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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Scotland: Sleeping in Castles

Who wouldn't want to stay in a castle and feel like royalty if they could? Not only can people visit amazing castles in Scotland- they can also take their pick of castle accommodation in Scotland, stay overnight, and really bring dreams to life. VisitScotland unveils its list of top Scottish castles guests can sleep in when visiting Scotland.

What can be expected on a castle break in Scotland?

· An unparalleled choice of castle accommodation to fit all budgets, from 5-star luxury castle hotels and exclusive use venues to castle campsites and self-catering options
· Serene locations, with some castles tucked away in some of the country's most beautiful landscapes
· Accommodation with a fascinating history, and masses of quirky tales and stories to uncover.

See below for some great castle accommodation in Scotland.

Ackergill Tower

Ackergill Tower is a magnificent 15th century Scottish castle, and is situated just 3 metres from breath-taking waters. Visitors can book individual rooms, or the tower can be booked exclusively, as one of the world's most select retreats located at one the UK's most unspoilt locations. A Scottish castle with accommodation offering unrivalled peace and seclusion, a home beyond 5 stars to spend time with the people that matter most.

Culzean Castle

Just like a storybook castle, this fantastic example of Robert Adam's genius stands dramatically on a cliff with superb views across the sea to the mountains of the Island of Arran. Culzean is in the heart of Burns country, a central base for visiting the poet's haunts. There are also a number of other National Trust for Scotland properties within easy driving distance of the castle.

Dalhousie Castle

Dalhousie Castle Hotel is steeped in a wealth of history - indeed Queen Victoria and Sir Walter Scott have payed visits. The friendly atmosphere of Dalhousie Castle is created by the very special relationship between the staff, management and guests. With the timeless style of the castle, every stay is memorable, and many guests return year after year.

Borthwick Castle

Set amidst stunning rolling countryside only 12 miles from Edinburgh, this majestic and truly authentic castle was built in 1430 and has been carefully refurbished for private hire, corporate events and large family stays on an exclusive use basis. Walk through the arched stone gateway of Borthwick Castle and enter a hidden world of luxury and majestic style, steeped in 600 years of dramatic Scottish history. There are 10 uniquely designed bedchambers with lavish bathrooms, magnificent yet intimate dining and lounge areas, roaring fires, breath-taking views and spiral staircases inviting exploration and adventure. The cottage and Gatehouse bring the total accommodation to 12 bedchambers, sleeping up to 26 guests.

Glenapp Castle

Glenapp Castle is a fairytale castle hidden on the beautiful Ayrshire coast in Ballantrae, Scotland. Imagine exquisite rooms and outstanding cuisine. Perfect for rest and relaxation. The luxurious, award-winning five star hotel provides an intimate level of service, with genuine attention to detail. It has great beauty in its period furnishings and interiors and through the breath-taking gardens, forest and the seascapes that surround that castle.

Sherbrooke Castle Hotel

The Sherbrooke Castle Hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment to elevate this house to the heights that it warrants. In the most prestigious of residential areas, and set in its own grounds, the hotel is 5 minutes from the City Centre and 10 minutes from Glasgow airport.

Inverlochy Castle

Inverlochy Castle sits nestled amongst the foothills of Scotland's highest mountain - the mighty Ben Nevis - and in some of the most beautiful scenery in Scotland. A 19th century Scottish castle hotel that guests will never forget staying in.

Castle Hotel Huntly

Set in 7 acres of parkland close to the ruins of Huntly Castle. Walking distance to town of Huntly and 18 hole golf course. Ideally situated for salmon and trout fishing. Also on routes of both Castle and Whisky trails. All twin and double rooms are welcome to single occupancy and the exclusive suite room hosts 24 hour internet access with free complementary Sherry. Haste ye back.

Crossbasket Castle

Sensitively renovated, Crossbasket is a stunning 17th century castle transformed into one of Scotland's most luxurious hotel and event venues. Crossbasket Castle has many unique period features inside and out which have been restored to their original beauty using traditional craftsmen and materials. There are nine breathtaking ensuite bedrooms, each decorated in a period style and named in honour of a historical custodian of this magnificent Castle. Every bedroom is finished with stunning period window and bed dressings and complemented with original antique furniture and luxuriously oversized beds, this castle also hold an Albert Roux restaurant.

Fasque Castle

Fasque House is a Baronial Mansion House situated in the heat of rural Aberdeenshire former family residence of Prime Minister Gladstone and the Gladstone Family. A 5* exclusive use venue with sumptuous rooms, delightful touches and splendid surroundings: Fasque Castle knows how to make guests feel truly welcome and comfortable with its range of superb accommodation – 19 bedrooms and cottages around the Estate.

Fonab Castle Hotel and Spa

Located on the banks of Loch Faskally, Fonab Castle Hotel is only a short walk from the heart of the historic town of Pitlochry, allowing guests access to all of the local amenities the town has to offer. Since opening in 2013, Fonab has become a popular destination to enjoy friendly, attentive service, breath taking views, exquisite food and luxurious accommodation.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Transformational Travel will Define 2017

Travel has the power to transform both our own lives and the world we live in. When we push our physical and psychological boundaries, incredible things can happen. And that’s why transformational travel is set to change everything in 2017.

Tribesmen perform ancient ritual dance on remote island in Vanuatu. Heritage Expeditions. (Roderick Eime)

Transformational travel is the next evolution of experiential travel and while it maintains many of the elements of the original, it aims for a new level of consciousness that’s carried on long after the trip is over. Travel expert and doctoral researcher Michael Bennett has identified a three-phase process consisting of the departure, the initiation, and the return – the “hero’s journey” – where travellers venture into the unknown to learn wisdom from cultures and places outside their own, returning home to implement this knowledge, ultimately changing their lives and the lives of others around them. It’s this post-travel action that separates experiential travel from transformational travel.

When travellers have authentic, genuine interactions with other cultures, they stop seeing the world as so black and white. They can be inspired to donate to environmental or social causes after first-hand experience.

While luxury and unique experiences have always been the key selling points for providers in this sector, they are now beginning to focus on these more transformational aspects. Environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility, immersive conservation programs and positive engagement with local communities have now become major selling points to travellers eager to make a change within themselves and for the places they visit.

Source: Luxperience News
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Amazing Images of Australia from Above

SkyPixel Aerial Photography Contest Showcases the Best of Australia From Above

The winning photo, Refreshing Places to Float, taken by Airloft, focuses on a person enjoying on a float in a refreshing rock pool in Wyadup Spa, Western Australia.

SkyPixel, the world's most popular aerial photography community, Friday concluded the two-month Australia from Above aerial photography contest. This was SkyPixel's first region-specific aerial photography contest that showcased the stunning natural beauty of Australia seen from above.

Run in partnership with DJI and Tourism Australia, the SkyPixel Australia from Above aerial photography contest received over 6,000 entries, including photos from the inspiring expanse of Australia's pristine white beaches to the raw power of its rich, red outback.

The winning photo, Refreshing Places to Float, taken by Airloft, focuses on a person enjoying on a float in a refreshing rock pool in Wyadup Spa, Western Australia. For his winning entry, Airloft will receive a DJI Inspire 2 Premium Combo, a SanDisk 64GB Extreme PRO� MicroSD and 480GB Extreme� 500 Portable SSD, a 1-year Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan (1-year membership), and 2-nights at Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island and 2-nights at Capella Lodge, Lord Howe Island.

SECOND: Sea of Green: The late afternoon sun shines through a breaking wave at Secret Harbour, south of Perth.

"The amazing work from participants really shows the growing interest around this new photographic artform and the potential of aerial technology" said Danny Zheng, DJI Vice President of Marketing. "We were thrilled to see so many quality entries, from local photographers as well as those outside the country who captured Australia's extraordinary beauty in an entirely new way."

The second and third prize winners were skysnaps with a photo titled Sea of Green respectively, one showing a breaking wave at Secret Harbour, south of Perth, and Yantastic for Rigby Island, and the other a top-down shot of a boat navigating its way through Rigby Island in Victoria. These winners will take home various DJI, SanDisk, Adobe and Epson products. Separately, 10 additional entries were shortlisted by SkyPixel users and awarded with an Osmo Mobile Silver, SanDisk MicroSD and Portable SSD.

The winning photos were selected by a judging panel that included Tourism Australia's Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Ronson, Australian landscape photographer Kirk Hille, who won the Grand Prize in SkyPixel's first annual contest in 2015, Todd Kennedy, adjudged "Travel Photographer of the Year" by Australian Photography Magazine, and Tom Rex Jessett, a globetrotting New Zealand-based landscape and travel photographer.

THIRD: Top down shot of Rigby Island in Lake's Entrance, Victoria. Shot with Mavic Pro

Tourism Australia's Chief Marketing Officer, Lisa Ronson, was blown away by the quantity and the quality of entries. "There are some amazingly talented photographers out there who are using drone technology to capture some breath-taking images of Australia. Drone-facilitated photography as well as other new technologies such as VR and 360 are enabling us to tell our story in ways which were just not possible a few years ago. It's very exciting for our industry and will, I'm sure, provide inspiration to many Australian tourism operators as they look at new and engaging ways to promote their businesses," she said.

All the winning photos can be viewed here:

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Vivid Sydney celebrates the grit and glitter of Kings Cross


For the first time, Kings Cross will be an exciting precinct that includes all Vivid Sydney pillars of light, music and ideas, called Vivid KX. The program will include a wonderful mix of genres, theatre, performance, story-telling and light art, and celebrate exactly what makes Kings Cross so special.

Vivid KX will explore the bohemian underworlds that gave The Cross its unique DNA through a genre-bending performance program; pop-up cinema screening the strangest, craziest and best in Australian film; and raw and riveting talks of the days of the ‘Golden Mile’.

For the first time at Kings Cross, the Coca-Cola billboard will come alive to celebrate the talent, colour, creativity and diversity of Kings Cross. Shot by portrait photographer Katherine Williams the Characters of Kings Cross series will feature moving black-and-white portraits of the individuals that make Kings Cross so special. The projected images will feature on the left-hand side of the sign, and will include familiar faces such as Kylie Kwong, along with other Kings Cross locals.

The famous Coca-Cola LED billboard will for the first time in 40 years transform into a continuous light show of vibrant colours and special effects for the entire 23 nights of Vivid Sydney. Read more

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Accommodation boom across New South Wales

The State Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW has said growth in overnight visitation to NSW is stimulating an accommodation boom across the State.

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour opening 2017 (source: Accor)

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said this week’s Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE) was a great opportunity to showcase both new and refurbished hotels.

“According to the International and National Visitor Surveys for the year ending December 2016, there were more than 33 million overnight visitors who stayed more than 183 million nights in NSW over the past 12 months,” Ms Chipchase said.

“New and refurbished hotels by the harbour, and luxury makeovers and quality boutique offerings are giving visitors to Sydney and regional NSW just what they want – accommodation in desirable locations, with a choice of styles and price points.

“Sky-high confidence in the visitor economy is driving the hotel boom with 7,800 new and refurbished hotel rooms under construction or approved for development and open for business by 2022.

“Our State is undergoing a major transformation to meet the growing demands from international markets, providing NSW hotels and operators with more opportunities than ever before to attract visitors.

“With occupancy rates rising from 75 per cent in to 76.3 per cent in the December quarter 2016, driven primarily by occupancy rate increases in regional NSW (66.4 per cent, up from 62.6 per cent), our State is leading the country when it comes to accommodation supply, demand and revenue takings.

“From Sydney to the Blue Mountains, the South Coast to up North, and out to Country NSW, we are seeing major refurbishments of heritage sites, to brand new beachfront pavilions and self-catering options as part of this hotel boom, and we look forward to highlighting the best of these exciting developments during ATE,” she said.

On top of the accommodation boom, other major infrastructure projects are underway including the harbourside development at Barangaroo, the Western Sydney Airport, significant upgrades to Sydney Airport and the planned regeneration of The Bays Precinct, a waterfront space in the inner west.

Click here to download the latest ‘Hotel News in Sydney and NSW’ Fact Sheet.

For more information on attractions and experiences in NSW, visit and

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Showcase NSW best food and wine

Some of the State’s finest produce will be showcased to travel buyers from across the globe tonight, as part of the 2017 Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE).

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said 1,300 domestic and international delegates will gather at a special harbourside location for the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency’s showcase event.

“From artisan smoked Bangalow ham, South Coast cheese, Pinot Noir from Orange, saltbush lamb from Wagga Wagga, and an eight metre long ice bar filled with NSW’s freshest and finest seafood, tonight’s event will take people on an incredible NSW food journey,” Ms Chipchase said.

“More and more visitors from across Australia and the world are learning about our State’s great local wines and fresh produce, with a desire to visit Sydney and regional NSW for a first-hand experience.

“NSW is home to fourteen wine regions, renowned fruit, beef, pork and truffle farms, and over 2,000 kilometres of coastline bursting with fresh seafood and local produce, some of which our guests will be able to enjoy and savour tonight.

“With such amazing produce and so many wonderful dining experiences to be had, it’s little wonder so many visitors are choosing to experience our thriving culinary hotspots and award-winning restaurants throughout NSW.”

Whether it’s a Hunter Semillon or a cool-climate Tempranillo, visitors can find plenty of scope for exploration and experimentation in each of the State’s fourteen wine regions.

In the year ended December 2016, there were almost two million domestic and international visitors who had been to a NSW winery. These visitors stayed 13.8 million nights and spent $2.2 billion in the State.

The latest International Visitor Survey results show that NSW received nearly 213,000 international wine travellers with Sydney, the Hunter, North Coast, Blue Mountains and South Coast as the most visited regions by international wine travellers.

“There’s a real movement around where and how our food is grown, sourced and prepared, and NSW’s pristine environment and varied typography is creating some of the finest produce in Australia for visitors to enjoy.

“We look forward to welcoming more international visitors to our State as a result of tonight’s special Destination NSW event and continuing to place NSW firmly on the global foodie-map,” Ms Chipchase said.

Download the latest ‘Food and Wine in Sydney and NSW’ Fact Sheet.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

The Puffing Billy Railway is Australia's favourite train

The world famous steam train, The Puffing Billy Railway, is Australia's favourite train and one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world.

The railway which commenced operation in Australia on December 18, 1900 and operates every day except Christmas Day, is a genuine relic of our more leisurely days.

An historic steam train which runs regularly in the Victorian mountain district, it was built to serve at the turn of the century, and was used to transport goods and passengers throughout the district.

The line was opened by the Victorian Railways in 1900 between Upper Ferntree Gully and Gembrook, however, there was a struggle to keep the railway alive. From the early 1930s the railway earned the reputation for being a financial liability on the Victorian Railways and due to a landslide in 1953, a subsequent decision was made to close the line in 1954.

It was during a series of farewell trips in 1955 that led to the Puffing Billy Preservation Society being established - to keep the train running, and it has been a success with figures of over ten million passengers now carried on the historic railway since re-opening in 1962.

Tourist services resumed between Belgrave and Menzies Creek in 1962, and were progressively extended to Emerald in 1965, Lakeside in 1975 and Gembrook in 1998.

The railway travels 25kms through the forests and fern gullies of the magnificent Dandenong Ranges to Emerald Lake Park and Gembrook- -the original terminus of the line- - and is one of two survivors of five experimental narrow gauge lines used to develop rural area in Victoria during the early 1900s.

Trains depart from Belgrave which is only 40kms or one hour east of Melbourne by car or coach. Easy access is also available by electric train from Melbourne in around one hour with a short walk from the electric train station to the Puffing Billy station.

Together with the traditional train journeys, Puffing Billy also offers a range of unique “First Class” travel and dining experiences in up to four luxurious, fully enclosed, heritage carriages, each seating up to 20 passengers. Choose from Lunch, which is available seven days a week or Dinner, on selected Friday and Saturday evenings. Other evenings are available for groups of 60-80 passengers.

Group bookings on all scheduled trains may be made and special charter trains for groups of up to 250 are available. “Special Interest” groups can also be catered for with escorted tours.

Annual patronage to the railway is fast approaching 350,000 people and in addition to the well-known excursion train services, its unique products include:

- The Dinner & Dance Train – selected Friday & Saturday evening

- The Steam & Cuisine Luncheon Train– daily first class service

- Days out with Thomas the Tank Engine

- Other activities such as Murder Mystery Trains, Jazz Trains and

- Drive an Engine experiences.

- External contracting in niche markets (e.g. steam locomotive overhaul and repair, timber bridge maintenance)

The Railway recently received a Certificate of Excellence 2015 from TripAdvisor which was a direct result from the consistently great reviews given by TripAdvisor travellers.

For further information please visit:

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Monday, May 8, 2017

True or False? More than 90 percent of travellers rely on online reviews.

This interesting infographic supplied by TravelCarma which they claim illustrates the "Global State of Online Travel". Presented as is.

Scenic launches South America program for 2018

Scenic has launched its South America program for 2018 which features a brand-new 12/29 day tour, Icons of South & Central America. With its rich, colourful history, this Scenic-exclusive tour combines the very best of South America, from the history-steeped Havana and Trinidad to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu and Cuzco.  

There's a new Scenic Enrich experience, a horse-and-carriage ride and dinner in Cartagena, as well as a host of new Scenic Freechoice options: think Cuzco cooking classes, off-road adventures in Los Glaciares National Park and a Classic Havana tour.

Also new for 2018 is a Belmond Andean Explorer two-day luxurious rail journey across the awe-inspiring Andes to Lake Titicaca on Scenic's 16 day Peru Discovery tour, where guests will delve into Peru's Sacred Valley and visit the World Heritage site of Machu Picchu.

Scenic is offering brilliant Earlybird offers on 2018 journeys. Book by 31 October 2017 and fly to South America from $995 when you book a journey of 20 days or longer – a saving of up to $2,330 per couple; or fly from $1,295 on journeys of 11 to 19 days.

For more information call Scenic on 138 128 or visit

Up the Fiji creek - with a paddle!

Pictured paddling her way along Fiji's mighty Navua River, MTA – Mobile Travel Agent, Sandra Di Benedetto recently visited the destination with fellow Member Michelle Edwards as part of a Tourism Fiji 'Matai' specialist Fiji sales agents' familiarisation.

Their program included a high-speed Sigatoka River Jetboat Safari and a visit to a traditional Fijian village in the picturesque Sigatoka Valley.

pic: Mobile Travel Agent Sandra Di Benedetto



Saturday, May 6, 2017

2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games Promotion at Snow Travel Expos Sydney & Melbourne

Korea Tourism Organization will participate in the Snow Travel Expos in Sydney on Sunday, 21 May and Melbourne on the following Sunday, 28 May, 2017 with the main aim being the promotion of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games being held in Korea from 9-25 February, 2018.

Five major ski resorts from Korea will join the Snow Travel Expo in Sydney on Sunday, 21st May, 2017 at the new International Convention Centre, (ICC) Darling Harbour for the first time. They are ski resorts - Alpensia, Daemyung, High 1, Phoenix Park and Yongpyong.

Alpensia, Phoenix Park and Yongpyong are all directly involved as venues for the upcoming Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games so will be able to answer any direct questions from the public regarding their resorts.

Korean Air, the official partner airline for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will also be on the Korea stand at the Sydney Snow Travel Expo on 21 May.

The Korea stand will also host CoSport, the authorised ticket reseller for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Australia. Tickets and packages are already on sale online at and are selling well.

A highlight of the Korea stand will be a virtual reality ski jump experience being brought to Australia from Korea for the Sydney Snow Travel Expo only. Visitors to the Expo can enjoy a virtual ski jump experience as if they are competing in the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Brochures and materials relating to the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be distributed freely as well as small giveaways. Korea Tourism Organization will provide advice and assistance to visitors at both the Sydney and Melbourne Snow Travel Expos in regard to travelling to the Games as well as general travel information on what to do and see in Korea.

Interested parties can see more about the Snow Travel Expos in Sydney and Melbourne on the Snow Travel Expo's website:

Come along and experience the fun and enjoyment of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Korea stand at the Snow Travel Expo. Have your photo taken with Soohorang (the White Tiger) and Bandabi (the Moon Bear) who are the official mascots for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics.

Official Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic & Paralympic Games website:

Information on Tickets & Tour Packages visit CoSport website:

Website: on Facebook:


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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bangkok remains most visited Asia-Pacific destination in Mastercard Index 2017

Bangkok has retained its place as the Top Destination in terms of Visitor Numbers out of 171 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the latest figures from the influential Mastercard Asia-Pacific Destinations Index 2017.

Bangkok remains most visited Asia-Pacific destination in Mastercard Index 2017
Bangkok welcomed 19.3 million international overnight arrivals in 2016 of the 339.2 million visits made to the 171 Asia-Pacific destinations on the Mastercard list. This put the Thai capital above second place Singapore, which attracted 13.1 million. Thai destinations Phuket and Pattaya also placed in the Top Ten on the report, with 9.1 million and 8.1 million overnight visits, respectively.

The Mastercard Asia-Pacific Destinations Index 2017 ranks 171 destinations in 22 countries. These include resorts, towns and cities and are ranked in terms of the total number of international overnight arrivals, cross-border spending, and the total number of nights spent at each destination.

Mr.Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, "Bangkok once again takes top place in the Mastercard listing, showing how attractive the city is to tourists and business travellers who visit knowing they'll find a city that will impress and meet their needs. Whether they are just passing through or want to explore the amazing shopping, food scene, history and entertainment, visitors find that in this most exciting of destinations, there's something for everyone."

Bangkok also topped the list of total nights stayed with 87.6 million nights, showing that visitors to Asia-Pacific destinations are travelling for longer periods. In 2016, visitors to the region stayed for 1,768.7 million nights, compared with 1,023.1 million nights in 2009, representing an 8.1 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR).

In terms of overall tourism expenditure in the region, Bangkok took second place with spending of US$12.7 billion of the US$244.9 billion spent in 2016. Singapore topped the list with US$15.4 billion. The growing numbers of tourists from China and South Korea helped to boost these figures to the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile, China was the top source market for visitors to Bangkok with affluent Chinese seeking out shopping and dining experiences in the region.

The Mastercard Asia-Pacific Destinations Index is an off-shoot of the annual Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index and reflects the increasing importance of the Asia-Pacific region for tourism. In 2016, five of the ten most visited cities in the world were in the Asia-Pacific region.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Chocolate cake frenzy at this year's Leura Harvest Festival

The ultimate chocolate cake parade marks this year's Leura Harvest Festival

The boutique Leura village in the Blue Mountains will be transformed into a country fair and interactive sustainable-living experience at the Leura Harvest Festival this weekend.

The festival on Sunday 7 May, will feature everything from micro-farming stalls and local organic food producers to homemade scarecrows, pet chooks on show, and a chocolate cake parade culminating in a sweet public feast.

Now in its fourth year, the Leura Harvest Festival honours the region's natural food bowl and highlights the latest in sustainable living initiatives at more than 70 market stalls under the famous cherry trees along the mall.

Along with fresh produce and locally grown plants and herbs, this annual event will see stallholders showcasing everything from solar-powered cars, upcycled and recycled fashion and jewellery, handcrafted ceramics and art, and luscious handmade beauty products.

In true harvest style there will be organic cuisine and locally crafted wines and ciders – all produced within a 100-mile radius of Leura.

The festival also features a series of homespun events for all ages, including the ever-popular Pet Chook Show, the return of Birches of Leura's fabulous Scarecrow Competition and the ultimate Chocolate Cake Competition.

Presented by Josophans Fine Chocolates, the cake competition will see home and professional bakers walk down the Mall with their delicious creations before the judging begins at 1.30pm.  Once the winners are announced the chocolate indulgence begins, with free slices of cake provided to onlookers.

For more details on the Leura Harvest Festival, visit

Friday, April 21, 2017

Silversea flagship, Silver Muse, christened in Monaco

Silver Muse christened by Silversea Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio's daughter, Costanza Lefebvre, in Monaco

The ninth ship in the Silversea fleet offers the highest expression of excellence at sea

Ultra-luxury cruise line, Silversea, welcomed VIPs and other distinguished guests to Port Hercule in the heart of Monaco yesterday, including: His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco; His Excellency Minister of State of the Principality, Serge Telle; His Excellency Archbishop of Monaco Barsi; Mr. Peter Greenberg (CBS-TV Anchor and News Travel Editor, Master of  Ceremony); Mr. Geoffrey Kent (Abercrombie & Kent Founder) and Mr. Gerald Lawless (Chairman of WTCC), for an intimate ceremony marking the christening of the latest addition to the fleet, Silver Muse. 

The historic celebration, hosted by Silversea Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, was honoured with incredible performances by the Sinfonietta Orchestra of Rome and renowned violinist Charlie Siem, both of whom enriched the ceremony with sublimely moving musical renditions.

Silver Muse, the ninth ship in the Silversea fleet, caters to the most discerning passengers at sea, offering the highest expression of elegance and comfort while aiming to redefine the ultra-luxury cruising experience.

Over the past two weeks, guests from around the world were invited to preview the new flagship on a number of exclusive voyages in the Mediterranean. Initial feedback from media, as well as trade and industry representatives has been overwhelmingly positive, with the quality of the finished Fincantieri vessel and Silversea's level of service by the Silver Muse crew exceeding guests' expectations.  

Accommodating 596 passengers, the ship boasts an unrivalled selection of dining options on board, including three restaurants new to the Silversea fleet: Atlantide, a seafood and grill concept representing the ultimate in culinary excellence and creativity by using the finest ingredients sourced from around the world; the Asian-accented Indochine; and an Italian-themed poolside restaurant, Spaccanapoli, which serves homemade Italian pizzas throughout the day. With the addition of these new culinary venues, Silver Muse guests have a choice of eight onboard restaurants and the freedom to dine on "anything, anywhere, at any time" on the ship.

Silver Muse is also home to the unique Zàgara Beauty Spa, which offers a relaxing sanctuary while transporting guests on a journey of the five senses tailored to their individual needs and preferences.

Monaco is not merely the base of Silversea's operations, it is also the home of the company's proud Monegasque history. Silversea shares the culture, traditions and values of the Principality with the world, with its nine ships visiting more than 900 different ports of call each year.

Attending the christening ceremony, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco said: "On behalf of the Principality of Monaco, I would like to extend a warm welcome to Silver Muse, its crew and passengers. She represents the next generation of cruise ships with respect to both fuel efficiency and energy saving technology. We share with Silversea common values and principles surrounding responsible environmental practices, and the development of sustainable business activities. The preservation of the oceans is a crucial priority for future generations."

Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Silversea Chairman, said: "The close ties between Silversea and the Principality of Monaco reflect not only our commitment to this beautiful region but also to the history and values to which we adhere. Silversea is an Italian, family-owned business, yet our heart will always be shared with the Principality as we continue to move forward. As the home of Silversea, Monaco was always the natural choice for the christening of our new flagship, Silver Muse, and it is with great pleasure that we can share this milestone with both the residents and guests of the Principality."

Roberto Martinoli, CEO of Silversea Cruises, added: "Silversea is associated with exceptional quality and voyages that leave long-lasting memories of discovery and wonder. As we continue to invest in our entire fleet, Silver Muse offers guests a taste of what is to come. Silver Muse represents an evolution of the Silversea hallmarks that set the company apart from the competition. With eight dining options, offering 28 varieties of culinary delights, Silver Muse has redefined the art of gastronomy at sea. With more open-air spaces and state-of-the-art facilities on board, we are positive that both new and returning guests will enjoy unforgettable memories."

For more information contact your travel professional or Silversea Cruises on +61 2 9255 0600 or 1300 306 872 (Australia) or 0800 701 427 (New Zealand), or visit

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Pet Dinosaur in the Blue Mountains

Cinematic Pet Dinosaurs come alive in the Blue Mountains Jurassic landscape with cutting edge local film industry  

Blockbuster film director, Matt Drummond, has championed the Blue Mountains as an emerging world-class film and television production hub, following the production of his latest movie, My Pet Dinosaur.

Drummond said the Blue Mountains had remarkable landscapes, talented crews, actors and industry expertise; along with a supportive regional body, the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise.

"There is a unique breadth and depth of talent, experience and world-class expertise in the Blue Mountains. Not only do we have leading technicians and crew living here, it seems to be home to some of Australia's leading actors," he said.

"The Blue Mountains is well placed to become a world-class film and television production hub. Filming and producing My Pet Dinosaur in and around the Blue Mountains was ideal. BMEE's Creative Industries Cluster under the MTNS MADE campaign provided us with invaluable collaboration and support across many aspects of the filmmaking process. MTNS MADE enabled access to resources, which ensured the production of My Pet Dinosaur remained a Blue Mountains region production."

My Pet Dinosaur, to be released internationally on April 22, 2017, was filmed at Blue Mountains locations, including Wentworth Falls Lake, The Old Bank Brasserie in Katoomba, Mt Wilson; and around Lithgow and surrounding regions.

My Pet Dinosaur looks set to out-perform Drummond's previous film, Dinosaur Island which was released in over 50 international markets. 'My Pet Dinosaur' is being billed as 'ET meets Pixar' and takes place in a town where a military experiment is uncovered when a young boy finds a tiny dinosaur. As the dinosaur grows, so too does the pursuit by government forces desperate to keep its existence a secret.

Drummond, has an impressive pedigree having worked with Discovery Channel USA, National Geographic USA, History Channel USA and several other international networks. He has received 3 Emmy Nominations, securing a win in 2014, and 1 AFI Nomination.  Through global interviews in the lead up to the movie's release, Matt is telling the world about the Blue Mountains as a film hub.

Drummond's comments follow the release of a report that shows the Blue Mountains' reputation as a creative industries hot spot is on the rise, with a report showing the emergence of a multi-million dollar industry. The independent report by economic analysis firm, Remplan found the Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise's (BMEE) Creative Industries Cluster has contributed over $13.5m to the local economy over the last 12 months by facilitating film production in the Blue Mountains.

Four local film productions were profiled by Remplan, including My Pet Dinosaur, and their local expenditure was analysed and found these films had generated an overall economic impact of $13.592m over 12 months.

BMEE CEO, Jacqueline Brinkman said, "the case study also shows that 40 local jobs were created as a result of these films. Each of the film producers acknowledge the role that BMEE and the Creative Industries Cluster played in keeping the production in the Blue Mountains."

The Creative Industries Cluster was developed by BMEE with funding from Blue Mountains City Council in 2013 when economic research showed that Creative Industries was the third greatest contributor to the Blue Mountains Gross Regional Product and generated 8% of local jobs. Since then, BMEE has established MTNS MADE, a brand and a campaign which serves as a collaborative platform for promoting the region and its creative excellence.

Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill said the results are highly impressive and show that BMEE's cluster based approach to industry development in the Creative Industries is growing the economy and generating local jobs.

"When Council first set up BMEE, the Board recognised that the Creative Industries represented an opportunity for the Blue Mountains to diversify the local economy. In collaboration with the local industry, the BMEE team implemented a number of innovative and proactive strategies and with this report, we are starting to see the fruits of that labour," Cr Greenhill said.

The Blue Mountains is a popular choice for a range of commercial and network filming activities, overseen by Council and NPWS,that further contribute to the regional economy.

Mayfield Garden Oberon relaunch with major outdoor concert

Big Australian bands cultivate new entertainment program at Australia's biggest private open garden, Mayfield

The majestic Mayfield garden at Oberon will become a seductive backdrop to a major outdoor Autumnfest concert featuring James Reyne on 30 April 2017 as the gates open to the public every day of the year for the first time.

Reyne will perform within the 64-hectare European-inspired garden alongside Boom Crash Opera, Matt Boylan Smith and Smith & Jones, as the finale to the music, wine, food & craft beer festival, on now.

The celebration of the flamboyant autumnal colours at Mayfield is part of a dynamic annual entertainment program just released and includes luxe food events, yoga retreats (5-7 May), glamorous public gatherings, foraging, corporate retreats, weddings, major outdoor performances, and food and garden workshops.

The performances will take place in front of the spectacular Obelisk and Pond, and visitors can enjoy the concert from within the Alle of London Plain Trees with a hand selected range of the finest local food and beverage from the Central West. Floating food options include Smoking Brothers catering, Al Dente street food from Bathurst, the Moubar Vintage 1950s bar and coffee caravan, Tommy's Mexican food, and Two Heads Brewery.

Mayfield CEO Hamish Keith, formerly an internationally and nationally award-winning event producer, has designed a diverse catalogue of activities taking the family-owned property from a garden to marvel, to a new level of visitor experiences.

"Mayfield is an incredibly versatile venue with the gardens as the backdrop for events including specialist themed workshops in foraging, cooking, art and yoga; corporate retreats, private parties, and elegant public celebrations," Hamish said.

Access to the private residential garden is available during Mayfield's seasonal celebrations. Every other day, the public can explore the magnificently curated garden's visitor experiences and horticultural stories.

You can row across lakes and marvel at an 80-metre cascade, stroll through the stunning 6-acre Water Garden and the Grotto; there's a dedicated English rose garden, palatial chook houses, a Walled Kitchen Garden and a Garden Centre.

Mayfield is also a food experience with its café and produce store with 80% of its produce sourced from the grounds, and the remaining 20% from the Oberon region.

Tickets to the James Reyne concert cost $85 per adult and $35 per child (includes garden entry).

For return bus transfer packages from Oberon, Bathurst, Orange, Lithgow and Katoomba visit:


530 Mayfield Road Oberon, NSW 2787

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Australia's new hotel brand

Australia's new hotel brand, TRIBE Hotel Group (TRIBE), is focused on giving guests everything they need and nothing they don't, in a space that is intelligent and sophisticated with high-end design.

Instead of being something to everyone, TRIBE has been created for tech savvy design lovers and urban explorers, who are meticulous when it comes to where they stay and prudent about what they pay. The result is a hotel that is as stylish as it smart.

Its first location, TRIBE Perth is a nine-storey 126-room hotel in West Perth - next to Kings Park - that will launch on Tuesday, 16 May 2017, with interiors by award-winning architect and interior designer Travis Walton; architecture by Idle Architecture Studio; and brand campaigns shot by Nicole Bentley.

TRIBE Perth has highly functional rooms and shared spaces that are luxurious and contemporary, with cutting edge technology, entertainment and office facilities as standard. Gone are out-dated and unwanted services, inefficient check-in and checkouts, overpriced mini bars and restaurants and room service.

Its luxurious and contemporary living areas – styled by Walton in collaboration with celebrated art director Marsha Golemac – are part collaborative workspace, part social club featuring break out spaces, lounges, an outdoor courtyard and TRIBE Foods. Design details include: lighting by Tom Dixon, Moroso feature chairs, Jean-Paul Gaultier cushions, Febrik upholstered sofas, and an impressively curated collection of work by Australian contemporary artists.

Walton has cleverly crafted the rooms to complement the unique and innovative living areas, all complete with free Wi-Fi, signature queen beds with a custom designed bed base to allow for 'out of the way storage', floor-to-ceiling windows and blackout blinds, and amenities including Nespresso pods and T2. Bathrooms feature rain showers and Kevin Murphy shower products.

With modern travellers in mind, rooms include smart TVs, Bluetooth digital radios and alarm clocks, a digital reading collection, and free movies on demand, while the common areas offer printing via smartphone streaming, guest iMacs and plug and play GPO and USB outlets throughout.

TRIBE Foods - a café by day and bar by night – will feature menus created by Tobie Puttock (River Café, Fifteen Restaurant) that will have a focus on sustainability, seasonality and ethical eating. Always fully stocked with refreshments and foods to fuel the body, guests can choose what works for them - eat together or alone; gorge or 'grab and go' the express way.

As Australia's first integrated modular design hotel, TRIBE sets itself apart from traditional accommodation by using a contemporary modular design and construction method comprising pre-fabricated guest rooms with sophisticated essentials for the modern traveller.

TRIBE founder Mark Peters is a pioneer in modular construction and a specialist hotel developer. His vision was to create an entirely new category of design hotels in Australia, with the view to expand globally.

“The contemporary traveller no longer checks into a hotel, they check in to a destination, that's why when we created TRIBE we re-evaluated the hotel model to prioritise the benefits they would want.

“We've focused on what matters so that we don't pass on costs to our guests for the things that don't, by paring back and refining our offering and using cost effective and smart modular construction we're able to share significant savings with our guests, making TRIBE an aspirational space at an accessible price,” says Peters.

Expansion plans are already well underway with new TRIBE hotel sites acquired in Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne, and intentions to expand internationally over the next 10 years.

Created with an international cast of business travellers and urban explorers in mind, TRIBE is set to be a hotly anticipated new offering in the Australian hotel landscape.

Rooms start from $199 per night*.


Traveloscopy | 

Anzac Day in France

If you are coming to France and visiting Paris around Anzac Day (April 25th), then you should visit an area close to Paris that is drenched in Australian history. The Somme is where many Australian soldiers fought, and where one of the most stunning victories of World War 1 took place.

The small town of Villers-Bretonneux, just outside Amiens, is the obvious place to head for if you are a WW1 history buff. It spectacularly recalls the Australian input into the battles at the Somme.

Experts from leading French tour company Paris On The Way have put together a list of the top 5 places that World War 1 enthusiasts should visit:

1) The Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux is the main memorial to Australian soldiers killed on the Western Front. Consisting of a tower listing the missing dead - almost 11,000 names, it commemorates the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux (24-27 April 1918).

2) The Franco-Australian Museum at Villers- Bretonneux tells the story of the Australian Imperial Force during World War 1 and offers an insight into the Australian story there.

3) Well-known both at home and abroad is the story of the ‘unknown soldier.’ The Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux contains his empty grave with the following inscription:

“The remains of an unknown Australian soldier lay in this grave for 75 years. On November 2, 1993, they were exhumed and now rest in the tomb of the Unknown Solider at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.”

4) The ‘Avenue des Australiens’ – is where you can visit a monument dedicated to the memory of the 2nd Australian Division. Remarkable for its many plaques, there is also a statue of an Australian soldier standing guard.

5) The Battle of the Fromelles Museum – takes visitors on a journey from ‘shadow to light’, exploring the disaster of the Battle of Fromelles and the recovery almost 100 years later of 250 soldiers that died at this battle in July 2016. Here you can see World War 1 artefacts such as uniforms and weapons as well as recreations of both German and Allied trenches using materials recovered from the original battleground.

These are just a few of the sights that Australians can visit. Paris on the way delivers a range of guided tours for those wishing to visit pertinent war sites around Paris.

Not your typical tour guide company, Paris On The Way is fully endorsed by the French Ministry for Culture, and delivers tours that are heart-felt, memorable and bespoke…combining French savoir faire with true joie de vivre.

Take a look at the full range of tours -

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Nationwide Songkran celebrations kick off in Bangkok

Bangkok – The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) kicked off this year’s Songkran celebrations with an Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession on 8 April in central Bangkok. The event, presided over by H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, marked the opening of the Amazing Songkran Experience Festival 2017, which is taking place in Bangkok’s Benjasiri Park from 8-13 April, and will give everyone a taste of the Thai New Year in the different regions of Thailand.
Nationwide Songkran celebrations kick off with colourful Bangkok extravaganza
H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn (centre) is joined by Miss Pranee Sattayaprakob, Deputy Permanent Secretary of BMA (left), H.E. Mrs Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul Minister of Tourism and Sports (2nd left), Mr. Kalin Sarasin, Chairman of TAT Board of Directors (right) and TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn (2nd right), at the opening of the Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession

H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn said, “The Amazing Songkran Festival Experience 2017 allows both Thais and international visitors to enjoy a deep appreciation of Songkran in Thailand and understand how it differs from region to region while uniting Thais in a spirit of respect and fun.”
After an opening ceremony which evoked Songkran traditions, the Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession took place on 8 April from 17.30 to 20.30 Hrs. and took a route down Sukhumvit Road, from the Phrom Phong Junction to Pathum Wan Intersection. The colourful procession, which opened the national Songkran celebrations was made up of six parts: 1) Amazing Blossom of Siam; 2) Songkran Goddess, Krini Devi who represented Songkran 2017; 3) Myths and traditions of Songkran told via floats, flowers and dances from the five regions of Thailand; 4) Green Songkran, represented by eco-friendly cars and the Earth of Green Songkran Show; 5) Songkran traditions of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar; 6) The final parade will showcase classic and distinctive vehicles including rickshaws and tuk-tuks from many parts of Thailand.

Nationwide Songkran celebrations kick off with colourful Bangkok extravaganza
The Amazing Songkran Joyful Procession showcased tradition, dances and colour from all the main regions of Thailand.

The grand processions kicked off the five-day Amazing Songkran Festival Experience 2017 which will see the Sukhumvit side of Benjasiri Park divided into Four Zones until 13 April.
Zone 1 is where visitors can pay respect to the Buddha image, experience the ancient traditions of Songkran and learn how to make scented water and flowers displays in fun workshops.
Zone 2 showcases Songkran traditions in five regions, including Pee Mai Muang in the North; Boon Duen Ha in the Northeast, the ethnic Mon-style Songkran in the Central Region, and the Sri Maharaja Songkran from the East, as well as local costumes and the fishing culture from the South.
Zone 3 is where Songkran related snacks and desserts from all regions of Thailand can be sampled, including Khao Chae – a dish of steamed rice in jasmine-scented iced water served with savoury accompaniments.
Zone 4 is the event’s main stage which features shows and entertainment, including Thai Blind Boxing and a Miss Amazing Songkran International Beauty Contest.

Nationwide Songkran celebrations kick off with colourful Bangkok extravaganza  
In the Amazing Songkran Festival Experience 2017, visitors can learn about the traditions of Songkran and understand how they differ across Thailand.

Mr. Patimapragorn concluded, “We hope that after having enjoyed a glimpse of how Songkran is celebrated distinctively in different parts of Thailand, Thais and international visitors will be inspired to head upcountry to enjoy Songkran in a traditional setting.”
During the 2017 Songkran Festival, it is estimated that the number of international tourists traveling to Thailand to join the fun will rise 10 per cent to over 470,000. This will generate revenue of 8.05 million Baht, an increase of 17 per cent over the same New Year period last year.
The Amazing Songkran Festival Experience 2017 takes place until 13 April from 16.00 to 20.00 hrs. and from noon onwards on 13 April 2017.

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