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Sunday, May 31, 2015

ibis Singapore on Bencoolen putting the ‘cool’ in Bencoolen


by traveloscopy.com editor, Roderick Eime, on location in Singapore

Of course it’s just ‘magnifique’ to stay at any of Accor’s top flight hotels like Sofitel and Pullman, but there is a lot to like about the sensible ibis brand which caters to budget-conscious travellers around the world.

Initially the reflex for self-important travel writers is to recoil at proletariat labels with pared-down offerings, but the closer you look at the ibis brands (there are three) you begin to appreciate how they fill an important niche in the complex global hotel marketplace.

With Accor currently stabling 18 different hotel brands, it can sometimes be a confusing business and when the ibis brand was revitalised a couple years ago, absorbing the mature budget brand Formula 1 in the process, it was then divided into three sub-brands: ibis (red pillow), ibis styles (green pillow) and ibis budget (blue pillow).

Funky 24 hr bar
On my recent gruelling rail trip through Europe, I reached Hannover after a week snatching cat naps in compartments and sleeping on couchettes with ironing board comfort. The ibis budget in Hannover was a palace - with a real shower and comfy bed. At 45 euro (7 euro more for breakfast) it was exactly what I needed and half the price of the reservation fee required by Eurail to secure a sleeper.

While the ibis budget in Hannover was a basic 'no frills' offering, the ibis Singapore on Bencoolen located near Bugis, certainly put the ‘cool’ in Bencoolen. Expansive, hip and comprehensive, Accor have exercised considerable modesty in only assigning three stars to this property. My room (807) is large enough to not feel cramped despite a big double bed, bar fridge, desk and wall cupboard. Heck, there’s even an iron and ironing board that would have doubled for a spare berth on my Bulgarian overnight express.

Double room
In order to manage costs and instill a sense of environmental responsibility in guests, Accor have initiated the Planet 21 program (Cert Sustainable ISO 14001) to address “production and consumption patterns with the goal of protecting our planet, its people and their environment.”

Greenwashing? Well, critics might think so, but I am impressed with the reusable and (free to refill) glass water bottle used to replace the awful disposable plastic ones used almost everywhere else. The program also encourages the usual ‘hang your towel’ and ‘leave my linen’ options which helps conserve water and resources as well as the hotel’s bottom line. I’m happy to help here. Need amenities like toothbrush or razor? You can buy them downstairs.

Restaurant, Taste, serves three meals daily
The breakfast array certainly exceeds any three star expectations and is available from 4am until noon (hot buffet 6-10) and the bar is everything it should be serving alcoholic drinks until 1am and everything else 24 hours.

So, if you just need a bed and shower, you could do a lot worse (and I have done) than any of the ibis hotels.

The writer stayed at ibis Singapore on Bencoolen as a guest of Accor Hotels




Saturday, May 30, 2015

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) works to protect Great Barrier Reef



Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) welcomed UNESCO's draft decision not to list the Great Barrier Reef as an "in danger" World Heritage site.

TTNQ Chief Executive Officer Alex de Waal said the decision acknowledged Australia had the right environmental credentials to manage this key natural asset.

"Tropical North Queensland's tourism industry will continue its vital role in protecting the Great Barrier Reef by participating in conservation initiatives, aiding research and educating the public about the value of this precious environment," he said.

"The world's attention will be on the Great Barrier Reef as various programs including the critical Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan are implemented.

"We invite visitors to see first-hand just how seriously Tropical North Queensland's tourism industry take its role as a guardian of this World Heritage area by visiting the Great Barrier Reef.

"Ask the operator you are travelling with what they do to protect the Reef and you will hear about the incredible commitment and passion they have for the environment they work in.

"This includes operators who have become carbon neutral, others who employ marine biologists to contribute to Reef research and many who participate in scientific monitoring and pest eradication programs.

"These actions are not mandatory and they are done at the expense of the operator, often with staff volunteering their time to participate.

"The Great Barrier Reef is the lifeblood of Tropical North Queensland's tourism industry, but is also a valuable part of our community's lifestyle and it is a lifestyle and livelihood that we want to protect and share with the world.

"In 2013-2014 more than 860,000 people visited the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland and our industry worked hard to ensure they could sustainably interact with and appreciate the Reef.

"The Tropical North Queensland tourism industry will continue to provide leadership to the global community by hosting people on the Great Barrier Reef, teaching them about the World Heritage area and working to ensure its preservation is secure."

World's Crocodile Heavy Weight Champion Cassius Turns 112

The saying goes to never smile at a crocodile, but Cassius the saltwater crocodile couldn't help but leave his audience smiling as the 'salty' celebrated a record 112th birthday, complete with balloons, a 'happy birthday' sign – and a chicken birthday cake.

Cassius eating his chicken birthday cake
Recognised by Guinness World Records as the largest crocodile in captivity, and also thought to be the oldest, Cassius measures 5.48metres (18ft) in length and weighs 1300kg (2,866 pounds).

The monster croc celebrated his 112th birthday from his retirement home on idyllic Green Island, a Great Barrier Reef coral cay off the coast of Cairns.

Cassius was captured in 1984 after becoming a problem crocodile in the Northern Territory for stealing cattle and attacking boat propellers. When caught, he was missing a leg and had battle scars all over his body, testament to a hard-fought life in the wild.

Croc handler and founder of Marineland Melanesia on Green Island, George Craig, bought the croc and took him to Green Island on the Great Barrier Reef to live out his retirement years in peace and safety at the Craig's crocodile park – Marineland Melanesia.

George named the fighter croc after another world Heavyweight Champion Cassius Clay, the birth name of boxer Muhammad Ali.

Three generations of Craig family zookeepers – Jemma, Steve and George Craig
The park is family-owned and run with three generations of the Craig family living on the island and working at tiny Great Barrier Reef coral cay off the coast of Cairns.

Zookeeper and youngest Craig family member Jemma has known Cassius her entire life.

“They give crocodiles a maximum age of about 90 years in the wild just because another croc will eventually come along and kill them,” Jemma says.

“Because he's been in captivity and sheltered for the past 30 years, he has lived a lot longer.

“Green Island is a really unique place - I think it's the only sand cay on The Great Barrier Reef that has a rainforest growing on it and a crocodile zoo let alone the biggest croc in captivity.”

Cassius celebrated his milestone with Marineland Melanesia visitors and three generations of Craig family handlers who tend to the battle-scarred and ancient croc's every need.

As for how many more birthdays Cassius will celebrate, it's anybody's guess; but with his relaxed island lifestyle Cassius may yet be cared for by the fourth generation of the Craig family.

“He's living on a tropical island so what more could you want the last years of your life?” says Jemma.

Traveloscopy | 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sultanate of Oman One of the World's Safest Tourism Destinations

The World Economic Forum ranks Oman #9 in the world for Tourism Safety and Security

Positive news for the Sultanate of Oman with the World Economic Forum (WEF) having published its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015. The report, which rates 141 countries, places Oman in the TOP 10 in terms of Safety and Security.

Bilad Sayt

Notably, a pair of Oman's neighbours also listed highly in the Safety and Security ratings - with Qatar at #2 and the United Arab Emirates at #3. Australia ranked #13.

The complete WEF tourism safety and security TOP 10 list:

1. Finland
2. Qatar
3. United Arab Emirates
4. Iceland
5. Austria
6. Luxembourg
7. New Zealand
8. Singapore
9. Oman
10. Portugal

Mona Tannous, Sultanate of Oman Tourism Country Manager Australia & New Zealand praised the accolade saying, "We're thrilled to see Oman rating highly on another important list for 2015. We started the year being featured on numerous destination hot lists and travel bucket lists, but this trumps those in many ways. And when you read through the list you can see that Oman is in very good company.

"Perceptions of safety and security affect where people choose to travel to and through. We're confident this list will play some part in reassuring travellers of what we've always known - that Oman is a welcoming, safe and breath-taking place to visit."


Traveloscopy | 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Australian Cruise Numbers Break Through the Magic Million Mark

Australians’ love of cruising has propelled the local cruise industry to a new milestone, with latest figures revealing that more than one million Australians took a cruise holiday in 2014.



The record result confirms Australia’s position as the world’s fastest growing source of cruise passengers, with numbers surging 20.4 per cent last year to reach 1,003,256 cruisers.

The landmark achievement of one million passengers in a calendar year comes six years before originally anticipated, and has been driven by an impressive 20 per cent annual average growth for the past 12 years.

The new figures also show Australia has retained its position as the world leader for market penetration, with the equivalent of 4.2 per cent of Australians taking a cruise last year, significantly ahead of the well-established North American market, which ranked second with a market penetration rate of 3.4 per cent.

Released in Sydney on 26 May at the newly refurbished Overseas Passenger Terminal, the 2014 Australian Cruise Industry Source Market Report is produced by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, based on data received from its cruise line members, which account for more than 95 per cent of the world’s cruise passengers.

Speaking at the report launch, CLIA Australasia Chairman Gavin Smith said Australians’ enthusiasm for cruising was unparalleled around the world, with France the only other major world market to achieve double digit growth (13.6 per cent) in 2014.

Mr Smith said Australia’s achievement of 20.4 per cent growth represented an increase of 170,000 passengers compared to 2013, the largest rise in real numbers since CLIA first began collating passenger data in 2002. Australia is now the fourth largest source market in the world for cruise passengers, accounting for 4.5 per cent of world cruisers, behind North America (54.2 per cent), Germany (8 per cent) and UK/Ireland (7.4 per cent).

“These figures show that more and more Australians are realising that cruising is an easy, relaxing way to holiday which represents incredible value for money,” Mr Smith said. “The expansion of our industry in recent years means there’s now a huge range of ships and itineraries on offer across the globe and I think Australians, who are inveterate travellers, are responding by increasingly factoring a cruise into their holiday plans.”

“Five years ago, the industry thought that it might be possible to achieve one million passengers a year by 2020 – to reach that number in 2014 is an amazing result and shows the true passion Australians have for cruise holidays. If our growth rate continues at just 12.5 per cent for the next six years, we will reach two million passengers by 2020,” Mr Smith said.

Key findings of CLIA Australasia’s 2014 Australian Cruise Industry Source Market Report include:
  • The most popular cruise destination for Australians is the South Pacific, attracting more than 390,000 passengers (39 per cent of the market)
  • Cruises from domestic ports to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific accounted for 67 per cent of Australian passengers in 2014 (671,030 cruisers)
  • The continuing popularity of Europe saw the region become Australians’ third most popular ocean cruise destination accounting for 93,529 cruisers
  • River cruising numbers surged by more than 60 per cent to 79,530
  • The arrival of new ships in Asia prompted a 25 per cent increase in Australian passengers cruising in the region, with numbers rising to more than 55,000
  • Cruises of 8-14 days duration remain the most popular attracting 54 per cent of passengers, although shorter cruises of up to four days experienced a 59 per cent surge in numbers
  • NSW remains the largest source of cruise passengers, accounting for 41 per cent of the market 
  • Australians spent an estimated 10 million days at sea in 2014, cruising for an average 9.7 days on ocean cruises and 13 days on river cruises.

Traveloscopy | 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dark Craft Beer Winter Release Line-up by Murray's Craft Brewing Co.

Chocolate Beer in a Bottle for the First Time

Experimental brewer, Murray's Craft Brewing Co, has revealed four new beers in its Dark Beer Month line-up this year, in addition to its iconic Wild Thing Imperial Stout. The five winter beers will be released from the June long weekend.



“Each June we bring out our darkest beers and throw a flavour party,” says brewery owner, Murray Howe. “These aren't ordinary beers. They're big, bold, crazy Imperial Stouts, Belgian Strong Ales, Dunkelweizens and Baltic Porters – and we've ensured there's something for everyone this year.”

For the first time, there will be two 'Wild Thing' Imperial Stouts in the bottle – the original milestone beer, PLUS Murray's Wild Thing Chocolate Imperial Stout, both brewed by the beer's original recipe-meister and head brewer, Graeme Mahy.

“I love this beer! There is just nothing insipid about it – Wild Thing is just full of attitude,” says Graeme. “It's well above the upper limits of flavour and colour for its class – Wild Thing is totally black - impossible to see through even when held up to the light.”

“So why would we tinker with this beer and choose to also create a chocolate version? This Easter we brewed our first ever Chocolate Easter Egg Beer, and not only did we get a HUGE public response to the beer, but we were quietly thrilled with how good the beer turned out to be! It got us thinking about experimenting with Wild Thing and chocolate flavour – and boy, has it worked! Not only does it taste sensational for us beer nuts, but it makes dark beer far more approachable for a much broader audience of drinkers. People love the chocolate because it's a flavour that makes people happy, and it removes the bitterness of the original beer that non dark beer drinkers may not be familiar with.”

The third beer featuring in Murray's Dark Beer Month is The Night Demon, a Strong Dark Belgian Ale.

“This beer is a special addition to our line-up, as it was conceived by Newcastle local home brewer, Mark Bigland. Mark was awarded Champion Beer of Show for his Strong Dark Belgian Ale at this year's Newcastle Show Home Brewing Competition. As part of his prize Mark got to brew and bottle a batch of his winning beer with the Murray's brewing team. And we thought his beer was so good it was worthy of a place in this year's Dark Beer Month line-up,” added Graeme.

The brewer's first Dunkelweizen, Ronny Dunkel, is the fourth beer in the Dark Beer Month line-up. It will be available as a draught only beer, providing a lower alcohol, easy drinking alternative to the stronger dark ales.

And finally, the brewer will release a special collaboration beer - a Baltic Porter brewed at its Bobs Farm brewery jointly with New Zealand craft brewer, Coromandel Brewing. This is another beer with broader appeal and comparatively lower alcohol – an English style beer that's mild on roast character, but quite hoppy, using English-style East Kent Goldings hops.

“Dark beers are becoming more and more popular in Australia, but the trend naturally becomes more prominent in winter. We're aiming to give people some great reasons to celebrate and get out of the house these cooler months,” added Murray.

Murray's Dark Beer Month runs across June, incorporating a total of five dark beer releases, dark beer-inspired dude food dishes at its Brewery restaurant, free concerts and special events at leading craft beer venues across Australia.

At a glance: Murray's Dark Beer release program 2015
  • Murray's 'Wild Thing' Imperial Stout in the bottle. Available from Saturday 6 June. This is a massive, intense drinking experience inspired by the great stouts favoured by the Russian Imperial Court. The colour is intensely black. The flavour is an intense hit of mocha with some malt sweetness but an aggressive hop bitterness and roast grain bite to balance. 10% abv.
  • Murray's 'Wild Thing' Chocolate Imperial Stout in the bottle. Available from Saturday 6 June. Murray's iconic 'Wild Thing' Imperial Stout just got even 'wilder'– with the addition of bitter dark cocoa nibs and vanilla pods. A massive, intense, rich and complex drinking experience with luxurious mouthfeel. Aromas of strong dark chocolate, a hint of vanilla and intense bitter dark chocolate flavour. 10% abv.
  • The' Night Demon' Strong Dark Belgian Ale in the bottle. Available from Saturday 6 June. A Belgian Quad with a toasty/bready flavour and a hint of malty sweet caramels and raisins, it has a smooth but noticeable amount alcohol balanced out with a moderately bitter, medium dry and slightly peppery finish. 10.8% abv
  • Murray's 'Ronnie Dunkel' Dunkelweizen on draught. Available from Saturday 6 June. Ronny is a Bavarian Style Dark Wheat beer, also known as a Dunkelweizen. Ronny pours dark brown with a reddish tinge and a creamy-white head. Pronounced clove with hints of banana in the aroma from the yeast are balanced with caramel and chocolate flavours from the darker roasted malts. A sophisticated, complex and easy drinking dark beer for the winter months. 5.5% abv.
  • Murray's Baltic Porter on draught. Available from mid-June, this collaboration beer was brewed at Murray's Brewery jointly with New Zealand craft brewer, Coromandel Brewing. An English style beer brewed for Baltics that's mild on roast character, but quite hoppy, using English-style East Kent Goldings hops. Approx 6% abv.

Availability

All beers will be available from Murray's Brewery in venue or online (www.murraysbrewingco.com.au), plus leading craft beer venues progressively across the month of June.

For further information:
greatbeer@murraysbrewingco.com.au

About Murray's Craft Brewing Co.

Port Stephens-based Murray's Craft Brewing Co. is one of Australia's leading craft beer brewers. From humble beginning in Taylors Arm (population 50) on the NSW North Coast nine years ago, Murray's Brewery relocated to larger premises at Port Stephens in 2009 where today it runs a microbrewery, Cellar Door and one of the region's best restaurants. Murray's beers are available nationally.

www.murraysbrewingco.com.au



Traveloscopy | 

Opening Weekend of Vivid Sydney Shines for Accor Sydney CBD Hotels

The weather did not deter Sydneysiders and tourists alike over Vivid Festival's opening weekend, with Accor's Sydney CBD hotels recording impressive results, topping the opening weekend figures achieved in 2014.



Accor's Sydney CBD hotels saw an occupancy increase of 2.2% across Vivid opening weekend (22-24 May), as its Sydney hotels were 87.9% full.

Harbour Rocks Hotel was at 100% capacity on opening night, and sat at 98% occupancy for the remainder of the weekend. Food and drink specials celebrating the creativity of Vivid were put on for visitors to enjoy at Eric's Bar and Scarlett Restaurant and the hotel reported lines snaking around the hotel with people wanting to be part of the action.

General Manager for Harbour Rocks Hotel, Dylan Cole, said, “We saw a 14% increase in revenue across F&B compared to last year's opening weekend and the volume of people coming through the hotel was phenomenal. We have installed a Creperie Suzette bar which was buzzing Friday through to Sunday and it was fantastic to see both the young and old getting into the spirit of Vivid.”

Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour which sits right atop Circular Quay and directly faces the Harbour Bridge averaged 96% occupancy across Vivid opening weekend and ECQ Bar and Q Dining were popular venues to watch the spectacle throughout the entire weekend.

Accor Vice President Operations NSW & ACT, Scott Boyes, said, “Once again, Vivid Festival is off to a cracking start and it is incredibly pleasing to see our Sydney CBD hotels out-shining the opening weekend results achieved last year. Having a strong events calendar is so important for our hotels and gives a major boost the broader economy, and we would like to congratulate the NSW State Government, Destination NSW and the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority for making Vivid Sydney bigger and better than ever.

“Its events such as Vivid which makes Sydney such a great place to visit and live in, and we're looking forward to welcoming more guests into our hotels over the remainder of the Festival”.

Accor's Sydney Olympic Park hotels are gearing up for bumper first State of Origin Clash on Wednesday 27May with Pullman, Novotel and ibis Sydney Olympic Park all forecasting 100% capacity.

For more information and to book Accor hotels, visit www.accorhotels.com.


Traveloscopy | 

Baz Luhrmann Honoured at World's Largest Jazz Festival in Montreal, Canada

The unique musical theatre talents of Australian director Baz Luhrmann will be honoured at this year's Festival International de Jazz de Montreal with a divinely mad onstage celebration of his luminous works, including Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby.



Luhrmann's flamboyant creations and brilliant imagery will come to life as an on-stage, theatrical experience created by renowned conceptualists, For The Record, at the 36th annual Montreal Jazz Festival, Canada.

Enshrined in the Guinness World Records as the largest jazz festival in the world, this year's event will transform the city of Montreal into a meeting place for more than 2.5 million music enthusiasts from all over the world, from 26 June - 5 July 2015.

Appearing at the Festival for the first time is British soul singer and music phenomenon, Joss Stone, who will perform tracks from her seventh album,Water For Your Soul. Joss Stone joins the festival along with almost 3000 musicians and buskers, 25 venues and 800 concerts, of which two-thirds are free of charge.

Jazz it up and join the city-wide celebrations of music, sunshine and culture in Montreal, the city of festivals.

http://www.montrealjazzfest.com

www.keepexploring.ca


Traveloscopy | 

Monday, May 25, 2015

&Beyond Wins Two Categories at Hospitality Design Awards 2015

The bold new designs of two of &Beyond’s freshly refurbished safari camps and lodges, &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge and &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, have taken top honours in the face of intense international competition at the Hospitality Design Awards.





With both lodges comprehensively rebuilt and refurbished in 2014, &Beyond called on leading creative teams from around the globe to achieve the dramatic transformation of Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp and Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge. The two lodges were recently recognised at the annual awards hosted by Hospitality Design, a publication written for decision-makers within the hospitality industry, including designers and architects, as well as owners and operators with responsibility for design.

Situated in Kenya, &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp came top in the Sustainable Project category, celebrating its light impact on the environment. With the camp’s 28 tents rebuilt and repositioned to maximise the exceptional Masai Mara views, both the structures and their interiors are made of local materials, with the only imported items being LED lighting and switches. The camp also makes use of the best available technology to reduce the use of fossil fuels, with 183 square metres (1 970 square feet) of solar panelling installed, capable of producing up to 9 400 litres (2 400 gallons) of hot water daily, saving 40 000 litres (10 560 gallons) of diesel per annum, which translates into a saving of 106 tons of CO².

Celebrated for its innovative safari chic design, &Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge in Botswana won the Open Category of the Hospitality Awards. Redefining the future of safari design, the lodge is inspired by its natural surroundings, with nest-like suites and a building structure inspired by the pangolin’s body armour of scales. A soaring, cathedral-like guest area is split into three levels, while the guest suites are raised above the papyrus and peek out from beneath a canopy of wild palms and fig trees.

The design and décor of both lodges are the result of a collaborative effort between three teams. Nicholas Plewman Architects and Michaelis Boyd Associates were responsible for the architecture, while Fox Browne Creative ensured &Beyond’s warm brand is reflected in the interior décor.

ABOUT &BEYOND

&Beyond is one of the world’s leading luxury experiential travel companies, designing personalised luxury safaris in 15 African countries, as well as India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The company also owns and operates 33 extraordinary lodges and camps in Africa and India’s natural highspots.

Established in 1991, &Beyond takes exceptional care of its guests in order to make a difference; its commitment to sustainable responsible travel and community empowerment is world renowned.

For more information visit: www.andBeyond.com


Traveloscopy | 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Queensland's Turtle Preservation Programs Now Tourist Attractions - World Turtle Day

Visitors to Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef can not only get up close and personal with six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle, they can also be part of their preservation.



These sages of the sea are celebrated each year on May 23, with World Turtle Day, a day that aims to bring more attention to the majesty and plight of turtles around the world and coincides with the beginning of the breeding season for turtles in the northern hemisphere.

Queensland is at the forefront of turtle ecotourism, at places located in the Southern Great Barrier Reef like Mon Repos, Lady Elliot and Heron Islands tourists are privileged to view the ancient mariners dragging themselves up the beach to nest, followed by the scurry of hundreds of hatchlings in to the ocean under a moonlit sky.

Elisa Detrez from France says her Queensland turtle experience is the most unique thing she has ever done, “I love wildlife and turtles are something really exotic for me, coming from France. So I think I am the luckiest girl in the world to have seen that and yeah, to experience this.”



Mon Repos is home to the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific Ocean region, and a regular nesting site also for flatback and green turtles between November and March.

Queensland Government researchers have been tagging and GPS tracking turtles for 40 years learning about breeding and migration patterns. It’s estimated a million turtles feed in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, making it a very important location globally for the species survival.

“It’s a very moving experience for a lot of people who have a limited exposure to wildlife,” says Dr Col Limpus, Chief Scientist with the Threatened Species Unit at the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

“The opportunities we provide to the public to come and enjoy turtles at places like Mon Repos is extremely valuable for having a public awareness about these animals and being able to see them first hand rather than just watching them on television.”

Diane Anderson is one of those who volunteers at Mon Repos, and believes watching turtle nesting and hatching should be on everyone’s bucket lists.



“You see the whole life cycle here, you come and see the little hatchlings making their way to the beach and then come back on another night and see the mature turtles laying so it’s a full life cycle here at Mon Repos.”

Queensland is also home to a purpose built turtle hospital at Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville where sea turtles are nursed back to health.

Some turtles spend up to a year in the hospital after recovering from emergencies like crocodile attacks and boat strikes, but they are always returned to the wild.

“Our staff develop connections with our turtles but we know our end game is to see them go back fit and healthy into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park so while the release day is tinged with a touch of sadness, it’s more happiness when we see them go back,” says Director of Reef HQ Fred Nucifora.

Visitors get to watch turtles be treated in the hospital with no barrier between them and the patients, making it often a quite powerful experience.

Turtle carer Krystal Huff says it’s a pleasure to see people connect with the animals, “I think it’s those big eyes. Turtles are very charismatic when you meet them up close. They’re such a gentle, really beautiful animal, and they’re so ancient. I think people can respect that they’ve been here so much longer than us.”

While Queensland is making large investments in preserving turtle populations, species like the loggerhead leave the Great Barrier Reef and spend years on the other side of the Pacific Ocean where large numbers are reportedly being caught during commercial fishing activity.

“We need to have collaboration coming from the other side of the Pacific to give an assurance that we can guarantee our loggerhead population in to the future,” says turtle expert Dr Limpus.

Turtle excluder devices now widely used in Australia have cut the number of turtle deaths due to commercial trawl fishing.

“They allow turtles to go through trawlers and not be trapped. They can get out so they’re not at risk of drowning. It’s very effective for us here almost eliminated the deaths of turtles in trawl fisheries in eastern northern Australia,” according to Dr Limpus.

Turtles have survived relatively unchanged since the time of dinosaurs, with five out of the reported 10 oldest animals to ever live being turtles or tortoises. In the ocean today are turtles that were alive when Einstein was formulating his theory of relativity, while the battle of Gallipoli raged during World War I, and Babe Ruth was hitting his first home run.

Traveloscopy | 

&Beyond Celebrates World Turtle Day

Celebrated on 23 May, World Turtle Day was created to increase awareness of turtle species around the world and bring attention to the challenges that they face to their survival.



Located off the coast of Tanzania, the private and exclusive &Beyond Mnemba Island has long been dedicated to ensuring the survival of the endangered green turtle. One of only two protected nesting sites for the species in Zanzibar, an average of 34 turtles have laid their eggs on the island each year since 1998, when the &Beyond team began keeping records. With more than a hundred hatchlings born per nest, an estimated 60 000 green turtles have begun life on the island in the past 17 years.

Mnemba is one of the top three sites for green turtle breeding in Tanzania. With all Mnemba Island staff fully trained in keeping the turtles safe, guests on the island are invited to witness as the females come ashore to lay their eggs. Nests are meticulously monitored and guests also get to see the newly born hatchlings making their way to the ocean.

The company’s other tropical island paradise, &Beyond Benguerra Island also offers turtle encounters for divers exploring the balmy Indian Ocean waters. Situated in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, the island forms part of a marine sanctuary created to safeguard the five species of sea turtle found in the area, as well as to create a safe habitat for the rare and endangered dugong. The island’s massive sand dunes form the ideal habitat for the turtles to nest, although the marine species spends most of its time out at sea, feeding on jellyfish, among other prey items.

In neighbouring South Africa, &Beyond holds a concessionary permit at Sodwana Bay, which allows the company to conduct midnight safaris along the beach, searching for turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs. &Beyond is only one of two concessionaries with permission to traverse the secluded beaches of Sodwana, one of the few accessible places along the 250 km (155 mile) stretch of coastline where the turtles dig their nests between

November and February. Guests at the nearby &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve are driven along the deserted coastline, looking for fresh turtle tracks that emerge from the ocean and travel up to the beach in search of a suitable nesting site. Once a turtle is located, &Beyond’s guides, who are specially accredited to conduct such tours, ensure that she is far enough into the nesting process so as not to disturb her before guests can approach and watch as she completes laying up to a hundred eggs.

ABOUT &BEYOND

&Beyond is one of the world’s leading luxury experiential travel companies, designing personalised luxury safaris in 15 African countries, as well as India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The company also owns and operates 33 extraordinary lodges and camps in Africa and India’s natural highspots.

Established in 1991, &Beyond takes exceptional care of its guests in order to make a difference; its commitment to sustainable responsible travel and community empowerment is world renowned.

For more information visit www.andbeyond.com


Traveloscopy | 

Accor Announce Two New Hotels in Victoria and South Australia

Accor is pleased to announce two new hotels have joined the network in regional Victoria and South Australia.



An existing property, The Wilpena Pound Resort (pictured) in South Australia has joined Accor's distribution network and will operate under a management agreement with Accor, effective immediately.

The 60 room hotel and the stylish Ikara Safari Camp are located within the Flinders Ranges National Park in South Australia. The properties are a base for travellers looking to explore the ancient mountain ranges and deep geological and indigenous history all while catching a glimpse of the quintessential Australian wildlife found in this beautiful landscape. By joining Accor, the hotel and the region are set to further benefit from the group's worldwide distribution network.

The resort features an on-site restaurant, bar and a solar-heated swimming pool, and all of the guestrooms are air-conditioned and feature private ensuites. The 15 Safari Tents also have their own ensuites and are fully air conditioned.

Accor is pleased to announce that Mercure Warragul will join the network in July 2015 under a franchise agreement.

The new build, 50-room hotel is located in the centre of Warragul which is approximately 100kms south-east of Melbourne and south of the Great Dividing Range region. The hotel will have one meeting room and charge back facilities to a restaurant and bar which will be leased to an independent operator.
Traveloscopy | 

Friday, May 22, 2015

TFE Hotels Launches Game-Changing MICE Platform with iVvy

TFE Hotels (Toga Far East Hotels) has announced the launch of the next generation technology platform for Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Events (MICE) customers across 70 hotels in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. Developed by award-winning hospitality technology company iVvy, the new venue software and distribution platform enables TFE Hotels to deliver real-time availability, response and enhanced customer experience for bookers and partners.



The iVvy partnership will see TFE Hotels gain more centralized control over MICE booking and inventory functions through a dynamic tool that scans availability across the entire hotel portfolio, enabling cross sell functionality. This will deliver solutions faster than competitors, drive growth through process efficiencies and increase visibility across its properties. Guests looking for meeting facilities will benefit from real-time bookings and quotes with information and services from TFE Hotels.

The announcement comes during a significant period of growth for TFE Hotels, following the joint venture with Far East Organisation and their undertaking of the Rendezvous Hotels portfolio (10 in Australia and New Zealand). In addition to its investment in iVvy's solutions, TFE Hotels reiterated its commitment to the MICE segment earlier this year with the refresh and re-launch of its 'Events with Benefits' rewards program.

“With Rendezvous Hotels joining the TFE Hotels family and the ongoing growth of our hotel portfolio, TFE Hotels is in a fortunate position to offer a wide range of market leading MICE facilities and offer even more choice to our meetings and conference customers. We believe business is built on relationships and our partnership with iVvy further demonstrates our commitment to continually delight our guests,” said Rachel Argaman – CEO of TFE Hotels.

“TFE Hotels is one of the largest and most respected hospitality brands in Australia and now, one of the leaders in implementing next generation disruptive technology to better service their customers. We are proud of the partnership and to be working with a progressive company that understands the pulse of its digitally connected customers and invests in solutions that offer the fastest way to manage revenues across all their channels,” said Lauren Hall, CEO of iVvy.

The iVvy partnership will encompass all TFE Hotels brands including Adina Apartment Hotels, Medina Serviced Apartments, Rendezvous Hotels, Vibe Hotels, Travelodge Hotels and Hotel Kurrajong Canberra.
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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Back-Roads Touring Takes Europe Afloat

Back-Roads Touring, the small-group and tailor-made travel experts, have expanded their reach through Europe this week with the launch of their specialty'Charming Waterways of Europe' tours, adding to their already impressive offering.

The exclusive water based tour allows guests an extraordinary opportunity to explore Europe by barge, floating through the canals of France, the Adriatic Islands of Croatia, the Greek Cycladic Islands in the Aegean and Turkey's Turquoise Coast - all in the comfort of a sophisticated boutique barge.

Enjoy touring through Europe with Back-Road Touring

Back-Roads Touring Brand Manager, Hugh Houston, says the tours are an exciting addition to the brands current suite of tours, as they allow guests to see Europe like never before.

“Adding water-based tours to our brochure for 2016 gives Back-Roads guests the opportunity to access smaller, regional waterways and unspoilt rural scenery in some of the most amazing places in the word,” he said.

Staying true to the brands ethos, guests will be able to leave the barge throughout the day and join their local tour guide for the all-important 'Back-Roads' experience.

“As well as taking guests on the water, the tour series will still provide the quintessential Back-Roads Tours experience, with leisurely days on the road, authentic local experiences and cuisines, and exclusive shore excursions,” says Mr. Houston.

“I truly believe the mix of stunning waterway travel and specialty on-land adventure is the ultimate way to experience the world”.

All vessels will feature public areas that are maximised for enjoyment, with deck space for sunbathing, as well as interior and exterior dining tables. Onboard life will be casual and social, aimed at creating a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere for guests.

The exclusive fleet of barges have been commissioned by Back-Roads Touring for their Charming Waterways experiences, and are custom built, featuring innovative designs that allow guests to travel in comfort and style.

Vessels are exclusively chartered by Back-Roads Touring, and are accompanied by Back-Roads Tour Guides and locally trained captains and crew.

About Back-Roads Touring

With more than 25 years' experience in small group and tailor-made tours across the UK and Europe, Back-Roads Touring is truly the original small group touring company. Each tour focuses on authentic, off the beaten track, local experiences exclusively available for small tour groups. Each tour is capped at 18 passengers, takes the scenic back roads instead of freeways, and provides authentic local experiences, charming accommodation and rich culinary experiences in a leisurely paced itinerary.
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Australian Hotel Takes Out Top Accolade at International Awards

Taylors Lakes, part of Choice Hotels Australasia, is celebrating a major international accolade, winning the 2015 International Quality Hotel of the Year in Las Vegas.

After being recognised as the 2014 Quality Hotel of the Year in Australasia, the property was then eligible to be in contention for the International Quality Hotel of the Year.

Announced at the Choice Hotels International Hotel of the Year Awards evening, part of this year's Choice Hotels International Convention, the Melbourne based property came equal first with Quality Hotel Curitiba in Brazil, competing against hundreds of other Quality Hotels from across the globe.

Choice Hotels Australasia CEO, Trent Fraser, was in Las Vegas for the award ceremony and paid tribute to the dedicated team.

“Quality Hotel Taylors Lakes' commitment to excellence and outstanding guest service has earned it this top accolade.

“The entire team at Choice Hotels Australasia is so proud of the Australian property, recognised internationally with this award and setting the standards for the entire industry,” said Mr Fraser.

Quality Hotel Taylors Lakes exterior
Quality Hotel Taylors Lakes General Manager, Eric Visscher, said he was so proud to receive this award and could not have done this without the help of Choice Hotels.

“Approximately three years ago we made the decision to join Choice Hotels. Since then we have not looked back. This partnership has given us the backing and support of a global hotel group who have assisted in improving operational efficiencies, driving new business and improving standards across the property.

“Our hard working staff thrives on providing exceptional service to our guests and we are so honoured to receive this international award,” said Mr Visscher.

Recognised for demonstrating excellence in hospitality, customer service and hotel operations, Quality Hotel Taylors Lakes is a 4 star hotel that features 58 well-appointed and comfortable rooms.

The hotel offers complimentary Wi-Fi, daily breakfast served in the club lounge, complimentary access to Kore Gym (located adjacent to the property), 300 onsite car park spaces, extensive function facilities, two restaurants, sports bar with TAB, onsite guest laundry and complimentary bus shuttle to the Airport and Melbourne's key tourist attractions.

Choice Hotels Australasia has more than 270 hotels across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, with more than 11,000 rooms. Choice Hotels Australasia is a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Choice Hotels International, a publicly listed (NYSE: CHH) company in the United States with more than 6,300 hotels and 500,000 rooms in more than 35 countries and territories.

www.choicehotels.com.au


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&Beyond Celebrates World Turtle Day

Celebrated on 23 May, World Turtle Day was created to increase awareness of turtle species around the world and bring attention to the challenges that they face to their survival.



Located off the coast of Tanzania, the private and exclusive &Beyond Mnemba Island has long been dedicated to ensuring the survival of the endangered green turtle. One of only two protected nesting sites for the species in Zanzibar, an average of 34 turtles have laid their eggs on the island each year since 1998, when the &Beyond team began keeping records. With more than a hundred hatchlings born per nest, an estimated 60 000 green turtles have begun life on the island in the past 17 years.

Mnemba is one of the top three sites for green turtle breeding in Tanzania. With all Mnemba Island staff fully trained in keeping the turtles safe, guests on the island are invited to witness as the females come ashore to lay their eggs. Nests are meticulously monitored and guests also get to see the newly born hatchlings making their way to the ocean.

The company’s other tropical island paradise, &Beyond Benguerra Island also offers turtle encounters for divers exploring the balmy Indian Ocean waters. Situated in the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, the island forms part of a marine sanctuary created to safeguard the five species of sea turtle found in the area, as well as to create a safe habitat for the rare and endangered dugong. The island’s massive sand dunes form the ideal habitat for the turtles to nest, although the marine species spends most of its time out at sea, feeding on jellyfish, among other prey items.

In neighbouring South Africa, &Beyond holds a concessionary permit at Sodwana Bay, which allows the company to conduct midnight safaris along the beach, searching for turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs. &Beyond is only one of two concessionaries with permission to traverse the secluded beaches of Sodwana, one of the few accessible places along the 250 km (155 mile) stretch of coastline where the turtles dig their nests between

November and February. Guests at the nearby &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve are driven along the deserted coastline, looking for fresh turtle tracks that emerge from the ocean and travel up to the beach in search of a suitable nesting site. Once a turtle is located, &Beyond’s guides, who are specially accredited to conduct such tours, ensure that she is far enough into the nesting process so as not to disturb her before guests can approach and watch as she completes laying up to a hundred eggs.

ABOUT &BEYOND

&Beyond is one of the world’s leading luxury experiential travel companies, designing personalised luxury safaris in 15 African countries, as well as India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The company also owns and operates 33 extraordinary lodges and camps in Africa and India’s natural highspots.

Established in 1991, &Beyond takes exceptional care of its guests in order to make a difference; its commitment to sustainable responsible travel and community empowerment is world renowned.

For more information visit www.andbeyond.com
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