The women-only Bali goddess getaway

Surf's down

In 10 years, Surf Goddess Retreat, in Seminyak, has hosted 3000 women for female-only surf, yoga and meditation holidays - about 90 per cent of those being Australians.

To mark its 10-year anniversary, SGR is now offering retreats without the surfing component.

Surf Goddess's winning formula has been its combination of a tailored surf program teaching surfing techniques and ocean knowledge with luxury villa accommodation and a pampering program of yoga, spa, meditation massage and organic meals. The new non-surfing retreats will feature everything except the waves and tide charts, with some additional local excursions and spa inclusions. Founded by Chelsea Huntley, who was a professional life coach, the programs are limited to 12 guests, who are under the care of five retreat leaders. SGR claims no other surf and yoga retreats in Bali offer the same guest-to-leader ratio.

Seven-day Surf Goddess retreats are priced from $US2495 ($2602).


Sharpe eye on Cambodia

Aspiring visual artists of all levels are invited to join painter Wendy Sharpe, a 2013 Archibald Prize finalist, as she leads a creative tour of Cambodia later this year. Sharpe's recent work has been informed by her 2012 travels: to Antarctica for the Mawson Centenary Flotilla; and to Paris, where she was inspired by French burlesque dancers to paint her Archibald entry Anything Goes, a study of Australian burlesque star Venus Vamp.

The small-group Cambodia trip led by Sharpe and a local English-speaking guide will take in a sunrise visit to Angkor Wat, the ruins of Ta Prohm and Bayon and highlights of the capital Phnom Penh as well as Siem Reap, all with plenty of stops to photograph, sketch or paint.

The trip takes place on November 21-29 and costs $3970 for a private room and $3470 for a shared. Accommodation is at HanumanAlaya Boutique Residence, where there will be a private studio set up. Airfares are not included.


Privacy, bar none

Abercrombie & Kent founder Geoffrey Kent is to lead an exclusive private jet tour, taking in nine countries in 26 days. Limited to 50 participants, the October-November tour will utilise a chartered Boeing 757-200ER fitted out with business-class-style seats and configured to include a lounge and "well stocked" bar. It's only the second such tour A&K has conducted.

The itinerary includes a cruise on the Amazon, with a highlight dinner prepared and hosted by acclaimed Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino. The tour also includes Easter Island, Samoa, the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Bali, a visit to Komodo National Park, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Kenya (where there will be a luxury camp in the Masai Mara Game Reserve) and, for something completely different, Monte Carlo - Geoffrey Kent's adopted home - for a slap-up glamorous gala before flying to tour's end in the US.

Abercrombie & Kent's 26-day Around the World with Geoffrey Kent by Private Jet commences in Miami on October 6 and finishes in New York on October 31. The price is a cool $US105,000 a person, double occupancy. The single supplement is $US15,000.


Be a spokes person

Tour de France tragics travelling to Europe for the cycling classic, which begins on June 29, could add on a deeper cultural experience if they have basic French language skills. Flight Centre is offering Aussies the chance to teach English to a host family in Montpellier on a four- to eight-week placement.

Participants will spend 15 hours a week teaching English to family members of all ages, while the rest of their time is theirs to do what they will. The four-week placement is priced from $1199 a person, and includes homestay accommodation in a private room, airport transfers, most meals, orientation and materials, plus support from staff in France and 24-hour emergency support. Participants must have a basic knowledge of French, although a language course is available for beginners. The program is not suitable for couples or families.

It is valid for sale until September 30 and valid for travel until December 28.

Phone 1300 939 414. See

Vintage accommodation

Huka Lodge, on New Zealand's North Island at Taupo, has long been big on winemaker weekends, pairing menus created by big-name chefs with the offerings of top vineyards and importers at no extra cost to lodge guests.

With low-season rates applying until September 30, its winter program represents good value. On Saturday night is the annual Big Red Dinner, this year showcasing fine Spanish wines to complement a five-course dinner showcasing contemporary Spanish-influenced cuisine by Brent Savage of Sydney's Bentley Restaurant & Bar fame. On July 6, winemaker Alan Brady, of Central Otago's Gibbston Valley Wines, will host another sumptuous winemaker dinner. There will be further events in August.

The 20-room lodge, which celebrates 30 years of operation next year, occupies a 1920s villa set in extensive grounds on the Waikato River.

For rates and information see

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