Monday, 30 June 2014


From industry members to fully-fledged coffee-holics, to those who love to combine their cocoa bean with their coffee bean, there’s something for everyone at next month’s The Rocks Aroma Festival on Sunday 27 July, 2014.

Returning for its 17th year, the 2014 Aroma Festival includes not only the Sunday event, but also offers an impressive array of activities and workshops available throughout the month of July leading up to the big day. The coffee-curious can learn how to make pour-over coffee at home, become Picasso with workshops in latte art, enjoy insider’s tips from professional chocolate makers, and learn about the complex and delicate flavours of coffee with different cupping sessions.

Last year’s Aroma Festival attracted more than 90,000 people to The Rocks and a similar crowd of coffee fans is expected this year. Visitors will have the chance to sample different roasts and brews to their hearts’ content with over 60 stalls of coffee roasters, tea, domestic coffee machines and delicious fine foods that can be paired perfectly with coffee.

Coffee lovers can contribute a little piece to a giant coffee cup bean sculpture with ‘steam’ made from hundreds of cups decorated with stories and drawings while discovering all that The Rocks Markets has to offer: fabulous designer clothes, original collectables, great food, music and much, much more.

CEO of Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Catherine Gallagher praised the work that goes into the festival year after year, “It’s wonderful that Aroma brings so many people to The Rocks. The Authority works hard at creating events that encourage people to visit The Rocks, and Aroma has been doing that for seventeen years now.”

Due to popular demand, the Aroma Cup returns for its second year, where The Rocks cafés will compete throughout the month of July to win the most coveted title of best coffee experience of the Festival. This will be judged by industry specialists as well as a people’s choice award. Customers can sample the caffeine delights throughout July in any of The Rocks cafés and vote with their taste buds. The lucky winner of the Aroma Cup will receive a Breville Oracle Coffee Machine, dinner for two at Pony Dining in The Rocks and a night in a King Superior Room including a full buffet breakfast at Old Sydney Holiday Inn.

Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is responsible for historically significant foreshore land and is responsible for driving 14 million visitors annually into The Rocks with an average spend $91 per head. SHFA contributes $1.2 billion dollars (direct gross value added) to NSW tourism. This represents 11.5% of the total NSW tourism GVA. This includes $162.3 million in direct economic contribution from precinct events.

Date: Sunday 27 July 2014
Location: The Rocks
Cost: Free

Dates: Throughout July
Location: The Rocks
Costs: Varies

Date: 4-31 July
Location: The Rocks

Show the Kids the Wonders of Family-Friendly Vietnam

Explore Saigon, the Mekong Delta and historic Hoi An on Grasshopper Adventures' new action-packed Vietnam for Families cycle tour.

The seven-day adventure includes short, achievable backroad rides, boat trips, walking tours and a host of activities to keep the whole family engaged.

Starting in Saigon with sightseeing and an open-air meal at Ben Thanh Market, the tour then visits the Cu Chi Tunnels, the former Viet Cong underground hideout that has been preserved as a museum.

Next, it's on to the Mekong Delta, where every ride along the canals reveals why this region is renowned as Vietnam's foodbowl. See floating markets, rowdy fisherfolk and roadside food vendors; in the evening help your homestay hosts prepare a traditional Southern meal.

A short flight then takes you to the World Heritage-listed town of Hoi An, where you can ride through market gardens, learn to plant or harvest rice, and try your hand at fishing in the estuary with local fishermen.

As with all Grasshopper Adventure tours, an air-conditioned support vehicle follows riders at every step, carrying luggage and anyone who needs a break. A local, English-speaking guide hosts the tour.

Tour Info

Next trip: December 26, 2014 to January 1, 2015
Cost: US$1700 pp (20% discount for children 12 and under)
Duration: 7 days
Cycle distance: 115km

Melbourne couple celebrate milestone visit to the Great Barrier Reef

Possibly some of the Great Barrier Reef's biggest fans, Melbourne couple Jackie and Peter Mihalec celebrated their 45th visit to Hardy Reef last week.

The couple, who drive the 3,000km to the Whitsundays at least once per year, also celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary earlier this year making the milestone that bit more special.

Cruise Whitsundays hosted the couple who first visited Hardy Reef 23 years ago and got hooked. "Every time we visit it is awesome and different," said Mrs Mihalec.

"If there is a current, I love to drift snokel; if it's high tide I love snorkelling over the top of the reef; if it's low tide I like watching the fish hug the reef wall; if it's raining or rough you get a roller coaster ride at the same time - so much fun; I just love it in any condition!" she said.

"I'm 64 and love life, and the main reason I keep coming back to Hardy Reef is that it makes me feel very safe - there is a snorkel rope you can use and the staff are amazing, constantly on snorkel watch and ensuring everyone is looked after."

"I am usually the first person in the water and stay there until the last call for lunch. Many times my husband picks up my lunch and I eat it on the way home!"

Cruise Whitsundays Business Tourism Executive Steve Neale said he had met the Mihalecs on many occasions over the years. "One of the great things about working in the tourism industry is happy customers and it's been wonderful to see the Mihalecs come back year after year and see them enjoy the reef so much and it's nice for them to see so many old faces still around the reef operations and catch up with them each time they visit," he said.

Cruise Whitsundays Contact

If calling from overseas: +61 7 4846 7000
If calling from Australia: 07 4846 7000

Shinsaibashi Suji the shoppers destination in Japan

Shinsaibashi is a district in the Chūō-ku ward of Osaka, Japan and the city's main shopping area.

It centers around Shinsaibashi-suji, a covered shopping street protected from weather.

It is one of Osaka's oldest and busiest shopping destinations which runs about 600 meters in length.

Shinsaibashi Suji's collection of brand name shops, chain stores, independent boutiques and variety of restaurants makes it popular with shoppers.

Lonely Planet reveals The World’s Best Spicy Food

  • The World’s Best Spicy Food
  • Where to Find it and How to Make it

Lonely Planet reveals The World’s Best Spicy Food in an exciting new book which shows you where to find and how to make some of the fieriest foods from around the globe. The World’s Best Spicy Food explores 100 of the world’s must-eat dishes for hungry heat lovers, and takes the reader on a tour of the culinary hotspots which are loved by locals and travellers alike.

In this follow up title to 2012’s The World’s Best Street Food, Lonely Planet authors’ destination expertise is accompanied by stunning photography and local knowledge, showcasing culinary creativity from every corner of the world.

Incorporating a mixture of best-loved dishes (Thai Green Curry) alongside new favourites (Tunisian Shakshouka), each delicacy in the book is given two dedicated pages detailing the history and culture behind the food, alongside the recipe to recreate the dish at home.

Other recipes include:
  • Devil’s Curry from Singapore
  • Doro Wat from Ethiopia
  • Pica Pau from Portugal
  • Saliva Chicken from China
  • Piccalilli from England

The book’s foreword is presented by internationally renowned foodie Tom Parker-Bowles, who talks passionately about his love of spicy foods. “This book is not about chillies alone, rather ‘spicy’ food in its every guise; the pungent, nose-clearing honk of wasabi, mustard and horseradish; pepper’s pep and paprika’s punch; the warming allure of cinnamon and mace, the bracing crunch of piccalilli. These are dishes to make the taste buds punch the air with elation, flavours that kick-start the palate and infuse every sense with joy” (page 8).

The World’s Best Spicy Food (£14.99) is available in stores now and is also available from

French Sophistication & Island Relaxation Now Less Than Four Hours from Melbourne

Take a short break with Aircalin's new $499* return flights direct from Melbourne to Noumea

Break up the winter months and take full advantage of the long weekends this year with Aircalin's new direct Melbourne to Noumea flight launching on 6 June, 2014. Melburnians can now escape to New Caledonia in less than four hours, departing on Friday and arriving just in time for a sumptuous, authentic French dining experience to start their unique island escape.

To celebrate the inaugural flight, Aircalin is releasing a special launch fare of AUD$499* return, including all taxes and fuel levies, for a limited time only. This fare is available for sale as of today, Monday, 14 April until 28 April, and is valid for travel between 6 June and 16 September, 2014.

For Melburnians, this unique destination blending French culture with Melanesian traditions will be closer than ever before. Flying Aircalin, New Caledonia is only a short two hours from Brisbane, less than three hours from Sydney and, as of June, just under four hours from Melbourne. Aircalin's schedule means travellers can easily visit New Caledonia for a short break.

Arrive into Noumea for some beachside relaxation, French wine and cuisine, and lively bars and cafés. From Noumea you can also take a short 20-minute flight to the breathtaking Isle of Pines for picture perfect beaches and UNESCO protected lagoons.

With a range of accommodation for all budgets and activities to suit all tastes such as trekking, diving, sailing, golfing and horse riding, New Caledonia has it all, without the distance.

Aircalin's new services will depart twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays in both directions and will increase to three services per week from late October. All flights are full-service offering complimentary meals and beverages along with one piece of luggage up to 23 kilograms at no additional cost.

For more information on New Caledonia, deals and for a chance to with a trip to New Caledonia visit New Caledonia Tourism's new website

*Terms and conditions apply. Contact Aircalin for full terms and conditions (taxes taken as of 8 April 2014 and subject to change).

Wildflower walks

As WA's wildflower season gets underway, Stirling Range Retreat in WA's South West will soon be offering daily tours to wildflower hot spots in the region.

The Hidden Treasures Orchid and Wildflower Bus Tours will depart at 9am every day from August 15 to October 31.

Stirling Range Retreat will also run Dawn and Dusk Bird Walks, which will depart every day at 8am and 3pm from September 7 to October 25 - more than 62 bird species can be found around the retreat during this time.

Stirling Range Retreat offers self-contained accommodation, caravan and camping facilities beside Stirling Range National Park, which is rich with wildflowers and other flora - there are at least 87 endemic plants growing in the region, that can't be found anywhere else in the world.

WA boasts the world's biggest collection of wildflowers, with more than 12,000 species to be found across the State from June until November.

For more information about Western Australian, including events, visit

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Lonely Planet reveals the world’s best hotels 2014

Mihir Gahr, Rajasthan, India
Lonely Planet is launching its first ever collection of the world’s best places to stay. Its network of expert authors, arguably the planet’s most well-travelled group of people, have scoured the globe to find the most Extraordinary places to stay, the Best Value accommodation and the top Eco retreats. A panel then selected their 10 top picks in each of the three categories.

Extraordinary: Lonely Planet’s authors are always on the lookout for experiences which will create exceptional and memorable moments for travellers, and accommodation is no exception. Included in the cut of the 10 most unique places to stay are Saugerties Lighthouse in New York State and the Gibbon Experience Treehouse in Laos.

Best Value: Having visited thousands of hotels, hostels and guesthouses Lonely Planet’s authors know good value when they see it and they understand how important it is to travellers. Old Plovdiv Guesthouse in Bulgaria and Oztel in Rio de Janeiro were two of the places that they found to offer the most bang for your buck.

Eco: Travelling responsibly has always been at the core of Lonely Planet and with this in mind our authors strive to find the most eco-friendly accommodation. From the nominations, the judges selected 10 outstanding eco places to stay which had made impressive strides to minimise their environmental impact and contribute to their local communities. Chole Mjini in Tanzania and Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in Peru, two of the best in the world according to the panel. Editor Tom Hall was part of the expert panel who selected the finalists, he said; “We’re delighted with our first ever list of top hotels. This collection is one of a kind we believe, as it is put together by the most well- travelled people on earth. At Lonely Planet we’ve been giving recommendations to travellers about where to stay for 40 years. Our guidebook authors provide their honest opinion and never take freebies in exchange for positive coverage so you can trust in our reviews.”

Lonely Planet’s website has over 80,000 author reviewed hotels, as well as curated lists of the best places to stay in more than 650 destinations.
A full list of winners follows. Find out more about each of the winning hotels, including author commentary, at:

  1. Mihir Gahr, Rajasthan, India
  2. Planet Baobab, Gweta, Botswana
  3. Prendiparte B&B, Bologna, Italy
  4. Qasr Al Sarab, UAE
  5. Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge, TAS, Australia
  6. Free Spirit Spheres, British Columbia, Canada
  7. Taskonak Hotel, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
  8. Thonga Beach Lodge, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
  9. Saugerties Lighthouse, New York state, USA
  10. The Gibbon Experience Treehouse, Bokeo Reserve, Laos
Best Value
The Backpack, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. The Backpack, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. Sydney Harbour YHA, Australia
  3. Inkosana Lodge, Champagne Valley, Drakensberg, South Africa
  4. Old Plovdiv Guesthouse, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  5. Hotel Gruner Baum, Glorenza, Sudtirol, Italy
  6. Oztel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  7. Fauzi Azar Inn, Nazareth, Israel
  8. We Hostel Design, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  9. Hotel Hotel Hostel, Seattle, USA
  10. On the corner, Kolomyya, Ukraine
Lapa Rios, Peninsula de Osa, Costa Rica
  1. Lapa Rios, Peninsula de Osa, Costa Rica
  2. Bulungula Backpackers, South Africa
  3. Chole Mjini, Chole Island, Mafia Archipelago, Tanzania
  4. Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Aguas Calientes, Peru
  5. EcoLodge Chepu Adventures, Chiloe, Chile
  6. Maison Anglaise, Taroudant, Morocco
  7. Earthship Rentals, Taos, New Mexico, USA
  8. Dana Guest House, Jordan
  9. Nuli Sapi, Papua New Guinea
  10. Baikaler Eco-Hostel, Listvyanka, Russia

New Caledonia Home to the Largest Nature Preserve on Earth

New Caledonia
A newly established marine park the size of Alaska on Australia's doorstep

New Caledonia is already regarded as an ecological hotspot, with the world's largest coastal lagoon and UNESCO World Heritage site in their backyard, but now this natural wonder has added another to the list.

Covering more than 1.3 million square kilometres, New Caledonia is home to the largest nature preserve on Earth, Le Parc Naturel de la Mer de Corail, or 'the Natural Park of the Coral Sea'.

The marine park is larger than Alaska, twice the size of Texas, three times the size of Germany and much larger than any other protected area on the planet.

The newly established sanctuary, Le Parc Naturel de la Mer de Corail, comes after an exemplary decision by the Government of New Caledonia to protect its natural wealth and create the world's largest protected area on land and sea.

The area covers around 450,000 hectares of coral reefs, 25 species of marine mammals, 48 shark species, 19 species of nesting birds and five species of sea turtles. The park's ecosystem also generates up to 3,000 tons of fish every year, providing an important food source for New Caledonia's quarter of a million human inhabitants.

New Caledonia Tourism's sales and marketing director, Caroline Brunel, said this is a significant and monumental decision for New Caledonia and the entire Pacific region.

"This is a historic moment in marine conservation as well as sustainable tourism. Such a measure exemplifies that it is possible to invest in the long-term health and productivity of our ocean resources, whilst also investing in our tourism industry,” she said.

“Not only does the park set an international example with its sheer size, it also demonstrates how such decisions will positively impact tourism to both New Caledonia and the wider Pacific area.

“We are saving some of our most valuable ecological assets while they are still pristine. Something we will thank ourselves for many years to come when future generations can still experience them," Caroline said.

With the Earth's richest biodiversity per square kilometre, according to Lonely Planet, New Caledonia is considered the world's only stand-alone biodiversity hotspot. Home to the second-longest double-barrier coral reef, after Australia's Great Barrier Reef; the world's largest coastal lagoon and now the largest nature preserve on Earth, there are no shortage of reasons to visit this naturally diverse destination.

As the closest overseas destination to Australia, New Caledonia is an ideal destination for Australians looking for a Pacific holiday with a difference, as its resident's converse in French, the island offers a Pacific Islands paradise.

Flying direct with Aircalin you can be in Noumea, in two hours from Brisbane, less than three hours from Sydney and under four hours from Melbourne; the short flying times make this Pacific island the perfect long weekend getaway, with a marine park the size of Alaska waiting just on Australia's doorstep.

For more information on New Caledonia visit

New Weekday Special at The Majestic Malacca Announced

The Majestic Malacca, one of YTL Hotels' five-star classic hotels in Malaysia, has introduced its Weekday Special inclusive of accommodation in a Deluxe Room for two, daily breakfast and a choice of either a sumptuous dinner at The Mansion or a relaxing 50-minute experience at the award-winning Spa Village Malacca.

The new Weekday Special is available at a starting price of AUD$210 (MYR550++) per room per night and is available for stays from Sunday to Thursday. This new package is perfect for travellers who would like to explore Malacca's nostalgic city at a leisurely pace, escaping the hustle and bustle of this UNESCO World Heritage site on the weekends.

Travellers who book this package will be able to choose from either a meal at The Mansion or a 50-minute experience at Spa Village Malacca, the world's only spa that bases its therapies on Peranakan cultural traditions. Guests will also be able to enjoy The Majestic Malacca's two-hour-long historical walk that winds through the narrow streets of this centuries-old port city, past picturesque buildings, where craftsmen ply their trade, before finishing at the heart of the historic Jonker Street.

The Majestic Malacca consists of the original Peranakan-style mansion which dates back to 1927 where it was acquired and lovingly restored by YTL Hotels in 2006; the Peranakan-inspired Spa Village Malacca and a ten-storey tower wing which houses 52 guest rooms and two suites. Recently listed among the Top 25 Hotels in Malaysia in the 2014 Traveller's Choice Awards by TripAdvisor, The Majestic Malacca continues to attract visitors travelling for work or leisure.

The Majestic Malacca

Set on the banks of the Malacca River in the historical district of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Majestic Malacca, a 54-room luxurious boutique hotel, provides an experience of another age. Its rooms evoke a luxurious, nostalgic sense of the city's rich history where Dutch, Portuguese and Peranakan Chinese styles merge in a cultural crossroad. From the fine teakwood fittings to the intricate designs of the original porcelain floor tiles, this classic hotel reflects Malacca's unique heritage providing the comfort and romance required by the discerning traveller.

AFL Footy Show Hosts Launch Do Kokoda Campaign

Australian AFL legends and the hosts of Channel Nine's AFL Footy Show, Sam Newman and Garry Lyon, have joined forces with Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (PNGTPA) to launch the destination's new “Do Kokoda” campaign.

The two Footy Show hosts recently trekked Kokoda for the first time to understand the challenges and triumphs undergone by others and produced daily diaries of their experiences during the eight day trek, in the form of webisodes and blogs.

Their accounts of their Kokoda journey are available for others to view on the dedicated campaign microsite – Stories from the trek include Sam and Garry's special relationships they formed with their porters, how out of his depth Sam appears when dealing with the jungle and the gradual but obvious change in attitudes of both men from the beginning of the trip to the end. These stories will form part of an inspirational community platform, created to motivate others to share their Kokoda stories.

In addition to the testimonials from past trekkers the site will include links to established Kokoda trek operators, FAQs about trekking Kokoda, information on how to donate to the Kokoda Track Foundation to support communities along the track, as well as an opportunity for those who submit their stories to win a trip to Tufi Resort in PNG.

Peter Vincent, Chief Executive Officer of PNG Tourism Promotion Authority, says the launch of the 'Do Kokoda' campaign aims to raise awareness of the rich history and stories behind Kokoda, as well as the wealth of experiences to be encountered along the track.

“The Do Kokoda campaign and microsite have been designed to provide information and inspirational accounts that will encourage more Australians to take on the challenge of Kokoda as well as highlight the important and positive impact tourism has on local communities along the track,” Mr Vincent said.

“Thousands of people trek through the jungles of Owen Stanley Ranges in the footsteps of heroes and our hope is to encourage more Australians to the do the same.”

After trekking the Kokoda track, Sam Newman said he was blown away by the entire experience stating it was the hardest thing he has ever done.

“It was tough, there's no doubt about that, but the whole trip was so memorable – from the wild jungle along the track to the World War II history and especially the porters. Our porters, the local boys, were unbelievable,” Sam said, “I wouldn't have made it the whole way without them.”

Garry Lyon said the trip had more of an impact on him than he had expected and he's looking forward to sharing his experiences with others.

“We captured some amazing footage along the way for our daily diary accounts which will feature on the new “Do Kokoda” website,” said Garry.

“There's plenty of moving moments where Sam and I are struggling and learning about the history of the track but there's also a lot of very funny parts to check out as well. You put Sam in a jungle and there's bound to be some funny moments!”

Garry and Sam's Kokoda Daily Diaries are visible on the Do Kokoda website.

To encourage Australians to submit their stories and testimonials on the “Do Kokoda” site, PNGTPA is offering those who upload their Kokoda story a chance to win a seven night boutique adventure for two at TUFI Resort valued at over $7,000. Entries need to be submitted between now and 1 November, 2014 via

To view Sam and Garry's videos from their time on the track and to learn more about Kokoda visit

Hong Kong International Hobby and Toy Museum

A quaint museum devoted to toys – what more could our inner child want?

The museum restores and displays toys from the last two centuries ranging from Pixar characters like Ratatouille and 1980s Care Bears to older favourites like Popeye and Raggedy Ann.

You can also expect to find rockets, anime characters, pop music icons, celebrity dolls, aliens, monsters and, of course, robots.

Take a tour or book a private kid’s birthday party at this colourful spot.

Admission is $30 for adults and kids aged 11 and under are $20. Closed on Tuesdays.
Address: 1/F, 330 Shanghai St, Yau Ma Tei
Tel: +852 3599 5516

Ogle Perth Zoo's orangutans up close

Ape aficionados are now able to get closer to orangutans at the Perth Zoo, thanks to a new two-metre high boardwalk around the enclosure.

Built using renewable and recycled materials, the $3.6 million exhibit has a rainforest atmosphere and features four extra vertical poles linked to the main towers with climbing ropes, encouraging the orangutans to spend more time up high.

The boardwalk has a Jungle School theme, reflecting Perth Zoo's work in preparing suitable zoo-born orangutans for release into a jungle sanctuary in Sumatra, Indonesia.

For more information about Western Australian, including events, visit

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Tu Lan cave system open for tourists

The People's Committee of Quang Binh province in collaboration with the International Travel Company Oxalis has opened adventure tours for visitor to the Tu Lan cave system in Minh Hoa District in Vietnam on June 25.

Accordingly, the route leads visitors through eight caves, namely Chuot, Hung Ton, Tu Lan, Ken, Kim, Song, Uoi and Bi Mat.

Because the tour is considered as an adventure travel tour, Oxalis Travel Company has spent two years on a geographical location search before commencing the tours.

The tours are listed as a project on cultural tourism development, exploring ecology and Tu Lan cave system conservation.

All tour guides are from British Royal Cave Research Association.

Floriade 2014

Floriade is Australia’s biggest celebration of spring. This iconic Canberra event, which is now in its 27th year, runs for 30 days over the months of September and October.

It showcases one million flowers in bloom throughout Canberra’s Commonwealth Park and entry is free. The event welcomes more than 400,000 local, interstate and international visitors each year.

Floriade 2014 is a month-long festival. 13 September – 12 October, 2014 at Commonwealth Park in Canberra.

These are some photos taken at last years Floriade.

Aircalin and New Caledonia Launch Melbourne to Noumea Flights

It was a tough long-weekend for 30 Australian trade, bloggers and media, as they sipped on champagne, snorkelled through pristine lagoons, attended VIP parties, sampled French cuisine and relaxed in luxury accommodation, to celebrate the launch of Aircalin's Melbourne to New Caledonia flight last week.

The group departed Melbourne on Friday 6 June for the inaugural Aircalin flight, starting the celebrations early with French champagne and business class meals, whilst savouring the sunset from the sky.

The group were then greeted with a traditional New Caledonian welcome by local Kanak musicians, before everyone was presented with handmade floral leis and whisked off to a French infused VIP reception hosted by Le Meridien Noumea.

An eventful itinerary followed over the next four days, inclusive of accommodation at the Chateau Royal Beach Resort and Spa and the Hilton La Promenade Noumea, shopping at Port Moselle Markets, day trips to the Isle of Pines and L'Escapade Hotel, beach relaxation, and completed with a cocktail party hosted by the President of New Caledonia, Madame Ligeard at the Chateau Royal.

The group balanced their daily island exploration and activities with an ample diet of New Caledonia's delicious gastronomic delights, every mouthful a unique blend of French cuisine and local produce. Over the course of the weekend guests sampled New Caledonia's famous prawns, Isle of Pines escargot cooked in garlic and French butter, local fruits and of course, the iconic croissants, macaroons and champagne.

Aircalin's new services depart twice weekly from Melbourne on Tuesdays and Fridays in both directions and will increase to three services per week from late October. All flights are full-service offering complimentary meals and beverages along with one piece of luggage up to 23 kilograms at no additional cost.

Flying Aircalin, New Caledonia is two hours from Brisbane, less than three hours from Sydney and now with the new direct flight, just under four hours from Melbourne. New Caledonia is ideal for a week-long getaway, with travellers able to depart on Friday and arrive in time for a delicious, authentic French dining experience to start their unique island escape.

For more information on New Caledonia visit New Caledonia Tourism's new website and for more information on Aircalin visit

The launch of the inaugural flight was further maximised through social media with all participants posting their favourite moments on social media using the hashtags #Aircalinmelbourne #Haveitall #Firstflightmelbnewcal, #newcaledonia.

It's On! In NSW This Winter

A stellar line up of major events is taking place across NSW this winter, reinforcing the State's position as Australia's events capital, declared Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Andrew Stoner.

“NSW continues to present a bumper events calendar to drive visitation to Sydney and Regional NSW,” Mr Stoner said.

“Leading the charge of major events kicking off this winter is a super line-up of sporting highlights which includes the Foxtel A League All Starts taking on Italian football giants Juventus, and the Wallabies challenging the All Blacks for the Bledisloe Cup, both at Sydney's ANZ Stadium,” he said.

“Art enthusiasts will once again be drawn to the annual Archibald Prize Exhibition when it takes centre stage at the Art Gallery of NSW, and at the Lyric Theatre, Strictly Ballroom The Musical continues to dazzle audiences.

“In Regional NSW, Lismore's Opera at the Channon enters its 17th year and promises to bring a feast of food, wine and song. In the State's north, acclaimed chamber music ensembles and international soloists will perform at the Bangalow Music Festival, while in Coffs Harbour, the endless summer rolls on at the Australian Surf Festival,” he said.

Families are also being encouraged to use the winter school holidays as a chance to refresh and reconnect during a short break in Regional NSW, as part of a new tourism campaign.

“With so much on offer in NSW, there's no need for the 'winter blues' these school holidays. Winter is a fantastic time to take an affordable family holiday in Regional NSW, with plenty of kid friendly attractions and adventures waiting to be discovered,” Mr Stoner said.

“Families can search destinations, accommodation and attractions on to plan the ultimate winter getaway. The School Holiday pages highlight family favourites across the State including zoos and wildlife, kid friendly attractions and great family drives,” he said.

Destination NSW is also working in partnership with Tourism Snowy Mountains and the region's four alpine resorts, Charlotte's Pass, Perisher, Selwyn and Thredbo, to present the 'Go Snowhere Else' campaign, which makes planning and booking a snow holiday in NSW easier than ever before.

“The campaign delivers attractive two and five day ski hire packages for planning a family or first-time visit to the ski fields, with information on choosing the best resort for your needs, accommodation and après-skiing,” Mr Stoner said.

Listed below are some of the major events NSW will play host to across the winter months:
• Australian Badminton Open, Sydney, 24-29 June
• Opera at the Channon, Lismore, 27 July
• Archibald Prize Exhibition, Sydney, 19 July to 28 September
• Fireside Festival, the Poachers Way, 1-31 August
• Australian Surf Festival, Coffs Harbour, 2-19 August
• Foxtel A League All Stars vs Juventus, Sydney, 10 August
• Bangalow Music Festival, 15-17 August
• Bledisloe Cup, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, 16 August
• Dungog Festival, 28-31 August
• 2014 Sydney Motorsport Park Supercar Race Weekend, 22-24 August
• Bingham Cup Sydney 2014, 24-31 August
• Strictly Ballroom The Musical, Sydney (now playing).

For more information on visiting NSW, please see and

LUXE Loves: The Trend Report, Summer 2014

Earlier this month the Editors at LUXE City Guides dropped their pens, closed their books and embraced the euphoric state of sending 6 of the latest LUXE lovelies to the printers press. Now, they bring you a round-up of noteworthy happenings from Stockholm, Milan, Seoul, Dubai, Amsterdam, and their newest beauty, Kuala Lumpur. From food to fashion and hotels to hipster hangouts - LUXE has this Summer's hottest trends all wrapped up.

As we drop our pens, close our books and embrace the euphoric state of putting an armful of our babies to bed, we've realised it would be downright rude of us to withhold the most noteworthy happenings in Stockholm, Milan, Seoul, Dubai, Amsterdam, and our newest beauty, Kuala Lumpur. From a city-wide revolt against meter-dodging taxis in Kuala Lumpur to the rise of food-hall dining in Stockholm, there's plenty to share.

High-end vs Low, and Korean Kuisine Takes the Lead
Food, food, food. Gourmands continue to be spoilt for choice when travelling, but the polarisation between the established dining haute-spots of Europe and the hot-on-their heels Asian capitals continues to grow. While culinary heavyweights Stockholm, Amsterdam and Milan move towards pared-back, produce-driven menus, home-grown seasonal ingredients and rustic homestyle dining, Southeast Asia's youngest capital Kuala Lumpur continues to embrace Gallic Gastronauts and the elevated experiences they offer. Classic Korean cuisine may have swept the globe and won legions of loyal fans, but Seoul is looking forward, with modernised, molecular-tinged local dining rising to the fore – as evidenced by the first ever Korean restaurant to be named in S. Pellegrino's Asia's Best 50 Restaurants list 2014, Jung Sikdang (#20).

Heritage Renaissance
Cultural travel is by no means new, but the sad, not-so-distant tendency of some global cities – especially those in Asia – has been to race one another to eradicate the old in place of the bigger and better, often at the expense of historical treasures. Thankfully, a new trend towards preservation is emerging, with hotels particularly inclined to refurb and repurpose heritage buildings. Kuala Lumpur embraces the globally-popular vintage renaissance, merging original colonial architecture with striking new spaces and shab-chic sensibilities – take for example the Hotel Majestic, an illustrious 1930s doll now restored to glitzy 5-star glory. Across the globe, design-led Scandi capital Stockholm continues to melds old and new with aesthetic ease, with fission-hot openings like hotel Miss Clara, which debuted with Art Nouveau architectural heritage intact.

The New Classic
As the fast-paced, rapidly-developing world continues to crave all things handmade, artisan and decidedly yesteryear, the movement away from flash and faff and towards a more bohemian philosophy gains ever more momentum – and nowhere is this more prevalent than in village-vibey creative hub Amsterdam. While unquestionably a gateway to the finer European delights – arts, culture, and cuisine – the Dutch capital has also firmly established itself as an epicentre of the hipster influx, with the real see-and-be-scene hangouts no longer the most 'glam' in town, but the more edgy and underground – lively NDSM dock diner PLLEK being one of the new kool kat mainstays. And although shimmering desert mirage Dubai thrills with its innovation and luxurious excess, it's not only glitter and gold that's grabbing headlines: the local contemporary art scene continues to flourish, making it a must-visit for any art enthusiast.

Fash Foot Forward
Milan, one of fashion's long-reigning European hotbeds, is still rich with rewards for label-hunting Mabels, especially now with everyone from Armani to Dsquared2 to Byblos opening not just boutiques but hotels and restaurants too. Not to be outdone, Stockholm strongly represents the ubiquitous Swede-chic food and fashion scene with luxe one-stop department shops like Mood Stockholm, while Seoul has embraced its own avant-garde sense of style via local design-heavy 'lifestyle emporiums'.

Want more? Get the local lowdown from brand new stays, restaurants, bars and spas, to bespoke shopping and activities in the latest editions of LUXE Milan, LUXE Amsterdam, LUXE Stockholm, LUXE Dubai, LUXE Seoul and the brand new LUXE Kuala Lumpur – all available at

Jung Skidang, Seoul:
Hotel Majestic, Kuala Lumpur:,
Miss Clara, Stockholm:
PLLEK, Amsterdam:
Mood Stockholm:

Year's first humpback whales spotted off Australia's South West‏

The annual migration of humpback whales has begun off the South-West, with the first whales spotted along the coast near Albany and Augusta.

Whale-watchers were thrilled by the sight of this humpback which breached in recent days off Flinders Bay in Augusta.

It is thought that whales whales breach to communicate with each other – a cooee across a vast expanse of ocean. Others scientists say the animals use it to display they are fit and ready to mate.

Each year humpback and southern right whales migrate north in search of warmer waters to breed, playing and feeding close to the coast along the way.

Australia’s South West chief executive officer Jasmine Meagher said it was unique to see both southern right and humpbacks interacting in the waters together, so close to shore.

Whale-watching operator Naturaliste Charters said two blue whales were seen on their tour last week.

“We’re very lucky that the whale-watching season throughout Australia’s South West is one of the longest in the world, spanning six months of the year from June until December annually,’’ Ms Meagher said.

“In addition, we have one of just two southern right whale nurseries in Australia, where southern right whales go to calve each year.’’

Point Ann, within the Fitzgerald River National Park is frequented by calving southern right whales between June and November annually.

Whale watching tours started in early June from both August and Albany, and will continue for as long as whales are sighted.

The Guide to Eight Great Beaches in L.A.

Leo Carrillo State Beach
Los Angeles is the best city to experience the quintessential endless summer in Southern California. We round up eight of the best beaches in LA, from Malibu to the South Bay.

The Getaway: Leo Carrillo State Beach

Located in Malibu 28 miles north of Santa Monica on Pacific Coast Highway, Leo Carrillo State Park offers a beach that stretches for more than a mile, dotted with sea caves, tidepools and other beach-combing delights. The park is named after the actor and preservationist who served on the California Beach and Parks Commission for 18 years. A small visitor center offers interpretive displays, as well as guided nature walks and campfire programs. Picnic areas, campsites and RV facilities are also located in the park, so if you’re looking to set up shop for a while and enjoy the scene, this might be the perfect spot.
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The Hopeless Romantic: El Matador Beach

Depending on how hard you try, you might be able to find a more romantic experience in LA, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more romantic beach than El Matador. Located about 10 miles northwest of Malibu, this secluded pocket beach has rocky shores, robust waves and some of the clearest water in LA. But don’t be deterred by the lack of facilities or the rugged path to the shore; once there, you’ll find that it’s the perfect place to enjoy a sunset dinner in one of the hidden coves.
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The Surf Spot: Malibu Surfrider Beach 

When it’s time to get out the surfboard, apply a new coat of wax and zip on the wetsuit, there’s no better place to be than Surfrider Beach in Malibu. As the waves roll in and begin to curl near the shore, surfers paddle furiously to catch those perfect waves of ocean bliss. You don’t have to be an experienced surfer to appreciate the act of surfing, the cool vibe at the beach or the toned bodies of the surfers. In fact, sometimes it’s better to just be a spectator when the crowds get hectic and you’re fighting to catch a wave.
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The Classic Stretch of Sand: Santa Monica Beach

Located just north of the historic Santa Monica Pier, this is one of the most popular beaches in LA. At two miles long, Santa Monica Beach seems to go on forever and offers plenty of space to stretch the legs, set up for a game of volleyball, or go for a bike ride. Bring the sunscreen, a little cash for parking and a beach towel or blanket. Let the sun, sand and surf do the rest.
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The People Watcher: Venice Beach

Venice Beach is one place where it’s almost as much about the people as it is about the surf or the sand. In fact, the world famous Ocean Front Walk often upstages the Pacific Ocean. As you’re strolling the boardwalk, keep an eye out for Harry Perry, the turbaned guitar player on roller blades who has appeared in numerous films and TV shows. This is also the place to see bodybuilders, chainsaw jugglers and a full complement of palm readers, folk artists and other colorful characters.
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Manhattan Beach

At Manhattan Beach, it’s all beautiful people, shiny cars, big sunglasses and little lap dogs. But that’s in the trendy area of town next to the shore, where scenes from many television shows have been filmed. On the sand, you’ll find beach volleyball at courts that seem to go on for miles, and bodysurfing near the pier. Check out the aquarium at the end of the pier, with its interesting sea creatures and touch pool. When it comes to getting in the water, you should know that surfing is limited to the south side of the pier and boogie boarding is confined to the water north of the pier. Swimming is prohibited in the areas immediately adjacent to the pier.
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Hermosa Beach

There’s a certain hipster vibe at Hermosa Beach and its surrounding seaside community that you won’t find at other LA beaches. You’re just as likely to see people shopping and relaxing in outdoor cafes as you are the tanned and toned beach gods and goddesses that frequent the sandy shoreline. Pier Plaza is the place to hang out when you’d rather skip the sunscreen and beach towels. Once you’re on the shore, a pristine expanse of sand awaits, with volleyball nets, plenty of space for sunbathing and sandcastle building, and a paved walkway for strolling or biking.
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Cabrillo Beach

Popular among travelers and locals hitting the beach with kids in tow, Cabrillo Beach is a tranquil setting near San Pedro, with everything you need for the perfect family outing. Located on a thin peninsula near Point Fermin Park, the beach actually has two sides — one outside the breakwater that’s open to the surf, and one that’s open to the harbor. Depending on the activity, you can select either side and enjoy some adventure or some well-deserved relaxation. After you’re finished with the beach, head to the nearby Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and enjoy the interactive exhibits, tidepool touch tanks and other unforgettable attractions.
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Budding film-maker Asher Shellim is encouraging Sydneysiders to visit the Botanic Garden at least once in their lifetime by capturing its essence in a two-minute video.

“Hopefully ‘Your Sydney–Your Garden’ will draw people in and show them what they have on their doorstep. A lot of people don’t realise just how beautiful the Garden is,” Mr Shellim said.

The Gardens’ Director of Public Engagement, Kate Faithorn, said in addition to attracting new visitors, the film gives those who have already experienced the Garden something to remember it by.

“This film captures the feeling and emotion that a lot of visitors experience during their visit,” Ms Faithorn said.

“The Garden is colossal in size. Along with the Domain, this green space makes up a quarter of the size of the city’s CBD. When you consider you can take your family to a safe environment and immerse yourselves in nature and yet be so close to everything, it’s a special experience everyone would enjoy,” she said.

Asher Shellim said he especially loves to create films around towns, beaches and attractions that people identify with.

“It was amazing to film the Royal Botanic Garden. From being there at 7am to see a beautiful golden light come through — creating different shapes and textures — to seeing horticulturists at work with all the plants. It really opens your eyes to what sort of work that goes on in the Garden,” he said.

Paul Reiffer - Photographer at Petronas Twin Towers KLCC

I was asked last week, as part of a written interview, if I’d ever had to get out of my “comfort zone” in order to get the shot I wanted – the answer, of course, was “yes”, and many times over. The next question was, funnily enough, about how I approach a brand new city in terms of locations and what to shoot. So, what better than a live demonstration as answers to both questions on Friday night in Kuala Lumpur?

The output? This new release: “Velocity”:

A photograph I took while laying on the central reservation of a busy road with 5 lanes of traffic either side of me in a city I’d landed into less than 2.5 hours before.

So how did I get “here”?

This really is a story (and ultimately a photo) all about amazing hospitality and proof of how small the world really can be. A story that I’ll tell backwards, as I found myself at 1 o’clock in the morning in a roadside restaurant with Vic and 3 brand new friends from KL. One of the guys, Kamrul, had bought us dinner, and the five of us sat eating chicken & rice along with some fantastic Tom Yam soup. Together with Hafiz and Abd Halim Hadi, we sat discussing rooftops, cameras and travel; putting the world to rights as if we’d known each other for years. The truth is, I only knew them a little better than just an hour before…

…when I was driven from this street by Kamrul.

I’ been lying down on the roadside to get the light-trail shot I wanted of the world famous Petronas Towers (the KLCC) for around 25 minutes.

The guys were also there taking photos, but more importantly they were keeping an eye out for any rogue cars likely to chop my head off – or the random taxi driver who kept wanting to be the start of the shot

So, how did I get here?

Simple, they drove me from the top of the building we’d been stood on 45 minutes before to get the shot of the city skyline below.

All of us stood looking out over this Kuala Lumpur cityscape from the building as it displayed the perfect amount of light for me to capture the picture I wanted. It was a view that I’d been researching a few days beforehand, but had no idea where and how to get somewhere in order to shoot it.

Of course, we didn’t just teleport to this building, it’s well known to Kamrul and his friends, and therefore easy to get to from our hotel – where they had picked us up about 30 minutes beforehand…

…having dropped us there to check in and leave our bags. After all, they had just collected us from the airport at 9:30pm that evening.

And that, was the first time I met Kamrul and his friends. At 9:30pm outside Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Friday night.

So, why such disbelief on my part?

Well – the entire evening had been planned using Flickr and WhatsApp with Kamrul only a few days before I flew in. It all started with a simple “hi – cool sunset shot!” note on Flickr – it was from a location that I wanted to capture at night. Photographers tend to be really guarded with their locations, so I wasn’t expecting much of a response back – but he replied in hours with not only the location of the building, but alternatives and even an offer to take us there. Over the next few days, through back-and-forth discussions, we had a plan pulled together and Kamrul and his friends prepared for our arrival.

Now, side-note: Of course (note to everyone out there!), nobody should EVER meet a stranger without telling others where you’re going, who you’re meeting, their details and a time to “report in”, which I did.

That said, Kamrul (and from what I understand, as well as a large proportion of the Malaysian population) really is a superstar when it comes to looking after guests; I was truly speechless when we left them. Here we were at KL airport, and a guy I hardly knew had arrived to drive us for hours and hours out of his way, show me the spots I needed, treat us to dinner, and welcome us into his group of friends. I guess with all the bad stuff in the world, our cynicism forces us to forget that a lot of those in the world are happy, friendly, genuine people who simply want to help others.

Sadly I was in KL for less 24 hours this time – but even if I hadn’t got the shots I wanted, I’d come back here in a heartbeat just to explore the city along with the surrounding area with these guys again.So – have I ever stepped out of my comfort zone to photograph a city that I really didn’t know that well? Yup – and I’d jump at the chance to do it again.

*written by Paul Reiffer – Professional Landscape and Commercial Photographer. He is a multi-award winning British photographer. To see more of his amazing photos click on his website -

Food and wine Pete Evans brings Healthy Everyday to Fraser Suites Perth

Australian celebrity and paleo chef Pete Evans will soon take up the role of consultant chef and chief menu designer across all aspects of dining at Fraser Suites Perth.

A range of menus have been designed by Evans for the hotel's restaurant, which is set to officially re-launch with a new look and name in July.

Keeping with Evans' food philosophies, the food offerings will be designed to provide guests with healthy and thoughtfully crafted food, appealing to a range of palates.

The menus will feature seasonal, organic and local produce where possible with WA growers like Kununurra watermelons, Mount Barker free range chicken and Dandaragan organic beef from Margaret River.

Fraser Suites Perth is located just outside Perth's central business district and offers five-star short and long term accommodation with 236 studio, one and two bedroom apartments.

For more information about Western Australian, including events, visit


Friday, 27 June 2014

Qantas & Pepe Saya Butter Do Business

Qantas and Neil Perry's Rockpool Consulting have been dishing up Pepe Saya's delicious cultured butter with First Class meals since March 2012 and at Pepe Saya we are excited to announce that Pepe Saya's handcrafted Australian Cultured Butter will be served to QANTAS International Business Class passengers on flights leaving Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

"This is a great commitment by Qantas to support Australian producers and will have a positive impact on the Australian Dairy industry as a whole."

"We are excited to expand our relationship with Qantas, most Australians feel like they own a piece of Qantas and it will be great for Qantas Business and First Class Customers to experience Pepe Saya - Australian Cultured Butter"

Pierre Issa - Founder Pepe Saya Butter Company

The skies just got tastier my friends.

Alpha Opens Boutique Hotel in Brisbane

Alpha Hotel
Alpha Hotels & Resorts has opened its first Queensland hotel in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, with a design-savvy boutique hotel to capitalise on market growth.

Australia's newest privately-owned hotel company, Alpha Hotels & Resorts, opened the 51-room Alpha Mosaic Hotel Brisbane in Fortitude Valley, 5 minutes from the CBD. The newly-built boutique hotel, offers high design quality with both hotel rooms and two bedroom apartments.

Alpha Mosaic Hotel Brisbane is located in the heart of Fortitude Valley in a landmark 18-story mixed-use development, along with 213 residential apartments and 10 retail outlets on the corner of Church & Ann Street. The complex is part of Fortitude Valley's transformation as the new heartbeat of Brisbane, providing hotel guests with the convenience of a full-service hotel in a vibrant residential setting.

Jonathan Wooller, Founder and Managing Partner of Alpha Hotels & Resorts said, “We wanted to create a boutique concept hotel that was both design-savvy and appealing to a cross-section of fast-paced business and leisure travellers.”

“The hotel has been designed to embrace the eclectic character of Fortitude Valley, and maximise Brisbane's year-round outdoor climate with balconies off all accommodation, an open-air oasis area off the lobby, and alfresco dining,” he added.

Alpha Mosaic Hotel's sleek interiors and furnishings have been overseen by Cressida Kennedy of SpaceControlDesign who also designed Sydney's industrial-chic 1888 Hotel. Throughout the hotel there is a strong mix of materials, original bespoke pieces and vintage finds including restored arm chairs and lounges, handmade copper array lighting throughout the reception and eatery and a mosaic-tiled fireplace.

Each of the hotel rooms and apartments are complete with features focussed on comfort and convenience including plush king-sized beds, unique art, WiFi and interactive IPTV to deliver live customised on-demand content. Floor to ceiling glass doors open up to a private balcony with many offering stunning views of the Brisbane city skylin

Within the hotel, guests have easy access to extensive facilities including the Mosaic Bistro and Bar, a podium-level alfresco oasis to relax with friends or meet for business, 24 hour room service and affordable undercover security parking. Fortitude Valley's bustling retail and fashion outlets, restaurants and bars, Brisbane Showgrounds and the Royal International Convention Centre are just a short stroll away.

Alpha Mosaic Hotel Brisbane is well-located for business travellers wanting to stay close to the growing number of commercial offices spaces outside the CBD, in areas such as the Gasworks, Newstead and Showground Hill. The hotel offers easy access to both Brisbane Airport and the CBD by car, and Fortitude Valley train station is a 2 minute walk from the hotel.

Jonathan Wooller
Alpha Hotels & Resorts made its entrance into the market at the start of 2014, opening Alpha Canberra in Tuggerangong in February, followed by Alpha Hotel Eastern Creek in March.

Alpha Hotels & Resorts owns and operates the Alpha Mosaic Hotel Brisbane and the management letting rights for the 213 residential apartments. The hotel will set the benchmark for a new-build Alpha property.


Philippines-based Cebu Pacific Air will commence flying to Sydney.

The low-cost Philippine carrier has announced new services between Manila and Sydney will commence from 9 September 2014.

The new airline services would bring the two cities closer together and provide more options for those wishing to travel to NSW to visit loved ones and do business.

There are 70,000 people of Filipino heritage living in NSW and this new air link will make it easier for this community to maintain contact with loved ones in the Philippines.

Cebu Pacific Air will offer four flights each week between Manila and Sydney before expanding to five weekly services by the end of 2014.

Four Seasons Launches New Vacation Rental Website

Four Seasons just made it easier to plan the perfect getaway with the launch of its Four Seasons Vacation Rental website. Guests can now browse through some of the world's most exclusive properties and select the ideal urban residence or resort villa that provides the comforts of home, backed by the promise of uncompromised luxury and customized service that is Four Seasons.

Delivering a seamless user experience, visitors to the site can browse the collection of private luxury residences through customized searches based on region or area of interest. Users can further target their search based on the number of guests, rooms, square footage and price to find the ideal holiday home to meet their needs – whether it be a luxury residence in the heart of downtown Houston or a holiday villa nestled on the coast of the Indian Ocean in the Seychelles.

Each property page also features a comprehensive image gallery as well as a selection of a la carte services to further customize the experience – from booking a private Four Seasons chef or chauffeur to requesting a fully stocked fridge or childproofing before arrival, and everything in between.

“We're seeing a steady increase in multi-generational and small group travel – guests who want to get away with children, grandparents or groups of friends to celebrate holidays or mark special moments – and these guests are looking at residential options,” says Jose Soriano, Vice President, Worldwide Residential Operations,Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “Whether a pied-a-terre in the city or a holiday villa, our new website takes the guess work out of finding a Four Seasons vacation rental that offers the privacy, space and freedom of being at home with an ideal base from which to explore a new destination, relax or entertain – all while having full access toFour Seasons signature service and amenities to deliver every comfort and luxury.”

Four Seasons employees are at the disposal of vacation rental guests to truly create a home away from home. This is in addition to enjoying access to all the exclusive services and amenities guests have come to expect fromFour Seasons – including housekeeping, world-class spas and full service fitness facilities. Guests can personalize their stay even further by selecting from a menu of items available exclusively to Four Seasons Residential guests.

Four Seasons has been setting the benchmark in luxury travel for more than 50 years and was the first luxury hotel brand to extend the signature personalized service to the management of residences more than three decades ago. Four Seasons is now the first luxury hotel brand to launch a dedicated vacation rental website. This launch comes on the heels of the recently announced exclusive fully-customizable Four Seasons bed and the introduction of the hotel industry's first fully-branded private jet experience, making its inaugural flight in February 2015.

To learn more about Four Seasons Vacation Rentals and browse the full collection of luxury properties, visit

Banh Xeo steamed rice pancakes

Banh Xeo steamed rice pancakes is a very popular cooked dish.

Everyone knows Banh Xeo Mien Trung in Hong Bang Street as it is the most famous place for this dish in Nha Trang in Vietnam.

This shop has been open over 10 years and still doing really well.

The difference between Banh Xeo in Nha Trang and other parts of Viet Nam is the cake is round but small with seafood and beanshoots and is quite crispy.

Kalyakoorl - a journey into Noongar language

2013 WA Music Industry Awards Indigenous Act of the Year, Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse have launched their new album, Kalyakoorl.

Recorded, mixed and mastered at Crank Studios with Lee Buddle (Kelly Clarkson, Justin Bieber and Katie Noonan), the title track Kalyakoorl means 'forever' and is about custodial responsibility.

Evocative Noongar vocals inspired by personal history are performed by Gina and are perfectly complemented by talented guitarist, Guy.

For more information about Western Australian, including events, visit

Thursday, 26 June 2014


A $16 million injection of funding for Parramatta Park in 2014/15 will help create a venue that will be attractive to international artists and promoters looking to stage outdoor concerts, festivals and events in Western Sydney.

Environment Minister Rob Stokes announced $35.4 million will be allocated to Parramatta Park over the next four years as part of the 2014/15 State budget – the largest investment in the Park’s history.

This funding boost includes $9.5 million to complete upgrade works of The Crescent events space which will enable the Park to stage more open air large scale music events, accommodating up to fifteen thousand people.

A further $8.7 million will be invested in new playground and picnic facilities in The Paddocks precinct. The new facilities will include a giant slide, built in trampolines, water play area, and a unique netted play bridge suspended amongst the trees.

The work will also improve access for cyclists and pedestrians and increase car parking around the playground.

The Gardens precinct, with its newly conserved George Street Gatehouse, will receive $2 million to upgrade the heritage setting around the historic gatehouse and includes conservation of a small convict bridge.

This work will complement additional conservation projects to be undertaken on the Park’s other iconic gatehouses.

The Langham, Xintiandi Hotel hosted Nicole Kidman, Star Yang Lan, Bruno Wu at the 17th Shanghai International Film Festival

On 14 June 2014, The Langham, Xintiandi welcomed award-winning actress Nicole Kidman, Chinese media star Yang Lan and her husband media mogul Bruno Wu to stay at the hotel during their visit to Shanghai.

Nicole Kidman walked the red carpet at the opening ceremony of the 17th Shanghai International Film Festival and attended the China Premier Luncheon of her new film Grace of Monaco, along with Chinese celebrity Yang Lan at the hotel on 15 June 2014. Nicole Kidman, Yang Lan and Bruno Wu and their VIP guests enjoyed a contemporary lunch prepared by executive chef Jorg-Peter Nodler and the culinary team as key hosts together with John O'Shea, general manager of The Langham, Xintiandi, Shanghai.

The Langham, Xintiandi, Shanghai

Located in the elegant and lively Xintiandi district, the 24-storey luxury The Langham, Xintiandi is the flagship Langham property in China and features 357 elegant rooms including 23 suites with charming yet practical touches that have been a hallmark of The Langham since it was founded in 1865.

The hotel offers the signature Chinese restaurant T'ang Court, the international all-day dining restaurant Cachet, the lifestyle bar XTD elevated, the Lobby Lounge that serves the signature Langham afternoon tea, the outdoor terrace Alfresco and the Martini Bar for evening drinks.

Guests can also experience pampering treatments in Chuan Spa, the signature spa of The Langham that is based on the healing properties of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or relax in the indoor pool and 24-hour Health Club.

The Langham, Xintiandi features a modern high-ceiling grand ballroom and an additional 8 large meeting spaces that can be tailored to high-level events and meetings.