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Friday, January 31, 2014

Anantara's King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament Packs its Trunk and Moves to Bangkok

unnamed (14)That’s right everyone, the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament is packing its trunk and moving to Bangkok!

Our hugely successful charity event is now entering its thirteenth year and due to the popularity of the event we are moving it from its original home of Hua Hin to the Thai capital. Many of you already know that it’s a very unique event which attracts people and teams from all over the world including New Zealand All Black rugby players, professional polo players, Thai supermodels, Miss Tiffany’s transgender performers and European royalty. Although the teams are vying for the coveted King’s Cup trophy, the ultimate aim is to raise awareness and money to better the lives of wild and domesticated elephants throughout Thailand. unnamed (15)
To date the event has raised over US$750,000 which has gone to various organisations helping elephants and this year we are hoping to raise a lot more. The event also allows us to take 50 street elephants away from their often harsh environment and provide them with a jungle like setting, proper food, vitamins and full veterinary care which they otherwise don’t normally get.
So mark the dates in your diary – August 28th to 31st – and we hope to see you in Bangkok then!
unnamed (16)

Queenstown’s first ever 3-6-12 hour bike race set to attract good numbers

4. Rider climbs smooth single track at Rabbit Ridge_mediaHeld at Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort in Gibbston Valley, Queenstown’s first ever 3-6-12 hour race is set to attract over 200 riders from around the country building on the town’s reputation as a biking mecca.

As the first of its kind in Queenstown, the race on 22 February 2014 will accommodate beginner to advanced riders filling a gap in Queenstown’s mountain bike racing.
Rabbit Ridge manager Steve Norton said the event – which would be an annual occurrence - was based loosely around the popular 12 hour relay race event in Naseby but with more accessible and achievable courses.
A rider enjoys the flow through the large flat bermed area near the hub at Rabbit Ridge
A rider enjoys the flow through the large flat bermed area near the hub at Rabbit Ridge
“The three hour race is designed for beginner and junior riders wanting to challenge their ability or take on their first relay style race,” said Mr Norton.
“The three hour race is a team only event, while the six and 12 hour courses are suitable for beginner to experienced single track riders.
“With the open flat terrain we have at our disposal the three hour course will be great for spectators and riders alike who’ll still be a part of the 6 and 12 hour race atmosphere as the transition circuits are together.
“There’ll be food and beverage tents and Gibbston Valley Winery facilities on hand creating a festival atmosphere for racers and support crews.”
Officially opened in September 2013, Rabbit Ridge is the area’s only year-round dedicated and serviced bike resort with a network of trails for all levels. In the last three months newly-built bermed trails have been added and there are now over 40km of trails to enjoy.
Competitors in the 2013 Spring Challenge navigate Rabbit Ridge trails
Competitors in the 2013 Spring Challenge navigate Rabbit Ridge trails
“The trails are in amazing condition after a winter of bedding in and plenty of moist days over spring to assist with trail building and maintenance,” said Mr Norton.
Rabbit Ridge has already held a couple of races at the resort including the cycle leg of the Woman’s Spring Challenge, with 1,000 ladies competing. The first Rabbit Ridge XC Series which features a long course for XC enthusiasts and serious racers, as well as a short course for social and beginner riders is also underway.
“Longer term we envisage this 3-6-12 event could attract over 1,800 competitors and up to 3,600 support crew due to infrastructure in place and the land available,” said Mr Norton.
Riders climb a section of Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort trail
Riders climb a section of Rabbit Ridge Bike Resort trail
“It’s shaping up to be a “must-do” on the summer racing calendar.”
Gibbston Valley Winery CEO Greg Hunt said it had been a “fantastic six months of riding” and that it was vital to the area that Rabbit Ridge developed cycling events to add to the region’s credibility and grow the cycling tourism market.
“With the area’s existing cycle networks and bike infrastructure the foundations are in place to grow the race series and help position Queenstown as a premier cycling destination,” he said.
“With a wide offering of cycle trails there are significant economic benefits to the Queenstown region.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the positive responses we’ve had about Rabbit Ridge. It certainly adds another, much needed dimension to the area’s biking offering and we’ll continue to expand and develop over the coming year.” 
For prices, information and to enter the race visit

4,000 Reasons To Love Mardi Gras In 2015

As news broke on social media on Tuesday that the mighty Tina Arena will be performing at this year’s Mardi Gras Party on Saturday 01 March, the team behind Sydney Gay and Lesbian

Mardi Gras were already looking ahead, announcing the news that 4,000 travelers will be visiting for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras 2015 festival.
Mardi Gras_LAFabulous Australian icon and upcoming contender in season six of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Courtney Act, welcomed travel agents and media at a special event at the W Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles where Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Michael Rolik and Atlantis Events CEO Rich Campbell announced the new venture.
At a time when America is coming out of one of its coldest winters in history, the news that an Atlantis Events cruise ship and Olivia cruise ship would be in sizzling Sydney around Mardi Gras time warmed the hearts of many. The exciting new initiative marks the first time in history that two gay and lesbian cruise ships have docked on our shores in Sydney and boy ‘o’ buoy this party is going to be huge!
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras CEO Michael Rolik says “An influx of 4,000 people at Mardi Gras time in 2015 is incredibly thrilling. The impact that this will have on not just the scale of our 2015 celebrations, but also the NSW economy, is huge.”
The world’s largest company dedicated to creating unique vacations for the gay and lesbian community - Atlantis - announced that tickets are on sale now. The cruise will take place over 12 days, from Auckland to Sydney for Mardi Gras, then back again. As an extra incentive for travel agents, Mardi Gras is offering commissionable tickets to their key events in 2015. Olivia - the travel company for lesbians, have already started selling their tickets
Sydney’s iconic Mardi Gras is the most colourful gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex celebration in the world attracting over 29,000 visitors each year.
Tickets to the Mardi Gras Party can be purchased at
For more information about Mardi Gras’ jam-packed calendar of summer events, head to

Australia travel headlines from Tourism Australia

Image: Tourism Australia

Sydney claims top spot

Sydney came in at number one on Forbes Travel Guide Blog’s roundup of the ‘Five Fabulous Destinations for Celebrating Chinese New Year’

Top award for Wolgan Valley

Luxury Lodges of Australia hotel, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has been named the Top Hotel in Australia by the TripAdvisor® 2014 Traveller’s Choice ® awards.

BIG4 makes a splash

BIG4 Marion Holiday Park in South Australia has launched new AUD $400,000 waterpark, with the largest waterslide activity centre in the Southern Hemisphere.

New Mantra Hotels for Queensland

Australian hotelier, Mantra Group, have announced new properties in Brisbane and Townsville with further additions to its expanding Australian network to come in 2014.

New in the Whitsundays

Palm Bay Resort has officially re-launched, offering private beach bure style accommodation for up to 30 couples.

 International Ice Hocket comes to Australia

Tickets are on sale for the International Ice Hockey 2014. The event, now in its second year, has expanded to include games in Perth and Brisbane along with Melbourne and Sydney.

New Aboriginal workshops in Sydney

First Hand Solutions have launched new Aboriginal workshops and markets in Sydney, including Catch and Cook Cultural Tours, Traditional Basket Weaving Workshops, and weekly Sunday Markets starting Sunday 2 March.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Haunted mansion tours in February and New contest to uncover the scariest ghost story

The historic Macarthur region -home to one of Australia’s most famous ghosts, Fred Fisher – will host Gledswood House ghostsweekly ghost tours of the haunted Gledswood Homestead in February while ghostbusters have until January 30 to recount their scariest encounter with the spirit world to win ghost tour tickets and a double pass to see the new horror movie, ‘Paranormal Activity - The Marked Ones’.

Destination Macarthur, Gledswood Homestead and Event Cinemas Campbelltown have partnered to run the ghost competition, which requires entrants to email their most frightening paranormal experience to before January 30, 2014. The entry judged the scariest will win two tickets to Gledswood Homestead’s weekly ghost tours and a double pass to see ‘Paranormal Activity - The Marked Ones’ at Event Cinemas Campbelltown. Contest details are also on Destination Macarthur’s Facebook page -!/visitmacarthur
Macarthur’s own ghost, Fred Fisher, was an ex-convict who mysteriously disappeared from his Campbelltown farm in 1826. Soon after. a local reported seeing a ghost pointing to Fisher’s body in a creek. A neighbour was later hanged for the murder. Fisher’s Ghost Festival is held in Campbelltown every November.
Gledswood Ghost Tours
Gledswood7Gledswood, a 19th century colonial homestead in Macarthur, was first settled by a French nobleman who fled to Australia during the French Revolution. The ghost tour explores the stories of those who have inhabited the house throughout its history and, who psychics say, can still be heard in its dark hallways today.
Beginning at 7.30pm every Friday, the torch-lit tour is led by a psychic medium whose tales will be sure to make even the bravest visitor’s hair stand on end. The 60-minute tour will end with light refreshments at Gledswood’s cellar door. The beautiful 184-year old building will be sure to excite and intrigue ghost enthusiasts and history lovers alike.
Set amongst 64 hectares of beautiful countryside, less than 60 minutes from the Sydney CBD, Gledswood Homestead boasts magnificent colonial buildings, lush gardens and its own winery and cellar door.
Where:  Gledswood Homestead, 900 Camden Valley Way, Catherine Field, near Camden in the
Macarthur region, south-west of Sydney
When:        7.30 pm every Friday
Cost:           $45 including light supper. For adults 18 and over only.
Bookings:  Bookings required via Gledswood Homestead on 02 9606 5111. For general information on the Macarthur region, embracing Camden and Campbelltown, visit

Horses to Roam Sydney Streets at Twilight

Sydney's George Street will be overrun with hundreds of galloping horses on Sunday night, as the City of Sydney's Chinese New Year Twilight Parade weaves its way through the city.

Rocking horses, jockeys, chess knights and the parade’s special guest, a 20ft horse will trot through the streets as Sydney welcomes the Year of the Horse and brings to life the festival artwork Safety & Peace in Four Seasons.
565047The herd of colourful steeds will be joined by crowd favourites including giant Chinese dragons, as well as floats from local Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese communities, martial arts performers and much more, with over 2,700 performers and 32 floats for all to admire.
A highlight of the parade will be 350 world-class performers direct from Beijing, Shaanxi and Hunan in China. In Sydney exclusively for this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations, martial artists, acrobats, jugglers, puppeteers, dancers and musicians will wow crowds with their special skills and jaw-dropping performances.
The city’s buildings will also be lit up with stunning projections wishing revellers a Happy Lunar New Year throughout the evening.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the annual Chinese New Year Twilight Parade was always the highlight of the City’s Lunar New Year celebrations.
“We’re expecting over 100,000 people to line the city streets to watch Sydney come to life with the colours and sounds of the Chinese New Year Twilight Parade,” the Lord Mayor said.
565044“The parade is a fantastic event to enjoy with family and friends and it’s the perfect way to celebrate the diversity of our great city.”
Chinese New Year Festival Creative Director Gill Minervini said watching the city streets transform into a dynamic parade filled with the sights and sounds of Asia was always a spectacle to behold.
“The Twilight Parade is always a crowd favourite, but as we welcome the Year of the Horse, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to ensure it’s even more fun than usual,” Ms Minervini said.
“The horse is known for being smart, handsome and hardworking, but also for loving a party, so saddle up Sydney – this is going to be one wild Twilight Parade.”
The parade kicks off just after 8pm, starting at Sydney Town Hall and weaving its way through Chinatown before finishing with a fireworks display at Cockle Bay.
Crowds will also have the opportunity to get up close with some of the parade elements afterwards, with a special selection of floats on display at Darling Quarter afterwards.
The event is free, however limited ticketed seating is available. Go to for all the details.
Chinese New Year Twilight Parade 2014
When Sunday 2 February, 8pm
Where Sydney Town Hall to Chinatown, followed by fireworks at Cockle Bay

Mövenpick Phuket Resorts Once Again Awarded Green Globe Certification

Bangtao_PhuketGreen Globe recently announced the re-certification of MÖvenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket, Thailand for the third year in a row; and of MÖvenpick Resort Bangtao Beach, Phuket for the second year respectively.

“We are proud of our achievement with Green Globe for the third consecutive year,” said Hansruedi Frutiger,  General Manager of MÖvenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket, “This recognition will further strengthen  our commitment of  running all of our operations with sustainability in mind and  ensure that we are in compliance with all environmental and sustainable standards.”
“In a world where resources are becoming increasingly scarce, compounded by the fact that they are consumed in huge amounts by Bangtao_Phuketthe hospitality industry, it is our foremost objective to reduce impact on the environment to result in a considerably smaller carbon footprint,” added Michael Wenk, Resident Manager, MÖvenpick Resort Bangtao Beach Phuket.
The long-term sustainability management system currently in effect at both MÖvenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket and MÖvenpick Resort Bangtao Beach Coconut Grove Pool - Karon Beachincludes daily energy consumption monitoring and water and electricity usage reduction targets. Fresh water is sourced from deep well and the company-owned waste water treatment plant. Overall waste reduction targets are achieved through comprehensive reuse/recycle and packaging minimization initiatives, while the hotels’ purchasing policy favours suppliers adhering to ecological sustainability practices. A new line of eco-friendly water bottles and bathroom amenities have also been introduced at both properties.
Green Globe is the premier worldwide certification and performance improvement program developed specifically for the travel and tourism industry. The Green Globe Certification Standard provides organizations with a framework to conduct a comprehensive assessment of their environmental sustainability performance, through which they can monitor improvements and achieve certification. It is reviewed once a year and, to guarantee adherence to the highest international standard, a third-party independent auditor is appointed to work with organizations on-site.
Sand Bar- Karon Beach

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pullman redefines hospitality in Ho Chi Minh City with the opening of Pullman Saigon Centre

7 - Superior RoomPullman, Accor’s upscale brand, is making its debut in Ho Chi Minh City with the opening of Pullman Saigon Centre in the heart of the city.

The first Pullman property in Ho Chi Minh City and the third in Vietnam, this newly-built hotel is located in District 1, near the bustling Ben Thanh market, Saigon’s most famous local market.
“The Pullman brand is defined by its exceptional clientele - upscale, well-traveled, and cosmopolitan,” said Mr Patrick Basset, Senior Vice President for Accor Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines. “It is my sincere pleasure to introduce the brand-new Pullman Saigon Centre to the market in Ho Chi Minh City. The hotel is Pullman’s newest flagship in Southeast Asia and will redefine the hospitality landscape in the city; we expect the hotel will exceed the expectations of the growing demand for upscale accommodations in Ho Chi Minh City.”
Pullman Saigon Centre reflects the brand’s cosmopolitan, vibrant and modern identity, perfectly capturing the essence of hospitality for today’s upscale business and leisure - or “bleisure” - travelers. Mr Thierry Le Ponner, the hotel’s General Manager, said, “Pullman Saigon Centre brings a new concept of hospitality to Ho Chi Minh City. With the latest technology and contemporary designed products, this hotel will appeal to business and leisure travellers alike.”
Pullman Saigon Centre has 306 spacious guestrooms, including 17 opulently-appointed suites – all of which offer guests an intimate space ideal for resting, relaxing and working. The stylish furniture and amenities provide comfort and functionality for all types of travelers, featuring Pullman signature beds, separate rain showers, cutting-edge designed bathtubs, complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi internet, coffee/tea making facilities, a 40-inch flat LED screen IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) with international channels, and multi-function panels that can integrate the room’s entertainment system with guests’ own devices. The highlight of the rooms is the floor-to-ceiling windows that offer spectacular views of the city’s skyline.
The Executive Rooms and Suites are also fitted with an espresso machine, docking station, iron, and in-room fitness gear. Guests will enjoy a unique experience in these cozy and private rooms, located on the 25th-29th floors, along with access to the Executive Loungeon the 30th floor, which offers exclusive express check-in and check-out, complimentary breakfast and all-day coffee/tea and soft drinks, free usage of the boardroom, computer station and business services, as well as evening cocktails. Besides enjoying the Executive Suite’s exclusive benefits, guests staying in the Pullman Signature Suite will get to indulge themselves in a sophisticated suite that offers an allure of an exclusive, upscale lifestyle.
“Today’s traveller has blurred the lines between their professional and private lives, and the need to stay connected is now stronger than ever,” added Mr Le Ponner. “Our Connectivity Lounge has therefore been designed to offer guests a high-speed digital experience, from its boardroom to the pool deck, with free high-speed Wi-Fi internet throughout.”
Cosmopolitan gastronomy for every taste bud
Pullman Saigon Centre’s restaurants and bars offer guests a unique culinary experience of international and local cuisines. Food Connexion Restaurant serves a sumptuous international buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as an innovative a la carte menu served with excellent wines by the glass or bottle from Pullman’s exclusive Vinoteca(R) wine collection. With a show kitchen concept and well-designed ambience, the hotel’s expert culinary team offers the best gastronomy, blending the best of the East and the West. There are three spacious private dining rooms available for guests seeking a private dining experience.
23 - Swimming Pool (Night)
The Cobalt Rooftop Restaurant, with a stunning panoramic view of Saigon’s skyline, is an urban loft that has an indoor seating and an open-air terrace offering progressive tapas, a grazing menu of selected dishes and designer drinks. The Urbane Lounge provides an intimate and relaxing atmosphere ideal for private meetings or for guests to enjoy a drink in a pleasurable environment. The Swimming Pool Bar treats guests with pleasant refreshments and snacks together with cool cocktails conjured by the bar’s talented mixologists.
The best place to meet in Saigon
Pullman Saigon Centre offers the brand’s signature Co-Meeting concept of comfortcommitmentconnectivity, and cohesion. The meeting spaces and facilities at Pullman Saigon Centre are impeccable, with a 700 square meter pillar-less function room catering to a wide spectrum of corporate and social events. The room is equipped with the latest technologies – widescreen LCD TVs, teleconference services, and complimentary internet connectivity – and a dedicated IT Solutions Manager and an Event Manager ensures that each function is perfectly executed. The ballroom can cater all kinds of events, including concerts, exhibitions and weddings. The five natural daylight meeting rooms can also accommodate delegates from small to large groups up to 120 guests. The hotel offers a Chill Out Space where guests can relax during innovative breaks and unwinding post-events. 
Options to indulge and relax
Pullman Saigon Centre invites guests to keep fit around the clock with at the hotel’s 24-hour Fit Loungeoffering cardiovascular training, kinesis, weightlifting, and floor exercises in a user-friendly environment with the latest equipment. A Jacuzzi and a sauna are also available to help guests unwind.  The Spa offers relaxation and regeneration with a range of targeted treatments of varying durations, adapted to the needs of both men and women. The hotel also features a large solarium outdoor swimming pool with a separate kids’ pool.

Top wine connoisseurs descend on Queenstown’s Hotel St Moritz for 10th annual Pinot Noir celebration

Some of the world’s top wine connoisseurs and critics will descend on Queenstown’s St Moritz hotel this Thursday 30 Januaryto attend the 10th annual Central Otago Pinot Noir Celebration (COPNC).

Held from January 30 to February 1 2014 the event showcases the wine, food, people and places of Central Otago to a ‘who’s who’ of the wine world including one of Burgundy’s most revered figures, Aubert de Villaine.
As Gold sponsor of the event and principle accommodation provider, St Moritz Queenstown has a long-standing association with the celebration, which perfectly matches the hotel’s unassuming and sophisticated style.
Billed as the “liveliest Pinot Celebration yet”, this year’s milestone tenth year sold out in record time, a strong indicator to organisers that Pinot Noir is fast becoming one of the world’s “most recognised and well-loved” wine varieties.
Love Seat dining in The Library, Hotel St Moritz (the perfect place to enjoy our signature pinot pinot pinot)
Love Seat dining in The Library, Hotel St Moritz (the perfect place to enjoy our signature pinot pinot pinot)
Hotel St Moritz general manager Lynne McVicar said hosting key VIPs for the celebration was a “huge privilege” as Pinot Noir was integral to the hotel’s story that centres on the unique landscape of the Central Otago region which happens to grow some of the most revered pinot grapes in the world.
“Our signature ‘Pinot Pinot Pinot’–a flight of the region’s best Pinot Noirs -are chosen for guests to taste  and has proved a hit with locals and return guests,” said Mrs McVicar.
“We can even take it a step further and perfectly match the Pinots with a degustation dining experience from our restaurant; a foodies delight.
“Our knowledge of Pinot Noir is impressive and our team is passionate about educating and informing people about the varietal.”
The Signature Lobby of Hotel St Moritz
The Signature Lobby of Hotel St Moritz
“We really value the support of Hotel St Moritz and their ongoing sponsorship and are grateful they provide such a high quality of service and hospitality for our visiting media,” said COPNC chair Jen Parr.
During the three-day festivities, which celebrate the success and diversity of Central Otago Pinot Noir, delegates will meet a comprehensive range of Central Otago winegrowers, with 40 producers collaborating to host the event.
As part of the ‘Downtown Lunch’ event on Saturday, St Moritz will host wineries Gibbston Valley, Hawke’s Head, Judge Rock and Mudhouse for an interactive and informative lunch session with winemakers and representatives from each of the wineries.
“We’re really looking forward to enjoying some fantastic wine, matched with superb food from our award-winning chef team and hearing more from the country’s best winemakers. It’s sure to be a great afternoon,” said Mrs McVicar.
“We’re proud of our ten year collaboration with the event and look forward to many more years together promoting the region’s wines. The event gets bigger and better each year.”

Within Every Crisis Lies an Opportunity Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor

Looking to convert a crisis into an opportunity, Thailand is urging travel trade buyers and guests to take their business to the provincial destinations, where the situation is perfectly normal.

Addressing a packed media conference at the ASEAN Tourism Forum here on 22 January, 2014, Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik said that while it cannot be denied that some major parts of Bangkok are facing transport and traffic disruptions due to the ongoing political protests, visitors can still have a perfectly good time in the provinces.
Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik (3rd from right)
This includes the key tourism cities of Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui, Hat Yai, Hua Hin/Cha-am and Pattaya as well as secondary cities; such as, Kanchanaburi, Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nong Khai, Rayong and many more.
“This is a good time for buyers to discover new destinations, especially those in the provinces bordering the Greater Mekong Subregion countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR. and Myanmar,” Mr. Thawatchai said.
“This is the best time to discover the wonderful new destinations that will emerge in the future thanks to the Asian Highway,” he said. “Not many people know that there are four bridges connecting Thailand to Lao PDR. over the Mekong River and that it is now possible to drive from the eastern Thai border town of Aranyaprathet to Siem Reap, gateway to the famous temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.”unnamed (32)
Mr. Thawatchai added, “Those tour operators and travel trade buyers who take advantage of the opportunity to explore the emerging destinations will be able to reap the competitive advantage very soon.”
He noted that promoting provincial travel is in line with the policy of the National Economic and Social Development Board, Thailand’s main planning agency, to distribute income and jobs in the rural areas.
“It is also in line with the region-wide desire to promote ASEAN integration and connectivity. The theme of the ASEAN Tourism unnamed (33)Forum was ‘Advancing Tourism Together,’ and that is exactly what we can do now.”
The Governor said that a new way of planning might now be necessary to create separate identities for the four geographical regions of Thailand, and market them individually.
On the trade show floor, most of the roughly 80 exhibitors from Thailand were also from provincial destinations. By and large, they reported that their appointments were met, and that buyers were interested in continuing to do business after getting a better understanding of the situation.
“The feedback we received indicated that if the price was right, the buyers are willing to find ways of packaging the Thai products, as unnamed (34)long as they could be assured of their clients’ safety and security, and normalcy of travel arrangements,” Mr. Thawatchai said.
None of the Thai events at the ATF were cancelled, including a Pattaya late-night event, which was very well attended. The Governor said that it was important to proceed with everything as usual.
He said the ATF was important for Thailand as it was the first international travel trade event of 2014. It was also important for him personally, as the first international show that he attended since assuming the governorship in late December 2013.
Mr. Thawatchai said the primary problem are the travel advisories and the impact it is having on insurance coverage for travellers.
“The most important thing for us is that the goodwill towards Thailand remains unaffected,”
Mr. Thawatchai said. “Travel trade buyers see the evolving political situation as a temporary phenomena. There is tremendous sympathy and support for the ordinary Thai people, especially the many rank-and-file people who work in it.
“I was very encouraged by the feedback from everyone that once everything returns to normal, Thailand will back in full strength.”

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Win exclusive entry into the Motatapu Speight’s Summit MTB race with Crowne Plaza Queenstown

Queenstown’s iconic Motatapu Speight’s Summit 47km MTB race sold out in record time - Credit Nathan Secker_mediaTo celebrate the launch of its new ‘Unwind and Recharge’ mountain bike package, Crowne Plaza Queenstown is giving away two exclusive entries to the sold-out Motatapu Speight’s Summit MTB race taking place on March 8 2014.

The iconic event celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and the popular mountain bike category sold out months ago, meaning entries are like gold dust for those in the biking fraternity.
The exceptional prize, valued at NZD$1,200, includes two highly sought-after entries to the Motatapu Speight's Summit 47km Mountain Bike race, complimentary transport to the event in Wanaka, two nights’ accommodation at Crowne Plaza Queenstown with full buffet breakfast for two, two ‘survivor’ in-room packs and a guaranteed late checkout of 1pm.
To enter visit from January 24 till 4pm February 5, 2014 and ‘Like’ the Crowne Plaza Queenstown Facebook page to access the entry form.
Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s ‘Unwind and Recharge’ Package tailored to bikers_mediaCrowne Plaza sales and marketing manager Kylie Walker said the “exceptional” prize was set to cause “quite a stir” in the biking world.
“This is one of New Zealand’s most recognised and “must-do” bike races and entries sold out in record time last year,” said Ms Walker.
“The wait list for the mountain bike category is long and people are clamouring to be a part of this great event. This is a perfect chance to enter the race and tick it off the bucket list.
“The prize includes everything from accommodation, to a survivor pack to get you ‘race ready’ and a late check-out so you can enjoy a lie in post-race.”
The lakefront hotel is perfectly located to access all the local biking trails_mediaLaunched to coincide with the Motatapu event and the Queenstown Bike Festival, held in April, Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s ‘Unwind and Recharge’ mountain bike package has everything for the perfect biking getaway.
The new package includes accommodation with full buffet breakfast for two adults and two self-guided trips with Vertigo Bikes to the historic Arrowtown/Gibbston Valley wine trail, which includes half-day hire of two front suspension mountain bikes, helmets, expert trail notes, puncture repair kit and return transport.
“We’re perfectly located on the doorstep of the Queenstown Trail with over 100km of trails available in Queenstown and the surrounding area,” said Ms Walker.
“We’re the ideal base for a biking holiday as a couple or with friends and cater accordingly to the biking market.
“We’re also a ten minute easy ride away from the Skyline Gondola where you can access great downhill biking and there are numerous other local riding haunts our team can recommend.
“Queenstown has fast become the biking mecca of New Zealand and Crowne Plaza is in the heart of it all offering easy access to bike trails, wineries, restaurants, cafes and all the other attractions the town is renowned for.”

Sydney Sparkles As Australia Day Celebrations Embrace The Harbour

On 26 January each year, Australians come together to celebrate their national day, and with Australia Day in Sydney fast becoming a 'must do' travel experience, the emerald city turns on the charm, packed full of activities on and around Sydney Harbour.

Destination NSW CEO Sandra Chipchase said, "The Australia Day celebrations in Sydney are a must do experience – from the Ferrython races to the Great Australian Swim around Farm Cove, The Sydney's Tall Ships fleet to the aerial displays by the Royal Australian Air Force and the Australia Day Regatta – the harbour is buzzing during this annual spectacle.  It is a very special time."
Hundreds of participants took part in the Great Australian Swim Series Final. Swimming enthusiasts joined in the 2.2km swim around Farm Cove, while less experienced swimmers opted for the 750m swim, or the Junior Kids 300m event, swimming alongside some of open waters' best swimmers and sports stars.
The Sydney Harbour Concert Series, presented in association with Destination NSW, featured live music performances on-board an impressive floating stage at Blues Point, Athol Bay and Darling Harbour.
Directed by John Foreman, the concert at Blues Point featured performances by several major Australian artists including Jessica Mauboy, Dami Im, Samantha Jade and Justice Crew, who each performed a selection of their hits as well as some Australian classics.
Taylor Henderson continued the performances at Athol Bay as part of the Tinnie Muster event, before the Sydney Harbour Concert Series concluded in Darling Harbour with Prinnie Stevens and Mahalia Barnes performing their current touring Motown show.
Other harbour highlights included the ever-popular Ferrython races and a 21-gun salute followed by an aerial display by FA 18 Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force. Sydney's Tall Ships led a fleet of historic vessels from Bradley's Head to the Harbour Bridge, while the 178th Australia Day Regatta turned the harbour into an aquatic spectacle.
The celebrations continued to Darling Harbour in the evening, with the Darling Harbour Australia Day Spectacular.  The renowned show featured a stunning multimedia symphony of lights and music, culminating in a fireworks extravaganza over Cockle Bay.
For more information on what to see and do in Sydney, visit

Hat Yai to celebrate its Grand Chinese New Year festival 2014

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Hat Yai Office, in collaboration with the Hat Yai Municipality and the Si Nakhon Foundation School is organising the annual Hat Yai Chinese New Year Festival.

This year, the event will take place within the grounds of the Si Nakhon Foundation School from 31 January to 5 February, 2014.
The annual Chinese New Year festival is a much-loved and important tradition for the local people of Hat Yai because the area is home to one of the largest Thai-Chinese communities in Thailand. Every year, Thai-Chinese family members gather together in their homes to pay their respects to their ancestors and their ancient Chinese gods. This important time is marked by grand celebrations which are seen in the New Year.
Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of TAT said, “The blend of traditions and cultures of the people of Hat Yai and the unique way they live has made the city a top draw for tourists, with many coming from neighbouring countries; such as, Malaysia and Singapore. The Chinese New Year Festival is among the many celebrations of Hat Yai that bring in the big crowds.”
Chinese New Year at Hat Yai is one of the most spectacular festivals of the year and 2014 promises to be the biggest event yet.
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Among the highlights will be a breathtaking fireworks show carefully staged so that viewers can enjoy a 360-degree view of the action. Visitors can expect to see the traditional dragon and lion dances in the streets of the town – a lion dance competition will also be held to find the best artistes. In addition, there will be stage shows and performances by famous Thai artists; such as, James Mar and the comedians of the Anna Chuan-cheun Group, as well as many other activities for people of all ages to enjoy.
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One show not to be missed will be the spectacular cultural performances staged by Chinese performers who will be flown in by TAT from various parts of China. They will be performing on stage at the Si Nakhon Foundation School from 4 – 5 February, 2014. The amazing shows will include a dance performance from the province of Hunan, an acrobatics display from Tianjin and examples of dance and song from Inner Mongolia.
For more information about the event, or to obtain tickets to the Chinese performances (tickets are free but demand is expected to be high), contact:
Hat Yai Municipal Office
Tel: 66 (0) 7420 0041
TAT Hat Yai Office
Tel: 66 (0) 7424 3747
Si Nakhon Foundation School
Tel: 66 (0) 7335 6393-4

Celebrate Songkran in Amazing Thailand

TAT to Launch Let’s Celebrate Songkran in Amazing Thailand at SATTE 2014
More than 40 Thai exhibitors will be present at the Amazing Thailand pavilion at SATTE 2014 during 29-31 January, 2014, at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Besides the well-known destinations of Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket, rapidly emerging new destinations; such as, Ko Pha Ngan and Krabi will also present their products and services.

Ko Pha Ngan is approximately 30 minutes by boat from Ko Samui while Krabi is about 1 hour by air from Suvarnabhumi Airport and about 2 hours by car from Phuket. Both these destinations are gaining huge popularity in the Indian market.

SATTE, one of India’s leading travel trade shows, is attended by hundreds of trade buyers and sellers from around the world seeking to tap the Indian market.

During the three-day show, Amazing Thailand will present “Thainess” with demonstrations of the famous umbrella painting from San Kamphaeng district in Chiang Mai as well as fruit and vegetable carving, which is a trademark of Thai cuisine. On the last day (31 January) the famous Songkran Festival will be highlighted with tour operators and hotels offering special packages to give Indian visitors a chance to experience this unique Thai water carnival during 12-15 April.

Ms. Runjuan Tongrut, Director, TAT New Delhi Office added, “TAT has been exhibiting at SATTE for many years. This year, the aim is to update the Indian travel trade with new offerings from Thailand as well as to introduce our unique “Thainess” identity to Indians.

“With Thailand having welcomed over 1 million Indian tourists for 2 consecutive years, on behalf of the Thai people, I would like to say ‘A million thanks again to Indian travellers, travel trade partners and media for their support and confidence in Thailand as always’,” Ms. Runjuan said.

The Songkran Festival is a fun-filled national celebration that pays tribute to the role of water in the Thai social, cultural, economic and spiritual life. Marked during the peak of the summer heat wave, it includes the annual bathing of Buddha images at temples and homes across the country.

Songkran is a time of renewal, rest, recreation, release, and bonding with families who sometimes see each other only during this time of year. If there is any time of year to visit, enjoy and learn about Thailand, Songkran is it.

This year, the Royal Thai Government has announced 13-15 April, 2014, as the Songkran holiday so the Thai people will have a long holiday from 12-16 April, 2014, (including weekend).
TAT truly hopes that visitors coming during this special time of year will have the opportunity to participate in these colourful and joyful events taking place throughout the Kingdom.

India is today the biggest source market for visitors from South Asia and one of Thailand’s fastest growing source markets. In 2013, Indian visitors to Thailand totalled 1,049,856, up 3.61% over 2012; it is one of seven countries generating more than one-million arrivals. TAT is expecting 1,070,000 Indian visitors to Thailand and generating 45.8 billion Baht for tourism revenue in 2014.

Indian leisure travellers generally go shopping and sightseeing in Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, and Ko Samui, with an increasing number also heading to Krabi, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and Kanchanaburi. Recent years have also shown a marked rise in the number of Indian weddings and golfers from the Subcontinent in Thailand.

TAT is expecting that Indian arrivals across all customer and market segments will grow exponentially in future, as the free trade agreements between India and ASEAN are implemented and make progress. If business and MICE travel booms, the tourist traffic is not far behind.

The Nostalgia of Travel: Explore Asia's Finest Colonial Residences with Secret Retreats

Talabgaon Castle
For centuries Asia has always been a place of wonderment and intrigue. All throughout history, explorers like Alexander the Great, Marco Polo, Vasco de Gama and Christopher Columbus were fixated on reaching the shores of the Orient. Captivated with the opulent silks, delicate teas and exotic spices of the Far East, by the early 15th century, also known as the Age of Discovery, Europe had developed a full-fledge trading route with Asia, exchanging precious commodities, craftsmanship, and a sense of aesthetics.

"Almost every country in Asia has been under European influence and many of our member's properties are witnesses of the colonial past, which is reflected in the aesthetics of their interiors, the architecture and the memorabilia". - Stephane Junca, Managing Director of Secret Retreats

Secret Retreats offer some of the finest residences, hotels and boats throughout Asia that reflect a charm of yesteryear. Weaving a thread between these hidden gems is the literary figure Kim, a tribute to Rudyard Kipling, whose quests and escapades takes us on an exploratory journey around the Orient. Return to the nostalgia of travel and discover some of Secret Retreats' finest colonial residences peppered throughout Asia.

Satri House, Laos
Located in the heart of Luang Prabang, Satri House was the original residence that belonged to Prince Soupha-nouvong, who in 1975 became the first president of the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Echoing a rich history, Satri's polished terracotta floors and porches overlooking the exotic garden and swimming pool, take you on a journey back in time.

Talabgaon Castle, India
A hundred-fifty year old fort situated in the heart of Rajasthan, Talabgaon Castle was built by the owner's ancestor, Mr. Thakur Vijay Singh ji Rathore. Recently restored into a heritage resort, Talabgaon Castle is the only property with its own Polo field and stables. Enjoy a horse trek through the peaceful countryside as you imagine its colonial past.

Qing Wang Fu's, China

Qing Wang Fu is an exquisite property located at the original Cambridge Street of the former British Concession of Tianjin. The hotel was designed by Zhang Lande, Chief Eunuch of the royal family of late Qing Dynasty, and was regarded as a top-class residence for the Chinese living in the old British Concession. The entire building features a perfect combination of Chinese and Western aesthetics with granite plaster walls, azure stone rails and traditional Chinese flower-and-bird patterns that are carved with Belgian craftsmanship onto the window panes.

The Samar Villas & Spa, Cambodia
Located in Siem Reap near the magnificent Angkor Wat temples, The Samar is a blend of traditional Khmer architecture and contemporary design, this nine bedroom property offers a sense of refinement and warmth typically found in a beautiful family home.

Tugu Malang, Indonesia

Located on the island of Java, Tugu Malang offers a rich Dutch colonial past from everything that a lover of history and culture may wish for: delicate silks, hand painted batiks, sumptuous Ikat textiles, antique statuettes, enigmatic masks and leather puppets.

Cabochon, Thailand

Centrally located in Sukhumvit, Bangkok, Cabochon's architecture is reminiscent of 1920s Shanghai and is a homage to the owner's father. Antiques fill the Club Lounge from honey-brown leather trunks to an elegant Asian-designed red sofa.

Chakrabongse Villas, Thailand

An oasis in the middle of Old Bangkok, Chakrabongse Villas was built in the early 1900s and belongs to descendants of the Thai Royal family. The seven spacious rooms are mostly in the traditional Thai style, decorated with woodwork and silks.

The Jahan, Vietnam
With its beautiful wrought iron balustrades and tapered bow, the Jahan criss-crosses the Mekong River, linking Vietnam to Cambodia. The vessel features twenty-six light cabins with balconies decorated in the colonial spirit, featuring dark wooden floors and colourful fabrics that create a convivial atmosphere.

For further information on Secret Retreats, please visit our website:

SECRET RETREATS is a collection of some of the finest boutique residences, hotels and boats throughout Asia—a brand that provides experiential experiences for the discerning traveller. Conscious of the uniformity of luxury hotel chains around the world that deprive today's travellers of authenticity and individuality, SECRET RETREATS sets a new reference point in the hospitality industry by advocating exclusive boutique hideaways and promoting experiential travel experiences.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places