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Monday, February 29, 2016

Brand New Calls In Chile, Peru And Guatemala Set For Crystal 2017 World Cruise



Annual epic journey charting new courses through South America, offers guests comprehensive exploration of the region

The world's most awarded luxury cruise line continues to explore the world in new ways, calling in new locales, even for its 22nd annual World Cruise in 2017.  Four new ports, to be precise, are part of Crystal Serenity's "Southern Celebración" voyage (which sails in full, 94 days round-trip from Miami on 10 January 2017). The marathon journey travels an intensive route through some of the most historically and culturally rich cities and ports in Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, the Caribbean and even Antarctica, offering travellers an ideal opportunity to explore the storied region thoroughly, calling the luxurious award-winning Crystal ship "home base" along the way.

"Whether one is venturing to a region for the first time or is seeking new ways to explore long-beloved destinations, there are always new places to see and new cultures to encounter," says Crystal president and CEO Edie Rodriguez. "The 2017 World Cruise voyages offer guests the valuable opportunity to experience a diverse and holistic journey, with the varied history and traditions among the countries visited, while also fully engaging with the customs and beauty of South America as a region."



Crystal's maiden call destinations on the 2017 World Cruise are:

Santo Tomás de Castilla – Set along the Caribbean coastline between Honduras and Belize, this relatively remote spot boasts a down-to-earth atmosphere that will give travellers a glimpse of the authentic Guatemalan lifestyle, complete with rugged adventures, ancient UNESCO-listed Mayan ruins, and exotic foliage and wildlife at one's fingertips. Among the ways to immerse oneself in the local culture are snorkelling, horseback riding on the beach and kayaking in the warm coastal waters.

Matarani – The small fishing port of Matarani is your gateway to one of the most stunning spots on the Peruvian map: Arequipa, the UNESCO-listed town surrounded by three volcanoes, each towering at heights of around 20,000 feet. An adventurous, architectural and intellectual hub, Arequipa boasts a pretty town centre featuring brilliant white buildings made of volcanic stone called sillar, and famously draws thinkers and diplomats, along with climbers and adventurers to its iconic sites.

Iquique – Iquique's mining history evokes a vibe reminiscent of the American Old-West, while restored Georgian and Victorian architecture, duty-free shopping, wide swaths of beach and a sea with terrific surfing and paragliding, balance the atmosphere with that of a classically welcoming Latin beach community.

Castro Island (Chiloé) – Situated on the island of Chiloé, Castro is Chile's third oldest city in continued existence. Castro's history is tangible and resplendent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, its palafitos, or traditional wooden houses built on stilts, and renowned archaeological and contemporary art museums showcasing the island's diverse and innovative culture.

Crystal's 2017 "Southern Celebración" World Cruise is also available for booking in six segments of 10 to 26 days, with all-inclusive segment cruise fares starting at US$4,190* per person double occupancy including all taxes when booked by 29 February 2016. All-inclusive full World Cruise fares begin at US$38,645** per person double occupancy including all taxes when booked by 29 February 2016 Full World Cruisers also enjoy special amenities, including exclusive events on board and ashore, specially selected gifts, private chauffeured transfers between the ship and airport, and US$1,000 per person in "As You Wish" shipboard credits. Additional savings are also available for first-time Crystal guests, as well as returning Crystal Society members.


For More Information

For a brochure or additional information, contact Wiltrans International on:
1800 251 174 (Australia) or 0800 446 376 (New Zealand)

http://www.crystalcruises.com/

Jessica Watson OAM cooking up a storm at MTA 2016 National Conference


MTA – Mobile Travel Agents brand ambassador Jessica Watson OAM is no stranger to a challenge.

It's a well know fact she has single-handedly circumnavigated the world, danced with the stars on national television, captained Sydney-Hobart yacht races in atrocious conditions and volunteered to work with youngsters in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, one of her many charitable causes.

Mobile Travel Agents’ Brand Ambassador, Jessica Watson OAM
But Jessica's latest challenge at the MTA 'Power of Community' National Conference from 04-06 March has her taking on a completely new role.

In addition to her ambassadorial activities and assisting helping MC Dan Gregory throughout the conference, Jessica will also be donning chefs' whites to assist celebrity chef Lance Seeto cook at a 'conference wind down' family fun event MTA has planned on Sunday, 06 March at Broadwater Parklands.

Chef Seeto, head chef at Fiji's Mana Island Resort and a close friend of MTA co-managing directors, Roy and Karen Merricks, has planned a Fijian style BBQ on the day with Fiji's national dish 'Kokoda' (pronounced Kokonda) top of the menu as a special treat for those MTA Members and their families attending the event.

Australian-born Chef Seeto is high profile on the Pacific culinary scene.

An award-winning international food and travel writer, author, television presenter and life foods chef, he is credited with single-handedly igniting a culinary revolution across Fiji and has been integral in getting its people, restaurants and tourism partners to think differently about Fiji's tropical island cuisine.

Chef Seeto is also the country's first Culinary Ambassador to Fiji Airways with his signature business class dishes appearing across the airline's international network.

"While not known as a Gordon Ramsay type chef, none the less Lance is a perfectionist so we hope Jessica can rise to the challenge," Karen Merricks said.

"If she doesn't, no matter - we know Lance will keep her pretty busy with all the washing up after the event."

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Secret Retreats adds 5 new properties to the Collection


Secret Retreats expands to 15 Asian countries with the addition of 5 new properties to the Collection


Secret Retreats is delighted to start 2016 with the inclusion of 5 exquisite new properties to the Collection. These additions expand the Secret Retreats' portfolio into 15 Asian countries (with the first property member in Sri Lanka) to now host 75 beautiful, boutique properties across the region. Showcasing a unique range of luxury offerings that includes hotels, inns, camps, cruises, villas and restaurants, the Secret Retreats Collection maintains an unwavering focus on authentic travel experiences and high-end quality coupled with a commitment towards sustainability and eco-tourism.

"With the addition of Sri Lanka as a new destination in our collection, Secret Retreats is now present in every country around Asia. Our goal to gather the 100 best small boutique hotels across Asia is getting closer. We are now concentrating our efforts in the preparation of packages combining our properties and on a foundation to support sustainable actions initiated by our members."  — Stéphane Junca, Director of Secret Retreats


Secret Retreats 5 new members:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Bringing a bit of ‘Chelsea’ to Mercure Brisbane




A new on trend, alfresco venue 'Chelsea Lane' has just opened at Mercure Brisbane. Expected to be popular with millennials and event planners looking for a hip outdoor venue, over $200k has been spent on the laneway to bring a touch of 'Made in Chelsea' to Brisbane.

The venue has been ingeniously created between the ibis and Mercure Brisbane, in the thoroughfare that was once used as a bus or taxi drop-off and pick-up point.

General Manager of Mercure Brisbane, Grant Parnell said: "We're delighted to open this new chic addition to our function spaces to complement our existing ballroom and provide a larger more energised, ambient and youthful space.

"The alfresco styled venue is prominent to passers-by, creating appeal with living greenery and bamboo planting to ensure a relaxed environment for event-goers to spread out."

Under the direction of InDesign International, one-off custom made retro pieces and industrial styling including metal and wood high top and low benches add personality. Rusted light board letters illuminate the wall with a honeycomb trellis, all finished off with bamboo planting and palm planting.

The spacious new lane will accommodate up to 120 people and is expected to be popular for standing cocktail functions, launch parties and local exhibitions.

To celebrate, the hotel is hosting an opening special, be one of the first to book an event in Chelsea Lane during 2016 and receive a 10% rebate on all food and beverage spend.*

With health, wellbeing and sustainability increasingly top of mind when booking a function, Chelsea Lane will offer healthy menus and wellness options, in line with Mercure's new Mindful Meetings concept. Mindful Meetings are also carbon neutral as part of AccorHotels Planet 21 program and the group's commitment to sustainable development to protect our planet, people and environment.

To enquire about booking an event in Chelsea Lane contact Conference and Event Sales Manager on Tel 07 3237 2320 or H1750-SB@accor.com.

Schoolies spread thier wings overseas, early


Overseas school-leaver holidays skyrocketing at start of booking season.

It's booking season for Schoolies and interest has boomed, with Unleashed Travel - Australia's leading provider of overseas travel packages for school leavers - selling nearly 1400 of its packages in the first 15 minutes of their release to the public.

Unleashed Travel's growth figures reveal a spike in island hopping in Fiji, already up 35 per cent compared with 2015; European coach travel, which is more than doubling in capacity; and the newly launched Vanuatu Adventure Grad Trip, highlighting an adventurous shift in our youth's priorities when it comes to celebrating the end of their schooling. 

Jot Lynas, Unleashed Travel CEO, says, "We've had a waiting list of students build up in the two-to-three weeks pre-launch, and it was encouraging to see that so many teens, having heard so much about the anti-social behaviour at the Gold Coast and in Bali, have chosen to experience new cultures and more rewarding holidays. The strong bookings for our 2016 packages are proof of that."

"The shocking documentary television series 'What really happens in Bali' gave viewers unprecedented access to underage drunken rampages that was enough to embarrass a nation and for our youth to turn their back on mirroring those stereotypes. Not every teen wants to spend a whole week avoiding creepy toolies and nursing a constant hangover, which is why these packages are becoming so popular. "

With bookings for 2016 packages already skyrocketing, Lynas has forecasted the strongest trends for schoolies next year. "Bookings for 2016 Fiji packages are already up by 35 per cent compared to last year, proving that Island destinations will continue to go from strength to strength. The recently launched Vanuatu Adventure Grad Trip is also showing enormous interest among Year 11s who are booking in advance for next year."

Having organised holidays for more than 14,000 school-leavers, Unleashed Travel has compiled its data to reveal the top three school-leaver travel trends for 2016:

Island Hopping:  "Due to its close proximity to Australia, Fiji has become a hot spot especially for teens on the east coast looking to escape Australia after the HSC," says Jot. Mana Island and Plantation Island offer teens accommodation and activities like parasailing, scuba diving, jet skiing, volleyball, international DJs, pool parties and day boat trips to surf breaks.

European Coaches: Huge demand from teens for the European Coach Grad Trip, where teens visit 10 countries in 21 days, has prompted Unleashed Travel to increase the capacity for this package by 150 per cent and is looking to increase this even further in 2016. "Europe is now a real option for schoolies and bookings for 2016 are already flowing a year and half out."

Emerging Destination: Unleashed Travel has recently launched a new Vanuatu Adventure Package for 2016 and is receiving high demand for the voyage. To eliminate predators known as schoolies, young teens can feel safe on the coral-fringed Hideaway Island in Vanuatu, a five-minute boat ride from the mainland, into an intimate party haven with 130 school-leavers exclusively filling the resort. "With snorkel tours, scuba diving trips to the coral gardens along with Mele village and Cascade Falls tours available, there's enough activity to satisfy the most adventurous teens," says Jot.

For more information on Unleashed Travel packages, visit http://www.unleashedtravel.com.au



AccorHotels continues expansion in Southern Thailand with three hotels



Partnering with Avista Resort and Spa Patong Company Limited to grow Novotel and MGallery portfolio

AccorHotels and Avista Resort and Spa Patong Company Limited have signed an agreement for AccorHotels to manage three properties in Phuket. Two resorts will be rebranded as Novotel Phuket Kata Avista Resort and Spa and Avista Hidewaway Phuket Patong, MGallery on April 1, while another newly-built Avista Grande Phuket Karon, MGallery will open in 2018. AccorHotels presently manages 16 hotels and resorts across Southern Thailand. The announcement brings the Group’s upcoming pipeline in the area to 10 properties, and reaffirms its commitment to meeting growing demand there.

“AccorHotels is proud to partner with Avista to manage three hotels in Phuket. As more guests visit the ever-popular island, they increasingly seek choice and consistency,” said Mr Patrick Basset, AccorHotels’ Chief Operating Officer for Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia. “Each MGallery luxury hotel features a unique identity and story through its architecture, interior design and services. Novotel is well-known for its spacious rooms and service standards that stand apart in the midscale segment. Both brands are well positioned to cater to Phuket’s diverse guests, particularly as the island further develops its infrastructure and attractions.”

The 150 room Avista Hideaway Phuket Patong, MGallery is an easy escape, located two minutes’ walk from Patong beach and Jungceylon Shopping Centre. The hotel features two restaurants, two bars, one meeting room, a business centre, three swimming pools, and a spa, fitness centre and kid’s club.

Novotel Phuket Kata Avista Resort and Spa, located five minutes’ walk to Kata Beach, offers 143 rooms, one restaurant, two bars, two meeting rooms, and a business centre, swimming pool, fitness centre and kid’s club.

Avista Grande Phuket Karon, MGallery is scheduled to have 160 rooms, one restaurant, three bars, two meeting rooms and a swimming pool, business centre and kid’s club. The resort will be located a 10 minute drive from Patong’s shopping and entertainment area.

Monday, February 22, 2016

AccorHotels Opens First Lifestyle Hotel with Branded Residence in Asia


Singapore-listed lifestyle property developer, Oxley Holdings Limited (“Oxley”) has announced it will launch a 207-room So Sofitel Hotel and 590-key So Sofitel Residence in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The So Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will be AccorHotels' first lifestyle branded residence in Asia. Both the hotel and residence will be part of a large-scale mixed-use development that will include an office tower, retail mall and two luxury hotels with residences.

So Sofitel is AccorHotels' bold, playful lifestyle brand that breaks traditional luxury codes with a designer focus. The brand attracts the young, affluent traveller seeking a more avant-garde, fashion-led and more social hotel experience.

“We are pleased to work with AccorHotels and its renowned So Sofitel brand to design a hotel and a residence that will stand apart from more traditional luxury properties,” said Mr Ching Chiat Kwong, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Oxley. “AccorHotels will bring almost 50 years of expertise to the project to attract a more international audience and provide a guarantee of quality.”

The So Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Hotel and the So Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will boast one of the best locations in the Malaysian capital, right in the center of the KLCC area, within a short walk of the Petronas Towers and the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The hotel facilities will include four inspired food and beverage outlets, an extensive pool with deck and terrace, So Fit gym, So Spa, signature Club Lounge, business centre and several function and event spaces.

The So Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Residences will feature a lounge, extensive gym with studio and yoga room, an adults' pool, separate kids' pool, games room, kids playground, a function room and sky gardens offering the opportunity for the residents to welcome their own guests around a barbecue while soaking in fantastic views over the Kuala Lumpur skyline. Residents will have the privileges to enjoy a la carte services including housekeeping, room service, laundry services and concierge services provided by the So Sofitel Hotel.

Oxley says the residential development is targeting a younger, affluent audience looking for a more modern and vibrant investment, in the center of one of Asia's main hubs.

Oxley is also the owner of the combined Novotel and Ibis development currently being built along Stevens Road, which will add a total of 782 rooms to Singapore's tourism infrastructure.

“We are delighted to partner with Oxley for the development of the So Sofitel Hotel and Residences Kuala Lumpur,” said Michael Issenberg, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels Asia Pacific. “Oxley has a reputation for building quality projects and we are pleased they have entrusted us with this landmark development after working with us on the Novotel and Ibis development on Stevens Road, Singapore.”

The So Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Hotel will join an exclusive collection of truly outstanding boutique luxury hotels including the Sofitel So Singapore, Sofitel So Bangkok, Sofitel So Mauritius and recently opened So Sofitel Hua Hin in Thailand. The project is set to open in 2020.

Nanuku in full clean-up mode – aiming to host guests from 01 March





Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji general manager, Mark Stanford has advised while his resort is "a bit of a mess right now" with the resort's gardens and beachfront bearing the brunt of TC Winston over the weekend, the resort has not suffered structural damage and is aiming to be ready to resume full operations as early as 01 March 2016.

Mr Stanford said his first inspection of the resort on Sunday morning with his engineering team revealed extensive damage to the resort's foreshore by huge wind-driven waves and several trees had been uprooted and general foliage and plants flattened.

The bure at the resort's nearby private airstrip was also damaged in the storm

"But apart from some bamboo fencing on the resort, it appears our club house and villas have all escaped structural damage which makes us very lucky indeed," Mr Stanford said.

Having been given advance notice by the Fijian government's meteorological services, Mr Stanford and his well-rehearsed management team took swift action to evacuate guests and ensure all staff were safely with their families before putting the resort under protective wraps as the cyclone bore down on the Pacific Harbour region.

"We are in already in full clean-up mode and we doing all in our power to hopefully be ready to accept our guests and resume full service by 01 March," Mr Stanford said.

Mr Stanford cautioned that while his team is pulling out all the stops, several factors still need to be  taken into account.

"Our staffing levels have been impacted with many of our team having gone home to be with their families and locally sourced supplies will definitely be affected in the short term," he said.

"Most importantly of all, we need to ensure we are able to operate in a completely safe and comfortable environment.

'While this was cyclone was one of the biggest, if not the biggest to ever hit Fiji, the Fijian people are extremely resilient and very used to this type of situation – and no more so than at Nanuku where our staff are once again demonstrating their wonderful spirit in the face of adversary."


W:          http://nanuku.aubergeresorts.com

F:            www.facebook.com/Nanuku-Auberge-Resort

TC Winston: ALL VISITORS ARE SAFE IN FIJI



ISSUED ON BEHALF OF TOURISM FIJI

RE TROPICAL CYCLONE WINSTON



Sunday, 21 February 2016 PM



ALL VISITORS ARE SAFE IN FIJI

The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism, Hon. Faiyaz Siddiq Koya has assured all friends and families of guests currently visiting Fiji that all visitors are safe and comfortable.

Minister Koya stated that all properties have taken all necessary precautions and actions to ensure that their guests are safe and are taken good care of.

"Furthermore, there are no reports of any significant structural damage to the majority of hotels in Viti Levu, except for some properties in the Rakiraki area" said the Minister.

"We understand that friends and families are very concerned, however, we request everyone to remain calm. Cyclone Winston has caused extensive damage to the communications infrastructure, hence, mobile and Internet communications in some parts of Fiji maybe affected. However, communication is active in Suva, Nadi, Denarau and along the Coral Coast", added Minister Koya.

Furthermore, the Hon. Minister stated that as soon as flights resume, Fiji Airways will prioritise guests who want to go back home and flights are expected to be normalized by Monday, 22 February 2016.

Minister stated that tourism remains a key and important industry for Fiji and this setback will not curb the enthusiasm and the warm hospitality Fiji is renowned for.

Tourism Fiji is providing updates via Twitter.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

ACI releases 2016 Asia-Pacific Travel & Hospitality Industry Salary and Employment Trends Report


Key indicators :

-  77 percent of respondents received a pay increase in the past 12 months

-  44 percent of hiring managers expect new headcounts in 2016

-  47 percent of respondents said they would be changing employers in 2016

-  55 percent higher salary for male respondents than female respondents


Singapore, 22 February 2016 – Launching the ACI HR Solutions 2016 Travel and Hospitality Industry Salary and Employment Trends Report, company Founder & CEO, Andrew Chan said all indicators point towards the travel and hospitality industry bucking the doom and gloom forecasts seen in other industries with encouraging signs showing 44 percent of sector hiring managers actually expecting new headcounts in 2016.

Mr Chan said that while most thinking revolved around slightly modest industry growth in the coming year, as opposed to previous years, the 2016 survey results undoubtedly indicated positive market conditions.

"As in the previous surveys we have conducted since 2012, salary continues to be an important factor for candidates," Mr Chan said.

"A total of 41 percent indicated they would need to see 11 to 22 percent salary increase when considering a new job.

"Notwithstanding, the importance of career development was also similar to recent results with a total of 69 percent of all respondents indicating that career progression was either 'extremely important' or 'very important' and only five (5) percent saying career progression was unimportant."

In a worrying trend, the report shows 30 percent of respondents felt career prospects with their present employer were 'poor' or 'zero' compared to 26 percent from last year's survey, this percentage increasing for the third year running.

Perhaps more alarming for employers, 47 percent of respondents indicated that they would change employers in 2016, with a further 12 percent contemplating leaving the industry altogether.

Launched in January, the survey this year attracted just over 700 respondents from nine Asia Pacific countries ranging from company CEOs, managing directors and general managers through to middle management and front line staff.

The largest proportion of respondents (57 percent) was based in Singapore with Hong Kong (11 percent), China (6 percent) and Malaysia (5 percent) also providing strong samples.

Much of the recent years' salary gains in Singapore and Indonesia seem to have contracted with a decline of -15 percent and -30 percent respectively.

More modest increases were seen by Thailand (12 percent), Malaysia (8 per cent) and Hong Kong (4 percent) in this year's report.

On actual highest average salaries from the survey, that once again belonged to Macau with (U$109,621), followed by Hong Kong (U$85,596). Indonesia posted the survey's lowest average salary (U$44,492).

The full report can be downloaded at http://www.acihr.com/salary-report.

For more information, please contact Andrew Chan directly via email at andrew@acihr.com

 
Visit:  www.acihr.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACIHRSolutions


Buckets of Sydney and New South Wales - new twist on 'Bucket-List' Experiences


Many holidaymakers might consider seeing Sydney's iconic Harbour as a 'bucket-list' experience but they will be surprised to discover Sydney and New South Wales (NSW) have bucket loads on offer this Summer – just think buckets of prawns, fishing buckets, champagne buckets, sand buckets and bucket hats.

Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase, said that Sydney and NSW offers such a variety of holiday experiences visitors will want to return to experience them all.

“Visiting New South Wales and Sydney shouldn't be a once-in-a-lifetime 'bucket-list' experience. Visitors will want to return time and time again to experience everything from beachside sojourns to fresh produce, and fine dining, and country idylls,” says Ms Sandra Chipchase.

To help holidaymakers plan their trip, Destination NSW has compiled a list of 'bucket-list' experiences that visitors will definitely want to repeat:

Bucket of prawns

Nothing says Summer in Sydney like a leisurely lunch over a bucket of locally-caught prawns. For an extravagant journey, catch a seaplane from Rose Bay to Palm Beach flying over the Harbour and along the coast above Sydney's gorgeous Northern Beaches. Dine at The Boat House, located on the wharf where the seaplanes land, to enjoy generous buckets of prawns looking out over Barrenjoey Headland and across Pittwater. After lunch, walk across the narrow peninsula from the still, enclosed waters of Pittwater to take a dip in the surf at Palm Beach.

If you prefer to eat al fresco head to Sydney Fish Market to fill your own bucket with prawns for the perfect Summer beachside picnic. Sydney Fish Market is the largest working fish market in the Southern Hemisphere. It's home to Sydney's fishing fleet, made up of ocean fish and deep water prawn trawlers, which bring home the catch daily.

Fill your own bucket at a farmgate

Visitors keen to see more of NSW can head down the South Coast to Clyde River Farm, located 45 minutes out of Ulladulla. Upon arrival, guests are provided with a bucket that they can fill by hand picking an assortment of fresh blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. Clyde River Farm is open daily December to January.

Stay on in Ulladulla to explore the beautiful coastal walks and beaches atMurramarang National Park, between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay. Head to Mollymook Beach, a two kilometre stretch of golden sands, to stay at the newly-opened Bannisters Pavilion or Bannisters by the Sea, home to Rick Stein's famous seafood restaurant.

On the Mid North Coast, try Ricardoes Tomatoes & Strawberries located just ten minutes north of Port Macquarie. Visitors can fill a bucket with plump ripe tomatoes and strawberries grown in environmentally-friendly greenhouses. The farmgate is open daily.

Fishing buckets

New South Wales is home to more than 2,137 kilometres of coastline, making the State a fishing paradise. Join a fishing tour with Port Macquarie Fishing Charters in the Hastings River or a deep sea fishing trip off the coast in the Pacific Ocean. Charters regularly catch Snapper, Pearl Perch, Kingfish and Mullaway. The tour includes all fishing gear, bait and tackle, food and drinks, expert help – they'll even clean your catch!

Port Macquarie's temperate climate makes it a great summer holiday destination. Stay at Sails Resort Port Macquarie and make time to visit Sea Acres National Park to travel its 1.3 kilometre accessible elevated rainforest boardwalk and explore one of the largest, least disturbed and most diverse coastal rainforests in NSW.

Buckets of beers or champagne buckets?

After a long, hot day, nothing is better than sharing a bucket of beers with a group of friends. The Beach Burrito Company offers buckets of cool beers to end a day at the beach at their Coogee, Bondi and Cronulla locations. If a champagne bucket is more your style, head to Bondi's The Bucket List where you can enjoy a glass of sparkling in the bar in the Bondi Pavilion overlooking world-famous Bondi beach.

Add another 'bucket-list' experience to the day by learning to surf with Let's Go Surfing. Located at North Bondi Beach, the surf school offers two hour beginners lessons that will get you standing up on your first wave in no time.

Sand buckets and buckets of water

Summer is the perfect time to pack a sand bucket and head to the beach, be it a city beach such as Bronte or Tamarama; a hidden beach such as North Harbour's Reef Beach; or a regional beach such as Avoca or Terrigal. New South Wales offers 877 beaches to choose from.

But buckets of water-fun is not just limited to the Coast. Jambaroo in Kiama,Wet'n'Wild at Prospect, Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre in Western Sydney, and theBig 4 Dubbo Parklands in the State's Central West all feature giant tipping water buckets in their water parks. It's the perfect cool-down for kids, and big kids who want to make a splash!

Share your favourite 'bucket-list' experiences in NSW with Destination NSW by tagging #ilovesydney and #NewSouthWales.

For more information on experiences, attractions and accommodation in Sydney and NSW, go to sydney.com and visitnsw.com


Traveloscopy | 

United Airlines Celebrates 30 Years of Service to Australia


Airline looks to the future as it will become an all-Dreamliner airline on the trans-Pacific route between Australia and the U.S.

United Airlines has celebrated 30 years of proudly offering customers consistent and convenient access between Australia and the United States, since the inaugural flight UA815 from Los Angeles landed at Sydney on February 12, 1986. Today, United offers Australian customers more than 200 daily connections via its San Francisco and Los Angeles hubs to over 90 destinations across the U.S.


Alison Espley, United's Managing Director of Japan and Pacific Sales, said: “We've proven over the last three decades that we are committed to the Australian market and to ensuring that we deliver flyer-friendly services to our customers. As we celebrate this great milestone, we thank our customers and business partners in Australia for their continued support. We also recognise and thank our dedicated employees for their outstanding work, without which this achievement would not be possible.”

Julie Reid, United's Director of Australia and New Zealand Sales, said: “Australia continues to be one of the most important international markets for United. Whether through our extensive flight network, our award-winning frequent flyer program or our customer-empowering technology, we are committed to continuing our investment in this region and re-emphasising our dedication to our Australian customers. We're already looking forward to celebrating our 60th anniversary!”

In 2016, United not only celebrates its 30th anniversary of serving Australia but also becomes an all-Dreamliner airline on the trans-Pacific route. United will replace the current Boeing 777-200 aircraft with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for flights between Sydney and both Los Angeles and San Francisco, effective March 27 and March 28, 2016 respectively. The Boeing 787-9 already operates the airline's Melbourne-Los Angeles nonstop service.

United's commitment to the region was underlined with the announcement in October 2015 that it will launch nonstop Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner flights between Auckland and San Francisco on July 3, 2016 (eastbound), subject to government approval.

The 787 Dreamliner is revolutionising the flying experience for United customers and crews while delivering unprecedented operating efficiency, comfort and lower emissions. Customers experience greater comfort with improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and enhanced ventilation systems, among other passenger-friendly features.


Traveloscopy | 

There Is More to See, Do and Love in Regional NSW

The spectacular scenery, world-class food and wine experiences and exciting festivals and special events across Regional NSW will be showcased to more than 2.5 million people from this Sunday when a 40 page full colour tourism magazine is distributed across Australia and New Zealand.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said the magazine, produced by the State's tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, will highlight Australia's most geographically diverse State and encourage visitors to take a short break in Regional NSW.

“Supporting Regional NSW is one of our leading priorities and tourism plays an important role in NSW's regional economy,” Mr Ayres said.

“In the year ending September 2015, tourism in NSW was worth more than $30.2 billion in international and domestic overnight and day trip visitor expenditure.

“These extraordinary figures reflect the work that the NSW Government is doing to increase overnight visitor expenditure and this new tourism magazine will shine a bright light on the many things to see and do across Regional NSW.”

The magazine will feature new holiday packages as well as key themes such as romantic escapes, NSW aquatic and coastal experiences, festival and event highlights, food and wine experiences and Aboriginal culture, just to name a few.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said the magazine will provide readers from across the country with added inspiration to explore Australia's number one tourism and events State.

“Regional NSW is in a unique position in Australia to offer visitors the largest combination of geographic diversity, climates and visitor experiences that are both unique and compelling,” Ms Chipchase said.

“Those planning a holiday or weekend escape should look no further than Regional NSW and discover that there's more to love in NSW.”

The Your Guide to Regional NSW insert will be distributed in major newspapers from Sunday 21 February and will be distributed in New Zealand on 28 February.

The insert will be available to download from Sunday 21 February at: www.visitnsw.com/travel-guides-apps.

AccorHotels Debuts Novotel on the Beaches of Samui


AccorHotels announces the opening of Novotel Samui Resort Chaweng Beach Kandaburi, the first Novotel on the island of Samui in Thailand. Located on a quiet stretch of Chaweng Beach, the resort is only five minutes away from the island's most popular shopping and nightlife destinations and 10 minutes from Samui International Airport.

“Complete with beautiful white-sand beaches, stunning blue seas and a range of activities, Samui is the premier destination in the Gulf of Thailand. We are proud to introduce the first Novotel on Samui, which is recognised as one of the region's fastest growing resort destinations,” said Mr. Patrick Basset, Chief Operating Officer for AccorHotels Upper Southeast and Northeast Asia. “The opening of Novotel Samui Resort Chaweng Beach Kandaburi offers travellers an international four-star brand known for its spacious rooms, consistently high service standards, commitment to guest well-being and modern meeting rooms, as well as reinforces AccorHotels' commitment to development in Southern Thailand.” In 2016 alone, AccorHotels is scheduled to open five additional hotels within Southern Thailand.

Novotel Samui Resort Chaweng Beach Kandaburi features 183 beachfront and garden rooms, including 20 family rooms equipped with double and bunk beds. Each room type features spacious interiors, large balconies, minibars, LCD televisions and complimentary WiFi.

The resort is home to three unique restaurants and a beach bar. Palm Court Restaurant features an outdoor terrace perched on a hill, serving international and Thai cuisine in a buffet or a la carte format. Adjacent to the pool and overlooking the beach, Beach Restaurant is the perfect place to relax with friends and family over a delicious selection of snacks and local delicacies. Guests can also savour authentic Thai cuisine at Tom Yam Thai Restaurant,beforeenjoying the sunset with an evening cocktail at beach bar.

“Novotel Samui Resort Chaweng Beach Kandaburi is perfect for guests seeking a quiet beach getaway with easy access to great restaurants and local nightlife,” saidMr. Thomas Colbert, General Manager Novotel Samui Resort Chaweng Beach Kandaburi.

In addition to a fitness center, the resort offers two pools and a relaxing spa. The fully equipped Kanda Ballroom is the largest meeting venue in the Chaweng area featuring natural daylight and can accommodate up to 250 people.

Rates at the resort start at $150 + local taxes.
For more information and reservations visit www.accorhotels.com
or email H9931@accor.com or call +(66) (0) 77 428 888.


Traveloscopy | 

Whats New in Tasmania: We Might Be Left Off the Map, but We're Top of Your List


It's oh-so-cool down here and we're not talking about the leaf-changing, warmer-layer inducing, red-wine loving weather. Across Tasmania this Autumn we have foodie openings, we have new cellar doors, we have new boutique tours and accommodation to explore. But don't just read about it, get down here and create your own Tasmanian story – from the beautiful introduction to the final conclusion (which should be that Autumn in Tasmania is simply perfection). 

Par Avion HelicoptersHow does a private little picnic on the East Coast sound? Want to get there by helicopter? No worries! A Par Avion Helicopter Tour starts from Cambridge, near Hobart, then follows the breathtakingly rugged coastline of Storm Bay to Bangor Farm. Pick up the freshest produce for a delicious picnic then head back out to the secluded Lagoon Bay to enjoy the local seafood and wine. This tour is $375pp, other tours start at $220pp. Check out the incredible range of food and drink itineraries at www.paravion.com.au/helicopters/wine-dine-and-whisky
Entally Estate
Eighty years after part of the property was sold, Entally Estate is whole again, with the purchase and blending back in of the former Rutherglen Holiday Village. The complete Entally Estate now features 20 Scandinavian inspired, contemporary guest rooms with king beds, modern amenities and high quality linens. The Kitchen at Entally Lodge supports local farmers by serving up fresh and healthy foods – healthy for bodies and for the local food economy. Perch in the bar and enjoy a local beer, wine or cider with well-crafted tapas. More information at www.entally.com.au
Ocean View Eco-Studios at Freycinet Eco Retreat
With compelling views over Saltwater Lagoon and the Friendly Beaches, Freycinet Eco Retreat have just released their new Ocean View Eco Studios. Nestled in the hills of Mt Paul and perfect for two (with luxuriously snuggly king beds), the open deck offers a sweeping vista out to the Tasman sea, complete with walking tracks through the bushland and friendly wildlife. Eight studios, all designed to high environmental standards, feature water and energy saving devices and appliances, water self-sufficient, super insulated to cut down on heating, and are 6-star energy efficient.www.freycinet.com/cabins/eco-studios


Cruises to Oman: Looking up

Port of Muscat (Wikimedia)
MUSCAT, Oman - As the cruise season in Oman has crossed the halfway mark, 215,266 tourists have already visited Oman so far and 165,000 more are scheduled to come until June proving that Oman’s cruise tourism prospects are quite promising.

According to ship agents in Oman, until February 14 this year, 129 cruise vessels had visited three different ports in Oman. And 99 more are scheduled to visit until June 6.

“Since the current season began in October last year, 75 calls were made in Muscat, 38 in Khasab and 16 in Salalah. And until June, when the current season came to an end, there will be 60 more calls in Muscat, 22 in Khasab and 17 in Salalah,” M C Jose, chief executive officer of Projects and Logistics Group at Khimji Ramdas, told the Times of Oman (TOO).

Anwar Ali Sultan, chairman of Wilhelmsen Towell Co LLC, told TOO that cruise tourism is picking up in Oman at a good pace.

“We are seeing a positive trend and a huge potential for growth too. Tourists see Oman as the safest place to visit in this region. Moreover, the exotic locations, which highlight Arab culture and heritage are unique to Oman,” Sultan said.

An official from Wilhelmsen said that for the first time Anthem of Seas, one the biggest cruise vessels launched recently, will come to Oman.

“She is the second ship in the Quantum class, which surpasses the earlier Freedom-class ships by over 14,000 gross tonnes (GT), becoming the second largest class of passenger ships after the Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis-class ships on a gross tonnage basis. The cruise ship has capacity for almost 5,000 passengers at a time, excluding some 1,600 crew members,” the official added.

Meanwhile, Jose said big vessels, such as the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth will call Muscat and Salalah this year, which will be a major attraction. According to Jose, cruise tourism in Oman has a huge potential and it should be treated as an important segment of the tourism industry sector.

“It can bring in a lot of employment opportunities to nationals and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). A large number of four wheel drives, mini buses and 50-seater buses are required to transport passengers to different tourist spots in Oman. In addition to that, a large number of qualified tour guides with multi-lingual capabilities are also required in Oman,” Jose said.

“SME tour companies can be started by trained nationals. These companies can invest in vehicles with the base volume of tourists from cruise vessels. Once they establish their companies, they can also carter to the steady arrival of inbound tourists,” Jose added.

According to Jose, many tourists come back for a longer stay after their cruise holiday and hence the cruise industry should be treated as an important segment of the market tourism industry.

While talking about the challenges faced by the cruise tourism industry in Oman, Jose said cruise liners are constructing larger ships, with larger lengths and hence ports will have to be modernised with longer berths and marine equipment to safely handle these ships.

Growing interest

“The planned new waterfront facility at Port Sultan Qaboos is a great initiative and will give a boost to the cruise business. Muscat should have at least three berths that are 400 metres. The interest in Khasab is increasing year after year. An International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) compliant port with two berths is desirable. Sur can be an attractive location if a berthing facility is available. A dedicated cruise berth in Salalah is also desirable,” Jose added.

According to Oman’s government, OMR500 million has been set aside to transform the Port Sultan Qaboos into the region’s primary waterfront destination.

The project consists of four zones and the first phase is expected to be complete in 2019, Minister of Transport and Communications Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, said recently.

The first zone of the tourism-based mixed-use project will shape the waterfront’s heart and will consist of a fisherman wharf, a fish souq (market), a five-star marina hotel, a four-star family hotel, and a hotel operated by branded residential apartments and starter apartments for first time buyers.

Destination shopping, waterside restaurants and cafes, boutiques, offices, entertainment and cultural facilities, as well as super yacht and leisure boat marina will also be featured in the first zone.

Data released by National Centre of Statistics and Information (NCSI) revealed that from the beginning of 2015 until October, 101,000 cruise line tourists had visited Oman.

The top five countries from where cruise line tourists come were from Germany, Italy, the British Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom, and Northern Islands and Spain.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Seabourn Reveals Details Of Grand Wintergarden Suites On Seabourn Encore


Seabourn has revealed details and a rendering of the most luxurious and largest suites on Seabourn Encore, the ultra-luxury line's newest vessel which is launching late 2016 and heading down under for its first summer.

Unfolding as a lap of luxury for guests who desire exquisite comfort and room to entertain, the two Grand Wintergarden Suites on Seabourn Encore will offer a variety of in-suite amenities and features from a private glassed-in Solarium with a soaking tub and day bed to a generous veranda offering nearly 23sqm of private space outfitted with an all-weather table and chairs making it an ideal setting for al fresco dining.

Located on deck 8, each of the Grand Wintergarden suites will provide nearly 144sqm of indoor and outdoor space. The suites will feature large windows for picture-perfect ocean and shore views, two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, two private verandas, dining for six, convertible sofa-bed, pantry with wet bar and espresso machine, and three flat-screen televisions. The suite bathrooms radiate elegance, with a separate whirlpool tub and shower, polished stone, gleaming hardware and mirrors, as well as exclusive bath products from Molton Brown.

Guests residing in the Grand Wintergarden suites, as well as other premium suites, will receive an array of added amenities, including personalised service by the Guest Service Manager, private car transfers on embarkation and disembarkation, complimentary Internet service, daily newspaper delivered to the suite, plush bathrobes, large tropical fruit basket, beautiful fresh flowers, an extended in-suite reference library, and more.

Seabourn Encore is being fashioned by hospitality designer Adam D. Tihany, with contemporary interiors and modern design elements and innovations consistent with the line's reputation for understated elegance. The ship will expand and build on the line's award-winning and highly acclaimed Odyssey-class ships, which revolutionised ultra-luxury cruising with enhanced accommodations and innovative amenities when they were introduced between 2009 and 2011. Seabourn Encore will maintain the line's high ratio of space per guest, enabling highly personalised service by close to one staff member for each guest on board. The 40,350-GRT ship will be configured with one additional deck and new expanded public areas, and is expected to carry just 600 guests, based on double occupancy. In addition, every suite will feature a private veranda.

Seabourn Encore will cruise Australian waters during its first season, making nine maiden calls to Australian ports from Darwin to Geelong between January 22, 2017 and March 17, 2017 following its gala naming ceremony in Singapore in early January.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Crystal Cruises plan to restore historic SS United States



Together with the SS United States Conservancy, Crystal Cruises today announced it will save the “America’s Flagship”, the SS United States, and embark on the enormous undertaking of bringing the ship into compliance with the latest standards, and returning her to oceangoing service. During the announcement, made today at a press conference at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal in New York City, Crystal also committed to covering all costs associated with preserving the ship while undertaking a technical feasibility study, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji appoints Mark Stanford to GM role


Mark Stanford, GM Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji
Auberge Resorts Collection Principal and Chief Operating Officer, Eric Calderon has announced the appointment of Mark Stanford to the role of General Manager at Nanuku Auberge Resort Fiji, effective immediately.

An Australian national Mr Stanford needs little introduction to the international hospitality industry, his career spanning 25 years specialising in resort and operations management with a passion for luxury and alpine resorts.

This includes key roles in the start-up of six international resorts, including three in the role of General Manager.

Prior to his Fiji appointment Mr Stanford served as pre-opening General Manager at the Royal Purnama in Bali overseeing construction and design as well as recruitment and service training of all staff.

Under his leadership, the resort was nominated for the 2015 World Luxury Hotel Awards and the 2015 Luxury Travel Guide Awards.

Mr Stanford’s Bali experience also includes to a stint at the C151 Luxury Villa Resorts where he oversaw operation of two separate resorts.

His international experience also extends to operations and senior management roles in several alpine resorts in Australia and Japan, boutique luxury resorts in the Maldives and the prestigious Six Senses Zighy Bay in the Sultanate of Oman.

Mr Stanford has an exceptional track record of defining company direction, developing new and repeat business, and meeting objectives within company targets has consistently improved customer service and revenues.

His depth of knowledge and strong sense of commitment is further enhanced by his strong leadership skills, extensive international experience, his professional integrity and his ‘hands-on’ approach.

For more information visit
http://nanuku.aubergeresorts.com
W: http://nanuku.aubergeresorts.com
F: www.facebook.com/Nanuku-Auberge-Resort

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Dorsett Hospitality International appoints HRA as General Sales Agent for Australia & New Zealand

Craig Davies, Managing Director HRA
Dorsett Hospitality International has appointed Hotel Representation Australia (HRA) as General Sales Agent (GSA) for Australia & New Zealand market effective February 1, 2016.

HRA is a professional hospitality sales and marketing firm led by Craig Davies, Managing Director. The Sydney based company has offices in Brisbane, Melbourne and New Zealand.

“With their network and strong existing relationships with key business channels (Wholesalers, Corporate, M.I.C.E, Leisure, Media etc), we are confident that HRA will play an instrumental role in assisting Dorsett Hospitality International to expand its market share in the Australian and New Zealand market,” said Rebecca Kwan, Senior VP Sales for Dorsett Hospitality International.

HRA will be responsible for wide areas of sales and marketing activities, utilise out contacts with key operators to negotiate the inclusion of Dorsett Hotels in all the key series program, undertake sales calls, travel events and explore ad-hoc group etc.

About Dorsett Hospitality International

Headquartered in Hong Kong, Dorsett Hospitality International has three brands under its umbrella ….the upscale and midscale Dorsett Hotels & Resorts and d.Collection comprising a range of charismatic boutique hotels; and the value-led Silka Hotels. The group currently owns and manages 28 hotels in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom; including five more openings within the next two years in Malaysia, China, Hong Kong and United Kingdom. For more information on Dorsett Hospitality International, visit: www.dorsett.com


ACI HR Solutions launches into Australia


Having successfully established the ACI HR Solutions brand in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore over the last three years, Founder & CEO, Andrew Chan has now moved to launch the company’s first Australian division.

ACI HR Solutions Founder & CEO, Andrew Chan, with Kathy Fatseas, Executive Consultant
Officially announcing the opening at a function held in Sydney’s iconic The Rocks area, Mr Chan said a move into Australia had always been part of the overall ACI HR Solutions blueprint since he founded the company in 2012.

“Opening a Sydney office, along with aspirations in other markets where I have strong experience, has been in the plan since day one,“ Mr Chan said.

“In the early stages while based in Asia, I wanted to consolidate what ACI has been doing well and fully establish the brand in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore before taking the next step.”

“Being named ‘Best Newcomer’ at the 2015 Recruitment International Asia Awards in Singapore last year gave us the validation we were on the right track with ACI, and the time was right to open in Sydney.”

Mr Chan said having a Sydney presence made perfect sense to ACI HR Solutions.

“It complements our existing network of offices in Asia and offers both clients and candidates in the travel and hospitality sector a true Asia-Pacific network that not too many other specialist industry firms, if in fact any in this part of the world, can boast,” he said.

“Aside from anything else, having grown up in Sydney and spending a major part of my professional career here, Sydney is most certainly close to my heart, so it feels very much like a homecoming of sorts.”

Mr Chan also took the opportunity at the function to present his newest team member, Executive Consultant, Kathy Fatseas who will be based in the company’s Australian head office located in Australia Square, Pitt Street, Sydney.

About Andrew Chan


Andrew Chan is no stranger to the hospitality and travel sector having held senior industry management roles before establishing the ACI HR Solutions brand in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai in 2012.

Regularly invited to address travel & hospitality events, conferences and trade shows, he is a recognised point of comment on issues affecting the industry. Mr Chan has also briefed the board of the Pacific Asia Travel Association on the role professional recruitment services can play in helping to alleviate the regional tourism industry’s staffing concerns.

For more information:

ACI HR Solutions
Visit: www.acihr.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACIHRSolutions

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Elements of Byron welcomes first guests



Byron Bay's first world-class beachfront resort, Elements of Byron, is officially open. The resort is the 11th property across Australia and New Zealand to join AccorHotels' boutique MGallery Collection of memorable hotels, under a franchise agreement.

Situated on 50 acres, encompassing almost two kilometres of absolute beach frontage on Belongi Beach, Elements of Byron brings barefoot luxury to Byron Bay.

Three separate pavilions make up the central resort and leisure facilities, featuring a signature restaurant and lobby bar, poolside bar and kiosk, gymnasium and five suite garden spa. Weaving throughout the resort is a luxurious infinity lagoon pool precinct, complete with a communal sunken fire pit. Feminine, organic materials and soft furnishings have been used to evoke relaxation and connection to the elements throughout the resort.

Chief Operating Officer AccorHotels Pacific, Simon McGrath, said "We congratulate the owners and hotel team on opening this exceptional world-class resort. AccorHotels welcomes this latest addition to our boutique MGallery Collection and franchise hotel network which is set to delight guests with its unsurpassed beachfront locale whilst showcasing the very best of the Byron Bay region."

Development of the $100 million dollar "slow architectural" resort has been lovingly tended throughout by owner Peggy Flannery. Design was driven by reverence to the four landscape ecologies present on the site - rainforest, dunal, eucalypt and wetland. Specific native landscaping, furnishings and colour palettes reflect the ecology or landscape in which each particular villa sits.

Leon Pink, General Manager Elements of Byron said, "Being privately owned by a couple who are passionate about the site, let alone the resort crafted within it, helps a lot. Nothing was compromised. I've never really experienced another similar situation."

The 94 villas (a further 96 will be built in Stage 2) represent a softer tribute to the four unique ecologies present across the site. Every aspect of design and landscaping, down to the colours, furnishings and subtle signage reflect and celebrate the dunal, rainforest, eucalypt and wetland themes.

Among the artworks commissioned are a suite of paintings in oil, pigment and charcoal on jute by renowned Byron artist Noel Hart celebrating these ecologies. Hart has also contributed the feature work for the reception area – five asymmetrical blown glass forms depicting five Australian Black Cockatoo species, including the locally critically endangered Coastal Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo.

Graze at Elements is also now open, an all-day, produce-first dining option, along with Drift Bar and Barefoot Bar and Kiosk. Elements of Byron's signature dining experience, Mixed Dozen Restaurant is scheduled to open over the next few months, as well as a private Beach Club. Scheduled to open mid-year is a fully refurbished 100-seat two carriage heritage train which will run between the resort and the Byron Bay township, a journey of 3km.

Elements of Byron also offers state of the art conferencing facilities, catering up to 450 delegates.

Visit mgallery.com or elementsofbyron.com.au


It’s all ‘Monkey Business’ at AccorHotels this Chinese New Year




Over 50 AccorHotels host festivities to celebrate Chinese lunar New Year

With visitor arrivals from China growing at an exponential rate, 'Year of the Monkey' will be grandly celebrated at over 50 AccorHotels across the country from 8 February.

The two week festival will see AccorHotels, from ibis to Sofitel, decorated with tea stations, red lanterns, monkey paraphernalia and floral displays. Many hotel teams will dress in traditional costume and give out red envelopes with gold coins and various properties will host events for guests such as dragon dances and kids' activities.

AccorHotels Chinese New Year celebrations are an extension of the Optimum Service Standards program which enable hotels to better cater for the growing Chinese inbound travel market.

Chief Operating Officer Accor Pacific, Simon McGrath, said: "AccorHotels is dedicated to making sure Chinese visitors feel welcome and their specific needs are met at all of our hotels. As part of this commitment, 51 of our hotels, the latest being Mercure Kangaroo Island, are accredited to our Chinese Optimum Service Standards program."

Guests staying at Novotel Sydney Central will have the option to enjoy a Chinese themed breakfast buffet with red bean and coconut tapioca, lychees and congee condiments, while dinner guests will be treated to a complimentary lychee dessert. Kids will be kept entertained with monkey themed colouring in and traditional mask art activities.

Closer to the official festivities and Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour, Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour and ibis Darling Harbour will host live cooking demonstrations to showcase traditional Chinese fare and dumplings at their Asian Wok Kitchen in The Ternary. A special Chinese themed beer and cocktail will also be available for the month of February at the Ternary bar.

Further north, Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort will be hosting a sumptuous dinner buffet featuring authentic Chinese cuisine from the many iconic provinces of mainland China, with special guest appearances by the Cadcai lion dancers and fire crackers.

Pullman Cairns International will be monkeying around with a large edible chocolate monkey on display as well as introducing an exclusive Chinese themed 'tea room' lounge for guests to relax in before they check-in or check-out.

Many hotels, such as ibis Styles Canberra, will create welcome signage in Mandarin with greeting gifts including candy trays, Chinese red envelopes with chocolate coins, fortune cookies, as well as complimentary teas at Sofitel Brisbane Central, Mercure Gold Coast Resort, Pullman Sydney Hyde Park, Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach and Mercure Melbourne Treasury Gardens.

Simon continued: "Pleasingly the trend of strong inbound growth from Greater China continues, now surpassing one million visitors, and as a result we have seen a healthy increase in room nights, up by 12.9 per cent for year ending Dec 2015, versus 2014. One in eight Chinese travellers stay with us an average of 3.5 nights and that is across both major cities and regional areas."

"We are dedicated to continually expanding our services for Chinese travellers and on top of our recent partnership with China Ready and Accredited to help facilitate additional staff training, we are set to re-launch our program in the coming months."

The Optimum Service Standards program includes training for AccorHotels staff in cultural differences, Mandarin speaking staff, translated welcome kits, Chinese dishes included on menus and mini-bar products, Chinese location maps, newspapers and television channels. UnionPay is also accepted at 27 AccorHotels to enable guests to conveniently settle their room account with their domestic debit banking card.

For more information about AccorHotels Chinese Optimum Service Standards and special offers visit www.accorhotels.com

Taveuni Palms Resort, Fiji win's 'World's leading luxury boutique island Resort'


The luxurious Taveuni Palms Resort, Fiji Islands is proud to announce it has won the "World's leading luxury boutique island resort"at the 22nd annual World Travel Awards™ held in Hong Kong.

The red-carpet event is considered the Oscars of the tourism industry and this accolade, voted by travel and tourism professionals worldwide, recognises the commitment to excellence which Taveuni Palms has demonstrated over the last twelve months.

"The team at Taveuni Palms are very excited and extremely proud to have won this prestigious award." Says Colleen O'Neill, Owner, Taveuni Palms Resort, Fiji.

"We have worked extremely hard to create a private and opulent paradise for guests where the primary focus is on exquisite cuisine, personal service, and genuine Fijian hospitality. To have this recognised on a worldwide level is an amazing achievement." Continues Ms O'Neill.

Winning accolades around the world Taveuni Palms Resort has become one of the most sought after resorts for total exclusivity.

Consistently winning TripAdvisor People's Choice awards, Taveuni Palms Resort has also previously won the World Travel Awards in the categories of Fiji's Leading Resort 2014, 2013 and 2011 World's Leading Boutique Island Resort 2012, World's Leading Island Villas 2012, Australasia's Leading Boutique Island Resort 2012, 2011 and 2010, Australasia's Leading Villa Resort 2012 and Fiji's Leading Resort 2012.

The five stars Taveuni Palms Resort, situated on Taveuni Island, Fiji is the ultimate in boutique luxury. Set amongst swaying coconut trees, on the edge of a golden sandy beach and surrounded by Fiji's turquoise waters, the resort is a private hideaway perfect for honeymooners, weddings or that vacation of a lifetime.

Taveuni Palms has three luxury villas, the Beach Villa, Horizon Spa Villa and the Grand Villa. Each villa is on its own private acre of absolute beachfront and boasts its own private pool, beach and personal staff of seven. All spacious villas feature two bedrooms, two bathrooms, are air-conditioned and  include super king beds, Pure Fiji toiletries, bathrobes, outdoor honeymoon showers, full entertainment centre (TV, DVD, stereo and iPod loaded with 1000 songs), library of DVD's, CD's, books, board games, large outdoor furnished deck, daybed sofas and hammocks.

Dining at the resort is an experience in itself with each villa boasting five special private dining locations. Villa's come with a personal chef who designs guest's breakfast, lunch and four course dinner menus based on their likes and dislikes. Whatever the menu, guests will be taken on a mouth-watering culinary journey through the South Pacific.

From the time guests wake there is always something magical to experience. Hike to waterfalls, enjoy coastal walks, horseback riding, black pearl farm tours, snorkelling, golf, tennis, deep sea fishing, dolphin watching, kite surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking or diving trips to famous world class sites. Be part of traditional Fijian cultural ceremonies or try a cooking lesson with each villa's personal chef.

From the privacy of each magnificent villa, Taveuni Palms offers a variety of relaxing spa treatments, using only the finest "Pure Fiji" products and designed to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit.

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


For further information or bookings please email: info@taveunipalms.com or visit www.taveunipalms.com

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The Expeditionist

The Expeditionist
Venturing to the world's special places