Discount travel vouchers aren't always a good idea!

We are sitting on our verandah at home reading the Sunday papers. It is mid-May and Sydney has turned on a magnificent Autumn day - clear blue skies, and the temperature in the low 20sC. I come across a discount voucher in the travel section - three nights in a 'luxury' resort in Nelson Bay. The offer includes a two-for-one voucher for a whale watching cruise, $100 off a scenic helicopter ride and a special price for spa treatments.

Nelson Bay is about two hours north of Sydney. I conjure up mental screen shots of D and I spotting whales in the sunshine, doing a quick helicopter buzz of the Bay and indulging in a massage or two before retiring to the luxury of our condominium.

I make a fatal error. I show the advertisement to D. Refer to my post 'Be careful what you wish for!' on the perils in the Lindfield household of expressing a desire to travel anywhere.

David disappears behind his computer screen and ten minutes later announces he has bought the voucher.


Fast forward three months.  It is winter now! We arrived home from a six week roadtrip in the US less than three weeks ago. We've both been sick and we really don't feel like going anywhere but the voucher has to be used by the end of August so here we are: - on the three coldest days of the year.

The maximum temperature is 13C and it is raining - relentlessly. The 'luxury' apartment is well past the date when it should have been renovated. The furniture is old and tired, the carpets are stained, the bathrooms are dated and instead of my imagined fluffy white duvets the bed coverings consist of a thin blanket encased between two sheets made to look like a doona in the website photos. We have come across this sleight of hand quite a few times before but never in a place which markets itself to the more expensive end of the market.

Any discount we received with the voucher has been more than subsumed by the extra $50per night we paid to upgrade to a room with a view. Luckily we have been able to come mid-week otherwise there would have been a further additional cost to use the voucher on the weekend. We make a mental note to read the small print next time. The promised view of the 'stunning blue waters of Port Stephens' turn out to be nothing more than distant water glimpses.

The weather is so bad the whale watching cruises have all been cancelled, the helicopters aren't flying and the spa turns out to be ten minutes away in town. I've lost any desire for a massage.

David and I have a saying on holidays - "You pay your money and you take your chances." Whenever we feel cheated, ripped-off or just disappointed we try to remember all the great times we've had. We wouldn't appreciate the good things half as much if we didn't get a taste of the bad from time to time.

And the best thing about the Mantra Aqua at Nelson Bay - tomorrow we get to go home! In the meantime we have learnt a valuable lesson about discount travel vouchers - they aren't always such a good idea.

Pelican on watch

A brief burst of sunshine over the bay.

Lunch time - every time the fisherman moved the Pelicans looked up in perfect unison

The old Lighthouse Station

There are koala colonies in the area - we spotted this little guy in a tree by the roadside.

The water glimpses from our balcany.

This fellow turned up each day with half a dozen friends.
Note: The Mantra Aqua was extremely disappointing but Nelson Bay was idyllic. If we can find better accommodation we'll return when the weather warms up.

If anyone has a story to tell about discount holiday vouchers - good or bad - I'd love to hear from you.


  1. you win some...and lose ....a lot...The flaws of internet is the lack of guarantees in the pictured products offered!!

  2. Hi Ferdy,
    It is still better than the old days though when you just relied on luck. Internet photos may not tell the whole story but they are better than nothing. One day I might do a post on all the truly horrible hotel rooms we have stayed in over the years - lol.

    The day we left we got lucky. The sun came out. We went for a whale watching cruise and saw some whales and did a short cycle around the bay - so all was not lost.