Traveller Letters: Where's my hotel room refund?

HOLIDAY INNS AND OUTS

Has anyone else experienced booking accommodation through Holiday Inn's website and finding they are dealing with other booking agencies? I booked to stay at Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport last September and when I wrote and cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown in March, I was told they had no knowledge of my booking. It was my bank who traced the payment to a website, getaroom.com/reservations. On writing to them they said a refund would be forthcoming but nothing has happened. Then I had emails from support@garop.zendesk.com again saying my refund would be repaid. Still nothing has happened. I find it worrying that when booking through what one believes is a trusted hotel chain website you are actually dealing with their agencies. Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport has wiped their hands of my problem and refuse to communicate with me.

John Hart, Bright, VIC

See also: Still waiting? Why travel refunds are taking so long

GO WEST

I've got a great trip planned when all of the state borders open. I'll abide with government regulations and stay in Australia. Fly to Perth, spend a few days with friends, take in some attractions. Then I'll board the Hop on/Hop off bus service to Broome (see integritycoachlines.com.au). Having never seen that part of the WA coastline, I'm keen to take my time and the bus service allows just that. I can design my own itinerary. For instance, transfer at Binnu to visit Kalbarri or at Overlander to visit Monkey Mia. I'll organise the shuttles and accommodation. In Broome, I'll sit on Cable Beach and buy a pearl with my saved "Lock Down" cash. Express home? I don't think so.

Helen Newton, Wodonga, Vic

CUBAN CRISIS

We cannot travel far. Our horizons are smaller, our travel world is smaller. Perhaps we'll eventually make it to Tasmania to taste some Bruny Island oysters prised from the rocks, or we'll ski from Queenstown inside a New Zealand bubble. We booked a dream trip for the April sun in Cuba, where we would have been riding in old cars through Havana and even on a sugar steam train. Now we're dreaming of the golden light of sunset among the ancient gums and fields of ripening canola in the spring of central-western New South Wales and maybe a campsite along the Lachlan River or a farm stay in Canowindra. Here's to peace and hope for safer times, while still enjoying the present.

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Michael Copping, Oatley, NSW

EARLY STARTERS

We decided to get ahead of the recent long weekend pack and booked two nights at Boondaburra B&B at Ruffy, a small Victorian community at the western end of the Strathbogie Ranges on the Wednesday and Thursday nights. By the time we arrived at Boondaburra - an Indigenous word for platypus - our hosts had two fires going, one in a pit close to a sheltered patio, the other warming our comfortable and spacious open-plan accommodation. The property is a part-time farm and home to a variety of native birds, wombats and a few koalas and while exploring Boondaburra on foot is encouraged, you need to keep a lookout for the numerous wombat holes.

After a good sleep and a few slices of fresh homemade bread, we set off in what we thought was the direction of Nagambie. Happily, we got lost, wending our way on unsealed roads through valleys studded with swift-flowing creeks and woodlands. Our unplanned adventure ended at Seymour and from there, we drove northwards along the Goulburn Valley Highway to Tahbilk Estate, where we had booked to be two of the 20 customers permitted at any one time in the winery's Wetlands View Restaurant. Another drive through lovely scenery, on sealed roads this time, took us back to Boondaburra for a second cosy evening. Back in Melbourne, we were content that we'd had our own long weekend consisting of two wonderful days that gave us just what the doctor ordered to blow the pandemic's cobwebs away.

Rick and Maggie Grounds, Mount Waverley, VIC

FORWARD THINKING

I am looking forward to travelling by land and cruising when COVID-19 is a distant memory, so I can see polar bears, the Chilean fiords and do an African safari. It is essential to have a highly experienced and knowledgeable travel agent to enhance your travel experience. Don't book directly with the cruise lines. Most agents will give you extra cruise credits for the same price as booking direct. Agents have more power than a single passenger. Research your travel extensively so you can balance your time either on a land tour or at a cruise port. Book early as some cruises do not operate annually.

Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield NSW

BEAR WITH US

Being unshackled from lockdown into the cautious optimism of rejuvenated travel feels like a hibernating bear shaking off a foggy winter to the waking spring. Flying will require vigilance in confined settings, adding to the misery of being encased in a metallic cocoon, streaking across the sky. Contactless check-in, self-serve bag drop and self-scanning of boarding passes are not new, but I'd struggle with the new travel paradigm of social distancing at airports, in lounges and on-board. Lone travellers will struggle with enforced solitude; the excitement of new adventures remaining unshared. These enforcements will nonetheless improve the enlightening conversations between myself and I.

Joseph Ting, Carina, QLD

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