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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chatrium Hotels & Residences wins 2013 Agoda’s Gold Circle Award

Chatrium Hotels and Residences, a collection of luxury 5-star hotels and residences in Thailand and Yangon, has been presented the 2013 Gold Circle Award from Asia’s leading hotel booking site,

This prestigious award honors all four properties under the Chatrium brand – Chatrium Hotel Riverside Bangkok, Emporium Suites by Chatrium, Chatrium Residence Sathon and Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon.  These now join the exclusive list of the very few hotels in Thailand to have won such recognition.


Pictured receiving the award from Mr. Oliver Libutzki , Senior Regional Director – Hotels South Asia & South-East Asia , is Ms. Savitri Ramyarupa, Managing Director of Chatrium Hotels and Residences, while looking on are Mr. Mario Beyer (left), General Manager of Emporium Suites by Chatrium, Mr. Magne Hansen (second right), and Mr. Thomas Grosjean (right), respectively General Manager and Resident Manager of Chatrium Residence Sathon Bangkok.

That Chatrium Hotels and Residences received the esteemed 2013 Gold Circle Award in Bangkok, Thailand, the most competitive hotel market in the region, is an indication of the brand’s exceptional hotel services and its consistent delivery of its promise to offer guests a remarkable experience.

At the presentation ceremony, Ms. Savitri Ramyarupa, Managing Director of Chatrium Hotels and Residences, said “It is my pleasure to receive this prestigious award on behalf of our Chatrium team. Our online hotel reservation system has grown rapidly in the past few years and we have worked diligently to ensure our process for online booking is prompt, accurate and competitively price. We would not have achieved this without our dedication to ensuring every experience is personalized and remarkable. 

Delivering superb services maintains satisfaction and ensures our valued guests stay with us again.”
The Agoda Gold Circle Award honors industry-leading hotels that exhibit outstanding performance and meet or exceed the criteria of the online booking market. Launched by in 2009, the award is presented to hotel partners based on specific criteria and requirements, including number of positive reviews, consistent competitive pricing and utilization of’s custom-built Yield Control System.  All of these criteria ensure that the chosen hotel is deserving of the award and has an excellent performance record.

Live the remarkable at Chatrium properties in Bangkok and Yangon.

Vida Vacations' Grand Luxxe Opens New Spa Towers in Nuevo Vallarta and Riviera Maya

3vmzVida Vacations announces the opening of its new Spa Towers at Grand Luxxe resort in Nuevo Vallarta and Riviera Maya.

Each lavishly appointed room in the Spa Towers features a private outdoor plunge pool to calm the senses and rejuvenate the body and richly decorated living spaces featuring calming palates of blues, grays and whites. Accommodations include a two bedroom, 2570 square foot suite and a three bedroom, 3180 square foot suite.

Guest rooms also feature a dedicated concierge and private massage cabin. For those wishing for a more traditional spa setting, the Spa Towers features access to Vida Vacation's award winning Spatium at Nuevo Vallarta, innovators of tequila infused massages and skin treatments.

Surrounded by lush jungles and situated on the water's edge, Grand Luxxe Spa Tower allows for the perfect tropical getaway.

"This is our must luxurious addition yet," says Eric Dubaele, Director of Hotel Operations. "We created the Spa Towers to be the epitome of rest and relaxation. Guests will experience a vacation that they will never forget."

Grand Luxxe, the crown jewel of the Vida Vacations resorts, creates unparalleled luxury for each and every guest. With locations in Nuevo Vallarta and Riviera Maya, each resort features private chefs, butlers and beaches. For those traveling with families, Grand Luxxe offers kid friendly activities, from arts and crafts and floating down the lazy river, to babysitting services for a parent's night out. Active guests can enjoy the Nicklaus designed Nayar and El Manglar golf courses, tennis clinics or snorkeling with sea turtles.

Learn more about Grand Luxxe at

Australia Day Worth the Trip to Brisbane

ON January 25 The Queensland Theatre Company will open the bang-up-to-the-moment barbecue-stopper of a comedy, Australia DayTo mark this season-openeer, the award-winning Emporium Hotel has announced a special extension of their Summer Celebration package, now exclusively bookable for the season of QTC's Australia Day. EMPORIUM Hotel can also access tickets to Australia Day for guests.

Brisbane's multi award winning Emporium Hotel's (current holder of the Best Luxury Accommodation title at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards 2013) Summer Celebration 2013/2014 accommodation package featured an overnight stay in a luxury King Suite, valet parking (usually $35 per night) and late check out to 12 noon. This summer experience is priced from $229 per night and valid for stays from 20 December 2013 to 16 February 2014*.  The extension is exclusively for Australia Day ticket holders. *Conditions apply. Subject to availability.

With Australia Day, starring well known TV actor Paul Bishop (cast quite comfortably in the role of the Mayor - when he's offstage, he is a Redlands City Councillor on Brisbane's bayside) together with leading actors Chris Betts, Louise Brehmer, Barbara Lowing, Bryan Probets fresh from the acclaimed Design for Living and Lap Phan under the directorial leadership of super talented theatre star Andrea Moor, Australia Day is expected to attract visitors to Brisbane from all over the country. It's thought-provoking yet wickedly funny exploration of authenticity and idealism in the melting pot of modern Australia is an experience worth traveling for!

And it's a great opportunity to explore Brisbane - the city in the spotlight for the G20 meeting in November 2014.  

Emporium Hotel - 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley, Qld 4006 (07) 3253 6999

AUSTRALIA DAY by Jonathan Biggins: 25 January - 16 February at Playhouse QPAC
Tickets on sale via or 1800 355 528

Monday, December 30, 2013

SpaHub Shares 7 Reasons Why People Should Treat Themselves to a Spa Day

Many people overwhelm their schedules with responsibilities and obligations, leaving minimal time to take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, cutting-out time for self-care can take a significant toll on one’s overall health and well-being. SpaHub shares its 7 reasons why it is important for people to take the time to pamper themselves, free of guilt.

Here are SpaHub’s top 7 reasons why everyone should treat themselves to a day at the spa:

1)    Improve Skin Care
Consistent visits to the spa can do wonders for the skin over time. Skin care treatments such as facials, micro-dermabrasion, and chemical peels keep skin looking young and radiant by exfoliating off dead skin cells, revealing a smoother, brighter complexion. Many of the treatments can also battle off acne, hyperpigmentation, and blemishes.

2)    Relieve Stress
In a fast-paced world faced with the pressure to do it all, it’s no wonder why Americans experience such high rates of stress and anxiety. While a little stress is perfectly normal, it’s important for people to set aside some time to take care of themself to prevent anxiety overload, which could lead to irritability, muscle soreness and tension, headaches, and social withdrawal. Day spas create the perfect environment for people to slow down, take a deep breath, and unwind.

3)    Anti-Aging Benefits
Keeping one’s stress level in check and maintaining a proper skin care regimen can help to reduce the onset of wrinkles down the road. From Botox to chemical peels, SpaHub suggests that receiving an integrated regimen of spa treatments can have significant anti-aging benefits, including exfoliating dead skin cells, buffing off fine lines, and boosting collagen levels in the skin. Taking measures to keep skin healthy and stress minimized will help to prevent premature signs of aging.

4)    Boosts Endorphins
A day at the spa can keep happiness from waning, as many of the treatments naturally boost levels of “feel-good neurotransmitters” in the body that signal pleasure and well-being, including serotonin, dopamine and beta-endorphins. The release of these chemicals in the body promote overall mental, emotional, and physical health, that is likely to have a positive impact on one’s social relationships and other facets of life.

5)    Take Care of Your Muscles and Joints
Massage can be a very important spa treatment for reducing built-up tension in muscles and joints. Many people have jobs that involve hunching over a desk all day or running around from place to place. Massage can help people ease the discomfort felt from stiff, sore muscles, while ignoring the pain can significantly diminish overall enjoyment of regular activities. SpaHub recommends getting regular massages to keep aches and pains to a minimum.

6)    Healthier Immune System
Spa treatments help to boost a body’s immune system by ridding it of toxins and impurities. Many of the treatments use oils, massage, steam, and/or exfoliating scrubs for detoxification, strengthening the immune system and in-turn, helping the body to fight off germs that cause illness and disease.

7)    Rejuvenate
Sometimes gaining a fresh perspective can make all the difference in improving overall mood and well-being, but doing so is often easier said than done. A day at the spa helps re-energize one’s body and mind, awarding oneself with a renewed sense of purpose and focus to overcome life’s challenges and reach new goals.

SpaHub advises people not to think of a spa day as a frivolous luxury, but rather to view the time spent as an important regimen of self-care that promotes overall health, happiness, and well-being. Setting aside time for rest and relaxation is an important aspect of finding fulfillment and balance in life. Spas provide the perfect environment to disconnect from the noise and chaos of the outside world for people to find tranquility and time for reflection.

With’s expansive online spa directory covering the U.S. and Canada, visitors can find the right spa resort or treatment to meet their needs.

Woodford Ready for its Best Festival Yet

The tents are up, the forecast is spectacular, the site is abuzz with hundreds of volunteers and Woodford is preparing for what is expected to be a huge 2013/14 festival. 

The only thing missing is the thousands of patrons who will stream through the gates in less than a week, and over 2000 artists and presenters who will take the stage at one of the 28 venues. 

With 28 years of impressive history under its belt, Woodford Folk Festival organizers still challenge themselves to keep changing and keep improving.
“We know that if we aren’t masters of change, we will be the victim of it.  If something was right last year, good chance it will be wrong this year.  2013 has been a year to really push the envelope with fresh projects and new ideas”, said Festival Director, Bill Hauritz.

Spectacular Bamboo Tunnel
A spectacular new feature on site is a specially commissioned tunnel entrance to the Amphitheatre, perfectly crafted from bamboo and local materials by Taiwanese master sculptor, Wang Wen-Chih. Many of the performances will take place in the Amphitheatre against the backdrop of this spectacular installation, designed to create a place of peaceful reflection, blending into the Woodfordia landscape.

In a joint project with Cave Urban, and architect, Nici Long, Wang Wen-Chih has been building with a team of 30 people for the last two weeks to create a 100 metre bamboo tunnel and tower in the final stages of the walk into the festival’s largest venue.

The world renowned artist and his team are building the entire structure out of bamboo poles that have been split into four pieces by a device Wen-Chih himself created.

Organisers hope the installation, entitled “Woven Sky” will stand for three years and become a symbol of inspired transition.

New watering holes for the festival
Another major project on-site has been the development of bar spaces which will come to life this year with exquisite themes and décor.  The new home of cider, The Orchard Bar, has been designed and constructed by Steve Argo, to resemble a giant apple crate, opened up with a farmer’s market beer garden. 

New sponsors, Cooper’s will be constructing an Australian backyard beer garden in the new Cooper’s Bar, and a giant barn will form the home of the new Brewed & Crafted Bar, home to some curious flavours.
The eclectic Bill’s Bar will not disappoint and the newly inspired Bohemia Bar is expected to be another thirst quenching pit-stop with its flamboyant vaudeville nightclub vibe.

For more information on the festival ticket pricing and camping options please visit

Top 5 Things to Bring – By Festival Director Bill Hauritz
For the un-initiated Woodfordians getting the packing list right is half the battle, but being well prepared will mean a smooth and happy festival.
  • THINGS TO STAY COOL:  With fun sunny days on the weather line-up, it’s promising to be beautiful one day and a little warm the next.  Don’t forget your hat, sunglasses, a water bottle and sunscreen.  May we suggest a fan, water spray bottle, parasol, or sarong for the shoulders (doubling as a picnic mat and late night scarf) to breeze through the festival, cool as a cucumber. 
  • THINGS TO STAY WARM:  Balmy days do not always lead to balmy nights.  The mercury has been known to dip, and if a quick storm blows 477523over to settle the dust, don’t be caught out cold and wet.  Not a bad idea to throw in a poncho, a cardigan and your loudest pair of gumboots, just to be on the safe side. 
  • A SENSE OF ADVENTURE:  Our arms and gates are wide open to every Woodfordian, from all walks of life.  The diversity that wanders our streets is truly astonishing.  So whoever you are, and wherever you come from, make a new friend and try something new… a craft workshop, belly dance, join a singing lesson, juggle, play ‘The Game’, fight for Slam Poet domination, stay up for the Dawn Ceremony on January 1, make a lantern, meet a monster, or debunk those mystery bus myths.  Be whatever you want to be.  We’re gonna love you anyway. 
  • THE WOODFORDIAN ATTITUDE:  Woodfordia is an amazing community of people working together to create, have a blast and make connections. And at the end of it all… we want you to head back to reality happier, healthier and braced for an amazing new year.  We’d love all Woodfordians to share, respect, recycle, participate and go home full of magical stories and treasured memories. 
  • A GOOD FESTIVAL HOME:  If you’re planning to camp on-site make sure you’ve got what you need to be safe, comfortable and dry.  There are only so many couches to crash on at the Pineapple Lounge, and it will make your stay all the more pleasant if you’re prepared.  We’re not talking about the kitchen sink… but a decent tent, a few changes of clothes, and a soft spot to catch your breath and your ZZZZs.  Dancing like crazy is more taxing than you think. 
Notes on arrival
A lot of cars are expected to queue before the festival gates officially open for season campers at 2pm on Christmas Day.  Festival Organisers are asking patrons not to block the roadways and to stay cool, calm and hydrated.

Don’t forget, for day trippers there’s always the Woodford Express Bus Service direct from Nambour, Maroochydore or Caloundra. For further information and tickets, please visit:

Festival Director, Bill Hauritz says: “The most important thing is that the patrons have safe and happy journeys to the festival.  The roads will be busy but we’re not going anywhere.  Take your time.”

For the Woodford Express logo and general festival and artist images please go to  

Opening of Space Shuttle AtlantisSM at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex a Highlight of 2013 Year in Tourism Industry

The June 29 opening of the $100 million Space Shuttle AtlantisSM attraction at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex was a 2013 tourism industry highlight, garnering international media attention and praise from visitors who came to Central Florida to see the iconic spacecraft in its new home.

The new attraction was the most significant addition to the Visitor Complex since Shuttle Launch Experience in 2007, bolstering attendance to the unique destination where guests can explore like they’re at a museum, learn like they’re at a science center, and have fun like they’re at a theme park.

gI_91869_Space Shuttle Atlantis
Atlantis immediately became the marquee element of the Visitor Complex, providing guests with another “bucket list” must-see along with the authentic, never-launched Saturn V moon rocket on display at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. The year also saw the Visitor Complex open the Angry Birds™ Space Encounter in March.

Space Shuttle Atlantis was developed by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, operators of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for NASA since 1995, as well as St. Louis-based PGAV Destinations, in partnership with NASA.

The 90,000-square-foot attraction features the historic Atlantis spacecraft as only astronauts have seen it before – rotated 43.21 degrees with payload bay doors open and its Canadarm (robotic arm) extended, as if it has just undocked from the International Space Station (ISS).

The immersive experience invites guests to “be the astronaut” with never-before-seen, technologically sophisticated multimedia presentations and more than 60 interactive, touch-screen experiences and high-tech simulators that bring to life the people, passion and patriotism of the 30-year Space Shuttle Program, as well as the complexity and magnitude of the engineering marvel that launched like a rocket, flew in orbit like a spacecraft and landed on a runway like a glider.

Atlantis was developed with top-of-the-line audio/visual and show systems, theme park technology seen in Orlando’s newest and most popular attractions, seldom-seen NASA images and footage, and reality-based astronaut training simulations that combine to create a first-of-its-kind attraction.

Space Shuttle Atlantis also highlights the astounding achievements made possible by the shuttle, most notably, the building of the ISS and the deployment and maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Among the rave reviews Space Shuttle Atlantis has garnered from the media:

“There is a moment in the new Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex when a fantasy becomes reality and the experience is nothing short of magical.”
Rob Pearlman,

“Instead of simply putting the orbiter on display, KSC and its partners have created a dramatic reveal, a chest-swelling moment that might lose its impact if you knew what was going to happen.”
Miami Herald reporter Marjie Lambert

“At Kennedy Space Center today, the belle of NASA’s retirement ball made its much-anticipated debut. Atlantis, the last space shuttle to soar, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit that commemorates the entire 30-year history of the shuttle program.”

NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt
“The shuttle inside is the real deal…but only a handful of astronauts have seen Atlantis like this before, as though it is in orbit, so close you can almost reach out and touch it.”

NPR reporter Matthew Peddie
“This is fantastic on so many levels, but the signature item? It’s Atlantis, with the payload doors open. Just an absolutely wild thing to see.”

CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) Correspondent David Common

Guests have extolled Space Shuttle Atlantis’ merits on TripAdvisor:
“It was, however, the newest exhibit which was perhaps the most amazing – the Space Shuttle Atlantis was brilliant and almost worth the admission price on its own. The Imax presentation of the shuttle work on the Hubble telescope was also fascinating. If you are in this area of Florida this is not to be missed.”

“This was our fourth visit to Kennedy Space Center, and we were concerned we would see the same exhibits again. Nope, Kennedy Space Center's visitor complex was updated and awesome. The Space Shuttle Atlantis is housed in the renovated Shuttle Launch Experience building. To see an actual space orbiter in person is a ‘goose bump’ experience. There are a lot of simulation stations keeping the young and young at heart busy. There is lots to see and do here. … Back at the Visitor Complex there's a new Angry Birds interactive exhibit that's great for kids of all ages. Kennedy does a great job of making learning fun!”

“The new Atlantis exhibit had only opened just over a week before out visit, and I had no idea what to expect. However, it was truly breathtaking and is not to be missed. … In my naivety I had no idea that the Kennedy Visitor Centre was so big and there was no way you could see everything in the one day. … This trip was one of the highlights of our Florida holiday and makes a change from the theme parks.”

Space Shuttle Atlantis also is generating praise from meeting planners who have hosted events underneath the historic spacecraft. The United Way of Brevard County recently launched its 2013 giving campaign underneath Atlantis with more than 300 people in attendance.

“If you want your guests to remember that it was your organization that gave them this spectacular experience, do whatever you can to get your guests under that shuttle. I promise that they will be grateful,” said Rob Rains, United Way of Brevard president.

The 40-member Boeing Space Exploration/Network and Space Systems Leadership team also recently enjoyed an evening at Atlantis.

“The Atlantis exhibit made an outstanding venue for hosting our event,” said LaDonna Neterer, Boeing customer relationship specialist. “This venue is wonderful for hosting large, high-visibility meetings. We all very much enjoyed it and were thrilled to see Atlantis in her new home.”

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Bangkok Siam Paragon world's most Instagrammed place in 2013


The popular Bangkok luxury shopping mall, Siam Paragon, has emerged as the world’s most Instagrammed location of 2013. This is the second year in a row that a Thai location has topped the list. In 2012, the chart-topper was Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Siam Paragon was Number Two on the list in 2012, and has risen to Number One in 2013. Although Suvarnabhumi Airport has dropped to Number Nine in this year’s list, Thailand is still the only country outside the United States with two locations on the list.

The most Instagrammed locations of 2013

1. Siam Paragon, Bangkok
2. Times Square, New York
3. Disneyland, Anaheim, California
4. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas
5. Disney World Florida
6. Staples Centre, Los Angeles
7. Central Park, New York
8. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
9. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK), Bangkok
10. The High Line, New York

As Instagram is hugely popular with global tourists, both Siam Paragon and Suvarnabhumi Airport have provided visitors with extensive opportunities for attractive photographic backdrops featuring a range of cultural, floral and architectural icons of Thailand.

Both have taken advantage of their locations as major transportation hubs and the global technological revolution to generate millions of dollars worth of free publicity for Thai travel and tourism.

Siam Paragon is located at the primary interchange station of Bangkok’s popular mass transit system, the Skytrain, used by thousands of city visitors every day. Built at a cost of US$450 million, it is one of the biggest shopping centres in Asia.

Opened in December 2005, it includes a wide range of specialty stores and restaurants as well as a multiplex movie theatre, the largest aquarium in South East Asia, an exhibition hall, a Thai art gallery, an opera concert hall, a large bowling alley and karaoke centre. These provide perfect venues for a ceaseless range of activities from fashion and flower shows to trade events and film festivals.

Suvarnabhumi is Thailand’s primary aviation hub, recording more than 23 million embarking passengers and 1.3 million transit passengers in 2012. Its departure halls are dominated by photo-friendly icons of Thai culture and heritage; such as, the famous King of the Nagas, the mythical giant guardians of Thai temples and replicas of stupas which house relics of the Buddha.

Millions of tourists who visit Thailand, especially first-timers from China and India, are seen taking photographs of themselves along with their travelling companions in front of these colourful and iconic images.

Overall, the Instagram popularity of these two locations saw Bangkok hit Number Two on the chart of the world’s most Instagrammed cities, behind New York City. This was largely due to the popularity of New York’s primary tourist spot, Times Square.

The list of 10 most Instagrammed Cities:

1. New York
2. Bangkok
3. Los Angeles
4. London
5. São Paulo
6. Moscow
7. Rio de Janeiro
8. San Diego, California
9. Las Vegas
10. San Francisco

Commenting on the results, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Thawatchai Arunyik said, “This is an example of how technological opportunities can be merged with our well-known Thai heritage and culture to generate positive publicity of infinite value. Thai people are known for being creative and artistic. We are glad to see these characteristics producing such wonderful results for promoting the country.”

Gulf Air Picks Up Award for “Best Online Application for Business and Commerce” at MEET ICT Conference

Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, has scooped a MEET ICT Excellence award for the
‘Best Online Application for Business and Commerce.’

The awards, part of the MEET ICT Conference and BITEX (Bahrain Information Technology Exhibition) held recently in Bahrain, recognized companies for having the best ICT products and services in the Kingdom.

Picking up the airline’s sixth IT award this year from H.E Kamal Bin Ahmed Mohammed, the Minister of Transportation, Gulf Air’s Director of Information Technology, Dr. Jassim Haji commented, “We are delighted to be recognized by the MEET ICT Excellence award panel for having the best online application for business and commerce in Bahrain. Over the past year, we have been working hard to develop and implement IT solutions and applications that boost our passengers’ convince whilst at the same time support the airline’s restructuring goal – long-term commercial sustainability. We have made some notable progress in this regard, specifically through the development of applications that harness the benefits of Cloud Computing and Big Data and to be recognized for these achievements is appreciated.”

The MEET ICT Excellence awards were launched this year with nine award categories including, ITC Excellence in Business and Commerce, Arabic Content, Education and HealthCare and eGoverment. An international panel of industry experts presided over the judging.

Phuket Electronic Music and Dance Festival 2013/Karon Beach Countdown 2014 - by TAT

Following the trend of electronic music festivals around the world, the Creative Electronic Music and Dance Festival began last year by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in collaboration with Elite Entertainment and Karon Municipality.

Phuket Electronic Music and Dance festival 2013 on Karon Beach in conjunction with Karon Beach New Year Countdown 2014 is another exciting event to attend to celebrate New Year 2014 with concept of Winter Wonderland.

gI_153918_POSTER phuket winter wonderland countdown 2014_10dec13_Edit10
This is an effort by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to rebuild tourists’ confidence and image of Thai tourism through music. Music is the universal language that bridges culture, linguistics and religions. This event is strongly promoted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in its massive online network.

The two-day festival will showcase an exciting line up of more than 20 International Domination, winner of the Best Video DJ of the World contest in Dubai 2012, also Pay and White who’s currently the top 10 world chart of Crystal Palace.

This year’s concept is winter wonderland; therefore party gore will get a chance to ride ferris wheel and get wild in foam party with pretty dancers. This event is not to be missed for sure.

Entrance to the event is totally free.

Fashion TV, the world’s number One fashion and life style channel, it has invited more than 50 international fashion models to join the countdown on stage. Highlights of the event will be aired on Fashion TV to MORE than 500 million views around the world.

Artphoria 2013: Art is Now Exciting with 3D Anamorphic Street Paintings

Celebrating and exposing the magnificent world of art, the Artphoria 2013 is currently taking place at the Ciputra Artpreneur Center, Ciputra World 1Jakarta from 14th December 2013 to 26th January 2014.

Scheduled to be held for 44 days, over the New Year holidays,  this one of a kind exhibition is a form of appreciation towards art, creativity, interaction and inspirations.

The event features no less than 29 Indonesian creative communities who showcase various artworks, including:Komunitas Lubang Jarum Indonesia (Pinhole Photography), Komunitas Peri, Komunitas Atap Alis Indonesia, BarudakUrban Light Bandung (Lightings Art Photography), Pena Hitam Arts, Kelas Pagi, Masyarakat Komik Indonesia (Comic Community), Invalid Urban, Costume Play Communities, and more.
As main feature, Artphoria 2013 presents masterpieces of Kurt Wenner, an international artist who is renowned for the art of 3D pavement or Anamorphic Street Painting. Kurt Wenner is here   accompanied by 5 Indonesian distinguished artists, namely : Hendra Harsono, Rotua Magdalena, Diela Maharani, Zaky Arifin, and Nady Azhry who also display their exceptional artworks. With these fascinating works, visitors are presented with modern optical illusions which manipulate human sights through a series of paintings on a flat object that combines perspectives, colors, and certain special lighting techniques.

The 3 dimensional paintings are not merely visual presentations but are also a media for interaction. Visitors are encouraged to blend in and be part of the artworks. The event organizers advise viewers to take pictures with the artworks. There will also be a “Fun with Artphoria” Photo Contest with the prize of Smartphones, where the photographs are judged by celebrities.

Aside from the Anamorphic Street paintings, the event is also highlighted with a variety of performances and workshops. Among some of the performers are:  the Jakarta Broadway Team, Bojafoo Percussion, Taman Suropati Chamber, The Rombenkz, Mime Couztic, Jakarta Beatbox Clan, and more.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Don't Look Down!

A woman and a child stand in the "Step into the Void" glass skywalk overlooking the French Alps on top of a 3842-meter peak in Chamonix on December 23, 2013. The installation, which opened to the public after three years of development, is made of three layers of glass and can withstand winds of up to 200kmph. Credit: JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom

Make ‘Hello 2014’ with Emirates your New Year’s Resolution

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Emirates Airline customers who have made a New Year's resolution to see more of the world can now say Hello to 2014 with some very attractive fares in both Business and Economy Class.

Return economy fares from Australia begin at $1,499 to Europe, $1,678 to Dubai, $1,676 to Africa and $1,073 to India. All inclusive Business Class fares from Australia start at $7,271 to Europe, $6,957 to Dubai, $5,326 to Africa and $5,008 to India.

Together with Qantas, Emirates offers 98 flights a week to its home and hub of Dubai, including six daily A380 services. With a network of more than 75 countries available via just one stop in Dubai, the vibrant city is the ultimate stopover point and a compelling holiday destination in its own right.

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"What better way to begin 2014 by travelling to a destination that you have never been to, or making that much promised visit to a friend or family member," said Thierry Antinori, Emirates' Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.

"We've combined our excellent flight connections offered by our global network with great special fares and by doing so we hope to help our customers fulfil their travel aspirations in 2014."

Bookings to all destinations across Emirates' network on six continents should be made before 14 January 2014, for travel between 1 February and 31 May 2014.

A total of eight new destinations have been added to the Emirates network since the beginning of 2013, including Stockholm, Tokyo Haneda and Clark in the Philippines; with Taipei, Kiev and Boston to join the network in early 2014.

It is not only the destinations that are increasing, Emirates also continues to add the latest aircraft to its fleet which now stands at 210 in including 41 Airbus A380s flying to 24 destinations.

For more information on Emirates, including how to book flights and a complete list of terms and conditions, contact your travel agent or visit

*Terms and conditions apply

*Terms and Conditions for the offer:

•             Valid for sales and ticketing from now until 14 January 2014
•             Airfares shown above for travel 1st February until 31st March, 2014. Higher fares apply for other travel dates.
•             Blackout travel dates apply for Economy and Business Class departures
•             Fees for changes and cancellations apply
•             Seats and Class are subject to availability at time of booking

*The inclusive taxes and surcharges quoted are correct at 5 December 2013. These may vary slightly over the travel period.

TripAdvisor Truth in Travel - "If it's in the hotel room, it's a souvenir right?"




TripAdvisor survey reveals that 2 in 3 travellers take items from hotel rooms – from toiletries and tea, to batteries from the TV remote control


Sydney, Australia – 10 December 2013 – Two-thirds (65%) of global travellers and over three-quarters (77%) of Aussies admit to taking something from a hotel following their stay, with toiletries being the most popular pilfered items. Three in five (59%) global hoteliers and 61% of Australian hotel owners report that their guests often take a variety of items when they leave.  The TripBarometer¹ Truth in Travel survey reveals several discrepancies between what travellers say they take, compared to what hoteliers report missing from hotel rooms once guests depart.


"Shampoo is one thing, but please stop taking the towels!"


Guests are more likely to admit taking items that are customarily thought of as complimentary such as toiletries or stationery. However it seems some travellers feel that the towels, light bulbs and batteries they find in their rooms are free for the taking as well.

Despite only 7% of global travellers saying they have taken towels from hotel rooms, an alarming 1 in 4 hoteliers report towels going missing following a guest's stay.


Some travellers have peculiar ideas about what makes a good travel memento – 1 in 10 hoteliers report clothes hangers going missing and 7% have found the batteries removed from TV remote controls after guests check out.


Items travellers admit taking from hotels vs. what hotels report having been taken:


"If it's free, it's for me"


When it comes to the key motivators for choosing an accommodation, travellers around the world love a freebie. Over the past year, traveller interest in complimentary amenities has gone up, reinforcing the idea that one of the best ways for hoteliers to entice guests is to offer free services as part of the daily rate.


What amenities global travellers expect from their accommodation in 2013 vs. 2014:



"Culture vulture" or "creature comforts"?

The TripBarometer also revealed a few more minor discrepancies between what travellers say, and their actions while on holiday. According to the survey, global travellers would like to experience things that are unique to a destination or culture, with 38% saying they want to explore another culture, 20% wanting to explore new food and 30% looking to experience something specific to the destination. However, when it comes to choosing a place to stay, travellers want their accommodation to offer amenities that make them feel at home, such as 'TV or film choices in their own language' (31%) and 'food from their own country' (27%).


Aussies are far less fussy about food from their own country with only 17% stating they would expect their hotel to offer this as an option. They do seem more genuinely enthusiastic about the local culture than the global average however, with 40% stating this as their primary reason for visiting a new destination followed by the desire to try new food (23%).


And hotels are answering the call! As a result of increasing numbers of guests from various destinations around the world, hoteliers have already, or are planning to, put in place a number of measures to address the needs of international visitors. Fifty four percent of global hotel respondents provide, or plan to provide TV or film selections in foreign languages and 51% include, or plan to include international food choices on their menus.


 *Source: comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor Sites, worldwide, June 2013

 **Source: Google Analytics, worldwide data, July 2013



Monday, December 23, 2013

Double delivery takes Emirates A380 fleet to 44

Emirates has received delivery of its 43rd and 44th A380 aircraft with a double delivery from Airbus’ Finkenwerder facility in Hamburg, Germany.

“Our customers love the A380 - from the quieter cabins and spacious layout on the main deck, to the on-board lounge and shower spas in our premium cabins. It is a beautiful aircraft which we have packed full of the best inflight comforts and products. From an operator standpoint, the A380 is still one of the most fuel efficient aircraft per seat. It offers us some flexibility in range and also helps us to meet demand at slot-constrained airports,” said Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline.

“Continuous improvements are being made to the A380, by the manufacturer as well as by Emirates in terms of our on-board product. For instance our latest A380s have been fitted with even bigger high definition LCD TV screens to enhance the inflight entertainment experience. We’ve also introduced new touch-screen tablets that allow passengers to control all their seat functions and movie selections with just one swipe. Small details, but all these add up to provide a great flying experience,” he added.

The 43rd and 44th Emirates A380s offer 14 seats in First Class, 76 seats in Business Class and 427 seats in Economy Class, and will be put into service starting 21 December, initially operating on flights to Mauritius and Munich.

Click here to take a virtual tour on-board Emirates’ A380 with Google Street View.

Emirates operates the world’s largest fleet of A380s, flying one in three of these modern jets in the skies today. Emirates was the first airline to order the aircraft back in 2000, and it ordered another 50 more at the Dubai Air Show in November.  In 2013, Emirates received 13 A380 aircraft and it expects to receive another 13 in 2014. The airline still has 96 more A380s worth USD 43 billion on order, of which 71 are expected to be delivered over the next five years, before the end of 2018.

From its Dubai hub and dedicated A380 terminal, Emirates’ A380s crisscross the globe flying to 24 destinations spanning Los Angeles to Auckland. Illustrating the range of the A380, Emirates’ currently operates the world’s longest non-stop A380 service (13,414 kilometers), with its daily A380 flight between Dubai and Los Angeles, launched earlier this month.  Emirates’ shortest A380 flight is between Bangkok and Hong Kong, clocking 1,900 kilometers.

Emirates’ current A380 destinations are:  Amsterdam, Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jeddah, Kuala Lumpur, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Manchester, Mauritius, Melbourne, Moscow, Munich, New York JFK, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney, Toronto, and Brisbane. 

Emirates will start operating scheduled A380 services to Zurich from January 2014.

State-of-the-art personal audio translaters for Dart River Jet products

Queenstown’s Dart River Jet is in ‘Kruse’-mode thanks to the addition of personal audio translaters to its Wilderness Jet trips deep into the heart of world-renowned Mt Aspiring National Park.

Known for delivering a quarter of a century of pioneering wilderness adventure on one of New Zealand’s most distinctive waterways, Dart River Jet has introduced the Kruse translation units to help those for whom English is not a strong first language.

SONY DSCThe first units installed for Wilderness Jet trips offer information in Mandarin, Japanese and Spanish.

A small lanyard worn around the neck carries the audio unit which is triggered at key points throughout the trip and delivers essential background information via small, comfortable headphones.

“Travelling up the Dart River and walking among ancient beech forest is a journey with a large element of discovery covering flora, geology, history, contemporary stories and movie sites,” said Dart River Jet General Manager Clark Scott.

Dart River Jet guests enjoy jet boating in the World Heritage area of Mt Aspiring National Park_media“For someone whose first language isn’t English, understanding the commentary can be challenging if not impossible.

“We’re very excited to offer this service as we’re seeing growing diversification and consistent growth in the independent traveller market from these countries and others.

“They’re not travelling with a tour leader or translater so the information is designed to ‘fill in the gaps’ with interesting and essential background knowledge that enhances rather than takes over from our hugely knowledgeable guides.

“When people really understand the significance of what they’re looking at or what they’re being told, obviously that makes a huge difference to their enjoyment of the trip and that’s what we aim to achieve.”
The Krust translation units carry over 30 pieces of interpretation on the Backroad and Forest tours alone, a key area the commentary is delivering on. Dart River Jet plans to add German, French and Korean translation units in the New Year.

Mr Scott said feedback so far from customer trials on the units had been “fantastic”.

Japanese passenger Nina Doko recently did the Dart Wilderness Jet Tour with her partner Takehisa Ueda.
“The Kruse system was really impressive, giving us a lot of information with perfect timing and without any noise,” she said.

“We’ve never experienced such a clear, high-quality and comprehensive audio guiding system; it was perfect.

“I’d highly recommend it for anyone from Japan or any of the other countries with commentary in their own language.”

Melbourne Hot List 2014

A hotel boom, a retail renaissance, a blockbuster program of arts and theatre, great Aussie road-trips and World Cup Cricket at the 'G' - Melbourne continues its quiet evolution as one of the world's must-do destinations in 2014.

Here are 20 of the hottest reasons to tick Melbourne of the bucket list in the new year, and some of 2013's most popular (copyright free),instagram images.

1. Melbourne Now , is the largest and most ambitious project ever to be undertaken by The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) - showcasing to the world the full depth of Melbourne's creative credentials from November 22 to March 23, 2014.

2. Melbourne is eagerly awaiting the second White Night event. From dusk until dawn on Saturday 22 February 2014 the arts community will come together with an accessible and exciting all night long art and culture experience showcasing Melbourne as Australia's international city of artistic innovation.

3. Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition will open at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image at Federation Square next April.  It will showcase the work of the animation studio founded by Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen 20 years ago. Highlights will include Shrek, Madagascar, How To Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda.

4. Raphael, Correggio, Titian, Tintoretto, the Carracci and Tiepolo are among the names of Italian masters that will grace the walls of the National Gallery of Victoria  from 16 May 2014 until 31 August 2014 as part of the Italian Masterpieces: from Spain's Royal Court Museo del Prado Melbourne exclusive.  The exhibition will showcase more than 100 works spanning 300 years of Italian art.

5. Australia's biggest ever exhibition to focus on Indigenous Australia opened in 2013. At the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum First Peoples tells the story of Aboriginal Victoria - celebrating the diversity, continuity, strength and vitality of Koorie people over 60,000 years.

Retail renaissance
6. Luxury retail brands continue to migrate to Melbourne in 2013. Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana both opened flagship stores and shoppers are eagerly awaiting the new Emporium Melbourne. In the high street range, H&M has chosen Melbourne for its first Australian store taking over Melbourne's iconic GPO building in Bourke Street.

7. Makers Melbourne is woven into the fabric of the city and now it's easy to take a little of that home with the many design and craft markets popping up. Once or twice a year is Melbourne Design Market at Federation Square and Big Design Market at the Royal Exhibition Buildings. In summer the People's Market in Collingwood, Suzuki Night Market at Queen Victoria Market and Style After Dark at South Melbourne Market and every weekend, the Rose Street Artists Market in Fitzroy are just a few of the  names to look out for.

8. Destination shoppers to Melbourne can also flex their wallet for good; Melbourne is one of the world's leading cities for social enterprise movements. Buy a beer at Shebeen Bar and your money will go directly to development projects in that country, grab a coffee at Streat Melbourneand you will be helping young people get off the streets.

Rock around to the Docklands
9. The Australia Day Fireworks have found a new home at Melbourne's Docklands precinct for 2014, and that's not the only newcomer to the area. The Sebel Melbourne Docklands opened in October and two other hotels announced construction timelines, M Docklands by Peppers and Altus by Pan Pacific, a spate of new eateries include Vietnamese Banoi.

10. The Melbourne Star Observation Wheel also in the Docklands has announced a December 2013 opening. At 120 metres high, guests will enjoy uninterrupted 360-degree views of the city, Port Phillip Bay and as far as Mount Macedon, Arthur's Seat and the Dandenong Ranges.

Road Trip Victoria
11. Marysville, just an hour out of Melbourne, has been completely rebuilt after being devastated in the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009. The town lies at the edge of the Yarra Ranges National Park and within easy distance to Yarra Valley wine region. Walk, hike or take a drive to appreciate the majestic mountain ash trees, rainforest and waterfalls. Visit for the day or stay the night in one of the quaint B&Bs or self-catering cottages and enjoy the quality food and hospitality from the region.

12. As regular visitors to Victoria look to expand their horizons and newcomers are more independent than ever before, self-drive touring routesincluding Great Southern Touring Route, South East Touring Triangle and Sydney to Melbourne Touring are proving a popular way to see the many diverse regions around Victoria.

New hotels and quirky cafés
13. Melbourne is on a hotel high. New hotels opened in the city recently include Tune Hotel Melbourne, The Sebel Melbourne Docklands and Oaks on William. Renovations include the iconic Adelphi Hotel as well as Pullman Albert Park. The new five-star Sheraton Melbourne Hotel is due for completion in March 2014 and a new Art Series Hotel is slated for December 2014.

14. From an office staircase to a former switchboard, there is no such thing as dead space in Melbourne. Creative entrepreneurs have transformed under-utilised spaces into some of the city's hottest eating and drinking venues adding yet more layers to Melbourne's café culture. Flipboard Café, Switchboard Café and Something Tiny is squeezed under the staircase of warehouse offices are some examples.

Sea Life or shoe shining?
15. An AUD$8 million five month renovation has given Melbourne Aquarium a new lease of life. Sea Life Melbourne The all-new attraction features a multi-million dollar, state-of-art Croc Lair exhibit, which houses a spectacular five-metre, 750kg Saltwater crocodile, named Pinjarra. It also joins a global network of conservation-focused aquariums under the SEA-LIFE banner.

16. Classes, workshops, discussions and lectures are emerging in a locations such as cafés ,clothing stores, pubs and museums. From fine wine to writing, drawing to gardening, neuroscience to shoe shining - Melburnians have a noticeable thirst for knowledge and a great love of community. Wheeler Centre, Laneway Learning and Smartbar at the Melbourne Museum are a few examples.

Destination dining
17. Dan Hunter of Royal Mail Hotel fame, has opened his highly anticipated first solo project, Brae. Described as a place to "interact with nature and eat from the land," Brae is set to put the small town of Birregurra on the map. Close to the Otways region of the Great Ocean Road, the only thing that seems guaranteed about the food is that there are no guarantees.

18. Other new destination restaurants on the must-do list include Jack Rabbit Winery and neighbouring Terindah Shed in the Bellarine Peninsula, Broadgauge in the Murray River region, Gladioli in Inverleigh and Tani Eat & Drink in the High Country town of Bright.

19. Regional food events in country Victoria are on the rise as the locavore trend gathers momentum. Grape Grazing Festival returns to the gourmet Yarra Valley region in 2014 from 14 - 16 February and in the Mornington Peninsula, visitors have some new help organising their gourmet itineraries in the form of the new Wine Food Farmgate website and trail kit with map highlighting the many delicious experiences available.

Cricket at the 'G'
20. Cricket fans rejoice, the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) will host yet another monumental sporting occasion as the English cricket team take on Australia at the Boxing Day Test (26-30 December) as part of the 2013-14 Ashes test series - then looking forward to March 2015, the MCG will also host five games including the final of the International Cricket World Cup.

Sign up to Tourism Victoria's media portal for all the latest destination news, events, launches, shopping, eating and drinking in Melbourne and Victoria. Subscribe now to Pieces of Victoria for Australia, or Pieces of Victoria International.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places