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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

P&O Cruises Banishes the Buffet to Start a Food Revolution

In one of the biggest transformations in Australian cruising, P&O Cruises has announced a food revolution that will see buffets banished from its latest cruise ships.

As part of a major overhaul of dining at sea, the cruise line has revealed that both Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden will feature its largest ever array of restaurant offerings when they join its fleet in November 2015 – including a market place of fresh food outlets replacing the traditional cruise buffet.

To be known as The Pantry, the new area will offer a variety of food outlets including a gourmet delicatessen, fresh fish and chips and modern cuisine restaurants. Guests will able to enjoy their meals in a stylish setting featuring high tables, communal benches and comfortable banquettes.

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Unveiling details of Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria, P&O Cruises Senior Vice President Tammy Marshall said The Pantry would take dining at sea into new waters.
“It will be a haven for food lovers, with a contemporary relaxed vibe as guests indulge and discover what’s in The Pantry,” Ms Marshall said.

Speaking at the World’s Leading Cruise Lines Summit with key travel agents on the weekend, Ms Marshall said the latest ships would each offer 15 bars, restaurants and cafes.

“Guests on Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden will enjoy a dining experience like no other, with our fresh food and stunning décor transforming the way cruise guests dine at sea.”

New additions include Dragon Lady, serving Pan-Asian cuisine in a sultry setting featuring dark timbers and midnight blue furnishings, and an elegant Italian restaurant Angelo’s, named after photographer Angelo Frontoni, and offering traditional food with undeniable Italian flair.

Guests will also be able to indulge at the ships’ Open Kitchen featuring a culinary school as well as dining, while a dedicated Chef’s Table dining area will be available for a more intimate experience.

The popular Salt Grill by Luke Mangan restaurant – already featured on P&O Cruises’ existing fleet of Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Dawn – will be served with a twist on Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden, with the inclusion of Salt Grill Bar offering sophisticated Luke Mangan cocktails.

Meanwhile a new Cellar Door will provide guests a boutique winery experience, with an opportunity to taste the wines onboard and pre-order for dinner.

Ms Marshall said the dramatic new look and feel of the ships would extend to the pool area, with day beds, sheer white curtains and outdoor rugs and lamps providing a luxury residential feel and a great setting for entertainment day or night.

Elements of the latest ships’ features will be introduced across the existing fleet, with Pacific Jewel to have The Pantry added during a dry dock next year.

Meanwhile Pacific Dawn’s pool area will be transformed with a new resort look in December this year as part of a major refit which will also include the installation of a P&OEdge Adventure Park, building on the success of the original adrenalin experiences launched on Pacific Jewel last year.

One of Australia’s largest pools receives makeover at Oaks Pacific Blue Resort, Port Stephens

Renowned for its pristine waterways, secluded beaches and laid back, coastal vibe, Port Stephens 
Oaks Pacific Blue Resort 2promises a year round, idyllic holiday haven.

But what many travellers may not know is that this beachside paradise is also home to one of Australia’s best hotel pools, located at popular local resort Oaks Pacific Blue Resort. And this giant 500-metre attraction has recently received an extensive makeover just in time for summer.

Thought to be Australia’s longest pool and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, this splashtacular facility has recently welcomed comprehensive refurbishments to the complete length of the pool, including recoating and resurfacing, and the draining and refilling of an incredible 3.5 million litres of water.

Now boasting a fresh new look, this sparkling jewel is expertly cleaned by 6 x 2 tonne sand filters and driven by 4 x 25 horsepower pumps. And at 0.9-metres deep, it’s perfect for kids but also blissful bathing, and has over 3000sqm of pool floor to explore!

Another bonus is all hotel facilities can be accessed directly from the pool, making this one aquatic holiday you will definitely want to pack your swimmers for!

Oaks Pacific Blue ResortSurrounded by lush, tropical gardens, Oaks Pacific Blue Resort comprises luxurious studio, one and two bedroom apartments, some with popular swim-outs or two and three bedroom townhouses with their own private plunge pools. There’s also the choice of a premium hotel room for those that want something a bit more cosy, but if spacious is what you are after, the apartments all have full kitchen facilities, modern decor, reverse cycle air-conditioning and direct access to the piece de resistance – the iconic pool.

This tranquil resort also features lush grass areas, heated spa, 25-metre heated lap pool, gym and tennis courts.

Suited to families, couples and large groups, Oaks Pacific Blue Resort is only a short drive to the picturesque beach community of Nelson Bay and just an easy 2.5 hours drive from Sydney.

Hot summer rates start from $109 per night* for a hotel room or $139 per night* for a one bedroom apartment, with a minimum two-night stay.

TAT presented Thailand as a Platinum Sponsor for Miss Universe New Zealand 2014

unnamed (3)The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has recently presented Thailand as one of the Platinum Sponsors for the Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 beauty contest that saw Ms. Rachel Millns being crowned on 18 September, 2014, at the Sky City Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand.

Ms. Millns was among the top 25 finalists for the Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 that were hosted to a week-long retreat programme in Thailand by TAT during 1-7 August, 2014. The 25 young beauty queens were given a taste of Thai culture and encouraged to see the sights of majestic Bangkok before enjoying the ever-exciting city of Pattaya.

Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of TAT said, “Our heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Rachel Millns who was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 in a grand ceremony witnessed by His Excellency Noppadon Theppitak, Thai Ambassador to New Zealand, Ms. Rujiras Chatchalermkit, Director of TAT Sydney Office, and Ms. Chalita Yaemwannang, Miss Universe Thailand 2013.


“I am pleased to share that Ms. Millns was among the 25 charming finalists for the Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 who enjoyed some of the activities that guests to Thailand can try every day. From learning to cook fine Thai food, to enjoying the delights and bustle of Bangkok and enjoying the beach, there is much to experience in the kingdom, and we hope these ladies had as much fun as the millions of tourists who visit every year.”

The Miss Universe New Zealand 2014 finalists toured Bangkok’s most visited tourist attractions, the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.  They also saw Thailand’s most celebrated martial art show, the Muay Thai Live – The Legend Lives, Bangkok’s hottest destination, unnamed (4)Asiatique the Riverfront, and enjoyed arts and crafts at Sampran Riverside in Nakhon Pathom. At the Issaya Cooking Studio in Central Embassy, they learned the basics of Thai cooking before taking in sunset views of the city from Sofitel So.

The finalists then visited Pattaya for two nights, and marvelled at the amazing crafts and architectural works of the Sanctuary of Truth, an attraction which recreates the best of Buddhist and Hindu arts.  They also delighted at the children at the Father Ray Foundation Orphanage Home by stopping by to play games.

Mr. Thawatchai said, “We hope that the finalists for the beauty pageant left the kingdom impressed with the hospitality of their hosts and the warm welcome they had received in the Land of Smiles. To that extent, the pictures of them enjoying their time in Thailand and their word of mouth about how wonderful Thailand is will surely help to attract the interest of travellers from New Zealand who also want to experience the amazing Thai culture and attractions.”

Stay at Accor ibis Singapore Bencoolen's 'Room With Extra Benefits' and Save on Roaming Charges

International travellers are frequently shocked to discover their global roaming charges are sometimes higher than the cost of their hotel room. But ibis Singapore on Bencoolen comes to the rescue with its handy™ smartphone provided to guests who stay in a Room with Extra Benefits. This means guests can enjoy unlimited 3G internet, local and international calls, and a complete city guide to Singapore with the phone which can be used throughout their stay both inside and outside the hotel as they explore Singapore.

As part of Accor's Planet 21 program, handy™ supports efforts to be more sustainable, by reducing the need for printed materials, such as in-room directories, and providing useful information about the hotel's full range of green facilities in addition to offering guests great connectivity throughout their stay.

Located in the heart of the city and close to the best attractions, shopping, dining and entertainment, ibis Singapore Bencoolen is constantly finding new innovations to improve the guest experience.

The handy™ smartphones are available, at no additional costs to guests staying in these rooms. Also included are several green amenities including recycling bins, meters to help guests measure their water consumption, access to a complimentary Bamboo Bike and EZ-link card to help them minimize their carbon print as they explore the island. The handy™ phone is loaded with the city's best attractions, bars, restaurants and activities, thus reducing hefty download bills that are often associated with traveling, while also ensuring that guests get the most out of their stay.

Planet 21 is structured around 21 commitments backed by quantifiable objectives that all hotels must meet including innovative programs to inform and encourage guests to get involved. One of PLANET 21's most innovative initiatives is Plant for the Planet, a unique reforestation project financed through laundry cost savings. The premise of the program is simple: when guests stay more than one night in any of 1,500 participating Accor hotels – including all hotels in Singapore – they are invited to reuse their towels. As a 'thank you', the hotel invests a portion of the cost savings into one of 21 tree plantation projects worldwide, including in Thailand, Indonesia, China, Japan, Vietnam and New Zealand. Today, Accor finances over 2,000 trees daily and since 2009 has planted over 3.5 million trees worldwide.

”At ibis Singapore on Bencoolen, we are committed to maintaining sustainable hotel operations. We are leading the way in offering guests greener and environmentally friendlier amenities and with handy™, we are able to inform and stay in touch with guests through an innovative smartphone platform that is integrated with our hotel features. We look forward to achieving significant reductions in printing and paper waste through the handy™ phone, our new form digital communication channel,” said General Manager, Mr. Pierre de Montgrand.

Planet 21 is at the center of Accor's DNA and the hotel group is committed to reducing its environmental impact, contributing to the communities in which it operates and offering staff a range of wellness and education planted over 3.5 million trees worldwide.

handy™ devices are customized specifically for the hotel and come fully-loaded with information about Bencoolen and its surrounding neighborhoods, so guests staying at the hotel will have access to all the local information needed at their fingertips.

handy™ is excited to partner with ibis Singapore on Bencoolen providing guests with seamless connectivity during their travels, as well, help the hotel achieve their green innovation efforts.” said Terence Kwok, CEO of Tink Labs.

handy™ is the pioneer product of Tink Labs founded and established in Hong Kong in April 2012. The company is Hong Kong's first technology incubator of mobile travel solutions, revolutionising and simplifying the travel experience. handy™ provides hotel partners and guests with an unrivalled hotel experience through its latest smartphone platform.

Features of handy™ include:

  • Unlimited 3G internet
  • Unlimited local calls
  • Unlimited international calls (to 26 countries on both fixed line and mobile lines from Singapore)

1. Australia
2. Bangladesh
3. Brunei
4. Canada
5. China
6. France
7. Germany
8. Hong Kong
9. India
10. Indonesia
11. Italy
12. Japan
13. Laos
14. Macau
15. Malaysia
16. Netherlands
17. New Zealand
18. Puerto Rico
19. Russia
20. South Korea
21. Spain
22. Taiwan
23. Thailand
24. United Kingdom
25. United States of America
26. Vietnam

  • Local city guide with proprietary content sourced by an in-house team of locals, as well as guest content from well-respected local editors
  • Discounts and deals with participating merchant partners

Sydney wins award as world's best festival and event city

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Chipchase has announced that Sydney has once again been named as a world's best festival and event city.

It is the 5th time Sydney has been bestowed the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA) World Festival and Event City Award, announced at this year's IFEA 59th Annual Convention and Expo in Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

“This award is a source of great pride for Sydney and demonstrates the Harbour City's position as one of the world's leading destination for tourism and events,” Ms Chipchase said.

“Securing major events has been a priority for Destination NSW, the Government's tourism and major events agency, as we work towards achieving our goal of doubling overnight visitor expenditure by 2020.”

This award comes off the back of a string of major event investments and wins secured by Destination NSW, including:

  • The 2014 Opening Series of Major League Baseball
  • The Bledisloe Cup ten year deal, where at least one Bledisloe Cup game will be played in Sydney each year from 2012 to 2021
  • International soccer giants Juventus vs A League All Stars
  • FFA Friendly – Socceroos vs South Africa
  • State of Origin and the National Rugby League Grand Final Week
  • Sydney International Art Series – Yoko Ono: War is Over! (if you want it) and America: Painting a Nation
  • Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour and securing of the event for a further three years from 2015
  • The Australian premiere of the Lion King and Matilda the Musical opening in 2015 plus the world premiere of Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom the Musical
  • Australian Open of Surfing at Manly and Bowl-A-Rama at Bondi Beach
  • Vivid Sydney, the Southern Hemisphere's largest festival of light, music and ideas, owned and managed by Destination NSW.

“We can all be proud of the recognition Sydney has received, placing it in its rightful position as the major events capital of Australia,” she said.

“Since Destination NSW was created, we have been focused on developing the Sydney and NSW Events Calendar as the most compelling in Australia and this award proves that we are achieving that goal.

“Sydney is Australia's global city. In the year ending June 2014, Sydney welcomed 32.5 million visitors who not only experienced the excellent events on offer but also our city's beautiful beaches, park, food and wine, galleries and museums, shopping and other great attractions,” she said.

President and CEO of IFEA, Steven Schmader said the international panel of judges noted that among the many great world cities considered for the award and recognition, Sydney consistently stands out as a leader in all that they do.

“Uniquely, Sydney is the only city to have received the award every year since its inception, five years ago. I believe that is a statement and a tribute to the level of quality and professionalism – by both city and events - that you have dedicated yourselves to and, by achieving, set as an example for your global peers to aspire to” Mr Schmader said.

Crowne Plaza Norwest Sydney rebranded to Novotel Sydney Norwest

Accor has grown its Western Sydney presence following a managerial takeover of the Crowne Plaza Norwest Sydney in April.

The hotel has just completed its rebranding to Novotel Sydney Norwest and will officially launch this evening, with David Elliott MP, Local Member for Baulkham Hills as well as Clr Andrew Jefferies, Mayor of The Hills Shire Council in attendance.

Located in the thriving business community of Norwest Business Park, the hotel has easy access to Sydney CBD, which is a 40 minutes drive and Parramatta just 15 minutes away.

Nestled within beautifully landscaped gardens with a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere, Novotel Sydney Norwest is the ideal accommodation choice to meet the needs of both business and leisure travellers.

The 132 room hotel boasts well appointed guestrooms including balcony and spa rooms. In addition, there are a number of excellent facilities, including a restaurant and a bar, outdoor swimming pool, gym and conferencing facilities for up to 300 people.

The rebranding will see the hotel offer Meeting@Novotel conferencing that promises instant availability, hassle-free, bespoke solutions, dedicated support and well-being.

In addition, the F&B direction has been transformed with a focus on delicious, high quality offerings. F&B experts from around the Accor network were involved in reshaping the new direction, launching new menus that offer quality cuisine for both hotel guests and Hills District locals.

Novotel Sydney Norwest is the 28th Novotel hotel in Australia, joining the Asia Pacific Novotel network of over 100 hotels, with over 25,000 rooms.

For more information, please visit

Monday, September 29, 2014

Conrad Koh Samui Named Leading Green Resort Hotel of Asia by 2014 Asia Hotel Awards

Thailand’s luxury pool villa resort and spa, Conrad Koh Samui is pleased to announce the wining of ‘Leading Green Resort Hotel of Asia’ by 2014 Asia Hotel Awards.

The announcement was made recently at the Asia Hotel Forum 2014, the famous international hotel investment summit held in Beijing, China.

Conrad Koh Samui Resort & Spa 1
The 7th Asia Hotel Awards were annually judged by hundreds of elites, hotel owners, hotel group representatives, designers and media partners around the world. Conrad Koh Samui was awarded the prestigious ‘Leading Green Hotel of Asia’ award in recognition of the resort’s commitment to green and sustainable practices while delivering great guest experiences, outstanding services and best-of-class facilities for luxury travellers.
Commenting on receiving the award, Stefano Ruzza, general manager of Conrad Koh Samui said, “We are acutely aware of the impact our business has on the health of this planet, and the great potential we have to make a real difference for future generations of our guests, owners and Team Members. This is whyLiving Sustainably is a cornerstone of our global corporate responsibility commitment, Travel with Purpose®. We use our proprietary measurement tool LightStay to analyse, report and improve our resort’s sustainability performance, and use of natural resources. We also remain committed to a number of local environmental protection programs including coconut and mangrove forest planting, the release of baby blue crabs into the ocean, and weekly beach cleaning. These opportunities enable our team members to engage the local community and our guests, and deepen our collective awareness and participation in Living Sustainably”.

Conrad Koh Samui Resort & Spa 2Conrad Koh Samui is one of the world’s most unique and innovative luxury resorts, blending luxury and technology with artistry and expertise. All luxurious villas are furnished with original artwork and artefacts, providing guests with an innate sense of contemporary Thailand and offering incredible choices of culinary delights and luxurious spa experience to fulfill guest’s every desire.

For reservations, please send your enquiry to or visit our website at For further information on Conrad Koh Samui and become a fan, visit, or follow the hotel on Twitter @ConradKohSamui and Instagram @conradkohsamui.

New hiking trails in Swaziland

After the successful introduction of the Lubombo Eco-Trails, three new community hiking routes have been opened to the public in Swaziland.

They begin in the picturesque location of Maguga Lodge in the heart of the HhohhoRegion, and give visitors the chance to absorb the stunningly unique landscape and culture of Swaziland.

The first hike explores the Gap and Swazi Culture, introducing hikers to the traditional culture of Swazi life, an interpretation of Swaziland’s oldest rock art and a visual spectacle of rock and river formation.  

Carrying on from Maguga Lodge the trail continues to an authentic Swazi homestead before following the Komati River through dense riverine beneath a canopy of wild fig trees. The tour then continues towards the world renowned Nsangwini Rock Art. Dating back 4000 years, Nsangwini contains the most diverse subject matter than any rock art found since. Here, the trail follows the Komati river once more, over the suspension bridge to Esicancweni: the Gap, where the river plunges down a meter width channel and disappears. The area is quite truly an amazing spectacle of potholes, rock sculptures and channels carved out by millions of years of water flow, a testament to the power of nature.  Read more here.

If you’re interest lies predominantly in the Nsangwini Rock Art, the second hike available is more specific to this natural marvel. Starting with a gentle hike through the luscious growth of the Komati Valley, the hike increases to a steep incline as you get to the mouth of the cave. To this day, the paintings are still remarkably clear. Guests will be met by members of the Nsangwini community who provide informative interpretations of the art. This stunning area gives opportunity to truly step back in time, when wild creatures roamed a land unfetted by power lines, roads, dams and the trappings of modern living; a land where people competed with nature to survive. Nsangwini Rock is a great example of one of the places these people recorded their experiences, visions and dreams, all perfectly preserved by the surrounding Makhonjwa Mountains.

If you are more interested rock formation and amazing spectacles of the Gap, the third hike take you directly there, missing out the culture.

All bookings are made through Maguga Lodge with rates include a light lunch at the Lodge itself, with profits from the trails being invested straight back into the Swazi Community. Both trails offer visitors the chance to truly immerse themselves in all the wonderfully unique and breath-taking landscape and culture only seen in Swaziland.

The Bachelor Australia Falls in Love…with South Africa

South African Tourism and South African Airways have partnered with  Shine Australia andNetwork Ten, to bring Australians the final two episodes of The Bachelor Australia from South Africa; a stunning setting to fall in love in, and to fall in love with.

Lisa and Blake on their romantic date at the 5-Star Twelve Apostles Hotel in Cape Town.

Viewers were treated to a sneak peak at the end of last night’s episode and next week, Australians will be able to watch as Blake takes each girl on the most picturesque, adventurous and romantic dates across land, air and sea in and around Cape Town, and staying at the luxurious Table Bay Hotel and Ivory Tree Lodge within Pilanesburg Game Reserve.

South African Tourism’s General Manager of Australasia, Lalie Ngozi, is delighted Australians can get a glimpse into her beautiful country and the many amazing experiences it has to offer.

Louise and Blake enjoy South Africa's world-class wines at Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch - low res

“With stunning scenery, wildlife and sunsets that take your breath away, along with warm people to melt your heart and once-in-a-lifetime experiences you’ll never forget, what better place to find that one special person to spend the rest of your life with?” said Ms Ngozi.

"I'm thrilled Blake and the girls were able to meet South Africa and I am looking forward to watching them fall in love with the country, as so many Australians have over the years.”

With Australia watching, Blake and the lucky girls will discover one of the Seven Wonders of Nature - Table Mountain, explore the world-renowned Cape wine lands, experience local communities and charities such as Afrika Tikkun of which Nelson Mandela was chief patron, dive with great white sharks and enjoy unforgettable safaris in Pilanesburg Game Reserve.

Sam and Blake enjoy a day on the ocean taking in the stunning views of Cape Town from luxurious Super Yacht, Princess Emma

To celebrate the final two episodes being filmed in South Africa, South African Tourism has developed a package so Australians have an opportunity to travel like the Bachelor and Bachelorettes and see the best of South Africa. TheRomance of South Africa Package offers travellers the perfect balance of sun, safari and city, taking them on romantic, luxurious and ultimately life-changing experiences.

South African Airways is also offering the perfect match to this romantic package with Economy Class return airfares to South Africa for only $1,575 from Perth, $1,586 from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and $1,589 from Adelaide.

"Now is the time to book that honeymoon or romantic holiday; or even a fun girls’ or guys’ trip away where you can relive all the magic from The Bachelor," concluded Ms Ngozi.

To book this exciting package visit here. For the SAA deal, flights and full conditions visit your local travel agent or

To discover more of what The Bachelor and final girls got up to in the Rainbow Nation, become a fan of South African Tourism’s Facebook page, South African Tourism AU, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Insightful night as MTA earns National Elite Agency Status

Pictured, MTA co-managing director, Karen Merricks receiving a National Elite Agency Award from Insight Vacations managing director, Joost Timmer at the tour operators High Achievers Awards dinner in Brisbane.

This is the second year running MTA has received the accolade and positions MTA as a member of a very special club with just six agency groups having been awarded National Elite Agency status by Insight Vacations.

It was a big night for MTA with the company also picking up a second award to mark its achievement in becoming one of Insight Vacation's top three best product sellers.

Adding further icing to the cake, MTA Members Lisa Murphy and Marian Stanley also scored Insight Vacations 2015 tours for two as part of the wholesaler's latest national product launches in Adelaide and Melbourne, respectively.



Friday, September 26, 2014

Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok Voted The Best Of The Best In Condé Nast Traveller, UK, Readers’ Travel Awards

Exterior of Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok
The legendary, 138-year-old Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok recently clinched the top spot on “The World’s Top 100” list in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveller, United Kingdom, magazine’s 2014 Readers’ Travel Awards. 

The hotel was also voted the “Best Overseas Holiday Hotel” in Asia and India.

In an accompanying editorial in the October issue, the magazine states, “This year Mandarin Oriental Bangkok was so ahead of the game in Asia and India, it was propelled to the number one spot in our ‘best of the best’ Top 100.  You raved about its food and service, and also singled it out for atmosphere...”  The magazine’s readers voted in 23 categories, ranging from countries, islands and overseas cities to airports, airlines and cruise lines, to determine the category winners and ultimately the Top 100 across all categories.  Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok achieved the highest rating at 95.18 percent overall level of satisfaction.

Commenting on Condé Nast Traveller, United Kingdom’s 2014 Readers’ Travel Awards, Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s General Manager, Amanda Hyndman, praised her team, saying that this exceptional recognition by discerning travellers stands as a testament to their pride, personal dedication and commitment to be the best.  “Our colleagues, affectionately known as The Oriental Family, exemplify the heartfelt hospitality and service excellence that lie at the core of the legendary Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok.”

To experience Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok’s exemplary service, rooms and dining, the hotel introduced “Legends of The Orient”, an exclusive offer that gives travellers an extra day to explore the legendary landmarks of one of the world’s most exciting cities.  Guests booking a two-night stay at Bangkok’s celebrated La Grande Dame will receive a complimentary third night.

For more information or to make a reservation, please visit or call +66 (2) 659 9000.

Aussies spill the beans on the white lies which get them a flight upgrade

According to recent travel and lifestyle data by many Australian’s are willing to test the boundaries when it comes securing a flight upgrade, with 16% of people admitting to have spun a white lie in order to score an upgrade into business or first class.

From the slightly cheeky to slightly disturbing excuses, Aussie’s have claimed everything from weddings  to severe health issues in order to gain access to the front of the plane. Of those who have made up a lie to receive an upgrade, almost half (44%) said their excuse worked.
Some of the false tales (which worked) include:
  • Claiming to be newlyweds on honeymoon
  • Being afraid of flying
  • Claiming to be attending a funeral
  • Claiming to be a bride enroute to her own wedding
  • Claiming to have cancer
  • Pretending to be pregnant with morning sickness
  • Faking a severe leg injury
According to spokesperson Louise Ryan, the survey of 5700 people identified that many were willing to do whatever it takes to secure an upgrade to the pointy end of the plane.
“Some Aussies are happy to go to all lengths in order to get an upgrade, however there are definitely more legit methods to securing a better seat, such as becoming a frequent flyer with a certain airline, getting to the airport early, or travelling off peak times.

“Alternatively, treat yourself and buy a one off business class ticket, that way you are guaranteed to secure your comfy seat, gourmet meal and celebratory glass of champagne ” said Louise Ryan.
Want to indulge on a business class flight? has some fantastic 2015 earlybird airfares to Europe now on sale. Visit

Introducing Silversea’s 2014/15 Asian Voyages

Silversea has unveiled a 2014/15 Asian brochure showcasing a selection of voyages that explore the image013hidden corners of this enriching destination.

The ultra-luxury cruise line offers itineraries ranging from nine to 17 days departing between December 2014 and March 2015.

Guests will have the opportunity to explore Thailand’s exquisite white beaches, indulge in the tantalising cuisine of Vietnam and Malaysia or discover Myanmar, one of the world’s very few untouched destinations.

Karen Christensen, General Manager & Director Sales / Marketing, Australasia, explains that the itineraries through Asia provide guests with a cultural glimpse of what this close-to-home region has to offer.

“Our voyages are meticulously crafted to showcase both the highlights and unexpected wonders that make this destination unique.  Whether it’s sailing along the stunning coastline of Vietnam through Halong Bay, experiencing the bustling streets of Hong Kong or discovering the historical treasures of India, there is an itinerary to suit every Silversea guest,” says Christensen.

The 2014/15 all-inclusive voyages provide an extensive range of sailings in Asia, on board Silver Wind and Silver Whisper.  These boutique vessels feature all-suite, ocean-view suites and provide an intimate experience by accommodating only 296 and 382 guests respectively.  Plus, Silversea’s ‘Traditions & Treasures’ Grand Voyage is an epic 26 day journey of discovery sailing from Hong Kong to Muscat.

Silversea’s fares include all-suite accommodation with butler service, gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux, complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ship, and all gratuities. Nine day voyage fares start from AU$4,150 per person double occupancy.

Copies of the new Asia brochure are now available at

For more information, contact Silversea Cruises on+61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 or visit

Remote Mongolian motorcycle adventures in 2015


One of the world's last destinations untouched by mass tourism, Mongolia, will host Extreme Bike Tours' first expeditions into the country in 2015.

One of the only motorbike tour operators to offer guided rides in Mongolia, Extreme Bike Tours will take experienced and licensed riders – and also pillion passengers with no riding experience – on adventure tours through the country's remote 'wild west' in April and May next year, with guests using classic Royal Enfield 500cc bullet motorbikes to explore the region.

Two 15-day tours will start in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar on April 27 and May 25, 2015, with riders and pillion passengers then taken to western Mongolia - a vast, rugged and rarely visited region of nomadic herders, gold prospectors, tiny outposts and cultures frozen in time.

"Western Mongolia is one of the world's last true frontiers - a far-flung land of stunning scenery, fascinating culture and daring adventure that few foreigners get to experience," says self-confessed adrenalin junkie and former Englishman, Zander Combe, who owns Extreme Bike Tours, which is based in India. "A lot of planning has gone into our new Mongolian tours to ensure they offer our guests the trip of a lifetime in a land that time forgot," Zander adds.

Riding between the frontier towns of Uliastai and Ulgii, the all-inclusive, off-the-beaten-track tours will see riders eat around campfires and sleep in traditional Mongolian yurts at 'ger' camps along the route which stretches through the Gobi Desert and the Altai Mountains. Along the way, riders can meet traditional Kazakh eagle hunters who ride horses and train golden eagles to hunt fox and hare.

The two 15-day expeditions are available from US$5850 for licensed riders and US$4950 for pillion passengers riding behind friends or crew or in support vehicles. Fares include connecting domestic flights within Mongolia, hotel accommodation at the start and end of the tour in Ulaanbaatar, ger camp accommodation on the road, all meals, use of new Royal Enfield 500cc bullet motorbikes and fuel. Flights from Australia to Mongolia are extra.

Featured on TV's 'Top Gear' program, in 2011, Extreme Bike Tours is one of the world's leading motorcycle tour companies and also offers itineraries to the Himalayas, Tibet, Bhutan, Rajasthan and southern India. Up to 80 per cent of riders are from Australia and New Zealand.

For bookings, visit or call + 91 96653 77344.

New Azamara itinerary in North America

New Journey into History along the Atlantic Seaboard of North America

A new 32-night voyage from Montreal to New Orleans aboard the luxurious Azamara Quest in September, 2016, will showcase the historic charms of the Atlantic seaboard in Canada and the United States.

Highlights of the voyage, available through Australian cruise specialists, Cruise Express, include French-flavoured Quebec City, glamorous Rhode Island, the ‘Big Apple’, New York, Port Canaveral – home to NASA’s space centre, the historic cities of Boston and Charleston, the brilliant autumn colours of the New England region and the world’s most musical city, New Orleans.

Especially tailored for Australians, the Cruiseco-chartered voyage will depart from Montreal on September 24, 2016, with the elegant, 710-passenger Azamara Quest setting course for 19 ports along the eastern seaboard of North America, with the liner docking in nine cities overnight, including Boston, New York, Baltimore, Charleston and Port Canaveral to allow passengers to do more sightseeing including trips to the US capital, Washington DC, from Baltimore in Maryland.

The first port of call will be Quebec City – home to the most photographed hotel in the world, the massive Chateau Frontenac hotel, which dominates the city’s skyline. After sailing down Canada’s spectacular Saguenay Fjord and St Lawrence River, Azamara Quest will visit Prince Edward – home to the famous 19th century farm, Green Gables, which was the setting for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables novels.

During the voyage, passengers can also discover the lighthouses and fishing villages of Nova Scotia, the cradle of American independence, Boston, the skyscrapers of New York, the colonial mansions of South Carolina, the beaches of Miami, the tropical islands of Key West and the southern charms of Alabama.

The voyage aboard Azamara Quest - renowned for her country club style, intimacy, personalised service and gourmet cuisine, includes beer and wine with lunch and dinner, bottle water and specialty teas and coffees and also gratuities aboard the ship. Earlybird Fares for the 32-night cruise start at $10,400 per person, twin-share. Flights from Australia are extra and can be booked through Cruise Express.

For more details, call Cruise Express on 1300 764 509 or visit
For bookings and further details, see SeaDream specialist Cruise Express

Preludio and Silversea sailing together

Silversea, together with prestigious Italian sandal company, Preludio, have announced that a resident Preludio sandal cobbler is now available on board Silver Spirit, Silver Whisper and Silver Shadow. The new service enables guests to have custom-jewelled sandals created by a master artisan.

Karen Christensen, General Manager & Director of Sales/Marketing Australasia, says Silversea is delighted to provide guests with an even more exclusive offering whilst at sea.

"Partnering with Preludio provides Silversea's guests with the opportunity to design their own unique sandals, individual to their own style, whilst sailing through some of the most stunning regions in the world. This is exactly what Silversea encompasses - a tailored, highly personalised experience," says Christensen.

Preludio sandals
Preludio sandals (derived from the term preludes, a short piece of music) are handcrafted and jewelled by leading artisans without the use of any adhesive products.  Available on board select Silversea vessels, the Preludio sandal collections are inspired by classical symphonies, with the jewelled design reflecting the simplicity or complexity of each musical composition. 

"A treasured keepsake, or the perfect gift for a loved one, Preludio sandals convey understated elegance and remind guests of a special memory, much like a Silversea cruise," says Christensen.

For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Flavours of Malaysia at The Grace Hotel, Sydney

A rich melting pot of flavours, Malaysian cuisine ranks amongst the most delicious and tastiest in Asia.

And from 25 September to 12 October you can treat yourself to some of the country's favourite dishes at Sydney's Grace Hotel, as part of the Flavours of Malaysia celebration.

Head Chef Tan Kok Siong
(R Eime)
Flavours of Malaysia is a celebration of the diversity underpinning Malaysian cuisine including Chinese, Indian and Portuguese influences, not to mention the many spices characteristic of South East Asian food. During the fortnight-long event, The Grace Hotel's Brasserie Restaurant will be transformed into an aromatic hub with the help of four Malaysian chefs, who have prepared the menus and have been flown in from Kuala Lumpur especially for the event.

Head Chef Tan Kok Siong and his team will be showcasing a range of specialty dishes from different Malaysian regions including Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Perak. Guests will enjoy popular local recipes, authentic specialty dishes and traditional food from each region, all in served in decadent buffet style reminiscent of a typical Malaysian Hawkers' Market.

Tourism Malaysia's Australian
Director, Roslan Abdullah (R Eime)
Last night Tourism Malaysia's Australian Director, Roslan Abdullah was joined by representatives from Malaysia's High Commission, The Federal Hotel Group, Malaysia Airlines and Ayam for the official launch of the Festival at the Grace Hotel, where they were treated to a spectacular Malaysian Banquet Festival prepared by the four visiting chefs. Mr Roslan Abdullah also announced 2015 as Malaysia's official Year of Festivals, following on from this year's successful Visit Malaysia campaign, which has seen a solid rise in tourism numbers to the country over the past twelve months.

During the Flavours of Malaysia Festival one lucky diner will also go in the draw to win a fantastic prize of a return trip for two to Kuala Lumpur flying Malaysia Airlines, along with two nights in the newly renovated Mederka wing room at the centrally located Federal Kuala Lumpur.

The Flavours of Malaysia buffet will be available for lunch from Tuesday to Friday, as well as Sunday and dinner onFriday and Saturday nights. For your to chance to sample an array of exotic, succulent, spicy and aromatic dishes over the two week food festival, call 02 9272 6670, email or visit for more information.

For information about tours of Malaysia, please contact:

Tourism Malaysia
Telephone: +612 9286 3055, Fax: +612 9283 8311, Email:
or visit


Some of the dishes that will be served include:


Soto Ayam (Chicken Herbs Spices Soup with Rice Cake, Chicken Minced & Potato Diced) -Penang

Beef Rendang

Nasi Putih (Steamed Rice)

Mee Siam (Fried Vermicelli Rice Noodles with Chili Paste & Dried Shrimp)

Rendang Tok (Beef Cooked in Grated Coconut & Coconut Milk)

Ikan Kari (Fish with Lady Finger in Curry Sauce)

Udang Tumis Petai (Prawn Sambal with Petai)

Tau Fu dengan Chili (Fried Bean Curd with Chicken Minced & Chili)

Sotong Goreng Garam Kunyit (Fried Squids in Turmeric and Salt)

Sambal Nanas (Pineapple in Sambal Sauce)


Roti Canai dengan Sayur Dhall dan Sambal Bawang (Roti Prata with Dhal Vegetable & Chili Paste Sauce)

Mee Udang Penang Style (Prawn Broth with Spicy Gravy) -Penang

Chicken & Beef Satay with Condiments

Infinite Luxury launches Kata Rocks resort on Phuket's Kata beach in Thailand

Infinite Luxury officially launches Kata Rocks, the company's flagship resort on Phuket's Kata beach and first property in Thailand, with its grand opening on November 28 2014.

Infinite Luxury CEO Richard Pope is the driving force behind Kata Rocks with over 20 years experience as a UK property developer.

According to Mr Pope, Kata Rocks is redefining luxury living in Phuket by constantly pushing the boundaries of design, style, luxury and materials used to create the residential resort's unique retro, nautical influenced space-age look.

“We created Kata Rocks for effortless and luxurious relaxation as its core concept and I'm delighted to have reached this important opening milestone.

“Each of Kata Rock's luxurious 'Sky Villas' is designed to impart an unparalleled sense of space and tranquility, creating a feeling of harmony and balance with its lush tropical surroundings,” he said.

The resort is located at the southern headland of Kata Beach, offering 34 luxury one, two, three and four-bedroom Sky Villas each with their own private pools. A short stroll into Kata village from the resort reveals an eclectic range of shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants for guests to enjoy.

At the heart of Kata Rocks is its Infinite Luxury Spa offering seven unique treatment rooms and luxurious personalised treatments from ila-spa tailored to each guest's lifestyle, along with a modern fitness centre. Kata Rocks also features a 35-metre swimming pool with poolside restaurant and bar for guests to enjoy dramatic sunsets and the resort's outstanding food and beverage service.

Innovative iPad tools also allow guests to blend luxury and technology on a level previously unavailable in Phuket, with single touch control of Sky Villa lighting, temperature, music, television, blinds and service requests – the later always delivered with a world famous Thai smile.

Mr Pope has been running his own construction and residential development companies in the exclusive area of London's Notting Hill. He also oversees the estate management of these projects, as well as of others in the United Kingdom. Kata Rocks has already won numerous international property development awards for its design and style.

Mr Pope added: “Kata Rocks is poised to become one of the best resort and residential developments in the world. The development has already won more awards than any other property at the International Property Awards, competing against projects from over one hundred countries worldwide.”


Kata Rocks is a design driven, luxury boutique resort and residence, located directly on the oceanfront at the southern end of Kata Beach along Phuket's world famous west coast. The resort has 34 'Sky Villas' from one to four bedrooms each offering its own private infinity-pool, plus expansive living and dining areas, superbly appointed bedrooms and bathrooms. Each Sky Villa features the latest interactive iPad technology allowing guests to control their Sky Villa environment at the touch or swipe of a button. Along with exquisite dining options, poolside restaurant and bar, the resort also features its own Infinite Luxury Spa and fitness centre. For additional information go to


Infinite Luxury is a Phuket-based lifestyle design company specialising in premier property development, six- star resort and spa management, and luxury living concierge services.

Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Opens on October 15, 2014

Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa will be the newest addition to Accor's hotel network in Phuket, scheduled to open its doors on October 15, 2014.

This newly-built 224-room resort, located on Karon Beach by the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, is celebrating its opening by offering a special "Stay 3, Pay 2" promotion plus complimentary breakfast.
Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort & Spa Opens on October 15, 2014 Marks Opening with Stay 3, Pay 2 Package, Plus Free Breakfast!
"Phuket continues to be the destination of choice for many regional and international tourists," said Mr. Fraser Ross, General Manager of Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa. "Phuket's allure is magnetic and appears to be growing from strength to strength. We therefore see this as a great opportunity to launch this special promotion to entice travellers to experience our exciting new resort and stay longer."

The resort will feature 224 rooms, three pool options, fitness centre, all-day-dining restaurants, a pool bar, a sports bar and the In|Balance Spa which offers an extensive range of spa therapies. The resort also offers 24-hour in-room dining service. Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa is located a short walk from Phuket's second largest beach Karon, a destination popular for its tranquil, relaxed atmosphere and eclectic mix of pubs, clubs and restaurants. For more adventures, Karon is just a short ride away from the hustle and bustle of Patong beach.

Experience the newest Novotel in Phuket with its introductory promotion:

Stay 3 nights and pay for only 2, and receive complimentary breakfast for two persons during the period. This promotion is available from October 15, 2014 to December 19, 2014, so book now to be the first to enjoy the new Novotel Phuket Karon Beach Resort and Spa!

To book please visit, call +662 118 9553 or Terms and conditions apply.

Best Western Adds Brand New Hotel in Angeles City

Best Western International has signed a new management agreement to expand its collection of hotels in the Philippines.

The hotel group, which operates more than 4,000 properties worldwide, has penned a contract with Hilcres Consolidated Corporation to operate BEST WESTERN Bendix Hotel - a brand new midscale hotel in Angeles City, the burgeoning tourism and economic center on Luzon Island. 

“Angeles City is growing fast and we are delighted to be able to move into this exciting region,” said Glenn de Souza, Best Western International’s Vice President of International Operations for Asia & Middle East.

“Our existing properties in Manila, Makati City, Cebu and Boracay have been extremely popular with domestic and international visitors alike. And I am confident that BEST WESTERN Bendix Hotel, with its comfortable rooms, excellent connectivity and modern amenities, will be equally well-received.

“I would like to thank the Hilcres Consolidated Corporation for their confidence in Best Western International and I look forward to working with them on this exciting project,” Mr. de Souza added.
Scheduled to welcome its first guests in the second quarter of 2015, BEST WESTERN Bendix Hotel will be a modern, clean-edged hotel offering 60 spacious guest rooms.

With a contemporary design, soft, sleep-inducing beds and large bathrooms with separate shower units, this stylish new hotel will provide the ultimate in comfort and convenience. And with such modern amenities as large flat-screen televisions and complimentary Wi-Fi, guests will always be able to stay connected to their home or office.

The signing of BEST WESTERN Bendix Hotel marks a major step forward in Best Western International’s expansion in the Philippines.

At present, the company operates six hotels across four destinations in the country - Boracay, Cebu City, Makati City and Manila. But by the end of 2016, the company plans to expand this collection to 14 hotels, adding more than 750 modern rooms to its nationwide inventory.

New Helicopter Tours Take Off in Port Stephens

unnamed (8)Skyline Port Stephens, formerly known as Newcastle Helicopters, has become part of the Skyline Aviation Group, and to mark the new-look has launched new tours and is offering a special ten per cent discount off all helicopter scenic tours booked before October 6, 2014.

Skyline Port Stephens offers views of Port Stephens' sandy beaches, sheltered bays, sand dunes, national parkland and even whales and dolphins from a unique vantage point in the air. Located at Nelson Bay in Port Stephens, the company operates helicopter flights seven days per week and offers a number of tours, including two new options.

The new tour packages include ‘Ales with Altitude’ which includes a scenic helicopter flight from Nelson Bay to Murray's Brewery in Port Stephens , where guests can experience a tour of the award-winning craft brewery and receive $25 ‘brewery bucks’ each to spend on food or drinks. The package is available from $144 per person (including 10 per cent discount) if booked before October 6, 2014, for weekends and public holidays. An unnamed (9)extended Ultimate Ales with Altitude tour is also available on weekdays.

Another new experience on offer is the Hunter Valley Luncheon Flight, where guests will fly along the picturesque coastlines from Port Stephens to Newcastle and then wine and dine at the Hunter Valley vineyard of their choice, before flying back to Nelson Bay. The package is available from $450 per person (including 10 per cent discount) if booked before October 6, 2014.
Scenic helicopter tours booked before October 6, 2014 will attract a special of 10 per cent off the website price, making the 10 minute Scenic Sampler flight available from $68 per person. The 30 minute Dolphin Spotting Flight will be available from $180 per person.

With almost 20 years' experience, Skyline Aviation is the most experienced helicopter company in the Hunter region. In addition to scenic tours, Skyline also offers aerial photography, surveying, a pilot training school, and assists in fire and flood relief.

For more information, and to book a scenic helicopter tour of Port Stephens, call (02) 4965 1800 or visit

For more information on other activities, accommodation, dining, attractions, events, holiday deals and maps, visit Destination Port Stephens’ website -

Hi Seoul Festival in Korea from 1 October 2014

The Hi Seoul Festival is one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world with an average of 1.5million people participating in the event annually. Running for five days starting on 1st October, 2014 it provides an incredible array of performances and entertainment on the streets of Seoul.

Meeting the locals in Korea

The festival's slogan this year is 'Let's Play in the Streets' where a wide variety of free performing art shows and events will take place in the streets by nine performance groups with six international countries involved as well as forty-three Korean groups.

The Korean groups will showcase their talents on opening night through a variety of performances about Seoul and its identity. Opening night will also have a fireworks parade, plays, acrobatics, street performances, concerts, installation art and much more for everyone to enjoy.

On the closing day on the 5th October the streets around Gwanghwamun Square will become a car-free zone and visitors can enjoy various street shows and performances spread across the area.

For visitors to Seoul at this time it's a great way to take in the culture and join the people of Seoul having fun on the streets of their city. October is also one of the best months of the year in Korea due to the spectacular Autumn colours and mild weather at this time.

For more on the Hi Seoul Festival and what's happening when you are travelling to Seoul as well as special offers of up to 30% off musicals and shows in Seoul city are also on offer on this website.

Visit the website for further information when you are travelling to Seoul:

Kenya marks World War One centenary - more battlefield tourism offerings

To commemorate 100 years since the first shots were fired, signalling the start of World War One, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has partnered with Taita Taveta County to launch a number of battlefield tourism experiences.

The events that led to the declaration of the four-year conflict began with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June, 1914. On 4 August, 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and nine days later, the first shots were fired between German troops from Tanganyika (modern day Tanzania) and the British, in what became known the East Africa Campaign.

Majority of the fighting between the Germans and the British took place in Taita Taveta County, south west of Tsavo West National Park, near the Tanzania boarder.   

Visitors can participate in extensive tours of the battlefield, including the Commonwealth War Graves, where Indian and imperial troops were laid to rest; the police post building, where the first shots were fired; the grave of the first casualty of the war; and the trenches and outposts which were occupied by soldiers from both sides.

National Park's including Tsavo East and Tsavo West are also easily accessible and rich in wildlife, including the famous 'Red Elephants', providing the option to combine a battlefield tour with a safari experience.  


In addition to this, Kenya will host a number of diverse events from now until August 2018, creating four years of tributes to honour the four years of war.  An official website ( has been launched to help visitors specifically wanted to incorporate these events and experiences into their trip.

Kenya Tourism Board, managing director Muriithi Ndegwa said, "this is an important milestone in our history and it is important that we respect and reflect on it appropriately".

"This also has presented us with an opportunity for the destination to evolve its niche offerings, combining the increasingly more popular battlefield tourism with Kenya's world renowned safari experiences," Mr Ndegwa said.

Adventure World is marking the World War One commemorations by offering a six day/ five night battlefields of Kenya trip to learn about the history and visit the historical sites, memorials and war graves of Kenya's Taita Taveta County. Game drives in the wildlife parks of Amboseli, Taita Hills and Tsavo East are also included. The land cost starts from AUS$2,559 per person twin share for travel between 01 November to 15 December, 2014. To book call 1300 363 055 or visit
For more information on Kenya visit

KTB is currently running a social media campaign, encouraging people to post images of #WhyILoveKenya and including the handle @MagicalKenya. Kenya lovers can also keep up to date via the following social media platforms:

Facebook -

Twitter -

Instagram –

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The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places