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Friday, August 28, 2015

Sofitel Luxury Hotels photo exhibition “Revealed”


Exhibition of images curated by Pablo Picasso's grandson Olivier Widmaier Picasso embarks on three-month tour in September

​"Revealed" by Sofitel includes behind the scenes photos of the world's modern artists at work including Dali (left), Picasso (center) and van Dongen (right)

 Sofitel Luxury Hotels is launching a compelling photo exhibition "Revealed" to provide an intimate look at the world's greatest modern artists at work, with the first exhibit in Australia commencing at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth during December.

The free exhibition has been curated by Olivier Widmaier Picasso, grandson of Pablo Picasso and author of Picasso, Portrait Intime (Albin Michel/Arte éditions), with 30 hand-selected photographs from the archives of Paris Match, the famous French weekly magazine.

This worldwide exhibition will be on show at three Sofitel hotels in Auckland, Sydney and Melbourne from September. The exhibitions are part of a world tour that has already been to six cities in North America and five in Europe as well as China and Bangkok.

Among the prized photographs to be displayed is a black-and-white image of Pablo Picasso eyeing a Dalmatian longing to climb upon his lap; Salvador Dalí seen sitting in an animal exhibit at the Paris Zoo; Jeff Koons styling a BMW for the 24 Hours of Le Mans; Pierre Soulages crouching over a work in progress; Kees Van Dongen painting a posing Brigitte Bardot; and other striking images depicting Rene Magritte, Marc Chagall, Fernando Botero, Joan Miro, Jean Cocteau, Francis Bacon, and more.

"We are proud to be associated with the "Revealed" exhibition as it embodies the Sofitel pillar of art and culture," says Clive Scott, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins General Manager.

"This compelling exhibition provides an intimate look at the some of the world's greatest artists at work, from Picasso to Dali, Chagall to Jeff Koons, Miró to Matisse."

"Revealed" by Sofitel will be a free exhibit for guests and locals alike. The exhibitions will take place at the following Sofitel properties:

·         Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour – 15 September 2015 to 23 October 2015
·         Sofitel Sydney Wentworth –  14 December 2015 to 29 January 2016
·         Sofitel Melbourne on Collins – 8 February 2016 to 29 March 2016

About Olivier Widmaier Picasso

Olivier Widmaier Picasso studied law and works as a producer and advisor for audiovisual media in Paris as well as a license developer with numerous artists including the name and works of his grandfather Pablo Picasso. He recently coproduced and hosted TV documentaries about contemporary art and opera, and portraits of major creators in fashion, design, photography, architecture and music. His mother, Maya, is the daughter of Pablo Picasso and Marie-Thérèse Walter, with whom the artist was together from 1927 until 1944. He is the author of "Picasso, portrait intime" published in November 2013 (Albin Michel/Arte Éditions), soon to be translated in English, from which the TV documentary "Picasso, the legacy" has been adapted and will be broadcast worldwide.

Find out more about Sofitel at |

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thai and global tourism authorities reassure the world Thailand remains welcoming tourist destination

#Thailand #Bangkok

Thai authorities and global tourism bodies have today stepped forward to reassure the world that Thailand remains a welcoming tourist destination, saying the recent explosion incidents in Bangkok will inevitably have short-term impacts and that the kingdom's tourism industry will bounce back strongly and quickly towards the end of the year.

H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports during a group interview post-press conference, along with Mr. Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO's Executive Secretary of Member Relations (on her left) and Mr. David Scowsill, WTTC's President and CEO (on her right).

The message of assurance and confidence was raised during this morning's press conference organised by Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and Sports and presented by representatives from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), the Tourist Police Division, the United Nations' World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). The event was held at the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok Hotel.

H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports (third from right) chaired today's press conference, which was also presented by Mr. David Scowsill, WTTC's President and CEO (far right), Mr. Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO's Executive Secretary of Member Relations (second from right), Mr. Areepong Bhoocha-oom, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Sports ( third from left), Colonel Winthai Suvaree, Spokesman of the NCPO (second from left), and Police Colonel Supaset Chokchai, Deputy National Commander of the Tourist Police Division (far left).

H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports said, "We intentionally use this hotel as it is located next to the Erawan Shrine to reassure our confidence. I am deeply sorry for what has happened, but I do believe that the impact from this tragic incident will be short term and that Thailand will bounce back very quickly thanks to good friendships of our friends. The UNWTO and WTTC have taken immediate actions to reaffirm their confidence in Thailand through international media. My special thanks to Australian Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Abbott, who urged his fellow citizens to continue to travel here and all friends of Thailand from across the globe who insisted via social media on visiting Thailand no matter what."

H.E. Kobkarn expressed her confidence that the target of 28.8 million tourist arrivals and 2.2 trillion Baht revenue, including 1.4 trillion Baht from international tourists, will be achieved based on the booking trend in the remaining months the year and the significant growth in the tourism performance in the first half of this year.

Mr. Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO's Executive Secretary of Member Relations said, "I would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to the affected people, and reiterate our support to the people of Thailand. Thailand has a long tradition of being a hospitable and welcoming country and we fully believe it will continue to be so."

Through discussions with Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports, UNWTO has lined up a number of supports for the Thai tourism industry, starting with Mr. Vogeler's presence at today's press conference as a short-term action to reiterate that "Thailand is not alone." In the next steps, UNWTO Secretary-General, Mr. Taleb Rifai, is to pay a visit to Thailand to further reaffirming the confidence in the kingdom while H.E. Kobkarn will be invited to deliver a message from Thailand at some of UNWTO's meetings this year. In addition, Thailand has been chosen as the host country for the World Tourism Day 2016 which is scheduled on 27 September, 2016. "All these actions and directions show our solidarity to reiterate that Thailand has our full support," Mr. Vogeler concluded.

Mr. David Scowsill, WTTC's President and CEO said, "It is highly regrettable that Thailand, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, has been the target of this violence. Fortunately, Thailand has shown its resilience in the past from national disasters and other disruptions, and we hope that the situation will stabilise and return to normal very quickly."

H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports during a group interview post-press conference, along with Mr. Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO's Executive Secretary of Member Relations (on her left) and Mr. David Scowsill, WTTC's President and CEO (on her right).

Mr. Areepong Bhoocha-oom, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Sports said prior to the 17 August's incident, Suvarnabhumi Airport recorded around 85,000 arrivals per day. He said the number was expected to fluctuate within these couple of weeks, pointing out as "not a significant drop," and that the figure is still higher than last year.

Going forward, Thailand is set to further strengthen security measure as prevention approach to ensure safety and security for the locals and tourists.

Colonel Winthai Suvaree, Spokesman of the NCPO, said "In the initial response, security and safety measures have been heightened through increased presence of security forces at destinations and venues popular with tourists or densely populated. Extra security, including strict checks of security measures at venues, has also been in place to address any loopholes and ensure proper management of these measures in a systematic manner.'

Police Colonel Supaset Chokchai, Deputy National Commander of the Tourist Police Division said, "Increased security and safety measures have been in place at all key tourists areas across the country. In Bangkok alone, there are 1,600 military personnel and 2,400 police officers providing 24 hours security for locals and tourists in all precincts under 48 police stations."

H.E. Kobkarn concluded, "I'd like to convey my heartfelt appreciation to the unity of the Thai people. In crisis, all Thai rises up, extends a helping hand, and are united in their promises to carry out the tasks of assisting our affected friends until the very end, until the last injured tourist is sent home. In crisis, there are many unknown angels who come together not only for short term but also for medium and long term to counter any issues as this is Our Home, Our Country, Stronger Together."

Thailand welcomed the 20 millionth visitors on 26 August 2015. For this year, TAT has set a target of 1.4 trillion Baht tourism income for the Thai economy.

Travel agency deregulation - let's not lose sight of the big picture: Merricks

Mobile Travel Agents’ Managing Director, Roy Merricks
Roy Merricks

MTA – Constructive debate is good but let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture.

Responding to comments once again questioning the credibility of a deregulated travel industry in the wake of six highly publicised agency collapses and calling for further debate, MTA – Mobile Travel Agents co-managing director, Roy Merricks has said while he agreed productive discourse is a good thing, the industry must not lose sight of the bigger picture.

Supporting deregulation, he said, was some very sound research, in the main instigated by AFTA but also drawing on wide ranging industry consultation across a more than five year period leading into the launch of ATAS on 01 July 2014.

“There was nothing to be gained by change simply for the sake of change,” Mr Merricks said.

“But the quality of the data in a Regulatory Impact Statement was compelling enough to result in a balanced conclusion as evidenced by government ratification state by state across the country which in itself was no mean feat.

“Yes there have been six known agency failures in the twelve months since deregulation but the reality is that the market is no longer localised geographically and product and process innovation are likely to have much larger consumer welfare effects overall.

“Simply because they can happen now, comprehensive consumer financial guarantees continue to evolve and be developed by several industry networks, all of which are intended to provide consumer protection limited to the insolvency of any of its members, effectively replacing the former TCF consumer protection.

“MTA is one of these networks and we have been extremely proactive in this area.

“In February we launched Zero Flight Risk™ whereby any client purchasing travel products and services through MTA can rest assured the company will guarantee their funds in the event of any approved travel intermediary or supplier becoming insolvent and being unable to deliver the product or service.

“One year on from deregulation, there is also no doubt the travel landscape has changed and will continue to change.

“But at the end of the day, the bigger picture comes back to education and elevation of standards (ATAS) and continues to be the progressive way forward.”


Monday, August 24, 2015

Canberra Counts Down to Floriade 2015


The countdown to Australia's biggest celebration of spring is on; there is officially less than a month to go until Floriade opens its gates for the 28th year.

Final preparations are being made at Commonwealth Park ahead of the event's opening on Saturday 12 September to more than one million blooms and an engaging line-up of demonstrations, activities and entertainment for all ages.

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli, Canberra's flagship event will pay tribute through the theme of Reflection, while embracing a future full of brilliant possibilities. The world-class flower beds will depict iconic symbols like the poppy, the Southern Cross, two-up and the famous slouch hat.

Visitors to Australia's biggest celebration of spring can pick up gardening tips from experts in the field, listen to inspiring musical performances, enjoy culinary demonstrations by world-renowned chefs and keep the kids entertained with an exciting line up of entertainment.

As the sun sets on Commonwealth Park, Floriade NightFest will take visitors on a journey of discovery for five nights only with spectacular lighting designs, roving performers, bustling night markets and a fantastic line-up of entertainment.

NightFest will feature two new pop-up venues – La Petite Grande and The Little Palais – which will surprise crowds with classy sideshows, quirky circus acts, a silent disco and a UV dance party.

The Comedy Cave will offer a relaxed atmosphere featuring entertainment from top Aussie acts Hannah Gadsby and Joel Creasey, while a variety of delicious food and wine workshops will leave mouths watering.

For the first time in 2015, Floriade NightFest's VIP Experience will present an exclusive opportunity to enjoy the after-dark event in style. The VIP Experience will include a twilight ferry ride across Lake Burley Griffin, entry to NightFest, as well as drinks, canapés and an exclusive set by comedian Hannah Gadsby in the VIP marquee.

Tickets for the eighth edition of Floriade NightFest are now on sale, as Canberra's largest event gets set to welcome guests after dark. For full program information visit

Floriade will be held in Commonwealth Park from September 12 to October 11, 2015. For more information, visit and discover what else is on in Canberra this spring at

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Pullman Magenta Shores opens Shallows Bar in time for spring


L-R: Wood Fired Pizza Oven; Pullman Magenta Shores Resort; Shallow's Bar


Pullman Magenta Shores Resort has unveiled a new addition to its restaurant offering with the opening of Shallows Bar – a relaxed and casual all day alfresco dining experience overlooking the golf course.

The fully renovated contemporary space features all new furnishings and lounges and boasts a Wood Fired Pizza Oven on the outdoor terrace which is complemented by a Mediterranean-style pizza menu from Executive Chef Paul Clune.

Spring will see the launch of an extensive Grill menu which will sit alongside the restaurant's Tapastry menu, as designed by Pullman Culinary Ambassador, Justin North.

Located only 90 minutes' drive north of Sydney, the new dining space has all the right ingredients for an impressive culinary experience and 5-star getaway.

Pullman Magenta Shores Resort's recently refurbished 1, 2 and 3-bedroom villas come with separate lounge and dining area, fully self-contained kitchens, a laundry,  plus a large furnished courtyard and your choice of golf course, lagoon pool or garden views.

The resort boasts a Vie Spa day spa with five treatment rooms, an award-winning golf course, Barretts Restaurant and the newly unveiled, Shallows Bar.

For further information, head to |


Thailand Tourism Situation Update on 23 August 2015

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to report that in the wake of Monday’s incident at Ratchaprasong’s Erawan Shrine, tourist events and activities are continuing as normal in the city with Bangkok’s most popular attractions and shopping districts still thronging with visitors enjoying the wide range of attractions on offer.

Normality returned to the areas of the city most popular with tourists thanks to an increased security and police presence in all areas popular with tourists. Visitors have been reassured by the stepped up security and understand that everything possible is being done to ensure their safety while they are visiting Bangkok or travelling further afield.

Bangkok’s premier tourist attraction, The Grand Palace, has reported that numbers of tourists visiting have remained steady with high numbers of visitors, local and international coming through the gates to see the Royal Palace and the temple complex of Wat Phra Kaew. Other tourist attractions in old Bangkok such as the stunning riverside temple of Wat Arun, and Wat Pho, famous for its reclining Buddha are also recording high numbers of tourists visiting. Many of these visitors are coming via the city’s Chao Phraya River Boats which are operating as normal. All the city’s other piers are also recording usual numbers of commuters and tourists.

In Bangkok’s backpacker district of Khao San Road in Bang Lam Phu, travellers are still able to enjoy the restaurants and shops in the area which are as busy as always and the confidence of tourists in the area has been boosted by the increased police patrols.

In Bangkok’s shopping districts of Sukhumvit, Siam, Silom and Ratchaprasong, as well as the popular Chatuchak Weekend Market, shops and restaurants have remained open and a number of tourists and local shoppers have continued coming to the big malls and stores in the downtown Bangkok. The weekend has seen large numbers of people visiting central Bangkok’s entertainment districts and cinemas.

Worshipers and tourists have also started coming back to the Erawan Shrine to pay their respects to the Four-Faced Brahma God, and the people who lost their lives following the five-faith religious ceremony that was held at CentralWorld on Friday. Many said they came to offer moral support and to show their faith to the Erawan Shrine.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

French Wine and Art-de-Vivre at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

The renowned Sofitel Wine Days will launch at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth next month offering a blend of extraordinary wine flavours and experiences for guests and locals alike from 21 September – 31 October 2015. The magnifique events are timed to take place over the traditional wine harvest period in France.

Soiree Bar will provide guests and Sydneysiders a taste sensation to write home about with wine and cheese pairings and insights into the aromatics and flavours of wine - with their very own sommelier. For just $35 per person, guests will receive two hand selected wines carefully matched with a unique selection of characteristic cheeses – blue, soft ripen, hard and wash rind.

For a finite end to the week, French wine Friday's will be the order of the day in Soiree Bar during October. Starting the weekend with a splash, on top of an array of refreshing champagne cocktails such as a black raspberry royale, bellinis and mimosas, an exclusive pop-up wine bar serving Veuve Clicquot and Moet by Moet Hennessey will keep guests hydrated.

To top off the wine days, and exclusive event will take place on 15 October for inhouse guests residing in a Luxury Club suite. French wine expert Dourthe will host a private Le Club Millesime wine tasting. With guests having the opportunity to discuss grape varietals, vinification and the science of wine with tastings of a selection of wines from France and across the world.

As wine becomes increasingly global in terms of consumption, appreciation and production, it also remains inherently linked to the French culture and gastronomy, intrinsic to the Sofitel brand.

To find out more or to book your 'Soiree Bar wine pairing' experience visit: email or call 02 9228 9188.

About Sofitel Wine Days
Sofitel's program is in a class of its own this year, and will be held from September 21-October 31, 2015 during the traditional wine harvest period in France. From a partnership with 2004 Worldwide Best Sommelier Enrico Bernardo, to an exclusive global study about the art of wine, to luxurious in-hotel events at Sofitel worldwide addresses, Sofitel Wine Days 2015 is a happening that is not to be missed!

An Enrico Bernardo tip for Sofitel Wine Days: Enjoy a fine wine with cheese. For example, Brillat-Savarin with Champagne, Brie de Meaux with Beaujolais, Comté with Côte de Provence rosé, or even Camembert with cider.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

UIM XCAT World Powerboat Series - Gold Coast


Current UIM XCAT World Powerboat Series leaders, XDubai, are all too aware of the advantage competing in home waters can bring.

They’ll be keeping an eye on the Gold Coast Australia team (Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton) when the fourth round of the Series gets underway at the Gold Coast this weekend.

The XDubai team of Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi took over the Series lead after victory in the last round in Cascais, Portugal and will be gunning for the top of the podium once again in their first outing in Australia.

But they know it won’t be easy. “Obviously the Gold Coast team are a team to beat in their home water,” admitted Dubai-based Al Zaffain. “They have been practising for a long time and we know that the team will be all set to do a better performance.”

Just one point separates XDubai from the second-placed Team Abu Dhabi in the overall standings but Bin Hendi is relishing the pressure that the closely contested Series brings with it.

“We like challenges, so it is always a motivation to do better. We plan to take it as usual and to stay in front,” he said.


“We feel there are going to be flat conditions. Also we expect some top end speed in this race course.

Dubbed the greatest motorsport Series on water, the XCAT World Series truly is a spectacle of speed, with teams of two taking each other on in two-engined carbon-fibre boats that tear around the course at speeds close to 200km per hour.

XDubai will take on 13 other international teams in the Gold Coast GP – the fourth round of the seven-round Series. After Australia, the XCAT World Series heads to Nice, France in October before ending the year with races in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

“We never raced in Australia. This our first race in Australia so we are both equally excited and thrilled,” said Al Zaffain.

“The fact that the Series has expanded to another continent is definitely a positive note for the sport and the teams. We have never seen any other water sport make such a vast advancement in a few years.”

The Gold Coast GP, which will be broadcast to over 400 million homes, will take place at Doug Jennings Park, The Spit at Main Beach from August 21-23, and entry is free of charge to the general public. For more information, log on to:

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Australians are all talk and no action when it comes to eco-holidays

Eco-holidays still all too rare for Australian travellers

Like Kermit the Frog once sang, "It's not easy being green" — and taking an eco-friendly holiday is no exception. The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research reveal that while more than 20% of the population would like a total ecotourism experience for their next holiday, only a tiny fraction have actually had one…

As of June 2015, 21.6% of Australians (some 4.2 million people) agree with the statement, "For my next holiday, I'd really like a total ecotourism experience", up slightly from 19.3% (or 3.6 million) in the year to June 2011.

But while interest in eco-friendly travel is gradually rising, the proportion of Aussie holidaymakers who lived the green dream ("a real eco-tourism experience") on their last trip remains extremely low at 1.1%. Whether this is due to a lack of ecotourism options or a lack of affordableecotourism options is debatable, but one thing is for sure: it represents a stunning opportunity for accommodation providers and tour operators.

Certain destinations within Australia are particularly popular with travellers who say they'd like a total ecotourism experience on their next holiday. For example, almost 45% of Aussies planning to go to the Ningaloo/Coral Bay/Exmouth region in Western Australia on their next trip would like their trip to be eco-friendly – more than double the national average.

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2013–June 2015 (n=32,676).
'For my next holiday, I'd really like a total ecotourism experience' by destination intention

People planning to visit the Dandenong Ranges/Yarra Valley area outside of Melbourne (39.5%), Mt Buller in snow season (38.7%) and Kalgoorlie (38.4%) are also considerably more likely than the average Australian to express interest in a total ecotourism experience.

Curiously, only 12.7% of Aussies planning to visit the Whitsundays — a destination renowned for its natural beauty and pristine beaches — on their next trip show any interest in an ecotourism experience.

Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

"Ecotourism is still a tiny niche market in Australia, with barely more than one percent of holiday-makers enjoying a real ecotourism experience on their last trip. This is in stark contrast to the millions of Aussies who'd like their next holiday to be an ecotourism experience.

"The challenge for accommodation providers and tourism operators is to bridge this gap. Clearly, Australians are interested in eco-holidays, but something is preventing most of them from actually taking this kind of trip.

"A good start would be to establish more green-friendly (and affordable) options in the destinations featured above, which seem to attract above-average proportions of holiday-makers who'd like a total ecotourism experience on their next trip."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jewel in the crown of wedding venues from Sofitel Bali

#sofitel #accorhotels

Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort recently introduced its elegant beachfront wedding venue, "The Jewel Box". This ultramodern structure is located at the eastern beachfront of the luxury resort. The masterfully designed structure features all four walls comprising floor-to-ceiling glass windows offering clear views to the gardens and seascape, creating a sense of lucidity and cohesion.

Brides, grooms and guests, while sheltered inside the pleasant climate controlled venue, are also treated to immaculate Nusa Dua ocean views with the sea and the outlines of the Nusa Penida Island on the horizon. The Jewel Box seats up to 80 guests inside. Surrounding the glass Jewel Box are leafy tropical gardens and a stretch of well-manicured lawns where exotic garden receptions can accommodate up to 200 guests.

Through the Jewel Box's marble entrance, the polished granite flooring enhances the brightness of the interiors. At one side of The Jewel Box's base is a water feature – water is a highly regarded in Balinese tradition, aptly symbolising life and fertility. Wedding setups are greatly customisable. The expert InspiredMeetings™ team at Sofitel Bali offer their highly personalized services, ensuring every detail is primed and every moment is flawlessly designed.

Add caption

With the unveiling of this latest wedding venue to grace the Nusa Dua coast, lovebirds planning their lifetime event, to tie the knot and exchange vows, have the best option to live their most special day in the most dreamy settings.

For further information, dial +62 (0)361 849 2888 or email

Find out more about Sofitel at

Indonesia AirAsia X Launches Sydney to Bali Sales

Enjoy Bali from $119* Straight Up

Sydney, 12th August 2015 – Indonesia AirAsia X has launched sales for its second route into Australia to Sydney from Bali (Denpasar) with the first flight from Sydney taking off on 17th October, 2015.

This new route for the popular low cost carrier goes on sale today (12.00 noon Sydney time 12th August) until Sunday 16th August 2015, or until sold out, with an incredible low fare available for a limited time only from $119* one-way to Bali. Bookings can be made at

AirAsia X’s popular Premium flatbed seats will also be on sale from $399* one-way.

Indonesia AirAsia X will commence services with five weekly flights between Sydney and the popular Indonesian island getaway, a favourite destination for Australian visitors.

Flights will depart Sydney to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The flights have been granted approval by Australian and Indonesian authorities.

Indonesia AirAsia X CEO Dendy Kurniawan is in Sydney today to launch the route along with representatives from Sydney Airport.

“We’re really pleased to launch this service and connect with Australia’s largest city,” Mr Kurniawan said.

“Bali has long been a favoured holiday destination for Australians and it continues to grow in popularity.

“Our Melbourne to Bali route has been well received and seen strong load factors so we’re delighted to expand connectivity with the east coast of Australia.

“The special introductory sale fare from Sydney of $119* is a great offer for Sydneysiders to enjoy a tropical Bali escape on our direct flights.”

An Airbus A330-300 aircraft will operate the route with a seating capacity of 377. The configuration will be AirAsia X’s standard configuration of 365 economy seats and 12 Premium flatbed seats.

AirAsia X commercial manager Australia and New Zealand Stuart Myerscough said, “Bali is fast becoming an important hub for AirAsia with Australians also able to connect on to 16 direct AirAsia flights from Bali to destinations such as Jakarta, Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and many more.

“This important connectivity will increase over time and provide a range of travel choices to Bali and beyond.”

Sydney Airport managing director and chief executive officer Kerrie Mather said, “We’re looking forward to welcoming Indonesia AirAsia X to Sydney Airport, offering Bali-bound passengers greater choice and convenience.

“Bali remains a favourite destination for Sydneysiders, with around 276,000 passengers departing Sydney over the past 12 months.

“Indonesia AirAsia X also provides a welcome boost in low cost capacity servicing rapidly growing Asian markets, with considerable inbound potential for Sydney and Australia.”

AirAsia X currently flies between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Gold Coast.

Indonesia AirAsia serves Bali from Perth and Darwin, whilst Indonesia AirAsia X commenced flights between Melbourne and Bali in March this year.

AirAsia X was the first low cost carrier in the world to introduce flatbed seats, which have standard business class specifications of 20” width, 60” pitch and stretch out to 77” in full recline position.

They feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities such as tray table, drink holder, reading light and privacy screen.

Business Class guests also enjoy complimentary products and services including Pick A Seat, Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage, Baggage Allowance, Flight Change, Combo Meal and Premium Pillow & Duvet.

AirAsia X, together with AirAsia, provides Australians with low fares and connectivity to over 100 destinations across 22 countries.

AirAsia X was named the World’s Best Low Cost Airline Premium Seat and the World's Best Low Cost Airline Premium Cabin titles at the 2015 Skytrax World Airline Awards. The AirAsia Group also received its seventh consecutive year title as the World’s Best and Asia’s Best Low Cost Airline at the awards.

For bookings or further information visit Flights and fares are subject to availability.

Travellers can also log onto AirAsia’s one-stop travel portal at which offers more than 80,000 three-star, five-star and boutique hotels to choose from.

*Flights from Sydney to Bali will commence on 17 October 2015. Flights and fares are subject to availability. Booking period 12 August 2015 from 12PM AEST - 16 August 2015, or until sold out. Travel period 17 October 2015 - 31 August 2016. Seats are limited and not available on all flights/days or at peak periods. Fares are for one way travel, hand luggage only and fully inclusive of all taxes and charges. Fees apply for checked baggage. Business Class fares come with complimentary services as advertised on Lowest fares available online at No processing fees are applicable for online bookings made with PayPal. Next best possible fare available via phone with additional $25 service fee. All amounts are in Australian dollars unless stated otherwise. See for full details and Conditions of Carriage.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Russian Ballet Exhibition in Monaco

From 19 October to 16 November 2015, around 40 large-format photographs will decorate the walls of Monaco’s Metropole Shopping Centre.

Alain Hanel is a stage photographer who has covered numerous events in the Principality of Monaco. He collaborates with the Monte-Carlo Opera, the Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo festival, the Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival and the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra.

In this prestigious location, the photographer has given two exhibitions: the first, in 2014, on the Royal Ballet of Cambodia for “30 Years of the Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo” and the second, in 2015, on the Monte-Carlo Circus Festival.

For this exhibition, during the Year of Russia in Monaco, he has chosen Russian ballet as his theme.

Over a decade, he has photographed nearly all of the major Russian ballet companies which have performed in the Principality of Monaco and on the Côte d’Azur, producing the highly colourful selection which will be on display during the exhibition. Dance is part of Russians’ genetic make-up, and many Russian dancers and choreographers inspire us.

The exhibition will include an exclusive presentation of ten photographs taken at the Grimaldi Forum during the Gala Russe event on 12 and 13 September 2015.

“The photographs in the exhibition are lively, full of energy and movement. Looking at them, their sensuality and the enormous range of emotions they transmit take your breath away.

It’s an exceptional exhibition and I am proud to be collaborating with Alain Hanel, a great photographer,” said Gulshat Uzenbaeva, manager of Gala Russe S.A.R.L. and the person behind the event at the Grimaldi Forum.

This exhibition has been organised with the support of: Metropole Shopping Centre of Monaco, Art’lantis and Gala Russe.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sydney to get new direct flights from China

Xiamen Air Boeing 787-8 B-2768

The NSW Government has announced a major boost to the NSW economy, with flights between Xiamen and Fuzhou in China to Sydney, bringing more visitors to the State, and generating a further $133 million each year.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said Chinese airline XiamenAir will fly to Sydney from November, just in time for the busy holiday and Chinese New Year period.

“I’m delighted to welcome XiamenAir which will fly to Sydney for the first time, bringing even more visitors from China to our great State,” Mr Ayres said.

Sydney is the first city in Australia to secure new routes between China and Australia since the expansion of the bilateral arrangements.

“It is fitting, given NSW was last month once again named the number one destination for international visitors in Australia, with a record 3.3 million international visitors, with China placed as the top market for international guests to NSW with 500,000 visitors - an increase of 19 per cent from the previous year,” Mr Ayres added.

“This new airline service from XiamenAir will contribute to the strong growth NSW has experienced from China and builds on other aviation relationships we have in this key inbound tourism market.”

The five new weekly flights comprise three flights each week from Fuzhou, and two weekly flights from Xiamen. Both cities are located in Fujian Province, which has a population of almost 38 million.

Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather said the new XiamenAir relationship demonstrates the expanded China-Australia bilateral agreement is delivering significant benefits already.

“This is expected to further grow the important Chinese passenger market, which is expected to be Australia’s largest inbound visitor market next year,” Ms Mather said.

Both routes will operate with new 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft and are subject to Federal Government approval.


The best in first, business class travel recognised by Australian Business Traveller Awards

Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Australia share line honours in the Australian Business Traveller Awards for 2015.
The Australian Business Traveller Awards recognise the trend-setters and game-changers in the highly competitive business travel market across 30 categories including first class suites and business class seats, airport lounges, frequent flyer programs, inflight food and wine, travel technology and more.
Etihad Airways was chosen as best first class, with its spacious Airbus A380 First Apartment suites reinventing first class flying, with the world’s best international business class award going to Singapore Airlines for its new long-range Boeing 777-300ER fleet.
Qantas' all-new Airbus A330 Business Suite was selected as the world’s best domestic business class seat, with the elegant inflight lounge and bar on Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380 recognised as the world’s best inflight lounge.
Cathay Pacific’s recently-opened The Pier First Class Lounge in Hong Kong was hailed as the world’s best first class lounge, and the Qantas Hong Kong Loungeselected as the world’s best business class lounge.
Singapore Airlines also won for Best Inflight Food, with Qantas recognised for Best Inflight Wine.
The award for best frequent flyer program went to Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer, with Star Alliance chosen as the best airline alliance for the business traveller.
The full list of winners in the Australian Business Traveller Awards for 2015
  • Best Airline: Etihad Airways
  • Best First Class: Etihad Airways
  • Best International Business Class: Singapore Airlines Next-Gen Business Class
  • Best Domestic Business Class: Qantas A330 Business Suite
  • Best First Class Amenity Kit: Cathay Pacific
  • Best Business Class Amenity Kit: Emirates
  • Best First Class Lounge: Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class, Hong Kong
  • Best Business Class Lounge: Qantas Hong Kong Lounge
  • Best Arrivals Lounge: Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Arrivals Lounge
  • Best Inflight Lounge: Qatar Airways Airbus A380
  • Best Inflight Food: Singapore Airlines
  • Best Inflight Wine: Qantas
  • Best Inflight Entertainment System: Emirates
  • Best Frequent Flyer Scheme: Virgin Australia Velocity
  • Best Premium Economy Class: Qantas
  • Best Economy Class: Qatar Airways Airbus A350
  • Best Cabin Crew: Virgin Australia
  • Best Airline Alliance: Star Alliance
  • Best Australian Airport: Canberra Airport
  • Best International Airport: Hong Kong
  • Best Hotel Group: Starwood Hotels & Resorts
  • Best Airport Hotel: Sofitel London Heathrow
  • Best Business Destination: Hong Kong
  • Best Travel Innovation: Vodafone Red Roaming global roaming
  • Best Travel Technology: Bose QuietComfort 25 noise-cancelling headphones
  • Best Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
  • Best Tablet:  Apple iPad Mini 3
  • Best Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1
  • Best 2-in-1: Toshiba Portégé Z20t 
  • Best Credit Card: Westpac Altitude Black
Click to visit The Australian Business Traveller Awards 2015 feature article

AccorHotels announces three year Australian Open partnership

AccorHotels and Tennis Australia to enhance guest experience at Australia's largest annual sporting event

Tennis Australia has joined forces with AccorHotels as an Official Partner of the Australian Open in a move to deliver an enhanced customer service experience for tennis fans.

The three-year partnership will see AccorHotels provide a dedicated concierge service to Australian Open fans, customer service training to staff in the media and player information hubs, host key events in both Australia and Asia, and provide exclusive benefits to members of its Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program.

"The Australian Open is a pinnacle sporting event in the world and we are honoured to be named as Official Partner for the event as well as the Official Partner for the Australian Open Asia Pacific Wildcard event," said Simon McGrath, AccorHotels Chief Operating Office, Pacific.

"This year the Australian Open attracted more than 700,000 people to Melbourne Park and reached a global viewing audience of 370 million worldwide. We are delighted that our partnership will also extend to China for the Australian Open Wildcard event, which will deliver AccorHotels branding and hospitality across the region.

"The Australian Open attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Australia each year and we are proud to be associated with an event of this calibre," Mr McGrath continued. "AccorHotels has a strong history of supporting sporting excellence in Australia and this partnership is the perfect way for us to promote Australia as a great travel destination and share our passion for customer service, while giving our loyalty members unique access to one of the world's landmark sporting events."

Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave said, "We are delighted to welcome AccorHotels as an Official Partner.

"AccorHotels leads the world in customer service and we've jumped at the chance to work closely with their team to deliver five-star service to our fans, our players and the more than 600 media covering the event from all corners of the globe.

"This unique partnership will also deliver on our Asia Pacific focus as we continue to stage major events across the region," Mr Heaselgrave continued.

AccorHotels is the largest hotel operator in Australia, with 200 hotels including over 30 in Victoria alone and more than 645 in Asia Pacific. The group will host seven information hubs at Melbourne Park during the event. |              


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Norwegian Star to cruise from Sydney, Auckland

source: Cruise Weekly

Norwegian Cruise Line announces new global deployments. 

Norwegian Cruise Line will operate in Australasian waters in early 2017, with the newly refurbished Norwegian Star to cruise out of Sydney and Auckland.

The company, which is in the process of establishing a new office in Australia, overnight revealed a "global deployment expansion" which also includes new South American itineraries, as well as departures from Istanbul, Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Star's down-under sojourn will commence in Hong Kong on 16 January 2017, cruising to Sydney via Vietnam, Singapore, Bali and several northern Australian ports. Then there will be a 12-day Australia and New Zealand sailing ex Sydney departing 06 February 2017, down the east coast and across the Tasman..

The Auckland departure will be a 19-day voyage from 18 February 2017, cruising via the Bay of Islands, Sydney, Brisbane, Airlie Beach, Cairns, Darwin and onward via Indonesia to Kuala Lumpur.

"We are truly excited to offer these incredible new itineraries to our guests, who now have the opportunity to explore areas of the globe that we haven't called on in many years and some that we've never before visited," said Andy Stuart, Norwegian president and ceo.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Cruise the Mediterranean on an epicurean odyssey with Silversea


Celebrating the culmination of a majestic season sailing the waters of the Mediterranean, guests are invited aboard Silversea’s luxurious Silver Spirit,  to take in the unforgettable sights and flavours on a 7-day, specialty culinary and wine voyage.  Sailing from Rome to Barcelona, guests can experience L’Ecole des Chefs by Relais & Châteaux while enjoying all the splendours of the Mediterranean, and indulge in gala dinners, cooking demonstrations, culinary workshops, visits to exquisite vineyards and tastings with wine experts.  This voyage also offers discerning travellers an exclusive tour of the Cagnes-sur-Mer, with Alexandrea Renior, great-grandson of the great master.

Departing from the Roman port of Civitavecchia, Italy on 2 November 2015, Silver Spirit travels to the historic city of Livorno, where she docks for an overnight stay.  Here, guests can step ashore to sample the Super Tuscan wines of the Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci wine regions or, for those beckoned by the spirit of adventure, venture out on a full day of truffle hunting, served with a delicious truffle lunch. Silver Spirit then ports in Monte Carlo, Monaco, where guests can choose to join a cocktail reception at the two-hatted Mirazur restaurant. Guests may even join a helicopter ride to La Palu for lunch at Alain Ducasse’ famous Louis XV, for a truly opulent experience.

Silversea Silver Spirit
Crossing the Mediterranean, Silver Spirit travels to Porto Mahon, a Spanish island town with an eclectic blend of ancient sites, quaint villages and picturesque landscapes. Here, guests can explore the natural beauty of the region with a memorable kayak adventure, or stroll through the winding paths and wondrous caves of Menorca.  Silver Spirit then docks at her final port of call, Palma de Mallorca, where guests may join an excursion to La Granja de Espoprles, to sample local wines and Majorcan specialities.  This voyage concludes in Barcelona, Spain, with guests disembarking 9 November 2015.  

Truly a degustation of the senses, this voyage offers the onboard L’Ecole des Chefs by Relais & Châteaux. The only Relais & Châteaux cooking school at sea, and designed exclusively for Silversea, the programme offers guests the opportunity to further enrich their experience with bespoke events such as “Lunch & Learn”, or “Market to Plate”.

As a Silver Select sailing, this extraordinary voyage offers Silversea guests the choice of a US$1,000 onboard credit (to spend on spa treatments, bespoke shore excursions and more), a two category suite upgrade, or 50% off a second suite.  With two Michelin-starred guest chefs from Relais & Châteaux, exclusive tours of Auguste Renoir’s estate guided by his great grandson, Alexandre Renoir, this epicurean odyssey offers guests a memorable Mediterranean experience, whilst still in the luxurious surrounds that our guests have come to expect from Silversea.

Prices are per person, starting from AU$4,050 in a Vista Suite double occupancy. Silversea fares include: all-suite accommodation with butler service; gourmet meals with menus inspired by Relais & Châteaux; complimentary wines, Champagne and spirits served throughout the ships; and all gratuities.

To enhance Silversea’s 2015 Mediterranean all-inclusive pricing, guests are able to take advantage of included Silver Shore Select excursions, which are offered in every port of call, as well as two hours of WiFi per day.

This voyage is subject to availability.  Terms and conditions apply.  For more information, contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872, or visit

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places