Canada's Banff National Park has had its first grizzly bear sightings, which herald the start of spring and the end of winter hibernation. Large male bears will typically emerge mid-March to search for food, while the females and the young are not seen until late April or May. But don't worry, they'll be around till September. One of the best ways to see them is from the Mt Norquay Sightseeing Chairlift where you'll see some traversing the slopes looking for safe habitats for their young.
Cruise ships to become floating hospitals?
Australian patients displaced from hospitals because of the coronavirus pandemic may be treated in cruise-ship sick bays and recover on board, if an offer from Carnival Corporation is taken up.
The world's largest cruise company, with 10 brands, has made the offer globally, according to a statement issued last week. Today, the Australian Federal Department of Health said it would be sharing the "kind offer" with states and territories. President Donald Trump has already said his officials will look into the idea.
Cruise ships have medical facilities equipped with ventilators and monitoring devices. They can also treat cardiac patients and provide up to 1000 beds quickly.
Carnival Australia operates P&O, Carnival and Princess and has a fleet of about 10 ships locally, each of which would have sick bay and medical facilities.
The line is expected to let federal and state authorities know of the offer shortly.
The offer is to treat those patients who do not have COVID-19 to "relieve pressure on land-based hospitals and free up capacity to care for cases of COVID-19".
A sky-high proposal
In case you missed it, National Proposal Day was last week. Yes, it's apparently the day most marriage proposals take place and is considered auspicious as it is the autumn equinox (where planets align and the length of day and night are equal). If you missed it, don't worry - the spring equinox is on 22 September, so put it in the calendar. With a BridgeClimb ultimate couples' package, you can book a romantic climb to propose, followed by a luxury picnic enjoyed below at Observatory Hill or over at Mrs Macquarie's Chair, gazing back at the picturesque setting of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House sails at sunset. Booking this experience presumes a "Yes"; packages start from $999.
Laid-back Tahiti for less
Luxury cruise ship Le Paul Gauguin is renowned for its laid-back style and Tahitian itineraries. It has been brought by luxury line Ponant, and she is about to get a comprehensive refit.
The family-friendly vessel, with 159 luxury staterooms and suites, is offering savings of up to $1600 on voyages from June 2020.
Be a quarantine queen
Self-isolation doesn't have to mean locking yourself away in a tiny apartment, watching TV and worrying about toilet rolls. Hotels are now offering self-isolation packages to fill their empty beds.
Oaks Hotels, which has resorts and suites in 50 Australian destinations, is advertising a "home away from home" for guests required to self-isolate for 14 days due to the current coronavirus pandemic. You can get a self-contained apartment with a kitchen in Sydney for just $109 a night. And the group is promising clean linen daily (left outside your door) and scrupulous disinfecting everywhere else. See oakshotels.com/en/self-isolation
Naturally, there are a few upmarket alternatives. Luxico, a favourite of Posh Spice and David Beckham, is suggesting luxury villas to while away those 14 days. Among its recommendations: Aja, a four-bedroom house on NSW's Far North Coast.
"Feel the magic of the peaceful Byron Bay hinterland from this lavish pavilion-style home, complete with breathtaking ocean and mountain views," extols the description on Luxico's website. "Aja offers total privacy whether you're in the outdoor bathtub, cooling off in the pool or sitting down for meal in the dining room."
A snip at $17,738 for your 14 days. See luxico.com.au
Deals of the Week
SOMETHING FOR NOW
ENJOY A STAYCATION
Save 30 per cent if you book a room at Veriu Central Hotel in Sydney on Wentworth Avenue with prices from $111 for two nights. A double Deco room can sleep two people including a child. Free wi-fi is included. The hotel is close to Hyde Park and Sydney Town Hall.
Price: from $111 for two nights
Book four nights at Heron Island on
the Great Barrier Reef and pay for only three nights. Stay includes daily breakfast, sunset drinks for two, guided island tour, daily snorkel equipment hire and complimentary return launch transfers from Gladstone to Heron Island. Sale ends 31 March 2020.
Price: from $575 per person
A SPA RETREAT
Treat yourself to a relaxing retreat at Bellinzona Resort in Victoria's Hepburn Springs. Perfect for a romantic retreat,
the deal includes buffet breakfasts and
a glass of wine each at the bar.
Price: $369 per room (valued at $689)
Escape to Melbourne on a city escape and stay at Rydges Victoria Hotel on
Little Collins St. Enjoy breakfast, dinner
for two and a late check-out. Located in the free tram zone, the hotel is a short walk from Federation Square and Melbourne's famous shopping laneways.
Price: $299 for two nights
SOMETHING FOR LATER
ADVENTURE IN NZ
Feed your adrenaline cravings on a trip to New Zealand next summer. Starting in Auckland, your 16-day tour will cover Rotorua, Mount Ruapehu and Wellington, before crossing to the South Island, visiting Lake Ohau, Queenstown and more. Try bungee jumping or canyon swinging for an adrenaline rush.
Price: from $3092 (down 10 per cent)
For some much deserved rest and recreation head to Thailand's Phuket. Spend seven days at The Nature Phuket, a five-star resort overlooking Kalim Bay. Includes breakfast and three meals, a massage and cocktails in the rooftop bar.
Price: from $1179 per person
See the Northern Lights when you visit Norway from October to February 2021. Book an Expedition Cruise immersive voyage on the new hybrid-powered Hurtigruten ship. You will be amazed by the Northern Lights Cathedral at Alta.
Price: from $4499 per person
CALL OF THE DESERT
Learn about ancient culture on an adventure to the Red Centre, starting with Uluru. Learn about bush tucker, take a guided walk or enjoy a bush weapons talk. Stay for three nights and pay for two at Ayers Rock Resort. Book by 31 March for stays up to March 2021.
Price: $300 per person
While you're dreaming of the next holiday...
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