Wednesday, 30 November 2016

MACAO SHINES SPOTLIGHT ON FESTIVE SEASON

Macao Light Festival
Macao is readying itself to roll out the red carpet and reach for the stars at a number of colourful festivals and family events leading up and during the 2016 festive season.

Set for the limelight from December 8-13 is the inaugural International Film Festival and Awards where a series of films from Asia and beyond in Europe and South America will be screened with key international movie directors among the VIP guests.

Other exciting events to grab the spotlight in the former Portuguese enclave include:
  • Macao Light Festival 2016 - Treasure of Light (December 4-31), Macao’s version of Sydney’s annual Vivid where many of the streets, lanes, squares and historic buildings are the focus of video mapping projections, glittering light installations, interactive games as well as a music and light shows.
  • Parade through Macao – Latin City (Sunday, December 4), a colourful Sunday evening street parade which celebrates the 17th anniversary of Macao’s Handover to China. The parade takes the classic Chinese text Classic of Mountains and Sea. 
  • Macao Galaxy Entertainment International Marathon (Sunday, December 4), where local runners take on international challengers across three distances – 42km marathon, the half marathon and a mini marathon (about 5kms) 
  • Macau Shopping Festival (December 3-31), a bargain hunter’s delight there many stores of Macao - large and small - take part in an expanded shopping festival, complete with lucky draws and giveaways.

The aim of the film festival and awards – organised by the Macao Government Tourism Office - will be to raise awareness and promote the various aspects of Chinese-language, East Asian and international cinema in all its forms.

“In addition, the festival may include retrospectives and tributes to major figures as a contribution towards raising awareness of the history of cinema,” said Helen Wong, general manager of the MGTO (Australia and New Zealand).

“This will be an exciting festival, not only for film lovers and the film industry, but for Macao which has played the major role as a movie set for many decades,” she said. “The most recent movie shot in Macao was ‘Now You See Me: The Second Act’ which starred Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson and Daniel Radcliffe, to name a few, and made it to the big screen earlier this year.”

One of the IFFAM Festival Ambassadors is leading Hong Kong director Johnnie To, who has been involved in the film production of over 100 films, movies “Eighth Happiness” and “Justice! My Foot!” being among his works.

The opening film will be Polina, a French/Russian film which focuses on a promising classic dancer who is about to join the prestigious Bolchoï Ballet only to discover contemporary dance. It stars Anastasia Shevtsova and Niels Schneider.

Parade through Macao
The festival - http://www.iffamacao.com/en/ - will be highlighted by a number of industry screenings, major awards and workshops. 

Prepared by: Macao Government Tourism Office, phone (02) 9264 1488 or www.visitmacao.com.au or www.macaotourism.gov.mo

‘Room boom’ set to change face of Australian hotel sector

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
A hotel building boom is set to change the face of Australia’s hotel industry, with some 120 hotel projects in the pipeline, which will grow the accommodation stock by 30% between 2016 and 2021.

This year saw Australia pass the 100,000 room mark and it is forecast that over 4000 rooms will be added in 2017, and 5000 rooms in 2018, transforming every capital city across the country with new properties ranging from 500+-room internationally branded luxury properties to intimate boutique hotels.

To overcome the lack of land in cities and high cost of construction, hotel developers have become savvy, often converting existing buildings to hotel use. For instance, the stylish QT Hotel in Melbourne was created out of the owner’s Greater Union cinemas on Russell Street, while the art-deco Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board building in Sydney’s Pitt Street now has a far more salubrious role as the city’s newest 5-star hotel, the Primus.

The last time Australia saw such increases in hotel accommodation was prior to the 2000 Olympics, when there was growth of 7,500 rooms between 1998 and 2000, but the room boom was followed by a dramatic bust, with faltering international and domestic economic conditions, wars and airline collapses all contributing to the downturn.

On this occasion, Australia’s peak accommodation body, Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) believes that a unique combination of circumstances will not only soak up the supply but enable Australia to attract a vast new audience of high-end tourists, business travellers, and conference and incentive groups.

Chair of TAA, Martin Ferguson, was Minister for Tourism in 2010, when he announced Australia’s Tourism 2020 goals. The addition of 40,000 new rooms over the decade was identified as a crucial ingredient in achieving the targets set for the industry.

“We recognised at the start of the decade that we needed to significantly revitalise and rejuvenate the tourism industry’s infrastructure and upgrading hotel stock was a key priority,” said Mr Ferguson.

“With almost double digit growth in visitor arrivals – particularly from China – we are well on the way to achieving our visitor targets, and this growth will be sustainable in the long term with such high quality new accommodation being added across the country, complemented by major infrastructure projects such as airports, convention centres and urban redevelopment.”

Mr Ferguson said the turning point for Australia was 2014, with the mining cities – Perth, Adelaide, Darwin and Brisbane – the first to see a revival interest from hotel developers, with 10,000 rooms added since then. And while the resources sector may have plateaued, international and domestic leisure tourism has largely filled the vacuum, with governments investing heavily in tourism infrastructure to ensure the momentum is maintained.

In Western Australia, the Premier has added the role of Tourism Minister, and under his watch the city centre is being transformed. Como The Treasury was created out of a former heritage government building, while a 120 room Peppers Hotel has just opened in the city centre, along with the re-launched Holiday Inn Perth City Centre, following a $25 million upgrade.

In 2017, new hotels will include an InterContinental, Doubletree by Hilton, and the first Aloft hotel in Australia. In the lead up to 2020, Westin and QT hotels are scheduled along with a Ritz Carlton in the Elizabeth Quay urban regeneration project.

Brisbane’s hotel scene hasn’t seen the current level of construction since the the city prepared to hold World Expo in 1988. Between 2016 and 2019, the city will absorb over 3000 new rooms (a 30% addition), transforming the city’s hotel landscape.

Already this year, 1000 new rooms have been added, including Ibis, Rydges, Mantra, the Art Series and Swiss Belhotel, and between 2017 – 2019, brands such as Holiday Inn Express. W, Adina, Westin, Peppers, Novotel and Emporium will add a further 2000 rooms.

Airports have become a central point for hotel development, transforming ‘one-night only’ precincts into ‘aerocity’ destinations in their own right. Sydney Airport saw a 5-star Pullman open this year, Brisbane will get new Pullman and Ibis hotels next year, the opening of the Vibe hotel at Canberra Airport was followed by the start of international air services to Canberra, and Adelaide and Perth airports have plans for new hotels.

Queensland’s coastal destinations such as Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Cairns are experiencing some of the highest occupancy increases in the country on the back of record-breaking international and domestic leisure business. The Gold Coast has close to 500 rooms scheduled to open in the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, including a 6-star addition to Jupiters and Wanda Dalian Group’s A$1 billion Jewel towers project. Westin announced a new resort on the Sunshine Coast, which has just been added to Australia’s international airport network.

Darwin may have suffered most of all by the resources slow down, but new hotel supply has led to the renaissance of leisure tourism to the Top End, with a proposal for a new 5-star Westin highlighting the optimism.

In Canberra, the launch of a collection of style-driven boutique hotels – such as Hotel Hotel, Realm and Little National – has underpinned the national capital’s ‘hip’ new image.

Adelaide has attracted a new wave of hotels catering for upmarket travellers visiting for the city’s food, arts, events and sport, with the re-developed Adelaide Oval a major catalyst for tourism growth.

Holiday Inn Express is scheduled to open in 2017, while at the top end of the spectrum, Sheraton and Sofitel hotels are expected to launch in the following two years. Out of town, Mantra will manage the $40 million Wallaroo Shores Resort when it opens on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula in the second half of 2017. The 100 room resort is part of a $220 development that aims to establish Wallaroo as a premium beachside destination.

Tasmania has enjoyed some of the strongest increases in leisure travel in recent years, built on what is being termed the ‘MONA effect’ – the influence of the uber-trendy Museum of Old and New Art. Such has been in its impact on tourism that owner David Walsh has proposed a new 160 room hotel cheekily dubbed HOtelMOna, which would also contain a function centre and spa.

The opening this month of Sydney’s International Convention Centre has signalled an unparalleled revolution in the city’s hotel stock, after a ‘drought’ that followed the 2000 Olympics.

Already $2.3 billion worth of hotel projects – and 3000 rooms – have been approved for the Sydney city area, with a further $1.9 billion of projects proposed and in advanced stages of planning.

A focal point for the dramatic hotel growth is Darling Harbour, where one of the largest new hotel developments in over 20 years – the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour – will open in the final quarter of 2017, while the $700 million Ribbon Hotel and Residences project (which will include a W Hotel) is under construction on the former IMAX site.

On the city side of Darling Harbour, Australia’s largest hotel – the Four Points by Sheraton – is adding 222 rooms to increase its inventory to 892 rooms, while also rebranding to Hyatt Regency

Hotel development has also extended to the Greater Sydney region with Parramatta and western Sydney expected to receive up to ten new hotels, including pioneering 5-star hotels, and there has been significant new hotel development in Bondi, at Sydney Airport Macquarie Park and Chatswood over the past year.

One of the most exciting aspects of Sydney’s hotel revolution has been the diversity of hotel projects, with the wave of new internationally-branded 5-star hotels complemented by a collection of personality-driven boutique hotels such as the Old Clare at Central Park, QT in Bondi, Hotel Harry in Surry Hills, and Hotel Palisade adjacent to Barangaroo. They will be joined in 2017 by a Spicers Retreats hotel, which is being created out of three terraces in Victoria Street, Potts Point.

Melbourne has been the one city in Australia to see constant growth in hotel rooms over the past decade, on the back of its highly successful events strategy, population growth and vibrant economy.

The development pipeline is continuing with over 5000 rooms under construction or planned in the five years to 2021, starting with a Four Points by Sheraton opening in March 2017, followed by W and Ritz Carlton hotels in 2018.

“There has never been a stronger vote of confidence in the Australian hotel industry than what we are seeing currently,” said TAA Chair, Martin Ferguson.

“Investment in hotel development is coming from around the world, with China one of the leading sources of finance because Australia has proven to be a safe and reliable country for both their tourists and investors.

“It has been important to get the fundamentals right to ensure the boom is sustainable. That has meant having tourism infrastructure in place such as new and upgraded airport precincts, new convention centres and stadia, along with expanded airline schedules, free trade agreements and a lower Australian dollar. All of these fundamentals are in place, and we are already seeing the benefits.

“There may be excess hotel capacity in some cities in the short-term, but this will be to the benefit of travellers through greater availability, and the increased capacity will enable cities to compete for large conferences, exhibitions and events.

“What is so encouraging about this record-breaking phase is that the projects range from luxury international brand names to intimate boutique hotels traversing a vast range of styles and price points. It counters any arguments for additional stock by unregulated commercial short-term accommodation operators, who have exploited grey legislative areas to establish quasi hotels in CBDs and other tourist hot-spots.

“The hotel and tourism sector is leading the way in the Australian economy in delivering economic and jobs growth, and we will be looking to governments to maintain their support for the industry by promoting tourism and conferences, encouraging employment and training in the industry, and cracking down on commercial unregulated short-term accommodation.”

5 Reasons Yukon Should Be Your Next Family Holiday

More and more Aussie parents are choosing to take their kids off the beaten track during school holidays, seeking wilderness adventures and cultural experiences for an unforgettable family vacation. Here are five reasons why Canada's Yukon Territory ticks all the boxes.

1. With almost 5000 kilometres of scenic highways, Yukon serves up the ultimate family road trip. Hire an RV and traverse the endless wilderness and epic mountain ranges. The kids will love being intrepid explorers and you'll love the stunning tranquillity of this northern Canadian territory where the sun hardly sets during summer.

2. The whole family will get a buzz out of historic Dawson City, a place that's more like a movie set than a township, with its historic buildings and wooden boardwalks, amidst beautiful scenery. Learn about the Klondike Gold Rush days when 100,000 prospectors came to chase dreams of gold in 1898. Try your hand at gold panning – a memorable family activity!

3. Spend a summer's day hiking and picnicking on one of Yukon's iconic trails around the capital city of Whitehorse, affectionately referred to as the Wilderness City. Check out the kids programs and free guided hikes at Miles Canyon or go further afield to Kluane National Park.

4. Spend the morning horse riding just outside Whitehorse – no experience necessary! Later, go for a splash at the natural Takhini Hot Springs, the perfect end to another spectacular day of family adventures in Yukon.

5. Winter in Yukon is like another world. The kids will never forget sliding across a frozen lake on a sled strapped to a team of frisky dogs, and you'll always remember snuggling up together, sipping hot chocolate under the night sky as it shimmers and dances with glorious northern lights.

Getting there
Yukon's capital city of Whitehorse is just 2.5 hours by air from Vancouver, accessible with year-round daily commercial service. Car or RV hire services and fully guided tour packages are available from Whitehorse. Air Canada flies daily to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane.

For more information see www.travelyukon.com.

MCEC’s Anne Jamieson appointed Meetings & Events Australia Chair

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s (MCEC) Director of Customer Experience and Optimisation, Anne Jamieson was last night named Chair of the Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) Board.

Announced at MEA’s Annual General Meeting, the new Board consists of a diverse range of meetings and events professionals who will guide the organisation in 2017 and into the future.
  • Chair: Anne Jamieson, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
  • Vice Chair: Ian Whitworth, Scene Change
  • Treasurer: Susan Ryman-Kiernan, Wise Connections
  • Directors: Kate Smith, Waldron Smith Management & Alana Hay, Milestone Creative Pty Ltd

With over 30 years of experience in the meetings and events industry and a MEA Board member since 2010, Ms Jamieson brings a wealth of knowledge to the MEA Board and will play an instrumental role in reinvigorating and growing the organisation over the coming years.

“The role of the Board is incredibly important and the next few years are critical to MEA as an organisation,” Ms Jamieson said.

“Our first step is to refine our strategic plan for the next one, three and five years, ensuring that we work on behalf of MEA members to actively drive revenue and deliver the right outcomes for our industry.”

“I look forward to working closely with MEA Chief Executive Officer, Robyn Johnson and the Board to support our stakeholders and to ensure that MEA is seen as the peak body for the meetings and events industry,” Ms Jamieson added.

Family Fun Package at The Arch London

The Arch London is the perfect place for families to stay whilst exploring the vibrant capital city. Taking advantage of its unrivalled location and child-friendly amenities, The Arch London has devised the ultimate family package starting at £390 per night.

Little ones will be treated to an indulgent VIP experience throughout their stay with a host of family amenities. On arrival children will be gifted with a speciality Archie Bear. There will also be special children's bathroom products and children's sized bathrobes, slippers and clothes hangers waiting in their rooms. There is a large toy box filled with toys for children to enjoy, as well as books for bedtime stories or to explore in the hotel's Martini Library with complimentary cookies and milk.

Families can refuel and recharge at the hotel's stylish restaurant Hunter 486, as young children will dine complimentary with their parents during their stay. Children's sized cutlery is provided and colouring books will be on hand to keep them entertained whilst parents can sit back and relax.

Each morning the whole family will be treated to a complimentary English breakfast before setting off to explore the city. The family package accommodates up to three guests per room but connecting rooms are available on request. Special night lights, Baby cots and rollaway beds are provided complimentary in the guestrooms.

Located a stone's throw from Hyde Park, the West End and London's top attractions, a stay at The Arch London is guaranteed to keep the family entertained.

The Arch London, 50 Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch, London W1H 7FD
For reservations, please call: 020 7724 4700 or www.thearchlondon.com

Generation Camp: How camping became cool again

From pop up glamping tents on Sydney Harbour to luxury holiday parks and retro caravans, caravan and camping holidays have come a long way, with the sector now catering for a new generation of campers.

With a number of innovative tourism products and services attracting the next-gen camper, many in close proximity to beautiful beaches, national parks and pristine environments, NSW has some of the best, and most diverse, caravan and camping experiences in Australia.

Whether you fall into the “generation camp” demographic or are an experienced camper looking for something new, here are six ways to enjoy a caravan and camping experience in NSW over the warmer months:

1. Camp in a flash

Touted as ‘Australia’s premier pop-up hotel’, Flash Camp provide temporary luxury camping accommodation in a number of locations. Available at festivals including Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival, the Flash Camp crew have also announced two exciting activations over the summer months. In early 2017, Flash Camp will hold a Clark Island Sydney Harbour pop up, where glampers will enjoy waking up in the middle of beautiful Sydney Harbour and feast on food by the award-winning Three Blue Ducks team. Byron beachgoers will also have the opportunity to flash, with Flash Camp setting up at the Byron Holiday Park from 18 December 2016 – 8 January 2017 to support the boom of tourists over the holiday period. The team from popular Newrybar eatery Harvest will be on site each day to keep glampers’ hunger at bay

2. All roads lead to Forbes

Looking for the ultimate roadtrip/music festival combo this Spring? Forbes music festival Vanfest, from 25 – 26 November 2016 is just the ticket. A five and a half hour drive from Sydney, we recommend hiring a Jucy or Apollo motorhome and splitting the roadtrip over two days with pit stops in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, Orange and “The Dish” in Parkes. Once at Vanfest, you needn’t worry about accommodation being an issue with their Van-City offering a range of camping experiences including freestyle, lights-on, lights-off, pre-pitched and glamping. Holiday parks in town include BIG4 Forbes Holiday Park and Forbes River Meadow Caravan Park

3. The Glamp Coast

If you’re planning on travelling to the South Coast this Summer, then glamping should be on your radar. With a plethora of glamping operators now available down South, you’ll find it hard to choose. Tilba Lake Camp offer luxe camping with delicious local food hampers including Bermagui bread and Tilba dairy. Glamping Out Caravans offer 4m bell tents at your chosen “Glampsite” anywhere between Berry and Huskisson. Glamping trailblazers Paperbark Camp provide the ultimate luxury glamping experience, and for a safari tent experience then you can’t go past Tanja Lagoon Camp located in the beautiful Mimosa Rocks National Park

4. Go Retro

The Northern Rivers of NSW is the ultimate campground, offering stunning scenery surrounded by hinterland and endless coastline. RetroPod camping offer retro vintage caravans and tents for hire, which can be set up at a location of your choice in the Byron area. With set up, delivery, and gourmet Byron hampers provided, you’ll just need to choose a Byron Holiday Park and you’ll be ready to go retro

5. Simple Pleasures

The Simple Pleasures Camping Co take the hassle out of camping. Offering all-inclusive glamping packages, your five metre bell tent will come complete with carpet, an airbed, cookware and much more. In fact, the only decision you’ll need to make is where to set up camp – be it Treachery Camp in Seal Rocks, Lani’s Holiday Island at Wallis Lake, Bluey’s Beach or Booti Booti National Park

6. I’m going to Graceland

Graceland, Parkes NSW that is. A dedicated Graceland on the Green campsite will be available for festival-goers at the iconic Parkes Elvis Festival from 11-15 January 2017. With accommodation scarce over the festival, Graceland on the Green will offer comfortable tent accommodation at Northparkes Oval, complete with stretcher beds, mattresses and lighting. Regular shuttles will connect festival goers between Graceland on the Green and the festivals events.

5 Ways Yukon's Dawson City Will Surprise You

Known as the town that froze in time, Canada's Dawson City in Yukon Territory resembles a movie set, with its elaborate dance halls, wooden boardwalks, and historic buildings harking back to the late 1800s, when 100,000 prospectors sought their fortunes during the Klondike Gold Rush.

While the thrill of gold-panning and turn of the century architecture is to be expected in this town of fewer than 2000 residents, you'll be surprised by the incredible outdoor adventures and inspiring cultural landmarks found in this unique destination. Here are five Dawson City experiences not-to-be-missed.

1. Diamond Tooth Gertie's

Canada's oldest casino, embodies the wagering spirit and friendly hospitality of the Klondike period. Complete with can-can dancers in full costume and an illustrious singing master of ceremonies, visitors to Gertie's can enjoy a drink, play blackjack, roulette, Texas Hold'em Poker, and relive the gold rush hey days in this 1901 turn-of-the-century building.

2. An hour's drive from Dawson City is the rugged Tombstone Territorial Park

with its permafrost topography and stunning carpets of tundra. Spend a day hiking through the diverse ecosystem and be humbled by this astounding wilderness. Don't miss the excellent exhibits at the Interpretive Centre, describing flora, fauna, the region's geological science and First Nations culture, along with first-hand hiking tips from experienced staff. Can't tear yourself away from Dawson? Take advantage of 24 hours of sunlight during summer and hike the hills surrounding the township. Make your way to the Midnight Dome, for panoramic views of Dawson and beyond.

3. Dawson City has more than its fair share of famous authors. 

Step into the world of literary giants, Jack London, Pierre Berton and Robert Service. Get inspired by the adventurous Jack London, famous for his legendary short stories and books set during the Klondike Gold Rush (The Call of the Wild and White Fang) at Jack London's Cabin and Interpretive Centre. Next stop: the rustic Robert Service Cabinpays tribute to a man whose poetry greatly contributed to the history of the Klondike era. Known as the Bard of the Yukon, the colourful verses of Robert Service brought the Klondike experience alive for millions around the world and put the Canadian North on the map.

4. Take a walk on the wild side at Yukon's only restored brothel, Bombay Peggy's

Choose from the elaborate martini menu or kick back with a micro-brewed beer, and enjoy the live music. Spend the night at the quaint inn and soak up the ambience created by the Victorian décor, antique furnishings, and contemporary art adorning the walls.

5. Dawson City is the halfway point for the annual Yukon Quest

an epic sled dog endurance race spanning two weeks and 1600 kilometres between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska. Plan your stay for early February to witness the race, and meet the dog mushers and their hard working canines during the stopover in Dawson City. Want more? Visit Canada's first and largest dog mushing museum at Slow Rush Kennels and experience a guided winter dog mushing tour. Feel the power of 12 sled dogs as they drive you through snow-laden Yukon bush trails and across the frozen Yukon River.

Visit the Klondike Visitors' Association at www.dawsoncity.ca

Getting there

Drive or bus 525 kilometres from Yukon's capital city of Whitehorse to Dawson City (approx. six hours).
Fly one hour to Dawson City via Whitehorse with Air North, Yukon's airline.
Car or RV hire services and fully guided tour packages to Dawson are available from Whitehorse.
Whitehorse is just 2.5 hours by air from Vancouver, accessible with year-round daily commercial service. Air Canada flies daily to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane. 

For more information see www.travelyukon.com.

It's a Sizzling Hot Crystal Blue Summer at QT Gold Coast

Gold Coast design hotel, QT Gold Coast will have you cruising into the weekend in style with the launch of a new experiential package, Crystal Blue Summers.

In a unique collaboration, QT Gold Coast has partnered with the new Crystal Blue Yacht Charters to deliver a spectacular and iconic accommodation experience, soaking up the best the Gold Coast has to offer.

Guests will discover the Gold Coast's world famous waterways aboard the luxurious 80ft vessel designed by renowned Super Yacht Designer, Sam Sorgiovanni.

Departing Marina Mirage every Friday from 4.50pm, you'll be sipping Champagne and taking in the breathtaking Gold Coast sunset in style before heading back to QT Gold Coast at 6pm for a drink at the iconic Stingray Lounge.

The weekend escape doesn't end there as guests will stay the night in one of the QT Dream Beds and rise refreshed with the award-winning breakfast on offer at Bazaar's interactive marketplace restaurant.

QT Gold Coast is renowned for bespoke experiences, and teaming up with Crystal Blue Yacht Charters is just another unique way to uncover premier and memorable experiences within this vibrant city.

Priced from $365 per room, per night, the Crystal Blue Summers at QT package includes:
  • Overnight accommodation on a Friday night,
  • Welcome cocktails at Stingray Lounge,
  • Sunset Cruise with Crystal Blue Yacht Chartersincluding a glass of bubbly or beer departing Marina Mirage Berth every Friday at 4.50pm and returns at 6pm, and
  • Breakfast for two at Bazaar Restaurant. 

Bookings are essential can be made by heading online to https://www.qthotelsandresorts.com/gold-coast/promotions/crystal-blue-summers-at-qt/.

Culinary Diversity of India

Indian cuisine ranks among the top five popular cuisines in the world. It is judged as the most diverse, the diversity in food being almost in direct proportion to the nation's diversity in geography, language, customs and culture. This notion inspired India Tourism Sydney and Australia India Travel & Tourism Council (AITTC) in partnership with Wendy Wu Tours, one of Australia's leading tour operators to India to present to a selected audience from the industry some samples of India's culinary diversity.

So on 23 November evening, one of Sydney's most elegant, waterfront Indian restaurant Manjit became the centre stage of showcasing India's culinary diversity.

Over 75 guests comprising of travel agents, airlines, hotelliers and industry personalities dominating the India- Australia tourism spectrum watched a video clipping from Saransh Goila, a celebrity chef in India, heard from B. Vanlalvawna Indian Consul General Sydney, Kanchan Kurkeja Director India Tourism Sydney and Laura Cuthbert from Wendy Wu Tours, learnt about Indian food experience from journalist Fiona Caulfield and traditional Indian cuisine from celebrity chef Sandeep Chatterjee and picked up knowlegde on modern trends in Indian eats from Manjit's chef de cuisine, Varun Gujral while tickling taste buds with several dishes from various regions of India, specially prepared for the evening.

According to AITTC Chairman Sandip Hor, the idea behind this initiative is simple and straight forward. Its to pass on enhanced knowledge about Indian cuisine and to motivate Australians, who love Indian food like rest of the world does, to visit India and experience a pleasing encounter with variety of food while savouring others touristic charms of the vast nation.

The goal of AITTC is to facilitate growth in bilateral tourism. As a part of their Know India Better program, the organisation in partnership with India Tourism has earlier hosted similar events specifically focussed on Festivals, Wildlife, Yoga and Medical Tourism in India.

SYDNEY TRANSFORMED BY ITS URBAN GREEN SPACES

Sydney’s newest developments are transforming the already picturesque city into one of the world’s best public park and green space urban centres.

While the city is home to 188 hectares of parklands, new parklands and green spaces are continuing to boost the Sydney’s green footprint.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said, “Sydney is a global leader in providing visitors and locals with vibrant and enticing urban green spaces that they can embrace and enjoy.

“New urban developments like Barangaroo Reserve, the Goods Line and Central Park are transforming some of the city’s oldest industrial sites into vibrant precincts, with spectacular parklands and green spaces integral to the development."

Many of Sydney’s existing and new parklands feature Australian plants and offer a variety of experiences for visitors – from large open green spaces, spectacular harbour walks, architecturally-designed gardens and secluded pocket parks.

For Destination NSW’s list of some of the City’s most impressive urban green spaces, click here.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards votes Hotel Verde “Best Urban Accommodation”

Africa's Greenest Hotel, Hotel Verde situated at Cape Town International Airport was voted the global winner in the Urban Accommodation category during the 15th annual Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards, held in Monaco this weekend, during the opening ceremony of the 77th Skål World Congress.

Skål is a professional organisation of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship. It is the only international group uniting all branches of the travel and tourism industry.

The Skål International Sustainable Tourism Awards global winners were announced by the President of Skål International, Mr. Nigel Pilkington and the judging panel made the following comment about Hotel Verde, the winner in the Urban Accommodation category:

“Hotel Verde is outstanding in their efforts and their consistent dedication to create the least environmental impact on the local community. Their LEED certification, and various investments to ensure that their infrastructure, maintenance and operations are green - something that made them very notable among other submissions. They're highly innovative and appear to have a good grasp of how to create a project that will enable a long-term positive difference.” The panel concluded with ”Hotel Verde, in Cape Town, South Africa, serves as a good example to other hotels in the world, providing a role model for a higher ecological hotel management.”

Hotel Verde is the first hotel in the world to be certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum for both Design & Construction, as well as Operations & Maintenance, from the United States Green Building Council. The LEED certification, developed by the USGBC (United States Green Building Council) and administered and audited by the GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute), is considered globally as the premier mark of accomplishment in green building and provides independent third party verification that a building was designed, built and/or operated sustainably. Sustainable in this sense refers to a comprehensive list of factors including, but not limited to, energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 and other greenhouse and harmful gas emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

In addition to the LEED certification, Hotel Verde has brought a number of firsts to the African continent: Carbon neutral auditable certificates for either guest or conferences held at Hotel Verde. Guests and conference delegates receive a carbon offset certificate after their stay or conference with the hotel, stating the amount of carbon (in kg) that they have personally offset by choosing the hotel. This is an auditable and trackable certificate which is emailed to the guest, can be shared on social media and can be used directly toward sustainability and integrated reporting. These certificates are provided at no extra or hidden cost, to the guests. Other initiatives included the installation of an industrial scale vertical geothermal loop system, the first hotel carbon management initiative of its kind, the installation of regenerative drive elevators and power generating gym equipment.

Hotel Verde is managed by VERDE HOTELS Africa's very first responsible hotel management operator. The group take on the retrofitting of existing properties and the constructions of new developments and delivers a turn-key hotel management model based on the principles of Thrivability, extending the conventional borders of sustainable and responsible tourism. VERDE HOTELS integrates Thrivability into the design, construction, refurbishment and operations of their hotels, in order to showcase social, environmental and economic best practice. In 2015 Hotel Verde teamed up with the Green Building Council of South Africa, to assist in piloting the Existing Building Performance toolkit. The hotel was subsequently certified as the very first, six star Green Star SA Project, based on this tool. This provided yet another third party verification of Hotel Verde's status of world leadership in green building operation, ensuring the hotel is continually operated with stringent efficiency and sustainability targets.

In three years, Hotel Verde has become known locally and internationally, not only for its sustainable design, construction and operational practices; but also for being one of Cape Town's most quirky and creative hotels.

“We are proud that our aim to be a Thrivable environmentally protective hotel has been recognized by our industry peers, on a global level. My team at VERDE HOTELS is committed to ensuring we operate hotels for future benefit of the planet and its people, yielding a thrivable business for owners and investors, on an international level.” said a very proud Samantha Annandale, CEO of Verde Hotels, during the awards ceremony.

In conclusion the Minister of Tourism for South Africa, Derek Hanekom had this to say, “Hotel Verde managed by VERDE HOTELS and others in the tourism sector who are striving towards greater sustainability, are maintaining our country's competitive edge in the global tourism market. Their success comes from taking a responsible approach right from the start of their planning, and then ensuring that all their products, services and activities are socially, environmentally and economically sustainable into the future. We must now spread these world-leading responsible tourism practices throughout the entire tourism industry. Tourists are becoming increasingly concerned about social and environmental issues, and they want to support destinations and products that take responsible tourism seriously."

More information on Hotel Verde:

http://www.hotelverde.com/static/hotel-facts
http://issuu.com/hotelverde/docs/digital_flip_mag/15?e=19520526/30898168
http://www.hotelverde.com/static/green-showcase

AIME to showcase the best of the Asia-Pacific

  • Visitor registration now open

Visitor registration for the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) has opened today; inviting the industry’s leading business and special events minds to be inspired at the 25th anniversary of the event, 21 – 22 February 2017 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

More than 500 national and international exhibitors will showcase the best the events industry has to offer. International exhibitors are coming from all corners of the globe including the Japan National Tourist Organisation who is bringing 12 of their finest suppliers including the ICC Kyoto, Osaka Convention & Visitors Bureau and The Peninsula Tokyo. India Tourism and the Turkish Ministry of Culture & Tourism will both return to the event, and from America, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, along with Rocky Mountaineer from Canada, are all confirmed to exhibit.

Tourism NZ is bringing a large and vibrant contingent of exhibitors including Auckland Conventions Venues & Events, AccorHotels New Zealand, Hobbiton, Hamilton & Waikato Convention Bureau and Heritage Hotels.

Premiering at AIME 2017 will be Epicure, Evergrande Group and Elanor Investors Group, with organisers seeing an increase in the number of destinations and suppliers joining the event for the first time in its silver anniversary year.

A range of local suppliers will also be on hand including all Australian convention bureaux for the second consecutive year. Palazzo Versace Gold Coast, P&O Cruises, Decorative Events & Exhibitions, TFE Hotels, The Star Entertainment Group, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Tourism Australia and many more will return again in 2017.

Ian Wainwright, Event Director – AIME, Reed Travel Exhibitions, invites visitors to register to attend AIME as the only show in the region where a years’ worth of business can be done in two days.

“AIME offers the ultimate opportunity for visitors to make valuable connections in the meetings and incentives industry. For our 25th year, we are bringing together an even wider range of domestic and international exhibitors including destinations, convention bureaux, hotels and venues, entertainment and attractions, technology providers, airlines, cruise lines, and so many more; giving visitors the chance to network, learn and do business with suppliers from all over the globe, under one roof, in just two days,” said Mr Wainwright.

Register to attend AIME for free via http://bit.ly/AimeRegister

Tickets on the door are $25.

Please Help The Rees Hotel Queenstown Save The Kea!

“Gilbert Rees” is one of only 2-3,000 Kea’s left in New Zealand and needs your help. As part of their environmental conservation initiative, The Rees Hotel Queenstown is helping to raise vital funds for the New Zealand Kea’s through the sale of their cute “Gilbert” mascots.

Keas are a unique, endangered parrot species and are the only alpine parrots in the world. Kea numbers have been declining in recent years with the introduction of rats and other predators to their environment plus their mischievous nature. Travelling in packs known as a ‘circus of Kea’, the birds like to take the rubber seals from car windscreens or eat the lead nails from the back of country huts. This has led to the birds becoming extremely ill and can lead to poisoning and death if left untreated.

In conjunction with the Kiwi Birdlife Park, Kea Conservation Trust (KCT) and the Department of Conservation (DOC), The Rees Hotel will donate all proceeds from the sales of ‘Gilbert Kea’ towards the conservation of the wild Kea still remaining in the Wakatipu Basin. This new initiative by The Rees Hotel continues an ongoing commitment to demonstrate leadership in its support of the local community and implementation of sustainable practices across all departments.

CEO Mark Rose says "This was the next step in our plan to support our local community and after a team vote, Keas were our focus then “Gilbert” was born”.

The mascots are on sale now at The Rees Hotel and will sell for $NZ15.00 each. Please take your own ‘Gilbert’ home or a “circus of Kea” and help save this beautiful bird.

The Rees Hotel, Queenstown, New Zealand

The Rees Hotel blends chic five star accommodation with all the comforts of home and the service and facilities of an elite international hotel. Situated on the absolute lakefront, The Rees’ terraced construction delivers complete privacy and showcases panoramic views overlooking Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables Mountains in Queenstown, New Zealand. Its landmark restaurant is the True South Dining Room.

http://www.therees.co.nz
http://www.facebook.com/therees
http://twitter.com/thereeshotel
https://www.instagram.com/thereeshotel/
http://www.facebook.com/truesouthdining
http://www.flickr.com/photos/thereeshotel
http://www.youtube.com/TheReesHotel
http://thereeshotel.blogspot.com
http://thereeshotelconcierge.blogspot.com

Cowra wine wins NSW Wine of the Year for the first time

Cowra’s Windowrie Estate winery has been bestowed the ultimate honour at the recent2016 Pier One NSW Wine Awards, with their 2015 “The Mill” Shiraz named 2016 NSW Wine of the Year. Visitors to Cowra can visit Windowrie Estate’s cellar door, which is owned and run by the O’Dea family who opened Cowra’s first ever winery and started growing grapes in the 1980s. Their winning Shiraz was described by 2016 Chair of Judges, PJ Charteris, as “a wine that expresses its beautiful fruit first and foremost. It is great to see fruit and distinctive varietal fruit character as the defining features of a wine”.

The full list of 2016 NSW Wine Award Trophy winners includes:
  • Multi-Color Trophy for Best Young Riesling ~ Colmar Estate 2016 Block 6 Riesling (Orange)
  • NSW DPI Trophy for Best Young Semillon ~ First Creek 2016 SV Murphys Semillon (Hunter Valley)
  • Trophy for Best Young Sauvignon Blanc ~ Brangayne of Orange 2015 Sauvignon Blanc (Orange)
  • Longfellow’s Trophy for Best Young Chardonnay ~ First Creek 2014 Winemakers Reserve Chardonnay (Hunter Valley)
  • Trophy for Best Young White Other Varieties ~ Tulloch Wines 2016 Cellar Door Release Pinot Gris (Orange)
  • Trophy for Best Mature Dry White ~ Tyrrell's 2009 Vat 1 Semillon (Hunter Valley)
  • Trophy for Best Light Red ~ Tulloch Wines 2016 Cellar Door Release Sangiovese Rose (Orange)
  • Trophy for Best Young Pinot Noir ~ Rotherwood Estates 2015 Pinot Noir (Southern Highlands)
  • Orora Stelvin Trophy for Best Young Shiraz ~ Windowrie Estate 2015 “The Mill” Shiraz (Central Ranges)
  • Riedel Trophy for Best Young Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Ballinaclash 2015 "Joseph" Cabernet (Hilltops)
  • Trophy for Best Young Other Red Varieties ~ Tamburlaine 2015 Reserve Malbec (Orange)
  • Trophy for Best Young Red Blend ~ Pokolbin Estate 2014 "Phoenix" Shiraz Tempranillo (Hunter Valley)
  • Australia Post Trophy for Best Mature Red ~ George Wyndham 2009 Black Cluster Shiraz (Hunter Valley)
  • NSW DPI Award for Best Organic Wine ~ Tamburlaine 2015 Reserve Malbec (Orange)
  • CiSRA Canon Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine ~ De Iuliis 2011 Sparkling Chardonnay (Hunter Valley)
  • Trophy for Best Sweet Wine ~ Bunnamagoo 2013 Autumn Semillon (Mudgee)
  • Trophy Best Dry White of Show ~ Tyrrell's 2009 Vat 1 Semillon (Hunter Valley)

Unforgettable trips for your Hiking Bucketlist 2017

In 2017 we're all about getting out and getting active and we've got the perfect hiking trips to get you inspired. With a selection of our favourite trails from our four brands there's a walk to suit everyone's tastes. There's a wealth of culture and beauty to be uncovered, starting off with the iconic Camino, roving through Tuscany, trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc and finishing off with delightful Dingle. Here are four unforgettable trips for your hiking bucketlist!

The Camino - CaminoWays.com

It's the word on everybody's lips and the walk on everyone's list; the Camino de Santiago. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world flock to Europe each year to complete the mighty walk. The history of the pilgrimage goes as deep as the walk is long and there are a number of different routes to choose from. Whether you choose to go off the beaten track on the Le Puy Way, the beautiful Portuguese Coastal route or tackle the famous French Way it's sure to be an experience to remember!

Prices start at €560 pps for 6 nights half board accommodation walking the last section of the French Way.

Tour du Mont Blanc - TrekkingBug.com

The Tour du Mont Blanc is the classic Alpine adventure, offering walkers the chance to cross three countries on foot, traversing through France, Italy and Switzerland. Our Tour du Mont Blanc trek is classed as a 5 on our difficulty scale with approximately 10kms of ascent and descent. This spectacularly scenic trail gives walkers the opportunity to get up close and personal with their sense of adventure and be marvelled by stunning views of the Alps.

Prices start at €596 pps for 7 nights hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc with half board accommodation.

Walking in Tuscany - FrancigenaWays.com

Amble across rolling green hills and lush vineyards, marvel at medieval architecture … What better way to uncover beautiful Tuscany than on foot? On this section of the Via Francigena trail there is a new treasure to be discovered each day with world class Italian cuisine to fuel your journey. This is a hiking holiday to suit everybody's needs with relatively short distances and little elevation to allow you to take your time and enjoy every moment just like an Italian!

Prices start at €773 pps for 7 nights walking the Via Francigena in Tuscany with half board accommodation.

The Kerry Camino - IrelandWays.com

Along the Kerry Camino you're getting the real deal. The Kerry landscape is a wild and rugged one but the local people in these parts balance out its harsh edges with a character that is warm and soothing. There's no better cure for a long day's walking than a friendly smile and the unmistakeable Irish hospitality of which the West of Ireland is a testament to. Walking the Kerry Camino from Tralee to Dingle you'll find cosy taverns, brimming with that infectious charm that the world over has been trying to mimic for decades.

Prices start at €374 pps for 4 nights bed and breakfast on the Kerry Camino. For information on walking in Kerry see The Dingle Way.

Special: Book your hiking trip now for 2017 and receive 10% off.
*Offer applies to self-guided tours. Discount is applied to package base price.

Includes: standard packages include half-board accommodation in selected properties, luggage transfers and holiday pack with walking notes, maps and practical information.

Also available: Hotel upgrades are available in selected towns and cities, airport transfers, bike rental.
Does not include: flights, insurance, lunch.
For more details about our bucketlis

If you require any images or information contact maria@camionoways.com or aoife@caminoways.com

'I know just the place' campaign to advance Queensland tourism'

A new multimillion tourism campaign is set to inspire even more global travellers to visit Queensland than ever before.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said 22.5 million people visited Queensland last year and spent $20 billion while they were here but more could be done to boost the state's tourism industry.

“We want to build on those numbers so even more people come to Queensland and even more Queensland businesses benefit,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Tourism already supports 220,000 jobs in Queensland and an extra 20,000 jobs will be needed by 2020.

“This campaign is about making sure we get as many people visiting Queensland as we can.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the campaign focussed on Queensland's unique attractions.

“International tourists already know about the Great Barrier Reef and our magnificent beaches but Queensland is full of opportunities to do things you can't do anywhere else,” she said.

“There's not many places you can dive with turtles, walk through underground lava tubes or be right there with kangaroos on a beach at dawn but Queensland is just place.

“This campaign is showcasing worldclass attractions with the locals who run them.

“We want Queensland to be Australia's number one destination and this campaign is about inspiring consumers to come and experience what's on offer.”

“We know tourism is a vital industry supporting 220,000 jobs – and this campaign will be a catalyst to inspire even more visitors and support further jobs growth.”

Tourism Minister Jones said the campaign was developed following extensive consumer research which showed today's travellers were looking for new and authentic experiences.

“This approach plays to our strengths, focusing on our natural assets and unforgettable experiences, as told by Queenslanders themselves,” Ms Jones said.

“Only the locals know where to best enjoy these experiences and through this campaign they will share that knowledge with the world.”

“We also want Queenslanders to share their favourite experiences with TEQ by visiting queensland.com.”

Tourism and Events Queensland Chair Bob East said the campaign was designed to cut through to consumers in a highly competitive global market.

“Through our market research it became quite clear that we need to elevate Queensland and showcase the range of unique experiences – whether that's our lifestyle, adventure and discovery, events, natural encounters or reef, islands and beaches.

“We need to forge an emotional connection, drive engagement and aspiration through a re-energised brand which translates across audiences and converts to bookings.

“This approach is accompanied by a new brand insignia which will feature on all consumer activity. This reimagined logo has been designed to capture Queensland's unique spirit.”

The 2017 It's Live! in Queensland major events calendar was also unveiled today.

Ms Jones said Queensland's events calendar was a significant asset growing in value.

“As part of TEQ's strategic investment approach we have secured 22 new major events while maintaining our investment in a further 26 key events,” Ms Jones said.

“The calendar is growing in value from $380 million last year to an expected $600 million next year – and that's good news for tourism and the jobs our industry supports.”

To view the new campaign, share your favourite place or view the major events calendar click here.

Phase one of the campaign will launch across domestic television, video, digital, social media content, print, and high impact outdoor from today.

It will be rolled out into key international markets in Asia, Europe, UK and the US from early next year.

The creative includes a music track performed by Sunshine Coast musician Sahara Beck and is backed by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

The first phase of the campaign features locals and incorporates vision from more than 25 locations across the state.

www.queensland.com/

LUX* Resorts & Hotels Launches LUX* Tea Horse Road China - 5 Day Tour Package and Guide

LUX* Resorts & Hotels has launched an immersive 5 days guided tour package to discover the ancient trails of the 13th Century Old Tea Horse Road in China. Experience the romance and adventure of this intrepid journey that follows the tea carrying pack-caravans through spectacular landscapes, from high mountains to deep gorges, linking the varied ancient Naxi and Tibetan cultures of China's South West. The 5 night 6 day guided tour is offered Northbound from Lijiang in the Yunnan Province and Southbound from the Tibetan village of Benzilan, covering legendary trails through the heart of the Three Parallel Rivers and glaciers of the Meili Mountains.

Sample 5 Days Tour: Northbound Lijiang to Benzilan

The adventure commences in Lijiang, a UNESCO heritage site, with a walking tour along the winding cobblestone lanes past the well preserved folk style buildings of Dayan. Stop at shopping spots along Qi'yi Street and visit the oldest teahouse in Lijiang, to meet Diana He whose family for generations has traded tea. Watch the local Pu'er tea, renowned for its healing powers, be pressed into cakes by standing and rocking on stones, enjoy a tasting session and learn the secrets from these tea masters. Overnight at LUX* Tea Horse Road Lijiang boutique hotel.

Day 2

Discover the picturesque Zhonghe (Central River), past Willow trees, exquisite stone footbridges and distinctive tiered wells. Join the hotel chef at nearby bustling Zhongyi markets and experience the vibrant heart of Naxi cuisine, while he gathers ingredients for the evening's signature meal – a Naxi hotpot. A short car ride to the North, at the foot of looming Yulong (Jade Dragon) Mountain sets the scene for lunch, followed by an hour long performance, entitled 'Impression Lijiang,' created by China's most famous movie director Shang Yimou (Raise the Red Lantern, House of Flying Daggers and more). A spectacle to behold, the show features a hundred horses and a cast of 500, set in the open air theatre of the fertile Lijiang Plains. End the day with a visit at the village of Baisha visiting temples filled with murals and a school that teaches the art of weaving silk tapestries, a local Naxi tradition.

Day 3

Journey to Shangri-La and the Napahai wetlands in Benzilan for an exciting day of dramatic mountains, deep gorges and a complete cultural shift from Naxi tradition to ethnic Tibet. Marvel at the spectacular views over Haba Mountain, the mighty Tiger Leaping Gorge and the high plains to the North, famed for its fearless horsemen. In Dukezong, see the world's larget Tibetan prayer wheel, followed by a delicious local organic lunch. Circle the wetlands of Napahai, a complex eco-system that changes dramatically with the seasons, attracting thousands of migratory birds, including the rare black-necked crane. Here Tibetan farmers pasture their herds of yak and flocks of horses roam the wetlands. Continue the ascent to LUX* Tea Horse Road Benzilan, the only mountain retreat in the area, nestled in the gorge by the rushing waters of UNESCO's World Heritage Listed Three Parallel Rivers.

Day 4

Following a hearty breakfast, set off to the untouched Dongzhulin monastery of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat), where the monks chant their morning prayers. Watch a theatrical and highly charged Gelugpa-sect debating session unfold between pairs of monks, as they shout, jump and dance to make their point heard. Highlights of the day include the making of traditional Tibetan incense sticks, visiting a local bell-maker at Shuibianhe Valley and savouring a traditional picnic, or Provençale style French lunch, paired with local wines. Return to the hotel for dinner and unwind on the roof terrace with a 'Cinema Paradiso' experience, watching a movie al fresco under the stars.

The rich tales of this magical journey is shared in a detailed LUX* guide, published and designed in partnership with acclaimed photographer and author Michael Freeman. To download visit: luxresorts.com. The LUX* Tea Horse Road 5 day tour package is priced from $2,669 AUD for both Northbound and Southbound tours. To book contact:

LUX* TEA HORSE ROAD LIJIANG

T +86 (0) 888 559 6666 /+86 (0) 888 556 1999 Email: reception@luxlijiang.com

LUX* TEA HORSE ROAD BENZILAN

T +86 (0) 887 899 8000 Email: reception@luxbenzilan.com

NSW FOOD AND WINE ON SHOW TO MORE THAN TWO MILLION VIEWERS IN HONG KONG

More than two million Hong Kong television viewers will experience some of the State’s most colourful food and wine offerings, when celebrity chef Madame Wong Gigi visits NSW to film episodes for one of the country’s most popular cooking series, 'Eating Well with Madame Wong’.

Destination NSW Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase said the broadcast is a joint initiative between Tourism Australia and Destination NSW and will air on Hong Kong’s most watched television channel, TVB next year.

“As Australia’s most geographically diverse State, NSW is perfectly positioned to welcome visitors from across the globe and we are delighted to be telling our famous NSW food and wine story to millions of potential visitors in Hong Kong,” Ms Chipchase said.

“From the Sydney Fish Market and bush tucker in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney to fresh South Coast oysters and cheese making in the Southern Highlands, this special broadcast will capture the array of NSW food experiences which continue to draw visitors back time after time.”

NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events Stuart Ayres said securing programs such as 'Eating Well with Madame Wong' provide a unique opportunity to tap into a mass international audience.

“We look forward to welcoming celebrity chef Madame Wong and her crew to NSW next week and the opportunity to encourage more visitors to plan a trip to our beautiful State to experience our vibrant and multicultural food and wine scene,” Mr Ayres said.

Filming will commence from 27 November and will take place in Sydney, Wollongong, Shoalhaven and the Southern Highlands. The program will also hit television screens in Singapore and Malaysia after initially airing in Hong Kong.

‘Eating Well with Madam Wong’ is one of the most popular cooking series by former actor, Madam Wong Gigi and has been on air since 2013.

AccorHotels Singapore Announce Gourmet Food & Wine Festival 2017

Singapore is set to sizzle in 2017 as AccorHotels, the largest hotel operator in the country, announces its spectacular inaugural Gourmet Food & Wine Festival, featuring Michelin Star chefs from their multiple award winning restaurants and bars across the city.

“In a city that is renowned for its culinary culture, AccorHotels will bring together some of our best chefs from around the globe and showcase some incredibly talented Singaporean chefs to create a food festival as vibrant and diverse as the city itself,” said Graham Wilson, Chief Marketing & Distribution Officer, AccorHotels Asia Pacific.

“This event will be unlike anything Singapore has seen before with immersive experiences, cooking classes, spectacular wine and champagne dinners, bespoke cocktails, and the most exciting new flavours and unexpected pairings to delight and surprise Singaporeans and visitors alike.”

The AccorHotels Singapore network offers a range of famous award-winning restaurants and bars including Jaan, Il Lido at the Cliff, Xperience, Prego's, Tiffin Room and Equinox across its Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel and Swissotel brands.

“Creating outstanding dining experiences is naturally in our genes and our Singaporean hotel heritage,” said Graham Wilson. “Nothing makes our artistic and gifted teams more excited than to share this with our guests.”

Major sponsors will brought on board to partner in this city-wide event which will be one of the largest festivals of its kind in Singapore.

AccorHotels proudly operates almost 50 restaurants and bars in Singapore, with several more to open next year.

Full details of this exciting festival will be announced early 2017.

ABOUT ACCORHOTELS

AccorHotels is a world-leading travel & lifestyle group and digital innovator offering unique experiences in more than 4,000 hotels, resorts and residences, as well as in over 2,500 of the finest private homes around the globe. Benefiting from dual expertise as an investor and operator through its HotelServices and HotelInvest divisions, AccorHotels operates in 95 countries. Its portfolio comprises internationally acclaimed luxury brands including Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel LEGEND, SO Sofitel, SOFITEL, onefinestay, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman, and Swissôtel; as well as the popular midscale and boutique brands of Novotel, Mercure, Mama Shelter and Adagio; the in-demand economy brands including ibis, ibis Styles, ibis budget and the regional brands Grand Mercure, The Sebel and hotelF1.

With an unmatched collection of brands and rich history spanning close to five decades, AccorHotels, along with its global team of more than 240,000 dedicated women and men, has a purposeful and heartfelt mission: to make every guest Feel Welcome. Guests enjoy access to one of the world's most rewarding hotel loyalty programs - Le Club AccorHotels.

AccorHotels is active in its local communities and committed to sustainable development and solidarity through PLANET 21, a comprehensive program that brings together employees, guests and partners to drive sustainable growth.

Accor SA is publicly listed with shares trading on the Euronext Paris exchange (ISIN code: FR0000120404) and the OTC marketplace (Code: ACRFY) in the United States.

For more information and reservations visit accorhotels.group or accorhotels.com. Or become a fan and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Hot August Nights with Neil Diamond On-Board the Murray Princess

Neil Diamond fans will love Captain Cook Cruises, “Hot August Night” Music Cruise on-board paddlewheeler, PS Murray Princess. Join entertainer, Dave Freeman and experience the Diamond voice, Diamond Story and Diamond Show on this special event, three-night cruise departing Friday August 25, 2017.

With sold out performances at the Adelaide Fringe in 2016 and 2015, Dave will take guests on an intimate journey into the music of Neil Diamond through his “OMG Neil Diamond Sounds Like Me” Show. Dave is not an impersonator, but like Neil Diamond, he is a storyteller.

Dave will entertain guests each night starting with Friday nights welcome dinner and dance where he will be joined by Paul Gill as they play music for all tastes. On Saturday night Dave will perform his “OMG Neil Diamond Sounds Like Me” showincluding storytelling, songs, dancing and music from Neil Diamond's famous Hot August Night Album. Finally, on Sunday the spectacular Captain's Dinner and Dance will feature the sounds of Dave and Paul as they entertain guests once more.

By day, the Murray Princess will visit the townships of Murray Bridge and Mannum. At Murray Bridge guests can join a guided tour of the town's historic landmarks and local attractions and at Mannum join the Captain for a walk along the riverbank to the Mannum Dock Museum (entry is an additional cost of $5 per person) or simply take a walk around town.

Wildlife lovers can spend a morning visiting Monarto Zoo on a private Monarto Zoo Wildlife Tour (additional cost). See many of the Zoo's inhabitants including Giraffe, Eland, Zebra, White Rhinoceros, Cheetah, Lions, Hyena and Wild Dogs.

Enjoy a guided nature walk at Salt Bush Flat and learn about the thriving ecology of the river. At River View Lodge get up close to the river, its 20-million-year-old cliffs and amazing birdlife including darters, herons and egrets on the 'Dragon-Fly' Flat Bottomed Boat vessel.

Onboard sample some local food and wine with tastings in the Sturt Dining Room and learn more about the Murray and Riverland regions and their produce.

Join the Captain for a general inspection of the wheelhouse, participate in a lively music quiz, play some bocce on the riverbank or relax with some fishing off the ship.

As the Murray Princess cruises along the Murray River, enjoy its enchantment and beauty from the ships open top deck or from one of two air-conditioned paddlewheel lounges displaying views of the working paddle wheel. Cruise past towering limestone cliffs, riverbanks lined with mallee scrub and red gum forests and amazing everchanging scenery.

Food onboard the Murray Princess is a highlight of the cruise. Guests will enjoy a hearty hot buffet breakfast each morning, a two-course or buffet lunch each day and a three-course or buffet dinner each evening.

The three-night “Hot August Night” Music Cruise departs Mannum at 4.30pm on Friday August 25, 2017 and Early Booking Saver fares start from $893 per person twin share.

Fares include accommodation, all meals, guided nature walks, eco-excursions, onboard presentations, onboard WiFi, the Captain's Dinner and Cocktail Party, the “OMG Neil Diamond Sounds Like Me” Show, entertainment by Dave Freeman and Paul Gill, use of ship's facilities including a sauna, spa, sun deck, bar, two lounges, restaurant and mini gymnasium and complimentary scenic coach transfers from Adelaide or car-parking in Mannum.

A new Mannum to Adelaide Airport coach transfer service is now operating post cruise for disembarking Murray Princess passengers flying out of Adelaide.

Private car transfers for up to four people are also available from and to Adelaide CBD to Mannum and return to Adelaide Airport for $143 per person each way, based on two people travelling.

For more high res Murray Princess Cruise images visit: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qe286o3h9qjjd02/AACY4vO41JfpTJuT_orIkFIia?dl=0

For further information, visit www.murrayprincess.com.au

Monday, 28 November 2016

New experiences and accommodation in NSW

  • Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre and Harbourside have launched a new ferry service, the Hello Sydney! Shopper Hopper. The ferry service runs between Circular Quay, Darling Harbour’s Harbourside Shopping Centre and Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre. Shoppers can now enjoy Sydney’s stunning harbour as they’re transported between great shopping destinations, fabulous dining venues and famous attractions
  • Each November, the legendary Festival of Fisher's Ghost comes alive in Campbelltown. The festival dates back to 1956 and is named after famous ghost, Frederick Fisher. This year the festival features a spooky new immersive theatre performance the Dark Lake Interactive Horror Experience. Not for the faint hearted, the walk-through theatrical piece will be staged outdoors, after dark in a secret location on 10, 11 and 12 of November
  • Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo is delighted to announce the birth of its first Asian Elephant calf. The Zoo will soon be announcing a competition to help choose a name for the calf. The Zoo is also celebrating the arrival of 11 African Wild Dog pups to the conservation breeding program for this endangered species. The nine week old pups can be spotted out and about in the exhibit
  • Meriton Serviced Apartments has opened its doors in North Sydney boasting an impressive 29 storeys of luxury, full-service hotel accommodation. The hotel has unrivalled views of Sydney’s iconic Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and Opera House from its premium Harbour Suites, as well as picturesque views of Kirribilli, Neutral Bay and the Harbour foreshore from all other suites
  • Located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD and financial district, Mantra 2 Bond Street, has received a multi-million dollar refurbishment. The revamped guest rooms feature contemporary-style lofts
  • The Old Bank Boutique Hotel in Mittagong has re-opened after a painstaking seven-year restoration of the grand, former bank built in the NSW Southern Highlands in 1892. The hotel offers heritage accommodation and a window into a bygone era
  • Parramatta City Council is offering complimentary “Welcome to the City” walking tours for visitors and locals to discover and immerse themselves in this vibrant city. The tour will explore the rich mix of culture, food, parklands and heritage
  • Taste The Tweed have launched two new food tours showcasing the regions fresh produce and culinary delights from the region. The tours will take guests on a food journey where they will meet growers and providores, visit the local markets and create a true paddock to plate meal
  • Sydney Seaplanes unveiled their brand new terminal in Rose Bay. The Empire Lounge is Australia’s first purpose built Seaplane Terminal acquiring its name from the 1938 flying boats. The venue will host a luxurious lounge and offer free Wi-Fi, Single Origin coffee and pastries, champagne as well as a luxury wine and beer list to choose from

Feast upon a NEW Canal du Midi Culinary Cruise in France in Spring and SAVE

Inland waterway cruise specialists Outdoor Travel, has introduced for the 2017 season a NEW Culinary-themed charter cruise aboard the elegant hotel barge Enchanté, cruising through the Southwest of France.

While meandering along the Canal du Midi, guests will be treated to an array of culinary delights during the week-long itinerary.

Ideal as a private charter, this specially-tailored cruise is perfect for a group of friends or family to indulge in the region’s wonderful products and to meet the artisans behind them. Enchanté is a state-of-the-art, two-level hotel barge that provides luxurious accommodation with en-suite bathrooms for up to 8 guests.

Embark in Narbonne with a champagne welcome, guests can look forward to appreciating some unique food experiences of the region - hunting for truffles in the Minervois hills and tasting the elusive white truffle; visiting a farm breeding the special Petit Gris variety of escargot; and touring L’Oulibo, a long-established olive oil press that produces the purist extra virgin olive oil from the famous Lucques olive.

Those who enjoy cooking can partake in a ‘hands-on’ French cooking class alongside the Canal du Midi and enjoy demonstrations throughout the cruise from the onboard chef. There is also the opportunity to visit the extraordinary indoor market in Narbonne, to choose the ingredients for dinner.

The itinerary provides a wonderful opportunity for just relaxing in the sunshine. Guests can make use of the spacious sun deck, with alfresco dining area and gorgeous spa pool, or choose to walk, or cycle along the towpaths.

The 6-night Culinary Cruise aboard Enchanté offers an attentive 5-person crew, all gourmet meals, fine wines, an open bar, daily escorted excursions and local transfers. It is available for charter bookings priced from $6075 per person (was $7390) sharing a twin or double cabin including a special 10% discount for 19th & 26th March and 2nd April 2017 departures.

For more information call Outdoor Travel on 1800 331 582 or see the brochure: http://bit.ly/2e2MNr8

For price details: Go Barging - Exclusive small group CREWED Hotel Barge cruises in Europe 2017

SYDNEY TO HOST THE 2018 INVICTUS GAMES

Sydney will stage the 2018 Invictus Games after the NSW Government won the bid to host the international sports tournament for wounded, ill and injured veterans.

Announced by Prince Harry, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, Sydney has been selected as the 2018 host city, following in the footsteps of London (2014), Orlando (2016) and Toronto (2017).

The eight-day, 11-sport event will be held in October 2018 and attract up to 500 competitors from 17 nations in events such as swimming, wheelchair rugby and sailing on Sydney Harbour.

Click here to watch Prince Harry announce the Invictus Games are coming to Sydney.

More information on the 2018 Invictus Games can be found here.

RING IN THE NEW YEAR IN NEW YORK CITY

—New York City’s Five Boroughs Offer Festive Ways to Welcome 2017 Throughout New Year’s Eve Weekend—

Ring in 2017 in New York City, host to the world’s premier New Year’s Eve celebrations. With festive ways to welcome the New Year across all five boroughs, including the iconic ball drop in Times Square, there’s never been a more exciting time to be in New York City than New Year’s Eve weekend.

“Every year, millions of visitors and local residents experience the unique energy, diversity and excitement of New York as the City rings in a New Year,” said Fred Dixon, NYC & Company president and CEO. “With special hotel offerings, unique cultural celebrations around the City and fantastic dining options overlooking the Times Square ball drop, we encourage everyone to plan an unforgettable New Year’s Eve in New York City.”

More than 175 million television viewers in the United States and more than 1 billion people worldwide are expected to join the estimated 1 million revelers in New York City to watch a 110-year-old tradition: the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. A 12-foot-diameter geodesic sphere covered in 2,688 Waterford crystals, the ball weighs 11,875 pounds and is powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LED lights, capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors. At 11:59pm, the ball begins its descent atop One Times Square as millions of people count down the final seconds of the year and celebrate the beginning of a new year.

Must-see New Year’s Eve events taking place in Times Square include:

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest: A cherished annual tradition since 1972, the show will kick off New Year’s Eve celebrations live from Times Square with host Ryan Seacrest and comedian Jenny McCarthy. Pop star Fergie will also be co-hosting the Billboard Hollywood Party, featuring celebrity performances throughout the night. For more information on upcoming performances, visitdickclark.com.

New Year’s Eve Wishing Wall: When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day, thousands of confetti pieces will rain down upon revelers in Times Square, each containing a special wish from people across the globe. Visitors and locals looking to submit their wishes can submit in person at the Mobile Wishing Wall in Times Square or online via timessquarenyc.org starting on December 1. Visit timessquarenyc.org for specific locations and times.

Madame Tussauds New York: Located within walking distance from the ball drop, families can hang out with over 200 life-size wax figures of their favorite celebrities as Madame Tussauds celebrates the New Year. This year’s event includes passed appetizers, open bar for ages 21 and over and access to the attraction’s themed rooms, including the new Ghostbusters Experience that opened earlier this year. Visitmadametussauds.com for more information.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square: With over 500 amazing exhibits and 20 galleries, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square will once again be holding a New Year’s Eve celebration to ring in 2017. Ripley’s New Year’s Eve party will feature a live DJ, dancing, open bar and face painting for the kids, complete with a champagne toast at midnight. For more information, visit ripleysnewyork.com.

Good Riddance Day: On December 28 from noon to 1pm, Times Square New Year’s Eve and Shred-it will bid farewell to bad memories from 2016. Mobile shredding trucks and mallets will be available for attendees to shred or destroy items like old love letters, pink slips and cellphones. Shred-it is also offering a contest on their website to win a trip to NYC for Good Riddance Day and to experience the ball drop. Those who can't make it to Times Square can submit items to be shredded on shredit.com or tweet with the hashtag #GoodRiddanceDay.

Visitors looking to dance and dine the night away will find several restaurants and venues with New Year’s Eve offerings around Times Square. Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar (two locations in Times Square), AMC Empire 25, Aureole New York by Charlie Palmer, Blue Fin, Chevys, Dallas BBQ, Dave & Buster’s Times Square, Dos Caminos, Fig & Olive, Glass House Tavern, Planet Hollywood Times Square, STK New York City Midtown, St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar and others will welcome 2017 in style. For tickets to these and other Times Square events, diners should call restaurants and venues directly or visit balldrop.com for select event tickets.


The Bronx:

Havana Café New Year’s Eve Party: Bringing the soul and taste of Havana to the Bronx, Havana Café will feature a special four-course dinner and one free cocktail starting at 8:30pm on New Year’s Eve, followed by an open bar starting at 11pm. The party continues until 4am with party favors and dancing. Visit bronxhavanacafe.com for more info.

New York Botanical Garden:
Throughout New Year’s Eve weekend, visitors can check out the exciting winter wonderland at the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show. Featuring more than 150 landmarks including the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, visitors can watch as model trains zip through a miniature replica of New York City, which is sure to delight kids of all ages. Check out nybg.org for more info.

Brooklyn:

Coney Island USA: For those who want to experience the thrill of the ball drop without the crowds of Times Square, Coney Island will be hosting a New Year’s Eve celebration with an LED ball drop simulated on the Parachute Jump, along with a stunning 3D laser light show and a circus sideshow fire finale. Select boardwalk restaurants and attractions will be open, including The Thunderbolt and B&B Carousell. For more information, visit coneyislandusa.com

Prospect Park Fireworks: Visitors and locals can celebrate New Year’s Eve in Prospect Park under Brooklyn’s beautiful annual fireworks display at midnight, sponsored by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. This event is free and open to all ages and includes hot refreshments and entertainment. Grand Army Plaza, West Drive in Prospect Park and Prospect Park West between Grand Army Plaza and 95th Street are the best places to see the spectacular fireworks show. For more information, visit prospectpark.org.

Time’s Up 19th Annual New Year’s Eve Bike Ride: Celebrating its 19th year, environmental education group Time’s Up will once again host their New Year’ Eve bike ride and outdoor after party. Bikers and skaters can start the year off right by meeting up at 9:45 p.m. on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge, then ride through Washington Square Park and Madison Square Park before partying the night away at Belvedere Castle in Central Park. For more information, visit times-up.org.

Coney Island Polar Bear Club Annual New Year’s Day Swim: On New Year’s Day 2017, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club invites those brave enough to take a plunge into the Atlantic Ocean to bring in the New Year and to benefit Camp Sunshine, a charity for children with life-threatening illnesses. The yearly tradition is open to the public and starts at 1pm at the Stillwell Avenue boardwalk entrance, with free admission to the New York Aquarium for registered attendees. For more event details, visit polarbearclub.org.

Manhattan:

Apollo Theater: With its 10th annual Kwanzaa Celebration, the Apollo Theater invites visitors to enjoy a day in Harlem on New Year’s Eve, with dance performances by Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and music honoring the holiday of Kwanzaa. The event will also celebrate the Forces of Nature dance school’s 35th anniversary and is hosted by radio personality Imhotep Gary Byrd. Visit apollotheater.orgto purchase tickets.

Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine: A signature New Year’s Eve event founded by Leonard Bernstein in 1984, the annual Concert for Peace will bring together New Yorkers and visitors from around the world for an evening filled with uplifting music. This year, the Cathedral will introduce a new work by+ composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell called “Light Shall Lift Us.” The program will feature soloist Jamet Pittman and includes other works from Joseph Haydn’s “Morning” Symphony and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Mass in B Minor. A limited number of general admission seats are free and open to the public. Later in the evening, a special late-night service will be held to ring in the New Year. For more information, visit stjohndivine.org.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan: Families can enjoy a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve bash at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. The museum will offer a New Year’s Eve Dance Party with DJ Chela, along with a New Year’s Eve ball drop just for the kids. Visit cmom.org for more info.

Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises: For an unforgettable evening sailing around New York Harbor, Circle Line cruise ships will once again offer their New Year’s Eve cruise sailings. The party cruise includes hors d’oeuvres, a full open bar, party favors, a DJ and a midnight champagne toast. The cruise boards at 9pm and sails from 10pm to 1am. (Must be 18 years old to board and 21 years old to drink alcohol.) For more information or to purchase tickets, visit circleline42.com.

Empire State Building: New York City’s iconic Empire State Building will join in the celebration of New Year’s Eve with their annual display of colorful confetti lights around the spire of the building. When the clock strikes midnight, the building will sparkle white to signify the new year, a must-see for visitors and locals alike.

Luminaries at Brookfield Place: Currently in its second installation at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan, Luminaries is a three-dimensional interactive light display in the Winter Garden atrium that cycles through a palette of festive colors when someone touches one of three “wishing stations.” During New Year’s Eve weekend, Luminaries will be displaying its holiday colors that dance to the tunes of Michael Bublé and Tony Bennett’s winter classic songs. Visit artsbrookfield.com for more information.

Madison Square Garden: Popular nineties band Phish will make their return to Madison Square Garden from December 28–31. The band’s loyal fans are invited to rock out into the New Year as they jam out with their unique style of live music. For more information, visitthegarden.com.

The Metropolitan Opera: French romanticism will return to The Metropolitan Opera with the opening of Roméo et Juliette on New Year’s Eve. Running through March 18, this classic love story will include four graceful duets with Diana Damrau as Juliette and Vittorio Grigolo as Roméo. For more information, visit MetOpera.org.

Merchant’s House Museum: Relive the cherished tradition of making house calls on New Year’s Day as the Merchant’s House Museum continues the 19th-century tradition with their Come Calling event. House tours, readings, punch and confections will all be part of the festivities, as well as a holiday raffle drawing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit merchantshouse.org.

New York Philharmonic: On New Year’s Eve, music director Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic’s special New Year’s Eve celebration. This year’s show will feature mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato performing American classics by Rodgers & Hammerstein, as well as Copland and Lerner & Loewe. For more information, visit nyphil.org.

New York Road Runners Midnight Run: When the clock strikes midnight, runners can lace up their running shoes for the four-mile NYRR Midnight Run in Central Park. Kicking off at 10pm with music and dancing, the race will feature a spectacular fireworks display at midnight as runners race their way into 2017. Race registration is open to the public and required. For more information or to register, visit nyrr.org.

New York Water Taxi: Families looking to enjoy a kid-friendly evening can party the night away with New York Water Taxi’s New Year’s Eve Family Cruise. With the City’s magnificent skyline as the backdrop. the cruise will sail along New York Harbor and includes hors d’oeuvres, a dinner buffet with dessert, juice and soft drinks and a cash bar for those 21 and older. TVs onboard will be livestreaming the ball drop. Tickets can be purchased online at nywatertaxi.com.

World Yacht Cruises: World Yacht Cruises will feature a Montauk-esque buffet and celebration aboard its North River Lobster Company sailing. The cruise includes a standard open bar, live DJ and an extensive buffet from 10pm through 1am. For this and other New Year’s Eve sailings with World Yacht Cruises, visit worldyacht.com.

Queens:

Elli Kokkinou at Melrose Ballroom: One of Greece’s most popular singers, Elli Kokkinou, will ring in 2017 at Astoria’s famous Melrose Ballroom. Visit melroseballroomnyc.com for tickets and more information.

Resorts World Casino: As New York City’s only casino, Resorts World Casino invites those 21 and older to celebrate New Year’ Eve at Club360 with live performances by Tavares & France Joli. Party favors, a drink ticket and a champagne toast at midnight are just some of the exciting offerings throughout the night in addition to its 3,000 slot machines. For more information, visit rwnewyork.com.

Staten Island:

New Year’s Eve at Nicotra’s Ballroom: Beginning at 7:30pm, Nicotra’s Ballroom at the Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island will host a New Year’s Eve Gala. The gala includes a cocktail reception, gourmet dinner, live DJ and a champagne toast as a live feed from Times Square shows the exciting ball drop. The Hilton Garden Inn Staten Island will also feature a special room rate, which includes a buffet breakfast and admission to the gala. For more info, visit nicotrasballroom.com.

Brioso Ristorante: Visitors and locals can spend their New Year's Eve in a quaint and festive setting at Brioso Ristorante in Staten Island. Featuring a sumptuous menu of delicious and authentic Italian cuisine, Brioso has been a New York City staple since 1995. To book a reservation and to learn more, visit newyork.briosorestaurants.com.