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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Education Trade Show Coup for Queenstown Edu-tourism

Queenstown has the opportunity to globally showcase its position as an international education destination next year after being confirmed as host venue for Australia and New Zealand’s largest education and student travel trade show.

Around 500 participants from 50 different countries are expected to attend the Australia New Zealand Agent Workshop (ANZA) to be held at Queenstown Events Centre from 29 February - 2 March 2012.

Formatted in a similar way to TRENZ*, which was recently held for the first time in Queenstown, the workshop facilitates one-on-one appointments between agencies that send student and edu-travellers to the region and those who provide educational and tourism services at the destination

Attendees are also offered professional development seminars or opportunities to showcase their own programmes, schools, countries and regions.

Destination Queenstown Convention Bureau Manager Kylie Brittain says securing ANZA is a strategic win for Queenstown which represents a ‘coming of age’ for the resort as an edu-tourism destination.

“Education is a major export earner for both Australia and New Zealand and Queenstown is now recognised as a credible international education destination with many options as a place for students to live and learn outside of their home countries.

“Hosting ANZA gives us the opportunity to display our offering to this market niche. It’s an international platform that can promote the resort as a superb study destination,” she says.

Queenstown’s ‘live and learn’ opportunities have been profiled and organised through Study Queenstown, a specialist organisation set up two years ago which brings together the education institutions offering services in Queenstown to provide a one-stop-shop for people considering study in the region.

Study Queenstown spokesperson Charlie Philips says the organisation works hard to present Queenstown as a credible, well established edu-tourism destination.

“Study Queenstown represents all the education providers in the area from secondary school to tertiary and language institutions. We work together to present Queenstown as a serious education destination with organisations that are experienced in hosting, teaching and supporting international students.”

Mr Philips believes hosting the ANZA workshops offers an opportunity for Queenstown to forge new relationships with international agencies and to showcase the synergies between education and tourism.

The 2011 ANZA workshop was held in Royal Pines Resort on Gold Coast and welcomed 519 participants representing 357 organisations from 52 countries with a total of 4582 pre-scheduled meetings taking place over two days.

For more information about The Australia New Zealand Agent Workshop visit

For more information about Queenstown please visit

Two Of Australia's Well Known Convention/Incentive Brands Unite

micenet AUSTRALIA magazine and American Express have formed a strategic alliance. American Express Meetings & Events, an extension of American Express Business Travel, has agreed to make micenet magazine available to some of its key meetings and events decision makers. American Express is a leading travel management company and meetings, events and incentive provider that reaches customers around the world.

This strategic alliance will extend micenet AUSTRALIA’s readership to an even greater audience of highly qualified convention and incentive travel buyers. For advertisers, the strategic alliance will result in greater exposure to an extended, sophisticated and highly resourced sector of the market that has been relatively untapped by business event publications in the past.

Helen Batt-Rawden, Publisher of micenet magazine says, ‘selecting effective distribution channels is a key component to a company’s marketing mix and integral to the successful operation of an organisation. We constantly strive to research and introduce more qualified and exclusive distribution channels that will not only give our advertisers more exposure within the niche C&I buyer arena, but will also maintain our leading status in the marketplace and ensure the magazine is more widely read by QUALIFIED buyers than any other C&I/MICE-related magazine in the Australian marketplace'.

New A380 has duty free store on board

The rush to buy duty-free items before boarding is now over for some lucky passengers. Korean Airlines took delivery of its first A-380 Airbus, which has been fitted with an enviable, built-in duty free shop for premium passengers.

The first of 10 super jumbos on order was delivered by the French aeronautical manufacturer in Seoul this week.

With 407 seats, including 12 first-class suites, 94 business-class seats and 301 in economy, the Korean national carrier also boasts the lowest number of seats.

The world’s sixth largest carrier is scheduled to receive nine additional A380s over the next three years. And in a bid to rival Singapore Airlines, Korean will actively woo business travellers into the jaws of the plane’s entire upper deck.

The aircraft is Airbus’s eighth A380 delivered this year out of a proposed assembly line of 24 in 2011. There are now a total of 49 A380s flying the global skies.

AUSTRALIAN CONSUMERS EMBRACE NEW INVITATION ONLY TRAVEL DEAL SITE, TRAVELCANDY.COM.AU, Australia’s specialist invitation-only travel club is signing up members so fast that they have had to hire two new staff members to cope with demand. CEO Sam Friend says, “We always thought there was a need for hand picked travel deals but we had no idea just how popular it would be in the Australian market. We have been pleasantly surprised by the response and we have had to grow rapidly to accommodate the demand.”

The site, which has only been live for three months, has already signed up over 10,000 members, lwith numbers growing steadily each day.

Friend attributes the surge in numbers to the power of word of mouth and increased consumer demand for handpicked travel deals and quality content. “Wotif’s offering is largely the same as it was 10 years ago, no reviews, generic content but good at processing bookings. We are about inspiring people to get more balance, take a holiday and plan it in advance to save some money.”

“Australians are very comfortable with purchasing in advance if they are getting a great deal. On our site, we sell limited numbers of exclusive holiday experiences at extremely good prices. We have sold everything from Daintree Ecolodge escapes to Sydney Harbour Sailing packages. We have one customer who has bought something every week!”

For further information or to sign up for a free VIP membership, please visit

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What Ash Cloud?


Travel Insurance Group Raises Concerns Over Ash Cloud Flight Guidelines

"A myth" says Ryanair chief

Travel insurance provider says safety must be put ahead of profit as airlines push for more lenient guidelines for flying through ash clouds.

After clouds of volcanic ash caused the cancellation of 1600 flights in Scotland, England and Germany this week, the heads of two of Europe's biggest airlines have questioned the need to close airspace.

Both Ryanair and British Airways flew test flights through areas that Britain's Met' Office said contained extremely high densities of ash, without ill effect.

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary went as far as to describe the ash clouds as a myth.

In an opinion piece published on the, travel safety specialist Phil Sylvester said,

"Mr. O'Leary might be right. I hope he's acting on the advice of his aircraft engineers, but it worries me when travel safety decisions are influenced by people who have one eye on the bottom line."

Mr. Sylvester said his concerns were sparked when he read reports that the British Transport Secretary had made changes to guidelines, allowing aircraft to fly under areas of high ash density, after lobbying from the airline chiefs.

"Of the thousands of people inconvenienced by Grimsvotn's eruption, I didn't hear one of them insisting their plane should fly regardless of safety doubts," said Mr. Sylvester. "The only people making that demand are the bosses of British Airways and Ryanair."

"These would be the same two businessmen who were part of an industry that incurred losses of $1.7 billion dollars when that other ash cloud closed European airspace in 2010. They are under enormous pressure to make sure that doesn't happen again; the very existence of their businesses depends on it." Mr. Sylvester said.

While acknowledging that it wasn't in the best business interests of the airlines to put passenger safety at risk, Mr. Sylvester said he is worried by the apparent process.

He added, "We could organize a conga line of scientists from both sides of this argument to take part in an enormous game of  'yes it is safe - no it isn't', but are you comfortable with profit-and-loss being part of the equation?"

Read more about Volcanic Ash & Safety Decisions
Phil Sylvester is a journalist and travel safety specialist at travel insurance provider based in Australia. He can be contacted for comment at 


Novotel Auckland Airport was officially opened today by King Tuheitia and New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, in a traditional dawn ceremony. The launch of the innovative hotel – just 50 metres from the international terminal – comes just over 100 days from the kick-off of the World Cup, and will provide a huge confidence boost to New Zealand tourism after the devastating Christchurch earthquake earlier this year.

One of New Zealand's most significant new hotels

The $65 million hotel project has been developed by one of New Zealand's largest Maori entities, Tainui Group Holdings, in partnership with Auckland Airport and Accor, who operate the hotel.

Auckland Airport handles over 13 million passengers annually, projected to grow to 24 million by 2025, with 73% of all international visitors to New Zealand arriving or departing from Auckland. That figure is expected to grow substantially in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake, making the opening of the Novotel highly strategic for the country's short-term and long-term tourism needs.

It will also significantly benefit most international visitors, as many flights to Auckland arrive late at night and connections to key regional airports are not till the following morning. International flights departing Auckland often leave early in the morning, making an overnight stay at the airport necessary, especially as it can take up to an hour's drive to reach downtown Auckland.

A contemporary, stylish hotel that pays homage to New Zealand's heritage and traditional culture

"For the majority of visitors to New Zealand, the Novotel is the first and last impression they have of the country, so the design of the Novotel has been infused with subtle references to New Zealand's natural environment, culture, art and heritage," says General Manager, Paul Columbus. "We believe it will be a showcase for the best New Zealand has to offer.

"Part of the New Zealand experience is the close encounter with nature, so the hotel has been surrounded with distinctive indigenous plants, including Pohutakawa (NZ Christmas) trees, while the triangular architectural features of the building are designed to reflect the bows of traditional Maori 'waka' canoes, which first arrived here at Manukau Harbour many hundreds of years ago."

There is a distinct green theme in the hotel's lobby where guests are greeted by a 'living wall' of indigenous plants that are nurtured by a hydroponic system.  All the timbers used in the Novotel are 100% FSC-accredited Southland maple beech, which are harvested on a sustainably-managed basis, and are part of the hotel's commitment to become a fully certified Earthcheck hotel. Major effort has also been made to reduce energy and water usage in the hotel's daily operations.

The design of the hotel has been undertaken by leading New Zealand architect and designer, Warren & Mahoney. Some of New Zealand's most promising designers and artists have been commissioned to work on the hotel's fit-out, and the locally-produced items range from a vast, self-supporting spiral steel staircase in the lobby to a Maori patterned 'Patiki' screen in the restaurant, designed to represent abundance and 'manaakitanga' (caring for people).

While paying homage to the past and to Maori heritage, the Novotel is also very much a reflection of contemporary New Zealand, with the latest in communication technologies, including full arrival and departure monitors in the lobby to ensure that guests are kept fully informed of the latest plane movements.

A room that features the latest interior design trends and anticipates new ones

Novotel Auckland Airport is the first hotel in the Pacific region to have Novotel's new NEXT concept room. The room  has been designed to give a maximum impression of spaciousness and freedom of movement. The bathroom is a key design feature and marks a significant shift from traditional hotel rooms.  It is separated from the rest of the room by a transparent glass partition that can be covered by an internal privacy screen.

Windows are larger than standard and are double glazed so that there is no noise even from an Airbus A380 taking off. The lighting systems provide light where guests most need it. The bed is one of the new room's fundamental and most striking features and central to all guest activities: sleeping, working or reading.  The bed is raised and framed by an upholstered headboard that follows the contours of the back perfectly, while providing another opportunity for New Zealand theming, with images of the graceful, undulating indigenous toi toi grasses  

"We offer the most innovative connectivity with a proper working desk and communications panel that can help convert a room into a mobile office,"  says Columbus. "We will also eventually be able to introduce room access via mobile phone – the first in New Zealand – so that a guest will be able to get off the plane and go straight into their room.

"A key to an airport hotel is its flexibility. Hence our 263 rooms offer everything from deluxe suites to superbly designed accessible rooms, which have been designed in consultation with experts rather than being just after-thoughts.

"Fitness is an important part of an airport hotel experience, so our in-Balance Fitness gym has the most sophisticated equipment and we will also have special facilities for airline crews."

Destination attractions

There are a surprising number of activities in close proximity to the airport. Wine tastings and dinners can be organised at one of New Zealand's most renowned wineries, Villa Maria, and Butterfly Creek is a vast tourist park offering everything from a tropical butterfly house with over 750 species to New Zealand's only saltwater crocodiles.

A comprehensive meetings hub

A major feature of the hotel is its conference centre, with 12 meeting rooms, capable of hosting conferences for up to 315 delegates theatre style

An international restaurant offering the finest in local cuisine and wines

The Square restaurant offers all-day dining, with a menu featuring the finest in local produce. The Novotel is just a short drive from one of New Zealand's most famous vineyards, Villa Maria, and the wine list contains many Auckland-based premium wines. Novotel Auckland features specially designed individual dining pods for solo diners, with private TV screens so guests can watch a full range of programming while they eat. There is also a separate private dining area for small groups.

Special Opening Deal Rates start from NZ$179 per night, but until the end of August, a 25% discount is offered on all fully flexible rates. Bookings: or via Accor Reservations Service or through travel agents.

The Novotel Auckland Airport is managed by Accor, New Zealand's largest hotel group with over 30 hotels in operation. Accor will open a second hotel at Auckland Airport later in the year – Formule 1 Auckland Airport. Hotel brands operated by Accor in New Zealand include Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, All Seasons and Ibis.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fiji Orchid Blooms


In a scene reminiscent of that ‘80s beer commercial “They said you’d never make it”, Jenny and Peter Bourke built their dream of luxury Fiji on a run-down remote island in the middle of nowhere that no one wanted to touch.

Fiji born and bred, Jenny, reels in laughter when she recalls her first ITB in Berlin 20 years ago when she masqueraded as a Tahitian to poach business leads from the better prepared French Polynesians.

“It was hilarious,” she says, her normally serene demeanor breaking into a girlish giggle, “I came to the biggest travel show in the world with a box of brochures and no idea. ‘What have you got me into!’ I screamed at my husband. But I learned quick.”

“Dan Costello (Fiji Beachcomber and doyen of Fiji hospitality) famously said to me ‘You know nothing about the industry. How on earth do you think you’re going to make it work?”

The saga of Nukubati Island is well known in hospitality circles, and it’s a story with a happy ending. Tripadvisor now rates the all-inclusive private island resort 100% positive with a 2011 Travellers’ Choice award to boot.

But Jenny and Peter couldn’t rest on their laurels and the Fiji Orchid was born. Not as a swank resort or destination spa, but as a comfortable transit lodge just a few minutes from Nadi airport for guests on their way to or from an outer island experience.

“As so many of these stories start, it began with a coincidence,” Jenny told HM. “I was working with Don Burness, the horticulturalist, on gardens for Nukubati while he was living in the old Raymond Burr house on Saweni Beach.”

“Well, this place was divine. Okay, needed some work, but the potential was immediate and I said almost playfully to Don ‘If you ever want to sell …’ and well, 12 years later I bought it.”

The couple began to transform the two main buildings into dining and reception areas and added six luxury bures. The formal opening was in early 2010 and already the Fiji Orchid has gathered glowing reviews. Among the five acres of lavish gardens (with orchids, of course) there’s a pool, the 20-seat Raymond’s Restaurant, bar, lounge, ornate meeting room and a small spa treatment bure. The property even has its own helipad for guests transferring to private islands.

The back story is of course the Raymond Burr connection. The Canadian-born actor, best known for his TV dramas, Perry Mason and Ironside, was a keen gardener with interests in wine and art. His love of Fiji was part climate and part seclusion. Like so many Hollywood types of the ‘50s and ‘60s, they craved privacy and in Fiji, no one knew him. Here he could relax and be with his long-time partner away from prying eyes and gossiping tongues. His handsome portrait hangs in the restaurant with an obvious look of approval.

Jenny’s very personal style of hospitality extends to the way she conducts business and she has largely eschewed the online travel agents, working mainly through ‘traditional channels’.

“Everyone knows how things work in cycles here in Fiji,” says Jenny, who has formal qualifications in economics, “and even when others are slashing rates we stick to ours. Sure, we’ll value-add, but we won’t discount. I’d rather suffer the short term pain.”

Jenny admits she’ll be using online distribution shortly, but with strict channel management. For now there is no urgency as occupancy is exceeding expectations.

Single or double day rooms are FJD$350 + tax for seven hours or FJD$550 + tax for overnight with a 12 noon checkout. Includes transfers to Nadi airport, Denarau or Lautoka.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Southern Highland's best kept secret is out Gibraltar Hotel, Bowral opens to wide acclaim

Nestled on 100-acres, among century old elm and pine trees and under the shadow of Bowral's iconic Mt Gibraltar, is the new Gibraltar Hotel, the most luxurious and modern hotel accommodation available in NSW's Southern Highlands.

Just one and half hours easy drive from Sydney and Canberra, Gibraltar Hotel offers 76 luxurious suites each with vistas of beautiful Bowral woodland or Mt Gibraltar itself.

The Hotel also features a challenging 18-hole golf course, the largest conference centre in the region with a unique, elegant ballroom, 6 breakout meeting rooms, a wedding chapel with a full organ, as well as its own heated indoor swimming pool, cardio centre and luxurious Day Spa and Grooming Lounge.

Owner John Uliana says: "We wanted to create a destination where guests can simply relax and enjoy the Resort's facilities or venture out and take pleasure in some of the many activities the Southern Highland's has to offer."

"Guests can enjoy cuisine from the Hotel's restaurant, Gibraltar Grill, or dine in Harvey's Bar overseen by internationally acclaimed Food & Beverage Manager, UgoBisognoand Chef, Jonas Ottosson," says Uliana.  "Ugo and Jonas have cleverly blended a mix of contemporary Australian fare with an international touch to deliver a menu which utilises fresh local produce, and is accompanied by a selection of the best Southern Highland cold climate and Australian wines available."

Ottosson's famous Grill is a key draw card for local and visiting food aficionados.  Returning to the Highlands after a stint overseas, Gibraltar Grill is fast becoming renowned for featuring prime meat cooked to absolute perfection.

"It's all about attention to detail so our guests can enjoy their steak just as they like it, every time" says Ottosson. "

Gibraltar's modern décor is an eclectic mix of Indian artefacts, paintings and sculptures by local Bowral artists, and New York City Chic.

"It's a true blend of city chic meets country warmth with its individual stamp of luxury and comfort which will be appreciated by every guest and visitor," says Uliana.

Surrounded by Gibraltar Country Club's challenging 18-hole golf course, the Hotel will appeal to golf enthusiasts wanting to enjoy a round or two during their stay.

"After a challenging day on the golf course, visitors can relax and enjoy the cocktail of the day or a glass of award-winning wine in Harvey's Bar, named after one of Australia's best  loved musicians and local Bowral resident, Geoff Harvey," says Uliana.

Harvey's Bar is open daily from 11am with live entertainment each Friday and Saturday night.

"It's fast becoming a favoured spot for Hotel guests and locals alike," says Uliana.  "Enjoy a lingering glass of wine while listening to Geoff tinkering on the ivory keys…. it simply doesn't get more relaxing than that. "

Gibraltar Hotel is close to over 60 Southern highland's wineries, 16 cellar doors, Bradman's International Cricket Hall of Fame, antique trails and Gibbergunyah Walking track where walkers can mingle with kangaroos, echidnas and wombats before returning for a meal at the hotel's landmark Gibraltar Grill.

The Gibraltar Hotel offers a number of affordable packages which combine meals, spa, and golf and of course, a stay in one of its elegant suites.

The specially commissioned and designed   AH Beard Continental King beds are so comfortable the Hotel claims guests have been known to ask to purchase the bed or pillows on leaving.  The spacious suites all feature digital flat screens TVs, Wi-Fi, glorious resort-like marble bathrooms including plush towels and robes.

"We know our suites are the most comfortable, relaxed and stylish in the Southern Highlands," says Uliana, "and we look forward to welcoming you to the Highland's best kept secret soon!" 

For more information, visit

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lonely Planet Axes Aussie Jobs in UK Move

Travel guide publisher Lonely Planet is cutting staff numbers and moving its online division from Melbourne to London, but will keep its Footscray headquarters, Fairfax media reports today.

The report says the move is part of a restructure that will see 60 to 70 jobs go - some 15 per cent of total global staff.

Chief executive Matt Goldberg is quoted as saying: "Lonely Planet is facing a series of financial challenges from external forces beyond our control – a sluggish global economy, the troubled retail sector, a declining print market and, quite significantly, the effects of the strong Australian dollar".

The company blames the strong dollar for revenues losses of $13m in the year to March.

Founded in 1973 by Melburnians Tony and Maureen Wheeler, Lonely Planet is now owned by British broadcaster BBC Worldwide.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grand Mercure Mount Lofty House continues Meteoric Rise

by Roderick Eime in Adelaide

When the smoke cleared, over 2000 square kilometres of South Australia lay scorched by some of the worst bushfires in over a century. Firestorms comparable to wartime incendiary bombing destroyed many hundreds of properties, tens of thousands of head of livestock and left 28 South Australians dead.

That day, 16 February 1983, became known as Ash Wednesday and James Morgan and his young family, the new owners of Mount Lofty House at Crafers, were fortunate to escape with their lives. They lost everything and the 130-year-old manor home was reduced to a blackened shell.

Devastated, the Morgans sold up and the new owners undertook a three-year restoration and renovation, re-opening the ‘new’ Mount Lofty House as a guest lodge with just eight rooms and a restaurant named after the famous founding family who built the original house, the Hardys. There was also the Arthur Waterhouse Lounge and John Richardson Room with the Tiers Bar and Lounge areas before an additional 21 rooms and public areas were added in 1988.

In 1993, the property changed hands again and further improvements were made which quickly catapulted Mount Lofty House into the limelight as a premium bridal, function and dining venue, gathering numerous awards. Another freshen-up took place in 2002, all of which apparently met with the approval of resident ghost George, a former carriage-man and gardener, whose benign presence some guests claim to have noticed near rooms seven and eight.

Current earthly owners, David Horbelt and Malcolm Bean, both established and well-regarded hoteliers, purchased the 4.5 star Grand Mercure Mount Lofty House in May 2009 from Accor Première Vacation Club and immediately spent a further $500,000 on improvements including the installation of Jessie Sheehan (ex-Rydges Melbourne) as GM with Mat Downs (ex-Sydney) joining soon after as Director of Sales. Horbelt and Bean now maintain the successful Accor relationship under a franchise agreement.

The success continued with revenue growth of 42 percent in the first 12 months and yet further enhancements are planned.

“When we finish at the end of the year, we’ll have achieved the level of Victorian, up-scale boutique property David and I envisaged,” Bean told HM. “In that form we may consider the Accor M Gallery brand, although the local flavour and regional (Adelaide Hills) ‘brand’ is working equally well. There is nothing like this property in Adelaide, perhaps even Australia, especially when you consider it is just 15 minutes from the CBD. ”

Horbelt, a known wine connoisseur, planted a second vineyard of terraced grapes to complement the existing Chardonnay fruit already producing the award-winning Piccadilly Restaurant’s house white. The first Pinot Noir vintage will be served in the next twelve months as a perfect accompaniment to the hotel’s own organic produce and renowned Adelaide Hills food and Tomich wines.

Overlooking the picturesque Piccadilly Valley, Grand Mercure Mount Lofty House is located at 74 Mt Lofty Summit Road, Crafers. The hotel will host the ‘Tasting at the Top’ gourmet food event on 17 June featuring a six-course degustation menu created by Piccadilly Restaurant’s Executive Chef, Girard Ramsay.

For further information, visit

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 Puts the Power of Connecting with Millions in the Hands of Hotels with the Launch of a Brand New Hotel Editing Tool and Premium Hotel Listing

“Hotels are rewarded with a free one month premium listing when they sign up for account and answer a few questions about their property.”

Travel comparison site today launched yet another groundbreaking marketing tool providing hoteliers greater control of the appearance of their property’s listing on the popular site. Hotels are now able to manage and update property details including images, descriptions, amenities and location maps instantly using Wego’s specially designed editing tools.

Hotels can take ownership of their listing by creating their own account on and with the launch of the Premium Hotel Listings product, properties can now also add their website URL, contact details and also highlight special offers on and sites powered by Wego.

These listing tools place the power of instant connection with millions of Wego travelers, directly into the hands of property managers without paying any commissions. Hoteliers can sign up to manage their hotel listing and receive a free premium listing by visiting

“We recognise the need for hotel owners to be able to market their direct booking channels and special offers on Wego. A lot of Wego travelers also express a preference to make their bookings on the hotels own website,” explained Craig Hewett, Founder & CCO of

Andrew Hickey Vice President for Rooms, Resorts World Sentosa applauds the tool. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult for hotels to get noticed online so we welcome Wego’s Premium listings as a tool for us to stand out from our competitors,” he said.

Wego’s Premium Hotel Listings are sold on a flat-fee subscription basis, with costs varying based upon a property’s number of rooms. Rates start from $25 per month.

Hotel Special Offers are created in minutes with a choice of customised pre-built offers, including:
  • Percentage discount on room
  • Dollar discount on room
  • Room upgrade
  • Food and beverage credits
  • Complimentary Value Adds (e.g free internet access)
  • Advance purchase rates
  • Free night Stays (e.g. stay 3, pay 2)
Special offers can be configured to be redeemable either online as part of the booking process, or as printed coupons to be redeemed on arrival. The special offers will be displayed prominently on relevant hotel search result pages and on’s weekly deals newsletters giving greater visibility and opportunities for conversion. continues to break barriers to provide the hotel industry with the ultimate sales and marketing tools, delivering customers directly to your door with the lowest distribution costs.

Seventh A380 Enters into Service with Lufthansa

San Francisco served daily by an A380

Lufthansa’s seventh A380 enters into service as scheduled. The aircraft (registration DAIMG, “Mike Golf”), which was ferried to Frankfurt from the Airbus plant at Hamburg-Finkenwerder last weekend, will further increase Lufthansa’s capacity.

From yesterday, 10 May, it will be deployed daily on the Frankfurt – San Francisco route. A total of seven A380s will now take off daily for five destinations. Lufthansa flight attendants will welcome passengers aboard an A380 70 times per week – on the airline’s routes between Frankfurt and Johannesburg, New York, Beijing, Tokyo and now also San Francisco. Each week, almost 37,000 passengers will have an opportunity to fly on a Lufthansa A380.

Lufthansa expects to take delivery of the eighth aircraft of this type next month. Another two A380s will be delivered in 2012. The airline has ordered a total of 15 Airbus A380s.

Most fuel-efficient aircraft
The Airbus A380 is the world’s most fuel-efficient aircraft, burning about 12 percent less fuel than other wide-body jets, and is approximately 30 percent quieter than the current generation of wide-body aircraft. Currently, Lufthansa provides A380 service to Tokyo, Beijing, Johannesburg, and New York, and will begin service to Miami on June 10, 2011. The airline has ordered a total of 15 A380 aircraft, all scheduled for delivery by 2015. This will make Lufthansa the largest A380 operator in Europe.

Lufthansa’s A380 is configured with 526 seats and features the airline’s new First Class product. Located on the upper deck, the First Class cabin is the quietest in commercial aviation and boasts an air humidification system – the first of its kind to be installed on a commercial aircraft – that improves air humidity to help fight off jet lag. Two large, luxurious bathrooms with separate changing and lavatory areas offer enhanced personal space and storage. The cabin’s eight generously proportioned, ergonomic seats measure 6’9” feet in length and 2’7” feet in width and provide the ultimate in comfort and innovation for an exceptional travel experience.

Also located on the upper deck is the award-winning Business Class cabin with 98 seats featuring improved functionality, including more storage and a power supply that works with all worldwide connections.

The main deck is home to an impressively spacious Economy Class cabin. Each of its 420 seats features an in-seat video screen, an optimized ergonomic design and a slimmer seat back that adds two inches of personal space per passenger.

All the details on the Lufthansa A380 are available at

Galaxy Hotel Joins Worldhotels

Galaxy Hotel™, the signature hotel of Galaxy Macau™ – the newest five-star integrated destination resort in Macau – has joined Worldhotels, the global network for independent and unique properties. With 1,500 magnificently appointed guest rooms, including 150 suites, Galaxy Hotel is scheduled to open together with the highly anticipated Galaxy Macau on May 15, 2011.

The palatial new HK$14.9 billion Galaxy Macau brings its “World Class, Asian Heart” approach to the Cotai entertainment area with a focus on authentic Asian-style hospitality and true resort features – both firsts for the market. Featuring the world’s largest skytop wave pool, the sensational 52,000 square-meter Grand Resort Deck also includes a 350-ton white sand beach, offering guests the ultimate in relaxation amidst a landscape of magnificent pools and lush gardens. Galaxy Macau will have more than 50 food and beverage outlets, with the widest selection of pan-Asian cuisine under one roof, as well as vibrant bars, lounges and retail boulevards, to present a leisure experience unmatched in the city.

Representing an evolution in resort accommodation, Galaxy Hotel provides luxurious five-star amenities throughout its 1,500 contemporarily-designed rooms, complete with stunning views. The rooms also afford guests a level of deep comfort that conveys the kind of respect only a host with true Asian Heart can present.

Located just a short stroll from the glitz and glamour of Cotai, Macau’s hottest and most dynamic tourism and leisure destination, Galaxy Hotel is only a 5-minute drive from Macau International Airport and Taipa Ferry Terminal.

Owned and operated by Galaxy Entertainment Group (“GEG”, or “the Group” – HKEx stock code: 00027), Galaxy Hotel will join its sister property, the luxurious Five-Star Diamond StarWorld Hotel and Casino, as Worldhotels’ second affiliate in Macau.

Welcoming Galaxy Hotel as a Deluxe Collection affiliate, Worldhotels Vice President Asia-

Pacific Roland Jegge said, “Galaxy Hotel, and the entire Galaxy Macau development, is setting a distinctive Asian-style hospitality benchmark in Asia’s gaming and entertainment capital.”

Mr. Heinz Roelz, Director – Hotels & Hospitality for Galaxy Macau, said, “Worldhotels is a network for unique properties, and both Galaxy Macau and Galaxy Hotel fit that description in every way. This is the only true destination resort in Macau and the first authentically Asian property of its kind anywhere. We are excited about the prospect of opening our doors to the world on May 15, and we are delighted to do so as part of the Worldhotels network.”

Arab Arrested After Cockpit Invasion Thwarted

by Peter Needham -

An apparently crazed passenger holding a Yemeni passport rushed down the aisle and tried to break into the locked cockpit of an American Airlines flight from Chicago bound for San Francisco.

The man, identified as Rageh Ahmed Mohammed Al-Murisi, 28, was brought down when crewmembers and passengers – including a retired Secret Service agent – acted together.

He was charged in US District Court in San Francisco with interfering with a flight crew and is due to appear in court with an Arabic interpreter, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Almost immediately, relatives of the accused in the US came forward, telling media that he wasn’t a terrorist, he was a “nice guy” who spoke limited English.

Authorities said flight safety was not compromised. Passengers reported Al-Murisi was mumbling and then yelling “God is great” in Arabic – not something to put passengers’ minds at ease in the current climate.

Cockpit doors on US passenger aircraft have been fortified since the deadly terrorist attacks of 11 September 2011, in which hijackers armed with boxcutter knives gained control of four planes.

The latest incident comes at a time of heightened security, with concerns that terrorists might try to attack the US in retaliation for the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Yemen is home to renegade Yemeni American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a fanatical Islamist believed to have masterminded two attempts to bomb US-bound aircraft since 2009.

These are twitchy times in US skies. At the weekend, a man tried to open a door during a Continental Airlines flight from Houston to Chicago. The flight landed safely in St Louis, where the man was arrested and charged.

And last Friday, security fears saw three imams, including an American Muslim, evicted from a US domestic flight (on the ground). Ironically, they had been heading for a conference on Islamophobia.

Upgraded online booking system for tickets to Machu Picchu

Tourists can now book and pay for tickets to visit Peru's leading attraction, Machu Picchu, from anywhere in the world thanks to an upgraded online booking system. 

From the end of April tourists can now simply go to, reserve tickets, pay by VISA, print out tickets and go directly to the Historic Sanctuary.

Peru's Tourism Board coordinator for Asia Pacific, Rosana Guinea comments:  "Having an online booking portal where tourists anywhere in the world can plan trips to Machu Picchu does make it a lot easier.  It also allows us to understand the visitor profile to Machu Picchu as we capture information such as nationality, age and gender. 

We also plan to develop this site further with more information and have other cultural tours and activities available to book."

Machu Picchu is on everyone's wish list when booking a trip to Peru and 2011 is a very important year as it marks 100 years since the American explorer and politician, Hiram Bingham, rediscovered this lost city of the Incas for the world to see. 

The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu remains Peru's top tourist attraction and the first quarter of 2011 saw visits to Machu Picchu increase by 33,000 people compared to the first quarter of 2009 to 127,963 visitors (figures are compared to 2009 and 2010 as the citadel was closed between January and April 2010 due to heavy rain and mudslides).

Online booking site: 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Merpati Indonesian Air Crash

Identical Type Xian MA60 aircraft in Merpati colours


Officials in Indonesia have told state-run Merpati Nusantara Airlines to stop buying the Chinese-made Xian MA-60 aircraft involved in a Saturday’s fatal crash. The airline last year announced an order for 15 new Chinese-made turboprop planes, 13 of which have been delivered. In the wake of the crash of a Merpati MA-60 in West Papua last weekend however, Members of Indonesia’s House of Representatives have urged an immediate investigation into the planes.

“If the aircraft are not proper to fly, we have to return the 13 planes and cancel the purchasing order of two more planes,” the Jakarta Post quoted house member Ahmad Muzani as saying.

The West Papua crash was the third safety incident affecting a Merpati MA-60 since their delivery. Local news portal, reported that an electrical problem affected one of Merpati’s MA-60s in West Nusa Tenggara province in July 2010, while in February this year another MA-60 skidded off the runway at Kupang airport in East Nusa Tenggara. Philippine-based low-cost carrier, Zest Air has also experienced two incidents with its MA-60s, including one occasion in 2009 when a plane veered sharply on landing, before colliding with a concrete barrier. Other safety incidents involving the aircraft have been reported in Africa and South America, involving Air Zimbabwe and TAM Bolivia.

Merpati’s safety record is also questionable however; in 2009 one of its Twin Otter planes crashed in West Papua province, killing all 16 people on board, and in April last year a Boeing 737 operated by the airline overshot the runway at Manokwari in West Papua, injuring 44 people. Merpati is one of the Indonesian airlines still on the EU aviation blacklist.

Meanwhile it has been reported that the flight data recorder from Saturday’s crash has been discovered. The cause of the incident is still unclear, but bad weather has been cited as a possible factor. All 27 passengers and crew died when the plane crashed into the sea 500 metres short of the runway at Utarung Kaimana airport in West Papua province.

More: Aviation Safety report

Tourists make lucky escape as another boat sinks in Vietnam's Halong Bay

Heavy traffic on Halong Bay (file picture)


A group of French travelers had a lucky escape in Vietnam when their tour boat sank on Halong Bay, the party's leader said on Monday, in an eerie echo of an accident earlier this year that killed 12.

There were no injuries in the latest incident, which involved 28 French tourists on Sunday afternoon at the popular visitor attraction, said Josette Farret, a 65-year-old who was among those on board.

“We felt that there were some technical problems before the departure of the boat, which was in poor condition,” she said.

According to Dang Huy Hau, government vice-president in Quang Ninh province, the boat went down after a collision with another craft delivering water, but Farret insisted there was “absolutely no collision”.

Hau said an investigation would be conducted after the boat is salvaged.

“Everybody aboard the tourist vessel was transferred to another boat before it completely sank,” he said.

In Vietnam's worst tourism accident, 11 tourists and their guide died in February when a boat sank in Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its stunning limestone cliffs, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Hanoi.

A senior provincial official said water leakage resulting from human error was the most likely cause. The boat's captain and engineer were arrested for investigation over alleged safety violations.

The local travel agency that organized the February tour was unlicensed and the tour guide unregistered, officials said.

After the tragedy, a safety inspection of 135 tour boats found 98 with a variety of minor technical or safety problems, Hau said, adding that owners of the boats had been ordered to correct the problems immediately.

Jonathan Galaviz, a tourism sector economist at Galaviz & Co. consultancy, said in February that the fatal sinking was an indication of a continued lack of attention to safeguards.

“Safety standards for tourism must be taken seriously by the Vietnamese government if the country wants to protect its long-term tourism image,” he said.

“The public relations impact of incidents such as these are far and wide.”

Travel to the Moon by 2015

Russian Soyuz Spacecraft

World's first space tourism agency Space Adventures plans to offer the first trip around the moon as early as 2015, the company announced on Thursday.

The Virginia-based space travel firm, which is the only company to have booked and offered commercial rides to the International Space Station, will double the room in the Soyuz spacecraft for the flights.

Soyuz spaceship, which was provided by Russia's Federal Space Agency, has carried seven passengers since 2001 to Space.

A trip for two around the moon in the bigger spaceship will cost around $150 million per passenger.

According to Space Adventures, the circumlunar trip will require at least two months of training to help familiarize the passengers with spacecraft and the outer space environment.

As commercial space travel continues to draw private investment, Space Adventures officials expect the lunar trip to be a landmark in the history of space exploration.

"The moon holds a special place in all of our hearts. It's a symbol of the space future that humanity wishes for, a symbol of our curiosity, and something that we see every night. When the private moon mission launches, the eyes of the world will truly be upon those people, and it will truly be an extraordinary event," said the company's chairman Eric Anderson.


Air Tahiti Nui launches May specials

Air Tahiti Nui and Viva! Holidays are offering hot new deals on a selection of Tahiti holiday packages and fares booked in May.   

The "You Deserve Tahiti" packages from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane include return Economy Class flights with Air Tahiti Nui, transfers, accommodation and multiple bonuses.     

4 nights Tahiti from AUD$1555 ex MEL, $1575 ex SYD and $1579 ex BNE: For a short break you can't surpass this package which includes four nights for the price of three at the Radisson Plaza Resort in a Deluxe Ocean View Room plus a bonus gift from Radisson Le Spa.

7 nights Tahiti & Moorea from AUD $2150 ex MEL, $2169 ex SYD and $2175 ex BNE: Experience the beauty of Tahiti and Moorea with a night at the Manava Suite Resort Tahiti at either end of your holiday, and 5 nights in between at the Moorea Pearl Resort in a Garden View Room, with bonus daily breakfasts. 

7 nights Tahiti & Moorea from AUD $2439 ex MEL, $2459 ex SYD and $2465 ex BNE: Spoil yourself with 2 nights at Manava Suite Resort Tahiti on arrival and departure, and 5 nights at the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa in a Garden Bungalow with a private plunge pool.  This package includes bonus daily breakfasts in Moorea. 

7 nights Tahiti & Bora Bora from AUD $3045 ex MEL, $3059 ex SYD and $3069 ex BNE: Indulge in the ultimate island getaway with 2 nights at Manava Suite Resort Tahiti, 5 nights at Le Maitai Polynesia, Bora Bora in a Garden View room, and bonus daily breakfasts, lunches and dinners in Bora Bora. 

Air Tahiti Nui is also offering the "Magical Autumn Special" with return airfares from $AU1227 per person ex Sydney. These fares include pre-payable taxes.   

Packages and airfares must be booked before 23 May 2011 and are subject to availability.   

The autumn airfare is valid for departures between 1 May and 15 December, 2011. 

The Radisson Plaza Resort package is valid for travel from 16 August to 15 December 2011 and all other packages are valid from 1 November to 15 December, 2011.   

Packages are priced per person, twin share.   

To book the packages call Viva Holidays on 13 14 15 or visit or  For more information on the airfare contact your travel agent or Air Tahiti Nui on 1300 732 415. 

Flights to Tahiti are with Air Tahiti Nui, the international airline of Tahiti and her islands.

Five-Star Organic Retreat Opens At Khao Sok

Nestled among a plethora of palm trees under the soaring karst limestone mountains of Khao Sok National Park, Thanyamundra launches this Spring as a one-of-a-kind luxury retreat on a working organic farm.

The first-ever organic boutique resort in southern Thailand offers nine Asian antique filled rooms and suites in two modern, Thai inspired villas. Formerly the home of a European entrepreneur committed to health, fitness and sustainable living, Thanyamundra has been reimagined to deliver the finest hotel service, gourmet organic cuisine, and holistic wellness in one of Thailand's most breathtaking natural environments at the edge of one of Earth's oldest rainforests.

Two hours drive from Phuket International Airport, with its comprehensive regional and international air connections, Thanyamundra provides an easily accessible escape from urban life on the most intimate scale. Personal service under the leadership of butlers trained at some of Thailand's finest hotels, an English-speaking chef with an extensive Thai and international repertoire and talented massage therapists on call are matched at Thanyamundra by visiting experts and teachers, world renowned in their fields, from sports to yoga and meditation to environmental science and visual arts.

Thanyamundra's dedicated butlers lead their guests on arrival to the retreat's seven elegant guest rooms and two spacious master suites split across the two contemporary villas. All are fully equipped with modern comforts from high-speed wireless Internet and LCD flat screen televisions to Thai silk interiors and spacious private bathrooms with separate rain showers. Suites with generous terraces overlook the verdant panorama of rice paddies and fruit trees to the wild bamboo jungle and ancient rock formations of Khao Sok National Park.

At all times of the year, Thanyamundra welcomes its guests, limited to twenty at a time, to explore the groundbreaking 12 hectare (1600 square metre) organic farm with charismatic Pierre Larigaldie who oversees these visionary crop fields. Since Larigaldie began preparing the earth here four years ago, all plantings have been 100% organic and chemical free and today Thanyamundra's organic farm is the only one in southern Thailand with an Agricultural Certificate of Thailand (ACT), part of the International Organic Accreditation Service. Rows of aromatic Thai and Italian basil, dill, coriander and chilies run parallel to white and purple eggplants, red snake beans, winged peas, bitter gourd and morning glory, then onward to avocadoes, papaya, passion fruit, mango and a variety of banana trees. 

Reach down to taste ingredients like fresh rocket leaves straight from the earth for sublime edible memories not soon forgotten. Guests are encouraged to pick their produce under the guidance of Thanyamundra's dedicated chef who leads custom organic cooking classes back in the main villa's show kitchen. Learn to make Thai classics like tom yum goong hot & sour soup or kaeng kheow waan green curry from entirely organic ingredients. Linger over all Thanyamundra's fresh from the garden meals enhanced by sommelier selected Old and New World wines on the villa's panoramic terrace as butterflies of kaleidoscopic hues flutter past, in the elegant Chinese style dining room with high back polished wood chairs or at a table specially set up outside among the retreat's rustic natural charms, under the unpolluted, constellation filled sky.

Thanyamundra boasts a variety of invigorating fitness and leisure facilities. Swim laps or sun bathe alongside the 50-metre hilltop infinity pool, stay fit with the latest Technogym equipment in gym open around the clock, or take to the blissfully quiet surrounding roads for running or cycling. Equally restorative and invigorating are Thanyamundra's Thai and holistic spa treatments, meditation, yoga and Pilates sessions.

To take full advantage of the surrounding national park, join Thanyamundra's guided jungle trek with resident and visiting naturalists, in search of the lar gibbon whose females can be heard calling out on mist filled mornings, plus long-tailed macaque monkeys, Malay sun bears, tapirs, monitor lizards and even elephants and the endangered clouded leopard that inhabit Khao Sok National Park.

Guests who want to delve deeper into these exceptional natural surroundings may participate in the Thanyamundra Adventure Experience with river kayaking, tubing, lake swimming and elephant trekking inside the national park, active pursuits equally suited to corporate groups and incentive trips. In addition, individual guests or groups can work alongside the onsite farm team or reserve the entire farm to host uniquely memorable private functions for up to fifty.

Akino Nourdine
Sales & Marketing Representation for Thanyapura
Mobile: +61 45 865 7701

Saturday, May 7, 2011

SKYCITY GRAND Hotel ranked best 18th best hotel in the world

New Zealand Hotels are rated among the best in the world by the latest Expedia hotel rating survey, the Insiders' Select List.
Three New Zealand hotels were named in the top 100, clamied as a good sign for the tourism industry just months away from the beginning of the Rugby World Cup this spring.
Auckland's SKYCITY Grand is ranked 18th, with the Waterfront Suites in the Bay of Islands 34th and Mantra Marina in Queenstown at 64.
Since 2007, Expedia has polled its travellers and experts worldwide to compare a vast range of hotels and resorts in terms of service and experience and corresponding value for the consumer.
The Cedarbrook Lodge in suburban Seattle was labelled the respondents' favourite hotel, surpassing three southern Italian hotels - Rome's iQ Hotel Roma, Hotel Antiche Figure in Venice and Hotel Berchielli in Florence.
Louise Crompton, marketing manager, says: "For New Zealand to have an unprecedented three hotels in the top 100 is a great reflection of what New Zealand offers in terms of quality and value."
The full Expedia Insiders' Select list is available at

Celebrity Millennium to cruise in Australia and Asia in 2012

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has just announced the 2012 deployment of Celebrity Millennium, which will operate a series of Asian itineraries, visiting Australia on her way to Singapore during the previously announced down under deployment of Celebrity Solstice.

The 2158-passenger Millennium, which has previously spent several seasons cruising in Australia, will offer repositioning cruises from Hawaii to Sydney and from Sydney to Singapore, with the vessel fresh from an "extensive refurbishment" scheduled for April 2012 which will see the addition of 107 new AquaClass staterooms.

The Hawaii-Sydney sector will coincide with the November 2012 solar eclipse, while the vessel's newly announced Asian season includes eight 14-night cruises from Singapore and Hong Kong, with ports of call including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Halong Bay.

Millennium's new 2012/13 Asia itineraries will open for sale on Saturday 09 April.

Friday, May 6, 2011

New Best Western opens in Lake Taupo, NZ

Best Western is pleased to introduce their latest member property in Taupo, New Zealand. The Best Western Caboose Lodge & Conference Centre is perfectly positioned on the lakefront at Lake Taupo, with spectacular views across the lake, to the three volcanic cones of Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe.

The 40-room, four star Quarlmark rated hotel is within minutes of the town centre and airport. Rooms feature comfortable queen sized beds, tea and coffee making facilities, internet access, writing desk and chairs, a modern ensuite bathroom, complimentary toiletries, iron and ironing board, and hairdryer.

Guests can also enjoy the outdoor swimming pool and spa, small fitness room, and onsite bar and restaurant with a panoramic position overlooking the lake. The restaurant serves fresh cuisine, made from local produce including free-range meat and poultry products.

For more information on the Best Western Caboose Lodge and Conference Centre visit


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Novotel Auckland Airport set to take off on 27 May with GM Paul Columbus in the pilot's seat

Internationally experienced hotelier, Paul Columbus, has taken up the role of General Manager of the new Novotel Auckland Airport and is currently positioning it for a May 27 take-off.
The hotel will be officially launched by Maori King Tuheitia Paki and Prime Minister John Key in a traditional dawn blessing ceremony.
Paul Columbus brings over 30 years experience in hotel management, including 20 years in New Zealand with Millennium Copthorne Hotels and other groups in a variety of hotels, including a short stint at an Auckland Airport hotel.
He moved to the UK in the early 2000s, before joining Accor in 2003. Paul worked in a number of Novotel hotels in northern England, and was promoted to Area General Manager for Accor responsible for seven hotels in Yorkshire and the north-west of England.
The prospect of opening one of New Zealand's most dynamic new hotels proved too great an incentive for Paul and he returned to Auckland to pilot the launch of Novotel Auckland Airport.
"It is an incredible year to return to New Zealand," said Paul. "After the tragedy of the Christchurch earthquake I think it is incumbent on the rest of the country to ensure that 2011 is remembered for more positive reasons. We have a unique opportunity to showcase the country to the rest of the world during this period.
"The World Cup will be a remarkable event and the launch of Novotel Auckland Airport is going to play an important part in its successful staging. Auckland Airport will now be an even busier gateway for the country and we believe the Novotel will provide an exemplary first and last impression to visitors travelling to New Zealand for the World Cup.
"Obviously its role will go well beyond the World Cup and that's why it has been so cleverly designed with its sophisticated and multi-functional facilities. We will be able to offer everything from deluxe suites to affordable hotel rooms, along with extensive meeting and function venues, and a high-quality restaurant.
"It will be a showcase for local design, with a distinctly green tinge, including our unique 'living wall' that will greet guests as they arrive in the hotel's lobby."
The NZ$65 million Novotel Auckland Airport project is a joint venture between Tainui Group Holdings and Auckland International Airport, with Accor as the hotel operator.
The 263 room hotel has been designed by Warren & Mahoney Architects, and blends 21st century contemporary design and hi-tech features with subtle references to New Zealand culture and heritage,
With the opening of the Novotel – which will be followed by another Accor hotel,  Formule 1 Auckland Airport – Accor will extend its New Zealand hotel network to 31 – the largest network in the country.
Rates start from NZ$179 a night, but there is a special 25%-off opening deal till the end of June,
Further information:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New era for Virgin Australia - First Virgin aircraft (pictures)


First 'Virgin Australia' aircraft arrive

Virgin Blue has today officially rebranded as the VIrgin Australia Group of Airlines, with the much-hyped landing this morning of the first two aircraft carrying the long-awaited and much-rumoured new livery.

The 737 and A330 also reveal the design of the carrier's new economy and business calss cabins, which will be rolled out across the majority of the carrier's current domestic fleet by the end of the year.

DJ said the Business Class product which is already on sale on the A330 product between Sydney and Perth and which debuts 26 May, will also be available for sale on the Boeing 737-800 fleet "in the last quarter of 2011".

"Virgin Australia will provide a new standard of airline travel in Australia," said ceo John Borghetti.

"We have listened to what today's traveller wants from an airline and we are incorporating that into every feature and every part of our service, while maintaining competitive pricing," he added.

The 737-800 features Boeing's innovative 'Sky Interior' with larger overhead lockers, mood lighting and sculpted sidewalls to provide a feeling of spaciousness and light. Each 737 will have 8 business class seats in a 2-2 configuration in a separate premium cabin, with a 37 inch seat pitch. The 737s will also have 168 economy seats.

Virgin Australia's new A330s have 251 "luxury high comfort economy seats" as well as 27 business class seats with a 62 inch seat pitch.

The rebranding exercise will also see a single look and feel across all of its airlines - both domestic and international - with V Austraria and Pacific Blue to also operate under the Virgin Australia brand by the end of the year, Borghetti said.

The carrier will today launch a major national advertising campaign to reposition the airline in all sectors of the market.

For pictures of the new aircraft see

More information in today's Travel Daily.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


All Marriott Rewards members, no matter what level of the program they have achieved, will now receive complimentary in-room high-speed internet access at JW Marriott® Hotels & Resorts, Marriott® Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance Hotels® and Courtyard by Marriott® hotels in Asia Pacific, including Australia, China (including Hong Kong), Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

"Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region for Marriott Rewards, and we feel that complimentary high-speed internet access will make Marriott International hotels the first choice for business travellers," said Simon Cooper, President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Marriott International.  "You can't put a price on staying connected.  So we don't."

Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum elite members already receive free high-speed internet worldwide. Marriott Rewards is free to join and has no blackout dates on redemption stays. Members can earn and redeem points at more than 3,400 Marriott International hotels around the world, including Marriott® Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott® Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance® Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott®, Residence Inn by Marriott®, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott®, TownePlace Suites by Marriott®, SpringHill Suites by Marriott®, and Marriott Vacation Club®  as well as at participating Ritz-Carlton Hotels around the world.  Members can also redeem points for frequent flyer miles, cruises, car rentals, merchandise and more.

In Australia to make a reservation, please call (02) 8298 5250 or go to

William and Kate Postpone Honeymoon

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have postponed their honeymoon and plan to spend the weekend at a private location in the UK, before William returns to work next week, according to reports.

The newly married couple were spotted leaving the palace in a private helicopter which is rumoured to have taken them to the queen’s private residence, Balmoral.

Balmoral Castle on the Balmoral Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland has remained a favourite residence for The Queen and her family during the holiday periods. The Castle is located on the large Balmoral Estate, a working estate which aims to protect the environment while contributing to the local economy.

The newlywed’s decision to delay their honeymoon, which has caused some surprise, is thought to have been prompted by a wish to let the media surrounding the wedding calm down. There are also some speculation that it was prompted by security concerns.

According to a spokesperson “The couple have asked for their privacy to be respected during the coming weekend and during their honeymoon.”

It has now been revealed that the couple spent the first night after their wedding in the Belgian suite at Buckingham Palace which is usually reserved for heads of state.

The royal wedding was watched by an estimated two billion people in 200 countries around the world. More than 24 million people tuned in to watch the wedding on television in Britain alone.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places