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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains MGallery unveils luxury new suites

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Following the landmark stay of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains is proud to unveil 12 newly constructed rooms and suites, including one spacious Grand Luxury Suite, the pinnacle of Blue Mountain luxury.

Boasting two expansive balconies which overlook the resort’s middle lake and the iconic Jamison Valley, the 102m² Grand Luxury Suite features an expansive lounge room with vaulted ceilings, dining area and gas fireplace, while the master bedroom has a large ensuite with spa bath and separate walk in shower. Appelles Spa amenities are a feature in the powder room and ensuite.

Adding to the Grand Luxury Suite, the 12 new rooms and suites comprise of four smaller suites, including an impressive Two Bedroom Deluxe Suite – all with gas fireplaces, Nespresso machines and picturesque views, and seven Superior rooms – bringing the resorts total accommodation offering to 223 rooms.

Architect Michael Munro from Hoskins Munro designed the new accommodation wing, while Debbie Schwartz, wife of hotel owner Dr Jerry Schwartz did the interior design.
Bernie Boller, General Manager for Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains MGallery said, “we are thrilled with how the new rooms and suites have come together and we were honoured to have had His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama stay in the Grand Luxury Suite for the duration of his five-day Spiritual retreat at the resort and give it his seal of approval. After His Holiness confirmed he would be staying with us and holding his retreat in the grounds of our resort back in 2013, it was the catalyst for us to get the new build suites built and ready in time for his arrival.”

With an unrivalled location overlooking the Jamison Valley, the Fairmont Resort which is part of Accor's MGallery Collection of hotels attracts guests from all over the world seeking refined accommodation in the heart of a World Heritage location.

Featuring four restaurants, the resort continues to grow from strength to strength with the recent addition of a new dining venue, The Terrace. With uninterrupted views of the Jamison Valley, the 80 seat upscale restaurant caters to small groups, families and couples.

In addition to Jamison’s Restaurant, Eucalypt Restaurant and Embers, the resort features a lounge and bar, two swimming pools – one outdoor and one heated with spa, a fully equipped gymnasium, four kids games rooms, billiards room, two tennis courts, and library.

Enhancing the resort’s leisure facilities, a new 12 treatment room day spa is scheduled to be completed by early 2016, which will include an array of health programs, couples rooms and relaxation space among its features.

The resort celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013. The original Fairmont Resort was launched in 1988 and was the first major upscale hotel in the Blue Mountains. For almost two decades the resort was a favourite destination for luxurious holidays, weddings and conferences. A multi-award winning hotel with a peerless location overlooking the Jamison Valley, the Fairmont attracted guests from all over the world seeking refined accommodation in the heart of this World Heritage location.

Rates at Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains start from $239 per night. Rates for the Grand Luxury Suite start from $989 per night.

For more information on the resort, head to www.fairmontresort.com.au or www.mgallery.com or call 02 4758 0000.


Traveloscopy | 

Celebrity Chef Massimo Mele Joins Carolinasusi Italia Tours' 2016 Gourmet Tour of Italy



Sydney-based celebrity chef, Massimo Mele, will get back to his Italian roots, joining a newly-designed culinary journey through his homeland with Carolinasusi Italia Tours in October 2016.

Guests will have their tastebuds skilfully led through Italy's renowned Emilia-Romagna and Le Marche regions where they will be treated to cooking classes among other delights. With Massimo's farm-to-table food philosophy and his experience of working in Italy, picking and cooking with his own produce, the group will receive a truly authentic Italian gastronomic experience, with Massimo "cooking up" some surprise experiences along the way.

Born in Tasmania and raised in Naples, Massimo's early years were spent around the women in his family preparing food, shaping his inherited love for cooking using the finest produce. He returned to Tasmania at aged 8 and worked in the family restaurant, La Bella Napoli where his love of Italian cooking flourished. Massimo's experience in some of Australia's top Italian restaurants and his string of culinary achievements both domestically and internationally, has earned him the title of an award-winning celebrity chef.

Departing Rome on September 30, 2016 and finishing in Milan, this 13 night, 14 day gourmet Italian food and wine adventure featuring celebrity chef Massimo Mele, is available for $9,545 per person twin share – book before Feb 28, 2016 and receive 10 per cent off. The trip includes a personalised guided journey, airport transfers, bus transport, hotel accommodation, authentic Italian meals including breakfast daily, nine lunches and five dinners.

Also included in the journey for guests are two unforgettable cooking classes, four exceptional wine tastings, cheese and olive oil tastings, truffle hunting, an exclusive biological garden tour, a canal boat trip, a must-see visit to the Ferrari Museum, entry to the impressive Castello Estense and a host of money-can't-buy experiences in local Italian homes.

Visiting some of Italy's most coveted culinary destinations, the gourmet trail begins in Ascoli Piceno in the heart of Le Marche. With six nights based in this produce mecca, the group is immersed in the true Italian foodie culture, taking in the quaint villages of Offida for a tasting of the region's outstanding Passerina and Pecorino wines, Ripatransone for an invitation-only wine tasting and a trip to the seaside town of Grottammare for a delectable seafood lunch.

While in Le Marche, guests are whisked off to a secret location in the Sibillini Mountains to meet a truffle hunter and his dogs before tasting these prized delicacies in the village of Montefortino. A stroll through the local Ascoli Piceno markets enables the group to gather essential ingredients for the first cooking class in a local Italian villa with a renowned local chef and added expertise of Massimo Mele.

The journey continues to Bologna, the epicentre of the Emilia-Romagna region, where the next seven nights are spent exploring the surrounding destinations of Comacchio, Modena, Parma, Valle di Castrignano and Ferrara.

Highlights in Emilia-Romagna include gathering ingredients at the local markets for the second cooking class, sampling fried eel in Comacchio or "Little Venice", known for its network of canals, meeting a local artisan and sampling his balsamic vinegar from barrels in his attic in Modena and a visit to the iconic Ferrari Museum. Guests also taste Italy's famed parmigiano cheese in Parma and prosciutto de parma in the Valle di Castrignano before enjoying a final tasting of the famous Lambrusco wine from the UNESCO protected Renaissance city of Ferrara.

These small group tours of no more than 20, enable guests to be fully immersed into the Italian way of life and be treated to exceptional experiences surrounding food, wine, art, culture, shopping, scenery and a plethora of exclusive experiences while meeting local Italian families and artisans.

Enquire now about special discount offers for Carolinasusi's other tour experiences, including 10 per cent off September and October, 2015. For information and bookings visit www.carolinasusi.com.au or call Donna at Savenio Travel on 1800 770 599.

Park Visitor From Colorado Finds 8.52-Carat White Diamond At Arkansas’s Crater Of Diamonds State Park On June 24

8 52-carat diamond and Arkansas quarter
8 52-carat diamond and Arkansas quarter

An 8.52-carat white diamond was found Wednesday (June 24) by Bobbie Oskarson of Longmont, Colorado, at Arkansas’s Crater of Diamonds State Park, according to park officials.

Clear white and icicle shaped, this gem is the fifth largest diamond found by a park visitor since the state park was established at Arkansas’s diamond site in 1972. Twenty minutes into her search, she found the diamond in a couple scoops she had dug from a small mound of dirt. Oskarson was in the southwest corner of the park’s 37 ½-acre search field in an area known as the Pig Pen, aptly named because it is the muddiest part of the search area after a good rain. She named her gem the Esperanza Diamond, both her niece’s name and the Spanish word for “hope.” At this time, Oskarson plans to keep the gem.

Now in the park’s record books, this 8.52-carat diamond is topped in size only by these previous four larger diamonds found by park visitors: the white 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight found in 1975 by W.W. Johnson of Amarillo, Texas; white 8.82-carat Star of Shreveport found in 1981 by Carroll Blankenship of Shreveport, Louisiana; white 8.66-carat Illusion Diamond found in 2011 by Beth Gilbertson of Salida, Colorado; and brown 8.61-carat Lamle Diamond found in 1978 by Betty Lamle of Hitchcock, Oklahoma. [NOTE: The largest diamond ever discovered in the U.S. was unearthed at Arkansas’s diamond site in 1924 during an early mining operation prior to becoming an Arkansas state park in 1972. Named the Uncle Sam, this white diamond with a pink cast weighed 40.23 carats. Another notable gem found at the site prior to its becoming a state park was the 15.33-carat Star of Arkansas, a white diamond found in 1956 by Winifred Parker, when the site was operated by Howard Millar as a privately-operated tourist attraction.]

Park Interpreter Waymon Cox said, “Ms. Oskarson and her boyfriend Travis Dillon saw the Crater of Diamonds State Park on an Arkansas highway map while in the nearby town of Hot Springs and decided to visit the park. And what a lucky first visit it was for her!” He noted that Oskarson found the diamond on Wednesday around noon hunting in the park’s 37 ½-acre search area that is the eroded top of the eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in the world in surface area. “It was hot and sunny at the park, but Ms. Oskarson was staying cool by searching in a tree-shaded area when she found her diamond.” Park officials recommend that visitors bring drinking water and stay in shade as much as possible when looking for diamonds during the summer.

At first she thought it might be a quartz crystal due to its elongated shape, but park staff later confirmed that she had found a diamond. Cox said, “Ms. Oskarson’s eight-and-a-half-carat diamond is absolutely stunning, sparkling with a metallic shine, and appears to be an unbroken, capsule-shaped crystal. It features smooth, curved facets, a characteristic shared by all unbroken diamonds from the Crater of Diamonds.”

He continued, “Ms. Oskarson’s diamond is about three-quarters of an inch long and as big around as a standard No. 2 pencil.” It was found very near where Carroll Blankenship found the 8.82-carat white Star of Shreveport in 1981. “Now Ms. Oskarson’s diamond is a very special part of the Crater of Diamonds State Park’s history, too.”

Oskarson’s find is the 227th diamond certified by park staff this year. Cox noted that more than 30 other diamonds have been found on the surface of the search area so far in 2015, due in part to frequent rains this spring. “Rain, plus the regular plowing of the search field by our maintenance staff, increases visitors’ chances of finding diamonds in the search area.” Regular plowing loosens the soil and brings more diamonds to the surface, and then rain erosion plays its part. “Diamonds are a bit heavy for their size, and they lack static electricity,” Cox continued, “so rainfall slides the dirt off and leaves them exposed. When the sun comes out, they sparkle.”

The search area at the Crater of Diamonds is the world’s only diamond-producing site open to the public. The park’s policy is finder-keepers. What visitors find is theirs to keep. The staff provides free identification and registration of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and exhibits explain the site’s geology and history, and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough.

Over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed here at Arkansas’s diamond site since the first diamonds found in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who at that time owned the land, long before the site became an Arkansas state park in 1972. Pictures and information about notable diamond finds from the site are featured on the park’s website at: www.CraterOfDiamondsStatePark.com/history/famous-finds.aspx.

Bobbie Oskarson with her 8 52-carat diamond
Bobbie Oskarson with her 8 52-carat diamond

Another notable diamond from the Crater of Diamonds that has received much national attention is the 1.09-carat, D-flawless Strawn-Wagner Diamond. Discovered at the park in 1990 by Shirley Strawn of Murfreesboro, this white gem weighed 3.03 carats in the rough before being cut to perfection in 1997 by the renowned diamond firm Lazare Kaplan International of New York. The gem is the most perfect diamond ever certified in the laboratory of the American Gem Society. It is on display in a special exhibit in the Crater of Diamonds State Park visitor center.

Another gem from the Crater of Diamonds is the flawless 4.25-carat Kahn Canary diamond that was discovered in 1977. This uncut, triangular-shape gem has been on exhibit at many cities around the U.S. and overseas. It was featured in an illustrious jewelry exhibition in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1997 that included precious stones from throughout the world including the Kremlin collection, the Vatican, Cartier, and Christies. In late 1997, the Kahn Canary was featured in another prestigious exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York entitled “The Nature of Diamonds.” Former First Lady Hillary Clinton borrowed the Kahn Canary from its owner, Stan Kahn of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and wore it in a special, Arkansas-inspired ring setting designed by Henry Dunay of New York as a special way to represent Arkansas’s diamond site at the galas celebrating both of Bill Clinton’s presidential inaugurals.

Over 40 different rocks and minerals are unearthed at the Crater making it a rockhound's delight. In addition to diamonds, semi-precious gems and minerals, including amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite, and quartz, are found in the park’s search area.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is on Ark. 301 at Murfreesboro. It is one of the 52 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.
For more information, contact: Waymon Cox, park interpreter, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958; phone: 870-285-3113; 



Traveloscopy | 

TAT and Visa launch Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2015

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Mr. Somboon Krobteeranon, Country Manager, Visa Thailand and   Ms. Vilaiwan Twichasri, Deputy Governor for Tourism Products and Business,Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) presided over the launch of the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale 2015 at Gaysorn Shopping Center.

This year’s campaign returns with special privileges for shoppers and a chance to win grand prizes when Visa cardholders purchase goods and services from over 15,000 shopping centers, department stores, brand-name boutiques, and restaurants in seven major tourist destinations – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Udon Thani. This year, in the spirit of the TAT’s 2015 Discover Thainess tourism campaign, shoppers who are wearing traditional Thai dress will enjoy extra discounts and perks in many of the participating stores.

“Travel 365 days in Thailand” Grand Prize will continue in this year’s Amazing Thailand Grand Sale for international and Thai Visa cardholders. The winners are entitled to bring a friend to visit Thailand for up to 10 days in each month of the entire year, with round-trip tickets from Thai Airways and hotel accommodation provided by Centara Hotel & Resort. Visa cardholders will have the chance to enter the lucky draw for every 500 Baht spent with participating merchants. For more information please 


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Silversea 2016 Asia Silver Shadow Cruises To Include Hotel, Transfer, Complimentary Silver Shore Select Excursions And Wifi


The all-inclusive packages are available for new bookings made on or after 24 June 2015 and include for example, a 7-day voyage to the fabled lands of Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, sailing roundtrip from Singapore on 6 February 2016.

"Our goal is to make it as convenient as possible for our guests to experience a luxury holiday in Asia by offering the most exclusive, all-inclusive fares in cruising,"said Steve Odell, President of Silversea for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

The 2016 Silver Shadow Asia cruise packages include a two-night, pre-cruise stay at a five-star Shangri-La hotel in Hong Kong, Singapore or Tokyo, plus a transfer between hotel and Silver Shadow.
Guests may enrich their travel experience with included Silver Shore Select excursions offered in every port of call.  Whether it's exploring an enchanted seascape of jade-coloured islets rising from the waters of Ha Long Bay, witnessing the great apes of Borneo in their natural habitat, or marvelling at the gilded opulence of Yangon's legendary Shwedagon Pagoda, these small-group excursions present a destination's art, history, and culture in an intimate, authentic way, utilising comfortable transportation and expert local guides.

The all-inclusive packages also include one hour of complimentary WiFi per day, for every guest and unlimited complimentary WiFi for the ship's top-tier suites (Medallion and higher categories).

The new perks join an array of included amenities that already features: open-seating gourmet dining; butler service for all suites; Champagne, select wines, premium spirits, specialty coffees, bottled water, juices and soft drinks; in-suite bar stocked with guests' preferences; in-suite dining; and 24-hour dining service (from a formal dinner ordered from The Restaurant menu and served in-suite, to lighter fare served in attended lounges); lecture and enrichment programmes; roundtrip transportation into town (in most ports); and onboard gratuities (excluding spa treatments).

In addition to the included Silver Shore Select excursions, guests may purchase tours from a variety of land programmesoffering exceptional value, including the more-immersive Silver Shore Collection tours, as well as Silver Shore Privato, which provides a private car and driver for independent exploring.

For guests who prefer the freedom of independent travel, cruise-only fares are also available.
For further details and a complete list of 2016 Asia cruises aboard Silver Shadow, please visit http://www.silversea.com/exclusive-offers/asia-now-more-inclusive-than-ever/

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Sydney Bike Tours Introduces the Latest in Travel Tech


Sydney Bike Tours has launched new GPS guided, audio cycling tours of Sydney CBD and Manly Beach.

Utilising the growing network of bicycle paths in Sydney, the tours safely guide you to a selection of Sydney's famous attractions, using both on-screen directions and audio navigation, via a standard smart phone.

"It's wonderful to be able to combine the latest in GPS and audio technology, with cycling around the city of Sydney. It now means that tourists can explore the city at their own pace while still having the benefit of a tour guide commentary along the way" Co-director James van Rooyen said. 

The app can be downloaded for from either of their two locations via WiFi, and doesn't require a data connection whilst you are cycling, all the information is stored on the device. 

The “Bike the Bridge” tour over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge is the most popular ride. Alternatively guests can cruise the harbour-side board walk, past the city's iconic park lands to the Fish Markets; ride along the world famous Manly and Bondi beaches, and even spot whales from North Head. At each destination, guests will hear in-depth commentary covering the history, culture and unique stories of life in Sydney. 

Sydney Bike Tours carry a huge range of hire bicycles. Kid's bikes cost $20 a day and Adult bikes start from $28 a day. If you need a smart phone device, you can hire one for the day at only $10. 

For further information on the bike rides in Manly or Sydney, go to www.sydneybiketours.com.au or call the shop on (02) 8005 5724.





Traveloscopy | 

Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains Unveils Luxury New Suites

Following the landmark stay of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains is proud to unveil 12 newly constructed rooms and suites, including one spacious Grand Luxury Suite, the pinnacle of Blue Mountain luxury.
Boasting two expansive balconies which overlook the resort's middle lake and the iconic Jamison Valley, the 102m² Grand Luxury Suite features an expansive lounge room with vaulted ceilings, dining area and gas fireplace, while the master bedroom has a large ensuite with spa bath and separate walk in shower. Appelles Spa amenities are a feature in the powder room and ensuite.
Adding to the Grand Luxury Suite, the 12 new rooms and suites comprise of four smaller suites, including an impressive Two Bedroom Deluxe Suite – all with gas fireplaces, Nespresso machines and picturesque views, and seven Superior rooms – bringing the resorts total accommodation offering to 223 rooms.
Architect Michael Munro from Hoskins Munro designed the new accommodation wing, while Debbie Schwartz, wife of hotel owner Dr Jerry Schwartz did the interior design.
Bernie Boller, General Manager for Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains MGallery said, “we are thrilled with how the new rooms and suites have come together and we were honoured to have had His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama stay in the Grand Luxury Suite for the duration of his five-day Spiritual retreat at the resort and give it his seal of approval. After His Holiness confirmed he would be staying with us and holding his retreat in the grounds of our resort back in 2013, it was the catalyst for us to get the new build suites built and ready in time for his arrival.”
With an unrivalled location overlooking the Jamison Valley, the Fairmont Resort which is part of Accor's MGallery Collection of hotels attracts guests from all over the world seeking refined accommodation in the heart of a World Heritage location.
Featuring four restaurants, the resort continues to grow from strength to strength with the recent addition of a new dining venue, The Terrace. With uninterrupted views of the Jamison Valley, the 80 seat upscale restaurant caters to small groups, families and couples.
In addition to Jamison's Restaurant, Eucalypt Restaurant and Embers, the resort features a lounge and bar, two swimming pools – one outdoor and one heated with spa, a fully equipped gymnasium, four kids games rooms, billiards room, two tennis courts, and library.
Enhancing the resort's leisure facilities, a new 12 treatment room day spa is scheduled to be completed by early 2016, which will include an array of health programs, couples rooms and relaxation space among its features.
The resort celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013. The original Fairmont Resort was launched in 1988 and was the first major upscale hotel in the Blue Mountains. For almost two decades the resort was a favourite destination for luxurious holidays, weddings and conferences. A multi-award winning hotel with a peerless location overlooking the Jamison Valley, the Fairmont attracted guests from all over the world seeking refined accommodation in the heart of this World Heritage location.
Rates at Fairmont Resort Blue Mountains start from $239 per night. Rates for the Grand Luxury Suite start from $989 per night.
For more information on the resort, head to www.fairmontresort.com.au or www.mgallery.com or call 02 4758 0000.

Traveloscopy | 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

MTA appoints Suzana Blazevska to Air Product Manager role

MTA - Mobile Travel Agents has appointed Suzana Blazevska to the role of Air Product Manager with immediate effect.

Ms Blazevska joins MTA with more than 20 years industry experience encompassing roles with Travelscene, STA Travel and more recently as National Air & Product Executive for Travel Counsellors.

Announcing the new appointment MTA CEO, Don Beattie said a key component of Ms Blazevska's role will be to work closely with senior management in handling contractual negotiations and managing relationships with the company's airline partners.

"Suzana brings with her considerable travel industry knowledge and skill," Mr Beattie said.

"This makes her ideal for the role and we are delighted that she has chosen to join us."

"Suzana is a great addition to our already recognised leading support team."

Attached photo: MTA – Mobile Travel Agents Air Product Manager, Suzana Blazevska


W:       www.mtatravel.com.au

FB:       www.facebook.com/mobiletravelagents


Licensed since 1991, MTA is a 100 per cent Australian owned family business with clients nationally and headquartered on Queensland's Gold Coast.

MTA Travel Experts are hand-picked travel professionals who generally have extensive industry experience of between 15 and 25 years experience working in major agency chains prior to joining the organisation.

IATA accredited and a member of the Travel Compensation Fund, MTA is also proud to be a member of Virtuoso, the exclusive 'by-invitation-only' global organisation comprising the top one per cent of travel agencies worldwide. MTA is also a Travelscene American Express corporate member and an accredited Virgin Galactic Space Agency.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Novotel Australia Partners With Disney for Cinema-Inspired School Holiday Stays, and Family Fun


Novotel Hotels and Resorts across Australia have partnered with Disney this school holidays to celebrate the premiere of its new blockbuster family film Inside Out (in cinemas now) offering great prizes for those who stay anytime from now until 19 July.

Families who book and stay with Novotel at one of 24 great hotel and resort locations across Australia before 19 July have the chance to score one of 800 prizes valued at up to $40,000 as part of Novotel's Inside Out campaign.

Guests simply need to find a character toy from the film (based around Inside Out's emotions – Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness) hiding in their room to instantly win. Prizes include hotel gift cards, restaurant vouchers, Inside Out showbags and family movie passes. Winners also get to take home their Inside Out character toy at the end of their Novotel say.



Novotel and Disney have enjoyed a successful partnership in Australia since 2008. The Inside Out campaign is the latest, and in support of the brand's Family&Novotel promises available at Novotel hotels not only in Australia but worldwide.

Novotel offers a range of family-friendly benefits and kids are treated as guests in their own right. On arrival children are welcomed with a gift, can enjoy a dedicated play area and free breakfast (under the age of 16).

Families can take advantage of Novotel's spacious rooms which can comfortably accommodate 2 adults and 2 children. Two children up to age 16 stay free when sharing their parents' or grandparents' room. If more space or adult privacy is required, a second room for children can be booked at 50% off the best unrestricted rate.*

Quality time with family is important and that's why one of the major benefits of a family stay at Novotel is the 5pm late check out on Sundays. The opportunity to enjoy a sleep in or lounge longer by the pool allows families to enjoy a full weekend of activities at their destination.**

Thanks to these key Family&Novotel promises, Novotel is proving a perfect option for Australian families seeking a 'stay-cation' for when it's not always possible logistically or financially to take the family away on holiday.

The Novotel hotel and resort network across Australia offers family packages for weekends away, organising plenty of entertainment for the children (with family passes to some amazing local attractions) and opportunities to unwind for the parents while creating new family memories.

With beachfront hotels such as Novotel Melbourne St Kilda, Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific, Novotel Newcastle Beach, to family resorts such as Novotel Coffs Harbour Pacific Bay Resort and Novotel Twin Waters Resort on the Sunshine Coast, there's plenty of choice for a stay-cation holiday by the sea. Great city hotels also offer a range or urban family holiday ideas, with locations including the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour, Novotel Melbourne On Collins, Novotel Langley Perth, Novotel Brisbane and Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort.

For more on Novotel or to make a reservation, visit www.novotel.com/insideout

Terms and Conditions:

*50% off second room: Book a second room for your children at half the price of your own room. The reduction will be made on the “Best unrestricted Rate”, subject to “Family Extra room” promo availability. Breakfast is free for children up to the age of 16.

** Late checkout on Sundays is subject to availability. Please ask at reception upon arrival.


Traveloscopy | 

Sydney in top five best places in world to visit


#Sydney has once again been recognised as a top tourist destination with the world-class city ranked number five in the U.S News top 25 World’s Best Places to Visit list.


Sydney (DNSW)
U.S News compiled the list of destinations using opinions and recommendations from travel experts and users, with Sydney the only Australian city to make the final list.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the US is one of the international priority tourism markets for NSW.

“This remarkable result solidifies our position as Australia’s number one visitor destination. We look forward to welcoming more and more visitors from the US to Sydney which is truly like no other city in the world,” Mr Ayres said.

“Sydney never fails to impress with its iconic landmarks, beautiful beaches, vibrant food and wine scene and world-class events so it is no wonder people are choosing Sydney as one of their top travel destinations.”

Bondi (DNSW)
In the year ending September 2014, more than 323,000 visitors travelled to NSW from North America. These visitors stayed 4.3 million nights, providing a $535 million boost to the local economy.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said the recent broadcast of NBC’s TODAY in Sydney, followed by the impressive ranking on the U.S News top 25 travel list, is a testament to the success of the targeted marketing, events and industry partnership campaigns secured by Destination NSW.

“We are excited to be listed as one of the world’s top places to visit by the US and confident that this recognition will help drive visitation to Sydney and encourage visitors from around the world to experience Australia’s number one State,” Ms Chipchase said.


Traveloscopy | 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Marriott International Launches 'Meetings Imagined' in Australia


A one of a kind online platform for meeting planners to experience and inspire an innovative event

(L-R) Florencia Aimo, Jane Cai, Peggy Fang Roe, Matt Griggs

Marriott International has launched a new website Meetings Imagined to assist event planners in organising and implementing meetings and corporate events.

This digital innovation is unlike anything else in the industry as it transforms a meeting into an experience. Meetings Imagined is modeled on the photo-gathering site Pinterest. Similar to Pinterest whereby users can gather inspirational images to spark creativity and set out the objective of their meeting.

Marriott International has identified that the purpose for meetings are to: celebrate, decide, educate, ideate, network, produce and promote ideas. Meetings Imagined allows meeting planners to design their meetings to meet specific needs. The website includes elements that make up the structure of a meeting from the setup, to the food and drink options, technology and supplies, and experiences.


Meetings Imagined provides expert tips on everything from networking activities and maximising social media exposure, to creating the optimal meeting environment and meeting trends.

In addition to the website, event planners can collaborate on event creation with Marriott International’s Meetings Imagined specialists who are available in 11 Asia-Pacific markets.

The research upon which Meetings Imagined is founded, comprises analysis of the over 40,000 meetings hosted at Marriott’s hotels yearly as well as in-depth discussions with Marriott’s next generation customers. The most important findings were around how our next generations of customers work collaboratively, how they use technology, and how these factors affect meetings’ dynamics said Ms. Peggy Fang Roe, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Asia Pacific at Marriott International.
Peggy Fang Roe engages guests

“While others may focus on just meeting logistics, Marriott is reimagining the experience,” explains Ms. Fang Roe, “The Meetings Imagined website makes sure that regardless of the meeting, the user experience is extraordinary, and the objective achieved.”

Anyone who is planning a meeting or event may use the website. The Inspiration Gallery has photos that present Marriott’s creative ideas, while the Expert Tips & Trends section includes information on all aspects of meetings, including food, ambiance, social icebreakers and room layout, and offers options for any budget. Event planners can also find Marriott’s best experiences from around the world.

The Meetings Imagined website works as a platform to portray Marriott’s pipeline of innovations within the MICE space and solicit forward-thinking ideas from meeting planners and delegates.

Marriott International has also launched a Meeting Services App that includes a chat function enabling MICE organisers to connect with Marriott’s event team before and during the event. This allows Marriott to respond immediately to any issues or requests, and to inform the planner of how the request is being handled.

The Meeting Services App is a continuation of Marriott International’s innovation in technology, spaces and services, and builds upon the brand’s existing offerings.

As of this year, the Meeting Services App is available in 20 languages and available at 100 hotels under Marriott Hotels, JW Marriott, Renaissance, The Ritz-Carlton, Autograph Collection and Courtyard by Marriott across the region. The app will be available to meeting planners who use Marriott’s facilities through the following brand names:

- Marriott Hotels: Red Coat Direct
- JW Marriott: JW Event Concierge
- Renaissance: R.E.N. Meetings Expert
- The Ritz-Carlton: ((chime))
- Autograph Collection: Meeting Services App
- Courtyard by Marriott: Courtyard Connect


Virtual Reality Campaign Puts Brisbane Winter at Forefront of Cool


In an Australian tourism first, Brisbane will use pioneering Google Cardboard technology to give Melbournians the chance to experience the city's urban cool renaissance in virtual reality.
Brisbane invites shoppers at Prahran Markets to escape the winter inside pop-up Brisbane Bubbles this Saturday (27 June) and experience the warm hospitality and sunny disposition of Brisbane locals.
By stepping inside the giant inflatable bubbles, visitors will get to participate in six 'must-do' Brisbane experiences via Google Cardboard - the innovative device which transforms any personal mobile into a virtual reality headset.
Tourism and Events Queensland CEO, Leanne Coddington, said Brisbane's enviable winter lifestyle and diverse calendar of events would be showcased through the lens of Google Cardboard.
“The virtual reality initiative invites Sydney and Melbourne residents to escape the winter chill and explore Brisbane by abseiling down Kangaroo Point Cliffs, going to a local live music gig, enjoying the city's thriving dining and entertainment precincts or attending one of our exclusive events,” Ms Coddington said.
“This partnership with Google Cardboard is an authentic and engaging way to connect with our southern neighbours and invite them north this winter.”

Lisa Bora, Head of Mobile at Google Australia, said: “We're delighted to see such a creative use of technology, which will give people a taste of Queensland.”
The six virtual reality experiences range from Sunday sessions in the outdoors, to sunset abseiling, running onto the grounds at Suncorp Stadium and watching a live gig at former Powderfinger bassist's new watering hole, The Triffid.
Fittingly, the virtual reality campaign aims to bring to life Brisbane's diverse experiences and reveal its hidden depths by tapping into this thirst for immersive experiences.
While viewing the videos via the Google Cardboard technology offers the best experience, the six Brisbane videos can also be experienced via desktop or android devices with YouTube's recently released 360 video format. As long as viewers are using a Chrome browser or android app, they can experience Brisbane in 360 by simply visiting the Visit Brisbane YouTube Channel.

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Mary Poppins Magic Returns! Chim Chiminy, Chim Chiminy, Chim Chim Chiree


Visitors to the Fraser Coast will be swept up in the magic of Mary Poppins this July when Queensland's most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious festival fills the town of Maryborough with its magic.   Now in its 8th year this eclectic festival is held in honour of the Maryborough born author of Mary Poppins, Pamela Travers, whose story was brought to life recently in the Disney production, Saving Mr Banks. 
This quirky festival transforms the heritage streetscapes of Maryborough into Cherry Tree Lane of the Poppins novels and characters come to life, including Mary Poppins and Admiral Boom, who fires his time cannon throughout the day.  In 2014, LA Times listed Maryborough's Mary Poppins Festival as one of the world's best 'off beat' events not to be missed, and we couldn't agree more. Highlights of the day include:

  • Dress up in your finest and bring your most amazing hat or umbrella to join in the Grand Parade.
  • Enjoy a cuppa maybe with that spoonful of sugar and the performances by talented locals at the Mary Morning Tea concert.
  • Witness the madcap Great Nanny Challenge, where participants dress up in traditional nanny uniform and push a traditional pram, complete with a traditional 'baby'. (Note: No 'babies' are harmed in the making of this race)
  • The call is also out for people to dress up and take part in the hilarious Chimney Sweep Challenge for the young and young at heart. Remember when you're with a 'sweep, you're in glad company'. 
  • A special focus this year is on interactive craft experiences for the kids and there will be loads of children's workshops filled with hands-on, creative sessions involving puppets, circus troupes, arty umbrellas, vintage styling makeovers and more.


The Mary Poppins Festival has also acted as the catalyst for the introduction of Fraser Coast Street Life, a festival that celebrates the inspiring art, culture and heritage of the region.  The inaugural Street Life Festival will take art and culture 'to the streets'.  From pop-up gigs and busking competitions, to chalk art in the street and Mary Poppins:  the Musical - Fraser Coast Street life is an eclectic assembly of the region's culture and art.
Maryborough 'The Heritage city' is 284 km north-west of Brisbane, about 3 hours' drive by car but can be reached by train, plane bus or car.  More information on Maryborough and accommodation options head to visit:www.visitfrasercoast.com
So pull out the umbrella and head to http://www.marypoppinsfestival.com.au/ for more information.

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AccorHotels Adds to Sunshine Coast Portfolio With Addition of the Sebel Pelican Waters Golf Resort & Spa


AccorHotels has increased its presence on the Sunshine Coast, today announcing the addition of a new upscale address, The Sebel Pelican Waters Golf Resort & Spa, in Caloundra.

The property, formerly the Pelican Waters Golf Resort & Spa, is AccorHotel's fifth for the region, and will commence operation under The Sebel brand in late July. The resort will complement AccorHotels network of existing hotels on the Sunshine Coast - The Sebel Noosa, The Sebel Maroochydore, the Grand Mercure Apartments Twin Waters and iconic Novotel Twin Waters Resort.

Simon Ambrose, CEO at Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd said, “The branding of Pelican Waters to The Sebel is great news for the Sunshine Coast as it brings a renowned hotel brand to the region. The Sebel brand resinates strongly with the leisure and conference markets, both in Australia and internationally."

Located just 90 minutes by road from Brisbane and 40 minutes from the Sunshine Coast Airport, The Sebel Pelican Waters Golf Resort & Spa is situated on a championship golf course and offers 76 resort rooms (which include spa suites and one and two bedroom apartment options). The Sebel also offers a day spa, swimming pool plus restaurant and bar options.

A popular wedding and conference destination, the resort includes a selection of outdoor and indoor events spaces, including six meeting rooms with capacity for up to 320 people theatre style, or 350 guests for a cocktail reception.

With the addition of The Sebel Pelican Waters Golf Resort & Spa, The Sebel network now boasts 24 properties across Australia and New Zealand, accommodating the Accor group's apartment portfolio whilst also maintaining a traditional hotel and resort offering to meet current consumer demands.

Earlier this year, Accor announced two more new addresses for The Sebel brand in Victoria and Queensland with The Sebel South Brisbane (now open) and upcoming $35 million waterfront project, The Sebel Yarrawonga.

The Sebel is Accor's premier hotels and apartments brand offering guests a greater level of independence and control. With over 23 properties across Australia and New Zealand, The Sebel network provides traditional hotel service and apartments that meet the modern guest's expectations.

The Sebel Town House first opened its doors in Sydney over 50 years ago and since then the brand has become known for its well-trained staff and excellence in customer service. For more information, visit www.thesebel.com




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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Landmark Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia Agreement Provides A$50M Boost for Australian Tourism



Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia have announced their intent to renew their ongoing relationship which will see the two parties jointly spend A$50 million over the next five years promoting Australia to leisure and business travellers in key international markets.

Etihad_TA_Virgin.jpg

(L to R) Etihad’s Lindsay White, Tourism Australia’s John O’Sullivan, and Virgin Australia’s Mark Hassell

The new deal represents the largest ever commercial arrangement Tourism Australia has entered into with an airline partner and builds on a successful existing three year arrangement with Virgin Australia.

Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O'Sullivan, said the new agreement will provide valuable support for Tourism Australia's global campaigns and marketing activities, as well as some of the industry's most important trade and business events.

“Building strong and sustainable relationships with our airline partners has become a key plank in our growth strategy and nowhere has this approach been more productive than in our evolving partnership with Virgin Australia, particularly some of the great recent work we've been doing together in the United States.

“At A$50 million this is a very significant deal in financial terms and also in its scope, covering marketing campaigns, trade and business events as well as media hosting he said.

As one of Australia's largest airlines, with a network of 47 domestic destinations and more than 450 destinations worldwide, Virgin Australia plays an important role in facilitating the travel of international visitors to and around Australia.

Virgin Australia Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti said: “Virgin Australia recognises the importance of working closely with Tourism Australia to promote this great country to the world. This renewed deal demonstrates a significant increase in our investment and commitment to inbound tourism.

“In recent years we have captured the attention of international audiences through major campaigns and tourism initiatives including 'Someday' and 'Restaurant Australia', the largest campaign ever run by Tourism Australia in the United States.

“Virgin Australia is fortunate to have four of the best airline partners in the world – Air New Zealand, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines – all of whom are invested in supporting Australia's growth as a business and leisure destination. We look forward to working closely with our partners and Tourism Australia to market Australia on the world stage in innovative and powerful ways”, Mr Borghetti said.

The primary marketing focus of the deal will be the United States, Australia's fourth largest inbound market, currently worth more than A$2.6 billion in annual tourism expenditure and predicted to grow up to A$5.5 billion by 2020.

In addition, the agreement will cover targeted support for Tourism Australia's premier trade and business events program, including continued support of Australia's largest tourism and trade events, Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) and Dreamtime. Virgin Australia will also host travel for international and domestic influential visitors such as media, delegates and business and trade decision makers.

Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia formalised their commercial partnership in May 2012 and have worked together on a number of key joint marketing activities since, including 'Restaurant Australia' and last year's award-winning 'Someday' campaign in the United States.


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The Expeditionist
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