Last-minute summer holiday ideas

BELINDA JACKSON
Last updated 08:19 23/12/2013
Phuket Landscape

NOTE TOO LATE: Radisson Blu Plaza Resort, Panwa Beach, Phuket.

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Throw the schedule out the window and cut loose. There's still time to plan and book a holiday this summer. Really.

What about a fancy weekend on the Gold Coast, or a touch of luxury in Bali?

Auckland's sparkling harbour is calling or go on the hunt for powder in the Japanese alps.

Adelaide's festival scene is about to kick off and there are bargains to be had in the South Pacific's off-season.

Cheer up, slackers, the early bird doesn't always catch the worm, but you'd better get your skates, fins or walking boots on, quick smart.

GOLD COAST HINTERLAND

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Tallebudgera Valley

The deal Who doesn't dream about getting away from it all? Organic, low-tech, wellness, but with a hefty dose of gorgeousness. Internationally recognised for its luxury spa offering, five-star a weekend escape at Gwinganna includes all-organic meals, and activities - think bosu balance training, indoor cycling, hiking or creative dance - and a massage in its 33-room Spa Sanctuary. Save 15 per cent on selected weekends from January 17 to March 30.

How much From A$948 (NZ$1031) a person, twin share in an Orchards Suite.

Getting there Tiger Airways, Jetstar and Virgin Australia fly Sydney-Gold Coast.

More details gwinganna.com.

CANBERRA

Five hotels including Novotel Canberra and Ibis Budget Canberra

The deal The National Gallery of Australia's blockbuster exhibit Gold and the Incas: Lost Worlds of Peru is now showing. Book a Cultural Getaway package at one of Accor's five hotels, with breakfast and two adults untimed tickets thrown in, until April 21.

How much from A$119 (NZD$130) a night at Ibis Budget Canberra, from A$165 (NZD$180) at Mercure Canberra and from A$195 (NZD$212) a night at Novotel Canberra.

Getting there It takes less than three hours to drive from Sydney to Canberra.

More details accorhotels.com/canberra-art.

VICTORIAN ALPS

Dinner Plain village

The deal Summer in the Australian Alps is free from the madness of ski season, which means plenty of seats in Bright's shining restaurants and cooking schools and discounted accommodation.

Stay three, pay for two, nights in a self-contained apartment. They'll throw in local wine and cheese and a 90-minute horse ride with Dinner Plain Trail Rides.

How much From A$235 (NZD$255.7) a person, twin share. Save A$70 (NZD$76) until April 30.

Getting there Qantas, Virgin Australia and Rex fly Sydney-Albury (1½ hours). Dinner Plain is two hours' drive into the mountains.

More details skiholidays.com.au.

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THAILAND

Radisson Blu Plaza Resort, Phuket Panwa Beach

The deal Phuket is so hot right now, with sleek properties giving it an injection of fab, including oceanfront beauties.. Some things stay the same: there's still the great beaches, fun shopping, bars and fabulous Thai cuisine to soak up. Save 20 per cent on two-night stays on Radisson's Asia Pacific hotels, including Sydney for a little stay, until December 30 when booked by February 21.

How much From $266for two nights.

More details radissonblu.com.

CAMBODIA, VIETNAM AND THAILAND

From Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok, via Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang

The deal The nine-day adventure takes in the glory of Angkor Wat's temples and Battambang, where French Colonial and Khmer architecture mix, not to mention racy Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok's great shopping.

How much from $861 a person

More details intrepidtravel.com/tkse.

MALAYSIA, MALACCA, IPOH AND PANGKOR ISLAND

The deal Named one of Lonely Planet's top 10 must-visit countries for 2014, a good starting point in Malaysia to explore is the UNESCO-listed heart of Malacca, once a kingdom, then a Portuguese colony. Save $217 on travel on this seven-day journey with private car until March 31, 2015. The tour departs daily from Kuala Lumpur.

How much From $1371 a person, twin share.

More details adventureworld.com.

HAWAII

Shoreline Hotel, Waikiki

The deal With a 64 kilogram luggage allowance (oh, hello!) Hawaii's famed shopping is yours for the taking home.

Stay six nights at the newly renovated Shoreline from January 17 to March 25 (with more dates later in the year) and get more than $599 in bonuses. Book by January 31. We suggest upgrading to an ocean view.

How much From $1839 a person, including airfares with Hawaiian Airlines.

More details myhawaii.com.

BLUE MOUNTAINS

Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

The deal Voted the best hotel in Australia in 2013 on TripAdvisor, stay two nights in a Heritage Suite with a private pool, all meals, some drinks and two activities a day, including horse riding and save $424 a couple.

They'll also include pre-dinner cocktails and canapes one night, and souvenir pool towels. Midweek guests get 25 per cent off spa treatments, from January 6-March 31.

How much from $1828 a person for two nights (two-night minimum stay).

Getting there 2½ hours' drive from Sydney.

More details wolganvalley.com.

NEW ZEALAND

Huka Lodge, Taupo

The deal The world's biggest movers and shakers have luxuriated in Huka Lodge, from Queen Elizabeth II (mover) to Bette Midler (shaker), but the lodge loves families, too. It's offering four nights for the price of three in its suites or cottages, ideal for multi-generational festivities, until August 31 (excluding Christmas until January 5).

How much from $44895 a person, four nights, includes all meals, drinks, activities and transfers.

Getting there Taupo is three hours' drive from Auckland.

More details + 64 7378 579, hukalodge.co.nz.

Family getaways

BALI

Semara Seminyak

The deal Petitenget is Seminyak's coolest strip of restaurants, bars and boutiques and Semara Seminyak is on the golden strip between Ku De Ta and Potato Head Beach Club.

Its spacious executive suites are great for families, sleeping up to four, and gold stars for the kids' Cubby House throwing a New Year's Eve party, so you can kick up your heels. Save 70 per cent on stays until January 31.

How much From $146 plus 15 per cent a room, a night.

More details semaraseminyak.com.

ADELAIDE

Adina Apartment Hotel Adelaide Treasury

The deal Adelaide goes off in summer, with the Tour Down Under in January and the fabulous Adelaide Festival. Stay three nights and save 15 per cent until February 28.

They'll give you a picnic blanket, so stock up at the Central Markets and head to the Botanical Gardens for a lazy lunch.

How much From $201 a night.

Getting there Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia fly direct Sydney-Adelaide.

More details adinahotels.com.au.

JAPAN

Wagaya Chalet, Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture.

The deal Spring skiing in the Japanese Alps means deliciously blue skies, no crowds and an average snow depth of 2.5 metres. This new three-bedroom chalet sleeps up to eight and is 500 metres to the lifts, with runs from beginner to Warren Miller. Save 40 per cent on this and other Hakuba accommodation in March: get seven nights' stay, five-day multi-resort lift pass, airport transfers and breakfast.

How much From $1306 a person, six adults sharing. Children's discounts available.

 

More details  ski-resorts-japan.com.

GOLD COAST

Soul Surfers Paradise

The deal Soul shoots 77 storeys up and its luxe pool is where all the chic families are soaking up the Queensland sun this summer (when they're not on the beach out front). Make time for its two-hat restaurant, Seaduction by Steve Szabo, of Palazzo Versace fame. Stay four nights, pay for three in a two-bedroom ocean view apartment until March 31.

How much from $1564 for four nights.

More details peppers.com.au.

VANUATU

Coconut Palms Resort, Port Vila

The deal A South Pacific getaway without busting the budget, and only 3½ hours' flight time. True, January is the wettest month, but regardless of weather or budget, the waters are warm, the markets are bustling and the islands are for hopping.

Stay five nights, pay four when booked by January 31, available until March 31. Includes return airfares and breakfasts.

How much From $1028.5 for five nights.

More details creativeholidays.com.

AUCKLAND

The Heritage Auckland

The deal Tap into Auckland's Polynesian vibe, picnic at a volcano's feet and kick off your exploration of Middle-Earth as NZ goes into Hobbit overdrive with the launch of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug this month.

The art deco hotel offers a stay in a family deluxe suite with free parking, breakfast for two adults and two kids, free Wi-Fi and drinks until February 9.

How much From $209 a room.

More details  heritagehotels.co.nz.

- FFX Aus

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