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Friday, April 21, 2017

Silversea flagship, Silver Muse, christened in Monaco

Silver Muse christened by Silversea Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio's daughter, Costanza Lefebvre, in Monaco

The ninth ship in the Silversea fleet offers the highest expression of excellence at sea

Ultra-luxury cruise line, Silversea, welcomed VIPs and other distinguished guests to Port Hercule in the heart of Monaco yesterday, including: His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco; His Excellency Minister of State of the Principality, Serge Telle; His Excellency Archbishop of Monaco Barsi; Mr. Peter Greenberg (CBS-TV Anchor and News Travel Editor, Master of  Ceremony); Mr. Geoffrey Kent (Abercrombie & Kent Founder) and Mr. Gerald Lawless (Chairman of WTCC), for an intimate ceremony marking the christening of the latest addition to the fleet, Silver Muse. 

The historic celebration, hosted by Silversea Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, was honoured with incredible performances by the Sinfonietta Orchestra of Rome and renowned violinist Charlie Siem, both of whom enriched the ceremony with sublimely moving musical renditions.

Silver Muse, the ninth ship in the Silversea fleet, caters to the most discerning passengers at sea, offering the highest expression of elegance and comfort while aiming to redefine the ultra-luxury cruising experience.

Over the past two weeks, guests from around the world were invited to preview the new flagship on a number of exclusive voyages in the Mediterranean. Initial feedback from media, as well as trade and industry representatives has been overwhelmingly positive, with the quality of the finished Fincantieri vessel and Silversea's level of service by the Silver Muse crew exceeding guests' expectations.  

Accommodating 596 passengers, the ship boasts an unrivalled selection of dining options on board, including three restaurants new to the Silversea fleet: Atlantide, a seafood and grill concept representing the ultimate in culinary excellence and creativity by using the finest ingredients sourced from around the world; the Asian-accented Indochine; and an Italian-themed poolside restaurant, Spaccanapoli, which serves homemade Italian pizzas throughout the day. With the addition of these new culinary venues, Silver Muse guests have a choice of eight onboard restaurants and the freedom to dine on "anything, anywhere, at any time" on the ship.

Silver Muse is also home to the unique Zàgara Beauty Spa, which offers a relaxing sanctuary while transporting guests on a journey of the five senses tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

Monaco is not merely the base of Silversea's operations, it is also the home of the company's proud Monegasque history. Silversea shares the culture, traditions and values of the Principality with the world, with its nine ships visiting more than 900 different ports of call each year.

Attending the christening ceremony, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco said: "On behalf of the Principality of Monaco, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Silver Muse, its crew and passengers. She represents the next generation of cruise ships with respect to both fuel efficiency and energy saving technology. We share with Silversea common values and principles surrounding responsible environmental practices, and the development of sustainable business activities. The preservation of the oceans is a crucial priority for future generations."

Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea Chairman, said: "The close ties between Silversea and the Principality of Monaco reflect not only our commitment to this beautiful region but also to the history and values to which we adhere. Silversea is an Italian, family-owned business, yet our heart will always be shared with the Principality as we continue to move forward. As the home of Silversea, Monaco was always the natural choice for the christening of our new flagship, Silver Muse, and it is with great pleasure that we can share this milestone with both the residents and guests of the Principality."

Roberto Martinoli, CEO of Silversea Cruises, added: "Silversea is associated with exceptional quality and voyages that leave long-lasting memories of discovery and wonder. As we continue to invest in our entire fleet, Silver Muse offers guests a taste of what is to come. Silver Muse represents an evolution of the Silversea hallmarks that set the company apart from the competition. With eight dining options, offering 28 varieties of culinary delights, Silver Muse has redefined the art of gastronomy at sea. With more open-air spaces and state-of-the-art facilities on board, we are positive that both new and returning guests will enjoy unforgettable memories."

For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Pet Dinosaur in the Blue Mountains

Cinematic Pet Dinosaurs come alive in the Blue Mountains Jurassic landscape with cutting edge local film industry  

Blockbuster film director, Matt Drummond, has championed the Blue Mountains as an emerging world-class film and television production hub, following the production of his latest movie, My Pet Dinosaur.

Drummond said the Blue Mountains had remarkable landscapes, talented crews, actors and industry expertise; along with a supportive regional body, the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise.

"There is a unique breadth and depth of talent, experience and world-class expertise in the Blue Mountains. Not only do we have leading technicians and crew living here, it seems to be home to some of Australia's leading actors," he said.

"The Blue Mountains is well placed to become a world-class film and television production hub. Filming and producing My Pet Dinosaur in and around the Blue Mountains was ideal. BMEE's Creative Industries Cluster under the MTNS MADE campaign provided us with invaluable collaboration and support across many aspects of the filmmaking process. MTNS MADE enabled access to resources, which ensured the production of My Pet Dinosaur remained a Blue Mountains region production."

My Pet Dinosaur, to be released internationally on April 22, 2017, was filmed at Blue Mountains locations, including Wentworth Falls Lake, The Old Bank Brasserie in Katoomba, Mt Wilson; and around Lithgow and surrounding regions.

My Pet Dinosaur looks set to out-perform Drummond's previous film, Dinosaur Island which was released in over 50 international markets. 'My Pet Dinosaur' is being billed as 'ET meets Pixar' and takes place in a town where a military experiment is uncovered when a young boy finds a tiny dinosaur. As the dinosaur grows, so too does the pursuit by government forces desperate to keep its existence a secret.

Drummond, has an impressive pedigree having worked with Discovery Channel USA, National Geographic USA, History Channel USA and several other international networks. He has received 3 Emmy Nominations, securing a win in 2014, and 1 AFI Nomination.  Through global interviews in the lead up to the movie's release, Matt is telling the world about the Blue Mountains as a film hub.

Drummond's comments follow the release of a report that shows the Blue Mountains' reputation as a creative industries hot spot is on the rise, with a report showing the emergence of a multi-million dollar industry. The independent report by economic analysis firm, Remplan found the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise's (BMEE) Creative Industries Cluster has contributed over $13.5m to the local economy over the last 12 months by facilitating film production in the Blue Mountains.

Four local film productions were profiled by Remplan, including My Pet Dinosaur, and their local expenditure was analysed and found these films had generated an overall economic impact of $13.592m over 12 months.

BMEE CEO, Jacqueline Brinkman said, "the case study also shows that 40 local jobs were created as a result of these films. Each of the film producers acknowledge the role that BMEE and the Creative Industries Cluster played in keeping the production in the Blue Mountains."

The Creative Industries Cluster was developed by BMEE with funding from Blue Mountains City Council in 2013 when economic research showed that Creative Industries was the third greatest contributor to the Blue Mountains Gross Regional Product and generated 8% of local jobs. Since then, BMEE has established MTNS MADE, a brand and a campaign which serves as a collaborative platform for promoting the region and its creative excellence.

Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill said the results are highly impressive and show that BMEE's cluster based approach to industry development in the Creative Industries is growing the economy and generating local jobs.

"When Council first set up BMEE, the Board recognised that the Creative Industries represented an opportunity for the Blue Mountains to diversify the local economy. In collaboration with the local industry, the BMEE team implemented a number of innovative and proactive strategies and with this report, we are starting to see the fruits of that labour," Cr Greenhill said.

The Blue Mountains is a popular choice for a range of commercial and network filming activities, overseen by Council and NPWS,that further contribute to the regional economy.

Mayfield Garden Oberon relaunch with major outdoor concert

Big Australian bands cultivate new entertainment program at Australia's biggest private open garden, Mayfield

The majestic Mayfield garden at Oberon will become a seductive backdrop to a major outdoor Autumnfest concert featuring James Reyne on 30 April 2017 as the gates open to the public every day of the year for the first time.

Reyne will perform within the 64-hectare European-inspired garden alongside Boom Crash Opera, Matt Boylan Smith and Smith & Jones, as the finale to the music, wine, food & craft beer festival, on now.

The celebration of the flamboyant autumnal colours at Mayfield is part of a dynamic annual entertainment program just released and includes luxe food events, yoga retreats (5-7 May), glamorous public gatherings, foraging, corporate retreats, weddings, major outdoor performances, and food and garden workshops.

The performances will take place in front of the spectacular Obelisk and Pond, and visitors can enjoy the concert from within the Alle of London Plain Trees with a hand selected range of the finest local food and beverage from the Central West. Floating food options include Smoking Brothers catering, Al Dente street food from Bathurst, the Moubar Vintage 1950s bar and coffee caravan, Tommy's Mexican food, and Two Heads Brewery.

Mayfield CEO Hamish Keith, formerly an internationally and nationally award-winning event producer, has designed a diverse catalogue of activities taking the family-owned property from a garden to marvel, to a new level of visitor experiences.

"Mayfield is an incredibly versatile venue with the gardens as the backdrop for events including specialist themed workshops in foraging, cooking, art and yoga; corporate retreats, private parties, and elegant public celebrations," Hamish said.

Access to the private residential garden is available during Mayfield's seasonal celebrations. Every other day, the public can explore the magnificently curated garden's visitor experiences and horticultural stories.

You can row across lakes and marvel at an 80-metre cascade, stroll through the stunning 6-acre Water Garden and the Grotto; there's a dedicated English rose garden, palatial chook houses, a Walled Kitchen Garden and a Garden Centre.

Mayfield is also a food experience with its café and produce store with 80% of its produce sourced from the grounds, and the remaining 20% from the Oberon region.

Tickets to the James Reyne concert cost $85 per adult and $35 per child (includes garden entry).

For return bus transfer packages from Oberon, Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow and Katoomba visit:


530 Mayfield Road Oberon, NSW 2787

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Australia's new hotel brand

Australia's new hotel brand, TRIBE Hotel Group (TRIBE), is focused on giving guests everything they need and nothing they don't, in a space that is intelligent and sophisticated with high-end design.

Instead of being something to everyone, TRIBE has been created for tech savvy design lovers and urban explorers, who are meticulous when it comes to where they stay and prudent about what they pay. The result is a hotel that is as stylish as it smart.

Its first location, TRIBE Perth is a nine-storey 126-room hotel in West Perth - next to Kings Park - that will launch on Tuesday, 16 May 2017, with interiors by award-winning architect and interior designer Travis Walton; architecture by Idle Architecture Studio; and brand campaigns shot by Nicole Bentley.

TRIBE Perth has highly functional rooms and shared spaces that are luxurious and contemporary, with cutting edge technology, entertainment and office facilities as standard. Gone are out-dated and unwanted services, inefficient check-in and checkouts, overpriced mini bars and restaurants and room service.

Its luxurious and contemporary living areas – styled by Walton in collaboration with celebrated art director Marsha Golemac – are part collaborative workspace, part social club featuring break out spaces, lounges, an outdoor courtyard and TRIBE Foods. Design details include: lighting by Tom Dixon, Moroso feature chairs, Jean-Paul Gaultier cushions, Febrik upholstered sofas, and an impressively curated collection of work by Australian contemporary artists.

Walton has cleverly crafted the rooms to complement the unique and innovative living areas, all complete with free Wi-Fi, signature queen beds with a custom designed bed base to allow for 'out of the way storage', floor-to-ceiling windows and blackout blinds, and amenities including Nespresso pods and T2. Bathrooms feature rain showers and Kevin Murphy shower products.

With modern travellers in mind, rooms include smart TVs, Bluetooth digital radios and alarm clocks, a digital reading collection, and free movies on demand, while the common areas offer printing via smartphone streaming, guest iMacs and plug and play GPO and USB outlets throughout.

TRIBE Foods - a café by day and bar by night – will feature menus created by Tobie Puttock (River Café, Fifteen Restaurant) that will have a focus on sustainability, seasonality and ethical eating. Always fully stocked with refreshments and foods to fuel the body, guests can choose what works for them - eat together or alone; gorge or 'grab and go' the express way.

As Australia's first integrated modular design hotel, TRIBE sets itself apart from traditional accommodation by using a contemporary modular design and construction method comprising pre-fabricated guest rooms with sophisticated essentials for the modern traveller.

TRIBE founder Mark Peters is a pioneer in modular construction and a specialist hotel developer. His vision was to create an entirely new category of design hotels in Australia, with the view to expand globally.

“The contemporary traveller no longer checks into a hotel, they check in to a destination, that's why when we created TRIBE we re-evaluated the hotel model to prioritise the benefits they would want.

“We've focused on what matters so that we don't pass on costs to our guests for the things that don't, by paring back and refining our offering and using cost effective and smart modular construction we're able to share significant savings with our guests, making TRIBE an aspirational space at an accessible price,” says Peters.

Expansion plans are already well underway with new TRIBE hotel sites acquired in Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne, and intentions to expand internationally over the next 10 years.

Created with an international cast of business travellers and urban explorers in mind, TRIBE is set to be a hotly anticipated new offering in the Australian hotel landscape.

Rooms start from $199 per night*.


Traveloscopy | 

Anzac Day in France

If you are coming to France and visiting Paris around Anzac Day (April 25th), then you should visit an area close to Paris that is drenched in Australian history. The Somme is where many Australian soldiers fought, and where one of the most stunning victories of World War 1 took place.

The small town of Villers-Bretonneux, just outside Amiens, is the obvious place to head for if you are a WW1 history buff. It spectacularly recalls the Australian input into the battles at the Somme.

Experts from leading French tour company Paris On The Way have put together a list of the top 5 places that World War 1 enthusiasts should visit:

1) The Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux is the main memorial to Australian soldiers killed on the Western Front. Consisting of a tower listing the missing dead - almost 11,000 names, it commemorates the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux (24-27 April 1918).

2) The Franco-Australian Museum at Villers- Bretonneux tells the story of the Australian Imperial Force during World War 1 and offers an insight into the Australian story there.

3) Well-known both at home and abroad is the story of the ‘unknown soldier.’ The Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux contains his empty grave with the following inscription:

“The remains of an unknown Australian soldier lay in this grave for 75 years. On November 2, 1993, they were exhumed and now rest in the tomb of the Unknown Solider at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.”

4) The ‘Avenue des Australiens’ – is where you can visit a monument dedicated to the memory of the 2nd Australian Division. Remarkable for its many plaques, there is also a statue of an Australian soldier standing guard.

5) The Battle of the Fromelles Museum – takes visitors on a journey from ‘shadow to light’, exploring the disaster of the Battle of Fromelles and the recovery almost 100 years later of 250 soldiers that died at this battle in July 2016. Here you can see World War 1 artefacts such as uniforms and weapons as well as recreations of both German and Allied trenches using materials recovered from the original battleground.

These are just a few of the sights that Australians can visit. Paris on the way delivers a range of guided tours for those wishing to visit pertinent war sites around Paris.

Not your typical tour guide company, Paris On The Way is fully endorsed by the French Ministry for Culture, and delivers tours that are heart-felt, memorable and bespoke…combining French savoir faire with true joie de vivre.

Take a look at the full range of tours -

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Nationwide Songkran celebrations kick off in Bangkok

Bangkok – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) kicked off this year’s Songkran celebrations with an Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession on 8 April in central Bangkok. The event, presided over by H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, marked the opening of the Amazing Songkran Experience Festival 2017, which is taking place in Bangkok’s Benjasiri Park from 8-13 April, and will give everyone a taste of the Thai New Year in the different regions of Thailand.
Nationwide Songkran celebrations kick off with colourful Bangkok extravaganza
H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn (centre) is joined by Miss Pranee Sattayaprakob, Deputy Permanent Secretary of BMA (left), H.E. Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul Minister of Tourism and Sports (2nd left), Mr. Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of TAT Board of Directors (right) and TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn (2nd right), at the opening of the Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession

H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn said, “The Amazing Songkran Festival Experience 2017 allows both Thais and international visitors to enjoy a deep appreciation of Songkran in Thailand and understand how it differs from region to region while uniting Thais in a spirit of respect and fun.”
After an opening ceremony which evoked Songkran traditions, the Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession took place on 8 April from 17.30 to 20.30 Hrs. and took a route down Sukhumvit Road, from the Phrom Phong Junction to Pathum Wan Intersection. The colourful procession, which opened the national Songkran celebrations was made up of six parts: 1) Amazing Blossom of Siam; 2) Songkran Goddess, Krini Devi who represented Songkran 2017; 3) Myths and traditions of Songkran told via floats, flowers and dances from the five regions of Thailand; 4) Green Songkran, represented by eco-friendly cars and the Earth of Green Songkran Show; 5) Songkran traditions of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar; 6) The final parade will showcase classic and distinctive vehicles including rickshaws and tuk-tuks from many parts of Thailand.

Nationwide Songkran celebrations kick off with colourful Bangkok extravaganza
The Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession showcased tradition, dances and colour from all the main regions of Thailand.

The grand processions kicked off the five-day Amazing Songkran Festival Experience 2017 which will see the Sukhumvit side of Benjasiri Park divided into Four Zones until 13 April.
Zone 1 is where visitors can pay respect to the Buddha image, experience the ancient traditions of Songkran and learn how to make scented water and flowers displays in fun workshops.
Zone 2 showcases Songkran traditions in five regions, including Pee Mai Muang in the North; Boon Duen Ha in the Northeast, the ethnic Mon-style Songkran in the Central Region, and the Sri Maharaja Songkran from the East, as well as local costumes and the fishing culture from the South.
Zone 3 is where Songkran related snacks and desserts from all regions of Thailand can be sampled, including Khao Chae – a dish of steamed rice in jasmine-scented iced water served with savoury accompaniments.
Zone 4 is the event’s main stage which features shows and entertainment, including Thai Blind Boxing and a Miss Amazing Songkran International Beauty Contest.

Nationwide Songkran celebrations kick off with colourful Bangkok extravaganza  
In the Amazing Songkran Festival Experience 2017, visitors can learn about the traditions of Songkran and understand how they differ across Thailand.

Mr. Patimapragorn concluded, “We hope that after having enjoyed a glimpse of how Songkran is celebrated distinctively in different parts of Thailand, Thais and international visitors will be inspired to head upcountry to enjoy Songkran in a traditional setting.”
During the 2017 Songkran Festival, it is estimated that the number of international tourists traveling to Thailand to join the fun will rise 10 per cent to over 470,000. This will generate revenue of 8.05 million Baht, an increase of 17 per cent over the same New Year period last year.
The Amazing Songkran Festival Experience 2017 takes place until 13 April from 16.00 to 20.00 hrs. and from noon onwards on 13 April 2017.

MTA: Erosion of travel agents at the expense of OTAs a "furphy"

Merricks: "OTAs promoting themselves as online
versions of traditional travel agents a "misnomer'"

Mobile Travel Agents' (MTA) co-managing director, Roy Merricks has labelled comments inferring travel agents and travel advisors' positions are being eroded at the expense of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) as, in his opinion, a "furphy".

Speaking from the company's national Head Office on the Gold Coast, Mr Merricks has queried whether OTAs such as Webjet and similar organisations should even be considered as de facto travel agents or travel advisers.

"Any OTA promoting itself as a travel agent or travel advisor could be construed as "potentially misleading," Mr Merricks said.

"OTAs don't deliver the products or complete services provided by a credentialed national agency, such as MTA, with true connections and support for clients on the ground globally."

Mr Merricks said that while originally, OTAs had specialised in either flights or hotel reservations, over the years they have generally added to that base to include other land content designed to broaden their appeal.

"The misnomer is they are effectively promoting themselves as an online version of a traditional travel agent - without a shop - and therefore suggesting they are more readily available," he said.

"Nothing is further from the truth and it is, in my opinion, potentially misleading when OTAs promote themselves as a travel agent or travel advisor in the sense of the words understood by consumers.

"At the end of the day the travel distribution system, travel agents and travel advisors are alive and growing well.

"OTA's should perhaps be more aptly described as Online Travel Algorithms - let's see them for what they really are."



Monday, April 10, 2017

Virtuoso's Hottest New Hotels for 2017

Jetsetters wondering where to go next, look no further! Leading luxury and experiential travel network Virtuoso, along with its more than 770 travel agency partners worldwide, has identified the hottest hotel openings around the globe for this winter season and beyond.

Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya, Mexico
Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya opened its 214-room property on December 12, 2016. Bordering a crystalline lagoon and mangroves, the resort features an open layout flooded with sunlight and décor inspired by nature. Guests can explore the nearby ruins of Tulum, enjoy the natural swimming holes and access the 18-hole El Camaleón golf course designed by renowned architect and PGA legend Greg Norman. Virtuoso guests receive an upgrade on arrival if available, daily breakfast for two, a $120 credit to use towards a professional photo shoot or within the resort, plus a farewell gift.

Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, California
The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills will open in April 2017 on the corner of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards. Each of the 170 rooms will have unobstructed views of the city. Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will oversee the hotel's restaurant and the property will also offer a 5,000-square-foot spa and rooftop pool, the largest of its kind in Beverly Hills. Virtuoso guests will enjoy an upgrade at booking if available, American breakfast for two daily, a private one-way airport transfer, complimentary Wi-Fi and early check in and late check-out if available.

The Bangkok EDITION, Thailand
The Bangkok EDITION, a collaboration between Marriott International and renowned hotelier Ian Schrager, will open in June 2017. The 155-room property will be housed in the tallest building in Thailand, MahaNakhon Tower, overlooking Bangkok's skyline. Virtuoso guests will receive an upgrade at booking if available, breakfast for two daily, a $100 food and beverage credit, early check-in and late check-out if available, and for suite stays, a private one-way airport transfer.

The Fontenay Hamburg, Germany
When its doors open in summer 2017, the Fontenay Hamburg will be the city's first new luxury hotel in 18 years. Located on the tranquil banks of Lake Alster, the fluid-like exterior mirrors the rippled lines in the water and surrounding parkland. The 131 rooms and suites each have a private balcony, with the majority featuring lake views. The property will also offer a 10,000-square-foot spa with therapeutic and medical treatments as well as cycling and running programs. Virtuoso guests will receive a complimentary upgrade and daily breakfast for two, plus more perks to come.

Park Hyatt St. Kitts, St. Kitts and Nevis
Park Hyatt St. Kitts will open in summer 2017 on Banana Bay, a secluded cove of white-sand beach. Overlooking The Narrows, a strait separating St. Kitts and the volcanic island of Nevis, the hotel will feature 126 rooms, 48 of which are suites with private rooftop pools and sea views. In addition to a trio of dining options, rum bar, 12-room spa and yoga pavilion, the resort will offer day-long Kittitian Journeys, which focus on the island's history, culture and nature. Virtuoso guests will receive an upgrade on arrival if available, a welcome amenity, full breakfast for two daily, a $100 resort credit, complimentary Wi-Fi and early check-in/late check-out if available.

Adare Manor, Ireland
Situated on the banks of the Maigue River and surrounded by medieval ruins, the 19th-century neo-Gothic Adare Manor will unveil an 18-month, multimillion-dollar renovation in September 2017. Architects Reardon Smith, known for their restoration of luxury hotels in London, and leading hospitality interior designer Richmond International will update the manor with modern amenities while preserving its historic past. The transformation will include a refurbished championship golf course and a renovated golf clubhouse as well as a new spa, pool, cinema and ballroom. A bedroom wing will also be added, bringing the room count to 104. Virtuoso guests will receive a complimentary upgrade and daily breakfast for two, plus other benefits.

Each hotel has been thoroughly vetted to ensure it meets with Virtuoso's exacting standards, and invited to participate in the organization's Virtuoso Preview program. As part of Preview, hotels work with Virtuoso and their affiliated advisors during the hotel's crucial preopening phase, taking guidance from the industry's best salesforce while also securing a jumpstart on bookings. In exchange, guests who reserve their stay through a Virtuoso advisor receive exclusive benefits not available through any credit card program or website, delivering tangible value upwards of $450 per stay in the way of spa treatments, rounds of golf and other services and experiences that help define the property.

Americans Avoiding Certain Countries Due to Perceived Global Threats


A new survey by international travel agency network Virtuoso has found travellers are avoiding certain worldwide destinations as a result of the uncertainty tied to specific countries and global regions. Virtuoso was one of the first travel organisations to introduce the term VUCA, which stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, as a means of describing the potential travel disruptions caused by geopolitical situations.

"The world is going through a transition where uncertainty is the new norm," says Matthew D. Upchurch, Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso. "Whether it's Brexit, the shifting political climate in the U.S., or the threat of terrorism or disease such as Zika, there seems to be only two certainties. First, we have no idea what we might wake up to find tomorrow because change happens fast. Two, and this is of utmost importance, travel is the best way to bring people together when isolation begins. At Virtuoso, we say borders divide, but travel unites. Never has it been more important to keep the ability to travel as a fundamental right."

Among the questions asked, Virtuoso surveyed its travel advisors globally to discover the impact of the Presidential Executive Order disallowing travelers from seven countries to enter the U.S. Although the order is not currently in effect, Virtuoso advisors report that it is still impacting clients' travel decisions. Among U.S.-based advisors, 10 percent say clients are changing travel plans due to a concern over anti-American sentiment. However, a much higher 40 percent say their clients are now avoiding certain destinations due to concerns over terrorism, including the Middle East, Europe and Africa, with Turkey and Egypt topping the list of countries. Instead, Americans are choosing to travel within their own country, as well as visit those perceived as safer, including Japan, Canada and New Zealand.

Forty-two percent of Virtuoso-affiliated travel advisors outside of the U.S. say their clients are avoiding travel to the United States due to factors including opposition to the country's foreign policy and concerns over obtaining visas. As an alternative, they are electing to travel to destinations such as Italy, Australia and the U.K. The majority of advisors anticipate the slowdown in travel to the U.S. will last three to six months.

Switzerland Introduces First Climate-Neutral Ship

Switzerland has upped the ante on its water transportation services with the
introduction of its very first climate neutral ship, the MS 2017, which will
enter the public service on Lake Lucerne in May.

The ship will be the country's second eco-friendly vessel, following the
2016 launch of the restored Vedetta 1908 on Lake Lugano, which runs on solar
and electric power.

Scheduled to be christened on 4 May 2017, the sleek, modern and luxurious
MS 2017 sets a milestone in the Swiss shipping scene in terms of quality and

With a surface area of 1400 sqm sprawling across five decks, passengers will
enjoy many of the ships features, including the Panorama Deck, Compass
Lounge and Bar on the sun deck, the Nautilus Cabin in the fuselage with
underwater views, and the Aqua Terrace with a sea water foot bath in the

Even though the MS 2017 will be serving the public on Lake Lucerne, it can
be booked for exclusive functions, allowing up to 400 seats for banquet
styled events.

For more information on the MS 2017Lake Lucerne
and the city of Lucerne, visit

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Silversea reveals Silver Muse’s Balsorano Owner’s Suite

The new flagship's premier suite has been designed in conjunction with Chairman, Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio


Ultra-luxury cruise line Silversea, has revealed details of Silver Muse's Balsorano Owner's Suite, a unique space which reflects the taste and Italian tradition of Silversea chairman, Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio.

Named Balsorano, the suite draws inspiration from the chairman's full name, Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio di Balsorano de Clunieres. Balsorano is also a castle in Italy.

At more than 1000 square feet in size, the Balsorano Suite contains a specially curated selection of Mr Lefebvre's personal items including books, sculptures, works of art and family photographs. Among the items chosen are a chesterfield chair and ottoman, an additional chair from Mr. Lefebvre's former family residence in Rome, and photos of Mr. Antonio Lefebvre, Mr. Lefebvre's father and mentor.

The bookshelf in the Balsorano Suite is adorned with Mr. Lefebvre's favourite titles, including: The Great Navigators of the Eighteenth Century by Jules Verne; The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean by David Abulafia; and After the Victorians: The World Our Parents Knew by A.N. Wilson.

The Balsorano Suite will also be stocked with vintage port, each variety having been specially selected by Mr. Lefebvre himself.

Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea Chairman, said: "I am incredibly proud to present the Balsorano Suite, a space which superbly encapsulates my family's Italian heritage and taste. I hope that guests will, like me, find the Balsorano Suite a spectacular home away from home aboard Silver Muse."

Barbara Muckermann, Chief Marketing Officer at Silversea Cruises, said: "Owned and operated by one family – the Lefebvres of Rome – Italian tradition is firmly ingrained in the Silversea brand. As is reflected across the entire ship, much passion and pride has gone into the creation of the Balsorano Suite, the most luxurious suite on Silver Muse."

Calling at 34 countries and 130 ports in 2017 alone, Silver Muse will redefine ocean travel, enhancing the small-ship intimacy with spacious all-suite accommodations that are the hallmarks of the Silversea experience. The addition of Silver Muse, will expand Silversea's fleet to nine ships and will once again significantly raise the bar in the ultra-luxury cruise market.

For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Marriott Hotels opens Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay

Marriott Hotels, Marriott International's flagship brand, celebrates the opening of its first hotel in Fiji, as Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay welcomes guests to an unspoiled corner of this South Pacific island paradise.

Nestled on the secluded beaches of Momi Bay on the western coast of Viti Levu, Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay is an exotic destination defined by its idyllic natural surroundings.

"We are delighted to announce the opening of the first property under the Marriott Hotels brand in Fiji," said Silvano Dressino, General Manager of Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay. "The resort is located in a beautiful, untouched area of Fiji, making it the ideal spot for families and friends to explore."

“We want our guests to experience aesthetically pleasing spaces that help foster their inventive nature,” said Matthew Carroll, Vice President, Marriott Hotels. “Marriott Hotels has consistently pushed to create experiences that inspire our guests' creativity, and where else is more inspirational than an overwater villa in Fiji.”

Thoughtfully designed to take full advantage of the picture-perfect setting, Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay is the only property on Fiji's mainland to offer overwater villas. Surrounded by 20 hectares of crystal-clear, man-made lagoons, guests enjoy direct access to a private white-sand beach. The resort features 114 Bure Villas, including 22 over-water Bure Villas with decks from which guests can dive directly into the turquoise waters. The inventive design extends to the 136 Deluxe Rooms, which can be interconnected, making them ideal for families and groups. Embracing the surrounding nature, the open-plan spaces make the most of the refreshing sea breeze and natural sunlight. The dynamic interiors reflect the vibrant local culture with motifs, colours and materials inspired by Fijian design and updated with a modern twist.

“The resort embodies Marriott Hotels' 'Travel Brilliantly' ethos, with its contemporary Fijian-inspired design and natural offerings bringing to life the ultimate resort experience,” said Mike Fulkerson, Vice President, Brand and Marketing Asia Pacific.

The resort is situated a convenient 45-minute drive from Nadi International Airport, and within easy reach of Nadi Town (29km), Denarau Island (36km) and other enticing attractions. Adventure-seekers can enjoy a short boat ride to Cloud Break Surf to experience some of the world's most impressive waves, go zip-lining or explore the Sebeto hot springs and rejuvenate in the mineral-rich mud baths.

Guests can choose from three restaurants which offer distinctive local and international cuisines. Complemented with Marriott's thoughtful service, each venue provides a dynamic dining experience. At Goji Kitchen & Bar, guests can engage with chefs and savour the inventive Fijian, Asian and international dishes made to order at the open-kitchen cooking stations, or enjoy a bounty of fresh seafood at Fish Bar, overlooking panoramas of the Pacific Ocean. For those looking for a more casual or relaxed setting, Lagoon House & Bar offers simple yet delicious Mediterranean fare made of the highest quality produce. Fiji Baking Company, the resort's bakery and delicatessen, offers freshly made pastries, sandwiches and salads as well as barista-style coffee in a relaxed café setting.

For inspirational weddings, special events, conferences and meetings, the Grand Salon Ballroom offers 360 square metres of versatile event space with an abundance of natural lighting. Guests can take advantage of the resort's beachfront location and 1,200 square metres of outdoor pre-function space by extending their event outside. Designed with flexibility in mind, the multipurpose venues feature the latest technology, access to gourmet catering and expert event planning services.

Committed to guests' total wellness, the resort's Health Club offers a range of onsite activities such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and tennis. The resort is also in close proximity to two golf courses: Natadola Golf Course (34km) and Danarau Golf & Racquet Club (36km). For families, the Turtles Kids' Club provides interactive programs to entertain young guests. Meanwhile, adults can rebalance with a signature treatment at the serene Quan Spa to align the body and mind and restore clarity. There are also three large pools and a whirlpool surrounded by stylish cabanas and loungers, including an adult's only infinity pool and a swim-up bar where guests can enjoy a cocktail and light bite while taking in the views.

Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay is a hidden gem that ensures that every guest has an inspiring getaway, while discovering an unchartered corner of this exciting tropical destination.

For more information please visit:


'Handy’ Smartphone Keeps Business Travellers Connected at Anantara Siam Bangkok

Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel understands the needs of business travellers looking to stay connected abroad. That's why it offers all guests a complimentary in-room smartphone aptly named, "handy".

Without necessity to take a SIM card, it provides you with a  personal number to receive calls or place them to Thailand and 10 international countries for free. Prefer texting? It also offers unlimited 4G access or can be used as a hotspot should you be tethered to your personal smartphone.

Best of all, group organisers can keep their clients updated with amendments to an itinerary or special arrangements for select attendees through push notifications. Anantara Siam Hotel is located in the heart of Bangkok and offers discerning business travellers, incentive groups and global meetings the perfect downtown escape in the centre of the world's most visited city. handy is offered in every guest room at Anantara Siam, and is the only hotel in city centre to offer such a service complimentary.

Pictured: 'handy' smartphones are offered in every guest room with the compliments of Anantara Siam


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

UTracks welcomes landmark tourism deal

News of an historic tourism deal being signed over the weekend between Paris and London, has been welcomed by the team at UTracks, Australia's leading active European holiday specialist.

UTracks have been promoting experiences that link both sides of the English Channel for some years now.

Tackling Brexit head on, London and Paris have signed an historic deal, in which the two cities will be jointly promoted to attract more overseas visitors.

It marks the first time the two cities have cooperated to promote tourism and comes as UK begins the formal process of withdrawing from the European Union (EU).

Friday, March 31, 2017

South America's First Luxury Train

Interest in South American Rail Spikes with Continent's First Luxury Train

According to Rail Plus, interest in South American rail journeys have always enjoyed strong growth, but the impending launch of the Belmond Andean Explorer in May, the continent's very first luxury train, is taking interest levels to a whole new level.

With year-on-year sales doubling from 2015 to 2016 for the company's current South American train experiences, Commercial Director of Rail Plus, Ingrid Kocijan, says as May 2017 approaches, the overwhelming interest pouring in for the brand new journey will not be slowing down any time soon, with tickets already being sold through the company's Great Train Journeys portfolio.

"South America remains one of the more exotic parts of the world for many rail travellers as the journeys take them through some of the world's most rough and raw terrains, remote villages and unspoiled nature reserves," says Kocijan. "There is, of course, also the element of affordability when compared to other Great Rail Journeys around the world.

The brand new Belmond Andean Explorer offers travellers a stunning new experience between Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, and the glassy Lake Titicaca. With four itineraries to choose from - the 1D/1N
Spirit of the Andes which goes from Puno to Cusco; the 1D/1N Spirit of the Water, the returning Cusco-Puno journey; the 2D/2N Andean Plains and Islands of Discovery which departs Arequipa to Cusco via Puno; and the 2D2N Peruvian Highlands, the return journey from Cusco-Arequipa-Puno - rail enthusiasts can easily tailor their journey according to the direction they are travelling.

All three cabin categories (bunk, twin and double) featuring ensuite facilities and Peru's hand woven fabrics will ensure travellers the utmost comfort, while the two dining cars serving menus designed by chefs from
Cusco's Belmond Hotel Monasterio will spoil palates with the best of local seasonal flavours.

Prices for this brand new luxury Peruvian experience starts from AU$676 per couple and includes all meals and tours. The Belmond Andean Explorer is the fourth addition to Rail Plus' South American offering which includes the Andean Explorer, the Belmond Hiram Bingham and Vistadome.

Festival time in Macau

Creating yet another splash in Macao this year is the annual International Dragon Boat Festival and a series of action-packed races and events that will have onlookers on the edge of their seats.

With thousands of supporters converging on the shores of Nam Van Lake, the highly-charged festival – to be held on May 27, 28 and 30 – attracts teams from around the globe, including Australia, to compete for the coveted trophies.

However, despite the dragon boat festival's widespread appeal, it is only one of a number of exciting - and vibrant - festivals and events to fill the Macao calendar which, for 2017, includes:

· A- Ma Festival (April 19), where locals pay homage to Macao's most popular deity, the Goddess of Seafarers, from whom Macao is said to derive its name.

· 28th Macao Arts Festival (April 28 to May 31) Organised by the Cultural Affairs Bureau, this year's festival carries the theme "Heterotopia" through texts, stories, images, music and imagery and makes up 25 shows and exhibitions, which, combined with the overall program, total more than 100 activities,

· 29th Macao International Fireworks Display Contest (September to October) Universally acclaimed as one of the best of its kind, the contest takes place on the shorefront of the Macau Tower each weekend from September to October with 16 teams from around the world competing.

· 17th Macau Food Festival (November 10-26) With the 338-metre-high Macau Tower as a backdrop, 120 local restaurants merge with 26 invited food and beverage merchants to put on this special food festival near Sai Van Lake.

· 64th Macau Grand Prix (November 16-19), a long-standing street motor racing event referred to as the proving ground of new legends. The Formula 3 challenge from the carnival is internationally recognised as the longest running event of its kind and most prestigious on the local calendar.

· Parade through Macao, Latin City (December 3) Marks the anniversary of Macao's Handover to China and highlights Macao's cultural features. Prepare for artists to present dazzlingly colourful performances, bringing the celebration to a vivid climax.

· 36th Macau International Marathon (December 3) Held on the same day as the parade, runners from around the world pound the streets of Macao. For those less physically inclined, there's a half marathon and mini event.

· Macao Light Festival (Dec 3-31) Like Sydney's Vivid, this festival brings to life small squares and major historic buildings through neon lights and colourful 3D mapping.

· International Film Festival and Awards (December) Macao will roll out the red carpet and reach for the stars at its second annual AFFAM, screening films from Asia and beyond in Europe and South America.

Details: Macao Government Tourism Office:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Uniworld Joie de Vivre set sails

The Boutique River Cruise Collection's First Super Ship to Sail the Seine River Embarks on Inaugural Journey through Northern France

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection's newest Super Ship, the S.S. Joie de Vivre, set sail yesterday on its maiden voyage along the historic Seine River. The inaugural events included a christening ceremony in Paris led by the ship's Godmother, Dame Joan Collins. Following the event, the S.S. Joie de Vivre embarked on its journey through Northern France along Uniworld's Paris & Normandy itinerary, with unique programming in celebration of the highly anticipated launch.

"We are delighted to welcome the S.S. Joie de Vivre to our impeccable fleet of floating boutique luxury hotels, as the first of Uniworld's Super Ships to sail the renowned Seine River," said Ellen Bettridge, President & CEO of Uniworld. "Our company has brought travellers to France for more than 70 years and we are thrilled to introduce a new, enticing way to experience the country. Godmother Dame Joan epitomises the same 'joy of living' philosophy embodied by the S.S. Joie de Vivre, and we are honoured to have had her christen the ship before its inaugural journey."

With a length of 125 metres, rather than the typical 135 metres, the S.S. Joie de Vivre can conveniently dock in the heart of Paris in the shadow of its most beloved landmark, the Eiffel Tower. The ship has two Royal Suites, eight Junior Suites, and 54 staterooms for a maximum capacity of 128 guests. Sailings on the S.S. Joie de Vivre in 2017 run from 2 April to 27 December.

The family-run design team from Uniworld's sister brand, Red Carnation Hotels, has bestowed their creative talents on the S.S. Joie de Vivre with bright, colourful and classic design and décor inspired by 20th Century Parisian influence from the Golden Twenties to the free-spirited Sixties, all blending seamlessly with modern conveniences. The ship features a design influenced by its destination and reminiscent of the finest super yachts across the globe, including highly-polished wood finishes throughout the vessel, each surrounded by luxurious fabrics and carpets in a minimalistic setting.

Farm-to-table cuisine and superb local wines are on display throughout the ship's culinary venues, including Restaurant Le Pigalle, Salon Toulouse, Le Bistrot. Le Cave des Vins is the S.S Joie de Vivre's hidden gem – an intimate venue for an exclusive hands-on dining experience. Guests select fresh ingredients and prepare a seven-course meal with the ship's onboard chefs, with French wine pairings from the sommelier.

Passengers are invited to relax and indulge their senses at Club L'Esprit, the onboard spa and wellness venue. Club L'Esprit offers a variety of massage therapies and beauty treatments, as well as a fitness centre. Yoga sessions and aquatic fitness classes are also offered daily and refreshing smoothies are served in the L'Esprit Bar.

A pool with a hydraulic floor transforms the space from day to night for guest entertainment. By night the venue becomes Claude's and offers an authentic French Supper Club experience, serving delicious delights from a tapas menu accompanied by curated cocktails with live music. For a few nights throughout the duration of the journey, Claude's presents classic French cinema under the stars.

The S.S. Joie De Vivre joins the Uniworld fleet which feature all-inclusive itineraries in Europe, as well as voyages in Russia, China, India, Egypt, Vietnam and Cambodia – a total of 22 rivers in 26 countries worldwide.

For more details or booking, please visit Follow the inaugural sailing on Uniworld's social media community at, or using the hashtag #ExperienceJDV.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Silversea Silver Cloud new designs revealed

The ship's multi-million dollar refurbishment to set new standards in luxury expedition cruising

Silversea has released a selection of renderings showcasing the beautifully crafted Silver Cloud interiors ahead of her conversion into an ice-class expedition ship, which will take place between August and October this year. Silver Cloud, which launched the Silversea fleet in 1994, will offer the ultra-luxury distinctions of a classic Silversea ship combined with the strength and maneuverability required for expedition cruising.

The new renderings highlight the luxurious design of Silver Cloud's public spaces including La Terrazza, The Restaurant, Observation Lounge, Panorama Lounge, and Venetian Lounge. The extensive refurbishment will include the creation of the Observation lounge, new teak flooring, upholstery and lighting in La Terrazza and new carpet and upholstery in The Restaurant. Silver Cloud will also feature a new gym with Technogym equipment.

In addition to interior updates, the multi-million dollar refurbishment will strengthen Silver Cloud's hull enabling her to explore polar waters. Silver Cloud's transition to an ice-class vessel will bring expedition guests the luxury, style and comfort synonymous with Silversea's classic ships. A guest capacity of 260 in non-polar regions and just 200 in polar regions means that guests will enjoy the highest levels of personalised and attentive service on board. The limited capacity in polar regions also means that all guests can disembark at the same time to explore each region.

"As the first ship in our fleet, Silver Cloud has a special place in Silversea's history, and we're delighted to reveal further details of her refurbishment. We look forward to welcoming guests aboard to experienceSilver Cloud's luxurious interiors as well as her incredible itineraries later this year," said Barbara Muckermann, Chief Marketing Officer at Silversea Cruises.

When Silver Cloud was launched in 1994 by Antonio Lefebvre, it set a new standard in luxury cruising. His son, Manfredi Lefebvre became chairman of Silversea in 2001 and has since expanded the fleet from four to eight vessels with a ninth currently under construction. The expansion has included the introduction of expedition cruising with the launch of Silver Explorer in 2008.

Silver Cloud will also have a team of up to 19 dedicated experts on hand to ensure guests leave with the best experiences from their voyages, whether they are the sights, the sounds, the history or the stories. Daily presentations and lectures by experts in the state-of-the-art theatre will also be streamed live to all suites.

For a copy of the Silver Cloud brochure or for more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit

Saturday, March 25, 2017

MSC Cruises new generational mega ship MSC Meraviglia

MSC Cruises introduces flexible dining options – starting with MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside

MSC Cruises, the world's largest privately-owned cruise line, revealed their new innovative dining concepts – available on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside.

Designed to meet the needs of today's cruise guests, the MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will introduce flexible dining options and packages. These can be booked at any time prior to embarkation and whilst on board, with the ability to change it at any time during their cruise. For Fantastica booked clients the flexi dining options gives them the chance to choose their dining time in the main restaurant and the opportunity throughout the cruise, to change this timing to suit their needs. Clients will be able to allocate a dining time to their Fantastica booking from 60 days prior to sailing through their Manage your Booking on the website or throughout their cruise onboard. For Bella cruisers the Classic cruise dining experience is still available, with a choice of two sittings each evening. This is popular with guests who prefer a dedicated table each night - with personalised service from the same waiter.

MSC Aurea clients continue to enjoy "My Choice Dining" in the main restaurant for complete freedom, whilst MSC Yacht Club guests enjoy their dedicated MSC Yacht Club restaurant with free-time dining, with the option of reserving a table in advance for ease.

Casual dining venues are available for all guests 20 hours-a-day. The MSC Cruises buffet has been enhanced with a range of international food experiences. MSC Seaside will feature two casual dining venues, one of which will feature family-friendly options and child-friendly seating.

Speciality restaurants gives guests opportunities to experience cuisines from around the world. MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will feature restaurants with innovative 'open kitchens' to experience chefs at work. Selected restaurants on MSC Meraviglia and MSC Seaside will also feature a Chef's Table deal
MSC Cruises will introduce a new Kaito Teppanyaki restaurant on board MSC Meraviglia to complement the ship's Kaito Sushi Bar. With a modern twist on Asian cuisine, guests can sit at cooking stations and watch chefs cooking at an open grill.

The Butcher's Cut, a new American Steakhouse restaurant concept, will celebrate the craft heritage of America. Guests can select steak from glass-fronted meat ageing fridges before chefs prepare fresh dishes in the open kitchen. The bold wine list features an appealing selection to complement the dishes. Cocktails are also inspired by American heritage, while guests can savour a wide range of craft beers.

MSC Seaside will also feature Ocean Cay a signature seafood restaurant. This will serve American-style fish dishes with a Mediterranean twist. Dishes will include Stone Crabs (a delicacy in the homeport of Miami), beautiful fresh Sea Bass (flown in from the Mediterranean) and homemade spaghetti alle vongole (with clams).

Asian Market Kitchen by Roy Yamaguchi will be a highlight on MSC Seaside. Three restaurants, created by the Japanese-American chef, will consist of: an à la carte restaurant serving gourmet Asian creations, a Sushi Bar and Teppanyaki Grill (each offering an authentic pan-Asian dining experience).

MSC Cruises is partnering with experts for dining experiences on new and existing ships. Roy Yamaguchi, world-renowned chef, is collaborating for the MSC Seaside. Chef Yamaguchi is involved in conceptualising and designing the new pan-Asian restaurant.

A long-standing partnership with Michelin chef Carlo Cracco will now encompass signature dishes for the main restaurant menus on MSC Meraviglia, including the Christmas and New Year menus.

Jean-Philippe Maury, French chocolatier and pastry chef, will bring sweet creations to the MSC Meraviglia. Jean-Philippe Chocolat & Café will feature an open chocolate atelier. Jean-Philippe Crêpes & Gelato will serve tasty treats at the ship's Mediterranean-style promenade.

MSC Cruises is introducing dining packages that can be booked prior to the cruise. Guests on-board the MSC Meraviglia can book a Dinner & Show Package for an exclusive table d'hôte menu and then experience a Cirque du Soleil at Sea performance in the purpose-built Carousel Lounge.
A special dining package Eataly Chef's Table will be available on the MSC Meraviglia, offering seven gourmet dishes cooked to perfection and all perfectly matched with seven wines. A package can be booked in advance to explore each of the speciality restaurants.

Find out about all of the new dining packages at:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Air Kiribati, Solomon Airlines sign agreement for new air links

Air Kiribati and Solomon Airlines have signed an agreement establishing a new aviation service linking Tarawa with Honiara, Brisbane and Nadi (Fiji).

The agreement holds even more significance for the Kiribati national carrier which recently relaunched as an international airline following a decision by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to provide the carrier with its official two letter designate code – IK.   

At an official signing taking place in Tarawa, the Kiribati Minister for Transport, Information, Communication, and Tourism Development, the Hon. Willie Tokataake heralded the signing as important both in its capacity to significantly boosts aviation access into Kiribati and also build on both countries' existing strong links.

"There is no doubt this new agreement will boost economic development opportunities and in particular tourism and export opportunities for Kiribati," the Minister said.

Welcoming the agreement, Solomon Airlines CEO, Brett Gerbers described the signing as an  important step for both airlines and would play a key role in forging an even closer relationship with Kiribati.

"Our partnership with Air Kiribati is an important one and we very much look forward to working together to see this become a success,

"This service is more than just a link between two nations – it is also an avenue for both nations to grow and prosper as we walk forward together."

Echoing Mr Gerber's words, Air Kiribati CEO, Tarataake Teannaki  aid his airline was excited to be working with an airline partner which understood the travel needs of both the Kiribati people and Air Kiribati.

"This service will be a major step up and will give the Kiribati people new options to travel beyond our islands," Mr Teannaki said.

Service start date and the service schedules will be announced in coming weeks with an official launch to be held in Tarawa. 

The development builds on an agreement signed last November for a new Air Service Agreement (ASA) and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Solomon Islands and Republic of Kiribati.

Aimed at promoting aviation between the two countries as one sector, the MOU is already showing development on a raft of activities intended to contribute to both countries' social and economic development.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Europe Holidays: A new choice for consumers

Consumers have a new choice for European travel, with the launch of Europe Holidays, a convenient reservations platform that gives travellers easy access to hundreds of escorted tours, cruises and island hopping packages, supported by an expert team 24/7.

Part of Magic Tours International Group, an Australian family owned company with 25 years' experience, which encompasses Select World Travel & Cruise and, Europe Holidays offers meticulously curated itineraries throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East.

Managing Director, Chip Popescu, explains the inspiration for the company.

"We have brought together our passion for Europe, our vast real world experience gained through Select World Travel and our online expertise of, to create the perfect combination that allows consumers the flexibility to book when and where they want, supported by the expertise and destination insights that only a true travel professional can provide," says Popescu.

"Europe Holidays really brings together the best of both worlds – online and offline – for the benefit of our travellers."

The company's signature tours include a 9-day Dalmatian Sunshine itinerary, which has an emphasis on the architectural and historical charms of Croatia, visiting Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice Lakes, Postojna Cave, Bled, Ljubljana and Zagreb, and an 8-day Venice, Florence and Rome tour that encapsulates the renaissance splendour of the Tuscan capital, Florence, and the region's stunning panorama. It also specialises in Island Hopping arrangements in Croatia, Greece and Spain.

"Our tours provide a balance of expert escorted guidance and free time, providing flexibility to ensure our passengers see the highlights, but can also explore their own interests while travelling through some of Europe's most incredible cities."

To celebrate the company's launch, a competition is offering consumers the chance to win a Cannes & Monte Carlo Film Festival and F1 experience. The $10,000 value prize includes return economy flights for two to Nice, four nights on the French Riviera, the chance to go star spotting in Cannes, tickets to the 2018 Monaco F1 Grand Prix, a Michelin Star meal and a personalised itinerary.

Competition entry is via

Europe Holidays is headquartered in Queensland, and is IATA and ATAS accredited.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Kokoda 75th Anniversary Tour without Trekking

Until now, the only way to explore the battlefields of the Kokoda Campaign has been on a gruelling 10-day trek, a challenge that tests the fitness and spirit of all Australians who attempt it. But now, thanks to an innovative new tour designed by historian Mat McLachlan, travellers can visit key sites from this pivotal WWII campaign without the blisters and bruises of a Kokoda trek.

The Kokoda 75th Anniversary Tour -- Without Trekking, is a unique opportunity to visit the hallowed ground of the Kokoda Track with ease and in comfort -- without the need to pull on the hiking boots! This is the perfect opportunity to pay your respects to the 2000 Australians who were killed or wounded in this bloody campaign, and to walk in the footsteps of a relative who fought in one of the most famous Australian battles of all time.

Beginning in Port Moresby, the tour visits key WWII sites by air-conditioned vehicle, including Bomana War Cemetery, the largest Australian military cemetery in the world, and Ower's Corner, which marks the beginning of the Kokoda Track. From there the tour will fly by chartered plane to the village of Kokoda, enjoying magnificent views of the Kokoda Track en-route. At Kokoda the group will explore the scenes of some of the toughest fights of the Kokoda Campaign, and commemorate the 75th anniversary of the recapture of Kokoda by Australian troops with a flag-raising ceremony. The tour then visits the villages of Buna, Gona and Sanananda, scenes of heavy fighting during the Beachhead battles, which marked the end of the Kokoda Campaign.

"We are delighted to offer our clients the chance to visit the Kokoda battlefields without trekking, and to see these iconic sites which, until now, have been virtually inaccessible for most Australians," said Mat McLachlan, founder of Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours.

The Kokoda 75th Anniversary Tour -- Without Trekking, begins in Port Moresby on Oct 31, 2017, and runs for 7 days. Cost is AU$4397 per person (twin share, land only), and includes all accommodation, transport, guiding services by expert war historian and most meals.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Mat McLachlan, visit, or contact the team at or phone 1300-880-340.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Norfolk Island Country Music Festival 2017

Top Australian and New Zealand artists will once again be drawn together for the annual Norfolk Island Country Music Festival which is happening from 15 – 19 May.

The Festival this year celebrates 25 years of honouring new and established talent from both sides of the Tasman during the week-long line-up of activities at this popular short-haul holiday destination.

Headlining the Festival from Australia will be Shane Nicholson, who first made waves with rock band, Pretty Violet Stain, before releasing his debut solo album, It's a Movie in 2002. Shane has gone on to explore everything from folk to country music, picking up eight Golden Guitars, two APRA awards and two ARIA awards along the way.

Jody Direen will be the headline act from New Zealand showcasing her amazing vocal talent, gifted song writing skills and powerful stage presence. Jody's popularity has crossed international borders leading her on an epic journey to Nashville, Tennessee – and now Norfolk Island.

Also appearing from Australia are songwriter and former McAlister Kemp mainstay, Drew McAlister and country music duo, Warren H Williams and Dani Young, whose album Desert Water debuted at #2 on the ARIA Country Albums Chart and lead single, Two Ships, spent six weeks at #1 on Tamworth Country Radio.

From New Zealand, Midnite Special featuring Michelle Lightband, Lex Greaves and Rob Katipa Jnr, will be on board, along with Kelvin Cummings, New Zealand Gold Guitar winner and Trans-Tasman Entertainer of the Year at last year's Festival.

The Norfolk Island Travel Centre has announced a special 7-night Norfolk Island Country Music Festival package which includes a bonus Norfolk Island discount shopping card with free gift (valued at $40) and the following:

· 7 nights' accommodation
· Return economy class 'seat plus bag' Air New Zealand airfare to Norfolk Island
· All pre-paid airline taxes
· Arrival meet and greet at island airport
· Return airport transfers on-island
· 7 days' car hire (petrol additional and payable direct)
· Half-day island tour
· Miniature golf
· 'A Walk in the Wild' rainforest walk

This package is priced from $1199 per person twin share ex-Sydney for travel 12 - 19 May 2017 and from $1169 per person twin share ex-Brisbane for travel 16 - 23 May 2017.

Platinum and gold passes to the Festival events are available at a cost of $545 and $380 respectively for travel 12-19 May 2017 or $410 and $325 respectively for travel 16-23 May 2017.

For bookings, contact Christan Davies at Norfolk Island Travel Centre on
Toll Free 1800 1400 66 or or and quote Booking Code CM17.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Raging Thunder launches Cairns Hot-Air Balloon Co

Raging Thunder Adventures has rebranded its ballooning experience as Cairns Hot-Air Balloon Co to tap into the growing number of international travellers booking directly online.

Skydive the Beach Director Anthony Boucat, whose Wollongong-based ASX company purchased Raging Thunder Adventures in October 2016, said Cairns Hot-Air Balloon Co would continue to deliver the incredible experience of floating over Mareeba and its farmlands at dawn.

"The number of independent travellers wanting to go ballooning is growing, and research shows our new brand will perform better in the digital market as well as aligning with the international destination marketing of Cairns & Great Barrier Reef," he said.

"Raging Thunder Adventures has a proud history in Mareeba having pioneered ballooning in the Mareeba Valley in 1993, taking around 16,000 people a year safely on the surreal experience of floating in a basket.

"We currently have 14 staff based in Mareeba, including our Chief Pilot Steve Hawke, who has been flying for Raging Thunder for 24 years."

Mr Hawke said Mareeba was highly regarded as one of the best places in the world for reliable ballooning weather.

"Mareeba locals claim they enjoy more than 300 sunny days a year, and the Valley has calm early morning conditions so we can fly year-round," he said.

"Our guests watch the glow of the hot air balloons being inflated in the dark, and they slowly ascend as high as 4,500 feet above sea level as the sun rises and the twinkling lights of Mareeba go out.

"Every flight is different, whether it is the colour of the sunrise, the opportunity to float among clouds, or a bird's-eye view of wallabies grazing alongside neatly ploughed paddocks."

Mr Hawke and his family have a long history of employment with Raging Thunder, including his brother Dave, who has been a pilot with the company for 14 years.

"We train our pilots in-house, which gives our local employees a career path. Just last year, Leif Inglis, who has worked with Raging Thunder for more than 15 years, graduated as a commercial balloon pilot," he said.

"Raging Thunder has made a valuable contribution to the community over the past 24 years by providing employment, using local suppliers where possible, and supporting a range of local charities, schools and fundraisers."

For more information and to book, go to 

Caption: Cairns Hot-Air Balloon Co Chief Pilot Steve Hawke has been flying visitors over the Mareeba Valley for 24 years. 

Queensland's Mary Valley historic ‘Rattler’ to get back on the rails

The lush farmlands of the Mary Valley will once again resound to the rhythmic chug of steam trains following the Queensland Government's announcement of a major grant to help get the historic Mary Valley 'Rattler' back on the rails.

The Rattler was thrown a lifeline when the Queensland Government announced the Mary Valley Rattler Project as a successful project for the Palaszczuk Government's Works for Queensland funding.

The $4 million grant is aimed at reviving the popular tourism attraction, which stopped services in 2012, due to the need for significant investment in upgrading the line. A further funding commitment of $600,000 was announced for the construction of a River to Rail recreation train on the Mary River including construction of pathways, viewing decks and signage.

The historic 40 km Mary Valley journey commences at Gympie, and after crossing the Mary River, negotiates an abundance of curves, gradients and bridges to pass through the small country villages of Dagun, Amamoor and Kandanga to Imbil. The railway line and Gympie station date back to pre-1880,

Gympie Regional Council Mayor Mick Curran said in response to the announcement: "In the immortal word of Johnny Cash 'I hear the train a coming'...and it's a sweet sound.

"We have been working closely with the Queensland Government and the Rattler Rail Company Board to get this project on track and we are delighted, as I know the community will be, with the announcement."

"Stage one of the project will include getting the Mary Valley Rattler up and running and commercially successful from Gympie to Amamoor and vice versa. We will then explore the feasibility of the train continuing to Imbil for stage two," said Mayor Curran.

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said that the funding commitment would help put the Sunshine Coast's Mary Valley back on the tourism map.

"This is one of the most beautiful parts of Queensland, with rich landscapes, outstanding food producers and historic towns, and having a tourist drawcard such as the 'Rattler' will provide major tourism impetus for the area," said Mr Latchford.

"The aim of the project is to give people easier and better access to the region, which offers so many ecologically rich experiences. It will help reconnect people to a hidden gem".

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