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Friday, December 2, 2016

Is this really Australia's best beach?

Australia’s best beach… that you’ve never heard of

Cossies Beach, located on the Cocos Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean, has been named Australia’s best beach by beach expert and Tourism Australia Aquatic and Coastal Ambassador, Brad Farmer.

Cossies Beach on Direction Island offers visitors an experience like no other with white sand, turquoise water, spectacular sea life, ferry rides often accompanied by dolphins and a wifi hotspot so you can share your experience with the world.

“We are one of Australia’s best-kept secrets – paradise defined: safe swimming, crystal clear warm water, abundant marine life, friendly locals, picture postcard scenery everywhere you turn,” Cocos Keeling Islands Tourism Association Marketing Manager, Rik Soderlund, said.

“We would go so far as to say Cossies Beach is not just the best in Australia, but the world!” Mr Soderlund said. “We have limited visitor capacity, so you’ll never be crowded like on Bondi Beach and you can enjoy a really unique experience whether you’re relaxing or taking part in one of the huge range of activities we offer.”

Mr Farmer and his colleague, Professor Andy Short, published their benchmark guide to Australia’s best beaches in 2012 and have spent the past five months compiling the latest Australia’s Best Beaches 2017.

Prior to Mr Farmer’s visit, the beach did not have a name and was referred to as Direction Island, or DI to the locals. Mr Farmer named the small strip of pristine coast after Australia’s 26th Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, who like Mr Farmer was taken with the area’s spectacular beauty on a visit to commemorate the centenary of the Sydney-Emden naval battle in 2014.

Mr Farmer and Professor Short assessed a raft of independent and scientific criteria to describe Cossies “as near to perfect as a beach can be”. It also happens to be Australia’s most remote beach.

The Cocos Keeling Islands are made up of two atolls and 27 coral islands, of which only two are populated. Of these, West Island and Home Island, are inhabited with a population around 600. You can reach the destination via a four-and-a-half-hour flight from Perth.

Visitors to the Cocos Keeling Islands can participate in a wide range of activities including kite surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, fishing and birdwatching. Or, of course, just relaxing on Australia’s best beach.

“We have so much to offer and many people don’t know that we exist or that we are even part of Australia. Now the secret’s out, we’re looking forward to sharing paradise with new visitors,” Mr Soderlund said.


Offering spectacular snorkeling, world-class diving, excellent fishing and the adrenalin-rush of kitesurfing, the Cocos Keeling Islands are also a deeply tranquil holiday location. Relax on empty beaches, visit uninhabited islands by canoe, watch spectacular birdlife or catch the ferry to Home Island and discover the culture and traditions of the Cocos Malay people.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Harry Potter fans can tour the studio and experience his magical world of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'

The time has come for a new era of magic to begin with the upcoming theatrical release of the Harry Potter prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Based on JK Rowling's 2001 book and first mentioned in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, this story purports to be a copy of Harry Potter's textbook. Unlike the rest of the Harry Potter series, the action takes place around the secret community of witches and wizards in 1926 New York City.

To celebrate the release of this new magical world and to encourage enchanted exploring of your own,, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, is presenting a list of five fantastic themed properties and where to find them.

The Grove, Chandeler's Cross, UK

All of the films in the Harry Potter series, including the most recent film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, have been filmed at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire, England. The studio now hosts The Making of Harry Potter studio tour which offers guests the opportunity to relive the magic through the eyes of the filmmakers who brought the Harry Potter franchise to life. After uncovering the magic of the studio tour, fans can stay at The Grove, a 5-star hotel only a philosopher's stone's throw away from the Harry Potter studio tour. Guests can enjoy its elegant and spacious rooms, 300-acres of magical parkland, luxurious spa, 18-hole golf course and two swimming pools.

Another major filming location for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was Liverpool, England, where the city was transformed into 1920s New York City. Embrace the magic this location has to offer by staying at the BridgetStreet Apartments at Liverpool ONE. It offers impressive views of the Liverpool city center and modern interiors from a fully furnished kitchen to elegant bathrooms. Not to mention, it's only a 5-mintue walk to the center of Liverpool, including the infamous St. George's Hall, so apparition spells and other methods of magical transportation can be left at home. 

For muggles and No-Majs who have ever wondered what it would be like to sleep like a wizard, the Wizard Chamber at the Georgian House Hotel in the centre of London can transport guests to a world full of magic and marvel. Concealed behind a bookcase door, curious guests will enjoy venturing to the Wizard Chamber of this 19th century hotel. Created to conjure a mysterious and gothic feel, each room features faux castle details such as stained glass windows, stone walls, archways, trunks, cauldrons, four-poster beds hung with velvet curtains and an abundance of other curious artefacts. Wood burning stoves, cauldrons in fireplaces and tapestries complete the look.

The St. Regis, New York City, New York, USA

Filming for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them may not have taken place in New York City, but the movie still captures the charm and hustle of America during the 1920s. The St. Regis is one of the most distinctive 1920s building in the heart of New York City which also captures that very same charm and hustle, but with modern amenities. Guest rooms provide flat-screen TVs, seating areas with sofas and desks with minibars and refrigerators. The ideally situated 5-star hotel only a short walk from other classic New York City landmarks including the Museum of Modern Art, Carnegie Hall, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station and the Empire State Building.

The Chatwal, New York City, New York, USA

Guests won't find any fantastic beasts at this sophisticated New York City landmark that evokes the glamorous 1920s. But they will find that their every demand is met with luxurious rooms, each serviced with personal butler service, a 42-inch flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi and 400-thread-count linens and down duvets - no magic wands necessary! Guests of The Chatwal are also invited to step back in time at the bar that serves classic cocktails of the roaring 20s. Who knows, maybe magizoologist Newt Scamander himself will join for a bee's knees cocktail while taking a break from his quest to research and rescue magical creatures.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Now is a great time to visit Egypt


A land of ancient monuments, mysterious legends and a charisma that never fails to excite visitors, Egypt has long been a stalwart of many travellers’ bucket lists. In recent years, however, political upheaval and potential customer concerns have seen a marked decline in the numbers of people travelling to the country.

Travel professional, Michael McCall, says there are at least seven good reasons why he believes that now is the perfect time to visit Egypt.

The Weather

While Egypt enjoys the sun pretty much year-round, according to Michael it’s from September onwards that the stifling heat of summer begins to give way to more comfortable temperatures. “With the sun still shining and just 1 – 5mm of rain per month, visitors to Egypt can pretty much guarantee blue skies and perfect sailing conditions, making it a great option for a Xmas getaway.”

The Crowds

“Or should we say lack thereof,” says Michael. “Visitors to Egypt can currently enjoy all of the major landmarks almost completely free of tourists. In fact, some previously restricted archaeological areas have been opened to sightseers in the hope of heightening their appeal.”

The Little Things

With fewer visitors filling the streets and waterways of Egypt, Michael notes that guests are much freer to experience local life in far more intimate detail. “From fishermen practicing their trade, to market traders selling their exotic goods, there is a huge amount to see, and even more to learn.”

The People

Egyptians are well known for their first-class hospitality, but Michael notes that today visitors are likely to be greeted with praise and thanks like never before. “Expect to be treated like a pop star wherever you go and to leave with a new-found love of warmth and character of modern Egypt.”

The Tourist Sites are secure

“The Egyptian government has taken significant steps to up security around tourism hotspots in recent months,” says Michael. “This means that there is a reassuring security presence at Luxor, Aswan and other areas of interest, alleviating any fears travellers may have.”

Helping the Economy

Something often forgotten in any discussion about Egypt is the fact that its economy was long been built on the success of a once thriving tourist industry. For Michael, a great ancillary benefit for those who dares to take the plunge and visit the country is a much-needed opportunity chance to help reduce unemployment and inject life to local businesses.

It's Accessible.

With affordable flights from Australia daily with a range of airlines including Emirates and Qantas, Egypt is an easily accessible holiday destination for Australians.

Sanctuary Retreats’ Nile River Cruises offer the chance to explore Egypt’s ancient past in the utmost luxury. Cruising between Aswan and Luxor, guests visit all the major sites including the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, the Temple of Karnak and the Island of Agilika.

With a choice of four vessels on offer – Sanctuary Sun Boat III, Sanctuary Sun Boat IV, the Sanctuary Nile Adventurer and bespoke dahabiya, Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau, prices start from US$870 per person twin share for a 3-night cruise aboard the Sanctuary Sun Boat IV.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What's New in Helsinki: Hotels, Bars, Restaurants, more

#VisitHelsinki #MyHelsinki

The new breed of food actors really deserves a round of applause. Helsinki has several Michelin starred restaurants and many local chefs, baristas, food producers and café owners have become recognized celebrities. Check out our food brochure Food Helsinki? HEL YEAH! and the newest top restaurants in town listed below.

. Baskeri & Basso’s ingredient driven cuisine is daring in its outrageous simplicity.
. Bystro’s hot blini pans have steamed the windows, and the incredible tastes of Slavic kitchen to-
gether with an edgy vodka bar welcome you to Russia in the middle of Helsinki city centre.
. Finnjävel uses Finnish cooking methods from the years gone by and freshest ingredients. They have
delved into the past in order to create the future of Finnish cuisine.
. Grön is a new restaurant that wants to show respect to creativity, nature and to all of us by offering excellent food made of locally produced ingredients.
. Holiday Bar, kitchen & terrace by your holiday guides Richard McCormick & Ville Relander.
. KOM, a renewed theatre restaurant opened in September by Antto Melasniemi and Heikki Purho-
nen. Antto is also making a gin with Klaus Haapaniemi, the designer, called Tenu.
. Roster is the latest restaurant of Kari Aihinen specielicied in roasting.
. Shelter located in an old warehouse at Katajanokka harbor gives shelter to friends of good food and
drink. The owners believe in crafting, genuine customer service and working together.
. Vinkkeli is founded by three passionate experts, sharing more than ten years’ history at Helsinki’s
legendary restaurants.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Seven Tasmanian spots best accessed (or only accessed) by boat/cruise

Tasmania is an explorers’ paradise with nearly 37% of the island designated as reserves, National Parks, and World Heritage Sites, and with a total coastline length 4,882kms many of Tasmania’s top spots are to be found nestled on the coastline and best (or only!) accessed by boat.

There is no better way than to explore the Tassie coastline than on a small, nifty and comfortable cruise ship, like the Coral Expeditions 1, complete with an excursion vessel. This allows you to dart in and explore magical coves when no one is around, take in the many panoramic rock formations, get up close and personal with marine life and get unique vantage points at iconic locations.

With Coral Expeditions you can also enjoy an Open Bridge policy so you can get a captain eye’s view of the island as well as on aboard Marine biologist to help you get to know the marine life better.

Wineglass Bay

Freycinet National Park, on the East Coast, is home to the iconic Wineglass Bay, which is a haven of white sand, turquoise waters and dramatic bushland. Wineglass Bay is accessible by foot but arriving by boat means you skip the parking circus, often busy trails and see this stunning location from a different vista. You can also get this paradise to yourself as the Coral Expeditions 1 will arrive at the bay when no one else is around. You will also be given an opportunity to do a morning hike up to the lookout and take some ‘people free’ snaps.

Maria Island

Maria Island on the South East coast, offers historic ruins, sweeping bays, rugged cliffs and mountains and incredible wildlife. It is only accessed by boat but instead of taking the ferry and exploring the island by foot, take in the full effect of the dramatic coastline, stop off at the more remote bays and enjoy a unique panorama of the famed fossil cliffs on-board your cruise ship. The Coral Expeditions 1 will also take you to shore on so can walk the convict trail and spot the elusive Tasmania devil. You won’t be restricted by ferry times so can enjoy the island at your own pace.

Bruny Island

Bruny Island, the land of cheese and oysters, is situated to the south of Hobart and is only accessible by boat. Bruny Island is blessed with marine life and is home to a large population of Australian fur seals which are best viewed from the ocean in a ‘who’s watching who’ scenario. A trip to Bruny island is not complete without some food and wine but with Coral Expeditions you can work it off with a swim and kayak in Adventure Bay before you cruise back to the sip, where you will be treated to a Tasmania sunset as you anchor for the night.

Tasman National Park

Tasman National Park, off the East Coast and adjacent to Port Arthur, is known for its monumental rock formations and rugged cliffs which are best seen by boat, where the crashing waves and abundant sea life add an extra dimension to your experience. The park is teeming with marine life which include penguins, dolphins, migrating whales and seals which you can track and learn about with the Coral Expeditions resident marine biologist. The ship will give you the ability to follow these magnificent animals wherever they go so you can be assured of some incredible sightings.

Recherche Bay

Recherche Bay is located on the extreme south-eastern corner of Tasmania and has gained notoriety in recent years as the first meeting place between Bruni D’Entrecasteaux and the original habitants – the Lylequonny. What better way to reach Recherche Bay than by the same way Bruni did, following in his footsteps right until you set foot on the beach at Cockle Creek. Cruising this coastline on the Coral Expeditions 1 also means you get to enjoy the many inlets, islands and natural beauty of this picturesque section of the South Coast.

Port Davey

The wilderness surrounding Port Davey is thought to be one of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet and is known to have the cleanest air on earth. It is only accessible by boat, plane or 7-day trek but this pristine tapestry of gorges, waterfalls, rivers and mountains is best explored by water. With wild weather to match, cruising on the Coral Expeditions 1 is the way to go so you can acclimatise to the temperamental conditions in comfort and jump on the excursion vessel to dart into little bays or take a sea kayak when the sun is on your side.

Fortescue Bay & Canoe Bay

Tucked away in the Tasman National Park and only accessible by foot or boat is Canoe Bay, home to the shipwreck of a Dutch Trading Vessel called Andre Reboncas. Cruising into the bay gives you the chance to see the shipwreck up close and means you can nip over to the nearby picturesque Canoe Bay. You will also be able to enjoy panoramic views of Waterfall Bay and the pods of dolphins that often populate this area.

Sydney Hobart on Sydney to race

Cruising Tasmania is all about exploring a pristine and secluded wilderness but during the Sydney to Hobart race this isolated island becomes a haven of white sails as the yachts race to Hobart. However, if you’re on board a cruise ship such as the Coral Expeditions 1, this man made phenomenon is a sight to behold and lends itself best to aquatic arm chair viewing.

Coral Expeditions runs a 7-night cruise from Hobart annually throughout November to February. To find out more information about this active adventure, on board the Coral Expeditions 1, which showcases the wild beauty and remarkable heritage of Tasmania please visit:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ancient Voices, Modern Travels: Aboriginal Tourism in BC

From the Haida and Tsimshian of the North Coast to the Nuu-chah-nulth of Vancouver Island and the Stó:lō, Secwepemc, Okanagan and Ktunaxa people inland, British Columbia is home to Canada’s most diverse composition of First Nations bands, languages and societies.

British Columbia also boasts some of the longest inhabited regions in the world. The area around Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, for example, has revealed evidence of 12,000 years of human settlement.

Each of BC’s First Nations has its own language, traditions and history, and most are currently experiencing a cultural renaissance. At the same time, BC's many Aboriginal cultures are increasingly accessible to visitors, with growth in everything from Aboriginal-owned art galleries and cultural centres, to First Nations-operated wilderness treks, wildlife viewing tours and cultural experiences. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Botswana Rising

Remote, yes. Home to the fictional Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency, yes. And thanks to a low volume tourism policy, Botswana remains blissfully unspoiled.

And yet, it is a country whose star is clearly on the ascendancy. Anointed by Lonely Planet as one of the ‘Hot Destinations for 2016’, its popularity as a safari destination continues to grow. This month also marks its 50th year of independence, with the landlocked African nation hitting the big screen with the launch of high-profile film, A United Kingdom, starring Rosamund Pike, David Oyelowo, Tom Felton and Laura Carmichael, which tells the story of Botswanan prince Seretse Khama, who later became Botswana’s first democratically elected president.

So what makes Botswana so special? Well for start, it’s hard to go past beautiful landscapes and the quality and abundance of wildlife. Then there’s its rare combination of desert and delta. The Kalahari Desert makes up more than 80% of this landlocked country, and the vast sponge into which the swollen Okavango River disappears each year creates the largest inland delta in the world – the Okavango Delta. And in the northwest of Botswana, lies Chobe National Park, home to the largest population of elephants in the world.

Over 17% of the country is dedicated to national parks, and in 2014 the Okavango Delta became UNESCO's 1,000th World Heritage Site. That means a Botswana safari offers up varied safari holiday across a broad expanse of savanna, desert, saltpan and wetland in one of the most pristine wildlife destinations in Africa.

In what is also one of the most sparsely populated countries in southern Africa, a safari here is an intimate experience where close-up game viewing is the norm and boutique safari camps the ultimate home-away-from-home. There is a multitude of ways to acquaint yourself with the wildlife - on a gently poled mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe) trip through the waterways, by open 4WD vehicle, from the air and on foot – you won’t be disappointed.
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