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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Let’s Get into Bed: Hotel Beds




by Roderick Eime
HM - Hotel Management Magazine

Julia Roberts just loves getting into bed. And she’s even prepared to admit as much on the top-rating Oprah Winfrey Show. In particular, she prefers the Four Seasons Hotel variety complete with custom Sealy mattress and double duck down pillow.

Four Seasons Hotel Celebrity Bed
If ever we overlooked the importance of the hotel bed, that priceless piece of PR reminded us of the value of an outstanding mattress and pillow. Hands up everyone who’s stayed in a hotel, even a fancy one, and got up the next morning feeling, well, secondhand because of the mattress. Would you stay there again? Thought so.

And if ever we needed reminding about finicky customers, Tom Butler from NZ’s award-winning Grasmere Lodge, reminded me of just how demanding customers can be.

“This one lady was quite adamant about how her bed was to be made,” says Tom, “she stood over our terrified housekeeper as every minute instruction was delivered; mattress with thin down topper, but sheet first, then second sheet, and so on. Everything had to be just so.”

“I wrote all this down and forwarded to the rest of the lodges on her itinerary who thought I was playing another one of my pranks. ‘No, this is for real’, I said. It all worked out in the end and she was happy, but clearly some people take their sleep very seriously!”

Sleep is the new sex, according to an investigation by Forbes magazine.

"Sleep is something everyone needs and wants," said senior editor Melanie Wells. "We have to have it, and we have trouble getting it these days. And increasingly people are paying a lot of money for relief."

UK Times journalist Susan d’Arcy reports that “the trendy Cotswold House Hotel, in Gloucestershire, has taken the search for slumber to another level, installing a bed that costs £14,000 — and it doesn’t even have a mattress. Instead, the Ammique King comprises almost 10,000 vertical rods, each topped with a plastic cap no bigger than a thumbnail and suspended, snug as sardines, in a wooden box. The rods, covered by three padded sheets, contour precisely to your body, thus providing the appropriate support for a perfect night in the land of nod. According to the hype, the Ammique King can ‘turn your dream of quality sleep into a reality’. So, I’m dreaming about being asleep? Oh, never mind.”

Even though beds may not be the first thing a most hotels promote about itself, savvy operators are well aware of the crucial link between a good nights’ rest and a repeat customer.

Back in 1984, the Four Seasons commissioned a specially designed mattress and matching box spring exclusively for their guests. Once perfected, this superbly comfortable bed was installed in every Four Seasons room worldwide, and became so popular with well-rested clients that the design has been made available for purchase so that guests might re-create the Perfect Sleep in their own homes.

Perfection demands meticulous attention to detail. In developing the ultimate sleep experience, Four Seasons Hotel Sydney (and every other Four Seasons Hotel) uses only the finest bed linens, with duvets filled with 100-percent goose down 230TC Cotton and a 290z filling, pillows are 25 per cent duck down, 75 per cent duck feather (small end feather) and sheets are 100 per cent cotton and 300 thread count.

Sally McCann from Sydney’s Four Seasons confirms that customers regularly enquire about taking home one of the specially-made king bed sets after a night on one.

“Andrew Raiss, our Director of Purchasing, even has a form letter to send out to guests who enquire. Because Sealy make each bed to custom order in the USA, we have get payment in advance and it is delivered to the hotel,” says Sally, “Some guests are apparently impressed enough to write a cheque for $6000 – plus delivery.”

Not to be outdone, the W Hotel, for instance, sells a plush Simmons mattress called "The Westin Heavenly Bed." According to New York journalist, Gersh Kuntzman, a king-sized mattress, box spring, frame, pillows, pillow cases and that thing called a duvet will set you back US$3,000.

Westin Heavenly Bed
The hotel claims its "Heavenly Bed" goes headboard-to-headboard with the Four Seasons Hotels' famous "Four Seasons Bed," a souped-up Sealy that costs $2,000 and features 933 individual coils (that's a lot of coils). The Four Seasons in New York sells a dozen a month alone, thanks to recent testimonials by noted bed user Julia Roberts and noted reader Oprah Winfrey.

"We even have one guest who bought one and asked us to store it for him so that every time he stays here, he can sleep on his own bed," said Susan Zaki, the US hotel's purchasing director.

The Sealy bedroom swagger continues with the “Sheraton Sweet Sleeper”, a custom Posturepedic® launched by Starwood in 2003 and now in over 70,000 rooms across the globe. Take home price: $1300.

Even though the Sealy Four Seasons and those for global brands like Starwood, Rydges and Hilton are made offshore, Sealy still caters to the needs of local hoteliers by consulting and manufacturing according to their own wishes.

Sealy of Australia National Commercial Account Manager, Antony Raiteri says, “We have developed an exclusive range of products for other major national customers such as Mirvac and boutique standalone properties like Crown Casino Melbourne, Emporium Hotel Brisbane, and Versace Hotel Gold Coast. As a result this has enabled us to develop commercial bedding products reflecting the latest in technology and performance to the greater accommodation market in Australia.”

Even though it may be funny to imagine upright purchasing managers taking flying leaps onto mattresses to test them out, that’s pretty much what happens. So which one do they come to rest on?

“The Sealy " Posturepedic® Dynasty Range" is our premium offer and almost always where the bouncing stops. This signature range offers customers the most luxurious commercial bedding products in Australian and is preferred by both the five star international hotel chains and the boutique properties.”

Case in point was the recently opened Emporium Hotel, catering to Brisbane’s elite and transiting glitterati. Raiteri recalls this as “a rather intense process of trialling numerous products looking of market trends, speaking to customers and listening to feedback.”

“Being positioned at the very high end and as a boutique property, we wanted a superlative product, “said GM, Peter Savoff, “Sealy were able to deliver us their best available commercial product at a price we could afford.”

Who else sells beds to hotels?

Another Australian brand, Sleepmaker, with seven manufacturing plants and over 500 employees across Australia and New Zealand lists Accor, Toga, Hyatt and Stamford among their A-list of hotel brands. As part of the massive Pacific Brands group, they offer Sleepmaker, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, Lullaby innercell, beds and bunks, Tontine accessories, feather and down accessory products.

Sleepmaker are responsible for the Sofitel 'My Bed'. The approved and preferred standard is provided to all Sofitel properties in Australasia. The most recent installation is Sofitel, Collins Street, Melbourne. Simmons ‘Heavenly Bed’ at Westin is also supplied by Sleepmaker Commercial.

Okay, so you’ve chosen the springs and bedhead, what next?

The Australian Actil Commercial brand and their bed linen assortment have built a solid reputation for servicing the finest hotels, resorts, luxury accommodations, as well as catering for boutique bed and breakfasts and more modest style accommodations.

With 100 per cent cotton sateen and 300 thread count, this is where you should start for your sheets and pillow cases. Collections include St Francis, Peninsula and Azumi.

And the pillow fight?

Again, Sleepmaker Commercial can supply Tontine Fibre and Feather and Down with everything from pillows, mattress protectors and quilts.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cathay Pacific new seasonal service to Barcelona in Summer 2017


New four-times weekly operation with the Airbus A350 directly links Hong Kong and the capital of Spain's Catalonia region for the first time; complements current services to Madrid



Cathay Pacific will introduce a new four-times weekly seasonal service (CX321/322) between Hong Kong and Barcelona from 2 July 2017 (subject to government approval), offering travellers an exciting getaway destination and directly linking two of the world's most dynamic cities for the very first time.

The seasonal operation, scheduled to operate throughout the peak travel months until 27 October, complements the airline's existing four-times weekly service to Madrid, meaning Cathay Pacific will soon provide more non-stop flights to Spain from Asia than any other airline.

Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Ivan Chu said: "Barcelona is a great city for its tourism and rich culture that attracts visitors from around the world. We're excited to offer the first-ever direct link between Hong Kong and Barcelona, which follows the launch of our Madrid service last year. This new summer service reflects our commitment to grow the Cathay Pacific network and offer customers more choice. This further strengthens Hong Kong's status as one of the world's most important aviation hubs."



Renowned for its art, architecture, cuisine and nightlife, Barcelona is home to approximately 1.6 million residents and arguably the world's most famous and successful football team – FC Barcelona. On the back of robust growth in recent times, this vibrant city, and the wider Catalonia region in general, has also established itself as an important business and transportation hub. Strategically located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and boasting numerous beaches within easy reach of the city centre, over 7.5 million tourists visited Barcelona in 2015, a number that looks set to increase thanks to the introduction of Cathay Pacific's new service.

To be operated by Cathay Pacific's state-of-the-art Airbus A350-900 aircraft, the new service gives both business and leisure passengers the fastest, most direct option to Spain's second most populous city, while also providing passengers from the Iberian Peninsula easier access to key destinations in Asia and Southwest Pacific through the airline's hub in Hong Kong.

Featuring the airline's newest products in Business, Premium Economy and Economy Class, the A350 encapsulates Cathay Pacific's brand promise of a Life Well Travelled. In addition to the latest seats and an enhanced inflight entertainment system, the aircraft is Wi-Fi equipped, meaning passengers can stay connected throughout their journey.



Summer in Tasmania: New Lodgings, Epic Adventures and Nature Amplified.

#Tasmania

With new accommodation popping up across the island and exciting new collaborations between some of our most loved tourism experiences, it's time to take a fresh look at Tasmania in summer.




Friday, January 13, 2017

Sydney Welcomes Refurbished Regent Seven Seas Voyager

Today marks the return of Regent Seven Seas Cruises (RSSC) to Sydney’s harbour with the newly refurbished Seven Seas Voyager, commencing her 14-night Sydney to Auckland sailing, taking in breathtaking ports including Burnie, Rotorua and Bay of Islands along the way. She will then embark on a 25-night sailing from Auckland to Singapore.



Seven Seas Voyager underwent a massive 25-day refurbishment as part of the brand’s US$125 million fleet-wide refurbishment programme in late 2016. Along with the recently refurbished Seven Seas Navigator, Seven Seas Voyager now boasts the same elegant style and indisputable attention to detail famously featured on Seven Seas Explorer, providing all RSSC ships with a consistent look-and-feel.

Deepening the brand’s commitment to the Australia and New Zealand region, the also newly refurbished Seven Seas Navigator will soon follow Seven Seas Voyager visiting local shores in February and March 2017.

Celebrating a 25-year legacy of providing exquisite service on board the most luxurious fleet in the world and a first year of successful operations of its local contact centre, RSSC is set to announce exclusive offers on selected cruises as part of its 25th anniversary in 2017.

For more specific itinerary details or for general information about Regent Seven Seas Cruises, visit www.RSSC.com, email res.apac@rssc.com , call Australia: 1300 455 200, New Zealand: 0800 625 692, or contact a professional travel agent.


Traveloscopy | 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line's ship Norwegian Bliss to sail from Miami

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that Norwegian Bliss, the brand's sixteenth ship, will set sail for the Cruise Capital of the World after her inaugural season in Alaska, to seasonal homeport in Miami in November 2018. Beginning on 17 November 2018, Norwegian Bliss will sail seven-day Eastern Caribbean cruises each Saturday from PortMiami, featuring calls in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian Bliss’ custom design will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to “imagine Bliss” and create their ideal experience at sea, with a wide variety of accommodation options including exclusive suites in The Haven by Norwegian®, Studio staterooms for solo travellers with virtual ocean views, and new connecting staterooms ideal for large groups and families travelling together. Norwegian Bliss will also feature two observation lounges, including one exclusive to guests of The Haven, perfect for whale watching in Alaska or taking in sunsets in the Caribbean.



“We are incredibly excited to announce that we are once again bringing our newest and most innovative ship to Miami, with the arrival of Norwegian Bliss in November 2018," said Andy Stuart, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. “As the Caribbean is our most sought-after winter destination, there was no question that Norwegian Bliss would sail from Miami. This incredibly dynamic ship will offer stunning ocean views from almost every venue, spacious and thoughtfully designed accommodation that fit with every cruiser’s needs, and a variety of exciting and engaging venues that will continue Norwegian’s history of innovation in providing the ultimate dining and entertainment experiences at sea.”

En route to Miami following the completion of her Alaska cruising season, Norwegian Bliss will sail one five-day Pacific Coastal sailing from Vancouver to Los Angeles on September 30, with an overnight stay in Vancouver and calls in Victoria, British Columbia and San Francisco. Norwegian Bliss’ seven-day Mexican Riviera cruises will feature calls in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán and Cabo San Lucas, adding Ensenada, Mexico on its eight-day itinerary. For those looking for a once-in-a-lifetime cruise experience, Norwegian Bliss will depart Los Angeles on November 3 for a 14-day journey to Miami through the new locks of the recently expanded Panama Canal, with calls in Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, Mexico; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; Puntarenas (Puerto Caldera), Costa Rica; and Cartagena, Colombia.

The same features that make Norwegian Bliss the ideal ship for the ultimate Alaska experience will also allow guests to experience the Caribbean like never before. The crown jewel of these features is an incredible 180-degree Observation Lounge, located at the front of the ship on deck 15. Spanning 1858 square metres (20,000 square feet), the sprawling Observation Lounge will be a breathtaking experience, offering floor-to-ceiling windows that will be the perfect spot from which to take in the stunning sunset views of the beautiful islands of the Caribbean or the awe-inspiring glaciers and vistas of Alaska. The lounge, designed with rich woods and a silver and gray color palate, will offer an abundance of plush, modern seating including couches and chaise loungers to take in the view, along with a 360-degree polished aluminum and quartz-topped central bar where guests can enjoy fine cocktails and spirits.

In the spirit of Norwegian’s long history of innovation, Norwegian Bliss will have accommodation for everyone on board, with options ranging from staterooms designed for solo travellers, family-friendly connecting staterooms, ultra chic suites and more. Norwegian’s signature ship-within-a-ship concept, The Haven by Norwegian®, will once again adorn the top of the ship with 80 ultra-luxurious suites. The exclusive key-card access three-storey enclave on decks 17 -19 will be a secluded paradise with a private restaurant with outdoor terrace, private lounge with a dedicated mixologist, courtyard area with retractable roof that features a pool, two whirlpools, sauna, spa treatment rooms and sunbathing deck. All suites in the Haven will enjoy the services of a butler and a private concierge, as well as priority access to reservations, VIP embarkation and disembarkation, exclusive reserved seating in the ship's theatre and much more.

Guests staying in The Haven on Norwegian Bliss will take in luxury, style and stunning views with their very own exclusive two-storey Haven Observation Lounge, a brand new feature for The Haven, which will feature expansive 180-degree views from two decks, the same as the ship’s officers’ experience from the Bridge, and beverage service.

Each suite in The Haven by Norwegian® will feature crisp, modern furnishings in rich wood tones, accented by custom stonework, marble-topped nightstands and vanities, and indulgent linens. Suite options will include the largest and most luxurious suites onboard, The Haven Deluxe Owner's Suites, which will have a new look and feel with an indulgent cream and grey colour scheme, include captain’s views and two spacious balconies. Additional Haven suites include The Haven Two-Bedroom Family Villa, The Haven Courtyard Penthouse, The Haven Deluxe Spa Suite, The Haven Forward and Aft-facing Penthouses and the all-new The Haven Suite that can connect with a Balcony stateroom, so large families and groups are able to be accommodated with ease.

Norwegian Bliss will also feature new connecting stateroom options across stateroom categories—ideal for large groups and families travelling together who want to enjoy quality time together at sea. The ship’s 308 Mini-Suites are designed for guests looking to enjoy a little more of a spacious experience at sea featuring larger bathrooms than a standard Balcony stateroom with some offering bathtubs, and a balcony for gazing out to sea. Designed to offer guests near constant views of the sea, Norwegian Bliss will have 1,088 Balcony staterooms that feature plush décor in soothing cool tones, along with a sofa, vanity and desk area and coffee maker. Norwegian Bliss will also include 111 Oceanview staterooms that feature large picturesque windows to take in the spectacular sea views.

Solo travellers can enjoy Norwegian’s popular award-winning Studio staterooms aboard Norwegian Bliss, now with virtual ocean views. The Studio staterooms include thought-out features and amenities designed and priced for solo travellers. The Studio complex is comprised of 82 staterooms, accessible by private keycard-entry with access to a private lounge exclusively for Studio guests with snack service, board games and a member of the Cruise Staff dedicated to leading solo traveller meet ups and activities. All staterooms feature a full-sized bed, a window to the corridor, and separate areas for toilet, sink, and shower. Select Studios connect, perfect for single friends travelling together.

Norwegian Bliss’ also offers 374 Inside staterooms, which include two lower beds that convert to a queen-size bed. Select Inside staterooms also have up to two additional Pullman beds to accommodate families. All rooms feature USB plugs.


Traveloscopy | 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fiji Airways to operate out of Adelaide


Bula Adelaide!




Fiji Airways, Fiji’s National Airline, has announced plans to commence twice weekly direct services to Nadi from Adelaide commencing on Friday, June 30, 2017. As well as giving South Australians direct access to Fiji, the new route will also act as a gateway to the United States (Los Angeles and San Francisco) via Nadi.

This marks the fourth Australian leg for the airline after Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Diversifying the Australian market has been a goal of Fiji Airways for some time as so many Australians fly to Fiji every year.

“We’re delighted to launch our fourth Australian route, which will allow us to bring our unique Fijian hospitality to South Australia and will provide an alternative route to the United States via Nadi,” said Andre Viljoen, Managing Director and CEO of Fiji Airways.

The new service will be good news for the sizeable Fijian community living in South Australia.

“South Australia’s strong Fijian community will benefit from a direct connection to Nadi to bring them closer to family and friends,” said Mark Young, Managing Director at Adelaide Airport.

Furthering this, South Australians are connected like never before to the South Pacific region with Fiji Airways directly to Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu via Nadi.

Fijian Attorney General and Minister for Public Enterprises and Civil Aviation, the Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the direct flights to Adelaide has come at an exciting time with the announcement of the new B737 Max 8 aircraft.

“This has further enhanced Fiji’s footprint in new ways beyond the eastern seaboard of Australia,” he said.

“This concludes a great 2016 overall for Fiji Airways with the launch of direct routes to Singapore and San Francisco earlier in the year.”

Hon. Sayed-Khaiyum said the new route couldn’t have come at a better time with Adelaide flights starting just before the second term school holidays in South Australia.

South Australia Tourism Minister, Leon Bignell welcomed the announcement saying Adelaide has welcomed many airlines from around the world and Fiji Airways will provide even more options for visitors travelling to South Australia.

Flights (FJ961/FL960) are now available for sale with return economy airfares starting from AUD799 per person.

Tickets can be purchased through the Fiji Airways website, www.fijiairways.com, or by calling the Fiji Airways Global Reservations Centre.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Grille by Eichardt’s launches with exclusive grand opening



Gastronomical talent, distinctly local flavour, unrivalled luxury

Introducing The Grille by Eichardt's

With its spectacular landscape trumped only by its adventurous food and wine scene, Queenstown has further cemented its reputation as an educated diner's dream with the grand opening of Eichardt's Private Hotel's new premium restaurant - The Grille by Eichardt's.

The Grille, boasting an all-day restaurant, lunch bar and cocktail lounge, has officially opened its doors in prime position on Queenstown's waterfront, with unobstructed views across the Wakatipu and snow-capped peaks beyond.

The restaurant's tempting dishes and sophisticated cocktails is no surprise given Executive Chef Will Eaglesfield's reputation as mastermind behind some of the tastiest menus in New Zealand and abroad.

"We'll be continuing the same ethos we use in our tapas; everything homemade as much as possible, the best meat from pampered animals, our home-grown produce, every dish a labour of love. But with the brand new kitchen tricked out for curing, smoking and grilling we'll be taking it up a notch."

While British-born Eaglesfield's international experience (including stints in London, the French Alps and the Mediterranean) inspires the colours and flavours of his dishes, The Grille's menu is a clear reflection of his passion for authentic local produce.

"The crayfish meatballs, for example, are chargrilled for a little extra smoky flavour and served with handmade tagliatelle and a rich tomato broth infused with Otago-grown saffron. This menu really is unique in the sense it offers locally foraged produce and distinctly Queenstown flavours, with a splash of worldly indulgence," Eaglesfield explains.

In true Eichardt's style, the design of the new restaurant is as impressive as the menu - award winning architect Michael Wyatt combining the elegance of Oamaru natural stone with weathered and exposed steel to create a façade like no other.

Inside, the slate tile floor has been carefully chosen to match Eichardt's Private Bar's atrium while rich, dark stained timber panels adorn the walls and ceiling. Bevelled mirrors, floating shelves and antique wall lights – along with sumptuous leather banquettes – complete the perfect setting for guests to enjoy one of The Grille's signature cocktails as the sun goes down.

Tom Macaulay, General Manager Food & Beverage, said the laneway end of The Grille will also feature a large communal table and lunch bar with stool seating – perfect for the quick corporate lunch.

"We envisage the six seater communal table to be very popular with its generous ice well – think oysters, bubbles and beer on ice. For those with limited time, there will also be a selection of fresh open sandwiches for dine in or takeaway, from venison prosciutto, tomato, hummus & dukkah to brisket, mustard & caramelised onion."

The perfect balance of old-world opulence and modern design, The Grille will effectively link Eichardt's Private Hotel with the new development, which will also soon be home to Eichardt's uber-luxury 'Penthouse' suites and international retail giants Louis Vuitton and World Boutique.

The Grille, part of the Imperium Collection, joins an impressive list of names under the Eichardt's family banner including Eichardt's Private Hotel & Bar, The Spire Hotel and No5 Church Lane. Macaulay said the long-anticipated opening of the new restaurant represents a major achievement for the Imperium Collection as well as the region itself.

"We're thrilled to be able to share this destination restaurant with locals and tourists alike. Queenstown is evolving at such a rapid pace and we're proud to offer guests an unrivalled hospitality experience, whether it be settling in for a private Parlour dining experience, holing up with a pinot at the Eichardt's Bar, or indulging in some of the regions finest delicacies at The Grille," says Macaulay.

The Grille is located on Marine Parade, Queenstown. The restaurant seats 150 people and is open for breakfast 07:30-11:30am; lunch 11:30-17:00pm; dinner 17:00-late.

For more information visit http://www.eichardtsdining.com/thegrille/


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