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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wild Way To Start Queen Mary 2 Cruise To Sydney



TWO totally contrasting dream-for holidays have been brought together by ecruising.travel into one magical 28-night escape in January and February next year – an African safari into the legendary Masai Mara, and a 5-star cruise from Cape Town to Sydney aboard the grand Queen Mary 2.

With pre- and post-safari stop-overs, the entire package embraces international air from mainland capitals to Africa and internal air there, a complimentary 2-night stop-over in Singapore, 2-nights in Nairobi that includes a flight over the Great Rift Valley, a 5-night Masai Mara Safari, 2-nights in Cape Town with a Table Mountain, City and Winelands Tour and with lunch included, and 17-nights aboard QM2 to Mauritius, Fremantle, Adelaide and Sydney with onboard meals and nightly entertainment.

The 5-night Safari includes game drives through Kenya’s finest wildlife reserve with an English-speaking driver/guide, a visit to a traditional village, and a hot air balloon safari and Champagne breakfast.

All transfers, Masai Mara Conservation area and other entry fees, port charges, government and air taxes are also included in the price that starts from $10,199pp twin-share with a January 25 2011 departure.

For a detailed itinerary phone 1300 369 848 or visit www.ecruising.travel

ADDITIONAL ITINERARY AND QM2 INFORMATION: Pre- and post-safari accommodation is at the Fairmont Hotel in Singapore including a late check-out, the Fairmont Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi and the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.

The Masai Mara is one of Africa’s best game reserves with all Big Five* to be seen as well as scores of other animals, and 450 species of birds; accommodation is at the Fairmont Masai Mara Safari Club. (*Lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and cape buffalo.)

Queen Mary 2 offers a cache of luxuries including one of the highest passenger/space ratios at sea, ten restaurants, thirteen bars and lounges, theatres featuring classical plays and West End style shows, designer shops including Hermes and Chopard, college-level seminars and two decks of sporting facilities.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A MELBOURNE ADVENTURE OF GASTRONOMICAL PROPORTIONS

THIS WEEK'S HOTTEST DEAL FROM BLUE HOLIDAYS

DAY TRIP TO MELBOURNE FOR LUNCH  

Virgin Blue is teaming up with Blue Holidays and Tourism Victoria during the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival to offer a day of epicurean exploration in Australia's capital of taste. Each year Melbourne Food and Wine Festival reaches into the laneways, bars and restaurants of Australia's "foodiest" city – and spills out into Victoria's regions – to bring food lovers a two week program of over 250 delicious events. 

Luciano Pavarotti once said, "One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." 

To celebrate Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Blue Holidays, the holiday program of Virgin Blue, and Tourism Victoria are serving up an incredible day trip for a lavish lunch date in Melbourne. 

Guests will fly Virgin Blue from Sydney to Melbourne for the day for an exclusive lunch at The Press Club Restaurant where their taste buds will embark on a delicious journey through a three-course menu designed by culinary maestro George Calombaris. 

The treats don't end with dessert either as they will be joined at The Press Club by Masterchef judge Matt Preston and then spend the afternoon enjoying one of the festival's highlight events - Theatre of Ideas. They will also catch up with all the latest trends in the world of gastronomy and be given rare tantalising insight into two of the world's most controversial chefs: Andoni Luis Aduriz and Massimo Bottura.  

When - Sunday 21 March 2010 

What's included - For $250.00* per person, return airfares from Sydney to Melbourne with Virgin Blue, luxury return airport transfers, three course lunch at The Press Club and a session with Matt Preston at the Theatre of Ideas as part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival 

Your itinerary
  • Transfer from Melbourne airport to Federation Square
  • Free time to hunt down a few tasty bargains in Melbourne
  • Wine, ouzo and a three course lunch
  • Meet Matt Preston at the Theatre of Ideas one of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival's highlight events
  • Catch up on the latest thinking in the world of gastronomy and gain rare insight into two of the world's most controversial chefs: Andoni Luis Aduriz and Massimo Bottura
  • Depart Federation Square for the airport
Bookings can be made via Blue Holidays on 13 15 16.

DISCLAIMER:

*Departing Sydney. Prices per person and is correct as at 28 January 2010. Seats are limited and may not be available at peak times or on all flights. Offer on sale 28-30 January 2010, or until sold out, for travel 21 March 2010. During some periods air and hotel pricing may not be available and surcharges may apply. Prices are subject to availability and are not guaranteed until the booking is completed and confirmed. Full payment is required at the time of booking and cancellation or amendment fees apply. Pricing is based on booking by phone. A credit card service fee is included in the total package price. Prices based on direct route, including taxes, levies and other government charges which may vary and are subject to change. Price includes no baggage allowance, advise if baggage is required as charges apply. Further conditions may apply.

Bamurru Re-opens for the Wet Season – and the Barramundi


WILD BUSH LUXURY

Bamurru Plains will re-open on February 1 for the 2010 season, when the spectacular Top End wet season brings the floodplains to life and the wily Barramundi are just waiting for a bait.  Wet season specials include Pay Three, Stay Four-night packages.

As the waters return after the dry season, the Mary River floodplains explode into life: breeding season starts for millions of magpie geese, brolgas and other birds, as well as mammals such as wallabies and wallaroos, and reptiles. And as the waters start to subside, the 'run-off' season is the best time of year to hook one of the world's most prized game fish, the mighty Barramundi.

Bamurru's wild bush luxury camp sits at the edge of the floodplain, with spectacular views of the floodplains and wildlife from each of the nine safari suites.

In contrast to most fishing 'camps', Bamurru is partner-friendly. While the avid fishermen (or women) are courting Barra, partners can relax by the pool or in the comfortable lounge, or take guided walking and 4WD safaris to see the extraordinary landscape and prolific wildlife on this working buffalo station, located to the east of Kakadu National Park.

Anglers (and partners) have the opportunity – unique in Australia – to explore the wetlands by airboat: skimming across vast carpets of water lilies and through flooded melaleuca forests, or hooking into a metre-plus Barra are unforgettable experiences.

The focus of a stay at Bamurru is on the surrounding environment: it's an immersive experience in the Top End wilderness. Each safari suite is designed to blend with the surrounding bush, with the creature comforts of a supremely comfortable bed and fine linen. Innovative and wholesome meals are prepared by Bamurru's chefs, drawing on local produce – including freshly-caught Barramundi!

Bamurru Plains is offering two Wet Season special packages. Guests can stay for four nights, and pay for three; or stay three nights and receive a complimentary scenic flight over the waterfalls of Kakadu National Park. The packages cost $2790 per person, twin share, including all meals, beverages and scheduled activities. Return air transfers from Darwin (25 minutes) can be arranged.

For further information, call 1300 790 561 or visit www.bamurruplains.com or www.wildbushluxury.com.

Australian arrivals to Japan continue to increase

Australian arrivals to Japan during November and December 2009 have increased 20.7 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively, on 2008 figures, according to a preliminary report released by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).

Total Australian arrivals for the month of November 2009 numbered 17,300 compared with 14,334 in November 2008, and for the month of December 2009 were 24,200 compared with 22,114 in December 2008.

Total Australian arrivals for the January to December 2009 period reached only 211,600 – a decrease of 12.6 percent on 2008 figures: though, a good result considering 2009's economic climate, according to the JNTO Sydney office.     

Australia has retained its position as the sixth major Japan inbound market for the third year running, with its position currently ahead of the UK, Thailand, Canada and Singapore and behind South Korea, Taiwan, China, USA and Hong Kong.

The JNTO report said a number of factors, including the steady appreciation of the Australian dollar against the yen, an increase in online media promotions targeting the Australian market, and the Visit Japan Year 2010 Campaign marketing effort which was launched in late November 2009, are seen to have contributed to the increase in Australians travelling to Japan.

Furthermore, with Japan's ski season now in full swing and the popular cherry blossom season following in early spring, JNTO is optimistic that Australian arrivals will continue to increase.

The figures released by JNTO are based on arrivals of Australian passport holders and include business, leisure and stopover visitors.

Visit Japan Year 2010 Campaign web             www.jnto.org.au/2010

 

New Swiss scenic rail package


Rail Plus releases new 5-day scenic Swiss rail package

"Top of Europe and Ticino" is new Swiss rail package

Take in Switzerland's stunning alpine scenery in a new five-day Top of Europe and Ticino rail package released by Rail Plus.

The trip starts in Interlaken or Grindelwald in central Switzerland and includes an excursion to Jungfraujoch (3453m above sea level), a ride on the new scenic train Lotschberger from Spiez to Brig, and a journey on the Centovalli Railway through romantic landscapes. The trip finishes at Lugano, in the southern region of Ticino.

The package includes hotels and breakfasts (two nights in either Interlaken or Grindelwald and two nights in Lugano), the rail journeys and transfers to and from any airport or Swiss Border.

Prices are $800 per adult twin share for travelling Second Class and staying in three-star hotels or $870 for First Class while the four-star hotel option is $1000 and $1069 respectively.

Child fares are from $342 (three-star hotels) and $477 (four-star hotels).

Additional nights are available.

The package operates all year but there is a $100 per person supplement for the winter season until April 10.

Prices do not include seat reservations (about $30 per sector) or a $38 booking fee.

Contact: www.railplus.com.au

American Express and Webjet join forces to shake up the loyalty market and open the skies to travellers

Webjet and American Express join forces to intensify competition in the loyalty landscape and make travel more affordable for consumers.    

From the 2nd February, American Express Cardmembers enrolled in Membership Rewards will be able to use their points to book flights online, accessing the full flight inventory available on Webjet - Australia's leading online travel agency1.  This gives travellers the opportunity to search, compare and select competitive travel offers across airlines.  

Travellers don't have to accumulate the full amount of points to pay for their travel booking on Webjet.  As long as they have 7,500 points, which equates to $75, they can pay the remainder with their American Express Card.  

Webjet CEO, Richard Noon says, "This is the first time that points have been offered as a form of currency on Webjet.  Our partnership with American Express succeeds in removing the frustrations commonly associated with other loyalty travel programs such as limited availability, long lead times for bookings or having to pay fees for redeeming a reward.

"Now, for instance, a traveller flying from Sydney to Melbourne return doesn't have to be locked into one airline's loyalty program and to the rates it charges.  Instead using Webjet they can use their points on Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Blue or Tiger Airways or even mix and match airlines using fewer points.  

Using Webjet, a traveller can clearly see what the best fare is and can select any available seat.  This is a huge win for consumers and we're delighted to be part of it."

Corrina Davison, American Express Vice President of Brand, Loyalty and Rewards says, "This partnership is a world first for American Express.  We're thrilled to be working with Webjet to create some healthy competition in the market and to make it easier and more affordable for people to fly.  Our research tells us that customers want to be able to use their points to travel where they want, when they want, without restriction.  Now they can use their points to see the world with more than 30 airlines via Webjet."

Analysis by Hitwise reveals that between 12 September 2009 and 16 January 2010, Webjet recorded the highest number of visits based on Australian usage when compared to other popular Australian travel websites.
  

Wine and cheese trail lets the gouda times roll at Peppers


LET THE GOUDA TIMES ROLL WITH PEPPERS THIS AUTUMN

Intimate relaxation and the regaled gourmet delights of the Hunter Valley go hand in hand on this special Cheese and Wine Trail escape to Peppers Guest House this autumn.

Nestled in the heart of the Hunter Valley wine country and surrounded by beautiful gardens and vineyards, Peppers Guest House is one of the Hunter's best loved retreats where comfortable, elegant accommodation is matched with a reputation for exceptional food and wine experiences.

Visitors can  taste the best of the destination,  and let the gouda times roll,  with two-night Cheese and Wine Trail packages available from $550* per room double/twin share midweek or $750* per room double/twin share on weekends including:

• Two night's accommodation in a delightfully furbished Vintage or Classic Room
• Full country breakfast
• Bonus complimentary Hunter Valley Cheese and Wine Trail kit valued at over $50 including gourmet cheese picnic hamper for two, a bottle of Hunter Valley wine and a wine trail exploration map.

Featuring 48 guest rooms including a four-bedroom homestead, Peppers Guest House offers the ideal getaway from the stresses of everyday life, an easy two hour drive north of Sydney on the F3 highway.

The retreat provides the ideal environment for guests to do as much or as little as they please, with onsite facilities including the acclaimed Chez Pok restaurant, indulgent endota retreat spa, tennis court and indoor pool and spa all set on 20 hectares of delightful country gardens.

The many delights of the Hunter Valley are also but moments away including winery tours, hot air ballooning, cheese tasting, golf, horse and camel riding, carriage rides, sky diving and 4WD adventures to name but a few.

For reservations or further  information please contact Peppers Guest House on (02) 4993 8999, email guesthouse@peppers.com.au or visit www.peppers.com.au

* Conditions apply. Not valid public holidays and subject to booking availability.  Valid March 01 to May 31, 2010.

NEW ZEALANDS HUKA LODGE RECEIVES COVETED TATLER AWARD


At a gala awards dinner attended by leading travel editors, writers and hospitality leaders held at The Ritz Hotel in London, Huka Lodge was honored as the recipient of the Tatler Enduring Excellence Award for 2010.

This highly-regarded and prestigious international award honors Huka Lodge, New Zealand, for its outstanding consistency in maintaining the highest standards of excellence for the last 25 years.

On hand to personally receive this recognition was the owner of Huka Lodge Alex van Heeren. In a memo sent to all the Huka Lodge staff on his return to his hotel room after the event he stated "This award is for you all, for your unflagging efforts to ensure we maintain the highest levels of consistency and excellence in everything we do, every single day."  He then went on to personally thank his staff and further acknowledge their contribution.

Alex van Heeren purchased Huka Lodge in 1984 and with his renowned energy and passion shaped it into the internationally recognized exclusive retreat it is today. Huka Lodge has been and continues to be ranked amongst the best in the world and the Tatler Enduring Excellence Award 2010 certainly bears testament to this.

Huka Lodge is a sister property to Dolphin Island, Fiji and Grande Provence Estate in South Africa.  All three properties comprise The Huka Retreats, all sharing an unrivalled commitment to providing an extraordinary hospitality experience for guests within global locations of great unspoiled beauty.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Vanuatu's Pentecost Land Diving Festival Extended

Vanuatu's world famous Pentecost Naghol land diving ritual which has typically only been performed on Saturdays between April and June will now also be held on Wednesdays and Fridays during this period.

Annie Niatu, general manager of the Vanuatu Tourism Office, welcomes the move by the Southern Pentecost Tourism Association, saying it is an important step to boost tourism to Pentecost.

"The Pentecost land diving ritual can only be held from April to June and people come from all over the world to see it.  These extra days will allow a few more fortunate visitors to witness the ritual," Annie said.

"With 83 islands, Vanuatu is one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. There are a number of fascinating cultural festivals and events throughout the islands and the tourism office aims to make these experiences more accessible for tourists."

As part of the development, Pentecost received a new airport in June 2009 and Air Vanuatu purchased a new ATR 72 aircraft in December which will increase capacity to Vanuatu's outer islands.

Visiting Pentecost Island is one of Vanuatu's most popular authentic cultural events. Men climb to the top of a manmade tower, which can be between 20 – 30 metres high, and jump from platforms with only a vine attached to their legs to break their fall.

As the men stand on top of the tower, contemplating the jump, they are spurred on by locals who sing, dance and stamp their feet below. When they finally dive from the tower into the ground, the atmosphere is electric.

The ceremony is said to ensure a good yam season but it is also a show of strength by the men. The ancient story tells of a wife climbing to the top of a tree during a fight with her husband. The husband chased her up and when she jumped to the ground he followed. Sadly, she had led him to his death as she had a vine around her legs to break her fall. The men jump every year between April and June to show the women that they will not be tricked again.

To find out more about Vanuatu or tours to the land diving festival contact your local travel agent or visit www.vanuatu.travel


Fly Virgin Atlantic to London from $1749


Air New Zealand reveals new cabin product

 

Source: Travel Daily

Air New Zealand has released details of the cabin product to be installed in its new 777-300ER aircraft, which includes an option of lie-flat economy class seating.

The aircraft will feature the 'Skycouch' - a specially designed row of three seats, engineered to create a "lie-flat, flexible space all the way to the seat back in front, providing a place for the kids to play or the 'holy grail of economy travel' - a flat surface for adults to relax and sleep.

22 sets of Skycouch seats will be available, being the first 11 window rows in the economy cabin, and two adults travelling will be able to buy the Skycouch by paying for two seats at standard prices, and the third seat at around half price.

The planes will also feature an enlarged premium economy cabin and the Business Premier service will be enhanced to offer complete on-demand food and beverage service and an "enhanced sleep experience."

Food on board will be enhanced with new oven technology which allows cooking of food from scratch rather than reheating, and a new electronic in-seat ordering service will also be on offer as part of the upgraded in-flight entertainment system.

The 340-seat aircraft will have 246 economy seats (including the 66 seats comprising 22 Skycouches), 50 in premium economy and 44 in Brusiness Premier, with the planes to debut on selected AKL-LAX services from Dec 2010. Air NZ said it also plans to refit its existing eight 777-200 aircraft, with all Asian, North American and UK services to have the new product by around 2012.

More information in tomorrow's Travel Daily.

Nikko showcases World Heritage in free walking tours

Nikko City - located less than two hours northeast of Tokyo and famous for its World Heritage listed shrines and temples - is offering free walking tours in English every Monday from January 25 through March 29, 2010 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of its World Heritage registration.

Local volunteer guides will conduct the tours, showing visitors the World Heritage listed sites and sacred monuments in the downtown Nikko area.

Starting at the 374 year old World Heritage listed Shinkyo (Sacred Bridge), the tour course includes the statue of Shodo Shonin - the Buddhist monk who brought Buddhism to Nikko in the eighth century - Rinnoji (temple), Toshogu (shrine), Futarasan Jinja (shrine) and Taiyuin (temple). 

The shrines and temples of Nikko are famous across Japan for their elaborate and beautiful architecture, and draw millions of visitors to the city each year.

Rinnoji is Nikko's most important temple having been founded by Shodo Shonin in 766. The temple is home to three large, gold lacquered wooden statues of Buddhist deities.

Toshogu is the mausoleum of famous Edo period shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616), and is a lavishly decorated shrine complex of Buddhist and Shinto buildings located in a beautiful forest.

Futarasan Jinja is dedicated to the Shinto gods of the three most sacred mountains in Nikko. The shrine is said to bring happiness and marriage to those who visit. Legend has it that the shrine's sacred fountain has water that restores youth.

As the tour does not include guiding inside the temples and shrines, visitors are encouraged to purchase a combined shrine and temple entry pass or a Tobu Railway special discount pass.

The tour starts at 11:00am and takes approximately one hour. No reservation is required and participants are asked to assemble at Shinkyo.

Nikko Tourist Association www.nikko-jp.org/english/index.html

Tobu Railway  www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/index.html

Blue Lagoon Cruises to retire MV Nanuya Princess


Boutique island cruise specialist to consolidate cruise program from 01 May 2010

Lautoka, Fiji, 27 January 2010 - Fiji's iconic Blue Lagoon Cruises has announced it will officially retire its MV Nanuya Princess on 01 May 2010 after more than 24 years of service.

Announcing the move Blue Lagoon Cruises' CEO Tim Stonhill said the decision to retire the vessel is part of a bigger picture plan which will also see the boutique cruise specialist consolidate its 'Club' and 'Gold Club' product line to offer just one generic cruise product from May of this year.

As a part of the plan Blue Lagoon Cruises' flag ship MV Fiji Princess will be taking over MV Nanuya Princess's existing three-day/two night and four/day/three-night 'Club' cruises in Fiji's picturesque Yasawa Islands.

Effective 01 May the company will offer the following cruise schedule from its home port of Lautoka on the northern side of the big island of Viti Levu:

A three-day/two-night cruise departing on Saturday at 10.00 am and returning on Monday at 4.00 pm.

A four-day/three-night cruise departing on Tuesday at 3.00 pm and returning on Friday at 12.00 pm.

A seven-day/six-night cruise departing on Monday at 3.00 pm and returning on Sunday at 12.00 pm.

Mr Stonhill said the 36-berth MV Mystique Princess will now operate all seven-day itineraries, including the 'Historical & Cultural Dateline Cruise' scheduled on 16 August.

The 34-berth MV Fiji Princess meanwhile will operate all three and four day itineraries.

"This consolidation represents one of our biggest changes in almost 60 years of service in Fijian waters," Mr Stonhill said.

"But I am confident these changes in our product line and schedule will be beneficial to all."

Mr Stonhill said the retirement of the MV Nanuya Princess after so many years of service was regrettable but the move would assist the company to manage its overall operation more efficiently at it looks to the future.

In its 24 years of service the MV Nanuya Princess has carried close on 85,000 passengers, most of them Australians and New Zealanders, on more than 2,400 cruise departures.

Mr Stonhill said the 48-metre vessel would now be offered for sale.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Labrador tops traveller’s to-do list for 2010


The strikingly beautiful and rugged region of Northern Labrador is now getting the attention it deserves. Last week’s release of the jaw-dropping television commercial featuring Canada’s newest National Park in the Torngat Mountains, and the Canadian Tourism Commission's designation of Labrador as 2010’s hotspot, has already increased bookings to this exotic destination.

The Inuit-homeland and culturally, historically and wildlife-rich region has long been a favourite of Inuit-owned and operated Cruise North Expeditions.

“Everyone who visits this region comes back inspired,” says Jason Annahatak, Cruise North’s Expedition Leader. “I am very happy the secret is out and more people will get to experience Labrador’s breathtaking beauty and culture.”

Cruise North offers the 11-night Journey to the Spirit Mountains cruise starting in St. John’s July 2 and venturing up the coast through Iceberg Alley, into the Torngat Mountains National Park, ending in Kuujjuaq, Quebec. On other Arctic departures, Cruise North offers exclusive 3-night pre and post tours in the Torngats, in partnership with Parks Canada. Activities include polar bear and whale watching, hiking and fishing, and Inuit cultural experiences. Beginning Sept. 15, Cruise North will conduct the first-ever Clean-Up Cruise into Labrador, touring alongside the northern coast picking up debris and waste from abandoned exploration camps, to ensure the region is kept pristine.

About Cruise North Expeditions

Cruise North is an Inuit owned and operated company. We travel exclusively to the Canadian Arctic and Greenland, beginning the season in Labrador and finishing with a tour of the Northwest Passage.

Our ice-class rated 122-passsenger ship, the Lyubov Orlova, provides a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere for Arctic cruising. Each expedition offers exceptional opportunities for wildlife encounters, traditional Inuit village visits, and up-close experiences with the Arctic landscape.

Launched in 2005, we have rapidly established ourselves as the leader in Arctic expeditions, by capturing the true spirit of the North with Inuit ownership and Inuit guiding. We have earned a place on Conde Nast Traveller’s prestigious “Green List” for our environmental efforts and commitment to helping preserve Inuit culture through tourism.

The Australian: Signed on for adventure


It's what lies beneath that enthrals when cruising the islands of Indonesia's West Papua province

ALTHOUGH he is in full possession of his faculties and all of his limbs, Mark Erdmann is about to flush a shark from its hidey hole.

"Watch this," he says, and his rubber fins arc into the sky as he duck-dives and swims to a ledge about 4m down while I hover on the surface. Erdmann's hand disappears into darkness and a mottled, moth-coloured 2m shark darts out and stops on the bottom, about 10m away. It's a wobbegong, a carpet shark: not especially fearsome, certainly not aggressive, but a shark all the same.

Read full story

Sunday, January 24, 2010

ICCA cruise industry award winners



Top cruise achievers shine

More than 350 Australian and New Zealand travel agents and cruise suppliers packed Dockside, Darling Harbour on Saturday night for the 9th Annual Cruise Industry Awards dinner.

The International Cruise Council Australasia recognised 14 outstanding achievements from 2009 for their contribution to the growing Australasian cruise market.

The award winners included:
  • Consumer Promotion of the Year Australia – Cruise Travel Centre, Kotara
  • Consumer Promotion of the Year New Zealand – Mondo Travel
  • Media Award – Stephen Scourfield
  • Rising Star New Zealand – Faith Xin Xin Shen, Midday Travel, Auckland
  • Rising Star Australia – Samantha Griffiths, Champagne Travel, Mandurah WA
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Cruise Industry by an Individual (Neil Frazer Award) – Richard Cranmer
  • Cruise Consultant of the Year Australia (Frank Johnson Award) – Christa Kinnear, Phil Hoffmann Travel, Glenelg SA
  • Cruise Consultant of the Year New Zealand (Frank Johnson Award) – Alison Kearney, House of Travel, Howick
  • Bronze Cruise Agency of the Year New Zealand – Fine Travel Auckland
  • Silver Cruise Agency of the Year New Zealand – House of Travel Remuera
  • Gold Cruise Agency of the Year New Zealand – House of Travel Howick
  • Bronze Cruise Agency of the Year Australia – Ozcruising, Phillip ACT
  • Silver Cruise Agency of the Year Australia – Best Cruises, Leederville WA
  • Gold Cruise Agency of the Year Australia – Phil Hoffmann Travel, Glenelg SA

"To be voted for by the suppliers you are selling is the highest recognition," said ICCA general manager, Brett Jardine

Cruise Weekly, proud sponsors of the Cruise Industry Awards, would like to congratulate all of the winners and finalists for their great accomplishment.

More cruise awards coverage in today's Travel Daily, and Cruise Weekly on Thursday will have all the photos, glitz and glamour of the night.

Singapore counts down to the Year of the Tiger


Chinese communities around the world will be heralding in the Year of the Tiger on February 14, with celebrations no more impressive than those being staged in Singapore.

As the Chinese zodiac sign of courage, the tiger is revered as the symbol which can help ward off the three main disasters which can befall: a fire, theft and ghosts.

To celebrate the return of this fearless and fiery fighter, the Lion City will be staging its biggest Chinese New Year celebrations ever – with Chinatown naturally taking centre stage.

"Singapore is a magical place during Chinese New Year, bringing families, friends and visitors together to engage in the joy, colour, customs and revelry that characterises this very special occasion," said Mr Yee Choong CHOOI – Regional Director Oceania for the STB.

Sure to delight everyone from romantic couples to small children, key highlights for 2010 include:

Nightly Stage Shows

January until 14 February 2010

8pm – 10.30pm

Entertaining and engaging, from January 3 live nightly performances celebrating Chinese culture and tradition - including everything from Chinese opera to magical acts to tea ceremony demonstrations - will take place in Kreta Ayer Square in the heart of Chinatown.

Chinatown New Year Light-Up

January until 7 March 2010

The annual Chinese New Year light-up is a perfect complement to the district's exciting buzz as more than 500 stalls brimming with traditional fare and treats line the key streets of Pagoda, Smith, Sago, Temple and Trengganu Streets. Firework displays will set the night sky aglow and colourful light projections will illuminate building facades with historical footage from 'old Chinatown' New Year celebrations.

Chinatown Chinese New Year Celebrations 2010 Countdown

13 February 2010

Chinese New Year 2010 falls on February 14th. The annual countdown will begin at 9.30pm on February 13th with the party continuing well past midnight as fireworks and firecrackers light up the sky to mark this auspicious time of year.

Chingay Parade Singapore

19 & 20 Feb 2010

Celebrating the Lion City's multi-cultural origins, Singapore's annual street parade will curve its way through the city streets around Marina Bay. Four main performing areas ensure visitors will be able to revel in the action, which will incorporate local and international marching bands, dancers, stunning floats and remarkable street performers.

A favourite on the Singapore calendar since 1973, the Chingay parade commemorates the 'art of costume and masquerade'. Grandstand seats are available from SISTIC (www.sistic.com.sg).

Singapore River Hongbao (SRHB)

12 to 20 Feb 2010

A much-loved feature of the Lion City's Chinese New Year Festivities, the 2010 Singapore River Hongbao promises to be the most extravagant yet. The waterway will be transformed by magnificent large-scale displays of Chinese mythical characters including the Gods of Fortune and the 12 Chinese Zodiac Animals. Both the water itself and the riverbanks will be beautifully decorated, and visitors will enjoy fabulous food stalls, cultural shows, workshops and a daily line-up of traditional and contemporary song and dance performances.

For further information about Chinese New Year festivities in Singapore, log onto www.visitsingapore.com or contact the Singapore Tourism Board on (02) 9290 2888.

JTB helps clean up streets of Tokyo's electric town

JTB HELPS CLEAN UP STREETS OF TOKYO'S ELECTRIC TOWN

January 25, 2010 – JTB Group's JTB Global Marketing & Travel Inc. is seeking volunteers to take part in its annual Clean & Cool Communication @ AKIBA! event - a clean up of the streets of Tokyo's Akihabara electronics district – scheduled for February 15, 2010.

Clean & Cool Communication @ AKIBA! coincides with Japan's Visit Japan Year 2010 Campaign and is open to international residents and visitors.

It is designed to give visitors to Japan and fans of Japanese pop culture a chance to connect with Akihabara on a grassroots level.

Akihabara, called Akiba by locals, has long attracted savvy visitors seeking the latest in technology and deals on consumer electronics. In recent years, the area has gained fame for a different kind of visitor, as the international popularity of Japan's otaku (fan/mania) pop culture has prompted fans worldwide to flock to Akihabara's specialty stores offering anime, manga, and video game merchandise.

JTB Global Marketing & Travel hopes that by working alongside local Japanese residents and workers, event volunteers will gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture through Clean & Cool Communication @ AKIBA!

As a special thank you for their hard work, event volunteers will receive goods and collectibles from the event co-organizers and sponsors.

Participants will also go in the draw to win a day trip for two to Mount Fuji and the hot spring resort of Hakone courtesy of JTB Global Marketing & Travel.

Participation is limited to the first 20 people to sign up by February 8, 2010 online at  www.japanican.com/special/clean_akiba/

STRUTH - Bumped by the Queen


STRUTH !

IN his continuing search for the more weird, whacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that 90-something holidaymakers booked on the boutique 5-star British cruise ship Hebridean Princess in July have been told to take their holiday somewhere else – because the Queen wants the ship for a getaway with the Royal Family.

Hebridean Princess that boasts "outstanding service, fine cuisine, unusually spacious cabins for just 49-guests, and some of the most elegant public rooms afloat," will take the Queen and her family out of Scrabster on Scotland's far north coast for a week's cruise through the country's northern islands, followed by a week down the Scottish west coast.

They'll visit such delightfully-named places as Muckle Flugga, Unst, the Vat of Kirbister, Cape Wrath, Tanera Mor, Rum and the Isle of Muck – with escorted shore excursions for those who want, although we think they'll most-likely pass-up on one to the Castle of Mey: it was the home of the late Queen Mum.

The Queen is reportedly paying around $600,000 for her little family jaunt, and operators of the Hebridean Princess say those other guests whose holidays were cancelled to make way for the royals, "are being generously compensated and offered other dates."

BUY YOUR 'PRETTY WOMAN' THE ULTIMATE VALENTINE'S DAY EXPERIENCE WITH CHIC IN THE CITY AND NOVOTEL


Forget the roses and chocolates - what women love more than anything in the world is the chance to shop a la Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman so the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour and CHIC in the City platinum boutique shopping tours have devised a package that will make every woman's dreams come true this Valentine's Day.

From just $325.50 per person (twin share) you and your Pretty Woman can enjoy overnight accommodation at the Novotel, a three-hour CHIC in the City Fashion walking tour including champagne and your own personal stylist, VIP store discounts, and a two-hour CHIC make-up session, plus full breakfast for two. You can even upgrade to a chauffeured limousine experience or a harbour-view room if you really want to spoil her (from $495.50 per person).

CHIC in the City tours will help uncover Sydney's best-kept shopping secrets and take in some celebrity haunts, visiting famous and little-known designer boutiques, complete with advice for what suits your body type and colouring, as well as tricks to shop smarter.

Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour is a stylish base for your Valentine's Day or other celebrations and the perfect place to flop after you shop, with a prime position in Sydney's favourite playground. Surrounded by shopping, restaurants and bars, the hotel boasts an outdoor pool, gym and restaurant with city skyline views.

The Novotel is also offering a seductive seafood buffet for Valentine's night including an endless selection of succulent oysters, prawns and more as well as decadent desserts and a chocolate fountain, with a live band playing classic love songs and spectacular harbour views.

For bookings phone (02) 9288 7180 or email h1181-re@accor.com

Endangered Turtles Released at Lord Howe Island


In an Australian first, two Loggerhead Turtles have been fitted with satellite trackers at Taronga Zoo and released off the shores of Lord Howe Island, in an attempt to unlock the migration secrets of this endangered marine animal.

After being handed in to the Department of Environment and Conservation, Taronga Wildlife Hospital has been caring for the two young turtles since April last year until they reached a size that would give them the best chance of survival when released into the ocean.

The turtles were flown to Lord Howe Island – 700km northeast of Sydney - courtesy of QantasLink. Representatives of Taronga Zoo and Lord Howe Island Marine Park management released them off-shore from the island on Friday, January 22.

World Heritage-listed Lord Howe Island was chosen as the ideal release site for its location as the most easterly point of Australia (yet only two hours' flight from Sydney), where the Tasman Drift meets the warmer waters of the Eastern Australian current, assisting the turtles on their northerly migration to join their brethren.

The same confluence of currents is responsible for Lord Howe's unique marine ecosystem, and for the island's ranking among the world's best diving destinations. Lord Howe's lagoon and surrounding waters shelter the world's most southerly coral reef, with some 90 species of coral and 500 species of fish, many of which are found nowhere else.

There are seven species of marine turtles in the world; six occur in Australian waters and two – Green and Hawksbill turtles – can readily be seen in the Lord Howe Island lagoon, where they 'hang out' in the channel.

"We often see a dozen or more large turtles within minutes of starting our glass bottom boat tours," said Anthony Riddle, operator of Marine Adventures. Large rays, colourful fish and corals are also easily seen in the crystalline waters of the lagoon, either from the boat or snorkelling. Tours also include guided walks to see the thousands of seabirds that make Lord Howe one of the world's best seabird-watching destinations.

This is the first time Loggerhead Turtles have been tracked in the South Pacific: until now, little was known of the turtles' journey after they leave Australian waters. World-renowned turtle researcher, George Balasz from the National Marine Fisheries Service in Honolulu, donated the satellite trackers and flew to Australia to help Taronga Zoo staff fit them to the turtles ahead of their release.

Via the satellites on their back, the Loggerheads will literally log-in daily, sending data on their location to the Taronga Wildlife Hospital and George Balasz.

"The implications of the research could be huge. Similar studies conducted off foreign shores have played a vital role in protecting various marine species. Main threats to turtles include entanglement in fishing nets and accidental by-catch of long-line fishing, whilst boat strikes are also common," explained Taronga Wildlife Hospital Manager, Libby Hall.

Further information: www.lordhoweisland.info.

Christchurch's new Novotel opens today blending heritage with cutting edge design and art


The new 193-room Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square opens its doors today, offering guests a combination of heritage, cutting edge design, and exceptional local art.

The Novotel is located in the heart of the city on Cathedral Square, and has incorporated the heritage-listed Warner's Hotel, originally built in 1863, into the complex.

As part of the development, the Warner's Hotel was fully restored to its former grandeur, with specialist tradesmen using tools over 100 years old to repair the building's architraves and re-lay tiles in the foyer. 

A new building has been constructed behind the existing hotel, adding 154 rooms to the existing 39 heritage rooms and suites.

General Manager of the Novotel, Zayne Boon, said guests could choose between rooms that had their origins almost 150 years apart.

"It is quite remarkable for a hotel to be able to offer rooms that either date to the mid 19th century or the 21st century, but the Novotel manages to seamlessly provide a taste of the old and new," he said.

"The Warner's Hotel has been a landmark in Christchurch for almost 150 years, but the past two decades weren't kind to the hotel and by the time it was closed to enable the Novotel development it was a shadow of its former self. It has been a difficult assignment to work on both restoring the original hotel while constructing a brand new building, but I believe the hotel now offers the best of both worlds for visitors to Christchurch."

Mr Boon said that the challenge posed to Christchurch-based architect Richard Dalman, of Dalman Architecture Limited, was to offer a first-rate modern hotel while protecting and celebrating the historical value of the iconic Warners Hotel.

"The design features incorporated in the new Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square have been chosen to ensure the contrasts between old and new seem natural, yet appreciated," says Richard Dalman. "Modern décor has been mixed with some historic features to provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere while ensuring the functional requirements of a modern central city hotel are met.

"The blend of modern and heritage, rich and minimal, hard and soft provides for interesting juxtapositions resulting in spaces that celebrate the hotel's place in the city," he says.

Rather than theme the design to any specific historic period, Richard Dalman says they chose to create a stylish interior that focused on the location: on the edge of Cathedral Square in the Garden City.

"Upon entering through the historic portico of the old Warners Hotel, guests immediately feel a link with the past, but also realise they are now in something more than a much loved, yet well-worn pub," says Dalman.

"Polished porcelain floor tiles, complemented by timber veneer walls, textured wallpaper and a feature wall, instantly create the feeling of luxury. Behind the reception area is a wall of curving stainless steel over "carved" flowing panels depicting the Avon River and the braided rivers of the Canterbury Plains," he says.

A feature of the interior design is the use of local artists to ensure the hotel lives up to its identity as a Canterbury icon.

The signature piece is a Neil Dawson "chalice" – a smaller version of his dramatic public sculpture in Cathedral Square. The hotel also features a Jeff Thomson corrugated iron lattice work which sits above the business centre, evoking thoughts of Maori weaving and the street grid system that is very much part of central Christchurch. Two small Stephen Bambury metal cross works also symbolise the grid and the form of Cathedral Square.

A grand sweeping staircase leads up to the first floor bar and restaurant, where the area has been divided into a number of spaces by golden sheer drapes, a curving wine display wall, and pivoting timber fin screens. The restaurant boasts views overlooking Cathedral Square and focuses on local Canterbury produce and South Island wines.

The Square restaurant debuts "personal dining pods", which provide solo diners with a television screen and internet access.

Conferences will be a key focus of the Novotel, with six meeting rooms and a capacity for up to 200 delegates.

Recreation facilities include a start-of-the-art gym.

Rates start from NZ$169 per room per night and can be booked on www.novotel.com or via Accor Reservations and through all travel agents.

Novotel - As the mid-scale hotel brand within the Accor group portfolio, Novotel offers close to 400 hotels and resorts in 60 countries, situated in the centre of major international cities from business districts to tourist destinations. Novotel's consistently high standard of service contributes to the wellbeing of both business and leisure travellers: think spacious, modular-design guestrooms, balanced cuisine available 24/7, excellent meeting facilities, attentive staff, dedicated children's areas and rejuvenating wellness facilities. The Novotel group is a pioneer in sustainable development and all Novotel hotels participate in the Green Globe worldwide environmental certification programme.

More information on Novotel hotels: www.novotel.com.

Accor, the European leader and a major global group 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 its 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 nearly 40 countries benefiting from Accor Services products in employee and public benefits, rewards and loyalty, and expense management.

LANGKAWI’S BEAUTY IS WRONGED BRIDE’S HERITAGE

david ellis

WHEN a spiteful village hag on the Malaysian island of Langkawi maliciously spread the rumour that a beautiful young bride had been unfaithful to her new husband, she knew that if found guilty by the village elders it would mean the death penalty for the young beauty.

And when those elders did ultimately order that the young bride, Mahsuri die by a blade plunged into her back, she beseeched the gods to wreak havoc on her island for seven generations in revenge for her wrongful death.

And wreak havoc they did.

Within day's of Mahsuri's death tidal waves swept away coastal villages and fishing ports, floods drowned crops, torrential rains collapsed mountain sides onto villages and gardens, then drought withered the ground and fishing boats sank unaccountably at their moorings.

And raiding Siamese warriors plundered already depleted villages of their few remaining valuables.

Then miraculously at the end of seven generations the havoc abated, and so that Mahsuri's beauty and her unjust death would be remembered for ever more, the gods transformed Langkawi into Malaysia's most beautiful islands – 99 dots of emerald green hills fringed by golden beaches set in a Hollywood-blue sea, and on which even the roads appear to sparkle.

The Curse of Mahsuri goes back to a time none can put an exact date to, but which historians believe was probably around 1820.

Mahsuri was the most beautiful girl in her village in Langkawi, whose islands lay off the north-west coast of Malaysia, and married a handsome warrior who spent much time away from home on matters of war. It was during one of these absences that a wandering salesman called at Mahsuri's home to sell her some cloth and haberdashery.

The two became friends, Mahsuri delighted by the poetry he would recite on subsequent visits to her village and the traditional songs he would sing.

One night Mahsuri invited him to stay for dinner, with her father as chaperone because of her husband's absence. When Mahsuri announced soon after that she was expecting a child, the jealous hag Mahura spread the rumour that Mahsuri was pregnant to the traveller.

Acting purely on the word of the old woman, the village elders ordered Mahsuri's death – rejecting her father's pleas that he had chaperoned her on the night the traveller had dined with her, and despite her husband proudly proclaiming how their child looked exactly like he.
 
As she was tied to a tree, Mahsuri beseeched of the gods: "If I am guilty of this thing, let red blood flow from my body; if I am innocent, let white blood mark this spot (and) there shall be no peace and prosperity on this island for a period of seven generations."

Several attempts were made to slay Mahsuri, first with a sword and then by knife. Wounded by these failures and to get it over with, Mahsuri begged that her executioners use a razor-sharp family dagger to end her misery.

But as the weapon was successfully plunged into her young body, the assembled villagers fell back in collective shock: white blood flowed into a great pool at Mahsuri's feet proving her innocence. Desperate attempts by the village medicine men failed to revive her, and she died in the arms of her sobbing husband soon after.

Mahura was driven out of the village, but it was too late and within days the gods responded to Mahsuri's beseechment by wreaking their wrath on Langkawi.

Many visitors to Langkawi pay a visit to Mahsuri's Mausoleum at Kampung Mawat about 15km out of the main township of Pekan Kuah; it contains Mahsuri's tomb, an aviary of local birds and peacocks representing peace and beauty, and a traditional house with a small museum.

And visitors are smitten with the beauty that the gods bestowed on the island at the end of their seven generations of havoc... including roads that can sparkle as the sun shines on them.

Is it because rubble from Langkawi's marble mines is mixed with the roadbase, or are those gods still reminding us of the beauty of the ill-fated Mahsuri?

Malaysia Airlines has fourteen flights weekly from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, twelve ex-Sydney, nine Perth, five Brisbane and four ex-Adelaide, with thrice-daily onward connections to Langkawi. Details 132 627 or  www.malaysiaairlines.com

PHOTO CAPTIONS:

[] MAHSURI's Mausoleum outside the town of Pekan Kuah.

[] LANGKAWI's beaches are amongst the most beautiful in Malaysia.

[] ONE of many artist's interpretations of the beautiful Mahsuri.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Out Now: The Design Hotels Book Edition 2010


YELLOW PAGES NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD

Berlin, 22 January 2010 – Design Hotels™ announces the release of its annual publication The Design Hotels™ Book Edition 2010. Featuring a new vibrant yellow hard cover with silver foil embossing and a fold-out poster, the coffee table book showcases 170 member hotels with striking images and in-depth reviews. Focusing on design, along with the emotions and experiences it can create, The Design Hotels™ Book gives a first look at each member hotel's very individual promise.

A Preview of The Design Hotels™ Book Edition 2010

The 424-page publication focuses on the key message "Made by Originals" which captures the essence of what each hotel offers: experiences that can't be duplicated, made possible by people who have stories to tell. To illustrate this message, Design Hotels™ puts the spotlight on selected hoteliers and designers. These interesting characters are featured in up-close and personal profiles which reveal the stories behind their hotels.

Originals presented include Daniele Kihlgren, a renegade hotelier who takes hospitality to new heights in his southern Italian properties Sextantio Albergo Diffuso and Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita. The first is a restoration of an abandoned medieval village in a national park in Abruzzo; the second consists of rooms found in the legendary caves of Matera, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another creative mind featured is design guru Sir Terence Conran, whose Boundary in East London exudes its owner's originality from the furniture to the artworks from his private collection. There is also Mark Edleson, CEO of the Asian Alila Hotels & Resorts. As part of the group's philosophy, Alila properties are designed to be in contact with the local community. Alila's goal is to send guests home with spiritual and emotional memories, not just souvenirs.

The book's other focus is on the member hotels. The properties are grouped into three different categories – signature, offbeat and rare – to help navigate through the types of experiences guests can expect. With in-depth architectural and design reporting as well as detailed portraits of the hotels, guests are assured to find the right hotel for every occasion – whether that's maximum convenience on a business trip, or an out-of-the-ordinary holiday in an out-of-the-way resort.

Where to Buy

The Design Hotels™ Book Edition 2010 is available to buy at www.designhotels.com/shop, member hotels and selected book retailers worldwide.

Retail price: EUR 44,00 | ISBN: 978-3-89955-283-6 | Hardcover, 424 pages, 32 x 23 cm

ABOUT DESIGN HOTELS

Design Hotels™ represents and markets a curated selection of more than 180 independent hotels in over 40 countries across the globe.

More than a collection of hotels, the company is a collection of stories. Each property reflects the ideas of a visionary hotelier, an "Original," someone with a passion for genuine hospitality, cultural authenticity, thought-provoking design and architecture. Each "Original" stands for the individual, aesthetic and service-driven experience that his or her hotel provides.

Founded by Claus Sendlinger in 1993, Design Hotels™ offers its members insightful travel industry knowledge, from feasibility studies and conceptual branding to market trend consultancy and international sales representation. The company has its headquarters in Berlin and branches in London, Barcelona, New York, Singapore, Bali, Tokyo and Perth.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sandals Foundation Haiti Relief Fund



You have heard of the devastation and destruction caused by the recent Earthquakes in Haiti. We have been touched and affected by the scenes witnessed in the media of this tragic event.

Key EC3 Global client and partners in the Caribbean, Sandals Resorts International (based in Jamaica), are extending a much needed helping hand to their Caribbean neighbours. Funds are being raised to support disaster relief efforts through the Sandals Foundation.

All proceeds of the Sandals Foundation Haiti Relief Fund (http://sandalsfoundation.org/newsEvents/Haiti_Relief_Fund.cfm) go directly to charities working on the ground in Haiti.

If you would like to make a donation to this worthy cause and have not yet done so, please consider a contribution through the Sandals Foundation. You can donate online at https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1002452.

Burn The Floor - The International Ballroom Dance Spectacular



Following its six month record breaking season on Broadway, Burn the Floor is opening its 2010 World Tour, with an exclusive 20 performance schedule, at The Palms at Crown from Saturday 20 February until Sunday 7 March.

Burn the Floor became a hit on Broadway in July 2009, breaking box office records at the Longacre Theatre on 48th Street, New York.

The latest “Broadway Edition” of Burn the Floor evolved in the last year, with a makeover from choreographer Jason Gilkison. He continues his quest to reinvent Ballroom Dancing, opening the show with a stunning theatrical twist, five new musical pieces, and the addition of musicians and vocalists to this show.

USA dance stars, from So You Think You Can Dance ANYA GARNIS and PASHA KOVALEV along with ARTEM CHIGVINSTEV join the company for the Palms at Crown dates.

Burn the Floor is a breathtaking blend of Latin and Ballroom dance first conceived as a special performance at Sir Elton John's 50th birthday celebration in 1997. Two years later, the show made its world premiere in the U.K. and quickly took the globe by storm.

From Harlem’s hot nights at The Savoy, where dances such as the Lindy, Foxtrot and Charleston were born, to the Latin Quarter where the Cha-Cha, Rumba and Salsa steamed up the stage, Burn the Floor takes audiences on a journey through the passionate drama of dance. The elegance of the Viennese Waltz, the exuberance of the Jive, the intensity of the Paso Doble - audiences will experience them all, as well as the Tango, Samba, Mambo, Quickstep, and Swing. It’s Ballroom dance with a sexy 21st century edge.

“Hot, hot, hot!” declared New York 1.

The New York Times said “it’s audience-dazzling!”

The New York Daily News gave it four stars and hailed its “four alarm sizzle”.

“a two-hour adrenaline rush featuring some of the best ballroom dancers in the world”. John Simon of Bloomberg.com called it, “dance theatre, utterly theatrical”

“Intoxicatingly Sensuous” Robert Feldberg, The Record.

Event: Burn the Floor
Location: The Palms at Crown
Dates: Saturday 20 February until Sunday 7 March, 2010
Ticket price: Tickets range between $49.00 - $110.00
Ticket sales: Contact Ticketek on 1300 795 012 or visit www.ticketek.com.au

Get Romantic on V-Day with Eight Hotels Australia



You’ve got to spoil someone because baby, it’s Valentine’s Day!

KIRKETON HOTEL - $215 per couple www.kirketon.com.au | 02 9332 2011
- 1 Night accommodation in a Standard Room
- A beautiful bouquet of romantic flowers
- Premium chocolates
- Bottle of sparkling wine

DIAMANT HOTEL SYDNEY - $250 per couple
www.diamant.com.au | 02 9295 8888
- 1 Night accommodation in a Deluxe Room
- Bottle of Champagne
- Two delicious Cupcakes
- 1 Free in house movie of choice

DIAMANT HOTEL CANBERRA - $255 per couple www.diamant.com.au | 02 6175 2222
- 1 Night accommodation in a Deluxe Room
- Bottle of sparkling wine
- A box of Chocolates
- Late check out at 12pm

LIMES HOTEL - $645 per couple www.limeshotel.com.au | 07 3852 9000
- Free upgrade from a Double Room to a Courtyard Room (subject to availability)
- Welcoming long stem red roses delivered to your room
- Deluxe chocolate truffles from Dello Mano
- 1 Bottle of Veuve Clicquot 135+
- Ultimate romantic dinner for 2 at Aria Restaurant

Win a romantic getaway at the Diamant Hotel Sydney!
Enjoy a fabulous Deluxe Room with a bottle of Champagne and a sleep in (late check out included)! To enter, simply answer the following question:

“Which of our hotels would you like to whisk away your special someone to and why?”

Don’t forget to mention your full name and mobile number as we will contact the lucky winner on the 9th of February 2010.

Book direct on www.eighthotels.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lima: City of Kings


Founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, as La Ciudad de los Reyes, or ‘The City of Kings’, Peru’s capital Lima, is an enchanting city which is guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who visits there.

This undeniably cosmopolitan city blends the excitement of a modern bustling metropolis with a strong dash of old world charm.

This blend of ‘old and new’ will be apparent upon walking through the city you will see fourth-century Pre-Columbian ruins which are nestled in the long shadows of office towers, and Spanish Colonial buildings line the historic central square.

La Catedral or the Cathedral is a must see attraction, originally constructed in 1555 this central landmark still stands even after suffering earthquake damages twice in its history.

Lima is the gastronomic capital of the continent, which boasts a range of delectable dining options ranging from suave seaside restaurants to hole-in-the-wall eateries; the city caters to every taste and budget.

The capital’s world renowned cuisine fuses Andean and Spanish culinary traditions, as well as some African, Asian, French, Italian and Muslim cuisine.

The two most famous restaurants in Lima are the Rosa Nautica and the Costa Verde, both located on the sea front and both specialising in fish.

Don't leave the city without trying traditional Lima dishes (criollo), including Ceviche which is raw fish marinated in lemon juice and chilli or the distinctively sweet mazamorra morada (a purple corn pudding).

Lima has an exciting entertainment centre with bars such as San Isidro's havens for the modern elite to Barranco's cheerful and inexpensive stomping grounds.

Weekends from January to March also see the fresh-from-the-beach summer crowds heading down to Kilometer 97 on the Panamericana for the nightlife.

On August 30, the locals celebrate Santa Rosa de Lima, with a giant street procession honouring the patron saint of Lima and the Americas.

El Señor de los Milagros (Lord of the Miracles) is heralded on October 18 by a huge religious procession where locals clad in purple clothing take over the streets in celebration.


In late July, the entire country is turned upside down as Peruvians celebrate Fiestas Patrias (National Independence Days), and Lima is no exception, with lively street parties and dancing.

Tourists who are planning to visit Lima are faced with a task that at best could be described as challenging and that is deciding which time of year to visit the capital city.

From April to early December, a melancholy garúa (coastal fog) blankets the sun in a fine, grey mist. Come December, however, the sun shines through and Limeños (Lima locals) head in droves for the beaches. Warm temperatures (accompanied by high humidity) continue through to March.

The best time to visit is in March and April, when the sun is still shining, or in early to mid-December, before it gets too sticky.

Escape for Valentine's Day


Lake House

Lake House is nestled on the shores of idyllic Lake Daylesford in the heart of Victoria's Spa Country. Noted in Conde Nast Traveller as one of the top hotels in the world, Lake House is heaven for lovers of good living.

A&K exclusive Valentine's Package! Bliss out with an overnight stay in a Waterfront Suite, arrive to a bottle of sparkling wine to sip as the sun sets over the far shore. Wander to the restaurant for a romantic degustation dinner. In the morning, breakfast will be delivered to your room or may be enjoyed in the restaurant. $969 per couple per night, normally $1436.

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa is a luxury conservation-based resort in the Blue Mountains. Gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, non-alcoholic beverages, selected alcoholic beverages with meals and two on-site nature based activities per person per day are included.

Enjoy handmade chocolates and sparkling wine on arrival for your Valentine's weekend away. From $1829 per couple per night or $3113 per couple for two nights including a one hour Timeless Spa treatment per person.

The Old Schoolhouse at Rochford Lodge

Victoria's newest exclusive and unique accommodation for couples - a luxurious suite inside a historic landmark building bursting with character and soul. The former Rochford School House, Circa 1857, bordered by century old Cyprus trees has been lovingly restored as a luxury self contained retreat for just one couple.

Stay two nights and enjoy an additional night with our compliments. From $505 per couple per night.

Terms & Conditions Apply. Contact A&K for further information or to book.

For more ideas, or travel information please contact kathylane@fireworkspr.com.au or visit www.abercrombiekent.com.au

Australia 1300 851 800
New Zealand 0800 441 638
Hong Kong 852 2865 7818

THERE ISN’T A MORE ROMANTIC PLACE ON EARTH THAN HAWAII – THE PERFECT PLACE TO CELEBRATE VALENTINE’S DAY

Hawaii is one of the most romantic places on earth. So any time and every time is the perfect time to consider a Hawaiian vacation, but if you are going to be here for Valentine's Day, there is not a more perfect place to celebrate.

Many people go to Hawaii to celebrate romance. They know that Hawaii is great place to get married, honeymoon or celebrate a wedding anniversary. So if you have any of those cherished events coming up or you're looking for ways to rekindle the flame with a loved one, here are some top ideas for romantic things to do in Hawaii. After all, Hawaii truly exudes romance.

Here is our list of Valentine romantic experiences in Hawaii. Be sure to check them out on Hawaii.com.

Take in a beautiful sunset.
There's really nothing much more romantic than sitting beside each other to watch the sun sink into the ocean. Make watching the sunset even more memorable with a sunset cruise/sail or a picnic at a beach. Some hotels will prepare a picnic basket for you. Alternatively, it's easy to pick up picnic supplies at one of the local grocery stores.

When you live in a landlocked state, sunsets are not normally very dramatic. In Hawaii, you not only watch the sun sink into the ocean, but you also get to enjoy all the hues of the sky just after sunset. The colors of passion, such as pinks, purples, and reds fill the sky.

(If you are on Maui, consider going to the top of Haleakala Mountain to watch a sunrise. There is something very special about watching the sunrise when you are snuggling up to your sweetheart under a blanket.)

Discover the islands from the air.
If you ever watch those "searching for love" reality shows like "The Bachelor," you'll notice at some point in the show the couple will go on a helicopter tour. There's a buzz that you get from seeing a place from a different perspective. Tours are offered on every major island. Do some research online before you book with Hawaii.com.

Indulge in an oceanside couple's massage.
Imagine the bliss of side-by-side massages on a beach while you listen to the waves crash on the shore. Hawaii has some of the top spas in the world. Do your research in advance and book your appointments online so you are not disappointed.

Go stargazing.
Hawaii has very little "light pollution," which allows you to see an amazing star-filled sky. On a moonless night, Hawaii's skies sparkle with an incredible array of stars. To stargaze, you can either find a secluded spot with limited surrounding light or take a guided tour. For details, go to Hawaii.com.

Enjoy the atmosphere: Tiki torches
Everyone knows that the soft glow and flickering flame of a candle creates a romantic atmosphere. Tiki torches do the same, but on a larger scale. Every resort in Hawaii lights tiki torches at sunset. Usually there will be two torches crossed together. This would seem to symbolize two lovers. It's beautiful and just thinking about it right now will make anyone love sick for Hawaii.

Yes, Golf can be romantic

Golfers know how incredibly romantic golf can be. Riding in a cart together, sharing fantastic views and extraordinary golf holes. Men and women who play golf together understand absolutely how intoxicating this can be. There are many extraordinary courses in Hawaii, but Lanai still offers some of the most personal golf experiences with its two courses and two wonderful resorts. Click here.

Experience the summit of Mauna Kea

It's not possible to stand on the summit of Mauna Kea on the Big Island without contemplating life on another planet. It's an otherworldly experience, like none other available in Hawaii. A guided tour of the summit is the safest and most educational way to go. Several companies conduct tours, which can last seven or eight hours. Click here.

Go nightclubbing together on Oahu

Every romantic trip needs some nightlife and Oahu has the most offerings in Chinatown. Whether you're looking for a wine bar or a jazz club, Chinatown's underground venues reward the adventurous bar-hopper. On Hotel Street between Smith and Nuuanu you'll find DJs spinning and live music playing at Next Door, Bar 35, and thirtyninehotel just up the stairs. This cluster of cool brings a splash of New York style to Honolulu.

Nearby on Nuuanu Avenue, martinis are the drink of choice at Indigo restaurant; the martinis are only $4 during happy hour.  Head down Nuuanu towards the water and you'll discover Gordon Biesche Restaurant, which is at Aloha Tower. You can sit at the outside bar,   located at the end of the pier, which is lovely.

Murphy's Bar & Grill, a classic Irish watering hole, located a block from the Honolulu Harbor is a great spot. . To experience the best of Chinatown nightlife, visit during the First Friday art celebration. You'll see why the downtown streets literally buzz with activity on the first Friday of every month. Click here.

Go nightclubbing on Waikiki - Highly recommended are Jimmy Buffett's and Duke's for live music.

Savor an entire island: The Big Island

On an island of such epic scale, you'll find it's the little things that you'll long to relive again and again. A snapshot together by a waterfall along the flourishing Hamakua coast. The sea of stars in the ink-black sky above Mauna Kea. A glass of wine during sunset on the Gold Coast of Kohala. Strolling hand in hand down the black sand beach of Panaluu. The island's amazing assortment of orchids in Hilo. You'll discover an abundance of romantic settings of every scope and size on Hawaii's Big Island. Click here.

Enjoy seclusion

It isn't all that easy to find a private place in Hawaii. But if you cherish seclusion and privacy, then Lanai should be your choice. Through its landscape and legends, Lanai is imbued with romance. Next to Hulopoe Bay is stunning Puu Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock. The legend of Puu Pehe tells of the death of Pehe, the wife of a Lanai warrior. The heartbroken husband buried his wife at the top of Puu Pehe then jumped from the 80-foot summit, unable to shoulder his sorrow.

The solitary mystique of Lanai makes every treasured moment you spend with your loved one just a little more romantic. Here you can stroll on a sandy beach where the only other person you can see is the one walking beside you. The beauty of all the islands lend themselves to a romantic escape, but it's Lanai's seclusion and tranquility that makes it the stuff of waking dreams. Click here.

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Hawaii.com is the Internet's all-inclusive website for travel to, from and around the islands of Hawaii. It offers visitors unmatched ease in booking the perfect dream vacation: from airline tickets to lodging, car rentals to tee times, dining to snorkeling, leis to aloha shirts, anything to everything.  If it's in Hawaii, it's on Hawaii.com! 

Hawaii.com is owned by Gannett Co., publishers of USA Today and Stephens Interactive, and is a registered seller of travel in the State of Hawaii (No. 5832) and an accredited International Air Transport Association accredited travel agency. 


BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: CRUISE ON THE OPEN ROADS AND ON THE HIGH SEAS

RENT A HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTORCYCLE IN A CRUISE PORT OF CALL

Detroit – Jan 21, 2009 – Those who say "you can't have it all" haven't heard the latest "cruising" trend: motorcycle rentals in cruise ports of call. For those who have navigated every U.S. highway and "open road" on the back of a Harley Road King or Heritage Classic, there remain countless global frontiers out there every bit as memorable as those in the U.S.A. And what a way to go…hop off the cruise ship and onto your rental bike.

Harley Davidson® has established rental locations throughout the world to accommodate the growing cadre of international road warriors. All rentals are late-model Harley-Davidson® motorcycles, serviced and maintained to strict company standards.

To make it easier for you, CruiseCompete.com has compiled a listing of international Harley-Davidson Authorized Rentals® locations.

http://www.cruisecompete.com/press_releases.php

Here are a few examples of the rental opportunities you will see:

Harley-Davidson Roma – Via Silvio Spaventa 15/17– Phone +39 064880452

Now THIS is the way to see the Eternal City. Your Harley will navigate the narrow streets, allow you to park anywhere along the way, and…you'll get to the Appian Way a lot quicker than did Caesar's Roman Legions. Whether it's pure sightseeing or romance that's in the air, you will not be disappointed. Ciao!

Harley-Davidson Zürich – Müllerstrasse 34a, Zürich 8004 – Phone +41 044 / 225 41 21 – Fax +41 044 / 225 41 22

You've been motoring along the Swiss Alps and have decided to give your bike a rest.  Time for some R&R back on your European river cruise vessel - check out AMAWATERWAYS - ms Amalegro, 13 Nights - 2010: The Enchanting Rhine. A stop in Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, offers numerous historical (and romantic) opportunities. Whether traveling solo or accompanied by a partner, the blend of biking, river cruising and sightseeing is a combination that won't be beat.

While biking on your Harley offers terrific side-trip opportunities on any cruise, note that there are some things to keep in mind before you sign up for your rental. For most of Harley Davisdson's® international rental locations, riders must generally:

Be 21 years of age or older
Have a valid heavyweight motorcycle operator's license
Have a major credit card

For more information on booking a cruise, please visit CruiseCompete.com. Enjoy your trip!

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About CruiseCompete – CruiseCompete.com was named by The Wall Street Journal as The Best in Travel and has been a repeat on Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine's Best List for Cruises in its travel category. Since 2003, over 1,500 cruise experts have provided close to 6 million quotes to more than 1.5 million quote requests. For more information, visit http://www.CruiseCompete.com or http://www.CruiseCompeteGroups.com.

CruiseCompete – Find us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter!

Affiliated Companies – ResortCompete.com saves consumers time and money with best deals on all-inclusive resort vacations. Consumers secure quotes from multiple travel agencies, resort operators and vacation wholesalers without contacting each one separately. For more information, visit www.ResortCompete.com  ResortCompete – Find us on Facebook!

AllThingsCruise.com is a portal for cruise enthusiasts, dedicated to the joy of cruise travel and planning the best cruise vacations ever. Its wealth of information includes valuable cruise travel tools – from cruise reviews and feedback, to helpful videos and information for choosing the right ship, to preparing for and enjoying a memorable cruise vacation. A valuable unique feature of AllThingsCruise is a complimentary e-card with vital cruise line and cruise ship contact information travelers can send to family members and others prior to departure. AllThingsCruise-  Find us on Facebook!

CruiseCompete, ResortCompete and AllThingsCruise are Compete Ventures companies and are not owned by or affiliated with any travel agency. Compete Ventures is dedicated to making markets more efficient through competition by creating online marketplaces in specific niches, employing an online competitive-quote model.


Hayman Offers Idyllic Valentine’s Escape



Beautiful Hayman, Australia's celebrated private island destination in the Great Barrier Reef, provides the most idyllic of settings for an escape with a loved one for a memorable time together on Valentine’s Day.

Hayman welcomes couples to enjoy a special experience offering romance, luxury, relaxation, adventure and superb dining in this stunning place in paradise.

The Valentine’s Escape, which is valid 11-17 February 2010, is priced from $1785 per couple and includes:

•4 nights’ twin share accommodation in a beautifully appointed room
•A delectable chocolate plate and chilled bottle of sparkling wine on arrival
•A tantalising picnic basket selected and prepared by Hayman’s chefs
•Daily buffet breakfast in Azure, facing the sparkling Coral Sea
•Use of watercraft for catamaran sailing, windsurfing and paddleskiing
•Use of fitness facilities, including gymnasium, sauna and steam room
•Use of Activities Centre, tennis and squash courts, croquet lawn, golf driving range, billiards room and island walking tracks

For bookings and further information contact Hayman Reservations on
T (61-2) 8272 7000 F (61-2) 8272 7099 E reservations@hayman.com.au
or www.hayman.com.au

Hayman is owned by Mulpha Australia Limited and is a member of the prestigious organisation, The Leading Hotels of the World.

For Further Information:
T (61-2) 8272 2005
F (61-2) 8272 7008

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Romance in Australia's Red Centre!

TREAT YOUR VALENTINE TO A NIGHT TO REMEMBER AT LONGITUDE 131°

Treat your Valentine to something extraordinary next month with a private dinner for two on a sand dune, watching the sun setting over Uluru and Kata Tjuta.

It's hard to beat the romance of dining in the middle of Australia's vast and spiritual landscape of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, just you, your partner and the views. Enjoy the finest Australian wines and champagnes, and delicious Australian delicacies, all hand-prepared by newly-appointed Chef de Cuisine, Jane Meban.

Private dining at Longitude 131° provides the ultimate fine dining experience, under a canopy of glittering stars, surrounded by the solitude of the Red Centre Australian desert.

Rivalling some of the best hotels in the world, Voyages Longitude 131° is the most spectacular campsite in Australia, featuring 15 white elevated "tents" dotted amongst the vast Australian desert landscape.

Treat yourselves to a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience at Longitude 131° for Valentine's Day.

www.longitude131.com.au

The Ultimate Romantic Short Break at Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa



Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has released an exclusive two-night package, "A Timeless Escape" providing guests with the perfect opportunity to enjoy unprecedented levels of luxury.

Available for a three-month period, the package offers special rates until the end of April and includes an indulgent spa treatment in the stunning Timeless Spa.

Joost Heymeijer, General Manager, Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa said, "Australians are known for working long hours and not taking advantage of their annual leave. With packages like 'A Timeless Escape' we aim to promote a short-break holiday culture within the luxury category, giving our guests greater incentive to relax and recharge."

"With Valentine's Day just around the corner, this package, with a one-hour spa treatment per person included, is the perfect way to treat your partner to the ultimate in indulgence and romance."

"A TIMELESS ESCAPE"

Spend two nights at Wolgan Valley and take advantage of rates of AUD 1,660.00 per person (based on two sharing) for the Heritage Suite or AUD 1,488.00 per person (based on four sharing) for the Wollemi Suite.

During your stay, daily gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner, all non-alcoholic beverages and a selected range of regional alcoholic beverages with meals are included in the package. We also invite you to two complimentary on-site nature-based activities per day, as well as an indulgent 60-minute treatment of your choice at our own Timeless Spa. This exclusive two-night package is valid from 15th January 2010 until 30th April 2010.

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa also has an ongoing indulgent three-night package, "Indulge Your Senses at Wolgan Valley," valid until the 31st March 2011:

"INDULGE YOUR SENSES"

Spend three nights at Wolgan Valley and take advantage of rates of AUD 2,590.00 per person (based on two sharing) for the Heritage Suite or AUD 2,345.00 per person (based on  four sharing) for the Wollemi Suite and discover a whole host of rejuvenating benefits.

During your stay, your breakfast, daily lunch, dinner, all non-alcoholic beverages and selected regional wines and beers are included in the package. You can also enjoy two on-site nature-based activities per day, a nine course degustation dinner on one night of stay and a one hour Signature Mountain Aroma massage (or treatment of the same value).



About Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa

Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa opened in October 2009.

Located within its own 4,000 acre conservation reserve and nestled between two national parks bordering the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the conservation-based Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa sets new standards in luxury travel. Combining the expectations of the high-end traveller with the broader social, ecological and environmental aspects of the resort, it will be the only experience of its kind in Australia.

This secluded resort features 40 individual suites surrounded by private decks, each having its own indoor/outdoor swimming pool. Its architecture is designed to be reminiscent of traditional rural Australian homesteads.

As Emirates Hotels & Resorts' first hospitality development outside Dubai, the Au$125 million project was built on the same principles as Emirates' acclaimed Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, fully integrated into its environment and supporting wide-ranging conservation practices. These will focus on endangered species protection and the planting of thousands of native trees indigenous to the area, including one of the world's rarest trees, the Wollemi Pine.

"Wolgan Valley's combination of luxury, iconic location and outstanding conservation values, truly cannot be paralleled," said Tony Williams, Senior Vice President, Resorts & Projects, Emirates Hotels & Resorts. "It provides the essential Australian experience which exposes the visitor to an understanding of the amazing continent and its heritage."

About Emirates Hotels & Resorts:

Emirates Hotels & Resorts is Emirates Airline's premier hospitality management division comprising a growing portfolio of award-winning luxury conservation-based resorts, five-star hotels and lifestyle Spas.

For over 10 years, Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa has showcased the success of Emirates Hotels & Resorts' conservation-based philosophy. The same philosophy is followed at the other two Emirates Hotels & Resorts conservation-based properties; the Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa in Australia's Blue Mountains, which opened in October, and at the Cap Ternay Resort & Spa in the Seychelles, which is now under planning. 

The Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve and the Wolgan Valley Wildlife Conservancy, where Al Maha and Wolgan Valley are respectively located, are sponsored by Emirates and under the management of Emirates Hotels & Resorts.

For further information, visit www.emirateshotelsresorts.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Facebook Important Relationship Tool for Byron Bay Resort


The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa is one of Australia's first resorts to launch its own Facebook page and the results have been instant.

Now also linked to its Twitter account, The Byron at Byron Facebook page gives consumers and media instant updates on resort news as well as first access to events and specials.

"Facebook allows us to communicate with our guests and potential guests on their terms" says Holly Galbraith, Director of Marketing for The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa. "It's quite personal as guests share comments or stories from their stay here. The online community really helps us to keep on top of our guests' experiences and needs.

"I think many businesses are scared to enter these 'uncontrollable' marketing spaces, but if your product is transparent and you want the truth from your customers there is so much to be gained. The Byron at Byron's philosophy is very much about personal care and attention to detail so receiving feedback is vital. Guests may not call reception or walk up to the front desk to provide a compliment or make a suggestion, but they will do it online."

There are over seven million Facebook users in Australia, with 25 – 34 year olds accounting for the largest segment. The 35 years + segment is the fastest growing, accounting for 30.4% of Australia's Facebook population. With its links to blogs and online accommodation reviews, more and more consumers are using Facebook to research their travel options.

"Whether it's their honeymoon, babymoon or time out for health reasons our guests' stays are meaningful. Many of our guests become very connected to this resort and online tools such as Facebook helps us to further our relationships with them. We were one of the first resorts to have a direct feed from trip advisor to our own website and that was launched eighteen months ago".

To keep up to date with events, news and specials become a fan of The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa on Facebook or follow on Twitter http://twitter.com/hollygalbraith
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