Thursday 31 July 2008

Italian-style Cruising Singapore to Shanghai

Costa AllegraFourteen luxury nights from Singapore to Shanghai aboard the mid-sized Costa Allegra that carries just 800 guests, is selling through from Aud$3349pp twin-share, including return air from Sydney* and both a hotel night pre-cruise in Singapore and another hotel night post-cruise in Shanghai.

Guests join Costa Allegra on June 27 next year and sail the following night for Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Halong Bay in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Port Keelung in Taiwan, Naha for Okinawa and Shanghai.

Amongst features aboard is a unique all-glass atrium housing a restaurant serving regional Italian cuisine created by chefs of the legendary Chaines des Rotisseurs, a ballroom and a disco that all look out to the vanishing horizon.

There’s also a European-style promenade of boutique shops, nine bars, two pools, four jacuzzis, an outdoor jogging track, fitness centre and gym, a two-deck high theatre, library, casino and children’s club.

Costa Allegra offers an Italian-gracious cruise experience and the price includes all transfers in Singapore, onboard gratuities, and port and government taxes; *air taxes and fuel surcharges applicable at time of booking are additional.

For full details phone (Aus only)1300 369 848 or check-out

Saddle up for farm stay fun in Central Queensland

Country hospitality, whip cracking lessons, horse rides and animal feeding are just some of the highlights of an authentic farm stay holiday in Central Queensland.

With five farm stays to choose from within easy reach of Gladstone and Rockhampton airports, visitors to the region can experience rural life without having to drive for hours.

Glassford Creek Farmstay is a beautiful Outback retreat situated on a 4,000 acre working cattle property just 45 minutes from the Bruce Highway near Gladstone (also known as the Pacific Coast Touring Route). Everything at Glassford Creek is ‘hands-on’ so once visitors enter the gate they can get involved in just about everything that happens on the property. Enjoy a worker’s lunch in the smoko shed, saddle up for a ride, milk cows, check water troughs and fences, and feast on camp-oven roast dinners by the fire.

Promising to leave you ‘stiff, sore and dirty, but happy’, Peter and Olive Eather have been running the authentic Myella Farmstay since 1993. Great horse and motorbike riding, 4WD farm tours, home cooking, campfires, and feeding animals are just some of the activities on offer at this property, situated an hours’ drive inland from Gladstone.

Sleep in a swag under the stars on an overnight camp-out tour with Kroombit Tourist Park at Lochenbar Station. Situated on a 10,000 acre working cattle station 35km from Biloela, Kroombit Tourist Park runs two-day horse trail rides and also has a range of activities on offer for guests staying onsite in bush cabins, powered camping sites or upmarket ensuite cabins. Learn to crack a whip, try your hand at a lasso or clay-trap shooting (no live animals), get involved with horseriding and mustering, try to outlast the bell on the "mechanical bucking bull” in the licensed camp restaurant and bar, laze by the swimming pool, or enjoy one of the many nature walks around the station.

Situated 100km south of Gladstone, the Kolan River Pioneer Retreat is an easily accessible property set in peaceful bush surrounds. Farmstay guests enjoy a range of onsite activities such as cattle feeding, fishing, bushwalking, rope work, horse rides, picture framing, axe carving and guided tours. The property also runs many day trips to local pubs, beaches, rainforests and wineries. Accommodation is in one of two bush cabins, or there are also un-powered bush camp sites available with amenities. Ph: (07) 4156 7592.

Henderson Park is a working cattle property with 1,200 head of cattle just 30 minutes drive north of Rockhampton. Stay in luxurious self-contained cabins set on the banks of beautiful Hedlow Creek which is ideal for fishing, bird watching, canoeing, or a cool swim on a hot Central Queensland afternoon.

For more information on the Central Queensland region visit or

Explore Australia 2009

THE bible for Australian travellers!

Explore Australia 2009 is THE bible for Australian travellers! Covering each capital city and 700 towns across Australia in depth, this is the quintessential travel guide to have in your car or home.

With comprehensive information on things to see and do in every destination, Explore Australia 2009 is the ideal reference for planning your trip before you travel, or while you're on the road. You can read about everything from great local fishing spots, wildlife-watching and walking trails to art galleries, festivals and markets. And with the 140-page road atlas, enjoying the journey has never been easier.

The latest edition of Explore Australia features brand-new sections highlighting each state's top attractions and an overview of Australia's wine regions. Whether you're finding it difficult to decide on your destination or want to visit the best cellar doors in the Hunter Valley, this guide will ensure that you discover the best that Australia has to offer.

If you need another reason to purchase this excellent guide, Explore Australia 2009 (hardback) also offers readers the chance to win a Jayco Discovery Pop Top Caravan. This great prize is sure to make exploring Australia much more comfortable. Entry forms can be downloaded from

Explore Australia 2009 is $75.00 (RRP) for the new-look hardback edition and $54.95 for the paperback edition. It is available from all good bookstores, Big W, Kmart, Target, RACV stores and RAA stores.

Tuesday 29 July 2008


WhiteKnightTwo launch vehicle for SpaceShipTwo heralds a new era in aerospace fuel efficiency, performance and versatility

Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson and SpaceShipOne designer, Burt Rutan, today pulled back the hangar doors on the new WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft that will ferry SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages and payload on the first stage of the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space experience.

The rollout represents another major milestone in Virgin Galactic’s quest to launch the world’s first private, environmentally benign, space access system for people, payload and science.

Christened “EVE” in honor of Sir Richard’s mother, who performed the official naming ceremony, WK2 is both visually remarkable and represents ground-breaking aerospace technology. It is the world’s largest all carbon composite aircraft and many of its component parts have been built using composite materials for the very first time. At 140 ft, the wing spar is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured.

Driven by a demanding performance specification set by Virgin Galactic, WK2 has a unique heavy lift, high altitude capability and an open architecture driven design which provides for maximum versatility in the weight, mass and volume of its payload potential. It has the power, strength and maneuverability to provide for pre space-flight, positive G force and zero G astronaut training as well as a lift capability which is over 30% greater than that represented by a fully crewed SpaceShipTwo. The vehicle has a maximum altitude over 50,000 ft and its U.S. coast-to-coast range will allow the spaceship to be ferried on long duration flights.

An all carbon composite vehicle of this size represents a giant leap for a material technology that has already been identified as a key contributor to the increasingly urgent requirement by the commercial aviation sector for dramatically more fuel efficient aircraft. Powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines, which are amongst the most powerful, economic and efficient available, WK2 is a mold breaker in carbon efficiency and the epitome of 21st century aerospace design and technology.

The twin fuselage and central payload area configuration allow for easy access to WK2 and to the spaceship for passengers and crew; the design also aids operational efficiencies and turnaround times. WK2 will be able to support up to four daily space flights, is able to carry out both day and night time operations and is equipped with a package of highly advanced avionics.

Large numbers of VIP’s, media and more than 100 fully signed-up future Virgin Galactic astronauts flew into Mojave for the rollout onboard a new Airbus A320 aircraft specially chartered from Virgin America, the youngest and most efficient US domestic airline, which launched to great acclaim in 2007.

Rutan’s Scaled Composites facility has been strictly out of bounds whilst design and construction has been underway, but guests today were additionally given a tantalizing preview of SpaceShipTwo, clearly visible but heavily shrouded and well on its way to completion, in the smaller of Scaled’s two hangars awaiting its own rollout in 2009. This will be scheduled once WK2 is at the appropriate stage in its extensive test program, which has already begun with ground tests; it is expected to take its first flight in the fall of 2008. The flight test program will be comprehensive even before SpaceShipTwo is carried as a payload for the first time in 2009.

Commenting on the rollout, Burt Rutan, Founder of Scaled Composites said:

“WhiteKnightTwo represents the apogee of the application of carbon composites to aerospace and all of us at Scaled are tremendously excited at the capabilities of the Mothership for SpaceShipTwo. I believe the vehicle will be developed and sold for a variety of launch applications beyond the initial requirements of our launch customer, Virgin Galactic. We have set up a new business jointly with Virgin, The Spaceship Company (TSC), to develop these vehicles and we very much hope that its efficiency will herald a wake up call to the aerospace industry and the necessity of using new materials and technologies in the future. “

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Galactic added:

“As usual, Burt and the Scaled team have created a beauty and this is a very proud day for us all. The rollout of WhiteKnightTwo takes the Virgin Galactic vision to the next level and continues to provide tangible evidence that this most ambitious of projects is not only for real but is making tremendous progress towards our goal of safe commercial operation.

Virgin Galactic is central to our ambition at Virgin to become the world’s leading group in the operation of energy and environmentally efficient transportation, in the air, on the ground and in space. We arrived here this morning on an aircraft operated by Virgin America, who run the most fuel efficient commercial fleet in the US, to roll out what by most definitions, is the most energy efficient aircraft in history. We are naming it EVE after my Mother, Eve Branson but also because it represents a first and a new beginning, the chance for our ever growing group of future astronauts and other scientists and payload specialists to see our world in a completely new light. I for one can’t wait!”

For further information go to


Stylish new wing launched at Mercure Hotel Broome

July 29, 2008: Mercure Hotel Broome has officially opened the doors to a new wing with 70 extra rooms and is now offering some great packages to welcome guests, and to encourage a longer stay at the Hotel on the edge of Roebuck Bay. Broome is known as the Western gateway to the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and the quality new accommodation will help cater for the rapidly growing international and domestic tourism market.

The opening of the new wing, new swimming pool and almost completed upgrade of all facilities throughout the hotel has prompted the re-classification of the hotel from its original Mercure Inn status to a 4-star Mercure Hotel. The hotel now offers a total of 136 rooms and suites.

The new wing was designed by renowned Oldfield Knott Architects The building materials used internally and externally reflect Broome's unique design and architecture, the colours complementing the destination's azure seas, the brilliant blue of the sky and the distinct "pindan" earth red.

Each new room features a private balcony, daybed, double shower, LCD flat screen TV, with two spa suites equipped with a kitchenette, dining area and king size bed. Many of the rooms boast panoramic views of Bedford Park and the turquoise waters of Roebuck Bay. The remainder overlook the pool and landscaped gardens.

A large new pool services the new wing, adding to the existing shaded pool, tropical gardens, Capt'n Murphy's Irish Pub, the Conti Restaurant and Conference Centre.

The Conti Restaurant has undergone a complete transformation boasting an enormous collection of original artwork commissioned specifically for the restaurant by internationally famous Australian artist David Edward Conolan. Featuring a state of the art buffet, comfy couches for relaxing cocktails and pre dinner drinks and leading to the al fresco area which is well equipped for the relaxing balmy frangipani scented Broome nights typically enjoyed in Broome.

"I think everyone has been extremely impressed with how well the new wing and landscaping has reflected the 'Broome style', with the rich interior design and lush landscaping giving visitors a real taste of the destination's tropical environment," says Tina Broadhurst - the General Manager of the Mercure

"With demand for labour and building materials so strong in Western Australia, it has been a struggle for the city to add new accommodation in recent years, so the opening of the new hotel wing is highly significant for the region. Our aim is to provide high quality facilities and services, but at value for money rates. That has been at the heart of the hotel's success over past decades and we will continue with that approach."

Ms Broadhurst said the hotel would target international and domestic tourists, as well as business travellers and conference groups.

Packages now on offer include:

"A Taste of Broome"

Two nights accommodation in a Pool View Room with breakfast each morning and a "Taste of Broome" tour with Kimberley Wild Expeditions for two. This half day tour visits unusual sources of food and drink close to Broome, and finishes with a spectacular sunset surprise.

$282.50 rate based on per person, twin or double occupancy

"What A Pearler"

Overnight accommodation in a spa suite including breakfast and a "one off" gift of an original pearl bracelet or necklace designed by David Edward Conolan valued at $1300

$352.00 rate based on per person, twin or double occupancy (one piece of jewellery per room)

"Let Yourself Go"

4 day Outback Adventure tour with "Kimberley Wild Expeditions", Pre and Post accommodation in a Poolview Room including breakfast. Valid until 31 March 09

$$1055.00 Single Occupancy

$1920.00 Twin or Double Occupancy

"The Luxology Package"

Indulge your senses with this pamper package for two. Includes:

* A bottle of Champagne and chocolate fondue on arrival

* Three nights accommodation in a spa suite with breakfast each morning

* A "Taste of Broome Tour" with Kimberley Wild Expeditions

* A "Buccaneer Explorer" Flight with King Leopold Air, featuring the spectacular Buccaneer Archipelago and stopover at Cape Lévesque

* A "Willie Creek Pearl Farm Tour"

* A "Sunset Experience" with Broome Camel Safaris"

* His and hers original pearl jewellery piece designed by David Edward Conolan, valued at $1300.00

* Strawberry and Chocolate flavoured body pens

* Broome Oil Burner and Broome Time Oils

* Local Broome artists - "The Pigram Brothers" CD

$1472.00 based on per person, twin or double occupancy

Opening rates start from $210.00 per room Bookings 1300 65 65 65 or the hotel direct on + 61 8 9195 5900. Internet:

Accor is the largest hotel operator in Western Australia with 17 hotels located across the State.

Accor, a major global group and the European leader in hotels, as well as the global leader in services to corporate clients and public institutions, operates in nearly 100 countries with 150,000 employees. It offers to its clients over 40 years of expertise in two core businesses:

- Hotels, with the Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure, Suitehotel, Ibis, all seasons, Etap Hotel, Formule 1 and Motel 6 brands, representing 4,000 hotels and nearly 500,000 rooms in 90 countries, as well as strategically related activities, such as Lenôtre.

- Services, with 30 million people in 40 countries benefiting from Accor Services products in employee and public benefits, rewards and loyalty and expense management.

Monday 28 July 2008

Garuda Indonesia responds to Western Australia’s demand for Bali by adding new aircraft to the route

Garuda Indonesia responds to Western Australia's demand for Bali by adding new aircraft to the route

Garuda Indonesia will place the newly delivered Boeing 737-800 Next Generation series aircraft on the Perth Bali route from 18 August, 2008.

This move is in direct response to the resurgence in tourism to Bali from Western Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the state recorded a 75% growth in holiday makers travelling to Indonesia in the first quarter of 2008.

From 18 August, Garuda Indonesia will add another daily service to the two flights that are currently operating daily (except Wednesday). And, from 3rd September, an additional Wednesday service will bring the total operation from Perth to Bali to triple daily, providing a growth in capacity of 61.5%.

This is in addition to four direct flights per week to Jakarta from Perth.

The daily flight commencing 18 August, GA725, will depart Perth at 1425 arriving in Bali at 1810. This will give West Australians the option of a mid afternoon flight to add to the daily morning flight which departs at 0715 (GA727), and the six times weekly evening flight GA729 departing at 1715.

Garuda Indonesia's General Manager WA, Mr. Iskandar Basro said, "Western Australians have had an ongoing love affair with Bali for years, prompted by great value packages and a strengthening Australian dollar. The word is out that there is no other place in the world where you can holiday in luxury for such great prices."

"The addition of a further 1248 seats by 3 September should go a long way to ensuring that Western Australians can continue this romance. "

The capacity increase from the West Coast follows Garuda Indonesia's announcement last month of an additional 1013 seats per week being added to East Coast Australian routes to Bali by 3 September.

For further details Garuda Indonesia reservations can be contacted on 1300 365 330.

Garuda Indonesia new Perth Flight Schedule

EFF JUL-25OCT08 - unchanged

GA728 DAILY DPS 0200 PER 0540 (B737-800)

GA727 DAILY PER 0715 DPS 1100 (B737-800)

Exception: Between 18AUG-01SEP08 GA728/727 operated by B737-400

GA730 MON/WED/FRI/SUN CGK 1045 PER 1600 (B737-500)

GA731 MON/WED/FRI/SUN PER 1700 CGK 2030 (B737-500)

EFF 18AUG-25OCT08 – extra flight

GA724 DAILY DPS 0950 PER 1325 (B737-800)

GA725 DAILY PER 1425 DPS 1810 (B737-800)

EFF 03SEP-22OCT08 – extra flight

GA726 DAILY DPS 1240 PER 1615 (B737-800)

GA729 DAILY PER 1715 DPS 2100 (B737-800)

Exception: Between 18AUG-31AUG08 GA726/729 operated by B737-400

About Garuda Indonesia Garuda Indonesia operates 50 aircraft including three B-747-400s, six A-330-300s, and 36 B-737s (300, 400, 500 and 800 Next Generation series). Garuda Indonesia currently flies to 42 domestic and international destinations. On 19 February, Garuda Indonesia signed a contract for the purchase of ten highly sophisticated Boeing 777 ER (Extended Range) aircraft which will supplement an earlier purchase order for fifty Boeing 737NG (Next Generation).

Norfolk Island Stages International Golf Challenge

Looking across Emily Bay to Norfolk Island Golf Course

Norfolk Island is set to host the second annual Governor's Cup, an international teams event offering $10,000 worth of prizes on the island's ocean-front golf course from November 15-22.

The par 72, 18 tee course winds around the southern edge of beautiful Emily Bay, offering magnificent views of the lagoon and neighbouring Nepean and Phillip Islands.

One of the oldest courses in Australia, it was opened on the edge of the island's Georgian-era penal settlement in 1909. The clubhouse is a sandstone building erected as the stipendiary magistrate's residence by convicts in the 1840s and officially consecrated as a golf club by Queen Elizabeth on her 1974 visit.

Entries are open for men, women and mixed teams of two playing a four ball best ball on day 1, two-person Ambrose on day 2 and a four ball aggregate stableford on day 3. Social events include a welcome night and presentation dinner at the close of the tournament.

Norfolk Island appeals to Australians because it is one of the most affordable international destinations available, providing an exciting mix of action, nature and history.

Norfolk Air flies to the island three times a week from Sydney and Brisbane, each Monday from Newcastle and each Friday from Melbourne, with flights from the Gold Coast to begin in October.

The Norfolk Island Travel Centre has a special Governor's Cup package available for Aud$2062 per person out of Brisbane and $2125 per person from Sydney. The prices include return airfares to Norfolk Island, seven nights twin share accommodation at Governor's Lodge Resort, seven-day car hire (car insurance and petrol are extra), daily fully-cooked breakfast, Governor's Cup green fees and competition entry fee, welcome happy hour and buffet dinner, Governor's Gala Dinner and Presentation and other extras. For more information or to book call toll free (aus only)1800 1400 66 or email

For general information on Norfolk Island, including the golf course, visit

Brown Bomber locomotive to ride the rails this Sunday

It's full steam ahead this Sunday as the historic Brown Bomber steam locomotive chugs into Roma Street station in Brisbane to carry passengers in its vintage carriages once again. 

Out of action for repairs and modifications in 2007, the Brown Bomber C17 974 locomotive was reintroduced to the fleet this year and is ready to rattle and roll for the Steam Train Sunday event on August 3.  

QR Passenger Executive General Manager Paul Scurrah said Steam Train Sunday had never been more popular.  

"Steam Train Sunday last month was a great success running at 93 per cent occupancy for the day, with over 850 passengers travelling on 'The Yank' locomotive and its carriages," Mr Scurrah said. 

"The event offers families and train buffs a rare opportunity to experience remnants of a bygone era. 

"QR's heritage fleet is a proud reminder of how far train technology has come over the years." 

The Brown Bomber will operate three departures this Sunday 3 August from Platform 10 at Roma Street station at 9.35am, 11.25am and 1.10pm on a return trip to Pinkenba.   

"From young children to those with fond memories of a time when steam trains ruled, Steam Train Sunday will more than deliver on experience, especially with Queensland's iconic loco – the Brown Bomber – up front," Mr Scurrah said.  

Bookings are essential and places are strictly limited - call Traveltrain Holidays on 1300 732 087 or visit your local QR Travel Centre to secure your seat. 

Each departure has a capacity of 300 passengers and steam train fans and families are being urged to book their tickets early to avoid disappointment. 

Tickets are priced at $15.40 for adults and $7.70 for children over four, $2.20 for children under four, with a special family fare of $44.00 (2 adults and 2 children) also available.  

"QR continues to be extremely proud of our heritage fleet and we look forward to welcoming passengers to Steam Train Sunday this weekend," Mr Scurrah said. 

For more information on upcoming Steam Train Sunday events visit 

Select Welcomes More New Members for 2008

Select, the marque of excellence in unique accommodation and travel experiences throughout Australia, New Zealand, Asia and beyond, is proud to announce four additional exciting Member properties for 2008 Select is continuing the shift toward more diverse luxury accommodation markets, adding a Member in China for the first time, two additional Australian Member properties and one more in New Zealand.

These latest Select Members are described briefly below and will soon be added to our extensive website

Ralph Kelly, Select’s Managing Director, says, “I am delighted that Select continues to be so eagerly embraced by properties around the region, particularly in Asia and now also in China. Our core Membership in Australia and New Zealand is also strengthened with the addition of these wonderful properties. My team and I are extremely excited to be able to promote such a diverse and superlative group of unique travel experiences to the world in 2008”.
New Member Properties:

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.

Paradise Bay Eco Escape, Whitsundays, QLD

Imagine arriving by helicopter to a secluded luxury island paradise, basking in the sun, swimming in tropical waters, dining on gourmet food and exploring the islands, coral gardens and deserted beaches under billowing sails …

Paradise Bay is one of Australia's most unique and environmentally sustainable resorts, located in the beautiful Whitsunday Islands, just near the world famous Great Barrier Reef. Paradise Bay welcomes guests with the philosophy of relaxed eco luxury is peace, quiet, getting close to (and sometimes touching) nature, being able to see the stars in the skies, private beaches, wilderness and snorkeling in places where there is nobody else. Laze in a hammock or stretch out on sundowners, relax in a private waterfront bungalow surrounded by national park rainforest and private beach.

For the more adventurous of heart guests are offered the chance to explore the waterways and the surrounding islands and reefs on Paradise Bay’s own 34 foot catamaran. The resorts teams of gourmet chefs are waiting to delight guest pallets with fresh local produce, sea food and other temping morsels.

This is a very unique way to experience and explore Australia's most spectacular natural region, with a maximum of 16 guests, an all-inclusive tariff, gourmet food, no single surcharge, and no TV, phones, children or day visitors.

LOCATION: 3 hours from Sydney including flight to Hamilton Island and a 10 minute helicopter transfer to the island (transfer included in tariff).

Edgewater Resort Hotel, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

Edgewater Resort Hotel is located on the edge of Lake Wanaka- New Zealand's fourth largest, the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park in the South Island of New Zealand. Edgewater Resort Hotel offers a relaxing haven away with spacious and comfortable accommodation ranging from hotel style rooms, to self contained one-bedroom suites and two bedroom apartments. All 104 rooms have views of the lake and Alps and each have either a balcony or patio to allow guests to enjoy direct access to the rolling lawns leading the lake’s edge and the visual backdrop of the magnificent Southern Alps.

Edgewater Resort is a favourite for wedding parties and conference groups. There are recreational choices to suit each season: guests can play tennis, explore Lake Wanaka by kayak, seize the challenge of mountain biking in the nearby undulating terrain or simply relax in the sauna or the spa, while for children there is the playground. During the winter Wanaka comes alive as snow enthusiasts indulge their passions at any one of our nearby ski resorts, including a dedicated freestyle ski resort and at New Zealand’s only Nordic ski area.

LOCATION: A five hour drive from Christchurch or a one hour drive from Queenstown airport.

88 Xintiandi Executive Residences, Shanghai

Located in the heart of Shanghai in the internationally-acclaimed Shanghai Xintiandi, one of the city’s most exciting storied districts, the former French Concession and a short distance from the city’s main shopping areas, guests will discover a unique urban living experience.

Shanghai Xintiandi is a re-creation born out of the sprawls of Shikumen housing- the architectural symbol of early 20th century Shanghai. There are 5 different layouts among the properties 53 residences. With luxurious comfort and style as its essence, 88 Xintiandi's interiors are exceedingly modern in comfort, function and beauty. Their open space design concept embraces and highlights a distinctive juxtaposition that infuses the traditional Chinese and Southeast Asian style with a Western edge. Guests will find the furniture and accessories of each suite to exude both nostalgia and modernity.

Featuring a plaza or a panoramic lake view each is thoughtfully designed to anticipate guests’ needs for a peaceful setting for rest and leisure or uninterrupted work. With its magnificent location and unparalleled luxury service, 88Xintiandi is the ultimate choice in fine living in Shanghai.

LOCATION: 380 South Huang Pi Road, Shanghai 200021, PRC.

Select Member properties for 2008 are:

AUSTRALIA: Q Station, Sydney; The Observatory Hotel, Sydney, NSW: Lilianfels Blue Mountains Resort & Spa, Katoomba NSW; Tower Lodge, Hunter Valley, NSW; Kims Beach Hideaway, Toowoon Bay, NSW; Arajilla Retreat, Lord Howe Island, NSW; Meadowlake Lodge, Milton, NSW; Hotel Lindrum, Melbourne, VIC; Select Burnham Beeches, Dandenong Ranges, VIC; Hotel Pension Grimus, Mount Buller, VIC; Kangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat, Kangaroo Island, SA; The Lodge at Tarraleah, Tarraleah, TAS; Couran Cove Island Resort, South Stradbroke Island, QLD; Paradise Bay Eco Escape, Whitsundays, QLD;

NEW ZEALAND: Carrington Resort, Karikari Peninsula, Northland; Kourawhero Country Lodge, North Auckland; Mangapapa Petit Hotel, Hawke’s Bay; Select Braemar Lodge and Spa, Hanmer Springs; Grasmere Lodge, Arthur's Pass; Huntley House, Christchurch; Millbrook Resort, Queenstown; The Spire Hotel, Queenstown; Fiordland Lodge, Te Anau; Corstorphine House, Dunedin

PACIFIC ISLANDS: Fiji Orchid, Nadi, Fiji; Nukubati Island, Fiji; Toberua Island Resort, Fiji; Royale Takitumu Villas, Rarotonga, Cook Islands; Tikehau Pearl Beach Resort, Tikehau, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia; Manihi Pearl Beach Resort, Manihi, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia

ASIA: Saman Villas, Bentota, Sri Lanka; The Regency Wing of Galle Face Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka; Mom Tri’s Villa Royale, Phuket, Thailand; Veranda Resort and Spa, Hua Hin, Thailand; Wanakarn Beach Resort & Spa, Phuket, Thailand

CHINA: 88Xintiandi Executive Residences, Shanghai

MIDDLE EAST: Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai, UAE

Australia - Baz Luhrmann Film with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman

"Australia" is Baz Luhrmann's first feature film since the 2001 musical success Moulin Rouge! The highly anticipated film centres on an English aristocrat in the 1930s, played by Nicole Kidman, who comes to northern Australia to sell a cattle property the size of Belgium. After an epic journey across the country with a rough-hewn drover, Hugh Jackman, they are caught in the bombing of Darwin during World War II. Filming began late April 2007 & concluded December 19th 2007. The film is slated for a November 13 2008 release.

Sunday 27 July 2008

Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa coming soon to Daylesford-Hepburn Springs

The exciting new Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa is set to be the centrepiece of Australia's premier spa destination, Daylesford-Hepburn Springs, when it opens in mid-September '08.

Recognised as one of regional Victoria's most popular attractions, the historic Edwardian Bathhouse is soon to emerge from a $13 million dollar renovation. The stunning new space blends the charm of the original turn of the century heritage Bathhouse with an all new sleek and contemporary architect designed Day Spa facility, full of natural light and set amidst the lush green surrounds of the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.

The new Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa will entice with such indulgent offerings as mineral springs pools and private mineral baths, spa couches, steam room, relaxation rooms, and monsoon shower - a completely new experience. With over 30 wet and dry treatment rooms for signature spa treatments and special "experiences", the Bathhouse will be one of the largest Day Spas in Australia.

Meanwhile, more information is available on the continuously expanding website

Qantas Flight Diverts To Manila

Qantas has confirmed that a B747-400 aircraft operating QF30 from Hong Kong to Melbourne diverted to Manila today following a loss of cabin pressure.

The Chief Executive Officer of Qantas, Mr Geoff Dixon, said all 346 passengers and 19 crew disembarked normally and there were no reports of any injuries to passengers or crew.

The flight, which originated in London, landed in Manila at approximately 11.15 am local time.

Mr Dixon said the flight crew had performed emergency procedures after oxygen masks were deployed.

He said initial inspections revealed the aircraft had sustained a hole in its fuselage, and it was currently being inspected by engineers.

“The Australian Transportation Safety Bureau (ATSB) and the Civil Aviation SafetyAuthority (CASA) have been notified of the incident and Qantas is sending its ownengineers to Manila.

“Qantas has provided all passengers with accommodation and a replacementaircraft hasbeen arranged.”

Strong AUD Makes Hawaii a Shopping Mecca for Aussies

With the Australian dollar at its strongest against the greenback for years, 2008 is the year to shop in Hawaii for incredible bargains on brand-name goods.

Think of Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bergdorf-Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sears, Banana Republic, Abercrombie & Fitch, Guess, Polo Sport, Nike, Juicy Cotoure, Sephora, Armani Exchange, Gap, Old Navy, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren – and you have the tip of the shopping iceberg.

Add to this savings of 65 per cent and above combined with the best AUD exchange rate for 20 years, and Hawaii is a shopping goldmine – surrounded by some of the most beautiful islands in the world.

On the main island of Oahu, all the major shopping centres and outlets are close to the tourist hub of Waikiki – Ala Moana Shopping Centre, Waikele Premium Outlets, Aloha Tower Marketplace, Royal Hawaiian Shopping Centre, International Marketplace and DFS Galleria in Waikiki, Ward Warehouse and Ward Centre, Pearlridge Centre, Kahala Mall and Windward Mall.

These are shop 'til you drop’ destinations with bargains that would make most Australian's eyes water – high quality brand name products at mark down, giveaway prices.

“Shopping in Hawaii is phenomenal all year round and even more so if you are there for the After-Thanksgiving Weekend sales or the New Years sales when shops and outlets are shifting as much stock as they can,” Hawaii Tourism Oceania manager Helen Williams said.

“There are huge price markdowns across the board – Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Nike, Armani, Valentino, Boss – it is incredible value,” Williams said.

The Waikele Premium Outlets upcoming ‘After-Thanksgiving Weekend Midnight Madness Sale’ (Nov 28-30) kicks off at the stroke of midnight on Friday November 28 and runs through to 8pm on Sunday November 30.
Its 50 stores are stocked with new inventory throughout the three day sale and there are fantastic new bargains released every day.

Ala Moana Shopping Centre, a 10 minute bus ride from Waikiki and one of the largest open-air shopping centres in the world is also bargain central year round with its 200 stores constantly in sale mode. It is home to all the major international, national and local retailers and has recently expanded adding a brand new Nordstrom store, Valentino, Sketchers, Fossil and local clothing boutique Cinnamon Girl.

“Ala Moana Shopping Centre is also open till 9pm most nights which means you can kick back at the beach during the day or participate in the host activities on offer then head to the shops in the cool of the evening,” Williams said.

And literally minutes from Ala Moana is the Ward Centre – home to 120 stores including Nordstrom Rack, Nordstrom Shoes, Ross, Farmers Market, Borders and cinema complex.

“Hawaii is one of the most exciting shopping destinations in the world but importantly it is real value for money – you leave knowing you have purchased some of the best quality items in the world at prices that would be hard to beat anywhere,” Williams said.

“And 2008 is the best time ever to cash in as the AUD nears parity with the greenback,” Williams said.

For all consumer enquiries, please visit or contact Claire Davies, Hawai`i Tourism Australia,

Tourism powerhouse rising to the top!

A young innovative and passionate Australian company, Ocean Hotels and Tourism is North Queensland’s powerhouse in leisure, honeymooners, adventure and eco tourism.

The platform for our market segments includes six owned and operated tourism products and an international talented team of professionals in operations and sales based in Cairns & Brisbane.

The portfolio includes two of Australia’s favourite resorts in the Whitsundays, a major Great Barrier Reef cruise operation based in Cairns, a heritage hotel in the centre of Cairns and two eco lodges in the oldest part of the Daintree rainforest at Cape Tribulation. Simply – we have what guests want in FNQ.

Whitsundays – Cairns - Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa - Ferntree Rainforest Lodge Cape Tribulation - Sunlover Reef Cruises ex Cairns - Hides Hotel Cairns - Long Island Resort Whitsundays - Comfort Resort Club Crocodile Airlie Beach

• Australian owned and operated
• Here for the long haul & not for sale
• Enjoy working with the people you know
• Here for you today and tomorrow
• Here for your guests today and tomorrow
• Best iconic destinations in FNQ – your guests want them and we have got them!!

Group General Manager Jayne Pester says “Visitors are increasingly demanding activities that bring them into contact with nature”. North Queensland is recognised as an iconic adventure and eco touring destination and research has confirmed that in the last 12 months, visitors seeking nature based experiences have soared by 30%.

As doubt creeps into the economy and some tourism operators sell assets and rationalise staff, Ocean Hotels and Tourism has the product portfolio to meet the demand for nature based holidays and green conferencing, educational experiences on the Great Barrier Reef with our Sunlover Reef Cruises daily affordable departures from Cairns, all inclusive (Full board) packages at Long Island Resort Whitsundays.

We are holding current accommodation rates through to March 2010 – to further assist with our clients and future guests future holiday plans.

Aussies love holidaying at Comfort Resort Club Crocodile Airlie Beach, honeymooning on Long Island, staying in Cairns at Hides Hotel and snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef with Sunlover Reef Cruises. Ferntree Rainforest Lodge is introducing young Australians to the Daintree Rainforest and eco touring while Cape Tribulation Resort & Spa has opened up the World Heritage rainforest to the 4 star markets and to business retreats and small corporate incentives.

The Ocean Hotels & Tourism Group offers affordable and niche 3.5 – 4 star resorts in iconic Queensland locations. Further, the group has synergised with day tour operators thus creating the total guest experience, and these working partners’ aids the domestic and international appeal of our properties but importantly selling these great tourist destinations.

Saturday 26 July 2008


- Savings of up to 50 per cent on 15 day Bridgetown to Rio de Janeiro voyage departing November 2008 -

Ultra luxury Silversea Cruises is offering fantastic savings on a colourful voyage from Bridgetown, Barbados, to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, departing on 26 November 2008. The all-inclusive voyage onboard the all-suite Silver Cloud will call at 10 fascinating ports, taking in the spectacular sights of this vibrant region.

The Silver Cloud departs from Bridgeton, Barbados, calling at the idyllic islands of Bequia, St Vincent and The Grenadines; St George's - the picturesque capital of Grenada, and Devil's Island in French Guiana – the infamous French penal colony. The vessel then heads south, calling at the captivating Brazilian ports of Fortaleza, the world-class fashion centre; Natal, known as the "Sun Capital"; Recife, founded by the Dutch Prince Maurice of Nassau in 1637; Bahia state's capital, Salvador, and the charming colonial harbour town of Ilheus. The Silver Cloud arrives in Rio de Janeiro on 10 December, allowing guests to explore the dazzling city overnight before disembarking on 11 December.

All-inclusive cruise-only Silver Sailings fares in luxury ocean view suite accommodation start from just US$$5,397 per person, double occupancy.

To complement the voyage, guests can enjoy a post-cruise Land Programme to both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides of the great Iguazú Falls. The two night excursion includes return flights from Rio de Janeiro to Iguazú, two nights' accommodation, meals and transfers, with fares starting from US$2675 per person. Silversea also offers a range of exciting Shore Excursions during the cruise and pre- and post-cruise Silver Sights stays at magnificent hotels in Barbados or Rio de Janeiro.

The Silver Cloud has the luxury and elegance of a private yacht and the services of a five-star hotel, with a crew of 219 to look after a maximum of 296 guests. Fares are all inclusive with all-suite accommodation, complimentary wines, champagnes and spirits, and guests can dine at their leisure in a choice of four gourmet restaurants. The friendly Silversea service is renowned and all gratuities are included.

*Port charges, government fees and taxes are additional. Subject to availability. All costs are based on per person, double occupancy.

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

Silversea Cruises is recognised as an innovator in the luxury segment, offering guests large-ship amenities aboard four intimate vessels, Silver Cloud, Silver Wind, Silver Shadow, and Silver Whisper, all designed to offer an atmosphere of conviviality and casual elegance.  With the addition of the regal expedition ship Prince Albert II in 2008, the company's itineraries encompass all seven continents.  Silversea has for the past four consecutive years been named Best Cruise Line by readers of Australia's Luxury Travel and Style magazine.  For nine consecutive years, Silversea has been named "Number One Small Ship Line" in the Readers' Choice survey conducted by Condé Nast Traveler magazine in the USA and in 2007 was the only cruise line named in the UK edition of Condé Nast Traveller's "Top 100 Luxury Travel Experiences", at the same time topping the Small Cruise Line award for the eighth time. Silversea has been selected as "World's Best Small-Ship Cruise Line" seven times in the Travel + Leisure (USA) readers' poll and was rated Number-One luxury cruise line by high-net-worth consumers in the 2008 Luxury Brand Status Index.  

Friday 25 July 2008

Rendezvous Wins Gold Award At New York Quality Summit

Rendezvous Hotels & Resorts International (Rendezvous) has received the prestigious Quality Summit Gold Award for Excellence & Business Prestige at the Business Initiative Directions (BID) International Quality Summit for 2008 in New York.

The BID World Congress gathered submissions from participating leaders of companies from 93 countries, including those listed in the Global Fortune 500, for the annual awards. Companies selected from each designated industry demonstrate leadership excellence, increased market share, improved results and sustainability.

"We are delighted to be selected for this prestigious award" says Rendezvous' Chief Executive Alan Featherby, "We place considerable importance on industry recognition and to win this one which is so highly regarded is a real bonus. This award reflects the progress that our group is making."

Rendezvous Hotels & Resorts International excelled in each category of the award criteria selection process, demonstrating an outstanding commitment to quality through its ongoing development and innovation. Criteria for the award are assessed according to the benchmark QC100 Top Quality Management Model, including:

* Customer satisfaction
* Communications strategies
* Benchmarking
* Information and data analysis
* Leadership
* Planning and decision making
* Human resources
* Continuing education and training of staff and management
* Processes and production
* Financial outcome
* Business results and sustainability

Rendezvous Hotels International Pte Ltd is part of the Singapore listed company, The Straits Trading Company Limited. The Rendezvous Hotels & Resorts International group operates a total of 19 hotels existing or under construction in the Asia-Pacific region:

* Rendezvous Observation City Hotel Perth
* Rendezvous Sanctuary Resort Cable Beach Broome
* Rendezvous Allegra Hotel Adelaide
* Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne
* Rendezvous Stafford Hotel Sydney
* Rendezvous Hotel Brisbane
* Rendezvous Reef Resort Port Douglas
* Rendezvous Hotel Singapore
* Rendezvous Merry Hotel Shanghai
* Rendezvous Hotel Auckland
* Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch (opening 2008)
* Rendezvous Hotel Kuala Lumpur (opening 2009)
* The Marque Hotel Brisbane
* The Marque Hotel Sydney
* The Marque Hotel Canberra
* The Marque Hotel Perth (opening 2008)
* The Marque Hotel Guilin (opening 2008)
* The Marque Hotel Fujairah (opening 2009)
* The Marque Hotel Yu Garden Shanghai (opening 2009)

Thursday 24 July 2008

Personal Porter becomes increasingly relevant

Last week saw the introduction of another airline introducing checked-in luggage fees in an effort to mitigate against soaring fuel costs. It was widely reported that Virgin Blue would introduce this fee and the question that should now be asked, is how long will it take for Qantas to introduce its own charge?

In the last month there have been some unnerving quotes from all quarters of the airline industry.

Geoff Dixon, Qantas CEO said “oil prices staying at over US$140-plus a barrel has changed forever the way we do business”

Gerard Arpey, American Airlines Chairman & CEO said “The US airline business was not built for US$125 or US$130 barrel oil....and will not continue in its current state”

Idris Jala, Malaysia Airlines MD & CEO said “change, and I mean drastic change, is absolutely vital for our survival”.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the vast majority of travellers will now have to start facing the reality that the days are drawing to a close where airlines will deliver luggage for free.

“It was inevitable. Airlines have no choice but to create additional revenue streams and charging for checked-in luggage is an effective strategy.” said James Garrod, Group Marketing Director of Personal Porte, “The airline only needs a small percentage of passengers to travel with just hand luggage to make significant fuel savings.”

This was confirmed by Horst Findeisen, Star Alliance Vice President Business Development, after holding some best practice workshops stated “by reducing the weight of the aircraft by as little as 50kgs would provide significant savings”. The actual savings figure reported was $1million in fuel costs per day and in the language of Personal Porter, this weight represents just 2 items of checked-in luggage.

“We have conducted our own studies and by removing checked-in luggage from one particular airlines international operations, it was calculated that over $200million could be saved in fuel costs” said Garrod. “To be fair, we are some way off removing checked-in luggage from an airlines operations altogether, but it again demonstrates that even a small percentage uptake in the service can provide a significant benefit”

As well as checked-in luggage fees, this last month saw a reduction in the luggage allowance provided by Cathay Pacific on its US route. This is a significant policy change and has the potential to influence the luggage allowances other airlines provide that fly into the Americas.

Personal Porter™ provides an online and seamless global door-to-door luggage delivery service, offering travellers an alternative to checking-in luggage, by picking up their luggage at their home or office and delivering it to their final destination wherever in the world they are located. The company offers flexible luggage options, preferred pick-up windows, pro-active luggage management and with operations in both Australia and the UK, provides unrivalled coverage, customer service and 24/7 support.

Wednesday 23 July 2008


BOOK two of you aboard the luxury 4-star mega-liner Rhapsody of the Seas for 28-nights from Vancouver to Sydney in September of this year, and Cruiseco will give one of you your cruise for free – in an "outside" Oceanview Cabin.

And Cruiseco, that has exclusively chartered Rhapsody of the Seas for this cruise, is selling the Oceanview Cabin from just $5990 for the first paying passenger, complete with all meals for two, nightly showroom entertainment and a host of other free onboard sporting and social activities.

Rhapsody of the Seas will sail from Vancouver on September 19 for Victoria on Vancouver Island, Astoria in Oregon, an overnight at Lahaina on Maui, Nawiliwili on Kauai, Kona and Hilo on the Big Island Hawaii, Honolulu, Papeete, Moorea, Bora Bora and Raiatea in French
Polynesia, Lautoka and Sydney.

Cruiseco has special one-way airfares available to Vancouver from $1598 per adult ex-Sydney, Perth, Cairns and Adelaide, and from $1871 ex-Brisbane and Melbourne including air taxes. Pre-cruise hotel and touring options are also available; phone 1800 225 656 or visit for the name of your nearest Cruiseco cruise specialist travel agency Australia-wide.

(The 2,400-passenger Rhapsody of the Seas offers a choice of formal, casual and al fresco dining, iced tea and lemonade, eight lounges and bars, indoor/outdoor pools, six whirlpools, nightly showroom entertainment and first-run movies, lectures and tutorials, a casino, rock-climbing wall, shopping atrium, youth facilities, day spa and fitness centre.)

Preferred Hotel Group Announces Partnership With India's Luxury Hotel Group, The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts

Preferred Hotel Group is pleased to welcome The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts to its collection of over 650 hotels and resorts worldwide. The Leela currently represents four of India's leading luxury properties in the key locations of Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa and Kovalam, all of which are members of the Preferred Hotels® & Resorts brand. The group has aggressive expansion plans for six more properties in the next four years.

"Preferred Hotel Group is very committed in expanding its infrastructure and its partner hotel presence in India. As part of this growth, we are delighted to be working with The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts who have aggressive development plans to rapidly increase their portfolio in key business and leisure locations throughout India," said Ananya Narayan, Area Managing Director, India and Middle East.

According to Onno Poortier, President of The Leela Palaces, Hotels & Resorts, "The USA is the largest source market for The Leela, and this alliance will strengthen our brand positioning, awareness and market penetration."

This strategic alliance will provide The Leela Palaces extensive access to four of the largest consortias - American Express®, Carlson Wagonlit, BCD and Hogg Robinson; global and regional joint marketing programmes; airline frequent flyer programmes and credit card partnerships as well as drive international sales through the 29 global sales offices of Preferred Hotel Group.

About Preferred Hotel Group
Celebrating 40 years of excellence, Preferred Hotel Group is a global leader in the hospitality industry, delivering high-performance sales, marketing, and technology solutions to more than 650 independent hotels and resorts in over 75 countries. Its family of brands represents a collection of the finest hotels in the world and include: Preferred Hotels® & Resorts (, Preferred Boutique™ (, Summit Hotels & Resorts™ (, Sterling Hotels™ ( and Historic Hotels of America™ ( For more information please visit

In September 2007, the company entered the luxury real estate market with the launch of Preferred Residences™ - a membership and exchange program for luxury shared ownership resorts that provides an exceptional level of service and amenities. Properties are held to exacting standards derived from the same Preferred Global Standards of Excellence™ on which the company has built its 40-year heritage in the hospitality industry. For more information please visit

About The Leela Palaces
Hotel Leelaventure Ltd. owns and operates The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts in Mumbai, Bangalore, Goa, and in Kovalam (Kerala); have new developments in Gurgaon (opens Nov. 2008) and Udaipur (opens Jan. 2009), Chennai (opens 2009), New Delhi (opens 2010), Hyderabad and Pune (opens 2011), and already have marketing alliance with Kempinski (Hoteliers since 1897) and are members of Global Hotel Alliance headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

‘Out of Africa’ Experience in Top End taps into Premium Travellers’ Growing Environmental Interest.

Reprising the 'Out of Africa' experience of African safari camps, Bamurru Plains in the top end of the Northern Territory is offering a Weekend at Bamurru, hosted by Atticus Fleming, head of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, from September 26 to 29.
Bamurru Plains is located on the edge of Kakadu National Park, and is home to an astonishing array of bird and animal life. The hosted weekend is designed to marry an ecologically-sensitive luxury experience with insights from one of the country's most inspiring environmentalists.
"The Weekends are designed as a casual, yet insightful experience of the Australian wilderness," explains CEO of Bamurru Plains, Charles Carlow. "There won't be any lectures or formalities, just the chance to explore the savannah, floodplains and remnant rainforest in this un-touched corner of the country with one of the new breed of Australian conservationists."
Atticus Fleming is head of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Australia's leading non-government conservation organisation, which owns and manages 19 properties covering nearly 2.5 million hectares.
He served on the personal staff of Senator the Hon Robert Hill, Australia's longest-serving Federal Environment Minister, where he played a major role in the development of the country's first biodiversity law, described by some environmental groups as "the biggest legislative win for the environment in 25 years".
Bamurru Plains's 'wild bush luxury' focuses on the wildlife, bird life and dramatic landscape of the Mary River floodplains to the west of Kakadu National Park. Nine individual safari suites blend with the surrounding bush, yet have the creature comforts of a luxury hotel: supremely comfortable beds, ensuites and views over the savannah. This is Australia's answer to the luxury African safari.
The floodplains teem with wallabies, vast flocks of magpie geese and other bird life. Highlights of the Weekend include skimming across the floodplains by airboat, spotting crocodiles and other wildlife; guided walks and drives and time to relax in camp – swimming in the infinity pool and sharing Fleming's stories and insights over five star meals.
During the Weekend, Atticus Fleming will guide guests on a private charter, flying by light plane and helicopter into the AWC's Wongalara Sanctuary, which protects a suite of ecosystems and is a 'hotspot' for wildlife, being home to over 200 bird species and an estimated 40 species of mammal.
The Weekend at Bamurru Plains with Atticus Fleming is from September 26 to 29. It costs $3600 per person including three nights accommodation; all meals; beverages; safari activities; private charter flight transfers to and from Darwin and Wongalara, and a contribution to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
For further information call 1300 790 561 or visit

Monday 21 July 2008

Anantara Seminyak launches South Sea Pearl treatment with a twist

Anantara Hits the Roof with Launch of USD$5000 Spa Experience

The South Sea Pearl Mystic Treatment

Inspired by the mysterious glamour of the unique South Sea Pearl, a luxe and exclusive two and a half hour body ritual has been launched at the dazzling new Anantara Spa, bringing new heights to the kingdom of spas on the island of Bali.

The launch of the ultra indulgent and lavish South Sea Pearl Mystic spa experience includes a therapeutic signature pearl massage, facial and a choice of desirable South Sea Pearls that are stunningly priced up to USD$5000 plus tax and service charge.

Making for one of the world's most decadent spa treatment experiences, spa guests are presented with a premium range of individually crafted South Sea Pearls and jewelry to choose from to complement their exclusive treatment.  

The pearl treatment which features the use of essential oils bound with elements of the world's finest natural South Sea Pearl Powders, is delivered at the resorts' Anantara Spa which has been perfectly positioned to take advantage of spectacular skyline mountain vistas and adjacent ocean horizons from floor to ceiling glass windows.

"The South Sea Pearl Mystic treatment is a high-level concept and experience we introduced to parallel our stunning oceanfront location and cutting edge resort features. This treatment is an experience unlike anything else and one we especially designed to engage our globally discerning and trend savvy guests.  Where else can you walk into a spa for a treatment and walk out with a precious gem draped around your décolletage?" said resort General Manager, Ivan Casadevall.

"The South Sea Pearl Mystic experience is priced according to the size, luster and hierarchy of gem chosen to accompany the treatment which can range anywhere from USD$200++ up to USD$5000++" he adds.

The deluxe treatment includes a pampering foot soak followed by a therapeutic 90 minute Rooftop Signature massage using precious natural pearl powders renowned for their rejuvenating and healing properties. Delicately blended with freshly scooped essence of vanilla pods and essential oils it presents for a most extraordinary aromatic experience. A 75 minute customized Fruit Facial Ritual using a combination of fresh tropical fruits to deep cleanse, exfoliate and detoxify completes the session at the newly opened spa.

The Anantara Spa was created to give an illusion of being suspended mid-air with four stylishly appointed air-conditioned private spa suites, spa reception and adjacent all glass fitness and weights room with outdoor deck that all offer indulgent 180 degree skyline views.

The timber and glass motif paneled spa suites also feature mood enhancing dimmer lights, contemporary Zen inspired furnishings such as volcanic stone foot baths, plush carpets over stained mocha timber floors, floor to ceiling windows with brilliant island views and a private indoor rain shower with adjacent washstand and footstools.

A double treatment room of exacting design caters for romantic couple treatments and features the addition of an oversized bathtub abundantly filled with aromatic fresh flower petals for every treatment.  

Guests are further indulged at the Anantara Spa with a choice of IPod music piped throughout state of the art Bose sound-docks, extra long and wide massage tables, rich burgundy and bronze trimmed bathrobes, raffia-woven slippers, plush towels and signature spa amenities.

The Anantara Spa opens 10.00am-9.00pm daily and offers a menu of body and beauty treatments for men and women including reflexology, manicure and pedicures, facials and body conditioning scrubs. For more information and reservation please contact Anantara Spa Seminyak Bali at +361 737 773 or Email: or please visit  

++ Prevailing government tax and service charges apply.

About South Sea Pearls  

The South Sea pearls of Indonesia are renowned for being amongst the rarest and largest in the world and can fetch anywhere up to USD $75,000 for a single strand.  

Luster and size are generally considered the two main factors to look for and depend on the fineness and evenness of the layers. The deeper the glow the more perfect the shape and surface, the more valuable.  

If you can see a reflection of your face clearly by gazing into the pearl, that's a high quality luster.  

Size has to do with the age of the oyster that created the pearl (the more mature oysters produce larger pearls) and the location in which the pearl was cultured.

The best cultured pearls are those that come from an oyster that dies after the pearl is removed. Oysters that do not die after the pearl has been extracted produce what are referred to as "Biwa" pearls. Generally but not always, Biwa pearls fetch a lower price.

The South Sea pearls of Indonesia, Myanmar and Australia are rarer and larger, with diameters of 10 to 20mm, so cost more even though they tend to be less lustrous. A 16 inch strand of white South Sea pearls can retail for $40,000 to $50,000.

The world record for the highest price paid for a cultured pearl necklace was $2.3 million at Sotheby's in 1992. The 17-inch strand had 23 pearls with diameters ranging from 16 to 20mm, and a bead-shaped platinum clasp of 60 round diamonds.

The origins of a natural or cultured pearl are from the sea and only one pearl is ever produced by an oyster in it's' lifetime.


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.  


It was romantic enough for the world to sing songs about it and adventurous enough for Hollywood to immortalise it, and decades on its allure has little waned with thousands still drawn today to the legendary Road to Mandalay.

Far Horizons have a 32-day fully-escorted tour from Angkor Wat in Cambodia through Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma) later this year that incorporates a journey by road and river through much of what was home to the fabled Road that ran from Rangoon (now Yangon) to Mandalay.

Highlights include the 81ha temple complex of Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh's Royal Palace with its floor of 5000 silver tiles, a boat ride on the Mekong River, Ho Chi Minh's war museum, the French colonial hilltop retreat of Dalat, ancient trading ports and outposts, Hanoi ("the Paris of the Orient,") a 3-day cruise on Halong Bay on a classic wooden junk, the 2500-year old Shwedagon Pagoda, and a hot air balloon ride over the temple city of Bagan that's considered one of the world's greatest archaeological sites.

The tour concludes with a 2-day cruise aboard the boutique 48-passenger Pandaw II on the Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay.

The tour departs Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide on October 19 this year with prices starting from $25,500pp twin-share including air and taxes, ground transport, all meals, a Far Horizons escort and local guides, entry fees and gratuities; accommodation includes select Orient-Express and Raffles hotels.

For full details - including itineraries and prices ex-Brisbane and Perth –  phone 1800 083 141 or visit

Time to Start Thinking of Spring: Grand Romance On Offer At Melbourne's Hotel W

It will soon be spring – time for celebrations and romance. And where better to indulge than at Melbourne's landmark Hotel Windsor, long the preferred destination for couples seeking a romantic and indulgent escape?

This spring, The Hotel Windsor is offering a Grand Romance package that includes a bottle of Piper Heidsieck French champagne on arrival, valet parking and room service breakfast for two. Guests will also receive a Hotel Windsor Harold Teddy Bear to take home.

Prices start from $445 for a superior room but the very romantically inclined may want to choose one of the beautiful Victorian Suites, featuring separate stately lounge and dining rooms, with prices from $750.

The Grand Romance package is available throughout the spring months. For reservations or further information contact The Hotel Windsor on 03 9633 6002 or visit

"Spring is a magical time in Melbourne," David Perry, Hotel Windsor CEO and general manager, said. "The famous laneways and shops surrounding the hotel come alive, and there's the excitement of Melbourne's International Arts Festival and Spring Racing Carnival. The hotel's magnificent Victorian architecture, its award-winning exemplary level of service and the superb dining experiences offered at 111 Spring Street Restaurant, including the traditional afternoon tea, provide the perfect backdrop for that special romantic retreat."

The 180-room Hotel Windsor is currently celebrating its 125th anniversary. Built in 1883, it pre-dates some of the world's leading grand hotels including the Savoy in London, which was built in 1889, the Waldorf Astoria in New York which dates back to 1893, and the Ritz Paris which opened in 1898.

See Alaska through the eyes of a native

Holland America Line cruises to feature Alaska Native Travel Guides

Travel the World and Holland America Line are pleased to announce that guests on all Holland America Line ships bound for Alaska in 2008 and 2009 will see and hear about their surroundings from an expert – an Alaskan Travel Guide.

Through a partnership with the Alaska Native Heritage Center, Alaska Native Guides will be on board the majority of Alaska cruises on ships cruising in Glacier Bay, which total 114 sailings in 2008.

"We are very pleased at how this program has evolved," said Richard D. Meadows, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Guest Relations from Holland America Line. "Our guests visiting Glacier Bay will enjoy having an Alaska Native guide on board the full cruise to provide another perspective on the land they're visiting."

Alaska Native Travel Guides will bring their knowledge and personal experience of local culture, history, art and flora and fauna to guests on Alaskan cruises. They will give six to seven presentations over the course of the weeklong cruise. Topics include wildlife, gold rush dreams, volcanoes and glaciers, Alaska's early explorers and native people. They will provide narration throughout the trip, sell artwork by Alaskan Natives, be on hand to answer questions and interact with guests one-on-one.

In addition to the Alaska Travel Guides, a Tlingit cultural interpreter from Hoonah will board ships at Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier and explain the origins of the Huna people. They will give presentations on native life and culture in the region and be available for discussions with guests.

National Park Rangers are also an important part of the Alaska interpretive program and will continue to board all ships in Glacier Bay National Park and Hubbard Glacier for narration and presentations.

The leader in Alaska tourism for 60 years, Holland America Line has eight premium cruise ships and 29 cruise tours offering an incredible variety of holiday options in Alaska in 2008 and 2009. One such highlight is the 7-day Glacier Bay Inside Passage cruise which sails from Vancouver roundtrip onboard ms Ryndam on 8 May 2009. Prices start at $958 per person for an inside stateroom. This includes cruise NDA's of $270, while taxes of $170 and a fuel supplement of $55 are additional.

Travel the World has just released its 'Alaska, the Yukon & Canada' 2009 cruise holidays brochure featuring a selection of premium cruising and touring options in North America. This includes several Holland America Line cruises to the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay and Denali.

For more information about Holland America Line cruises, please contact Travel the World on 1300 766 566 or visit the website

Saturday 19 July 2008

Outback Fixation of trusty Ute

A gathering of vehicles like no other, dressed to kill or so feral they could kill – either way, Ute Musters have developed a loyal following and are often regarded as a "must-see" showcase when included in the schedule of regional events across Australia.

During the 2008 Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo, the infamous Bell & Moir Ute Muster will return and with the event celebrating its 50th delivery, the competition to take out "Gold" in the Ute muster will be at an all time high. The 2008 Bell & Moir Ute Muster will feature thousands of dollars in prizes, cash and trophies.

It's not just bucking broncs that provide the adrenalin rush in Australia's Rodeo Capital! Competitors from across Australia will gather in the mining town to show-off their utes or pose for a snapshot next to one.

So what exactly is a Ute muster? It the boys and girls from the bush chance to show off their mean machine, their pride and joy… their Ute!

Some say it is the quintessential Australian activity that embraces the large Ute culture in remote regional areas. The event brings as many utes ('utility vehicles') to Mount Isa for competition events and other side events.

The congregation of Ute enthusiasts enter their utes in a number of competitions. Some of the typical categories are:

Best Feral Ute – the dirtiest, worst maintained, lived-in Ute
Best B&S Ute – generally decorated with beer cans and stickers of alcohol brands, car companies or various pubs
Best Restored Ute – pre-1980 in most original condition.
Best Chick's Ute – Ute owned and maintained by a woman.
Best Holden Ute
Best Ford Ute
Best Trade/Commercial Ute – Ute used on a daily basis for work, fitted with toolboxes, accessories, etc
Best 4x4 Ute – Ute that is best set up to tackle rugged terrain.

Whilst taking part in the 2008 Bell & Moir Ute muster is said to be addictive, the event is also a huge drawcard for spectators with all Utes on show in the Xstrata Entertainment Centre prior to competition.

"It's crazy some of the work, time and money the entrants invest in their Ute – it's a real passion for them and some of the Utes on show blow your mind. You have your run of the mill, off the shelf Utes but you also have spectacularly decorated masterpieces" said Mrs Joyce McCulloch, Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo General Manager.

The organisational committee have built a strong following for Mount Isa's annual ute muster and see regular competitors return year after year. "This is more than just a car event, ute musters for some are their hobby… to others it's a way of life", added Mrs McCulloch.

The 2008 Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo will run from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th August 2008. For further information about the 2008 Xstrata Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo please contact the Media Unit at RODEO HQ on 07 47432706.

The Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo is benefiting from a Premier's Development Grant of $50,000 under the Queensland Events Regional Development Program (QERDP), a State Government initiative designed to take unique and creative regional events to their full potential.

Since the program began in 2001, more than $10 million has been invested in over 500 regional events.

Schedule of Events

Saturday 26 July

7pm XXXX Rodeo Ball (Rodeo Forecourt)

Tuesday 5 August

6.30pm: Isa Hillside Twilight Markets (Frank Aston Hill)

Wednesday 6 August

6.30am: Zonta Bush Poets Breakfast (The Buffs Club)
7.30pm: The Bull Pit "Man Against Beast" (Kalkadoon Stadium)

Thursday 7 August

8am: Cowboy & Cowgirls Golf Day (Mount Isa Golf Club)
10am: Mount Isa Chamber of Commerce Best Dressed Premises Presentation (Venue TBA)
7pm: Mailman Express (Buchanan Park Race Club)

Friday 8 August

9am: Rodeo & Time Events (Kalkadoon Stadium)
7pm: Mardi Gras Street Parade (George & Sutton St)
7.30pm: Fireworks - time subject to change (George & Sutton St)
8pm: The Bull Pit "Man Against Beast" (Kalkadoon Stadium)
8pm: Tommy Maxwell (Xstrata Entertainment Centre)
9pm: Dianna Corcoran & Kirsty Lee Akers (Xstrata Entertainment Centre)
10pm: Mental as Anything (Rodeo Forecourt)

Saturday 9 August

9am: Rodeo & Time Events (Kalkadoon Stadium)
All day: Bell & Moir Ute Muster (Xstrata Entertainment Centre)
10pm: Amber Lawrence & Aleyce Simmonds (Rodeo Forecourt)
11pm: Adam Brand (Rodeo Forecourt)

Sunday 10 August

8am: Buffs Recovery Breakfast (The Buffs Club)
9am: Rodeo & Time Events (Kalkadoon Stadium)
6.30pm: Chic Frontier (Rodeo Forecourt)
7pm: Cowboys & Cowgirls Night (Kalkadoon Stadium

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 5th in Top 25 African Attractions

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Thursday 17 July 2008

Furama Resort Danang continues to shine in 2008

In yet another award winning month for the five-star Furama Resort Danang, the luxurious property located on the famous China Beach added the prestigious title of Vietnam's Leading Resort from the 2008 World Travel Awards (June 2008) to its expanding list of nominations and accolades. The awards covered a total of 800 nominated organisations from across the Asian region.  

Continuing this triumphant period of success, the Vietnam Economic Times Guide Award (July 2008) successfully secured the five star Furama Resort Danang's reputation as one of Vietnam's leading hotels. The Guide's reviewer that sealed the ranking, deemed Furama "A Garden oasis on the beach. A beautiful attraction for both businessmen and families….. a luxurious venue for international conferences." 

Most recently, Furama continued to bask in the limelight, ranked third (out of the 500 hotels in the WORLDHOTELS portfolio) in an online poll for WORLDHOTELS favourite hotels for 2008 (July 2008).  

"It is an honour to receive each and every award that we have had bestowed upon us this year. We have made significant changes to the service we deliver with every guest experience, adding a new health club and spa, a nightclub and an on site dive centre in our effort to ensure that the Furama Resort Danang remains, in every sense of the word, Fabulous Furama" Duncan MacLean* General Manager of Furama Resort Danang.  

The list of local and international awards Furama Resort Danang has received includes:
  • Top Ten beach resorts in Southeast Asia by Singapore-based Agoda Company
  • Top Ten Hotels Award from the Vietnam Tourism Association (VITA)
  • Guide Award from Vietnam Economic Times (eighth consecutive year)
  • Vietnam the Best Award from Vietnamnet in cooperation with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Century International Quality Era Award in the Gold category from the Spanish-based Business Initiative Directions (B.I.D) for Excellence and Business Prestige
Seven Stars and Stripes® Award from Seven Stars and Stripes Inc.
32nd International Awards for the Tourism, Hotel and Catering Industry

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.


An incomparable thirty-six days from Tokyo to Singapore in October includes not only 6-star cruising, but a five-day Cultural Traditions of Kyoto and Tokyo tour pre-cruise, a complimentary two-day luxury motor-coach tour to Beijing, and a two-day tour to Bangkok with a full-day's private vehicle and guide.

This unique experience from Sojourn by Wiltrans International is built around cruising on the ultra-luxury Seven Seas Mariner, and also includes First Class Bullet Train transfers from Tokyo to Kyoto, a full day tour of Tokyo and half-day tour of Kyoto with four nights' deluxe/ traditional accommodation and seven meals; all meals, sightseeing and deluxe overnight hotel in Beijing; all meals and a night's hotel during the two-day tour of Bangkok; and a night in Singapore post-cruise with all private car transfers and breakfast.

The tour departs Australia on September 29 this year with the all-balcony-suite Seven Seas Mariner sailing from Kyoto on October 3 for Nagasaki, Inchon for Seoul, Tianjin for the complimentary Beijing tour, Dalian, Shanghai (two nights aboard ship,) Hong Kong for two nights aboard ship, Hong Gai (overnight,) Chan May for Hue, Ho Chi Minh City (overnight,) Ko Samui, the overnight Bangkok experience, and Singapore.

Prices start from $25,165pp twin-share from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth (from $25,255 ex-Adelaide,) including all onboard dining, complimentary beverages and onboard gratuities; a complimentary US$200 or US$100 onboard spending credit is also included depending on suite 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.

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