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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Culinary Heavyweights Throw Support Behind Taste Festival



Three of Australia's culinary icons have thrown their weight behind this year's Taste Festival, Tasmania's largest event, to be held on Hobart's waterfront from December 28-January 3.

Tetsuya Wakuda and Leo Schofield, AM, along with well-known Australian Master of Wine Andrew Corrigan, will all be involved in this year's event.

Tetsuya will officially open the Festival on December 28. Leo will be Chief Judge for the Taste Festival Food Awards on December 28 and will also present a talk at the Taste Theatre at 2.30pm on the emergence of a high-quality restaurant scene in Tasmania to match the high quality of our produce. Andrew will also present at the Taste Theatre and be Chief Judge for the Wine Awards.

"The rapidly growing awareness of the superb quality of Tasmanian produce, coupled with the emergence of a new generation of local chefs, is setting this state on the high road to national and international eminence," Mr Schofield said. "First the food, then the creative cooks who understand how to handle it, now the brilliantly refurbished Princes Wharf as an exciting new venue for the much loved Taste Festival. With these three critical elements in place, Tasmania's landmark food expo is set to continue as the foremost showcase for fine food and fine cuisine in the country."

The Taste Festival will return to its roots this year with a renewed focus on the very best in Tasmanian food wine, beers and other great local products. The iconic Taste Plate is again a feature of the event with every food stallholder previewing their menu on a tasting plate costing $7.50 or less.

In addition, new initiatives such as The Brasserie, Taste Theatre and Red Hat Tours will showcase Tasmania's finest producers, winemakers, brewers and chefs.

A new program of activities has been introduced to entice Festival participants to not only sample some of the best food, wine, beer and beverages in Tasmania but also provides the opportunity to learn about the journey from paddock to plate.

The program includes:
- A new Taste Theatre for food and wine programs, lectures and guided tastings;
- A new program of "Red Hat" small- group tours of the Taste, focusing on particular subjects such as sparkling wine, aquaculture etc;
- A new "Brasserie" featuring Tasmania's burgeoning craft brewing and cider making industry along with matched foods;
- A renewed focus on Tasmanian provenance and new products;
- A new Retail Alley where visitors can buy Tasmanian products;
- A new Cafe Precinct where people can meet friends at serviced tables for great coffee and pastries.

For seven days and nights, Hobart's waterfront will again be transformed into a display of colour and life as the Taste Festival ignites the historic Sullivans Cove precinct: showcasing the uniqueness and diversity of Tasmania's produce and gourmet food and wine to approximately 250,000 people.

This year's Festival's theme, Sensational Taste, encourages festival goers to engage the senses by sampling the best of our sensational Tasmanian produce, complimented by a mix of interesting cultural food experiences.

The Taste Festival invites the celebration of our community and rich heritage while contributing to increasingly sophisticated, and forever surprising, contemporary food culture.

The Taste Festival is proudly produced and presented by the Hobart City Council, the aim of which is to present a unique and memorable festival that showcases some of the best food and beverages Tasmania has to offer, while providing opportunities for the whole community to meet with friends and family and celebrate the essence of Summer in Hobart, in a fun and safe environment.

Families and children will be well catered for this year at the Woolworths Fresh Food Kids in the Park on Hobart's Parliament House Lawns, an alcohol free area offering plenty of activities. Daily programming includes a dedicated area for sporting activities and games, family outdoor board games, cooking classes for children, jumping castles and children's rides, various workshops, face painting, buskers, performers, and other family entertainment.

With stage one of renovations to the waterfront venue completed prior to the Taste Festival (including the installation of a stunning new lighting structure); the new forecourt area will be transformed into a vibrant, welcoming entrance and information hub with clear signage to guide patrons throughout the Festival site.

The Forecourt Stage will become the Festival focal point for stage-based acts and busker performances throughout the day. Each evening, the Forecourt Stage will transform into a popular area to dance the night away with friends.

An exciting line up of entertainment will again be a Festival highlight, with a focus on showcasing local Tasmanian talent. An increase in roving performers will also entertain the crowds around the venue.

For further details visit www.tastefestival.com.au

Monday, December 20, 2010

C Grill Launches New Website



C Grill Restaurant today announced the launch of its new website at http://www.cgrill.com.au.

"Our new site plays a very important role in communicating not only with our existing guests, but also engaging our future guests," says Adrian Teh, Hotel Manager for Chifley Hotel Wollongong. "It was important to design and build a best-in-class restaurant website that tells our story and presents our brand through relevant, capturing content and the use of bold, vibrant food photography that really captures the "WOW" experience of dining at CGrill."

Features of the restaurant's new interactive multimedia website include:
> Multimedia gallery
> Downloadable menus
> Social media connectivity
> What's On Section

C Grill, Wollongong's latest addition to the dining scene sits within the brand new Chifley Hotel on Harbour Street and is now open to guests and public alike.

Diners can appreciate a sophisticated yet relaxed dining ambience created by a mix of warm tones, natural materials and finishes.

Flooded with natural light during the day and filled with soft candlelight at night, C Grill will offer the ideal combination of a stylish and inviting dining room, accomplished food and perceptive service. A private dining room is also available for business dinners or special occasions.

Taking inspiration from the informal style of the world's most famous grill restaurants, C Grill's menu is specifically developed to highlight the freshest and finest seasonal ingredients available throughout Australia. Highlights from Executive Chef Peter Wasbourne's simple yet thoughtful menu are the signature prime cuts of beef charred to perfection, as well as starters, salads, plates to share and desserts.

About C Grill - C Grill, located at 60-62 Harbour St in Wollongong, Australia serves classic grill style cuisine. The restaurant is open for breakfast, from Monday through Friday, 6:30-9:30am and dinner from - 10pm, Tuesday through Saturday. Street parking is available.

All major cards accepted. For more information, please visit www.cgrill.com.au or contact C Grill at +61 2 4201 2111 or email reservations@cgrill.com.au.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Website and Refreshed Brand For Travel.com.au



travel.com.au has started rolling out their new-look website this week, together with a refreshed brand.

The new site features enhanced user capabilities, simpler site navigation, faster search results and more travel deals, dramatically improving the user experience.

Lisa Ferrari, General Manager - Brand for travel.com.au says, "the new site brings together travel.com.au's complete product offering of flights, holidays, hotels, cruise, tours, car hire, insurance and travel guides in an easier to use format. It also features the highly successful Domestic and Trans-Tasman booking engine released earlier this year, allowing users to quickly search and compare flights from multi-carriers on one screen."

As well as the improved functionality to the site, travel.com.au has launched a new logo, tagline and look and feel.

"We wanted to create a new look that encapsulates the essence of the travel.com.au brand personality. The refreshed logo is fresh and inspiring whilst focusing strongly on our name. A new tagline has been added - one destination, endless possibilities - which sums up the strength of the travel.com.au product offering." Ferrari added.

Ferrari ends, "After thirteen years in the travel game, we are thrilled with the site we've launched this week. We are confident that these improvements will lead to an even greater travel experience for our customers".

ABOUT TRAVEL.COM.AU
travel.com.au was established in 1997 and is one of Australia's most experienced online travel companies. The brand offers customers the best of both worlds when it comes to booking travel - the flexibility of booking online 24 hours a day or with a passionate and experienced Travel Expert over the phone. With the greatest deals on international and domestic flights, holidays, hotels, tours, cruise, travel insurance and car hire, travel.com.au is one destination with endless possibilities.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stamford Reaches First Milestone with Earthwatch Initiative


Stamford Hotels and Resorts are delighted to announce they have raised over $10,000 for Earthwatch as part of their 'Grow a Greener Future' program.

Stamford launched their first environmental campaign 'Grow Green' in 2005 and took it to the next level earlier this year with the development of 'Grow a Greener Future', joining forces with Earthwatch as an ongoing commitment to the continued reduction of energy usage within all of their properties.

The program is offered to all guests and encourages them to reuse their towels and reduce the linen change if they are staying for two nights or more. Guests who take up this offer receive a $10 credit on their bill and Stamford donates $2 to Earthwatch for each day the option is adopted.

Stamford's Chief Operating Officer Mr. Thomas Ong says, "Stamford Hotels and Resorts are 100% committed to 'Grow a Greener Future' and we are thrilled to have reached over $10,000 in donations. As a hotel group, we have identified several ways to decrease our carbon footprint without affecting our high levels of service. We look forward to contributing even more as we continue our work with Earthwatch."

For further information about Stamford Hotels and Resorts' Grow a Greener Future program, please visit http://www.stamford.com.au/page.asp?3653=711780&e_page=40600

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

YTL Corporation expands Japanese portfolio with master plan to develop Hokkaido's Niseko Village into an iconic all-seasons destination


Hokkaido, 14 December 2010: YTL Corporation announces its master plan to re-energise the 460-hectare Niseko Village development in Hokkaido. Targeting affluent individuals, Niseko Village will be transformed into an all-seasons mountain resort offering exclusive hotels, luxury homes, ski-in ski-out estates and exclusive shopping and dining, all with spectacular views of Mount Yotei (Ezo Fuji, the Mount Fuji of northern Japan). The first Asian non-Japanese company to be listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, YTL Corporation's investments in Japan include seven prime commercial properties in Tokyo such as Ebisu Fort, Daikanyama and Harajyuku Secondo, which were acquired by YTL subsidiary, Starhill Global REIT, in 2007.

Master plan integrates nature with culture.
In line with YTL's global design philosophy to preserve local culture and enhance the natural beauty of the environment in every development, the Niseko Village master plan will recreate the rustic atmosphere of a traditional Japanese town in a natural alpine setting on Mount Annupuri. Designed by the award-winning, international HOK Group, Niseko Village will be a luxurious mountain retreat boasting two hotels, a world-class golf course, private villas, luxury condominiums, shopping, dining, and wellness facilities from spas to onsens. Each individual development will incorporate traditional elements of local culture, providing visitors with a holistic Japanese experience.

'YTL Corporation first entered the Japanese market in 1996 with its listing on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and today we are proud to develop Niseko Village as our first venture outside Tokyo. I believe that YTL's master plan is testament to our continued confidence in and commitment to the country. As well as bringing on board the best talent from across Japan and the world to plan and design the town, we also want to engage local communities throughout every stage of the development. We aim to establish Niseko Village as the 'Aspen of the East' by bringing world-class ski facilities, infrastructure, attractions and resort properties to visitors and residents. The re-energised Niseko Village will be comprehensively planned, setting us apart from many resort destinations in Japan,' said Tan Sri Dato (Dr.) Francis Yeoh, Managing Director of YTL Corporation.

Hinode Hill - First residential property development in Niseko Village
Tapping into the growing trend of well-heeled international home buyers investing in vacation properties around the world, YTL Corporation has named its first residential project in Niseko Village, 'Hinode Hill'. This premium development of 125 luxuriously furnished apartments, with panoramic views of Mt. Yotei, will also be fully serviced by YTL Hotels.

Designed by award-winning Japanese architecture firm Tokyu Architects & Engineering Inc, along with world-renowned Japanese interior designer Yukio Hashimoto, and landscape designer Hiromitsu Sato, each apartment blends modern contemporary style with refined Japanese aesthetics. When completed, Hinode Hill will be one of the most luxurious serviced residences in the area. The name is derived from 'Hinode', Japanese for 'Sunrise', symbolic of the dawn of a new beginning for Niseko Village.

The development has a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, and premium penthouses with private onsens. Residents will enjoy lush gardens, ski-in ski-out facilities, and rooftop onsens, a first for residences in this area. Homeowners will also benefit from YTL Hotel's established international marketing network to lease out the apartments to vacationers visiting Niseko Village.
'Located on one of Asia's 'perfect powder' spots, Hinode Hill offers a holiday home away from home. It will be the first of many residential developments supporting the township. With the master plan for Niseko Village due to be completed within the next five to 10 years, Hinode Hill homeowners will enjoy a strong first-mover advantage in significant investment returns as we commence the development of further residential and commercial properties in the area,' said Kemmy Tan, Director of YTL Singapore.

Green Leaf Niseko Village Hotel Relaunched With A Wide Range Of Winter Activities
Newly-transformed by award-winning, New York-based firm, Champalimaud Design, the latest offering from YTL Hotels is the art-inspired Green Leaf Niseko Village hotel - a charming, 200-room eclectic retreat for both ski lovers and those wishing to experience snow and winter R&R for the first time. An excellent range of R&R options include a traditional, outdoor onsen and a spa with a menu for all the family including children. Access to Asia's perfect powder alpine terrain is on your door-step with convenient ski-in and ski-out facilities.

Complementing the Green Leaf hotel in Niseko Village is the 500-room Hilton Hotel nearby, also owned by YTL Hotels, and right next to the Niseko Ski Gondola providing direct access to the top of Mount Annupuri, 1,000m above sea level. With both hotels ideally located at the base of Mount Annupuri and adjacent to two 18-hole golf courses - one of which was designed by Arnold Palmer − an all-season equestrian centre and a 23-court tennis complex, the action never stops in Niseko Village. For summer, there's a host of exciting activities including white-water rafting and scenic flights in a hot-air balloon. All this contribute to making Niseko Village an ideal resort destination for all-season, all-family enjoyment. 'At Niseko Village, a vacation will include a host of exciting adventure activities for snow lovers and summer visitors,' said James McBride, President, YTL Hotels. 'Ultimately, YTL Hotels' vision and investment will turn this spectacularly beautiful region into a mountain resort destination that can rival anything Europe or the US has to offer today or tomorrow,' he added.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Event to Light Up Canberra's Autumn Nights



A major new annual event will showcase Canberra in a whole new light and provide more reasons to visit the nation's capital during autumn.

Enlighten: See Canberra in a whole new light was launched today by ACT Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Andrew Barr, and will premiere in March 2011 to coincide with the month-long Canberra Festival.

"Enlighten is an exciting new event that will be held over four nights on 11, 12, 18 and 19 March 2011, and will involve after-hour activities at national attractions, amazing architectural lighting and a vibrant event hub with headline acts against the stunning backdrop of Lake Burley Griffin," Australian Capital Tourism General Manager, Simonne Shepherd said.

"The ticketed event will enhance the festive vibe of Canberra's birthday month with an exciting program highlighted by our national attraction partners offering a unique after-dark experience and outstanding musical acts including concerts by international artists, George Benson, Chris Isaak and Frankie Valli.

Performing exclusively at Enlighten, George Benson expressed excitement about his involvement in the event.
"I'm thrilled to be coming to Australia with my band to open the very first Enlighten festival in Canberra in March. I love Australia and I can't wait to get back," Mr Benson said.

"But the excitement doesn't end there," said Ms Shepherd. "We will be announcing another major musical act in early 2011, so stay tuned."
National attractions participating in the 2011 Enlighten event include the National Gallery of Australia, Parliament House and the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

"Visitors will see the capital in a whole new light as the stunning foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin is transformed into a festive hub and national attractions come to life with spectacularly lit facades and special one-off activities," Ms Shepherd said.

"Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the Canberra region. The change of season is heralded not only by the fiery colours of the deciduous trees, but by the iconic Canberra Balloon Fiesta and a month long celebration of Canberra's birthday - the Canberra Festival.

"This event promises to bring a new dimension to Canberra's birthday celebrations, enhancing the vibrancy of Canberra during autumn by creating a 'city in festival' and showcasing the fantastic experiences we have here."

Enlighten tickets will be on sale this week through Ticketek at www.ticketek.com.au or by calling 13 28 49. For more information visit www.enlightencanberra.com

Peru's Luxury Tourism to Grow in 2011 Driven by New Investments and Increased Airline Routes


Peru is experiencing a growth in luxury tourism with new hotels, ecological resorts and gourmet restaurants opening in 2011 in key tourist locations. These investments are being driven by an increase in demand for luxury travel in the country, and new airline routes opening. 2011 will also be a bumper year for the country, which will be celebrating the centenary of the Rediscovery of Machu Picchu by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham in July.

Promperu's coordinator for Asia Pacific Rosana Guinea says that, although adventurous travellers are key to their market, there has been an increase in higher yield travellers in recent years and both markets are being buoyed by increased air capacity.

"Both the range and quality of the services provided within the tourism industry in Peru have improved dramatically in recent years. Tourists are spending more money whilst in Peru and the visitor profile is changing which is driving the demand for more luxury accommodation and facilities," states Rosana Guinea.

At the same time, Lima is becoming more accessible with increased flight connections from around the world allowing more visitors to enter the country. Looking to capitalise on this increased capacity and demand for luxury, Peru is welcoming investments from international and domestic companies wishing to expand and open new restaurants and hotels.

From January 2011, travellers from Australia to Peru will have faster and easier journeys with LAN Airlines introducing new nonstop flights from Santiago de Chile to Peru's capital Lima. Other new code-share arrangements with airlines such as Cathay Pacific are also including Lima in their network, further enhancing connections.

Peru is the second most attractive country for foreign investment in the region for major South American companies, according to a survey on business climate conducted in August 2010 by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Recent hotel investments include major international brands such as Westin which is opening the Westin Lima in 2011. This first Westin in Peru will be a very modern hotel and the tallest building in Lima with a spa, convention space and luxurious suites.

Cusco and its surrounding region is also seeing an increased investment in the luxury sector and 2011 sees the opening of with a new Aranwa Hotel, a JV Marriot Hotel, and the expansion of the Orient Express owned Monasterio Hotel.

The last five years has already seen a dramatic rise in boutique and luxury hotels around Cusco due with new openings including the Hotel Casa Cartagena, the Andean Wings, the Rio Sagrado in Urubamba, Aranwa in Urubamba, the new Luxury Collection Tambo del Inka Hotel from Libertador Hotels, and seven new hotels in the Casa Andina group.

The 'eco market' is another key area for investment with resorts such as the San Agustin Paracas opening by 2012 on the south coast. This new resort, located 300 Km south of Lima and close to the World Heritage Listed Nazca Lines, will be one of the most modern ecological resorts and multifunctional hotels in the country. The project includes 120 rooms in two buildings and will be powered by solar energy.

2011 is not only seeing an evolving business sector but also celebrations for the centenary of the rediscovering of Machu Picchu in July. It will include the exciting return of thousands of Inca Artifacts excavated by Hiram Bingham and taken to Yale University and kept there for the last 100 years. These unique artifacts will be housed in Cusco at a dedicated museum and research centre.

For more information on Peru, please visit www.peru.info

Friday, December 10, 2010

South Australia: International Tourist Expenditure Up 19%



South Australia's appeal as a world-class tourism destination continues to grow with international tourist expenditure up 19 per cent, compared to a national decline of five per cent.

Minister for Tourism John Rau said the latest International Visitor Survey (IVS) results released by Tourism Research Australia (TRA) are great news for South Australia's economy.

"This helps edge the State's tourism industry closer to becoming a $6.3 billion earner by 2014, as outlined in the South Australian Tourism Plan 2009-2014," Mr Rau said.

"South Australia welcomed 364,000 international visitors who stayed 8,602,000 nights during the 12 months ending September 2010. This represents a three per cent increase in visitor numbers and
20 per cent increase in visitor nights on the previous 12 month period.

"Business, education, employment and visiting friends and relatives nights contributed to the increase in overall visitor nights, but SA also recorded a good lift in tourist nights.

"Of the total visitors, 208,000 were tourists who spent 2,053,000 nights in South Australia, representing an increase of nine per cent in tourist nights compared to the previous 12-month period, demonstrating that South Australia's tourism offering is resonating with international holiday-makers.

"Most significantly, these tourists spent $196 million, representing a 19 per cent increase on the previous period, signifying the valuable contribution international tourists make to South Australia's economy.

"Building on these results, Malaysia Airlines' recent announcement to increase its number of weekly Adelaide-Kuala Lumpur flights from four to six in March next year will add a further 29,000 seats each
year, giving us a great opportunity to bring more visitors to our State from target markets including Europe, India, China, and Malaysia.

"Our world-class events season will continue to act as a hook for visitors and will kick off next month with the Santos Tour Down Under, which in 2010 attracted nearly 40,000 visitors from interstate and overseas and provided a $41.5 million boost to the State's economy.

"The calibre of cyclists taking part in 2011 event is sure to attract plenty of interest with both locals and visitors, and will include Lance Armstrong who has announced his appearance at the 2011 event will be his last professional race on international soil.

"We will continue to deliver on key targets within the South Australian Tourism Plan 2009-2014 including strategic marketing activities, further development of our major events calendar and ongoing work with key airline partners to further open up South Australia to more international tourists in the future."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Preferred Hotel Group Projects Powerful Worldwide Travel Surge Ahead


When the first wave of America's baby boomers turn 65 on January 1, 2011, they will represent a monumental question for the travel industry: How will this healthiest, wealthiest and most active senior generation in history behave? That was exactly the question posed by Preferred Hotel Group™.

"The answer is extremely encouraging," says Lindsey Ueberroth, President of Preferred Hotel Group. "Unlike their parents' generation, baby boomers don't consider themselves 'old' at 65," she said. "Our findings show that just the opposite is true. The Boomer generation is more physically active than any in history. They are veteran travelers. And now, with more time available as they reach traditional retirement age, they say they are going to intensify their pursuit of travel, new experiences and adventure."

Some of the findings are surprising: boomers constitute almost one-half (47%) of active American leisure travelers. Two-thirds (66%) have taken a leisure trip to celebrate a life event like an anniversary or birthday. Other findings are more subtle: boomers are more likely to travel as a couple and, since 40% are grandparents, more likely to travel in multi-generational trips. More than two-thirds (68%) have a valid passport.

Ueberroth presented these findings December 7, in Cannes, at the International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM), the leading annual business-to-business event for the global luxury travel community. Preferred Hotel Group teamed up with Ypartnership, a leading research company in the travel, leisure and lifestyle category, to study the behaviors of more than 2,500 adult travelers. The specific boomer generation data was derived from a subset of 1,185.

The study findings of this seemingly insatiable generation include:
* Boomers want it all - former luxuries are now considered necessities, including travel and fine dining.
* Family legacy is key - concerned about legacy, boomers will amp up their pursuit of multi-generational travel. Four in 10 of all boomers are now grandparents. Spending time with loved ones matters.
* Online rules - this is a group that researches everything in-depth on the Internet and makes buying decisions online - including booking travel.
* Savvy at social media - yes, they have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. And they use them.
* They want to take their travel experiences to the next level - collectively, baby boomers are already world travelers. They backpacked through Europe as teens and have trotted the globe since. They now want more.
* Aspirational, experiential, sustainable, interactive, thematic - these are the types of travel that appeal to this group. No bus tours for this crowd. Instead, boomers seek self-fulfillment, a connection to nature, authentic world cultures and active involvement with every travel experience.
* They are all foodies - whether they are eating as locavores in Thailand or harvesting grapes in France, culinary tourism scores off the charts.
* Comfort meets adventure - they want both. Zip lining over a forest canopy and trekking by day; fine dining and a comfortable bed by night is the formula that works for them.

Ueberroth is highly optimistic. "There are 77 million boomers. Every day for the next 19 years, more than 11,000 boomers will celebrate a 65th birthday," Ueberroth said. "Preferred Hotel Group believes that the travel industry is on the verge of a true golden age. The opportunities to serve the boomers are vast. We are going to seek out the boomers. We are going to serve them well and often. And, we are going to share in the growth and prosperity that they will generate. This is a turning point."

In 2011, Preferred Hotel Group will introduce a number of ongoing promotions celebrating boomers' appetite for travel. Beginning in January, a "Happy Birthday Boomer" package will provide compelling incentives for them to engage their newfound freedoms at Preferred Hotel Group members around the world. In addition, an interactive "Bucket List" contest will fulfill a once-in-a-lifetime holiday. The company is also developing a targeted advertising campaign focused on these sophisticated, young-at-heart travelers.

Worldhotels Expands in India with Chic New Bangalore Hotel Matthan



Worldhotels, an exclusive collection of the world's most unique independent hotels, has welcomed the new 5-star business hotel Matthan in Bangalore to its growing portfolio of premier hotels in India.

Matthan is the debut hospitality venture of Sterling's Mac Group, which operates over 250 fast-food restaurants across India and west Asia.

Centrally located in India's IT business hub, the deluxe hotel is distinguished by Indo-Asian architecture and its blend of business and leisure market appeal.

The hotel on HAL airport road close to Bangalore's Commercial, Business and IT Parks features 145 Luxury & Deluxe Rooms and four banquet halls accommodating up to 600 guests.

Innovative restaurants and bars include '20 char', a 24-hour coffee shop cum multi-cuisine restaurant, and high energy WAT BAR, in ultra blue hues with cutting edge design.

State-of-the-art room technology includes IP-enabled television and telephones.

Matthan Hotel GM Arya Srini Rao said: "We are delighted to affiliate with Worldhotels in marketing this new hospitality concept in India's IT hub."

Worldhotels Vice President Asia-Pacific Ronald Jegge welcomed Matthan to the leading marketing and distribution network for independent hotels. He said: "Bangalore is a major hub of India's fast-growing economy and establishing our presence there with the prestigious addition of Matthan is a key milestone."

Matthan joins a fast-expanding portfolio of Worldhotels affiliates in India including The Claridges in New Delhi and Surajkund, Asiana Hotel Chennai, Hotel Sahara Star at Mumbai's domestic airport, and The Pride Park Premier, a new four-star business hotel in Delhi's business park district of Gurgaon.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sonaisali Island Resort Welcomes New General Manager



Sonaisali Island Resort is pleased to announce that Nathan Robinson has joined our dynamic Senior Management Team in the capacity of General Manager. Nathan joins Sonaisali after similar roles throughout Australia.

Nathan's previous role before moving to Fiji was as General Manager with Ocean Hotels in the Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia. Prior to that his appointments have been with several resorts and hotels throughout Australia including Hayman Island, Sofitel Gold Coast and Marriott hotels in Brisbane and Gold Coast, as well as time spent within the Aged care industry on the Gold Coast, Australia. Nathan also spent time at the Eco friendly Couran Cove Island Resort just off shore of the Gold Coast, Queensland and the Holiday Inn Darwin, Northern Territory.

Nathan is excited to be able to share his background with the team at Sonaisali and is looking forward to further developing existing policies and practices on the island. Of particular interest is further enhancing Sonaisali's long standing position as being a leading edge resort when it comes to environmental practices.

Commenting on his new role, Nathan has advised "my career has taken me too many places within Australia including island resorts but I am excited about working in Fiji and the opportunity to work with the owners, management and staff at Sonaisali Island Resort and with the ongoing developments within the company. The people are amazing and having visited Fiji before, I love the culture and climate that the country has to offer".

Sonaisali Island Resort's Managing Director, Aaron McGrath, said "I am delighted to welcome Nathan to the Sonaisali Management Team, Nathan brings to this role a wealth of experience and knowledge, which will be a welcome asset to the Resort. I am looking forward to having him lead the team here at Sonaisali".

4 Star Sonaisali Island Resort is a true island escape, a small green dot in the beautiful South Pacific Ocean - yet the world you've left behind is only a 3 minute boat ride across the lagoon from the Main Island and 25mins drive from Nadi International Airport.

Queenstown New Schoolies Haven, as Gold Coast Drops 260%



It is that time of the year again where 1000's of school leavers wind up their schoolies celebrations around the country and abroad. Many students will be left somewhat hung-over, sunburnt, poor and finding their experience of schoolies was somewhat underwhelming. Gold Coast Schoolies numbers were down considerably, with only 19,000 registrations, down from a predicted 50,000, showing a trend towards alternative destinations.

With all the negative publicity surrounding schoolies, school leavers are seeking new and emerging destinations to unwind after 13 years of schooling. One such destination is Queenstown, New Zealand, which offers an alternative for students looking to experience a 'walk on the wild side', without the tag of 'reckless' schoolies.

Lonely Planet claims Queenstown as "the adventure capital of the world" making it a popular destination for school leavers who do not rely on alcohol for a good time, trading adrenaline pulsing Bungy Jumps over a beer.

Celebrations for schoolies have traditionally involved heavy consumption of alcohol. Spokesman for the Australian Drug Foundation, Geoff Munro, said it was disappointing binge drinking remained the greatest problem at schoolies. Anti-Social behaviour stems from the focus on alcohol consumption and lack of activities for schoolies during the daytime. Queenstown provides a host of adventures to stimulate young minds and provide release from the stress of exams.

Schoolies packages include a range of adventure opportunities such as: skydiving, bungy jumping, white water rafting, scenic heli-rides, quad biking, paragliding, canyon swinging, bushwalking and tours such as the Milford Sound boat cruise. With memorable experiences lasting much longer than nightclub black outs, it's easy to see how Queenstown's popularity amongst schoolies is snowballing.

Travel agents specialising in schoolies options are also noticing an increasing trend towards Queenstown with many offering 'schoolies only' packages, packed with adventures every day of the week. Barron Hanson of I Like to Party tours continues to receive positive reactions from their flight and land packages priced under $2000, a bargain for an International schoolies week away.

November is a perfect time for schoolies to experience Queenstown, positioned between the popular winter snow season and summer bike season, allowing schoolies to take full advantage of cheap shoulder season prices and reduced crowds. Not to mention balmy summer weather, making it warm enough to swim in the glacial lakes between adventure activities.

As Northern Australia rapidly loses it shine on the thrill-seeking schoolies crowd, Queenstown's dramatic rise in popularity makes it the ideal place for school leavers chasing a natural high, in a place they not too far from home. Be sure to keep an eye on Queenstown as the next big thing.

THE SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR AIRLINE BAGGAGE FEES


When an airline tries to charge you $500 in baggage fees, don't get mad, get educated!

Do you know the horror of being presented with a $500 excess baggage fee at the airline baggage counter?  That's what LuggageLimits.com founder Luke Dudley experienced at the airport a few years ago on a return trip home while travelling abroad.  His personal experience and other stories like this promoted him to launch a website to help other travellers avoid getting mad at surprise baggage fees.
 
Like so many other airline travellers these days, Luke incurred an astronomical checked baggage fee. However, when this seasoned traveller made the mistake of assuming his checked baggage allowance would be the same as his previous international flight with the same airline, when in fact the baggage allowance was halved, he was asked to pay a fee based on 30kg of his excess baggage; a fee of about $500. An experience like this can ruin a great vacation!
 
Fortunately, Luke made a mad dash to locate his friends who allowed him to arrange shipment of his excess baggage via sea mail and save around $350. Once the anger and feeling of stupidity subsided, what followed this stinging experience was a philosophy of "don't get mad, get educated."
 
Luke embarked on a virtual journey to demystify the airline industry's new multi-billion dollar revenue source that baggage fees have become. Based on the theory that airline baggage policies were made purposely complex, difficult to navigate, and required extensive reading in order to correctly decipher, he built a website that allowed users to find the exact information they required through a simple search.
 
LuggageLimits.com was launched and Luke's site soon grew to incorporate all the different ticket classes and varying baggage policies of 175 airlines. Furthermore, the site is now launching Android and I-phone applications in time to help travellers during the busy December travel season, with slated plans to soon incorporate a 'Baggage Questions' forum in order to further help fellow travellers get the answers to this vital cost saving information.
 
Since the site's inception, Luke has received hundreds of emails with stories of woe similar to his own, some of which that have resulted in unresolved disputes for overcharges by the airlines. Fortunately, many of the emails received by the site are from pro-active travellers that are seeking specialized baggage information. Either way, it pays to be prepared.
 
With hundreds of thousands of passenger flights each day, travellers all over the world are seeking baggage information. With each airline website displaying this information with a different layout, LuggageLimits.com offers a uniform way of presenting these policies.
 
"Airlines count baggage fees as a large share of operating revenue, so these fees are here to stay. The best option for travellers is to be educated about what the airline's baggage fees and weight limits are and plan accordingly," says Luke.  "Fellow travellers, know thy limits!"

 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Strategic Airlines to operate Phuket flights from Brisbane and Melbourne

New Australian carrier Strategic Airlines has just announced new non-stop services to Phuket from both Brisbane and Melbourne, with the operation to commence in Feb 2011 - filling the void left by the withdrawal of V Australia from the Phuket route.

Direct flights from Melbourne to Thailand will commence on 22 Feb, with the move marking the debut of Strategic's Melbourne operations. The Melbourne flights will operate twice a week, each Tue and Fri, using a two-class A330 configured with 274 seats.

Strategic will commence its Brisbane-Phuket flights on 24 Feb 2011, again twice a week operating each Thu and Sun.

Strategic is a full service carrier, with flights including complimentary food, beverages and in-flight entertainment in both classes.

Lead in fares start at just $299 one way including taxes, and as well as being available online will be distributed through travel agents with 5% commission payable. The new services will be available for sale from Wed 24 Nov.

Accorhotels.com Launches new Facebook Services

To make it easier to plan a trip, the Accorhotels.com Facebook page offers useful links, travel solutions and suggested activities for a particular destination on a given date.

Unlike other hotel pages, Accorhotels.com's Facebook page features a unique booking engine. It also focuses on destination-specific content, allowing members to find out the latest news and developments related to an Accor hotel worlwide, such as tourist activities, seasonal events, exhibitions, concerts, shows, popular restaurants and monuments.

Via links to mini Accorhotels.com websites for major European city destinations, travellers can access advice and tips, as well as a travel guide recommending must-see attractions, suggested things to do in a city at a particular period and photos by destination.

The destination-specific content is also available via the accorhotels.com Twitter account.


The Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide 2011

There's great news today for anyone in Sydney or NSW who loves nothing more than heading to the pub for a glass or two of something cold and a delicious, well-priced meal.

The inaugural Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide 2011 is published today, and is set to establish itself as the definitive and indispensible guide to the best pub food throughout the Sydney area and regional NSW.

The book's publication will be complemented by the launch of the Good Pub Food Guide 2011 iPhone app later this month.

To celebrate the publication of the new Guide, the first ever Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide Awards were held last night in Sydney, recognising the most outstanding pub food offerings in a range of categories.

Winner of the Best Overall Award was the Four in Hand in Paddington, a pub that also carried off the Best Pub by Region (City & Suburbs) Award.

(For a full list of categories and Award winners, please see below).

The Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide 2011 is edited by renowned pub aficionado Keith Austin, who, along with a team of dedicated reviewers, spent several months putting together the material to make this Guide a pub-lover's delight.

Commenting on the Guide, Keith said that that the humble hotel is undergoing something of a renaissance, possibly fuelled by the inexorable rise of the so-called gastropub in the UK but also, he believes, by the realization that top-end dining has become prohibitively expensive in recent years.

"Pubs can – and do – serve some great food, and it's about time people realised that," Keith said. "There is a misconception that pubs are all about pie-warmer pies and dodgy sausage rolls but that's no longer the case."

"Our team of 70 reviewers visited more than 550 pubs across NSW – everywhere from Bryon to Dubbo, Wentworth, Eden and beyond – and we encountered everything from wagyu beef to fish so fresh it winked at you from the plate."

Keith said that his review team had to choose from more than 1,600 pubs and hotels across Sydney and NSW.

All the pubs reviewed in The Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide 2011 are scored out of 20, with the lowest score of 12 signifying "not bad" and a score of more than 18 receiving the ultimate "gastro-tastic" accolade.

The Guide also uses a "schooner" ranking – just like the chef's hat and wine glass rankings in the recently-published Good Food Guide 2011 and Good Wine Guide 2011 books and apps.

Eight pubs around Sydney, Newcastle and regional NSW scored the top possible ranking of three schooners, while nine pubs scored two schooners and an impressive 30 pubs received a one "raise a glass of the good stuff" schooner rank.

As well as the reviews, The Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide 2011 features handy "The Best" sections, including the best beer lists, the best family-friendly pubs, the best views – even the best chips!

"This being the first Good Pub Food Guide we can't claim to be omniscient, and there will be places serving great food which we haven't yet discovered," Keith said, adding that readers are warmly invited to suggest pubs for future reviews by contacting him at goodpubfoodguide@gmail.com or by posting suggestions on the Good Food Guide Facebook page (www.facebook.com/goodfoodguide).

"Publicans are beginning to realise that the key to a great pub is exceptional pub grub. And if you want to know where to find it, this is the book for you. Certainly there are a few even I haven't managed to get round to yet so maybe I'll see you there."

The Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide 2011 is on sale from Tuesday, December 7 at bookstores, newsagents and online at www.smhshop.com.au, or by calling The Sydney Morning Herald  on 1300 656 059. Recommended retail price is $24.95.

The Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide 2011 iPhone app is available soon from the iTunes store for $9.99.
THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD GOOD PUB FOOD GUIDE AWARDS 2011

Ø  Best Overall
The Four In Hand, Paddington

Ø  Best pub by region (City & suburbs)
The Four In Hand, Paddington

Ø  Best pub by region (Newcastle & surrounds)
Carrington Place, Newcastle

Ø  Best pub by region (Country)
Mount Kembla Village Hotel, Mount Kembla

Ø  Best family friendly
Appin Hotel, Appin

Ø  Best location
The Newport Arms, Newport

Ø  Best waterfront location
The Smithtown Riverview Hotel, Smithtown

Ø  Best beer garden
Burrawang Village Hotel, Burrawang

Ø  Best service (individual)
Danielle Jukes at The Royal Hotel, Moree

Ø  Best service (team)
Harwood Hotel, Harwood

Ø  Most promising
Simon Sim at the Botany Bay Hotel

Ø  Best beer list
The Local Taphouse, Darlinghurst

Ø  Best use of local produce
Mount Kembla Village Hotel, Mount Kembla

Ø  Best value for money
The Shakespeare Hotel, Surry Hills

Ø  Best community involvement
The Heads Hotel Motel, Shoalhaven Heads

About the editor:

Keith Austin is a pub lover of old and a former restaurant reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald. He has also edited two cookbooks (Blokes and Seafood). British by birth and Australian by choice, Keith sipped his first beer at the tender age of six or seven — a glass of old-fashioned bottled Guinness passed surreptitiously out of the door of the local boozer in East London by his paternal grandmother, who said it would do him good. And so far she's been right. Drinking and eating in pubs has been a pastime of Keith's ever since, so when he was approached to edit The Sydney Morning Herald Good Pub Food Guide, his only question was 'when and where do I start?


Read and enjoy Keith's blog: SCOFF

Monday, December 6, 2010

94-Suite Hansar Bangkok to Open 4 January 2011



Following the debut of its first property in Thailand in July; the 74 room Hansar Samui, the stunning 94-suite luxury hotel, Hansar Bangkok, will open its doors on 4 January, 2011.

Located in upmarket Rajdamri Road, the luxurious Hansar Bangkok is surrounded by high end properties, elegant shopping areas and the lush greenery of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club.

Hansar Bangkok is a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ (SLH) and is part of Hansar Hotels and Resorts which recently opened Hansar Samui, a 74 room beachfront resort on the Island of Samui.

Hallmarks of Hansar
Hansar Bangkok presents a unique offering to its valued guests through incorporating the following hallmarks from the core of its brand philosophy into each and every guest experience.

These include the heart of Hansar, where gracious, sincere Thai hospitality ensures that every guest receives highly personalized individual service.

Comprising just 94 suites, Hansar Bangkok is small, enabling it to offer a boutique experience, yet rooms are extremely large. The lead in Studio Suite offers an impressive 60 square meters of extremely spacious ergonomic design and intuitive workspace.

Understanding the needs of its customers, Hansar places particular emphasis on value in its pricing structure, whether for accommodation, food and beverage, spa, meetings or events. This enables them to compete most favorably in a highly competitive marketplace, while at the same time offering a total International 5-star quality experience both in facilities and
service.

All-suite Luxe
Expansive spaces and sleek contemporary design are combined with a hint of surprise and artistic delight. All suites feature free wi-fi, flatscreen TVs, DVD players and iPod docking stations, blissful king-sized plus beds, rainshowers and free-standing terrazzo bathtubs.

Design
Unrivalled in architectural elegance and timeless style, Hansar Bangkok was designed by Singapore based WOHA. The building is a monument of iconic design rising up through the Bangkok skyline, with lush greenery cascading from the pool level on the eighth floor. Ivy-trimmed edges stretch upwards into the sky, while at night, the lights from Bangkok's city streets shimmer and reflect off flashes of glass and chrome.

Spacious interiors are chic and inviting with plush carpets, warm wood and soothing silk panelled walls. Sliding doors give way to the bedroom, where oversize beds feature soft feathery bedding and unique individually hand-beaded headboards by Chiang Mai artisan Kachama. Stunning bathrooms are masterpieces of elegance and space, a harmonious marriage of wood, water and stone.

Gastronomy
Sumptuous culinary offerings will breakfast venue Shine, and the Zest juice bar; as well as the elegant Café Boca for casual dining, delectable delicacies and bites-to-go.

As the sun sets, the lobby will come alive with the natural buzz of Bangkok's newest hot spot, the bar Vue.

Eve, the soon-to-be starlet of Bangkok will attract a clientele with a desire for irresistible mystique and unquestionable good taste as she woos global epicures and local foodies alike with her sophisticated design and inventive French-inspired menu.

Pleasurable pursuits - Pool, Spa and Fitness
Plug in your favourite tunes and crank up the speed to log a few miles on the treadmill as you gaze out onto the green surrounds of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, or chill out at the sky-bound infinity-edge swimming pool and Jacuzzi.

Discover a temple of restoration and renewal in the heart of the city at Hansar's own LUXSA Spa. Inspired by ancient Thai remedies and balanced natural energy, the spa offers both therapeutic massage and beauty treatments with the latest international restorative techniques.

Meet and Mingle at The Landing
The grand staircase leads to The Landing, Hansar's innovative reinvention of the executive level. The Landing will encompass both business facilities and lounge spaces, providing places for guests to meet and mingle, or simply unwind.


Meetings and Events
The Alcove and The Cube are Hansar Bangkok's private event facilities, with full audio-visual and conferencing capabilities for elegant boardroom style meetings, events, or product launches.

If your needs require for group gatherings whether formal or casual, there are additional meeting facilities on the 8th floor, catering for events of many kinds for up to 150 guests.

Hansar Bangkok's Sky Terrace is the city's newest outdoor rooftop events space, with a private outdoor deck overlooking the city and indoor bar and reception area. From morning brunches to afternoon weddings to intimate evening soirées, allow Hansar style to infuse those special moments with joy.

Promotional Rate
Hansar Bangkok is offering a promotional rate of Baht 4,500 per night for a Studio Suite, inclusive of breakfast for two, for a limited period. Rates are subject to applicable service charge and government taxes.

For enquiries and bookings, please contact
Manfred Ilg, General Manager
Hansar Bangkok
3 Rajdamri Road
Bangkok 10330
Thailand
Email: gm@hansarbangkok.com

Sales and Reservations:
Phone: +66 2209 1234
Email: sales@hansarbangkok.com
Website: www.hansarbangkok.com (live from 10 December), or www.slh.com/hansarbangkok

Elite Havens Forms Marketing and Distribution Joint-Venture with Leading Independent Villa Guide - Partnership will offer global distribution services



Elite Havens Group, Bali's leading villa luxury real estate, marketing and management company, has set up Marketing Villas Limited, a joint-venture with leading independent villa guide, Singapore based Private Homes & Villas Pte Ltd. Marketing Villas Limited will offer travel agents an enhanced booking service for villas and deliver improved occupancy rates for villa owners.

The joint-venture allows the two companies to leverage on their respective, and unique, strengths. The Elite Havens Group will provide Marketing Villas Limited with its expertise in developing a distinctive brand identity for villa clients, as well as access to its extensive network of travel agents and over 50,000 guests. Private Homes & Villas will contribute its web-based distribution and customer service software platform Marketing Villas Limited, which will enable the new joint-venture to be more efficient, effective and personalized in the manner it handles villa rental guests. Marketing Villas Limited will be headed up by Jon Stonham, CEO of Private Homes & Villas.

Ian Macaulay, Managing Director of the Elite Havens Group, said: "By pairing with Private Homes & Villas, Elite Havens is taking a significant step towards consolidating its position as a market leader in Bali and across the region. Both companies share the same focus: to deliver a quality villa product with a user-friendly booking service to guests, whilst at the same time building long-term relationships with villa owners."

Jon Stonham, founder and CEO, Private Homes & Villas, added: "The Elite Havens Group, pioneered the marketing and distribution of independent villas through creating strong stand-alone brands. By combining their expertise in this area with our ability to extend their reach to a much wider audience, we hope to deliver better occupancy rates, and therefore better yields, to villa owners. And, very importantly, guests stand to benefit as well as they will have not only more choice but also enjoy a smoother booking process."

The Elite Havens Group (www.elitehavens.com) markets villas throughout Bali and Lombok from the award-winning villa, The Istana in Uluwatu to iconic properties such as Atas Ombak and Puri Bawana in Canggu. It recently launched the five-bedroom Villa Lega in Seminyak and six-bedroom Taman Sorga in Sanur.

Private Homes & Villas (www.privatehomesandvillas.com) inspects and reviews over 200 villas a year across Asia from Sri Lanka, Thailand to Indonesia (specifically Bali and Lombok). Its independent reviews help guests select the right villa to meet their needs supported by a back office customer service platform developed by the company.
ENDS

Rail Europe Appoints GHCasia as Regional PR Partner


Grebstad Hicks Communications (GHCasia), a leading Asia-based specialist in promoting travel, tourism, luxury lifestyle and hospitality, has been appointed PR partner in Asia for Rail Europe.

Rail Europe, a joint venture between French National Railways (SNCF) and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), markets and distributes European train travel products worldwide.

Partners in Europe include GIE Eurail, Eurostar, ACP (Britrail) and the national railways of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Non-European partners include Amtrack in the USA, Via Rail in Canada, IRCTC Buddhist Train in India, JR in Japan) and Korail in Korea.

Statistics show that train travel is regaining popularity worldwide as it eliminates airport inconveniences while transporting passengers directly to both city centres as well as remote rural locations. In the third quarter of 2010, the company recorded a 36% year-on-year increase in bookings.

Rail Europe promotes the rail trend worldwide, encouraging overseas visitors to discover the rich heritage and picture-postcard scenery of Europe.

It also simplifies the booking process, now enabling tickets or passes to be booked through travel agents as well as localised websites.

Commenting on Rail Europe's new focus on the Asia region, Rail Europe CEO Pierre Stephane Austi said: "This market represents enormous potential for us, as Asian travelers increasingly enjoy the financial means to travel and discover destinations such as Europe.

"Train travel is an opportunity to see and experience the full beauty of our continent as they journey from place to place."

Lynn Grebstad, founding partner of GHCasia, said: "We are delighted that Rail Europe has chosen our agency to support its public relations efforts in Asia. As train travel gets more and more sophisticated and a viable option to flying, we believe that travelers from Asia will readily seek this option for multi-destination European holidays and business travel in Europe."

GHCasia was established in 1998 by partners Lynn Grebstad and Paul Hicks and now employs more than 50 PR professionals providing communications counsel, strategy and services through its offices in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing. Visit: www.ghcasia.com

More information on Rail Europe can be found at:
International: www.raileurope.fr
China: www.raileurope.cn
Hong Kong: www.raileurope.hk
Taiwan : www.raileurope.com.tw
Singapore: www.raileurope.com.sg

Rendezvous Reef Resort Port Douglas Awarded 4th Star


The Rendezvous Reef Resort Port Douglas has been awarded a 4-star Apartment Hotel rating under the official Australian STAR AAA Tourism rating scheme, following a major AU$8 million refurbishment to its facilities.

A premier family resort in Port Douglas, the Rendezvous Reef Resort is located just two minutes from Port Douglas village and the famous Four Mile Beach. The resort comprises 125 villas set within 15 acres of lush tropical gardens. Guests can spread out and enjoy a range of facilities including three lagoon-style pools, a 25-metre lap pool, a children's pool, tennis courts and a casual barbeque area.

Scott Wilkinson, General Manager of the Rendezvous Reef Resort Port Douglas, said the 4-star rating is a reflection of the tasteful upgrade to the resort.

"During the last 18 months, the resort has undergone major upgrades and refurbishments and the 4-star Apartment Hotel rating bears testament to our efforts to set benchmarks in quality products and services." he said. "We are proud of all of our employees who work tirelessly to ensure our guests enjoy a memorable vacation experience and we will strive to uphold and improve on the rating," Wilkinson said.

The rating system is based on the superior quality of accommodation, recreational and dining facilities, maintenance and cleaning, overall appearance of the resort and amenities as well as other aspects of the hospitality including parking and security.

The refurbishments include a complete renovation of the main building which houses the reception area, lobby, tour desk, and the Swish Restaurant and Bar.

Since these main redevelopments, the services, facilities and villa accommodation at Rendezvous Reef Resort Port Douglas have continually been enhanced with a complete repaint of the external walls of the resort, replacement of soft furnishings and new bedding and bed linen. Other upgrades include ongoing improvements to the 15 acres of lush tropical gardens and eye-catching makeovers of the lagoon pools and barbeque facilities.

Rendezvous Reef Resort was placed in the Top Five for "Best Refurbishment" award at the Australia, New Zealand & Pacific Hotel Investment Conference (ANZPHIC) on completion of the $8 Million refurbishment.

For more information on the Rendezvous Reef Resort Port Douglas or any of the other Rendezvous Hotels, visit: www.RendezvousHotels.com

Gold Plate Award for Hyatt Regency Perth's Cafe Restaurant


Hyatt Regency Perth is proud to announce that Cafe restaurant has won the Gold Plate Award for Buffet Dining for the fifth time.

The Gold Plate Awards are in their 43rd year and are aimed at providing a significant benchmark for the West Australian hospitality industry. Judges travel across the Perth metropolitan area and throughout regional Western Australia on a quest for excellence.

With a brand new design and fit out completed in 2008 Cafe restaurant, located in the lobby area of Hyatt Regency Perth, offers an interactive dinning experience with three pan-to-plate cooking stations. The concept is the first of its kind in Perth and allows guests the opportunity to liaise directly with the hotels Chefs.

Visit Cafe restaurant at Hyatt Regency Perth to join in the celebration of its success! Cafe is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

For reservations please call 08 9225 1234

Save money these holidays with DriveMyCar Rentals


Australians can save money this holiday season by getting involved in the peer to peer (P2P) car rental concept.

DriveMyCar Rentals facilitates private car rentals, connecting individual car owners with drivers and potentially saving them up to 60% when compared to traditional car hire providers - and allowing car owners to earn some extra cash.

To rent a Ford Falcon Sedan for seven days through DriveMyCar Rentals costs approximately $153. This is significantly less than the $462 one would expect to pay Budget for a week's rental* - a saving of $309 or 66%.

DriveMyCar Rentals is a P2P service, so the rental amount goes to another consumer. This means they can generate some extra cash by renting out their unused cars.

For peace of mind, car owners can choose everything from the rental price to the minimum age of the potential drivers - and full insurance is included in the rental price.

"By renting private vehicles that would otherwise sit in the garage, benefits can be realised by all parties," said Daniel Noble, owner, founder and user of DriveMyCar Rentals.

"Renters can experience significant savings that can be put to better use at an expensive time of year, for example Christmas presents for family or to enjoy a celebratory meal at a nice restaurant! And owners benefit from earning some well-needed cash at an expensive time of year." With more than 5,000 registered users across Australia and up to 37 different car models available, renters are sure to find a car that meets their needs - whether it's a Toyota Hiace for the whole family or a sporty BMW Coupe to impress the in-laws.

For more information and to rent cars online for less, visit www.drivemycarrentals.com.au *Cost taken from www.budget.com.au for 7 days car hire (1st-7th December, 2010).

The Future of Consumerism is Collaboration


Lowering the costs of living and reducing environmental impacts are two key factors driving collaborative consumption - a movement that is a rapidly spreading throughout Australia and the world.

An increase in online communities and social connectivity has enabled people to swap, share, trade and rent goods via collaborative consumption, fundamentally altering the way consumers interact with products.

DriveMyCar Rentals is a prime example of this trend. This revolutionary peer to peer (P2P) car rental company facilitates private car rentals, connecting individual car owners with drivers who can rent their cars for up to 12 months at a time.

Daniel Noble, founder, owner and user of DriveMyCar Rentals, said: "Collaborative consumption may sound like another buzz word but in fact it's a new way of thinking about the use of consumer goods.

"Not everyone needs a car at their disposal 24-7, so we provide car owners with a way of earning money off their second biggest asset and drivers with a car rental option that is up to 60% cheaper than alternatives.

"Once people try the service they are usually converted. We have examples of people who have given up car ownership in favour of renting a private vehicle as they save so much money.

"Likewise, some users completely off-set the monthly ownership costs of their car simply by renting it out instead of letting it sit and depreciate in value in the garage." The term collaborative consumption was coined by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers, co-authors of What's Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. Examples of the trend are particularly evident in populous areas, with the UK and US showing numerous examples of newly formed companies enabling this new way of consuming goods.

For more information and to rent cars online for less, visit www.drivemycarrentals.com.au

About DriveMyCar Rentals
DriveMyCar Rentals is an Australian owned and operated, revolutionary peer to peer (P2P) car rental concept that was launched in November 2008. DriveMyCar Rentals was the first P2P car rental company worldwide and similar operations have since begun in the UK and US.

DriveMyCar Rentals offers more than 37 brands of cars - from sports cars like Ferrari and Porsche to mainstream brands such as BMW, Toyota, Ford and Honda. A wide range of models are available on DriveMyCar Rentals including utes, vans, hatchbacks, sedans, 4WD and sports cars. In general, renters can save up to 60% when compared with traditional car rental options.

For more information, visit www.drivemycarrentals.com.au

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stephanie's Spa Retreat at Sofitel Brisbane Central Named "Best Hotel Day Spa" in Australasia



Stephanies Spa Retreat has been named "Best Hotel Day Spa" at the 2010 Australasian Spas of Excellence Awards by ASpa.

"It's an honour to be recognised by our peers as a leader in the spa industry and we're absolutely thrilled to have been awarded Best Hotel Day Spa in Australasia! " says Stephanie Shepherd, CEO and Founder.

Stephanies Spa Retreat is located on level three of Sofitel Brisbane Central and is a welcome city escape for locals in the "know" and visiting celebrities. The luxury spa opened at Sofitel in June 2007 and offers an impressive menu of beauty treatments, spa therapies and exclusive signature treatments such as anti aging Vino Therapies and the unique Opal Rasul Treatment.

" We congratulate Stephanie and the Spa Retreat team on their recent award win," says Tony Chisholm, General Manager Sofitel Brisbane Central.

"The Spa Retreat celebrates the French heritage of Sofitel through their many French inspired treatments; and we're very proud to offer our guests the best day spa in Australasia", adds Chisholm.

The "Best Hotel Day Spa" award recognises the continued excellence in the operation of the Spa Retreat in a hotel environment by demonstrating adherence to the Spa Operator Standards outlined in the ASpa Professional Code of Ethics. The award assessment is based 50% on the judge's preliminary assessment and 50% on a secret shopper spa experience. A judging panel of five industry experts assess finalists across several categories; including spa menu, wellbeing and beauty services, relaxation spaces, staff training, competitor differences and treatments which reflect the spa's concept and philosophy.

"ASpa is proud of the success of the awards and congratulates all of the well-deserving winners, along with all others nominated." ASpa president, Karen Goudge said.

Stephanies Spa Retreat boasts 8 treatments rooms, including individual suites and a couple's suite. The sensory and tranquility lounges are ideal for group bookings and are popular for corporate team building, hen's evenings, pre-wedding parties and baby showers. The "Opal Rasul Temple" is undoubtedly the masterpiece of the spa. The unique mosaic dome style cave is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and its benefits have been enjoyed by the likes of many sports identities and musical starlets. A popular experience for friends to enjoy together, The Opal Rasul Temple can accommodate up to 4 adults. The treatment is a sultry one-hour journey of mud therapy, warm steam and tropical rain showers, experienced under a starlit dome within a bronze and turquoise mosaic temple.

"My vision and desire has always been to combine beauty therapies with peaceful places of harmony and balance. Even if clients are only visiting for a short time, we want them to feel they have entered another world when they step through our spa doors. We strive everyday to exceed their expectations and for the Spa Retreat to be recognised as the Best Hotel Day Spa in the country is icing on the cake!" concludes Shepherd.

Qantas Statement - ATSB Report On QF32 Engine Failure



Qantas today welcomed the release by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of its first preliminary investigation report into the QF32 Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine failure over Indonesia on 4 November 2010.

The report outlines the safety action taken by Qantas and states that the ATSB is satisfied with Qantas' safety response.

The ATSB has confirmed it is looking at a range of issues as part of what will be a detailed and lengthy investigation. The report has confirmed the seriousness of the incident and that, in spite of damage to some systems and components, the pilots retained control of the aircraft at all times and were able to land safely. The report says: "The ATSB is satisfied that the action taken by Qantas adequately addresses the immediate safety of flight concerns in respect of the operation of its A380 aircraft equipped with Trent 900 series engines".

Qantas continues to work closely with Rolls-Royce and Airbus, CASA and the ATSB on a comprehensive inspection program covering Trent 900 engines.

With CASA's approval, two A380s have returned to service with Qantas voluntarily applying a range of conditions that include not operating the aircraft across the Pacific until further operational experience has been gathered.

Qantas will continue to operate a full international and domestic schedule and expects to make further announcements about the return to service of more A380s, before Christmas, in the near future. In addition to the two aircraft that are back in service, two new A380s will be delivered and enter service in coming weeks, and another two are due for delivery in early 2011.

The aircraft involved in the QF32 incident will remain in Singapore for some time while Airbus develops and then undertakes a significant repair program. Sixteen Qantas engines require either modification to the latest standard or full replacement. Five of these have been replaced to date and all Airworthiness Directive and CASA requirements are being met.

As foreshadowed yesterday, Qantas has also completed the one-off Trent 900 oil feed stub pipe inspections on the first of the two aircraft that have resumed service. No issues as outlined by the ATSB were found, and the aircraft will operate to London via Singapore as scheduled this evening.

Inspection of the second aircraft has commenced.

Qantas will continue to work with Rolls-Royce, Airbus and CASA on its ongoing Trent 900 inspection program, and to support the ATSB's ongoing investigation.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

World Travel Market Expands WTM Vision Conference Into Europe And The Middle East


World Travel Market, the premier global event for the travel industry, is expanding its successful WTM Vision Conference into Europe and the Middle East in 2011.

WTM Vision Conference has run successfully for the past two years as a mid-year half-day conference in London offering high calibre speakers, content and analysis to the travel and tourism industry's senior leaders.

For 2011 the London conference will be supported by two new further WTM Vision Conference events; the first in Milan, Italy on April 14 and the second at WTM's sister exhibition Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai, UAE on May 4.

Leading global research company Euromonitor International will continue its support of the WTM Vision Conference by offering delegates to each of the three events its latest research into the global travel and tourism industry on a free and exclusive basis.

For the previous two WTM Vision Conference events in London Euromonitor International has supplied its Forecast Restatement 2009 and 2010 research, which looked at the impact the global downturn has had on the economy and how the industry had responded.

Euromonitor International's experts will present at all three events to give delegates further insights and analysis to support the findings.

World Travel Market Chairman Fiona Jeffery said: "The WTM Vision Conference format has been a real success in London with the industry's leaders looking for the latest research, debate and analysis to help them decide on their business strategies.

"2011 is the right time to expand this successful concept out around the globe. We have decided to start this roll out with Italy and the Middle East. Both markets have different challenges which the conferences will address while continuing to have a global overview of the industry and the wider economic considerations."

WTM Vision Conference in London will continue to be organised in association with Kingley Event Management.

WTM Vision Conference in Italy is being organised in association with TTG Italia.

WTM Vision Conference in Dubai is being organised in association with Arabian Travel Market.

Lufthansa Flynet Service Now Available on Board



Panasonic and Lufthansa are offering broadband Internet access on long-haul routes - Diverse billing options with service provider Deutsche Telekom - Introductory offer: Free surfing until the end of January 2011.

Lufthansa passengers travelling on long-haul flights can now once again enjoy the full freedom of online communication. Together with its long-standing partners Panasonic Avionics Corporation and Deutsche Telekom, Lufthansa will be the first airline to offer its customers broadband Internet access on intercontinental routes. The service, which will initially be provided on selected North Atlantic routes, will be available on nearly the entire Lufthansa intercontinental network by the end of 2011. "Inflight Internet on board our long-haul flights is an innovation in the interests of our customers," says Thierry Antinori, member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board. "FlyNet complements the consistent communications service offering for Lufthansa customers at all points of the travel chain. It provides them with completely new and unique opportunities to spend their time on board or while waiting for connecting flights."

The extremely fast, high-performance inflight Internet service gives passengers with a WLAN-enabled laptop or smartphone unlimited online access. Thanks to the high bandwidth, emails - including those with large file attachments - can be sent and received without any time delay. Business travellers can also access their company's Virtual Private Network (VPN). In spring 2011, inflight data communication should also be possible using the mobile phone standards GSM and GPRS. In addition to the wireless Internet (WLAN) service, Lufthansa customers will then be able to use their mobile phones to send and receive SMS text messages and transfer data with smart phones such as the iPhone or PDAs such as BlackBerry.

FlyNet is incredibly easy to use. Passengers -- no matter where they are sitting on the aircraft - can logon to the Internet with any WLAN-enabled device, just as at any public hotspot, or in the near future set up a connection with a GSM/GPRS-enabled device. After opening the browser, they can automatically access the exclusive, free Lufthansa FlyNet portal, where they will find constantly updated news about economics, politics, sports and entertainment. Via this portal they can access the Internet service provided by Deutsche Telekom, which is to be paid from February 2011 on. Service provider information detailing the various billing options is available on this portal as well, including payment via credit card, via integrated roaming partners or by redeeming Miles & More award miles. The price for one hour's online access is approximately AUST$15.00 or 3,500 miles, while the 24-hour flat rate is just over AUST$27.00 or 7,000 miles. Under the 24-hour flat rate agreement, passengers can access the Internet on all Lufthansa connecting flights equipped with a hotspot during the period of validity as well as after the flight in Lufthansa lounges.

Thanks to the introductory FlyNet offer, inflight Internet access will be available for free on FlyNet-equipped aircraft until January 31, 2011.

Lufthansa operated the world's first scheduled flight with broadband Internet access on 15 January 2003. From May 2004 until the end of 2006, when Lufthansa's then-partner Connexion by Boeing discontinued the service, wireless broadband Internet enjoyed increasing popularity. The technology also proved very reliable. By the end of 2006, some 69 of Lufthansa's long-range aircraft were equipped with FlyNet, making the Lufthansa fleet the largest Internet-enabled long-haul fleet in the world, with about 30,000 users per month.

Qantas A380 Update



Qantas will conduct further, more detailed one-off inspections of Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines on its A380 aircraft following the results of an additional examination of components from the engine involved in the QF32 incident on 4 November.

After discussions with the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Rolls-Royce, it was decided it was prudent to conduct further inspections of engine components, although there is no immediate risk to flight safety. This is in line with Qantas' conservative, safety first approach.

The examination took place at the Rolls-Royce facility in Derby, United Kingdom, and appears to provide a more definitive explanation for the engine failure that occurred on QF32. This resulted in a safety recommendation by the ATSB following discussions with Qantas, Rolls-Royce and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

The ATSB's recommendation is that these one-off inspections be conducted within two flight cycles, which provides a level of inspection over and above the current 20 cycle inspection required by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The findings apply to all relevant variants of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine operated worldwide.

Qantas currently has two A380 aircraft in operational service, following the grounding of the fleet on 4 November. Both A380 aircraft will be inspected at the Qantas Jet Base in Sydney. Inspections will commence this afternoon.

Qantas will determine any further response after it has finalised the inspection regime and consulted with both regulators and the manufacturer.

Qantas does not anticipate at this stage that the inspections will have an impact on international services, however contingency arrangements will be in place, if needed.

The ATSB has described recent developments as follows:

Recent examination of components removed from the failed engine at the Rolls-Royce plc facility in Derby, United Kingdom, have identified the presence of fatigue cracking within a stub pipe that feeds oil into the High Pressure (HP) / Intermediate Pressure (IP) bearing structure. While the analysis of the engine failure is ongoing, it has been identified that the leakage of oil into the HP/IP bearing structure buffer space (and a subsequent oil fire within that area) was central to the engine failure and IP turbine disc liberation event.

Further examination of the cracked area has identified the axial misalignment of an area of counter-boring within the inner diameter of the stub pip; the misalignment having produced a localised thinning of the pipe wall on one side. The area of fatigue cracking was associated with the area of pipe wall thinning.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Strengthens Its Presence In Australia With The Signing Of Sheraton Melbourne


Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) announced the signing of an agreement with Golden Age Development Group to operate a Sheraton Hotel in Melbourne. Starwood welcomes the Sheraton brand back to the city with a 170 room hotel targeted to open in 2013.

"We are delighted to strengthen our presence in Australia with the signing of Sheraton Melbourne. Given Sheraton's strong presence in Sydney, Queensland and Fiji, a Sheraton in the heart of Melbourne city will be a great addition and will complement our existing hotels. We look forward to working in partnership with Golden Age Development Group to further expand Starwood's presence in this gateway city" said Sean Hunt, Regional Vice President, Starwood Pacific Hotels and Resorts.

Scheduled to open in 2013, the hotel is part of the 27 Little Collins project developed on the prestigious site of Melbourne's Naval and Military Club. The development is set to become the CBD's newest luxury space combining the Sheraton hotel, exclusive un-branded residences and boutique retail. The Sheraton Melbourne will be located on Little Collins Street between Spring Street and Exhibition Street, also referred to as the "Paris End" owing to its Art Nouveau architecture, leafy surrounds and proximity to the city's most chic dining and shopping experiences.

The hotel is located within the 31 storey "wavilinear" building which will feature 162 deluxe guest rooms and eight luxury suites. Hotel facilities will include an indoor heated swimming pool, fitness center, a spa with 4 dedicated treatment rooms, one all day dining restaurant and bar, one signature restaurant and a lobby lounge bar. The hotel will also feature 546 square meters of meetings and banquet space over 7 flexible rooms.

The new Sheraton hotel also further strengthens the position of Starwood as one of the largest international upscale hotel chains in the Pacific region (Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Fiji). Starwood currently operates 15 hotels in the region, with more in development under the brands of Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien and Four Points by Sheraton.

About Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
Sheraton helps guests make connections at more than 400 hotels in 75 countries around the world. It is owned by and is the largest and most global brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1025 properties in 100 countries and territories with 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.


About Golden Age Developments
The Golden Age Development Group is a privately-owned Melbourne based property Development Company based in Melbourne. With a focus on developing residential projects within inner city Melbourne, the group is committed to designing and developing signature high end quality developments. 27 Little Collins is the flagship property for 2010.

MANDARIN ORIENTAL, TOKYO ATTAINS #1 RANKING IN INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR’S 2010 WORLD’S BEST HOTELS

11 properties from Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group ranked in the Top 100 list. Tokyo awarded #1 ranking in the world; Mandarin Oriental, New York #3 in the world

Hong Kong, 2 December, 2010 -- Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group achieved extraordinary high marks in the 30th annual "World's Best Hotels" rankings in the November issue of Institutional Investor magazine. Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo took the coveted number one spot, as 'Best Hotel in the World'. Mandarin Oriental, New York was voted third best hotel worldwide, and a further nine Mandarin Oriental properties were ranked in Top 100 list.  In addition, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, Boston and Geneva were also voted as the 'Best Hotels' in their respective cities.  

Institutional Investor's exclusive rankings of the Top 100 hotels are determined by scores from an elite group of voters – CEOs and other senior executives from the U.S., Asia and Europe. Respondents were asked to rate hotels on rooms, service, food/dining, location and overall design. The recognition awarded to Mandarin Oriental properties in this prestigious publication, is a testament to the Group's continued commitment to excellence.  

The list of Mandarin Oriental hotels chosen for the esteemed publication's awards were: Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo (#1 Overall; #1 in Tokyo); Mandarin Oriental, New York (#3; #1 in New York); Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong (#12); Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco (#13 Overall; #1 in San Francisco); Mandarin Oriental, Washington D.C. (#31); Mandarin Oriental, Boston (#37 Overall; #1 in Boston); Mandarin Oriental, Singapore (#47); Mandarin Oriental, Miami (#48); Mandarin Oriental, Geneva (#59 Overall; #1 in Geneva); Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London (#63); Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok (#93).  


About Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is the award-winning owner and operator of some of the world's most prestigious hotels and resorts. Mandarin Oriental now operates, or has under development, 42 hotels representing over 10,000 rooms in 27 countries, with 18 hotels in Asia, 12 in The Americas and 12 in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. In addition, the Group operates, or has under development, 13 Residences at Mandarin Oriental, connected to the Group's properties.  

Emirates to resume third-daily Sydney service with new aircraft


- Boeing 777-300ER to commence operations from 2nd October 2011 –

Sydney, Australia, 2nd December 2010: Emirates has announced that its third-daily Sydney to Dubai service will recommence from 2nd October 2011, operated by a new, larger Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Emirates flight EK415 departs early morning at 0600 from Sydney, enabling passengers to arrive in destinations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa within the same day of travel.  The return flight EK414 departs Dubai at 0140, arriving in Sydney at 2230.

The service, previously operated by a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft, was suspended last month, following a reorganisation of services and reallocation of aircraft by Emirates internationally.

"With demand for our Sydney flights continuing to grow, the return of the third-daily Sydney service is welcome news for our staff, travel partners and customers in Sydney," said Barry Brown, Emirates Vice President Australasia.

"The Boeing 777-300ER which will operate from 2nd October offers both much needed capacity growth for this service and stunning onboard products, including First Class Private Suites, lie-flat seats in Business Class, spacious Economy Class and more than 1200 channels on Emirates' inflight entertainment system ice."

As with all Emirates' flights, passengers will also enjoy complimentary gourmet food and beverages, generous baggage allowances of up to 30kg in Economy Class, and fully inclusive pricing in all classes.

The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will be configured with eight Private Suites in First Class, 42 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 304 Economy Class seats, increasing capacity on Emirates' flights between Sydney and Dubai by 41 per cent.

This announcement accompanies a series of capacity increases for Emirates' Australasian services this year, including the introduction of Boeing 777-200LR aircraft on Perth services, Boeing 777-300ERs on Melbourne services, and a Boeing 777-300ER being deployed to Brisbane on 1st January.

 In the past two years Emirates has increased its capacity to Australia by an average of 25 per cent annually.  This has included the launch of third-daily Melbourne and Sydney services and a second-daily Brisbane service.

Emirates' extensive route network consists of 109 destinations worldwide in 65 countries.  For flight information and bookings contact Emirates on 1300 303 777, visit your local travel agent or www.emirates.com/au.

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