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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Banyan Tree Hangzhou outdoor wetland event space

Enveloped by the lush greenery and calm waters of Hangzhou’s Xixi National Wetland Park, Banyan Tree Hangzhou is not only appealing to leisure travellers, but also an idyllic retreat for corporate meetings and groups. The resort has recently launched the one and the only outdoor event space in Hangzhou Xixi - the Wetland Garden, providing the perfect venue for cocktail parties, weddings, team building and other outdoor activities.

Extraordinary Meetings by the Wetland

Hangzhou’s Xixi National Wetland Park
The Wetland Garden, situated on the west side of the resort, offers an intimate setting surrounded by unique gardens and a nature reserve. The new event space can accommodate up to 150 people and can be used all year round. As the weather warms, it will be the ideal open-air backdrop for all types of company events and team building activities. Complemented by the resort’s superior indoor meeting facilities ranging from a ballroom; board rooms to a library, Banyan Tree Hangzhou provides guests with best-in-class MICE offerings.

Dedicated and experienced event service specialists at the resort will always be accessible and stand ready to accommodate the different needs of every event.

Unforgettable Romance

Capturing the ambiance of the Xixi Wetland Park, the Wetland Garden creates a refined atmosphere of harmony and elegance. With the view of the lush greenery and clear waters from the stream, the outdoor garden at Banyan Tree Hangzhou is a gorgeous setting for an intimate wedding celebration, surrounded by nature. The bride walks down the aisle surrounded by her most beloved ones with the tender breeze catching the tendrils in her hair.

A Tranquil and Priceless Retreat

Banyan Tree Hangzhou
Banyan Tree Hangzhou is located in the historic Xixi region, which is renowned for its natural beauty. This Jiangnan style resort exudes an authentic sense of place and is just a 15 minute drive from West Lake and downtown Hangzhou. The resort comprises 72 suites and villas featuring graceful notes of Chinese art and design. The three foods and beverage outlets in the hotel offer a wide range of delightful dining experiences. The renowned Banyan Tree Spa also gives guests the opportunity to reawaken their senses with the intuitive touch of our professionally trained therapists. In addition to Spa, yoga and Taiji trainings are also available to enhance guests’ wellness experiences.

 To find out more about Banyan Tree Hangzhou and the newly launched Wetland Garden, please contact the resort at Tel: +86 571 85860000 or Email:

Air India confirms Australian flights

source: Travel Daily

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Direct Air India flights from New Delhi effective 29 August

Air India has just confirmed the long-awaited and often-announced debut of its flights to Australia, with a planned 29 Aug launch of triangular services from New Delhi to Sydney and Melbourne.

Using the airline's new Boeing 787 aircraft, the service will operate Delhi-Sydney-Melbourne four days per week, and Delhi-Melbourne-Sydney on the other three days.

AI spokesperson Deepak Brara said the triangular arrangement would "give both cities the benefits of non-stop services".

Unlike previous announcements for Air India services to Australia, the carrier has commenced taking bookings for the route, giving a higher degree of probability that they will actually take off this time. 

Destination NSW said it will work with Air India to develop and deliver new marketing marketing campaigns to support the launch of the new services in Delhi.

More information in tomorrow's TravelDaily.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Swire Hotels announces the opening of EAST Miami

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Swire Hotels announces the opening of EAST, Miami at Brickell CityCentre, Swire Properties Inc.'s US$1 billion mixed use development in Miami's downtown financial district in 2015.  It will be the hotel group's first property in the United States and the third hotel under the EAST brand, after the successful opening of EAST, Hong Kong in Island East in 2010 and EAST, Beijing last year at INDIGO, Beijing.

Designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica and New York-based Clodagh Design as the interior designer, EAST, Miami will offer 263 rooms and 89 serviced apartments. Created for travellers looking for a relaxed, convenient and contemporary environment, EAST will feature a paperless check-in and check-out experience and a one-stop front-desk Guest Experience team. The hotel will have two restaurants and a rooftop bar, as well as meeting rooms, a feature pool, a fitness centre and treatment rooms.

"Interest on the part of hospitality companies in flagging the Brickell CityCentre hotel has been keen," said Stephen Owens, President of Swire Properties Inc., "due to their desire to secure a prime location in the hot Brickell market and due to the inclusion of luxury retail in our project. We were ultimately able to select from among ten upscale hotel brands in choosing Swire Hotels' EAST for our flag."

Brian Williams, Managing Director of Swire Hotels said "We are very excited to be expanding our portfolio to the United States with EAST, Miami. Our hotel aims to create different and surprising experiences that complement the lives of our guests and enhance their lifestyle. EAST is designed to meet the needs of travellers in Miami whilst complementing Brickell CityCentre's offerings."

Swire Hotels recently announced the opening of The Temple House in Chengdu, China which will be the group's fifth hotel in Asia, following The Opposite House and EAST in Beijing and The Upper House and EAST in Hong Kong.

About Swire Hotels

Swire Hotels has been created to manage intriguing urban hotels in Hong Kong, Mainland China and the United Kingdom, providing a characterful experience for travellers who seek individuality, style and personalised service.

The Opposite House, Beijing, opened in 2008 and was followed by The Upper House, above Pacific Place, Hong Kong, in October 2009.  The Temple House will open in Q4, 2014 in Chengdu.

Swire Hotels opened a 345-room lifestyle business hotel called EAST, Hong Kong in Hong Kong's Island East on 25 January 2010. The 369-room EAST, Beijing, located within INDIGO in Jiangtai, opened in September 2012. EAST, Miami, offering 263 rooms and 89 serviced apartments, will open in Brickell CityCentre in 2015.

Swire Hotels has launched a new collection of locally inspired and stylish hotels in the heart of great British towns and cities called Chapter Hotels. The first hotel in the collection, The Montpellier Chapter, Cheltenham opened in 2010. The second hotel, The Magdalen Chapter, Exeter opened in June 2012.

About Swire Properties Inc.

Swire Properties Inc., established in Miami since 1979, is one of South Florida's leading international developers of urban office, hotel and condo real estate. Known for its $1 billion master‐planned development of Brickell Key along the Miami River in downtown Miami, Swire continues to shape the Miami skyline with its latest project, Brickell CityCentre, a landmark $1.05 billion mixed‐use development comprising a gross floor area of 5.4 million square feet including office, residential, hotel, retail and entertainment space and underground parking. The Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the publicly-listed Swire Properties Limited based in Hong Kong.




Cathay Pacific Business and Premium Economy review

Business class seating (file image)
Publisher Ian McIntosh recently experienced Cathay Pacific’s award winning business class and premium economy on a trip to Bangkok via Hong Kong. He reports:

While an increasing number of airlines believe big is better, at least one premium carrier is working hard at upgrading standards of comfort and service on its existing fleet, particularly for economy passengers.
Cathay Pacific for instance is progressively overhauling cabins in its fleet of mostly A330 and Boeing 777 aircraft and introduced its award winning new business class plus premium economy to the Australian market as a priority. The Adelaide-Hong Kong leg is operated by a completely refurbished A330 – it felt like I was walking into a brand new plane with its soft blue and green colour schemes.

Premium economy seats (file image)
The first leg of my trip was in premium economy and I would have to say I was quite intrigued by this new class. Firstly, the seats. I had visions that they might have been refurbished business seats – but no, they are a new design. Initially you wonder what all the song and dance is about - it takes a while to realise just how much better this cabin is than economy. However I digress. The first plus of flying aboard an A330 is the configuration. In economy it is 2,4,2 – much preferable for a couple to the 3,4,3 configuration used on say Emirates 777. In premium it is 2,3,2 – lots more space.

Premium economy meal offering (file image)
Premium pax were offered a drink and hot towel before CX105 departed Adelaide on time at 11.30am. The captain’s announcements were loud and clear and the animated safety demo video excellent. The entertainment system offers a reasonable selection of first run movies and is simple enough to use if you are an experienced traveller – but the lady across from me was not. Pity there is not a quick video to point out the basics. There were delicious petits four served on the first leg to Melbourne.

After reboarding (I used the business line) we were offered drinks with champagne in the mix. Great! Newspapers are at the front door – there is no delivery on-board. At 2pm economy style menus were delivered – offering a mains choice of curry prawns or mushroom and ricotta cannelloni. Lunch arrived on an economy tray - I always hold out little hope for airline food – but the prawn dish was visually appealing and delicious - even the rice was still soft and fluffy. Top marks to the Melbourne kitchen. It was about this time that I really began to appreciate the premium experience – not for the food, or the wine which is rather sadly served in plastic cups, -or even the excellent service - but the cabin itself. Closed off from economy and business, you are in a quiet, relaxing little section that only accommodates 28 people. Considering it only costs about 50 per cent more than a regulation economy fare I think it is value for that reason alone.

Refreshments before landing included a Panini which arrived in a foil pack you needed the jaws of death to open. Mostly thick bread with a smear of sauce it proved the only dining disappointment.
The only other slight hitch was the lack of immigration cards on board.
We arrived in Hong Kong 10 minutes early refreshed and ready to go.

Veteran travel and business reporter, Ian McIntosh, publishes Travel Agent Update

Oman Awards Construction of Package 2 for Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre to Carillion Alawi

The tender for the Construction of Package 2 at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre Precinct developed by Omran in Al Irfan area has been awarded to Carillion Alawi LLC, as approved by the Government Tender Board with a total value of 78 Million Omani Riyals (AUD$2.2 million).

The Package includes the construction of exhibition halls, car park facilities and the district cooling plant.

The scope of Package 2 for the construction of one of Oman’s most highly anticipated developments includes a structured car park facility for 4,200 vehicles on 3 parking levels totaling an area of 143,000 sqm, Exhibition Halls of approximately 45,000 sqm gross area which will provide five divisible state of the art halls with service trenches, plant rooms, and Omran - Oman Convention and Exhibition Centreacoustically treated vertically movable partitions to enable separation and sound isolation of each hall. This package also comprises a concourse with a glazed curtain wall system, fully equipped with main production kitchen and three cafes, hospitality suites, administration/office areas, a central landscaped courtyard and two circulation nodes connecting the concourse to the car park.

Additionally, the scope will also cover the ancillary buildings, namely the Energy Center which serves as the District Cooling Plant for the entire precinct, security screening facility, taxi amenity building, waste management building, a landscape maintenance building and electrical substation facility. The project also features a number of sustainable initiatives in conservation of energy, potable water and use of treated sewage effluent for cooling and irrigation and thus targeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the United States Green Building Council.

Eng. Wael Al Lawati, CEO of Omran stated that the award of this package represents a major milestone for the company as this is the second major construction package to be awarded by Omran after the award of the development of the Site Infrastructure and Utilities Package late last year. He also expressed that this award certainly makes everyone anxious to see the first part of the iconic OCEC landmark Project materialize within 20 months from today and Omran is in the process, as part of the Project Execution Plan, to release a series of other construction packages by the end of the year that include the Convention Centre building with a capacity of a 3200-seat auditorium and banquet halls, a 5-star hotel, a 4-star hotel, and a number of class-A office buildings.

Eng. Said Al Qasmi, OCEC Chief Project Officer at Omran said, “Omran as a prudent developer, has invested a lot of efforts during the various design stages of the project to scrutinize all the design options presented to ensure maximum use of local materials utilizing the local supply chain and also allocated marks during the evaluation process of the submitted tenders to the ‘Local Content’ criteria.”

“We do not select Contractors only because of their proven track record and technical capabilities in the field of construction but most importantly, for their relevant and specific proposals to use an extensive list of qualified local subcontractors and suppliers as well as for offering formal recruitment and training programs to their Omani staff therefore providing valuable addition to Omran’s local capacity building strategy,” added Eng. Al Qasmi.

With anticipated opening in 2016, the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre operated by AEG Ogden, represents a key cornerstone of the ongoing efforts to position the Sultanate as part of the vast growing Events Industry which will greatly contribute toward the diversification of the national economy and the employment of Omani nationals during construction and the operation phases of the Project.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Spain Tourism Minister José Manuel Soria Unveils New Version of Official Website

Energy and Tourism Jose Manuel Soria yesterday presented to the tourism sector the new version of the official tourism site of Spain, , with which it responds to the needs of the digital tourist and introduces, for the first time, full-range marketing of the Spanish tourism product.

Tourists have changed the way they proceed when planning their trips; today, they first draw on the experiences of other travelers by seeking information, checking other travelers’ reviews and then booking the trip, during which he shares his expertise with others through social networking.

According to EGATUR, of the total number of international tourists who visited Spain in 2012, six out of ten looked online for information before their trip; 59% booked a service, and 56% paid through Internet.

These data show how the digital tourist behaves, which has led to the need for a new version of the official tourism site of Spain, , whose goal is to answer all these needs, becoming an indispensable tool in the entire life cycle of the travel arrangements.

The new version of aligns with the objectives set in the Strategic Marketing Turespaña: to enhance the promotion of tourism “products” with the goal of diversifying tourism in Spain, ranging from the traditional sun and beach, culture, nature, gastronomy, nature, business and so on, thereby making it less seasonally oriented and creating more year-‘round demand.

The aim of the new portal is twofold: on one hand, the desire to improve the tourist experience by being more inspirational, social, and interactive, with a much easier and intuitive navigation and a design which features visual content, encouraging visitors to get to know more attractions in our country.

Moreover, for the first time, visitors can access reservation tools for everything you need for your trip to Spain, from transportation to accommodations, to enjoy services at the destination, such as tickets to a show or museum. In this way, tourists can complete the life cycle of the trip-planning process without leaving

The private sector is provided with a new sales channel with this new version of the portal, as the final purchase always takes place on the website of the service provider.

The tourist can book airline, train and hotel reservations through, with a comparison tool for each product option, selected on the grounds that it is the most transparent and which also provides the greatest number of tourist accommodations (some 20,000).

The user, after entering the search criteria, yields a result, which have capacities from online travel agencies, hotel chains, websites and hotel websites through their booking engines. In this manner, accommodates all those establishments which market their property online.

Regarding the flight comparison tool, note that results are displayed from more than 800 airlines offering a combination of flights to Spain and availability online, through over 400 channels comprising travel agents, airlines and low-cost airlines..

In the coming months, plans to incorporate complementary products (ticket-booking for museums and shows, tourist cards, tourist buses and restaurant reservations).

It is also expected that by the end of the year, tourist experiences which have the cooperation of agencies  offering trips taken with online availability will also be marketed on the site. is available in eighteen languages ​​and has 25 local versions customized for both traditional source markets as well as for emerging markets (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

New Features
The tourist is the true star of the portal, which has created a section based on segmentation and where the user selects their profile (young, family, senior, LGBT) and reasons for his or her trip to Spain (nature, sports, beach, business...); the site then offers recommendations for travel based on these preferences.
Another novelty of the portal is the navigation by geography axis.

From the "Where To?" Provides the tourist the possibility to locate information or tourist resort destination with maps.

Sharing Experiences
Social networks are present throughout the site, allowing users to share the experience of their trip to Spain, post comments, photos and videos of their stay in our country which serve as inspiration for other travelers. This is possible through the "Sharing Experiences" feature.

Finally, it bears emphasizing that is a dynamic site which will constantly evolve,  in step with the changing needs of the tourist and with the tourism industry’s innovations and newest proposals.

QT Hotels & Resorts Injects Much Needed Quirk to Australian Tourism Sector

QT Hotels & Resorts first put its stamp on the Australian tourism sector with the launch of QT Gold Coast in 2011. The unique and exciting property delivered the first injection of QT's signature designer spaces with bold entertainment and intriguing yet relaxing guest experience.

Now one of Australia's most loved and dynamic hotel brands, the family of properties include QT Gold Coast, QT Port Douglas, the flagship QT Sydney, and the recently launched QT Falls Creek.

QT Gold Coast opened at the end of 2011, offering guest's contemporary living spaces that are a mixture of nostalgic surfer chic meets Miami swim catwalk. Custom furniture, graphica and bold colour are some of the distinguishing highlights of the design inspired by the surf nostalgia of the 1950's and 60's. Stand out features also include Eames-era chairs, artist crafted feature walls and photographic ceiling mosaics of the Gold Coast through the ages.

QT Port Douglas, the second resort to join the family features a Mad Men-meets-the-Hamptons aesthetic with a sophisticated, upmarket vibe boasting light timber floor coverings and a restrained colour palate of muted pastels. The resort is an oasis of relaxation for guests and locals, with a large lagoon-style pool and chic lawn party atmosphere, featuring sun loungers and a swim up bar.

Launched in 2012, QT Sydney is set above the State Theatre and Gowings on Market and George Streets in Sydney. Featuring a thoroughly restored exterior celebrating the old world appeal, the historic facade is contrasted against the interior which embraces new technology, distinctive art mediums and cutting edge design. The hotel has become part of Sydney's dynamic blueprint, as a one-stop entertainment destination, with the hotel boasting a unique café - Parlour Lane, a late night drinking destination - Gilt Lounge, a bold European style brasserie restaurant - Gowings Bar and Grill, and the ultimate pamper destination - spaQ.

Most recently, QT Falls Creek joined the stable of properties, delivering the bespoke QT treatment to the Victorian ski fields. The property features vintage pieces mixed with modern furniture, and a slick design philosophy contrasted with rustic and cool accents.
QT Hotels and Resorts is the brainchild of hospitality stalwart David Seargeant, Managing Director of AHL (owner of QT Hotels & Resorts). Seargeant has been inspired by innovation and creative design found globally in architecture, emerging art, fashion and industrial design.

The hotels and resorts have also become the ultimate culinary destinations with QT Gold Coast, QT Port Douglas and QT Falls Creek featuring the unique designer dining concept - Bazaar Marketplace. The signature
restaurant and heart of the properties showcases an international mosaic of foods, with diners spoilt for choice with seafood, crustacean and charcuterie bars, Asian and grill stations, a wood fired pizza oven and rotisserie.

QT Sydney also takes city-goers on a culinary journey with Gowings Bar and Grill and Parlour Lane. 

Gowings Bar and Grill redefines modern day dining, with stunning design and a European-style brasserie menu, with a strong seafood focus. Parlour Lane Roasters on the ground floor is a European-style cafe for breakfasts and lunches, and the area's bustling wine bar from the afternoon and into the evening.

The properties also include a new designer spa concept, offering a fresh modern twist for spa-goers looking for something contemporary, bespoke and refreshing. The family of spas deliver custom spa treatments for guests while QTique, a signature hotel boutique, offers guests an eclectic mix of luxuries and necessities.

QT Hotels & Resorts is the concept of AHL, one of Australia's premier entertainment, hospitality, tourism and leisure companies owning and operating a number of hotel and lifestyle businesses throughout Australia and New Zealand. Other properties currently in planning for QT Hotels & Resorts include QT Canberra, QT Adelaide and QT Melbourne.

Australia convention or conference arrivals

There were 184,100 convention or conference arrivals to Australia during the year end 30 April 2013 - an increase of two per cent year-on-year.

Markets showing continued growth included: India (up 28 per cent), the United States of America (up 21 per cent), China (up 17 per cent), Japan (up 12.1 per cent) and the United Kingdom (up 10 per cent).

Read more about the conference and convention visitors to Australia with Tourism Australia’s monthly business events arrivals report.

Cathay Pacific First Class set for fresh new look

The First Class cabin on Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300 fleet is about to get a new look and feel, with the first of the refurbished aircraft to enter service on the 27 July.

Listening to feedback from their Marco Polo Club members, Cathay Pacific brought in renowned architectural firm Foster + Partners to help incorporate elements of the newly refurbished First Class Lounge at The Wing. The new look seats will feature a glossy dark grey textured material on the outer surface of the suite, warm-toned natural leather for most of the interior surfaces and a plush burgundy carpet in the aisle. The seats will also be refitted with a custom-made fabric that is soft and smooth to touch.

Guests will also notice new features for comfort such as more room inside the personal closet, a new basin and counter top in the lavatory, a new touch-screen controller for adjusting the seat, bespoke reading lights, high-quality Bose Quiet Comfort headphones, completely redesigned bedding and a new sleep suit from Hong Kong company Pye.

To find out more about Cathay Pacific’s first class visit:

Hertz reinvents the car rental experience

Hertz 24/7 brings together car sharing technology and global car rental capabilities to create "anytime, anywhere, any car" rental service


The Hertz Corporation (NYSE:HTZ) is announcing the global launch of Hertz 24/7, ( or a revolutionary new rental service available any time, day or night. The expansion is a game changer for the industry because for the first time customers will be able to rent a wide variety of vehicles near their home or work when needed and for any length of time -- hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. The company estimates that by 2016, it will have "self-serve" vehicles within minutes of the majority of the United States population.


"Driven by the company's award-winning technology, Hertz is reinventing the car rental industry by putting the rental process in the hands of consumers. Technology-enhanced vehicles will be available close to where customers live or work, making it easier than ever to reserve and quickly pick-up a rental vehicle at the customer's convenience. Urban and suburban customers will be able to rent a much wider variety of vehicles at any hour – not just weekdays 9 to 5 when a neighbourhood rental location is open. 24/7 service is a key part of our commitment to create the fastest, easiest and most valued rental experiences in the business," commented Hertz Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mark P. Frissora.


Once a member, the Hertz 24/7 customer experience is powered by the fast and easy "Click. Swipe. Go!" process.  Click on or from your mobile device or laptop and complete the simple 24/7 reservation process in a few minutes. The car will only be minutes away and Swipe the 24/7 key fob against the reader on the windshield to unlock the doors. Then Go!, after retrieving the keys tethered to the dashboard.


Hertz 24/7 service is available today at 1,800 neighbourhood and airport locations in the U.S., France, Germany, U.K., Spain and Australia with plans to be in more than 2,000 locations by year end. The company now has 35,000 vehicles (cars, mini-vans, vans and SUVs) equipped for 24/7 rentals. The company will be prepared to have approximately 500,000 Hertz 24/7-enabled vehicles in service globally by 2016.  At that point, Hertz 24/7's fleet would be more than ten times the size of the current car sharing industry combined. 


"Hertz 24/7 is revolutionary because it combines the technology and on-demand service associated with car sharing with the operational and logistical capabilities of a global car rental company to create a new universal car rental service. In fact, the goal is to bring this user-friendly, round-the-clock service to all consumers. Additionally, Hertz 24/7 demonstrates our commitment to sustainable mobility solutions by making situational vehicle rental a viable option for all consumers," Frissora concluded.


With Hertz 24/7, the company is creating a new "self-serve" mobility solution with no membership fees which also allows customers to talk directly to and get help from a Hertz service representative from the car, as needed.  Additionally, customers can pick up a vehicle at one location and drop-off at another; Hertz was the first company to introduce the "one-way rental" concept in car sharing in 2009.


Hertz 24/7 allows customers to reserve vehicles for immediate rental through a variety of convenient touch points including and, interactive kiosks, or mobile devices, for pick up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.*


For more information, visit or


* Customers are able to provide personal information, reserve a 24/7 vehicle, and be on their way the same day, provided that they first stop into a Hertz location for Driver's license validation.


About Hertz Technology

Hertz is committed to providing its customers speed, ease and value with technological innovations and personalised service. "Travelling at the Speed of Hertz" offers a variety of unique customer enhancements, which include:


Mobile Apps: As consumers are looking to mobile technologies as a way to take back control of their travel experience, from on-the-go bookings to instant upgrades.

·         Hertz Mobile App: Book, modify and search car rental reservations, find locations, and browse special deals and offers all from the palm of your hand.

·         Hertz NeverLost My Explore App: Users can plan their itinerary and navigate popular cities in the US and Canada all on their smart phone and import it into a calendar or to the award-winning Hertz NeverLost® GPS.

·         Hertz 24/7 Mobile App: Customers have 24/7 access to a variety of vehicles when and where they need them with the ability to reserve a car or modify an existing reservation and view upcoming and previous reservations.

·         Carfirmation: Hertz's mobile email/SMS text service – Mobile Gold Alerts -- that confirm a Gold customer's reservation and advises them of their car location.

·         Carfirmation Upgrade: Hertz Carfirmations also show other available cars and upgrades and lets members select the one they want – all on their mobile device in three simple steps.

·         Choose Control: Hertz Gold Choice gives the customer the power to keep the car they reserved or simply choose another, something no other car rental brand offers.

·         Zap Technology: Hertz's Gold enrolment and e-Return in the US is the fastest way to get customers in their cars and when they return, back on their way home.  Hertz will email the customer's receipt in a flash.

·         Acceler-Rental: Hertz is the first car rental company to now offer both airport and neighbourhood location customers the ability to rent cars through a live face-to-face video kiosk with Hertz ExpressRent™ kiosks.


About Hertz

Hertz operates its car rental business through the Hertz, Dollar and Thrifty brands from approximately 10,400 corporate, licensee and franchisee locations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and New Zealand. Hertz is the largest worldwide airport general use car rental brand, operating from approximately 8,800 corporate and licensee locations in approximately 150 countries. Hertz is the number one airport car rental brand in the U.S. and at 111 major airports in Europe. Dollar and Thrifty have approximately 1,580 corporate and franchisee locations in approximately 80 countries. Hertz is an inaugural member of Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards Hall of Fame and was recently named, for the thirteenth time, by the magazine's readers as the Best Car Rental Agency. Hertz was also voted the Best Overall Car Rental Company in Zagat's 2013/14 U.S. Car Rental Survey, earning top honours in 10 additional categories, and the Company swept the global awards for Best Rewards Program and Best Overall Benefits from Product and services such as Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, NeverLost®, and unique cars and SUVs offered through the Company's Adrenaline, Prestige and Green Traveller Collections, set Hertz apart from the competition. Additionally, Hertz owns the vehicle leasing and fleet management leader Donlen Corporation and operates the Hertz On Demand car sharing business. The Company also owns a leading North American equipment rental business, Hertz Equipment Rental Corporation, which includes Hertz Entertainment Services.


Emirates to Upgrade Warsaw Service

Emirates, one of the world's fastest growing airlines, will deploy a Boeing 777-300 aircraft to Warsaw from 1 January 2014.

The upgrade will come less than one year after the route's launch. Since the launch in February of this year, more than 58,000 passengers have travelled with Emirates on the Dubai-Warsaw route.
"Our Warsaw service has developed quickly and with demand continuing to increase, we feel the right time has come for Emirates to expand its capacity," said Hubert Frach, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President Commercial Operations West. "With the introduction of the larger aircraft, we will offer more than 5,000 seats every week on the route to key destinations like Dubai, Bangkok, Delhi, Colombo, Kuala Lumpur, and Australian network," added Mr Frach.
Emirates started its daily, non-stop flights to Warsaw from Dubai on 6 February 2013 with an Airbus A330-200. To meet growing demand on the route, the airline will upgrade the aircraft to a Boeing 777-300, with 12 luxurious seats in First Class, 42 deeply reclining seats in Business Class and 310 generously-sized Economy Class seats, increasing passenger capacity by almost 54 percent.


All classes of the new aircraft are equipped with Emirates' award-winning ice entertainment system with more than 600 channels on-demand entertainment to choose from, including movies, television programmes, games, audio books and music from across the world.


Passengers flying First Class with Emirates can enjoy a very generous baggage allowance of 50kg, in Business Class, 40kg and in Economy Class, a sizable 30 kg. The airline's chauffeur-drive service is available to both First Class and Business Class passengers.


In addition to carrying more passengers, the operation of the new aircraft will continue the positive momentum for Poland's import and export industry. Emirates SkyCargo, utilizing the Boeing 777-300 will have a daily belly-hold capacity of up to 20 tonnes in each direction, which means businesses will benefit from the additional 56 tonnes of weekly capacity on the route. Key exports from Poland include pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and electronic products; while some of the main imports are machinery, sporting goods, medical equipment, electrical equipment and leather products.

Emirates' flight EK 179 takes off daily from Dubai at
0725hrs and lands in Warsaw at 1130hrs. The return flight EK180 departs Warsaw at 1445hrs arriving in Dubai at 2215hrs the same day.
The Boeing 777 passenger aircraft is the backbone of the Emirates fleet, with
119 in service and a further 63 on order. Emirates  operates to 134 destinations in 77 countries.

Picture Caption: 

WAW: Emirates will deploy a Boeing 777-300 aircraft to Warsaw from 1 January 2014.


Game of Thrones tours

You may get to see King\'s Landing long before Khaleesi ever reaches it.

Here's a question for die-hard "Game of Thrones" fans.

Is your reaction to newly launched tours of "Game of Thrones" filming locations a) tittering fanjoy at the thought of seeing King's Landing in real life, or b) uneasy fear that touring the modern day castle without a sadistic boy-king inside it would impede your suspension of disbelief?

Either way, beginning this summer, devotees of topless fantasy, medieval bloodlust, flayings, dragons, direwolves, White Walkers and Peter Dinklage will be able to visit locations used in the filming of the epic HBO series.

Read more at CNN Travel

Thursday, June 27, 2013

TAT Hosts International Drum Festival to Build Role of Thailand As Centre of Music and Culture

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The National Theatre in Bangkok will come alive with the exotic beat, rhythm and tempo of the world's drums during a two-day International Drum Festival to be hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand between 5-6 July 2013.

Visitors, both locals and tourists, will have free admission to the numerous performances and demonstrations of dynamic drums by artistes and musicians from India, South Korea, Taiwan as well as Thailand.

The Festival is designed to build global friendship and cultural harmony by showing the important role of the many different kinds of drums in enlivening global music with powerful rhythm and beat. It will also show how drums have been used for festivals, weddings, processions, ceremonies and other national, religious, cultural and state events.

Said TAT Governor Suraphon Svetasreni, "This is part of our effort to promote Asian and ASEAN social and cultural integration by highlighting the spectacular role and uses of drums in many aspects of life. It will also go a long way towards enhancing the role of Thailand as a centre of arts, music and culture. Visitors will be fascinated by how many different kinds of drums there are."

The drums will include the Tabla from India, Lunba Cajon from Peru, Batucada from Brazil, Taiko drums from Japan, Djambe drums from Africa, and many more.

The performances will comprise two daily:

1. Inside the National Theatre (Performances at 140.0 hrs and 19.00 hrs)

2. Shows on Mini Stage (in front of National Theatre) (5 times per day, from 16.00 - 20.00 hrs)

The grounds of the National Theatre will also be used for demonstrations of the historic and remarkable technique of drum-making, which is an art in itself.

Special food and beverage stalls are also being organised, with a focus on ASEAN delicacies such as Nasi Lemak, Laksa, Polvoron, Vietnamese Spring Roll, Fruit Salad Lao, etc.

For further details, please contact the activity promotion department, Tourism Authority of Thailand, Tel; 02-2505500 ext 3480 and 02-2241342 or TAT Call Center 1672, website:

Paddle-mania at Gatorade Clash of the Paddles on Hamilton Island

Sun, sweat and sensational sport prevailed at the 30th anniversary of Gatorade Clash of the Paddles on Hamilton Island over the weekend.

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Over 650 surf skiers, outriggers, stand up paddlers, board paddlers and dragon boaters descended on the Island from 20-24th June to celebrate 30 years of the outrigging event. Formerly known as the Hamilton Cup, Gatorade Clash of the Paddles is one of the most challenging competitions on the Australian Outrigger Calendar, and also attracts some of the country’s top surf life saving athletes, Olympians and world champions.

Event highlights include first place for both the Surf Ski 16km and 25km marathons going to five-time Olympian and 15-time Aussies Single Ski Champion Clint Robinson OAM (Maroochydore SLSC). Robinson won the 16km race for the second year running in one hour, six minutes and nine seconds, narrowly beating Jeremy Cotter from North Burleigh’s one hour, six minutes and 23 seconds, followed by Swansea Belmont SLSC’s Greg Tobin in third.

Robinson’s 25km Ocean Ski race time record of just one hour, 34 minutes and 30 seconds saw him claim gold convincingly with a three minute lead over Jeremy Cotter in second and Cory Hill of BMD Northcliffe in third. Hayden Quinn of Manly SLSC performed strongly against the professionals, taking sixth and ninth in the 16km and 25km races respectively.

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World champion lifesaver Luke Cuff of Kurrawa SLSC took out the Men’s Open 8km Board race, narrowly beating Ky Hurst by a mere six seconds. With a number of Surf Life Saving sporting titles already under his belt, and Ironman legend Phil Clayton and top trainer Daniel Carruthers as his coaches, Cuff is set for continued success.

Ky Hurst said that he always enjoys competing on Hamilton Island. ‘Sporting events on Hamilton Island are perfect. It’s a great few days away where I get the opportunity to get some training in, as well as get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The Island’s also really family-friendly, so it’s great to bring the family along.’

The marathon 42km Outrigger race again proved to be the most grueling on the event’s schedule with 58 crews taking part. Outrigger Australia Open Men’s won the event in three hours, two minutes and fifty seconds, followed by Mooloolaba OCC Open Men’s with three hours, nine minutes and 31 seconds. 

Cronulla OCC came third in the open men’s, whilst Northern Beaches Masters Men placed third overall. 

Mooloolaba’s team largely consisted of juniors who have just stepped up into the open men’s division, with five of the team competing on Hamilton Island for the first time.

Northcliffe OCC came in fourth overall, with Clint Robinson onboard. Mooloolaba Senior Master Men won their division but also finished seventh overall, culminating in a sprint to the finish line with two Open crews, one being team Pacifica’s Hawaiian and Sydney crew.

downloadIn an interesting twist in the competition, outriggers took out the Dragon Boat flag race after Canberra’s Ice Dragon’s canoe took on water and sank mid-event, before being towed ashore.

Over 50 children took part in Nippers activities on Catseye Beach, hosted by surf legends Ky Hurst and Phil Clayton. Open to all participants, the Nippers clinics are designed to encourage grassroots growth of the sports. SUP Yoga classes taken by Charlotte Piho, Australia’s first and only SUPYoga accredited teacher, also proved hugely popular amongst competitors and guests.

The King of the Mountain foot race was also held, with Lynnen Birch crowned Queen of the Mountain with a time of 38 minutes and 42 seconds, and 14-year old Lloyd Clode-Roberts crowned King with a time of just 32 minutes and 41 seconds for the grueling 6.5km hilly course. Junior Queen of the Mountain went to Grace Booker, and Junior King of the Mountain to Ryder Harvey.

To see full results from Hamilton Island’s Gatorade Clash of the Paddles, please click on the following links to and More information on the event can also be found at

Putting the Queen in Queenstown at the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival Downtown Day

Another year, another spectacle of macho gone madam brought lunchtime crowds out to Earnslaw Park on Day 6 of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival for the infamous MoreFM Drag Race.

AEQWF 2013 MR6 Miss Best Dressed Helga Yankabollockoff (aka Richie Heap, Hoamz) at the MoreFM Drag Race
Hundreds gathered to watch twelve well-respected local businessmen and local personalities vie for the coveted overall title as they pushed and shoved their way around an obstacle course to test anyone’s stiletto-wearing skills.

American Express Queenstown Winter Festival Manager Lisa Buckingham said the crowd came out to “revel in the madness”.

“It’s one of those ‘only in Queenstown during Festival’ moments when visitors and locals spend their lunch break watching friends, family and bosses careen from one unique event to another at the MoreFM Downtown Day,” said Lisa.

“There’s always lots of healthy competition in these events and it’s hilarious to watch the local community come together and take part in some of the crazier winter festivities.”

Always a favourite with the crowds, this year’s event didn’t disappoint and there were some stand-out performances as spectators whooped and cheered in encouragement for their favourite ‘lady’.

Miss Inappropriate (Mark Wilson from Inappropriate Marketing) successfully defended ‘her’ 2012 win in a closely fought race with Wilma Ballsdrop (Scott Conway from Feast) and Robin Banks (Mark Pullar from Roost) which saw wigs flying, fascinators askew and stilettos abandoned.

Earlier the Cup & Cake Challenge, a twist on the good old egg and spoon race, saw competitors race around an intricate obstacle course while trying to keep their beautifully decorated cupcakes intact. The final challenge was to eat, which almost became inhale for winner James MacPherson of Queenstown, the cupcake to win.

The Tug of War, event six in the 10 days and 10 events Pub on Wharf Challenge, was taken out by Hadley’s Heroes from local business Hadley’s Consultants boosting their overall score.

Teams from Queenstown’s top hotels competed to be crowned the ‘Hosts with the Most’ in the QRC Hospitality Race, once again a closely fought event with the Mighty Mercurians from Mercure Queenstown Resort seizing the title

The first of three performances of Picasso at the Lapin Agile takes place tonight at 8pm in the International Departure Lounge of Queenstown Airport. For the next three evenings, the Storming Theatre Co-op presents Steve Martin’s hilarious and moving story of a meeting between Einstein and Picasso, set in a Paris bar in 1905.

Tonight’s George FM Aprés Ski session is with DJ Dean Campbell who hits the decks at Zephyr Bar in Searle Lane, spinning his mix of cool tunes and upbeat tracks.

Pooches and working dogs will need a good night’s sleep tonight before ‘stepping up’ at tomorrow’s Speight’s Dog Derby at Coronet Peak and Speight’s Dog Barking competition at Earnslaw Park. Dogs and their masters take part in both events which are free to watch with fun and chaos guaranteed. The Derby starts at 12pm followed by the barking at 3pm.

To see the full line up of the programme and individual event details check out the complete American Express Queenstown Winter Festival calendar online at or pick up a programme at information outlets throughout the region.

Europe, still providing over 70 percent of tourism arrivals

Despite the economic recession hitting many European countries, the “Old Continent" is still Seychelles' main market source, supplying 72,436 visitors up to the second week of June 2013, or a 12% increase on the corresponding period last year.

This was announced by Ms. Bernadette Willemin, Director of Marketing for Europe, in her presentation at Seychelles Tourism Board’s (STB) Mid-year Review at Le Meridien Barbarons Hotel.

Bernadette Willemin, Director of Marketing for Europe, in her presentation at the Seychelles Tourism Board Mid-year Review / Photo from
Bernadette Willemin, Director of Marketing for Europe, in her presentation at the Seychelles Tourism Board Mid-year Review 

She noted that though there are presently no direct flights from France, that the country is still in the “pole position" as the main provider of tourists - with 18,547 to date, 16% up on last year. Germany, which is served by a weekly direct flight operated by Condor is secon, with 14,751 visitors. and Italy is third with 8,564 with a drop of 3% on last year.

Ms. Willemin said that though there is a drop from Italy, one of Europe's countries worst hit by economic recession, the fact that it’s only a small percentage, shows that a lot of work has been done by the Seychelles team and tour operators in Italy. “Most of our competing destinations are feeling the pinch harder than us," she said

From the UK, though visitor arrivals are just about 5,000 by mid-June, this is still an increase of 16%. Ms. Willemin announced the appointment of young Tinaz Wadia, presently at the Seychelles Tourism Board Mid-year Review - as the STO UK Manager who will drive the team presently based at the UK office.
The Russian market has also grown by 4% to reach 7,833 visitors, taking the fourth position after Italy.

Ms. Willemin said that despite the ongoing recession in Europe, she has noted some positive aspects, which are undoubtedly contributing to continued growth from Europe, noting that the objective is to attract 157,000 European tourists by the end of the year.

On a positive note, she mentioned increased exposure brought about by press trips to Seychelles, TV interviews, media meetings, and many articles, including some cover stories in several European travel publications.

She also said that MICE (Meetings, Incentives travel, Conference and Events) is one important market segment which STB intends to tap from Europe, especially during the traditionally low seasons.

Ms. Willemin also said there is a stronger bonding with foreign partners, notably tour operators, including 250 new contacts. She noted that some recent developments in airline dynamics also appear favorable to Seychelles. One is the recent launch of Etihad flights to Amsterdam and another is Emirates flying to Stockholm, both of which augur well for Seychelles' marketing drives in Northern Europe, spared from recession so far.

Ms. Willemin, however, deplored the tendency by most European airports to hike their taxes, which now vary between 300 and 500 euros, a factor which she said impacts negatively on travel to long-haul destinations, such as Seychelles.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Swiss-Belhotel Expands Regional Reach With New Hotel Launch In Vietnam's Tourism Gateway To China

Asian hotel management powerhouse Swiss-Belhotel International Hotels & Resorts heads for the hills 
Swiss-Belhotel Lao Cai is the second Swiss-Belhotel branded property in Vietnam as the fast-growing Asian hotel management company extends its portfolio to more than 120 hotels and resorts across the region.with its latest Vietnam hotel launch in the stunning and historic city of Lao Cai, a hilltribe haven and tourist drawcard perched on the renascent nation's border with China.

Swiss-Belhotel Lao Cai is set to receive its first guests next month (July 2013), shifting one of Asia's fastest-growing hospitality groups up another gear in its quest to become a true regional player and providing a strategic presence in the city emerging as the prime tourism conduit between Vietnam and its giant northern neighbour.

The new hotel launch brings the Hong Kong-based group's portfolio to more than 120 hotels and resorts ranging from 2-star to 5-star classifications across Asia and the Middle East. Swiss-Belhotel Lao Cai is the group's second Vietnam property, joining the five star beachfront Swiss-Belhotel Golden Sand Resort & Spa, Hoi An.

Swiss-Belhotel's biggest presence is in Indonesia, where it operates 33 hotels, has another 56 under development and has been voted Indonesia's Leading Global Hotel Chain at the Indonesian Travel and Tourism Awards for the past three years. The brand promises a unique fusion of Swiss professionalism and Asian passion for service.

Swiss-Belhotel Chairman and President, Mr Gavin M. Faull, said the group was delighted to bring another unique property to Vietnam. "This is a city poised for big things at an absolutely vital location in the context of ASEAN and moves towards free trade, on the doorstep of the economy that drives the world.
The design and facilities at Swiss-Belhotel Lao Cai honour the hotel's cultural heritage with traditional decor and an authentic Vietnamese restaurant.
"We are looking forward to being a continuing part of the success of Swiss-Belhotel Lao Cai, and of Lao Cai itself," said Mr Faull, a New Zealand native whose 35 years in hotel management, operations and corporate development includes long stints with The Peninsula Group and Kingsgate International. "Vietnam is a fascinating nation of almost unlimited potential and it is a market we will be keeping a very close eye on for future partnerships."

Swiss-Belhotel Lao Cai is an elegant four-star international hotel poised upon a prime location in the fast-developing, picturesque tourism hub. Designed to accommodate the needs of both business and leisure travellers, the hotel blends contemporary style with traditional touches to offer a warm ambience and utmost convenience and comfort to its guests.

Adjoining the city's new commercial centre, the hotel features 186 fully equipped modern guestrooms and an array of sophisticated facilities including conference rooms, business centre, fitness centre and lobby lounge, as well as a bar and what will soon be recognized as some of the city's best restaurants. It also offers guests convenient access to many other dining, entertainment and shopping venues.

Spacious rooms and sizeable beds ensure guests' comfort throughout their stay, allowing visitors to truly unwind and discover Lao Cai at their leisure.
The Lao Cai-Hekou border crossing is the prime conduit between Vietnam and China, an international border crossing checkpoint at the confluence of two rivers, adjoining four provinces between the two Asian dragons.

 Its cool climate, colourful inhabitants like the 'Black Hmong' and 'Red Dao' hilltribes, and breathtaking scenery make it a tourist favourite, with attractions including nearby Sapa, One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh's stilt house, and Mount Fansipan, Vietnam's highest peak.

Lao Cai is also set to assume much greater significance as a regional economic and trade hub given its strategic location ahead of the likely establishment in 2015 of the ASEAN free trade zone. The border gate comprises road, railway and waterway facilities, and in the future will include air routes. Lao Cai is also the lynchpin of the Two Corridors, One Economic Belt project, and will become a key free trade route between ASEAN members and China.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places