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Monday, October 31, 2016

Historic time for Cathay Pacific


When a modern brand like Cathay Pacific turns 70, you know it’s testament to the people working there who have kept the mantra of continuously doing things better, keeping the experience for its passengers stylish, vibrant and innovative. 

Cathay Pacific Airways DC4 Skymaster VR-HEU.
Hong Kong Island forms the background 1 July 1954
The airline took flight in 1946 when two adventurous fellows Australian Sydney de Kantzow and American Roy Farrell bought two used DC3 aircraft (Betsy and Niki) and started a business flying around the region.

Today Cathay Pacific has more than 147 aircraft with 65 on order including the latest Airbus A350-900 (soon to be flying from Melbourne). It employs around 27,000 people and flies to over 170 destinations around the world with both passenger and cargo services.

Tokyo ground crew farewell the last 747 to fly to Hong Kong
It starts a new era as it takes delivery of its new Airbus 350s and said goodbye to its iconic Boeing 747. Called Cathay’s ‘Queen of the Skies’, the revolutionary plane allowed Cathay Pacific to rapidly expand its network to European and North American destinations, and launched it from a respected regional brand to a globally recognised and celebrated organisation. In fact, Cathay Pacific’s first commercial 747 flight was from Hong Kong to Sydney in 1979. 

Cathay Pacific has 26 of these Airbus A350-1000s on order
Cathay Pacific is also paving the way for the future and is committed to sustainable development with initiatives such as investment in a sustainable fuel developer Fulcrum (jet fuel produced will reduce lifecycle carbon emissions in aircraft by 50 to 80 percent); four retired Airbus A340s will have up to 90% of their components recycled; meals using sustainable sources seafood; and Economy Class cabin carpets produced from regenerated nylon waste materials such as discarded fishing nets, fabric, and carpets.

In November, the airline also marks 40 years of service to Melbourne.

Radiance of the Seas makes cruise industry’s maiden call to Wollongong

Wollongong in New South Wales just became Australia's newest cruise port with the arrival of Royal Caribbean International's Radiance of the Seas: the first time a cruise ship has ever visited the South Coast tourist destination.

The 2,200 guests on board arrived in Port Kembla at 8am and were welcomed with a special fly-over by a vintage Catalina flying boat, as well as thousands of excited locals waving the ship in from vantage points along the South Coast.

"We have been working towards our call to Wollongong for quite some time. Guests onboard Radiance of the Seas had a wonderful day exploring the city and local area, making the dedication and hard work that's gone into this project for the past two and a half years all worthwhile," said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Royal Caribbean Australia & New Zealand.

Destination Wollongong General Manager, Mark Sleigh said: "When Councillor Leigh Colacino first approached Royal Caribbean to discuss bringing cruise ships to Wollongong, he promised that the community would look after their guests as well as any destination in the world.  I'm delighted that Wollongong more than delivered on that promise, and made the maiden voyage of Radiance of the Seas a day that Wollongong, and indeed our visitors, will never forget!"

Guests were treated to a special "Welcome to Wollongong" marketplace at Lang Park organized by Destination Wollongong, which showcased local produce and products from the region. More than 400 local volunteers were also on hand throughout the day to help guests get the most out of their day in port.

Seven different shore excursions also showcased the region outside of the city, with visits to scenic Bald Hill Lookout, Jamberoo Action Park, Kiama, Shellharbour Village, Symbio Wildlife Park and the tranquil Nan Tien Temple among some of the most popular.

"This was the first of many visits to Wollongong: we have now scheduled four more calls over the next 18 months with the larger 3,800-guest megaliners Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas.  In total, we expect to bring in more than 16,000 visitors and inject more than $2.8 million into the local economy," continued Armstrong.

Radiance of the Seas' single visit is estimated to have injected $385,000 into the local economy in passenger spend alone, with 75% domestic and  25% international guests – from places like the USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Germany, China and Taiwan – spending up big in the city and surrounding areas.

"We are very proud to be the first cruise line to bring a ship to Wollongong and this historic milestone marks the beginning of a long-term relationship between Royal Caribbean and the region.  We will continue to explore opportunities to utilise the port as an overflow to Sydney Harbour," Armstrong concluded.

Radiance of the Seas departed Wollongong at 5pm last night, making the short journey back to Sydney this morning, concluding a seven-night roundtrip voyage to Melbourne and Hobart.

At 293 metres long, 13 decks high and weighing in at over 90,000 GRT, Radiance of the Seas boasts 25 restaurants and bars, a nine-hole mini golf course, a rock climbing wall, jogging track and fitness centre as well as industry-first self-levelling pool tables. Known as the culinary ship, her main dining room can seat 1,242 guests. She also boasts a theatre that seats 900 as well as a state of the art cinema.

For further information or to book a Royal Caribbean cruise, visit, phone 1800 754 500 or see your local travel agent.

TTNQ awards travel industry excellence

Tropical North Queensland last night (Friday, October 28) celebrated excellence and innovation by acknowledging the people and businesses at the forefront of tourism in the region.

About 200 people gathered for the TNQ Tourism Industry Excellence Celebration under the stars at the Pacific Hotel Rooftop Terrace.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chair Max Shepherd said the destination had enjoyed a successful year thanks to the hard work of the tourism industry and individuals wanting to achieve excellence.

"We congratulate these high achievers who have not only contributed to the businesses they represent, but brought enormous benefits to Tropical North Queensland."

Chairman's Award for Excellence – Cathay Pacific

Sponsored by Turner & Townsend Thinc, project managing the development of the Tradewinds Esplanade site.

Cathay Pacific made Cairns the airline's first port of call for its first flight to Australia in 1946, before beginning commercial services to Cairns in 1993 with two flights a week. Since then the airline has expanded its service and now operates four direct flights to Cairns from Hong Kong each week, bringing visitors from Asia and Europe. Cathay Pacific has provided a valuable service for not just the tourism industry but for agriculture, education, fishing and the broader business sector.

Life Members - Charles Woodward and Peter Blackburn.

Sponsored by TAFE Queensland North

CaPTA Group Chairman Charles Woodward has had a strong involvement with the tourism industry for more than 40 years since he founded Rainforestation. He has grown the family business into a multi-faceted enterprise that features attractions and tours in Kuranda, Cairns and Port Douglas. His leadership and advice has been long valued by TTNQ and the industry.

Peter Blackburn has been the general manger of four major resort hotels in Cairns over the past 25 years, most recently in a consultancy role as General Manager of Paradise Palms Resort and Country Club. Mr Blackburn has been active in hotel industry associations and is a past president of SKAL International in Cairns.

Outstanding Contribution by an Individual – Ken Chapman

Sponsored by James Cook University

Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Director Ken Chapman has a long and distinguished history of involvement in the tourism industry in Tropical North Queensland, Queensland and Australia. He has served as a director of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council, the Australian Tourism Commission and Tourism Tropical North Queensland. Mr Chapman continues to participate and volunteer his knowledge and experience to industry groups and meetings.

Award for Innovation Excellence in TNQ – Big 4 Atherton Woodlands Tourist Park

Sponsored by Cairns Regional Council

Recognising the opportunity to attract new business from the emerging mountain biking market on the Atherton Tablelands, Big 4 Atherton Woodlands Tourist Park developed a mountain bike wash down and service bay complete with pro tools and bike pumps and bio-degradable wash products, and launched a mountain bike loyalty card. This innovative approach has generated new and return visitation to both the region and to Woodlands.


Hemingways Brewery, a microbrewery, bar and restaurant at Port Douglas Reef Marina.

The CaPTA group of companies which has been meeting market change for 40 years.

Young Achiever Excellence Award – Ben Pratt

Sponsored by Host Plus Hospitality Super Fund

Mossman Gorge Centre General Manager Ben Pratt began his career with Voyages Indigenous Tourism at Kings Canyon in 2006 before moving to Ayers Rock Resort and Home Valley Station. He is a focused and forward-thinking manager and a keen and eloquent advocate for Indigenous tourism. He is a board member of Tourism Port Douglas Daintree.


Phil Warring, Phlipvids, producing promotional videos of our region using the latest technology including drones, virtual reality and 360.

Jasmine Portious, General Manager Castaways Resort and Spa, Mission Beach. Jasmine serves on the board of Mission Beach Tourism and the executive committee of the Cassowary Coast Economic Development Board.

Qantas to Launch B737 Services from Brisbane to Port Moresby

Qantas has started a daily service between Brisbane and Port Moresby, providing customers across Australia and the global network with improved connections to Papua New Guinea.

The service operates daily, using a refreshed 174 seat B737- 800 aircraft featuring 12 business class seats, upgraded in-flight entertainment and improved seats with new covers.

It replaces Qantas' previous, turboprop-operated service between Cairns and Port Moresby, and is timed to enable business travellers to arrive in Port Moresby at midday, take meetings in the afternoon or next morning, and return the next afternoon.

Qantas and Air Niugini have agreed to codeshare on routes between Australia and Port Moresby.*

Qantas International CEO Gareth Evans said the route would meet strong demand from the corporate market, in particular the resources sector.

“We're really pleased to be giving our customers more seats and better connections on this important route,” Mr Evans said.

“Brisbane's a growing hub that joins our domestic, trans-Tasman and international networks, and the clear message from our customers was that it was the ideal base for our Port Moresby operation.

“We're proud to be continuing the role we've always played in supporting business, investment and trade between Australia and Papua New Guinea.”

Qantas in Papua New Guinea:

Qantas began services to PNG in the 1940s with two light aircraft stationed in Lae for local operations. Qantas' four engine DC4 Skymaster began flying the Sydney – Port Moresby – Lae route in 1950. In 1959, Port Moresby was used as a refueling point for Qantas flights to Hong Kong.

*The Qantas and Air Niugini code share is subject to government and regulatory approvals.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Helsinki is the perfect stopover city

Sea, Sauna and Urban Nature

Helsinki is a compact, relaxed and friendly city, chosen as 3rd best city to live in by Metropolis
Magazine in 2016 and ranked 9th most liveable city by the Economist. With an abundance of daily
direct flights, Helsinki can be easily reached from all corners of Asia.

Helsinki is a city of contrasts that create unique experiences for visitors looking for both peace and excitement. The sea, brand new design saunas and the timeless beauty of the urban nature and archipelago offer visitors a unique stopover experience. Historical layers of fine architecture, functional design, a playful and often surprising food culture, and a great range of events, both large and small, intertwine to form a fascinating capital that offers experiences in all seasons of the year.

Add the Finnish sauna to your bucket list Saunas are an integral part of the Finnish culture and national identity and a must when visiting Finland. Helsinki has a number of impressive new public saunas where foreign visitors can enjoy the sauna experience all year round. We promise relaxing moments that you’ll never forget!

The new Löyly design sauna is situated just a short distance from the city centre on the southern tip of the Helsinki peninsula. The modern complex houses a restaurant serving the finest Finnish cuisine, which visitors can enjoy while admiring the stunning views from a large terrace that stretches out over the sea.

The recently opened Allas Sea Pool (cover photo) next to SkyWheel Helsinki and the Market Square in the city centre also offers swimming, saunas and relaxation all year round. Designed using Finnish spruce and the latest cleantech technology, the complex encourages sustainable development and the preservation of the Baltic Sea.

Helsinki breathes the sea with a shoreline that stretches 130 kilometres Being the capital of the World’s Greenest Country (Environmental Performance Index EPI 2016), Helsinki is a green city where nature is ever present, even in the heart of the city. Green areas account for one-third of the
total area, and parks can be found everywhere.

Helsinki is also characterised by its maritime landscape, boasting over 130 kilometres of shoreline. The sea is all around and offers visitors a vast range of experiences, such as the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the stunning archipelago, which can be admired aboard relaxing cruises. New islands have been opened to the public in recent years, including the idyllic islands of Lonna and Vallisaari where visitors can enjoy a combination of unspoilt nature and historical fortifications.

Christmas City Helsinki
The Christmas season begins in Helsinki on Sunday 22 November with the opening of the Christmas Street, the arrival of Santa Claus to greet the kids and the turning on of the Christmas lights. During the run-up to the holidays, shoppers flock to the Christmas markets throughout the city.

Helsinki Christmas Market is the oldest and largest event of its kind in Helsinki. The market attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The Huffington Post (2015) ranked Helsinki Christmas Market among the 15 European Christmas markets we love to love.

The Christmas season culminates with the spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations in the Kansalaistori square and Töölönlahti surroundings. This year the event will open the centennial celebrations of Finland’s independence in 2017.

Helsinki – City of Design
In Finland, design has always belonged to everyone. We have plenty of gorgeous objects and buildings, but design runs much deeper in Finnish society, too. In this corner of the world, designers have always worked towards meeting the everyday needs of ordinary citizens.

Design is everywhere in Helsinki and traditional design is showcased throughout the city, especially in the Design District and the Arabia district, but also in the flagship stores of famous Finnish design brands – such as Marimekko, Iittala and Fiskars – and in numerous smaller design boutiques. Helsinki also stands out in the fields of urban design and service design, which are guiding the development of the city and its services.

More stopover ideas:

What to do in Helsinki in 3 hours
What to do in Helsinki in 6 hours
Buy your Stopover package

Download the new Day in Helsinki –map brochure or Helsinki Urban Nature -map brochure and discover numerous attractions and activities of Helsinki.

Traveloscopy travelled to Helsinki as a guest of Finnair and Visit Finland

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Finnair A350 XWB Aircraft Now Flying Singapore to Helsinki Route

#FeelFinnair #A350Finnair #Finnair .

Finnair providing a new way to fly, boasting fastest gateway from Singapore to Europe

The much anticipated Finnair A350 XWB (extra wide body) aircraft on Singapore – Helsinki route departed Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) Terminal 1 for the first time at 11:35pm on Monday 17th October. The inaugural flight departure was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and meet-and-greet with the Finnish Ambassador to Singapore HE Paula Parviainen.

This first A350 journey from Singapore to Helsinki Airport (HEL) marks a significant milestone for the aviation industry. Not only is Finnair the first European airline to fly the A350 between Europe and Asia, but is now providing local travellers with the shortest connection between the two continents. On arrival into Helsinki, travellers can seamlessly transit through Helsinki Airport and connect onto over 70 destinations in Europe such as London, Paris, Amsterdam in as little as 35 minutes.

The inflight experience on board the Finnair A350 is reflects Finnair's vision to offer a unique Nordic experience to its customers. With light and spacious cabin design, regional ingredients incorporated into the in-flight menus, on board retail featuring Finnish brands and even mood lighting inspired by the Northern Lights, Finnair is setting itself apart in the competitive aviation space.

"This moment heralds a new and exciting chapter in Finnair's 92-year history. The A350 is the future of flying and we intend to revolutionise the flying experience for our Singapore passengers with our customised features and Nordic touch," saidMikko Turtiainen, Vice President, Global Sales at Finnair. “We are firmly focused on growing our presence in Asia-Europe traffic, and the launch of the A350 on our Singapore – Helsinki route is key to our strategy. Our overall investment in a fleet of A350´s has been integral to building global growth," Turtiainen continued.

Finnair currently has seven A350s in operation, with an additional 12 on order, making this the largest investment in Finnair history. The A350 fleet investment is the backbone of Finnair’s strategy to double its Asian traffic by 2020 from the 2010 baseline, and increase its cargo capacity by up to 50%.

Finnair announced earlier this spring a quick and easy way for customers to book a stopover for their connecting flight to or from Helsinki on the website, offering customers the possibility to select between a wide variety of activities and tours in Finland ranging from five hours up to five days.

Finnair will be at annual travel trade show, ITB Asia from Wednesday 19th October – Friday 21st October 2016, where StopOver Finland is the main partner. Visit Finnair at Booth L05.

You can also see a full tour of the new plane from Changi Airport’s Facebook Live feed:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Celebrates 69 Years of Hospitality

HONOLULU, HAWAII – On September 29, 69 years ago, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts founders, Roy and Estelle Kelley, opened their first hotel in Waikiki. Today, the hospitality company's global portfolio spans 38 properties in the most iconic tropical destinations throughout Hawaii, Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

Outrigger Founders Day – which will take place this year on Thursday, September 29, 2016 – commemorates the legacy of Outrigger's founders and the company's storied history through celebratory events at Outrigger Hotels and Resorts plus giveaways and special room rates at Outrigger properties worldwide.

When Roy and Estelle opened the five-story, 50-room Islander Hotel on Seaside Avenue in 1947, it was the first new hotel to be built in Waikiki since the construction of the Royal Hawaiian hotel 20 years earlier.

“Since my grandparents founded Outrigger 69 years ago, the company's core values – taking exceptional care of the guest, the host and the place – have remained constant througout our voyage of growth,” said Bitsy Kelley, vice president of corporate relations at Outrigger Enterprises Group. “They would be extremely proud to see the progress we've made toward achieving their vision of sharing the spirit of aloha with every guest.”

Manager's Reception: As the sun crosses the six time zones where the nine Outrigger Resorts are located, each property will host a Manager's Reception on Sept. 29 in honor of Roy and Estelle. A celebratory cake and complimentary refreshments will be served and guests can look forward to prize drawings and photo opportunities with cutouts of Roy and Estelle.

Special Room Rates: Founders Day rates are available from 30 percent off for getaways to Hawaii, Guam, Fiji, Thailand, Mauritius and Maldives at Book by October 13, 2016 and travel through October 12, 2017.

Tags: #OutriggerResorts, resorts, Hawaii, thailand, Maldives, Fiji, Mauritius

Traveloscopy | 

Worldhotels Unveils World Luxury – A Curated Collection of Iconic and Independent Hotels

Once again, Worldhotels reinforces its maxim, “Defy Ordinary.” With a curated collection of distinctive hotels, World Luxury offers guests the ultimate luxury of all – bespoke, tailor-made and intuitive experiences that are as unique as each guest and as rare as their own dreams and aspirations.

Catering to today's modern travellers and their discerning expectations, all World Luxury hotels promise authentic travel experiences and lasting memories like no other. For those who are constantly seeking the fresh, the creative, and the most iconic experiences, World Luxury hotels will provide the canvas for the most precious stories ever written – our guest's very own.

LRA by Deloitte, a leading global provider of Brand Protection and Customer Experience Measurement Services for multinational companies, has been appointed as a strategic partner to conduct in-depth emotional level intelligence audits for handpicked candidate hotels who are anticipating for inclusion under the World Luxuryumbrella. Travellers can be assured that all hotels flying the World Luxury flag, have been measured against stringent criteria and will provide genuine travel experiences and stories that will always be remembered with much fondness.

Amatara Wellness Resort, Phuket, Thailand – A Thai haven surrounded by the tranquility of Andaman Sea

Amatara Wellness Resort draws on the island's spirit of tranquility and serves up an experience with its serene and elegant atmosphere. The state-of-the-art wellness center also offers all guests holistic, all-inclusive wellness programmes complemented by nutrient dense organic cuisine dedicated to help re-balance inner peace and wellbeing on all levels. Guests need not look farther than Amatara Resort & Wellness especially if they are looking for a luxury escape to revive their souls.

Room rates start from USD 139.

Amilla Fushi, Baa Atoll, Maldives – An exquisite tropical embodiment of an island retreat set against the splendour of the Maldives

“Amilla Fushi” better known as “my island home” in Maldivian is a resort nothing short of a geographical marvel. Situated amidst the picturesque UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll – one of 26 natural atolls in the Indian Ocean, and home to some of the world's purest, most pristine waters, Amilla Fushi ensures a timeless and intimate, adventure filled holiday. Guests can also draw upon the islands' cultural roots, the vibrant house reef, the laidback lifestyle and the idyllic beaches to fully immerse themselves in a truly Maldivian jaunt.

Room rates start from USD 840.

Sunset Marquis Hotel, Los Angeles, United States – A sanctuary amidst the city of angels and a perennial favourite amongst Hollywood's Celebrities

Tucked away in the heart of Sunset Strip, it was as though the Sunset Marquis Hotel was built specifically for those who wanted to live the lifestyle made popular by the elite of Hollywood. It is clear that magic is in the air and in the walls of this serene oasis, which has served as the home-away-from-home for the likes of media darlings, supermodels of the world, rock legends and sagacious travellers far and wide. Some may even argue that the hotel acts as a muse, and has inspired generations of creators and innovators. So come soak in the heart and soul of the Sunset Marquis Hotel, and immerse yourselves in one of Los Angeles' best kept secrets.

Room rates start from USD 315.

The White Swan Hotel, Guangzhou, China – One of Guangzhou's most precious and undiscovered gems

Majestically overlooking the scenic Pearl River from its location on historic Shamian Island, the White Swan Hotel perfectly encapsulates the elegance and luxuriousness of the Orient and is the first World Luxury hotel signed in China. This urban resort is set in the heart of one of China's most bustling cities, Guangzhou and guests will be delighted by the landmark hotel's centerpiece, a cascading waterfall and rockery when they enter the hotel's grand atrium. The leafy and verdant oasis of Shamian Island is also one of Guangzhou's hottest tourist destinations.

Room rates start from USD 195.

Upper House, Gothenburg, Sweden – A harmonious environment of the senses complemented by the very best of Nordic beauty

An undeniable sense of attentive warmth flows through Upper House in Gothenburg, Sweden as natural light and Nordic beauty takes centre stage in this harmonious sanctuary set in heart of the city. The most sumptuous and decadent of offerings can be found at Upper House Dining, a Michelin star restaurant where the very best of daily produce meets head chef Måns Backlund's creativity and imagination. Guests can find Upper House on the top floors high above the already established Gothia Towers, Northern Europe's largest hotel and conference facility.

Room rates start from USD 397.

About Worldhotels:
Worldhotels is a global brand that brings together some of the world's most unique independent hotels. With reach into over 60 countries and six continents, the group targets savvy business and leisure travelers that seek an authentic and local experience when choosing a hotel.
With over 45 years of excellence in the industry, the company's mission is to provide access to upscale hotels of character and distinction. Each hotel in the Worldhotels portfolio has been carefully selected to ensure it meets the group's strict quality standards. Each hotel is measured against over 600 quality criteria every year.
Worldhotels backs independent hotels with the power of a global brand while allowing them to retain their individual character and identity. The group offers an “affiliation model” which provides a comprehensive range of services that includes global marketing, sales, training, e-commerce and state-of-the-art distribution and technology.
Guests can also earn points with the group's own loyalty program, Worldhotels Peakpoints (, and redeem them for hotel vouchers. Alternatively, they can collect miles for eligible stays thanks to an extensive list of 23 frequent flyer programs of the world's premier international carriers. Air France, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, United Airlines are just some of the partners that make earning miles with Worldhotels easy.

For reservations or information, visit Images are available

For most recent news, follow Worldhotels on Facebook and Twitter.

New Luxury Hotel Group Niccolo Hotels Announces Flagship Hotel, The Murray, a Niccolo Hotel, Hong Kong

The Remaking of an Icon

Niccolo Hotels, the new luxury hotel brand, is set to catapult into the limelight with the announcement of its exciting new flagship property in Hong Kong. The Murray, a Niccolo Hotel, Hong Kong, being part of the government's Conserving Central Project will open in October 2017, on Cotton Tree Drive in Central.

As well as being the first significant new luxury hotel to open in Hong Kong for several years, The Murray will breathe new life into one of Hong Kong's most iconic and historic buildings.

The tall white landmark structure, with its distinctive arches and unique recessed windows, was built in 1969 and has since won many awards for its ground-breaking and energy-efficient design.

World-renowned architects Foster and Partners, whose works in Hong Kong include The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank headquarters and the Hong Kong International Airport, have been engaged as designers for the project.

With its unique location in a stand-alone building positioned between the Central business district and the green oasis of Hong Kong Park, the 336-room hotel will offer a sophisticated, urban chic sanctuary in the heart of the city.

Among its unique features will be a stunning rooftop bar with some of the most breathtaking views of the city. A series of signature restaurants are also being planned.

Seasoned British-born hotelier Duncan Palmer has been appointed as the hotel's Managing Director, and will bring his many years of experience with The Savoy, The Connaught, Mandarin Oriental and Langham Hotels amongst others to create a truly world-class new hotel for Hong Kong.

“I am quietly confident this will become the preferred hotel in Hong Kong for visiting dignitaries, captains of industry and leaders in style. They will appreciate the sophisticated and international standard of hospitality that the Niccolo brand delivers.” said Mr Palmer.

The first hotel under the brand, the stylish Niccolo Chengdu opened in April 2015 and has quickly been recognised as the city's leading centre for luxury accommodation, fine dining and events. It is superbly located as part of the International Finance Square (IFS) a mixed-use retail and commercial centre which has become the epicentre of Chengdu's events.

The new Niccolo Hotels brand was conceived and designed to cater to the growing maturity and sophistication of the luxury hotel sector in China, and Chengdu was chosen as the setting for the brand's first hotel since it has become the most successful economy of any city in mainland China. Niccolo Hotels was recently recognised as the “Best Luxury Hotel Brand of the Year” at the 2016 Asia Hotel Awards held in the mid of September, adding yet another illustrious accolade to the brand's growing list of honours.

Dr. Jennifer Cronin, President of Niccolo Hotels, stated: “The Chengdu property is a great success and we are very excited to be able to announce another even more exciting landmark project for Hong Kong. The Murray, a Niccolo Hotel, Hong Kong will certainly establish our Niccolo brand and the excellence it stands for firmly in the minds of international travellers.”

For more information on The Murray, please visit

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Unveiling the Brand New Mercure Singapore Bugis

Nestled in the heart of Singapore's arts and cultural district, the new 395-room heritage-inspired hotel offers guests unlimited mobile internet access on a handy smartphone; panoramic views from its rooftop Sky Deck and infinity lap pool; inviting meeting facilities with an outdoor terrace, western restaurant with a local twist at Sauces by Chef Daniel and a chic lobby lounge at BARtistry@One22.

The newly built hotel is situated next to Bugis+ shopping centre, within a 5-minute walk to Bugis MRT station. A myriad of arts and cultural sights lie at its doorstep, alongside a wondrous array of hip cafes, trendy shops and diverse eateries, offering travellers an authentic taste of Singapore from its exceptional location in the Bugis-Bras Basah district.

“The new Mercure Singapore Bugis truly embodies the multicultural soul and dynamic pulse of the Lion City”, said Mr Rhys Challenger, General Manager.

“From the specially commissioned heritage artwork in our interiors to the vibrant location of the Bugis area, we aim to create a locally-inspired experience where guests stay connected.”

The hotel's striking facade panels of red, blue, yellow and green, mirrors the primary hues of the distinctive housing estate located in the nearby Rochor estate. The double-height lobby is designed with a hint of Peranakan influence with pockets of motif tiles on the elegant marble walls, which is seen on the floor-to-ceiling feature wall tucked away in the READYTOWORK alcove. This is a signature of Mercure hotels worldwide. Featuring a cosy lounge area with plush sofas, two iMac workstations and a six-seater table for informal meetings, the hotel offers a warm setting that is both modern and comfortable for leisure and business travellers.

The stylish nook seamlessly transitions to the chic lobby lounge, where guests can sit back and unwind at BARtistry@One22, which serves a wide variety of barista-made coffees, beer, whisky, classic and Asian-inspired cocktails and specially curated wines from Mercure's Flavours of the Cellars selection, coupled with a delectable range of tapas.

The hotel's collection of rooms, lofts and suites feature charming scenes of old and new Singapore in a vivid colour palette, forming a vibrant backdrop for every space. The commissioned artworks, imagery and illustrations by Beatrice Martinet from Toine Bangkok are an artistic mélange of the city's rich cultural heritage and its various ethnicities, lending a distinctly local character to the modern, yet homely vibe of its rooms, underscored by its hardwood floors.

All rooms are equipped with a smartphone by handy, providing guests with free unlimited mobile internet access and international calls to 10 key destinations, namely Australia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Philippines, USA & UK. The smartphone is also loaded with an up-to-date City Guide, which guests can access on-the-go in their preferred language. The hotel offers complimentary access to online publications via the PressReader app with access to over 5,000 online newspapers and magazines in more than 55 languages.

Running through the hotel are many refreshing spaces to unwind and take in panoramic vistas of the city's multifaceted heartland. Lined with designer furniture amidst a verdant landscape, the tranquil rooftop Sky Deck is the perfect spot to wind down after a busy day and enjoy mesmerising sunset views. On level seven, the infinity lap pool is an oasis of serenity overlooking a kaleidoscope of skyscrapers and a historic church.

On level three, meeting facilities open up to a spacious outdoor terrace, where guests can lounge on cosy rattan sofas set against a colourful backdrop of apartment blocks and multicultural temples. As night falls, the terrace lights up, creating an ideal setting for cocktail receptions and events.

Flushed with natural daylight, the hotel's three function rooms present an inspiring venue for meetings, whilst being conveniently located next to its restaurant.

Helmed by a respected and award-winning, Singaporean Celebrity Chef, Sauces by Chef Daniel serves up a sumptuous array of international cuisine, which guests may savour in opulent leather chairs and sofa seats, designed to offer an intimate dining experience for every table.

Chef Daniel expresses his culinary creativity through the introduction of an enticing menu. Highlights of the diverse new menu include a repertoire of salad, his award-winning signatures Wok-charred Salmon, Braised Lamb Shank and Oven-baked Spring Chicken. The popular best cuts of steak in the menu includes, Herbs-infused Wagyu Beef, Beef Tenderloin, Angus Sirloin and many more. These dishes are accompanied with Chef Daniel's sauces.

For exclusive private events, his team can rustle up individual menus from a selection of specialty dishes to wine pairings.

Opening Special

To celebrate the first year of opening, Mercure Singapore Bugis is offering buffet breakfast at $5 per person with every room booked. Offer valid from now until 31st December 2016.


Traveloscopy | 

AirAsia Top LCC at World Travel Awards Asia and Australasia


AirAsia named Asia's Leading Low-Cost Airline for the fourth time, also wins first Asia's Leading Inflight Service award

DA NANG, 18 October 2016 - AirAsia has bagged top honours at the World Travel Awards (Asia and Australasia) here on Saturday, winning the prestigious Asia's Leading Low-Cost Airline title for the fourth time.

Asia's largest low-cost carrier by passengers carried and jet fleet was crowned the region's top budget airline, ahead of Jetstar Airways, West Air, GoAir, JetKonnect, Air India Express, Nok Air and FireFly.

AirAsia also won Asia's Leading Inflight Service for the first time, beating a field of full-service carriers such as Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, China Southern Airlines, Air India and Hong Kong Airlines.

The World Travel Awards (Asia and Australasia) serves to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the travel and tourism industry in Asia Pacific, as chosen by thousands of travel professionals and high-end tourism consumers.

Airlines are judged on customer satisfaction and service quality, overall business performance, product innovation, staff relations and development, corporate social responsibility and contribution to local community, commitment to sustainable policies and fulfillment of long-term corporate vision.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, "It's an honour to be named Asia's Leading Low-Cost Airline for the fourth time. This is further affirmation that we are, without a doubt, the best budget carrier in the region.

"I'm also super proud that we've won our first ever Asia's Leading Inflight Service award. AirAsia made history last year by becoming the first low-cost carrier to be named Asia's Leading Cabin Crew, and we have built on that achievement. Our success shows it wasn't a flash in the pan, and that our service isn't only best-in-class but the best of both low-cost and full-service as well.

"I've always said we have great inflight service, with our amazing cabin crew and great products like Premium Flex for business travellers, roKKi inflight wifi and our Asean-inspired Santan menu.

"And we've only just started. We have many more innovative ideas that we're working on right now to make our inflight service even better and I can't wait to share them with our guests, so keep watching this space."

For a video of AirAsia at the award ceremony, please go to:

AirAsia has also been nominated in six categories in the global World Travel Awards that will be held in the Maldives in December.

The categories are World's Leading Low-Cost Airline, World's Leading Inflight Service, World's Leading Cabin Crew, World's Leading Low-Cost Airline Website, World's Leading Low-Cost Airline App and World's Most Efficient Low-Cost Airline.

AirAsia is Asia's leading low-cost carrier, with an extensive network of more than 120 destinations in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and Africa. It is also the only airline to fly direct to all 10 Asean countries, including some 60 unique routes in the region.

AirAsia was also named World's Best Low-Cost Airline for the eighth year in a row at the 2016 Skytrax World Airline Awards in July.

Keep up-to-date with AirAsia's latest promotions and activities via Twitter ( and Facebook (

Friday, October 14, 2016

[updated] Advice for travellers to Thailand in wake of King's passing

It is with great sadness and disbelief that the Kingdom of Thailand and all of its subjects has lost its unifying father and dearly beloved King. His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has passed away peacefully after a long sick bed, surrounded by members of the Royal Family and dignitaries. Asian Trails joins the Kingdom in mourning the loss of one of the world’s greatest humanitarians, the world’s longest reigning monarch in history and longest serving head of state.

Thailand truly has lost a guide, a loving father and source of inspiration that devoted his life for the betterment of all Thais. His Majesty, at the very respectable age of 88, has been the driving force in bringing peace, harmony and prosperity throughout the nation and to all walks of life, irrespectively of religion, race or gender to the Kingdom since his ascension to the throne in 1946 as the 9th Rama King of the Chakri Dynasty.

In line with Buddhist belief and the constitutional regulations of the country, the Thai Government has declared an official mourning period of 30 days, likely affecting various entertainment venues and public performances around the country. Asian Trails asks all travellers to dress respectfully and act gracefully, especially nearby any mourning rituals or gatherings. There is, as of today, no clear guideline available about any restrictions on the sale of alcoholic drinks, but outdoor places will likely not serve any alcohol during this period.

At this moment, all operations inside Thailand – including public transportation, airports, train stations and cruise ports – remain unaffected with the exception of visits to royal sights such as the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Also shopping malls continue to operate as normal.

We will regularly communicate with all concerned and monitor the situation closely about operational matters that may affect customers’ travel plans and sights that may be closed during the coming period. We will provide updates as necessary via email or via our social media channels.

We are sincerely honoured to have received so many messages of sympathy and condolences in the past hours from business partners and friends. These messages of sharing the sorrow have touched us deeply and we extend these wishes over to our Thailand team.

- Laurent Kuenzle, CEO, Asian Trails


From: Tourism Authority of Thailand

Thailand is now in an official period of mourning following the passing of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Thais wearing somber attire during mourning.
In this regard, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like all visitors to Thailand to continue with their travel plans as normal. Furthermore, kindly be advised of the following:
• Many Thai people will be wearing black or white clothing as a sign of mourning. This is not required of visitors but if possible, they should wear sombre and respectful clothing when in public.
• Visitors should refrain from conducting any inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour.
• Tourist attractions will be open as usual with the exception of Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the Grand Palace, as they will be the venue of the Royal Funeral Rites.
• The Government has asked for the cooperation from the entertainment venues; such as, bars and nightclubs to consider the opening of their business operations during this time. The decision will be made by the individual owners.
• Most of the traditional and cultural events will be taking place as usual, although the celebrations may be changed for appropriateness as a mark of respect, or the events may be dedicated to the memory of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
• All transport, banks, hospitals and other public services will be operating as usual.
• The related authorities have stepped up safety and security measures for all Thais and visitors to facilitate their travelling around the country.

Status of tourist attractions
The Grand Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha    
Closed 14-20 October 2016
Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Open as usual
Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)
Open as usual
National Museum Bangkok
Queen’s Gallery
Open as usual (09.00-16.00 Hrs.)
Closed 14-16 October 2016
Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium
Closed until further notice
Lumpini Boxing Stadium Ramindra
Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum
Closed for one month from October 2016
Closed 14-16 October 2016
The Alcazar Cabaret, Pattaya
Open as usual (daily show times at 17.00, 18.30, 20.00 and 21.30 Hrs., but the last show has been cancelled until end of  October 2016
Tiffany’s Show, Pattaya
Open as usual (daily show times at 18.00, 19.30 and 21.00 Hrs.)
Muay Thai Live at Asiatique The Riverfront
Closed, until 17 October 2016
Siam Niramit    
Open as usual (17.00-20.00 Hrs.)
Phuket Simon Cabaret
Open as usual (18.00-22.30 Hrs.)
Calypso at Asiatique The Riverfront
Open as usual (no alcohol)
The Square Buddha Amulet Market, Bangkok
Closed until further notice
Chiang Mai Walking Street on Saturday and Sunday & Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
Closed until further notice

Status of events and cultural festivals
Events cancelled
Buffalo Racing Festival 2016, Chon Buri
9-15 October 2016
Nakhon Phanom Illuminated Boat Procession
9-17 October 2016
Oasis: Supersonic – Thailand Premiere, Bangkok
17 October 2016
Morrissey Live in Bangkok
18 October 2016
Scorpions 50th Anniversary Tour 2016, BITEC, Bangkok
26 October 2016
2016 Lee Jongsuk Fan Meeting Variety in Bangkok, Thunder Dome, Bangkok
28 October 2016
BIGBANG Made [V.I.P] Tour in Bangkok, IMPACT Arena
29-30 October 2016
Ghost Fair at Mega Bangna, Bangkok,
20-31 October 2016
Bangkok Symphony Orchestra 2016 – The Sound of Thai Heritage
21 October 2016
Yi Peng Chiang Mai
12-15 November 2016
Pattaya Loi Krathong Festival
14 November 2016
Pattaya International Fireworks Festival
25-26 November 2016
New Year Celebrations, Pattaya
31 December 2016 – 1 January 2017
*Many local and international concerts and performances have also been cancelled.

Events postponed indefinitely or to new dates
The End of the Buddhist Lent at Indo-China Market, Mukdahan
14-16 October 2016
Concert Moderndog at IMPACT Muang Thong Thani
15 October 2016
Concert ECTat Bitec Bangna, Bangkok
15 October 2016
Group Riding Bangkok
16 October 2016
FB Battery River Kwai Half Marathon at Kanchanaburi
16 October 2016
Chanthaburi Scenic Marathon
29-30 October 2016
Harmony World Puppet in Kanchanaburi 2016
(1-7 November 2016 (new dates 20-26 February 2017)
Krabi Adventurous Trophy 2016
4-5 November 2016
Bangkok Street Show 2016 at Lumpini Park
10-12 December 2016

Events going ahead but scaled back
Rap Bua Festival at Bangphli, Samut Prakan
 12-15 October 2016
Poi Lynn Sib Et Festival, Mae Hong Son
14-16 October 2016

For any enquiries, please contact our TAT Sydney Office on (02) 9247 7549 or email

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On your bike at the Sarojin, Khao Lak

The Sarojin has unveiled two exciting new bicycle adventures inviting guests on a journey of discovery taking in the fascinating history, culture, community and landscape which surround this luxury boutique resort in Khao Lak, Thailand.

In a contrast of experiences, one can head in the direction of the unspoilt land of the rural island of Koh Kho Khao or venture to the historic and cultural town of Old Takuapa – or take on both cycle tours.

The Sarojin's mountain bikes, which are available to guests complimentary throughout their stay and are the most popular mode of local transport, will be lined up and ready to carry their passengers to meet up with the wonderful people of the nearby communities and capture all the intrigue of the surrounding landscape.

All will occur at a laid-back and leisurely pace with a personal guide to lead the way.

The 'Rural Cycle Round Koh Koh Khao' is perfect for nature lovers and cycling enthusiasts.

Kho Kho Khao is an island characterised primarily by its flat grassy sands, sprawling mangroves and winding canals.

Captivating and picturesque views abound and one can feel an unmatched sense of freedom, whilst gaining an absorbing insight into local island life.

Departing The Sarojin, guests will travel to Koh Koh Khao by private car before climbing aboard a traditional long boat and cruising out to the spot where the bikes will be awaiting their passengers to hop aboard.

The cycle tour travels along quite roads, alongside beautiful beaches, fields and villages, past water buffalo herds, farms and fishing boats, with nothing but peace, tranquility and an emanating warm tropical breeze shadowing the trail.

Those who like a challenge can complete the 40km island loop while others may prefer to adopt the slow pace of life ethos and climb into a waiting luxury car to continue their journey.

The 'Cultural Cycle Around Old Takaphua' takes in the historical capital of Phang Nga province and will visit many inspirational landmarks among the skillful Chinese and Sino-Portugese architecture dotted throughout this small, quiet township.

There a local food stalls and amazing lines of shops to explore and exquisite sacred temples for a quiet moment of reflection.

Those craving for more activity and adventure beyond these two experiences can add in a tailored cycle excursion visiting local fishing villages and farming communities.

A 'Just for Two' private cycle tour is priced from THB1850 (approx. AUD70) per person inclusive of escorting by personal guide, use of the mountain bike, refreshments, lunch, any additional transport required and taxes. Special family and group rates are also available.

Rates at The Sarojin commence from THB12,708 (approx. AUD480) per room per night in a Garden Residence for two people from 1 November 2016 inclusive of a 15% early bird discount, all day a la carte breakfast with sparkling wine and taxes.

Upgrades to a Spa Suite are available from an additional THB6298 (approx. AUD238) per room with guests also receiving one daily complimentary 1-hour massage for each night booked.

The Sarojin is beautifully set on an 11km stretch of secluded white sand beach in Khao Lak, just a 55 minute drive north of Phuket Airport, and is surrounded by five spectacular national parks and the world-famous dive sites of the Similan and Surin Islands.

Designed in a contemporary Asian style, the five-star resort's 56 deluxe residences are nestled within ten acres of tropical grounds leading directly onto the beachfront. Each guest room features its own private garden and 'sala' sundeck, couples' baths with waterfall showers, and plunge and relaxation pools that blend into the natural habitat.

Other facilities include an attentive 'Imagineer' who can create tailor-made experiences for hotel guests and complimentary use of a fully equipped fitness centre, mountain bikes, sailing catamarans, sail boats, sea kayaks and windsurfing boards. Tranquility is guaranteed as no children under the age of 10 are permitted to stay at The Sarojin.

Anantara Hoi An Resort Offers Full Moon Lantern Festival Experience

Known for its quiet back streets and beautifully preserved Ancient Town, Hoi An, on Vietnam’s central coast line, also lights up in colour once a month when locals and curious travellers join together to celebrate the lantern festival. The monthly institution in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hoi An bursts to light on the 14th day of every lunar month when the moon is brightest.

As a complement to Hoi An’s monthly lunar lantern festival, Anantara Hoi An Resort is celebrating the town’s luminous appeal with a Full Moon Lantern Festival package.

Situated a short walk from the old town, Anantara Hoi An is offering guests the chance to sample a truly unique and authentic experience with a one-hour cruise down the Thu Bon River in a lantern-decorated sampan through the town. Guests will be given the opportunity to light a candle in a paper lantern and make a wish as they set it afloat down the river, and later make lanterns of their own to take home.

During the festival guests can watch the multi-coloured lanterns snake through the canals and alleyways of the ancient town. Hoi An’s streets come to life as locals switch off their lights and leave the town to bask in the glow of the candlelight, providing a glimpse of what life may have been like when Hoi An was a booming and affluent port town some 400 years ago.

The event sees Hoi An’s streets throng with Vietnamese - including those from outlying communes - and travellers keen to soak up the lively atmosphere. Traditional music and games come into play, with bands performing on bamboo flutes, drums and fiddles and Chinese chess and Vietnamese bingo matches unfolding by candlelight.

Area temples and pagodas fill with worshippers while troupes of dragon dancers roam the streets to bestow good luck on revellers. On the sidewalks festival-goers huddle together on mini stools, indulging in delectable local delicacies such as cao lầu (Vietnamese pancakes), banh vac (white rose dumplings), cơm gà (Hoi An chicken rice) and banh mi (French-inspired sandwiches).

Adding to the mystical atmosphere, clouds of incense emanate from homes and businesses. The town's residents also adorn their family altars with flowers, fruit and other offerings. They burn fake money for good fortune.

The festivities are clustered around iconic spots including the Cau An Hoi Bridge, Japanese Covered Bridge and Fujian Assembly Hall, and play out along the riverbanks where the views take in a watery world of floating lanterns.

Anantara Hoi An’s two-night Full Moon Lantern Festival package also includes buffet breakfasts for two people by the storied Thu Bon, accommodation in a room or suite, airport transfers, and food and beverage credit that can be enjoyed at the resort’s aptly named Lanterns Restaurant, .

Recognised as one of Asia’s top 25 resorts by Condé Nast Traveller, Anantara Hoi An is a boutique riverside property positioned on the banks of the Thu Bon. Designed with French, Dutch, Chinese and Japanese influences, the resort’s architecture pays homage to the melting-pot history of the former port city that emerged as a powerful trade link between Europe, China, India and Japan in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Prices for the Anantara Hoi An Full Moon Lantern Festival package start from 4,460,000++ VND (USD 200++) including breakfast. For further information, including the ‘Stay Date Calendar’, visit

For more information on Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, please visit

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The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places