I have cancer and for my birthday early next month, I booked online for a lovely five-star stay at a Sydney CBD hotel suite, with park views. I knew I also had to book their famous high tea so I rang to do that directly.
"But ma'am, we are a quarantine hotel," the nice guy on reception told me. "How were you able to book"?
Furthermore, and needless to say, there was no high tea or a club lounge operating. So when would I have found out, as my online booking was accepted and confirmed including access to the club lounge? "Probably the day before we would have moved you to one of our other properties in Sydney or offered a credit note." But it was too late for a cancellation without charge.
It was lucky that I rang as there was no indication on the hotel website that it was a quarantine hotel. I was able to cancel and rebook at another hotel which was fully operational and open to the general public. Lesson: ring the hotel you want directly and don't rely on booking online for the time being.
Kim Veringa, Epping, NSW
RIGHT ON TRACK
I just returned from a marvellous journey on the Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide and can't speak highly enough of this experience. Sure, it is not inexpensive but the quality of products and service justifies the price. Incredibly good food, more than adequate beverages and carefully curated off-train excursions are all included in the price. The staff are exceptional and go out of their way to deliver a premium product. The cabins in Gold Class are compact but comfortable and the ensuite bathrooms a welcome luxury that is not always available on the famous (and much more expensive) Orient Express.
Gerhard Engleitner, Newcastle, NSW
FEEL FUR YOU
I sympathise with Cynthia Hunter's comments (Traveller Letters, February 27) about Qantas and the transport of pets. I can't help feeling that outsourcing of pet transport is all about Qantas' own convenience and too bad for the inconvenience to its long-suffering customers. Added significantly to the higher cost, there is the stress of trying to get a service provider to respond and, when they do, to match pet travel to the passenger's travel. If you get a response, it's "this is the date and airline, take it or leave it". And there are no guarantees the pet will actually go that day. I've been forced to arrange for a pet to go before the passenger on the trip to our home (and after the passenger returns) to cater for the uncertainty.
Robert Postema, Paddington, NSW
I'm so happy that Elias Redstone nominated Arles, my second home, as his dream destination (Traveller, February 20). Arles has grown up a lot in recent years. It now boasts a Van Gogh museum and a spectacular Frank Gehry building.
Cecily Black, Annandale, NSW
Allow me to recommend an idyllic but manageable trip through the back roads of NSW's South West Slopes and Monaro regions. All driving is on sealed roads with little traffic as you pass through green though burnt landscapes, with unique attractions. Begin in Yass (visiting Burrinjuck Dam), then on to Gundagai (Rusconi's Marble Masterpiece), Adelong (for the gold history), Tumut and Talbingo (for the Snowy Mountains Scheme centre), Yarrangobilly Caves, Cooma (Corrective Services Museum), Queanbeyan, Gundaroo, Gunning, Crookwell, Taralga (historic stone buildings) to Oberon (the Jenolan Caves) and finally Lithgow (the Small Arms Factory). Bakeries and coffee abound and friendly folk are everywhere.
Trevor Taylor, Port Macquarie, NSW
EDITOR'S NOTE We'd love to hear about more of our readers' favourite road touring routes in NSW and Victoria.
I ride a motorbike and have travelled on both the Sorrento-Queenscliff ferry in Victoria and the Kangaroo Island ferry in South Australia (Traveller Letters, February 27). A return fare on the Kangaroo Island ferry costs $164, a return fare on the Sorrento ferry costs $60. Both crossings take a similar amount of time. If that's not price gouging then I don't know what is.
Philip Rich, Geelong West, VIC
While unfortunately not currently available for sale (due to park closures resulting from the devastating bushfires), the Kangaroo Island tour pass has provided great value to visitors. It can be used for unlimited visits to the covered attractions, including the Seal Bay guided beach tour. We took four beach tours over three visits while on the island for a week and even that wasn't enough to satisfy our children.
Adam Levy, North Bondi, NSW
I get a teeny weeny bit miffed by Traveller's features and reviews that encourage readers to partake in and frequent hotel bars and wine and cocktail bars and visit wineries. I do not drink alcohol but I like a good time. I just don't want to visit these places. My preference is to get down and boogie with a soft drink or a good cup of coffee.
Sue Burrough, Carey Bay, NSW
There's been a lot of negative talk lately regarding Sydney's new Crown tower with most of it negative (Traveller Letters, February 20). But I defy anyone to stand at the base on the waterside of Barangaroo and look up at it, with a blue sky behind, and not be truly stunned by the architectural magnificence of the building. The curves are extraordinary, from that angle. Let's make it all about the brilliance of the architect and not James Packer.
Rae Masman, Church Point, NSW
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