Tips for travelling with kids!

Bye Melbourne! Destination HQ Travel Consultant Melissa has headed off on a family holiday to Hawaii. Being a frequent flyer, she has some great tips to share when travelling with kids!

Melissa’s Tips:

  • I always buys my kids a new backpack and fill it with a few new activities.
  • We like to fill it with a few new activities, change of clothes, a blanket and eye mask.
  • It’s always a good idea to bring your own kids headphones as earbuds provided by the airlines aren’t usually compatible with little ears.
  • And don’t forget a lollypop or something to suck on like a bottle for younger kids for takeoff and landing. This can help with ear pressure affecting them too much.
  • Familiarise your child with emergency procedures, when they are old enough of course!
  • And when the kids are happy….the parents are happy!


London Shangri-La Hotel The Shard

This hotel is incredible – and I loved it’s location. Down near London Bridge and canary wharf, where So much is happening. Borough Market, lots of sood trucks and pop-up restaurants, micro breweries etc. So hip and happening! I would definitely stay here again – perfect for younger couples or those who have travelled to […]

Cruising on Queen Elizabeth

Destination HQ had a wonderful few days at sea sailing on Queen Elizabeth with a group of our valued clients.

Cruising on the Cunard Line, Queen Elizabeth takes you back to the era of the infamous Titanic. The grand décor, formal black and white balls and traditional white glove service high tea in the ballroom with classical music in the background. This ship oozes class in an understated way and let during the day there is ample opportunity to relax by the pool or in the garden court and watch the world go by.

Stuart Ingram | Managing Director

The ship was regal and ornate – loved the photos of the Queen and all the history of her and her family. Our ocean view cabin was lovely with large picture windows and plenty ofroom for twin beds.  Food was amazing and entertainment was also really good.

The Royal Theatre was amazing and saw a Beatles Tribute one night.  The day at sea they showed one of the latest movies Instant Family which was a hit with many people.

There is one adults only pool and one for family.  There were a couple of children on board and saw the Kids Club.  We also loved the pool grill for amazing burgers in a relaxed environment.

Loretta Abernethy | Client Relations Manager

What happens when there is a real disturbance on a plane?

Stuart got to witness a live and frightening incedent when flying to Bangkok on Wednesday.

At boarding time he noticed a man being escorted onto the plane and held by three officers. So it was clear that this man was being flown from Australia not of his own free will.

Boarding and push back all went as normal but as the aircraft started its taxi to the runway two members of the flight deck crew suddenly ran down the aisle to the rear of the aircraft.

As the aircraft continued to taxi not all felt right, and sure enough as the aircraft entered the runway it became clear that the aircraft was not going to be taking off. Eventually the aircraft started to head back to the terminal after sitting on the runway for many minutes.

At that time the pilot announced that as a passenger would not adhere to the safety instructions of the cabin crew the aircraft could not take off. An announcement was then made a member by a member of the cabin crew that as a result of Australian Government regulations, Australian Federal Police would be coming onboard to take control of the aircraft.

The Australian Federal Police were on the plane within minutes and dragged off the passenger in question; who it turns out was a deportee being escorted out of our country. He refused to wear his seat belt and then proceeded to attack his escorts.

This whole exercise as frightening as it was, was handled by the airline in a thoroughly professional manner, that ensured passenger safety was not compromised in any way. The cabin and flight crew carried out their duties as you would hope their training has prepared them for. The cabin remained calm at all times and any inconvenience was kept to a minimum.

The whole incident demonstrates the importance of flying with a reputable airline who take the issue of passenger safely and security with the utmost importance.

Written by Stuart Ingram, Destination HQ Managing Director

Stuart – Holland America Line Mexican Riviera Cruise

I just returned from a 7 night Mexican Riviera Cruise on Holland America from San Diego. And wow wow wow is all I can say.

Stuart Ingram

The 7 night itinerary has 3 days at sea and 3 days on land. Ports of call are Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos/Cabo San Lucas/Mataclan. All very different and interesting places to see.

A great way to start or end your cruise is a stay at the US Grand Hotel San Diego staying on our Signature rate exclusive to Destination HQ.

There was a really good mix of guests onboard. Lots of USA families. HAL cater really well for kids with CLUB HAL and the kids all seemed to have a blast.

What is there to like about HAL?

  • great mid size ships (15 in the fleet) ranging from 800 to 2300 passengers
  • largest balcony cabins in their class
  • superb food
  • faultless service 
  • 6 different dining options to chose from and none ever seemed too busy 
  • HAL have aligned themselves with some really cool brands such as Americas Test Kitchen, BBC Earth, Billboard records. Makes for a really fun cruising experience.
  • The show each evening was a countdown of the Billboard record charts.

I have to say HAL does cruising so much better than many of their competitors – they have been doing it for 145 years and it shows. Service throughout was just faultless. Crew are all Indonesian or Philippino and deliver first class service at all times. I thoroughly recommend this cruise to anyone. I just loved every minute of it.

Stuart Ingram

Managing Director Destination HQ

Stuart was the winner of the NTIA award for Best Travel Agency Manager in Australia in 2017. Stuart has vast industry experience having worked in the airline, wholesale and retail travel agency sectors of the industry. Stuart loves to travel and to share his excitement and passion for travel with anyone he meets. Having travelled to Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, North America and throughout Australia/NZ, Stuart has a wealth of knowledge. His favourite destinations are London, Paris, San Francisco, New York City, Berlin, Tokyo, Hong Kong and the Maldives. He has also cruised with Oceania, Viking, Uniworld, Avalon, Seabourn, Silversea, Holland America, Windstar and Celebrity Cruises – just to name a few!

Contact Stuart to book your next holiday

Melissa – A family holiday to Club Med Kani, Maldives

Melissa George

I recently stayed at Club Med Kani, Maldives for a multi-generation family holiday. All in all – we LOVED it!


We flew Melbourne/Singapore/Male. They are still the most polished airline, in my opinion.

We were aboard the A380 on the long haul flights. Nice, wide seat with good recline (even in the last row!!). Great service. Food pretty good and great packs given to the kids.

We had a 4 hour transit in Singapore in both directions and it was actually fine. I can highly recommend WOLFGANG PUCK’S THE KITCHEN CAFÉ for any transit meals – excellent quality and great coffee, too!

We made the most of the Singapore Airlines  initiative of all transit pax being give SGD$20.00 to spend within the airport (retail online, not food and beverage).

Singapore to Male we were on a small Silk Air plane. No in-flight entertainment on board so passengers need to download an app and you can then access movies etc on your own device whilst in flight.

This worked fine for us and we were advised to download the app before boarding the aircraft.


What can I say but WOW! The Island is only a short (20/25 min) speedboat ride from the airport.

It’s just so beautiful and the welcome from all the G-O’s is wonderful. Club Med staff are called “GOs”, or Gentils Organisateurs (Gracious/Nice Organizers). Everyone gets a bracelet on arrival that also opens your room so no need to carry anything around if you don’t want to.

Rooms are relatively basic but about 90% of them have direct beach views/access so you can book a lead-in with confidence as it’s a great product.

The food was of a pretty good standard throughout – we ate at all the outlets. The drinks were also great – if anything, bar tenders were more generous than anything and I definitely didn’t feel like they were watered down In any way. It’s great having this already included!

The Kids Club was relatively small but so well done. They offered a wide variety of activities from Masterchef classes, treasure hunts, sandcastle building comps, movie nights, funfairs and being part of the nightly show. It was great for my boys to get to know kids from different countries and cultures.

Our favourite theme nights were white night where they set up all the table on the beach and have a band playing and a water fountain etc. And then glow night where we had faces painted in glowing paint and there was a really fun dance party.

Activities included are varied as well. There are 2 snorkel trips a day (included) for an hour each in the morning and afternoon. They visit all different sites in the immediate area via boat. You do have to pass a (simple) swimming test to participate.

They also have diving, SUP’s, catamaran’s, kayaks, beach volleyball, badminton, botche, soccer pitch etc so always something going on.

There is a good surfbreak accessible from the Island but make I recommend booties are taken as the coral is SHARP (My husband learned that the hard way!!).

The only thing we paid for the whole trip was a massage. A 50 min foot and leg massage USD$110.00 – not cheap but pretty standard for luxury resorts.

And we also paid for private dining with lobster and champagne on the beach for a special  birthday celebration (USD$125.00/head).

Even a couple of doctor visits were included.

All in all – we LOVED it! It’s a great value Maldives property for everyone – families/kids/couples. The G-O’s really make the experience – they really are amazing!!

Our catch-cry for the whole time we were away was “HOW GOOD IS THIS?!!!”

Melissa George

I began my career in the travel industry in 2005. In my time I have travelled to nearly every continent: Asia including Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and China; USA & Canada; South Pacific including Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu; Africa including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana and Europe. My favourite destinations are New York City or Cape Town; both vibrant, chic, modern cities with lots to do and yummy food to eat! I also specialise in family travel, recently returning from my own multi-generation holiday at Club Med Kani, Maldives!


Kate – A Journey through Sri Lanka

Kate Traynor

I just got back from a wonderful 11 nights in Sri Lanka. This country really exceeded all of my expectations.

I loved it and can’t wait to return!!

I was a bit nervous on recommending Sri Lanka before,  but now I know it really is a country for everyone!

Its so untouched which blew me away.

Its clean! The people of Sri Lanka thrive on having nice homes and having jobs so very little homeless people. 95% are educated, and it felt very safe for travelling.

Sri Lankan Airlines 

  • Easy check in
  • 2-4-2 configuration
  • Bright blue interior, a bit old looking
  • Seats the seat pitch is a bit off so your neck sits forward. Uncomfortable if you were sitting the whole time, so good to get up and stretch during the flight.
  • Staff friendly and attentive
  • I had a row to myself at the back of the aircraft as it was an empty flight
  • New plane A330 started in October, so these things may improve
  • Drink service came about half an hour after take-off. 
  • They walked up the aisles to offer and then came back down and offered a second round to everyone which was good
  • Food service was efficient. 
  • The chicken vegetable curry was delish.

Negombo- little Rome

  • 35 minutes from Colombo
  • A lot of tourists leave Colombo straight away and stay in this area
  • Portugal Dutch and Italian background
  • Many churches around


  • Visited local fish, fruits and veg markets
  • The Home of the Ancient Kingdom- temples
  • TIP when you know you are going to be visiting temples
  • Wear thongs as you have to enter temples in bare foot
  • Take a light scarf and wear something that covers your knees

Ulagalla resort, Uga – Beautiful resort

  • 5 star luxury resort- private standing villas with private plunge pool
  • I would recommend a minimum of 3 nights stay here – from this area in Sri Lanka you can go and visit Sigiriya Rock.
  • Activities include bike riding, horseback riding, archery, safaris, spa treatments, Helipad on land
  • Restaurant with Aussie Sri Lankan chef – This hotel restaurant by far had the best Sri Lankan food I had all trip
  • Al la carte style breakfast which was also 10/10

Dambulla – We stayed at 2 different hotels in this area.

The Amaya Resort

  • 4 star hotel on the lake
  • Beautiful open space with lots of greenery.
  • Large rooms – basic Sri Lankan style rooms but great for families
  • Big pool and good bar/restaurant area
  • Good buffet breakfast with lots of variety

Fresco Water Villas

  • This was the only 3 star hotel we stayed at in Sri Lanka and you can definitely tell the difference between a 3 star and a basic 4 star. 
  • I wouldn’t be comfortable putting my clients in a 3 star property in Sri Lanka. 
  • The staff were all really nice but the rooms were smelly, water pressure wasn’t great, insects in rooms etc. 
  • This hotel is often used for groups. When 2 x 50 seated buses arrived at 5pm there was no chance of getting on the Wi-Fi. T
  • The rooms are very close to the lobby, pool and restaurant so very noisy.

Sigiriya Rock – Highlight of my trip

Make sure this is done first thing, this is because of heat and crowds. You will need your passport on this day for valid identification. Surreal moment climbing the rock. Magical views and so much history. It’s so much more than a rock which I was unaware of.

Takes about 1.5 hours to do the whole climb and back again.

Village Tour

A fun tour that I would recommend. Consists of catamaran tour on the lake, meet the village people and do a cooking lesson- eat a local cuisine.

Santani Wellness Resort – Kandy area

  • This hotel is my everything.
  • I love the whole concept of this Wellness Resort.
  • Min 7 nights stay (there was a lady here who was on her 14th night when we arrived. She was practically floating she looked so relaxed and calm)
  • Meet a Doctor on arrival to chat about what you want to get out of your stay
  • Based on what you want to achieve- detox, caffeine, alcohol, weight loss etc
  • Chef & Doctor prepare a meal plan for you
  • Includes yoga and meditation twice a day, nature walks between 4-24km long, thermal pools, 3 course breakfast, 3 course lunch, 4 course dinner.
  • Amazing Day Spa. Treatments can be included based on your package.
  • Client view rooms from $650USD per night
  • 1.5 hours to Kandy
Welcome to Santani Wellness Resort

Kandy – Cool city to visit once

  • Busy loud city surrounded by the lake
  • Cute houses and guest houses
  • Famous for the Tooth Temple
  • I would recommend 2 nights max here
  • You can also base yourself and do the rock from Kandy

OZO Hotel- 4 star

  • Clean, Large hotel. Many groups stayed there
  • 5 min drive in a tuk tuk to town
  • Rooms overlooking lake
  • Pool, bar, gym
  • Bunnik and Gate 1 Travel Groups were all staying here


On our drive to Nuwara Eliya we stopped at a Tea Planation.  It had amazing views of the tea plantations but I would do research into what Tea Plantation you visit. Tea Bush is where we visited and was very basic. 

There are tea plantations throughout Sri Lanka where you can help the women in the factories with their tea making process etc.

Tea was so yum- spent $100 on tea to take home! Also on this drive, we stopped at a herbs and spice market. I would also recommend this. I bought so much Chilli!

Nuwara Eliya 

I would say 2 nights here, depending on what time you arrive. This is where you do the Horton Plains Trek. It’s a 1.5 hour drive, trek for 2 hours and 1.5 hour back. Meant to be one of the best view points in Sri Lanka. We didn’t get to do it but I will go back to do this.

Train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella -3 hours

This is a must do! Everyone needs to experience this in their itinerary.

It’s only 80c for this ride.  You can just rock up at the station and hope you get a seat. For people who want a seat this needs to be booked about 2 months prior. You are amongst the locals, windows open. One side view is of the tea plantation fields and the other side is a rain forest.

Yala National Park

Home of the Leopards. Best time for Safari is between March-July. Do not visit in other months as you will see nothing on Safari!! Word from our Safari Guide!

Chena Huts

I stayed at Chena Huts…seriously check this place out. This is part of the Uga properties.

  • Defiantly need min 2 nights here
  • You would do one morning and then maybe an evening safari.
  • This property is located on the beach
  • 15 individual huts with private pools
  • Huge space but only allows max 2 people. 
  • For a family, they will allow another bed if child is under 14.
  • This property starts at like $1600USD per night.

Cheaper option in Yala which I was recommended is the Cinnamon Wild property. This is a 4 star on the beach and has its own Crocodiles. Pricing is from $250USD


Galle is a really cool town. I would stay here for 2-3 nights. Inside the Galle Forte there a restaurants, cafes, homeware shops. The beach is okay here but it is quite rough with lots of rocks.

You can either choose to stay in the Fort or outside. Staying inside the Fort I can imagine the properties being tiny. We stayed at a property called at the Amari which was about 5 minutes from town.

Beach front resort, 3 large pools. Rooms facing the beach. Large Balconies

Tips for Sri Lanka

  • Always have small cash on you- tipping is essential
  • Snacks for long car rides – some days we drove for 5.5 hours
  • Keep light pair pants in carryon luggage for visiting temples
  • Make sure you know that some guides will want to them to a Sari Shop, Gem Stone Factories etc along their way in the car. Just need to be firm with guide and say NO.
  • Sri Lanka requires a visa, online easy process 35USD

Kate Traynor

I started my career in travel in 2013, after studying Events and Tourism at University. I enjoy all aspects of the travel industry; from the amazing travel experiences and the beautiful people you meet along the way to the holidays you book and plan for your clients. I have travelled to Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, USA & Europe. My favourites would have to be Mexico and the Caribbean as I am such a beach lover, and would follow Summer around the world if I could. I also went on an African safari this year and it was incredible!

Stuart – A weekend in Lisbon

Stuart Ingram

I just had the weekend in Lisbon. I would recommend 4 nights here as lots to see and do and it’s incredibly cheap! And the egg tarts are amazing and cheap (6 for 5 Euro). 

I flew Thai Airways to London and connected to TAP Air Portugal.

Very seamless as both operate in terminal 2 so couldn’t have been easier or faster.

Very impressed with Thai Airways Economy class on the A380 they use to London, Paris & Frankfurt.  Believe it is amongst the best economy class for sure.

You can combine Lisbon with Porto and the beaches too.

The people in Portugal are lovely and it’s a very cost effective way to spend a week in Europe or more.

Suggested touring:

  • Lisbon walking tour with Urban Adventures
  • Sintra day trip
  • Fatima

I stayed at Avenida Palace which is number 6 on Trip Advisor.

  • location couldn’t be better as you are right on the square
  • best egg tart shop 150m away
  • heaps of cheap good food in the immediate vicinity
  • can be in the old or new town in 5 minutes
  • taxis are super cheap here ($11 euro from the airport or airport city taxi was 20 euro one way)


Sophie & Janelle – Anantara Maldives & Niyama Private Island Maldives

Our experience in the Maldives really lived up to our expectations. The water is next level amazing! All we can say is WOW! And if you haven’t been, you need to get there!!

Janelle & Sophie


A 35 min speedboat from Male Airport will take you to Anantara Dhigu.  It is then also connected to both Anatara Veli (Adults only) & Naladhu Private Villas.

Anantara Dhigu is a small intimate island.

Beach villa: The beach villas have recently been refurbished, they are lovely!! They all have direct access to the beach. The beach is stunning and perfect for swimming in. You could easily spend an entire day on the beach and in the water! Some of the beach villas have private pools. If you are happy to pay the extra then you should go the plunge pool option.

Overwater bungalow: Wow! Just wow!! These are incredible. Perfect for a first time traveller to the Maldives. 

Anantara Dhigu is a great family option for younger families (a kids club is also available). We think families with teenagers would run out of things to do on a longer stay.

We loved the breakfast and had dinner at their signature restaurant Salt, Fire Grill which was delicious!!

  • Dolphin cruise (1hr) –  ($80USD per person). Certainly worth it! We saw so many dolphins!
  • The day spa on Dhigu is also incredible!!!!

Anantara Veli (adults only)

  • Connected to Dhigu by a small boat.
  • Veli is a great alternative if you want to get away from children. Veli guests can still enjoy Dhigu and adult guests from Dhigu can still go across to Veli.
  • Veli also has the overwater bungalows and beach bungalows, however we preferred the bungalows at Dhigu.
  • You can eat on both islands, which is good as the islands are small so you can mix it up. Veli had a really lovely feel and good ambiance.

Naddhu Private Island Villas (connected by to Veli by a private bridge)

  • These are huge! The villas are amazing, very very private. These are for the families or couples who literally do not want to see ANYONE. All villas have their own plunge pools and direct access to the beach, they also come with their own butler. No over water villas on this Island. Naddhu guests can go to Veli & Dhigu at any time, however Veli & Dhigu guests cannot go to Naddhu Villas.

It is a good option if you are wanting a very private stay – you literally do not need to leave the villa if you don’t want!

Anantara Dhigu in general was small and felt like a true island resort experience. Beaches are beautiful and the resort had a relaxed, homely atmosphere.


  • 35 min sea plane from Male.
  • There is also a domestic airport 5 minutes away by speedboat. Great option if you are uneasy on a seaplane.
  • 2 connected islands (CHILL & PLAY)

Deluxe Overwater villa:

  • Private pool, stunning bathroom! The toilet and shower are open to the elements and not ideal when it’s raining and windy
  • Rooms are spacious and certainly have the wow factor. All Villas come with their own butler and each person gets a bike to get around
  • Butlers take around in buggies if you don’t want ride your bike. They top up your fridge with free homemade ice-cream daily

Beach Bungalows:

  • Direct access to the beach and some with private pools.
  • Amazing outdoor bathrooms! I imagine it would be like showering in the jungle. Beach is great and swimmable.

Family villa:

  • Family villa has a separate family room attached – FITS A  FAMILY OF 5!!

Kids Club

  • Niyama is really catering towards the families. 
  • Kids club up to 11 yo. They also have a program for 12mth- 2years aprox 20usd per hour, capped at $100usd per day.
  • Teenagers have a ‘chill’ area with xbox, pool table, darts, movies.


  • Free snorkelling, paddle-boards & Kayaks. 
  • Surf break! There is a surf break off the island. You can go to ‘Surf Shack’ and have a drink while watching people surf. This part of the island feels more like Sorrento back beach than the Maldives. Which is pretty cool. Not what you expect when you go to the Maldives.
  • Resort is large, it was at 90% capacity and didn’t feel it.


  • Food was AMAZING!!
  • Tribal – African Cuisine, with a full Africa theme (even served by Africans) Best ribs I’ve ever had!!
  • Nest – Asian Cuisine. Nest is built into the trees. It is one of the most amazing restaurants I’ve been to. You are literally eating in the jungle, unfortunately pictures wouldn’t work as it was too dark. The food was delish too!!
  • Edge – Fine dining. Built on a pontoon. Also has an underwater restaurant and night club. We liked the other two better.
  • Breakfast – was good (but we preferred Anantara Dhigu)

Would highly recommend a ½ board option. If we were paying for our dinners they would have exceed $300usd per dinner (not including wine). We really stress the importance of a ½ board option.

RECAP Anantara Dhigu & Niyama

Dighu has a lovely relaxed feel. Small but didn’t feel too small. Good food & service. Overwater bungalows were amazing. Perfect for couples or young families. Perfect for a 5-7 night stay.

Niyama is a completely different concept. Bigger with more activities and restaurant options. Would be perfect for a 7 night stay. Catering to teenagers aswell as young families.

Beach villa Vs Overwater villa

Overwater villa is perfect for a first timer who really want that full experience. However in my opinion I think a beach villa is just as good. Its so nice to be able to walk out of your villa onto the stunning beach. So if your budget doesn’t stretch to  an overwater option, I would book a beach villa experience with confidence.

Sri Lankan Airlines

  • On way over we had the old A330. Like other reviews from my colleagues, the seats are uncomfortable.
  • On the way home we had the new A330. Seats were MUCH better! The plane also has WIFI and allows international roaming on your phone.
  • Entertainment was lacking and food was ok
  • Service was great

Maldives seasons:

Best time to travel:

  • December-March


  • May – October

We had one day of rain ALL DAY, although we were happy to hangout in our villa, I can imagine if you had a week of rain it might ruin your experience.

Click to read more on when to go to the Maldives

Our experience in the Maldives really lived up to our expectations. The water is next level amazing! All I can say is WOW! And if you haven’t been, you need to get there!!!

Sophie Anderson

I began my career at 2010 after discovering my passion for travel while living and working in Canada for 2 years. Since then I have travelled to the USA, Mexico, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Fiji, Croatia, Italy and New Zealand. I love to experience new things, learn about different cultures and, of course, taste food from around the world. Africa is also one of my favourite destinations I‘ve been to. I’m a Ski Expert and have travelled to Club Med Ski resorts in both France and Japan.

Janelle King

My love for travel developed from growing up in Hong Kong and Singapore – my Dad was based there as a pilot. I started working as a travel agent in the 1990’s and travelled extensively through Europe, and more recently through Asia with my young family. A family highlight was 4 weeks in America including Disneyworld and New York. My favourite cities are New York, Prague & Paris. My most amazing trips have been on safari in Kenya and visiting the amazing palaces in Russia. I travelled to Myanmar this year on a luxury cruise and tour which was amazing. My bucket list would be The Kimberley & Patagonia in Chile.

Niyama Overwater Villa

Melissa – Sri Lanka Luxury, a Destination HQ small group journey

I escorted a Destination HQ small group journey in Sri Lanka.  We stayed in some of the most luxurious properties in Sri Lanka, and got to experience the beauty of this up and coming travel destination.

Melissa George


Really impressed with this direct service between Melbourne and Colombo. Check in was relatively fast and efficient. They do offer a “bid for upgrade” function online, up to 36 hours before departure. Minimum bid on this sector was $750USD. Business class upgrade at check in was $850.00. Great to keep in mind!

The aircraft was clean and modern. Two hot meal services were served on the flight. I was impressed with the standard of the food. Throughout the flight water and other drinks were offered frequently.  In-flight entertainment was a touch screen and a great selection of new and old movies/tv shows were available.

Actual seat in economy was a bit uncomfortable due to a head rest that juts-out.

On arrival in Colombo we had the VIP express arrival booked. We still needed to line up at passport control, which took a long time (around 45 mins) but after this we were whisked away to a holding lounge, where we were presented with drinks and more food whilst they collected our baggage. We were then led out a back entrance straight to our van so skipped the whole arrivals chaos! 

Our Local operator was excellent throughout. Given that Sri Lanka loses 3000 people a year or road accidents, you need to ensure you have a safe driver – as well as a personable and knowledgeable tour guide..


Only a 10 minute drive to the airport (Colombo city is 45 mins to an hour away) Really convenient for Melbourne passengers arriving in late. Nice hotel, modern, but nothing spectacular. Breakfast was nice, buffet style with an eggs station too.


Amazing, expansive resort central to Dambulla, Sigiriya and Anaradapura.

Gorgeous little bungalows (all with private plunge pools) scattered over hectares. There are golf carts available to get you around the resort, or you can use the bicycles provided. 

It is quite isolated, so guests need to eat within the resort. Food was outstanding! A great variety of Sri Lankan and Western dishes. They also offer activities like horse riding, kayaking etc.

We did the cooking class which was one of the highlights of the trip. We were given aprons to take home, a certificate and recipe book – all really nice touches 🙂 highly recommend this property!


This boutique property, which is 8km out of Kandy City, is a refurbished colonial homestead with only 8 rooms. Each room is named after a butterfly and no two rooms are the same.

Although the rooms are gorgeous, this hotel won’t suit everyone. I stayed in the BLACK RAJA suite, one of the largest, but it had a Tub sitting in the middle of the floor (not great in the middle of the night!) and there was no privacy at all in the bathroom.

The grounds of the hotel are beautiful. And the food was excellent.


Basic train but wonderful scenery through all the tea plantations. It’s about a 2.5 hour journey.

Be warned when booking this that reservations are very difficult to confirm (we only got tickets 3 days prior to departure despite it being booked months in advance) well worth the effort though!


Highlight of the trip. This place is truly heaven on earth!

Norwood is one of the largest properties with 6 bedrooms. I had the master suite “Hazel” and it was incredible! This property is all inclusive and has its own Butler, chef etc 

Each day the chef comes out to discuss possible menus for the day. The food was top notch with lots of breakfast selections, 3 course lunch and dinner and an afternoon tea option too.

There are lots of walks available around the area, as well as mountain biking, kayaking etc for those who like to be active. We did a tour of the tea factory and learnt about the process of tea making, which was very interesting.

We also did a beautiful walk through a local village and up through the plantations themselves – another highlight 🙂


Historically significant walled fort on the South Coast of Sri Lanka. Has a very “hipster” vibe inside with plenty of trendy eateries and some shopping.

Enjoyed our time here at Taru Villa’s. I loved the walking tour around the fort, which was both educational and hilarious, with Shanjei. Definitely book this for your if you have a chance!

I also loved meeting a Red Hill boy who has set up a boutique guest house and coffee bar, also within the fort. Really great drip coffee (Vietnamese style) and iced tea during the day and cocktails and live music of an evening. It’s called THE PRINCE OF GALLE – they don’t have a website but you can check out some info here

Definitely worth a visit if you  are in the area!

The accommodation was a private villa inside the fort itself. Wasn’t my favourite property on the itinerary but still lovely, all the same.


We were lucky enough to stay at Uga Escapes here – a beautiful boutique property that offered sanctuary from the busy city!

Only 11 suites (all very large in size with a lovely bathroom) – amazing, personal service and food to die for. Really nice pool, too – and one of the few properties I stayed at with a gym!

One of the best meals of the trip was at their in-house restaurant – worth booking even if you aren’t staying here.

Other places we can recommend for dining:



About Melissa 

I began my career in the travel industry in 2005. In my time I have travelled to nearly every continent: Asia including Bali, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and China; USA & Canada; South Pacific including Tahiti, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu; Africa including South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana and Europe. My favourite destinations are New York City or Cape Town; both vibrant, chic, modern cities with lots to do and yummy food to eat! I also specialise in family travel, recently returning from my own multi-generation holiday at Club Med Kani, Maldives!