Are your clients flying in to Melbourne? Joanna Booth gives you the lowdown on Australia’s coolest city, plus itinerary planning tips
With a whole host of flights from the UK, it’s highly likely that your clients will be flying in, or out, of Melbourne. The city is known for its slick and sophisticated side – seen as Australia’s cultural capital, the fashion, art, theatre, comedy, shopping and nightlife are enough to make most visitors want to up sticks and move there.
Ensure your customers make the most of things by guiding them in the right direction with hotel choices and sightseeing options, and also by tailor-making their time in the surrounding area.
WHERE TO STAY
Save: Great three-star options include the Quality Hotel Batman’s Hill, a short walk from the entertainment complex, and the centrally located Mercure Melbourne Treasury Gardens. The Ibis Melbourne has apartments that Kuoni recommends for families, and is ideally positioned near the central shopping area and theatre district.
Spend: Mid-range favourites include the Mantra on Russell, close to Chinatown and great retail outlets, the Crown Promenade, in the south bank’s Crown Complex where there’s a casino and cinema. Close to the Yarra River, try Clarion Suites or Citigate Melbourne – the latter has stunning river views and is new for Austravel this year.
Splurge: Also on the banks of the Yarra is The Langham, a refined and elegant property that is a sister to the deluxe London hotel that shares the name. It’s 10 minutes’ walk from the city centre, but is surrounded by restaurants and is noted for the quality of its spa and afternoon tea. Boutique property the Lyall is Bridge & Wickers’ choice, set in South Yarra – the equivalent of staying in Chelsea rather than the West End.
WHAT TO DO
Federation Square and Southbank are the hubs for museums and galleries. The Botanic Gardens are a tranquil retreat, and clients can stroll on the banks of the Yarra River, or even kayak down it – a guided paddle costs £72 with Do Something Different. Shoppers will find great boutiques in the Fitzroy neighbourhood, and the city’s multi-cultural make-up has given it a gourmet scene to rival anywhere in the world.
Pre-book your clients a few activities before they leave so they can make the most of the city – and you can earn commission.
Attraction World’s Morning Marvellous Melbourne hits all the main sights from £46 per adult and £23 per child, and for those who like to pedal, Qantas Holidays offers a Classic Bike Tour from £69. It is also offering either the bike tour or a Lanes and Arcades Tour free to clients who book a three-night stay at Travelodge Docklands, Crown Promenade or Crown Metropole plus a Great Ocean Road or Southwest Touring Triangle self-drive (book by April 30). For a bird’s-eye view, Kuoni offers a balloon flight over the city from £185, and Cox & Kings offers a helicopter tour from £212.
Austravel has reintroduced the popular half-day Neighbours tour – a must for any fans of the soap and only £34. Gold Medal has a Sport Lovers Tour from £71 that visits all the top sporting spots, including Flemington Race Course and Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Bridge & Wickers has a couple of tours for those who like the finer things in life. Hidden Secrets will lead shoppers to the very best stores on the city’s narrow lanes and alleyways, and Melbourne After Dark is like having a local friend to show them the best restaurants and nightlife spots.
Day trips outside the city include visits to the wineries of the Yarra Valley – Anzcro offers a tour that includes transport, tastings at four wineries and lunch from £75.
Phillip Island and its cuter-than-cute penguins are also hugely popular – Do Something Different has a private day tour for £116 that includes a priority viewing position on the beach, plus a visit to a winery, a chocolate factory and a koala conservation centre.
Melbourne is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road, which, with the Grampian Mountains and spectacular coastal scenery, is one of the world’s most scenic drives. It can be done as a day tour, but do urge clients to spend longer there so they really make the most of it. Three to four days is the optimum length of time, so they can spend time en route in pretty towns such as Lorne, Port Fairy and Apollo Bay, as well as seeing sights including the iconic Twelve Apostles.
If time is scarce or they’d prefer not to drive, Austravel has a small group escorted package, the two-day Great Ocean Road Overnight Tour, which starts from £382. The operator’s five-day self-drive itinerary between Melbourne and Adelaide starts at £380, using three-star accommodation.
The Great Ocean Road is west of Melbourne, but to the east lie prospects that are just as likely to entice clients. The triangle of Phillip Island, the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley create another great three-day itinerary. The Yarra Valley is one of the world’s finest wine-growing areas, and as well as tastings at cellar doors, clients can also make the most of the foodie scene that has grown up around the vines, dining at wonderful restaurants.
Phillip Island is one for wildlife-lovers, with penguins, seals and koalas to coo over. There’s more on the Mornington Peninsula, with kangaroos, dingos and wallabies at Moonlit Sanctuary, plus coastal walking trails and stunning beaches alongside pretty towns with antique shops, galleries and cafes.
Gold Medal offers a three-night Melbourne Surrounds self-drive from £455.
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