Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Same Same but Different: Yahoo7 reveals surprising truth of Millennial marketing

Yahoo7 has re-written the rules on marketing to Millennials, revealing many of their digital habits are very similar to Generation X and Baby Boomers. In a new report drawing from a range of studies, data and proprietary Yahoo7 research, the Australian innovator showcased seven key themes in which the 18 - 34 year old generation was more similar than different in their use and engagement with digital media.

Peter Hammer, Head of Insights and Analytics at Yahoo7, urges marketers to re-consider everything they'd been told about targeting Millennials.

"The data clearly demonstrates Australian marketers shouldn't be completely re-inventing their strategy for Millennials, as they've so often been told. Millennials are not the alien species they've been painted as - in fact, by leveraging broad data for all age groups, we have seen many similar behaviors in digital habits for generations older than them," he stated.

"When it comes to reaching Millennials, we encourage advertisers to use a bit more mobile, social and online video in line with increased usage, but this doesn't mean you should completely abandon desktop devices or traditional channels such as TV. In terms of advertising impact, we saw similar

levels of engagement for Millennials and Gen X, meaning that marketers should be more focussed on developing good creative that works for all generations," Hammer added.

When commenting on the role of data in marketing to Millennials, Hammer says relevance is key.

"Our data shows that there's a greater uplift in ad effectiveness when we tested creative with category buyers. And so rather than targeting based on age, there's more to be gained by reaching relevant category buyers through the increasingly sophisticated data tools now available to marketers."

The report addressed seven key research areas:

1. Digital Daily Habits

The report demonstrated Millennials have roughly the same average number of the Top 10 digital daily habits (3.1) when compared to Generation X (2.8) and Baby Boomers (2.6). While Millennials have slightly lower use of email and news formats, there was increased daily use of social media.I

2. Social Media

When comparing social media users, Millennials spent a very similar amount of time on major social media channels across the entire month as compared to other generations, however, Millennials used it slightly more across the day.II (See Fig.1)

3. Mobile

While Millennials spent a larger share of online time using their smartphone (65%) compared to Generation X (44%) and Baby Boomers (31%)III, other research suggests that Desktop still reigns supreme for email, search and news consumption.IV

4. Brand Reach

While it may seem unsurprising that bigger brands reach more Millennials, Nielsen DRM data demonstrates a surprising dominance of key digital publishers, over Millennial giants like Snapchat and Spotify. In Australia, Yahoo7 reached more than double the number of Millennials as Spotify, and 1.2 million more Millennials than Snapchat in the last six months (Jun - Nov 2016) according to the currency data.V (See Fig.2)

5. Video

Contrary to popular rhetoric, Millennials only watch slightly less TV (78%), compared to Generation X (87%) and Baby Boomers (94%) on a typical day based on self-reported data. Furthermore, advertisers can still reach Millennials through video marketing, with 99 per cent of Millennials consuming any video content being exposed to ad-supported platforms.VI

6. motional Reaction to Creative

Computer vision and machine learning techniques revealed Millennials had similar engagement to 'best' and 'worst' creative, when compared to other generations. Millennials also exhibited very similar emotional reactions to creative, never straying more than two points further from any other generation on the Average Emotional Engagement Score across all creative that was tested.VII (See Fig.3)

7. Effectiveness of Advertising

The data demonstrates almost no difference in ad effectiveness between Millennials and Generation X, when measuring brand recall, likeability and purchase consideration. Marketers should instead target audiences in terms of category buyers, with Ad Effectiveness increasing recall (+29%),

likeability (+132%) and purchase consideration (+162%) compared to non-buyers.VIII

For more information on the report, please contact your Yahoo7 account manager or
insightsseries@yahoo-inc.com.

NEW QANTAS SAFETY VIDEO TO SHOW BEST OF AUSTRALIA

Qantas has unveiled a new inflight safety video (opens in new window) featuring some of Australia’s most stunning landscapes and locations.

The new film is an evolution of the national carrier’s 2016 safety video, which had more than 90 million views across Qantas’ in-flight and social media platforms.

The 2017 production features everyday Australians in unique destinations across every state and territory, ranging from the Victorian ski fields to sand surfing at Queensland’s Moreton Island. It also features several cameo appearances, including a Bangarra dance performance overlooking Botany Bay, the crew from “Wild Oats XI” showing Sydney Harbour in all its glory, and designer Daniel Avakian on a Melbourne fashion runway.

Qantas will be using content from the video to promote the destinations it showcases for Australia’s key tourism markets.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the goal was to make the safety video engaging as well as informative.

“What we’ve found is that it’s a lot easier to grab people’s attention with something that’s interesting to watch,” Mr Joyce said.

“We know the combination of beautiful landscapes and laid-back Aussie charm really cuts through. It’s also why this video doubles as a perfect tourism ad.

“Finding smart ways to reach new audiences is a priority for Qantas and the whole Australian tourism industry, and we’re looking forward to rolling the video out as part of our strategy to keep visitor numbers growing. We’re confident it’ll strike a chord with travellers from around the world, not to mention Australians thinking about holidaying at home.”

Qantas worked with Tourism Australia and state tourism organisations to make the film across a 12 day period.

The new 3 minute video will begin screening across Qantas domestic and international flights from 1 February with numerous versions to accommodate eleven different languages, as well as the varying aircraft types across the Qantas Group fleet.

Background information on the destinations and people featured in the video:
  • St Kilda Pier VIC – The pair fishing is a local couple from Melbourne
  • Hunter Valley NSW – The balloon pilot operates tours over the Hunter Valley every day
  • Q1 Goldcoast QLD – Features one of the real window washers for Q1 tower
  • Docklands Melbourne VIC – Daniel Avakian is a real Australian fashion designer
  • Sydney Harbour NSW – The Wild Oats XI crew included owner of Wild Oats XI Sandy Oatley and renowned skipper Mark Richards
  • Cape Banks NSW – The Artistic Director of Bangarra choreographed this piece specifically for the Qantas safety video
  • Kings Park Perth WA – The flower girl is the daughter of the MC for this wedding scene and they are a local Perth family. The two people playing the couple and many of the guests at the wedding are first year theatre students at the WA Academy of Performing Arts in Perth.
  • Field of Lights Uluru NT – Both people work at Uluru.
  • Mt Ainslie Canberra ACT – This couple is living in Canberra – he is a doctor and she is studying design at ANU.
  • Moreton Island QLD – A local Queensland father and son.
  • Darwin NT – The Fire Spinners are a local married couple who have a stand at the Mindel Beach Markets.
  • Hobart TAS – He is the only apple grower and seller at Salamanca Markets and has been doing so for 32 years.
  • Cape Hillsborough QLD – Sharon, the lady with the kangaroos on the beach, is a local from Cape Hillsborough Caravan Park. She was chosen as the kangaroos are familiar with her.
  • Mt Hotham VIC – The skier is a local champion from Mt Hotham
  • Barossa Valley SA – All participants in the Yalumba winery scene are Barossa Valley locals.
  • Port Lincoln SA – Qantas Link crew member Carmel lives in in Tununda and it is her partner dropping her off at the airport.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts accelerates expansion plans after inking record number of deals in 2016

2016 was a momentous year for Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, marked by the appointment of its new CEO, Olivier Chavy, which made global headlines. This ushered in a new era for the hospitality firm, which also unveiled a fresh new logo and corporate identity to better reflect its warmth and inherent ‘Swissness’.

The Switzerland-based global hospitality firm also fast-tracked its global expansion plans in 2016, signing a record number of management contracts for new properties across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, which already operates 83 hotels worldwide, inked deals for more than 13 new properties in key growth markets, growing its total development pipeline by one-third to 33-plus hotels. This will add more than 9,000 extra keys to Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ growing inventory over the next four years, with all pipelined properties currently on track to open by the end of 2020.

New deals signed in 2016 will see the company debut in several locations across the Middle East and Asia including Bangladesh and, in the UAE, the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah.

“2016 was our most successful year yet in terms of the number of new hotels we signed, which averaged more than one a month and grew our pipelined portfolio by more than 30 per cent,” said Olivier Chavy, President and CEO, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.

“We not only consolidated our position in key growth markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand, where we are now a dominant player, but signed management agreements for properties in strategic locations where we will introduce the Mövenpick brand for the first time, in some cases, setting new hospitality standards that we believe will become an industry benchmark.

“We enter 2017 in high confidence, building on our achievements over the past 12 months with firm plans to further grow our portfolio in line with our ambitious global expansion strategy. We’re well on track to operating over 100 properties by 2020.”

The regional breakdown

In Asia, where Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts currently operates 11 properties with 20 more in the pipeline, the company signed five new properties, three of which were in Thailand - Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok (2017), Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai (2017) and Mövenpick Resort Mai Khao (2018).

The company also signed deals for Mövenpick Hotel Khulna, its first property in Bangladesh, and Mövenpick Hotel Quang Binh in Vietnam, both of which are scheduled to open in 2020.

At the same time, the 260-room Mövenpick Siam Hotel Pattaya on popular Na Jomtien Beach opened for business – the first five-star property outside of Pattaya’s city centre.

In the Middle East, currently home to 31 Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts properties with twelve more in the development pipeline, four new management agreements were signed. They included the newly opened Mövenpick Hotel Al Aziziyah Doha, in Qatar, plus Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Al Burj Business Bay, Dubai, UAE and Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Al Tahlia, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which are both set to open in 2018. The 550-room Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, has a mooted 2019 opening date.

2016 also saw the opening of the 228-room Mövenpick Hotel City Star Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – a unique European-style hotel which is Mövenpick’s third property in the Kingdom’s city.

In Africa, where the firm has 25 properties and four more in active development, the company opened a landmark property, the Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech, with 503 rooms and Morocco’ largest congress centre. It is the firm’s third property in Morocco, with the two others located in Casablanca and Tangier. Deals have also been signed for properties in Tunisia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire.

In Europe, the company currently operates 21 properties and plans to open the 262-key Mövenpick Congress Hotel Stuttgart, Germany and the 260-key Mövenpick Hotel Basel, Switzerland in 2019.

Green Globe

In 2016, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts made history as the most ‘Green Globe certified hotel company in the world’. The certification body’s 2015 report revealed the Swiss hospitality firm had an overall average compliance score of 84 per cent, an impressive 2.5 per cent higher than the average of all Green Globe certified members worldwide (81.5 per cent).

At the end of 2016, more than 63 of the company’s properties were Green Globe certified and more than half of those (35), had achieved the prestigious Green Globe Gold Member status, with more currently working towards this standard.

Awards

2016 also saw a long list of properties recognised by renowned programmes such as the World Travel Awards, Haute Grandeur Awards and Condé Nast Traveler Awards.

At the World Travel Awards, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Dead Sea was named ‘Best Luxury Resort Spa 2016’; Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach was crowned ‘Best Luxury Contemporary/Stylish Hotel 2016’; and Mövenpick Hotel Hanoi received the ‘Best Boutique Hotel in South East Asia 2016’ accolade. In Europe, Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Center was ranked 9th in Condé Nast Traveler’s ‘Top 10 Best Hotels of Amsterdam’ listing and Mövenpick Hotel Istanbul was named one of US News & World Reports’ ‘Best Hotels in Europe’ 2016-2017.

2017 development plans

In 2017, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has already made its debut in Sri Lanka, with the opening of Mövenpick Hotel Colombo, and also in Bali with Mövenpick Resort & Spa Jimbaran.

Five more properties are on schedule to open across Asia and Africa, including Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi, which will be the firm’s first property in Kenya.

The remaining four new properties on track for a 2017 opening are: Mövenpick Hotel Les Berges Du Lac Tunis in Tunisia, Mövenpick Resort & Spa Boracay in the Philippines and in Thailand, Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok and Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai.

“We start the year as we mean to go on, forging ahead with our ambitious development plans, building on our sustainability successes, and bringing our award-winning Swiss hospitality to new locations across the globe,” concluded Chavy.

CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS

More than one million visitors will enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Asia when the city comes alive for the 2017 Sydney Chinese New Year Festival, that kicked off on Friday evening.

This vibrant arts festival has a program bursting with cultural events, markets, tours, exhibitions and entertainment, most of them free.

Be part of the fun as the city’s streets come alive with giant lunar lanterns and more. Festival-goers can take a short stroll around Circular Quay to discover 12 larger-than-life animal signs of the Lunar Zodiac, which have been created using the latest technology blended with classical Chinese techniques.

Don’t miss the extremely popular Dragon Boat Races on 11 February that will see the spirit and power of the dragon come alive as 12-metre long boats, with up to 20 paddlers, battle it out to the beating of drums!

With more than 80 events to choose from between now and 12 February 2017, visit the Sydney Chinese New Year website to plan your festival experience.

Watch Destination NSW’s Happy Lunar New Year e-card here.

2017 Gourmet Food Tours: Vietnam, Burma & Cambodia

Savour Southeast Asia's food scene with award-winning cookbook author Robert Carmack and textile authority Morrison Polkinghorne. The Globetrotting Gourmet duo host three gourmet small-group tours in 2017. Join them in Hanoi and northern Vietnam in April and in July the duo return to Burma/Myanmar, following their win for Best Asian cookbook, The Burma Cookbook”. Cambodia rates a trip in late September, including the former French colonial city of Battambang, where the pair run deluxe hotel Bric-à-Brac (www.Bric-a-Brac.Asia).

Northern Vietnam: Revolutionary Cuisine & Dining Revelry

3-10 April
Not only do you see all the local sites, the dynamic duo have organised a series of unique meals, such as a morning pho noodle soup "crawl" on rickshaws through Hanoi's Old Quarter, and a cooking class with celebrity chef Didier Corlou. Deluxe accommodation, including gala final dinner at Verticale, arguably the country's finest restaurant. Plus optional pre- or post-tour options to Ha Long Bay & the highlands of Sapa.
Priced from US$2695. Single supplement special: we'll absorb the surcharge!

Savouring Burma + Savoury Rangoon

2-11 July + 11-16 July
Tour Burma with the authors of The Burma Cookbook, winner for Best Asian cookbook of the year at World Gourmand awards. Discover a world where time stands still, but whose culinary delights trek new roads. Beginning upcountry in the imperial capital Mandalay, the floating villages of Inle Lake, and ancient Bagan from 2-11 July; with a consecutive tour running 11-16 July in Rangoon and environs, staying exclusively at The Strand Hotel.
Priced from US$2495. Special: Join both tours and get one extra night free at The Strand.

Cambodia: Temples & Tastings

25 September - 4 October
Cambodia is famed for its ancient Khmer temples but less known for its delicate cuisine, a crossroads between fresh Vietnamese and fiery Thai. Few know this country better than Robert and Morrison, former Sydneysiders who now call Cambodia home. Their tour begins in Phnom Penh, and includes little-visited temples along the frontier plus the charming colonial city of Battambang. The tour ends in Siem Reap with a gala dinner at Cambodia's finest, and includes cooking tours, market tours and temples galore, plus meeting the country's best cooks and chefs.
Priced from US$2870. Early bird special: save $250 per couple, $150 single.

The boys at Globetrotting Gourmet note a trend emerging in food travel. Rather than just learning a series of recipes, participants seek grounded knowledge of ingredients, taste combinations and technique, to explore Asian cooking through tastings, market tours and by talking to the local experts.

"People want the genuine experience, something they can't achieve on their own. So they come to us," explains director Robert Carmack. "These are not cooking class tours, they are truly food and culture tours -- and better yet, we include all the cultural highlights as well. And we ensure you are eating deliciously throughout."

Globetrotting Gourmet food tours, now in its second decade, offers just a few trips a year– and each one is unique, taking food lovers well off the beaten track, to a world of Asian authenticity. Each program is personally organised and hosted by Robert and Morrison.

"If we simply farmed the tour off to a local company, they would presume wrongly what our clientele wants. They want authenticity, uniqueness, and a chance to break baguettes with the locals. So we organise the sites and restaurants ourselves," explains co-host Morrison. “It's much more fulfilling and it definitely works, as we have so many repeat customers.”

Tour details and full itineraries available at www.globetrottinggourmet.com.

CLIA Australasia Announces 2016 Cruise Award Finalists

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia has announced the finalists for the 2016 Cruise Industry Awards, with a pool of 19 awards on offer at the cruise industry’s annual ‘night of nights’.

More than 500 agents and industry members from across Australia and New Zealand will gather at the Star Event Centre Sydney on Saturday February 11, 2017, for the 16th annual gala event.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia today released the list of finalists with an extra category up for grabs this year – the inaugural Plan a Cruise Month Agency promotion. (See below for list of finalists)

CLIA Australasia Managing Director Joel Katz said the 2016 awards dinner was sure to be the best yet, with finalists being recognised from across Australia and New Zealand.

“The Cruise Industry Awards is a great way for our member cruise lines to recognise and reward the outstanding achievements of agents who are at the forefront of the industry’s impressive growth. After a record year of cruising down under, we’re looking forward to a fitting celebration,” Mr Katz said.

Nominations in the categories of Agent Promotion of the Year and Network Promotion of the Year have been submitted by CLIA member agencies.

Entrants for the other categories, which include Cruise Agency of the Year (bronze, silver and gold), Online Agency of the Year, Homebased Agent of the Year, Cruise Consultant of the Year, the Rising Star award and the latest entrant to the CLIA Hall of Fame, are nominated by member cruise lines.

Emirates and Dubai Tourism are headline sponsors of the evening, while popular Channel 7 personality Larry Emdur will MC the event.

A handful of seats are still available for the event. For bookings visit www.cruising.org.au or www.cruising.org.nz.

2016 CRUISE INDUSTRY AWARD NOMINEES

Cruise Agency of the Year - Australia

Bicton Travel, Perth WA
Cruiseabout, Kew VIC
Phil Hoffmann Travel, Glenelg SA
The Cruise Centre, Savenio QLD
Wings Away Travel & Cruise, VIC

Cruise Agency of the Year - New Zealand

House of Travel Orewa
Cruiseabout Parnell
Helloworld Howick
House of Travel Motueka
Pukekohe Travel

Online Agency of the Year - Australia

Clean Cruising
Cruise Republic
Ozcruising
Cruise Guru

Online Agency of the Year – New Zealand

Cruise Republic
iCruise
Lets Cruise

Home Based/Mobile Agent of the Year - Australia

Sarah Fenton - MTA Mobile Travel Agent
Derek Harwood – TravelManagers
Melissa Pointon - MTA Mobile Travel Agent
Carl Retschlag - TravelManagers

Broker of the Year – New Zealand

Debbie Bradford - NZ Travel Brokers
Mary Houghton - NZ Travel Brokers
Janine Mallon - Tasty Tours
Nicola Sorenson - NZ Travel Brokers

Cruise Consultant of the Year - Australia

Deborah Long, Weston Travel & Cruise ACT
Martine Hero, Clean Cruising QLD
Helen McMullen, Cruise Holidays QLD
Phil Smethurst , Bicton Travel WA

Cruise Consultant of the Year - New Zealand

Bruce Blacklock, helloworld Lambton Quay
Samantha Fowler, Cruise Connections
Gerald Patterson, helloworld Howick
Gail Littin, Pukekohe Travel

Rising Star Award - Australia

Prue Herron, South Coast Cruise & Travel NSW
Tracey Jeffries, Albury Travel & Cruise NSW
Hayley Osbourne, Cruise Republic VIC

Rising Star Award - New Zealand

Felicia Collins, Cruise Republic
Melanie Morrison, HOOT Cruises
Kirsty Stewart, House of Travel Hornby

Agency Promotion of the Year - Australasia

Meridian Travel & The Cruise Gallery VIC – “Rockin' the Mekong with Elvis”
Dream Maker Travel QLD – “Avalon Waterways cruise with Ian Healy”

Network Promotion of the Year - Australasia

iTravel (Australia) – “Come cruise with us”
Phil Hoffmann Travel (Australia) – “River Cruise Launch Events with APT”
helloworld (New Zealand) – “Set Sail”

Plan a Cruise Month Agency Promotion Award - Australasia

Bon Voyage Cruises & Travel - New Zealand
CruiseAway by Dreamlines - Australia
helloworld Rotorua - New Zealand

Media Award

Brad Crouch, “One for the money” (Escape, News Limited)
Caroline Gladstone, “A World of Harmony” (Sun Herald Traveller, Fairfax)
Brian Johnston, “Sail of the Centuries” (The Age/SMH Traveller, Fairfax)

LUNAR NEW YEAR FESTIVIES AT SEMAWIS MARKET IN SEMARANG

The city of Semarang, capital city of Central Java province, is known for its numerous Chinese temples and monasteries. Semarang is where Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho during his journeys to the archipelago first set foot on Java's soil and sojourned here the longest. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that this city has one of the oldest Chinatown areas in the country which continues to draw visitors to explore.

This year, do plan to visit Semarang on Chinese New Year, on 8th February 2016, where you can witness and experience genuine Chinese New Year festivities as presented by the Chinese Indonesian Peranakan community of Semarang.

A must-see destination one should definitely not miss while in Semarang is the Semawis market. Located at Gang Warung street, the Semawis Market or sometimes called Warung Semawis was originally a night market in Chinatown that was held a few days before the Chinese New Year celebrations. Lately, Semawis market was revitalized to commemorate the 600 years anniversary of Admiral Cheng Ho's arrival in the Indonesian archipelago.

The Semawis market was initiated by the Semawis Coffee Community and Semarang's Chinatown Community for Tourism. Located just a short 10 minutes' drive from the Semarang Tawang train station, here you can find hundreds of booths offering a gamut offoodstalls, ranging from Semarang traditional food (such as nasi Semarang spring rolls or lumpia, gudeg, nasi pindang, and soto, sate, chicken rice, babat fried rice, etc.), to Middle Eastern meals, Pakistani and Indian cuisine and of course typical Chinese cuisine to be enjoyed.

During the celebrations, there will also be a stage for entertainment presenting typical Chinese Peranakan art such as the wayang potehi, Semarang xylophones, jipin, twa why djwee, the lion dance, toyo games, drums, and wushuperformed by those from the nearby temples. At the corners of Chinatown near Gang Warung you can see rows of red lanterns adorning every nook and cranny and hung over the street. And for those curious to know what the future has in store, here you can also find Feng Shui consultant booths, next to traditional Chinese medicine shops.

Beyond Chinese New Year, Semawis market is still interesting to visit. Opening hours are between 18.00 to 23.00 hrs every weekend on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. At Gang Warung, you will find hundreds of food stalls selling all kinds of mouth-watering meals ranging from Javanese, Chinese, Arab, Pakistani, and Indian cuisine. Meanwhile the karaoke stall blaring Mandarin songs will accompany your dinner.

When you arrive at Semawis market early, explore its historic heritage such as the Tay Kak Sie temple in Gang Lombok, the Siu Hok Biotemple (1753) at Wotgandul Timur street, the Liong Hok Bio at Gang Pinggir, and many more. While in Semarang do take time to visit the ancient Sam Poo Kong temple.

Semarang is also a major gateway to see the Borobudur temple.

NEW ACCOMMODATION IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY 2017

Ballie Lodges 

Ballie Lodges 

has unveiled plans for the multi-million dollar enhancement of its acclaimed desert retreat Longitude 131° at Uluru. Works will commence from April 1, 2017 and the lodge will close until July 31, 2017 inclusive. The plans include: a new premium suite, a major redevelopment of the central Dune House, a signature spa facility and re-landscaped swimming pool, and a new dune-top bar and deck. For more information: http://longitude131.com.au/

King Creeks Stat

Dreamtime Escarpment experience at King Creeks Station: 

Escape to secluded glamping tents are positioned along the escarpment of Kings Creek Station. Tents are elevated to provide maximum airflow and views. These spacious and beautifully appointed tents allow you to really experience iconic Australian camping on a truly genuine but luxurious level. For more information: http://www.kingscreekstation.com.au/accommodation/luxury-glamping.html

Upgrades are planned for several tourism attractions near Litchfield National Park. 

Enhancements include the addition of a café at Batchelor Museum, updates to kitchen and dining facilities at Litchfield Motel and the construction of a Helicopter landing pad and car park that will allow for scenic flights over Wangi Falls. For more information: http://newsroom.nt.gov.au/mediaRelease/21172

Food insider: The Spring Festival dish on every Cantonese table

On the eve of Chinese New Year, the have-must dish on every Cantonese dinner table is the magnificent and auspicious poon choi, which contains up to 20 luxury ingredients served in a big wooden or claypot bowl. The dish literally translates to “basin feast” because the dish was originally served in a washbasin.

Poon choi, the main dish on Cantonese dinner tables on the eve of Chinese New Year. [Photo provided by chinadaily.com.cn]

It was commonly believed that the dish was invented during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) to serve a young emperor when he and his army fled to the area around Guangdong province and Hong Kong. To treat them, local villagers cooked all the best food available and placed them in big washbasins for sharing.

With all the delicacies served together in a round container, the dish fosters auspicious meanings of unity and prosperity, and is served during traditional holidays and celebrations.

Cooking the dish is tedious work; it can take up to four days, including time spent preparing the ingredients. Each ingredient needs to be cooked separately, and then layered in a container and cooked again slowly with gravy.

Eating poon choi on Chinese New Year’s eve is a family tradition, especially in the Cantonese-speaking regions in South China. Although today many families skip the tedious work, they don’t skip the food, whether they eat out or have it delivered to their home.

We had a brief conversation with Cheng Chi Keung, executive Chinese chef at Yue, the Chinese restaurant at Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng Hotel, to get to know the dish a bit more on a personal level.

A Hong Kong native, the 58-year-old Cheng has worked in Beijing for 27 years and calls himself an “old Beijinger”. No matter how busy he is, he cooks this dish for his family in Hong Kong every year.

Where did you have this dish last year?\
At home with my family in Hong Kong.

How long does it take to make this dish at home from scratch?
Four days, if counting the process of soaking dried ingredients.

How many ingredients are there in the dish?
Usually between 10-20.

How are the ingredients organized in the basin?
Vegetables such as radish and taro are placed at the bottom so they can be bathed in the broth longer to get a richer taste. The premium ingredients such as abalone, fish maw and scallops are placed on the top. The rest of the ingredients such as tofu and pork are placed in the middle.

What’s the correct way to eat it?
Start from the top, and enjoy as it is prepared—layer by layer.

On Spring Festival eve, do people cook this dish at home in Hong Kong?
Yes, it is a tradition. But nowadays, more and more people prefer to eat in the restaurant or have it delivered to home. Many Hong Kong restaurants have poon choi delivery service.

Do you make this dish every year?
Almost every year. It is our family tradition.

How long do restaurants sell poon choi for during Spring Festival?
Usually until the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.

Besides Spring Festival, when else is the dish served?
When there are celebrations connected with rituals, such as weddings, birthdays and ancestral worship.

Source: chinadaily.com.cn

Victoria gears up for cycling season

Elite cyclists from all over the globe have descended on Melbourne and Geelong to compete in Towards Zero Race Melbourne (26 January, 2017) and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (26 - 29 January, 2017).

Tour de France winner Chris Froome - along with some of the world's best male and female cyclists - will be racing around Melbourne's Australian Formula 1™ Grand Prix track at Albert Park in Victoria's newest major cycling event Towards Zero Race Melbourne. Sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI - cycling's international federation), the exciting criterium (circuit) style race of strategy and power gave crowds a real thrill as cyclists hit speeds of 65kph around the picturesque Albert Park circuit. As well as showcasing some of the world's best cycling action up close, Towards Zero Race Melbourne included a range of family activities that encourage active living and a love of cycling - a unique way to celebrate Australia Day 2017.

Following the fast pace of the Melbourne race, lycra-lovers can then head to Geelong's waterfront for the weekend to watch or participate in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Now in its third year, the race has reached the pinnacle of road cycling, securing a place on the coveted UCI WorldTour racing calendar from 2017 - 2019. The 174km men's one-day classic will now sit alongside the likes of the Tour de France and Europe's prestigious 'Spring Classics', cementing Victoria as one of the top destinations for world-class cycling events outside Europe. Taking place across the weekend, the event includes the Men's and Women's Elite races, a People's Ride that will enable amateurs to tackle 65km or 111km of the course alongside Cadel Evans himself, and a Family Ride.

Of course, there are many other ways competitive or casual cyclists can experience Victoria on two wheels. Be it participating in races, watching friends compete or hitting a trail for a casual weekend ride, the state's cycling events, tracks and trails are world-class.

Cycling events

From off-road competitions on rugged bush trails to urban night rides in support of charity, these upcoming cycling events offer something for everyone – from competitive cyclists to casual peddlers and avid armchair fans who would rather spectate than sweat:

Making the most of Melbourne's bike paths and cycle 'highways', the annual Ride the Night (28 January, 2017) gives cyclists a chance to unite and ride through the night while raising money for charity. With 42 and 64km route options and plenty of on-road support and rest stops, it is an event suitable for everyone from families to seniors.

With a variety of race routes covering a range of distances from 10 to 100km, the Otway Odyssey (25 - 26 February, 2017) brings countless off-road riders of all ages and abilities to the home of off road riding. A variety of race options including mountain bike marathons and gravel grind races, makes this event perfect for riders of all types of bikes - from roadies to mountain bikes. With events suitable for kids and beginners to veteran mountain bikers, all off road cycling enthusiasts are welcome at this event.

RACV Great Ocean and Otway Classic Ride (18 March, 2017) is one of Australia's premier cycling events. The 145km ride features more than 80km of road closures through the picturesque farmlands of the Otway ranges to Lorne and then back along the famous Great Ocean Road to Torquay. With distance options ranging from 30km - 200km, riders of varying fitness and experience levels can enjoy one of the most beautiful drives in the world, on two wheels.

After 30 years, the Murray to Moyne (1 - 2 April, 2017) event continues to bring people together to raise funds for hospitals and health services throughout Victoria. As a team relay, this event is a great way for groups of friends, workmates, or family members to get together and ride from the Murray River south to the Moyne River in Port Fairy in support of a great cause.

A Bicycle Network initiative to get more women on bikes, The Ascent (23 April, 2017) is a ride through Victoria's picturesque Yarra Ranges. With varying route options ranging from 40km - 100km, cyclists can ride comfortably at their competency, fitness and enthusiasm levels.

Known as Australia's ultimate alpine ascent challenge, the Seven Peaks Ride (14 October, 2016 – 31 March, 2017) is an at-your-own pace cycling challenge for experienced mountain bikers unafraid of a physical challenge. With some of Victoria's most infamous peaks on the challenge list (including Mt Baw Baw, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham and Lake Mountain), participants are given a little over five months to tick off the peaks they climb in their official Seven Peaks Passport.

Great Cycling Trails
Outside of these events, Victoria's riding tracks and trails give cyclists of all abilities a chance to experience the great outdoors from the saddle. From the spectacular vistas of the High Country to the coastal charms of the Bellarine Peninsula, these trails are among Victoria's best:

A favourite with foodies and wine lovers, the vineyards, orchards and groves of the High Country provide a picturesque backdrop for a cycling jaunt in nature. With gentle, short rides ideal for people new to cycling, and longer rides for the more ambitious, the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is made up of a range of rides from 5km - 24km long. Whether cyclists stop for a picnic in a meadow or ride right into a microbrewery for lunch, this corner of Victoria has every food, wine and beer base covered.

The Lilydale to Warburton Rail Trail is a well-maintained 40km trail perfect for recreational cyclists and weekend riders. Riding past farmland and forest, cyclists also encounter restored bridges, small townships and historic stock yards on this iconic trail. Ideal for everyone from nature lovers to birdwatchers, cyclists can stop for a picnic in a wildflower-filled pasture, scout out a sausage roll at a local bakery or enjoy a sit-down lunch at a cafe. Either way, this trail is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace.

The Great Southern Rail Trail gives cyclists a chance to be immersed in nature. This 72km trail located in South Gippsland, provides plenty of opportunities for bird watching and native animal spotting. From impressive tree ferns to iconic gumtree glades, the trail is also home to a wide range of botanical life. While a long ride, it can be broken up into smaller sections, making the trail more manageable for children or beginners.

Spanning from South Geelong to Queenscliff, the Bellarine Rail Trail is a 32.5km gravel trail showcasing the very best of the Bellarine Peninsula. A favourite with locals and a popular weekend destination for Melburnians, this part of Victoria is home to wineries, beaches and beautiful landscapes – all visible from the trail itself. From families with young children to lycra-clad veterans, all types of bike riders can be found enjoying this popular trail.

The Goldfield's Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail is 53km long with a gentle gradient that follows the old rail line that has been resurfaced and upgraded for cyclists, walkers and runners. With farmland, bushland, rest stops and small, heritage-filled towns dotted along the way, cyclists of all experience levels can take their time on the trail, going at a pace that suits them, stopping where and when they like. With plenty of accommodation and dining options along the way, it's ideal for a multi-day cycling adventure.

Flower festivals bloom for Tet in Ho Chi Minh City and Da Lat

Nguyen Hue Flower Street
in Ho Chi Minh City
The annual Nguyen Hue Flower Street Festival opened in Ho Chi Minh City on January 25 under the theme ‘The City Named after President Ho Chi Minh – Aspiration for a Bright Future’.

The opening ceremony was attended by National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh, Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Dinh La Thang and Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh, among others.

The 720m long flower street, running from the statue of President Ho Chi Minh in front of the City Hall to Ton Duc Thang Street, has been decorated according to three major topics featuring the spring, the city’s achievements, and the people’s future aspirations.

Flower-made replicas of the city’s iconic constructions such as Nha Rong Wharf, City Hall, Ben Thanh Market, and Phu My Bridge, have also been installed for the event.

The highlight of this year’s festival is a space dedicated to the Chicken, the zodiac sign of 2017. Accordingly, a pair of hens and roosters and their brood of 15 chicks made of iron were installed at the entrance measuring from 0.6 metre to 3.5 metres tall.

The week-long flower street festival is held to provide an entertainment venue for the city’s dwellers and tourists during Tet (the Lunar New Year festival).

On the same day, the Spring Flower Festival kicked off in Da Lat City, the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong.

The event, which will run until February 8, is displaying some 38,000 flowerpots and ornamental trees, and an orchid space with hundreds of kinds of orchids.

Visitors to the festival can also enjoy gong performances and have their own personalized calligraphy paintings made.

Be a Spirited Traveller With Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania has launched a new brand campaign which embraces the motivation and mindset of the 'spirited traveller'.

These 'spirited travellers' choose a different kind of journey when planning their holiday to Tasmania. They would rather take their own car, take more time, have a memorable on-board experience and embark on their own exciting adventure when they arrive at their destination.

The new-look brand campaign is Spirit of Tasmania's first creative campaign in partnership with newly appointed agency; Leo Burnett.

Spirit of Tasmania Chief Executive Officer Bernard Dwyer said 'Be a spirited traveller' captured the adventurous side of travellers who liked to travel their 'own' way.

“This new campaign is all about enhancing the experiences, sights and memories that our passengers, our 'spirited travellers', have when travelling with Spirit of Tasmania,” he said.

“Our passengers care as much about the journey as the destination, absorbing every experience that comes their way.

“The spirited traveller is a broad term, yet it encompasses our passengers who have a more adventurous mindset, in particular our growth target markets of families and couples.

“It was important for this brand refresh to build upon the success surrounding the launch of the newly refurbished Spirit of Tasmania vessels and we are pleased with the creative delivered by Leo Burnett.

“We have projected strong passenger growth, and believe the many interpretations 'Be a spirited traveller' can deliver will further enhance our marketing strategy and drive passenger sales in 2017 and beyond.”

“Getting to your destination can be just as memorable as the place itself, and there's nothing more unique than travelling on Spirit of Tasmania. The new campaign will encourage the adventurous-at-heart to come aboard and create unforgettable moments at sea, and in Tasmania” said Patrick Rowe, General Manager of Leo Burnett Melbourne.

The 'Be a spirited traveller' campaign is on TV, online and outdoor.

Spirited travellers can come aboard at spiritoftasmania.com.au

Monday, 30 January 2017

LAST CHANCE TO VISIT NUDE: ART FROM THE TATE COLLECTION

The spectacular Nude: Art from the Tate collection exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW – part of the Sydney International Art Series – will close on Sunday 5 February, with final tickets still available.

At the heart of the show lies the world’s most famous image of erotic love, Auguste Rodin’s sculpture The kiss 1901-04. Never before has this work from Tate’s collection left Europe.

Other notable works include Pierre Bonnard’s The bath 1925, Picasso’s Nude woman in a red armchair 1932, Sylvia Sleigh’s Paul Rosano reclining 1974, Ron Mueck’s Wild man 2005 and Rineke Dijkstra’s Julie, Den Haag, Netherlands, February 29 1994.

Each artist in the exhibition offers a different way of looking at the naked human body. Some look tenderly; some idealise it; some look anxiously or politically. Together they show how the nude in art has persisted yet changed, shifting shape and acquiring new meanings in the hands of successive generations, from the idealising painters of the Victorian era to the artist-provocateurs of our time.

Nude: art from the Tate collection is a thought provoking tour through many major art movements, including romanticism, cubism, expressionism, realism, surrealism and feminism. It is also a story of beauty, truth, desire, vulnerability and human drama.

The presentation of this exhibition is a collaboration between Tate and the Art Gallery of NSW, and part of the 2016-17 Sydney International Art Series.

Visit the Art Gallery of NSW website to buy tickets.

Image: Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) The kiss (Le baiser) 1901-04.

USHER IN THE YEAR OF THE ROOSTER & SET YOUR HEART AFLUTTER THIS VALENTINE’S DAY WITH MONTIGO RESORTS, NONGSA!

Soak in the vibrant ambience of the Lunar New Year with fire crackers and lion dance performances and surprise someone special this Valentine’s day at the upscale multi-generational resort, Montigo Resorts, Nongsa in Batam, Indonesia!

Kickstart the first day of the year of the Rooster on an auspicious note with greetings from the God of Fortune, toss to a prosperous new year with Pantai Restaurant’s prosperity salmon Yu Sheng and indulge in a specially curated Chinese New Year Set Menu featuring steamed seabass with Shanghai sauce, sauteed scallops, doubleboiled superior bird’s nest and many more!

Dine amongst spectacular fireworks and sway along to the live music at Tadd’s, which will feature a lavish festive dinner buffet spread with unlimited plates of smoked salmon, roasted duck and chicken, and celebrate in style with a 15% discount on wines. Party and dance at the TIIGO Beach Club, with lively music from our resident DJ from 6pm. Feast by the poolside on the second day of Lunar New Year and on Yuanxiao Festival (11 February 2017) with a BBQ buffet – tantalising meats and seafood grilled meticulously to your liking.

Romance By The Sea

Spoil your special someone this Valentine’s day with an amorous candlelight dinner by the jetty or sand park, accompanied by the soft, warm glow of fairy lights against the breathtaking view of the South China Sea.

The luxurious 6-course dinner menu will feature the Hiyashi Soba on ice, TIIGO Martini, a choice between a seafood platter or beef with foie gras, and ending off with the Trio Pana Cotta dessert. Sustain the mood after dinner with handcrafted cocktails by the pool created by our bartenders at the TIIGO Beach Club.

 For reservations and more information, please contact: Montigo Resorts, Nongsa: +62 778 776 8888

CITADINES ON BOURKE MELBOURNE CELEBRATES CHINESE NEW YEAR

On Friday 27th January until Sunday February 12th - Citadines on Bourke Melbourne will welcome in the Year of the Rooster with traditional Chinese New Year theming, fortune cookies and a special Lion Dance for guests and the general public to enjoy.

Adorned with traditional red lanterns and offering customised fortune cookies filled with messages of luck and prosperity, Citadines on Bourke Melbourne will be transformed into a cultural hub full of colour and live entertainment.

From 2pm on Friday 27th January, two vibrant lucky lions will roam Coromandel Lane and deliver a festive 20 minute performance known as the Seven Star Romancing the Moon. A full music percussion team will create sounds from the drum, gong, and cymbalist as both lions dance their way through the lane for good luck, fortune and wealth.

Guests and the public will receive oranges that customarily represent gold, good fortune and wealth, before getting the chance to take photos with the lions and their auspicious Chinese lucky scrolls.

Citadines on Bourke Melbourne invites the public to come along to join in on the biggest cultural event on the lunar calendar.

The Citadines on Bourke Melbourne Lion Dance will take place from 2pm-2.30pm on Friday 27th January 2017 and is located at Ground Floor, 131-135 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Apart’hotel Citadines on Bourke Melbourne

Paper-cuttings welcome New Year

Famous print artist Wang Shaotang has created a new paper-cutting work, Jiqingyouyu, to welcome the year of the rooster.

The art of paper-cutting in China may date back to the second century AD, since paper was invented by Cai Lun in the Eastern Han Dynasty(25-220 AD) in China. 

As paper became more affordable, paper-cutting became one of the most important of Chinese folk arts. 

Later, the art form spread to other parts of the world, with different regions adopting their own cultural styles.

Because the cut-outs are often used to decorate doors and windows, they are sometimes referred to as Chuang Hua, window flowers or window paper-cuts.

People glue the paper cuts to the exterior of windows, so the light from the inside can shine through the negative space of the cutout.

Usually, the artworks are made of red paper, as red is associated with festivities and happiness in Chinese culture, but other colors are also used.

They often appear at Spring Festival, weddings and childbirth, and always symbolize luck and happiness.

BIG, HUGE, MEGA Waterslide Park for the Whitsundays

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort is thrilled to announce they are building one of Australia’s largest resort waterslide parks, with a choice of 13 different twisting and turning water slides to take kids on a whole new adventure.

Designed for young families, there will be a fabulous choice of slides with different speeds, heights and lengths. The massive overall area of the waterslide park will be equivalent to an Olympic swimming pool and features mini slides including a frog and an octopus, tipping bucket, water features for toddlers and a 300mm deep splash pool.

Owner Greg McKinnon says, “my kids and I have been visiting water parks for years and I wanted to design a children’s paradise for the Whitsundays. We’ve had great fun putting all the elements together. The slides come off two-metre-high elevated platforms, which are linked by bridges, and range in length from 17 metres to 23.2 metres. We have themed the colours of the waterslide park around the beautiful corals of the Great Barrier Reef.”

With a perfect sub-tropical climate, families will be able to keep their cool and enjoy the entertainment all year round. The height and speed of the slides are designed for maximum enjoyment for young children. Parents will have peace of mind that their children are happily playing in a safe environment with their holiday buddies. The beauty of this new waterslide park facility is that all in-house guests will automatically receive complimentary admission.

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort is set amidst 26 acres of tropical gardens and already has a 32 metre lagoon style pool with two water slides and fountains along with a host of other facilities including two giant jumping pillows, 18-hole mini golf, outdoor cinema, tennis court, pedal carts and an Animal Park. It is a favourite destination even for local families who can’t go past all there is on offer.

Construction of the waterslide park has now begun with the stone pitched boundary wall underway, with the entire project expected to be completed by April. The design and construction has been undertaken by a Townsville company, TQ Aquatics, who also built the existing lagoon style resort pool at BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort.

Go to www.adventurewhitsunday.com.au or phone 1300 640 587 if you would like more information on how to splash out on your next family holiday!

Peach flower festival kicks off in Lang Son

Over 200 beautiful peach trees in full blossom are on display at the Peach Flower Festival, which is being held for the first time in the northern province of Lang Son.

The festival is the highlight of a series of events to celebrate Lunar New Year 2017. It is also expected to contribute to the preservation and promotion of Lang Son’s peach flowers, turning them into a symbol of the province.

The area is divided into two sections - scenery and peach flower exhibition. In the first section that is arranged based on the theme Nui-Song va Hoa (Mountain-River and Flower), visitors can contemplate the beauty of the peach flowers that Lang Son province has been endowed with. The second section - the peach flower exhibition - is set up on peach path decorated with 65 peach trees.

A variety of art performances are also taking place as part of the festival, including then and sli (folk songs of the ethnic Nung in the region) singing and dragon dancing.

The festival will last until February 6.

Britain Calling January 2017

Happy New Year and Welcome to the first Britain Calling Media Newsletter of the year. 2017 is crammed full of exciting new events, attractions, accommodation, restaurants and so much more.

Start the year with a bang, our Accommodation Update is crammed with the new hotels and spas around Britain. Why stop there, partnered with a choice of restaurant from our TASTE newsletter, is a match made in heaven.

Scotland continues it's 'years of', with the 2017 year of History, Heritage and Archaeology to enjoy. Take in the magnitude of incredible views and a country that is soaked in culture.

2017 is the year to check in somewhere new, 48 hours in... The Cotswolds, what will you discover? Look forward to a summer full of Britain's biggest music festivals. June through to September is FULL of spectacular performances.

Remember to share your Amazing Moments in Britain with us too using #OMGB

Accommodation Update - December 2016

Read our latest Accommodation Update, brought to you by VisitBritain's Destination PR team.

Highlights in this issue include news on The Good Hotel - London's first floating hotel - and the refurbishment of Scotland's Gleneagles Hotel, famous for its outstanding golfing facilities. There's also details of a new five-star shepherd's hut in Yorkshire, as well as Southampton's first-ever five-star hotel, due to open next June.

To find out more click here.

TASTE - January 2017

This edition of TASTE brings you VisitBritain's latest round-up of new restaurant openings and foodie news from across the country, including the Nordic trend, London's new floating seafood restaurant, an afternoon tea tour of Edinburgh on a vintage Routemaster bus, and a new traditional Sunday roast burger. And much, much more!

To read more click here.

Highlights of Scotland's 2017 Year of History, Heritage, and Archaeology

VisitScotland has unveiled some of its highlights of its 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, offering visitors the chance to relive the country's fascinating past through a range of events and activities.

A Great Roman Bake-Off, large scale projections of Viking imagery, a live archaeological dig of St Kilda in Minecraft and a colourful international weaving festival, are just a few of the events lined up to make history in 2017.

Read more to see what the Highlights of the year include.

48 hours in... The Cotswolds

With cottages built of honey-hued stone, sleepy country pubs, and softly undulating green hills, The Cotswolds is a world away from the hustle and bustle of London. Just two hours west of the capital, and close to other major British cities including Birmingham, Bristol and Oxford, this picturesque region is the perfect place to swap Jimmy Choo heels for Hunter wellies.

Read more about how to get the most out of the city in 48 hours here.

Enjoy a summer of music at Britain's biggest festivals

Indie band Radiohead were recently revealed as one of the headliners of Britain's most-famous musical festival, Glastonbury. Tickets for Glastonbury sell out extremely quickly, but Britain hosts hundreds of music festivals all year round, with something to choose from almost every weekend of the summer.

Why not take a trip to one of the following? Find out more here.

Hashtag #WIBF17 to win a trip to Bali!

Post a photo that makes you think about Indonesia for your chance to win a holiday for 2 in Bali.

The prize includes 3 days/2 nights' accommodation at the Grand Inna Kuta and return flights with Jetstar.

Just complete this Facebook form.

Post a photo to your Instagram or Twitter account, or to the Wonderful Indonesia AU Facebook Page for your chance to win a holiday for two people at the Grand Inna Kuta, valued at $3500. The prize includes two nights accommodation and return Economy tickets for two people from your closest Australian capital city to Denpasar. Terms and conditions apply, please refer to the Official Rules for more information.

ARTS & CULTURE IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY 2017

Field of Light
Due to popular demand, Voyages Ayers Rock Resort will be extending Field of Light by 12 months through March 31, 2018. The offering was originally slated to end in March 2017. The magnificent art installation at Uluru features more than 50,000 frosted-glass spheres that bloom as darkness falls over Australia's spiritual heartland. Clients can experience the installation with a Field of Light Star Pass or A Night at Field of Light dinner. For more information: https://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/events/detail/field-of-light-uluru

The Bombing of Darwin Harbour and Royal Flying Doctor Service Experience at Stokes Hill Wharf transports visitors back in time to February 19, 1942 to experience what it was like in Darwin during the largest ever single attack mounted on Australia by a foreign power. For more information: http://rfdsdarwin.com.au/bombing-of-darwin-harbour-february-19th-1942


SEIT Outback Australia is proud to be partnering with another territory business ATG Downunder to bring visitors a fabulous and completely unique dining experience set along one of Australia's most iconic natural wonders, Uluru Fork and View features a distinct dining experience paired with . For more information: http://www.seitoutbackaustralia.com.au

The Araluen Arts Centre has launched a new website that features an online ticket booking system as well as a digital catalogue of selected works in the Araluen Art Collection. For more information: http://www.araluenartscentre.nt.gov.au

“Journey the dreaming,” a new cultural walking tour, provides visitors to Alice Springs with insights into aboriginal traditions and more than 40,000 years of indigenous history in Australia. For more information: https://www.discovercentralaustralia.com/accommodation/journey-the-dreaming/82662

The Evolution of the Museum Art Hotel - Welcome QT Museum Wellington

The famed Museum Art Hotel has changed its name following more than a $12m makeover, to QT Museum Wellington. This is the first New Zealand location for the boutique design- driven hotel collection QT Hotels & Resorts.

Each QT Hotel and Resort is inspired by and embodies the unique culture of its location. Embracing the creative culture of the Capital, QT Museum Wellington delivers a unique experience blending art, design and a dash of the absurd, resulting in cool luxury. With the needs of the modern traveler in mind, QT Museum Wellington also features high tech, sophisticated spaces, sassy private hire venues & a paradise for foodies with the acclaimed Hippopotamus Restaurant & Bar.

The refurbished public spaces and soon to be completed hotel rooms have been thoughtfully and creatively conceived by architect and designer Shelley Indyk. Indyk has created a bold backdrop to display the quirky art, offering a touch of Hollywood glamour whilst respecting the philosophy of the hotel.

The hotel's room designs have been taken to a new level by Indyk including luxury modern traveller perks unique to the design-driven brand – from night caps to emergency bow-ties and other quirky amenities. Finishing touches have been created by stylist Anna Roberts and staff costumes by celebrated Broadway costume designer Janet Hine.

QT Managing Director, David Seargeant, says the refurbishment and rebranding represents the evolution whilst paying homage to the unique history of the hotel.

“In acquiring this iconic hotel brimming with personality which has become a favourite for visitors and locals alike, we wanted to evolve and build on its unique character. We have developed this by highlighting the eclectic feel whilst ensuring the quirky character of the QT brand features strongly”.

Chris Parkin says he's delighted with the integrity QT has had in retaining the hotel's unique cultural significance.

“The QT brand aligns so well with my original vision and philosophy for the hotel. It's heartening to see the legacy the Museum Art Hotel has built, evolve with the stunning QT makeover and now rightfully aligned with the new name QT Museum Wellington.”

The hotel's eccentric and eclectic art collection will continue to be displayed throughout the public spaces and will continue to unfold, selected by Amanda Love, QT Hotels Art Curator.

QT Museum Wellington doesn't stop at signature QT style in public spaces and rooms. The beloved and acclaimed Hippopotamus Restaurant & Bar will continue to serve exquisite French-inspired fare under the direction of Executive Chef Laurent Loudeac. Wellington can also expect a new eatery to rival the city's exceptional restaurant and bar scene mid-2017, in the form of a Japanese/Korean street food inspired bar Hot Sauce.

The hotel has operated under the direction of QT Hotels & Resorts since its sale in 2015. QT currently holds seven boutique properties across Australia and New Zealand, QT Queenstown will be next installment of the boutique design-driven collection of hotels.

www.qthotels.com.au

Honour Our Anzacs on New 7 Night Anzacs Day Cruise

Celebrate Anzac Day and honour our Anzacs on a special seven-night Captain Cook Cruises Anzac Cruise, featuring the new Upper Murraylands Cruise itinerary. The Anzac Cruise departs Friday, 21 April, 2017, onboard Paddlewheeler, PS Murray Princess.

The Anzac cruise combines the new Upper Murraylands itinerary with Anzac Day festivities and entertainment including a special dawn service followed by a traditional Gun Fire Breakfast and a game of Two-Up. In the evening enjoy the delicious Captain's Dinner.

The rest of the cruise will visit the northern area of the Murray River from Mannum to Morgan, exploring Australia's riverlands history.

Visit the historic towns of Waikerie, Morgan and Swan Reach and be taken on fascinating guided walks. At Blanchetown encounter the unique experience of going through Lock No. 1 (one of thirteen along the river).

Wine lovers will enjoy lunch and wine tastings at Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre and a vineyard tour and cellar door tastings at Burk Salter Boutique Winery and Caudo Vineyard.

Learn about Aboriginal history at the amazing Ngaut Ngaut Aboriginal Reserve - one of Australia's most significant archaeological sites and enjoy a guided boardwalk tour of ancient rock carvings.

Fall in love with the animals during a visit to a Native Wildlife Shelter and experience a fun and very Australian Woolshed Shearing Show.

Get up close to the river birds, wildlife and limestone cliffs on-board the 'Dragon-Fly' flat- bottomed boat.

Onboard, join the Captain for a general inspection of the wheelhouse, participate in a lively music quiz, play some bocce on the riverbank, relax with some fishing off the vessel or sit back on the open top-deck or in one of two air conditioned paddlewheel lounges and admire the amazing views as the Murray Princess cruises past towering limestone cliffs, through picturesque gorges and along riverbanks lined with mallee scrub and red gum forests.

Food onboard the Murray Princess is a highlight of the cruise. 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. There is a spectacular Captain's dinner and dance to enjoy and even an Aussie style barbecue dinner and bush dance on the river bank.

The 7 Night Upper Murraylands Anzac Cruise departs Friday, 21 April, 2017 and Early Booking Saver Fares start from $2014 per person twin share (based on an inside cabin with 2 single beds).

All fares include accommodation, all meals, guided nature walks, eco-excursions, onboard presentations, the Captain's Dinner and Dance, live entertainment, use of the sauna, spa, sun deck, bar, two lounges, restaurant and mini gymnasium. Complimentary return coach transfers are available to and from selected Adelaide CBD hotels or return to the Adelaide Airport or secure car parking in Mannum. Private car transfers are also an option to and from Adelaide CBD and return to the Adelaide Airport.

For further information visit www.murrayprincess.com.au

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Macca’s goes Big this Australia Day with Mac-nificent tribute to Aussie farmers

  • The Down Under Big Big Mac joins famous Aussie Big Things
Macca’s has kicked off this year’s Australia Day celebration in the biggest way it can, showing the love to local legends who produce ingredients for one of its classics, with the launch of the Down Under Big Big Mac.

From the Big Banana, to the Big Prawn and Merino, the Down Under Big Big Mac has been added to Australia’s famous list of ‘big things’ that honour local produce, as a thanks to the Aussie farmers that make the iconic Big Mac so great.

The towering tribute, over 8 metres tall, was officially unveiled in the agricultural hub of

Tamworth, NSW by Tamworth Region Mayor, Col Murray, this Australia Day (26 January 2017).

Jo Feeney, Director of Marketing at Macca’s, says “With locally sourced beef, lettuce, pickles and wheat, it’s our homegrown ingredients that help make the Big Mac an Aussie favourite. We think the Down Under Big Big Mac is a fitting way to say thanks to our Aussie farmers and suppliers in Australia.”

Col Murray, Tamworth Region Mayor, says “We’re incredibly excited to welcome the Down Under Big Big Mac to Tamworth. Agriculture is at the heart of our community with farmers taking great pride in supplying the tastiest and best produce. The Down Under Big Big Mac is a great way to say thanks to the farmers here in Tamworth and across the country who help keep Australian agriculture prosperous.”

Those in Tamworth today will be able to get a bite of the action, by heading to Waler Park (Kable Avenue) and snapping a pic with the ‘you-beaut’ monument.

Aussies further afield can give their own nod to the country’s farmers by enjoying their Big Mac ‘Down Under’ style, upside down, and sharing a snap on social this Australia Day.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CHINESE NEW YEAR IN SAN FRANCISCO

On Jan. 28, 2017, San Francisco will welcome the Year of the Rooster. Or if you prefer, it’s the year 4715 on the lunar calendar. In San Francisco as in other Chinese population centers, the first days of the Year of the Rooster will be celebrated within the immediate family circle. While most of the festivities will be concentrated in Chinatown and San Francisco’s downtown area, there are activities scheduled throughout the city. For more details, check out our handy festival guide to this year’s events.

Year of the Rooster

According to lunar new year pros, the Year of the Rooster will be a good year for innovation and improvisation. Business should thrive under the rooster's influence. And Bay Area sports teams should be optimistic, too.

According to several astrological sources, people born in the Year of the Rooster (1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2017) are very observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous and talented. Roosters are very confident about themselves. Famous individuals born in the Year of the Rooster include: Beyonce Knowles, Paris Hilton, Steve Martin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Yoko Ono, Serena Williams, Benjamin Franklin, Bette Midler, Prince Phillip, Nancy Reagan and Brigham Young.

Dim Sum and Then Some

There is little doubt that Chinese food in America as we know it started in San Francisco in the mid-1800s. The adaption of Chinese cuisine has gone through countless transformations and has produced some of the best restaurants on the West Coast.

Explore Chinatown and Union Square

Most Chinese New Year activities will be in Chinatown, the oldest and one of the largest of its kind in the United States. The parade will start on Market Street, snaking around downtown with the final point on the parade route in the heart of Chinatown. Join Linda Lee as she navigates this neighborhood on a video tour of this community.
Night Moves

No New Year’s celebration is complete without small aperitifs. Although San Francisco's night scene will be bustling with new spots, don’t forget these essential old school classics that will take you on a trip to the past.

Walking Tours

Chinatown’s rich history is difficult to condense. Luckily, San Francisco City Guides, Wok Wiz Tours and All About Chinatown Tours are reliable ways to get educated about this storied neighborhood as you explore with all your senses. Be sure to include a visit to the Chinese Historical Society of America in your plans for a deeper understanding of the community, too.

There Are Dragons. And There Are Lions.

Be sure you know the difference between a dragon and a lion when you’re talking about lunar wildlife. The mascot of the annual Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year parade measures 268 feet long and takes a team of more than 100 men and women from martial arts group White Crane to propel the dragon along the parade route. While there are some smaller versions, there’s no mistaking the behemoth that climaxes the parade amid a fusillade of firecrackers. Lions, on the other hand, usually only require two performers – one to handle the head and another for the tail; in most cases, the tail extends about 12 feet.

What’s All the Noise About?

Firecrackers, beating drums, gongs and crashing cymbals drive away evil spirits. Throughout the Chinese New Year celebration and especially on parade night, the festivities will be preceded by a loud outburst of firecrackers. Bring earplugs.
Insider Tips

You can read our full guide on how to best experience the Chinese New Year Parade.

AUSTRALIA'S QUINTESSENTIAL BUSH POETRY FESTIVAL

Banjo Paterson
A festival celebrating the life and work of one of Australia’s most loved literary icons will take place in Regional NSW next month.

The Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Festival runs for 10 days from 16-26 February 2017 in his birthplace, Orange in Central NSW.

The Festival comprises five signature events – the Rotary Brekky & Poetry in the Park; Banjo’s Birthday Breakfast; the renowned Banjo Paterson Night Market; the gorgeous Emmaville Cottage Family Market Day, featuring artisanal local craft and produce; and the Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Competition.

In a region renowned for its quality cool-climate wine and a dream destination for foodies, the Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Festival provides a very hospitable umbrella of culture.

For the first time, the event is also broadening its scope to embrace the richness and diversity of the Wiradjuri nation’s cultural heritage, with Indigenous Cultural Tours hosting ventures with local Elders to ceremonial and sacred sites in the area. There will also be an Indigenous art and craft exhibition and a presentation on local Wiradjuri history at the Orange Regional Art Gallery.

To find out more and see the full program, visit the The Banjo Paterson Australian Poetry Festival website.

AccorHotels Celebrates 200th Milestone in Greater China With the Opening of Fairmont Chengdu

The debut of Fairmont Chengdu marks the 200th property for AccorHotels in Greater China as part of the group's rapid luxury brand expansion. As Fairmont Hotels & Resorts' first property in Western China, Fairmont Chengdu is a landmark hotel in the capital city of Sichuan province, known for its rich history and cultural heritage.

Strategically located at Tianfu Middle Avenue, the city's “Hi-tech Zone”, the hotel is only a 25 minute drive to Shuangliu International Airport and is in close proximity to the metro station that has easy access to Tianfu Square, the upcoming Tianfu International Airport, and the fast developing South CBD zone.

“The opening of Fairmont Chengdu signifies AccorHotels' 200th hotel in Greater China and celebrates the first Fairmont hotel opening following the FRHI acquisition last year,” said Michel Molliet, Chief Operating Officer AccorHotels Greater China. “The strategic location of Fairmont in the fast-changing city of Chengdu symbolizes an important growth strategy for the group's luxury brand development in the China market.”

The hotel lobby features a delicate handmade Shu embroidery landscape of the Qianli Yanxia Jinshuitou otherwise known as Gorgeous Cloud and Waters in Distance. The embroidery is a masterful blend of traditional landscape painting, handwoven tapestry, and modern photography. Its 336 guest rooms and suites offer stunning views of Chengdu's skyline.

MICE facilities include 11 meeting rooms and function spaces. The 730 square metre grand ballroom features natural daylight with an adjoining VIP room.

To wine and dine, the hotel features four restaurants with seven different dining concepts - Spectrum, an all-day dining restaurant at lobby level, offers an array of Asian and Western cuisines. Cube combines a lounge, cocktail bar and Japanese restaurant into an innovative integrated space over three levels of unique architectural design. The first of its kind in Chengdu, Cube is an ideal venue for social activities and private salons. For guests who would like to experience a modern interpretation and style of Sichuan food, Chang Yi, the Chinese restaurant offers spicy delicacies for the adventurous palates. Along with its unique cuisine, guests will also savour the arts, culture and history of the Sichuan Province. Opening mid 2017 with sweeping panoramic views of the city, Manhattan occupies the top floors and will be one of the highest restaurants and bars in the city offering an escape to the vibrant era of 1920s with its art deco inspired décor and ambience.

Fitness enthusiasts can enjoy a light work-out at the Fitness Centre or a leisurely swim in the indoor pool. For a therapeutic spa indulgence, the signature Willow Stream Spa by Fairmont, which is scheduled to open in March 2017, offers an array of holistic therapies designed to rejuvenate and energize the body and soul.

“Each Fairmont property reflects the destination's energy, culture and history through locally inspired cuisine, spirited bars and lounges, distinctive design and décor,” said Jane Mackie, Vice President, Fairmont Brand. “The opening of Fairmont Chengdu is the latest addition to the luxury brand's network of hotels in China joining the renowned Fairmont Peace Hotel in Shanghai, the Fairmont Yangcheng Lake in Kunshan and the Fairmont in Beijing.”

AccorHotels is one of the pioneering international hotel management companies with over 30 years of development experience operating in Greater China. The group has established strong relations with its local partners and its brand portfolio includes such internationally renowned luxury brands as Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel Legend, Sofitel, MGallery by Sofitel, Pullman, and Swissôtel; as well as the popular midscale and boutique brands of Novotel, Mercure; the in-demand economy brands including ibis, ibis Styles, and the regional brands Grand Mercure and The Sebel.

www.accorhotels.com