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Thursday, July 20, 2017

[watch] Hilarious new British Airways safety video with famous movie stars

A team of top celebrities including Gordon Ramsay, Rob Brydon, Sir Ian McKellen and Thandie Newton make appearances in British Airways’ entertaining new pre-flight safety video, which launches in September.

The new film features some of Britain’s best-loved personalities and has been designed to help customers absorb important safety messages, while boosting fund-raising for ‘Flying Start’, the global charity partnership between British Airways and Comic Relief.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman and CEO, said: “It’s extremely important to us that customers engage with our safety video, and involving some of the nation’s most well-known personalities has given us the chance to create something fun that we hope people will watch from start to finish - and remember.

“We’ve worked with Comic Relief since 2010 and our customers have already helped us generate £16.5 million for great causes. We hope the new video will enable us to exceed our goal of raising £20 million by 2020.”

Ten celebrities are seen auditioning in humorous sketches in front of comedian Asim Chaudhry, as his People Just Do Nothing character Chabuddy G, for a coveted part in the safety video, while simultaneously demonstrating the safety features and procedures on the aircraft.

Veriu Broadway - Sydney's newest hotel

Sydney’s newest hotel brand – Veriu Hotels– was officially launched last night at the group’s newly opened hotel, Veriu Broadway. Veriu owners, Rhys Williams and Alex Thorpe, highlighted the group’s commitment to providing guests with the opportunity to feel genuinely connected to their city as they prepare to open a number of hotels across Sydney’s inner city precincts.

“The vision for Veriu started way before any bricks and mortar were laid - It started with an idea to create a hotel brand committed to providing guests with an authentic experience of a local urban precinct that we felt passionate about and we wanted to do it in a way that a big hotel brand simply can’t,” said Rhys Williams.

“Living local is very much part of the brand’s DNA and we have incorporated elements into the guest experience to ensure they have every opportunity to experience Sydney’s diverse locations. When we consider giving a visitor the keys to our city we get very excited about putting them in places that we know will deliver.”

Veriu Broadway guests have an array of experiences on offer – all easily explored using the complimentary Dutch style retro bicycles from Sydney brand Lekker bikes (available at all Veriu hotels). From eating dumplings in Spice Alley, to enjoying fine dining at the Tramsheds or taking a walk around Darling Harbour. Active guests can swim at Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre or gourmets can stock up on fresh local produce at the Fish Markets and prepare a feast in their self-contained apartment.

To further enhance the guest’s connection to the city, Veriu have also tapped guests into their network of hotels in the city through their unique concept called ‘Veriu Connect.’

“Veriu Connect gives any of our guests the opportunity to explore the rest of Sydney by visiting any hotel in our network. They simply show their room key and they will be welcomed by our trained area guide with a drink and given a variety of tips of the best places to eat, drink and explore.”

By the end of 2019 Veriu will have hotels in Camperdown, Randwick, Broadway, Central, Surry Hills, Elizabeth Bay and Green Square, bringing the city to life for any guest with the desire to explore a local area. Using Veriu Connect, a guest can drop into a different Veriu hotel on every day of the week for an entire week and have a totally unique local experience each day.

Complementing the ‘living local’ guest experience and ‘Veriu Connect’, Veriu hotels passionately support the local community, showcasing works from local Sydney and Australian artists in keeping with the surrounding location, and sourcing food and beverage items from locally based suppliers. Furnishings and décor are also produced to create a bespoke environment with no hotel room the same and each hotel reflecting the history of the building and surrounding suburb.

Veriu Broadway’s conversion from the former leather factory warehouse combines both industrial and contemporary style. Rooms on the first three floors have exposed beam high ceilings and polished concrete floors while rooms on higher levels offer fresh modern décor and amazing views of the CBD. Sydney based artist Simon Lovelace has provided art pieces for rooms reminiscent of Ultimo and vintage Sydney streets, while Melbourne based stencil art aficionado Logan Moody has provided the stunning mural in the foyer. A custom made zinc roof –the largest of this style dome in Australia – completes the hotel’s unique look.

Coinciding with the Veriu Broadway opening was the rebrand of two properties - Veriu Camperdown and Veriu Randwick - following extensive refurbishments to bring them up to Veriu standard. More hotels are scheduled to open near Sydney’s Central Station, Surry Hills and Elizabeth Bay over the next year and at Green Square in 2019 in partnership with property fund managers, Folkestone.

Visit for further information about Sydney’s newest hotel brand.

Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport now open

The new Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport was officially opened today (19 July) by New South Wales Minister for Tourism and Major Events, the Honourable Adam Marshall MP, to help serve the 42 million passengers who travel through Sydney Airport each year, as well the thousands of visitors and staff who visit the airport precinct daily.

Mantra Group Chief Executive Officer Bob East said the new 136-room property provides much-needed hotel capacity to support the growth of aviation and tourism in the Sydney basin.

“Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport addresses the demand for contemporary airport accommodation with vibrant, dynamic facilities and a slick service culture,” said Mr East.

“We're thrilled to partner with Sydney Airport on this project, which is a win for the economic growth of Sydney.”

The eight-storey landmark building is the newest hotel at Sydney Airport and Sydney's third on-airport hotel.

Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather said the opening of the new hotel so close to terminals would further improve the customer experience for airport visitors.

“We're delighted to celebrate the opening of this fantastic hotel, providing even more value and choice for our customers – whether they want a convenient place to stay close to the airport or an easy commute to the CBD,” said Ms Mather.

“Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport helps meet the need for additional hotel accommodation as we continue to experience strong passenger growth.”

NSW Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall congratulated Mantra Group on today's hotel opening and their commitment and contribution to the State's multi-billion dollar tourism economy.

“With record numbers flying into Sydney, new hotel openings such as the Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport provide visitors to NSW with greater choices in accommodation location, style and price point,” said Mr Marshall.

“New hotels in key precincts play a critical role in promoting a vibrant visitor economy while meeting the needs of growing visitor numbers to Sydney, attracting first-time and returning domestic and international travellers.

“I also know that this hotel will be warmly welcomed by people living in rural and regional areas who are often after a nearby quality hotel to stopover for a night before having to fly out again the next day.”

Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport is ideally suited for business and leisure travellers looking for conveniently-located accommodation close to the airport and terminals, while still only being 8km from the CBD.

The striking new-build hotel features 136 modern studio rooms, with many overlooking Sydney Airport's runways, an integrated reception and lobby with a 24/7 atmosphere and service, express check-out, internet kiosk and relaxed dining with a bold provincial menu of the finest regional NSW beef and sustainably-sourced local seafood, served with local draught beer, wines and handcrafted cocktails.

Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport is located at 3 Ross Smith Avenue, just a short distance from Sydney Airport's T2 and T3 domestic terminals.

There is an opening special of $159* per night in a Studio King room including 1GB of internet access daily, a welcome drink voucher on arrival and room upgrade (subject to availability).

For bookings or further information, visit or call 1300 987 603.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Islands of Tahiti receives first UNESCO World Heritage listing


Just when you think The Islands of Tahiti couldn't possibly get any more special, that's precisely what happens. After a long and committed campaign, the Taputapuatea marae (sacred site) on the island of Raiatea was officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site earlier this month*.  

World Heritage Sites are those places deemed to be of special cultural or physical significance, and the Taputapuatea marae is most certainly both. An ancient sacred site where traditional ceremonies were performed, the site features hundreds of stones arranged by Polynesian ancestors – stones that are believed to hold Mana, a source of power and spiritual strength. The marae also marks the first cultural site to be recognized by UNESCO within French Polynesia.

The home of the marae, Raiatea, is just a 45-minute flight from Papeete, Raiatea is the second largest economic centre of The Islands of Tahiti and an important nautical base. The island is expected to benefit from the World Heritage listing through attracting additional visitors looking for travel opportunities that offer authentic historical and cultural experiences. A destination known for its idyllic landscapes, warm and welcoming people, and a vibrant culture, Raiatea is also already a favoured destination for hikers in particular. With a rugged coastline and mountains reaching as high as 1000 metres, the island's scenic hiking trails offer an abundance of opportunity to discover the island's incredible ancient civilization - which now includes a site of recognized international significance.

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Intrepid Travel Doubles Environmental Contribution on U.S. tours in Response to Paris Accord


In the wake of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Intrepid Travel, one of the largest carbon neutral travel companies in the world, has announced it will double its carbon offset contribution this year on all tours run in the United States. The global tour operator has cited that travel companies, especially those operating in the U.S., must still have a stated commitment to doing right by the environment despite the lack of government intervention.

Doubling their commitment means Intrepid will offset approximately 3,000 additional tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2017. This is on behalf of over 2,500 travellers from Australia, Canada, the UK and beyond travelling across 68 tours operating in the United States. These investments will go towards global energy projects as well VCS accredited renewable projects in the U.S. such as the Dempsey Ridge Wind Farm project in Oklahoma.

“We can no longer wait for our Government leaders to take action on climate change,” says Brett Mitchell, Regional Director - Asia Pacific at Intrepid Travel. “As an Aussie company operating in 120 countries across the world, we have a responsibility to actively seek out ways to minimise our environmental footprint. Offsetting allows us to make a postivie contribution while working towards long-term emission reduction strategies.”

As a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), Intrepid Travel has also released its UNGC report for 2016. The report highlights Intrepid Travel's commitment to support public accountability in environmental stewardship and highlights how it has reached the following milestones:
  • Carbon neutral since 2010
  • 42,000+ tonnes of carbon offset globally in 2016
  • $1.1 million USD invested into renewable energy projects since 2010
  • 50,000 trees planted in Australia, Kenya & Thailand
To learn about Intrepid’s environmental policy visit

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Whales welcomed at North Stradbroke Island


Whales 'blow' tourism numbers skywards as North Stradbroke Island prepares for its biggest-ever "Welcome the Whales" festival – 29/30 July

 North Stradbroke Island – in Brisbane's Moreton Bay area – is looking to its best-ever winter season on the back of an early surge in the migration of humpback whales up the Queensland coast. The migration has gained world attention for the return of all-white humpback whale, Migaloo, this season.

North Straddie – as the island is known locally – is one of the premier locations to experience the whale migration, as they pass very close to the island and can be viewed easily from Point Lookout, along with dolphins riding the waves, and turtles and manta rays cruising through the waters.

The importance of whales to Indigenous Australians is recognised in the annual Quandamooka Festival, with this year's Yura Yalingbila (Welcome the Whales) comprising a weekend of traditional ceremonies, music, dance, interpretive tours – and the first ever Quandamooka Festival Gala Dinner.

The Yura Yalingbila weekend will be held on Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July, starting with the official welcoming ceremony and festival on Saturday 29 July (11am – 3pm) at Headland Park at Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island.

The Festival is free to enter and will include traditional dance, arts, weaving, workshops, kids activities, food stalls, sand art and live music by Neil Murray (co-composer of My Island Home) and local female duo Blacksalt.

This year, for the first time, the Yura Yalingbila weekend will include the first-ever Quandamooka Festival Gala Dinner. A pop-up dining venue will be established for all-day dining on Saturday 29 July in a breathtaking cliff-top position at Point Lookout where fine dining will be complemented by views of humpbacks breaching and passing by the headland.

Breakfast and lunch will be served, with the award-winning team from Whales Way Restaurant providing the on-site catering.

The bookings-only Gala Dinner will begin at five to watch the whales as the sun sets, with sparkling wine and canapés served on arrival and on sunset there will be a performance of traditional dances of the land, sea and ancient Quandamooka Aboriginal culture on the cliff top stage. A string quartet will entertain as diners enjoy a three course Australian traditional bush food inspired meal accompanied by quality wines. Limited places at the Gala Dinner are available for $120 a head.

Whale Watch Cultural Tours will offer whale watch tours like no other. Experienced Quandamooka tour guide Matt Burns (aka 'Quandamooka Man') will conduct tours throughout the whale season to give visitors to North Straddie a unique insight into the local history and science of whales passing up the Quandamooka Coast during guided walks. Along the way, Matt gives an Indigenous interpretation of the whale migration, as well as insights into the local area, its history, and the bush tucker and medicine plants that grow naturally.  

The whale focus continues with the 'Marine Mammal Forum: Sharing Scientific and Traditional Knowledge' on Monday 31 July organised by the University of Queensland at the Moreton Bay Research Station at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island. The free open forum between 9am – 3pm will consist of  talks from both researchers and traditional owners over three sessions covering Whales, Dolphins and Dugongs.

Quandamooka Festival curator Avril Quaill said the weekend would celebrate everything that made the Quandamooka Coast region such a remarkable destination: "Yura Yalingbilla is a key event of the festival. We come together with the broader community to share culture and celebrate the majestic creatures that inhabit Quandamooka waters," she said.


A full range of accommodation options – camping, 'Flash Camping' and cabins – at a range of sires around North Stradbroke Island are available through Straddie Camping -

Full details and updates are available at and

Quandamooka Festival Indigenous / Aboriginal Culture ...
Yura! Welcome to the Quandamooka Festival 2017. The Quandamooka Festival – celebrating culture, country & people – is an annual three month calendar of events ...

Wanda Jin Hotspring Hotel Danzhai Grand Opening in Danzhai

Wanda Jin Hotspring Hotel Danzhai, the first hotel that highlights the essence of intangible cultural heritage under Wanda Hotels & Resorts, opened grandly amid a festive atmosphere with distinct features of the Miao ethnic group.

Wanda Jin Hotspring Hotel Danzhai, located in the Wanda Danzhai Tourism Town of Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, is about a two-hour drive from Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou Province. Featuring the design concept of "nestling below the mountains and wandering through the forests", the hotel combines the characteristics of a Chinese-style resort with Miao village. The buildings are well arranged with connected corridors, presenting a unique layout.

The hotel has a total of 95 rooms and suites featuring Miao elements, fully equipped with advanced facilities. The inclusive "Yunfu" Restaurant offers both Chinese and Western delicacies, and the private dining rooms mainly serve local specialties supplemented with selected Guangdong, Yunnan and Sichuan dishes as well as seafood, providing guests with a nutritionally balanced gourmet experience. Also, the well-equipped gym and "Yun Qin", the hotspring Spa can help guests ease up and relax during their trip.

In addition to the most advanced and complete service facilities in the area, the hotel is located in the Wanda Danzhai Tourism Town, which has been awarded as the "Best International Commercial & Special Project" at the 54th Annual Gold Nugget Awards by PCBC in the U.S. Featuring intangible cultural heritage and ethnic customs.

Wanda Danzhai Tourism Town mainly comprises landscape features such as the largest waterwheel in the Guinness World Records, a sea of beautiful flowers, three intangible cultural heritage experience yards (papermaking, batik and birdcage), three ethnic blocks and four folklore squares. It also has a Wanda Cinema and four blocks of folk boutiques, dining choices, local specialties and recreational water feature. Combining "food, lodging, transportation, tourism, shopping, entertainment and education", it is set to become a tourist and transportation hub in Qiandongnan Prefecture. The official debut of Wanda Jin Hotspring Hotel Danzhai sets a benchmark for international hotel services in the area. Mr. IIja Poepper, Vice President of Wanda Hotels & Resorts, said. "By following the hotel management philosophy of combining inherited local traditions and international elements, Wanda Jin Hotspring Hotel Danzhai will provide guests from all over the world with many 'Colorful Moments' during their stay."

SOURCE:Wanda Hotels & Resorts

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