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

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