Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Strategic and smart – that’s Brisbane

Brisbane Aerial

Brisbane has been ranked as having the 2nd best foreign direct investment strategy in the Asia Pacific and a Top 10 Asia Pacific leader for ‘labour environment’ in fDi’s Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2013/14.

The bi-annual ranking of economic, business and financial strengths is produced by fDi Magazine, a publication of the Financial Times. It grades cities on their economic potential, infrastructure, business-friendliness and education expenditure.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the accolade was another ringing endorsement of Brisbane’s growing appeal to foreign businesses and investors.

In the past year, Brisbane Marketing has aggressively pursued campaigns to strengthen economic growth by targeting key decision-makers across the world through the Choose Brisbane campaign.

The strategy is paying dividends, with Brisbane attracting important investment in key industry sectors such as mining and resources, food and agribusiness, tourism infrastructure and civil infrastructure.

Brisbane Marketing’s hotel investment strategy has contributed to the 572 new hotel rooms currently under construction in Brisbane, including the conversion of the former Chifley Hotel into a 300-room NEXT Hotel by Singapore-based SilverNeedle Hospitality.

fDi’s Asia-Pacific Cities of the Future 2013/14 rankings assess a range of data to classify the cities which make business expansion, economic development and inward investment a priority.

The fDi labour environment category methodology assessed Brisbane on education expenditure, literacy rate, number of tertiary education centres and the percentage of the population identifying as students.

A panel of influential experts from the FDI industry assess cities based on their growth potential and opportunities for investment, initiatives taken to promote FDI as well as high growth industry sectors and the growth in large infrastructure and urban planning projects that create a city for the future.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Toronto's Casa Lomo: Home is a Castle

David Ellis

IT'S anyone's guess what members of Canada's Toronto City Council thought when they met one day back in 1903.

Because amongst the usual applications for alterations to city buildings, changes to trading hours, requests for better street lighting and all the other regular humdrum, was one from a wealthy local businessman, Sir Henry Pellatt.

He wanted approval to build a new home. In town, on a hill and in the belief that every man's home is his castle, one that would be exactly that.

A castle.

And across a whopping 25 building blocks he'd bought just for the job.

Not having been confronted with a request for a castle before, the Council took some time to mull it over, and it wasn't until 1911 work got underway on the new home of Sir Henry and Lady Mary Pellett.

And some home, sorry castle, it would be, with 98 rooms, a banquet hall with 18m ceiling, a library with 10,000 volumes, a three-lane bowling alley( that was never quite completed,) a kitchen with an oven big enough to roast a whole ox, and a wine cellar with enough bottles to last a good drinker a couple of lifetimes.

Sir Henry and Lady Mary also had separate suites incorporating private bathrooms, Lady Mary's alone covering 278 square metres – over a quarter of a normal suburban building block – while Sir Henry's had a secret tunnel leading to an outside garage in the event he had to slip away without disturbing Lady Mary.

And to keep in touch with each other amid all this, with their staff, Sir Henry's many businesses and the outside world generally, a private 59-line telephone exchange handled more calls in its first years than the entire surrounding city.

In the grounds were 2ha (5 acres) of landscaped gardens, a winter ice-curling rink, 2-storey hunting lodge, stables (whose horse's names were in gold leaf,) carriage room, heated conservatory/potting room and, in the event of rain or snow, an official 250m long tunnel 6m underground from these into the castle – as opposed to Sir Henry's own secret one from his suite.

All this cost C$3,500,000 (around $50m in today's terms,) and took 300 workers three years to complete, with the walls being built of imitation stone blocks from Sir Henry's own Roman Stone Company. And when completed, Sir Henry had to find 40 butlers, maids, cooks, cleaners, gardeners and stable-hands to run it all.

Although born into a wealthy family, Sir Henry was also an astute businessman in his own right, investing in everything from real estate to mining, insurance, the Canadian Pacific Railroad, sitting as chairman of 21 company boards  – and earning his knighthood for bringing electricity to the city of Toronto from Niagara Falls.

And he found time to also be highly active in the volunteer Canadian Queen's Own Rifles, while Lady Mary was a tireless worker for the Canadian Girl Guides.

The Pellatt's called their castle Casa Loma, Spanish for House on the Hill, but sadly WWI and subsequent stock crashes hit them hard, and in 1924, just ten years after moving into their castle, they were forced to auction-off C$1.5m worth of art works and $250,000 of furnishings, and retreat to their farm a little outside town.

Lady Mary died there that same year, and Sir Henry in 1939.

Casa Loma fell into disrepair, and with over $27,000 owned in back taxes, the Toronto City Council seized the property in 1933. Because of its dilapidated condition, first plans were to raze it and sell the land, but the Kiwanis Club of Toronto could see the value of a real, live castle as a tourist attraction, obtained a long-term lease, and refurbished and opened it to the paying public in 1937.

They ran it until last year when the Toronto City Council established the Casa Loma Corporation to take it over.

Casa Loma is open year round except December 24 and Christmas Day, and the gardens open from May through October. For entry costs and about tours covering its Gardens, History, Architecture and sites where over 130 TV shows, movies and commercials have been made there, go to www.casaloma.org

For help with visiting Canada and Casa Loma, contact Canada & Alaska Specialist Holidays 1300 79 49 59 or www.canada-alaska.com.au


1.CASA Loma: Sir Henry and Lady Mary ensured their home was their castle. (Central
   Toronto Realty)
2. CONSERVATORY Potting Room simply for looking after the pot plants. (Casa Loma
3. OAK Room, one of the many sitting rooms throughout the 98-room Casa Loma.
    (Steven V. Rose)
4. SECTION of the Rose Garden, open May through October. (Toronto Tourism)
5. TUNNEL 250m from hunting lodge and stables in event of bad weather. (Casa Loma
6. SIR Henry Pellatt, visionary extraordinaire. (Casa Loma Corporation)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Monaco prepares for EVER 2014

Monaco – a Principality dedicated to Responsible Tourism. The Principality of Monaco, a tourist destination par excellence, is aiming to become irreproachable in environmental protection. In this spirit, the Monegasque State and key tourism professionals are becoming more and more active every day in all aspects of sustainable development.  Monaco is currently preparing for EVER 2014, the International fair promoting sustainable development.

EVER 2014

From March 25th to 27th 2014, the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco will welcome one of the most important green events in Europe: 'EVER'. Created in 2006, EVER aims to promote two key aspects of sustainable development: energy and mobility. The first aim of "EVER 2014" is to promote the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency; the second is to promote cleaner mobility for private transport, using more powerful electric and hybrid vehicles. Like every year, the event will take place at the Grimaldi Forum* and is supported by the Prince's Government, the Prince Albert II Foundation and the Monegasque Electricity and Gas Company.  In addition to themed scientific lectures, bringing together researchers, university staff, students and business heads, there will be workshops and round tables, which will be open to the public. The topics addressed will include energy transition and its impact, energy efficiency issues and future solutions for storing electricity. With regard to mobility, the increased use and the future of clean vehicles will be discussed.  As last year, there will be a "Ladies in Mobility" round table – this year, it will be devoted to electric mobility in "Smart Cities."  A meeting of the Paris ecological vehicles club will also be held. EVER is a real melting pot for innovation and for raising awareness of good practice.  As usual, it will host the "Youth and Sustainable Development" meetings. This year, EVER 2014 will also offer a "Sustainable Village," which will showcase renewable forms of energy, with uniform, functional stands that are conducive to professional meetings.  It will host the final of the METHA EUROPE 2014 competition, organised by the Écoles des Mines, on the theme of energy efficiency for transport and in the home. Finally, EVER will be an opportunity to display and test drive the automotive industry's latest electric vehicles. For further information, see:  www.ever-monaco.com

Monaco's international commitment to the Environmental and Sustainable Development

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation acts to protect the environment and promote sustainable development at a global level. The Foundation's activities are concentrated on three main areas: climate change and renewable energies, biodiversity, and water and desertification. The Foundation supports projects in three main geographical regions: the Mediterranean basin, the polar regions and the least-developed countries. The Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority is working in cooperation with the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, notably in the "Monaco Carbon Offsetting" programme, to offer partners and clients the opportunity of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions related to their activities. http://www.fpa2.com/home.html

MONACO GREEN – A new discovery

The Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority, in collaboration with his partners in the tourism sector, propose to discover Monaco's commitment to sustainability and for environmental protection due to concrete actions. Each month, the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority releases a programme with proposed actions for a stay in Monaco demonstrating a commitment to the planet without any waste. In the framework of the 'MONACO GREEN – A new discovery' initiative, the Monaco Government Tourist and Convention Authority works with their main partners such as the Hotel Metropole, Monte-Carlo SBM, Fairmont Monte-Carlo, Le Meridien, Columbus Monte-Carlo, Novotel, Grimaldi Forum who, in early December 2007, signed an agreement on the adoption of an environmental Charter.

*The Grimaldi Forum

Ideally located in the heart of Monaco, the Grimaldi Forum Monaco is situated within walking distance of hotels and restaurants. With 35,000 sqm. of modular premises and state-of-the art technologies, the Grimaldi Forum Monaco is a wonderful tool to build-up events. Since its opening in 2000, many events management and international corporate companies are attracted by the glass and steel structure as well as its tailor made services. Conventions, congresses, trade shows, product launches, all find here another dimension… The staff and visitors are actively encouraged to follow its "Act Green" policy. The Grimaldi Forum Monaco proposes tailor-made solutions for events' organizers wishing to limit their environmental footprint. http://www.grimaldiforum.com/

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

And the winner is THAILAND!

And the winner is THAILAND! Thailand again voted most favourite country by Top Indian Travellers

New Delhi, 3 December, 2013: For the third time in a row, Thailand was voted the most ‘Favourite Country’ at the annual Readers’ Travel Awards of the Indian edition of Condé Nast Traveller. The prestigious award, which is based on votes cast by readers of India’s leading luxurious travel magazine, was conferred at a glitz-and-glamour ceremony on the lawns of the ITC Maurya Hotel in New Delhi on 28 November, 2013. About 300 of India’s leading hoteliers, travel agents, airline and luxurious service executives, and other eminent tourism industry personalities were in attendance

The event was hosted by leading Indian actress Neha Dupia and awards were presented by Mr. Alex Kuruvilla, Managing Director of Condé Nast India Pvt. Ltd., and Ms. Divia Thani Daswani, Editor of Condé Nast Traveller India.

Mr. Soonthorn Chaiyindeepum, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Thai Embassy, and Miss Runjuan Tongrut, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office in New Delhi, accepted the award. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Soonthorn thanked the readers, editors and staff of Condé Nast Traveller India, as well as Indian travellers for their continued fondness of Thailand. He stressed that the political situation in Thailand will not harm the country’s tourism industry and foreign travellers are always welcome in the kingdom, with its famous Thai hospitality and ensured safety.

“Under the leadership of Director Runjuan of TAT, Thailand attracted over 1 million Indian travellers last year,” Mr. Soonthorn said, noting that Indian arrivals have also risen strongly this year.

About the Tourism Authority of Thailand

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), promoter of Thailand’s tourism worldwide, is partnering to showcase the best Thailand has to offer for India, and to project the image of Thailand as a luxury and high-end destination for Indian travellers.

About Conde Nast Traveller Reader’s Travel Awards;

The Condé Nast Traveller Readers’ Travel Awards are globally renowned and considered the most prestigious in the industry. They honour the best in travel, tourism and hospitality, as chosen by the discerning and influential readers of Condé Nast Traveller.

Readers of Condé Nast Traveller India voted for their preferred Destinations, Airlines, Hotels, Spas, Airports and more, across 25 categories, based on their personal experiences.

About Conde Nast Traveller India

Conde Nast Traveller Magazine – India is a bi-monthly luxury magazine

Circulation: 30,000

Readership: 150,000

For more information about Amazing Thailand, please visit:

Website: http://www.tourismthailand.org

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TourismAuthorityofThailandIndia



E- mail: tatdel@tat.or.th, tatmumbai@tat.or.th

1.Favourite Country: Thailand
2.Favourite Overseas City: Dubai
3.Favourite Indian City: Mumbai
4.Favourite Indian Leisure Destination: Goa
5.Favourite Emerging Overseas Destination : Malaysia
6.Favourite Emerging Indian Destination : Leh-Ladakh
7.Favourite Overseas Business Hotel: 51 Buckingham Gate Taj Suites & Residences
8.Favourite Business Hotel In India: The Oberoi, Gurgaon
9.Favourite Overseas Leisure Hotel: The Address Dubai Mall
10.Favourite Leisure Hotel In India: Rambagh Palace
11.Favourite New Overseas Hotel: W Singapore - Sentosa Cove
12.Favourite New Business Hotel In India: Park Hyatt Chennai
13.Favourite New Leisure Hotel In India: ITC Grand Chola, Chennai
14.Favourite Boutique Hotel In India: Devi Garh by lebua
15.Favourite Hotel Loyalty Programme: Taj InnerCircle, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces
16.Favourite Airport: Singapore Changi Airport
17.Favourite Airline Used For Travel Outside India: Emirates
18.Favourite Airline Used For Travel Within India: IndiGo
19.Favourite Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International
20.Favourite Specialist Tour Operator: Thomas Cook
21.Favourite Online Travel Agent (OTA): Makemytrip.com
22.Favourite Travel App: TripAdvisor
23.Favourite Overseas Hotel Spa: Jiva Grande Spa, Taj Exotica Resort and Spa
24.Favourite Hotel Spa In India: The Spa by ESPA, The Leela Palace New Delhi
25.Favourite Destination Spa: Sereno Spa, Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa

Excellence Awards:
Excellence Award for Promoting Cultural Tourism - founders of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Mr Bose Krishnamachari and Mr Riyas Komu
Excellence Award for Wildlife Conservation - Mr Valmik Thapar

Tuesday, November 5, 2013



David Ellis


WHEN a mate, John Rozentals publisher of OzBabyBoomers (an online magazine for wrinklies like ourselves,) was telling us about the delights of a first-time encounter with a health resort, we couldn't resist asking him to share his tale with other possible sceptics like ourselves.


So this week it's over to John: 


For me it's a first-time encounter. But for another guest Carolyn, this is her 25th pilgrimage to Solar Springs, a wonderful health retreat in NSW's beautiful Southern Highlands.


As usual, Carolyn's trip is the last week of an annual two-month post-Christmas detox that she says clears cobwebs and readies her for another assault on the precarious south face of the mountain called multi-national marketing.

And, she says, the joy of Solar Springs is that it's more easy-going, and doesn't have "the touches of fascism" – as she so delightfully puts it – that can be found elsewhere.

"Here you can do as little or as much as you want," Carolyn adds, "and no one is going to chip you if you're relaxing in the lounge with a coffee and reading the papers, or just wandering through the gardens on your own."

Like other regulars — and there seem to be plenty of them — she tells me the secret is to pace yourself between relaxing and signing up for the many activities on offer.

For the couple of days I'm here, my must-do's include guided bushwalks, short morning and evening walks, stretch and fitball classes, aquarobics, general gym exercises, pilates and power bar.

Archery, naturopathy, meditation and yoga are also on the week's agenda, and guests are welcome to use the resort's bicycles and tennis courts (equipment supplied) free of charge.

Solar Springs has occupied a rambling, superbly maintained 1920s Bundanoon guest house for more than 30 years, and the location is certainly an idyllic one.

Just down the hill is the charming Bundanoon village centre, complete with delightful cafés and galleries. Once a year it becomes 'Brigadoon' — even the signs on the railway station change — and hosts an impressive Scottish Highlands Gathering, complete with caber tossing, stones lifting, haggis hurling and massed pipe bands.

On the other side is a majestic outlook over Morton National Park, for spectacular bushwalking opportunities with Solar Springs staff.

In 1995 a fully fledged aquatic centre was added — 25-metre heated pool, sauna, steam room and spa with a view — and the gymnasium offers the works.

The resort's 'quiet room' — don't even think about using your mobile phone in here — has wall-to-wall glass on one side and provides a wonderful venue for contemplating the scene and sorting out your thoughts before heading to the dining room.

And healthy, delicious food is a major part of the Solar Springs experience, with three meals a day included in the tariff.

French-born Francois Razevet is in charge of the kitchen. He was a chef at 15 and worked in Provence, London, Corsica, Canada and Ireland before moving to Bundanoon in 2005, initially to work at Peppers Manor House.

His menus change daily and he relishes working with — and "not murdering" — the vast range of top-quality local fresh ingredients he has access to.

Lunch might include Provencal ratatouille with pasta and salads of tomato, basil, fetta pinenuts, red cabbage, apple, herbs and green leaves. On one of my nights there, the three-course dinner comprised entrée of goat cheese, watermelon and quinoa salad, main course of marinated chicken sous-vide (sealed in airtight plastic bag and cooked in a water bath,) baked polenta chips and tomato jam, and dessert of carrot cake, lemon sour cream and candied walnut. Absolutely delicious flavours, but still light and so well balanced.

And, yes, there is a small, but well selected list of wines available at reasonable prices for dinner. As Carolyn says, no sense of fascism here.

All-inclusive rates start at $450 per person twin-share for two nights midweek.

The only extras come in the form of massages and beauty treatments. Rates for those vary but look at $80 per hour as the basis.

And certainly don't miss the excellent remedial massage, or the pedicure. You'll feel a million dollars better for both.

DETAILS: Solar Springs 1800 044 944 or visit solarsprings.com.au; Bundanoon visit www.bundanoon.com.au; Morton National Park www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/Morton-National-Park

(John Rozentals was a guest for two days of Solar Springs.)





1.SOLAR SPRINGS a delightful one-time 1920s Bundanoon guest house.

2. POOL classes just one of many activities on offer.

3. YOGA too.

4. SPA the view overlooking Morton National Park.

5. ESCAPE for a read in the picturesque Gazebo.

6. MASSAGE to get all those little aches out.


(Photos: Solar Springs Health Retreat.)


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Caravanning and Camping Expo on next Weekend in Batemans Bay

Inline images 1

The South Coast Caravan, Camping and Holiday Expo starts next weekend, Friday 8 – Sunday 10 November at Mackay Park in Batemans Bay.

With over 130 exhibitors, entertainment for the kids, exciting competitions and plenty of free parking, organisers, the Caravan and Camping Industry Association of NSW (CCIA) are anticipating that the South Coast Caravan, Camping and Holiday Expo will attract visitors from near and far.

For the first time there will be a free shuttle bus transporting visitors to and from the Expo from the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on the Saturday and Sunday of the event. Parking is free and the bus runs every half an hour to ensure that visitors can make the most of their time at the Expo.

Research reveals that 25 per cent of visitors to the South Coast Expo travel over two hours to attend, and 6 per cent come from outside of NSW.

Lyndel Gray, CEO of the CCIA says that the South Coast Expo attracts people from such a wide area  because Expo's are the most convenient way for consumers to research, book and buy with everything in the one easy to access location.

"The continued popularity of Expo's, as well as the recent statistics indicating strong growth of caravanning and camping holidays in NSW, means that next weekend's event in Batemans Bay is sure to be  very popular."

Tourism Research Australia's latest National Visitor Survey demonstrates that caravanning and camping is one of the strongest growth segments in the NSW tourism industry shows that commercial caravan parks and camp grounds in NSW recorded an 11 per cent increase in domestic visitors and a 7 per cent increase in visitor nights in the year ending June 2013.

The South Coast Caravan, Camping and Holiday Expo starts next Friday 8 November and runs until Sunday 10 November. Its open daily 9am-4pm. Adult tickets are $10, Senior and Concession Card Holders $6 and children 16 years and under are free.

"Caravan and camping expo's have something for everyone from tents, campervans and slide-ons, through to camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes that can fit the entire family. We will also have a range of holiday parks on display and a huge variety of accessories, so there will be plenty to ensure you are fully prepared for your next caravan and camping getaway, said Ms Gray."

For more information, exhibitor lists and maps and details regarding the free shuttle bus running from The Batemans Bay Soldiers Club visit  www.southcoast.supershow.com.au

New summer events at Peninsula strawberry farm


Super sweet strawberry summer coming up on the Mornington Peninsula


Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm on the Mornington Peninsula is serving up a super sweet summer, with its annual Family Day in December, new twilight pick-your-own strawberry evenings in January, and its first strawberry cookbook available in time for Christmas gift giving.


Family Day, Saturday December 7

A big annual favourite, with free activities including tastings of different strawberry varieties, face painting, fairy floss and a treasure hunt. A sausage sizzle will raise money for charity, families can pick their own strawberries ($20 for two adults and two children, including 1.5kg of strawberries), and the deliciously decadent dessert café will be open 9am – 5pm.


New twilight U-pick strawberries

Thousands of visitors pick more than 40 tonnes of strawberries every year at Sunny Ridge. From January 2 - 31, strawberry picking hours will be extended on Thursday evenings, with twilight picking until 8pm and a special twilight menu available at the dessert cafe. (Normal picking hours are 9.00am – 4.30pm from November to April.) Adult u-pick: $8 including 500 gms of strawberries; child u-pick $4 including 250 gms of strawberries.


Sunny Ridge, its shop, cellar door and dessert café are open 9am - 5pm daily until the end of April, then 11am – 4pm at weekends from May to October. You can always buy fresh strawberries, as Sunny Ridge also has a strawberry farm in Queensland.


'Beyond the Berry' Cookbook

This new 90-page cookbook has around 30 succulent strawberry recipes, including two created by chef Stuart Bell from the 2-Chef's Hat Mornington Peninsula restaurant Ten Minutes by Tractor. Buy your strawberries from Sunny Ridge then try delights such as strawberry and ouzo ice cream, amaretti and strawberry tiramisu, the classic Eton Mess and ricotta and fetta tart with roasted strawberries and balsamic syrup. Costing $25.00, the book will be available from early December at Sunny Ridge and for online purchases at www.sunnyridge.com.au/ShopOnline


Discounts with Mornington Peninsula Attractions Pass

Visitors who buy a Mornington Peninsula Attractions Pass are also entitled to a 10% discount on any desserts and gourmet foods purchased in the Sunny Ridge strawberry shop or dessert cafe, including the farm-made icecreams and sorbets which have won many awards in the Royal Melbourne Show Fine Food Awards.


The pass, which delivers more than $100 of value and costs $63 for adults and $45 for children, includes offers at seven top attractions: entry plus bonuses at Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens, Cape Schanck Lightstation, Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park and Peninsula Hot Springs, plus discount offers at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, Box Stallion Winery and Peninsula Searoad ferries between Sorrento and Queenscliff.


The Attractions Pass is transferrable, valid for three months and can be purchased online at www.emmp.net.au, at Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens, Cape Schanck Lightstation, Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park, Peninsula Hot Springs and selected outlets on the Mornington Peninsula.


W: www.sunnyridge.com.au


Monday, October 21, 2013

A&K¹s Travel Hot List for 2014!

From the experts in luxury travel comes the eagerly anticipated Hot List for 2014. If it's a cultural sojourn you're after, a villa stay, a unique wildlife encounter or an active adventure there is something here for first time and seasoned traveller alike.

"Staying ahead of the game is something we pride ourselves on", says Abercrombie & Kent Managing Director Sujata Raman. "Our travel specialists have been out and about experiencing and reviewing new and interesting additions to the luxury travel sphere both here and abroad. The result is the A&K Hot List. Read on for your next travel inspiration."  

Antarctica is the stuff of dreams and the quintessential once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Just getting there is an expedition in itself. A&K's chartered ship, MV Le Boreal, heads south from Ushuaia in Argentina crossing the Drake Passage to the wildlife-rich Antarctic Peninsula where penguins in their multitudes, seals, whales and icebergs make up the landscape. There are visits to working research stations and on some journeys a foray to the quaint Falkland Islands and South Georgia, remote British territories in the Atlantic. The season operates during our summer months so why not consider Christmas in the White Continent?  


Berkeley River Lodge, WA
Closer to home, the Berkeley River Lodge is the latest in eco luxury to open on Western Australia's Kimberley coast. Perfectly situated overlooking a pristine beach and dramatic red cliffs, access is by floatplane from Kununurra. Designer eco villas decorated in neutral tones feature splashes of colour, timber floors, open air bathrooms, private decks with sun-beds and glorious views - the perfect base for daily adventures. Dining is casual yet tasty with flavoursome menus making use of the finest quality ingredients. There are river and coastal cruises, beach and bush 4WD tours, fishing and guided walks. A heli-picnic or scenic flight to nearby waterfalls, ancient rock art sites and remote gorges is highly recommended.


Chiloé, Chile
Located in the south of Chile, Chiloé is the country's second largest island and little known in the world of luxury travel. Positioned on the westernmost edge of the archipelago its landscape is rugged and, outside its two major towns, dwellings are few and far between. Fishing and subsistence farming are the major industries but it's also famous for its handicrafts and unique timber architecture. There are some 150 wooden churches there, many with World Heritage listings, and the colourful palafitos (stilted house over water) are dotted all around the archipelago. The only place to base yourself here is the brilliantly designed Refugia, a new 12-room lodge dramatically positioned on a hilltop, which you'll never want to leave.

Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express
Lovers of iconic rail journeys will relish the addition of the Golden Eagle to A&K's portfolio. Russia's only fully en suite private train, it travels to some of the world's most remote and fascinating regions including Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Mongolia and China. The 10,600km Trans-Siberian journey travels for two weeks across Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok through eight time zones taking in incredible landscapes, unique cultures and a fascinating and varied historical context.


Hyderabad, India
Easily accessible to the luxury traveller, the Andhra Pradesh capital Hyderabad has surprising appeal. 400 years of history have left their mark with impressive ancient forts, a rich Mughal heritage alongside futuristic architecture and a thriving IT industry. Its cuisine is amongst the finest in India and there's no more glamorous place to bed down than the lavish Taj Falaknuma Palace. Restored to its former opulence over a ten-year period, the hotel glitters with Venetian chandeliers, grand marble staircases, gurgling fountains and priceless artefacts.


Considered one of travel's final frontiers Madagascar is a country that offers unique cultural appeal, extraordinary landscapes and unique wildlife. Lemurs are the endemic primates of Madagascar with some 100 different species in existence. The Andasibe and Mantadia National Parks are two of the best for seeing the different varieties and the extraordinary baobab landscape of Ifotaka is a sight to behold.


Dust, desert, souks and spices. Colourful and exotic it's home to a fusion of Berber, Arabic and Moorish cultures. There are boutique riads, chic hotels and Bedouin tented camps with adventure aplenty. The sedate leisure traveller will revel in the culture, cuisine and history while more active types can seek physical challenges in the form of hiking, horse riding or desert adventures.


The beautiful island of Sicily has much to brag about. The largest island in the Mediterranean it has been at the crossroads of Europe and Africa for centuries and aside from its scenic diversity boasts a wealth of Greek temples and Norman churches plus archaeological sites and sandy beaches. Grand, historic hotels are the last word in elegance while the stylish cities are attractions all by themselves. It has an enviable climate year round and the cuisine is some of Italy's finest.

Small ship cruising
As cruising continues its upward trajectory, the experts at A&K predict an upturn in small ship cruises across the globe. These tend to be more expeditionary in nature, with fewer passengers, sometimes educational yet also relaxing and culturally enlightening. Some of their favourites are the stylish vessels from Aqua Expeditions which journey on the Peruvian Amazon, the soon-to-be-launched Sanctuary Ananda on Myanmar's Ayeyarwady River and The Jahan which cruises the Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia.


Sri Lanka
Emerging from decades of civil war and rebuilding post-tsunami this idyllic island nation is one of the hottest destinations on the planet. There's something for everyone here with ancient cities, tea plantations and hill stations vying for attention with wildlife, temples and golden beaches. The people are warm and welcoming and it's easy to get around. Its culinary attractions are many and there are World Heritage sites and beautiful boutique hotels in abundance.


To book your A&K itinerary today or to enquire further please contact Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 590 317 or visit www.abercrombiekent.com.au <http://www.abercrombiekent.com.au>


Sunday, October 20, 2013

New cooking workshops in Art of Italian cuisine - at Sasso Queenstown


Queenstown's modern Italian restaurant Sasso is offering food lovers a chance to learn the art of Italian cooking with Executive Chef Sal Grant.

Grant presents "Cucina di Italia" – a series of cooking workshops that allows locals and tourists discover the skills and joy behind cooking authentic Italian cuisine.

Starting fortnightly from July 10, the personalised workshops will be held throughout winter in the historic stone cottage on Queenstown's Church Street where Sasso (Italian for 'stone') is gloriously located.

Grant has worked with New Zealand's finest Italian chefs – including Antonio Crisci of Waiheke Island Poderi Crisci, and Crisci's nephew Sergio Maglione, who owns Auckland's Toto. He also has a vast amount of experience in cooking demonstrations and is known as a warm and engaging presenter.

"I'm passionate about sharing the love of food and I enjoy creating an environment in which people can learn," Grant says.

"At the cooking workshops I'll demonstrate basic and new cooking techniques and discuss recipes. Participants will help prepare the meal and then enjoy it with exactly the right wine in a lovely environment."

Using organic ingredients from Central Otago's finest growers, Grant will show participants how to cook a three-course Italian meal. There'll be the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the state-of-the-art kitchen and the food will be served and matched with wine from Sasso's extensive wine list.

Participants will take home recipes of the prepared dishes and details of where the ingredients can be sourced.

Cooking workshop numbers are limited to 10 people per workshop. Classes run every second Wednesday from July 10. The cost per person is $175. People need to reserve their space by calling Sasso on (03) 409 0994 or emailing info@sasso.co.nz.

Photo caption:

Sasso Executive Chef Sal Grant in Sasso's state-of-the-art kitchen

For more information on workshops, please contact  Sasso's Executive Chef Sal Grant:

Phone +643 409 0994

About Sasso:

Sasso is Queenstown's number one Italian restaurant serving fresh, modern Italian cuisine. Centrally located in the historic stone McNeill's Cottage on Church Street, the elegant restaurant is just metres from the shore of Lake Wakatipu and boasts a Mediterranean-styled courtyard for all-year-round dining. Award-winning executive chef Sal Grant leads Sasso's state-of-the-art kitchen. Delicious, authentic Italian food on Sasso's extensive menu is created using local and Italian produce.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Peru Lures Luxury Travellers From Asia

Exotic Landscape, Rich Heritage and Colourful Culture Offer Luxury Adventure in the Ancient Land of the Incas

From the world famous train journey to the glorious Inca citadel of Machu Picchu to mesmerising pageantry and cruising the majestic Amazon, Peru has been a magnet for adventurous travellers for generations. Yet while 5,000 years of ancient history and astonishing nature beckons at every turn, today this fascinating odyssey exploring South America’s most exotic destination can now be enjoyed in 5-star style.

Luxury hotels are not only near historic monuments – they are part of them, or nestled amid breath-taking scenery once accessible only by arduous hike.

In the capital of Latin cooking, Peru is the birthplace of exotic fusion cuisine, revealed to the world by legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa, from a complex geographic and cultural diversity blending Spanish, indigenous, African and Asian influences with ingredients from the high Andes to the Amazonian jungle.

With 5-star service and comfort amid a kaleidoscope of experiences arousing all five senses, Peru is a luxury travel destination like no other. 

: Tradition and Modernity

La Huaca
Restaurant La Huaca in Miraflores
by Denise Tejada
The capital of Peru is not just a transit point; it is a destination in itself, a melting pot of the country’s gastronomy, culture, art, shopping, architecture and tradition. In the culinary capital of South America, Astrid & Gaston, Malabar and Central rank among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. No fewer than seven Lima restaurants are rated among Latin America’s Top 15.
The ancient capital is a treasure trove of historic architecture, from temples, squares and stately homes that shelter cultural centres and museums to important archaeological sites enhanced for tourism.

Yet Lima is also a modern and cosmopolitan city, beating to a new pulse where the 21st century and Andean cultural traditions meet in an eclectic melting pot of nightlife, theatre, street food, music and exhibitions.

: Empire of the Senses

City of Cusco
by Heinz Plenge Pardo

 Not even the Incas - supreme rulers of the Tahuantinsuyo - could ever have imagined the luxury of their most strategic Andean stronghold today. For Cusco, known by the ancients as the ‘navel of the world’ is a true first-class experience in one of South America’s most popular tourist destinations.
Luxury hotels in historic monasteries and stately Spanish colonial homes; creative restaurants blending the best of Andean ingredients with the finest contemporary gastronomy; and gateway to glorious Machu Picchu and a ‘sacred valley’ – the capital of the Incas is all of this and more.

Deluxe Train to Machu Picchu

Modern-day comfort is the norm these days on the stunning train journey up the Andes to the iconic Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, synonymous with Peru, aboard the luxury train "Hiram Bingham". Named after the tireless explorer who discovered the ruins a century ago, this replica of the Pullman trains from Europe’s ‘golden age’ of travel in the 1920s is a luxury experience for all the senses, from fine Peruvian dining to astonishing views of the landscape en route from an observation wagon.

For a train journey along a track less travelled, the company also operates a luxury train from Cusco to Puno, known as the "Andean Explorer", on another journey recognised as one of the best train rides in the world.

Boutique Luxury in the Sacred Valley

The ‘Sacred Valley’ of the Vilcanota River,  the heartland of the Inca Empire near Cusco, today presents a different face, with first-class tourist services extending from rural tours and gastronomy to well-being spa treatments that leave an indelible mark on the traveler's memory.

: Luxury Amazon

Aqua Cruise
by Gihan Tubbeh
Imagine cruising the longest river on the planet aboard a floating 5-star hotel, voyaging from the source of the Amazon where the Ucayali and Marañon rivers meet, through one of South America’s most beautiful natural reserves, Pacaya-Samiria. The journey is topped with an exquisite gastronomic experience combining the best Amazonian ingredients, against a breathtaking jungle backdrop, viewed from the deck and panoramic cabin windows. It is a real life action film, or nature documentary, for your eyes only.
You breakfast alongside pink dolphins, spend a lazy afternoon observing multicolored birds, with an ice-cold cold drink at hand. Through the balmy night, listen to the thousands of sounds of the jungle, or go on an outing in search of alligators in the black waters!  Visit native shore communities to learn about the lifestyle of their gentle inhabitants, who live on fishing, hunting and small-scale farming, far from what we call civilisation.

Colca: Valley of Wonders

The valley of the Colca River, located at the foot of one of the deepest canyons in the world, is a magical place among the merry, traditional Collagua peoples, heirs to a rich culture famous for embroidery and extraordinary festivals. Here, you can also stroll around colonial villages rich in Andean baroque art, visit the temples of Yanque and Lari, and admire the charasmatic Andean condor - the King of the Mountains – in majestic flight. The hand of man has carved formidable cultivation terraces into the Andes, at Choquetico and Ocolle. Amid it all are unique luxury experiences: beautiful converted farmhouses with thermal spa waters in each room, Andean gastronomy, intense natural encounters, and environmentally friendly hotels and lodges.

Paracas: Comfort by the Sea

The scenic bay of Paracas, neighbouring a National Reserve beside the Pacific, is a seaside retreat of sophisticated accommodation and unique experiences penetrating secrets of both the sea and desert. Imagine sailing towards the Ballestas Islands in a luxury catamaran, with a glass of champagne; or staying overnight in a bespoke campsite set especially for you, amid mystical ancient drawings in the arid dessert; or windsurfing on one of the most breath-taking coasts in the world.

Tambopata: Jungle at your Feet

The buffer zone of the Tambopata National Reserve in the south-eastern jungle of Peru offers the greatest of Amazonian diversity, in close harmony with environmental conservation. Explore scenic Sandoval Lake at dawn, encountering alligators and a myriad of native bird and animal species, and the vibrant pulse of the tropical rainforest. Beneath the rainforest canopy, discover fabulous plants and creatures along a jungle walkway. On return, relax in a hammock with a book, in the midst of absolute tranquillity, as the sun sets on a sparkling starry night.

Spas: Passion for the Body

In many of Peru’s luxury hotels and lodges, spas constitute a core of the trip's experience. Their specialty is Andean treatments, massages, and relaxation and meditation techniques in serene well-being centres that embrace local traditions nurturing body and soul amid majestic vistas.

For further information, visit: http://www.peru.travel/en/ 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Seabreeze Resort the Ultimate Samoan Adults Only Getaway

The award winning 4.5 star Seabreeze Resort is the ultimate in boutique luxury. Gently nestled into a private secluded bay and hidden amongst coconut palms, discover the magic of this adults only resort. Re-opened in July 2011, this unique property provides the ideal romantic getaway for honeymooners and couples or those seeking luxury and intimacy.

“Our dream was to create an oasis where guests can take a step back in time, where the pace is slow and the focus is on exquisite cuisine, personal service, and genuine Samoan hospitality. We want to make guests dreams come true”. Says Wendy Booth, owner, Seabreeze Resort.

Winning accolades around the world since its re-opening Seabreeze has become one of the most sought after resorts for total exclusivity in Samoa.

Seabreeze recently won the Leading Hotel in Samoa at the 2013 World Travel Awards and was named as Tripadvisors "Travellers’ Choice® 2013 Winner". Seabreeze was also voted as a TOP 10 resort in the South Pacific for "Romance & Value" and was awarded a further "Certificate of Excellence" in 2012 and 2013 from Tripadvisor.com. Seabreeze also won the 2012 New Zealand Restaurant Challenge and in 2013 won the award for "Best innovative design and technique” in the same competition.

Seabreeze Resort is situated on Samoa's famous south east coast of Upolu, in the village of Aufaga, and is surrounded by some of the most picturesque tropical landscapes on Upolu. It is 50km from Faleolo International Airport and 35km away from Apia Township.

Seabreeze's 11, spacious air-conditioned villas including the ultimate Honeymoon Point House, all have ocean, lagoon or reef views and are designed to provide guests with a sense of relaxation and tranquillity. With the focus on outdoor living, villas have been designed with a Samoan Flair and furnished and decorated by the best in interior design. Each villa features a private lava rock bathroom, outside deck and large thatched pavilion with outdoor furnishings and a cosy double hammock.

With quality, innovative cuisine and outstanding customer service paramount, Seabreeze Resort offers three dining options. The Waterfront Bar & Restaurant serves a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner and is situated right on the water with unsurpassed lagoon and reef views. Cbreeza Pizzeria serves genuine wood fire breads and pizza with Mediterranean flavours and a pacific flair and Paulini’s Pool Bar serves a variety of food and beverages pool side.

From the time guests wake there is always something to experience at Seabreeze Resort. Relax by the infinity pool while enjoying cocktails, laze on the beach or take a dip within the protection of the pristine lagoon. Enjoy the use of complimentary glass bottom Kayaks and snorkelling equipment to view the beautiful coral and marine life or venture outside the resort for surfing, charter fishing, trekking, golf or visit a nearby beach, blow hole or cave pool.

Seabreeze Resort has a recipe for relaxation, “when hungry you eat, when thirsty you drink, when tired you sleep and be pampered at every opportunity”. With this motto in mind, guests will be treated to a range of totally indulgent and nurturing massages and facials. With the focus on natural, age old techniques handed down through generations, guests will experience treatments unique to Seabreeze.

At Seabreeze Resort romance is intrinsic to the spirit of the resort, so there is no better place to celebrating a wedding, honeymoon or special anniversary. Offering wedding programs from the simplest to the most elaborate of occasions, an experienced wedding coordinator will tailor a ceremony that not only meets individual needs but surpasses their expectations.

Although wedding packages are available, Seabreeze believes no two weddings are exactly the same and will do anything to create the bride and grooms perfect wedding day.

For further information visit www.seabreezesamoa.com

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lüderitz Town, Namibia : History

scenes around Lüderitz (Roderick Eime)

source:  Lüderitz Town Council

Trapped between the desiccating sands of the Namib and the freezing waters of the South Atlantic's Benguela current, Lüderitz is a fascinating old German town, full of character. There is only one road to Lüderitz, and bulldozers battle to keep it open through the shifting sands of the Namib. Meanwhile, on the coast, the beautiful buildings of this historic German town sit unchanged. Lüderitz has an atmosphere all of its own: gentle, relaxed, some say sleepy.

When the German colonial troops surrendered to the South African forces in 1915, a camp for the prisoners of war was set up a few kilometres outside what is now Aus, just off the C13 about 1km south of the B4. At one point 1,552 German POWs were held here by 600 guards. It seems that the German prisoners worked hard to make their conditions more comfortable by manufacturing bricks, building houses and stoves, and cultivating gardens. They eventually even sold bricks to their South African guards.

The camp closed shortly after the end of the war, and little remains of the buildings bar a few ruined huts, although a memorial marks the spot. On a hill 1.3km to the east of town, however, is a small cemetery maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Here lie 61 prisoners of war, and a further 60 members of the garrison, most of them victims of a flu epidemic in 1918.

History of Lüderitz & the Sperrgebiet

Archaeologists estimate that early Stone Age people inhabited the area around the Orange River at least 300,000 years ago, while the presence of rock art indicates that their descendants made their way inland. It wasn't until the 15th century that the first Europeans – Portuguese sailors – arrived here.

Bartholomeu Diaz, the great Portuguese explorer was the first recorded European to visit Lüderitz in 1487. He erected a limestone cross at a point he named Angra Pequena or 'Little Bay' which is now known as Diaz Point. By the mid-1800's whalers, sealers, fishermen and guano collectors were gathering in the area and some had set up bases on the shores.

In May 1883 a German trader, Adolf Lüderitz sailed up from Cape Town, landed at Angra Pequena and ventured inland to Bethanie. He struck a deal with the Nama kaptein Josef Fredericks to buy the bay and 8km around it for £100 and 200 rifles. Two weeks later another deal was struck for the sum of £100 and 60 rifles to extend the area to a 32km-wide coastal belt and the German flag was raised. By August 1884 Britain had agreed that Germany could found its first colony here.

The town slowly grew and became a very important base for the German Schutztruppe during their war with the Nama people in 1904-07. The diamond boom started in 1908 when the first rough diamond was picked up. Deposits were found all over the coastal region and around Lüderitz which prompted the German colonial government to proclaim the Sperrgebiet or 'forbidden zone' to restrict further prospecting. The town became the base for the diamond mining operations, which became monopolised by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer's Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM) after he obtained options on many of the German mining companies. This was the forerunner for the current NAMDEB which has a 50% government ownership. The headquarters of CDM was moved to Oranjemund in 1943 which started the decline of the town. Today tourism, fishing and some diamond diving are what keeps the town alive.

Around Lüderitz town

View over town and port of Luderitz
Around the centre of town, houses are painted in improbable pastel shades, which makes Lüderitz feel like a delightful toy town at times. The air here is tangibly clean, even on the foggiest of mornings. Local Namibians say that Lüderitz can have all four seasons in a day, as the weather can change in hours from bright, hot and sunny, to strong winds, to dark, cold and foggy – and then back to sunshine again. This variation, together with a cold sea and the prevailing southwest wind, rule out Lüderitz as a beach destination, though brave souls still take brief dips from the beach near the Nest Hotel or round on the peninsula.

In the evenings, there are a few lively bars, and a handful of quiet restaurants, notable for their seafood. But the entertainment here pales in comparison with Swakopmund. Because of its location, Lüderitz is not somewhere to 'drop in on' as you need to make a special journey to come here – but it's worth visiting for its architecture, its peninsula, and to see a part of Namibia which seems almost unaware of the outside world.. If you choose to visit the area, allow a minimum of two nights to appreciate it, and to see its surrounds properly. Try to avoid Sundays and public holidays, though, when almost everything closes down, and the town is empty.

Tourism is having an impact here, but only gradually. Although several new hotels and guesthouses opened their doors in the years following independence, there's a marked downturn in the town's economy, offset only partly by visiting cruise ships. Even the trendy new waterfront development near the harbour is looking a little tired. On the plus side, use of the harbour as the export base for the Skorpion zinc mine near Rosh Pinah has brought considerable new business into the town. Investment in the town's infrastructure is also ongoing, with plans to develop the old power station near the Nest Hotel – including a maritime museum, craft market and sports facilities – finally coming to fruition.

The Diamond Boom

Kolmanskop, or 'Kolman's hill', was originally a small hill named after a delivery rider, Kolman, who used to rest his horses there.

In April 1908, Zacharias Lewala was working nearby when he picked a rough diamond from the ground. He took this to his German foreman, August Stauch, who posted a claim to the area, and then got the backing of several of the railway's directors to start prospecting. Stauch exhibited some of his finds in June 1908, prompting an immediate response: virtually everybody who could rushed into the desert to look for diamonds. Famously, in some places they could be picked up by the handful in the moonlight.

This first large deposit at Kolmanskop lay in the gravel of a dry riverbed, so soon a mine and a boomtown developed there. Deposits were found all over the coastal region, all around Lüderitz. Quickly, in September 1908, the German colonial government proclaimed a Sperrgebiet – a forbidden zone – to restrict further prospecting, and to license what was already happening.

Between 1908 and the start of World War I over 5 million carats of diamonds were found, but the war disrupted production badly. At the end of it Sir Ernest Oppenheimer obtained options on many of the German mining companies for South Africa's huge Anglo American Corporation, joining ten of them into Consolidated Diamond Mines (CDM) of South West Africa. In 1922–23 CDM obtained exclusive diamond rights for 50 years over a coastal belt 95km wide, stretching 350km north of the Orange River, from the new South African administrators of South West Africa. These were later extended to the year 2010, allowing NAMDEB to control the country's diamond production for 20 years following independence. Although these rights have now theoretically lapsed, the government is a 50% shareholder in the business, and little has changed.

Meanwhile many small towns like Kolmanskop were flush with money. It had a butcher's, a baker's and a general shop; a large theatre, community hall and school; factories for furniture, ice, lemonade and soda water; a hospital with the region's first X-ray machine; comfortable staff quarters, elaborate homes for the managers – and a seawater pool fed by water pumped from 35km away. Yet Kolmanskop was fortunate: it was next to the main railway line. Often deposits were less accessible, far from water or transport – and many such early mines still lie half-buried in the Namib.

Flora & fauna of the Sperrgebiet

Lack of human intervention within most of the Sperrgebiet for almost a century has left a remarkable diversity of wildlife. Plants, in particular, have thrived, with over a thousand species identified: almost a quarter of Namibia's total, qualifying the Sperrgebiet as one of the world's top 34 biodiversity hotspots. Many of these are succulents that bring bursts of colour to the desert during the rainy season.

A total of 215 bird species have been identified within the park as a whole, many of them congregating at its southern edge, in the wetlands at the mouth of the Orange River. The authorities claim that 80 mammals live within the park confines, including the solitary brown hyena, and a further 38 marine mammals off shore.

retrieved 17 Oct 2012
from http://www.luderitztowncouncil.com.na/history.php
which was offline as at 27 Sept 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Azamara to Explore Australia for the First Time

Azamara Club Cruises opened reservations on its 2015 program that includes the line's first voyages in Australia. The 2015 lineup is composed of 52 five- to 18-night itineraries that will visit 203 ports in 62 countries. The Azamara Quest will sail Asia voyages in the spring and winter seasons. In late December, Azamara Quest will sail from the Bali Sea on a 14-night holiday and New Year's voyage to Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. The ship will make maiden calls at Puerto Princesa, Philippines, and Thursday Island and Darwin, Australia, as well as at Great Barrier Reef destinations Cooktown, Port Douglas and Cairns, Australia.

In spring 2015, Azamara Journey will sail 11- to 18-night voyages throughout Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, the Antarctic Sound, Panama Canal and West Indian islands. One voyage overnights at Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, and Azamara offers for sale seating in the stands of the sambadrome for the samba school competition.

Azamara Quest will sail the Baltic, North and Mediterranean seas on seven- to 18-night itineraries while Azamara Journey will explore the Spanish, French and Italian rivieras, the Adriatic and Black seas, and Greek Isles on seven- to 16-night itineraries.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Singapore Grand Prix Circuit at night

Amazing aerial shot of the Singapore GP circuit (Stuart Sykes)

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For a limited time and for our founder readers we are offering a complimentary membership package (normally $49). For full details, see:


Monday, September 16, 2013

A Touch of Thai Welcomes Guests at Anantara's First Luxury Dubai Beach Resort

Greetings from Anantara,

Picture this – you've just woken up on the powdery white sand after drifting off to the waves gently lapping against the shore on your very own private beach.  You head back to your over water villa passing stunning lagoons with floating market boats selling fresh coconuts, a three wheeled tuk tuk passes in the distance………

This could be a tropical island paradise off the coast of Thailand but it's actually in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world – welcome to Anantara's brand new property, Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort and Spa.

The Thai inspired beach resort is located on the iconic Palm Jumeirah and offers a range of unique features such as the Middle East's first Over Water Villas, a 400 metre long private beach along with Anantara Spa offering traditional Thai massage.  In keeping with Anantara's indigenous offerings the resort also infuses local culture through the resorts heritage area where such guests can learn about Dubai's early pearl-diving history, the authentic Middle Eastern cuisine served at one of the six dining experiences as well as through a wide range of Anantara Experiences such as offering guests an adrenaline-pumping dune safari ending with a traditional Arabic banquet in a Bedouin-style desert camp.

Sounds too good to be true! For more information on our latest resort please find attached the press release along with a few pictures for your consideration.

Visit us online at:
anantara.com | avanihotels.com | oakshotelsresorts.com | peraquum.com | elewanacollection.com 


Fresh water kaleidoscopes at Nkwichi Lodge, Lake Malawi

The section of lake in front of Lake Malawi is perfect for fresh water snorkelling
Nkwichi, on the wild, Mozambican, side of Lake Malawi, has some of the best snorkeling Lake Malawi (or Niassa from the Mozambican side) has to offer and here's why …...

With such a pristine, natural environment, the water on the Mozambique side of the lake is crystal-clear and free from any pollution. Nkwichi sits on its most remote and untouched section, away from villages and rivers. The water is so pure that visibility can be up to 30 metres at some times of the year.

There are an estimated 600-1000 species of fish in Lake Malawi, more than North America and Europe combined! Many are endemic to tiny tracts of the lakeshore, and the variety is a visual spectacle in the stretch alongside Nkwichi. The WWF, which opened Mozambique's first freshwater reserve here, called the lake, 'The most bio-diverse lake in the world'.

Unlike many other beaches on Lake Malawi, which can have a steep drop-off into the water, Nkwichi has a gentle incline making it great for submerging at any level of comfort. Perfect for paddlers and children!

Nkwichi is situated on one of the most dramatic parts of the Rift Valley. The same geological conditions which make the sand the softest on the lake (and also how Nkwichi got it's name), also created an underwater wonderland of cragged canyons, megalithic monoliths and indomitable boulders.

All of Nkwichi's experienced guides are from the local Nyanja tribe (meaning 'People of the Lake') and feel as much at home on and in the water as on land. Leading Nkwichi's unique snorkel safaris, they'll help uncover the secrets of life beneath the surface of this magical place.

Nkwichi Lodge is also a proud member of The Mozambique Collection.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Deserted Places: Hotels and Resorts

Travelling around the world I sometimes encounter these forlorn structures. Some were once bursting with life and history, others were never even opened and abandoned before seeing their first guests.

Ryu-Gyong Hotel (markpanama)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Struth! Eat, Drink and be Merry – For Tomorrow We Diet.

Inline images 1

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says as if we don't already put on enough weight on a cruise holiday, Australia's boutique cruise ship Orion is planning 7-nights from Brisbane to Auckland in December that will replace much of its traditional sightseeing, excursions and culture with eating and drinking.

Australian chef and author of Sicilian heritage, Dominique Rizzo will run cooking workshops highlighting the use of freshest seasonal produce, while also inspiring creativity to improve health and build your confidence in the kitchen, and New Zealand winemaker Tony Bish will host wine tastings, and talk about wine varieties and styles including bourgeoning  Sauvignon Blanc and the emerging super-premium wine growing district of Gimblett Gravels on New Zealand's Hawke's Bay.

And Queensland-based cheese-maker, Markus Bucher whose family moved to Australia from Switzerland will share his specialised knowledge of Swiss- and Greek-style cheeses as well as yoghurt making – again together with tastings – and also discuss various Australian cheese types with comparative tastings.

Little wonder Orion says of this 7-night cruise Eat, Drink And Be Merry – For Tomorrow We Diet.

Orion departs Brisbane on December 13 this year and will have a day each at Norfolk Island and New Zealand's Russell and Robertson Islands in the Bay of Islands, before ending the cruise in Auckland; with current savings of up to 40% off brochure fares, prices begin from $3,735pp twin-share in an ocean-view stateroom. Details travel agents or free-call 1300 361 012.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Abroad with a brush - an exhibition of works by Janet Duff

Abroad with a brush

an exhibition of works by Janet Duff
September 7th - October 25th
Opening Saturday 7th September

Drinks with the artist 3-5pm.
83 old Bells of Line Road, Kurrajong Village
ph: 4573 0988

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