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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Not over the hill but climbing mountains: Seniors travel

Seniors are out there, trying new things, seeing new places and spending up big. They are travelling to exotic locations, immersing themselves in other cultures and looking for opportunities to learn and push personal boundaries. But findings in a research paper about seniors’ travel prepared by MyTravelResearch.com show this group of intrepid travellers is being misrepresented in travel marketing.

Directors of MyTravelResearch.com, Bronwyn White and Carolyn Childs want to get the message out there that seniors are packing their bags several times a year looking for adventure and that marketers need to start taking notice.

“Travel marketing for seniors would appear to be stuck in a time warp. Seniors don’t want to see ‘old people’ with grey hair walking hand in hand along the beach. They want to see themselves scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef or immersing themselves in South American culture – because this is what they are actually doing,” Bronwyn explains.

Research conducted by MyTravelResearch into the seniors’ travel market estimates that 4.4 million Australian seniors are active travellers. More than half of the respondents to the study travelled overseas in the past 12 months. One in five made more than five domestic trips during that period.

“We found seniors have the desire to travel and the time. They also have the discretionary income,” Bronwyn says.

From their research findings MyTravelResearch concluded marketers need to change their approach to win over this cashed-up demographic.

“Seniors are the new young, they have a real spirit of youth and an appetite to travel, learn and try new things. We are finding this a really hard message to get across to travel marketers and the travel industry alike,” Bronwyn explains.

A more realistic photographic representation of seniors would be showing them hiking in Bhutan or sampling the markets of Vietnam. And they write about their trips – tweeting, blogging and posting. They love to share their adventures.

This group of seniors will travel more regularly throughout their life than any other generation before them. To see the world in retirement is a lifestyle priority and it is a global phenomenon.

“Marketers need to throw out the brochures on caravans and shots of grey haired people in comfortable clothes. Seniors are invigorated, sexy and have a zest for life,” Bronwyn suggests.

The research shows seniors present a great opportunity for both the domestic and international travel industry. And it is time for the industry to give seniors what they want.

For further information please visit www.myseniorstravelresearch.com








Thursday, March 28, 2013

Trekking in Torres del Paine tops global list


Lonely Planet magazine chose the best multi-day treks from around the world, but without too much altitude and the circuit known as the “W” Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine national park led the global list.



The circuit was selected for its variety of spectacular views and for being one of the best ways through which to discover Chilean Patagonia. This tour won against other iconic circuits including Bathali in Nepal, Milford Track in New Zealand, the Grand Canyon in the United States and the GR20 in France.

Lonely Planet highlights among the high points of the tour the view of the three great towers of granite, which have positioned the park as one of the best natural destinations on the planet, as well as “los cuernos” (The Horns), two giant structures of onyx-colored rock that crown the majestic mountain range of Patagonia.

The Parque Nacional Torres del Paine national park was created in May 1959 and is part of the Sistema Nacional de Áreas Silvestres Protegidas del Estado de Chile (National System of Protected Areas of the State of Chile).

It is a protected area of 242,000 hectares and has been a World Biosphere Reserve since 1978. The classic W is an extensive circuit that makes its way inward into the estate and takes 7 to 10 days of walking, depending on the pace of trekking and weather conditions.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Australian Stinger Myths - Irukandji jellyfish




Did you know?
  • Irukandji jellyfish are found around the world and Australia leads the world in pro-active awareness and risk management
  • Only 5 people are known to have died from Irukandji over the past 100 years
  • If you wear a “stinger-suit” you have over 75% protection
  • Wearing a stinger suit also protects you from the sun and it takes longer to burn through it.
Compare this to:
  • 300 people killed by road accidents per annum in Queensland alone
  • Fatal snake bites in Australia: 1/year
  • Australian bee sting deaths 1980-1990: 20
  • Australian lightning deaths 1980-1990: 20
  • Number of people killed at Disneyland: 9
  • American food allergy deaths per year: 150-200
Every summer there are predictions and threats that we are in for the worst stinger season for years. Dr Lisa-Ann Gershwin, a Townsville-based stinger researcher, has once again predicted a bad stinger season for this summer. Emily Smart, marine biologist with the Fantasea Foundation says, “there are a lot of myths and scare-tactics in relation to these tiny marine animals and the Whitsunday Shire Council in unison with other local operators has produced a poster to inform the public about the irunkandji jellyfish, how to protect yourself when in the water and what to do in the case of a sting.”

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sikkim Festival Receives Overwhelming Response in New Delhi

Three day long Sikkim Festival 2013 concludes in Delhi with tremendous note
 
Sikkim Festival records encouraging attendance in metropolitan cities

The three day long Sikkim Festival 2013 held at the national capital, Delhi's popular tourist destination Dilli Haat, attracted a large number of people from many cultural backgrounds, giving them an insight of the rich cultural history and picturesque tourist destinations of the Himalayan state.

The Sikkim festival which began on 7th March had around 10000 enthusiastic visitors on the opening day despite being a working day. The large north east populace living in the national capital participated in the festival in their traditional attire, adding color to the festivities.

Apart from the other stall at the pavilion, the organic farm products stall as well as the handloom and handicrafts stall saw a heavy footfall of interested visitors and buyers. The stakeholders' desks comprising of various adventure tourism associations saw many enthusiastic travelers enquiring about the various adventure sports being offered in the state.

As the beautiful dusk sky made its presence felt, visitors were treated and entertained with a cultural extravagance of folk dances and music. The famous Snow Lion dance, Yak dance and other folk dances delighted the audience.

A video presentation of pilgrimage and tourist destinations such as Siddheshvara Dham, Buddha Park, Samdupste, the famous Changu Lake, Yumthang Valley and Mt Kanchenjunga mesmerized and captivated the audience.

The festival was inaugurated by Mr P.D.Rai, Member of Parliament. In his brief address, he called upon the country to learn more about Sikkim and the North East which have so much to offer in terms of tourism and culture. He highlighted the achievements of Sikkim in the areas of law and order, good governance and innovative practices. He ended by dedicating the Sikkim Festival to the citizens of the country.

The festival was a huge success as it was able to achieve the desired goal of highlighting the sheer beauty and uniqueness of Sikkim to the world.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Santa Caterina, the iconic hotel of Amalfi Coast in Italy



Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi boasts a long history of hospitality which dates back to 1904 when the Gambardella family inaugurated it. The long lasting tradition is alive with the heirs who still manage the property and are ready to welcome again their guests for the upcoming season as of March 19, 2013. Over the years Hotel Santa Caterina has housed a large number of celebrities who loved and appreciated this unique location. It ranks among the top hotels of the world and is located just moments away from the historical maritime republic of Amalfi and not far from Positano, forty minutes from Sorrento.

This is a historic landmark which perfectly fits into the breathtaking surroundings: in the beautiful setting of the Amalfi Coast the Hotel Santa Caterina with its landscaped terraces seems to plunge to the Mediterranean Sea. Two elevators are nestled in the rock and allow guests to get down to the seaside as an alternative to a path among citrus groves and lush gardens leading also to a sea-water swimming pool, sunbathing decks, gym, café/bar and open-air restaurant.

At Hotel Santa Caterina glamorous interiors feature Italian antique furniture from the 19th and early 20th centuries together with some contemporary elements and original details from the typical local tradition such as the precious Vietri light blue tiles, hand painted majolica, decorative plaster works, classic whitewashed low vaulted ceilings with pillars at the corners. Colours recall the blue of the sea and the yellow of the lemons which are so widespread in this coastal area which runs from Sorrento to Vietri. Scented lemons, together with herbs and other citrus fruits are also part of the beauty treatment products at the Santa Caterina's SPA.

The Hotel owners are constantly committed to renovation and maintenance of their property, that is why it becomes more and more attractive year after year preserving its enchanting atmosphere.

Flagships of this jewel on the Amalfi Coast are definitely Villa Rosso, an annexe in the park, with two suites and two deluxe rooms; the "Chalet Romeo and Juliet", a perfect suite for honeymooners with a small private garden and heated "infinity" swimming pool; "the Torrino" suite nestled in the hotel botanical garden and the spectacular "Follia Amalfitana" suite with its shell-shaped king size bed and Jacuzzi pool with spectacular view into the bay.

At Hotel Santa Caterina all rooms boast a balcony, terrace or garden with stunning views over the picturesque scenery of the Amalfi coast, some of them are equipped with whirlpool bath.

Hotel Santa Caterina, S.S. Amalfitana, 9  84011 Amalfi (Salerno) Italy
Tel. +39 089 87 10 12  Fax +39 089 87 13 51
Internet www.hotelsantacaterina.it E-mail info@hotelsantacaterina.it

 
 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cinematic Shore Excursions in Thailand


Sir Christopher Lee and Roger Moore square off on
Khao Phing Kan in 1974's 'The Man with the Golden Gun'
by Roderick Eime
Location Scout: Phang Nga Bay, Thailand

Movie trivia buffs, how many movie locations in Thailand can you visit on a shore excursion from your cruise ship?

Well there are probably dozens, but to start the ball rolling let's begin with what is probably the most famous marine landscape in Thailand, Phang Nga Bay, just off the island of Phuket. Up until 1974, the area was just a fishing ground for local villagers who would catch shrimp, lobster, cod and cuttlefish. That all changed when production designer for 'Man with the Golden Gun', the late Peter Murton, saw Phang Nga Bay in a magazine and convinced producer Cubby Broccoli (easily as it turned out) that it would be simpler to access than Ha Long Bay, then North Vietnam. Nowadays, tourists turn up in their thousands to see Khao Phing Kan (now known simply as James Bond Island) and its distinctive monolith, Ko Tapu. Fans will recognise this from the beach duel scene with Francisco Scaramanga (played by Sir Christopher Lee) and James Bond (Roger Moore). In fact the whole island is the evil Scaramanga's lair, where 007 had arrived earlier by small seaplane (for spotters, a WWII-era Republic RC-3 Seabee) after a panoramic view of the whole bay from the air.
Visitors explore the limestone canyons near Koh Panyee
For visitors arriving at the mainland village of Phang Nga, northeast of Phuket, the first you'll see is a fleet of traditional 'long tail' speedboats ferrying passengers out to the floating Muslim fishing village of Koh Panyee where there's food and shopping in abundance plus the option to canoe among the limestone karst canyons at nearby Koh Talu Nok. Apart from the usual ubiquitous tacky souvenirs, there are some half-decent pearl jewellery stalls. Just remember to bargain hard.

In 1997, James Bond 007 (this time with Pierce Brosnan) returned to Phang Nga Bay for 'Tomorrow Never Dies'. Ironically it's to shoot the closing scene, set in Ha Long Bay. Bond still has trouble getting into Vietnam and the Saigon scenes earlier in the movie are actually shot in Bangkok.

Not far away, 50km south-east of Phuket in Krabi province, are the Phi Phi Islands made famous in the 2000 movie "The Beach" starring Leonardo DiCaprio. There was some controversy during the making of this movie when the movie's producers decided they needed to remodel the beach with a bulldozer resulting in lawsuits that dragged on for years after. The famous waterfall scene is actually Haeo Suwat Falls in Khao Yai National Park, three hours by road from Bangkok.

Other recent movies to have used Phuket and the Andaman Coast include Star Wars Episode III (2005), Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason (2004), The Phantom (1996) and Rescue Dawn (2005).


Leonardo DiCaprio and Virginie Ledoyen
get amorous on The Beach (2000)
Let's not forget either that this whole region, including the coast north to Khao Lak, was devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, so much of the infrastructure you see is less than ten years old. Be sure to pay your respects at one of the many memorials.

Cruise lines offering shore excursions at Phuket where you can take either a Phi Phi Islands or Phgang Nga Bay tour include Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Star Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and Princess.

More info on Phuket and Thailand: www.thailand.net.au

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Instagram - Your Ticket To Hamilton Island, Australia



Following the success of Hamilton Island’s inaugural Ultimate Instameet, details of a second event have been announced but this time one lucky Instagrammer from the UK has the chance to win a coveted place.

To better illustrate the concept, Hamilton Island, Australia’s premier island holiday destination, has created a short YouTube documentary which explains this social media initiative. The second Instameet will be held from 17th-19th May 2013.

One lucky competition winner and one ambassador from the UK will travel to Hamilton Island along with one ambassador from Asia, four competition winners and ambassadors from Australia, for a weekend of exploring, photographing and sharing experiences on their social media outlets including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest.

Sophie Baker, Hamilton Island’s Senior Communications Manager said: ‘The first Instameet promoted our beautiful Island to a global audience of more than eight million social media users over one weekend. This reach and power of genuine, word-of-mouth endorsements from ambassadors to their friends, family and other influencers makes social media a very valuable tool due to its legitimacy and authenticity.’

Participants in the second Instameet will explore Hamilton Island and surrounding Whitsunday islands and World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef, enjoy the Island’s award-winning cuisine including cooking demonstrations, wine tasting and sampling locally produced fare, visit world famous Whitehaven Beach, snorkel, watch blazing sunsets with cocktails in hand, and get up close to native Australian wildlife, not to mention cuddling a koala.

To be part of the Instameet from 17th - 19th May, entrants need simply post a picture on Twitter or Instagram of their idea of holiday bliss with the comment ‘@HamiltonIsland this is my holiday bliss #hamiltonislandinstameetcompUK’ by 7th April 2013. The winner will be announced by 10th April, and must be able to travel from 13th – 21st May 2013. Return flights from the winner’s closest UK airport, four nights’ accommodation on Hamilton Island, one nights’ accommodation in Sydney, breakfast daily, on-Island transfers, some other hosted meals and various incredible activities are all included within the prize. (Terms and conditions)

Hamilton Island’s YouTube documentary from the inaugural Ultimate Instameet shows some of the best Instagrammers from Australia and America experiencing the Island for the first time, along with some well known Australian faces including TV personality and Chef Hayden Quinn and model Annabella Barber.

The group captured 640+ photos over one weekend with more than 50 of these appearing in Instagram's highly sought after 'Popular' page on all 100 million active users' feeds. Their images and those from the inaugural Instameet can be viewed on Instagram by searching for hashtag #hamiltonislandinstameet, and following @hamiltonisland on Instagram.

Sofitel So Bangkok Celebrates the First Anniversary

Sofitel So Bangkok - Hotel Rendering Horizontal

Sofitel So Bangkok celebrates the first anniversary with successful completion of original design elements by Monsieur Christian Lacroix.

On February 28, 2013, Sofitel So Bangkok turned 1 year old. Equally marking Sofitel So Bangkok's first year is the addition of the final art piece by the hotel's Signature Designer Monsieur Christian Lacroix.

From murals and mobiles to uniforms and emblems, Sofitel So Bangkok has successfully completed the installation of renowned French couturier Monsieur Christian Lacroix's key design elements.

The recent unveiling of his bold mobile in the hotel's Street Lobby is the last of his masterpieces located throughout the hotel. The art piece reflects the unique identity of Sofitel So Bangkok, the city's first truly urban design hotel and Monsieur Christian Lacroix's inimitable imagination, stylish and so full of fun, fantasy and flair.

In 2011, during the early stages of the hotel's construction, Monsieur Christian Lacroix was invited to Thailand to be Sofitel So Bangkok's Signature Designer, incorporating his inspiration and design flair all across this unique hotel. A perfect fit to the design boutique hotel, his credentials and creations ranging from haute couture to lifestyle products have long amazed and delighted the fashion world.

At Sofitel So Bangkok, Monsieur Christian Lacroix has combined his personal take on French elegance, theatrical flair, fantasy and folklore with the symbolism of the traditional Five Elements of oriental philosophy - Water, Earth, Wood, Metal, and Fire – that have inspired the hotel's overall design concept, along with touches of Thai influence.

Centrepiece of it all is the TREE OF LIFE, the hotel's emblem that encapsulates all of the Five Elements, creating a harmonious balance, enriched by the spirit of time and of the seasons. Overflowing with a rainbow of colour, this "Neo Arbre de Vie" is an Asian inspired reinterpretation of an ancient symbol of nature found in the West and East and perfectly epitomizes the essence of Sofitel So Bangkok, rooted in its locale, growing upward and outward.

Monsieur Christian Lacroix, in conjunction with local designer Pongthep Sagulku of August Design, further extends his creative genius to the design of Club Signature, the hotel's stylish executive lounge on the 25th floor. Here, a vibrant ambience is created through a unique wallpaper with an eclectic interplay of images and motifs of old Siam and 19th-century France filled with imaginative patterns, rich textures and bright colours that combine to offer a discovery experience. Most eye-catching of all is a huge fanciful mural that greets guests as they enter and in which stylised figures of women shoppers with chic accessories are posed against a swirling colourful backdrop that is a fun celebration of high fashion.

Perhaps what most immediately brighten guests' experience at Sofitel So Bangkok are the staff uniforms which Monsieur Christian Lacroix has created. A stylish collection of 15 different designs, each staff member has three different uniforms that he or she can choose from to wear on any particular day, adding variety and colour to the hotel's already stylish decor.

In terms of design, Monsieur Christian Lacroix has blended French and Thai styles with his elaborate signature patchwork. For example, one style of a female front line uniform mixes a red shoulder sash reminiscent of classical Thai dress worn with a long-sleeve blouse and skirt. Alternatively, there is a tailored blouse complemented by a full, flowing knee-length skirt. Similarly, male front line staff has the choice of classical Thai jacket and baggy knee-length pantaloons or a modern version of a high-collar Thai jacket with Western trousers. Manager uniforms are again bold and imaginative in design while still conveying an executive look.

Masterfully cut and tailored, the uniforms' patterns and colours reflect Monsieur Christian Lacroix at his boldest and most imaginative. His palette ranges from ruby red to the subtlest of pastel shades, while patterns draw on both nature, with bird and floral designs, and on colourful and elaborate quilt patterns, all of which represents the Five Elements.

Most recently, the hotel completed the installation of Monsieur Christian Lacroix's final touch - a bold art piece hanging from the ceiling of the hotel’s Street Lobby. In what is his own theatrical reinvention of a traditional mobile, his design comprises a collection of separately hanging wooden pieces fashioned variously as stylized animals, both real and imaginary – a turtle and a lion, for example, along with a dragon and a phoenix. All are colourful and richly decorated with floral and quilt patterns, while a symbolic dimension adds depth to the creation as forms and colours are used to subtly represent the Five Elements. At the same time, a fun and playful element adds an inescapable sense of joie de vivre.

As the Street Lobby has two entrances, from North Sathorn and Rama IV roads, Monsieur Christian Lacroix, whose work adorns the Sathorn side, collaborated with well-known local designer Rujiraporn Pia Wanglee, of PIA Interior Co. Ltd., to create a connecting mobile of three-dimensional teakwood latticework at the Rama IV Road lobby entrance. The result is a perfect blend of two cultures, the best of two worlds, French and Thai.

With the unveiling of this final artwork, every corner of Sofitel So Bangkok captures the imagination of its guests as they experience a hotel that’s a masterwork of collaborative interior and fashion design.

While Sofitel So Bangkok is proud of its design-driven facilities, even more satisfying has been the international recognition it has received in just its first year. Highlights among the several accolades garnered in the last 12 months are "Best Business Hotel 2012" by Wallpaper UK, "Best of the Best 2012" by Robb Report, "Best New Spa 2012" by Thai Spa Association, and "One of the best new places to stay" in the Luxe List by DestinAsian magazine.

After such a successful first year, both local and international guests at Sofitel So Bangkok can well look forward to much more to enjoy at what is now well recognized as the city's first truly urban design hotel meeting today's demands.
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