Tuesday, 28 February 2017

New Zealand wins Best Environmental Stand at AIME 2017

The 100% Pure New Zealand stand won the Best Environmental Stand 2017 at the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) last week in Melbourne.

Judges based the award on waste avoidance, energy efficiency, environmental quality, low impact travel and communication.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) Chief Executive Sue Sullivan said it was a proud team effort from Tourism New Zealand and CINZ and their 14 partners on the stand.

“We were delighted to be recognised. Our feedback from AIME 2017 has been excellent. Everyone enjoyed the show and came away with positive interest and business,” she says.

“The events New Zealand hosted on the stand, including networking drinks and an exclusive hosted buyer breakfast, gave our partners fantastic opportunities to connect with clients.”

New Zealand exhibitors on the 100% Pure New Zealand stand at AIME 2017 were:

  • AccorHotels New Zealand
  • Air New Zealand
  • Auckland Convention Bureau
  • Auckland Conventions Venues & Events
  • Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau
  • Christchurch Convention Centre
  • Conventions and Incentives New Zealand
  • Business Events Waikato
  • Heritage and CityLife Hotels
  • Hobbiton™ Movie Set
  • Millennium Hotels and Resorts
  • New Zealand International Convention Centre
  • Real Journeys
  • SkyCity Auckland Convention Centre
  • The Langham Auckland
  • Tourism New Zealand

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ)

CINZ www.conventionsnz.co.nz is the official, membership based association of New Zealand’s conference and business travel industry with more than 380 members across a broad range of sectors
CINZ takes a leadership role in increasing meetings, incentives, conference and events business for the benefit of its members, principal stakeholders and the New Zealand economy.

CINZ works to actively promote the sector, providing advocacy with central government, and offering assistance, information, professional development and real business opportunities to its members.

CINZ manages the renowned annual trade show MEETINGS, which generated $55 million over its two days in Auckland in 2016.

COSPLAY COMPETITION RETURNS FOR GOULBURN'S COMIC CON

Cosplay involves dressing up as a character from a video game or comic book and this subcultural phenomenon is set to be staged en masse in Goulburn.

Presented by the local library, the colourful and imaginative Comic Con Festival is a fantastic day full of all things comic and pop culture.

A live Quidditch match, superhero wrestling and a Star Wars vs Star Trek debate are just some of the events set to enthral fans at the Veolia Arena.

Special guests on the day include Thor of Oz and Rae Johnston (Wonder Woman), who will be running workshops, judging the cosplay competition, moderating the debate, and also available for photos.

There will be more than 20 pop culture market stalls, a superhero henna tattoo station, live music from Meri Amber, and opportunities to meet and speak with comic artists and illustrators.

The Goulburn Comic Con will be held on Saturday, 18 March 2017. Entry is free and pre-registration is available for cosplay entrants and workshop participants.

For more information contact the Goulburn Mulwaree Library or check out the Goulburn Comic Con Facebook page.

To start planning your visit, head to Visitnsw.com.

Image: Hello Killy Space Marine. Credit, ©Peter Oliver/Goulburn Post.

Latin American beaches dominate TripAdvisor’s ‘World’s Best’ List

Baia do Sancho
Five Latin American beaches are among the world’s top 10, according to TripAdvisor, who last week revealed the results of their 2017 Travellers’ Choice Awards.

Topping the list is Baia do Sancho, a beach on the remote Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha. Often a TripAdvisor favourite, Baia do Sancho is a beautiful and secluded beach that is only accessible to travellers by boat or by hiking down a narrow staircase from surrounding cliffs.

A new entrant to the top 10 is Galapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

Chad Carey, co-founder of Australia’s leading Latin America specialist Chimu Adventures, said Latin America was a dream destination for beach lovers, attracting millions of visitors every year.

‘We are thrilled to see so many Latin American beaches featured on TripAdvisor’s top list. Each one of them truly deserves their spot in the top 10 for they are more than just your everyday beaches, they are destinations in themselves.’

‘It’s not just the white sand and turquoise waters that make Latin America’s beaches so unique. It’s the reefs, the islands, the flora and fauna, the natural settings that really inspire. Each beach has its own, distinctive character and gives travellers access to some of the most memorable travel experiences they can have in Latin America such as wildlife spotting, snorkelling, coastal walks and rafting, to name only a few.’

‘While Baia do Sanchho as well as the other four Latin American beaches on the top list, are all exceptionally beautiful places, they are really just a snapshot of what Latin American beaches have to offer.’

According to Chad, these are the top things to do at the Latin American beaches that made the list:

1. Baia do Sancho – Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Only accessible by boat or by hiking down a narrow staircase from surrounding cliffs, Baia do Sancho is the epitome of seclusion and natural beauty. Set in an archipelago of 21 islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the most stunning places in Brazil with its crystal clear water and rich marine life. Baia de Sancho is great for scuba diving, surfing and snorkelling.

2. Eagle Beach, Aruba

Eagle Beach is more than a beach, it’s a nature spectacle. Apart from being a picture perfect natural beauty, it is also home to most turtle nests on the island. Seeing baby turtles as they hatch is a great experience for many.

3. Playa Paraiso – Cayo Largo, Cuba

Playa Paraiso (translated ‘paradise beach’ in English) with its white sand and turquoise waters does justice to its name. It’s the perfect place for undisturbed sunbathing.

4. Playa Norte - Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Playa Norte is a beach for the naturalist with sea turtles and whale sharks making regular appearances. There are also some great reefs in the area. Although the beach is very quiet, there are shops and restaurants nearby.

Galapagos Beach

5. Galapagos Beach at Tortuga Bay - Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The perfect beach for the wildlife lover, Galapagos Beach is one of the best places to see Galapagos marine life including colourful reef fish, rays, sea turtles and Marine Iguanas.

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Get Ready For 2017 FLAVOR NAPA VALLEY

This spring, indulge your culinary ambitions with exclusive events that invigorate both mind and palate. During Flavor! Napa Valley®, you’ll soak up inspiration from iconic chefs and winemakers while experiencing the best that Napa Valley has to offer. As you discover new flavors, you’ll also support emerging talents, with net proceeds benefiting the Culinary Institute of America.

Now in its sixth year, the 2017 Flavor! Napa Valley features more than 20 events. Highlights include:


Wednesday, March 22, 6-8:30 p.m.

First Taste, Napa Valley: Celebrate under the stars with more than 15 of downtown Napa’s best restaurants and more than 40 of the Valley’s amazing wineries at the new Culinary Institute of America Downtown Campus at Copia, which will be transformed into an elevated epicurean marketplace as only Napa Valley can offer. Chefs will get a chance to showcase their favorite dishes while wineries pair unexpected wines. There will be live entertainment and the chance to bid on Magnum editions of rare wines at unbelievable prices in the silent auction.

Participating Restaurants: Angele Restaurant, Annie the Baker, Azzurro Pizzeria & Enoteca, Basalt, Bounty Hunter, Compadres Rio Grille, Jax Diner, Kitchen Door, Mimnashi, Napa Cookie Company, Napa Valley Wine Train, Norman Rose Tavern, nuri, Silverado Resort & Spa, Tarla Mediterranean Bar & Grill, and Torc.

Participating Wineries: Amici Cellars, Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards, Benessere Vineyards, Blackbird Vineyard, Ceja Vineyards, Charles Krug Winery, Chateau de Vie, Croze & Smith Wooton, Durant & Booth, Hagafen Cellars, Juslyn Vineyards, Lobo Wines, Napa Cellars, Napa Valley Distillery, Next Door Wine, Pallet Estate, Pope Valley Winery, Saddleback Cellars, Schramsberg & Davies Vineyards, Shadowbox Cellars, St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery, Stanton Vineyards, Steele Canyon Cellars, Takara Sake, Terra Valentine Winery, Three Clicks Wines, Tournesol, Volker Eisele Family Estate, Von Strasser & Lava Vine Winery, Y. Rousseau Wines, Young Inglewood Vineyards

Thursday, March 23

The Celebrity Chef and Vintner Golf Tournament and Reception: Join local chefs and winemakers for a day on Silverado Resort and Spa’s championship golf course. Enjoy a continental breakfast and 18 holes, featuring specialty beverages and the famed burger dog lunch. Then celebrate victory at the post-tournament reception where you can mingle with the chefs, winemakers, and fellow golfers over some of Napa Valley’s finest wines and appetizers.

Participating Chefs: Silverado Cooking School and Napa Valley Wine Train
Participating Wineries: Croze-Avatar Vintners, Spoto Family Wines, V. Sattui Winery

Thursday, March 23

Napa Valley Icons Dinner: Celebrate some of our favorite food and wine icons at this exclusive dinner at Silverado Resort and Spa. Featuring iconic chef talent from Napa Valley, The Culinary Institute of America, and beyond, and honoring legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett, a multi-course dinner will be paired with outstanding, rare Napa wines. Join us as we pay homage to the legends who have helped shape Napa Valley and the Bay Area into one of the most renowned food and wine regions in the world.

Participating Chefs: Host Chef Jeffrey Jake (Silverado Resort and Spa), Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski (State Bird Provisions and The Progress), Waldy Malouf (CIA), Ken Frank (La Toque) and Michael Schulson (Schulson Collective)

Friday, March 24

New Stars of the Napa Valley, Presented by Robert Mondavi: Napa Valley is home to some of the world’s most legendary talent in the food and wine industries – but what about the next generation? Experience the names breaking exciting new culinary ground in the Valley and beyond, paired with spectacular wines from Robert Mondavi Winery at a special dinner honoring the rising stars of Napa Valley.

Participating Chefs: Host Chef Jeff Mosher (Robert Mondavi Winery), Ethan Speizer and Josh Balague (nuri), Sharon Li (PRESS restaurant), Curtis di Fede (Miminashi)
Participating Wineries: Robert Mondavi Winery and Schramsberg

Saturday, March 25

Legendary Napa Valley, The Grand Tasting: The sixth Annual Grand Tasting event takes place at the enchanting Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. Taste a selection of bites from more than 25 Napa Valley restaurants, paired with wines from more than 80 Napa Valley wineries. Mix and mingle as you taste your way through Napa Valley's best food and wines. VIP tickets provide early access to the Grand Tasting, with an exclusive tasting of library wines from each participating winery.
Participating Restaurants: Angele Restaurant, Annie the Baker, Azzurro Pizzeria & Enoteca, Brasswood, Cocolectic, Harvest Table, Jax Diner, Lucy Restaurant & Bar, Napa Cookie Company, Norman Rose Tavern, nuri, Oak Avenue Catering, PRESS Restaurant, Sam's Social Club, Silverado Resort & Spa, Tarla Mediterranean Bar & Grill, FARM at Carneros, The Meritage Resort and Spa, The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil, VINeleven

Participating Wineries: Acumen, Antica Napa Valley, Apriori Cellar, B Cellars, Ballentine Vineyards, Barlow Vineyards, Bougetz Cellars, CADE Estate Winery, Cakebread Cellars, Charthia Cellars, Clif Family, Clos du Val, Conn Creek Winery, Cornerstone Cellars, Farella Vineyard, Fortunati Vineyards, Freemark Abbey, Fuse, Gamble Family Vineyards, Hall Wines, Herta Peju, Kenefick Ranch Winery, Laird Family Estate, LATERAL, Leaf and Vine, Louis M. Martini, Maldonado Family Vineyards, Materra | Cunat Family Vineyards, Modus Operandi Cellars, Monticello Vineyards, O'Shaughnessy Estate Winery, Oakville Ranch Winery, Parry Cellars, Paul Hobbs, Priest Ranch, PureCru Winery, Raymond Vineyards, Riboli Family Wine Estates, Rocca Family Vineyards, Rombauer Vineyards, Rutherford Ranch Winery, Somerson Estate, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Summers Estate Wines, Tamber Bey Vineyards, Trefethen Family Vineyards, Tres Sabores, Truchard Vineyards, VGS Chateau Potelle, Wallis Family Estate, Y. Rousseaum Yao Family Wines, ZD Wines

Sunday, March 26

Bubbles and Brunch: After an indulgent weekend, join us for brunch at one of Napa Valley’s most renowned sparkling wine houses, Domaine Chandon. Enjoy a selection of over-the-top brunch dishes by some of your favorite Culinary Institute of America alumni, accompanied by a selection of Domaine Chandon’s finest still and sparkling wines. Take a seat, sip, savor, and celebrate!
Participating Restaurants/Talent: Host Chef Brian Whitmer (VINeleven), Richard Blais (Top Chef Winner and Owner, Trail Blais Inc.), Rick Moonen (RM Seafood/Feast it Forward)

Participating Wineries: Domaine Chandon

Ticket sale proceeds benefit The Culinary Institute of America. Fans of San Francisco Travel can save 10% off ticket purchases with promo code FNVPARTNER .

BUY TICKETS NOW

A complete listing of Flavor! Napa Valley events, including ticket prices and additional events, can be found at FlavorNapaValley.com.

Crown Towers Melbourne Ranked Number One - and Melbourne's Only Five Star Hotel

Crown Towers Melbourne
Crown Towers Melbourne’s first-ever inclusion in the Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating listings was made all the more special with the news it delivered a higher composite review score than those who traditionally set the pace for the ‘world’s best’ set. One of only two Australian hotels to be named in this year’s Five-Star list, it is also Melbourne’s sole Five-Star representative.

Forbes report showed Crown’s composite score of 93.97% actually outperformed 15 other prestigious luxury brands which Forbes identifies as offering the highest standard for luxury hotels across the globe – including the likes of MGM Resorts International, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.

The composite score is developed from the assessment of the hotel against up to 800 objective standards. These standards are the most stringent in the hospitality industry — with Forbes Travel Guide inspectors having stayed anonymously for two nights and three days at each hotel to evaluate every detail of the visit.

Across the 25 core sections and classification score groups, Crown Towers Melbourne achieved a perfect 100% score for Guest Services, Hotel Phone Services, Fitness Facilities, Business Service, Housekeeping Daily Service, Guest Room, Cleanliness & Condition, Courtesy & Manners, Food & Beverage Quality and Staff appearance – demonstrating a high level of performance right across the Crown Towers Melbourne experience.

The prestigious Forbes Five-Star rating reinforces Crown Towers Melbourne’s status as the premium in luxury accommodation in Australia and secures its place among the very best in the world.

“We set out to provide an unprecedented level of luxury accommodation and we are both humbled and honoured by this endorsement from Forbes,” says Crown Resorts Chief Operating Officer Hotels, Retail, Food & Beverage, Peter Crinis.

“With luxury travel predicted to continue on a rapid growth trajectory in Australia, it is accolades like this that set us apart as the ultimate hotel destination in the region, and as one of the greatest hotels to visit in the world.”

"We are delighted to recognise the 2017 Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Rating recipients, which includes an exceptional collection of hotels, restaurants and spas demonstrating the strongest culture of service," said Gerard J. Inzerillo, Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Travel Guide.

Crown Towers Melbourne, originally completed in 1997, is an exquisitely designed skyscraper comprising 449 rooms and villas over 38 floors. The property also houses Crown Spa, undeniably Melbourne’s finest and most exclusive day spa with lavish décor and private pampering suites.

Located on the southern bank of the Yarra River, in Melbourne’s central business district, Crown Towers Melbourne is the most extravagant and lavish of the three hotels in Melbourne’s Crown Casino complex. Not only is it a short walk to the city, but boast access to the best culinary experiences and entertainment the city has to offer within the complex.

With more than 31 million visits across Perth and Melbourne, Crown Resorts, the owner and operator of the complex that houses Crown Towers Melbourne, is already Australia's largest tourism generator excluding airlines.

For a detailed explanation of how Forbes Travel Guide compiles its Star ratings, visit www.forbestravelguide.com/about/ratings.

You can attend MEETINGS 2017 in a number of ways ...

Hosted Buyer Programme Options


OPTION 1: An exclusive offer to attend Free as a Hosted Buyer

This exclusive offer is open to anyone who plans, researches or makes budgetary decisions for
conferences, events or incentive travel business in New Zealand.

A limited number of places are available – don’t hesitate – apply now or call us to learn
more and see if you qualify.

OPTION 2: One Day Hosted Buyer Programme – New Zealand Buyers

For those that are time poor and cannot commit to the full hosted programme, we are happy to be flexible and offer a One Day appointment diary on either Wednesday 31 or Thursday 1 June.

Domestic air travel (if required) and accommodation will be offered on a complimentary basis and will be arranged to fit with your arrival and departure times.

Hosting to our social events is also possible depending on your availability.

Auckland based buyers are welcome to apply to be hosted for the two day or one day Hosted Buyer programme.

The criteria for the Hosted Buyer programme is available for you to view at www.meetings.co.nz

MEETINGS 2017 reserves the right to accept or decline any Hosted Buyer application at its discretion.

In return for this hosting you will be required to attend pre-scheduled appointments with exhibitors.

Pre Touring Options for Australian Hosted Buyers

This year we are offering our Australian hosted buyers the option of ten exclusive famils across the Tasman in New Zealand. These small group trips showcase the best New Zealand has to offer the business event decision-maker. They explore Auckland, Hamilton & Waikato, Rotorua, Lake Taupo, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Christchurch & Canterbury, Dunedin and Queenstown in partnership with Air New Zealand

They depart from selected Trans-Tasman ports on either Friday 26th or Saturday 27th May and will return to Auckland on Monday 29th May in time for MEETINGS 2017. To find out more you can review the pre-touring programme itineraries and then register your interest via the MEETINGS 2017 application form.

Please note: To express interest in the MEETINGS 2017 pre-familiarisation programme, Australian Hosted Buyers must be registered and qualified. Famils are not guaranteed and will be confirmed at the discretion of famil hosts.

APPLY ONLINE NOW ...

www.meetings.co.nz/hostedbuyerprogramme
Limited places available. Applications close on 3 April 2017.

SAVE THE DATE: 31st MAY - 1st JUNE AUCKLAND, ASB SHOWGROUNDS

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Whitsunday businesses recognised at Australian Tourism Awards

BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort 
The Whitsundays’ tourism industry is celebrating after two operators won Gold and Silver at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards on Friday night.

Ocean Rafting took out Gold in the Major Tour and Transport Operator category and BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort won silver in the Caravan and Holiday Parks category at the prestigious awards ceremony, held in Darwin.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said it was fantastic to see two Whitsunday Tourism businesses win an award at national level, the highest standard that can be attained.

“This is absolutely fantastic news and obviously big congratulations to both Ocean Rafting and BIG4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort, who well and truly deserve these accolades,” he said.

“They are both exemplary businesses that are always innovating and pushing the boundaries to deliver the best possible product they can.

“I would also like to mention Pinnacles Resort and Cruise Whitsundays’ Reefsleep who were also in the running on Friday night and should be congratulated on reaching the Australian Awards, having both won Gold at Queensland level last year.

“We have a very robust tourism industry in the Whitsundays with some of the best operators in the country and this has been borne out with these awards.

“As CEO of our regional tourism organisation I see the hard work and effort our operators put in every day as they continually strive for excellence and it’s fantastic when they get up and are recognised like this.”

Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Chief Executive and Australian Tourism Awards Chair Daniel Gschwind said Ocean Rafting was a deserving recipient of the Gold award, cementing the tour and transport operator as the best in the country.

Ocean Rafting
“Locals and visitors alike have been delighted with the service Ocean Rafting has provided and to see the company recognised once again on a national scale is fantastic for the Whitsunday region and for Queensland,” Mr Gschwind said, adding that Queensland brought home a total of 13 awards on Friday night.

Cherry-yellow apricot blossom festival to open in Quang Ninh

The cherry – Yen Tu yellow apricot blossom festival is to be held in Ha Long City, the northern province of Quang Ninh on March 11-15, the organising board said at a press conference on February 23.

It will be the sixth time Quang Ninh has held a cherry blossom festival and the second time the Yen Tu yellow apricot blossoms are also displayed at the event.

The festival aims to boost diplomatic and friendly ties between Quang Ninh and Japanese businesses and people, popularise the image of Japanese cherry and Yen Tu yellow apricot blossoms, introduce Quang Ninh’s tourism and trade strength to visitors at home and abroad, thereby enhancing tourism investment by Vietnamese and Japanese firms.

Nguyen Trung Hau, chief of Ha Long City’s culture and information office, said the organising board has ordered 50 Japanese cherry trees and 5,000 cherry blossom branches. The trees and flowers are expected to arrive in Ha Long on February 28 and March 3. Nearly 60 yellow apricot trees at Yen Tu Pagoda in the province will also be selected for the display.

Major activities at the festival include a Viet Nam-Japan cultural and art exchange, a show of Japanese traditional culture and an exhibition featuring the world natural heritage Ha Long Bay, introducing tourism products made by local firms, outstanding tour operators and lodging facilities.

The event will also showcase signature products under the “One Commune, One Product” programme, specialties, souvenirs, and household appliances of local and Japanese companies at more than 170 stalls.

A conference promoting tourism investment between Viet Nam and Japan is also planned during the festival, focusing on how to attract more Japanese visitors to the province.

Last year, only 53,000 Japanese visited Quang Ninh, accounting for about 3 percent of the total foreign arrivals in the province.

4 Reasons Why Tassie Is Australia's Top Tourism Destination

It seems folk just can't get enough of Tassie. Not that long ago it was hard to find a good coffee across Bass Strait. Now we've got a premier walk that takes you along the world's edge. We're turning heads at national awards. Millennials are chattering Tassie escapes, racing to get here first. There's even a touch of rush-hour traffic in our capital. And by the way, there's some mighty fine coffee here.

Last night, on the national stage, Tasmania humbly accepted gold across five categories at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards. Not only that, Tasmania collected seven silver, two bronze and The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel was inducted into the Hall of Fame. What's more, Tassie picked up the most awards out of every state. Such is Tasmania's allure that Roy Morgan Research has just delivered hard evidence. Hobart now outranks Perth and Brisbane as a capital city holiday destination Australians want to visit. Come Monday, Tasmania is quietly hoping that the film Lion will bring home an Oscar.

Tourism Tasmania's CEO John Fitzgerald said "Tasmania has had another fantastic year for tourism and our popularity shows no signs of letting up as a record number of Australian and overseas visitors discover the people, the produce, the places, the stories and the experiences that make Tasmania such an exciting travel destination”

“I am really excited that we could back up our last two award-winning years with another outstanding performance at this year's Australian Tourism Awards. It reconfirms the quality of Tasmania's tourism and hospitality businesses and the amazing holiday experiences they provide for our visitors - the kind of experiences that our visitors keep returning for and talk about with their friends and family members long afterwards,” he said.

Here's a look at why Tasmania tops the list of great Australian tourism experiences. But don't take our word for it, you be the judge.

1. PREMIER WALKING

There's a new frontier in walking. When Lonely Planet rated Tassie among the world's top regions in 2015, they named the Three Capes Track a must-do experience. It was boldly coined as Australia's premier coastal bushwalking experience even before the first steps were taken. Last night it lived up to expectations, winning New Tourism Business on the national stage. The four-day Tasman Peninsula walk features dolerite chasms, architecturally-designed lodging, Eucalypt forests and towering sea cliffs. If you're going to take a walk and share a few snaps, make it along the world's edge.

Our walking winners didn't stop there. The Tasmanian Walking Company took a familiar trek to the podium, collecting Gold for Ecotourism. With over 25 years of experience beneath their boots, not only is the trekking here top-notch, it can be served with affable guides, wine and plush pillows. Walking in some of Tasmania's most iconic locations, they add more than a touch of class to the experience with the Cradle Mountain Huts Walk, Bay of Fires Lodge Walk (and spa) and more recently the Wineglass Bay Sail Walk.

As for our walking backyard, it's not bad either. Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service – Freycinet National Park took bronze for Major Tourist Attractions. Take a few steps in the state's equally oldest national park (which celebrated its centenary last year) and there'll be no surprises why – accessible coastal wilderness, the rugged pink granite Hazards range, secluded bays and the likes of world-renowned Wineglass Bay.

2. REST YOUR HEAD

Mix the words luxury and Tasmania together and you'll probably get Saffire Freycinet. Saffire breathes luxury and class. It's been named the world's best boutique hotel. It's no stranger to first place. The East Coast resort can now add a new accolade – Gold for Luxury Accommodation. Saffire appears to have the indulgence recipe just right.

Tasmania's accommodation offerings are as varied as our local characters. The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel also won Gold for Business Event Venue, entering into the Australian Tourism Hall of Fame. But one award wasn't enough, the corporate traveller fave also collecting silver in the Deluxe Accommodationcategory.

Have we mentioned diverse places to overnight? You can also stay perched out on Australia's deepest freshwater lake at Pumphouse Point. That sure is a one-off. Curling up amidst World Heritage wilderness, sipping Tasmanian single malt, or paddling around with the resident platypus are experiences that have put Pumphouse Point high on the bucket list. No wonder the industrial-style lodging won Silver in Unique Accommodation.

Avalon Coastal Retreat with its Huon pine bath, floor-to-ceiling views of Great Oyster Bay and intelligent design to effortlessly blend with its clifftop surrounds continues to strengthen its national profile, winning Silver in the Self Contained Accommodation category. Those who stay at Avalon get a touch more than your average conveniences – think designer furniture, Wursthaus gourmet larder and your very own private beach.

It seems the sheep, crops and country charm of Curringa Farm Accommodationendure as a crowd-pleaser, taking Bronze for Hosted Accommodation. Who doesn't enjoy an overnight stay served up with a dash of sheep shearing and a good old Aussie barbie? The stars here are amazing.

3. FOOD & DRINK

Let's admit it. It's all about the food! Tasmania is a foodie's delight, a craft-ale enthusiast's heaven and a cheese lover's mecca. As with every Tasmanian journey, you'll get to meet the driving force behind the local food and drink scene – the chefs, distillers and fermenters. They draw inspiration from a pantry of clean waterways, fresh air and seasonal produce, creating delicious gourmet fare to be nibbled with decadent wine, beer, cider and whisky. So there's no raised brows that Tasmania picked up an award here. In 1950 Josef Chromy fled from his war-torn Czech home at 19 years old. In his 70s, when most might be retired, he established Josef Chromy Wines. Last night, the business won Silver for Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services. From farm to fork, or vine to bottle, there's often little space between the restaurant plate and the source.

4. GREAT OUTDOORS

Where would we be without Tasmania itself? We are blessed with a natural playground where mountain peaks and ocean are in close proximity, where a short walk can feel a world away from our major cities. Niche tourism experiences are plenty. If you've not heard of RiverFly 1864, it's time to pack your rod. The outfit just won Gold for Specialised Tourism Services and offers three-day guided fly fishing trips up at the Western Lakes in private eco-friendly huts.

Bruny Island Cruises won silver (Tourist Attractions), the exhilarating coastal wilderness experience featuring ancient sea cliffs among the southern hemisphere's tallest, sea caves and the odd whale encounter. All with salt in your hair!

Par Avion Wilderness Tours also venture to places inaccessible on foot, taking silver for Major Tour and Transport Operators. It's rare a pilot charmingly conveys knowledge through the head sets, revs the engine of a boat and serves up lunch in a rustic cabin. All part of the day job. Versatile characters and far flung wilderness reaches are what Par Avion do best.

In the realm of Destination Marketing, there are harder places to sell. The Great Eastern Drive follows a coastline of 176 kilometres of spectacular beauty; dramatic coastlines, world-famous beaches and unique natural attractions. Some say it rivals the best coastal drives on the planet. The Great Eastern Drive has been awarded silver for sharing the good word – putting this region firmly on the map. Just go. And then, according to the marketing, the key is to 'just stop.' Take your coastal time.

With experiences and stories that can only be penned in Tasmania, it's a good time to come and write your own. For more information on Tasmania, visit www.discovertasmania.com.au.

AWARDS

GOLD

New Tourism Business: Three Capes Track
Luxury Accommodation: Saffire Freycinet
Ecotourism: Tasmanian Walking Company
Specialised Tourism Services: RiverFly 1864
Business Events Venue: The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel – Australian Tourism Hall of Fame

SILVER

Tourist Attractions: Bruny Island Cruises
Major Tour and Transport Operators: Par Avion Wilderness Tours
Unique Accommodation: Pumphouse Point
Self Contained Accommodation: Avalon Coastal Retreat
Tourism Restaurants and Catering Services: Josef Chromy Wines
Deluxe Accommodation: The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel
Destination Marketing: Great Eastern Drive

BRONZE

Major Tourist Attractions: Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service - Freycinet National Park
Hosted Accommodation: Curringa Farm Accommodation

Travel to Tasmania

Travellers can fly to Tasmania on Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Qantaslink, Tigerair, Sharp Airlines or Rex Airlines, or take the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Port Melbourne (VIC) to Devonport (TAS).

Monday, 27 February 2017

Surge of entries already for Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2017

Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2017
“Notice of Race” posted – entries surging in 

Entries for the 34th edition of Australia’s premier offshore regatta, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, are surging in on the back of the Notice of Race being posted on the regatta website.

Seventeen yachts have already been nominated for the spectacular series which is scheduled for August 19 to 26.

Most eager of all entrants to date was Sydney sailor David Bell. He “jumped the gun” with the entry for his Bavaria 49, Four Bells. He lodged his entry within days of the completion of the 2016 regatta by making his application on that event’s entry form.

“It’s the tropical venue, the island itself and the fact that you are part of an enormous fleet of yachts that makes Audi Hamilton Island Race Week so special.”

Amazingly, when the NoR was posted on the Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2017 website, two yachts entered within an hour. First was the 11.6m long racing catamaran, XL2, owned by Mike Peberdy, from Brisbane. This year’s regatta will be the first big test for the yacht since a refit which took 12 months to complete. XL2 was one of the fastest multihulls in Sydney in her heyday some 20 years ago.

The second entry came from Sandy Hume, who races his Catalina 320, Windfalls, out of Parramatta River Sailing Club in Sydney. He’s taking three months’ long service leave from his job so he can compete in his first Audi Hamilton Island Race Week.

“After hearing so much about Race Week for so long I decided I just had to do it this year,” Sandy said. “We’re going to cruise up from Sydney, enjoy the regatta, then cruise home.”

While the Notice of Race was being prepared by Race Director, Denis Thompson, regatta organisers were busy planning an exciting new party and social agenda which will ensure the highly acclaimed series retains its reputation as one of the best regattas in the a world.

It is a commonly held belief that the setting for Race Week cannot be bettered: award-winning Hamilton Island sits as the centrepiece among 68 uninhabited tropical islands, and the magnificent Great Barrier Reef is on the horizon. The majority of the courses for racing weave their way around many of these islands, and the predominant breeze is a south-east tradewind.

Last year’s Race Week was unmatched on every front: the fleet of 252 was 25 more than the previous record set in 2008, and every one of the many and widely varying social events was a sell-out.

Denis Thompson has again planned for the nine racing categories to cover the full spectrum of competing yachts. The divisions are:
* IRC Racing Class
* IRC Passage Class
* Racer/Cruiser Performance Handicap System
* One Design Classes Scratch (No Handicaps)
* Cruising Class Performance Handicap System
* Non-Spinnaker Class Performance Handicap System
* Trailable Yachts Class Performance Handicap System
* Multihull Racing Class Offshore Multihull Rule
* Multihull Cruising Class Performance Handicap System

All information relating to AHIRW is on the regatta website: www.audihamiltonislandraceweek.com.au

'Discover The Real Warpaths' - The Battle of Crete TOURS 2017

The Battle of Crete - Discover the real warpaths’ is a historical tour of the island of Crete, providing participants the opportunity to be guided step by step through the major sites of the Battle of Crete (May 1941) and the Resistance that followed. 

Visitors can choose either the whole tour or part of it, to experience the true history of the unique aerial invasion and the defence of the island by Greek and Commonwealth soldiers and the local population. On the proposed tours, we visit the areas of operation, parachutist landing and defence zones, and lines of retreat and evacuation.

We provide an introduction to the activities of the Special Services (S.A.S., S.B.S.) and the Allied Secret Services on the island, arrivals and departures of agents, visit to wireless transmitter sites, R.A.F. supply drop zones and guerilla operation areas. Visit to the Commonwealth War Cemetery, the German War Cemetery and local War Memorials.

Discover unknown details of the daring plan to abduct the German General Kreipe, from the abduction site, following his route across Mt. Psiloritis accompanied by the abductors, to his departure to Mersa Matruh, Egypt.

Visit a historic farmhouse in the suburbs of Heraklion, where S.O.E. agents systematically took refuge, and which is now an exhibition area for unique genuine artifacts of the war period.

Original contemporary photographs and objects are exhibited as part of each tour.

Operated by A.P. Corpis & Co Ltd. 2, Mitsotakis Str. - 712 02 Heraklion Crete 

Contact: info@realwarpaths.net Tel. +30 2810282551 

AIME winds up a successful two day show in Melbourne

CINZ Maōri cultural advisor,
Ngahi o-te-ra Bidois at the
100% Pure New Zealand breakfast 
Exhibitors and delegates have gathered for the second day of the jam-packed Asia-Pacific Incentive and Meetings Expo (AIME) program, after a night of events in and around Melbourne which saw people networking and doing business well into the night.

Initial feedback from the exhibitors has been that the quality of the hosted buyers and the delegates has been exceptional, with some exhibitors already seeing their return on investment on day one.

Nerissa Worwood, Business Development Manager at Pan Pacific Hotels Group who exhibited on the Perth Convention Bureau stand, said that the quality and opportunities to connect with hosted buyers and delegates has been fantastic.

“We have received a good number of real business leads with good quality events. It has definitely been worthwhile for us to be here at AIME this year,” said Ms Worwood.

Highlights from day two included:

Tourism New Zealand, hosted a VIP breakfast on their stand for 100 delegates to give them an experience of NZ at the show. Jan Tonken, founder of The Conference Company and President of the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers gave a first-hand account of the value of hosting conferences and events in New Zealand.

Geoff Donaghy, CEO, International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney revealed the outcomes of the first events held at the new venue where the logistics, technology and catering teams were tested across the Theatre, Convention and Exhibition halls. 100% of clients in their test events rated their event planning experience as very good or excellent.

Ian Wainwright, Event Director – Reed Travel Exhibitions, said AIME has experienced a successful two days, bringing together a diverse and quality-centric place for exhibitors and buyers to meet and do business on the show floor.

“The 25th anniversary of AIME has gone off splendidly. We have had some really engaged exhibitors, buyers and visitors. We enabled the right buyers to connect with the right exhibitors, generating positive and meaningful business conversations.

“I am thrilled with the results from the past two days, everyone involved in AIME has shown us why Australia is so equipped to hold events. Having had 25 successful AIME’s, we look forward to the 26th show in 2018,” said Mr Wainwright.

The 25th annual Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo (AIME) has had a successful day two, Wednesday 22 February, with exhibitors, buyers and visitors engaging in business, networking and activities on the show floor – closing out the show for the silver anniversary in 2017.

EXPERIENCE SUMMER OF LOVE HISTORY WITH THESE 8 WALKING TOURS

While the Summer of Love remains a key moment in history, the free love movement can be experienced here and now through a number of San Francisco walking tours.

Avital Food Tours, Haight-Ashbury

Did you know that local food co-ops were born out of the Summer of Love? Delve into one of the world’s best food scenes and hear the stories of restaurant owners, chefs and industry experts in San Francisco. Walking tours are available in iconic neighborhoods across the city including Haight-Ashbury. www.avitaltours.com

Detour

Walk through the epicenter of the Summer of Love with Detour’s walking tour of the Haight, narrated by one of the activists who was at its center, Peter Coyote. www.detour.com

Flower Power Walking Tours

Walk in the footsteps of Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead on the Haight-Ashbury Flower Power Walking Tours, touching on the history of it all, from rock and roll to art, fashion and architecture. www.haightashburytour.com

Foot Tours

Experience this groovy era through a special tour, "Flashback: From the Summer of Love to the Winter of Discontent," chronicling the highs of the summer of 1967 and the restlessness that followed. Follow in the footsteps of legendary musicians, activists, and creators with this walking tour in the iconic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. www.foottours.com

Magic Bus Experience

This two-hour-plus adventure, aptly titled “Time Machine to the 60’s,” is a mind-bending combination of theater, film, music and sightseeing that allows tour-goers to travel back in time to the summer of 1967. www.magicbussf.org

San Francisco Electric Tour Company

The official Segway tours of Golden Gate Park, the birthplace of the Summer of Love, are fully narrated. The journey includes the eastern portion of the 1,017-acre park, including a ride down Hippie Hill and through Sharon Meadow, past the “Janis Joplin Tree.” Professional guides provide the history of this oasis in the city. www.electrictourcompany.com

San Francisco Love Tours

Ride a VW hippie bus with San Francisco Love Tours and experience how modern day San Francisco is infused with the spirit of the 60's. www.sanfranciscolovetours.com

Wild SF Walking Tours

Take a walk on the wild side with Wild SF Walking Tours' Haight-Ashbury Walking Tour, "A Musical Trip of The 60’s," led by passionate, local artist guides committed to sharing the stories of inspiring heroes and radical social history that define San Francisco. www.wildsftours.com

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER SHINES A LIGHT ON NEWCASTLE

Newcastle has been named as one of the world’s top ‘Smart Cities’ to watch in 2017 by Global magazine National Geographic Traveler.

‘Smart Cities’ celebrates destinations that have risen to the challenges of 21st Century urban life, and Newcastle is the first Australian city to feature.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said tourism was part of Newcastle’s transition from a great regional city to an emerging global city, with spectacular natural assets and a relaxed lifestyle.

“Many visitors are being drawn by the re-invention of our coastline, which now rivals any coastal walk in Australia, and by the new urban chic that many tourists might more readily relate to Brooklyn, New York,” Councillor Nelmes said.

With a thriving arts scene, eclectic cafés, restaurants, bars and bakeries, colourful murals on restored industrial buildings, and a fascinating history, Newcastle is a delight for culture cravers to explore.

“Soon, tourists will be able to access free Wi-Fi in the inner city thanks to a project that will also produce a digital hub for sharp-thinking entrepreneurs to make Newcastle and the Hunter even better travel destinations,” Councillor Nelmes said.

To find out what makes Newcastle a Smart City, watch National Geographic’s video.

To start planning your trip, go to Visitnsw.com.

APPLY NOW TO ATTEND MEETINGS 2017 IN NEW ZEALAND

MEETINGS is New Zealand's only national business tourism event for the conference, meetings, events, exhibition and travel incentive industry. MEETINGS is a highly regarded annual event that invites conference and event organisers to experience the very best of what New Zealand has on offer in the conference and incentive travel industry. Over two days, MEETINGS brings together buyers and sellers of conference and incentive travel products and services to grow mutual business opportunities and share knowledge and ideas.

Based in Auckland: the most accessible city in New Zealand with 18 international airlines from 32 cities connecting Auckland to the rest of the world. The award-winning Auckland Airport handles over 70% of all international arrivals into New Zealand and offers easy access into the rest of the country with over 300 domestic flights daily into 27 cities.

MEETINGS attracts the attendance of media from New Zealand, Australia, United States & India. We will be offering a Hosted Media Programme once again in 2017 which involves the opportunity to receive the latest news, trends and industry updates surrounding the New Zealand business tourism industry.

From Northland to Invercargill and everywhere in between, you will discover the very best of New Zealand at MEETINGS 2017! Never has it been easier for conference and event organisers to make valuable contacts and talk face to face with professionals who can provide ideas and solutions for their next project. For 20 years, Hosted Buyers tell us that attending MEETINGS is a very efficient use of time and a superbly effective way to book business, source new ideas and meet face to face with a wide range of industry professionals.


SAVE THE DATE: 31st MAY - 1st JUNE AUCKLAND, ASB SHOWGROUNDS


Join The Conversation

Whitsundays set to receive massive investment in tourism infrastructure

The Whitsundays is set for a massive cash injection after the region was nominated to be part of a new push to drive tourism infrastructure investment.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones made the announcement on Friday February 24 in Darwin, telling a tourism ministers’ meeting that the Whitsundays was an iconic tourism region in Queensland primed for growth and investment.

The Whitsundays is the only Queensland region to be part of the national Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Strategy.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO Craig Turner said the announcement from the Minister was perfectly timed.

“Visitation to the Whitsundays has seen record growth of 30 per cent,” Mr Turner said.

“The commitment from our Tourism Minister and the Queensland Government is an investment that will see real financial return.

“The Whitsundays carried the greatest number of visitors to the Great Barrier Reef last financial year and we are on track this year to exceed 1 million visitors to the GBR Marine Park in the Whitsundays, for the first time ever.

“The size of the investment committed to the Whitsundays will generate jobs and prosperity for our region going forward.”

Ms Jones said the State Government would work with Austrade and Tourism Australia to “usher in a new era of tourism investment in the Whitsundays”.

“We want to do all we can to attract new investment to the Whitsundays including new hotels and resorts and new tourist attractions that will inspire more visitors to come to the region, grow the local economy and support more tourism jobs,” she said.

“That’s why I have nominated the Whitsundays to be front and centre of the Regional Tourism Infrastructure Investment Attraction Plan endorsed by tourism ministers today.”

The five-year plan will scope local investment opportunities and target international investors.

Quan The Am festival brings foreign guests

Quan The Am festival 2016
One of the country’s largest festivals, the Quan The Am Festival in central Da Nang City, will be held on March 16 (the 19th day of the second lunar month) at the Quan The Am Pagoda in Ngu Hanh Son District.

This year’s Buddhist festival is expected to see delegations from Myanmar, Thailand and Japan.

The annual festival, held on the 19th day of the second lunar month, features the city’s unique cultural, religious and communal characteristics.

Visitors to the event will have a chance to take part in offering ceremonies, a chess festival, calligraphy performances, boat races, photo, and painting exhibitions, among others.

The festival is aimed at honouring Quan The Am, or Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, while praying for peace and prosperity.

Double Delight - Celebrate 25 Years of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival With a Sparkling Silver High Tea or Have a Truly Happy Hour With a Glass of Sparkling and Silver Macaron

To celebrate the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival's impressive 25 year anniversary, The Langham, Melbourne has come up with not one, but two ways to mark this celebratory occasion.

Short on time? With the festival's bursting calendar of events, that's understandable. That's why during the festival Aria Bar & Lounge will be serving two glasses of permium sparkling wine, accompanied by two silver macarons from 2pm until 5pm for just $25.00.

The Langham, Melbourne has a strong tradition of teaming up with world-class chefs during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. This year is no different. On the Saturday 1st, Sunday 2nd, Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th of April, Aria Bar & Lounge will be serving a decadent four-tierd tea stand laden with traditional scones, delicate ribbon sandwiches as well as master baker, Gontran Cherrier's sensational heart-shaped cake and Philippe Mouchel's Petit Prince buttery cake.

The tower of tea treats will also feature a 25th anniversary cookie, vanilla macaron with silver leaf, passionfruit eclairs, chocolate hazelnut praline tarts and a miniature vanilla bean and raspberry panna cotta.

Plus there will be a plate of sandwiches filled with smoked salmon with horseradish creme fraiche and baby capers, free range chicken and chives, proscuitto and cheese and cream cheese and chives.

Aria Bar & Lounge's silver celebration also includes Wedgwood tea served from silver teapots, espresso coffee and a glass of premium sparkling wine.

The Sparkling Silver High Tea is served from noon until 2pm and from 2.30pm until 4.30pm and is $79.00 per adult or $39.50 per child aged 4-12 years old.

Bookings may be made by contacting 1800 641 107 or by emailing rest.res@langhamhotels.com

Additional information is available at melbarestaurant.com.au/aria/whats-on/sparkling-silver-high-tea-at-the-langham-melbourne/

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Ellerslie Event Centre

The Ellerslie Event Centre is excited to announce that the 12th room in their $3 million dollar plus refurbishment was completed last week. This is the culmination of the last 18 months which has seen rooms transformed, including new carpets, lighting, drapes/blinds and AV.

Situated off the motorway, 10 minutes from downtown Auckland with extensive free on-site parking clients can now enjoy a fully modernised venue with cutting edge technology, set in traditional and beautiful park-like grounds. With 22 function spaces available as well as numerous unique outdoor spaces, the Ellerslie Event Centre has the ability to cater for 12-1,200 guests.

Please contact Glen Roper, the Ellerslie Event Centre’s Sales Manager for a competitive quote.

Website: eventcentre.co.nz
Email: glenr@ellerslie.co.nz
Phone: +64 (09) 522 3807

Sydney Rooftop Bars and Beer Gardens to quench your Summer thirst

Summer is a time to catch up with friends, enjoy sun-filled days and balmy nights over a drink or two at some of Sydney’s best rooftop bars and beer gardens. To help visitors fill their Summer-loving calendar, and guide them to great views, here are a selection of terrific spots.

Destination NSW CEO, Sandra Chipchase, said “Summer is about being outdoors, and taking in the fantastic warm weather that Sydney has to offer. Heading to rooftops, terraces and garden bars are a great way to enjoy the ambience and make the most of Sydney in Summer.”

Rooftop Bars:

  • Brigade Rooftop, The Light Brigade, Paddington: A new kid on Sydney’s stylish block, Brigade Rooftop is an inner city oasis with stunning views of Sydney’s skyline, and a relaxed, urban feel. Visitors can take in spectacular views of Sydney while relaxing on the leafy terrace and enjoying wood-fire pizza.
  • Webster’s Rooftop, Webster’s Bar, Newtown: Overlooking the bustling hub of King Street, Webster’s Rooftop recreates a 1950s Australian backyard in bohemian Newtown. The quirky décor features astro turf, birdcages, plastic pink flamingos and a rustic BBQ pit.
  • InterContinental Sydney Supper Club, Sydney: Experience one of Sydney’s best kept secrets on the rooftop at the InterContinental Sydney Supper Club. With views stretching from Western Sydney to the Pacific Ocean and uninterrupted views of Sydney Harbour. The InterContinental Sydney Supper Club offers bespoke cocktails and artisan dishes. Bookings are essential.
  • The Local Taphouse, Darlinghurst: Located at the intersection of South Dowling and Flinders streets in Darlinghurst, the Local Taphouse has 1920s-inspired décor and a garden-like rooftop. It’s a beer lover’s paradise with more than 20 beers on tap, and an extensive range of bottled ales, stouts, pilsners and ciders of local and international origin.
  • Taylor’s Rooftop Bar, Sydney: Located in Sydney CBD Taylor’s Rooftop Bar embodies everything a good Sydney rooftop bar should be with lush greenery, open air lounges and live music. Guests can enjoy a Summer breeze and refreshing cocktail while taking in the incredible views of the city skyline.
  • Coogee Pavilion, Coogee: Once the iconic Beach Palace Hotel, the three-level Coogee Pavilion is located at the end of the Bondi to Coogee Beach walk. Overlooking Coogee Beach, the Coogee Pavilion Rooftop has a sweeping balcony, and is a local oasis to enjoy a Mediterranean-influenced menu with wraparound views of the Coogee shoreline.

Beer Gardens:

  • The Newport, Newport: Serving beer since 1880 and set on the shores of stunning Pittwater, recently refurbished The Newport will celebrate its first Summer with an exciting program of free daily events and experiences for all ages. The Newport is a vibrant gathering place that embraces the property’s remarkable location and offers a diverse range of spaces to drink, dine and admire the unrivalled water views.
  • Beach Club, Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay: Perched on the edge of Sydney Harbour with 360 degree views of the city skyline, the Beach Club is an iconic Eastern Suburbs venue and one of Sydney’s most popular casual waterfront dining and bar spots. The seafood-focused menu features buckets of Tiger prawns, grilled fish’n’chips and Sydney Rock Oysters.
  • The Greens, North Sydney: The Greens offers incredible views across the Harbour to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Once just a lawn bowling green, The Greens has been renovated into a neighbourhood eatery, bar, cafe, garden and maintains its bowling green. It is the perfect venue to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
  • Woolwich Pier Hotel, Woolwich: On Sydney’s North Shore, The Woolwich Pier Hotel boasts three different outdoor spaces to accommodate any Summer-lover’s beer garden needs. Whether you choose The Lawn, The Clubhouse or The Terrace, the atmosphere is always buzzing. The award-winning Woolwich Pier Hotel is a favourite for locals and a must-visit or travellers to Sydney this Summer – catch a ferry there for a an iconic Sydney experience.
  • The Beresford Hotel, Surry Hills: No beer garden round-up is complete without The Beresford Hotel’s Beer Garden in Surry Hills. The leafy green space is a great spot to enjoy a pitcher of Pimms on a Summer afternoon. To see it at its best, stay until after sunset when the courtyard sparkles with lanterns and Sydney’s cool crowd arrives.

For more information, visit www.sydney.com.

Explore Britain's King Arthur Filming Locations

Prepare for King Arthur fever! May 2017 sees the release of the major new film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Director Guy Ritchie and a Hollywood cast including Charlie Hunman and Jude Law retell the classic story of the legendary British leader made famous by medieval mythology. Take your own Arthurian pilgrimage around these dramatic British filming locations used in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, from Isle of Skye's rugged landscapes to majestic Windsor Great Park.

Snowdonia National Park, north-west Wales

Wales lays claim to many places associated with the legend of King Arthur, his mighty sword Excalibur and the fabled magician Merlin. One such haunt is Snowdonia National Park and Mount Snowdon, where Arthur reputedly killed a fearsome giant, Rhitta. Llyn Llydaw is supposedly the final resting place of Excalibur, Arthur's sword, after it was thrown in the lake's waters after Arthur's death.

Snowdonia National Park was suitably a key shooting location for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Filming took place in several areas, including Tryfanmountain in the Ogwen Valley – one of the most famous and recognisable peaks in Britain. Cast and crew were also spotted around the village of Capel Curig on the River Llugwy, and the lake-side valley of Nant Gwynant – once the site of a Roman fort and marching camp and now home to the popular Llyn Gwynant campsite used by walkers bound for Snowdon. The film joins many others that feature Snowdonia locations – Angelina Jolie filmed parts of Tomb Raider here in 2001 and Sean Connery shot scenes for First Knight here 20 years ago.

King Arthur's Cave, Wye Valley, England and Wales border

One of the film's council scenes was shot at a real-life prehistoric cave called 'King Arthur's Cave', located in The Doward area of the Wye Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Welsh border. The cave is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and rises about 25 feet high, with an entrance large enough for a man on horseback to ride in and out of. The beautiful Wye Valley and Vale of Usk have the most castles per square mile in Britain, acres of ancient woodland and a host of adventure sports on offer, making it a great holiday spot - and just one hour's drive from Cardiff or three hour's drive from London.

The Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland

The largest of Scotland's Inner Hebrides islands, the Isle of Skye is home to some of Britain's most iconic landscapes – and film backdrops. Bring your energy and sense of adventure to create your own legend in this magical place! The island has magnificent mountain ranges, captivating history, and miles of dramatic coastline. Lace up your walking boots and explore the island's most majestic geological features, such as the Old Man of Storr, the Cuillin rocky mountain range, and the Quiraing – a massive landslip on the Trotternish ridge where filming took place for King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. After a day of hiking, the island's town, Portree, and small villages are welcoming places to try tasty local fare or relax in cosy pubs.

Windsor Great Park, south-east England

You'll have to wait and see how Windsor Great Park features in the film, but if you've ever dreamed of riding a horse through ancient oak forests and wide open deer parks under the distant gaze of a beautiful English castle, this is your chance! Whether you're a seasoned rider or have never even sat on a horse, Tally Ho Stables provide horses and riding hats, a huge choice of beautiful routes through the park and all the training you need. There's no road riding, just thousands of acres of woodland and meadows to enjoy with our experienced guides. All with the Queen's private Windsor Castle residence as a backdrop.

Gold Coast Voted Favourite Australian Destination

Chinese travellers have overwhelmingly voted the Gold Coast as their favourite Australian holiday destination in the annual 'Destination of the year' awards released overnight.

The Gold Coast was the only Australian and the only Western destination to make the global top ten when presented by Ctrip, China's leading online travel agent, at a gala ceremony held in Shanghai.

The award results were generated based on more than 50 million user comments, as well as online votes by over 3.6 million Chinese travellers.

Gold Coast Tourism's Chairman Paul Donovan said the recognition was testament to the years of strategic engagement with Chinese stakeholders by Gold Coast Tourism staff responsible for developing the China market.

“Together with industry and our destination stakeholders, we have invested a great deal of time and money in this market because we recognise the strong and increasing affection that Chinese travellers have for the Gold Coast's coastal city lifestyle,” said Mr Donovan.

“This is the biggest and most significant tourism industry survey in China and it is satisfying to see that the work undertaken by our China-based team has been so effective. Chinese visitors know the Gold Coast has it all and they are strongly attracted to our pristine natural assets such as our Hinterland and our beaches, our big blue skies, exceptional food, wine and shopping offerings.

“However, without the right strategy you will always finish mid-field - to rank well ahead of major global cities like Paris and Sydney is remarkable. It is further proof we have matured significantly as a destination - which is reflected in the launch of our new Marketing Strategy and Brand last week”.

The Ctrip top ten were:
  • Phuket
  • Seoul
  • Bangkok
  • Gold Coast
  • Bali
  • Singapore
  • Chiang Mai
  • Jeju
  • Maldives
  • Tokyo

The Gold Coast attracts more than 27% of Australia's Chinese visitors, increasing by 33% in FY16.

Independent of the survey, Ctrip also nominated the Gold Coast as one of the ten most preferred destinations for the FIT (Free and Independent Traveller).

“The Chinese FIT sector prefers the Gold Coast because these travellers are able to get a sense of community and integrate into our lifestyle during their stays. We provide the ultimate experience because we welcome the modern global traveller,” he said.

City of Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said he wasn't surprised by the remarkable figures coming out of China.

“We have worked heavily to promote the idea that the Gold Coast is just 'one sleep' from mainland China, as far as direct flights go,” said Mayor Tate.

"The work done via our Mayoral missions to China and the UAE is paying dividends, backed by exceptional work led by Gold Coast Airport and Gold Coast Tourism."

Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones welcomed the news that the Gold Coast had topped the list of Chinese travellers' favourite destinations.

“It's no wonder the Gold Coast has been rated as the favourite destination among Chinese travellers, with our relaxed lifestyle, iconic beaches, warm weather and open skies luring around 295,000 visitors to the Coast from China last year,” Ms Jones said.

“I'm so pleased our Chinese friends now know what we've always known – that Queensland is by far the best tourism destination in Australia.

“Last year we saw Chinese visitor numbers surpass the number of New Zealand tourists visiting Queensland, making China our largest international market for the first time ever.

“In total we welcomed 485,000 visitors from China to Queensland in 2016, which was up more than 33% on the previous year.

“This was a real turning point for us because it reaffirmed that the future of our tourism industry is absolutely linked to the growing Chinese market.

“This shows that our Government's investment in growing the Chinese market is paying off and is the right thing to do because it's supporting jobs and growing our economy.”

Ms Jones said the Gold Coast recorded a 16% increase in international visitors in the year ending September 2016, which was a record high.

“We're seeing really strong growth in a number of Asian markets including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, with visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast increasing to a $1.3 billion,” she said.

Southern province celebrates intangible musical heritage

The 23rd festival of “don ca tai tu”, the musical art recognised by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage, took place in the southern province of Long An on February 12-13.

The festival paid tribute to music teacher Nguyen Quang Dai, credited with promoting and preserving the traditional musical art of the southern region during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945).

It also offers an opportunity for masters of “don ca tai tu” to meet and exchange experience to promote the art, contributing to the preservation of this intangible cultural heritage.

Held annually in Long An, the festival has become a typical cultural feature of the region and attracts many visitors.

This year, the “don ca tai tu” festival in Long An drew the participation of 10 musical groups from HCM City and the provinces close by, including Tien Giang, Vinh Long, Ben Tre and Dong Nai. They entertained the audience with their performances of songs praising national heroes, patriotism and national achievements.

As part of the festival, the organisers also held a photo exhibition featuring the life and career of the masters of ”don ca tai tu” so that visitors could learn more about this musical art of southern Viet Nam.

UNESCO recognised the art as an intangible cultural heritage in 2013. The art is performed at numerous events, such as festivals, death anniversary rituals, and celebratory social events. The audience can join in by practising, making comments or creating new words for songs.

The Darling Named First and Only Five-Star Hotel in Sydney by Forbes Travel Guide in Its Official 2017 Star Rating Announcement

Forbes Travel Guide has unveiled its annual Star Rating list, awarding Sydney's The Darling, the highest ranking of Five-Stars. The Darling is the first ever Sydney-based hotel to be named in the Forbes list and will be showcased with all of the new Star Rating recipients on ForbesTravelGuide.com.

The Darling is honoured to be the first Sydney hotel to be awarded a prestigious Forbes Five-Star rating. A Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating is the most coveted award in the global luxury travel sector. Properties awarded Five-Stars are considered outstanding and are often iconic with virtually flawless service and facilities.

The Darling is located at The Star Sydney and is a key feature of Sydney's leading entertainment destination. The hotel was designed as a stand-alone structure, with its own arrival experience, amenities and alluring personality. Housed in a distinctive inverted glass tower resting on a sandstone podium, the hotel features 171 stylish and spacious rooms, suites and penthouses, a 25-metre outdoor heated swimming pool, world-class cuisine and an indulgent day spa.

“Being awarded Five-Stars by Forbes Travel Guide is such an achievement and puts The Darling among the most reputable in the world,” said Greg Hawkins, Managing Director, The Star Sydney.

“Led by our General Manager, John Autelitano, the team at The Darling has worked incredibly hard to create a level of guest service that is truly first-class. They are committed, enthusiastic and most importantly fully understanding of the service levels required to ensure our guests enjoy an unforgettable stay.

“We are thrilled to have received the Five-Star rating from Forbes and we look forward to giving visitors from Sydney and around the globe the opportunity to experience Sydney's first Forbes Five-Star rated property. From the handpicked pillow menu, to the holistic day spa, bespoke furniture and vibrant cityscape views, The Darling offers the ultimate in luxury,” continued Greg Hawkins.

The Darling is the latest addition to the luxury travel ratings that have been the gold standard in the hospitality industry around the world since 1958, alongside luxury brands such as The Peninsula Hotel Group, Four Seasons Hotel Group, Rosewood, The Ritz-Carlton, 45 Park Lane London, Park Hyatt and Mandarin Oriental.

“We are delighted to recognise the 2017 Star Rating recipients, an exceptional collection of hotels, restaurants and spas that demonstrates a strong culture of service,” said Gerard J. Inzerillo, Chief Executive Officer of Forbes Travel Guide.

“In an online environment of confusion and clutter, Forbes Travel Guide is the most trusted source of information to assist guests in making informed decisions,” Inzerillo said. “These properties, the largest and most global group in the company's history, achieve an impeccable standard of excellence in hospitality, underscoring our overall mission of positively contributing to the international tourism industry as well as individual hotel experience. We are proud to congratulate everyone associated with the prestigious properties recognised today.”

The Darling Spa has also been awarded a prestigious Forbes Four-Star Rating positioning the world-class facility alongside the likes of Spa Montage Beverly Hills and The Peninsula Spa Paris. With 13 luxurious treatment rooms including two exclusive couples' suites and a Moroccan Hammam chamber, The Darling Spa is Sydney's ultimate urban escape that takes pampering to new heights. The Darling Spa facilities also include a steam room, salt water Jacuzzi and a gym for an all-encompassing experience.

For a detailed explanation of how Forbes Travel Guide compiles its Star Ratings, visit www.forbestravelguide.com/about/ratings.

FAST FACTS

  • The Darling won the Gold Medal for Luxury Accommodation at the 2016 NSW Tourism Awards
  • The Darling is a finalist in the luxury category of the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards to be announced in Darwin on Friday 24 February, 2017
  • The Darling won Best New Hotel Construction and Design at the International Hotel Awards 2012-13
  • The Darling was named one of the Top 60 Best New Hotels in the world in 2012 by Conde Nast Traveller
  • The Darling has 171 luxury rooms, an award-winning spa, a gym and a 25-metre outdoor heated pool
  • The Forbes Travel Guide has 154 Five-Star rated hotels, 411 Four-Star rated hotels and 159 Recommended hotels
  • Forbes Travel Guide started as the Mobil Travel Guide in 1958
  • The Ritz-Carlton hotels in Toronto, Cancun and Shanghai were added to the Forbes Five-Star rating list in 2016

Connect with Forbes Travel Guide:

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Twitter: www.twitter.com/ForbesInspector
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ForbesTravelGuide

Connect with The Star Sydney:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/TheStarSydney
Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheStarSydney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheStar

About The Darling

The Darling is a luxuriously appointed five-star hotel situated within Sydney's premier events and entertainment destination, the Star, on the edge of Sydney Harbour. The Darling has a distinctive inverted glass tower resting on a sandstone podium and features 171 stylish and spacious rooms and suites, a rooftop pool, world-class cuisine and an indulgent day spa. To make a booking online, visit www.thedarling.com.au

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Dive into some of the best swimming spots in NSW

Surrounded by a beautiful coastline, NSW is spoilt for choice with a collection of ocean pools to cool off on hot Summer days.

Here are some off the top swimming spots to chill down this Summer.
  1. Bondi Icebergs Baths – The landmark Bondi Icebergs Baths has a 50 metre lap pool, or a smaller children’s pool supervised by lifeguards, so the entire family can stay cool this Summer.
  2. MacCallum Pool – Head north to Cremorne Point to make the most of breathtaking Sydney Harbour views as you enjoy a dip. Built in the 1920s, MacCallum Pool is one of the quietest pools in Sydney.
  3. Wylie’s Baths – Wylie’s Baths at Coogee Beach boasts sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and sits right below the Maroubra to Bondi coastal walkway. One of Sydney’s most beautiful ocean tidal pools, Wylie’s Baths is a favourite among visitors and locals alike. Established in 1907 by Henry Alexander Wylie, a championship long distance and underwater swimmer, the Baths were the first mixed-gender bathing pools built in Australia.
  4. Fairy Bower Pool –Triangular in shape and boasting ‘The Sea Nymphs’ and ‘The Oceanides’ sculptures, Manly’s Fairy Bower Pool combines coastline and creativity all in one relaxed location. On the walk from Manly to Shelly Beach, it has been a favourite since it was built in 1929.
  5. Whites Beach – One of the country’s best kept secrets, Whites Beach at Broken Head near Byron Bay offers a piece of secluded paradise with rocky cliffs, palm trees and pristine waters. Whites Beach is tucked out the way with access via a drive along Seven Mile Beach Road followed by a trek through the rainforest. Named as Australia’s number one secret destination in Australian Traveller Magazine, Whites Beach is a hidden gem and a great little getaway that’s worth well the effort.
  6. Blue Pool – Take a dip in Bermagui’s famous Blue Pool, a natural rock pool washed with crystal clear water which offers fantastic snorkelling. The natural rock pool lies at the base of a rocky cliff face with picnic tables, amenities and a shower nearby.
  7. Newcastle Ocean Baths – With its Art Deco pavilion, Newcastle Ocean Baths is one of the city’s outstanding historic landmarks. For more than 100 years, Novocastrians have enjoyed splashing in the salt water, many remembering it fondly as the place where they first learnt how to swim.
  8. The Bogey Hole – Located on the Mollymook headland is a large circular rock pool and makes an ideal place to cool off for families with young children or anyone looking for a calm spot for a dip. For those looking to explore marine life, the Bogey Hole has snorkelling.
  9. The Entrance Ocean Baths – A children’s pool, 22 metre pool and full-length Olympic-size pool makes these bath’s ideal for everyone. The baths at the Entrance are popular with locals and visitors alike as it is the only ocean pool on the Central Coast.
  10. Yarrangobilly Caves – Located in Kosciuszko National Park, Yarrangobilly Caves is one of the most beautiful limestone cave systems in Australia. Enjoy swimming in the above ground, natural spring, outdoor thermal pool which is at a constant 27°C year-round. Before taking the plunge, discover stalagmites, stalactites and corals in the caves. You can also enjoy a spot of fishing nearby and try your luck at catching a rainbow trout.

For more information, and to check out some of the best swimming spots in NSW, go to www.visitnsw.com or www.Sydney.com

Pay attention to the advice of the lifesavers and safety signs. Visit SharkSmart to understand any potential risks in the area you are swimming. You are always welcome to ask lifeguards for more safety advice. If you find yourself needing help in the water, stay calm and attract attention. It’s also a good idea to always swim with a friend. Check conditions before you go. You can also find patrolled beach by visiting beachsafe.org.au.