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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#NYE in New Zealand: Top 8 things to do


Bring in the New Year in New Zealand

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Renowned for spectacular scenery and hidden gems, New Zealand truly comes to life on New Year’s Eve. Whether it’s attending a music festival in the grassy highlands, or soaking up the sights at a rooftop party, travellers are spoilt for choice this New Year’s Eve.

Here are eight of the best ways to see in the New Year in style in New Zealand.

1. Miss Moonshine’s Ball

Ponsonby Road, Auckland December 31

On New Year’s Eve, Miss Moonshine’s will host a ball filled with dancing, music, and its signature twist on classic New Zealand cuisine. Taking New Zealand’s rich produce and cooking it on a traditional American barbeque, Miss Moonshine is an establishment that knows how to shake things up and have a good time!

2. Rhythm and Vines

Waiohika Estate vineyard, Gisbourne December 29 – January 1

As the largest New Year’s Eve music festival in New Zealand, Rhythm and Vines caters to a wide range of musical tastes. Hosted in the Waiohika Estate vineyard, the festival features hip hop, indie, and this year stand up comedy has also been added to the line up.

3. Northern Bass

Mangawhai December 29 – January 1

The Northern Bass music festival embraces the best of the hip hop and electric genres in a unique way that also promotes environmental sustainability. With new recycling initiatives that aim to preserve the rolling green hills of Mangawhai, this is a festival with a difference and will excite your inner eco-warrior!

4. Light & Sparkles New Years Eve Party

Rydges Hotel, Auckland December 31

Travellers who wish to get amongst the crowds and cap off the year in the Auckland CBD need to attend the Light and Sparkes New Years Eve Party. Attendees will get to party in style as they dance the night away with free drinks, canapés, and a chocolate fountain. The rooftop will also give travellers a view of the fireworks they won’t forget.

5. Highlife NYE

Stonyridge Vineyard, Waiheke Island 31 December – 1 January

Tucked away in the Stonyridge Vineyard on Auckland’s beautiful Waiheke Island, the Highlife New Year’s Eve music festival stands out as an alternative for travellers looking to celebrate off the main islands and see more of what New Zealand has to offer.

6. Prana Eco Retreat Festival

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Opoutere beach, Coromandel December 30 – January 3

The Prana Eco Retreat Festival is catered to families and travellers who see themselves as free spirits. Highlights include live music, dancing and performance art. This beachside festival will also host exclusive workshops to improve health and wellbeing.

7. Fat Freddys Drop

McEwan Park, Petone Wellington December 31

Hugely popular New Zealand band Fat Freddys Drop will be perfoming in Wellington, the city where they rose to stardom. For musically attuned travellers, this event is a great opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich musical culture of New Zealand.

8. Rhythm and Alps

Cardrona Valley, Wanaka December 30 – 31

Travellers who want to spend New Year’s Eve getting in touch with their musical side should look no further than Rhythm and Alps music festival in the Robrosa Estate, Wanaka. With a lineup of artists that includes Sticky Fingers, Shidad, and Summer Thieves, the music festival is the largest one held on the South Island.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tropical North Queensland: starring in Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough documentary

Tropical North Queensland's dwarf minke whales star in Sir David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef documentary series to be released in the United Kingdom on December 30.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Alex de Waal said much of the three-part series had been filmed in the Tropical North Queensland region around Cairns.

"Tropical North Queensland is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef with more than 100 ways to experience this World Heritage area," he said.

"As well as swimming with dwarf minke whales, you can dive with giant potato cod, snorkel with turtles, go stand-up paddle boarding over coral gardens around an island or keep your hair dry with a helmet dive.

"The Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough series will be broadcast across the world in the New Year and will encourage the many people who aspire to visit the Great Barrier Reef to do so.

"Sir David himself was one of those people who aspired to see the Great Barrier Reef as a boy and realised his dream in 1957 when he travelled from Cairns north to Raine Island in Tropical North Queensland.

"At the launch of his Great Barrier Reef series earlier this month, Sir David revealed that when he is asked about his favourite place in the world he always says home and then North Queensland."

Sir David said: "North Queensland is a wonderful, wonderful place. It has got everything, it's got mountains, it's got tropical rainforest, it's got the Barrier Reef, it's got wonderful creatures that you can't get anywhere else, it's a great place."

Mr de Waal said this was wonderful praise for Tropical North Queensland, the destination where the rainforest meets the reef with its two World Heritage areas side by side.

"It is an extraordinary benefit for our region to have someone with that level of expertise and experience making that statement as there wouldn't be a corner of this planet that Sir David hasn't been to," he said.

IMAGES: Tropical North Queensland's dwarf minke whales star in Sir David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef documentary series.

Divers with giant potato cod at the Cod Hole near Lizard Island in Tropical North Queensland.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Queensland Festivals 2016 - Get into the spirit

'Tis The Season To Get Into The Festiv-al Spirit

The summer holiday exodus might be in full swing around the country, but there's a jam-packed calendar for those staying put in the River City. Here's our pick of the Brisbane bunch.

The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art
(21 Nov 2015 – 10 April 2016)

The biggest global exhibition of Art from Australia, Asia and the Pacific returns to Brisbane with works by more than 80 artists across a range of disciplines. Major new commissions include a sprawling structural installation of reclaimed timber by India's Asim Waqif and a mesmerising suspended sculpture by South Korea's Haegue Yang. Also of note is Kalpa Vriksha: Contemporary Indigenous and Vernacular Art of India - the first major display of its kind in Australia

This family-friendly exhibition is held in various locations around the city and also features APT8 Kids and APT8 Cinema.

Commonwealth Bank Test Series: Australia V New Zealand
(10 Dec 2015 - 7 Jan 2016)

The good-natured sporting stoush with our Kiwi cousins continues with the Commonwealth Bank Test Series cricket games at The Gabba in Brisbane. The Kiwis are already firing shots across the ditch, claiming to be practicing with the pink ball that will be used for the first time in this three-part series.

There is much at stake, with the New Zealanders vying to win the Trans-Tasman series for the first time since 1990. But guaranteed, when it comes to the hallowed turf of the Gabba, Australia won't be letting them bowl a maiden over quite so easily.

Medieval Power: Symbols and Splendour
(11 Dec 2015 - 10 April 2016)

It may outdate the Queensland Museum in Brisbane by quite a few centuries, but this exhibition will appeal to all the inner Knights and Dames. The Museum will be the only venue in the world to host this new exhibition curated by the British Museum. Covering the period AD400 to 1500, Medieval Power will transport visitors back to a time when many of the countries and cultures of modern Europe were formed.

The exhibition includes precious gold, jewellery, seals, sculptures, stained glass and many other symbols of courtly life alongside tools of war, objects of religious significance, and humble items from everyday life dating back to AD400.

Woodford Folk Festival (27 Dec 2015 - 1 Jan 2016)

What can we say, expect a state of euphoria at Woodfordia! Now in its 29th year, the Woodford Folk Festival attracts acclaimed national and international acts who draw in crowds of more than 130,000 over the course of the event.

For six blissful days and nights you can tap into your inner hippie or listen to mainstream music, at one of the most delightful destinations in the Sunshine State. The packed program includes concerts, dances, street theatre, writers' panels, film festival, comedy sessions, acoustic jams, social dialogue and debate, folk medicine, a children's festival, an environmental program, art and craft workshops, circus performances, late-night cabarets, parades and special events including a spectacular fire event.

Set on 200ha of land behind the tiny township of Woodford on the Sunshine Coast, the village of 'Woodfordia' is home to 35 performance venues with festival streets lined with restaurants, cafes, stalls, bars, street theatre and parades. The eco-friendly site is also home to tree-filled campgrounds, butterfly walks, ponds and wildlife.

Traveloscopy | 

Housesitting with pets

Introducing the hottest trend in travel – the pet au pair.

Favoured by retired couples, singles and young families, a pet au pair cares for pets in exchange for free accommodation in some of the most amazing locations across the country.

Australia's newest housesitting website, Your Home My Home launched in July this year, and has already exchanged 3,500 nights of free accommodation.

"Your Home My Home expands your neighbourhood network, introducing like-minded housesitters with home owners to exchange their homes and services for free," says co-founder Rebecca Nankervis.

As a registered housesitter with Your Home My Home, you have the opportunity to live rent free across Australia. Whilst incredibly popular with would-be first home owners, the site is also favoured by travel lovers looking to explore different parts of the country, renovators who don't want to pay rent or people who love animals and would like a free holiday!

Whatever your circumstances, housesitting assignments provide endless opportunities to immerse yourself in communities in new places.

"If you're looking to retreat to a picturesque acreage, an inner city escape or a beachside getaway, Your Home My Home has an opportunity for you. Within only weeks of launching, we have listings in many desirable places including Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, South Australia, West Australia," says Nankervis.

So, what's in it for the home owner?

"As a home owner, you can truly immerse yourself in your travels knowing that your home, pets and plants are well cared for by someone you can trust -handpicked and vetted by you," says Nankervis.

"Like humans, animals get used to their familiar surroundings. Leaving your pet in the comforts of their own home means they are less likely to fret while you're away on holidays. Not to mention that boarding kennels can be expensive. Often you need to add on average an additional $50 PER DAY, per animal to your holiday budget.  That could equate to an extra $2,000 if you have two pets boarded while on a two week holiday"

Security is also an important factor for home owners.

"An occupied home deters crime. So much so, some insurance companies will void your policy if the house is left vacant for more than 30 days without prior arrangement," says Nankervis.

Simple and easy to use, Your Home My Home is backed by premium technology and designed to make finding the right carer for your home and pets a hassle free transaction.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Emirates predicts most popular destinations for 2016

As 2015 wraps up Emirates has taken a look at the fastest growing destinations for Australians this year – while predicting where travellers may head to in 2016.

In terms of places Australians liked this year, Dublin, Barcelona and Rome all experienced significant growth year on year while Stockholm and Amsterdam rounded out the top five of places that peaked more interest this year than last.

"What this list shows is that as more and more Australians embrace overseas travel we're finally moving past the likes of London. Australians are looking for unique travel experiences that are unlike any destination they've been to previously; this is reflected in the variety of the top five fastest growing destinations we've seen this year," said Barry Brown, Emirates' Divisional Vice President for Australasia.

"With the opening of new routes by Emirates, Australian travellers also have more choice of where to start and end their journey. New destinations have allows Australian travellers to consider alternate starting locations for their river cruise or coach tour of Europe, as well as their own self-guided journeys through a variety of different countries," added Barry Brown.

For 2016, Emirates predicts based on bookings this year that this trend will continue with Munich, Oslo and Bologna expected to be the ones to watch as the top spots for fastest growing destinations in 2016.

"Of course we'll still see Australians experiencing the classics but as we saw this year with the emergence of destinations such as Stockholm and Amsterdam, I think Oslo and Bologna will prove popular in 2016. With one-stop travel with Emirates to 38 destinations in Europe alone, the rest of the world is not so far away anymore," continued Barry Brown.

The other hot trends predicted by Emirates include longer leisure holidays and exploring more than one destination at a time.

"Being able to fly into one destination and out of another for the same price makes it very easy to explore more than just one part of Europe; particularly when you consider our rail partnerships with TGV Air in France and Trenitalia in Italy. Of course with Emirates it's also possible to enjoy a stopover in Dubai which is a completely new experience for many Australians," concluded Barry Brown.

For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or go to

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji receives major Condé Nast Johansens international accolade

Fiji's first ever all villa, luxury boutique resort, Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji has received  a major international accolade being named 'Best Newcomer' in the prestigious '2016 Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence'.

Adding further lustre to this impressive recognition, the Pacific Harbour-based luxury property was the only South Pacific resort to win an award in any of the several categories competed for this year.

Created to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across the hotels and resorts included in the influential Condé Nast Johansens 'collection', these much admired 'Awards for Excellence' are seen as a trusted mark of quality, recognised by luxury consumers and travel professionals alike.

Finalists are determined from the combined results of online voting on the Condé Nast Johansens website, guest feedback and local expert reportage.

Acknowledging the award, Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji's director of sales and marketing, Shashita Nand said the resort and all its staff were extremely proud to have played a role in helping to create a unique Fiji resort offering.

Since opening in March last year, she said, the resort had set a benchmark and taken the destination's ability to deliver a luxury product to a whole new, world-class level.

"Nanuku is a very special place to stay and everyone involved, both our staff and the local community, have worked tirelessly to instil a truly unique 'Spirit of Nanuku' that embodies the real Fiji, its people and their incredible 'living culture'," Ms Nand said.

"This is more than demonstrated by the immense pride we all take in helping to ensure our guests have an experience of a lifetime when they stay with us.

"This award is true recognition of the resort's ability to more than deliver that guest experience on every count."

The 2016 Condé Nast Johansens Award for Excellence represents yet another major feather in the Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji cap for 2015.

Earlier in the year the resort became the proud recipient of a TripAdvisor 'Certificate of Excellence.

And just recently the resort was nominated finalists in the 'Accommodation Luxury', 'Destination Marketing' and the 'Visitor Dining Experience' categories at the 'ANZ Fiji Excellence in Tourism Awards' which take place in February 2016.

For more information on Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji visit


Friday, December 11, 2015

Weiwei and Warhol work their way with Melbourne

Ai Weiwei at National Gallery of Victoria exhibition Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei, 11 December 2015 – 24 April 2016. Ai Weiwei artwork © Ai Weiwei. Photo: Tobias Titz
Ai Weiwei at National Gallery of Victoria exhibition Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei, 11 December 2015 – 24 April 2016. Ai Weiwei artwork © Ai Weiwei. Photo: Tobias Titz
By Graeme Willingham
A 9-metre cube of 1500 connected stainless steel bicycles has taken residence in the forecourt at Melbourne’s National Gallery. It’s part of a new Melbourne-only exhibition which will attract thousands to the city through the summer, and up to April 24.

From what I saw at the launch and first day of showing, I can suggest with some confidence the Forever Bicycles 2015 structure will be the most photographed subject in Melbourne over that time.

It beckons images from multiple angles, and of course stands as a commanding shiny backdrop for signature selfies. Standby social media platforms ....

Forever Bicycles is an introductory piece to NGV’s summer blockbuster Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei.. It is stationed inside the gallery, but outside the exhibition halls, so can be viewed in the free public space of the gallery.

Inside the exhibition, more than 300 works explore the mutual conceptual interests of Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei. They include rare and never-seen-before works by Andy Warhol, new commissions by Ai Weiwei, immersive installations and a wide representation of painting, sculpture, film, photography, music, publishing and social media.

Andy Warhol created some of the most defining iconography of the late twentieth century, through his exploration of consumer society, fame and celebrity, media, advertising, politics and capital.. This exhibitions presents over 200 of Warhol’s most celebrated works including portraits, paintings and silkscreens such as Campbell’s Soup, Mao, Elvis, Three Marilyns, Flowers, Electric Chairs, Skulls and Myths series.

The exhibition has the largest display of Andy Warhol’s work to come to Melbourne

One of China’s most provocative artists, Ai Weiwei’s work encompasses visual art, architecture, cultural criticism, social media and activism. His work addresses some of the most critical global issues of the early twenty-first century, including the relationship between tradition and modernity, the role of the individual and the state, questions of human rights, and the value of freedom of expression.

No surprise then to discover the inside show-stopper is Letgo Room, 2015. One of the new commissions, Ai Weiwei unveiled it on Thursday.

Letgo Room incorporates more than two million plastic building blocks featuring portraits of twenty Australian activists, advocates and champions of human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of information and freedom of the internet. Portrait subjects include Julian Assange, Geoffrey Robertson QC, Peter Greste, Professor Gillian Triggs, Rosie Batty, The Hon Michael Kirby, Archie Roach, Julian Burnside and Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, among others from the fields of international law and academia, social welfare, media, community activism in support of indigenous people, asylum seekers, sex workers and the gender non-specific, among other contexts

Each person supplied a quotation which is incorporated in the display, running on floor, ceiling and four walls. It is a fabulous, pertinent work. There’s an interesting story behind the title, Letgo Room.

At the opening function for gallery patrons on Thursday night, Ai Weiwei announced that he was gifting Letgo Room, 2015, to the National Gallery of Victoria.
Overall, NGV says the exhibition explores parallels in the work of the artists, such as shared motifs in their work, their engagement with the readymade, the relationships between art, politics, economy and celebrity; and the documentation of contemporary society and everyday life.

Ai presents other new major installations here, developed especially for the exhibition, including floating works which will respond to Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds 1966 and Cow Wallpaper 1966. Colour and movement.. Gallery-goers can walk through the floating pieces. More photos, or videos!

Other commissions include a five metre-tall work from Ai’s chandelier series of crystal and light -- also in the gallery public foyer -- and Blossom, a spectacular new installation in the form of a bed of thousands of delicate white porcelain flowers.

NGV’s major world-first exhibition Andy Warhol | Ai Weiwei has been developed by the NGV in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh and Ai Weiwei.

It is showing in Melbourne, until April 24.



Tourism boom as more airlines fly to NSW


Almost one million extra seats are on offer from seven international airlines flying to Sydney, providing a massive boost to tourism during the busy summer months.

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said these airlines will provide a huge economic benefit to Sydney and Regional NSW accommodation, restaurants, retailers, visitor attractions and major events.

"Our State is Australia's home of international travel, and the NSW Government through our tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, has developed key international partnerships to attract the world's best airlines," Mr Ayres said.

International visitors to NSW spent more than $8 billion during the last 12 months, an increase of 15 per cent in the last year, with a significant jump in visitors from China.

"The major events we continue to attract, and the important relationships we have developed with the airlines and key inbound tourism operators around the world are key to this significant growth in visitor numbers," Mr Ayres added.

New services by All Nippon Airways (ANA), Xiamen Airlines, Solomon Airlines, American Airlines, Indonesia AirAsia X, Hainan Airlines and Qatar Airways will result in more than 980,000 seats in the next 12 months, providing an estimated $400 million economic injection of visitor expenditure to NSW.

"Last week we were delighted to welcome the first new Xiamen Airlines services to Sydney, and tomorrow the first ANA flights will begin, offering daily direct Tokyo Haneda-Sydney services, bringing thousands of new visitors to NSW."

Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather said: "Sydney Airport is the nation's leading airport for new airline services, and the world's leading airport for Chinese long-haul airlines, with six carriers serving eight mainland Chinese cities by the end of this year.

"We continue to work with government and industry partners to attract new airlines and routes to Sydney, with associated economic and tourism benefits."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Imagine these seats on your next flight

The SkyDeck by Windspeed Technologies is designed to be installed in a wide variety of aircraft and offer an exhilarating view of the aircraft’s external environment while in flight.


AccorHotels acquires Fairmont Raffles Hotels

AccorHotels to acquire three iconic hotel brands - Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel

A strategic deal to create a worldwide leader in the luxury segment

An unrivalled collection of iconic hotel assets with 155 hotels and resorts, of which 40 are under development

 Acquisition to provide AccorHotels with robust and global leadership in luxury hotels, a key segment in terms of geographic reach, growth potential and profitability, for long-term value creation

 FRHI's unrivalled hotel portfolio, expertise in marketing luxury hotels and sizeable footprint in North America, provide a stronger platform to continue aggressive worldwide expansion.

 AccorHotels will pay for the acquisition by issuing 46.7 million new Accor shares and a cash payment of $840 million (€768 million) – Qatar Investment Authority and Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia are to become major shareholders, with 10.5% and 5.8% of the share capital* respectively

 Transaction will be accretive to earnings per share from the second year with €65 million in revenue and cost synergies identified in the medium term

AccorHotels today announces the signing of an agreement with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) of Saudi Arabia and Oxford Properties, an Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) company for the acquisition of FRHI Holdings Ltd (FRHI), parent of Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel.

"This is an outstanding opportunity to add three prestigious brands – Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel – to our portfolio, and a great step forward for AccorHotels. It offers us robust and global leadership in luxury hotels, a key segment in terms of geographic reach, growth potential and profitability, for long term value creation. In addition, the deal allows us to strengthen our human capital with FRHI's widely respected and talented global workforce which has a proven track record in operating and marketing luxury hotels. The transaction will also enable the Group to consolidate its shareholder base, with the arrival of two high-profile investors that both have extensive expertise in the hospitality industry. This major acquisition demonstrates the Group's agility in a fast-changing industry and will allow us to more effectively support our guests, clients and hotel owners. Through it, we are positioning ourselves as a key player in the current industry consolidation process while maintaining substantial leeway to implement our transformation plan," said Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AccorHotels.

His Excellency Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al-Thani, CEO of Qatar Investment Authority, said: "Since making our investment, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International has become a leading luxury hotel company with an expanded international presence. This deal generates the scale needed to drive the next phase of growth in our real estate and hospitality investments. QIA has confidence in AccorHotels and looks forward to becoming a significant shareholder."

FRHI includes three of the most prestigious global luxury hotel brands: Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel. It has 155 hotels and resorts (of which 40 are under development), and more than 56,000 rooms (of which approximately 13,000 are under development). Its portfolio includes such legendary properties as Raffles Singapore, The Savoy in London, Shanghai's Fairmont Peace Hotel, The Plaza Hotel in New York, Le Royal Monceau - Raffles Paris, Fairmont San Francisco, Fairmont Banff Springs (Canada), Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec, the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, and Swissôtel The Stamford in Singapore. FRHI has more than 45,000 employees under its brands.

FRHI's hotels and resorts span 34 countries across five continents, with 42 properties in North America, 2 in South America, 26 in Europe, 17 in Africa/Middle East and 28 in Asia-Pacific. They are located in the world's major tourist destinations, particularly in the United States, the leading outbound travel market. The vast majority of hotels (108) are operated under very long-term management contracts, with average remaining terms of nearly 30 years; six hotels are leased and one hotel is owned.

The acquisition of these three global brands will strategically enhance AccorHotels' brand portfolio, and will provide AccorHotels with a better-balanced business profile. The integration of Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel will broaden the Group's geographic footprint in the luxury segment, and enable it to optimize its luxury and upscale brands in order to adapt its offering to the expectations of an increasingly demanding clientele.

With nearly 500 luxury and upscale properties, AccorHotels will become one of the key global players in this segment and will be able to offer the most profitable management contracts and the best growth potential in many markets. FRHI teams will bolster AccorHotels' expertise in the luxury segment and provide the Group with new ambitions, through targeted, value-creative expansion.

AccorHotels aims to generate around €65 million in revenue and cost synergies thanks to the combination of brands, the maximization of hotel earnings, the increased efficiency of marketing, sales and distribution channel initiatives, and the optimization of support costs. Significant improvements will also be made in terms of customer data, thanks to the integration of a customer base including 3 million loyalty members, of which 75% are North Americans. The transaction will be accretive on earnings per share from the second year, with synergies fully effective by the third year.

The agreement with Qatar Investment Authority and Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia provides for the cash payment of $840 million (€768 million at the current exchange rate) and the issuance of 46.7 million Accor shares. These shares will be issued via a reserved capital increase, subject to the approval of shareholders at an Extraordinary Shareholders' Meeting. The transaction will leave QIA and KHC respective stakes of 10.5% and 5.8% in Accor's share capital. Two representatives of QIA and one representative of KHC will be appointed to the Accor Board of Directors.*

This transaction is subject to the regulatory approvals of the antitrust authorities. Rothschild and Zaoui & Co are acting as financial advisors and Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier and Proskauer Rose LLP are acting as legal advisors to AccorHotels on this transaction. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC are acting as financial advisors and McCarthy Tetrault LLP and White & Case LLP are acting as legal advisors to FRHI on this transaction.

* Subject to the approval of shareholders at an Extraordinary Shareholders' Meeting

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Thailand Celebrates the Festive Month with Spectacular Flare

Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said, “I am pleased to share with the people from around the world that the people of Thailand are harmoniously preparing to mark His Majesty the King's 88th birthday with this cycling celebration. I'd like to take this great opportunity to invite tourists and travellers to visit Thailand to experience the true spirit of the Thai-style celebrations during this special month.”

The 'Bike for Dad' cycling event scheduled on 11 December is organised to mark His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 88th birthday anniversary, which is on 5 December. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will lead the 29 km ride along Bangkok's streets. The cycling celebration will also be organised in provinces across the country, while Thais living abroad are encouraged to stage their own events. The cycling exercise is modelled after the 'Bike for Mom' event on 16 August, which drew tens of thousands of participants nationwide and set a new world record.

Along with the 'Bike for Dad' extravaganza, major streets and buildings across Thailand will be elaborately and beautifully decorated with lighting and decorations in honour of His Majesty the King of Thailand. In Bangkok, the best places to see the spectacular lighting are along Ratchadamnoen Avenue, Royal Park (Sanam Luang), and the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

The Ministry of Culture has also organised 'cultural road' activities at six venues around Rattanakosin Island during 1-5 December, 2015, 10.00 – 22.00 Hrs. Visitors can explore booths selling cultural products from the four regions of Thailand at Sanam Luang; Khon Thai masked dances and music performances at the National Museum; special performances from the Bunditpattanasilpa Institute at the area in front of the Rattanakosin Hotel; cultural stage shows at the Khok Wua Intersection, an art market and jazz music performance at the Ratchadamnoen Comtemporary Art Centre, and a puppet show and children's Khon performance at the Royal Pavilion Mahajessadabodin. The National Museum also invites interested public to visit the Museum at night during 16.00 – 20.30 Hrs. every Friday and Saturday from December 2015 – March 2016.

Moreover, as the nation and the entire world get into the holiday spirit, TAT is inviting local and international tourists to join in Christmas celebrations, which will be held in several venues, including:


Bangkok Illumination 2015 (1 December 2015 – 3 January 2016): The centre stage of the Christmas celebration in Bangkok this year seems to be in the areas around Sukhumvit Sois 26 – 31 which is the location of the Emporium, Emquartier and Benjasiri Park. The area will become the venue for Bangkok's first international festival of light, sound and visual arts, providing spaces for light arts created by a number of Thai and foreign artists as well as academic students.

Bangkok Street Show 2015 (4 – 6 December 2015) The Bangkok Street Show is the outdoor festival which will be conducted in Lumphini park with active performances and free admission in which every year the programmes will be more exciting. The Bangkok Street Show event spans a weekend in December totaling more than 30 performers from around the world and takes place annually in Bangkok. This is to help endorse the image of the “City of Happiness and Culture” to the Bangkok Metropolitan area and also represent Amazing Thailand and to elevate this opportunity to be a world-renowned event as well.

A Happy Fairy Tale (13 November 2015 – 15 January 2016): Thailand's Central Pattana and Hong Kong Disneyland bring a parade of popular Disney characters; such as, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and friends, Princess Elsa, Princess Rapunzel, the Toy Story characters, and more, along with special decorations and sparkling decorative lights that turn CentralWorld, CentralPlaza and CentralFestival shopping centres into fairy-tale towns. Disney fans can participate in 'A Happy Fairy Tale' at CentralWorld, and all branches of CentralPlaza and CentralFestival shopping centres nationwide by dressing up as any Disney character and taking a photo to post on your Facebook or IG with a message explaining why they like that character. Include #CPNaHappyFairytale #HKDisneyland for a chance to win a special free package tour to Hong Kong Disneyland.

Eastern Thailand

Sweet Christmas @ Chanthaburi (24-25 December 2015): Chanthaburi province has the largest Christian community in Thailand, and this year has planned a grand 2015 Christmas celebrations with a spectacular 3D animation light-and-sound presentation at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic cathedral in Thailand and Southeast Asia. Highlights also include musical firework displays, colourful parade of Santa Paradise, love and gifts sharing activities, and a giant Christmas tree. Visitors can also pay respect and ask for good blessings from the sacred Maria goddess inside the church.

Northeastern Thailand

Sakon Nakhon Christmas Star Parade (23 – 25 December 2015): Sakon Nakhon is celebrating Christmas with the dazzling star parade on more than 200 cars together with a Santa Claus and angels parade. Visitors are invited to join the Mass ceremony and carry the star while walking around the church. There is also the stage play of Jesus' birth, choirs, star crafting demonstration and taking a tram to visit Tha Rae village and see the old buildings in colonial style, which is the architecture influenced by the French.

4th Christmas Tree Festival in Loei (28 November 2015 – 31 January 2016): Loei province is Thailand's largest producer of Christmas trees or poinsettia in Thailand. Nearly 100,000 poinsettia trees are grown over 5 rai in Phu Rua giving the provincial authorities a good reason to organise the Christmas tree festival or Phu Rua Poinsettia Festival. Held at the entrance to Phu Rua National Park, the event allows visitors to enjoy the pleasant cool weather amidst the beautiful red leaves of Christmas trees. At night, visitors can also enjoy beautiful lanterns lightened up to celebrate the Christmas event.

Southern Thailand

2nd Phangan Colour Moon Festival (9 – 13 December 2015): The Phangan Colour Moon Festival 2015 will be held at the Phangan Royal Ship Memorial Museum, Thong Sala Pier, Ko Phangan, Surat Thani. At the event, visitors can explore and discover the latest developments on the island as well as the charming past through several activities including a photo exhibition and competition and painting exhibition telling the charm of Ko Phangan in the good old days, beach party fashion show, body paint competition, and bartender competition.

Northern Thailand

The Colours of Doi Tung Festival in Chiang Rai: The Colours of Doi Tung Festival is returning to transform the mountains of Doi Tung into the highest elevated walking street in Thailand at 1,000 metres above sea level, filled with shops, food, arts and entertainments every weekend from 28 November 2015 to 31 January 2016, as well as on 5 December 2015 and during the entire week of 26 December 2015 to 3 January 2016. The Colors of Doi Tung makes the hills more vibrant and colorful than ever with exhibitions all around. The main art exhibition, “Wisdom of the Inspirer” by over 20 artists from ArtBridge ChiangRai commemorates the Princess Mother and conveys her vision of man and nature in harmony, presenting an abundance of flowers, forests, and all kinds of animals big and small.

Tags: thailand, travel, Tourism, christmas, New Year's Eve, Bangkok, celebration

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Solomon Airlines signs new Melanesian Codeshare Partnership

Honiara, Solomon Islands – Hard on the heels of commencing a significant codeshare agreement with Qantas Airways, Solomon Airlines has now officially validated a tripartite codeshare agreement with fellow Melanesian carriers Air Niugini and Air Vanuatu.

Initially announced in principle last February, the watershed agreement confirming the codeshare was officially signed by the heads of all three carriers at the bi-annual Association of South Pacific Airlines (ASPA) AGM taking place in Brisbane.

Under the terms of the accord, Solomon Airlines will be in position to buy seats from Air Niugini on its four weekly flights from Port Moresby to Honiara and vice versa.

The codeshare also extends to a weekly Port Vila service which Solomon Airlines will codeshare with Air Vanuatu as well as the PNG national carrier.

Solomon Airlines CEO, Captain Ron Sumsum said a reservations system required for the service had already been tested with flying colours and all three carriers were in position to commence operation of the new service by 01 January 2016 "if not sooner."

This will enable passengers travelling on these routes to book and pay for flights at competitive rates.

"The benefits to the Melanesian region with all three airlines working in unison are a major boost for the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) mandate and will play a key role in further promoting MSG ideals," Captain Sumsum said.

His comment was echoed by the Secretary General of ASPA, Mr George Faktaufon who cited this example of working together, partnering in association and entering into commercial agreement as one of the fundamental ideals promoted by his organisation.

Accompanying image - Hand in hand in Melanesian unity (from left) , Air Vanuatu CEO, Joseph Laloyer, Air Niugini CEO and ASPA chairman, Simon Foo and Solomon Airlines CEO, Captain Ron Sumsum.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Alpha Sovereign Hotel opens on the Gold Coast

Alpha Opens its Fourth Hotel

Alpha Hotels & Resorts has opened its fourth and largest hotel so far, with the rebranding of the 180-room Australis Sovereign Hotel. The twin tower property, located on Ferny Avenue on the north side of Surfers Paradise, opened as Alpha Sovereign Hotel Gold Coast on 4 December 2015.

An extensive refurbishment of the hotel has taken place this year, with further rejuvenation of its range of accommodation options for couples and families planned in 2016. The property boasts well-designed leisure facilities with a large heated pool and spa, BBQ area, alfresco restaurant and bar, free unlimited WiFi, gym, games room and valet parking.

Jonathan Wooller, Founder and Managing Partner of Alpha Hotels & Resorts said, "The Gold Coast property is an important addition to the Alpha network, as our first hotel in such a popular and thriving holiday and leisure destination.

"The outlook for the region is very positive with recent increases in the number of international visitors. As the host destination for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast accommodation sector will receive a boost in the lead up to, during and in the years after the event."

To celebrate the opening, Alpha Sovereign Hotel is offering 30% off for stays of two nights or more from 1 February – 30 June 2016. This opening special is available for the next 7 days for bookings made on Valid until 15 December 2015. Some block-out dates apply.

Alpha Sovereign Hotel is situated just few blocks away from the buzzing heart of Surfers Paradise and only 5 minutes walk to long stretches of golden beaches.

Gold Coast theme parks are nearby or accessible via the Theme Park Express, with some of the area's best shopping connected via the G:link Light Rail, so guests can commute quickly to Broadbeach, Centro Surfers Paradise, Chevron Renaissance and Pacific fair.

Last year, Alpha Hotels & Resorts opened Alpha Mosaic Hotel Brisbane, where it owns and operates the hotel and the management letting rights for the 213 residential apartments. The group also owns and operates Alpha Canberra Hotel & Apartments and Alpha Eastern Creek, which is currently undergoing a refurbishment with an additional 60 rooms and a club floor to accommodate growing demand corporate accommodation in the area.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Niseko-based begins informative daily Niseko snow reports

Rod White, Niseko-based Snow Reporter and off-piste mountain guide, provides an up-to-date summary every morning. His report covers every detail a skier or snowboarder could wish for.

White uses a multitude of sources to create his very informative daily report that includes Current Temperatures, both at the ski town (Hirafu) and higher elevations (Top Station of the resort's ski lifts), Wind Speed, Snow last 24 hours, Wind Direction, Snow to Date,  Visibility, Lift Status of all Niseko's interconnected ski areas, Avalanche Report and Weather Report.

White also states at the foot of every Niseko Snow Report:

Snow report information is compiled and interpreted from various Japanese weather sites and models made current for the day and the 3-5 day outlook.

Snow fall 24hr periods are measured at approximately 7.30am daily in Hirafu Village base lifts and data from the avalanche report which indicates accumulations at both the base of Moiwa and the 1000metre level.

Further on mountain observations are also included and like any ski resort, more intense snow accumulations occur at mid and upper mountain elevations of average approximations of 20%.

These approximations are conservative. Hence, base lift depth historically speaking is almost 50% less on any given year than mid to top station snow pack.

Find White's informative Niseko Snow and Weather daily reports via

Friday, December 4, 2015

New Years Eve in Sydney - best vantage spots

Vantage spots and parties to celebrate the New Year in Sydney
With Sydney set to throw the world’s most exciting New Year’s Eve party featuring outstanding fireworks displays, Destination NSW reveals some of the city’s best vantage points and parties for revellers to ring in the New Year.
NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said, “Sydney is the first major city in the world to ring in the New Year. All eyes are on our beautiful Harbour as it comes alive with the biggest New Year’s Eve show in the world.
“Sydney boasts the highest number of spectators to any New Year’s Eve celebration in the world. In 2014/15, an astonishing 1.6 million people lined the shores of Sydney Harbour to view the city’s world famous New Year’s Eve fireworks. In comparison, New York received one million spectators; London received 700,000 and Paris received 100,000[1],” Mr Ayres said.
Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, “Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations attract visitors from across the country and the globe – all keen to celebrate on Sydney’s beautiful Harbour on a warm summer night. The world’s largest New Year’s Eve spectator celebration is a great way to begin or end a memorable holiday in NSW.”
For those visitors planning their trip to Sydney’s world-renowned New Year’s Eve fireworks, Destination NSW suggests they catch the festivities from one of the following hotspots:
Walsh Bay

Watch the spectacular New Year’s Eve festivities from The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf as the sun sets over the glittering waters of Sydney one last time in 2015. Looking at the western façade of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf has one of the best vantage points of the fireworks and will play host to a fabulous party serving delicious food, great cocktails and live entertainment. Tickets start at $245 and include gourmet canapés and a glass of sparkling served at midnight.
Barangaroo Reserve
New Year’s Eve at Barangaroo Reserve (DNSW)
This year, celebrate New Year’s Eve at Sydney’s sensational new harbour headland park, Barangaroo Reserve. The Reserve will offer superb value for a prime view of the iconic Sydney Harbour fireworks and this year’s new illuminations on the western façade of the Harbour Bridge. Gates open at 6.00pm and the site will feature light entertainment, picnic spaces and family-friendly alcohol-free zones, as well as licenced areas. Tickets are priced at $14.50 for children and $29.50 for adults (children aged three and under are free).
The Rocks
Campbell's Cove, located on Hickson Road north of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, offers front row views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.  Revellers are advised to arrive early as the area usually closes to new arrivals at around 4.00pm. Admission: Free; Opening times: 8am 31 December to 2am 1 January.
Sydney CBD
Sitting 47 floors above the city and offering 360 degree views from the deck of a revolving restaurant, O Bar and Dining is one of the most exclusive places in Sydney to see in the New Year. Choose to dine in the relaxed tapas lounge or take in Sydney from all angles in the unique circular dining room. The cuisine is based on chef and owner Michael Moore’s healthy eating philosophy and complements an extensive wine list and innovative cocktail menu of modern, classic and vintage drinks. Tickets start at $395.
The Royal Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens Restaurant will host an exquisite garden party this New Year’s Eve with open-air dining and an exclusive vantage point to watch the fireworks. Guests can enjoy French champagne and canapés on arrival, followed by a seven-course degustation menu. Live music will be played all night and a private lawn will provide the perfect spot to witness the harbour fireworks in all their glory. Tickets are priced at $500 per person (18 years+ only).
Mrs Macquaries Point is one of the most popular viewing spots for New Year’s Eve due to the location’s fantastic views of the fireworks displays. This vantage point also offers catering and bar services for purchase. Admission: Free; Opening times: 10am 31 December to 12.30am
1 January.
Sydney Harbour Islands
A new event in 2015, Shark Island will be transformed into an island paradise this New Year’s Eve. Guests will be treated to a South American-inspired party with fabulous food, live music and some of the best views of Sydney Harbour. Dance all night to the sounds of Aussie electronica act Juggernaut DJs (Midnight Juggernauts) and Sydney’s Recess DJs and enjoy a Mexican feast of mouth-watering tacos and burritos at the pop-up taqueira. Tickets start at $160.
Sydney’s four other islands – Fort Denison, Cockatoo Island, Goat Island and Clark Island – offer a range of exciting New Year’s Eve events. For a luxurious evening head to the black-tie event on Fort Denison for $1,000 per person or for a more lively celebration book a ticket to enjoy a three-course meal and Garden Party on Clark Island with tickets priced at $375 for adults and $225 for children. Children under five are free.
On the water
New Years Eve on Sydney Harbour (DNSW)
For a ‘ferry good view’ of the fireworks jump aboard an iconic Sydney Harbour Ferry for a front row seat of all the fireworks action. This year, the Lady Northcott Ferry will be part of the official Harbour of Lights Parade, the centrepiece of Sydney’s New Year celebrations in which a select group of vessels, adorned in brilliant lights, cruise up and down the centre of the harbour. Guests on the Lady Northcott can pack a picnic to enjoy onboard with tickets starting from $350 for adults and$299 for concession. Alternatively, revellers can stay close to shore and catch the fireworks from the back of a Ferry at Circular Quay. Tickets start at $250 for adults.
A dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour on New Year’s Eve is the ultimate way to welcome in 2016. Enjoy an amazing view of the fireworks from within the Sydney Harbour exclusion zone on a Captain Cook Cruise. Tickets range from $165 per person for the NYE Manly 9pm Fireworks cruise to $995 per person for the first-class NYE Show Deck Dinner.
McMahons Point
Blues Point Reserve is a fantastic location to catch all the New Year’s Eve action. Head to this location early in the day to grab a spot to see the western façade of Sydney Harbour Bridge and the skies above light up. Admission: Free; Opening times: 12pm 31 December to 1am 1 January.
Circular Quay
Welcome in 2016 at a summer beach party in the middle of the city at Opera Bar. With the Harbour Bridge directly in front, the Opera House to one side and the city skyline above, Opera Bar is one of the best spots in Sydney to watch the world-famous fireworks display. Come dressed in beach attire and dance the night away amidst palm trees and harbour views at this inner-city beach party. Kicking off at 6pm, tickets start at $394 and include express VIP entry to the Sydney Opera House, live entertainment and a 5-hour canapé package.  
To nab a spot on the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House it’s best to arrive as early as possible as this iconic spot reaches capacity early in the day. Food and drinks are available for purchase onsite. Admission: Free; Opening times: 7.30am 31 December to 2am 1 January.
Milsons Point
Bradfield Park is a popular site for families offering views from the eastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s one of the best views of both the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Admission: Free; Opening times: 12pm 31 December to 12.15am 1 January.
Darling Harbour
New Years Eve at Cockle Bay (DNSW)
Viewing spots around Cockle Bay are prized locations and this year will be no exception. With a free program of live music and flame-jet shows, as well as the famous 9pm and Midnight fireworks, Cockle Bay is set to be one of the most exciting, free locations to celebrate the end of 2015. Admission: Free; Opening times: 7am 31 December to 4am 1 January.
While demand is high, revellers can still book a hotel room in the city to ring in the New Year. Accor Hotels reports availability across the group’s portfolio of hotels, including Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour, Sofitel Sydney Wentworth, Pullman Hyde Park and Mercure Sydney. But travellers are advised to book fast as hotels will be at 100 per cent capacity on 31 December.
For a full list of Sydney New Year’s Eve vantage points visit
For more information on Sydney, visit

Traveloscopy | 

The Millennial Traveller: Wego debunks the myths, the leading travel search site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, today debunks the array of profiles and descriptions of what some are calling the second baby boom generation.

“Many in the travel industry are focussed on establishing an authentic profile of the Millennial Traveller, and for good reason,” said Rick Mulia, Chief Advertising and Sales Officer for Wego. “Considered the next baby boomers, Millennial Travellers in the US alone will reach 78 million by 2020, and outnumber baby boomers by 18 million.”

Rick Mulia, Chief Advertising and Sales Officer for Wego
By 2020 spending by Millennials on goods and services will reach USD$1.4 trillion, up from US$600 billion in 2013. To effectively reach this market, largely born between 1984 and 2004, Mulia says that travel marketers need to rethink their approach and be able to sort through, and go beyond existing myths.

“Some travel marketers are doing a great job, but unfortunately more are getting it wrong,” Mulia said. “It’s not quite as simple as relying on a set of common, and rather vague signals, including reliance on travel review sites, the use of metasearch, mobile usage, social media and continuous connectivity.”

“Some of these signals, such as connectivity and social media usage are important, yet fairly obvious and not restricted to Millennials either, but at Wego, we’ve dug deeper, beyond vague interpretations. Reliance on these assumptions alone will not deliver, or more importantly connect, marketers to the Millennial Traveller.”

“Travel reviews are popular, however Millennials are far more influenced by family and friends when it comes to making travel choices, and don’t rely solely on review sites to make their decisions,” he continued. “Another myth is that Millennials prefer travelling solo, yet a 2013 BCG study found that Millennials enjoy travelling in organised groups, or with extended family or friends, so if your strategy is focussed on individual travel experiences, you could be missing the mark.”

“At Wego we advise our advertising clients to approach Millennial Travellers by focusing on a good mobile experience, integrating clever social media and ensuring the path to purchase is as frictionless as possible,” Mulia added. “Their content needs to cut through the noise, communicate with authentic messaging and create a seamless process from planning, booking and undertaking a trip.”

“Yet another myth is that Millennials are extremely budget conscious,” Mulia continued. “However the truth is that they want what we all do; great value without missing out on those added comforts, which make a huge impression on them. In this way they’re actually driving changes in the way the travel industry caters to them already.”

“Starwood’s Aloft Hotel, for example, which is designed to appeal to the Millennials with the slogan ‘Style at a steal’, removed their lobby restaurant and business centre and replaced them with a Starbucks-style, pay as you go, beverage and snack bar.”

“Hotels are evolving to become more frequently ‘un-hotels’,” said Mulia. “They’re rethinking the bed/bathroom concept to appear less like a hotel room, and more like a home away from home. Accommodation like Zoku in Amsterdam, which is more like a temporary residence than a hotel room, are very popular with Millennials. The smart, compact design, appeals to their desire for great style, but at a budget price.”

Airlines too are especially targeting Millennials with Premium Economy seats, delivering an affordable, yet slightly more comfortable flight experience.

“Wego has now introduced the option of searching Premium Economy airfares and invested heavily in developing the Wego travel app to ensure the travel planning and booking experience is seamless and intuitive,” he said. “No matter what, if you’re in the business of travel it’s imperative you consistently evolve and deliver fresh experiences that provide great value, and approach your marketing strategies in the same manner.”

“Forget the myths, the Millennial Traveller is smart, informed, tech savvy and mingles with a lot of like-minded travellers. Their presence in the travel market is still developing and smart marketers will remain open to developing with them, by remaining flexible and responsive to fully meet their needs,” Mulia concluded.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Eichardt’s Private Hotel New Zealand’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel


Three times a charm for Eichardt's Private Hotel at World Ski Awards

It was once, twice, three times a winner as Eichardt's Private Hotel took out the distinguished title of New Zealand's Best Ski Boutique Hotel at the annual World Ski Awards for the third consecutive year.

Acknowledging exceptional success in the ski tourism industry, the luxury Queenstown hotel was presented the award at a glamourous black tie Gala Ceremony held last night (November 21) in Kitzbühel, Austria.

The event was attended by ski tourism figureheads and market leaders from North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Australasia and took into account votes from thousands of ski tourism professionals and members of the public to determine the best of the best across the globe.

Eichardt's Private Hotel owner Andrew Cox praises his team for their unwavering commitment to excellence across all levels of the hotel proposition.

"Queenstown is known as the skiing capital of the Southern Hemisphere so to be awarded three years consecutively as the best choice for premium accommodation is certainly a proud moment.

"Our team works hard to go above and beyond to identify the best in skiing experiences to our guests.  This can mean anything from private boot and board/ski fittings in their suite to heli-skiing on untouched powder, so it's great to see their diligence recognised on the world stage."

World Ski Awards Managing Director Sion Rapson launched the World Ski Awards in 2013 with the aim to drive up standards within the ski industry and reward the organisations that are leaders in their field.

"Each winner can take enormous pride – they have been voted the finest in class against stiff competition," Rapson said.

The hotel is part of the Imperium Collection, a collective of accommodation and dining offers including The Spire Hotel, Eichardt's Private Hotel, Eichardt's Bar, Eichardt's Lakefront Apartments, Eichardt's Residence and No5 Church Lane Restaurant and Bar. The Spire Hotel was recently awarded Oceania and Australasia's best luxury boutique hotel at the World Luxury Hotel Awards, which is the sister ceremony to the World Ski Awards.

Rates at Eichardt's Private Hotel start from NZ$1,250 per night for one-bedroom Apartments and NZ$1,700 for Suites.  In 2016 the hotel will launch a $10,000 per night accommodation package in its new penthouse currently under construction.

Location and rates

Eichardt's is located at 2 Marine Parade, in the centre of the township and 8km from Queenstown airport. 

Airlines including Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar fly direct to Queenstown from major ports in Australia and New Zealand.

Eichardt's accommodation starts from NZ$1,250 per night for one-bedroom apartments and NZ$1,700 for Hotel suites.

The hotel is part of the Imperium Collection, a collective of accommodation and dining offers including The Spire Hotel, Eichardt's Private Hotel, Eichardt's Bar, Eichardt's Lakefront Apartments, Eichardt's Residence and No5 Church Lane Restaurant and Bar.

For bookings, phone +64 3 441 0450 or email

For further information visit

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cape Nidhra Hotel Hua Hin voted Southeast Asia’s Best Design Boutique Hotel

Cape Nidhra Hotel Hua Hin has been named 'Southeast Asia's Best Design Boutique Hotel' at the World Boutique Hotel Awards.

With over 300 hotels reviewed by the judges, this prestigious award is a massive recognition for the luxury property further enhancing its positioning as one of Thailand's top boutique hotels.

The judges' evaluation was based on various elements such as design and concept, emotional connection and impact but above all on flair, character and feel.

Set on the legendary Hua Hin Beach in the heart of Thailand's royal seaside resort, Cape Nidhra Hotel Hua Hin offers a range of elegant pool suites featuring distinctive contemporary Asian design.  Member of Small Luxury Hotels, the exclusive 5-star property does not only excel in accommodation but also in personalised service, extensive facilities, tranquil comfort and unrivalled luxury.

All 59 suites are stylish, lavish and modern in design. Suite sizes vary with the smallest category, the Sky Pool Suite, featuring 80 square metres of living space and the hotel's top-end 'flagship' Nidhrarom suite featuring 300 square metres of contemporary sleek living space following an open-flow concept and coming with private butler service.

Hotel facilities include The Rocks Restaurant, On The Rocks bar, a fitness centre, a large swimming pool, Cape Spa and water sports.

While Hua Hin has become one of Thailand's most sought-after locations in recent years, it has still managed to keep the charm of a sustained seaside town appealing to those travellers who are after relaxation and authenticity. Cape Nidhra is only a short walk from the renowned Hua Hin night markets as well as shopping, restaurants and nightlife.

Rex to Commence Services to the Snowy Mountains

Regional Express (Rex), in partnership with Snowy Mountains Airport Corporation Pty Ltd (SMAC), has today announced that it will commence Regular Public Transport (RPT) services between Sydney and the Snowy Mountains (Cooma) in March 2016.

Services will commence from Wednesday 23 March 2016 for the Easter period, with the core schedule of five return services per week commencing from Monday 28 March 2016. Additional services on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays will operate through the ski season.

The Snowy Mountains region has been without RPT air services since mid December 2013 when the prior operator Brindabella Airlines was placed into receivership.

Rex General Manager Network Strategy & Sales, Mr Warrick Lodge said, “Rex is thrilled to re-establish RPT services to the Snowy Mountains in partnership with Snowy Mountains Airport Corporation. We look forward to collaborating with SMAC to offer a quality service for the residents of the Snowy Mountains and for the many visitors to the region during both the winter and summer seasons. The air service is a vital link for the region, and will bring significant socio-economic benefits to the Snowy Mountains.”

“We have worked closely with SMAC to design the schedule and determine the seasonal timings of the service and will work with them and local tourism operators and organisations to promote the services.”

This is not the first time that Rex has operated RPT services to the Snowy Mountains. Rex operated services to the region for three years until the severe worldwide pilot shortage of 2007/08 forced Rex to suspend a number of services across its network. The Regional Express Group formed the Australian Airline Pilot Academy (AAPA), its pilot training facility based in Wagga Wagga, to combat this issue.

Cooma: 16kms Berridale: 17kms Jindabyne: 46kms Adaminaby: 54kms
Skitube: 67kms Perisher Valley: 77kms Thredbo Village: 80kms
Charlotte Pass: 85kms Selwyn Snowfields: 98kms
Chairman of Snowy Mountains Airport Corporation, Kevin Blyton is delighted that Snowy Mountains Airport will again welcome Rex to the region.

“Rex delivered a very reliable and safe service in the past and the resumption of regular year round flights to and from Sydney provides an important link for the people of the Snowy Mountains.”

“We look forward to working with Rex in providing the best possible air service to satisfy the needs of both the business and tourism sectors for many years to come,” he added.

The services will be operated by Rex's fleet of 34-seat Saab 340 aircraft and fares start at $149 each way (plus a booking/services surcharge).

From today, reservations can be made on the web via, by phoning 13 17 13 or through your local travel agent. The confirmed schedule is shown in the Annex.

Regional Express (Rex) is Australia's largest independent regional airline operating a fleet of more than 40 Saab 340 aircraft on some 1,400 weekly flights to 54 destinations throughout New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland. The Rex Group comprises Regional Express, air freight and charter operator Pel-Air Aviation and Dubbo based regional airline Air Link, as well as the pilot academy Australian Airline Pilot Academy.

Traveloscopy | 

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places