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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grand Hyatt Shenyang Officially Opens

Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced today the opening of Grand Hyatt Shenyang, the first Hyatt-branded hotel in Northeast China that will provide a new level of upscale sophistication to business and leisure travelers in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province.

The hotel’s style will mirror the city of Shenyang, the largest city in Northeast China, melding ancient culture with vibrant modernity.

Grand_Hyatt_Shenyang_Pic_for_Press_Release_2“The opening of Grand Hyatt Shenyang expands our brand presence in China and supports our development strategy of building in key gateway cities and markets where our guests are traveling,” said Christopher Koehler, vice president of operations, China, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts. “It is a great honor for us to collaborate again with China Resources to open another property after the success of Grand Hyatt Shenzhen. By combining modernity and residential comfort with our distinctive world-class facilities and services, we believe that our newest addition to the Grand Hyatt portfolio will help redefine the standard for hotels in Shenyang.”
Occupying a newly built 29-story tower, Grand Hyatt Shenyang is strategically located on the prestigious Qingnian Avenue (known as the “Golden Corridor”) which is the main downtown commercial thoroughfare of Shenyang, offering first-class, engaging service to accommodate a growing number of Chinese and international visitors. The hotel provides direct access to the world-class MixC luxury retail mall and is conveniently situated near a majority of both corporate headquarters and premier residential buildings. The hotel also has convenient access to the Shenyang Taoxian International Airport and other transportation junctions.

“We are delighted to bring Hyatt’s world-renowned authentic hospitality and top-class facilities to Northeast China, which is a new part of the country for our brand,” said Stephan Tschuppik, general manager of Grand Hyatt Shenyang. “Grand Hyatt hotels around the world are traditionally known to be quite bold and dramatic, and Grand Hyatt Shenyang is no exception. We hope to exceed guest expectations in every way – from dining, to our sky-high city views, to our meeting capabilities. We look forward to introducing Grand Hyatt to this wonderful and vibrant city.”

Grand Hyatt Shenyang’s public areas and guestrooms were designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), a global leader in the hospitality interior design industry since 1965. The hotel design blends elements and motifs from ancient Shenyang with the spirit of a thriving 21st century city. Bold colors and eye-catching public spaces are complemented by modern artwork from local and international artists. The soaring Sky Lobby on the 25th floor features art installations inspired by the intricate imperial decorations of Shenyang’s famous ancient palaces where guests can enjoy an exclusive 360-degree panorama view of the breathtaking city.

Grand Hyatt Shenyang offers 353 guestrooms, which are among the largest in the city, starting at 452 square feet (42 square meters). Situated between floors six and 23, all rooms boast spectacular city views and plenty of natural light through floor-to-ceiling windows. Each room is styled with polished hardwood floors and modern furnishings. Exotic purple and gold accents, as well as impressive artworks inspired by Shenyang’s native flower – the rose – add a distinctive and unique touch of elegance to the overall warmth and comfort of each room. Each guestroom at Grand Hyatt Shenyang manages to strike a balance between luxury and comfort, resulting in a stylish home away from home for all business and leisure travelers.
The multimedia amenities in each room include complimentary high-speed broadband wireless Internet and a 46-inch LED TV equipped with cable. The spacious marble bathrooms feature a full-size bathtub, as well as a rainforest shower completed with the June Jacobs spa amenities collection.

The hotel also features 34 suites, ranging from 904 to 2,713 square feet (84 to 252 square meters) that offer guests the best in residential comforts, Oriental objets d’art and upper-floor city views. Grand Club accommodations are located on the 23rd floor, where guests can enjoy premium amenities and personalized services, including a continental buffet breakfast, evening cocktails, express check-in and checkout, and the use of the Grand Club meeting room.

Dining and Entertainment
The food and beverage outlets at Grand Hyatt Shenyang provide a unique local flavor with modern, cosmopolitan values. Northeast Chinese cuisine is deeply shaped and influenced by the local Manchu heritage and rich cultural history, and Grand Hyatt Shenyang is proud to offer its visitors the most comprehensive selection of dynamic cuisine concepts in Northeast China.

Grand Hyatt Shenyang provides signature gourmet experiences with talented master chefs at the hotel’s eight destination restaurants and bars in beautifully arranged, atmospheric settings. Located on the top five floors of the hotel, guests can enjoy stunning city views while relishing exquisite cuisine or a glass of wine in the city’s premier dining destination. The interiors of the restaurants and bars are designed by AVORKO, a leading company in the hospitality interior design industry.

The Lounge on level 25 is a stylish venue for business meetings and social gatherings and it serves freshly brewed tea, coffee, and fine wines, along with afternoon tea platters. Additionally, Café Kitchen is a vibrant all-day restaurant where chefs at interactive show kitchens prepare an extensive assortment of international and local cuisines.

Three Chinese restaurants invite guests to savor different regional cuisines and ambiences. Cuan on level 27 is a casual hotpot restaurant that highlights wholesome local specialties with a fun twist. The menu features an array of soup stocks from various regions in Asia, accompanied by premium meats, seafood and farm-fresh vegetables.

Xin Feng Tian specializes in authentic regional Chinese favorites, including spicy Sichuan dishes and signature Peking duck roasted in a wood-fired oven. Jun Hui 28 is a private fine-dining restaurant on level 28. Ten exclusive residential-style suites can host up to 24 diners with seasonally tailored banquet menus and spectacular views of Shenyang.

Il Forno, on the highest level of the hotel, is an Italian steakhouse that specializes in prime char-grilled steaks, homemade pastas and gourmet pizzas straight from the Italian oven. Styled like a contemporary trattoria, guests can choose to dine at the communal Chef’s Tables, intimate booths or in one of two private rooms spacious enough for a party of 12. The restaurant wine bar is an ideal spot for catching up with friends, family or business partners over drinks.

FA’R is the newest staple in Shenyang’s nightlife. This luxurious lounge on level 29 is a glamorous place to enjoy champagne, premium wines, spirits and impeccably mixed cocktails, accompanied by the ambient soundtrack of the live house band and resident DJ.

Event and Wellness Facilities
Grand Hyatt Shenyang is the leading choice for high-level meetings, functions and weddings in Northeast China with all facilities thoughtfully developed to provide optimal space for events of every kind. A qualified events team is always on hand to ensure that every meeting, conference or private function is seamlessly coordinated, from its planning stage through to its completion.

Grand Hyatt Shenyang offers more than 36,920 square feet (3,430 square meters) of meeting and event space spanning the dedicated third and fourth floors. The centerpiece venue is the 11,000 square foot (1,022 square meter) Grand Ballroom – one of the largest hotel ballrooms in Shenyang – that boasts an almost 90 square-foot (eight meters) high ceiling and picturesque windows that attract an abundance of natural light.

The 10 multi-purpose meeting and function spaces are carefully designed rooms that range in size from 409 to 11,000 square feet (38 to 1,022 square meters), equipped with cutting-edge systems and technology, wireless Internet, plus a professional team of experts on standby known as the Technology Concierge team. The Residence is a unique 409 to 2,691 square feet (38 to 250 square meters) residential-style event venue with a living room, loft kitchen and two coffee bars. It can host up to 300 guests and is a perfect location for cocktail receptions, private parties and wedding banquets.

Guests visiting Grand Hyatt Shenyang for business or pleasure will enjoy the utmost relaxation and rejuvenation offered in the city at the wellness center found on level five. Qing Spa features an extensive menu of body and facial treatments performed by experienced therapists in six private treatment suites. Guests can also stay active during their trip at the state-of-the-art fitness center and temperature-controlled indoor swimming pool with impressive views of the city skyline.

To learn more about Grand Hyatt Shenyang or to make a reservation, please visit

Kiwi's Get a Taste of the Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast food industry will increase its international profile by exhibiting at the Auckland Food Show this week. 

Martin Duncan preparing a pizza at Freestyle Escape Cooking School
As part of the Sunshine Coast culinary tourism group, Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd (SCDL) will launch its new Official Food Guide and be represented by local foodie and New Zealand expat, Martin Duncan. 

Martin, who runs Freestyle Escape Cooking School in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, said he was excited to showcase Sunshine Coast food to more than 35,000 New Zealanders.

“It’s a great opportunity to connect with like-minded people and introduce Kiwi's to the Sunshine Coast as a fabulous location for a short break away,” he said.

“The Official Food Guide will tempt their tastebuds with information about local producers, cooking schools, food attractions, markets, tours, festivals and award-winning restaurants - as well as tips on eating like a local.

“I'm looking forward to introducing consumers to new food experiences unique to the Sunshine Coast such as the whole paddock to plate experience, growing things and connecting with passionate local producers.”

Cover of the Official Food Guide for the Sunshine Coast
The Auckland Food Show is the largest food expo in New Zealand that attracts around 35,000 consumers over 4 days (1 to–4 Aug).
The Sunshine Coast stand has been organised by the Sunshine Coast culinary tourism group which was formed to grow the region’s reputation as a world class food destination. The group is represented by SCDL, Tourism and Events Queensland, Sunshine Coast Council’s Seasons of the Sun and the local culinary industry.

In addition to creating the region’s Official Food Guide, the group has developed a food experience trail and last week exhibited at the Regional Flavours Festival in Brisbane.

Air New Zealand flies twice weekly from the Sunshine Coast to Auckland on Tuesdays and Sundays until October 13.

To view the eBook of the Official Food Guide, go to

Sydney Festival And The Star Announce New Four-Year Principal Partnership From 2014

Sydney Festival, the annual celebration of art, culture and ideas that takes over Sydney every January, along with The Star, Sydney’s premium events and entertainment destination, have today announced a new four-year Principal Partnership.

An existing partner of Sydney Festival, The Star is aiming higher as it steps up to become the Principal Partner from 2014, supporting one of Australia’s most significant cultural events.
Lieven Bertels, Sydney Festival Director with Frederic Luvisutto, Managing Director, The Star

Following an $870 million redevelopment, The Star will leverage its award-winning restaurants, hotels and events and entertainment venues to enrich and enhance the much anticipated Festival for all Sydneysiders, plus interstate and international visitors. From pop-up bars atop its recently opened Event Centre rooftop overlooking the Sydney skyline, to performances and special events in its live venues including the Sydney Lyric, Marquee and Rock Lily, the plans for January should leave Sydney in much anticipation for what is in store.

Sydney Festival Director, Lieven Bertels, says the Principal Partnership agreement with The Star is a perfect marriage between two of Sydney’s most-visited attractions. “The Star is one of Sydney’s flagship destinations, and the Sydney Festival is one of Sydney’s signature events,” he said. “The synergies between our “This is our city in summer” positioning, and the place that The Star occupies in Sydney all year round, presents many opportunities to take the Festival to another level.”

Echo Entertainment CEO, John Redmond, highlighted the important role the new partnership would play in the ongoing repositioning of The Star in Sydney and internationally. “The recent $870m renovation is transforming the way The Star is enjoyed and perceived by Sydney-siders and visitors alike. The new Principal Partnership with such an iconic Sydney event will further highlight the role that The Star is playing as an important part of Sydney’s offering.”

The synergies extend beyond branding, however. Redmond believes the partnership will contribute to a truly spectacular experience for Sydney-siders in January, as well as a driver of international and interstate visitation: “While The Star has been involved with Sydney Festival for some time now, we are thrilled to be increasing its support in becoming the Principal Partner of this iconic, much loved and very valuable cultural celebration.”

The Star’s Managing Director, Frederic Luvisutto, believes The Star’s partnership with Sydney Festival is a perfect match. “The Star offers a multitude of entertainment venues to host the many varied events of the Festival, plus hotel, corporate and hospitality facilities for visitors. We already love hosting both local and international guests during the Festival and look forward to celebrating summer, art and performance throughout this partnership. We are thrilled to be supporting the inspiring and innovative performances which the Festival is renowned for, to prosper for future years.”

Bertels added: “Access to such a spectacular range of venues presents a great avenue for us to deliver a memorable and unparalleled Festival program starting in 2014.”

The Star’s cultural credentials span various venues, international acts and celebrated shows, with the Sydney Lyric playing host to everyone from Al Pacino and Kevin Spacey (in Richard III) to Stevie Wonder and Elton John. The new state-of-the-art Event Centre played host this year to the coveted Australian Academy Cinema TV Awards and the Prix de Marie Claire awards.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Dockside Group will inspire tastebuds at the Australian Business Events Expo 2013

Showcasing the world class cuisine available across Dockside Group’s seven iconic Sydney Harbour side venues, the team will exhibit at the Australian Business Events Expo, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, 14 – 15 August, 2013. 

Led by Dockside Group’s charismatic Executive Chef, Heiner Volkens, the team of culinary experts will prepare and serve canapés for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea on Dockside Group’s stand D12.

Executive Chef, Heiner Volkens delighted 2012 attendees with fresh canapés throughout the two-day tradeshowThe event-style menu has been designed to delight the wide variety of attendees, and will include sweet pastries, King Salmon confit with caper and garlic aioli, and mini lemon meringue pies.

In addition to cuisine tasting on the stand, Restaurants Head Chef, Thomas Hawley, will showcase his flair at the Taste Kitchen, a new feature of the revitalised Australian Business Events Expo for 2013. 

Mr Hawley will demonstrate the process of preparing a delicious gluten free dish of seared Queensland scallops with cauliflower and apple remoulade, cauliflower puree, crisp pancetta and toasted black quinoa.

Executive Director of Sales and Marketing, Beverly Parker, and her team will share event ideas, inspiration and the versatility of Dockside Group’s event venues including, L’Aqua, Dockside and Star room for conferences, meetings, product launches, breakfast functions, lunches, gala dinners, exhibitions and large international congress dinners. 

Dockside Group exhibited at the Australian Business Events Expo in 2012, highlighting Sydney’s most prestigious five star function venue in Darling Harbour, L’Aqua
Supporting the business events industry, Dockside Group and Meetings and Events Australia will co-host a networking event at their stand (D12) at 3pm on August 14.

Dockside Group invites the industry to come and meet their team of event professionals including Tracy Knight, Marketing Manager, Tina Eggers, Senior Business Development Manager, Collun Dearman, Corporate Sales Manager, Stephanie Bourke, Business Development Manager, Gabriella Alberici, Sales Manager - Restaurants, Deanne Costello, Business Development Manager and Caroline Matulic, Business Development Manager.

Register now to attend the Australian Business Events Expo:

Mayor confirms major new boost to London 2012 legacy with construction of UK’s largest indoor ski facility in Stratford

Westfield Stratford City will submit a planning application to LLDC by the end of the summer for a major leisure attraction on land adjacent to its retail operations, to include London's first indoor ski facility.

The new ski centre would be more than double size of other similar UK centres and be comparable with Ski Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The planning application is also expected to include retail, hotel and restaurant opportunities.

The Mayor and the LLDC have also announced today the awarding of multi-million pound contracts to convert the Olympic stadium, securing its long-term, multi-purpose use. The E20 Stadium Partnership - set up between the LLDC and Newham Council - has awarded a series of major contracts, with Balfour Beatty Group Limited delivering a £41m contract to carry out works on the stadium roof. This will help convert it into an all-round multi-use venue and deliver a lasting sporting, cultural and commercial legacy in east London.

Balfour Beatty will begin to dismantle the existing roof and floodlight towers from autumn 2013. Once the existing roof and floodlight towers are removed a new roof will be built and lifted into position. It will be twice the size of the original at around 45,000sq metres and will cover every seat in the ground and improve the acoustics for matches and concerts. In addition, Imtech G&H will deliver a £25m contract for electrical and plumbing work in the stadium and Carey's PLC have won a £1.5m contract to carry out preparatory work for Balfour Beatty.

In addition, the Mayor has also confirmed today that the LLDC is in substantive discussions with University College London (UCL) about developing a major new UCL campus on the Olympic Park. This follows  yesterday’s announcement that the Mayor and the LLDC are set to speed up the creation of new neighbourhoods on the Olympic Park, to include 1,600 homes completed and fully occupied by 2023, rather than 2029 as originally planned.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “One year on from London's Olympic and Paralympic Games and we are defying the sceptics who prophesied a herd of white elephants. This weekend, elite athletics returns to the magnificent Olympic stadium and major contracts are now in place to transform the venue into a multi-sport arena. In further good news, Stratford's status as a stunning new destination is confirmed by Westfield's plans for a world-class indoor ski centre. This underscores the massive confidence in this area from investors which is delivering a real pay back for taxpayers in terms of jobs and the regeneration of East London.”

The retractable seating arrangements in the Stadium will allow for seats to be moved backwards and forwards depending on the type of event taking place. It will allow pitch side football viewing while retaining the iconic international class running track.

The Stadium will see the return of Olympic and Paralympic super-stars this weekend with three days of world class athletics action during the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games (26-28 July). The Games are part of the celebrations to mark the anniversary of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony.

London’s legacy planning is firmly on track, ahead of any previous host city. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s 8 venues have long term secure private sector futures and the Mayor is committed to deliver 11,000 homes and 10,000 jobs on the site. From Stratford to the Lower Lee Valley to the Royal Docks regeneration is bringing thousands more homes and jobs. New timelapse footage released today shows the huge amount of progress that has been made since the end of the Games.

Tourism Australia Targets Australian Families with Beach Campaign

The traditional beach holiday provides the focus for Tourism Australia's latest domestic campaign, which seeks to encourage Australian families considering an overseas trip to switch instead to a holiday in Australia.

Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy said the domestic push, the latest phase of its There's nothing like Australia campaign, was backed by new research in which parents and their Pebbly Beach, South Coast, NSWchildren rated a beach holiday in Australia significantly higher than beach holidays taken abroad.

"An Australian beach holiday provides the ideal environment for families to spend quality time together and for children to develop self confidence, life skills and values," Mr McEvoy said.

"Australia has some of the most desirable coastal destinations in the world, and our research confirms that the traditional beach holiday hasn't lost its appeal with Australian families."

"With this campaign we aim to remind Australians that the benefits they most want from a family holiday - things like safety, quality time, freedom and space - are all available right here in our own country, at the beach," he said.

Australian parents and their children rated their own country's beach holidays as comparable as or better than overseas holidays in 13 of 15 categories, including swimming, relaxing, fishing, exploring rock pools and playing beach games such as beach cricket and building sandcastles.

The campaign will see Tourism Australia work closely with the states and territories as well as up to 120 industry partners including Flight Centre, one of the biggest global travel agency networks, and AOT Group, the largest wholesaler of Australian travel products and services in the world.

Mr McEvoy said that families represented the largest domestic tourism segment in terms of both numbers and also spending, contributing nearly a third of total leisure holiday expenditure. In the past 12 months, the family segment grew more than 6 per cent, compared to domestic tourism as a whole which expanded around 1 per cent.

The launch of the campaign comes just weeks after the most recent National Visitor Survey (NVS) which shows continued growth in domestic tourism, with total trips up 0.8 per cent, nights up 4.3 per cent and spending up 2.7 per cent for the first quarter of 2013.

Mr McEvoy said Tourism Australia had been heavily promoting domestic tourism, as part of its broader There's nothing like Australia campaign launched in 2010, and was seeing a significant turnaround in domestic travel, with the 74.6m domestic trips taken by Australians in the past 12 months just short of the last peak (75.6m) in 2008.

"Australians are now taking ten times more trips in their own country than overseas, and it's particularly pleasing to see more Australian families choosing to holiday in their own country. With this campaign we want to remind Australian families of the unforgettable experiences and memories of a beach holiday at home," he said.

In 2012 Australians took nearly 75 million overnight domestic trips, an increase of 4 per cent compared to the previous year.

Domestic tourism remains the biggest segment of the Australian tourism industry, injecting A$50 billion into the economy last year.

The campaign includes TV, cinema, print and digital and runs between 27 July and13 September.

Combined events spark celebrations in Airlie Beach

Mixing fun and serious sailing at Airlie Beach Race Week
(Shirley Wodson Photography)

The official launch of Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week tomorrow, Friday, July 26 will spark the beginning of an event-filled month in August.

Event organisers of Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week, the Whitsunday Reef Festival and the Great Whitsunday Fun Race are all anticipating a huge month this August with all three events occurring within the same week.

And, with the Reef Festival hosting the official opening of the new Airlie Beach Main Street, the entire community is expected to join in the celebrations.

The launch of Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week tomorrow will mark the countdown to the biggest keelboat regatta on Queensland’s mainland, running from August 9-16.

Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week Event Chairman Rob Davis said everyone is feeling the anticipation and excitement of all three events.

“The month will be refreshing for the entire Whitsunday community and we hope everyone joins in the fun – or, just come down to watch the festivities take place,” Mr Davis said.

‘We are also excited that the sailing club’s popular Great Whitsunday Fun Race is tagged onto the end of Abell Point Marina Airlie Beach Race Week and features in the middle of the reef festival,” he said.

Meanwhile, Whitsunday Reef Festival Chairperson Margie Murphy said the entire committee will be bringing a top festival this year, running from August 15-18.

“The Whitsunday Reef Festival committee is excited to be bringing you arguably the biggest event ever to hit the streets of Airlie Beach. This year the festival incorporates a two-day street party to celebrate the unveiling of our new-look Airlie Beach Main Street,” Ms Murphy said.

“A state-of-the-art stage right in the middle of the street will host some of Australia’s top artists including Timomatic who will follow on from the Porters Friday Night Fireworks – itself an iconic annual event on Airlie’s calendar,” she said.

The entire region will see the action in August with the Shag Island Cruising Yacht Club ‘Vice Commodore’ Rendezvous at Montes Reef Resort and Hamilton Island Race Week also held throughout the month.

To read more about the events, visit and

Sofitel new So Auckland hotel for 2015

The Pacific region is set to welcome its very first Sofitel So 'designer' hotel, with Sofitel Luxury Hotels today announcing plans to open the Sofitel So Auckland in New Zealand in 2015.

Sofitel So Auckland will become the fourth Sofitel branded hotel to join the expanding Sofitel network in New Zealand, alongside the Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa, Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour, and much anticipated Sofitel Wellington in the nation's capital due to open in 2014.

The hotel, estimated to cost NZ$50 million, is owned by the Auckland based Pandey family via the CP Group. CP Group currently operate 11 Accor and Sofitel branded hotels in New Zealand, with two more – the Sofitel Wellington and Sofitel So Auckland – currently under construction, taking the number to 13 by 2015.

Globally, Sofitel So Auckland is the fourth addition to Sofitel So's boutique portfolio joining the Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre, Sofitel So Bangkok, and Sofitel So Singapore which will launch in December 2013. Other hotels are currently under way in Mumbai and Rio.

Artist impressions of new Sofitel So Auckland
The new 133 room Sofitel So Auckland hotel will be located in the heart of Auckland's CBD in the old New Zealand Reserve Bank at 67 Customs Street, just one street back from Auckland's stunning harbour foreshore and a five minute walk to the popular Auckland Viaduct entertainment precinct.

Facilities will include a lobby lounge bar and rooftop restaurant, a range of meeting and conference spaces and a swimming pool. Sofitel So Auckland will also offer a state-of-the-art day Sofitel branded SoSpa with six treatment rooms, with a wide range of beauty and wellness treatments, and a SoFit centre, both located in the old bank vault.

Building on the time-honoured establishment of Sofitel Luxury Hotels and their unique brand blueprint that combines French luxury with the essence of local tradition, Sofitel So is the network's 'designer hotel' label featuring trendy hotels in contemporary locations, with a strong focus on expressing the essence of the destination.

Area General Manager for Sofitel New Zealand Wouter de Graaf said it was an honour for New Zealand to be selected as the first address for the international design label in the Pacific region.

"Sofitel So Auckland is the perfect complement to our hotel portfolio here, with its design connections and passion for blending pleasure, style and soul ensuring a genuinely contemporary luxury experience for guests," he said. "Sofitel's continued growth and expansion in Auckland certainly gives credit to the city's status as the Pacific's next emerging luxury travel destination.

"New Zealand has always been a world-class destination, but perhaps for the first time Auckland is now truly ready to realise its true tourism potential, with continued investment in creative projects like the Sofitel So Auckland poised to redefine hospitality experiences for both local and international visitors alike."

Each So has its own atmosphere created by a famous name from the world of fashion, the arts or design. The first So label hotel in Mauritius featured interiors by Thai architect Lek Bunnag and signature designs by Kenzo Takada, while the second in Bangkok was decorated by famous local designers inspired by the 5 elements, Water, Earth, Wood, Metal and Fire, with a « French Touch » contributed by Monsieur Christian Lacroix. In keeping with the tradition, the upcoming third Sofitel So currently under construction in Singapore will feature a design signature by Karl Lagerfeld. The design connection for the latest So in Auckland is still under negotiation.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Queenstown at world’s fingertips with new mobile site

Hot on the heels of reaching a record one million website visits in 12 months*, Queenstown’s online presence has received another boost with the launch of a new mobile visitor information site.

Destination Queenstown’s second generation mobile site went live today and offers an easy-to-navigate version of Queenstown’s full website targeted at millions of potential travellers using mobile devices to dream and plan holidays online.

New features include a weather ‘widget’ on the home page, Queenstown’s latest news and videos, promotions that change according to seasonality and the visitor market mix, and enhanced synergy with the full site.  A new events app will also be introduced shortly.

Destination Queenstown CEO Graham Budd says redeveloping the mobile site was spurred by a fast-growing smartphone user market.

“Mobile access to online information is now an essential part of modern consumer lifestyles and indications are that in the next few years more people worldwide will be connecting to the internet via a mobile device than a PC.

“We’ve seen this on our own site - in the past year total website traffic has grown by 42 percent while our mobile traffic has increased 260 percent.  This has given us the confidence to develop this new comprehensive mobile site which enables people to access more of our content on the move via the device of their choice.

“Features such as enhanced design, stronger internal navigation and ‘search and share’ functionality will make accessing and sharing our Queenstown information easy, quicker and therefore a more satisfying experience overall.”

Mr Budd says Destination Queenstown’s aim is to create a world-class Queenstown portal to inform, inspire and motivate potential visitors about New Zealand’s premier visitor destination.
“The new mobile site will further enhance our connection and accessibility with the world and ensure we’re moving with advances in user technology.  Optimising our mobile capabilities will enable us to easily be at people’s fingertips at all times which is essential in such a fast-moving and highly competitive online space.”

Like the full website, the new mobile site was designed by Queenstown-based Feast Creative and built by Christchurch web company Cabbage Tree Creative.

For more information about Queenstown visit

TUI Travel launches SuneoClub, first group-wide product

TUI Travel PLC today launches its first international group-wide unique concept: SuneoClub. This is the first concept that has been designed and developed by our experts across all the mainstream source markets with international audiences in mind. 

The move is the latest in our drive towards modernising the Mainstream Sector offering.

We know holidays aren’t a luxury that people want to give up because of tough times. We have therefore developed SuneoClub which will feature a series of bright, modern and friendly three star all inclusive hotels offering great quality at a really affordable price. Perfect for couples, families and groups alike, the hotels will offer modern rooms designed with a neutral base featuring splashes of bright colour.

Departures will begin from early Summer 2014. SuneoClub properties will be exclusive to TUI Travel customers and initially will be available in the destinations of Menorca, Cyprus and Turkey. In the UK, SuneoClub will be sold exclusively through the First Choice brand.

Johan Lundgren, Deputy Chief Executive of TUI Travel PLC, said: 
‘What’s great is that SuneoClub is the first of our international group-wide concepts. We have been working collaboratively across all our source markets and together we’ve created something truly innovative. SuneoClub has been designed for travellers looking for incredible value on a budget. This links directly into our Mainstream strategy of designing holidays for specific customer segments. This product will deliver great quality at a really affordable price for our customers.”

Mark Hall, Director of Product at First Choice, said: 
“The SuneoClub hotels offer great value for money to customers, and we are delighted to introduce them from next summer. Our customers have told us that a comfortable and fun environment is really important to them for their holiday – therefore SuneoClub has been designed to provide excellent service, food and comfort teamed with a fun and relaxing sun and beach location.”

Searching For The Ultimate Rugby Fan

South African Tourism, Tsogo Sun Hotels and FOX SPORTS Rugby HQ are offering Australian rugby fanatics the chance to win a trip of a lifetime to South Africa to watch the Wallabies live in Cape Town this September.

Running from now until 18 August 2013, sporting fans across the country can enter the competition online by sending a photo of themselves and explaining in 25 words or less why they deserve to be the Ultimate Rugby Fan in South Africa.

Two lucky fans will then win the chance to tick adventure, the ultimate rugby experience and the chance to see an international championship live in the Rainbow Nation off their Bucket Lists when they cheer on the Wallabies as they take on the Springboks at the iconic Newlands field in Cape Town.

The prize, valued at over $15,000, includes return economy flights for two people from Australia to Cape Town via Johannesburg, five nights in five star accommodation in the Western Cape and Cape Town thanks to Tsogo Sun Hotels, the chance to tick at least one Cape Town adventure off their Bucket List such as diving with Great White Sharks  or riding a Harley around Cape Town, the opportunity to meet with the FOX SPORTS Rugby HQ Commentary team, corporate box tickets and hospitality at the Australia versus South Africa international championship match on 28 September, 2013.

The winners will be revealed on FOX SPORTS Rugby HQ on Thursday 29 August and will be heading over to the Rainbow Nation from 24-30 September, 2013.

To enter the competition, visit

To learn more about South Africa, visit, find a great deal at or become a fan of South African Tourism’s Facebook page,
To follow the South African Bucket List on Twitter, use #SouthAfricaBucketList.

AirAsia X adds Adelaide flights

Inline images 1

Malaysian low-cost long haul carrier AirAsia X has just announced its fifth Australian destination, with new services to launch between Kuala Lumpur and Adelaide effective from 30 Oct this year.

The move follows an expansion of bilateral capacity between Australia and Malaysia, with the new route to operate four times per week utilising a new Airbus A330-300 aircraft with capacity for 377 passengers.

AirAsia X ceo Azran Osman-Rani announced the move in Adelaide alongside SA premier Jay Weatherill and tourism minister Leon Bignell.

Launch fares lead in at just $99 one way in economy class or $599 in the AirAsia X flatbed-equipped premium cabin, and can be booked now. 

"Australia is one of our core markets where AirAsia X will see its wings expand, and the Adelaide route has been a priority," Osman-Rani said.

"Our goal since launching our first Australian service on the Gold Coast in 2007 was to operate in the five major states, and we are proud to have accomplished this within six years," he added.

Tourism Australia md Andrew McEvoy hailed the move, saying "AirAsia X's track record suggests that they will significantly grow the number of visitors from Malaysia and the region".

More information in tomorrow's Travel Daily

Award of Excellence for Scenic Cruises

Scenic Cruises, the cruising division of Scenic Tours, has received an 'Award of Excellence' from renowned author Steven B. Stern after being ranked in the highest class category for river cruise ships in his book, 'Guide to European Riverboats and Hotel Barges'. Stern has sailed on over 790 cruise ships, river cruise ships and hotel barges, visiting every major port of call in the world, and personally inspecting virtually every ship currently in operation. He has evaluated every vessel based on comfort and luxury.

In the comprehensive guide, Stern has ranked 16 different river cruise companies into four categories, Deluxe, Premium, Standard and Economy. The river cruise ships have not been categorised based upon price or clientele like ocean cruising. Instead Stern says, "Some riverboats offer more than others, and therefore, I have assigned class categories to reflect which are in the best condition, are most well-appointed, and offer the most common facilities, the best dining and service, and the most comfortable accommodation. Those that are all-inclusive and include all alcoholic beverages, all tours, and other amenities will receive the highest ratings."

Scenic Cruises is proud to announce that they were one of two companies in the world and the only Australian based River Cruise line (out of 16) to have all their river cruise ships classed into the highest category (Deluxe).  Scenic Cruises Managing Director, Glen Moroney, says "This award recognises our efforts to ensure high standards and consistency of these standards right across the Scenic fleet. We want our guests to enjoy the same luxurious experience regardless of what ship they sail on."

The awards comes after the recent announcement of being named the 'Best Luxury Cruise Line' by the prestigious New York Travel Writers Society (NYTWS), the 'Best Luxury Tour Operator'  by Luxury Travel magazine's 2013 Gold List, and the 'Best River Cruise Line' by Cruise Passenger Magazine.


Friday, July 26, 2013

HM Awards Finalists Announced in 24 Categories

Finalists have been revealed in 24 categories for the 2013 HM Awards presented by Sealy.

Due to an overwhelming number of entries and the extra time being taken by the judging panels to select finalists, highly commended recipients and winners, the announcement of finalists this year will be staggered.

24 categories have been announced today (July 26), with a further 17 to be revealed next Friday (Aug 2) and the remaining five to be announced at the HM Awards Gala Presentation Dinner in Sydney on Friday, September 6.

Tickets are currently selling fast for the Australasian accommodation industry's premier night of the year, one that will see almost 50 HM Awards handed out, recognising excellence over a range of categories, from people and departments to properties and chains.

Channel 7 television personality Larry Emdur will host the evening for the third time in 2013, one that's expected to attract around 600 hotel industry professionals.

In the last ten years, almost 5000 people have attended the HM Awards and more than 400 awards have been awarded to hotels across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.

The HM Awards are presented by Sealy; hosted by HM magazine and; co-hosted by AHS, Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, Foxtel Business, Intrust Super and Nespresso; and sponsored by Dometic, HotelHome Australia, Prototype Furniture, Spice magazine,, Time Out Melbourne, Time Out Sydney and

The 2013 HM Awards gala presentation dinner is being held at Sydney Town Hall on Friday, September 6, 2013.

For bookings, visit


Australian Property Awards

1. Serviced Apartment Property

To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

2. Budget Accommodation
BreakFree Aanuka Resort

Breakfree Diamond Beach
Country Comfort Ipswich
Econolodge Sydney South
Formula1 Perth Airport
Formula1 Melbourne
Formula1 Sydney Airport
Habitat HQ
Ibis Budget Auckland Airport
Outback Pioneer and Lodge

3. Economy Hotel

To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

4. Midscale HotelTo be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

5. Upscale HotelTo be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

6. Upper-upscale HotelTo be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

7. Luxury HotelTo be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

8. Australian Lodge
Cape Lodge, Margaret River
El Questro Homestead
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Kim's Beach Hideaway
Lake House, Daylesford
Longitude 131
Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge
Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld
Wildman Wilderness Lodge

9. Business Hotel

To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

10. Resort
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

11. Hotel Interior Design
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

12. Boutique Hotel
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

13. New HotelAdina Apartment Hotel Norwest
Best Western Premier The Terrace Hotel
Fraser Suites Perth
QT Sydney
Quest Sydney Olympic Park
Quest Bendigo Central
Quest Frankston on the Bay
Quest on Franklin, Adelaide
Salamanca Wharf Hotel, Hobart
The Flinders Hotel

14. MICE Property
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

15. Regional Property
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

16. Day Spa
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

17. Hotel Bar
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

18. Hotel Restaurant
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

19. Tech Hotel
To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

New Zealand & South Pacific Property Awards

20. New Zealand Hotel

To be announced on Friday, August 2, 2013

21. New Zealand Regional PropertyBest Western 555 on Bayview

Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco
Hilton Lake Taupo
Millbrook, Central Otago
Owen River Lodge
Peppers Bluewater Resort Tekapo
Peppers Clearwater Resort
Quest Napier
Quest Rotorua Central
Te Wanoui Forest Retreat, Franz Joseph Glacier

22. New Zealand LodgeBlanket Bay, Glenorchy
Huka Lodge, Taupo
Kaimata Lodge, Dunedin
Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown
Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch
Owen River Lodge, Murchison
Peppers Awaroa Lodge
Peppers Parehua, Martinborough
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, Hawkes Bay
Warekauhau Country Estate, Palliser Bay

23. Fijian PropertyFiji Beach Resort and Spa by Hilton
InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa
Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denarau Island
Royal Davui
Shangri-La's Fijian Resort, Yanuka
Sheraton Fiji Resort
Sofitel Fiji Resort and Spa
Vomo Island Resort
WorldMark Resort Denarau Island
Yasawa Island Resort and Spa

24. South Pacific Property
Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort, French Polynesia
Madang Star International Hotel, Papua New Guinea
Aggie Grey's Lagoon, Beach Resort and Spa, Samoa
Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort and Thalasso Spa, French Polynesia
Le Meridien Ile des Pins, New Caledonia
Matavai Resort, Niue Island
Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands
Sofitel Bora Bora Marara Beach and Private Island, French Polynesia
Te Manava Luxury Villas and Spa, Cook Islands

Property Awards - All countries (Australia, NZ & Sth Pacific)

25. Marketing Campaign

Best Western Australasia
Crowne Plaza Terrigal
DoubleTree by Hilton
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Hamilton Island
InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto
Mercure Sydney
Novotel Melbourne Glen Waverley
Parkroyal Darling Harbour
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
Sofitel Brisbane Central

26. Service to the Community
Accor Hotels
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Hilton on the Park Melbourne
Mercure Sydney
Parkroyal Parramatta
QStation, Manly
Stamford Hotels
The Sebel Pier One
The York by Swiss-Belhotel
Yasawa Island Resort and Spa, Fiji

People Awards - All countries (Australia, NZ & Sth Pacific)

27. Concierge
Allan Alvarez, Sydney Harbour Marriott

Colin Toomey, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
David Board, Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour
David Mclean, Swissotel Sydney
David Patt, InterContinental Sydney
Gary Chan, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney
Graham Hodgson, Emporium Hotel Brisbane
James Ridenour, InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto
Justin Matheson, The Sebel Pier One Sydney
Rhett Constantine, Pullman and Mercure Melbourne Albert Park
Stuart Spicer, Pan Pacific Perth

28. Hotel ChefAnthony Craven, The Langham, Sydney
Dan Hunter, Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld
Daniel Simpson, Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour
Desmond Carneiro, Sheraton on the Park
John Savage, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
John Slaughter, The Sebel Pier One Sydney and Harbour Rocks Hotel
Leigh Robbins, Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne
Pierre Khodja, The Flinders Hotel
Stefan Blee, Best Western Premier Hotel 115 Kew
Tamas Pamer, InterContinental Sydney
Will Eaglesfield, Eichardt's Private Hotel, Queenstown (NZ)

29. Food and Beverage AssociateBibek Karmacharya, Cambridge Hotel Sydney
Catalina Rueda, Sydney Harbour Marriott
Geraldo Suntah, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
Izumi Kawanarada, Pan Pacific Perth
Jade Hobson, Parkroyal Parramatta
Linda McComiskie, Sheraton on the Park
Matthew Carroll, Park Hyatt Sydney
Michael Nicholls, The Langham, Sydney
Robin Khurana, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
Tal Thorne, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
Tom Woods, InterContinental Sydney

30. Human Resources Associate Amber Margrain, Pullman Auckland
Corinna Saffhill, Sydney Harbour Marriott
David Hannan, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Emily Squires, Novotel Northbeach Wollongong
Gemma Hillis, Novotel Perth Langley
John Timson, Academie Accor
Jorja Salisbury, Quest Serviced Apartments
Kasey Findlay, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
Kyla Shearer, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
Marinus Snetler, Rendezvous Grand Hotel Perth
Olivia Hazledine, Novotel Melbourne on Collins

31. Sales and Marketing Associate
Abby Howard, Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide

Abigail Murphy, InterContinental Sydney
Carla Klotz, The York by Swiss-Belhotel
Craig Adamson, The Langham, Sydney
Daniel Hoffmann, Sydney Harbour Marriott
Josie Armao, Novotel Melbourne on Collins
Megan Staal, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Michael Anderson, Pullman Auckland
Michael Foster, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
Morag Ritchie, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Ryan Weissel, Quest Serviced Apartments

32. Communications Associate Cristina Magni, Hilton Auckland and Hilton Lake Taupo
Gaynor Reid, Accor Asia-Pacific
Hansni Bhagani, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
Jessica Somers-Haggie, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
Karena Noble, Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia
Kimberly Roberts, Hilton Brisbane
Lauren Kekwick, Swissotel Sydney
Sophie Baker, Hamilton Island
Stephen Howard, QT Hotels and Resorts
Virginia Chong, Pan Pacific Perth
Yvette Peverell, Mantra Group

33. Front Office Associate Alexis Hvalgaard, Mercure Perth Hotel
David Atatagi, Quest Bondi Junction
Jim Ewan and Penny Maitland, Best Western Lazy Lizard Motor Inn
John Kuharski, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
Nicole Finnsson, Ibis Melbourne Glen Waverley
Nicole Garthwaite, Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco
Prayer Ariel, Novotel Sydney Central
Sawaid Saeed, Parkroyal Parramatta
Stewart Manson, Holiday Inn Sydney Airport
Tamara Carter, Diamant Hotel Brisbane
Vanesa Montiveros, The Langham, Sydney

34. Finance AssociateAaron Tan, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
Alex Holland, Best Western Premier Hotel 115 Kew
Bee Tan, Mercure Sydney
Geoff Rossiter, Sheraton on the Park
Grant Smith, Holiday Inn Sydney Airport
Joe Ward, Sydney Harbour Marriott
Scott McLeod, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Shirley Robbins, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Walter Fernando, Novotel Melbourne on Collins

35. HousekeeperAngela Senscall, Travelodge Mirambeena Resort, Darwin
Bernadette Hobson, The Sebel Pier One Sydney
Carol Enriquez, Mantra on Kent, Sydney
Deborah Barnes, Crown Metropol Melbourne
Dewi Sriati, Ibis Perth
Emil Beshay, The Langham, Sydney
Helen Titus, Madang Star International Hotel, Papua New Guinea
Marcelina Tkalec, Parkroyal Parramatta
Marleen Gilbert, Wyndham Resort Torquay
Myra Sullivan, Rendezvous Grand Hotel Adelaide
Stephanie (Ye) Lu, Rendezvous Grand Hotel Perth

36. Hotel Engineer
Alan Bettridge, The York by Swiss-Belhotel

Andy Goonesekera, InterContinental Sydney
Anton Van Den Brink, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
Cyrus Tolentino, Sydney Harbour Marriott
Janusz Zaklikowski, The Langham, Sydney
Manuel Wong, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Matthew Worth, Four Points by Sheraton Sydney
Michael Cook, Pullman, Novotel and Ibis Sydney Olympic Park
Philip Cram, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Ralf Moritz, Peppers Beach Club, Port Douglas
Robin Power, Crowne Plaza Melbourne

37. Rising Star
Angelica Krithararis, Albany Motel, Melbourne
Bianca Tachdjian, Quest North Ryde
Caroline Larsson, Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne
Dominoe Aranyi, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
Garry Sudika, Melbourne Marriott Hotel
Jessica Marcus, Cambridge Hotel Sydney
Lucy Fitzpatrick, Park Hyatt Sydney
Nithiya Kala, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Sarah Garner, Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
Shane Bourma, Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney
Vicky Stasous, Parkroyal Parramatta

Major Awards - All countries (Australia, NZ & Sth Pacific)

38. South Pacific General Manager

Bob Speed, WorldMark by Wyndham Resort Denarau Island, Fiji

David Thomas, Madang Star International Hotel, Papua New Guinea
Frederic Lebegue, Fiji Beach Resort and Spa managed by Hilton
Gerard Knight, Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denarau Island
Marcus Niszow, Pacific Resort Hotel Group, Cook Islands
Michael Monks, Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa
Simon Harper, Novotel Suva Lami Bay, Fiji

Scott Williams, InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa
Peter Hopgood, Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji

Shane Cunning, Sheraton Fiji Resort
Thomas Tait, Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu

39. New Zealand General Manager
Andy Cunningham, Fiordland Lodge

Bruce Garrett, The George Hotel, Christchurch
Clare Davies, Grand Mercure Nelson Monaco
Felix Borenstein, Owen River Lodge
Fraser McKenzie, Novotel Rotorua Lakeside and ibis Rotorua
Mark Rose, The Rees Hotel, Queenstown (NZ)
Richard Rooney, Wharekauhau Country Estate
Rob McIntyre, Pullman Auckland
Roger Brantsma, Hilton Auckland and Hilton Lake Taupo
Simon Tocker, Peppers Parehua
Wouter de Graaf, Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour

40. Australian General ManagerBruno Cristol, Traders Hotel Brisbane
Chris Sedgwick, Accor Hotels Queensland and Northern Territory

Christopher Northam, Peppers Beach Club & Spa, Palm Cove
Daniel Allia, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Melbourne
Joost Heymeijer, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Michael Sheridan, The Sebel Pier One and Harbour Rocks Hotel, Sydney
Richard Meulet, Establishment Hotel, Sydney
Russell Durnell, Palazzo Versace, Gold Coast
Scott Horn, Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld
Sonia Lefevre, The Langham, Sydney
Vincent Hoogewijs, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

41. Environmental Program
Crowne Plaza Melbourne
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
Emporium Hotel Brisbane
Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Darling Harbour
InterContinental Sydney
Novotel Auckland Airport
QStation, Manly
Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Sydney Harbour Marriott, Circular Quay
The Langham, Sydney

Major Awards (Judges Only)

42. Hotel Brand

-To be revealed at the HM Awards on September 6, 2013

43. Accommodation Chain-To be revealed at the HM Awards on September 6, 2013

44. Hotel of the Year-To be revealed at the HM Awards on September 6, 2013

45. HM Magazine Australasian Hotelier of the Year-To be revealed at the HM Awards on September 6, 2013

46. HM Magazine Asia-Pacific Hotelier of the Year-To be revealed at the HM Awards on September 6, 2013

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places