For our 10th wedding anniversary we took a trip to Australia!

We flew Virgin Australia Business Class from LAX to Sydney, Sydney-Cairns, then Cairns-Brisbane-LAX (redeeming Delta SkyMiles for 2 tickets). VA has lay-flat seats and a help yourself bar between rows 4 and 5. The featured wines were delicious but we were not overly impressed with the food. We visited the Star Alliance lounges in all 4 cities and while the LAX lounge is the most ritzy and has a noodle bar, the overcrowded, older Air New Zealand lounge in Brisbane had the best food. The Aussie airport lounges really had some lovely sparkling wines.

We visited Sydney the last week of November 2014. Weather was great (about 65-70 degrees)! We stayed in the Park Hyatt Sydney. The hotel is in the Rocks neighborhood of Sydney. Our room was on the 2nd floor and did NOT face the harbor but we could see the opera house from our balcony. We had a King suite and it was spacious and clean. We arrived at the hotel before check-in time, but our room was ready so were able to go right up. We were celebrating a wedding anniversary and upon check-in the front desk employee asked if we would mind having champagne delivered to the room later on. Uh, no not a problem at all! The pool area is on the top floor of the hotel and it has spectacular views of Circular Quay, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Breakfast is pricey (not included if you are not Hyatt elite). We had breakfast once in the hotel restaurant and ate elsewhere other days.

We spent one day visiting wineries outside of Sydney and saw kangaroos in the country side!

We also took a personalized tour of the Blue Mountains. We originally found this guide from TripAdvisor: http://www.bluemountainsecotours.com/ . Paul takes you about in a Land Rover Discovery so you are able to get to some places off the beaten track.

We even ate a crocodile pizza!

We visited Cairns the first week of December 2014 and stayed in the Hilton Cairns. Weather was warmer and more humid than Sydney and about 80 degrees. This hotel is not as plush as the Park Hyatt but was still a decent experience.  We had a King room on the Executive level (9) which was much smaller than the Park Hyatt as well, but still comfortable. The best thing about this hotel is the Executive lounge. It is open for both breakfast and an evening reception. Australian wines are featured along with a well stocked bar of other liquors. Hilton Honors Gold & Platinum members receive complimentary breakfast at this hotel. I am a Gold member so I am not sure how much breakfast normally costs. It is a buffet with both hot and cold items. The hotel location is great! It’s right on the marina where all the boats leave to go scuba diving and snorkeling. It’s a short walk from the Esplanade with shopping and restaurants.

We did the Skyrail tour to the Kuranda rainforest where you go up (the mountain)  on the train and back down by sky gondolas.

We went with TUSA for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef and really enjoyed it!  TUSA has less people on their trips than other companies so it was not as crowded as other boats seemed to be.   This is a real shot from our day under water!

It was a wonderful trip.  Hope the review helps your planning!
-J

 

We have so many friends and family with anniversaries in the spring time (March, April, May) that I got a little stumped in terms of gift ideas.  I mean, I embroidered a few items for gifts, but not every household will really make use of monogrammed napkins.   Fortunately, I believe fresh flowers are appropriate for every occasion and decided champagne would be a festive, no-fail gift for my friends celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.  So, since I put together a small basket to house their champagne, I then decided to just substitute another bottle of wine into gift baskets for all of the others.

For this basket, along with wine and fresh flowers, I included a dish towel and a wine stopper, as well as a card.

I just tailor the wine to their individual tastes.  And if the recipient doesn’t like wine, you can just substitute their favorite beverage instead.

I think what makes the entire package really special is the fact it’s delivered right to your front doorstep!

Give it a try and put one together for your next anniversary celebration!
-J

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