Monday, 31 January 2011

Day Out with Thomas 2011 Flood Appeal Day raises $7,700

Over 1,400 visitors to The Workshops Rail Museum's Day out with Thomas 2011 Flood Appeal Day yesterday generously contributed $7,791.60 to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal.

The Workshops Rail Museum waived the normal entry price on the last day of the Day out with Thomas 2011 summer holiday event, instead asking visitors for a donation to the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal at the gate.

A further $403.80 has been raised throughout January via donation boxes at the Museum.

Director of The Workshops Rail Museum Andrew Moritz said he wished to thank the people of South East Queensland for supporting the event.

"The Premier's Flood Relief Appeal is an important way to assist those affected by the flood and we are proud to be part of this initiative," Mr Moritz said.

Mr Moritz also took the opportunity to announce that the Day out with Thomas 2011 event would return for an encore season in the Autumn school holidays from 16 April to 2 May 2011.

"We are running this event again to ensure that the families who were prevented from visiting the event in January due to the floods have the opportunity to meet Thomas and enjoy all of the fun interactive activities on offer."

The Workshops Rail will continue taking donations for the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal. Donations can be made at donation buckets at the Ticket Office, at any register at the Museum and online at

The Workshops Rail Museum is part of the Queensland Museum and is winner of Australian and Queensland Tourism Awards for Heritage and Cultural Tourism.

For further information about the event visit or call the Day out with Thomas 2011 hotline (07) 3432 5197.

A Private Outdoor Haven - The Langham, Melbourne's New Terrace Rooms

The Langham, Melbourne has created an exclusive city hotel experience with the launch of their stylish Terrace Rooms this month. Unique among Melbourne hotels, the new rooms offer an expansive 50m2 private terrace, complete with sun lounges and outdoor dining setting.

Perched high above the city, on floors 19-21, the Terraces offer a private sanctuary where guests can enjoy the fresh air, bask in the sunshine or simply chill out whilst delighting in the city panorama of uninterrupted sparkling city skyline views.

An extension to the Langham's Deluxe River Rooms, the generous private balconies are the largest offered by a five-star Melbourne hotel and are sure to be sought after by discerning leisure and business travellers alike.

Open the sliding door and the Terrace Rooms reflect a décor of understated classic elegance with rich fabrics and a timeless ambience. Langham's signature Blissful Beds and a marble bathroom with double basin, separate shower and bath complete the experience. Contemporary in-room features include an LCD high-definition TV with Media Hub and iPod / iPhone docking station.

Complemented by The Langham's famous five-star service, enchanting dining and the luxurious Chuan Spa, the exclusive new Terrace Rooms are set to become the most sought after hotel address in the city.

The Langham, Melbourne's new Terrace Rooms with Club Langham benefits are available from $660- $1200.00 per night, based on best available rate of the day at time of booking.
Reservations for the Terrace Rooms are available only via direct bookings made with The Langham, Melbourne and online at
To reserve accommodation call 1800 858 662, email or book at

Oracle - Body, Mind and Soul Retreat at Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali

As an island steeped in religious rituals and ancient spiritualism, Bali exudes a sense of mystic calm that is craved by the weary soul in need of repair from the wear and tear of everyday life. At its northern tip lies an area known as Tembok, far away from the usual Bali destinations. Relatively undeveloped by the locals and unexplored by foreigners, Tembok offers an authentic glimpse of the real Bali.

Tembok is also home to the Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali, the perfect location for the wellness and beach hideaway that offers its guests a chance to recover and discover. Take a break from life, and journey to where magical kingdoms once reigned and where beauty and serenity meet. Slow down, simplify and embrace the moment.

Come 10 TO 18 March 2011, the Resort will host its inaugural Oracle Retreat which purpose is to restore the mind, body and soul, indulging in self-care practices to open the heart and guide one on his/ her path. Nestled along the northeast coast of exotic black healing sand with spectacular views of Mount Agung and Mount Batur, the Resort is a beautiful sanctuary ideal for a retreat of this nature. Oracles for the self-discovery programme are Diana Manilova and Marc Cofer (, Wanny Winsloe (, Mike Tan ( and Dewi Hopley (

The seven-night programme includes accommodation in a Kamar room, daily healthy meals including non-alcoholic beverages, welcome foot ritual, welcome and celebration dinners, daily workshop sessions by the Oracles, one 50-minute Balinese massage, one 50-minute Heaven and Earth outdoor massage, one 50-minute Agung and Parvati healing session, evening sound meditations, one bespoke aromatherapy oil blend for burner/ bath, group holistic activities - yoga, Qi Gong and daily Balinese activities and use of Resort facilities.

The Oracle Retreat programme is priced at USD1,400++ and USD1,190++ for double and single occupancy respectively (government tax of 11% and service charge of 10% apply).

Every aspect of the Resort was meticulously created to provide an environment that is serene and tranquil. At Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali it is possible to recapture one's sense of self.

P&O Cruises Serves Up Fine Wine and Food at its New Chef's Table

P&O Cruises has introduced a new dining concept with the debut of its latest cruise ship Pacific Pearl - an exclusive Chef's Table in the ship's stunning Wine Room.

The Chef's Table dinner will be offered up to three times on every Pacific Pearl cruise, with 14 passengers able to reserve a seat.

Set in the elegant, bottle-lined Wine Room within the ship's chic Waterfront Restaurant, the Chef's Table will feature a carefully designed seven-course degustation menu paired with Australian wines.

Sture Myrmell, Vice President of Hotel Operations at Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, said the concept was designed to showcase the high quality of P&O Cruises' food and wine and create a special experience for passengers.

Pacific Pearl's Wine Room was created during the ship's multi-million dollar refurbishment prior to joining P&O Cruises' fleet in December. Launched in Auckland, Pacific Pearl arrives in Sydney for her maiden season of cruising from Australia this Thursday (February 3).

"Pacific Pearl's Wine Room is a stunning space that sits beautifully within the contemporary Waterfront Restaurant so it's the ideal setting for the Chef's Table," Mr Myrmell said.

Both the food and wine offerings on P&O Cruises have been totally revamped over the past two years, with all ships now offering fresh, gourmet cuisine that reflects Australian tastes along with a wine list featuring only Australian and New Zealand labels. Three of the cruise line's fleet now also offer a 'Salt Grill by Luke Mangan' restaurant among their dining options.

"We are very proud of the quality and variety of cuisine on our ships, and felt the Chef's Table would be another way to let passengers experience great food and wine during their holiday," Mr Myrmell said.

Priced at $75 a head including wine, the three-hour Chef's Table experience starts with pre dinner cocktails, canapés and an introduction by the ship's Executive Chef. Diners will then enjoy a tour of ship's main kitchen before enjoying their dinner, with the chef introducing and explaining all seven courses.

Mr Myrmell said the Chefs' Table concept would be extended to Pacific Jewel, which also features a Wine Room, later this year.

Carrying 1800 passengers, the 63,500-tonne Pacific Pearl features a giant poolside entertainment screen, three restaurants, seven bars and lounges, Aqua HealthSpaFitness centre, two swimming pools, a swim-up-bar, multi-level show lounge, four kids centres, a casino and duty-free shopping boutiques.

Pacific Pearl will offer cruises from Sydney throughout 2011-12. A nine-night voyage to the South Pacific departing Sydney August 10, 2011 is priced from $899 quad share.

For more information contact P&O Cruises on 13 24 94 or visit

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Queensland Sunshine and Gold Coasts unaffected by flooding

With media reports touting that much of Queensland was underwater, it is easy to overlook the fact that Queensland's two most significant tourist destinations have been untouched by recent flood events.

Tourists from Australia and overseas can book accommodation in these two areas with total confidence.

Road access is as normal and all airports have operated normally throughout January.

Now is a great time to book with many hotels and resorts offering great discounts for both weekday and weekend times.

Accommodation providers have reported a downturn in bookings as many intending visitors assumed that conditions would be unsuitable for travel or for their holiday.

Popular Sunshine Coast destinations include:
Alexandra Headland
Coolum Beach

Popular Gold Coast destinations include:
Main Beach
Surfers' Paradise

Visitors wanting to book accommodation can do so via

Friday, 28 January 2011

Aman Spa Debuts at Amanpulo

New York : A private island retreat set in the turquoise waters of the Philippines' Sulu Sea, Amanpulo provides the ideal beach getaway. Now, with the launch of the resort's Aman Spa, the idyll is complete. This new facility includes six spa treatment rooms in three pavilions, a Yoga and Meditation Pavilion, a Pilates Studio, a gymnasium and a Finishing Salon for hair, hand and foot treatments. Two steam rooms with cold plunge pools will open in March.

Amanpulo is situated on the island of Pamalican, 179 miles south of Manila. Fringed by white sand beaches and a coral reef, the entire island is dedicated to the resort, with facilities enjoying a spacious layout and complementing their natural surroundings. The same is true of the new Aman Spa - designed as a peaceful sanctuary in which guests can indulge in pampering beauty treatments and enhance their fitness. Located on a slope above the treetops and with views of the Sulu Sea, the spa is composed of a series of pavilions constructed of native wood and other natural materials.

The spa experience begins with a pick-up by spa valet. Alternatively, guests can drive themselves to the spa as each casita has a private buggy for getting around the island.

Guests are welcomed in the Aman Spa's Reception Pavilion which enjoys panoramic views of the sea. This pavilion includes a lounge and retail space on the entry level, and a Finishing Salon on the floor below for manicures, pedicures and hair appointments.

Three treatment pavilions radiate from this entry point. Each pavilion features two treatment rooms, four of which can accommodate two people. Each treatment room offers a deep-soaking bath tub, washroom, dressing area and steam shower, along with magnificent sea views. Floors are made of native timber and ceilings are layered in capiz (shell). Relaxation salas are situated next to two of the three pavilions and are an idyllic place to rest quietly after a treatment.

The Yoga and Meditation Pavilion enjoys beautiful views of the island and sea and is available for private or group classes.

The Fitness Pavilion, located across the path from the Reception Pavilion, is oriented with south-facing windows overlooking Manamoc Island. The top floor houses an airy gymnasium with state-of-the-art equipment. An external staircase leads to the Pilates Studio which offers Allegro Reformers. The lower floor will house Aman Spa wet areas, including male and female lounges with steam rooms, cold plunge pools and outdoor relaxation verandas tucked into the tree canopy.

For more information, visit

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Captain Cook Cruises Queen's Breakfast Cruise

Queen's Breakfast Cruise for Royal Rendezvous on Sydney Harbour

Captain Cook Cruises is running a special 'Queen's Breakfast' cruise on Tuesday 22 February, 2011 to see the arrival of Queen Mary 2 for her Royal rendezvous with her new sister ship Queen Elizabeth.

Passengers on The Queen's Breakfast cruise will not only have prime seats to see this Royal arrival but also enjoy a delicious hot and cold buffet breakfast including a welcome glass of sparkling wine, seasonal fresh fruit, cereals, yoghurt, bacon, scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, baked beans, chipolatas, croissants, rolls, fruit juice, tea and coffee.

The cruise departs No 1 King Street Wharf Darling Harbour at 5.30am, and returns at approximately 8.30am on Tuesday 22 February.

Early bird fares are available now from $69.00 per person, normally $75.00 per person.

Due to possible amendments to Queen Mary 2 or Queen Elizabeth's schedule, all passengers are required to check the captain cook cruises website for final details 24 hours prior to departure.

For reservations and enquiries please contact Captain Cook Cruises on (02) 9206 1111, E-mail or visit


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Sigatoka River Safari adds 15th Village to the Tour

Emotions were high when Sigatoka River Safari officially welcomed its 15th village - Navula Village situated along the Sigatoka River in Fiji, to its award winning tour.

As part of the Sigatoka River Safari, tourists travel up the Sigatoka River in custom made jet boats and visit a different village everyday to see and experience 'real' Fijian life. With 14 villages currently involved, the addition of Navula Village was a result of the village seeing the positive impact Sigatoka River Safari was having on the other villages.

"Navula village had heard all the positive news regarding tourism development in the valley and all the great consequences it was having for the villages involved. They too wanted to be part of it and Sigatoka River Safari was happy to welcome them to the tour "Explains Jay Whyte, Founder and CEO, Sigatoka River Safari.

The village chief was overwhelmed with emotion when the first tourists recently arrived at his village.

"The Chief was very emotional. It was the first time he ever had tourists in his village so it was a dream come true for him. Our passengers just couldn't believe how happy the village people were to have them there. It was truly amazing!" Continues Jay.

Navula Village, which is home to 150 Fijians, will be visited by tourists one day a week for 6 months and its annual income will increase significantly through donations from tourists on the tour and from Sigatoka River Safari who pay a percentage of all fares directly to the village visited on that day. The extra funds will be used to support the various village projects.

Other villages who involved in the tour have used their extra funds to put footpaths throughout their villages, fix and renovate their community hall, improvements to their district schools, complete their village churches and many other culturally important projects.

The village will also benefit further from being involved in the Sigatoka River Safari as founder, Jay Whyte, embarks on a project every 6 months to help the 15 villages he works with.

Past projects have included supplying these remote villages new Easy-Tel phones, installing fixed water filters in every village so they can access clean drinking water any time of the day, seven days a week, giving the villages the company's old life jackets to use for when they cross the river to reduce the incidents of drowning and recently Jay installed a Bore Hole (drinking water) in the local Naqalimare District School after the Government threatened to close the school down unless one was installed.

"I decided early on when I pursued my dreams and started the business in 2006 that I was going to do something regularly to benefit the 14 villages we work with in the hills of Navosa. It gives me great pleasure to be able to help the villages and give them something they really need and normally it's things we take for granted like drinking water" Said Jay.

For reservations and enquiries please contact Sigatoka River Safari's toll free on 0800 6501 721,

Email: or visit


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Flood Song

Community Choir
Some of the members of the Zengarra Zingers, a community choir for Boonah and the Scenic Rim of South East Queensland assembled at Zengarra Country House situated at Lake Moogerah near Boonah to record a song for publication on YouTube.

YouTube link
The link is
Specially Written Song
The Song Dawn Is Blue has words written by Joanne Newbery and the music was written, arranged, played and conducted by Christine Leah co-owner of Zengarra Country House.

Choir Ask You to Donate to the Queensland Premiers Disaster Appeal
The choir wanted to give thanks for having been spared the terrible floods experienced by so many and in their way to help by asking all who watch the YouTube video to donate to the Premier's Disaster Appeal. Although we will never know how much money this will raise we have done what we can, as mainly seniors, to help.

Sending the Link to Other Countries
All the choir members will be sending this to all their friends, especially those in other countries who have phoned to ask if we are all still clinging to a tree, so that it is passed on to as many people as possible.

Scenic Rim Spared
Here in the Scenic Rim, we were spared most of the devastation and the Lakes and the countryside here all looks so incredibly beautiful that we have mixed feelings about how lucky we are and how little we have experienced when so many have lost so much.

Hope We Helped
We hope we have helped a little and that the "Dawn is Blue" means blue sky for those less fortunate than ourselves.

Sensory Feast in Mudgee Region - Saturday 26 March 2011

On Saturday 26th March 2011 the Mudgee Region is offering a 'sensory feast' with the inaugural 'Region on the River 100 Mile Picnic' during the day, followed by the 'Mudfest International Short Film Festival' at dusk.

"It will be a tasty date for food and culture lovers to visit Mudgee for the day or a weekend - attend the events and spend an extra day or two exploring the 50 cellar doors, cafes, restaurants and farm-gates spotted around the Region." said Lucy White.

"Autumn is a picturesque time to visit and the Region has lots of exciting developments and new wines for visitors to try. Restaurants are devising '100 mile' menus and platters, new organic wineries are popping up, and we are leading the way in biodynamics and more sustainable farming practices." said Lucy.

The Region on the River 100 Mile Picnic will be held in Lawson Park, on the banks of the Cudgegong River. Over 30 wineries, chefs and producers from the Central West will sell their delectable picnic goodies and share their approach to sourcing and eating sustainably from within 100 miles (160km) of the dining table.

Free for all the family from 12-7pm, it is expected to attract 3,000 people with entertainment for children including sheep sheering, bands and street theatre.

"This eco-friendly picnic will be a celebration of the Mudgee Region's commitment to eating locally for global change and aims to educate consumers on how they can alter their buying habits and diet," said Lucy White, CEO of Mudgee Region Tourism Inc.

A picnic wish-list of attendees includes Gooree Park wagyu beef, cheeses from High Valley, Fish River Roasters coffee, platters from A Slice of Orange, Rebecca Sutton's Molong Gelato, Wellington Lamb and beer from the Mudgee Brewery. Wineries include Lowe Family Wines, Robert Oatley Vineyards, Robert Stein, Frog Rock, Logan, DeBeaurepaire, Vinifera, Burnbrae, Thistle Hill, Swinging Bridge (Canowindra) and Stone Pine Distillery (Bathurst).

Time and location: 12-7pm; Address: Lawson Park, Short Street, Mudgee
Contact: Event organiser Ray Whitfield on ph: (02) 6373 3176 or 0414 748 748

The 7th Mudfest International Short Film Festival is the Mudgee Region's biggest cultural event of the year and has a new home this year at Bunnamagoo Estate Wines. Set on the lawns outside the new cellar door and winery, enjoy live music and watch 14 short films with hundreds of local film buffs. The vineyard is a magical atmosphere at night, and this year's contest will be hotter than ever with a record number of 600 entries received from all over the world. Gates open 6pm and tickets cost $25pp including a glass of wine.

"It's an exciting development for the festival to have a new venue at Bunnamagoo Estate. Our audience has come to really embrace the whole outdoor cinema experience of wine, food and films." said Mike O'Malley, Event Organiser.

Venue: Gates open 6pm. Bunnamagoo Estate Wines Henry Lawson Drive, Mudgee
Tickets on sale through the official website:, the Butcher Shop Café in Mudgee, Bunnamagoo Estate cellar door (02) 6372 3899 and MRTI on (02) 6372 1020.

The Mudgee Region is a 3.5 hour drive from Sydney in Central NSW. For more information on the events, tickets and touring contact the Mudgee Visitor Information Centre on ph (02) 6372 1020 or go to

Spice Up Your Valentine's Day

SPICE up your Valentine's Day with a range of romantic getaways now offer from luxury property group Spicers Retreats, Hotels and Lodges.

Beat the restaurant crowds on the most romantic day of the year and dine in peace and quiet with a special package at the intimate Spicers Balfour Hotel in inner Brisbane. Lovebirds will enjoy a 3 course dinner, breakfast in bed for two, a bottle of French champagne on arrival and luxury accommodation from $659* per couple per night, including late midday check out.

A city retreat reflecting the best of contemporary design and style, Spicers Balfour Hotel offers a restful and sophisticated escape in New Farm, just three kilometres from the CBD. The hotel offers nine spacious rooms with individual elegance and charm and all the comforts expected from a leading hotel.

Spicers Tamarind Retreat at Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland is also offering a romantic getaway package from $1150* per couple. It includes two nights' accommodation in a one bedroom Falls Pavilion, breakfast each morning, bottle of Moet on arrival, 10 course Thai banquet on one evening (excluding wines), your choice of 'his and her' 1 hour in-room massages and Waterlily spa product gift pack to the value of $60. This deal is valid from 10 - 21 February 2011.

Those wanting to amp up the romance can upgrade their stay with a gourmet picnic hamper including a bottle of wine of your choice (from a selection provided) from $150*, a selection of quality handmade Montville chocolates for $40* or a dozen long stem roses (POA).

Guests can also choose a 'his and her's' treatment upgrade to a Lavish Lemongrass and Petite Facial from $150*, Waterlily gift pack upgrade to include his and her product from $110* and Tamarind cooking school classes from $165* per person.

Spicers Hidden Vale in South East Queensland Country is centred on a grand old homestead and is an ideal country getaway for romantics. Priced from $529* per room Hidden Vale's Valentine's offer includes overnight accommodation including sparkling wine, a three-course a la carte dinner for two in Cotton's Restaurant plus a gourmet picnic hamper for you to enjoy the great outdoors.

The attractive Queensland cottages are scattered within walking distance of the homestead and feature a tasteful colonial inspired design.

Spicers Clovelly Estate at Sunshine Coast Hinterland's picturesque village of Montville is a retreat featuring the best of European estate style in a luxury lodge hideaway.

Spicers Clovelly Estate's Long Apron restaurant is the perfect setting for an intimate Valentine's dinner priced at $115* per person including a 7-course degustation dinner with a 'champagne and flowers' theme.

For the complete bed and breakfast package from $890* per room per night you will receive overnight accommodation, canape's and champagne prior to dinner, seven course banquet dinner (excluding wine), fresh lavender facial for her and a one hour massage for him.

Spicers Retreats Hotels and Lodges consists of seven luxury properties across southern Queensland and the Hunter Valley in NSW.

For bookings and full package details contact:

Spicers Balfour Hotel 1300 597 540 or
Spicers Tamarind Retreat 1300 311 429 or
Spicers Hidden Vale 1300 179 340 or

Spicers Clovelly Estate 1300 252 380 or

*Terms, validity and conditions apply.

Coral Bleaching

Diving sites in 7 marine national parks in the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand temporarily closed to allow coral reefs affected by bleaching to recover and regenerate.

The National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department (DNP), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, has reported that coral reefs at several sites along Thailand's Andaman coast and in the Gulf of Thailand have been affected by coral bleaching - a phenomenon in which coral loses colour and becomes paler or completely white. Corals that have been exposed to environmental stress for an extended period of time are vulnerable to bleaching.

The key to stopping and reversing the situation is to immediately alleviate the environmental stress to prevent further damage to the affected reefs and create a more favourable environment that allows the coral colonies to recover and regenerate.

Hence to facilitate the speedy recovery and rehabilitation of affected areas, the DNP, on 20 January 2011, announced the temporary closure of several key diving sites in seven marine national parks. Coral bleaching at these sites extends over 80 per cent of the areas concerned.

Marine National Parks :
Hat Chao Mai Marine National Park in Trang province
Mu Ko Petra Marine National Park in Satun province
Tarutao Marine National Park
Chumphon Marine National Park
Hat Nopparattara - Mu Ko Phi Phi Marine National Park
Mu Ko Surin Marine National Park in Phang-nga province
Mu Ko Similan Marine National Park in Phang-nga province

Diving sites temporarily closed as a result of extensive coral bleaching covering over 80 per cent of the concerned areas :
Ko Chueak island
Ko Bu Lone Mai Pai island
The islands of Ko Takieng, Ko Hin Ngam, Ko Rawi, Hat Sai Khao and Ko Dong
Ko Ma Prao
Hin Klang
Ao Mae Yai bay, Ao Mangkon bay, Ao Jak bay, Ao Tao bay, Ko Torinla
Ao Fai Wap bay, Ko Payu or East of Eden

All other marine national parks remain open and are operating normally.


The following steps are being undertaken to protect the coral reefs.

To alleviate environmental stress, the DNP has introduced measures to restrict tourist traffic in marine national parks and minimize associated environmental impact.

Marine national park authorities have stepped up patrols to monitor and crack down on illegal fishing.

Agencies responsible are conducting ongoing monitoring of the coral bleaching phenomenon. Every effort is also being made to protect corals that are resistant to bleaching and speed up rehabilitation of those already damaged.

Responsible agencies are also providing updated news and information to officials, tourism-related operators, as well as Moken sea-gypsy communities, to keep all parties concerned updated on the situation and to foster cooperation in reducing environmental impact.

The DNP has also developed measures to ensure the proper management and utilization of natural resources for tourism purposes.

These include:
Stepping up the repair and maintenance of existing buoys and the installation of new buoys to prevent vessels from dropping anchor on the coral reefs;

Promoting better knowledge and understanding of responsible tourism, particularly in environmentally-sensitive areas of marine national parks;

Increasing awareness and promoting a better understanding of the coral bleaching phenomenon, and promoting increased co-operation in the preservation of natural resources and efforts to mitigate the impact of global warming on the environment.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand plays a key role in promoting increased awareness of environmentally-responsible Green Tourism through the implementation of campaigns such as the TAT's Seven Greens concept and Travel with a New Heart, for a Sustainable Thailand. Both programmes focus on the importance of fostering a 'green heart' - urging tourists to be socially responsible and environmentally aware. This complements global efforts to help protect and preserve the environment at all tourist attractions.

These initiatives are designed to enhance public awareness of the need to protect and preserve the environment and restore environmental quality. This is achieved by: raising environmental awareness; by promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); and by encouraging the active participation and support of all tourism stakeholders. These include state agencies involved in promoting tourism, private sector tourism operators and service providers, as well as public and non-governmental organizations, communities, media representatives and individual tourists — both Thai and foreign.


Changes in ocean currents and the corresponding effect on air or water temperature (such as the effects of el Niño and la Niña events, and global warming), especially higher sea temperatures, have been identified as key factors that trigger episodes of coral bleaching.

A change in ocean currents causes changes in phytoplankton and zooplankton populations, as well the amount of other nutrients present in the water. A decline in zooplankton leads to starvation.

Other reported causes of bleaching or whitening of coral reefs around the world include:

Changes in water salinity
Changes in water chemistry (in particular acidification)
The build up of carbon dioxide and methane gases
Low tide air exposure, exposure to increased ultraviolet radiation
Exposure to high light levels
Decrease in light levels
Increased or high water turbulence
Increased sedimentation (due to silt runoff), which relates to a decrease in light levels, as well as suffocation of sessile marine life
Pollution, which is not limited to the depositing of sediment from soil erosion, chemicals such as nitrite, nitrate, ammonia, phosphate, as well as other detrimental contaminants into the sea via river run-off and drain pipes
Pathogen infections
Cyanide fishing


The skeletal structure of hard coral is normally white. Tiny single-celled microscopic plants called zooxanthellae algae reside within the soft tissue and give live coral its colour. Corals obtain the majority of their energy and nutrients from these photosynthetic unicellular algae.

When coral is exposed to extreme environmental conditions for an extended period of time, this results in stress and causes the coral to expel the zooxanthellae algae. The expulsion of too much zooxanthellae results in coral bleaching or the loss of colour and/or the concentration of photosynthetic pigments in these organisms is diminished.

Long-term bleaching can cause the partial or total death of coral colonies. However, if the situation is not too severe or favourable conditions return within two or three weeks, affected colonies can recover their symbiotic algae and regenerate, but this process is likely to take several months or even years.

Tangalooma Shines Under Summer Sun

Tangalooma Island Resort continues to operate unaffected by the recent floods in Brisbane.

Resort spokesperson Penny Limbach said throughout the ordeal Tangalooma was able to function as usual because of its island location.

"Tangalooma is on Moreton Island, about 40 kilometres from the mainland, so we were very fortunate to have missed the floods," Ms Limbach said.

"We often say Tangalooma is like a different world and that's certainly proven to be true in the past week or so.

"Now that the skies have cleared and the sun is shining again the island, which is almost entirely national park, is looking as lush and green as ever.

"It's a perfect time to get away from it all, relax on the beach and soak up the summer sun, or have fun doing any number of the activities on offer - there's plenty to do.

"We are posting photos on the Tangalooma Facebook and website on a regular basis so people can see just how perfect it is." For more information on a Tangalooma getaway visit

Monday, 24 January 2011


The hottest destinations and the hottest hotels for the new year

With more than 4100 hotels in over 850 destinations globally, leading hotel group Accor has released its list of the 11 hottest destinations for 2011, highlighting the destinations and hotels that should be on the itinerary for every world traveller. While some are largely undiscovered destinations, others are cities that deserve to be revisited and that have reinvented or reinvigorated themselves for the new year.

1)    THE WILD WEST OF CHINA – Lost Horizon found

While the focus over the past few years has been on China's major cities – with Beijing hosting the Olympics and Shanghai the World Trade Fair – Australian travelers are renowned for looking beyond the obvious, especially when there is adventure and romance on offer.

China's north-west Yunnan province is relatively undiscovered by tourism and yet offers history, spectacular scenery and the legend of the Lost Horizon. A new Pullman hotel will open in the historic city of Lijiang – famous for its cobblestone streets, original wooden houses and gushing canals – in March and it will provide the perfect gateway for exploring this remarkable region. Start the exploration in Lijiang and then plan trips to see sites such as Tiger Leaping Gorge and then onto Lost Horizon territory and the town of Shangri-La, or Zhongdian, as the Chinese call it. Set 3300 metres above sea level, there is no better place to read James Hilton's Lost Horizon than in the atmospheric Songstram Retreat MGallery, which overlooks Shangri-la. The town's historical Songzanlin Si Monastery dates back to 1679 but it is the natural beauty of the area that really makes this a special destination. With just 24 dry-stone villas spread over two acres, the MGallery showcases the finest Tibetan traditions, with handcrafted furniture, deep timber bath tubs and raised bed platforms above lounge areas complete with private fireplaces – and all overlooking those mesmerising views.

Note: China is the only place in the world where you can stay in an Accor hotel in a place called Shangri-la, written up in a book by Hilton.

2)    HANOI - Indochine chic with operatic overtures

With Hanoi's 1000th birthday celebrations over, this is the time to savour this city rich in history and character. Home to the famed Sofitel Metropole, Accor has just launched a new hotel that might not have the century-old history of the Metropole but has plenty of French style and elegance.  In the centre of Hanoi, Hotel de l'Opera MGallery is just a step away from the Opera House, the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake. It brings together the best of Hanoi – Colonial accents, theatrical interior design and contemporary public spaces. Each of the 107 rooms is a sanctuary of comfort, with 21st century connections and old-world elegance. Its Le La Fée Verte (The Green Fairy) bar is set to become the hottest nightspot in the city. A metaphor for the decadence of the Belle Epoque era, it takes you back to the bars of 1920s Paris where an evening drink becomes a lavish ritual. MGallery ambassador, Kristin Scott Thomas, opened the hotel in January 2011 and you can live like a movie star, luxuriating in the MGallery in between discovering Hanoi's lakes, leafy boulevards, colonial heritage and fascinating history. Hanoi blends the exotic chic of old Asia with the modern, in a city where imagination becomes reality.

3)    PHNOM PENH – there's more to Cambodia than just Angkor Wat

Since Pol Pot was forced out of Cambodia, tourists have returned in vast numbers to discover the beauty of Angkor Wat, but the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, is set to stake its claim as a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with its own special attributes. Once known as the "Pearl of Asia" the city was noted for its French colonial architecture and its strategic position at the meeting of four rivers but today it is known as one of the most dynamic cities in Asia, having experienced huge growth in recent years with new hotels, restaurants and bars springing up around the city. One of these new hotels, the USD$50 million Sofitel Phnom Penh opened on 4th January 2011, with eight restaurants and bars, and the city's first purpose-built day spa of its kind. As Phnom Penh's first new five-star hotel since the 1990s, the Sofitel will make Phnom Penh a must-visit destination for upscale travellers who have previously not been adequately catered for outside of Siem Reap. The Sofitel's cityside front nestles against Phnom Penh's charming old French quarter, itself in the midst of a major make-over, within walking distance of the Royal Palace, the National Museum and Sisowath Quay.

4)    AUCKLAND – ready to kick goals

The Ashes may have been lost but there's always the William Webb Ellis trophy…and surely it's time to bring back Bill! If that's to happen, Australia will need to be standing tall in Auckland later this year, probably with the All Blacks crushed into the mud. The eyes of the world will be on Auckland for the Rugby World Cup in October 2011, but Accor says the city will be a hot destination all year round. The prospect of hosting the World Cup has seen the entire city spruced up for the influx of visitors, with new a beautification program that includes transforming Queens Wharf, Aotea Square and Eden Park. As the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in New Zealand, Auckland has something for every taste, from beautiful beaches to world-class vineyards, and from island retreats to cultural attractions, plus the country's best shopping and dining. Accor is opening a new Novotel at Auckland Airport in 2011, and last week took over management of the former Hyatt Hotel in the CBD and have transformed it into a Pullman.

5)    MAURITIUS - SO Spicy

Mauritius has been on the wish list of many Australians for years, but this year it is even easier to reach thanks to the launch of additional air services. Brimming with historic sights, cultural diversity, virgin rainforests, sand-rimmed lagoons and spectacular beaches, Mauritius boasts one of the world's most global food scenes, with strong French influences in addition to Chinese, Indian and African. Its laidback, welcoming atmosphere and the infectious party spirit of the locals make it truly a paradise on earth. This year Mauritius is even more tempting, with the launch of Sofitel So Mauritius, a luxury boutique hotel with interior design by Kenzo Takada, food by three Michelin star Chef Frederic Anton, and a radically new architectural style by Thai designer Lek Bunnag. With its blend of French sophistication along with Indian and Creole influences, the So Mauritius is set on 34 acres of pristine beachfront, with just 92 detached villas and suites offering complete privacy (many with their own pool) and a luxurious day spa offering signature treatments such as Hibiscus Therapy or a Golden Needles facelift. Located near the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Morne Brabant, this is the first of Sofitel's signature SO boutique designer hotels.

6)    NSW BLUE MOUNTAINS - Cinderella will go to the ball

Tourism to the Blue Mountains in NSW has been down in recent years, but 2011 will see the spotlight firmly on this World Heritage-listed region which boasts some of the most dramatic natural attractions in all of Australia. With endless rainforests, canyons, caves and waterfalls to explore, the Blue Mountains is the perfect destination for adventurers and nature lovers. In 2011 one of the true tourism icons of the region will return to its original splendor as the Fairmont Resort has joined Accor's upmarket MGallery label and will undergo a major renovation. Works have already begun at the 201-room hotel and it has signaled a return to health for tourism in the area, as once more there is a quality world-class hotel that caters for families, couples and conferences. Set right next to the 18-hole Leura Golf Course, the Fairmont is a destination in itself, with an extensive array of leisure facilities including two restaurants, a lounge bar, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis and squash courts, gym, indoor theatre and day spa. This year will see the addition of a new deck overlooking the spectacular Jamison Valley, the return of the famous paddle boats and the addition of a kids club, along with other improvements.

7)    BLOOMSBURY, LONDON - Blooming lovely

London is all abuzz with preparations for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton as well as for the 2012 Olympic Games so this is definitely the year to visit, especially with the dollar so strong against the pound. And one area of London, Bloomsbury, will enjoy a special spotlight this year, thanks to its reinvention from fashionable residential area to tourism hotspot. Famous for its beautiful gardens, literary connections (Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf and William Yeats all lived here) and formal squares, Bloomsbury is home to the British Museum, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and now the new Mercure Bloomsbury. The historic property, originally built by relatives of Sir Walter Scott, was formerly the Waverley Hotel, named after one of his novels. Following an extensive renovation program, it has now been relaunched as the Mercure. A new bar and kitchen are to open by March and all guest rooms and public areas have already undergone a major make-over – just like London is doing.

8)    LEGIAN, BALI - Leg it to Paradise

Bali has always been popular but this year the spotlight will be on Legian, which is drawing visitors from the adjacent Kuta and Seminyak beaches as they discover that Legian offers the best of both worlds. Until now the area has lacked a truly international 5-star hotel, but that is set to change with the imminent opening of the brand new Pullman Legian Nirwana. Inspired by the shape of frangipani petals, the Pullman is a brand new beachfront resort, offering Balinese hospitality from a new perspective. In a stylish, chic urban style, the resort features 351 spacious rooms and suites, a rooftop infinity pool and a freeform garden pool. A Kids Club and Teen Club make it perfect for families while an extensive line-up of dining options including a rooftop pool bar mean couples and honeymooners will love it too. In Balinese, the word 'Legian' means "delightful to the senses" and the Pullman certainly guarantees to delight your senses on every level.

9)      HOBART - Inn like Flynn

The opening of the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart has made the world take another look at the Tasmanian capital, with the city enjoying a renewed sense of vitality. The largest private museum in Australia, the MONA is home to the $100 million art collection of David Walsh. Set on the banks of the Derwent River, the controversial museum has taken Australia's second oldest city by storm. Also blending old and new, the Grand Mercure Hadley's is about to unveil its $30 million new wing including 128 luxury suites, a grand ballroom and extensive food and beverage outlets.  The new wing is adjacent to the historic 71-room National Trust-listed hotel, which was built in 1834 and has played host to some of the most celebrated characters in history including Errol Flynn and Antarctic explorer Roald Amundsen. Hadleys is the oldest continuously operating boutique hotel in Tasmania and provides a unique contrast of old and new on the Hobart landscape - and this is definitely the year to check it out.

10)  RIO DE JANEIRO - Shake your marraccas in Rio

Rio made Peter Allen feel like dancing and the city's legendary party status will be further enhanced with the release of 20th Century Fox's Film 'Rio' later this year. The word Rio conjures up immediate images – of the colourful Carnavale, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, sultry samba rhythms and the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. Its people are amongst the most passionate and welcoming in the world and are always ready for a party but it also boasts lush green mountains and waterfalls which allow for quiet moments of contemplation. One of the newest hotels to open in Rio is the Novotel which boasts stylish rooms in the city's financial and business district, close to the best tourist attractions, cultural and entertainment hot spots.

11)  DUBAI - Who said Fire & Ice can't be mixed together?

While Dubai has been a hot destination for a number of years, 2011 is the year to go with many building projects having been completed in the last 12 months and a renewed sense of vigour to the city following the global financial crisis. In a city renowned for its hot weather, the new five-star Pullman Dubai offers direct access to the Middle East's only indoor ski field as well as the most glamorous shopping in the region. With spectacular views over the city to the Gulf of Oman, the 24-storey Pullman Dubai Mall of the Emirates boasts a refined blend of oriental and international inspirations and features two rooftop pools, a Shisha lounge, wine bar, two restaurants, fitness centre and luxurious day spa.

To find out more about these hot destinations and the hot hotels in which to stay go to

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Last Great Race on Earth!

2011 Dog Sled Competition, Early Alaska
Focus of New Tour from AdventureSmith Explorations

In the 1920's sled dogs carried mail and supplies to remote regions of Alaska along a trail now called Iditarod. Guests on an AdventureSmith Explorations' nine-day program in Alaska this winter can place bets on their favorite huskies and witness the start of the annual Iditarod dog sled race while basking under the magnificence of the Northern Lights. This 1,150-mile wilderness trek from Anchorage to the Bering Sea commemorates an heroic race against death by diphtheria in 1925 when these fabled dogs brought life-saving serum to Nome.

Iditarod and Northern Lights Tour 2011 that begins Feb. 27, 2011 is a guaranteed-to-sparkle (think flashing sky atop frosty world) program engaging guests in dog sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling, with stops along the way to see the Northern Lights from atop a mountain and review works-in-process at the 25-acre Ice Park where, in March, the World Ice Art Championships are held. Lodging is at several of Alaska's finest hotels.

From Fairbanks, the arrival and departure city, and a stay at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge on the banks of the Chena River, the tour travels to Chena Hot Springs Resort to play in this winter world.  Here is some the best Northern Lights viewing, especially from the vantage while soaking in a natural outdoor lake of up to 105 degrees. (The resort is also one of the leaders in harnessing geo-thermal energy from the hot springs.)

A flight to Anchorage includes lodging at the Captain Cook Hotel and an invitation to attend the Musher's Banquet that celebrates the great achievement of the serum run that saved the lives of countless Nome children. The life and work of mushers who drive the teams will be explored, along with insights into the characteristics of sled dogs and the years of breeding and training that go into putting together a team. Mushers will describe the strategy, hardships, technical aspects and joys of life on the trail. At the banquet guests can bid at an auction for a ride with a musher as they leave the race start chute.

The ceremonial Iditarod start begins in downtown Anchorage. The #1 position is reserved in the memory of Leonhard Seppala, an immigrant from Norway who came to Alaska for the Gold Rush and became the state's foremost hero when he did the 1925 sled run. Any of AdventureSmith Explorations' guests who are successful bidders on the "Idita-Rider" auction will ride in the sled of a musher as they begin the race.

The per person rate begins at $2,699 (plus $98 tax) for eight nights lodging and breakfasts, two dinners, escort, private transfers, air between Anchorage and Fairbanks plus all admissions to events and lectures.

From November 1, 2010 to April 30, 2011 AdventureSmith Explorations also offers a shorter version of their Northern Lights Tour with an optional seat on the spectacular Aurora Train between Anchorage and Fairbanks. The program departs daily upon request and rates begin at $450 per person (without the train extension), or $750 with the train ride.


About AdventureSmith Explorations

AdventureSmith Explorations is the global leader in small ship, adventure cruise vacations. Company founder Todd Smith helped pioneer the concept of wilderness cruising that combines the comforts of a small cruise ship with the adventure of sea kayaking, hiking and exploring remote wilderness areas ashore. The company matches guests with the top names in small ship cruising as well with intimate, boutique ships that may not make the radar of most travelers.

In moving through exotic natural environments and exploring vibrant native cultures seldom associated with more mainstream cruise itineraries, AdventureSmith Explorations dedicates its efforts to small footprint, sustainable travel and has launched a carbon free cruising initiative. Its off-the-beaten-path destinations include Alaska, Baja, Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador and the Galapagos, Hawaii, Peru, the Arctic, Antarctica, and Australia.

The company was named by National Geographic Adventure as one of "The Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth" and is the recipient of Conde Nast Traveler's prestigious "World Savers Award."

Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, California along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe.  Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free or 530-583-1775. Email: or visit:

Saturday, 22 January 2011


Join Event Buddies and For A CURE Foundation at the Dockside Charity Dinner in aid of Queensland's flood victims.

Monday 7th February, 6.30pm
Where: Dockside, Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour
Tickets: $1,500 per table of 10

For more information please contact Ronia Elters on 1300 117 118

Chinese New Year Hotel Deals

Ask for the Chinese New Year Package from Sofitel Hotels, which gets you a third night free for every two consecutive nights booked between Jan. 28 and Feb. 13 at Sofitel properties in Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing, and Ho Chi Minh City.

The Pan Pacific Singapore's Chinese New Year Package, starting at US$256, includes a US$38 food and beverage credit, and special holiday amenities. Available for stays from Feb. 1 - 3.

Available for a minimum of three nights between Jan. 21 and Feb. 28, the Spring Festival Package from the Mandarin Oriental, Chiang Mai includes daily breakfast for two, a Chinese set dinner for two, and more, from US$538 nightly.

The Sukhothai Bangkok's Chinese New Year Package, starting at US$262 per night, includes breakfast, Internet, welcome amenities, and complimentary dining perks that get better with room class. Available Jan. 28 - Feb. 8.

The Fortune & Prosperity package from Indigo Pearl, Phuket, starts at US$627 for two nights in a Pearl Bed suite, special holiday amenities, a dinner and dragon dance performance for two, and more. Available Jan. 28 - Feb. 9.

Supplied by:

Queensland Flood Appeal: Charity Golf Day


Novotel Vines Resort & Country Club would like to extend you an exclusive invitation to The Queensland Flood Appeal Charity Golf Day.

Friday 11th February 2011 - The Lakes Course

$120 per person - includes 18-holes with motorised buggy and post game gourmet pizzas.

All entry funds being donated to the appeal.

Grab your team of four and register now - Places are limited! Click here to download the registration form

Major prize of a trip for four to Bali including return airfares and 4 nights accommodation plus lots of other great prizes up for grabs!

RSVP: by 7th February 2011. Contact Cherie Potter - or (08) 9297 3000

Don't play golf but still want to be involved?
- Why not sponsor a hole - only $500 each with all funds going towards the appeal! Your choice of hole (first in basis)
- Donate items for the silent auction - please contact Cherie if you have anything that you would like to donate!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Air New Zealand buys "substantial stake" in Virgin Blue

Air New Zealand has just notified the ASX that it has become a substantial shareholder in Virgin Blue.

NZ ceo Rob Fyfe said there's no intention to make a full takeover bid for the carrier, but said the share purchase "is part of Air New Zealand's strategy to develop scale and reach in this region".

Air NZ has obtained Foreign Investment Review Board approval to purchase up to 14.99% of Virgin Blue.

"This investment cements the emerging relationship between our two airlines and demonstrates the confidence we have in Virgin Blue both as an entity and as a partner for Air New Zealand," Fyfe said.

More information in tomorrow's Travel Daily.

Discover Brand New Rides at Luna Park

Luna Park Sydney is gearing up for its most thrilling, spine chilling Summer School Holidays ever with the arrival of two crazy 'white-knuckle' rides, the Disk'o and the Power Surge. Available for a limited time only, from 26 December - 30 January, these two nail-biting, thrill rides are sure to set hearts racing and knees trembling.

The Disk'o makes its Australian debut at Luna Park this Summer. This brand new thrill-seekers dream is like no other. Twenty four riders face outwards in a giant spinning disk that coasts up and down an enormous 92feet half pipe track at turbo speeds...Cool!

Power Surge
Hold on tight! The Power Surge is a high-impact thrill ride that flips, twists and spins up to twenty four dangling riders in gravity defying circles.

Bursting with colour and light, the super-spectacular twisting machine has six arms with free-spinning gondolas that move in all different directions, so once you're in your seat and the ride takes off, you won't know which way is up or down!

Not for the faint hearted, these rides cost just $10, or are FREE with your Unlimited Rides Pass. They are suitable for thrill-seekers over 130cm tall.

Luna Park Sydney, where everyone goes.... just for fun!

Visit or call (02) 9922 6644 for further information about the best pass for your visit!

Christmas/Summer School Holidays (from 26 Dec - 30 Jan)
Sunday to Thursday 10am-9pm. Friday & Saturday 10am-11pm

Autumn, Winter & Spring School Holidays
Sunday to Thursday 10am-6pm. Friday & Saturday 10am-11pm

Non School Holidays from end Summer Holidays to beginning Spring Holidays
Sunday 10am-6pm. Monday 11am-4pm. Friday & Saturday 11am-10pm. Tuesday to Thursday Park is closed

Non School Holidays from end Spring Holidays to beginning Summer Holidays
Sunday 10am-6pm. Monday 11am-6pm. Friday 11am - 11pm, Saturday 10am-11pm. Tuesday to Thursday Park is closed.

Relax, Rejuvenate and Recharge on Queensland's Fraser Island

A day on Fraser Island is like a week anywhere else... and with that in mind the Kingfisher Bay Resort Group has a range of packages and day trips on World Heritage- listed Fraser Island designed to help relax, rejuvenate and recharge those batteries.

Make the most of your short break on Fraser Island with Kingfisher Bay Resort's 'Stay 3, Pay 2' deal. Book a getaway and travel to stunning Fraser Island before 15 April and for every two nights booked, you'll receive a third night for free.

Hotel resort accommodation, with bush and lake outlook, starts from just $198 per night. Two-for-one-passenger ferry transfers are also available. Four wheel touring adventures run daily to suit all tastes and wallets.

For more information call Kingfisher Bay Resort on 1800 FRASER or visit

*Conditions apply. Subject to availability. Valid for travel from 1 February until 15 April 2011.

For holiday-makers wanting a getaway on the surf side of Fraser, Eurong Beach Resort offers value for money.

The 'On The Beach' package includes return barge transfers via River Heads (Hervey Bay) or Inskip Point (Rainbow Beach), two nights in a motel room and daily buffet breakfasts and dinners.

Prices start from $242 per person, twin share. Upgrades to two bedroom apartments, which can accommodate six people, are available. And if you book online you'll save a further 10%.

Call 1800 111 808 or visit to book and quote ENEWSOTB.

*The offer is valid until 31 March 2011. Some conditions apply.

The only pre-requisite for joining a Fraser Explorer Day Tour of the world's largest sand island - Fraser Island - is to pack a camera, a smile and a sense of adventure as local drivers guide air-conditioned buses skillfully over the sandy tracks in search of Fraser's top attractions.

Day Tours depart daily from Rainbow Beach (0830-1730) and Hervey Bay (0830-1730) and include courtesy pick up from accommodation houses, return transfers, full-day guided tour and buffet lunch at Eurong Beach Resort.

Adults are $165 per person, Children (4-14) $99 per person and Family (2 adults, 2 children) are $459. Premium tours of the island are also available for guests who prefer a more intimate touring experience.

Call 1800 2489 122 or visit

All roads to Hervey Bay are open. Access to Kingfisher Bay Resort and Fraser Island is hassle-free with secure parking at River Heads Mainland Reception and train/road coach/air connections. Virgin Blue operates direct jet services daily from Sydney, with other major city connections. QantasLink also operates daily from Brisbane to the Fraser Coast.

Fraser Island ferries operate daily from Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay. Visit

To everyone that has supported the Premier's Flood Appeal, we commend you and we also encourage you to come and holiday in Queensland and help local businesses get back on their feet.

Experience the Kimberley Coast & the Legendary Spirit of the Ghan in One Amazing Holiday

Infused with the essence of all things Australian, Broome & The Kimberley Holidays has released a spectacular trip of a lifetime combining The Ghan - the legendary rail journey through the heart of Australia - with a wilderness cruise of the pristine and remote Kimberley coast onboard the Oceanic Discoverer.

Broome & The Kimberley Holidays is Australia's leading specialist travel company for The Kimberley and beyond, based in Broome, WA. The Kimberley and The Outback are our home and in our region, local know-how goes a long way. We've combined two of our favourite experiences in this 'journey of a lifetime'.

Our NEW "18 Night Ultimate Cruise/Rail Expedition" features 10 nights aboard Oceanic Discoverer, cruising the sparkling waters of the Kimberley coast between Broome & Darwin, pre & post accommodation & touring in both Broome & Darwin, plus Gold service accommodation aboard The Ghan from Darwin to Adelaide as follows:


DAY 1-2: Depart Adelaide on The Ghan for 2 nights aboard this iconic train.

DAY 3: Arrive in Darwin, Australia's most unique capital city and stepping stone to an awesome array of adventures. Accommodation is included at Mantra on the Esplanade Darwin for 3 nights.

DAY 4: Join Aussie Adventure Holidays on a Litchfield National Park/Waterfalls day tour. You will have the opportunity to visit the main falls of Tolmer, Florence and Wangi Falls plus the delightful Bluey Rockholes, with plenty of time to relax in the crystal clear refreshing waters.

DAY 5: A dinner cruise on the sailing schooner "Alfred Nobel" in Darwin Harbour is the perfect way to spend a balmy Darwin evening.

DAY 6-16: Your cruising adventure begins with Coral Princess Cruises as you board Oceanic Discoverer for a 10 night exploration voyage to the Kimberley. Experienced guides supervise the expedition itinerary, maximising the experiences offered by the breathtaking scenery, while a specially designed excursion boat and inflatable Zodiacs allow you to explore the many gorges and rivers.

DAY 16-18: Arrive in Broome, once the pearling capital of the world, a unique and exotic town with a romantic and often flamboyant history. 3 nights accommodation is included at Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa. There are many additional touring options available in Broome - take a town tour to learn more of Broome's fascinating history, visit Willie Creek Pearl Farm for an insight into the fascinating process of cultured pearling or a scenic flight over the rugged inland gorges of the Gibb River Road.

DAY 19: Depart Broome for your home port.

Packages start from $10,999 per person and more information can be found by following this link.

Reservations contacts: 1300 245 565 or
For more information visit

Hotel Éclat Taipei's Bespoke Valentine's Day

Taipei's elegant Hotel Éclat is celebrating Valentine's Day with a romantic 'Deluxe Getaway' including romantic candlelight dinner.

The promotion on offer, from February 10-15 at the eclectic art hotel in fashionable Da-An district, is designed for couples, and priced at NT$11,999 a night.

Accommodation is a Deluxe Room, that includes breakfast, a welcome drink and complimentary mini-bar as well as dinner - plus gifts of wine and Salvatore Ferragamo perfume.

Dinner at eclectic designer restaurant Ming Yuen, features a Chinese menu of scallops, pumpkin soup with seafood, steamed fish, chicken wing with goose liver, braised winter melon with scallop, double-boiled red dates and sweet desserts.

Alternatively the Éclat Lounge will be serving a Western menu of King Crab salad with caviar, roast quail, pumpkin cappuccino, grilled tuna on white truffle risotto, beef filet Mignon with escargot cream sauce and a dessert of triple chocolate fudge.

Guests can choose either menu, which are both priced at NT$3,999 for two persons, and are inclusive of a glass of strawberry champagne cocktail.

The rate for upgrading to the hotel's elite 'Premier 9' suite is NT$15,999.

This year, Valentine's in Taipei coincides with the spectacular Taipei International Flora Exposition, running until April 25.

A bespoke package is also on offer for the expo, including complimentary shuttle bus transportation and entry ticket to the world's premier annual horticultural expo, priced at NT$6,888 for the first night and NT$5,299 for subsequent nights, based on double occupancy.

If accompanied by children, an additional NT$4,888 is chargeable for a separate room, or NT$850 if sharing a room, including breakfast and extra expo ticket.

Staged for the first time in Taiwan, this year's International Flora Exposition is expected to attract as many as six million overseas visitors to the giant expo site in Yuan-shan Park, in the centre of Taipei City. Amidst the incredible flowers on display, couples should find this expo the perfect situation for their love to blossom.

Hotel Éclat is opened by Hong Kong entrepreneur Mr George Wong, owner of luxury apartment complex Hong Kong Parkview, and is an established favourite with Hong Kong visitors.

The 60-room boutique hotel is lavishly furnished with priceless artworks, eclectic contemporary design and opulent guest room amenities that rival the world's top hotels. It also features equally eclectic new restaurant Ming Yuen, designed by internationally renowned interior designer Thomas Schoos.

Hotel Éclat is just minutes from the world famous landmark tower Taipei 101, the Tun Hua South Road luxury shopping district and Taipei's famous 24-hour Eslite bookstore.

Guests can always enjoy complimentary entrance to Taipei's cool chic nightspot, Room 18. As well as preferential rates at the nearby Shiseido Qi Spa.

For further information or online reservations, please visit

Spicers Group - 10-Day Sale Starts

BEAT the post-holiday blues and book your next getaway with great rates now available at six luxury properties within the Spicers Retreats Hotels and Lodges group.

Spicers is holding a 10 Day Sale from today until 5.30pm 30 January 2011 at Spicers Balfour Hotel, Spicers Clovelly Estate, Spicers Hidden Vale, Spicers Peak Lodge, Spicers Tamarind Retreat and Spicers Vineyards Estate. The sale is valid for travel before 31 March 2011.

Stay at Spicers' newest property, Spicers Balfour Hotel in inner Brisbane from $269* per room per night, a saving of $90.

Experience a touch of 'Francais' in the foothills of Montville at Spicers Clovelly Estate in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, with rates now starting from $290* per room per night, a saving of $59.

Treat yourself and the kids to a real play station at Spicers Hidden Vale at Grandchester, a working cattle property an hour's drive west of Brisbane and the Gold Coast,with rates from $170* per room per night, a saving of $89.

Guests can stay at Spicers Peak Lodge in the heart of the spectacular Scenic Rim region from $1000* per room per night, a saving of $190; or at the Thai-inspired Spicers Tamarind Retreat near Maleny in the Sunshine Coast hinterland from $250* per room per night, a saving of $59.

Warm, refined and stylish - just like a great wine - Spicers Vineyards Estate in NSW's famed Hunter Valley region is also offering rates from $290* per room per night, a saving of $70.

Launched by Flight Centre Limited founder and managing director Graham Turner and his wife Jude, Spicers Retreats Hotels and Lodges group comprises seven exclusive properties spread across South East Queensland's hinterland beauty spots, Brisbane city and the Hunter Valley wine country.

*All rates start 'from' with limited allocation per night and include breakfast. Not valid with any other offer. Rate subject to availability. All rates based on lead-in room type. Sale ends at 5:30pm, Sunday 30/1/2011.

To book, contact the property of your choice and quote '10 Day Sale':

Spicers Balfour Hotel: 1300 401 648

Spicers Clovelly Estate: 1300 402 465

Spicers Hidden Vale: 1300 410 048

Spicers Peak Lodge: 1300 382 775

Spicers Tamarind Retreat: 1300 411 587

Spicers Vineyards Estate: 1300 192 868

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Plus over 25 sailings now offer US$500 Onboard Spending Credit

Ultra-luxury Silversea Cruises has added 25 new voyages in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean offering a US$1,000 per suite (US$500 per person) Onboard Spending Credit, bringing the total to 38 sailings worldwide. And over 25 voyages now offer a US$500 per suite (US$250 per person) Onboard Spending Credit. These enticing offers are available on new bookings made by June 30, 2011.

With the US$1,000 or US$500 Onboard Spending Credit, guests might choose to indulge in a little extra pampering in the spa or use their credit toward a host of other options, including any Silver Shore excursions (none are excluded), premium selections from the Connoisseur's List of wines and spirits, specialty restaurant dining fees, and/or purchases in the Internet Café and onboard boutiques.

"We just made holidaying in Europe more affordable this summer with our new Onboard Spending Credit offers," said Steve Odell, Silversea's senior vice president Asia Pacific. "When you consider that the credit can be combined with an array of other incentives, such as Silver Savings and Air Credits, and then factor in the luxury and all-inclusiveness of Silversea, you quickly realise there is no travel option out there that offers greater value."

Following is a small sampling of new 2011 voyages offering a US$1,000 Onboard Spending Credit, Silver Savings fares reflecting best available fare, plus Air Credits*.

Northern Europe Voyage 1117: Silver Cloud, June 15 - 25, Barcelona to Southampton, with calls in Palma de Mallorca, Ibiza, Cadiz, Lisbon, Oporto (Leixoes), La Coruña and Saint-Malo. Silver Savings fares start at AU$5,078.

Northern Europe Voyage 1120: Silver Cloud, July 20 - 30, Southampton to Copenhagen, with calls in Plymouth, Jersey, Rouen (overnight visit), Honfleur, Oostende and Antwerp. Silver Savings fares start at AU$5,278.

Mediterranean Voyage 2123: Silver Wind, August 9 - 20, Athens to Barcelona, with calls in Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini, Milos, Malta, Trapani, Sardinia and Palma de Mallorca. Silver Savings fares start at AU$6,143.

Mediterranean Voyage 5123: Silver Spirit, August 13 - 20, Venice (overnight visit) to Rome, with calls in Hvar, Dubrovnik, Taormina and Sorrento. Silver Savings fares start at AU$4,538.

Northern Europe Voyage 1122: Silver Cloud, August 16 - 26, Copenhagen to London, with calls in Szczecin, Rostock, Skagen, Oslo, Amsterdam, Oostende and Honfleur. Silver Savings fares start at AU$5,278.

Mediterranean Voyage 5129: Silver Spirit, September 30 - October 7, Athens to Monte Carlo, with calls in Malta, Taormina, Sorrento, Rome, and Elba. Silver Savings fares start at AU$4,178.

All fares listed above are per person based on double occupancy for a Vista Suite and include port charges and handling fees that can range from AU$200 to AU$300 per person on these sailings, depending on the itinerary. Silver Savings is a capacity-controlled program and subject to availability.

*Air Credits: On select voyages guest may receive an additional Air Credit saving which must be requested at the time of initial booking, and is not available after travel has commenced.

The Onboard Spending Credit is a capacity-controlled program and subject to availability. The Onboard Spending Credit is offered per suite, not per voyage, and only once to guests sailing on consecutive voyages. Maximum value of Onboard Spending Credit is either US$1,000 or US$500 per suite, depending on voyage.  Single occupancy suites will receive 50% of the Onboard Spending Credit. It is valued in US dollars, regardless of booking currency. It may not be redeemed for cash, and any unused portion will be forfeited. Additional restrictions may apply.

For a complete list of voyages offering the Onboard Spending Credit, go to

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

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Queensland Flood Update And Travel Info

Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Agnes Water, 1770, Whitsundays, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and Tropical North Queensland are accessible and tourism operations are normal.

All Queensland airports with the exception of Rockhampton, are currently open and operating normally.

The Bruce Highway, the main road link from Brisbane to Cairns, is now open. Brisbane, the Darling Downs, Southern Downs and Granite Belt and Capricorn Coast are now recovering with most tourism operations open and affected tourism operations returning to normal as quickly as possible. There are however still some local road closures in some areas. Visit for the latest road conditions.

Parts of Central Queensland, Queensland's Outback, Western Downs and the Lockyer Valley continue to be affected and access to these areas is restricted.

Please contact your travel agent, accommodation, attraction or tour provider directly for latest conditions or with concerns about any current or upcoming bookings you may have.

For the latest travel information visit For the latest conditions Tourism Queensland recommends visiting the Queensland Government's official Queensland floods webpage: or visit the Bureau of Meteorology to check weather forecasts for your holiday destination. Visit for the latest road conditions.

How can you help?
You can help Queensland recover by taking a holiday in Queensland - in the areas that haven't been affected by floodwaters, and in the affected areas once they are up and running again.

If you already have a Queensland holiday booked - don't cancel as most tourism regions and operations are now up and running.

If you don't have a Queensland holiday booked, book one!

Queensland's tourism industry has the welcome mat rolled out ready to receive visitors, so come see us!

People wishing to directly help flood victims can donate to the Queensland Government Flood Assistance Appeal at

What damage will the floods have on the Great Barrier Reef?

• There have been recent media reports concerning possible damage to Great Barrier Reef as a result of floodwaters transferring from the river systems into the oceans around Central Queensland.
• Tourism Queensland is not a scientific expert qualified to speak on the health of the Great Barrier Reef, however our understanding is that the effects of the flood waters on reef systems is currently unknown. However, fresh water runoffs are a natural part of the ecosystem and some plant and marine life actually thrive in these situations.
• The Great Barrier Reef is 2300km along with thousands of reefs, coral cays and islands. The vast majority of these are likely to remain unaffected.
• Currently tourism operations along the Great Barrier Reef including the Southern Great Barrier Reef,Whitsundays, Townsville and Cairns and Tropical North Queensland are operating normally, including dive operators, sailing operators and daytrip operators.
• Anyone concerned about a Great Barrier Reef booking an individual operator, should check with the accommodation provider, tour operator or attraction for the latest conditions.
• Refer to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for further information.

'Splash out' with your next hotel stay -- reveals the best ten hotels over, under, in or by the water

For many travellers the thought of a holiday filled with nothing more than lazing by the beach or pool is often a dream come true. While it has always been popular to stay in hotels and resorts near or by the water, these days travellers can truly 'splash out' and go one step further by staying in an overwater bangalow, or perhaps a resort built on a man-made island – or for a truly unique aquatic experience, travellers can opt for a luxury holiday in an underwater room., the global hotel booking website, has scoured the globe for some of the best hotels over, under, in or by the water, so that travellers can enjoy being waterside all without even having to leave their hotel. list of top ten hotels:

Hotel: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort, 5*

Destination: Maldives

Travellers lucky enough to stay at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort, set on two private islands, will experience luxury at its finest. After arriving by sea plane over the lagoon, guests can stay in one of the 50 villas built on stilts, some up to 500m out to sea, with sparkling views of the lagoon and the Indian Ocean. For an unforgettable underwater experience, dinner at the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant, the world's first all-glass undersea restaurant, is a must. The restaurant serves Maldivian-Western fusion cuisine, 16 feet below sea level with views of the reed and marine life.

Rooms at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort start at $900 per room per night*. To book a stay at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Resort, visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: Atlantis The Palm, 5*

Destination: Dubai

This five-star resort is located on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah, the manmade, palm-tree-shaped island just off the Jumeirah coast. The resort is the perfect choice for travellers seeking an action-packed aqua holiday. In addition to beach access, the hotel also features the Aquaventure Waterpark, Dolphin Bay, which offers dolphin encounters in three lagoons, The Lost Chambers, an underwater wonderland providing up-close views of 65,000 marine animals and a dive centre for travellers looking to take part in scuba lessons and excursions. For hotel guests looking for an extra special under-water experience, The Lost Chambers Suites offer guests underwater views of the Ambassador Lagoon from both the bedroom and bathroom.

Rooms at Atlantis The Palm start at $548 per room per night*. To book a stay at Atlantis The Palm, visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: Mandalay Bay Resort, 4*

Destination: Las Vegas

The Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas has been described as an "oceanic island paradise", despite being located in the middle of the Nevada desert. The resort is built on eleven acres of beach environment, including three pools, a lazy river, an adult-only pool and a 1.6-million gallon wave pool with a sand-and-surf beach as well as an onsite shark reef aquarium. Guests can enjoy fun-packed aquatic activities thanks to the hotel's activity centre, which provides guests with tubes, rafts and more than a hundred cabanas and gazebos.

Travellers can also escape from the kids by heading to the third floor, an adults-only private pool area, where the "crème de la crème" of pool goers can be found. The property's main "beach" area also doubles up as an outdoor concert environment with a massive stage extending out of the wave pool. At night guests can enjoy music performances from the water or a blanket on the sand.

Rooms at Mandalay Bay Resort start at $81 per room per night*. To book a stay at Mandalay Bay Resort, visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: Grand Bay Hotel Isla Navidad, 4.5*

Destination: Mexico

Travellers will be spoilt with panoramic views of the ocean, lagoons and mountains when they stay at the Grand Bay Hotel in Isla Navidad. Situated on the glittering Pacific Coast, this luxury hotel is the ideal destination for sun and water-loving travellers. Built in a sheltered cove on Manzanillo's Isla Navidad, the property boasts a private yacht marina and sandy beach where guests can lap up the sun - and water, all just metres away from their hotel room. For guests wanting a bit more action, deep sea adventures and other recreational water activities can be organised. This up-scale beachfront hotel also offers three tennis courts, three swimming pools, a spa and salon, and a 27-hole golf course with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. Guests can also board a boat which regularly departs the hotel dock headed for the town of Barra de Navidad, located less than one kilometre away.

Rooms at Grand Bay Hotel Isla Navidad start at $151 per room per night*. To book a stay at the Grand Bay Hotel Isla Navidad visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: Atlantis Royal Towers, 4*

Destination: Bahamas

The Atlantis Royal Towers is the perfect option for travellers wanting a one-of-a-kind island experience. The Atlantis Royal Towers is located on Paradise Island in the Bahamas and occupies 171 acres of the island which is connected to the mainland by bridge. The resort has been designed around the mythical theme of the Lost Continent of Atlantis. Guests will be awed by the $15 million marina which features its very own village as well as the Caribbean's largest casino. As far as activities go, there is an endless amount of options for travellers who love water. Guests can opt to swim with the dolphins or sea lions, or ride on a water slide through shark-infested waters. For guests seeking pure R & R, the expansive pool and beach areas offer secluded sun-baking spots.

Rooms at Atlantis Royal Towers start at $562 per room per night*. To book a stay at the Atlantis Royal Towers visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: Le Méridien Bora Bora, 4*

Destination: French Polynesia

Guests will be in paradise at the Le Méridien, located on the famous tropical island in the world –Bora Bora. The resort is made up of ninety-nine tropically themed bungalows that are either perched over the spectacular lagoon or nestled at the edge of ivory sands. Guests who stay in the over-water bungalows can look forward to peering through a glass-bottomed floor which provides stunning views of the marine life below or alternatively step out onto their porch to relax in a hammock. Guests also have access to traditional Polynesian outrigger canoes, jet skiing, sailing, shark feeding and scuba diving.

Rooms at Le Méridien Bora Bora start at $460 per room per night*. To book a stay at Le Méridien Bora Bora visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: Marina Bay Sands Hotel, 5*

Destination: Singapore

For a water experience of a different kind travellers should book a stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore. This hotel has been described as an "awe-inspiring structural masterpiece" with the property essentially being three towers connected by one of the world's largest roof-top pools in the world! Simply head to the nearest elevator and step out into an aquatic world two hundred metres above the sea. Known as the "Sky Park", the oversized infinity-edge pool spans the top of all three hotel towers and extends 65 metres beyond, with spectacular views of Mandalay Bay and the sea. Guests can laze by this one-of–a-kind pool and enjoy all-day dining, as well as an all-day open bar.

Rooms at Marina Bay Sands Hotel start at $281 per room per night*. To book a stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: The Palace of the Lost City, 5*

Destination: South Africa

Travellers looking for an action-packed water adventure holiday need not look any further than The Palace of the Lost City, Sun City's flagship hotel and one of South Africa's most luxurious water paradises. Set amid twenty-five hectares of botanical jungle, guests are completely surrounded by an array of water features including winding cascades and waterfalls, lakes and pools and fun-packed water adventure rides. Upon arrival guests will witness the elaborate Grand Pool, a huge swimming pool just outside the main entrance intricately decorated with mosaics and sculpture. This magical water-park is also home to 'The Valley of Waves', a large lagoon with a palm-fringed beach, featuring a wave machine capable of generating 1.8 metre waves every 90 seconds. The water-park also houses 'The Temple of Courage' slide – not for the faint-hearted. The ride gets swimmers dropping a heart stopping seventeen metres down a shute and under a bridge before splashing into a small pool. For the less adventurous, the 'Lazy River' ride is a good option. A wide range of water sports including water-skiing, parasailing and sunset are also available.

Rooms at The Palace of the Lost City start at $586 per room per night*. To book a stay at The Palace of the Lost City visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: Banyan Tree Phuket, 5*

Destination: Phuket

This internationally acclaimed hotel in Phuket is bordered by the golden sands and waves of the Andaman Sea, and lies in Laguna Phuket, which consists of five luxury hotels, six palm-fringed lagoons and three kilometres of pristine beach. Surrounded by water, guests can enjoy the tranquil sounds of the flowing lagoon and lovely tropical living. When it comes time to cool off, guests can head to the porch to take a refreshing dip in their very own private pool surrounded by coconut trees. For a treat, relish a sumptuous dinner under the stars, or perhaps experience a heavenly massage all without leaving your villa.

Rooms at Banyan Tree Phuket start at $750 per room per night*. To book a stay at the Banyan Tree Phuket visit: or call 1800 846 835.

Hotel: Hilton Auckland, 5*

Destination: New Zealand

Travellers could be tricken into thinking they are on a cruise ship when staying at this mangnificent four-star property located in central Auckland. The Hilton Auckland has been designed to look like a cruise ship and is complteley surrounded by the sparkling waters of Waitemata harbour. Sitting at the end of a pier a hundred metres out into the Hauraki Gulf, gusts can enjoy being at sea without having to worry about getting sea sick. The rooms simulate a modern cruise ship cabin with curved walls and floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests need only step out their room and head to the hotel's one-of-a-kind outdoor pool which features an underwater viewing window overlooking the harbour.

Rooms at Hilton Auckland start at $274 per room per night*. To book a stay at the Hilton Auckland visit: or call 1800 846 835.

*All prices and deals are correct as of 14 January 2011 and are subject to change. For more information please visit

Book Your Travel with Wego