Tuesday, 31 July 2018

The Continent Hotel Bangkok - experience the peak of luxury and convenience

The Continent Hotel Bangkok
I recently had the good fortune of staying at The Continent Hotel Bangkok before I attended the Mekong Tourism Forum. The two aspects of The Continent Hotel Bangkok that I found most attractive were its convenience and the level of luxury that I experienced during my three nights stay there. It is conveniently located next to two of Bangkok's central train stations. The luxurious style and luxury of the hotel were evident in all public areas as well as my guest room.

The Continent Hotel Bangkok is a leading 5-star hotel that is only about 5 years young so everything is fresh and just like new. There are 153 guest rooms that are expertly designed according to four main themes – Ocean, Forest, Desert and Space. There is a choice of several room types - Deluxe, Premier, Executive, Continent and Stay Connected rooms. There is a choice of non-smoking or smoking rooms, and a choice of king-sized, queen-sized, or twin beds. The wide variety of choices means that there is something for everyone.

For a more luxurious experience, I chose an Executive room on one of the higher Sky at the Continent floors. This gave panoramic views down over Bangkok’s stunning views. The day and night time views were amazing.

The Continent Hotel Bangkok
I was impressed with my rooms chic and modern décor that had everything and more that I could wish for. My large king sized bed and selection of pillows were very cosy to sleep on ant night. I enjoyed local and international stations on the large TV, and used the complimentary internet Wifi service in the room when sitting on the sofa. A work desk provided space for the small amount of work I did there.

The adjacent bathroom had a large vanity and mirror and had a wonderful shower set up. Gorgeous amenities and fluffy bath towels were supplied

My upgraded Sky at The Continent room gave me access to many extra benefits, such as VIP check-in, complimentary daily international buffet at Medinii restaurant or a Continental Breakfast at Axis&Spin, Sky Lounge and Bar, and a complimentary premium-in-lounge bar service with premium drinks and snacks from 5pm – 7pm at the Axis & Spin. There was also a complimentary mini-bar, a daily fruit basket and unlimited soft drinks at all the hotel restaurants and bars. Also complimentary were 2 pieces per day laundry service, digital newspapers and magazines and local phone calls.

The Continent Hotel Bangkok
What I really like about The Continent Hotel Bangkok was the range and quality of the dining experiences available. The fine dining fare was both tasty and award-winning. 

I enjoyed my Thai meal at Bangkok Heightz located on the 39th floor of the hotel. This offers authentic Thai cuisine in a  trendy nightlife setting.

For a change from Thai dining, I enjoyed my Italian meal at the Medinii restaurant. This offers the finest Italian fare in an intimate and romantic setting on the 35th floor of the hotel. This restaurant also offers a Sky Dining concept (soup, salad, unlimited beverages plus unlimited pasta and pizza along with one main dish and one dessert).

Axis & Spin, Sky Lounge and Bar is The Continent’s premier boutique lifestyle sky bar. Located on the 38th floor of the hotel with panoramic views over Bangkok.

The Continent Hotel Bangkok
The H2O pool bar is next to the swimming pool on the 37th floor and is the ideal spot for sipping fruity cocktails while relaxing outdoors.

The Compass Lounge offers all-day light snacks as well as a luxurious afternoon tea.

In another article, I will give more detail od the meals I enjoyed at the hotels various dining venues.

As mentioned before, I found the location of The Continent Hotel Bangkok ideal. It is right next to Asok BTS Skytrain station and the underground Sukhumvit MRT subway station. This makes arriving at the hotel from the airport very easy, and travel to other parts of Bangkok just as easy. 

The Continent Hotel Bangkok is located on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok's major thoroughfare that offers the best dining, nightlife, entertainment and shopping experiences Bangkok has to offer. Along this road are many boutique shops and large shopping malls. The impressive Terminal 21 Mall is just across the street, and The Emporium Bangkok and the recently-opened EmQuartier are nearby.

The Continent Hotel Bangkok is a wonderful place for both the business and the leisure traveller to experience convenience and luxury in Bangkok. Check out their website for special promotions and offers, such as free Sky Room upgrades and free luxury airport transfers.

The Continent Hotel Bangkok

The Continent Hotel Bangkok

413 Sukhumvit Road
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Phone +66 2 686 7000
Fax: +66 2 686 7007
WhatsApp: +66 97 235 8803
LINE: @thecontinenthotel

Ctrip - China’s biggest online travel agent

Ctrip was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Shanghai, with branch offices in 17 other major cities and over 30,000 employees throughout China.

Ctrip provides a full range of travel services to more than 300 million members through the model of combining online internet with traditional travel services.  80% of these are high-end business customers. Ctrip is the largest hotel distribution platform and the largest OTA in China. Ctrip ranks NO.1 in group tour, fit package, domestic travel, overseas travel, cruise and other subordinate segments.

Edison Chen

Edison Chen
Edison Chen is the International Regional General Manager of Ctrip Group Destination Marketing. He is responsible for business cooperation with global governments and tourism bureaus, helping promote travel destination around the world to increase their awareness and number of visitors.

Edison Chen has more than ten years' experience in travel industry. Edison holds Master of Business Administration (MBA) from University of South Australia. 


Monday, 30 July 2018


The Thailand Department of Tourism of Thailand recently held an awards ceremony for short film competition in Thailand International Film Destination Festival 2018 (TIFDF2018) with great success. A number of short films presented beautiful destinations around Thailand by foreign and Thai young competitors on July 17at KBank Siam Pic-Ganesha Center of Performing Art located on the 8th Floor of Siam Square One. In this occasion, many distinguished international and Thai actors and directors joined the event, including Wes Chatham, actor from The Hunger Games, Escape Plane 2; Justin Diemen, a producer of Before the Fall, Batoor, The Eco-Warriors; Jonah Greenberg, American producer of Jade Warrior, One Last Dance;Dimitri Logothetis, director and screenwriter of Kickboxer 1-2, Pompeii, Suicide Squad, Warcraft, X-Men: Apocalypse; Pu Vithaya and Pu Sahajak, famous Thai actors known internationally; and many more Thai actors and actress, such as Kao Jirayu, Sarah Nalin, Kam The Star, Tor Saksit, Q Flure, Toom Tam The Star and Nui Ketsirin.

Mr Anan Wongbenjarat, Director General of the Department of Tourism said: “Since 2013, Department of Tourism has been organizing Thailand International Film Destination Festival to promote our potential in filming industry and readiness in filming service which is aimed to invite international filming productions to come to Thailand, including, to promote Thai culture, tradition and locations to attract tourists from around the world to experience the beauty of Thailand.

Now the 6th Thailand International Film Destination Festival 2018 (TIFDF2018), under the concept Colorful Thailand – A True Sense of Thailand’s Film Destinations, has come to the closing ceremony. This year’s festival has been created with a strategic aim to make connections among international personnel in the film industry, giving opportunities to competitors to have hands-on experience in filming in Thailand and work as a team with Thai crews, which can develop to be a working network in the future. We received a great feedback from film students around the world with 277 teams applied for the short film competition. 24 teams were selected to the final round, such as England, Bulgaria, Portugal, Brazil, India, The Philippines, Singapore. These teams were assigned to shoot their short films in 8 tourism locations around the country under the concept ‘Thai Style’to present the colorful beauty of Thailand in different location, including nature, charming culture, local identity, through the competitors’ interpretation. There were also 15 Thai student teams, selected from 36 teams, assigned to shoot under the concept ‘Sufficiency Economy‘ in any provinces in Thailand.

“Thailand on Screen is another well-received activity from Thai people every year by free screening 7 foreign movies shot in Thailand at Paragon Cineplex, Siam Paragon, between July 11-15. These 7 famous films, Kickboxer: Vengeance, Largo Winch II, Lupin the 3rd, The 101-Year-Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared, Kickboxer: Retaliation, Will You Be There? and ALL I SEE IS YOU, have also attracted a lot of tourists to follow to the beautiful filming locations in Thailand.

Read full article at eTurboNews: https://www.eturbonews.com/228573/thailand-short-film-competition-and-tourism-the-final-results



As the sun sets over Commonwealth Park, Floriade will come alive as NightFest returns in 2018 with five nights of entertainment, food, and more.

Beautified and bejewelled by the expert team at Mandy Lights, Commonwealth Park will shine to light with sparkling sound and light displays in 2018.

The illuminated installations add an after-dark magic to Floriade, encouraging visitors to discover the weird and the wonderful in a nocturnal playground.

26 - 30 SEPTEMBER 2018

Check the Floriade website for details.

Dak Nong to hold the first Viet Nam Brocade Culture Festival 2018

From December 27 – 30, 2018, the first Viet Nam Brocade Culture Festival will be held in Gia Nghia Town, Dak Nong Province to celebrate the 15th founding anniversary of the central highlands’ province (Jan 1, 2004 – 2019).

The festival aims to preserve and promote cultural values, traditional costumes of ethnic people in Dak Nong in particular and Viet Nam in general, and to introduce tourism potentials and cultural heritage values in Dak Nong Province. It will be also an opportunity for ethnic people across the country to exchange experiences and strengthen solidarity, national pride.

The opening ceremony themed “Viet Nam Brocade converges and shines in five continents” will take place at 8.00pm on December 27 with a unique art performance representing history of formation and development of Viet Nam, and promoting brocade culture. The festival will last till December 30.

During the festival, a variety of activities will be organized such as street festival, gastronomy space, brocade fashion show, international balloon festival, seminar on brocade culture of Viet Nam’s ethnic people, etc.

Currently, there are over 40 ethnic groups living in the central highland province of Dak Nong who still use traditional brocade clothes. The brocade weaving featuring cultural identity of the central highlands provinces’ people, has been one of traditional crafts for a long time and needs to be preserved.


From the dark and mysterious, to the downright fun and profoundly beautiful, the 13th annual Sydney Latin American Film Festival (SLAFF) is back this September (6—15). Returning to the Dendy Opera Quays, Addison Road Picture House and PYT Fairfield, the Festival will screen a specially curated program of contemporary Latin American cinema: nine feature films, one documentary and a shorts package, along with vibrant opening and closing night parties, over nine festive days.

From side-splitting comedies, to touching true-stories and dark fantasies, the 2018 program features an array of films that shine a light on social justice and aims to highlight the immense talent coming from Latin America.
“This year’s program is a true testament to the talent and range of contemporary Latin American filmmakers. We’re bringing in films from Chile, Cuba, UruguayPeruPanamaBrazilVenezuelaArgentinaColombia and Mexico—so there’s a real breadth of films on offer,” saidFestival Programmer, Gisselle Gallego.

“In what could be considered a sign of the times, many of this year’s films explore the inequalities faced in Latin American and aim to stimulate conversation around the need for social change. We’re also extremely happy to be presenting a line-up where the majority of films were made by female directors or producers,” she said.

The Festival opens with the Australian premiere of Spider Thieves. Based off a true story, the film follows a group of teenage girls who, after breaking into wealthy apartments and stealing a few luxuries, are thrust into the public spotlight as the “Niñas Araña”, making them media sensations.

The Opening Night Fiesta will kick on after the film screening at the ever-trendy Café del Mar. Overlooking Sydney’s glistening waterfront, guests will be entertained by the Latino king of spin DJ Willie Sabor and friends. Get set for a night of great film, live music, percussions, food and drink!

Retablo is a masterful coming-of-age story that follows 14-year-old Segundo as he is groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps in the traditional folk art of retablo-making, which he soon discovers is embedded with the reality of his deeply religious and conservative upbringing in Peru. The film explores the weight of heritage, the boundaries of love, and the burdens of family expectations.

As the first Venezuelan film to be part of the Cannes Critics’ Week competition, La Familia is an urgent look at life in Caracas through the eyes of a single father. After he flees the city with his son, their shaky bond is tested as he tries to protect his headstrong son from falling into a life of absolute hopelessness.

Melbourne film graduate, Laura Mora’s Killing Jesus is a real-life revenge drama set in MedellínThe film follows 22-year-old Paula as the sole witness of her father’s assassination. After spotting the murderer at a party, she deftly befriends him to exact vengeance. But as time goes on, she realizes Jesus is just as much a victim of their violent society as she is.

On a lighter note, Get the Weed is a hilarious mockumentary following President José (Pepe) Muijca as he orders a secret mission to find fifty tonnes of cannabis to supply Uruguay with after its legalization. A brownie-making pharmacist is enlisted to travel to the USA as the head of the fake Uruguayan Chamber of Legal Marijuana.

Based on the bestselling suspenseful thriller novel of the same name, A Crack in the Wall, follows the beautiful Leonor who enters the office of Buenos Aires architect Pablo, seeking the firm’s ex-client Nelson Jara. Her arrival starts to unravel a secret long thought buried. A Crack in the Wallwill be accompanied by pre-screening drinks and food.

In this family feature—based on the bestselling novel—Home Teama 13-year old small-town soccer prodigy gets the chance of his life to follow his dreams and get his humble family out of poverty.

Tigers Are Not Afraid is a haunting film that tells the story of Estrella, an 11-year-old whose mother suddenly disappears. Left alone with no one to care for her, young Estrella ends up on the street and joins a gang of children, triggering a dangerous and tragic chain of events. Guillermo Del Torro and Stephen King have both heaped praise on Director Issa Lopez for this enchanting feature.  This is the third feature from Mexican filmmaker Issa Lopez.

The animated comedy, Underdogs, centres on a shy but talented foosball player who must defend his town and the girl he loves, Laura from the nefarious soccer player and town bully. He's aided by the figures on his foosball table, who magically come to life. The film will be screened atAddison Road Picture House and accompanied by a fun-filled special event that includes games of street fútbol, traditional food, and much more.

In Liquid Truth, a charismatic and popular swimming coach, Ruben, is accused of inappropriate affection toward one of his students by a parent, without evidence. Ruben’s reputation and career unravels. His guilt or innocence is unknown, and impossible to determine, but the consequences of the allegations are all too real in this tense drama.

New Female Voices is a collection of diverse and whimsical short films from Latin American female directors, showcasing wonderful slices of life. From documentaries, animations, comedies to dramas, these short films herald an exciting future for Latin American cinema that isn’t to be missed.

SLAFF's inaugural Youth Jury will judge the short film competition New Female Voices, awarding the winner a cash prize. The Youth jury is comprised of a diverse group of young filmmaking students from across Sydney. 

Closing the festival is the documentary-feature, Ruben Blades Is Not My Name. The film follows Latin American icon Ruben Blades. Blades, a Grammy winner, actor, lawyer and Panama Presidential Candidate, burst onto the New York salsa scene in the 1970’s and quickly became a much loved figure. With unprecedented access, this documentary reveals a soft-spoken rebel, and a living legend struggling to come to terms with his legacy. The screening is accompanied with drinks and a special performance by Oscar Gonzalez and friends.

Three wonderful shorts will screen before some of the festival’s feature films. Méndigo Ruido will play with Liquid TruthAlteridad+ with La Familia; and Samburu Moran will screen before Get the Weed.

Liquid TruthRetabloLa Familia, Tigers Are Not Afraid and Killing Jesus will all be competing for the Jury Award for Best Feature Film. Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at Western Sydney University Anne Rutherford, SBS World Movies Programmer John Paul Murray and the Marketing Manager at Panavision Australia Nicolas Godoy will announce the winner on closing night, awarding a cash prize presented by theSydney Latin American Film Festival.

The 13th Sydney Latin American Film Festival will take place at the Dendy Opera QuaysAddison Road Picture House and PYT Fairfieldfrom Thursday 6 September – Saturday 15 September 2018, screening the very best award-winning Latin American cinema.

Stay up to date with the Sydney Latin American Film Festival (SLAFF)
What:     13th Sydney Latin American Film Festival
Where:   Dendy Opera Quays, Sydney
               Addison Road Picture House, Sydney
               PYT Fairfield  

When:    Thursday 6 September – Saturday 15 September 2018

Dendy Opera Quays –
Adult: $19.90 & Concession: $17
$50 Full Price Opening Night + Drink & Bite + Fiesta – Conc. $45
$30 Full Price Closing Night + Drink on Arrival + Live Performance – Conc. $27
$25 Full Price A Crack In the Wall Screening + Drink + Bite – Conc. $22

Addison Road Picture House –
Film, Futbol, Fun: $10 / New Female Voices: $12 / Get the Weed: $15

PYT Fairfield—
Adult: $17 & Concession: $15
$51 Flexipass-3* (excludes opening and closing fiesta)

Thursday 6 September        6:15pm                 Spider Thieves
Friday 7 September            7pm                      Liquid Truth (+ Méndigo Ruido)
Friday 7 September            9pm                      Retablo
Saturday 8 September        11am                    Film, Fun & Fútbol!
Saturday 8 September        6:30pm                 La Familia (+ Alteridad+)
Saturday 8 September        7pm                      Killing Jesus
Saturday 8 September        9pm                      Tigers Are Not Afraid
Sunday 9 September          6pm                      Home Team
Sunday 9 September          8pm                      A Crack in the Wall
Tuesday 11 September       6:30pm                 New Female Voices

Tuesday 11 September       8:30pm                 Get the Weed (+ Samburu Moran)
Wednesday 12 September  6:45pm                  Ruben Blades Is Not My Name
Saturday 15 September      6pm                      Home Team
Saturday 15 September      8:30pm                 Spider Thieves    

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12-13 September 2018

Whitehaven Beach nominated in national search for '7 Wonders of Australia

Whitehaven Beach
Whitehaven Beach has been nominated in a nation-wide voting initiative to determine the ‘7 Wonders of Australia’, with tens of thousands of Aussies expected to vote in what is set to be Australia’s largest-ever online travel poll.

Stretching for an impressive 7km along a horseshoe-shaped stretch of the island’s eastern shore, Whitehaven Beach has long been a posterchild of the state’s tourism collateral due to its breath taking contrasting colours.

While numerous lists and rankings for Australia’s most iconic sites have been made by individuals in the past, an Australian travel company is turning to crowdsourcing of the Australian public to vote as a nation to determine what our country’s greatest wonders are.

Led by the country’s largest online marketplace for travel experiences, Experience Oz, the ‘7 Wonders of Australia’ campaign asks Australians of voting age to select from a shortlist of 50 iconic Australian natural sites, landmarks and architectural icons submitted by state and regional tourism organisations from across the country.

In what will be the first domestic campaign of its kind and anticipated to be the largest in the country, the poll aims to reinforce Australia’s majestic sites as some of the best on the planet, encourage domestic travellers to explore the best of their backyard, and highlight conservation and environmental issues in a bid to encourage people to contribute to help preserve them.

Over the next three months, Aussies will have the opportunity to make history and vote for the ‘7 Wonders of Australia’, with nominees including the Blue Mountains, the Great Barrier Reef, Port Arthur Historic Site, Wave Rock, Fraser Island, Sydney Opera House, Uluru, the Shrine of Remembrance and more.

Tourism Whitsundays General Manager Natassia Wheeler said Whitehaven Beach is a common contender for one of the best beaches in the country and across the globe.

“Whitehaven Beach is regularly recognised as being one of the top beaches in Australia and the world, so it is fitting that this 7km stretch of silica has been nominated in the national search for the ‘7 Wonders of Australia’ campaign,” Ms Wheeler said.

“Whitehaven Beach offers a holiday for everyone, whether you are visiting just for the day, camping overnight or enjoying it whilst on your very own bareboating experience.”

With a number of nationwide and international organisations collaborating on the campaign in a quest to promote the ‘7 Wonders of the Australia’ and also engage conservation efforts, the once-off campaign is receiving significant support.

Once public voting closes in October, a shortlist of 20 Finalists from the top-voted nominees will be vetted by a reputable and expert panel of judges from throughout Australia’s tourism, conservation and non-for-profit sectors, who will deliberate and officially announce the ‘7 Wonders of Australia’ to the world.

The judging panel includes representation from some of Australia’s leading tourism and conservation organisations including Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife Fund (WWF), Great Barrier Reef Foundation, The Wilderness Society, RACQ, TicketMates and Experience Oz.

Experience Oz Marketing Manager Matt Hobbs said the campaign was designed to provide the fairest possible perspective on such a list of sites, while also shedding light on the importance of domestic travel and conservation of our wonders.

“People have been making lists of the top icons of Australia for years, but they have always come from the - often biased - perspective of one writer. We now live in the age of crowdsourcing and, given we work with thousands of tourism experience businesses across the country and collaborate with tourism organisations in each state, our distribution network allows us to get a massive sample size of Aussies’ opinions,” Mr Hobbs said.

“We’re asking people to weigh in based on a number of criteria such as desirability as a travel spot, natural and historic value, beauty and a number of other factors that make Australia’s sites and their experiences so amazing.

“We are thrilled to see Whitehaven Beach has been nominated as a contender for one of the ‘7 Wonders of Australia’ and we encourage everyone to have their say and get involved in championing what they believe are the greatest wonders.”

The wonders will be selected based on a comprehensive criterion, which considers the level of recognition, natural, architectural or cultural value, desirability and aspiration, rarity and uniqueness and tourism value of the wonder.

With threats to animal habitats, to environmental issues, to the impacts of fires and weather effects taking a toll on the greatest Wonder nominees, conservation will remain a big focus for the campaign. Experience Oz has partnered with a host of reputable organisations in an effort to drive donations and conservation efforts.

Whitehaven Beach
Public voting is now open and closes Sunday 7 October 2018, before the top 20 most-voted nominees are deliberated on by a panel of experts that will announce the top 7 Wonders of Australia in November 2018. Voters must be Australian residents of voting age.

Participants in the poll will have the opportunity to win one of seven complimentary prize packages to visit the 7 Wonders of Australia in person.

For more information or to vote, click [experienceoz.com.au/7Wonders]here or SMS WHITEHAVEN to 19 719 777.

JAL Launches Web-Based Dynamic Package Reservation System in Australia

JAL Group subsidiary, JALPAK Co., Ltd., announced the launch of a web-based dynamic package reservation system for customers in Australia. Following the launch of this service in 2017 for the Thai market, the carrier will now offer air + hotel packaged deals on itineraries from Australia to Japan.

In recent years, visitors from Australia have traveled to Japan for business and leisure, but with the 2019 Rugby World CupTM around the corner and travel demand expected to increase, the carrier decided to launch this service to support travelers who are planning to visit the country of Japan.

The web-based service will provide options to travel on JAL`s international flights between Sydney=Narita and Melbourne=Narita, including the ability to combine Japan domestic flights and a hotel stay in a single transaction. Through JAL`s vast network in Japan and a plethora of hotel options to choose from, customers will be able to select their itinerary of choice with ease.

The JAL Group will continue to embrace new challenges to deliver greater customer convenience, enhance its networks, and improve the quality of its products and services.

  • Ability to create itineraries utilizing JAL`s international flights (Sydney=Narita, Melbourne=Narita) with approximately 5,000 hotels in Japan
  • Package includes built-in travel insurance so customers can travel stress-free
  • 24 hour reservation support desk offered by JALPAK


Image credit: ARIA/Sam McDonald
The NSW Government has secured the ARIA Awards and ARIA Week exclusively for Sydney until 2020.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events Adam Marshall said, “Broadcast nationally and into Asia, the ARIA Awards and ARIA Week showcase our Harbour City and its world class performance venues at their best, helping to attract visitors from across Australia and the world.

“These iconic events will provide a significant boost to the State’s visitor economy while cementing Sydney’s reputation as the nation’s music capital and a leading creative services hub in the Asia Pacific.”

ARIA Chief Executive Officer Dan Rosen said, “The ARIA Awards and ARIA Week have become a global event and a great reflection of how our Aussie artists are conquering the world. We look forward to continuing to work with the NSW Government to further cement the ARIAs on the international music calendar."

The 2018 ARIA Awards will be held on 28 November in Sydney and broadcast live on Nine. Visit www.ariaawards.com.au for more information.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok - the ideally located new boutique hotel in Bangkok

akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok - reception
I recently flew to Thailand to attend the Mekong Tourism Forum. I arrived in Bangkok several days prior to the commencement of the Forum and was fortunate to stay three nights at the akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok.

This is a stylish new luxury boutique five-star hotel that has just recently opened. It was nice to stay somewhere with brand new floor and window coverings, furniture, and furnishings. It is evident that the design of the new hotel has been carefully thought out, as there is a skilful blend of modern Thai art and culture with contemporary design and hospitality.

The akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok has only 50 rooms & suites in it, so is large enough to offer plenty of services but small enough to offer friendly personalised service. The rooms and suites range in size from 30-60 square metres of private comfort and space. There are several different rooms to choose from when booking - Superior, Premier, Family, Junior Suite and One Bedroom Suite.

I travelled from the Airport by the Airport Rail Link and MRT train. The akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok was only a short walk from the Sukhumvit MRT Station. My checkin at the ground floor lobby was friendly and efficient.

akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok - fruit bowl
After a welcome drink, I was taken to my Suite on the 8th floor and entered it using my secure key-card. The friendly staff person kindly explained all the features of the Suite. I was pleased to notice on the coffee table a welcome note from the Manager and a welcome fruit platter and a selection of handcrafted Thai sweets. Yum.

I was most impressed with the stylish decor of my One Bedroom Suite. The simple lines of the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchenette were very pleasing to my eyes. The modern design makes good use of natural materials such as timber that give the Suite a homely feel.

I appreciated the roominess of the 55 square metres of space with its separate living area to the bedroom. This had comfortable seating, decorative lamps, coffee tables and a wall mounted TV.

I found it convenient to use the complimentary high-speed Internet access and the personal digital safe. Also provided was an IDD telephone and voice mail, torchlight and fire extinguisher.

The kitchenette had coffee and tea making facilities, including a coffee capsule machine so that I could make my perfect cup of coffee. Complimentary bottled water was also provided.

akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok - bedroom
I had a wonderful nights sleep on the oversized king bed with its comfortable mattress. I found the pillows on the bed to be just right for me, so I did not make use of the pillow menu that offered a choice of other pillows. By the bed was a bluetooth alarm clock.

I particularly enjoyed the floor-to-ceiling glass doors that slid open from the bedroom onto a spacious balcony so that I could enjoy the surrounding cityscape views.

On one wall of the bedroom was a 43” LCD televisions with local and cable channels. I could have made use of a home theatre system with DVD player if I spent less time watching TV and being on my laptop. In the bedroom there was also an executive writing table and stationery set.

The large ensuite marble bathroom had a rain shower over a large bathtub, vanity basin with amenities, and a toilet. The water pressure was good and the water from the hot water taps hot. Fluffy large towels, a bathrobe, slippers and hairdryer were provided for my use.

With everyones increased awareness of the environment, it is good to note that the akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok is eco-friendly by being a a single-use plastic free hotel. They do not use any single-use plastic in its rooms or food and beverage outlets. They use biodegradable plastic and specially designed amenities done with rice and bamboo material. They use glass bottles and containers, with a commitment to use no single-use plastic in their restaurants or bars. Self-service drinking water is conveniently dispensed on every floor to make drinking bottle refills easy anytime during hotel guests stays. Bathroom amenities are presented in locally manufactured “celadon” pottery containers filled with essential oil-based products. Bio-degradable bin bags are used in all rooms and shopping bags are available to encourage guests to refuse plastic bags when shopping.

There are three dining at the akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok. 

akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok
Siam Soul Café All-Day-Dining Restaurant
Firstly, there is the Siam Soul Café All-Day-Dining Restaurant located on the ground floor. The decor of the Restaurant is beautiful with its abundant use of Thai textures of timber, classic marble, modern steel and monochromatic tones. Thai and International cuisine are offered morning, noon and night from 6am – 10:30pm for in-house guests and outside visitors. Meals can be enjoyed inside, outside on the patio, or at the casual bar counter.

Each morning I enjoyed my breakfast at the Siam Soul Cafe. Breakfast offered both Thai and Western food options in a combination of buffet selections and two choices from a menu. I found this concept of selecting from the menu and from the buffet a good way to eat a varied breakfast each day without overeating.

Secondly. the Rise Rooftop Bar offers craft beers, creative cocktails and hand-selected wines and a The bar menu includes a selection of Thai-inspired savoury bar snacks, BBQ grilled and smoked dishes and more substantial fare. It is the ultimate Soi 20 Rooftop Bar Retreat, with an ingenious retractable roof that can be opened or closed in differing weather conditions. This stylish urban rooftop space on the 9th floor is open from 4pm – 1am for in-house guests and outside visitors.

Thirdly, for guests there is 24 Hour In Room Dining Service that offers dishes form around the world.

The akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok is conveniently located at the epicentre of Bangkok - Sukhumvit Soi 20. The hotel is located just off the main Sukhumvit Road with its BTS Skytrain and array of world-class restaurants, cocktail bars and quality spas. This is Bangkok's most popular area for local residents and tourists to frequent, with its many lifestyle shopping malls, dining options, nightlife and green recreation spaces. The hotel is close to the internationally themed Terminal 21 Mall and the high-end The Emporium and The EmQuartier Malls.

The hotel is conveniently located within a 10-minute walk to the Asok and Phrom Phong BTS Stations and the Sukhumvit MRT Station. This makes travelling to Bangkoks many other attraction easy. I found the akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok staff to be friendly and knowledgeable with information about what to do and see in Bangkok, and with directions of how to get there.
akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok
Siam Soul Café All-Day-Dining Restaurant
The akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok offers a selection of packages designed to help guests enjoy their stay in Bangkok. Some of the packages on offer at the moment include the Family Fun, Discover Thailand, Treasure Hunt Bangkok, and Discover Bangkok Hidden Heritage Packages.

I found the brand new akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok to offer all that I could ever want in the way of luxurious comforts.

The brand new akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok is the ideally located boutique hotel for all independent solo travellers, couples, small group of friends, honeymooners, business travellers, adventure seekers or gourmet foodies when they are visiting Bangkok. The akyra TAS Sukhumvit luxury hotel rooms and suites offer residential comforts complemented with five-star services. All will enjoy their stay at the akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok.

akyra TAS Sukhumvit Bangkok

7 Sukhumvit 20, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey, Bangkok 10110 Thailand
Telephone : +66 (0) 2 260 0555
Fax : +66 (0) 2 539 4373
Email : rsvn.ak20@theakyra.com
Email : hm.ak20@theakyra.com

Wat Phra That Phanom - one of the most highly revered temples in Thailand

Wat Phra That Phanom
The Wat Phra That Phanom is the sacred walled compound precinct of the Phra That Phanom chedi (or Buddhist stupa). 

It is located about 600 meters west of the Mekong River in the That Phanom district in the southern part of Nakhon Phanom Province in northeastern Thailand.

It was originally built in the 16th century by the Laotian King Setthathirath of Lan Xang. Local people believe in it was built by Monk Maha Kassapa, a chief disciple of Buddha, to enshrine the Buddha's breastbone relics 8 years after Buddha's Nirvana.

It was first constructed as a square brick structure with intricate carvings reminiscent of the Cham or ancient Khmer style sanctuary. This was further added to, embellished, and restored over thousands of years by different groups of devoted people from both sides of the Mekong River.

It fell down in 1975 during a week of heavy rain. Scientific tests were undertaken and found that the innermost brick chamber at the ground level of the Stupa was built about AD 7- 8.

Among the debris of bricks a big bronze casket was found. Inside it was a multi-layered set of gold cases containing and protecting the sacred Relics.

Wat Phra That Phanom
The Wat Phra That Phanom was rebuilt from 1975 to 1979 with money from the government and from donations from the public. They used as much as possible of the original material, strengthened its base, and symbolic ornaments were made by arts and crafts experts. The restoration was a team effort involving the co-operation of advisors, experts, technicians, artisans, craftsman and volunteers

The 57 meters high Laotian style chedi can be seen from far away as the temple is approached. It is painted in white and decorated with gold ornaments. The top of the chedi contains 110 kilos of real gold. It looks beautiful when lit up at night. The base of the chedi is decorated with reliefs showing scenes from Brahman mythology.

Wat Phra That Phanom
There are several more structures on the temple complex, including an ubosot (ordination hall) and a number of small, medium and large Buddha statues in several postures & positions. A big Thai gong can be seen nearby. Near the northwest corner of the outer wall is a large elaborate bell tower. The inside of the outer wall is covered and lined with Buddha images in a variety of poses.

Wat Phra That Phanom
A festival is held every year to honour the temple. Thousands of people make pilgrimages during this week-long festival to honour the shrine.

The Wat Phra That Phanom continues to serve as a centre of spiritual inspiration for the promotion of harmony and peace among the people in the region.

Wat Phra That Phanom

Admission: free
Open: daily during daylight hours
Phone: +66 42 540 150
Email: watthat.com@hotmail.com
Address: 183/13 Chayangkun Rd, Tambon That Phanom, Amphoe That Phanom, Chang Wat Nakhon Phanom 48110, Thailand

Khiri Travel - Shares People's Passion for Discovery

Anurak Community Lodge, Khao Sok, Thailand
Leading Change....it starts with each one of us as individuals. If we all make a small effort to make things better in our immediate surroundings everything would be better for everyone. Gili Back is so proud to now be working for a company that does all that and much more....

Khiri Travel 

They really focus on responsible and sustainable travel through the golden lands of Angkor and Bagan, of Bangkok and Vientiane. For centuries, Southeast Asian names alone have induced an irresistible romance amongst the susceptible: Saigon, Mandalay, Phnom Penh, Rangoon, the mighty meandering Mekong.

Khiri Travel was founded in 1993 by Willem Niemeijer and is Asia's leading destination management company for tour operators seeking to provide their clients with quality, authentic, and sustainable experiences. 

Their mission is to the provide the most innovative and sustainable travel experiences and champion the people, culture, and natural sites in their destinations. They share a love for travel, love for the region and love for its people. They treat their staff as family and their clients as friends in order to build long-term relationships. They share their local expertise with a global mindset so they can understand each customer's needs. They are always seeking challenges so they can forge new trails and break away from the pack.

Amazing Inle Lake Resort, Inle Lake, Myanmar
Khiri Travel now has offices and specialist teams in Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos). A dedicated sales office in the USA bridges the time zones and makes personal contact easier for North American partners.

For almost 25 years Khiri Travel has developed business in a sustainable manner and maximized the positive effects of tourism, with minimal negative social, environmental and economic impacts. They strongly advocate that sustainability should be mainstream and not a niche market and these principles are at the core of their product development and operations. They position these practices of social and environmental sustainability throughout their supply chain. 

Khiri Travel prides itself in authentic connections, adaptability, and innovation and offers intimate, personalized travel experiences. Khiri caters to any desire at any budget, from Family Travel and Regional Highlights to Community-based Tourism and Discovery Excursions (and everything in between).

Riverboat Cruises, Kalimantan, Indonesia
As a trusted destination management company (DMC) Khiri Travel are always looking at new ways to lead the change in responsible tourism. In addition to creating new innovative excursions in little-known destinations, Khiri are developing cross border land packages to engage their customers and take them on new adventures that benefit local villages and nature reserves whilst proving that sustainable travel can still be luxurious and comfortable.

Khiri Travel Thailand is the 1st company to have passed their 2nd audit certification for Travelife at this point. Due to their knowledge and high standards, they have been working closely with Travelife, PATA, WAP, Global Spirit and other tour operators to create previously non-existent guidelines and criteria for captive elephant camps in Thailand. This has been a long process, but a much-needed one and now the auditing of the first 20 camps is in process. These will set the standards for the rest of Asia and the world to ensure the welfare of elephants and the mahouts that work with them, whilst presenting scientific facts, new techniques and best practices to visitors and lobbyists to set their minds at ease. 

Khiri’s vision of “Sharing our Passion for Discovery” encompasses the company’s collective inspiration, outlook, and culture. While the customer is central in their organization, it is their staff that leads the company on its mission to be the leading brand in quality tourism in Asia.

Khiri Reach

Khiri Reach is our charity organization to help disadvantaged people through community development, conservation, environment and empowerment projects. They establish people and planet programs in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia with more coming in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, focusing on educating and working directly with people in rural areas and city zones. 

Villa Ni Say, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Khiri Reach supports and creates both ‘People’ and ‘Planet’ projects in 8 countries around South East Asia. Khiri Reach is a registered charity, and is dedicated to creating people and planet projects with 100% of all funds raised or donating going into the programs they develop with Khiri Travel covering all overheads and providing staff, which are allocated 5 working paid ‘volunteer’ days each year to fulfill the manpower needs of the projects they implement.

‘People’ projects aim to help disadvantaged sections of society in all the countries we operate in, across Asia, and support communities to improve their living conditions in a sustainable way - from building water wells to providing ways for people with disabilities to earn an income through sustainable industry. 

The threat of destruction of natural resources across Asia is a real concern, and therefore conservation and an environmentally friendly approach is a key feature of the ‘Planet’ projects that they support. Besides supporting individual projects, Khiri Reach also supports broader causes, from efforts to offset carbon emissions by planting trees through to programs that aim to raise literacy levels. Ongoing support is also given to the Operation Smile Foundation, which provides free surgery for children with facial deformities. Many more exciting new initiatives coming soon.....

Gili Back

Gili Back
Gili has taken on two important roles in tourism. She is the Sustainability Manager for Khiri Travel and Executive Director at Khiri Reach. She is based in Bangkok Metropolitan Area, Thailand

South African born mother of 2, Gili has made her way across various countries including Israel and England before settling in Thailand 15 years ago.

With a varied background including many years in F&B, scuba diving, environmental conservation, fundraising for charities and an assortment of music, festivals and corporate events, she joined Khiri Travel with the intention of bringing a fresh perspective and lots of new energy to her positions.

From a young age she has had a real passion for conservation and a strong belief in ‘Leading Change’ – it starts with YOU!

Her personal belief is that it is peoples responsibility to start with small, simple everyday actions that eventually become 2nd nature, making it easy to add another level as they progress forward and upwards.

"If each person makes a minor effort to improve their immediate surroundings everything would be better for everyone. Hence, sustainability must start with us; both as individuals and as accountable companies of any size, rather than only expecting governments to instrument the changes that we see are called for daily."

Le Grand Pakbeng, Laos
"By working closely together with the communities we live in and the places we visit, we can set up schemes that motivate and inspire, whilst demonstrating that there are alternative ways to provide income, security and local job prospects. It is imperative to do so in a manner that has long-term foresight but that can begin today, as this is the only maintainable possibility if we wish to protect and save our planet and oceans and all life both on it and in it."

"This also helps others see the benefits of implementing smart changes and that Environmental Economics really do work, through knowledge, conservation, equal opportunity and social development. Hence, I am so proud to now be working for a company that does all that and much more…."

Khiri’s vision of “Sharing our Passion for Discovery” encompasses the company’s collective inspiration, outlook, and culture, whilst being a big supporter of people and planet ventures through its dedicated Khiri Reach non-profit arm.

Khiri Travel

Website: http://khiri.com
Headquarters: Bangkasor Muang, Nonthaburi, Thailand

Saturday, 28 July 2018


Image Credit: Camera Creations
Don’t miss the chance for your achievements to be recognised. Nominations for the prestigious Luxperience Awards are due by Monday 30 July 2018.

There are three major awards categories, open to buyers and exhibitors, which represent the core philosophies of Luxperience: Inspiring, Meaningful and Connections. The fourth major award is for the Outstanding Destination.

Participation in the Awards is a two-step process. Firstly, a nomination must be received by the deadline. Nominations are then reviewed by an esteemed panel of judges and those worthy companies or individuals will be asked for a detailed submission. The final submission step is due by 03 August 2018.

These Awards recognise the industry’s endeavours and the evolution of luxury travel while highlighting the shining stars and visionaries of the premium leisure travel and business events markets.

Awards are open to both leisure and business event specialists emphasizing the impact and influence of luxury travel across both segments

The full list of Award Categories:
  • Inspiring Award
  • Meaningful Award
  • Connections Award
  • Outstanding Destination Award

More Awards information and nominations are found here

Luxperience is being held at the ICC Sydney 16-19 September 2018; connecting the world’s most exclusive travel providers dealing in luxury and experiential travel.


Jersey Boys in Rehearsal Ready for Sydney Opening

Jersey Boys. Glaston Toft on right
I was fortunate to attend the first day of rehearsals of Jersey Boys, the hit musical that will open in Sydney in September and then move on to Brisbane and Melbourne. When there I was able to see and hear some of the hit songs that feature in the show.

Jersey Boys tells the true-life story of four guys from the wrong side of the tracks. It brings to the stage the rise to stardom of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, one of the most successful bands in pop music history. Even though they wanted to be taken as a serious band, they soon found themselves to be swamped by millions of adoring teenage fans who idolized them. The band sold more than 175 million records and were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons worldwide hits include many well-known timeless songs such as "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You", "Walk Like a Man", "Bye Bye Baby", "Sherry" and "Big Girl’s Don’t Cry". All of these songs, plus many of their other toe-tapping hits, feature in this musical.

Some of the cast of Jersey Boys
Jersey Boys first came to Australia in 2009 and toured for 4 years to sellout audiences of 1.6 million people. Jersey Boys has won many awards, including the Helpmann Award in 2010 for the Best Musical in Australia. The Jersey Boys movie, directed by Clint Eastwood, was a hit in Australia, where it had the highest box office sales of any country outside North America.  

The 4 leads in this production of Jersey Boys will be Bernard Angel, playing Frankie Valli, Cameron MacDonald as Tommy DeVito, Thomas McGuane as Bob Gaudio and Glaston Toft, reprising his celebrated portrayal of the band’s musical marvel Nick Massi.

When at the rehearsal I was fortunate to have a brief conversation with the producer and one of the stars of the show.

Glaston Toft
Glaston Toft studied Classical Voice at the Queensland Conservatorium and graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2005. He toured for 4 years from 2009 with the Jersey Boys, clocking up more than 1,300 performances. Since then he has appeared in lead roles of many musicals, including the FBI agent Ray Court in The Bodyguard and of Athol Guy in Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical.

He is excited to once again be in Jersey Boys, because of the brilliant story the musical tells about the famous pop band with their joys and struggles of making it to the top. He is also looking forward to the fun he will have with the other actors on tour in this production of the musical. Even at this early period of rehearsal they have bonded together and recognise that while the role of each character is important, it the cast working together on stage as a whole that is also important.

There was a 14 year age gap between the youngest and oldest of the Four Season's. In this production of Jersey Boys, Glaston will be closer to his character Nick Massi's age than when he played him in the first tour. 

Glaston will bring all his acting, singing and dancing skills to the stage to make his character Nick Massi come to life. Each performance will be tiring for Glaston, as each song has its own energetic dance moves. The women in the musical will have to do many costumes changes, but he will have to make quick changes into his different suits for the scenes he is in. To be true to the 50's era, he will need to wear pointy-toed shoes on stage. He is looking forward to getting back into his comfy casual shoes after each performance.

Glaston lives in Melbourne, so will miss his home and friends when the musical is in Sydney and Brisbane, but will appreciate the opportunity to be with his other friends and family who live in those cities.

Rodney Rigby
Australian producer Rodney Rigby is delighted that Jersey Boys is touring Australia once again. He is an Australian who shares his time between Australia and Broadway producing many hit musicals. He is passionate about live theatre and the Aussie way of life. He would love to see Jersey Boys tour to regional Australia, but the logistics of the large cast, technical crew, and complex staging will make this impossible.  

Rodney says this will be the true Jersey Boys show, but with a vibrant (mostly) new cast and energy. He feels that there has been a long enough gap since it first started its 4-year tour of Australia in 2009. Rodney feels those people who saw it before would love to come back and see it again, and there is a whole new audience that has not had the thrill of seeing it who will come along this time. 

Jersey Boys
There is only a limited season of the Jersey Boys in Sydney before it moves onto other capital cities, so get in early to book your seats or you might miss out.


Sydney Season - From September 2018
Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell Street, Haymarket, NSW 2000
Show Times: Tue, Wed, Thur 7:00PM, Fri 8:00PM, Sat 2PM & 8:00PM, Sun 2PM & 6:30PM
Tickets: BOOK NOW
By Phone 1300 558 878