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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Whale Sharks' Arrival Sparks Excitement for 2018 Season

image taken in March 2018 by Michael Wigram at Ningaloo Discovery, a rare sighting of two whale sharks circling each other.

Western Australia is preparing for another successful whale shark season, following sightings of the world's largest fish at Ningaloo Reef in the State's Coral Coast in early March.

More than 29,197 people visited the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef in 2017 to swim with the gentle giants of the sea, who migrate to WA shores between March and July each year to feed on plankton and krill.

Adding to the record-breaking year, 2017 saw a total of 1,742 tours take place across the season, with a whale shark sighting success of 94 per cent.

Whale shark swim tours have begun operating from Coral Bay and Exmouth, and will continue through until late June (in Coral Bay) and late July (in Exmouth), allowing visitors the opportunity to have a face-to-fin encounter with the friendly giants – which are around six to 11 metres in length.

Ningaloo Marine Park's nutrient rich waters are considered one of the best places to swim with whale sharks due to reliability of numbers and accessibility to interact with them.

At 300 kilometres long, World Heritage listed Ningaloo Reef is the world's largest fringing reef. Visitors can walk straight off the beach and snorkel in the underwater wonderland teeming with brilliant coloured coral, manta rays, sea turtles and more than 500 species of tropical fish.

The Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area covers more than 600,000 hectares, with scenic stretches of coastline with towering cliffs, beautiful beaches and plenty of wildlife; and includes the rugged canyons and gorges of the Cape Range National Park to explore.

Exmouth, the northern gateway to Ningaloo, is located 1,250 kilometres north of Perth. Qantas operates direct daily flights from Perth (just under two hours), or visitors can self-drive over two to three days and explore other highlights of WA's Coral Coast such and Geraldton, Kalbarri and Coral Bay.

Exmouth also plays host the annual Ningaloo Whale Shark Festival, which celebrates the season with a family festival day, gala cocktail evening, movies under the stars and live music from May 25 to 27, 2018.

Helloworld Travel are currently offering special deals on whale shark tour, accommodation and holiday packages for Ningaloo, available until March 31, 2018.

For further information on swimming with whale sharks and booking a trip to the Ningaloo coast visit, or read first-hand about the experience from local operator Sarah Ellis from Ningaloo Discovery.

Note: lead image taken in March 2018 by Michael Wigram at Ningaloo Discovery, a rare sighting of two whale sharks circling each other.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sydney number one in 2018 Travellers’ Choice® awards for destinations for Australia

Sydney Is #1 in Australia Two Years Running; Gold Coast Jumps Up List to #2

Paris #1 in the World

TripAdvisor®, the travel planning and booking site, today announced Sydney as the number one winner of its 2018 Travellers’ Choice® awards for destinations for Australia, as well as the South Pacific, while Paris clinched the top spot globally.

For the second year running, Sydney is #1 in Australia with the Gold Coast coming in second and Melbourne earning the #3 spot. Queensland destinations of Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns, Port Douglas and Noosa made up half of the top 10 whilst newcomers Hobart and Adelaide rounded out the list. Also making the top of the South Pacific list, Sydney is joined by the Gold Coast and New Zealand’s Auckland at second and third place.

“The Travellers’ Choice Destinations reveal the favourites among the global and local travel community. With the upcoming Easter break Australians should consider some of these award-winning destinations.” said Grant Colquhoun, TripAdvisor spokesperson. “Congratulations to Sydney for winning the top spot for the second consecutive year – the city’s spectacular harbour, stunning beaches, unique festivals, & evolving food scene clearly strike a chord with travellers around the world.”

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said that for all travellers – whether visiting for the first time or returning after discovering something special – Sydney never fails to impress.

“Sydney’s natural beauty, iconic attractions, festivals and events and excellent shopping and dining options continue to amaze visitors from across the globe all year-round,” he said. “And with the world’s largest festival of light, music and ideas; Vivid Sydney kicking off in May, now is the perfect time to plan your trip to our incredible Harbour City.”

Gold Coast, which ranked #4 in 2017, climbed two spots to take second place in Australia for Travellers’ Choice Destination 2018.

Jan Hutton, Chief Marketing Officer of Destination Gold Coast, recognised the importance of user-generated ‘word of mouth’ content which can inspire and attract travellers to the destination.

“At the core of our new marketing strategy is the winning aspiration to become Australia’s Most Recommended Destination. The number one trend in travel is to experience a destination like a local and we capitalise on this by elevating the voice of residents and visitors to humanise our “We Are Gold Coast” destination brand and to tell our story effectively.

“The Gold Coast welcomes more than 13 million visitors each year and we look forward to welcoming more to our winning destination in 2018.”

The Gold Coast’s Surfer’s Paradise Beach also just won #2 on TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Beaches in February, making this the second significant destination win for 2018.

TripAdvisor has also identified top-rated hotels and attractions to visit, offering travellers insights about great things to discover in these destinations.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Aman announces first destination in Mexico - Amanvari - Opening 2020

Aman is pleased to announce the debut of Amanvari, a peaceful escape and private oasis nestled between mountains and sea on the East Cape of the Baja Peninsula. Gracing the calm shores of the Sea of Cortes, Amanvari is scheduled to open in 2020. Comprising a hotel and private residences, Amanvari takes its name from the Sanskrit-derived words for "peace" and "water."

Framed by the majestic Sierra de la Laguna mountain range, and hugged by the golden sand dunes of its own stretch of beach, Amanvari sits on a canvas of contrasts that was once the site of a hacienda where horses roamed free.  The resort will be an otherworldly oasis offering moments of solitude in a dramatic desert landscape enveloped by the gentle calming waters of the Sea of Cortes.

Los Angeles-based real estate firm Irongate will develop Amanvari, Aman's first property in Mexico which is set within Costa Palmas, a private beachfront resort community with 3 kilometres of swimmable beach.  Irongate, in collaboration with Aman, has commissioned architects Heah & Co. who have approached the design of Amanvari with the overriding objective of allowing the surreal landscape to take centre stage.

Nestled between the sea and the mountains, each hotel pavilion at Amanvari will be like a serene island rising from the boundless terrain, allowing the lush flora and fauna to flow uninterrupted below.  Resting on slender legs, the stilted structures are in keeping with Aman's design ethos of ensuring that the destination informs the resort vision.

The resort comprises 20 bi-level hotel pavilions, each offering a generosity of space both inside and out. The pavilions will be spread across the resort's bucolic landscape and boast floor to ceiling windows that open onto an outdoor terrace and wraparound sundeck, some with a cantilevered pool.

The main pavilion at Amanvari will form the heart of the resort presenting an open-air atrium set on the beach. This pavilion will be a destination where guests and residents enjoy three restaurants, a library and lounge,  as well as a 30-metre infinity pool incorporating four hot tubs.   The Aman Spa pavilion is planned to be steps from the main pavilion along a treed pathway, nestled at the heart of the site.

For those looking for a more permanent Aman lifestyle, an initial release of only 24 whole-ownership Aman Residences will be offered for sale.  Set at the edge of the dunes, with panoramic Sea of Cortes views, facing the adjacent golf course, or within the organic farms, the collection of Aman Residences will range from four- to seven-bedrooms spanning from 1,207 to 1,858 square metres of covered indoor-outdoor living.

An extension of the Amanvari design aesthetic, the Aman Residences will be designed by Heah & Co., in collaboration with the families that choose to make Amanvari home.  The residence homeowners will work directly with Heah & Co to customise their own version of the Aman Residence, which may include any combination of pavilions for bedrooms, theatre, fitness, yoga or a casual family room.

Chairman and CEO of Aman, Vladislav Doronin says "As we continue to evolve Aman, staying true to our ethos, brand and the lifestyle it offers, is our guiding force. Our number one priority is embracing our pathfinder spirit, and with it, introducing our guests to new destinations and experiences. In the context of Amanvari, the raw landscape on the East Cape of the Baja Peninsula, is a fitting location for our first destination in Mexico and illustrates our continued commitment to curating resorts of architectural distinction. We look forward to delivering an adventure that is a cultural and spiritual odyssey, as well as a discovery and celebration of its terroir."

"It is an incredible honour and a dream come true for me to have an Aman resort at Costa Palmas," says Jason Grosfeld, Chairman and CEO of Irongate. "It is a testament to the beauty of the East Cape that Aman has selected Costa Palmas to be their first destination in Mexico.  The unique combination of desert, mountains and palm oasis provides us with an opportunity to create an architectural masterpiece at the edge of the Sea of Cortes.  We are thrilled to have Aman join the collection of international brands at Costa Palmas."

In addition to Amanvari, the Costa Palmas master plan includes a Robert Trent Jones II golf course, 18-acres of organic farms, the private members-only Costa Palmas Beach & Yacht Club to which residence owners will be invited to join, and Four Seasons Resort Los Cabos at Costa Palmas.  Amanvari is set on a stretch of white sand beach at the westernmost edge of the community and will be an architectural jewel and restorative sanctuary.

A 45-minute drive from Los Cabos International Airport ventures away from the popular destination of Los Cabos and takes guests to the East Cape, where there are few tourists. Aman is presenting a rare opportunity to experience an entirely unique side of Mexico and a surreal landscape—one of golden beaches and desert roads that wind to rarely touched mountain trails, clear freshwater swimming holes, waterfalls, and sleepy fishing villages. Diving with migrant whales, sailing and fishing expeditions, fresh water pond visits with a resident biologist and visits to local ranches for horse riding are just a few of the experiences that await Amanvari guests and residents.

Privacy is the ultimate luxury. Aman creates sanctuaries that provide guests and residents with the feeling they so desire—of solitude, of being away from it all, but yet a sense of belonging. Tucked away in a far corner of the thousand-acre development where the sea, the wild desert and farmland meet, Aman is part of Costa Palmas, yet geographically and elementally removed from it. Wild and natural, it envelopes guests and residents in their own private sanctuary. The silence. The stillness. The quiet is all around, except maybe the murmur of palm leaves in the gentle breeze, and the pull of the Sea of Cortes just beyond the windows.

Aman was founded in 1988 with the vision of building a collection of intimate retreats with the unassuming, warm hospitality of a gracious private home. The first, Amanpuri (place of peace) in Phuket, Thailand, introduced the concept, and since then, Aman has grown to encompass 33 hotels and resorts located in Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Dominican Republic, France, Greece, Indonesia, India, Italy, Japan, Laos, (Mexico 2020), Montenegro, Morocco, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, the Turks & Caicos Islands, the USA (New York 2020), and Vietnam.



Monday, March 5, 2018

Introducing Trisara Phuket - Divine Destinations

Trisara Phuket, awarded World’s Best Resort Cuisine by the discerning readers of the Gallivanter’s Guide, is launching an immersive culinary experience that takes guests on an exhilarating foraging discovery by private yacht and into heritage homes to meet local Phuketian “Mamas” who share authentic recipes that have been passed down the generations.

During the 4-days stay in one of the resort’s breathtaking Ocean View Pool Villas, guests will stroll down to the resort’s secluded beach to meet Executive Chef Chalermchai Prakobkitand, also known as Chef Kla, who joined Trisara since its opening and has worked alongside Michelin-star chefs from around the globe. Together they will step onboard a luxury cruising yacht from Trisara’s dedicated jetty, cruise along Phuket’s West Coast and finally arrive at Koh Racha, a tropical island South of Phuket known for its abundance of Sailfish, Tuna, and Mackerel. Following hours of fishing and intermittent snorkelling in Koh Racha’s crystal clear waters, guests join an onboard Thai cooking class with Chef Kla using the freshly caught fish before returning back to Trisara.

Another day, guest head into Old Phuket Town for a local market visit during which they collect fresh morning glory, lemon grass, okra and other seasonal produce before heading to a beautiful heritage mansion to meet one of Trisara’s “Mamas”, a name given to the handful of loveable mothers, grandmothers and local personalities who shared their secret and often long-forgotten recipes with Trisara’s culinary team as part of the relaunch of Seafood, Trisara’s Thai oceanfront restaurant. Following a “Mama” inspired lunch, guests will stroll around Phuket Old Town’s beautiful heritage buildings and galleries before heading back to the resort, where a sumptuous poolside BBQ awaits them in their private villa.

On Day 3 Chef Jimmy, sous chef at the resort’s recently launched restaurant PRU and Thailand’s contestant for the San Pellegrino Young Chef Award 2017 takes the lead during a trip to Pru Jumpa, Trisara’s 150-acre land dotted with natural lakes, wild forests and a flourishing farm. Guests will forage for local ingredients in the wild and pick fresh herbs, vegetables and eggs from the farm. The same evening, Chef Jimmy prepares a 6-course tasting menu at PRU with the foraged ingredients, paired with exclusive wines.

Trisara’s Culinary Foraging Experience is available from now until 31 March 2018. For reservations or inquiries, visit or email

For the less adventurous, yet culinary inclined travelers, Trisara offers the Full Board Ocean View Experience when staying in one of the resort’s two to seven bedroom pool residences, including meals at the resort’s oceanfront restaurants “The Deck” and “Seafood at Trisara” as well as in-villa private dining in the comfort of the expansive ocean view villas. For more information, please visit

About Trisara:

Trisara, in Sanskrit “The Garden in The Third Heaven” is Phuket Island's most special resort experience. Wrapped in a tropical forest and exotic gardens, the 60 spacious ocean facing pool villas and 2-6 bedroom private residences all embrace our own quiet bay on Phuket's sophisticated and natural northwestern coastline, just 15 minutes from Phuket Airport.

All pool villas, suites and private residences are designed with simple, rich interiors and enjoy a wonderful sense of privacy.

Attention to detail defines the experience throughout the property, including unique natural grey marble infinity pools in all villas and suites, which overflow toward the Andaman Sea and its spectacular year-round sunsets.

Renowned for authentic dining experiences, spa treatments and imaginative experiences, Trisara and our guests are cared for by a team of warm Thai staff who regard hospitality as a joy.

Trisara was opened in 2004 by Montara Hospitality Group, a hospitality management group owned by the Pattamasaevi family.

Crocodile Dundee Inspires New AUD$36M American Tourism Push

Today's Super Bowl (the Big Game), the most watched television broadcast in the United States, kicked off a new AUD$36 million marketing push by Tourism Australia, aimed at supercharging the value of American tourism Down Under.

Supported by Qantas, American Airlines and Wine Australia and featuring appearances from some of Australia's biggest celebrities, the campaign is the largest Tourism Australia has run in the United States since Paul Hogan's famous Come Say G'Day ads more than 30 years ago. Celebrities featured include Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman, Paul Hogan, Margot Robbie, Ruby Rose and Russell Crowe as well as American actor Danny McBride, Australia's Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon Steven Ciobo MP said 2018 presented the perfect opportunity to 'aggressively target' the US market.

“The United States is a critical market for Australia, with close to 780,000 American visitors spending AUD$3.7 billion per year. A favourable exchange rate and strong aviation capacity leading to highly competitive airfares makes this the right time to increase our investment in the United States.

“Whilst Australia ranks highly among Americans in terms of desirability and awareness of our tourism offerings, we lag behind our competitors when it comes to actual bookings. This new campaign will address this conversion challenge.

“This is the single largest investment Tourism Australia has ever made in the US market and one we believe will grow annual spend by American visitors to AUD$6 billion by the year 2020.

“It's amazing to have Australia's stars come together for their country and support this campaign. Aussie icons like Chris Hemsworth, Margot Robbie and Hugh Jackman are huge in the US, their popularity will help showcase Australia and get the message out to visit Australia,” he said.

The campaign was officially kick started with a new broadcast ad, unveiled to a TV audience of more than 100 million Americans during the Big Game.

Initially giving the appearance of an official film trailer for a new Crocodile Dundee movie, the sixty second ad then cleverly switched into an incredible showcase for Australian tourism.

The 'new' 2018 movie, Dundee: The Son of a Legend Returns Home, was first flagged in mid-January, with a series of short teaser films taking the form of a traditional studio promotional campaign.

Released through social media, the clips introduced the film's two main characters: Danny McBride playing Brian Dundee, the long-lost son of Mick Dundee, and Chris Hemsworth as his sidekick, Wally Jr.

A special cameo film featured the rest of the cast with an impressive roll-call of Hollywood heavyweights and homegrown talent, including Hugh Jackman, Margot Robbie, Russell Crowe, Ruby Rose, Liam Hemsworth, Isla Fisher, Luke Bracey and Jessica Mauboy.

The carefully orchestrated PR and social media campaign encouraged fans to tune in and watch the 'official movie trailer" during the Big Game where, helped by a cameo appearance by Paul 'Crocodile Dundee' Hogan, Tourism Australia's new campaign was ultimately revealed.

Tourism Australia Managing Director John O'Sullivan said the promotional power of the Crocodile Dundee franchise today was as a strong as when the original movie was released in 1986.

“Crocodile Dundee put Australia on the map for Americans in the '80s. The film helped shape their view of Australia, showing them our country's natural beauty and Australians' friendly and welcoming nature. And it remains relevant today, with our research showing that Mick 'Crocodile' Dundee is still a character Americans believe warmly represents the Australian way of life.

“Chris and Danny, along with the cameo appearances in the teasers from so many well-known Australian stars, has given us real star power to capture America's attention again. The Super Bowl has the largest reach of any advertising platform in the US, with more than 100 million Americans tuning in and many more millions globally. It's the perfect platform to begin rolling out our biggest tourism push in the US in over 30 years, with more than 20 commercial partners primed to start converting the huge interest we've generated into bookings,” he said.

Tourism Australia's global tourism ambassador Chris Hemsworth said that being involved in the new campaign was a huge honour and had also been a lot of fun. "Crocodile Dundee and Hoges did an outstanding job thirty odd years ago of captivating American audiences and putting Australia onto their travel wish lists. I'd like to think the inspiration the film has provided for this new Tourism Australia campaign will ultimately translate into similar success," he said.

The campaign also includes a series of light-hearted online videos called Why Australia where Danny McBride chats 'US talk show' style with Chris Hemsworth, Curtis Stone, Matt Wright and Jessica Mauboy. Filmed on set, the four well-known Australians provide personal perspectives and unique insights on Australia's food and wine, nature and wildlife, aquatic and coastal experiences, culture and heritage and sport and events.

To convert interest into bookings, Tourism Australia has also published tailored travel itineraries and inspiring destination information on supported with a dedicated campaign 'marketplace' which includes airfare and tailored holiday offers from 20 campaign partners, all aimed at encouraging Americans to book a trip Down Under.

Qantas Group CEO, Alan Joyce, said that the national carrier was excited to support this innovative campaign that encourages more Americans to travel to Australia

“For our customers their experience of Australia begins the moment they step into our lounges and on-board where, we showcase the best local food, wine and hospitality.

“Qantas offers more flights between the U.S and Australia than any other airline and we've been doing it for more than sixty years. We look forward to helping more Americans experience all that our beautiful country has to offer and showing just how easy it is to get here,” Mr Joyce said.

“Australia is home to 65 unique wine regions and thousands of world-class vineyards that craft wines of exceptional quality. We are thrilled to support this campaign that encourages more people to visit Australia to discover the beauty and sophistication of our wine regions and enjoy a glass of fine Australian wine,” Andreas Clark, CEO, Wine Australia.

All of Australia's states and territories are featured in the campaign with locations, products and experiences carefully chosen to resonate most strongly with high value American travellers looking to experience Australia.

To explore all the elements of the campaign, please visit and

Teaser One
Teaser Two
Teaser Three
Cast Intro Trailer
Big Game Trailer
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