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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Québec Hôtel de Glace - ice hotel

In its 19th season, the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) in Valcartier Vacation Village nature abounds with its new theme: Hotel Gardens. From snow gardens to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the nature theme has opened up countless opportunities for artists and artisans taking part in designing the ephemeral hotel’s entire new theme. To impress its visitors, the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) will cover over 42,000 ft2—that’s 40% more surface area than last year—and will feature both the largest bar and biggest lobby to date.

An inspiring theme

Artistic director Pierre L’Heureux is behind the unique concept for 2019. “Landscape art inspired the aesthetics for the Hôtel de Glace’s (Ice Hotel) 19th edition. We’re exploring a winter garden concept, among others, to make it a place where nature, including winter, can create charming, pleasant, and comfortable spaces."

Erected on the Valcartier Vacation Village site for a third year, the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) offers a unique experience to nearly 100,000 visitors each year. "The Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) is now part of the amazing experience that Valcartier Vacation Village offers its winter visitors. Through combining the unique sensory experience of the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) with the comfort and charm of a stay at Hôtel Valcartier, we promise our guests an unforgettable experience," explains Sylvain Lauzon, President and Chief Operating Officer of Calypso Valcartier Group. "This year, for the first time ever, the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) lobby is curved; it’s an architectural innovation and an exciting challenge that our technical team has handled brilliantly. This new feature is in line with the Valcartier Vacation Village tradition of innovation.”

On the eve of its 20th anniversary, the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) has outdone itself yet again. This winter, 42 rooms and theme suites will host guests who have come to enjoy a peaceful, quiet night at the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel). Year after year, around fifty artists and sculptors shape the snow and ice for more than a month to create a magical universe comprising a chapel, several bars, a huge indoor slide, an impressive chandelier, and the various rooms with furniture entirely made of ice, where close to 4,000 people come to spend the night.

Events throughout the entire season

From the end of December until March 24, we invite visitors from all over the world to marvel and celebrate winter at North America’s one and only Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel). We have a special evening planned on December 31 to ring in 2019 in style, and come December 27th, visitors will be able to spend the night in a room carved entirely from snow and ice.

To mark the close of the artists’ work and highlight the official opening of the 2019 edition, the Grande Soirée Inaugurale Desjardins—a must for all Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) visitors—will take place on January 18. The festivities, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., will feature entertainment, a pop/rock concert, and colourful fireworks. On this same night, we will announce the three winners of the ephemeral architectural competition.

Several other events will also be added to the winter activity schedule, including those organized in collaboration with the Quebec Winter Carnival. Details will be announced on both the Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) and Valcartier Vacation Village social media accounts.

It's winter in Valcartier!

The winter season kicks off this Saturday, December 15, at Valcartier Vacation Village. The slides and skating trails will once again delight both children and adults, while Bora Park, will continue to offer its visitors a unique tropical experience in Eastern Canada throughout the winter. For information, visit

Friday, December 21, 2018

Banyan Tree Expansion: 26 New Hotel Signings

Banyan Tree Group, the leading international operator and developer of premium resorts, hotels, residences and spas, announces its continuing global expansion with the successful signing during 2018, of 26 hotel agreements for its four brands. These are in addition to the current 48 hotels in operation at end 2018, and seven new hotels slated to open in 2019.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

ibis Sydney World Square unveils $4million new look

Experience summer in Sydney from $224* per night

Australia's largest hotel operator, AccorHotels, has unveiled a new-look ibis Sydney World Square, following an impressive $4million refurbishment of the premium economy hotel, completed just in time for summer in Sydney.

Surrounded by Sydney CBD's vibrant entertainment and shopping precincts, ibis Sydney World Square have completely refurbished all 166 guestrooms with ambient lighting, an earthy colour palate reflected in the choice of textiles and paint selection and modern bathrooms. All public areas, including the lobby and restaurant have also been refurbished.

ibis Sydney World Square General Manager, Michelle Taylor, said "We are excited to introduce the new-look ibis Sydney World Square to a new clientele of cost-conscious travellers seeking a comfortable yet stylish accommodation option in a convenient Sydney location.

"Now is a good time to book and experience summer in Sydney in the lead up to the festive season with rates starting from $224* per night."

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel's heritage listed iBistro or gather at iBar located on ground level to relax over a drink or two with friends. Other hotel features available only at ibis Sydney World Square include a 24-hour gym and business centre.

Guests staying at ibis Sydney World Square are located within easy reach of many of Sydney's most famous attractions, including Darling Harbour, Chinatown, Cockle Bay Wharf, The Star casino, The Rocks, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. Public transport is also easily accessible, with buses, trains and light rail services right on the doorstep.

ibis Sydney World Square is located at 382 -384 Pitt Street Sydney.

To book, visit

Sydney Harbour’s First On-Demand Ferry Service

#Sydney #VisitNSW

Forget timetables, transport cards and traffic. In a first for Sydney Harbour, Captain Cook Cruises is bringing the ferry to you, when you need it, with a new on-demand ferry service. The service operates between Elizabeth Bay, Garden Island and Circular Quay via a new hailing app AHOY.

Like popular ride sharing services, AHOY allows customers to locate their ferry, hail a ride and then track the ferries journey and time until it arrives, all on your mobile device.

According to Captain Cook Cruises, General Manager, Anthony Haworth, "we are very excited to launch this new on-demand ferry service for Elizabeth Bay commuters."

"With Uber proving so popular we thought why not translate this success to the water and start an on-demand ferry service."

"After meeting with Elizabeth Bay residents and receiving their positive feedback and support, we are confident it will be a success. We hope Elizabeth Bay is the first of many on-demand ferry services in the future." Continues Mr Haworth.

The on-demand ferry service operates Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays, between Elizabeth Bay Marina, Garden Island Wharf and Circular Quay during peak-commuter times of 6.30am to 9.15am and 4.15pm to 7.30pm.

Captain Cook Cruises new and versatile "tubby-class" ferries will service the new route.

The small 12-meter Tubby's have been purpose built to operate a high frequency, low cost service. They are light weight, low wash, efficient, highly manoeuvrable, and have the capacity to carry up to 60 passengers. Like all the Captain Cook Cruises fleet the Tubby's are fuel efficient, eco-friendly, and equipped with the latest technologies to reduce their carbon footprint.

The Elizabeth Bay on-demand Ferry service is priced at $7.50 per adult and $5.00 per child (5-14 years) one-way. Our pre-purchase TravelPass offers discounts to $5.90 per trip. Payment options including Opal Pay, credit card, cash or via the Captain Cook Cruises app.

For further information visit:  

AccorHotels debuts World-First Luxurious Orient Express Hotel in Bangkok King Power Mahanakhon


Orient Express is embarking on an amazing journey

The legend of travel returns, connecting East and West and past to future

AccorHotels is proud to announce the first Orient Express hotel will open in the landmark King Power Mahanakhon Building in Bangkok. Imprinted in both history and imagination, the Orient Express brand has been reinvented for the future, with a vision to build a collection of prestigious hotels, steeped in tradition, myth and adventure.

Sebastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels said: "Orient Express has always acted as a passport between worlds and a trip on these legendary trains was historical, touristic and cinematic with an inimitable experience. This linking of Occident and Orient, of history and modernity, and of curiosity and cultures will be a hallmark of the new Orient Express Hotels and we are excited to bring back this spirit of luxurious adventure to today's modern travellers."

Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha Chief Executive Officer of King Power Group said, "The launch of the world's first Orient Express Hotel at King Power Mahanakhon truly completes our vision of creating an extraordinary landmark that celebrates the city and adds a new milestone to Thailand and the world's hospitality industry, while further elevating Thailand to a truly world-class destination.

"King Power Mahanakhon seeks for all of its projects to be different, impressive and distinct, exuding excellence in every dimension. We look forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world, and placing Thailand's tourism scene on the global stage through a landmark that combines exceptional hospitality, award-winning cuisine, a unique shopping experience and Bangkok's spectacular views."

"We are proud to bring the multicultural heritage, mystery and exoticism of the legendary Orient Express brand to Bangkok" said Michael Issenberg, Chairman and CEO AccorHotels Asia Pacific. "Orient Express redefined rail travel in the 1900s, introducing the first sleeper cars linking West to East and delivering unprecedented levels of comfort and dining. We look forward to bringing this same luxury and refinement to the new incarnation of Orient Express hotels."

The original Orient Express trains were famous for the highest standards of fine craftsmanship, the newest innovations and the most exquisite dining and so Orient Express Mahanakhon Bangkok will bring together the best names in these fields to reinterpret the art of luxury travel.

Esteemed designer Tristan Auer has been tasked with reimagining the Art Deco stylings and plant motifs of the original Orient Express carriages into a modern skyscraper in the heart of a bustling metropolis. The sumptuous bedrooms and exquisite bathrooms will bring new levels of style and luxury to Bangkok.

Two signature restaurants will include Mott 32 on level 2 and Mahanathi by David Thompson on level 5 of the hotel. David Thompson is known worldwide for his skills and expertise in Thai cuisine and culinary. Thompson has established award-winning restaurants across the world, Nahm in London and Bangkok, Long Chim in Asia and Australia and Aaharn in Hong Kong. Famed Mott 32, will also bring an exceptional modern Cantonese dining experience to the city with a contemporary restaurant and cocktail bar in Orient Express Mahanakhon Bangkok. Mott 32 is named after 32 Mott Street in New York - the site of NYC's first Chinese convenience store, which opened in 1851 and is now a vibrant Chinatown in the city.

Within the complex is the recently launched Mahanakhon SkyWalk, Thailand's highest observation deck on levels 74, 75 and 78, while a King Power Duty Free and Retail occupies levels 1 to 4. A rooftop restaurant and bar on level 76 will also provide some of the best views in Thailand, making the King Power Mahanakhon Building the epicenter of Bangkok's social scene, just as the Orient Express was the place to meet the most fascinating people at the beginning of the 20th century.

For over 135 years, Orient Express has inspired authors, artists and film directors, with famous guests including Josephine Baker, Albert Einstein, Coco Chanel, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich and Mata Hari. Agatha Christie made the trains even more famous with her eponymous novel Murder on the Orient Express, while Albert Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes and James Bond's From Russia with Love further immortalised the Orient Express name in the popular imagination.

Another hallmark of the Orient Express has always been the excellence of its staff and the prestige of the uniform. These signatures will also be present in all Orient Express Hotels, setting the highest standards in impeccable service for the industry.

Orient Express Mahanakhon Bangkok will feature 154 rooms including 9 suites and 2 penthouses, as well as an entire floor devoted to wellness including an outdoor pool and jacuzzi plus signature Orient Express Spa by Guerlain. Guests will have access to the building's spectacular rooftop observation deck and rooftop bar, all rooms will provide stunning views over the Far East 'City of Angels'. At 78 storeys, King Power Mahanakhon Building is currently the tallest building in Bangkok and a visual landmark thanks to its dramatic exterior, which is encased in a glass curtain with cuboid spiral cut-outs that give it a pixelated appearance.

The hotel will open in the last quarter of 2019, 136 years after the Orient Express took its maiden voyage from Paris.

AccorHotels and SNCF Group signed a strategic partnership in 2017 to develop Orient Express hotels after AccorHotels acquired a 50% stake in the share capital of the brand. SNCF retains ownership of the seven original Orient Express carriages, which have been restored and now provide a new and exceptional setting for the organization of events in collaboration with Potel & Chabot. Both groups are committed to preserving, promoting and sharing the heritage connected with the legendary brand.

For more information or to make a reservation, please visit or Or join and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Out with the pokies. Byron's Beach Hotel opens 'Green Room'.



Sydney, December 19th 2018 — Australian hotelier, John van Haandel announces the launch of Green Room, a bar and dining room with a distinct nod to Byron Bay's unique ecosystem and environment designed by architect Kelvin Ho, at the renowned Beach Hotel.

In a progressive move to enhance the local Byron Bay community and its hospitality offering, van Haandel's famed Beach Hotel has made an impactful statement by removing their historically profitable poker-machines in favour of a locally inspired Green Room environment and dining room with a menu curated by Food Director, David Moyle.

Green Room has been redesigned by hospitality architect, Kelvin Ho of Akin Atelier, to create a relaxed yet sophisticated interior featuring minted green stucco-rendered walls, native Australian recycled timbers and exposed red brick walls — echoing the native surrounds and heritage of the landmark hotel. Ho says of the space, "This is a contemporary space whereby the community feels immediately comfortable."

The name Green Room is derived from the hotel's entirely eco-friendly and sustainable design, practices and overall philosophy. Both, Green Room and Beach Hotel proudly divert 90% of the venues waste from becoming landfill.

In keeping with the hotel's strong live music heritage, Green Room also references the countless musicians and live acts the hotel has fostered over its 25 year history, as well as the barrel of a Byron Bay wave and the cascading foliage that surrounds each guest.

Owner, John van Haandel says, "We're proud of Green Room — a smart, inclusive and relaxed food and beverage space for locals an visitors with a conscious affiliation to sustainable practices. This is a new era for the Beachy!"

Designed to share, Food Director David Moyle has curated a cleverly simple menu that utilises locally sourced produce, seafood, poultry and meats supporting Byron's local farmers and growers. Shane Morritt, Beach Hotel Kitchen Manager, recommends the freshly shucked oysters from the region with finger lime dressing; the rye bites (three serves with an assortment of toppings) are simple and flavoursome as well as the local Burrata and Cooper Shoot tomato salad.

Green Room's perfectly curated drinks menu comprises of natural and organic wines by Jilly Wines (on tap) produced in nearby Clunes, New South Wales, and a range of cleverly crafted cocktails, which use locally sourced spirits including the award-winning Cape Byron gin label, Brookie's

Green Room at the Beach Hotel is open seven days from 3:00pm until late.

Beach Hotel is open every day from 8am. The mood of the hotel changes throughout the day to accommodate the changing needs of guests. From excellent coffee and breakfasts to after-surf pub lunches, family dinners, cocktails with friends or private holiday accommodation (25 rooms) and now Green Room, all are catered for – and just metres from Byron's iconic shoreline.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Banyan Tree Bangkok’s high-altitude rooftop chill bar

Banyan Tree Bangkok is proud to announce that its popular rooftop chill venue Moon Bar is again welcoming guests following completion of extensive renovations that include a number of stunning new features and a dramatic re-positioning to the opposite side of its rooftop perch.

Highly acclaimed bar – which shares Banyan Tree’s 61st-floor rooftop sky zone with Vertigo Restaurant – has undergone a complete design transformation. The ground-up architectural modernising treatment includes a dramatic diamond-form bar as well as the “Moon Walk”, a glass “bridge” vista point where couples can enjoy the breath-taking city views. Fresh cocktail offerings will also be debuted.

The massive makeover is a significant evolution step for Moon Bar, one intended to build upon its international and industry recognition. “Because Moon Bar has become a Bangkok nightlife icon, we felt the time was right for a big upgrade to redefine the ambience as more exiting and vibrant” explained General Manager, Ms. Nopparat Aumpa.

While according to GM Nopparat, Moon Bar’s new look is intended to appeal to Bangkok visitors as well as discerning locals and expats, the well-established venue already enjoys a measure of international renown having been named one of the World’s Top 10 Rooftop Bars 2018 by Conde Nast Traveller.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Announcing Africa Safari Experts

Introducing Africa Safari Experts - From gorilla encounters in Uganda to community tours in Zambia, new Australian travel brand promises the very best of African experiences and adventures

Travel professional Wendy Buckley had been working in the industry for more than two decades when she first visited Kenya in 1997. It was the start of an enduring love affair with Africa and, in the 20 years since that first visit, she's travelled extensively throughout the continent to countries including Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Wendy was so drawn to the region that she moved to Zambia in 2016 and spent two years living and working as a safari manager in a camp at the gateway to South Luangwa National Park. Looking back on the experience she says it gave her firsthand experience of local culture, life in a remote African village and what it's like to be a traveller on safari. She also developed new skills working on the frontline of the hospitality industry and hosting safari guests from all over the world.

She returned to Australia early in 2018, passionate about sharing her love for and knowledge of Africa, and launched new travel brand, Africa Safari Experts. Wendy is a fully licensed Australian travel agent and Virtuoso member and is able to provide clients with personal destination and product expertise plus the many benefits of her extensive network of suppliers and local contacts.

Africa Safari Experts offers a selection of tailor-made all-inclusive packages in Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Egypt, Mauritius and Madagascar. They also create bespoke itineraries tailored to meet a client's brief and budget. Guests can enjoy classic African safari experiences, remote wilderness adventures, walking safaris, photography tours, private group self-drive itineraries, community encounters, bespoke family itineraries, canoeing and trekking, tours of world-class wineries, activities for thrill seekers and more.

The company is committed to ecotourism and contributes directly to the protection of endangered African wildlife and local communities through its conservation and community tours. Travelling with Africa Safari Experts enables travellers to experience and support local protection programs as well as the custodianship of the local people.

Wendy says Africa Safari Experts aims to create experiences that exceed all expectations.

'Whether your dream is to ride horseback through the Masai Mara, galloping after the zebra that cut across your path, stopping for sundowners under the shade of an acacia tree and falling asleep to the sounds of the African bush or to wake at midnight and make the final ascent to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to watch the sunrise, we can help make it happen. Our qualified and highly experienced guides and scouts can take clients walking amongst lions, elephants and leopards in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park or bring them face to face with a mountain gorilla in Uganda. Africa is brimful of unique wildlife, landscapes and cultural experiences and we help our clients find them.

'We pride ourselves on our commitment to meeting and exceeding client expectations through our attention to detail, communication, honesty, networks, training and strong relationships with suppliers across Africa. We aim to deliver a world-class experience for every client.'

For more information, enquiries or bookings visit:

Africa Safari Experts is committed to supporting local communities, protection of the wildlife and the planet for generations to come.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Peregrine Adventures new Limited Edition experiences for 2019 and 2020.

From Christmas in Bethlehem to a one-off tour marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Peregrine Adventures has revealed a suite of new Limited Edition experiences in 2019 and 2020.

With only one or two departures on each trip, Peregrine's Limited Edition tours live up to their name, offering only a small group of 12 or less travellers the chance to join each special experience.

Brett Mitchell said Peregrine's Limited Edition tours were not the sort of trips you would find in an app or guidebook.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Own a car? It can make you at least $2500 a year, guaranteed

DriveMyCar offers car owners a unique way to make thousands of dollars on the side - by renting their car out to other people

DriveMyCar (, Australia’s leading peer-to-peer car rental marketplace, has announced an industry leading guarantee for car owners who rent out their cars the platform.

DriveMyCar guarantees that car owners will earn a minimum of $2,500 in rental income in the first 12 months, subject to meeting eligibility criteria.

While the guaranteed income is $2,500, car owners have the potential to earn up to $1,750 per month depending on the value of their car. A car valued at $24,000, for example, could earn the owner $840 per month, or $10,080 per year.

Chris Noone, CEO of DriveMyCar, said “With 2019 fast approaching, it’s a good time to get your finances in order. If you have a car that you only use occasionally, or not at all, DriveMyCar lets you earn money from a car that may be costing you money. Our sharing economy platform offers a simple, secure and effective way to rent your car out to others, and with a guarantee of at least $2,500, it’s never been easier to clear debts or save for a much-needed holiday.”

To be eligible for the owner’s guarantee, the following criteria need to be satisfied:
  • The car must be less than six years old at the start of the guarantee period
  • The maximum odometer reading is 100,000km
  • The car is located within 15km of the Sydney CBD or 10km of the Melbourne CBD
  • The car is available for at least 300 days in the 12-month guarantee period
The safety of vehicles rented out through DriveMyCar is paramount. The platform facilitates the process on behalf of owners, including a credit check, providing a formal rental agreement, collecting the payment and security deposit, and providing insurance and 24/7 roadside assistance.

“If you own a car, this is one of the easiest ways you can make some extra cash on the side. We’ve already paid out $8 million to car owners in Australia, and we’re looking forward to paying out a lot more in 2019,” added Mr Noone.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Colombia & Chile with George Negus: mindful travel in an era of ‘fake news’

World Expeditions has launched a new “Travel for the Mind Colombia & Chile with George Negus” itinerary for 2019, following on from his highly successful 2018 journey through Jordan, Israel & the Occupied Territories.

George Negus’s exciting new Travel for the Mind itinerary will take travellers behind the headlines to discover the phenomenal changes that are unfolding in these once-troubled countries, as they emerge from the political and military struggles of the past.

According to World Expeditions CEO, Sue Badyari, creating the Travel for the Mind itineraries with a seasoned professional traveller and journalist like George Negus and his partner Kirsty Cockburn, has proven to be incredibly popular with travellers.

“George Negus has had a lasting impact on Australian television viewers for a reason,” Sue said.

“Feedback from the travellers, who have joined our Travel for the Mind itineraries, recounts George’s wonderful capacity to explain, engage and explore as he travels, and the way he makes it possible for them to swiftly educate themselves and gain a deeper understanding of countries that have dominated global headlines for a whole generation.

“They describe the Travel for the Mind experience as an ‘innovative way to provide unfiltered information to everyday people’.

“This, in an era of fake news, is an extraordinary concept.”

“Travel for the Mind” itineraries are specially crafted by George Negus, drawing on his extensive experience and the valuable contacts made during his 30 plus years travelling the globe as a journalist.

“These itineraries are designed for the culturally, socially, politically and religiously curious travellers, giving them the chance to explore, question and probe and ultimately to leave these destinations with their own story to tell and a greater understanding of where they’ve been and the lives of those they have met,” George said.

“These journeys are like journalism without a television camera and a smaller but no less critical audience.”

George Negus describes Colombia as a new opportunity for Australians to comfortably traverse a geographically beautiful and incredibly diverse country and to gain a real appreciation of the phenomenal changes that have taken place since the historic Peace Agreement in November 2016 ended a half-century-long conflict.

“Once off-limits to visitors due to security issues, Colombia is enjoying increased political stability and a rise in tourism following the collapse of the key major drug cartels that had previously created security issues limiting access for tourists to many of its most extraordinary regions,” he said.

“Now it’s become a rare good news story, with striking architectural beauty, preserved colonial towns and largely unspoilt natural wonders waiting to be explored.

“And in Chile, tourism has in fact flourished since 2006, increasing 300 per cent after decades of economic collapse from similar political instability caused by long dictatorships,” he said.

Priced from $9990 per person (twin share), Travel for the Mind Colombia & Chile with George Negus departs from Bogota, Colombia, and finishes in Santiago, Chile with an optional escorted extension to the remarkable Atacama Desert.

A vast and incredibly diverse country, Colombia dominates the 18-day itinerary which ends in the Chilean capital, Santiago. Highlights include:

· Discovering Street Art with a lot to say about a changing South America
· Exploring the well-preserved colonial towns of Villa de Levya, Cartagena and Barichara
· Undertaking a river journey along the Rio Magdalena to the UNESCO protected site of remote Mompox
· Meeting young Colombians turning their country around with business ventures like the
· La Palma y el Tucan coffee farm
· Travelling through the Colombian Andes
· Traversing the urban innovations that have caught the world’s attention in Medellin, former home of Pablo Escobar’s notorious drug cartels
· Enjoying an Ancestral lunch at renowned Peumayen in Santiago

The itinerary includes breakfast and accommodation in specially selected unique boutique hotels, 10 lunches and 10 dinners, internal flights in Colombia, private transfers and tours, an English speaking guide throughout Colombia, local site guides, entrance fees and boat transport.

More information at

Monday, November 26, 2018

Extreme weather event management in the palm of your hand

Technology-driven Toolkit available to Address Extreme Weather Events 

Extreme weather events are one of the major global risks facing communities around the globe. To address the impact of extreme events, Brisbane-based EarthCheck has developed a Risk and Crisis Toolkit for the travel and tourism industry. It's a practical technology-driven resource to help businesses, operators and destinations to collectively address risk management before, during and after an emergency event.

Organisations are likely to face some form of crisis every 4 to 5 years. Knowing when and how to act can be critical in saving time, money and jobs. EarthCheck's CrisisReady Program, App and Toolkit helps businesses, tourism operators and destinations create a 24/7 risk and crisis management plan and the CrisisReady App executes the plan step-by-step when disaster strikes.

EarthCheck Founder and CEO, Stewart Moore
"The CrisisReady technology puts a risk and crisis management plan at your fingertips. Set to go at the push of a button, the App sends information directly to a Content Management System which controls the alerts and provides a more streamlined response process," said EarthCheck Founder and CEO, Stewart Moore.

EarthCheck plans to export the user-friendly cloud-based technology of the CrisisReady App globally.

"As the world's leading scientific benchmarking, certification and advisory group for travel and tourism, EarthCheck has identified a need for emergency preparedness and we have the capacity to support businesses and destinations in uncertain times, Mr Moore continued.

"The world is at a tipping point and the type and impact of climatic events such as the wildfires in California, bushfires in Australia and the tsunamis in Asia are likely to continue," Mr Moore warned. "It's not so much about if, but when, a disaster will strike. Today it's about having a business continuity plan already prepared, and that means adopting new technologies and operational procedures to help build resilience. With unpredictable weather affecting cities, communities and the environment, adopting interactive mobile technology that works 24/7 and linking the App to deploy teams quickly to the most important jobs in a crisis is critical."

The mobile application is an evolution of technology that puts paper-based crisis management practices into a smartphone and into the hands of your team; no matter where they are. "Effectively it's a 'Disaster HQ' in your pocket," said Mr Moore.

"The most exciting thing about the toolkit is the positive implication this has for government, local authorities, businesses and destinations all over the world."

For every dollar invested in disaster mitigation, three dollars is saved in recovery costs allowing organisations and destinations to get back into market as quickly as possible - 80% of businesses without continuity plans do not survive more than two years after a major crisis.

"Visitors can be overlooked in disaster planning. As non-locals, they may not know the escape routes, may not be connected with local media, and they may not speak the same language as local residents.  A different level of vulnerability can come into play, which is where the CrisisReady technology can prepare communities to be crisis ready for disruption," Moore concluded.

Intrepid Group CEO James Thornton is joint Hospitality and Tourism Executive of the Year

Intrepid Group CEO James Thornton has been recognised as the joint Hospitality and Tourism Executive of the Year at CEO Magazine's 2018 Executive of the Year Awards. Thornton was also shortlisted for the major award; CEO of the Year.

The awards are considered Australia's most prestigious business awards event, recognising the exceptional contribution made by the CEOs, managing directors, and senior management who drive Australia's leading organisations in a range of sectors.

"I'm equally humbled to accept the award as I am to lead Intrepid Group. We are finishing off a spectacular year of growth and significant milestones; having become Australia's largest certified B Corp, and largest travel company in the world to achieve the rigorous certification. Our growth, coupled with our purpose beyond profit, means that as a business, we can be an even greater force for good" commented Thornton.

Now in its seventh year, the 2018 Executive of the Year Awards were the biggest yet, with more than 550 guests and nominees attending from the country's most respected and innovative brands.

Intrepid Travel has also been awarded Best Family Tour Company at the Family Travel Magazine Awards. The awards were a result of over 120,000 unique votes.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Family Travel People's Choice Awards revealed

Family Travel today announced the results of its annual awards recognising the best of the best in family travel.

Providing a 100% independent snapshot of the family travel segment, this survey was carried out from April 2018 through to July 2018, and polled a broad cross section of Australians from coast to coast, small families to large, single parents to blended families, and those travelling with special needs considerations.

“These awards enable us to share useful insights to our ever-growing audience of families,” said Janeece Keller, Founder & CEO, Bound Round. “Our consumers can feel confident selecting these destinations, brands and businesses as they have been voted as the best by a large pool of family voters just like them. And our winners can celebrate the fact that the award means their customers genuinely value their brand and this accolade helps set them apart.”

With over 120,600 unique votes case in over 70 categories, consumers submitted a record number of responses rating their travel experiences, providing a clearer picture of the current Australian family travel climate.

The awards were broken down into four distinct categories:
Best of Australia - focused on domestic destinations, attractions and services
Best of International - focused on international destinations, attractions and services
Best Travel Providers - focused on service providers such as tourism operators, airlines etc
Best for families of all shapes and sizes - focused on families of larger or smaller sizes and those with specific requirements

The full list of the 2018 Family Travel Awards recipients are published on the Family Travel website and are celebrated in the next issue of Family Travel magazine, hitting newsstands on 24 December 2018.

Traveloscopy | 

Canberra Region’s best in tourism celebrated at 2018 Gala Awards

Leaders of the Canberra Region tourism industry gathered last night, Friday 23 November 2018, to celebrate another year of success and excellence in tourism at the annual Canberra Region Tourism Awards.

The National Capital Attractions Association together with supporting partner, Visit Canberra, hosted the awards, the most prestigious event in the Canberra region tourism calendar, and were joined by ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, as guests enjoyed the Masquerade themed ball at Hotel Realm’s newly renovated ballroom.

Amongst the major winners were the National Gallery of Australia which won the award for Major Tourist Attraction, making it the second year in a row they have scooped the award in this highly desired category. Questacon - the National Science and Technology Centre won the Tourist Attraction category, having also claimed this prize in 2017.

Other major awards were collected by the Royal Australian Mint which won the Cultural Tourism category (also taking out the Visitor Experience Award), the Australian Institute of Sport’s Experience AIS which won the Specialised Tourism Services category, and the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre which won the Visitor Information Services category.

“We are all so proud of the hard work of our industry partners and the high calibre of experiences available in the capital as a result of those efforts, the visitor economy is going from strength to strength. Canberra and region tourist attractions and tourism businesses really do punch above their weight when it comes to the programs and services on offer here,” said Dr. Naomi Dale, President of the National Capital Attractions Association.

Dr. Dale acknowledged the contribution of Stephen Byron to the Canberra region tourism industry. Mr Byron, Managing Director of the Canberra Airport, this year won the award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual.

Dr. Dale was also quick to point out the high calibre of accommodation properties in the Canberra region recognised last night, with Jamala Wildlife Lodge, Leumeah Lodge, Little National Hotel and Hyatt Hotel Canberra all winning their respective categories. And she congratulated Destination Southern Highlands which won the Destination Marketing category for Pie Time for the second year running.

All Canberra Region category winners are now off to compete at a national level at the 2018 Qantas Australian Tourism Awards to be held in Launceston in March 2019.

“We know the fabulous pride, determination and commitment held by our tourism industry here in Canberra, and we wish all of our winners the very best when they compete at the Australian Tourism Awards in early 2019,” concluded Dr. Dale.

The full list of award winners can be viewed below. For more information on the awards, visit For more information on the National Capital Attractions Association, visit

Friday, November 23, 2018

Adventure Travel Trends 2019 - slower, quieter, smarter and greener

Key factors shaping adventure travel in 2019 to be slower, quieter, smarter and greener

The need for downtime, concerns about over-tourism and the dual desires to travel sustainably and to have informative experiences are the major influencers on adventure travel in 2019, according to leading adventure travel specialist, World Expeditions.

Being constantly "connected" and the resulting lack of downtime in our everyday lives is driving demand for "slow travel"; concerns about over-tourism is convincing adventure travellers to avoid travel hotspots and seek out alternative routes in lesser known destinations; the desire to maximize positive impact in the destinations we visit and the desire to learn something from the experience are all shaping the future of adventure travel globally.

Slow travel: A multi-day trek or a cycling journey allows travellers to switch off and immerse themselves in the natural landscape and puts them in touch with their senses in a way that is becoming a luxury for many people.  World Expeditions offers guided and self-guided treks, challenging cycling trips at altitude and touring style trips on e-bikes (now available in Vietnam, China, New Zealand and most European destinations.)

"It's a case of travelling less and seeing more -  rather than travelling more and seeing less – that is inspiring many people to undertake slow travel," says World Expeditions CEO, Sue Badyari.  "When your body is your vehicle and you are immersed in your surrounds, life slows down."

Quieter travel: Publicity about over-tourism is encouraging more confident travellers to look beyond replicating what they may see on social media of friends' travel. World Expeditions reports a significant increase in enquiries for the company's range of exploratory expeditions in remote regions and in alternative treks in better-known destinations.

"We've been long-time advocates for the "off the beaten track' style of travel and we're well positioned to cater for this trend," Ms Badyari said. "We're finding that more confident travellers are less interested in replicating the travel experiences of others that they may see on social media and more interested in seeking out lesser visited destinations and trails.

Smarter travel: Travelling with an expert – whether it be one of our world-class guides or with someone widely recognized in their field adds a dimension to a trip that is not possible otherwise.  Exploring Sri Lanka's cuisine with Peter Kuruvita, delving into the history and culture of Israel, Jordan and the Middle East with George Negus or travelling to Antarctica with Dr Karl Kruszelnicki deliver unique life experiences and opportunities for seeing a destination that cannot be matched.

"Long time friendships are a part of World Expeditions and we've worked with the likes of Tim Macartney-Snape, Jon Muir, Simon Yates, Mary Moody and Peter Kuruvita for years, " Ms Badyari said.  "We're constantly crafting new itineraries to offer new and different experiences for our travellers."

Greener Travel:  Being a Thoughtful Traveller and ensuring the places we visit are positively impacted by our visit is a priority for many travellers.  Child safe tourism, animal welfare, conserving environments and cultures are will all remain important aspects of the travel experience.  In 2019, many people will be focussed on reducing their use of plastic by taking refillable water bottles and avoiding buying single use plastic bottles.

"Sustainability sits at the core of World Expeditions' adventure itineraries," Ms Badyari said.  "In 2019, we're rolling out an ambitious carbon-neutral project across all itineraries, which will be analysed for carbon outputs and the costs of mitigated and built into the trip cost."

Read the blog here and find your adventure at or call 1300 720 000.

South-East Asia travellers complacent about health and financial risks

A joint survey by the Insurance Council of Australia’s Understand Insurance initiative and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller, has found many travellers to South-East Asia are complacent about their health and financial wellbeing.

Two-thirds of survey respondents who recently visited South-East Asia admitted to undertaking a risky activity or behaviour during their trip, and one in five said they didn’t declare a pre-existing medical condition before departure.

The 2018 survey* found:
  • One in 10 Australians travelled to South-East Asia without travel insurance. Men and under 30 were the most likely to leave home without cover
  • 82 per cent of under 30s admitted to undertaking a risky behaviour 
  • One in four Australians rode a motorbike or scooter during their trip. Of those with insurance, 58 per cent didn’t know if their policy covered this high-risk activity 
  • More than 50 per cent of travellers didn’t know if their travel insurance policy covered their trip activities. 
Lisa Kable, spokesperson for, says: “South-East Asian destinations including Bali, Vietnam and Thailand are popular with Australians. Many travellers to these destinations will unwittingly void their travel insurance if the claim involves risky behaviours that include:
  • Drinking alcohol and being affected by it (48 per cent of travellers to Indonesia) 
  • Engaging in a high-risk water sport (25 per cent of travellers) 
  • Riding a motorbike or scooter (44 per cent of travellers to Vietnam) 
  • Undertaking an adventure sport (14 per cent of travellers) 
  • Riding a horse, camel or elephant (24 per cent of travellers to Thailand) 
  • Taking illicit drugs
“The insurance industry and Smartraveller are increasingly concerned for Australian travellers for three reasons.

“First, we are concerned that 215,000 Australians travelled last year to SE Asia without insurance. Second, too many travellers with insurance aren’t aware of their policy inclusions and exclusions and how easily they can invalidate a claim.

“Third, many travellers fail to declare a pre-existing medical condition to their insurer.

“Our survey found one in five travellers didn’t check their policy covered their pre-existing medical condition, with 30-49 year-olds the least likely to check.

“The importance of reading and understanding the Product Disclosure Statement cannot be overestimated; it’s there to help travellers make an informed choice. It’s a priority to travel with the right travel insurance and be aware of cover inclusions and exclusions.”

It’s also worth noting the Australian Government does not assist Australians overseas with any medical treatment or emergency travel home if something goes wrong, despite 25 per cent of travellers wrongly believing the Government will assist.

Understand Insurance and Smartraveller encourage all Australian travellers to read the travel advice on before they leave home and subscribe to receive travel updates or follow Smartraveller and Understand Insurance on social media.

*Source: 2018 Quantum Market Research survey on behalf of and

RELATED: Fatal attraction: young Australians travelling on the edge

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Bawah Anambas Foundation launches with Bawah Reserve

The Bawah Anambas Foundation (BAF) has launched with support from luxury private eco-resort Bawah Reserve, as part of their CSR program, established to help conserve and expand the precious biodiversity found in the Anambas Islands both in the sea and on land, whilst also nurturing community welfare.

Deeply committed to sustainable practices, the foundation was established from a deep understanding of the need to create programmes which rehabilitate and conserve the biodiversity of marine and terrestrial life located not just around Bawah Island but also beyond, throughout the larger space of the Anambas Archipelago.

The foundation has approached sustainability priorities with three inter-related pillars – marine conservation, forest conservation and community development.

Bawah Reverse's commitment to sustainable tourism is ultimately interlinked with these pillars by core sustainability factors: the environment by protecting and preserving the surroundings; the economy by creating business that is profitable; and social by ensuring the welfare of the local community.

Bawah Reserve owner Tim Hartnoll said Bawah Reserve was created with sustainability and the environment in mind and as such, the foundation's key projects are critical in order to improve and protect the ecosystem of the archipelago.

"When we built Bawah Reserve, it was very important that we followed a sustainable operational plan and that we also gave back to the local community, the land and the sea," Mr Hartnoll said.

"While running the resort as a profit-making entity, there is a need of an independent force to implement marine and terrestrial conservation programs, as well as the community empowerment as any achievements with the resort become meaningless if our neighbouring villages and the environment don't grow and prosper together with us. This is something the foundation enables us to do," he said.

Located 160 miles North-East of Singapore, the Anambas Archipelago consists of more than 250 islands across seven sub-districts with 45,000 inhabitants.

Located within the Coral Triangle, an area with 10 times more diverse than the Great Barrier Reef, the archipelago's marine biodiversity urgently needs to be protected. Through BAF's Marine Conservation Programme, projects have been developed for coral reef preservation and rehabilitation, turtle conservation, and fish stock management.

Similarly, BAF's Forest Conservation Programme has created focus on reforestation around Bawah Island, nursery development and the introduction of new species.

In many ways, the most significant is Community Development, with many of Anambas' environmental needs stemming from a lack of education and welfare in the local communities.

Identifying a series of programmes and activities to assist and complement what has been initiated by local governments, BAF is striving to ensure the welfare of the local community which in turn will aid marine and forest conservation and protect the environment.

Head of Anambas Foundation Jerry Winata said after travelling to some of the most remote villages to gain unprecedented insight into the community, their behavioural patterns and daily challenges, and the environmental impact from their actions.

"80 percent of the community's livelihood relying on the ocean, there is a need to educate local villages on the importance of keeping the ocean clean, as well as teaching them ways to reduce this reliance," Mr Winata said.

"With Bawah's unique location within the archipelago presenting BAF with a strategic opportunity to assist some of the farthest villages from the capital of the Anambas district as well as the poorest communities, we identified several critical projects to work within these villages to create local empowerment," he said.

BAF works closely with the local community, government and non-government organizations, as well as academic and research institutions and other private sector companies who share the same ethos to aid community welfare.

Areas of focus include providing an English lesson program to enable locals options to gain work within the tourism sector; actioning a dedicated solid waste management plan, not only for protection of the ocean and villages but to improve hygiene for better health; and to educate the community on the impact of littering and its damage to the environment.

Participating in Indonesia's Our Ocean conference, Bawah Reserve has dedicated $300,000 USD in 2018 to support BAF implement its above, below and beyond priorities, furthering this commitment with nearly $470,000 USD by the end of 2019 to the Our Ocean Conference to support the Indonesian government's targets of reducing marine pollution and management of Marine Protected Areas.

With an unrivalled dedication to marine conservation, Bawah Reserve is an ecologically sound destination with the preservation of the island's natural beauty of paramount importance. An untouched paradise comprising six islands, three azure-blue lagoons and encased by 13 pristine beaches, Bawah is a project of love designed to integrate guests with nature.

Visit for more information

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

IHG opens first voco hotel in the heart of Surfers Paradise

The Mayor of the Gold Coast, Tom Tate and CEO of Destination Gold Coast, Annaliese Battista were among the dignitaries that officially opened voco Gold Coast at a packed ribbon cutting ceremony at the hotel this morning.

The opening of voco Gold Coast represents IHG's (InterContinental Hotels Group) first hotel globally for its new upscale hotel brand: voco™, just five months after it was launched. Owned by Australian property investment firm SB&G Group and located on the shores of the Gold Coast, voco™ Gold Coast is now open for guests to soak up the sun, sand and sea in Australia's beloved Surfers Paradise.

voco™, inspired by the meaning 'to invite' or to 'come together' in Latin, will combine the informality and charm of an individual hotel, with the quality and reassurance of a global and respected brand. The public spaces of voco™ Gold Coast emphasise this social element, fittingly named Social House Café, which collectively houses a bar and lounge within the venue, offering a space for everyone.

With 389 rooms, the property is situated in the heart of Australia's iconic Surfers Paradise precinct and steps away from Queensland's famous beaches. The hotel offers all the features that guests can expect from the upscale voco™ brand including two swimming pools, gym facilities, L'Aqua Day Spa, 800sqm of meeting space and expansive views of both the ocean and hinterland. Multiple dining options are also available in the hotel's three unique restaurants – Waves, Clifford's Grill & Lounge and Social House – all designed to offer vibrant social experiences for voco™ guests to enjoy.

voco™ Gold Coast also offers several exclusive features that sets it apart from existing hotels, starting with their onsite beehives, producing honey for various uses throughout the hotel. The strong sustainability focus also promises refillable dispensers for products such as soap, along with a high-end Aveda amenity and an initiative with Gold Coast City Council to ensure all kitchen waste is recycled.

The voco™ Gold Coast signing was announced by IHG and owners SB&G Group in June 2018, coinciding with the global launch of the voco™ brand. With six signings to date, in addition to the four properties that will rebrand as part of the UK portfolio deal, there are expected to be more than fifteen signings in total for the brand by the end of 2018. These include three signings in Australia, in Victoria's wine region, Yarra Valley and in the heart of Melbourne's bustling CBD as well as a number of properties in the UK. The opening of voco™ Gold Coast will be quickly followed by hotel openings in Solihull and Cardiff in the UK.

Paul Salter, SB&G Group Managing Director, said: "We are proud to be the first owner of a voco™ branded hotel in the world and to have worked closely with IHG to bring this new brand and service culture to the Gold Coast, making the high-quality refurbishment a reality in only 5 months."

Brenden van Blerk, voco™ Gold Coast General Manager, said: "As one of Australia's all-time favourite holiday destinations, we are very excited to be introducing the voco™ brand across the much-loved Gold Coast. Quintessentially Australian, the Gold Coast offers travellers the ultimate getaway with warm weather, amazing beaches and several great ways to have fun. This perfectly aligns with the new voco™ hotel – a fun, spirited, upscale offering."

Kenneth Macpherson, CEO EMEAA, IHG, said: "IHG launched the voco™ brand in June in Australia, we are so pleased to see the brand's momentum continue here with the first opening in the iconic Gold Coast with long standing partner, SB&G Group. voco™ delivers a guest experience that stands out, with touches of charm and memorable, distinctive and dependable hallmarks."

To tap into the excitement of the Gold Coast and embrace the playfulness of the voco™ brand, the new hotel offers a calendar of social events held within their street facing public spaces from a daily high tea experience to weekly trivia nights, among many others.

This distinctive brand will offer owners the ability to drive higher returns through delivering a compelling guest experience and leveraging IHG's powerful systems. This includes best-in-class revenue management and technology capabilities as well as IHG® Rewards Club, one of the world's largest hotel loyalty programmes.

IHG currently has 48 hotels operating under four brands in Australasia, including: InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, with another 22 in the pipeline, including Hotel Indigo, EVEN Hotels and voco.

To celebrate the launch of voco™ globally, IHG Rewards Club is offering 10,000 Bonus Point Packages at our new voco™ hotels around the world for stays between November 2018 and February 2019. Additionally, members can enjoy 50% off Reward Night redemptions at our new voco™ hotels. Terms & Conditions apply, please visit for more information.

Image captions: L-R: Brenden van Blerk, GM voco Gold Coast; Paul Donovan, Chairman Destination Gold Coast; Gary Baildon, Councillor Surfers Paradise; Tom Tate, Mayor Gold Coast; Ruwan Peiris, Director of Operations IHG Australasia; Annaleise Battista, CEO Destination Gold Coast; Paul Salter, Managing Director SB&G Group. voco Gold Coast deluxe room; Ruwan Peiris, Mayor Tom Tate, Paul Salter

Monday, November 12, 2018

Schoolies beware: risky behaviour can void travel insurance


Thousands of Year 12 graduates will travel to South-East Asia for their Schoolies trip without the protection of travel insurance, according to new research from Smartraveller and Understand Insurance.

The poll, conducted by Quantum Market Research, shows one in five young Australians head to SE Asia without insurance. And 75 per cent of young travellers engage in risky behaviours that are unlikely to be covered, even if they had insurance.

Lisa Kable, spokesperson for, says: “Thousands of teenagers are finishing their final exams and are on their way to popular destinations in SE Asia, including Bali and Thailand. Many will overindulge in alcohol. Some may take illicit drugs. And many will ride a motorbike or scooter or take part in an adventure sport or activity.

“The insurance industry and the Australian Government’s Smartraveller program are concerned about the number of young Australians who will be injured overseas, without the cover of insurance, during this Schoolies break.

“Teens and their families need to be aware of the importance of holidaying with the right travel insurance. The Australian Government does not pay for medical treatment or emergency flights home if something goes wrong, despite 25 per cent of travellers wrongly believing the Government will assist with medical and related costs.

“They should understand they may not be covered by their insurance if they make a claim for an event caused by alcohol, drugs, use of a motorbike or failing to declare a pre-existing medical condition.”

SE Asian destinations including Bali attracted more than 10,000 teens last year; the Indonesian island is one of the top four destinations for Australian deaths overseas.

“The right travel insurance is a necessity. Families should discuss not just the destination but the activities their teens will be engaging in on their holiday. There are hundreds of travel insurance policies on the market, so choosing a policy that covers the destinations and the activities is of utmost importance,” Ms Kable said.

Only a few insurers cover the high-risk activity of motorbike riding with strict conditions. Some insurers require a full Australian motorbike licence AND an international or local driving permit for bikes over 125cc; others require a temporary Indonesian driving permit for a motorcycle under 125cc.

How to avoid a motorbike-related travel insurance claim being declined:

· Always wear a helmet with strap done up
· Don’t consume alcohol or illegal drugs and ride
· Follow the local road rules
· Shop around and check the product disclosure statement (PDS) for the specific travel insurance conditions for motorbike riding as a driver or passenger.
· The cheapest travel insurance policy may not be the best one for your needs check exclusions. Be aware that price comparison websites list only a small number of policies and encourage purchase based on price not policy features.

The ICA and Smartraveller encourage all Schoolies and their parents to read the travel advice on before they leave Australia and subscribe to receive travel updates or follow Smartraveller on social media.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Airlie Beach Festival of Music goes green from 2018.

For the first time in its six-year history, the event will be plastic bag-free, straw-free and offering re-usable bottles and cups.

Festival co-ordinator Ellie Hanlon said these initiatives were a natural progression for an event that took place in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.

"At the ticket office last year, everyone was asking for plastic bags to take their merchandise home in and I just thought, 'we can change this'," she said.

"And the amount of plastic waste from a couple of thousand people having a fresh cup with every drink of water or spirits is mammoth.

"We can't do it with beer for hygiene reasons but by offering re-usable cups for those types of drinks I'm hoping we can at least halve our waste."

Having joined the growing list of businesses signed up to the Whitsundays' 'No Straw Campaign' the festival has committed to having no plastic straws in the main tent at the Whitsunday Sailing Club and has asked each of the other 17 venues to follow suit.

"We're on the edge of the Barrier Reef – we don't get any closer than this – there's no other festival on the ocean like us so we just felt there had to be a better way," Ms Hanlon said.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Tash Wheeler said these environmental introductions should not be underestimated.

"I think we all need to take responsibility for our footprint and if we all implement the things we can to make a difference what a difference we will make," she said.

Festival-branded Calico bags, which make a great souvenir in their own right, will be available from the ticket office and main stage merchandise stall at a cost of $5.

Re-usable cups cost $5 and branded water bottles will be available for $10.

These can be used in any of the festival venues and re-filled from two water stations in the main tent.

Full festival tickets cost $270 for a three-day pass and one-day passes are available for $130.

Passes can be purchased from the ticket office in the Nomad's check-in between Beaches and Paddy's Shenanigans on the Airlie Beach main street.

For the full line-up and to stay up to date with all the Airlie Beach Festival of Music news, follow the festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Lonely Planet First-Ever Travel Atlas

*205 Maps *195 Countries *One Inspirational Planning Tool

Lonely Planet, the world's leading guidebook publisher, has released its first-ever dedicated atlas - a collection of Lonely Planet's own cartography that covers much of the world and presents thousands of sights, experiences and itineraries.

Lonely Planet's The Travel Atlas is the ultimate cartographic companion for globetrotters. Combining unparalleled destination knowledge and mapping expertise, The Travel Atlas makes it easier than ever to find and plan incredible experiences around the world.    

Organised by region, The Travel Atlas includes detailed maps to every country on Earth, with popular regions and destinations presented at greater scale. Each page of mapping is accompanied by the area's top sights and activities, as well as trip planning tools such as climate information and key transport hubs.

The book also includes:
  • City Maps - Detailed maps of 28 of the world's most popular cities complete with top sights, activities and itineraries.
  • Places of interest - Discover the best of each country and region alongside destination insight from Lonely Planet's travel experts.
  • Itineraries - Tour a region and its highlights with suggested itineraries lasting from three days to three weeks.
The Travel Atlas will inspire readers to take a journey and explore the world.

The Travel Atlas
RRP $80.00 AUD & NZD / $50 USD
448 pages
ISBN: 9781787016965

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What's New On Queensland's Eateries

Open your heart and your palate! There's a degustation menu of new restaurants a mile long in Queensland that will put the battle back into the bulge.

Ballandean Estate launches At Our Table

Queensland's oldest family-owned and operated winery on the Granite Belt, Ballandean Estate, has launched a weekly event to celebrate family, food and wine with personal interactions with the Puglisi family.

“Our family has been making wine on our Granite Belt estate since 1932, and we saw a real opportunity to provide visitors with a complete and intimate experience of our operating vineyard and winery led by a Puglisi family member. We are the fourth generation of family working on the estate,” says Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi, daughter of estate owners Angelo and Mary Puglisi.

Ballandean will host the vineyard tour and viticultural master class every Monday, capping off the viewing with a luscious two-course lunch paired with five of the vineyard's Strangebird wines.

At Our Table costs $90, or $80 for a designated driver (half-pours).

Ohana Cider House goes in for the Bundy Rum-ble

Bundaberg has added a new drop to its famous fluid with the launch of Queensland's first ever dedicated Cider House (plus winery). Josh Phillips and Zoe Young, the power couple behind the Cider House (and who first opened Ohana Winery & Exotic Fruit Farm in 2014 in neighbouring Childers) serve up a boutique range of tropical fruit wines, unusual liqueurs and out-of-the-box ciders like the chilli and lime cider or coffee cider. Punters can drop by the cellar door and enjoy a tipple or join the Bundy Drinks Tour and visit all four of the city's liquid assets including Bundaberg Rum, the award-winning Kalki Moon Distillery & Brewery and a local micro-brewery Bargara Brewing Company.


Alejandro Cancino plants Lola's Pantry

Award-winning chef Alejandro Cancino will expand Sunshine Coast taste buds with the opening of his vegan café, Lola's Pantry in late September.

On the menu is gnocchi with mushrooms and broad beans, scrambled tofu on toast and a selection of salads and savoury tarts. “We don't advertise this as plant-based or vegan, there is nothing on the sign, we just want it to be good food that happens to be vegan,” Alejandro explained.

The former executive chef of Brisbane's only three-hatted restaurant, Urbane, Alejandro relocated to the Sunshine Coast earlier this year with his wife Paola and their 13-month-old daughter, Lola, who the café is named after. The café is open for breakfast and lunch 8:30am-3:30pm, Tuesday-Saturday and Saturday nights from 5:30pm.

Sweet success for Metiisto Artisan Chocolate

Toowoomba artisan chocolate factory, Metiisto Artisan Chocolate, is finding sweet success having won three gold medals in the bean to bar category at the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria 2018 in July, just months after opening its doors in Toowoomba.

Chocolatiers Magdalena, a native Swede, and Trevor Smith moved their successful chocolate factory from Sweden to Toowoomba in May 2018. Using cocoa beans sourced from the Solomon Island, Metiisto make bars and sell direct to public from their Harristown factory on Saturdays from 9am – noon. Bars are also available at select venues around Toowoomba including Cobb & Co Museum, Vacy Hall Boutique Hotel, Wendland Olives and Emeraude Bistro, Hampton.


Somethings fishy at the Boathouse Airlie Beach

Fish and chips have gone upmarket with the launch of The Boathouse Fish Bar at The Port of Airlie – Whitsundays. Inspired by the tutu blue waters that roll out before it, the new restaurant – which comes with comfy lounges and heavenly cocktails serves up Seafood Platters, Salmon Poke Bowls, Whitsunday Salt & Pepper Prawns, Seafood Pie or Barramundi Fish & chips, using only seafood fresh on daily basis.

Mira Ambrosia is a mirage no more

The battle of the Coral Sea continues when east meets west over a wide variety of dishes served up at the new Mira Ambrosia restaurant at the Mirage Whitsundays. Nestled on the second floor of a three-story shrine to cuisine (the ground floor is the Mira Café by the lagoon pool, the top floor is a private dining room), Mira Ambrosia offers postcard-perfect views over the Whitsunday Passage and The Coral Sea.

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, Mira Restaurant dishes range from Miso crusted cod to Shanghai Chicken.

Noosa's best camp CootharaBAR none

The bar is open! Habitat Noosa Everglades Ecocamp opened its doors (or, is that tent flaps) recently to CootharaBAR, a flagship bar and bistro set to perk up any camper's day. Overlooking a 500-metre private beach, CootharaBAR serves up coffee from local Noosa roaster First Batch Coffee Roaster Company and eases into locally crafted beers. Think well-balanced bitter ales with a touch of mango and passionfruit sweetness – a perfect post-hike potion. A full bistro menu is available.

Since taking over the site last year, The Discovery Group owners brothers Wade and Paul Batty have transformed the camp's original footprint into a world-class eco-tourism destination with a range of accommodation from affordable powered and unpowered sites through to Wilderness glamping tents with shared facilities and luxury 'Paperbark' glamping tents with private ensuites. As expected from a just minutes from the Noosa UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, there's also a handful of nature-based tours on offer.


A new brew beyond the black stump!

No need to kill for a good cuppa in the Outback. Gidgees Bush Camp in the tiny town of Morven, 90 kilometres east of Charleville and 665 km west of Brisbane, has blended the perfect potion by adding a drive-up coffee cart to its $5.00 a night camping ground. Called “Kill for a Good Cuppa”, bean surgery happens between 9.00am to noon Monday to Friday and adds city sophistication to a no-frills camping ground located on 180 acres of stud goat and sheep farm.

In addition to coffee, artists at heart can sign up for the monthly on-site craft workshops like Unwind with Wire and Soap Making Classes or pop back to Charleville and visit the Cosmos Centre and the Bilby Centre. Gidgees Camping is open from April until September each year.


Making milestones at Bert's

Named after Australia's greatest aviator and local Bundaberg boy, Bert Hinkler, (incidentally the only person to honor the humble ibis a.k.a the 'bin chicken' for its graceful aerodynamic lines) Bert's is a swanky, moody new wine bar and restaurant that opened this month. The brainchild of Tracey and Michael McPhee, owners of Alowishus Delicious and recent winners of the Countrywide Café of the Year, Bert's celebrates achievements and milestones and serves up worldly cuisine that comes from places as far flung as the aviator himself: funghi arancini, pork belly bao, and Hervey Bay Scallops, to name a few.


Traveloscopy |

Thursday, November 1, 2018

World Expeditions launches two 'Off the Grid' Farmstay Experiences with Jon and Suzy Muir

Adventure and sustainability collided in the life of Jon Muir, one of Australia's greatest living adventurers, leading him from his incredible, self-sufficient expeditions to a sustainable lifestyle in rural Victoria and a new World Expeditions' farmstay experience offers a unique opportunity to share his unique, "off the grid" lifestyle.

World Expeditions has launched a new five day 'Off the Grid' Farmstay Experience at the home of Jon and his wife, Suzy, near Victoria's beautiful Grampians National Park.

The "off-the-grid" farmstay is a chance to learn about organic farming and sustainable living, through hands-on workshops run by Jon and Suzy, which will cover recycling, aquaculture systems, organic food growing and energy harvesting techniques.

The trips are timed to coincide with Kooyan, the local indigenous word for the March harvest, and Petyan, the November harvest, offering plenty of opportunities to harvest, produce, prepare and share organic food from Jon and Suzy's garden.

There'll also be plenty of opportunities to hear some of Jon's legendary stories about his adventures across the globe, from becoming the first man to walk unsupported across Australia to his expeditions to the highest point on earth as well as the North and South Poles.

The 5 day "Off the Grid" with Jon and Suzy Muir departs 16 March and 2 November 2019  and costs $2,390 per person, including all meals and four nights camping/rustic accommodation.

To celebrate the launch of the farmstay experiences, World Expeditions is presenting a national speaking tour:  'Off the Grid: A Night with Jon Muir' will be held on Wed 7 Nov in Sydney; Thu 8 Nov in Brisbane; Mon 12 Nov in Melbourne and on Tuesday, 13 Nov in Perth. Tickets are $25 per person.  Book now at

Jon on his North Pole Trek

About Jon Muir:

Jon Muir's expeditions have spanned decades; he is a legend in the global adventure community, renowned for his trail-blazing philosophy which he applies to real life, tackling everyday obstacles with the same gusto and resilience that he brings to his expeditions.

From making the first unsupported ascent of Everest in 1988 to his trek to the North Pole in 2000, to his 6,000km ocean traverse by sea kayak, Jon is arguably one of the most experienced adventurers in Australian history.

He holds several world records, including for the first solo traverse on foot of Australia's largest salt lakes.

In 2001, Jon made history by becoming the first person to walk – unsupported – across Australia from Port Augusta to Burketown.  This expedition covered 2,500 km over 128 days.

In 2007, Jon trekked 1,700 km – unassisted, from the Spencer Gulf in SA, to the geographic Centre of Australia, Jon has received many accolades, including the Order of Australia, the Centenary Medal for contributions made to Australian society and the Australian Geographic Society Lifetime of Adventure Award.

More information at or phone 1300 720 000.

The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places