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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Qantas/SriLankan Fares are Back

After a break of over a year, the popular Qantas / SriLankan fares to Colombo and beyond are again available in the market.  The fares will offer daily QF departures from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to Singapore or Hong Kong and additionally Qantas from Sydney to Bangkok.

Alan Wilcock, National Sales Manager for SriLankan Airlines said "It is great news that these fares are available once again.  The availability of these fares is well timed to coincide with a new double daily SriLankan frequency from Singapore to Colombo effective 23 December 2011".

The new fares also offer levels via Bangkok, where SriLankan now operate some 14 services per week to Colombo.  Inbound connections are  also very attractive  and these combine nicely with SriLankan's other fares with Malaysian, Emirates, Thai, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic.

SriLankan has also commenced direct services from Colombo into Moscow (DME ) from 19 September 2011 and also Zurich from 23 December  2011  

For enquiries call 1300 703 731     

New holiday ideas in Koh Samui as Hilton opens luxury hotel


Hilton Worldwide has announced the opening of Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand.

Located on the secluded Aow Thai Beach, the luxury villa resort joins its sister hotel, Conrad Bangkok, which recently celebrated its 8th anniversary in Thailand.

“Conrad Hotels & Resorts offers today’s affluent travellers a world of style, service, and connection with the luxury of being themselves,” said John Vanderslice, global head of luxury and lifestyle brands for Hilton Worldwide.

“Conrad Koh Samui personifies the Conrad spirit of individuality and commitment to service, and strengthens the brand’s presence in global gateway cities and most sought-after resort destinations.

Located 28 kilometres from the airport, Conrad Koh Samui is the only west-facing luxury resort in Koh Samui that offers guests breathtaking sunset views from every villa.

“We continue to expand our strong presence in Thailand and are now proud to introduce Conrad’s world of style, service and connection in Koh Samui.

“This magnificent resort is the second of our Conrad properties to open in Thailand and caters to the needs of the ever increasing number of global, affluent travellers to this popular resort destination,” said Martin Rinck, president, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide.

The luxurious resort features 80 freestanding villas with private plunge pools and sundecks, comprised of 65 one-bedroom villas, 14 two-bedroom villas and a Royal Villa, integrated within 25 acres of tropical features and dramatic cliff-side landscapes.

Other resort features include an on-site diving and sailing centre, a 130 metre floating pier, a 24-hour state-of-the-art Fitness Centre and an outdoor yoga pavilion.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Biggest Ferry Launched by Tourism Minister in Docklands

The newly refurbished MV Queenscliff, the pride of the Queenscliff to Sorrento ferry fleet, has launched officially at Waterfront City, Docklands by The Hon Louise Asher, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, and the crew from Searoad Ferries. This official event followed on from a successful free public event that saw a whopping 20,000 people alight the vessel to get their first glimpse of the ferry's retro-inspired new interior. The vessel also broke a record for being the biggest vessel to have moored in the Docklands since the area was transformed into a residential precinct in the 1990s.

At the official launch event, guests including media, members of the tourism industry and friends of the ferry, celebrated the vessel's shining new fit-out with a perfect Melbourne spring day, a glass of Victorian sparkling wine and an afternoon high tea in the new lounge.

"I was delighted to re-launch the upgraded MV Queenscliff. The MV Queenscliff is an important tourism infrastructure and has been for some time as it links Mornington Peninsula and the Great Ocean Road, showcasing the Bay. I think it's a wonderful addition to the tourism product we have in Victoria. The upgrade is outstanding and I'm particularly interested in the High Tea on the High Seas event - it's a great concept!" said The Hon. Louise Asher MP.

The new ferry is unlike any other ferry in Australia, creating a new, world-class tourism entity. The refurbishment sees a new lounge with super comfortable chairs and full 360-degree views. It provides a haven for relaxing and reading the complimentary newspapers, whilst the kids can enjoy a dedicated children's playground. A new on-board café led by well-known local chef Ken Wall has been built and offers a grazing menu with drinks and produce sourced from neighbouring regions. And of course, excellent coffee from a qualified barista is a mandatory addition.

The refurbishment of the 18-year old signals a change in direction for the newly re-branded Searoad Ferries business. Operating since 1987, it is Australia's busiest car and passenger route, with over 700,000 passengers transported per annum. It generates some $130 million in revenue for the local economy and is a primary cog in the whole region's tourism experience. Searoad Ferries links the Great Ocean Road, The Bellarine, Mornington Peninsula, Phillip Island and Wilsons Promontory, providing a unique, continuous coastal tourism experience in a four-hour journey that has become one of Victoria's most popular touring routes.

Driving these changes and responsible for creating a new vision for Searoad Ferries is the brand new captain of the business, General Manager and CEO, Matt McDonald. Aged just 29, Matt is a veteran of the high seas. A qualified scuba diver, marine biologist and ship's captain, he decided early on to commit to his love of the sea and has clocked up some 50,000 nautical miles, the equivalent to sailing twice around the world. He has circumnavigated Tassie in a tall ship and toured pleasure craft around some of the world's most picturesque and sun-kissed spots. His most recent role was captain and manager of the luxury yacht Platinum. A 140ft vessel, it plied Australia and the South Pacific, creating an absolute luxury cruising experience attracting superstar passengers the likes of Robbie Williams and Lily Allen.

"We were thrilled that Minister Asher could join us again today to relaunch the new-look MV Queenscliff. Judging from the number of people that came to visit her yesterday and their glowing reviews I'm sure she will have a very warm welcome when she gets home. A world-class experience awaits travellers on the MV Queenscliff and we're looking forward to welcoming people onboard. Searoad Ferries is now truly about the journey, and not just the destination," said Matt.

The new-look MV Queenscliff made her way back to Queesncliff yesterday afternoon to recommence her regular route from Queenscliff to Sorrento return.

Searoad Ferries, 1 Wharf St Queenscliff, Victoria 3225

T: 03 5258 3244 | E: | W: | Twitter & Facebook: Searoad Ferries

Searoad Ferries operates in all weather, seven days a week, 365 days a year, on the hour, every hour from 7am until 6pmfrom both Queenscliff and Sorrento. An extra service at 7pm is available from 26 December 2011 until 9 April 2012. For fares visit

Upcoming onboard events:

High Tea On The High Seas - the last Sunday of each month (excl Dec and Jan):

Be served High Tea in the privacy of the Portsea Lounge on board the Queenscliff to Sorrento ferry. Indulge in an afternoon tea of exquisite cakes and desserts, finger sandwiches, espresso coffee, freshly brewed tea or sparkling wine and watch the spectacular coastal scenery slide past. Cost: $35.

Australian War Memorial Goes Beyond the Line of Duty for Battlefield Tours

"The Last Post" (pic:

The Australian War Memorial reveals a unique and personalised service for travellers aspiring to walk in the footsteps of their military ancestors who fought during the First World War in Gallipoli and on the Western Front.

While many tour operators visit the famous battlefield sites and retell the many stories of courage and sacrifices made by our Australian diggers, the Australian War Memorial has extended their services by assisting their tour participants with their family research and ensuring they visit sites of particular interest to them.

"Researching family connections helps create a personal experience when touring the battlefields," says Nick Fletcher, a curator at the Australian War Memorial. "For those Australians who may not have any military ancestry, our tours also provide an opportunity to honor these men who sacrificed their lives by visiting the scenes of their gallant deeds which have helped form our nation's character."  

The battlefield tours are designed and led by the Memorial's historians and curators, who have access to a vast array of resources such as documentation, maps, films and photographs from the Australian War Memorial archives, providing them an expert advantage in their field and unrivalled level of personalised service in their tours.

"These tours are both a commemorative and educational journey into an important part of our nation's history, yet for some it becomes a personal pilgrimage", expressed John Waller, CEO, Boronia Travel Centre, and 'official travel agent' to the Australian War Memorial.

"By providing such a personalised family research service, the Australian War Memorial and Boronia Travel Centre can not only enhance the overall travel experience but also touch the hearts of those seeking to connect with their family history", noted John.

For more information contact:
or call Boronia Travel Centre on 1800 035 350

Emirates Releases Early Bird Airfares to Europe, Middle East and Africa

-Fly from Australia to 29 European destinations via Dubai from $1798 return-

Award-winning Emirates has unveiled competitive Early Bird airfares to destinations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa for travel in 2012.

Australian travellers can fly to 29 destinations in Europe from $1798 return, experience 7 Middle Eastern cities from $1642 return, or sample a selection of 4 destinations in Africa from $1779 return.

All destinations are within convenient reach from Australia via one stop in Emirates' exciting hub-city of Dubai, with one free stopover in Dubai permitted in each direction of travel.

Emirates operates 70 flights per week from Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney to Dubai, and onwards to more than 110 destinations in over 65 countries.  Passengers enjoy service from an international crew, gourmet food and wine menus, an award-winning inflight entertainment system, and a generous 30kg luggage allowance.

Early Bird airfares to Emirates' newly announced European destinations start from $1805 to Dublin, $1808 to St Petersburg, $1807 to Copenhagen, and $1804 to Geneva.

Lead in return airfares to the exotic destinations of the Middle East include $1650 to Dubai, $1642 to Muscat and Cairo from $1653.

Australians looking for an African adventure can fly to Cape Town, Durban or Johannesburg in South Africa from $1832 return, or try Nairobi from $1779 return.

All airfares are quoted based on travel in Economy Class and include all taxes and charges.*

Bookings must be completed by 30 November 2011.  Early Bird airfares are available for travel between 1 February and 30 September 2012, fare levels vary during this period. Flight restrictions apply.  

For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or go to

Terms and conditions for the offer:

·         Ticketing and sales between now and 30th November 2011 only
·         Valid for departures from 1st February until 30th September 2012 only

Valid for travel outbound to Dubai on EK405, EK409, EK415, EK419, EK433, EK425 only

·         Fees for changes and cancellations apply
·         One free stopover is permitted in Dubai city in each direction
·         Seats and Class are subject to availability at time of booking

*The inclusive taxes and surcharges quoted are correct at 19th September 2011. These may vary slightly over the travel period.

For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or go to


Monday, September 26, 2011

Mercure Melbourne's $4 Million Makeover First to Unveil New Mercure Design Standard

Four-star hotel, Mercure Melbourne Spring Street has added the finishing touches to its $4 million refurbishment of 164 rooms and is the first hotel in Australia to showcase new Mercure design standards.

The design aims to reflect the area's local character in the room, with black and white photography of Melbourne architecture and landmarks emblazoned on the bed heads. A bright carpet design and cube lounge, a visually striking piece of space-saving furniture immediately energises the look and feel of the room.

Rooms have been fitted with new bathrooms complete with walk-in showers, large hand basins and LED mirror lights. New lighting, digital LCD TVs, glass fronted fridges, internet access, room safes and clock radios with iPod docks have been installed to instantly modernise the rooms.

With stunning views overlooking the Treasury Gardens, Mercure Melbourne Spring Street is the perfect place to stay while exploring Melbourne's iconic sporting attractions like the MGC and Rod Laver Arena or shopping the 'Paris end' of Collins Street.

Hotel General Manager, Phil O'Brien said that the Mercure Melbourne Spring Street will set a new benchmark in the design of a Mercure room and are excited to be the first to bring this vision to life in Australia.

"We are very excited about the excellent standard of room we now have available to our guests after three months of renovations. We have made significant changes to uplift the style and functionality of the rooms, a Mercure first which we hope will attract even greater leisure and conference numbers to our hotel," he said.

"With major international sporting events fast approaching and held just moments from our doorstep, we look forward to welcoming domestic and international visitors to our new look Mercure this summer".

Mercure Melbourne has refurbished rooms starting from $149 per night. For bookings or hotel information, please visit or phone (03) 9205 9999.

Mercure Melbourne is located at 13 Spring Street, Melbourne VIC 3000.

There are 30 Mercure hotels in Australia, including Mercure Ballarat and Mercure Yarra Valley in regional Victoria. Mercure hotels are also located in resort destinations such as Cairns, Lake Macquarie and Broome and major city centres.
For more than 35 years, within the Accor Group, Mercure has exemplified expert hospitality and personalised service. Operating in more than 50 countries around the world, Mercure boasts hotels with distinctive personalities carefully preserved through the type of services offered and the decor, both of which vary from one hotel to the next. The hotel managers and staff of the 700 Mercure hotels are hospitality professionals. Attentive and available, they are ready to listen and make sure their guests enjoy a stay full of genuine moments of pleasure and relaxation in a truly warm and comfortable setting. More information on Mercure hotels is available on

First Boeing 787 Delivery

Boeing (NYSE: BA) and ANA have signed the formal documents completing the contractual delivery of the first 787 Dreamliner. Celebrations to mark this historic milestone begin tomorrow in Everett with a delivery ceremony followed by flyaway of the airplane on Tuesday. Today's signing comes after a series of flights, inspections and the transfer of funds.

"Now that the airplane is ready to deliver, the entire team is ready to celebrate," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "We look forward to honoring our launch customer ANA before they fly their first Dreamliner home to Japan."

Takeo Kikuchi (left), All Nippon Airways' general manager for its Seattle office, shakes hands with Paul Baldwin, Boeing's Aircraft Contracts, after signing the final paperwork for contractual delivery of the first-ever 787 Dreamliner
Celebrations for Boeing employees begin Monday at 6 a.m. (Pacific time) outside the 787 factory in Everett with the static display of ZA002, one of the flight test airplanes painted in ANA's livery. ANA and Boeing executives, employees, partners and government officials will gather at 9 a.m. for the delivery ceremony in the same location. Airplane 24, painted in ANA's special livery, will join the display during the ceremony. Flyaway of the airplane to Tokyo is scheduled Tuesday morning at 6:35 a.m. from Paine Field.

A live webcast of Monday's delivery events and Tuesday's flyaway can be seen at Video highlights of those events also will be posted to the website.

"ANA has been a tremendous partner from day one," said Fancher. "Through the hard work and challenges, the Boeing team never lost focus on the commitments to our valued customer. We know ANA's customers will love this airplane."

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is an all-new airplane featuring a host of technologies that provide exceptional value to airlines and unparalleled levels of comfort to passengers. It is the first mid-size airplane capable of flying long-range routes, enabling airlines to open new, non-stop routes preferred by the traveling public.

Composite materials, more-electric systems, advanced aerodynamics and modern engines combine to make the 787 more fuel efficient and provide lower operating costs. Passengers will appreciate the cleaner cabin air, higher humidity and lower cabin altitude that combine to help them feel more refreshed after flying on the 787. Other innovations include larger windows with electrochromic shades, bigger onboard luggage bins and LED lighting.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mantra on the Park Melbourne Unveils Newest Apartments in Town

Popular Melbourne CBD apartment hotel, Mantra on the Park has unveiled a $4million upgrade to offer business and leisure travellers the newest apartment product in town.

All 144 fully self-contained One and Two bedroom Apartments have completed a full $4 million refurbishment which includes stylish and bold new furniture from local and European manufacturers, 37" LCD TVs, iPod docking stations, new kitchens and appliances, new carpet and paint in all corridors and public areas.

In total, there was 3,000 metres of carpet laid, 786 designer lamps built, 120 litres of paint and 2506 pieces of furniture installed to complete the new look.

"It's a whole new era for Mantra on the Park," says General Manager, Michael McKinnon.

"The hotel has always had loyal customers both from interstate and regional Victoria and it is great to be offering them - and new guests - a fantastic new product that reflects the high standards of the Mantra brand."

Mantra on the Park's two split level 3 bedroom penthouses have also been completely upgraded with stunning individual pieces and unique furnishings ensuring they satisfy the needs of discerning travellers. All apartments are spacious with full kitchen and laundry facilities and separate lounge and dining areas with large balconies and views overlooking the Carlton Gardens or city skyline.

The extra space and convenience provided by Mantra on the Park's apartment style rooms comes at no extra cost to that of a traditional hotel room with 1 bedroom apartments starting from $159 per night and 2 bedroom apartments from $259 per night. Now the first choice of accommodation in Melbourne, visit or phone 13 15 17 for bookings.

The central CBD location at the top end of Exhibition Street is popular with corporate travellers with business services including 24 hour reception, in room internet access, secure undercover parking, express check in, daily housekeeping, onsite Terrace Restaurant Bar & Grill, laundry service and dry cleaning and room service breakfast and dinner.

The location is also ideal for leisure guests and families with Melbourne Museum - currently showing the Tutankhamen Exhibition - within walking distance and easy access to the Lygon Street restaurant precinct, the Royal Exhibition Building and Her Majesty's Theatre. An indoor pool is also located in the hotel for year round access.

The free City Circle tram stops directly outside the hotel, stopping at all of Melbourne's best tourist attractions. Melbourne Central, China Town and Federation Square are just minutes away and for the sports enthusiasts the MCG, Rod Laver Arena, AAMI Park, and Etihad Stadium are just a short taxi ride.

Mantra on the Park is one of seven Mantra hotels and apartments in Melbourne which include Mantra 100 Exhibition Street (which recently completed a $1million upgrade), Mantra On Russell, Mantra Southbank and Mantra on Little Bourke all in the CBD; Mantra on Jolimont which is the closest hotel to the MCG and Melbourne Park sporting and entertainment precinct; and Mantra Tullamarine Hotel.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fashionable Facelift Underway at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

Silence is golden - and so is the upgrade taking place at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa between the 24th of October and the 18th of December 2011.

Sofitel's extensive guestroom refurbishment program will commence this October, and is expected to create maximum impact on completion yet minimum interruption during its progression, thanks to forward thinking from management and the resort's vast layout

General Manager Adam Laker says following a soft renovation of certain public areas at the resort over the past 12 months, focus has now shifted to guest rooms.

"We will update half of our room inventory from mid October," Mr Laker says. "During this time we will change the look and feel of our guest rooms, including ten suites."

Mr Laker explained that the integrity of the resort experience for current guests is a priority over the renovation period. "We don't want our current guests to be inconvenienced, so at no time will they ever see any work in progress, as we will isolate each block being worked on one at a time.

"Unlike a city hotel where there is noise floor to floor, our resort is only three floors high and expansive, so we have the luxury of being able to close off entire blocks with minimal disruption.  There will be no jack hammering, pulling down of walls or any other excessive noise."

Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa's new look will involve a luxury upgrade of all furniture, carpet floorings, paint, wallpaper and glass shower screens. As part of the facelift, Sofitel will also introduce a new Luxury Room category available from April 2012, positioned above the resort's Superior Room type yet below its suites.

These new Luxury Rooms will receive personal Bose iPod and iPhone docking stations and an updated version of Sofitel's famous Mybed, to ensure the most comfortable sleep in Fiji.

In collaboration with leading hotel interior design consultants, the Carmody Group, Adam Laker and the Sofitel team have designed a vibrant yet refined room concept seemingly inspired by the muted yellow and leather colours made famous by iconic French fashion house, Louis Vuitton.

The result is an exuberant blend of texture and colour, befitting its refined Sofitel label, and Fijian island address.

Stitched high leather bed heads, desk chairs and strong timber and polished Fijian shell writing desks provide a handsome structure reminiscent of LV's tell tale travel totes and luggage. These strong elements are complemented by the otherwise soft yet elegant furnishings of each guest room and suite, punctuated with crisp white quilts and cool colonial style shutters to provide light relief from the bright Fijian sun.

Fijian floral signatures are evident on contemporary cushions, intricate wood and shell ornaments and other artwork have been introduced to reinforce the resort's tropical location and appreciation of local culture and style. For more information about the refurbishment contact the resort's Director of Sales & Marketing Nicholas Mina at

For reservations and general information about the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa and other hotels in the network,

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Taste Of Eden For Cruise Passengers

Travellers cruising Australian waters next month may be in for a surprise - they're being transported to Eden.

The Sapphire Coast town of Eden (NSW) nestles beside Twofold Bay, the third deepest natural harbour in the southern hemisphere, a harbour that has become a second home for many of the cruise ships plying the eastern Australian coastline.

The ms Volendam (Holland America Line) will arrive in Twofold Bay on Monday, October 3, the first of five visits to the town over the summer cruise season, which ends in March. After Volendam, Orion will dock twice (November 13, 25), then Spirit of Adventure (December 18) and finally Athena (January 31, 2012).

When the ships come in, they are met by a team of volunteers representing Cruise Eden, a group which liaises between the cruise ships and the local operators in the town to co-ordinate a range of on-shore activities.

These include tours to wilderness areas and national parks, gourmet tours, an oyster farm, various sites related to the region's Aboriginal culture and whale hunting history, and - especially for foreign visitors - the chance to meet Australian native animals.

The volunteers are students from the local TAFE tourism and hospitality courses, as well as volunteer staff from the Eden Visitor Information Centre. They greet the passengers when they arrive on shore, helping with directions, acting as tour guides or providing commentary on the buses for the tours, and stationed throughout the town to answer any questions the visitors may have.

Gail Ward is the co-ordinator for Cruise Eden, which is a sub-committee of the local chamber of commerce. She says 2005 was the first time a cruise ship stopped at Eden but many years of planning had gone into it.

"We like to offer the passengers a range of options for the time they are in port, which can be up to eight hours," Ms Ward says.

"They might do a single longer tour or take several different options, but we work with the cruise ship operations team to ensure they have a really good experience while they are here."

Eden's Twofold Bay is a very deep, safe harbour with safe anchorage for the large liners, and easy access to shore. For passengers on the really big ships, it's a five-minute tender ride from the ship to Snug Cove. Ms Ward says the smaller ships can tie up directly alongside at Snug Cove.

"From there, the passengers can board a coach if they are doing a tour, or either walk into town, or take one of our shuttle buses and get on and off at different points around the town.

"There are only three ports in NSW big enough to take these ships and the other two are Sydney and Newcastle, so this is a unique opportunity for us to show our international visitors this beautiful part of the world.

"It's interesting to see that the cultural tours to the national parks are proving to be the most popular with the passengers. They are always booked out.

"We've been told we run one of the best meet-and-greet operations the regular cruise passengers have experienced. They love the naturalness of the towns, the coast and the country and they enjoy the friendliness of the people."

Ms Ward has been in her role for nearly two years and juggles it with managing one of Eden's most successful and popular B&Bs. She admits life can be pretty hectic when the ships are in port, but loves the experience and the opportunities it offers the town and its economy.

However, the big cruise liners are not the only ships that call into Twofold Bay. The tall ship HMB Endeavour will be in port for a full week next year, from May 7-15.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Toga Partners with Sydney Festival

Toga Hospitality announces new partnership with Sydney Festival

Medina, Travelodge and Vibe hotels named Sydney Festival's Official Accommodation Partner

Toga Hospitality is pleased to announce a new partnership with Sydney Festival. As a Star Sponsor of Sydney Festival 2012, Toga Hospitality will be the Official Accommodation Partner of the 2012 Festival. The partnership will span across Medina Apartment Hotels, Travelodge Hotels and Vibe Hotels.

Toga's hotel brands fit perfectly with the diversity of Festival audiences. Enjoy Festival First Night and a great night's sleep at Travelodge's central locations with rates that won't break the budget; stay a little longer to soak up the space and style offered by Medina Apartment Hotels; or stay like a rock star at Vibe Hotels.

Toga will work closely with Sydney Festival on a series of exclusive accommodation packages for visitors to Sydney and Sydneysiders treating themselves to a stay-cation to make the most of the city's festive atmosphere. Details of the accommodation packages are soon to be announced.

Toga Hospitality's CEO, Rachel Argaman said: "We're thrilled to stand beside Sydney Festival as their Official Accommodation Partner. Toga has a strong passion for the arts and enjoys long-standing partnerships with a range of arts organisations. Year after year, Sydney Festival continues to deliver an innovative program that attracts large audience numbers from interstate, international destinations, and from within our own city. We look forward to welcoming these guests to our hotels whatever their accommodation needs or budget."

Next year, the Sydney Festival 2012 will run from 7th – 29th January, 2011. Every January, Sydney Festival enlivens and transforms Sydney with a bold cultural celebration based on the highest quality art and big ideas. The program is kaleidoscopic in its diversity on a national and international scale: from cabaret and all genres of music to cutting-edge theatre; from contemporary dance to family programs and massive free outdoor events. In all, the program comprises around 300 performances and 80 events performed by over 1000 artists in at least 20 venues each year.

Malcolm Moir, Sydney Festival's Head of Business Development said, "Sydney Festival is very excited to be working with Toga Hospitality, not only for the sake of our interstate and international Festival artists, who will now experience the warm hospitality of some of Sydney's best hotels, but also for our national and international visitors, who will enjoy the very best of Sydney's accommodation."

For more information about the Sydney Festival, visit:



Monday, September 19, 2011


Construction has commenced on the new Gladstone Mercure Hotel in Queensland, expected to welcome its first guests in September 2012.

The new hotel will be built onsite at the Yaralla Sports Club and provide 60 hotel rooms, and conference facilities, catering to the need for more corporate level accommodation options in the region.

The Mercure hotel will complement the extensive existing facilities at the Yaralla Sports Club and adjoin the club's current front entrance. Vice President of Accor Australia Simon McGrath says the timing of the hotel is ideal to maximise on the region's considerable growth forecasts.

"The Mercure is an exciting new addition to the Group's growing network of Queensland hotels in regional locations," said Mr McGrath.

"Gladstone is a thriving industrial hub, and it's a perfect time for Accor to be partnering with the well established Yaralla Sports Club to leverage the significant development and economic opportunities that are driving the region's growth."

Yaralla Sports Club's long term business plan has seen a growth in membership to more than 31,000, with the club employing 120 people within the Gladstone area. The significant multi-million Mercure hotel development comes off the back of a strong period of renovation and growth which has been ongoing for the popular sports club since 2001.

Yaralla's Chief executive officer Will Schroeder said the Club was still very focused on maintaining some of Central Queensland's finest sporting facilities, which supports 12 active sports Sub-Committees including lawn bowls, cricket, hockey and basketball.

"The addition of a Mercure hotel will increase and diversify the level of service offered to both the local community and visitors by providing much-needed additional luxury and business accommodation options," he said.

"Hotel guests will have access to conference facilities, fitness services, and our wide variety of restaurants and entertainment."

Accor currently operates 30 properties in Queensland ranging from the Formule 1, Ibis and Mercure brands through to the Grand Mercure, Novotel, and Sofitel brands, plus 29 Mercure hotels across Australia.  Visit for more.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Landmark Hilton Surfers Paradise Officially Opens

The landmark AUD$700 million Hilton Surfers Paradise complex on Queensland's Gold Coast has officially opened its doors, making it the newest leisure property for Hilton Hotels & Resorts in Australia, and the first Hilton property in the country to offer a combination of guest rooms and holiday residences.

Martin Rinck, president, Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide, said, "Hilton Surfers Paradise is our eighth Hilton-branded property in Australia, and is a significant milestone for the tourism industry in the Gold Coast being the first new upscale, global hotel to be built in the Gold Coast in over 10 years. We are delighted to continue to grow the footprint of Hilton Worldwide in this important market."

David Horton, global head, Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand, said, "Hilton Surfers Paradise presents a range of unique accommodation, dining and meeting options. Apart from appealing to the leisure traveller, we believe that the hotel will also contribute to the growth of the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry in the area."

Featuring an unprecedented range of accommodation options to suit the needs of all guests, the hotel offers a total of 169 guest rooms and 250 modern one-, two- and three-bedroom residences. David Kelly, general manager, Hilton Surfers Paradise commented that the complex was specifically designed in response to the demand for more flexible and spacious holiday options in the area.

"The facilities at Hilton Surfers Paradise are so diverse that you can enjoy time with your family in the comfort of a spacious residence one weekend, and return another time as a couple for a romantic break and enjoy the serenity of a guest room.

 "Our self-contained residences include full kitchens, laundry facilities, as well as separate living and dining spaces, and are ideal for families, groups or anyone looking beyond the traditional hotel for superb accommodation.

"Guests at our residences also have access to all the services of the hotel including in-room dining, mini bar, daily housekeeping, valet parking, 24-hour reception and concierge," he said.

Hilton Surfers Paradise has also tailored its food and beverage, and recreational facilities to specifically cater for the sophisticated traveller and local guest.  These include:
Salt grill by Luke Mangan: Celebrity chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan is the culinary visionary behind Hilton Surfers Paradise's signature restaurant, Salt grill. Luke brings a whole new level of dining to the area as the first celebrity chef to establish a restaurant on the Gold Coast. With a relaxed, stylish atmosphere, and a large open-plan kitchen offering direct interaction with the chefs, guests of Salt grill enjoy quality and innovation in all aspects of food, wine and service.

FIX: Renowned international and Sydney-based mixologist, Grant Collins, has taken the lead role with the opening of FIX, an ultra stylish lounge bar.  Having served the likes of Madonna, Kate Moss, Elton John, Russell Crowe and the Beckhams, Grant says the bar is unlike anything the Gold Coast bar scene has experienced before and offers beverages that are not readily available anywhere else in Australia, including a 'Fix Breeze' and 'Surfers Sling' served in vintage glassware.

The Food Store: A concept unique to Hilton Surfers Paradise, The Food Store is a gourmet marketplace and European-style delicatessen. With an exclusive range of cheeses, charcuterie and small goods that are not readily available anywhere else on the Gold Coast, The Food Store also serves Artesian breads baked on site, organic yoghurts, natural ice creams and provides a delicious retail offering, including a range of wines, olive oils and hand-made pastas.

eforea: spa at Hilton: Hilton Surfers Paradise is home to the first brand new, purpose-built eforea: spa at Hilton in Australia. The global spa experience from Hilton Hotels & Resorts combines three distinct ranges of treatments for men and women alike. Hilton pulled the best elements and practices from Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and the Americas to create a unique spa experience for today's global travellers.

The Deck: A spectacular focal point at the centre of the hotel, The Deck is a vast 1500-square metre space with four stylish pools, a spa, sauna, private day beds, shaded picnic areas, an outdoor terrace, and BBQ pavilions. Serviced by a team of 'Poolside Valets', The Deck is a stunning backdrop for everything from a relaxing poolside afternoon to a chic cocktail evening.

Events: The hotel's boutique ballroom is equipped with the latest audio-visual technology and has a maximum capacity of 350 guests, cocktail style. It is also complemented by a range of spectacular outdoor event spaces, a business centre, theatre, a number of smaller boardroom- style breakout rooms, and a Hilton Executive Lounge that offers 270-degree views of the Gold Coast. Extending his culinary flair and creativity to the entire complex, Luke Mangan has also created the menus for conference and events, in-room dining, Fix and The Food Store.

"At Hilton Surfers Paradise we are combining the energy of Surfers with the style of Hilton, and we look forward welcoming guests to experience our unique offering," said Mr Kelly.

Rates at the new Hilton Surfers Paradise start from $259 for a one-bedroom residence and from $279 for a hotel room. For bookings visit or phone 1300 445 866.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

T+L world awards confirm Lilianfels in the Blue Mountains as an iconic international luxury escape

Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort and Spa has cemented its position as an iconic Australian luxury escape after being named one of the five top lodges and resorts in the Oceana region in the 2011 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards.

After pampering its guests for 20 years, Lilianfels was joined by only one other Australian property in the category of Top Lodges and Resorts in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Lilianfels Group General Manager, Brian McHenry, said the award consolidated that Lilianfels continued to have the right formula in the competitive international luxury market after two decades of operation.

“Lilianfels has again proven to be a timeless luxury resort,” Mr McHenry said.

“We opened our doors 20 years ago setting the benchmark in Australia for providing guests with an unforgettable experience and today, Lilianfels still appeals to the world’s premium market.”

Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards recommends Lilianfels’ Deluxe Valley View Rooms, overlooking Katoomba’s famous Jamison Valley and the Three Sisters.

Its Insider Tip is to splurge on a meal at the resort’s Darley’s restaurant which was the former home of the sixth NSW Chief Justice, Frederick Darley.

Lilianfels, on the bluff of the Blue Mountains National Park, is a 5-star resort renowned for relaxation and superior service. The converted historic country mansion features 85 exquisite rooms, multi-award winning Darley’s restaurant, the Lilianfels Spa, indoor and outdoor pools, and The Lounge area with its calm and elegant atmosphere.

For more information on packages visit or call 024780 1200.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Blanket Bay wins the title of "New Zealand's Best Lodge" at the coveted HM Awards 2011

Blanket Bay's reputation as this region's ultimate alpine escape and New Zealand's finest luxury lodge continues to be upheld with its win last Friday night, 2 September 2011, at the hotel industry's prestigious HM Awards.

Spanning Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands the HM Awards are this region's only independent benchmark for excellence in hospitality management, voted on by a panel of judges consisting of leading travel writers, hoteliers and travel industry professionals.

Philip Jenkins, Blanket Bay's General Manager, was delighted with this further accolade: "This HM Award again illustrates our staff's consistently high service standards, and the resultant guest satisfaction that comes from Blanket Bay's unique blend of luxury and location".

"New Zealand is widely acknowledged as having a collection of outstanding lodges, a concept which has also been adopted in Australia and Southern Africa. It is gratifying to see the recognition that luxury lodge accommodation is now achieving worldwide. The success of Blanket Bay is based upon this significant growth in demand for small luxury hotels that offer truly intimate hospitality and local flavor in stunning destinations", states Philip.

Blanket Bay regularly features amongst the world's best. Along with last Friday night's HM Award win, Conde Naste Traveler's 2010 Gold List ranked Blanket Bay as the second-highest scoring property in the world and the top-scoring hotel in Asia, Australia and Pacific nations. Also last year the discerning readers of the prestigious Andrew Harpers Hideaway Report voted Blanket Bay 6th in the Top 20 Hideaways in the world, and the best in New Zealand. In 2009 Blanket Bay also won the HM Award for "New Zealand's Best Regional Property".

"Even in these turbulent economic times there is strong short breaks market. Blanket Bay is just over three hours flying time from the major centres of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland and attracts more and more discerning Australian and New Zealand travellers seeking the ultimate alpine escape", comments Philip Jenkins.

About Blanket Bay

Established in 1999, Blanket Bay is an expansive lakeside property on a 65,000 - acre high country farm, combining the sophistication of the world's finest alpine lodges and the unique characteristics of New Zealand. The intimate resort consists of 12 guest rooms including spacious suites, intimate lodge rooms and elegant chalets. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, accommodations offer travellers vast sitting rooms, king-sized beds, stone fireplaces, secluded balconies and spectacular views.

About HM Awards

Held in the form of a black tie dinner at the prestigious Sydney Town Hall this year, these 9th HM Awards for Hotel & Accommodation Excellence received over 1600 entries from across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and selected South Pacific nations. The event attracted the who's who of Australia's, and the regions, hotel industry.

Toga Hospitality Puts the Competition to Bed at the 2011 HM Awards

Nominated across eight categories, Toga Hospitality has taken out three much coveted awards and was highly commended in one category at the ninth annual HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence, 2011.

Toga Hospitality was awarded:

Winner: Economy Hotel: Travelodge Docklands (Melbourne)
The newest addition to the Travelodge portfolio after opening its doors over a year ago, Travelodge Hotel Docklands in Melbourne was awarded winner of the Economy Hotel of the year. Travelodge Hotel Docklands is an outstanding hotel in Melbourne's emerging precinct, Docklands. Travelodge is the perfect base from which to explore all of Melbourne's key attractions including Etihad Stadium and is committed to consistently delivering great value accommodation.

Winner: Midscale Hotel: Vibe Hotel Rushcutters (Sydney)
Vibe Hotel Rushcutters boasts an exceptional city fringe location overlooking Rushcutters Bay Park. Guests feel every bit the rockstar chilling out and staying up late in the near by Kings Cross, Double Bay, Paddington, Woollahra and Potts Point or escaping the action and heading to the rooftop pool, voted in the 'Top Five' pools in Sydney.

Winner: Marketing Campaign: Vibe Towel
Vibe Hotels scored the Marketing Campaign award in recognition of the Vibe Towel campaign. The Vibe Towel campaign was delivered via an integrated marketing campaign incorporating extensive PR, promotion, online and print advertising. The result was a much loved summer accessory for our guests and increased brand recognition for Vibe Hotels.

Highly Commended: Serviced Apartment Property: Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury
Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury, which was highly commended in the Serviced Apartment Property category, is the historic jewel in Medina Apartment Hotel's crown. The Heritage Listed hotel has maintained many of the original 19th Century architectural features and has a string of awards under its belt. Situated at the true heat of Adelaide's CDB, the hotel over looks Victoria Square and is adjacent to the Town Hall. Originally the offices for the State Treasury, the hotel blends the old with the new and is well know for its historic underground tunnels.

Rachel Argaman, CEO of Toga Hospitality, said: "We are thrilled that the industry has recognised us for these awards. Our success is the result of continued commitment to our team's achievements and the strength in our brands. We look forward to another year of growth and excellent results."

The HM Awards for Accommodation and Excellence are presented annually to showcase outstanding achievements within the hospitality and tourism industry across Australia, New Zealand and some South Pacific countries. The event took place at Sydney's Town Hall on Friday 2 September, 2011.

About Toga Hospitality

Toga Hospitality is one of the largest accommodation providers in Australia and currently operates 52 strategically located apartment hotels and hotels in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

· Adina Apartment Hotels in eight locations (Australia and Europe)
· Medina Apartment Hotels in 21 locations (Australia)
· Vibe Hotels in seven locations (Australia)
· Travelodge Hotels in 16 locations (Australia and New Zealand)

That equates to over 6,000 apartments and hotel rooms which vary in price, location and design in order to meet a range of different accommodation needs.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Bed Bugs Bite - Rash of Claims Feared


By (bug-free) Roderick Eime

A recent compensation payout by a London hotel could lead to a rash (pun intended) of similar claims.

Kent (UK) sisters Melanie Carmen and Joy McDonagh, both in their 40s, travelled to London and stayed at the £90/night Airways Hotel in Pimlico, South West London. During the night the women were bitten dozens of times each and required hospital treatment for their painful swellings.

After contacting solicitors, they received over £1,600 in compensation based on pain and suffering.

While the women blamed the conditions of the hotel, bed bugs are easily transportable in clothing and baggage and every hotel runs the risk of an infestation. They can hide easily, go months without feeding, resist treatment and travel easily from room to room or common areas. They hide during the day and feed at night, making them all the more insidious.

While the bug bites themselves are not known to be poisonous or disease-carrying, the bites are unsightly and very irritating – to say nothing about what they can do for the guest experience.

"It's very unfortunate what happened to these two ladies, but we have no way of being able to trace exactly where these infestations came from," a hotel spokesman said. "'This incident happened 18 months ago and experts say there are 20,000 cases of bedbugs in hotels across the UK every year, five-star hotels included, so we're not immune to the problem. We have a full-time contract with a pest control company and when problems are reported they come in immediately to deal with any issues."

The SA Department of Health advises:

Bed bugs can often be difficult to eradicate because their hiding spots are hard to find or inaccessible.

Repeat application of a treatment product may be necessary, depending on the chemical used and the success of the original application.

Thoroughly vacuum the infested area including the mattress and place the contents of the vacuum cleaner bag in a sealed plastic bag for disposal.

Clothes and bedding suspected of being infested should be washed in hot water (at least 60oC) and/or heated ironing or drying.

Hotels should educate housekeeping staff in the identification of possible bed bug infestations. Clues such as blood spots on linen, dead insects or droppings should ring alarm bells and prompt action should be initiated.

TripAdvisor Under Fire for Fake Review Claims - Internet giant under fire for fake review claims
By Roderick Eime,

The peak advertising standards authority in the UK has announced a formal investigation into claims by thousands of disgruntled hoteliers and restaurateurs who assert many TripAdvisor reviews are made up, defamatory or both.

The Expedia-owned, US-based website, widely acknowledged as the world’s most influential hotel rating site, contains around 50 million reviews that are read by the same number of visitors every month. On their website, TripAdvisor claims to post “trusted advice from real travellers” and offer the following reassurance on their site:
We have a team of moderators that examine questionable reviews. We also use automated tools on the site that help flag questionable content for review, and our large and passionate community of millions of travelers keep an eye out on our site as well.

UK-based online reputation company,, has convinced the ASA to begin the formal investigation based on TripAdvisor’s apparent lack of accountability citing that companies are not allowed to use “unverifiable” testimonials on their promotional material.

Chris Emmins, the cofounder of, said in a statement in The Telegraph (UK): “ believes that such an evaluation is vital because evidence of epidemic levels of abuse, flaws and distortion are being rebutted at present only with standard statements from TripAdvisor repeating clams of diligence and trustworthiness - and the public need to weigh the evidence properly.” also plans a similar action with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the USA.

TripAdvisor Media Group has acquired and operates 17 travel brands including TripAdvisor, Airfarewatchdog, BookingBuddy, Cruise Critic, Family Vacation Critic, FlipKey, Holiday Lettings, Holiday Watchdog, Independent Traveler, OneTime, SeatGuru, SmarterTravel, SniqueAway, Travel Library, TravelPod, VirtualTourist and

TripAdvisor declined to comment and at time of writing, the website was the subject of a hacking attack.

2011 HM Awards winners announced in front of record audience

In front of a record crowd of 600 hoteliers, industry leaders and major suppliers, the winners of the 2011 HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence, presented by Sealy, have been announced.

Held at the prestigious Sydney Town Hall last night (Sep 2) and hosted by television personality Larry Emdur, the HM Awards have, for the 9th time, recognised the accommodation industry’s finest staff, properties, brands and chains across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Major winners on the night were Pan Pacific’s CEO and President, A Patrick Imbardelli (Asia-Pacific Hotelier of the Year), IHG’s COO for Australasia – Bruce McKenzie (Australian Hotelier of the Year), Accor New Zealand’s Paul Richardson (New Zealand Hotelier of the Year), Accor Hotels (Accommodation Chain), Hilton (Hotel Brand), InterContinental Sydney (Hotel of the Year) and Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa (Environmental Program).

Hamilton Island’s qualia picked up three key awards (Australian Lodge, Resort and Spa), while Hilton Sydney also claimed a trifecta (Hotel Bar – Zeta, Engineer – Craig Cavers and General Manager – Paul Hutton).

Over NZD$80,000 was also raised on the night for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust in the greatest charity display the accommodation industry has seen for years.

“The accommodation industry’s generosity and desire to help the people of Christchurch was absolutely remarkable,” said HM magazine managing editor James Wilkinson. “I am incredibly proud of the way the accommodation industry dug deep to help our friends and family across the Tasman in what are still such challenging times.”

The 2011 HM Awards were hosted by HM magazine, presented by Sealy, and co-hosted by AHS Hospitality, Intrust Super, ISIS and Philips.

“Once more we were proud to recognise the industry’s finest, particularly the staff that have been doing such an amazing job over the last 12 months,” Wilkinson said. “Sure a hotel can be rewarded for its aesthetics, style, design and comfort, but it is the people who work in hotels that gives the accommodation industry in Australasia its soul.

“This year, our people categories generated the most interest and in the case of Rising Star, held for the first time in 2011, the most nominations out of the 48 categories.

“On behalf of the team at HM magazine and all of our fantastic sponsors this year, congratulations to all of the winners, highly commended recipients and finalists in 2011,” Wilkinson said.

Four Hoteliers were also inducted into the HM Awards Hall of Fame. Former Mirvac CEO Andrew Turner was joined by Fritz Gubler, Max Player and Gavin Faull, with the trio recognised for their services to education, having been responsible for starting the Blue Mountains Hotel School outside Sydney and the Pacific International Hotel Management School in New Zealand.

The 2011 HM Awards saw not just a record crowd, but also a record number of entries with 1600 this year.



1. Serviced Apartment Property
Presented by: AHS Hospitality
Winner: Fraser Suites, Sydney
Highly Commended: Medina Grand Adelaide Treasury

2. Budget Accommodation
Presented by: Intrust Super
Winner: Econolodge Sydney South
Highly Commended: Aarons Hotel, Sydney

3. Economy Hotel
Presented by: AHS Hospitality
Winner: Travelodge Docklands
Highly Commended: Pensione Hotel Melbourne

4. Midscale Hotel
Presented by: Vintech Systems
Winner: Vibe Hotel Rushcutters
Highly Commended: Holiday Inn Burswood

5. Upscale Hotel
Presented by: Philips
Winner: Q Station Retreat
Highly Commended: The Sebel Pier One

6. Upper-upscale Hotel
Presented by: ISIS
Winner: The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa
Highly Commended: Crown Metropol

7. Luxury Hotel
Presented by: HotelHome Australia
Winner: Crown Towers, Melbourne
Highly Commended: The Observatory Hotel, Sydney

8. Australian Lodge
Presented by: Sealy
Winner: qualia
Highly Commended: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa

9. Business Hotel
Presented by: FOXTEL
Winner: InterContinental Sydney
Highly Commended: Hilton Sydney

10. Resort
Presented by: DALLEN
Winner: qualia
Highly Commended: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa

11. Hotel Interior Design
Presented by: ISIS
Winner: The Olsen
Highly Commended: Emporium Hotel, Brisbane

12. Boutique Hotel
Presented by: Intrust Super
Winner: Emporium Hotel, Brisbane
Highly Commended: Henry Jones Art Hotel

13. New Hotel
Presented by: Philips
Winner: Peppers Broadbeach
Highly Commended: Wildman Wilderness Lodge

14. MICE property
Presented by: SPICE magazine and
Winner: The Langham Melbourne
Highly Commended: Q Station Retreat

15. Regional Property
Presented by: Sealy
Winner: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Highly Commended: Kim’s Beach Hideaway

16. Day Spa
Presented by: ISIS
Winner: Spa qualia, qualia
Highly Commended: Isika Day Spa and Urban Retreat, Crown Metropol

17. Hotel Bar
Presented by: Southtrade International
Winner: Zeta Bar, Hilton Sydney
Highly Commended: Blu Bar on 36, Shangri-La Hotel Sydney

18. Hotel Restaurant
Presented by: San Pellegrino
Winner: Est, Establishment
Highly Commended: Lake House Restraurant, Lake House Daylesford

19. Tech-Hotel
Presented by: DOCOMO interTouch
Winner: Crown Metropol
Highly Commended: Hilton Sydney


20. New Zealand Hotel
Presented by: PHILIPS
Winner: Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa
Highly Commended: Hilton Queenstown

21. New Zealand Regional Property
Presented by: Sealy
Winner: Hilton Lake Taupo
Highly Commended: Millbrook Resort, Queenstown

22. New Zealand Lodge
Presented by: Robert Oatley Vineyards
Winner: Blanket Bay, Glenorchy
Highly Commended: Huka Lodge, Taupo

23. Fijian Property
Presented by: ISIS
Winner: Likuliku Lagoon Resort
Highly Commended: InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa

24. South Pacific Property
Presented by: Ernst&Young
Winner: InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa, French Polynesia
Highly Commended: Sofitel Moorea, French Polynesia


25. Marketing Campaign
Presented by: Time Out Sydney and Time Out Melbourne
Winner: Vibe Hotels, Toga Hospitality
Highly Commended: Hilton Melbourne South Wharf

26. Service to the Community
Presented by: Intrust Super
Winner: Mercure Sydney
Highly Commended: Hilton Cairns


27. Concierge
Presented by: Intrust Super
Winner: Steve Ciric, The Westin Melbourne
Highly Commended: Ronald Maskell, Crown Towers Melbourne
Highly Commended: Alex Williams, Sheraton on the Park, Sydney

28. Hotel Chef
Presented by: FRANKE
Winner: Brendon Coffey, Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa
Highly Commended: Anthony Ross, The Langham Melbourne
Highly Commended: Andrew McCrea, The Sebel Suites Brisbane

29. Food and Beverage Associate
Presented by: Coca-Cola Amatil
Winner: Cherie Stubbs-Timbery, Swiss-Grand Resort and Spa, Bondi Beach
Highly Commended: Chris Hough, Sheraton on the Park, Sydney
Highly Commended: Chris Smith, Assistant F&B Services Manager, The Sebel Parramatta

30. Human Resources Associate
Presented by: TMS Asia-Pacific
Winner: Nicole Salonga, Four Seasons Sydney
Highly Commended: Amanda Lutvey, Emporium Hotel Brisbane
Highly Commended: Bronwyn Knutson, Mantra Group, New Zealand

31. Sales and Marketing Associate
Presented by: Vacations & Travel magazine
Winner: Blair Weir, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins
Highly Commended: Ivy Zhang, Sheraton on the Park, Sydney
Highly Commended: Evelyn Page, Best Western Sanctuary Inn, Tamworth

32. Communications Associate
Presented by:
Winner: Linda Sweeney, Mirvac Hotels and Resorts
Highly Commended: Rebecca Freestun, Sofitel Luxury Hotels
Highly Commended: Tara Bishop, Crown Hotels Melbourne

33. Front Office Associate
Presented by: AHS Hospitality
Winner: Calisha Allsworth, 8Hotels
Highly Commended: Simon Wanstall, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney
Highly Commended: Joseph Kuchappan, Quest Suva, Fiji

34. Procurement Associate
Presented by: Sealy
Winner: Michael Thomas, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts
Highly Commended: Nicholas Grandioso, Accor Hotels, Australia
Highly Commended: Lori Finglas, Mantra Group

35. Housekeeper
Presented by: AHS Hospitality
Winner: Chona Ogilvie, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney
Highly Commended: Elizabeth York, Chifley Hotel Penrith Panthers
Highly Commended: Karina Gordon, Diamant Hotel Canberra

36. Hotel Engineer
Presented by: Philips
Winner: Craig Cavers, Hilton Sydney
Highly Commended: Sean Smith, The York by Swiss Belhotel, Sydney
Highly Commended: Dieter Spielkamp, Novotel Twin Waters Resort

37. Rising Star
Presented by: TMS Asia-Pacific
Winner: Danielle De Veaux, Establishment Hotel
Highly Commended: Rebecca Patterson, Swiss Grand Resort and Spa, Bondi Beach
Highly Commended: Cory Clark-Goodison, The Sebel Resort and Spa Hawkesbury Valley


38. South Pacific General Manager
Presented by: Sealy
Winner: Julian Moore, Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Highly Commended: Adam Laker, Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa
Highly Commended: Wayne Milgate, Vomo Island, Fiji

39. New Zealand General Manager
Presented by: Philips
Winner: Bruce Garrett, The George, Christchurch
Highly Commended: Wouter de Graaf, Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa
Highly Commended: Callum Mallett, SkyCity Hotels, Auckland

40. Australian General Manager
Presented by: Intrust Super
Winner: Paul Hutton, Hilton Sydney
Highly Commended: Peter Tudehope, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney
Highly Commended: Michael Sheridan, The Sebel Pier One Sydney

41. Environmental ProgramPresented by: ISIS
Winner: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Lithgow
Highly Commended: Hilton Sydney

42. Supplier
Presented by: HM magazine and
Winner: MICROS-Fidelio
Highly Commended: Sealy

43. Hotel Brand
Presented by: AHS Hospitality
Winner: Hilton
Highly Commended: Sofitel

44. Accommodation Chain
Presented by: Sealy
Winner: Accor Hotels
Highly Commended: Langham Hospitality Group

45. Hotel of the Year
Presented by: Sealy
Winner: InterContinental Sydney
Highly Commended: Crown Towers, Melbourne

46. HM magazine New Zealand Hotelier
Presented by: HM magazine and
Winner: Paul Richardson, Accor Hotels

47. HM magazine Australian Hotelier of the Year
Presented by: HM magazine and
Winner: Bruce McKenzie, InterContinental Hotels Group

48. HM magazine Asia-Pacific Hotelier of the Year
Presented by: HM magazine and
Winner: A. Patrick Imbardelli, Pan Pacific Hotels Group

Presented by: HM magazine and
Recipients: Fritz Gubler, Max Player and Gavin Faull, and Andrew Turner

Friday, September 2, 2011


Sofitel Luxury Hotels has opened of its first address in Guangzhou (formerly Canton, in southern China) with the Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich. The launch has now increased the Sofitel Luxury Hotels network to a total of 20 addresses in China.

Ideally located in the heart of Tianhe, Guangzhou's most dynamic financial and business district, the Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich is less than one kilometre from the emblematic skyscraper CITIC Plaza and a few minutes from the East Railway Station, a veritable hub that connects Guangzhou to Dongguan, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.

"Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich is going to breathe a little of the unique French culture into Guangzhou. The goal of this address is to become the meeting place for the city's cultural events and especially through all forms of Art," said Robert Gaymer-Jones, CEO Sofitel Worldwide.

The hotel offers 493 rooms and suites, whose decor elegantly blends contemporary Asian design and Parisian chic. All rooms overhang the characteristic skyline of the Tianhe district. Everyone is pampered right into their dreams in the exclusive softness of the MyBed™ bedding signed Sofitel.

Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich features five bars and restaurants, including the fine dining-restaurant "Robata Grill & Bar", which combines a classy steakhouse with modern Japanese Izakaya. Robata also features an authentic Robatayaki -  a sushi bar with en extensive elegant walk-through wine cellar. Additionally, "Le Chinois" restaurant highlights famous Cantonese gastronomy and "8 Faubourg" reproduces around an elegant bar the décor typical of a Parisian apartment. The "Mar-Tea-Ni" lounge bar provides fine French pastries accompanied by rare teas suggested by a Tea sommelier, and is a perfect example of how Sofitel strives to create a link between French culture and Chinese culture – a key value of the brand.

The Sofitel Guangzhou Sunrich has 17 meeting rooms that can be adapted and personalized as well as a 900 sq.m. conference room offering the best of multimedia technology and equipment. The InspiredMeetings Planner, a personalised service for unique, inspired and inspiring meetings, is available to  tailor-make project while creating memorable experiences for the participants.

The hotel is the first Sofitel in Asia to offer Sofitel Luxury Hotel's own So SPA branded day spa, which uses L'Occitane products from France. So Spa's serene environment has an original signature scent, and uses exclusive rituals employed by highly qualified personnel to help create a sense of total well being. 

So Spa complements the hotel's fitness area, So FIT, which offers fitness and well-being equipment at the leading edge of technology and design in addition to a stunning indoor pool with a sub-aquatic music broadcaster.

Guangzhou is the capital of southern China and has a rich history and cultural heritage. It also hosts one of the world's largest commercial trade shows: The Canton Fair. If its gastronomy is famous around the world, Guangzhou is also known for the Pearl River landscapes and the luxurious Bai Yun mountain.

Discover Sofitel on

Discover A|Club at Sofitel, the worldwide Accor loyalty program on


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tourism Fiji launches dedicated ‘Fiji Me’ Australian website

Tourism Fiji has this week launched a dedicated Australian version of the global 'Fiji Me' website intended to make visiting the destination even easier than ever before.

Located at, as would be expected the new website is literally awash with information truly reflecting the multi-faceted nature of the destination – from family fun and boutique cruising to soft adventure, culture, surfing, spas and wellness, weddings and honeymoons and not forgetting simple relaxation!!

And with everything geared to reflect Fiji's ability to deliver a total holiday experience - Irrespective of taste, requirement or budget!

Tourism Fiji Regional Director Australia, Paresh Pant said a major component of the new website was an inbuilt holiday planner which offers access to literally thousands of travel products and ideas.

Making life even easier and allowing travellers access to expert advice, the site also offers a comprehensive listing of the national tourist office's more than 400 nationally-spread 'Matai' specialist travel agents, each of which is well fully equipped to handle any Fiji holiday requirement.

The website is also accessible via iPhones, iPads and Android powered tablets.

Mr Pant said the release of the new website was timely given Fiji's ongoing popularity with Australians.

"We welcomed more that 320,000 Australian visitors last year - some 50,000 more than we originally anticipated at the beginning of 2010," he said,

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places