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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Hyde Perth Kitchen + Cocktails now open



Perth’s hottest poolside party offers LA vibes and Mediterranean bites

Accor & sbe Entertainment Group have now opened their second world class venue in Australia with Hyde Perth Kitchen + Cocktails, residing at the all-new Art Series hotel, The Adnate in Perth’s CBD.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Why you should always ask for seconds on your inflight meal



Today I must congratulate both Malaysia Airlines (MH) and their inflight catering supplier, the massive international dnata group, for showing our small media group around their compact Halal facility here at Sydney Airport.

Congratulate? Why? Because apart from showing us the stringent hygiene protocols and checks and balances at various steps in the meal preparation, we were able to see the extent of food waste that occurs in the airline industry every day. Normally an airline or caterer would be timid about revealing such matters.

Sheathed in disposable smocks and hairnets, we are ushered to a wash station where we sanitise our hands. Curiously, our hairnets all denote our status. Workers wear plain white, first aid staff wear yellow and leading hands wear red. We, as visitors, are capped in a simple, demure blue.

We weren't allowed to photograph the Sydney kitchen, but here is a picture of dnata's Singapore kitchen during a ministerial tour.

Everything in the preparation room, about the size of a small aircraft hangar, is stainless steel. Implements are not shared between stations or processes and hot food temperature is measured by a thermometer gun and meticulously recorded.

Okay, I grimaced at some of the single-use plastic still being used here, indicative of every airline currently in the skies, but also at the amount of sheer waste that occurs in airline catering.

I hasten to point out that the airlines are hamstrung in their ability to do anything but destroy uneaten meals and the associated packaging because of our strict quarantine rules. You see, ANY food - or any THING that has come in contact with food (packaging, containers, disposable cutlery etc) - is unpacked by hand from the returning trolleys inside a secure room at the catering facility. Washable items like bowls and plates are loaded into a big washer, but everything else is dumped unceremoniously into a dedicated Sulo bin for incineration, including unopened drinks, snacks and whole meals.

Business class meal being served on an MH A330 (file image MAS)

“Our hands are absolutely tied in this matter,” regional manager for Malaysia Airlines, Giles Gilbert tells me, clearly uncomfortable at the process we are all witnessing, “but the rules are very strict and there is absolutely no room to move. Everything that comes off an international flight goes in that bin and is incinerated. End of story.”

Wastage is higher from the premium cabin apparently because many passengers board with a belly full of lounge food and drink. MH’s online preordering, being introduced across the network, will hopefully minimise wastage.

MH Fish curry economy meal. (file image)

dnata is able to work with food recovery programs like OzHarvest, but this is only for food surplus that is procured locally and hasn’t travelled outside our borders.

We are seeing just a small example of this quarantine process in action and are not permitted to take any photographs within the sterile zone. I can only imagine what volumes are involved in one of the huge facilities like Qantas or beyond that, the cruise industry.

A media handout image of dnata chefs examining produce (dnata)

On a daily basis, 32,000 meals are served across the MH network, including 18,000 of the airline’s famous satay sticks, all of which are hand-cooked in a single kitchen in Kuala Lumpur.

As you would expect, meals are prepared to a budget but when I enquire, both MH and dnata are guarded on this topic. Another source indicates airlines budget for around $30-35 for a premium cabin meal and around $10 for economy, so I will assume MH is in that vicinity.

Coming soon to a MH flight near you:
Chef Nelly's beef short rib.
Prior to our kitchen tour, we meet some of dnata’s chefs including Nelly Robinson, 30, who is known locally for his restaurant nel. on Wentworth Avenue here in Sydney. We sample freshly cooked prawn sambal and beef rendang directly from the MH menu and both are superb. Chef Nelly has just completed preparations to introduce a new dish, a beef short rib in honey BBQ sauce that requires a 2-day preparation. Gilbert sighs, knowing the process that entails, but he’s committed to upping the steaks - if you’ll excuse the pun.

Gilbert also candidly acknowledges that MH had some ground to make up in airline performance, but was able to share some encouraging data that included leaps in On-Time Performace (OTP) to 89% (up from 60s just two years ago) and a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 13, up from negative numbers as recently as 2018. This puts them ahead of American (3) and United (-8), but trailing the airline industry benchmark of around 40.

Food, of course, is a big influencing factor in NPS determination, so no wonder MH and dnata are making a show of this today.

“Malaysia Airlines wants to treat passengers respectfully,” Gilbert adds, “just like Malays would treat their own guests at home and food is such an important ingredient in Malaysian hospitality.”

From my experience, MH has always been a leader in onboard service from crew attitudes through to cuisine and now I am assured this can only get better still. One thing I will always remember after today is to never be shy to ask for seconds!



Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Raffles Singapore is back after massive makeover





Raffles Hotel Singapore, which is owned by Katara Hospitality, global hotel owner, developer and operator based in Qatar; and managed by Accor, has officially celebrated its reopening (18 October 2019).

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

New Melbourne to Margaret River direct flights


Castle Bay in the Margaret River region
Exploring one of Western Australia’s most diverse destinations is now easier thanks to Jetstar’s new direct flights between Melbourne and the Margaret River region.

Lonely Planet Reveals Its Top Picks for 2020



Global travel authority Lonely Planet has chosen Lord Howe Island as one of the world's Top 10 Regions for next year in Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2020, released this morning.

Best in Travel 2020 is Lonely Planet’s 15th annual collection of the world’s hottest destinations and journeys for the year ahead. The best-selling, inspirational travel yearbook highlights the top 10 countries, cities, regions, and best-value destinations that Lonely Planet's experts recommend for 2020. This edition places particular emphasis on sustainable travel experiences— ensuring travellers will have a positive impact wherever they choose to go.

Lord Howe Island is ranked fifth on the book's list of Top 10 Regions 2020.

"Parked in the middle of nowhere 600km off the Australian coast, this visually stunning island makes an instant impact on the senses with its jaw-dropping World Heritage–listed beauty," writes Lonely Planet. "Two soaring green mountains overlook a perfect lagoon and the world’s southernmost coral reef; perfect crescents of beach and splendid hiking trails through the lush forest add to brilliant outdoors possibilities."

"This onetime volcano’s isolation makes it a refuge for many endemic species, as well as plentiful birdlife," Lonely Planet says. "The island is a shining example of sustainably managed tourism; only 400 visitors are allowed at any time, and you are encouraged to participate in a series of ecological projects. Lord Howe’s remoteness and manageable size make it an idyllic escape."

Lonely Planet's Top 10 Regions 2020 are:


1. Central Asian Silk Road
2. Le Marche, Italy
3. Tōhoku, Japan
4. Maine, USA
5. Lord Howe Island, Australia
6. Guizhou Province, China
7. Cadiz Province, Spain
8. Northeast Argentina
9. Kvarner Gulf, Croatia
10. Brazilian Amazon

Australia is also represented on a number of the book's other top lists for 2020, including:

Best New Openings

8) Great Southern Train Journey, Adelaide–Brisbane

"One of the latest luxury routes that prove rail travel will never die as long as people enjoy a day’s leisurely journey through beautiful landscapes and a night of being gently rocked to sleep in their own private carriage, the Great Southern will run three- and four-day routes between Adelaide and Brisbane, offering opportunities to stop at national parks, beaches and cities, with a luxurious cabin and gourmet food options to enjoy onboard."

Best New Places to Stay

5) Mount Mulligan Lodge, Queensland



"Embrace the Australian outback and Mt Mulligan (Ngarrabullgan), an 18km-long flat-topped monolith, at this lodge in the northern reaches of Queensland. Built on a working cattle station by the Morris family, Mount Mulligan Lodge has used the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework and also endeavours to protect and restore the surrounding environment."

Best New Food Experiences

8) Di Stasio Città, Melbourne

"Open since February 2019, this long-awaited venue from an Australian restaurant stalwart has more than met the sentimental hype. ‘Ronnie’ Di Stasio pioneered his first restaurant, Rosati, thirty years ago and now he’s back in a beautiful Brutalist building, with video installations by Australian artists and the city’s best pasta."

Best Sustainable Trips for Families

9) Tasmania

"Tasmania is a magical place for families. From treetop walks to messing about in boats, and from frolicking on the sand to the family-friendly ‘Discovery Ranger’ activities available in the national parks, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy; and the beauty of it is distances are small. There’s also a strong ethos of using locally sourced (and delicious!) produce and a long-term sustainable approach to wildlife conservation and wilderness protection."

Each year, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel lists start with nominations from Lonely Planet’s vast community of staff, writers, bloggers, publishing partners and more. The nominations are then whittled down by our panel of travel experts, who shortlist in line with criteria such its topicality, unique experiences and ‘wow’ factor.

Other Best in Travel 2020 highlights include:

· The Top 10 Countries to visit in 2020: Bhutan, England, North Macedonia, Aruba, eSwatini, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, Liberia, Morocco, and Uruguay

· The Top 10 Cities to visit in 2020: Salzburg, Austria; Washington, DC, USA; Cairo, Egypt; Galway, Ireland; Bonn, Germany; La Paz, Bolivia; Kochi, India; Vancouver, Canada; Dubai, UAE; and Denver, USA

· Top 10 Best Value Destinations to visit in 2020: East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia; Budapest, Hungary; Madhya Pradesh, India; Buffalo, USA; Azerbaijan; Serbia; Tunisia; Cape Winelands, South Africa; Athens, Greece; and Zanzibar, Tanzania.

www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel features tips and videos on visiting each destination, as well as a chance to win a Silk Road adventure for two. The Top 10 Cities can also be explored with Lonely Planet’s Guides app.

LONELY PLANET'S BEST IN TRAVEL 2020; 224pp, full colour, 165mm x 210mm, hardback, AU$27.99.

Monday, October 21, 2019

New Flinders Ranges Tour is an outback discovery experience



Flinders Ranges Odysseys has launched a new ultimate three-day Flinders Ranges Outback Tour beginning 3 April 2020. This amazing tour offers exclusive accommodation and incredible food and wine, all while discovering the spectacular and rugged scenery of Wilpena Pound and the magnificent Flinders Ranges.

Over three-days, guests will explore the 540 million-year-old Flinders Ranges in luxury air-conditioned Mercedes Benz vehicles, in small, intimate groups of up to eight people, accompanied by a personal local tour guide.

Accommodation is at the award-winning Rawnsley Park Station in luxurious Eco Villas or one-bedroom Holiday Units. Overlooking the southern side of Wilpena Pound and surrounded by seclusion and breath-taking views, Rawnsley Park Station provides the perfect base for exploring South Australia's beautiful Flinders Ranges.

Departing from Adelaide, day one visits the old copper mining town of Burra for morning tea and Orroroo for lunch before arriving at Rawnsley Park Station. On the way, stop at Kanyaka Station Homestead Ruins and see what’s left of this once massive sheep and cattle station of about 950 square kilometres.

That afternoon admire the beauty of the Flinders Ranges on a Sunset on the Chace tour. With Wilpena Pound as the backdrop, see a picturesque sunset overlooking the stunning Chace Range, while enjoying a glass of sparkling wine and gourmet canapes.

Finish the day off with a delicious two-course dinner in Rawnsley Park Station’s Woolshed Restaurant - an authentic Australian converted woolshed serving delicious Modern Australian cuisine.

Day two begins with an opportunity to take an early morning scenic flight with Chinta Air (additional charges apply), to gain a true appreciation of the scale and grandeur of Wilpena Pound.

Then spend the morning touring the southern Flinders Ranges seeing the local sights, the picturesque Bunyeroo and Brachina gorges and partake in one of the many peaceful walks.

Enjoy a scenic drive to the Prairie Hotel, Australia’s #1 Outback Hotel recognised as an “unmissable outback experience”. Indulge in one of their signature Antipasto Platters, before taking the Moralana Scenic drive back to Rawnsley Park.

That evening join a tour of the old woolshed before being treated to a mouth-watering three-course Lamb Tasting food experience. Try local lamb from the property, showcased, and prepared in three different courses, served with matching Clare Valley wines. Finish off dinner with South Australian ports and local cheeses.

On the final day enjoy morning tea and the phenomenal views at Mt Remarkable, before continuing to the charmingly secluded Clare Valley, to meander through the countryside of one of Australia’s oldest wine growing regions dating back 150 years.

Here enjoy wine tastings and a delicious three-course lunch before returning to Adelaide.

The three-day Flinders Ranges Outback Tour starts from $2242.00 per person, twin share and includes all accommodation, meals, morning pick-up and evening set-down at selected Adelaide CBD hotels, personalised touring, expert commentary from a local driver/guide, all entrance fees, special permits and all activities. The Chinta Air scenic flight is an additional cost.

The tour will operate twice a week, departing every Monday and Friday with extra departures from December 2020 until February 2021.

For further information and bookings visit www.kangarooislandodysseys.com.au , T: +61 8 8553 0386, E: kireservations@kiodysseys.com.au

Thursday, October 17, 2019

New tours from Peregrine

From food tours in Turkey to cruising the coast of Borneo, Peregrine Adventures has revealed a range of new trips set to depart in 2020 that will offer new and exciting options for travellers to visit relatively untouched destinations in popular hot-spots.



“We’re excited to launch our new trips for 2020. From exploring ancient ruins in Sudan, uncovering the history of Russia, and exploring Cyprus in depth, there are many great small group adventures to take next year. Our focus will remain on sustainable, experience rich travel and this is evident by new trips taking Australians on more adventures of a lifetime, with the support of a local leader and comfortable accommodation ensuring a good night's sleep after a day exploring,” said Brett Mitchell, Managing Director for Asia Pacific at Peregrine Adventures.

Top 12 new trips from Peregrine Adventures in 2020: 

Ancient Sudan Experience: Undertake an ancient adventure in Sudan to discover the country's old gods and ancient empires. Over eight days, travellers will visit ancient archaeological sites and ruins and experience the history of Sudan through museums, cities and necropolises. Highlights include visiting the Nubian pyramids and tombs, the 3300-year-old temple at the foot of Jebel Barkal and experiencing the more modern Sudan through viewing souks and chai houses.
Trips start from $4,226 per person in a twin share room.

St Petersburg and the Siege of Leningrad: Embark on a limited edition tour to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad. On this seven-day trip, travellers will venture deep into historical St Petersburg (previously known as Leningrad), exploring the places and events which define a turbulent time in Russia’s history. Highlights include spending time with a war veteran and survivor of the 900-day Siege, staying overnight in a picturesque cottage on the largest lake in Europe - Lake Ladoga, and staying a night in the wing of Catherine’s Palace - the former summer home of Russia’s royal family. 
Trips start from $2,440 per person in a twin share room.

Russia in Depth: Travel to Russia for an in-depth history lesson of some of the countries lesser-known, fascinating cities. On this trip, travellers will spend 12 days travelling east from Moscow to Yekaterinburg discovering the Novodevichy Convent and Cemetery, studying the delicate carvings and craft of a Siberian Shaman and folk artist in Tobolsk and enjoying a local feast at Leo Tolstoy’s estate. Highlights include exploring the legends of Tolstoy and the Romanov family, traversing a part of the Trans-Siberian Railway and toasting the Europe-Asia border over a champagne and caviar lunch. 
Trips start from $4,046 per person in a twin share room. 

Turkey Food Explorer: Explore the contrasting flavours and faces of Turkish cuisine and culture on a 12 day food tour. On this trip, travellers will embark on an adventure through the spice bazaars of Istanbul, the Anatolian wine cellars of Goreme and beyond, to Gaziantep - the country’s kebap capital. From food to fascinating sights, highlights include visiting the Blue Mosque, witnessing whirling dervishes and visiting the ancient Gobeklitepe - an ancient archaeological complex, all whilst exploring the local cuisine and specialities.
Trips start from $2,588 per person in a twin share room.

Jewels of Turkey: Travel to Turkey  to witness the cosmopolitan delights of Istanbul to the Roman remains of Ephesus and Pergamon. This 15-day trip is held across low-season where travellers will experience the best of Turkey without the crowds, touring Goreme’s Open Air Museum, wander throughout the ruins of Ephesus and relax in the hot springs of Pamukkale. Highlights include travelling with a local guide in Turkey’s capital Istanbul, being guests at a mesmerising performance of the Whirling Dervish in Bursa and strolling the alleys and lanes of the ancient Kaleici in Turkeys favourite Mediterranean city; Antalya.
Trips start from $2,156 per person in a twin share room.

Cyprus: North to South: Discover the wonders of North and South Cyprus on this 13-day tour of the Mediterranean’s best-kept secret. Travel from Famagusta in Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus to Nicosia, a lively city that is Europe’s last divided capital. Explore ancient ruins, cathedrals converted to mosques, untouched coast and rugged mountains on this immersive adventure. Along the way, be humbled by Cypriot hospitality, stunned by charming villages and satisfied by hearty meals of fresh produce and regional delicacies.
The trip starts from $3,866 per person twin share. 

Lower Zambezi Experience: Independent: Combine rugged safari’s and creature comforts in the Lower Zambezi region on a trip to Zambia. On this four day trip, travellers try their luck at searching for the Big Five, wander through the wilderness during bush walks, explore Zambia on a canoeing adventure and take a relaxing boat cruise. Highlights include dining under the stars on the banks of the Zambezi river, spotting elephants and hippos on a private verandah and travelling with a local guide.
Trips start from $3,380 per person in a single or twin share room.

Eastern Europe Experience: Discover the beautiful Balkans, from metropolises; to meadows and mountains on a 16 day Eastern Europe Experience. On this trip, travellers will adventure through Serbia and Bulgaria before finishing in Istanbul, explore through lesser known villages such as Drvengrad, roam across Serbian meadows in Tara National Park and experience the culture and cuisine of the Balkans. Highlights include visiting Nis, known for its association with the Serbian rebellion, embarking on a cruise through the marshes of Ropotamo Nature Reserve and experiencing a gastronomical cooking experience with an expert in Western Serbian cuisine.
Trips start from $5,846 per person in a twin share room.

Tibet’s Shoton Festival: Travel from mainland China to Tibet and experience the splendour of the ancient Shoton Festival on this 8-day tour in the summer. Begin and end in the capital of Sichuan – Chengdu – and journey into the Lhasa, the capital and spiritual heart of Tibet. Here you will encounter ancient mythology, historic temples and rich and fascinating culture the region is known for. Watch pandas at a research centre in Chengdu, discover the grand former residence of the Dalai Lama, be captivated by a monk debate and celebrate Shoton with locals and pilgrims.
Priced from $3,650 per person twin share.

Cruising the Outer Islands of Croatia - Split to Dubrovnik: Board the Lupus Mare and explore the outer islands of Croatia from Split to Dubrovnik. On this eight-day trip, travellers will experience the old-world charms of Croatia aboard a small ship, witness the coastlines and ] swim in the sparkling waters of the Adriatic Sea. Highlights include exploring the military tunnels under the island of Vis, built by Tito to hide his navy’s submarines. Enjoy wine tasting and local delicacies on the tiny island of Lastovo and discover the Roman and Illyrian ruins amongst the forest on Mljet.
Trips start from $3,542 per person in a lower deck standard double room.

Russian High Arctic Odyssey: Travel on a once-in-a-lifetime trip across polar deserts and glaciers to witness wildlife that is unique to the Arctic. Starting and ending in Helsinki, on this 22- day trip, travellers will visit sites significant in the history of previous polar exploration and discover the majestic ecology, wildlife and geology of the arctic region. Highlights include visiting the untouched areas of Novaya Zemlya and Severnaya, searching for polar bears and visiting the immense glacier at Inostrantseva Bay.
Trips start from $24,500 per person in a triple room.

Borneo Coastal Cruising: Cruise along the untouched coastlines of Borneo to discover this truly wild destination. On this small ship Adventure Cruise, travellers will spot wildlife in Borneo’s forests, visit the Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Brunei followed by tea with a local in a sleepy water village and learn how to craft the perfect plate of Umani with a local Melanau cook in Mukah. This trip will take travellers of 50 or less to visit smaller ports and access hidden gems for a truly local experience. Highlights include an optional canopy walk through the rainforest of Ulu Tempurung National Park and soaking in both the crystal-clear waters of the ocean and mineral-rich volcanic mud pools of Pulau Tiga.  
Trips start from $4,005 per person in a lower deck standard double room.

Best of Spain and Portugal: Explore the best of Western Europe on this comprehensive 27- day tour of Spain and Portugal.  Taste fine wines and produce from farm to table, wander white-washed villages and medieval towns and uncover authentic culture. Highlights include exploring icons like the Alhambra Palace, Madrid, Guimaraes and Santiago de Compostella, get a behind the scenes look at Porto’s best cafes, immerse yourself in nature at Picos de Europa National Park and get transported back in time at an emotional fado performance in Coimbra.
The trip is priced from $12,947 per person twin-share. 

For more information or to book visit: https://www.peregrineadventures.com/en-au

What is Luxury?



WHAT IS LUXURY? AT ONE TIME, THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION WOULD HAVE BEEN EASY – IT IS THE THING THAT IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE, THE BEST QUALITY, THE MOST WELL-KNOWN.

But now, perceptions of luxury have moved beyond physical representations of wealth. There’s a shift away from conspicuous consumption of goods and towards investment in life-changing experiences.

The new luxury consumer is seeking authentic, meaningful, immersive and unique high-end experiences. These experiences provide a path to discover your authentic self, to create meaningful bonds, to strengthen relationships and to gain a deeper understanding of the world. And it’s why the theme for Luxperience 2019 is Experience is Everything.

“Luxury travellers are no longer satisfied with just a beautiful hotel suite, says Luxperience event director Michelle Papas. “We’ve recognised that the actual destination often isn’t the main factor when deciding where to travel. Experiences are driving luxury travel. Be it food and wine, shopping or sporting events, today’s high-end traveller is looking to immerse themselves in the destination and unique experiences that can’t be found anywhere else.”

According to Euromonitor, between 2013 and 2018 experiential luxury posted an average growth rate globally that was more than twice that of personal luxury – four per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively. Millennials are leading the charge with almost half saying that experiences are more important than tangibles.

The latest report from industry leader Skift echoes these figures. The US Experiential Traveler Trends 2019 survey found that travellers are looking for hyper-local, unique and transformative experiences. They identified a 20 per cent increase in travellers looking for travel experiences that would change their perspective on the world. At its heart is a desire to not feel like a ‘tourist’ but instead to have a genuine, authentic experience in a destination.

Luxury brands are getting on board with the trend. In early 2019 LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate finalised its purchase of travel operator Belmond for US$3.2 billion. It was a remarkable move for a company best known for running brands including Christian Dior, Bulgari and Moët & Chandon, and brings iconic travel offerings like the Hotel Cipriani and Venice Simplon-OrientExpress into the LVMH family. It’s evidence that high-end brands recognise the importance of experiences to their key customer base.

Milton Pedraza, founder and CEO of the Luxury Institute believes luxury goods companies have been slow to prioritise services. “If they want to remain viable in the future, they need to start investing in experiential or service brands,” he says. And technology could be the way forward.

In recent years, the industry has recognised that personalisation is one of the keys to creating a truly authentic experience for each traveller. Now, it’s gone a step further – thanks largely to technology. Skift has identified the emergence of co-creation and collaboration between travel company and traveller. “The control that travellers now have during every phase of their trip will begin to revolutionise the sector starting in 2019, and smart travel companies are paying attention to ways they can empower their customers without eroding the value of their brand,” says Skift’s Andrew Sheivachman.

The future of the industry is experiences that bring together the world’s best luxury brands and create personalised journeys for discerning travellers. The world awaits.



Rail Europe predicts exciting growth for European rail travel



· 80 years’ experience with strong global positioning
· Integrated and backed by much larger network and brand
· Delivering cutting-edge technology that simplifies bookings

Rail Europe, the 80-year-strong global distributor of all European rail, continues to strengthen its position as the No. 1 global provider of European train tickets, as the international powerhouse of e-voyageurs SNCF; the digital arm of parent company SNCF. The company has set a €500M target to be reached within the next two years.

The technology being used to help travellers research and book rail tickets via desktop or mobile app is being consistently improved and updated by the team of 1,000 digital experts. Sightseeing tours and other travel experiences can also be purchased at a click of a button when purchasing rail products.

Rail Europe’s General Manager Business APAC, Richard Leonard, says the company’s priority is to remain ahead of the game in delivering intuitive and tailored services that pre-empt the ever-changing travel landscape and new generations of travellers.

“Train travel is the most sustainable way of travelling after cycling and as a global brand, we are fully committed to making European train travel more accessible to travellers who opt for environmentally conscious travel, encouraging more to choose this mode of transportation,” says Leonard.

Train travel across Europe generates in excess of €800M and Rail Europe foresees the opportunity to grow sales to €1.5Bn by 2028. It is imperative Rail Europe ensures the company’s technology caters to the demands of the high growth markets including Australia, China, Brazil, India and the USA.

In 2018, the company enjoyed an annual turnover of €335 million, which is set to reach €400 million in 2019 (12% YOY growth). Rail Europe Australia and New Zealand has enjoyed 10% YTD sales growth*.

Globally, Rail Europe sells more than 1mil European tickets a year via its mobile app and localised websites available in 15 languages and in 18 different currencies.

In Australia and New Zealand, Rail Europe’s Great Train Journeys portfolio continues to expand with new offerings and packages being curated and added to meet the growing demands.

Headquartered in Paris, Rail Europe Asia Pacific has offices in Melbourne, Auckland, Seoul and Tokyo, with the wider network operating in New York, Chicago, Buenos Aires, London and Mumbai.


Taveuni Palms, Fiji - voted best luxury resort in Oceania and Australia


Proving yet again it's the luxury resort of choice and a perfect slice of Fijian heaven, Taveuni Palms Resort, Fiji has won prestigious awards at the recent 2019 World Luxury Hotel Awards and at the 2019 Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards.

The boutique resort won the '2019 Luxury Private Pool Villa Continent Winner, Australia and Oceania' at the World Luxury Hotel Awards, and for the fourth consecutive year won the exclusive, "Signum Virtutis", the Seal of Excellence, at the 2019 Seven Stars Luxury Hospitality and Lifestyle Awards in the Hotels and Resorts sector.

Both awards are voted for by consumers and identify the exceptional from the very best. They reward luxury hotels worldwide, their world-class facilities and excellence in guest service.

"We feel extremely privileged to have won both these awards, especially as they are voted on by our beloved guests." Says Colleen O'Neill, Owner, Taveuni Palms Resort, Fiji.

"From 5-star accommodation to 5-star dining with your personal chef, the resorts number one priority is to provide our guests with an exceptional experience in a private, romantic and luxurious setting. Winning these awards recognises our team's constant hard work and that our high standards are being appreciated by the most important people - our guests." Continues Mrs O'Neill.

Since opening, Taveuni Palms Resort has become one of the most sought-after resorts, winning accolades around the world.  In addition to these awards, in 2018 Taveuni Palms won for the 8th consecutive year, 'Australasia's Leading Boutique Resort' and for the first time, 'World's Leading Luxury Island Villas' at the 2018 World Travel Awards. The resort also won a further six awards in 2017.

Taveuni Palms Resort, situated on Taveuni Island, Fiji is one of the world's most exquisite five stars luxury properties.  Offering extreme privacy, the resort has two opulent villas, each with seven exceptional staff ready to cater for guests every whim.

The Beach Villa and Horizon Spa Villas are set amongst swaying coconut palms, on their own private acre of absolute beachfront and feature a private pool, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The Horizon Spa Villa also features a luxury Spa Pool and an additional one bedroom and bathroom in a separate air-conditioned bure.

Dining at the resort is an experience to remember. Each villa boasts its own personal chef and every dining occasion is exceptional, with each villa offering five different dining locations from the private beach, poolside, inside the luxury villa or on one of two decks cantilevered over tropical gardens.

Days are magical and always offer something new to experience. From relaxing spa treatments, hiking to waterfalls, horseback riding, pearl farm tours and snorkelling, to island beach picnic's, dolphin watching, paddleboarding, kayaking, diving trips or taking part in a traditional Fijian cultural ceremony, there is something for everyone.

Prices at Taveuni Palms Resort start from USD$1500 per day for two people per villa, excluding tax, and includes champagne upon arrival, all meals and non-alcoholic beverages (breakfast, lunch and a 4 course dinner), all-day complimentary room service, a personal staff of seven, resort activities including kayaks, paddleboards, snorkelling gear, bikes, and cooking lessons with your personal chef, Fijian LOVO feast at the local village, Grand Fijian welcome with "salu-salus" and "bula-drinks" upon arrival, 1 hour after flight recovery massage upon arrival, roundtrip transfers from Matei airport to Taveuni Palms and unlimited wireless internet usage.

For further information visit: www.taveunipalms.com


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Patagonia Camp Provides the Perfect Backdrop for a Girls Getaway


For women with a sense of adventure, appreciation for nature, taste for fine food and wine, and a passion for getting away together, Patagonia Camp (www.patagoniacamp.com) in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, provides the ultimate backdrop.

The luxury ‘glampground’ just next to the entrance to Torres del Paine National Park is complete with 20 high-end yurts that bring women travelers closer to nature, without sacrificing the five-star amenities that make this a truly A-list experience. Connect with the environment in a way like never before, with Lago Toro at your doorstep. Fall asleep to the sound of the wind through the trees and a blanket of stars above your head.

Patagonia Camp has a variety of programs that are designed with women travelers in mind and make the perfect itinerary for groups of women who want to get away and reconnect with each other.

Cuisine and the environment come together like never before with Patagonia Camp's Wine & Nature program, a complete luxury experience that combines the elegance and harmony of the world of wine. The Wine & Nature Week is an invitation to enjoy Patagonia Camp, as well as La Casona. The program gives the option to stay three or four nights at Patagonia Camp and two nights at La Casona, as well as transfers, tickets to Torres del Paine National Park, a guided tour in the Vina Matetic Winery, and guided outdoor excursions like horseback riding, cycling, or hiking in Vina Matetic. Vina Matetic is a magical and inspiring place that combines organic wine production with luxury tourism.

Also, for traveling gourmands, the restaurant at Patagonia Camp is a sight to behold, with panoramic windows that gaze out over the Paine Massif and the lake. The kitchen brings together the best of Patagonia's local resources to create fresh, healthy, delicious meals, like salmon, lamb, crab, and vegetables from the region. All of this is, of course, paired with local wines from Vina Matetic, or a cocktail created by the hotel's dedicated and talented barman. There’s no better place to reconnect with friends than in the cozy restaurant over a bottle of wine and a locally-sourced meal.

But Patagonia Camp also has programs for active women, as well. Last month Patagonia Camp held a yoga retreat for those who want to expand their practice in a spectacular setting. Plans are already on their way for September 2020. The program consisted of two daily sessions: one in the morning before leaving to discover the Torres del Paine park, and the other in the afternoon to channel all the experiences from the day. The all-inclusive program also included breakfast, lunch, and a three-course dinner with vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options.


Friday, October 4, 2019

The hotel trend for 2020 - Cititel X 'Co-Living' hotels to make their mark in Australia


A new boutique hotel is set to open in Sydney's thriving Pyrmont/Darling Harbour precinct at the start of 2020, offering a premium location at great-value rates, with a distinctive 'home away from home' design, ideal for leisure and business travellers.

Cititel X Sydney will be a 60 room boutique hotel located in Murray Street, Pyrmont, with the central business district, International Convention Centre, and the restaurant districts of Darling Harbour, King Street Wharf, Chinatown and Barangaroo all just a short walk away or easily accessible via light rail.

Featuring stylish, contemporary, space-saving design in the rooms, the emphasis of the new hotel is on creating a home-like ambience with the ground floor Guest Lounge & Pantry at the heart of the hotel. The spacious area will offer comfortable seating, a garden terrace and a complimentary guest 'pantry' including water, soft drinks, Espresso coffee, and premium teas so that guests can meet with friends and fellow guests.

The Cititel X will provide an all-inclusive concept with snacks and refreshments included in the room rate and available throughout the day in the Guest Lounge and Pantry, which will also feature high-speed WiFi to enable guests to work from the area or just stream their favourite videos.

The hotel will deliver a co-living experience that has become very popular in Europe, changing the style of hotel experience from guests staying in their rooms to sharing stylish living areas that make them feel 'at home'.

Taking the 'at home' principle one step further, Cititel X Sydney will provide cooking utensils and equipment so guests can prepare simple meals in the guest areas if they decide they want to dine in-house, taking advantage of supermarkets and food stores nearby.

The hotel will be the first Cititel X in Australia, joining a network of Cititel hotels in Malaysia, in prime locations such as Penang, Ipoh and Kota Kinabalu.

General Manager of Cititel X, Klaus Kinateder, said that the hotel had been purpose-designed to fill a vacuum in the Sydney accommodation market.

"Previous co-living projects have been developed out of former student accommodation and didn't offer the quality or facilities that international travellers – especially business travellers – were seeking," said Mr Kinateder.

"We've designed the hotel to meet the fastest-growing sector of the travel market. Cititel X is not about massive rooms or services that travellers don't really want. What we are offering is a 'home away from home' style guest experience at great-value rates.

"Just as if you were to invite a friend to your home there will be pantry items available so you can share a cup of coffee with them or enjoy a snack. And even better for solo travellers who don't really want to go out every night to a restaurant or cafe, they can pick up some items for dinner at the many food stores around the area and enjoy a 'quiet night in' while they watch a video on their device, catch up on work or chill-out with other guests.

"In the future, we will look at organising special extras like pizza nights encouraging guests to meet each other, share their stories and feel welcome in the city.

"It will all be about connection, both through having co-living areas and the best high-speed WiFi. It's not just about satisfying millennials – it's about meeting the demands of most travellers these days.

"There won't be lengthy check-in and check-out processes because effectively once a guest arrives just about every service in the hotel is included in their rate.

"And we will continue to evolve according to changing guest needs."

Cititel X Sydney is being developed by prominent Malaysian developer, Mr Boon Lee Tan, who has a strong track-record in developing hotels in Asia and Australia, including the Tank Stream Hotel in Sydney.

Mr Tan is Deputy CEO of IGB Corporation, which has been involved with some of Sydney's most significant property projects, including the preservation and restoration of Queen Victoria Building, Galleries Victoria and the Strand Arcade.


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The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places