrooms, several bathrooms and are well appointed with everything you could possibly need. Usually they are serviced by the free local bus, giving you easy access to town and the ski lifts. Most will have at least one fireplace, hot tub, barbecue, several televisions or a media room, internet and loads of space. For things to do, there’s the obvious skiing and snowboarding. There are four mountains in the Aspen Ski area and all are connected via the free shuttle bus. If you have little ones, there is the Treehouse Kids Adventure Centre in Snowmass that caters from babies to teens. There’s ice-skating, cinemas, snowmobile rides, heaps of shopping and a vast selection of dining options.
A couple of ideas for a day out are the John Denver Sanctuary, or hire a car and drive to Maroon Bells, about 10km from town, to see the most photographed mountains in North America. Take a day trip to Vail about two hours away and stop at Glenwood Springs on the way for a dip in the hot springs. Another 20 minutes by road from Vail and you’ll find Silverthorne, a small town full of factory outlet shopping. Back in Aspen, go to a hockey game at the Ice Garden or take a tour to Ashcroft Ghost Town, an original silver mining town. Join one of Five Star Adventures’ Snowshoe tours or try fly fishing. Accommodation will be scarce at that time of year so make your bookings as soon as possible.
I am interested in heading to Gallipoli for the 2015 Centenary, is it too late to book and where can I book this trip?
Doc: Tours to the Anzac Day 2015 Centenary at Gallipoli are very popular and filling up fast, however it is not too late to book if you hop to it. Try Tempo Holidays, they offer two tours. One to suit those who secured official tickets entitling entry to services on the peninsula and one for those who didn’t but want to be nearby. The Eight-day Legends of Gallipoli departs April 19, and the nine-day Anzac Spirit departs April 22. If you have tickets you will attend the official services, if you don’t you will observe from a boat anchored off the coast, with large screens broadcasting the service. There are also excursions included led by military historians who will explain the events that took place in detail.
Do you know where can I get a list of the airlines that have a first-class section on their aircraft flying to and from Perth to Europe please? I have called six travel agents. None knew and all but two said there was no first class out of Perth.
Doc: There isn’t a list as such but I can tell you that Qantas combined with Emirates operate three flights daily from Perth to Dubai and on to Europe, and they all offer first class. If this doesn’t suit then other carriers offer a business class service to their Asian or Middle Eastern hubs combined with a first-class service through to Europe and the UK.
We intend to join a tour through France and are most keen to visit the famous historical theme park at Puy du Fou. What is the best way to get there by public transport?
Doc: The Puy du Fou theme park in western France is rated by some as a better attraction than Disneyland Paris. Set on 50ha it includes three themed hotels and 25 restaurants and is open from the beginning of April to end of September.
The park is divided into five “grand” performances – the Secret of the Lance and the Vikings are two.
There are also about 10 other medieval shows and two night-time shows. The main night show takes place behind a ruined castle and depicts 700 years of history in the area. It’s the largest stage in the world with thousands of actors – all volunteers from local villages – hundreds of horses and about 400 fireworks per performance. This show is only on in peak season and is booked separately. Book online and well ahead at puydufou.com to receive a discount. Tickets for a two-day pass are about $65 per adult and about $45 per child. Some of the shows are in French, but translating headsets are available.
You could drive there – it would take about three hours from Paris, or catch the TGV train, change in Le Mans for Angers St Laud. From there hop on the shuttle to the Puy du Fou. You must book tickets for the shuttle through the official Puy du Fou website. The journey takes about 90 minutes. While you’re there, head over to Poitiers and visit the Futuroscope Park – not as well-known but it will impress.
It’s about three hours by train from Angers and is full of 3D and even 4D movies and simulators. Your seats move in sync with the movie, as if you’re flying the plane or racing the car. There are also IMAX films and other rides. The park is suited to kids eight and older and tickets are about $50 per adult and kids five to 16 are about $38.
My husband and I will be driving from Brussels to Prague in early October 2014 and wish to stop in Germany and spend at least three nights halfway to Prague. Could you recommend the best area to stop in to see a few places?
Doc: Rather than a long drive to get half way then stop, try this. Drive from Brussels to Koblenz on day one. Stop for lunch in Cologne and visit the majestic Cologne Cathedral (Dom) and the Ludwig Museum. Head across the Rhine to the Rhine Promenade and the St Martin Church, all are within walking distance. Koblenz is about 79km from Cologne and is one of Germany’s oldest towns. It’s full of over 2000 years of history, castles and narrow streets and it’s where the Rhine and Moselle Rivers meet. Stay at the Hotel Brenner for about $140 per room and be sure to take a boat tour to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and do a walking tour of the old town. Then take the Autobahn to Munich and choose whether to have a stop in Stuttgart on the way to visit the Mercedes Benz Museum. Stuttgart is about 220km from Munich. Here’s a few things for your to-do list in Munich: the Marienplatz (central square) - go at noon to hear the Glockenspiel chime in the Town Hall tower and watch the life-sized figures act historical Bavarian events. The Pinakothek art museum, the daily farmers market around the corner from the Marienplatz, the Residenz Museum - former royal palace, the BMW Museum and at least one or two of the many beer halls.
I’m travelling to the UK in a couple of months with a six hour stopover in Singapore. I have heard that there is a hotel in the airport complex where I can rent a room for a couple of hours to shower/freshen up before the longer leg of the journey. Is this correct and if so can you please give me any details?
Doc: Changi airport is perfect for a stopover, the facilities on offer are endless and these include Transit Lounges and Transit Hotels. You’ll find the Ambassador Transit Hotel (www.harilelahospitality.com) in each terminal in the transit lounge area before immigration. There’s two options for rooms, both are charged in blocks of six hours. Budget rooms have share toilet and shower facilities and start at about $40 per single. Standard rooms including an ensuite bathroom, tea and coffee, wake-up call and TV, start at about $67. The other option is to use the services of the Ambassador Transit Lounges in terminals two and three. Adult prices start at about $50 for five hours in terminal three including the following facilities: Internet access, complimentary buffet, non-alcoholic drinks, gym and shower facilities. There’s many other services on offer in the lounge including massage, nap suites, nail and facials and meeting rooms. If you happen to be flying with Singapore Airlines, you will receive a 20 ChangiDollar Voucher and this can be used toward the cost of your transit experience.