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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sydney reveals its new Darling

The Darling, Sydney's newest hotel, will breathe new life into the Sydney hotel landscape when it opens in October 2011.  Nestled on the edge of Sydney harbour, The Darling will exemplify attention to detail, making this imaginative gem an indulgent and relaxing experience.  The boutique accommodation will boast panoramic views of the city skyline, Harbour Bridge and out to the Blue Mountains. 

The Darling will include 171 stylish rooms and suites, with the top floors dedicated to the ultimate in luxury, featuring two bedroom penthouse suites.  The suites, uniquely designed by renowned LA designer, Lawrence Lee, feature floor-to-ceiling Sydney harbour views, bespoke furniture, fireplaces, media rooms, butler service and a private VIP arrival. 

The Darling is a key feature in the $860 million refurbishment and extension of The Star, transforming it into a one-of-a-kind entertainment destination and a strong addition to Sydney's overall leisure landscape.  The entire complex will be re-orientated to face Darling Harbour, plus will introduce over 20 new bars, cafes and restaurants, a shopping area and a fully refurbished casino when it re-opens towards the end of the year. 

The Darling has been designed as a stand-alone hotel, with its own arrival experience, amenities and alluring personality. It is the first five-star new build hotel in Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games.  Built in addition to the existing hotel and apartments, The Darling will bring the total rooms and suites at The Star to over 650 across three towers. 

Introducing Drew Schlesinger

The new hotel General Manager, Drew Schlesinger, was hand-picked to manage the new hotel, based on his experience and success of opening and managing landmark hotels around the globe including the InterContinental at New York Times Square, The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and The Water Club in Atlantic City and the Mondrian Hotel Los Angeles.

"Our philosophy of The Darling is to take every aspect, whether it is a water glass or a coat hanger, and pay close attention to its form and function. From the coloured, soft coat hangers, to the hand-made drinking glasses in guest rooms.  From the Egyptian cotton thread count bed sheets to the quality of the mattresses," Drew explained. 

"The architecture and design is sleek with subdued hues, yet the ambiance is warm and inviting – and there's certainly nothing modest about our plush comforts.  The spa will round out the experience and be a welcome addition to Sydney," he added.

Spa and Restaurant

A luxurious day spa with 16 private rooms is set to deliver pampering to the highest levels.  An extensive array of Asian and European inspired treatments will feature at the spa, including an indulgent hamam, which is a Turkish variant of a steam bath, sauna or Russian Bath, distinguished by a focus on water.

The spa will be run by experienced international spa operator, Jeanette Haua.  Jeanette's experience includes managing Shangri La CHI spas in Mactan, Boracay and Manila in the Phillipines, plus spa experience in Fiji and Turkey. 

The hotel will also be home to a stunning, contemporary Japanese restaurant called Sokyo, from Chase Kojima, formerly with Nobu restaurants, delivering an exciting and unexpected menu. 

Luxury Retail Offering

A sophisticated new retail area will feature some of the leading luxury brands, including Chanel Fragrance and Beauty Boutique, Gucci and Bottega Veneta.  Boasting 5,500m2 of floor space, the upscale retail space will be conveniently located between the hotel, refurbished casino, restaurants and entertainment venues.

Other features of The Darling include:

An outdoor custom designed pool area with a deck, cabanas and bar.
Access to the 20 new restaurants, bars and cafes featuring renowned Australian and international chefs including David Chang, Teage Ezard, Stefano Manfredi, Adriano Zumbo, Flying Fish & Chips and Golden Century.
Access to the new retail collection including the following brands:

G Star Raw, Calvin Klein Jeans, IM lingerie, Chanel Fragrance and Beauty Boutique, Salvatore Ferragamo , LK Jewellery, Gucci, Bottega Veneta , Moda Emporio

Reservations for The Darling will start from August 2011, on 1800 800 830.  The Star will open its new bars, restaurants and retail collection from September whilst The Darling opens in late October 2011.

For further information, please visit www.thedarling.com.au

 

Register now for AHICE 2011 Hotel Industry Confernce

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Patrick Imbardelli joins AHICE line-up

Pan Pacific Hotels Group President and CEO Patrick Imbardelli has joined the stellar line-up for the second annual Australasian Hotel Industry Conference and Exhibition (AHICE) at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney on September 2, 2011.

Imbardelli is one of around 30 influential hotel owners, CEOs and industry leaders that have confirmed their attendance at AHICE, a conference firmly focused on the management and operation of accommodation hotels throughout Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific region.

Some of the speakers confirmed alongside Imbardelli include owners and investors Nigel Greenaway (Eureka Funds Management), John Hudson (Thakral Holdings Group), Graham Wilkinson (Retirement Assets Limited NZ) and Will Deague (Art Series Hotel Group), as well as Hoteliers Ashley Spencer (Hilton Worldwide), Bob East (Mantra Group), Paul Constantinou (Quest Serviced Apartments), Paul Fischmann (8Hotels), Stephen Burt (Mirvac Hotels and Resorts) and Simon McGrath (Accor Hospitality).

AHICE is being hosted by leading industry magazine HM (Hotel & Accommodation Management) and is expected to attract over 300 leading Hoteliers and industry executives from across the Asia-Pacific region and globally.

During the day, delegates will be given a snapshot of the accommodation industry, from an overall outlook to specific topics ranging from social media to the MICE market, food and beverage trends, human resources issues and managing distribution channels.

HM magazines Managing Editor, James Wilkinson, says a number of the world's leading hoteliers will be involved in plenary and breakout sessions during the conference.

We have a fantastic program that will look at the major trends in the travel industry, he says.

The day will be a great insight to the industry for Hoteliers, major suppliers and industry leaders and the program will be one where delegates leave with a firm understanding of the major factors impacting on the accommodation industry.

Some of the major topics and issues this year include: a performance outlook for the remainder of 2011/2012, the major issues facing the industry at present, low-cost airlines, international markets, the 2011 Rugby World Cup, social networking, human resources, the boutique segment and franchising.

Trends in hotels from food through to design, technology and beverages will also be analysed and we have a number of fantastic speakers that are specialists in their respective fields, he says.

Speakers who have confirmed their attendance at AHICE include:
A. Patrick Imbardelli, President and CEO, Pan Pacific Hotels Group
Ashley Spencer, Vice President Australasia, Hilton Worldwide
Barry Robinson, Managing Director - Asia Pacific, Wyndham Hotel Group
Bob East, CEO, Mantra Group
David Bayes, CEO, Choice Hotels Australasia
Dino Mezzatesta, General Manager - Franchising, Accor Hospitality
Graham Wilkinson, owner, Retirement Assets Limited (NZ)
Howard Kemball, Kcom
James Hines, owner, Hines Property
James Wilkinson, Managing Editor, HM Magazine
Jayson Westbury, CEO, Australian Federation of Travel Agents
John Hudson, Managing Director, Thakral Holdings Group
Kim McKay, Director, Klick Communications
Marcus Niszow, Deputy CEO, Pacific Resort Hotel Group (Cook Islands)
Nigel Greenaway, Eureka Funds Management
Paul Constantinou, Chairman, Quest Serviced Apartments
Paul Fischmann, CEO, 8Hotels
Paul Richardson, Vice President - New Zealand, Accor Hospitality
Peter Savoff, General Manager, Emporium Hotel, Brisbane
Richard Dalman, Managing Director, Dalman Architecture (NZ)
Rutger Smits, National Leader - Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Simon McGrath, Vice President - Australia, Accor Hospitality
Stephen Burt, CEO, Mirvac Hotels and Resorts
Ted Horner, Managing Director, E Horner and Associates
Vincent Hoogewijs, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
Will Deague, owner, Art Series Hotel Group

Once again, AHICE will be held prior to the HM Awards, with the 2011 event also hosted by HM magazine on September 2.

Early bird registration is still available for just $350 per delegate and a special deal of four for the price of three is also currently on offer. Bookings are available online at www.ahice.com.au or by calling 1300 789 845 (within Australia) or 0800 451 590 (from New Zealand).

Combination packages are also available for both the AHICE conference and the HM Awards being held later that night. Packages start from just $400 per person (for both events) and full details are also available at www.ahice.com.au

A limited number of sponsorship opportunities exist for both AHICE and the HM Awards, but these are filling up fast on the back of a successful event in 2010.

More information is available by contacting Adam Daff on +61 (0)2 8586 6207 or email adaff@intermedia.com.au  

*The above speaker list is subject to change due to availability.

Hawaiian Airlines Sydney-Honolulu Service To Go Daily Year-Round


Daily Flight Schedule Starts December 14

Responding to increasing demand for its service to Hawaii from Australia, Hawaiian Airlines will increase its service from five flights a week to year-round daily nonstop flights between Sydney and Honolulu starting December 14.

“Australians are increasingly finding great value in Hawaii vacations, and demand for our services has never been greater,” said Glenn Taniguchi, Hawaiian’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “The arrival of another aircraft later this year will allow us to meet the increased demand starting in December.”

The company in April increased its Sydney flight schedule from four days per week to daily for the peak winter season and, because of aircraft availability, will operate five days per week between August 3 and December 13, before starting year-round daily service on December 14.

Hawaiian’s Flight #452 will depart Sydney Airport daily at 9:20 p.m. and arrive at Honolulu

International Airport at 10:10 a.m. the same day.

Return Flight #451 will depart Honolulu daily at 11:50a.m. and arrive in Sydney at 7:20 p.m. the following day. (Sydney is currently 20 hours ahead of Honolulu and the flight crosses the International Dateline.)

Hawaiian flies a wide-body Boeing 767-300ER aircraft on the Sydney route. The twin-aisle B767 comfortably seats up to 264 passengers with 18 in Business Class and the remainder in Economy Class.

Adding to the enjoyment of the Hawaii travel experience is Hawaiian’s promise to “start your Hawaii vacation the moment you board” with its distinctive and award-winning “Hawaii Starts Here” onboard service, showcasing the culture, music, natural beauty, and people of the Hawaiian Islands.

Travelers can purchase tickets for Hawaiian’s Sydney-Honolulu flights from their favorite travel agent, online via Hawaiian’s website at www.HawaiianAirlines.com or its Australia site at www.HawaiianAirlines.com.au, or by calling Hawaiian toll-free in the U.S. through its reservations center at 1-800-367-5320 or in Australia at 1300-669-106.

About Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian has led all U.S. carriers in on-time performance for each of the past seven years (2004-2010) as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition, consumer surveys by Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure and Zagat have all ranked Hawaiian the top domestic airline offering flights to Hawaii. Hawaiian was also the nation’s highest-ranked carrier for service quality and performance in the prestigious Airline Quality Rating (AQR) study for 2008 and 2009.

Explore the lesser known northern sites of Peru

Australians who want to get off the beaten track in Peru can book a trip along the Moche Route in northern Peru, where a range of archaeological sites, local traditions, sports, cuisine, beaches and history can be discovered.

Northern Peru is home to fascinating pre-Incan sites of the Moche culture who ruled much of this area from 100- 800 AD.  This ancient culture is most present in the museums and archaeological sites of the northern region and in exciting discoveries which are still being made. Sites along the route include El Brujo in the lower Chicama Valley, Chan Chan by the banks of the Moche River in the La Libertad region, and Huaca of the Sun and of the Moon located just 15 minutes south of Trujillo.

The El Brujo site dates back to the first and seventh centuries AD and was the final resting place of Señora de Cao, who lived around the year 450 A.D, while Chan Chan spans an area of 20km² and is the largest mud-brick citadel dating back to the pre-Hispanic era.  Huaca del Sol y Huaca de La Luna are distanced 500 metres apart from one another and are two of the most impressive Peruvian pyramids, built for ceremonial purposes by the Moche around 500 AD.

The Royal Tombs of Sipán Museum in Lambayeque also offers a fascinating insight into the history of the Moche people. According to studies, the Lord of Sipan died 1,770 years ago and it is estimated he lived for approximately forty years and was buried in an elaborate ceremony. The museum is a 10 minute drive from the city of Chiclayo, the capital city of the Lambayeque region, and houses some of the best exhibition rooms in the world. 

Less than one hour north of Lima by air, Trujillo, the colonial city of the north, provides the gateway to the Moche Route.  Trujillo is the capital of the La Libertad and sits on the banks of the Moche River. It is a vibrant city with plenty to offer visitors to the region. Learn to dance the Marinera, the 'National Dance of Peru' at the annual Marinera Festival in January which celebrates this graceful, romantic dance between two people representing a combination of the different cultures of Peru. 

For the outdoor enthusiast the north offers a year-round warm climate and beautiful coastline where a popular surfing culture thrives.  Here many Moche cultural practices are still very much alive today. 'Caballitos de Totora', reed watercrafts used by the Moche people for fishing, are now used to surf the waves.

Among other activities available, why not try riding a paso fino horse or visit the many local farms in the area that breed these beautiful animals. Then after a busy day, the region's delicious cuisine will satisfy any appetite. The popular and tasty 'ceviche' which combines fresh fish and seafood mixed with onions, lemon juice, salt, and a touch of chilli pepper offers the perfect taste of Peru.

With the Peruvian government investing in the infrastructure of the northern region and many operators in Australia now featuring the north of Peru, it has never been so easy to explore the Moche Route and the rich Peruvian culture surrounding it.

For more information on Peru, please visit www.peru.travel


UNWTO Extends Its Condolences To Norway

Following the terrible events in Norway, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, made the following statement:

“UNWTO was profoundly shocked by last Friday’s appalling attacks in Norway which claimed many innocent lives.

On behalf of UNWTO and the international tourism community, I wish to convey our sincere condolences to all those that have lost loved ones and to the Government and people of Norway in this difficult time”.

Monday, July 25, 2011

TAUCK AWARDED - 'World's Best River Cruise'


Tauck voted # 1 as "World's Best River Cruise" 2011.

16th Annual Travel + Leisure "World's Best Awards"

Tauck which operates four custom built riverboats throughout Europe has been awarded as the "World's Best River Cruise" for 2011 by Travel + Leisure Magazine. So much effort has gone into maintaining Tauck's premium standard, and with over 85 years in the business Tauck's relationships with their worldwide partners ensures that their travellers get the best value for their travel dollar. Tauck's first river cruise was in 1992, almost ten years before riverboats became one of the 'hottest' ways to travel.

Life on board Tauck's riverboats are often referred to as a 'private-club'. It's comfortable, relaxed, warm and inviting. Tauck's intimate, yet spacious design holds no more that 118 guests while other boats hold 160. That means more room for you. In addition there are 14 suites (300 sq.ft) and 7 junior suites on every ship – four times more than most other European riverboats and 85% of cabins have floor-to ceiling windows with French balconies.

Imagine paying for a river cruise and having nothing else to pay for. No additional costs to Tour Directors while onboard, no options are sold to you, no sales pitches are made while you're enjoying your cruise and no fuels surcharges come onto your final bill. Refreshing? This is all part of the 'Tauck Difference' compared to other river cruise specialists. And this is why Tauck guests keep coming back time and time again. Their testimonials say it all.

It's the quality of what's included that defines the word "value". Have a look at what is included in the price of your river cruise:
  • All private Tauck shore excursions – led by Tauck Directors, local experts and guides, and featuring Tauck Exclusives
  • All gratuities to the Tauck Directors and Tauck Cruise Directors, ship staff, drivers, local guides and local experts
  • Special insider sightseeing and exclusive Tauck experiences guided by our Tauck Directors and local guides
  • Included meals ashore at local restaurant and special venues
  • Local artists and cultural performances
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • Hotel accommodations handpicked for your location
  • Most meals, all-day soft drinks, wine with dinner onboard the riverboat, beer with lunch and dinner onboard
  • Welcome and farewell cocktail parties, special evenings of local entertainment, cooking demonstrations and more
  • Port charges, all taxes, luggage handling and more; no hidden surcharges
  • Sumptuous new bedding, with comfort top mattresses, 400-thread count linen, hypoallergenic duvets and pillows
  • Walk in closets, marble baths with full size tubs in suites, L'Occitane toiletries
  • Complimentary bikes on shore excursions
Tauck's land excursions are second to none and for 2012, and with professional guides who are familiar with the local customs and traditions and often fluent in several languages, Tauck has special culinary departures for your delight.

So if you're interested in treating your taste buds to a new level of nirvana, and to trace the footsteps of the locals, come on board with one of our partners named "World's Best Culinary Tour Specialist" by Conde Nast Traveler, and experience authentic French cuisine and village life: April 25, June 28, August 17 & October 20. Priced from $4,636 8-day French Waterways & Vineyards is a magnificent way to see France!

To obtain further information about Tauck or to make a booking, please contact Travel the World on 1300 950 622 or visit www.traveltheworld.com.au. To order your 2012 Tauck River Cruise Brochure, go to

http://www.traveltheworld.com.au/Tours/Brochures.html

Master Italian cooking at Peppers Coral Coast Resort



Peppers Coral Coast Resort at Airlie Beach is giving foodies an exclusive opportunity to advance their kitchen expertise and know-how by experiencing their Taste of Italy Masterclass Event with Executive Chef Gregory Devine on Thursday August 18.

Inspired by MasterChef’s pursuit of cooking excellence, the specially crafted Masterclass provides the ideal opportunity to learn first-hand how to prepare dishes from one of the world’s favourite countries when it comes to food – Italy.

Over the course of three hours, guests will learn valuable tricks of the trade as they are guided step-by-step through creating the perfect Italian dinner party.

Share Chef Devine’s passion as he demonstrates how to prepare an authentic antipasto plate, Milanese risotto and a sumptuous traditional Tiramisu dessert.

Guests will also have the rare opportunity to discuss all things food – taste, smell, colours and textures - with Chef Devine.

And of course, guests will not only delight their senses watching the meal prepared, cooked and presented, but will also treat their taste buds with a serving of each dish accompanied with a selection of Italian originated beverages.

The Peppers Coral Coast Resort Taste of Italy Masterclass Event begins at 5pm and will be held at the resort’s private Ocean's Edge Villa.

Priced at $130 per person, this rare event is one not to be missed, with each guest receiving a complimentary MasterChef apron and MasterChef Series 2 cookbook to take home.

To secure a place at this memorable MasterChef event call 07 4962 5100. Bookings are essential as places are limited.

Guests can also make a weekend of it with Peppers Coral Coast Resort’s MasterChef Package from $427* per room per night. Includes accommodation in a One Bedroom Suite, an eight-course food and wine degustation dinner for two on one evening in the chic, open-air surroundings of Tides Restaurant and Bar overlooking the magnificent Whitsundays, a la carte breakfast for two each morning, sparkling wine on arrival and a MasterChef designer apron and copy of the MasterChef Series 2 cookbook to take home.

*Subject to availability. Valid for travel until 30/11/2011. Two night minimum stay applies.

The Luxury Travel Bible On Location



Wendi Deng is the unintentional star of the phone-hacking hearings since she jumped forward late last week to smack a pink-clad arm at a protester aiming a pie at Rupert Murdoch's face.

Deng has been dubbed the original crouching tiger but it is her own just-released movie which might get the most mileage out of the incident.

Deng co-produced, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, starring Bingbing Li, Gianna Jun and Australia’s Hugh Jackman.

The Chinese epic is based on Lisa See's best-selling book.

The Luxury Travel Bible went on location to find out exactly where the film was shot, what the stars did and if Wendi Deng strong-armed anyone else during the making of the movie.

For more details of the travel locations including The Peninsula Shanghai, click here:

http://luxurytravelbible.com/Luxury-Hotel-Reviews.asp?active_page_id=174

Meet Anantara's Culinary King - The Proof Really is in the Pudding


Chef Don Lawson has been delighting guests’ palates at Anantara Bophut Resort and Spa since the luxurious Koh Samui hideaway first opened in 2004. His imaginative expertise was put to excellent use in devising unique culinary concepts, cooking classes and opportunities to learn the finer points of perfect food and wine pairing. At Anantara, Chef Don has free reign to dish up distinctive Thai and Italian flavours for guests, keeping the passionate chef burning the culinary candles at both ends.

A stickler for perfection, Chef Don is adamant about the importance of pushing the boat out when it comes to food. “If you never try, you never know! As a chef it’s essential to never get discouraged. As I always say to my students, if you make a mistake when cooking, as we all have, think what an amazing lesson you’ve just learnt and use that to your advantage.

Chef Don demonstrated his devotion to gastronomy from an early age. At just 17 years old he was offered a four year apprenticeship, at the famous Southern Cross Club in Canberra, Australia. He recalls, “I really enjoyed the work and thought that if I learned the art of cooking I would get to eat grand cuisine, and never go hungry for life’s gourmet pleasures! I still remember receiving my first monthly pay cheque of 80 Australian dollars - it didn’t last long but it felt great to be paid for doing something I love, and with a bit of extra effort to show how serious I was about progressing further, the Executive Chef saw my potential.”

Fast forward twenty five years later, the boy from Oz now calls Thailand home and for Chef Don, the wonderful local produce and seafood means that the world is his oyster in terms of creativity. His recent infused food pairing with tea giants Dilmah has also inspired an Anantara Tea Guru program. It is through this flair that the gastronomic genius has become an instrumental part of a dedicated team of culinary experts at Anantara, developing new concepts and signatures dishes, thus ensuring that guests enjoy his culinary influence at all Anantara hotels and resorts.

Whether it’s touring the local spice markets, leading a cooking class or holding a banquet for visiting dignitaries you’ll be sure to see Chef Don passing on and sharing his cooking tips passionately with guests and discussing the best ingredients possible to create simple yet effective flavorsome dishes. It is this expertise that guests take away with them and bring Don’s fusion techniques to dinner tables around the world.

On his success he explains, “I cook because it fulfills something inside of me. There’s no better feeling of satisfaction and gratitude than knowing that my guests are leaving feeling “Wow - that was a wonderful experience!” It’s also great to meet so many different people from around the world, sharing experiences and gaining friends. To be successful you have to be 100% committed and instead of counting up the long hours I’ve put in, I stack up the results, and this reminds me of how far I’ve come.”

Saturday, July 23, 2011

THE ULTIMATE DUST UP- FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP- COFFS HARBOUR

8-11 September 2011

TICKETS ON-SALE

LEAVING Sweden's snow and Jordan's desert dust behind, the world's fastest rally drivers hit the New South Wales Coffs Coast on 8-11 September for Rally Australia, round 10 of the epic FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

Piloting million-dollar machines, drivers from around the world will clash over three days and nights on the Coffs Coast's most testing terrain.

After surviving snow, desert, high altitude and rock-strewn tracks on three continents, who will come unstuck on the Australian gravel and tarmac? Who will get the better of the gruelling stages through forests and farmland and alongside city beaches?  Will Australian stars like Chris Atkinson and Coffs Harbour's Nathan Quinn show the international visitors the way on home turf?

Among those battling for one of motorsport's most prestigious prizes will be seven-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb and Citroen teammate Sebastien Ogier from France, Ford aces Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala from Finland, Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen, Norway's Petter Solberg and American Ken Block.

Tickets for the 'Ultimate Dust Up' are on-sale via Ticketek (www.ticketek.com.au, phone132849 and retail outlets) nationally to see the best of the best fighting for the most prestigious international championship next to Formula 1.  Tickets are priced from as little as $15 for an adult.

"The WRC is a dazzling spectacle played out in 13 locations around the globe. This will be the 21st Rally Australia but the first time people will be able to see it in this beautiful part of New South Wales," said Michael Masi, General Manager of Rally Australia.

"It will be an opportunity for spectators of all kinds to witness the skills of these spectacular drivers and experience all the exciting atmosphere of a world championship contest – without having to travel far from their accommodation base and with access to all the attractions and facilities of a major holiday region."

The WRC's swing Down Under also will showcase top Aussie driving talents, keen to test themselves against the world's best. In a field of up to 100 cars, Australians will compete in WRC classes or in two companion events, the Coffs Coast Forest Rally, a round of the Bosch Australian Rally Championship, and the Coffs Coast Classic Rally, a nostalgia feast for lovers of Seventies-era models such as the Ford Escort, Datsun 1600 and Mazda RX-7.

Michael Masi adds, rally driving at the elite WRC level is "adrenalin-charged to the max" and thrilling for spectators to see.

"They're the gravel masters, riding their turbocharged machines from rest to 100 kmh in three seconds, racing through the forests at more than 160 kmh, jumping and sliding at impossible speeds. Spectators won't have seen anything like it – it's a stunning, unforgettable experience."

The nightly Superspecial Stage on closed bitumen streets in Coffs Harbour's Jetty precinct will be a spectator highlight. Drivers will compete under lights over a 3.77 km course that runs right beside the harbour, with thousands of spectators on boats and in every available on-land vantage point creating an electric atmosphere.

In total, the Rally Australia WRC course covers 369 kms on 26 timed competitive stages through the Nambucca, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and Clarence Valley regions, all within a convenient 75 km drive from Coffs Harbour.

Rally Australia General Admission tickets can be purchased on-line at ticket.com.au, which also provides full information about ticket choices, including maps and Spectator and Enthusiast Point descriptions..

Access to trackside Spectator Points will cost as little as $25 with family discounts available, free entry for children under six and pre-event discounts for online ticket purchases.

"An Adult ticket to visit one Special Stage Spectator or Enthusiast Point every day and the Superspecial Stage every night is just $99, with an option to buy a Superspecial grandstand seat for a further $76," he said.

"An Event Super Pass means spectators will see the field race past their viewing location twice every day and twice every night – that's fantastic value!

"We expect this will be a very popular choice, as past research shows many fans like to follow the rally from start to finish.

"Alternatively, there are three-day passes for just the Spectator Points, Enthusiast Points or Superspecial, plus individual-day stage passes.

"All in all, there's a ticket for every viewing preference or budget, but I urge intending spectators to book early as capacity at all points is finite due to various conditions and some may sell out before the event."

Tickets at slightly higher prices also will be for sale to walk-up spectators at stage entry points during the event, when there is unsold capacity.  Entry will be free to the official start in the centre of Coffs Harbour and finish at The Jetty and throughout the weekend at the Service Park at Coffs Harbour Regional Airport.

All event spectator points have catering, toilets and parking or free shuttle-bus transport.  Corporate hospitality is also offered on several stages, including the Superspecial Stage.

EDITORS' NOTES:

·         Ticketing details at www.ticketek.com.au or www.rallyaustralia.com
·         Travel and accommodation information at www.coffscoast.com.au
·         The 2011 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) pits cars and drivers on events in 13 countries, including Australia, though some of the toughest, and most varied, conditions on the planet.  Crews and manufacturers, including Citroen, Ford and Mini, will battle it out for the annual drivers' and makes' championship trophies.

2011 HM Awards Finalists Announced

Finalists for the 2011 HM Awards for Hotel & Accommodation Excellence presented by Sealy have been announced, with all thoughts now firmly set on who will take out the 48 awards at the gala dinner to be held in Sydney on September 2.

A record 1600 entries were received in 2011 and following hours of voting by over 20 judges, the finalists have been announced for 45 of the 48 categories to be awarded this year.

The remaining three categories – the Asia-Pacific Hotelier of the Year, Australian Hotelier and New Zealand Hotelier – have been decided by the region's leading CEOs and the finalists for these categories will be announced at the gala presentation dinner.

In the last eight years, almost 3600 people have attended the HM Awards and more than 300 awards have been awarded to hotels across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The 2011 HM Awards are hosted by HM magazine, presented by Sealy and co-hosted by AHS Hospitality, Intrust Super, ISIS and Philips.

The 2011 HM Awards gala presentation dinner is being held at Sydney's Doltone House on September 2.

For bookings, email ana@intermedia.com.au

2011 HM AWARDS – FINALISTS

AUSTRALIAN PROPERTY AWARDS

1. Serviced Apartment Property

Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney, NSW
Fraser Suites Sydney, NSW
Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury, SA
Peppers Beach House Palm Cove, QLD
Peppers Salt Resort and Spa, Kingscliff, NSW
Quay West Suites Sydney, NSW
Quay West Resort Magenta Shores, Central Coast, NSW
Quest on William, Melbourne, VIC
Sea Temple Resort and Spa Palm Cove, QLD
The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel, Hobart, TAS

2. Budget Accommodation

Aarons Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Boali Ski Lodge, Thredbo, NSW
Country Comfort Ipswich, Ipswich, QLD
EconoLodge Sydney South, Sydney, NSW
Formule One Kings Cross, Sydney, NSW
Formule One Sydney Airport, NSW
Regency Palms, Cairns, QLD
Scone Motor Inn and Conference Centre, NSW
The Lodge Outback Motel, Broken Hill, NSW
Top Spot Motel, Maroochydore, QLD

3. Economy Hotel

All Seasons Cairns, Cairns, NT
Altamont Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Best Western Sanctuary Inn, Tamworth, NSW
Hotel Kurrajong, Canberra, ACT
Ibis Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
Mercure Brisbane, QLD
Pensione Hotel Melbourne, VIC
Thredbo Alpine Hotel, NSW
Travelodge Docklands, Melbourne, VIC
Travelodge Southbank, Melbourne, VIC

4. Midscale Hotel

Clarion Hotel Soho, Adelaide, SA
Holiday Inn Burswood, Perth, WA
Holiday Inn Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW
Mercure Hotel Sydney, NSW
Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific, NSW
Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
The Sebel Harbourside Kiama, NSW
The Sebel Melbourne, VIC
Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront, NT
Vibe Hotel Rushcutters, Sydney, NSW

5. Upscale Hotel

Crown Promenade Hotel, Melbourne, VIC
Crowne Plaza Adelaide, SA
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, NSW
Novotel Barossa Valley Resort, SA
Peppers Salt Resort and Spa, Kingscliff, NSW
Q Station Retreat, Manly, NSW
Sydney Marriott Hotel, NSW
The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel, Hobart, TAS
The Sebel Cairns, QLD
The Sebel Pier One, Sydney, NSW

6. Upper-upscale Hotel

Crown Metropol, Melbourne, VIC
Diamant Hotel Canberra, ACT
Four Points By Sheraton Sydney, NSW
Grand Hyatt Melbourne, VIC
Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, VIC
Hilton Sydney, NSW
Pullman Sydney Olympic Park, NSW
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney, NSW
Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel, NSW
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, Byron Bay, NSW

7. Luxury Hotel

Crown Towers, Melbourne, VIC
Lake House, Daylesford, VIC
Palazzo Versace, Gold Coast, QLD
Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, NSW
Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, VIC
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW
The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, NSW
The Westin Sydney, NSW
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW

8. Australian Lodge

Bay of Fires Lodge, Mt William National Park, TAS
Cradle Mountain Lodge, Cradle Mountain, TAS
El Questro, Kunnunurra, NT
Freycinet Lodge, Freycinct, TAS
Kim's Beach Hideaway, Toowoon Bay, NSW
Longitude 131, Uluru, NT
Qualia, Hamilton Island, QLD
Saffire, Coles Bay, TAS
Wildman Wilderness Lodge, Humpty Doo, NT
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW

9. Business Hotel

Crown Metropol, Melbourne, VIC
Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, VIC
Hilton Sydney, NSW
InterContinental Sydney, NSW
InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC
Pan Pacific Perth, WA
Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach, QLD
The Westin Melbourne, VIC
Vibe Hotel North Sydney, NSW

10. Resort

Crowne Plaza Terrigal, NSW
Hayman, Whitsundays, QLD
Hyatt Regency Coolum, QLD
Peppers Salt Resort and Spa, Kingscliff, NSW
Qualia, Whitsundays, QLD
Quay West Resort Bunker Bay, Naturaliste, WA
Quay West Resort Magenta Shores, Central Coast, NSW
Sea Temple Resort and Spa Palm Cove, QLD
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, Byron Bay, NSW
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW

11. Hotel Interior Design

Crown Metropol, Melbourne, VIC
Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Grand Hyatt Melbourne, VIC
Hayman, Whitsundays, QLD
InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, VIC
The Cullen, Prahran, VIC
The Olsen, South Yarra, VIC
The Sebel Pier One, Sydney, NSW
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW

12. Boutique Hotel

Blue Sydney, NSW
Diamant Hotel Canberra, ACT
Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
Establishment Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Grand Mercure Hobart Hadleys Hotel, TAS
Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart, TAS
Lake House, Daylesford, VIC
Lyall Hotel and Spa, South Yarra, VIC
The Cullen, Prahran, VIC
The Richardson Hotel and Spa, Perth, WA

13. New Hotel

Citadines on Bourke, Melbourne, VIC
Gibraltar Hotel, Bowral, NSW
Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa, Noosa, QLD
Peppers Broadbeach, Gold Coast, QLD
Quest Cheltenham, Melbourne, VIC
Quest Mildura, VIC
Spicers Balfour Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
The Blackman, Melbourne, VIC
The Sebel Newcastle, NSW
Wildman Wilderness Lodge, Humpty Doo, NT

14. Meetings and Conference property

Crown Metropol, Melbourne, VIC
Hilton Sydney, NSW
Novotel Twin Waters Resort, Sunshine Coast, QLD
Q Station Retreat, Manly, NSW
Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, NSW
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Sydney, NSW
The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
The Sebel Albert Park, Melbourne, VIC
The Westin Sydney, NSW
The Westin Melbourne, VIC

15. Regional Property

Huski Lodge, Falls Creek, VIC
Kim's Beach Hideaway, Toowoon Bay, NSW
Lake House, Daylesford, VIC
Novotel Lake Crackenback Resort, Lake Crackenback, NSW
Peppers Guest House, Pokolbin, NSW
Peppers Salt Resort and Spa, Kingcliff, NSW
Quay West Resort and Spa Falls Creek, VIC
The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, Byron Bay, NSW
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW

16. Day Spa

Angsana Spa, Angsana Resort and Spa Palm Cove, QLD
Chuan Spa, The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
Spa qualia, qualia, Whitsundays, QLD
The Spa, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Timeless Spa, Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW
Isika Day Spa and Urban retreat, Crown Metropol Melbourne, VIC
Salus Spa, Lake House, Daylesford, VIC
Stephanies Spa Retreat, Sofitel Brisbane, QLD
The Byron at Byron Resort Spa and Wellness Centre, The Byron at Byron, Byron Bay, NSW
Villa Thalgo Day Spa, The Sebel Windsor, NSW

17. Hotel Bar

Blue Bar on 36, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Eau de Vie, The Kirketon, Sydney, NSW
Emporium Hotel Cocktail Bar, Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD
IXL Long Bar, The Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart, TAS
Room81, Sofitel Gold Coast, QLD
Sotano Wine+Tapas, Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, VIC
The Waiting Room, Crown Towers, Melbourne, VIC
Water Bar, Blue Sydney, NSW
Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney, NSW

18. Hotel Restaurant

Altitude, Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, NSW
Bilson's, Radisson Plaza Sydney, NSW
Est, Establishment, Sydney, NSW
Etch, InterContinental Sydney, NSW
Glass brasserie, Hilton Sydney, NSW
Lake House Restaurant and Cellar, Lake House Daylesford, VIC
Maze Grill, Crown Metropol, Melbourne, VIC
No35, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, VIC
Palate, Saffire, Coles Bay, TAS
Spice Temple, Crown Towers, Melbourne, VIC

19. Tech-Hotel

Crown Metropol, Melbourne, VIC
Establishment Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Grand Hyatt Melbourne, VIC
Hayman, Whitsundays, QLD
Hilton Sydney, NSW
InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC
The Langham, Melbourne, VIC
The Westin Sydney, NSW
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW

NEW ZEALAND & SOUTH PACIFIC PROPERTY AWARDS

20. New Zealand Hotel

Hilton Auckland
Hilton Queenstown
Hotel St Moritz Queenstown
InterContinental Wellington
Pullman Auckland
SkyCity Grand Hotel, Auckland
Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa
The George, Christchurch
The Langham, Auckland
The Rees, Queenstown

21. New Zealand Regional Property

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco
Hilton Lake Taupo
Peppers Clearwater Resort, Christchurch
Quest Napier
St Clair Beach Resort, Dunedin
Te Wanoui Forest Retreat, Franz Joseph
Millbrook Resort, Queenstown
Wyndham Resort Wanaka

22. New Zealand Lodge

Blanket Bay, Glenorchy
Huka Lodge, Taupo
Kaimata Retreat, Dunedin
Lake Okareka Lodge, Rotorua
Matakauri, Queenstown
Parehua Country Estate, Martinborough
Peppers on the Point, Rotorua
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke's Bay
Treetops Lodge, Rotorua
Wharekauhau Country Estate, Paliser Bay

23. Fijian Property

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa
Liku Liku Lagoon Resort
Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji
Quest Suva
Royal Davui
Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa
Sheraton Fiji Resort
Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa
The Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa
Yasawa Island Resort

24. South Pacific Property

Eratap Beach Resort, Vanuatu
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa, French Polynesia
Iririki Island Resort and Spa, Vanuatu
Le Meridien Ile Des Pins, New Caledonia
Legends Resort Moorea, French Polynesia
Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Royale Takitumu Villas, Cook Islands
Sofitel Moorea, French Polynesia
Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Samoa
Te Manava Luxury Villas and Spa, Cook Islands

GENERAL AWARDS – ALL COUNTRIES

25. Marketing Campaign

Accor Hotels, Australia wide
Crowne Plaza Hotels, Australia and New Zealand
Emporium Hotel Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, VIC, Australia
Medina Apartment Hotels, Australia wide
Mirvac Hotels and Resorts, Australia and New Zealand
Novotel Canberra, ACT, Australia
Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa, New Zealand
Vibe Hotels, Australia wide

26. Service to the Community

Crowne Plaza Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Crowne Plaza Queenstown, New Zealand
Hilton Cairns, QLD, Australia
Hilton Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Mercure Cairns, QLD, Australia
Mercure Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa, New Zealand
Sydney Harbour Marriott, NSW, Australia
The Langham Melbourne, VIC, Australia
The Observatory Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia

PEOPLE AWARDS

27. Concierge

Alex Williams, Chief Concierge, Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Bryan Wilkinson, Chef Concierge, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa, New Zealand
Gary Chan, Assistant Concierge, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, NSW, Australia
James Ridenour, Chef Concierge, InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC, Australia
Jason Aberin, Chief Concierge, Hilton Sydney, NSW, Australia
Jim Tully, Chief Concierge, SkyCity Grand Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand
Mark Peyton, Chief Concierge, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW, Australia
Rhett Constantine, Chief Concierge, The Sebel and Citigate Albert Park, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Ronald Maskell, Chief Concierge, Crown Towers Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Steve Ciric, Chief Concierge, The Westin Melbourne, VIC. Australia

28. Hotel Chef

Andrew McCrea, Executive Chef, The Sebel Suites Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Anthony Ross, Executive Head Chef and Food and Beverage Director, The Langham Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Brendon Coffey, Executive Chef, Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa, Fiji
Dennis Leslie, Executive Chef, Hilton Adelaide, SA, Australia
Gary Johnson, Executive Chef, Hilton Sydney, NSW, Australia
Gavin Hughes, Head Chef, The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, NSW, Australia
Glenn Wright, Sous Chef, Hilton Melbourne South Wharf, VIC, Australia
Jay Olsen, Chef, Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco, New Zealand
Mathieu Astier, Chef de Cuisine, Sofitel Brisbane Central, QLD, Australia
Nick Reade, Executive Chef, InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, VIC, Australia

29. Food and Beverage Associate

Andrew Ausage, Marble Bar Manager, Hilton Sydney, NSW, Australia
Cherie Stubbs-Timbery, F&B Team Leader, The Swiss-Grand Resort and Spa, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Chris Hough, Assistant F&B Manager – Banquets, Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Chris Smith, Assistant F&B Services Manager, The Sebel Parramatta, NSW, Australia
Daniela Yankov Reid, F&B Manager, Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco, New Zealand
Dhairya Shah, Restaurant Manager, SkyCity Grand Hotel, New Zealand
Irene Noordhoek, F&B attendant, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa, New Zealand
Luke Redington, Bar Manager, Eau de Vie, The Kirketon, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia
Oliver Colgrave, Restaurant supervisor, Clarion Hotel City Park Grand, Launceston, TAS, Australia
Steve Wellsteed, F&B Manager, Novotel Canberra, ACT, Australia

30. Human Resources Associate

Amanda Lutvey, Human Resources Manager, Emporium Hotel, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Bronwyn Knutson, HR Manager New Zealand Region, Mantra Group, Christchurch, New Zealand
Cathy Sinden, Training and Recruitment Manager, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Darling Harbour, NSW, Australia
David West, Human Resources Manager, Rendezvous Hotel Adelaide, SA, Australia
John Timson, Learning and Development Consultant/Trainer, Accor Hotels, Australia wide
Kate Brough, Human Resources Manager, Hyatt Regency Perth, WA, Australia
Mathew Paine, Director Human Resources, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW, Australia
Mike Chep, Regional Manager Human Resources, Rendezvous Hotels, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Nicole Salonga, Human Resources Manager, Four Seasons Sydney, NSW, Australia
Rowena Carter, HR and Training Manager, 8Hotels, Sydney, NSW, Australia

31. Sales and Marketing Associate

Bess Simpson, Business Development Manager, Mercure Sydney Airport, BSW, Australia
Blair Weir, Director of Sales and Marketing, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, VIC, Australia
Bruce White, Director Sales and Marketing, Rendezvous Hotels Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Evelyn Page, Sales and Marketing Manager, Best Western Sanctuary Inn, Tamworth, NSW, Australia
Helen Radic, Director of Sales and Marketing, Sydney Harbour Marriott, NSW, Australia
Ivy Zhang, Business Development Manager, Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, Australia
Karryn Cutcheon, Director of Sales, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Darling Harbour, NSW, Australia
Kelvin Dodt, Regional Sales and Marketing Manager, The Sebel and Citigate King George Square Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Suzie Jones, Director of Sales and Marketing, Radisson Resort Gold Coast, QLD, Australia
Tanya Dennis, Sales and Marketing Director, New Zealand, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa, New Zealand

32. Communications Associate

Cristina Magni, Marketing and Communications Manager, Hilton Auckland and Hilton Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Linda Sweeney, Group Director of Marketing and Communications, Mirvac Hotels and Resorts, Australia and New Zealand
Rebecca Freestun, Communications Executive, Sofitel Hotels, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sally Morgan, Head of Corporate Communications, Hayman, QLD, Australia
Sarah Vickery, Director of Public Relations, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sue Currie, VP Public Relations and Communications, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific
Susan Gibson, Group Communications Manager, Heritage Hotel Management, New Zealand
Susan Sullivan, Public Relations Manager, Mantra Group, Australia and New Zealand
Tara Bishop, Media Relations Manager, Crown hotels, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Tessa Anderssen, Communications Manager, Toga Hospitality, Australia and New Zealand

33. Front Office Associate

Blaine Inch, Front Office Manager, Hilton Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Brett Hutson, Duty Manager, The Sebel Suites Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Calisha Allsworth, Area Front Office Manager, 8 Hotels, Australia wide
Christie Love, Front Office Manager/Rooms Division Manager, The York by Swiss-Belhotel, Sydney, Australia
Diane Mouchot, Front Office Team Leader, The Menzies Hotel Sydney, NSW, Australia
Joseph Kuchappan, Front Office Supervisor, Quest Suva, Fiji
Leoni Mitchell, Front Office Receptionist, Quest Taupo, New Zealand
Mia Vesser, Front Office Duty Manager, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa, New Zealand
Sarah Simpson, Assistant Front Office Manager, Novotel Twin Waters Resort Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia
Simon Wanstall, Front Office Manager, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney, NSW, Australia

34. Procurement Associate

Alex Nagy, Senior Director of Procurement – Asia Pacific, Marriott International
Brandon Rossen, Purchasing Manager, Sheraton on the Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia
John Toscano, National Procurement Manager, Quest Serviced Apartments
Lori Finglas, National Supply Manager, Mantra Group, Australia
Malcolm Parker, Senior Procurement Manager, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific
Michael Thomas, Director of Procurement – Pacific, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
Nicholas Grandioso, National Procurement Manager, Accor Hotels, Australia wide
Peter Phillips, National Supply Chain Manager, Mirvac Hotels and Resorts
Todd Heatly, National Procurement Manager, InterContinental Hotels Group, Australia
Trang Le, Procurement Manager, Hilton Sydney, NSW, Australia

35. Housekeeper

Brenda Olson, Executive Housekeeper, Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW, Australia
Chona Ogilvie, Executive Housekeeper, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Darling Harbour, NSW, Australia
Elizabeth York, Executive Housekeeper, Chifley Hotel Penrith Panthers, NSW, Australia
Karina Gordon, Executive Housekeeper, Diamant Hotel Canberra, ACT, Australia
Myra Sullivan, Executive Housekeeper, Rendezvous Hotel Adelaide, SA, Australia
Nadia Moriconi De Almeida, Assistant Executive Housekeeper, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW, Australia
Patricia Sutherland, The Sebel Chatswood, NSW, Australia
Rashmi Tulsiani, Executive Housekeeper, Crown Metropol, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Sarah Young, Executive Housekeeper, Rydges Hotel World Square, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sri Yanti, Ibis Hotel World Square, Sydney, NSW, Australia

36. Hotel Engineer

Andre Van Staden, Maintenance Manager, The Sebel Harbourside Kiama, NSW, Australia
Craig Cavers, Chief Engineer, Hilton Sydney, NSW, Australia
David Hird, Chief Engineer, Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Dieter Spielkamp, Chief Engineer, Novotel Twin Waters Resort Sunshine Coast, QLD, Australia
Greg Mallett, Chief Engineer, Novotel Melbourne St Kilda, VIC, Australia
Manuel Wong, Chief Engineer, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW, Australia
Mohammed Sharif, Chief of Engineering, Sofitel Brisbane Central, QLD, Australia
Robin Power, Area Engineering Manager, Crowne Plaza Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Sean Smith, Building Manager, The York By Swiss-Belhotel,  Sydney, NSW, Australia
Tom Champion, Hotel Engineer, Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco, New Zealand

37. Rising Star

Ben Krieg, General Manager, Mercure Geelong, NSW, Australia
Cory Clark-Goodison, Apprentice Chef, The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury Valley, NSW, Australia
Daniel Phu, Food and Beverage Attendant, Sofitel Brisbane Central, QLD, Australia
Danielle De Veaux, Front Office Manager, Establishment Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Elyse Vartuli, Corporate Sales Manager, Sydney Harbour Marriott, NSW, Australia
Laura Gibb, Assistant Manager, Mercure Hotel Hobart, TAS, Australia
Morgan Uganathan, Assistant Housekeeping Manager, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW, Australia
Rebecca Patterson, Guest Services Manager, The Swiss-Grand Resort and Spa, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Richmond Rodrigues, Commi Chef, Hilton Cairns, QLD, Australia
Ross Jack, Receptionist, Mercure Sydney, NSW, Australia

MAJOR AWARDS

38. South Pacific General Manager

Adam Laker, General Manager, Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa, Fiji
Bernard Isautier, General Manager, Vahine Island, Tahaa, French Polynesia
Michael Monks, General Manager, Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa, Fiji
Shane Cunning, Managing Director, Sheraton Fiji Resort, Fiji
Greg Maloney, General Manager, Radisson Fiji Resort, Fiji
Julian Moore, General Manager, Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Peter Hopgood, General Manager, Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji
Scott Williams, General Manager, InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Fiji
Steve Anstey, General Manager, Liku Liku Lagoon Resort, Fiji
Wayne Milgate, General Manager, Vomo Island, Fiji

39. New Zealand General Manager

Blair Chalmers, General Manager, Kingsgate Hotel Rotorua
Bruce Garrett, General Manager, The George, Christchurch
Callum Mallett, General Manager, SkyCity Grand Hotel, Auckland
Chris Partridge, General Manager, Hilton Auckland and Hilton Lake Taupo
Clare Davies, General Manager, Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco
Fraser McKenzie, General Manager, Novotel Rotorua Lakeside
Matthew Anderson, General Manager, Crowne Plaza Queenstown
Philip Hilton, General Manager, Novotel Wellington
Rob McIntyre, General Manager, Pullman Auckland
Wouter de Graaf, General Manager, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa

40. Australian General Manager

Erkin Aytekin, General Manager, Novotel Melbourne St Kilda, VIC
Joost Heymeijer, General Manager, Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW
Kelye Woodgate, General Manager, The York by Swiss-Belhotel, Sydney, NSW
Marije Kleverlaan, Area General Manager, 8Hotels, Sydney, NSW
Mark Wilkinson, General Manager, Novotel Twin Waters Resort, Sunshine Coast
Michael Sheridan, General Manager, The Sebel Pier One, Sydney, NSW
Michael Smith, General Manager, The Menzies Sydney, NSW
Paul Hutton, General Manager, Hilton Sydney, NSW
Peter Tudehope, General Manager, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney, NSW
Russell Durnell, General Manager, Palazzo Versace, Gold Coast, QLD

41. Environmental Program

Hilton Adelaide, SA, Australia
Hilton Sydney, NSW, Australia
Legends Resort Moorea, French Polynesia
Novotel Canberra, ACT, Austalia
Pacific Resort Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, VIC, Australia
Sydney Marriott Hotel, NSW, Australia
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW, Australia
Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia

42. Supplier

To be announced on the night at the 2011 HM Awards

43. Hotel Brand*

Art Series, Rydges / AHL
Crown, Crown (Melbourne)
Four Seasons, Four Seasons Hotels
Hilton, Hilton Worldwide
Hyatt, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
InterContinental Hotels, IHG
Medina Apartment Hotels, Toga Hospitality
Sofitel Luxury Hotels, Accor Hotels
Swissotel, Fairmont Raffles
The Langham, Langham Hospitality Group
The Westin, Starwood

44. Accommodation Chain*

Accor Hotels
Hilton Worldwide
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
InterContinental Hotels Group
Langham Hospitality Group
Mantra Group
Mirvac Hotels and Resorts
Quest Serviced Apartments
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
Starwood Pacific Hotels
Toga Hospitality

45. Hotel of the Year*

Crown Towers Melbourne, VIC
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, NSW
Hilton Sydney, NSW
InterContinental Sydney, NSW
Palazzo Versace, Gold Coast, QLD
Q Station Retreat, Manly, NSW
Saffire, Coles Bay, TAS
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, NSW
The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, NSW
Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow, NSW  

46. HM magazine New Zealand Hotelier

To be announced on the night at the 2011 HM Awards

47. HM magazine Australian Hotelier of the Year

To be announced on the night at the 2011 HM Awards

48. HM magazine Asia-Pacific Hotelier of the Year

To be announced on the night at the 2011 HM Awards

Hall of Fame inductees

To be announced on the night at the 2011 HM Awards

*Entries were not allowed for Hotel Brand, Accommodation Chain and Hotel of the Year – these were nominations exclusively from our judging panel.


Hawaiian launches new business class fares to US mainland

HAWAIIAN AIRLINES ADDS MORE VALUE TO US HOLIDAYS, WITH BUSINESS CLASS SPECIALS TO 10 MAINLAND CITIES

Hawaiian Airlines has added even more value to holidays in America, launching a range of super Business Class fares from Australia to 10 US mainland destinations.

The special fares from Sydney, via Honolulu, are priced from just $3176 in the low season.

Hawaiian also has also included domestic Economy Class flights with Virgin Australia for passengers flying from Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to connect with the Sydney- Honolulu services.

"The ongoing strength of our dollar has already made the USA one of the best value holiday destinations for Australian travellers," said Sherilyn Robinson, General Manager Sales and Marketing for Hawaiian Airlines in Australia. "Our special fares in Business Class will make this holiday even more memorable."

Hawaiian's new Business Class fares are available from Sydney to destinations including six Californian gateways, the entertainment city of Las Vegas and the cruise port of Seattle. They include:

Large, comfortable leather seats, with lumbar support, footrests and a spacious 42 inch seat pitch
Hawaiian regional cuisine created by the airline's consulting chef, Honolulu-based restaurateur Chai Chaowasaree, and free beverage service throughout the flight
Priority check-in and lounge access at airports including Sydney and Honolulu
Priority baggage handling and a free luggage allowance of two pieces, each weighing up to 32 kilograms, and
Free use of dig-E-player portable entertainment units on flights between Sydney and Honolulu

Hawaiian also offers frequent flyer rewards not only through its own HawaiianMiles programme, but as a partner in the Velocity programme of Virgin Australia, enabling Velocity members to earn and redeem points on Hawaiian Airlines flights.

Hawaiian's special Business Class fares from Sydney to the US mainland are listed below for travel in the low season. Prices also are available for travel in the shoulder and high seasons.

This table also lists prices from Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, including the Economy Class domestic add-on fares to Sydney.

click to enlarge


All of these are return fares, including taxes, correct at 22 July. Seats are limited at these prices and some conditions apply.

Applicable travel season dates are as follows:

Low Season: 01 February-31 March and 01 November-09 December

Shoulder Season: 17-31 January, 01 April-16 June, 18July – 31 October

High Season: 01-16 January, 17 June – 17 July, 10-31 December

For more information or to make a booking contact travel agents, call Hawaiian Airlines Reservations on 1300 669 106 or visit www.hawaiianairlines.com.au

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Look to Book Online with ecruising



FOR travellers wanting to make their own cruise arrangements ecruising.travel has developed an online booking system that permits booking in six easy steps with the “Look to Book” system.

Travellers can choose from voyages with Costa, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises with live availability, cabin and deck plans with all discounted prices updated daily.

To use the system simply search for one of the above cruise lines and in the results, look for the red Cruise Only and Book Online links then click on the link and go from there. All “Book Online” cruises include port and government taxes.

ecruising’s system also has the added benefit of being the first Australian travel company to introduce a virtual merchant facility to simplify payments. This means that whilst immediate payments could be charged, no passenger’s credit card details are accessible to ecruising.travel staff or management.

Once you pay your deposit or if you're inside 70 days of departure full payment, you'll instantly receive by email an invoice with the costings, itinerary and receipt and all this can be done in two minutes.

The system is currently for cruise only but if users require any assistance or help with land touring in conjunction with a cruise, ecruising support staff are readily available by telephone on 1300-369-848 or by email on support@ecruising.travel

Sale with Sunsail



Sunsail, the world's largest yacht charter company shall have its strongest presence at the Sydney Boat Show – 28 Jul-02 Aug 11.

Newly appointed Head of Distribution, Mark Windsor announced ‘We see the importance of being present at the largest boat show in the country and as such we shall have senior members of the organisation present including our COO, Cheryl Powell from the USA; our new Sales Manager, Sarita Wait; Yacht Operations Manager, Graham Black & Sailing School Principal, Jon Croft.

In addition we shall also have on display the Sunsail 53. Now the largest monohull in the Sunsail fleet, the 53 built by Jeanneau, is perfect for larger groups and families, looking for a combination of sailing performance and comfort. Above and below deck, her layout allows for plenty of room for socialising, but also offers practicality and performance where required. The 53 is a pleasure to sail and is responsive to touch, her electric winches and bow thrusters make her surprisingly easy to handle. This yacht is part of Yacht Ownership programme, and David Flynn frommSunsail Yacht Ownership will be on hand to answer questions, more details can be found at http://www.sunsail.com.au/yacht-sales/yacht-partnership/about-us

Windsor went on to say, ‘We plan to have lots of fun over the 5 days showcasing the sailing holidays, destinations and fleet of Sunsail. A Boat Show special will be available for bookings, plus we’ll have giveaways and the chance to win a 5 day charter in The Whitsundays.’

For more information contact Sunsail on 1800 803 988 or visit www.sunsail.com.au.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

LAN launches speedy new connections to Rio from Australia and New Zealand


LAN Airlines has introduced speedy new connections from Santiago, Chile, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for passengers arriving from Australia and New Zealand.

Flight LA800, LAN's daily service from Sydney and Auckland, arrives in Santiago at 11.40am.

It connects quickly with new flight LA 772, an Airbus A320 service departing Santiago at 12.25pm and arriving in Rio at 5.35pm – a journey of 4 hours, 10 minutes.

The return flight, LA 773, departs Rio at 6.25pm, arriving in Santiago at 10.05pm, a flight of 4 hours, 45 minutes.

This connects smoothly with LAN flight LA 801, which departs Santiago at 10.50 each night, bound for Auckland and Sydney.

"Brazil is the largest country in South America, and one of the fastest growing in terms of both business and leisure travel," said Patricio Aylwin, LAN's General Manager Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

"Rio de Janeiro is the best-known and most iconic city in Brazil, and one of the most exciting not only in South America, but in the world," said Mr Aylwin. "We are confident that this new connection will provide not only faster access to Rio, but the opportunity for visitors to experience even more of South America."

LAN operates more flights from Australia and New Zealand to South America than any other airline.

Within South America, LAN flies to almost 60 destinations in 10 countries, and continues to build its operations on the continent, one of the world's fastest growing travel markets.

To accommodate the continuing growth in visitor numbers, the LAN group has placed orders for in excess of 100 new aircraft, including new Airbus A320-family jets to help build frequency on existing routes in South America and to open new markets.

LAN is a member of the oneworld global airline alliance.

For more information or to make a booking contact travel agents or visit www.lan.com

Friday, July 15, 2011

AGGIE GREY’S GETS THUMBS-UP – AGAIN – FOR FAMILY HOLIDAYS


FOR the third time in four years, Samoa's Aggie Grey's Lagoon, Beach Resort and Spa has been voted by Australian guests one of the South Pacific's Top Five family resorts.
 
It was also the only Samoan resort to make the Top Five, with others in the list being located in Vanuatu, the Cook Islands (two properties) and Tahiti; Fiji had its own separate winners, with ten properties due to its larger size.

Family-travel specialists, Holiday with Kids invited readers of its print and online magazine to vote for their favourite resorts in Asia, Australia, the South Pacific and the USA, and with the assistance of Club Med, Ubid 4 Rooms and Take a Break, reached a database of nearly 500,000 holidaymakers.

Participants registered their votes for the Top Ten winners in the larger regions and destinations, and Top Five in others

Readers who voted Aggie Grey's Lagoon, Beach Resort and Spa into the Top Five "Rest of the South Pacific" gave it the thumbs-up for its fun and educational facilities for children, including its Dolphins Kids Club that is open from early morning to late at night with healthy supervised activities, and programs that involve children in learning about and understanding the culture and lifestyle of the Samoan people.

The Dolphins Kids Club was also popular for allowing parents quality-time to themselves to enjoy the resort's many facilities, knowing their children were in safe hands.

For details about holidaying at Aggie Grey's Lagoon, Beach Resort and Spa, that is set within 90ha of tropical gardens looking out to the picturesque island of Savaii, see travel agents.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

FORMULE 1 METAMORPHOSISES WITH NEW COCOON ROOMS

Formule 1, the brand that revolutionized budget travel, has introduced its new "Cocoon" room concept into Australia, with F1 hotels in Canberra, Campbelltown and Wentworthville the first to showcase the new rooms. F1 Campbelltown was the very first Formule 1 in Australia, and its refurbishment is well timed as Accor celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.

The Cocoon Room provides a more stylish, more restful room with soft colours, rounded edges and soothing lighting, as well as extra storage space. With wood-look floors, flat screen TVs with extra channels, internet connections and a strong focus on sustainability, the Cocoon Room won Best Interior Design at the European Hotels Design Awards and represents a real metamorphosis for the brand, which was first introduced in 1984.

The new rooms have strong environmental credentials, with water-efficient showers and toilets, recyclable materials used throughout and energy efficient lighting.

"The Formule 1 brand really revolutionised budget travel by offering ensuite rooms that could comfortably sleep one, two or three people at an affordable price," said Simon McGrath, Vice President Accor Australia. "The introduction of the Cocoon Room concept is another revolution for the brand and highlights how much the brand has upgraded to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of today's travellers.

"With these new rooms, we believe Formule 1 offers the best value for money sleep in the market."

The Cocoon Rooms will be rolled out to all 20 Formule 1 hotels in Australia over the next few years.

Popular with families, sporting groups and couples on a budget, Formule 1 hotels cost less so you can spend more on the attractions, restaurants or events in your destination. They are typically located near airports or key transport hubs and increasingly in major cities, with more than 80 hotels across five continents including Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Japan and South Africa.  In Europe, the Formule 1 brand concept comes under the ETAP brand which includes a network of 420 hotels.

An Accor budget brand, Formule 1/ETAP Hotels offer customers the best in low-cost hotels with well-designed rooms for one, two, or three people, round-the-clock room access and an all-you-can-eat breakfast. Located near major roads and airports – and increasingly in cities – the hotels deliver highly competitive value for money.

www.accorhotels.com


THAI Announces Direct Flights from Bangkok to Brussels, Belgium


On 27 June 2011, Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) announced the introduction of direct flights to be operated three times a week non-stop on the route Bangkok – Brussels v.v., utilizing Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, with services commencing on 17 November 2011.

Mr. Pandit Chanapai, THAI Executive Vice President for Commercial, said "THAI is pleased to introduce Brussels as its newest destination to serve the European Union (EU), as the only Southeast Asian carrier to operate non-stop flights on the route Bangkok-Brussels and vice versa.  Flights to Brussels will serve business travel among the international community from Thailand and the European Union conducting state travel.  Leisure passengers from Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France will also take advantage of direct flights into Bangkok, with passengers traveling beyond Bangkok to Thai domestic destinations and other parts of Southeast Asia."

THAI will operate a total of three flights per week from Bangkok to Brussels.

THAI's direct service on flight TG934 will depart Bangkok on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 00.30 hours and arrive in Brussels at 07.00 hours.  On the return, flight TG935 will depart Brussels on the same day at 13.30 hours and arrive in Bangkok at 06.20 hours on the next day.  Total flight time on the Bangkok-Brussels route is 12.30 hours and 10.50 hours on the return from Brussels-Bangkok.  Brussels is THAI's 72nd destination.

Flights from Australia's on-line cities : Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth will offer direction connections to/from the new Brussels services giving Australian travellers one-stop flights to a choice of 14 major cities in Europe.  Sydney and Melbourne offer connections to/from Brussels 3 flights a week; Brisbane has outbound connections to Brussels with a day in Bangkok on the return; Perth has a weekly outbound connection to Brussels with a stopover required on the return.

THAI will utilize Boeing 777-200ER aircraft on the Bangkok-Brussels v.v. route and can carry a total of 292 passengers with 30 seats in Royal Silk Class and 262 seats in Economy Class, with seats in all classes of travel equipped with personal screens and the latest in-flight entertainment system.  All flights to/from Australia also offer personal entertainment systems for all passengers.

Brussels is the capital of Belgium and the European Union.  As Brussels is within close proximity to the Netherlands, THAI's direct flight serves state travel conducted by officials from the International Court of Justice in The Hague as well as other international organizations headquartered in Brussels such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Flights on the route Bangkok-Brussels v.v. may be booked from 1 July 2011 onwards via travel agents or on-line at www.thaiairways.com.au.

For more information, contact travel agents or THAI on 1300 651 960 or THAI's Bangkok Call Center on (662) 356-1111, 24 hours.

Official programme and website for the Centenary of Machu Picchu's rediscovery released


The official programme of Machu Picchu's Centenary celebrations has been released and Australian travellers can enjoy various events this July whilst on holiday visiting the mystical Incan citadel.

The website www.machupicchu100.org.pe, detailing all the centenary events, has recently been launched containing information about the citadel and details of events taking place. You can also take a virtual panoramic tour of Machu Picchu by following this link.

On 07 July the official celebrations and ceremony will be taking place at Machu Picchu, and the city of Cusco will be a hive of festivities with many cultural and artistic shows.  Also, Cusco's Main Plaza will become a focal point as a big screen will be showing the main ceremonies taking place at Machu Picchu, ensuring everyone can take part in the celebrations.  Also, a concert by famous Peruvian musician Micky Gonzales will entertain audiences in the Main Plaza with his fusion rock.

After the main celebrations on 07 July, the festivities continue as throughout July many events will be held including street dancing, a photographic exhibition, gastronomy fairs and competitions, cocktail contest and concerts.

Peru's Tourism Board coordinator for Asia Pacific, Rosana Guinea, asserts that the centenary celebrations will be a very proud and vibrant occasion for everyone in Peru. "Travellers visiting Peru at this time will be taking part in an historic and momentous occasion for Peru.  Many events will be taking place throughout the month so visitors will have a unique insight into the Peruvian culture and history," she said.

For more information on Peru, please visit www.peru.travel

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

BUSINESS TRAVEL MAKES GOOD BUSINESS SENSE

Business travel is a driving force behind building new customers and expanding into international markets according to an international report into the role of business travel in today's tourism market.

The report, recently released by the World Travel & Tourism Council and undertaken by Oxford Economics, found a clear relationship between business travel, corporate performance and economic growth, through a survey of business travellers and executives from the US, UK, Germany, Brazil and China.

ATEC Managing Director, Felicia Mariani, said the report Business Travel: A Catalyst for Economic Performance revealed Chinese businesses in particular, valued the opportunity to make face-to-face connections.

3610093788_790d207ab7.jpg
Chinese business people prefer face-to-face meetings
"Nine out of ten Chinese executives found face-to-face business meetings were essential to their organisations success and improved their chance of increasing sales," Ms Mariani said.

"This finding has significance for Australian businesses in particular, as almost every industry is looking to China as a booming market for their products.

"The report found a clear relationship between business travel and corporate performance as well as economic growth with business travel not only helping the bottom line, but contributing to the growth in economies, raising incomes and creating jobs."

The report found global corporate productivity yielded a return on investment of 10:1 with one unit of new business travel spending producing ten units of industry sales.

"In a global environment where the value of business travel may be questioned, this report shows just how important it is to have face-to-face contact with potential customers, estimating that around 50% of prospective new customers are converted to new customers with an in-person meeting.

"In fact, more than 1/3 of those surveyed said they thought their customers would switch to a competitor without an in-person meeting."

Other key findings from the report include:

·         Around one third of growth in global trade in the past 10 years has come from international business travel
·         Attendance at trade shows is estimated to generate 15% of annual revenue
·         Executives say 29% of their company's new sales depend on business travel
·         Three quarters of executives believe business travel increases profits, sales, partnerships and innovation

"This report reveals two key issues for the tourism industry; the benefit of business travel to international trade and the value of face-to-face meetings in establishing strong business connections with conversion into sales.

"With Business events travel, a major and high yielding component of our $25 billion tourism industry, Australia has the capacity to benefit significantly from embracing the opportunities the business travel sector brings to the tourism market."

The World Travel & Tourism Council report is available at http://www.wttc.org


TRAVEL+LEISURE WORLD'S BEST AWARDS - SOFITEL QUEENSTOWN HOTEL & SPA NAMED BEST SPA


SOFITEL QUEENSTOWN HOTEL & SPA NAMED BEST SPA AT THE 2011 TRAVEL+LEISURE WORLD'S BEST AWARD

Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa has been named the World's Best Hotel Spa in this year's Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards.

Travel+Leisure is one of North America's most respected and highest circulating travel magazines with a focus on authentic, innovative, and irresistible experiences across the globe. Survey results are based on readers' ratings, with hotel spas specifically judged on the basis of their ambience, treatments, service and value.

Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa earned the top spot in the overall spa category earning a total score of 98.93 out of 100 eligible points.

General Manager Wouter De Graaf says, "We're ecstatic. To be recognised as the world's very best against thousands of other hotel spas' is a phenomenal achievement. It goes to prove that despite what might be considered a remote location at the bottom of the world in Queenstown our spa service is so exceptional that we still come out sitting at the very top of it. "

Indeed, the boutique Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa beat not only its competitors in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific but all other regions too including Asia, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, Hawaii, the USA and Canada.

Launched in 2005 as Queenstown's original five-star hotel, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa was reborn in 2010 following an impressive $2 million upgrade and extension which transformed the hotel's vacant ground floor to add a new entry area and foyer, cafe, business centre, sit-down reception and luxury lobby with direct access to its LeSpa day spa. Sofitel opened LeSpa in September 2007.

In spite of its distinct French influence courtesy of the Sofitel brand's Parisian origins, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa's LeSpa is nothing if not true to its geographical location with restful décor on display as inspired by the destination's rugged ranges and glacial lakes. The result is an unequivocally 'New Zealand' sensorial experience with the trimmings including the use of traditional local treatments alongside the use of indulgent Decleor products and private hammam.

LeSpa's signature treatments have a powerful undercurrent of Maori lore offering century-old rituals and traditional therapies, many of which are available nowhere else in the country, let alone the world. Treatments use natural, native ingredients such as Manuka honey, beeswax, shimmering paua shells, and volcanic clay from the North Island's famed Rotorua geothermic region and famously employed by Maori healers.

Among the many decadent spa offerings, Sofitel guests will find traditional Maori rituals including the Ataahua treatment and time honoured 'Pounamu' greenstone massage believed to possess intuitive healing powers.

Mr De Graaf says the Travel+Leisure award is true testament to the hard work and dedication of the Sofitel team in Queenstown who have worked hard to fine tune and develop the product since its launch six years ago.

"At Sofitel Luxury Hotels, our focus is on the guest experience and extending memorable and impeccable service to our guests, and that includes our hotel spa services. We are honored that our commitment has been recognised by the discerning readers of Travel+Leisure themselves."

The Travel+Leisure honour follows Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa's admission into the aspirational Exclusive Accommodation Category of Qualmark™ - New Zealand tourism's official quality assurance system – in April 2011. Sofitel is the only internationally branded hotel to have Exclusive Qualmark status in the accommodation category, and also earned Enviro-Gold Status in the Qualmark™ category for Green operators.

Highlights from the Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards 2011 readers' survey were announced in the USA on Thursday the 7th of July on NBC's Today Show. Winners will be honoured during an awards ceremony to be held in Los Angeles on Thursday, July 14.

The Travel + Leisure World's Best Awards 2011 are featured now on TravelandLeisure.com/worldsbest and will appear in the August issue of Travel + Leisure magazine (due for release July 22). The complete survey methodology is available on TravelandLeisure.com/worldsbest and in the August issue.

Discover Sofitel on www.sofitel.com

Discover A|Club at Sofitel, the worldwide Accor loyalty program on www.a-club.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

2011 National Travel Industry Awards



Australia's travel industry celebrates its night of nights

Tonight almost 1000 travel agents and suppliers gathered for the annual National Travel Industry Awards, once again held at the Sydney Westin Hotel.

The eagerly anticipated night of nights saw the industry celebrate top achievers in a range of categories, with huge interest in the winners announced tonight by MC Jules Lund.

AFTA ceo Jayson Westbury said it was a great occasion to celebrate after a year in which travel agents have truly proved their worth to the travelling public, dealing with a spate of disasters from which the industry continues to recover.

Diehards are continuing to celebrate at the 'afta' party which is expected to continue into the early hours of the morning.

The winners from tonight were:

Rookie of the Year - Agent: Katrina Tasker, Escape Travel Chatswood
Best Travel Consultant - Retail: Anne Westby, Travelcentre Bendigo
Best Travel Agency Retail - Single Location: Harvey World Travel Lane Cove NSW
Best Travel Agency Retail - Multi Location: Phil Hoffmann Travel
Best Travel Consultant - Corporate: Hannah Moore, The Travel Authority
Best Travel Agency Corporate - Multi Location: Globetrotter Corporate Travel
Best Travel Agency Corporate - Single Location: Spencer Travel
Best Conference & Incentive Travel Agency: etm group
Best National Corporate Travel Management Company: Corporate Travel Management
Best Innovation in Marketing - Retail Agency: Phil Hoffmann Travel
Best Travel Writer: Stephen Scourfield, The West Australian
Best Registered Travel Industry Training Institution: Brisbane North Institute of TAFE
Best Hotel/Resort - Australian Property: Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa
Best Hotel/Resort Group: Accor
Best Agency Support Service: Air Tickets
Best Tourist Office - National: Tourism Queensland
Best Tourist Office - International: Tourism New Zealand
Rookie of the Year - Industry Supplier: Christian Coronica, AAT Kings
Best Sales Executive - Industry Supplier: Blake Muir, Topdeck
Best Car/Campervan Rental Operator: Hertz
Best Tour Operator - International: Insight Vacations
Best Tour Operator - Domestic: AAT Kings
Best Cruise Operator - International Based Operation: APT
Best Cruise Operator - Australian Based Operation: Princess Cruises
Best Wholesaler - International Product: Creative Holidays
Best Wholesaler - Australian Product: Qantas Holidays & Viva! Holidays
Best Domestic Airline: Qantas Airways
Best International Airline - Off-Line: Lufthansa German Airlines
Best International Airline - On-Line: Singapore Airlines
Best Agency Group [100 stores or more]: Travelscene American Express

More details and lots of exclusive pictures from the event in Monday's Travel Daily and at www.traveldaily.com.au/photos.

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