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Friday, November 29, 2013

The Doobie Brothers and Elvis Costello & The Imposters to star in new Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival

A new music festival in Queenstown is set to be a standout event on the South Island entertainment calendar.

The first Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival -- a one-day outdoor event to be held at the Queenstown Events Centre onSaturday April 26 2014 with The Remarkables mountain range forming a lofty backdrop – features a stunning line-up of acclaimed national and international acts.

Headlining the day will be legendary California rock band The Doobie Brothers, along with acclaimed singer-songwriterElvis Costello and The Imposters, New Zealand’s favourite live collaborative group Fly My Pretties, dub, funk, afrobeat and soul masters The Black Seeds, veteran blues musician King Leo and all-girl group The Johnnys, who deliver Johnny Cash songs like no-one’s heard ‘em before.

Elvis Costello is coming to Queenstown for the first time to appear at the Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival_media  - photo credit Danny Clinch
Elvis Costello is coming to Queenstown for the first time to appear at the Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival_media - photo credit Danny Clinch
The new festival also plans to hold a busking competition in Queenstown over Easter weekend (April 18-20), the winner of which will receive a coveted spot on the main stage for the Blues & Roots Festival.

The non-stop, full production music festival – scheduled to kick off from 11am with the first act on stage from 12 noon – will see up to 15,000 people enjoying the very best in blues, soul and rock and roll accompanied by an exciting array of local food, beer, wine and market stalls.

The Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival director is Grant Hilton, who has 30 years’ experience in the music and hospitality industries and extensive tour management and merchandising experience.

For ten years he held a range of management roles with the internationally-renowned Byron Bay Bluesfest, a five-day annual event that attracts over 100,000 attendees and presents more than 100 acts and is now in its 25th year.

Queenstown hospitality professional Barry Ellis – managing director of the Ellis Hospitality Group which owns and operates the resort town’s Pig & Whistle pub and Monty’s bar, along with three more restaurants and bars in Dunedin, is also a director of the event.

“We’ve been planning this event for a number of months now and can’t wait to bring acts of this calibre to the Queenstown Events Centre, which with its main oval creating many vantage points is a superb venue for the festival,” said Mr Ellis.

“With this line-up there really is something for everyone, a great fun day out not only for Queenstown locals and visitors, but for music-lovers from all around the South Island and further afield.

The Doobie Brothers are set to rock Queenstown at the inaugural Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival_media“It’s a massive boost to tourism at a quieter time of year so we’d really encourage everyone to get in quick for their tickets and book themselves a good ‘mini-break’ in our beautiful four-season resort to coincide with ANZAC Day weekend.

“And what better way to enjoy the day than with some great food and local wine to go with your music?”
Tickets for the first Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival go on sale on Monday December 2 through the website www.queenstownbluesrootsfestival.co.nz or by contacting 0800 BLUESQT (0800 2583778) or qtbluesfest@gmail.com.

Limited ‘First Release’ tickets are available at $99 per person.

The Acts
One of the enduring worldwide favourites of the 1970s, The Doobie Brothers will bring their celebrated catalogue of rock music to Queenstown. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s they evolved from a mellow, post-hippie boogie band to a slick, soul-inflected pop outfit.

Extolling smart pop hooks and warm, soulful vocals along the way, the group racked up a string of gold and platinum albums, along with a number of radio hits like ‘Listen to the Music’, ‘Black Water’, ‘Long Train Runnin’, ‘Takin’ It To The Streets’ and ‘China Grove’, lacing their country-rock with an enjoyable dash of funk.

With founding members Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons, and 30 year-plus veteran John McFee, the Doobies will be performing as an eight-piece band including Tony Pia, Ed Toth, John Cowan, Marc Russo and Guy Allison.

Elvis Costello has followed his musical curiosity in a career spanning almost four decades with a back catalogue of over 40 albums covering nearly every Queenstown Blues & Roots Festival logogenre of music. 

 He is probably best known for his performances with The Attractions, The Imposters and his solo shows with pianist Steve Nieve.

A swag of nominations and awards include Grammy Awards, ASCAP’s prestigious Founders Award, an Oscar nomination and being inducted into the Rock’N’Roll Hall of Fame -- evidence of the respect and awe he commands from his peers.

Over the years he has worked with and written for the very best names in the music industry and most recently gatecrashed his own horizons by collaborating with The Roots, producing Wise Up Ghost.

Elvis and The Imposters (Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas and Davey Faragher) are promising their Queenstown audience an incredible Costello musical encyclopedia ‘refresher course’ with a selection of songs from the past, present and future.

Fly My Pretties first entered New Zealander’s hearts and minds in 2004, with the assembly of a talented and exciting group of Wellington-based musicians for a special project. From that first successful season, sell out tours and platinum albulms followed.

The eight-strong Black Seeds, with instruments including vocals, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, bass, drums, bongos, keyboard and wood block, have two double-platinum selling albums in New Zealand and successful European album releases, while The Johnnys, formed in 2011, are renowned for their sensitive, character-filled renditions of all the Cash classics coloured with spine-tingling vocal harmonies and infectious undertones of the Pacific.

King Leo will draw on the classic hard-driving sounds of Chicago, Texas and New Orleans – and his experience playing in the U.S. with a variety of blues bands and such masters of the genre as Bo Diddley -- to bring high energy, good-time music and dancing to Queenstown.

The Adventure Travel Film Festival 14-16 February 2014, Bright, Victoria

Calling all wanderlust travel enthusiasts and world adventurers! Want to see some of the world’s inspiring and dynamic travel adventure films in one action-packed weekend?

The Adventure Travel Film Festival is for everyone who has ever known the highs of travelling the world and experiencing new cultures, people and places. It is for like-minded, travel-addicts of all backgrounds and those seeking inspiration for that next great expedition. It is also a reminder that adventure travel can be undertaken on even the simplest of scales and lowest of budgets and open to anyone, anywhere.

Begun in the UK three years ago, the Adventure Travel Film Festival is now a must-do annual event for all the British and travel-enthusiasts and it fast becoming the same in Australia. The weekend festival was founded by Brit adventurers Austin Vince and Lois image028Pryce who wanted to create a three-day event that packed with all things adventure – including inspirational adventure travel films, speakers, workshops and social events guaranteed to stir the soul of seasoned adventurers, armchair travellers and dreamers alike to celebrate past experiences and inspire the next great adventure.
Against the scenic backdrop of Victoria’s Great Alpine Valleys in beautiful Bright on 14 to 16 February, there’ll be screenings of some of the best adventure travel films ever made. The 2014 line-up includes a veritable smorgasbord of big names from the adventuring world, attending the event from across the globe. They will have listeners on the edge of their seats for the re-telling of their epic and ambitious expeditions, undertaken on both the largest and smallest of scales and budgets.

Founder Austin Vince says: “Over the last ten years or so we have been sent tons of fantastic travel films from all over the world by largely unknown film-makers. They came from all over the globe and covered every form of transport — boats, bicycles, buses, motorcycles, 4x4s and even hitch-hiking and train-hopping.

“The ‘adventure travel’ shows we saw on TV, although polished and professional, were nothing in comparison to the real-life dramas that were arriving in our letterbox. Once we started searching actively, films came to the surface that were absolutely mind-blowing. We were amazed, and excited, that adventures of this quality, old and new, were essentially unknown by the public.  The festival provides a platform for the best independent travel films, and a reminder that anyone from anywhere can experience life-changing adventures and capture it on film to share with the world,” he said.

Among the many diverse and dynamic film highlights of the 2014 festival are: ‘African Odyssey’ which has four teenagers from New Zealand motorcycle from Cape Town to London with no motorcycle experience and a borrowed camera;  ‘Janapar; a travel yarn which interweaves a love story across continents and cultures; ‘Ocean Ambition’ and the tale of a young plucky Irishman’s attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Barbados; ‘White Silk Road’ a film about doing something that nobody has done before, as young snowboarders take to the untouched and dangerous parts of Afghanistan; ‘The Bus’ a celebration of the humble VW camper van as a symbol of free-spirited abandon and adventure; Between Home the story of artist and amateur sailor Nick Jaffe who decided to take the long way home to Australia, negotiating the treacherous waters from the UK to Sydney in a two year adventure; and a true classic ‘The Omidvar Brothers’ - impossibly rare, yet superb collection of vintage colour Iranian travel documentaries by the original Persian DIY Adventure Showmen.  

image030
And the festival hosts a huge range of must-see speakers including some of the country’s most experienced adventurers and travellers: author, presenter and adventurer Paul Carter; super climber and kayaker Peter Treby;  the best-selling travel author Brian Thacker;  acclaimed travel photographer and outback adventurer pilot Richard Green; renowned travel photographerCam Cope;  4wd adventurers Ron and Viv Moon  on the return of their drive crossing the Arctic  Circle to the North West Territories;  Jacob French who attracted worldwide headlines when he trekked solo across the Nullarbor in a storm trooper outfit for charity; and Michael Dillon, a veteran film maker having completed everything from Sir Edmund Hillary’s Ganges jet boat expedition to Tim Macartney-Snape’s Everest Sea-to-Summit expedition.

Yes, it’s all happening at The Adventure Travel Film Festival – whether you’re into trekking, motorcycling, 4x4-ing, kayaking, climbing, cycling, long-distance horse-riding or something more outlandish, it’s a must for any sane human, adventurer or not, who has ever dreamed of exploring our great wide world. Itchy feet guaranteed!

Key films in the festival program in 2014:
‘African Odyssey’ sees four teenagers from New Zealand motorcycle from Cape Town to London. Armed with no motorcycle experience and a borrowed camera, four friends from small-town Whakatane, decided to screw the job, the good advice about Africa and set off on the adventure of a life time – crossing the length of the African continent, on motorbikes most people wouldn’t ride to the cow shed. They managed to ride all 21,000km and showed how simple and accessible adventure can be.

Janapar is the Armenian word for ‘journey’.  This is a moving around-the-world cycling trip with a difference, interwoven with a touching tale of love in wild and wonderful places. Tom Allen, set off on the get-away-from-it-all trip of a lifetime. He pedaled away for over four years, overcoming obstacles faced at every turn. But something else happens during these difficult and turbulent months on the road that will change image029Tom forever. 

This is a true must-see film of the festival, so prepare to leave walking on air and breathlessly intoning the word Janapar…
In a country where no one flies, two friends inspired a nation by putting everything on the line. Following a dream,Canadian paraglider pilot Benjamin Jordan travels to Malawi to teach children the joys of kite flying. There he meets Godfrey, a young man who has always dreamt of flying but never had the means. The odd pair tour the country on bikes, building kites with local children while motivating them to follow their dreams, no matter the challenge. They head for Malawi’s highest peak, from where, after weeks of ground training, the two will attempt to fly down, making Godfrey the first Malawian paraglider pilot, and so completes the making of The Boy who Could Fly.

‘Ocean Ambition’ captures a young plucky Irishman’s attempt to become part of a world-record winning team rowing across the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to Barbados. Ocean rowing is a growing sport in which specialised boats are used to row across open oceans. The sport is as much psychological as it is physical – ocean rowers have to endure months at sea and it’s a given that they’ll be rowing twenty four hours a day, every day. It has been termed by some as ‘the new Everest’; but fewer people have rowed across an ocean than had climbed Everest or had been into space!! Climb aboard and get ready to row around the clock. 

‘White Silk Road’ sees three young Australian snowboarders take on one of the world’s most dangerous destinations- Afghanistan. But yes, sans ski resorts they had to conquer the mountain in an old-school six-hour walk through the enveloping snow for every run. This is a film about doing something that nobody has done before, and what they discovered in incredible mountains, breathtaking landscapes, and heart-warming communities of hospitable people.

‘Between Home’ is the story of artist and amateur sailor, Nick Jaffe. After living in Berlin for many years, he decided to take the long way home to Australia. Some called it brave, others crazy. In spite of the protests, Nick decided to sail solo from the UK to Australia, negotiating the treacherous waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The camera on board was his only companion on a trip that ends up taking over two years. It captures his reflective musings, his joyful excitement and his isolated struggles in this unique, poetic adventure documentary with an endless empty horizon in every direction. 

In a celebration of the humble VW camper van, ‘The Bus’ explores the camper van’s quietly understated role in getting tens of thousands of people ‘out there’. Few if any other brand of vehicle has generated such an evocative sense of ‘adventure’ than the VW. This is the remarkable story of a vehicle that became the symbol of free-spirited abandon – a nostalgic tale of freedom, love, friendship, breakdowns and, if you want, adventures. From Wolfsburg to Hollywood, Burning Man to Baja, people from all walks of life share their stories and passion in ‘The Bus’. 

‘Building the Alcan Highway’ is a 1947 adventure film classic which depicts the very wobbly building of one of the ten most essential road-trips of all time. The Alcan Highway has gone into overland travel folklore and even five decades later ensures certain bragging rights from anyone who has negotiated the length of the still unsealed road.

And for something truly classic and rarely seen, ‘The Omidvar Brothers’ is an impossibly rare, yet superb collection of vintage colour Iranian travel documentaries. In 1954 Issa and Abdullah Omidvar were in their twenties and growing restless in the suburbs of Tehran. The brothers ordered a couple of 500cc Matchless bikes and set off to see the world and make films about it! They shot incredibly sensitive, stand-alone anthropological documentaries about Eskimos, Amazonian cannibals, Polynesian islanders and much more. Yes, they really were the original Persian DIY Adventure Motorcycle Showmen!

And that is just the beginning. For the full festival program and updates as they are announced, please visit:
Also see Facebook and Twitter if you want to catch up with all the latest on the Festival news and announcements. 

FESTIVAL COSTS AND DETAILS:
Weekend (from $95) and day passes (from$65) are available in advance via the festival website. There are local hotels, campsites and B&Bs aplenty, with all budgets catered for in the accommodation in the beautiful are in Bright and surrounds. Please see website for further accommodation and ravel details.

Aussie and Kiwi Agents Become CLIA Masters at Sea

A group of more than 60 Australian and New Zealand travel agents have spent eight nights cruising the South Pacific as part of CLIA Australasia’s Masters Conference.

US-based sales guru and motivator Scott Koepf was at the helm of his 15th Masters, an annual CLIA Australasia event which combines intensive training sessions with a first-hand cruise experience. This year’s conference was spent on Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Spirit on a roundtrip Pacific Islands cruise from Sydney in late November.

Masters participants attended a series of sessions to help them sharpen their sales and marketing techniques. Between seminars they enjoyed the thrill of Carnival Spirit’s Green Thunder slide as well as visits to Noumea and the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia and idyllic Mare in the Loyalty Islands.

“This year’s Masters Conference was a huge success with agents gaining invaluable knowledge and tools to remain at the top of their game, while also experiencing all the fun onboard Carnival Spirit,” CLIA Australasia General Manager Brett Jardine said.

After completing the course and a comprehensive post-conference assignment, agents will enter the prestigious Cruise Masters’ ranks.

The annual Masters event is open to all agents currently holding CLIA accreditation and employed by a CLIA member travel agent. 

CLIA Masters_2013
Australian and New Zealand agents aboard Carnival Spirit during CLIA Australasia’s 2013 Masters Conference.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Charge up Your Team in 2014 at Spicers Retreats

Charge up your team in 2014 and experience a conference with a difference at a Spicers Retreats destination.

With a combination of breathtaking views, fine facilities, attentive service and award-winning cuisine, a
conference at Spicers Retreats is truly unique and inspiring - and all less than two hours' drive from Brisbane or Sydney.


With six stunning destinations in south-east Queensland and one in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Spicers Retreats offers high quality, competitively-priced options ideal for intimate conferences, team meetings, training workshops, executive retreats, incentive rewards, private parties and corporate events.

Fantastic midweek rates are available across all properties, and right now you'll receive a complimentary case of Louis Roederer NV champagne for every new conference booked and contracted by 31 January 2014.

The offer is available for midweek events of nine rooms per night and above, from Sunday to Thursday nights from 6 January until 30 June 2014.

Each Spicers property features meeting spaces, award-winning restaurants including The Long Apron, The Peak and Restaurant Botanica, and an assortment of activities to entertain your group, from archery and horse-riding to gourmet cooking classes. An onsite day spa, Spa Anise, is now available at four properties. 

Choose from the luxurious Spicers Peak Lodge, located high on a mountaintop in the spectacular Scenic Rim and surrounded by the Great Dividing Range; or go 'glamping' at nearby sister property Spicers Canopy - a solar-powered ecosite featuring luxurious safari-style tents.

Alternatively, hold your event at Spicers Balfour Hotel - a stylish renovated Queenslander property in New Farm in inner Brisbane; or experience a unique Australian adventure getaway at Spicers Hidden Vale, located on a 12,000 acre working farm in Grandchester.

Treat your staff or clients to a break in the picturesque Sunshine Coast hinterland at the Asian-inspired Spicers Tamarind Retreat in Maleny, or the nearby European-styled Spicers Clovelly Estate in the charming village of Montville.

Spicers Retreats also offers a wonderful opportunity to escape the city at Spicers Vineyards Estate, located on its own private vineyard in the breathtaking Hunter Valley wine region.

To find out more call 1300 687 643 or email conference@spicersgroup.com.au

Sofitel Introduces Unique Blend Of French Elegance and Local Charm To Indonesia

Sofitel Luxury Hotels continues to expand its luxury network across Asia, with its first Indonesian property scheduled to open in Nusa Dua, Bali on 20 December 2013.

Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort offers luxurious facilities and quality service offerings that reflect the brand’s combination of French elegance and flair view from the lobbywith warm Balinese hospitality, rich culture and fine arts. Designed by internationally acclaimed design firm, Wilson Associates, the hotel comprises 415 rooms and suites including 17 Private Villas, 22 Prestige Suites and 376 Luxury Rooms featuring Sofitel's signature MyBed, plush amenities and high tech fittings including complimentary broadband internet access.

“Sofitel is renowned for French luxury and sophistication. With the opening of Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, we’re introducing our signature French elegance and "cousu-main" tailor-made service to Indonesia. This spectacular resort is created as a unique holiday sanctuary retreat for business travellers, couples and families, offering all guests the height of resort living with world-class facilities,” said Goran Aleks, General Manager of Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Resort.

Delectable Culinary Offerings
luxury room with balconyConceptualized by Blue Plates in Singapore, the resort presents an eclectic set of dining options with three restaurants, two bars and a club lounge. Inspired by a “food market” dining concept, KWEE ZEEN serves Pan Asian menu in a relaxed dining atmosphere with each atelier highlighting a different cuisine from dumplings to hot grills. CCC (Cut Catch Cucina) features multi offerings with a steakhouse, Italian Osteria and Sea Grill while Artisan highlights classic Indonesian favourites including satay grills. From LE BAR (lobby bar), to L’OH Pool Bar, and the CLUB N5 Beach Club lounge, guests can also choose from one of the three different bars offering distinctive views and settings ideal for drinks and entertainment.

Relaxing Wellness and Fitness Amenities
Discover an oasis of well-being with the hotel’s wellness and fitness offerings allowing guests to rejuvenate in style. Guests will be able to relax in the resort’s gorgeous beachfront pool, get active at So FIT, the state-of-the-art fitness centre, or revitalize at So SPA, Sofitel’s spa concept where ancient traditions from around the world meet the refinement and skill of the latest in French cosmetology.

InspiredMeetings with a Balinese Touchpool villa
Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort also features Sofitel’s hallmark InspiredMeetings concept that combines the latest conference technology with a passion for excellence. The resort offers an array of innovative meeting and event facilities comprising a Grand Ballroom, a Retreat Grand Room, four meeting rooms, and one boardroom, featuring state-of-the-art technology and dedicated concierges, with names taken from traditional Balinese dances and musical instruments that invoke imagination and inspiration. The hotel offers some of the largest meetings and function facilities in Bali, with the Grand Ballroom able to accommodate up to 600 guests theatre style. 

A World of Fun for Kids
Fun for children and peace of mind for adults, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort offers a Kids Club packed with fun facilities and adventures. The resort’s kid’s club concept of learning, exploring, and fun is brought to life through extensive facilities comprising an outdoor kids’ pool, reading room, nap room, video game consoles and a host of activities from cooking classes, yoga for kids and various beach games.

Surrounded by swaying palms, white sand beaches and inviting turquoise waters, the much-anticipated Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort Bali brings all the key elements of a premium international beachfront hotel to one of the world’s most sought-after holiday destinations.

Tourism New Zealand, Christchurch Airport and Emirates Airlines Launch Road Trip Promotion

AS22_MASTER_reTourism New Zealand is partnering with Emirates Airlines, the Middle East’s largest carrier and Christchurch Airport in promoting stunningly beautiful South Island as the ultimate road trip destination for Thai travellers.

Self-drive, campervan and coach holidays from midsummer to early autumn from the heart of the South Islands - Christchurch are on offer from Bangkok to Christchurch at newzealand.com/int/campaign/thaiemirates/   

“South Island’s summer and fall seasons are full of colour, treating holiday makers to dramatically changing landscapes as they travel around the regions. These months showcase New Zealand at its finest, and driving around is the best way to experience the full glory of the seasons,” said Emirates Sales Manager Thailand & Indochina, Mr Virasakdi Vongkositkul.

Under the “100% Pure New Zealand Road Trips” campaign, a host of road trip options from Christchurch are available.  These range from visits to natural attractions and national parks such as Abel Tasman and Kahurangi; scenic boat cruises in the Marlborough Sounds; whale watching in Kaikoura; stargazing in Mt Cook; or checking out seasonal activities in Christchurch and Queenstown.

LAGOON1“Christchurch is a great first stop to discover the rest of the South Island.The iconic Christchurch trams back on track, the transitional ‘Cardboard’ Cathedral has opened and we have four central city hotels offering more accommodation options before travellers set off on their road trip vacation.

Choices from Christchurch are limitless, whether journeying south down the beautiful coast to Dunedin and Invercargill, circling through Fiordland and the Southern Alps to Queenstown, or north through the vineyard country of Marlborough, with whale and dolphin spotting at Kaikoura,” said Matthew Findlay, General Manager Aeronautical Business Development, Christchurch International Airport. He added that Thai arrivals in Christchurch for October were up 104% to 1,108 for the month – 12 months rolling, up 17.9%.

AC44_MASTER_reMischa Mannix-Opie, TNZ Regional Manager for South and Southeast Asia, added that visitors can drive from Christchurch through the South Island with ease and take their time exploring this most scenic part of the country. 

“Thai travellers can look forward to Kiwi hospitality as they meet the friendly locals, stop at vineyards or hot springs at will, and enjoy the solitude of miles upon miles of stunning views on open roads with little traffic. Add to this quaint accommodation options, luxury lodges, gourmet food and world-class wineries that will truly make the trip a memorable holiday.”

Package offers can be found on www.newzealand.com/int/campaign/thaiemirates/ and Bangkok to Christchurch economy class airfares on Emirates start at THB35,875* per person using promo code THSEENZ.

Situation Update: Thailand Political Developments

Inline images 1
Image: Reuters
  
Issued at Bangkok at 18.00 (GMT+7) on 27 November 2013

For tourists visiting the kingdom, it should be stressed that all of the locations occupied by the anti-government protesters in Bangkok and other provinces are not tourist attractions. Foreigners and/or tourists have not been targeted in the ongoing political protest. However, foreigners and/or tourists are advised to be vigilant and avoid areas where crowds may gather.

Apart from causing heavy road traffic during the anti-government protesters' marches to government offices, there has been no report of chaos or violence en route or at in any of the protest locations.

In Bangkok, the anti-government protesters are staging their protests at the following locations, which are not tourist attractions:

Democracy Monument on Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue
Nang Lerng Junction on Nakhonsawan-Phitsanulok Roads
Sanam Luang on Ratchadamnoen Nai Avenue
Makkawan Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue
Ministry of Finance on Rama VI Road
Government Complex on Chaengwattana Road
Ministry of Information and Communication Technology
Ministry of Justice and its Department of Special Investigation

The anti-government protesters are also gathering at the following government agencies, which are not tourist attractions:

Ministry of Tourism and Sports on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue
Ministry of Transport on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue
Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives on Ratchadanoen Nok Avenue
Ministry of Commerce on Nonthaburi Road
Ministry of Energy on Vibhavadi Rangsit Road
Ministry of Labour on Mitmaitri Road
Ministry of Industry on Rama VI Road
Ministry of Social Development and Human Security on Damrong Rak Road
Ministry of Culture on Borommaratchachonnani Road
Ministry of Public Health on Tivanond Road

Meanwhile, the pro-government supporters are staging their campaign at Rajamangala Stadium on Ramkhamhaeng Road. The area is in the eastern part of Bangkok and far off from the above areas occupied or targeted by the anti-government protesters.

Outside of Bangkok, the anti-government protesters are campaigning at provincial city halls of, such as, Trang, Songkhla, Satun, Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Chumphon, Yala, Ranong, Pattalung, Surat Thani, Phuket, Phang-nga and Chai Nat. Officials have confirmed that none of the provincial halls have been seized by the protesters. No chaos or violence has been reported.

All tourist attractions in Bangkok, such as, the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on Na Phra Lan Road and Vimanmek Mansion on Rajvithi Road, Siam Paragon on Rama I Road, river tours along the Chao Phraya River, as well as elsewhere in Thailand, are open and operating as per normal. To avoid heavy road traffic in Bangkok, tourists can use water-based transport to visit the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Tourist activities in Pattaya, Hua Hin, Ko Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phang-nga and Krabi, for instance, are operating as per normal. These provinces' administration halls are located in official designated areas, and are not where tourists normally go to or where tour companies include in the tour programme.

However, tourists are advised to check travel route and road traffic situation as well as avoid areas where crowds may gather in Bangkok and other provinces. This is because there may be heavy road traffic at certain times and thus causing inconvenience.

In Bangkok, the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) has temporarily rerouted 12 city bus routes to avoid getting stuck in the areas where large crowds gather. In addition, given the large number of protesters, roads around or within the vicinity of Democracy Monument, Government House and the Parliament may be temporarily closed to traffic.

International and domestic airlines are operating flights between Bangkok and Thai cities, as well as destinations around the world, as per normal.

Suvarnabhumi Airport has advised air travellers of possible heavy road traffic and a lack of taxis resulting from the protests in Bangkok. Commuters are advised to use public transport such as BTS Skytrain, Airport Rail Link, public buses and vans, and limousine services. Air travellers are also advised to allocate more time before flight depart or at least three hours.

Life in Bangkok and all other areas of Thailand continues as per normal. Tourist attractions and activities as well as businesses in Bangkok and other provinces are not affected, and continue as usual as seen in these THAI LIVE CAM streaming cameras that present a number of stunning preset views of Thailand's most famous and popular destinations including Chiang Mai, Ko Samui and Nong Khai.

Thailand's main gateway, Suvarnabhumi Airport, in Bangkok and all other international and domestic airports throughout the country are operating as per normal. Transportation to and from Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports into central Bangkok as well as into tourist destinations southeast and southwest of Bangkok; such as, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Ko Samet and Ko Chang are operating as per normal. The State Railway of Thailand and the Transport Co., Ltd., (inter-provincial bus service) are operating as per normal.

Getting around Thailand

Bangkok, located 30 kilometres from Suvarnabhumi Airport or 30 minutes by car or 15 minutes by Airport Rail Link. Mass transit networks including BTS Skytrain, MRT Subway and city buses are operating as usual.
Chiang Mai, located 716 kilometres north of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport or 7 hours 44 minutes by car or 1 hour 10 minutes by air.
Phuket, located 865 kilometres south of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport or 9 hours 50 minutes by car or 1 hour 25 minutes by air.
Pattaya, located 120 kilometres southeast of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport or 1 hour 17 minutes by car.
Hua Hin, located 227.5 kilometres southwest of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport or 2 hours 40 minutes by car.
Ko Samui, located 804 kilometres southwest of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport or 10 hours 34 minutes by car and ferry or 1 hour 5 minutes by air.
Khon Kaen, located 458 kilometres northeast of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport or 5 hours by car or 55 minutes by air.
Nong Khai, located 630 kilometres northeast of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport or 7 hours 5 minutes by car.

Tourists need not be alarmed of the presence of security forces and checkpoints in Bangkok. Police are deployed to provide security in the city. Security has been stepped up to prevent ill-intentioned people from inciting violence. Traffic police are also stepping up efforts to ensure traffic flow in the city.

The Thai Government has announced the enforcement of the Internal Security Act (ISA) in all districts of Bangkok and Nonthaburi, Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan and Lat Lum Kaeo district of Pathum Thani until 31 December to maintain law and order.

The law does not prohibit nor obstruct peaceful demonstration held within the bounds of the law, but it enables security agencies - police, military and civilian - to effectively prevent and mitigate, as much as possible, undue disruption or impact on the safety of the general public.

Useful contact numbers:

Tourism Authority of Thailand Call Centre 1672

Thai Traffic Police Call Centre 1197

Thai Tourist Police Call Centre 1155

Bangkok Tourism Division Call Centre +66 (0) 2225 7612-4

Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (city bus service) Call Centre 1348

State Railway of Thailand Call Centre 1690

Transport Co., Ltd., (inter-provincial bus service) Call Centre 1490

Airports of Thailand Call Centre 1722

Thai Airways International (THAI) Call Centre  +66 (0) 2356 1111

Bangkok Airways Reservation Centre 1771

Nok Air Call Centre 1318

Thai AirAsia Call Centre  +66 (0) 2515 9999

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney unveils new Full Harbour View Junior Suite

The spectacular sight of the soaring white sails of the Sydney Opera House and the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge will greet guests staying in the new Full Harbour View Junior Suites at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney.

In addition to spectacular harbour views, the suite comes with exclusive privileges including complimentary Executive Club access for guests and up to three friends.

Full Harbour View Junior Suite
A private haven for guests, the Executive Club on Level 32 of the Hotel overlooks Walsh Bay and offers deluxe full breakfast buffet with chef-attended egg station, all-day light refreshments, and an evening pre-dinner canapés and premium spirits open bar with an award-winning sommelier selection of wines. Other Executive Club privileges include complimentary garment pressing, high-speed internet access throughout the Hotel, dedicated concierge services, selection of daily newspapers and magazines, and savings on Executive Club boardroom functions.

The Full Harbour View Junior Suite features an open-concept living area that includes a lounge area, oversized sleeping and relaxation spaces, and a generous executive business station. Guests staying in the Full Harbour View Junior Suite will also receive luxurious Appelles amenities made from certified organic Australian ingredients in the marble bathroom.

The Full Harbour View Junior Suite is available from AUD 595.00 a night. For reservations, call 02 9250 3100 or book online.

AAT Kings hits the road with Mix FM’s Drive Time radio team

Leading guided holiday company, AAT Kings has partnered with renowned radio host, Rosso Watts, and the high rating Mix FM Drive Time team for an extraordinary week-long road trip of the southern states that kicked off yesterday, Monday 25 November, 2013.

Taking over the airwaves for Rosso on Mix FM's  final week on air for 2013, two of AAT Kings’ passionate and personable Tour Directors and Drivers, Kyle and Paul, will bring to life The Great Ocean Road and several must-see sights of South Australia for Sydney’s 106.5 and Melbourne’s 101.1 Mix FM Drive Time listeners.

Heading out on the open road in an AAT Kings and Rosso on Mix FM branded coach, the group will travel to a new destination each day and enjoy a variety of adventures visiting local attractions and sharing their amazing stories and discoveries with listeners. Leaving Melbourne behind, Rosso and the image005 (1)Drive Time crew will try their hand at bush tucker and learn how to throw a boomerang in Tower Hill, fine tune their palates and become wine connoisseur for a day in the Barossa Valley, and meet local rangers and get up close to unique wildlife including a colony of sea lions while on Kangaroo Island, all before concluding their journey in the City of Churches otherwise known as Adelaide.

Anthony Hayes, Global Managing Director, AAT Kings said: "Having recently announced the details of our brand relaunch, we're excited to partner with Mix FM and Rosso’s Drive Time team to help ‘Bring Australia to life’ in a fun and interactive format.

“We've got a great week of activity planned for Rosso on Mix with our charismatic Tour Director and Driver helping Rosso discover the many unique towns, great stories and quirky locals they'll meet along the way. Teaming up with Rosso also allows us to promote all of our fantastic partners along the Great Ocean Road, Kangaroo Island and throughout Victoria and South Australia. We are very proud to be Australia’s favourite guided holiday company, but we can’t grow the market without the help of all of our brilliant partners.”

Matthew Granger, National Agency Sales Director, ARN said: “AAT Kings and Rosso's MixFM Drive show is a fantastic fit, and represents another example of ARN creating unique communication solutions for our clients. Just like Rosso, the AAT Kings Tour Directors and Driver Guide's love a laugh and a good story and they're both really passionate about sharing Australia's unique places. We're excited to be working together to bring these adventures to our listeners."

Helping put a smile of people's faces, each day AAT Kings and Rosso on Mix FM are giving five lucky listeners the chance to win an Aussie guided holiday for two valued at $3990. This week, follow AAT Kings and Rosso on Mix's exciting Aussie road trip by listening to Mix FM 106.5 (Sydney) and 101.1 (Melbourne) from 4 - 7pm weekdays.

For more information, visit www.aatkings.com, call 1300 556 100 or speak to your local sales manager.  

Connect with AAT Kings and follow us on Twitter @AATKings or Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AATKingsAustralia.

Expedition X gearing up and teaming up for the summer season

New Zealand’s first packrafting tour company Expedition X is raring to go for the summer season with a spell of warm weather boding well for the months to come.

Packrafting down Central Otago’s mighty Kawarau River, the innovative Queenstown company has joined forces with Goldfields Jet to create an exciting end to its summer tours - a thrilling jet boat ride back to base at the Goldfields Mining Centre.

Expedition X director and head guide Arno Marten said he was “thrilled” to have Goldfields Jet on board.
“The jet boat ride adds a little bit of extra excitement to the end of the trip down the river and everyone’s loving it so far,” he said.

Guests getting ready to set out on the mighty Kawarau River
Guests getting ready to set out on the mighty Kawarau River
Since initially launching its winter trips in March, Expedition X has received nothing but rave reviews via online sites like Trip Advisor.

Customers have described it as “a great trip with gorgeous scenery”.

“The packrafts are really good fun and Arno is interesting and entertaining,” said one.

“We had the pleasure of being on one of Arno's first trips and knew immediately that we were in good hands.”

Mr Marten said he “couldn’t wait” for Expedition X’s first full summer season and the chance to share Central Otago and Queenstown’s “stunning” scenery.

Water safety is paramount and guests are fully briefed before departing
Water safety is paramount and guests are fully briefed before departing
“What better way to appreciate Queenstown’s summer landscape then to get out and immerse yourself in it,” he said.

“The trip teaches clients about river features, water safety and how to use the packraft while at the same time exploring amazingly beautiful and isolated places.”

Tours consist of water and land-based adventures using a packraft – a light inflatable wilderness boat that is carried into remote or ‘hard to get to’ areas in a backpack, giving clients the freedom to explore.

“With a packraft each, clients can control their own adventure level – if they just want a leisurely float down the river or want to explore the sides and play in small rapids.”

Packrafts are light and extremely versatile giving guests the freedom to explore
Packrafts are light and extremely versatile giving guests the freedom to explore
Mr Marten said the packrafts were a fun and easy way to experience these areas.

“The packrafts only weigh 2.5kgs so you don’t need to be an extreme adventurer to participate.”

The adventure starts near Cromwell with hiking in the Goldfields area, and rafting on the Kawarau River.

All transport to and from Queenstown, an extensive gourmet lunch, full training and equipment is provided.

Guests can enjoy the stunning scenery of the Kawarau River
Guests can enjoy the stunning scenery of the Kawarau River
“Guests learn to pack and unpack the rafts, master them on the water safely and learn general packrafting skills, with ample time to enjoy the Kawarau River and Goldfields area,” said Mr Marten.

To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, trips are tailored to suit each group on the day and their preferred level of adventure.

Mr Marten stressed that safety was of “paramount” importance to Expedition X.

Expedition X’s extensive health and safety programme and tours derive from Mr Marten’s experience as a former river boarding assessor and guide, an adventure athlete, swift water rescue trainer and assessor, dive instructor, paraglide tandem pilot and instructor, and outdoor leader.

For more information or to book tours visit: www.expeditionx.co.nz.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chanthaburi province, Thailands Kingdom of Gems, to hold global jewellery show

The Thai eastern province of Chanthaburi is to capitalise on its well-known domestic popularity as the “Kingdom of Gems” to hold a World Gems Show from 6 to 15 December, 2013, at the Chanthaburi Gems and Jewellery Centre.

The show is intended to promote and encourage local gems and jewellery dealers and entrepreneurs to expand into global markets, as well as to boost the local economy by positioning the new Chanthaburi Gems and Jewellery Centre as one of the province’s top tourist attractions.

Chanthaburi_World_Gems__2
Provincial authorities organised a press conference on 15 November to announce the event. It was addressed by Mr. Kriengdech Khemthong, Governor of Chanthaburi province, Mr. Phuket Khunprapakorn, Chairman of the Chanthaburi World Gems Show 2013, Mr. Santi Chutitara, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand Eastern Region, and Mrs. Wannarudi Srikhamhaeng, Chanthaburi_World_Gems__3Vice President of the Chanthaburi Provincial Administrative Organisation.

Located 240 kilometres from Bangkok by road, Chanthaburi is on the eastern Thai border with Cambodia and will play a major role in the future development of the Asian Highway links to southern Cambodia.

It is especially famous for its red gemstone known as the Siam Ruby. This jewel, along with topaz and amethyst, is found in many of the provincial gem shops, especially in the heart of the city. Visitors can also learn the techniques of preparing and setting the gemstones into exquisite designs.

According to Mr. Kriengdech, Thailand is a leader of skilled labour in the gems and jewellery industry in the ASEAN Chanthaburi_World_Gems__4region.

He said the idea of holding the World Gems Show is in line with the government’s national development policy to make Chanthaburi into a gems and jewellery trading hub. A special economic zone will be established to help Thailand prepare for the AEC 2015 by improving transportation and the interconnectedness of the region.

At the show, there will be a wide range of activities; such as, an exhibition of precious and rare jewellery, especially Chanthaburi_World_Gems__1_500x333famous rubies, sapphires and topaz, more than 100 jewellery and gem stores, gem-cutting competitions and demonstrations, OTOP products, etc.
Sririta Jensen, a famous Thai model, along with Miss Thailand World 2013 and the first and second runner-ups for Miss Thailand will be modelling jewellery. There will also be a 3D theatre to narrate the history of Chanthaburi.

In addition to being known as a centre for gem mining, Chanthaburi is also blessed with rich, verdant forests and scenic waterfalls. The Chanthaburi River flows through the provincial capital. Quiet fishing villages and peaceful beaches are not far from town, making Chanthaburi the ultimate get-away-from-it-all Thailand province.

As the province was briefly occupied by the French during the end of the 19th century, their influence can be seen in the architecture of many local buildings; such as, the largest Catholic cathedral in Thailand. The province has a sizeable Christian population, mainly ethnic Vietnamese who migrated to Thailand in the 20th century.

According to available figures, visitor arrivals to Chanthaburi totalled 1,559,370, in 2012, an increase of 2.67% over the year 2011. Visitors had an average length of stay of 2.31 days and an average daily expenditure of 1,420.62 Baht per person, generating tourism revenues of approximately 4.213 billion Baht.

Are you ready for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics? Pullman and Mercure: two brands and three Olympic hot-spots

Accor adds three new establishments in the Caucasus Mountains to its Russian network, which already comprises 14 hotels.

Mercure Rosa Khutor, inaugurated in January 2013, as well as the Pullman Sochi Center and Mercure Sochi Center, two hotels located in the center of the Olympic city which will open in January 2014, will soon welcome fans and sponsors from around the world for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

img-1Mercure Rosa Khutor, which is located in the Rosa Khutor alpine resort that will host the 2014 Winter Olympics alpine skiing and freestyle events, boasts 153 rooms and suites starting at €110 a night. It features a Slav atmosphere and contemporary style and combines wooden furnishings with eggplant tones to create an elegant, modern interior. Its prime location at the bottom of the ski slopes and right next to the center of the resort, offers guests remarkable conditions for stay between the sea and the mountains.

The resort is a prime destination for winter sports and mountain hiking enthusiasts. Mercure Rosa Khutor is located close to the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, which will host the snowboard and freestyle skiing events, and the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, which will host all the alpine skiing disciplines (Downhill, Nordic Combined (downhill and slalom) Giant Slalom and Super-G).

Guests will be able to relax in the establishment’s naturally-lit, glass-domed 15m x 15m swimming pool (the only hotel pool in the resort!), Turkish baths and fitness center. Access is also open to non-residents subject to availability for an entrance fee of €25.

img-2La Table du Maître, an essential culinary stopover
The hotel restaurant “La Table du Maître” is the ideal place to sample traditional Russian, Ukrainian and Mediterranean dishes. The restaurant’s warm, lounge atmosphere is enhanced by its open kitchen, where the Chef invites guests to watch the dishes being prepared in a relaxed, friendly setting.

A perfect business destination
The establishment has three fully-equipped conference rooms, ranging from 25m2 to 125m2 that can cater for up to 100 people. The hotel organizes seminars in a modern and elegant setting and focuses on creating the perfect environment for concentration and team work.

The Pullman Sochi Center is located on Sochi’s waterfront, right next to the city center. Its rooms, which start at €170 a night for a superior standard room, are designed for cosmopolitan, mobile and hyper-connected travelers. Whether they are staying for business or leisure, the establishment offers guests a modern approach to upscale hospitality.

This new property is just 20 kilometers from Sochi-Adler International Airport and its rooms boast magnificent views of the city of Sochi and the Black Sea.

img-3The 150-room Pullman Sochi Center, offers the best of the brand’s “signature services”: the Welcomers, the Pullman bed, free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, the Connectivity by Pullman concept, Nespresso® services, Vinoteca by Pullman, the Pullman Fit & Spa Lounge, etc.
The Pullman Sochi Center also boasts 2800m2 of rooms for business and private events. In addition, Pullman’s Co-Meeting concept allows participants to focus on the essential by offering an innovative approach to organizing meetings, conventions and incentives, with dedicated spaces, latest generation equipment, innovative breaks and the personalized support of a committed team (Event Manager, IT Solutions Manager).

All in all, the hotel offers a combination of innovative technologies, bespoke services and comfort that meets the expectations of local and international business and leisure customers. Indeed, Pullman’s “Work hard, play hard” motto takes on full significance here.

When work is over and it’s time to relax, the establishment’s Pullman Fit & Spa Lounge on the 16th floor, welcomes guests keen to enjoy its breathtaking view of the sea as well as its facilities which include a 12m x 5m panoramic swimming pool, a fitness room, a single-sex sauna and Turkish bath and a spa menu, all of which are designed to be appreciated without moderation.

img-4Guests can also enjoy a Mediterranean meal at the Pullman Sochi Center’s elegant restaurant “Sel Marin”, or simply relax at “O’Bar”, over a selection of Dammann teas and fine pastries and appreciate the establishment’s atmosphere.

Mercure Sochi Center is right next to the city center and just a stone’s throw from Sochi Beach and its promenade. This hotel, which has 200 rooms starting at €100 a night for a standard room, will be a preferred destination for visitors attending the sports event of the year who also want to enjoy activities in Sochi’s city-center. 

The establishment also shares the same leisure facilities as the Pullman Sochi Center.

The hotel’s restaurant “Kruzheva” (which means ‘lace’ in Russian) features a modern setting and dishes inspired by local culinary traditions to which the chef adds a touch of modernity. Russian Bortsch and Pelmeni dumplings with semi-cooked foie gras are matched with a selection of wines, carefully chosen to suit the dishes on the menu. The pleasant and comfortable “Lobby Bar” serves a range of tasty dishes and refreshing cocktails.

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The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places