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.

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

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

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


  • 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:


Connect with The Star Sydney:


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

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 or

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

Celebrity Speakers

Celebrity Speakers have kick-started the year with big news, exclusively representing World #1 and fan favourite Blade Runner, Liam Malone!

2014 was the year Liam decided to turn his life around and within the next 3 years went on to win two gold medals and a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, breaking the previous Paralympic records held by Oscar Pistorius.

Liam’s sprint times on the track make him New Zealand’s second fastest 400m sprinter ever – legs or not!

Since the Paralympics, Liam has had many achievements including being awarded with the New Zealand Order of Merit, M2 New Zealand Man of the Year and Graduated from a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and International Business.

Liam is a dynamic and cutting edge presenter, his motivational story is a perfect way to start your conference or entertain your audience after-dinner.

Phone: +64 (09) 373 4177

The Langham, Melbourne's Melba Restaurant Teams Up With Vietnamese Cuisine Guru, Ms Vy

The Langham, Melbourne's Melba Restaurant teams up with Vietnamese cuisine guru, Ms Vy Thursday 30 march – one night only

The Langham, Melbourne's Melba Restaurant is renowned for its depth and breadth of international cuisines. Asian? Tick. Japanese? Absolutely! Indian? You bet. Italian? Si. French? Mais oui! But Vietnamese has rarely featured in the restaurant's kitchen.

That will change from 6pm until 10pm on Thursday 30 March when Melba Restaurant teams up with House of Hoi An's legendary Ms Vy for one night only to kick off the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Goi cuon (pork and prawn summer rolls) and goi buoi (pomelo chicken and prawn salad) will be served alongside thit heo ngu vi voi xoi dua (aroma spiced pork belly with sticky rice) and vem xao sa ot (mussels in aromatic Hoi An spices).

Trinh Diem Vy, or Ms Vy as she is affectionately known by her loyal diners, has always had a passion for delicious and authentic Vietnamese food. She is widely considered the go-to girl for Vietnamese cuisine and her Windsor House of Hoi An is just as popular with locals here as her four eateries, a cooking school and boutique hotel in Hoi An.

The menu aims to introduce diners to freshly and expertly prepared Vietnamese dishes and provide an insight into life in Vietnam.

Adults are $89.00 each, while children between the ages of 4 and 12 dine for $44.50.

Bookings mas be made by contacting 1800 641 107.

Ho Chi Minh City - Gyeongju International Cultural Festival 2017 to take place in November

Ben Thanh Market
Chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong and Governor of Gyeongsangbuk-do province, Korea Kim Kwan Yong co-chaired a ceremony in HCMC on 21 February to introduce a management board of the 2017 Ho Chi Minh City - Gyeongju International Cultural Festival.

The cultural festival is scheduled to take place from November 9 – December 3 with art and cinema performances, exhibitions, culture exchange, trade and investment promotion activities.