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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Banyan Tree Shanghai Spa Launch/Release


Banyan Tree Spa brings its award-winning blend of Asian therapies to greater heights with the launch of the Spa at Banyan Tree Shanghai On The Bund, Shanghai's first all river view hotel.  This marks the second outlet in Shanghai following Banyan Tree Spa's debut in the city in 2003 and the group's seventh spa in Greater China.

A Sensory Experience at Banyan Tree Spa

Located in Shanghai's iconic Bund district, the Spa is close to both historic landmarks and the new cultural and commercial centres of the cosmopolitan city.  Spanning over 1,300 square metres over three floors within the urban resort, the award-winning spa features 11 exquisitely appointed treatment rooms including two Imperial Rooms with a Rainmist facility or Thai Massage area, four Double Deluxe Rooms and five Single Rooms. The name of each room is inspired by the 24 Chinese solar terms. For a rejuvenating wellness experience, the spa is complemented by a beauty salon, nail bar and Banyan Tree Gallery. 

Embracing the local culture and traditional Chinese healing philosophy, Banyan Tree Spa Shanghai On the Bund's design concept is themed on the Five Elements, which are translated into unique colours and inspirations.

The Spa showcases a contemporary design combining sleek lines with traditional materials. Warm lighting, an inviting reception area which exudes elegance with a clear glass panel embedded with grey criss-cross textured patterns, a beige sofa and silk floral-motif throw cushions are just a few of the comforting touches.

A Spa stairway leads down to treatment rooms with sunlight streaming in from a skylight overhead.  The walkway of treatment rooms is framed on one side by a two-storey wall of vivid green plants which embraces nature, with a contrasting dark wooden wall opposite which features symmetrical vertical metallic strips.

Treatment rooms draw reference from the Five Elements of gold, wood, water, fire and earth in their design.  The Water-themed rooms feature clean horizontal lines across the ceiling and crystal-blue lighting; Gold-themed rooms include classic matte gold accents; Fire-themed rooms showcase vibrant red hues; and Wood and Earth rooms feature soothing neutral tones.

Visit :


Tourism Australia Response to Qantas

The Board of Tourism Australia convened a meeting yesterday (Wednesday 28 November) under its Deputy Chair, Kate Lamont, to consider the decision by the Qantas Group to suspend future marketing activities with the organisation.

The Board noted that Tourism Australia Chairman Geoff Dixon had previously declared an interest in Qantas, in line with Tourism Australia's existing Board Charter and Governance protocols which apply for all Directors.

It was the Board's view at the time, and remains the case, that this does not create an unmanageable conflict of interest.

Deputy Chair Kate Lamont said: "As per regular Board protocols, having declared the interest, Chairman Geoff Dixon will continue to absent himself from all matters relating to the Qantas Group."

Tourism Australia will continue to deliver on its objectives in conjunction with its partners across the industry.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said: "The Qantas Group represents Tourism Australia's largest and highest value tourism marketing partnership. This year alone, Qantas and Tourism Australia were contributing almost $5 million each to market Australia for mutual benefit in key markets such as the United Kingdom and the USA.

"While important, this and other support, represents around 6% of Tourism Australia's total marketing effort and we are confident that our future spend won't be compromised in any way.

"It is encouraging that Qantas have committed to G'day LA / G'day USA (January 2013), the Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) in Sydney in April 2013 and other planned marketing activity.

"We'd like to reassure the industry, that given the number and scale of other commercial partnerships, Tourism Australia will continue to aggressively market Australia to overseas consumers.

"Tourism Australia works with many commercial partners including 20 international airlines as well as the States and Territories, Australian industry and international travel distributors," Mr McEvoy said.

For the year ending September 2012, Australia welcomed a record six million international visitors with numbers increasing rapidly from Asia and a return to growth from the USA, Japan and other key global markets. Domestic tourism has also experienced five straight quarters of growth, while outbound travel by Australians has slowed to its lowest levels in years.

Bad Medicine - How Cold and Flu Pills can Spoil a Holiday

Many travellers are unaware that bringing simple, everyday medicines from Australia into certain countries can result in hefty fines or even a jail sentence. SureSave, a leading travel insurance provider for travel agents, has provided Aussie travel agents with a range of tips to provide to holidaymakers to prevent their next case of the sniffles from turning into a stint in a lockup.

Executive Director at SureSave, Michael McAuliffe, says it's important for travellers to carefully consider which medicines to pack and which to avoid.

"Over the last decade or so, countries around the world have been cracking down on pseudoephedrine-based medications to stem the manufacture of illicit substances, such as methamphetamine," says McAuliffe.

"Japan is a prime example of a country that's very tough on cough and cold remedies containing high concentrations of pseudoephedrine and codeine. While these are commonplace in Australia, anyone found bringing sizable amounts of these types of remedies into Japan will immediately be treated as a drug dealer."

Even more stringent laws are in place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A wide range of common medicines, including codeine-based painkillers, valium and ritalin, are illegal in the UAE.

"Should they be found on a traveller, there can be serious consequences. Even the most miniscule traces of any controlled substance on an individual's person, or in some cases, in their bloodstream, can potentially land them in prison. In one high profile case, a British woman was found to have codeine in her body and was held in a Dubai jail for eight weeks before being sent home. Travellers need to be aware," says McAuliffe.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises that any traveller requiring medications check with the appropriate consulate or embassy regarding what is allowable and what extra information may also need to be supplied. It may be necessary to obtain a customs clearance or import permit, even for a medication which has been subscribed to them.

"A good rule of thumb is not to bring any medicines into a foreign country, unless absolutely necessary. If you're suffering from a cold, feeling under the weather is a small price to pay compared to potentially spending a few weeks in a foreign lockup," says McAuliffe.

Agents can read more about how to protect themselves from being treated like a drug dealer in Japan on the SureSave website, or download a PDF for their customers.

For more information, visit or call 1300 787 376.

Cunard 7-day Sale on now


Monday, November 26, 2012


The opening of QT Sydney this September has already stirred up excitement. Art-driven design and eccentric characters (read: staff) throughout the hotel have given it quite the reputation in the Harbour City, and the bustling new Gowings Bar & Grill is one more reason to see what all the fuss is about. Located on the first floor of the hotel, the restaurant offers a smart interpretation of classic brasserie cuisine, with an eclectic menu focused on fresh local ingredients and wood-fired rotisserie. Robert Marchetti has joined as Creative Food Director, bringing more than 24 years of experience as one of Australia's premier restaurateurs.

A New Twist on Tradition
From being beckoned through the door by the "Directors of Chaos" to taking a ride in an elevator with music reflecting the number of people in the group (romantic, lonesome or party), patrons of Gowings Bar & Grill will feel like they're at one of the city's hippest hangouts. Sticking true to the heritage of the Gowings Department Store and the historic State Theatre, ostentatious costumes and the theatricality of the "cast members" spice up the vibe, enhanced by the sleek, dark-tiled open kitchen with wood-fired ovens and rotisseries. Executive Chef Paul Easson, who has worked alongside notable chefs in London, Japan and Australia, and his team prepare a wide-ranging assortment of dishes, ranging from New York deli-styled classics such as Matzah ball soup and pastrami sandwiches, to new interpretations of delicacies such as yellowfin tuna tartar, suckling pig, whole-roasted quail and Wagyu beef steaks. Robert Marchetti plays with new twists to simple dishes with classic aromas, fresh produce, organic meat and sustainably caught fish.

Ian Cook, Managing Director at Five Way Cellars, joins Marchetti and Easson as the restaurant's Wine Consultant, bringing a wealth of knowledge with him. The team has created a wine list that enhances the menu, with a selection of international and domestic wines, ranging from full-bodied South Australian reds to light and dry rosés from the South of France.

QT Sydney
QT Sydney is set within two of the city's most iconic buildings – the historic Gowings Department Store and heritage-listed State Theater. While the facades have been restored to their former glory, inside is a stunning mix of original features, curated digital art installations, eclectic artifacts and quirky design pieces inspired by the retail and theater history of the buildings. Dramatic LED art walls are framed by restored art deco and baroque details, next to show-stopping spotlights and ornate gilt display cases throughout the hotel. Designers Shelly Indyk and Nic Graham have set many quirky nuances across all 200 rooms and the public spaces of the hotel. From amenities such as the in-house barber shop featuring hot shaves in the Q-spa, a 50-seat cinema, edgy design and flamboyant staff members, the show at QT Sydney is unforgettable.

Rooms start at AUD 380.

Airlie Beach Race Week 2013

The Whitsunday Sailing Club is pleased to confirm the dates for 2013 Airlie Beach Race Week are Thursday 8 to Thursday 15 August. This includes six days of racing, the Opening and Closing parties and a lay day on Monday 12 August. Continuing on from the success of this year, the Whitsunday Reef Festival will run from 15-18 August and include the Great Whitsunday Fun Race on Saturday 17 August.

Rob Davis, Commodore of the Whitsunday Sailing Club said, “we are thrilled to have received funding from Events Queensland for 2013 which will go towards increased marketing efforts. Events Queensland funding not only promotes the event but helps deliver tourism benefits to the region and to a wider audience. We have also had tremendous feedback from all stakeholders from this year’s event and we are now working to ensure 2013 is bigger and better.”

In line with boosting tourism to the region the Whitsunday Sailing Club and the Reef Festival have aligned events to encourage visitation to the Whitsundays in August. Mr Davis said, “the Reef Festival will round off a week of fantastic sailing and provide additional events, fireworks and entertainment for the support teams, spectators and visitors and encourage them to stay a bit longer in Airlie Beach.”

Airlie Beach Race Week is a major regional Queensland event which receives support from the Whitsunday Regional Council and Tourism Queensland through the Queensland’s ‘Season of Sailing’ campaign over the past three years. The Whitsunday Sailing Club held the most successful regatta this year with over 120 yachts registered and over 40 sponsors supporting the event. Mr Davis says, “we are already talking to businesses regarding next year’s event and we would be happy to hear from anyone who would like to come onboard.”

Accommodation sponsors of this year’s event included Airlie Beach Hotel, Mango House, Shingley Beach Resort and Portside Whitsunday. Airlie Beach offers a wide choice of accommodation ranging from five star resorts, holiday apartments to caravan parks and backpacker hostels but it is a good idea to start booking early for 2013. For more information about the region, events, accommodation and tours go to

The website will be up and running with new information for 2013 in the near future.

8Hotels to Open Designer, Boutique Hotel in Sydney in 2013

Boutique Hotel Operator, 8Hotels has announced plans to launch a boutique hotel in the inner-city suburb of Pyrmont, Sydney, with the $30 million redevelopment set to open in March 2013.

The hotel, named 1888 after the year the building which will house it was erected, will include 90 hotel rooms, a 60-seat bar-restaurant called 1888 Eatery and boutique conferencing facilities.

Discussing the features of the building, 8Hotels' Founder and CEO Paul Fischmann said 1888 would have soaring high ceilings, exposed brick walls, huge period windows and a seven-storey, light-filled, internal atrium.

"It will be the most unique hotel in our 20-property collection, but we're expecting it to be one of the most unique, contemporary hotels in Australia," Fischmann said.

Repurposed iron bark, recovered during the initial stages of the redevelopment, will also feature throughout the rooms and public areas of the hotel.

"Each hotel room will feature desks and shelves made from reclaimed and repurposed Iron Bark and we will also feature this beautiful Australian hard wood in the lobby and the bar-restaurant," Fischmann said.

Polished concrete, steel, bronze, marble and an eclectic collection of antique furnishings are among the other materials being used throughout the building which will provide 1888 with a distinctly urban feel.

"The interior design has been a truly collaborative effort between 8Hotels, our developers, architects and designers. Our focus has been on retaining the original fabric and old-world charm of the building, while incorporating contemporary, luxury features - those things desired by the modern traveller," he said.

Discussing the origins of the hotel, Fischmann said 1888, located at 139 Murray Street, was the culmination of a long, collaborative search with the developers to find the right hotel opportunity in an amazing location.

"Due to its proximity to the city, Pyrmont and Ultimo business districts, the Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, the Entertainment Centre and many other popular attractions, we believe 1888 will be popular with both corporate and leisure travellers."

Prior to the purchase, the building housed commercial offices, but was originally constructed and used for wool-storage.

The hotel is expected to employ upwards of 60 people.

1888 will be the seventh Sydney property to feature within the 8Hotels Collection - a group of boutique properties defined by world-class service, amazing locations and great value.

"You're nicked!" - former Greenwich police station re-opens as Mercure hotel

This converted  RIBA Bronze awarded former police building has been modelled to a high specification and is now open as The Mercure London Greenwich Hotel.

A 1930s Police Station in the heart of Greenwich has been converted and re-opened as the Mercure London Greenwich. Fortunately, Mercure hotel staff won't be throwing away the keys, and guests will control their locks.

The Mercure has been created out of the former police "Section House", which – despite its utilitarian purpose – was winner of the 1946 Royal Institute of British Architects Bronze Award.

Elegantly renovated and restored, the 145 room hotel successfully combines authentic architecture with contemporary design to offer boutique accommodation in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. A two storey extension has been added at roof level with 'floor to ceiling' glass rooms that provide far-reaching views over the city.  The stunning penthouse suite occupys the 9th floor of the extension, offering elegant and spacious accommodation in addition to the vista of the London skyline.

The hotel is situated within a conservation area in Greenwich, providing the perfect location for enjoying its bustling market and shops.  A stone's throw from world famous tourist attractions, including the Cutty Sark, O2 Arena and Skyline, the hotel is ideally positioned for those looking to escape on weekend breaks.  The bar and restaurant, hosted in the former shooting range of the police building, provide a stylish retreat to recline in after a busy day's sightseeing.

Equally, the hotel's proximity to the business hub of Canary Wharf and close transport links to London City Airport make it a convenient choice for business guests, with private meeting room, a fully equipped gym and free WiFi available to all guests plus a world of team building acitivies within walking distance.
Michael Rebeiro, General Manager at Mercure London Greenwich Hotel, commented, "Having the opportunity to renovate a previously redundant building - especially one with such history and character - has made this opening really exciting.  Our  hotel is perfect for leisure and business guests with its ideal location and design led renovation."

Jonathan Sheard, Managing Director for MGallery and Mercure UK & Ireland, added: " This is a fantastic hotel. The way that the building has been designed with so much light and glass really opens up the hotel for guests to experience the local area - a very important aspect of a Mercure hotel. We are very proud of our growth for the Mercure portfolio this year and we will continue to increase it in 2013."

Mercure is the second largest mid-scale hotel chain worldwide - outside North America - with a network of over 700 hotels in 51 countries.

Stays in the newly opened Mercure London Greenwich are available from £129.00 per room per night.

 For additional information, please visit


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Qantas Gets New Aircraft, Improves East-West Experience

Qantas now operates nine A330s on its domestic network

Qantas has today announced it will deploy wide-body Airbus A330s on all weekday Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth services as it continues to meet demand for business and premium travel on the routes.

A new Qantas A330, which landed in Sydney this morning from the Airbus factory in Toulouse, will become the ninth A330 flying on the Qantas domestic network and will start passenger flights within weeks.

Qantas Domestic Chief Executive Officer Lyell Strambi, who unveiled the new aircraft to over 1000 Qantas employees at an event in Sydney, said the A330 aircraft was a vital part of the Qantas domestic strategy.

"Qantas' A330 aircraft offer superior space and comfort and have individual in-flight entertainment for all of our passengers, making them ideal for longer flights," Mr Strambi said.

"From May next year, Qantas will deploy A330s on all weekday Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth services which will enable us to better service the growing business market.

"One of Qantas' key strengths in the domestic market is our wide-body aircraft, which are very popular with our customers."

Qantas has 30 wide-body aircraft operating on domestic routes in Australia, made up of A330s and B767s.

Mr Strambi said Qantas had signed a number of major new corporate accounts over the past few months, many who have tried other airlines and returned to Qantas.

"In addition to our fleet of new aircraft, our superior network, frequencies, lounges, on-time performance, and frequent flyer program, have seen us maintain our status as best for business and premium travellers," he said.

"We are also the only domestic airline that offers a meal and checked-in baggage to every passenger as part of their fare, no matter what time they are flying or which class they are in."

The new Qantas A330 is configured with 36 seats in Business and 268 seats in Economy. Airbus has installed the latest Panasonic on-demand in-flight entertainment and laptop power in every seat.

Qantas currently operates around 100 return flights with more than 26,000 seats from Perth to Sydney and Melbourne each week - about 40 per cent more than our competitor.

Mr Strambi said with the A330, next generation Boeing 737-800 and a growing fleet of regional aircraft including the Boeing 717 and Bombardier Q400 aircraft, Qantas was well positioned for growth in Australia.

"The significant and ongoing fleet renewal is great for customers, great for our shareholders and great for our employees," he said.

"The Qantas Group has taken delivery of 24 next-generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft with individual entertainment units for all passengers and over the next 12 months another eight will join the fleet.

"Our Boeing 717 aircraft, which we fly on our intra-West Australian and Queensland routes particularly for the mining and resources sectors, will also have new seats and updated interiors installed."

"By March, Qantas will have refurbished 16 Boeing 767 (B767) aircraft with new interiors and individual in- flight entertainment streamed direct to iPads in every seat. These aircraft look and feel like new and we expect these changes to be very popular with our customers."

In the past 12 months Qantas has resumed services from Sydney to the Gold Coast, built new lounges at Gold Coast, Gladstone, Mackay, Emerald, Davenport and Rockhampton airport, commenced services to a number of new regional and Fly-In-Fly-Out destinations and introduced a number of new initiatives to improve customer experiences including free Wi-Fi at airports and dedicated premium boarding.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Accor celebrates 30 years in Asia-Pacific with record-breaking growth

Sofitel So Singapore
100 new contracts signed in 2012, establishing Accor as Asia-Pacific's largest and most dynamic hotel group

Accor, the largest international hotel operator in Asia-Pacific, today commemorates its 30th anniversary in the region. The milestone comes as the French hotelier celebrates a year of record-breaking expansion, opening 110 new properties, ranging from luxury to budget, which will bring Accor's network in the region to 550 hotels by the end of the year.

As part of the celebrations, Denis Hennequin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Accor S.A and Michael Issenberg, Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Accor Asia-Pacific, announced the Group's 100th new hotel contract – Novotel Goa Shrem Resort – signed in the region this year, boosting the Group's ambition to operate 700 Asia-Pacific hotels by 2015. The announcement of the 150-room Novotel marks Accor's first property in this key market in India.

Three decades of building market leadership

Accor's story in the region began in 1982, when the Group launched the Novotel Orchid Singapore. In the 1980s, Accor laid its foundations, opening its first hotels in Thailand, Greater China and South Korea. As the 1990s began, the Group's Asia-Pacific network comprised just 13 hotels, but by the end of the decade the portfolio had grown to 180 hotels across the whole region and in all market sectors. In the following 12 years, the Group's regional network has more than tripled to 550 hotels in 16 countries.

Today, Accor is market leader in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Looking forward, the Group has ambitious plans with the aim of expanding from 18 hotels to 90 hotels in India, from 126 hotels to over 200 hotels in Greater China, and to nearly double its network of 52 hotels in Indonesia. By 2015, Accor expects to operate 700 hotels in the region. And the Group continues to set its sights on new markets in Asia-Pacific: earlier this month, Accor announced that it will enter its 17th market in the region – Bangladesh – with two Novotel hotels in Dhaka and Chittagong.


Asia-Pacific a key driver of growth for Accor

To commemorate this historic milestone for the Group, Mr. Hennequin addressed his colleagues in Singapore today, saying, "Dynamic, diverse, growing – these three words aptly describe Accor's first three decades in Asia-Pacific. As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, I am proud to reflect not only on our successes and on lessons learned, but also to look forward to the tremendous opportunities that await us. What started out as one hotel in Singapore in 1982 has grown into the region's market leader and one of the most important drivers of growth for Accor globally."

A record-breaking year

The celebration comes as Accor announces another record year in Asia-Pacific, adding 110 new hotels, representing over 19,000 rooms to the network, a sharp increase from the 67 hotels and over 12,000 rooms added in 2011.

"As we look back on our first three decades in the region, we also celebrate a bumper year for Accor in Asia-Pacific, shattering the records we set last year," said Michael Issenberg, Chairman and Chief Operating Officer, Accor Asia-Pacific. "In May, we announced our 500th hotel in the region – Pullman Gurgaon Central Park. In June, we added 43 hotels in Australia and New Zealand, with our successful acquisition of MIRVAC. In September, we passed the 100,000-room threshold with the opening of the flagship ibis Hong Kong Central and Sheung Wan. And we're thrilled to announce the signing of Novotel Goa Shrem Resort – which will be our first hotel in this important Indian destination. This contract represents the 100th new hotel signed in the region in 2012 and brings our confirmed development pipeline to nearly 240 properties."

Expansion across all segments – luxury to budget

Accor has expanded across all segments – from luxury to budget – in the region, with a number of exciting "firsts" in 2012.

Sofitel, the Group's luxury hotel brand, for instance, opened its first property in India with Sofitel Mumbai BKC, and introduced the Sofitel So brand in the region, with the opening of Sofitel So Bangkok.

The upscale Pullman brand opened its 14th hotel in China – with Pullman Anshan Time Square – positioning the country as the brand's largest market – and entered new markets India and New Zealand for the first time. In February, Accor launched Mei Jue – the upscale Grand Mercure brand tailor-made for Chinese travellers – with an ambitious goal of opening 60 properties by 2015. The brand has gained rapid acceptance from both development partners and customers – nearly 20% of Accor's hotels under development in China today are tailor-made Grand Mercure hotels.

Following a major re-launch in 2011, the Ibis brand family of economy hotels (Ibis, Ibis Styles, Ibis budget) expanded into new markets this year, entering Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan for the first time with Ibis Saigon South, Ibis Styles Fraser Business Park and Ibis Tokyo Shinjuku, respectively.

"One of the things that sets Accor apart from our competitors is our ability to offer a comprehensive portfolio of hotels, from luxury to budget, to cater to the needs of a vast range of travellers," said Mr. Issenberg. "We have also made significant enhancements to each of the brands, setting the pace in their respective market sectors. For instance, Accor's Ibis brand has redefined economy hotel accommodation with the innovative design of its rooms and the introduction of a new bedding concept that effectively offers 5-star bedding standards in a 3-star product."

Strong partnerships

As Accor reinforces its global "asset-light" strategy – focusing on management contracts and franchise agreements over hotel ownership – the Group is looking towards Asia-Pacific, which has led the way with asset-light operating models. Over 80% of Accor's network in the region represents either franchised or managed hotels.

As part of this asset-light strategy, Accor in July partnered with Singapore-based Ascendas in the creation of A-HTRUST, one of the largest publicly listed hotel investment trusts in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Our 'asset-light' strategy has been made possible through the development of strong partnerships forged over the years with hotel owners and franchisees," said Mr. Issenberg. "These partnerships are as varied as the countries in which we operate and range from diverse family businesses to institutional investors."

Sustainable growth

While Accor's expansion in the region has been dynamic, it has not been "growth at any cost." Over three decades, the Group has undertaken many initiatives to make its hotels more sustainable – both in terms of environment and the community. For example, in 2001, Accor employees in Indonesia launched A Tree for a Child, an innovative project combining environmental protection and poverty alleviation. In 2003, Accor became the first international hotel operator to sign the ECPAT Code of Conduct to combat child sex tourism. And in 2008, Novotel Bali Benoa became the first hotel in the region to achieve a third party environmental management certification.

This year, Accor launched PLANET 21, the Group's new sustainable development program, which covers 21 commitments to reinventing hotels, sustainably. Accor employees around the region celebrated the program's kickoff by planting trees.

Concluded Mr. Issenberg, "I'm proud of what we have achieved over the last three decades – and I am positive in my outlook for the future of the Group in this dynamic region."

Accor, the world's leading hotel operator and market leader in Europe, is present in 92 countries with nearly 3,500 hotels and 440,000 rooms. Accor's broad portfolio of hotel brands - Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Mercure, Adagio, ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget and hotelF1 - provide an extensive offer from luxury to budget. With more than 160,000 employees in Accor brand hotels worldwide, the Group offers its clients and partners 45 years of know-how and expertise. | |

Industry Celebrated At 2012 NSW Tourism Awards

The achievements of the State's Tourism industry were celebrated overnight during a gala ceremony to mark the 2012 NSW Tourism Awards.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events, George Souris, congratulated the winners and praised the innovation and dedication of the industry.

"It was my honour to be present at the 2012 NSW Tourism Awards and to celebrate the hard work of the individuals and organisations who strive for excellence in this most important industry," said Minister Souris.

"The tourism industry contributes $20.2 billion per year in international and domestic overnight visitor expenditure to the NSW economy and tourism employment accounts for one in every 22 jobs in NSW."

"The NSW Tourism Awards is an important opportunity to recognise the achievements of the industry and those who strive for success and the shared common goal of ensuring NSW is the number one visitor destination in Australia."

Chairman of the Tourism Industry Council NSW, Mr Ken Corbett congratulated the 2012 winners for building upon the standards of quality in years gone by.

"These winners are a strong reminder of the depth of product quality that exists within our state and I look forward to seeing NSW winners continue their success at the Australian Tourism Awards in Hobart in February 2013".

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Chipchase, said the Awards were a wonderful testament to the diversity and strength of the industry.

"The Awards celebrate not only the winners but the finalists from across the State who were nominated in the 2012 NSW Tourism Awards, which is a major achievement in itself," said Ms Chipchase.

The NSW Tourism Awards recognise excellence and outstanding achievement in tourism across 31categories from accommodation, festivals and events, heritage and cultural tourism, tourism education and training, and restaurant and catering services.

The 2012 NSW Tourism Awards were announced at La Montage, Lilyfield, in front of 650 people. The NSW Tourism Award winners will automatically become finalists in the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, to be held in Hobart in February 2013.


Major Tourist Attractions

Gold Award - Blue Mountains National Park - Katoomba (Blue Mountains)
Silver Award - Sydney Tower Eye (Sydney)

Tourist Attractions

Gold Award - Cape Byron State Conservation Area - Byron Bay (Ballina)
Silver Award - The Magic of Jenolan - Jenolan Caves (Bathurst)
Bronze Award - Mogo Zoo (Mogo, Bega)

Major Festivals and Events

Gold Award - 2012 Tamworth Country Music Festival (Tamworth)
Silver Award - The 23rd Annual Bluesfest Byron Bay (Ballina)
Bronze Award - Sydney Royal Easter Show - Sydney Olympic Park (Strathfield)

Festivals and Events

Gold Award - Deni Ute Muster - Deniliquin (Murray-Darling)
Silver Award - NSW Caravan, Camping, RV and Holiday Supershow - Harris Park (Parramatta)
Bronze Award - Festival of the Sun (Port Macquarie)


Gold Award - Jenolan Caves - Ancient Underworld -Jenolan Caves (Bathurst)
Silver Award - Life's An Adventure (Blue Mountains)
Bronze Award - Sydney Coast Walks (Cronulla)

Heritage and Cultural Tourism

Gold Award - Jenolan Caves - Written In Stone -Jenolan Caves (Bathurst)
Silver Award - Blue Mountains Walking Tracks - Katoomba (Blue Mountains)
Bronze Award - Glasshouse Port Macquarie (Port Macquarie)

Indigenous Tourism

Gold Award - Mutawintji Eco Tours/Tri State Safaris - Broken Hill (Murray-Darling)
Highly Commended - Brewarrina Visitor Information & Cultural Centre - Brewarrina (Barwon)

Specialised Tourism Services

Gold Award - Business Events Sydney (Sydney)
Silver Award - Spa Sublime - Katoomba (Blue Mountains)
Bronze Award - Newcastle Airport - Raymond Terrace (Port Stephens)

Visitor Information and Services

Gold Award - Moree Visitor Information Centre - Moree (Barwon)
Silver Award - Clarence River Tourism - Grafton (Clarence)
Bronze Award - Greater Port Macquarie Visitor Information Centre (Port Macquarie)

Business Tourism

Gold Award - Mercure Kooindah Waters Central Coast (Wyong)
Silver Award - Business Events Sydney (Sydney)
Bronze Award - Rydges Port Macquarie (Port Macquarie)

Major Tour and/or Transport Operators

Gold Award - Moonshadow Cruises - Nelson Bay (Port Stephens)

Tour and/or Transport Operators

Gold Award - Tri State Safaris - Broken Hill (Murray-Darling)
Silver Award - Life's An Adventure (Blue Mountains)
Bronze Award - Boutique Tours Australia - Gordon (Davidson)

Adventure Tourism

Gold Award - Adventure Underground - Jenolan Caves (Bathurst)
Silver Award - Life's An Adventure (Blue Mountains)
Bronze Award - TreeTop Adventure Park Central Coast - Bulahdelah (Myall Lakes)

Tourism Marketing

Gold Award - Brand Hunter Valley - Pokolbin (Cessnock)
Silver Award - The Legendary Pacific Coast - Nambucca Heads (Port Macquarie)
Bronze Award - Riverina Visiting Friends & Relatives Publicity Program - Marrar (Wagga Wagga)

Tourism Education and Training

Gold Award - Travel 21fiftythree, Western Sydney Institute, TAFE NSW (Baulkham Hills)
Silver Award - Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School - Leura (Blue Mountains)
Bronze Award - TAFE North Coast Institute - Tourism Events and Hospitality Section -Alstonville (Ballina)

Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services

Gold Award - Margan Restaurant - Broke (Upper Hunter)
Silver Award - Byron Beach Café - Byron Bay (Ballina)
Bronze Award - Bent on Food (Wingham, Myall Lakes)

Tourism Wineries, Distilleries and Breweries

Gold Award - Wyndham Estate Winery - Dalwood (Cessnock)
Silver Award - Bimbadgen - Branxton (Cessnock)
Bronze Award - Lowe Wines - Mudgee (Orange)

Tourist and Caravan Parks

Gold Award - BIG4 Deniliquin Holiday Park - Deniliquin (Murray-Darling)
Silver Award - NRMA Merimbula Beach Holiday Park - Merimbula (Bega)
Bronze Award - Nambucca River Tourist Park M - Macksville (Oxley)

Backpacker Accommodation

Gold Award - Sydney Harbour YHA (Sydney)

Hosted Accommodation

Gold Award - Mollymook Beach Waterfront - Mollymook (South Coast)
Silver Award - Eldee Station - Silverton (Murray-Darling)
Bronze Award - Honeycomb Valley Farm - Nabiac (Myall Lakes)

Unique Accommodation

Gold Award - Somewhere Unique - Wollombi (Cessnock)
Silver Award - DAG Sheep Station (Tamworth)
Bronze Award - Diamond Waters Treehouse Retreat - Laurieton (Port Macquarie)

Standard Accommodation

Gold Award - Scone Motor Inn - Scone (Upper Hunter)
Silver Award - Ibis Sydney on Darling Harbour (Sydney)

Deluxe Accommodation

Gold Award - The Observatory Port Macquarie (Port Macquarie)
Silver Award - The Vintry - Pokolbin (Cessnock)
Bronze Award - Macquarie Waters Boutique Apartment Hotel (Port Macquarie)

Luxury Accommodation

Gold Award - Sheraton on the Park (Sydney)
Silver Award - Bells at Killcare Boutique Hotel, Restaurant & Spa - Killcare Heights (Terrigal)
Bronze Award - Mountain Whispers - Roselands - Leura (Blue Mountains)

New Tourism Development

Gold Award - Madame Tussauds (Sydney)
Silver Award - Newcastle Museum - Honeysuckle (Newcastle)
Bronze Award - Green Gully Track - Walcha (Northern Tablelands)

Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism

Gold Award - The Observatory Port Macquarie (Port Macquarie)

Tourist Pubs

Gold Award - Gol Gol Hotel - Gol Gol (Murray-Darling)
Silver Award - Shoal Bay Country Club Hotel - Shoal Bay (Port Stephens)

Local Government Award for Tourism

Gold Award - Port Macquarie Hastings Council (Port Macquarie)
Silver Award - Narrabri Shire Council Visitor Information Centre - Narrabri (Barwon)
Bronze Award - Junee Tourism - Junee (Murrumbidgee)

Outstanding Contribution to Regional Tourism

Mrs Jenny-Lee Stefas, Tourism Manager, Sutherland Shire Council (Heathcote)

Outstanding Contribution to Tourism by an Individual

Mr Philip Hele, General Manager, Hunter Resort - Pokolbin (Cessnock)

Lifetime Contribution Award

Mr Barry Baillie

Sun Herald Reader's Choice Award

Harry Potter - The Exhibition, Powerhouse Museum (Sydney)

Young Achiever in Tourism Award

Ms Belinda Stapleton, Managing Director, Spicers Vineyards Estate - Pokolbin (Cessnock)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Voyager of the Seas arrives in home port, Sydney

Largest cruise ship based in Australia arrives at her new Australian home port

The biggest and most innovative cruise ship to be based in Australia, Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas, has arrived at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal - the first ever call at her new 'home port'.

Today over 3,000 passengers – around a third whom are from the USA and Europe – will disembark at the end of her maiden Australian voyage – an 18-night Australia and New Zealand cruise from Fremantle.

Last night at 7pm, spectators witnessed a spectacular sight as two beautiful cruise ships, Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Millennium  and her 'big sister' Royal Caribbean International's Voyager of the Seas passed one another in Sydney Harbour accompanied by a water cannon tug-boat.

As the result of the visit of the two ships, the Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal will experience  the busiest 24-hour period in its 52-year history with over 11,500 people to be processed through the facility. There were 4,300 guests embarking and disembarking Celebrity Millennium on Thursday 22 November, and another 7,200 guests will embark and disembark Voyager of the Seas on Friday 23 November.

Australia's historic first megaliner weighs in at 137,000 GRT, is 311 metres long, is 38 metres wide and has 15 passenger decks.  At almost double the size of any ship currently based in Australia, she hosts up to 3,800 guests and 1,200 crew – more than the population of NSW towns like Bega and Bellingen.

To give you an idea of her size, if Voyager of the Seas was stood up vertically then she would be two metres taller than the Centrepoint Tower and with 1,557 staterooms, Voyager of the Seas has twice as many bedrooms as Australia's largest hotel (the Sheraton Four Points Darling Harbour).

Voyager of the Seas is big enough to have her own street on board which runs the length of a football field and is lined with shops, restaurants and bars; an ice skating rink; 1,350-seat La Scala Theater; a restaurant which seats 2,000 guests; a 9-metre rock climbing wall soaring 61 metres above sea level; three swimming pools and six whirlpools; a nine-hole mini-golf course; a golf simulator for perfecting that swing and full-size basketball court.

Voyager of the Seas will remain in Sydney over the weekend, sailing on a one-night cruise on Friday 23 November, then departing again for her next cruise on Sunday afternoon. Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises are owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited.

* Helicopter images captured by Eugene Tan from Aquabumps.

*On the ground images taken from Sydney Harbour Bridge taken by Simon Bullard.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Rosemarie Sama Announces Luxe Events + Travel Experiences (LETE)

September 2-4, 2013 in Sydney

Luxury Invitation-only Business to Business Travel Exchange to Focus on Experiential Travel Experiences & Events Market

Rosemarie Sama, award-winning former Event Director of AIME and founder of Luxperience today announced that her event returns in 2013 with a new format and a new name that besides experiential travel gives a bigger focus to the small-scale experiential meetings and luxury events market, a niche within the travel industry which is growing in importance.

“I learnt from buyers feedback at the first year’s Luxperience, which was incredibly well received by the buyers and suppliers who participated, that there is a huge demand for this type of event but that a greater focus on experiential meetings and events was needed,” said Ms Sama. “Hence my event for 2013 has a new format and a new name – Luxe Events + Travel Experiences (LETE).

LETE 2013 will be held from September 2- 4, 2013 at Sydney’s Overseas Passengers Terminal, a stunning event space overlooking the Sydney Opera House and affording magnificent views of the harbour, and which proved such a hit with attendees at the inaugural Luxperience in September this year.

The event will have a global focus, and buyers will be cherry-picked to ensure only the highest quality attendance from among high end travel agents, corporate buyers and bespoke events planners.

In a bold new move, there will be no exhibition booths, only comfortable lounge-style meetings areas and a fixed pricing system to ensure a level playing field for participation and an affordable entry price point.

A series of no less than eight fun and informative networking events, all held around the Sydney Harbour area, will also be staged around the event as well as inspiring education sessions.

Rosemarie Sama is credited with having arranged some of the most successful and innovative travel industry events in the world and LETE 2013 will be no exception. During her tenure at AIME, the show won the “Exhibition of the Year Award” for three consecutive years.

The new event focus has been welcomed by suppliers such as Herbie Rosenberg, owner of Africa reps.

“The most important benefit of your event this year was my ability to meet and interface with top end travel agents and incentive operators which will stand me and my principals in good stead for the future. I am confident your new event will continue to ensure our expectations are met and look forward to supporting you.”

“Rosemarie understands business and the high end travel and event market, and knows the value of developing connections and nurturing relationships,” said Simone Liu, Owner and Director of Orana Events Australia.

“Australia needs a business exchange platform to showcase to the world we are a unique luxury destination offering the business and leisure traveler extraordinary travel experiences and events. With Rosemarie at the helm, this annual event is sure to be a success. I look forward to seeing it come to life!”


Oceania Cruises’ Luxury Ship Makes Inaugural Visit to Australia in 2013

The Cruise Ship that Defined Upper-Premium Cruising

Oceania Cruises, recently awarded "Best Premium/Contemporary Cruise Line" by Virtuoso® at the 2012 Virtuoso Supplier Awards, will unveil down-under its newly built ship Marina in March 2013.  The ship made her maiden voyage from Barcelona to Miami in January 2011 redefining the upper-premium cruise market and to this day no other cruise line can match Oceania Cruises' luxuriousness.  Marina will make her first voyage in Australian waters to scheduled ports of call in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.

Marina was purpose-built to carry 1,250 guests to the world's most alluring ports in elegance and style.   A ship of many firsts, Marina features the first hands-on cooking school at sea, Bon Appétit Culinary Center; the first namesake restaurant of Master Chef Jacques Pépin at sea; Ralph Lauren Home furnished Owner's Suites; luxurious accommodations by Dakota Jackson; a Wine Spectator wine program; and a Lalique grand stairway.   Onboard facilities include 10 dining venues (six of which are open-seating gourmet restaurants), an array of bars and lounges, a full-service Canyon Ranch SpaClub and fitness centre, swimming pool and hot tubs.

For epicureans at heart, Oceania Cruises' exclusive Bon Appétit Culinary Center, available on Marina and sister ship Riviera, features 24 fully equipped work stations.  Induction cook tops and convection ovens afford guests the opportunity to become "Master Chefs" of the sea through hands-on cooking experiences suitable for all levels of aptitude.  Classes include Oceania Highlights, featuring favourite recipes from the cruise line's signature restaurants: Jacques, Red Ginger, Polo Grill and Toscana; Healthy Cooking, inspired by the line's collaboration with Canyon Ranch; and Emerging Cuisines, focusing on Moroccan, Peruvian and Asian-fusion dishes.

Oceania Cruises recently launched its culinary enrichment program Culinary Discovery Tours in more than 25 ports worldwide.  Available on Marina and Riviera, these tours provide guests the opportunity to explore local food markets in small groups alongside an expert chef.   Guests may visit an artisanal cheese maker, chocolatier, wine vineyard or a fish market.  Tours also incorporate mini-lectures, demonstrations or lunch before returning to the ship's Bon Appétit Culinary Center for a cooking class drawing inspiration from the local market.

For example, in Barcelona guests enjoy a Spanish olive oil tasting, shop at Santa Caterina Market and finish with lunch at a top tapas restaurant.   Across the Tasman in New Zealand, the culinary tour in Tauranga explores a flourishing kiwi orchard followed by a traditional Maori feast using native herbs and ingredients.  In a private area overlooking a hot geothermal pool, guests see and learn how their lunch is cooked using the natural hot geothermal water – a method that Maoris have used for over 650 years.

A leader in destination cruising and defining the upper-premium market, Oceania Cruises offering gourmet cuisine, gracious service and award-winning itineraries at exceptional value.

For more information, please visit

Schoolies Survival Guide for Parents and Students

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With end of school celebrations in full swing, now is the time for parents to prepare their teen for the rite-of-passage that is schoolies. With some simple preventive measures, parents can ensure their teen's trip is as enjoyable as it safe, and at the same time ease their own worries.

One of the easiest ways to plan a safe schoolies trip is to book a chaperoned experience, at a designated 'schoolies only' destination.

One of the most popular chaperoned schoolies trips, accounting for 70 per cent of their 2012 sales, is Unleashed Travel's Fiji island tours.

Jot Lynas, CEO of Unleashed Travel, said, "It's not surprising that our Fiji charter island tours are our number one choice for schoolies. We offer all that a school leaver could want for their end of year trip; a party atmosphere complete with our own resident DJs, resort facilities, water sports,

team activities and the beautiful surrounds of Fiji for relaxation in the sun. But by far the main attraction is the schoolies exclusivity. Our schoolies just want one last group experience free from outside influences."

Unleashed Travel's Fiji packages are situated on four different resorts - Sonaisali, Beachcomber, Plantation Island and Mana Island. The resorts are carefully researched and strict controls are placed on all quests, to ensure all only HSC school leavers aged 17-18 years are allowed into the facilities. There are also strict controls on alcohol consumption, and guests are not permitted to bring in any outside alcohol. Unleashed Travel also provides their own staff to organise activities and guide schoolies no matter what time, 24 hours 7 days a week.

Prior to any trip, Unleashed Travel holds information nights to assist parents and students prepare for their schoolies holiday. Below Jot has listed the top five tips he shares with parents and schoolies to help them make the most of the experience.

Tips for Parents:

Take steps to alleviate your opportunities to worry: Parents have a habit of imagining the worst when their kids are out of their sight. Having a copy of your school leaver's itinerary will help alleviate some of the stress as you will know where they are.

Plan mental rest periods: There are many reasons for your teenager to not answer their phone while they are away.  A simple solution is to request the mobile numbers of at least two travelling companions and their accommodation and/or tour provider. Also agree in advance on a time-frame for calls, so if you haven't heard from them in an agreed time-period, you can call their friends without reprisal.

Schedule time to 'talk':  While getting through to your teen is often the problem, most will respond to a heart-felt conversation about their hopes and fears for their upcoming celebrations. Use this as a spring board to convey your life wisdom on how to get the most out of their experience, which of course, includes safety as the number one priority.

Be part of the celebrations: Don't leave all the planning to your soon-to-be-school-leaver. Take an active role in planning their trip to guide them on making the right choices for their holiday. You're likely to have more influence over where and who they travel with and be able to recommend an experience that is both safe and rewarding.

Trust yourself: You will sleep much better through the week if you trust the strategies you have put in place to ensure your teens safety while away. So relax and enjoy the time off. Schoolies can also be an ideal time for parents to relax and recharge their batteries.

Tips for School leavers:

  • Don't do anything you wouldn't do at home: If you wouldn't do something at home, you shouldn't do it period. While you may have been looking forward to the freedom of the schoolies experience, it's important to remember that common sense is the same no matter how far away from home you are.
  • ell people your plans and stick to them: One of the cardinal rules when travelling is to inform your travel companions of where you are headed and what time you will be back. If you need time alone or want to try something new, make sure you let someone know where you are going, when you will be back. And be back when you say you will.
  • You have a mobile phone – use it: Keep your phone with you at all times and ensure it is has a fully charged battery before your leave your accommodation. On overseas trips it's ideal to purchase a local sim card and encourage your travelling companions to do the same. A mobile ensures you can call for help when you need it (and others can reach you), and it keeps you in the loop on new activities, so you don't miss out on any of the fun.
  • Plan to have fun: To enjoy schoolies you need to be organised and have back-up plans in case things go wrong.  There are three things you MUST do. One. Know all of your emergency contacts. Don't just store them in your phone, write them out just in case and leave them in your wallet or luggage. Memorise at least one number. Two. Have at least two sources of money placed in different locations, such as an extra credit or debit card in your luggage. Three. Store your valuables properly. On overseas trips this means leaving your passport, debit/credit cards and any large sums of money in the hotel safe, not shoved under your bed. Travel insurance is also an absolute must for all overseas holidays.
  • Lose yourself, but don't get lost: Partying and meeting new people are likely to be your top priorities. While it's great to be open to new people and experiences they may offer, don't let your guard down. If you make self-care and safety your number one priority you will have all of the fun, with very little repercussion.

For further information on Fiji and Unleashed Travel's safer schoolies options, visit:


Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Problem with Orphanages in Cambodia

Media Release

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Children studying at an orphanage near Siem Reap,
 Photo: Rachael Bowes / Alamy

A new website has been launched to educate people about what orphanage tourism is and the devastating affect it is having on the children of Cambodia, many of whom are not even orphans.

Humanitarian Group Launches New Website To Spread Awareness of Dangers of Orphanage Tourism

A group of humanitarians who live and work in Cambodia has banded together to raise awareness about the negative impact of orphanage tourism and launched a new website dedicated to the cause, Orphanages: Not the Solution -

The purpose of the website is to educate people about what orphanage tourism is and the devastating affect is having on the children of Cambodia, many of whom are not even orphans. Most governments and child care professionals regard the institutionalization of children in orphanages as the very last resort. Unfortunately, in Cambodia it is increasingly becoming the first, mainly due to the increased demand from travelers and donors for more and more orphanages. Others are nothing more than money-making scams that are specifically targeting unsuspecting tourists.

"The fact is, most travelers, donors, and volunteers are completely unaware that they are fueling this problem or that they may be doing more harm than good," comments the group spokesperson. Media Note: Because many of the most profiteering Cambodian orphanages have close ties with the government (some of those who have spoken out about this in the past have been threatened) the group prefers to remain anonymous for now.

The group's spokesperson goes on to say, "Few of these people that are trying to help are actually qualified to work with traumatized or vulnerable children, so what we end up with is an even more dire situation than we started with. What we want to do through is to help channel the good intentions of travelers and donors towards initiatives that provide more positive support for children, and support family based care, reducing the separation of children and their communities."

In addition to educational materials, the website also contains a number of helpful resources for tourists, visitors and those interested in participating in volunteer work in Cambodia. The goal is to provide enough information that these individuals and groups are better able to make informed and responsible decisions about whether to support orphanages, and to understand the consequences of their decisions.

"We really want to get the word out about this important cause, and let well-intentioned people know that there are better alternatives and avenues through which they can help," the group explains. "We encourage visitors to become educated about orphanage tourism, and to help us continue to raise awareness by sharing the information they learn here with others. The goal is to stop fueling the orphanage industry and find ways to support vulnerable children and their families, not split them up. The children of Cambodia, and around the world, deserve better."

To learn more about this group, the important cause it represents, and how you can contribute please visit or email

The following was sourced by independently from The Telegraph UK


With an estimated one-third of Cambodian children living below the poverty line, there is no doubt that help is needed. Before you visit or volunteer at an orphanage, consider the following:

DO: your research. Ask local educators and NGOS about reputable organisations that are helping orphaned Cambodian children. Look for one that is legally registered and employs an active family reunification programme.

DON’T: go to any orphanage that actively solicits tourists.

DON’T: work with the children directly. Instead, assist the permanent staff; this keeps the locals in charge and minimises attachment issues.

DO: sign on for a long-term project. Choose a placement where you aresupervised and working within a long-term curriculum.

DO: bring special skills. Medical specialists, teachers and human rights educators are often needed.

DON’T: volunteer at any organisation that doesn’t ask for a CV, references and police reports in advance. The more that is demanded, the greater chance that the children are being protected.

DO: ask to speak to a volunteer who came before you.

DON’T: post photos of children online. The orphanage is the children’s home, and their privacy should be respected.

DON’T: hand over large volunteer placement fees (which can top US$1,000) without ensuring that a portion is passed directly to the organisation.

DO: donate goods in kind. Ask the organisation, rather than a tuk tuk or taxi driver, about their needs. A common scam involves exorbitant charges for rice on the advice of a profiteering driver.

DO: consider helping community-based programmes, which support families and enable the children to live at home.

For more information, visit:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Port Arthur Historic Site celebrating wins at Tasmanian Tourism Awards

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The Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority (PAHSMA) is celebrating major wins at the 2012 Tasmanian Tourism Awards, announced in Hobart on November 9.

The Site, one of Tasmania's most recognisable and visited destinations, was named 2012's best major tourist attraction, as well as Tasmania's best heritage and cultural tourism experience.

The Authority was also recognised for its latest tourism offering, the Port Arthur Paranormal Investigation, which took out the best new tourism development award.

PAHSMA Chairman, Dr Barry Jones, said the awards were recognition of the hard work of the entire PAHSMA team, in what had been a difficult time for the tourism industry as a whole.

"While visitor numbers and revenue have been down, requiring us to do more with less, we have remained focused on delivering a great visitor experience at Port Arthur as well as innovating and introducing exciting new product offerings," said Dr Jones.

"We are particularly delighted that our Port Arthur Paranormal Investigation Experience has been recognised. It has been a notable success since its launch last February. The monthly tours have been running at or near capacity throughout the winter, and we are now at the point of needing to add additional tours to meet demand."

"On behalf of the Board I thank and congratulate all PAHSMA staff on the hard work that has won these awards, and on behalf of everyone at PAHSMA, extend our congratulations to all winners and finalists in what was a very competitive field at the Awards."

The 2012 Tasmanian Tourism Award winners were selected by a panel of 24 judges with experience in the Tasmanian tourism and related industries. An impressive field of 93 finalists across 28 categories made up the competition. Entries for the Tasmanian Tourism Awards were open to all tourism businesses and individuals operating in Tasmania.

Tasmanian winners go on to represent the State at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards, to be held in February at the Princes Wharf Shed No 1 in Hobart. This process allows star Tasmanian tourism products to gain National recognition.

'The Port Arthur Historic Sites include three of the eleven historic sites that together form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property'


Scoot is the first airline in the world to offer Changi Connects, a new facilitated transfer service provided by Changi Airport Group

Scoot, Singapore's newest low cost carrier, today launched its latest product, Scoot-Thru with Changi Connects, a facilitated transfer service provided in collaboration with Changi Airport Group.

Scoot-Thru enables passengers making connecting flights at Singapore Changi Airport to continue their journey without having to pass through immigration, nor collect their checked baggage during transit. The new service is available across Scoot's 25 destinations, including joint itineraries offered in conjunction with partner airline Tiger Airways, on for travel on or after 27 November 2012.

Said Campbell Wilson, Scoot's CEO, "With the range of destinations offered at expanding rapidly, Scoot-Thru with Changi Connects is a timely addition to the great value frills our guests can select. We're pleased to be working together with Changi Airport Group to provide this service so guests may Scoot across all our destinations with even greater convenience and peace of mind."

Scoot is the first airline to build upon Changi Connects, a new service provided by Changi Airport Group.

Mr Lim Ching Kiat, Senior Vice President for Market Development, CAG said, "Changi Airport is pleased to launch Changi Connects in partnership with Scoot. This new service provides transferring passengers with a hassle-free experience, allowing them more time to enjoy what Changi has to offer in terms of shopping, dining and entertainment. We welcome other low-cost carriers to leverage this service to provide an enhanced transfer experience for their connecting passengers."

For just SGD16 per person per flight connection[1] in Singapore, guests will enjoy great perks including:

·        No rush: Remain in the transit area of Singapore Changi Airport – simply proceed to the transfer desk to collect your boarding pass for the connecting flight;

·        No hassle: No need to go through Singapore immigration & customs, nor retrieve baggage and check them in again;

·        No worries: You'll be put on the next Scoot or Tiger flight, without extra charge, should the connecting flight be delayed.

For more details on Scoot-Thru with Changi Connects, please visit

[1] Applies for pre-bookings only. For walk-in guests at Transfer Counter E, Scoot-Thru with Changi Connects is priced at SGD20 per person per flight connection.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alain Ducasse – A celebration of 25 years of excellent cuisine continues in Monaco and around the globe

This year the acclaimed 3 Star Michelin Restaurant Louis XV – Alain Ducasse celebrates its 25th anniversary with a very exceptional birthday menu illustrating the essence of Ducasse’s cuisine: sincerity, respect, refined delicacy and sophistication.
Alain Ducasse at Le Parc in 1996. Credit: Pierre Boussel / Agence France-Presse
Mr Ducasse, now a citizen of Monaco said: “My encounter with Monaco was a magical and important moment in my life. It is here between France and Italy that I have concentrated my Rivieras. Today, I know that this region that serenades the sun has inspired all my cooking. Its strength and honesty are drawn from the earth.”

Even though Alain Ducasse and his Haute cuisine have conquered the whole world with restaurants in New York, St Petersburg, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Paris and London, Monaco’s Louis XV located in the stunning Hôtel de Paris will always be the original where Alain Ducasse’s success and fame began with the opening of the Louis XV in May 1987. Success, however, does not come easily. When Louis XV opened its doors Ducasse had to face big challenges from Prince Rainer II and Monte – Carlo SBM (Société des Bains de Mer) who entrusted him to turn the Louis XV into the first hotel restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars within a maximum of four years. Alain Ducasse, 33 years of age at that time, mastered this challenge better than anyone could have expected. Within 33 months of opening the restaurant it was awarded with three stars and became a legend in its own right.

Nowadays, it is one of the most renowned restaurants in the world. Beautifully situated on the Casino Square of Monte Carlo the restaurant benefits from a stunning setting and one of the most splendid venues the world has ever seen. Inspired by the Belle Époque, the sumptuous Versailles inspired dining room, frescoes rich in history and large mirrors as well as excellent service attract clients from all over the world every year to have an unforgettable dining experience. Another asset of the Louis XV is its manageability. The restaurant’s capacity of 50 guests allows the staff to dedicate their full attention to each client individually and offer first-class service.

With its perfect location on the French Riviera, nestled between land and sea, amongst the hills of Nice and Liguria, the abundant and generous nature of the area served as a source to Alain Ducasse’s infinite inspiration. His menus vary depending on the seasons and are always full of flavour, colour and aroma.
The anniversary pays tribute to an incredible chef symbol of Haute cuisine and sophistication. It enjoys worldwide celebration from Alain Ducasse’s chefs who, on this occasion, add an especially created Mediterranean inspired dish to their menu while others chose the Louis XV signature dessert: le Baba au rhum comme à Monte-Carlo. ||

Grace Kelly - A Symbol Of Change

An exceptional three-day event in Monaco will pay tribute to an extraordinary woman: Grace Kelly

Thirty years ago, Princess Grace left us – Synonymous with cool elegance and impeccable good taste, Grace Kelly remains a style icon to this day. In her classic films of the 1950’s, she was portrayed as the embodiment of female perfection and millions of women all around the world admired her classic, yet accessible, style. For three days, from 14 to 16 September, the event "Grace, a Symbol of Change" will pay homage to Grace Kelly as Princess, actress and symbol of feminine elegance.

The programme will start on Friday evening with a tribute to the princess over a sophisticated gala dinner in the Salle Empire of the Hotel de Paris. After the dinner, the audience is encouraged to participate at live and silent auctions featuring outstanding items. As another highlight of the evening, the American designer Jeff Garner will present his unforgettable fashion show “Dress to Change the World”. Live music for the show was composed and will be performed by Robin Le Mesurier who will accompany the Princess Grace Tribute Collection show which takes Grace Kelly’s original, genuine style and adds modern day fabrics and dyes most of which are plant and earth based to honour the love and respect Princess Grace had for nature. The presenter of the show will be Suzy Amis Cameron and guitarist Robin Le Mesurier from the Rod Stewart group and Alain Lanty as well as pianist Julien Clerc will accompany the evening with live orchestra music and DJ Coco from London will guarantee a bubbly and pleasant atmosphere.

Saturday will be all about Grace Kelly as an actress and the venue for the whole day will be the Princess Grace Theatre built in 1930 and brought to life again by the Princess in 1981. It is a stunning venue located on the Monte Carlo cliff overlooking the sea. The first point on the agenda for Saturday will be a Mini Film Festival open to the public and hosted by Women Make Movies. After the festival the audience is invited to enjoy the screening of THE Grace Kelly classic per se “To catch a Thief”. Dennis Maguire, President of Paramount Home Media Distribution as well as major actors of Paramount Studios will be attending.

Sunday’s program will excite all Grace Kelly fashion lovers. The Ladies & the City Hat Contest will kick off the last day of the big Grace Kelly weekend and will be held at the Deck, at the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel, an incredible art deco designer hotel part of the SBM (Société des Bains de Mer) group. This day will be completely devoted to Grace’s personal style the influence of which can still be felt today. Among the jury members will be Jimmy Choo, Suzy Amis Cameron and Dede Valentine. Hats were a major element of Grace’s timeless elegance and glamour and this year’s contest – themed “Back to the fifties” – will bring back into present the happy post- war years symbolized by major changes and developments in fashion and lifestyle.

A classic car show will also be part of the Sunday program and the event will be filmed in 3D by EDLized Production Studio.

This three day event is a celebration to recognize the legacy of Grace, a unique woman who inspired a whole world and is still admired and honoured to date. Not only has she served as a style icon and role-model for women to pursue their dreams but Grace Kelly still continues to be celebrated for her personal qualities and charitable work, as well as for her film career and her achievements in reviving the social and cultural life in Monaco. As an actress, she created a unique style and was portrayed as the embodiment of female perfection. As a princess and wife of Prince Rainer III she made Monaco the centre for international high society and initiated a social and cultural boom in Monaco. As a woman, her personality and kind-heartedness, her respect for everyone around her, her ambition and her goodness made her a source of inspiration for all generations.

More info:

Event dedicated website:

Official Monaco Government Tourist Office:
This site provides news and information on the Principality of Monaco and Monte-Carlo to visitors and travel agents

Shark Bay celebrates 21st anniversary of World Heritage status

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2012 marks the 21st anniversary of Shark Bay's World Heritage status

Shark Bay was the first area in Australia to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is located adjacent to Australia's newest World Heritage Area, Ningaloo Coast, which was inscribed last year.

Tourism Australia recently recognised the international appeal of the area from Shark Bay to Ningaloo by naming it as one of the nation's 15 National Landscapes. Australia's National Landscapes are promoted heavily to international markets by Tourism Australia.

Shark Bay satisfies all of the four natural criteria to be World Heritage listed. These criteria include: natural beauty, biological diversity, ecological processes and earth's history.

Australia's Coral Coast Chief Executive Officer, David O'Malley said despite global awareness of Shark Bay and its thriving tourism industry, it remains an unspoilt region of natural beauty with untouched rust red sand contrasting with clear turquoise water.

"People visit from all over the world to immerse themselves in Shark Bay's colourful and diverse landscapes and to get up close to the area's wealth of wildlife," Mr O'Malley said.

"Monkey Mia's famous friendly dolphins have been attracting families for many years and there are so many other activities and attractions to enjoy in the area."

Covering 2.2 million hectares of land and sea, the Shark Bay World Heritage Area includes the stromatolites (original producers of oxygen) of Hamelin Pool, Shell Beach (120 kilometres long and approximately 10 metres deep in cockle shells), the Francois Peron National Park and many endemic species of flora and fauna.

The Shark Bay Marine Park covers 1500 kilometres of coastline and is home to more than 320 species of marine life including manta rays, whales and turtles. Shark Bay's vast sea grass meadows support around 10 per cent of the world's dugong population.

"Many people do a wildlife cruise to get up close to Shark Bay's marine life and there's also a great aquarium in the area," Mr O'Malley said.

"The area's rich Indigenous history can be explored on an Aboriginal walking, kayaking or four wheel driving tour."

Learn more about the Shark Bay World Heritage Area – / 



The days when being eco-friendly meant little more than a token nod to hybrid cars or occasionally buying organic groceries are long gone. With consumers becoming more and more aware of their ecological impact, they are beginning to seek sustainable alternatives. Without sacrificing any of the classic creature comforts, these three Design Hotels™ members provide guests with a truly remarkable experience, while still going above and beyond basic sustainable intitiatives.

The design teams of each of these hotels developed a holistic approach that has targeted all aspects, from reducing the environmental impact of construction to green housekeeping and hotel operations. In the heart of New York's vibrant Soho, Crosby Street Hotel stands out as one of the most environmentally responsible hotels in the United States. In Cornwall, The Scarlet is a prime model for environmental initiatives, with the goal to work with, rather than against, the natural beauty of the Cornish coast. Hotel Topazz is the first green upscale hotel in Vienna, combining iconic architecture with a resource-saving philosophy that starts with low-energy usage and carries through to locally sourced food.

Sustainable in Soho

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As part of the London-based Firmdale Hotels group, Crosby Street Hotel is husband and wife team Tim and Kit Kemp's first endeavor across the Atlantic. Kit Kemp's signature style is reflected throughout the 86 bedrooms and suites over 11 floors, with a great emphasis on color and texture. The hotel was awarded Gold Certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the first hotel in New York to do so. During construction, hazardous site material was disposed of and all demolished material was recycled. In addition to energy efficient lighting, green power and water use reduction, the hotel has an array of integrated green features, from an urban vegetable patch on the rooftop supplying the hotel with seasonal produce, to a woodland meadow with 50 varieties of native plants. Inside, the furniture, fabrics and finishes are largely American-made, sourced regionally from homebred designers like Philadelphian artisans Galbraith & Paul.

Eco-Conscious Cornwall

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The Scarlet was built with a vision to create a unique and sustainable building that merges with and enhances the local environment. The result is a stunning, cliff-top hotel, whose spaces, lines and spectacular views have the power to both impress and soothe. The hotel is a role-model for environmental responsibility, from recyclable packaging, waste management in the kitchen and even onsite water treatment facilities to reduce waste. Two outdoor log-fired hot tubs and a natural, reed-filtered swimming pool offer guests relaxing bathing experiences. Even the water is heated by solar-power, and nearly the entire structure is made of recycled and eco-friendly materials. The interiors have been outfitted with sustainably attained woods, British wool and recyclable carpets and UK-made furniture. The Building CO2 Emission Rate is currently calculated at 73% less than a building of the same size and design. Guests can also enjoy spa treatments without concern for their carbon footprint, with a custom-made range of natural products, organic textiles and flip flops made from recycled vehicle tires.

Green-Glam in Vienna

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In Vienna's historic 1st district, Hotel Topazz is a prime example of eco-friendly hospitality. Surrounded by the city's most acclaimed attractions, the hotel pays tribute to Vienna's artistic heritage. The remarkable façade is inspired by a cylindrical silver vase embellished with oval amber stones by artist Koloman Moser. The interiors also pay homage to iconic Austrian artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The combination of design and low-energy initiatives is unique for a hotel in the center of the Imperial City, yet the hotel makes no compromises. Heating and cooling is secured by a groundwater well and a mechanical ventilation system with heat recovery, and LED technology provides a near-natural light spectrum throughout the hotel. The green approach is manifested in daily hotel operations: the Topazz Salon serves organic products from Austrian producers, including their own range of eco-friendly award-winning wine.

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Hotel Lindrum unveils one-of-a-kind Memorable Moment package and rebrands to MGallery

MGallery, Accor's Collection of distinctive boutique hotels has added one of Melbourne's most treasured hotels, Hotel Lindrum to its bourgeoning collection, heralding an exciting time for the brand in Australia. Named after Walter A. Lindrum, an acclaimed billiard player who used to play on the premises, the hotel is set to lure guests with a specially crafted Memorable Moment package as it joins the MGallery Collection.

Hotel Lindrum, a boutique haven with Australia's richest billiard legacy has today (14 November 2012) joined Accor's exclusive MGallery Collection of hotels and becomes the fifth Australian hotel to join the portfolio.

In becoming part of the Collection, the hotel joins a number of nationally and internationally revered hotels, including the recently rebranded Como Melbourne and Harbour Rocks Hotel in Sydney, as well as the Baltimore in Paris, Vie Hotel Bangkok and St-Ermin's in London.

With chic sophistication and a unique charm, Hotel Lindrum epitomizes Melbourne unlike any other hotel. When it opened its doors in 1999 after long being home to the famed Lindrum Billiard Centre, Hotel Lindrum introduced a new concept to Melbourne's hotel scene and was one of the first boutique hotels to open in the city.

Now, as it joins the MGallery Collection while bearing a legacy of immaculate service, the 4.5-star hotel is set to garner an even stronger following amongst national and international guests while offering a one-of-a-kind package, a hallmark of MGallery hotels.

Hotel Lindrum's General Manger, Anne Marie Lennon, said the rebrand presented an exciting time for the hotel and that the special Memorable Moment package which has been designed as part of the rebrand, pays tribute to the history of the hotel.

"The values the MGallery Collection embodies of elegance and discreetness underpin exactly what Hotel Lindrum is, discreet style and sophistication delivered with warmth and genuine hospitality. Hotel Lindrum has always been known for its boutique charm and personalised service, and I'm thrilled to see the hotel transition to become part of the MGallery Collection, which is all about authentic hotel experiences.
"In other exciting developments, the specially designed Memorable Moment package we have come up with really showcases the hotel and pays homage to our namesake and the wonderful achievements of Walter Lindrum and I'm pleased to be able to offer our guests this unique opportunity".

The Memorable Moment, a defining link in any MGallery story, is not accessible to the general public and only available to guests of the hotel. Hotel Lindrum's Memorable Moment package includes a private billiard lesson with Robby Foldvari, a Triple World Champion billiard player, on the hotel's original billiard table from the Lindrum Billiard Centre. A 5-course degustation dinner for two in felt restaurant then follows, while overnight accommodation in a Junior suite is included in the package.

The price of the Memorable Moment package is $1570.

In becoming part of the MGallery Collection, other added features include the antipasto Lindrum Grazing Plate on the menu at felt restaurant, as well as a complimentary welcome tea of Turkish Apple and Cinnamon Tisane upon arrival.

All of Hotel Lindrum's 59 beautifully appointed guestrooms are generous in size and have Molton Brown amenities, a pillow menu, complimentary high-speed broadband internet and some have picturesque views overlooking Melbourne Park and the Botanical Gardens.

Junior suites are ideal for the traveller who wants a little added space and luxury with its solid wooden divider inset and television separating the bedroom from an intimate sitting area, which features a second television and chaise sofa.

Guests can enjoy a game of snooker in the Billiard Room at any time of day and soak in the legacy of what once was. Surrounded with memorabilia of the world renowned Walter Lindrum in his championship era, the Billiard Room offers a glimpse into the fascinating history of Hotel Lindrum and offers a relaxing place to unwind.

For guests not wanting to venture far for fine dining, felt restaurant boasts an impressive seasonal menu and contemporary furnishings. felt is stylish and intimate, and has gained a reputation as one of Melbourne's fine dining establishments.

Only steps away, Back Bar is the perfect place to enjoy a coffee or night cap and features luxurious leather sofas, an open fireplace and extensive selection of premium wines, beers, spirits and cocktails.

Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the hotel and in-room facials, massages and same day laundry valet service can all be arranged on request.

With its prime location on Flinders Street, Hotel Lindrum is in the heart of Australia's fashion and dining capital, with easy access to all this world famous city has to offer including the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Tennis Centre, Melbourne's Casino, Convention & Exhibition Centre, boutique shopping, restaurants and cafés, Victorian Arts Centre, Federation Square, Southbank Precinct and Hamer Hall.

Now, as the hotel becomes part of the highly respected MGallery Collection, Hotel Lindrum is set to further cement its status as a leading boutique hotel, while bringing the treasured history of one of Melbourne's landmark buildings to life.

Room rates at Hotel Lindrum start from $215

Hotel Lindrum MGallery "Memorable Moment" package, $1570

For further information on Hotel Lindrum, a Hotel of the MGallery Collection, head to

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