Sunday, 29 June 2008

Small Luxury Hotels

We are delighted to announce that Small Luxury Hotels of the World has for the second consecutive year been named 'Number One Luxury Hotel Brand' in the 2008 Luxury Brand Status Index, beating more traditional brands such as Peninsula and Ritz-Carlton. For the first time, SLH was also named the luxury hotel brand that offers the 'Best Customer Experience', in the separately conducted Luxury Customer Experience Index™, which is based on the views of actual customer experiences in SLH hotels.

A number of SLH properties were recognised at the World Travel Awards, which were held in Sydney and Shanghai earlier this month. At the Australasia awards ceremony in Sydney, Pacific Resort Aitutaki received double honours when it was voted the best hotel in the Australasia Boutique Resort category and also the Cook Islands Resort category; The Lyall Hotel & Spa was awarded best hotel in the Australasia Spa Resort category; The George was named best New Zealand Boutique Hotel, while Blanket Bay was voted top in New Zealand's Resort category. At the Asia & Indian Ocean awards held in Shanghai, lebua at State Tower, Bangkok was named Asia's best Design Hotel; Fuchun Resort was voted best hotel in China's Resort category; Kumarakom Lake Resort was named India's best Resort; The Sentosa Resort & Spa was voted Singapore's best Spa Resort; Anantara Resort Golden Triangle was awarded Thailand's best Spa Resort; and Six Senses Hideaway Ninh Van Bay was voted the best hotel in Vietnam's Boutique Hotel category. Labriz Silhouette Seychelles won Seychelles' best Resort category.

Small Luxury Hotels of the World is delighted to announce that Albergo Pietrasanta and Residenza del Moro have been recognised by Legambiente in Italy as the first two environmentally friendly luxury hotels in Tuscany. They were commended in particular for their energy saving policy, use of organic food and use of biodegradable cleaning products.

Anantara Resort Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, Thailand has been selected as one of the most socially responsible hotels in the world. Only 10 hotels were handpicked for inclusion in the list which honours environmental endeavours and guest experiences that Forbes Traveller describes as 'milestones of hotel-sponsored humanitarian aid'.

La Casa Que Canta has been voted by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine as the Number One Hotel in Mexico, Central and South America in the World's Best Service category.

The Sentosa Resort & Spa in Singapore has recently unveiled its new restaurant which is nestled next to Spa Botanica. The Garden offers an idyllic respite where diners can indulge in contemporary cuisine, which uses ingredients especially sourced from organic or bio-dynamic farms.

Aquapura Douro Valley has recently unveiled 21 brand new villas. The contemporary designed 'Villas do Douro' are situated on the Douro river bank overlooking the river, whilst the 'Villas da Vinha' are surrounded by vineyards and offer a more traditional design. The residences have been designed by well known Portuguese architect and interior designer, Giano Gonçalves. For more information please visit

Friday, 27 June 2008

Join the First Food Lover's Tour of Korea

Judly International with the co-operation of Korea Tourism Organization have organized the very first Food Lover’s Tour of Korea this October to coincide with the 2008 Gwangju Kimchi Festival.

Today there are many lovers of Korean cuisine in Australia evidenced by the huge growth in Korean restaurants in Australia’s major cities in the past few years. The tour will allow members to enjoy the very best of Korean cuisine every day of the eight day tour in Korea.

The highlight of the tour will be getting your hands messy at one of Korea’s biggest festivals, the 2008 Gwangju Kimchi festival. The festival is held in autumn which is called kimjang season, the time of year when all Koreans make their kimchi for the coming winter. The tour will visit Jeonju in the south west of Korea, the home of bibimbap (mixed rice/vegetables). Bibimbap is one of the most popular dishes with foreign visitors to Korea.

Nearby Jeonju is Mt. Naejangsan National Park where you can see the very best of Korea’s autumn colours – the beautiful red, gold and orange hues of the maple trees with the spectacular Baegyangsa temple hidden among the autumn colours in the valley of the park. South of the park is Boseong where you can wander among the green tea plantations and experience an authentic Korean tea ceremony and enjoy some green tea ice-cream.

For those who wish to try their hand at making kimchi and bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef) there is a two hour lesson at a cooking school in Seoul followed by a luncheon at the conclusion of the course. Seoul city offers many opportunities to enjoy the history and culture of Korea with a visit to a royal palace, the national folk museum and Insadong antique street with its many beautiful arts and crafts shops as well as traditional tea-houses.

The tour includes visits to Suwon and the Hwaseong Fortress south of Seoul followed by a visit to Everland, Korea’s version of Disneyland. There is also a chance to see Korea’s number one theatre company ‘Nanta’ perform ‘Cookin’ a show which blends traditional Korean sounds and drumming with the preparation of a wedding banquet.

The tour departs Australia on the 12th October and costs $3,390 per person twin share including return airfare, 7 nights accommodation and breakfast daily as well as two lunches and four dinners, English speaking guide and all transfers & transport. Airport taxes and insurance are excluded. Bookings made prior to the 20th July will receive a $100 discount per person.

For full details regarding the Food Lover’s Tour of Korea please contact Judly International Ph: 1800 880 062 or by email:

If you wish to learn more about Korean cuisine order your free copy of ‘The Wonderful World of Korean Food’ from the Sydney office of Korea Tourism Organization

Email: or
Ph: 02)9252-4147/8

Vroom Vroom Vroom - Rent It Free Promotion

free car rental promotion

Rent It Free Promotion

Here at Vroom Vroom Vroom, we like to show our customers that we appreciate them. Not only do we provide an easy and hassle free way of booking your car hire, but now you have the chance to drive that car you have hired for FREE, ZILTCH, NOTHING!!!

It is simple! Make your car hire booking through the website, or, over the phone with the fabulous Vroom Customer Service Team and you are automatically entered into the draw to win.

Vroom Vroom Vroom will reimburse the winner for their car hire (ie the price quoted on your confirmation email) . The winner and their trip will be featured in the monthly issue of the Vroomster Newsletter.

Sounds great hey!!! Make your booking today and go into the draw.

The winner for our Rent it Free Promotion is drawn at the end of each month.



Sheraton Hotels Launches New Website Dedicated To Its Global Collection Of Premier Resorts

New “” Invites Travelers to Customize Their Dream Vacation and Discover Unique Experiences at 62 Luxurious Resorts across Six Continents

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts invites consumers to discover unique local experiences and hidden travel gems with, a new website dedicated exclusively to its global collection of premier resorts around the world. Leisure travelers can explore 62 unique local packages and search the Sheraton brand’s extensive collection according to specific interests. The launch of the new website coincides with Sheraton Hotels’ global initiative to enhance and differentiate the guest experience at each of its 406 hotels across 71 countries.

Unique Experiences in Exotic Locales showcases resort packages that offer unique experiences in exotic locations around the world. Visit the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort in Thailand and take an adventurous elephant trek to a nearby temple. Witness the majestic beauty of the wild horses that roam the Gila River Indian Community at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass in Arizona. Or, lay back and relax on a one-hour private yacht charter through the South China Sea at the Sheraton Dameisha Resort, Shenzhen in Shenzhen, China. Sheraton Hotels’ upscale collection of 62 resorts around the world also includes the renowned; Sheraton Soma Bay Resort in Egypt; Sheraton Hacienda Del Mar Resort & Spa Los Cabos, Mexico; Sheraton La Caleta Resort & Spa in Spain; and Sheraton Noosa Resort & Spa in Australia; Sheraton Maui Resort and the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa in California.

“While the Sheraton brand is familiar and well-known to our frequent business travelers, we want to raise awareness of our beautiful collection of upscale resorts located throughout the world and give leisure travelers a reason to love us too,” said Hoyt H. Harper II, Senior Vice President for Sheraton Hotels and Resorts. “We want to help consumers do more than just book a vacation – we want them to discover a resort that reflects their ideal destination and creates a truly memorable travel experience.”

Customize Your Dream Vacation gives travelers the opportunity to create a vacation that is truly customized to their preferences by searching its resort collection using more than a dozen characteristics and interests, including: beach, casino, excursions, family, golf, live entertainment, nightlife, romance, shopping, skiing, spa, tennis and water sports. Once a resort is selected, full descriptions will appear accompanied by a beautiful photo gallery and “things to know” – hidden travel gems that are unique to the resort or the region. For example, those who research the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort in Indonesia will discover the Senggigi Art Market, offering a variety of traditional crafts, carvings and colorful pottery. The Sheraton Maui Resort profile highlights Black Rock beach as an ideal spot for snorkeling and a family outing.

Helping guests make connections at more than 400 hotels in 75 countries around the world, Sheraton is revitalizing its iconic brand while continuing its aggressive international expansion by adding 54 hotels and 20,000 guestrooms by 2009. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with approximately 900 properties in more than 100 countries and 155,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched AloftSM, and ElementSM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts.

For more information, please visit


This September a stunning new hotel concept will hit the Balearic Islands: the Aguas de Ibiza Spa & Resort. The waterside hotel is proudly “anchored” in Ibiza’s Santa Eulalia Bay marina. Built by local architect Juan de los Ríos, designed by Barcelona-based Triade Studio and run by the Torres family, the Aguas de Ibiza boasts an elegant and modern ambience. It is warmed by a philosophy of friendly and personalised service that enables guests to delve into the essence of Ibiza.

In all, Aguas de Ibiza offers 112 individually styled rooms and suites. The deluxe rooms and suites distributed across the first three floors all come with private terraces and large glass windows. But the utmost in luxury is reserved for the exclusive Cloud 9 club on the fourth floor – essentially, a hotel within the hotel, complete with its own check-in desk, design scheme, services and amenities. Cloud 9’s luxurious lofts, and the one and only Presidential Ibiza Loft feature hardwood parquet floors, private terraces partially with oversized bathtubs and spectacular harbour views. Special amenities, such as a pillow menu and welcome packs, guarantee a more than relaxing stay. Like all rooms in the Aguas, the Cloud 9 lofts also come equipped the latest technologies – including digital cable TV shown on chic Bang & Olufsen monitors and state-of-the-art, energy-saving domotics for personalized lighting and curtain control.

The interior design by Kim Castells and Jordi Cuenca of Triade Studio is strongly influenced by the Mediterranean. Dominating colours on the first three floors are blue and white for a crisp and fresh impression whereas in Cloud 9 warm tones like beige and brown are used to create an intimate atmosphere. The Torres family describes the style of the hotel as “eco-luxurious” combining eco-friendly materials and technology as well as Feng Shui interior design with an indulging touch. As one of the first hotels worldwide Aguas de Ibiza reduces energy usage by more than 35 percent in comparison to other properties in the luxury segment.

Alberto Torres, seasoned hotelier and owner of the new resort: “Aguas de Ibiza will be the most luxurious hotel on the island. We are blending the charming character of a rural finca with all the services and the style of a contemporary hotel like you would find in New York. This mixture creates an extraordinary new type of guest-experience. To top this off, we are adding a very personal touch to the whole concept because the hotel is family run. My children and I were born in Ibiza. The island has given so much to us and now we felt it was time to give something back.”

The Aguas offers a gym, climatized pools with mineral salts, three outdoor pools - including one on the rooftop with impeccable views over the marina - a beauty salon and a boutique, with wireless Internet available throughout the hotel. The on-site Business Centre spans 4,300 square feet and consists of a private garden as well as a multi-use hall that can host up to 300 people. It can also be divided into three independent function rooms.For top management, the Aguas offers the innovative High Performance Executive Centre.

Aguas de Ibiza has plenty to offer those guests searching for relaxation, rejuvenation or some good ole’ fun. Its sumptuous Revival Wellness Club, conceived by wellness expert Félix Prado, was inspired by the Mediterranean waters for which the Aguas is named and is accordingly devoted to the therapeutic properties of H2O. The quiet oasis offers everything from treatments with Ibiza salts to aromatherapy with seagrass and almonds. For a more social experience, guests can have a drink at the lively Scuba cocktail bar or kick back at the trendy Air Ibiza. With this rooftop bar the Torres family is creating a unique spot on the island. It will be the first rooftop chill-out bar in Ibiza with an exotic red-tiled pool inviting its guests to dip in and indulge. Resident DJs will create the right soundtrack for a good night out in Ibiza´s hottest location with sweeping views of the island of Formentera and the Marina of Santa Eulalia. The Aguas also offers numerous dining options, ranging from sophisticated tapas at the cheerful Alabastro Lounge, stylish Mediterranean specialities at the Oligo: Madeinterranean, to modern interpretations of traditional Ibizan dishes at the gourmet restaurant La Sal.

Nicolás González Mira, Director of the Aguas de Ibiza: “With the Aguas de Ibiza we want to create an authentic Ibicencan experience for our guests. We consider ourselves as hosts welcoming friends and guests to our beautiful island.”

Thursday, 26 June 2008


The coastal capital of the Great Ocean Road - Warrnambool - has welcomed a Southern Right Whale, affectionately known as 'Big Lips' and her calf to its Logans Beach whale nursery – marking the beginning of the whale watching season for 2008!

The whales are traditionally in Warrnambool's waters until October each year – so while you have the chance - get to Warrnambool to watch these amazing mammals. The specially designed whale-viewing platform at Logans Beach allows visitors to experience the whales that venture within 100 metres of the shoreline.

"The winter months are a great time to be in Warrnambool– the town is a buzz with whale sightings, with everyone down at Logans Beach waiting for the whales to breach & blow," said Carole Reid, Chief Executive Officer – Shipwreck Coast Marketing.  

The town of Warrnambool, Victoria goes into "whale mode" during the season and looks forward to their Antarctic visitors, who travel to the warmer waters off Warrnambool to have their calves.  Boats and jet skis are banned from Logans Beach, commercial vessels must be 150 metres away from the whales and aircraft must not fly lower than 300 metres.

Head down to Warrnambool and join in the excitement with a range of special whale watching experiences and accommodation packages on offer. 

The Perfect Honeymoon Destination!

Perisher Blue has the ultimate in options for honeymooners, providing the perfect place to relax and spend time with each other.

A honeymoon is a special time, a romantic interlude that links the rush of excitement of the wedding day and the dreams of a future together. However, between paying for the wedding and setting up a new house many couples find that there is not much left over for the honeymoon.

If looking for a getaway destination that has it all, but won't break the bank, then Perisher Blue is the place to visit.

Journey to the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere and experience the ultimate nature retreat. Enjoy the luxury of ski in ski out accommodation at The Perisher Hotel situated just steps away from the Front Valley Village 8 Express chairlift. Your own private paradise!

Spend your days swooshing down the slopes enjoying the fresh air and peacefully gliding through an extensive network of groomers, undulating and sheltered trails that weave through the magical snow gums. What a fabulous bonding experience!

Take a lesson together with one of our professional instructors and watch your skiing or snowboarding be taken to the next level. Or, perhaps take a snowshoe walk with a packed picnic and be captivated by the sheer beauty of the snow covered vistas.

Imagine a romantic table for two elegantly set in warm and inviting Snow Gums, The Perisher Valley Hotel's signature restaurant. The feeling of a warm cosy hearth, gourmet three-course dinner complemented by a selection of fine Australian wines.

Attentive Hotel staff will be on hand to assist you and can even point you in the direct of the perfect place for an après beverage or a gentle, relaxing massage to smooth away the stress of the wedding.

The perfect honeymoon to top off your special day, look no further than Perisher Blue during the months of July, August and September, when Australia goes crazy for all things white and fluffy!

For more details go to

Lonely Planet mobile website debuts on Telstra BigPond

Lonely Planet and Telstra today announced the launch of Lonely Planet's mobile internet site (m-site) – a new service that provides the Lonely Planet community with always-on, real-time access to the company's trusted and best-selling travel content. Available through the BigPond portal, the site can now be accessed by the millions of Telstra 3G and Next G™ mobile telephone customers across Australia.

At the core of the Lonely Planet m-site is a 'What's Around Me?' feature that enables users to select their current or planned location and instantly get Lonely Planet recommendations for the nearest restaurants, nightlife spots, hotels, shops and sights on their mobile phone. The mobile site taps into Lonely Planet's extensive database of points of interest covering thousands of well-known and off-the-beaten-track destinations around the world, which have been researched and handpicked by its team of expert travel authors on the ground. A dynamic map feature enables users to see the precise location of these points of interest and their proximity to their current location.

"What excites us about the mobile platform is that it enables us to make our services available any time, anywhere – because your mobile phone is carried around with you all day, every day and increasingly understands where you are," said Chris Boden, Lonely Planet's director of global business development. "Through our mobile services, we're able to extend the sense of adventure associated with Lonely Planet to people's everyday lives and provide contextually relevant answers to a new set of questions like 'What should I explore today?' and 'What's nearby to me that's worth experiencing?'"

The site enables those users looking for inspiration for their next trip, to browse through Lonely Planet's detailed destination content, view travel photos from the extensive Lonely Planet Images library, and look through tips from other travellers in the Bluelist section. Additional community features are planned for a major follow-up release later this year.

"BigPond is a leader with innovation and simplicity with our mobile portal," said Justin Milne, Group Managing Director, BigPond. "More and more of our customers are using our BigPond Mobile portal, which includes a special web tab designed to give them quick access to popular mobile sites like Lonely Planet."

Although the mobile site is first being released to an Australian audience, its content isn't restricted by national boundaries. Destination information is available for every major travel region: Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America. When searching for a destination in 'What's Around Me', users can search specifically for what's near a numbered address, cross-streets, cities, suburb or postcode.

Lonely Planet will not charge BigPond users to access the mobile site, however, standard data charges for BigPond customers browsing mobile internet content will apply. Lonely Planet joins other major brands that have recently enlisted to display on the BigPond Web tab.

About Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet is a leading independent global travel information company. It is renowned for its first-hand approach, up-to-date maps and commitment to providing the best information for travellers. Lonely Planet covers the must-see spots, but also encourages travellers to get off the beaten track and understand more of the nature, culture and environment in each destination.  Lonely Planet currently has more than 360 writers, researchers and photographers and produces around 500 trustworthy and inspiring books, innovative downloadable digital guides, an award-winning website, wireless applications and cutting-edge television programmes. Lonely Planet was founded after Tony and Maureen Wheeler left London and hit the road in search of adventure in 1972. They travelled overland across Asia and landed in Australia where, due to incessant questions from would-be travellers, they compiled their journey notes and stapled together their first travel guide, Across Asia on the Cheap.

About BigPond
BigPond® is Australia's largest ISP, with more than 3 million customers. Backed by Telstra, BigPond provides its customers with reliable fixed and wireless internet services and unmetered entertainment channels featuring music, movies, sport and games, online and on Telstra Next G™ and 3G mobile phones. BigPond has received a number of accolades – most recently Best Broadband Supplier 2007 at the Australian Telecom Awards, Internet Technology of the Year at the 2007 Australian Personal Computer Internet Technology awards for BigPond Wireless Broadband, and Best Wireless Operator 2006 and Best ISP 2005 at the Australian Telecom Awards.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Cruise West adds to its Columbia River cruises

Enjoy the wonders of the Pacific Northwest from US$2,199 per person, twin share

To keep up with growing demand, Travel the World and Cruise West have announced 20 additional departures for its Columbia River cruises in 2009. Cruise West was the first cruise line to operate cruises on the Columbia River in 1992 onboard the Spirit of Discovery and has been sailing there ever since.

"Cruise West's rich 16-year history of Columbia and Snake River cruises demonstrates our commitment to the area," said Dick West, Chairman and Managing Director. "This year's new epicurean-focused itinerary, Taste of the Pacific Northwest, has been extremely well-received. Like its popular Columbia & Snake River fellow cruises, it offers a robust enrichment program, creating memorable experiences for our guests in an up-close, casual and personal environment."

The extended 2009 season will not only offer additional departures but four fantastic ships. Guests will have a choice of ten departures in spring and autumn on the Taste of the Pacific Northwest itinerary taking place onboard the 84-guest Spirit of Discovery. The Taste of the Pacific Northwest journey is a culinary cruise that basks the rich history and delicious flavors unique to the region. Guests will cruise down the mighty Columbia River through Washington's Wine Country round trip from Portland, Oregon. Prices start at US$3,299 per person twin share.

The Voyages of Discovery itinerary is offered onboard the 96-guest Spirit of '98, the 78-guest Spirit of Columbia and 78-guest Spirit of Alaska. Travelling round trip from Portland, guests will watch the Pacific Northwest's pioneering history brought to life with a special series of excursions, guest speakers and presentations by the on-board Exploration Leader. With 25 seven-night departures from April until October, prices start from US$2,199 per person based on double occupancy.

Travel the World can assist with bookings for Cruise West, and also put together combined air and tour packages. Contact Travel the World on 1300 766 566 or visit the website for more details.       

About Cruise West

Cruise West – a second-generation, family-owned business based in Seattle – offers the opportunity to explore remote, worldwide locales by providing distinctive, one-of-a-kind, personalized itineraries not offered by the traditional larger cruise lines. Cruise West's smaller ships – ten in all – hold between 70-138 people each, and the casual style onboard encourages relaxation and congenial interaction between guests and crew alike. The experience is personally enriching through expert Exploration Leaders providing onboard narrative and lectures, special local guests from a wide variety of backgrounds, and the library provided on each vessel. All have forward lounges and ample outdoor deck space for viewing and photographing wildlife and scenery. All vessels are also equipped with inflatable landing boats for close-up exploration of remote areas and shore landings.

Destinations served include: Alaska and the Bering Sea, British Columbia, Columbia & Snake Rivers, California Wine Country, Mexico's Sea of Cortés, Costa Rica & Panama, The U.S. eastern seaboard, the Caribbean, Japan, the South Pacific, the Kuril Islands, and the Great Lakes

Q Station Sydney Opens

Q Station, Sydney, NSW:

Located at Sydney’s North Head, Q Station (formerly the Quarantine Station) is a large historic site within the Sydney Harbour National Park, just 30 minutes from the CBD by water taxi or 45 minutes from Sydney

Airport. Along with the Sydney Opera House, it is listed on the National Estate – one level below World Heritage significance.

The April 2008 completion of a $17.3million refurbishment offers guests a suite of lifestyle experiences ranging from accommodation and conference facilities with spectacular views of Sydney Harbour and Defiance, an immersion theatre experience. Q Station has the hallmarks of a contemporary resort, with conference facilities for 150, 75 rooms and six cottages, two restaurants and a 10-room spa that will open later this year. The Boilerhouse Restaurant, situated on Quarantine Beach, caters to all tastes with a modern international menu designed by Executive Chef, Reinhard Roithner who joins Q Station from Singapore, a member of the prestigious Academie Culinaire de France being counted as one of the exclusive 450 chef members worldwide. Guests at the Boilerhouse Restaurant can choose to dine indoors in the magnificent mezzanine overlooking the open plan kitchen or al fresco overlooking the harbour.

LOCATION: Sydney’s North Head, five minutes drive from Manly and 30 minutes from the CBD.


Sojourn by Wiltrans International is offering more than a luxury 6-star cruise from Tokyo to China and Hong Kong in September, it's adding five days pre-cruising in Kyoto and Tokyo, a complimentary two day overnight stay in Beijing, and a night's hotel in Hong Kong post-cruise with private car transfers ship/hotel/airport.

This exclusive 20-day holiday that's based on a 15-night cruise aboard the all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner includes deluxe/traditional accommodation for four nights in Kyoto and Tokyo with First-Class Bullet Train transfers, a Tokyo day tour and half-day tour of Kyoto, and seven meals.

The two day/overnight in Beijing includes return luxury motor coach travel from Tianjin, deluxe overnight accommodation, all meals and a full sightseeing program, while in Hong Kong the night post-cruise at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel includes breakfast, porterage and taxes.

The package departs Australia for Tokyo on September 29 this year; Seven Seas Mariner will sail from Kyoto for Osaka, Nagasaki, Incheon (Seoul,) Tianjin for Beijing, Dalian, the Yellow Sea, Shanghai (two nights aboard ship,) and Hong Kong for one night aboard ship and another ashore.

Prices start from $15,480pp twin-share from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth and from $15,570 from Adelaide with a complimentary US$200 or US$100 per suite onboard spending credit depending on category. Full details on 1800 251 174 or check-out

ADDITIONAL SHIPBOARD INFORMATION: Seven Seas Mariner is the world's first all-suite, all-balcony ship and the first to offer dining by Paris' famed Le Cordon Bleu in its open-seating Signature restaurant; three other open-seating restaurants offer Indochine cuisine, International selections and bistro-style dining, and there is an optional casual Pool Grill as well.

There are guest lecturers, bridge and computer classes, a sports and pool deck, Broadway-style theatre, casino and a choice of lounges and bars.

Veranda Chiang Mai - The High Resort - Opens in Northern Thailand

Veranda Chiang Mai – The High Resort, a serene luxury spa retreat dedicated to pure relaxation, has opened in a private valley with spectacular panoramic views over the forested hills of northern Thailand.

The new resort is sister to the chic and highly successful Veranda Resort Hua Hin, which has become a favourite getaway for Bangkok's trendsetters.

Terraced gardens, water features including a dramatic infinity-edged hillside swimming pool and feng shui landscaping create a zen-like symphony of natural balance and harmony amid this superb example of contemporary Asian design.

The new boutique hideaway nestles in hills on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, the ancient northern capital renowned for its rich culture, traditional crafts and a wealth of tourist attractions including the famous Night Bazaar, a zoo and 'night safari', championship golf courses and elephant jungle treks.

Peacefully isolated from the hustle and bustle of the nearby city, Veranda Chiang Mai – The High Resort comprises two distinct zones – one representing the cultural heritage of the north and the other in contemporary Asian style.

It features just 69 rooms, in four different styles, all with large private balconies and stunning views over the forest, mountain streams, rice and tea terraces.

These include 56 Valley Deluxe open-plan rooms overlooking the valley, 6 Jacuzzi Pavilions with sunken spa Jacuzzis, 6 Rice Terrace Pavilions overlooking rice terraces with private plunge pools, and an exclusive Presidential Pool Villa with two bedrooms, living room with piano, pantry and dining area, private study, swimming pool and Jacuzzi.

All air conditioned accommodation is equipped with modern amenities including LCD TV, DVD player, ipod dock, free WIFI, IDD telephone, fully stocked mini bar and Thann spa bathroom products.

Rooms have either king or twin beds, with luxurious and comfortable duvets, open style bathrooms and balcony day beds.

Dining options include The Higher Room, a fusion of contemporary northern Thai design, set high above the valley, serving international cuisine with an extensive wine cellar and Rabiang Cha, on the lower plains of the valley, surrounded by rice and tea terraces. Both restaurants offer al fresco outdoor dining allowing guests to take in the stunning scenery.

Rabiang Cha is a modern version of a traditional Thai rice granary, serving cuisine based on northern Thai recipes with a modern touch.

Afternoon Tea is served daily at Rabiang Cha from 3pm–5.30pm while The Lobby Bar with an open terrace serves cocktails, smoothies and fresh coffee.

Room Service and Private Dining options are available on request, and can be arranged in a variety of locations throughout the resort.

Meeting and Banquet facilities are available for groups from 10 to 200 in a choice of three venues. Special theme parties can also be arranged at various locations.

The resort's infinity-edged Swimming Pool is spectacularly located high in the valley, commanding amazing panoramic views of the forests below.

The Veranda Spa offers deluxe pampering in a relaxing forest setting. Its private cottages are self-contained spas with large sunken baths, steam rooms, showers and twin treatment beds ideal for couples. The 'Ozone' rooftop infinity pool affords sublime mountain views.

Daily Activities are organized in a purpose-built 'Cultural Pavilion' allowing guests to embrace local culture. Activities include Thai cooking classes, T-shirt or handkerchief tie-dye instruction, yoga, stress release massage classes, Tai Chi, and northern Thai banner craftwork.

A Kid's club keeps youngsters entertained with educational toys and daily programs of indoor and outdoor activities, allowing parents peace of mind whether shopping in town or relaxing in the spa.

A Fitness Room features the latest modern workout equipment.

Offering a total zen experience from the moment of arrival, the resort is distinguished by superb personal service around-the-clock and warm and friendly staff.

Scheduled mini-bus shuttle services ferry guests to and from both the airport and Chiang Mai city centre for shopping and sightseeing.

The resort is a members of Small Luxury Hotels (SLH).


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Australian tourists get thumbs up from hoteliers

Sydney, 24th June 2008 – Hoteliers across the globe have named Australians as among the world's best tourists in the first annual global Best Tourist Survey conducted by Expedia, Inc., the world's leading online travel company. Australians came in at sixth place overall among the 31 nationalities surveyed.

More than 4,000 hoteliers from across the globe provided opinions on the best overall travellers, as well as on 10 specific categories including popularity, behaviour, manners, willingness to learn the language and try local cuisine, generosity, tidiness, fashion sense and propensity to complain.

The Japanese won top prize, with hoteliers across the globe naming them as overall the world's best tourists. German and British tourists shared second place, followed by the Canadians and the Swiss. The survey revealed that the Chinese, Indians and French are regarded as the world's worst tourists.

Australians were singled out for their generosity and politeness – coming in at fourth place in both categories – as well as being among the least likely tourists to complain (in fifth place).

Arthur Hoffman, Managing Director of™, says: "It's encouraging to see that Australians continue to be well received when travelling abroad. These accolades support the reputation that Australians are easy-going and good-spirited."

"Hoteliers are experts when it comes to interacting with tourists, so we thought it would be fun to present some of their common perceptions regarding tourists from all around the world," Hoffman added. "We hope these encouraging results inspire Australians to maintain their reputation for generosity and politeness, and perhaps up the efforts in trying new foods and improving their fashion sense so we can rank even better in next year's survey," he said.

Other notable findings in the survey include:

  • The Japanese are the world's most polite tourists, followed by the British and the Canadians; Americans are considered the least polite
  • The most popular tourists in their own country are the Canadians, followed by the Dutch and the British
  • The Germans are considered the tidiest tourists, ahead of the Japanese and the British
  • French tourists are seen as the world's stingiest tippers, followed by the Germans and the British
  • The French, British and the Italians are considered the most fashion-forward, with the least stylishly-dressed tourists being the Americans, Chinese and the Russians
Top three tips for Australian tourists to lift our rankings in next year's Expedia Best Tourist Survey:
  • Try something different – make an effort to savour some of the local foods and culinary delights
  • Clean up your act – Before checking out of your hotel, take a quick look around your room and pick up any garbage or used linen and towels from the floor
  • Dress up a little – although you're on holiday, do your best to show off some of our great fashion-forward Australian clothing designs

About the Expedia Best Tourist Survey – methodology

he survey was conducted during the period 18 – 27 March 2008. Approximately 32,000 hotel managers from Expedia partner hotels worldwide (primarily in Europe and the Americas) were randomly selected and contacted via email by the research company, TNS Infratest. A total of 4,004 interviews were completed, representing a return rate of approximately 12.5 %. Only countries with at least 50 interviews are shown. [Exceptions: Belgium (n=46), Croatia (n=47), Russia (n=43)].


Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE), the world's leading online travel company, operates™ ( in Australia and also has localised versions for travellers in the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Austria, Ireland, Belgium, New Zealand, Japan, India and China, through its investment in eLong™. helps Australians plan and book their travel by providing a wide selection of holiday packages, flights, hotels, hire cars and attractions to suit their travel needs.

Expedia, and are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Expedia, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other logos or product and company names mentioned herein may be the property of their respective owners.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Ten years young and still flying high!

Air Tahiti Nui, the international airline of Tahiti and Her Islands will celebrate its tenth anniversary this year, and as part of the festivities, the airline has introduced a special "10 years logo" that will appear on all of its aircraft.

Since its inaugural flight in 1998 from Papeete to Los Angeles, Air Tahiti Nui has been consistently recognised for its excellence, having been named Best Pacific Airline for the past five years in the global Skytrax Awards.

"Our tenth anniversary is a very exciting achievement for us," said Craig Lee, Regional Manager Australia for Air Tahiti Nui.

"Our aim is to provide easy access to tropical Tahiti for tourists and business people, as well as making Tahiti a unique stopover destination between Australasia, the Americas and Europe," said Mr Lee.

"We also offer a unique blend of in-flight quality and traditional Tahitian style hospitality, which has been a key factor in our many award wins," he said.

From Australia passenger numbers continue to grow, with Tahiti becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination for couples, families and thrill seekers alike.

From Sydney, the airline offers two nonstop flights a week to Papeete, with onward service to the USA and Europe. There are also two weekly services from Sydney to Papeete, via Auckland.

All Air Tahiti Nui flights are operated with three-class Airbus A340-300 aircraft.

For more information or to book please visit


Book a 5-night holiday to the Panorama Seaside Apartments on Norfolk Island and Coral Seas Travel will give you an extra two more nights for free, throw in a rental car for the whole of your stay – and for the Saturday you'll be there, provide an exclusive Breakfast Picnic Basket so you can get away to one of the island's many magical little escapes.

And the price of this package that includes return air and taxes, return airport/hotel transfers, twin-share in a 1-Bedroom Valley View Apartment, and even a Half Day Orientation Tour costs from just $1089pp twin-share from Brisbane, $1139 from Sydney and from $1339pp from Melbourne.

Its just one of a wide range of Norfolk Island packages available through Coral Seas Travel with free nights and other bonuses if booked by July 18 for travel between July 1 and December 15 (block out dates may apply;) a local Departure Tax of $30pp is payable on leaving the Island.

An optional Norfolk Pass that includes a Progressive Dinner, Murder Mystery Dinner, Sunset Cliff Top Tahitian Cultural show and Fish Fry, a Convict and Kingston Tour, Breakfast Walk, and a Ghostly Walks and Talks with Dinner at Kingston and a Lantern Walk, is available from just $289pp extra.

For full details from travel agents, 1800 641 803 or 9231 2944 in Sydney, or on

(Panorama Seaside Apartments are located within the historic penal settlement area of Kingston where further building is now restricted.

The twelve hillside Apartments overlook the coral reef and are within minutes of a swimming beach, the golf course and shopping centre. All rooms have a full kitchen, phone, TV, fans and balcony.)

A Spiritual Experience with CZ

China Southern Airlines now offers nonstop flights from Guangzhou to Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, gateway to the Himalayas and the world's tallest mountain, Mount Everest.

The airline has introduced two weekly Boeing 757-200 flights between the cities, operating every Monday and Friday.

Although Nepal and China are close neighbours, the Nepalese people offer a rich cultural heritage and a hospitality that is unique not only among Asian countries, but worldwide.

Set beneath the south face of the majestic Himalayas and situated in the birth country of Buddha, Kathmandu has established itself as a highly spiritual destination with religious architecture dating back to 12th and 18th centuries.

"In Kathmandu, the experiences are amazing and the views are breathtaking," said  James Liu, General Manager Australia for China Southern Airlines. "Mountaineering, trekking, World Heritage Sites and even a lively nightlife are just a few of the attractions drawing visitors to this fascinating city."

China Southern Airlines offers two weekly flights from Melbourne to Guangzhou and four flights per week from Sydney to Guangzhou, with connections onto Kathmandu.

For more information about flights to Kathmandu with China Southern Airlines, or to make a booking, contact your travel agent, or call China Southern Airlines reservations in Sydney on 02 9233 9788 or in Melbourne on 03 8676 0088.

To read more about the airline, visit

Vietnam Conference Venues and Hotels join with Best of Asia Travel Marketing

Melia Hanoi, already recognised as the leading conference venue in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, has combined marketing forces with Best of Asia Travel Marketing to bring you the finest hotel and facilities in Hanoi.

Meliã Hanoi is the premium venue for conventions of any scales, whether for product launches, international meetings, receptions or social gatherings. With a wealth of international experience at your disposal, your highest expectation will be exceeded. Let our professionals and well-trained staff take care of all the logistical elements of your conference, leaving you to host it the most successful and memorable one.

In addition to the top facilities of a luxury five-star hotel, our Deluxe rooms are furnished with full-length windows, large king-size beds, large working desks with executive chairs as well as well-stock mini bars and refrigerators (238 rooms).

Click here for the website - Melia Hanoi

Egypt in the Spring

Imagine sending your next group to Egypt to look over thousands of years of history out of your hotel window. A real extreme of cultures wrapped in one amazing backstep in time; surrounded by lavish hotels, luxury cruise ships down the Nile, and shopping in ancient bazaars.

Few places on earth can bring you the sites, sounds and history of mankind, in a single travel experience. Pharohs tombs, museums, Sphinx and pyramids are just a small part of this diverse country. Golfing near the Red sea, theme events, light and sound shows combine to bring you one of the most exciting travel experineces available. Of course, don't forget a quad bike safari or a camel trek. Beaches, diving, spas and hotels complete the ultimate experience.

Global Sales Alliance, in conjunction with our partners Highlife Tours, "The Ultimate Egyption Experience", combine to bring you the most reliable, competitive support in Egypt. Tailored itineraries, imaginative programming and solid experience unite to bring you the best.

To add to the experience, Dusit International bring you the new Dusit Thani Cairo. Opened in June 2008, the hotel combines the now world famous hospitalty renowned at Dusit Thani's throughout the East, with the charm and luxury of Cairo. With the largest luxurious rooms in Cairo (5sqm) , suites and dining and recreation facilities, thi si the newst and opulent experience in hotel accommodation. or

Anantara Resort Phuket, Thailand, Opening October 2008

Imagine a place where visitors can watch baby turtles hatch on the beach, meet sea gypsies to learn about their culture or laze on a pristine stretch of sand that is a world away from the everyday. Wake up to a brand new Phuket where Anantara is launching a new resort and spa later this year. Situated in the serenity of Mai Khao Beach and just 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport, Anantara Phuket Resort & Spa will present a world of unspoilt beauty and unexpected surprises.

Situated in the serenity of Mai Khao Beach, just 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport and a short drive from the bustling beaches of the South, Anantara Phuket Resort & Spa will present a world of unspoilt beauty and unexpected surprises.

Anantara's collection of 83 villas – each with their own private pool – is framed by magnificent Bill Bensley-designed gardens with enchanting paths meandering down to the sea. Reminiscent of a southern Thai village, each villa boasts a spacious living area, colourful silks, prized Thai furniture, and a beautiful bathroom featuring an Anantara signature outdoor 'made for two' terrazzo tub that seamlessly blends with the private pool.

Away from the resort, Anantara will give guests the opportunity to explore the vibrancy of southern Thailand and see Phuket through new eyes with a wide range of cultural experiences. Stepping out on to the soft sand beach overlooking the dazzling blue waters of the Andaman Sea, guests can sit and watch the fishing boats bringing home the day's haul. In the restaurant, diners can relish fine cuisine from Thailand and around the world and then next morning take a cookery class to learn how it is made.

A diving expedition to the Similan Island reveals the cacophony of colours and shapes beneath the water with world-famous coral reefs. Phang Nga Bay offers stunning views of limestone cliffs that float above the calm waters of uninhabited bays and unspoiled sand – ideal for a castaway picnic.

At the end of the day, adjourn to one of the stylish, high concept dining areas. The beach restaurant features terraced seating and an ultra-chic ambiance. The signature restaurant boasts state-of-the-art lighting and contemporary indoor and al fresco dining. For Thai and European tapas, the bar is the place to be. Let our resident Wine Guru help you select the perfect vintage from the Private Wine Cellar – heaven on earth for the wine connoisseur.

Discovery, adventure, culture, luxury – this is what defines the unique experience that is Anantara. But it isn't just about discovering the place. At Anantara, guests can discover something about themselves too.

The acclaimed spa at Anantara Phuket is the perfect sanctuary for a journey to inner harmony. Through age-old massage techniques, aromatic elixirs made with indigenous ingredients and in an environment of complete serenity, our therapists can guide clients to a genuine sense of physical and spiritual renewal.

If guests want to leave the luxury of their own private pool, they can head to the lifestyle swimming pool which features a series of water terraces of differing depths, stylish fountain effects and in-built loungers. Nearby, guests can relax in the chill out areas featuring oversized day beds, divine cocktails created by the resident 'Mixologist', and the latest lounge mood music. For those who want to be more active, three tennis courts fitted with night-playing technology and a fully-equipped fitness centre and health club are also available.

For more information on Anantara Phuket and other Anantara Resorts & Spas visit

Editors Note:
For hundreds of years throughout Thailand, people would leave a jar of water outside their house to provide refreshment and extend a welcome to the passing traveller. Anantara is taken from an ancient Sanskrit word that means 'without end', symbolising the sharing of water and heartfelt hospitality is at the core of the Anantara experience.

Anantara resorts and spas are currently located in the seaside town of Hua Hin and on Koh Samui, both in the Gulf of Thailand, and in the Golden Triangle in the country's north. In the world-renowned destination of the Maldives, the neighbouring Anantara Dhigu and Anantara Veli are a 30 minute boat ride from the capital Male. The newest member of the Anantara family, Anantara Seminyak Resort & Spa, opened in 2008 in the most fashionable district of Bali – the Island of the Gods. October 2008 will see the launch of Anantara Phuket Resort & Spa, situated in the serenity of Mai Khao Beach and just 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport.

Anantara is a member of Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world's largest alliance of independent hotel groups. GHA partner hotels are renowned for reflecting and respecting local traditions and culture through their products and services.

Travel to Oberammergau with Tauck in 2010

Travel the World and Tauck World Discovery will be offering a selection of tours to Oberammergau, Germany in 2010 for its landmark Passionsspiele (The Passion Play). Taking place every ten years, the play is a dramatic recreation of the last days of Christ and is performed by the 1,700 local residents of Oberammergau. As one of Germany's oldest festivals, 2010 promises to be one of the most important seasons as it marks the end of the first decade of the new millennium.

Performed for five months from May to October, The Passion Play has been performed every decade since 1634. The play originated in the midst of the Thirty Years War, where the Oberammergauers swore an oath that they would perform the "Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ" every ten years if God spared them from the suffering of the bubonic plague. This pledge was fulfilled in 1664 at Pentecost.

Tauck will be offering Oberammergau as a two-night option on the 14-day Romantic Germany tour. In addition to enjoying a performance of The Passion Play, guests will visit the world-famous spa cities of Weisbaden and Baden-Baden, and the magical Neuschwanstein Castle. Visitors will travel down Germany's fabled Romantic Road and the scenic Black Forest High Road, whilst immersing themselves in the history of Heidelberg, Munich, Potsdam and Berlin. Departures are available from 15 May until 25 September 2010.

Guests can also enjoy two nights in Oberammergau on the 12-day Alpine Interlude tour. Experience the sweeping panorama of alpine splendor from a cable car, before climbing to the highest railway station in Europe aboard a cogwheel train. Explore the exciting cities of Zurich, Berne, Vaduz, Salzburg and Vienna as you take in some of the most inspiring sceneries in the world. Savor a real taste of the Austrian, Italian and Swiss Alps as you visit a traditional Tyrolean Hütte, a famous Viennese café and a 900-year-old monastery winery. Departures are available from 23 May until 26 September 2010.

Oberammergau will also be featured as a two-night highlight on the yet-to-be released 8-day Munich to Venice tour. Coming in 2010, the tour will travel overland to explore some of the most fascinating sights in Germany, Switzerland and Italy. Departures are available from 21 May until 26 September 2010.

While the prices for Tauck's journeys to Oberammergau are not yet available, you can register your interest by completing the 'Expression of Interest' form on Travel the World's website at To make sure you don't miss out, get your reservation in early to guarantee your preferred departure date.

To obtain further information about Tauck World Discovery, please contact Travel the World on 1300 766 566 or visit

Lyall Hotel awarded Leading Spa Resort Australia

The Lyall Hotel and Spa in Melbourne received the prestigious award of Australia's Leading Spa Resort at the Australasian ceremony for the 15th Annual World Travel Awards held in Sydney this month.. The awards, referred to as " The Oscars of the Travel Industry" by the Wall Street Journal, are voted by travel professionals worldwide and are highly regarded by the travel industry and travellers alike.

"The attention that comes with winning a World Travel Award is invaluable and pays tribute to the professionalism of our loyal and dedicated team".explains Lyall Hotel and Spa owner, Peter Thomas. "As an inner city 5 star hotel, this particular award recognises our resort-like facilities and lifestyle ambience". The 5 star Lyall Hotel was nominated in two other categories and is a previous "Leading Boutique Hotel in Australasia" winner.

For further information:


david ellis

DOUGLAS Ward doesn't look the sort of bloke who'd have grown business men biting their nails, considering bribes or ultimately taking to the drink.

But when this trim 63-year old has something to say, folks in cruise industry boardrooms world-wide take notice: a few of his carefully chosen words can mean the difference between them riding the crest of the wave, or languishing in the trough.

And for cash-paying cruise-goers, reason enough to switch from one ship to another.

Mr Ward is author of the cruise industry "bible," the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships, a massive 500,000 word tome that's the most authoritative guide to what are the world's best ocean-going cruise ships.

His life-long love affair with the sea began as a ten-year old when he would ride his bike from where he lived near England's Bournemouth to Southampton, to stare in fascination at its procession of great liners: Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary, Caronia, Mauretania, Pendennis Castle, Oriana…

And while he eventually got a job at sea, it was not as a crewman or officer, but as bandleader in the First Class Verandah Grill of the grand 83,600-tonne Queen Elizabeth.

Bandleader Ward became increasingly fascinated with what made ships tick, in particular their "back of house" operations, and worked his way through varying roles with Cunard (he rose to be their Cruise Director,) Fred Olsen Line, P&O, Royal Mail Lines, Shaw Savill and Union Castle Lines, eventually giving up 17-year at sea in 1982.

That decision followed chats with some cruise passengers about differing standards of cruise lines and cruise ships, and resulted in them forming the International Cruise Passengers Association of which Douglas Ward was President for ten years.

The Association's newsletter Porthole caught the eye of Swiss travel-product and language company Berlitz, that asked him to create a cruise ship evaluation guide under its name.

"Our Association by then had over 4000 members and I could see the potential of what Berlitz had in mind," Ward says. "It took me 18-months to write the first 250-page Berlitz Guide in 1984 that reviewed 120-ships.

"It was to be updated every three years, but in 1990 Berlitz decided to publish it annually… its 710 pages and 500,000 words simply cannot be expanded any further."

Douglas Ward spends 200 days at sea or in cruise industry meetings every year, and has logged a total 5,400 days (that's nearly 15-years) sailing a-near 1,000 cruises to 1,800 ports, yet he's the antithesis of the overweight regular cruise-goer – because he eats to enjoy, not for eating's sake.

He is the Berlitz Guide, although five associates occasionally review select ships for him.

"We allocate points for a ship's overall impression, its hardware, accommodations, food (including any increases or reductions in portions,) beverages, service, ambience, hygiene and cleanliness, condition of 'cruise experience' and expedition equipment, maintenance, things like stains, how often housekeeping is undertaken, chocolates on the pillow, even that everything's in its right place.

"And while many checks are undertaken with officers or crew while cruising, much of my job is purely observation when others are not around."

The most points a ship can earn is 2000, with the German-language-only Europa closest with 1860; following closely behind are, mega 55-couples motor-cruisers for which Mr Ward created a special category of "utterly exclusive."

Knowing that what the Berlitz Guide says can be crucial to cruise lines, has he ever been offered a bribe to say the right thing?

"I've been offered fine wines, flowers and one owner had his personal suite totally re-painted for me before I went aboard – I had to spend four nights amid the stench of fresh paint! Another had their lawyers dispute my evaluation until I told them I'd found a pile of chicken in the kitchen next to an open tin of varnish… the lawyers suddenly dropped out."

Little wonder as the release of each year's Berlitz Guide nears, for some cruise company board members it can mean restive nights, nail biting and ultimately taking to that drink – in celebration or commiseration.

And Douglas Ward's last word on modern cruising? "To see better facilities for handicapped passengers, and in this age of less formality, while casual is OK when cruising, sloppy certainly is not."



. DOUGLAS Ward aboard SeaDream II in the Caribbean earlier this year – just one of 200 cruises he'll take in 2008.

. THE big and the small all come under Mr Ward's scrutiny: here Freedom of the Seas dwarfs SeaDream II.

Photos: SeaDream Yacht Club and David Ellis

Luxury New Zealand Resort Takes Guests To The Skies This Ski Season

At the foot of New Zealand's Southern Alps sits Terrace Downs, a unique destination resort nestled in at the base of Mt Hutt. Canterbury's Mt Hutt is a winter paradise offering superb slopes and breathtaking views that stretch across the Canterbury Plains, from the Pacific Ocean to Mt Cook.

Now locally owned and operated, Terrace Downs offers a luxury New Zealand getaway just one hour's drive from Christchurch International airport. The resort boasts deluxe accommodation, two restaurants and award winning chefs, an 18-hole championship golf course and stunning views to Mt Hutt – all in the pristine high country setting of the Canterbury region.

In partnership with Mt Hutt Helicopters, Terrace Downs has announced the launch of a new Heli-Taxi service between the resort and the car park at the Mt Hutt Ski Area for just NZ$65 each way – the ultimate in value for money and convenience for winter sports enthusiasts looking to make the most of their holiday in New Zealand's undoubted 'capital' of skiing!

The service is available to both in-house guests and Park'n'Ride visitors. The stunningly scenic trip takes just five minutes by helicopter – so you'll be enjoying a hearty breakfast at the Terrace Downs Clubhouse one minute, and within a matter of minutes you will be arriving like royalty at the Mt Hutt ski field ready to hit the slopes. For added convenience, Mt Hutt lift passes can also be purchased at Terrace Downs.

As the largest ski field in the South Island and the closest field to Terrace Downs, Mt Hutt is renowned for some of the best snow in Australasia, offering 472 hectares of diverse terrain for skiers and snowboarders.

- More -
Mt Hutt opened this season on June 15th and the mountain typically averages a four-five month ski season on groomed slopes that cater for beginners through to experts.

Terrace Downs CEO Jonathan Hendriksen says the new Heli-Taxi service in partnership with Mt Hutt Helicopters is the ultimate in convenience, fun and affordable luxury for ski and snowboard enthusiasts this season!

"It's a unique way to get up the mountain in style and in a matter of minutes for a very affordable price," he says.

For those non-skiing days – you'll be spoilt for choice with the exciting and ever-expanding range of activities on offer at Terrace Downs. From a thrilling "Discovery Jet" boating adventure or a horse safari to ice-skating, blokarting (land yachts), golf or an indulgent massage, there is something for everyone at Terrace Downs.

In the evening, treat yourself to award-winning cuisine in Avoca Fine Dining or relax at Tilley's Bar & Brasserie.

This winter, Terrace Downs will also be introducing a shuttle bus between the resort and Methven in conjunction with local transport operators. The new service will be great for those staying in Methven who are keen to experience Terrace Downs' offering and for house guests wanting a 'night on the town' in Methven village.

Weather permitting, the Terrace Downs Heli-Taxi service will operate on the weekends from the Terrace Downs Clubhouse (bookings essential). Flights will depart from 8.30am during the Mt Hutt ski season (first lifts operate from 9am, base lodge opens at 8.30am). Flights can operate with prior notice from Monday to Friday, weather permitting also and depending on numbers.

For more information on this unique destination please see




Continental also awarded "Best Airline Finance Deal"

HOUSTON, June 18, 2008 – Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL) today
announced that it was named the "Best Airline in North America" at the
2008 OAG Airline of the Year Awards. This is the fifth straight year
that Continental has received the award.

In addition, Continental was awarded the "Best Airline Finance
Deal," a new award category, recognizing the success of the airline's
April 2007 financing transaction, which raised $1.1 billion for the
purchase of 30 new 737NG aircraft delivering in 2008.

The awards are based on votes by frequent flyers around the
world who subscribe to OAG print and electronic travel information
products. Bob Schumacher, Continental's Senior Director for the
United Kingdom and Ireland, accepted the awards on behalf of the
airline at the ceremony in London.

Continental Airlines is the world's fifth largest airline.
Continental, together with Continental Express and Continental
Connection, has more than 3,100 daily departures throughout the
Americas, Europe and Asia, serving 145 domestic and 138 international
destinations. More than 550 additional points are served via SkyTeam
alliance airlines. With more than 45,000 employees, Continental has
hubs serving New York, Houston, Cleveland and Guam, and together with
Continental Express, carries approximately 69 million passengers per

Continental consistently earns awards and critical acclaim for
both its operation and its corporate culture. For the fifth
consecutive year, FORTUNE magazine named Continental the No. 1 World's
Most Admired Airline on its 2008 list of World's Most Admired

From Australia, Continental operates two weekly B737-800 flights
between Cairns and Guam, with onward service to the US, Japan and the
islands of Micronesia. And as a member of the global SkyTeam alliance,
Continental can also add these route options for round-the-world

In Australia, Continental Airlines is represented by World
Aviation Systems ( For further information
or to make a booking, please call 1300 737 640.#

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Winter Festival Full of Surprises

Just when you thought you knew all there was to know about the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival 2008 organisers have thrown some new and exciting performers into the mix.

Late last week it was revealed that Dame Malvina Major would be performing at the American Express Gourmet Experience on Sunday June 29.

This signature event makes its debut at the 2008 Festival and will be a magnificent mix of fine food prepared by internationally renowned chefs, matched with reserve wines from Gibbston Valley Winery and now will be topped off by two magical sets by Dame Malvina Major.

Dame Malvina Major is excited about her trip to Queenstown. "It's been a number of years, at least ten I'd say, since I enjoyed the unique atmosphere of Winter Festival, so I'm greatly looking forward to being there at the end of June.

"One of my *Foundation's Trustees, Alan Pollock, has invited me several times, so I'm thrilled I have a gap in my diary, allowing me to finally visit Queenstown."

"I've often thought how wonderful it would be to perform at one of the magnificent outdoor venues in the region, so perhaps this fleeting appearance can build some momentum for such an occasion, one summer in the future."

Another exciting announcement out of Festival headquarters is the inclusion of two special guest performers at the Fluid presents Lucid3 concert.

Lucid 3 will be joined by two guests for their show on Friday July 4 at the Kawarau Falls Station Pavilion as part of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival. Soul/ blues singer Mark Vanilau from Christchurch will add keys and backing vocals during his guest slot, while guitarist Jol Mulholland, best known for his work with Gasoline Cowboy, will bring his own flourishes to some classic Lucid3 tunes.

Opportunities like this should not be missed so grab some tickets for what will be some of the most memorable Festival experiences.

Keep an eye on the website as organisers are sure to have a few more surprises up their sleeves.

The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival June 27 – July 6



*The Dame Malvina Major Foundation was established in 1991. The main aims are to provide educational and training opportunities specifically designed to assist and develop the skills of young New Zealanders associated with the performing arts, and to support young New Zealanders of outstanding ability and real development potential in preparing for professional careers.


Furama Resort Danang is continuing to forge its reputation as one of Vietnam’s hotel industry leaders with the recent addition of new recreation and leisure facilities, completing its already vast range of guest experiences.

“Our guests are high-end seasoned travellers and our most important asset,” said Mr Duncan MacLean*, Resort General Manager.

“To invest in their comfort and enjoyment with new facilities is to invest in delivering a truly memorable experience”.

Following hot on the heels of the Resort’s March 2008 opening of ‘Diving Danang’, the area’s first dive centre, Furama’s attention became focussed on bringing yet another first to the area – the five-star nightclub, Club Tourane. Located in the centre of the Resort, Club Tourane will offer a soundtrack to suit all tastes. Guests can kick their night off with live music followed by a resident DJ armed with a selection of popular tunes. Open from 8pm until late, Club Tourane also offers an extensive cocktail menu to set the party mood.

To continue the Fabulous Furama experience and to rejuvenate after a night out, guests can relax at the Resort’s new Spa and Health Centre. The Centre boasts a range of treatments to choose from including the Signature Furama Massage which uses a synergy of eastern and western techniques and immerses guests into a sense of wellbeing. Using Deluxe Pan Puri products, well-known for their natural and environmentally friendly properties, guests will enjoy a tranquil, intimate experience in the calming atmosphere of the specially designed Spa and Health Centre.

Furama has also recently commenced a close association with two of Danang’s most current high profile developments - the Colin Montgomerie designed Montgomerie Links Golf Course and the Greg Norman designed Vina Capital Danang Golf Resort. Both properties offer an extension to the abundant facilities Furama provides guests and with both golf courses located just minutes from the Resort, the Fabulous Furama experience will continue within its picturesque surrounds. Montgomerie Links stage one is due to open in August 2008 and Vina Capital Danang due to open towards the end of 2008.

About Furama Resort Danang

The five-star Furama Resort Danang has become a true icon in Vietnam’s tourism sector since its opening in 1997. A multi-award winner for its unfaltering commitment to world-class service and facilities, Furama is not only consistently voted Vietnam’s number one resort, but leading international polls also rank it among the very best resorts in Asia.

The 198-room resort is just 15 minutes from Danang International Airport, with direct flights from Singapore and Bangkok as well as domestic links to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Just a short drive from Danang is four UNESCO-listed World Heritage Sites: the former imperial city of Hue (two hours), the ancient ‘Silk Road’ trading port of Hoi An (30 minutes), the spiritual center of the Champa civilization, My Son (90 minutes), and the mystical Phong Nha Caves in Quang Binh province (three hours). Other nearby attractions includes a stone-carving village at Marble Mountain, the Cham Museum and Ba Na Mountain.

* General Manager Duncan MacLean is an Australian who has been working in Asia for over 15 years and has extensive experience in managing five-star resorts within the region.

About Montgomerie Links

Montgomerie Links has been designed as an 18-hole golf course drawing inspiration from worldwide golf courses including Royal Melbourne and St Andrew’s in Scotland, the home of its designer Colin Montgomerie. The winner of more than 40 professional tournaments worldwide, Montgomerie currently has seven original course designs open for play worldwide. He has more than 10 courses in some stage of construction or design. The other four courses to bear Montgomerie’s name — an honour reserved for layouts where the site and development partners were personally chosen by the golfer himself — are located in Dubai, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

About VinaCapital Danang
The two 18-hole courses, named Dunes and Heritages, will be neighbouring but separate sites. VinaCapital has invested US$130 million into the Hoa Hai golf complex. Greg Norman has completed work on more than 100 golf courses in the world, of which 60 are in operation and 40 are under construction. This is Greg Norman's first project in Vietnam.

Anantara Golden Triangle Named in ‘World’s Most Responsible Hotels’ by Forbes Traveler

Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa has been selected as one of the most socially responsible hotels in the world. Only 10 hotels were hand-picked for inclusion in the list which honours environmental endeavors and guest experiences that Forbes Traveler describes as "milestones of hotel-sponsored humanitarian aid".

Anantara Golden Triangle Named in 'World's Most Responsible Hotels' by Forbes Traveler

Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa has been selected as one of the most socially responsible hotels in the world. Only 10 hotels were hand-picked for inclusion in the list which honours environmental endeavors and guest experiences that Forbes Traveler describes as "milestones of hotel-sponsored humanitarian aid".

The resort, one of the most luxurious in Northern Thailand is renowned for its many efforts to protect the environment and promote environmental conservation. An undisputed highlight of a guest's stay and the resort's conservation efforts would have to be a visit to the elephant camp. Set within the a lush bamboo forest, the camp is home to 16 adult and 13 baby elephants – all rescued from a life of begging on the streets. On an on-going basis, John Roberts the Elephant Camp Director, works closely with the Thai government's Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang (located 600km north of the Thai capital Bangkok) to develop Anantara's camp as an elephant sanctuary.

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were an estimated 100,000 elephants in the former Siam. According to latest estimates, the elephant population in Thailand has dwindled to just over 4,000. Some 2,500 are domesticated elephants, while a mere 1,500 roam freely in the wild.

Alarmingly, overall numbers are further decreasing, making projects like Anantara's Elephant Camp vital to the success of national conservation efforts. With legislation in place to ban elephants from 'working' in cities, there are few alternatives for the continued existence of domesticated elephants. The common sight of elephants today in many large Thai cities appears to be a novelty at first, but the sad reality is that they are used for begging, are often not well fed and live in unsuitable conditions. And that's what essentially gave birth to Anantara's Elephant Camp – the realisation that an alternative could be offered to the mahouts, their families and elephants… A place where the animals are rehabilitated in their native habitat – assured of medical care and sustenance – while the mahout and his family are also well taken care of.

Guests at Anantara Golden Triangle are also offered the rare opportunity to learn to 'drive' an elephant by choosing to undertake a unique three-day mahout training course. As well as learning the mahout commands and some log rolling skills, guests can take their pachyderm charge bathing, partake in mahout camp life and gain a greater understanding of their three-tonne mount from Roberts. The funds raised from running the Mahout training courses along with guest donations are valuable in ensuring the continued existence of the Anantara Elephant Camp.

For additional information on the happenings at the Anantara Elephant Camp, log onto John Roberts' blog or view directly at
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Anantara is taken from an ancient Sanskrit word that means 'borderless water', a name chosen for this element's association in many Asian cultures with wealth and good fortune. Inspired by local architecture and sensitive to the indigenous culture, Anantara Resorts are currently located in the seaside town of Hua Hin (220kms south of Bangkok), on Koh Samui in the Gulf of Thailand and in the Golden Triangle in the country's north. In the world-renowned destination of the Maldives, Anantara Resort Dhigu (2006) and Anantara Resort Veli (2008) are a 30 minute boat ride from the capital Male. The newest member of the Anantara family, Anantara Resort Seminyak, opened in March 2008 in this most fashionable district of Bali – the Island of the Gods. October 2008 will see the launch of Anantara Resort Phuket situated in the serenity of Mai Kao Beach, just 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport.

Anantara Resort Golden Triangle is located 60km north of Chiang Rai's international airport. For enquiries and reservations, please call + 66 (0) 5378 4084 or + 66 (0) 2 477 0760 or email For more information, visit


KATAMANDA RESORT, located at Kata, in Phuket, Thailand, has appointed Aviation & Tourism International as its representative for Australia & New Zealand.

Located in a secluded hideaway just above Kata Beach in Phuket,

Katamanda is a collection of luxury villas offering every home style amenity to discerning clients.

Privately owned, the villas are available for short or long term use, and have been designed for complete away from home living.

Each villa has been individually architect designed, range from 2-6 bedrooms, and come complete with full size kitchen and living area. Most also have private pools, and are serviced daily.

Katamanda also has available a full size tennis court, fitness centre, coffee shop and 24 hour security.

Two of Phuket’s finest beaches, Kata Beach and Kata Noi Beach, are just 200 metres away, as is the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Kata Village, with its shops and restaurants.

For information about Katamanda please contact:

First Small Luxury Hotel Opens in Dominican Republic

The Peninsula House Brings European Flair to Samana Peninsula

Pure luxury, world-class service and unparalleled elegance have risen to a new level in the Dominican Republic with the addition of an exceptional new hotel de charm, The Peninsula House, which opened its doors in late February 2008.

The only hotel of its kind in the country, The Peninsula House provides discriminating travelers with a chance to experience five-star amenities while enjoying a relaxed and private ambiance reminiscent of visiting a friend's Caribbean home.

The architecture of The Peninsula House evokes the traditional 18th century Caribbean plantation house as carefully researched by owner Thomas Stamm of South Africa. He then brought on board renowned French architect Serge Robin who has been named as one of Architectural Digest's Top 100 Designers and Architects. The result is a stunning, 18,000-square-foot estate sited on a 15-acre bluff overlooking the Atlantic and the pristine 12-mile Coson beach of the Samana Peninsula.

"We are thrilled to welcome guests to The Peninsula House," says Stamm. "Our goal was to create an exceptional five-star experience in an untouched Caribbean location where one can truly feel as though they are escaping, yet still surround themselves with touches of elegance, sophistication and creature comforts."

Upon arrival and after guests are through gasping at this young hotel's exterior beauty, they are led up grand staircases to six spacious junior suites outfitted with dramatic high ceilings and crown moldings, hardwood floors and four posted king beds draped with Frette linens. Oversized bathrooms feature mahogany soaking tubs and walk-in rainforest showers. Sitting areas are complimented by French doors opening onto expansive verandas with views of the ocean and gardens. All accommodations are appointed with flat screen TVs and DVD players, satellite and WiFi. Additionally, there are Bose docking stations and, for those traveling without tunes, a selection of fully loaded ipods is available to satisfy personal musical tastes.

Of particular charm at The Peninsula House is the museum-quality art and antiques collection, which Stamm's mother, Marie-Claude Thiebault, a native of France, has nurtured during her years of traveling the world. Purchased in galleries and flea markets around the globe, the collection features works by Seruchi Chang, one of India's top painters from Bombay; Louis 15th chairs; 18th century Burmese and Indonesian marionette puppets; a Chinese artifact dating from BC; and drawings by famous Greek artist Fassianos illustrating poems of French poet Paul Seghers, among many others. Considered works of art in their own right, a total of 21 antique crystal chandeliers hang throughout the hotel (with at least one in each suite) and Turkish carpets adorn floors.

The meticulous design elements inside are carried outside as well, where lush gardens and an infinity pool grace the hillside of the estate. Here guests can enjoy a lounge area with fully stocked refrigerator, as well as WiFi for those needing to check in with the office in between laps and sunbathing. Also located poolside is The Chapel, an intimate structure where guests receive pampering massages. Full body and facial treatments are also available in the comfort of the guest's suite. A full-service spa is planned for the property in 2009.

Included in the nightly rate is a gourmet, alfresco breakfast where freshly baked croissants, breads and pain au chocolate are complimented by juices made with fruits harvested from the hotel's organic gardens. Hot breakfast items, fresh fruit plates and a selection of fine teas and coffee are also served.

Lunches are taken at the hotel's Beach Restaurant located directly on a secluded section of Coson Beach. Menus here blend French with Caribbean and utilize fresh fish, locally raised beef and game.

In the evening guests have the option to dine on-property and enjoy the talents of Chef Cary Guy who invites curious food lovers into his kitchen to sip wine while he prepares artisanal delicacies. Menus change nightly and include dishes such as semi cured manchego cheese soufflé and ceviche of dorado, tournedos Rossini on a bed of rosti potatoes and roasted quails with a caramelized onion and raisin sauce followed by freshly baked desserts and imported French cheeses. To compliment the cuisine, the hotel boasts a world-class wine cellar featuring bottles of Château Neuf du Pape, Chablis Premier Cru and Salmon-Billecart Rosé, to name just a few.

Nearby activities include whale watching excursions, horseback riding, island tours, kite and wind surfing, surfing and deep sea fishing. Evenings guests can venture in to Las Terranas village where old fishing shacks have been renovated into beachfront lounges featuring live music, revolving art exhibits and the perfect ambiance to enjoy a tropical sunset cocktail.

The Peninsula House is accessed by commercial flights via Aerodomca airline from Santa Domingo or by private plane from Santiago. Both arrive at Portillo Airport, a 15 minute drive from the hotel. Additionally, the estate is equipped with a private helicopter pad. American Airlines also plans to service El Catay International Airport (a 45 minute drive from the hotel) via direct flights from Miami beginning later this year.

Nightly rates are $520 inclusive of full breakfast. Rates are $690 during two week period leading up to Christmas to just after New Years Day.

For information please visit or call (809) 307-1827.

Friday, 20 June 2008

‘Sex and the City’ Mixologist Blends Cocktails for SEVVA

A renowned 'mixologist' who blended exotic drinks on the TV series 'Sex and the City' has designed a new cocktail menu with an Asian twist at ultra-fashionable SEVVA located in the Penthouse of Prince's Building in Central, Hong Kong.

New Yorker Joseph Boroski attracted the attention of the celebrated show's producers as a creative and entertaining 'cocktail creator' at such trendy Manhattan bars as Monkey Bar, Sapa, Kemia at Marseille, SBNY, Sixty Thompson, AZ, Crowbar and Amuse.

His eclectic creations now debut in Hong Kong at SEVVA, the city's most chic and glamorous, yet relaxed restaurant and bar in Central.

Asian-influenced cocktails range from the "The Mojito: SEVVA Style" and "Bloody Mary in Asia" (incorporating wasabi and lemongrass) to the "SEVVA Sexy Pink Sangria", "T-Rated" (including gin and Chinese tea), "Ginseng & Pink Grapefruit Cosmopolitan", alcohol-free "Green Yum-Yum" and the irresistible "I Know I'm Beautiful".

A selection of some of Joseph's signature Manhattan specialties are also incorporated on the list, including the "New York Martini", "Melons: A Modern Manhattan", "Dew of the Sea Margarita" and the unusual "Cabbage Caipariña".

Priced from around HK$110-150, the unique cocktails for SEVVA add yet more glamour to the new penthouse venue with its wrap-around terrace that showcases sweeping harbour and city views.

SEVVA Hong Kong, 25/F Princes Building, Central Hong Kong.
For reservations or enquiries, please contact (852) 2537 1388.

About Bonnie Gokson
Best known for her creative contributions to the fashion, luxury & lifestyle industry, Bonnie Gokson is recognised as one of Asia's most accomplished contemporary women.

She has been involved in conceptualising and producing some of the most memorable events in Hong Kong as well as launching of numerous stores both in fashion and lifestyle. This includes Joyce Cafes of Asia.

She is currently the "overall creative-eye" for the owner's group of the new W and Ritz Carlton Hotels in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Bonnie's projects, which have had a lasting impact on the lifestyle industry in Asia, are considered by many to be art forms, and are constantly imitated.

To every project she undertakes, she brings a unique talent for identifying, articulating and realising a trend or a mood, and displays an unparalleled passion for her work.

SEVVA is the culmination of her study of the latest trends globally and her characteristic creative flair.

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