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VINE VOICEon 26 October 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Firstly, and let's get this out of the way, Mr and Mrs Smith books are not like a lonely planet. The book only covers 33 hotels and there is nothing in the way of budget accommodation. What you do get is an detailed look at some of the nicest boutique accommodation and hideaways (from slightly expensive to 'what the...') in Australia and New Zealand. You won't be able to book your holiday from reading this book only, but it sure will give you some great ideas on where to go with your beloved.

The book itself is beautiful, with gorgeous photographs, great ideas for day trips (if you find the energy to get out of bed of course) and nicely written descriptions.

The book also comes with a membership card that gives you access to deals and special offers from the website, which includes discounts on luxury brands. Well worth a look.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Great if you're planning a trip down under and don't mind spending £400 a night on accommodation. for the rest of us who would never be able to afford that, it does look great on the coffee table or in the downstairs loo. might also give good ideas about where you could go, and then you could do your own research to find a cheaper alternative!
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VINE VOICEon 20 August 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Overall this is a great 343 page travel guide to a select group of 33 hand picked luxury boutique type hotels in Australia and New Zealand. Two thirds of the book covers Australia. Parts of this travel guide are practically unreadable because of the ant size text and coloured writing on coloured backgrounds. Especially the duck egg blue on some dulux colour chart shade of purple. The page margins are also a complementing and contrasting different block of colour. In presentation it is as far away from glossy mass market holiday brochures as it aims to be. The matt rough pages lead to fuzzy print and some stunning wow photos of New Zealand in particular left me thinking I wish this book wasn't so matt, clashing paint chart coloured and arty so the photos were better. It's a kind of dull fuzzy view of hotels and scenery in Australia and New Zealand.
It would be a nice present for anyone considering a holiday to the other side of the world and it has a black credit card style Mr & Mrs Smith 'Blacksmith' card with an explanation of how to upgrade to a silver 'Silversmith' or gold 'Goldsmith' card (but no prices). I assume you don't have to announce you are a Blacksmith, Silversmith or Goldsmith on arrival at the hotel. By activating and using the complementary Blacksmith card you get benefits such as spa vouchers or a bottle of wine on arrival at your hotel (although the last page small print states hotels do not have to honour this) and access to their 'vault loyalty' scheme which I deduce gives you 2% of your money back to spend on your next Mr & Mrs Smith break (as a Silvermith upgrade doubles your earning power to 4%, Goldsmith 5%).
The text, if you can read it, is as friendly and informative as you'd want it to be. You get an independent 'what I did on my holiday' and honest impressions review from a Mr and Mrs Smith couple and occasionally their children. The book does helpfully list the family friendly hotels.
There is a 'Need to Know' section which covers essential information like:
number of rooms in the hotel,
rates (mostly eye watering but starting at AU$100 to +AU$1000 a night),
check out times (which can also often be extended for an eye watering rate), facilities in rooms and the hotel,
children (whether allowed or not and costs of cots and babysitting)
'Also' which gives something like a spa treatment recommendation or info like the spa is 'a serene, white three-storey space scented with ylang-ylang and mandarin'.
'In the Know' section:
Our favourite rooms (ie the best ones)
Hotel bar info
Hotel restaurant info
Top table info (ie best table to sit at)
Room service
Dress code
Local knowledge

and finally a local eating and drinking section.

There are also guides to the locations the hotels are situated in/near containing info like:

Getting there
Local knowledge - taxis including phone numbers, packing tips, recommended reads
Do go/ don't go - best/worst times of the year to visit
Worth getting out of bed for - views, art and culture, activities , daytripper, children, walks, perfect picnic spots, shopping, something for nothing and don't go home without, local specialities, best beach
Packing tips are brief e.g. 'A pair of designer thongs (flip-flops) and big shades to look the part; glam gear for BritVegas by night'.

A helpful diary section also shows which festivals and events are held at what times of year.

The guide also has a double page spread of email addresses and phone numbers e.g airports, tourist boards, taxis
6 pages introducing the reviewers and Mr & Mrs staff and pages telling you all the other guides you can buy.
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VINE VOICEon 19 February 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've heard of the Mr and Mrs Smith brand before now and I know it's well thought of but this is the first time I've had anything from them. The book was shrink-wrapped and opening it released a chemical smell that took some time to dissipate. The book is quite bendy as it's a softback, two pages in you get a little black plastic card with 'Smith' signed in pink on the front and the reservations number on the back. The book is printed on coloured paper and most of the text is white on a green, brown or purple background. It's very colourful, with some wonderful photos of hotel exteriors, rooms and the surrounding landscapes. This book is full of high end, expensive hotels so if you're planning a budget trip it may not be for you. It does make for interesting reading, how the other half live.

The first thing I did was talk out my little black 'Smith' card, the second thing was turn to the back, looking for the printer and publisher details (it's printed in China, by the way) and there I found a note that surprised me. "Hotels. The hotels featured in the Mr and Mrs Smith collection have paid a fee towards the costs of research and booking administration." This rather concerned me, is a guide really independent when there is a financial relationship with those included in it? It does go on to day "Inclusion is by invitation only.; hotels cannot buy their way into the collection. Mr and Mrs Smith is funded by private investment and is independent of all hotels." so perhaps all is well.

The website membership card is an interesting addition and registering it appears to have given me GBP6 credit in their 'vault' cash back scheme. The book and blurb mention the hotel booking privileges but have a look at the website before you get too excited; it's very nice but the range of hotels and cottages on offer is select to say the least. For example they don't sell any hotels in Glasgow and North Yorkshire only has three approved properties. This is not going to be a complete travel service but the hotels do look exceptionally good.
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This is a lovely book for browsers and dreamers, but, for those without deep pockets, it may be of limited practical value.

Actually, that's not very fair. Some of the recommended hotels are perfectly affordable as long as you're not looking for budget accommodation, and others would be well worth the price for a few luxurious nights on a long trip.

Mind you, only 33 hotels are covered, so you may have to plan your travel around the hotel locations rather than planning your travel and then looking for hotels. But that may be no bad thing - some of the hotels here could tempt you into visiting lovely places you might otherwise not have considered. In fact, never mind the hotels, it's a pretty good travel guide.

At the Amazon price, I'd recommend buying this book for browsing and dreaming, and you'll probably find you can afford at least a few nights somewhere memorable on your next trip down under.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Anyone who is familiar with the Mr & Mrs Smith formula will get exactly what they expect with this latest guide to boutique hotels in Australia & New Zealand. For those who have never picked up a Mr & Mrs S. guide before, let me explain what you should expect...

First of all do not be fooled; Mr & Mrs Smith guides are not upmarket versions of Lonely Planet or Rough Guides. Mr & Mrs S. is primarily an on-line travel agency and its hotel collections and other guides are really nothing more than very glossy & rather expensive brochures. The intent of all these books is that the readers feel compelled to book a stay at one of the hotels or resorts featured and do so via Mr & Mrs Smith. That's why each guide comes with a Mr & Mrs S. membership card.

That being said all the Mr & Mrs S. books are handsomely produced efforts, with stunning photos, detailed descriptions of the hotels featured and some useful local information thrown in. The Australia/New Zealand collection is no exception to this rule. It might not be a hardback tome like some other Mr & Mrs S. guides (or at least my copy wasn't) but the photographs, the quality of the paper and binding and the level of detail in the descriptions of the various hotels were all up to scratch.

If I had a complaint to make about the book its that, due to the choice of typesetting style, some of text is less than clear. Having beige fonts on brown backgrounds for example, left me struggling to make out the words under soft lighting. The page design may look stunning but doesn't always make for ease of use.

Apart from that this is another fine effort from Mr & Mrs S. I'll probably never stay in any of the places featured in the book (the hotels featured in Mr & Mrs S. books tend to be of the more expensive variety) but the local information included in the book is useful and it looks great on the bookshelf. Would I buy it for myself? Probably not; but as a gift it or any other Mr & Mrs S. publication would always be happily received.
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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book serves as a fantastic advert for visiting Australia and New Zealand, but it appears to be aimed only at wealthy travelers who don't mind dropping some serious coin on undoubtedly stunning hotels. For most of us, the suggested hotels are prohibitively expensive, it would have been really nice to see a few cheaper suggestions mixed in there amongst the pricey ones, but perhaps they couldn't bear to use any photography of hotel interiors which weren't breathtaking.

This book looks very well researched, they go into just the right amount of detail and give lots of hints on what there is to do and see nearby the various locations. I suppose that's where the book offers some value, as even if you weren't visiting that particular hotel, you might see the beautiful pics and find somewhere cheaper in the area, and use the rest of the review to make sure you have a great time while you're there.

This book looks and feels great quality, the photography is stunning, the design and layout is very pleasant and this would make a nice coffee table piece in the lobby of one of the hotels it advertises. However, unless you've got lots of money to spend, I don't think there's much point buying this book to help choose where to go on your travels. Just go to a travel agent instead.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a fan of both Australia and New Zealand I was eager to get my hands on the Mr and Mrs Smith Hotel Collection.

One one level, it is a small collection of boutique hotel in the two countries ... when I say small selection, I mean it, 33 in total. Not all are mega priced, and a good selection are within the range I would normally stay in.

What I do like is the information about the various locations ... what to see, what to do and has quite a chatty style. I have not come across the Mr and Mrs Smith Guides before, and if planning a trip around Australia and New Zealand I'm not sure it would be a natural choice ... having said that, I did like getting a different perspective on many of the places I have visited.

I was initially going to say that this is a guide for the rich and lottery winners, and I guess if my numbers come up I would be more than happy to stay in any of these hotels. It may be that on a tour down under, this guide may inspire you to go somewhere you hadn't planned to, or see something you may have otherwise missed.

There are a couple of hotels I have seen in both Australia and New Zealand that I have my eye on, and as next year is a big wedding anniversary, maybe a treat or two can be saved up for.
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on 23 March 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The book is attractive and with many hotels that you would not easily find otherwise. It is typical Smith style and comes with the nice perk / gimmick of the Smith card which does secure you a small extra if booking.

However, the reviews are only a snap shots and while the photos are all pretty it is work double checking on the web eg tripadvisor for culminative reviews by travellers as the occasional hotel I have found (although I've not checked any in this edition) can have hit and miss service, or be under going a refurb outside of the time the Smith review took place.

Booking through Smith has also in my experience so far been painless and easy.

Overall this book is a good place to start (and will generate ideas hard to find otherwise) for boutique and special hotels but I would not rely solely on its recommendations.

Edit: Other reviewers note correctly that the hotels are mainly high end, but with a few exceptions and potentially worth a treat even if on a more moderate budget.
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on 24 February 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is a real treat. The illustrations are inspiring and the format tells you most of what you need to know, to choose where to stay.
We found the extra information about the local areas helpful, though it wouldn't substitute for a Lonely Planet style guide book, once you're travelling.
I was particularly pleased at the discussions of whether each hotel is family-friendly or not - important to know whether you're on holiday with your kids or hoping to avoid other people's!
I just wish the book were longer, with even more places to choose from. We were looking for New Zealand, which could have been under-served, given that it's sharing the billing with Australia, but there was still plenty of choice.
It's going to be really helpful for trip planning.
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