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Monday, June 30, 2014

Burt Munro Challenge Revs Up 2014

The Burt Munro Challenge is an annual motorcycle racing event held in Southland, New Zealand at the end of November – paying homage to a Kiwi racing legend.

Following the success of the 2005 movie about Munro's inspirational life – “The World's Fastest Indian”, the Southland Motorcycle Club created the Challenge to honour Munro, his ingenuity, determination, and love of speed and motorcycles.

After setting a number of New Zealand land speed records in the 1940s and 1950s, Munro competed at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, United States. His first trip to Bonneville as a competitor was in 1962, when he was 63, and there he set a land speed record of 178.97mph.

He travelled there a further eight times to compete and set two more world records. His 1967 record of 183.58mph still stands today, and on this trip he also managed to hit 190.07mph during a qualifying run which is the fastest ever recorded speed on an Indian motorcycle.

Burt Munro Challenge - Beach Races
This year the Burt Munro Challenge runs from November 26 – 30.
The challenge features several racing disciplines including a Hill Climb, Beach Racing, Track Sprint Racing, Long-track, Super-X, Speedway, and Street Racing – all celebrating the life of champion racer Burt Munro.

Competitors and spectators come from throughout New Zealand, Australia and the world to attend the rally and challenge.

Time Magazine listed the Challenge as one of its “must do” events last year and its popularity is growing each year.

Burt Munro Challenge - Bikes Galore
The rally site at Oreti Park has bikes on display by proud owners plus music, food and drink and other entertainment making for a great atmosphere.
Now in its ninth year, the Challenge was seen as the biggest all round motorcycle rally in New Zealand.

“Where it beats all the rest is that there are so many disciplines. There are bigger rallies (in terms of numbers in New Zealand) but they don't have the racing events we do,” Event Manager Jade Gilles said.
The challenge was underpinned by loyal support from the regular attendees known as “weekend warriors,” Mr Gillies said.

Registrations open in July at
Racing programme:
Thu 27 Nov, 6pm  NZ SUPER-X CHAMPS

Wellington makes a pop in Auckland

You’ve been to pop up bars, pop up shops and pop up restaurants, but have you ever been to a pop up city?

Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) took over Auckland venue Silo 6, with ‘The Capital’ pop up city transforming the six-pack of concrete silos into a mini culinary capital on Wednesday and Friday this week for more than 400 invited Aucklanders, food lovers and prize winners.

For two nights only, The Capital showcased some of the best bites and bevvies direct from Wellington, including craft beer, bespoke cocktails and tasty cuisine from Logan Brown, Hawthorn Lounge, Grill Meats Beer, Six Barrel Soda, Duke Carvell's, Scopa, The Library, Wellington Chocolate Factory, Flight Coffee, Leeds Street Bakery, Ti Kouka, ParrotDog and Garage Project.

Guests were also treated to live performances from Wellington singer, songwriter and beat maker Estère.
The event trended on social media platforms Twitter and Instagram in Auckland and nationally, showing the event captured people’s imagination.

PWT Chief Executive David Perks says the pop up city was a huge success, showcasing the variety, proximity and personalities of the city’s hospitality industry to Wellington’s largest visitor market.
The Capital is about introducing people to new haunts and hidden gems, as well as a few Wellington institutions. Silo 6 is a perfect venue for a pop up city as it enables us to replicate the experience of wandering around our compact city to discover what’s around the corner.”

Attendance to the event was through prize and invitation and the team received an influx of requests for invites and how to buy tickets, Mr Perks says.

“It’s that kind of anticipation and excitement that this event was designed to build. Our research tells us that Wellington remains Aucklanders’ favourite domestic city break getaway – they just need constant reminders and triggers as to when to visit next and what to try.”

Organisers, RAW, attribute the success of the event to the fantastic Wellington personalities involved, unique location and the overwhelming interest, particularly across social media.

RAW says the Capital has certainly given Aucklanders an appetite for world-class Wellington cuisine.
The Capital hit Auckland ahead of major events such as the Football United Tour double-header, Visa Wellington On a Plate, Beervana, Lux, World of WearableArt Awards Show and the All Blacks vs South Africa test.

The Langham, Sydney To Redefine Elegance With $30 Million Refurbishment

GuestroomThe Langham, Sydney will be closing its doors on Thursday, 24th July for a period of four months to commence its highly anticipated $30 million refurbishment; transforming the landmark hotel into Sydney’s most exclusive harbourside address.

Leading London-based interior and architectural design firm GA Design have created a world class transformation for the luxury Sydney home.

The renovation will include a complete redevelopment and refurbishment of the lobby, dining areas, guestrooms and residential-style ballroom with an aesthetic blending sophistication and timeless elegance with custom-made furnishings and treatments. Bringing the hotel into line with its international sister properties, signature Langham luxuries such as Chuan Spa and Palm Court will be also introduced.
Sonia Lefevre, General Manager of The Langham, Sydney says the refurbishment was some years in the making.

“We are so delighted to finally announce our refurbishment! These plans have been a work in progress since we took over the hotel in August 2012,” she said.

Kent St Kitchen“We are committed to our tradition of delivering the luxury Sydney home experience, and are excited to be opening the doors to Sydney’s most exclusive harbourside address of unsurpassed elegance and opulence this December.”

The 96-room residence boasts the largest guestrooms in Sydney at 49 square metres (527 square feet) with opening windows and balconies. From its central Kent Street address, guests can enjoy sweeping western harbourside views, and a tranquil yet convenient location in proximity to some of the city’s most iconic destinations.

Lefevre adds, “We are very fortunate to be located in such a historic neighbourhood. With The Langham, Sydney overlooking the revitalisation of Barangaroo and introduction of Headland Park, our guests will enjoy Western Harbour and lush parkland views with direct access to the Sydney Harbour foreshore.”

Upon entering the newly renovated Langham Sydney, guests will be greeted with a fresh and light space of luxurious and rich materials that hark back to the historical splendour of days gone by. The Lobby will feature a stunning floor of Calacatta marble with a simple Art Deco-inspired design and a large central reception desk of gold leaf crackled porcelain. The Lobby area will be extended and the existing staircase removed, flooding the area with natural light, creating the grandest of entrances.

Palm Court
Famed as the birthplace of the traditional Afternoon Tea experience, Palm Court will be welcomed by The Langham, Sydney. From illustrious beginnings at The Langham, London nearly 150 years ago, Palm Court will offer Sydneysiders an exclusive Afternoon Tea experience – Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood. 2014 marks the beginning of a global partnership between Wedgwood and Langham Hospitality Group to deliver the world’s most distinct, memorable and unique Afternoon Tea experience.

By evening, Palm Court provides a sophisticated backdrop drop for a signature Langham cocktail expertly prepared at the leather and stone bar. A hallmark of the Langham brand; Palm Court will be adorned by shades of teal and citrus golds, evoking a sense of English heritage in an elegant yet striking environment bathed in natural light.

Kent Street Kitchen
Headed up by recent acquisition, Chef de Cuisine Daniel Rudolph (formerly of est.), Kent Street Kitchen will deliver a unique and one-of-a-kind, contemporary fine-dining experience. With an interactive kitchen, Kent Street Kitchen will showcase innovative cuisine using premium local produce, executed with elegance and technical precision.

LobbyGuests will enjoy a welcoming and enchanting atmosphere, created by high-end residential accents including rich oak flooring, walnut and leather chairs, customized lighting, freestanding wine libraries and an array celebrated Australian artworks curated exclusively by Sotheby’s. Kent Street Kitchen will be flexible in design and layout to allow for intimate private dining functions.

Chuan Spa
The existing Day Spa will be transformed into a Chuan Spa; a Langham signature, delivering a reinvigorated spa experience. Chuan Spas are exclusive to the Langham Hospitality Group and is consistently rated among the best luxury spas in the world. Chuan Spa’s philosophy is as old as time itself; based on the foundations of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), to create an optimal balance of the Five Wu Xing elements: fire, water, earth, metal and wood to harmonise the body and soul, and enrich our capacity for personal happiness and fulfilment. The spa will feature facials, massages and body treatments based upon TCM principles, as well as advanced skin care treatments from German beauty pioneers, BABOR.

The all-inclusive Chuan Spa offers a holistic approach to health, fitness and wellness, with a fully-equipped Health Club, Jacuzzi and steam rooms. The Langham, Sydney’s renowned 20m indoor pool, complete with pale stone columns and a star-dappled sky ceiling will remain, completing the ultimate oasis of quiet calm.

Referencing The Langham’s heritage, the redesigned guestrooms combine high-end luxe appeal with colonial charm to evoke timeless elegance. Each spacious guestroom will feature an eclectic mix of furniture, and have designated and appointed areas for rest, relaxation and dining. Each guestroom is fitted with Langham’s signature Blissful Beds and framed by a sophisticated linen-studded headboard; ensuring guests have a restful night’s sleep. Grandeur abounds with painted shutters opening onto postcard-worthy views of Western Harbour or Sydney’s skyline, while high ceilings, panelled walls and custom-made furnishings create a truly luxurious, residential feel.

The Ballroom
Designed as a much grander space with significant increases in capacity to 200 persons for cocktails and 150 persons for a banquet dinner, the colours in The Ballroom are rich gold amber against a soft sophisticated silver grey. Rich cream and gold panelling and grand crystal chandeliers contribute to a world class facility. The Ballroom will be the most lavish venue to delight guests and create enchanting memories.

Experience elegance redefined when The Langham, Sydney reopens in December 2014.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

New Pandaw Adventure Cruise

When Pandaw River Expeditions founder Paul Strachan first ventured up the remote Le Myo River in Burma to the mysterious temple city of Mrauk-U in 1986 he was asked to sign the visitors’ book.

Seven years later he went back and there was still plenty of space to sign again on the same page.
Not many pages have turned since then – which is why Pandaw’s newest river boat, the RV Kaladan Pandaw, still under construction, will make its inaugural cruise up the Le Myo in Burma’s less-travelled far western region on October 2 next year.

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Mrauk U, which can still only be reached by river, was once a cosmopolitan centre of high culture and capital of an important kingdom that served as a buffer between India and Burma.

Seven-night cruises will operate between October (2015) and March from Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State. Prices start at USD3500 and include return flights between  Yangon and Sittwe, entrance fees, guides, port charges, main meals, locally made alcoholic beverages and crew gratuities.

Visits will include the Tattoo Villages and Kyauktaw

(Bookings through travel agents. Further information at or contact John <> )

Chef Todd English to Join Queen Mary 2's Independence Day Celebration Voyage

Cunard Line will welcome celebrity chef and partner Todd English on board Queen Mary 2 on 1 July 2014 for her Independence Day Celebration voyage from New York to Boston.

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While on board, Chef English will develop a new menu with the flagship’s culinary team, debuting later this summer.  The famed restaurateur will also sign copies of his cookbook, Cooking in Everyday English: The ABCs of Great Flavor at Home, and participate in a Q&A with the Entertainment Director.
“We are delighted to welcome our longtime partner and friend, Todd English, aboard Queen Mary 2 in July,” said David Dingle, CEO for Cunard Line.  “Our flagship has the distinct honour of featuring the only Todd English restaurant at sea. We look forward to having him on board to continue celebrating the ship’s 10th anniversary.”

One of the most decorated, respected and charismatic chefs in the world, Todd English has enjoyed a staggering number of accolades during his remarkable career.  He has been recognized by several of the food industry’s most prestigious publications, established one of the best-known restaurant brands in the nation – Olives – and is a four-time James Beard Award winner.  In addition, Chef English has four critically-acclaimed cookbooks, including the October 2011 release, Cooking in Everyday English. 
unnamed (16)“I am looking forward to sailing with Queen Mary 2,” Todd English said.  “It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Cunard Line and the beautiful Queen Mary 2 over the past 10 years, and I look forward to celebrating with the ship and meeting guests while on board.”

Fans of Chef English can follow him on Twitter (@ChefToddEnglish) and Facebook (

Since becoming Cunard’s flagship on completion of her maiden Transatlantic Crossing in 2004, Queen Mary 2 has remained unchallenged as the world’s grandest ocean liner ever built.  In her first 10 years of service, following a spectacular naming by Her Majesty The Queen on 8 January 2004, Queen Mary 2 has undertaken more than 420 voyages, including over 200 Transatlantic Crossings, and has called at 182 ports in 60 countries.

Staterooms and Grills Suites are still available for the 1 July 2014 Independence Day Celebration (M410), with fares starting from $1,299 per person.

Business Insider Places Oman Air In Top Ten Of World’s Best Airlines 2014

Business Insider, the US-based global business news website with 38.4 million monthly unique visitors, has placed Oman Air in the Top Ten of its just-published list of the world’s best airlines for flying Economy Class.

Oman Air achieved ninth place in the list, beating many of the best-known giants of the aviation industry, in areas such as its passenger experience.

EconomyActing Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air, Salim Al Kindy, welcomed the list’s publication, saying:

“We are proud and delighted that Business Insider has recognised the outstanding quality offered by Oman Air and has listed us as one of the ten best airlines in the world. Oman Air’s long haul Economy Class experience offers extremely high levels of space and comfort, outstanding service and superb inflight technology, including mobile phone and wi-fi connectivity, large personal entertainment screens, live satellite TV and all the latest movies and music. When this is combined with the traditional Omani hospitality that is Oman Air’s trademark, we are confident that our passengers can enjoy the very best that 21st Century air travel has to offer.”

The Business Insider World’s Best Airlines list was compiled using the criteria of the quality of the passenger experience and the airline’s punctuality. The passenger experience was assessed using data supplied by Skytrax, the independent airline quality experts, and covering seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin cleanliness and condition, quality of meals served, service efficiency, and cabin safety standards.

Data on airline punctuality covered the period from 1st April 2014 to 31st May 2014 and was supplied by The punctuality figures included the performance of codeshare partners and was given a weighting of 30% in the final results, whilst the passenger experience was given a 70% weighting to reflect customers’ priorities when choosing an airline.

Oman Air’s Economy Class seats aboard its long haul Airbus A330 fleet offer a 34-inch pitch, adjustable head and leg rests and a 10.4-inch seatback inflight entertainment screen. In addition to the entertainment options offered by the onboard system, passengers are able personalise their experience by plugging in their own devices and watching their own movies, listening to their own music, or using the inflight connectivity service to update their social media, check emails or browse the web.

Oman Air currently operates a fleet of 30 aircraft, comprising seven Airbus A330s, 17 Boeing B737s, four Embraer E175s and two ATR42s. In addition, the airline has a further three A330s, six Boeing B787 Dreamliners and 11 Boeing B737s on order, the first of which will be delivered later this year. The expanded fleet will enable Oman Air to increase the number of destinations it flies to, as well as offering greater frequencies on existing routes.

The airline currently flies from its base in Muscat, Oman, to 43 destinations across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and East Africa and recorded on-time performance of almost 90% across its network in 2013.

The Business Insider accolade comes just one month after Oman Air was named ‘Middle East’s Leading Airline Economy Class and ‘Middle East’s Leading Airline Best Business Class Airline’ at the World Travel Awards 2014.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Dorsett Hospitality International opens Dorsett Shepherds Bush

Dorsett Shepherds Bush, London Enjoys Its Soft

Opening Launch Today




Dorsett Hospitality International is delighted to announce the soft opening of their first hotel in the buzzing capital city of London on 24th June. Dorsett Shepherds Bush is the newest addition to the Dorsett Hospitality International portfolio, and the company's first hotel in the United Kingdom and indeed Europe.


To the mark the soft opening in West London today, the grand hotel lobby became centre stage to a stunning performance of a traditional lion dance honouring and celebrating the opening in true Chinese tradition in homage to the company's Chinese roots.


With their strong record of building, operating and managing 18 hotels in Asia (China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia), Dorsett Hospitality International targets key cities with high demand and growth potential.


"I am delighted to be part of this extremely exciting London hotel launch within the vibrant area of Shepherds Bush.  Dorsett Shepherds Bush offers easy access to numerous facilities and activities within the local area as well as fantastic transport links to the rest of the city.  Dorsett Shepherds Bush is a hotel where British charm meets Asian hospitality and we look forward to welcoming our first guests through the doors today" says Hilary Cross, General Manager of Dorsett Shepherds Bush, London.



Dorsett Shepherds Bush is set within a Grade II listed building, originally known as The Shepherds Bush Pavilion, formerly a cinema, built in 1923. Dorsett Shepherds Bush retains the buildings historic façade with added contemporary elegance within.



Under the landmark glass roof, the 7 storey hotel offers 317 Chinese inspired bedrooms designed with a light and modern feel, including 187 standard Dorsett rooms, and 24 suites combining the Dorsett Suite and the Dorsett Studio. The interior was created by Dorsett's very own in-house design team, who are known best for providing modern, innovative and comfortable accommodation in their hotels. 



When choosing from the selection of five room categories, guests enjoy complimentary high-speed internet access and docking stations in every room. The hotel has a selection of interconnecting rooms for those travelling with young children.  Interior rooms have a magnificent view across the atrium which is decorated with a backlight gold façade.  All guests booked in to Executive rooms or Suites can also make full use of the Executive Lounge.


Executive Lounge

The ideal facility for guests with discerning needs.  The Executive Lounge is located on the hotel's ground floor exclusively for guests staying in Executive guestrooms and Suites.  The Executive Lounge is equipped with enhanced amenities and services such as complimentary daily continental breakfast, complimentary wireless internet access and other selected privileges. The Executive Lounge serves as a temporary office or a relaxation point where various business facilities are available and refreshments are served for free from morning to evening.



Dorsett Shepherds Bush offers two restaurants, the first, Pictures, showcasing a contemporary brasserie style menu; complimented with a selection of handpicked Asian inspired dishes.  The second restaurant at the hotel is an innovative new venture for an established restaurateur bringing a fine dining Chinese Restaurant concept to Shepherds Bush.  


Pavilion Spa & Wellness

Dorsett Shepherds Bush is home to the innovative Pavilion spa,  with 4 treatment rooms offering non-invasive, results driven face and body treatments, open to guests and local residents in conjunction with holistic and Chinese treatments to relax and revive.  Two nail stations offering a variety of hand treatments complete the therapist services offered.  In addition there is a steam room and a sauna, along with a specialist infa-red sauna, perfect for helping with sprains, strains, arthritis, and pain management. Hotel guests have complementary 24 hour access to the gym using their room card.


Business Travel and Meeting Rooms

Dorsett Shepherds Bush is fantastic for both business and leisure travellers wanting stylish and comfortable accommodation for to enjoy, relax and explore the city of London. The business traveller can make use of the business centre and complimentary Wi-Fi and all guests can enjoy the 24 hour concierge and express checkout service.  Dorsett Shepherds Bush has three spacious meeting rooms, each fully equipped with the latest multimedia technology and wireless internet connectivity.


Located in the heart of vibrant Shepherds Bush in West London, in close proximity to Westfield Shopping Centre, the property is strategically located close to both Shepherds Bush over ground station and tube stations offering guests easy accessibility to Notting Hill, London's West End and major tourist spots, and within a 30 minute drive to Heathrow airport. 


Dorsett Shepherds Bush is offering a special introductory rate of £123 per night until the end of August (This price will be inclusive of VAT and breakfast.)


For bookings and more information on Dorsett Hospitality International, visit

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Air Canada Opens Maple Leaf Lounge at New London Heathrow Terminal 2 Showcasing Canadian Design and Artwork

Air Canada today officially opened its latest International Maple Leaf Lounge at London Heathrow Airport's new Terminal 2, also known as The Queen's Terminal, Departures Area 2B.

Located at Star Alliance's largest airport hub and Air Canada's largest international station, Air Canada's London Heathrow Maple Leaf Lounge is a serene, stylish oasis where eligible Air Canada and Star Alliancecustomers can rest, refuel or refresh before their flight in an inspiring, contemporary environment that is a celebration of Canadian design, artistry and craftsmanship.

AIR CANADA - Air Canada Opens Maple Leaf Lounge
"We are delighted to welcome Air Canada and Star Alliance eligible customers to our new Maple Leaf Lounge at London Heathrow's new Terminal 2," said Craig Landry, Vice President, Marketing at a reception with invited guests to mark today's official opening of the lounge. "Our newest International Maple Leaf Lounge was created as an extension of the overall travel experience for our International Business customers.  Our Heathrow customers will enjoy a calm and inspiring environment in which to work or relax before their Air Canada or connecting Star Alliance flight. We are proud to showcase contemporary Canadian design, artwork and the majestic natural beauty of Canada in our Maple Leaf Lounges."

Designed by Bennett Lo Toronto's award-winning firm dialogue 38 who also designed Air Canada's Frankfurt Maple Leaf Lounge, Air Canada's Heathrow 700-square-metre Maple Leaf Lounge is a home away from home prior to flight, featuring:
  • A Quiet Zone comprising three reclining pods equipped with personal satellite-fed TV screens, USB ports and Sony noise-cancelling headsets
  • Spa-inspired shower area featuring showers with large rain-shower heads, ambient music
  • Business Centre equipped with individual flat-screen Dell PCs, colour laser printing and scanning
  • Complimentary wireless high speed Internet access throughout
  • A cooking station with chef to prepare meals upon request
  • Tended bar with Molson Canadian beer on tap along with a large selection of wines, beer and spirits
  • Bistro-style dining area offering a selection of hot and cold food items
  • Showcasing Canadian art and products from 2Loons a Toronto based design and production house, laminated glass art walls from Accura Glass, Concord, Ontario and Cloud lamp by Frank Gehry among others
  • Hours of operation: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Eligible customers include Air Canada Altitude Super Elite 100K, Elite 75K and Elite 50K members, Star Alliance Gold members and customers travelling in Business Class, who have confirmed same-day travel on a departing Air Canada or Star Alliance flight.

In 2014, Air Canada will operate up to 77 round-trip flights each week between Canada and London Heathrow with non-stop flights to eight destinations across CanadaVancouverEdmontonCalgaryTorontoOttawaMontreal,Halifax and St. John's.
Air Canada's London International Lounge is the airline's 21st Maple Leaf Lounge, and the fourth in Europe, along with departure lounges at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt. In the United States, Air Canada operates Maple Leaf Lounges at Los Angeles International Airport and at New York LaGuardia. 

In Canada, Air Canada has 15 Maple Leaf Lounges at airports across the country. For more information on Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges please visit

Queenstown business community calls on councillors to progress Convention Centre

Queenstown_Aerial_View_at_Dusk2Destination Queenstown and the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce are today urging Queenstown Lakes District councillors to vote in favour of the recommendation that the council approve the next steps in the development of a Convention Centre for Queenstown.

Representing a broad cross section of commercial and industry sectors the two agencies support the resolution to proceed with the development of a world class convention centre for the benefit of the wider community.

Thursday’s affirmative vote will secure the opportunity to continue weighing up the positive benefits to Queenstown and the wider region, including the creation of jobs, attracting high value visitors, driving year round visitation and the establishment of a multi-purpose facility that the community can be proud of -  all which contributes to the wellbeing of our community.

Mark Quickfall, Chairman of Destination Queenstown, believes the Convention Centre on the Lakeview site will be a world class, fit for purpose development in the right location.

Queenstown_Regional_Stand_at_MEETINGS_2014“If we fail to keep this project alive now then we will be stealing this opportunity from our future generations.
Queenstown must strike now and complete full due diligence while central government and the industry are investing in growing the high value convention sector. 

Imagine if Queenstown had voted down the Events Centre all those years ago – it’s hard to believe there was a strong possibility of that happening at the time,” says Mr Quickfall.

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Charlie Phillips, said support for this proposal is not only from the tourism and hospitality sectors but also a wide range of sectors represented by the Chamber.
“We are confident that the benefits to the region’s businesses and community will far outweigh the rate contribution being considered,” says Mr Phillips.

Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour to Launch Exciting New Restaurant Dining Concept

Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour will add a new dimension to the dining scene of Sydney's famous Darling Harbour with the commencement of work today for an exciting new restaurant and dining concept.

This multi-million dollar refurbishment will see the new restaurant and bar area feature three distinctive cuisine offerings: a cosmopolitan Wine Bar and Charcuterie as well as two spectacular kitchen theatres featuring an Asian and OZ grill.
Both Western and Eastern cuisines will be seamlessly fused within the large open dining space in a revolutionary design that will also incorporate unique seating areas for an interactive social experience.
The dramatic transformation will take place in five phases with expected completion in early September.
General Manager Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour Ruwan Peiris said, “We are looking to push the boundaries and move away from the traditional hotel restaurant and dining concept with this transformation.”
“Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour has been an iconic hotel on the Darling Harbour skyline since it opened back in 1991 as Accor's first Australian hotel. With this innovative restaurant and dining concept, Novotel Darling Harbour is yet again setting the pace in Australia for Accor.”
“Coupled with the unbeatable location and stunning views of the Sydney skyline, Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour will be a must-visit for anyone wanting a great night out at Darling Harbour.”
Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour Executive Chef Anthony Flowers is spearheading the culinary direction of the new dining concept. The UK-born Chef is well-known on the Sydney dining scene having been in Sydney for the past 22 years and joined the hotel last August.
During this period of refurbishment, it is business as usual as the hotel will continue to offer the same 24-hour food & beverage services to guests. The restaurant will be temporarily relocated to the Terrace Rooms on level 1.
For more information, visit

Tauck Launches the ms Savor

Tauck Chairman Arthur Tauck, Jr., ms Savor Godmother
 Liz Tauck Walters and Captain Michael Szekely 
Some 20 members of the Tauck family spanning three generations joined Tauck company executives, journalists, special guests and local dignitaries in Bingen am Rhein, Germany on Saturday, the 21st June 2014, to christen Tauck’s newest riverboat, the ms Savor. ms Savor is Tauck’s second New Inspiration Class Riverboat, along ms Inspire, means that Tauck has boosted its river cruising capacity by 55% this year.

European river cruising continues to be the fastest growing segment of Tauck’s business, the company routinely sells out its cabin inventory each year, and demand has been further bolstered by Tauck being named the “World’s Best River Cruise Line” twice in the past three years by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.


The ms Savor and ms Inspire together comprise Tauck’s new Inspiration Class ships, and they join Tauck’s four existing Jewel Class ships, the ms Treasures, ms Swiss Jewel, ms Swiss Sapphire and ms Swiss Emerald. Like the Jewel Class ships, the Inspiration Class vessels carry far fewer passengers – yet they have far more service staff – than ships of the same size operated by other river cruise lines. Where the 443-foot-long Inspiration Class ships carry just 130 guests, other lines’ ships of the same length carry 190 passengers, or 46% more guests. And where other lines have just one cruise director to tend to the needs of those 190 guests, Tauck staffs each ship with a Tauck Cruise Director and three professional Tauck Directors to care for 130 guests.

Also notable on the Savor and Inspire are the eight “loft” cabins located on each ship’s lower (Emerald) deck. On other European riverboats the lower-level cabins are small, and because they’re mostly below the ships’ waterlines, they’re limited to modest, sealed windows at eye level that admit minimal sunlight and zero fresh air. Tauck’s 225-square-foot loft cabins, however, have a raised platform seating area located against the ships’ hull/outer wall with a correspondingly higher ceiling immediately above. The higher ceiling in turn allows the use of a much taller window than can normally be incorporated into lower-level cabins. The middle portion of this window can be opened electronically for fresh air, and being taller, the window allows far more natural light to fill the cabin.

Each of the new Inspiration Class ships also has twenty-two 300 square foot suites furnished with two French balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows, a pull-out couch, roomy walk-in closets with built-in drawers, and a spacious bathroom with rain shower. Along with the suites, the newbuilds also have thirty-two 225 square foot cabins, plus an additional thirteen cabins ranging from 150 to 190 square feet. In keeping with Tauck’s policy of welcoming solo travelers, four of the 150 square foot cabins are set aside for guests traveling on their own. All suites and cabins feature in-room movies, minibar, individual heating and cooling controls, luxury toiletries, and plush bedding with 100% goose down pillows, 400-thread-count linens and pillow-top mattresses.

For 2014, the ms Savor will sail on two Tauck itineraries, “The Blue Danube” (12 days, from $4,790 per person plus airfare) and “Danube Reflections” (10 days, from $4,590 per person plus airfare). Like all Tauck river cruises, both itineraries aboard the ms Savor are fully inclusive.

Besides launching two new ships, Tauck is also launching four new river cruise itineraries this year, including its first on the River Seine in France. Tauck will launch two additional river cruises in 2015, the 23-day “Belle Epoch: London to Monte-Carlo” on the Seine, Saône and Rhône rivers, and the 8-day “Castles on the Rhine: Family Riverboat Adventure.” The latter itinerary is the third river cruise created specifically for families by Tauck, which has twice been named the "World's Best River Cruise Line for Families" by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Club Med Unveils First Mediterranean-Style Luxury Beach Resort in China

Further affirming its commitment to providing the ultimate all-inclusive holiday experience, Club Med unveils its newest luxury Resort, Club Med Dong'ao Island, opening June 2014.

The first of its kind, Dong'ao Island offers visitors an idyllic, Mediterranean-style beach setting on an exclusive island neighbouring Hong Kong and Macau. The Resort will feature two zones: a Premium Club Med Resort and an exclusive 5 Trident Luxury Space.

Club Med Dong'ao Island boasts picturesque beaches, unspoilt natural surroundings and is situated to the southeast of Zhuhai in China's Guangdong Province. Its exclusive location on the west side of the island boasts 15km of coastline, the magnificent diamond beach and azure waters surrounded by lush, green forest.
The chic, contemporary design of the Resort complements its surroundings, drawing inspiration from the sea, coastline and clouds. The palette of the décor reflects the colourful underwater world of the marine life on the island, with large windows, which give guests the pleasure of full views of the ocean and plush gardens.

The jewel in the crown of this premium island escape is the launch of the new, exclusive 5 Trident Luxury Space, specifically designed for guests seeking the ultimate in privacy and indulgence encapsulated within the vibrant Club Med spirit. Visitors can enjoy personalised services and lavish amenities including complimentary in-room catering, free-flowing champagne in the contemporary ambience of the Starry Bar, concierge service, an outdoor infinity pool overlooking ocean vistas and more.

As always, guests can experience an extensive variety of activities and international cuisines within the Club Med all-inclusive package at Dong'ao Island. The wide variety of sea and land sports available include sailing, water skiing, biking and flying trapeze, while dining options include the gourmet international buffet, a la carte seafood restaurant, specialising in the delicacies of the South China sea and a French Café with chic ambiance and terrace views overlooking the ocean. To meet the needs of every guest, visitors can enjoy open bar service at any of the four bars located throughout the resort, as well as access to three different pools; indoor, outdoor and kid's.

In addition to its position as the first Mediterranean-style beach Resort in China, Dong'ao Island's convenient proximity to Hong Kong and Macau offers travellers the unique opportunity to take advantage of these metropolitan shopping meccas while also embarking on a relaxing, beachside holiday.

Families will be well looked after with dedicated Kids' Children's Clubs for specific age groups staffed by the experienced international Club Med G.O. team. Opening later this year, kids can have a splash at the kids-only themed zone, 'Marine World' which features a colourful waterpark, mini climbing wall and playground to keep them busy - leaving parents to explore the other vibrant offerings on the island.

Madeleine Clow, Club Med Australia and New Zealand General Manager, says: “Our focus on providing holiday-makers with increasingly upmarket and diverse Resort offerings continues with the launch of Club Med Dong'ao Island. This unique Chinese beach-style Resort adds a new string to our bow of ever-evolving holiday offerings, and provides travellers an Oceanside retreat within close distance to the big-city stopover destinations of Hong Kong and Macau – the best of both worlds.

“The 5 Trident Luxury Space concept at our first-ever Island Resort in China affords guests the ability to enjoy exclusivity, lavish services and accommodation, all within an all-inclusive Resort package.”
For bookings and enquiries, call Club Med on 1800 258 263 or

TAT & Nat Geo Launches The Beach Long Form Programme to Promote Thailands Tourism

Thailand’s magnificent beaches were the focus of an hour-long documentary broadcast by National Geographic TV channel worldwide on 20 June, 2014. The programme marks the start of marketing campaigns to be launched by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to help the travel and tourism sector make a quick recovery from the impact of the recent political unrest.

Appropriately entitled “The Beach,” the TAT-supported documentary presented the story of Thailand’s beaches as depicted through the eyes and perspective of Mr. Ben Horton, a Nat Geo emerging explorer and professional photographer.

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Mr. Horton travelled to Phra Nang, Ao Nang, Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phangan and Hua Hin, covering beaches along the coastlines of both the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand, to capture their pristine beauty and record the experiences of both foreigners and local Thai people.

“The Beach” was broadcast over Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, China, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, India, Europe and Abu Dhabi.

After being intensively promoted via 4,087 spots, the National Geographic estimates that the documentary was seen in over 245 million households across Europe, Asia and the Middle East regions. It will be shown 57 times overall. TAT will also distribute it at all international travel trade shows in a DVD format over the next 12 months.

In Thailand, it was aired on TV Nat Geo and True Vision channel 569.

TAT Governor Thawatchai Arunyik said, “Due to the political unrest in the first quarter of 2014, we had suspended all advertising in global media and replaced it with stepped up public relations and social media activities to boost visitor confidence. Now that the situation has stabilised, we are ready to resume our global campaigns.”

“As such, the timing of the National Geographic documentary offered a perfect start for the relaunch. Thailand’s wonderful beach resorts are our most popular tourism asset. The documentary offered the world a very good reminder of the fact that Thailand is back to normal and ready to welcome visitors.”
In his photo essay, Mr. Horton describes Thailand’s beaches as “relaxing”, “unspoilt” and even a part of the “search for spirituality.”

He says, “In my travels, in my photographs, in my search…, I’m sure I will come across many answers… Paradise, as a place could be equal parts of the geography and landscape… But one of the things that makes each place special and unique…is its people. “Amazing Thailand, It Begins with the People…”
The promotional trailer of “The Beach” can be seen here:

Sunreef Mooloolaba Launches Swimming With Humpback Whales

SUNREEF Mooloolaba is launching an Australian first – the opportunity to swim with the captivating 
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Australians have long had a love affair with these gentle giants and now people have the opportunity to see them from a very different perspective on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Sunreef Whale Encounter Supervisor Dan Hart said Sunreef was excited to be offering this great experience.

“I swam with humpback whales in Tonga and it is something very special.

“It’s a life changing experience – to have a humpback whale just a couple of metres away looking you right in the eye.  It’s indescribable.  

“It gives you such a sense of these amazing creatures and we are excited to be able to offer it to everyone.”

Dan said the swimming with whales experience was operated under a strict Code of Conduct to protect both the whales and the participants.

Participants who take part in a swim with the humpback whales experience can expect a three-hour round trip with a maximum of 20 participants taken on each trip.

Dan said Sunreef provide a full briefing on what to expect and safety procedures as well as providing all required wetsuit and snorkeling equipment.

Once a whale is sighted, the boat will be put into neutral 100m or more away from the whale, and if the conditions are determined as safe by our trained crew, the boat will be turned off and swimmers will be allowed into the water holding on to the floating line attached to the boat.

“Then it’s all up to the whale – it is a natural experience and it is 100% on the whale’s own terms,” Dan said.

“Whales are known as curious creatures so they may come over towards us or they may just swim past or away.  Either way it’s an experience you will never forget.

“In our experience, the whales seem as intrigued by us as we are of them and often come close to swimmers, gliding effortlessly around us, with such a gentleness that its like they recognise our fragility in comparison and know we are there out of wonder and respect,” Dan said.

“Our first Swim with the Whales experiences will run from the 6th of July and we will continue to offer them throughout the season,” Dan said.

Dan said that every day is different on the water, and every encounter is unique.

Sunreef have access to a spotter plane to increase the likelihood of participants whale encounter.  If however, the boat does not see a whale during a tour, guests will be offered the opportunity to rebook at a 50% discount.

Sunreef is a PADI 5 Star Training Centre and offers accredited dive courses for all levels of divers as well as local reef dives in the Sunshine Coast region including the ex-HMAS Brisbane and offers international dive trips and travel as well as dive equipment sales and servicing.

The whale swimming and watching operations work out of Mooloolaba at the heart of Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast.

It takes about 10 minutes from the Sunreef dock to get out on the beautiful waters off the Coast, which are at their best during the winter months when the whales migrate.  Water temperatures during this time range from 17 to 23 degrees C and visibility is regularly up to 30 metres.

Sunreef Scuba Diving Services, based in Mooloolaba is the longest established dive centre on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland, Australia) with roots starting back in 1976.

For more information on Sunreef and swimming with the whales or call 07 5444 5656.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places