Travel Blog

Read all about our journeys, experiences and observations from the team at Gilpin Travel.

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23 May

Hawaii is like the Gold Coast but on Steroids!

Tales from the desk of Sophie Killgour – Account Manager

1306985783_hawaii-image.jpgTo get there Air New Zealand offers two direct services a week to Honolulu. On arrival Taxis are readily available to transfer you to/from the airport.

Where to stay...

Sheraton Waikiki (resort based) located on Waikiki beach offering a range of activities, super pool and dining experiences. Or try the 3.5 star Ohana Waikiki which is fun and funky and about a 10 minute walk to Waikiki beach.

The Hilton Hawaiian village at the opposite end of Waikiki is a huge property and is a village on it’s own. Everything from restaurants to bars, penguins & Louis Vuitton stores.  Every Friday fireworks displays occur at the front of the property with the beautiful Waikiki Beach for a back drop.

Due to open soon is the Disneyland Resort located approximately one hour from Waikiki. Nearby is the JW Marriott Ihilani hotel and spa resort. The hotel features a large pool area,  lakes around the resort some even with small sharks and sting-rays and is within walking distance to the Ko Olina 18 hole golf course. 

For a right real treat splash out and stay at the opulent Royal Hawaiian (Pink Palace)! A perfect retreat for romance! Alternatively, try the Westin Moana Surf Rider at Waikiki Beach.

Getting Around...

The Waikiki Trolley is the main mode of transport and goes between all the main attractions. Jump on and off as you feel like. Passes are available through Gilpin Travel. Free Shopping Trolleys also head to Ala Moana Shopping Centre which is the largest shopping mall in America (so the locals tell me) a must to see!

Things to do ...

Hire a car for the day and head to the North Shore. A tad bohemian and known for the Rip Curl Surf Champs. The little town of Haleiwa is quaint and host to some fabulous little stores, and the best ever Mexican restaurant knows as Cholo’s.

Poly Cultural Centre approximately 45minutes out of Waikiki offers an amazing after dinner show which is almost like the Polynesian version of Cirque du Soleil! Beware—No alcoholic beverages served though!

Hawaii makes the best Mai Tai!
Translated from Tahitian to mean "Out of this World."


1 oz light rum
1/2 oz creme de almond
1/2 oz triple sec
sweet and sour mix
pineapple juice
1/2 oz Myer's® dark rum

Pour light rum, creme de almond and triple sec, in order, into a collins glass. Almost fill with equal parts of sweet and sour mix and pineapple juice. Add dark rum, a large straw, and serve unstirred.

1 May

Kuala Lumpur - 'Bustling city filled with energy'

Tales from the desk of Catherine Mathews

To get there…

1311044755_Monkey and Me.jpgMalaysia airlines offers two direct services a week to Honolulu. On arrival Taxis are readily available to transfer you to/from the airport.

Malaysia Airlines business class offers comfortable angle seating with lie-flat option for sleeping. The incline is quite small and I didn't feel like I was sliding down as some people had felt, which made it comfortable for sleeping. Pitch is enormous on this aircraft approximately a mitre and a half of leg room in front of you with slightly wider seats then economy, so you don't have to worry about jumping over your neighbour from the window seat to get out. Seat configuration is 2/3/2 with 35 seats in Business Class. I found the service on board to be fine, entertainment on board was old and needed updating. Meals on board were fine.

Getting Around…

The express train departs every 15 minutes from ground level at the airport from 0500 - 0100 hours. Very easy to use the train, central is your first stop so you won't get lost. Duration is 20-25mins compared to just over an hour in a taxi. Ticket is MYR35.00 each direction per adult. Note even at the airport there are no western toilets, just a hole in the ground. The same out at any shopping complex. Once you arrive at central then its easy to catch a cab to your hotel. Try and ask first how much it will cost to travel from central to your hotel it shouldn't cost you more then 20 -25MYR and around the city no more then 10-15MYR. One thing I will recommend to your clients is the KL HOP-ON HOP-OFF City Tour. The Bus comes around ever 30-40mins. Cost 38RM for 24 hours or 65RM for 48 hours per adult and 17RM for 24 hours or 29RM for 48 hours for a child aged5-12yrs)  with 46 major attractions to visit. I have a brochure that I'll bring back which will show all the attractions. Worth a look, double decker bus, air conditioned with an open area at the back.  Tour also includes on board commentar

Where to stay…

Checked into the Pacific Regency - Apparently this property is a 5 star. I would have rated it as a 4 or maybe a 4 1/2 star. The rooms are lovely and spacious, we were given a superior room each which has a large sep bath from shower with a huge kitchen. Extra cost if wanting to cook in your rooms. No mini bar. This hotel allows smoking in all areas and being a Muslim country they offer Halal meat. Superior Suite RM300 includes two buffet breakfast, free cover charge to Lunar Bar and Newspaper. Comp high speed Wi-Fi (5mhps). Pacific Regency Hotel to Berya times square Hotel in KL. Another 5 star property but one I would definitely recommend clients. Non smoking property offering 8 different room types from your studios to a club brooklyn suites. The property is located right in the heart of KL with a train station next door and a 12 level shopping complex right in the middle of the property. The hotel has two towers the east (the mall in the middle) and west wing. The Mall also includes a theme park, great for both adults and children, cost for adults is approx NZD20-25 with children as half price. The mall opens from 11am - 11pm Who would have thought our site inspection would have included the theme rides lol...Best site inspection ever!!


The cost for items in the malls here are no different from home just more shops and levels to look at.

Shopping hints - you have to check out Petaling Street AKA China Town. Anything from clothing, wallets, bags, shoes etc this is Genuine Fake Heaven!!

Try and go during the day, you have a better chance of bartering with the locals, at the night markets apparently it gets quite packed so you may find it hard to barter with them. An example, a local wanted to sell me 3 prada bags and 1 jimmy choo for 650MYR, I bought them for 55MYR per bag approx 20-25NZD. Armani Black Code 75ml retailed in NZ for $119 at Parallel import, I bought a 100ml here for 20NZD.

22 Apr

Oman & Dubai - Dubai is the Las Vegas of the Middle East

Tales from the desk of Penny Snell

To get there…

Emirates airlines offers… to a week.

Lucky me! I travelled Emirates via Brisbane and Dubai to Muscat in business class. Emirates offered excellent service and food, however I found the seats very uncomfortable (Plane Type??). The crew did come around with extra padding but in all it made little difference. The return home was in economy class which offered good leg room and again excellent service and a fantastic entertainment system.

Getting Around...

Taxis are readily available and as petrol is only 30c a litre taxis are not only a cheap but also safe. Train apt to city cost?

Where to stay...

There is an excellent range of hotels available in Muscat in which we sampled two. The first hotels was the City Seasons a good business hotel that is nearing completion-location. The second hotel was Shangri La Dubai excellent location a little more needed on the hotel /facilities

We were lucky enough to view The Shangri La Barr Al Jissah - a massive hotel complex in a cove just outside Muscat. Our site inspection took over 2 1/2 hours and the complex boasts three hotels (6 star luxury, 5 star, and a †4 star family hotel) not to mention a souk and spa area. Take me back!

Things to do...

1306986034_dhow.jpgDubai is the Las Vegas of the Middle East. Everything has to be the biggest! The biggest shopping centre in the world, the tallest building (Burj Khalifa), the largest indoor ski centre.

Book a hummer tour to see the city, lots of fun. We saw the Sultans guards walking a lioness, passed the gates of the Sultans palace.

The Wahiba Desert is a must to visit for one or two nights. 4WD 'dune bashing' is lots of fun and watching the sunset over the dunes is simply breathtaking

The Musendam Peninsular on a dhow cruise (local sail boat) is a great way to explore this area.


This is a safe clean country to visit with no problems when wandering the souks (markets - good buys are silver and traditional crafts) as you won't get hassled. No tipping required.

Alcohol is expensive at hotels and restaurants (can not be consumed in public) so be prepare to pay big bucks for that nice glass of wine.

Wear conservative clothes - for women especially. Long shorts to the knee and a loosing fitting t-shirt is fine (no singlet tops). For mosque visits (the Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat is a must) wear long pants, long sleeved shirt and head scarf otherwise you will be refused entry. Islam is the official religion with most following the Ibadhi sect, call to prayer is 5 times a day.

The food is fantastic - lots of humus, feta, olives, and peppers with flat Arabic bread - yum

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