Search All Traveloscopy Sites

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hawaiian Revolutionizing Check-In Process at Honolulu

HONOLULU – In what Hawaiian Airlines is calling one of its most significant customer-oriented initiatives to date, the company is completely redesigning its ticket lobbies at Honolulu International Airport, a move that will revolutionize the speed and convenience of its check-in process. 

Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's president and CEO, commented, "Hawaiian is bringing a dramatic transformation to the check-in process at our Honolulu hub that Hawaii's residents and visitors alike will find to be a faster, easier and superior experience. We have made it a priority to provide a standard of service that leads the airline industry and this new lobby design is a quantum leap forward from the traditional check-in process that travelers are used to." 

The redesigned lobby will be striking in appearance and the results will be immediate in reducing wait times for customers – especially during peak traffic periods. Hawaiian is removing its traditional ticket counter lobby configuration at Honolulu International Airport and replacing it with six circular, check-in "islands" in the middle of Hawaiian's two check-in lobbies in Terminal 2 at the airport, four in Lobby 2 and two in Lobby 3. 

Each check-in island features eight, agent-assisted, self-service check-in stations that can be used to check in for any scheduled interisland, mainland or international flight on Hawaiian. 

The innovative, free-flowing floor plan eliminates one of three check-in steps and also removes the limitation of having designated queues for various destinations, meaning customers entering the lobby will be able to go to any of the new 48 self-service check-in stations that are available, cutting peak period wait times by up to 75 percent. 

Each check-in station will be equipped with state-of-the art technology that allows customers to complete the check-in process for their flight, including the weighing of luggage, payment of any fees for upgrades and other services, and printing of destination luggage tags with assistance from Hawaiian's customer service agents. 

Customers will then place their checked luggage onto a single conveyor belt for inline U.S.

Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection, TSA screening and loading onto their flight.  

This new process will eliminate the current requirement to have luggage being checked to destinations outside Hawaii pre-screened by USDA before starting the check-in process. 

Hawaiian's new lobby design also provides designated service areas that will give customers a place to re-pack their luggage and carry-on items if necessary, or to receive additional assistance from Hawaiian's customer service agents. 

With the removal of the existing ticket counters, Hawaiian's customers will have more control over their check-in process, and its customer service agents will be free to move about the lobbies and provide more personal assistance alongside customers checking in for their flights. 

The new design is the result of two years of industry research and motion studies conducted by Hawaiian to find a solution to long lines and bottlenecks during busy periods and speed up the check-in process. 

Hawaiian expects to complete the $6-million self-funded transformation of both lobbies in June.

Lord Howe Island Tops Australian Traveller List of Things to Do Before You Die

New South Wales has once again proven to be Australia's most popular tourist destination with Australian Traveller Magazine naming Lord Howe Island as the number one place to visit before you die, the tiny island off the coast of Port Macquarie topping a list of 100 'must see' Australian destinations. 

"This is fabulous news and a glowing recommendation from one of Australia's top travel magazines, proving NSW continues to impress even the most experienced travellers," said Tourism NSW Executive Director Lyndel Gray. 

Ms Gray said the list of 'Top 100 Things To Do In Australia Before You Die', was decided on by a panel of high profile judges including Getaway reporter Catriona Rowntree, Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, Today presenter Lisa Wilkinson, legendary journalist George Negus, travel industry pioneer Bill Peach, Australian icon and entrepreneur Dick Smith, Budget Car Rental founder Bob Ansett,  TV chef Maggie Beer, the Blue Wiggle Anthony Field, and Australian Traveller's Editor, Elisabeth Knowles. 

"The list was chosen out of 800 nominations from readers, so for Lord Howe Island to have won top spot is an incredible accomplishment," said Ms Gray. 

"Tourism NSW actively works with Lord Howe Island Tourism Association to promote travel to the Island, providing funding and marketing support for promotional campaigns every year under the NSW Government's Regional Partnership Funding Program. 

"This weekend a new $250,000 joint tourism campaign between Tourism NSW, Lord Howe Island Tourism Association, Qantaslink and wholesalers will begin promoting holiday packages for the winter season, targeting mid-life singles and couples from Sydney, South East Queensland and Melbourne. 

"A range of experiences will be on offer such as nature activities like bushwalking, scuba diving, bird watching and a trek to the captivating Mount Gower. 

"Luxury and indulgence will also be an overlying theme with special packages offered by Lord Howe Island's two luxury resorts, Arajilla Retreat and Capella Lodge. 

"Both of these resorts are regularly featured in travel magazines and Capella Lodge was recently named on the international Gold List of luxury retreats by Conde Nast Traveller U.K," Ms Gray said. 

"I'm also excited to announce that both Capella and Arajilla will be showcasing their products, along with Lord Howe Island Tourism Association, at the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) which begins this weekend at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre. 

"ATE is Australia's premier annual tourism event, organised to promote the best of Australian tourism to the international travel and tourism trade. 

"The event is the largest international travel trade show of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the Sydney event will be the biggest yet, putting a global spotlight on Sydney and NSW with 85 different companies displaying their tourism destinations and attractions to more than 800 international travel wholesalers from 40 different countries. 

"Lord Howe Island's presence at ATE, along with a Tourism NSW hosted familiarisation trip to the Island this weekend for 10 international travel wholesalers and three international travel writers, will go a long way towards promoting the Island's unique beauty and attractiveness as a holiday destination around the world." 

Ms Gray said Tourism NSW was committed to promoting Sydney and regional NSW destinations both domestically and internationally. 

Time Fast Approaching for Emirates' Geneva Launch

Guests at the Emirates Road Show event at Geneva Palexpo next to the life-sized replica of the airline's A380 Onboard Shower Spa. More than 600 guests attended the event, promoting the launch of passenger services between Dubai and Geneva on 1st June. Also on display at last night's function were an Emirates' A380 First Class Private Suite and Onboard Lounge.
Richard Vaughan, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Worldwide, on stage with cabin crew during the Emirates' Road Show event at Geneva Palexpo last night. The airline will launch a daily flight to Geneva from 1st June.
Food from across the world at Emirates' Road Show event at Geneva Palexpo last night, ahead of the launch of the airline's Dubai-Geneva service from 1st June.
Emirates has given a new meaning to the expression 'Time flies' with its plans to launch flights to the "birthplace of watch making" - now just eight weeks away.

Geneva will be added to the airline's European route network from 1st June. Last night, more than 600 guests from the travel industry and the city's wider business community attended a high profile road show event in Geneva as an introduction to the airline and its home of Dubai.

For many, it provided an opportunity to get close up to the airline's flagship A380 aircraft, which has already carried more than 4 million Emirates passengers around the world.

A First Class Private Suite was also on show at the city's Palexpo for guests to sink into, as were life-size replicas of the Onboard Shower Spa and Onboard Lounge.

The Dubai-Geneva service will be operated by a combination of Boeing 777-200LR and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The aircraft will be arranged in a three-class configuration, offering First Class Private Suites, lie-flat seats in Business Class, and a spacious cabin in Economy Class.

Throughout all cabin classes, passengers can enjoy the latest version of the airline's much admired ice in-flight entertainment system. It offers a staggering array of over 1,200 channels, making time fly like never before whilst at 40,000 feet.

Geneva is sometimes referred to as the "birthplace of watch making" as the industry dates to the mid 16th century in the city. Even in 1790, Geneva was exporting more than 60,000 watches a year. In 2010, Swiss watch manufacturers exported more than 26 million finished watches, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

The luxury sector, including watch making, is amongst the top three employers in the Geneva region, representing 60% of its exports.

Each Emirates' 777 aircraft serving Geneva will have 15-20 tonnes of cargo capacity - space for plenty of luxury watches, along with high-end fashion goods, diplomatic cargo, relief shipments for the International Red Cross, pharmaceutical products and electronics.

"Geneva is our second gateway into Switzerland after Zurich. We see strong demand for both leisure and business travel, bearing in mind the presence of hundreds of international organisations and Geneva's status as a major financial centre," said Richard Vaughan, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations Worldwide.

"We're just eight weeks out from the launch and last night's road show event helps drive awareness throughout the travel trade about the new flights and the additional cargo capacity they offer in and out of Switzerland," Mr Vaughan added.

As with Zurich, passengers flying Emirates from Geneva can travel non-stop to Dubai, where they are able to connect to an impressive network of destinations throughout the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, Africa, the Far East and Australasia.

Starting 1st June 2011, EK 089 will leave Dubai daily at 0855hrs and arrive in Geneva at 1345hrs. From Geneva, EK 090 departs at 1515hrs, arriving in Dubai at 2330hrs.

Geneva will become the airline's 26th destination in Europe and 112th point globally. On 1st August, Emirates launches flights to Copenhagen, its first passenger service into Scandinavia.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong - World's tallest hotel opens

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong has finally opened and dominates the skyline as the world’s highest hotel.

Located at the very top of the International Commerce Centre (ICC) in Hong Kong, occupying floors 102 to 118, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is the newest addition to the brand’s growing global portfolio of 75 luxury properties and its 16th hotel in Asia.

“The opening of this landmark hotel in Hong Kong is the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication to delivering the very best product, facilities and service in this international gateway city,” said Herve Humler, president and chief operations officer of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.

“Partnering with Hong Kong’s premier developer, Sung Hung Kai Properties, we have been able to create something truly spectacular to welcome our guests not just to the highest hotel in the world, but also to one of the very best hotels in the world. We are taking luxury to new heights in every sense.”

The stylish and contemporary interiors by Singapore’s LTW set the scene for this thoroughly modern hotel set in the heart of Hong Kong. The sense of arrival is breathtaking with views of Victoria Harbour and the iconic Hong Kong skyline as the backdrop. Guests will be welcomed into the arrival lobby on the 9th floor before being transported up to the hotel lobby on the 103rd floor where panoramic views over Hong Kong await them.

The hotel’s 312 guest rooms all offer spectacular city and harbour views. Starting at 50sqm for a Deluxe Room, and reaching 365sqm for the magnificent Ritz-Carlton Suite, rooms provide state-of-the-art technology including WiFi, iPod docking stations, blu-ray DVD players and flat screen TVs. In addition, Club room guests can enjoy the panoramic view from the Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge with complimentary food and beverage presentations 24 hours a day. The Club also gives guests access to a dedicated Club Concierge, work stations, meeting rooms and WiFi throughout.

In a move that perfectly articulates the brand’s shift in design philosophy and service evolution, the hotel’s six dining venues have been created by some of the biggest names in restaurant design, including Japan’s Spin Design Studio and Wonderwall. The hotel offers three restaurants on the 102nd floor, including Tin Lung Heen, which is a Chinese restaurant serving refined Cantonese cuisine. Tosca, an Italian restaurant which offers Southern Italian cuisine with an open kitchen and the very stylish The Lounge and Bar which features stunning crystal fire pits. In addition, there is a chocolate-themed lounge named The Chocolate Library on the 103rd floor and a stylish patisserie named Pastry Gems located on the 9th floor.

Perhaps the jewel in the crown is Ozone located on the hotel’s 118th floor. This sleek, stylish and contemporary restaurant and bar will set a new benchmark for Hong Kong’s social and dining scene. Offering contemporary Asian tapas, signature cocktails and a stylish wine list, Ozone has bar and restaurant seating in zoned sections and the world’s highest al fresco terrace where guests can indulge in the incredible views over the city.

For those wishing to relax and indulge, The Ritz-Carlton Spa by ESPA is the ultimate in urban spa sanctuary experiences. Located on the 116th floor and featuring nine deluxe treatment rooms and two couple’s suites all with floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views, the spa will appeal to both residential guests and Hong Kong citizens alike and offer a true escape from the city some 490 meters below. A world-class team of professional therapists will ensure a spa experience like no other. The hotel also features a fully equipped fitness centre and an indoor infinity pool overlooking the Victoria Harbour on the 118th floor with a 28m x 7m LED screen on the ceiling that can display images and videos.

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong has one of the largest ballrooms in the city at 930sqm. Elaborately decorated with a sea of crystal chandeliers, the décor of the Diamond Ballroom is suited to weddings, meetings and gala events. Complemented by an additional four meeting rooms, the total of 1,300sqm of meeting space is set to become the new social centre for Hong Kong and the benchmark for events in the region.

In the podium of the ICC, the one million square foot Elements shopping mall offers some of the finest shopping in Hong Kong with luxury brand names featured throughout this world-class location. The ICC will also host an Observation Deck, Sky100 on the 100th floor and offer direct connections to Hong Kong International Airport in 20 minutes and Central in five minutes. The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is strategically located at the heart of the city and will become a must-see tourist attraction now that it has opened.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Exhausted stranded travellers wait for news at Tokyo railway station during recent quake.

The recent string of natural disasters in Queensland, New Zealand and Japan are making travellers increasingly nervous about their safety overseas, according to the results of an independently
commissioned national survey of 1,000 travellers conducted by

Earthquakes, tsunamis and floods are top of traveller’s minds with one in three (33%) saying they are rethinking or changing their travel plans for 2011.

Although the survey reveals travellers are more aware of the potential risks of a natural disaster striking, (62%) admit they do not properly prepare themselves for a potential crisis in advance of travelling.

One in ten travellers surveyed said they’ve personally experienced a natural disaster whilst travelling.

“Few of us give thought to what we’d do if a worst case scenario became a reality when we’re travelling, but a fun, relaxing holiday can turn into panic and chaos in a matter of seconds should disaster strike,” says Braden Yuill, Managing Director of “A small amount of preparation before you travel will lessen the stress in an emergency.”

Here are some planning tips to help travellers pull through a catastrophe should one occur.

1. Research potential dangers at your destination in advance. Check the news in the area you are travelling. Check out which advises travellers of potential hotspots around the world.

2. Make sure you know the refund policies of ravel agencies, airlines and hotels if you get stranded.

3. Check that your travel insurance covers natural disasters.

4. Register with Australian embassy and know where it is located.

5. Leave your contact details with families and friends and inform them on your travel plans.

6. Know your emergency numbers and the international dialing code. Make sure global roaming has been set on your phone.

7. Keep a copy of your personal info (passport, credit card numbers, etc) on your phone, your PDA or somewhere safe.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Westin Hotels Accelerates Growth In China With The Opening Of Its First Hotel In Nanjing

The Westin Nanjing also Marks Starwood's Debut in the bustling Capital of Jiangsu Province

Lengthening its lead as the largest five-star hotel operator in China, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) announces its landmark debut in Nanjing, China with the opening of The Westin Nanjing. The first Westin to open in the bustling capital city of Jiangsu Province, The Westin Nanjing boasts an ideal location at the top of the Nanjing International Center.

With the addition of The Westin Nanjing, Westin now operates 11 hotels in China and is set to double its footprint in this key global market in the next two years. The rapid expansion of the Westin brand is helping to drive Starwood's growth in China, where Starwood plans to increase its portfolio from 70 to more than 114 hotels by the end of 2012.

"The Westin Nanjing is a terrific addition to our fast growing portfolio in China, giving us a foothold in one of the country's most vital economic and cultural centers," said Nancy London, Vice President and global leader for Westin Hotels. "Fueled by the success of its distinctive wellness positioning, Westin is well on its way to establishing itself as an international market leader with unprecedented opportunities for growth in the world's most rapidly developing economies."

Overlooking Xuanwu Lake, The Westin Nanjing is located in the Hunan Road central business district in the heart of downtown Nanjing. The hotel provides direct access to Nanjing's leading businesses, entertainment and shopping and is close to the Xuanwu Lake subway station and the Nanjing Train station. Nanjing Hall of City Planning & Construction Exhibition is just five minutes away.

"We are very excited to introduce the Westin brand to Jiangsu Province and expect the hotel to contribute to the increasing importance of Nanjing as a tourism and business destination," said Mr. Richard Deutl, General Manager of The Westin Nanjing. "Known for its stellar global reputation and emphasis on wellbeing, The Westin brand is an ideal choice for the dynamic city of Nanjing and will undoubtedly emerge as a top choice among business travelers."

The soothing Westin Sensory Welcome creates a memorable first impression as guests enter the hotel, with its blend of signature white tea scent, music, botanicals and mood lighting. Guests at The Westin Nanjing will awaken their senses with the Westin Heavenly Bath® experience and restore in the Heavenly Bed®, a 10-layer ensemble of luxurious comfort featuring a pillow-top mattress set, a cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets, a comforter, duvet and five plush pillows. Rooms also feature 42" LCD HDTV, high-speed Internet access, mp3 docking station, and an ergonomic work space to offer travelers convenience and productivity in a tranquil setting.

The Westin Nanjing features three restaurants and lounges headed by renowned executive chef Ricky Yin, including Seasonal Tastes on the 23rd floor with an open kitchen, full-length windows and magnificent sunrise views of Xuanwu Lake, and the Five Zen5es - a favorite among locals and tourists alike for its authentic Huaiyang cuisine and sleek design.

Ideal for both business functions and social events, The Westin Nanjing provides more than 10,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space including a 5,700 square-foot grand ballroom overlooking the lake. Additional amenities include a full-service business center, indoor, heated swimming pool and WestinWORKOUT® gym with the latest in cardio equipment and weights.

About Westin Hotels & Resorts

Westin Hotels & Resorts makes the healthiest choices irresistibly appealing, so guests leave feeling better than when they arrived. With over 170 hotels and resorts in over 36 countries and territories, Westin is owned by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. Starwood Hotels is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1025 properties in nearly 100 countries and territories with 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit

Great opening offers at this and other great new hotels can be found at

Paper Play With Jessica Dance At Huvafen Fushi

Per AQUUM's Creative Marketing Award winner at the 2010 Graduate Fashion Week in London, Jessica Dance will be flown in to its flagship retreat, Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives this April 20th - 24th, 2011 as part of its 5th Anniversary celebration of the Dream Calendar and to add to the festivities of Easter for a five day workshop. Jessica will be sharing her techniques of working with paper and luxury fabrics to create intricate and whimsical pieces of art with guests at the retreat twice a day.

Highlighting our commitment to the future of fashion, Jessica's collections include a range of handmade accessories that are based on her overactive imagination and love for animals. Jessica draws inspiration from hibernating animals and translates this into her own magical creatures. Jessica's Couture Creatures are reminiscent of childhood toys that have been introduced into new realms by using luxury fabrics and couture processes, resulting in a truly unique jewellery collection. Jessica is also part of a multidisciplinary creative duo with Robert Francis Muller, going under the name of 'Get Müllerd & Dance'. They create extraordinary three dimensional installations; combining their backgrounds in Graphics and Fashion they produce truly unique scenes.

Neil Palmer CEO, Per AQUUM commented, "The core philosophy and values of Per AQUUM are Passion, Imagination, Naturally Modern and Vision; we want these qualities to be reflected in all our Dream Calendar icons and we certainly found this in the innovative collection of Jessica Dance. This also illustrates our commitment to working with leading personalities within the creative sphere." Per AQUUM will be supporting Graduate Fashion Week again this year with sponsorship of the Per AQUUM Creative Marketing Award, held from 5th - 8th June, 2011 at Earls Court 2 in the UK.

Per AQUUM is renowned as a dynamic and cutting edge company that created the stylish, design-led retreats, Huvafen Fushi Maldives and Desert Palm Dubai. Home to the world's first underwater spa and the innovative Dream Calendar concept, Huvafen Fushi has established itself as one of the coolest properties in the Maldives hosting some of the world's best in art, cuisine, music and wellbeing, while Desert Palm captures the imagination through its peaceful Arabian avant-garde setting on a private polo estate.

For reservations, please email or call +960 6644 222.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kiwi Collection Welcomes Jean Marie Healy as New Chief Marketing Officer

Kiwi Collection is proud to announce that Jean Marie Healy, a former Vice President of Marketing with American Express, has joined Kiwi Collection as Chief Marketing Officer. Jean Marie's 10 plus years of senior level experience, combined with her familiarity with luxury programs will be a great asset to both Kiwi Collection and the Visa Luxury Hotel program (powered by Kiwi Collection).

During her career at American Express, Jean Marie played a key role expanding the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. She has an excellent track record in managing over 100 partnerships, and delivering profitable business growth across major markets in North America, Europe, and Asia. Additionally, Jean Marie is well versed in the implementation of marketing strategy (both traditional and online) focused on increasing customer acquisition and brand loyalty.

In her new London-based role as Chief Marketing Officer, Jean Marie will be responsible for Marketing, PR/Communications, the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection and other strategic partnerships.

WTM 2010 To Lead To £1,425 Million Of Travel Industry Deals

World Travel Market 2010, the leading global event for the travel industry, generated a massive £1,425 million in travel and tourism industry deals - an impressive 25% increase on WTM 2009.

Independent research of World Travel Market's exhibitors and Meridian Club members shows WTM will generate £1,424,844 million of deals, either through contracts signed at the event or from negotiations at WTM 2010 which will lead to deals before WTM 2011.

WTM 2009 generated £1,139 million in business deals, either on the exhibition floor or in the following 12 months.

The increase in business can, in part, be attributed to the expanded Speed Networking session on the first day of WTM, giving exhibitors and Meridian Club members the remaining three days of the event to continue negotiations and agree deals.

The impressive scale of business conducted at WTM led to 96% of exhibitors stating WTM is important to their business.

Exhibitor satisfaction rose to 94% with 66% either completely or very satisfied, compared to 59% in 2009. Visitor satisfaction of WTM stood at an impressive 93%.

More than seven out of ten exhibitors (71%) said WTM is the best or better than most events compared to 67% in 2009 and 65% in 2008.

Furthermore, an impressive 96% of exhibitors are extremely or very likely to exhibit at WTM 2011 with a massive 98% of visitors extremely or very likely to attend this year's event, which takes between 7 -10 November.

World Travel Market Exhibition Director Simon Press said: "World Travel Market 2010 has seen, and will lead to, a phenomenal amount of travel and tourism industry business being agreed.

"The expanded Speed Networking programme played an important role in the success of WTM for both exhibitors and Meridian Club members, offering both stakeholders increased opportunities to meet new contacts and sign contracts."

"The amount of business conducted and the findings from the exhibitor and visitor research shows WTM is delivering on its commitment to facilitate business in the travel and tourism industry."

Fusion Communications interviewed 449 exhibitors and 1,356 visitors.

Dallas And The State Of Texas Delegation To Visit Australia The Week Of March 21st

Qantas to establish nonstop service to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

Dallas/State of Texas Delegation to Visit Australia week of March 21

The United States is currently welcoming a record-breaking number of visitors, and the State of Texas, and particularly the city of Dallas, has identified Australia as a market with high growth potential.

Qantas Airways Ltd. will begin nonstop service from Sydney to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) with four flights per week beginning 16 May 2011. The carrier is the first to establish nonstop passenger connection from North Texas to Australia, providing a new gateway to the United States for Australians and unprecedented access to Australia and the South Pacific for Texans.

In anticipation of this new, valuable partnership, a delegation of Texas travel luminaries will visit Australia and participate in media and travel trade events the week of 21 March 2011. Included are senior leadership from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the State of Texas.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is the world's third busiest, offering nearly 1,750 flights per day and serving 57 million passengers per year. It provides non-stop service to 144 domestic and 44 international destinations worldwide.

Dallas, the No. 1 visitor destination in Texas, is a richly diverse city with the largest urban arts district in the U.S., countless luxury accommodations, the best shopping in the Southwest, a culinary scene led by four- and five-star/diamond restaurants and celebrity chefs, and 13 vibrant and distinctly different entertainment districts. Visitors enjoy its mild climate and central geographic location - Dallas is within a four hour flight to most major North American cities.

From rich Western heritage, arts and culture, and family fun, to outdoor adventure and delicious cuisine, the State of Texas truly caters to every kind of traveler.

HSMAI is Chartered in Australia

Bob Gilbert, CEO and President of HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International) presented the chapter charter to HSMAI Australia in Sydney. Arriving in Australia during a visit to the Asia Pacific Region, Sydney was the first stopover of a trip to visit three new HSMAI chapters in the Region.

HSMAI is the leading industry source for knowledge, community and recognition for leaders committed to professional development, sales growth, revenue optimization, marketing and branding. It is the largest and most active travel, tourism and hospitality marketing association in the world. With a mission to grow the business at hotels and their partners through sales, marketing and revenue optimization, HSMAI's vision is to be the industry's leading partner and advocate for intelligent, sustainable total hotel revenue management. The association is focused on the professional development of the members and the business development of the hotel properties for who they work.

Following a meeting with the chapter leaders, Bob Gilbert presented the Australia Chapter Charter to Jackie Douglas, Online Marketing for Qantas, who is the President of the HSMAI Australia Chapter. The chapter leaders in Australia include Lynne Ireland of Preferred Hotels, Amanda Cottome of Hotel Urban St Leonards, Alistair Shackman of Hostec, Benjamin Weinmann of Lido, Grahame Tate of IDeaS and Erik Munoz of Softbrands. They will lead the chapter to develop programmes for members which will include some training workshop for sales, marketing and revenue management, plus a hospitality industry conference later in the year.

"It is wonderful to have a chapter of HSMAI chartered in Australia", said Bernadette Dennis, Managing Director of HSMAI Asia Pacific. "It is going to be an exciting year for HSMAI and the chapter's leadership team has developed some wonderful programmes for members that will fuel sales, inspire marketing and optimize revenue".

The Sebel Albert Park Melbourne named Best Meeting Venue over 500 Delegates

The Sebel Albert Park Melbourne has been named Victoria's "Best Meeting Venue over 500 Delegates" at the Meetings and Events (MEA) Industry Awards.

The MEA Awards recognise excellent business practice in the Meetings and Events Industry. They encourage industry professionals to excel in the achievement of their business and personal goals, and reward those who achieve outstanding results.

The category for "Best Meeting Venue over 500 Delegates" covers hotels and meetings venues, including purpose-built Convention Centres without accommodation.

Accepting the award, The Sebel Albert Park Melbourne's Director of Sales - Conferences and Events, Keren Southgate could barely contain her excitement as she paid tribute, on behalf of General Manager Craig Bond, to everyone who had contributed to the hotel's win.

"We all know that to be successful, a world-class meeting venue and hotel needs a dedicated, professional team willing to go that extra mile for their clients and I am proud to say that we have that team," said Keren. "In fact they're the A-Team"!

"From the food and beverage and kitchen brigade, to our entire conference and events team including technical services, everyone is passionate about their work and are fully committed to ensure that each and every event we hold is a winner," she said.

"The hotel has been on an amazing journey over the past few years and to be recognised by the industry as the best venue in Victoria for conferencing and events catering to over 500 delegates, has definitely made the journey worthwhile," said Keren.

As host of the gala evening as well as award recipient, the hotel's conference and events team showed guests their winning style with a flawless event that showcased their great event spaces, as well as fantastic food and beverage and a slick technical presentation - all the ingredients for a great awards night.

The Sebel & Cititgate Albert Park Melbourne will join winners from other States and Territories for the MEA National Awards to be held in Brisbane on Tuesday 19 April 2011.

The Sebel & Citigate Albert Park Melbourne is part of the Mirvac group of 45+ hotels and resorts in Australia and New Zealand under such well known brands as Quay Grand, The Como, Quay West Apartments & Resorts, Sea Temple Resorts & Spas, Sydney Marriott Hotel, Citigate Hotels, the Hotel Lindrum, Harbour Rocks Hotel, Q Stations and of course The Sebel Hotels, Resorts and Residences.

United Continental Holdings Partners with American Red Cross to Support Relief Efforts in Japan


United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:UAL) today announced that it will support the American Red Cross efforts to provide aid to those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Beginning today, United and Continental will provide a one-time mileage bonus to members of Mileage Plus and OnePass who contribute to American Red Cross. Members who give a minimum of $50 will receive 250 bonus miles and those who contribute $100 or more will be rewarded with 500 bonus miles.** United Continental Holdings is committing up to five million miles for contributions made before April 30, 2011, to support this initiative.

"Our thoughts go out to those living and working in Japan, including more than 1,000 of our own co-workers, as they deal with this tragic event," said Sonya Jackson, president of the United Airlines Foundation. "Our customers always step up in times like these, and we are proud to do our part by offering a mileage bonus incentive to our Mileage Plus and OnePass members who are supporting this critical humanitarian relief effort."

In addition, the airlines are preparing to transport doctors and other health care workers to assist in humanitarian efforts, and they are donating cargo space to transport relief supplies to the region in conjunction with specific shippers.

How to Support the American Red Cross and Earn Bonus Miles

Individuals who wish to support the disaster relief efforts should visit the American Red Cross website to make a cash donation:

To receive the mileage award, members of Mileage Plus should send an e-mail to including: an electronic receipt from the American Red Cross showing a donation of $50 or more, the member's name and Mileage Plus number.

To receive the mileage award, members of OnePass should send an e-mail to including: an electronic receipt from the American Red Cross showing a donation of $50 or more, the member's name and OnePass number.

Customers May Also Donate Miles

Mileage Plus and OnePass members with accrued miles can donate their miles to a charity through their respective airline's program. Many international relief organizations send personnel and volunteers to assist in the affected region, and the donation of miles will help defray their expenses.

Through these programs, Mileage Plus and OnePass members can donate a minimum of 1,000 miles to any of the designated groups involved in the relief effort.

To donate miles online, please visit and You may also donate miles by calling Mileage Plus Customer Service at 1-800-421-4655 or OnePass Customer Service at 713-952-1630.

Flight Operations in Japan and the Pacific

United's and Continental's flight operations in Japan and the Pacific are operating as scheduled, with the exception of flights from Guam to Sendai. Those flights are suspended due to the Sendai airport closure. United and Continental have extended travel options through March 18, 2011, for customers whose flight plans may be affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Complete details and eligible travel dates are available at and

About United Continental Holdings, Inc.
United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) is the holding company for both United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Together with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connection, these airlines operate a total of approximately 5,675 flights a day to 372 airports on six continents from their hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark Liberty, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. United and Continental are members of Star Alliance, which offers 21,000 daily flights to 1,160 airports in 181 countries. United and Continental's more than 80,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world. For more information about United Continental Holdings, Inc., go to For more information about the airlines, see and, and follow each carrier on Twitter and Facebook.

**Up to 500 Bonus award mile terms and conditions:

1. Must be a Mileage Plus or OnePass member to participate; to join go to or
2. To receive a bonus, Mileage Plus members must email or forward to and OnePass members must email or forward to An electronic receipt from the American Red Cross showing a donation of $50 USD-$99 USD for 250 bonus award miles or $100 USD or more for 500 bonus award miles (your contribution may be tax deductible, please consult a tax professional). For processing, please include your name and Mileage Plus or OnePass number in the email message with the receipt.
3. Receipt must be dated no earlier than March 11, 2011, and must be received by April 30, 2011.
4. Donor's name must match the name on the Mileage Plus or OnePass account provided with the emailed receipt.
5. Please allow 6-8 weeks for mileage to post to account.
6. Bonus can be earned a maximum of one time.
7. A maximum of five million combined United Mileage Plus and Continental OnePass® miles will be donated by the United Airlines Foundation as part of this program and will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.
8. This offer is combinable with other offers and is subject to change without notice.
9. Bonus miles are redeemable for Mileage Plus or OnePass awards and do not count toward elite status.
10. Miles accrued and awards issued are subject to the rules of the United Mileage Plus or OnePass program. United or Continental, its subsidiaries, affiliates and agents are not responsible for any products and services of other participating companies and partners. Taxes and fees related to award travel are the responsibility of the passenger. United and Mileage Plus are registered service marks. Continental and OnePass are registered service marks.

For complete details about the Mileage Plus program, visit

For complete details about the OnePass program, visit

Starwood Launches New Resorts Website Including First Starwood Preferred Guest Member-Generated Favorites List

SPG Will Award Ten Dream Vacations to Celebrate Launch

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) and its award-winning Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) program today announced the launch of, a new website to help travelers plan and purchase the perfect resort escape.

Starwood's research shows that leisure guests buy vacations based on the specific experiences they want to have while traveling. That's why the new centers on what visitors will see and experience while staying at any of Starwood's over 200 resorts around the world. The site draws on images, including live webcams and actual resort footage, rather than words to show each breath taking resort. In addition, the "Discover Your Perfect Resort" search process, the new resort compare feature, and social media plug-ins all provide travelers with the most relevant content they need to pair the perfect Starwood resort with their vacation vision.

"One of our members' favorite SPG benefits is being able to stay in our inspiring collection of unmatched luxury resorts around the world. We developed to make it easy for them to explore each of these incredible resorts." said Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President of Starwood Preferred Guest. "The highly visual website highlights the experiential aspect of travel through stunning photography along with new resort search and social functionality."

The launch of the site also coincides with the unveiling of the inaugural user-generated "SPG Member Favorites" list. For the first time, SPG invited thousands of its most well traveled members to identify their favorite resorts across the following nine categories: Best Beach Resort, Most Romantic Retreat, Best Exotic Escape, Best Family Experience, Best Golf Getaway, Best Island Paradise, Best Spa Indulgence, Best Winter Adventure and Best Small Wonder. For a complete list of all SPG Member Favorites visit Additionally, SPG polled top travel professionals to identify the best Starwood resorts by region, including Best in U.S., Best in Asia and Best in Europe. For a complete list of travel professional recommendations visit

To celebrate the launch of the site, the Starwood Preferred Guest program invites travelers to bid adieu to one of the coldest winters with the "SPG Pack Your Bags Giveaway." From March 15 through April 14, 2011, a new Member Favorites category will be swapped out every Tuesday and Friday for guests to choose where they would like to win the trip of a lifetime. Ten lucky winners will receive a five-night stay, plus airfare, to the resort of their choice. Members may enter once a day. To view official rules and enter, visit

About Starwood Preferred Guest

The SPG program's breakthrough policy of No Blackout Dates at the world's most sought after collection of hotels reinvented the hospitality loyalty program when it launched in 1999. By creating a program centered on its members, SPG has developed the most passionate and knowledgeable membership base in the hotel loyalty space. Through its use of new technologies and innovative channels such as,, and others, SPG continues to innovate and lead the industry. By offering No Blackouts on standard rooms at over 1,000 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries, No Blackouts on hundreds of airlines, and once in a lifetime experiences available through SPG Moments at, the program has proven to be a big draw for the world's most frequent travelers, and a significant competitive advantage for Starwood. For more information about Starwood Preferred Guest please visit or call (877) - STARWOOD.

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1025 properties in 100 countries and territories with 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Helen Wong: Show Me the Images

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Helen Wong's Tours, the leading China specialist is inviting travel writers and photographers who have travelled with Helen and her company to submit their favourite anecdotes and photographs from their experiences in China and Indochina.

In return, Helen, who pioneered travel to China for Australians, will select a number to appear in next year's celebratory brochure and/or the new-look website, launched earlier this year.

"We want everyone who has travelled with us to join in the celebrations," said Helen. "Many of Australia's leading travel writers have experienced and enjoyed our China and Indochina products and we want them to be a part of a very special year for us," she said.

"I am privileged to have travelled with the cream of Australian writers over the past 24 years and I want them to share the celebrations with myself and the Helen Wong's Tours team."

For more than two decades Helen Wong's Tours has been prominent in the Australian travel market creating and developing a contrasting range of holiday itineraries for independent and group travellers to China.

Since Helen opened the first agency in suburban Sydney in 1987, the popular businesswoman has approached her work with plenty of passion, dedication and professionalism.

For her initial efforts, the company - its headquarters are now in the heart of Sydney's CBD - grew dramatically with the addition of a program dedicated to touring Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The company also caters for travel to vibrant Hong Kong and multi-cultural Macau. Helen Wong's Tours has been repaid for its professionalism with swags of travel industry and business awards - lauded by colleagues, industry heads and journalists who have had the privilege to work and travel with Helen.

In 1993, Helen tailored an exclusive itinerary for former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and his wife Margaret, ultimately escorting the couple on a study program in a People's Republic previously veiled by mystery and intrigue. Two years later, the Sydney-based agency was named among Australia's top 100 fastest-growing private companies by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Business Review Weekly, a prize treasured by Helen Wong and her team.

In 1996, Helen was further rewarded for her efforts by reaching the finals of the coveted - and very competitive - Telstra-sponsored Businesswoman of the Year. Qantas Airways also announced that Helen Wong's Tours had joined the top 10 supporting agents in NSW and was also commended for outstanding achievements in sales.

The accolades continued when Asian airline Dragonair voted Helen Wong's Tours the best agent in consecutive years - 1999 and 2000. She also successively bid to host the 25th annual general meeting of the prestigious Australian Society of Travel Writers (ASTW) in Shanghai, an event which was roundly applauded by the more than 200 attendees.

As a result of the AGM, Helen was crowned Communicator of the Year by the association's national writers. In the years to follow, Helen and her thriving company collected a few more prized trophies as tourists from Australia to China steadily increased, thus strengthening the wholesaler's growth.

Recently Helen reached another milestone. She was presented a plaque by the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration for bringing 200,000 Australian visitors to Shanghai.

Details: Helen Wong's Tours, phone (02) 92677833,

Details on submissions contact Mike Smith
Public Relations Manager
(02) 92677833

Expedia throws down the gauntlet on booking fees with new multi-million dollar campaign

The world's largest online travel company, Expedia, has launched a new multi-million dollar marketing and advertising campaign in Australia and New Zealand. The campaign, which focuses on flight booking fees, throws down the gauntlet with local competitors who continue to charge their customers booking fees which, according to Expedia, offer no value to customers.

Research* commissioned by Expedia late last year found that almost three quarters of Australians and New Zealanders are angered when websites charge fees and believe they should not be charged.

Nicolas Chu, General Manager, Expedia Australia and New Zealand, said: "Australians and New Zealanders should be made aware of the amount of money they pay in fees, particularly flight booking fees, with other travel websites. These fees offer absolutely no value whatsoever to the traveller. At Expedia, we believe we should put the traveller first, not how much money we can make from them in fees."

The campaign includes a 30-second television spot currently airing in Australia and New Zealand encouraging consumers to think twice about where they book their flights.

About 18 months ago, Expedia removed booking fees on all flights booked through its Australian and New Zealand websites, and The two websites subsequently also eliminated Expedia change and cancellation fees on all flights, hotels, packages and car reservations booked on the sites.

While continues to lead the campaign against fees, some online travel agents (OTAs) in Australia continue to charge customers fees of up to $50 to book a flight. They also charge various fees to change/cancel a flight, hotel or package.

*Research conducted by Sweeney Research among 800 Australians and 300 New Zealanders.

**Comparison table of flight booking fees charged by the various OTAs.

Charges incurred by booking an International flight – Australia OTAs:

Travel Company - Charges for International flight bookings

Expedia Free

Webjet $49.90 per booking

Webjet $35.90 (New Zealand and Pacific flights only) per booking

Jetabroad Up to $30 per booking

BestFlights $18.95 per booking

Wotflight $16.95 per booking

Harvey World Travel $14.95-$19.95 per booking $14.95 per booking $14.95 per booking

Charges incurred by booking a Domestic flight – Australia OTAs:

Travel Company - Charges for Domestic flight bookings

Expedia Free

Webjet $30.90 per booking

Jetabroad $27 per booking

BestFlights $18.95 per booking

Wotflight $16.95 per booking

Flight Centre $16.95 per booking

Escape Travel $16.95 per booking

Harvey World Travel $14.95-$19.95 per booking $14.95 per booking $14.95 per booking

**About the charges

1.    The above fees were found by searching for flights on the websites of each of the above travel companies at 10:30 am (AEST) on Monday, 7 March 2011. Therefore, the fee comparison is based on the information provided by those companies about the additional fees they may charge when booking a domestic or international flight online.

2.    This table is only meant to give an idea of the additional fees there are often charged by other travel companies and is not a quote or an assessment of the airfare price differences between travel companies.  Some travel companies also charge different booking fees for bookings made over the telephone.


Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE), the world's leading online travel company, operates™ ( in Australia. Expedia helps Australians plan and book their travel by providing a personalised service, the latest technology and a wide selection of holiday packages, cheap flights, hotel bookings, car hire, in-destination attractions & activities, adventure tours and travel insurance to suit their travel needs.

Expedia,, the Airplane logo and Where You Book Matters are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the US and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners. © 2011 Expedia, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Qantas Australian Tourism Awards: Winners List

Six Queensland tourism operators have taken out seven awards at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, providing a big boost for a state hard hit by floods and cyclones in recent months.

The awards were announced as a ceremony at the Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth.

This year saw two Hall of Fame winners: Skycity Darwin (NT) for Luxury Accommodation and Sydney Central YHA (NSW) for Backpacker Accommodation.

The Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism was awarded to Lane Cove River Tourist Park (NSW).

Qantas Australian Tourism Awards 2010 winners

Major Tourist Attractions: Taronga Zoo (NSW)

Tourist Attractions: Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours (QLD)

Major Festivals and Events: Santos Tour Down Under (SA)

Festivals and Events: Temora Aviation Museum – Sabre Launch (NSW)

Ecotourism: Lane Cove River Tourist Park (NSW)

Heritage and Cultural Tourism: The Workshops Rail Museum (QLD)

Indigenous Tourism: Mutawintji Eco-tours (NSW)

Specialised Tourism Services: Mornington Peninsula Tourism (VIC)

Visitor Information and Services: Bendigo Visitor Centre (VIC)

Meetings and Business Tourism: Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (QLD)

Major Tour and/or Transport Operators: Fantasea Adventure Cruising (QLD); Highly Commended, Intrepid Connections NT Tour (NT)

Tour and/or Transport Operators: Tri State Safaris (NSW)

Adventure Tourism: Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours (QLD)

Tourism Marketing: Destination Gippsland (VIC)

Tourism Education and Training: Qld Dept Tourism, Leisure, Hotel and Sport Management (QLD); Highly Commended, Holmesglen Tourism (VIC)

Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services: Max’s at Red Hill Estate (VIC)

Tourism Wineries Distilleries and Boutique Breweries: Wyndham Estate Cellar Door (NSW)

Tourist and Caravan Parks: Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort (QLD)

Backpacker Accommodation: Sydney Central YHA (NSW) Hall Of Fame

Hosted Accommodation: Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage (SA)

Unique Accommodation: Eco Beach Wilderness Retreat (WA); Highly Commended, Rose Gums (QLD).

Standard Accommodation, Scone Motor Inn (NSW)

Deluxe Accommodation: The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel (TAS); Highly Commended, Azjure Studio Retreat (QLD)

Luxury Accommodation: Skycity Darwin (NT) Hall of Fame

New Tourism Development: Sydney Harbour YHA (NSW)

Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism: Lane Cove River Tourist Park (NSW)

Outstanding Contribution by an individual (National): Ian Laurance (WA)

Monday, March 14, 2011


Senator the Hon. Nick Arbib, Simon McGrath VP Accor Australia & Leah Armstrong CEO Reconciliation Australia at the Accor Reconciliation Action Plan launch at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Australia's largest hotel group reinforces its commitment to Indigenous Australians

The statistics say it all - official employment figures show the unemployment rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians is 14% compared to 4.9% for other Australians.

14 March 2011, Sydney: Accor Asia Pacific, the largest hotel group in Australia, announced its ongoing commitment to improving Indigenous employment and relations at the official launch of the Accor Indigenous Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in partnership with Reconciliation Australia - the largest and most comprehensive RAP in the Australian hospitality industry.

"With over 150 hotels in Australia, the greatest geographical spread of city and regional locations, and the relationships we have built with Indigenous employment partners, Accor is well equipped to achieve our goal of seeing 100 Indigenous employees trained and employed in Accor hotels across Australia each year," said Simon McGrath, Vice President Accor Australia.

Accor has led the way in efforts to build sustainable relationships with Indigenous Australians through its pioneering 'Indigenous Employment Program'.  Established in 2001, the Program has seen over 600 Indigenous Australians employed throughout Accor's Australian hotel network.  It has also achieved many industry accolades including the Corporate Leaders for Indigenous Employment award for four consecutive years (from 2003-2006).

Accor is now embarking on the next phase of its campaign by partnering with Reconciliation Australia - the non-government, not-for-profit foundation charged with continuing the national focus for reconciliation.  Partnering with Reconciliation Australia and implementing a Reconciliation Action Plan is a formal commitment to closing the gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians not only through employment but also through training; partnering with Indigenous Businesses; community involvement to increase knowledge about the Indigenous culture and providing opportunities through education and scholarships.

"We are proud of what has been achieved so far under our Indigenous Employment Program and look forward to excelling as an example within the industry and greater community of an Employer that is truly committed to supporting Indigenous Australians," said Mr McGrath.

Senator Arbib thanked Accor for its leadership and vision and praised the emphasis given in the RAP to employment and traineeship opportunities and support for growing Indigenous businesses and development of further Indigenous partnerships.

Leah Armstrong, CEO Reconciliation Australia, in attendance at the launch said: "We know from the 2010 Race Relations Barometer survey that 87% of Australians agree that the relationship with the Indigenous people of this country is important – and it is industry leaders like Accor that put this belief into practice by establishing ongoing employment and training and building cultural awareness throughout its industry and overall community."

Support from partners and Indigenous leaders in attendance at the launch included Allan Madden – Elder from the Gadigal Land who gave the official welcome; Leah Armstrong, CEO Reconciliation Australia and Senator the Hon. Mark Arbib, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Far North QLD Tourism Crisis Claims Bale Resort Port Douglas

Source: Martin Kelly, Travel Trends

The Queensland holiday crisis has claimed its first major victim with the sudden closure of the Bale Resort in Port Douglas near Cairns. It would be easy to blame the resort's failure on bad publicity surrounding cyclones and flooding. But the truth is that Far North Queensland tourism has been under performing for years. International visitors don't go there in the numbers they once did while domestic visitors are choosing to take their tropical holidays elsewhere.

According to The Australian: "In the boom, developers The Ray Group and failed company MFS (now Octaviar) promised that the $130 million resort would become the pride of Port Douglas, with guests paying a minimum of $1000 a night and investors securing returns of as much as 7 per cent. But the 50-odd owners who bought into the development have instead seen room rates fall to as little as $200, which meant once bills were paid they were effectively paying guests to stay at the property.

"Resort operator Mantra has distanced itself from the closure, saying that it had no interest in the owner of the resort's management rights, Port Douglas Resorts Pty Ltd."

Brand New Web Site for Helen Wong's Tours

Just re-launched is the ground-up rebuild of the HWT website

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Travel release: On the Beach --exposed.

Brisbane-born adventurer, photographer, publisher John Everingham has launched a new website aimed at identifying, for the first time, every true beachfront resort, hotel, and backpacker bungalow in the world.

Using satellite imagery and ground-level photographs, he and his business partner hotelier Chris Ryan, formerly of Perth, have so far meticulously mapped most of the 10,000 known commercial beach properties in Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, North America, South America, Central America, Australasia and the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and Middle East, and Africa.

In a bold move to provide "truth in travel advertising " the free inter-active site plans to become the global authority on beach holidays, accepting only those properties with sand at their doorstep. Each place will have full explanatory notes, booking options, and galleries of photographs, even down to close-ups of comparative sand texture.

"How many times have you booked a 'beachfront' hotel only to find yourself dodging traffic and crossing roads to get to the water? ", Mr Everingham said.

"With this site, US$30 a night beach shacks on little-known Thai islands can be found as quickly as the best five-star beach resorts in the world".

Operations are based in Thailand where the partners have spent more than three decades in the tourism industry.

To prove that properties are genuinely on the beach, the website has created 2000 high-tech beach maps and satellite images verifying the locations. Galleries of resort-generated publicity photographs can be matched with an independent collection taken by Mr Everingham and his associates. In one year alone, Mr Everingham photographed 1000 properties in Bali and Thailand, the two places for which beachfront information is already complete.

Statistically, a few countries are in for a shock:

• Phuket, Thailand's most famous island resort, has 900 hotels. Only 69 qualify as true beachfront. Phuket's major competitor, Koh Samui has 234 resorts on the beach.

• The USA, Mexico and Spain rank high, in order, on the 'true beachfront' scale. Mallorca, with 180,has the most on-the-beach resorts in Europe.

• Australia, with possibly more beachfront per capita than anywhere in the world, is one of the lowest, with only about  100, of which 35 are on the Gold Coast. (Egypt has 170, Florida 400 and Mexico 490).

Media inquiries: or John Everingham <>

Friday, March 11, 2011

MCVB Snares a Trifecta at Victorian MEA Awards

Melbourne Convention + Visitors Bureau (MCVB) was recognised for its record results and groundbreaking innovations, taking out three awards at the prestigious Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) Victorian Awards, held at The Sebel Albert Park last night.

MCVB was awarded \'Metropolitan Destination Marketing Organisation\', \'Corporate Social Responsibility\' (for over 30 employees) and, together with Reed Travel Exhibitions, \'Exhibition of the Year\', for the 2010 Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME).

MCVB\'s performance was assessed across a wide-range of criteria, including business and financial plans, marketing activities, sustainability and innovation.

MCVB\'s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Sandra Chipchase, said the three accolades were indicative of how well the Bureau fulfilled these key indicators.

"I am delighted that MCVB\'s contribution to the Business Events industry continues to be recognised," Ms Chipchase said.

"We endeavour to set the bar high in terms of marketing Melbourne as one of the world\'s premier cities for hosting incentives and conventions, as well as exhibitions such as AIME, which we established almost two decades ago.

"Events such as this deliver significant economic and employment benefits directly to our tourism and Business Events industry, as well as to the broader state economy.

"I would like to acknowledge the diligent, dedicated and extremely talented MCVB staff who are committed to innovation and excellence.

"I would also like to thank the State Government of Victoria, Tourism Victoria, the City of Melbourne, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) and all our members for their outstanding support."

ITB 2011: Concept Details of the EUROPA 2 and COLUMBUS 2 from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

ITB 2011: Concept Details of the EUROPA 2 and COLUMBUS 2 from Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

• Route and theme concepts for the EUROPA 2
• EUROPA 2: Start of construction on 1st September 2011
• Presentation of the cross-section of the COLUMBUS 2

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has used the ITB as an opportunity to present more details of the newcomers to their fleet with a computer-generated view of the EUROPA 2 and a cross-section of the Premium ship COLUMBUS 2. Besides details of the route and board concepts, the German cruise-operator explained the various stages in the building of the MS EUROPA 2. Building is due to commence on 1st September in the French STX shipyard in St. Nazaire.

7th February 2012 will mark the keel laying of the new EUROPA 2. The ship is due to leave dry dock five months later and the complete interior fit-out will begin in July 2012. The naming ceremony is planned in spring 2013.

The newly-built EUROPA 2 will support the company in extending its leading role in the luxury segment. All planned routes have one thing in common: they are oriented on the requirements of professionals, employees as well as families. In the spring and summer, the plans are to offer seven-day, combinable routes to the Western Mediterranean, optionally from Barcelona to Monte Carlo, from Monte Carlo to Malta and from Malta to Venice. In autumn, cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean are included on the itinerary. The EUROPA 2 will spend the winter in the Arabian See and in South-East Asia.

The concepts in the gastronomy and entertainment field cater for the interests of a life-style oriented target group. A spacious Wellness Section with health-related facilities, for example Body Care and Anti-Aging, are designed to follow the trend towards active holidays and well-being. Besides incorporating family suites, three children's sections are planned. Nannies will offer day care and a dedicated programme for children from 2 years of age upwards – a new feature in the family concept of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises. The entertainment concept remains true to the principle of diversity and exclusivity with its own production shows, music theatre, banks, solo artistes and open air events.

In the gastronomy segment seven restaurants offer culinary delights at no extra charge: Asia, Italy, Brasserie Grill, Wine Bistro, Lido, Sushi Bar, Special Dining and Fine Dining are the basic gastronomy concepts that are augmented by gourmet events and four bars.

COLUMBUS 2 sets standards in the Premium segment

A new cross-section of the COLUMBUS 2, that will be sailing for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises from April 2012 onwards, now allows a detailed insight into the interior of the Premium ship. The COLUMBUS 2, with a maximum capacity of 698 passengers, is a small ship in the Premium segment, which offers freedom of movement and diverse facilities on a total of 11 decks. With a generous amount of space per passenger and a very high proportion of balcony cabins with a standard size of 20 sqm/ 215 sqf, the Premium ship provides a very high standard of comfort for this market segment.

MS Columbus 2 begins service with HL in 2012
With low starting prices the COLUMBUS 2 is the ideal ship for cruise newcomers. The so-called Complete Package, which is additionally on offer also ensures full planning security as far as extra costs are concerned, because it includes all beverages and a shore excursion package. The family travel concept incorporates selected voyages during the holiday periods complete with children's programme, which are free for the under-15s (if accommodated in a cabin with two adults). The new Kids' and Teens' Clubs are to be fitted on the Pool Deck especially for this purpose after taking over the ship in March 2012 in the course of an overhaul stay in the shipyard.

The gastronomy concept with four restaurants offers a diversity of culinary highlights in a casual to elegant-casual atmosphere. Besides the Fine Dining Restaurant Albert Ballin and the Italian speciality restaurant Toscana there is the Polo Grill or the Lido Restaurant in the open air. These are supplemented by three bars: the Ballin Bar, Martinis and the Pool Bar. Various stages and lounges are available for the entertainment programme, in particular the Show Stage on the Pool Deck with its irresistible open-air summer events. An impressive feature of the Observation Lounge, located two decks above the bridge, is its all-round panoramic glazing. The Ocean Spa and the large Fitness Section ensure full wellness and fitness amenities. A highlight are the Cabanas on the highest deck 11 – there passengers can sunbathe in a very private atmosphere.

For more information on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' exciting destinations and itineraries visit For bookings, inquiries or to request a brochure, please look for your nearest sales agent in your country at, link customer service.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

WOW Travel March | Spring Equinox

WOW Travel, Kiwi Collection's digital travel and lifestyle magazine, has launched its March issue. This month, the WOW editorial team shakes off last season, and bounds out into the wild with a contagious case of spring fever.

Chase the rising sun eastward with a journey to Agra, India, where the Taj Mahal waits to steal the very breath from your lungs. Then, learn of Jim Thompson's design legacy in radiant Bangkok.

Turn tail and head west with Emma Crosby in search of safari hotspot, Morukuru. Certainly, this is the spot for getting close to wildlife. Then again, so is Germany, where the animals prefer to be behind the wheel of a high-powered motorcar then running through grasslands.

If the royal wedding has you all a-quiver, you'll be glad we're highlighting the world's five best spots to take in all the pomp, circumstance, and paparazzi.

Each magazine department (Wining & Dining, Art & Style, Spa & Sport, Industry Insight, and Destinations) will explore the world of travel through a particular lens. WOW Likes highlights gifts for the man or woman with everything, including the Sprout at Home Terrarium, Dyson Airblade, and the Jaguar C-X75.

Read the entire March issue of WOW Travel here

American Airlines and QANTAS Expand Codeshare Cooperation

American Airlines and Qantas, members of the oneworld® Alliance, today announced the next phase of their deepening commercial relationship, expanding the number of routes on which the airlines will codeshare between major cities across North America and Australia.

Qantas will codeshare on American Airlines flights to 28 new destinations from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), American's largest hub. American Airlines will begin codesharing on Qantas services between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth as well as domestic services from Brisbane to Adelaide, Canberra, Cairns, Melbourne and Perth.

The expansion comes ahead of the launch of direct Qantas services from Sydney to DFW, on May 16, and will give Qantas customers unparalleled access to a wide range of major cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico. New destinations include Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville and New York (Newark) - as well as Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver.* Members of both airlines' loyalty programs - the American Airlines AAdvantage® program and Qantas Frequent Flyer program - are able to accrue and redeem miles/points across the combined networks of both carriers.

As announced earlier this year, Qantas and American Airlines will shortly seek regulatory approval for closer collaboration from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and other relevant authorities.

Group Executive Qantas Airlines Commercial, Rob Gurney, said, "The new codeshares will help maximize the benefits of the new DFW service for passengers and underpin the enhancement of the Qantas-American Airlines relationship. This is an important step for Qantas as we prepare to begin flying to Dallas/Fort Worth and seek to deepen our relationship with American Airlines.

"With the addition of 28 new codeshare cities, Qantas' network out of DFW will total 54 destinations when we commence services in May, providing unprecedented choice and convenience for Australians visiting the USA. Similarly, the Australian American Airlines and Qantas Expand Codeshare Cooperation and Deepen Commerical Relationship March 10, 2011 Page 2 tourism industry will have the opportunity to tap into a huge market of potential US visitors.

"Expanding our codeshare arrangement with American Airlines allows us to capitalize fully on DFW's position as a major hub airport for business and leisure travel.

As well as most major US cities, Qantas customers will be able to travel through DFW to Canada and Mexico, including such destinations as Toronto, Vancouver, Cancun and Mexico City.

"We have worked closely with American Airlines over many years, and with the commencement of services to Dallas/Fort Worth we look forward to taking our partnership to a new level," Mr Gurney said.

Virasb Vahidi, American's Chief Commercial Officer, said, "Our expanded codeshare relationship with Qantas makes it easier and more convenient for our customers to travel on the global networks of both airlines. We are pleased to give our respective customers unprecedented access to destinations across North America and Australia. We are focused on delivering more choices, easier connections and a better overall travel experience, and this expanded relationship with our valued partner, Qantas, is a great example of those efforts." Mr Vahidi added, "Our strengthened relationship will further enhance our position in the growing trans-Pacific market, as well as in the respective home markets of each carrier, and make oneworld a stronger global alliance. We look forward to more opportunities to deepen our relationship with Qantas in the future." The new codeshare destinations will be progressively made available for sale over the next month.

Next Generation Check-In Regional Implementation Begins

Qantas today announced that Next Generation Check-in technology has started rolling out across its regional network.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said this was a significant milestone in the program.

"Next Generation Check-in provides our customers with a smarter, faster check-in experience and we're excited to be delivering this technology for customers in our regional ports," said Mr Joyce.

"When our customers told us that queuing was a point of pain we responded. Next Generation Check-in has been successfully implemented in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne and has dramatically reduced domestic check-in times for customers allowing them to move through the check-in area with speed and ease.

"Twenty-one regional airports, including sixteen QantasLink ports, will receive Next Generation Check-in technology over the next four months," he said.

Albury, Rockhampton, Karratha, Broome, Coffs Harbour and Mackay are the first ports to benefit from the introduction of Q Card Reader technology, and will be shortly followed by Emerald, Hobart, Kalgoorlie, Port Hedland and Port Macquarie.

Mr Joyce said Platinum, Gold and Silver Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club members will be checked in within seconds with one touch of their Qantas card on the Q Card Readers.

Q Card Readers will also be installed in Gladstone, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Alice Springs, Newman, Wagga Wagga, Townsville, Launceston, Paraburdoo, Darwin and Cairns.

"From May, Q Bag technology will also be introduced across the regional network.

"The Q Bag Tag is a cutting edge innovation and Qantas is proud to be the first airline to introduce this world-leading technology to our customers."

The Q Bag Tag automatically links customers' luggage with their flight details when scanned by Qantas Customer Service staff.

Next Generation Check-in will be progressively introduced to Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra throughout 2011. The program is scheduled for completion in the second half of 2011.

An online demonstration providing a step-by-step guide to Next Generation Check-in is available on
Note: For breaking Qantas news via Twitter, go to

New Zealand Reassures Travellers


Tourism New Zealand has moved to reassure visitors the country remains open for business following an earthquake in the city of Christchurch in late February.

As many as 160 people are thought to have died in the incident, with thousands of buildings set to be demolished after being deemed unsafe.

However, Kevin Bowler, chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, has pointed out events are “localized” to Christchurch and its surrounding environs, with the rest of the country open, welcoming and operating as normal
“Our sympathy and concern is extended to Cantabrians, visitors to the area on February 22nd and to business owners, including tourism operators, affected by the earthquake,” said Bowler.
“We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support which New Zealand has received from the United Kingdom and our sincere thanks goes to everyone who has been involved over the last two weeks, we really appreciate your help.”

Tourism New Zealand
Tourism New Zealand’s immediate priority after the earthquake was to provide support and help ensure travellers in Christchurch, travellers currently in New Zealand and those intending to travel to New Zealand had accurate and up-to-date travel information.
“From a tourism industry perspective, other than Christchurch city, New Zealand is very much open as normal.

“Our tourism businesses across the country, and especially in the wider Canterbury area, have been making alternative arrangements for those who had planned to stay in Christchurch and will continue to do over the coming months,” added Bowler.

“It is too soon to say how long the recovery and rebuilding of Christchurch will take, however, we know that the determined Cantabrian spirit will be a key factor to help rebuild the city.”

The New Zealand tourism industry’s next priority is to ensure tourism remains strong and maintains its contribution to the economy.

International tourism contributes NZ$9.5 billion of foreign exchange to the New Zealand economy each year.

“New Zealand is used to welcoming large numbers of international tourists each year including about 235,000 from the United Kingdom,” said Bowler.

“A strong economy is what we need to ensure Christchurch can get back on its feet as quickly as possible and tourism is vital to this.

“With this in mind we would like to ask the UK tourism industry’s support in encouraging visitors to continue to visit our beautiful country,” concluded Bowler.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt now open!

Adina's latest offering outshines its class, seducing guests with space, style and location

Today, Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt has officially opened, welcoming the very first guests.

Adina Hackescher Markt is the largest of three chic, Australian owned and operated, Adina Apartment Hotels in Berlin. The new hotel represents the eighth in an expanding portfolio characterised by urbane locations, stylish interiors and premium lifestyle facilities.

Adina Hackescher Markt is situated in one of Berlin's most vibrant emerging districts. In a city known for avant guarde culture, Hackescher Markt sets the pace with bars, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and museums oozing with attitude. Guests will also be well positioned to explore Berlin's classic landmarks with Alexander Platz, Brandenburger Tor, Museums Island and many more, all close by.

Adina Hackescher Markt features 145 spacious one and two bedroom apartments and studios. The brand's commitment to spacious apartment hotel accommodation, a rarity in Europe, remains strong. Each has been designed to cater to savvy travellers and feature: fully equipped kitchens, separate lounge and bedrooms, internal laundries, flatscreen televisions, iPod docking stations and work desks – to name a few.

Adina Hackescher Markt's interiors live up to its location's air of cool. Adina's signature interior design has been taken to the next level at this brand new hotel. Dominant use of charcoal and black sets an edgy mood, whilst gold overtones lend a contemporary feel, highlighting the warm tones in the indigenous Australian artwork dotted throughout the hotel.

The hotel also features a Wellness Area complete with a Swarovski encrusted ceiling depicting the Southern Cross, the exclusive Aveda Salon and Spa with an organic product range and Alto Bar and Restaurant featuring a vast breakfast menu, enticing tapas selection and boasting an Australia wine list. 

Rachel Argaman, CEO of Toga Hospitality, said: "We're thrilled to welcome the very first guests to Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt. Adina continues to expand whilst always striving to impress our guests and match their lifestyles through the signature brand elements: spacious apartments, stand-out locations, chic interiors and exceptional lifestyle facilities - all infused with an Australian flavour."

Adina Apartment Hotels are located across Europe and Australia: Berlin (three), Frankfurt (one), Hamburg (one), Copenhagen (one), Budapest (one) and Sydney (one). The next Adina Apartment Hotel is set to open in 2012 at Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach.

For more information or to book, visit: or

About Adina Apartment Hotels  

The 'suitest' way to stay

Adina Apartment Hotels are designed with contemporary travel in mind. Each apartment features a spacious lounge room coupled with a fully equipped kitchen, internal laundry, iPod docking station, desk, flat screen television, safe and balcony (subject to room type).

The chic, urbane style of the hotels has been blended with functionality and a welcoming atmosphere. Aboriginal art and hints of Australia feature in each of the hotels, a nod to their Australian roots.

Alto Bar and Restaurant (onsite dining at selected Adina Apartment Hotels) offers scrumptious meals and beverages including delicious cocktails and featuring a selection of Australian wines.

Adina Apartment Hotels can be found in the following city locations: Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Budapest and Sydney.

All Adina Apartment Hotels are proudly owned and operated by Toga Hospitality, an Australian company also responsible for Medina Apartment Hotels, Vibe Hotels and Travelodge Hotels in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.  

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places